Tag Archives: USA

Why the current strategy by the West cannot win

Having studied World War II in depth and reflected on the difference between those times and these, I have come to some preliminary conclusions. What were the characteristics of those times that made that victory inevitable and what are the characteristics of these times that make the ‘failures’ inevitable up to this point and how can we swing the battle, as it were, in our favour?

The rise of Adolf Hitler was not democratic, unlike the elections of these times. He did however, bring about a kind of national unity after coming to power. Until May 1940, the Great Britain was not united but going through the dark days from September 1939 and then through the Battle of Britain in 1940 had the effect of uniting the whole country overwhelmingly behind the war effort. There was no alternative.

There was intensive lobbying by the Churchill government of unity of the U.S. to back their war effort against the Axis Powers, with resistance at first, but it was only after Pearl Harbor in December 1941 that the U.S. came on board fully. The tactics of Total War were used to the full, including a possible allowing of the Japanese to carry out the attack on Pearl Harbor, despite knowing beforehand that it was coming, precisely in order to bring the wider U.S. population onside. The techniques of information warfare were employed to the maximum because the possibility of an Allied defeat was unthinkable and untenable. Some of these techniques were perhaps of dubious ethical standards or, in hindsight, even advisable. I am thinking here of the bombing offensive against Germany, the betrayal of Norway.

Techniques of deception were used very cunningly and very successfully. However, towards the end of the war, it became clear to Churchill and broadly speaking to the Americans that the post-war situation would be a face-off between the western allies and the Soviet Union. The same techniques of deception, intervention in the media, in elections and economic warfare were used extensively against the perceived foe, the communist threat, usually equated with any left-wing or progressive government.

It was here that the West lost its way. Without the truth on their side, these techniques were used to oppress rather than to liberate, even though the people employing them were the same. With this, the positive effect of having whole populations behind the war effort was no longer active, and those populations became the target of those techniques, of Cointelpro, of Operation Mockingbird, of the almost total surveillance, monitoring and manipulation of the populations by avoiding talking about the truth, covering up the truth, of pushing lies, with the belief that they continued to be in the right, but which ceased to be true from about 1945.

With the political climate tending to go against state intervention in foreign conflicts, the response from the private sector has been, let us take over where the state is unable, for whatever reason, to intervene, whether that is private military or intelligence contractors. But that does not address the real legal and political questions of our time, of rights to truth and justice.

Once the field of truth had been abandoned, unity ceased to prevail, and increasingly desperate efforts and sense of unease leave the feeling of running into a swamp and of being bogged down, without that compass to steer towards a clear objective, trying to repeat the early success, using the same tactics and techniques endlessly. Unity has become a battlefield rather than of de facto existence. With that, the lies of having moral certitude pushed as ‘right’ have become increasingly ridiculous and are demonstrated every day both in the media and ordinary life.

There can be no successful satisfactory outcome without that unity or truth. The divisions and heated arguments within our societies are evidence of our disunity and lack of truth. The current engagements by the West in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria cannot be won as long as the preferred methods of deception and lies are held to, however useful or right they may have been until 73 years ago.

The strategy used by the United States, the United Kingdom and many other countries is of soft power, of low-intensity warfare, because it worked during World War II. It has long ceased to be effective in solving problems and has become a liability and has to be dropped. It may work in the short term, but it can never work in the long term.

Current events are actually like growing pains

My apologies to the anti-Trumpistas and their similar equivalents in the various countries and regions, but please bear with me. One of problems has been the holding to fixed positions of what is best for us or for others, that we must be like this or that, we have to achieve this or that, although we are holding to an idea of something that is at best temporary, and it is urgent that we understand this and the perceptions of scale that are involved.

Taking a look at what is going on and the affect on people, I am drawn to the conclusion that we have misunderstood these difficult times, bemoaning the lack of resources, the withdrawal of so called rights, the lack of insight of this or that person, this or that group and so forth. There is an emerging pattern however.

As a wise man once said, opposition makes you stronger. However, it is worth reflecting that, although those opposing us are in fact helping us to grow stronger, that our opposition of another or others also makes that something or someone stronger, which may be an idea, a group, say the much vaunted elite, the cabal, the concept of the other, ‘them’.

The way I use it is that I see no point in opposing something that will be inevitable, and of course the question arises, what is not inevitable, what can be the positive influence brought to bear that will either bring about a learning situation or favour an outcome.

This was made apparent to me when I started my blog to raise awareness of the situation in Brazil as Dilma was being manoeuvred out of power. In a brash move, I repeated a phrase that was current at the time, “Não vai ter golpe’, or ‘There will be no coup’. However, events proved me wrong, but if one looks back at it and the stages of life and learning, one can see it as a process, and stop being attached to a preconceived idea of what should happen or what one must do.

There are benefits to be had from what we have taken as ‘bad’ and learning from what we have taken to be ‘good’. We have seen esteemed institutions and people being exposed as other than we thought, we have all felt disillusion at this or that. For myself, speaking personally about what I have felt and not about those I am speaking of, this has been the lack of fulfilment of the promises of Obama, the U.S. Supreme Court, the BBC, the apparent success of the bringing down of Dilma in Brazil, the exposure of widespread corruption in Brazil, and others. We are being forced to take a long hard look at our values.

However, disappointment in anything is the lack of fulfilment of an expectation that we have, and nothing more than that. It is not a reflection, necessarily in those people or institutions. That can only be ascertained after questioning, acceptance and only then deciding on how to approach something.

What we have seen is that people do not value something they have until they lose it, whether that be rights, privileges, gifts. Nor have we paid sufficient attention to that which is held to be good and already in place. We learn to value democracy when we thought it to be challenged. Was America great or any less great than before? Was it because we thought it was or it wasn’t? I suggest the answer is all of the above and none of the above, for various reasons and in different circumstances. Is he UK really united? I think these are good and useful questions to consider.

Trump is acting as a mirror for us, and to the extent that he provokes horror or a certain hope that this is for the better, we should take a more careful look at what we see and why we see it. He is showing buffoonery and dishonesty, using words that do reflect what we are like. He is like the medieval court jester, entertaining the king, but the court is also spellbound, but when those who are unable to bear what they see speak out against it, it is not that they are completely wrong, rather that the situation is so terrible that it must change, eventually finding some equilibrium and harmony.

The question of Brexit has been bothering me ever since it became obvious to some people that the bureaucracy was having a detrimental effect on the conducting of business in the broadest sense of the word, in my case about twenty years ago. However, the idea of being included in something with international scope will inevitably bring up complicated issues for many people, involving us in change, which can be uncomfortable and having to re-assess what we had taken to be true or ´right` and so forth.

I briefly celebrated the referendum decision, saying to myself or others that we, the Brits, have given the blighters a bloody nose, which we did, but a lot of people felt hurt or shocked by that result, and now we have to grow up and actually settle this like civilised people, if we are able, rather than on the school playground. Resentment is not a good basis for making decisions, although some people must see the reasons that brought the situation about.

We are in a learning situation, for the Brits that like it or not, we have a role to play in the world, for the Europeans that we have legitimate concerns, for the neoliberals and overly wealthy, that things must and will change into a more beneficially distributed system of doing things, for the anti-neoliberals, that the crystallised forms of thinking about national or class issues no longer work, for the Trumpistas, that America already is great, so why not learn that there is a whole other world out of real, actual people out there beyond the U.S. borders, for the anti-Trumpistas, that opposing something because it comes in the guise of your pet dislikes or hates does not mean that your knee-jerk reactions to it are correct or properly thought out.

On the question of national sovereignty, it is sobering to reflect that there is a kind of sovereignty already, that the Brits have the kind of government and balanced Parliament that reflects the current situation, and similarly for the U.S. and Brazil, leading us to recognise our crystallised way of thinking.

Impossible or unsustainable situations must be differentiated from the unthought of possibility that something has happened, is happening or will happen. These are often confused and although sometimes it is distasteful, we do not recognise good food unless we have known what bad food is like or its effects on us.

After I wrote this piece, I found this video by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, which echoes my thoughts.

https://www.periscope.tv/w/1OyKANQymwgGb

BRICS Under Attack: The Empire Strikes Back In Brazil

By Eric Draitser

Washington’s Dog-Whistle Diplomacy Supports Attempted Coup in Brazil

By Mark Weisbrot, on Huffington Post

The day after the impeachment vote in the lower house of Brazil’s congress, one of the leaders of the effort, Senator Aloysio Nunes, traveled to Washington, D.C. He had scheduled meetings with a number of U.S. officials, including Thomas Shannon at the State Department.

Shannon has a relatively low profile in the media, but he is the number three official in the U.S. State Department. Even more significantly in this case, he is the most influential person in the State Department on U.S. policy in Latin America. He will be the one recommending to Secretary of State John Kerry what the U.S. should do as the ongoing efforts to remove President Dilma Rousseff proceed.

Shannon’s willingness to meet with Nunes just days after the impeachment vote sends a powerful signal that Washington is on board with the opposition in this venture. How do we know this? Very simply, Shannon did not have to have this meeting. If he wanted to show that Washington was neutral in this fierce and deeply polarizing political conflict, he would not have a meeting with high-profile protagonists on either side, especially at this particular moment.

Shannon’s meeting with Nunes is an example of what could be called “dog-whistle diplomacy.” It barely shows up on the radar of the media reporting on the conflict, and therefore is unlikely to generate backlash. But all the major actors know exactly what it means. That is why Nunes’ party, the Social Democracy Party (PSDB), publicized the meeting.

To illustrate with another example of dog-whistle diplomacy: On June 28, 2009, the Honduran military kidnapped the country’s president, Mel Zelaya, and flew him out of the country. The White House statement in response did not condemn this coup, but rather called on “all political and social actors in Honduras” to respect democracy.

This dog-whistle signal worked perfectly; most importantly the coup leaders and their supporters in Honduras, as well as every diplomat in Washington, knew exactly what this meant, even as statements condemning the coup and demanding the restoration of the democratic government came pouring in from around the globe. Everyone knew that this was, in diplomatic code, a clear statement of support for the coup. The events that followed over the next six months, with Washington doing everything it could to help consolidate and legitimize the coup government, were pretty much predictable from this initial statement. Hillary Clinton later admitted in her 2014 book, “Hard Choices,” that she worked successfully to prevent the return of the democratically elected president.

Tom Shannon has a reputation among Latin American diplomats as an amiable fellow, a seasoned career foreign service officer who is willing to sit down and talk with governments that are at odds with U.S. policy in the region. But he has had a lot of experience with coups. Some of Hillary Clinton’s released emails shed additional light on his role in helping to consolidate the Honduran coup. He was also a high-level State Department official during the April 2002 coup in Venezuela, in which there is substantial documentary evidence of U.S. involvement. And when the parliamentary coup in Paraguay took place in 2012 — something similar to what is happening in Brazil but with a process that impeached and removed the president in just 24 hours — Washington also contributed to the legitimation of the coup government in the aftermath. (By contrast, South American governments suspended the coup government in Paraguay from MERCOSUR, the regional trading bloc, and UNASUR [the Union of South American Nations).] Shannon was ambassador to Brazil at that time, but was still one of the most influential officials in hemispheric policy.

The U.S. State Department responded to questions about Nunes’ meetings by saying, “This meeting had been planned for months and was arranged at the request of the Brazilian embassy.” But this is irrelevant. It merely means that Brazilian embassy staff were, as a matter of diplomatic protocol, involved in arranging the meetings. This does not imply any consent by the Rousseff administration, nor change the political message that the meeting with Shannon sends to the opposition in Brazil.

All of this is of course consistent with Washington’s strategy in response to the left governments that have governed most of the region in the 21st century. They have rarely missed an opportunity to undermine or get rid of any of them, and their desire to replace the governing Workers’ Party in Brazil with a more compliant, right-wing government is fairly obvious.


Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and the president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of the new book “Failed: What the ‘Experts’ Got Wrong About the Global Economy“ (2015, Oxford University Press).