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The Atom And The Virus: A Progressively Lethal Convergence For The United States

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“It is only in the thick of calamity that one gets hardened to the truth – in other words, to silence.”-Albert Camus, The Plague

Americans may too easily forget, in the midst of a biological plague, that assorted “ordinary” geopolitical threats have not thereby gone away. In this regard, multiple risks of nuclear war with several adversarial nations have actually been growing. Here, too, grievously fearful developments are largely attributable to an incompetent and indifferent American president.

Prima facie, the prognoses are plain. Going forward with Donald J. Trump, the United States could only anticipate the utterly worst forms of catastrophic convergence. Without hyperbole, should this president somehow remain in office, America’s plausible future could include variously intersecting and steadily escalating existential harms.

It’s time for recognizing particularities. In narrow geostrategic terms, North Korea and Iran represent the most obvious and compelling nuclear threats. This assessment is credible even though Iran is not yet operationally nuclear.[1] Why? It is because Iran is still capable of fighting a massive conventional conflict against America’s principal Middle Eastern ally.

In brief, Tehran could at some point prod the United States to consider using some of its extant nuclear forces on behalf of Israel.

There is more. Certain Sunni Arab states worried about an impending “Persian bomb” could also seek to obtain a countervailing nuclear capacity for themselves.[2]  In this connection, Egypt and Saudi Arabia come most immediately to mind.

What happens next? What particular intersections or synergies might arise here involving Iran and Israel? And what might be the concurrent effects of “plague” (Covid19 pandemic) upon all of the pertinent “players?”

In  essence, however the plausible conflict scenarios might be configured, all pertinent prospects are unprecedented and all portend unique outcomes that are sui generis.

Looking ahead, US policy attention should also be directed toward ongoing nuclear developments in Russia and China. As we are very clearly in the midst of a second Cold War, or “Cold War II,” these ongoing Russian and Chinese developments provide a background for other nuclear  developments underway in Pyongyang and Tehran. “Cold War II,”[3] recently underscored by the growing scandal of Russian bounties to the Taliban for killing US forces in Afghanistan, represents the system within which virtually all contemporary world politics should now be categorized and assessed.[4]

In brief, the current Great Powers’ disposition to war, however it might be ascertained, isrelevant analytic background for still-wider nuclear interactions.

Planning ahead, what explanatory theories and scenarios could best guide the Trump administration in its many-sided interactions with North Korea, Iran, China and Russia? Before answering this basic question with any adequate and clarifying specificity, a “correct” answer – any correct answer – must depend upon one single overarching assumption. This is the inherently problematic expectation of adversarial rationality.

It now follows, among other things, that a primary “order of business” for those American strategic analysts and planners focused on this most urgent set of security problems will be reaching informed judgments about each determinable adversary’s ordering of preferences. By definition, only those particular adversaries who would value national survival more highly than any other preference or combination of preferences would be acting rationally.

For scholars and policy-makers, some further basic questions must now be considered. First, what are the operational meanings of relevant terminologies and/or vocabularies? Accordingly, in the formal study of international relations and military strategy, decisional irrationality never means the same thing as madness. Nonetheless, certain residual warnings about madness should still warrant very serious US policy consideration. This is because both “ordinary” irrationality and full-scale madness could exert more-or-less comparable effects upon any examined country’s national security decision-making processes.

Again, nothing here for the intellectually faint-hearted.

Sometime, for the United States, understanding and anticipating these ascertainable effects could display existential importance. In all such prospective considerations, words would matter a great deal. In normal strategic parlance, “irrationality” identifies a decisional foundation wherein national self-preservation is not summa, not the very highest and ultimate preference.

A prospectively irrational decision-maker in Pyongyang, Tehran or elsewhere need not be determinably “mad” in order to become  troubling for policy analysis by aptly designated leaders in Washington. Such an adversary needs “only” to be more conspicuously concerned about certain discernible preferences or values than about its own collective self-preservation. One example would be preferences expressed for  certain feasible outcomes other than national survival.  Normally, any such behavior would be unexpected and counter-intuitive, but it would still not be unprecedented or inconceivable. Moreover, identifying the specific criteria or correlates of any such considered survival imperatives could prove irremediably subjective and/or simply indecipherable.

Whether an examined American adversary were sometime deemed irrational or “mad,” US military planners would have to input a generally similar decisional calculation. An analytic premise here would be that the particular adversary “in play” might not be suitably deterred from launching a military attack by any American threats of retaliatory destruction, even where such threats would be fully credible and presumptively massive. Any such failure of US military deterrence could include conventional and nuclear retaliatory threats.

In fashioning America’s nuclear strategy vis-à-vis nuclear and not-yet-nuclear adversaries,[5] US military planners must include a mechanism to determine whether a designated adversary (e.g., North Korea or Iran) will more likely be rational or irrational. Operationally, this means ascertaining whether the identifiably relevant foe will value its collective survival (whether as a sovereign state or an organized terror group) more highly than any other preference or combination of preferences. Always, this early judgment must be based upon defensibly sound analytic principles.

In principle, at least, it should never be affected in any tangible way by what particular analysts might themselves simply “want to believe.”[6]

A corollary US obligation, depending in large part upon this prior judgment concerning enemy rationality, will expect strategic planners to assess whether a properly nuanced posture of  “pretended irrationality” could purposefully enhance America’s nuclear deterrence posture.  On several occasions, it should be recalled here, President Donald Trump had openly praised at least the underlying premises of such an eccentric posture. Was such presidential praise intellectually warranted and/or properly justified?

Ever?

It depends. US enemies include both state and sub-state foes, whether considered singly or in various assorted forms of collaboration. Such forms could be “hybridized” in different ways between state and sub-state adversaries.[7] In dealing with Washington, each recognizable class of enemies could sometime choose to feign irrationality.

In principle, this could represent a potentially clever strategy to “get a jump” on the United States in any expected or already-ongoing competition for “escalation dominance.”[8]  Naturally, any such calculated pretense could also fail, perhaps calamitously. Cautionary strategic behavior based on serious conceptual thinking should always be the presidential “order of the day.”[9]

There is something else. On occasion, these same enemies could “decide,” whether consciously or unwittingly, to actually be irrational.[10]  In any such innately bewildering circumstances, it would then become incumbent upon American strategic planners to capably assess which basic form of irrationality –  pretended or authentic – is actually underway. Thereafter, these planners would need to respond with a dialectically orchestrated and optimally counterpoised set of all possible reactions.

Once again, in purely intellectual terms, this would represent an uncommonly “tall order.”

There is more. In this context, the term “dialectically” (drawn originally from ancient Greek thought, especially Plato’s dialogues) is used with very precise meanings. This is done in order to signify a continuous or ongoing question-and-answer format of relevant strategic reasoning.

By definition, any instance of enemy irrationality would value certain specific preferences (e.g., presumed religious obligations or personal and/or regime safety) more highly than collective survival. For America, the grievously threatening prospect of facing some genuinely irrational nuclear adversary is prospectively most worrisome with regard to North Korea and at least possibly, in a now rapidly closing future, Iran.[11] Apropos of all such more-or-less credible apprehensions, it is unlikely that they could ever be meaningfully reduced by way of formal treaties or law-based agreements.[12]

Here it would be well worth remembering seventeenth-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes’ classic warning in Leviathan:  “Covenants, without the sword, are but words….”[13] If this  traditional problem of global anarchy were not daunting enough for American strategists and decision-makers, it is further complicated by the largely unforeseeable effects of worldwide pandemic and, perhaps correspondingly, the effects of any consequent chaos.

Chaos is not the same as anarchy. Chaos is much “more than” anarchy. We have lived with anarchy or absence of central government in modern world politics since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648,[14] but we have yet to descend into any genuine worldwide chaos.[15]

 How should the United States proceed? At some point, at least in principle, the very best option could seem to be some sort of preemption;  that is, a defensive non-nuclear first-strike directed against situationally appropriate North Korean or Iranian hard targets. In actuality, however, it is already very late for launching an operationally cost-effective preemption against North Korea, and – even if it could be properly defended in law as “anticipatory self-defense”[16] – any such action would likely come at a much-too-substantial human and political cost.

In specific regard to any current and potentially protracted US-Iran enmity, the American side must consider how its nuclear weapons could best be leveraged against that adversarial state in virtually any war scenario. A rational answer here could never include any operational use of such weapons. The only pertinent questions for US planners, therefore, should concern the calculable extent to which an asymmetrical US threat of nuclear escalation could sometime be made sufficiently and aptly credible.[17]

Once again, by definition, as long as Iran should remain non-nuclear, any US nuclear threat would necessarily be asymmetrical.

By applying all available standards of ordinary reason and logic (there are, after all, no usable historical points of reference in such unprecedented situations), Washington could most suitably determine that certain nuclear threats against Iran would serve American security interests only when Iranian military capacities, though still non-nuclear, were convincingly overwhelming. Any such daunting scenario, though difficult to imagine ex nihilo, might nonetheless be conceivable. This “strategic dialectic” holds most convincingly if Tehran were willing to escalate (a) to massive direct conventional attacks upon American territories or populations, and/or (b) to the significant use of biological warfare capabilities.

In any matter of prospective biological warfare, it is worth noting that we are currently in the midst of a naturally-occurring biological “assault,” and that even in the complete absence of any specific adversarial animus or intent, the injurious consequences are already at the outer limits of tolerability and sustainability.

 Inter alia, all this should now imply a primary obligation for the United States (c) to focus continuously on incremental enhancements to its implicit nuclear deterrence posture; and (d) to develop a wide and nuanced range of plausible nuclear retaliatory options. The specific rationale of (d) (above), is the counter-intuitive understanding that credibility of nuclear threats could sometime vary inversely with perceived levels of destructiveness. In certain  foreseeable circumstances, this means that the successful nuclear deterrence of Iran could depend upon nuclear weapons that are deemed sufficiently low-yield or small.

Sometimes, in fashioning a national nuclear deterrence posture, counter-intuitive strategic insight is most correctly “on the mark,” and therefore most indispensable. This is likely one of these “multi-layered” times.

  There is more. Washington should continue to bear in mind that any US nuclear posture must focus on prevention rather than punishment. In any and all identifiable circumstances, using a portion of its available nuclear forces for vengeance rather than deterrence would miss the proverbial point; that is, to fully optimize US national security. Any American nuclear weapons use that were based on narrowly corrosive notions of revenge, and even if only as a residual or default option, would be irrational.

 These are all complex intellectual issues, not simply political ones. America’s many-sided nuclear deterrent must be backed up by recognizably robust systems of active defense (BMD), especially if there should arise any determinable reason to fear an irrationalnuclear adversary. Although it is already well-known that no system of active defense can ever be entirely “leak-proof,” there is still good reason to suppose that certain BMD deployments could help safeguard both US civilian populations (soft targets) and American nuclear retaliatory forces (hard targets).[18] This means that technologically advanced anti-missile systems must remain indefinitely as a steadily-modernizing component of this country’s nuclear deterrence posture. Among other elements of permissible self-defense, this suggests continuously expanding emphases on laser-based weapon systems.

While it may at  first sound annoyingly obvious, it must still be remembered that in the bewildering nuclear age, seemingly defensive strategies could sometime be viewed by uneasy adversaries as offensive. This is because the secure foundation of any system of nuclear deterrence must be some reasonable presumption of mutual vulnerability.“Everything is very simple in war,” says Clausewitz, in On War, “but the simplest thing is still difficult.”

To progress in its most vital national security obligations, American military planners must more expressly identify the prioritized goals of this country’s nuclear deterrence posture. Before any rationaladversary could be suitably deterred by an American nuclear deterrent, that enemy would first need to believe that Washington had capably maintained the capacity to launch appropriate nuclear reprisals for relevant forms of aggression (nuclear and perhaps biological/non-nuclear), and also the will[19] to undertake such uniquely consequential firings.

About the first belief criterion, it would almost certainly lie beyond any “reasonable doubt.”

Well beyond.

The second expectation, however, could sometime prove problematic and thus more-or-less “fatally” undermine US nuclear deterrence. In assorted ways that are not yet clearly understood, the necessary national will could be impacted by pandemic-related or even pandemic-created factors.[20] Significantly, too, there would be certain hard-to-foresee interactions or synergies taking place between US policy decisions and those of pertinent American adversaries.

 In more perplexing matters involving an expectedly irrationalnuclear enemy,[21] successful US deterrence would need to be based upon distinctly credible threats to enemy values other than national survival. Here, too, the actual prospect of enemy irrationality could be related to pandemic factors. In the most extreme cases, disease could actually play a tangible and determinative role in producing an enemy’s decisional irrationality.

 More typically, America will also need  to demonstrate the continuously substantial invulnerability of its nuclear retaliatory forces to enemy first strike aggressions. More precisely, it will remain in America’s long-term survival interests to continue to emphasize its variegated submarine-basing nuclear options.[22] Otherwise, as is plainly reasonable to contemplate, America’s land-based strategic nuclear forces could potentially present to a strongly-determined existential enemy (e.g., North Korea) as “too-vulnerable.”

For the moment, this is not a significantly serious concern, though Washington will want to stay focused on any still-planned deployment of submarines by its Israeli ally in the Middle East. The general point of such a secondary focus would be on strengthening Israeli nuclear deterrence, which – in one way or another – would simultaneously be to the overall strategic benefit of the United States.[23] Israel’s own nuclear deterrence could be affected by assorted pandemic-related variables, including some with serious reciprocal consequences for the United States.

There is more. Increasingly, America will have to rely on a broadly multi-faceted doctrine of nuclear deterrence.[24] In turn, like its already-nuclear Israeli ally,[25] specific elements of this “simple but difficult” doctrine could sometime need to be rendered less “ambiguous.” This complex and finely nuanced modification will require an even more determined focus on prospectively rational and irrational enemies, including both national and sub-national foes.

To deal most successfully with its presumptively irrational or non-rational enemies, and whether or not impacted by pandemic factors, this country will need to compose a continuously-updating strategic “playbook.” Here, it could become necessary for Washington to consider, at least on occasion, policies of feigned irrationality. In such analytically-challenging cases, it would be important for the American president not to react in an ad hoc or “seat-of-the-pants” fashion to each and every new strategic development or eruption, but instead to derive or extrapolate all specific policy reactions from a suitably pre-fashionedand comprehensive strategic nuclear doctrine.

Without such a thoughtful doctrine as guide, pretended irrationality could quickly become a “double-edged sword,” effectively bringing more rather than less security harms to the United States.[26]

There is one penultimate but still critical observation.  It is improbable, but not inconceivable, that certain of America’s principal enemies would be neither rational nor irrational, but mad. While irrational decision-makers would already pose special problems for US nuclear deterrence  – by definition, because these decision-makers would not value collective survival more highly than any other preference or combination of preferences – they might still be rendered susceptible to various alternate forms of deterrence.

 Here, resembling  rational decision-makers, they could still maintain a fixed, determinable and “transitive” hierarchy of preferences. This means, at least in principle, that “merely” irrational enemies could still sometimes be successfully deterred.  This is an observation well worth further analytic study.

Mad or “crazy” adversaries, on the other hand, would have no such calculable hierarchy of preferences, and would therefore not be subject to any strategy of American  nuclear deterrence. Although it would likely be far worse for the United States to have to face a mad nuclear enemy than a “merely” irrational one, Washington would have no foreseeable choice in this matter. This country, like it or not, will need to maintain, perhaps indefinitely, a “three track” system of nuclear deterrence and defense, one track for each of its still-identifiable adversaries that are presumptively (1) rational (2) irrational  or (3) mad.

Again, this will not be task for the narrowly political or intellectually averse US decision-maker.

Further, for the most notably unpredictable third track, special plans will be needed for undertaking certain potentially indispensable preemptions, and, simultaneously, for corresponding/overlapping efforts atballistic missile defense.

Naturally, there could be no assurances that any one “track” would always present exclusively of the others. This means, portentously, that American decision-makers could sometimes have to face deeply intersecting or interpenetrating tracks, and also that these complicated simultaneities could be synergistic.[27]

There is one final observation to be noted. Even if America’s military planners could reassuringly assume that enemy leaderships were fully rational, this would say nothing about the accuracy of the actual information used by these foes in making their particular calculations. Always, it must never be forgotten, rationality refers only to the intention of maximizing certain designated preference or values. It says nothing about whether the information being used is either correct or incorrect.

There is more. In this extraordinary time of global “plague,” any such intention – American or adversarial – could have pandemic-related determinants. At a minimum, this fact should be regarded as sobering to America’s national security decision-makers. For these officials, this will be a moment in history to disavow any inclinations to hubris, to excessive pride, and to accept, instead, an abundance of prudential caution.

America is not automatically made safer by having rational adversaries. Even fully rational enemy leaderships could commit serious errors in calculation that lead them toward a nuclear confrontation or to a nuclear/biological war. There are also certain related command and control issues that could impel a perfectly rational adversary or combination of rational adversaries (both state and sub-state) to embark upon various risky nuclear behaviors. It follows that even the most pleasingly “optimistic” assessments of enemy leadership decision-making could never reliably preclude authentically catastrophic outcomes.[28]

For the United States, understanding that no scientifically accurate judgments of probability can ever be made about unique events (by definition, any nuclear exchange would be sui generis, or precisely such a unique event), the very best lessons for America’s president should favor a determined decisional prudence and a deliberate posture of humility. Of special interest, in this connection, is the always erroneous presumption that having greater nuclear military power than an adversary is automatically an assurance of future bargaining or diplomatic success. When Donald Trump said on several occasions that he and Kim Jung Un both have a “nuclear button,” but that his button “is bigger,” the American president overestimated the US advantages of any such presumptive asymmetry.

Wholly overestimated.

Why? Because the tangible amount of deliverable nuclear firepower required for deterrence is necessarily much less than what could ever be required for “victory.”[29] This is now a time for displaying nuanced and purposeful counter-intuitive wisdom in Washington, and not for more clichéd presidential thinking or further rancorous barrages of some stunningly empty witticism.

For Washington, especially for this president, operating in the largely-unpracticed nuclear age, ancient Greek tragedy warnings about excessive leadership pride are not only still relevant, they are also palpably and irrefutably more important than ever before.

For the United States,  these classical commentaries concerning hubris, left unheeded, could bring forth once unimaginable spasms of “retribution.”[30] The Greek tragedians, after all, were not yet called upon to reason about nuclear decision-making. None of this culminating suggestion is meant to build gratuitously upon America’s most manifestly reasonable fears or apprehensions, but only to remind everyone involved that competent national security planning must remain a bewilderingly complex struggle of “mind over mind.”[31]

Always, these remain fundamentally intellectual problems,[32] challenges requiring meticulous analytic preparation[33] rather than just a particular “attitude.”[34] Above all, such planning ought never become just another calculable contest of “mind over matter;”[35] that is, never just a vainly reassuring inventory of comparative weaponization or some presumptively superior “order of battle.” Unless this rudimentary point is more completely understood by senior US strategic policymakers and by the president of the United States – and until these same policymakers can begin to see the utterly overriding wisdom of expanded global cooperation and human “oneness”[36] – America can never make itself sufficiently secure from nuclear or biological war.

               Never.[37]

In his 1927 preface to Oxford Poetry, W.H. Auden wrote: “All genuine poetry is in a sense the formation of private spheres out of public chaos….” Looking ahead with an appropriately avant-garde orientation, American strategists must essentially seek to carve out livable national spheres from a steadily expanding global chaos. Ultimately, of course, following Nietzsche, they must understand that such chaos originally lies within each individual human being, but – at least for the moment of their present strategic deliberations – they must focus upon collective survival in a true Hobbesian “state of nature.”

With the predictable spread of nuclear weapons to additional states (and, perhaps, to sub-national terror groups), the historical conditions of nature bequeathed at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 could soon come to resemble the primordial barbarism of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Long before Golding, the seventeenth-century English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, had warned insightfully in Leviathan (Chapter XIII)  that in any such circumstances of human disorder here there exists “continual fear, and danger of violent death, the “life of Man” must inevitably be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” To best plan its strategic future, America will first need to understand a plausible world system transformation from anarchy to chaos, and to accommodate this drastic pandemic-hastened transformation with some more authentically imaginative thinking.

In such crucial matters, recalling Italian film director Federico Fellini,

“The visionary is the only realist.”

In the final analysis, as Nietzsche himself acknowledges, chaos is an intra-personal condition before it can ever become an international one.[38] This means that the core problem of chaos must be “solved” at the behavioral level before it can be solved in any larger arenas of nuclear strategy, international relations or international law. On this irremediably central understanding, one now made substantially more urgent by global pandemic, it would be worthwhile for engaged strategists to heed and assess the thoughtful  words of Trappist monk and 20th-century thinker Thomas Merton, not because they could have any immediate “practical” value, but because they can serve as a long-term reminder of what is ultimately being asked of us all:

 “When there is a deep, simple, all-embracing love of man, of the created world of living and inanimate things, then there will be respect for life, for freedom, for truth, for justice, and there will be humble love of God. But where there is no love of man, no love of life, then make all the laws you want, all the edicts and treaties, issue all the anathemas, set up all the safeguards and inspections, fill the air with spying satellites, and hang cameras on the moon. As long as you see your fellow man as a being essentially to be feared, mistrusted, hated and destroyed, there cannot be peace on earth.”[39]

Summing up, US foreign policy initiatives concerning nuclear war avoidance must shift from traditional notions of “realism” to more enduring ideas of “planetization.”[40] Though seemingly utopian, these ideas are ultimately more realistic than any global continuance of Thomas Hobbes’ “state of nature.” For the time being, pertinent American policies will still have to be founded upon intellectually supportable principles of nuclear deterrence and corresponding elements of “preparation,” but such foundations should not be expected to last indefinitely. It follows that keeping the United States safely distant from nuclear conflagration will require an American leadership that can navigate all current and foreseeable risks – including some that are pandemic-related – and also plan competently for the problematic future.

In the end, as illustrated by both the more-or-less predictable effects of a nuclear war[41] and long-established effects of “plague,” we humans are all evident creatures of biology and all of us mustfinally recognize each other in this commonality. Moreover, this is a primal commonality, a determinative “oneness” worth adapting to all of America’s national security policies. Such structural interdependence underscores our interpenetrating existential vulnerabilities as individual human beings and our leaders’ corollary obligation to place the common good above any narrowly personal interests.[42]

The atom and the virus now pose a lethal convergence for the United States. To render this perilous simultaneity more manageable and tolerable will require an American leadership with suitably intellectual moorings and inclinations.  Failing to meet this indispensable requirement would compel a once-promising nation to become hardened to a terrible and irremediable truth.

Then, recalling Albert Camus’ The Plague, we would need to get hardened “to silence.”


[1] For early warnings about Iranian nuclearization from a specifically Israeli perspective, see Louis René Beres (Chair of Project Daniel/PM Sharon), Jerusalem: Israel’s Strategic Future: http://www.acpr.org.il/ENGLISH-NATIV/03-ISSUE/daniel-3.

See also, by Professor Louis René Beres, at Harvard Law School: https://harvardnsj.org/2014/06/staying-strong-enhancing-israels-essential-strategic-options-2/

[2] For earlier conceptualizations of this capacity, by this author, see: Louis René Beres, Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (1983) and Louis René Beres, America Outside the World: The Collapse of U.S. Foreign Policy (1987).

[3] Identifying “Cold War II” means expecting the world system to become increasingly bipolar. For early writings, by this author, on the global security implications of any such expanding bipolarity, see: Louis René Beres, “Bipolarity, Multipolarity, and the Reliability of Alliance Commitments,” Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 25, No.4., December 1972, pp. 702-710; Louis René Beres, “Bipolarity, Multipolarity, and the Tragedy of the Commons,” Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 26, No.4., December 1973, pp, 649-658; and Louis René Beres, “Guerillas, Terrorists, and Polarity: New Structural Models of World Politics,” Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 27, No.4., December 1974, pp. 624-636.

[4] In late June 2019, Russia announced that current US policies concerning bilateral nuclear treaty termination and also then-prospective US anti-missile deployments in eastern Europe could threaten “another Cuban missile crisis.” This suggests that Russia remains important in military nuclear terms not only for its obvious shaping of “Cold War II” context, but also (once again) as a direct and increasingly immediate nuclear threat to the United States.

[5] For a very recent analysis of deterring not-yet-nuclear adversaries in the case of Israel, see article co-authored by Professor Louis René Beres and (former Israeli Ambassador ) Zalman Shoval at the Modern War Institute, West Point (Pentagon): https://mwi.usma.edu/creating-seamless-strategic-deterrent-israel-case-study/

[6] Recall here the classic statement of Julius Caesar: “Men as a rule believe what they want to believe.” See: Caesar’s Gallic War, Book III, Chapter 18.

[7] This “hybrid” concept could also be applied to various pertinent ad hoc bilateral state collaborations against US strategic interests. For example, during June 2019, Russia and China collaborated to block an American initiative aimed at halting fuel deliveries to North Korea. The US-led cap on North Korea’s fuel imports had been intended to sanction any continuing North Korean nuclearization. Prima facie, of course, this narrowly visceral plan was entirely futile.

[8] On “escalation dominance,” see recent article by Professor Louis René Beres at The War Room, US Army War College, Pentagon:  https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/articles/nuclear-decision-making-and-nuclear-war-an-urgent-american-problem/

[9]The seventeenth-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal remarks prophetically in Pensées: “All our dignity consists in thought….It is upon this that we must depend…Let us labor then to think well: this is the foundation of morality.” Similar reasoning characterizes the writings of Baruch Spinoza, Pascal’s 17th-century contemporary. In Book II of his Ethics Spinoza considers the human mind, or the intellectual attributes, and – drawing further upon René Descartes – strives to define an essential theory of learning and knowledge.

[10] In his own work, Sigmund Freud sought to “excavate” deeper meanings concerning irrational human behavior. Always, he was a modern-day philosophe, a proud child of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, one who discovered profound analytic and therapeutic advantages in exploring sometimes-arcane literary paths to psychological knowledge. Freud maintained an extensive personal collection of antiquities which suggested certain penetrating psychological insights to him. Some of his pertinent collection was placed directly on his work desk; reportedly, he would often touch and turn the artifacts while deeply engaged in some challenging thought.

[11] See, also by this author, Louis René Beres, at Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School): https://harvardnsj.org/2013/10/lessons-for-israel-from-ancient-chinese-military-thought-facing-iranian-nuclearization-with-sun-tzu/

[12] See, for example, by this author, at Yale:  https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/nuclear-treaty-abrogation-imperils-global-security

[13] Regarding “covenants,” US decision-makers should nonetheless be continually attentive to relevant considerations of law as well as strategy. More particularly, under authoritative law, states must judge every use of force twice: once with regard to the underlying right to wage war (jus ad bellum) and once with regard to the means used in conducting an actual war (jus in bello). Following the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 and the United Nations Charter (1945), there remains no defensible legal right to waging an aggressive war. However, the long-standing customary right of post-attack self-defense does remain codified at Article 51 of the UN Charter. Similarly subject to conformance, inter alia, with jus in bello criteria, certain instances of humanitarian intervention and collective security operations may also be consistent with jus ad bellum standards. The law of war, the rules of jus in bello, comprise: (1) laws on weapons; (2) laws on warfare; and (3) humanitarian rules. Codified primarily at the Hague and Geneva Conventions, these rules attempt to bring discrimination, proportionality and military necessity into all belligerent calculations.

[14]International law remains a “vigilante” or “Westphalian” system. See: Treaty of Peace of Munster, Oct. 1648, 1 Consol. T.S. 271; and Treaty of Peace of Osnabruck, Oct. 1648, 1., Consol. T.S. 119, Together, these two treaties comprise the Peace of Westphalia.

[15] Though composed in the seventeenth century, Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan may still offer us a prophetic vision of this prospective condition in modern world politics. During chaos, which is a “time of War,” says the English philosopher in Chapter XIII  (“Of the Natural Condition of Mankind, as concerning their Felicity, and Misery.”):  “… every man is Enemy to every man… and where the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Still, at the actual time of writing Leviathan, Hobbes believed that the condition of “nature” in world politics was less chaotic than that same condition extant among individual human beings. This was because of what he had called the “dreadful equality” of individual men in nature concerning the ability to kill others. This once-relevant differentiation has effectively disappeared with the continuing manufacture and spread of nuclear weapons, a spread soon apt to be exacerbated by an already-nuclear North Korea, by a not-yet-nuclear Iran and by the largely unpredictable effects of an ongoing disease pandemic.

[16] For a pertinent Israeli example, see, by this author:  https://www.usnews.com/opinion/world-report/articles/2017-09-06/10-years-later-israels-operation-orchard-offers-lessons-on-north-korea

[17]In regard to such questions, US strategic thinkers must inquire whether accepting a visible posture of limited nuclear war would merely exacerbate enemy nuclear intentions or whether it could actually enhance this country’s overall nuclear deterrence. Such questions have been raised by this author for many years, but usually in more explicit reference to broadly theoretical or generic nuclear threats. See, for example, Louis René Beres, The Management of World Power: A Theoretical Analysis (1972); Louis René Beres, Terrorism and Global Security: The Nuclear Threat (1979; second edition, 1987); Louis René Beres, Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (1980); Louis René Beres, Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (1983); Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: US Foreign Policy and World Order (1984); Louis René Beres, Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (1986); and Louis René Beres, Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (2016).

[18] On the prospective shortcomings of Israeli BMD systems, from which certain authoritative extrapolations could be made about US systems, see: Louis René Beres and (Major-General/IDF/ret.) Isaac Ben-Israel, “The Limits of Deterrence,” Washington Times, November 21, 2007; Professor Louis René Beres and M-G Isaac Ben-Israel, “Deterring Iran,” Washington Times, June 10, 2007; and Professor Louis René Beres and M-G Isaac Ben-Israel, “Deterring Iranian Nuclear Attack,” Washington Times, January 27, 2009.

[19] The modern philosophy origins of the term “will” lie in the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer,  especially The World as Will and Idea (1818). For his own inspiration, Schopenhauer drew freely upon Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Later, Nietzsche drew just as freely and perhaps even more importantly upon Schopenhauer. Goethe was also a core intellectual source for Spanish existentialist Jose Ortega y’Gasset, author of the singularly prophetic work, The Revolt of the Masses (Le Rebelion de las Masas (1930). See, accordingly, Ortega’s very grand essay, “In Search of Goethe from Within” (1932), written for Die Neue Rundschau of Berlin on the occasion of the centenary of Goethe’s death. It is reprinted in Ortega’s anthology, The Dehumanization of Art (1948), and is available from Princeton University Press (1968).

[20] A prospectively positive impact, however, could center on improved opportunities for world-wide cooperation. See, on this hopeful point, by this author,. Louis René Beres, https://www.21global.ucsb.edu/global-e/march-2020/virulent-pathogens-and-global-solidarity-unseen-benefits-covid-19

[21] See, on deterring a prospectively irrational nuclear Iran, Louis René Beres and General John T. Chain, “Could Israel Safely deter a Nuclear Iran? The Atlantic, August 2012; and Professor Louis René Beres and General John T. Chain, “Israel; and Iran at the Eleventh Hour,” Oxford University Press (OUP Blog), February 23, 2012. Though dealing with Israeli rather than American nuclear deterrence, these articles authoritatively clarify the common conceptual elements. General Chain was Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Air Command (CINCSAC).

[22] On the Israeli sea-basing issue, see Louis René Beres and Admiral Leon “Bud” Edney, “Israel’s Nuclear Strategy: A Larger Role for Submarine-Basing,” The Jerusalem Post, August 17, 2014; and Professor Louis René Beres and Admiral Leon “Bud” Edney, “A Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent for Israel,” Washington Times, September 5, 2014. Admiral Edney was NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic (SACLANT).

[23] See, in this connection, by Professor Louis René Beres and General (USA/ret.) Barry R. McCaffrey, Israel’s Nuclear Strategy and America’s National Security;  https://sectech.tau.ac.il/sites/sectech.tau.ac.il/files/PalmBeachBook.pdf

[24] On the primary importance of doctrine, by this author, see Louis René Beres,  https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2020/01/louis-beres-seeking-plausible-strategic-goals-iran/  See also, concerning US ally Israel: https://strategicassessment.inss.org.il/wp-content/uploads/antq/fe-676949421.pdf

[25] See, by this author (who was Chair of Project Daniel for Israeli PM Ariel Sharon):  http://www.acpr.org.il/ENGLISH-NATIV/03-ISSUE/daniel-3.htm  See also: https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/israel-nuclear-ambiguity/ and  https://www.idc.ac.il/he/research/ips/Documents/2013/%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%99%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%AA/LouisReneBeres.pdf

[26] This brings to mind the closing query of Agamemnon in The Oresteia by Aeschylus: “Where will it end? When will it all be lulled back into sleep, and cease, the bloody hatreds, the destruction”?

[27] See, for example, by this author, at Harvard National Security Journal:  https://harvardnsj.org/2015/06/core-synergies-in-israels-strategic-planning-when-the-adversarial-whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts/

[28] In this connection, expressions of decisional error (including mistakes by the United States)  could take different and overlapping forms. These forms include a disorderly or inconsistent value system; computational errors in calculation; an incapacity to communicate efficiently; random or haphazard influences in the making or transmittal of particular decisions; and internal dissonance generated by any authoritative structure of collective decision-making (e.g., the US National Security Council).

[29] See, by this author, at Oxford University Press: https://blog.oup.com/2011/10/war-winning/

[30] For much earlier similar warnings, by this author, see his October 1981 article at World Politics (Princeton):  https://www.jstor.org/stable/2010149?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

[31] Clausewitzian friction refers to the unpredictable effects of errors in knowledge and information concerning strategic uncertainties; on presidential under-estimations or over-estimations of US relative power position; and on the unalterably vast and largely irremediable differences between theories of deterrence and enemy intent “as it actually is.” See: Carl von Clausewitz, “Uber das Leben und den Charakter von Scharnhorst,” Historisch-politische Zeitschrift, 1 (1832); cited in Barry D. Watts, Clausewitzian Friction and Future War, McNair Paper No. 52, October, 1996, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University Washington, D.C. p. 9.

[32] This also brings to mind an apt warning by French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, in The New Spirit and the Poets (1917): “It must not be forgotten that it is perhaps more dangerous for a nation to allow itself to be conquered intellectually than by arms.” Today, when the United States is under the flagrantly anti-intellectual leadership of Donald J. Trump, the poet’s warning should have a very clear and compelling resonance.

[33] Or “thorough study,” in the language of Sun-Tzu.

[34] The meaningless bifurcation of “attitude” and “preparation” was expressly invoked by Donald Trump before going off to his first summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un. In that curious distinction, the US President openly favored the former.

[35] This vital reminder is also drawn from the strategic calculations of ancient Greece. See, for example, F.E. Adcock, The Greek and Macedonian Art of War (University of California, 1962).

[36] Accordingly, we may learn from ancient Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus, “”You are a citizen of the universe.” A broader idea of such “oneness” followed the death of Alexander in 322 BCE; with it came a coinciding doctrine of “universality.” By the Middle Ages, this political and social doctrine had fused with the notion of a Respublica Christiana, a worldwide Christian commonwealth, and Thomas, John of Salisbury and Dante were looking at Europe as a single and unified Christian community. Below the level of God and his heavenly host, all the realm of humanity was to be considered as one. This is because all the world had been created for the same single and incontestable purpose; that is, to provide  background for the necessary drama of human salvation. Only in its relationship to the universe itself was the world correctly considered as a part rather than a whole. Said Dante in De Monarchia: “The whole human race is a whole with reference to certain parts, and, with reference to another whole, it is a part. For it is a whole with reference to particular kingdoms and nations, as we have shown; and it is a part with reference to the whole universe, which is evident without argument.” Today, of course, the idea of human oneness can be fully justified and explained in more purely secular terms of analytic understanding.

[37] In this connection, says Thomas Hobbes in Chapter XXI of Leviathan, “The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them.”

[38] “I tell you,” says Nietzsche in Zarathustra, “ye have still chaos in you.”

[39] See Merton’s The Nonviolent Alternative, 1980. Similar sentiments can be found in the German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s remark: “Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is  made, nothing entirely straight can be built.” This is my own translation from the original German: “Aus so krummem Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts ganz Gerades gezimmert warden.” See: Isaiah Berlin, The Crooked Timber of Humanity, xi (Henry Handy, ed., 1991) quoting Immanuel Kant’s Idee Zu Einer Allgemeinen Geschichte In Weltburgerlicher Absicht (1784).

[40] These ideas have been most closely associated with the French Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, especially his modern classic The Phenomenon of Man (1955).

[41] Among some of the early books dealing with these effects ion a serious and informed way, see: Franklyn Griffiths and John C . Polanyi, editors, The Dangers of Nuclear War (1979); Arthur M. Katz, Life After Nuclear War (1982); and by this author, Louis René Beres: Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (1980).

[42] See Sophocles, Antigone, Speech of Creon, King of Thebes: “I hold despicable and always have….anyone who puts his own popularity before his country.”

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue. His twelfth and most recent book is Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel's Nuclear Strategy (2016) (2nd ed., 2018) https://paw.princeton.edu/new-books/surviving-amid-chaos-israel%E2%80%99s-nuclear-strategy Some of his principal strategic writings have appeared in Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School); International Security (Harvard University); Yale Global Online (Yale University); Oxford University Press (Oxford University); Oxford Yearbook of International Law (Oxford University Press); Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College (Pentagon); Special Warfare (Pentagon); Modern War Institute (Pentagon); The War Room (Pentagon); World Politics (Princeton); INSS (The Institute for National Security Studies)(Tel Aviv); Israel Defense (Tel Aviv); BESA Perspectives (Israel); International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; The Atlantic; The New York Times and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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How Trump can beat Kamala Harris in 2024

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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.

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The international disorder after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the causes of the Taliban victory

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image source: Tehran Times

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.

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Hunter Biden Shows How to Become a Leading Artist in America

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Artwork, Hunter Biden, source: Georges Berges Gallery

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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