NYC earthquake risk: the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

NYC earthquake risk: Could Staten Island be heavily impacted?

By Ann Marie Barron

Updated May 16, 4:31 AM; Posted May 16, 4:00 AM

Rubble litters Main Street after an earthquake struck Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A report by the U.S. Geological Survey outlines the differences between the effect of an earthquake in the West vs. one in the East. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – While scientists say it’s impossible to predict when or if an earthquake will occur in New York City, they say that smaller structures — like Staten Island’s bounty of single-family homes — will suffer more than skyscrapers if it does happen.

„Earthquakes in the East tend to cause higher-frequency shaking — faster back-and-forth motion — compared to similar events in the West,“ according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), published on its website recently „Shorter structures are more susceptible to damage during fast shaking, whereas taller structures are more susceptible during slow shaking.“


The report, „East vs West Coast Earthquakes,“ explains how USGS scientists are researching factors that influence regional differences in the intensity and effects of earthquakes, and notes that earthquakes in the East are often felt at more than twice the distance of earthquakes in the West.

Predicting when they will occur is more difficult, said Thomas Pratt, a research geophysicist and the central and Eastern U.S. coordinator for the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in Reston, Va.

„One of the problems in the East Coast is that we don’t have a history to study,“ he said. „In order to get an idea, we have to have had several cycles of these things. The way we know about them in California is we dig around in the mud and we see evidence of past earthquakes.“

Yet Pratt wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a high-magnitude event taking place in New York, which sits in the middle the North American Tectonic Plate, considered by experts to be quite stable.

„We never know,“ he said. „One could come tomorrow. On the other hand, it could be another 300 years. We don’t understand why earthquakes happen (here) at all.“

Though the city’s last observable earthquake occurred on Oct. 27, 2001, and caused no real damage, New York has been hit by two Magnitude 5 earthquakes in its history – in 1738 and in 1884 — prompting many to say it is „due“ for another.

While earthquakes generally have to be Magnitude 6 or higher to be considered „large,“ by experts, „a Magnitude 5, directly under New York City, would shake it quite strongly,“ Pratt said.

The reason has to do with the rock beneath our feet, the USGS report says.


In the East, we have older rocks, some of which formed „hundreds of millions of years before those in the West,“ the report says. Since the faults in the rocks have had so much time to heal, the seismic waves travel more efficiently through them when an earthquake occurs.

„Rocks in the East are like a granite countertop and rocks in the West are much softer,“ Pratt said. „Take a granite countertop and hit it and it’ll transmit energy well. In the West, it’s like a sponge. The  energy gets absorbed.“

If a large, Magnitude 7 earthquake does occur, smaller structures, and older structures in Manhattan would be most vulnerable, Pratt said. „In the 1920s, ’30s and late 1800s, they were not built with earthquake resistance,“ he said, noting that newer skyscrapers were built to survive hurricanes, so would be more resistant.

When discussing earthquake prediction and probability, Pratt uses the analogy of a baseball player who averages a home run every 10 times at bat and hasn’t hit one in the past nine games: „When he’s up at bat, will he hit a home run? You just don’t know.“

And though it would probably take a magnitude of 7 to topple buildings in the city, smaller earthquakes are still quite dangerous, he said.

„Bookshelves could fall down and hit you,“ he said. „People could be killed.“ A lot of stone work and heavy objects fell from buildings when a quake of 5.8 magnitude struck central Virginia in 2011, he noted, but, fortunately, no one was injured.

To be safe, Pratt encourages New Yorkers to keep a few days‘ worth of drinking water and other supplies on hand. He, himself, avoids putting heavy things up high.

„It always gets me nervous when I go into a restaurant that has heavy objects high on shelves,“ he said. „It’s unlikely you’ll get an earthquake. But, we just don’t know.“

‘It would mark the end of Iraq’: Antichrist warns against US war with Iran

It would mark the end of Iraq’: Shia clerics warn against US war with Iran

SDD Contributor

It would mark the end of Iraq’: Shia clerics warn against US war with Iran As Washington and Tehran trade threats, a number of influential Iraqi Shia leaders have warned that a conflict between the US and Iran would be disastrous for Iraq, possibly destroying the country beyond repair.

A prominent Shia cleric, a leading politician and two militia representatives each voiced opposition to a possible war with the Islamic Republic on Monday, warning of apocalyptic consequences for their country.

This war would mark the end of Iraq,” said Shia cleric and politician Muqtada al-Sadr, whose populist ‘Sadrist’ movement enjoys a large following. “We need peace and reconstruction.”

Any political party that would advocate such a war “would be the enemy of the Iraqi people,” al-Sadr said, arguing that Iraq would become “a scene for conflict,” caught between the warring powers.

Al-Sadr’s Saairun coalition won big in last year’s parliamentary elections, which ran on a platform opposing foreign meddling in Iraq and official corruption, while al-Sadr himself has long been a vocal critic of both American and Iranian influence in Iraq.

Al-Sadr was not the only lawmaker to caution against escalation.

“If war breaks out … it will burn everyone,” said Iraqi politician Hadi al-Amiri in a statement. He called on Iraqis to work together “to keep Iraq and the region away from war.”

The warnings come on the heels of a rocket attack inside Baghdad’s ‘Green Zone,’ a fortified area of the city which holds the US Embassy and other foreign diplomatic offices. As of yet, no group has taken responsibility, but some Iran-aligned organizations quickly slammed the attack and suggested it would be used as a “pretext” for a conflict.

“We caution against operations that are intended to provide pretexts for war,” tweeted Qais al-Khazali, leader of Iran-backed Shia paramilitary group Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous). He added that “war is not in the interest of the Islamic Republic of Iran or of the United States of America.”

A spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, another armed Shia group, also weighed in, calling the rocket attack “unjustified” and accusing a third party – Israel or Saudi Arabia – of staging the incident.

Tensions in the region are at a high point. Washington in recent weeks deployed an arsenal of military equipment to the Persian Gulf to address an alleged Iranian “threat,” and more recently evacuated all nonessential diplomatic staff from Iraq, citing the same danger.

Washington and Tehran continue to exchange insults on social media, with US President Donald Trump tweeting on Sunday that Iran had “threatened” the United States, and warned that “if Iran wants a fight, that will be the official end of Iran.”

“Economic terrorism and genocidal taunts won’t ‘end Iran,’” replied Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who added, “try respect – it works!”

The Three Horns France, England, and Germany Threaten Iran (Daniel 7)

France, England, and Germany Threaten Iran’s Regime to Use the Trigger Mechanism

Published: Monday, 02 December 2019 18:23

Since May, Iran has taken a series of measures to break the limits set on its nuclear activities under the 2015 deal with world powers, including on the amount and the enrichment level of its uranium stockpile.

Iran insists it has the right to do this in retaliation for the US’s withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and the subsequent re-imposition of sanctions, which have placed a huge strain on the Iranian economy.

Iran has said another step away from the deal is likely in early January, with some speculation that it could announce that it is increasing its uranium enrichment level yet further.

In a joint statement, the three countries – France, Britain, and Germany – threatened Iran to trigger the so-called “dispute resolution mechanism”  in case of continued violations.

They reiterate that they are ready to examine all mechanisms available in JCPOA, including the “dispute resolution mechanism”, for Another part of the statement emphasized that the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA is of utmost importance. The Iranian regime must immediately return to full compliance with its obligations.

According to the terms of the JCPOA, if there is a disagreement over the deal and the parties fail to reach an agreement, eventually all parties will return to their pre-JCPOA status and UN Security Council sanctions will be reinstated.

The European Troika implicitly threatened Iran with the use of a ‘trigger mechanism,’ the FARS news agency said in its news release.The European Union has taken a threatening stance that the political bloc has failed to deliver on its promise to compensate for the negative effects of US sanctions since the US unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and European companies and banks have largely cut ties with Iran.

Earlier, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Durrain had said Paris was considering the reclamation of the sanctions.

Meanwhile, Rafael Grossi, the next director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who will start on his new job on Tuesday, said he would take firm stances on the Iranian regime. And the IAEA is serious about dealing with the regime’s nuclear status.

Analysts say Rafael Grossi’s stance on the Iranian regime is similar to that of the United States, Japan’s NHK television reported.

Following France’s insistence on activating the trigger mechanism if the mullahs continue to violate the JCPOA, state-sponsored newspapers warned that the JCPOA is in very a special circumstance and that there is a risk the trigger mechanism should be started.

“Europeans threaten (the Islamic Republic) with the trigger mechanism after more than a year of their commitments,” the state-run newspaper wrote in a post titled ‘Sledgehammer in the Name of the Trigger Mechanism!’ According to the JCPOA, if the deal is violated, all sanctions will be returned.

The Europeans threatened to activate the trigger mechanism in every step of the Islamic Republic.

In this regard, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian pointed to the possibility of triggering the “dispute resolution mechanism” and said that the Iranian regime every two months is creating a new rift, and the situation has reached a point where he can honestly say that they are thinking about activating the trigger mechanism of economic sanctions. resolving disputes.

India Tests More Nuclear Missiles (Revelation 8 )

‘Ready to fire anytime on short notice‘: India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missiles

‘Ready to fire anytime on short notice‘: India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missiles India’s Strategic Forces Command has test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads as part of a yearly training session. The launches went off without a hitch.

The pair of Prithvi-II missiles were fired from Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha late on Wednesday night in a readiness test for the Indian missile forces, government sources told local media.

“Both tests met all parameters,” an official from the Integrated Test Range told the PTI news agency, adding: “The missile trajectory was tracked by radars, electro-optical tracking systems and telemetry stations by the [Defense Research and Development Organization].”

The munitions reportedly landed in the Bay of Bengal off India’s east coast.

“The test proved the reliability of the weapon and reconfirmed its operational readiness. The army is now ready to fire the missile anytime and in any terrain [at] short notice,” another defense official told the New Indian Express.

The domestically designed surface-to-surface missile has a range of some 220 miles (350km) and a payload capacity of up to 2,200 pounds (1,000kg). First inducted into India’s armed forces in 2003, the missile is single-stage, meaning it is propelled by only one set of rocket engines, and runs on a liquid fuel.

Earlier this week, New Delhi test-launched an intermediate-range Agni-II missile, while its rival Pakistan followed up by firing off its Shaheen-I munition in a test of its own, both of which are also nuclear-capable.

Hostilities between India and Pakistan soared earlier this year after New Delhi carried out airstrikes on Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, claiming to bomb “terror camps” in the first Indian incursion across the Kashmiri border since 1971, when the two countries were at war. The strikes prompted Islamabad to scramble its own fighters, culminating in a dog fight which shot down an Indian MiG.

Tensions erupted again more recently when India moved to revoke Kashmir’s special autonomy status in August, which Pakistan slammed as illegal.

Over the summer, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said the country’s ‘No First Use’ policy for nuclear weapons could soon change “[depending] on the circumstances,” implying that Pakistan could be the cause.

The Nuclear Lies and Coverups (Revelation 16)


Nuclear Weapons: The Lies and Broken Promises

The Non-Proliferation Treaty was supposed to lead to disarmament. Instead, it’s led to nuclear apartheid — and sooner or later, someone’s going set one off.

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told an economic meeting in the city of Sivas this September that Turkey was considering building nuclear weapons, he was responding to a broken promise. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the government of Iran of lying about its nuclear program, he was concealing one of the greatest subterfuges in the history of nuclear weapons. And the vast majority of Americans haven’t a clue about either.

US Cover for Israel

Early in the morning of September 22, 1979, a US satellite recorded a double flash near the Prince Edward Islands in the South Atlantic. The satellite, a Vela 5B, carries a device called a “bhangmeter” whose purpose is to detect nuclear explosions. Sent into orbit following the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, its job was to monitor any violations of the agreement. The treaty banned nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, underwater, and in space.

Nuclear explosions have a unique footprint. When the weapon detonates, it sends out an initial pulse of light. But as the fireball expands, it cools down for a few milliseconds, then spikes again.

“Nothing in nature produces such a double-humped light flash,” says Victor Gilinsky. “The spacing of the hump gives an indication of the amount of energy, or yield, released by the explosion.” Gilinsky was a member of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a former Rand Corporation physicist.

There was little question who had conducted the test. The Prince Edward islands were owned by South Africa, and US intelligence knew the apartheid government was conducting research into nuclear weapons. But while South Africa had yet to produce a nuclear weapon, Israel had nukes — and the two countries had close military ties. In short, it was almost certainly an Israeli weapon, though Israel denied it.

In the weeks that followed, clear evidence for a nuclear test emerged from hydrophones near Ascension Island and a jump in radioactive iodine-131 in Australian sheep. Only nuclear explosions produce iodine-131.

But the test came at a bad time for US President Jimmy Carter, who was gearing up his reelection campaign, a cornerstone of which was a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. If the Israelis were seen to have violated the Partial Test Ban, as well as the 1977 Glenn Amendment to the Arms Export Control Act, the US would have been required to cut off all arms sales to Israel and apply heavy sanctions. Carter was nervous about what such a finding would have on the election, since a major part of his platform was arms control and non-proliferation.

So Carter threw together a panel of experts whose job was not to examine the incident but to cover it up. The Ruina Panel cooked up a tortured explanation involving mini-meteors that the media accepted and, as a result, so did the American public.

But nuclear physicists knew the panel was blowing smoke and that the evidence was unarguable. The device was set off on a barge between Prince Edward Island (South Africa’s, not Canada’s) and Marion Island with a yield of between 3 and 4 kilotons. A secret CIA panel concurred but put the yield at 1.5 to 2 kilotons. For comparison, the Hiroshima bomb in 1945 was 15 kilotons.

It was also clear why the Israelis took the risk. Israel had a number of Hiroshima-style fission bombs but was working on producing a thermonuclear weapon — a hydrogen bomb. Fission bombs are easy to use, but fusion weapons are tricky and require a test. That the Vela picked it up was pure chance, since the satellite had been retired. But its bhangmeters were still working.

From Carter onward, every US president has covered up the Israeli violation of the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, as well as the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). So when Netanyahu says Iran is lying about its nuclear program, much of the rest of the world —  including the US nuclear establishment — roll their eyes.

Nuclear Apartheid

As for President Erdogan, he is perfectly correct that the nuclear powers have broken the promise they made back in 1968 when the signed the NPT. Article VI of that agreement calls for an end to the nuclear arms race and the abolition of nuclear weapons. Indeed, in many ways, Article VI is the heart of the NPT. Non-nuclear armed countries signed the agreement, only to find themselves locked into a system of “nuclear apartheid” — where they agreed not to acquire such weapons of mass destruction, while China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and the US get to keep theirs.

The “big five” not only kept their weapons, but they are also all in the process of upgrading and expanding them. The US is meanwhile shedding other agreements, like the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Agreement. Washington is also getting ready to abandon the START treaty that limits the US and Russia to a set number of warheads and long-range strategic launchers.

What is amazing is that only four other countries have abandoned the NPT: Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and India (only the latter three have been sanctioned by the US). But that situation cannot hold forever, especially since part of Article VI calls for general disarmament, a pledge that has been honored in the breach. The US currently has nearly the largest defense budget in its history and spends as much on its military as 144 other countries combined.

While the US doesn’t seem able to win wars with that huge military — Afghanistan and Iraq remain disasters — it can inflict a stunning amount of damage that few countries are willing to absorb. Even when Washington doesn’t resort to its military, its sanctions can decimate a country’s economy and impoverish its citizens. North Korea and Iran are cases in point.

If the US were willing to cover up the 1979 Israeli test while sanctioning other countries that acquire nuclear weapons, why would anyone think that this is nothing more than hypocrisy on the subject of proliferation? And if the NPT is simply a device to ensure that other countries cannot defend themselves from other nations’ conventional and/or nuclear forces, why would anyone sign on or stay in the treaty?

Erdogan may be bluffing. He loves bombast and uses it effectively to keep his foes off balance. The threat may be a strategy for getting the US to back off on its support for Israel and Greece in their joint efforts to develop energy sources in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

But Turkey also has security concerns. In his speech, Erdogan pointed out, “There is Israel just beside us. Do they have [nuclear weapons]? They do.” He went on to say that if Turkey did not respond to Israeli “bullying,” in the region, “we will face the prospect of losing our strategic superiority in the region.”

Iran may be lying about the scope of its nuclear ambitions — although there is no evidence that Tehran is making a serious run at producing a nuclear weapon — but if they are, they’re in good company with the Americans and the Israelis.

The Path to Sanity

Sooner or later, someone is going to set off one of those nukes. The likeliest candidates are India and Pakistan, although use by the US and China in the South China Sea is not out of the question. Neither is a dustup between NATO and Russia in the Baltic.

It is easy to blame the current resident of the White House for world tensions, except that the major nuclear powers have been ignoring their commitments on nuclear weapons and disarmament for over 50 years.

The path back to sanity is thorny but not impossible. First, the US should rejoin the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, thus making Russia’s medium-range missiles unnecessary, and reduce tensions between the US and China by withdrawing ABM systems from Japan and South Korea.

Second, the US should reinstate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement and find a way to bring China, India and Pakistan into it. That will require a general reduction of US military forces in Asia, coupled with an agreement with China to back off on its claims over most of the South China Sea. Tensions between India and Pakistan would be greatly reduced by simply fulfilling the UN pledge to hold a referendum in Kashmir. The latter would almost certainly vote for independence.

Third, the US must continue its adherence to the START agreement, while the “big five” countries need to halt the modernization of their existing arsenals — and begin, at long last, to implement Article VI of the NPT in regards to both nuclear and conventional forces.

Pie in the sky? Well, it beats a mushroom cloud.

*[This article was originally published by FPIF.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

NO the US Cannot Get Out of Its End Wars

Photograph Source: The U.S. Army – CC BY 2.0

Can the US Get Out of Its Endless Wars?

Donald Trump in 2016 ran in opposition to the Iraq war and more generally to massive US commitments around the world. His denunciations of “endless wars” resonated enough that many voters ignored his documented early support for the Afghan and Iraq wars. Indeed, areas where casualties in those wars were highest voted more heavily for Trump than other demographic and economic factors would have predicted. Voters, with plenty of justification from her record as Secretary of State, thus pegged Hillary Clinton as a warmonger.

Trump, at least so far, is a militarist too. He has yet to withdraw the remaining troops from Afghanistan or Iraq. In Syria, he ended up merely redeploying soldiers from the border with Turkey to further within the country, if anything deepening American involvement. In the rest of the world, Trump has yet to close a single base or return home any troops stationed abroad.

Democrats, except for a few principled anti-interventionists like Bernie Sanders, are not clearly committed to reducing, let alone eliminating, the more than 800 bases the US maintains around the world and that cost over $100 billion a year to staff and maintain. For the past year, Democrats, when they bother to mention foreign policy, have largely focused on Russia. In hopes of using Trump’s Russian ties to push impeachment or weaken his reelection prospects, Democrats have ended up painting Russia as a strategic threat to the US on par with the former Soviet Union or present-day China. This dubious electoral strategy has the effect of bolstering military spending and justifying US intervention in countries around the world to counter supposed Russian subversion.

It seems clear that unless and until the Democratic Party is fundamentally transformed we will not find our way out of endless wars through the electoral process. Just as both political parties supported the Vietnam War half a century ago, so today there is mainstream consensus behind the belief that the US is the indispensable nation, and therefore from a mix of self-interest and idealism should spend whatever is needed to maintain full spectrum dominance and command of the commons. However, just as the Vietnam War finally was ended through a combination of non-electoral mobilization in the US and defeat on battlefields in Vietnam, so too can America’s twenty-first century wars be ended through our efforts within the US and by America’s ever more obvious economic and geopolitical weakness. To understand what can make our opposition most effective we need to understand the forces that support the US’s massive presence around the world and the deepening divisions among US elites.

Who Benefits From US Military Power

American capitalists, like those of previous great powers such as nineteenth century Britain and France and the Netherlands of the seventeenth century, rely on their government to control foreign territories and peoples that those capitalists can exploit. Of course, how capitalists make money abroad has changed. Today formal colonies no longer exist. Instead, American capitalists look to their government to negotiate and enforce so-called free trade agreements that give American companies access to foreign markets. At the same time, the U.S. has used military and non-military means to remove governments that tried to restrict capitalists’ ability to exploit resources and workers in other countries or to create social protections for their citizens. Obviously, the U.S. is less able to intervene in other wealthy countries, like those of Western Europe, even as America’s ability to mold other nations to its will increased after the end of the Soviet Union.

U.S. goals in trade treaties have changed over time. Up to the 1960s, the government pushed to open foreign markets to American manufactured goods. But as America’s industrial edge disappeared, the U.S. instead has sought to win access above all for financial firms and also to protect American pharmaceutical, software and entertainment firms’ patents and copyrights. In essence, American trade negotiators since the 1970s have sacrificed industrial workers to protect the profits of Wall Street, Big Pharma, Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

What the Military Elite Wants and Gets

US global power is enormously expensive to build and maintain and requires a vast, permanent military establishment. Any organization, like the Pentagon, which commands millions of soldiers and other employees and controls a budget approaching $1 trillion a year, amasses great political power and autonomy as well.

The U.S. is unusual among nations in that from its beginning it relied upon private companies to develop and build weaponry. Weapons contracts generate greater profit margins than most other businesses, creating a unity of interest between military officers and capitalists, who otherwise oppose expensive government programs that ultimately must be funded through taxes.

Generals’ views of how to fight wars and what weaponry they need are shaped, indeed determined, by the ways in which their careers, and those of lesser officers, are structured. Officers spend their careers assigned to units that man and deploy specific weapons systems. They advance by commanding expensive and technically complex weapons. Success in winning appropriations for those weapons systems ensures long careers for the ever-expanding corps of generals. Budget cuts or more drastically a decision to cancel a weapons system would stymie or end the careers of officers in that division of the military. Weapons systems also reward officers in their retirement. Defense firms often hire military officers after their retirement, and the promise of high corporate salaries to supplement their pensions gives officers a powerful incentive not to question the worth of expensive weapons systems, or to dispute contractors’ bills and pricing decisions.

These career and organizational imperatives mesh perfectly with defense firms’ interests in selling advanced weapons systems, which consistently yield the largest profits. Thus, advanced weapons continue to absorb the lion’s share of the Pentagon budget even though those weapons are fundamentally ill suited for the actual wars the U.S. fights in the twenty-first century.

The U.S.’s overwhelming military power is complemented by a system of alliances spanning much of the globe. However, relations with other countries increasingly are managed by the military rather than the State Department, a process that has drastically accelerated under Trump as he and his Secretaries of State have reduced and undermined civilian diplomats. The Defense Department since World War II has cultivated direct ties with their military counterparts elsewhere in the world, as has the Central Intelligence Agency. In addition, the military and CIA sustain independent relations with civilian officials of many foreign governments. The Pentagon has created “commands” for each region of the world, headed by senior generals or admirals, who negotiate directly with both military and civilian officials in the countries of those regions about policy matters that extend far beyond military cooperation. These commands endure across presidential administrations and thus provide more continuity in US strategic policies and in relations with foreign governments than do the civilian side of the U.S. government.

Ties between the U.S. and foreign militaries are further cemented through arms sales since purchasers remain dependent on the U.S. for training and intelligence. Arms sales abroad also bolster manufacturers’ profits, providing a powerful incentive for American capitalists to support their government’s ties to even the most brutal regimes in the world, as we see now with Saudi Arabia. In addition, a third of America’s measly foreign aid budget, which comes to less than 1% of the total Federal budget, is devoted to subsidizing weapons purchases by other countries.

Elite Conflicts and Autarky

The Pentagon’s common interests with capitalists and their increasingly independent links to other governments makes it difficult for civilian officials, including presidents, to challenge the military’s war plans. The Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars continued for years after it became clear the commanding generals were delusional about the prospects for victory, and as the death toll of both U.S. soldiers and civilians in the countries the U.S. had invaded mounted. The ongoing Afghan and Iraq wars have been limited, and most US troops withdrawn, only because insurgents in those countries have inflicted US casualties that the American public finds too high.

The military and civilian elites disagree with each other, and among themselves, on how to deal with the growing intensity of insurgent resistance to American domination and invasions. Following the historical example of the British empire, US military officers and civilian officials offer support to indigenous militaries, hoping they can take on the dirty work of suppressing insurgencies and enforcing acquiesce in countries dominated by the US. However, as we have seen in Iraq, local allies make increasing demands on the US. The Status of Forces agreement, signed by the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government right after Obama’s election as president in November 2008, was in substance a document of unconditional surrender by the U.S. to Iraqi nationalist demands. It set a hard date of December 31, 2011 for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops. More significantly, it stated that the bases the U.S. had built in Iraq at a cost of many billions of dollars, and which the Bush Administration planned to use to station planes and troops at the center of the Middle East and thereby intimidate neighboring countries, could not be used to attack any other country without permission of the Iraqi parliament, permission that in light of domestic Iraqi and regional political realities would never be granted.

Elsewhere in the world, once supine governments are able to play off the US against China and Russia. As the US becomes ever less willing to risk its soldiers’ lives or to spend the money needed to sustain extended occupations, and as anti-immigrant fervor stocked by Trump blocks the lure of eventual exile in America to foreign collaborators, it will become ever harder for the US to find foreign allies to fight for it.

We see in the disagreements between Trump and the military high command backed by career diplomats lines of conflict that will continue even after Trump and his particular and extreme sort of corruption and self-dealing have left Washington. At the same time, conflicts among capitalists and with the 99% that have been harmed by neoliberal trade agreements and financialization will further paralyze the American government’s ability to pursue a coherent economic and military policy.

U.S. choices in trade treaties and decisions to overthrow or isolate governments elsewhere in the world reflect the power of American capitalists as a class, and how a shifting set of the most privileged corporations exert that power over the U.S. government. However, financial firms’ interests are increasingly at odds with those of other American corporations that actually need to sell real goods and services if they want to make profits and if their employees hope to keep their jobs. While finance capital has set policy for the last thirty years, opposition led both Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016 to denounce the Trans Pacific Partnership. Intra- capitalist conflicts, combined with mass opposition, mean that it is unlikely that the main method the US has used to dominate other countries— new trade deals—will be enacted in the future.

Some elites, through campaign contributions, lobbying, and corrupt ties to elected officials, still are able to win special protections for their foreign investments. Similarly, even if the US has to abandon intervention in the most resistant and contested parts of the globe, Pentagon generals and admirals still can establish alliances and station troops and weapons in much of the world, locking the US into commitments that could (as they have in the past) lead to war. Elite privilege and command over the resources and lives of the rest of us continues even as its scope narrows when elites challenge one another and where other nations and their elites are able to pursue their own interests against the US.

A Way Forward

What can we in the US do? Do we need to wait passively as the US weakens in relation to other countries and as elites battle one another over a shrinking pie? We need to look at past successes and be strategic in identifying the points at which opposition can be most successful. Support for trade agreements has already disappeared as more and more Americans find their incomes declining, and as their jobs disappear or become ever more precarious. Americans’ ability to see trade agreements and expanding freedoms for banks and financial firms as destructive to their interests can become a template for talking about domestic economic policies.

While the Afghan and Iraq wars have been going on for eighteen and sixteen years respectively, opposition in those countries and within the US made them less bloody than the Vietnam War. A majority in the US turned against the Vietnam War only after 20,000 Americans died. In Iraq the turning point came after 2000 deaths. Unfortunately, in none of those wars have civilian casualties in the countries the US invaded been decisive in building American antiwar sentiment.

While drawing attention to American deaths is chauvinistic and morally compromised, it remains the best way to undermine support for continuing and new wars, and ultimately will save the lives of non-Americans the US would otherwise bomb or invade. Military and economic defeats, and the ever more brazen self-dealing by increasingly small elites, is undermining support for endless and new wars, and for the economic war capitalists are waging against workers in the US and the rest of the world. We need to combine repeated efforts to show the 99% how these elite projects cost them, and also to be alert to divisions among elites so that we can target the most brazen and vulnerable elites for denunciations, boycotts, demonstrations, and strikes.