Making War on the Planet - Geoengineering and Capitalism's Creative Destruction of the Earth

01.09.2018,  Foster John Bellamy,  ,  Monthly Review
John Bellamy Foster John Bellamy Foster

The dangers posed by climate change have inspired a desperate search for technological fixes in the form of geoengineeringā€”massive human interventions to manipulate the entire climate or planet. But as long as the dominant strategy for addressing global warming remains subordinated to the ends of capital accumulation, any attempt to implement such schemes will prove fatal to humanity.

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Trade war and the political independence of the working class

07.07.2018,  Beams Nick,  ,  World Socialist Web Site
Nick Beams Nick Beams

The decision of the United States to proceed with the imposition of tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods, coupled with threats from President Trump to impose an additional $500 billion in tariffs, marks a further stage in the breakdown of the post-World War II capitalist order.

The fact that the measures against Chinaā€”along with the earlier imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium impacting Canada, the European Union, China, Japan and Mexico, together with the threat to impose tariffs on auto importsā€”have all been invoked on ā€œnational securityā€ grounds is deeply significant.

It is an unmistakeable sign that the trade war measures have an essential military dimension and are a major component of the preparations by the US to launch war against its rivalsā€”that is, a world warā€”should that be considered necessary to maintain Washingtonā€™s global dominance.

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Realistic solution needed for North Korean nuke issue

22.04.2017,   ,  ,  Global Times
Once again Beijing has found itself in a very difficult situation. On one hand, Beijing has made efforts to persuade Pyongyang that is unwilling to listen. On the other hand, China has proposed a 'double suspension,' an initiative that seeks to have North Korea suspend nuclear and missile activities, and for the US and South Korea to also suspend large-scale military drills, but neither of the parties has been listening.

Neither side has been willing to consider much of anything outside of their own agenda, while also possessing sharply contrasting expectations from China. The current situation has only brought to light the enormous differences between the Chinese solution expressed by Trump versus the one envisioned by Beijing.

Judging from this thorny situation, it seems that the only remaining option for Beijing is to take only one step first, and then look around before taking another. Beijing will do what it should do, instead of doing something it does not want to do, or is unable to do.

The nuclear issue is essentially one that exists between North Korea and US / South Korea, but Pyongyang's nuclear activities must not jeopardize China. As North Korea's nuclear test site sits close to Northeastern China, Pyongyang must make sure its nuclear endeavors will not result in leakage or pollution that could jeopardize the health of the Chinese living in the region. If this line is crossed, any reaction from Beijing could be possible, and would inevitably alter China's involvement in handling North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

As the upcoming nuclear test could potentially be hazardous to Northeastern China, sanctions imposed by Beijing within the United Nations framework will increase, thus dramatically decreasing the amount of petroleum exported to North Korea.

It is important here to keep in mind that a heavy reduction in petroleum export does not mean completely turning off the supply. Beijing will make sure the people of North Korea will not have to experience a humanitarian disaster. What the reduced amount of petroleum to North Korea should be is a question to be decided by the UN Security Council.

North Korea losing most of its petroleum supply would be nothing short of a heavy blow to its entire industrial system. It seems Pyongyang might be willing to pay such a price due to their uncompromising stance over its nuclear program, and would do so regardless of opinions heard from the rest of the world.

If harsh sanctions cannot stop Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, Washington and Seoul need to reflect deeply over how much they have contributed to Pyongyang's nuclear program obsession. If Washington refuses to probe deeper into this overall issue and only replies with military force, a word that has not been used in over half a century within the common vernacular of the Korean Peninsula will return, and that word is 'war.'

Of course China is adamantly against engaging in war, but opposing it is not enough. Like the world's other major powers, it must always be ready for war of any kind. Then Washington and Seoul would not have effective ability to threaten Beijing with war, and would respect and consider Beijing's suggestions on a greater level.

Now would be a good time for Beijing to brief Washington on its pre-established position should a war break out. If Pyongyang's unwavering pursuit of its nuclear program continues and Washington launches a military attack on North Korea's nuclear facilities as a result, Beijing should oppose the move by diplomatic channels, rather than get involved through military action. It would be in Washington's best interest if it would take into full consideration the high level of threat that could emerge over a revenge attack on Seoul carried out by Pyongyang. Such a revenge attack would be too heavy for Washington and Seoul to withstand.

However, if US and South Korea armed forces cross the Korean Demilitarized Line in a ground invasion for the direct purpose of annihilating the Pyongyang regime, China will sound its own alarms and ramp up their military immediately. Beijing would never sit back and watch foreign military forces overthrow the Pyongyang regime. If it has not done so already, Beijing will rather quickly illustrate their overall position in a clear fashion to both Washington and Seoul.

China opposes North Korea's nuclear program, and also opposes changing the status quo of the Korean Peninsula through military force. China should work closely with the US and all related parties in order to inspire Pyongyang to cease its nuclear activities. China should also stick to its bottom line to the end, no matter the expense. Right now more than ever, China has the power to remain steadfast with its own agenda without having to bend its knees to foreign pressure, and this is the underlying stance supported by millions of Chinese people.

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Donald Trump's first 100 days: The madder he gets, the more seriously the world takes him

21.04.2017,  Fisk Robert,  ,  Independent
Robert Fisk Robert Fisk

Now the ā€˜flexibleā€™ and ā€˜pragmaticā€™ US President is sending a naval battle group to threaten North Korea ...

Itā€™s one thing to have a lunatic in the White House who watches late night television and tweets all day. But when the same lunatic goes to war, it now emerges, heā€™s a safer bet for democracy, a strong President who stands up to tyrants (unless they happen to be Saudis, Turks or Egyptians) and who acts out of human emotion rather than cynicism.

How else can one account for the extraordinary report in The New York Times which recorded how Trumpā€™s ā€œanguishā€ at the film of dying Syrian babies had led him to abandon ā€œisolationismā€?

Americans like action, but have typically confused Trumpā€™s infantile trigger finger with mature decision-making. What else is there to think when a normally sane US columnist like David Ignatius suddenly compares Trump to Harry Truman and praises his demented President for his ā€œflexibilityā€ and ā€œpragmatismā€? ...

Now we await the battle for Korea, forgetting that earlier war which drowned the peninsula in blood, American and British as well as Korean and Chinese. Maybe Trump, in his vague, frightening way, has decided that Southeast Asia will be his real war. And there, of course, the comparison with Truman gets rather too close to home. For Truman only came in at the end of the Second World War, after Rooseveltā€™s death, and his crowning wartime achievement was also in Southeast Asia: the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Heaven spare us the next 100 days.

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Why North Korea Needs Nukes - And How To End That

14.04.2017,   ,  ,  Moon of Alabama
To understand why North Korea fears U.S. aggressiveness consider the utter devastation caused mostly by the U.S. during the Korea War:

'Generals knew what worked. 'Practically every U.S. fighter plane that has flown into Korean air carried at least two napalm bombs,' chemical officer Townsend wrote in January 1951. About 21,000 gallons of napalm hit Korea every day in 1950. As combat intensified after China's intervention, that number more than tripled. On an 'average good day', according to Eight Army officer Donald Bode, UN pilots dropped 70,000 gallons of napalm: 45,000 from the U.S: Air Force, 10,000-12,000 by its navy, and 4,000-5,000 by marines. Factories in Japan, risen like phoenixes, manufactured $40 plastic bombshells, which held ninety to one hundred gallons of gel, and much of the chemical fillings. Later in the war a pair of converted Korean artificial smoke plants made more. Troops mixed the rest. 'It is a simple matter to mix some Napalm powder in with a barrel of gasoline, letit 'brew' for 24 hours, then pour it into a 150-gallon jettisonable fuel tank and head for any target that might present itself,' Townsend wrote. A total of 32,357 tons of Napalm fell on Korea, about double that dropped on Japan in 1945. Not only did the allies drop more bombs on Korea than in the Pacific theater during World War II - 635,000 tons, versus 503,000 tons - more of what fell was napalm, in both absolute and relative terms.

Bibilical devastation resulted. In May 1951, after President Truman relieved him from command, MacArthur testified to Congress that 'The war in Korea has already almost destroyed that nation of 20,000,000 people. I have never seen such devastation. I have seen, I guess, as much blood and disaster as any living man, and it just curdled my stomach, the last time I was there. After I looked at that wreckage and those thousands of women and children and everything, I vomited.' The former supreme commander continued, 'If you go on indefinitely, you are perpetuating a slaughter such as I have never heard in the history of mankind.'

War leveled at least half of eighteen of the North's twenty-two major cities. Pyongyang, a city of half a million people before 1950, was said to have had only two buildings left intact. LeMay, who went on to head the Strategic Air Command and became the youngest U.S. four star general since Ulysses Grant, wrote 'We burned down just about every city in North Korea and South Korea both ... we killed off over a million civilian Koreans and drove several million more from there homes, with the inevitable additional tragedies bound to ensue.' As O'Donnell, who had advocated early area attacks, told Congress on June 25, 1951, 'Oh, yes: we did it all later anyhow ... I would say that the entire, almost the entire Korean Peninsula is just a terrible mess. Everthing is destroyed. There is nothing left standing worthy of the name.'

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Piece of Cake: New Normal of Trump's Foreign Policy

13.04.2017,  Escobar Pepe,  ,  Sputnik International
Pepe Escobar Pepe Escobar

Here's the Commander-in-chief of the Beautiful Piece of Chocolate Cake School of Foreign Policy, expanding on his next move regarding North Korea.

'We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.'

As if bombing nuclear-armed North Korea would be as much of a piece of cake as Tomahawking a semi-deserted air base in Syria. But then, that's the beauty of a box of chocolates foreign policy; you never know what you're gonna get. ...

Japanese and South Korean media were hysterically reporting on the deployment of as many as 150,000 People's Liberation Army (PLA) personnel, part of the PLA's 16th, 23rd, 39th and 40th Group Armies, to the Chinese-North Korean border. These forces are not aggressive; they'd rather coordinate efforts to alleviate a refugee crisis in the ā€“ appalling ā€“ event of a Second Korea War breaking out.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense issued a sort of non-denial denial about the deployment. But the crucial element was the subsequent Xi Jinping call to Trump. Priority number one was to dissipate the swelling US corporate media narrative that Beijing would approve a US strike against North Korea (on the contrary; Beijing was seriously worried). Chinese media stressed Xi emphasizing to a volatile Trump the only possible way out is to work towards a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Priority number two was to defuse the fake news notion that Xi, facing his Tomahawk-with-chocolate-cake desert at Mar-a-Lago, had agreed to further US strikes in Syria. In his phone call, Xi once again stressed the only way out in Syria is a diplomatic solution.

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US Airstrike on North Korea Risks Leading to 5-6 Chernobyl-Type Disasters

13.04.2017,   ,  ,  Sputnik International
If Washington decides to carry out a unilateral military action against Pyongyang, the attack could lead to a nuclear disaster affecting the entire Korean Peninsula, Director of the Center of South Korean Studies at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Zhebin told Sputnik. 'Approximately 30 nuclear power plants are operational in South Korea. Several of them could be destroyed even if conventional bombs and shells are used. This could lead to five-six Chernobyl-type disasters on a relatively small area of 99 square kilometers that could instantly turn into a place unsuitable for life,' he explained.
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Prof. Michael Hudson on Hillary Clinton and the US Elections

27.10.2016,  Hudson Michael,  ,  The Real News Network

'If the direction of America is to hold on to a unipolar world - militarily, confrontational - you want a president who is the the least able to do evil, and there is no question that Trump is the lesser evil, because he is such a Narcissist ...'

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Why Growth Will Fall

18.09.2016,  Nordhaus William D.,  ,  New York Review of Books
William D. Nordhaus William D. Nordhaus

Robert Gordon has written a magnificent book on the economic history of the United States over the last one and a half centuries. His study focuses on what he calls the ā€œspecial centuryā€ from 1870 to 1970ā€”in which living standards increased more rapidly than at any time before or after. The book is without peer in providing a statistical analysis of the uneven pace of growth and technological change, in describing the technologies that led to the remarkable progress during the special century, and in concluding with a provocative hypothesis that the future is unlikely to bring anything approaching the economic gains of the earlier period. ...

A central aspect of Gordonā€™s thesis is that the conventional measures of economic growth omit some of the largest gains in living standards and therefore underestimate economic progress. A point that is little appreciated is that the standard measures of economic progress do not include gains in health and life expectancy. Nor do they include the impact of revolutionary technological improvements such as the introduction of electricity or telephones or automobiles. Most of the book is devoted to describing many of historyā€™s crucial technological revolutions, which in Gordonā€™s view took place in the special century. Moreover, he argues that the innovations of today are much narrower and contribute much less to improvements in living standards than did the innovations of the special century. ...

What of the future of economic growth? Here Gordon is a leading proponent of the view emphasizing the likelihood of ā€œsecular stagnation.ā€ There are actually two variants of the stagnation. The first, emphasized by Lawrence Summers, is ā€œdemand-sideā€: a global savings glut along with low inflation is leading to weak aggregate demand in the high-income regions. This syndrome is consistent with zero or negative interest rates in Europe and Japan.

Gordonā€™s view of stagnation is ā€œsupply-sideā€ā€”referring to a slackening in the growth of productivity rather than persistent weakness caused by the business cycle and high unemployment. His pessimism does not involve the neo-Malthusianism of groups like the Club of Rome, which foretold resource exhaustion, or concerns of those like Nicholas Stern, who sees future climate-driven catastrophes. Rather, Gordonā€™s concept of stagnation comes from his view about the slow future pace of technological change. He recognizes the perils of forecasting technological futures. But in the end he sees the slow growth of decades since 1970 shown in Figure 1ā€”not those of the special centuryā€”as the norm for the years to come. He does not argue that returning to rapid growth is impossible. Instead, he thinks that we have exhausted the major society-changing ā€œonly onceā€ inventions, and he sees no prospect that we will find a similar set of inventions of such breadth and depth in the near future.

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