Nationalism in the USA and nationalism in other countries....an even playing field.
You can’t build the Empire and drain the Swamp at the same time.
That’s because the Swamp is largely the fruit of Empire. And it’s also the reason that the Donald is being rapidly undone.
Indeed, it is the Empire’s $800 billion ($1.5 trillion according to Chalmers Johnson) national security budget which feeds Washington’s vast complex of
national security bureaucrats,
so-called "law" firms
so-called "law" firms
and all-purpose racketeers.
It’s what accounts for the Imperial City’s unseemly and ill-gotten prosperity.
It goes without saying that the number one priority of these denizens of Empire is to keep the gravy train rolling. That is accomplished by inventing and exaggerating threats to America’s homeland security and by formulating far-flung and misbegotten missions designed to extend and reinforce Washington’s global hegemony.
As we demonstrate elsewhere, a true homeland security defense budget would consist of the strategic nuclear triad and modest conventional forces to defend the nation’s shoreline and air space; it would cost about $250 billion per year plus a few $10 billion more for a State Department which minded its own business.
So the $500 billion difference is the fiscal cost of Empire, which is pushing the US toward an immense generational fiscal crisis. But it’s also a measure of the giant larder that fills the Swamp with the projects and busywork of Washington’s global hegemony.
In fact, it is the vasty deep of that $500 billion larder which gives rise to the forces that not only thwart the Donald’s desire to drain the Swamp, but actually enlist him in the cause of deepening its brackish waters.
Moreover, these missions encompass far more than direct military occupations, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq; or indirect aggressions, such as in Washington’s arming of antigovernment terrorists in Syria and facilitating and supplying Saudi Arabia’s genocidal bombing campaign in Yemen; or even the kind of rank provocation implicit in the 29,000 troops Washington still bivouacs on the Korean peninsula 65 years after the war there ended and the thousands of US and NATO forces which conduct virtually constant maneuvers and war games on the very borders of Russia.
OFAC and Washington’s Economic Sanctions Strike Force
Beyond the Empire’s purely military dimension lies a vast stratum of economic and financial warfare. The US currently has sanctions – trade, financial and proscribed nationals – on more than 30 countries including highly visible alleged malefactors like Russia, Iran and North Korea – but also Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria, to name a few.
These sanctions are enforced by an office in the US Treasury Department, which is aptly named the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). Being openly in the business of controlling the assets of foreign countries, in fact, its name speaks volumes about the daily purposes of the Imperial City.
In addition to enforcement actions against the above named three dozen countries, OFAC’s global reach has been fantastically expanded by the so-called war on terror, and the mechanism of sanctioning "Specially Designated Nationals" or SDNs.
We are here talking about individual citizens and officers of foreign countries, one at a time. It so happens that the OFAC periodically publishes a list of SDNs and the latest one (May 24, 2018) is a staggering 1,132 pages long. By our reckoning it lists in excess of 500,000 foreign evil doers of one type or another.
Needless to say, sanctioning 500,000 foreigners generates endless make-work for the denizens of the Swamp and the phalanx of national security agencies and private contractors which employ them. But it’s all in a day’s work in the Empire because this list exists only by virtue of Washington’s self-appointed role of global policeman and hegemon of global order.
Moreover, the list now encompasses far more arising from the Imperial City’s misbegotten "war on terror". In truth, the latter has actually been a hatchery of terror in the form of blowback and vengeful retaliation for Washington’s military devastation of the Middle East and elsewhere.
Nevertheless, there are also thousands of Russian, Iranian and Chinese names on this list owing to Washington’s putting a hex on certain disapproved behaviors and policies of these nations. And many tens of thousands more names appear for the sin of not compliantly observing Washington’s sanctions on third-parties with which they had wished to do business.
That is, OFAC is now into a higher level of economic warfare: Sanctioning those who fail to sanction the sanctioned.
Here’s the thing. Almost none of this busywork of Empire has anything to do with the safety and security of the American homeland.
It is the fruit of middle eastern interventions and occupations which should never have happened – going all the way back to the first Gulf War and all that followed.
Indeed, it goes back even further in time to Washington’s siding with Saddam Hussein during the 1980s Iran/Iraq War and to the so-called Charlie Wilson’s War during which the CIA recruited and armed the mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviets after the latter’s misbegotten invasion of the "graveyard of empires" in 1979.
It is also the fruit of a needless demonization of Russia and Putin, which, as we have seen, comprise no threat to the American homeland whatsoever; and also, increasingly, the designation of alleged Chinese malefactors for failure to enforce Washington’s foreign policy.
Imperial Arrogance: Sanctioning China For Not Enforcing Washington’s Economic War On Iran
The Trump Administration’s recent attempt – purposeful or not – to destroy China’s second largest telecom supplier (ZTE) is an hideous case in point. Once upon a time that would have been considered an act of war, but under the aegis of Empire the shoe goes on the other foot: It’s China’s fault, apparently, that ZTE failed to comply with Washington’s hex on Iran.
In effect, the Donald is getting sucked into functioning as another handmaid of Empire rather than actually performing the noble work of draining the Swamp. After all, the essence of draining the Swamp boils down to shrinking the state and unleashing the energies of free market capitalism – including generation of more export to the rest of the world.
But in the ZTE case, Trump and his neocon and warhawk advisors were doing just the opposite. They had slapped an edict on US telecom component and software suppliers like Qualcomm, prohibiting them from engaging in acts of trade with China’s #2 telecom equipment manufacturer and the #4 mobile phone provider in the world.
That is, they were about the business of pumping the Swamp full with even more busybody regulation and bloat – and once again bamboozling the Donald with phony threats to national security.
In this case, ZTE apparently violated "sanctions" put upon Iran and North Korea by the Empire in its self-appointed role of global policeman.
That’s right. There have been no charges that ZTE has "stolen" American technology or subsidized exports to the harm of American cell phone factories – because, well, there are none left.
The Chinese state-owned company’s only alleged offense, in fact, was not functioning as a complaint enforcement arm of Washington’s foreign sanctions strike force.
But threatening to bring daily production at ZTE to a halt because it cannot (in the short-run) make cell phones without those designed-in Qualcomm parts, the Donald was also in danger of putting the kibosh on American production, jobs and leadership in the high technology components end of ZTE’s business.
Since ZTE sits on a giant mountain of debt, however,the Chinese had no choice in the near term except to bend over and request Washington’s bar of soap. To that end, in fact, they are now negotiating the complete housecleaning of the company’s board and top executives and replacing them with names satisfactory to Washington.
Indeed, when this compromise settlement with China was announced a few months ago, we learned that the Donald had told his "friend" President Xi Jinping that in return for letting ZTE off the sanctions hook, Washington would be happy to collect a $1.3 billion fine and take control of company’s board and management!
But here’s the thing. ZTE is not only a state-owned company; it’s also a core national technology champion in the statist scheme of economic management.
So the idea that Washington should control ZTE is flat-out idiotic, yet it stems 100% from the Empire’s hex on Iran and North Korea – a futile, destructive exercise in the sanctions game which never should have happened in the first place.
As we have frequently explained, Iran should be free to conduct a foreign policy of its own choosing in its own Middle Eastern neighborhood; and that if we got the machinery of war and empire out of the way, the Koreans – north and south – would readily find a way to denuclearize, demilitarize and economically reunite.
And yet that’s not the half of it. The Donald’s doddering Secretary of Commerce and former crony capitalist thief, Wilbur Ross, explained to bubble vision at the time of the July deal that "compliance" would be assured by placing an entire squadron of Washington operatives inside the company on a permanent basis to makes sure it does not again violate Washington’s sanctions and other edicts.
That’s right. Wilbur proposes to run China’s giant state telecom company from the Commerce Department Building on Constitution Avenue.
That’s draining the swamp?
Well, at least there is some irony – surely not intended – in proposing to control a communist state industrial behemoth from Constitution Avenue.
Then again, through the largesse of the state and the Fed’s Bubble Finance, Wilbur Ross became a self-proclaimed billionaire.
So how would either have a clue about draining the real statist Swamp?
David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.