Newsletter: Being Prepared To Turn Crisis To Our Advantage

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With the Trump administration floundering and the movement opposed to him expanding, we need to be prepared for a possible shock doctrine moment, whether intentional or not, that could be used to unify the country around an unpopular president and shut down political dissent.Bush Approval Polls

In 2001, even after one of the most difficult and questioned presidential races ever, President Bush was still approaching 60% approval at this stage of his presidency, rising to 62% by mid-April. In March, the first signs of a recession hit, ending ten years of growth, and his popularity plummeted to 51% by the end of summer. His administration started to weaken.

Then September 11 hit. The country rallied around the President. A few days after the attack, Bush had the highest approval ratings in Gallup history at 90%. His popularity began to drop, approaching pre-9/11 numbers, but then he began the war in Iraq and his popularity returned to 75%.  It took until the end of 2003 for his popularity to fall to pre-9/11 levels.

Mobilization for Global JusticeThe US attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. This period of turmoil was used to pass the PATRIOT Act on October 26, which curtailed civil liberties and dissent while expanding government surveillance powers.

A vibrant protest movement against corporate globalization, which had begun in Seattle in 1999 was planning a mass protest of 100,000 people in Washington, DC against the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund in late September, 2001, was destroyed and confused about how to respond after 9/11.

The Democratic Party became openly complicit in moving forward on US wars and in support of the Global War on Terror, which has become a never-ending war. Bush’s opponent, Al Gore, gave multiple speeches endorsing Bush’s war on terror and an attack on Iraq, even urging the US to focus on attacking Iran.

A struggling presidency became a powerful war-time presidency.

Being Organized to Prevent a Destructive Impact of a Crisis Moment1933 burning down of Reichstag

What lessons should the protest movement of today take from the 9/11 experience and similar events that have occurred, e.g. the 1933 burning down of Reichstag under Hitler, which turned him into a dictator even though his party did not have a majority in the legislature?

The lesson is that even a bumbling president can become widely supported and very powerful and that a strong political movement can be destroyed in a moment of crisis. What can we do to prevent that?

We need to be aware of the possibility, examine the potential crises that can occur, recognize what is really happening, explain it quickly and be organized to prevent harm from being done.

2001 twin towers attackThere are three major areas where a crisis could occur that could turn any president, even Donald Trump, into one that people rally around and give great power to: (1) An economic collapse; (2) A terrorist attack on the United States; (3) A major war. These can each be something the administration is complicit in creating or something that is a natural occurrence, blow-back, from US economic and foreign policy. The movement needs to be ready to respond. We can’t fall into a fervor of patriotic unity that gives Trump a blank check.

People in the movement need to be prepared and consider what they can do to make sure the political culture does not fall for a manufactured or real crisis. People need to be ready to respond by pointing out that the crisis was caused by the US political system, of which Trump is a symptom. It is critical to point the finger of blame back at the system — and do so immediately — and to be ready with an agenda that changes the system in a way that protects people and the planet.

  1. The US and World Economy Are Fragile

Economic crisisThe US and world economy are fragile because of policies put forward by both parties that have created a top-heavy economy of highly-concentrated wealth. Most people in the United States are economically insecure. Research shows that two-thirds of people in the US cannot even handle a $500 surprise expense. Tens of millions are entrenched in poverty because of government policies and, under Trump policies, this is likely to worsen.

The US economy has underlying flaws that make it more fragile than it seems.  While the dominant view is Trump has been given a strong economy, there are key indicators showing that a recession could hit, indicators that continue today. Forbes predicts Trump’s economic plan could send the US into the worst recession since the Reagan era. US News and World Report points to five reasons the US will face recession under Trump.

A banner reading 'Capitalism isn't working' at the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A banner reading ‘Capitalism isn’t working’ at the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Nafeez Ahmed points to more fundamental and long-term problems in “How the Trump Regime Was Manufactured By War Inside the Deep State.” He points to a systemic crisis which has its foundation in the cost of energy extraction, which will make it impossible to create a growing economy. The Energy Return On Investment (EROI) has dropped from 100 to 1 to 10 to 1 today meaning the world is getting less energy for its extraction investments over time, making it impossible to increase economic growth. Trump, building on the policies of Obama, Bush and those before them, is increasing energy extraction, which could accelerate the decline in EROI and lead to economic collapse.

  1. Terrorist Attack Contrived or Blowback

A terrorist attack on the United States will most likely be provoked by US foreign policy. The US has been in continuous war since 9/11 and before that, it was a hegemonic, dominant world empire – the largest empire in world history.

US bombingThere is lots of reason for blow back against the United States. Since World War II the US has killed more than 20 million people in 37 countries. Since the Iraq War, US intelligence has warned that military attacks are creating terrorists faster than the US can capture or kill them, intelligence that Bush-era officials refused to accept. President Obama’s legacy of bombing, including dropping 26,000 bombs in his final year and more bombs than Bush, often resulted in killing civilians rather than fighters. Reportedly as much as 90% of those killed were innocents. All of this creates anger at the United States and could lead to blow back against the US.

Even President Trump hinted at the mass murder by US presidents when he was criticized for saying positive things about President Putin. Trump’s response: “We’ve Got A Lot Of Killers – You Think Our Country’s So Innocent?”

If there is a terrorist attack, the movement must be clear and loud — pointing out the cause is US foreign policy and demanding a change in policy that is not based on war and militarism.

  1. Uniting Behind a War-Time PresidentBush in Iraq

It is difficult to criticize a commander-in-chief in the midst of leading a major war. The largest potential war is with Russia. Such a conflict is something President Trump has sought to avoid. There is very little Trump has been consistent on but working with Russia and de-escalation of tensions has been the one issue where he has been consistent.

Democrats, in particular, have been spreading propaganda to demonize Russia in order to undermine Trump’s efforts at détente. They have accused Trump of inappropriate ties to Russia during his campaign, exposed potential Russian blackmail of Trump and  blamed Russia for impacting the outcome of the election. Senator Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee is the lead sponsor of a bill to prevent Trump from ending sanctions on Russia. This would greatly limit his ability to negotiate détente with Putin. Cardin is being joined by bi-partisan war hawks on this bill.

Trump inauguration with military services standing behind him for key photo opThe national intelligence complex sees conflict with Russia as essential to ensuring US domination. As Mike Whitney points out, the resignation of National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, was required by the security state because he supported peace with Russia.

Another area of concern for increased US militarism is Iran. Trump’s former NSC adviser threatened Iran when he said the US was putting Iran “on notice” and that the US would “not rule out a military attack.” Flynn was not the only Iran hawk, so is Secretary of Defense Mattis. Bi-partisan hawks have pushed for war with Iran for a long time.

Flynn with TrumpDuring confirmation hearings, Rex Tillerson, threatened actions that could lead to military conflict with China. China has had mixed reactions, sometimes accusing Tillerson of being naïve and threatening war and other times taking an approach of working together for peace. The US has long been positioning itself to maintain global hegemony by controlling Asia with Obama’s Asian Pivot as one example. The recent missile test by North Korea has also led to threats. In fact, the US has been the aggressor in North Korea and that country warned us to stop US threats of nuclear war before testing a missile.

On all of these potential conflicts, the movement must be on the side of peace and demilitarization. If a conflict occurs, the peace movement should grow in opposition to it. And, if Trump pushes forward on détente with Russia, the movement should support demilitarization. If there is war it will be part of a continuous pattern of war by the United States since 9/11. War should lead to escalation of protest.

The Movement Can Blunt a Crisis and Turn It to Our Advantagepropaganda the media controls minds

On all of these issues the movement is positioned to turn a crisis to our advantage. Rather than reacting with fear and unquestioning patriotism, we can show that the events are the result of failed systems such as corruption, the capitalist economy and US imperialism. Rather than allowing more harmful policies to be rushed through Congress or by Executive Order, we can be vigilant and  oppose those. We must also be organized and ready to promote positive alternatives that are supported by majorities of people.

Most people in the United States are opposed to war and want the US to scale back its global presence and be a cooperative member of a multi-polar world. Most people, especially youth in the US, recognize that capitalism is a root cause of wealth inequality and destruction of the planet. Support for a new economic system is growing.

System is guiltyIf a crisis occurs, we need to use it, not to unify behind the President, but to rapidly explain how the crisis is part of the failed government policies of both parties, that it is a systemic problem of which Trump is a symptom and that the crisis means the movement must expand.

One challenge for the movement, and it is a significant challenge, is that currently a large portion of the protests are merely anti-Trump and fail not recognize that both parties are complicit. The movement must be willing to point fingers at the Democratic Party and its leaders as key players in creating the crisis. If we do this, then the system-wide transformation the country seeks can be aided by a crisis.

The movement must use its social and independent media  to get our message out because the corporate media and both parties will be calling for unity in crisis. The judo of taking their narrative and flipping it to the truth of long-term systemic problems created by two parties that represent Wall Street and war will be our immediate and major task. If we succeed we will advance our cause even in a crisis whether it is self-created, provoked or blow back. We will not only blunt the potential of a Reichstag moment but turn it to our advantage to serve transformation of the nation. If we are to succeed, we must start preparing now. Those who are prepared for crisis, do best when it occurs.

  • DHFabian

    I think so many already considered the possibility that a sort of repeat of 9/11 might be used in the future, that it would be un-workable. Blame and rage would go straight to DC. Economic decline is inevitable because we remain comfortable ignoring the consequences — our poverty crisis. This makes economic collapse a certainty.

    There are many organizations and protests, most of which are directed toward Trump and the hard right wing, but this doesn’t make a movement. Over the past 20 years, we’ve been more deeply divided by class and race. Protest is good, and essential, but don’t confuse this with a movement.

  • mwildfire

    I’ve seen several pieces on this theme, and it seems to me that one of the few useful things we can do in preparation is loudly speculate about a crisis, brought about by a deliberate false-flag operation by elements in out government, or by an economic collapse caused by some combination of irresponsible enabling of extreme profiteering by Wall Street and the real decline of energy and resource availability; or by an actual terrorist attack such as US foreign policy seems to have been designed to beg and plead for, for the past fifteen years or more. Then if it does happen, along with the predictable panic, people are thinking, hmm, this was predicted, is it going to be used to set up a police state?
    Other than that, and having things like that agenda all printed up and ready to wave around as an alternative So What Do We Do to what the elite will be suggesting…which is going to be of limited use, I predict, because it’s a left-wing wish list that will be soundly rejected by a majority, perhaps with even items that would be quite popular now being rejected as unworkable given the crisis.
    What else can we do, even with that suspicion that something like this is around the corner? I’m afraid DHFabian is wrong–SOME suspicion would immediately turn to DC, but plenty of people would be quick to believe whatever they’re told, and when told to jump would ask how high.

  • Rich Krlk

    I ussually agree with your analyses, but where you go off this rails is on Russia. You and others equate vilifing the Putin regime with war mongering and McCarthyism. Why can’t we both want peace and acknowledge that Putin’s Russia is a reactionary authoritarian Kleptocracy that may have undue influence on trup?

  • Perhaps the most useful thing we can do is acknowledge that capitalism is our species’ first and only truly bottomless evil.

    A good place to begin learning the infinite malevolence of what we are up against is by reading Marx, Engels, Trotsky and Lenin, starting with The Communist Manifesto.

    Quoth Lev Bronstein, aka Trotsky: “In every gathering of three revolutionaries, there is at least one agent of the Okhrana,” the Tsar’s secret police.

    The best online source for this material is the Marxists Internet Archive, for which Google.

    Quoth Che Guevara: “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” From “From Algiers, for Marcha,” 12 March 1965. Marcha was a radical journal published in Uruguay.

    Comrade Guevara is best known for his book On Guerilla Warfare, but that volume has been so relentlessly suppressed, it is increasingly difficult to find anywhere in the USian Homeland. Moreover, online purchase of it is certain to attract the attention of one or more of the Empire’s 17 secret-police agencies.

    Therefore the best, most available source from whom to learn the basic principles of successful resistance is Sun Tzu, whose 2600-year-old text provided much of the theoretical foundation for the victories of China and Vietnam over the USian Empire:

    Quoth Sun Tzu: “All warfare is based on deception” (p. 66)…”Know your enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril” (p. 84). From Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Oxford University Press (paperback):1971.

    Meanwhile we should all be thankful to Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for the most well-informed, clear-minded strategic and tactical thinking the USian Left has evidenced for a very long while — quite possible in my entire (77-year) lifetime.

  • In response to mwildfire and DHFabian: given the various indications, particularly Trump’s reported plan to mobilize 100,000 National Guard soldiers allegedly to round up “illegal immigrants,” I suspect what is most likely to happen is a markedly effective false-flag attack allegedly carried out by by one of the extant domestic resistance groups but in fact perpetrated by special operations people from the Imperial war machine.

    The most probable targets are thus infrastructure targets, chief among them the fossil-fuel pipelines that are already in dispute

    With Trump invoking the executive privilege already purposefully emplaced by presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush II and Obama, the false-flag attack would be immediately followed by re-tasking the newly mobilized National Guard for mass murder and mass arrest on a scale hitherto unimaginable to any USians save First Nations peoples and the few remaining survivors of Hitler’s Third Reich. (Though subjected to mass arrest, the Japanese interned in concentration camps during World War II were not subjected to mass murder.)

    The mass murder would be accomplished by the National Guard exactly as it is accomplished on a much smaller scale today by the federalized, militarized local police: that is, by murdering blacks, Hispanics and First Nations peoples and claiming the dead “resisted arrest.”

    Given the social-media expressions of mutual support between resistance groups — an informal network that includes feminists, environmentalists, veterans self-deployed as at Standing Rock, anti-war protestors, even health-care-reform activists — the regime could easily claim a “nationwide conspiracy,” and on that basis arrest and imprison, indefinitely and without trial, anyone who so much as signed a save-Social-Security petition.

    Meanwhile the so-called “mainstream media” — the regime’s private, for-profit ministry of Propaganda (which let us not forget is owned by the same cabal that owns the regime itself) — would no doubt be reasoning that a gaggle of pacifists could not possibly have organized an operation of such obvious military precision. The attack(s) would soon be blamed on Russian spetznaz personnel, the best-trained, best-equipped such troops on the planet.

    Thus in the proverbial “one fell swoop” would the Empire disappear all its domestic enemies (thereby aborting forever the pre-revolutionary mindset of the USian citizenry), and simultaneously, fulfill the One Percent’s goal of starting World War III before Russia, China and their allies can re-solidify the Soviet-Era alliance that blocked, by mutually assured destruction, capitalism’s Hitlerian schemes of global conquest.

    I cannot doubt Dr. Flowers and Mr. Zeese are fully aware of the probability the above scenario (or something very much like it) will soon obtain. We owe them not just our gratitude for their outspoken daring but the upraised-fist salute of confident solidarity.

    The most obvious potential flashpoints are the various

  • Are we sick? Seems to some, living a healthy and hopeful day-to-day creative existance, just isn’t enough. Nope. Working less and having more leisure time with family and friends, isn’t enough either, nope! Not even having a beautiful life filled with nature’s wonders and experiencing being alive and that feeling of living every moment with anticipation. No siree. Seems some prefer Russian roulette and so what if it means the end of all that is. So, the struggle goes on. Time keeps ticking. The “owners” of corporate America run the “casino” today. Then it’s our turn to run the crooks outa town, again. But will Earth be alive for much longer? At least long enough so we can get well?

  • And why is it important to you to want others to “acknowledge that Putin’s Russia …may have undue influence on trup?”

  • Tribalscribal

    I was part of Indymedia’s Global site editorial team when 9/11 went down. One of the first user posts to come up on the site stated “The Reichstag is burning”. Regardless of all DN!’s censure and the IMC sidelining of the issue by their friends, it was clear to many of us what was going down. Truth be known, many of us remain close-minded to even considering a false flag operation to this day. Like the scouts say however, “Be prepared”.

  • kevinzeese

    So, what do you learn from that? What should we do differently today? It does not have to be a false flag. It could be a real event that we are responding to. Advice from experience?

  • Tribalscribal

    Thanks for the question, Kevin. As I reflect on what I learned from that experience, besides the fact that the elites of the progressive wing of the fourth estate are not always open to alternative views, is the need for all of us to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the worst of the Shock Doctrine. I lost a lot of sleep during that dust-up and it led to my resigning my post at IMC Global and moving over to other IMC sites. It helped that some of my coworkers were supportive but once again, we need to be TRULY prepared for anything they throw at us if we are to be effective.

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  • elkojohn

    The U.S. empire killing more than 20-million people in 37 countries is staggering. — And for what? — to make the world safe for global capitalism, in the service of the very rich and the very powerful.
    If the Trump disaster somehow helps the fall of empire, that would be a plus.

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