Authored by Tom Luongo, Governments created cryptocurrencies... Policy decisions from the most mundane regulations like pet licensure to the big ones like the bank bailouts after the fall of Lehman Bros. pushed the alliance of hard-money advocates and cryptography experts together to form Bitcoin. From its earliest days, Bitcoin advocates understood why they were spending their time developing its infrastructure. They wanted a way out of the system created by what I consider the superstructure of world capital movements. Alex Jones calls it the “Globalists,” others the “Atlanticists” and the alt-right just calls it “The Jews.” None of these are adequate descriptions of who/what this group of international power-brokers, financiers, old money, secret societies, et cetera are. But their over-arching goal is what the modern Marxists rightly identify as the accumulation of nearly unlimited power. Lacking any true moral center or humility, “The System” is nothing more than a giant capital vacuum constantly tugging at us to give up just a little bit more of ourselves to keep them from annoying us further. Gimme Some of that ol’ Time Rent Control In economics we call these types of people rent-seekers. Rent is defined as unearned wealth taken as a fee while giving lesser value or none in return. It is not a like-for-like exchange of value. Taxation is the ultimate form of rent. It’s also theft, but that’s just dispensing with childish euphemisms. The problem with rent-seeking behavior is that it creates perverse incentives within an economy, which, in turn, waste capital. The most obvious example of this is farm subsidies which prop up the price of one crop by paying farmers not to plant another crop. In lobbying to protect the lives of certain constituents (the farmers/agribusiness corp.), politicians trade the lives of other constituents who have less political pull within the government, be that government representative or otherwise. Everyone who profits along the way collects rent as either a direct consequence (the farmers and/or agribusiness) or a bribe (the politicians/bureaucrats). And now everyone who gets paid in support of this policy has a vested interest in maintaining it. From the secretary filing the paperwork and the farmer sitting on his ass to the CEO of Monsanto. This is the essence of perverse incentives and it is a cancer that eats away at the fabric of an economy. Perverse Incentives Create Perverts But, the rot goes far deeper than that. Prices are information. They transmit our desires of the moment into tangible comparisons. So, if you distort the prices of things, you distort not only the value of them but the incentives for entrepreneurs to schedule future production. People respond to incentives the same way always. They do more of that which satisfies their needs. This is why all forms of poverty reduction policy results in more poverty. It sets up the perverse incentive to not work to better yourself. These interventions also consume more capital handing that capital out than it will ever produce in future returns on it. You have to pay everyone up and down the line. To them this is free money. It simply is not as scarce as it should be relative to the effort they expended to acquire it. They will tend to waste it knowing they don’t have to work hard to get more tomorrow. In the process, they bid up the prices for those frivolous things and under-value those things that create real value. And that destroys not only their work ethic, but ultimately their self-worth while keeping capital-starved the engine of real growth which is the pool of real savings, which I’ve discussed in previous posts. Those inflated prices are transmitted through the pricing system in an ever-degrading downward spiral of capital destruction. The political class responds with more interventions, more monetary debasement to prop up prices for their partners-in-rent-seeking. This exacerbates the natural business cycle, misprices the most important commodity in any economy, the money. Money Shrugged It is this mis-pricing of money through the artificial depression of interest rates that is the most pernicious. And the whole modern financial system is based on managing these effects to extract the most rent but not collapse the system, ending the gravy train. The problem is that the amount of capital needed to prop up prices grows exponentially and eventually the whole system collapses. The debt grows to a point where servicing it consumes all the productive capital available and everything just stops. On this point, and a few others, Ayn Rand was absolutely correct. And it is why she is so thoroughly demonized by modern Progressives. Atlas Shrugged, in spite of Rand’s other pathologies, correctly describes this process. Those that see this coming and seek to protect themselves are outliers. Those whose lives are being diminished by all the rent-seeking seek alternate solutions. The productive portion of the economy is forced to run leaner, being under-capitalized. The pressure for something better intensifies and eventually spawns something brilliant. When that innovation is produced gets over-rewarded by an investment community starved of yield on their savings. This is what drives bubbles in new technology. From computers to the internet to cryptocurrencies there is a through-line of tech bubbles that exists alongside the history of this floating-exchange rate monetary system and its problems. It is the biggest rent-seeking operation in the written history of the planet. The Crypto-Boom With each major innovation in communications and computational technology the powerful have co-opted those leaps to create new forms of control to keep the system from crashing. And the technology itself drove efficiencies that pushed the seizure off for a few more years. We’ve reached that moment of collapse in a generational sense. It doesn’t have to happen today or next month or even this year. But, it is happening. Ludwig von Mises called it the “Crack-up Boom,” the final boom before the system crashes and cannot be re-inflated through money printing. And, I’m certain that cryptocurrencies, not necessarily Bitcoin, are the means to break this system as we approach the next monetary crisis. These other advances (computers, the internet) didn’t fix the underlying problem, the money. The perverse incentives created by a monetary system weren’t neutered. In fact, they made it worse. But, cryptocurrencies, properly deployed, cannot be subdued in the same way that gold was. They’re trying (and succeeding) in doing this to Bitcoin now. But, all this will do is further drive development in crypto-platforms towards privacy, security and ease of use. Watching the powerful interests, “The System” strike back against decentralization the way they have in the past three months has been illuminating. It proves me right again that these people are very smart but they aren’t very clever. They know how to stop a political opponent using some variation on the “Nuts and Sluts” technique of public shaming. It’s not working on Donald Trump, because Trump has no shame. They know how to bind down competition through erecting legal barriers-to-entry, expanding rent-seeking and money printing. And, it’s working on Bitcoin. But, it won’t work on cryptocurrencies in general. Bitcoin was produced for nearly nothing. Litecoin cost even less. Now so many of these crypto-businesses are capitalized at levels they expected five years from now. So, even a 50% to 70% haircut from peak prices puts them in a good position to continue development. So, when the next financial crisis hits and the real flood of money into the space occurs, they’ll be ready for the mass movement of capital into it. And at that point we’ll have a real fight on our hands.
It’s not just Bob Corker feuding with Trump. His Democratic wingman Ben Cardin says the rest of the Foreign Relations panel is on board to take on the president.
• Rebellion by leading athletes threatens future funding• British Gymnastics accused of creating a culture of fearBritish Gymnastics is facing a crisis with its biggest stars, including the double Olympic champion Max Whitlock, refusing to sign World Class Performance Programme contracts and being threatened with having their funding withdrawn.An internal power struggle between the performance, commercial and management teams about the content of the contract has led to a rebellion among the athletes. The Guardian understands almost all of the team which won a record seven medals at the Rio Olympics last summer have refused to sign the contract. The entire men’s artistic squad, including Whitlock who became the first Briton to defend a world title successfully last month, have refused to sign. On the women’s side, the Olympic medallist Amy Tinkler and the European champion Ellie Downie have not signed. Continue reading...
Barın Kayaoğlu Security, Middle East With ISIS gone, political realities descend upon the Middle East. So far it is the Kurds that have gotten the short end of the deal. In a closed-door meeting at a Washington think tank in July, I had the opportunity to ask a high-ranking Iraqi Kurdish official whether he worried that Kurds might be overplaying their hands in Iraq and Syria. I wondered whether regional powers couldn’t reverse the results of the September 25 independence referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Kurdish gains against ISIS in Syria. As a historian of the twentieth century, I expressed concern that the Kurds, rather than attaining their century-old dream of a national homeland, could be pushed back by their neighbors and international powers as they were in the 1920s, 1946, 1961, 1975, 1988 and 2003. My interlocutor, whose name frequently came up in recent discussions on the KRG’s independence and Kirkuk, politely dismissed my points and assured me that my worries were unfounded—especially in Iraq. He informed me and the coterie of other Middle East watchers in the room that Iraqi Kurds, now in the 26th year of their autonomy, would peacefully negotiate their independence with the federal government in Baghdad. If things turned violent, Kurds would defend themselves as they always do. Monday, October 16, 2017: The Fifteen-Hour War But on October 16, the Kurds’ famed Peshmerga army (literally “those who face death”) didn’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t defend Kirkuk, which Iraqi forces had abandoned in the face of the ISIS onslaught three and a half years ago. Around midnight, an Iraqi task force composed of regular army units, the federal police, the Counter-Terrorism Service, and the Hashd al-Shaabi militia (Popular Mobilization Units, or PMU) launched an assault to capture the oil fields, airport and the K-1 airbase west of the city. As one observer on Twitter pointed out, in the wee hours of October 16, it looked like the Iraqis aimed to capture only those areas west of Kirkuk, not the city. Read full article
Ted Galen Carpenter Security, Americas Pressing for a so-called "better" nuclear deal reflects the lack of realism that has plagued overall U.S. foreign policy in recent decades. All signs indicate that President Trump will rescind Washington’s adherence to the nuclear agreement reached between the leading international powers and Iran in 2015. That agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), placed significant restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program—at the very least greatly slowing any quest for a nuclear-weapons capability. Nevertheless, hawks in the United States have excoriated the deal from the very beginning, arguing that Iran was merely buying time and lulling a gullible Obama administration and other governments into complacency while continuing to covertly develop its nuclear capabilities. During the 2016 presidential-election campaign, Trump himself repeatedly blasted the JCPOA as the “worst deal ever negotiated.” Other opponents equated the agreement with Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Nazi Germany at Munich in 1938. The hostility to the JCPOA is merely the latest manifestation of an unhealthy lack of prudence and realism in U.S. foreign policy on so many issues. Washington’s approach is characterized too often by impossible objectives, boorish, ham-handed diplomacy, and an unwillingness to make even the most imperative concessions to achieve success. The reality is that the JCPOA was probably the best deal that the United States and the other signatories could hope to get from any Iranian government. Indeed, it is surprising that Tehran was willing to accept even those restrictions. And despite allegations from opponents that Iran is violating the terms of the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency continues to certify that Tehran is in compliance. Until now, even the Trump administration has had to concede, however grudgingly, that Iran has abided by the JCPOA’s requirements. Admittedly, the president did grouse that the Iranians were violating “the spirit” of the agreement, whatever that meant. Read full article
“This is the problem with women’s rights in Saudi Arabia—it’s always used by the political system as a negotiation card.”
Our first power rankings since the 2015 World Cup mark two years to go until Japan 2019. England lead the chasing pack while Australia and Wales struggleBefore the All Blacks’ record 57-0 victory over South Africa, Steve Hansen felt the need to defend his side’s uneven performances in 2017. The response was emphatic. It used to be the case that the All Blacks peaked at this stage of the World Cup cycle but Hansen is adamant they will improve in the next two years. Twelve months ago they struggled to maintain their remarkable form through the autumn and as they have crammed five matches into their schedule this year, an upset is not out of the question. But if New Zealand’s halos have slipped just a little – on and off the pitch – they remain the standard bearers of world rugby. Continue reading...
The sweltering heat of Saudi Arabian summer will feel like a cool breeze compared to the geopolitical fire that could soon take over the country if ongoing internal power struggles destabilize the Kingdom’s Royal Family and national security in the coming weeks. After his successful elevation to Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) has been appointed by King Salman to be in charge during his holiday to Morocco. The King’s holiday comes at a time of relative instability in the Kingdom, as the effects of the removal of former Crown…
Internal power struggle continues as supporters of leader including Clive Lewis fail to win enough support to make cutCritics of Jeremy Corbyn have won election to the party’s parliamentary committee, as the struggle between allies and opponents of the leader continues despite a new eight-point poll lead for Labour.Among those elected to the influential backbench body, which has a weekly meeting with Corbyn, were Neil Coyle, Graham Jones, Angela Smith and Ruth Smeeth. Continue reading...
In a final effort to stall a new U.S. trade and travel crackdown, Cuba pressured its ally Colombia to suggest it might boycott a Latin American security summit called by U.S. officials if President Trump went forward Friday with announcing his new policy targeting the Raul Castro government.The complicated international power play started to unfold following a national security principals meeting Tuesday, according to congressional and senior government sources.Colombia began to express misgivings about how Trump’s Cuba announcement in Miami would coincide with the two-day U.S.-led Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America that begins today, also in Miami, and suggested it might just skip out on the conference if Trump didn’t delay his announcement by a week, said an aide to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.Rubio, who has spent months quietly helping Trump craft his plans to restrict trade and travel with Cuba, was “appalled” at the news — although he knew the White House wouldn’t succumb to any threats for a delay, his aide said.Rubio nevertheless counseled the White House to send a message to the government run by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos: the actions were jeopardizing the $450 million “Peace Colombia” initiative that President Obama pushed, but that remains in limbo under Trump. The underlying peace deal was negotiated with the Castro government, which has influence with the Colombian revolutionary guerilla group known as FARC. “Let me get this right: Santos is coming to us and asking for $400 million to fund his flawed peace plan, but he is threatening to pull out of an event that’s not even about them? It’s about El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,” the senator told the White House, according to the Rubio aide. A U.S. government official familiar with the flare up confirmed the broad outlines of the situation described by Rubio’s office. Neither spoke on the record out of concern that it would upset either the Colombians or senior White House officials.An aide to another Miami Republican who’s advising Trump on Cuba policy, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, confirmed that the congressman got wind of the controversy and had his office call Colombia’s embassy to tell the country to stay out of the Cuba matter or face “consequences.”Rubio, who was informed of the Colombia situation in a call from the White House during the tail end of a Tuesday Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, went a step further. During a conversation that took place on his cellphone from the back of the committee room, Rubio said he would be at a press conference about Cuba on Friday — either with Trump announcing a rollback of Obama’s policies or holding a press conference with Castro-hating exiles from Venezuela and Cuba and with former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe to denounce his successor, Santos.“You’re going to ruin your Friday either way,” Rubio told the White House official, according to his aide. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus called later to make it clear to him that the White House had no intention of backing off its Friday announcement.Rubio’s office did not speak directly to Colombian officials and there’s some suspicion within the Cuban exile community that U.S. government career service staff, who oppose dis-engagement from Cuba, might have exaggerated the degree to which Colombia was serious about not attending the Miami summit.The behind-the-scenes tension and last-minute multilateral drama underscored the depth of the Cuban government’s fears that Trump will make good on his campaign promise to rollback Obama’s December 2014 decision to thaw relations with Cuba after decades of Cold War-era hostilities. The embargo remains in effect, but Obama loosened regulations and business restrictions to such a degree that more U.S. money has flowed to the island than ever before. But Trump, Rubio and Diaz-Balart say the level of repression has increased and the Cuban government hasn’t allowed enough financial prosperity to trickle down to the Cuban people. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to negotiate a better deal. But for months, nothing appeared to be happening, leading to doubts that the president would follow through.Then, after POLITICO and The Miami Herald reported last week that Trump would make his announcement this Friday, business and trade groups that support more commerce with Cuba ratcheted up their lobbying and public pressure campaigns, writing letters and warning of economic troubles and setbacks if Trump sought to alter the terms.The Cuban government, however, began sending messages through the news media and diplomatic channels that it was ready to negotiate. But Cuban officials claimed that a return to pre-Obama Cuba policies would hurt efforts to combat drug traffickers who have exploited immigrant smuggling routes through the Straits of Florida.Those twin issues — drug trafficking and immigration — are top concerns of the Trump administration and underpin the call for today’s Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America involving the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The summit was called by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and is co-hosted with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and their Mexican counterparts. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to make an appearance as well later today.While the United States is determined to see the summit to go off without a hitch, the Trump White House is more committed to following through on promises to tighten restrictions on Cuba, said a White House spokesperson familiar with the plan. “Never has there been any consideration of the White House canceling this event based on any international pressure,” said the spokesperson.
The late actor’s impact on the Rolling Stones was dramatic, influencing the way they looked, the circles they moved in and even their internal power structureThe most famous passage in Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life, concerns the writing of Gimme Shelter. It is perhaps the most celebrated and visceral song among the catalogue of Rolling Stones tracks that appeared to soundtrack the curdling of the 1960s counterculture: an “end-of-the-world song”, as Mick Jagger once described it; a haunting, spectral guitar figure that builds into a brutal, muscular riff, topped with phantasmagorical visions of war, flood, rape and streets burning “like a red coal carpet”. But, Richards revealed, its apocalyptic mood had prosaic roots. He wrote the song while his then-partner Anita Pallenberg was out filming her most celebrated acting role, opposite Mick Jagger in Donald Cammell and Nick Roeg’s Performance. Richards was convinced the film’s love scenes weren’t simulated and that Pallenberg and Jagger were having an affair. In one of literature’s great examples of protesting too much, Richards spends the best part of six pages claiming he wasn’t upset by Pallenberg’s infidelity, a claim undermined by the bitterness that seeps through every page 40 years on – Cammell was “a pimp”, Performance “third-rate porn”, Jagger had a “tiny todger” – and through Gimme Shelter itself. Whatever else it may be, it doesn’t sound like the work of a man who wasn’t bothered. Continue reading...
THROWDOWN THURSDAY: COMEY’s legacy day -- TRUMP leaves hole in schedule during hearing -- THE RNC’S TALKING POINTS and 'suggested tweets' for today’s big event -- SPOTTED at Trump Int’l hotel -- B’DAY: Barbara Bush
We are told that James Comey will, at times, go beyond what he wrote in his statement.
Good Thursday morning. GET READY FOR THROWDOWN THURSDAY. James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intel Committee starts at 10 a.m. Today all the networks and all the cables will be live -- with a few of them offering up live streams for free online. And if James Comey’s much buzzed about statement is any indication of his savvy and willingness to dish, Trump will be more than tweeting today. He’ll be seething. Comey’s statement http://bit.ly/2rMG1bKFOLLOW POLITICO’s two reporters in the hearing room (Hart 216) today: Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) and Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney).THE PRESIDENT’S THURSDAY -- Trump speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to the Majority Conference at 12:15 p.m., and then will host governors and mayors at the White House for an infrastructure summit at 3:30.-- NOTES: The president has nothing before his 12:15 speech. Some of the newsiest bits of the hearing will be at the top. THE PRESS BRIEFING TODAY is with Sarah Huckabee Sanders and it will be off camera. Speaker Paul Ryan is holding his weekly press conference at 11:30 a.m. today in the Capitol.REMEMBER THIS -- Comey isn’t constrained by traditional political considerations. Today will shape his legacy. Our reporting tells us that members of Congress don’t expect him to accuse the president of a crime, but expect him to be extremely open about what transpired behind closed doors. We are told that he will, at times, go beyond what he wrote in his statement. THE BIG PICTURE -- NYT, A18 -- “Comey’s Political Shrewdness Is on Display in Tussle With Trump,” by Peter Baker and Glenn Thrush: “The morning, at least, seemed to go reasonably well for President Trump. He announced a new F.B.I. director, and two intelligence chiefs told Congress the president had never pressured them to interfere in the investigation into Russian election meddling.“And then James B. Comey … dropped the hammer. By authorizing the immediate release of the opening statement he plans to give in his much anticipated appearance before a congressional committee on Thursday, he instantly changed the conversation back to his assertion that the president tried to shut down part of the F.B.I. investigation.“Mr. Trump may be relatively new to Washington, but Mr. Comey is not. A savvy veteran of the capital who has worked in high positions in multiple administrations, he has usually emerged on top in any internal power struggle. And in the month since his dismissal, Mr. Comey has shown why presidents are normally loath to fire F.B.I. directors.” http://nyti.ms/2sGpeXFTHE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE sent an email at 9:56 p.m. last night to people around town with the subject line: “Talking Points and Digital Packet for Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing.” The first item under “top takeaway” is “President Trump feels completely and totally vindicated by Former FBI Director James Comey’s opening testimony and is eager to move forward.” It includes a “suggested tweets” section. The RNC talking points http://politi.co/2sGgWPA … WSJ: RNC says they’ve dedicated 60 aides to the pushback effort. http://on.wsj.com/2s6pNx0THE COUNTER ATTACK -- “West Wing aides fearful of directly attacking Comey: The White House has outsourced its counter-messaging effort during Comey’s testimony, as aides try to avoid more personal legal risk,” by Matt Nussbaum, Josh Dawsey, Darren Samuelsohn and Tara Palmeri: “‘It’s fair to say a storm is coming,’ one administration source said. ‘We’re boarding up the windows for the impending hurricane.’ ... The [RNC] is taking the lead in the response and has prepared a surrogate operation. ... Two former Trump White House officials — former deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh and former communications director Mike Dubke — are helping coordinate the effort. Press secretary Sean Spicer was at the RNC on Wednesday as preparations took place. ... For official comment, the White House has directed all questions to the office of Trump’s outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz.“Kasowitz’s office, in turn, has directed inquiries to Emily Thall, the law firm’s director of business development and marketing. On Tuesday, Thall declined to comment in a brief conversation with POLITICO about Comey testimony. By Wednesday, inquiries to Thall were met with an automatic response: She would be out of the office on vacation until next week. By Wednesday night, Kasowitz’s firm had retained longtime political communications pro Mark Corallo to handle media inquiries.” http://politi.co/2rY3CYYQUOTE OF THE DAY – From the quadruple-byline story: “White House aides are trying to keep Trump busy Thursday morning with meetings so he won’t watch TV and tweet during the hearing. ‘But if he wants to watch it, it’s not like we can say, ‘oh, the TV doesn’t work,’’ one official said.”HOW IT’S PLAYING -- HUFFPOST banner, “COMEY BEFORE THE STORM” … DRUDGE as of 6 a.m., “MAY DAY” (about the UK election) … N.Y. POST, “‘I EXPECT LOYALTY’” http://nyp.st/2sGrBtM … N.Y. DAILY NEWS, “DON’S PLEA: COVERUP” http://nydn.us/2simZwi … EVEN TMZ IS IN ON THE ACTION -- They have videos of Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) (http://bit.ly/2qYQTBX) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) (http://bit.ly/2s7kyNv).
Al Jazeera World - Lebanon: Fighters to Bikers This is the story of four bikers who fought on different sides of the Lebanese Civil War but who’ve now found friendship and a common cause in the local Harley-Davidson Club – which they founded. The fifteen-year war between 1975 and 1990 divided communities along sectarian lines, split a country and left deep scars. George Greige is Maronite, Marwan Tarraf Shia, Jamal Kahwaji Sunni and Ghassan Haider is Druze. The four now reflect on the senselessness of war, the dangers of power and greed; and their common passion for their saving grace…the Harley. They say they fought in the war not out of deep personal conviction but because they felt they had to pick a side and defend themselves. “At a crucial age we found ourselves in an atmosphere of war,” explains Ghassan Haidar. “We had to take part in the war to protect ourselves. Everyone was armed, regardless of their age. So why not us?” The war involved a mix of local, irregular militias, both Muslim and Christian – as well as the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) which arguably also drove a wedge between communities. The different factions were backed by regional and international powers that flooded the country with arms. More from Al Jazeera World on: YouTube - http://aje.io/aljazeeraworldYT Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AlJazeeraWorld Twitter - https://twitter.com/AlJazeera_World Visit our website - http://www.aljazeera.com/aljazeeraworld Subscribe to AJE on YouTube - http://aje.io/YTsubscribe
Gabriel Glickman Security, Middle East In June 1967 there was at first impression a clear picture on the ground in the Middle East after six days of war: Israel had taken possession of large swaths of Jordanian, Syrian and Egyptian territory; Israeli tourists were crossing the border into previously off-limit Palestinian neighborhoods; Egyptian soldiers, some barefoot, were running in retreat through the Sinai desert to get across the Suez Canal; the scattered remnants of Egypt’s artillery and tanks littered a desert landscape that for three tense weeks had housed the operations of the most powerful Arab military in the modern world. A possible resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, one that could be brokered by the United States, appeared in the offing: Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser was on state television announcing his abdication of power due to a spectacular defeat by Israel; President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that Israel was, for the first time ever, in a powerful position to bargain for its security and to establish an unprecedented peaceful coexistence with its regional neighbors; while the Soviet representative to the United Nations looked foolish telling the security council that Israel had acted like Hitler and committed an illegal war to expand its national territory. These were the scenes of the day. But if there was anything more surprising than Israel’s quick routing of the Arab armies from all three sides of its borders in only six days, it was the throngs of Egyptians crowding the streets and crying for Nasser to retain his position at the helm of Egypt—even though enemy Israeli soldiers had gathered at the edge of Egypt’s legendary Suez Canal. Indeed, the Arab dictator, notwithstanding that he oversaw one of the greatest catastrophes to befall the Arab nationalist movement, was still seen as the best chance to protect the Arab heartland from further Western incursion. To be sure, in the eyes of the Arabs, Israel had delivered a setback to longtime plans for the liberation of Palestine, but the Jewish state could never be allowed to win the larger struggle. The Lyndon B. Johnson administration had painstakingly avoided taking Israel’s side during the three-week crisis leading up to the war. Some officials even saw it as America’s duty to take both sides and prevent war. Secretary of State Dean Rusk sent out a circular memo to all U.S. ambassadors in the Middle East, declaring, “We cannot throw up our hands and say that, in that event, let them fight while we try to remain neutral.” Beginning with the Kennedy administration in 1961, the United States had given massive amounts of economic aid to Egypt in order to turn Nasser inward—and away from Moscow. To walk away from all that in support of Israel seemed reckless to Johnson’s officials. Not surprising, after the war, Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol was frustrated with the Johnson administration. He said they promised “great things” to protect Israel in the face of a growing Arab encirclement from May 14 to June 4, but the expected support never materialized. Instead, the Johnson administration focused its efforts on how to stave off war and keep both sides content with the United States. The only problem was, Nasser was running things on the ground. And he had no intention of rewarding the United States for its diplomatic efforts. Indeed, it was only a few days previous to Nasser’s bogus “resignation” that acts of destruction in a little noticed sideshow to the Six-Day War quietly unfolded across the Middle East, which was representative of the dictator’s sweeping influence over the region. A majority of the American consulates and embassies in the Middle East were sacked. Nasser had labeled the United States as a co-conspirator with Israel because of its refusal to choose a side. Neutrality had backfired. This simultaneous destruction of American diplomatic property in such a short timespan was—and still is—unprecedented. More interesting is the fact that the extent of this event has gone unmentioned in history books about the war. The American consulates in Port Said and Alexandria were attacked by mobs, with the staff of the latter being forced to seek refuge in a locked vault. A similar scenario occurred at the embassy in Benghazi, where staff resorted to using tear gas in order to keep the mob at bay and from reaching the vault. The mission in Aleppo fared no better. The staff reportedly slid down a rope to escape a fire that eventually consumed the entire building. Likewise, American and British workers were forced to evacuate an oil refinery in Banyas. In Baghdad, the American library was ransacked. And in Basra, the empty mission compound was broken into and subsequently damaged by a mob. That such hostility translated into attacks against the American missions is hardly surprising in light of Nasser's hostility towards America in the run-up to the war. Local newspaper reports of “British-American-Israeli” collusion did little to quell an already stirred up population from lashing out at the nearest symbols of “American imperialism.” It was the opinion of American officials that the relative ease at which Egyptian soldiers decisively maintained their security posts outside of the American embassy in Cairo suggested that high-level orders were issued for the sackings at the other missions. Indeed, it was also the opinion of the American ambassador to Cairo that a controlled fire at the Alexandria consulate had been orchestrated by the Egyptian authorities themselves. At the end of the Six-Day War, Nasser remained defiant against the United States. He formally broke off diplomatic relations, and invited Soviet military advisors into Egypt. It didn’t matter that the United States had kept his regime afloat for the better part of the 1960s while he spent Egypt’s dwindling cash reserves on a disastrous expedition in Yemen—dubbed “Nasser’s Vietnam.” These competing snapshots of Nasser, a humbled leader in defeat versus an ambitious tyrant lashing out at an international power, demonstrate the limited capabilities of superpower nations like the United States. Though they may have unmatched military, economic and political strength, local leaders like Nasser can wreak havoc. Foreign policy is a goal. Strategy is the way to achieve that goal. But sometimes this means nothing in the international arena. Superpower nations beware: local strongmen may trample at will. Gabriel Glickman holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies from King’s College London. He is currently working on a book provisionally titled Western Historiography of the Six-Day War: Rethinking the Road to War. Image: Israeli artillery fires on Syrian positions during the Arab-Israeli War. Flickr/Central Intelligence Agency
They are veteran Syrian rebels who for years tried to bring down President Bashar Assad. These days they’re doing little fighting with his forces as they struggle to find a place in Syria’s bewildering battlefield, where several wars are being waged at once.
They are veterans of Syria’s rebellion, trying for years to bring down President Bashar Assad. But these days they’re doing little fighting with his military. They’re struggling to find a place in a bewildering battlefield where several wars are all being waged at once by international powers.