Friday, January 22, 2010

Is The U.S. Economy Being Tanked By Mistake or By Intent?

The government wants Americans to believe the greatest economic collapse in history was the result of ineptness and mistakes yet still have confidence in their financial institutions.

Should American bankers be let off the hook because they self-declare, before an investigational panel, that the failure of their newly invented risk swaps and other highly leveraged investment schemes was simply due to "mistakes"? Not malfeasance – just every-day mistakes? Bankers just fell asleep at the helm at a critical juncture in American history. Is that what we are being led to believe?

Oh well, it’s just 18 million American homes that now lay empty in the wake of unprecedented foreclosures, and the bankers have collected obscene bonuses for reckless lending of their depositors’ money. It’s like the captain and crew of a ship saying, not to worry, twenty-percent of the passengers were lost overboard, but this was due to unavoidable mistakes, and then being rewarded with bonuses when they reach port.

Are Americans to believe that the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to create a false bubble in the economy, at the same time the Securities Exchange Commission allowed investment banks risky reserve ratios and exerted lax control over investment tycoons like Bernie Madoff, and in lock step, the credit rating agencies (Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s) handed out sterling A+ credit ratings on risky mortgage-backed securities, while the US Treasury Department stood by and did nothing?

Shall Americans conclude the world’s largest economy is beyond the management skills and regulation of virtually every financial arm of government and the private sector? If so, widespread incompetence would suggest Americans had better come up with some institution or instrument of their own invention to protect their money.

Whatever or whomever did bring down the American economy, it appears to be an orchestrated effort. If one arm of the financial industry had objected or performed their job responsibly, the whole economic collapse could have been averted. The credit rating agencies alone could have put an abrupt halt to what amounts to a financial collapse of western civilization.

Lenses into the future: a planned default?

Americans cannot see the economy as the elites do. The elites have lenses into the future. They have access to information that foretells the future of our economy. They can see a better picture of when mounting debt will rise beyond the ability to repay.

They certainly can see pension funds, private and public, are under-funded and there is no way, with Baby Boomers now entering their retirement years, these obligations can be met. Medicare expenses are totally out of control with enrollees able to rack up bills in the tens of thousands of dollars beyond what they ever paid into the system.

At some point, seeing no way out, maybe a decision was made to default on our debts. There are rumblings that the world economy is being intentionally brought to its knees in order to usher in a one-world currency.

There are other hints that the US is intentionally tanking its economy.

  • Normally the US Patent & Trademark Office could be seen as a pathway to jump-start the economy. Some 6300 patent examiners hold the future fate of the American economy in their hands. But the patent office is backlogged. It embarrassingly has 6 years of patent applications, what amounts to over 1 million filings, waiting to be evaluated. Over $700 million of fees have been siphoned off by Congress to pay for other extraneous government projects, slowing the patent approval process to an agonizingly pace. About 7 of every 10 applicants were granted a patent in the past. But today, less than half are approved.
  • In the past decade there also appeared to be an effort to drive States into debt. Colorado, a State that had a mandated spending limit, was belittled for stifling its economy. Lies were told that Colorado was so bogged down with this limitation that it repealed its spending limit bill. That was far from the truth.
  • Another business stifling practice has been to limit the amount of large funds actually available to the economy in what is called M3 money supply. M1 is the amount of currency and traveler’s checks in circulation outside banks, along with demand deposits and other checkable deposits. M2 is M1 plus savings deposits, such as money market accounts. M3 is M2 plus large time-restricted deposits, institutional money-market funds and other large liquid assets. M3 is the best official measure of the total supply of money.

As of March 23, 2006, the M3 money supply is no longer published by the US central bank. So Americans can’t get a full view of what government is doing with the total money supply. The M3 is now estimated by two websites – and A severe contraction in the M3 money supply began to be reported in August of 2008. It appears there has been a sudden downturn in M3 funds, which could choke the economy at a critical time.

"Total money"
M3 plus credit, recent time

By plan or mistake?

It would be difficult for the American public to even contemplate the idea that their government may be intentionally tanking the economy. So we are left with the commonly-heard claim that people in government are just incompetent, there is no conspiracy of any kind. Regardless, heads should roll, and we still have the same derelict captains (Bernanke, Geithner) at the helm.

Whatever is planned for the future US economy, there certainly must be contingency plans in place to devalue the dollar, issue new currency, declare banking holidays, reappraise the value of real estate to true market value (~ 30% drop), sell off government-held real estate assets to hedge funds, confiscate guns, invoke marshal law, etc. If these events occur, they won’t be without forethought. Call it conspiracy if you will.

On November 21, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt stated, "The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the United States since the days of Andrew Jackson."

Few Americans recognize the merger of state and corporate powers, with the news media also subservient to those in power. How gullible the public has been over recent decades to not see how government and business have conspired to raise the price of goods.

The oil embargo of the 1970s

I can recall the gasoline crisis/OPEC oil embargo of the 1970s. I was traveling around the US on business at the time and I noticed that shortages of gasoline were not nationwide but were actually being staged in different regions. In Seattle there was no shortage of gasoline, but there were long lines at gas stations in Los Angeles. There was no scarcity of gasoline in Atlanta, but later there were long lines at gas pumps throughout Georgia. TV screens around the nation made it falsely appear the shortage was nationwide.

The 1970s gasoline crisis was a concerted effort between government, oil producers and the news media to fool Americans into thinking there was a pervasive shortage of gasoline despite the fact OPEC, the oil-producing cartel, was founded because of an over-abundance of oil.

I recall reading an article in Fortune Magazine in 1963 how oil companies longed to find a way to raise the price of gasoline to European levels. Pre-OPEC, oil was sold at competing prices. That couldn’t be tolerated. A spot-price had to be introduced. Then one country couldn’t undersell another and prices would "stabilize." The OPEC cartel eliminated competition, except for Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in recent times. Of course, Chavez is demonized. We do not have free markets, we have controlled markets based upon contrived events.

Graph of oil prices from 1861–2007, showing a sharp increase in 1973, and again during the 1979 energy crisis. The orange line is adjusted for inflation.

Examine this map of failed banks in 2008–2009. There are over 2000 failed banks the FDIC indicates it needs to dissolve. Notice how evenly the bank failures are spread geographically across the US. The geographical locus of home foreclosures is centered in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. But bank closures appear to be more evenly spread, as if to create public awareness (and fear) in every geographic region that banks are in trouble. This is eerily similar to the geographically revolving gasoline shortages in the 1970s.

Tax cut or payoff to oil companies?

Another example of complicity between government and industry is the most recent run up in gasoline prices which began early in the past decade. The news media failed to note that when GW Bush passed his first tax cut in 2001, early in his first term in office, it was rapidly followed by an increase in gasoline prices at the pump. Had President Bush cut taxes in order to put money into consumers’ hands so they could then pay ghastly high gasoline bills? The tax cut appears to have been a hand-in-hand arrangement between oil producers and the federal government. Gasoline prices rose till the public began curtailing their driving. The oil companies had now determined the top price they could get for their refined oil without collapsing demand.

There is nothing wrong with companies determining the top price consumers will pay for their goods, but there is something wrong when government secretly schemes with oil companies to create false market value, as they have also done in real estate.

Looking back in recent American history, there were also shortages of coffee and bananas in the 1970s and 80s, all staged events blamed on storms in South America that ruined crops. In those days, Americans didn’t have easy access to weather maps and information via the internet. These shortages were prolonged and prices rose until usage declined. Then the barons who ruled the coffee and banana industries had found the top price they could sell their products at without dampening demand. Suddenly, the shortages disappeared. The public never imagined these shortages were all artificially created.

Just as the price of oil, bananas and coffee were covertly engineered by a hidden alliance between government, industry and news outlets, is currency being gamed in the same fashion today? If so, current economic events are not by mistake.

Since President Roosevelt banned citizens from owning gold in 1933, the people were left holding increasingly worthless pieces of paper.

Americans can’t imagine how monetary policy has eroded their purchasing power. The US was officially taken off the gold standard in 1971. Issuance of silver certificates ceased in 1964. Had the US dollar continued to be backed by gold, the rise in the value of gold would have offset recent increases in gasoline prices at the pump, a fact Ron Paul has brought to the public’s attention.

For example, a portion of the rise in oil prices in recent years is due to erosion in the value of the dollar. Had the dollar remained strong the relative price of a barrel of oil would only have been around $65 in 2007-2008. If you compare the spot price of oil to gold, there has been almost no increase. Imagine what a gold-backed currency would do for America? Again, government (the Federal Reserve) has now admitted that it has arranged gold swaps with foreign banks in a prearranged way to suppress the value of gold.

Is inflation inevitable? Or is it planned? Will the American public ever imagine the value of their money has long been manipulated just as the price of coffee, bananas, gasoline and gold have been engineered in an unholy alliance between government and bankers and corporate enterprise? Will the American public ever realize their government is working against them, plunder their wealth, in a growing fascist alliance with American corporations? The enemy is not the underpants airplane bomber as we are falsely being led to believe. The enemy is not a towelhead in Afghanistan. The enemy is not China. As Pogo once said, "we have met the enemy, and he is us."

January 19, 2010

Bill Sardi [send him mail] is a frequent writer on health and political topics. His health writings can be found at He is the author of You Don’t Have To Be Afraid Of Cancer Anymore.

Copyright © 2010 Bill Sardi Word of Knowledge Agency, San Dimas, California. This article has been written exclusively for and other parties who wish to refer to it should link rather than post at other URLs.

Over a Dozen Georgia Lawmakers Failed to File State Tax Returns

Over a dozen Georgia lawmakers have failed to file their 2008 state tax returns, on the heels of a scandal last year involving 22 Georgia lawmakers who failed to pay their 2007 state taxes.

New jobless claims rise unexpectedly

Official: Much of increase due to administrative backlog over holidays

WASHINGTON - A surprising jump in first-time claims for unemployment aid sent a painful reminder Thursday that jobs remain scarce six months into the economic recovery.

The surge in last week's claims deflated hopes among some analysts that the economy would produce a net gain in jobs in January and help fuel the recovery.

A Labor Department analyst said much of the increase was due to holiday-season-related administrative backlogs at the state agencies that process the claims. Still, economists noted that that would mean claims in previous weeks had been artificially low. Those earlier declines had sparked optimism that layoffs were tapering and that employers would add a modest number of jobs in January.

The January employment report will be issued Feb. 5. But the surveys used to compile that report were done last week, so economists are paying close attention to the jobless claims figures from that week.

"The trend in the data is still discouraging," Diane Swonk, chief economist for Mesirow Financial, wrote in a note to clients. "Hopes for a positive employment number in January ... are rapidly dimming."

The disappointing jobless claims report contributed to a gloom on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 182 points by late morning, or 1.7 percent, and broader indexes also fell.

A separate report Thursday that seeks to forecast future economic activity offered a more positive outlook. The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators jumped 1.1 percent in December, suggesting that economic growth could pick up this spring. ]

In its report on jobless claims, the Labor Department said initial claims for unemployment aid rose by 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 482,000. Wall Street economists had expected a small drop, according to Thomson Reuters.The four-week average, which smooths fluctuations, rose for the first time since August, to 448,250.

Initial claims had dropped steadily since last fall as companies cut fewer jobs. First-time claims have dropped by 50,000, or nearly 10 percent, since late October.

Still, employers are reluctant to hire. The Labor Department said earlier this month that employers cut 85,000 jobs in December, after adding 4,000 in November. November's increase was the first in nearly two years. The unemployment rate was 10 percent in December, unchanged from November.

Many economists say the four-week average of jobless claims would need to fall consistently below 425,000 to signal that the economy is close to generating net job gains.

The economy is growing, but not fast enough to bring down widespread joblessness. Most economists estimate that the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy's output, grew at about a 4 percent clip in last year's fourth quarter. That followed 2.2 percent growth in the July-September period.

The Labor Department report said the number of people continuing to claim regular benefits dropped slightly to just under 4.6 million. The continuing claims data lags behind initial claims by a week.

But the so-called continuing claims do not include millions of people who have used up the regular 26 weeks of benefits customarily provided by states and are now receiving extended benefits for up to 73 additional weeks, paid for by the federal government.

More than 5.9 million people received extended benefits in the week that ended Jan. 2, the latest period for which data are available. That's an increase of more than 600,000 from the previous week. The data for emergency benefits lags behind initial claims by two weeks.

The rising number of people claiming extended unemployment insurance indicates that even as layoffs are declining, hiring hasn't picked up. That leaves people out of work for longer periods.

Not Enough Votes to Pass Senate Health Bill in House

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she does not have the votes to pass the Senate's version of a health insurance bill that is now in severe jeopardy of being scrapped.

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she does not have the votes to pass the Senate's version of a health insurance bill that is now in severe jeopardy of being scrapped.

Just days ago, that was the most viable option for keeping alive President Obama's top domestic priority, but with the election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, the fragile coalition of Democrats has broken apart as lawmakers bicker over which portions of the $900 billion, 10-year Senate bill they will and won't accept.

Emerging from a closed-door meeting with her caucus, the House speaker vented frustration with the massive version of the legislation.

"In its present form without any changes I don't think it's possible to pass the Senate bill in the House," said Pelosi, D-Calif. "I don't see the votes for it at this time."

Among the issues that House lawmakers are unwilling to accept is the 40 percent excise tax on high-value insurance plans that unions earned an exemption from until 2018 after major backlash toward the Democratic-led Congress.

Lawmakers are now looking at options that were left on the drawing board as the party looks to pursue a more modest bill. Senior House Democratic aides say they are evaluating the potential of taking parts of the existing bill and passing it in a piecemeal fashion. But they say privately there is no roadmap and they don't expect to have a decision for a couple of weeks.

Pelosi didn't present a blueprint for how Democrats might proceed on health care, except to say that "everything is on the table."

"We're not in a big rush. We'll pause," Pelosi said. "We have to know what our possibilities are."

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Tarpley - Indict Tim Geithner - March On Wall St

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"Underwear Bomber" case mishandled by White House, says intel chief

Hearings before the U.S. Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today revealed that the nation's top intelligence officer, the Homeland Security secretary and the CIA chief were not consulted by the White House after the capture of the so-called "Underwear Bomber."

In testimony he gave as he sat before the committee senators, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said the Christmas Day airline bombing suspect should have been detained as a terror suspect when the plane landed and that it was a mistake to arrest him as a criminal suspect.
He stated that special interrogators rather than civilian law enforcement officers should have questioned the would-be bomber.

The Nigerian terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was reportedly interrogated by federal law enforcement investigators when Northwest Flight 253 landed at Detroit International Airport on Christmas Day after he allegedly tried to detonate a makeshift bomb he surreptitiously took through airport security in Nigeria and Amsterdam. Abdulmutallab presently is being held in a secure prison about 50 miles outside of Detroit.

Blair told the Senate committee members that he was not consulted on about Abdulmutallab and whether or not he should be interrogated by President Barack Obama's new High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group. Obama had decided to remove interrogation responsibility from the Central Intelligence Agency and have a team conduct interrogations of suspected terrorists.

"That unit was created just for this type of case," Blair said. "We should have put it before them. The decision was made on the scene. We should have used it."

Blair and U.S. National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter, who was also on a panel this morning, have come under heat for the failed Christmas Day plot and its aftermath.

It was the Obama Justice Department that immediately indicted Abdulmutallab on criminal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft even after he told cops he had ties to al Qaeda and had picked up his explosives at an al-Qaeda training camp in Yemen. And they did it without notifying intelligence or homeland security officials.

Last Summer, the Obama White House announced that the CIA would no longer interrogate suspected terrorists. Any and all interrogations will be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the direct supervision of a member of the Obama Administration, although no one had been named “Interrogation Czar.”

The move was part of Attorney General Eric Holder’s intention to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the CIA agents involved in interrogations already investigated by the CIA’s Inspector General’s Office. Holder's critics have pointed out that his law firm represented several terrorists who were tried by the U.S.

Groups such as Amnesty International, Code Pick and others are applauding Attorney General Holder’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate cases brought to the Department of Justice against members of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Obama authorizes covert economic war against Venezuela

WMR’s intelligence sources have reported that the Obama administration has authorized an economic war against Venezuela in order to destabilize the government of President Hugo Chavez.

After a successful coup against Chavez ally, President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, and the very thin 51-49 percent electoral win by Chile’s billionaire right-winger Sebastian Pinera on January 17, a buoyed Obama White House has given a green light for political operatives in Venezuela, many of whom operate under the cover of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to set the stage for massive street demonstrations to protest Chavez’s devaluation of the bolivar, Venezuela’s currency.

Chavez devalued the bolivar by 50 percent to make Venezuelan oil exports less expensive, thus boosting revenue for his country. However, the devaluation has also seen price rises and inflation in Venezuela and the CIA and its subservient NGOs have wasted little time in putting out stories about consumers rushing to the stories ahead of an increase in consumer products, with imported flat-screen televisions being the favorite consumer item being hyped by the corporate media as seeing a huge price increase and long lines at shopping malls favored by the Venezuelan elites.

The state has exempted certain consumer goods such as food, medicines, school supplies, and industrial machinery from being affected by the bolivar’s devaluation through a different exchange rate and price controls, but it is the price increases on televisions, tobacco, alcohol, cell phones, and computers that has the anti-Chavez forces in Venezuela and abroad hyping the ill-effects on the Venezuelan consumer.

To battle against businessmen who are trying to capitalize on the devaluation of the bolivar, Chavez has threatened to close and possibly seize any business that gouges the consumer by inordinately raising prices. The first target of a temporary closure was a Caracas store owned by the French firm Exito.

International investment analysts praised Chavez’s decision to devalue the bolivar and said the decision was overdue considering the fall of oil prices worldwide. However, the CIA and NGOs, many aligned with George Soros’s Open Society Institute and the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy are planning large street demonstrations against Chavez’s handling of the economy.

National Assembly elections are scheduled for September but the Obama administration has decided that if Chavez can be removed now, his allies in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and some Caribbean island states will quickly abandon Chavez’s alternative to American-led Western Hemisphere financial contrivances and free trade pacts, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).

The Obama planners then see Cuba, once again, being isolated in the hemisphere and ripe for increased U.S. political pressure. Cuba was placed on the list of 14 countries requiring additional airline passenger screening as part of the policy to pressure and isolate Cuba. There is a possibility that with the outbreak of U.S.-inspired violence in the streets of Venezuela, that nation could join Cuba on the list as the 15th country.

The Obama administration’s assault is two-fold: economic and political. Pressure is being applied against the gasoline chain Citgo, which is owned by the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA, and Venezuelan investment favorability ratings. Politically, the U.S. is overtly and covertly funneling money to anti-Chavez groups through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and groups affiliated with George Soros.

There is also a small military component to Obama’s strategy of undermining Chavez. U.S., P-3 Orion overflights of Venezuelan airspace from bases in Aruba and Curacao are designed to intimidate Chavez and activate Venezuelan radar and command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) systems to gather electronic and signals intelligence data that would be used by the United States to jam Venezuelan military networks in the event of a U.S.-inspired uprising against Chavez by U.S. loyalists embedded in the Venezuelan military, police, PDVSA, and media. The U.S. is also stoking cross-border incursions into Venezuela by Colombian paramilitaries to gauge Venezuela’s border defenses. Last November, Colombian right-wing paramilitary units killed two Venezuelan National Guardsmen inside Venezuela in Tachira state. Weapons caches maintained by Colombians inside Venezuela have been seized by Venezuelan authorities. Venezuela has also arrested a number of Colombian DAS intelligence agents inside Venezuela.

Obama signed a military agreement with Colombia that allows the United States to establish seven air and naval bases in Colombia. An additional agreement by Obama with Panama will see the U.S. military return to that nation to set up two military bases.

It is estimated that some 25 percent of Venezuelans are likely Fifth Columnists who would take part in a revolt against Chavez. Many of them based in the Venezuelan oil-producing state of Zulia and the capital of Maracaibo, where successive U.S. ambassadors in Caracas have stoked secessionist embers and where the CIA and U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency have concentrated much of their efforts. In November, Venezuelan police arrested in Maracaibo, Magaly Janeth Moreno Vega, also known as “The Pearl,” the leader of the right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which has been directly linked to Colombia’s pro-U.S. President Alvaro Uribe and members of his government, including former Colombian Attorney General Luis Camilo Osorio Isaza, appointed by Uribe as Colombia’s ambassador to Mexico.

Bloom exposes more global warming scammers

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Iceland to hold referendum on international debt repayments

Iceland’s Social Democrat-Left Green coalition has confirmed that a referendum on whether to honour the controversial agreement to repay Britain and the Netherlands a total of €3.9 billion by 2024 will be held on March 6.

Late last year, the Icelandic parliament narrowly passed the so-called IceSave bill, which would provide a state guarantee to meet the onerous terms of the agreement, which is designed to repay London and The Hague for compensating hundreds of thousands of British and Dutch citizens who lost savings during the collapse of Iceland’s national bank, Landsbanki.

On January 5 President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson refused to sign the bill into law, triggering a constitutional mandate that the bill be subjected to a national referendum. In the event the electorate votes down the bill, which looks likely according to the latest polls, the legislation will not come into effect.

Announcing the referendum the government declared, “The Icelandic Government has clearly stated its intention to honour its international obligations and remains fully committed to implementing the bilateral loan agreements with the UK and the Netherlands and thus the state guarantee provided for by the law.”

An AFP article noted, “The Icelandic government, which has staked its political future on the Icesave legislation, has indicated in recent days that it would like to reopen talks with Britain and The Netherlands in a bid to avoid a referendum.”

Amounting to 50 percent of Iceland’s GDP, it has been estimated that the yearly repayments under the terms of the present agreement could rise as high as €400 million. A failure to repay the debt within the stipulated timeframe would incur further debts due to the 5.5 per cent interest rate attached to the loans advanced to Reykjavik by London and Amsterdam.

Initial responses to President Grímsson’s decision to submit the agreement to a referendum were universally harsh within the financial establishment. Iceland was denounced as a country unwilling to pay its debts, with the UK Treasury Secretary Lord Myners declaring that if Icelanders voted against the agreement they would “effectively be saying that Iceland does not want to be part of the international financial system.”

The collective outrage directed towards Iceland was driven by the concern that no country, no matter how small, should be allowed to challenge the principle that ordinary people must be made to pay for the debts accrued by the speculative practices of the financial elite.

Some commentators are beginning to question the wisdom of imposing such devastating demands on the Icelandic population. Eva Joly, who has been engaged in investigating the banking collapse, told an interviewer on Icelandic television that a third party, possibly Germany or France, should be tasked with chairing new negotiations on the so-called IceSave issue. In other comments, she has labelled the demands being placed on Iceland as “blackmail.”

In a piece entitled “How the Icelandic saga should end,” Martin Wolf, writing in the Financial Times commented, “Do Iceland’s taxpayers have a moral obligation to pay this loan? My view is: no. The delusion that finance was the path to riches was propounded by countries that should have known far better. I cannot blame Icelanders for succumbing. I certainly do not want generations of Icelanders to bear the cost.”

Wolf, one of the more astute bourgeois commentators on the financial crisis, is no doubt well aware of the mounting anger developing within the Icelandic population, as well as internationally, against the bailout of the banks by ordinary people. At the same time, he is conscious that the current set-up is far from stable, and that any default by Iceland could have far-reaching consequences.

In this regard, Wolf noted the UK government’s statement that as much as 90 percent of the outstanding debt could be recovered by the liquidation of Landsbanki’s remaining assets. He pointed out, “The obvious answer to the latter point is this: if the assets of the bank are that valuable, why not write off the debt, in return for the claims on these assets?”

This claim is in reality a highly optimistic assessment, based on a strong revival in international financial markets. But such concerns notwithstanding, pressure on Iceland is mounting. The Scandinavian countries, which have pledged a joint $2.5 billion support package, have indicated that future instalments will be withheld until the IceSave dispute is resolved. The IMF, whilst insisting that its support is not tied to IceSave, has delayed its latest “review” of Iceland’s economic progress. IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a press conference, “If many countries in the international community feel that we should wait with our review of our recovery package for Iceland, then we must do that.”

Without the continued support which the combined $10 billion package provided to Iceland, the danger of state bankruptcy will re-emerge. Further cuts in government spending will have to be launched, and additional pressure will be placed on the battered Krona, which has lost more than half its value against other major currencies since the middle of 2007.

With polls indicating that a substantial majority of Icelanders reject being made responsible for the debts of the failed banks, opposition parties in parliament and various groups have sought to present themselves as opponents of the IceSave agreement. Birgita Jónsdóttir, an MP from the Movement, which was formed to contest the elections last April, called for a mediator to oversee new negotiations, but stated that a Scandinavian country would not be acceptable. She said that Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland would not be able to act impartially since they were “the same countries which have been putting the thumb screw on us over the Icesave issue.”

The main force behind the official campaign against IceSave has been the InDefence group. A petition launched by InDefence, calling for Grímsson to send the bill to a national referendum, attracted the signatures of 25 percent of the adult population—nearly 60,000 people. The organisation has its roots in the aftermath of the 2008 banking collapse, when it was founded to promote Iceland’s image in the international community and to oppose the use of anti-terror laws by the UK against the failed financial institutions. Those behind the group’s formation had close ties to Britain, with many reportedly having had business dealings there and having been educated at British universities.

As well as enjoying close ties to the right-wing Progressive Party, which has ruled in the past with the conservative Independence Party, reports have linked InDefence representatives with Kaupthing, the largest of Iceland’s failed banks. Far from a “grassroots organisation”, as Britain’s Daily Telegraph described it, the group was engaged at the start of 2009 in hiring lawyers on behalf of Kaupthing to enquire into the possibility of legal action against the British government due to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s decision to place Kaupthing’s UK operations into administration in October 2008.

Another of their leaders, Magnús Arni Skúlason, was forced to resign his position on the board of the Icelandic central bank last summer after it emerged that he had worked to bypass the currency restriction regulations put in place to support the Krona in the aftermath of the banking collapse.

The campaign waged under the leadership of this organisation has taken a nationalist character. National resentment is also being encouraged by Davíd Oddsson, the former central bank governor and Independence Party leader, who has now become the editor of Morgunbladid, Iceland’s largest circulation daily newspaper.

Such a nationalist campaign does not provide a viable means for ordinary Icelanders to defend their living standards against the sweeping attacks demanded by the political establishment as a whole. This is demonstrated by the fact that, while much has been made about the IceSave repayments, InDefence has said nothing about the vast sums of government money given over for the re-capitalisation of Iceland’s failed financial institutions.

Estimates suggested that Glittnir bank could receive up to 65 billion Kronur, Kaupthing 73 billion Kronur and Landsbanki over 100 billion Kronur. Such vast sums have been obtained by the government’s implementation of austerity measures. These include massive spending cuts, 70 billion Kronur of which were announced last June, and tax hikes. Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardóttir’s Social Democrat-Left Green coalition has pledged to work towards reducing the budget deficit by 2013, which makes further cuts inevitable.

Why Is The US Military Occupying Four Airports In Haiti?

Why Is The US Military Occupying Four Airports In Haiti?

The United States is now operating at four airports to ferry aid and relief supplies to quake-devastated Haiti, a senior US military commander said Thursday.

In addition to the Caribbean nation’s main port of entry, Port-au-Prince airport, US forces were also now at work at airports in the coastal city of Jacmel.

They were also operating in the neighboring Dominican Republic at San Isidro and Barahona, US Southern Command chief General Douglas Fraser said.

Around 11,000 US military personnel are currently controlling the operations both on the ground and offshore aboard US Navy and Coast Guard vessels, and another 4,000 US troops are expected to arrive in the coming days.

The Americans’ controlling of the aid operations has raised tensions with some countries. Bolivia and Venezuela have criticized its heavy presence and France earlier expressed annoyance after aid planes were delayed from landing.

French Secretary of State for Cooperation Alain Joyandet called on the United Nations to clarify the US role in Haiti, saying the priority was “helping Haiti, not occupying Haiti.”

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) has complained that five of its planes carrying a total of 85 tons of medical and relief supplies have been diverted from Port-au-Prince to the Dominican Republic since January 14, although one of its planes was allowed to land this week.

On Thursday, the Haitian president said that “Haiti is not under guardianship” of other countries as they help nurse and feed the victims of last week’s huge quake.

Also, Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told RTL radio in Port-au-Prince: “The Americans are here at our request, they are here purely to help us with our humanitarian and security needs.”

However, many commentators see in that US is not welcomed in Haiti. They confirm that US seeks to re-occupy Haiti. The U.S. occupied Haiti until 1934.

American troops returned in 1994, and now, the US Marines are back in Haiti for the same mission but under a different title: to support Haiti relief.

Phyllis Bennis said in Huffington post that “the reality is, on the ground, U.S. military forces take charge, as the United Nations is pushed aside.”

Rescue Efforts
Search teams in Haiti on Thursday refused to abandon hope of finding more survivors of the quake after two children were pulled alive from the rubble in 24 hours.

More than eight days after the devastating tremor, which killed at least 75,000 and left a million homeless, rescuers said they could not rule out the possibility of some victims still being alive under the debris.

And they said the powerful 6.1 aftershock that shook Haiti on Wednesday could have dislodged masonry giving fresh opportunities to free any last remaining survivors.

“The aftershock could have made the structures subside, but it might have also freed people trapped between two pieces of concrete,” said French firefighter Gilles Perroux.

As the focus of aid efforts turned to the vast task of providing food, water, medicine and shelter to an increasingly desperate population, rescuers said chances of survival were slim but not impossible.

Also on Thursday, Haiti officials said they were relocating thousands of homeless earthquake victims to hastily erected villages designed to each hold at least 10,000 people.

“The government has made available to people free transportation. A large operation is taking place: we’re in the process of relocating homeless people,” said Haitian Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime.

Officials said the government was paying for at least 34 buses to take victims to the south and north of the country from the capital Port-au-Prince, which was largely destroyed in a 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

Global warming is dead. What’s the next eco-scare?

From Marc Morano,…

As the man-made global warming fear movement collapses and the climate establishment lay in a Climategate ridden tatters, many are asking what next? (For latest on climate movement’s demise go to

As man-made global warming fears enter the ashbin of history, what will environmentalists, UN activists and politicians do to fill the void of a failed eco-scare?

Well, wonder no more….

Some forward thinking green activists and even the UN climate Chief have already taken up the task of test-marketing the next eco-scares to replace man-made global warming.

One of the most prominent eco-scares now being quietly promoted behind man-made climate fears is the allegedly “growing” nitrous oxide (a.k.a. “laughing gas”) threat to the planet. See: Time for next eco-scare already?! ‘Earth’s growing nitrogen threat’: ‘It helps feed a hungry world, but it’s worse than CO2′The Christian Science Monitor – January 12, 2010 – Excerpt: Nitrous oxide is nearly 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide – considered the leading cause of climate change – and the third most threatening greenhouse gas overall.

As man-made climate fears subside and the scientific, economic, cultural and political case evaporates for climate change “action,” expect more and more green activists to take up the mantle for “laughing gas” as a possible replacement eco-scare.

See also: Laughing Gas Knocks Out CO2 – By Doug Hoffman – Oct. 30, 2009 – Excerpt: “In the face of ever mounting evidence that CO2 is incapable of causing the level of global devastation prophesied by climate change catastrophists a new villain is being sought. The leading candidate is nitrous oxide (N2O), better known as laughing gas. A report in Science claims that N2O emissions are currently the single most important cause of ozone depletion and are expected to remain so throughout the 21st century. The IPCC rates N2O as 310 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2 on a 100 year time scale. Is this a greenhouse gas bait and switch, or are the global warming alarmists trying to up the ante.”

Still can’t picture former Vice President Al Gore touting the “laughing gas” crisis as the “moral” challenge of our time in a Oscar-winning documentary? Not to worry, there are many more eco-scares currently being test-marketed.

Gore’s own producer of “An Inconvenient Truth” — Hollywood eco-activist Laurie David — is already test-marketing another eco-scare with potential promise.

“One Word: Plastics.” Yes, just 43 years after the 1967 film “The Graduate”, “plastics” just may be the future!

See: AGW RIP? Is It Time for Next Eco-Scare Already? Gore’s producer Laure David touts plastic crisis: ‘Plastic waste is in some ways more alarming for us humans than global warming’ – July 31, 2009

“The rapid rise in global plastic production is leading to a rise in plastic pollution and its devastating effects on our oceans and our lives.,” Laurie David wrote on July 31, 2009. Selected Excerpts From David’s blog post: “This insidious invasion of the biosphere by our plastic waste is in some ways more alarming for us humans than global warming. Our bodies have evolved to handle carbon dioxide, the nemesis of global warming, indeed, we exhale it with every breath. Plastic, though present in the biosphere from the nano scale on up, is too stable a molecule for any organism to fully assimilate or biodegrade. So we have a situation in which a vector for a suite of devastating chemicals, chemicals implicated in many modern diseases, is now invading the ocean, our bodies and indeed, the entire biosphere. The prognosis for improvement in this situation is grim.”

Still not convinced of either “laughing gas” or “plastics” as the next dominant eco-scare? Don’t worry, we are just getting started.

Just how widespread is the test marketing of a new eco-scare to replace the flailing global warming movement?

It now has the attention of the beleaguered head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Rajendra Pachauri.

In a remarkable posting on his personal blog, Pachauri openly admitted that man-made global warming was not even the biggest eco-issue! See: Et tu? Head of UN IPCC Pachauri Now throwing global warming under the bus?! There is a ‘larger problem’ than climate fears?! – November 23, 2009

Pachauri wrote on November 23, 2009: “The question is whether the additional time that the world would now have to arrive at an agreement at the next Conference of the Parties in Mexico will give us time and space to look at the larger problem of unsustainable development, of which climate change is at best a symptom. Human society cannot continue to ignore the vital dependence that exists between human welfare and the health of our natural resources.”

The UK Green Party and a UN advisor are already concocting yet another potential new eco-scare that may be an easy transition from failed global warming fears.

See: UK Green Party: ‘There exists a more serious crisis than the ‘CO2 crisis’: the oxygen levels are dropping and the human activity has decreased them by 1/3 or ½ – By Peter Tatchell of the UK Green party – UK Guardian – August 13, 2008

Excerpt: “In the view of Professor Ervin Laszlo, the drop in atmospheric oxygen has potentially serious consequences. A UN advisor who has been a professor of philosophy and systems sciences, Laszlo writes: Evidence from prehistoric times indicates that the oxygen content of pristine nature was above the 21% of total volume that it is today. It has decreased in recent times due mainly to the burning of coal in the middle of the last century. Currently the oxygen content of the Earth’s atmosphere dips to 19% over impacted areas, and it is down to 12 to 17% over the major cities. At these levels it is difficult for people to get sufficient oxygen to maintain bodily health: it takes a proper intake of oxygen to keep body cells and organs, and the entire immune system, functioning at full efficiency. At the levels we have reached today cancers and other degenerative diseases are likely to develop. And at 6 to 7% life can no longer be sustained.”

Wow. Imagine scaring school children with suffocation due to our modern way of life! Documentaries, text books and Hollywood could really instill fear in the kids and adults with scary predictions of Mom and Dad choking to death due to a lack of oxygen created by evil modern society. Mom and Dad turning blue and suffering fatal convulsions sure beats the emotional imagery of a Polar Bear drowning or a building be flooded to due to rising seas. Keep your eye on this one, it just may get some traction.

Ok. Let’s assume now that one of the above or yet another not ready for prime time eco-fear catches on, how would the environmental activists go about selling this eco-scare to the public?

For an answer, let’s review a few of the failed eco-alarms of the past 40 years.

The Global Cooling Scare of 1970’s offers vital clues about how the “search-and-replace” tactics are utilized by eco-fear promoters. See: 1974 CIA report on Global Cooling: ‘Embarrassing reading’: ‘All AGW scares are a search-and-replace job from ‘cooling’ to ‘warming’ – Dec. 3, 2009 & Climate Depot’s Factsheet on 1970s Coming ‘Ice Age’ Claims – Oct. 6, 2009

Ever wonder how Gore and the UN would hype a “tipping point” for various new eco-scares? Newsweek Magazine first used the climate “tipping point” argument in 1975 to urge action to prevent man-made global cooling. Newsweek wrote April 28, 1975 article: “The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.”

Yes, quite literally “a search-and-replace job from cooling to warming.” Also See: Not again! Another 10-year climate ‘tipping point’ warning issued — Despite fact that UN began 10-Year ‘Climate Tipping Point’ in 1989! Climate Depot Factsheet on Inconvenient History of Global Warming ‘Tipping Points’ — Earth ‘Serially Doomed’ – Nov. 15, 2009

Overpopulation Fears

Overpopulation fears have jumped all over the place in recent years. See: Grist Mag. Going Down: Is too few people the new ‘population problem?’ – December 14, 2005 and Could Overpopulation Save The Earth From Global Warming? June 15, 2009. Overpopulation fears can be played any which way advocates would like. Even the guru of overpopulation fears eventually admitted his silliness.

See: An Admission finally! ‘The Population Bomb’s’ Paul Ehrlich: ‘I wish I’d taken more math in high school and college. That would have been useful’ – ‘If he were writing ‘The Population Bomb’ now, he’d be more careful about predictions’ – Oct. 8, 2009 – Also see: Climate Depot’s Overpopulation factsheet – August 21, 2009

Amazon Rainforest Scare

The allegedly disappearing rainforest scare was the environmental issue du jour in the 1980’s and 1990’s, long before climate fears took center stage. In fact, In 2000, Climate Depot’s Executive Editor Marc Morano was producer and correspondent for a documentary debunking the myths about the rainforests. Morano’s “Amazon Rainforest: Clear-Cutting the Myths” was greeted with massive controversy. But, just nine years later, the rainforest scare was kaput.

See: Jan. 30, 2009: New York Times: ‘Galloping jungle’: Farmlands revert back to nature as saving the rainforests becomes ‘less urgent’ – ‘For every acre of rainforest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing’

NYT Excerpt: Here, and in other tropical countries around the world, small holdings like Ms. Ortega de Wing’s – and much larger swaths of farmland – are reverting back to nature, as people abandon their land and move to the cities in search of better livings. These new “secondary” forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest – an iconic environmental cause – may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster. “There is far more forest here than there was 30 years ago,” said Ms. Ortega de Wing, 64, who remembers fields of mango trees and banana plants.

Also see: ‘Save the trees’ more political myth than environmental truth – Jan. 2009

Old eco-scares don’t die, they just fade away. The failed rainforest scare inspired this 2009 satire of the death of global warming movement. Spoof: NYT in 2019: Scientists Now Say Global Warming Fears Fading Away – Claim There Never Was Warming Consensus – By Marc Morano

Other eco-scares that did not pan out include the 1970 and 8190’s baseless scares about resource scarcity and predictions of famine. (Excerpt: The ultimate embarrassment for the Malthusians was when Paul Ehrlich bet Julian Simon $1,000 in 1980 that five resources (of Ehrlich’s choosing) would be more expensive in 10 years. Ehrlich lost: 10 years later every one of the resources had declined in price by an average of 40 percent.) Plus other eco-scares like “ocean acidification” and others too numerous to mention.

It will be a compelling battle to try and replace the mother of all eco-scares — man-made global warming — but Climate Depot is confident that one of these test-marketed new eco-issues will catch on and you may soon see massive denials from environmentalists and UN officials that claims of a man-made global warming crisis never really existed (echoing the claims that there was no widespread concern about global cooling in the 1970’s) See: Spoof: NYT in 2019: Scientists Now Say Global Warming Fears Fading Away – Claim There Never Was Warming Consensus – By Marc Morano

Already we have some of the most insulting attempts to shift the focus away from the “warming” aspect of “global warming.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) — in true “Climate Astrology” fashion — dismissed the lack of global warming on March 4, 2009 by declaring: “Climate change is not just about temperatures going up. It’s also about volatility.”

Not to be outdone, Sen. Stabenow followed up her climate analysis with this claim about touchy-feely warming: “Global warming creates volatility and I feel it when I’m flying. The storms are more volatile,” Sen. Stabenow explained in August 11, 2009.

No wonder, climate fear promoters are now openly demanding exaggeration and wishing for death and destruction to convince the public of man-made climate fears.

“You have to find ways to exaggerate the threat,” Nobel-Prize Winning Economist Thomas Schelling said in a July 14, 2009 interview with The Atlantic.

Lest there be any doubt that desperation time has set in for the promoters of man-made climate fears, Schelling removed it.

Schelling continued: “I sometimes wish that we could have, over the next five or ten years, a lot of horrid things happening — you know, like tornadoes in the Midwest and so forth — that would get people very concerned about climate change.”

Let’s get this straight. A prominent promoter of man-made global warming is now openly wishing for death and destruction of Americans in order to convince them that man-made global warming is a threat?

Climate Depot encourages Schelling and Sen. Stabenow to continue their utter climate silliness.

Quite simply, alarmism leads to skepticism. No wonder more ‘More Americans believe in haunted houses than man-made global warming’.

In the end, science rules the day.

Marc Morano is the Executive Editor of

Related video:

The Terrorism Conundrum

In the wake of 9/11, almost anything the US government did was accepted uncritically by the public. The Patriot Act was quickly passed, abridging the freedoms that Americans had enjoyed for more than two hundred years with barely a whimper from Congress and the media. George W. Bush declared war on the world, defining his security doctrine as the right of the United States to act preemptively anywhere and at any time against any nation that the White House perceived to be a threat. Bush also declared his global war on terror, committing his administration to intervene using military and intelligence resources wherever his definition of terrorists was to be found. It was a devil’s bargain, reassuring the American people that the government was doing something to make them more secure while at the same time stripping them of many fundamental rights and turning topsy-turvy the international order where acts of war had hitherto been condemned as the gravest of crimes.

Right from the beginning, some voices even in Congress and the mainstream media urged calm, but they were overwhelmed by those who were crying out for revenge. Revenge soon morphed into a number of ill-advised policies leading to the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Looking back on those years from the perspective of 2010 it is possible to see that it was fear that drove the nation at that time. Fear enabled the process that turned America down a dark path and was itself fed by the shapeless threat of terrorism, which was regularly invoked by those in the government.

Unfortunately little has changed since 9/11 and it would be easy to close one’s eyes in Barack Obama’s America and imagine that it is 2001 and that George Bush is still president. American soldiers are ensconced in Iraq, surging in Afghanistan, and poised to intervene in places like Yemen and Somalia. Hellfire missiles fired from pilotless drones rain down on Pakistani tribesmen more frequently now than under George W. Bush. Guantánamo Prison is still open and Bagram Prison promises to become the new Abu Ghraib. And there is still fearmongering to drive the entire process, solemn words from the White House warning the American people about the continuing global terrorist threat.

From the start many Americans were skeptical of George Bush’s global war on terror, recognizing it for the sloganeering that it was, security policy by bumper sticker. Terror is not a nation nor is it a group. It is a tactic. It has existed since men first picked up rocks to strike each other but in its modern form it was developed in Palestine in the 1940s when the Haganah and Stern Gangs struck against civilian targets like the King David Hotel to drive the British out. It was then used by the nascent state of Israel against Palestinian Arabs to force them to leave their homes. Terrorism consists of attacking civilian targets to demoralize the local population and weaken its ability to resist.

So a terrorist must be someone who uses terror, right? Well, by some definitions yes, but not really and the word terrorist is ultimately no more enlightening than references to terror. It is much more useful to regard the groups that employ terror as political entities, using the tactic in support of what is almost invariably a broader agenda. Recognizing that reality, it has become cliché that today’s terrorist can become tomorrow’s statesman as the political winds shift. One might profitably look at some examples from groups currently or at one time considered to be “terrorist” by the world community, like Hezbollah. Hezbollah became prominent because it resisted the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. To be sure, it used the terror tactic to attack Israeli civilians in the settlements in the northern part of the country, but its principal objective was to drive out the Israeli occupiers. It finally did so in 2006, using conventional military tactics, not terror, while burnishing its reputation by providing goods and services to many of the poor in the area where it holds sway. It has become a partner in government in Lebanon, morphing into a largely conventional political party. It still skirmishes with Israel along the border between the two countries but its ability to threaten the rest of the world and, more particularly the United States, is zero.

And then there were the Viet Cong in Vietnam. Did they use terror? Certainly. But they did so to establish political control over a large part of the countryside and also to spread fear in Vietnam’s cities. When they felt themselves strong enough they also engaged in stand up fights with US forces and the South Vietnamese Army. And they were overwhelmingly a political group with a political objective, i.e to replace the US puppet Vietnamese government. Did the Viet Cong ever threaten the United States through its ability to employ the terror tactic? Not in the least.

Finally there is the example of the Taliban. The Taliban is referred to by the US government as a terrorist organization and it has indeed killed civilians to establish control over parts of Afghanistan. But it also fights against US and NATO forces in a conventional fashion, has worked to defeat the warlords and root out corrupt government officials, and has promised equal justice under Islamic Sharia law for the Afghan people. In many areas it is more popular than the government of President Hamid Karzai. When it previously ruled Afghanistan, it introduced strict religious rule but also eliminated drug production and warlordism. So calling it a terrorist group and indicating that you will not deal with it, except by imprisoning or killing its adherents, means that you are missing something. The group is essentially political and sees itself as a potential party of government only using terrorism as a tactic when it considers it to be necessary.

The US government has essentially adopted an Israeli paradigm in refusing to deal with political opponents who employ terror. Its dismissal of groups like the Taliban as terrorists means that opportunities to engage them in terms of their true interests are being wasted. And it also makes for convenient political shorthand, rendering it unnecessary to consider the possibility that the groups involved have either legitimate grievances or positive motives. And it shapes the entire argument so as to avoid conclusions that might be considered unpleasant. It is frequently argued that the US is fighting in Afghanistan because it is better to fight “them” over there than over here. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Taliban has absolutely no interest in the United States except insofar as the US is occupying Afghanistan. As Ron Paul puts it, correctly, when there is a terrorist incident they are only over here because we are over there. When we leave “there” the “they” will not be coming over here because they have no reason to do so.

So the problem is that the language we use shapes how we think about an issue. Once you get rid of the buzz words terror and terrorist, meant to create fear and uncertainty, it is possible to come to grips with a reality that is quite different. The groups that the White House and State Department calls terrorist are really political organizations that seek change that will favor their own assumption of power. There have always been such groups and always will be. Most want US forces to leave their countries, many want Washington to stop supporting corrupt and autocratic Arab governments, and nearly all want the US-tolerated Israeli humiliation of the Palestinians to cease. Looking at them in that light, it is not difficult to discern what their motives are in opposing the United States. And it is also possible to see the various groups as individual cases that have to be dealt with selectively, not as part of a nonexistent worldwide conspiracy.

The truth is that the US government prefers to have an enemy that can be defined simply, in Manichean terms. It seeks to create fear among the American people by presenting terrorism as some sort of monolith while it is in reality little more than a hodge podge of diverse political groupings that have varying motivations and objectives. The only thing that they have in common is that they sometimes use terror as a tactic. And the terror tactic is itself losing appeal. The only reason that groups that espouse terror appear to be increasing in numbers is because the countries the US is occupying or attacking are also growing in number, but nevertheless the numbers are unimpressive. There are certainly fewer than a couple of thousand adherents to groups that use terror worldwide. Young Muslim men are increasingly reluctant to be drawn into the fray and there are signs that the allure of jihad as a religious duty has waned. And those who use terrorism are themselves becoming more marginal and amateurish, as was evident in the Nigerian underwear bomber, a plot that could hardly succeed even with the best of luck. If there had not been errors made in the security process and exchange of information, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would have been detained before boarding the plane in Amsterdam.

Americans should no longer talk of terrorism or fear it because it is largely an empty threat. One is more likely to be eaten by a shark than killed in a terrorist attack. The effectiveness of the US government in sustaining fear through its combating of terror guarantees continuous war, makes for big government, and blinds America’s policymakers to reality. There are many groups out in the world vying for power. Some are unscrupulous in how they would achieve control, including willingness to employ terror. But most could care less about Washington as long as the United States leaves them alone. Leaving them alone might well be the best foreign and security policy that the United States could embrace.