Timothy Snyder Speaks, ep. 10: Pompeo or Pompeii? Climate Security is National Security

Mike
05:12
Pompeo is an interesting figure here
because Mike Pompeo who as I’m sure you
know has been the head of the CIA and is
now going to be confirmed probably to be
Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo comes into existence as part
of the energy industry when he becomes a
politician when he runs for office as a
congressman from Kansas his campaign is
funded by the Koch brothers and by other
energy lobbies to the tune of 1.1
million dollars and duly elected he
proposes that climate change is not real
when he’s confirmed as CIA director he
says that it’s a terrible mistake to say
that climate change is a problem for the
national security of the United States
however if we just look at his career a
little bit and if we look at the actual
challenges that he’ll have to confront
were the challenges that are in front of
us now we can see at a deeper level
how-how-how his his his own life shows
how false the position is so Lebanon for
example Mike Pompeo made his name by
criticizing Hillary Clinton on Lebanon
why was there a crisis in Lebanon why
was there an Arab Spring in the first
place because of the droughts because of
the droughts which created the bread
lines which created the riots
why were there droughts because of
climate change
Syria is a problem which mr. Trump can’t
wish away and which mr. Pompeo can’t
wish away why is there a problem in
Syria there are many reasons one of them
a horrifying dictator one of them is the
presence of the Russian army but one of
the root causes is that drought in Syria
destroyed what was once called the
Fertile Crescent leading to mass
migration to cities leading to civil
unrest which was one of the conditions
of the Civil War now why does this
matter because Libya and Syria are the
kinds of things which mr. Trump and mr.
Pompeo talk about and we’ll have to talk
about and the main way that US policy
could actually make a difference in
these parts of the world and in the
Muslim world generally is by having a
policy on climate change you see there’s
this odd coincidence which is that the
crescent of the world where more than a
billion Muslims live is also the place
where climate change is having the
greatest effect the fastest if one were
serious about unrest in the Muslim world
if one were really worried about
terrorism coming from the Muslim world
one would then then one would then
insist on having a policy about climate
change
if you think about foreign policy
as entertainment you’ll just let the
individual crises come you’ll drop a
bomb you’ll launch a missile you move on
to the next thing if you’re really
thinking about the Muslim world if
you’re really thinking about Muslim
terrorism as a growing threat then you
would think about climate change
the thing is climate change makes fake
problems real your your little
entertainment number becomes the real
world if you don’t address climate
change with policy Mexico is another
example right now it’s entirely
entertainment but if we continue to
desertified Mexico with climate change
there really will be waves of migrants
from the south if we continue to
desertified Mexico
Mexico City can
collapse as groundwater reserves are
taken out from under it and then there
really will be mass migration from
Mexico
to the United States do you want
to head that off if you do then you have
to be in favor of a serious policy on
climate change now the relationship
between climate change and national
security is actually even more direct
than that so who are our rivals in the
08:50
world now who are the countries that are
08:51
in the headlines
08:52
Russia in China let’s imagine that you
08:56
think that Russia is an adversary
08:58
what’s imagine that you think that
08:59
Russia does things that are not in the
09:00
national security interest the United
09:02
States what’s the most effective policy
09:04
the most effective policy would be to
09:07
develop renewable energies because the
09:09
Russian regime and every regime like it
09:12
depends precisely on the world being in
09:14
a carbon economy you get past the carbon
09:16
economy there will not be a Putin led
09:19
oligarchy or regime in Russia China the
09:23
Chinese like everybody else know that
climate change is real the Chinese
unlike us are devoting a great deal of
state investment to renewable energy
precisely with the goal of being the
people who developed the technology
which get us around this Bend into a new
energy economy is that a technological
competition that we want to lose the
only way to maintain some kind of parity
technological parity with China is to
acknowledge a real problem and then to
invest in the real solutions but it gets
09:54
even more direct than that so let’s say
09:57
you’re not concerned about these
09:58
long-term things but say you just think
10:00
are our armed forces can run out to
10:02
various spots in the world and solve
10:04
whatever problem arises okay if you want
10:06
to send the US Armed Forces out to the
10:08
world to solve various problems where do
10:10
they leave from they leave from a naval
10:12
base in Norfolk Virginia what’s the
10:14
problem with the Naval Base in Norfolk
10:15
Virginia
10:16
the rising tides the rise of sea level
10:20
because of global warming and the
10:22
melting of ice and the north and south
10:25
poles
10:25
our own major Naval Base in Norfolk
10:28
Virginia will soon not be functional who
10:32
is saying that the United States Navy is
10:36
saying that right so even if you think
10:38
that these long-term things don’t matter
10:39
and the national security is just a
10:41
matter of sending soldiers and sailors
10:43
out to hot spots in the world we’re not
10:46
going to be able to do that unless we
10:48
get our minds around climate change so
10:51
in all these ways real national security
10:54
the things that we should really be
10:56
afraid of as opposed to the
10:58
entertainment industry around national
11:00
injustice national security the things
11:02
that were made to be anxious about day
11:03
after day real national security depends
11:06
upon
11:06
thinking about everybody in the country
11:07
the country is a whole the country’s
11:09
future and that means caring about
11:11
climate change so if we if this whole
11:14
thing isn’t just a joke right this whole
11:16
thing isn’t just a performance by paid
11:18
lobbyists if the next Secretary of State
11:21
is really going to be someone who cares
11:22
about national security which one would
11:24
think would be the basic Job Description
11:26
it has to start with climate change
11:28
that’s that’s what the real national
11:30
security interest the United States are
11:31
going to have to do with thanks

A Vice President With Few Virtues

A tough new Dick Cheney biopic is triggering some conservatives. Have they learned nothing?

So instead, I am summoned to a more urgent, if distasteful, task: to try and explain why anyone in the conservative movement (or anywhere else) would want to normalize Dick Cheneylet alone flat-out cheer for him. After all, this was a man who left office with an approval rating as low as 13 percent.

.. That’s lower than Richard Nixon when he resigned, lower than Jimmy Carter when he was replaced by Ronald Reagan. It’s as low as Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression and as low as Barack Obama among Republicans and conservatives.

Even today, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both have triple the approval ratings that Cheney left office with.

.. To plagiarize what Andrew Sullivan famously said about Hillary, anyone with Cheney’s destructive track record towards his own movement should have been drummed out “under a welter of derision.”

.. We don’t have to be “ordered” to remember and revere historical figures like Reagan, MLK, and JFK, or be shamed into doing so. But who the heck did Dick Cheney ever benefit outside of the corporate-crony one percent?

  • What small, non-monopoly business did he ever give a chance to grow?
  • What did he do to improve our schools and police?
  • What did he do for balanced-budget conservatism, as he overruled Alan Greenspan and his own treasury secretary, gloating that “deficits don’t matter”?
  • How did Cheney make us more secure, with Iraq and Afghanistan all but ruined, Iran and Syria feeling stronger every day,
  • and ISIS having wrought its destruction—and with Osama bin Laden still livin’ large for two-and-a-half years after Cheney retired?
  • How do you defend someone who literally went to the Supreme Court to keep the minutes of his infamous 2001 energy task force meetings secret (they were co-chaired by Kenny-Boy Lay during the height of Enron’s rape of California’s power grid),
  • while at the same time suggesting the outing of a truly top secret CIA agent (Valerie Plame) just to get revenge on her journalist husband?
  • How did Cheney uphold Ronald Reagan’s mantra of curbing big government excesses when he justified warrantless surveillance and straight-up torture?
  • And what lasting benefit did Dick Cheney bestow on the conservative or Republican brand, with Barack Obama winning the biggest landslides since Reagan and Bush Senior?

It was my respected colleague Kelley Vlahos who solved the mystery of why some members of the Beltway press just can’t quit Cheney: “because they still won’t admit that the war was wrong.” Bingo. Expecting the U.S. to export insta-democracy to decidedly non-Western cultures? Putting overwhelmingly Christian and Jewish “viceroys” in charge of historically Muslim nations? Gee, what could possibly go wrong…

.. As chilling and thrilling as Christian Bale is as Dick Cheney, perhaps no scene in Vice is as squirmy as Richard Dreyfus’s impersonation of Cheney in Oliver Stone’s W., when he stands in front of a CGI map in the War Room and smirkingly announces, “There is no exit strategy. We STAY!” (If that scene didn’t actually take place, it might just as well have.)

.. Still, there are scenes in Vice that come close. For a biopic about a man who defined the adage “personnel is policy,” it’s fitting that director Adam McKay, who has a strong comedy background, chose actors who are known for being funny just as much as for their work in dramas. Those include Sam Rockwell as George W., Tyler Perry as Colin Powell, and Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld. (Reuniting Bale and Carell also indicates that McKay rightly sees Vice as an unofficial prequel to his financial meltdown dark farce The Big Short.) Like the aforementioned W., McKay’s Vice is a sometimes frenetic, sometimes eerily calm black comedy satire. And like Josh Brolin in W., Sam Rockwell plays George Jr. as an easily played and comical doofus. There’s no doubt in this film as to who the real president was from December 2000 to the end of 2008

.. Watching Bale as a terse, leering, manipulative young reactionary as he grindstones and plays people against each other from the late ‘60s to his Bush-Cheney heyday, one is struck by his shameless entitlement. Cheney uses movement conservatism and old boy connections as his own Uber. If Christian Bale is a slim and athletic man trapped in a fat and ugly body, Cheney sees himself as the Richelieu or Machiavelli of his own real-life movie, trapped just one step behind the real decision-makers—until he finally gets that chance to ride his horse from Aqueduct to Santa Anita.

.. The other key role among these garbage men is Amy Adams’ take-no-prisoners performance as Lynne Cheney. Mrs. Cheney had the straight-A brains and Ph.D.-level drive to be a powerful judge or executive in her own right, and was, according to Adams, a better “natural politician” than her husband. But as a card-carrying member of the Phyllis Schlafly/Anita Bryant/Beverly LaHaye-era Right from rural Wyoming, Lynne had less than zero plans to transform herself into another bra-burning icon. Instead, “she lived her [considerable] ambitions through her husband,” as Adams said. Adams even added that compared to the iron-fisted Lynne, her husband Dick might have been the “velvet glove”!

.. And as these Cheney-rehabilitating articles prove, Lynne wasn’t the only one who got off on Dick’s raw exercise of power and privilege. Watching Dick Cheney at work must have been intoxicating for a Dwight Schrute or Montgomery Burns in his small pond, for someone who coveted the kind of vulgar bullying power that Cheney wielded. It was no accident that Stephen Bannon famously and semi-humorously put Dick Cheney in his own hall of heroes, behind only Darth Vader and Satan, citing Cheney’s peerless talent at “disrupting” established orders.

.. Sorry, I’m just not there for conservative writers infantilizing Cheney and going all triggered snowflake at what big meanies the Hollywood libr’als are being to him. Christian Bale said it himself: “[Cheney’s] a big boy…he says himself he has no remorse, no regrets, he’d do everything again in a minute.” Exactly.

Another Gift for a Putin Buddy

This week, the Trump administration further eased its pressure on Rusal, Russia’s largest aluminum company, less than four months after sanctions on it and its notorious leader were imposed. Even as the White House seems willing to inflict pain on American farmers and consumers with its trade wars, Russian aluminum workers are apparently worthy of special protection.

.. Rusal is controlled by Oleg Deripaska, a member of Mr. Putin’s inner circle. As the Treasury Department acknowledges, he has been investigated for

  • money laundering and accused of
  • threatening the lives of business rivals,
  • illegally wiretapping a government official and
  • taking part in extortion and racketeering.

.. There are also allegations, made public by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, that Mr. Deripaska

  • bribed a government official,
  • ordered the murder of a businessman and
  • had links to a Russian organized crime group. During the 2016 presidential campaign,
  • Paul Manafort, then Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, tried to offer Mr. Deripaska private briefings about the campaign.

.. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he is considering lifting the sanctions altogether because they are punishing the “hardworking people of Rusal.” But Mr. Mnuchin has it backward. If he was truly concerned about Rusal’s 61,000 employees, he would not relent until the company fully washed its hands of Mr. Deripaska and the corrupt regime the aluminum giant serves.

.. Behind Mr. Deripaska’s estimated fortune of as much as $5.3 billion, there stands a great crime. During the “aluminum wars” of the 1990s, when that economic sector was consolidating in the chaotic privatization that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, the young metals trader was suspected of ties to gangsters as he seized control of huge Siberian smelters. According to testimony by a gang member in Stuttgart, Germany, part of Mr. Deripaska’s value to the group were his links to Russia’s security services. While his rivals were killed off or fled Russia, Mr. Deripaska somehow emerged as the director general of Rusal, a company that reported revenues last year of nearly $10 billion. But suspicions that the oligarch has had links to organized crime have denied him a visa to enter the United States.

.. they must do its bidding, which in Mr. Deripaska’s case meant spending more than $1 billion, through his holding company, on new infrastructure for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

Mr. Deripaska has embraced his role, stating that he does not separate himself from the Russian state.

.. Manafort tried to pitch him a plan for an influence campaign to “greatly benefit the Putin government.”

.. “Rusal’s own website says that it supplied military material to the Russian military that was potentially used in Syria.”

.. Mr. Deripaska’s holding company, hired a $108,500-a-month lobbyist to continue to negotiate with the Treasury Department. The firm he chose, Mercury Public Affairs, is the firm Mr. Manafort paid $1.1 million to lobby members of Congress on behalf of Ukraine and its then-president, Viktor Yanukovych

.. Led by David Vitter, a former Republican senator from Louisiana, Mercury has sought to enlist support from ambassadors of France, Germany and Australia, among others.

.. emanding more time to reduce the oligarch’s ownership stake in En+ from 70 percent to below 50 percent. In a July 24 filing with the Justice Department, Mercury outlined a host of calamities that might be unleashed if sanctions aren’t eased

  • The global aluminum market might suffer significant disruptions with “severe collateral damage to United States interests, allies”;
  • En+ might have to entertain a potential acquisition by “Chinese and/or other potentially hostile interests”; or
  • Mr. Deripaska might just hang on to his majority stake.

.. The specter of a fellow traveler with gangsters dictating terms to the United States government is yet another sign of the Trump administration’s inexplicable capitulation to Russia.

.. July 16 summit in Helsinki, at which President Trump and President Putin met privately for more than two hours.

We don’t know what they discussed, but given the stakes on both sides, there’s a good chance that the discussion touched on the subject of the sanctions the United States has imposed on Russia’s biggest aluminum company.

 

 

Ray McGovern On Trump/Putin Helsinki Meeting & The Shocking Treatment Of Journalist Sam Husseini

Legendary CIA analyst and political activist Ray McGovern joins Richie. www.raymcgovern.com Ray reflects on Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, both mens insistence that there was no collusion before the election, the indictment of 12 Russian spies for alleged election hacking and more. This is unmissable. Ray also chats about the appalling treatment of journalist Sam Husseini, who was forcibly removed from the press conference by hired goons, moments before it started.

What Trump Gets Wrong About EU Defense

.. he also  that this spending should eventually reach 4% of GDP. The latter proposal is a non-starter, not only because of the budgetary sacrifices it would entail, but also because it would create significant military imbalances on the continent. At 4% of GDP, Germany’s military budget would be around €40 billion ($46 billion) more than that of France.

Trump’s 2% demand is neither unfounded nor unprecedented: previous US presidents have also called on European countries to increase their defense spending. In 2014, NATO member states that were not spending 2% of their GDP on defense committed to do so by 2024.

.. it is in Europe’s interest to take responsibility for our own security. Both external and internal threats are spreading, and they are becoming more and more interconnected.

A paradigmatic example is the war in Syria: the horrible humanitarian tragedy that has afflicted the country’s population for more than seven years fueled a refugee crisis that shook the foundations of the European Union.

.. Increasing military spending will be largely unproductive unless we do it “Europeanly.” The EU’s total military budget is already second only to that of the US, and almost four times larger than Russia’s.

.. the US must not forget that other NATO member states have upheld their commitment to mutual defense and have internalized US priorities.

.. the only time that Article 5 has ever been invoked was after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US. And soon thereafter, NATO led the United Nations-mandated International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan – the longest mission in the Alliance’s history.

.. Paradoxically, while his administration demands that we Europeans take charge of our security, it consistently strives to undermine every joint defense project that we pursue.

.. Trump also objects to measures to boost the European defense industry, because they will make Europe less reliant on US exports. But, again, it makes no sense to insist that Europe become more self-sufficient while at the same time pushing it to become more dependent on American-made arms, equipment, and technology.

.. Rather than persist in his undiplomatic and unilateral crusades, Trump would be wise to treat the EU as the friend it has always been to his country

Trump’s Talk Worries Me, Like the Talk Before the Iraq War

The financial cost alone to the United States will top $3 trillion, according to the estimates of the economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, or about $24,000 per American household. Some 4,400 American soldiers died in Iraq, along with approximately 500,000 Iraqis, according to a survey and academic study.

The war helped trigger the Syria war, the genocide against the Yazidi and Middle East Christians, the rise of the Islamic State, the strengthening of Iran and a broader Sunni-Shiite conflict in the Middle East that will claim lives for years to come.

.. I have a grim feeling in my belly, a bit like I had in the run-up to the Iraq war, that we have a president who is leading us toward reckless, catastrophic conflict.

Actually, toward three reckless conflicts.

The first is not a bloody one: It’s a trade war.

.. The second conflict that Trump is hurtling toward is with Iran.

.. Unless he chooses some face-saving compromise, it looks as if Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal by May 12.

.. The risk is that Iran responds by restarting its nuclear program. This would lead to soaring tensions, the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, a risk of Saudi-Iranian conflict and a danger of war between the United States and Iran.

Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, whom Trump has nominated to be secretary of state, is very smart — and very hawkish on Iran. Moreover, Trump is considering replacing his national security adviser, H. R. McMaster, with John Bolton, who is not a mere hawk so much as a pterosaur.

.. The final risk, of course, is a war with North Korea. We may have a reprieve for a couple of months if Trump’s face-to-face with Kim Jong-un goes ahead, but I think Americans are too reassured by the prospect of a summit meeting.

.. The basic problem: There’s almost no chance that North Korea will agree to the kind of verifiable denuclearization that Trump talks about.

.. Trump’s snap decision to accept Kim’s invitation to meet underscores the risk of a mercurial president leaping into actions — which is one of the reasons we got into the mess in Iraq.

.. The temptation to fire missiles at North Korea or Iran may also be particularly great for a president seeking to distract from a Russia investigation or an outspoken porn actress.

.. Kori Schake, who worked in the Bush White House during the Iraq war, notes that Trump sometimes has spoken about North Korea the way Bush administration officials did about Iraq, and she adds: “I worry that President Trump could lead to war on the Korean Peninsula or against Iran, or by miscalculation in a number of other places where adversaries misread his intent. The president considers his unpredictability advantageous, when it is more likely to have explosive consequences.”