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Demystifying US and Israeli Power

Susan Cain and Mark Mason

By Susan Cain and Mark Mason

Government is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex. ~ Frank Zappa

Introduction

If paying attention to the mass media, one would think that politicians have power, that the President of the USA has power, or even that AIPAC has power -- They don't. He doesn't. AIPAC doesn't. Few people understand American imperial power because it's difficult to comprehend the unprecedented concentration of vast wealth in the hands of a few dozen individuals, and the ramifications for the rest of the world. Never before have so few people possessed so much wealth, and thus so much power over everything, including the US government, Israel, AIPAC, and --- everything within the imperial American sphere of corporate influence. The Earth is under the control of a few hundred corporations, and a few thousand capitalists. The apparent power of AIPAC to influence US policy is based upon the intense media presence AIPAC does have while real power remains present but pushed into the media background. In this paper, we examine the power relationship between the USA and Israel. We present evidence supporting the claim that state power is subordinate to corporate power, and corporate power is driven by the rewards of expanding profits through manipulating state policies. US transnational corporations, particularly those assigned to the military-industrial complex (MIC: arms manufacturers and others engaged in military and police-state support) join banks and other corporations at the top of USA political power. We remind ourselves that in the USA and Israel, money is political power, not religion or the people.

The US corporate-state is an imperial system comprised of and dependent upon multiple public-relations illusions, hardly none more accepted than the frequent claim that Israel controls US foreign policy. Proponents of this claim include, among others, Grant F. Smith of the Institute for Middle Eastern Policy and more generally the BDS movement (boycott, divest, and sanction), two which apply attention to AIPAC ascribing to AIPAC the power to control the USA Congress. [1]


The Israel-controls-the-US argument asserts that manipulation of the US Congress is achieved by the force of rhetoric, controlling US media, and through lobbying monies funneled through AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington who work to strengthen ties between the two countries in support of Israel). We entertain the question, does Israel control US Middle East policy? The illusion of Israeli political power ------- that it is believed by most of the actors who present this stage show to us such as members of Congress, the White House and its cabinet members, department heads, and the Israeli government itself from the top down -- the Prime Minister, President, and members of the Knesset. Not only do mainstream media journalists pander to and spread this myth, but also many of our best investigative journalists in alternative media never question this claim. All states serve the interests of a privileged class. When we examine the service Israel and AIPAC provide to US corporate imperialist goals, the value of creating a mythical robust independent Israeli state is revealed.

As pointed clarification, it is useful to present an overt disclaimer, that Jews and Judaism are religious doctrines which demand the respect and protection of free speech and freedom of religious belief. Our concerns are directed toward the policies and actions of the state of Israel, a political institution fully open to examination and criticism, as is a universal truth. All states are subject to policy evaluation. Debate regarding state policies are the core of Western democratic politics. Zionism attracted the US wealthy ruling class to the “Israel Project.” Zionism is a combination of Euro-American classic military settler-colonialism and modern corporate neocolonialism. It goes like this: kill and kick out the native peoples, blame the victims, label them savages or barbarians or terrorists, steal the land and the natural resources, claim religious justification, truth, justice, and democracy, use as a base for boundless imperial expansion and interference into neighboring countries in the name of national security. Zionism compliments Western European and American capitalist imperialism, and poses as a useful ideological cover for corporate invasion. Understanding US power dynamics is instructive. If Israel were not such a profitable enterprise and excellent cover for US actions, US support for the client state would end. This illusion has nothing to do with religion or anti-Semitism. US foreign policy toward Israel is not substantially different from that of US policy towards Saudi Arabia or Egypt. The US government is looking for power and profits, through the force of a corporate invasion, following on the heels of military invasion. Invasion by force can be direct, as in the Iraq invasion of 2003, or by proxy army, such as is the case for Israel, Egypt, and far-flung South Korea. One can assemble the power pieces first, with the recognition that US government foreign policy is crafted, not by the US State Department, but by Wall Street banks, military arms manufacturers, high tech firms, pharmaceuticals, oil conglomerates, and other ancillary players in the US domestic corporate power system.

Israel is operating in many ways at the expense of Israeli taxpayers. Wages, building expenses and maintenance, and all the usual overhead costs associated with business/military operations are paid by Israeli taxpayers. US aid, grants, and gifts are used for equipment, munitions, and technologies, not operating expenses. Funds provided by the US are primarily for US corporate sales and net profits. Israeli taxpayers foot the bill for the overhead costs of their military.

Israel is a subsidiary, a brand-name logo to disguise US corporate imperialism. Israel is a neo-colonial outpost of the American Empire, operating as the US did when first establishing itself as a country on the North American continent -- killing and kicking out the indigenous peoples, stealing their land and resources, and profiting from the takeover. Israel is an outpost of US banking and other corporations, and it serves as a land-based aircraft carrier for thinly-disguised US imperial expansion.

 

$trategic Benefits of a 51st State

When Israel bombs Palestinians and maintains a police state in both the West Bank and Gaza, the US reaps two benefits: 1) US elites and their corporations reap huge profits, and 2) the violence of the Israeli state acts as the local Mafia boss for the Middle East, maintaining obedience to Israeli power, and thus indirectly (because the USA is funding the Israeli violence) by association, what Israel says is what the USA says, without the US having to take direct responsibility for the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Israel.

International power dynamics sets the US as near-global imperial power, funding client states such as Israel for the purpose of colonial expansion. It’s useful to conceive of Israel as the 51st state, united with the other 50 states comprising the USA. The Sun never sets on the American Empire. Israel is a covert branch of the US government, functioning as a massive military outpost but operating as a sovereign state in the Middle East, committing acts that would not be possible if they were “officially” committed by the US government. Per a July 2014 article in Haaretz, the “U.S. stores munitions in a classified location in Israel to which the Israeli army can request access - if Obama (or any current president)  approves…”
“The War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel program (WRSA-I, sometimes referred to as the War Reserve Stock Ammunition-Israel program), which is capped at $1.2 billion, has a stockpile of missiles, armored vehicles and artillery ammunition...”
These are US owned and managed weapons and equipment stockpiles not only for use by the US army if a need for them arises in the region, but also by the Israeli army in cases of emergency. [2]

In September 2014, a bipartisan bill passed Congress which upgraded Israel’s status to a “major strategic partner” and allowed for a $200 million increase in the weapons stored in Israel. They must either reimburse the US for the cost of weapons used or replace them by buying new supplies. Whether the US is reimbursed or the weapons replaced, it is the US arms manufacturers who benefit from the requirements. [3] A brief but more detailed summary about the origins and uses of this program can be found in an August 2014 article of Politico. [4] Although this program initially required Israel to obtain US presidential approval before accessing this “Fort Knox of Weaponry,” the Politico article explains how a mid-level Pentagon bureaucrat, Keith Rowe, repurposed the WRSA-I, fashioning it more for the benefit of the Israelis and circumventing presidential approval. It is more accurate to say that the WRSA-I was tweaked so that it better-served US MIC interests. Israel more regularly depletes the supplies which equates to higher sales and profits for US missile manufacturers like Raytheon and other corporations that supply a wide variety of military and technical equipment which makes up the stockpiles of the WRSA-I. One should also note that Israel is not alone in having a WRSA-I program. A similar arrangement exists between the US and South Korea.

 

Iron Dome Dollars

Another cash cow for the MIC is our client state’s Iron Dome project, a missile defense system allegedly capable of destroying incoming missiles targeting Israel. Whether or not it is truly effective is not important. It’s an opportunity for US arms manufacturers and technology corporations to make billions of dollars in profit. According to a Times of Israel article in May, 2015,
“Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee approved $474 million for Israel’s anti-missile systems. Included in the US-Israel cooperative missile defense funds is $41.4 million for the short-range Iron Dome rocket defense system, $165 million for David’s Sling, another short-range system, and the longer-range Arrow-3 missile defense programs, as well as $267.6 million in research and development funds.” That same article also states that the US State Department is set to approve a $1.9 billion arms sale package to Israel. It is important to note that “Israel receives $3 billion per year in US military aid, most of which must be spent on American-made arms.” [5] An earlier article appearing in Bloomberg’s business section confirms “The Israeli government has agreed to spend more than half the funds the Pentagon provides for its Iron Dome system in the U.S., bolstering the political appeal of the missile-defense system in America.” US corporation Raytheon, the world’s biggest missile manufacturer, is “under contract with Iron Dome’s Israeli maker, government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, to find suitable U.S. suppliers.” [6]

It is obvious that the primary purpose of our 51st state is to provide a huge market for the various industries of the MIC. The message to the public from mainstream media and Congress is that the US “gives” Israel billions of dollars of aid to benefit the Israeli state; their security and safety depend upon it. The truth is that the US gives taxpayer dollars to Israel which immediately return to the US in the form of corporate sales and profit, and the primary beneficiaries of this “aid” are US corporations of the MIC.

 

Making the 51st State Tow the Line

As more proof that it is US corporate interests controlling US foreign policy in Israel, eleven years ago Israel agreed to sell the Chinese technology to upgrade their drone aircraft. Page 21 of a Congressional Research Service study of US foreign aid to Israel tells what became of those sales, “As previously mentioned, Israel has become a global leader in arms exports and, over the last two decades, the United States and Israel have periodically disagreed over Israeli sales of sensitive U.S. and Israeli technologies to third party countries, most notably China. In 2005, the United States suspended Israel from participating in the development of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and imposed other restrictions in defense ties because of Israeli plans to upgrade Chinese Harpy Killer drone aircraft. Israel ultimately canceled the sale.” [7]

The following cannot be stated too often because it is not a message that is found in any media: the message of US corporate media to the public is that we must help Israel to defend itself, that US and Israeli interests are connected, that we must defend the real (only?) democracy in the MIddle East. However after examining who benefits from this relationship, one must conclude that what we “must” do is to support sales and profits for the US MIC at all costs. One must also conclude that it is not the Israelis who are in charge of the US/Israel relationship.

 

Follow the Money

Israel and AIPAC haven’t any real power although no one thinks to question how it could be possible for a country of 8.3 million to control 312+ million in the world’s dominant military and economic powerhouse, the US. Believers in this illusion of control cite money as the means by which the Israelis exert their “power” over the US. Per the Open Secrets Organization, AIPAC spent $3.1 million on lobbying Congress in 2014. [8] Very few candidates directly receive campaign contributions from AIPAC, less than $5,500 in 2014. However, the US defense industry contributed over $144 million to candidates in 2014 per Follow the Money Organization. [9] Lockheed Martin (manufacturer of the problem-plagued F-35 fighter jet) alone gave over $4 million directly to congressional candidates in 2014. [10] That is one million more than AIPAC spent lobbying Congress in the whole of 2014, and Lockheed Martin is only one of dozens of US military contractors lining the campaign coffers of our congressional “representatives.” General Electric coughed up $3.9 million for various candidates. [11] Honeywell International is known for its heating products but has a huge business in the aerospace and military industries, spreading out $5.2 million among various candidates. [12] Northrop Grumman, a military contractor specializing in “unmanned defense and surveillance systems” (drones), gave congressional candidates over $4 million in 2014. [13] AIPAC serves in deflecting attention away from the real centers of power. No one notices the vast amounts of money pouring into campaign coffers from US military corporate partners because AIPAC and its stage shows are guaranteed top billing in media.

Yes, it is indeed money that controls the US Congress, but not the paltry low millions of AIPAC. The US corporate sector, specifically US military contractors, gives 50 times more to Congress members than the campaign contributions and lobbying expenses combined of AIPAC.

However, it is true that AIPAC exerts a limited degree of control over the US Congress functioning as a cheap means to establish members’ obedience. They serve as a corporate sargeant-at-arms for the ruling class, ensuring that Congress keeps the MIC well-funded and highly profitable. AIPAC has been known to slander politicians during political campaigns, revealing inappropriate sexual liaisons and habits of candidates not fully supportive of the Zionist cause or branding them as either anti-American or anti-Semitic when possible. AIPAC campaigns against political candidates can be effective in securing their losses at the polls. The money that AIPAC spends in these endeavors is money that the corporate ruling class does not have to fork over to every individual candidate. It’s a cheap method to ensure a strong backing in Congress for US expenditures benefitting the client state and US military contractors.

The Primary Profiteers
It is the various corporations of the US Military-Industrial Complex that profit most from the client state. In Israel, the MIC has one of the most effective corporate trade shows in existence. Their latest arms, munitions, and technologies are dramatically demonstrated in very real combat expositions as Israel intermittently attacks Palestine in the Gaza Strip. After every Israeli military assault on Gaza, orders to US weapons manufacturers soar from dozens of interested buyers in governments worldwide. What better means of advertising than real-life demonstrations of the latest bombs or mortar rounds and launchers, the latest communications and surveillance technologies, the latest on-ground robots capable of searching around the corners of buildings for the “enemy?”

What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is not different substantively from how the US related to native Americans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, and too many other victims of US imperial aggression for profits. State power. Corporate profits.

It’s not only US corporations who profit from these arms sales, but also the arms manufacturers and military industries of many US allies in Europe and around the world. Even tiny Poland has military corporate interests along with the Netherlands. War and conflict is one of the biggest businesses in the world, and Israel supplies many of the profits for this enterprise.

Lockheed Martin  is one of the biggest, but only one of dozens of such major US corporations benefitting from the client state. Others include Raytheon, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, IBM, Caterpillar. For example, high tech Hewlett-Packard supplies computer software to the Israeli security forces, providing the development, maintenance, and installation of biometric technology used at dozens of Israeli checkpoints in the Gaza Strip and West Bank . [14]

Internationally, Accenture Ltd. of Ireland is a US military contractor servicing the US Defense Department’s needs for Electronic Health Records as a configuration specialist. [15] Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal (French for: National Factory of Herstal) in Belgium is a leading firearms manufacturer. They produce an array of hand guns, rifles, machine guns, and helicopter and aircraft weapon systems. Fabrique Nationale is a subsidiary of the Belgian Herstal Group, which also owns US Repeating Arms Company (Winchester) and Browning Arms Company. [16] There are plenty of “war bucks” to be made nationally as well as internationally. That fact probably accounts for the weak international response regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

 

Bankers Will Be Bankers

The banking industry also profits from Israel, supplying countless loans to various US military contractors for expansion, research and development, and product materials. Investment bankers compile investment portfolios for their wealthy clients consisting of shares in businesses that service the US military. The banking industry in Israel made huge sums of money servicing American clients who wished to evade income taxes, hide property, and launder money back to the US for their clients’ use. Israel, the unknown offshore banking facility for many wealthy Americans. Israel’s second largest bank, Bank Leumi, was a preferred facility for many of them. Sam Antar was the CFO of an electronics corporation in the US called Crazy Eddie. He was prosecuted for and convicted of securities fraud during 1991 - 1992. In exchange for a cushy sentence, he testified against family members. He also informed both the SEC and FBI about the offshore banking business flourishing in Israel. He gave those agencies this information in 1989, but they did not act upon it until late 2014, allowing this criminality to continue another twenty-five years.
Bank Leumi paid $400 million in fines, a mere slap on the wrist from a corporate standpoint, and has agreed to assist in investigating other Israeli banks. It will be interesting to see how or even if this investigation will be reported in US corporate media. [17, 18]

 

Israel, Corporate Money-Launderer

Israel is not only an investment bonanza for the wealthy ruling class, but also serves as a money-launderer for US taxpayer funds into corporate hands. The US government “gives” the client state X amount of foreign aid for military purposes. That aid is then immediately passed back to the US into corporate hands to purchase military equipment. US taxpayer dollars “indirectly” become sales and profit figures for US corporations using this method of laundering taxpayer money. The same is true when the US simply supplies such equipment to the client state. Taxpayer dollars are used to purchase the arms and munitions “given” by the US government to Israel. The billions that the US “gives” to Israel return to the US as corporate profit at the taxpayers’ expense. Corporations do not “give away” their merchandise. Someone pays for it, and in this case, it is the US government using taxpayer dollars to purchase military hardware and boosting corporate profits to unimaginable amounts.


Discipline For the Israelis

The Israeli government believes in its power over the US government and sometimes acts contrary to US dictates. It is said that no US president has ever defied the Israeli lobby, but that is not true. When the arrogance and “bad behavior” of the Israeli government become unacceptable to the real powers that be, the US government gives the Israelis a public spanking to remind them who is really in control of whom. George H.W. Bush withheld loan guarantees for three months from the Israeli government in 1991 due to their expansion of settlements in Palestinian territories, successfully forcing Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to attend the Madrid Peace Conference. George W. Bush, in 2003, threatened to withhold loan guarantees from the Israelis due to the expansion of their “security fence” into Palestinian territory. [19]

Prior to both Bush’s actions, Ronald Reagan punished the Israeli government several times. He withheld a few US vetoes at the UN Security Council, allowing resolutions against Israel to be passed condemning it, placing their nuclear facilities under international supervision, and demanding that they pay reparations for the damage they had wrought. He also placed an embargo against US sales of F-16 fighter jets to Israel because they had used them for something other than self-defense. Later, the embargo was lifted, but the message that the Israelis had stepped beyond the boundaries allowed to the client state had been delivered and gruffly received. Reagan also sold a large amount of military hardware to Saudi Arabia to which the Israelis strongly objected at the time. [20]

 

Policy Must Benefit Corporate Over Israeli Interests

There are times that US policy goes against Israeli interests, times which are not related to a US need to chastise the client state, but instead are based on US corporate interests. During the Reagan administration from 1985 - 1987, Dov Zakheim served as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Planning and Resources in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy). For those believing the “Israel Controls the US myth,” it is important to reveal that Zakheim is an Orthodox Jew and an ordained rabbi. In early 1980, the Israeli government approved plans for an Israeli designed and manufactured fighter jet called the IAI Lavi (IAI being the corporation behind the fighter jet, Israel Aerospace Industries). IAI had decided to use engines made by the US corporation, Pratt and Whitney, because they had a working relationship with Bet Shemesh engine plant in Israel. Pratt and Whitney had agreed to co-produce the engines enabling much of the production to be done domestically in Israel. The first prototype of the plane was successfully tested in December 1986. Three months later, an improved second prototype was also successfully tested. However, soon after these test flights, Dov Zakheim began pushing for Israel to cancel plans for the Lavi and arguing that they should not produce an aircraft that would compete with the US F-16 fighter jet. He also claimed that buying jets from the US would be more efficient and less costly for the Israeli government. He was so convincing that many of the top command in the Israeli Defense Forces agreed, leading to a vote in the Israeli cabinet to decide whether or not to cancel the project. It was cancelled in favor of buying F-16s. Part of the problem with the Lavi project was a lack of financing. Unlike US military aid, the Israeli government was footing the bill for the cost of the jets instead of getting a free ride at US taxpayers’ expense. But worse, from the US corporate point of view, was the fact that General Dynamics (later bought by Lockheed in 1993 which merged with Martin in 1995, thus the current Lockheed Martin Corporation) would be excluded from profiting off of its F-16 were the Israelis to manufacture their own fighter planes in large quantities. The Israeli Air Force was due for an upgrade in 1987, and US corporations wanted to service their needs. Pratt and Whitney certainly wasn’t upset by the cancellation of the Lavi even though they were set to profit by co-producing the engines with Bet Shemesh. Pratt and Whitney made and still makes the engines for the F-16. Not having to co-produce them with another business meant all the profit remained in their hands. Shortly after the Lavi project was cancelled, the Israeli government ordered ninety F-16Cs. Today, the only country with more F-16s than Israel is the US.

Dov Zakheim was reviled by the Israeli press and government and much of the public in Israel. Israeli media had been touting the IAI Lavi as an icon of national pride. Yitzhak Shamir, much of the Knesset, and the IDF command who supported the Lavi felt humiliated when the Israeli cabinet voted (12-11) to discontinue the project. The vote to cancel the Lavi is evidence that US corporate interests control the Israelis: they can get enough support in the Israeli government to cancel an icon of national pride. But instead of placing the blame on the real corporate culprits, the Israelis used Dov Zakheim as their scapegoat and allowed the real source of US corporate power to remain concealed. By blaming one man instead of the US corporate government, the Israelis could cling to the illusion that they controlled the US government. They had simply been betrayed by own of their own; they were victims of Dov Zakheim.

Zakheim is a glaring example of the revolving door between government and industry. He began his career in the Defense Department in 1981 serving in various positions before being tapped as Reagan’s Deputy Under Secretary of Defense. He left government in late 1987 (unknown if it was related to his being declared an enemy by the Israelis) and promptly became CEO of SPC International, a subsidiary of Systems Planning Corporation, a high-tech analytical business. While being their CEO, he also served as a consultant to the Secretary of Defense’s office, sat on many Department of Defense panels, was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the US Naval Institute. He was also an adjunct scholar for the Heritage Foundation. Zakheim has also been a consultant for McDonnell Douglas Corporation, on the advisory board of Northrop Grumman, and a former vice-president at Booz Allen Hamilton, all major US military contractors. One might think the US government is controlled by group of corporations serving the MIC rather than the Israelis when examining the evidence. [21]

The public US presidential spankings of Israel make headlines for a day or two, then quietly fade from view and the collective memory of media and the general public. To remember such incidents would create cracks in the Israeli Illusion that the plutocrats will not allow. Instances such as the cancellation of the Lavi fighter jet are rare. Although the story was reported in US media, it was not a headline and did not linger in the news. That, too, was instrumental in keeping corporate power concealed from the public. The subject briefly appeared in US media on the 25th anniversary of the cancellation, but gained no notice by the public.

 

The Distraction of Scripted Stage Shows

The incidents the public is encouraged to remember are the endless stage shows titillatingly presented to us by the media outlets of the wealthy US ruling class. Uniform plots and performances are easy to achieve because six corporations control 90% of US media. [22, 23] The same illusions are repeated in all sources. The assumption of the public is that if all sources are reporting the same stories or more appropriately, broadcasting the same show, then what is being viewed is real. The performances of the various politician-actors are highly convincing and realistic because so many of them believe the roles they play. Netanyahu believes he, acting as Prime Minister of Israel, controls the US government because this is the message presented by US corporate media as well as alternative and international media.

The US-Iran nuclear agreement has provided the basic plot for the current TV-like dramas unfolding weekly before our eyes. One of the strangest performances was recently given by John Kerry, US Secretary of State. If one watched his two opposing performances, on one day, 2 March 2015, he appeared to be afflicted by either a split personality or bipolar disorder. He was the quintessential American Good Cop/Bad Cop - a police interrogation/intimidation tactic normally carried out by two policemen, one playing the role of the “good cop” who feigns empathy with the suspect being questioned and presents himself as a friend, and the other playing the role of the “bad cop” who threatens and sometimes physically attacks the suspect. John Kerry played both roles in the drama presented to us in March. He first held a news conference in which he uttered thinly-veiled threats against Netanyahu if he dared to leak details concerning the specifics of the US/Iran nuclear negotiations. Later the same day, he appeared before the UN where he ardently defended Israel against what he called biased attacks against them in UN reports critical of Netanyahu’s military excursions against Palestine. [24, 25]
These shows made for excellent drama, but the good cop/bad cop performance was ignored by media. There were no political analyses of the verbal attacks against Israel versus the praise heaped upon them by John Kerry.

President Obama has also been center stage for many recent performances. Numerous articles in US and Israeli press have lamented the “tension” between Obama and Netanyahu, many speculating that Netanyahu’s blatant interference in US politics could be cause for many US congressmen to be labeled as treasonous, supporting the needs of a foreign government over the needs and safety of the USA. Some sources warned that this tension would result in the Democratic Party abandoning the Israeli cause. All of this political posturing is obvious fakery if one understands the real US/Israel relationship. There is no possibility of a weakening of support for Israel in the US Congress because such real tension would negatively affect the profit margins of too many US corporations doing business with the MIC. It’s also important to note the real reason behind AIPAC’s media show against a US/Iranian nuclear agreement. The highly hyped script was centered on Israel’s safety, what a danger an agreement would present to the people of Israel. AIPAC’s real concern was about losing their biggest lobbying and fundraising tool - fear of “the bomb” from Iran. [26]

 

The Israelis Made Us Do It
Israel, the client state, is not solely a financial pot of gold for the wealthy and their corporations. Israel is cover for the US government. Israel is a Euro-American colonial project existing only because it is a front for US imperialism. It is an effective imperial tool using the Israeli government as a proxy agent for US imperialism. This strategic ploy gives political cover for US imperial expansion, allowing the US to deny responsibility for Israeli war crimes. “The Israelis made us do it” is an illusion bought by all media and spread throughout the world and accepted as fact. However, when one dares to follow the money -- the vast sums of at play in this illusion, that “fact” becomes an intentionally manufactured fiction by the wealthy plutocrats who really control the US government and desire to keep Israel’s client state status hidden. The whole facade allows the rich and their influence to hide behind the Israeli Illusion.

The US benefits from the illusion by presenting Israel as an independent state. The US avoids taking responsibility for Israeli war crimes and illegal territorial expansion, and the US benefits by the cover provided by Israel as US corporations rush in to expand operations inside illegally occupied territories.

 

Israel and Syria: Policy & Power Playgrounds

In examining a portion of Israeli/Syrian history, one can see how Israel is used by the US to accomplish small feats that could not be done openly under the banner of the US government. The high plateau region of the Golan Heights offered much better protection for our client state than the UN designated border with Syria. The Six Day War launched by Israel in 1967 saw the Israelis capturing the Golan Heights from Syria. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. To date, this territory is not internationally recognized as being part of Israel although it is occupied by them, and Israeli law is administered there. Tens of thousands of Syrian Druze have been displaced by Israeli “settlers.” [27]

In 1982, Hafez al-Assad, president of Syria from 1971 - 2000 and father of the current president Bashar al-Assad, “assisted” the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and the Phalange (a predominantly Lebanese Christian right-wing party in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Palestinian Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon) by blocking the Syrian border so that the refugees under attack could not escape. Estimates vary between 750 - 3500 Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Shiites were massacred during this attack. Prior to this tragedy, Hafez al-Assad had also “assisted” in Palestinian deaths during Jordan’s “Black September.” [28]

More recently, in September 2007, Israel bombed and destroyed a suspected Syrian nuclear facility, suffering no consequences. Bashar al-Assad even helped the Israelis cover up the attack, claiming it never happened. Most Syrians believed al-Assad’s denials broadcast by state media. [29]

Seizure of foreign territory by force and its eventual annexation, the massacre of thousands of Palestinian refugees and Shiites, destruction of a foreign nuclear facility - these are all things that could never have been accomplished under the banner of the US government, but easily carried out by the client state.

 

The Golan Heights Oil and Water Bonanza

Currently, the Golan Heights is set to bring big rewards to both Israeli and US corporate energy interests. In April 2013, Afek Oil obtained a drilling license in the Golan Heights. To date, they have three drilling sites (Ness-3, Ness-5, Ness-6). The three-year drilling program allows Afek Oil to explore and drill for oil at up to ten sites in the Golan. Due to delays by protests from environmental groups, the actual drilling did not begin until February 2015. The presence of a huge supply of oil was just confirmed October 7, 2015. [30]

Afek Oil and Gas (as well as a second Israeli energy company IEI, Israeli Energy Initiatives) both have as their parent company Genie Israel. Per The Times of Israel, “Genie Energy, which is chaired by Howard Jonas, has some heavyweight investors. Former US vice president Dick Cheney, Michael Steinhardt, Jacob Rothschild, and Rupert Murdoch are all reportedly connected to the company. It also has connections within the Israeli political establishment: The chairman of Genie Israel is Effie Eitam, a former member of the Knesset who also served as the minister of national infrastructures in 2002-2003.” [31]

Not only does the discovery of billions of barrels of oil in the Golan Heights probably guarantee the Israelis a source for their oil needs (they consume 270,000 barrels a day per the above referenced Globes article), but also the Golan Heights is a major natural resource for fresh water that feeds the Jordan River, providing a third of Israel’s water needs. Fresh water sources are scarce in this arid region. It would be difficult for the Israelis to survive without control of this freshwater source in this occupied territory. Water is the new oil, a rapidly diminishing resource as it becomes a source of privatized, corporate profit. The near future will bring further human conflicts over water. [32, 33, 34]

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement
Until such time that the Us-Israeli relationship no longer benefits the wealthy elite of the US, it will remain unchanged. The BDS Movement began in Palestine in 2005. The movement seeks to encourage boycotts of corporations that benefit from the illegal occupation of Palestine, divestment from investments in such companies, and sanctions against the state of Israel. The BDS movement has succeeded at various colleges, resulting in some of these institutions removing prominent companies from their investment portfolios. Soda Stream closed its factory in the West Bank, and Veolia, a multinational infrastructure company, has pulled out of Israel completely. [35, 36]

Foreign investments in Israel dropped 15% in 2014 as compared to 2013. The BDS Movement and Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, are credited as the main reasons for this drop. [37] Decreasing investment in Israel plus boycotts of many corporations seen as aiding the illegal occupation hold out the possibility that ties with Israel will hurt corporate profits of many US and international businesses. Hewlett-Packard, Volvo, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Ahava Cosmetics, and Eden Springs bottled water are only a few corporations being targeted by BDS supporters. Academic and cultural boycotts have also been called for, resulting in several popular bands and musicians cancelling shows in Israel.[38] As Israel steadily becomes an international pariah, association with our client state will become a negative instead of a positive for the wealthy elite who profit from Israel today.

 

Conclusion

The material presented in this paper is offered as partial evidence for the following claims:

●     Money is power. Religion, human rights, law, ethics, state sovereignty, and the will of the people are all subordinate to the power of the gun. The rich own and control most of the guns. The state, and the corporations the state protects, exist only by violence and the constant threat of violence.

●     Money rents parliamentary government offices for politicians who represent the interests of the people  providing the rent money. This process is called a democratic election, but the electoral system is normalized, legalized bribery.

●     Money rents government policies through legalized lobbying and election campaign funding, otherwise known as unethical influence peddling by elected officials.

●     Money buys ownership of the mass media, and thus the rich implement social controls, controlling public opinion by controlling the messages emanating from the mass media. The mass media function under a business model, dependent upon advertising for existence. Media do not publish facts or opinions which offend the people and corporations paying the media bills. [39] The state is a neutral agent bent toward obedience to the narrow interests of the rich because of the money-political power of the rich. Parliamentary governments are open to power struggles among factions of the ruling class as they engage in pitched battles over state policy. The people have minimal power to influence state policy.

●     All this is well known, but too often, the corporate media intentionally get lost in petty personality conflicts and celebrity cults, with emphasis on speculating upon what elected officials might be thinking. What elected officials are thinking doesn’t matter although media create the illusion that it does matter so that we don’t ask about what is important. What the managers of Lockheed-Martin and Hewlett-Packard are thinking does matter, but rarely reported. The individual politician has only tangential power to influence government policies. The wealthy individual has only tangential influence on how the money-chasing social system works. All substantive state and corporate policies and actions serve the interests of the money system, as wealthy individuals choose to opportunistically participate in the money system, or choose not to do so. Neither the political class, the ruling-class rich, nor does the educated class of professional servants of power, act as individuals. The socio-economic system shapes the men and women to meet the constraints of the institutions and their power hierarchies based upon the illusion of money. -- The rules of the game reward the winners of the money-chasing game. Others are either passive losers, or actively choose to not participate, relegated to the margins of formal society.  Increased power and profits are the tokens of cultural success distributed by the rules of the socio-economic game.

The money-power system operates globally. For example,

what happens to Syria will not likely be decided by Syrians, but more likely decided by the complex power struggle for profits and control of natural resources by a few capitalists.

Then it follows that the state of Israel has little or no power because they have little or no independent money. We show the money-power relationships between the USA and Israel in the following chart at the end of this essay. All the personal drama we witness in the mass media are empty theatrics.

To grasp the value of the drama is to observe that the arm-waving, flailing about on camera, and the boasting is mere scripted bluff and bluster. The actual actions of the Israeli government serve the US imperial neocolonial control. The Israeli government, as is often claimed, does not harm US interests. US interests are the expansion of state power for the purpose of expanding the profits of US transnational corporations, as we have documented here.

With respect to the claim that AIPAC tells the US government what to do, the evidence presented above indicates that AIPAC serves the interests of the state of Israel, and that furthermore, the state of Israel serves the colonial interests of the USA Empire. As the Israeli state kills Palestinians and steals their land, all of this violence is consistent with USA government interests, often mislabeled, US national interests. USA government interests are dictated by USA corporate interests; not representing the interests of the people. AIPAC is a cheerleader for Team USA as the USA explicitly intends to act as an agent of US-based transnational oil companies in their quest to control Middle East oil. The state of Israel functions as a heavily-armed colonial outpost of the US corporate empire. AIPAC is put there to function as a magnet deflecting attention away from the centers of real power which set US foreign policy: transnational corporations.

The US government tolerates much verbal abuse from the agents of the Israeli government because the drama provides a convenient public cover presented in the mass media, presenting the Israeli government as if it were controlling the US Congress and President. Allowing the Israeli government to act, in the mass media, as if it were controlling US foreign policy creates a clever cover for the brutality of US corporate theft of natural resources and labor from within neocolonial states which possess some local autonomy. Murder and theft are the tools of imperial expansion. When all eyes are on the Prime Minister of Israel, a convenient distraction is employed to divert attention away from the flow of huge fortunes traversing the circuitous path from American taxpayer’s pocket, through the US government treasury, through US military-industrial contracting corporations, to the pockets of the rich investors. USA foreign policy and foreign aid are labels for taxpayer subsidies for the rich, combined with imperial expansions of US economic domination of, and theft from, distant peoples. The so-called “US national interest” is state domination of the planet for the purpose of US corporate domination of labor and natural resources, for the purpose of winning the game of accumulation of wealth: astounding profits for the few; unspeakable human suffering for the many.

Behind the dramatic scripted TV acting of elected officials are deadly armaments, including nuclear weapons, but the US government doesn’t care. If we hold on to any single truth about contemporary international affairs is that the talking heads on TV have little connection to the realities of either the potential for global nuclear war, or global ecosystem collapse. Corporations are driven by quarterly profits. States are driven by the melding of the command from the corporations to increase quarterly profits, and the interest of the state itself in imperial powers, which are means to increase quarterly profits. What happens to the working class or the planet is given much rhetorical attention, but no substance. All states are failed states. The global chase for dollars is a social fiction we could discard by consensus, but the global chase for oil is an existential crisis resulting in the tragedy of the deaths of individuals fighting over pipelines, and the planet dying from the deadly atmospheric poisoning, the product of the capitalist economic engines of industrial production for profit, not need.

Politicians, and the mass media direct our attention towards the personalities of heads-of-states and the diplomatic corps. Yet, a cursory examination of history indicates that people come and go--- presidents, prime ministers, priests, and potentates are here today, gone tomorrow-- while the power system remains stable for centuries. USA foreign policy today is no different than it was 200 years ago, with the notation that the names and localities of imperial aggression have changed. These verifiable conditions lead us to examine the dynamics of hierarchical power and the money system.  Replacing the sociopaths occupying the slots at the top of the corporate-state system will achieve nothing. Hoping for more humane heads-of-state and corporate management will get us nowhere. We humans are functional units of cultural systems; few of us challenging the system of dollar-rewards. If we are to have any chance of surviving this century, it will be because we address the reward system inherent in the money-chasing game which utilizes a mystifying fiction called money. The mystification of US and Israeli relations is a product of the tangle of mutually-convenient myths of corporate, state, client state, and colonial power.

Power is displayed variably. The center of power in a monarchy is prominently on public display as manifested in the highly-visible king [40]. The center of power in a parliamentary democracy is hidden, made invisible by the dutiful servants of power. School teachers, journalists, academics, writers, pundits, entertainers, and religious authorities are unified in their functional commonality. They tacitly agree to a unified silence. David Graeber offers an accurate condensation: “Indeed, the most powerful way to represent power has always been to refuse to represent it. […] the way to show that something is truly powerful is to hide it, to render it invisible, ineffable, unknowable, utterly featureless and abstract.”

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We thank Dominique Ford for skillful graphic assistance with the single figure accompanying this article.

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References Cited

[1] http://www.israellobby.org/default.asp

[2]http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.605445

[3]http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/21874/us-senate-upgrades-israels-status-major-strategic-partner/

[4]http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/best-friends-dont-have-to-ask-110036

[5]http://www.timesofisrael.com/pentagon-approves-massive-1-9-billion-arms-sale-to-israel/

[6]http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-07-16/why-more-of-israels-iron-dome-will-be-made-in-the-u-dot-s-dot-a

[7]http://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[8]http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2015/03/aipac-posts-biggest-lobbying-year-in-2014-as-netanyahu-goes-to-congress/

[9]http://www.followthemoney.org/industry-influence

[10]http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=d000000104

[11]http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?cycle=2014&id=D000000125

[12]http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?cycle=2014&type=P&id=D000000334

[13]http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?strID=C00088591&cycle=2014

[14]http://www.whoprofits.org/company/hewlett-packard-hp

[15]http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150729/NEWS/150729824

[16]http://www.fnherstal.com/index.php?id=652

[17]http://www.cnbc.com/2015/02/19/finally-the-us-is-busting-israeli-banks-commentary.html

[18]http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sam-antar-the-cfo-behind-the-crazy-eddies-fraud-2014-07-29

[19]http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/01/11/76731/mitchell-israel-loan-guarentee/

[20]http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/if-obama-treated-israel-like-reagan-did-he-d-be-impeached-1.400542

[21]http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Zakheim_Dov

[22]http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6

[23]http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/26/business/a-21st-century-fox-time-warner-merger-would-narrow-already-dwindling-competition.html?_r=1

[24]http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kerry-warns-against-details-iran-nuclear-deal-netanyahu-speech-congress/

[25]http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.644960

[26]http://lobelog.com/former-aipac-official-on-irans-importance-to-aipac/

[27]http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/1214.html#article

[28]https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2000/06/assa-j16.html

[29]http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/09/17/the-silent-strike

[30]http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-huge-oil-discovery-on-golan-heights-1001071698

[31]http://www.timesofisrael.com/israels-oil-wars-shift-to-the-golan-heights/

[32]http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14724842

[33]http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/blogs/earthmatters/2014/11/05/earths-disapearing-groundwater/

[34]http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/jul/27/water-nestle-drink-charge-privatize-companies-stocks

[35]http://www.mintpressnews.com/10-years-later-israel-under-pressure-from-successful-boycott-movement/207332/

[36]http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=14605

[37]http://europe.newsweek.com/foreign-investment-israel-slashed-by-half-329269

[38]http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/consumer-boycott

[39] Herman, Edward S., and Noam Chomsky. 1988. “Manufacturing consent: the political economy of the mass media.” New York: Pantheon Books.

[40] David Graeber, and Foucault quoted therein. David Graeber. 2015. “Dickheads: The paradox of the necktie resolved.” The Baffler number 27.

 

(See diagram below)

1. The USA military-industrial complex profit machine, international version

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Sanders is Israel's Best Friend in 2016

Rabbi Michael Lerner

By Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun Magazine


I wasn't surprised when the NY Times on May 26th made a front page story out of the alleged damage Senator Bernie Sanders was doing to the Democratic Party by placing among his 5 representatives on the Democratic Party's Platform committee a few people who might support Sanders' view that the US needs to be "more even-handed" in the Israel/Palestine struggle.

The New York Times has consistently turned its news pages into the loudest cheerleader for Hillary Clinton's bid for the nomination. If mentioned at all, they bury deep in their paper, Bernie Sanders' primary wins and the many polls that indicate he'd be more likely to win against Trump than Hillary. So it's no surprise that when Bernie won permission to appoint 5 of the 15 members of the Platform Committee of the Democratic Party Convention, the Times focused the story on the possibility that 2 of these appointees, James Zogby and Cornel West, would turn the convention into a debate about US policy towards Israel, and thereby weaken Hillary's capacity to fight off Trump in the general election. There was nothing in the story to confirm that these appointees had any such intention, but that didn't keep the N.Y. Times from making this front page story a way to once again stir worries that Bernie's vigorous pursuit of the nomination (as Hillary Clinton herself had done in 2008 against Obama even after it was clear she would not win the nomination) was going to hurt Hillary's chances in the Fall election--thus creating the story should Hillary lose that it was really all the fault of that socialist Jew from Vermont!

The Times ignored the important Bernie appointments of Congressman Keith Ellison, a leader of the Congress' Progressive Caucus, a supporter of social justice for middle income people and the poor, universal healthcare and a $15 minimum wage, and an opponent of Obama's use of drones, Rebecca Parker, vice chair of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington State, who is likely to emphasize rights for indigenous peoples and criminal justice reform, and Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org who is likely to push for a tax on carbons and other aggressive policies to save the planet's life-support system. To turn the discussion solely to Israel, and suggest that somehow Sanders' very mild call for an even-handed policy that took into account the needs of the Palestinian people is a threat to Israel's existence is irresponsible and ludicrous.

As if not to be undone by the Times, Jane Eisner, editor of the center/right Jewish Forward magazine, issued a statement today that insisted that Bernie unveil a full plan for how to achieve peace in Israel and Palestine. Hillary has given 100% unconditional support to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Eisner knows that some of her readers might have doubts about the wisdom of pursuing Obama's legacy, which only recently included a ten-year military aid package (larger than any the U.S. has ever given to any country). This agreement was reached even after Netanyahu rejected every attempt by the US and Western countries to push him to stop expanding West Bank settlements and end the Occupation. Why does Eisner not call on Hillary to similarly state what her full plan is for achieving peace?

Eisner worries about a recent Pew poll which shows that the share of liberal Democrats who side more with Palestinians than with Israel has nearly doubled since 2014 -- to 40% from 21% -- and is higher than at any point dating back to 2001. Only 30% of liberals say they side more with Israelis. But she misses what most center/right apologists for Israel always ignore: that the decreasing support for Israel among liberals is not a product of some irrational hatred of Jews, but rather of the growing recognition that Israel's oppressive policies toward Palestinians (soon to enter its 49th anniversary of the Occupation) and its denial to them of the same rights for self-determination that we Jews rightly fought for ourselves in creating the State of Israel, is generating a worldwide anger at the Jewish people that is bad for Israel and bad for Jews everywhere.

We at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives want  Israel to achieve lasting security and to do so in a way consistent with  the Jewish value articulated frequently in the Torah: "You shall love the Stranger/Other, and remember that you were strangers/others in the land of Egypt." In this respect, Bernie is closer to this traditional Jewish value than any of the other candidates, and his approach is far better for the Jewish people and for the future security of the State of Israel. I lay out how that can happen in my 2012 book Embracing Israel and Palestine (which you can order at www.tikkun.org/eip ).

The Netanyahu government may be able to hold on by force and by endlessly scaring the Israeli people, aided by Netanyahu's defacto best ally, Hamas, which obligingly digs tunnels or sends bombs to Israel so as to head off any support the Israeli peace movement and the moderates of the Palestinian Authority might be gaining.

Pushing Israel to negotiate a sustainable peace arrangement that would grant Palestinians an economically and politically viable state is the only path toward a sustainable peace, and Sanders' rather temperate remarks indicate a willingness to push both Israel and Palestine in this direction. 23 years ago when Hillary Clinton invited me to the White House and told me that she agreed with Tikkun magazine's stance in support of the Israeli peace movement, she too seemed to be willing to push for a stronger stance by the U.S. in opposing Israel's harsh occupation of the West Bank and subjugating 2.5 million Palestinians. Sad to see how far she has moved from that position.

Tikkun and our education arm the Network of Spiritual Progressives are non-profits that do not endorse any candidate.

And if we did endorse, like most progressives we'd have many other issues to consider besides a candidate's stand on Israel/Palestine.

Here are some of our priorities: Saving the earth's life-support system, switching the U.S. foreign policy from a strategy to achieve "homeland security" through military, economic, cultural and diplomatic domination of the world to a strategy of generosity as provided in our proposed Global Marshall Plan www.tikkun.org/gmp (introduced into Congress by Keith Ellison), a guaranteed living wage (not a "minimum wage") and guaranteed minimum income even for the unemployed and the retired,  and guaranteed health care for all, public funding of all state and federal elections and all other sources of money banned, and requiring corporations with incomes over $50 million/yr to prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility every five years (see our ESRA--Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at www.tikkun.org/esra) .  These are the kinds of visionary policies spiritual progressives want to see.

Our central goal:  a New Bottom Line to judge corporations, government policies, our education system, our legal system and our economic system as rational, productive and efficient not only to the extent that they maximize money and power (the OLD Bottom Line) but also to the extent that they maximize love and caring, kindness and generosity, environmental and ethical responsibility, and enhance our capacities to respond to others as embodiments of the sacred and respond to the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement. This is what spiritual progressives would be seeking were we to evolve into being a political party or a faction within an existing political party (but we are neither of those at the moment).

So saying Bernie is Israel's best friend in the 2016 election is not meant to be an  endorsement. It's just meant to speak the obvious truth that Israel and the Jewish people would benefit greatly if some US political leaders were willing to push Israel to negotiate a peace agreement that would work for both Israel and Palestine.

I've presented the outline of what that peace agreement would look like in my 2012 book Embracing Israel and Palestine (available at www.tikkun.org/eip).

Bernie appears to be one of the very few politicians in the U.S. willing to state publicly that he wants to change the one-sided policy that pretends to be pro-Israel but actually is in fact destructive to the best interests of Israel and the Jewish people. As someone who wishes Israel to be strong and secure, I have to acknowledge this fact. And his appointment to the Platform committee of Cornel West, Jim Zogby and Congressional Representative Keith Ellison should bring Sanders praise for using his moment of fame to support his ideals (not just advance himself as so many other politicians might have chosen to do).

So we will not remain silent when politicians and some Jewish establishment figures play fast and loose with Israel's future and the well-being of the Jewish people globally, in order to gain short term electoral advantage for their preferred candidates or donations for their organizations.
--  Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in Berkeley, Ca. and author of 11 books, including the national best seller The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right(HarperÇollins, 2006), and most recently Embracing Israel and Palestine. Tikkun magazine is winner of the "Best Magazine of the Year" in both 2014 and 2015 from the mainstream media's  Religion Newswriters Association.

Rabbi Lerner invites you to join the Network of Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressives.org/join, and then to get active in spreading a revolutionary consciousness for replacing the globalization of selfishness and materialism (a.k.a. global capitalism) with the globalization of generosity and bulding The Caring Society: Caring for Each Other and Caring For the Earth. When you join, you get a free subscription to Tikkun magazine www.tikkun.org.  To become involved with us, email Cat@spiritualprogressives.org. To contact Rabbi Lerner:  rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com
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3 Years Of Painful Cuts Sets Markets Up For Serious Supply Crunch

Nick Cunningham

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

Total global oil production could decline for the next several years in a row as scarce new sources of supply come online.

According to data from Rystad Energy, overall global oil output will fall this year as natural depletion overwhelms all new sources of supply. But the deficit will only widen in the years ahead due to the dramatic scaling back in spending on new exploration and development.

Statoil says that global capex is set to fall for two years in a row, and is on track to fall for a third year in 2017 as more spending cuts are likely. "For the first time in history, we've seen cutting of capex two years in a row and potentially we risk a third year as well for 2017," Statoil's Chief Financial Officer Hans Jakob Hegge told Bloomberg in a recent interview. "It might be that we see quite a dramatic reduction in replacing the capacity and of course that will have an impact, eventually, on price."

Oil companies are making painful cuts to spending, which will translate into much lower production than expected in the years ahead.

Although markets have dealt with the supply overhang for the better part of two years, the surplus could flip to a deficit as early as this year, as declines exceed new sources of production by a few hundred thousand barrels per day. That widens to more than a million barrels per day in both 2017 and 2018. To be sure, there are extremely large volumes of oil sitting in storage, which will take a few years to work through. That will prevent any short-term price spike even if depletion surpasses new production. But Statoil's CFO said the world could start to see supply problems by 2020.

According to a separate report from SAFE, a Washington-based think tank, the oil industry has cut somewhere around $225 billion in capex in 2015 and 2016, which will lead to global supplies 4 million barrels per day lower in 2018-2020, compared to what market analysts expected as of 2014.

Of course, these figures are not inevitable. A sharp rise in oil prices would spur new investment and new drilling. In other words, deficits create profit opportunities for drillers, ushering in new supplies. The price acts as a self-correcting mechanism.

The problem is that, unlike many other industries, resource extraction is extremely volatile, with supply responses very delayed. Many oil projects, after all, take years to develop. Supply overshot demand, crashed prices, and in response, supplies will undershoot demand in the next few years. The industry has always suffered from booms and busts, and there is little reason to think that it will change, at least in the short run.

But we tend to have a myopic view on what to expect. When oil prices go up, people buy fuel efficient cars. When they go down, SUVs are back in style. When the world is dealing with too much supply, market watchers predict oil prices will stay low for years to come. If spot oil prices suddenly rise, forecasts are revised sharply upwards.

Here's another example: the WSJ reports that oil prices are entering a "sweet spot," a range between $50 and $60 per barrel that could finally be good for the global economy – low enough to provide consumers with a bit of a stimulus, but high enough to keep the industry and capital spending afloat. Also, crude at $50, as opposed to $30, can provide a bit of inflation to the deflation-beset economies in Europe and Japan. "Crude between $50 and $60 would be the absolute sweet spot," Mark Watkins, regional investment manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, told the WSJ. "Everybody wins there."

That is all well and good, but who expects oil to trade between $50 and $60 for any lengthy period of time? If there is one thing that we have learned over the past two years, it is that nobody has a crystal ball on prices. And if the industry indeed cuts capex for three consecutive years, at a time when demand continues to rise, the one thing we can be sure of is more volatility.

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Intel Vets Urge Fast Report on Clinton’s Emails

Ray McGovern

By Ray McGovern. This article was first published on Consortium News.

A group of U.S. intelligence veterans is calling on President Obama to expedite the FBI review of former Secretary of State Clinton’s alleged email security violations so the public can assess this issue in a timely fashion.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Those “Damn Emails” – “Really a Concern”

Introduction

Last Wednesday Robert Gates, CIA Director under President Bush-41 and Defense Secretary under President Bush-43, publicly commented that Secretary Hillary Clinton’s “whole email thing … is really a concern in terms of her judgment,” adding, “I don’t know what originally prompted her to think that was a good idea.”

What originally prompted her does not matter. As your Secretary of State and your subordinate, she willfully violated laws designed to protect classified information from unauthorized disclosure. It may be somewhat difficult for those not as immersed in national security matters as we have been to appreciate the seriousness of the offense, including the harm done in compromising some of the most sensitive U.S. programs and activities. This is why we write.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Pundits and others are playing down the harm. A charitable interpretation is that they have no way to gauge what it means to expose so much to so many. We do know, and our overriding concern is to protect the national security of our country from further harm. It would be a huge help toward this end, if you would order Attorney General Loretta Lynch to instruct the FBI to stop slow-walking the email investigation and release its findings promptly.

If you choose, instead, to give precedence to politics over national security, the American people will be deprived of timely appreciation of the gravity of the harm done; national security officials who do follow the rules will be scandalized; FBI investigators will conclude that that their job is more political than professional; and the noxious impression will grow that powerful people cannot be held accountable when they break the law. Worse: if the results of the FBI investigation remain under lock and key, dangerous pressures are likely to be exerted on the most senior U.S. officials by those who have the key – as we explain below.

* * *

We the undersigned Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have spent 400 years working with classified information – up to and including TOP SECRET, Codeword, and Special Access Programs (SAP). Given that experience, we believe that much of the commentary on the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton email controversy has been misplaced, focusing on extraneous issues having little or nothing to do with the overriding imperative to protect classified information.

As intelligence, military, and foreign service professionals, we are highly aware not only of that compelling need, but also of the accompanying necessity to hold accountable those whose actions compromise – whether for reasons of convenience or espionage – sensitive operations, programs and persons. In addition, we know that successful mutual cooperation with foreign intelligence services depends largely on what they see as our ability to keep secrets secret.

Background

Last August, Secretary Clinton handed over her private email server to the FBI, five months after she acknowledged she had used it for work-related emails as Secretary of State. She admitted to having deleted about 31,000 emails she described as personal. Media reports last fall, however, indicated that the FBI was able to recover the personal emails, and was reviewing them, as well as the 30,000 others she had described as work-related.

In January, the Department of State announced that, of the 30,000 work-related emails, at least 1,340 contained classified material. The Department retroactively classified 22 of those TOP SECRET and prevented their release. Among the 22 were some that, according to media reports, included information on highly sensitive Special Access Programs (SAP).

The White House has said it will do nothing to impede the FBI investigation and possible filing of charges against Clinton, if the facts should warrant that kind of action. Inasmuch as the outcome of the investigation is bound to have major political consequences, such White House assurances stretch credulity.

By all indications, the FBI is slow-walking the investigation and mainstream media are soft-pedaling the issue. As things now stand, most Americans remain unaware of the import of this industrial-scale compromise of very sensitive national security information in Secretary Clinton’s emails.

Our concern mounted in January when the Inspector General of the intelligence community wrote to the chairs of the congressional intelligence committees that he had received from one of the intelligence agencies two “sworn declarations” asserting that Secretary Clinton’s emails contained not only CONFIDENTIAL and SECRET information, but also information at the TOP SECRET/SAP level.

In 2009, you signed an Executive Order regarding SAP (Special Access Programs), so we assume you were briefed on their extremely high sensitivity and the consequent need to sharply limit the number of people allowed to be “read-in” on them. The mishandling of SAP information can neutralize intelligence programs costing billions of dollars, wreck liaison relationships assiduously cultivated for decades, and get a lot of people killed.

‘It Wasn’t That Bad’

All those directly or peripherally involved in the investigation of the Clinton email issue know very well that it could have a direct impact on who is likely to become the next President of the United States, and they will be making decisions with that reality in mind. They know that it is with you that “the buck stops,” and they are sensitive to signs of your preferences. Those were not difficult to discern in your commencement address at Howard University on May 7, in which you strongly advocated the same basic policy approaches as those espoused by one Democratic presidential candidate – Hillary Clinton.

Your White House has also made excuses for deliberate security violations by Secretary Clinton that would have gotten senior officials like us fired and probably indicted. We look with suspicion at what we see as contrasting and totally inappropriate attempts by the administration and media to play down the importance of Secretary Clinton’s deliberate disregard of basic security instructions and procedures.

It appears that the option chosen by the White House is using the declared need for “thoroughness” to soft-pedal and delay completion of the investigation for several more months, while the corporate media sleeps on. Four months have already gone by since the smoking-gun-type revelations in the intelligence community Inspector General’s letter to Congress, and it has been well over a year since Secretary Clinton first acknowledged using an insecure email server for official business.

Another claim emanating from your White House is that Clinton was careless in managing her emails and has admitted as much, but that she has not damaged American national security. She has called it a “mistake,” but security officials of the National Security Agency explicitly forewarned her against violating basic laws and regulations designed to prevent the compromise of classified information.

NSA, FBI Have Enough Evidence

Surely, enough time has passed, and enough material has been reviewed, to permit a preliminary damage assessment. The NSA has the necessary information and should, by now, have shared that information with the FBI. Secretary Clinton’s server in her house in Chappaqua, New York, was not a secured device. Her email address incorporated her initials, “hdr” (apparently for her maiden name, Hillary Diane Rodham). It also included the “clinton” server identity, so it was easy for a hacker to spot.

Anyone with the proper equipment, knowledge and motivation might have been able to obtain access. That is what hackers are able to do, with considerable success, against government servers that are far better protected than the private email server located in her New York State home.

In fact, there have been reports that Secretary Clinton’s emails were, indeed, hacked successfully by foreigners. The Romanian hacker who goes by the name Guccifer claimed earlier this month that he had repeatedly hacked her email server. He described the server as “like an open orchid on the Internet” and that “it was easy … easy for me, for everybody.” Guccifer has been extradited from Romania and is now in jail in Alexandria, Virginia, where the FBI is said to be questioning him on the emails. There have also been credible claims that Russian intelligence and other foreign services were able to hack the Secretary’s server.

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

Another argument being surfaced, in a transparent attempt to defend Secretary Clinton, has to do with intent. It is said that she did not intend to have classified information on her computer in New York and had no intention of handling secret material in a way that would be accessible to foreign intelligence or others lacking the proper security clearances and the need-to-know.

But while intent might be relevant in terms of punishment, it does not change the fact that as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, then Senator Clinton had clearances for classified information for years before becoming Secretary of State. She knew the rules and yet as Secretary she handled classified information carelessly after a deliberate decision to circumvent normal procedures for its safeguarding, thus making it vulnerable to foreign intelligence, as well as to criminal hackers.

Anyone who has ever handled classified material knows that there are a number of things that you do not do. You do not take it home with you, you do not copy it and share it with anyone who does not have a clearance and a need-to-know, you do not strip off the classification marks and treat it as unclassified, and you do not transfer it to another email account that is not protected by a government server.

If you have a secured government computer operating off of a secure server that means that what is on the computer stays on the computer. This is not a matter of debate or subject to interpretation. It is how one safeguards classified information, even if one believes that the material should not be classified, which is another argument that has been made in Clinton’s defense. Whether or not the classification is unnecessary is not your decision to make.

Apart from the guidelines for proper handling of classified information, outlined in Executive Order 13526 and 18 U.S.C Sec. 793(f) of the federal code, there is some evidence of a cover-up regarding what was compromised. This itself would be a violation of the 2009 Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

Numerous messages both in New York and in Washington have reportedly been erased or simply cannot be found. In addition, the law cited above explicitly makes it a felony to cut and paste classified information removing its classification designation. Retaining such information on a private email system is also a felony. In one of Secretary Clinton’s emails, she instructed her staff simply to remove a classification and send the information to her on her server.

So the question is not whether Secretary Clinton broke the law. She did. If the laws are to be equally applied, she should face the same kind of consequences as others who have been found, often on the basis of much less convincing evidence, guilty of similar behavior.

Some More Equal Than Others

Secretary Clinton’ case invites comparison with what happened to former CIA case officer Jeffrey Sterling, now serving a three-and-a-half-year prison term for allegedly leaking information to New York Times journalist James Risen. Sterling first came to the media’s attention when in 2003 he blew the whistle on a botched CIA operation called Operation Merlin, telling the Senate Intelligence Committee staff that the operation had ended up revealing nuclear secrets to Iran. When in 2006 James Risen published a book that discussed, inter alia, this amateurish cowboy operation, the Department of Justice focused on Sterling as the suspected source.

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling.

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling.

In court, the federal prosecutors relied almost entirely on Risen’s phone and email logs, which reportedly demonstrated that the two men had been in contact up until 2005. But the prosecutors did not provide the content of those communications even though the FBI was listening in on some of them. Risen has claimed that he had multiple sources on Operation Merlin, and Sterling has always denied being involved.

Jeffrey Sterling was not permitted to testify in the trial on his own behalf because he would have had to discuss Operation Merlin, which was and is still classified. He could not mention any details about it even if they were already publicly known through the Risen book. No evidence was ever produced in court demonstrating that any classified information ever passed between the two men, but Sterling, an African American, was nevertheless convicted by an all-white jury in Virginia based on “suspicion” and the presumption that “it had to be him.”

The contrast between the copious evidence – some of it self-admitted – of Secretary Clinton’s demonstrable infractions, on the one hand, and the very sketchy, circumstantial evidence used to convict and imprison Jeffrey Sterling, on the other, lend weight to the suspicion that there is one law for the rich and powerful in the United States and another for the rest of us.

Failing to take steps against a politically powerful presidential candidate and letting her off unscathed for crimes of her own making, while an institutionally unprotected Jeffrey Sterling sits in prison would be a travesty of justice not dissimilar to the gentle wrist-slap given Gen. David Petraeus for giving his mistress extremely sensitive information and then lying to the FBI about it.

Gen. David Petraeus in a photo with his biographer/mistress Paula Broadwell. (U.S. government photo)

Gen. David Petraeus in a photo with his biographer/mistress Paula Broadwell. (U.S. government photo)

Your order to then-Attorney General Eric Holder to let Gen. David Petraeus off easy created a noxious – and demoralizing – precedent in the national security community indicating that, whatever the pains taken at lower levels to prevent compromise of duly classified information, top officials are almost never held accountable for disregarding well-established rules. These are some of the reasons we are so concerned that this is precisely the direction in which you seem to be leaning on the Clinton email issue.

In our view, the sole legitimate reason for disclosing classified information springs from the only “oath” we all took – “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.” When, for example, Edward Snowden saw the U.S. government grossly violating our Fourth Amendment right to be “secure” against warrantless “searches and seizures,” he gave more weight to that oath (ethicists call it a supervening value) than to the promise he had made not to disclose information that could harm U.S. national security.

Possibly Still Worse Ahead

You might give some thought, Mr. President, to a potentially messy side of this. What is already known about NSA’s collect-it-all electronic practices over the past several years strongly suggests that NSA, and perhaps the FBI, already know chapter and verse. It is virtually certain they know what was in Secretary Clinton’s emails – including the ones she thought she had deleted. It is likely that they have also been able to determine which foreign intelligence agencies and other hackers were able to access the emails.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. (Photo credit: The Guardian)

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. (Photo credit: The Guardian)

One ignores this at one’s peril. Secretary Clinton’s security violations can have impact not only on whether she becomes your successor, but also on whether she would, in that case, be beholden to those who know what lies hidden from the rest of us – perhaps even from you.

Intelligence professionals (in contrast to the occasional political functionary) take the compromise of classified information with utmost seriousness. More important: this is for us a quintessentially nonpartisan issue. It has to do, first and foremost, with the national security of the United States.

We are all too familiar with what harm can come from blithe disregard of basic procedures designed to protect sensitive intelligence and other national security information. Yes, the lamentable unevenness in how such infractions are handled is also an important issue – but that is not our main focus in the present context.

The Truth Will Out

Not all workers at the NSA or the FBI are likely to keep their heads in the sand, as they watch very senior officials and politicians with their own agendas disregard laws to safeguard the nation’s security. We know what it is like to do the difficult, disciplined work of protecting information from being compromised by strictly abiding by what often seem to be cumbersome rules and regulations. We’ve been there; done that.

If you encourage the Department of Justice and the FBI to continue slow-walking the investigation, there is a good chance the truth will come out anyway. As you are aware, the Justice Department, the FBI, and NSA have all yielded recent patriots who, in such circumstances, decided that whistleblowing – rather than silence – was the only way to honor the oath we all swore – to support and defend the Constitution.

To sum up our concern regarding how all this plays out, if you order the Justice Department and FBI to pursue the investigation with “all deliberate speed,” so to speak, and Secretary Clinton becomes president, the juicy email secrets in the hidden hands of the NSA and FBI are likely to give those already powerful institutions a capacity for blackmail that would make J. Edgar Hoover’s mouth water. In addition, information hacked by foreign intelligence services or Guccifer-like hackers can also provide useful grist for leverage or blackmail.

Taking Care the Laws Are Faithfully Executed

We strongly urge you to order Attorney General Loretta Lynch to instruct FBI Director James Comey to wind up a preliminary investigation and tell the country now what they have learned. By now they – and U.S. intelligence agencies – have had enough time to do an early assessment of what classified data, programs and people have been compromised. Realistically speaking, a lengthier, comprehensive post-mortem-type evaluation – however interesting it might be, might never see the light of day under a new president.

We believe the American people are entitled to prompt and full disclosure, and respectfully suggest that you ensure that enforcement of laws protecting our national security does not play stepchild to political considerations on this key issue.

On April 10, you assured Chris Wallace, “I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department, or the FBI – not just in this [Clinton email] case, but in any case. Full stop. Period.”

We urge you to abide by that promise, and let the chips fall where they may. Full stop. Period.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

William Binney, Technical Director, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Thomas Drake, Senior Executive, NSA (former)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Sen. Mike Gravel, D, Alaska; earlier, Army Intelligence

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry C. Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF Intelligence Agency (ret.), ex-Master SERE Instructor

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East, CIA (ret.)

Todd Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Scott Ritter, former MAJ, USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq

Diane Roark, DOE, DOD, NSC, & professional staff, House Intelligence Committee (ret.)

Robert David Steele, former CIA Operations Officer

Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

  1. Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA, (ret.)

Ann Wright, U.S. Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former U.S. Diplomat

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Hillary’s Gun Gambit

Andrew Levine

By Andrew Levine. This article was first published on Counterpunch.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters are right about one thing: she has lots of “experience” – as a First Lady, a Senator, and a Secretary of State. This is why there is an abundance of evidence supporting the claim that if there is a way to fuck something up, she will find it.

But because, from Day One, she has been deemed the inevitable nominee and President, mum is the word in liberal circles, or rather it would be, were so many black, white and brown liberals, and so many business-friendly union officials, not so plainly in denial.

In their view, and in the view of “liberal” corporate media, Bernie Sanders and the masses of people his campaign has mobilized are merely nuisances, not worth taking seriously. They livened up the primary season for a while, but now they are pointlessly standing in the way of the Queen’s coronation.

Ignore them, they all think, and they will go away.

In their hearts, though, they know that this won’t happen. They are plainly worried about the Democratic Party convention this summer. They fear that, thanks to all the people feeling the Bern, they will be unable to turn it into yet another terminally boring infomercial, like other recent political conventions have been.

Team Hillary’s hope, however, is that, before long, this too will pass; that after Sanders supporters blow off steam in Philadelphia, their insurgency will fold, causing all that pesky equality jibber jabber to recede back into the margins.

Bernie draws huge crowds and gets almost as many votes as Hillary does, despite the black and brown political machines that serve the Clintons by working against their constituents’ interests, and despite those feckless union bosses.

At this point too, there is no love lost between Sanders and his supporters and Hillary and hers. But the prevailing idea, for now, is that none of this matters because most Sanders supporters will up voting for Hillary in November anyway – on lesser evil grounds.

Clinton therefore has a lot invested in Donald Trump; she is counting on him to assure her success.

This is why, though the primary season is still very much on, Team Hillary is targeting Trump more than Sanders. With corporate media ignoring Bernie as best they can, and deriding him for staying in the race when they cannot, this is not an unreasonable strategy.

In fact, it is almost fool proof. But if anybody can fuck it up, Hillary is the one.

Media moguls turned Trump the buffoon into Trump the contender – not so much for Hillary’s sake, though they and their underlings are Clinton-besotted, but because his antics did wonders for their ratings and therefore for their bottom lines.

He is still doing that for them; but, now that there are no more Republican dunces for Trump to make mincemeat of, he should already have peaked. Perhaps, he already has.

This may not become clear, however, until after the slugfest at the GOP convention this summer. Nevertheless, Trump’s decline and fall is as inevitable as Hillary’s nomination has always been.

Every day, damning news of his business dealings make it into the news. The truth is out there, buried in the archives of New York tabloids and scandal sheets. Before long, everybody will know of his shady, mob inflected, past.

Apart from that, roughly a third of the electorate has always viewed the Donald as a menace who incites racist, nativist and Islamophobic animosities.

Many have even come to think of him as a fascist or a proto-fascist.

What Trump really thinks, nobody knows; probably not even Trump himself. But it is safe to say, even so, that the Donald is more like Berlusconi than Mussolini.

Fascists are ideologically driven and they have mass movements behind them; Trump has no ideology and no real followers — just a lot of (justifiably) angry people aching to give the political class the finger. Supporting Trump is a way to do that.

Republican stalwarts and the Republican Party’s “donor class” could care less about the racism, nativism and Islamophobia Trump’s candidacy has encouraged.   What bothers them is that the Donald has no time for them or their “conservative” nostrums. Even more, they care that he is taking their party away from them. Therefore , they too are dead set against him.

Even if some of them eventually do come on board, for the sake of down-ticket Republicans or to try to salvage what they can of the party that has served them so well for so long, their enthusiasm level will be nil. Many, maybe most, of them will not support Trump in any case.

And because, in Presidential elections, demography and geography are destiny, the Democratic Party would now be slouching towards November with a clear Electoral College advantage even had the Republican establishment managed to replace Trump with somebody less absurd.

Could Hillary lose, even so? It is hard to see how. But fucking up is what she does; and she does seem to be giving it her all yet again.

Her weapon of choice, this week at least, is guns.

***

It goes without saying: America’s gun laws are ludicrous; the gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), is a menace; the Second Amendment “absolutism” it champions is silly; the Second Amendment fetishism that is rampant throughout the United States is sillier still; and, thanks to the murder and mayhem that America’s gun culture encourages, more and more Americans are finally seeing the light.

It is against this backdrop that Team Hillary decided to make an issue of gun control.

Making an issue of gun control may not quite qualify as another Hillary flip flop, but it comes close. Democrats have not had much to say about guns since the 1988 election when Michael Dukakis got burned for raising the issue; the Clintons were no exception. Hillary’s latest turn suggests that there now is polling data indicating that the time is ripe for bringing gun control up again.

She raised the issue first during the Democratic Party candidates’ debates, as she tried, in vain, to outflank Sanders from the left. At the time, Team Hillary must have figured that she needed a sop to throw to “progressives.” Predictably, she got no traction at all from this one.

A self-proclaimed “democratic socialist,” Sanders is actually a later-day New Deal – Great Society liberal.   Were the political spectrum still more or less where it was before the neoliberal turn of the late seventies, his politics would seem progressive and decent, but hardly extreme.   Even so, the idea that Hillary could outflank Bernie from the left is preposterous on its face.

Will her ostensibly heartfelt plea for gun control work better against Trump? Perhaps; but she and her handlers should be wary.

Lesser evil voters tend to focus too much on the most salient aspects of the choices before them, without taking other relevant consequences, especially ones that are only likely to materialize in the future, into account.

A similar kind of myopia afflicts political opportunists like the Clintons who rely on data that only address voters’ views of the merits and shortcomings of the policy choices before them, without taking all pertinent considerations into account.

And so it is that, by turning gun control into a wedge issue, Hillary is courting disaster.

Where gun control is involved, atmospherics trump policy. This is why it hardly matters if there is ample support, say, for prohibiting private citizens from owning assault weapons or for requiring gun sellers at gun shows to run background checks on buyers. What matters is the perception that Hillary and liberals like her are out to get peoples’ guns; and, worse, that they hold those who care in contempt.

Even in benighted regions, most Americans probably do hold socially liberal – or, at least, live and let live — views. But the social liberalism that the Clintons and other “new Democrats” have been promoting as a replacement for the liberalism which Sanders wants to revive plays into Trump’s hands.

Sanders-style liberalism is socially liberal too. But, for him, as for the great liberals of the New Deal and Great Society eras, social liberalism is not the only thing, or even the main thing. In the Clinton worldview, it is, and ought to be, all that liberalism is.

Otherwise, Clinton’s politics is neoliberal, liberal imperialist, and bellicose. People who voted for Trump in the Republican primaries – and people who might vote for him in the general election — are all over the map on these matters.

But they are on a different page entirely from voters who actually like Hillary when it comes to saccharine displays of self-righteous goody-goodyism. It is hard not to agree with them on that. I, for one, would rather die a horrible twitching death than vote for the Donald, but listening to Hillary makes me want to run amok.

When Trump rails against “political correctness,” he is tapping into that sensibility. He may not know much about economic policy or world affairs, but he does know how to push peoples’ buttons.

When Hillary promotes gun control in touchy-feely ways, as she did recently when speaking to mothers whose children were victims of gun violence, she is therefore playing into his hands.

Throughout her public life, Hillary has played the Mother Card; now, thanks to daughter Chelsea’s fertility, she has taken to playing the Grandmother Card as well. “Feeling the pain,” Clinton-style, of mothers and grandmothers who have lost children to gun violence comes easily for her.

No doubt, she is sincere; but, even in this, she cannot help being, or seeming to be, inauthentic. As the air is to birds and the sea to fish, so is inauthenticity to the Clintons.

Even the vilest Trump voter would probably be OK with authentic expressions of motherly and grandmotherly concern. Who could be against motherhood or grandmotherhood? But when Hillary is the one conveying the message, actual and potential Trump voters, and many others too, naturally go ballistic.

Trump knows it. Therefore count on him to take advantage of the fact that, while rates of childhood poverty rise, and while black and brown children’s lives are at risk from many sources, not just guns, and while Hillary and Bill emote about how awful it all is, the Clintons have been busy feathering their own nests.

A case in point: thanks to the Clinton Foundation and the fees that the Clintons receive for speeches to too-big-to-jail high flyers in too-big-to fail financial firms, and to other card carrying members of “the billionaire class,” Hillary and Bill set their brood up in a well-fortified $10.5 million New York condominium.

No doubt, Trump’s children live even higher off the hog, but at least the Donald came by his wealth the old-fashioned way – he inherited it, and then he built it up through skullduggery and by never giving a sucker an even break. Trumps flaunt their riches; it is their way of telling the world to kiss their ass. Pissed off people like their attitude; they eat it up.

Clintons, on the other hand, wear opportunistic self-righteousness on their sleeves. Nobody eats that up.

It doesn’t help Hillary’s case either that the Clintons have been cashing in big time on the political influence they have built up over the years.  The Clintons are slick; they are also shameless.

This perception is not confined to Second Amendment fetishists. Many of us who have no interest in guns, who believe that the level of gun violence in America is appalling, and who consider America’s gun culture ridiculous, find Hillary’s gun control proposals galling too.

It is not their content that grates; if anything, they are too ‘moderate’ for us. Nevertheless, they get our goat. The problem is that the way that the messenger is conveying the message epitomizes all that has gone wrong with liberalism since she and her husband and other “new Democrats” set out to terminate liberalism as we knew it.

One would think that, after Trump’s success and Bernie’s outstanding showing, that Hillary and her handlers would at least try to be less conspicuously lachrymose, condescending and goody-goodyish.

And yet, there she goes again, waving the proverbial red flag in the face of raging bulls.

It would take an unlikely combination of unforeseeable circumstances, even so, for Trump to defeat a Democrat, any Democrat, this year. But if there is a way to make it happen, count on Hillary to find it.

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