Because the sectarian divide is set to become the key geopolitical issue in the weeks and months ahead, we thought it an opportune time to present the following map from Goldman which does a nice job of delineating the Sunni-Shiite split in the Mid-East.
There’s really one supreme element of this story that you must keep in view at all times: a society (i.e. an economy + a polity = a political economy) based on debt that will never be paid back is certain to crack up. Its institutions will stop functioning. Its business activities will seize up. Its leaders will be demoralized. Its denizens will act up and act out. Its wealth will evaporate. Given where we are in human history - the moment of techno-industrial over-reach - this crackup will not be easy to recover from. Things have gone too far in too many ways. The coming crackup will re-set the terms of civilized life to levels largely pre-techno-industrial. How far backward remains to be seen.
Earlier in 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he found it difficult to understand what Russia was doing in Syria, since "it does not even border Syria." By that logic, Turkey should not be "doing anything" in the Palestinian territories, Somalia, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan or any of the non-bordering lands into which its neo-Ottoman impulses have pushed it.
Elections, elections, and more elections is the 'regime change' meme for 2016 but, as Bloomberg details, the key events of the year ahead vary from a California marijuana referendum to Brazil's Olympics, and from Davos to SCOTUS. No matter what, 2016 holds a lot of opportunity for volatility, and without The Fed's safety net, who knows what that means for markets...
In 2015, the iron fist of power clamped down on humanity, from warfare to terrorism to surveillance, police brutality, and corporate hegemony. The environment was repeatedly decimated, the health of citizens was constantly put at risk, and the justice system and media alike were perverted to serve the interests of the powers that be. However, while 2015 was discouraging for more reasons than most of us can count, many of the year’s most underreported stories evidence not only a widespread pattern that explicitly reveals the nature of power, but pushback from human beings worldwide on a path toward a better world.
"In March, I introduced a federal budget amendment that would impose a temporary surtax to pay for our military operations against ISIS. When the Senate reconvenes in 2016, I again plan to explore this option."
James Madison, the father of the Constitution, put it best: “Take alarm,” he warned, “at the first experiment with liberties.” Anyone with even a casual knowledge about current events knows that the first experiment on our freedoms happened long ago. Worse, we have not heeded the warnings of Madison and those like him who understood that if you give the government an inch, they will take a mile. Unfortunately, the government has not only taken a mile, they have taken mile after mile after mile after mile with seemingly no end in sight for their power grabs. All of the signs point to something nasty up ahead.
Even though the odds are never in our favor, there is still hope. Not everyone has to make the extreme sacrifice in order to contribute to the revolution. There are thousands of small acts which will weaken the establishment: "Don’t be a slave to debt. Live beneath your means and accumulate some physical silver and gold. Don’t vote for candidates selected by the vested interests. Spread the message of liberty and freedom to anyone who will listen. Think critically. Do not trust your government. Prepare for the inevitable collapse of this rotten, fetid, corrupt paradigm."
It’s all here: unilateral Exceptionalistan in action against anyone who dares to defy imperial diktats. From Ukraine to Syria, and all across MENA (Middle East and North Africa), the proxy war between Washington and Moscow, with higher and higher stakes, won’t abate. Imperial despair over the irreversible Chinese ascent also won’t abate. As the New Great Game picks up speed, and Russia supplies Eurasian powers Iran, China and India with missile defense systems beyond anything the West has, get used to the new normal; Cold War 2.0 between Washington and Beijing-Moscow.
Amid ISIS' spread, with NATO troops pulling out, and local law enforcement agencies ill-equipped and underfunded, Afghanistan has once again become the frontline in the so-called "War On Drugs." As Al-Jazeera reports, Afghanistan's poppy fields, which feed the habits of drug addicts worldwide, are thriving, with cultivation of the crop hitting record highs last year. The number of Afghan addicts is soaring, and with the Taliban funded by the drug trade, security fears are paramount; but Afghan authorities are struggling to control the resurgence in poppy farming.
101 years after the Christmas truces along the Western Front there is still no peace on earth. And the long suffering American taxpayers, who foot the massive bills generated by the War Party’s demented and destructive policies, have no clue that Imperial Washington is the principal reason.
Having been placed in Afghan "isolation" largely for the duration of his stay, surely his captors were fascinated by his breadth of insight about American culture and would love to pick his brain at every possible opportunity. Indeed, Bergdahl said guards who were assigned to watch him were often bored by the job, and would pass the time by interrogating him.Adn what, according to Berghdal, was the most pressing question on their mind? "They ask you, is Obama gay and sleeps with men?
"...the march towards secularism and freedom is not inevitable. In fact, it’s problematic because we have a situation where every year the West becomes more secular, open, tolerant and liberal while many parts of the Muslim world are going the other way. So it would seem that we might be moving towards a head-on collision of some sort... In most Muslim countries the majority of people are tolerant. They want to live in a more inclusive society and have a more liberal religious doctrine. The problem is that Islam seems to have been hijacked by a vocal minority of people who are prepared to use violence to advance their very intolerant and conservative version of Islam."
U.S. Senator Rand Paul today released a special ‘Festivus: Airing of Grievances for 2015’ edition of ‘The Waste Report,’ - an ongoing project cataloguing egregious examples of waste within the U.S. government.
The fight against ISIS makes for some strange bedfellows. “The Taliban interest objectively coincides with ours. We've already said earlier that we and the Taliban have channels for exchanging information."