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Michael S. Rozeff

Long Live the Establishment!

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What happens next in Washington? Trump fills out his administration. At the same time, Washington insiders attempt to capture Trump and influence his positions, policies and decisions. The presidency is an institution, not a man, not a president. The presidency is a network of enormous power with Trump now at its center. Washington insiders who live and breathe politics are now in a race for positions of power and influence. They hanker and vie for appointments. Trump must make appointments. He cannot operate alone. He must delegate power to make decisions. He cannot monitor all information pertinent to every issue in which the government has a hand. 

The presidency is not 100 percent centralized. Decision-making power is allocated to levels below the president himself and to levels surrounding him. It also lies outside the presidency in Congress. Trump has his ideas and desires for actions, but their realization depends on the people he appoints. He loses control and locks himself in with every appointment that he makes. People around him want his power and want to influence him. They have a heavy influence on what he hears, whom he sees, the options presented to him, and the evaluations of competing personnel. Trump will likely form a very small team of offshoots of himself, people whom he trusts implicitly, in order to extend his capacity to choose people who will adhere to and execute his agenda.

Power in Washington is not simply the apparatus of administering the presidency that will take up headlines for the next few months. After the U.S. Treasury robs the tax-paying Americans, new robbers (the Lobby) appear to rob the Treasury using every device they can get away with. There is a second contingent, the power-seekers. Those who covet the exercise of power unceasingly work toward their own narrow aims. As long as Washington remains the place that concentrates unbelievably large amounts of money and powers, it will remain the swamp that Trump has promised to drain but won’t.
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Who Brought the World to the Brink of World War III?

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Who has the major responsibility for creating the confrontation between the US and Russia in Syria? How have these two major nuclear powers moved closer and closer to the brink of World War III?

At the moment, one clear way to resolve this clash is for Syria’s armed forces to win an unambiguous victory over the forces seeking to overturn the existing government. Bloody as it may be, the defeat of the rebel forces will defuse the military portion of the conflict between the US and Russia, at least within Syria. Russia, invited by Assad to aid him militarily, has been following that path.

Obama has haltingly and unevenly been following a different but also effective path, which is that the US pull back from the brink, that it stop calling for Assad’s resignation, and that it not directly become involved in attacking Syrian forces.

However, loud and aggressive voices within his administration and within the US government urge greater US military involvement. Hillary Clinton is counted more in this camp than not with her call for a no-fly zone in part of Syria if not all. Only 3 months remain before she is inaugurated and moves the US closer to the brink.
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Kerry’s Anger as Assad Poised to Win; the US Still Serves Israel and Saudi Arabia

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The headline reads “John Kerry calls for war crimes investigation of Russia and Syria over Aleppo attacks”. John Kerry is angry that the Syrian army is about to take eastern Aleppo. He’s angry because the US has no viable force to stop this. He’s angry because Assad is still in power. He’s angry that Assad has allies in Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. He’s angry that the chemical rap didn’t stick on Assad. He’s angry that the US didn’t launch a massive air attack on Syria’s infrastructure and military in 2013. He’s angry that no viable force of “moderate” rebels exists. He’s taking his anger out on Russia.

Kerry attacks Russia with phony charges because his other options are so unpalatable. He acts as if attacking a city to win a war has suddenly become a war crime, today, in 2016, in Aleppo. He acts as if it was not a crime for Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen, for NATO to attack Libya and for the US to attack Iraq and Afghanistan. He acts as if the moral designation of acts of war has changed drastically from the time that the US mercilessly bombed Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. This was a mere 45 years ago. Does the turning of a calendar page into the 21st century mean that an act of war that was always in mankind’s arsenal of killing suddenly has become a war crime? If so, then the US stands in the docket too.

Kerry is so angry and frustrated that he launches a propaganda salvo to obtain what he cannot win on the battlefield. He attacks Russia and Syria on grounds that apply to Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia in the 21st century. Is this also blindness? Is it also confidence that the American public and media will not call him on this because he’s gotten a free pass up to now? Is it that in the lame duck presidency, he feels free to express his frustration and lash out at convenient objects?
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Pinpoint Drone Attacks? There’s No Such Thing!

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The effectiveness of U.S. drone attacks in killing their targets vs. missing their targets and killing innocent human beings is analyzed in fine detail in this report. It looks at multiple attempts to kill a given person. For example, there were 3 U.S. drone attacks on the now-dead Mullah Nazir. These killed 24 innocent civilians. There were 3 U.S. drone attacks on the now-dead Mullah Sangeen Zadran; these killed 108 innocent civilians. Five attacks on the still-living Sirrajudin Haqqani have killed 82 civilians.

In multiple attempts to kill 41 men, the number of people killed in “collateral damage” is 1,147. That is, 28 innocent people have died for every attempt by the CIA or other U.S. forces to kill a target by drone.

Contrast the statements made by U.S. officials. Obama (2012) said:
“Drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part, they have been very precise, precision strikes against al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

“There’s this perception that we’re just sending a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly. This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans. … It is important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash.”
Obama is dead wrong. The truth about drones is the opposite.
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The Cheney-Powell-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz Strategy: An Evaluation

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The U.S. never demobilized after the Cold War ended. It constructed new missions for its military. It adopted a new post-Cold War strategy but kept its military forces intact.

Americans received no peace dividend. To the contrary, as the years have passed and America’s wars have proliferated, Americans have expended enormous wealth.

The war policies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush grew out of defense plans of the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations. These plans maintained the Cold War mentality. This involved the U.S. constantly being heavily armed against foes and enemies. The Defense Department planners transmuted “Global threats” of the Cold War into “regional challenges and opportunities.” These plans retained a U.S. military force structure suitable for a wartime situation, rather than the actual peacetime situation.

In order to keep the U.S. on a military footing despite being at peace, these plans replaced the Soviet Union with an array of other justifications.  They appealed to such goals as maintaining regional stability, being able to fight two wars, defending American overseas interests in natural resources, warding off foreign threats, fighting terrorism and preventing the emergence of rivals. The planners multiplied missions and magnified their importance.
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What Does the U.S. Support When It Supports Israel?

Palestine Child

According to the Congressional Budget Office, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance.” 

Other special benefits also flow to the Israeli military. Each year, the U.S. pays for about 20 percent of Israel’s overall military spending, and the total places Israel as the 16th largest military spender in the world. “In 2007, the Bush Administration and the Israeli government agreed to a 10-year, $30 billion military aid package for the period from FY2009 to FY2018.” Obama has renewed that pledge.

The U.S. routinely supports Israel’s policies and avoids condemning Israel for its rights violations against Palestinians. It may never have done so. This week, for example, the U.S. cast the sole vote against the U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution concerning the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The vote was 29-1. A link to the full text of the resolution is here. (The texts vary slightly in different reports.)
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Ukraine Asks for Lend-Lease from US

Poroshenko

The new president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, wants a Lend-Lease agreement with the US government, to focus on military assistance and training. If the US agrees, that inserts the US directly into the war currently being waged between Ukraine and fighters for the two breakaway republics: the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. This war has been steadily escalating.

Americans should firmly reject such a program.

The original Lend-Lease program began March 11, 1941 and provided material aid to foes of Germany and Japan. I view it, as did Senators Taft and Wheeler, as a backdoor entry point of the U.S. into World War II without a declaration of war by Congress. Acts of war legally involve armed conflicts. Lend-Lease didn’t involve U.S. armed forces at first, but FDR gradually got armed forces involved since convoys had to be protected. By September, 1941 he had ordered Axis submarines to be sunk.


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The Theory Behind USAID Is Wrong...And in Practice It's Worse!

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USAID (United States Agency for International Development) announces its theory as follows: “USAID says that its work helps ensure American security and prosperity – arguing that the world is more stable if there is less poverty and strife.”

If the U.S. government props up client states with aid, floods their markets with American agricultural goods, underwrites military purchases, introduces Keynesian economic practices, and provides disaster aid, this is supposed to make the people wealthier and reduce political strife. If the country becomes more indebted to the IMF and World Bank, building unprofitable signature projects, this is supposed to raise living standards, making people content and happy. And all of that improvement, which actually doesn’t happen, is supposed to make Americans more secure and prosperous, a very far-fetched theory.

Intra-domestic wealth transfers in the U.S. likewise have done more harm than good, producing greater dependency, worse education, more red tape, and higher debt while undercutting private capital growth that might have involved job creation. Why are we not to expect that foreign wealth transfers are likewise doing more harm than good?
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