The Octant
Insights and reporting from Caleb Maupin

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Why does the US media have an anti-Russian fixation? It’s not what the American people want to hear. 71% of the Ronald Reagan-loving, military-obsessed Republican Party approve of Trump meeting with Putin. On the other side, top liberal CNN commentator and former President Obama’s adviser, Van Jones has admitted in a video recording that the “Russiagate” story is a “big nothing burger” which Democrats are not interested in.  The Russia-fixated, Hillary Clinton-DNC liberal establishment now faces an upsurge of opposition from Democratic Socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, who emphasize the need for populist economics reforms.

Conservatives don’t want to hear it. Liberals don’t want to hear it. Hating Russia is just not a bandwagon the U.S. public is ready to jump on. Yet, if one turns on American television, in the aftermath of the summit in Helsinki, the rhetoric and accusations against the government of the Russian Federation are almost endless.

Like Trump, Obama was also unable to resolve the tensions now being described as the “New Cold War.” Let’s not forget that Obama was elected saying he would “talk to Putin”. In the early years of Obama’s first term, he said he intended to “reset” relations with the Eurasian superpower, and was attacked for it by the Tea Party. The American people favor better relations with Russia, and politicians win votes for promising it, yet the dangerous trajectory continues. Why?

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One definition of the word ‘pessimism’ is “a lack of hope or confidence in the future.” Pessimism is certainly pervasive in western politics in the present epoch. The far-left, no longer drawing from Marxism and historical materialism, but rooted in New Left mysticism, post-modernism and de-construction, presents the future as an unfolding ecological catastrophe and high tech authoritarian nightmare. The right-wing narrative presents a nightmarish future of chaos, crime, and cultural decay, while advocate walls and isolationism to retreat from the global community.

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Throughout Trump’s presidency, the memory of Nixon has been invoked by both opponents and supporters of “The Donald.” Richard Nixon stands out as the only President in U.S. history to have resigned, and not completed his term in office.

During Trump’s presidential campaign, Trump used Nixon’s famous catch-phrases, referring to the “silent majority” and calling himself a “law and order” candidate. Roger Stone, who worked for the Nixon administration’s Office of Economic Opportunity, was notably on board with the Trump campaign. Meanwhile, outspoken Trump opponent Meryl Streep starred in the recently released film “The Post” dramatizing the Washington Post’s legal battle against the Nixon administration. Rachel Maddow and other liberal voices have compared allegations against Trump to the revelations surrounding the infamous Watergate Scandal.

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American investors are salivating as a wave of Chinese tech "unicorns" (private startup corporations worth over $1 billion) are set to go public. Lufax, the online entertainment group and lender, Xiaomi, the cell phone manufacturer, and the giant known as Didi Chuxing Technology are all in the process of making an initial public offering. A headline in the Wall Street Journal proclaims: "China's Biggest Tech Unicorns Stampede to Go Public."


While American financial circles are excited about investing in tech unicorns, they overlook that the very existence of these huge, creative, wealth-generating entities disproves a central tenant of free-market ideology. Mark J. Perry, of the American Enterprise Institute, writes: "Socialism has always proven to be a formula for tyranny and misery." He goes on to state: "By their failure to foster, promote, and nurture the potential of their people through incentive-enhancing institutions, centrally planned economies deprive the human spirit of full development. Socialism fails because it kills and destroys the human spirit…"

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Import quotas have long been out of fashion among U.S. leaders in the age of free trade and globalization. However, on April 30th, the White House announced that the United States has now revived the practice, with South Korea being the first country subject to this harsh economic measure. The deal reached between the Trump administration and the administration of Moon Jae-In involves a quota of 2.63 million tons of steel from South Korea per year.

South Korea is the third largest foreign supplier of steel to the United States. The new quota is set at roughly 70% of the average import number for the past 3 years. The Wall Street Journal, noting the devastating impact of the new quota, reported that “nine out of 54 categories of South Korean steel exports to the U.S. have already had their annual quota filled.”

Why does South Korea have a steel industry?

The steel industry of South Korea was the result of a number of geopolitical maneuvers throughout the Cold War. Following the Korean War, the Soviet Union poured huge amounts of resources into industrializing and developing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the northern part of the peninsula. Technicians from the Soviet Union helped the DPRK to begin exploiting the coal from its mountainous regions.

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The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is set to host a US aircraft carrier from the pacific fleet. The USS Carl Vinson will be docked in Vietnam, and this will send a clear message of hostility from Vietnam to the People’s Republic of China. 

 

The South China Sea has been a point of contention in recent years, as China works to secure the route of oil tankers and other importing vessels destined for Shanghai and other Chinese ports. The USA seeks to maintain its ability to stop China’s oil supply at any time with a heavy military presence in the pacific. China has escalated its military presence in the South China Sea, looking to make sure that no matter what happens in international relations, the huge apparatus of production on the Chinese mainland cannot be shut down by a US blockade. A Chinese corporation is currently working to construct a canal through Nicaragua, so that imports to China crossing into the Pacific can never be compromised.

 

 

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The understanding that the American press, both TV and print media, thrives on negativity is deeply embedded in the culture, so much so that the theme music to the popular 1990s American TV sit-com “Family Matters” began with the couplet:

Its a rare condition this day and age, to read any good news on a newspaper page…

The US media is a for-profit industry. TV outlets depend on advertising revenue, the value of which depends on ratings. The drive of mainstream American TV news networks is to increase ratings, and make profits. Bad news, scandal, and sensationalism is a way to do that.

However, the commercially-owned mainstream American press has always had another role: crafting public opinion. A huge amount of US government funds are devoted to handling and managing the media. The government and the political establishment is deeply worried about making sure that the US public thinks in ways that are conducive to their overall goals and strategies. The CIA’s project mockingbird, and the cozy relationship between reporters, newspaper owners, and various Presidential administrations is the most blatant example. US Military intelligence agencies have sponsored over 1,800 hollywood films. School textbooks in California and Texas have their academic standards set in a highly politicized process.