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America, The Waning Days

General Ideas

Potential earthquakes and black swans are right ahead of us. What else is new?

On April 16, Turkey has a referendum to decide whether Erdogan will become de facto supreme ruler. What happens if he loses the referendum is completely unclear, undiscussed even, but it’s obvious a loss would have the country shake on its already shaky foundations.

The Turkish economy is in horrible shape and Erdogan’s post-coup firings (hundreds of thousands) and jailings (tens of thousands) have made large parts of society unattended. The biggest of which may well be the army; you can’t fire large numbers of officers and pilots and expect to retain the same strike effectiveness.

Erdogan’s ongoing war on the Kurds is also turning against him, or at least internationally. Both Russia and the US acknowledge the important role Kurdish forces play in the battle against ISIS, and they’re not going to turn against them. So while Turkey demands a major role in neighboring Syria, it has essentially been put off-side, or benched.

Russia maintains (some of) its boycotts of Turkish products ($260 million worth of tomatoes) that were the result of Erdogan downing a Russian jet in late 2015, and the refuses to deliver arch-enemy Gülen, despite Michael Flynn’s best efforts. This means, by the way, that the country simply hasn’t provided irrefutable proof of the man’s role in the coup (if it was ever a real coup).

If Erdogan cannot come up a winner on Sunday, he would lose a lot of face. And he might lose more than that. Of course one must question if it’s even a option that the Turkish people vote NO, and that that would subsequently be announced as the referendum result. He controls just about anything in the country already; why not this too, by right or by might?!

Second black swan: France. It could be a genuine black one, as in unexpected. Less than two weeks before the first round of the presidential election, all of a sudden another contender has come to the fore. Far left Jean-Luc Mélenchon was never given any chance of winning, but one TV debate later his popularity is rising fast.

The French have long been tired of their political system, and this time around that could mean all established parties are out. Even perhaps including Emmanuel Macron, who doesn’t belong to a party but is still perceived as a member of the establishment, no matter how hard he tries not to be.

Come round two on May 7, voters might be faced with the -stark- choice between far left and far right, with a big gaping empty hole in between. That would leave no option of a ‘safe choice’, the big hope of everyone who doesn’t like Marine Le Pen. It would also leave no candidate who unwaveringly supports the euro or even the EU.

In fact, it’s ironic -make that funny- to what extent far left and far right ideas ‘meet in the middle’. Add to the irony that Melenchon’s rise makes a Le Pen presidency that much more likely, because a ‘communist’ is seen as at least as dangerous as Le Pen. That might give her the undecided votes she will need to prevail.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Moscow, he’s way out of his league, and he knows it. His task is, if you read between the lines, to deliver warnings and threats to Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, but both are not only at least as smart as Rex, they have the many years of experience in international politics that he woefully lacks.

The White House issued a ‘we can prove it was Assad, and it was sarin’ report yesterday, but they can not. The sarin accusation even makes little sense given the photos of people attending to the victims with bare hands. Accusing Russia of being complicit in Assad attacking his own people with gas/chemicals doesn’t really fly either.

Tillerson said earlier in the week that Russia is either ‘incompetent or complicit’, that it should have made sure Assad had no chemical arsenal. But a 2013 treaty between the US and Russia established a UN body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), that is responsible for that. And the US is part of that body, and as such co-responsible.

And yes, there will be people saying that Russia delivered chemical capacity to Assad despite the treaty. But why should it? That question falls into the same category as why Assad would use chemicals to begin with at this point in time. It makes no sense, there is no logic. But then in the US logic has been in short supply for a while, certainly when politics are concerned.

Tillerson apparently was told to tell Russia that it has to stop supporting Assad or else, but that is just real dumb. Syria is Russia’s only haven in the Middle East, and there’s no chance they will give it up. And why should they? Would the world be a better place if the US can do whatever it wants in the region? Haven’t the utterly failed regime changes in Iraq and Libya done enough damage?

Sure, Assad may be a shaky asset. But what about the Saudi’s and their western-supported obliteration of the entire nation and peoples of Yemen? Want to look at some pictures that can drive Ivanka to tears? You won’t see them in your media, and neither will she. It’s all just biased nonsense, and by now it’s hard to see how Trump will find his own way in, let alone find his way out of, this foreign swamp.

Threatening Russia is certainly not that way. But sure, the President must feel eager to disprove the unproven non-stop allegations of collaboration between him and Putin. And the one-sided attacks did indeed stop only when the bombs started to fall. It’s all so predictable it makes you want to puke all over your morning paper all over every single morning, Groundhog Day style.

The New York Times was awarded a Pulitzer for “agenda-setting reporting on Vladimir Putin’s efforts to project Russia’s power abroad”. I kid you not. The American press has lost all concerns about its own credibility, and the Pulitzers follow them with a vengeance. And that same press did a weather-vane like 180 as soon as 59 Tomahawks were aimed and fired at an abandoned airport in the sand.

They were anti-Trump mongers the whole time, and changed like a leaf on a tree in seconds, to become pro-war mongers. It’s something to behold. They love him! The starkest example, among too many to keep count of, was presented in a publication named The Hill, which we are apparently supposed to take serious. It’s just another WaPo and NYT clone, but this thing by “General Anthony J. Tata, Opinion Contributor” sums it all up too nicely to ignore:

Trump’s Adherence To American Values Demonstrates His Commitment To Protecting Us

In the wake of Tuesday’s Syrian chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians, President Barack Obama will be remembered as America’s modern day Neville Chamberlain, the infamous United Kingdom Prime Minister who appeased Nazi Germany in 1938 by signing the Munich Agreement, setting the stage for the holocaust. Contrast Obama’s negligence with President Donald Trump’s decisive action a mere two days following the Syrian violation of international law. The Syrian government used chemicals to brutalize its citizens in Khan Sheikhoun.


President Trump immediately denounced the attacks, labeling them, “An affront to humanity.” Less than 72 hours later he ordered the launch of 60 cruise missiles to destroy the airfield from which the bomb delivering airplanes departed. If Obama’s passivity in the face of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) deployed in Syria in 2013 lends to Chamberlain comparisons, President Donald Trump’s military action against Syria this week compares favorably to Winston Churchill, Chamberlain’s effective wartime successor.


Just as Chamberlain and Churchill viewed Nazi Germany differently, how could two modern day American presidents see essentially the same horrifying pictures of chemical weapons attack victims and come to two decidedly different conclusions about their terror and an effective response?


Jarring images of Tuesday’s sarin nerve agent attack on its citizens that circulated the world this week were similar to those that went viral in 2013: bodies torqued in gruesome death poses, patients oozing bodily fluids from their mouths and noses, and children running blind through the streets. In 2013, an unimpressed President Obama found a passive, ineffective diplomatic solution relying on unreliable Russian oversight. Syria obviously maintained and built its weapons of mass destruction stockpiles. The United Nations was even in on the deal, declaring that there were no more chemical weapons in Syria.

There’s so much stupidity and mendacity in that, you really have to take some time out to let it sink in. But it’s also very representative of American media these days. CNN, WaPo, NYT, they’re all full of people who by now must feel really shortchanged because Trump hasn’t dropped many more bombs on Syria, and they’re more than willing not to show us the pictures of the children those bombs would maim and kill. After all, how many pictures have you seen of Yemen’s death and famine?

When Trump told Maria Bartiromo that “we’re not going into Syria”, you can bet your buttocks lots of executives behind the desks there were thinking of one thing only: how do we get him to do it anyway? They still have hope there’ll be a major war soon, I guarantee you that.

But Putin is not going to move an inch, not on Syria and not on anything else. He knows the US army can do a lot of damage, but it can’t win. It hasn’t won an actual war in many decades, and it won’t win this one either if whoever’s in Washington decides to start it.

Before I started writing this I was thinking about Rip van Winkle rather than Groundhog Day. The whole media 180, and the war cries, are exactly like they were in 2003. Now, Rip van Winkle allegedly slept for 20 years, not 14, but hey, details. The cute thing about the Rip van Winkle story is also in the details:

When he awakens, Van Winkle discovers shocking changes: his musket is rotting and rusty, his beard is a foot long, and his dog is nowhere to be found. He returns to his village, where he recognizes no one. Van Winkle returns just after an election, and people are asking how he voted. (Wikipedia)

That election thing is priceless. But Rip woke up to find his entire world completely changed. Whereas today’s hollow US war talk is something we’ve seen before, and many times. That’s more Groundhog Day style. There must be a way to connect the two stories in a way that fits today’s reality. Whoever finds it is in Hollywood blockbuster territory.

War is far too popular in America. It’s scary. Not least of all because the US has zero chance of winning. For the same reasons, by the by, that it can’t fix its health care system.

America as a country, a society, is not effective enough anymore to win anything, there’s no chance of a concerted effort, it’s too inward looking and distracted by TV-shaped reality and ‘social’ media, and its entire society is aimed only at maximizing profit at the expense of one’s own neighbors. America has turned into cats in a sack.

But yes, these are often the most dangerous times in the existence of an empire. The waning days. The downward slope. The swans that will pop up in that are definitely black; there’s no predicting those graceful beauties.

The Automatic Earth blog

11 Comments on "America, The Waning Days"

  1. makati1 on Fri, 14th Apr 2017 7:17 am 

    “War is far too popular in America. It’s scary. Not least of all because the US has zero chance of winning. For the same reasons, by the by, that it can’t fix its health care system.

    America as a country, a society, is not effective enough anymore to win anything, there’s no chance of a concerted effort, it’s too inward looking and distracted by TV-shaped reality and ‘social’ media, and its entire society is aimed only at maximizing profit at the expense of one’s own neighbors. America has turned into cats in a sack.’

    That pretty much sums it up.

  2. onlooker on Fri, 14th Apr 2017 7:26 am 

    That is what the American govt and some of us Americans need, to be humiliated and humbled. So, we along with the rest of humanity can brace and hopefully prepare for what is coming. But lets not just bash the US, everywhere you can find blame for humanities predicament.

  3. deadlykillerbeaz on Fri, 14th Apr 2017 8:12 am 

    On April 13 in 1204, Constantinople was sacked by the Crusaders. Everybody left town, on April 14, the place was more or less empty.

    The horses of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice were once in Constantinople.

    Istanbul was Constantinople!

    That’s How Every Empire Falls

    Caught a train from Alexandria
    Just a broken man in flight
    Running scared with his devils
    Saying prayers all through the night
    Oh but mercy can’t find him
    Not in the shadows where he calls
    Forsaking all his better angels
    That’s how every empire falls

    The bells ring out on Sunday morning
    Like echoes from another time
    All our innocence and yearning
    and sense of wonder left behind
    Oh gentle hearts remember
    What was that story? Is it lost?
    For when religion loses vision
    That’s how every empire falls.

    He toasts his wife and all his family
    The providence he brought to bear
    They raise their glasses in his honor
    Although this union they don’t share
    A man who lives among them
    Was still a stranger to them all
    For when the heart is never open
    That’s how every empire falls

    Padlock the door and board the windows
    Put the people in the street
    “It’s just my job,” he says “I’m sorry.”
    And draws a check, goes home to eat
    But at night he tells his woman
    “I know I hide behind the laws.”
    She says, “You’re only taking orders.”
    That’s how every empire falls.

    A bitter wind blows through the country
    A hard rain falls on the sea
    If terror comes without a warning
    There must be something we don’t see
    What fire begets this fire?
    Like torches thrown into the straw
    If no one asks, then no one answers
    That’s how every empire falls.

    R. B. Morris

    Recorded and performed by John Prine

  4. eugene on Fri, 14th Apr 2017 8:13 am 

    I feel very free to bash the US. For many decades we have raped, pillaged and plundered our way around the world. Others are not innocent but we sure as hell are king of the hill. And now with an extremely unstable president who thinks of no one but himself leading a nation of like minded, things are very dangerous.

  5. onlooker on Fri, 14th Apr 2017 8:51 am 

    Eugene exactly my thoughts. I did say “not just”

  6. AFDF on Fri, 14th Apr 2017 8:55 am 

    Erdogan is a tard and he will face another coup of assasination. why would anyone want to be a dictator ever since the invention of gunpowder? any nobody in position is never a match for lead with wings that can fly near 1000MPH.

    As for the french…they’re a tiny country.

    Russia is tiny compared to America. They’re a homogeneous society and my antena detectors tell me something about “incompetence” of their armed forces. Putin is a nobody dictator.

  7. Turning_Point on Fri, 14th Apr 2017 9:51 am 

    We love joystick wars in this country. Where few, if any, American soldiers are wounded or hurt. We don’t like real war with real American casualty counts. We love to bully the world only if it inflicts little if any costs on ourselves.

  8. BobInget on Fri, 14th Apr 2017 1:27 pm 

    Not the case today.
    But, when it proves too dangerous to make dumb comments on the internet for fear of reprisal.
    It’s way too late.

  9. makati1 on Fri, 14th Apr 2017 6:03 pm 

    The sooner the U$ becomes a 3rd world country, unable to support it’s foreign bases and a huge military, the better. Crash the economy.

    Perhaps the U$ needs a taste of what it is doing to the rest of the world? Cities destroyed, millions killed and tens of millions homeless. So be it. Tomorrow would be fine with me. I’m sure most of the world would applaud the event.

    Anti-America? Nope. Pro ‘Rest of the World’.

  10. Cloggie on Sat, 15th Apr 2017 2:24 am 

    Good article, agree with most.

    But since collapse visions are boring, I always prefer to ask: what comes next, what CAN come next? If Americans begin to realize that their 100 year old “alliance” with the Zionists will fail to “integrate” the entire world into the US empire… when Americans of European descent begin to realize that this “invade the world, invite the world” meme, only leads to “the world” taking over America and change it into a meaningless multicultural dump, where nobody feels home, where everybody lives apart together, where darkening cities will become “functional illiterate”… and you are only stuck with memories of how America once was before the Zionists took over and destroyed America with forced mass migration?

    What comes next?

    Answer: European Zionism.

    What is European Zionism: the establishment of a European country on North-American soil, comparable to the Indian reserves.

    There are about 3 million (pure) native Americans (5 million pure and mixed) owning a staggering 220,000 km2, slightly less than the UK (60 million). In contrast about 220 million Europeans live in the US. Once they realize that US-lead globalism will be over for ever, they will need to reinvent themselves and they will reject to “drown” into a third world society, so much is certain.

    The US heartland (“flyover country”, Mississippi basin) of ca 3 million km2, the home base of the Trump voters, could become the home for perhaps 120 million “rednecks”:

    The Anglo Dems/Reps elite supports in overwhelming majority the Jewish state of Israel and has shown that it was even willing to destroy the entire Middle East since 2003, after they telecrashed planes into buildings at 9/11 to create the pretext first, in order to create a “safe Israel”.

    Will the same Anglo elite support European Zionism? Of course not. This globalist US elite sees itself as the servant of the Sanhedrin, not of the European taxpayer backbone of the country. Here the Sikh Nimrata Randhawa (“Nikki Haley”), addressing her betters at an AIPAC convention:

    This picture pretty much sums up the political state of affairs in the US. That’s the difference between the USSR-1991. The Anglo-Zionist elite won’t voluntarily step down to make way for “European Zionism”. Fortunately the “European Zionists” of the future can rely on the Paris-Berlin-Moscow motherland of the future of ca. 680 million, that has all the interest in the world to make “European Zionism” work, in order to prevent a last-minute Washington-Beijing alliance.

    Interesting times, as they say in China.

  11. Cloggie on Sat, 15th Apr 2017 3:00 am 

    America is not the only entity that is “waning”. Europe is under pressure as well. Here Dutch rising right-wing star Thierry Baudet who for the first time made it into parliament last month, slightly more intellectually sophisticated than Geert Wilders, calling for a new European Renaissance:
    (English subs)

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