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Nederlog

Monday, Apr 17, 2017

Crisis: Nuclear Power, "America-First!", Russia-gate, Obama/Trump, Erdogan


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Introduction

1. Nuclear Power Giants Limp Toward Extinction
2. What Does an 'America-First' Foreign Policy Actually Mean?

3. What Russia-gate Has Wrought
4.
Obama/Trump: Contrasting Deceivers
5. Erdoğan Claims Ultimate Power in Turkey After Nearly Split
     Vote

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday
, April 17, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with five items and five links: Item 1 is about the extinction of nuclear power, that indeed seems likely (but the article fails to mention the remains of nuclear power); item 2 is about what the "America-First" propaganda really means: The military first; item 3 is about some five months of extensive propaganda about "Russia-gate" that seems to have suddenly stopped; item 4 is about the fact that both Obama and Trump were gross deceivers of their voters (as were Bush Jr., Bill Clinton, Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan), and seems quite correct though not very hopeful; and item 5 is about Erdogan's win in Turkey, that I disbelieve, but that very probably will get him authoritarian power since 2029, at least.
April 17: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site - of course! - stuck again on April 15. These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them.)

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. Nuclear Power Giants Limp Toward Extinction

The first article today is
by Paul Brown on Truthdig and originally on Climate News Network:

This starts as follows:

Any lingering hope that a worldwide nuclear power renaissance would contribute to combating climate change appears to have been dashed by US company Westinghouse, the largest provider of nuclear technology in the world, filing for bankruptcy, and the severe financial difficulties of its Japanese parent company, Toshiba.

After months of waiting, Toshiba still could not get its auditors to agree to its accounts [last] week. But it went ahead anyway and reported losses of nearly $5 billion for the eight months from April to December, in order to avoid being de-listed from the Japanese stock exchange.

The company admitted it too could face bankruptcy, and is attempting to raise capital by selling viable parts of its business.

I say, for I did not know this. Then again, I have also never been a proponent of nuclear power, and the reason is very simple: All nuclear power for energy is power
generated by fission (<-Wikipedia), which in turn generates radioactive rest materials, that have to be - somehow - taken care of the next tenthousand years or so. That always seemed to me a completely irresponsible shift of responsibilities to future generations.

Most of this article seems to be oriented towards Europe:

The other nuclear giant present in Britain, the French-owned Électricité de France (EDF), is in serious difficulties of its own. It is already deep in debt and its flagship project to build a prototype 1,600 megawatt reactor at Flamanville in northern France is six years behind schedule and three times over budget at €10.5 billion.

Originally due to open in 2012, its start date is now officially the end of 2018, but even that is in doubt because an investigation into poor quality steel in the reactor’s pressure vessel is yet to be completed.

Despite this, the company and the UK government are committed to building two more of these giant reactors in Somerset in southwest England, and have started pouring concrete for the bases to put them on. These reactors are due to be completed in 2025, but nobody outside the company and the UK government believes this is likely.

I agree. Here is some more information:

The problem for all these projects, apart from the vast capital cost and the timescales involved, is that the energy industry is changing dramatically. Solar and wind power are now a cheaper form of producing electricity across the world, and are less capital-intensive and quicker to build.

Despite the fact that there are more than 430 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide and the industry still has great economic and political clout, it is beginning to look like a dinosaur – too big and cumbersome to adapt to new conditions.

Nuclear power now produces about 10% of the world’s electricity, while 40% is from coal and 23% from renewables. The rest is mainly from natural gas.

Oddly, the article doesn't mention the fact that the radioactive remains of fission have to be taken care of at least five times as long as all of civilization started.

2. What Does an 'America-First' Foreign Policy Actually Mean?

The second article is by William Astore on AlterNet and originally on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows:

What does an “America-first” foreign policy look like under President Donald Trump? As a start, forget the ancient label of “isolationism.”  With the end of Trump’s first 100 days approaching, it looks more like a military-first policy aimed at achieving global hegemony, which means it’s a potential doomsday machine.

Yes indeed: This is both a fair question and - what I think - is a sensible answer. And here is also the factual background for this answer: The majority of the Americans both
watch or read and believe most of the mainstream news they consume:

Most Americans believe the spin that the U.S. military is all about deterring and preventing attacks on the homeland, especially those orchestrated by “radical Islamic terrorism.”  Sold as a deterrent, Washington’s national security state has, in fact, exploded into something that increasingly resembles a mechanism for permanent war.  Ignorant of the most basic military strategy, impulsive and bombastic, its present commander-in-chief is being enabled by bellicose advisers and the men he calls “my generals,” who dream of ever bigger budgets.

Yes indeed. And here is what the USA's military men do:

Welcome to Trump’s new era of winning.  It’s not really about ending wars, but exerting “global reach/global power” while selling loads of weaponry.  It promises to spread or prolong chaos in Iraq, Yemen, and possibly Iran, among other countries.  In the Greater Middle East, U.S.-led efforts have produced a war-torn Iraq that’s splitting at the seams.  U.S. drone strikes and support for an ongoing Saudi air campaign have left Yemen lurching toward famine.  Syria remains a humanitarian disaster, torn by war even as additional U.S. troops are deployed there. (The Pentagon won’t say how many, telling us instead to focus on “capabilities” rather than boots on the ground.)  Further east, the never-ending war in Afghanistan is, in Pentagon-speak, “stalemated,” which means that the Taliban is actually gaining ground as a new Washington surge-to-nowhere looms.

Incidentally, the terms "capabilities" (instead of: boots on the ground) and "stalemated" (instead of: lost) are propaganda terms that are only designed to deceive the folks whose taxes pay for these wars. (And these deceptions work.)

Here is the sum-up of the anwer to the article's title ("What Does an 'America-First' Foreign Policy Actually Mean?"):

To Trump and his generals, an “America-first” approach to such problems actually means putting the military first, second, and third.  It helps that they can’t imagine the actions of that military as destabilizing.  (Possible future headline: Trump destroys Syria in order to save it.)

In fact, it very well may be that they do see their military actions as destabilizing, but don't care. And as to the utterly nonsensical headline (equivalent to: We have to murder you slowly and painfully in order to save you): Once you have given up on truth, any amount of totally inconsisent bullshit becomes the norm, provided it is combined with just one criterion: it must proudly sing of the faith the USA has in its troops, and it must depict every American military feat as a win. Then again, when you have given up on truth, anything whatsoever becomes sensible and allowed.

And in fact there were a few Americans who saw this, and who saw this long ago as well. Here is a reference to C. Wright Mills (<-Wikipedia, whom I like a lot and read most of):

More than half a century ago, sociologist C. Wright Mills offered answers that still seem as fresh as this morning's news.  In his 1958 essay, “The Structure of Power in American Society,” he dissected the country’s “triangle of power.”  It consisted, he explained, of corporate leaders, senior military men, and politicians working in concert, but also in a manner that merged corporate agendas with military designs.  That combination, he suggested, was degrading the ability of politicians to moderate and control corporate-military imperatives (assuming the latter even wanted to try).

“The [U.S.] military order,” Mills wrote, “once a slim establishment [operating] in a context of civilian distrust, has become the largest and most expensive feature of government; behind smiling public relations, it has all the grim and clumsy efficiency of a great and sprawling bureaucracy. The high military have gained decisive political and economic relevance. The seemingly permanent military threat places a premium upon them and virtually all political and economic actions are now judged in terms of military definitions of reality.”

For him, the danger was plain enough:  the “coincidence of military domain and corporate realm strengthens both of them and further subordinates the merely political man. Not the party politician, but the corporation executive, is now more likely to sit with the military to answer the question: what is to be done?”

It is true this more than half a century old, but the insight - which does seem quite  similar to Eisenhower's later "military-industrial complex" (<-Wikipedia) - was true then (I think) and is true now [1].

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

While both Mills and Eisenhower warned of such developments, even they might have been startled by the America of 2017.  By now, the post-draft, “all volunteer” professional military has become remarkably estranged, if not divorced, from the wider populace, a separation aggravated by an ongoing cult of the warrior within its ranks.  Not only are Americans increasingly isolated from “their” warfighter military, but from America’s wars as well.  These continue to be waged without formal congressional declarations and with next to no congressional oversight.  Combine this with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which translated corporate money directly into political activism, and you have what is increasingly a 1% governing system in which a billionaire president presides over the wealthiest cabinet in history in what is now a war capital, while an ever-expanding corporate-military nexus embodies the direst of fears of Mills and Eisenhower. 

America’s runaway military machine has little to do these days with deterrence and much to do with the continuation of a state of permanent war.  Put it all together and you have a formula for disaster.

I completely agree, and this is a recommended article. Also, as pointed out in note [1], the warnings against the military-industrial complex and quite a few of the warnings and explanations of fascism in the 1930ies have a similar background that is well caught by the last quotation above.

3. What Russia-gate Has Wrought

The third article is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:

This starts with the following introduction:
Exclusive: For five months, there was a daily drumbeat on Russia-gate, the sprawling conspiracy theory that Russia had somehow put Donald Trump in the White House, but suddenly the “scandal” disappeared, notes Robert Parry.
Coincidentally, I report that the two mainstream dailies I consult every day, The Guardian and The New York Times, indeed today lack any prominent "Russia-story".
This is - of course! - not a proof that Parry is correct, but he is right to that extent, at least.

And here is more:

Democrats, liberals and some progressives might be feeling a little perplexed over what has happened to Russia-gate, the story that pounded Donald Trump every day since his election last November – until April 4, that is.

On April 4, Trump fully capitulated to the neoconservative bash-Russia narrative amid dubious claims about a chemical attack in Syria. On April 6, Trump fired off 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase; he also restored the neocon demand for “regime change” in Syria; and he alleged that Russia was possibly complicit in the supposed chemical attack.

Since Trump took those actions – in accordance with the neocon desires for more “regime change” in the Middle East and a costly New Cold War with Russia – Russia-gate has almost vanished from the news.

I think that may be true (and I am not living in the USA). Here is some more background information:

Yet, given all the hype and hullabaloo over Russia-gate, the folks who were led to believe that the vague and amorphous allegations were “bigger than Watergate” might now be feeling a little used. It appears they may have been sucked into a conspiracy frenzy in which the Establishment exploited their enthusiasm over the “scandal” in a clever maneuver to bludgeon an out-of-step new President back into line.

If that’s indeed the case, perhaps the most significant success of the Russia-gate ploy was the ouster of Trump’s original National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was seen as a key proponent of a New Détente with Russia, and his replacement by General H.R. McMaster, a protégé of neocon favorite, retired Gen. David Petraeus.

I agree this is speculative, but the speculations seem sound (and I do not know, and indeed very few people know, what really happens in the American military or political top).

But I add that it seems very unlikely to me that more than a few of those who
were deceived by "Russia-gate" (that was supposed to be "
bigger than Watergate") will complain that they were deceived, for these manner of deceptions seem to have worked very well since the late 1970ies: They worked again, and again, and again.

Then there is this summary of what happened to the "left" in the USA, since November 2016:

Instead of Democratic leaders taking responsibility for picking a dreadful candidate, ignoring the nation’s anti-establishment mood, and failing to offer any kind of inspiring message, the national Democrats could palm off the blame on “Russia! Russia! Russia!”

Thus, rather than looking in the mirror and trying to figure out how to correct their deep-seated problems, the national Democrats could instead focus on a quixotic tilting at Trump’s impeachment.

Many on the Left joined in this fantasy because they have been so long without a Movement that the huge post-inaugural “pussy hat” marches were a temptation that they couldn’t resist. Russia-gate became the fuel to keep the “Movement” bandwagon rolling. #Resistance!

I agree, except that I do not confuse "the Left" with "the left", and I do not because (i) both my parents and grandparents were proud (and courageous and sincere) members of the Left (which was revolutionary, anti-capitalistic, and fact-based), but they never belonged to "the left" (identified by political correctness and concerns with the rights of LGBTQ-people) [2], and (ii) because "the left" in the University of Amsterdam has criticized me as "a fascist and a terrorist" for ten years because I said - in a Stalinist/ Marxist university run by a combination of corrupt communists and corrupt social democrats for 25 years [3] - that I was not a Marxist. That also was the reason to deny me the right to take the M.A. in philosophy, as the only Dutchmen ever to have been discriminated that way since 1945 (and I was and am ill as well).

Here is a sum-up of Robert Parry (who does use "left", between quotes, as I do, though I do not know whether he uses it with my understanding of the term):

Russia-gate also taught the American “left” to learn to love McCarthyism since “proof” of guilt pretty much amounted to having had contact with a Russian — and anyone who questioned the dubious factual basis of the “scandal” was dismissed as a “Russian propagandist” or a “Moscow stooge” or a purveyor of “fake news.”

Yes indeed - which also shows that (i) much of "the left" was thoroughly deceived by the propaganda they read in the mainstream media, that (ii) much of "the left" had the warranted totalitarian model of accusing anyone who disagreed with them as a “Russian propagandist” (indeed as I was called "a fascist and a terrorist" in the University of Amsterdam because I was not a Marxist).

And I agree the present article is at least plausible, and it is recommended.

4.
Obama/Trump: Contrasting Deceivers

The fourth article is by Sam Husseini on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:
Donald Trump won the 2016 Republican nomination and the general election largely because he was able to pose as a populist and an anti-interventionist, an “America Firster.” Similarly, Barack Obama won the 2008 election in good part because he promised “hope and change” and because he had given a speech years earlier against the then-impending invasion of Iraq.

Short of disclosure of diaries or other documents from these politicians, we can’t know for certain if they planned on reversing much of what they promised or if the political establishment compelled them to change, but they both reversed themselves on their core messages, committing what you might call a massive political fraud. Yet, what is perhaps most striking is how quickly each of them backtracked on their winning messages, particularly since they were both proclaimed as representing “movements” seeking to shake up the system.
I basically agree, although I do not need a "disclosure of diaries or other documents" to conclude with more than sufficient probability that (i) both Obama and Trump were major liars, deceivers and propagandists, and that (ii) their lies and deceptions and propaganda before the elections they won and after the elections they won are - indeed - quite different, and this happened very probably quite intentionally.

Here are some of the many lies of Obama:

Thus, rather predictably, the Obama years saw the expansion of U.S. bombing operations and a dramatic escalation in the U.S. global assassination program using drones. Obama intentionally bombed more countries than any other president since World War II: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan.

Obama had talked about a nuclear-weapons-free world – a key reason why he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize – but he later geared up to spend $1 trillion in upgrading the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. At the end of his administration, attempts at the United Nations to work toward banning nuclear weapons were sabotaged, efforts that the Trump administration continues.

And here are more of the very many lies of Obama, who indeed was a major fraud who - quite like Bill Clinton - seems to have really mostly cared for becoming a multi- millionaire through the presidency, and through serving the very rich bankers:

Politically, Obama and Trump ran against the Establishment but then, in effect, rebranded it and, by doing so, further entrenched it. And not just in foreign policy. Though elected amid public anger over the Wall Street collapse of 2008, Obama supported the Wall Street bailout and brought in pro-Wall Street apparatchiks Tim Geithner and others around Robert Rubin, such as Larry Summers. Some were connected to Goldman Sachs, including Rahm Emanuel, Gary Gensler and Elena Kagan.

Precisely: It was all one big major propagandistic deception from start to finish. And the same is true of Trump - and also of Bush Jr., Bill Clinton and Bush Sr.:

Obama and Trump were both salesmen, albeit with divergent pitches and contrasting personas. Nor were their deceptions particularly new. George W. Bush campaigned against “nation building” before launching a war of choice in Iraq supposedly intended to remake its entire political and economic structure; Bill Clinton campaigned as the “man from Hope” who felt the pain of the little guy before parlaying his presidency into a very lucrative business model for himself, his family and his friends; George H. W. Bush claimed he was a compassionate conservative but showed little compassion either in his domestic or foreign policies. All backed corporate power and finance. All waged aggressive war.

And the lies, deceptions and propaganda of each of these did make them presidents of the USA. Why? In the end because the vast majority of the American public believes the lies, deceptions and propaganda they are told in the mainstream media and on TV.

This article ends as follows:

To avoid repeats of these political scams, America needs a citizenry, aided by media, that adroitly and accessibly pierces through the layers of deception in real time. Another thing that’s needed is a merging of what we call the “left” and “right” into a joint effort to pursue polices that undermine the grip of Wall Street and the Military Industrial Complex on the U.S. government.

A wiser electorate then must resist the allure of loving – or hating – certain personalities and must repudiate the cheap satisfaction of partisan shots. Only when there’s adherence to real values – and cohesion from real solidarity – can the cycles of promises and betrayal be broken.

I agree - but I conclude that "the cycles of promises and betrayal" that we have seen since Reagan became president are likely to continue. And this is a recommended article. (For the reasons why, see Jante's Law: Quite interesting.)

5. Erdoğan Claims Ultimate Power in Turkey After Nearly Split Vote

The fifth and last article today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

In a very close—and closely watched—referendum vote, Turks on Sunday handed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan what many say is authoritarian rule.  

With more than 99 percent of ballots counted, Erdoğan claimed a win with 51.36 percent voting in favor of the referendum and 48.64 voting against.

However, the Guardian reported,

disparities persisted into Sunday evening, with the opposition saying not all ballots had been counted and they would contest a third of the votes that had been cast. [Sadi Guven, the head of Turkey's high electoral board, or YSK] said the YSK had decided to consider unstamped ballots as valid unless they were proved to be fraudulent after a high number of complaints —including one from the ruling AK Party—that its officials had failed to stamp some ballot papers. 

The no campaign said the YSK's last-minute decision raised questions about the validity of the vote. [...]

I should say immediately that I do not trust that vote, however much it was "closely watched", and I don't because (i) I disbelieve the news of some months ago that Gülen was supposed to have started an attempted revolution in Turkey; (ii) I dislike the authoritarian Erdogan; and (iii) both his version of the attempted revolution in Turkey and his arrests of tenthousands of supposed followers of Gülen seem one of the classical ways in which authoritarians try to become dictators.

And this is what seems to have happened in Turkey. Here is how Turkey will be transformed into an authoritarian state:

If confirmed, the vote will "transform Turkey into a presidential republic, in what would be one of the most significant developments in the nation’s history since its founding after the collapse of the Ottoman empire," the Guardian reported earlier Sunday.

The referendum includes a series of constitutional amendments that would dissolve the role of the prime minister, centralizing state bureaucracy under the president while also giving him control of the judiciary. Further, it would allow Erdoğan to run for two more election terms and essentially "rule by decree," as Common Dreams previously wrote.

Yes indeed, and this is a recommended article.

---------------
Notes

[1] If you doubt this, perhaps you should re-read Mills's contribution that is now almost 60 years old (namely next year) and compare what he said then with what you think you know now. Again, this is also similar to things published in the 1930ies against fascism.

[2] You may disagree, but you should realize that my grandparents were communists or anarchists; both my parents were - sincere, intelligent but not very well educated - communists for 45 years; and I got "a communist education", and none of that prepared me for political correctness, great admiration for the rights of LGBTQ- people, and indeed also enthusiasm for the environment (with little relevant knowledge in most cases).

I do not know of anyone except my brother who has as Leftist a background as I have - and see the next note:

[3] I have said this quite a few times now so will reduce it to the main points here:

In 1971 minister Veringa had the Dutch parliament approve a law - probably in his case motivated by
the events in Paris of 1968 - that effectively gave the power to the Dutch students, by redesigning the structure of the Dutch universities:

From then on, there would be elections every year for "parliaments" of two kinds, namely the University-parliament and the faculty-parliaments; these elections would be decided by 1 man = 1 vote for everyone who worked or studied in a university, which gave the effective power to the students (for they had by far the most votes); and because the students from the 1970ies onwards were mostly "communists" (until 1983/4) and then postmodernists, these in fact got most of the power in the Dutch universities between 1971 and 1995 (when the whole system was completely turned back by another law approved by the Dutch parliament).


This made all the Dutch universities completely unique in the world between 1971 and 1995, during which years the universities also were much simplified (which continued in the 2000s: These days most studies - not all - can be done with an IQ of 100, for they take half the time they took in the 1970ies, with people who are also much less well-prepared to study, but against a price which is ten or twenty times what it was in the 1970ies. "Progress"!!!!).


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