Imperial Lies, a Bad Trade Truce, and a Doomed Arctic

Third Cultured vol 40

Happy Saturday, y’all!

I took a bit of a birthday break to start off December and re-focus myself for the new year ahead. Looks like I may be headed in the right direction because I secured a new writing gig this week! It’s for a local, online publication but it will be great to have those deadlines and a community of writers to bounce ideas off of again.

Unfortunately, our world does not seem to be in such high spirits.

Britain handed a Thatcher-level majority to Boris Johnson and his Conservative party. Moderates and Conservatives alike in the United States jumped on the narrative that the US is doomed to the same fate unless we allow Biden or Buttigieg to save us.

Yes, that’s what we need. More neoliberal, white men educated and trained by the very institutions that got us here in the first place.

Hope we didn’t pay for that education.

Unfortunately, we the American taxpayers did pay $2 trillion of our money into a war-ridden glory hole while three successive presidents and their puppet generals lied to us about the war’s progress. Incapable of separating themselves from Lockheed’s claws, we continued to shove Western liberalism down the throats of the least developed country in the world.

The fact our Secretary of Defense publicly mocked the very idea of Afghanistan becoming a “quagmire” ensured it was destined to be one. Like the Titanic decaying at the bottom of the ocean, the empire drowned itself in the hubris of its own exceptionalism.

What horrors we are capable of when our violence is for “justice” and “peace.”

Until Wednesday,


Three Things to Know

  1. One American Thing

    According to the Afghanistan Papers from the Washington Post, the United States has known since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan that it was unwinnable. 2,000 pages of interviews, conducted over 3 years revealed the last three presidential administrations have lied to the American people and wasted $2 trillion that could’ve been spent on American infrastructure, education or worthwhile international development. We should have gone in, crushed the Taliban, and left. No failed $133 billion re-development, no “War on Terror.”

    In Afghanistan alone, the casualties stand:

    • 775,000 US troops deployed | 13,000 US troops remain

    • 2,300 died in action

    • 20, 589 were wounded

    • 60,000+ Afghan security forces killed (an “unsustainable” rate)

    • 43,000+ civilians killed

    We’ve wasted a golden age’s wealth, power and prestige for absolutely nothing.

    If it wasn’t obvious when you visit an American airport, it is now – Terror won.

  2. One International Thing

    Trump and Xi agreed to a “phase one” deal. (It’s just a holiday pause, y’all.)

  3. One Cultural Thing

    The Arctic has reached the point of no return: “…permafrost ecosystems could be releasing as much as 1.1 billion to 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. This is almost as much as the annual emissions of Japan and Russia in 2018, respectively.”

"I have no visibility into who the bad guys are.”

“I may be impatient. In fact I know I’m a bit impatient. We are never going to get the U.S. military out of Afghanistan unless we take care to see that there is something going on that will provide the stability that will be necessary for us to leave.”


 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, wrote in a memo to several generals and senior aides dated April 17, 2002 — six months after the war started.

American Empire

Attorney General Barr met with Mexican officials in Mexico City last week to discuss the cartels in the country’s north who’s violence has increased. On Friday, President Trump will make a decision on whether or not to label the cartels as foreign terror organizations, which would put them in the same category as ISIS or Al Qaeda.

DC agreed to a compromise on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (aka NAFTA 2.0). It’s a big win for both parties as updating NAFTA was a campaign promise of the president’s and the Democrats were able to update the deal to include greater labor protections and showed they can chew gum while impeaching Trump. Expect to hear a lot about the deal as both parties try to frame it was “more of a win” for them than the other side. Let’s just hope this deal actually helps American workers.

Other bipartisan moves this week, included:

Democrats unveiled two Articles of Impeachment against the president – on the same day as the USMCA announcement – for corrupting the US election process and for obstructing Congress’ investigation. It’s now a guarantee the House will impeach the president following the House Judiciary Committee’s 23-17 vote on Friday morning, but Trump and Moscow Mitch cannot agree on tactics. The Majority Leader wants a quick trial to avoid mutually assured destruction whereas Trump believes a drawn-out process better his 2020 odds.

Drawings of the US’ “enhanced interrogation” have been released. Trigger warning: the visuals are graphic.

Gunmen in New Jersey targeted a kosher deli in an anti-semitic attack. Trump also moved to designate Judaism as a “nationality” to combat BDS presence on campuses.

Holiday travel sucks because of machine politics and petty feuds.

Navy grounds more than 300 Saudi national pilots after Pensacola shooting.

Take a look at the National Security Surveillance program. It can spy on Americans within the United States at will.

The US sanctioned Myanmar for genocide against Rohingya people.

123 – The number of times Trump tweeted on Thursday. His personal record, which had been set on Sunday when he sent out 105.

2020 Election

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing.

What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar for Bush and Obama, told government interviewers in 2015.

China, Europe, Russia, and Everyone Else

A national strike in France over Macron’s proposed pension reforms are the largest the countries seen in decades, bringing the economy to a halt.

Ali Milani, a 25-year old Iranian immigrant, is giving UK PM Boris Johnson a run for his re-election.

Argentina granted former Bolivian president Evo Morales asylum.

Boris Johnson’s won a landslide victory in the UK’s General Election. It’s the biggest Conservative party victory since Margaret Thatcher’s in 1987. What’s next after Brexit? Britain and the EU will negotiate almost $650 billion in trade between them.

Finland elected the world’s youngest world leader, Sanna Marin (34).

India designated its 200 million Muslims as second-class citizens.

Iran is funneling an arsenal of short-range missiles into Iraq as the country bucks under the pressure of nationwide unrest.

Israel to hold the third election of the year as neither side can form a coalition.

NATO and the High North: how Norway protects Europe against Russia’s most militarized region.

While the Norwegian government has made a decision not to overly militarize the border, Oslo has a ready force in reserve in the form of the Home Guard, a 40,000-strong civilian militia ready to spring into action if the balloon goes up. Visitors get few details, but the locals around the Finnmark region and the Norwegian town of Kirkenes would act as a guerrilla force, using local contacts and their knowledge of the terrain to harass a Russian force, blowing bridges and sabotaging roads.

The scenario is something the garrison trains for regularly. Looking at the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where they use electronic jamming to blind Ukrainian forces and turn off their ability to communicate, Nilsen said in a fight, “potentially I will not have comms, so I need to use small unit tactics and disperse, and I have to act differently from other units.”

Religion is losing ground in the most unlikely place: the Middle East.

Russia was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency from international sporting competitions — including the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo — for four years.

Saudi Aramco had the largest IPO ever – $26 billion – at a $1.9 trillion valuation.

The Sahel in Africa and Mali, in particular, need help to combat terrorism.

Turkey began resettling refugees in northeastern Syria, with plans to relocate the 3 million Syrian refugees within Turkey to the hostile region.

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Cities, Climate, Culture & Corporations

Alaska’s sliver of the Arctic Circle is the fastest-warming slice land on Earth. However, the people of Alaska’s North Slope are dependent on oil subsidies to live.

These changes are drowning Alaska Native towns. Twelve rural villages are hoping to relocate to drier ground, making their nearly 4,000 residents among the first climate refugees in the United States. Fourteen more are considered “high priority” for relocation.

Climate change is not something people discuss much in Nuiqsut. Instead of talking about greenhouse gas emissions and the astonishing rate of local warming, Itta and other opponents of more oil development emphasize drilling’s impact on the animals they hunt, and by extension, their cultural identity.

Amazon’s Ring cameras are not as secure as promised and may help spy on you.

Americans aren’t moving anymore. We can’t afford to, plus there’s no new land to fill.

Clean water and sanitation are some of the greatest global challenges over the next decade due to population growth and urbanization. 785 million people lack access to clean drinking water and over 2 billion lack access to a toilet.

Consider the butt plug.”

Don’t read Quillette. It peddles race science.

ELLE interviewed Beyonce about love and purpose to ring in the new decade.

Ethiopia unearths evidence showing Christian presence pre-Constantine in Rome.

Facebook ads are spreading misinformation around HIV treatment in LGBTQ+ communities.

“I told my mentor I was a Dominatrix. She rescinded her letters of recommendation.”

Megan Rapinoe of the USWNT is Sports Illustrated’s 2019 Sportsperson of the Year.

Mobile, AL memorialized its role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Romance novels are a billion-dollar industry. Not “guilty pleasures.”

The FTC is moving to block Facebook from integrating its different products – Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. – citing anti-trust violations.

The West is not prepared to defend against foreign digital interference in elections.