NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY
 
 $80,428
 
 204

HOT TOPICS ▶ Honduras Elections     Target: Iran     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

The Real News Network - Independent News, Blogs and Editorials

Watershed Ahead

By Andrew Levine / Counterpunch.

Photo by kellybdc | CC BY 2.0

It has looked for a while as if hardcore Trump supporters would, like the poor, always be with us  (Matthew 26:11) – some because they remain bamboozled by the huckster’s spiel and bluster, some because they think (not too unreasonably) that even Trump is better than a Clintonite Democrat (as if there is any other kind), and some because they still think (not unreasonably at all) that there is some percentage in it for them.

The latter group is comprised of members in good standing of “the donor class.” Trump’s donors are among the most venal in creation.

The Donald cares about the bamboozled ones and the ones who hate Hillary above all because they feed his vanity, but only the rich ones really matter.

Because rational deliberation and debate have come to count for almost nothing in the real world of American politics, it is their money that talks, and therefore their support that he cares about.

When they finally realize that the man they have been backing is more trouble than he is worth, Trump will be toast.  It was their money, more than his own, that put Trump in the White House; and it is their money now that keeps hardcore Trump supporters on board and that helps sustain support for the GOP, the party Trump nominally leads.

This is not to say that, when they start defecting in substantial numbers that Trump’s days in office will be over.  Because our electoral system is “exceptionally” undemocratic, even by the standards of other liberal democracies, it is extremely difficult to remove a president from office.  An utterly hobbled Donald Trump could still hang on by the skin of his teeth.

Neither is it to say that the Trump nightmare is likely soon to become less horrifying.    A more hobbled Trump could well constitute a clearer and more present danger than a less hobbled one.

My point is that if and when the donors go, the Age of Trump will enter a new phase – one that would have momentous consequences for the future, if any, of the Republican Party, and for the Democratic Party as well.  The effects on the GOP will be more dramatic and immediate, but, if all goes well, the consequences for Democrats could turn out to be at least as momentous.

Notwithstanding the cheerier impression its corporate media propagandists convey, the Democratic Party, and the duopolistic party system it helps to sustain, has long been an obstacle in the way not only of progressive social change, but also of efforts to maintain advances achieved under its aegis before the Clintons and others like them set the party on its present course.

Thanks to Trump, there is an opportunity now to begin to change that – by transforming the party beyond recognition or, better still, by abandoning it altogether.

Our semi-established duopoly party system gives the idea of abandoning it altogether a utopian flavor.  But times are changing.   In theory, though probably not in practice, the Greens could play a significant role welcoming progressive refugees fleeing the Democratic Party.  More likely, a real resistance, arising both from within and outside Democratic Party circles, could spawn new political departures.

Most likely, though, the best we can hope for, in the foreseeable future, are a few changes for the better from the base up.  Much more is desperately needed, but even small steps in a better direction are not to be despised.

Now is a time to double down on that — because December is shaping up to be a watershed month.

All the talk these days is about the Senate race in Alabama.  It is easy to see why.  If Roy Moore, the theocratic child molester, pedophile and all-around reactionary running on the GOP line, loses to Democrat Doug Jones December 12, flipping a seemingly impregnable Republican seat, it would be a major blow to the Republican Party and to Donald Trump.

But there are more momentous happenings afoot.  Unless the leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties in the House and Senate cut a deal by December 8, when money to run the federal government runs out, the government will shut down.  This will make Trump and the party he leads look bad.

With unified control of both the House and the Senate, the GOP surely ought to be able at least to keep the government running.  If it cannot, how pathetic is that!

Or if, after harping on about it for so long, Republicans cannot even get a tax cut for the rich through Congress, then what self-respecting donor would turn over a cent of ill-gotten gains to them?

To be sure, Year One of the Age of Trump has not left them completely high and dry.

Trump and his minions have been doing all kinds of harm to the judiciary.  Ironically, for that, they have mainstream Republicans, especially Mitch McConnell, a man Trump’s hardcore supporters despise almost as much as they loathe Hillary Clinton, to thank.

And, by appointing retrogrades to lead government agencies that benighted capitalists want gone, they have been severely damaging the material wellbeing of all but the stinking rich.

This is not nothing, but will it be enough to satisfy Republican donors?

The short answer is: probably not.  The reason is not just that that their greed exceeds anything that Trump can deliver.   A more important factor is that, even as he tries to give them what they want, Trump is exacerbating an intraparty civil war that has been raging for some time — and that slipped into full throttle mode the moment that he emerged as a serious candidate.

It is a war that pits benighted evangelicals and traditional reactions against that bizarre amalgam of white supremacists, nativists, and far right nihilists that we nowadays call “the altright.”

Trump himself is, and is perceived to be, on the altright side, unlike most of the donors.  But even if he were not, a Republican Party divided against itself is the last thing the donors want.

After all, the GOP was their “thing,” their Cosa Nostra.  Damaging, and perhaps even destroying it, would be a stiff price to pay for lowering taxes that most of them don’t pay anyway.

Some of them may also cavil at the harm Trump is doing to many of the socially useful things the government does – supporting higher education, for example, and keeping national parks and monuments more or less unspoiled.  Even with their limited insight and self-interested points of view, some of them must surely realize, at some level, that giving in to the capitalist impulse to privatize everything can sometimes be a bad idea.

Those wretched donors may care as little about the wellbeing of the public as they do about justice or equality, but when the demise of public goods diminishes their wellbeing along with everyone else’s, they become concerned.

The conventional wisdom has it that Trump needs at least one major legislative success to show for his first year in office.  Congressional Republicans seem on board with that.  But this is only because they don’t have the sense they were born with.   If they did, even if all they care about is themselves and their donors, they would realize that what they manage to legislate successfully matters more than the mere fact of having legislated something successfully.

And if they weren’t, “fucking morons” like Trump (according to his Secretary of State), they would also realize that tax reforms that are idiotic on their face, that will exacerbate poverty and inequality, harm workers and others in the so-called “middle class,” and that will damage the public sphere while leaving only the rich better off, are not likely to put them in good stead with the voting public.

But then, House and Senate Republicans are not, as they say this time of year, the brightest bulbs on the tree.

***

Hegel got it right: to make sense of the past, we need to assess it from suitable vantage points that become accessible only when the events in question are over, when the past truly is past. “The owl of Minerva takes flight only with the setting of the sun.”

Events in process can never be entirely clear; the situation is even murkier with events that seem likely but that have not happened yet.

Global warming is sure to wreak havoc in countless ways between now and the end of the Trump era — or the Trump-Pence era, if we somehow manage to rid ourselves of the Donald before Inauguration Day 2021.  But it is extremely unlikely that anything will happen by then that humankind will be unable to survive or that will throw the owl of Minerva seriously off course.

Therefore, if Trump does not unleash or stumble into a nuclear holocaust, it should be possible to look back upon his presidency in ways that make more sense of it than is possible while the nightmare is still unfolding.

It is impossible now to foresee what future, if any, the GOP will have.  It is very likely to remain the more odious of our two neoliberal parties, but it is impossible to say just how Republican odiousness will manifest itself in the years ahead.

What will happen to the Democratic Party is also unclear, though it is already plain that unless they break free from their Clintonite past – from servility to Wall Street the military-industrial-national security state complex, and the liberal imperialist cum neoconservative view of world affairs to which Democrats are wedded – their odiousness will continue to give the Republicans’ stiff competition.

Perhaps some day, unreconstructed Bernie Sanders supporters, and others involved with the so-called “resistance,” will succeed in setting in motion a process for rebuilding the party from the bottom up.  However, at best, that will be a protracted process, lasting well beyond the Trump or Trump-Pence era.

Mainstream Democrats cannot now even bring themselves to call unabashedly for a twenty-first century version of mid-twentieth century liberalism, the way that Bernie Sanders did.  They are even less disposed to break free from their party’s imperialist and war-mongering traditions – in order to deal in a constructive way with an empire in decline and a military that has grown far too big for its britches.

Unlike Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, Sanders never even broached those concerns, and there are no prominent voices in the Democratic Party broaching them now.

The actually existing Democratic Party is feckless.  It is also inept.  In 2016, Clinton had the entire “power structure” on her side, corporate media especially; and she and her party had more willing and able “donors” than they knew what to do with.  Nevertheless, she managed to lose.  That took some doing.

Now Hillary is gone – let’s hope that she and Bill stay that way! – and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the hapless chair of the Democratic National Committee is out of the picture too.  Their spirit lives on however – in “the Chuck (Schumer) and Nancy (Pelosi) show” and in the hearts and minds of nearly every nationally prominent mainstream Democrat.

Could the Democrats therefore lose a sure thing again?  It is not impossible; they are that bad.

It is unlikely, however.  For one thing, Trump’s manifest unsuitability for the office he holds is more widely appreciated than it was a year ago.  It has become hard to remember a time when each new day’s batch of tweets didn’t make it harder for anyone who is neither certifiably deluded nor utterly loathsome to be fooled by Trump or to remain in denial about how awful he is.

For another, because some measure of Democratic support is necessary for getting a spending bill that would avert a government shutdown through, Trump needs to make deals with Chuck and Nancy.

The beauty is that unless those two blunder spectacularly, spurred on by their own ineptitude or by rightwing Democrats and shillyshallying liberals, Trump loses whether he makes a deal or not.

At least for now, many Democrats  — with Schumer and Pelosi in tow – seem to be holding out for three pieces of “bipartisan” legislation in exchange for cooperation in avoiding a government shutdown.  They are demanding a bill to “fix” Obamacare, a bill to restore the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, and a bill to extend the now expired health care program for children, SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program).

Public opinion and common decency are on their side, but there are Republicans in the House and Senate – and in the nether regions of the Trump base — who could care less about such niceties.  If Trump concedes anything to the Democrats, they will see to it that he will have a rebellion on his hands.  Therefore, deal or not, Trump loses.

He lost last May too; the deal he struck with Schumer and Pelosi then to fund the government, arguably the most important piece of legislation passed during Trump’s first year, included no funding for his border wall and enough “discretionary spending” to rattle a lot of Republican cages.

By any measure, that deal amounted to a defeat for Trump, one that he could hardly deny.  It set in motion a series of angry, mindless tweets that boiled down to the claim that a government shutdown might be just what the doctor ordered.  Even Trump could hardly believe that; and neither could he fail to notice that the stakes this time are even higher than they were back then.

If the Republican tax bill dies or is delayed, as it may well be, Trump will be under extreme pressure to strike a deal with his Democratic foes.

Of course, he wants to keep his base on board.  But, even more, he wants to avoid completing his first year in office with a reckoning that would warrant a grade of F for House and Senate Republicans, and F- for himself.  Even he understands that, no matter what he promises his class brothers and sisters, neither he nor his indispensable allies in Congress can raise money with grades like those.

To get his stalwarts to defect, all Chuck and Nancy have to do is stick to their guns.   Unlike liberals who are disposed to remain affixed to the Democratic Party come what may, Trump supporters are not shy about taking their own sides in arguments.  There is woefully little about them that is admirable, but credit where credit is due: their obduracy is sublime.

Nevertheless, Chuck and Nancy don’t need to play chess to win this one.  Lucky for them; that would probably be more than they could handle, even with Republicans for opponents.  But, for this, minimal competency in checkers should more than suffice.

And once Republican donors start deserting Trump’s sinking ship like the rats they are, the Age of Trump will enter its terminal stage.

How long that stage will last, and what will come of it, remains to be seen.

If December does indeed turn out to be the watershed moment it is shaping up to be, we will know better soon enough.

It will be a while before when the owl of Minerva is able to make sense of the Trump era as such.  But the sun is already setting on the most recent of its stages.

Anti-Trump resisters worthy of the name will therefore have plenty to deal with in the weeks and months ahead, as Democrats and Republicans, the duopoly’s lesser and greater evils, struggle to remain afloat in the Trumpian maelstrom.

ANDREW LEVINE is the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Add a comment

Russia wants to join the ISIS battle in Iraq

By: Shawn Snow / Military Times.

A Russian Su-25 ground attack jet is shown parked at the Hemeimeem Air Base in Syria, with Su-24 bombers seen in the background in Dec. 2015. Russia has been carrying out an air campaign in Syria since Sep. 30. (Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)


Russia says it is ready to start talking with the U.S. about helping to destroy the remnants of the Islamic State militants in western Iraq.

The comments from a Russian defense official come as Russia claims that ISIS has been defeated in Syria. But U.S. officials say there are still several thousand ISIS fighters remaining and still plenty of work for U.S.-backed fighters in the region to finish off and defeat ISIS.

“We are ready to hold dialogue and join American counterparts in solving this issue” said Russian First Deputy Defense Minister General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff, as reported by Russian state news agency TASS.

“The attention of the international counterterrorism coalition should be focused on how to destroy militants in Iraq’s western regions in order to prevent the ISIL comeback to Syria and how to exclude the revival of Islamic Caliphate there, but not on deployment of own military bases in Syria,” Gerasimov said.

The Russian deputy minister further criticized U.S. operations in Syria and claimed it took nearly 11 months for U.S.-backed fighters to liberate Raqqa, and that 90 percent of the city had been destroyed in the effort.

“Contrary to the statements by our Western partners, the operations of the international anti-terror coalition led by the United States have not yielded any considerable successes on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the general said, according to TASS.

The Raqqa campaign was announced on June 6 by the U.S. partner forces known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the city was liberated at just over four months of fighting.

Sign up for the Early Bird Brief
The defense industry's most comprehensive news

Nevertheless, Russian claims about U.S. operations in the region have been meet with much skepticism by U.S. officials.

“I would say the Russian Ministry of Defense statements are about as accurate as their air campaign,” Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, previously told reporters at a televised Pentagon briefing in November. The statements by Dillon were made after the Russian defense ministry posted screen shots of a video game as evidence of U.S. collusion with ISIS fighters.

However, the likelihood of any U.S. military cooperation with Russia in Iraq is low. “Our communication with the Russians, from a DoD standpoint, is limited to deconflicting our operations in Syria to prevent accidents,” said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesperson.

Russian and U.S. military officials use a communications channel on a daily basis to help deconflict ground operations and air space over a tightly congested battlefield. But, there has been no direct military cooperation between Russian and American forces in the region.

But today’s statement by a Russian military official does beg the question of Russian interest in western Iraq.

While ISIS militants lost their last urban stronghold in Iraq after the liberation of al-Qaim and Rawa, the terror group is still holding onto scant territory in the expansive Jazeera desert of the Anbar province.

“The Russians may seek to expand their partnership with Iran and its proxies into Iraq in order to displace the US, further consolidate their own coalition, and dominate the region’s post-ISIS security architecture,” said Jennifer Cafarella, an expert on ISIS at the Institute for the Study of War.

Add a comment

Trump's Bizarre Rantings and Tweets Give Cover to His Fellow Authoritarian McConnell to Ram Through a Huge Tax Cut for the Rich

By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet.

Planned or not, Trump's provocations distract from McConnell's iron fist in the Senate.

Photo Credit: Image by Shutterstock, Copyright (c) Christopher Halloran

Wednesday’s headlines from Washington perfectly displayed the dysfunctional personalities and darkening politics that are turning America into a plutocracy ruled by sociopaths and authoritarians.

Whether or not it is coincidental, orchestrated or a bit of both, the latest reality-denying fantasy-embracing outbursts and provocations from President Trump gave Senate Republicans more cover to continue ramming through a tax bill in a manner that defies any pretense of representative government.

From a political perspective, Trump’s latest Twitter pile-on is a perfectly timed distraction from the dirty business unfolding in the Senate. First, he suggested the head of NBC be investigated for sexual misbehavior after the network fired morning show host Matt Lauer. That came after Trump said the infamous Access Hollywood video (in which he boasted of grabbing women) was not real. Then Trump retweeted some British anti-Muslim tweets, with the White House commenting that it didn't matter if they were true or not.

In much of 2016, the press became addicted to the daily outbursts from candidate Trump. It’s old news to recount his lies, distortions and vanities—everything that makes him anything but presidential. On Wednesday, however, this habit served Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell very well, by diverting attention from the GOP legislation plundering the middle-class and eviscerating safety nets so the rich can get richer.

But McConnell is a different breed of authoritarian than Trump. As Bernie Sanders, the Senate Budget Committee’s ranking member said in impassioned remarks on Tuesday, no Senate committee has held a hearing on the tax bill. The Budget Committee only had 15 minutes of “debate” before passing it on a party-line vote. The opposition party had no role in this process, which Wednesday moved to the Senate floor. This is not representative government, it’s mob rule, by and for the rich, mostly at blue states' expense.

“You know, how many hours have I sat here, and you’ve sat there, and we’ve seen all the charts and all the discussions, about how terrible the deficit is, and what it means leaving this burden to our kids and our grandchildren,” Sanders said, making a final appeal to the budget panel’s Republicans. “We’ve heard all of that rhetoric, year after year, and now we have a bill that raises the deficit by $1.4 trillion. And let me be very clear, I have not the slightest doubt, that if this bill, god forbid, is passed, the Republican leadership will come back and say, 'My god, we have to deal with the deficit, and that’s why we’re going to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education.’”

Sanders’ plea went nowhere. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone. McConnell has shown he will embrace any tactic necessary to win—unless stopped by a fellow Republican like Arizona’s ailing John McCain during the Obamacare repeal vote. McConnell’s sabotage of Obama’s final Supreme Court nomination is Exhibit A. Partisan principles vaporize before McConnell’s mob rule dictates. And Wednesday, McConnell was helped by Trump’s outbursts and craziness, planned or not, which is even more sinister.

Trump’s pro wrestler-like provocations are part of an ongoing barrage to erase the past (Access Hollywood), rewrite history (who voted for him), dismiss fact, and embrace fiction. Holocaust historians like Timothy Snyder and experts on George Orwell like author Tom Ricks have said these impulses were all tell-tale characteristics of totalitarian rulers. The risk is not just that Trump is a sociopath with unique dysfunctions, but that he is indulging in attacks and fantasies as president.

The Washington Post’s ‘Plum Line’ columnist, Greg Sargent, noted these sociopathic features on Wednesday, warning that Trump is accumulating and asserting power, much like McConnell is asserting his rule in the Senate.

“Trump is not trying to persuade anyone of anything as much as he is trying to render reality irrelevant, and reduce the pursuit of agreement on it to just another part of the circus,” Sargent wrote. “He’s asserting a species of power—the power to evade constraints normally imposed by empirically verifiable facts, by expectations of consistency, and even by what reasoned inquiry deems merely credible. The more brazen or shameless, the more potent is the assertion of power.”

Trump’s attacks on the press are no accident, Sargent adds, but are calculated to damage the one institution that stands between elected officials and the public. Trump has ceaselessly attacked the media, toyed with coverage by introducing absurdities that get repeated everywhere—as mainstream media sees covering statements of record as a core responsibility. However, Trump’s dumpster dives also sully the media, who reflectively follow him into the gutter, Sargent notes.

“Here again, the absurdity is the whole point: In both the volume and outsize defiance of his lies, Trump is asserting the power to declare the irrelevance of verifiable, contradictory facts, and with them, the legitimate institutional role of the free press, which at its best brings us within striking distance of the truth,” Sargent writes.

“I don’t claim to know whether this is merely instinctual on Trump’s part, or part of a strategy,” he continues. “As Trump biographer Tim O’Brien puts it, Trump constantly ‘tells fables to himself’ and ‘about himself,’ and has long self-consciously regarded this as ‘one of his great skills.’ Trump has been doing it for so long that the separation between instinct and conscious technique has probably disappeared. But one thing is clear: Terms like ‘lying’ or ‘delusional’ don’t do justice to what we’re seeing here, and we have not yet seriously reckoned with its true nature and what it really means.”

What it means Wednesday, to start, is that Trump is providing a handy distraction for what may end up being the GOP’s first legislative victory of his presidency—a $1.4 trillion tax bill that will cause, as Sanders noted, 87 million middle-class households to see their taxes go up in the next decade while 62 percent of the benefits go to the top 1 percent.

But as bad as that tax legislation is, the specter of two breeds of totalitarians working in tandem—the authoritarian Republican Senate Leader and the sociopath commander-in-chief—is unprecedented in modern times. And their reign has just begun.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

Add a comment

Poland has sticker shock over ‘unacceptable’ price tag for Patriot buy

By: Jen Judson / Defense News.

US troops from the 5th Battalion of the 7th Air Defense Regiment emplace a launching station of the Patriot air and missile defence system at a test range in Sochaczew, Poland, on March 21, 2015 as part of a joint exercise with Polands troops of the 37th Missile Squadron of Air Defense that is to demonstrate the US Armys capacity to deploy Patriot systems rapidly within NATO territory. AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI (Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Poland has been pushing toward a purchase of a medium-range air-and-missile defense system for many years, settling on an unprecedented configuration of the Patriot system, but was surprised by the high price tag presented when the U.S. State Department cleared the sale of half of the Patriots Poland plans to buy.

According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, when it notified Congress last month of the potential sale, the deal could cost the country $10.5 billion for four systems — that is roughly 37 billion zloties — which already exceeds by 7 billion zloties what Poland has said it would spend on the entire program.

The DSCA announcement only marks the progress in the first phase of the acquisition. Poland would like to see a second round of Patriot systems with a 360-degree detection capability and the first four retrofitted with the new radar in a subsequent deal.

“The high cost came as a surprise for us,” Bartosz Kownacki, secretary of state in Poland’s Ministry of National Defense, told Defense News in a Dec. 5 interview in Washington.

“The price is indeed unacceptable for us even in the view of the significant financial assets that we allocated for the technical modernization of the Polish Armed Forces,” he said through a translator. “We cannot simply afford to spend that much money on the procurement of two batteries and [Patriot Advanced Capability]-3 missiles for such an amount of money.”

The offer from the U.S. included 16 missile launchers, four sector radars and 208 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles.

The possible sale is a long time coming with Poland and the U.S. struggling through complicated negotiations over the past several years.

Sign up for our Daily News Roundup
The top Defense News stories of the day

Poland began its “Wisla” competition to procure a medium-range air-and-missile defense system many years ago, ultimately choosing Patriot in 2014 but, instead of simply buying what Raytheon had at the ready, the country decided it wanted a command-and-control system for Patriot that is still in development by the U.S. Army and Northrop Grumman called the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) along with a new radar down the road.

Instead of opting for a simple foreign military sale like Romania did recently when purchasing Patriot, Poland is, in a sense, creating its own integrated air-and-missile defense program.

Poland has also been adamant about creating quality defense work for its industrial base and has demanded certain offsets to ensure growth in its defense industry.

“We will be doing thorough analyses of the draft Letter of Agreement once it is sent to us,” Kownacki said. Looking at his watch, he said he expected the draft LOA could be sent at anytime and could even be delivered during the interview.

The cost estimate for the Patriot deal was the topic of discussions held this week during Kownacki’s trip to Washington. “We simply cannot accept such financial conditions, we will be working hard on reducing it, we will be conducting a line-by-line review,” he said. “We understand to reduce it more than one meeting will be required, maybe two or three meetings will be required to negotiate an acceptable, reasonable price.”

Kownacki added that there are other elements of the deal that came as a surprise as well. “For instance, the price of offset,” he said. While some companies involved with the deal gave reasonable prices for offset, “there is one company which presented an unacceptable offset for us and conditions we cannot accept,” he said.

And even with the companies that offered reasonable deals, Kownacki said, there will still be an effort to negotiate the price down further.

Kownacki added it’s possible that over the course of the negotiations it will turn out that some of the high prices were presented to the country due to a misunderstanding of its offset regulations. Poland changed its offset regulations and there are a number of elements that may not be understood, he said.

While the price tag for the first round of Patriots should be higher because of some up-front costs that cover the program as a whole, it should still be proportionately smaller than what Poland plans to spend over the entire life-cycle of the program, Kownacki said.

“Of course we can’t foresee by how much we will manage to lower the price, nonetheless, the U.S. Administration as well as the companies are aware that we need to reduce this price,” he added. “I am confident that we will manage to reach our goal, our objective, and we are currently finalizing the project so we are in the last stage of negotiations.”

Some analysts in Poland are more than skeptical that the price tag can be reduced enough so the country doesn’t exceed the 30 billion zloties for which its has budgeted to cover the entire program.

The U.S. cost estimate already exceeds the limit set by Poland by 20 percent, Marek Swierczynski, of Poland’s Polityka Insight, points out in a recent report. “So it will be good if the first phase negotiations will end at 30 billion zloties,” he writes.

He calculates that if the second phase of the program reflects the first phase in numbers, the costs could be “colossal.” For example, the price of one Lockheed Martin-manufactured PAC-3 MSE for the U.S. Army is $5.7 million and, with the offset Poland wants, the cost could rise to $8 million, Swierczynski notes. The PAC-3 order is already reduced to a minimum so there is little wiggle room for price there. And he also writes the low-cost SkyCeptor missile that Poland wants to manufacture as part of the program is currently a wild card, falling in the second phase of the procurement.

Swierczynski suggests that if Poland wants to get the cost down significantly “it has to say goodbye to the prospect of technological leaps in radar or rockets. And that was the most important thing in the industrial part of the Wisla program.”

The future 360-degree radar’s cost is also an unknown because Poland won’t know what it is buying for some time.

And adding IBCS to the Patriot system is an additional cost, yet it doesn’t appear to be the reason for the enormous cost of the first phase of the program. Northrop Grumman confirmed to Defense News that IBCS actually makes up less than 15 percent of the total acquisition cost for the Wisla FMS acquisition.

Add a comment

Chicago Democrats: "Embarrassment of Riches" or War?

By Lenny Brody​

National Steering Committee member, Justice Party

The race for Congress in Chicago’s 4th Congressional District is on. Congressman Luis Gutierrez announced he will not run for re-election. He has anointed Chuy Garcia as his choice to succeed him. In the recent Chicago mayor’s race, Gutierrez supported Rahm Emanuel over Chuy Garcia. So what gives? Those on the ground in Chicago know this maneuver was orchestrated to get Garcia out of the 2019 race for mayor and clear the way for Emanuel. As soon as Garcia announced his candidacy for Congress, Bernie Sanders endorsed him.

It is unclear what Sanders knows about the Chicago situation. However, in the face of this sellout to the corporate Dems, Chicago’s most popular, progressive elected official, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, has stepped up to carry the political revolution forward. Rosa has announced his candidacy for Congress in the 4th CD.

While Garcia is relying on the established Democratic Party politicians, there has been an eruption of grassroots support for Rosa. Hundreds of volunteers are collecting thousands of signatures for Rosa. Supposed progressive organizations in Chicago that are leaning toward Garcia are finding their members flocking to Rosa’s campaign.

Establishment politicians and the media are trying to paint this race as an “embarrassment of riches” with two progressives running. But in reality a battle of a different kind is shaping up. Those who have been forced to fight because of the poverty growing in the U.S., because of the rise of right-wing politics, and because of the energy of the Sanders campaign, are not fooled by this Gutierrez-Garcia alliance. This battle has the potential to become a war for the soul of Chicago and perhaps this country. Activists in the electoral arena are facing a clear choice: Do we stick with the corrupt back room wheeling and dealing of the Democratic Party or do we stake out an independent truly progressive stance.

Add a comment
TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting