Demise of the American Empire: Pinpointing the Timeline

 

In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power

by Alfred W McCoy

Haymarket Books (2016)

Book Review

Prior to 2001 and the launch of the War on Terror, the US political elite adamantly denied (despite massive evidence to the contrary), that the United States was an empire rather than a republic. Because their sudden about face (ie acknowledgement and promotion of US imperialism) was so recent, there has been little opportunity for scholarly analysis of America’s effectiveness as an empire. It’s this void Alfred McCoy seeks to fill with In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.

Competition for Control of the Eurasian Landmass

McCoy traces America’s serious global empire building to their defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898, which won them Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Panama Canal Zone and the Philippines.* He maintains that us strategies for empire-building, like those of the former British empire, have mainly relied on seeking and maintaining control of the “World-Island.” This is a term coined by London School of Economics director Halford Mackinder’s World Island in 1904. Under this concept, the World Island consists of the vast European-Asian landmass that is home to 70% of the world’s population, 75% of its global energy resources and 60% of its current productivity.

How the US Maintains Military Control

After the US became the world’s preeminent superpower after World War II, they have used nine basic strategies to maintain military control of the Eurasian landmass: mass surveillance (based on a system of extensive personal data collection that began during their “pacification”** of the Philippines (1898-1907); CIA covert operations (involving electoral interference, military coups, installation of compliant puppet dictators, targeted assassinations, torture, advanced technological weaponry (electronic senors, satellite imagery, drones, etc) and, increasingly cyperwarfare and space-based weaponry (most information about the latter two is classified).

America Falling Behind China Economically and Militarily

For me the most interesting section of the book examines ways in which the US is rapidly falling behind China – not only economically but militarily. McCoy identifies Bush’s rash decision to invade Iraq as the start of the American empire’s steady decline. While the US has spent the last 16 years mired in unwinnable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, China is busily building alliances and investing their trade surplus (from selling Americans cheap consumer goods) in Russia and other countries located in the World Island. In Afghanistan alone, they are responsible for 79% of foreign investment.

Meanwhile China is rapidly creating a single economic zone across the Eurasian landmass, with a vast network of high speed trains and pipelines following historical Silk Road and Tran-Siberian Railway routes – and soon a high speed Southeast Asian and Moscow-Beijing line.

Even the Pentagon-linked Rand Corporation predicts China’s will exceed that of the US by 2030 or sooner. In 2010, China became the world’s leading manufacturing nation. In 2014, it took the lead in the number of new patents it awards annually.

Even more concerning is the rapid decline of US educational standards compared to those of China, which has ominous implications for the development of high tech weaponry. Chinese students consistently score first in math, science and reading, while US students score 27th, 20th and 17th respectively.

By 2025, China is expected to have better long range cruise missiles than the US, better air defense aircraft, better electronic sensors, better digital communications capacity, better computer processing power and better cyber-security. At the same time, they have a significant strategic advantage because the US spreads its military resources so thin by fighting so many foreign wars simultaneously.

According to McCoy, they already have the ability to cripple critical US infrastructure (electrical and telecommunications grid and pipelines) via cyber warfare.

Collapse Predicted Between 2030-2040

McCoy predicts (and makes an excellent case for) the demise of the US empire some time between 2030-2040. It could happen gradually, as US economic and military prowess continues its steady decline – or suddenly, if the loss of its privileged status causes the US dollar to collapse. The impending implosion may be aggravated by climate change, especially if the Pentagon is drawn into wars over dwindling food and water resources or control of massive numbers of climate refugees.


*In a separate development, the Kingdom of Hawai’i was illegally overthrown by The Committee of Safety (a group of wealthy American/European businessmen) in 1998. The Committee of Safety used U.S. Marines to detain the Queen while they announced their takeover of Hawai’i.

**”Pacification” is a military euphemism for violently subjugating the indigenous population of an occupied country.

Originally published in Dissident Voice

 

 

What Silicon Valley Has Planned for Public Education

What Silicon Valley Has Planned for Public Education

Alison McDowell (2017

This troubling presentation concerns a well-advanced plan by corporate America to gradually replace public schools with 100% digital education. The attack on American schools is multi-pronged – with anti-public school forces closing schools, laying off teachers and neglecting crumbling infrastructure while stealthily increasing the availability of digital notepads, Chrome books and other digital platforms in existing schools.

Education Reform 2.0 would build on high stakes testing and school closures to replace teachers with digital learning platforms designed to incorporate “cradle to grave” tracking of students’ skill sets and online activity. Increasingly employers would rely on this information to determine suitability for employment.

The institutional backers of this digital revolution include some of the most powerful corporations and foundations in the US. Prominent names include the Gates Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Goldman Sachs, the Institute for the Future (offshoot of Rand Corporation), Amazon, Google, Dell (the company Snowden worked for), and Halliburton.

The US military is also involved and planning and development of 100% digital learning with Army Research and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) assuming responsibility for the “behavior modification” (ie mind control aspects) that reward students for appropriate engagement with the digital platform.

McDowell describes how many schools across the US are already replacing class time with Skype sessions with Halliburton “mentors” and on-line math lessons with carton “peers.”

Proponents of 100% digital learning are working closely with focus groups to “market” this new technology that tracks and mind controls children to skeptical Americans who value their privacy.

At 38 minutes, McDowell shows a promotional film for “tracked online learning.” It explains how high school and adult learners are earning “edu-blocks for a variety of learning experiences (including reading books, volunteer work, watching videos and “teaching” skills to other learners. Also how companies are already using your ledger blocks to evaluate potential employees’ suitability for specific projects or even investing in their university education by paying their tuition. One edu-block enthusiast describes how participating in the online program is enabling her to reduce her student loan debt.

The ledger is designed to keep track of all the YouTube videos you watch and even all the texts you send (and delete).

Did the CIA Create the Hippie Movement?

george-morrison

Admiral George Stephen Morrison

Inside the LC: The Strange But Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation

By Dave McGowan (2008)

Free PDF: Inside the LC

Book Review

Inside the LC is a collection of blog posts Dave McGowan published in 2008 about the close relationship between the US military intelligence complex and the rock stars who created the hippy rock culture that emerged from the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles. As he relates the detailed family histories of various rock stars, it’s uncanny how many of them originated from Washington DC and families with military intelligence backgrounds. A few of them had personal intelligence backgrounds.

Examples include

  • Jim Morrison – son of George Stephen Morrison, the admiral piloting the warship involved in the phony Gulf of Tonkin incident used to justify the introduction of ground troops into Vietnam.
  • Frank Zappa – son of chemical warfare specialist at facility implicated in MKUltra.*
  • John Phillips (The Mamas and the Papas) – son of military intelligence officer. By strange coincidence, Philips himself was in Cuba “fighting for Castro” at the time of the Cuban revolution.
  • Stephen Stills (The Byrds/Crosby, Stills and Nash) – product of career military family. Stills himself served in Vietnam (presumably either as CIA or Special Operations) prior to the introduction of ground troops.
  • David Crosby (The Byrds/Crosby, Stills and Nash) – son of military intelligence officer.
  • Jackson Browne – son of OSS** officer.
  • Joan Baez – daughter of CIA officer who worked at MIT
  • John Denver (aka Henry John Deutschendorft) – son of career Air Force officer stationed at Roswell.
  • Emilylou Harris – daughter of career military officer stationed in Washington DC
  • Phil Ochs – openly talked about working for CIA. Also happened to be in Chile in 1973 during CIA coup.

McGowan also explores the intelligence links of the movie stars and Rand Corporation*** employees and supporters who lived in Laurel Canyon. Various movie stars worked clandestinely at the CIA’s secret movie studio the Lookout Mountain Laboratory (in Laurel Canyon). McGowan believes it’s no coincidence that the start of the anti-Vietnam War movement in 1965 was quickly followed by a flood of rock stars moving from Washington DC to Laurel Canyon – to rub shoulders with Hollywood actors who worked for the CIA in their spare time. In fact, he makes a strong case that the whole hippy/drug/sex/music scene was engineered by the CIA (and heavily promoted by CIA-controlled corporate media outlets) to lure young people away from the antiwar movement.

About half the book is devoted to the absurd number of freak uninvestigated deaths (including those committed by singer/songwriter Charles Manson and his followers) in Laurel Canyon. Among the suspicious deaths McGowan covers are those of Jimi Hendrix, Mama Cass Elliot, James Dean, Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood, Brian Jones (Rolling Stones), Ricky Nelson, John Belushi, John Denver, Phil Hartman, Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys) and Jim Morrison.

McGowan also finds it quite strange that a number of these bands came out of nowhere despite having virtually no talent. Jim Morrison, for example, was incarnated virtually overnight as a Sunset Strip rock star with a backing band (which had no prior band experience) and a full repertoire of songs he allegedly wrote before the Doors was even formed. Exactly how he wrote these songs is even more mysterious given that he couldn’t play an instrument or read music, especially given his sudden transformation from a clean cut collegiate conservative to a brooding sex symbol.


*MKUltra – a CIA mind control project that engaged in illegal experimentation on human subjects.

**The Office of Strategic Service (OSS) – the US intelligence agency that morphed into the CIA following World War II

***Rand Corporation – a nonprofit research corporation with close links to the US military-intelligence complex

The Mythology of Science and Technology

Pandora’s Box: A Fable from the Age of Science

Directed by Adam Curtis (1992)

Film Review

Pandora’s Box is Curtis’s first documentary (at least that I can find on YouTube) about the history of perception management, mass indoctrination and collective thought control. His films, a treasure trove of the hidden history that is censored in our schools, offer a unique perspective on the role of government and media in manipulating the way we view ourselves and our relationship with society and the ruling elite.

First appearing on BBC television in 1992, the six-part series explores the collusion between engineers, corporate oligarchs and the public relations industry to hoodwink the industrialized world into believing science and technology would solve all the world’s problems. It was a process that granted a dangerous amount of power to pseudo-rational engineer/technocrats – who in many instances proved far less rational than the general population.

As Curtis demonstrates in Part 1, a parallel process occurred in the non-capitalist Soviet Union under Stalin.

Part 1 The Engineer’s Plot – concerns the powerful impetus to electrify and industrialize the Soviet Union after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Lenin, who believed industrialization was vital to the success of Communism, was famous for the dictum: “Communism is Soviet power plus electrification.”

Part 2 To the Brink of Eternity – concerns the development of Game Theory at the Rand Corporation (a right wing think tank closely allied with the Pentagon and US intelligence) and whiz kids like Kennedy’s Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara who nearly led us into a global nuclear holocaust. Clips depicting McNamara’s use of Game Theory to manage the Vietnam War are particularly comical.

Part 3 The League of Gentleman – concerns the capture of British economic policy by Milton Friedman’s pseudo-scientific monetarism under Margaret Thatcher. This would result in the total decimation of Britain’s manufacturing base and skilled workforce (and economy).

Part 4 Goodbye Mrs Ant – concerns the glorification of the chemical industry after World War II, resulting in the total contamination of the environment (and our bloodstreams) with DDT and similar synthetic pesticides. Curtis also traces the backlash against this environmental destruction that started with Rachel Carson’s 1962 Silent Spring and culminated with the birth of the ecology movement at the University of Wisconsin in 1968.

Part 5 Black Power – concerns the destructive myth perpetuated by Wall Street and the World Bank that massive technology projects would magically solve the problem of third world poverty. Curtis specifically examines the massive Volvo damn project the World Bank funded for Ghana (and Kaiser Aluminum) in 1960. And how shameless exploitation by Kaiser (and the collapse in the world cocoa price) left the country worse off than ever.

Part 6 A is for Atom – concerns the massive snow job the nuclear power industry did on the US, British and Russian public in promoting nuclear energy as a totally safe and cheap form of virtually unlimited energy. According to Curtis, nuclear engineers knew as early as 1958 that nuclear power was far more expensive than other energy sources – and would require massive government subsidies. They also knew by the early sixties that standard safeguard features were unreliable in preventing nuclear accidents. When they pointed this out to the Atomic Energy Commission, the government bureaucrats decided too much money had been invested in nuclear power to admit they were wrong.

How the CIA Used LSD to Destroy the New Left

drugs-as-weapons

Drugs as Weapons Against Us: The CIA’s Murderous Targeting of SDS, Panthers, Hendrix, Lennon, Cobain, Tupac and Other Activists

by John L Potash

Trine Day LLC (2015)

Book Review

Drugs as Weapons Against Us is a virtual encyclopedia of the global drug trade. Author John L Potash devotes special attention to the long involvement of the British and US government in illegal trafficking – for the political and financial benefit of the elite families who control these governments. Most of the book focuses on MKUltra, the top secret CIA program devoted to developing and experimenting with mind altering drugs such as LSD, MDA (an ecstasy precursor), STP, PCP and scopolamine.

Although CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MK-Ultra records destroyed in the mid-seventies, 30,000 pages of documents were preserved in the CIA Finance Department. Meticulously researched and footnoted, Drugs as Weapons relies on an extensive variety of sources, including the 30,000 pages, FOIA releases, police files, whistleblower statements, media and alternative media investigations and other prominent researchers such as Peter Dale Scott, Alfred, McCoy, Alex Constantine, Catherine Austin Fitts, and the late Gary Webb and Michael Rupert.

Using MKUltra to Target Leftists and Radical Pop Stars

As the title suggests, Potash is mainly interested in the CIA’s use of LSD (with the help of British intelligence, which ran a parallel MKUltra program at the Tavistock Clinic) to “neutralize” leftists and activist pop stars, such as Paul Robeson, Mick Jagger, Abbie Hoffman, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix.*

Like many activists, I am well aware of the CIA’s historic role in heroin trafficking in Southeast Asia and in cocaine trafficking in Latin America. However prior to reading Drugs as Weapons, I was totally unaware they were also responsible for most of the LSD produced between 1955 and 1973 – for the specific purpose of “neutralizing” the New Left in Berkeley, at Columbia University and elsewhere. This particular MKUltra project was conceived in response to a 1962 Rand Corporation study recommending that getting left wing leaders hooked on LSD could “cause them to resign or become inactive.”

The Haight Ashbury was a CIA Invention

I was particularly horrified to learn about the LSD distribution network MKUltra agents set up in the Haight Ashbury to lure Berkeley students away from the nationally influential Free Speech movement. The latter, originally formed in 1957 to protest the anti-democratic activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House on Un-American Activities Committee, went on to inspire the national anti-Vietnam War Movement.

In addition to various MKUltra scientists and agents, the CIA also relied on a number of high profile personalities – LSD guru Timothy Leary (an admitted CIA asset), author Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), and Grateful Dead band members – to promote and distribute LSD as an alternative to organizing against the Vietnam War.

How the Opium Trade Created America’s First Millionaires

Potash begins his book with important historical background on the origins of the global drug trade, which he traces back to 1500 and which European elites relied on heavily to finance imperial expansion and colonization. He also recounts the history of important Wall Street families – the Cabots, Cushings, Bushes, Astors, Russells, Pierponts (JP Morgan’s family) – who all owe their immense wealth to the opium trade the British involuntarily forced on China via the Opium Wars. The investment of these families in illegal drug trafficking continues to the present day, as evidenced by the involvement of all major US banks in multibillion dollar drug money laundering.

The Russell family, who would go on to found Yale and the Skull and Bones Society, openly used a skull and bones pirate flag on their opium trading ships.

The Vietnam War: Protecting Wall Street Drug Interests

Potash also carefully details the special relationship between these Wall Street families and the intelligence agency they founded during World War II (the OSS, which became the CIA in 1947) to protect their special interests. This comes out really clearly in the chapter in which Potash traces the origins of the Vietnam War. He makes a really strong case that this war (which began in the late fifties as a CIA intervention) stemmed directly from CIA determination to protect Golden Triangle opium production from efforts by nationalist leaders in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to eradicate it.

One of Mao’s first acts after winning control of China was to destroy the country’s vast opium network. With the support of the CIA, the nationalist Chinese generals who had controlled it moved their networks into Burma, Laos and Thailand.

The Link Between CIA-backed Nazi War Criminals and Colombian Cocaine

In a similar vein, the CIA assisted Klaus Barbie and other Nazi war criminals it smuggled out of Germany in setting up a cocaine production and distribution network in Colombia and later the Afghan Mujaheddin in turning their country into the world’s largest producer of heroin.

Potash makes a compelling case that the proximate cause for the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in October 2001 was the Taliban’s successful eradication of opium production earlier that year.


*The cases of radical pop stars and activists targeted with LSD and other drugs (in many cases along with witnesses and key investigators) Potash examines include

  • Paul Robeson – African American singer whose career was destroyed when he was involuntarily dosed with LSD and committed for two years to a psychiatric hospital, where he received 54 electroconvulsive treatments,
  • Richard Wright – African American writer involuntarily dosed with LSD who later died under extremely suspicious circumstances.
  • Elvis Presley – became addicted to amphetamines and narcotics after covert intelligence officer became his manager.
  • Mama Cass Elliott – died under mysterious circumstances at age 32 after starting to date an international drug smuggler with suspected intelligence links.
  • Abbie Hoffman –introduced to LSD by roommate who worked for Army Intelligence research LSD effects on unconsenting GIs.
  • Mick Jagger – involuntarily dosed with LSD and subject to numerous drug frame-ups and two unsuccessful Hell’s Angels (working closely with US intelligence) assassination attempts.
  • Brian Jones – subject to numerous drug frame-ups and intense phone harassment and stalking prior to 1969 murder (which police covered up as “accidental” drowning).
  • Jimi Hendrix – intelligence-linked manager strongly implicated in death related to involuntary drugging.
  • Janis Joplin – introduced to amphetamines and heroine via intelligence-linked boyfriend, died after “friend” slipped her a bolus of pure CIA heroin.
  • John Lennon – involuntarily dosed with LSD and framed on bogus cannabis charge. Lennon’s alleged assassin Mark Chapman had strong intelligence links and appeared to be under influence of scopolamine.
  • Bob Marley – involuntarily injected with the cancer-causing chemical methlychoanthine (via a copper wire hidden in boots gifted to him by CIA asset Carl Colby) and subsequently died of fibrosarcoma.
  • Kurt Cobain – involved in heavy drug use by his wife Courtney Love, who had shadowy underworld and intelligence connections. Cobain allegedly shot himself in the head with a shotgun after consuming so much heroin he would have lost consciousness before he could pull the trigger.
  • Huey Newton – initiated into heavy cocaine use by girlfriend/undercover agent. Witnesses maintain he was shot after a failed attempt to kidnap him, discrediting police disinformation about “a drug deal gone bad.”
  • Tupac Shakur – multiple assassination attempts and police frame ups. Coerced, as part of a bail agreement, into signing with Death Row records (see The FBI War on Rap). The latter was run by Los Angeles police intelligence unit and heavily involved in drug and gun trafficking. Killed in drive-by shooting instigated by US intelligence.
  • Eminem – initiated into heavy drug use via undercover intelligence “friends” after helping Afeni Shakur (following Tupac’s assassination) to record many of Tupac’s songs.

Originally published in Dissident Voice

The Myth of Individual Freedom

Another great series of Adam Curtis documentaries about the myth of individual freedom

Trapped: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom

Adam Curtis

BBC (2007)

Film Review

Part 1 Fuck You Buddy

Trapped is an exploration of the major thinkers behind the ideologies of extreme individualism and consumerism championed by Reagan and Thatcher in the 1980s.

“Part 1 Fuck You Buddy” traces the major influence Game Theory and so-called Public Choice Theory played in the pro-freedom ideologies that propelled both leaders to power. It begins begins by introducing Rand Corporation and their use of Game Theory to fashion America’s cold war strategy. Game Theory is used in poker to predict all possible best moves for each player. Because it allows you to predict mathematically how your opponent will respond, Rand scientists used it to calculate how far the Soviets could be pushed without resorting to nuclear war.

Rand mathematician John Nash (played by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind) figured very prominently in this work. A number of cold war strategies are attributed to Nash, including the Nash Equilibrium, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, Fuck You Buddy and the Sucker Payoff.

John Nash Proves that Altruism Destroys Social Harmony

Like radical individualist Ayn Rand and conservative economist Friedrich von Hayek, Nash argued that altruism was irrational and destructive to social harmony. In fact, he proved mathematically that the only rational choice in any encounter is to act selfishly and betray the other person. He and his fellow Rand scientists also proved nuclear disarmament was impossible – their equations showed the Russians would cheat.

What’s Wrong with this Picture?*

Ironically every time Nash tested the secretaries at Rand, women always behaved “irrationally” and trusted each other. In 1959, Nash was committed for paranoid schizophrenia.** Yet none of the technocrats at Rand never thought to question the validity of his so-called “proofs.”

Enter R.D. Laing

Over the next decade, Nash’s ideas spread beyond Rand and the Pentagon to the broader public, thanks mainly to the work of radical psychiatrist R.D. Laing. Laing’s contribution was to apply Game Theory to family life. Based on questionnaires he administered to hundreds of families, he produced mathematical equations showing that all so-called normal families continuously use complex strategies to selfishly manipulate one another.

Laing, who dismissed psychiatry as a fake science, became the hero of America’s counter culture anti-psychiatry movement. His ideas also led to the widespread mistrust of authority (i.e. anyone over 30) and institutions that characterized the sixties.

James Buchanan and Public Choice Theory

Conservative economist James Buchanan took Laing’s ideas one step further with Public Choice Theory. Buchanan maintained that politicians and bureaucrats who claimed to be working for the public interest were really self-deluding hypocrites acting in their own self-interest. He also argued that the only way to trust public officials was to reward them for behaving appropriately with mathematical targets, incentives and rewards.

Thatcher would became prime minister in 1979 by promising to free the British public from power mad, unsympathetic bureaucrats.

The Chinese Menu System of Psychiatric Diagnosis

Laing would also have a profound influence on both psychiatric and medical practice. In 1979, the growing influence of the anti-psychiatry movement would lead to a new psychiatric diagnostic system. Unlike physical illnesses, which are diagnosed based on history and physical findings, mental illness would now be diagnosed based on symptom checklists resembling Chinese menus. The adoption of this checklist approach also made it possible for people to “diagnose” themselves and to demand drugs and other treatment interventions to make them “normal.”


*The failure of the Fuck You Buddy model to work with women should have rung all kinds of alarm bells. Not that all women are necessarily more inclined to interpersonal trust and cooperation. However at the very minimum, someone should have taken a hard look at the geeky, Aspergerish types who relied entirely on cold mathematical models to explain social behavior.
**Based on everything I’ve read by and about Nash, I’m highly skeptical he suffered from schizophrenia. It seems much more likely he suffered from Asperger’s disorder complicated by bipolar disorder (which often presents with hallucinations and paranoid delusions). Prior to the 1970s, bipolar disorder was commonly misdiagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. Asperger’s wasn’t formally recognized until 1981.

Free link to Part 1: The Trap 1 Fuck You Buddy [BBC]