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Why the ‘Geo’ in Geopolitics Still Matters

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Geopolitics is one of the most difficult sciences to have a single—and precise—definition, as it can have a wide array of interpretations.

A political analyst could perceive geopolitics as the exercise and distribution of power within the legislative branch of a government, analyzing the power dynamics—within a congress—of who and which party will support a new foreign policy towards another country (e.g. United States and Cuba); an ambassador may interpret geopolitics as the status of his native country’s relations with his assigned country, the conflicts that may unfold and what interests to uphold; and a hedge fund manager may perceive geopolitics in terms of what events could impact international commodity markets, therefore affecting international investments and his clients’ portfolios. In general the concept is often contextualized, reported, and thought of in terms of international conflicts, risks, and vulnerabilities between one country and another, or multiple parties fighting for influence in a specific part of a territory—i.e. ISIS/ISIL, Crimea, Syria, Korean peninsula. Yet this overlooks the root meaning of the word and the fact that physical geography — if not completely determines — still heavily influences the dynamics of many conflicts, whether military, resource-driven, ethnic, political and so on.

To understand the different meanings of the word, we must first grasp the rationale behind the two leading schools in the realm of geopolitics, which are the classical geopolitics and the more academically-based critical geopolitics schools. The former stems from late nineteenth and early twentieth century writings, primarily those of Sir. Halford Mackinder, Friedrich Ratzel, Alfred Mahan, and Nicholas Spykman, whose work, to this day, is still taken into account in contemporary analysis (the Eurasian landmass as the holy grail of natural resources, the state as a living organism, the paramount importance of controlling the seas, and the importance of littoral/rimland territories in the Asian continent). The critical geopolitics school, championed by prominent scholars such as Simon Dalby, John Agnew, Gerard Toal, and Klaus Dodds, has advocated another point of view within the field of geopolitical studies: that geopolitics is the spatialization of international politics, generally portrayed via words and images by an elite, the media, or academia itself.

Both schools are valid when discussing contemporary geopolitics. However, do they leave any room for the inclusion of physical geography when analyzing a nascent geopolitical conflict? Unfortunately, the theory of environmental determinism – the limits of human development owing to geography and environment – is automatically discarded and viewed pejoratively, as if it were an archaic interpretation of a particular human occurrence. My response to those who would automatically discard such matters: The ‘geo’ in geopolitics still matters.
Which climate type is the most ecumene for human living conditions? Which climatic conditions are most favorable to produce an adequate amount of food and water? Could physiographic conditions isolate certain types of groups that could eventually become guerrillas or terrorists? For example, stretching from Oregon to the Midwest, the United States is blessed with a favorable, temperate climate, balanced enough to have the right quantity of rain, temperature, and soil fertility, which as a result produces enough potable water, rich farmlands, and temperate forests to aid – not determine – the geopolitical condition of the United States as a whole. In Europe, if you are a farmer in the north European plain or in the lowlands of the British Isles, well, most likely you will not have much to worry about planting and harvesting cash crops, since the temperate climate provides similar climatic features to that of United States, thus providing a stable and moderate temperature that is perfect for farming.

Now what if you are a born in the central highlands of Afghanistan, with an unfavorable soil type for planting and harvesting, obligating you to become a pastoral nomad by raising cattle in the foothills of the mountains? What type of life and behavior do you think these herders would have after generations in the harsh, indomitable, fluctuating weather of the unforgiving central Afghan highlands? Most likely it would not be the community-oriented attitude of a farmer living in the Corn Belt region of United States. Possibly your comportment would evolve into a protective, reserved, distrustful-of-others variety, for in animal grazing you most prevent the theft of your only resource to provide a living for your family: your cattle. Thus, honor and reputation would be your dearest, most sacred elements to prevent others from trying to steal from you. As a result, you would rather be feared than loved, for the only respect and honor comes that from your kinship and clan. This is how Afghanistan has been for hundreds of years, given the numerous feuds the country has had amongst tribes and clans.

What if your cattle and your fellow tribesman live in a disconnected and inaccessible mountainous region where hunting, grazing cattle, and felling trees is imperative for the survival of your clan? Possibly, you would develop a separate identity given the isolation of your group over time, forming a different concept of what governance is and how you should be governed according to your own codes and laws. Now, this has been the social structure of the Russian North Caucasus nations—from Karachay-Cherkessia to Dagestan—as well as northern Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Iraqi and Turkish Kurdistan, the Basque region of Spain, northern Greece, the highlands of Guatemala, southern Mexico, and parts of southern Italy, particularly Calabria and Sicily. These regions have been fashioned by a ‘pastoral/mountain culture’- protecting your resources, your kinship and honor – which in turn affects the cultural character of their contemporary societies.
Now to the formula of geopolitical analysis, please add culture, religious beliefs, political concepts of governance, ethnic affiliation, and production means – all the elements of what make a geographic entity ‘unique.’

Nigeria, like many countries in the tropics, enjoys substantial levels of precipitation in the south, consistently up to Nassarawa state in central Nigeria. And as in many tropical/equatorial climates, there are favorable climatic conditions to animal and plant life in the southern lowlands of Nigeria. Yet this is not the case for Borno state – the symbolic hub of Boko Haram. Northern Nigeria is affected by what a physical geographer would call ‘the rain shadow effect,’ originating in the humid waters of the Gulf of Guinea, which, to put it simply, means that it rains more on one side of a mountain (windward side) or plateau range than the other (leeward side). This produces the arid and dry, Sahel-like climate that exists in most of Nigeria’s Islamic north—Kano, Sokoto and Borno. As a result, this type of geographic phenomena has given the local population in the north—the leeward side of Nigeria—a less favorable climatic condition than in the predominantly Christian south, providing both populations with different means of production and different conditions to manage their local economies, in great extent influencing their behavior and shared experience given the uniqueness of each group’s territory.

It’s worth noting that the insurgency problem of northern Nigeria is not exclusively a consequence of climate and agricultural productivity. Borno state lies right in the middle of the African Transition Zone — the cultural border dividing North Africa from Sub-Saharan Africa (different climatic conditions alongside religious and cultural dynamics). Now add the political history of Borno: a part of Nigeria that was not entirely penetrated by the British colonial apparatus; was deeply affected by trade routes vis-à-vis other Muslim tribal-polities; was marginalized prior the birth of Boko Haram; and is a part of Nigeria with poor arable land that mostly depends on animal grazing. As a result—and begging the question—how do these physiographic effects shape the cultural and religious dynamics that, in turn, influence the character and behavior of northern Nigerians, more precisely Borno state villagers? What are the cultural legacies of their villages and tribes? By analyzing Borno villagers’ ecosystem—arid climate and dry savannah/grasslands—alongside productivity means and cultural legacies, could it help us to understand the rise of a group such as Boko Haram and its growing geopolitical impact in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger?

As initially mentioned, physiographic conditions do not determine our destiny as humans, but it would be fallacy not to think that some nations are simply more favored than others in terms of physical geography. Would it be helpful to break the taboo on the importance of analyzing the climatic and topographic characteristics of a particular territory for a particular population? For instance, one thinks of human possibilism when thinking of Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. Yet, arguably, these ports are located in some of the most geostrategic hubs of maritime commerce, without forgetting the fact that a country like the U.A.E.—thanks in great part to their natural resources, political institutions, and migrant communities—has taken advantage of its strategic location to become the global city it is. Now could the Central African Republic have the same level of geostrategic importance as Djibouti or Crimea? Most likely not. Some territories are simply more strategic than others—mobility, location, geographic chokepoints, maritime commerce, agriculture, natural resources, and so forth.
Perhaps the secret to further understanding geopolitical events and insurgencies lies in the notion of biogeography in combination with cultural legacies. For instance, Professor Jarred Diamond points out that the main reason why Australia remained the biggest territory inhabited by hunters and gatherers for thousands of years prior to British colonization was mainly biogeographic: a very small number of plants could be domesticated. Thus it was only after the British arrived with domesticable animals and crops that Australia was put on the path of becoming the world exporter of wool and food it is today. Additionally, if you wonder in what type of climate the major Australian cities are located? Well, you guessed correctly: in the temperate climate zone—Brisbane to Adelaide and also a small regional area that circulates the city of Perth—where the most favorable climatic living and agricultural conditions occur.

Yes, political institutions and reforms were paramount in the socioeconomic transformation of countries like United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and, a most recent example, Israel (prior to massive migration from Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews, it was generally a semi-arid, deserted space). Yes, human decisions, opportunities and implementation of new technologies have made other polities more competitive than others; yes, technology, social media networks and the Internet, have shortened time and space across the globe; yes, theories like environmental/geographic determinism were written by racist, bigot-type geographers and anthropologists; and yes, it is extremely difficult to scientifically prove how climatic and biogeographic conditions may influence our behavior and political identity as human beings. Yet, human possibilism still has limits, as Professor Diamond once again argues: “the human spirit won’t keep you warm north of the Artic Circle if you are nearly naked, as are equatorial lowland peoples. Nor will the human spirit enable you to herd kangaroos, whose social structure is different from that of the dozen species of herdable Old World large domestic mammals.” Were the Australian aborigines – before the British settlement – less competitive because of environmental determinism and/or geographic limitations? If no, well, how could human possibilism have made the aborigines more competitive without domesticable plants and animals? This is why I still think environmental determinism should not be discarded automatically; instead one should ponder the more undeniable physiographic, climatic, and biogeographic conditions that can shape the character of the inhabitants in a particular ‘place,’ allowing them to become more competitive than other ‘places.’

In the science and interpretation of geopolitics, it should be paramount to comprehend how different biomes (e.g. grasslands, highlands, coastal regions, deserts, lowlands, basins, valleys, and so on) and climatic conditions (e.g. tropical/equatorial, arid/dry, moderate/temperate, continental/cold, polar/extreme, and highland) could have an effect on a given communities’ political and social behavior, especially and more specifically in the Global South, where many conflicts are arising, and which is why scholars, policymakers, journalists, business leaders, and all of those interested—like myself—in the realm of geopolitics, should break the environmental determinism taboo by simply asking ourselves: Could climatic and biogeographic conditions further helps us in our understanding, analysis, and forecasting of geopolitical events?
As a last remark, in his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell brilliantly expresses the fact that “each of us has his or her own distinct personality. But overlaid on top of that are tendencies and assumptions and reflexes handed down to us by the history of the community we grew up in, and those differences are extraordinarily specific. Why is the fact that each of us comes from a culture with its own distinctive mix of strengths and weaknesses, tendencies and pre-dispositions, so difficult to acknowledge? Who we are cannot be separated from where we’re from”…

First published by the Geopolitical Monitor

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Swalwell a Major Contender for U.S. Presidency in 2020

Eric Zuesse

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One of the most gifted politicians in the Democratic Party — and fastest-rising — is the 37-year-old Eric Swalwell, whose first elective office was as a member of the Dublin, California, City Council in 2010, and who stepped up from there to his current seat in the U.S. Congress, in 2013. His main financial backers are the military industries, including Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Wall Street — and the nonprofits and service-firms that represent them.

On Sunday, August 12th, Political Wire, which is the main news-aggregator for Democratic Party activists, headlined “Swalwell Travels to Iowa” and reported that, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) — who was born in Iowa — told the San Jose Mercury News that his visit to Iowa “was focused on helping Democrats retake the House in 2018, including by winning competitive races,” but he also said he isn’t ruling out a presidential run in 2020.

Said Swalwell: “Right now my focus is to win at home, earn my way back to Washington to represent my constituents, help other candidates win so we can change the country, and then I’ll make decisions after November about my future.”

Swalwell is movie-star handsome; furthermore, his five-year record in Congress has shown him to be an extraordinarily resourceful career-builder and self-promoter, whose special leadership in the Party has been in their effort to impeach the Republican Party President Donald Trump and (though unmentioned) to replace Trump by the Republican Party Vice President Mike Pence, who is even more conservative than is Trump.

Typical in this effort to place Pence into the White House, is an MSNBC youtube titled “Rep. Eric Swalwell: President Donald Trump Is ‘Perilously Close’ To Obstruction Charge | MSNBC”, in which the issue of whom the President would be if Trump gets impeached is very skillfully ignored entirely, both by the interviewer and by the interviewee. Billionaires control both Parties; and the ones who control the Democratic Party (and MSNBC) are apparently convinced (perhaps by private polling) that the Democratic nominee in 2020 will have a much better chance of winning the White House if Pence is the President, than if Trump is. For whatever reason, almost all of the discussions about impeaching Trump, on Democratic Party sites, avoid even mentioning Pence.

But the same is true also on Republican Party sites. Swalwell is being heavily pumped by virtually all media that cover national politics. For example, on 21 May 2018, Fox News posted to youtube “Calif. lawmaker makes his case for Russian collusion”, where Tucker Carlson debated Swalwell for 9 minutes, and though the actual subject was whether Trump should be impeached, none of the consequences of impeaching him (such as Pence replacing Trump) were even so much as mentioned. The billionaires in both Parties are apparently very taken with Swalwell, not only because he’s phenomenally gifted (as is clear from his ability to hold his own even against the formidable Carlson in that tough debate), but because if any Democrat replaces Trump in 2020, Swalwell would seem to be their dream for achieving that — and he’d probably be preferred by more of them in the general election than Trump would be.

Of course, both Parties claim to represent the public and not the billionaires; and, in this regard, while the standard Republican Party tactic to appeal to the ‘populist’ vote is to promise to “reduce waste, fraud, and abuse,” by eliminating or weakening the regulatory agencies (which the billionaires are determined to shrink or else eliminate if they can’t outright control them), the standard Democratic Party tactic to appeal to the ‘populists’ is to try to build a coalition of feminists, LGBT, Blacks, Hispanics, and other groups whom Republicans treat as being inferior to themselves. Consequently, in order to win the White House as a Democrat, Swalwell has joined the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional LGBT Caucus, neither of which minority-groups includes himself. Unknown, as of yet, is whether he has applied for membership in the Congressional Black Caucus, but according to Fact Check, as posted in 2008 and never since revised, the Congressional Black Caucus “has never had a white member in its 36-year history” (and, today, that would be never in its 46-year history), so that if he were to apply to join and then be turned down by them, and this were to become public, then the resultant bad publicity for that Caucus would likely reduce, instead of increase, Swalwell’s support by black voters. Consequently, he probably won’t apply to join that Caucus. But perhaps he will seek to join the Bipartisan Congressional Women’s Caucus. They have never had any men, but, between 1981 and 1995, their official policy was to invite male Representatives to join; so, if he were to give it a try, then perhaps they would allow him in, and he then would be able to say that he’s the first-ever man to join the Women’s Caucus. (In 2015, a Men For Women Caucus was formed in the House, but it still hasn’t announced an agenda, and it has done nothing.)

A prominent article on Swalwell’s House website is “Russia: Not Our Friend”, in which is provided a timeline, since 2007, of 13 events that he summarizes outside their context (so his brief accounts there constitute propaganda instead of history), events in which the Russian Government did or was accused of having done allegedly bad things. Typical is the most recent event listed, which is

December 2016: Germany’s domestic security agency DfV announced that there was growing evidence that Russians were attempting to influence the upcoming September 2017 federal election.

Linked-to in that, is a New York Times article, from 8 December 2016, headlined “After a Cyberattack, Germany Fears Election Disruption”, and it provided speculation but no evidence, at all. For example: “Based on the prevailing Russian strategy of hybrid influence and destabilization, which we have observed over time and for which we have facts, the government, officials and some political parties have become sensitized to this form of conflict,” said Wilfried Jilge, an expert on Ukraine and Eastern Europe with the German Council on Foreign Relations.“Such suspicions are the result of observation and experience over the past year and a half,” Mr. Jilge said.

The Wikipedia article about the “German Council on Foreign Relations” states “The association was founded in 1955 in Bonn. The model for the foundation was in many respects the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and the Chatham House in London.” Both of those groups, in turn, had been founded by, respectively, American and British billionaires and ‘nobles’ in order to advance the design by the 19th Century British aristocrat, Cecil Rhodes, for a reunification of the then-emergent U.S. empire, back into the then-declining British empire, for a joint U.S.-UK empire, including over Germany, and, ultimately, over Russia and the entire world. Consequently, both the CFR and Chatham House are pro-NATO, and this means that they support conquest of Russia, and this urge for global conquest extends even up to their rejecting the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction or “M.A.D.” that the function of nuclear weapons is in order to prevent World War III, and their replacing that by the idea of “Nuclear Primacy” that the function of nuclear weapons is instead to win WW III. This ceaseless nuclear buildup, of course, means ever-increasing U.S. military budgets, which also means soaring profits for firms such as Lockheed Martin and the rest of what Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex,” such as had, in 2016, financed, above all other U.S. politicians, Hillary Clinton, to whom they donated three times as much as they did to Donald Trump. Trump as President has been trying to satisfy those companies; and, consequently, his biggest achievement yet has been the all-time-record-shatteringly huge $400 billion sale of U.S. weapons and training on how they’re used, to the Saudi armed forces. On 21 May 2017, I headlined “U.S. $350 Billion Arms-Sale to Sauds Cements U.S.-Jihadist Alliance” and reported that the day before, “U.S. President Donald Trump and the Saud family inked an all-time record-high $350 billion ten-year arms-deal.” Then, on 21 March 2018, CNBC bannered “Trump wants Saudi Arabia to buy more American-made weapons. Here are the ones the Saudis want”, and reported what Trump had just negotiated with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, which was a step-up in that record-shattering $350 billion arms-sale, to $400 billion. (Note: that’s “billion,” not “million.”) So: this is Trump’s American jobs-plan, and it probably tops what a President Swalwell would be able to achieve. Trump will push beyond any limit in order to overcome a possible competitive challenge.

If Rep. Swalwell does enter the 2020 Democratic Party primaries for the Presidency, the distinction between himself and Joe Biden would be his youth, handsomeness, and giftedness as a debater, versus Biden’s experience; but, otherwise, they both would be splitting the Democratic “centrist” vote in the primaries, since these two men would be competing for the same segments of the Party’s electorate — the segments who had voted in 2016 for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Whereas Trump might be able to defeat Biden, I think that his defeating Swalwell would be considerably less likely. So: Republican operatives would probably prefer for Democrats to nominate Biden, over Swalwell.

Swalwell is the biggest rising star in the Democratic Party since Obama in 2004. Four years later, Obama became elected President. Swalwell’s prominence now is comparable to Obama’s in 2004, but 2020 is only two years away, not four. I think that as a public speaker, Swalwell is less skilled than Obama, but that as a debater, he’s more skilled than Obama. Perhaps billionaires will buy-off Biden to not enter the primary contests, so as to help ease the way for Swalwell to become the Democratic nominee. Maybe Swalwell’s challenge would motivate Trump to try even harder to please them. From the billionaires’ standpoint, Swalwell v. Trump would be just as much a win-win situation as was Clinton v. Trump.

Republican operative Bill Whalen, writing at The Hill, on May 23rd, listed 7 California Democrats who might be serious contenders to win the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, and Swalwell wasn’t on the list, which was: Kamala Harris, Eric Garcetti, Gavin Newsom, Tom Steyer, Ro Khanna, Oprah Winfrey, and Jerry Brown. Whalen titled his article “What’s wrong with the Democratic Party? Just look at California.” He closed: “Isn’t that what America expects from California? Entertainment?” Maybe he excluded Swalwell as being not sufficiently “entertaining” (even if better-looking than those he did list).

On 15 January 2016, early in the Republican primaries, Whalen, then writing at Fox News, had analyzed the contenders, and he said that the choice would ultimately come down to Trump versus Cruz, and: “A word of caution here for the Cruz Crew: Jeb Bush tangled with Trump; his candidacy cratered. The same is true of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Thursday’s lone debate holdout. Like falling into a black hole or marrying a Kardashian, the contact sport that is extended sparring with The Donald is a ticket to oblivion.” That was Whalen’s veiled endorsement of Trump. Whalen still prefers Trump.

Does Whalen not know that Swalwell is one of the top Democrats pushing for Trump to be replaced by Pence, and so belongs on his list of leading contenders from California? Likelier is: Whalen fears that Swalwell could handle the challenge of beating Trump — and thus of transferring control of America away from Republican Party billionaires, and toward Democratic Party ones. It’s all really just a feud amongst the aristocracy. It’s a bipartisan aristocracy, who fight ferociously between themselves. Everybody else is merely ‘collateral damage’; they don’t actually count.

The idea that Swalwell and his ilk peddle, that what has ended American democracy is ‘the Russians’ instead of America’s own aristocrats, isn’t merely false; it is proven false, as the former Democratic U.S. President Jimmy Carter has acknowledged.

Anything will be done to sell more weapons. Apparently, that’s the bottom line.

Author’s note: The piece first posted at strategic-culture.org

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America’s Militarized Economy

Eric Zuesse

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Donald Trump’s biggest success, thus far into his Presidency, has been his sale of $400 billion (originally $350 billion) of U.S.-made weapons to the Saudi Arabian Government, which is owned by its royal family, after whom that nation is named. This sale alone is big enough to be called Trump’s “jobs plan” for Americans. It is also the biggest weapons-sale in all of history. It’s 400 billion dollars, not 400 million dollars; it is gigantic, and, by far, unprecedented in world-history.

The weapons that the Sauds and their friends, the 7 monarchies that constitute the United Arab Emirates, are using right now, in order to conquer and subdue Yemen, are almost entirely made in America. That’s terrific business for America. Not only are Americans employed, in strategically important congressional districts (that is, politically important congressional districts), to manufacture this equipment for mass-murdering in foreign lands that never threatened (much less invaded) America, but the countries that purchase this equipment are thereby made dependent upon the services of those American manufacturers, and of the taxpayer-funded U.S. ‘Defense’ Department and its private military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, to maintain this equipment, and to train the local military enforcers, on how to operate these weapons. Consequently, foreign customers of U.S. military firms are buying not only U.S. weapons, but the U.S. Government’s protection — the protection by the U.S. military, of those monarchs. They are buying the label of being an “American ally” so that the U.S. news media can say that this is in defense of American allies (regardless of whether it’s even that). American weapons are way overpriced for what they can do, but they are a bargain for what they can extract out of America’s taxpayers, who fund the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department and thus fund the protection of those monarchs: these kings and other dictators get U.S. taxpayers to fund their protection. It’s an international protection-racket funded by American taxpayers and those rulers, in order to protect those rulers; and the victims aren’t only the people who get slaughtered in countries such as Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Libya, and Syria, and Yemen, and Palestine, but also (though only financially) are the American public, who get fleeced by it — the American public provide the bulk of the real funding for this operation to expand the lands where America’s allies rule, and so to serve both America’s aristocracy and the aristocracies that are America’s allies.

This is how today’s America enforces its ‘democracy’ around the world, so that America can spread this ‘democracy’, at gunpoint, and at bomb-point, like America’s allies, those Kings and Emirs, and the apartheid regime in Israel, are doing, to the people whom they kill and conquer, with help from the taxpayer-funded American military — funded to protect those aristocrats, against their respective publics, and to further enrich America’s own aristocrats, at the expense of America’s own public.

The global ‘aggressor’ has been identified by America’s previous President, Barack Obama, who won office like Trump did, by promising ‘a reset’ in relations with post-communist Russia, and by mocking Obama’s opponent (Mitt Romney) for having called Russia “the number one geopolitical foe” — which America’s aristocracy has historically considered Russia to be, ever since the aristocracy in Russia fled and were killed in 1917, which caused America’s and other aristocracies to fear and hate Russia and Russians, for having ousted its aristocracy, this being an act that aristocrats everywhere are determined to avenge, regardless of ‘ideology’. (Similarly, America and its pro-aristocracy foreign allies, seek to avenge Iran’s 1979 overthrow of the Shah.) As Obama’s own actions during his subsequent Presidency made clear, and as he already had started in 2011 (if not from day one of his Presidency) secretly to implement, he privately agreed with what Romney said on that occasion, but he was intelligent enough (which his opponent obviously was not) to recognize that the American public, at that time, did not agree with it but instead believed that Islamic terrorists and aristocrats such as the Sauds who finance them are that); and Obama took full advantage of his opponent’s blunder there, which helped Obama to win a second term in the White House (after having skillfully hidden from the public during his first term, his intention to weaken Russia by eliminating leaders who were friends or even allies of Russia, such as in Syria, and Ukraine).

This is American ‘democracy’, after all (rule by deceit, lies), and that’s the reason why, when Russia, in 2014, responded to the U.S. coup in Ukraine (a coup under the cover of anti-corruption demonstrations) which coup was taking over this large country next-door to Russia and thus constituted a deadly threat to Russia’s national security, Obama declared Russia to be the world’s top ‘aggressor’. Obama overthrew Ukraine and then damned Russia’s leader Putin for responding to Obama’s aggressive threat against Russia from this coup in neighboring Ukraine. Russia was supposedly the ‘aggressor’ because it allowed the residents of Crimea — which had been part of Russia until the Soviet dictator in 1954 had arbitrarily handed Crimea to Ukraine — to become Russian citizens again, Russians like 90% of them felt they still were, despite Khrushchev’s transfer of them to Ukraine in 1954. The vast majority of Crimeans felt themselves still to be Russians. But Obama and allies of the U.S. Government insisted that the newly installed Government of Ukraine must rule those people; those people must not be permitted to rule (or be ruled) by people they’ve participated in choosing.

Ever since at least 2011, the U.S. Government was planning to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected Government; and the plan started being put into action by no later than 1 March 2013 inside America’s Ukrainian Embassy. In preparation for this planned coup (“the most blatant coup in history”), a poll of Crimeans was funded by the International Republican Institute and USAID, in which Gallup scientifically sampled Crimeans during 16-30 May 2013, six months prior to the forced rejection on 20 November 2013 of EU membership by Ukraine’s democratically elected government — that’s six months prior to the Ukrainian Government’s rejection that Obama’s team were intending to use as being the pretext for the anti-Government demonstrations, which would start on Kiev’s Maidan Square the day after this forced rejection, on November 21st. The poll of Crimeans (which was made public on 7 October 2013) found (here are highlights):

p.14:

“If Ukraine was able to enter only one international economic union, which entity should it be with?”

53% “Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan”

17% “The European Union”

p.15:

“How would you evaluate your attitude to the following entities?”

Russia”:  68% “Warm”;  5% “Cold”

“USA”:  6% “Warm”;  24% “Cold”

p.17:

“In your opinion, what should the status of Crimea be?”

“Autonomy in Ukraine (as today [under Crimea’s 1992 Constitution and as subsequently celebrated by RFE/RL on 20 January 2011] )”:  53%.

“Common oblast of Ukraine [ruled under Ukraine’s 1991 Constitution]”:  2%.

“Crimea should be separated and given to Russia”:  23%.

In other words: prior to the U.S. State Department and CIA operation to steal Ukraine’s government from Ukraine’s citizens — including especially from the residents of the sole autonomously governed region in Ukraine, which was Crimea — 53% of Crimeans wanted continued autonomy, 23% wanted not only a total break away from the Ukrainian Government but their becoming again citizens of Russia, such as had existed until 1954; and only 2% wanted restoration of the situation in 1991 when Crimea was briefly a “common oblast” or regular region within Ukraine, a federal state within Ukraine just like all the other states within Ukraine were. And, obviously, after America’s coup in Ukraine, the percentage who wanted a total break away from Ukraine rose even higher than it had been before.

Consequently, the U.S. demand that the newly imposed Ukrainian regime, which Obama’s coup created, made upon Crimea subsequent to the coup, and which demand both Obama and his successor Trump insist must be imposed upon and obeyed by Crimeans if the anti-Russia sanctions are even possibly to end, is the demand that Crimeans, in that May 2013 poll, even prior to the bloody Obama coup and the takeover of Ukraine by rabidly anti-Crimean Ukrainian nazis, had supported by only 2% (it was demanding reimposition of the brief 1991 Ukrainian relationship, which Crimeans had rejected in 1991), as compared to the 53% of Crimeans who favored continuation of Crimean “autonomy,” and the 23% who favored becoming Russians again.

Furthermore, the May 2013 poll showed that only 17% of Crimeans favored becoming part of the EU, whereas 53% preferred to be part of the “Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan”; so, clearly, Crimeans, prior to the democratically elected Ukrainian Government’s having declined the EU’s offer, overwhelmingly wanted Ukraine’s democratically elected Government to do precisely what it did — to turn down the EU’s offer.

During the U.S. coup, and immediately after it, until the 16 March 2014 Crimean referendum on what to do about it, Crimeans saw and heard on television and via the other Ukrainian media, reports that could only have terrified them about the new Government’s intentions. Clearly the U.S. regime had no objection to placing nazis in charge, and Crimeans are intensely anti-nazi — not only anti-Nazi during Hitler’s time, but against nazism, the racist-fascist ideology, itself, regardless of which group it’s targeting; but, in their case, it targets Crimeans, and, more broadly, Russians.

A January 2015 poll of Crimeans was financed by the U.S.-allied Canadian Government, and never made public by them but released in early February only on an obscure site of the polling organization and never reported to the public in the Western press, and this poll found (probably to the sponsors’ enormous disappointment) that 93% of respondents did “endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea” and 4% did not. On 16 March 2015, the U.S. State Department issued a statement: “On this one year anniversary of the sham ‘referendum’ in Crimea, held in clear violation of Ukrainian law and the Ukrainian constitution, the United States reiterates its condemnation of a vote that was not voluntary, transparent, or democratic.” No evidence was provided for any of that assertion, simply the allegation. Four days later, the far more honest Kenneth Rapoza at Forbes headlined “One Year After Russia Annexed Crimea,” and he opened:

The U.S and European Union may want to save Crimeans from themselves. But the Crimeans are happy right where they are. One year after the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea, poll after poll shows that the locals there — be they Ukrainians, ethnic Russians or Tatars are mostly all in agreement: life with Russia is better than life with Ukraine.

Little has changed over the last 12 months. Despite huge efforts on the part of Kiev, Brussels, Washington and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the bulk of humanity living on the Black Sea peninsula believe the referendum to secede from Ukraine was legit.  At some point, the West will have to recognize Crimea’s right to self rule.

The U.S. and its allies have a different idea than that. They reject Rapoza’s view.

The United States claims to support ‘democracy’. But it demands imposition upon Crimeans of a rabidly anti-Crimean Government. What kind of ‘democracy’ does the United States actually support? Has the U.S. Government answered that question in Crimea — and, in Ukraine — by its actions there? Obama supported this kind of ‘democracy’, and this kind. He wanted this kind of treatment of Crimeans. Trump hasn’t yet made clear whether he does, too; but his official representatives have made clear that they do.

America has a militarized economy. It also currently has the very highest percentage of its people in prison out of all of the world’s 222 countries and so certainly qualifies as a police state (which Americans who are lucky enough to be not amongst the lower socio-economic classes might find to be a shocking thing to assert). On top of that, everyone knows that America’s military spending is by far the highest in the world, but many don’t know that it’s the most corrupt and so the U.S. actually spends around half of the entire world’s military budget and that the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department is even so corrupt that it has been unauditable and thus unaudited for decades, and that many U.S. military programs are counted in other federal departments in order to hide from the public how much is actually being spent each year on the military, which is well over a trillion dollars annually, probably more than half of all federal discretionary (which excludes interest on the debt, some of which pays for prior wars) spending. So, it’s a very militarized economy, indeed.

This is today’s American ‘democracy’. Is it also ‘democracy’ in America’s allied countries? (Obviously, they are more democratic than America regarding just the incarceration-rate; but what about generally?) Almost all of those countries continue to say that America is a democracy (despite the proof that it is not), and that they are likewise. Are they correct in both? Are they allied with a ‘democracy’ against democracy? Or, are they, in fact, phonies as democracies? These are serious questions, and bumper-sticker answers to them won’t suffice anymore — not after invading Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011, and Syria right afterward, and Ukraine in 2014, and Yemen today, etc.

Please send this article along to friends, and ask for their thoughts about this. Because, in any actual democracy, everyone should be discussing these issues, under the prevailing circumstances. Taxpayer-funded mass-slaughter is now routine and goes on year after year. After a few decades of this, shouldn’t people start discussing the matter? Why haven’t they been? Isn’t this the time to start? Or is America so much of a dictatorship that it simply won’t happen? We’ll see.

Author’s note: first posted at Unz Review

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Americas

Confronting the Shadow of Colonialism in Trump’s America

Nozomi Hayase

Published

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August 2018 marked the anniversary of civil unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia where white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters. Then, President Donald Trump in his response to this event empowered ultra-right and racist groups by blurring the line of responsibility with the rhetoric of “blame on both sides.” Now, in condemning the horrific tragedy that took place last year, he maintained his stance with wording of “all types of racism and acts of violence.”

The victory of Trump in the 2016 presidential election brought a demise of the U.S. political establishment. As the legitimacy of institutions weakened, the veil of reality has now been lifted. Like the scenery kept hidden in the darkness of night, what was condemned, denied and kept secret in this society was now freed, entering the light of day.

Trump’s campaign slogan ‘make America great again’ captured the minds of many who are disenfranchised by the system. Patriotism that was quickly harnessed is now summoned for all to obey the rules of patriarchy and worship the glory of military might. As Trump administration carries on the legacy of U.S. imperialism, American exceptionalism of the Obama era appeared to gain another meaning.

The rhetoric of ‘putting the nation first’ also struck a chord with white supremacist groups that till now were more on the fringe. With Trump’s xenophobia and racism manifested in the Muslim ban as well as transgender military exclusion and deportation of Mexicans with a policy of separating families at a border, the notion of American superiority in the world became white exceptionalism.

Barbarians inside civilization

How did we get here? While many people were caught by surprise by the growing power of extremists that try to regress America into a pre-Civil War era, this return of European identity was not created overnight.

White supremacy has been a fabric of the political, economic and cultural system of the U.S., woven into every aspect of our lives. In fact, it has been a dominant force that shaped the world of past centuries. Since the Age of Discovery, civilization of the earth has become synonymous with European colonization of the world. Frantz Fanon, who studied the black psyche in the white world in the context of the Algerian resistance to French colonialism shared his own experience of colonial identification. In Black Skin, White Masks he made a sad predicament, saying “There is but one destiny for the black man. And it is white.”

The law of conquest of the Old World crept its way into the New World. As early settlers of North America were trying to free themselves from Great Britain and its king, Europe’s ambition to enlighten ignorance and bring order to an archaic force of nature became a new mission of Manifest Destiny to master the American continent.

The history of America carries contradictions manifested in hypocrisies of the original framers of country. Here we find the seed for Trump’s America that tries to create a republic for a few, who are deemed superior to humanity. On one hand, the U.S. Constitution laid the foundation for the rights of individuals, halting the rule of monarchy of that time. On the other hand, this new nation of law, with democratic principles contained the darkness of genocide of Native Americans, slavery of blacks and the oppression of women and minorities.

The idea of equality in the Declaration of Independence that inspired the hearts of many, has remained as empty words and for some appeared as blunt lies. The light-skinned men asserting themselves as God’s chosen race crusaded to civilize Turtle Island. In their self-righteousness, they were blind to their own barbarian within that slaughtered natives, enslaved blacks by treating them as subhumans, while subjugating women as objects.

American dream and the myth of equality

The savage beast inside America has been made invisible, covered up by a symbol of flags and legends that turned European colonists into pioneers, heroes and patriots. In the post-industrial era, the primitive man within civilization seemed to have found its vehicle in the new brand of national identity.

Psychologist Philip Cushman observed the emergence of a particular configuration of self in the post WWII United States. He characterized it as a self that “has specific psychological boundaries, a sense of personal agency that is located interiorly, and a wish to manipulate the external world for its own personal ends.”

He defined it “a kind of masterful, bounded self: the empty self” and described it as a psychological condition “that experiences a significant absence of community, tradition, and shared meaning” and that “embodies the absence, loneliness, and disappointments of life as a chronic, undifferentiated emotional hunger.” Then, he pointed out how this internal emptiness was used to fuel “the mindless, wasteful consumerism of the late twentieth century.”

The beast entered a vacuum at the core of individual identity, channeling people’ desires into the consumer economy to feed itself. Through beautiful images of affluent life displayed in ads, TV commercials and Hollywood movies, the glamour of American upper-middle class was created. This life style image was sold like a new product promised to make us whole. The narrative of the American dream was used as a sales pitch. It was the idea that with basic hard work and talent, anyone can succeed economically, regardless of their class or race. Enticed by this promise of social meritocracy, people entered into a market to compete in the pursuit of happiness defined by material wealth.

Individual’s urge to fulfill endless personal desires now merged with the unbridled greed of capitalism. Many began chasing after status, careers, and money to climb up the ladder of success that preserves the colonial hierarchy in a form of an economic class.

Crumbling illusion of democracy

The American dream and its myth of equal opportunity further erased awareness of racial injustice and colonial oppression. The virtue of liberty that is now uprooted from its foundation of equality became an ideology of neoliberalism. Along with it came the birth of corporate America that enshrines white supremacy through radical deregulation and expands its power under a façade of democracy.

In Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, journalist and author Chris Hedges described how “the America we celebrate is an illusion” where “the words consent of the governed have become an empty phrase.”Hiding behind the anonymity of a corporate state, a master oligarchic class orchestrates the lesser of two evil politics to control citizens who are now turned into obedient consumers. They make sure with both Democrat or Republican presidents, that no matter who gets elected, white privilege always remains as a Washington consensus.

Obama, the first black president was installed as a symbol of progress and racial equality to make people entangle with empire’s illusion and keep the status quo of white color domination.Consumed by their own desires, Americans became self-absorbed, not being able to see the oppression created by their own government around the world. They became blind to colonization enacted under the name of globalization with exploitative economic practice of sweatshop labor, trade agreements like WTO and NAFTA and military intervention for resource grabs. By not being able to see the empire’s predation, people no longer feel burdened with the suffering of others. Silence becomes complacency and the sense of morality becomes dull.

Now, economic stagnation is shrinking the middle class. This consumer nation has begun to starve, losing means to soothe its internal emptiness. As the illusion of democracy starts to crumble, many people are gradually waking up from the American dream to see the ugliness that surrounds them. James Baldwin said, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” Some react to Trump’s rhetoric of hate with similar hate. They direct anger to others, blaming each other for sabotaging the supposed beautiful life that they once thought they had.

Transforming outrage into courage

Trump and the resurgence of white supremacy opened eyes to the forbidden scenery that has long remained unseen, by keeping all in a fantasy of illusory light. We are now beginning to see ourselves surrounded by a corporate wasteland where depravity of conscience fails to tame unruly cowboys, who under the banner of profit at any cost continue this plunder.

In this moral desert, we are visited by phantoms of our own shadow. The new face of this American leader presents a mirror through which we see our culture’s own nothingness, masking insecurity and inadequacy in a façade of a ‘masterful self’. Reflected in this is our unknown self, forgotten and denied. It is that which compels us to grab power, while demanding and demeaning others in order to fulfill our narcissistic desire, promoted by this consuming corporate capitalism.

From refugees, gays, blacks and the poor, we begin to hear cries of those who have been exiled from an American middle class bubble of insulated reality. Standing next to victims of systemic oppression is the colonizer within each of us. Enslaved by internal hunger, they acquiesce to a system of patriarchy that binds all to shadows from the past.

For so long, we have been made to feel powerless and conditioned to seek approval from outside authority. Instead of finding answers within, many look to teachers and politicians who pretend to offer solutions to problems. We succumb to the orders of corporate masters for financial security and try to find value and meaning in commercial goods, seeking for validation in expert opinion. By doing so, we lose touch with our authentic selves and give away our own power.

The Trump presidency unsealed the demon inside the history of America that has been devouring the heart that remembers our intrinsic connection. The darkness we face now challenges all to find strength to fill the void inside ourselves that predators have been latching onto. Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner elucidated the role of evil and how it helps educate us to freedom and love:

“Love would be impossible for man and freedom would be impossible for man without the possibility of sailing down into the abyss. A man unable of his own free decision to choose good or evil, would be a being only led on a leading string to a good which must be attained of necessity and who had no power to choose the good of his own fully purified will, by the love which springs from freedom.”

Within days of Trump’s inauguration, people took to the streets to protest against this new commander in chief. While fear spreads across U.S. cities, people’s will to stand united against his hateful ideology is creating a nationwide movement. With slogans of ‘love’, people march arm in arm, trying to defeat hatred. Yet in order for this solidarity to become real resistance, our love has to go beyond passion, indignation and even compassion for the oppressed. Love that overcomes hate is an act of courage, chosen by each of us out of our own free resolution, to eradicate all terror that tries to freeze our hearts and govern our actions under the dictate of the mind. Courage is not an absence of fear, but is an act carried out despite that fear.

This love resuscitates the breath of life that inspired the truth held to be self-evident by the founders. We discover the wisdom that has always been there, guarded by the First Nations. It is supremacy of the heart—the love for our brothers and sisters that can overcome the love of power.

This transition to new political power brings us to a time of decision. We now have a choice. Outrage toward injustice can become the fire to destroy, fueling civil wars between one another. Or, it can be transformed into courage to dethrone the corporate aristocracy and restore the reign of the heart. A new light emerges that could truly enlighten the world. It is a light drawn from the darkness, dissolving the illusion of colonial hierarchy and illuminating the way for all to come home.

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