When I asked Ben Bernanke whether or not gold was money, he took a long pause and answered with an explicit “NO.” I followed up by asking him why central banks hold gold if it’s not money. Again, after a pause, he simply answered: “It was tradition.”
The truth is that neither he nor I can dictate whether gold, or any other item, is money. It’s the market that has made this decision for thousands of years. I can’t make gold be money and Bernanke, even with all his central banking friends, can’t prevent gold from being money.
Tradition does play a role, and so far tradition says that gold is money. This is despite central bankers and advocates of tyrannical government constantly claiming otherwise. Sometimes, when out of positions of power, central bankers are willing to state the truth. For example, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said in Nov. 2014: “Remember what we're looking at. Gold is a currency. It is still, by all evidence, a premier currency. No fiat currency, including the dollar, can match it.”
Individuals throughout human history have required that money be a tangible substance to convey confidence. Many times the power elites have connived to make paper a fiat money, thus allowing big government spenders to avoid any restraint on their spending desires to support a welfare/warfare state.
The orthodoxy of Keynesian planning promotes inflation in order to monetize government debt while conditioning the people to accept the system with false promises of an economic safety net and perfect security. The allure of these promises of prosperity and safety is more than the innocent can resist.
But the piper always gets paid. Wealth can be transferred from middle class victims to the elites, but even that comes to an end. The built in errors and debt inherent in a fiat monetary system always becomes unmanageable. Eventually more debt, more government spending, and more Federal Reserve monetary creation fail to help. When confidence is lost in the silly notion that wealth can be created out of thin air, without work and effort, the entire system collapses. The initial stage of that event is readily apparent.
When it’s fully recognized to everyone that a gigantic structural change will be needed, the stage becomes set for real monetary reform. The people have to realize that the Fed’s pieces of paper cannot be a substitute for gold.
Governments, bankers, industrialists, beneficiaries of the military industrial complex, and welfare recipients will never recant in their belief in fiat money. The source of their wealth and power depends on eliminating market forces that restrain their profligate ways. Taxes, inflation, and beneficial regulations are the tools used to impoverish the middle class in order to enrich themselves.
The attack on gold is incessant. The economic elites support the system and the politicians and the media never let up on the “horrors” of a system that is restrained by sound money.
More and more articles are now appearing that ridicule gold, and you can be sure that there are a lot more to come. This indicates that the anti-gold people are worried that the current paper system is in deep trouble.
Just recently The Huffington Post editorialized and ridiculed gold as money. It makes you wonder though. If gold was really not a threat to the fiat money system, as they claim, couldn’t they just ignore the subject altogether? Instead they spew out the vitriol attacking the supporters of the gold standard. HuffPo says: “Today, gold standard adherents consist mainly of cranks, crackpots, and devotees of the Austrian school of economics. And the years since the financial crash have devastated the intellectual underpinnings of the Austrian school.”
Don’t they only wish!
Exactly the opposite has occurred since the crisis. An explosion of interest in this school of thought has occurred along with a much closer scrutiny of the Federal Reserve. In fact, 80% of the American people now support the idea that the Federal Reserve ought to be audited along with a close scrutiny of the financial sector and their relationship with it.
Just wait and see what happens as the current fragile world economic system in the dollar reserve standard collapses. That is exactly what the world money managers fear. It keeps them awake at night.
They argue that it’s a waste of time and money to hedge against the fiat monetary system and argue for conventional investments in stocks and bonds. The record shows that even with gold at $1,100 per ounce, it has far outperformed the stock market over the past 15 years. Here is a chart of the price of gold since the Fed’s stock market bubble burst in 2000:
Gold increased from a price of $251.70 in August 1999 to the most recent price range of $1,100 in December of 2015. That’s a 340% increase!
Let’s compare that with the Dow Jones and Nasdaq. Here are those two charts for the same time period:
The Dow has increased a 48% (and that’s without calculating the loss of purchasing power through the Fed’s inflation). The Nasdaq has gone nowhere, over the same 15 year period.
So gold is up 340%, the Dow is up 48%, and the Nasdaq is even over 15 years. Is it any wonder that the establishment is skittish about the strong interest in gold?
Gold is real money and over time serves best to preserve wealth. Since the total elimination of the gold standard with the breakdown of Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971 there have been two huge movements in the dollar price of gold. From 1971 to 1980, gold went from $35 an ounce to $850 an ounce -- up 24 fold. From 1999 to 2011, the gold price went from $251 per ounce to $1800 --- increasing 7 fold. This represents two separate decades in recent history of strong movements in the gold price. As one would (and should) expect, retrenchments from these rapid gains to lower levels occurs.
Back in 1971, when the link of the dollar to gold at $35 an ounce was severed, anti-gold people claimed that if the fixed ratio was ever discontinued it would drive the price of gold down to $5 dollars an ounce. All such talks did nothing to prevent gold going to $850 an ounce within a decade. Boy, were they wrong!
Likewise in 1999 it seemed that no one wanted gold and the manipulators drove the price down to $251 per ounce. Little could they see that the next decade gold would soar to $1800. Overshooting in that type of market is not unusual and now we have gold back to $1100.
Once again, the anti-gold dreamers are declaring that gold is dead, that it’s a terrible investment, and the people interested in it are “cranks and crackpots”.
The handwriting is on the wall and the next explosion in the dollar price of gold is fast approaching. Conditions are set. The world economy is fragile and will soon implode. Furthermore, geopolitical conditions are precarious and could get out of control at any moment in numerous hotspots around the world.
Trends are predictable; timing is not. No one can claim they know the precise onset of these events. It could occur in a week, a month, or in a year. But it’s a safe bet to say that it’s not years into the future that we see an explosion in price of gold again.
The event will at a minimum see a sharp depreciation of the dollar to gold. Compared to the last two episodes of gold prices rising sharply, the most conservative estimate would be for gold to triple in price to greater than $3000 per ounce.
That’s not the most likely scenario in my opinion. If the process lasted for a decade, as it has on the other two occasions since the breakdown of Bretton Woods agreement, gold is much more likely to exceed a greater than fivefold increase to over $5000 per ounce. The bigger question then is whether or not the dollar standard collapses and all markets are roiled. Under such conditions, all bets are off on seeing a modest decade of adjustments in the dollar gold ratio as occurred in the 1970’s and in the first decade of this century.
If the “big event” arrives during the run-up of gold, and serious political and economic events occur, then gold could soar to unbelievable heights. If gold responds in a similar manner as in the 1970’s, starting at $1100, it could actually go up to $26,000. That’s not likely to happen. The need for true monetary reform would require revamping the entire system before then.
By the end of 2016, I suspect the haters of honest money, those “heroes” of authoritarian government” will be humbled. The goal then will be surviving the systematic attack on liberty. The ever expanding dictatorial powers of our government will be our biggest concern as poverty and martial law come to us as a consequence of too many Americans seeking safety and security. The willingness of people to sacrifice liberties, while believing in the promises made by the political elites, will be our biggest challenge.
By Jeff Deist
I’d like to speak today about what political correctness is, at least in its modern version, what it is not, and what we might do to fight against it.
To begin, we need to understand that political correctness is not about being nice. It’s not simply a social issue, or a subset of the culture wars.
It’s not about politeness, or inclusiveness, or good manners. It’s not about being respectful toward your fellow humans, and it’s not about being sensitive or caring or avoiding hurt feelings and unpleasant slurs.
But you’ve heard this argument, I’m sure. PC is about simple respect and inclusiveness, they tell us. As though we need progressives, the cultural enforcers, to help us understand that we shouldn’t call someone retarded, or use the “N” word, make hurtful comments about someone’s appearance, or tolerate bullies.
If PC truly was about kindness and respect, it wouldn’t need to be imposed on us. After all, we already have a mechanism for the social cohesion PC is said to represent: it’s called manners. And we already have specific individuals charged with insuring that good manners are instilled and upheld: they’re called parents.
Political Correctness Defined
But what exactly is PC? Let me take a stab at defining it: Political correctness is the conscious, designed manipulation of language intended to change the way people speak, write, think, feel, and act, in furtherance of an agenda.
PC is best understood as propaganda, which is how I suggest we approach it. But unlike propaganda, which historically has been used by governments to win favor for a particular campaign or effort, PC is all-encompassing. It seeks nothing less than to mold us into modern versions of Marx’s un-alienated society man, freed of all his bourgeois pretensions and humdrum social conventions.
Like all propaganda, PC fundamentally is a lie. It is about refusing to deal with the underlying nature of reality, in fact attempting to alter that reality by legislative and social fiat. A is no longer A.
To quote Hans-Hermann Hoppe:
[T]he masters … stipulate that aggression, invasion, murder and war are actually self-defense, whereas self-defense is aggression, invasion, murder and war. Freedom is coercion, and coercion is freedom. … Taxes are voluntary payments, and voluntarily paid prices are exploitative taxes. In a PC world, metaphysics is diverted and rerouted. Truth becomes malleable, to serve a bigger purpose determined by our superiors.
But where did all this come from? Surely PC, in all its various forms, is nothing new under the sun. I think we can safely assume that feudal chiefs, kings, emperors, and politicians have ever and always attempted to control the various forms, is nothing new under the sun. I think we can safely assume that feudal chiefs, kings, emperors, and politicians have ever and always attempted to control the language, thoughts, and thus the actions of their subjects. Thought police have always existed.
To understand the origins of political correctness, we might look to the aforementioned Marx, and later the Frankfurt school. We might consider the work of Leo Strauss for its impact on the war-hungry think tank world. We might study the deceptive sloganeering of Saul Alinsky. We might mention the French philosopher Foucault, who used the term “political correctness” in the 1960s as a criticism of unscientific dogma.
But if you really want to understand the black art of PC propaganda, let me suggest reading one of its foremost practitioners, Edward Bernays.
Bernays was a remarkable man, someone who literally wrote the book on propaganda and its softer guise of public relations. He is little discussed in the West today, despite being the godfather of modern spin.
He was the nephew of Sigmund Freud, and like Mises was born in Austria in the late nineteenth century. Unlike Mises, however, he fortuitously came to New York City as an infant and then proceeded to live an astonishing 103 years.
One of his first jobs was as a press agent for President Woodrow Wilson’s Committee on Public Information, an agency designed to gin up popular support for US entry into WW1 (German Americans and Irish Americans especially were opposed). It was Bernays who coined the infamous phrase “Make the World Safe for Democracy” used by the committee.
After the war, he asked himself whether one could “apply a similar technique to the problems of peace.” And by “problems,” Bernays meant selling stuff. He directed very successful campaigns promoting Ivory Soap, for bacon and eggs as a healthy breakfast, and ballet. He directed several very successful advertising campaigns, most notably for Lucky Strike in its efforts to make smoking socially acceptable for women.
The Role of “Herd Psychology”
Bernays was quite open and even proud of engaging in the “manufacturing of consent,” a term used by British surgeon and psychologist Wilfred Trotter in his seminal Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War published in 1919.
Bernays took the concept of herd psychology to heart. The herd instinct entails the deep seated psychological need to win approval of one’s social group. The herd overwhelms any other influence; as social humans, our need to fit in is paramount.
But however ingrained, in Bernays’s view the herd instinct cannot be trusted. The herd is irrational and dangerous, and must be steered by wiser men in a thousand imperceptible ways — and this is key. They must not know they are being steered.
The techniques Bernays employed are still very much being used to shape political correctness today.
First, he understood how all-powerful the herd mind and herd instinct really is. We are not the special snowflakes we imagine, according to Bernays. Instead we are timorous and malleable creatures who desperately want to fit in and win acceptance of the group.
Second, he understood the critical importance of using third party authorities to promote causes or products. Celebrities, athletes, models, politicians, and wealthy elites are the people from whom the herd takes its cues, whether they’re endorsing transgender awareness or selling luxury cars. So when George Clooney or Kim Kardashian endorses Hillary Clinton, it resonates with the herd.
Third, he understood the role that emotions play in our tastes and preferences. It’s not a particular candidate or cigarette or a watch or a handbag we really want, it’s the emotional component of the ad that affects us, however subconsciously.
What We Can Do About It
So the question we might ask ourselves is this: how do we fight back against PC? What can we do, as individuals with finite amounts of time and resources, with serious obligations to our families, loved ones, and careers, to reverse the growing tide of darkness?
First, we must understand that we’re in a fight. PC represents a war for our very hearts, minds, and souls. The other side understands this, and so should you. The fight is taking place on multiple fronts: the state-linguistic complex operates not only within government, but also academia, media, the business world, churches and synagogues, nonprofits, and NGOs. So understand the forces aligned against you.
Understand that the PC enforcers are not asking you, they’re not debating you, and they don’t care about your vote. They don’t care whether they can win at the ballot box, or whether they use extralegal means. There are millions of progressives in the US who absolutely would criminalize speech that does not comport with their sense of social justice.
One poll suggests 51 percent of Democrats and 1/3 of all Americans would do just that.
The other side is fighting deliberately and tactically. So realize you’re in a fight, and fight back. Culturally, this really is a matter of life and death.
We Still Have Freedom to Act
As bad as PC contamination may be at this point, we are not like Mises, fleeing a few days ahead of the Nazis. We have tremendous resources at our disposal in a digital age. We can still communicate globally and create communities of outspoken, anti-PC voices. We can still read and share anti-state books and articles. We can still read real history and the great un-PC literary classics. We can still homeschool our kids. We can still hold events like this one today.
This is not to say that bucking PC can’t hurt you: the possible loss of one’s job, reputation, friends, and even family is very serious. But defeatism is never called for, and it makes us unworthy of our ancestors.
Use humor to ridicule PC. PC is absurd, and most people sense it. And its practitioners suffer from a comical lack of self-awareness and irony. Use every tool at your disposal to mock, ridicule, and expose PC for what it is.
Never forget that society can change very rapidly in the wake of certain precipitating events. We certainly all hope that no great calamity strikes America, in the form of an economic collapse, a currency collapse, an inability to provide entitlements and welfare, energy shortages, food and water shortages, natural disasters, or civil unrest. But we can’t discount the possibility of these things happening.
And if they do, I suggest that PC language and PC thinking will be the first ornament of the state to go. Only rich, modern, societies can afford the luxury of a mindset that does not comport with reality, and that mindset will be swiftly swept aside as the “rich” part of America frays.
Men and women might start to rediscover that they need and complement each other if the welfare state breaks down. Endless hours spent on social media might give way to rebuilding social connections that really matter when the chips are down.
More traditional family structures might suddenly seem less oppressive in the face of great economic uncertainty. Schools and universities might rediscover the value of teaching practical skills, instead of whitewashed history and grievance studies. One’s sexual preferences might not loom as large in the scheme of things, certainly not as a source of rights. The rule of law might become something more than an abstraction to be discarded in order to further social justice and deny privilege.
Play the Long Game
I’m afraid it might not be popular to say so, but we have to be prepared for a long and hard campaign. Let’s leave the empty promises of quick fixes to the politicians. Progressives play the long game masterfully. They’ve taken 100 years to ransack our institutions inch by inch. I’m not suggesting incrementalism to reclaim those foregone institutions, which are by all account too far gone — but to create our own.
PC enforcers seek to divide and atomize us, by class, race, sex, and sexuality. So let’s take them up on it. Let’s bypass the institutions controlled by them in favor of our own. Who says we can’t create our own schools, our own churches, our own media, our own literature, and our own civic and social organizations? Starting from scratch certainly is less daunting than fighting PC on its own turf.
PC is a virus that puts us — liberty loving people — on our heels. When we allow progressives to frame the debate and control the narrative, we lose power over our lives. If we don’t address what the state and its agents are doing to control us, we might honestly wonder how much longer organizations like the Mises Institute are going to be free to hold events like this one today.
Is it really that unimaginable that you might wake up one day and find sites with anti-state and anti-egalitarian content blocked — sites like mises.org and lewrockwell.com?
Or that social media outlets like Facebook might simply eliminate opinions not deemed acceptable in the new America?
In fact, head Facebook creep Mark Zuckerberg recently was overheard at a UN summit telling Angela Merkel that he would get to work on suppressing Facebook comments by Germans who have the audacity to object to the government’s handling of migrants.
Here’s the Facebook statement:
We are committed to working closely with the German government on this important issue. We think the best solutions to dealing with people who make racist and xenophobic comments can be found when service providers, government, and civil society all work together to address this common challenge.
Chilling, isn’t it? And coming soon to a server near you, unless we all get busy.
This article appears in the November–December 2015 issue of The Austrian.
By Chris Rossini
Donald Trump, as we all know, is the champ when it comes to talking about himself. It's "I"..."I"..."I"..."I" all the time.
Well, it appears Ben Carson is getting in on that action as well. Carson says:
"When I was appointed director of pediatric neurosurgery, pediatric neurosurgery at [Johns] Hopkins wasn’t on the map. By 2008, it was ranked number one by U.S. News & World Report. A weak person doesn’t do that. A weak person isn’t named one of 89 living legends by the Library of Congress on the occasion of its 200th anniversary. A weak person isn’t selected by CNN and Time magazine as one of the 20 foremost physicians and surgeons in America. That was before they discovered that I’m conservative. A weak person doesn’t have all of these honorary degrees. Most people of accomplishment have one, maybe two or three honorary degrees at most. It’s the highest award that a university gives out. I have 67. That’s probably not indicative of a weak person who doesn’t get things done."
None of this matters when it comes to respecting the ideas of liberty and peace. Would Carson follow the U.S. Constitution or not? It's pretty simple. Unfortunately, for a good 200+ years of American history, the answer from every president has been "no".
Politicians, of course, are not interested in liberty, but in their imagined authority. They seek power to live out their delusions of grandeur. But the truth has not changed. No one can micromanage an economy. It doesn't matter how many billions he's made. No one can rule the world with a military empire, no matter how many honorary degrees he has.
Politicians, if they really wanted to move humanity forward, would make frequent use of the word "You" instead of "I".
They would say to Americans: You were born free. You are the sole owner of your mind and body. You may choose whatever path makes you happy, so long as you respect the life and property of your neighbor. You have a right to keep the fruits of your labors. You have a right to defend yourself from aggression.
They would also cover the other side of the ledger: You have no right to aggress against your neighbor. You have no right to your neighbor's property. Your neighbor, like you, was also born free.
No delusions of grandeur. No fairy tales of "running the economy" or "bringing freedom to the world" with tanks and fighter jets.
A society based on the ideas of liberty would have little concern for the accolades of politicians. In fact, people would have very little concern for politicians at all. That's how early American society operated (for the most part). Presidents were not the Caesars that they are today. In fact, until the fateful year of 1913, the average American had very little interaction with the federal government at all.
A rebirth for the ideas of liberty are definitely in order.
If you subsidize something, you get more of it. Including debt and "free" money. Including the military-industrial complex. Including illegal immigration. And so on. Government subsidies are the prime tools of the central planners.
Ron Paul throws a life jacket into the ocean of American propaganda. Hillary sees an opportunity to tie terrorism to gun control. Also, has the U.S. really abandoned regime change in Syria? And finally, do we elect kings or servants? Don't miss this edition of Mythbusters!
By Ron Paul
Each year more than one trillion dollars goes up in smoke. More accurately, it is stolen from the middle and working classes and shipped off to the one percent. I am talking about the massive yearly bill to maintain the US empire. Washington’s warmongers have sold the lie that the military budget has been gutted under President Obama, but even when the “Sequester” was in effect military spending continued to increase. Only the pace of increase was reduced, not actual spending.
None of this trillion dollars taken from us is spent to keep us safe, despite what politicians say. In fact, this great rip-off actually makes us less safe and more vulnerable to a terrorist attack thanks to resentment overseas at our interventions and to the blowback it produces.
The money is spent to maintain existing conflicts and to create new areas of conflict overseas that in turn feeds the demands for more military spending. It is an endless cycle of theft and deceit.
Billions were spent not long ago overthrowing an elected government in Ukraine and provoking Russia. A new Cold War is a bonanza for the military industrial complex, the pro-war think tanks, and the politicians. NATO is on the move in eastern Europe, placing heavy weapons right on Russia’s border and then blaming the Russians when they complain about the rising militarism. NATO military exercises on Russia’s border have increased and become more confrontational.
In the Middle East, more billions have been spent attempting to overthrow the secular government of Syria over the past five years. The big winners in this grand scheme have been the Islamist extremists, who are funded directly and indirectly by the US and its allies. NATO is planning to go back into Libya, an admission that its 2011 “liberation” of that country has been a disaster.
In Asia, the US empire challenges and provokes China, sending military ships and aircraft into territory China claims in the South China Sea. How much will they continue to escalate before China gets fed up?
The more money sent to the Pentagon and other parts of the Washington war apparatus, the more danger we are in.
Meanwhile, almost all of the presidential candidates promise more military spending and more war if they are elected. Did no one tell them we are broke and making enemies fast with our interventions? Do they think Fed-created money will really continue to fuel the US empire indefinitely?
What are the prospects for a u-turn toward peace and prosperity in 2016? We must be realistic. Presently the numbers are not on our side. But the good news is we do not need a majority to succeed in our fight for peace and liberty. We need only a dedicated and uncompromising critical mass to make great headway.
What can we do to work for peace in 2016? First we must tune out the lying propaganda served up by the US mainstream media. We must educate ourselves so that we can help educate others. We can be sure to tune in and support alternative sources of news and analysis like the Ron Paul Liberty Report, LewRockwell.com, Antiwar.com, and many others. We can tell others about the wealth of truth available to those who seek and question. We must not compromise and never accept the lesser of two evils.
If the people demand peace, the politicians will follow. Let’s demand peace in 2016!
By Adam Dick
It may not be surprising that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) snooped on renowned singer-songwriter Pete Seeger for decades and even that the bureau’s file on Seeger runs to nearly 1,800 pages. After all, Seeger was a high-profile opponent of the Vietnam War, and war is the health of the state. But, Seeger was targeted by the FBI before his singing and songwriting gained widespread attention. About twenty-five years before Seeger sang “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” on the Smothers Brothers national television show in 1968, Seeger drew the attention of the FBI by writing a letter to the California chapter of the American Legion.
The year was 1942, and the 23-year-old Seeger, who had been drafted into the United States Army, wrote a short letter to the American Legion chapter expressing his opposition to the chapter’s vote supporting action, as Seeger put it, to “1) deport all Japanese after the war, citizen or not, 2) Bar all Japanese descendants from citizenship!!” Seeger characterized the vote as expressing “narrow jingoism” and noted that he “felt sick at heart to read of this matter.”
The American Legion chapter forwarded Seeger’s letter to the FBI, and the decades-long investigation and surveillance commenced. By 1943, a report sent to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, characterized Seeger as “potentially subversive” and "an idealist whose devotion to radical ideologies is such as to make his loyalty to the United States under all circumstances questionable.”
The investigation and surveillance continued with US government agents secretly reading Seeger’s mail, questioning friends and acquaintances of Seeger including fellow singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie, and even sending a military intelligence agent to search for school records at a grade school Seeger had attended. The FBI also asked the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to share with the FBI any information the CIA had related to Seeger. In 1961 Seeger was convicted and sentenced to a year of incarceration — a sentence later overturned while Seeger was free on bail — for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities regarding his political associations.
Read here David Corn’s detailed report on the Seeger file that Mother Jones obtained recently in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Notably, Corn relates that the US government withheld 90 pages of the file. While the government spared no expense in snooping into the most private of Seeger’s affairs, it acts vigorously to protect its own secrets.
This article was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute.
By Daniel McAdams
Never let a crisis go to waste. That is the motto of every government agency and every bureaucrat. Citing "heightened tensions over terrorism," the Transportation Safety Administration has unilaterally decided that fliers can no longer "opt-out" of the potentially cancer-causing and completely useless full body scanners in favor of a pat-down from a TSA agent. There was no debate in Congress. Not even an executive order. It was just a rule made by an unelected and unaccountable body, as one might expect in a dictatorship.
The TSA decision is a psychological defeat for liberty as well. Removing the option to "defy" the agency's demand that travelers submit to the scanners takes away that little bit of what America once was, the independent spirit of a free people. Now, head down, we must march through like cattle as our rude overlords bark out orders. It didn't have to be this way. Ron Paul saw this coming and introduced in several Congresses the American Traveler Dignity Act, which would have curtailed TSA powers and made TSA agents subject to the same assault laws as the rest of us. Here is a clip to remember while being corralled through the TSA cancer machines this Christmas season:
This article was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute.
Liberty Report Host Ron Paul gives a holiday message to the nearly two million people who have watched the Liberty Report this past ten months.
Last week John Kerry traveled to Moscow and after meeting with Russian foreign minister Lavrov and president Putin he appeared to shift US policy away from regime change in Syria. Shortly afterward, President Obama re-affirmed that regime change in Syria was the goal. What exactly is US policy toward Syria? Does Washington have a clue?