China: A New Philosophy of Economics

Global Research, November 16, 2018

China’s economic philosophy is a far cry from that of the west. 

The west consistently seeks to undermine the interests of their partners, be it for trade or political agreements; be it partners from the west, their smaller and weaker brothers; or from the east; or from the south – there is always an element of exploitation, of “one-upmanship”, of outdoing a partner, of domination. Equality and fairness are unknown by the west.

Or, when the concept was once known, at least by some countries and some people, it has been erased by indoctrinated neoliberal thinking – egocentricity, “me first”, and the sheer, all-permeating doctrine of “maximizing profits”; short-term thinking, instant gratification – or more extreme, making a killing today for a gamble or deal that takes place tomorrow. Futures trading – the epitome of manipulating economic values. Only in the capitalist world.

This has become a key feature of western commerce and trading. It’s manipulation and exploitation over ethics; it’s Profits Über Alles! – Doesn’t it sound like fascism? – Well it is. And if the partner doesn’t fall for the ruse, coercion becomes the name of the game – and if that doesn’t work the western military move in with bombs and tanks, seeking regime change – destroying the very country the west wants to dominate. That’s western brutal economics – full hegemony. No sharing.

China’s approach is quite different. It’s one of sharing, of participating, of mutual benefits. China invests trillions of dollars equivalent in developing countries – Asia, especially India and now also Pakistan, Africa, South America, largely for infrastructure projects, as well as mining of natural resources. Unlike the gains from western investments, the benefits of China’s investments are shared. China’s investment and mining concessions are not coerced, but fairly negotiated. China’s investment relationship with a partner country remains peaceful and is not ‘invasive’ and abusive, as are most of those of the west – which uses threats and guns to get what they want.

Of course, the west complains about Chinese investments, lying how abusive they are, when in reality the west is upset about Chinese competition in Africa and South America – Continents that are still considered part of the western domain, as they were colonized for about thousand years by western powers and empires – and as of today, African and Latin-American countries are neo-colonized, no longer (for now) with brute military force, but with even more ferocious financial strangulation, through sanctions, boycotts and embargos; all highly illegal by any international standards. But there aren’t any international laws that are upheld. International courts and judges are coerced to obey Washington’s dictates, or else… literally “or else”; and these are serious threats.

Take the case of West and Central Africa, former French colonies. The French West African zone includes eight countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo; and the French Central African area comprises six countries – Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. All 14 countries have a common currency, the CFA franc (CFA = Communauté financière africaine – African Financial Community). 

They are two separate currencies, though always at parity and therefore interchangeable. The Western and Central African monetary union have separate central banks, the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, BCEAO, headquartered in Dakar, Senegal; and the Banque des États de l’Afrique Centrale, BEAC, in Yaoundé, Cameroun. Both currencies are guaranteed by the French treasury. This means in fact, that the economy of these 14 countries not only depends on France, but setting the value of the currency (at present one € = 655 CFA francs) is entirely the prerogative of the Banque de France (French Central Bank). This ultra-complicated setup between the two groups of former and new French colonies is not only a matter of French accounting, but foremost a means to confuse and distract the mostly innocent observer from a flagrant abusive reality.

With the French control over the West- and Central African currencies, the foreign trading capacity of these countries is reduced to what France will allow. France has a de facto monopoly on these countries’ production. Should France stop buying their “former-new” colonies goods, the countries go broke, as they have been unable to develop alternative markets under the French yoke. Thus, they are always at the mercy of France, the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank. – From labor slaves up to the early 1960s, they have become debt slaves of the neoliberal age. 

In addition, to back this French Treasury guarantee, 85% of the countries’ foreign exchange reserves are blocked by the French Central Bank and may only be used by the respective counties against specific permission – and – as a loan. – Imagine! – The “former” French colonies have to borrow their own money from the French Central Bank. Similar debt enslaving is going on in former British and Portuguese colonies, though, none of them is as abjectly abusive as are the French. 

Big wonder that Chinese investors are highly welcome in Africa. And knowing western manipulating and deranged mindsets, no wonder that China is demonized by the west as exploiting Africa to the bones, when exactly the contrary is the case. But almighty western lie-propaganda media has the brainwashed western populace believe China is stealing African natural resources. Chinese fairness is indeed tough competition against the usual western trickery and deceit.

In Africa, China is not only focusing on buying and trading natural resources, but on training and using local African brainpower to convert Africa from a western slave into an equal partner. For example, to boost African autonomy, China is using an approach, Ghadaffy intended to apply – entering the wireless phone system, conquering some of the market with efficient batteries, and providing cheaper and more efficient services than the west, hence directly competing with the western exploited African telephone market. Chinese phones also come with their own browsers, so that internet may eventually be accessed in the remotest places of Africa, providing a top tool for education. Challenging the EU and US dominated multi-billion-dollar market, is just one of the reasons Ghadaffy was miserably murdered by French-led NATO forces. Of course, China’s presence is a bit more difficult to kick than was Ghadaffy’s. 

This is just one more signal that China is in Africa – and Asia and Latin America – not just for the legendary American Quick Buck, but for genuine investments in long-term economic development which involves developing transportation networks, efficient and independent financial systems which may escape the western SWIFT and FED / Wall Street banking system through which US sanctions are imposed. This may involve the creation of government controlled blockchain currencies – see also Venezuela’s hydrocarbon-backed Petro – and linking African currencies to the Yuan and the eastern SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) monetary system – freeing Africa from the dollar hegemony. With the help of China and Russia, Africa may, in fact, become the forerunner of crypto-currencies – and, in the case of west-and central Africa, the 14 countries would be able to gain financial autonomy, and to the chagrin of the French Central Bank, manage their own financial resources, breaking loose from under the little-talked about French yoke. It is quite conceivable that with Chinese development assistance Africa will become an important trading partner for the east, leaving western exploiting and abusing business and banking magnates behind in the dust.

The Overseas Private Investment Cooperation (OPIC), a US private lending as well as investment guarantee agency – is upset about US investors losing out to Chinese and wants US corporations to compete more aggressively – which is precisely what Africa rejects, America’s violent bombing approach to impose her trade and concession rules with the coercing help of the IMF and the World Bank. Africa is seeking – finally – sovereignty, deciding over her own financial and political destiny. This includes choosing investors and trading partners of their liking.

Many African and South American countries prefer China’s yuan-investments, rather than Washington’s US-dollar investments. Its ‘softer’ money coming from the Chinese. For China it’s also a way of diverting the world from the US-dollar, providing incentives for countries to divest their dollar reserves into yuan reserves. That’s is already happening at accelerating speed. 

China’s outlook at home and abroad is nothing less than spectacular. On the home front, they are building cutting-edge technology transport infrastructure, such as high-speed railways, for example, connecting Shanghai and Hangzhou, cutting travel time from one and a half hour in half. China’s high-speed bullet train connects for the first time Hong Kong with the mainland, cutting travel time Hong Kong to Beijing from 24 hours to 9 hours.

In October 2018, after nine years construction, President Xi Jinping opened the world’s longest sea crossing bridge, linking Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai. The bridge is 55 km long – about 20 times the length of San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge. In urban development, existing and new multi-million people cities are planned, expanded and stamped out of the ground in less than a generation.

China has just built a US$ 2.1 billion AI (Artificial Intelligence) industrial park, and is not sleeping either on the environmental protection and development front, investing billions in research and development of alternative clean energies, especially solar power and its storage potential, next generation beyond lithium batteries, ranging from lithium solid state to electrolyte materials to graphene batteries and eventually to copper foam substrate. And that’s not the end of the line. Each battery technology offers increased capacity, safety and charging and discharging speed.  

On the domestic and international front, the Belt and Road (B and R) Initiative – the New Silk Road – is China’s President Xi’s phenomenal geo-economic initiative to connect the world from China with several transport routes and develop in a first step Western China, Eastern Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe – all the way to the frontiers of western Europe. This massive economic development program includes industrial parks, trade and cultural interchanges, research and development through existing universities and new science and learning centers. Maritime routes are also foreseen entering Africa through Kenya and Southern Europe and the Middle East via the Greek port of Piraeus and Iran – a southern route is also planned to enter the southern cone of Latin America.  

The endeavor is so huge, it has recently been inscribed into the Chinese Constitution. It will mobilize in the coming decades and possibly century trillions of yuan and dollar-equivalent of investments, mostly from China, Russia, the other SCO countries, as well as European partners  – and foremost the Beijing-based AIIB (Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank) which has already 70 member countries, among them Australia, Canada, Western European nations and close to 20 prospective new countries; but not the United States of America.

This giant project, is of course, not without challenges. While the need for proof of “credit worthiness” by being tied to the IMF and World Bank of the eighties and nineties had since long faded into oblivion, China is still bound to the IMF and WB. – Why? – In my opinion it proves two things, The People’s Bank of China – the Chinese Central Bank – is still controlled by the FED and BIS (Bank for International Settlement, alias, central bank of all central banks), and a strong Fifth Column that doesn’t yield an inch of their power. The Chinese leadership could implement the necessary changes towards full financial sovereignty – but, why is that not happening? – Western threats and their secret services have become ever more sophisticated abduction and “neutralizing” machines over the past 70 years. 

The next question is what’s the Chinese lending limit to countries who have already or will subscribe to the Belt and Road Initiative to help them repay western debt and integrate into the new eastern economic model and monetary system? The question is relevant, because China’s money supply is based on China’s economic output; unlike western currencies which are purely fiat money (hot air). 

Also, how will ownership of foreign assets, i.e. infrastructure funded and perhaps built, dealt with? – Will they become Chinese property, increasing China’s capital base and flow of money? – Or would they be negotiated as long-term concessions, after which a country may repay to acquire sovereign ownership, or transfer part or all of the assets to China as a shareholder. These are relevant considerations, especially with regard to the huge B&R investments foreseen in the coming years. These decisions should be made autonomously by Chinese leadership, totally outside the influence of western monetary czars, like IMF and WB. 

Another issue which is steadily and increasingly cropping up in the west, of course to demonize China and discourage “western civilized” (sic) countries to associate themselves with socialist China – is China’s concept of “Social Credits”. It is largely based on what the west calls a dictatorial, freedom-robbing surveillance state – with cameras and face-recognition everywhere. Of course, totally ignoring the western own Orwellian Big Brother Surveillance and lie apparatus which calls itself democracy – and in fact is a democracy for then the elite of the plutocrats, gradually and by heavy propaganda brainwashing converting what’s left of ‘democracy’ into outright fascism – we, in the west, are almost there. And this, to the detriment of the “Silent Lambs” – as per Rainer Mausfeld’s latest book, in German, “Why are Lambs Silent” (German Westend-Verlag). Yes, that’s what we have become: “Silent Lambs”.

It is too easy to demonize China for attempting to create a more harmonious, cohesive and peaceful society. Granted, this surveillance in China as in the west, demolishes to a large extent individualism, individual thinking, thereby limiting human creativeness and freedom. This is a topic which the Chinese socialist government, independent of western critique, may have to address soon to keep precisely one of the key principles of Chinese society alive – ‘social cohesiveness’ and a sense of equality and freedom. 

What is the “Social Credit” system? – It is a digital footprint of everything the Chinese do, as private citizens, as corporate managers in production as well as banking, workers, food sellers, in order to basically create an ambiance of full transparency (that’s the goal – far from having been reached), so as to establish citizens’ and corporations’ “creditworthiness”, in financial terms, but also assessing crime elements, political inclinations, radicalism, to prevent potential terror acts (interestingly, in the case of most western terror acts, officials say the ‘terrorists’ were known to the police – which simply leaves you to conclude that they acted in connivance with the forces of order); and to enhance food safety in restaurants and by other food sellers. 

In other words, the aim is to establish corporate and individual “score cards” which will work as a rewards and punishment system, a “carrot and stick” approach. Depending on the crime or deviation from the rule, you may be reprimanded and get ‘debits’ – which you may wipe out by changing your behavior. Living under the spell of debits may limit, for example, your access to comfortable or speedy travel, better and speedier trains, air tickets, certain cultural events and more.

Yes, the idea of creating a stable domestic society has its drawbacks – surveillance – demolition of much of individualism, creativity, by implanting conformity. The government’s axiom is “we want a society where people don’t desire to break the rules, but the earliest stage is that they are afraid to break the rules.”  

In the end, the question is, will the “Social Credits” approach to societal living, meaning a total surveillance state with every data recorded into a network of total control, be beneficial or detrimental for the Chinese goal to push ahead with her extraordinary and mostly egalitarian economic development approach, transport and industrial infrastructure, scientific research and cultural exchange – called Belt and Road, alias the New Silk Road? – Only the future will tell; but the Chinese are not alone. They have solid partners in the SCO – and long-term economic development endeavors never work in linear values, but with the unknown of dynamics to which humans are uniquely adapted to adjust. 

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Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organizationaround the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from NEO

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“RIC”: BRICS after Bolsonaro

November 08, 2018

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

BRICS is the acronym of the “alliance” that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

In reality, and with all due respect to Brazil and South Africa, BRICS is about RIC.

With Russia, India and China, in any order, there lies the future of Eurasia; the virtually unchartered quarter that houses over one third of the entire world population; a huge chunk of landmass, rich in resources, not only human resources, and just waiting for the right moment to make its mark in history.

The so-called “Silk Road”, or in reality silk roads, was historically the network of caravan paths that ancient traders took on their journeys from east to west, linking worlds largely unknown to each other, long before Vasco da Gama’s highly documented trips.

And whilst the ancient cultures of India and China flourished in their own right, apart from Alexander’s conquest, the Muslim and subsequent Mongol conquests, there was little historic geopolitical interaction between that far Far East and the Middle East; let alone Europe. The long icy and hard terrain made it very difficult, even for the brave at heart, to take the journey from Beijing to Vienna. The temptations to make that trip did not match the hardship of the journey for the averagely motivated traveler.

But this is all about to change. The new “Silk Road”, the network of super highways that the “RIC” nations are intent to build is going to change this status quo and shorten land distances.

The Trans-Siberian railway is a Russian route and constructing it linked Vladivostok with Moscow, but it was not intended to link China with Europe. If anything, it helped bolster the isolation of the USSR. But the new “Silk Road” project will change the transportation map of the world upside down once and for ever.

The determination to build this massive road network does not need either Brazil or South Africa; again with all due respect to both nations.

By taking many considerations into account, we must be realistic and say that the electoral win of Brazilian candidate Bolsonaro will not affect the prospect of the “Silk Road” one way or the other. The repercussions of his election will affect Brazil more than any other country. Purportedly, his policies will affect global climate, but this is another issue. His fiscal and international policy making decisions may put Brazil under the American sphere of influence, and this unfortunately can and will affect Brazil very adversely, but the damage is likely to be restricted to Brazil only.

With or without Brazil, BRICS can survive, but for it to survive and make a difference, it will need to become more serious about conducting its business.

The first step towards becoming more proactive is best done by establishing proper trust and conciliation between the three major players; Russia, China and India.

The love-hate relationship that marred the Soviet-Maoist era took a while to heal. The Russians and the Chinese seem to have gone many steps ahead towards establishing trust and confidence in each other. But China and India continue to have serious problems, and for as long as they have border and sovereignty disputes, this hinders them from becoming effective partners in every way.

Furthermore, BRICS needs a preamble and a Statement of Purpose. At the moment, it doesn’t have one. With all of its hypocrisies, the Western alliance camouflages itself behind the veil of Christian values, democracy and the “free world” slogans. Thus far, the only undeclared statement of purpose for BRICS seems to be that of defiance to the Western alliance.

The BRICS alliance will face a struggle founding an attractive preamble. Orthodox Christian Russia, predominantly Hindu India and Communist/Taoist/Buddhist China have little in common religiously speaking. Perhaps the BRICS leaders should be using common political grounds instead. They certainly cannot use democracy; not only because such an adoption would make them look as copycats, but also because they have different ideas about democracy, and Russia and China definitely do not endorse Western-style democracy.

In reality however, BRICS can use abstract lofty principles as their preamble; principles such as morality, honesty, and if they want to be less “theological” as it were, they could use principles such as “International law”, “International equality” and the like.

Apart from accumulating gold, building bridges and super road networks, planning fiscal measures to cushion the effects of a possible collapse of the Western economy on their own economies, developing state-of-the-art hypersonic weaponry and giving a clear message announcing that the world is no longer unipolar, the BRICS alliance ought to make clear statements about what kind of alternative world it envisions.

This is very important, because a significant percentage of the world population does not know what to expect if the BRICS alliance becomes the new dominant financial and military power. They have special concerns about China because they don’t know much about China, and they worry not only about whether or not China will be a new colonial super power, but they also worry about one day waking up and seeing traffic signals in Mandarin; so to speak.

To many people across the globe, the Chinese culture, language and modus operandi look like something from another planet.

The Cyrillic Russian and the Devanagari Indian scripts are no less daunting than the Mandarin script, but many Indians and Russians speak English and the West has had much more cultural interaction with both Russia and India than it ever did with China.

Furthermore, for the BRICS alliance to become more viable, it will need to develop a military alliance akin to that of NATO. When and if such an alliance is forged, then members will be protected as any attack on one will be considered as an attack on the whole coalition. Such an alliance will not increase the chances of war. Quite the contrary in fact, as it can lead to much needed stability. If for argument sake North Korea were a member, it would not be in a situation where it can claim that it needs nuclear weapons for self-defense, and secondly, the West would not be threatening to attack for fear of a major global escalation. The Cold-War, costly and potentially disastrous as it was, presents a successful model of nuclear deterrence. And in retrospect, had Vietnam been a member of the Warsaw Pact (or a similar one that included the USSR), it is possible that America’s war on Vietnam would have been averted. A more realistically plausible scenario is the case of former Yugoslavia. Had the Warsaw Pact been still standing, NATO would have never attacked Serbia back in 1999.

To be able to afford a more effective military deterrent, be a viable stand-alone economic power and to be attractive to the rest of the world, the BRICS coalition will ultimately need more member nations. Ideally, it would be of huge significance if Japan could be convinced to join it. The inclusion of Japan will not only add a huge financial power to the group, but it will also generate an in-house regional security to the China Sea region. Baby steps have been recently made between China and Japan towards conciliation, and much more needs to be done. It will take a lot of work and good intentions on both sides to undo a long history of hostilities and distrust.

Other nations that can and arguably should enter the coalition are; Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and post Erdogan Turkey. Why post Erdogan? Because Erdogan’s Turkey can turn BRICS into a bag of TRICS.

Resource-rich Australia has much to gain in joining such an alliance as this will not only bolster its own security, but it will also secure economic stability and on-going trade.

Thus far, all the official visits that the RIC leaders have exchanged, all the business deals they made, all the projects they are embarking on, huge as they are, are only baby steps towards turning their alliance into one that can lead the world and establish the necessary moral, financial and security foundations that are capable of underpinning it.

Over and above establishing a new world reserve currency, setting up an alternative to the US-based Internet and WWW, SWIFT, etc, the brave new world will need hope, trust, morality and concrete assurances for a long-awaited change for the better. These are the real challenges facing the BRICS alliance now; not the Bolsonaro win.

Bombing Libya: The Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis

By William Blum,

The world will long remember the present immigrant crisis in Europe, which has negatively affected countless people there, and almost all countries. History will certainly record it as a major tragedy. Could it have been averted? Or kept within much more reasonable humane bounds?

After the United States and NATO began to bomb Libya in March 2011 – almost daily for more than six months! – to overthrow the government of Muammar Gaddafi (with the completely phoney excuse that Gaddafi was about to invade Benghazi, the Libyan center of his opponents, and so the United States and NATO were thus saving the people of that city from a massacre), the Libyan leader declared:

“Now listen you people of Nato. You’re bombing a wall, which stood in the way of African migration to Europe and in the way of al Qaeda terrorists. This wall was Libya. You’re breaking it. You’re idiots, and you will burn in Hell for thousands of migrants from Africa.”

Remember also that Libya was a secular society, like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, all destroyed by America while supporting Saudi Arabia and various factions of al Qaeda. It’s these countries that have principally overrun Europe with refugees.

Gaddafi, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do very valuable things. He, for example, founded the African Union and gave the Libyan people the highest standard of living in all of Africa; they had not only free education and health care but all kinds of other benefits that other Africans could only dream about. But Moammar Gaddafi was never a properly obedient client of Washington. Amongst other shortcomings, the man threatened to replace the US dollar with gold for payment of oil transactions and create a common African currency. He was, moreover, a strong supporter of the Palestinians and foe of Israel.

In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the prime moving force behind the United States and NATO turning Libya into a failed state, where it remains today. The attack against Libya was one that the New York Times said Clinton had “championed”, convincing President Obama in “what was arguably her moment of greatest influence as Secretary of State.”

The American people and the American media of course swallowed the phoney story fed to them, though no evidence of the alleged impending massacre has ever been presented. The nearest thing to an official US government account of the matter – a Congressional Research Service report on events in Libya for the period – makes no mention at all of the threatened massacre.   Keep this in mind when reading the latest accusations against Russia.

The US/NATO heavy bombing of Libya led also to the widespread dispersal throughout North African and Middle East hotspots of the gigantic arsenal of weaponry that Gaddafi had accumulated. Libya is now a haven for terrorists, from al Qaeda to ISIS, whereas Gaddafi had been a leading foe of terrorists.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War IIRogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power . His latest book is: America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com

The U.S: The Century of Lost Wars

Introduction

Despite having the biggest military budget in the world, five times larger than the next six countries, the largest number of military bases – over 180 – in the world and the most expensive military industrial complex, the US has failed to win a single war in the 21st century. In this paper we will enumerate the wars and proceed to analyze why, despite the powerful material basis for wars, it has led to failures.

The Lost Wars

The US has been engaged in multiple wars and coups since the beginning of the 21st century.  These include Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Venezuela and the Ukraine. Besides Washington’s secret intelligence agencies have financed five surrogate terrorist groups in Pakistan, China, Russia, Serbia and Nicaragua.  The US has invaded countries, declared victories and subsequently faced resistance and prolonged warfare which required a large US military presence to merely protect garrison outposts. The US has suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties – dead, maimed and deranged soldiers. The more the Pentagon spends, the greater the losses and subsequent retreats. The more numerous the vassal regimes, the greater the corruption and incompetence flourishes. Every regime subject to US tutelage has failed to accomplish the objectives designed by its US military advisers. The more spent on recruiting mercenary armies the greater the rate of defection and the transfer of arms to US adversaries.

Success in Starting Wars and Failures in Finishing Them

The US invaded Afghanistan, captured the capital (Kabul) defeated the standing army …and then spent the next two decades engaged in losing  irregular warfare.

The initial victories laid the groundwork for future defeats. Bombings drove millions of peasants and farmers, shopkeepers and artisans into the local militia. The invaders were defeated by the forces of nationalism and religion linked to families and communities.  The indigenous insurgents overcame arms and dollars in many of the villages, towns and provinces.

Similar outcomes were repeated in Iraq and Libya. The US invaded, defeated the standing armies, occupied the capital and imposed its clients—- which set the terrain for long-term, large-scale warfare by local insurgent armies. The more frequent the western bombings, the greater the opposition forcing the retreat of the proxy army.

Somalia has been bombed frequently. Special Forces have recruited, trained, and armed the  local puppet soldiers, sustained by mercenary African armies but they have remained holed up in the capital city, Mogadishu, surrounded and attacked by poorly armed but highly motivated and disciplined Islamic insurgents.

Syria is targeted by a US financed and armed mercenary army.  In the beginning they advanced, uprooted millions, destroyed cities and homes and seized territory.  All of which impressed their US – EU warlords.  Once the Syrian army united the populace, with their Russian, Lebanese (Hezbollah) and Iranian allies, Damascus routed the mercenaries. After the better part of a decade the separatist Kurds, alongside the Islamic terrorists and other western surrogates retreated, and made a last stand along the northern borders–the remaining bastions of  Western surrogates.

The Ukraine coup of 2014 was financed and directed by the US and EU. They seized the capital (Kiev) but failed to conquer the Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.  Corruption among the US ruling kleptocrats devastated the country – over three million fled abroad to Poland, Russia and elsewhere in search of a livelihood.  The war continues, the corrupt US clients are discredited and will suffer electoral defeat unless they rig the vote.

Surrogate uprisings in Venezuela and Nicaragua were bankrolled by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). They ruined economies but lost the street wars.

Conclusion

Wars are not won by arms alone.  In fact, heavy bombing and extended military occupations ensure prolonged popular resistance, ultimate retreats and defeats.  The US major and minor wars of the 21st century have failed to incorporate targeted countries into the empire.

Imperial occupations are not military victories.  They merely change the nature of the war, the protagonists of resistance, the scope and depth of the national struggle.

The US has been successful in defeating standing armies as was the case in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Ukraine.  However, the conquest was limited in time and space.  New armed resistance movements led by former officers, religious activists and grass roots activists took charge…

The imperial wars slaughtered millions, savaged traditional family, workplace and neighborhood relations and set in motion a new constellation of anti-imperialist leaders and militia fighters. The imperial forces beheaded established leaders and decimated their followers.  They raided and pillaged ancient treasures.  The resistance followed by recruiting thousands of uprooted volunteers who served as human bombs, challenging missiles and drones. The US imperial forces lack the ties to the occupied land and people. They are ‘aliens’ serving time; they seek to survive, secure promotions and exit with a bonus and an honorable discharge.  In contrast, the resistance fighters are there for the duration.  As they advance, they target and demolish the imperial surrogates and mercenaries.  They expose the corrupt client rulers who deny the subject people the elementary conditions of existence – employment, potable water, electricity etc.

The imperial vassals are not present at weddings, sacred holidays or funerals, unlike the resistance fighters.  The presence of the latter signals a pledge of loyalty unto death.  The resistance circulates freely in cities, towns and villages with the protection of the local people; and by night they rule   enemy terrain, under cover of their own people, who share intelligence and logistics. Inspiration, solidarity and light arms are more than a match for the drones, missiles and helicopter gunships.

Even the mercenary soldiers, trained by the Special Forces, defect from and betray their imperial masters.  Temporary imperial advances serve only to allow the resistance forces to regroup and counter-attack.  They view surrender as a betrayal of their traditional way of life, submission to the boot of western occupation forces and their corrupt officials.

Afghanistan is a prime example of an imperial ‘lost war’.  After two decades of warfare and one trillion dollars in military spending, tens of thousands of casualties, the Taliban controls most of the countryside and towns; enters and takes over provincial capitals and bombs Kabul.  They will take full control the day after the US departs.

The US military defeats are products of a fatal flaw:  imperial planners cannot successfully replace indigenous people with colonial rulers and their local look-alikes. Wars are not won by high tech weapons directed by absentee officials divorced from the people: they do not share their sense of peace and justice.

Exploited people informed by a spirit of communal resistance and self-sacrifice have demonstrated greater cohesion then rotating soldiers eager to return home and  mercenary soldiers with dollar signs in their eyes.

The lessons of lost wars have not been learned by those who preach the power of the military–industrial complex, which makes, sells and profits from weapons but lack the mass of humanity with lesser arms but with great conviction who have demonstrated their capacity to defeat imperial armies.

The Stars and Stripes fly in Washington but remain folded in Embassy offices in Kabul, Tripoli, Damascus and in other lost battlegrounds.

Prof. James Petras
Source

It’s Africa’s choice: AFRICOM or the New Silk Roads

September 04, 2018

It’s Africa’s choice: AFRICOM or the New Silk Roads

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

When China calls, all Africa answers. And Beijing’s non-politicization of investments and non-interference in internal affairs is paying off big time

The dogs of war – cold, hot, trade, tariffs – bark while the Chinese caravan plies the New Silk Roads. Call it a leitmotif of the young 21st century.

At the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, President Xi Jinping has just announced a hefty US$60 billion package to complement another US$60 billion pledged at the 2015 summit.

That breaks down to $15 billion in grants and interest-free loans; $20 billion in credit lines; a $10 billion fund for development financing; $5 billion to finance imports from Africa; and waving the debt of the poorest African nations diplomatically linked to China.

When China calls, all Africa answers. First, we had ministers from 53 African nations plus the African Union (AU) Commission approving the Beijing Declaration and the FOCAC Action Plan (2019-21).

Then, after the $60 billion announcement, we had Beijing signing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with nine African nations – including South Africa and Egypt – related to the New Silk Roads/Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Additionally, other 20 African nations are discussing further cooperation agreements.

Debt trap or integration?

That does not exactly paint the picture of the BRI as a vicious debt trap enabling China to take over Africa’s top strategic assets. On the contrary, the BRI is seen as integrating with Africa’s own Agenda 2063, a “strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years” tackling unemployment, inequality and poverty.

Apart from letting the numbers speak for themselves, Xi deftly counter-punched the current, massive BRI demonization campaign: “Only the people of China and Africa have the right to comment on whether China-Africa cooperation is doing well … No one should deny the significant achievement of China-Africa cooperation based on their assumptions and speculation.”

And once again Xi felt the need to stress the factor that does seduce, Africa-wide – Chinese non-politicization of investments, and Chinese non-interference in the internal affairs of African nations.

This comes right after Xi’s speech celebrating the five years of BRI, on Aug. 27, when he stressed Beijing’s organizing foreign policy concept for the foreseeable future has nothing to do with a “China club.”

What that reveals, in fact, is a Deng Xiaoping-style “crossing the river while feeling the stones” fine-tuning, bent on correcting mistakes in what is still the BRI’s planning stages, and including the approval of a mechanism of dispute resolution for myriad projects.

African leaders seem to be on board. For South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the FOCAC “refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe.” AU chairman Paul Kagame, also the president of Rwanda, emphasized a stronger Africa was an opportunity for investment, “rather than a problem or a threat.”

A ‘non-enduring contingency location’?

According to the China Chamber of International Commerce, over 3,300 Chinese companies have invested Africa-wide in telecommunications, transportation, power generation, industrial parks, water supply, rental business for construction machinery, retail, schools, hotels and hospitals.

China is, in fact, upgrading its investments in Africa beyond infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and energy and mineral imports. China is Africa’s top trading partner since 2009; trade expanded 14% in 2017, reaching $170 billion.

In November, Shanghai will host the first China International Import Expo – jointly managed by the Ministry of Commerce and the Shanghai municipal government, a convenient stage for African nations to promote their proverbial “market potential.”

Xi depicted as a new and ruthless Mao? China mired in abysmal corruption? China’s massive internal debt about to explode like a volcano from hell? None of this seems to stick Africa-wide. What does impress is that in three decades, a one-party system managed to multiply China’s GDP per capita by a factor of 17. From a Global South point of view, the lesson is “they must be doing something right.”

The ultra-sensitive military front

In parallel, there’s no evidence Africa will cease to be a key BRI node for investment; a market with an expanding middle class receptive to Chinese imports; and most of all, strategic reasons.

And then there’s the ultra-sensitive military front.

China’s first overseas military base was inaugurated on Aug. 1, 2017 – on the exact 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The official Beijing spin is that Djibouti is a base for peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, and to fight pirates based on the Yemeni and Somali coastlines.

But it goes way beyond that. Djibouti is a geostrategic dream; on the northwest Indian Ocean and at the southern path to the Red Sea, en route to the Suez Canal and with access to the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Gulf and most of all the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. This prime economic connectivity translates into transit control of 20% of all global exports and 10% of total annual oil exports.

Not accidentally, Djibouti’s top capital source is China. Chinese companies fund nearly 40% of Djibouti’s top investment projects. That includes the $490 million Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, whose strategic importance far exceeds elephants, zebras and antelopes “roaming freely alongside a railway.”

Djibouti’s aim, as expressed by President Ismail Omar Guelleh – who visited Xi in Beijing last November – is to position itself as the number one connectivity/transshipment node for all of Africa.

Now compare it with the Pentagon’s AFRICOM agenda – as in an array of Special Ops deploying nearly 100 secret missions across 20 African nations at any given time.

As Nick Turse extensively documented in his must-read book Tomorrow’s Battlefield, there are at least 50 US military bases Africa-wide – ranging from what AFRICOM designates as “forward operating sites” to fuzzy “cooperative security locations” or “non-enduring contingency locations.” Not to mention 36 AFRICOM bases in 24 African nations that have not previously made it to official reports.

What this spells out, once again, is further evidence of the ever-replicating Empire of Bases. And that brings us to Africa’s stark “contingency location” choice. In the ultra-high-stakes development game, who’re you gonna call? FOCAC and the New Silk Roads, or Ghostbusters AFRICOM?

ISRAEL’S ASYLUM SEEKERS

February 24, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Eve Mykytyn

Take $3,500 and a one-way ticket to an ‘unnamed’ African country (Rwanda or Uganda) by April 1, or face indefinite imprisonment. This is what Israel told the 40,000 African migrants who have been stuck in limbo in Israel for years. According to the Israeli governmentroughly 20,000 Africans have already been expelled.

On February 21, following the imprisonment of seven Eritreans who refused to leave Israel, 750 African asylum seekers detained at the  Holot detention center began a hunger strike reportedly refusing both food and water.

It seems that Israel has come face to face with one consequence of trying to be a ‘nation like all others’: having to cope with the difficulties of refugees who want the protection of your state without necessarily subscribing to your values.

Israel calls itself the Jewish state (as opposed to a state of its citizens), and actively seeks Jewish immigrants. This has given religious identity  a huge role in Israel, although Israel  is largely secular. Israel has not yet become a ‘nation like all others’  in its treatment of non Jews.  Its 20% Palestinian minority are second-class citizens.*

The African asylum seekers and its Palestinian citizens are not the only non Jewish residents of Israel has who have the potential of conflicting with Israel’s policy of being the Jewish state. Like many wealthy countries, Israel has chosen to import labor for the lower rungs of the pay scale. After the 1967 war, Palestinians crossed into Israel to work in construction and agriculture. Then following the first intifada in 1987, Israel banned most Palestinians  from entering and decided instead to import labor from developing countries. By 2002, there were 226,000 migrant workers living in Israel. Such workers; Thais on farms, Chinese in construction, African street labor and Filipino caregivers are sometimes described as ‘transparents,’  communities invisible to most Israelis. These laborers were never intended to and largely have not been given permanent refuge in Israel.

To keep the migrant population from ‘taking root,’ as Israel’s Interior Ministry puts it, the ministry has devised a byzantine system of barriers. Work permits for foreign caregivers are valid for only five years and three months, and are meant to ensure their presence is transitory. They face additional restrictions on the locations in which they can work, their ability to marry,  to ‘visit’ Israel with family members and in job mobility.

Nonetheless, Israel’s right wing parties see migrant workers as  a direct threat to the country’s Jewish makeup. In 2008, the government moved to deport 1,200 children of undocumented foreign workers. After a public outcry the Israeli government granted amnesty to 800 children of migrant workers who met certain strict criteria.  Other than this trivial number of new permanent residents, Israel has been successful in importing cheap  labor without adding to its non Jewish citizenry.

Israel has taken in a number of Jews from relatively poor backgrounds, particularly Ethiopian Jews.  While these immigrants may present more problems of integration then European or North American Jews, as Jews they fit Israel’s goal of remaining a primarily Jewish state.

In the 1990s over a  million citizens of the former Soviet Union claimed Jewish ancestry and migrated to Israel . They and their progeny now constitute around 15% of Israel’s population of 7.7 million. Many of these immigrants are not Jewish. Anyone from the former Soviet Union who had a Jewish father or grandparent, or who was married to someone meeting those criteria, was granted Israeli citizenship under the country’s liberalized law of return.

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics around 30% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s were not Jews or not considered Jewish under Orthodox law  (which treats Judaism as either inherited from the mother or obtained through conversion). In 2005 over 59% of former Soviet immigrants were not Jewish.  Less than 5% of these nonJewish immigrants have converted.

The Russian immigrants initially encountered a scarcity of jobs and housing. They have now achieved near parity with other Israelis and have successfully gained political power. The former Soviets are an important part of Israel’s governing coalition and are relentlessly rightwing, reliably opposing concessions to the Palestinians, supporting settlement expansion and seeking to curb the rights of Israel’s Palestinian population.

Were the non Jewish ex Soviets accepted because they were right wing, because as Europeans they helped Israel to form a stronger bulwark against Palestinians or was it purely racism that allowed Israel to welcome these white skinned immigrants? Those decrying the rise of racism in Europe aroused by recent African immigration might consider adding Israel to their list of reprobates.

The African immigrants do not seem to serve a purpose for the Israelis, either as a political entity or in Israel’s goal of remaining  a Jewish dominated state. Most of the Africans crossed into Israel through the Sinai desert between 2006 and 2012, fleeing harsh political conditions in Eritrea or genocide and war in Sudan. Their stay in Israel has not been easy. Many migrants spent years in the Saharonim prison in the Negev desert and were subsequently transferred to Holot. Some have been briefly released from these facilities to travel to Tel Aviv, only to be sent back again when the Ministry of Interior refused to renew their visas.

Human-rights organizations claim that most or all such migrants have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home countries and are entitled to asylum. Applicants for asylum face a years-long delay due to ‘backlog’ and in any case of the more than 13,000 people who had applied for asylum as of last summer, only 10 have been granted refugee status. Israel recognizes far fewer people in “refugee-like situations” as refugees when compared to almost all Western countries.

The Israeli government has argued that these migrants are not fleeing persecution but are ‘economic’ refugees looking for work in Israel.  “In the last few days, a false campaign [has attempted] to harm the government’s efforts to remove infiltrators from Israel,” wrote Ayelet Shaked, the Israeli minister of justice. “The state of Israel is too small and has its own problems. It cannot be used as the employment office of the African continent.”

Despite protests from Israel’s left, opinion polls suggest that  70 percent of Israel’s Jewish population support Israel’s deportation policy. Possibly such broad support is the result of conditioning, native Israelis may simply see non-Jews within the state as a threat to their safety or to maintaining a Jewish majority. “It’s really hard for them to distinguish between the refugees and the Palestinians they were taught to be against,” said Rabbi Idit Lev, the social-justice director for Rabbis for Human Rights.

But Israel has not entirely behaved as if the migrants have no right to asylum. Although the government argues that the Eritrean and Sudanese migrants are not truly refugees, it has not sent them back to their country of origin as would be proper with economic immigrants. Doing so to refugees would violate international conventions around refugee rights.

The migrants do not want to be deported back to their own countries or to Rwanda. Although Israel pays the migrants to leave,  those who have arrived in Rwanda report that their documents and money were confiscated on arrival and they ended up on the streets.

UNHCR said in a recent report that only nine asylum seekers deported to Rwanda have actually stayed there. What has not been adequately documented is where the refugees have gone from there. The African migrants claim that returning to their country of origin will mean certain death.

Economic immigration presents tough issues to many countries. If Israel is unable to deport the remaining 40,000 African immigrants, it may find itself a little more a country like all others.

* (GA) This doesn’t include the millions of Palestinians who live in Israeli controlled territories, lack any political status and are subject to constant lethal abuse… 

 

Because Mr Trump… Your Country Caused These ‘Shitholes’

Because Mr Trump… Your Country Caused These ‘Shitholes’

Because Mr Trump… Your Country Caused These ‘Shitholes’

US President Trump’s outrageous remarks on various poor nations – calling them “shitholes” – not only reveal a heartless racist. Donald Trump also shows himself to be appallingly ignorant.

What does it say about our world when the leader of supposedly the most powerful military nation is a complete ignoramus about the most basic facts of history? Surely, this is an horrific danger to all of humanity from having someone so reckless and stupid with access to nuclear weapons.

The global indignation over Trump’s foul denigration continues to mount days after he uttered it. The African Union representing 55 nations has demanded an apology from the president. He is now trying to walk back his incendiary comments in a blatant attempt to lie, which is only fueling more anger.

What’s even more abhorrent is that the vast majority of the countries that Trump was referring to can trace their intractable problems of poverty and violence directly to US involvement in those countries. Yet, he crassly wonders why America has any obligation to shelter people fleeing from them.

During a meeting last Thursday with Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the White House to discuss US immigration policy, Trump reportedly became frustrated when the list of countries receiving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was read out to him.

Currently there are ten countries afforded TPS by official US immigration controls. Such status permits the entry of a certain quota of citizens.

They are: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen and Syria.

Trump reportedly blurted out: “What do we want Haitians here for? Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why are we having all these people from shithole countries coming here?”

He then capped his racist, exploitative view of the world by adding: “We should have more people from places like Norway.”

So, in Trump’s shallow, utilitarian worldview, as long as you are blond, blue-eyed, educated and from a wealthy state then you are welcome in the US to be utilized for its economic growth.

Trump’s disgust with the listed immigrant countries shows his astounding cluelessness, or maybe callousness.

For the fact is that nine of the ten countries afforded TPS – 90 per cent – can attribute their immigration tendency to the legacy of destructive US policies bearing down on those countries.

Only one of them, Nepal, has a humanitarian crisis unrelated directly to American foreign policy, resulting from a natural cause – the earthquake that hit the Himalayan South Asian nation in April 2015.

Let’s quickly review the 90 per cent.

El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua have all been left with a legacy of US-backed wars over several decades. During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, the US flooded the Central American region with weapons and American-trained death squads to hunt down leftwing guerrillas, politicians, labour activists, peasants, land rights activists, and priests – anyone who was deemed to threaten the traditional US-backed power structure of Caudillo regimes subordinate to American corporations and capital.

It is estimated that US-backed wars killed as many as 200,000 people across Central America, leaving populations traumatized, impoverished and tormented subsequently with armed criminal gangs.

Nicaragua is a poignant case in point. Its leftwing revolutionary Sandinista government – which ousted the decades-old US-backed Somoza dictatorship in 1979 – was destroyed by American proxy war using Contra death squads operating out of Honduras.

Currently, there are some 250,000 Salvadorans living as migrants in the US. Trump wants to send them all back to their country. A recurring fear among the migrants is the rampant violence from armed gangs in El Salvador – a direct legacy of past US military intervention.

It is true that Nicaragua and El Salvador were also hit by earthquakes which have exacerbated humanitarian problems of poverty and social degradation. But arguably the violence and political turmoil fomented in those countries by the US over decades is the major destructive factor in those societies.

The same can be said for Haiti. The Caribbean island country was devastated by an earthquake in 2009, and is reportedly still reeling from the impact. Nevertheless, the intractable poverty and social discord is a legacy of US governments backing decades of dictatorships under Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier. Repeated US military invasions over the past century to repress socially progressive politics ensured that Haiti retained its function as an impoverished offshore location for American corporations to ruthlessly exploit for sweatshop labor.

Regarding African countries on the TPS list, US policy was instrumental in the break-up of Sudan into Northern and Southern states in 2011-2012. That, in turn, has wrecked the economies of both states and fomented conflicts, leading to massive displacement of communities.

Somalia on the Horn of Africa was invaded by US forces in the early 1990s and for the past three decades has been destabilized by relentless American military aggression from naval, air and drone strikes in a so-called “war on terror”.

More generally, Africa’s mass emigrations can also be traced directly to US and NATO European members waging illegal wars in several countries, including Libya, Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic. US-backed proxy wars in Angola, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique have too left a baleful legacy.

More generally, it can never be underestimated the extent of underdevelopment that Africa has been historically hobbled with from American and European colonial and neocolonial economic exploitation.

As for the two other “shithole” countries on Trump’s list – Syria and Yemen – they may most acutely represent just how degenerate this president is.

For continuing under his watch in the White House, American criminal military interventions in those countries have caused millions of people to be killed, maimed, starved and displaced. Syria, in particular, has been reduced from a fairly developed society to a pile of rubble by a six-year war instigated and perpetuated covertly by the US and its NATO and regional client regimes.

Yemen has been turned into an apocalyptic hell-hole from nearly three years of American-backed Saudi aggression against that country, including maintaining a sea, air and land blockade on the whole nation – a massive war crime – resulting in millions of children starving or dying from cholera and other preventable diseases. How could any country suffering a veritable genocide not be turned into anything but a “shithole”?

Mr Trump, are you listening or has your brain been turned into a pile of mush from the fast-food diet you gorge every day?

Considering the carnage that US foreign policy and conduct has inflicted around the world in pursuit of American imperialist interests, the Temporary Protected Status list should not comprise ten nations. It should be extended to dozens of – maybe 100 – countries that have borne the vandalism of American power.

Trump’s deprecation of “shithole” countries is a nauseating display of American ignorance and callousness. No wonder the US continues with its wrecking-ball behavior in the world.

As former Mexican President Vicente Fox alluded to in his outrage over Trump’s latest remarks, the biggest, foulest shit-hole in the world is in Washington. Because there they really do have shit for brains and morals.

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