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Our Banner of Deceit is Leading the US to Failure

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Orlov is one of our favorite essayists on Russia and all sorts of other things. He moved to the US as a child, and lives in the Boston area.

He is one of the better-known thinkers The New Yorker has dubbed ‘The Dystopians’ in an excellent 2009 profile, along with James Howard Kunstler, another regular contributor to RI (archive). These theorists believe that modern society is headed for a jarring and painful crack-up.

<figcaption>By their fruits, you will know them</figcaption>
By their fruits, you will know them

He is best known for his 2011 book comparing Soviet and American collapse (he thinks America’s will be worse). He is a prolific author on a wide array of subjects, and you can see his work by searching him on Amazon.

He has a large following on the web, and on Patreon, and we urge you to support him there, as Russia Insider does.

His current project is organizing the production of affordable house boats for living on. He lives on a boat himself.


If you exist within the by now almost hermetically sealed-off mindscape of Western mainstream media, and if you also happen to like knowing the truth, then life must seem increasingly unfair to you—because you can’t win.

For decades now the modus operandi has been as follows. Regardless of which party has the majority in Congress or controls the presidency, the same unchanging national (and increasingly transnational) elite ensconced in Washington sets the agenda and pushes it through using any means necessary, whether legal, illegal or blatantly criminal (increasingly the latter as national bankruptcy looms and desperation sets in).

Their operatives make sure that there is no real investigation of what happened. All Western media reports that contradict the official mendacious narrative are quashed. Any independent efforts to investigate and to find out the truth are denigrated as “conspiracy theories”—a derogatory term coined by the CIA for exactly this purpose.

Any non-Western media sources that dare to contradict the official mendacious narrative are ignored, subjected to ad hominem attacks and all manner of false allegations and, if all else fails, banned outright (as is currently happening with the satellite TV channel Russia Today).

If that happens to be prevailing method of communicating with the public (as I am convinced, and as you should convince yourself by doing some research if you are not), then what chance do any of us stand of finding out the truth to our satisfaction?

Typically, we expect to be presented with a few, possibly somewhat contradictory, versions of events and, after some probing and deliberation, render a verdict and socialize it among ourselves to reach a consensus which then becomes another brick within the edifice of our consensual reality.

These are high-priority tasks, because maintaining a sense of consensual reality is important: it allows us to distinguish the sane from the insane, and it makes it possible for us to tell our young people, whose minds are too immature to let them reach their own conclusions without being driven toward unfounded or extremist views, what is safe for them to think.

If we are deprived of our ability to maintain a sense of consensual reality, then we lose face before our peers (and our children) and our self-respect suffers because we no longer feel socially adequate.

But what choices are there?

If we swallow the official lies we are being told, knowing full well that they are lies, then we feel like fools. If we refuse to swallow them, then we either have to accept some alternative interpretation or narrative as real in spite of lacking all the facts we need to prove the case—because nobody is going to give them to us—and risk ostracism and marginalization, or we have to take an agnostic stance and declare that while we are not privy to the truth, we know enough to declare that the official story is a tissue of lies. The first two of these are both clearly losing moves while the last is a refusal to play and therefore a forfeit; thus, all three are defeats.

There are no winning moves here.

But it’s even worse than that; not only do we lack a winning strategy, but we also happen to be on a losing team that doesn’t know how to play and loves to be played.

As Ron Unz, the publisher of unz.com, recently put it,

“I’ve sometimes joked with people that if ownership and control of our television stations and other major media outlets suddenly changed, the new information regime would require only a few weeks of concerted effort to totally invert all of our most famous ‘conspiracy theories’ in the minds of the gullible American public.

The notion that nineteen Arabs armed with box-cutters hijacked several jetliners, easily evaded our NORAD air defenses, and reduced several landmark buildings to rubble would soon be universally ridiculed as the most preposterous ‘conspiracy theory’ ever to have gone straight from the comic books into the minds of the mentally ill, easily surpassing the absurd ‘lone gunman’ theory of the JFK assassination.”

Take the example of the ill-fated US invasion of Iraq: 4,801 servicemen dead, 1,455,590 dead Iraqis, a once prosperous country destroyed and turned into a terrorist playground with a weak central government that is aligned with Iran, buying weapons from Russia and increasingly hostile toward the US.

The war was sold to the public in the US using a technique called “proof by juxtaposition” which works like this: keep showing a picture of Bob next to a giant pile of corpses and eventually everyone comes to believe that Bob is a mass murderer, never mind the fact that Bob only killed maybe half a dozen people, and all but one in self-defense or by accident.

This is what was done with Saddam Hussein (who, by the way, was Osama bin Laden’s arch-enemy, who, in turn, had worked for the CIA). By 2003 70% of Americans had been made to believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Center.

“Proof by juxtaposition” works well for the TV-addled zombies in the US, but for the rest of the world, as represented by the UN Security Council, a stronger tissue of lies had to be woven—using forged “intelligence” of Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction.” The world blinked and either voted for or failed to veto the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

The putative weapons were never found and the intelligence that was used to convince the world of their existence turned out to have been fabricated.

This is actually a very big deal, because a reputation for telling the truth can only be lost exactly once, and from then on the use of the phrase “US intelligence sources” became synonymous with “a conspiracy of barefaced liars.” In turn, the standard response to proposals based on “US intelligence” became something along the lines of “go jump in a lake.”

But it took a while for the penny to drop; the last country the US will have ever gained UN’s permission to attack using false intelligence (of a humanitarian disaster) was Libya. Dmitry Medvedev, who was serving as Russia’s president at the time, was still attempting to ingratiate himself with the West and failed to block the resolution—a decision he later regretted.

The delay in processing the fact that all trust is gone, and the additional death and destruction that resulted from it, are deplorable, but now the verdict is in, and it is not subject to appeal. If this last paragraph comes off sounding a bit angry, then that’s probably appropriate; all those wrongful deaths justified using made-up “facts” ought to be on somebody’s conscience—let’s hope not yours or mine.

Getting back to the original question: how can we play this game to win? Based on the above, the base assumption that, whatever the issue, the dominant, official Western narrative is a tissue of lies, is a good one.

Whatever message Washington and Western mass media are trying to push, a perfectly valid response is to point out all the times they have lied in the past, and to pose a simple question: When did they stop lying? Since it is very hard to come up with a reasoned answer to this question, the resolution is to treat all Western governments and media as suspect.

If the official narrative is to be disregarded, then an opening is created for alternative narratives. These can be of at least three kinds.

There are the straw men set up specifically to be torched, along with all those who fall for them: if they can’t convince you of False Narrative A, then they try to convince you of False Narrative B (which seems attractive to you because it makes them look bad) so that they can label you as a “conspiracy theorist” and run you off the road and into a ditch.

Then there is False Narrative C: counter-narratives crafted by other nation-states—geopolitical adversaries (like Russia, China and Iran) or pariah states (such as Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea).

Here, you risk being labeled as peddler of foreign influence (if you fall for them) or become stuck in a mental no man’s land (if you don’t).

In each case, you can try to make sense of the situation by asking the question, Cui bono? With Falsehood A, the beneficiary is the US elites, oligarchs, deep state, etc. Same with False Narrative B, except within a “they win or you lose” pattern. Same again with False Narrative C, except that here “they” are foreign liars rather than domestic ones. But even if you know who is lying to you and why, you still can’t win, in the sense of getting at the truth.

But you can win—by looking at the results. What you are looking for is a consistent pattern of failure. You see, those who lie to others also tend to lie to themselves.

Out of any large group of people, only a few high-performing sociopaths can consistently lie to others while remaining truthful and honest within their own minds; for everyone else the experience of being immersed in a cesspool of lies is spiritually corrosive, emotionally debilitating and so demoralizing that they are unlikely to adequately perform their duties.

I have downed many a beer with both enlisted men and officers who have been through tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and listened carefully to their tales of woe. Rarely did any of their official indoctrination survive contact with “the enemy.” Most unfortunately, the emotional damage caused by this experience is often permanent.

Beyond the emotional impact of lies, there is the practical effect of hampered judgment in those in command. Lies beget other lies, and pretty soon unbiased intelligence-gathering, rational analysis and proper mission planning become impossible.

The guaranteed, repeatable result is a fiasco:

Look at Kosovo: a failed narco-state run by a mafia.narco-state run by a mafia.

Look at Afghanistan: the Taliban are back and better than ever, and the heroin business is booming.

Look at Iraq: a playground for terrorists and aligned with Iran. 

Look at Libya: a destroyed country that is a playground for Islamic militants and a transshipment point for European migrants.

Look at Syria: the Syrians and the Russians have largely reconquered it from the US-armed, US-trained terrorists.

Look at the Ukraine: it has splintered, the best part of its population has fled to Russia, and it now makes a compelling case study for all five stages of collapse.

Look for counterexamples to this pattern: you are unlikely to find any.

Those who march into battle under the banner of Truth are far more likely to prevail than those who sally forth with their loins girded with the fig leaf of public deceit.

You may not be able to decipher the writing on the banner, but you can certainly tell when the winds of autumn blow away the fig leaf; then,

“Ye shall know them by their fruits.” [Matthew 7:16]


Source: Club Orlov

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Simon Harris and wife welcome new baby boy

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Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has announced the birth of a baby son.

Posting on Instagram, the Minister said he and his wife Caoimhe had on Wednesday “welcomed Baby Cillian into the world”. Cillian is the couple’s second child, they also have a daughter Saoirse.

“Caoimhe and baby doing great and Saoirse delighted to be a big sister and looking forward to meeting him soon.”

Mr Harris thanked all of the staff at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin.

The Fine Gael TD said he will be taking paternity leave for a few weeks to “get to know this new little man”.

In a previous post he said Tánaiste Leo Varadkar would be taking any of his department’s business to Government during the time while Minister of State Niall Collins would be carrying out his day-to-day work in the department and Labour leader Alan Kelly would be providing a pair for Dáil votes.

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Macron presses Biden for ‘clarifications’ over submarine snub

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Macron was left furious by Australia’s decision last week to ditch a 2016 deal to buy diesel submarines from France in favour of nuclear-powered ones from the United States and Britain.

After a cabinet meeting, government spokesman Gabriel Attal made clear French anger had not abated with an unusually frank statement of Macron’s expectations from the scheduled conversation with 78-year-old Biden.

The exchange would be an opportunity to “clarify both the way in which this announcement was made and the way for an American re-engagement in its relationship with an ally,” Attal said.

Paris was particularly outraged that Australia negotiated with Washington and London in secret, which French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced as “treachery” and a “stab in the back”.

French officials were notified about the loss of the contract just hours before Biden unveiled the new AUKUS security and defence partnership between the three English-speaking countries.

READ ALSO OPINION: France’s Australian submarine row shows that Macron was right about NATO

Macron was expecting “clarifications about the American decision to keep a European ally outside of fundamental talks about cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,” Attal added, without giving the schedule time for the exchange.

“We expect our allies to acknowledge that the exchanges and consultations that should have taken place did not, and that this poses a question about confidence, which all of us need to draw conclusions about now.”

Showdown

The submarine row has plunged Franco-US ties into what some analysts view as the most acute crisis since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Paris opposed.

After four years of tumultuous relations with ex-president Donald Trump, the spat has also dashed hopes of a complete reset under Biden, who took office in January aiming to rebuild frazzled ties with Europe.

As the row drags on, observers and some of France’s European partners are wondering how and when the French leader will call an end to the face-off, which is playing out just seven months ahead of presidential elections.

British Prime Minister Johnson said it was “time for some of our dearest friends around the world to ‘prenez un grip’ (get a grip)” in comments in Washington that mixed French and English.

“‘Donnez-moi un break’ because this is fundamentally a great step forward for global security,” he told Sky News.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, whose country is staunchly pro-American, defended Biden as “very loyal” and warned against turning “challenges which will always exist between allies into something they should not be.”

Conditions

Attal said that France and the US needed to begin a process “to create the conditions for confidence to be restored”.

As well as an acknowledgement of French interests in the Pacific region, the process should include “full recognition by our American allies of the need to boost European sovereignty as well as the importance of the growing commitment by the Europeans to their own defence and security.”

This latter point is a source of tension between Biden and Macron, who has pushed hard during his four-and-a-half years in office for Europeans to invest more in defence and pool resources in order to increase their joint military capabilities.

The US, and some EU members including Denmark and Baltic countries, see this as a potential challenge to NATO, the US-led transatlantic military alliance that has been the cornerstone of European defence since World War II.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly argued against the idea of France withdrawing from NATO command structures, which some politicians in France have suggested in the wake of the submarines snub.

“Is it worth slamming the door on NATO? I don’t think so,” she said, while adding that “political dialogue is non-existent in NATO.”

Australia’s decision to order nuclear-powered submarines was driven by concern about China’s commercial and military assertiveness in the Pacific region, where Biden is seeking to build an alliance of democratic states to help contain Beijing.



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Paschal Donohoe plans bank levy extension but lower haul

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Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will continue the Irish banking levy beyond its scheduled conclusion date at the end of this year, but plans to lower the targeted annual haul from the current €150 million as overseas lenders Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland retreat from the market, according to sources.

Reducing the industry overall levy target will avoid the remaining three banks facing higher levy bills at a time when the Government is seeking to lower its stakes in the bailed-out lenders.

AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB paid a combined €93 million levy in each of the last two years, according to their latest annual reports. A decision on the new targeted yield, currently linked to deposit interest retention tax (DIRT) collected by banks on customers’ savings, will be announced at the unveiling of Budget 2022 on October 12th.

Originally introduced in 2014 by then minister for finance Michael Noonan for three years to ensure banks made a “contribution” to a recovering economy after the sector’s multibillion-euro taxpayer bailout, the annual banking levy has since been extended to the end of 2021.

A further extension of the levy has largely been expected by the banks and industry analysts, as the sector has been able to use multibillion euro losses racked up during the financial crisis to reduce their tax bills. A spokesman for the Department of Finance declined to comment on the future status of the banking levy as planning for Budget 2022 continues.

AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB (PTSB) alone have utilised almost €500 million of tax losses against their corporation tax bills between 2017 and 2019, according to Department of Finance figures.

Sources said that the Government will be keen not to land a levy increase on the three lenders at a time when it is currently selling down its stake in Bank of Ireland and plotting a course for the reduction of its positions in AIB and PTSB in time.

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which holds the Bank of Ireland stake on behalf of the Minister for Finance, sold 2 percentage points of holding in the market between July and August, reducing its interest to just below 12 per cent.

Meanwhile, it has been reported in recent days that the UK government is planning to lower an 8 per cent surcharge that it has applied to bank profits since the start of 2016. It comes as the general UK corporation tax is set to rise from 19 per cent to 25 per cent in 2023.

“The optics of reducing the surcharge might still be bad politically, but it would signal the partial rehabilitation for the nation’s banking sector,” said Eamonn Hughes, an analyst with Goodbody Stockbrokers, in a note to clients on Tuesday, adding that he continues to factor in a retention of the Irish banking levy in his financial estimates for banks over the medium term.

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