By COURTENAY BARNETT
A friend recently made this observation and he got me thinking. So I replied in a fulsome manner to put the jig-saw pieces together to see if there was an actual rational and/or understandable picture to be seen. He said to me:-
“My issue with all this is even when you look at their thesis and find it wanting, they still get what they want, namely more spending on arms and no cordial meetings between Trump and Putin because ‘Russia interfered in our elections’.”
As I understand it the military-complex/Pentagon at some time in the past would be subject to audits of military budget/expenditures, but somehow the law was changed and for reasons of ‘national security’ there was no longer proper accounting and/or any Congressional oversights permitted. I can’t recall any General ever having been called on in a thorough process to give a detailed account of what ‘x’ or ‘y’ billion went to. Last time was the $600 ashtrays, as I recall it ( since if they didn’t use all the budgetary allocation then the next cycle would see reduced allocation). Maybe it was about then that legislatively they said f… that and changed the law. So, you end up with endless military expenditure – but the US is digging its own economic grave. Let me explain.
‘Money’ is but a representative functioning utility. Meaning that it has to be backed by something tangible – gold – precious metal – goods – actual services of value provided to hold its real value. In the absence of that – like Mugabe in Zimbabwe – the country ultimately realises that not just the printing press can be relied on to make a country rich, viable and “great again”. America is doing what I call ‘a Mugabe’. It is actually engaged in ‘voodoo economics’ Why so?
Since post World War 11 the US inherited from the Pound Sterling the world’s reserve currency and then it found itself through the global trade and monetary system actually able to export its inflation – and for decades has been doing that. However, what my economics professors, who were not inclined to the then guru of ‘monetarism’, Professor Milton Friedman of the University Chicago, taught me is that the underlying economic principles remained constant and still operated even if deferred. What am I implying?
Fast forward to the Obama administration and the 2008 crisis in the US. What happened? The so-called quantitative easing ( printing money in endless quantities) ‘Mugabe approach’ as endorsed by Wall Street kicked in – in a massive and unprecedented manner. The crooks on Wall Street who committed financial crimes to enrich themselves and bring the American economy to its knees had bought and paid for Obama to do their financial bidding in their interest. He facilitated Wall Street by returning newly printed money to the very folks who caused the crisis ( look for examples at derivatives or phony unsecured mortgages for processes doomed to financial failure from the onset of implementation). Again, one does not have to have studied economics ( I did) to understand in a logical manner what happens when transactions unbacked by tangibles are relied upon as backing for business transactions. So, money from the US tangibly backed by tax payers’ productivity is extracted and given to the financial ‘banksters’. That is what happened in the 2008 financial crisis. What next?
Well there has been the Quantitative Easing 1 and 11 and more. However, there are limits and the printing cannot continue to infinity. The US thinks, because of its world reserve currency, it can continue. Not so; why so?
As this monetary printing process continues it exponentially balloons the deficit. That debt at some stage has to be paid or it shall impact the real economy in ways which are economically devastating for the American people. The day of reckoning has been forestalled by the 1972 petro-dollar recycling agreement with Saudi Arabia and China’s buying of US Treasury Bonds, that cushions US military overspending. This relates to and reflects on the international politics in operation. So, Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist, is chopped up at the order of the Saudi leader and there is not a pip from the US about this – simply not economically/ financially expedient so to complain on any human rights and/or decent basis. China is slapped with tariffs on all of Chinese produced goods imported into the US (in effect the US consumers are forced, yet again, to absorb the cost for the imprudent management of the macro-economic situation of the US economy). To put things more starkly, the real political fall- out is the ongoing prospect of war being unleashed into the world for reasons of US economic panic and again imprudent decisions being made by the Trump Administration. Can we now examine the ‘ logic’ in economic play under Trump?
Lessons in logic 101
Iran: There was a deal in place, ‘The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action –JCPOA’ to curtail and restrain Iran from producing nuclear weapons that was internationally agreed and verified under UN scrutiny occurring for the Obama Administration via the P5+1 (the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China—plus Germany) and the European Union) – an impressive grouping of international powers if one ever saw one. What does the Trump administration subsequently do? There is a unilateral walk out from the deal and simultaneously Iran is blamed – despite the fact that Iran is monitored by UN inspections which confirm that Iran is in compliance and just like the Iraq WMDs inspired war – the US proclaims – oh no! – while the drums of war beat. Is Iran oil rich? Credible under international law? Makes sense? Logical?
Venezuela: There is an election with 16 political parties participating. Prior to the election the incumbent President, Nicholas Maduro, did offer to have international observers present and the man who refused was one Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez who boycotted the election and then post-election proclaims himself President. The US rejects ‘logically’ the elected President and tells the Venezuelan people that they cannot accept the elected President and that the only President is their ( the US) appointed President. No doubt with financial inducements added the US persuades some 50 nations to echo and agree with this call. So, does that still not leave over two-thirds of the world’s nations and UN member states in disapproval of the US choice of appointed President? Oh – speaking also of meddling and interference in a sovereign nation’s political processes and internal affairs – duh – huh? Is Venezuela oil rich? Credible under international law? Makes sense? Logical?
Russia: And so, finally to my friend’s observation. There is a link between the Hillary Clinton allegation of DNC hack; the death of Seth Rich a young DNC employee; computer leak versus alleged Russian computer hacking ( i.e. there is a distinction between a computer leak and a computer hack as someone of the stature of the former technical head in the NSA could examine, verify and credibly explain). So, NSA technical computer expert – Bill Binney; Julian Assange; the Muller investigation and report; and logical reasons why Robert Mueller failed to interview the best available insider witness to events – namely Binney – and likewise – the best outsider witness to the alleged Russian hacking – namely Julian Assange ( both of whom were readily available and willing to explain from the inside and from the outside – what they actually knew and could actually verify of the said Russian allegation). After all, it was Assange through his WikiLeaks organization who actually was the recipient of the US classified information. So, why didn’t Mueller interview him? Again, Mueller declined to interview those two very relevant witnesses and ‘logically’ came to his own conclusions.
Simply put – when one looks at the overall situation the US economy finds itself in – with advantages for reason of its world reserve currency status; its voluntarily created military-industrial complex over-reach; and consequential over-expenditure and further consequential ballooned national debt; one then begins to understand the logic of President Trump’s ‘rational irrationality’ manifest in the inherent features of the economic policy responses to a US ( and by extension – global) unfolding crisis.
* COURTENAY BARNETT is a graduate of London University. His areas of study were economics, political science and international law. He has been a practising lawyer for over thirty years, has been arrested for defending his views, has been subjected to death threats, and has argued public interest and human rights cases. He lives and works in the Caribbean.