How the United States Could Lose a Great-Power War
The U.S. military is focused on future fights against China and Russia—but it could be playing right into their hands.
BY ELBRIDGE COLBY, DAVID OCHMANEK | OCTOBER 29, 2019, 11:12 AM
The U.S. armed forces are now preparing for an age of great-power competition and rightly so. The 2018 National Defense Strategy shows the Defense Department is focused on the threats posed by Russia and especially China to U.S. interests, allies, and established partners such as Taiwan.
For now, U.S. forces appear poorly postured to meet these challenges. That’s because both Russia and China have developed formidable networks of missiles, radars, electronic warfare systems, and the like to degrade and potentially even block U.S. forces’ ability to operate in the Western Pacific and Eastern Europe to defend allies and partners in those regions. China in particular is developing increasingly impressive capabilities to project military farther afield, including through systems such as aircraft carriers, long-range aviation, and nuclear-powered submarines. Together, these forces have tilted the military balance over places such as Taiwan and the Baltic states from unquestioned U.S. dominance to something much more competitive.
The question is what to do about it. Left unchecked, China or Russia may seek to exploit these advantages to coerce or even conquer U.S. allies or Taiwan. In response, some influential voices in the government are suggesting strategies of horizontal escalation or cost imposition—approaches that would enlarge the battlefield to go after things the other side values beyond the original zone of fighting. Indeed, there are strains of such arguments in some official documents coming from quarters of the Pentagon, motivated by hopes of fending off proposals that would threaten their Command’s place in the packing order or disrupt their Service’s carefully crafted investment plans or ways of operating. Likewise, some theorists with influence in parts of the defense establishment promote such strategies in the form of proposals for “offshore balancing” or “offshore control...”
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
Are Russia and China the Entente Cordiale of the 21st Century?
By Franz-Stefan Gady for the EastWest Institute
In September, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Western Command sent 1,600 troops, aircraft, tanks and other hardware to participate in this year's strategic exercise of the Russian Armed Forces. Dubbed Center-2019 (Tsentr-2019), the exercise took place from Sept. 16 to Sept. 21 in Russia's Central Military District and in neighboring Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.
The large PLA contingent was yet another indicator of the growing military ties between Beijing and Moscow and highlighted a warming trend in the military-to-military relations between the countries. The Russian military's strategic exercise the year before, Eastern-2018 (Vostok-2018), was not only the largest Russian military exercise in almost four decades, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, but also included the largest PLA contingent participating in Russian-led military drills to date: More than 3,500 PLA personnel, 900 pieces of heavy weaponry and 30 fixed-wing aircraft from the PLA's Northern Theater Command took part in the exercise, which simulated inter-state warfare.
The most notable feature of this year's Center-19, next to the participation of Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Collective Security Treaty Organization member states — India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — has also been the emphasis on high-intensity combat and inter-state conflict. Although the Russian Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, stressed that the exercise was principally focused on "counter-terrorist" operations, the drill included repelling enemy airstrikes and counter-attacks against a conventionally armed state to the southwest of Russia. In other words, China and Russia are practicing to jointly defeat a nation-state enemy, if only at a minuscule scale.
It is another sign that the two countries may slowly be moving toward a de-facto Entente Cordiale, the 1904 Anglo-French agreement that paved the way for France and the United Kingdom to become allies against Germany and the Central Powers during the First World War. Just like France and Britain over a century ago, China and Russia are not treaty allies nor do they have any explicit defense commitments to come to the aid of one another if attacked. Nonetheless, pressured to cooperate by a perceived to be increasingly hostile United States, they, like France and the United Kingdom at the turn of the 19th/20th century, are slowly ending their mutual antagonism, despite divergent and conflicting interests, to jointly confront a common competitor...
India: North Korean Malware Found in Recent Hacking Attempt of Nuclear Power Plant
Oct 31, 2019 | 16:23 GMT
What Happened: Malware linked to North Korean state actors was used in the hacking of India's Kudankulam nuclear power plant first reported in September, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. said Oct. 30. The organization added that critical information wasn't compromised, although an independent analyst said a second undisclosed facility was compromised. Separately, North Korea test-fired two short-range devices on Oct. 31 into the Sea of Japan. The projectiles traveled for 370 kilometers (230 miles) at a maximum altitude of 90 kilometers.
Why It Matters: Although it remains unclear whether the hack originated from North Korean actors or was deliberately targeting the plant, the attack may have been an attempt to obtain relevant knowledge for North Korea's civilian nuclear program to fuel economic development and energy independence. North Korea's 12th weapons test of 2019 came amid a breakdown of working-level talks with the United States in early October.
Background: The weapons test coincides with a South Korean military exercise that kicked off Oct. 28. Seoul and Pyongyang have been at odds in the past week over the fate of a joint tourism zone after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the partial demolition of the site last week.
Germany to tighten hate speech law to fight far-right violence
New measures will also include tougher rules on gun ownership and increasing funding for deradicalization programs.
BERLIN — The German government is set to beef up the country's online hate speech law as part of a broader set of measures to crack down on right-wing political violence.
"We're devastated by the most recent events this year," German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht told a news conference Wednesday, referring to the murder of a regional politician by a suspected neo-Nazi in June as well as a shooting rampage outside a synagogue and kebab shop earlier this month, which was streamed online and left two dead.
"But we can't just stop at being devastated," Lambrecht added.
The measures approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government this morning will further toughen up the country's hate speech law known as NetzDG, which was passed two years ago and is considered one of the strictest in the world.
The new measures will require social media providers to proactively inform law enforcement about illegal content such as death threats or the incitement of hatred on their platforms; currently, they only have to do so once victims have officially filed charges...
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
To End the War in Afghanistan, the U.S. Reaches Out to Its Rivals
- The prospects of a U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan has compelled both China and Russia to take a more active role in the peace negotiations.
- In doing so, Moscow and Beijing are also forging stronger relations with the Taliban, which the United States will try to leverage to ensure the insurgents uphold their end of an eventual peace deal.
As the United States searches for an exit from Afghanistan, its outreach to China and Russia points to its rivals' growing influence in shaping the endgame to its longest-ever conflict. On Oct. 25, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visited Moscow to discuss reviving the Afghan peace process with Russian, Chinese and Pakistani officials. China is also expected to host Taliban and Afghan government officials for talks next month.
A political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban remains the ultimate goal of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. And if and when that settlement is reached, it will likely include the insurgents joining a future power-sharing agreement in Kabul, which has, in turn, prompted China and Russia to establish stronger relations with the Taliban as well to advance their own counterterrorism objectives in the country. But as long as the United States maintains a military presence in Afghanistan, the prospects for lasting peace in the war-torn country will ultimately remain in Washington's hands. Though that doesn't mean Moscow and Beijing's growing ties with the Taliban won't come in handy, as it could help the United States build a regional consensus behind its Afghan peace process...
Afghanistan’s Last Jew Gets Ready for the Taliban—Again
Zabulon Simentov has seen it all, and now, like all Afghans, he must embrace a future filled with uncertainty and violence.
Zabulon Simentov recites from an old Torah scripture in the last synagogue in Kabul on April 1. EMRAN FEROZ FOR FOREIGN POLICY
KABUL—It’s Saturday, and Zabulon Simentov is sitting on a typical Afghan cushion in his small living room watching the news. When the anchor starts to talk about peace talks with the Taliban, Simentov shakes his head, muttering something incomprehensible. Normally, Simentov would offer tea to his guest, but not today. It’s Shabbat. For that reason, Simentov—who is believed to be Afghanistan’s last remaining Jew—must not use his old gas cooker. Of the switched-on television, Simentov says that someone else, a non-Jewish person, turned it on for him. Orthodox Jews would probably disagree with such a practice—observant Jews are not supposed to watch TV at all on Shabbat—but Simentov’s life has been all about defiance of tradition.
Simentov’s life has also been full of upheaval—imprisonment, abandonment, and a yearslong feud with Afghanistan’s only other Jew (now dead), an argument so vociferous that even the Taliban, during their former rule, could no longer stand their bickering and kicked them both out of prison. And now Simentov must contemplate more upheaval as his old antagonists, the Taliban, vie to return to power.
“These people brought a lot of bloodshed and terrorized Kabul and many other parts of the country. I believe that nobody with such a mindset could save Afghanistan,” Simentov told Foreign Policy in an interview earlier this year. With the Taliban now in control of about half of the country and the results of September’s election postponed, Simentov, like many other Kabul residents, fears the worst: a reinstallment of the 1990s Taliban regime. He said he supports current President Ashraf Ghani, a former international technocrat, because he is “against corruption” and “not a thief.” But as with so many Afghans—and as he has done in the past—Simentov appears ready to accept whatever may come and hope for the best, which in this case may be, at best, a slightly more moderate Taliban...
China’s Global Critics Are Helping It Win
Beijing won’t tolerate dissent at home. But when foreigners criticize its geopolitical tactics, it listens.
Joshua EisenmanOctober 30, 2019, 3:48 PM
The American public has suddenly awoken to China’s pervasive influence over U.S. corporations. The alarm rang after the severe reaction to a tweet by the general manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team in support of democracy in Hong Kong. Chinese demands are a phenomenon with which many companies, including the likes of Apple, Activision Blizzard, Nike, and Marriott, are well acquainted.
Since the Rockets episode, Chinese TV and streaming firms have blacked out the NBA—a cornerstone of U.S. soft power. The profit-obsessed NBA has become a symbol of the tensions that pit fundamental democratic principles such as free speech against capitalist greed. Beijing, it seems, has perfected the application of the saying attributed to Vladimir Lenin that, “The capitalists will sell us the rope to hang them with.”
But the United States is also awakening to another frightening truth about the Chinese government that may be equally hard to face. Contrary to the Cold War stereotype of a rigid, ossified dictatorship, China’s foreign-policy makers have adjusted quite well when they have encountered challenges—especially when Americans and other foreigners point them out...
For Uighur Muslims in China, Life Keeps Getting Harder
Concentration camps, surveillance, and spies keep the community under tight control.
Over the past several years, Chinese repression of ethnic Uighurs has become increasingly harsh. From sending them to detention camps in remote places to tracking the activities of their global diaspora, Beijing is making it more and more difficult for members of the predominantly Muslim minority to simply exist. With the plight of Uighurs again in the news after a member of the community, Ilham Tohti, won the European Parliament’s top human rights prize for his activism, Foreign Policy has collected its top reads on the subject.
At the beginning of the year, news that four Chinese provinces had removed their halal food standards dominated headlines on the subject. It was “a move heralded by government officials as fighting a fictional pan-halal trend under which Muslim influence was supposedly spreading into secular life,” wrote Foreign Policy’s James Palmer in January. The decision came as China also closed several mosques across the country, sparking protests.
This campaign against the Uighurs, explained an academic writing under the pseudonym Liwei Wu, is part of an effort to Sinicize not just the Uighur community, but other Muslim groups as well. In January, the author wrote, China even released an explicit five-year plan for doing so amid other efforts to limit religious freedoms across the country, including through “re-education camps for as many as a million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, demolition threats for a Hui Muslim mosque in Ningxia, and the closing of Protestant ‘mega-house churches’ in Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou...”
By Mixing Tech and Human Rights Sanctions on China, the White House Crosses the Rubicon
VP of Global Analysis, Stratfor
Nov 1, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
- As the United States and China make a fresh attempt at a trade truce, a glaring omission from the so-called Phase 1 talks is the issue of whether the White House will ease export restrictions on American tech suppliers to Chinese tech giant Huawei.
- Even as the Trump White House may have originally intended to use at least parts of the Huawei blacklisting as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations, the window for compromise is closing, spelling prolonged uncertainty for U.S. tech companies with heavy exposure to China.
- The reduced room for compromise is due in part to the trade and tech wars blending into human rights concerns, as complex global supply chains expose a number of Western and Chinese companies to accusations of facilitating Chinese digital authoritarianism.
- From Hong Kong to Xinjiang to Taiwan, multiple flashpoints in the Chinese periphery will favor policy hawks on China over the doves in Washington. At the same time, the theme of Chinese censorship and appropriation of American values in pop culture is drawing a broader swath of the American public into recognizing "the China issue."
- In this political climate, human rights-related sanctions against a growing list of strategic tech targets in China cannot easily be walked back.
Iran: U.S. to Renew Sanctions Waivers for Iranian Civilian Nuclear Program, Report Says
Oct 31, 2019 | 12:12 GMT
What Happened: The United States will renew sanctions waivers for Iran's civilian nuclear program, allowing Chinese, Russian and European countries to continue operations in the country, including the Arak heavy water reactor conversion project, Reuters reported Oct. 30, citing sources.
Why It Matters: Previous U.S. sanctions waivers were scheduled to expire Oct. 29, which would have forced Iran to stop work on the Arak reactor. But instead of halting work at the plant, Tehran could have then decided to revert the reactor to its original design, which yields high-quality weapons-grade plutonium as a byproduct.
Background: The United States has been pursuing a strategy of maximum pressure against Iran since U.S. President Donald Trump assumed office in 2017. Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal in 2018 and has been using sanctions pressure to drive down Iranian oil exports.
Hong Kong police fire tear gas to break up Halloween party protests
By Tom Westbrook and John Geddie
Police also used tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters, many dressed in black and wearing now-banned face masks, in Nathan Road, one of the main arteries of Kowloon on the other side of the harbor.
Protesters have for five months taken to the streets of the Chinese-ruled city in a sometimes violent response to perceived Chinese meddling with its promised freedoms. This was the first time Lan Kwai Fong had been targeted.
Shouts of “Give us back Halloween!” rang out as police used their shields to push the crowds forward on the sloping, narrow streets, scene of a deadly New Year stampede nearly 27 years ago...
Iraqi protesters pack Baghdad square, anti-government movement gains momentum
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Iraqis protested in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square on Tuesday for a fifth day, angered by reports of security forces killing demonstrators in the city of Kerbala and the prime minister’s refusal to call early elections.
It was the largest gathering in the capital since a second wave of demonstrations against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government and the ruling elite resumed on Friday. A populist cleric who helped install the premier called for his removal.
“With life and blood we defend you Iraq,” they chanted.
The crowd consisted mostly of young men, many draped in Iraqi flags. Surrounding streets brimmed with cars, taxis, motorcycles and tuk-tuks as more people made their way in.
Earlier, trade unions announced that they would call strikes, following the lead of lawyers and teachers...
Israel: Netanyahu Warns of Iranian Long-Range Missile Deployments to Yemen
What Happened: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that Iran is deploying long-range precision-strike missiles to Yemen, Haaretz reported Oct. 29.
Why It Matters: Netanyahu is likely using the issue of Iranian missile deployments to pressure his rival for the premiership, Benny Gantz, to form a unity government, but the prime minister's comments could also set the stage for preventive Israeli military action in Yemen.
Background: Israel has previously attacked Iranian-linked sites in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon that could host long-range missiles, but rarely announces its intentions before carrying out a strike.
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
Putin May Want to Be an Emperor, but Russia Isn’t an Imperial Power
Russia’s drive to expand its sphere of influence isn’t inevitable—or even in the country’s best interest.
BY ALEXANDER J. MOTYL | OCTOBER 28, 2019, 3:40 PM
To an observer in 2019, it may seem like Russia has always had—and will always have—an immutable interest in maintaining authoritarian control at home and imperial control abroad. According to this line of thinking, Russian President Vladimir Putin is merely the latest in a long line of Russian rulers to pursue his country’s natural priorities vigorously. The implications for the West are obvious. If Putin is simply drawing on the same playbook as any other Russian leader, the available responses are either accommodating his authoritarianism and expansionism or war—and no one wants war.
But what if Putin is not pursuing immutable and objectively definable Russian national interests? It could be that he is captive to the same pressures as all other leaders: perceptions, ideologies, institutional legacies, and historical developments that lead to policies that are not necessarily in the best interest of his country.
As anyone with an appreciation of Russian, or any, history knows, no state can pursue identical interests for the duration of its historical existence, because states and their surroundings are always changing. The Russia of today is not the Muscovy of 600 years ago. The Mongols are not the West. And, despite some superficial similarities, Putin is no Ivan the Terrible. Immutability is a fiction. At the same time, geography and strategy do matter. As a result, foreign policy becomes a function of geopolitics, national interests, and ideologies, but also of regime type, personality of the leader, historical timing, context, and many other factors.
Understanding Russian foreign policy requires examining its historical evolution. Above all, it means viewing contemporary Russia as the heir to the Soviet empire—a highly centralized state in which the Russian core... determined the internal and external policies of the non-Russian republics—and the product of that empire’s sudden collapse.
Russian subs honing stealth skills in major North Atlantic drill, says Norwegian intel
At least eight nuclear-powered submarines sailed out from their homeports on the Kola Peninsula last week, the Norwegian military intelligence says to NRK.
By Thomas Nilsen October 29, 2019
The aim of the massive operation is to get as far out to the North Atlantic as possible without being discovered by NATO, the intelligence service informs to NRK. Such maneuvers haven’t been seen from the Northern Fleet since the days of the Cold War.
The operation started early last week, before Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Commander of the Northern Fleet, Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Moiseyev visited Kirkenes in northern Norway last Friday.
Lavrov had bilateral talks with his Norwegian counterpart Ine Eriksen Søreide and the two said at the following press conference that security situation in northern Europe was one talking point...
MIDDLE EAST GENERAL
As Lebanese Protests Rage On, Regional Suitors Hedge Their Bets
Nov 1, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
- The growing push for systemic political change in Lebanon, if successful, could weaken the proxy positions of Iran and its regional adversary, Saudi Arabia.
- Iran has built up the most political capital in Lebanon via Hezbollah and thus has the most at stake, should the current unrest continue apace in the months ahead.
-Outside powers like Riyadh and Abu Dhabi could hold off on providing support if they believe that it could bolster Hezbollah's position...
The Saudi oil attacks could be a precursor to widespread cyberwarfare …
In recent years, Iran has deployed destructive computer viruses against Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom and oil and gas industry have been slow to shore up their defenses, raising red flags about the possibility of longer term fall-out in the region, experts said. Investors should expect long-term cyber espionage and flare-ups of malicious activity, including the potential for destructive attacks that hurt companies in the region beyond Aramco. Saudi Aramco declined to comment for this article.
Georgian police investigate massive cyber attack
TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgian police are investigating a massive coordinated cyber attack that took thousands of websites offline and could have been carried out from abroad, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.
Thousands of state, private and media websites were knocked out on Monday and their home pages made to display an image of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili holding a poster saying “I’ll be back!”
The attack targeted websites including those of the president’s office, local municipality offices and two private television stations.
“The cyber attack could have been carried out (from) either inside or outside the country,” the interior ministry said...
Ex-US Intelligence Officer Gets 10 Years in Chinese Espionage Case
A former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency officer who admitted he betrayed his country for financial gain was sentenced on Tuesday to 10 years in federal prison for attempted espionage on behalf of China, the U.S. Justice Department said. Ron Rockwell Hansen, 60, of Syracuse, Utah, pleaded guilty in March to trying to pass classified U.S. national defense information to China, and admitted to receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars as an agent for the Beijing government.
FBI arrests Army soldier who allegedly discussed plans to bomb major American news network
The FBI has arrested a U.S. soldier who allegedly discussed plans to bomb a major American news network, planned to travel to Ukraine to fight with violent far-right group Azov Battalion and allegedly distributed information online on how to build bombs. He also allegedly suggested targeting Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke. According to charging documents in the case, Jarrett William Smith, who transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, in July, joined the U.S. military only after first expressing his desire to fight in Ukraine.
The Conditions That Created ISIS Still Exist
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death won’t eliminate the threat of Islamist extremism so long as autocratic regimes continue to hold sway in the Middle East.
BY H. A. HELLYER | OCTOBER 28, 2019, 6:28 PM
As the world begins to process what the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the infamous head of the so-called Islamic State, means, there is a temptation to believe that the group has finally been eradicated. While there’s reasonable cause for celebration—not least for the group’s victims in the region—the threat of the Islamic State will remain as long as the world fails to address why it arose in the first place.
In life, Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed “caliph of all the Muslims,” was meant to serve as a symbolic figure who could claim leadership over an actual territorial entity, in the name of religion, with the corresponding duty of Muslims worldwide to pay him allegiance. But that narrative was always flawed.
Empirically, the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide rejected him and failed to take his leadership seriously. His victims included mostly fellow Muslims, as well as Yazidis (subjected to an attempted genocide), Christians, Kurds, Iraqis, Syrians, Turks, and others. The peoples of this region, Muslim and non-Muslim, were the ones who were most targeted by the Islamic State; they were the ones who sacrificed the most in fighting against the Islamic State; and it is they who will be feeling the most relief today.
Baghdadi’s followers ironically found common cause with Islamophobes who sought to promote him as some kind of religious authority representing the essence of Islam. But Muslim religious authorities within and outside the region frequently derided him and his group as promoting deviancy and heresy...
As Era Of Laser Weapons Dawns, Tech Challenges Remain
Oct 30, 2019 Steve Trimble | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
As the U.S. Air Force comes within weeks of the first operational laser weapons, the Defense Department is hatching new concepts to address the power and thermal management limits of the state-of-the-art in the directed energy field.
In a largely secret dress rehearsal staged last week at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the Air Force performed another round of tests of the deploying Raytheon High Energy Laser Weapon System (HEL-WS), as well as other directed energy options, such as the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR), says Kelly Hammett, director of AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate.
“All I can say is there were multiple systems. From my reading of the reports, it looked like a very successful exercise,” says Hammett, who addressed the Association of Old Crows annual symposium Oct. 29...
Wall Street Was America’s First Foe in World War II
Breaking up monopolies was the first step in fighting Hitler.
BY MATT STOLLER | OCTOBER 28, 2019, 10:18 AM
As World War II approached, the lesson of World War I, for Americans, was a frightening one. Despite two and a half years of warning, the United States had entered the First World War unprepared. By 1918, the U.S. field army numbered 5 million men but still relied on British and French allies for artillery and other equipment.
The United States had started late, and it tried to “bait” its manufacturers into expanding plants with lucrative contracts. U.S. soldiers had to use British and French weapons. The United States of the late 1930s was now in the same situation. On the eve of Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, 85 percent of U.S. factory machinery dated from the 1920s or earlier. Some predated the Civil War.
After the invasion of Poland, Americans didn’t necessarily want to intervene in Europe, but preparedness and support for military spending began to increase. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for larger Army and Navy budgets. But to build that larger Army and Navy, massive supplies of steel, aluminum, copper, and every other material would be necessary. The control of monopolists, who wanted to restrict supplies of these metals, would have to be broken.
What Roosevelt called in 1932 the “unofficial … economic Government of the United States” had to be dismantled, and replaced with democratic means of wielding power. The system that monopolists such as J. Pierpont Morgan and Andrew Mellon had put together did not just wield power over government; it was a government in and of itself. This government of the monopolists had two separate layers of power. There were individual monopolies. Mellon’s aluminum giant Alcoa, for instance, was not only an aluminum producer, but the regulator of the aluminum trade itself. It controlled pricing, output, wages, and the buying of key inputs, such as electric power.
As Morgan, and then Mellon, took a set of businesses and turned them into monopolies, power passed from the engineers, workers, and communities who created, invented, and produced, to financiers, salesmen, and lawyers who controlled, restrained, and manipulated. The second layer was how these monopolies related to one another. An individual monopoly controlled just a single branch of trade. It became a political system when its power, the power of one boss, was combined with other monopolies, the power of many bosses. And this system—of big-business bosses monopolizing the key channels of trade and commerce—still lived on Wall Street.
Wall Street was where financiers moved resources around, through lending or borrowing money, and combined or split up companies. The task for the White House and the populists in Congress was to take this private government apart and construct a democratic one. That meant breaking up the industrial monopolies that ruled specific industries and replacing the rule of banks with competitive regulated markets, with protections for workers and producers. It meant recapturing the ability to print money and control the economy. It meant breaking apart and replacing Wall Street with public channels of financing, so that corporations were free from financial masters. This did not mean undermining business, but liberating it from monopoly and financial power...
Monday, November 4, 2019
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