Israel only reason for US intervention in Syria

In the third paragraph, the Letter asserts: “While our nation has encouraged more stable and inclusive political systems in the Middle East, the regime in Tehran has spread its influence and destabilized its neighbors for its own gain.” To say this is an outrageous distortion of the truth would be an understatement. There is not a sane Iraqi, Syrian, Lybian, Yemeni and most Muslim Arabs who would vouch to such a distortion. In fact, internationally, the US and Israel are viewed as sources of threat to international peace and security; both have boots on foreign grounds but no foreign boots on their grounds. […]

Beyond any conceivable doubts, the Letter was dictated by Israelis or their advocates in Washington, signed and submitted by the 400 congressmen to Trump; the height of hypocrisy. What is dismaying is that hardly any voices of protests were raised in the American society at large or the political or intellectual segments about the fact that four hundred congressmen, who are elected by Americans to serve American interests, at a time when the US is bogged down in the Arab region, sign and submit a letter to the US President concerned almost exclusively with Israel Security.

These congressmen had an opportunity to make a coherent recommendation on US policy in the Arab region in the interest of American National Interest, but instead chose to make recommendations to safeguard the wellbeing and security of a foreign state: Israel.

Read the full article by Elias Samo here.

The Duran: Trump snubs Corbyn, Johnson snubs Trump, but Farage & the Queen meet Trump

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the US President’s trip to the UK. Trump sounded off on Brexit, he declined to meet with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn who then spoke at an anti-Trump rally. Conservative leader front runner, Boris Johnson, snubbed a meeting with the US President, saying he was too busy. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage did meet with Trump who is a “believer in Brexit.”

London’s SJW mayor Sadiq Khan had a public meltdown over Trump’s visit, for which Trump tweeted at Khan, ridiculing his track record and height. And then there was the ‘scandal’ that erupted because Donald Trump touched the Queen. Christoforou and Mercouris go on to discuss the UK’s dependency on the United States and its fate outside the EU with respect to the hegemon and its blacklisted companies like Huawei.

My comment: I agree with Alexander Mercouris that Trump isn’t interested in a neoliberal world order, but I disagree that Trump is interested in a world of sovereign states that negotiate hard with each other. If a country negotiates hard, instead of caving in to the US, the war hawks in power [less concerned with euphemistic language] go on to blacklist foreign companies [Huawei, Gazprom, the National Iranian Oil Company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. and others], government institutions [the IRGC] and heads of state [Nicolas Maduro].

Trump is interested in a world of client states obedient first and foremost to Washington, and not anyone else. To contrast it to Obama’s stance of – hey, UK, stick in the EU, because we negotiate with the EU, and if you exit, you’ll be pushed down the list of priorities… Trump says, if the EU as a political organization won’t bend to Washington’s demands [demands, not requests, because requests don’t have threats associated with them], then we’ll negotiate directly with the EU member states [and their parties] to oppose the EU from within.

There’s nothing wrong with bilateralism, but we can clearly see that Washington is trying to keep the European states economically and militarily dependent on the US – while demanding they take a belligerent stance against Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, and to a lesser extent Turkey, at least for now. Should Britain get a more independent PM, his or her foreign policy will have to be that of bringing the influence of other great powers in the region, in order to shrink the USA’s grip over it.

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Lindsey Graham is a TERRORIST!

by Serban V.C. Enache

On national television, Lindsey Graham, a republican senator, engages in a particular and detestable activity called terrorism. If the people of Venezuela and Cuba don’t choose Washington’s puppet, then they are going to suffer violence and death via invasion; because US economic warfare [forcing casualties via dearth] against both these countries is not enough. Graham wants to imitate Reagan’s invasion of Grenada and apply it to Venezuela and Cuba.

Notice how the interviewer on Fox News treats this terrorist threat as if it’s something vaguely out of the norm and thanks this subhuman filth of a senator for the interview, instead of invoking the US constitution, international law, and basic common sense against this maniac’s reprehensible proposal.

Let’s make it abundantly clear. All institutions [state, private and quasi] and all actors pressing for military confrontation and labeling diplomatic solutions as treasonous or anti-American are the scum of the earth, a cabal of death and ruin. They are war profiteers. They are a threat to other nations, including their own – a threat to all Humanity and a scourge before the eyes of any god worthy of worship. And in the interest of peace and rational dialog among and between nations, these supreme criminals should receive life sentence in prison.

I will cite three paragraphs from Emmerich de Vattel’s The Law of Nations 3rd book: Of War.

§ 32. Pretexts.

Let us, however, entertain a better opinion of nations and their rulers. There are just causes of war, real justificatory reasons; and why should there not be sovereigns who sincerely consider them as their warrant, then they have besides reasonable motives for taking up arms? We shall therefore give the name of pretexts to those reasons alleged as justificatory, but which are so only in appearance, or which are even absolutely destitute of all foundation. The name of pretexts may likewise be applied to reasons which are, in themselves, true and well-founded, but, not being of sufficient importance for undertaking a war, are made use of only to cover ambitious views, or some other vicious motive. Such was the complaint of the czar Peter I. that sufficient honours had not been paid him on his passage through Riga. His other reasons for declaring war against Sweden I here omit.

Pretexts are at least a homage which unjust men pay to justice. He who screens himself with them shows that he still retains some sense of shame. He does not openly trample on what is most sacred in human society: he tacitly acknowledges that a flagrant injustice merits the indignation of all Mankind.

§ 33. War undertaken merely for advantage.

Whoever, without justificatory reasons, undertakes a war merely from motives of advantage, acts without any right, and his war is unjust. And he, who, having in reality just grounds for taking up arms, is nevertheless solely actuated by interested views in resorting to hostilities, cannot indeed be charged with injustice, but he betrays a vicious disposition: his conduct is reprehensible, and sullied by the badness of his motives. War is so dreadful a scourge, that nothing less than manifest justice, joined to a kind of necessity, can authorize it, render it commendable, or at least exempt it from reproach.

§ 34. Nations who make war without reason or apparent motives.

Nations that are always ready to take up arms on any prospect of advantage are lawless robbers…

The Cure For Hyperinflation: Weimar and Venezuela

by Serban V.C. Enache

We frequently hear people bemoan the dreaded phenomenon of hyperinflation. We often hear only one explanation for it – the government printed money like crazy. We rarely hear the reasons behind the overuse of the currency press, which are: loss of output capacity [human and material] as a result of natural disasters or loss of a war, unfair war reparations, political instability, brazen corruption, the end of a fixed exchange rate with a strong currency. In this article I’ll focus on the cure for the phenomenon of hyperinflation – and this cure won’t entail brutal fiscal austerity that halts inflation by condemning much land and capital [buildings and machinery] to idleness and a great many souls to involuntary unemployment, poverty, and sickness.

The Weimar Republic. Background.

After WW1, life in Germany became hell. The political and economic burdens the creditors of the Versailles Treaty [Woodrow Wilson especially] imposed on the Germans created the conditions for the hyperinflation which soon followed. These impositions were highly unjust and impossible to meet. Meanwhile, the Ruhr Valley, Germany’s industrial heartland was occupied by the Allies. Workers responded to the occupation by organizing strikes. Crashing economic activity led to falling tax revenues and higher welfare payments. The Government, deprived of gold reserves and output capacity, had no choice but to print money to cover its costs plus the war reparations. Hyperinflation ensued. Farmers and manufacturers more and more refused to sell their output for the increasingly devalued Papiermark. This is the context of the phenomenon. Those interested in the facts will verify them, those interested solely in confirming their preconceived notions will dismiss them.

The Plan To Fix The Problem

Finance Minister Hans Luther, working together with Hjalmar Schacht [later head of the Central Bank], using Karl Helfferich’s idea of a currency backed by real goods, formulated a scheme to contain the rampant inflation of the Papiermark. In 1923, Berlin, the Rentenbank was created. The institution provided credit to agriculture, industry, and commerce.

The term “Rentenbank” stems from “annuity bonds”, fixed-income securities [bearer bonds] issued by the first pension banks during the 19th century. Since the Middle Ages the peasants were forced to provide easements to their landlords – various hand services and the like. In the early 19th century, though, agrarian reforms started in Prussia and other German states aimed to disband these obligations. The effort initially failed owing to a lack of a proper credit system.

To accelerate the agrarian reforms, pension banks were established as state-owned mortgage banks. They gave state-guaranteed, freely tradable and fixed-rate bonds (annuities) as money compensation for the expired privilege of the landlords. On the other hand, the peasants paid fixed income to the pension funds over a long period of time, from which the banks were able to service the principal and interest on the bonds. These reforms and the liberation of the peasants gained traction and agricultural productivity rose dramatically.

Enter the Rentenmark

Returning to the 1920s, November 1923 to be precise, the Rentenbank issued its own currency, the Rentenmark, which was covered by mortgages on the grounds of holdings. Total amount of mortgages and land imposts was valued at over 3.2 billion gold-marks. The Act creating the Rentenmark ensured twice yearly payments on property, due in April and October. In return for the real estate, Rentenbank issued interest-bearing bonds with a value of over 500 gold marks or a multiple thereof. The exchange rate between the Rentenmark and the Papiermark was set at 1:1 trillion, and with the US Dollar at 4.2:1.

The Rentenmark didn’t have legal tender status, so there was no legal obligation for private agents to accept it as a means of payment, however, all public institutions had to accept it. Even without legal tender status, the citizens embraced it right away. The Rentenmark’s value was relatively stable, while its quantity remained fixed, Shacht insisted on it. On August 30th, 1924, the newly-introduced Reichsmark became legal tender and was given equal value to the Rentenmark. It’s very important to note that this exchange rate was applied to two fiat currencies over which the Government had power of authority. It retained the right to alter the exchange rate if it wanted or needed to. The issued Rentenmark nominal remained in circulation up until 1948.

Tight Money Policy

In charge of the Central Bank, Hjalmar Schacht implemented a tight monetary policy, the institution ceased discounting Papiermark bills and, despite political pressures, he kept the volume of Rentenmarks strictly limited. As for fiscal policy, Finance Minister Hans Luther went on the austerity route, the correct choice given the circumstances. He brought forward due dates for taxes, increased prepayments of assessed taxes, raised the sales tax, and readjusted the fiscal burden between the regional governments [Lands] and the Reich [the Central Government]. Spending-wise, Luther shrank the number of Reich bureaucrats by a quarter over four months, froze bonuses and reduced their wages. These measures accompanying the issuance of the ‘land-backed’ Rentenmark succeeded; hyperinflation was brought to an end immediately. People spoke of the ‘miracle of the pension mark.’

Between 1926 and 1929 inflation hovered below 2 percent. In the early 30s, however, in reply to the Great Depression, the Government of Heinrich Bruning imposed harsh austerity measures needlessly [tightening credit, cutting wages, cutting public assistance, and increasing taxes], which exploded unemployment and poverty levels in the country and, in the process, made the once marginal Nazis incredibly popular with the people. The National Socialists opposed Bruning’s Government from the beginning, unlike the other right wing parties. Bruning and his policies became widely hated.

See the graph below.

The reader will rightly ask, why did fiscal austerity work for Schacht and Luther, but not for Bruning’s Government? Schacht and Luther applied counter-cyclical fiscal and monetary policy, while Bruning applied pro-cyclical policy. Excess demand relative to supply is eliminated via taxation [draining income from the private sector]. But during the Great Depression, there was too little demand relative to what was actually on the shelves. Bruning’s reforms collapsed aggregate demand levels even further.

Thoughts On Venezuela

The geopolitical aspect is very important, for it can greatly amplify minor or general problems very fast [See Turkey], or it can spark them. The State Central Bank’s dollars in non-cash form reside in accounts at the Federal Reserve, which are beyond Maduro’s control. The Government can’t access these funds. Recently, the US and the UK stole Venezuelan oil and bank assets worth about 30 billion dollars. More so, the US has imposed an outright embargo against Venezuela [trade sanctions levied since 2013 got harsher and harsher, depriving the country of hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity]. Lastly, belligerent statements coming from Europe and Latin America [Brazil and Colombia especially] and Washington threatening with ‘all options on the table,’ which includes assassination, sabotage, coup, and invasion.

Footage from supermarkets in the capital, stores filled with produce, reveal that a shortage of goods isn’t the problem, but high prices. If it’s true that Maduro’s Government kept public spending high without re-adjusting it to falling prices of crude, then his policy is a key contributor to the bolivar’s dramatically reduced purchasing power. Currency pegs and indexation of wages and pensions with anticipated inflation feed the vicious loop. The Venezuelan Government announced that it’s accepting payments in Euros. In my opinion, this is a big mistake, because the ECB can pull the same stunt on Venezuela that the FED pulled. Maduro is much better off negotiating an entry into the Petro-Yuan with Beijing. Why? You can purchase virtually anything from China. China has made numerous investments across the developing world without asking for political concessions in exchange, in stark contrast to the likes of the IMF. Beijing doesn’t seek regime change or privatizations in exchange for its money. It does business with whoever is interested and it offers advantageous rates too. Trade-wise the Chinese are interested in two things: securing raw material imports and securing demand for their factories. It’s a win-win for both sides.

In my opinion, Venezuela will become Syria 2.0, because there’s no sign that Washington is going to accept any other outcome. The satanic crowd around Trump, the Deep State, and their servants in the corporate media are all pushing the same old hypocritical, war-mongering narrative. They spew it as if it’s a new dish too, not the same rotten thing, teeming with slime and worms. And before we blame it all on the Republicans, remember that 85 percent of journalists in the US are registered Democrats. Since this issue is bipartisan, we know it’s outright devilry. Bolton, Pence, Trump, and the rest – they want to cover up their failure to dismember Syria and Iran by picking on Venezuela, a more vulnerable target closer to home.

If I were in Maduro’s shoes, I’d escalate things ahead of my rivals. I would invite in Russian and Chinese troops and war-gear. Washington doesn’t like to cooperate or negotiate with sovereign regimes. For many decades now, the logic has been, you do as we say, otherwise we treat you as a rogue state. Against a rival who doesn’t wish to bargain and who has threatened [euphemistically or not] violence and murder, you’ve no choice but to take all measures required. Maduro has to choose the 2nd most extreme of defence options [2nd only to the preemptive strike, which doesn’t apply here] because in this context, it’s the wisest step.

If mainstream commentators are fine with US gangsterism, with countries purchasing protection from Washington and the Military Industrial Complex, then they should be fine with Venezuela purchasing protection from Russia and China. They can’t oppose it without being hypocrites and without being Monroe Doctrine apologists, defenders of imperialism, oppression, and mass-murder; not that that’s gonna stop them. Let’s not be naive, US hegemony is shaking. The 2nd Cold War is on.

Update on Venezuela: a report by CEPR finds that US sanctions against Venezuela, started by Trump in 2017, are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths.

So What’s The Cure, Dammit?

The recipe for a return to price stability is contingent on the factors which spawned the instability. This list of measures will hopefully cover all eventualities: 1) Counter-cyclical fiscal policy [drain excess money in circulation via taxation, while cutting superfluous spending.] 2) Land-value capture to replace taxation of buildings, labor, sales, and enterprise [taxing natural monopolies, the rent of location; the site-value tax carries negative dead weight – it brings efficiency to the marketplace]. 3) Buffer stock policies [the public authority buys seminal commodities during periods of excess production and sells these commodities domestically during times of dearth]. 4) Allow the national currency to float freely according to demand [drop any fixed exchange rate, whether it’s to gold or foreign currencies, and embrace a sovereign fiat regime]. 5) Negotiate with rival political factions to settle differences and produce a national accord that appeases all sides to a reasonable extent. 6) Ration basic resources to ensure no section of the population starves [hands and minds are precious and must be kept alive and functional to create goods and services for another day; there’s no sense in killing off one section of the population to feed another extra rations]. 7) Bring in a second or third great power in your region, in order to decrease the bargaining power of the established one/s and strengthen your own position in the process. 8) Link up the country’s regions through a comprehensive system of infrastructure, high speed rail especially [the points of resource extraction with the manufacturing centers, the latter with the marketplaces]. 9) Restrict bank lending for speculative purposes [do not permit banks to accept financial assets as collateral for loans, or to mark their assets to market prices.] 10) Discourage private and public agents from borrowing in foreign currency [always ensure loans in domestic currency are cheaper than in foreign currency; never subsidize the latter type of loans]. 11) Employ all available labor to achieve maximum output [Depending on the situation, participation in public works programs would be mandatory or voluntary. In case of emergency, working hours could be increased and holidays decreased.] 12) Don’t lose a war [or better said, don’t lose peace negotiations concerning your fate]. 13) War Bonds [While the role of War Bonds is to allegedly fund a war, in practice what they do is drain liquidity from those who purchase them. They can be denominated in foreign currency, domestic currency, or both. That being said, liquid or illiquid purchasing power is still purchasing power. People can still purchase things on credit, contingent on their own financial situation. War Bonds may have a psychological effect on the populace, reminding households that they must tighten their belts, deferring consumption to the future, so more supplies can be allocated to the troops in the now. The promise is that, after the war is won, bond holders get paid at a profit. 14) Retiring the currency and replacing it with another [Brazil did it several times in the last 77 years; the Government announces taxes and fines payable in a different currency. This method involves burning away people’s cash savings. To escape hyperinflation, Zimbabwe gave several foreign currencies legal tender status.]