Thursday, October 11, 2018

Historical Patterns

Imperial Subjects,

Ugo Bardi paints the picture of Donald Trump as last emperor of the Western Empire. It's his role in history to devolve the empire. He seems to be hastening processes of dissolution, which are already underway, due to the increase in actual cost of extraction of oil and other mineral resources. The multi-level global bureaucracy is too hungry and inefficient to sustain going forward. Smaller, more local systems are more efficient, but many have been taken out as threats to globalism, so need to be reconstituted, which takes resources...
Donald Trump represents well the view of the elites. He seems to understand (or, at least, to sense) in which direction the wind is blowing and what he is doing, apart from the exaggerated boasting, is to try to turn the parasitic imperial economy of the United States into a self-standing national economy. Not an easy task and Trump may well fail in what he is trying to do. But history never fails: empires have always gone through a cycle of growth and collapse, it is just a question of time.
So, the American Empire is destined to go, but what will come after the fall? Most likely, we'll see a situation resembling that of the fall of the Roman Empire, when there were no resources to build another empire of the same size and Europe moved back into an age of independent cities and statelets. Nowadays, many people seem to think that the disappearance of fossil fuels would bring a return of the Middle Ages. It might happen: large organizations need a lot of energy to run and, in addition, our civilization will be badly hit by global warming. The result may be the fragmentation of the current political entities, returning to nation-states or even back to city-states. There will not be another World Empire and Donald Trump could be, if not the last emperor, the last who ruled an empire as large as the current American one.

John Michael Greer looks at the history of dominant civilizations,empires, and how they each have different inherent value systems. Each excels in what it values, then declines when that becomes unworkable, for whatever reason. This is complementary to what Ugo Bardi looks at above. What will the next great civilization value? (I think it will have to value eco-harmonic-efficiency. I like that term. It probably won't catch on for a couple of centuries.) 
Greer argues that "America" and "Russia" are the hinterlands of the current "Faustian" cultural epoch, which is Western  European in origins. These two regions are poised to leap into the gap left by collapsing Faustian culture. It seems that the USA "America" is an extension of Faustian culture, but Greer argues that it is a colony, in the process of developing unique culture, which is only beginning. Greer does not mention China, which seems narrow to me. He can't get around it, and will have to bring up China in future essays.

Thierry Meyssan (Thanks Eleni) looks at the "birth of the post-western-world" in the UN assembly speeches last week. This is really well informed, and again, complementary to the two stories above. He focuses on the themes of Trump's speech, then Macron's flailing globalist-lackey rebuttal, then Iran's rebuttal, based upon American imperial rule-flouting. The synthesis he sees lies in Sergei Lavrov's transcendence of the current context to focus more on real, underlying dynamics and consider remedies. Lavrov points out that the rest of the world is exploring means to work around the bloody train wreck of western colonial imperialism.
To sum up, the strategy of the containment of Russia and China, dreamed up by British deputy Halford J. Mackinder [6] and clarified by US National Security Advisor Zbigniew BrzeziƄski [7], has failed. The world’s centre of gravity is being displaced to the East, not against the Westerners, but by their fault [8].  

The World is Quietly Decoupling from the US and Nobody is Paying Attention (Yep, look, its a $20 bill on the ground!)

Ilargi, at The Automatic Earth, looks at the perplexing impossibility of a system powered by exothermic reactions of profit to build a healthy ecosystem. It is powered by burning, by reducing things of higher organization (forests) to lower organization (CO2), and exploiting some of the energy that is released to make some other things, which are always much less than what must be burned and mined to create them This exothermic manufacturing supports a political process which supports more exothermic exploitation, and says whatever is necessary to sell it to people, since their consent is still useful and their rebellion is still a threat to the system. Postulating that their is a subsequent future civilization, what might be the path to a conservative, enlightened-agrarian-stewardship economy. We do have a lot of knowledge, just a counterproductive value system, at this point.

Ukrainian air force begins large scale war games with NATO to create an overhead Russian-exclusion zone. (They are already pretty adept at taking down passenger planes, but we don't talk about that.)

Moon of Alabama has the Syrian update. The Russian air defense system, which is many faceted and coordinates all kinds of spotting, tracking, targeting and take down mechanisms, not merely S-300 missiles, is in place, getting settled in, and makes air sorties too risky for US/NATO/Israel, though Israel will keep testing and gaming, which is also discussed here. The US really has to declare victory and get out. The Russian-Turkish treaty is holding, but there are a lot of dug-in "militants" that Turkey needs to convince to go elsewhere. They are clearly not inclined to go elsewhere.

Eleni sends more detail of the modern integrated management of Syrian airspace by Russian defensive systems. This is impressively comprehensive. What pilot would want to mount an attack into this?

Since entering office President Trump's long term policy on Syria has remained somewhat of a mystery. With at least 2,000 US troops still occupying parts of Syria's east, and with Russia's recent transfer of S-300 anti-missile defense systems to Damascus, the continuing potential for the region to explode into a global war remains high, even as much of the country returns to the government fold. 
But it appears the White House's Syria policy is still uncertain to top advisers and even to Trump himself. Last Friday in a vastly under-reported but hugely import move, Trump authorized the creation of a Congressional 'Syria Study Group' to examine US strategy on Syria.
One of the lead Senators pushing for the panel, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) accurately described in an almost comically ironic quote: it “will bring outside experts together to finally develop a U.S. strategy in Syria.”   

A Saudi reporter, formerly friend of royalty, turned sharp-critic, Jamal Khashoggi, has been staying out of Saudi Arabia for the past few years, for his health. He went into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to get approval for his marriage, bringing proof of his prior divorce. His Turkish fiance' waited outside for 11 hours, then called police. He is rumored to have been cut into pieces and spirited out, or perhaps snuck out in a black op by the 15 Saudis who flew in the day before then disappeared.

Hmmm... Where is this going?
U.S. intelligence services intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Saudi journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi, whose disappearance in Turkey last week threatens to damage the warm ties between the kingdom and Washington.
The Saudis were discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi back to the kingdom, The Washington Post reported, citing a person familiar with the communications, which were intercepted before he vanished. Khashoggi, a columnist for the newspaper, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and is feared to be detained or dead.
For whatever reason, the Post report buried the lede as the story is headlined simply, Saudis are said to have lain in wait for Jamal Khashoggi.
But the story confirms US intelligence had clear evidence that the Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist was about to be kidnapped and possibly worse. The WaPo story includes the following: "Before Khashoggi's disappearance, U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him...".

China legalizes mass re-education camps for Muslim Uygurs, having been criticized for it's illegal actions against these millions of unwilling "Chinese citizens".

North Korea's Kim Jong Un invites the Pope to Party in Pyongyang. The Pope has been a cheerleader for peace on that peninsula.

Charles Hugh Smith points out that (all) pensions depend on bubbles never popping, but all bubbles pop. (The value is not in existence, just the "valuations".)

Forward Looking

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