Events in the previous few weeks have shown, with unusual clarity, that the conflict between N.Korea and USA which started in 1950 is still ongoing. While it is true that there has been no large-scale fighting between the N.Korea and USA (or its proxy S. Korea) since an armistice was signed in 1954, it is fair to say that things have never gone to back to normal in that part of the world. Between the annual military exercises by S. Korea and USA and counter mobilizations by N. Korea, the situation in that part of the world is still potentially volatile, and has been so for a long time. It certainly does not help that leaders of all countries involved have a habit of speaking past each other.
While it is highly unlikely that either N. Korea or S. Korea will ever resume that war on their own accord, persistent meddling by USA in that part of the world (as in many others) make it far more likely than otherwise. As many of you also know, such an event would be disastrous for both N. Korea, S. Korea and potentially Japan- basically all involved countries within the range of older and well-tested N. Korean nuclear tipped missiles. Even the USA would not be able to come out well, since any use of nukes by USA would ensure that every country capable of building nuclear weapons would do so immediately. To put it another way, such a war would be an epic disaster on multiple levels and for all parties involved.
But have you ever asked yourself- how did things in that part of the world get so crazy in the first place? Why did the Korean war start and why did countries such as USA, China, Russia and many others get involved in it? But perhaps most importantly.. why was USA unable to win the Korean war just a few years after it was able to win WW2 against Japan and to a lesser extent against Germany?
To better understand the many reasons USA was unable to win the Korean war in the 1950s, it is necessary to first appreciate that the Korean war was the beginning of the end for white-majority countries being able to dominate the rest of the world via military force. It is no exaggeration to say the “west” has never since been able to win against a determined and mobilized non-white adversary since that time. But why not? Was it because the “west” became softer and more humane.. or any other bullshit reasons peddled by CONservatives and other assorted jingoistic idiots in USA?
Let us look at facts about the Korean war as they have been acknowledged by official sources in USA. It is known, for example that USA dropped more tons of bombs on N. Korea during early stages of Korean war than they did on Japan during the entirety of WW2. It is also a fact that USA bombed and destroyed every building in almost every single N. Korean city. It is also a fact that bombing by USA killed somewhere between a third and fifth of the N. Korean population. Here is an article with a slightly longer explanation of what USA did in the Korean war.
In other words, the inability of USA to win the Korean war was not due to it being ‘soft’ or ‘humane’. In fact, USA did something lost the Vietnam war in spite of doing something similar in Vietnam and Cambodia during the war. Another more recent example of this phenomenon is the USA losing the Iraq war even after directly and indirectly killing over a million Iraqis between 1991 and today.
So, why was the USA unable to win the Korean war? There was certainly no shortage of bombs, aircraft, tanks, soldiers, guns or even large staging areas and bases close to the theater of conflict. Yet, for reasons I shall get into soon, the best they could achieve was an armistice where the new boundary between the two Koreas was almost identical to the pre-war one. Why didn’t bombing N.Korea heavily in the first few months of war and killing people at higher percentages than in Germany and Japan during WW2 translate into a decisive military victory? Why did the military strategy behind american success in WW2 fail so quickly after that war was over? And why has it subsequently failed and in every war since then?
Well.. here are the reasons, in no particular order, behind the inability of USA and other western countries to win a war against non-white countries since the end of WW2. Regular readers of my blog might realize that some of my older posts have briefly touched on a couple of them.
1] Wars in which the local population of a country or region have a personal stake are very different from wars pursued by elites in those countries. For example, Saddam Hussein’s habit of promoting his own ethnic group in Iraq and getting into unwinnable wars with huge human costs had greatly diminished his popularity among most Iraqis a few years before 1991. That is why the Iraqi armed forces gave up fighting and mass-deserted so readily in 1991 and 2003. Contrast this to the unremitting armed resistance by Iraqis (especially Sunni Arabs) to american occupation from 2003 onward which were only temporarily suppressed between 2007-2009 by bribing Iraqis on a massive scale to not kill american soldiers.
My point is that, the Korean war was largely seen by the local population (especially in N.Korea) as an attempt to reintegrate the country and expel foreigners who had humiliated and almost enslaved them for a couple of generations. In case you do not know what I am talking about.. read a bit about all the wonderful stuff that went on in Korea under Japanese rule between 1910 and 1945. Koreans had, and have, every right to be angry about their treatment under Japanese colonization. Perhaps more importantly, the post-1945 occupation by USA of southern regions of Korea and their multiple attempts to install puppet governments within a short period while making no attempt to help rebuild the country made them look just like the previous Japanese colonizers of that country.
It is therefore no surprise that Kim Il-Sung and his followers had far less trouble convincing his own people to fight foreign occupiers of their country than getting China and Russia to provide military and other assistance for doing so. In many ways, this situation is very similar to what occurred in Vietnam a decade or two later. While we can certainly argue about whether the elder Kim was a “good guy” or “bad guy” it is clear that he had extensive popular support within the northern half of Korea in the early 1950s. In other words, the Korean war was about USA fighting an entire people rather than a system of governance- like they had in Germany and Japan.
2] The american strategy of leveling N. Korean cities by massive aerial bombing was ineffective and supremely counterproductive. As mentioned previously in this post, the USAF was involved in bombing N. Korean cities on a massive scale in the first few months of the war. However, unlike in Germany and Japan during WW2, massive and indiscriminate bombing of cities was not effective in disrupting the N. Korean war effort- largely because all their supplies and weapons were coming in from adjacent countries such as China and Russia. These mass bombing raids did, however, make many more N. Koreans willing to fight to the bitter end. To put it another way, mass bombing of cities and heavy casualties made it impossible for N. Korea and USA to reach a negotiated end to that war.
You might recall that the USA did something similar in Vietnam and Cambodia a decade or so after the Korean war and the end results were rather similar. In other words, aerial bombardment by conventional weapons is incapable of winning wars against adversaries who are not centralized and have the ability to keep on importing weapons and other supplies. Aerial bombardment, if anything, creates more popular support for the cause for which they are being bombarded. This is borne out by the continued inability of USA to win against the Taliban in Afghanistan, various tribal groups in Yemen, Iraq.. the list goes on and on. Bombing non-white people in faraway places does however create millions of jobs in USA and massively enrich a very small number of people. But that is a topic for another post.
3] Thirdly, the level of weapon technology of countries and groups fighting USA is within the same bracket. Colonial wars in 18th and 19th century typically saw Africans with spears mass charging white men with rifles and machine guns or Asians with far inferior gunpowder weapons and tactics fighting against people with better technology and organisation. Somewhere between WW1 and WW2, this started changing as “western” weapon technology and tactics diffused through the rest of the world. Consequently, white soldiers of a western power now face non-whites who posses weapons in the same technology bracket and tactics to match them. Furthermore, their non-white opponents have a much better understanding of their environment and motivation to keep on fighting.
The overall point I am trying to make in this post is a number of large-scale and systemic changes have made it impossible for USA, or any other western country, to win a military confrontation that is not on their own soil. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the population of western countries, especially the USA, still harbor the delusional belief that they can win military victories in other countries. More regrettably, if predictably, the military-industrial complex in countries such as USA keep on fueling the popular delusional idea that their extra shiny toys can win wars against people with more of the less shinier toys. I just don’t see it ending well for USA as a country or other governments stupid enough to support them.
What do you think? Comments?
Many of you might have, by now, come across “news” which suggests that the frequent failure of N. Korean ballistic missiles is somehow due to some elaborate “cyberwarfare” by USA. I am sure you must have seen mouth-breathing idiots.. I mean american patriots.. repeat that bullshit because they heard if from some MSM or some ‘alt-media’ shill.. I mean “reliable news sources”. Anyway, the point of this post is to explain why that idea reeks of propaganda and delusion.
But let us be clear about a few things first. It is no secret that N. Korean missiles, either fired by them or in the 1990s by Pakistan, always had a rather high rate of failure. However the reasons behind this rather high rate of failure is immediately obvious to somebody who has read about the general history of developing ballistic missiles and space launch systems. Long story short- it comes down to the choice of fuels.
N. Korean missiles have been traditionally powered by pretty dangerous (but effective) mixtures of old-style hypergolic liquid propellants. Since N. Korean missiles trace their ancestry to Scud missiles, they have traditionally used the same fuel mixture- namely, kerosene and corrosion inhibited red fuming nitric acid (IRFNA) with UDMH aka unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine as the liquid igniter. Once again, to make a long story short- this particular old-style hypergolic mixture does not scale up well for larger and longer-burning rocket motors
Apart from Russia and to some extent China, nobody has been able to mass produce relatively safe ballistic missiles which use hypergolic fuels of any kind. In fact, the rate of success of early american ICBMS using hypergolic fuels in the 1950s and early 1960s was pretty dismal. While it is possible to build pretty reliable space launch systems using more modern hypergolic fuel combinations, making scores of reliable ballistic missiles which use them requires a lot more experience.
That is why the majority of non-Russian (and now even Russian) ICBMS use solid propellants for their first and frequently also the second stage motors.
Returning back to the subject of ballistic missile control and guidance, let us be clear about a few basics. Firstly, the main guidance systems of such missiles is always internal and almost always based on some form of astro-intertial guidance. In case you are interested about the history of the non-computational side of guidance hardware, here is a link: The Soviet Union and Strategic Missile Guidance. Secondly, the computational part of such systems is quite simple and can be built without using integrated circuits, let alone CPUs.
For example, one of first electronic guidance computers for american ICBMS, known as the D-17B, contained 1,521 transistors, 6,282 diodes, 1,116 capacitors, and 504 resistors. Some of the older Russian designs for flight guidance computers on such missiles even used special rugged vacuum tubes instead of transistors. To put it another way, the flight control and guidance systems of ballistic missiles can be made of very rugged and simple electronic components, especially if you do not require a very high degree of targeting accuracy.
It is basically impossible to remotely “hack” a simple, hard-wired and hard-programmed control and guidance computer in which every discrete component can be repeatedly tested with a multi-meter and oscilloscope.
Furthermore, N. Korea is a pretty paranoid and conservative country. Therefore it is almost certain that they use somewhat primitive but extremely reliable indigenous designs. In any case, they seem to be aiming for targeting accuracy that is between 0.5-1% of distance covered- which is within the reach of such systems. It is therefore my opinion that the frequent malfunctions of longer range N. Korean ballistic missiles are largely due to their inability to scale up an obsolete hypergolic rocket engine technology.
Those problems will however go away once they are successful at building large solid fueled rocket engines. Some of you might know that they have already transitioned away from older hypergolic fuels for their newer short-range (upto 1,000 km) missiles. It is only a matter of time before they do so for their longer-range missiles. If things go the way they are going now, it is possible that they might be able to successfully test and start deploying such missiles in the next 2-5 years.
What do you think? Comments?
During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly told potential voters that he was against empire-building by USA and spending trillions of dollars in faraway wars with little consequence for USA. However as I had predicted in previous posts, he has reneged on this campaign promise and fully embraced the neoconservative warmongering establishment in Washington DC. Whether it is conducting an ineffectual “strike” on Syrian Airforce bases in Syria, dropping a very expensive (but worthless) firecracker on an alleged network of caves in Afghanistan or trying to intimidate N. Korea by sending a carrier battle group in that area- he is doing everything that his neocon puppet masters wanted him (or HRC) to do for furthering their cause and making them richer.
Now there are any retards in flyover states who still want to believe that his actions are somehow part of “making america great again” or something along those lines. Others believe that he is playing multi-dimensional chess or is using his “skills” as a “successful businessman” to negotiate “good deals”. Other his real-life cuckold Scott Adams (read a bit about his personal life in past) who accidentally regained some fame in 2016 by pretending to predict Trump’s upset win are trying to pretend that he is “winning”. In short, many people in USA are busy deluding themselves that Trump is somehow doing the “right” thing by pursuing a set of policies which have failed in a pretty spectacular fashion for the last two decades- In Iraq, Afghanistan Libya, Syria and many other countries.
Here is why I think, and predict, that Trump’s newfound willingness to pursue a neoconservative foreign policy will end very badly for USA- especially his supporters.
1] Trump may have tried to impress and intimidate Chinese premier, Xi Jinping, by ordering that ineffectual and farcical cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase during his visit. The only problem with that approach is that Chinese premiers, especially somebody with Xi Jinping’s history, are made of far stronger material than western leaders. To put it another way, people who rise up through the party system in China are far more cold-blooded and objective than their western counterparts. Consequently, Xi Jinping probably said all the right and polite (but ambiguous) stuff expected of somebody in his position. He may even have made some positive but meaningless gestures towards Trump.
However none of what Xi pretended to say to Trump has any bearing on what he or the rest of Chinese government will do in real life. For example- in spite of all the empty promises to reign in N. Korea, the objective reality is that China has no interest in deposing Kim Jong-Un. And why would they? Do you think they want to share a border with an american puppet state in Korea? Incidentally that is also why China intervened in the Korean War during the early 1950s and pushed the american forces back upto the 38th parallel. To make a long story short, China simply has no interest in replacing Kim Jong-Un or eliminating the N. Korean nuclear weapon program because both suit their interests.
Furthermore, Xi knows that Trump has no ability to punish China economically since most of Trump’s advisers and stooges benefit greatly from the unbalanced trade of USA with that country. All the noises Trump is still making about trade imbalances with China must be seen in the light of people hired by his administration to date. It does not take a genius to figure out that an administration full of executives from Goldman-Sachs and other financial institutions or other large corporations who have made a killing by facilitating trade with China are unlikely to cut their own proverbial throats. Even the bullshit about China buying coal from USA instead of closer and more reliable suppliers such as Australia, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa is farcical.
2] While I have briefly touched on some of the medium-term effects of Trump’s decision to bomb Syria in a previous post, there a couple of points that need to be restated and explored in a bit more detail. Firstly, the Trump dysfunction.. I mean administration.. seems to lack a clear set policy with regards to Syria. While a few in the administration want to let the conflict resolve on its own accord, as long as it is contained in that region, others want to put tens of thousands of soldiers on the ground. We all know how the later course of action turned out in Iraq. It is worthwhile to note that the american occupation of Iraq failed even though the government of Saddam Hussein had virtually no external support and was not popular in most of that country.
Contrast that with Syria where Assad has control over most populous parts of the country, the support of most people living in those regions plus the explicit support or a large nuclear power like Russia. Russia in 2017 is rather unlikely to back down from supporting Assad despite any assurances or sops from USA- largely because Russian leaders do not trust a single word coming out of mouth of american leaders. It is also obvious that threatening a country with more nukes and delivery systems than yourself plus the ability to destabilize many other parts of the world is a stupid idea. In other words, the USA is not in a position to cut a deal with or threaten Russia over Syria or any other issue of importance to Russia. I should also point that Russia will support Assad, regardless of what they pretend to say, largely because the other options are not in their best interests.
Exploding one large and expensive firecracker to allegedly damage a few little-used mountain tunnels in Afghanistan will have no impact on that war. Heck, they could explode a 100 more of them over there and they still won’t be able to cause more damage than the cost of one expensive firecracker. Extremist groups in Afghanistan now control more territory than they used to before the american invasion of that country in 2001 (15-16 years ago). The simple fact is the USA lost the Afghanistan war many year ago, in spite of pouring over a trillion USD. It is however clear to me that the establishment types in USA still do not see it that way and have chosen to willingly live in a dream world.
To summarize this post- my prediction that Trump45’s first term would make Bush43’s second term look like a relative success is slowly, but very surely, coming true. While there is always a slim possibility that Trump might successfully pull of an 180 turn, it appears highly unlikely with each passing day. On the bright side, overt failure and global humiliation of USA as it gets involved in multiple unwinnable and expensive conflicts will speed up the implosion of its global empire- or whatever is still left of it.
What do you think? Comments?
Yesterday was an interesting and historical day. Did you know that a hundred years ago, to the day, USA entered WW1 on the side of the Triple Entente. All jokes aside, I thought it was ironic that Trump’s first attempt to bomb Syria came on the 100th anniversary of the first concrete attempt by USA to become a global power. While the entry of USA in WW1 marked its beginning as a global power, it is very likely that Trump’s misadventure will be remembered as the beginning of its end as a global power.
You might have noticed that the title of this post tells you that it is about the medium-term (months to a few years) effects of his decision to bomb Syria. So, why did I not write about the short-term (days to a few weeks) effects of this decision? The simple answer is as follows: 1] There is realistically still too much uncertainty about which party will respond in what manner; 2] The short-term effects of such actions often (but not always) have little influence on the course of history.
Having said that, here are the likely medium-term effects of Trump’s ill-advised decision, in no particular order of importance.
1] Trump’s presidential campaign was based on promises to defeat ISIL, Al-Qaeda and similar fundamentalist Sunni Islamic outfits in the middle-east by cooperating with relatively secular or non-Sunni leaders in that part of the world. Well.. after yesterdays’ events it is now basically impossible for him to ever coordinate with Syria, Iran or Russia to defeat fundamentalist Sunni Islamist in this region. While the relationship between Syria and USA has always been complicated, prior to 2010 there was limited cooperation between both sides in attempts to combat such fundamentalists. Now that is unlikely to be ever revived.. and certainly not in the next 4-8 years.
2] One of the supposedly smart policies of the Trump administration involved trying to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran. Once again.. yesterday’s misadventure basically destroyed any credibility the new administration might have had with Russia. Russia now sees Trump45 as no better than Obama44 or a potential HRC45. To say this will have no effects of subsequent Russian policy towards USA and its puppet states like Germany and UK is wishful thinking. Expect more overt Russian intervention in countries bordering it, and unlike in Syria there won’t be much USA can do about that. The situation in Ukraine will also start getting interesting.
3] Trump’s rash actions lowers the threshold for N. Korea deciding to nuke Seoul. Yes, you heard that right. There is now a much higher likelihood that leaders in N. Korea will interpret any tough-talk or inflammatory actions from USA as an intention to attack them. Their almost inevitable response will involve increased threats and increased likelihood of actually using nuclear weapons. Unless S. Korean leaders kick the USA out of their country or greatly diminish its presence in it, things could get very exciting for them. I have a feeling that S. Koreans might soon decide that having USA military presence in their country is a now a far bigger liability than any potential benefits from keeping them around.
4] While Russia has been involved in the Middle-East at some level for years now, if not decades, they have so far avoided supplying massive quantities of weapons to religion and ethnicity based groups. Even in the current Syrian conflict they have largely avoided directly funneling weapons to the Hezbollah, other Shia Militias and Kurds. This restraint was largely a consequence of unofficial “understandings” between Russia on one side and countries like Israel and Turkey on the other. As you know, neither country has kept their end of these deals and now they support Trump’s action + tried to work around Russia. Therefore it is very likely that Russia won’t keep their end of the deal. Expect a large and fairly direct supply of weapons to groups like the Hezbollah and various anti-Turkey Kurdish groups.
5] Trumps’ impulsive actions also greatly increases the chance of serious armed confrontation with Russia, and not just in the Middle-East. I should remind all jingoists in USA that Russia still possesses more nukes, ICBMs than the USA- not to mention tactical nuclear weapons. Restraint during the Cold War was largely a consequence of the specter of Mutually Assured Destruction and the belief that the leadership on the other side were not bonkers. Subsequent events have shown the Russians that people in USA are untrustworthy and now mentally unstable. Expect them to adjust their military and nuclear strategies appropriately.
What do you think? Comments?
When I started to write this post it was going to be something about MGTOW, especially about how various people interpret that term in 2017. Just to be clear, I still intend to write about my most current thoughts about MGTOW in the next post. However as I was trying to write today, my mind kept moving to another issue which I have been thinking about for some time.
As many of you know, establishment types and their MSM lapdogs are still busy trying to find new ways to associate Trump with ‘Russia’ and ‘Putin’. Not a day goes by without MSM shills trying to hype some new lead that is supposed to reveal how Russia “influenced” the 2016 presidential election in USA. It goes without saying that every single hyped story about some sort of collusion between Trump and Russia or Trump and Putin has so far led to nowhere.
In fact, Michael Tracey has a very good medium post about the basic formula for every shocking russia/trump revelation. I should also point out a couple of his other recent posts about why russia hysteria makes conflagration in syria more likely and on the long-term consequences of russia hysteria. It goes without saying that the current wave of russia hysteria, in addition being a top-down phenomenon pushed by establishment types, carries some serious downsides.
And this brings us to the question: Why are establishment types, especially on the democratic side, working so hard to push something that has not been able to gain worthwhile traction with most voters in USA for almost a year by now? What makes them think that pushing something that almost nobody, beyond a percentage of hyper-partisan voters, give a fuck about is a good idea in the first place? Don’t they realize that attacking Trump on such a flimsy point while ignoring his many problems and policy about-turns is not conducive to winning anything in 2018 or beyond?
Now, there are those who see the continued willingness of establishment types and their presstitutes to push this line of “attack” as evidence of 3 or 11 dimensional chess. Some see it as part of a strategy to associate opposing establishment democrats with treason. Others see it as a way to destroy the Trump brand. While there might be some truth, if unintentional, to these complex explanations- I believe that there is a simpler (if far more unpleasant) explanation for the continued enthusiasm of establishment democrats to metaphorically flog the dead horse.
They simply don’t have a better plan to oppose Trump AND also don’t want to rock the boat by proposing populist policies which might “hurt” their corporate benefactors.
The behavior of establishment democrats (and republicans) can be best understood by seeing them for what they really are.. parasites. And as some of you know, parasites while often very good at finding niches and simple hacks to survive in their host are often incapable of adjusting to a changed host environment. In other words, they are literally incapable of functioning in a political environment that is even moderately different from the one in which they came of political age (1980s-2000s).
That is also why they blindly lined up to support a presidential candidate who was the most unpopular and distrusted professional politician who ever ran for president (as a nominee of either major party). That is why they sabotaged the democratic primary run of one of most popular and beloved politicians in the previous two decades. That is why they cannot stop talking about their support for “diversity”, “immigration” and a host of other enlightened sounding ideas but are able to simultaneously ignore widespread inequality, poverty and desperation in the general population.
The problem then, you see, is that the democratic (and republican) establishment has been unable to come up with a better way to oppose and discredit Trump. They are literally unable to think about ways to oppose Trump on ideas and policies which might be popular and succeed. Their gameplan, if you can call it that, is the hope that Trump loses popularity through some combination of his fuckups and bad publicity so that they can come back into power and behave as if it was all a bad dream.
Yes.. their comeback strategy is largely based on hope and luck, which in my opinion is not a good basis for any important plan. And this brings me where I think all of this nonsense will most likely lead. If we somehow manage to avoid a direct military confrontation with Russia, this farcical witch-hunt will likely destroy whatever shreds of credibility the democratic establishment have left with voters who are not explicit partisan- you know, the majority. While I have no doubt that Trump, left to his own machinations, will end up destroying both himself and the republican party by 2020- I am not so sure that the democrats will be able to fill the void.
Based on the way things are going, it is not inconceivable that the USA will visibly come apart by 2024- if not earlier. I mean.. the current system in USA is already failing in an obvious manner on important issues such as the ability to deliver healthcare and maintain its infrastructure to its ability to effectively project military power outside its borders. It is also now become hyper-partisan and well.. basically ungovernable (as far as most people are concerned) by means other than force- not unlike USSR in the 1980s. I just don’t see all of this turning out well. Do any of you?
What do you think? Comments?
One of the points I made in three recent posts (link 1, link 2, link 3) was that measuring GDP of a country in USD today, or at pretty much any point after the mid-1990s, is highly misleading since it makes the assumption that the cost of services and products of equivalent quality are identically priced, in USD, all over the world. As many of you know, that is simply not true in 2017- if it was ever so. The price of products and services of equivalent quality vary widely across countries and are often far lower in many supposedly “less affluent” countries than they are in USA. Examples of this phenomena include medications costing 3-10 times less in many European countries than in USA and medical services of equivalent quality in India and Thailand costing only 5-10% (or less) of their cost in USA- as measured in USD.
Consequently, access to many goods and services in many supposedly “less affluent” countries is often equal to, or better, than in USA. But what does any of this has to do with whether the GDP of Russia in 2017 (as measured in USD) has any correlation to its real-life military capabilities? As it turns out.. a whole fucking lot!
I am sure that almost all readers of this post have some across at least one “news” article from some supposedly “reputable” western news outlet which suggests that the GDP of Russia is rather insignificant and comparable to an average west-European countries- when measured in USD. These same presstitutes, I mean “journalists” also tell us that at this rate the Russian economy will collapse and the country will become insignificant and fragment into many pieces. The problem is that they have been writing and saying the same thing since at least 1991- if not earlier.
Sadly for them, their predictions of gloom and doom for Russia have just not come true. In fact, since 2001 living standards and conditions in Russia have gradually improved from their low point of 1997-1998. Today, the economic conditions of average Russians are pretty OK and in many respects are better than those of many Americans living in middle america, especially below the Mason–Dixon line. Could they be better? Sure.. But you can say the exact same things about people living in non-coastal USA. I should note that there is a certain irony that large parts of middle america now look like all those abandoned and ruined soviet-era towns that western “journalists” loved to photograph in the 1990s. I should also remind readers that the near collapse of the Russian economy in the mid-1990s was the laws and policies formulated by eCONomists from Harvard and other ivy-league universities. However, that is an issue best left for a future post.
Coming back to the main subject of this post- we can certainly disagree about the precise causes of this continuous improvement, there is no doubt it did occur and has been sustained since that time. And this brings us to the next, and related, question- How does this correlate with their current military capability? To answer that question- let us look at a bit of history. As many of you know, between 1917 and 1991, Russia was that main constituent of the Soviet Union aka USSR. As you might also remember, soviet-era Russia was also a military superpower- with way more than enough nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to destroy the world a few times over, not to mention a very large conventional army and airforce. In other words, it is clear that even soviet-era Russia was more that capable of developing and manufacturing humoungous numbers of contemporary weapons and fielding a large and organized army (and other armed forces) which could use them.
And this leads us the question of whether the amount of USD spent on weapons by a country has any correlation with their real-life military capability. I am sure that many of you have seen some version of the chart from 2013 posted below this paragraph. The gist of it is that USA spends way more money (as measured in USD) on its armed forces than many other countries in the world. Now, we can look at this data in two ways. American jingoists might see this as proof of their overwhelming military superiority over the rest of the world, largely because they think that weapons of equivalent quality and effectiveness cost the same all over the world. Cynics like me might see this an example of delusional people spending obscene amounts of money on something that has a history of poor performance. I mean.. what does it say about a country which spends about 700 billion a year on defense and yet cannot win against poorly organized insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan?
The military capability of USA, like its healthcare system , is largely about presenting the appearance of competence and ability- while delivering something that is mediocre and very expensive. It is well known that USA has been unable to win a decisive military victory over any semi-competent nation since the end on WW2. Furthermore, a lot of the budget and military resources of USA is spent on maintaining the pretense of a global empire. To put it another way, it is the defense budget of USA (and not other countries) which presents a false picture of its real-life capabilities. In contrast to that, the military budgets of countries which make most of their own weapon systems (like Russia and China) underestimates their real-life capabilities. This is especially so with Russia, which has a large pre-established human and industrial base, to make them on a very large scale.
Then there is the issue of nuclear weapons and ICBMs + launch platforms, of which Russia has a rather large number. I should point out that the infrastructure for making nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles + their launch platforms while expensive to build from scratch, already exist in Russia. So they just keep on cranking out a few more and maintain the ones the thousands they already possess. It is also no secret that any open-ended war with Russia would sooner or later turn into a nuclear one, and well.. regardless of other subsequent events would definitely result in the obliteration of USA as an entity for all times to come. In other words, comparing the defense spending of USA and Russia as measured in USD to draw actionable conclusions about their relative real-life capabilities is highly misleading and incredibly dangerous.
What do you think? Comments?
As many of you might have noticed by now- Trump’s 2016 election victory has had some interesting, and highly entertaining, effects on establishment “liberals”. Hardly a day goes by without some rich “liberal” celebrity saying, tweeting or posting a melodramatic rant about Trump. Curiously, only a minority of these rants are about something real- like all the bad decisions made by his administration since January 20, 2017. Instead, these rich “liberal” celebrities spend most of their bandwidth hyping dubious allegations about collusion between ‘Trump and Putin’ and generally demeaning people who voted for Trump (or did not vote for HRC).
While the anti-Trump rants of most “liberal celebrities (including some famous presstitutes) are secondary to their career, a few have made a living out of it or used it to boost their public visibility. While the demand for anti-Trump agitprop by partisan democratic voters has created a cottage industry of minor celebrities ranting against him, a few stand out- largely because of their public visibility and hypocrisy. I am specifically talking about three minor “liberal” celebrities with their own comedy shows on cable TV who used to be on previous incarnation of “The Daily Show”.
But before I skewer the fake “liberalism” of John Oliver, Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee, let us talk a bit about why Jon Stewart’s version of that show was so successful and influential. As some of you might remember, Jon Stewart was not the first host of “The Daily Show”. Nor was his version an instant hit. In fact, in its first two years, the show was largely a combination of clever but fairly mild mockery of public figures (especially politicians) with a short studio interview of some celebrity at the end. In other words, it was sufficiently different enough from traditional late-night shows to get some attention but not bold enough to be a trendsetter.
Then a series of events made that show far more relevant than in its first two years. The disputed presidential election of 2000 and the events of 9/11 were unique in the recent history of USA as far as their scale and impact was concerned. But perhaps more importantly, commentary on those two events could not be packaged within the narrative space of traditional late-night shows which largely shunned any serious political discussions. Jon Stewart’s show, on the other hand, was ideally equipped to deal with politically oriented satire- something that was non-existent on basic cable TV at that time.
The disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and a really large number of bad or stupid decisions by the Bush43 administration created a gold mine of opportunity for political satire. Jon Stewart’s ability and willingness to mock the Bush43 administration was in sharp contrast with the spineless deference to them by rest of MSM. In other words, he had no serious competition for his product on cable TV between 2003-2008. I should also point out that this occurred in the era before widespread penetration of social media platforms, video streaming services and alternative news sites.
To make a long story short, this led to his show (and all those associated with it) becoming media celebrities- especially among viewers of a vaguely liberal mindset. I, however, always saw that show as somewhat disingenuous because it was about promoting impotent and smug ridicule of ‘those people’ for ratings. Now.. I am not exactly a fan of CONservatives or people who vote for republicans- but it was obvious that democrats and establishment ‘liberals’ were not better. Neither wanted to push for single payer healthcare with universal coverage. Neither wanted to do anything about the looming financial crisis in the 2004-2008 span. Neither wanted to really not invade Iraq under false pretense or get out of there once it became obvious that occupation of Iraq was a failure.
My point is that establishment republicans were not really different from their democratic counterparts. Yet, night after night, that show would try to portray democrats as being much better than republicans. So how could they do that? Well.. as it turns out, the superiority of democrats was largely based on them being less openly bigoted than their republican counterparts. Yes.. I am saying that the biggest difference between democrats and republicans, as portrayed on that show, was that the former were more image conscious and careful about what they said than the later. Yet, the show tried to portray this as proof of fundamental superiority of neoliberal democrats over neoconservative republicans.
After eight shitty years under Bush43, the nation got tired of republicans and elected Obama in November 2008. Suddenly, that show (and other like it) could not stop praising the newly elected president. This uncritical praise of Obama continued even after he revealed his neoliberal colors by bailing out big banks, screwing over mortgage holders, passing an insipid republican healthcare plan and not fulfilling the vast majority of his campaign promises. So what happened? Why did that show, and others like it, stop holding Obama accountable like they tried to do this predecessor. To be fair, Bush43 was a bigger fuckup than Obama44. My point, however, still stands. That show spent infinitely more time fawning over him than holding him to account for breaking his many promises.
But what does any of this have to with the fake ‘liberalism’ of John Oliver, Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee? Why is a brief history of ‘The Daily Show’ relevant to my critique of them? And what is fake ‘liberalism’?
Let us consider the last question first. Fake ‘liberalism’ is just another word for neoliberalism. People who believe in, and promote, this ideology espouse a number of causes which at first glance appear progressive or liberal. For example- they support a number of “progressive” causes such as LGBT rights after the causes have already become safe to support. They never tire talking about how they support “diversity”, “empowerment” and similar nice-sounding but empty ideas. They will however never want to confront large systemic issues such as class, race, rent-seeking, economic inequality etc
To put it another way, they have no interest in real socio-economic reform. Indeed, they want to keep the status quo going on for as long as possible since they greatly benefit from it. They just want to find and promote new ideas that help legitimize their parasitism. As I wrote in a previous post, the vast majority of the public actions and behavior of these establishment “liberals” and celebrities are about virtue signalling and trying to create a moral justification for their ill-gotten wealth and power.
So how do John Oliver, Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee fit into all this? The short answer is- very well. The somewhat longer answer is that their entire career is based on promoting this fake “liberalism” while pretending to be progressive. Here is a person-by-person breakdown.
John Oliver: Though he pretends to be of middle-class upbringing, even a quick look at his background suggests that he came from a pretty connected background. OK, so he is not exactly upper class, but he is what you might call solidly upper-middle class. Note that he was able to move from performing in comedy festivals in UK to being hired by the Daily Show within a few years. Now I am not saying that he was incompetent or undeserving, but it is clear that he always moved in the right circles to be ‘discovered’ for big-time gigs. And this brings me to an odd question- why would you hire a guy from UK for a show about the minutiae of american society and politics? As an outsider with a fresh perspective? Perhaps.. but there is a much better explanation.
In my opinion, he was hired by that show to play a particular archetype. To be more specific- he played the role of a witty, oxbridge educated englishman to comment on american society and politics while still being accessible enough to generate ratings. And that is his shtick, his only shtick. Sure.. since he got his own show on HBO, he has devoted many shows to obvious critiques of the many flaws and problems in american society. Also, his critiques are, by and large, factually correct and accurate. But all of his critiques almost always miss the source of the problems he claims to be exposing. As an example- his show about predatory lending barely touched on the central role of low minimum wages in USA in creating that problem in the first place. Another example- his segment on police accountability treats the issue of police brutality as a fault of the system rather than as its central feature.
In other words, his principal shtick is to sell outrage at various symptom of the underlying rot rather than directing attention to the cause. So why he do that? Well.. because it is popular and profitable. People like him derive their livelihood from being the secular equivalents of “revolutionary” religious preachers of old who were largely in it for public adulation, money and power. Like their secular equivalents today, those preachers had no interest in actual reform which would improve the lives of others. Similarly, most of their promoters and audience went their sermons to feel good about themselves and morally superior to those not in attendance. Also, it helped give their audience the illusion of righteous action.
Trevor Noah: When he took over as the host of ‘The Daily Show’ after Jon Stewart retired, many wondered as to why Jon chose a South-African comedian over, say, somebody from USA. The official answer was that he had the most potential of those who were available (and willing) to fill that spot. Once again, I am not going to say that he is incompetent and undeserving of the position- because there is no evidence for those assertions. In fact, Trevor is a pretty decent all-round comedian. However, I do think that his ancestry had a worthwhile effect on his selection for that job. In my opinion, It really helped that Trevor (like John Oliver) can convey a particular archetype. Specifically that of a sharp, competent, confident black comedian who is still culturally white enough to retain the core viewership of the show. It also helps that he was born in apartheid-era South Africa and therefore serves as an example of somebody who is achieving the American Dream.
So what makes him a promoter of fake “liberalism”? Well.. the simple answer is- who and what he promotes on his show. And yes, I am aware that he does not have full editorial control of the show. Since he started hosting the show, it has pretty much been a love-fest for establishment “liberals” and “conservatives”- much more so that when Jon Stewart hosted it. Also, during the 2016 election cycle- he was plugging establishment propaganda and tropes as if he was part of the establishment. You might have also noticed that the show now spends an inordinate amount of time of just plain mockery of all those ‘other people’ and SJW-type issues than on anything approaching an intelligent or clever critique. Of course, saying any of this in public or on social media will result in busy-bodies calling you a racist.
Samantha Bee: Another alumni of ‘The Daily Show’ whose main shtick can be largely summed up as- “I have a cunt, therefore, I must be respected and admired”. As some of you, in her previous jobs, she had pretty much one single specialty- make funny faces during interviews that were then edited to support whatever point she was trying to make. That is the exact same specialty as her husband. Nowadays, her secondary shtick is to support any cause that can be vaguely sold as feminist or “empowering to women”- which is something that is still in demand. Curiously, all of her public professions of support for the down-trodden, non-white, women and other “protected” groups does not seem to extend to her personal life. It is a matter of public record, that she and her husband, are opposed to integration of kids from lower-income families at the school which their kids attend. To put it another way, “diversity” is good for the ignorant masses but not for affluent “liberals” like us.
I should also point out that she uncritically supported and plugged HRC, both during the democratic primaries and the general election in 2016. It is noteworthy that she did that by repeatedly ignoring and dissing Bernie Sanders and his message of populist economic policies. In that respect, she is more openly neoliberal that John Oliver or Trevor Noah. Also, pointing out that she is not especially funny is evidence your ‘misogyny’ rather than your opinion about her competence. In her opinion, rubes like you are too stupid to appreciate the comedy of constantly swearing and screaming hysterically at the camera. Also, not appreciating the comedy of misleadingly edited interviews is a sign of your poor taste- rather than fatigue at seeing the same crap for almost a decade.
I am now going to stop adding to this post because it is already a bit too long. Might write a sequel later.
What do you think? Comments?