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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A Decalogue: The Ten Theses of American Empire-Building: A Dialogue

Global Research, November 10, 2018

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

First published by Global Research on August 11, 2018

Introduction

Few, if any, believe what they hear and read from leaders and media publicists. Most people choose to ignore the cacophony of voices, vices and virtues.

This paper provides a set of theses which purports to lay-out the basis for a dialogue between and among those who choose to abstain from elections with the intent to engage them in political struggle.

Thesis 1

US empire builders of all colors and persuasion practice donkey tactics; waving the carrot and wielding the whip to move the target government on the chosen path.

In the same way, Washington offers dubious concessions and threatens reprisals, in order to move them into the imperial orbit.

Washington applied the tactic successfully in several recent encounters. In 2003 the US offered Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi a peaceful accommodation in exchange for disarmament, abandonment of nationalist allies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In 2011, the US with its European allies applied the whip – bombed Libya, financed and armed retrograde tribal and terrorist forces, destroyed the infrastructure, murdered Gaddafi and uprooted millions of Africans and Libyans. . . who fled to Europe. Washington recruited mercenaries for their subsequent war against Syria in order to destroy the nationalist Bashar Assad regime.

Washington succeeded in destroying an adversary but did not establish a puppet regime in the midst of perpetual conflict.

The empire’s carrot weakened its adversary, but the stick failed to recolonize Libya ..Moreover its European allies are obligated to pay the multi-billion Euro cost of absorbing millions of uprooteded immigrants and the ensuing domestic political turmoil.

Thesis 2

Empire builders’ proposal to reconfigure the economy in order to regain imperial supremacy provokes domestic and overseas enemies. President Trump launched a global trade war, replaced political accommodation with economic sanctions against Russia and a domestic protectionist agenda and sharply reduced corporate taxes. He provoked a two-front conflict. Overseas, he provoked opposition from European allies and China, while facing perpetual harassment from domestic free market globalists and Russo-phobic political elites and ideologues.

Two front conflicts are rarely successful. Most successful imperialist conquer adversaries in turn – first one and then the other.

Thesis 3

Leftists frequently reverse course: they are radicals out of office and reactionaries in government, eventually falling between both chairs. We witness the phenomenal collapse of the German Social Democratic Party, the Greek Socialist Party (PASOK), (and its new version Syriza) and the Workers Party in Brazil. Each attracted mass support, won elections, formed alliances with bankers and the business elite – and in the face of their first crises, are abandoned by the populace and the elite.

Shrewd but discredited elites frequently recognize the opportunism of the Left, and in time of distress, have no problem in temporarily putting up with Left rhetoric and reforms as long as their economic interests are not jeopardized. The elite know that the Left signal left and turn right.

Thesis 4

Elections, even ones won by progressives or leftists, frequently become springboards for imperial backed coups. Over the past decade newly elected presidents, who are not aligned with Washington, face congressional and/or judicial impeachment on spurious charges. The elections provide a veneer of legitimacy which a straight-out military-coup lacks.

In Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela, ‘legislatures’ under US tutelage attempted to ouster popular President. They succeeded in the former and failed in the latter.

When electoral machinery fails, the judicial system intervenes to impose restraints on progressives, based on tortuous and convoluted interpretation of the law. Opposition leftists in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador have been hounded by ruling party elites.

Thesis 5

Even crazy leaders speak truth to power. There is no question that President Trump suffers a serious mental disorder, with midnight outbursts and nuclear threats against, any and all, ranging from philanthropic world class sports figures (LeBron James) to NATO respecting EU allies.

Yet in his lunacy, President Trump has denounced and exposed the repeated deceits and ongoing fabrications of the mass media. Never before has a President so forcefully identified the lies of the leading print and TV outlets. The NY Times, Washington Post, the Financial Times, NBC, CNN, ABC and CBS have been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the larger public. They have lost legitimacy and trust. Where progressives have failed, a war monger, billionaire has accomplished, speaking a truth to serve many injustices.

Thesis 6

When a bark turns into a bite, Trump proves the homely truth that fear invites aggression. Trump has implemented or threatened severe sanctions against the EU, China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea and any country that fails to submit to his dictates. At first, it was bombast and bluster which secured concessions.

Concessions were interpreted as weakness and invited greater threats. Disunity of opponents encouraged imperial tacticians to divide and conquer. But by attacking all adversaries simultaneously he undermines that tactic. Threats everywhere limits choices to dangerous options at home and abroad.

Thesis 7

The master meddlers, of all times, into the politics of sovereign states are the Anglo-American empire builders. But what is most revealing is the current ploy of accusing the victims of the crimes that are committed against them.

After the overthrow of the Soviet regime, the US and its European acolytes ‘meddled’ on a world-historic scale, pillaging over two trillion dollars of Soviet wealth and reducing Russian living standards by two thirds and life expectancy to under sixty years – below the level of Bangladesh.

With Russia’s revival under President Putin, Washington financed a large army of self-styled ‘non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) to organize electoral campaigns, recruited moguls in the mass media and directed ethnic uprisings. The Russians are retail meddlers compared to the wholesale multi-billion-dollar US operators.

Moreover, the Israeli’s have perfected meddling on a grand scale – they intervene successfully in Congress, the White House and the Pentagon. They set the Middle East agenda, budget and priorities, and secure the biggest military handouts on a per-capita basis in US history!

Apparently, some meddlers meddle by invitation and are paid to do it.

Thesis 8

Corruption is endemic in the US where it has legal status and where tens of millions of dollars change hands and buy Congress people, Presidents and judges.

In the US the buyers and brokers are called ‘lobbyists’ – everywhere else they are called fraudsters. Corruption (lobbying) grease the wheels of billion dollars military spending, technological subsidies, tax evading corporations and every facet of government – out in the open, all the time and place of the US regime.

Corruption as lobbying never evokes the least criticism from the mass media.

On the other hand, where corruption takes place under the table in Iran, China and Russia, the media denounce the political elite – even where in China over 2 million officials, high and the low are arrested and jailed.

When corruption is punished in China, the US media claim it is merely a ‘political purge’ even if it directly reduces elite conspicuous consumption.

In other words, imperial corruption defends democratic value; anti-corruption is a hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships.

Thesis 9

Bread and circuses are integral parts of empire building – especially in promoting urban street mobs to overthrow independent and elected governments.

Imperial financed mobs – provided the cover for CIA backed coups in Iran (1954), Ukraine (2014), Brazil (1964), Venezuela (2003, 2014 and 2017), Argentina (1956), Nicaragua (2018), Syria (2011) and Libya (2011) among other places and other times.

Masses for empire draw paid and voluntary street fighters who speak for democracy and serve the elite. The “mass cover” is especially effective in recruiting leftists who look to the street for opinion and ignore the suites which call the shots.

Thesis 10

The empire is like a three-legged stool it promotes genocide, to secure magnicide and to rule by homicide. Invasions kills millions, capture and kill rulers and then rule by homicide – police assassinating dissenting citizens.

The cases are readily available: Iraq and Libya come to mind. The US and its allies invaded, bombed and killed over a million Iraqis, captured and assassinated its leaders and installed a police state.

A similar pattern occurred in Libya: the US and EU bombed, killed and uprooted several million people, assassinated Ghadaffy and fomented a lawless terrorist war of clans, tribes and western puppets.

“Western values” reveal the inhumanity of empires built to murder “a la carte” – stripping the victim nations of their defenders, leaders and citizens.

Conclusion

The ten theses define the nature of 21st century imperialism – its continuities and novelties.

The mass media systematically write and speak lies to power: their message is to disarm their adversaries and to arouse their patrons to continue to plunder the world.

*

Prof. James Petras is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

“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.

Nations the World Over Disapprove of US Foreign Policy, Except for israel (apartheid state)

Nations the World Over Disapprove of US Foreign Policy, Except for Israel

You don’t need a Pew poll to know which way the world thinks. But it is useful.

Last week, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn the US embargo against Cuba. A total of 189 member-nations said Cuba did not deserve this embargo, which began in 1961 and has continued unabated to this day. Only two countries – the United States and Israel – voted against the motion. No country abstained.Cuba’s minister for foreign affairs, Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla, has said the US embargo has cost the small socialist island state upwards of US$933.678 billion, with the losses in the past year amounting to $4.3 billion (twice the amount of foreign direct investment into the island). This embargo, Rodríguez Parrilla said as he put the resolution forward, is an “act of genocide” against Cuba and its people.

The Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement – both important groupings of the Global South – as well as regional groupings from Africa to Latin America backed the resolution. China’s representative to the UN, Ma Zhaoxu, made the case that the US embargo on Cuba prevented the island from meeting its obligations to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Last year, the United States strengthened the embargo with an attack on the tourism sector (83 hotels were placed on the banned list). It is likely that President Donald Trump’s administration will deepen its assault on Cuba.

Threats by the United States did not convert the vote of otherwise reliable US allies. Each year since 1992 a resolution of this kind has come before the UN General Assembly. Each year the world has overwhelmingly voted against the US embargo. This year was no different.

 

World worried about the United States

You don’t need a Pew poll to know which way the world thinks.

But it is useful. Last month, Pew Research Center released a poll that looked at the image of Donald Trump and the United States in 25 countries around the world. In most countries, neither Trump nor the United States come off well. Seventy percent of the populations in these countries have no confidence in Trump. The same proportion of people believe that the United States does not take the interests of other countries into consideration when moving policies forward. This is evident with the US embargo on Cuba.

Neither the people of Canada nor Mexico – the closest neighbors of the United States – have a favorable view of either Trump or the United States. Only Israel, which voted with the United States over the embargo on Cuba, has a high opinion of Trump and of the US.

Beyond the Pew poll, it is evident from the atmosphere in the United Nations that the countries of the world – even close US allies – fear US policy on a number of issues. Cuba is a canary in the coal mine. But even clearer is the US policy of ramping up sanctions against Iran.

 

World does not want to strangle Iran

At the debate over the US embargo on Cuba, Iran’s representative to the UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, detailed how the US had withdrawn from several international agreements and how it had failed to implement UN Security Council resolutions that it did not like.

Behind Khoshroo’s comments lay the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal agreed upon by Iran and the UN Security Council members, the United Nations and the European Union. This deal was sanctified by a Security Council resolution. Trump’s unilateral move to scuttle the nuclear deal and the return of sanctions against Iran this week replicates, Khoshroo intimated, the long-standing and unpopular sanctions against Cuba. The United States, he said, should “sincerely apologize” to the people of Cuba and Iran.

As the new US sanctions regime went into place against Iran, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Ankara, “US sanctions on Iran are wrong. For us, they are steps aimed at unbalancing the world. We don’t want to live in an imperialist world.”

Erdogan is not alone here. Even countries with close ties to the United States, such as India and Japan, are against the sanctions. They may not use words like “imperialist,” but their actions clearly bristle at the heavy-handedness of the US government when it comes to its use of instruments such as financial sanctions.

It was clear that China was never going to honor the new US sanctions on Iran. Nor were Turkey and Iraq, and nor were the three large economies of Asia that rely on Iranian oil (India, Japan and South Korea). No wonder the United States gave these countries waivers to the sanctions.

Some countries, including India and Japan, have been discussing the need for an alternative financial system so that they can do trade with countries that are sanctioned by the United States. They do not believe that the US should be allowed to suffocate world trade through its control over banking systems and through the world’s reliance on the dollar. Pressure to build alternatives no longer comes from the margins; it comes from Tokyo and New Delhi, from Frankfurt and Seoul.

One major casualty of the US sanctions on Iran will be Afghanistan, already ripped apart by almost two decades of war. Afghanistan relies on Iranian oil and, during this year, non-oil trade rose by 30%. India’s project to help build a port in Chabahar is linked to opening new land routes into Afghanistan.

Just as the US sanctions went into place against Iran, Ahmad Reshad Popal, director general of Afghanistan’s Customs Department, opened the Farah crossing to Iranian goods – a snub to US policy. Even Afghanistan, virtually under US occupation, cannot abide by the US policy on Iran. Nor even can the NATO troops in Afghanistan, whose trucks are fueled in part by Iranian oil.

 

World does not want ‘Iraq war’ in Latin America

George W Bush used the term “axis of evil” to lump together Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Of the three, the US was only able to go to war against Iraq, in 2003. Pressure for regime change in North Korea was held back by its nuclear-weapons program, while pressure for regime change in Iran continues.

Donald Trump has now come up with a new term – “troika of tyranny,” which comprises Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In Miami, Trump’s close adviser John Bolton gave a speech where he inaugurated this term.

He spoke of the right-wing turn in Latin America and the isolation – as far as he was concerned – of socialist governments. Bolton celebrated the election of men such as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Ivan Duque in Colombia, men who he said were committed to “free-market principles and open, transparent, and accountable governance.” No mention here of the grotesque views of Bolsonaro or the militarism of both men.

Bolton called the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela “strongmen.” But there is no more “clownish, pitiful” figure – to borrow from Bolton – than Bolsonaro, no more authoritarian heads of government than Bolsonaro, Duque and Trump. Duque has taken Colombia into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a sign that the Colombian military will now answer more to Washington than to the Colombian people.

In his speech, Bolton threatened the governments in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Trump’s administration, he said, “is taking direct action against all three regimes” – “direct action” a key phrase here.

Such actions against these countries are not new.

The United States invaded Cuba in 1898 and held it as a virtual colony until the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Pressure on the Cuban Revolution intensified by 1961, with the US forcing an embargo on the island, attempting an invasion of the country and attempting to assassinate the leadership of the revolution.

US marines entered Nicaragua in 1909 and occupied the country until 1933. When the marines left, the national liberation forces under Augusto César Sandino attempted to free the country. Sandino was assassinated, and a US-backed dictatorship by the Somoza family ruled the country until 1979. That year, the Sandinistas – named after Sandino – overthrew the dictatorship. In response, the US funded the Contras (short form for counter-revolutionary forces), who prosecuted a bloody war against the small country.

Ever since Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela, the US has tried to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution that he inaugurated. A failed coup in 2002 was followed up by various forms of intimidation and sanctions. In 2015, US president Barack Obama declared that Venezuela was an “extraordinary threat to US security” and slapped sanctions on the country. It is this policy that Trump has since continued.

Itchy fingers in the Trump administration are eager to start a shooting war somewhere in Latin America – either Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela. The appetite for this is not there in the United Nations. Nor is it shared in Latin America. But that has never stopped the United States.

Disregard for world opinion as well as the opinion of the US citizenry defines the US government. Thirty-six million people around the world, half a million of them in New York City, protested on February 15, 2003, in an attempt to prevent the US war on Iraq. George W Bush did not pay attention to them. Nor will Trump.

Last August, Trump asked his advisers why the US couldn’t just invade Venezuela. The next day, on August 11, 2017, he said he was considering the “military option” for Venezuela. At a private dinner with four Latin American allies, Trump asked if they wanted the US to invade Venezuela. Each of them said no.

Not sure if their opinions count.

Top Photo | A six-meter high cartoon baby blimp of U.S. President Donald Trump is flown as a protest against his visit, in Parliament Square in London, England, July 13, 2018. Matt Dunham | AP

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, journalist, commentator, and a Marxist intellectual. He is the Executive Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and the Chief Editor of LeftWord Books

Source | This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Disregard for world opinion defines the US government

World Rejects Dangerous US Foreign Policy

 by Vijay Prashad

Last week, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn the US embargo against Cuba. A total of 189 member-nations said Cuba did not deserve this embargo, which began in 1961 and has continued unabated to this day. Only two countries – the United States and Israel – voted against the motion. No country abstained.

Cuba’s minister for foreign affairs, Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla, has said the US embargo has cost the small socialist island state upwards of US$933.678 billion, with the losses in the past year amounting to $4.3 billion (twice the amount of foreign direct investment into the island). This embargo, Rodríguez Parrilla said as he put the resolution forward, is an “act of genocide” against Cuba and its people.

The Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement – both important groupings of the Global South – as well as regional groupings from Africa to Latin America backed the resolution. China’s representative to the UN, Ma Zhaoxu, made the case that the US embargo on Cuba prevented the island from meeting its obligations to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Threats by the United States did not convert the vote of otherwise reliable US allies. Each year since 1992 a resolution of this kind has come before the UN General Assembly. Each year the world has overwhelmingly voted against the US embargo. This year was no different.

World worried about the United States

You don’t need a Pew poll to know which way the world thinks.

But it is useful. Last month, Pew Research Center released a poll that looked at the image of Donald Trump and the United States in 25 countries around the world. In most countries, neither Trump nor the United States come off well. Seventy percent of the populations in these countries have no confidence in Trump. The same proportion of people believe that the United States does not take the interests of other countries into consideration when moving policies forward. This is evident with the US embargo on Cuba.

Neither the people of Canada nor Mexico – the closest neighbors of the United States – have a favorable view of either Trump or the United States. Only Israel, which voted with the United States over the embargo on Cuba, has a high opinion of Trump and of the US.

Beyond the Pew poll, it is evident from the atmosphere in the United Nations that the countries of the world – even close US allies – fear US policy on a number of issues. Cuba is a canary in the coal mine. But even clearer is the US policy of ramping up sanctions against Iran.

World does not want to strangle Iran

At the debate over the US embargo on Cuba, Iran’s representative to the UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, detailed how the US had withdrawn from several international agreements and how it had failed to implement UN Security Council resolutions that it did not like.

Behind Khoshroo’s comments lay the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal agreed upon by Iran and the UN Security Council members, the United Nations and the European Union. This deal was sanctified by a Security Council resolution. Trump’s unilateral move to scuttle the nuclear deal and the return of sanctions against Iran this week replicates, Khoshroo intimated, the long-standing and unpopular sanctions against Cuba. The United States, he said, should “sincerely apologize” to the people of Cuba and Iran.

As the new US sanctions regime went into place against Iran, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Ankara, “US sanctions on Iran are wrong. For us, they are steps aimed at unbalancing the world. We don’t want to live in an imperialist world.”

Erdogan is not alone here. Even countries with close ties to the United States, such as India and Japan, are against the sanctions. They may not use words like “imperialist,” but their actions clearly bristle at the heavy-handedness of the US government when it comes to its use of instruments such as financial sanctions.

It was clear that China was never going to honor the new US sanctions on Iran. Nor were Turkey and Iraq, and nor were the three large economies of Asia that rely on Iranian oil (India, Japan and South Korea). No wonder the United States gave these countries waivers to the sanctions.

Some countries, including India and Japan, have been discussing the need for an alternative financial system so that they can do trade with countries that are sanctioned by the United States. They do not believe that the US should be allowed to suffocate world trade through its control over banking systems and through the world’s reliance on the dollar. Pressure to build alternatives no longer comes from the margins; it comes from Tokyo and New Delhi, from Frankfurt and Seoul.

One major casualty of the US sanctions on Iran will be Afghanistan, already ripped apart by almost two decades of war. Afghanistan relies on Iranian oil and, during this year, non-oil trade rose by 30%. India’s project to help build a port in Chabahar is linked to opening new land routes into Afghanistan.

Just as the US sanctions went into place against Iran, Ahmad Reshad Popal, director general of Afghanistan’s Customs Department, opened the Farah crossing to Iranian goods – a snub to US policy. Even Afghanistan, virtually under US occupation, cannot abide by the US policy on Iran. Nor even can the NATO troops in Afghanistan, whose trucks are fueled in part by Iranian oil.

World does not want ‘Iraq war’ in Latin America

George W Bush used the term “axis of evil” to lump together Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Of the three, the US was only able to go to war against Iraq, in 2003. Pressure for regime change in North Korea was held back by its nuclear-weapons program, while pressure for regime change in Iran continues.

Donald Trump has now come up with a new term – “troika of tyranny,” which comprises Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In Miami, Trump’s close adviser John Bolton gave a speech where he inaugurated this term.

He spoke of the right-wing turn in Latin America and the isolation – as far as he was concerned – of socialist governments. Bolton celebrated the election of men such as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Ivan Duque in Colombia, men who he said were committed to “free-market principles and open, transparent, and accountable governance.” No mention here of the grotesque views of Bolsonaro or the militarism of both men.

Bolton called the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela “strongmen.” But there is no more “clownish, pitiful” figure – to borrow from Bolton – than Bolsonaro, no more authoritarian heads of government than Bolsonaro, Duque and Trump. Duque has taken Colombia into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a sign that the Colombian military will now answer more to Washington than to the Colombian people.

In his speech, Bolton threatened the governments in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Trump’s administration, he said, “is taking direct action against all three regimes” – “direct action” a key phrase here.

Such actions against these countries are not new.

The United States invaded Cuba in 1898 and held it as a virtual colony until the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Pressure on the Cuban Revolution intensified by 1961, with the US forcing an embargo on the island, attempting an invasion of the country and attempting to assassinate the leadership of the revolution.

US marines entered Nicaragua in 1909 and occupied the country until 1933. When the marines left, the national liberation forces under Augusto César Sandino attempted to free the country. Sandino was assassinated, and a US-backed dictatorship by the Somoza family ruled the country until 1979. That year, the Sandinistas – named after Sandino – overthrew the dictatorship. In response, the US funded the Contras (short form for counter-revolutionary forces), who prosecuted a bloody war against the small country.

Ever since Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela, the US has tried to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution that he inaugurated. A failed coup in 2002 was followed up by various forms of intimidation and sanctions. In 2015, US president Barack Obama declared that Venezuela was an “extraordinary threat to US security” and slapped sanctions on the country. It is this policy that Trump has since continued.

Itchy fingers in the Trump administration are eager to start a shooting war somewhere in Latin America – either Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela. The appetite for this is not there in the United Nations. Nor is it shared in Latin America. But that has never stopped the United States.

Disregard for world opinion as well as the opinion of the US citizenry defines the US government. Thirty-six million people around the world, half a million of them in New York City, protested on February 15, 2003, in an attempt to prevent the US war on Iraq. George W Bush did not pay attention to them. Nor will Trump.

Last August, Trump asked his advisers why the US couldn’t just invade Venezuela. The next day, on August 11, 2017, he said he was considering the “military option” for Venezuela. At a private dinner with four Latin American allies, Trump asked if they wanted the US to invade Venezuela. Each of them said no.

Not sure if their opinions count.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute, which provided it to Asia Times

Venezuela wants to repatriate its gold from Britain, reduce reliance on the dollar, @bankofengland REFUSES request

Venezuela wants to repatriate its gold from Britain, reduce reliance on the dollar

Venezuela wants to repatriate its gold from Britain, reduce reliance on the dollar – UPDATE: Bank of England REFUSES request

gold bars

© Jochen Tack/Global Look Press
    Save

The Venezuelan government is looking to repatriate around $550 million in gold bars from the Bank of England due to increasing concerns about looming US sanctions.

Caracas is planning to bring 14 tons of gold, held in Britain, back to Venezuela, according to unnamed public officials, as quoted by Reuters. The UK regulator has reportedly sought to clarify what Venezuela plans to do with the gold.

The plan on repatriating the gold bars, kept in London, has been reportedly discussed for nearly two months amid increased difficulties in getting insurance for the shipment needed to move a large gold cargo.

“They are still trying to find insurance coverage, because the costs are high,” the source told the agency.

Venezuela’s foreign exchange holdings have significantly declined since the already-imposed US penalties banned the country’s government from borrowing cash on international markets.

A new round of anti-Venezuelan sanctions was introduced by the White House last week. They ban US citizens from dealing with entities and people involved with gold sales in Venezuela, which the US calls “corrupt and deceptive.”

The South American country is currently dealing with one of the worst economic crises in history, going through a fifth year of recession and an annual inflation of more than 400,000 percent. The crisis has reportedly forced nearly a million citizens to flee to neighboring countries.

Caracas has been holding its gold reserves in foreign bank vaults, which is a common practice for developing countries. In 2011, Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez repatriated nearly 160 tons of gold from the US and some European countries.

Since 2014, Venezuela has been using its gold as collateral to get billions in loans from international lenders. As a result, the country’s gold reserves have been significantly depleted. According to the latest data from the country’s central bank, gold holdings have dropped to 160 tons in June from 364 tons in 2014.

Swap agreements became difficult for Venezuela in 2017 after Washington banned US financial institutions from financing operations there.

US Declares War on ‘Troika of Tyranny’ Pushing Them Closer to Russia

US Declares War on ‘Troika of Tyranny’ Pushing Them Closer to Russia

US Declares War on ‘Troika of Tyranny’ Pushing Them Closer to Russia

The US is going to extend its “combat operations” — the sanctions war aimed at reshaping the world — to Latin America. Tough new penalties are planned against the “troika of tyranny,” consisting of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua “in the very near future.” This announcement was made by National Security Adviser (NSA) John Bolton on Nov.1 — a few days before the US mid-term elections — in an attempt to draw more support from Hispanic voters, especially in Florida. An executive order on sanctions against Venezuela has already been signed by President Trump, but that’s just the beginning.

It was rather symbolic that on the same day the NSA delivered his bellicose speech, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution calling for an end to the US economic embargo against Cuba. The document did not include amendments proposed by the US that would put pressure on Havana to improve its human-rights record.

This is a prelude to a massive escalation in US foreign policy, which will include the formation of alliances, in addition to the active confrontation of those who dare to pursue policies believed to be anti-US. “Under this administration, we will no longer appease dictators and despots near our shores,” Bolton stated, adding, “The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere — Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua – has finally met its match.” Sounds like a declaration of war. Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, and Peru are probably some of the nations the US is eyeing for a potential alliance.

Bolton’s “troika” includes only countries ruled by governments that are openly “red” or Communist.  The list of nations unfriendly to the US is much longer and includes Bolivia, Ecuador, Dominica, Grenada, Uruguay, and some other states ruled by leftist governments. Andrés Obrador, the president-elect of Mexico, takes office on Dec. 1. The Mexican leader represents the country’s left wing and looks like a tough nut to crack. Outright pressure may not be helpful in this particular case.

Now that this new US policy is in place, Moscow and Washington appear to have another divisive issue clouding their relationship. The “troika of tyranny” against which Washington has declared war enjoys friendly relations with Russia.

With Cuba facing tougher restrictions, new opportunities are opening up that will encourage the Russian-Cuban relationship to thrive.   The chairman of the Cuban State Council and Council of Ministers, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his official visit to Moscow Nov. 1-3.  Their joint statement reaffirmed the strategic and allied relations between the two counties. Their long list of joint projects includes the deployment of a Russian GLONASS ground station in Cuba, which will give it access to a broad array of technical capabilities for satellite and telecommunications services and for taking remote readings of Earth. Russia will modernize Cuba’s railways. Sixty contracts are scheduled to be signed during President Putin’s visit to Cuba next year. Rosneft, the Russian state oil giant, has recently resumed fuel shipments to Cuba and is negotiating a major energy agreement.

Military cooperation is also to get a boost. The military chiefs are to meet this month to discuss the details. Moscow is considering granting Havana €38 million for Russian arms purchases.

The US-imposed restrictions are a factor spurring Russian exports to Cuba and other regional countries. When the US cut aid to Nicaragua in 2012, Russia increased its economic and military cooperation with that country. The memorandum signed between the Russian and Nicaraguan governments on May 8, 2018 states that the parties are to“mark a new step to boost political dialog” in such areas as “international security and cooperation through various international political platforms.”  Russia accounts for about 90% of Nicaraguan arms and munitions imports. It has far-reaching interests in building the Nicaraguan Canal in its role as a stakeholder and partner responsible for security-related missions.

President Vladimir Putin offered support for his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro after the United States rejected his reelection in May.  Russian energy giant Rosneft plays an important role in that country’s energy sector. It was Russia that came to Venezuela’s rescue in 2017 with a debt-restructuring deal that prevented the default that was looming after the US sanctions were imposed. This was just another example of Moscow lending a helping hand to a Latin American nation that was facing difficult times.

Russia is currently pursuing a number of commercial projects in the region, in oil, mining, nuclear energy, construction, and space services. It enjoys a special relationship with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which was founded by Cuba and Venezuela and includes Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, among other countries. This grouping is looking to create economic alternatives to Western-dominated financial institutions. This cooperation with Latin American nations goes far beyond ALBA. For instance, the Peruvian air force is in the process of contracting for 24 additional Mi-171s, as well as establishing a maintenance facility for their helicopters near the La Joya base in Arequipa. A contract to upgrade its aging Mig-29 fighters is under consideration. In January 2018, Russia signed a number of economic agreements with Argentina during President Macri’s visit to Moscow.  All in all, trade between Russia and Latin American countries reached $14.5 bln in 2017 and is growing.

RT Spanish was launched in 2009, featuring its own news presenters and programming in addition to translated content, with bureaus operating in Buenos Aires, CaracasHavanaLos AngelesMadridManagua, and Miami.  Russia’s Sputnik media outlet has been broadcasting in Spanish since 2014, offering radio- and web-based news and entertainment to audiences across Latin America.

Some countries may back down under the US sanctions and threats, but many will not. There’s a flip side to everything. The policy could backfire. The harder the pressure, the stronger the desire of the affected nations to diversify their international relations and resist the implementation of the Monroe doctrine that relegates them to the role of America’s backyard.

Photo: Flickr

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