Events are unfolding at a quickening pace. Facing an alarming escalation in tensions around the world, we are looking to our most respected and renowned thought leaders for an honest assessment of both U.S. foreign and military policy to offer their most current thoughts and insights. We know they have some ideas for improving the prospects for peace.
Mark Skidmore is a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Betty and David Morris Chair in State and Local Government Finance and Policy, at Michigan State University. In 2017 Professor Skidmore and his team of graduates students discovered $21 trillion unaccounted for in the U.S. federal budget starting in 1998, continuing until the end of fiscal year 2015. We are extremely honored that he took the time to talk to us and share his views. His responses below are exactly as he provided.
The questions here are not philosophical or abstract. They focus on the realities of the international power struggle unfolding in real time. They directly address the role of the U.S. in the escalating tensions and its capacity to reduce them. We also probe the role of everyday citizens in affecting the relationship the U.S. now has and will have with the rest of the world community.
Here is what Mark Skidmore had to say.
Q. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has recently put the hands of its Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds before midnight. Midnight means all-out war, probably nuclear holocaust. This is the closest it has ever been. Do you agree with this dire assessment?
A. In recent years, the U.S. has been provocative toward Russia; the moves by NATO to encircle Russia pose an existential threat to Russia.The U.S. and NATO have violated multiple agreements/treaties and Russian leaders have dubbed the U.S as no longer “agreement capable”.
In the wake of the chaotic withdrawal U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Russia recently announced military cooperation between the two countries. ((1) Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان on Twitter: “Met with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu to explore ways to strengthen the military and defense cooperation between our two countries. We discussed our common endeavor to preserve stability and security in the region, and reviewed shared challenges facing our countries. https://t.co/T7lVdITZPt” / Twitter)
The new Saudi-Russian cooperative arrangement is an important development. For context, historically the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been close allies. In the early 1970s, Saudi Arabia agreed to sell oil only in U.S. dollars, which gave the dollar strength after the U.S. closed the gold window (i.e., the dollar was no longer backed by gold). In return, the U.S. agreed to provide military support in the Middle East. With these changes, the dollar switched from a gold-backed currency to an oil/military-backed currency.
While the new Saudi-Russian agreement serves to erode the strength of the dollar as the primary reserve currency, it is not the nail in the coffin of the dollar. Nowadays, much of the $281 trillion of global debt is denominated in dollars, which means that the debt with interest must be paid back in dollars. This means that there is still a very large demand for dollars globally even with increasingly less oil being bought and sold in dollar terms.
The erosion of the dollar as the reserve currency has been happening for years. I do not know when there will be a switch to a new monetary order, and I am unsure of how disruptive the switch will be when it occurs. My sense is that the “elite” don’t yet have the structure of the new monetary system fully in place, and thus there is race between the fading dollar and the implementation of a new monetary system. I will return to this issue later.
While there are substantial tensions between the U.S. and Russia, I agree with John Pilger that the greater risk of potential conflict is between the U.S. and China.
Having provided these remarks, I acknowledge that am not an insider and thus not privy to private communications between countries. This means that I can only offer a limited assessment.
Q. The U.S. always portrays itself as the greatest force on the planet for peace, justice, human rights, racial equality, etc. Polls tell us that most other nations actually regard the U.S. as the greatest threat to stability. What in your view is the truth here?
A. I view the primary struggle as not so much between nation states, but between the “elite” class and everyone else. I think of the western financial sector and the military industrial complex as two sides of the same coin. The western financial system (and information systems too) needs a strong military as enforcer, and the military needs the financiers to be sure the desired funding flows to the military industrial complex.This dynamic insures control and access to key resources such as oil, minerals, etc. globally.
This not to say that those within the elite class always cooperate or that there isn’t a second layer power struggle between nation states and thus potential for nation state conflict. To illustrate, there is a multi-tiered relationship between China and the U.S. On the one hand, China experienced tremendous economic success with the help of the western financiers/elite who in turn profited tremendously by moving goods production and technology to China. In this dimension, China and the U.S. (or the “west” more generally) have a cooperative relationship, and yet China is also a major adversary geopolitically.
The idea of the U.S. being a force “for peace, justice, human rights, racial equality, etc.” is in my assessment primarily an internal and external marketing scheme. It is the U.S. “brand”. Within the U.S., many may perceive the U.S. as a force for good, but those living in countries that have been decimated by “western” interests know better.
Q. The U.S. always denies that it has imperial ambitions. Most unbiased experts say that by any objective standards, the U.S. is an empire — indeed the most powerful, sprawling empire in history. Does the U.S. have to be an empire to be successful in the world and effectively protect and serve its citizenry?
A. The U.S. is certainly an “empire”, but in my assessment the notion of what constitutes the “empire” is broader than the geopolitical definition of the U.S. It isn’t just the U.S. but rather a broader alliance led by an elite class where the U.S. (and the Presidential figure head) “leads” within the nation state context. However, the President and other elected leaders are not the ultimate decision-makers when key global issues and the control of resources are stake.
My in-road to greater understanding the military industrial complex was through finance. I tried to use basic principles to understand and explain how/why the military couldn’t account for many $ trillions in unverified transactions (Holding U.S. Treasurys? Beware: Uncle Sam Can’t Account For $21 Trillion (forbes.com)). In what seems to be a response to these inquiries, it was decided that the federal government was going to have two sets of books . . . a real hidden set and fake set for the public (FASAB Standard 56 and the Authority of the Director of National Intelligence to Waive SEC Financial Reporting – The Missing Money (solari.com)). Opaque financial reporting in both the public and private sectors seems to a useful feature for those who wish to keep some financial activity hidden.
As for the current risks right now, I think we are in the midst of huge war between this elite class and everyone else. Unfortunately, most people in the U.S. don’t know that they are in a war and it is very difficult to help them see it. The current financial system is coming to the end of its life cycle and the world needs a new system. The elites want to implement an integrated system of digital currencies. Implementation of such a system requires everyone to have unique digital IDs. Importantly, such a system gives a high level of control to those in charge of those systems (think China’s social credit system).
The Trojan Horse to the digital control system is the digital COVID vaccine passport. The “pandemic” is ushering in the “need” for digital health passports to prove one’s vaccination status for the “good of society”. Once the digital ID platform is in place, then it can and will be integrated with emerging digital currency systems (and universal basic income), but we will all have to comply to get the promised benefits. This digital control grid is being implemented globally, at least that is the goal.
A big and perhaps the central theme of the “pandemic” is monetary. Few are taking note of the $ trillions of money printing and spending that has occurred since 2020. Even without the pandemic, I believe these extraordinary policies were needed to keep the financial system from going into full-scale crisis again. Policy makers and central bank authorities have taken cover by making the case that these extraordinary policies had to be implemented in response to the pandemic, and they look like heroes for maintaining some measure of stability during the lockdowns.
I also believe a global agreement has been reached that the next monetary system will be digital. The global push for digital health passports appears to be the mechanism by which authorities will compel people to accept unique digital IDs, which will be the platform for integrating other personal and financial information. Once the digital health/passport ID platform is in place, it will also be used for the new digital monetary system.
In my opinion, this is a primary reason for why the COVID injection effort continues despite the thousands of fatalities and hundreds of thousands of injuries. (COVID Vaccine Injury Reports Jump by 27,000 in One Week, FDA Pulls ‘Bait and Switch’ With Pfizer Vaccine Approval • Children’s Health Defense (childrenshealthdefense.org) And it doesn’t matter how many millions of children in developing countries will die of wasting due to the draconian lockdown policies. (https://data.unicef.org/resources/sofi-2021/) Unless enough of us resolutely resist this agenda, the plan will continue to move forward and those who don’t want to accept the new ideology will increasingly be excluded from society.
What we are facing globally is an existential threat to basic human rights. While we may have a real threat of war (nuclear perhaps), what is happening right now with the COVID “pandemic”, the push for vaccine passports, and in the background the development of digital currencies is a major threat to liberty. My sense is that the elite very much want to maintain control and status through this global reset. Note that the U.S. military was a central player in the deployment of the COVID vaccines. Note also that the military has and will continue to play a key role in developing in-body technology to track people and monitor health status. Please see this three-minute clip from highly respected economist Richard Werner on the development of digital currencies, planned adoption of universal basic income, and the use of RFID chips.
Q. The highest ranking commanders of the U.S. military recently sounded the alarm. They have concluded that the U.S. — widely regarded as the most formidable military power in history — can’t defeat either Russia or China in a war. These military commanders are saying we need to dramatically increase our military capabilities. What do you make of this claim and the resulting demand for more DOD spending?
It is difficult for me know whether such alarms reflect real needs or are mainly for public consumption in order to generate support for military spending.In my view, increasingly the key to global control is what is happening in space. We know that all China, Russian, and the U.S. have some military presence in space, but I do not know who has the upper hand. For context, it is useful to note that according to reported financial statements the U.S. spends more on military than the sum of the next nine countries, including China and Russia. (Military Spending By Country 2021 (worldpopulationreview.com))
1) The United States ($750 billion)
2) China ($237 billion)
3) Saudi Arabia ($67.6 billion)
4) India ($61 billion)
5) United Kingdom ($55.1 billion)
6) Germany ($50 billion)
7) Japan ($49 billion)
8) Russia ($48 billion)
9) South Korea ($44 billion)
10) France ($41.5 billion)
Q. The U.S. against the clear objections of the government in Syria is occupying valuable land, stealing the country’s oil, and preventing access to the most agriculturally productive region, effectively starving the population. The world sees this for what it is, a cruel game sacrificing innocent people for some perceived geopolitical advantage. Is this the kind of reputation the U.S. wants? Or does it simply no longer care what the rest of the world community thinks?
A. For the elites, innocent casualties are part of the “cost of doing business”.Media and government work to control the optics (marketing/propaganda) so it looks like whatever is happening is needed to protect the world for from tyrants and promote democracy. Most of the time peace and democracy are not the end result because that is not the goal of the interventions.
Q. In a democracy, at least in theory citizens have a say in all matters of public policy. Yet, in the end none of the recent military campaigns and undeclared wars seem to achieve much popular favor or support. What is and what should be the role of everyday citizens in determining the foreign policy and military priorities of the country? Or are such matters better left to the “experts”?
A. In order for citizens to have a say in this arena, they must have access to information; we need free press and freedom of speech. In the U.S., when it comes to the most important issues the “old media” is mainly government controlled (or elite controlled) propaganda.Speech and media is suppressed, but new outlets and opportunities to communicate are emerging. As more people recognize information suppression and look to other outlets for more legitimate news sources, it may be possible to elect people who actually represent them.
Q. Related to that, the citizenry and most of Congress are kept in the dark with respect to special missions, proxy funding, CIA operations, and swaths of unknown unknowns constituting psyops, cyber ops, and regime change ops, all done in our name as U.S. citizens. The funds to support this sprawling “dark world” of sabotage and terror being inflicted on the rest of the planet, is also a secret. Now there’s pervasive spying on U.S. citizens right here at home. What place does any of this have in “the land of the free”? Does this mean government of the people, by the people, for the people is just a sham?
A. Hidden government activities and financing are now the rule and not the exception. With the adoption of Standard 56, government financing is at best opaque. In January 2018, the Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASAB) Standard 56 was adopted by the federal government. Standard 56 gives a small number of people (precisely who is unknown) the authority to modify financial statements available to the public. (FASAB Standard 56 and the Authority of the Director of National Intelligence to Waive SEC Financial Reporting – The Missing Money (solari.com)). There are no limitations or parameters around how much the books can be doctored. Further, government authorities are under no obligation to tell the public that the books have been altered. Standard 56 applies to all federal entities and agencies. In summary, we now have two sets of books…a modified one for the public, and a real set that remains hidden. I have no way of knowing the degree to which the books have been altered. (Holding U.S. Treasurys? Beware: Uncle Sam Can’t Account For $21 Trillion (forbes.com); Has the Government Legalized Secret Defense Spending? – Rolling Stone).
Q. Recently we’ve seen some token but precedent-setting direct payments to citizens in the form of Covid relief. There is also the ongoing discussion about reparations to descendants of slaves. If it could be unequivocally established that the government has abused DOD funding, misused and squandered vast sums of money to promote unjustified wars, purchase unneeded equipment, unnecessarily expand U.S. military presence across the globe, and regularly lied to the American public to manufacture consent for these misadventures and fraudulent activities, practical and political considerations aside, do you see any constitutional or other legal barriers to the public identifying, expecting, or even demanding proper compensation? A cash refund or citizen reparations for massive, authenticated abuse of power?
A. I quote former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Catherine Austin Fitts, in my response: “We have a legal right to demand their return (any pilfered funds) or to exercise the common law right of offset at the bargaining table and hold the responsible parties accountable.” While I do not have a sense for the feasibility of exercising the common right law of offset mechanism, I believe it is critical to establish any wrong-doing and use anything and everything we can at the bargaining table.