“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

“The corporation is now fundamentally more powerful than the nation-state.”

Profiting off of chaos: How the U.S. privatized its war in Afghanistan — Antony Loewenstein on “Disaster Capitalism”

Journalist Antony Loewenstein tells Salon how corporations exploit violent conflicts in Afghanistan and beyond 

    Profiting off of chaos: How the U.S. privatized its war in Afghanistan — Antony Loewenstein on "Disaster Capitalism"

    “The corporation is now fundamentally more powerful than the nation-state,” writes journalist Antony Loewenstein in his new book “Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe.”

    “Many ongoing crises seem to have been sustained by businesses to fuel industries in which they have a financial stake,” he explains. “Companies that entrench a crisis and then sell themselves as the only ones who can resolve it.”
    Loewenstein, a columnist for the Guardian, traveled the world in order to understand just how multinational corporations profit off of such chaos. The Australian-born yet decidedly cosmopolitan journalist devotes the meticulous and daring tome to reporting on the foreign exploitation he witnessed in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, and the destructive mining boom in Papua New Guinea, along with seemingly dystopian prison privatization in the U.S., predatory for-profit detention centers for refugees in Australia and ruthless austerity in Greece.
    In the book, Loewenstein expertly and effortlessly shows how corporate control of not just the domestic, but rather the global political system has led to a drastic “erosion of democracy.”

    A quote he chooses as the overture sets the tone for the ensuing pages. “It is profitable to let the world go to hell,” warns scholar Jørgen Randers, a professor of climate strategy at Norwegian Business School, while, railing against “the tyranny of the short term.” This quote succinctly summarizes exactly how “disaster capitalism” operates.

    The concept of disaster capitalism is derived from a similar work, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” an influential 2007 book by journalist Naomi Klein. In some ways, “Disaster Capitalism” can be seen as a sequel to Klein’s book, yet Loewenstein’s formidable work stands out in its own right.
    “Disaster Capitalism” bolsters Loewenstein’s growing body of important work. Among his other books are “Profits of Doom: How Vulture Capitalism Is Swallowing the World,” a kind of 2013 prequel to “Disaster Capitalism”; “The Blogging Revolution,” a 2008 investigation of how bloggers around the world challenge their oppressive governments; and the best-selling “My Israel Question,” an exhaustive 2007 account of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, and a profound and intimate exploration of the author’s Jewish identity.
    For his previous books, Loewenstein traveled widely, from Palestine to Iran, from Saudi Arabia to China, from Cuba to Egypt and beyond. For “Disaster Capitalism,” Loewenstein went even further. When Salon contacted him to schedule an interview, the intrepid journalist seemed every time to not only be in a different country, but even on a different continent.

    Salon sat down with the journalist to discuss one of the more explosive controversies he uncovers in his book: how the U.S. war in Afghanistan was privatized.

    Loewenstein spent time in war-torn Afghanistan, as well as neighboring Pakistan, researching for “Disaster Capitalism.” His compelling recounting of his experiences paints a picture of a crisis-stricken world in which virtually everything has been privatized, in which private military companies, or PMCs — 21st-century warlords — exercise more control over countries than their own inhabitants.
    A slew of Western multinational corporations quite familiar to Americans appear throughout the chapter, including Northrop Grumman, DynCorp, Halliburton and more.

    The personal interactions Loewenstein has with military contractors on the ground are some of the most fascinating. A British PMC managing director the journalist met in Kabul, whom he refers to simply as Jack, bluntly admits his corporation “survives off chaos.” Predicting future U.S. wars in Africa, Iran and Korea, the corporate military executive tells Loewenstein, “If we can make money, we’ll go there.”

    “I’m my own government,” Jack boldly declares.

    This is the first in a two-part review of Loewenstein’s reporting in “Disaster Capitalism.” Another piece will be devoted to Loewenstein’s findings in Haiti, a small country that has been virtually taken over by Western NGOs. Loewenstein spoke with Salon about both little-discussed yet tremendously important issues.
    Jack, the British PMC managing director you met in Kabul, said “we don’t call ourselves mercenaries.” Are they mercenaries? Should they be called that?

    Not all private security interests in Afghanistan are mercenaries; many men are just security guards protecting embassies or Western interests. But mercenaries are a little-reported aspect of the war, either directly engaged in killing or capturing suspected insurgents (a key failing of the Western war in the country has been its insistence on designating any opponent of the conflict as “Taliban” and therefore “terrorist”) or training Afghan forces to do the same thing, often inflaming conflicts in local villages.

    You call imperialism “the dirtiest word in modern English” and note, “There is not a country I visited for this book in which the legacy of imperialism does not scar the landscape and people.”
    You also point out that “There were often more contractors than soldiers in Afghanistan.” Jack said it is cheaper for countries to use PMCs than it is to put their own boots on the ground, and declared “I’m my own governmen.

    Do you see this as an outsourcing of imperialism and neo-colonialism, if you will? Is this how war will work in the future?

    The U.S. government, along with its many allies, likes using private assets to further geo-political interests. The initial motivation when invading Afghanistan was revenge for 9/11, but this quickly morphed into a messy project to control the nation and partner with a corrupt central government and warlords across the country.

    The reason I use the term “imperialism” to describe the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and beyond — along with U.S.-backed autocratic partners in the Middle East, South America, Asia and Africa — is that there’s no other way to describe attempts to secure energy reserves and economic influence in the modern age.
    War has always worked this way, but the inclusion of globalized private entities removes one more level of accountability. Today in Afghanistan there are around 30,000 contractors working for the Pentagon alongside the U.S. military and Special Forces. And the Pentagon won’t acknowledge how many soldiers are truly fighting ISIS in Iraq.

    Can you talk more about Afghanistan’s enormous natural resources, the TAPI pipeline, drugs, etc.? This is little discussed. Why do you think that is?

    During both the Soviet and American occupations of Afghanistan, huge discoveries of natural resources occurred. There is an estimated U.S. $1-4 trillion of untapped minerals, oil and gas and yet most of it is unreachable due to security concerns and corruption.

    I have been investigating these issues for my book, and also the documentary in progress, “Disaster Capitalism,” with New York filmmaker Thor Neureiter.
    Natural resources will not sustain Afghanistan after most of the Western aid dries up, and neither the U.S. government nor Afghan authorities have any answers for long-term sustainability (the proposed TAPI pipeline crossing Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Turkmenistan is ambitious but prone to problems).
    Drug cultivation has soared during the U.S. occupation. Too many Western reporters have framed the Afghan war as simply between U.S. forces and the Taliban when in reality Afghanistan has a complex history that never tolerates long-term occupation.

    Can you talk about the “military-enforced bubble” you write about, in which the foreign occupying army is completely out of touch with the locals? An Afghan translator told you the U.S. “only understood force.”

    A constant refrain I heard in Afghanistan, during my visits there in 2012 and 2015, was the inability and unwillingness of U.S. and foreign forces to listen to the Afghan people. It’s one reason the U.S. relied on faulty intelligence to understand what Afghans were thinking about their presence.

    As the security situation deteriorated after 2004-2005, and U.S. forces falsely framed any Afghan who opposed the occupation as Taliban, the U.S. used a failed counterinsurgency program (designed by David Petraeus and Australian David Kilcullen) that inflamed Afghans.

    There has never been accountability for this plan, including by the countless Western journalists seduced by U.S. military talking points.

    You talk about the relationships between the U.S. military, USAID, and private companies and say “military and humanitarian work were all too often fused in the post-9/11 world.” Can you expand?

    A key component of USAID in the post 9/11 world is using the military to deliver its goals. This fundamentally misunderstands the importance of maintaining neutrality when delivering aid. The U.S. government’s SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) regularly reports on the U.S. $110 billion spent in Afghanistan on so-called nation building since October 2001, and how USAID was regularly used as a mask for a corporate and military agenda across the country.

    Where else is the private security industry growing?

    The definition of private security is expanding to include the growth of private armies in often unregulated and chaotic places (from Iraq to Afghanistan and Libya to Syria). South African mercenaries were working in Nigeria against Boko Haram and Colombian forces operated in Yemen thanks to the United Arab Emirates.

    You write “the Bush administration saw its ‘war on terror’ as a boon for the private sector.” Could you expand a bit more, and talk furthermore about how the Obama administration has done the same?

    Post 9/11, the Bush administration saw an opportunity to implement an extreme neoconservative agenda with the support of its friends in the private sector. They claimed it would save money and be more efficient but the reality was uncontrolled mercenaries and private security in countless war zones.

    When Barack Obama was a candidate for President in 2007, he pledged to change this out-of-control contracting since 9/11. However, nothing has improved since he took office due to a number of factors including failing campaign finance laws and Congressional inertia to punish corporations breaking the law.

    You conclude the chapter saying, “we created chaos.” What do you think the legacy is of the now 15-year U.S. occupation, especially now, with the rise of ISIS and the resurgence of the Taliban?

    The Taliban now control more of Afghanistan than at any time since October 2001. President Obama has now pledged to maintain an indefinite occupation and the U.S. military claims U.S. forces will need to stay in the country for decades to support a failing Afghan state.

    The presence of ISIS only complicates the picture, especially for Afghan civilians.
    The longest war in U.S. history has not achieved any of its stated goals and the Afghan people, often forced to choose between the Taliban and a U.S.-backed warlord, often pick the former. That’s the legacy of the U.S. war.


    1. REPEAT:

      The Taliban now control more of Afghanistan than at any time since October 2001. President Obama has now pledged to maintain an indefinite occupation and the U.S. military claims U.S. forces will need to stay in the country for decades to support a failing Afghan state.

      The presence of ISIS only complicates the picture, especially for Afghan civilians.

      The longest war in U.S. history has not achieved any of its stated goals and the Afghan people, often forced to choose between the Taliban and a U.S.-backed warlord, often pick the former.

      That’s the legacy of the U.S. war.

    2. Trump and Sanders, more-so Trump, is doing a profound public service exposing Clinton and the Bush family for the calamity caused by the Iraq War and the consequences since. It is more truth than many can handle.

    3. It's an Islamic country. They don't change easy. Has one ever changed ?

      I'm still waiting Quirk's report with numerical values calculating the human suffering over the next 1400 years of the various options, most especially being interested in seeing the numbers for the suffering of the women.

      Less human suffering might occur under the 'erase and replace with Swiss' option.

      We just won't know until Quirk gets back to us with his numbers.

      Then we can have a serious discussion concerning the best options.

      Meanwhile I got a doc's appointment.

      1. .

        Ask her to up your meds, increase the Paxil and perhaps double the lithium.


      2. .

        By repeating the post above, you continue to prove yourself the fool not to mention the buffoon.

        Your reference the other day to utilitarianism confirms the diagnosis.


    4. A Middle Eastern/South Asian country with no oil (Syria/Afghanistan) is, ultimately, of no interest.

      Iraq is consequential.

      1. Strikes in Syria

        Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 10 strikes in Syria:

        -- Near Abu Kamal, six strikes struck an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL headquarters, three ISIL weapons storage facilities and an ISIL barracks.

        -- Near Hasakah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL building.

        -- Near Raqqah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

        -- Near Hawl, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying three ISIL buildings and damaging a separate ISIL building.

        Strikes in Iraq

        Rocket artillery and fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

        -- Near Baghdadi, a strike destroyed seven ISIL rocket rails and an ISIL weapons cache.

        -- Near Qaim, nine strikes struck an ISIL improvised explosive device facility, an ISIL logistics facility, an ISIL staging area, two ISIL internet cafes, two ISIL headquarters and an ISIL media headquarters.

        -- Near Fallujah, a strike destroyed two ISIL vehicles, two ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL bunker.

        -- Near Kirkuk, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL weapons cache and three ISIL fighting positions.

        -- Near Mosul, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL bunker.

        -- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL front-end loader.

        -- Near Sinjar, two strikes destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

        -- Near Tal Afar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL bunker.

      2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      3. .

        Every building hit by a coalition strike will be reported as an ISIS building.

        Every vehicle hit by a coalition strike will be reported as an ISIS vehicle.

        Every road cratered by a coalition strike will be reported as an ISIS road.


      4. Rufus you stated your hatred for the vile Israelis for killing palestinian children, then you said it's Jews like me that that caused Europeans to go insane and commit genocide against the Jews.

        America, a mostly european nation, is bombing arabs, which include Fakistinians, why do you cheerlead their bombing?

        The arabs of Judea and Samaria are Arabs. They have clans they belong to. Now your blogging friend jack/Rat, you and Deuce claim that the Jews of Israel are fake and colonizers.

        And yet you don't think being one who delegitimized BOTH Israel and the Jewish people's historic and modern rights to self determination is acceptable and my calling the Palestinians people "fakistinians" akin to a war crime....

        So continue with your daily bombing reports and your daily failure to report the civilians killed by America including those who you hold so dear, the Fakistinians.....

    5. .

      A Middle Eastern/South Asian country with no oil (Syria/Afghanistan) is, ultimately, of no interest.

      Then why are we still there 15 years on?


      1. This was from the man who cried and pled "help the poor yazidis on mount Sinjar"

      2. ... 15 years on?

        There is an estimated U.S. $1-4 trillion of untapped minerals, oil and gas
        ... the U.S. “only understood force.
        ... Drug cultivation has soared during the U.S. occupation.


      3. New data released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that heroin use increased 63% between 2002 and 2013

        2002 to 2013, just coincidentally, is the period of the US occupation of Afghanistan and the increase in opium production, there.

      4. .

        I'm not quite sure what your point is, rat, but I suspect you missed the sarcasm in my comment.



      5. Those are just three of the reasons, mentioned in the article, the US remains in Afghanistan ...15 years on.

        Without a little smiley face, given the nature of the atmosphere, it is hard to tell when you are being serious or sarcastic.

        I do think, seriously, your advice to Boobie is justifiable.

        Ask her to up your meds, increase the Paxil and perhaps double the lithium.

      6. .

        Obviously, I'm wrong; however, I would have thought that my constant rants against all of the occupations we have indulged in and continue to indulge in over the past 15 years would have been sufficient to provide a clue as to my meaning.


      7. .

        I will try to go back to the smiley face (or some variation) in the future.



      8. I realize that you do not think that continued occupation of Afghanistan by the US is a 'good thing'.
        I also have noted your continued ranting on the subject. These things are perfectly clear, it was not clear that you did not understand why the US has remained in Afghanistan, well past the point of any reasonable 'return on investment' from an ideological perspective.

        Follow the money, Q.
        The real deal of historical worth, as seen in the history of the Russell Company, its connection to the Delano family and the Bush's fraternity at Yale...

        Old habits die hard.

      9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. We do, of course, have to hunt down, and kill, the ISIS.

      And, Ash, in case you haven't noticed, Sinjar is in IRAQ.

      1. The operative concept regarding the Yazidi is intervention for humanitarian purposes as opposed to location. And why do you think that hunting down and killing "the ISIS" is so important?

    7. If the Kurds and Syrian Army can cut the Islamic State's oil transport route to Israel, through turkey, the neocons will be in an even greater frenzy than they already are.

      Syria: How one strip of land could change everything

      The Assad regime has fiercely moved in to the south of the area, cutting off the supply route into Aleppo. Then in the past few days, the Syrian Kurds have moved east out of Afrin, the enclave north of Aleppo that they had peacefully stayed in for years, and quickly taken territory from moderate Syrian rebels.

      On Monday night a leader with the Syrian moderates told CNN that the Syrian Kurds had taken Tal Rifaat, a vital town to the south of Azaz. This means they only have to advance mere kilometres east before they reach the frontlines against ISIS that the Syrian moderate rebels have fought to defend for months. As of Tuesday afternoon, reports were emerging the Syrian Kurds had struck a deal to enter the key town on that frontline -- Marea -- without a fight.
      One of the Syrian moderate rebels told CNN that it believed the Syrian Kurds were getting arms from the Russian and regime forces to their south. The rebel, who has strong ties to the U.S., told CNN: "We have strong evidence that [they] are coordinating with the Russians, who have been providing a lot of support.

      "Counterfeit Bob" has moved from a supporter of the Kurds to finding them and their alliance with Assad and the Russians 'repugnant' as they battle against the Islamic State, Turkey and Israel.

      1. Israel's Hushed Military Ties With Russia Now Paying Off
        While U.S. gives Russia the cold shoulder in Syria, Kremlin's ties with Israel grow warm.

        read more:

        Once again, the Jack "rat" Hawkins is wrong....

      2. No, not at all.
        The Israeli have been profiting from the 'conflict oil' that has been flowing through Syria, into Turkey and on to Israel. It is refined in Israel then sold on the world market.

        The US allowed this trade, the Russians pulled the plug, in a big way, destroying the tanker trucks that were instrumental in shipping the 'conflict oil'.

        The the Israeli are trying to snuggle up to the Russians, par for the course, it certainly fits the Zionist MO.


      3. To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.
        George Santayana

      4. Jack you are getting funnier by the day..

        I guess you didn't KNOW that Assad was dealing with ISIS, Russia was dealing with ISIS and Turkey was dealing with ISIS over oil...

        I guess you should say they are the one's dealing in "conflict" oil....


        As for snuggling? Russia is VERY interested is Israeli technology...

        And now that the USA is cutting monies for Israeli missile systems America will not have a veto over who israel sells it to.

        You see Jack "the checker man" Hawkins, When the USA invested in a specific Israeli system they liked? Part of the condition of the INVESTMENT was that the USA could demand that Israel not sell it to anyone the USA wished...

        But when you remove yourself from the funding?

        Israeli's superior technologies go on the market.....


      5. Israeli mercenaries, nothing new to that.

    8. ObamaCare: How Is It Doing?

      There have been three very surprising things with respect to Obamacare implementation so far.
      The first is the surge in enrollment in employer-sponsored insurance. The fear was that people and employers would find the coverage offered on the exchanges irresistible, and that there would be a great deal of disruptive churn as the exchanges started up. The penalty for large employers who did not offer health insurance was constructed to guard against this. Yet it seems to have been needless. The appearance of the exchange option appears to have led to more rather than fewer employers offering insurance.

      You've gotta see this chart:

      {Chart: Percentage of Workers Covered by Employer Health Insurance }

      This is a problem for economists: alternatives are supposed to be at most irrelevant, and certainly their appearance is not supposed to lead to more people voting with their feet for something that was always there. This is a victory for psychologists and sociologists, who if they did not predict this consequence are at least unsurprised by it. The implementation of Obama care thanks health insurance more salient in workers’ minds, and so more highly valued. This shift in valuation induces more employers to offer it as they try to find their compensation sweet spot.

      1. The second surprising thing is the failure of national health expenditures to rise as ObamaCare has been implemented more rapidly than was projected in the baseline. There was, everyone agreed, a great deal of pent-up demand for medical care from people who had been unable to get affordable insurance. When this wave hit, everybody expected, spending would surge--especially as, while ObamaCare did a great deal to expand demand for medical services, it did little to expand supply. The initial surge would, people thought, eventually ebb. But the ebb would leave national health spending on a higher trajectory: people who had not had access to affordable medical care would have it, and they would use it.
        The hope of ObamaCare’s advocates was that a system with near-universal coverage would be a more rational and more cost-conscious system. Rather than treating patients and then scrambling for someone with deep pockets who could be made to pay not only their own but others’ bills, a rational calculus of treatment costs and benefits would become at least possible. And, down the road, this plus increased competition would bend the cost curve—and, if not, then whatever additional regulatory steps would turn out to be necessary would be taken.

        But the cost curve bent itself.

        The cost curve bent itself before Obamacare implementation even began.
        And the bending of the cost curve continues. Some attributes the bending to the lesser depression and to a consequently poor society.

      2. As a full explanation, this seems highly strained. Once again, it looks like a victory for the psychologists and the sociologists. The public debate around ObamaCare raised the salience of cost control, of avoiding overtreatment, and of being good stewards of what might be increasingly limited medical care resources in a context in which more people were able to draw on those resources.
        All in all: a substantial surprise for us economists. Perhaps we should be cast down from our high seats in the Ttmple of policy analysis?
        And there is, of course, the third surprising thing about ObamaCare implementation.
        The unreliable rumor on the street is that when Chief Justice Roberts decided to rewrite the Affordable Care Act from the bench—lawlessly, in a technical sense: in a manner with no support in president, law, or the Constitution—Roberts and his clerks thought that they were throwing Americas right wing a bone, but a nothingburger bone. The money to finance Medicaid expansion was more than free to the states: everybody who could do the arithmetic knew that as the federal government paid for the Medicaid expansion, other ancillary draws on state treasuries would decline, leaving states in a better fiscal position. One-third of the Medicaid expansion money would provide more employment in healthcare, as people without affordable access to medical care gained it. One-third would beef up the shaky finances of those healthcare providers who do treat Americas poor. And one-third would flow into the medical industrial complex which would no longer be informally taxed to pay for services that the federal government was now willing to pay for.
        How could you turn this down?
        Unless, that is, you are a psychopath or a madman for whom treating the poor and paying those who do treat the poor is a minus, Medicaid expansion was and is a no-brainer.
        And even if you are a madman and a psychopath, you are also a politician. You draw heavily upon the medical-industrial complex for your campaign contributions. Would you seek to anger the MIC over real money, for nothing except . . . . . . . . . .

        Brad DeLong dot com

    9. Despite his best efforts, Bibi will not be able to stop Palestine from becoming a free and independent state.

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday characterized as “surprising” a French peace initiative that calls for an international conference, and – if that fails – recognition by Paris of a Palestinian state.

      Speaking in Berlin at a press conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu said it was surprising for the French to say in advance they would recognize a Palestinians state if the peace conference fails ...

      That Bibi is surprised, means he does not read.


      1. Instead of castigating him because there is no peace, something that he never promised, we should be asking the prime minister: Where the hell is the security you promised?

      2. Bibi has tried and failed to help the fakistianins to have a free and independent state.

        You see Jack? You cannot make a jackass a horse no matter how much your try..

        And the Fakistinians are more interested in murdering Jews than having freedom...

        Too bad... So sad.. And as for nations of the world recognizing "palestine"? Already has happened..

        But it's really meaningless since having a state A real one? Requires one to have several things...

        Like currency, control of borders, control of armed militias..

        No Palestine is a stillborn mess..

        Even if the French recognize it as a nation...


      3. To claim that Bibi has tried to help anyone but Bibi is an out right lie.

        Your comedic talents are, once more, falling short, "O"rdure.

      4. Jack "I am a self confessed killer of civilians in Central America" Hawkins

        In America and in English the word you are trying to use is "outright"....

        Your English skills are, once more, falling short.

    10. Blah, blah

      Blah blah blah blah


      BLAH !

      The above is a photocopy of what you boys have said so far today.

      Meanwhile, my doc reports I'm healthy as a horse, will live to be 200 and am in, what he called, High Clover.

      Blood pressure was perfect, too.


      1. Don't you take your own blood pressure, "Counterfeit Bob"?

        Or do you fail that part of the competency test, too?

      2. Quart's Human Suffering Calculator must be down,

        I don't see he's put any figures to the problems out there, yet, so we'll just have to give him some time.

        Without quantifying these sufferings there is no use in trying to talk about how best to lower human suffering and finally getting rid of it as much as is possible.

        We don't even know where to start, nor what particular tactic to use...

        So I wait on Quart....


      3. You really should monitor your own blood pressure, "Counterfeit Bob", it is an important part of limiting the long term costs to the Federal health care welfare system that your life represents.

      4. He'd have to spend 70 bucks to buy a monitor - why waste all that money when he can get the doc to do it for him?

    11. Jack ass aka Dead Beat Dad is stalking me again, right off.

      It never fails.

      Time to tune in Fox...

      Guy is a sicko.


      1. Who is this new character named 'Guy', Counterfeit Bob"?

    12. WiO's comments not included in the above criticism.

    13. U.S. Had Cyberattack Plan if Iran Nuclear Dispute Led to Conflict

      BERLIN — In the early years of the Obama administration, the United States developed an elaborate plan for a cyberattack on Iran in case the diplomatic effort to limit its nuclear program failed and led to a military conflict, according to a forthcoming documentary film and interviews with military and intelligence officials involved in the effort.

      The plan, code named Nitro Zeus, was designed to disable Iran’s air defenses, communications systems and key parts of its power grid, and was shelved, at least for the foreseeable future, after the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six other nations last summer was fulfilled.

      Nitro Zeus was part of an effort to assure President Obama that he had alternatives, short of a full-scale war, if Iran lashed out at the United States or its allies in the region. At its height, officials say, the planning for Nitro Zeus involved thousands of American military and intelligence personnel, spending tens of millions of dollars and placing electronic implants in Iranian computer networks to “prepare the battlefield,” in the parlance of the Pentagon.

      1. The United States military develops contingency plans for all kinds of possible conflicts, such as a North Korean attack on the South, loose nuclear weapons in South Asia or uprisings in Africa or Latin America. Most sit on the shelf, and are updated every few years. But this one took on far greater urgency, in part because White House officials believed there was a good chance that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel would decide to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the United States would be drawn into the hostilities that followed.

        While the Pentagon was making those preparations, American intelligence agencies developed a separate, far more narrowly focused cyberplan to disable the Fordo nuclear enrichment site, which Iran built deep inside a mountain near the city of Qum. The attack would have been a covert operation, which the president can authorize even in the absence of an ongoing conflict.

      2. Fordo has long been considered one of the hardest targets in Iran, buried too deep for all but the most powerful bunker-buster in the American arsenal. The proposed intelligence operation would have inserted a computer “worm” into the facility with the aim of frying Fordo’s computer systems — effectively delaying or destroying the ability of Iranian centrifuges to enrich uranium at the site. It was intended as a follow-up to “Olympic Games,” the code name of a cyberattack by the United States and Israel, which destroyed 1,000 centrifuges and temporarily disrupted production at Natanz, a far larger but less protected enrichment site.

        Under the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran, two-thirds of the centrifuges inside Fordo have been removed in recent months, along with all nuclear material. The facility is banned from any nuclear-related work and is being converted to other uses, eliminating the threat that prompted the attack plan, at least for the next 15 years.

        The development of the two secret programs suggest how seriously the Obama administration was . . . . . . . . .

        NY Times

      3. All the old inoperable centrifuges having been removed, Fordo is now making Depends and Pampers, the production floor has been turned to that task. I read it in some New York newspaper.

        Dead Beat Dad wanted to know why I did not take my own blood pressure readings. The answer is I was going to a clinic for a checkup, and the clinic wants to be secure in their own readings, and history of readings, as they can be sued if they get things wrong.

        This applies to heart rate, CO2 level, body weight, all sorts of things, the list can go on for pages.

        If they were to prescribe a patient blood pressure medication for low blood pressure based on faulty readings some patient brought in,for instance, and the patient died, they could find themselves immediately in court looking into the eyes of some ambulance chasing lawyer.

        And that is the reason they insist on taking their own blood pressure readings.

        It has occurred to me, much more often than normally lately, that many people around here are either dumb as stumps, or pretending to be so, and actually doing a pretty good job of it.

        rat Dad obviously has defects that a clinic should take a look at.....many here have said so.

        He needs a complete medical checkup......physical, mental, emotional, and psychological.

        He should definitely not depend on himself, or any home remedies.


      4. "Counterfeit Bob", who is 'Guy'?

      5. the funny thing?

        We don't KNOW what we don't know..

        So the sites that are not KNOWN or at least not known to the general public are in fact in violation of the treaty, but Obama and company KNOW that they will not do anything that would cause a hot war.

        They will allow Iran, and the undisclosed sites (to the general public, and yes I know they have them) to continue until it reaches a critical stage.

        i suggest that there will be an explosion, one of immense scale, that will be described as a "foundry" accident...

        It will be one of these sites being taken out..


        The treaty is a hand job.

        The good news? There are powers at be will NOT allow Iran to go hot..

      6. "O"rdure, you have admited that you are always wrong, and you are... again

        What is "Occupation" Fri Sep 05, 08:00:00 AM EDT

        The bear took out airstrips in georgia that israel was going to use for an attack on iran..

        My prediction:

        Israel will attack using long range unmanned drones & missiles on command and control, nuke sites, israel will use select airwing assets to deliver bunker busters..

        Israel will hold most of it's idf airwing for attacks on long & medium range rockets in gaza, lebanon, syria and iran)

        I feel (and i am almost always wrong) that this will happen right after ramadamamadong is over

        That was in 2008, unlike a broken clock, you are never right.

      7. Wow, so something from 6 years ago makes your headline news?


        Shit happens, and who would have thought in 2008 that Obama would have become such an agent for Iran has he has...

        Thanks to Wikileaks we have learned that Obama has in fact halts and threatened Israel to KEEP them from attacking...

        As for never right?


        I called you a pathological liar, a criminal...

        and for that i am always correct.

      8. What is funny is that just yesterday or the day before you were clamoring that I was a fraud, replacing the original "What is Occupation" now you claim I am for real...

        Flip flop, wiggle wiggle..

    14. South Carolina voters ponder: Is Jeb Bush related to that other guy?

      A new staple of this year's national election coverage is the use of Google or Twitter traffic to judge "interest" in each candidate during their televised debates. I'm skeptical of just how much can be gleaned from such things, but every once in a while they turn in a curious nugget.

      According to Google Trends data, it wasn’t so much Bush’s policy experience that people were interested in.

      The top trending question asked about him in South Carolina was, “Is Jeb Bush related to George W. Bush?”

      So of the people tuning into the debate, in South Carolina, just before their own primary, took a good long look at Jeb Bush and thought to themselves—Wait, is he related to that other guy?

      Several things, here. First: Is it good news or bad news for Jeb Bush that people aren't sure if he's related to George? On the one hand, being scion of the Bush family tree is the reason Jeb Bush has a political career in the first place; on the other hand, until recently he's tried his level best to downplay his bond with the Worst President Ever and his policies.

      Second, this is why it is so tiring when politicians spout hoary lines about how the American people want this or the American people demand that, or when pundits write columns about what the public should think and everyone appears on television with everybody else during the Sunday shows and applaud one another for the fine points they are making and how influential they are. The American people don't know who any of you people are. I would suggest that number of persons in the general, nonprofessionally political public who have ever been truly swayed by a Fred Hiatt or David Brooks column is roughly the same number of people who are killed by stray golf balls in Florida each year.

      Here we've got the hard-campaigning son of one of the few presidential dynasties in America, the brother of the last sitting president and the governor of a populous state, and the American public aren't quite sure who this low-energy fellow is. He looks familiar, though. Maybe he was on television?

      Mind you, the people watching the debate and looking to the internet to answer their debate-eve questions are the ones who want to be informed, and even they're stumped as to the most basic facts about the people they're supposed to be voting for. This is good news for ... hmm. Nope, I can't think of why this would be good news for anyone.

      Hunter - Daily Kos


      1. No one knows Jeb!

        He's just an empty suit with a worn out label.

    15. Exactly why we need literacy tests for voting, especially in the Southern States, like Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and the rest.

      There are even some people in Mississippi who will vote for known Criminals they are so stupid. They show there total lack of respect for the Office of President of the United States by even thinking of doing so.

    16. Meanwhile Hillary is trying to woo voters by using an Al Sharpton accent, and barking like a dog.

      This tactic appeals to the type of voter mentioned directly above.

      It wouldn't play in the suburbs of Detroit, say, where the voters know their right hands from their left hands, or in Philly, either, where a fake Al Sharpton accent used by a white might lead to an immediate knock out game occurrence.

    17. The #4 Trending Jeb Bush question was:

      What Political Party is Jeb Bush?


      1. With his continual barrage of negative ads, focusing on Trump and Rubio, one would suppose he is a Democrat.

    18. .

      I realize that you do not think that continued occupation of Afghanistan by the US is a 'good thing'. I also have noted your continued ranting on the subject. These things are perfectly clear, it was not clear that you did not understand why the US has remained in Afghanistan, well past the point of any reasonable 'return on investment' from an ideological perspective.

      Follow the money, Q.

      The real deal of historical worth, as seen in the history of the Russell Company, its connection to the Delano family and the Bush's fraternity at Yale...

      Old habits die hard.

      Sorry, I'm missing your point, rat.

      Rufus states that Afghanistan (the same as Syria) is of no real interest to us.

      I state sarcastically (or snarkily if you like) why the heck are we there then?

      You offer up reasons that make my point, rise of drug cultivation and the US' emphasis on force as the answer to every problem.

      You mention the resource potential in Afghanistan but, while I haven't checked lately, early on it was foreign countries that were making the deals on those resources.

      The only thing that I can agree with is your last comment, Old habits die hard.

      That's true. Another thing that I constantly rant on is US incompetence; politically, militarily, and drug policies. Afghanistan is no better now than in 2001. We have spent $8 billion trying to eradicate the drug trade alone. Not to mention the loss of lives, treasure, reputation and respect.

      Afghanistan simply follows the pattern we have followed throughout the ME for the past 15 years and the question remains what the heck are we still doing there.

      The first time I asked the question, I was being sarcastic. Now, not so much.


      1. Q, we must kill "The Taliban" and we must kill "The ISIS" - right Galopn2?

      2. I think that we have to "kill the ISIS."

        You'll have to convince me as regards the Taliban.

      3. Again, I ask, why must we kill ISIS?

      4. I'm not going to argue with you, Ash. You're not involved. You're Canadian, and Canada has dropped out of the fight.

        Bless your heart.

        Obama perceives ISIS as a threat, and is committed to killing them. I'm pretty sure the next President is going to agree, and continue the eradication.

        As I said, I think that's a good thing.

        You obviously don't. But then, you're Canadian, so who cares?

      5. You are dodging the question. Why? Is that the best answer you can come up with 'because Obama says so'? Pretty damn weak. It puts you right at the same level of intellectual as boobie.

      6. I'm not dodging the question; I think ISIS is a serious danger to the United States, and I've said for some time that we will have to kill them.

        I could write pages of reasons as to why I feel this way, but it wouldn't make any difference. You're not about to change your mind, and I type proficiently enough that I don't need the practice.

        I'll tell you the same thing I told wio, "go bother someone else."


      7. I would say, Q, that the US is more interested in expanding the opium business in Afghanistan than curtailing it.

        Opium is a historic moneymaker for the oligarchy here in the US.
        FDR's grandfather was the CEO of the largest opium trader in the world, back in the day ...
        The opium trade is what established Yale University and funded the trusts that sustained it. The Bush family legacy is grounded in opium, it funded their fraternity.

        I could reference the 'Golden Triangle' from the Vietnam era, or the use of drug running to fund the Contras, or the cooperation of the Bush administration with the Sinaloa Cartel.

        Follow the money ... and it is big bucks.

    19. If we wish to reduce the amount of human suffering in the world, Ash, the answer seems easy enough- yes we should do so.

      But we need think of repercussions, and other such matters, Ash, and if there will be any how many and for how long.

      That is why we need Quirk's Human Suffering calculator to spit out its numbers and formulii.

      I know he has such a calculator because he acted for a long time on these pages as if he, Quirk, Quirk of Detroit, was the only one here with human feelings, and he was always saying things like you are a warmonger or you are a nitwit for wanting to put in place a safe zone, or no fly zone, or move troops here and there, or some such.

      Oh, he is tuned to human suffering alright, and he must share his calculator so the rest of us know what to do, what actions and whom to support in all contingencies.

      1. .

        You continue to put this silliness up and I've responded a couple of times before; therefore, to save time, I'll simply re-post what I posted above...

        QuirkTue Feb 16, 01:54:00 PM EST


        By repeating the post above, you continue to prove yourself the fool not to mention the buffoon.

        Your reference the other day to utilitarianism confirms the diagnosis.


      2. If I missed your reply, Quirk, I humbly apologize.

        I often leave and when I come back I only scan rapidly, and if rat's ass is around I often just skip the whole deal.

        I still don't see no actual answer though.

        And no figures.

        You're the guy that has come over as super compassionate.....tell us exactly what to do then, give us some figures, and not just for tomorrow.

        I am making a much better argument here than you are willing to admit, because if you admit it you admit also you have zero real reasons for your outlooks.

        I got you by the balls and you don't like it.


      3. "Counterfeit Bob", the man who now thinks that the Kurds and their primary allies are 'repugnant', while singing the praises of the Islamic State's primary financier.

        You have no balls to be got by.

      4. The flow of 'conflict oil' from Syria to Israel has been plugged by the Russians, Kurd militias and Syrian Army.
        The Islamic State is already feeling the economic pain caused the end of the Israeli funding of their caliphate.

        ISIS, facing cash shortage, cuts back on perks and salaries

        Those circumstances include the dramatic drop in global prices for oil — once a key source of income — airstrikes that have targeted cash stores and oil infrastructure, supply line cuts, and crucially, the Iraqi government's decision to stop paying civil servants in territory controlled by the extremists.

        A Russian-backed Syrian government offensive in Aleppo province, where ISIS controls major towns including Manbij, Jarablus and al-Bab, is also putting pressure on ISIS. Government troops and allied militiamen have advanced toward the town, considered an ISIS bastion, leading many militants to send their families to Raqqa.

        An exile from al-Bab said low-level fighters there have begun to grumble, and townspeople have overheard Islamic State officials discussing crippling airstrikes on oil infrastructure in Syria and Iraq and the cutoff of supply lines and revenue sources.

        The Russians and Syrian Army, along with the Kurds are closing the Turkish border, stemming the flow of 'conflict oil' to Israel is taking effect, and it has only been four months since the start of the Russians application of the Rat Doctrine


      5. "You can sense the frustration, their morale is down," Oussama said of the fighters.

      6. .

        It's all been put up before, Idaho Bob.

        Too long to duplicate and surely you wouldn't expect me to go back and find the post. If you are really interested, good hunting.

        However, the most critical comment I had was on the whole premise of your initial post and the fact that you offered it up as an example of utilitarianism as if that were a good thing. Thus, my characterization of you as a fool and a buffoon.

        As for you having my balls, please let them go. You are getting saliva all over them.


    20. If O'bozo nominates someone to the Supreme Court before his terms ends, which it seems he will do, the Republicans should go a-Borking.


    21. "O"rdure tells us that the Israeli will be selling nifty new military technologies to the Russians ...

      Who will the provide them to Iran.

      President Vladimir Putin meets Iranian defense minister in Moscow

      In a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s defense minister Hossein Dehgan talked about strengthen military cooperation between the two countries.

      The topics discussed at the meeting were about the delivery of advanced S-300 air defense systems. The purchase of powerful weapons including tanks and jet fighters were also addressed in the conference.

      Iran’s defense minister Hossein Dehgan also met his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. Sergei assured that Russia and Iran are ready to cooperate on regional and global issues.
      Iran’s military has the goal to buy Russia’s most capable tank, the T-90, as well as the modern Su-30 Flanker fighter jets, said Dehgan. Iran is also interested in Russia’s Bastion mobile defense system, which is equipped with supersonic anti-ship missiles and a whole crew of Mi-8/17 helicopters.

      Those Israeli, they certainly know how to shoot themselves in the foot.

    22. Come and see how THOUSAND of individuals like YOU are working for a LIVING by staying home and are living their dreams right NOW.