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The ‘War Party’ Wins the Midterm Elections, Accelerating the Transition to a Multipolar World Order

The outcome of the American midterm elections gives us an even more divided country, confirming that the United States is in the midst of a deep crisis within its establishment.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via Strategic Culture:


The midterm elections represented a substantial draw for Democrats and Republicans, a defeat for the Trump administration and a clear victory for the “war party” in Washington. The House of Representatives ended up in the hands of the Democrats, who managed to overturn the results of 2016 by winning 26 seats and bringing their majority to 219, with the Republicans with 193 seats. The Republicans, despite the feared “blue wave”, have increased their representation in the Senate, with 51 senators against the 45 of the Democrats. In terms of governors, Republicans remain ahead, with 25 red states against 21 blue. After two years of fake investigations on Russiagate, continuous attacks by the US media (except for the few pro-Trump channels like Fox News), the blue Democratic wave seemed inevitable. Instead, we witnessed a minor repetition of the 2016 elections, with Trump managing to perform above expectations.

The House of Representatives performs functions mainly related to domestic politics, while the Senate is responsible for confirming important appointments such as those to the Supreme Court. The Democrats holding the majority in the House makes Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign an uphill battle. Trump will need to be able to present to his constituents from 2019 with a series of 2016 promises fulfilled. Getting one’s legislative agenda passed with the House in the hands of one’s opponents is difficult at the best of times. For Trump the task becomes almost impossible.

For this reason, we are faced with a scenario that delivers the country to the war party, that faction composed of Republicans and Democrats who respond to the interests of specific conglomerates of power and not to the citizens who elected them. The real winners of the midterms appear to be the intelligence agencies, Wall Street and the banks, the ratings agencies, the Fed, the mainstream media, think-tanks, policy-makers, and the military-industrial complex. Donald Trump has come to discover, in his first two years as president, how little autonomy he has in foreign policy, thanks to the warmongering of the US establishment.

The realist view of foreign policy on which Trump based his election campaign was swept away just a few days after his victory. Hoping to bribe the hawks in Washington, Trump surrounded himself with neoconservatives, who only ended up trying to box him into something that resembles the Washington Consensus, where every attempt at dialogue with opponents is seen as a surrender or sign of weakness.

Washington and its elites live trapped in a unipolar bubble, still convinced that the United States is the only world power left on the geopolitical chessboard. Even the Pentagon’s military planners have confirmed in two official documents (the Nuclear Posture Review and National Defence Review) how international relations have shifted into a multipolar reality where the United States will have to deal with peer competitors like Russia and China.

Washington’s neoliberal inner circle views international relations in a very unrealistic and ideologically spoiled manner. This was masterfully explained by Mearsheimer in his latest book, suitably entitled The Great Delusion, where he compares the three most important “isms” of nationalism, liberalism and realism. Those who make up the overwhelming majority of the foreign-policy establishment are convinced that the United States is a benign hegemon that has a moral duty to remake the world in its own image and likeness.

In the process, bombing a country, destroying its social fabric and killing hundreds of thousands of innocents is justified by this supposedly noble end. This is end-justifies-means mentality is behind the overwhelming majority of Washington’s foreign-policy actions. Of course only people who are victims of their own propaganda can really believe that they are acting in the greater good by bringing about so much chaos and destruction. On the contrary, the rest of the world has for decades observed with disgust and dismay the imperialism of a warmongering country committed to consuming the resources of others, vainly hoping, especially since 1990s, that the unipolar moment would be cut short through the counterbalancing effect of other powers. Ultimately, it is not only Russia and China that awaits a multipolar world, but all those countries that do not intend to submit to American diktats over how they conduct their own foreign or domestic policies.

The outcome of the midterm elections could speed up this process. With the House of Representatives in the hands of the Democrats, Trump will have to abandon his realist foreign policy even more so than he has done over the last two years. The accumulation of foreign-policy concessions is starting to become disturbing. Just think of the enmity towards Iran, fomented by Israel and Saudi Arabia, the main partners of the Trump administration. The same goes for China, with the antagonism fomented by Trump himself to justify the impoverishment of the US middle class who voted in force for him to change this situation. And of course there remains the endemic hatred of Russia, a sworn enemy of the Washington establishment.

Trump still seems to possess a bit of Mearsheimerian realism in foreign policy. But following his defeat in the House, if he wants to get anything passed, he will need to grant much more of a free hand in foreign policy to the neoliberals, who are chomping at the bit to revive the Bush and Obama foreign policy. Without any concessions from the House, all of Trump’s domestic promises to his constituents will be hobbled.

The permanent political civil war in the United States seems destined to intensify over the next two years, and the prospect of an even less independent administration in foreign policy will impel the rest of the world to rely less and less on Washington and begin to look elsewhere. Even European countries like France, Germany and Italy seem to have understood that an exclusive alliance with Washington is not beneficial and is in fact destined to fail as a result of of the chaos in US politics. In this context, the events of the past few days are particularly important and certainly worthy of elaboration in a future article. While many Eurasian countries like India, Japan, Turkey, Iran, Russia, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan try to overcome their differences by creating international cooperation frameworks, Washington pushes unnecessarily on the accelerator of disorder. A shining example of what Washington’s decline means can be clearly seen in Korea. Without the direct involvement of the United States, Seoul and Pyongyang seem to be heading towards peaceful reconciliation. Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un interact every day, and the progress made on the DMZ speaks for itself, such as with renewed railway connections. Such an example, reflecting the global model that tends towards resolving problems, represents the basis on which to build bilateral, direct and negotiated solutions between relevant parties.

Such examples are numerous and concern, for example, the disagreements between India and China, as well as the territorial disputes between Japan and China and Japan and Russia. The goal is always the same: to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of mutual gain. It is a way of approaching international relations that differs from the bipolar past, but above all from the unipolar one where the attention of all international actors has been focused on the interests of Washington above even one’s own.

The continuing division within the American political class will only accelerate the loss of America’s pre-eminence in the existing the world order. The United States finds itself in the middle of an evident decline, without even a united and compact political front as was the case during the days of Bush and Obama. But with Trump in office, the House in the hands of the Democrats, and the Senate in the hands of Republicans, we are facing a situation that is set to downsize Washington’s role in international affairs.

There is still an even crazier and more devastating scenario for America’s role in the world. Trump’s impeachment, which can be initiated by the House of Representatives, would significantly add to the chaos in the United States and risk bringing the country to the brink of socio-political collapse. While this scenario is very unlikely, it cannot be totally excluded, especially given the ideological folly of the Washington establishment.

A Pence presidency would best represent the interests of evangelical conservatives, who are closely linked to Israeli Zionism. For this reason, the impeachment of Trump could find allies in the Republican minority, not to mention the fact that such a move by the Democrats would open the way for the Republicans to win in 2020, stamping the Democrats as spoilers only able to oppose and unable to build anything. Such a possibility cannot be excluded, and with the victory of the war party in the midterms, a President Pence would represent the greatest effort of the American establishment to impose its will on the rest of the world on the basis of “American exceptionalism”.

Prolonging the unipolar dream seems to be the new goal of the war party, and the reconquest of the House is the first step in this endeavour. Trump can adapt or give battle, but observing how he immediately came to terms after his victory in 2016, it is no surprise that if he stays in charge and tries to win the 2020 election, he will cede foreign policy to the neocons, neoliberals, Zionists and Wahhabis.

Allies and enemies alike must prepare to withstand the shock waves emanating from the struggle between the elites in Washington, understanding that it is not possible to rely on Trump, let alone the war party, especially when the damage produced by both has negative effects on even allies. Europe, for example, suffers from the blowback of a Middle East and Africa sunk into chaos by the war party, and also suffers economically from the sanctions placed on Russia and Iran.

What is more, Trump’s economic warfare, using tariffs and sanctions, has only worsened the international financial economic arrangement, accelerating the complete de-dollarization of world economies.

The midterms were what Washington’s allies and enemies had been waiting for in order to understand the direction of US foreign policy in the next few years. The election results present allies and enemies with an even more divided and chaotic United States, suggesting that it is time for them to stop waiting for Washington. Given that Trump does not control his foreign policy, any attempt to engage in dialogue with him is pointless. The sooner allies and enemies realize this, and act accordingly, the better off they will be.

Washington and her elite seem too caught up in domestic dynamics to notice that their behaviour is only accelerating the transition to a multipolar world order

The next two years will settle the question over whether our present reality is already multipolar, or whether the unipolar order remains, with Washington the indispensable nation for friends and enemies alike.

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Pancho PericoManintheMoonShaun RameweGeorge HartwellRaymond Comeau Recent comment authors
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Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

“… he will need to grant much more of a free hand in foreign policy to the neoliberals, who are chomping at the bit to revive the Bush and Obama foreign policy”.

“Revive”?? As far as I can see, it has never died – or even weakened in the slightest.

What part of Bush’s and Obama’s foreign policies has Trump changed materially? Indeed, as far as “abroad” is concerned, Bush Jr might still be in the White House – or Clinton, or Bush Sr.

As Mr Putin remarked, presidents come and presidents go but US foreign policy remains exactly the same.

Raymond Comeau
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Raymond Comeau

Tom, things stay the same, because USA Presidents are forced to march to the dictates of Deep State!

Shaun Ramewe
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Shaun Ramewe

A march they force themselves into willingly!!

Shaun Ramewe
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Shaun Ramewe

Zio-liar false-flagging war-criminal Swamp-Chump is just another ZOG-sicko relay baton carrier.

George Hartwell
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Deep state is going to get their ass kicked as Trump consolidates power in mid-terms. Those who did not support Trump in the Senate are gone. Those elected support him because he threw his heart into the senate races and many owe their seats to his unwavering support. So the opening assumption – The midterm elections represented a substantial draw for Democrats and Republicans, a defeat for the Trump administration and a clear victory for the “war party” in Washington – is bullshit wrong.

Shaun Ramewe
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Shaun Ramewe

Trust nothing about what happens with the fraudulent 2-party system in US’A-hole’. It’s all a deceitful and depraved political-meddling war-criminal pro-terrorist resource-thieving media-lying ZOG ruse.

ManintheMoon
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ManintheMoon

In a way, the outcome of the shenanigans in Washington really does not matter for the rest of the world. It’s not that the war party won the mid terms, it’s that it has never even been threatened. Trump may have wanted better relations with Russia – and been thwarted – but he’s been gung ho for war with Iran and conflict with China since the start. So far as the military industrial complex is concerned, it does not much matter against whom they fight so long as it’s someone. What is new, is that the rest of the world… Read more »

Pancho Perico
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Pancho Perico

Very thoughtful article. Unfortunately, it goes very close to the true causes of the growing malaise affecting America today.

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Theresa May survives another week in ongoing Brexit fiasco (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 153.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit survival, as the UK Prime Ministers appears to be heading to Brussels so she can coordinate with EU technocrats in order to meet a November deadline to move the unpopular agreement through all channels of British government.

It is still a very fluid situation. May has made it through a tough weekend where support to oust her never materialized, but the week ahead is anything but certain. For now May’s Brexit position looks secure.

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“Brexit. A Deal That Pleases No One,” authored by Daniel Lacalle via dlacalle.com…

The agreement announced between the British government and the European Union has been received in the United Kingdom with criticism from all sides. The defenders of staying in the European Union consider it very negative, of course. However, and this is the most important part, it is unlikely that the conservative party itself will support this agreement in parliament. Jacob Rees-Mogg has called the agreement “a failure of the negotiators and a failure to deliver Brexit.” Boris Johnson has said that it turns the United Kingdom into a “vassal state” and Nigel Farage has described it as “the worst agreement in history”.

Including the entire United Kingdom in the customs union and maintaining the payment of 10 billion pounds a year to give the European Union veto rights to the most important decisions is something that most conservative members of parliament will reject and that does not satisfy the Labor Party – which is also not pro-EU, let’s be clear – nor the liberal-democrats.

That is the great problem facing the government of Theresa May. That not even the government as a whole supports this agreement. The resignations that have been registered prove it. Even if the rest of the government decides to accept this agreement as a lesser evil, it is very difficult for the parliament to approve it.

At the centre of the controversy is a negotiating process that the European Union has left as a United Kingdom issue. But by letting the United Kingdom deal with its own divisions and problems, the EU also lost the perfect opportunity to offer British citizens and the rest of Europe a refreshing, leading and exciting project. And that is the big problem. That Brexit has been seen in many circles in Brussels as an opportunity to advance in the political and interventionist project, instead of moving towards a union in freedom for global, economic and political leadership.

The problem of the UK government is that it is led by a person, Theresa May, who must present a proposal to leave the EU when she has always been an advocate of remaining (Theresa May initially campaigned for the “Remain”). Thus, it is not surprising that the parliament arithmetics in favor of this agreement is not at all clear.

The British Parliament has more members in favor of Brexit than against, but it cannot be THIS Brexit.

Boris Johnson and the pro-Brexit hardliners may see an opportunity to weaken Theresa May and force a change of leadership that will bring a new leader more committed to a better deal.

Moderate Labour, who have been terrified for months with the radical drift of the Corbyn team, may also see an opportunity to weaken the leader who tries to take Labour to the far left.

My perception is that if there were a second referendum the result would probably be the same. In the United Kingdom there are no voices with political weight and real popular support to defend the European Union project. In the United Kingdom, the debate is either seeing the European Union as an annoying partner or as an impossible danger to solve.

Citizens in Europe see Brexit with sadness, logically. In the United Kingdom, news arriving from the European Union do not encourage a remain stance. High unemployment, unresolved immigration problems, lack of global leadership, high taxes, the specter of a new debt crisis in Italy and other risks. Pro-Europe UK leaders offer no other argument to citizens than the so-called Project Fear, a massive economic risk. However, British citizens see UK unemployment at 75-year lows, while in Europe they see the slowdown of the eurozone and the budget crisis of other countries, and do not find an unquestionable reason to stay in the club.

The UK citizen who votes for Brexit does not seem convinced that the only solution is to belong to a union that demands more control but offers less growth and employment.

The reactions to the agreement have not been very euphoric in any case. It seems something that was presented to fail. The pound and stock market did not react as the EU negotiators would think once the deal was seen as unlikely to pass parliament. In the bond market, Gilts strengthened as UK bond spreads fell while eurozone peripheral yields soared. The opposite of what would be seen as an EU victory.

Reaching an agreement that benefits everyone is difficult, but not impossible

The problem in the United Kingdom is that the agreement that would satisfy the pro-Brexit is impossible, and that the agreement that would please the pro-EU is impractical. That the message of economic ruin is not bought by Brexiters and not even the Remainers see the marvels of the EU membership.

Economically, it has been a mistake to present British citizens with the idea of “either the EU or the chaos”, because it does not work when there is not a clear, exciting and global leadership project.

The United Kingdom, one of the voices that defended economic freedom and open markets in an increasingly bureaucratic European Union is an essential partner to advance in Europe. Reaching an agreement that benefits everyone is difficult, but not impossible.

I have never bought the “EU or chaos” argument. I believe that both parts can benefit from a mutually beneficial deal. I am convinced that, even if this agreement is not approved, the British government will reconsider and present a solid plan for its citizens.

 

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Rise of the Western Dissidents

The only reason Assange is being targeted is that he tangled with the highest levels of the western establishment. He is far from alone.

The Duran

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Authored by Allum Bokhari via Breitbart:


We’re used to Russian dissidents, Chinese dissidents, Iranian dissidents, and Saudi Arabian dissidents. But those who rightly believe the west is superior to authoritarian regimes must now contend with a troubling trend — the rise of the western dissident.

Chief among them is Julian Assange, who for a half-decade has been forced to live in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has claimed political asylum since 2011. Assange claimed that he would be extradited to the U.S. to face charges over his work at WikiLeaks if he left the embassy, and was routinely mocked as paranoid for doing so.

This week, we learned that Assange was right and his critics were wrong. Thanks to a clerical error by the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, reporters were able to confirm the existence of sealed criminal charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

Because the charges are sealed and the evidence is unknown, it’s impossible to say if the case has merit. But it likely relates to WikiLeaks’ release of unredacted diplomatic cables in 2011, which forced the U.S. to relocate several of its foreign sources.

Some allegations are more serious. While he was alive, neoconservative Senator John McCain maintained that leaks provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, which included the diplomatic cables, caused U.S sources to be murdered.

Those who see Assange as a villain will end the story here. What is typically left out is that WikiLeaks originally released the diplomatic cables in piecemeal form, with names redacted to prevent loss of life and minimize harm.

It was only after a Guardian journalist’s error led to the full unredacted cables leaking to third parties on the web that WikiLeaks published them as well — and not before Assange attempted to warn the office of Hillary Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State.

In other words, WikiLeaks behaved precisely as any responsible publisher handling sensitive material should, redacting information that could cause harm. The redactions only stopped when they became pointless. Assange is unlikely to have won more than a dozen journalism awards if he were completely reckless in his publications.

The Pentagon later admitted under oath that they could not find any instances of individuals being killed as a result of being named in Manning’s leaks to WikiLeaks, contradicting Sen. McCain’s allegations.

At worst, Assange and WikiLeaks can be accused of negligence, not deliberate recklessness, in the way it handled sensitive material. But as Breitbart Tech reporter Lucas Nolan points out, a far stronger case can be made against Hillary Clinton for the way she handled State Department emails — yet we see no criminal charges against her.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the only reason Assange is being targeted is that he tangled with the highest levels of the western establishment. In that, he is far from alone.

In the late 2000s to early 2010s, western governments targeted all manner of individuals associated with Assange and the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, including Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda, and The Guardian newspaper.

This was the early growth period of the internet, when the web had become a truly popular medium but had yet to be censored by pliant social media corporations. It was a time of profound unease at the power of the internet to undermine authority, both through the dissemination of information as in the case of WikiLeaks and Snowden, and in the new mobilization of political forces, as in the case of Occupy Wall Street and the SOPA/PIPA protests. Heavy-handed crackdowns against individuals and groups that were seen, rightly or wrongly, as symbols of the web’s early anarchic tendencies, like Kim DotcomAaron SwartzAnonymous, and LulzSec, were not uncommon.

These days, however, a new class of western dissident has emerged — the populist dissident.

Populist Dissidents

Who would have thought that the highest court in Europe, home of the enlightenment, would uphold a case in which a woman was prosecuted for blasphemy against Islam?

Who would have thought that Britain, the birthplace of liberalism and the free press, would ban an independent journalist from its shores for satirizing the same religion?

Who would have thought that Germany, whose living memory of the totalitarian Stasi is just three decades old, would put its largest opposition party under surveillance?

Just a few years ago, all three would sound far-fetched. But cases like these have become common as elites in virtually every western country mount a panicked attempt to contain the rise of populism (the goal, in the words of a Google executive, is to render it a “hiccup”in history’s march towards progress).

Look at the case of Tommy Robinson, the British critic of Islam who was dragged through Britain’s courts on fuzzy contempt-of-court charges. Sentenced to an astonishing thirteen-month imprisonment, Robinson was eventually freed after a successful appeal and now awaits a final trial before Britain’s Attorney General. Shaky charges that have been successfully appealed were exploited to persecute a British citizen who was inconvenient to the establishment. And there’s still a further trial to come.

Then again, Britain is a country that routinely bans foreign politicians and media figures from the country for being too right-wing. Michael SavageGeert WildersLauren SouthernPamela Geller, and Robert Spencer all enjoy this dubious distinction. Theresa May, who was responsible for internal affairs and immigration when Spencer and Geller were banned, is now the Prime Minister.

But it’s not just Britain. Not only has Trump’s White House, supposedly an ally of populists, failed to publicly intervene on behalf of the American citizens banned from the U.K. for expressing populist viewpoints, but it hasn’t even investigated allegations that far-left Antifa activists were able to stop conservative Rebel Media personality Jack Buckbyfrom entering the country by spreading false criminal allegations.

Julian Assange, a left-libertarian may share little ideological ground with right-wing critics of Islam. But they all share at least one thing: persecution by western states coupled with anti-establishment political speech or activities. They are also targets of the security establishment — Assange because of leaks that have exposed their secrets, and the populists because they refuse to censor themselves to avoid angering Muslims. (The UK justified its attempted ban of Geert Wilders by arguing that his presence in the country could lead to “inter-faith violence.”)

We also see attacks on free speech, with governments and politicians across the west pressuring Silicon Valley to suppress its critics. An unaccountable, unelected elite can sweep away a person’s livelihood in minutes, and cut their political message off from millions of American citizens. As I wrote in my column two weeks ago, the overarching trend is the gradual destruction or delegitimization of every tool, digital or otherwise, that non-elites use to express their preferences. Does that sound like a free society, or a controlled one?

You don’t have to agree with any of the individuals or groups listed above to see that surveilling political parties, blocking journalists from entering countries, jailing critics of religion, upholding blasphemy laws and censoring the net is the behavior of authoritarian nations, not liberal democracies. Yet this is the disturbing pattern we now see in the west.

Worse, foreign authoritarian regimes now provide safe harbor for western dissidents, in the same way that the west does for foreign dissidents. Edward Snowden, accused of violating the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917 for blowing the whistle on the NSA’s mass surveillance of Americans, has for years resided safely in Russia, a country that persecutes and even kills its own journalists. Before that, he sought refuge in Hong Kong, a “Special Administrative Region” of the People’s Republic of China, an even more terrifyingly totalitarian state.

Will there now be a quid pro quo, with Russia and other authoritarian regimes protecting our dissidents while the west protects theirs? Or will western countries remain true to their liberal traditions, and stop its alarming attempts to surveil, suppress, and persecute a growing number of its own citizens? On present trends, a dark and dystopian future seems to loom on the horizon.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on TwitterGab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to [email protected].

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Zuckerberg’s “War Face” Has Driven Key Executives Away, Stoked Tension With Sandberg

About a dozen senior or highly visible executives disclosed their resignations or left Facebook in 2018.

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Via Zerohedge


Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gathered around 50 of his key executives and told them that the company was at war – more specifically, under siege from lawmakers, investors and angry users over the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal and Russian influence on the platform.

Zuckerberg, according to the Wall Street Journal, told his top lieutenants during that June meeting that while executives can move more slowly and methodically on key decisions during “peacetime,” he would be acting more decisively going forward, said people familiar with the remarks.

The result? Tension which has boiled over to the point where several key executives have left the country – as well as friction between Zuckerberg and longtime COO, Sheryl Sandberg.

The 34-year-old CEO believes Facebook didn’t move quickly enough at key moments this year and increasingly is pressing senior executives to “make progress faster” on resolving problems such as slowing user growth and securing the platform, said people familiar with the matter. Mr. Zuckerberg also at times has expressed frustration at how the company managed the waves of criticism it faced this year.

On Friday, that tension was on display when, during a question-and-answer session with employees at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., he blasted a fresh round of critical news coverage as “bullshit,” according to the people familiar with the remarks. –WSJ

One Facebook employee at the Friday session asked if the company could mitigate leaks by publishing internal reports on how frequently offenders are found and fired. While Zuckerberg said that Facebook does fire leakers, the root cause is “bad morale” thanks to negative press coverage.

And while the WSJ notes Zuckerberg has taken on ambitious annual goals, such as learning Mandarin and reading 25 books, this year his biggest challenge is fixing Facebook through his tougher management style, according to a person familiar with his thinking (so says the WSJ). Perhaps the Facebook CEO hired a drill sergeant to coach him on bringing out his inner-Alpha?

According to the Journal, Zuckerberg and Sandberg have had confrontations over his new management style, after she had long been afforded considerable autonomy over the company’s teams which handle communications and policy.

This spring, Mr. Zuckerberg told Ms. Sandberg, 49, that he blamed her and her teams for the public fallout over Cambridge Analytica, the research firm that inappropriately accessed private data on Facebook users and used it for political research, according to people familiar with the exchange.

Ms. Sandberg later confided in friends that the exchange rattled her, and she wondered if she should be worried about her job.

Mr. Zuckerberg also has told Ms. Sandberg she should have been more aggressive in allocating resources to review troublesome content on the site, said one person familiar with the matter, a problem that the company still struggles to fix. –WSJ

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg seems to be pleased of late with internal improvements, telling reporters last week that Sandberg is a “very important partner to me, and continues to be, and will continue to be.”

Privately, Zuckerberg has told executives that some of the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal was just “hysteria,” to which Facebook simply didn’t mount an effective response.

Clash of the tech titans

Zuckerberg famously has butted heads with the co-founders of photo-sharing app Instagram, over his desire to share user location data on the main Facebook platform in order to help better target ads. The now-resigned Instagram founders strongly opposed the idea, and abruptly left the company in September.

The founders of WhatsApp similarly bailed on Facebook after disagreements over how to best extract revenue from the messaging service, according to people familiar with the matter.

And most recently, was the departure of Oculus VR co-founder Brendan Iribe, who was forced out by Zuckerberg in part due to a disagreement over the future of the virtual-reality handset, the people said. The decision to leave was reportedly “mutual.”

All told, about a dozen senior or highly visible executives disclosed their resignations or left Facebook in 2018. In May, Facebook announced a major reshuffling of top product executives in a way that helped free up Mr. Zuckerberg to oversee a broader portfolio within the company.

This turmoil at the top of Facebook has made it difficult for the company to execute on some product decisions and shore up employee morale, which has been sinking over the last year along with the stock price, which has fallen 36% since its peak. Many employees are frustrated by the bad press and constant reorganizations, including of the security team, which can disrupt their work, according to current and former employees. –WSJ

Doing whatever it takes

Facebook has come under fire recently – most notably after a New York Times report that the company used GOP operatives to smear the company’s detractors and promote negative news about competitors Google and Apple.

When the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal broke – the resultant rebukes from Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google executives sent Zuckerberg ballistic. The Facebook CEO “later ordered his management team to use only Android phones —arguing that the operating system had far more users than Apple’s,” according to the Times.

Facebook then went on the offensive against the fellow tech giants.

On the advice of Joel Kaplan – a well-connected Republican friend, Bush administration official, and former Harvard classmate of Sandberg, Facebook began to go after Google and Apple.

Mr. Kaplan prevailed on Ms. Sandberg to promote Kevin Martin, a former Federal Communications Commission chairman and fellow Bush administration veteran, to lead the company’s American lobbying efforts. Facebook also expanded its work with Definers.

On a conservative news site called the NTK Network, dozens of articles blasted Google and Apple for unsavory business practices. One story called Mr. Cook hypocritical for chiding Facebook over privacy, noting that Apple also collects reams of data from users. Another played down the impact of the Russians’ use of Facebook.

The rash of news coverage was no accident: NTK is an affiliate of Definers, sharing offices and staff with the public relations firm in Arlington, Va. Many NTK Network stories are written by staff members at Definers or America Rising, the company’s political opposition-research arm, to attack their clients’ enemies. –NYT

Facebook has responded, initially saying they didn’t put out “fake news” against their competitors, and they had no idea what their marketing department was doing. On Friday, however, Sandberg said she took full responsibility for the actions of the communications team.

Facebook has tried to move forward following its various scandals; spearheading efforts to reign in data harvesting, and looking for someone to oversee its corporate, external and legal affairs.

Hopefully whoever is ultimately in charge of oversight won’t be scared away by Zuckerberg’s war face.

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