“We are the hollow men, We are the stuffed men”-T S Eliot, The Hollow Men (1925)
Donald Trump did not emerge ex nihilo, from nothing. He was the predictable outgrowth of a society that generally loathes any serious thought. When Mr. Trump noted proudly during his 2016 campaign that “I love the poorly educated,” it was by no means an off-the-cuff or seat-of-the pants observation.
It was offered as a politically convenient affirmation of alleged kinship, a deliberate strategy nurturing his bond with a specific portion of the American electorate.
This targeted portion could have been called “hollow men” by poet T S Eliot. Currently, to be sure, this meaning must be taken to include both genders. In this regard, the president’s revealed sentiments were entirely “evenhanded.”
However regrettable and worrisome for other reasons, they were not intended as sexist.
What were these “other reasons?” To answer, we must first inquire: Where does Donald Trump’s conspicuous loathing of intellect and learning have its contemporary historical roots? Significantly, this is not really a difficult question.
“Intellect rots the mind,” warned Third Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels at the Nuremberg rallies in 1935. This plausible historical resemblance or commonality need not suggest that the Trump administration is in any way genocidal, only that both regimes drew their “primal” nurturance from the poisonous font of a know-nothing populism.
Even in anti-intellectual America, the poet occupies a proper place. Sometimes, he or she is all-seeing, even as a prophetic antecedent of what still lies ahead. “This is the dead land…” laments T.S. Eliot, speaking of no one geographic place in particular. Rather, he observes, in a presumptively generic “cactus land,” false images of wood and stone are raised by “hollow men” as suitable objects for veneration.
Just as in present-day Trump-era United States, compliant inhabitants will insistently welcome “the supplication of a dead man’s hand.”
By definition, of course, it is a profoundly self-destructive welcoming.
Today, still more precisely, such lethal surrenders are witnessed most often at Trump “rallies,” literally incoherent gatherings of the president’s faithful, replete with screams and ritualistic phrases chanted in loud and atavistic chorus.
For the United States, at least in principle, there still exist more promising supplications. But any such foreseeable entreaties would first require a society that can take itself seriously, not one that has wittingly exchanged banal observations and empty chatter for intellect and learning. Under no circumstances – absolutely none – could these sensible pleas be spawned by a society of “hollow men” or “hollow women.”
Now, actually meeting the requirements of a tangibly thoughtful and reasoning society is little more than a vague hope.Nonetheless, a simple though dignified model for improvement does remain available. To wit, before the poet Eliot’s revealing metaphors, Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson called upon his fellow Americans to embrace “plain living and high thinking.” Today, especially, it is evident that his sensible nineteenth-century plaint for enhanced equilibrium (personal and social) went unheeded.
No truth-based observation could ever be more obvious.
Now, in the glaringly rancorous “Trump Era,” there is no longer any plausible pretense concerning mind or integrity. Today, both intellect and dignity are out of political fashion, strikingly out of fashion. At least in the most cantankerous public realms, truth is no longer regarded as meaningfully worthwhile or advantageous. For this president, who seemingly learned a great deal from de facto mentor Joseph Goebbels, it is plainly a liability.
A grievous liability.
Though not generally understood, looking behind the news is everyone’s first obligation of citizenship. Only here, in what is not immediately obvious, may we yet discover certain immutably core truths of American life. After all, even the tiniest hint of science or “high thinking” is treated by US President Donald Trump as an affront, as an epithet, as an unseemly sign of independent thinking.
Could anything else be more fittingly subject to mass-based spasms of public loathing, of duly “patriotic” American hatreds?
This corrosive subordination of intellect was by no means an original “contribution” of Donald Trump (American society has never been an example of obeisance to learning or enlightened considerations of “mind”), but it remains a defiling signature of this rapidly dissembling American presidency.
For sensible and still-thinking Americans, there should be little residual ambiguity about what is unraveling. Beyond any reasonable doubt, this country now backs further and further away from any merit-based standards of policy assessment. Locked fixedly into a regressive trajectory of political and cultural decline, America’s cumulative ambitions are continuously being reduced to narrowly shallow credos and correspondingly empty witticisms.
“I love the poorly educated” said candidate Trump back in 2016.
Pertinent policy examples abound. It hardly comes as a surprise that virtually all Americans are already victims of this president’s vaunted “trade wars.” Ironically, the principal long-term beneficiaries of this Trump-induced incoherence will be Russia and China. The only derivative question should be this: Why is such plainly injurious presidential irrationality still acceptable to millions of rhythmically chanting citizens?
What can they possibly be thinking?
Always, science must begin with tangible questions. These core questions cannot be overlooked or ignored. Americans, it follows, must much more sincerely inquire: “How can a US president so willfully ignore and accept his Russian counterpart as his puppet master?” Even in the wholesale absence of “high thinking” within the Trump White House, it should be unambiguous that one superpower president has become the all-too-witting marionette of the other.
At what point do Americans candidly acknowledge that in any measured comparisons with geopolitical reality, the current US presidency is effectively The Manchurian Candidate on steroids?
There are still more serious questions. As a nation, when shall we finally agree to bear truthful witness on Constitutional governance? Can there be any doubt that there is much more to these founding principles than the Second Amendment? Surely this country must ultimately be about much more than just the right to bear arms.
Is it not already obvious, patently, that what we now witness from moment to moment represents a more perilous American declension than even the most sensationalized fictional catastrophes?
Cultural context remains vital, even determinative. Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency did not arise ex nihilo, in a vacuum. What exactly has gone wrong with American “high thinking?” How, more precisely, have we managed to allow a once-still-promising and steadily-rising nation to slide uncontrollably toward collective national misfortune?
In the inherently unsteady nuclear age, such misfortune could sometime include irreversibly catastrophic human wars. With such dreaded inclusion, we the people might even need to witness a wholly unprecedented fusion. This would be an explosive alloy of banality and apocalypse.
It’s not a pleasing fusion.
Before answering such queries – and properly serious replies must take special account of expanding nuclear proliferation – the genre we select must be exquisitely precise. In this connection, whenever we speak of Donald Trump we dare not speak of authentic “tragedy.” “True” tragedy, unlike common buffoonery or self-induced misfortune, is ennobling. Always.
From Aristotle to Shakespeare, true tragedy has demanded a victim, whether individual or societal, one who suffers undeservedly.
This demand has not been met today.
In this dreary and profane play directed by President Donald Trump, we Americans are not properly tragic figures. Surely we are not just the passive victims of a disjointed and contrived presidency effectively forced upon us in 2016. As long as we refuse to speak out at less delicate levels of truth-telling – and this refusal means much more than just showing up to vote in 2020 – we will deserve our consequent losses.
Richly deserve them.
In the nuclear age, it now bears repeating, such losses could be irremediable.
Even immediately, they would likely be unendurable.
At that late point we would surely not represent the tragic victims of some unstoppable national decline. Instead, we would appear the pathetic “spillover” of a palpable and once-preventable melodrama.
At that point our defining genre will have become parody and pathos.
In all likelihood, that finally expressed American genre would represent a dreadful and prospectively hideous farce.
Amid all these consequential “theatrical” matters, we may have less to learn from Aristotle or Shakespeare than from the 20th century psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Even a cursory glance at the two seminal thinkers from Vienna and Zurich should remind us of the ever-present dangers posed by “horde” or “mass.” Both Freud and Jung were strongly influenced by the Danish Existentialist thinker Soren Kierkegaard (who personally preferred the term “crowd” to “horde” or “mass”) and by German-Swiss philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
Without guile, Nietzsche spoke woefully of the “herd.”
Whatever term we might decide to favor, one key point remains unassailable: When an entire nation and society abandon the most basic obligations of critical thinking and “reason” (this observation about “reason” should bring us also to the German post-War philosopher, Karl Jaspers), we can expect incremental deformity and eventual tyranny. Nietzsche, in his masterpiece Zarathustra, was more specific. “Do not seek the higher-man in the marketplace,” the prophet had warned presciently.
Translated into more prosaic terms of our current American presidential dilemma, this ought to remind us that mundane skill sets acquired in the worlds of real-estate bargaining and casino gambling do not “carry over” to high-politics and diplomacy.
Or as one might say here in Indiana, “Not hardly!”
Now, in essence, American national leadership desperately requires some serious figures of historical literacy and tangible erudition, not the crudely half-educated marketers of “deals.”
In America, snake oil can still be sold under various different markings.
But it’s still just snake oil.
In the end, every society represents the sum total of its individual souls seeking some sort or other of “redemption.” This search is never properly scientific – after all, there can be no discernible or tangible referent for a human “soul” – but important answers may still occasionally lie outside mainstream scientific investigations.
These sorts of “eccentric” answers ought not necessarily be disregarded.
At times, at least, they should be consciously sought and carefully studied.
Not only the blustering American “emperor,” but also those still awed by his mind-stifling “parade,” are shamelessly “naked.” In President Donald Trump’s deeply fractionated American republic, we the people cheerlessly inhabit a stultifying “hollow land” of unending submission, crass consumption, dreary profanity and immutably shallow pleasures. Bored by the suffocating banalities of daily life and beaten down by the grinding struggle to stay hopeful amid ever-widening polarities of wealth and poverty, our weary US citizens – people who have every right to vote, but not to keep their teeth – now grasp anxiously for any available lifelines of distraction.
In 2016, this presumed lifeline was a false prophet of American “greatness.”
In 2016, legions of Americans unaccustomed to reading anything of consequence were easily taken in by a mountain of cheap red hats and starkly inane slogans.
For Donald Trump, cynical simplifications represented his planned path to electoral victory.
“Intellect rots the mind” said Third Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels in 1935.
“I love the poorly educated” said US Presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016.
Such things considered, it is small wonder that the cavernous Opiate Crisis is already deep enough to drown entire libraries of a once-sacred poetry.
Small wonder, too, that in a nation of so much institutionalized pain and private desperation there exists a pervasively growing cry for “anesthesia.”
In part, because of the indifferent and ineffectual stewardship of America’s current president, both this singular nation and the wider planetary system of which it is a part are at significant risk. Where, then, shall we meaningfully seek any still-lingering public demands for human improvement and collective survival? Where might we still discover any usefully reinforcing visions of social cooperation and personal growth?
In principle, at least, thoughtful concepts are de rigeur. Misdirected by the incessantly hollow claims of “American Exceptionalism” and “America First,” we have somehow managed to forget that world politics is a system. It follows, among other things, that US prosperity is perpetually linked to the calculable well-being of other states and other societies.
It’s not terribly complicated. In brief, this is an historical moment where one simplifying gastronomic metaphor can actually make sense: In essence, we are all in the “soup” together.
There is more. Until now, we have unceremoniously ignored the Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s clear warning from The Phenomenon of Man: “The egocentric ideal of a future reserved for those who have managed to attain egoistically the extremity of `everyone for himself’ is false and against nature. No element can move and grow except with and by all the others with itself.”
We have also ignored almost everything else of commendably real intellectual importance. Should there remain any sincere doubts about this indictment, one need only look at the current state of American higher education – in many ways, now just another obvious expression of Nietzsche’s (Zarathustra’s) “marketplace.”
In Donald Trump’s America, we the people are no longer shaped by any suitably generalized feelings of reverence or compassion, or, as has already been amply demonstrated, by even the tiniest hints of plausibly complex thought. Now, our preferred preoccupation, shamelessly unhidden, lies with a closely- orchestrated hysteria of indulgence in other people’s private lives and (with even greater and more visceral enthusiasm) their corollary sufferings. In German, there is a specially-designated word for this lethal pathology of the human spirit.
The Germans call this schadenfreude, or taking exquisite pleasure in the misfortunes of others.
For the most part, this voyeuristic frenzy is juxtaposed against the always-comforting myth of American superiority. In the end, this particular myth, more than any other, is apt to produce further declension and despair. This is the case even when an American president chooses to physically wrap himself around the flag, a recent Trump embrace of rare and visually defiling repugnance.
“I belong, therefore I am.” This is not what philosopher René Descartes had in mind when, back in the 17th century, he had urged greater thought and expanding doubt. It is also a very sad credo. Unhesitatingly, it loudly shrieks that social acceptance is equivalent to physical survival, and that even the most sorely pretended pleasures of inclusion are inevitably worth pursuing.
There is much more. A push-button metaphysics of “apps” now reigns supreme in America. This immense attraction of smart phones and corresponding social networks stems in large part from our barren society’s machine-like existence. Within this increasingly robotic universe, every hint of human passion must be shunted away from any caring human emotions, and then re-directed along certain uniform and vicariously satisfying pathways.
Jurisprudentially, although international law obliges the United States to oppose all crimes of genocide and related crimes against humanity – and despite the fact that this binding international law is an established part of the municipal law of the United States – America’s president remains irremediably silent on war crimes committed by both America’s allies and its adversaries. These terms of relationship must be bound together because it has become substantially unclear in Trump’s inverted universe exactly who is friend and who is foe. When Trump says of North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un “We’re in love,” the rest of us are in real trouble.
We may still argue, and quite correctly, that human beings are the creators of their machines, not their servants. Yet, there exists today an implicit and hideous reciprocity between creator and creation, an elaborate and potentially murderous pantomime between the users and the used. Openly, our adrenalized American society is rapidly making a machine out of Man and Woman.
In an unforgivable inversion of Genesis, it now seems plausible that we have been created in the image not of God, but of the machine.
Mustn’t we now ask, at least those residually few Americans who would courageously remain determined thinkers and doubters, “What sort of redemption is this?”
For the moment, we Americans remain grinning but hapless captives in a deliriously noisy and stultifying mass. By relentlessly disclaiming any dint of interior life, we are able to proceed with our lives, very tentatively, of course, and – in absolutely every existential sphere – at the lowest possible common denominator.
Expressed in more palpable terms, our air, rail and land travel is too often insufferable, especially when compared to other western democracies. Our universities, institutions in which I have lived exclusively for more than the past half century, are generally bereft of anything that might ever hint at serious learning. For the most part, they have obligingly become submissive adjuncts to the larger corporate and entrepreneurial worlds.
Now, they are dedicated more than anything else to private wealth accumulation and institutional self-promotion. In America, let us be candid: “You are what you buy.” Or in a grotesque inversion of Descartes, “I don’t think, therefore I am.”
In the blatantly anti-intellectual Trump Era, this already intolerable trend merely continues to worsen.
There is still more pertinent detail to consider. Across the beleaguered land, our once traditionally revered Western Canon of literature and art has largely been replaced by unhidden and more “practical” emphases on job preparation, loyalty-building sports, and “branding”(quantitative rankings.) Apart from their unhappy drunkenness and broadly tasteless entertainments, the once-sacred spaces of “higher education” have managed to become something wholly unrelated to learning. Most visibly, though rarely acknowledged, our universities have morphed into a vocational pipeline to nonsensical and unsatisfying jobs.
Sometimes, as in the case of onetime “Trump University,” they are incapable of meeting even these embarrassingly minimal expectations.
Again, it is time for candor. For most of America’s young people, learning has become an inconvenient and burdensome commodity, nothing more. At the same time, as virtually everyone already understands, commodities exist for only one overriding purpose. They exist, like the newly minted college graduates themselves, to be bought and sold.
Beware, warns Zarathustra, of ever seeking virtue or quality at the marketplace. This is a place only for buying and selling, a venue for “deals.”
Though faced with genuine threats of war, illness, impoverishment and terror, millions of Americans still choose to amuse themselves to death with assorted forms of morbid excitement, public scandal (remember Schadenfreude), inedible foods, and the stunningly inane repetitions of an illiterate political discourse. Not a day goes by that we don’t notice some premonitory sign of impending catastrophe. Still, our bewildered and drug-numbed country continues to impose upon its exhausted and manipulated people a devaluation of challenging thought and a breakneck pace of unrelieved and unrewarding work.
Small wonder that “No Vacancy” signs now hang securely outside our psychiatric hospitals, childcare centers and ready-to-burst prisons.
In an 1897 essay titled “On Being Human,” Woodrow Wilson inquired coyly about the authenticity of America. “Is it even open to us to choose to be genuine?” he asked. This president (a president who actually read and wrote serious books) answered “yes,” but only if we would first refuse to join the misleading “herds” of mass society. Otherwise, President Wilson already understood, our entire society would be left bloodless, a skeleton, dead with that rusty corrosion of broken machinery, more disabling than even the sordid decompositions of an individual person.
In all societies, Emerson had already understood, the care of individual “souls” is our most urgent responsibility. Conceivably, there could emerge a better“American Soul,”but not until we first agree to shun the variously inter-penetrating seductions of mass culture – that is, (1) rank imitation; (2) shallow thinking; (3) organized mediocrity; and (4) a manifestly predatory politics of ethnicity, race and class. Of course, any such far-reaching rejection will not be easy. It will take time.
And time is something we no longer have.
The alternative would be for us to embrace an intolerably “hollow” future, one offering not a national life of any excellence or promise, but a “cactus land” – a decaying country ever more willing “to receive the supplication of a dead man’s hand.” This would represent an unalterably lethal embrace, one earlier described (in generic terms, of course) by 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard as “a sickness unto death.” In this cactus land, hope would inevitably give way to abject surrender and expanding despair.
Eventually, resembling the probable
survivors of a future nuclear war (perhaps even
literally), the living could envy the dead.
 See especially Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time (1952).
 Both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung thought of “soul” (in German, Seele) as the very essence of a human being. Neither Freud nor Jung ever provides a precise definition of the term, but clearly it was not intended by either in any ordinary religious sense. For both, it was a still-recognizable and critical seat of both mind and passions in this life. Interesting, too, in the present context, is that Freud explained his already-predicted decline of America by various express references to “soul.” Freud was plainly disgusted by any civilization so apparently unmoved by considerations of true “consciousness” (e.g., awareness of intellect and literature), and even thought that the crude American commitment to perpetually shallow optimism and material accomplishment at any cost would occasion sweeping psychological misery. Per the following brief discussion of America’s rampant Opiate Crisis, he was most assuredly prophetic.
 One has to wonder just how many Americans can even afford to have essential dental care. As a practical matter, for a great many Americans (both poor and aged) teeth are simply no longer affordable.
 In the words of Mr. Justice Gray, delivering the judgment of the US Supreme Court in Paquete Habana (1900): “International law is part of our law, and must be ascertained and administered by the courts of justice of appropriate jurisdiction….” (175 U.S. 677(1900)) See also: Opinion in Tel-Oren vs. Libyan Arab Republic (726 F. 2d 774 (1984)).Moreover, the specific incorporation of treaty law into US municipal law is expressly codified at Art. 6 of the US Constitution, the so-called “Supremacy Clause.”
How Trump can beat Kamala Harris in 2024
The hopes for Vice President Kamala Harris were big, but as the months of her first year in office progressed, they evaporated quickly.
As Vice President, Mike Pence negotiated ceasefire agreements with Turkey in Syria and did a lot of diplomatic work. So the VP’s role is not exactly about sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be President. But this seems to be Kamala’s game at the moment. She does videos with girls who should dream big but when it comes to her actual responsibilities she is nowhere to be seen. It’s not enough to be the first black woman VP. That doesn’t guarantee your “historic legacy”. It’s what you do that counts.
Biden tasked Kamala with the southern border, that horny issue that Trump wanted to take up and which Democrats are not interested in.
The truth here is a geographical one: simply in geographic terms, the US southern border is so vast that it can’t be secured unless something changes in US policy. Not everyone that wants to enter a country should be able to do that. The same goes for Americans who would be stopped at the border if they tried to enter illegally Bulgaria, just to name an example. The rules of legal entry still apply across the world, and for people escaping dire circumstances such as refugees we have a separate set of rules where they can apply for asylum. That doesn’t include anyone from any country that wants to enter any country, but surely a guiding principle should be humane treatment even for those that are not allowed to enter or that have to leave. The situation on the southern border were children were separated from their parents and were kept in cages was absolutely horrific, so one hoped that with her legal experience, child of immigrants-origin, and black, Indian, female leadership, Kamala would be better suited at finding humane solutions than Trump.
But Kamala did not even wish to visit the border, and nothing changed when the Haitian immigrants’ crisis hit either. She is just not interested; she just wants to be President. Kamala was expected to deliver a more sensitive approach because this is why she was elected – for issues such as these. Leaders of diversity are not elected just to be there, because it’s great to look at all kinds of people, but because the political system and decision-making supposedly becomes more representative and better.
People elect leaders on platforms to help workers, such as veteran Senator Sherrod Brown, exactly for that – to help workers. That’s why he is on the right committees such as agriculture, forestry, nutrition. You won’t see him all of a sudden interested in big tech and the finance industry, not willing to touch his original issues. That would be strange, right?
Women leaders whose platform is being a woman and breaking glass ceilings to lead the way, are expected to deliver on that. Not all women leaders have that line and this line should not be expected from all women, but the ones that do run on being black women leaders for the community should deliver on that. That’s their thing, that’s what they ran on.
Black Lives Matter congressmen who run on that platform are expected to be like that once they get elected, too. Similarly, if a politician runs on being rich, successful and someone who understand big corporate America and will drive big business forward, you expect them to be exactly that way.
If you run for office as the migrants’ Congresswoman you better be doing that. I remember Congressman Grijalva of Arizona whom I met previously. His had was a Mexican immigrant and the Congressman was someone feeling and supporting Mexican immigrants; that was his thing, his selling point and his driving issue. You wouldn’t see him go: “Oh yeah, the migrants. No thanks!” The Congressman was well-aware that he was elected in that identity out of all the identities he could have decided to bring to the fore.
My point is that if you’re selected for specific views and characteristic and you are putting that as your headline motto which defines you, that means that people will be expecting that from you because that’s why you got elected to begin with. So there are very clear and reasonable expectations that Kamala has to be better towards refugees if she ran on being a child of immigrants. She has to be more sensitive towards the pains of what she was elected to represent. If you are running for office as a mother, wife and a child of immigrants, then family issues and gentle, humane treatment towards immigrant children should be a priority. It’s only fair in the political contract of being an elected official.
Politicians choose very carefully what identities they flash and show to the whole world to see. That’s a very conscious choice. The story would be different if Kamala ran on being a top legal mind that will fix many issues in the justice system, while not wanting to bring her origin, female-ness and race as selling points. That would have been an equally valid political approach. Then people would have expected that identity to come to the fore, once she stepped in office. My hopes and prescriptions for Kamala, for example, was that she could reform the FBI and the way the FBI treats progressive protests. I wrote about it right at the start of the Biden-Harris administration all over the left media in Salon, Raw Story and AlterNet, urging VP Harris to take a look at the FBI. This would have included indiscriminate surveillance, for example, and the legal standards and thresholds to open investigations for serious crimes like terrorism. What we are witnessing now is that the same way the FBI and the repressive apparatus treated reasonable voices on the left clumping them together with violent groups on the far left, is happening to the right, where Trump supporters and regular people on the right are spied on and put in the same group as armed, violent men. This is what the FBI generally does to the new big enemy. Who that is changes with the fashion trends. My hope was that Kamala could stop the FBI from running wild, using her extensive legal experience. That was a long shot. She is not interested even in top-of-the-line emergency issues such as the border that Biden assigned to her.
This is why I think that Trump can beat Kamala in 2024, if she becomes the Democratic nominee. I won’t be surprised if she runs on a platform of becoming the first woman president and first woman black president. But for that you need to have demonstrated that you are for women and have supported women, and you are for black people and have supported the black issues.
I think it’s only fair. I am asking people to actually start holding politicians accountable to the identities that politicians themselves have chosen to flash out. If you’re neither for women, nor for people of color’s problems, then the identity presented is fake and we are better off with someone whose identity matches their actions.
It’s not enough to stage videos with little girls who should “dream big” because “everything is possible” in a world where “women can be anything they want to be”. The role of the chief political executive is not to be an “inspirational” celebrity, someone that people look up to for philosophical and motivational inspiration like the Dalai Lama. The role of a President or VP is to solve problems. I know it doesn’t sound very glamorous because it’s not.
I think Trump can win 2024 if he drops the far-right movements. The rights to protest and free speech are no longer protected, as soon as there is violence involved. Trump can also drop some of the offensive language and still be Trump. If he keeps what was good from his policies, such as the economy pre-Covid, he can convince a lot of Americans who are already chanting against Joe Biden. America already hates Biden and Kamala – if I can hear it all the way here in Bulgaria.
The international disorder after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the causes of the Taliban victory
What does the defeat of the US system in Afghanistan show? Can war-torn Afghanistan achieve peace and independence? Where is the way out for Afghanistan?
This unfortunate country has become a battleground for the great powers and the hegemonic policy has led to unrest, war and devastation in Afghanistan for 42 years.
Let us look at the world map. Afghanistan is located in the hinterland of the Eurasian continent. It is the point of convergence of West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia. It also borders on China through a long, narrow piece of land. From the viewpoint of geopolitical theory, Afghanistan is known as the “crossroads of the Asian continent” because it holds the key points between the hinterland of Asia and the Middle East, besides being the plateau overlooking the Middle East and looking towards East Asia, and has always been at the centre of the great powers’ appetites.
All powers are convinced of the validity of the geocentric theory of British geopolitician Halford Mackinder (1861-1947), who believed that whoever controlled those areas would be able to dominate Asia and the Eurasian continent: indeed, Afghanistan is precisely there.
Historically, from the United Kingdom to the Soviet Union and the United States of America, the countries with hegemonic ambitions came to that land and brought endless wars.
Since the late 1970s, the game of great powers and internal State conflicts have caused forty years of bloodshed.
In October 2001, the United States launched a war in Afghanistan, overthrowing the Taliban regime in the name of fighting al-Qaeda. In the last twenty years, the United States has invested a lot of resources in Afghanistan. It has supported the Afghan government established by the White House and has trained a local army in the country. It has also tried to make Afghanistan – outside of any historical, social and religious logic – a “model democratic country” according to their wasp style: in short, it has tried to impose a Lutheran model on an Islamic country.
Over the past two decades, nearly 2,500 US soldiers have been killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan and tens of thousands of people, including military service providers, have been wounded. The total cost of the war has exceeded two trillion US dollars. Under the banner of “counter-terrorism”, the long war has not only plunged the United States into a quagmire of lack of international credibility and doubts about its methods of conducting war, civilisation and democracy, but – even more severely – it has caused great disasters to a people far removed from it in every sense.
According to the ‘War Cost Accounting’ project at Brown University in the USA, at least 47,245 Afghan civilians were killed in that war from 2001 to mid-April 2020. According to the figures released by the United Nations, the war in Afghanistan has forced 2.7 million Afghans to flee abroad and has resulted in the internal displacement of four million Afghans, with a total population of 39 million.
Besides leading to humanitarian disasters, increased poverty caused by the war afflicts the population. Figures show that since the fiscal year 2019-2020, Afghanistan’s gross domestic product has been about 18.89 billion US dollars and GDP per capita only 586.6 US dollars. The finances of the former Afghan government had not managed to balance the books for many years and 60% of the fiscal budget came from international aid.
In the continuing war bloodshed, the United States of America tried in vain to remedy the situation and lost its white man’s burden to stop the bleeding.
On the day the Taliban entered Kabul, a number of US politicians spoke out and publicly criticised the government’s decision to hastily withdraw troops from Afghanistan and said that the United States should be held responsible for the current situation in Afghanistan. The former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, stated in an interview with RAI on September 10, 2001 that the United States of America should stay and rule the country directly. We can also add: just like a colony.
On August 15, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney said in an interview with ABC that the White House bore an inescapable responsibility for the Taliban’s fast conquest of Afghanistan. She said that the impact of the current situation was not limited to Afghanistan and her country, but would also affect international relations. Liz Cheney also stated that the US withdrawal did not actually end the war in Afghanistan, but would make it continue in other ways.
Indeed, the current turbulent situation in Afghanistan is closely related to the US hasty withdrawal from the country.
On April 14, 2021, President Biden announced that he would withdraw 2,500 US troops from Afghanistan before September 11, 2021, marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. On the evening of the same day, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg also announced that some seven thousand NATO coalition troops would be withdrawn at the same time.
When US and NATO troops officially started their withdrawal on May 1, the security situation in Afghanistan worsened by the day. According to The New York Times, from April 30 to May 6, forty-four civilians had been killed in the attack in Afghanistan in a single week, the highest number of people in a week since October 2020.
This proves once again that the US practice of bringing “democracy” to other countries with the use of weapons, harms the others and the USA itself and can only bring disorder and unrest.
The United States of America has continuously created chaos and with “friendly fire” and “by mistake” has killed civilians in Afghanistan for 25 years. The minimum positive impression the Afghan people had has been completely wiped out. It existed only in a few Hollywood movies at the beginning of the 2000s, with the classic child and wise old man saved by the US good soldier.
For any sovereign country, such behaviour can only be hegemonic and ruthless.
The twenty-year US war in Afghanistan has not achieved its goals: the United States has only tried to save face through an irresponsible withdrawal. This is tantamount to saying: “I would prefer a 3-0 defeat by default than a 7-0 defeat on the pitch”.
The war was costly, in view of vainly conquering the strategic position towards Mackinder’s heartland that holds the last raw materials on the planet.
The tragedy in Afghanistan is just another great failure of the Western attempt of imposing democracy through violence.
It is difficult for a country with great historical traditions to be transformed and assimilated by the West; it develops antibodies of resistance and rejection. The efforts to “democratize” Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. have turned these countries into guinea pigs of the US liberal utopia. These guinea pigs, however, have not died, but have somehow managed to escape vivisection and laboratory tests.
The Taliban won in Kabul with a ten-day blitz: the “US democracy” was the Maoist “paper tiger”, which had already been driven out by China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Vietnam etc.
After the Taliban entered the capital Kabul and controlled almost the entire territory of Afghanistan, many media expressed their surprise at the speed of the Afghan fighters. On August 6, the Taliban occupied Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz Province in south-western Afghanistan, the first major city conquered by the Taliban since US and allied troops had begun withdrawing. On August 7, the Taliban conquered Sheberghān, the capital of Jowzjan Province. In the following days, they seized over twenty provincial capitals, including Konduz, a strategic city in northern Afghanistan; Herat, the third largest city; Kandahar, the second largest city, and Mazar-i-Sharif, the fourth largest city; and finally occupied the capital city.
Such a speed of advance makes the previous military organisation and US bases seem completely useless and disastrous. According to reports, on August 15 President Biden and senior US officials were shocked.
Not long before, President Biden had claimed that the Afghan government had 300,000 well-equipped soldiers, while the Taliban had only 75,000. While recalling Vietnam, President Biden said: “Under no circumstances will we see people evacuated from the roof of the US embassy in Afghanistan”.
President Biden’s declarations, however, were the “famous last words”. When the US military helicopter landed on the roof of the US embassy in Afghanistan to pick up besieged fellow citizens, people thought of the Saigon tragedy. Indeed, Afghanistan is only the most recent Saigon-style tragedy, but it will certainly not be the last.
The Taliban’s quick offensive regards their strategy. It is very appropriate and they know how to use negotiation skills in battle simultaneously to struggle with the opponents while fighting them. A very strong traditional strategy inherited from the legacies of the wars of liberation against the Brits in the 19th and 20th centuries, which saved them from ending up like India, or at least the western Muslim part later called Pakistan. As you can see, it all adds up.
The US-backed Afghan government and army were made up of generally corrupt, incompetent and opportunistic personnel. They gradually surrendered to their compatriots, preferring past enemies to the US promises to escape to the paradise on earth of democracy.
High officials and star-spangled Afghan military officers left their posts without authorisation and had no thought at all of maintaining a regime which, on its cessation, would be saved only at the highest ranks, so as not to be treated like Mohammad Najibullah, captured by the Taliban in the UN headquarters in Kabul and shot on September 27, 1996.
Corruption is one of the causes of the US defeat. Brainiacs, eggheads and the US think tanks at Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Yale, or in other places, have not yet understood that when you go to a country that is distant in every sense from your own – a country and a people that you despise so much that you want to change them “for their own good” – only corrupt, delinquent, ignorant and opportunistic people will come with you as occupier. The same people who were already largely despised by the local people. The Taliban speed of advancement has demonstrated to what extent the above is true.
The political-administrative concept – with which a military umbrella Afghanistan-Eden was designed – was based on liberal and “democratic” assumptions that were incompatible with the Afghan society.
Not only could that government not represent the Afghan people, but it further fuelled corruption and inefficiency because it relied on a large amount of international aid.
The “design” of the former Afghan government system could neither draw sufficient human resources (i.e. credibility from its people), nor gain effective control of the country (people enlisting only for a clean uniform and a few dollars to support their poor families).
On the contrary, after twenty years of armed struggle, the Taliban have made many reshuffles at the top leadership, as well as reorganisations. They have limited their radicalism and learned some lessons and positive practices during the war.
Today, an Afghanistan that stops wars and achieves peace is the common expectation of the international community and the countries of the region and the planet.
Respecting Afghanistan’s independence means not interfering in its internal affairs and not exporting the so-called democracy. Only in this way can peace and development be achieved in this war-torn country.
Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people alone. Imposed “democracy” is always overthrown because it does not suit the wishes of the people it seeks to subjugate.
A peaceful and stable Afghanistan will remove the obstacles to regional security, stability and development cooperation and create favourable conditions for seeking cooperation with other countries and achieving a win-win situation.
Hunter Biden Shows How to Become a Leading Artist in America
U.S. President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, is one of America’s top artists. That means he has become able to sell his paintings to the largest number of America’s richest people at the highest prices: his artistic patrons are millionaires, centi-millionaires, and billionaires, who know that the Biden Family operation splits its money among all of its members, including the “Big Guy”, U.S. President Joe Biden, who could benefit when such a buyer pays money to Hunter for a painting. They operate as a family business (or, actually, businesses), and everybody (including “the ‘Big Guy’,” and including “H” or Hunter, and also James Biden, Joe’s brother) gets a cut in it. This fact was reported by the Wall Street Journal, on 23 October 2020, whose sources were the corporation’s CEO (Bobulinski), who owned half, and “corporate documents reviewed by the Journal.” However, the American “true”/“false” news-rating firm PolitiFact dismissed that report, by alleging “there is no smoking gun” because “Credible news organizations have found no evidence to corroborate Bobulinski’s claims about a role in the proposed venture for Joe Biden. Joe Biden’s financial documents show no indication of any income related to the venture.” PolitiFact implicitly didn’t consider the WSJ a “credible news organization.” (They didn’t explain why.) However, the WSJ had not made any claim that Joe Biden — or anyone else — had profited, at all, from this particular corporation, SinoHawk Holdings, which was only one of a number of such ventures (such as Rosemont Seneca, which was involved with Ukraine’s Burisma Holdings) in which enterprise Hunter Biden partnered with his father, and father’s brother Jim, as well as with Biden friends. There was no follow-up by the press on the matter of Hunter Biden’s apparent influence-peddling (such as about Britain’s Daily Mail having reported, on 17 December 2020, that “Bobulinski revealed an email sent from Hunter Biden to Ye in June of 2017 in which he sends Ye his ‘best wishes from the entire Biden family’” — including, of course, the U.S. President). But federal authorities have copied the contents of at least one of Hunter Biden’s laptops, and know all the email and documents that were on it, and yet the press (other than Britain’s Daily Mail) shunned any evidence, anywhere, that might go beyond what Bobulinski and “corporate documents” had disclosed to the WSJ. All liberal ‘news’-media (and most conservative ones) shunned any such investigations. (There are no mainstream progressive U.S. news-media; and, therefore, liberal and conservative ones are pretty much the entire media-spectrum in the U.S./UK empire.)
Other such similar matters have likewise been ignored by most of the billionaires-controlled U.S. and UK press; but a few conservative, pro-Republican-Party, billionaires have had their media look further into Hunter Biden’s influence-peddling. And, now, influence-peddling is being carried out in — and corrupting — the high-end contemporary art market, as will soon be described here.
Influence-peddling has been prominent among aristocracies for thousands of years. There’s nothing unusual about the Bidens regarding this. But, before describing the way it’s being carried out now in the high-end art market, a few more examples about the Bidens’ doing it in the fields of finance will show more of the basic pattern that’s now being applied in art-sales:
To start with, as published by the Republican billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper N.Y. Post on 15 October 2020 under the headline “Emails reveal how Hunter Biden tried to cash in big on behalf of family with Chinese firm”, a 2 August 2017 email on Hunter Biden’s computer, emailed from him to Gongwen Dong and copied to Mervyn Yan Yan stated:
My Understanding is that the original agreement with the Director was for consulting fees based on introductions alone a rate of $10M per year for a three year guarantee total of $30M. The chairman changed that deal after we me[t] in MIAMI TO A MUCH MORE LASTING AND LUCRATIVE ARRANGEMENT to create a holding company 50% owned by ME and 50% by him. Consulting fees is one piece of our income stream but the reason this proposal by the chairman was so much more interesting to me and my family is that we would also be partners in the equity and profits of the JV [Joint Venture]’s investments. Hence I assumed the reason for our discussion today in which you made clear that the Chairman would first get his investment capital returned in the profits would be split 50/50. If you [are] saying this is not the case then please return us to the original deal $10M per year a guaranteed 3 years plus bonus payments for any successful deal we introduce. let’s discuss thank you
That is clearly influence-peddling.
Then, as published in the UK Conservative Party’s billionaire Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere’s newspaper Daily Mail, on 10 December 2020, under the headline “Revealed: Hunter Biden raked in $6M in just nine months from Chinese business dealings – and that doesn’t include the 2.8 carat-diamond he got as a gift”, it opened with a summary:
• Hunter Biden raked in $6m over nine months from his Chinese business dealings according to a timeline of his affairs which goes into unprecedented detail
• Joe Biden’s son was involved with a series of transactions which were flagged for ‘potential financial criminal activity’, a Senate report has revealed
• The payments began days after Hunter sent his infamous email to one associate in 2017 talking about money for ‘the big guy’ and deals for ‘me and my family’
• The money included a $5m payment from a Chinese energy company with ties to the Communist party
• He also made $1m for work with an associate who was later jailed for bribery
• The report concludes that Hunter’s business associates were ‘linked to the Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army’
• The Senate report focuses on Hunter’s work for Chinese company CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects
• CEFC’s founder and former chairman Ye Jianming gave Hunter a 2.8-carat diamond after a business meeting in Miami, CNN has reported
Their article continued:
The payments began days after Hunter sent his infamous email to one associate in 2017 talking about money for ‘the big guy’ and deals for ‘me and my family’.
The report concludes that Hunter’s business associates were ‘linked to the Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army’.
It states: ‘Those associations resulted in millions of dollars in cash flow’.
The report prepared by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, which was first reported by Fox News, comes as Hunter revealed that authorities in Delaware are investigating his tax affairs. …
According to Politico, [in an excellent article covering many different apparently corrupt business deals that Hunter and his family have participated in and that the U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ought to have launched investigations into] federal prosecutors in Washington and New York are also looking into possible securities fraud and money laundering by the troubled 50-year-old, who has battled drug and alcohol addiction.
The Senate report focuses on Hunter’s work for Chinese company CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects.
These matters are highly relevant to Hunter’s high art prices, because buying a painting from an influence-peddler is one possible way to buy influence.
For example: let’s say that a particular painting by Hunter Biden is worth, to be generous about it, $5,000, but that a billionaire who wants some decision from the White House to go in a certain way is paying $500,000 for it. This would be a $495,000 advance-payment for the decision to go that way; and, if the President then decides to go a different way on that decision, then the President might lose $5,000,000 in campaign-donations from that buyer during the next campaign-cycle. And, maybe, on the opposite side of the gamble, if the President’s decision instead goes the way that the purchaser has been wanting, that buyer will end up tens-of-millions dollars richer as a result of this $495,000 advance-payment to the President’s son. So: a President, in retirement, can become a very wealthy person, by having sold-out the American public, to the highest bidders. This has become ‘democracy’, in today’s America. It’s aristocracy instead.
On 8 July 2021, Britain’s Telegraph, which is owned by the Conservative twin aristocratic brothers, the Barclays, bannered “The Art of the Deal: Is a painting by Hunter Biden really worth $500,000?” and opened “White House ethics experts have expressed alarm at plans to sell paintings by Hunter Biden for up to half a million dollars each. The US president’s son has reinvented himself as an artist after a turbulent struggle with addiction.”
Then, on 22 September 2021, The Atlantic, which the neoliberal (libertarian) neoconservative (imperialist) (or now otherwise called simply “liberal”) Democratic Party billionheiress, Laurene Powell Jobs, owns, bannered “The Emerging Artistry of Hunter Biden: His upcoming solo show is a headache for the White House — and a window into the murky finances of the international art market”, and described the seedy arrangements that Hunter and the White House have made with the New York City art gallery that will be opening Hunter’s exhibition this month. Ms. Jobs takes advice from and highly respects David G. Bradley, the prior neoconservative owner of that and several other prominent American magazines.
Then, on October 5th, another Laureen-Powell-Jobs-backed magazine, Mother Jones headlined “Check Out These Exclusive Pics From Hunter Biden’s Big LA Art Opening”, and reported:
On Friday night, at a pop-up event in Hollywood, Hunter Biden shared his artwork with the LA glitterati. In a big white room at Milk Studios, usually the site of photo or video shoots, 200 or so people gathered to experience the art of President Joe Biden’s son.
As has been previously reported, his gallerist, George Bergès, is looking to fetch between $75,000 and $500,000 a piece for Biden’s paintings.
Ms. Jobs is also a strong backer of current V.P. Kamala Harris, who is even more intensely neoconservative (pro-imperialist, pro-military-industrial complex) than is Joe Biden, and therefore Harris received backing from even more billionaires during the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential primaries than Joe Biden did. Neoconservative Democratic-Party billionaires generally want Harris to be the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate in 2024. They therefore want Biden not to run again. Ms. Jobs is now perhaps the top kingmaker in the Democratic Party, and maybe she wants Kamala Harris to be the Party’s nominee in 2024.
Then, On October 6th, Britain’s Daily Mail (which had been the only mainstream news-medium to have published, on 11 August 2021, lots of photos and other information from Hunter’s own computers, showing him naked with prostitutes and using cusswords while conversing with them) headlined “EXCLUSIVE: Hunter Biden is seen hanging out with star-studded potential buyers of his half-million-dollar art at LA’s Milk Studios debut show, despite White House claims he will have no idea who is buying his pieces”. It opened by reporting:
Hunter Biden made his professional debut on Friday at his first art exhibition in Hollywood, California, DailyMail.com can reveal
His paintings were showcased at Milk Studios to 200 guests including Sugar Ray Leonard, Moby, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the artist behind the Obama ‘hope’ poster
Other notable artist guests were British performer Millie Brown and LA-born Gary Baseman – famed for his ABC/Disney animated series Teachers Pet
A writer who attended the exhibition told DailyMail.com the crowd appeared ‘conservatively wealthy and would look to be buying the work’
The event had raised ethics concerns after the president’s son’s paintings were priced at $75,000 to half a million dollars
The White House claims they are avoiding any ethical conflict by ensuring neither the president nor Hunter will know the identity of the buyers
The LA exhibition – hosted by gallerist Georges Bergès – was one of two art shows Hunter’s work will be featured in this fall
Rupert Murdoch’s N.Y. Post bannered, on October 9th, “Art gallery repping Hunter Biden received $500K federal COVID loan, records show” and reported that,
A federal COVID loan to the art gallery repping Hunter Biden more than doubled after his father took office, records show.
The Georges Berges Gallery initially received a $150,000 COVID “disaster assistance loan” from the Small Business Administration last year, according to public records.
But the loan was recently “revised,” with the SBA approving a further $350,000 to the SoHo gallery this summer, records show. …
All tolled, $580,000 in taxpayer-funded COVID relief aid was doled out to a gallery with only two employees, according to SBA records. …
While there is no evidence President Biden helped secure the additional $350,000 loan, a watchdog group found that of the more than 100 galleries in New York City’s 10th congressional district, which includes SoHo, TriBeCa and Chelsea, the Georges Berges Gallery received “by far” the largest SBA disaster loan windfall.
It’s so easy to become rich in America if you’re in business with ‘the right people’.
Joe Biden is, to the Democratic Party, what Donald Trump was to the Republican Party — not its billionaires’ #1 choice for the U.S. Presidency, but an acceptable choice to them. Whereas Republican billionaires’ #1 choice was Ted Cruz, and they settled on Donald Trump in order to beat Hillary Clinton, Democratic billionaires’ #1 choice was Pete Buttigieg, and they settled on their #5 choice Biden in order to stop Bernie Sanders’s Presidential campaign. Not even a single one of America’s approximately 700 billionaires donated to Sanders, who was the most progressive of the candidates.
And, of course, billionaires and centi-millionaires are also the most sought-after customers for works of art. Hunter Biden knows the ropes in America’s high-end art market because he’s one of America’s aristocrats (despite his family’s not having yet gotten into the billionaire-class, the top class in the aristocracy). The Biden family is working its way up, in today’s American ‘democracy’. This is called “capitalism,” isn’t it? Or, is it, instead, fascism — a capitalist dictatorship, instead of any longer being a capitalist democracy? After all, America now spends approximately half of the entire world’s military expenditures, and since 1945 has done more coups and foreign invasions and military occupations than any other nation in all of the world’s history has done. And the U.S. also has a higher percentage of its residents in prisons than does any other nation on the planet. How can a nation like that NOT be a fascist regime — a capitalist imperialistic regime? (Such regimes used to be called empires, or simply imperialistic aristocracies.) Has its propaganda been fooling people?
In a country like this, the billionaires control both of the major Parties; and, whereas most Democrats view Republican politicians as being corrupt, and most Republicans view Democratic politicians as being corrupt, the truth is, instead, that the likelihood of a successful politician of either Party being not corrupt is about as probable as would be to find snow in hell. This isn’t really about the Biden clan (nor about the Trump clan); it is, instead, about today’s America: it’s simply the way that an imperialist capitalistic regime works. When has an empire NOT been corrupt? Never. It can’t function without being corrupt.
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