More official proof of US supporting al-Qaeda terrorism in Syria

Where are the war crimes tribunals when you really need them?

By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor

…by PressTV, Tehran

[ Editor’s Note: This is a rare open admisssion by a US senior diplomat, that using proxy terrorists to pursue ‘US interests’ was fair game, even if the group slaughtered innocent civilians in the process. Politicians often refer to this generically as ‘exporting American values’.

Ambassador James Jeffrey uses the typical weasel word language to couch his support for aiding and abetting terrorists, that it was “the least bad option” for implementing US strategy in Syria. The US has used drone assassinations against others doing just this.

This will be my shortest article lead in ever, due to there really being not anything else to say other than where are the war crimes tribunals when you really need them? But I do thank Mr. Jeffrey for the quote… Jim W. Dean ]

First published … April 03, 2021

Top US diplomat James Jeffrey has admitted that a Syrian rebranded al-Qaeda affiliate was a US “asset” for pursuing Washington’s hegemonic policy in the Middle East.

Jeffrey, who served as a US ambassador under both Republican and Democrat administrations and most recently as former US President Donald Trump’s special representative for Syria and later as the special envoy to the global anti-Daesh coalition, said the Syrian al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group known today as the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group was “an asset” to the US to undermine the democratically-elected government of Bashar Assad.

The top US diplomat said the HTS militant group, which had emerged from Jabhat al-Nusra and later Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, was the “least bad option” for the United States for implementing its strategy in Idlib, Syria.

In an interview with FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith, Jeffrey said that Idlib was one of the crucial locations in the Middle East conflict.

“They are the least bad option of the various options on Idlib, and Idlib is one of the most important places in Syria, which is one of the most important places right now in the Middle East,” he said in the March 8 interview.

The US State Department had said that the group’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, aimed to topple Assad’s government, making him an ally for the US.

Jolani’s “ultimate goal is the overthrow of the Syrian regime,” it said, noting that attacks carried out by his group “killed innocent Syrian civilians.”

US supported Al -Qaeda in Syria, Libya and Yemen.

*

James Jeffrey

James Franklin Jeffrey (born February 8, 1946) aka Jim Jeffrey is an American diplomat who served most recently as the United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy to the International military intervention against ISIL.[1][2]

He has held senior assignments in Washington, D.C., and abroad, including as United States Ambassador to Iraq (2010–2012); United States Ambassador to Turkey (2008–2010); Deputy National Security Advisor (2007–2008); and United States Ambassador to Albania (2002–2004). In 2010 Jeffrey was appointed to the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service, Career Ambassador. From 1969 to 1976, Jeffrey was a U.S. Army infantry officer, with service in Germany and Vietnam.

Jeffrey is a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a member of the CIA External Advisory Board, a member of the American Council on Germany, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He serves on the advisory board for America Abroad Media.[3] He is a frequent commentator on broader foreign policy, national security, and economic trends.

BIOGRAPHYJim W. Dean, Managing Editor

Managing Editor

Jim W. Dean is Managing Editor of Veterans Today involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews. 

Read Full Complete Bio >>>

Jim W. Dean Archives 2009-2014https://www.veteranstoday.com/jim-w-dean-biography/jimwdean@aol.com

Washington Is Misreading Russia at the World’s Peril

See the source image

April 6, 2021 

Paul Craig Roberts

On August 31, 2018, I wrote:

“So, the questions for Andrei Martyanov, The Saker, and for Putin and the Russian government is: How long does turning your other cheek work? Do you turn your other cheek so long as to allow your opponent to neutralize your advantage in a confrontation? Do you turn your other cheek so long that you lose the support of the patriotic population for your failure to defend the country’s honor? Do you turn your other cheek so long that you are eventually forced into war or submission? Do you turn your other cheek so long that the result is nuclear war?

“I think that Martyanov and The Saker agree that my question is a valid one. Both emphazise in their highly informative writings that the court historians misrepresent wars in the interest of victors. Let’s give this a moment’s thought. Both Napoleon and Hitler stood at their apogee, their success unmitigated by any military defeat. Then they marched into Russia and were utterly destroyed. Why did they do this? They did it because their success had given them massive arogance and belief in their “exceptionalism,” the dangerous word that encapsulates Washington’s belief in its hegemony.

“The zionist neoconsevatives who rule in Washington are capable of the same mistake that Napoleon and Hitler made. They believe in “the end of history,” that the Soviet collapse means history has chosen America as the model for the future. Their hubris actually exceeds that of Napoleon and Hitler.

“When confronted with such deluded and ideological force, does turning the other cheek work or does it encourage more provocation?

“This is the question before the Russian government.”  https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/08/31/can-war-be-avoided-and-the-planet-saved/ 

Andrei Martyanov answered on September 4, 2018: https://www.unz.com/article/russia-as-a-cat/   He argued that Washington is aware that its military power is limited and will not risk nuclear annihilation.

On April 5, 2021, the Saker has reached agreement with my point: “Russia cannot and will not retreat further, she won’t meekly declare that the Donbass or Crimea belong to the Nazi regime in Kiev.  Russia is ready, capable and willing to fight US/NATO forces if needed, including by using tactical and even strategic nukes.” https://thesaker.is/what-will-the-empire-do-to-support-the-ukronazis-open-thread-4/ 

Like myself the Saker concludes that Washington’s hubris means that “The biggest danger right now is that western politicians are completely misreading not only Putin, but all of Russia.”  

Martyanov believes that Washington’s guarantee to Ukraine is a temptest in a teacup as Washington will not really risk confronting Russia militarily.  https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com 

I wonder if Martyanov is giving Washington too much credit for awareness.  If Washington were reading the situation correctly, would the US Secretary of Defense have given Ukraine a guarantee against Russian intervention if Ukraine, now better armed by Washington, renews its assault on Donbass?  Washington wants conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the purpose of giving the guarantee is to produce conflict.  

Martyanov might be correct that Ukraine is too wary to trust the guarantee, and that Washington would not stand behind it.  But escalation can have momentum of its own. The publicized guarantee could result in extreme elements pushing the Ukrainian president into foolhardy action.  Neocons and liberal interventionists could insist Washington’s word and reputation are at stake and demand that Biden go to Ukraine’s aid.  I agree with Martyanov that it would be a war based on stupid nonsense, but these things do happen.

I only raise questions. Saker and Martyanov are better informed on these matters than I. Nevertheless, I think the risk is high that the American people are going to be very regretful that they permitted the military/security complex to use the dumbshit Democrats to prevent President Trump from normalizing relations with Russia. 

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Nasrallah: US’ top priority is preventing a China-Russia-Iran alliance

Source

Nasrallah: US’ top priority is preventing a China-Russia-Iran alliance

April 05, 2021

Description:

In a recent televised speech, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah claimed that the Biden administration’s top priority today was to prevent the formation of a major alliance or axis between China, Russia, and Iran.

Nasrallah also claimed that the United States and Israel were today in a state of decline, while the Iran-led ‘Axis of Resistance’ was on an upward trajectory.

The ‘Axis of Resistance’ broadly refers to a strategic anti-Israel/anti-US imperialist alliance composed of, but not limited to, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi, Yemen’s Ansarullah, and various Palestinian armed factions.

Source: Spot Shot (YouTube)

Date: 4 April, 2021

(Important Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing as little as $1/month here )

Transcript:

Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah:

Of course, the Israelis too – (staying on) the Israeli file – the Israelis these days, I mean in the past few weeks and months, almost every day, despite the (many military/security) manoeuvres, they (nevertheless) express very publicly their concerns and worries over the fact that the Axis of Resistance is developing, that it is developing its capabilities. On the other hand, yes indeed, the Resistance (Axis) is working on the development and accumulation of its capabilities. This means that their worry has (real) foundations, (the Israelis) are not making up (this sense) of worry and concern.

Today, the Axis of Resistance is not silent, it is not an axis experiencing stagnation. On the contrary (my) honourable brothers, the Axis of Resistance has (successfully) passed – in these past 10 years – through the worst, most dangerous phase of its life and history. This is evident in what happened in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq (these past 10 years), as well as (what happened in) the entire region, and in the severe embargo and maximum sanctions (campaign) on Iran and so on.

Indeed, this axis is facing these threats with increased work, hard work, diligent work, away from any type of showing-off (i.e. fruitless muscle-flexing). (The goal of all this work) is to accumulate the capabilities and power (of the Resistance Axis), (capabilities) that will decisively decide the future.

I would like to conclude with the following words; I wish to depict the international and regional scene, and share some advice too, advice to (some in) Lebanon and to the region as a whole, not only to the Lebanese. Today, there is definitely a (particular) scene in the world, and I will be brief here, as I have already taken a lot of time and I have only got a few more minutes according to the brothers. They gave me limited time, otherwise, these days I’m taking much time – I’m delivering long speeches.

There are significant international developments (occurring today), and it is clear that the top priority of the US administration is China and Russia. China as an economic force that can become the top economic force in the world, which Biden says will not happen (as long as) he is around. Russia, of course, is not an economic threat. They rather view it more from the military, political and security angles, in addition to competition (with it) on the global (level).

There are ongoing American efforts to prevent the formation of a coalition, front, axis, or something of this nature, whereby Iran stands besides China and Russia. For this reason, they are seeking to address the nuclear file issue with Iran, with an emphasis on diplomacy. Of course, the emphasis on diplomacy here is not an American act of kindness; it is a testament to the power of Iran. By the way, Iran’s position on this issue is powerful and firm. What (Iran) did not give to Trump under the maximum sanctions (campaign) and daily war threats, it will not give (Biden) today while it stands on the verge of (successfully) overcoming the embargo and sanctions phase.

So, these are the priorities of the Americans, they are trying to work out how to deal with the files of the (Middle East) region in one way or another; let’s go to Yemen and see how we can extinguish the Yemen war, or let’s go to Afghanistan and see how we can clean up the situation in Afghanistan. (This is what is on their mind), but their approach is not clear yet, because they have not taken final decisions (on these high-level matters), according to the information (we currently have).

Regardless of what some analysts say, concerning Syria and Lebanon, it is obvious that the (the American side) is distracted from Palestine. What I want to say – through this quick analysis – to the friends of America in our region, and to whoever is betting on the American administration in our region, I say to them that (America’s) priorities – or in other words, there are new developments that they need to take into consideration.

The first development is that the new American priorities are not (related to) our region, except for what relates to Israel. Their priorities now are Russia, China, and how to resolve the issue with Iran. Thus, if you want to resolve your crises, end your wars, solve your problems, improve your situation and achieve compromises, if you are waiting for the Americans to achieve all of this, then the wait will be very long.

Secondly, America is no longer the America that you know. There is a new term that his eminence Imam Khamenei presented last year, and he had placed a lot of emphasis on it. I hereby call for reflection on (this term) so that we don’t take it as a mere headline or form of political rhetoric: “The decline of America”. America is in decline. In the words of some literature, it can be described as (on a) “descending arc”. America is now in a state of fall; in a state of descent.

America’s upcoming challenges today, most of them are related to internal problems, regarding the Corona Virus; the economic situation and its consequences; the white race (and race-related issues), fanaticism, infighting and associated dangers. America has never experienced internal dangers the likes of which it is facing today. This requires a prolonged discussion, but there is a (certain) outlook (on this issue which I will share later).

Of course, when we talk strategically, we are not talking about one year, or two, three, four or five – we are talking about a trajectory. The trajectory of the US is a trajectory of decline, descent, and downfall. Whereas the trajectory of the Axis of Resistance in the region, (with its) states, movements, and peoples, is an upward trajectory.

Priorities will (thus) be different. Therefore, I hereby call on you all, as states, peoples, regimes, movements, peoples, sects, groups, and whatever else: let us not wait for America, let us not wait for the (rest of the) world. Let us not wait for international developments. Let us hold dialogue on the regional and national (levels). Let us hold dialogue among all the states of the region, and dialogue among the peoples of the region, in order to resolve our problems and crises.

Let us not put off until tomorrow what we can do today, as the present day is better for you than tomorrow. I believe that all those who belong to the Axis of Resistance, as a result of the honesty, sincerity, and concern (they have) for their homelands, they are ready to reach certain resolutions, solutions, and compromises that would allow us to overcome all these difficult phases. This is the horizon that we see before us.

Of course, in light of this international and regional shift, Israel, just like its master, is on a path of decline. It is on “the descending arc”. The earnest wish of his eminence, (the late) Sheikh Ahmad Zein, that which the brothers spoke about before me, this wish is strong and vibrant. God willing, some of us – at the very least – will enter (the city of) al-Quds and pray in al-Quds, God willing. This is the horizon which we can see.


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Iran-China deal hailed as geopolitical game changer

By VT Editors -April 8, 2021

Carl Zha is an American-Chinese social media activist with an extensive knowledge of Chinese foreign policies. He tells Press TV about the importance of the Iran-China economic pact and its possible ramifications for the region and beyond.

This article is based on an episode of Presscast, a podcast by Press TV

Carl Zha is an American-Chinese social media activist with an extensive knowledge of Chinese foreign policies. He tells Press TV about the importance of the Iran-China economic pact and its possible ramifications for the region and beyond.

This article is based on an episode of Presscast, a podcast by Press TV

Very little has been published on the Iran-China agreement and its possible outcome for the region since it was announced last year.

How important is this deal?

So, we know approximate figure, 400, billion (dollar value of agreement), it’s a pretty big number, and it’s touted as a strategic partnership between China and Iran, where both sides committed to broaden the economic cooperation that both sides already have but increasing investment, increasing cooperation in developing infrastructures. So I think it’s a really big deal because we have all the usual outlets in the mainstream media talking about it or the conservative media in the US are, are taking the stance, oh, you know, like the “Biden’s screwed up. He made Iran and China get together, now they have formed the axis of evil, now we are screwed!” You know it’s a good thing when these people are starting to talk like that.

What are the western media criticisms of the deal?

Um, actually I hear a lot of, you know, I saw a lot of criticism for like the, the Iranian dissidents in the diaspora, I mean a lot of them are posing this as somehow Iran selling out to China. You know I see like an astroturf Twitter campaign about you, Iran, get out of “China, get out of Iran”, right, which is totally overblown because as far as I know, you know China is not is not, you know, posting its military to Iran and China. China is in Iran to do business. Right and it’s a deal, agreed by two sovereign governments between the sovereign government of Iran and China. It’s not like one side is pointing a gun to the other side, say hey, sign at the dotted line, and as a matter of fact, it has nothing to do with the United States.

Iran and China have long standing ties through the Silk Road

The fact that people in the US media are getting worked up about it is rather ridiculous, (since) this is a deal between two nations with long standing ties through the Silk Road, I mean Iran and China have had a historical relationship for over 1000 years, you know, way longer than United States even existed. The fact that the people in Washington, who can barely find Iran and China on a map, are worked up about a deal of cooperation, mind you have a deal of cooperation and friendship between Iran and China. It says a lot more about them than about the deal itself it’s, it’s this fear that oh my god you know all these people are ganging up on us. It’s like no, this has nothing to do with the US.

US foreign policy hostile toward both nations

Iran and China are just continuing their historical relationship. There’s every reason for the two nations to work together, especially when both are being put under pressure by US foreign policy, you know, US foreign policy has been very hostile toward Iran since 1979. US foreign policy has been increasingly hostile toward China since 2010. So I mean, when, when US policymakers realize, China now is in a position strong enough to challenge the US hegemony, and that’s what they’re really worried about they’re worried about the position of the US as a hegemon [sic] in the world; they are worried that US hegemony is going to disappear and be replaced by a multipolar, multilateral world, which, I don’t understand why that’s a bad day, for them it is.

Ever since the United States pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018, and reapplied sanctions China remained the sole buyer of Iranian petroleum, the sole lifeline that Iran could rely on at the time was coming from China and what they’re doing now is just a continuation of their previous businesses dealings which has now been made official.

China and Iran Cooperation goes a long way. I mean not just, just, historically, but also in the modern time, you know China has always dealt with Iran and in the latest round of sanctions  the US placed on Iran, China continue to do business (with Iran) despite the US sanctions because, you know, the, the US sanctions rely on the premise that the US has dominate the global finance right and because US threatened to sanction, any company, any government that has dealing with Iran, but China is in a position today where you can basically ignore the US sanction and continue to, to work on its traditional relationship, normal relationship, with Iran. And I think that is what has upset people in Washington, because they see the US is losing its grip.

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

This deal comes in the backdrop of the broader Belt and Road initiative, if I’m not mistaken, please give us more information if you available. This corridor that China has been trying to build through Pakistan and now it connects Iran to this road and maybe later Turkey can, you know, get added to this, how do you view this?

Yeah, I mean, actually the Belt and Road Initiative serves two purposes. The first, the most important purpose is to build up infrastructures throughout the world, throughout especially the global south. So, people there can be increased interconnectivity in the world, that that, you know, people make it seems like, oh, China is building a port So China’s increasing its inputs, but look, a port is is open, a port sits on the ocean, It’s open to anyone. You know Chinese can use the Japanese can use, anybody who wants to do business in Iran can use that board. So that’s a point that’s increasingly global interconnectivity includes the increase of global trade, which for some weird reason the US is trying to oppose. I mean, they, they’re the real reason is really about preserving the USA, Germany, but they, they’re really bending backwards to perform all kinds of mental gymnastics to justify why that’s, that’s a bad thing. And I think he shows how desperate they are. But, as you mentioned the Belt and Road Initiative, there’s another purpose of building a road initiative, it is to bypass the US Navy’s chokehold on the, the world, shipping, trade, because, you know, US Navy, makes no, they do not even disguise the fact that they, they, they always talk about the chokehold on the Malacca Strait, which is where most of the Middle East oil flows to East Asia like two countries like China, Japan and Korea, and, and what China is doing is kind of diversify its energies, by, by building pipelines and building roads and rails through, you know through Central Asia through Pakistan to Iran so they, the oil or gas doesn’t have to go, get on tankers and goes through the Strait of Malacca to China, they can maybe go overland and then the trade can also be carried on overland, not having to route to avoid a possible US Navy blockade, you know like what they’re currently doing right now, sending warships to the Persian Gulf, sending worships to the South China Sea, that’s basically the US demonstrating “look I can, I can, you know choke off your lifeline, anytime”, and the Belt and Road Initiative bypasses that by building alternative routes.

Peking is increasing its influence with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which may give India cause for consternation.

https://if-cdn.com/ubIRQ9A?v=1&app=1

Do you think that Delhi may feel left out as the route is not to go through India but through Pakistan or maybe Sri Lanka?

Yeah, I mean, India, feels like the South Asian subcontinent is its own backyard, you know, it feels like you know it feels pressure when China builds a relationship with its neighbors like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal.  But China actually very much want to include India in the Belt and Road Initiative, because India is a huge nation with 1.3 billion people, it’s a large market, and China very much want India to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, by having deepened economic engagement with India. But the problem with India is that if you wants to keep China at arm’s length, because they see this rather than as an opportunity of cooperation and engagement, they see this as some kind of, you know Chinese influence encroaching on other nations. India is also  participating in the so called plod the, you know the cloud of democracy that’s promoted by the United States that’s the US, Japan, Australia, India to form this circle of containment around China, and that will just increase the kind of the friction between, between India and China, but like I said, you know, like, I think Chinese government will be very happy if India just suddenly says we’re going to be on board with the Belt and Road Initiative, you know we love to trade with China, but that’s not happening right now, India has recently banned all the Chinese apps in their market. So, so they’re, they’re following the kind of the US led initiative to decouple from the Chinese economy, and also India had, you know that Iran and India, they had a deal concerning the port of Chabahar. So, so, like India did have this opportunity to, you know, engage with Iran, engage with China, it’s really up to India to decide what they really want.

I think they had payment issues due to US sanctions and that stopped them from developing further. Iran certainly needed this agreement, for certain reasons that you might be aware of. But do you think that China also needed this agreement to happen?

Oh sure, I mean, you know, the whole point of the Belt and Road initiative is, you know, China was to engage more deeply with the global south countries and Iran is a very important strategic country in the Middle East. It sits right by the Persian Gulf, but you know, it sits right across Hormuz Strait, a very strategic point. And so, you know China very much would like to deepen its engagement with Iran, especially right now, when both China and Iran face heavy diplomatic pressure from the United States it makes even more sense for the two sides to to cooperate and, you know, China also wanted, like, kind of, you know, make more inroads into the broader Middle East market because you know, traditionally China imports its energy from the Middle East, including Iran. But right now, you know, China has, has built up a lot of capacity in the past decades, just building out its own domestic infrastructure. And now, China has acquired all this expertise, and all these capacity but China is is being built out in China are people seeing videos of Chinese high speed rails and bridges. Now, all these Chinese companies they have all these expertise and all this capacity. The whole point of the Belt and Road initiative is to invest abroad, you know, to continue to provide opportunities for these Chinese companies to do business abroad, and to export the excessive Chinese capacity, and Iran is a very important country in the Middle East; traditionally Iran is like the centrepiece of the Middle East. It sits right, square, in the middle of the Silk Road and culturally, politically, economically Iran has always been important. So, so for this (reason), I think it’s a major win for China as well.

How do you think this deal can change the geopolitical alignment in the region, what do you think things will change in the region in the next five years?

Yeah, I think, like you said there has always been a relationship between Iran and China. This just makes it more official, you know, traditionally, China has always traded with Iran buying energy, selling everything including weapons. So, but, but it’s more of an ad hoc basis, because there’s almost never like any kind of formal alliance between the two nations, despite both facing the Western pressures, but not now. I think they, this is like the official blessing of the relationship like, let’s, let’s get together, I think it provides a more supportive network, a framework for them to be engaged in a more productive, cooperation.

Now, maybe this deal can give Iran, another bargaining chip by telling the United States okay you’re not going to buy our oil anymore. No problem. We sold it to China. Do you think this is going to help Iran in it negotiations?

Oh yeah, definitely no doubt I mean what China did in a lot of places was to provide an alternative to the World Bank, in that to all these US dominated international institutions, and, now Iran can play that China card like luck. You know it’s not; we’re not coming to you because you are our only option, you know, you can give us a better deal, or we can walk away.  You are totally right that you give yourself a stronger negotiation position at the table.

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Two Ambassadors to Syria with Wildly Different Analyses

MARCH 30 ,2021

By Rick Sterling

Source

In the past few months, Grayzone journalist Aaron Mate has interviewed two former ambassadors to Syria: former UK Ambassador Peter Ford and former U.S. Ambassador Robert S. Ford.  

The two ambassadors have a common surname but dramatically different perspectives. This article will compare the statements and viewpoints of the two diplomats.

UK Ambassador Peter Ford (PF)

Newsnight: Peter Ford warns of 'bloodbath' if Syria's Bashar al-Assad goes  | World | News | Express.co.uk

Peter Ford trained as an Arabist and served in the British foreign service in numerous cities including Beirut, Riyadh, and Cairo. He was Ambassador to Bahrein from 1999 to 2003, then Syria from 2003 to 2006.  From 2006 until 2014 he was a senior officer with the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.  

The interview with UK Amb. Peter Ford (PF) shows why he is exceptional former diplomat. He analyzes and criticizes western aggression against Syria. 

PF describes the current situation:

“The Syrian government forces control about 70% of the country. There’s that pocket of jihadi fighters controlling Idlib province and a couple of patches of neighboring provinces, and then you’ve got the big—what I call the wild east of Syria—the big triangle of land up all the way along the thousand miles along the Turkish border and then down the Iraqi border, and that is effectively a US protectorate. There are US forces there being helped on the ground by basically Kurdish militia, the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces.”

PF describes the crushing economic sanctions:

“It’s utterly shocking…The policy has been effective in the sense that Syrian people are suffering every day. There are long queues for bread, long queues for gasoline. The policy of sanctions and denial of assistance for reconstruction has been effective, but what kind of policy is it that tries to immiserate a whole country? It’s delusional because it’s not even going to work….

“The experience of 10 years of this conflict is that the Syrian government is amazingly resilient. They’ve been on the ropes many times in this conflict and pulled through largely because they have the support of great swaths of the Syrian populace. Assad is not going to buckle under this new increased economic pressure. It is utterly delusional to believe that this cynical, callous policy could work.”

PF analyzes the US troops in north eastern Syria.

“By their mere presence, they’re preventing the advance of the Syrian government forces. The result is that the Syrian people are denied the great oil and grain wealth of that triangle, the territory. And, so the war over the last year has been more an economic war than a military war…

“The troops are there basically as a tripwire, a deterrent, so that if the Syrian government forces advanced, they would trip over a few American soldiers and that would incur the massive intervention of the US Air Force. This is what it comes down to. They don’t even need big numbers of troops to create the tripwire.

“Even so, it’s interesting that the architects of this policy in the permanent government of the US found it necessary to deceive the head of the executive, the President, keep him in the dark about the numbers…. So, the deceit that has gone on—on every level—is jaw-dropping to me as a former ambassador and an insider in the British system. I find it absolutely incredible.”

PF describes what the war is and is NOT about.

“US policy is NOT about installing in Syria a democratic government, because there is no prospect of that while the US is effectively supporting Islamist fanatics, and while it’s supporting elsewhere in the Middle East regimes like the feudal regime of Saudi Arabia. No, it’s not about democracy. It’s about helping Israel on the one hand and scoring points against Russia on the other. And when it comes down to it, that is what this whole war is really about, from the US standpoint.”

PF analyzes accusations Syrian government used chemical weapons.

“The world has amnesia over Iraq, the non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the Colin Powell dossier proof presented to the UN. It’s like Groundhog Day when you hear the claims made about Assad, the use of chemical weapons.

“In the first place, it would make no practical sense for Assad to use chemical weapons; it could only ever have been an own goal. If he wanted to invite heavy Western intervention, he would not have gone about it any other way. You’d have to be incredibly either twisted or delusional to believe that Assad could have been so stupid as to do the one thing—use chemical weapons—which would bring about, or possibly bring about, his obliteration.

“I’m quite convinced this is an elaborate hoax. A series of hoaxes. It’s very revealing that not one of the alleged instances of use of chemical weapons was investigated on the ground by any UN or other international investigations, with the sole exception of Douma. And why Douma? Because that was a piece of territory that the government forces managed to recover immediately after the alleged incident, so that the US and its allies were unable to keep away the international investigators…. That ultimately is the purpose of the chemical weapon hoaxes—to justify the occupation of northeast Syria and the continuing cruel economic pressure.”

PF comments on the senior staff from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons who say they did NOT find evidence of chemical weapons attack and their findings were changed by management.

“These gentlemen [from OPCW]) drafted a report stating that they found evidence that was consistent with staging of an incident, rather than an authentic incident. And ever since, they have been vilified, condemned, undermined. And the campaign against the truth goes on and on and on….”

PF comments on the role of the “White Helmets”.

“The White Helmets’ role is absolutely crucial, pivotal to the Western effort to undermine Syria through these accusations of use of chemical weapons. I think, basically, what happened is that Western governments realized that after the Iraq debacle, that if they were going to use claims about WMD, chemical weapons, whatever, again, they were going to have to produce some kind of smoking gun.

“And this is the role of the White Helmets. They produced the phony pictures of phony incidents which constitute the smoking gun. And that is absolutely pivotal to the propaganda to justify the bombing and the relentless economic and military pressure on Syria…. Western governments [have] been funding the White Helmets to the tune of about $50 million a year. That’s peanuts compared to what they see as the advantages of bringing Syria to its knees.”

PF predicts what may happen ahead.

“I think things are likely to get worse, rather than better.

“What we’ll probably see is simply a continuation of the status quo. The current policies will simply be extended…. to prolong the conflict, to prevent Assad gaining military victory, the continuation of economic warfare to try to bring Assad to his knees and force him to sign a suicide note, which would be acceptance of elections on US terms. I’m sure these policies will be continued.

“But there’s a question mark over whether policy might not become even more adventurous and interventionist with a beachhead of a few thousand soldiers already occupying part of Syria. I greatly fear that Biden might be tempted to increase those numbers, put some military pressure on the Syrian government forces, create more no-fly zones. Already, there’s effectively a no-fly zone over that big triangle of territory that’s occupied by the US forces and Kurdish allies. An attempt might be made to create the no-fly zone of Idlib, which would be ironic. It would mean that the US Air Force was the air wing of al-Qaeda…

“I’m definitely not optimistic. And I fear things could get even worse.”

US Ambassador Robert S. Ford (RSF)

Two Ambassadors to Syria with Wildly Different Analyses - LA Progressive

Robert S. Ford was a U.S. diplomat in numerous cities including Algiers and Cairo. He was Deputy Chief of Mission in Bahrein from 2001 to 2004, then Political Counselor at the US Embassy in Baghdad from 2004 to 2006. As an Arabic speaker,  he may have helped Ambassador John Negroponte launch the “El Salvador option” (death squads) in Iraq.  Robert S. Ford was Ambassador to Syria from the end of 2010 until 2014 when the US terminated diplomatic relations with Syria. He has continued as an unofficial advisor on Syria policy.

In contrast with the Peter Ford interview, the interview with US Ambassador Robert S. Ford (RSF) is a case study in public relations. Interviewer Aaron Mate asks important questions but RSF deflects the questions, claims ignorance of new revelations, and repeats standard talking points on Syria.

RSF acknowledges there has been “mission creep” for US troops in Syria.

“American troops were sent into Syria originally to fight ISIS.  Now that that job is more-or-less finished, we have a sort of mission creep where now the American forces are there not to defeat ISIS—ISIS is already defeated…   But now, so what are the Americans doing?  Well, now they sort of changed the mission to putting pressure on Damascus, the Assad government, trying to get the Iranians out, trying to limit the Russian influence.”

RSF implies the sanctions on Syria are just.

“Sanctions is a different question, Aaron.  I think a lot of it is emotional here in the United States.  There’s a desperate desire for justice after all the war crimes committed in Syria.  And I think getting rid of the sanctions is going to be a much harder battle to fight in the Congress.  So, the sanctions have very strong approval in Congress…”

RSF maintains the initial protests were “almost entirely peaceful”

“In March and April, May into June, the protests were almost entirely peaceful. That’s not to say there was no violence.  In the first protest, for example, in Daraa, in which we’re now coming up on the 10-year anniversary, yeah, the protesters did attack the telephone office [Syriatel] that’s owned by Bashar al-Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf.  They did attack a court building…”

[Fact check: RSF neglects to mention seven police were killed in the “almost entirely peaceful” Daraa protest.]

RSF acknowledges US allies were sending weapons early but claims the US began sending weapons in 2013.

“Those countries [Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey] did send in weapons before the Americans…

 “I supported arming factions of the Free Syrian Army as early as the summer of 2012.  And it took the president a year to get to a decision.”

[Fact check: US Central Intelligence Agency was sending weapons from Benghazi Libya to Syria in Oct 2011.]

RSF compares the Free Syrian Army to the anti-Nazi resistance in WW2.

“The United States never gave anti-tank weapons to al-Qaeda…. the number might be half a dozen.

“I want you to think about this in historical context. Do you think when the Americans airdropped weapons into the French resistance against the Nazis in France, do you think the Nazis never got their hands on any of those air drops?… 

“The leakage to the al-Qaeda elements, there was a small amount of leakage, but much, much, much more of their weaponry came from the Assad government, either, because the Assad soldiers were corrupt, as we said, we talked at the start about corruption.  They sold them, or in some cases, they surrendered, and with that, huge caches of weaponry made their way into al-Nusra hands.  The amount of material that al-Nusra got from the United States wouldn’t have lasted them for a day of combat.”

Fact check:  This claim is preposterous. As reported by Janes Defense, the US supplied nearly one thousand TONS of weapons in December 2015, much of which ended up in Nusra (Al Qaeda) hands. Nusra obtained weapons when they over-ran Syrian military bases, but otherwise they were amply supplied with weapons by the Gulf monarchies, Israel, Turkey, the US and UK. 

RSF claims the Syrian government has primary responsibility for the war and are the “bad guys”.  

“What I hope your listeners will take away from this is that it is not an equal combat on both sides; is not an equal responsibility on both sides.  One side from the beginning was using torture and shooting at innocent people, thousands of arrests.  And one side was trying peacefully, for a very large part, to bring about change.  And, unfortunately, in this instance, the bad guys won.”

Fact check:  The campaign against Syria has been waged by a coalition of western powers, Turkey, Israel and the Gulf monarchies. About 121 thousand Syrians in the Syrian army and militias have died defending their country.

RSF claims that Syria is responsible for the war refugees and destabilizing its neighbors.

“Even had Turkey, Qatar and the United States, Saudi Arabia, stayed out of it, there still would have been huge refugee flows trying to escape from those same brutal Syrian security forces, and they still would have flooded the borders of Lebanon and Jordan and of Turkey, which is itself destabilizing, particularly in Lebanon, but some places like Jordan, Turkey.  Therefore, you can’t just say that all these other countries intervened in sovereign Syrian territory.  The Syrian government itself was taking actions which were destabilizing to its neighbors.”

Fact check: Most refugees fled when their neighborhoods were taken over by militants and became battle zones, NOT because they were afraid of Syrian security.

RSF criticizes Turkey but thinks Syrian government bears primary responsibility.

“I’m never going to justify the Turks allowing Salafi jihadists to go into Syria.  I think that I’ve already said that that was a bad mistake.  And we criticized them at the time of playing with snakes.  I’m never going to justify it.  But I have to say, Aaron, that in the end, they came in response to what the Assad government was already doing.  And so, the principal responsibility … do the Americans have a share of responsibility?  Of course, we do.  Yeah.  It was our anti-tank missiles blowing up Syrian government tanks, and not just a few; I mean, hundreds of them.

“I think we have to go back to where it started in 2011.  And that’s with the Syrian government…”

RSF says he is not aware of the huge scandal at the OPCW but believes Syria has used chemical weapons.

“I’m not familiar with that controversy within the OPCW…. 

“But I guess I would just say this, Aaron.  There’s plenty of documentation by the UN’s joint investigative group with the OPCW that looked at incidents in Syria chemical weapons use, from 2013 onwards.  They’ve issued several reports…. So, the 2018 incident, I don’t know about that report, but I have no doubt whatsoever that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons on multiple instances, the same government that bombs hospitals, the same government that bombs bakeries, the same government that kills people in detention routinely.  Look at the photos that were brought up by the military defector.  You know, why would you think they wouldn’t use chemical weapons?  Why would you think they would suddenly have moral scruples against these?   It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

[Fact check: the OPCW scandal has confirmed manipulation of that organization by the US and west. The “military photographer” refers to the ‘Caesar torture photos’ propaganda stunt.]

RSF wants to increase humanitarian aid to Syria refugees.

“Something the Americans could do that would be hugely helpful is to increase humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees that number some five million, particularly in Lebanon, where their living circumstances are precarious, very precarious, but also in Jordan and Turkey…  I’d like to spend less on the military operation and much more on humanitarian aid.

“And then there is the issue of Northwest Syria, Idlib, where the UN is in charge of an operation getting humanitarian aid to some two million displaced Syrian civilians.”

[Fact check and observation:  Idlib province is dominated by Nusra (Al Qaeda). Robert Ford seems to want to perpetuate the AQ stronghold and refugee crisis by supplying aid to Idlib and foreign countries while preventing return of refugees and rebuilding war torn Syria.]

Conclusion

Both ambassadors speak Arabic and have intimate knowledge of Syria.

Robert S. Ford criticizes some past decisions and tactics, but not the assumptions or right of the US to violate the UN Charter and commit aggression against Syria.

Meanwhile, Peter Ford is doing his best to expose the reality of the situation, contrary to government and media bias and falsehoods. Like Daniel Ellsberg, Scott Ritter and Katharine Gun, he is using his special knowledge to publicly challenge the claims and assumptions of western policy. With Ellsberg it was about Vietnam. With Ritter and Gun, it was about Iraq. With Peter Ford, it is about Syria.

The full interview with UK Ambassador Peter Ford is well worth watching or reading.

China Isn’t the Problem, Neoliberalism Is

APRIL 2, 2021

BY ROB URIE

The ascendance of Wall Street, and of a managerial bureaucracy (PMC) more generally, largely explains the political realignments that have been playing out in the U.S. Beginning in the 1970s, the American political class made decisions at the behest of business interests and oligarchs to restructure the U.S. economy in ways intended to shift the balance of political and economic power towards capital. Finance was, and still is, the method of affecting this transfer of power. However, the current epoch of finance capitalism has run its course. Its logic has been lost. The threats to the neoliberal order are now internal to it.

Bi-partisan claims that China is a growing economic and military threat to the U.S. places economic competition within the national frame that American capitalists have spent the last five decades arguing is no longer relevant because of globalization. This posture of a unified national interest follows several decades of American industrialists cum financiers doing everything they can to concentrate wealth and power for themselves. Now, having done so, the frame of ‘nation’ is being opportunistically reasserted to claim a unified national interest to oppose ‘foreign’ competition. However, China didn’t pass NAFTA and China didn’t bail out Wall Street.

Graph: the top contributors to U.S. GDP are also the beneficiaries of government bailouts and favorable policies. This may seem reasonable until you consider that they might not be the top contributors to U.S. GDP without bailouts and favorable policies. Contrast this with manufacturing that has been shedding workers as the result of trade policies. The balance between the people who make stuff and those who facilitate the making of stuff has grown top-heavy as a result of these policies. This imbalance threatens economic stability. Source: statista.

The contours of current U.S. political divisions can be seen in the graph above. The top three sectors in terms of contribution to GDP by industry are finance, professional services and government. Manufacturing has declined as a relative contributor just as the neoliberal program intended. Unionized industrial jobs have been replaced with non-unionized service jobs. The PMC is the functionary class facilitating this shift as it assumes roles as, and managing, service sector workers. It is the representative face of capital as manufacturing has been migrated abroad. The ‘anti-labor left’ that has emerged in the U.S. since the 1990s is concentrated within the PMC.

The latter point isn’t meant to be gratuitous. In descriptive terms, a central goal of liberalism is to make capitalism fair. However, fairness in capitalist terms is that .0000000000001% of the population owns half of the national wealth. This is equitable distribution in capitalist theory. So, liberalism wants to make the system where .000000000001% of the population owns half of the wealth fair without changing the system or redistributing wealth. Inclusivity— the ‘level playing field,’ is the metric of fairness. Support for labor, and the power of labor, is a challenge to that system of distribution. It balances the power of employers. But it is antithetical to neoliberalism.

Caution needs to be applied in considering the actual economic contribution of finance. In the first, the GDP arithmetic is Price X Quantity = Output. Government support for finance has resulted in a very large rise in ‘P’ in finance and professional services. Pay levels (‘P’) in these industries have risen as they have stagnated or declined for ‘ordinary’ service workers. This represents the concentration of economic power, not the production of the stuff that money can buy. The tautology that people are paid the value of what they produce gets turned around when bankers create most of the money.

The size of finance relative to the making of actual stuff is a case of the proverbial tail wagging the dog. The theoretical justification for its existence is as facilitator of the productive economy. As facilitator, its ‘cut’ should be a small fraction of what is produced. The same is true of the PMC whose role is to manage the production of stuff and the provision of services. What has been effectively created in the U.S. is a bureaucratic neo-feudalism where nominal facilitators take most of what is produced globally for themselves. The rising power of China is seen as a threat to this practice.

The imperial-colonial frame of ‘managerialism’ is of an elite class that organizes the labor of colonial subjects who are constitutionally incapable of organizing their own economic production. Modern managerial practices were first conceived and implemented to ‘manage’ slaves on American plantations. The 1990s narrative of neoliberalism was of American managers organizing global economic production. This explains in part the willingness of industrialists and the U.S. political ‘leadership’ to send industrial production abroad. The result: an eviscerated and immiserated domestic working-class now lorded over by wildly overpaid and self-congratulatory bureaucrats.

This economic taxonomy has thus far left out the petite bourgeois shopkeeps who Gramsci identified a century ago as the reactionary core of European fascism. While the prevalence of small business is often overstated through the inclusion of branch offices of large corporations, small business owners exist on the front-line of capitalist mythology. And they are often the victims of its ordinary tendency toward economic concentration. Most small businesses fail very quickly. Those that succeed feed a myth of self-reliance that turns to resentment when power or happenstance turn against them.

The fragility of the global ‘supply chain,’ the dependence of billions of people on the interdependence of globalized production, was brought to the fore through shortages caused by the pandemic. In fact, people who are dependent on international trade for critical supplies like food, energy, medical supplies, etc. are vulnerable to the whims of predictable and unpredictable forces. The power dynamic of this manufactured ‘state of nature’ is of economic dependencies to which screws are then applied. In good times, this leverage is used to enforce favorable terms of trade. In bad, famines and world wars are its product.

Since the pandemic began a large number of small businesses have gone under and large enterprises like automobile makers that made themselves reliant on global supply chains have been forced to limit production. On the one hand, the pandemic is a rare enough occurrence in recent history to have made planning for it a low-payoff endeavor for businesses. On the other hand, prior epochs of globalization ended quite poorly for related reasons. Economic dependencies are sources of political and economic leverage. Economic warfare tends to be taken with offense by those on its receiving end.

With globalization under reconsideration by economists in the West, the intersection of state with business interests is being restated in geopolitical terms. The base charge is against the utopian ‘one-world’ version of global capitalism that grew to prominence in the U.S. in the 1990s. In this version, an adjunct of the Marshall Plan capitalism that followed WWII, global trade would produce political integration to facilitate the economic integration undertaken between trading partners. This theory requires near-total ignorance of the impact of the Great Depression on global trade and its contribution to the rise of European fascism.

The newly restated frame of globalization whereby business interests represent the vanguard of state interests is (descriptively) liberal politics attached to a liberal theory of the state. Posed as an answer to the charge of globalization utopianism, it relies on the imagined history of the early capitalist theorists. ‘The state’ is neither singular, nor has its non-singularity been static across time. The American state has spent the last five decades in league with oligarchs to support their interests. In contrast, the Chinese state— motivated in part by a desire for political stability, has concentrated on raising living standards for the Chinese people.

In Western economic theory ‘Mercantilism’ is the integrated state-private enterprise whereby state power is used to support the expansion of business interests. The sleight-of-hand used to bring ‘us’ from this earlier period to the present is an imagined starting point where economic power was equitably redistributed in the way needed to make capitalism ‘fair.’ If Western states supported the accrual of private wealth— which many did, then capitalism was rigged from the start. At any rate, the fantasy of the clean break of capitalism from state support is just that, a fantasy. Otherwise, when did it occur? Please be specific.

More recently, the Obama administration rebuilt Wall Street under the theory that it would serve as a vanguard against growing Chinese political power. That Wall Street, in league with PMC neoliberals, spent three-plus decades outsourcing U.S. military production to China illustrates the not-well-thought-outness of economic liberalism with respect to so-called national interests. While most of the anti-China rhetoric in the U.S. is for domestic political consumption, the idea that the U.S. would launch a military conflict against China while it is dependent on military production from it illustrates the shallow logic of neoliberalism.

To bring this back around, Wall Street was rebuilt (in 2009) to serve the state interests that it effectively controls. This makes it true that capitalism is a projection of state power without answering the question of the nature of state power. The U.S. war against Iraq is a modern example of state power being used to assure a steady supply of oil for Western oil companies. All of the current U.S. geopolitical flash-points— Iran, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Ukraine, Russia, etc. tie to the resource needs of capitalist enterprises. The Bush administration stated publicly that Iraq played no role in 9/11— a geopolitical event, while it used the attack as a pretext for its war against Iraq.

The ‘political’ question within the U.S. from the perspective of citizens in an allegedly democratic nation is: what makes the economic interests of wealthy bankers any more worthy of state support than anyone else? In fact, banks make loans that create a legal obligation to repay. Debt has been used as a geopolitical weapon for centuries. Its utility as a weapon lies in the legal obligation to repay it. Failure to repay can be used to seize assets and / or assume a controlling interest in far more valuable enterprises. In this sense, debt joins other economic dependencies— such as fragile and tenuous global supply chains, as potential weapons in power politics.

Graph: one way to explain student debt is as the failure of the state to educate its people. Along with housing and transportation, in economic terms household debt represents costs of production borne by workers. And rising household debt in the face of stagnant wages means a falling capacity for ‘political’ self-determination. Source: New York Fed.

This isn’t to argue that debt is universally or intrinsically bad. It is to make the point that U.S. policy makers have long understood that it is a geopolitical ‘tool.’ Austerity is a term used to describe the economic conditions imposed by the IMF on debtor countries to force them to accept neoliberal reforms. However, if these reforms are mutually beneficial, why are countries being forced to accept them? Additionally, ‘countries’ are historically and legally contingent entities. From the side of power, oligarchs and political leaders benefit from the political leverage that indebtedness provides them.

For oligarchs, corporate executives and workers in industries favored by government policies and bailouts, neoliberalism is producing its promised benefits. That these benefits are the product of, or more minimally, associated with, specific government policies and largesse points to the role of ‘the state’ in economic outcomes. The IMF has long represented the economic interests of large banks along with the political interests of state representatives in the Federal government. This is an integrated relationship, not a matter of serendipity. The banks make loans, a business decision, after which the IMF forces reforms that assure both the repayment of money owed and future business for the banks.

What is being brought into focus is the growth in class privilege that is created through the integration of state with private power. There is no logical reason in purely political terms for the oil industry to have a say in U.S. foreign policy, for agricultural conglomerates to have a say in agricultural policy, or for the health care industry to have a say in healthcare policy. In ‘political’ terms, these are realms to be legislated by and for citizens, not corporations. And yet these industries determine policy. They not only determine it, but in many cases, they write the actual legislation.

The short-sightedness of elevating the alleged facilitators of capitalism—finance, professional services and government, has a bloated, lemon-socialist quality in that the question of how people get by in the world ultimately impacts the political-economic order. That this elevation is tied through policy and history to ‘freeing’ industrial workers to compete internationally while creating a large working class of service workers who labor for less than a living wage without benefits, gives a distinctive class character to this elevation. That managerialism is tied to the imperial / colonial projects through hierarchies of labor crafted through dubious distinctions adds to this class dimension.

This all ties back to the question of globalization through complicating the (descriptively) liberal conceptions of both ‘the state’ and capital. It is telling that a central role of U.S. presidents has been to sell wars of economic conquest as having geopolitical motives. One of Howard Zinn’s contributions in A People’s History of the United States was to ascribe economic motives to American ‘political’ history. Adam Tooze did an admirable job in The Wages of Destruction detailing the economic motives of the Nazis. In class terms, the PMC now plays the reactionary role of the petite bourgeoisie described by Gramsci in the 1920s. That didn’t end well.

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is published by CounterPunch Books.

Maria Zakharova : weekly briefing with a US history

April 01, 2021

اتفاق استراتيجي بين إيران والصين لربع قرن.. ماذا في الدلالات والتوقيت؟ A strategic agreement between Iran and China for a quarter of a century. for a quarter of a century.

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

When Tehran, Beijing and Moscow decide to unite together

When Tehran, Beijing, and Moscow decide to come together in the face of destructive foreign policies of successive U.S. administrations, the White House must inevitably calculate the consequences.

Iran and China are moving beyond a new phase of bilateral relations, after years of talks and discussions put the points on the letters within the framework of a strategic cooperation document in all fields, while China is advancing in an upward, strong and rapid way to the consolidation of the global economy, and Iran has huge energy resources and prospers scientifically and is active industrially, and here liesthe importance of convergence between them.

The two sides describe this document as a roadmap for the future of bilateral relations, its provisions include trade, economic, military, and cultural cooperation in a way that gives the two sides mutual privileges in accordance with the mutual profit equation.

The agreement details cooperation from crude oil and nuclear power to railways, telecommunications, banking and the use of the national currency, to Iran’s role in the Belt and Road Initiative.

It is an agreement of great geopolitical importance because it also includes the exchange of military expertise, defense capabilities, security cooperation and support in international    forums.

It is true that economic cooperation is the cornerstone of this treaty, but according to observers it is a political challenge to the common adversaries of the two countries, and it opens the door to a new kind of confrontation against the European-Americancamp.

The importance of the agreement lies not only in substance, in the form of the timing of a thousand accounts as well, where China simultaneously is subjected to threats from the United States and Iran to sanctions and Russia to blockade. With the signing of the cooperation agreement, it highlights the role Tehran will play in the horizon of this agreement, which will serve as a benefit to its growingrole.

Iran’s important location, located on the land route of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, gives it an opportunity to link to regional infrastructure, which is inseparable from port andrail networks.

On this basis, the above will reflect huge economic gains, but also a strategy that is no less important than economic ones, as deepening Iran’s ties to regional infrastructure will result in international interests in defending Iran to counter U.S.policies.

On the other hand, China’s military and economic expansion and technological superiority are the most feared by Washington and its officials, and reducing Chinese influence has become one of the top priorities of the new U.S. administration.

The United States sees China as its biggest threat, and to its leading position in the world, its president Joe Biden  has positioned since entering the White House to outdo China and prevent it from expanding further on the international scene as its first target.

U.S. concern stems from a reality in which China has imposed its power, through its success in gradually expanding and considering with reliable allies such as Iran, Russia and others, as well as raising the level of its military readiness.

China’s access to Iranian ports as part of a strategy of access to as many seaports as possible limits U.S. dominance in the Gulf as Chinese presence, specifically at the port of Jask near the Strait of Hormuz, is limited by U.S. Fifth Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain.

China’s expansion comes on the heels of the failure of the Alaska-U.S. meetings, the first between the two parties under Biden, in the absence of common ground for understanding, and the tyranny of sharpness on bilateral talks, which were punctuated by an unprecedented verbal scathing, during which Beijing’s behavior was evident on the basis of the club.

These are important strategic shifts in China’s policy toward the world order and regional politics and evidence that the increasing deterioration in relations between Washington and Beijing is no longer manageable and, according to observers, threatens to widen theconfrontation.

“The partnership with China allows Iran to support its economy very much,” said Jamal Wakim, a professor of history and internationalrelations.

“The Iran-China partnership allows the heart of Eurasia to be closed to U.S. penetration,” Wakim said, noting that “seaports are essential for controlling navigation routes and international trade.”

“There is strategic integration between Iran, China and Russia on geopolitical issues,” Wakim said, noting that “Washington’s problem is that it wants absolute dominance on the course of things in theworld.”

“Washington is afraid of Chinese expansion,” said Khaled Sfouri, political advisor at the Meridian Center for Strategic Studies, adding that “America fears that China’s economic progress will turn into politicalinfluence.”

“China is a key economic partner ofthe United States thatcannot be easily abandoned,” he said, adding that “The Chinese influence that is entering the areas of American influence is makingthe clash between the two sidessoon.”

“If the Russian-Chinese agreement is signed, there is hope that the trilateral alliance with Iran will become a trilateral alliance with Iran, “said Imad Absinas, editor-in-chief of Iran Diplomat, noting that “the formation of the Trilateral Sino-Iranian-Russian alliance will be a source of danger toAmerica.”

“According to the agreement, Iran will be theheart of East-West trade,” Hesaid, noting that “the agreement stipulates that China will produce a lot of goods in Iran.”

“If Washington wants to continue its policy of imposing its will on the world, it will lose a lot,” He said, adding that “the Israeli-American and Saudi media reflects the extent of anger over the Iran-China  agreement.”

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إيران والصين توقعان الوثيقة الشاملة للتعاون لمدة 25 عاما

عندما تقرر طهران وبكين وموسكو الاتحاد معاً في مواجهة سياسات خارجية مدمرة للإدارات الأميركية المتعاقبة، فعلى البيت الأبيض حتماً احتساب العواقب

عندما تقرر طهران وبكين وموسكو الاتحاد معاً

واشنطن حددت خصومها، فاختاروا التقارب رداً طبيعياً لمن يرفض الهمينة الأميركية 

المصدر: الميادين

27 آذار 23:18


تخط إيران والصين مرحلة جديدة من العلاقات الثنائية، فبعد سنوات من المحادثات والنقاشات وضع الطرفان النقاط على الحروف في إطار وثيقة تعاون استراتيجية في المجالات كافة، فيما تتقدم الصين على نحو متصاعد وقوي وسريع لتتسيد الاقتصاد العالمي، وإيران تملك موارد ضخمة للطاقة وتزدهر علمياً وتنشط صناعياً، وهنا تكمن أهمية التقارب بينهما.

يصف الطرفان هذه الوثيقة بخارطة الطريق لمستقبل العلاقات الثنائية، فبنودها تشمل التعاون تجارياً واقتصادياً وعسكرياً وثقافياً بشكل يمنح الطرفين امتيازات متبادلة وفق معادلة الربح المتبادل.

تتحدث الاتفاقية بالتفصيل عن أوجه التعاون من النفط الخام والطاقة النووية إلى سكك الحديد والاتصالات والعمل المصرفي واستخدام العملة الوطنية، وصولاً إلى دور إيران في مبادرة الحزام والطريق.

هي اتفاقية تمتلك أهمية جيوسياسية كبرى لكونها تشمل أيضاً تبادل خبرات عسكرية وقدرات دفاعية وتعاوناً أمنياً واسناداً في المحافل الدولية. لا بل أكثر من ذلك، هو اتفاق على توسيع التعاون بين الجامعات وأقسام التكنولوجيا والعلوم والسياحة.

صحيح أن التعاون الاقتصادي يشكل عمود الأساس في المعاهدة هذه، إلا أنه بحسب مراقبين يعتبر تحدياً سياسياً لخصوم البلدين المشتركين، وهو يفتح الباب على نوع جديد من المواجهة ضد المعسكر الأوروبي الأميركي.

ولا تكمن أهمية الاتفاقية في المضمون فقط، ففي الشكل يحسب للتوقيت ألف حساب أيضاً، حيث بالتزامن تتعرض الصين للتهديدات الأميركية وإيران للعقوبات وروسيا للحصار. ومع توقيع اتفاقية التعاون، يسلط الضوء على الدور الذي ستؤديه طهران في أفق هذا الاتفاق الذي سيصب لمصلحة تعاظم دورها.

فموقع إيران المهم الذي يقع على المسار البري لمبادرة الحزام والطريق الصينية، يمنحها فرصة للارتباط بالبنية التحتية الإقليمية، وهو ما لا ينفصل عن شبكات الموانئ والسكك الحديدية.

على هذا الأساس، سينعكس ما سبق وفق مراقبين مكاسب اقتصادية ضخمة، لا بل استراتيجية أيضاً لا تقل أهمية عن الاقتصادية منها، فتعميق الارتباط الإيراني بالبنية التحتية الإقليمية سينتج مصالح دولية في الدفاع عن إيران لمواجهة السياسات الأميركية.

من الناحية الأخرى، فإن التوسع العسكري والإقتصادي للصين وتفوقها التكنولوجي، أكثر ما تخشاه واشنطن والمسؤولين فيها، حتى بات الحد من النفوذ الصيني أحد أبرز الأولويات للإدارة الأميركية الجديدة.

ترى الولايات المتحدة في الصين التهديد الأكبر لها، ولموقعها القيادي في العالم، رئيسها جو بايدن وضع منذ دخوله البيت الأبيض التفوق على الصين ومنعها من التوسع أكثر على الساحة الدولية هدفاً أولاً له.

القلق الأميركي ينبع من واقع فرضت فيه الصين قوتها، عبر نجاحها في التوسع التدريجي والمدروس مع حلفاء موثوقين مثل ايران وروسيا  وغيرهما إضافة إلى رفع مستوى جهوزيتها العسكرية.

كذلك، فإن وصول الصين إلى الموانئ الإيرانية ضمن استراتيجية تقوم على النفاذ إلى أكبر عدد ممكن من الموانئ البحرية، يحد من الهيمنة الأميركية في الخليج حيث اقترب الحضور الصيني، وتحديداً في ميناء “جاسك” القريب من مضيق هرمز من مقر الأسطول الخامس الأميركي في البحرين.

توسع صيني يأتي على وقع فشل اجتماعات ألاسكا بين الصين وأميركا، الأول بين الطرفين في عهد بايدن، في ظل غياب أرضية مشتركة للتفاهم، وطغيان الحدة على المحادثات الثنائية، التي تخللها تراشق كلامي لم يسبق له مثيل، وبدا واضحاً أثناءها تصرف بكين على أساس الندية.

هي تحولات استراتيجية مهمة في السياسة الصينية تجاه النظام العالمي والسياسات الإقليمية ودليل على أن التدهور الذي يتزايد في العلاقات بين واشنطن وبكين، لم يعد ممكنا ضبطه، وبات ينذر، وفق مراقبين، باتساع رقعة المواجهة.

أستاذ التاريخ والعلاقات الدولية جمال واكيم، قال إن “الشراكة مع الصين تتيح لإيران أن تدعم اقتصادها جداً”.

وفي حديث للميادين، أضاف واكيم، أن “الشراكة الإيرانية الصينية تتيح إغلاق قلب أوراسيا أمام التغلغل الأميركي”، مشيراً إلى أن “الموانئ البحرية أساسية للسيطرة على طرق الملاحة والتجارة الدولية”.

من جهته، قال المستشار السياسي لمركز ميريديان للدراسات الاستراتيجية خالد صفوري، قال إن “واشنطن تخشى من التوسع الصيني”، موضحاً أن “أميركا تخشى أن يتحول التقدم الاقتصادي الصيني إلى نفوذ سياسي”.

صفوري أكد للميادين، أن “الصين شريك اقتصادي أساسي للولايات المتحدة لا تستطيع التخلي عنها بسهولة”، معتبراً أن “النفوذ الصيني الذي بدأ يدخل مناطق النفوذ الأميركي يجعل الصدام بين الطرفين قريباً”.

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US/NATO vs. Russia-China in a hybrid war to the finish

US/NATO vs. Russia-China in a hybrid war to the finish

March 27, 2021

The unipolar moment is six feet under, the hegemon will try to break Eurasian integration and there’s no grownup in the room to counsel restraint

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Let’s start with comic relief: the “leader of the free world” has pledged to prevent China from becoming the “leading” nation on the planet. And to fulfill such an exceptional mission, his “expectation” is to run again for president in 2024. Not as a hologram. And fielding the same running mate.

Now that the “free world” has breathed a sigh of relief, let’s return to serious matters – as in the contours of the Shocked and Awed 21st Century Geopolitics.

What happened in the past few days between Anchorage and Guilin continues to reverberate. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Brussels “destroyed” the relationship between Russia and the EU, he focused on how the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership is getting stronger and stronger.

Not so casual synchronicity revealed that as Lavrov was being properly hosted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Guilin – scenic lunch in the Li river included -, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken was visiting NATO’s James-Bondish HQ outside Brussels.

Lavrov made it quite clear that the core of Russia-China revolves around establishing an economic and financial axis to counterpunch the Bretton Woods arrangement. That implies doing everything to protect Moscow and Beijing from “threats of sanctions by other states”; progressive de-dollarization; and advances in crypto-currency.

This “triple threat” is what is unleashing the Hegemon’s unbounded fury.

On a broader spectrum, the Russia-China strategy also implies that the progressive interaction between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) will keep apace across Central Asia, Southeast Asia, parts of South Asia, and Southwest Asia – necessary steps towards an ultimately unified Eurasian market under a sort of strategic Sino-Russo management.

In Alaska, the Blinken-Sullivan team learned, at their expense, that you don’t mess with a Yoda such as Yang Jiechi with impunity. Now they’re about to learn what it means to mess with Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Security Council.

Patrushev, as much a Yoda as Yang Jiechi, and a master of understatement, delivered a not so cryptic message: if the US created “though days” for Russia, as they “are planning that, they can implement that”, Washington “would be responsible for the steps that they would take”.

What NATO is really up to

Meanwhile, in Brussels, Blinken was enacting a Perfect Couple  routine with spectacularly inefficient head of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen. The script went something like this. “Nord Stream 2 is really bad for you. A trade/investment deal with China is really bad for you. Now sit. Good girl.”

Then came NATO, which put on quite a show, complete with an all-Foreign Minister tough guy pose in front of the HQ. That was part of a summit – which predictably did not “celebrate” the 10th anniversary of NATO’s destruction of Libya or the major ass-kicking NATO “endured” in Afghanistan.

In June 2020, NATO’s cardboard secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg – actually his US military handlers – laid out what is now known as the NATO 2030 strategy, which boils down to a Global Robocop politico-military mandate. The Global South has (not) been warned.

In Afghanistan, according to a Stoltenberg impervious to irony, NATO supports infusing “fresh energy into the peace process”. At the summit, NATO ministers also discussed Middle East and Northern Africa and – with a straight face – looked into “what more NATO could do to build stability in the region”. Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Libyans, Malians would love to learn something about that.

Post-summit, Stoltenberg delivered a proverbially somnolent press conference where the main focus was – what else – Russia, and its “pattern for repressive behavior at home, aggressive behavior abroad”.

All the rhetoric about NATO “building stability” vanishes when one examines what’s really behind NATO 2030, via a meaty “recommendation” report written by a bunch of “experts”

Here we learn the three essentials:

1. “The Alliance must respond to Russian threats and hostile actions (…) without a return to ‘business as usual’ barring alterations in Russia’s aggressive behavior and its return to full compliance with international law.”

2. China is depicted as a tsunami of “security challenges”: “The Alliance should infuse the China challenge throughout existing structures and consider establishing a consultative body to discuss all aspects of Allies’ security interests vis-à-vis China”. The emphasis is to “defend against any Chinese activities that could impact collective defense, military readiness or resilience in the Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility.”

3. “NATO should outline a global blueprint (italics mine) for better utilizing its partnerships to advance NATO strategic interests. It should shift from the current demand-driven approach to an interest-driven approach (italics mine) and consider providing more stable and predictable resource streams for partnership activities. NATO’s Open Door Policy should be upheld and reinvigorated. NATO should expand and strengthen partnerships with Ukraine and Georgia.”

Here’s to The Triple Threat. Yet the Top of the Pops – as in fat, juicy industrial-military complex contracts – is really here:

The most profound geopolitical challenge is posed by Russia. While Russia is by economic and social measures a declining power, it has proven itself capable of territorial aggression and is likely to remain a chief threat facing NATO over the coming decade.

NATO may be redacting, but the master script comes straight from the Deep State – complete with Russia “seeking hegemony”; expanding Hybrid War (the concept was actually invented by the Deep State); and manipulating “cyber, state-sanctioned assassinations, and poisonings – using chemical weapons, political coercion, and other methods to violate the sovereignty of Allies.”

Beijing for its part is using “force against its neighbors, as well as economic coercion and intimidatory diplomacy well beyond the Indo-Pacific region. Over the coming decade, China will likely also challenge NATO’s ability to build collective resilience.”

The Global South should be very much aware of NATO’s pledge to save the “free world” from these autocratic evils.

The NATO interpretation of “South” encompasses North Africa and the Middle East, in fact everywhere from sub-Saharan Africa to Afghanistan. Any similarity with the presumably defunct “Greater Middle East” concept of the Dubya era is not an accident.

NATO insists this vast expanse is characterized by “fragility, instability, and insecurity” – of course refusing to disclose its own role as serial instability perpetrator in Libya, Iraq, parts of Syria and Afghanistan.

Because ultimately…it’s all Russia’s fault: “To the South, the challenge includes the presence of Russia and to a lesser extent China, exploiting regional fragilities. Russia has reinserted itself in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. In 2015, it intervened in the Syrian Civil War and remains there. Russia’s Middle East policy is likely to exacerbate tensions and political strife across the region as it extends an increasing amount of political, financial, operational, and logistical assets to its partners. China’s influence across the Middle East is also growing. It signed a strategic partnership with Iran, is the largest importer of crude oil from Iraq, wedged itself into the Afghanistan peace process, and is the biggest foreign investor in the region.”

Here, in a nutshell, and not exactly in code, is the NATO road map all the way to 2030 to harass and try to dismantle every relevant nook and cranny of Eurasia integration, especially those directly linked to New Silk Roads infrastructure/connectivity projects (investment in Iran, reconstruction of Syria, reconstruction of Iraq, reconstruction of Afghanistan).

The spin is on a “360-degree approach to security” that will “become an imperative”. Translation: NATO is coming for large swathes of the Global South, big time, under the pretense of “addressing both the traditional threats emanating from this region like terrorism and new risks, including the growing presence of Russia, and to a lesser extent China.”

Hybrid war on two fronts

And to think that in a not so distant past there used to be some flashes of lucidity emanating from the US establishment.

Very few will remember that in 1993 James Baker, former Secretary of State under Daddy Bush, advanced the idea of expanding NATO to Russia, which at the time, under Yeltsin and a gang of Milton Friedmanesque free marketeers, was devastated, but ruled by “democracy”. Yet Bill Clinton was already in power, and the idea was duly discarded.

Six years later, no less than George Kennan – who invented the containment of the USSR in the first place – determined that the NATO annexation of former Soviet satellites was “the beginning of a new Cold War” and “a tragic mistake”.

It’s immensely enlightening to relieve and re-study the whole decade between the fall of the USSR and the election of Putin to the presidency through the venerable Yevgeny Primakov’s book Russian Crossroads: Toward the New Millenium, published in the US by Yale University Press.

Primakov, the ultimate intel insider who started as a Pravda correspondent in the Middle East, former Foreign Minister and also Prime Minister, looked closely into Putin’s soul, repeatedly, and liked what he saw: a man of integrity and a consummate professional. Primakov was a multilateralist avant la lettre, the conceptual instigator of RIC (Russia-India-China) which in the next decade evolved towards BRICS.

Those were the days – exactly 22 years ago – when Primakov was on a plane to Washington when he picked up a call by then Vice-President Al Gore: the US was about to start bombing Yugoslavia, a slav-orthodox Russian ally, and there was nothing the former superpower could do about it. Primakov ordered the pilot to turn around and fly back to Moscow.

Now Russia is powerful enough to advance its own Greater Eurasia concept, which moving forward should be balancing – and complementing – China’s New Silk Roads. It’s the power of this Double Helix – which is bound to inevitably attract key sectors of Western Europe – that is driving the Hegemon’s ruling class dazed and confused.

Glenn Diesen, author of Russian Conservatism: Managing Change Under Permanent Revolution, which I analyzed in Why Russia is Driving the West Crazy , and one of the best global analysts of Eurasia integration, summed it all up: “The US has had great difficulties in terms of converting the security dependence of the allies into geoeconomic loyalty, as evident by the Europeans still buying Chinese technologies and Russian energy.

Hence permanent Divide and Rule, featuring one of its key targets: cajole, force, bribe and all of the above for the European Parliament to scotch the China-EU trade/investment deal.

Wang Yiwei, director of the Center for European Studies at Renmin University and author of the best made in China book about the New Silk Roads, clearly sees through the “America is back” bluster: “China is not isolated by the US, the West or even the whole international community. The more hostility they show, the more anxiety they have. When the US travels around the globe to frequently ask for support, unity and help from its allies, this means US hegemony is weakening.”

Wang even forecasts what may happen if the current “leader of the free world” is prevented from fulfilling his exceptional mission: “Don’t be fooled by the sanctions between China and the EU, which is harmless to trade and economic ties, and EU leaders won’t be that stupid to totally abandon the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, because they know they would never get such a good deal when Trump or Trumpism returns to the White House.”

Shocked and Awed 21st Century Geopolitics, as configured in these crucial past two weeks, spells out the Unipolar Moment is six feet under. The Hegemon will never admit it; hence the NATO counterpunch, which was pre-designed. Ultimately, the Hegemon has decided not to engage in diplomatic accommodation, but to wage a hybrid war on two fronts against a relentlessly demonized strategic partnership of peer competitors.

And as a sign of these sorry times, there’s no James Baker or George Kennan to advise against such folly.

After 10 Years of Civil War in Syria, US (Quietly) Declares Defeat but Won’t Go Home

March 25th, 2021

By Alan Macleod

Source

Syria Media Bias
After a decade of bombing, invasions, exoduses and economic strife, it is clear that there are precious few winners in the Syrian Civil War — or from the rest of the Arab Spring, for that matter.

DAMASCUS, SYRIA — This March marks the 10-year anniversary of the Arab Spring and the protests that rocked Syria, which were a starting point for the ongoing civil war. That conflict has led to over half a million deaths and nearly 13 million people displaced, according to some estimates.

Now, after 10 years of attempts to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad, it appears that many in the U.S. government and media are quietly conceding defeat.

“We tell Syria’s human stories so that the ‘victors’ don’t write its history,” ran the headline of a CNN article marking the anniversary. Who the victors are is not spelled out explicitly, although it is clear that the reference is to the Syrian government. In explaining the reasons for the violence, the article tells us:

The Assad regime gunned down those who called for a peaceful transition to democracy. Gulf countries sent in suitcases of cash with a wink and a nod towards more religiously conservative fighting units. Assad let former al-Qaeda members and other criminals out of jail. The U.S., at the peak of its involvement, half-heartedly trained some ‘moderate’ rebels, many of whom went on to join the ranks of extremist groups.

Thus, Assad is presented as an ally of al-Qaeda, while forces the U.S. and its allies “half-heartedly” supplied and trained register merely as “religiously conservative fighting units” and “moderate rebels,” inverting reality on its head.

The New York Times was less cryptic in its description of the outcome of the conflict, its headline reading “Having Won Syria’s War, al-Assad Is Mired in Economic Woes.” While accepting military defeat in Syria, the U.S. appears to be using its economic power to make sure there can be no clear victory for Assad, enacting waves of sanctions that have crushed the country’s economy, leading to power outages, food shortages, inflation and falling wages.

In its article covering a potential change in Syria policy by the Biden administration, the Minneapolis Star Tribune quoted one former Obama official who said the international take-home message is that “the Syria war is over, Assad has won, Assad will be in power as long as he is breathing oxygen.”

Those in the current administration are more tacit in their acceptance of the situation on the ground. A joint statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his European counterparts last week asked for a nationwide ceasefire, promising that they were not “abandoning” the conflict or Syria’s people, whatever it might look like. The statement also condemned the fast-approaching presidential elections as neither free nor fair, historically a very good indicator that they expect the result to go against their interests. “It’s clear that the regime will leverage the upcoming presidential elections in May to unfairly claim Assad’s legitimacy,” said the United States’ acting deputy ambassador to the UN, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, last week. “The United States will not recognize these elections unless they are free, fair, representative of Syrian society, and supervised by the United Nations,” he added.

The prospect of holding a proper election in a country destroyed by ten years of constant war is indeed very dim. With food prices rising, millions displaced, and millions more having fled abroad, just surviving is a task enough for many. Last month the World Food Program warned that a record 12.4 million Syrians — more than half of the population — are currently food insecure. This is an increase of around 4.5 million from last year. Over the past 12 months, the price of basic foodstuffs has increased by an average of 236%. Some of this is down to U.S. sanctions, with Washington apparently deciding that — as in Venezuela, Cuba and other nations — if the U.S. cannot overthrow the government, it will fall back on starving the country as a punishment.

Ten years of violence

While the conflict is universally described as a civil war, from the outset it has been dominated by foreign groups. March 15, 2011 saw the Arab Spring spread to Syria, with large demonstrations against Assad’s rule in many major cities. However, this unrest was quickly overtaken by armed groups whose goal was to take the country by force. In July of that year, the Free Syrian Army was established, quickly receiving considerable Western backing. Almost immediately, the country of 21 million people became a proxy war for various regional and world powers, including Turkey, the United States and its European allies, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. At one point, the CIA was spending almost $1 billion per year training and fielding an army of jihadists. Fighters came from as far afield as Libya and Xinjiang province in China to join their ranks.

A U.S.-backed anti-government fighter mans a heavy automatic machine gun, left, next to an American soldier as they take their positions at Tanf, a border crossing between Syria and Iraq (Hammurabi’s Justice News/AP)
A US-backed anti-government fighter mans a heavy machine gun next to a US soldier in al Tanf. Hammurabi’s Justice News | AP

The bitter fighting and terrible violence on all sides led to a refugee crisis for a country that had historically been a haven for victims of war in the region. The famously secular nation also became a stronghold for the Islamic State. With the help of Russian forces, ISIS was beaten back, but to this day, a number of foreign powers continue to occupy the country militarily. One of them is the United States, which last month launched a strike on a town on the Syria/Iraq border, dropping 1.75 tons of explosives and reportedly killing 22 people. Between 2014 and 2019, the U.S. and its allies dropped at least 118,000 bombs and missiles on Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also continues to militarily occupy Syria’s oil fields, hamstringing the nation’s efforts to recover economically.

A short spring, a long winter

Unfortunately, Syria is far from the only country that has been left in a much worse state than what it was in ten years ago. In 2011, the Arab Spring sparked hope across the Middle East, capturing the world’s attention for months as, one after another, movements arose challenging the power of undemocratic governments. Yet few, if any, can be said to have succeeded.

Egypt was the centerpiece of the uprising, as hundreds of thousands of people poured into Tahrir Square in Cairo. Dictator Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign and Mohamed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election. Yet barely a year later many were in the streets again, begging the military to overthrow him. The resulting coup brought General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to power, establishing a dictatorship every bit as brutal as Mubarak’s. Sisi has signalled his intent to remain in power until at least 2034, which, considering his age, is effectively a lifetime appointment.

In Libya, protests against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s rule were used as a pretext by NATO for regime change, sparking a bitter civil war, Gaddafi’s assasination, and the rise of Al-Qaeda and other jihadist forces that turned the once-rich country into a failed state, replete with slave markets.

Meanwhile, Yemen is now commonly described as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” where 24 million people need assistance, including 20 million with little or no access to clean water. Yesterday, Oxfam warned that the country is reaching a tipping point, amid a massive spike in COVID-19 cases and a feared outbreak of cholera. The cause for the crisis is clear: the Saudi-led onslaught against the country, which, in turn, has its roots in the constitutional crisis sparked by the Arab Spring protests.

Few remember that the Arab Spring actually started in Western Sahara. But over the past 10 years, the country is being progressively eroded, as Morocco continues to occupy it militarily, building a succession of walls and annexing its most valuable land. As a result, the fortunes of the Sahrawi people are as bad as ever.

After a decade of bombing, invasions, exoduses and economic strife, it is clear that there are precious few winners in the Syrian Civil War — or from the rest of the Arab Spring, for that matter. There are, however, millions of losers. Chief among them are the people of Syria, who have seen their country torn apart as foreign powers, great and minor, wrestle for control of their nation. While the U.S. and its media might be tacitly conceding defeat, few are proclaiming victory.

In Quest of a Multipolar Economic World Order

In Quest of a Multipolar Economic World Order

March 26, 2021

Posted with special Permission – Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar

(Transcript)

Ibrahima: [00:00:00] Good morning or good evening, depending on where you are located and welcome to the Henry George School. My name is Ibrahima Drame and I’m the director of education. It’s a great honor to have you with us today for another joint webinar co-organized with the International Union for Land Value Taxation with two great thinkers, Professor Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar to discuss the emerging economic world order.

I ‘d like to, thank Michael and Pepe for accepting to share their ideas with us my friend Alanna Hartzok co-founder of Earth Rights Institute, who will be moderating the session this morning. So, before I hand it over to Alana, I’d like to ask all attendees to keep muted until we open the Q&A session. And of course, in the meantime, you are free to use the chat and, please do so responsibly. So, Alanna, please go ahead and introduce our speakers.

Alanna: [00:00:55] Yes. Happy to do so I’m also an administrator for the International Union for Land Value Taxation, and we are on the web@theiu.org. I’m so delighted to have Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar join us once again for “In Quest of a Multipolar World Order”.

Michael Hudson is an American economist and professor of economics at the university of Missouri, Kansas City and a researcher at the Levi Economics Institute at Bard college. He’s a former Wall Street analyst, political consultant, commentator, and journalist.

He’s also teaching at the University for Sustainability in Hong Kong. Michael was the author of J is for Junk EconomicsKilling the HostThe Bubble and Beyond, Super Imperialism: the Economic Strategy of American Empire. And he has a new edition of that coming up now. Also, Trade Development and Foreign Debt ,and The Myth of Aid, and others.

Those books have been translated into Japanese, Chinese, German, Spanish, and Russian, and they are very popular in China right now, I might add.

Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is a correspondent editor at large at Asia times and columnist for Consortium News and Strategic Culture, Moscow. He has extensively covered Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, China, Iran, Iraq and the wider Middle East Pepe is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid WarRed Zone Bluesa Snap of Bagdad during the Surge. He was contributing editor to the Empire and the Crescent. His last two books are Empire of Chaos and The Raging Twenties: Great Power Rivalry Meets Techno Feudalism. Pepe is also associated with the Paris based European Academy of geopolitics.

He does have a new book out, The Raging Twenties, which is a collection of his excellent essays and articles for the several publications, for which he writes. So, when he’s not on the road and covering the New Silk Road, he is living in Sao Paulo, Paris, and most recently in Bangkok. So welcome both of you.

I must say that, for the chat, if you have questions, viewers, listeners, please ask your questions in the chat. And then we will ask them at the end of the conversation between Pepe and Michael. Thank you. Go right ahead.

Pepe Escobar: [00:03:38] Michael you want to start?

Michael Hudson: [00:03:41] Oh no, I don’t know what to talk about.

Pepe Escobar: [00:03:44] Come on now you should start. OK, why don’t you start with your last revised chapter for Super Imperialism.

Michael Hudson: [00:03:51] All right. 50 years ago, I wrote Super Imperialism about how America dominates the world financially, and gets a free ride.

I wrote it, right after America went off gold in 1971, when the Vietnam war – which was responsible for the entire balance-of-payments deficit – forced the country to go off gold. And everybody at that time worried the dollar was going to go down. There’d be hyperinflation. But what happened was something entirely different.

Once there was no gold to settle U.S. balance-of-payments deficits, America’s strong armed its allies to invest in US Treasury bonds, because central banks don’t buy companies. They don’t buy raw materials. All they could buy is other government bonds. So, all of a sudden, the only thing that other people could buy with all the dollars coming in were US Treasury securities. The securities they bought essentially were to finance yet more war making and the balance-of-payments deficit from war and the 800 military bases America has around the world.

The largest customer – I think we discussed this before – was the Defense Department and the CIA. They looked at it as a how-to-do-it book. That was 50 years ago. What I’ve done is not only re-edit the book and add more information that’s come out, but I’ve summarized how the last 50 years has transformed the world. It’s a new kind of imperialism. There was still a view, 50 years ago, that imperialism was purely economic, in the sense that there’s still a rivalry, for instance, between America and China, or America and Europe and other countries. But I think the world has changed so much in the last 50 years that what we have now is not really so much a conflict between America and China, or America and Russia, but between a financialized economy, run by financial planners allocating resources and government spending and money creation, and an economy run by governments democratic or less democratic, but certainly a mixed economy.

Everything that made industrial capitalism rich, everything that made America so strong on the 19th century, through its protective tariffs, through its public infrastructure investment all the way down through world war two and the aftermath, was that we had a mixed economy in America. Europe also had a mixed economy, and in fact, every economy since Babylon has had a mixed economy.

But in America you’ve had something entirely different since 1980. Something that was not foreseen by anybody, because it seemed to be so disruptive: namely, the financial sector saying, “We need liberty – for ourselves, from government.” By “liberty” they meant taking planning and subsidy, economic and tax policy, out of the hands of government and put into the hands of Wall Street. The result was libertarianism as a “free market.” In the form of a centralized economy that is concentrated in the hands of the financial centers – Wall Street, the City of London, the Paris Bourse. What you’re having today is an attempt by the financial sector to take on the role that the landlord class had in Europe, from feudal times through the 19th century. It’s a kind of resurgence of feudalism.

If you look at the last 200 years of economic theory from Adam Smith and Marx, onward, everybody expected a mixed economy to become more and more productive, and to free itself from the landlords – and also to free itself from banking. The expectation was to make land a public utility, the tax base, and to make finance basically something public. Government would decide who gets the funding. hus, the idea of finance in the public sector was going to be pretty much what it is in China: You create a bank credit in order to finance capital investment in factories. It means the production of machinery, agricultural modernization, transport infrastructure of high-speed trains, ports and all of that.

But in the United States and England, you have finance becoming something completely different. Banks don’t lend money to build factories. They don’t create money to make means of production. They make money to take over existing assets. Some 80% of bank loans are mortgage loans to transfer the ownership of real estate.

But of course, that’s what created a middle class in the United States. The middle class was able to buy its own housing. It didn’t have to pay rent to landlords or absentee owners, or to warlords and their descendants as in England and Europe. They could buy their own homes. What nobody realized is that if you borrowed the money to take a mortgage, there’s still an economic rental value. Most of it is no longer paid to the landlords. It’s paid to the banks. And so in America and Europe, the banks now play the role that landlords played a hundred years ago.

Just as landlords are trying to do everything they could through the House of Lords in England and the upper houses of government in Europe, they’re trying to block any kind of democratic government. The fight really is against government that would do anything that is not controlled by the 1%, and by the banks. Essentially, the merger between Finance, Insurance and Real Estate – the FIRE sector. So, you have a relapse of capitalism in the West back into feudalism, but feudalism with a financialized twist much more than in medieval times.

The fight against China, the fear of China is that you can’t do to China what you did to Russia. America would love for there to be a Yeltsin figure in China to say, let’s just give all of the railroads that we’ve built, the high-speed rail, let’s give all the factories to individuals and let them run everything. Then Americans will lend them the money or buy them out and thus control them financially. China’s not letting that happen. And Russia stopped that from happening. The fury in the West is that the American financial system is unable to take over foreign resources and foreign agriculture. It is left only with military means of grabbing them, as you are seeing in the Near East, and you’re seeing in Ukraine right now.

Pepe Escobar: [00:10:40] Well, as an introduction, Michael that was perfect, because now, now we have the overall framework, especially geo-economic and historically, at least for the past 70 years. Let’s put it this way.

I have a series of questions for you. I was saving one of these for the end, but I think I should start really the Metallica way. Let’s go heavy metal for a start, right? So considering what you describe as a new kind of imperialism, and the fact that this sort of extended free lunch cannot apply anymore because of sovereigns around the world, especially Russia in China. I tried to formulate the idea that there are only three real sovereign powers on the planet, apart from the hegemon: Russia, China and Iran. These three, which happened to be the main hub and the main focus of not only of the New Silk Road but of the Eurasia integration process, are actively working for some sort of change of the rules that predominated for the past 70 years.

So my first question to you would be, do you see any realistic possibility of f a Bretton Woods 2.0, which would imply the end of dollar hegemony as we know it? These petrodollar recyclings, on and on and on, with the very important presence of that oily hacienda in Saudi Arabia. And do you think this is possible considering that president Putin himself only a few days ago reiterated once again that the US is no longer agreement-capable. That destroys already the possibility of the emergence of the new rules of the game, but do you think this is still realistically possible?

Michael Hudson: [00:12:47] I certainly do not see any repetition of a Bretton Woods because as I described in Super Imperialism, Bretton Woods was designed to make American control over Britain over Europe total. Bretton Woods was a US-centered system to prevent England from maintaining its empire. That was okay. It also was to prevent France from maintaining its empire, and for America to take over the Sterling Area. The World Bank was to prevent other countries from becoming independent and feeding themselves, to make sure that they supported plantation agriculture, not land reform. The one single fight of the World Bank was to prevent land reform and to make sure that America and other foreign investors would take over the agriculture of these countries.

Very often people think of capitalism, certainly in the sense that Marx described in Volume One, as being limited to the exploitation of wage labor by employers. But capitalism also is an appropriation of the land rent, the agricultural rent, the natural-resource rent, the oil and mineral rent. The idea of Bretton Woods was to make sure that other countries could not impose capital controls to prevent American finance coming in and appropriating their resources. The aim was to make the loans to governments so that they would not create their own money to promote their own social development, but would have to borrow from the World Bank and the IMF. That essentially meant borrowing from the Pentagon and the State Department in U S dollars. They would dollarize their economies and the economic surplus would all be sucked abroad. The economic rents from oil, agriculture and mining would all be sucked into the United States.

That kind of Bretton Woods cannot be done again. Since Bretton Woods was an idea of centralizing the world’s economic surplus in a single country, the United States, no, that can never be done again.

What is happening? You mentioned the world of a free lunch That’s was the theme of my Super Imperialism: When America issues dollars, and these end up in central banks, what can these banks do with them? All they really can do is lend them back to the United States Government. So America got a financial free lunch. It can spend and spend on its military, or bump up corporate takeovers of other countries. The dollars have gone out, but foreign countries can’t cash them in for gold. They have nothing to cash them into. All they can do is finance the U S budget deficit by buying more and more Treasury IOUs. These are the liabilities side of the balance sheet of foreign military bases and related operations.

What’s is ironic now is what has happened in the last few years in the fight against Russia and China. America has killed the free lunch. It said, okay, now we’re going to have sanctions against Russia and China. We’re going to grab whatever money you have in foreign banks, like we grabbed Venezuela’s money. We’re going to excommunicate you from the SWIFT bank clearing system. So, you can’t use banking. We’re going to put sanctions against banks that deal with you.

So Russia and China have seen that they can’t deal with dollars anymore, because the United States just unilaterally rejected their use by any country that does not follow its military and financial diplomacy. If countries do have dollars as reserves and lend them back to the United States, it’s going to spend them on building more military bases around Russia and China, to make them waste their money on military defense spending. So, America itself has ended the free lunch, by the way in which it’s fighting against China and Russia.

And now Russia and China, as you pointed out, are de-dollarizing. They’re trading in each other’s currency. They’re doing the opposite of what Bretton Woods tried to create. They’re inspiring monetary independence from the United States. Bretton Woods sponsors dependence on the United States, a centralized system dependent ultimately on Wall Street financial planners. What China and Russia are trying to create is an economy that’s not run by the financial sector, but run by, industrial and economic engineering principles.

At issue is what kind of an economy we need in order to raise living standards and, wages and self-sufficiency and preserve the environment. What is needed for the ideal world that we want? Well, for starters you’re going to need a lot of infrastructure. In America and Britain, infrastructure has been privatized. It has to make a profit. And railroads or electric utilities, as you’ve just seen in Texas, are natural monopolies. For 5,000 years, infrastructure in Europe, the Near East and Asia was kept in the public domain. If you give it to private owners, they’ll charge a monopoly rent.

China’s idea is to provide the educational system freely, and let everybody try to get an education. In America, to get an education you have to go into debt for between $50,000 and $200,000. Most of whatever you make is going to be paid the creditor. But in China, if you give free education, the money that students earn will be spent into the economy, buying the goods and services that they produce. So the economy will be expanding, not shrinking, not being sucked up into the banks that are financing the education. The same avoidance of privatized financialized or monopolized rent-seeking applies to the railroads, and also to healthcare.

If you provide healthcare freely then employers do not have to pay for it. In the United States, if companies and their employees have to pay for healthcare, this means that employees have to be paid a much higher wage in order to afford the healthcare. They also have to be paid more in order to afford the privatized transportation that gets them work, or auto loans in order to drive to work. Such costs are free or at least subsidized in other countries. Their governments can create their own credit. But in the United States and Europe, governments feel that they have to borrow from the wealthy and pay interest. China’s government doesn’t need to borrow from a wealthy bondholding class. It can simply print the money. That’s Modern Monetary Theory. As Donald Trump has explained in the United States, we can print whatever we want. Dick Cheney said that deficits don’t matter, because we can just print what we need to invade Iraq or bomb Libya. And of course, Stephanie Kelton and my other colleagues in MMT at Kansas City for many years have been saying that.

The banks fear this because they see that Modern Monetary Theory no longer gives them control. They want the rich One Percent to be able to have a choke point on the economy, so that that people cannot survive without borrowing and paying interest. They want to control the choke points to extract economic rent. So you have the West turning into a rent-extractive economy, a rent-seeking economy. The ideal of Russia, China, and other countries is that not only of Mar, but also of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and even Ricardo in the sense that the aim of classical economics was to free economies from economic rent. The American economy is all about extracting rent through the real estate sector, the financial sector, the health insurance sector, monopolies and the infrastructure sector.

The US economy has been Thatcherized and Reaganized. The result is a fight of rentier economic systems against China and Russia. So it’s not simply a fight between who makes the best computer chips and the best iPhones. It’s over whether we are going to have a fallback of civilization back into feudalism, back into control by a narrow class at the top of the economy – the 1% – or are we going to have democratic industrialization? That used to be called socialism, but it also was called capitalism. Industrial capitalism was evolving toward socialism. It was socialized medicine, socialized infrastructure, socialized schooling. So, the fight against socialism is also a fight against what made industrial capitalism so successful in the United States and Germany.

What you’re seeing now is a fight for what direction civilization will follow. You can’t have a Bretton Woods for a single worldwide organization, because the United States would never join what it can’t control. The United States accuses a country trying to make its labor force prosperous, educated and healthy instead of sick with shorter lifespans of being communist or socialist. That means independent of the U.S. financialized “Free World” austerity economics.

Pepe Escobar: [00:21:40] Well, you put it very starkly. The opposition between two completely different systems, what the Chinese are proposing, including, from productive capitalism to trade and investment all across Eurasia and beyond, including Africa and parts of Latin America as well. Recognizing the rentier obsession of the 0.01% that controls the U S financial system, in terms of facts on the ground: Are we going slowly but surely and ominously toward an absolute divorce of a system based on rentier ultra-financialization, which is the American system, not productive capitalism at all?

I was going through a small list of what the U S exports. It’s not long, as you know. Agricultural products, always privileging US farmers. Hollywood? We are all hostages of Hollywood all over the world. Pop culture? That’s not the pop culture that used to be absolutely impregnable and omniscient during the sixties, the seventies, during the Madonna, Michael Jackson era and in the eighties? Infotech? And that’s where a big bet comes in. This is maybe the most important American export at the moment, because American big tech controls social networks all over the planet.

Big pharma? Now we see the power of big pharma with the whole COVID operations, right? But Boeing prefers to invest in financial engineering instead of building decent products. Right? So, in terms of being a major superpower, the hyper power, that’s not much. Obviously, buyers all over the world already noticed that. So, what is China proposing in terms of the New Silk Road? It is a foreign policy strategy, a trade investment and sustainable development strategy applied not only to the whole of Eurasia, but beyond Eurasia to grow a great deal of the global South. That’s why we have global South partners to the New Silk Road. 130 and counting as we speak. Right?

So, the dichotomy could not be clearer. What will the 0.0 0.1% do? They don’t have anything seductive to sell. To all those nations in the global South to start with; the new version of the non-aligned movement, the countries that are already part of New Silk Road projects. We could see this by the end of last year when the China European union agreement was more or less sealed. It’s probably going to be sealed in 2021 for good.

At the same time, we had the Regional, Economic and Comprehensive Partnership at the ASEAN 10, my neighbors here, the Association of South East Asian Nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. So, when you have the China -EU deal, and when you have R C E P, you have China as the number one trade partner on the planet, no competition whatsoever.

Every one of these players wants to do business with China. They’re privileging doing business with China to doing business with US, especially with a country that once again, according to President Putin is non-agreement-capable. So, Michael, what is your key economic view of the next steps? Are we going toward the divorce of the American financialization system and the Eurasia-and-beyond integration system?

Michael Hudson: [00:25:51] Well, you you’ve made the whole point clear. There is a basic incompatibility between a rentier society controlled by the finance and real estate interests – and military interests – and an industrial democracy. For industry in England and Europe in the 19th century, the fight for democratic reform was to increase the role of the House of Commons against the House of Lords in England and other lower housse in Europe was a fight to get labor on the side of industry to get rid of the landlord class. And it was expected that once you had capitalism free of the landlord class, free of something that wasn’t really industrial capitalism at all (it was a carry-over from feudalism), you wouldn’t have this overhead of the idle 1%, only consuming resources and going to war.

World War I changed all that. Already in the late 19th century the landlords and the banks fought back. They fought back largely through the Austrian School of individualism and the English marginalists, and they euphemized it as free markets. That slogan meant giving power to the monopolists, to the oppressors, to violence. A free market was where armies can come in, take over your country, impose a client dictatorship like Pinochet in Chile or the neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Americans call that a free market. The Free World was a world centrally planned by the American military and finance. So, it’s Orwellian double-think. The dynamic of this world is shrinking because it’s polarizing. You’ve seen with the COVID pandemic in the United States, the economy has polarized much more sharply between the 1%, the 10% and the rest of the economy.

Well, as opposed to that, you have economies that are not run by a rentier class, and that do not have a banking class and landlord class controlling the economy. The kind of arrangement that you had in Germany in the late 19th century: government, industry and labor coordinated. The question was how to provide the financing for industry so that banks can provide not only industrial capital formation, but public funding to build infrastructure and uplift the population.

China is doing just what made America rich in the 19th century, and what made Germany rich. It’s the same logic of industrial engineering. This plan is based on economic expansion, environmental preservation and economic balance instead of concentration, so this is going to be a growing economy. So, you’re having a growing economy outside of the United States and a shrinking economy in the States and its satellites in Europe.

Europe had a choice: Either it could shrink and be an American satellite economy, or it could join the growth. Europe has decided unanimously to forego growth and become a set of client oligarchies and kleptocracies. It is willing to let its financial sector take over just as in America. That’s a “free market,” because I’m told by American officials that they can just buy the European politicians, they’re bribable. Being up for sale is what a free political market means. That’s why when President Putin says that America and Europe are not agreement-capable, it means they’re just in it for the money. There’s no ideology there. There is no idea of overall social benefit. The system is based on how to get rich, and you can get rich by being bribed. That’s why you go into politics. As you can tell in America with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling saying that politics can be personally financed.

So, you’re having two incompatible systems. They’re on different trajectories. If you have a system that is shrinking like the West and growing in the East, you have resentment. People who obtain their wealth in crooked ways, or without working, by inheritance or by crime, by exploitation, they will fight like anything to keep that. People who actually create wealth – labor and capital – they’re not willing to fight. They just want to be creative. So you have a destructive military force in the West, and basically a productive economic growth force in Eurasia. The clash now is occurring largely in Ukraine. You’re having the United States back the neo-Nazis.

Pepe Escobar: [00:30:40] The old Nazi movement!

Michael Hudson: [00:30:41] Yes. It’s the same swastika carrying group that threatened Russia in World War II. This is like waving a red flag before a bull. Putin continues to remind the Russians of what happened with the 22 million that died, in World War II. He said that Russia was not going to let it happen again.

You can be certain that Russia is not going to be sucked into invading Ukraine. The United States has its military advisors that the Vineyard of the Saker has a very good report on. America’s trying to needle Russia into fighting back against the terrorist groups, but Russia has no desire at all to do that. There’s nothing that Russia has to gain by taking it over. It’s essentially a bankrupt country.

The United States is trying to provoke a response so that it can accuse Russia of attacking the West. The result will probably be that Russia will simply provide arms to the Eastern Ukrainians to fight back the invasion. You’re going to have a wasteland in Western Ukraine and Poland. This wasteland may be the new buffer state between Europe and Russia. Already you have maybe 10% of Ukrainians having moved to Russia and the East, the other 10% are now plumbers in England and Europe. They’re in flight, and they’re beginning to look like Latvia and other neoliberalized countries. If you want to see their future, look at Latvia, Estonia and Greece. That’s the American plan. Essentially, an emigration of skilled labor, a sharp reduction of living standards, a 20% decline in population. Although it may appear to have more income, all this income and GDP is essentially interest collection and rents paid to the FIRE sector – as if these payments were for “real product.”

All the American GDP growth is essentially payment to the banks, to the landlords and the monopolists. The population and employees are not sharing in the GDP growth. It’s concentrated at the top. High finance is like the Roman Empire: “They make a desert, and call it growth.”

Rome was a predatory economy held by military force that ultimately collapsed, and America is on the same trajectory as Rome. And its managers know this. I have spoken to American policymakers and they say, “We’re going to be dead by then. It doesn’t matter if the West loses. I’m going to get rich. I’m going to buy a, farm in New Zealand and make a big bomb shelter there and live underground,” like a cave dweller. The financial time frame, the predatory rentier timeframe, is short-term. The Eurasian time frame is long-term. So you’ve got the short term burning what wealth it has, as opposed to the longer term building it up.

What you can see in the COVID bill that President Biden just got passed in the Senate. They call it a stimulus bill, but if you’re starving, if you haven’t been able to pay your rent, if you’re six months behind in your rent and you get enough money to pay the landlord, at least one month back rent, that’s not a stimulus, that’s survival. And it’s a one-time payment. This kind of “stimulus” checks that America’s sending out are sent out every month in Germany and parts of Europe. The whole idea in Europe is, “Okay, you have a pandemic, you have business interrupted. We’re going to proclaim a pause: You don’t pay the rent, but the landlords are not going to pay the banks. And the banks are not going to be in arrears. We’re just going to have a pause so that when it’s all over and cure people, we’ll go back to normal.” Well, China and Russia are already pretty much there and where you are, in Thailand, already back to normal.

They don’t have an abnormal thing, but America has pushed anybody who’s renting or who’s bought a house on mortgage credit, or who has credit-card debt or personal debt or automobile debt – they’re way behind. These stimulus checks are just being used to pay the banks and the landlords not to not to buy more goods and services. All they’re trying to do is to get out of the hole that they’ve been dug into in the last 12 months. That’s not a stimulus. That’s a partial, desperation payment.

This problem never existed, in other civilizations. You have the whole tradition of the ancient Near East. That’s what my book “… and Forgive them their Debts” is all about. The whole idea is that when there is an economic interruption, you don’t leave people in debt. You wipe out the arrears that have mounted up. You simply wipe out the tax arrears, the rent arrears and other payment arrears.

So once the crisis is over, you can start from a normal position again. But there’s no normalization in America. You’re starting from a position, even more behind financially than when you went in. The foreign economies of China and Russia don’t have a backlog of arrears as a deficit. So, the West is beginning with 99% of its population deeper into debt to the 1%. That polarization between the 1% and the 99% doesn’t exist in China. And in Russia, Putin is trying to minimize it, given the legacy of the kleptocracy that the neoliberals put in. He’s still trying to deal with that, but you really have a difference in economic systems and the direction in which these systems are moving.

Pepe Escobar: [00:36:27] I’m really glad that you brought up Ukraine, Michael, because US foreign policy – even, before Trump, and now with the new Biden-Harris administration – basically boils down to sanctions, sanctions, sanctions – as we know, provocations, which is what they’re doing to Greece and certainly in Syria. They already did that with bombing a few days ago.

In the case of Ukraine and Donbass, it’s absolutely crazy, because NATO so-called strategists, when you talk to them in Brussels, they know very well that each state or whatever they weaponize and financialize to profit Kiev to mount some sort of offensive against the Donbass. Even if they would have like 300,000 soldiers, like 30,000 in Donbass. If the Russians see that this is going to get really heavy, if they intervene directly with their bombing, with their super missiles, they can finish this story in one day. And if they want, they could finish the whole story, including invading Ukraine in three days, like they did in 2008 with Georgia, and still keep the provocations loosely acted on by people from inside the Pentagon. So we have sanctions, we have nonstop provocations, and we have also a sort of fifth column, elements inside or at the top of government. I would love to have your personal analysis on the role of super Mario “Goldman-Sachs” Draghi, now in Italy, which is something I had been discussing with my Italian friends. There’s more or less a consensus among very well informed, independent Italian analysts that Draghi may be the perfect Trojan horse to accelerate the destruction of the Italian state. That will accelerate the globalist project of the European union, which is absolutely non-state centric. That is also part of the great reset. So, if you could briefly talk to us about the role of Super Mario at the moment.

Michael Hudson: [00:38:55] Well, Italy is a very good example to look at. When you have a country that needs infrastructure and public, social democratic spending, you need a government to create the credit. But when Americans – and specifically the University of Chicago free-market lobbyists – created the Eurozone financial system, their premise was that governments should not create money. Only banks should be allowed to do that, for the benefit of their stock and bond holders. So, no European governments can run a budget deficit large enough to cope with the coronavirus or with the problems that have been plaguing Italy for a decade. They can’t create their money to revive employment, to revive infrastructure or to revive the economy.

The European central bank only lends to other central banks. It’s created trillions of euros just to buy stocks and bonds, not to spend into the economy, not to hire labor, not to build infrastructure, but just to save the holders of the stocks and bonds from losing money from falling asset prices. That makes 1% or 5% of the population richer. So in practice, the function of the European Central Bank is to create money only for the purpose of saving the wealthiest 5% from losses on their stocks and bonds.

The cost of this limitation is to impoverish the economy and to basically make it looking like Greece, which was a dress rehearsal for how the Eurozone was going to reduce Europe to debt dependency. Under feudalism, everybody had to have access to the land by becoming a serf. Well now you’re in debt peonage, modern, finance capitalism’s version of serfdom.

So, Italy says, “We’re going to need government spending. We’re going to need to do in our way what China’s doing in its way, and what Russia is doing in its way. We’re going to have some kind of government program. We can’t just let the economy be impoverished simply because the University of Chicago has designed a plan for Europe to prevent the Euro from being a rival to the dollar. If there’s no European Central Bank to pump euros into the world economy, then only dollars will be left for central bank reserves.

The United States doesn’t ever want a rival. It wants satellites. That’s what it’s basically turned Europe into. I don’t see any response outside of Italy for an attempt to say they can’t be a part of this system and so should withdraw from the Eurozone. When I was in Greece years ago, we all thought it might join with Italy, Portugal and Ireland and say that the system wasn’t working. But everybody else said no, no, the Americans will just simply get us out of office one way or another. And in Italy, of course, if you look at what happened after World War II, the great threat was Italian communism. You had the Americans essentially say, “Well, we know the answer to communism. It’s fascism,” and you saw them buying politicians. They did every dirty trick in the book in order to fight any left wing group in Italy, just as they did in Yugoslavia, and just as they did in Greece. They wiped out the partisans, all the leading anti-Nazi groups from Greece to Italy to elsewhere. All of a sudden, they were all either assassinated or moved out of office – and replaced by the very people that America had been fighting against during World War II.

Well, now Italy is finally coming to terms with this and trying to fight back. You’re having what’s happening there, between Northern Italy and Southern Italy, the same splits as in other countries.

Pepe Escobar: [00:42:53] Yeah. Well, I’m going to bring up, perhaps an even more extreme case now Michael, which is the case of Brazil, which at the moment is in the middle of an absolutely out of this world mix of telenovela and Kabuki theater that even for most Brazilians, is absolutely incomprehensible, because it’s like a fragmentation bomb exploding over and over again, a Groundhog Day of fragmentation bombs.

In fact, it’s completely crazy. Lula is back in the picture as well. We still don’t know how the guys who run the show, the Brazilian military, are going to deal with him. I bring up this case because it’s happened in the past 48 hours. It has convulsed Brazil completely, and large parts of Latin America, because it is a telenovela with one cliffhanger after another, sometimes in a matter of minutes. But it encompasses all the basic themes of what really interests the 0.01%, which we can identify as a class war against labor, which is the system in Brazil since the coup against Dilma. A war against mixed economies, economic sovereignty, which is something that the masters of the universe of the 0.01% cannot wage against Russia in China. But that was very successfully waged against Brazil and implemented in Brazil. In fact, in a matter of two years they completely devastated the country in every possible sense, industrially, sociologically, you name it…

And of course, because the main objective is something that you keep stressing over and over again: unipolar rentier dominance. So, Brazil, I would say is the extreme case not only in the global South, but in planetary terms. Let’s say, the last frontier of the rentier economy is when you manage to capture a country that was slowly emerging as a leader in the global South, an economic leader. Don’t forget that a few years ago Brazil was the sixth largest economy in the world, and on the way to become the fifth. Now it’s the 12th, falling down nonstop and controlled by a mafia. That includes, not by accident, a Chicago boy Pinochetista minister Paulo Guedes, who is implementing in the 21st century something that was implemented in Chile in the seventies and in the eighties. They were successful. Apparently, at least so far, Brazil is so disorganized as a nation, so shattered so fragmented and atomized as a nation that basically it depends on the re-emergence of a single political leader

In this case it is Lula, to try to rebuild the nation from scratch. Even in a position where he cannot control the game, he can interfere in the game, which is what happened 24 hours ago when he gave a larger-than-life press conference, mixed with a re-presentation of himself as a statesman. He said, look, the whole thing is shattered, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel. But still, he cannot confront the real masters of the universe that have allowed this to happen in the first place.

So just to give an example to many of you who are not familiar with some details of the Brazilian case, it involves directly the Obama-Biden scheme or the Obama-Biden larger operation. When Biden was vice president in 2013, in May he visited Brazil for three days and he met with president Dilma. They discussed very touchy subjects, including the most important one: the absolutely enormous, pre-salt oil reserves. Obviously, the Americans wanted to be part of the whole thing, not by accident. You know what happened one week later: the start of the Brazilian color revolution, and this thing kept rolling and rolling and rolling.

We got to the coup against Dilma in 2016, we got to the carwash operation landing Lula in jail. And we got to the election of Bolsanaro. And now we are in a place where even if the military control the whole process, even Bolsanaro is becoming bad for business. But will he become bad for the rentier class business, for the 0.01% in the US that has all the connections in their new, large neo-colony in the tropics, which has enormous strategic value, not to mention unforeseen wealth resources? So, this is an extreme case, and I know that you follow Brazil relatively closely. So, your geo-economic and geopolitical input on the running telenovela I think would be priceless for all of us.

Michael Hudson: [00:48:50] Well, this problem goes back 60 years. In 1965 João Goulart, the former president of Brazil, came to New York and we met with each other. He explained to me how the U.S.-backed military got rid of him in 1964 because he wasn’t representing the banking class. He said that they built Brasilia, just in order to be apart from the big industrial cities and their constituencies. They wanted to prevent industry and the democracy and the population from controlling the government.

So, they built Brasilia. He said, “Maybe they’ll use it as an atom bomb site. It certainly doesn’t have economic value.” Well, fast forward, in 1982, after Mexico defaulted on its foreign debt in 1972, nobody would invest in Latin America. And by 1990, Brazil was paying 45% interest per year to borrow the dollars to be able to finance its deficit, which is mainly flight capital by the wealthy. Well, I think I’d mentioned before here, I was hired by Scudder Stevens and Clark to create the first Sovereign Debt bond fund. Brazil and also Argentina were paying 45%. Just imagine that. That’s a fortune every year. No American would buy it, no European would buy it. Who bought it? The Brazilians and the Argentineans bought it. They’re the government, they’re the central bankers. They’re the president’s family. They’re the 1% – the only people that would hold Brazil’s dollar debt. So when Brazil pays its foreign Yankee Dollar debt, it’s paying its own 1% who are holding it offshore, for instance in the Dutch West Indies where the fund was located for tax-avoidance purposes. They pretend to be American imperialists, but actually are local imperialists.

Toward the end of Lula’s rule the Brazilian Council of Economic Advisors brought Jamie Galbraith, Randy Wray and me down for a discussion. They were worried because Lula, in order to get elected, had to meet with the banks and agree to give them what they wanted. The banks told him “We can see that you have the power to be elected. We don’t want to have to fight you in dirty ways. We will let you be elected, but you’re going to have to support the policies, certainly the financial policies that we want.” Lula made a kind of a devil’s agreement with them because he didn’t want to be killed, and they were willing to do some good things.

So, he was sort of a Bernie Sanders type character. Okay, you have to go along with a really bad system in order to get something good done, because Brazil really needs something good done. Well, the fact is that the financial groups couldn’t take even the little bit he did, because one of the characteristics of financial wealth is to be addictive. It’s not like diminishing marginal utility. If you give more food to an employee or to a worker at the end of the meal, you’re satiated, you don’t want much more. If you give enough money, they buy a few luxuries and then, okay, they save it. But if you give more money to a billionaire they want even more, and they grow even more desperate. It’s like a cocaine addict. The Brazilian ruling class wanted it so desperately that they framed up and controlled the utterly corrupt judiciary. The judiciary in Brazil is almost as corrupt as it is in New York city

Pepe Escobar: More, even more.

Michael Hudson: They frame them up and they want totalitarian control. And that is what a free market is: Totalitarian control by the financial class. It’s freedom for the financial class to do what they want to the rest of the economy. That’s libertarianism. It’s a free market, it’s Austrian economics. It’s the right wing’s fight against government. It’s a fight against any government strong enough to resist the financial and real estate interests. Brazil is merely the most devastating example of this, because it takes such a racial turn there. Brazilians want to make a fortune tearing down the Amazon, cutting up the Amazon, selling the lumber to China, turning the Amazon into soya production to sell to China. But for that, you have to exterminate the indigenous population that wants to use the land to feed itself. So you see the kind of race war and ethnic war that you have, not to mention the war against the blacks in the Brazilian slums that Lula tried so much to overcome.

So you have a resumption of the ethnic war there. On Wall Street I had discussions with money managers back in 1990. They saw it as a lnog=term burden, and wondered whether that’s going to be a model for what’s happening in the United States with the ethnic war here.

Essentially, it’s a tragedy what’s happening in Brazil, but it’s pretty much what happened in Chile under Pinochet, which is why they have the Pinochetista and the Chicago boys that you mentioned.

Pepe Escobar: [00:54:07] Absolutely. Coming back to China, Michael, what we had a few days ago, they are still discussing it. It goes on until the 15th of March, the approval of the five-year plan, which is not actually the five-year plan. It’s actually three five-year plans in one, because they are already planning for 2035, which is something absolutely unimaginable anywhere in the West. Right? So, it’s a different strategy: productive investment, expansion of social welfare and solidifying it with technological improvements. I would say by 2025, China would be very close to the same infotech level of the US, which is part of the Made in China 2025 policy, which is fantastic. They stopped talking about it, but they are still implementing the technological drive in all those standard areas that they had codified a few years ago. And I found this notion particularly fascinating, because it is on one sense socialism with some Confucianist elements, but it’s also very Daoist. The dual development strategy, which is an inversion and expansion of domestic investment and consumption, balancing all the time with projects across Eurasia. Not only affiliated with the Belt and Road, with the New Silk Road, but all other projects as well. So, when you have a leadership that is capable of planning with this scope, amplitude, breadth and reach, compare that to the money managers in the West, whose planning goes not even quarterly in many cases, but just for 24 hours.

So our dichotomy between rentier capitalism, financialization, industrial capitalism or whatever we want to call it, and state planning with the view of social benefit, is even starker. I’m not saying that the Chinese system can be exported to the rest of the world, but I’m sure that all across the global South people are looking at Chinese policies, how they are planning long-term, how they are always fine tuning, and what they develop and discuss.

For instance, this week there were over 3000 recommendations coming from different counties and villages and regions and local leaders, et cetera. Some of them are incorporated into the five-year plan as well. So this, as you said in the beginning, is a frontal shock of two systems. Sooner or later we’re going to have the bulk of the global South, including nations that nowadays are still American vassals or satrapies or puppets or poodles. They’re going to see which way the wind was blowing. Right?

Michael Hudson: [00:57:27] Why can’t the Chinese system be exported to the West? That’s a good question. Let’s suppose how would you make American industry able to follow the same productive path that China did. Well, for one thing, the biggest element in workers budget today is housing: 40%. There was one way to get rid of the high housing prices that essentially are whatever a bank will lend. The banks lend essentially the economic rent. There’s a very simple way to keep housing prices down: Tax the land rent. Use the tax system not to tax labor, because that increases the cost of labor, and not tax industrial capital, but tax the land, the real estate and the banks.

Well, suppose you were to lower the price of housing in America from 40% to 10% like China. This is the big element in the cost-structure difference. Well, if people only had to pay 10% of their income for housing, then all the banks would go under, because 80% of the bank loans are mortgage loans.

The function of housing in a financialized economy is to force new buyers and renters into debt to the banks, so that the banks end up with all of the lend rent that the landlord class used to get. That’s their business plan. This is what’s preventing America from being like China.

What if America would try to develop a high-speed railroad like China? Well, then you need the right of way. You’d need to you have to have the railroads go in a straight line. As we’ve mentioned before, they need a right of way, which it doesn’t have because that would conflict with private property and most of the right of way is a very expensive real estate. So, you can’t have high-speed rail in the United States, like in China.

Suppose you would have a low-cost public education. well then, you get rid of the whole means of siphoning off labor’s income to pay for education loans. Suppose you had public healthcare, and prevent Americans from getting sick like they do in, China and Thailand, where, where you are. In that case the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t be able to make their interest and dividend payments. So, you could not have America adopt a China-type industrial program without what would be really a revolution against the legacy of monopoly of a private banking, of finance and all the fortunes that have been built up financially in the last 40 years, since 1980.

Pepe Escobar: [01:00:22] So, what’s going to happen in the short to mid-term in the US, Michael? We are seeing the corrosion of the whole system, not only externally in terms of foreign policy and the end of the free lunch, but internally with those 17 million plus deplorables being literally canceled from public debate, from the impoverishment of the middle classes, with over 50 million people in America, which are becoming literally poor. Obviously the American dream ended a few decades ago, but now that it’s not even a glimpse that there could be a renewal of the American dream. So we have a larva of civil war situation degrading on a daily basis. What’s the end game? What exactly does Wall Street, the American ruling class, the guys who have lunches at the Harvard club – what do they ultimately want?

Michael Hudson: [01:01:31] Well, what you call a disaster for the economy is a Bonanza for the 1%. This is a victory for finance. You look at it as a collapse of industrial capitalism. I look at it as the victory of rentier finance capitalism. You’re having probably 10 million Americans that are going to be thrown out of their apartments and their homes in June, when the moratorium on rents and mortgages ends. You’re going to have a vast increase in the homeless population. That will probably represent an increase in people who use the subways. Where else are they going to live? A large number of private capital firms have been created in the last year of wealth accumulation. They’re looking forward to great opportunities to pick up real estate at bargain prices, for the commercial real estate that’s broke, and all the buildings and restaurants that have to be sold because they can’t meet their mortgage payments or rents, all the houses that are going under. Private capital can come in and do what was done after the Obama evictions.

Private capital can do what Blackstone did. It can buy them out for pennies on the dollar. So they’re looking at their own 20-year plan. Their 20-year plan is to grab everything!

Pepe Escobar: [01:02:51] What’s going to happen with the surplus population Michael, we’re talking about tens of millions of people. It reminds me of those, the projection of those World Bank projections in the early 1980s, when the World Bank projected that the global economy could actually work with only 20% of the global population implying that 80% of the global population was expendable. Are we watching this happening in the West in the next few months and years?

Michael Hudson: [01:03:22] It’s being compressed into a very short time frame. I heard this from the Club of Rome back in the 1970s when I was with the United Nations UNITAR. Their idea was that the world had too much population and needed to cut it back. It was a giant austerity plan. That was what really spurred Liberation Theology. The Catholic Church saw that cutting the population meant vast birth control. At a Chase Manhattan meeting I talked to the former head of the World Bank, John McCloy, who was also the chairman of Chase Manhattan. I asked him what he thought about Robert McNamara and his population control. And he said, “He just wants to stuff it up women. He doesn’t care if they get sick.” McCloy added, “He’s not a Wall Street boy.” I could see that he was appalled by it, but I wouldn’t use his words for the record, because he used little more vulgar language for just where McNamara was trying to stuff up the population control.

Liberation theology was backed by the Catholic church advocating land reform to feed the population if we’re not going to cut it back. Well, of course the result was that America defined a free market as being when its Special Forces go in and shoot the nuns after raping them. They killed liberation theologists. They killed indigenous leaders. They recognized that you can’t have a free market Chicago-style without being able to kill everybody who disagrees with you and who thinks that the market is for the people, not for the 1%. In my talks with the Catholic Church, I mean, it’s sort of hilarious given my background, which is not exactly religious. But I was working very closely with them at that time, because they were the only ones with an economic plan for how you can avoid this population collapse. The wealthy elite only need a few people. This was before mechanization, already in the 1970s. So, there was this idea that there were too many poor people that don’t make enough money for the rich people. We’ve got to get rid of them.

Many liberals supported them. Bob Heilbroner at the New School criticized me for working with some Liberation Theologists. It was the Catholic Church that published my first book, and articles. So, what you’re seeing today is an almost cosmic inversion of everything that people wanted until about the last century. Every country wanted more population. The idea was that population was the source of an army. It was a workforce to produce more goods and services. But now in the West, a population is who you want to get rid of. All you need is an economy that only has a few people and the rich. China, Russia, and Asia want to use the population and essentially, how to enrich the population so we can all have a world of prosperity and leisure.

Pepe Escobar: [01:06:12] Absolutely. I’m glad that you brought up Russia and China, because they are not on board. They diplomatically made it very clear that they are not on board for the great reset. Herr Schwab’s absolutely ominous idea and concept, which is supported by the IMF, by the World Bank, by Prince Charles, by big multinational corporations, et cetera. It’s very crazy, because eugenicist ideas are at the heart of the great reset. We’re not only talking about that strange character, Bill Gates; it goes much deeper than that. It’s eugenicist ideas in terms of culling of population by all means necessary. So, we are back to the same scenario that you were discussing decades ago.

Alanna: [01:07:06] Michael, when you said importantly that we could get the cost of housing down from 40% of income in the United States, can you give more detail on what people can do?

Michael Hudson: [01:07:22] The problem is what we can do without a revolution. In the United States you have Ms. Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress having a new voting law that tries to prevent any third party from being developed in the United States. So there can only be one party, the duopoly between the Republicans and the Democrats. You can’t have a Green Party. That’s being essentially ruled out. You can’t have any political alternative and you cannot have a parliamentary system like you have in Europe’s representative voting. The only choice you have is what flavor of oligarchy you want. You can have a Republican white oligarchy, or a mixed identity politics Democratic party, but none of this identity can have to deal with wage-earners, debtors or renters. So there’s very little, that they can do. If you need housing, you don’t have an alternative. You rent or go into debt to a bank to outbid other people who are trying buy the house, and the house is worth however much a bank will lend.

The Federal Reserve has flooded the economy with such low-interest credit that banks are able to lend more and more against housing. There’s been a huge increase in mortgage refinancing here. People have been able to get through the pandemic by borrowing more money against houses whose market value is rising, because banks are lending so much more debt to equity. So, what people think is making them rich is the housing that’s going up in price. Well, it’s actually the debt that has been going up. They think that they’ve been getting rich, but they’ve been more and more having to go into debt as a condition to get housing, just as they have to go into debt as a condition for getting an education and getting a job, or to get a car to drive to the job, or just to break even and feed themselves.

So unless people have an idea that there is an alternative, they’re not going to be able to create a political movement to create one. And in the United States, if you study economics you’re only taught University of Chicago neoliberal mainstream economics. There’s no more history of economic thought, so you don’t read Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill or Marx. There’s no economic history. So, you don’t know what’s the fight against feudalism was all about. You don’t have an idea that there’s an alternative. As Margaret Thatcher said, There Is No Alternative.

Well, of course there’s an alternative, but if people don’t know that there’s an alternative, they’re going to fall for this line, that there’s no alternative to the “free market” controlled by the 1% – freedom only for the 1% and debt peonage for the 99%. Unless they know that, I don’t have much hope that the people here can do very much at all.

Alanna: [01:10:26] So Michael, what about one city that it’s desperate that could be educated, that there is an alternative with clarity about a land value tax system and a public bank. For instance, the city of Baltimore that desperately needs a new economy. Can you give us some hope that we could focus on a city level and begin building a template for how cities and like Sao Paulo where Pepe is born from the cities that desperately need change? Michael, can you give us some sort of template?

We know the federal government is hopeless for us now for we, the people. Texas is having a vote to form the Republic of Texas to secede to have a beginning conversation. There are other growing secessionist movements in the United States. Could we imagine that there could be an implosion away from centralized control to the us to a regional and city level. Michael, give us some hope.

Michael Hudson: [01:11:30] I can’t give you hope. I am all in favor of public banking and I’m on Ellen Brown’s board of directors for her group. However, supposing you had a public bank in Baltimore and the public bank said, we want to provide credit for Baltimore people to be able to afford homes. They would still have to out create enough credit and enough debt to outbid what commercial banks are lending other people that want to buy houses there. So, you can’t have an Island of efficiency and public banking in a system that basically is still financialized. The problem is systemic.

It goes to the courts. You talk about seceding. Then of course it’s possible. And people in Texas were talking about seceding in the 1840s when it was largely a German population. There were more publishers publishing German language books in Texas than there were English language books. But now, I think the way Texans think, if they were to succeed it is not going to be along the lines of public banking that you want . It would be a private bank owned by the oil companies that calls itself, a public bank. We’re in a world of Orwellian rhetoric.

What can the Americans do? They already have voted. We have democracy, they’ve voted for what they wanted to do. What did they vote for? They want shorter lifespans, lower wages, less education and less public services. Their choice is to get these things by a Democrat or by a Republican. But that’s the only choice they have. Other countries have a choice to emigrate, as the Ukrainians and the Greeks and Latvians have done. But I have no idea where Americans can emigrate to.

Alanna: [01:13:21] Perhaps they could emigrate to some of Bill Gates, who now owns more agricultural land. He’s a top agricultural landowner in the United States. So, there are plenty of vacant lots all over our cities. What about some direct land-rights movements? Michael, what about depositing the land rent in Baltimore in a public bank and generating a local based economy?

Michael Hudson: [01:13:45] I think that’s unlikely as long as the city is controlled by the landlord interests. Almost all cities are controlled by the landlord interest. This is what Thorstein Veblen wrote about in Absentee Ownership in 1923. As long as you have the system that already was pretty clear a century ago, it doesn’t help to build up a few vacant lots and say, okay, we’re not going to tax that, because pretty soon you’re going to have people selling out the vacant lots and they will be gentrified.

A hundred years ago you had communities that were founded by followers of Henry George. They had the idea that, just that you have, we’re going to collect the land rent. They’ve all now become bourgeois, gentrified yuppie communities.

It’s a fight of economic systems. It’s a systemic fight. You can’t fix it at the margin. The problem goes deep to the core.

Alanna: [01:14:40] Well, the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania voted in land rent to shift largely to land rent. That was a vote. Can the people not vote in an economic democracy once they have the understanding of how to do so. And the landlord population is after all the majority. The minority is that landlord ownership. Can we not have the majority vote in a land rent system?

Michael Hudson: [01:15:05] Good question. If you said, okay, we are now going to tax all of the land rent, the problem is that as of right now, most land rent is pledged to the banks as mortgage interest. The banks have lent money against the rent-of-location – the fact that some houses and some properties and homes are in a better location than others, near parks and schools. Suppose that all of a sudden the owners would have to pay the full land tax that you and Henry George’s followers want. How are they going to pay the banks? Are they going to pay the land rent on top of the mortgage interest, or are they going to default?

The reality is you would have massive defaults and foreclosures by the banks taking over the properties of families and cities that had collected the land rent for themselves. You can’t have the same rent paid to two different parties. You have the land rent either paid to the government or paid to the banks. If you pay it to the government, then you’ll take it away from the banks. And the banks will use American law to say that this is appropriation of property without compensation. You really would need a new constitution, and that would need a revolution. A revolution is a step function, a discontinuity. You cannot have a continuity to make a rational economic system pasted on to an irrational economic system at the margin. You have to have a revolution.

Alanna: [01:16:33] The template needs to be for a nonviolent revolution based on the Jubilee principles that you teach so well Michael, of debt cancellation and restore the land for the people.

Michael Hudson: [01:16:46] You may be non-violent. But the bankers and the landlords are not. One group will be non-violent and the other will be violent. Who’s going to win?

Alanna: [01:16:56] That’s where getting the military to understand the new system comes in.

Michael Hudson: [01:17:01] Well it’s true that much of the military did defect to Russia’s Communists in October 1917. But I’m not sure today’s military is like that. They’ll have special advisors, Blackwater or whatever that group was in Afghanistan. We don’t have as much military as we have the advisers that we’ve hired, or we’ll just bring our foreign legion in. We’ll bring ISIS and they’ll fight for the landlords.

Alanna: [01:17:31] Well, it’s the same thing globally. It’s the same thing of what this discussion is Pepe and Michael about “in quest of a multipolar world” the hegemon up against up against three rivals as Pepe points out Iran, China and Russia, trying to be sovereign. We are again at a violent point.

Michael Hudson: [01:17:56] Yep, absolutely.

Pepe Escobar: [01:17:58] Yep. I think people want to ask a few questions. So, before we move to the questions, I selected one particular sentence, which more or less encapsulates where we are at the moment geopolitically. I don’t know if you agree with me. So I’m, throwing this fragmentation bomb out. Zbig Brzezinski in the famous, The Grand Chessboard published in 1997. I think this sentence is more or less the definition of the empire of chaos in the modern era until now. So, what was Zbig saying? The three grand imperatives of Imperial geostrategy are:

To prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals. So a security dependence among vassals – so far, basically Germany and Japan, which are the key hubs in the Rimland and to control the heartland and isolate the Heartland. If America could control two key hubs in the Rimland they will get the job done, which is more or less what happened for decades, right?

Continuing with Zbig. Tributaries, pliant and protected. Then we can go all the way from Latin America to the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia, right? And to keep the barbarians from coming together. So when he wrote that in 1997, he meant the barbarians, obviously Eurasia, like the old rear Asia of the golden horde invading Kiev in the 13th century. But he meant essentially Russia and China. So, what do we have now? We have the three sovereigns getting together. Iran Russia and China. We have a strategic partnership between peer competitors, Russia and China, which was a Brzezinski and his acolytes’, supreme nightmare. The Americans need to prevent the emergence of a peer competitor in Eurasia.

Now they have a strategic partnership. So now, what that means is that Pax Americana in a nutshell is completely unraveling. That’s when we reached the possibility of a sort of Samson option by the 0.001%. They are little by little being expelled from Eurasia. So, this could create the conditions for an absolutely demented Dr. Strangelove kind of adventure, which even some generals in the US are already saying they are. These people are completely nuts. They are talking about the possibility of a nuclear war without advising the population of the United States and the rest of the world that the next war is going to be the last. So, this is where we are at the moment, I would say an incandescent crossroads, all of our history. And even if we look in real-politic terms some of the possibilities are beyond the ominous, right?

Michael Hudson: [01:21:21] Well, if you’re China or Russia, I think you’re saying that there was a kind of inversion of the direction of barbarism of the Golden Horde. Today, Europe is the barbarian trying to break into the Eurasian core. Think of what Brzezinski said about how the barbarians can prevent their own allies from working together in Europe. I think your point is quite right. If it’s an atomic war, and it will wipe out the world. As you know, I worked with Herman Kahn for many years. He said that there are going to be some survivors. I think that in Russia the other day President Putin said if there’s any missile of any kind coming in, it’s assumed to be atomic. And they’re going to retaliate in kind.

I can imagine Mr. Putin and Mr. Biden getting together and saying, “Look, I know that you’re trying to provoke us. We are going to respond militarily, but let’s not fight against each other. We have 20 atom bombs. We’ll take out England and London, Manchester and Frankfurt, but not Berlin because that’s East German; but Munich, Stuttgart, and certainly Brussels and Paris just to show you what can be done. You can try to use your defense to stop it, but let’s agree we’ll only knock out each other’s proxies. We won’t go to war with each other.”

I can imagine the Americans saying, “Well, that’s fine. No more Europe. So now we will be the leaders. We won’t have Europe to contend with anymore. We will just have ourselves. This will sort of stabilize things for the next 50 years. Europe will be devastated, and we can help rebuild it like we did after World War II. And this time, we’ll lock in our control even more. Russia and China can go their own way. And then, in 50 years, we’ll see whether there’s any kind of relation that we can have.”

I can see them making a deal like that. The Americans want war. The people that Biden has appointed have an emotional hatred of Russia. I’ve spoken to government people who are close to the Democratic Party, and they’ve told me that there’s a pathological emotional desire for war with Russia, largely stemming from the fact that the Tzars were anti-Semitic and there’s still the hatred about their ancestors: “Look what they did to my great-grandfather.” And so they’re willing to back the Nazis, back the anti-Semites in Ukraine. They’re willing to back today’s anti-Semites all over the world as long as they’re getting back at this emotional focus on a kind of post 19th-century economy.

I’ve met these people. Their emotion is one of hatred and anger. You can look at their face and see what they’ve become. This is really dangerous. They are crazy. And Putin is quite right. America has got its power by breaking contracts. It broke all of the contracts with the native Americans to take their land. It’s broken the Iranian contract. It broke most recently the Ukrainian Minsk agreement, and the JCP before. So what’s the point of making an agreement with any Americans, if they’re going to say, “Okay, now that we’ve got a compromise. You’ve given me and we’ve given. Now, let’s take that as a beginning point. We’re going to break that old agreement and we’re going to ask you for yet more.” They call that salami tactics. Slicing and slicing and slicing. So, I can see that essentially America telling Ukrainians, “Let’s you and Russia fight – to the last Ukrainian.”

And I think it would be Western Ukrainians, the people who used to be part of Poland.

Pepe Escobar: [01:25:00] And we, we call it, Bandera Land. Perfect. Okay.

Questions and Answers

Alanna: [01:25:06] Now David Spangler once said that the “role of the prophet is to preach the doom, to wake people up”. And that we’re certainly preaching, showing the doom right now. And the role of the priest is to show the new way, the new direction. So do we want to have another half hour or so for this? Can Pepe and Michael stay on because we do have some questions from those who’ve been listening. I see Ed Dodson’s hand is up, and then Tom Rossman, and then I’ll be looking at the chat questions.

Ed are you able to talk with us now and ask your question?

Ed Dodson: [01:25:46] Okay. As I’m listening to you, Michael, and not to you Pepe so much, but Michael’s gloom and doom, I keep thinking that the one opportunity the people of the world have is to go back to Proudhon and the whole concept of mutualism to create societies within societies. With all the positive components that have been raised, public banking and labor organizations, I just wonder. I know you have a relationship with Richard Wolf, Michael, in your conversations with him, he’s so positive about the socialism attached to the cooperative movement and places like Mondragon are these avenues. And Pepe you might want to comment on this, about countries other than the Western democracies. Is this an opportunity for people to come together under a common philosophy, a set of principles that would operate independent of the nation-state?

Michael Hudson: [01:26:57] There are many areas where a mutualism works. Farmer’s markets, distributors and small factories like in Mondragon. However, how are you going to have a mutual oil company? That’s very capital intensive. How will you have mutualism in a high-speed railway transport system? How will you have mutualism in building a system of foreign ports? Like what China’s doing with the belt and road extension.

Mutualism is very good when labor is the main element of all this. But once you have a strong capital element, and where it’s very capital intensive with not much labor, it’s very hard to see where the mutualism is. Suppose an oil company 10 oil producers making $10 million a year in profit. Are they going to just give each other a million dollars each? What about the rest of the economy? One mutual group can be cut off from another. In fact, when I went through the Basque country (I was brought over by the labor unions) some of the unions were complaining that Mondragon doesn’t want labor unions.

Yes, it’s a cooperative, but they don’t want a labor union. So, mutualism can only work as a particular sector of the economy. It can’t be the economy. Proudhon wrote a lot about compound interest. He said that debt is going to grow so large that it can’t be repaid. You’ll have to be able to deal with that. So you can’t really have a mutual banking based on compound interest and everybody getting deeper and deeper into debt. Proudhon-style also wanted to tax the land and Marx wrote a long discussion explaining why a Proudhon mutualism wouldn’t work. In The Poverty of Philosophy, a response to Proudhon’s Philosophy of Poverty, he pointed out what was progressive and predominant to a point, became unprogressive after a point.

Alanna: [01:28:49] Okay, thank you, Michael. I want to read this from Carl Sanchez in the chat. He says that the purpose of the federal government is to form a more perfect union. Do you think it’s possible to rally the reds and blues into a coalition of purples to reassert those government goals?

Michael Hudson: [01:29:17] Well, you already have them together we already have a purple. You have the blue Wall Street and the red oil industry and mining industry. You have both kinds of the rentier 1% all together in one happy purple rentier duopoly controlling the political system.

Alanna: [01:29:34] Well then, relevant to the impossible task. Walter wants to know what’s the new HR 1 law, Michael that you mentioned that prevents or will prevent third parties.

Michael Hudson: [01:29:43] I think it’s 700 pages. so I can’t go through the whole thing. But there’s a lot of discussion in today’s Internet about it. If you look at Naked Capitalism, the site run by Yves Smith, she has a citation of articles that explain why it’s aimed to prevent the green party or any other kind of reform party. The idea is to prevent any alternative to the hardline democratic pro-Wall Street, pro-pharmaceutical industry. Essentially you’re going to have Obamanomics with a sledgehammer, particularly against the Black and Hispanic populations.

Tom Rossman: [01:30:29] Great. Thanks Alanna. So your comments about the war reminded me of an Albert Einstein quote. He said, I do not know with what weapons world war three will be fought but world war four will be fought with sticks and stones. So, it kind of reminded me of that. And so, my question is you know, based on the fact that, you know, it’s pretty, pretty well established that narratives really drive people’s economic behavior.

What is the type of narrative that can kind of shift the Overton window in the direction that we all seem to want to go? And if there isn’t a narrative that could shift the Overton window, is the only alternative then revolution – potentially violent revolution.

Michael Hudson: [01:31:11] Well, my narrative is about how civilization has developed. I published the first volume of “… and Forgive them their Debts” to show how civilization took off, and narrates how the idea was to create resilience in an economy – how you would wipe out the debt, you would wipe out of the debt bondage, you’d restore free liberty to the people. That worked for thousands of years.

I’m just finishing now the second volume, The Collapse of Antiquity. That’s about how Greece and Rome, and hence subsequent Western civilization, made a complete break from the Near East. They didn’t cancel the debts. Western civilization was oligarchic from the beginning. There never was really a democracy here except for a very short revolution in the seventh and sixth centuries BC, catalyzed by the “tyrants.” What you think of as democracy, the rule by the people overthrowing the oligarchy, was called tyranny in Greece. In Rome it was called “seeking kingship,” because what did kings were able to do. Kings kept the oligarchs in place, just as the tyrants redistributed the land and cancelled the debts in Corinth and other Greek cities, and finally Solon did that in an Athens after Sparta did it . So if you see that our civilization doesn’t have to be this way, that Western civilization has taken a wrong turn – and it’s a rentier turn that earlier civilizations didn’t have – then you can see there is an alternative. And once you see there is an alternative, you have a narrative that can show the kind of future.

Well, Marx had one kind of alternative like that worked in the late 19th century. The classical economists had an alternative leading into Marxism. I’m now publishing my long lecture series in China on The Fight for Civilization: Rentier Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism. I’m trying to show what is positive in China system and still needs to be done. There are plenty of alternatives, but the fact is that the West – as Pepe and I’ve described – are set on fighting against an alternative that would make other people prosperous. They fought against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. You have the ruling classes in America and Europe wanting to concentrate all the wealth in their own hand. They’re against the whole wave of democratic reform that the 19th century was all for. The 19th century was for a land tax. It was for public banking. It was all public infrastructure to lower the cost of doing business. This was taught in the business schools in America. But all that has been expurgated from economic history and from the history of social thought – into the memory hole, as George Orwell would say. So, you have to let people know that there’s been a whole suppressed history, not only of civilization but as recently as the 19th century concerning where civilization was going. There has been a counter-revolution. In America you have people saying anything that promotes democracy, anything that’s antiwar is a propaganda for Russia, because who’s trying to avoid war Russia. So, if you believe what Alanna believes and you want a peaceful world, then you’re pro-Putin.

Alanna: [01:34:33] David Lee has a question for Pepe. He says, what do you think are the possibilities that Lula can (A) be allowed to win an election in Brazil, and (B) return Brazil to the BRICS?

Pepe Escobar: [01:34:50] Wow. Assuming he would run and win an election, the first things he will do of course, is to get the back to BRICS. That is what Lula would do in terms of policy, because he believes in it. And because he was one of the main drivers of the BRICS union, but because Putin and (as I get from our connections in Moscow, in Beijing, they are dying for it to happen. Obviously, their ministry of foreign affairs cannot express this in public, especially the Chinese, because the Chinese are very reactive and very cautious in terms of emitting their opinions on internal policy, even if they’re their allies.

I’m trying to get some feedback from Russian analysts in the next few days about what happened in Brazil in this past few days, and to see how the Kremlin and the ministry of foreign affairs view the possibility of Lula being back in the game. But the most important thing is whether he will be allowed to be back in the game. Considering the Kabuki telenovela configuration moment that’s a major if. This would only happen if there is a deal cut in the shadows. Lula is very good at cutting deals. He’s a master negotiator, probably in terms of an international statesman, he’s the number one master negotiator in the world for the past two decades. But this is very, very complicated because it involves the military, who run the show in Brazil. It involves the Brazilian ruling class the 0. I would say the 0.00001% in Brazil. You have no idea in terms of an absolutely rapacious, ignorant, arrogant, and absolutely disgusting ruling class. I had the displeasure to meet these people when I still lived in Brazil years ago. So, if they think that Lula might be good for business, which means their own exploitation business, rentier business inside Brazil, allied and as subordinates to the masters of the universe in New York and the beltway, they would allow it.

But then, Lula will have to convince more than just these people. He’ll have to convince the military and he’ll have to convince the market – you know, this entity that rules Brazil and is reaping all the benefits of the destruction of Brazil. And the fourth component is the media. In Brazil that means the Globo network, which plays a role that in the US would be equivalent to all the major US networks, plus CNN, Fox and all that, but concentrated in only one media and buyer. This is very complicated because they have the same interest of the Brazilian ruling class. They have the same interests of the military, and they have their own monopolistic interests in terms of controlling the flow of public information to the mass of Brazilians. But now at least there is a counter movement, which is via social networks and the internet.

So they have been losing ground, but still, if you look at the 8:00 PM newscast in Brazil, every night people who are in the middle of the Amazon or in the deserts, in the Northeast, they are tuning to Globo and they get their news from Globo Open TV, not paid cable. So if Lula wins, wow, this is titanic. If he’s able to navigate all of these interests and prove to them that he is good for their business, this means that you have to make a lot of concessions, just like Michael explained to us in the beginning. He had to make concessions when he was first elected . And even with that, he managed to turn a little bit of the game around in Brazil, in terms of bringing 30 million people out of poverty. In terms of having a more decent minimum wage, you name it, and basic income for a lot of people in the middle of nowhere. So to have this back under negotiation, it is going to be much harder than it was in the early two thousands, right before Shock and Awe, by the way. It’s, crazy to remember that the first Lula government came to power two months before Shock and Awe, which we’re going to have the anniversary next week,. So, it’s complex. It’s extremely complicated to explain this to an international audience. The complexity of the game in Brazil is absolutely mind boggling. And the absolute majority of the Brazilians have no clue what’s going on because it’s one fragmentation bomb after another, like a semiotic free for all. It’s completely crazy, but if there’s only one person that could pull that off, that would be Lula.

Alanna: [01:40:10] Well praise be Lula. This is a question and a rather long comment that will draw out more on this “in quest of a multipolar world”, and it’s for both of you to respond because he mentioned both of you. This is from Zach for Pepe. What, what do you believe is the future of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization? Will it become stronger and work a closer Alliance between its member States, sort of like NATO, or it will keep being a loose association? And then, where is India going to orient to? He’s also curious about the Bretton Woods and how it was established, was it the brainchild and one or two economists, like Keynes? Was It designed by a genius? How are we going to relate to this Bretton Woods? Are we going to be able to break free? Are Russia and China clearly going to break free?

Michael Hudson: [01:41:08] That’s what the talk is about you know. I think the first discussion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Western media was an op-ed I did for the Financial Times of London. Nobody was mentioning it.

The idea was that it was only marginal, it’s going to go away. There was always a sense of denial in the West that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization could develop a different economic philosophy of development. And that’s what we’re really talking about. It’s not simply an organization of people wanting to help each other. It’s the way they’re trying to help each other. It’s a mode of development. It’s the idea that any rent-yielding resource – banking, land, natural resources and natural infrastructure monopolies – should be in the public domain to provided basic needs to everybody freely. That essentially means that the private sector won’t have to pay for services that should be available to everybody, at the minimum cost. If you privatize them as in the West, they’re going to be provided at a financialized maximum cost, including interest rates, dividends management fees, corporate manipulation for capital gains, and stock and bond buyback programs. It’s a whole different economic philosophy.

Well, there is no need for China or Russia or Iran to go to war to do this. They’re doing it. They can do it quite simply. They don’t need a revolution to do it, because they don’t have a vested interest fighting against them and killing them if they do it. If the West wants to resist this, and all the West can do is number one, kill its own leaders who want to do something like this. If they have a Latin American leader, if you have Venezuela trying to use this oil wealth for the public good, then you isolate and attack Venezuela. If you have a Honduran president who wants to distribute the land, you have a coup d’ etat and give it to the drug dealers to run. They’ll be pro-American. If you have anyone in the West who tries to do something productive, you marginalize them and prevent them. And if there’s a threat of China and Russia and Iran growing, then you try to do what Americans did to Russia in the 1920s. You will fight it militarily you at their borders, you fund color revolutions, so that they have to dissipate the wealth that they create in military overhead to match the military overhead of the United States. The dream today is to make Ukraine Russia’s Afghanistan.

Pepe Escobar: [01:43:53] Yeah, absolutely.

Michael Hudson: [01:43:55] Yeah. The difference is what gives China and Russia the advantage. Defense is only 10% as expensive as offense. America needs a huge offense, and it needs huge corruption. To be offensive, America has to corrupt European politics, corrupt the labor union, the corrupt the whole educational system, corrupt the media into junk media and junk economics.

And it has to have enormous profits for the military-industrial complex. That is America’s version of industrial capitalism. All China and Russia have to do is develop high-speed missiles, the defensive missiles to stop it. So they’re not being bled. It’s not going to be Russia’s Afghanistan. It’s America’s Afghanistan all over again.

Pepe Escobar: [01:44:47] I was just the one to compliment one minute what Michael said and answering the question as well, in terms of the importance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It has changed so much in the past few years. I remember years ago, I used to mention the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to people in Brussels, the European Union or European commission. They were saying, “No way. It’s not important. It’s ridiculous. It’s a talk shop, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Years ago, in fact in the early 2000s, it was essentially Russia, China and four of the central Asian states against terrorism, against separatism. And then, little by little, they started to evolve. Now it’s also a trade and investment cooperation organization. I went to some of the round tables of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, for instance, in the St Petersburg Economic Forum. There’s always a meeting of the SCO and it’s absolutely fascinating. You have Russians, Chinese and a lot of central Asians (not a single one Westerner) discussing trade deals. They are not only discussing terrorism, but also discussing the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan allied with the Taliban, that kind of things. They are discussing business. And now it’s even more important, because now with the expansion you have Russia, China, the Central Asians, and India and Pakistan as well. And sooner or later, not only as observers, but as full members, you’re going to have Turkey and Iran.

So, this means every single major player in the Eurasian arc, in the heartland in fact, is part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. To give a practical example, the solution for Afghanistan is being debated by them for years now. The Russian solution for Afghanistan was discussed with China and the other central Asians, especially Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which are neighbors of Afghanistan.

They want an SCO-brokered Asian solution for the Afghan problem. So what the Americans are proposing –or the American plan B’s, or C’s with the same Zalmay Khalilzad – they know this thing’s never going to work. And they have a direct conversation with Afghanistan, because Afghanistan is an associate member of the SCO as well. So it makes total sense. We see them all converging. You have the original economic union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Belt and Road initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – everybody’s converging and following more or less the same path. Later, you’re going to have a total integration of these organizations working for a common purpose in terms of security, of course, but also especially in terms of business.

Michael Hudson: [01:47:57] So the question is, why are other people not discussing what you and I are discussing? Why are people only talking about this on the web? Nothing in The New York Times or other mainstream media.

Pepe Escobar: [01:48:06] Nothing Michael. You will never read something like this in the Washington Post or The New York Times. They don’t even know what the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is.

Alanna: [01:48:19] Well, there’s more questions and comments coming in on chat, and we’re not going to be able to handle now, but I’m thinking maybe I’ll just copy and paste what everybody’s asked, and we’ll have another session with all the questions may be a good idea.

Pepe Escobar: Fantastic I think that’s a very good idea Alanna.

Alanna: Okay, great and thank you both, this has been sponsored by the Henry George School of Social Science. Please go to their website. They’re doing a lot of online courses on land rents and the land rent problem. The International Union for Land Value Taxation, iu.org. Please also sign up for our newsletter and connect with people around the world. We’re looking for socializing the land rents.

We’re now starting a conversation with the public banking Institute with a focus on Baltimore, which is why I had those questions. So again, I’m going to copy everything from chat. And then we’ll talk about having a session that will start in with the questions. I think has been a great overview.

We know we’re at a dangerous point. We know that we, the people, have got to get it together and provide a really clear direction now to the world. We are the people who are really thinking and concerned and, in many ways, privileged. I think we’re going to need to get to the military and get to those kinds of power people, and get them to think in terms of who are they protecting?

What are they protecting? What side are they going to be on? Because clearly, we do need a nonviolent revolution, we’re at a dangerous point. So, thank you, Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar. Thank you so very much all the best of both of you forever.

Pepe Escobar: [01:49:56] Thank you, Michael. Thanks a lot. Thanks everybody.

Ibrahima: [01:49:59] Thank you all very much. And we hope to see you again.

Pepe Escobar: [01:50:04] Absolutely.

US, Israel, EU election farces or ‘Allies of sovereignty’ – Iran, China, Russia?

Friday, 26 March 2021 2:02 PM  [ Last Update: Friday, 26 March 2021 2:02 PM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US, Israel & EU election farces or the ‘Allies of Sovereignty’ – Iran, China & Russia?
(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.)

By Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV

Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV.

Too bad the elections for European Parliament aren’t this year – we could have enjoyed all three tones of the chord of “liberal (aristocratic) democracy”.

The United States, the European Union and Israel – the triumvirate which dominates half the world and thinks it has the moral and intellectual right to rule the other half – obviously have incredibly flawed, domestically-denigrated and politically feckless elections. As time goes on the world can only be increasingly attracted to innovative alternative political models because this trio is so endemically dysfunctional.

In Israel voters just chose between the war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu or those who claim to be the colonizers who are the “sane” alternative. This election sham will likely need to be repeated for the fifth time in two years, but only a few thick Westerners ever claimed Israel is a democracy, anyway.

Thirty years after the United States penned the structures of the European Union – in a rush of Cold War euphoria and arrogance – there may not be elections which are as meaningless and uninteresting to the actual voting public as those for EU Parliament.

The United States’ recent election was as bad as anyone could have expected, and Americans themselves expected the worst more often than anyone. So I don’t know why France-raised US Secretary of State Antony Blinken thought the last months and years of American carnage and discontent would go unnoticed abroad?

When Blinken assumed a Parisian pose of oblivious nonchalance at the first China-US summit and tried to shame China for not being Western enough, China was ready: his counterpart, Yang Jiechi, delivered an impromptu, blistering, 17-minute critique of America which was redolent of Mao’s era.

In short, Yang’s rebuttal contained well-known and totally accurate critiques of America’s capitalist-imperialist and liberal democratic structures. From “massacring the people of other countries” to the obvious “slaughtering” of African-Americans and beyond, Yang listed a poisonous cornucopia of the inevitable social evils which arise from such outdated social structures.

China’s standing up to the new administration in Washington – and at the very first opportunity – will mark a sea change in geopolitical affairs. China knew it was going to be targeted – as a welcoming gift Biden placed sanctions on two dozen Chinese officials just prior to the landing of their diplomats – and they eagerly responded with, “Let’s fight – ideologically – because it’s clear you don’t have a solid leg to stand on anymore.”

Out with the ‘Axis of Evil’ and in with the ‘Allies of Sovereignty’

Yang’s speech clearly ends the era of the “Axis of Evil”, declared by George W. Bush in his 2002 state of the union address, which put Iran, Iraq and North Korea at the top of the list for allegedly being sponsors of terrorism. However, the actual policy of America was: whoever was not “with us” was an evil entity for being “against us”, and thus Bush II essentially declared at the point of a spear that it was now a unipolar world.

In a new column titled “Welcome to shocked & awed 21st century geopolitics” indispensable global journalist Pepe Escobar agreed that China’s hour-long diplomatic give-and-take meant that “21st century geopolitics will never be the same again”. He also noted that the unified, unbowed response to Yang’s speech by Iran, China and Russia amounted to an open “triple slap on the (US) hegemon” with a dueling glove.

So what is it which unifies this Asian triumvirate?

It’s a group whose essential demand is something which resonates universally, and which was the only logical and inevitable retort to those (the US, EU & Israel) who insist on a unipolar world: it’s an “alliance of sovereignty”, i.e. the right to resist a unipolar world where domestic affairs cannot be decided locally. The fundamental basis of this stance is anti-imperialism.

Sovereignty is what France denies to Africa, what the Monroe Doctrine still denies to Latin America, what Israel denies to the Middle East and what – it’s often poorly understood – Brussels denies to the southern and eastern members of its own bloc. Sovereignty is an essential demand in a world full of nations but it’s an illegitimate demand and even seditious blasphemy to assert, as Yang did, that, “Neither the United States itself nor the Western world represent international public opinion.”

Let the US and Israel continue to wave the bloody flag of World War II and perhaps dub Iran, Russia and China the “Axis of Evil II” all they want: As the Yellow Vests, Brexit and Trump illustrate, many of their own subjects are already painfully aware that national sovereignty is a human right which has become unbearably stifled in favor of 1%-er capitalist globalization.

The roles of the ‘Allies of Sovereignty’ get more and more openly declared

Obviously, once China gets involved militarily then it’s all over – there will be a global victory for sovereignty.

Russia got involved militarily in Syria — the US lacked the diplomatic credibility for a repeat of the Iraq & Afghanistan invasions, and they lacked the military supremacy, and they also blinked because they have lost faith in their own cause — and they were able to assure the sovereignty of Syria.

Iran is the most involved militarily: they take the most risks and remain the most at risk of assaults – this is perhaps the price to be paid for earning the partnership of those two much larger regions, both of which are big enough to be continents. Revolutionary Iran has won many regional countries if not outright sovereignty then at least temporary reprieves, measures of peace and, that most essential ingredient, hope. Iran deranges the West the most: there is no logical reason for Iran to be included with these two much larger powers except for the fact that Iran obviously punches way above its weight solely via decades of advanced political modernity, social merit and intelligent redistribution of its natural economic resources.

China and Russia are in a conundrum which was made clear in both Yang’s remarks and by Russia’s official response, which said that Moscow’s relationship with the EU, “has been destroyed by unilateral decisions made from Brussels”: China and Russia are trying to uphold a rights-based system of international law with a triumvirate who has no respect for it.

The United Nations – the fulcrum of this system – is totally irrelevant to Americans. Given the “you’re either with us or against us” worldview they openly declared – with all the subsequent violations of international law via illegal sanctions, via Guantanamo Bay, via pulling out of treaties like the JCPOA, etc. – Moscow and Beijing should have realized that “only unilateral decisions” has been the Western worldview for many years. The West will never say what China and Russia apparently want to hear: “You’re either with the United Nations or against us.”

Contrarily, Iran has far fewer expectations that the UN is an impartial body. Going back to the chemical weapons atrocities by Iraq more than three decades ago, Iran sees it is quite necessary to take risks because the “international community” – dominated by Western interests and democracy-gutting vetoes – so often don’t come to save the innocent until after the bullets have flown.

What is the “international community”? To many – like the US – it is nothing. To others – like China, Russia and France – it is worth saving and using, and largely because they can get enough of what they want. To many others – like Iran and countless other nations – it is not useful without major reforms first. But these analyses are all moot:

The concept of national “sovereignty” can and must exist before, during and after any discussion of how, what, who, where or when this “international community” is formally arranged – refusal to recognize this necessarily implies some sort of one-state/unipolar world. 

“Sovereignty” needs allies today, but the situation of “sovereignty” is not as dire as it was in 2002, (although a Yellow Vest will certainly disagree). In case the new Biden administration was wondering they now know: Beijing is not about to side with the Western triumvirate (or, more accurately, their 1% class) over their own sovereignty.

If pushed like Russia was in Syria, Beijing may even fight to protect the sovereignty of certain other nations, such as Iran. 

Geopolitics moves much slower than the average person may think, but for a plethora of enormous reasons which go far beyond a debate in Alaska – four years of the curtain-lifting outsider Donald Trump, the “no strings attached for bankers” fiscal policy disasters of QE and ZIRP, an unregulated private high finance sector, the disputed election of Joe Biden, the atrocious Great Lockdown decisions of the West, etc. – the unilateral world ordered by the West has wilted. What we now have is two camps which contain half the world.

What’s key to grasp is that what is truly “up for grabs” is the other half: Latin America and Africa. For centuries they have had no sovereignty – and the plunder of their wealth is what led to the West’s current success – and restoring it is the inevitable goal of the “Allies of Sovereignty”.

Were the Western triumvirate (and we can include a fourth note to that chord: many of the key members of the 54-nation English Commonwealth) not so bloody capitalist-imperialist they would be working to maintain the current status quo between China and the West which has been, ultimately, mutually-beneficial for both groups for several decades.

However, Beijing said the new administration of Joe Biden came to the first Sino-US summit to emit “a strong smell of gunpowder and drama” – China was clearly unimpressed, and they clearly know who their real allies are.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.


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Sino-US Dialogue in Alaska: Outcomes.

Sino-US Dialogue in Alaska: Outcomes.

March 23, 2021

by Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

The first direct, high-level dialogue, under Joe Biden Administration, was held on 18-189 March 2021 in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Chinese Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the dialogue.

After welcoming the Chinese guests, Secretary of state Mr. Blinken accused China of many issues, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, and economic coercion toward our allies. Each of these actions threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability.

Director Yang responded that “What China and the international community follow or uphold is the United Nations-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law, not what is advocated by a small number of countries of the so-called rules-based international order. And the United States has its style — United States-style democracy –and China has the Chinese-style democracy. It is not just up to the American people, but also the people of the World, to evaluate how the United States has advanced its own democracy. After decades of reform and opening up in China’s case, we have come a long way in various fields. In particular, we have engaged in tireless efforts to contribute to the peace and development of the World and to upholding the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter.”

“The wars in this World are launched by some other countries, which have resulted in massive casualties. But for China, what we have asked for, for other countries, is to follow a path of peaceful development, which is the purpose of our foreign policy. We do not believe in invading through the use of force, in toppling other regimes through various means, or massacring other countries’ people because all of those would only cause turmoil and instability in this World. And at the end of the day, all of those would not serve the United States well. So we believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the World. Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States, and they have various views regarding the government of the United States. In China, according to opinion polls, China’s leaders have the wide support of the Chinese people. So no attempt to — the opinion polls conducted in the United States show that China’s leaders have the support of the Chinese people. No attempt to smear China’s social system would get anywhere. Facts have shown that such practices would only lead the Chinese people to rally more closely around the Communist Party of China and work steadily towards the goals that we have set for ourselves.”

“Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan are an inalienable part of China’s territory. China is firmly opposed to U.S. interference in China’s internal affairs. We have expressed our staunch opposition to such interference, and we will take firm actions in response. On human rights, we hope that the United States will do better on human rights. China has made steady progress in human rights, and the fact is that there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which is admitted by the U.S. itself as well. The United States has also said that countries can’t rely on force in today’s World to resolve the challenges we face. And it is a failure to use various means to topple the so-called authoritarian states. And the challenges facing the United States in human rights are deep-seated. They did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter. It did not come up only recently. So we do hope that for our two countries, it’s important that we manage our respective affairs well instead of deflecting the blame on somebody else in this World. We’ve had a confrontation in the past, and the result did not serve the United States well. China will pull through and has pulled through such confrontation.”

Outcomes:

China availing this opportunity has conveyed that China will not accept U.S. supremacy and will not accept dictation. China will not allow any country to interfere in its domestic issues. Generally speaking, the Chinese are well-mannered, polite, submissive, and friendly people. It seems that the U.S. has crossed all the limits where China have to take a firm and blunt stand and express their point of view so clearly. It is up to the U.S. administration to analyze the Chinese response and do their homework before meeting them again.

The World has conceived well that the U.S. can not sustain its hegemony anymore. It is no longer a unipolar world, and the U.S. is no longer a unique superpower. The U.S. needs to understand the emerging geopolitics and have to accept realities. It might need to share power with other rising nations and respect them. The U.S. must keep in mind the existence of other emerging nations’ potential while making any decision.

It is an established fact that the U.S., after enjoying the global leadership role for seven decades, may not sustain this status anymore. The U.S. is on the decline and, with every passing day, may decline further. Whereas China is a rising power and, with the passage of each day, may grow further. The time is on the Chinese side. If Americans are wise, they might give up confronting China and extend cooperation to be the beneficiary of Chinse rise. There exists enormous goodwill about America among the general public in China.

The American claim of promoting democracy and the law-based rule is no more trusted as the Americans are a supporter of all dictators in the oil-rich Gulf countries in the Middle-East. The U.S. was behind the toppling of the democratically elected legitimate Government of Mr. Adil Morsey in Egypt. Again, it was the U.S. who was among the first nations to support the dictator General Sissi in Egypt. American history is full of supporting dictators around the globe. Regarding law-based rule, it is just a joke. It was the U.S. that destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.

Under the Trump Administration, America was deteriorated in respect of human rights violations, hate among various ethnicities in America. And official discriminatory laws were introduced against Muslims; immigration laws were biased. The pandemic was mismanaged, the economy was collapsed. President Trump harmed America so severely that it might take several decades to recover such losses. President Trump has offended some of his close allies too.

President Joe Biden’s remarks about President Putin were misconceived and may spoil the geopolitics further. More tensions between Russia and the U.S. are predictable visibly. It may cement China-Russia relations further.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

US support for the project of Greater Albania

US support for the project of Greater Albania

March 24, 2021

By Ljubiša Malenica for the Saker Blog

The Greater Albania project has its roots in the nineteenth century and idea of ​​the Prizren League to unite in one territorial unit all areas that were allegedly originally inhabited by Albanians. The Prizren League itself can be seen as an extension of the Ottoman authorities, since it was founded in 1878, immediately after the end of the war between Russia, Serbia and Montenegro against Turkey.

Given that Turkey was defeated in the war, Istanbul had to look for other methods of protecting its own interests during the peace process. League was equipped with weapons and ammunition by the Porte, members of the organization were individuals well known for their loyalty to the Sultan, and Ottoman authorities took upon themselves the responsibility of paying for congress in Prizren. All these facts support the thesis claiming Prizren League was an organization created as expression of Ottoman interests in the Balkans.[1]

Turkey’s interests have been significantly undermined by the San Stefano Peace Treaty and the Berlin Congress, and, as might be expected, the Prizren League took a negative stance towards both peace conferences. Moreover, during the Berlin Congress, the League sent a memorandum to the major powers asking for recognition of the Albanian national identity, a very illustrative fact in itself, and the realization of autonomy within the Ottoman Empire for all territories that would compose the so-called “Greater Albania”.[2]

Simultaneously with these documents, an additional memorandum was sent to the Berlin Congress, called the Skadar Memorandum, requesting from Great Britain[3] to take upon itself the role of a guarantor for the creation of the Albanian state. Considering the role of London as a self-proclaimed balancer whose main goal was to maintain the status quo in continental Europe, the Albanian choice is not surprising.

In terms of political relations during the period in question, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro have already been allies of Moscow on several occasions. The same could be expected if Greece became independent. The development of the situation at that moment was already, obviously, to the detriment of Istanbul, and any future conflict in the Balkans would mean a further liberation of the territories previously occupied by the Ottomans. The First and Second Balkan Wars are illustrative cases in point. Given that all Slavic countries in the Balkans, at that period, had an interest in preserving the alliance and cultural ties with Russia, the eventual withdrawal of Turkey from the Balkans and the re-establishment of Slavic statehood would create a situation in which most of the Balkan Peninsula would find itself within the Russian sphere of influence.

London could not afford such a development given the understandable, and on many previous occasions expressed, fear of a united continental Europe in whose presence the British Isles would be a negligible force, probably subordinated to cultural and political dictates of the continental center of power.

The realization of Albanian ambitions did not come with the Berlin Congress, but they did not have to wait long for creation of their own state, with the blessing of official London. After the end of the First Balkan War, the Ottoman Empire was completely expelled from the majority of Balkan Peninsula. Despite the fact that the Albanians did not play any role in liberation of the occupied territories from Ottoman rule, London Agreement of 1913 established the independent state of Albania.

In addition to earlier mentioned documents created by the Prizren League, Albanian pretensions towards the territories of the surrounding peoples can be seen in this period through the actions of Ismail Cemali. In the midst of the First Balkan War, Cemali gathers representatives of the Albanians in city of Vlora, where they proceed to adopt the declaration on independence of Albania.

If we take into account that representatives in question came from all parts of the four Ottoman provinces (vilayets), i.e. Kosovo, Skadar, Janjina and Bitola, back then inhabited by Albanians, it can be assumed that Albania, imagined by the present delegates, included the territorial totality of all four mentioned provinces. Claims on lands of others become clear when one realizes that Albanians represented a minority in a significant part of the four provinces. Representatives gathered in Vlora were not elected representatives, so it is unsurprising this declaration of independence was completely ignored by both the Ottoman Empire and the then great powers. The Albanian state established during the London Conference was defined within significantly more modest borders.

During the Second World War, Albania was known as Greater Albania in the period from 1939 until 1943, and had status of an Italian protectorate which incorporated, after the fall of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, parts of Serbia. During their rule, the Italians found a natural ally in the irredentist aspirations of the Albanian elite towards the territories of the neighboring peoples where Albanians lived, regardless of the numerical ratio between them and the domicile population. It is a historical fact that period of Italian occupation was accompanied by a large number of crimes committed by Albanians against the local population in the occupied territories.

After the collapse of Italy and defeat of Germany, the short-lived state project of “Greater Albania” ended like the Independent State of Croatia, but the aspirations remained. After the fall of communist regime in the early 1990s, irredentist claims again occupied a significant part of the political and intellectual thought within Albania.

Considering the influence of United States in the Balkans during the last three decades, there can be no doubt that activities in question, intentionally or not, were in favor of the idea of Greater Albania. Both during the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and during war in Kosmet, Washington’s position was obviously in favor of Serbian enemies. The conduct of organizations under the influence or direct leadership of the United States, both during military operations and in peacetime, was undoubtedly directed against Serbian interest in any shape or form. This fact alone was enough to strengthen the position idea of Greater Albania had within Albanian population, given that over time its realization seemed to become more and more probable.

Ethnic cleansing of Serbs from the Federation of BiH and Croatia, carried out with silent blessing from the West, served as a pattern of behavior that Albanians could apply during the Kosovo conflict without fear of criticism or intervention. There was no trepidation Tirana could be bombed by NATO planes due to the ethnic cleansing of Kosmet by the KLA.

Revitalization of the idea of​​ Greater Albania, in its core, is not so much about the American relationship with the Albanians as it is about US perception of the Serbs.

The statement of George Kenney, a former Yugoslavia desk officer at the US state department, is an illustrative example how was Yugoslavia perceived as a state, and by extension, Serbs as a people who were most interested in its preservation. In a 2008 statement to the British Guardian, Kenney pointed out that “In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization”.[4]

In addition to American interests, the role of Germany, which immediately after its unification took a hostile attitude towards Yugoslavia and the Serbs, should not be forgotten. Considering the last one hundred and twenty years of European history, one gets the impression that the desire for domination of the continent by Germany is the main catalyst for a significant part of the misfortune which befell Europe.

In a world characterized by the hegemonic role of the United States, after the disappearance of the Soviet Union, it was inevitable that the ideological features of the victor, in this case capitalism, globalism, free trade, multiculturalism, and democracy, would become a model for transformation of other countries, regardless of their wishes and desires of the domicile population.

The characteristics of the victorious ideology were, of course, largely beneficial to the United States themselves, given that the system was established with the aim of reproducing, into infinity, American, and to a lesser extent West European, global dominance. It is not surprising that all serious forms of opposition to the imposed system were seen as a danger, given that at the same time they represented a departure from the propagandist illusion there were no alternatives to the new state of affairs, that the system represented the best way to regulate social relations and that everyone benefited from it.

The fact that the new system quickly took on the outlines of a neocolonial model of behavior, especially towards Eastern European countries, with pronounced demographic and economic parasitism embodied in legal structures and norms of both the European Union and other world organizations such as the IMF and World Bank, was supposed to remain hidden behind an appropriate smokescreen of consumer culture and a general degradation of cultural standards in behavior and action.

The geopolitical interests of Washington, and of the West in general, in conjunction with their economic interests, were not to be called into question by opposition, especially by a state such as Yugoslavia or a people such as Serbs. Allowing the general narrative of globalization and the norms and quality of the Western model to be questioned by small states and peoples was unthinkable, given that it would simultaneously point to the existence of imbalances and problems within the model itself and would further give the impression that the model itself was subject to change through dialogue and consensus. As we have already mentioned, the very purpose of the model was contrary to this development and force, both in legal and physical terms, remained the only way to protect interests of the original creators of an ideology that until recently was considered irreplaceable.

The easiest way to deal with Yugoslavia and the Serbs was to encourage internal divisions and recruit non-Serb local elites into implementation of American goals. One obvious example was the influence of Warren Zimmerman[5] on the beginning of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Gathering representatives of all three sides in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portuguese Ambassador to Sarajevo at that time, Jose Cutileiro, and the British Lord Peter Carrington succeeded in creating a plan for the division and decentralization of Bosnia and Herzegovina that was, to an extent, satisfactory for all three sides.

The agreement, also known as the Lisbon Treaty, was signed by representatives of all three sides on March 18, 1992. Ten days later, US Ambassador Warren Zimmerman arrives in Sarajevo where he meets with Alija Izetbegovic. Soon after, Izetbegovic quickly withdraws his signature from the previously reached arrangement. Although there is no documentation, or other direct record, of what was said during this meeting between Zimmerman and Izetbegovic, sequence of events is far from accidental and indicates a high degree of connection between the encounter and the outbreak of war in BiH.

According to unofficial information, during the meeting, Zimmerman gave Izetbegovic a firm assurance that United States were ready to recognize Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent country. The fact that Washington recognized BiH as an independent state only nine days after the meeting, on April 7, 1992, just as Zimmermann claimed, gives credence to the unofficial information about the nature of the Zimmerman-Izetbegovic meeting. Recognizing independence of a certain state, in itself as a process, is not something that happens spontaneously and quickly, especially due to the situation Bosnia and Herzegovina found itself in at that time. Given that it took the US administration less than ten days to make such a decision, implies that decision had already been made. US only awaited a suitable moment in order to make the decision public.

During a statement for Canadian CTVNews in 2012, former Canadian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, James Bissett, gave additional weight to earlier claims regarding Zimmerman’s role in the beginning of the Bosnian civil war. Namely, during the conversation, Bissett pointed out without hesitation that “the trigger was really when the American ambassador persuaded Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim leader in Bosnia, to renounce his signature and withdraw his signature from an agreement that had been reached earlier, negotiated by the Portuguese foreign minister…That meant that Bosnia could become independent, but there would be three autonomous regions. They all signed that, but my neighbor that lived across the street from me, Warren Zimmerman, the US ambassador convinced Alija Izetbegovic to renounce that agreement and declare unilateral independence, and that the United States would immediately recognize an independent Bosnia…”[6]

Events related to crisis in Kosmet followed a very similar pattern. Albanians in Kosovo served the interests of Washington in the same manner that Muslims did on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Just as Muslims were promised support and independence of a state which they saw exclusively as their own, so the Albanians were, in essence, offered the opportunity to realize the idea of ​​a Greater Albania.

The August 1993 New York Times article, surprisingly professionally written, conveys the opinion of most US officials, who largely agree that Washington made a mistake in insisting on an independent and multicultural Bosnia and Herzegovina despite domestic leaders agreeing to divide the country. This view of the situation recently reappeared on the scene with the texts of Timothy Less, who proposes supporting the unification of the Republic of Srpska and Serbia as compensation for the recognition of independent Kosovo by Belgrade.[7][8]

Of course, Less looks at things from perspective of interests of the United States and expects Serbs, after American blessing of unification, to approach the United States and turn their backs on Moscow. Whether American diplomacy will accept these suggestion remains to be seen, but the fact that this option is being discussed at all should serve as a lesson to Serbian neighbors that in the last three decades they have not fought against Serbs so much for their own interests as they did for American ones.

As author stated earlier in the text, the Balkan problem of Washington, from the perspective of the United States, comes down to the question of Serbs. An illustration of this can be found in the New York Times article mentioned above. Namely, part of the article is dedicated to the statement of Warren Zimmerman, who, defending the earlier American policy, pointed out that “our view was that we might be able to head off a Serbian power grab by internationalizing the problem…Our hope was the Serbs would hold off if it was clear Bosnia had the recognition of Western countries. It turned out we were wrong.”[9]

Although a short statement, it is very indicative and leads to several important questions. If we take into account the nature of the Lisbon Treaty, which Ambassador Warren torpedoed during his conversation with Izetbegovic, why was the power takeover by the Serbs a problem? Moreover, since the territorial units envisaged by the Carrington-Cutilier plan were based on the national principle, Serbs, by taking power in their areas, would do the same as the other two groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the other hand, why was the internationalization of the problem necessary? The problem was already, in large part, nearing a solution that was accepted by all three parties. Why were Serbs expected, almost by some kind of automatism, to give up their interests and demands in a situation where West recognized Bosnia and Herzegovina declaration of independence?

All these questions make sense and their answers are relatively obvious if we accept position that the moves of American diplomacy were not aimed at defusing the situation or achieving solution to crisis in BiH, but against the interests of Serbs. The language used by Zimmerman implies Serbs are the destabilizing factor and threat to the situation within the country at the time, despite all the facts to the contrary. The American vision of BiH, interpreted through Zimmerman’s statement, implied complete political domination of Sarajevo and the Muslim political leadership, a unitary state structure accompanied, for the sake of US internal propaganda, with labels of multiethnicity and multiculturalism. Serbs, and partly Croats, were expected to give up upon their own interests.

The irony of history is reflected in fact that the Dayton Agreement itself, which achieved peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was relatively similar to the Lisbon Agreement.

For a better understanding of American policy towards Serbs during the 1990s and after conflict in the former Yugoslavia ended, it is necessary to pay attention to the previously mentioned victorious ideology which, after collapse of the USSR, gained status of a globally applicable template for shaping societies.

Due to the specifics of American history, a thread of racial relations between the inhabitants of the United States always ran through American society. Over time, this led to the development of complexes which were twisted by the political forces in United States, particularly the Democratic Party, into political and social power simultaneously encompassing both white and black population. Within the Hollywood dichotomy of guilt, whites in the US were assigned the role of malfeasants while blacks, along with other minorities, became victims. The former developed a guilt complex while in the latter, victim complex was encouraged. In both cases, the encouragement of these complexes took extreme forms and was from the very beginning completely divorced from historical facts. Resistance to these processes did exist in the United States, and still exists today, but the foundation of the future American society was laid.

Multiculturalism, as one element of the new world order, introduced a whole range of other minorities into the previously outlined social formula, which mostly referred to the American population of European and African descent. New minorities encompassed both minorities based on their nation and groups that became minorities because of a particular characteristic, such as sexual orientation or a specific view of one’s own gender. The artificial multiplication of minorities led to a specific development of the earlier abuser-victim relationship, and soon, in opposition to white “malfeasants”, a mass of “victims” appeared, diverse in their minority status but monolithic in their role of victims.

Globalism, as one of the key elements of American ideology, transferred the insane perception of racial relations within the United States to the global level, predefining “good and bad guys” without taking into account the local context events or their development.

The European left, by its very nature inclined to such ideological ramshackle, and itself without an original idea, accepted this view of history and society, thus providing support to the Americanization of European nations. In his book “Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy”, Paul Gottfried points out that “for the Left, especially in Europe, the post-Cold War United States is the enforcer of “antifascist” and multicultural ideas that are triumphing in American society and among its human-rights allies. The long-demonized American capitalist empire no longer upsets the European Left as monolithically as it once did…For the Left, at least until the recent war against terrorism, the United States has become an indispensable partner in promoting its work, against obstinate European nationalists and antiglobalists.”[10]

In the early 1990s, America was seen by leftists as a utopia. The combination of leftist ideas and predatory capitalism, intertwined with the image of an “exceptional nation”, led Washington’s aggressive stance on the global field. Anyone opposed to the cultural and economic aggression in question eventually faced a military aggression.

American leftists, who managed by “long march through institutions” to install their cadres within a large number of important positions both in American society and American political structure, recognized Serbs as historical actors perfectly fitting the constructed stereotype of “bad guys”. As a white nation, the stigma of “white guilt” could be immediately applied to them, only in this case the “oppressed minority” were not the blacks or other minority populations within the United States, but the Muslim population in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosmet. As a nation aware of its history and national identity, and interested in preserving both, Serbs commit the additional sin of reflexive suspicion towards globalism and resistance to the processes associated with this phenomenon.

The desire of Serbian people for existence within a homogeneous nation-state, derived from historical experience which confirmed the unstable and violent tendencies of heterogeneous societies, was interpreted as a rejection of the multicultural framework for social organization and was thus branded as unwelcomed. From the perspective of the American administration, regardless of historical facts and specific circumstances of events in former Yugoslavia, a multicultural society had to be insisted on. If multiculturalism can work in the United States, then it can work in small Balkan countries. However, if there was to exist a place in the world where it is objectively quite clear that multiculturalism is neither possible nor desirable, it would be only a matter of time before someone within the US questioned why were American politicians, on the domestic scene, so insistent on multiculturalism and why does this phenomenon becomes a taboo subject when its more negative characteristics become apparent.

Lessons from disintegration of multicultural “brotherhood and unity” within Yugoslavia have not been learned by the creators of American policy, and events within the United States today are the fruits of those missed historical lessons.

Doug Bandow, a senior fellow of the well known Cato Institute, during his testimony before the congressional committee in March 1999, clearly points out that there are no objective reasons for NATO intervention in Kosmet against Serbs and in favor of Albanians. In a transcript of Bandow’s statement, he explains that “despite the administration’s best intentions, its proposal to bomb Serbia and initiate a long‐​term ground occupation of Kosovo is misguided in the extreme. The administration would attempt to impose an artificial settlement with little chance of genuine acceptance by either side. It would attempt to micromanage a guerrilla conflict, likely spreading nationalistic flames throughout the region. It would involve America in an undeclared war against a nation which has not threatened the U.S. or any U.S. ally. It would encourage permanent European dependence on America to defend European interests with little relevance to America. It would turn humanitarianism on its head, basing intervention on the ethnicity of the victims, allied status of the belligerents, relative strength of the contending political interests, and expansiveness of the media coverage. Most important, it would put U.S. troops at risk without any serious, let alone vital, American interest at stake”.[11]

During his testimony, Bandow pointed out that NATO supporting KLA would only give additional impetus to the advocates of Greater Albania. Probably one of few American analysts from that period, Bandow warned involvement in the Balkans carried a risk of losing a much more important game related to Russia. Bandow emphasized that “Moscow’s future development remains worrisome and uncertain. Yet NATO attacks on and occupation of Yugoslavia, which shares longstanding Slavic ties with Russia, would exacerbate tensions already inflamed by the expansion of NATO”.[12]

Twenty years after the events in Kosmet, we live in a world that Bandow partially predicted. The aggression on Yugoslavia represented one of the turning points in Russian-American relations and influenced the shaping of the world as we know it today.

Support for a unitary Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Greater Albania project is undoubtedly present within American politics, given that planners in Washington recognize these projects as useful for their own interests. This is perhaps the most important reason for support. Serbophobia, as a derivative of Russophobia, exists within the American administration, but the question is to what extent does the phenomenon in question influences the shaping of Washington’s policies towards the Serbian people. Albanian politicians should have learned lessons from the history of Yugoslavia itself in the early 1990s. For a certain time, ex-Yugoslavia suited Americans and they supported its existence. As soon as the American interest changed, the US did not hesitate to take an active part in encouraging its disintegration. Even in the event where Albanian project is realized, it would be a creation with a limited lifespan. Formed with American blessing, Greater Albania would depend on the goodwill of “friends” from Washington and their backing.

In the treatise that made him famous, Niccolo Machiavelli points out that “auxiliary troops—armies borrowed from a more powerful state—are as useless as mercenaries. Although they often fight well, a prince who calls on auxiliaries places himself in a no-win situation. If the auxiliaries fail, he is defenseless, whereas if the auxiliaries are successful, he still owes his victory to the power of another.”[13]

This seems to be a lesson that none of the Serbian neighbors have learned. Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina is an international protectorate and a dysfunctional country. Croatia is a reservoir of labor reduced to the tourist destination of richer European countries, and at the beginning of the 2020, through intervention of the American military commander in political life of “independent” Kosovo, one could perceive real distribution of power on Kosmet. While Croats, Albanians and Muslims in Bosnia spent themselves in wars against “evil” Serbs, Western states imperceptibly placed a noose of economic and political dependence around their necks, all the while helping cultivate their victimhood narrative.

At this moment, the Serbian political leadership can act simultaneously in three directions. The first involves regional action towards countries also threatened by the idea of ​​a Greater Albania. This raises the question whether there is political will among potential allies to take steps against the realization of the Albanian idea in the current conditions where the emergence of a larger Albanian state affects only Serbian interests. The political mood in the countries in question will most likely depend on the escalation of Albanian ambitions and actions.

The second course of action is to reject any recognition of Kosovo as an independent state and to insist on such a position within international institutions. The work of Serbian diplomacy has been somewhat successful in this regard in recent years, but the work of diplomats must be supported by efforts to strengthen Serbian institutions and influence in Kosmet itself.

The third set of activities concerns efforts to undo, within a seemingly increasingly multipolar world order, the Western-imposed status quo in the Balkans, almost entirely ranged against Serbian interests. This would entail an initiative for reconsideration of events which took place during the break-up of former Yugoslavia and to, furthermore, question the final results of those events, such as Kosovo’s self-proclaimed independence or the narrative of alleged Serbian guilt for various war crimes.

The idea and narrative of Greater Albania are a danger to Serbian statehood, but the very idea of Greater Albania bears the seeds of its disappearance. The full realization of Albania’s pretensions entails the creation of a hostile disposition within four neighboring states. The project of the Albanian irredentists was previously realized only in conditions of serious foreign support. As is usually the case with a hegemon that is slowly losing its status, the United States is facing growing challenges around the world, and support for Albanian interests by Washington is not assured. At the moment, it seems that time is working for Belgrade, which should use this opportunity to full extent and cease to react reservedly for the sake of EU membership, an illusion by this point.

  1. http://www.kosovo.net/sk/rastko-kosovo/istorija/knjiga_o_kosovu/bogdanovic-kosovo_2.html 
  2. http://www.rastko.rs/cms/files/books/474e828f5a0ad 
  3. http://www.rastko.rs/cms/files/books/474e828f5a0ad 
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/jan/14/itstimetoendserbbashing 
  5. https://nationalinterest.org/print/article/obituary-alija-izetbegovic-1925-2003-2458 
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1QL1M8zycE 
  7. http://demostat.rs/en/vesti/analize/timothy-less-re-ordering-the-balkans/763 
  8. https://balkaninsight.com/2020/02/28/bosnias-second-collapse-is-starting-to-look-inevitable/ 
  9. https://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/29/world/us-policymakers-on-bosnia-admit-errors-in-opposing-partition-in-1992.html 
  10. https://books.google.ba/books?id=0XvR-aKybuQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false 
  11. https://www.cato.org/publications/congressional-testimony/us-role-kosovo 
  12. https://www.cato.org/publications/congressional-testimony/us-role-kosovo 
  13. https://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/prince/section6/ 

US National Security Strategy Guide دليل استراتيجيّة الأمن القوميّ الأميركيّ

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

بثينة شعبان

Buthaina Shaaban,

Source: Al-Mayadeen Net,

March 22, 15:00

On the threshold of reality produced by the new U.S. administration, we see that the world is heading for a hot cold war of a new kind, because one side, the capitalist West, considers it a battle of existence.

The rule in China has been described as autocratic, and in Russia as an aggressor.

This March, signed by President Joseph Biden, the U.S. National Security Strategy for the current phase was issued in 23 pages covering all the key issues that are a priority in U.S. policy.

On the other hand, the strategy emphasizes the focus on cooperation and partnership with transatlantic allies, on expanding NATO’s base and inviting all countries that believe in this path to join it in the face of China and Russia. The NATO group has been considered to be democratic states and promoters of good governance and human rights, while those who do not join this pat. The ruling in China has been described as autocratic, and in Russia as an aggressor, before using descriptions that are unworthy of any diplomat or politician to describe the President.

The study confirmed that it would support Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang in the face of China, under the pretext of supporting democracies and democratic orientations in the world.

It also becomes clear to the observant reader that the West feels a real threat to this hegemonic system, and is trying in this strategy to seek ways and means that curb its rivals and ensure its continuity on the same rules and foundations that it has been used to for decades, meaning that this strategy is to some extent a search for a path of salvation. From a reality that has become a real threat to the West’s exceptionalism and supremacy in many areas after centuries of plundering the world’s wealth and using it to fuel its hegemony and power over states and countries all over the globe, but this reading of the course of history is a misreading, because the Western capitalist system has lost its prestige after the exposure of the real foundations on which it is based, namely, to fuel war and create chaos, to control the capabilities of peoples and use them to strengthen this capitalist system.

In addition, especially in recent years, the truth of the statements made by Western regimes, from freedom of the media to human rights to good governance, has also been revealed. The reality of the situation has shown that the media in the West is a mouthpiece for the ruling companies and their interests, and that human rights are a slogan used as needed, without any real concern for the human being and his rights.

The terrorist war on Syria, with all its Western hypocrisy and the inability of the West to match China or Russia in the face of the epidemic, contributed to the detection of the truth of Western regimes that use the media in a thoughtful and generous way to inflate their capabilities and dwarf the capabilities of others.

As the media in Russia and China began to gain access to the West, the Platforms of the United Nations and the world, it began to reveal the truth of the falsification that the Western media had adopted for centuries in order to continue to control the bag of money and opinion throughout the world. Therefore, In the face of this thunderous and dangerous exposure, Western countries resorted to using their tools, from locals in different countries buying their consciences with money, to followers who were fascinated by the West and its model, and unable to break free from this illusion, so they continued to encourage and serve the Western model, thinking that it is the best in the world, because colonialism had entered their minds and not only occupied the land. And when colonialism is gone, it left colonized minds ready to carry out orders, because they see in the colonialism a master good in thinking and performance and does not make mistakes, and its a great honor submit and obey orders.

On the threshold of this reality produced by the new U.S. administration, we see that the world is heading for a hot cold war of a new kind, because one of the parties, the capitalist West, considers it a battle of existence, and the rise of China and the expansion of Russia are an existential threat to it, and it is necessary to gather forces, alliances and partners to change the direction of this new reality.

Since the West will not be able to change the direction of the Chinese dragon, and it will not be able to turn back the clock, the international arena is likely to engage in dangerous confrontations, and no one knows yet the serious prices that will be paid as a result, but these prices will be paid by all of humanity, because we are we all share a life on this planet,

It is clear that the U.S. strategy leading a transatlantic bloc and NATO considers itself exceptional in visions, strength and thinking, and that anyone who disagrees with it is an autocracy or aggressor who has no other choice but to return to the path of guidance or to be killed or out of the conflict. These are dangerous concepts for the whole world, and they must be understood with awareness and patience, in order to be addressed with wisdom, composure, cooperation and alliance, to save all humanity from any real and potential dangers.

دليل استراتيجيّة الأمن القوميّ الأميركيّ

بثينة شعبان

بثينة شعبان

المصدر: الميادين نت 22 آذار 15:00

على عتبة الواقع الذي أفرزته الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة، نرى أنّ العالم يتّجه إلى حرب باردة ساخنة من نوع جديد، لأنّ أحد الطرفين، وهو الغرب الرأسمالي، يعتبر أنها معركة وجود.


تمّ وصف الحكم في الصين بأنّه أوتوقراطيّ، وفي روسيا بأنّه معتدٍ

صدرت في شهر آذار/مارس الحالي، وبتوقيع من الرئيس جوزيف بايدن، استراتيجية الأمن القومي الأميركي للمرحلة الحالية، وذلك في 23 صفحة شملت كلّ المسائل الأساسية التي تحظى بالأولوية في سياسة الولايات المتحدة. وبعد قراءة النصّ أكثر من مرة، والتوقّف عند التكرار والتأكيد من فقرة إلى أخرى، لا يُخطئ القارئ المهتمّ بالاستنتاج إذا وجد أنّ الصين تشكّل الهاجس الأكبر لهذه الإدارة، وأنّ سياستها يمكن تلخيصها بمعاداة روسيا ومحاولة كبح جماح تقدّم الصين في النموّ، وخصوصاً في مجال التكنولوجيا والتقدّم العلميّ. 

من جهة أخرى، تؤكّد الاستراتيجيّة التركيز على التعاون والشراكة مع الحلفاء عبر الأطلسي، وعلى توسيع قاعدة الناتو ودعوة كلّ الدول المؤمنة بهذا المسار للانضمام إليه في وجه الصين وروسيا. وقد تمّ اعتبار أن مجموعة “الناتو” هي الدول الديمقراطية والمروّجة للحكم الرشيد وحقوق الإنسان، بينما يعتبر كلّ من لا ينضمّ إلى هذا المسار أوتوقراطياً ومعتدياً. وقد تمّ وصف الحكم في الصين بأنّه أوتوقراطيّ، وفي روسيا بأنّه معتدٍ، وذلك قبل استخدام أوصاف لا تليق بأيّ دبلوماسي أو سياسي لوصف رئيس روسيا. 

وأكّدت هذه الدراسة أنّها سوف تدعم تايوان وهونغ كونغ وشينجيانغ في وجه الصين، بذريعة دعم الديمقراطيات والتوجّهات الديمقراطية في العالم. إنَّ الانطباع الذي يصل إليه القارئ بين السطور هو الخوف الحقيقي من صعود الصين، إذ إنها ذُكرت 18 مرة، والخوف من أن يقدّم أنموذجها بديلاً حقيقياً للنظام الرأسمالي الغربي، بحيث تتبنّاه الشعوب وتقلع عن تبعيتها للغرب، ما يشكّل خطراً على استمرار الهيمنة الغربية وقدرتها على نهب ثروات البلدان والشعوب لتغذية نموها وسيطرتها والاستمرار في بسط سلطتها وهيمنتها على المؤسَّسات الدولية ومقدّرات الشعوب.

 كما يصبح واضحاً للقارئ المتابع أنّ الغرب يشعر بتهديد حقيقيّ لنظام الهيمنة هذا، ويحاول في هذه الاستراتيجية أن يتلمّس الطرق والوسائل التي تكبح جماح منافسيه وتضمن استمراريته على القواعد والأسس ذاتها التي درج عليها منذ عقود، أي أنّ هذه الاستراتيجية تعتبر إلى حدّ ما بحثاً عن طريق خلاص من واقع بات يشكّل خطراً حقيقياً على استثنائية الغرب وتفوّقه في مجالات عدّة بعد قرون من نهب ثروات العالم واستخدامها لتغذية هيمنته وسطوته على الدول والبلدان في كلّ أنحاء المعمورة، ولكنّ هذه القراءة لمسار التاريخ هي قراءة مغلوطة، لأنّ النظام الرأسمالي الغربي فقد هيبته ومكانته بعد انكشاف الأسس الحقيقية التي يقوم عليها، ألا وهي تأجيج أوار الحرب وخلق الفوضى، من أجل السيطرة على مقدّرات الشعوب واستخدامها بما يعزّز نظامه الرأسمالي هذا.

 كما انكشفت، وخصوصاً في السنوات الأخيرة، حقيقة المقولات التي تطلقها النظم الغربية، من حرية الإعلام إلى حقوق الإنسان إلى الحكم الرشيد، وأظهر واقع الحال أنّ الإعلام في الغرب بوق للشركات الحاكمة ومصالحها، وأنّ حقوق الإنسان شعار يستخدم بحسب الحاجة، من دون أيّ حرص حقيقيّ على الإنسان وحقوقه. 

وقد ساهمت الحرب الإرهابية على سوريا، بكلّ ما اعتراها ورافقها من نفاق غربيّ، كما ساهم انتشار “كوفيد 19” وعجز الغرب عن مضاهاة الصين أو روسيا في مواجهة الوباء، في الكشف عن حقيقة النظم الغربية التي تستخدم الإعلام بشكل مدروس وسخيّ كي تضخّم مقدراتها وتقزّم قدرات الآخرين وإمكانياتهم.

ومع انطلاق الإعلام في روسيا والصين ونفاذه إلى الغرب ومنصات الأمم المتحدة والعالم، بدأ يكشف حقيقة الزّيف الذي اعتمده الإعلام الغربي على مدى قرون من أجل الاستمرار في تحكّمه بحقيبة المال والرأي في العالم برمّته. ولذلك، وفي وجه هذا الانكشاف المدوّي والخطير، لجأت الدول الغربية إلى استخدام أدواتها، من سكّان محلّيين في بلدان مختلفة تشتري ضمائرهم بالمال، إلى التابعين الذين خلقوا مبهورين بالغرب وأنموذجه، ولم يتمكّنوا من التحرّر من هذا الوهم، فاستمرّوا في غيّهم وخدمتهم للأنموذج الغربي، ظنّاً منهم أنّه الأفضل في العالم، لأنّ الاستعمار دخل إلى عقولهم ولم يكتفِ باحتلال الأرض. وحين رحل جسداً، ترك وراءه عقولاً مستعمَرَة ومستعدّة لأن تنفّذ أوامره، لأنها ترى فيه السيد الذي يحسن التفكير والأداء ولا يخطئ، كما ترى شرفاً كبيراً في الانقياد له والانصياع لأوامره. 

على عتبة هذا الواقع الذي أفرزته الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة، نرى أنّ العالم يتّجه إلى حرب باردة ساخنة من نوع جديد، لأنّ أحد الطرفين، وهو الغرب الرأسمالي، يعتبر أنها معركة وجود، وأنّ صعود الصين وتمدّد روسيا يعتبران خطراً وجودياً عليه، ولا بدّ من أن يستجمع القوى والتحالفات والشركاء لتغيير وجهة هذا الواقع الجديد.

وبما أنّه لن يتمكن من تغيير وجهة التنين الصيني، كما أنّه لن يتمكَّن من إعادة عقارب الساعة إلى الوراء، فإنّ الساحة الدولية مرشّحة لخوض تجاذبات خطيرة لا يعلم أحد بعد الأثمان الخطيرة التي سيتمّ دفعها نتيجة لها، ولكنّ هذه الأثمان سيدفعها أبناء البشرية جمعاء، لأننا جميعاً نتقاسم العيش على هذا الكوكب، بخلاف النظرة الفوقية الغربية التي تعتبر وجودها ورفاهها الضامن الأساس لبقية البشر الذين يجب أن يكونوا تابعين لها.

من الواضح أنّ الاستراتيجية الأميركية التي تقود كتلة عبر الأطلسي و”الناتو” تعتبر ذاتها استثنائية في الرؤى والقوة والتفكير، وأنّ كلّ من يخالفها الرأي والتوجّه هو أوتوقراطيّ أو معتدٍ لا حلّ لديه سوى أن يعود إلى سبيل الرشاد أو أن يقتل أو يخرج من حلبة الصراع. إنها مفاهيم خطيرة على العالم برمّته، ولا بدّ من فهمها بوعي وأناة، كي يتمّ التصدّي لها بحكمة ورباطة جأش وتعاون وتحالف، لإنقاذ البشرية جمعاء من أي أخطار حقيقية محتملة.

US Interfered in 81 Foreign Elections

No Neocon bastard or pinhead is running around with pitchfork saying that the United States needs to be attacked for interfering in at least 81 countries.

By Jonas E. Alexis -March 23, 2021

…introduction by Jonas E. Alexis, VT Editor

Whenever you hear a Neocon or some political whore start talking about bombing or attacking another country because that country supposedly “hacked” the United States, then it is an infallible sign that you are in the presence of an ethnic cleansing, an ideologue, a political gangster, or liar who wants to drink the blood of other people.

Why? Well, it has been pointed out that the United States has interfered in at least 81 foreign elections. No Neocon bastard or pinhead is running around with pitchfork saying that the United States needs to be attacked for doing so. The eminent journalist and writer Stephen Kinzer has documented that the United States has been overthrowing one government after another for the last one hundred years.[1] Who’s going to tell them enough is enough?

Government’s Own Data Shows US Interfered In 81 Foreign Elections

—by Claire Bernish

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed for the first time publicly that the bureau is officially investigating hotly contentious allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election — but, even if proven true, such geopolitical escapades better characterize the routine behavior of accuser than of accused.

“The F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election,” the director announced, adding the bureau would conduct a probe to discern whether Trump’s associates had contact with Russian officials.

Despite that the U.S. has hypocritically exerted influence over foreign elections in all corners of the globe — in fact, it has arrogantly done so a whopping 81 times between 1946 and 2000, alone — with just one-third of those operations undertaken overtly.

For months, mainstream media parroted murky accusations hurled by politicians — keen to point a finger of blame for the apparently stultifying victory of a former reality television host on someone — that The Russians had somehow surreptitiously undermined the election-centric foundation of American Democracy.

While that has yet to prove true, this new Red Scare constitutes a duplicitous attempt by the pot to call the kettle … an election meddler.

Researcher Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Politics and Strategy — an expert on the topic at hand — discussed the lengthy but incomplete list of times the U.S. government has interfered in other nations’ elections with NPR’s Ari Shapiro.

Listen to the NPR segment below:

Asked for examples where this tampering tangibly altered results, Levin stated,

One example of that was our intervention in Serbia, Yugoslavia in the 2000 election there. Slobodan Milosevic was running for re-election, and we didn’t want him to stay in power there due to his tendency, you know, to disrupt the Balkans and his human rights violations.

So we intervened in various ways for the opposition candidate, Vojislav Kostunica. And we gave funding to the opposition, and we gave them training and campaigning aide. And according to my estimate, that assistance was crucial in enabling the opposition to win.

Levin reiterated the more blatant methods with which the U.S. asserts dominance — through the overt coups or all-out regime changes branding the nation a notorious interventionist — are not among the list of the 80-plus attempts to manipulate the electoral outcome.

As for the issue of pot versus kettle, Levin explained that — although Russia and other powerful nations indisputably employ similar tactics — the United States has been quite prodigious in its effort.

Well, for my dataset, the United States is the most common user of this technique. Russia or the Soviet Union since 1945 has used it half as much. My estimate has been 36 cases between 1946 to 2000. We know also that the Chinese have used this technique and the Venezuelans when the late Hugo Chavez was still in power in Venezuela and other countries.

As sanctimoniously as U.S. politicians cry foul about The Russians, it would behoove the new McCarthyites to reflect on the nation’s sticky imperialist fingerprints around the globe — like that time in 1996, when the United States undertook an extensive, secret operation to ensure the presidency of Boris Yeltsin.

That is, of course, former President Boris Yeltsin — of the Russian Federation.

[1] Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (New York: Times Books, 2006).

BIOGRAPHYJonas E. Alexis

Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, history of Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book Zionism vs. the West: How Talmudic Ideology is Undermining Western Culture. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled, Kevin MacDonald’s Abject Failure: A Philosophical and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and White Identity. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.

Logoswars1@gmail.com

Frosty Sino/US Talks: Day Two

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Two days of Sino/US talks in Anchorage, Alaska were a waste of time for Beijing, accomplishing nothing positive as expected.

China and other nations know what they’re up against in dealing with hegemon USA, a wrecking ball on the world stage — including at home against ordinary Americans, exploited, not served.

It’s at a time of Main Street Depression with nearly 26% of working-age Americans unemployed.

No badly needed government jobs creation program exists at a time of widespread food insecurity, unaffordable healthcare for millions of households, and sharply rising inflation — especially for food, healthcare and energy.

Year-over-year, CPI inflation increased 9.4%, economist John Williams explained. Phony official numbers conceal reality.

Most US households are increasingly hard-pressed to make ends meet with prices rising much faster than income.

Geopolitically, US relations with China and other nations free from its control are confrontational.

Far removed from cooperative, dominant US hardliners abhor the notion with other nations, especially sovereign independent China, Russia, and Iran.

From Anchorage on Friday, interventionist Blinken said the following:

“(T)here are a number of areas where we are fundamentally at odds, including China’s actions in Xinjiang (sic), with regard to Hong Kong (sic), Tibet (sic), Taiwan (sic), as well as actions that it’s taken in cyberspace (sic).

What national security advisor Sullivan separately called “advancing the interests and values of America” are all about bludgeoning, bullying, threatening, bribing, and smashing other nations to control them.

Commenting on bilateral talks on Thursday and Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the following:

“The US side…provoked disagreements (with) fiery and theatrical (remarks), which is not what China wishe(d) to see,” adding:

“The Chinese delegation (came) to Anchorage with full sincerity and a constructive attitude.”

On arrival, “their hearts were chilled by the biting cold as well as the (cold) reception by their American host.”

Time and again, the US illegally interferes in the internal affairs of other countries.

A flagrant UN Charter breach, China justifiably rejects hostile US actions.

Calling the US side “confrontational” in Anchorage, Zhao slammed its “wanton attacks” and unacceptable “diplomatic etiquette.”

According to China’s Central Committee official/Foreign Affairs Director Yang Jiechi:

“The US has no competence whatsoever to take a patronizing tone with China.”

“It won’t work on us. We need to communicate based on mutual respect. If the US tries to grab us by the throat, it will harm its own interests.”

According to China Central Television (CCTV) on Saturday, citing Beijing’s delegation in Anchorage, both countries will continue high-level “dialogue and contacts” ahead.

The Chinese delegation called on the Biden regime to cease interfering in its internal affairs and lift illegally imposed sanctions on the nation and its officials.

“If the US continues its (hostile) policy, China will make a decisive response.”

In response to wrecking ball Trump regime policies, “China was forced to take relevant and necessary measures to protect its sovereignty, security, and development interests.”

It will react in similar fashion if hardliners in charge of Biden’s foreign policy continue their predecessors’ war on China by other means.

Western media reports on two days of bilateral talks said the following:

The NYT: Sino/US talks showed “a widening gulf of distrust and disagreements on a range of issues” and no breakthroughs.

WaPo: Biden regime hardliners have an “appetite for high-profile fights with China and Russia.”

WSJ: “Bitter Alaska Meeting (further) complicates already shaky US/China ties.”

Financial Times: The US and China “ended their first high-level meeting on Friday after two days of talks in Alaska that produced an extraordinary public spat and no sign of improved relations.”

Bloomberg News: Both countries “end(ed) contentious Alaska meeting with little to show” from two days of talks.

Politico called their talks an “undiplomatic war of words.”

AP News said both countries “spar(red) in their first face-to-face meeting” since Biden replaced Trump.

According to Reuters, “(t)ough (Sino/US) talks signal rocky start to (bilateral) relations” — likely to worsen ahead, not improve.

Singapore-based Channel News Asia reported the following:

“Top US and Chinese officials wrapped up two days of contentious talks in Alaska on Friday after trading sharp and unusually public barbs over vastly different views of each other and the world in their first face-to-face meeting since” Biden took office.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) asked:

“Is US-China friction at Alaska meetings a sign of worse to come or start of something better?”

There’s been nothing “better” since Trump’s trade war began.

Biden regime Chinaphobes may harden US war on the country other means instead going the other way.

China’s Global Times said Beijing’s delegation in Alaska showed “strength, indicating to the US that China’s development and growth cannot be stopped.” 

“China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are main issues of principle.”

China’s official People’s Daily broadsheet said the US side “had better quit political threatening.”

It slammed US “hegemony and interventionism…(its) vicious intention…to disrupt Hong Kong and hinder China’s stability and development.”

“Wielding the big stick of sanctions” accomplishes nothing with China. 

Calling them “nothing but a piece of useless paper,” they’re hostile breaches of international law when imposed, adding:

“(A)arbitrary sanctions…by the US on other sovereignty countries have already triggered unanimous opposition and condemnation from the international society.”

“Being ignorant to justice and wielding the big stick of sanctions, the US will only once again expose its hypocrisy and hegemony.”

“China is firm in its determination to” defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity against hostile actions by hegemon USA.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Hezbollah Won’t Let Lebanese People Starve

Marwa Haidar

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah offered on Thursday a number of suggestions that can be considered a roadmap to the current political and economic crisis in Lebanon.

In a televised address on the occasion of Hezbollah’s Wounded Fighter Day, Sayyed Nasrallah vowed that the Resistance party won’t abandon its people and will defend them against starvation.

He stressed that the priority in this regard is for the state to solve the current crisis, but noted that if the state fails to deal with the crisis, Hezbollah won’t keep away and will stand by the Lebanese people.

Highlighting importance of defining the nature of the economic and financial crisis in Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the situation is a result of long years and can’t be solved in one or two years.

His eminence stressed that the first step to deal with the crisis is to form the new government. In this regard, he called on PM-Designate Saad Hariri to review his plan in forming a technocrat government, noting that the situation in Lebanon needs a techno-political government that is capable of taking national decisions.

Sayyed Nasrallah warned that foreign powers through their embassies in Lebanon have been plotting to drive Lebanon into a civil war, stressing that such scenario is a red line according to Hezbollah.

The Resistance leader also slammed those who have been blocking roads in the country, calling on the Lebanese Army to assume its responsibility in preventing such acts that destabilize Lebanon.

Hezbollah’s Wounded Fighter Day

Starting his speech by talking about the occasion, Sayyed Nasrallah said that Hezbollah chose the birth anniversary of Al-Abbas (a.s.) on the fourth of Shaaban holy month to mark the Wounded Fighter Day since this figure represents all of loyalty, devotion and courage.

“Al-Abbas (a.s.) insisted to stay and fight beside his brother Imam Hussein (a.s.) despite major injuries that he sustained during the battle of Karbala.”

His eminence praised Hezbollah wounded fighters, likening them to Al-Abbas (a.s.).

“Just like Al-Abbas (a.s), Hezbollah wounded fighters insisted to stay on path of Jihad despite their injuries and all forms of difficulties.”

Sayyed Nasrallah, meanwhile, pointed to the US ties with Takfiri groups like ISIL and Al-Qaeda.

“Day after another, the reality of Takfiri groups is revealed, as well as the identity of their operators and those who back them. I think it is important to be aware of a report on a request by former CIA chief (George Tenet) to ex-president Ali Abdallah Saleh to release Al-Qaeda member in Yemen.”

“We are not before an Islamic group, but rather we are before a Takfiri terrorist group that is formed, operated and backed by the US intelligence service in a bid to destroy our people and our armies.”

Chaos and Civil War

Shifting to the local issue in Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah said that the crisis has political and economic aspects, noting that it can also be described as a crisis of the establishment.

“In light of the rage over the dire economic situation we don’t have to forget that we must act responsibly and wisely,” his eminence said, stressing that the chaos taking place in Lebanon is aimed at driving the country in to a civil war.

Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that foreign powers have been plotting to create chaos aimed at diring the country into a civil war, stressing that such scenario is a red line for Hezbollah.

“We have reliable information that foreign powers, through their embassies in Lebanon have been working to sue sedition and create chaos in a bid to make Lebanese people go for internal fighting. A civil war is a red line for Hezbollah.”

Sayyed Nasrallah hit back at those who say that Hezbollah is the only Lebanese party that has weapons.

“Such rhetoric is baseless, for the civil war can be erupted by light arms. Those who fight can use Kalashnikovs in a civil war, they don’t need long-range rockets and precision missiles in such kind of fighting.”

In this regard, Sayyed Nasrallah said it clear: “Hezbollah has no intention to resort to his weapons in a bid to form a government or to deal with the economic and financial crisis.”

Lebanese Government Formation

Talking about the reasons behind the economic crisis in Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that it is deep rooted and a result of long years.

“The main reasons behind the current crisis are the corruption, loans which have been with high interest rate, money laundering, freezing of deposits, Beirut Port blast and many others causes.”

“The current crisis is result of long years of wrong policies and can’t be solved in one or two years.”

Sayyed Nasrallah said there have been fears in Lebanon to allow China, Russia or Iran to invest in Lebanon, noting that the US has been preventing the country from heading towards these countries.

“Even more, the US has been also blockading Lebanon in a bid to force our country to subdue to their conditions. The US wants Lebanon to starve and I said it clear before: we won’t starve!”

On the issue of government formation, Sayyed Nasrallah said Hezbollah had agreed on what Hariri called a technocrat government. Meanwhile, the Hezbollah S.G. advised Hariri to form a techno-political government warning that the government of specialists would be unable to take political and national decisions like clinching deals with Russia, China or Iran.

“We in Hezbollah announced that we don’t reject forming a government of specialists. However, my advice is to form a techno-political government that will be capable of taking national decisions.”

Sayyed Nasrallah meanwhile, called on the outgoing government, which resigned following Beirut Port blast last August to assume its responsibility in case the formation of the new government is delayed.

“We wait till Monday and see the meeting between Hariri and President (Mishel) Aoun. But if the government formation is delayed again, caretaker PM Hassan Diab and his government must assume responsibility and deal with the current crises facing the country.”

BDL Governor and Blocking Roads

Elsewhere in his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the Riad Salameh, Governor of Banque Du Liban (BDL)- the country’s central bank- bears responsibility in failing to defend the national currency from falling in exchange for the US dollar.

“You can prevent the collapse of the Lebanese pound. Your presence in such post is to do this task. What’s going on is not acceptable, and you have to assume your responsibility,” Sayyed Nasrallah addressed Salameh.

His eminence, meanwhile, lashed out at bandits who have been in the latest weeks cutting off roads across the country, stressing that such acts don’t solve the crisis, but rather they complicate it and drive Lebanon into civil war.

“Blocking roads is unacceptable and immoral. I am one of the people who are fed up with such behavior.”

“You are suspicious and contributing to a scheme aimed at driving Lebanon into a civil war,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, addressing those who have been blocking roads.

“It’s the Lebanese Army’s duty to prevent such acts, and if the bandits don’t refrain from blocking roads then this discussion is to be continued,” Sayyed Nasrallah said in a clear message that Hezbollah won’t keep mum regarding this issue.

Hezbollah Plan of Social Solidarity

Hitting at those who slam Hezbollah environment for gaining salaries in US dollars, Sayyed Nasrallah clarified that 80% of Hezbollah’s incubation are volunteer people who are not paid.

He also noted that not all the organized members of Hezbollah are paid in US dollars.

In this context, Sayyed Nasrallah called on Hezbollah servicemen who are paid in US dollars to help all those who are in need, announcing a plan to organize such aids.

“A few years ago, those people who are slamming now our brothers and sisters, they were mocking at Hezbollah fighters who were monthly paid $400 or $500.”

Sayyed Nasrallah concluded his speech by assuring that Hezbollah won’t abandon its people and won’t let Lebanese people starve.

“The priority to solve the current crises is through Lebanese state, but if the state fails to do so we won’t stay away. I will not elaborate on this issue, but I say: we have several options in this regard.”

Source: Al-Manar English Website

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT PUTIN

March 18, 2021

Dear friends: this column shows how matters stand. Support this website or darkness will arrive.

Has Biden’s Description of Putin as a Killer Finally Dispelled Kremlin Hopes for Good Relations?

Paul Craig Roberts - Official Homepage

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT PUTIN

Paul Craig Roberts

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to Biden’s unacceptable characterization of Russia’s president as a killer by stating that Biden had made it clear that “he doesn’t want to normalize relations.”  In the Kremlin does hope burn eternal?  It has been obvious to me for many years that Washington does not want normal relations with Russia or any country. Washington wants a hegemonic relationship with Washington as the hegemon and Russia as the obedient puppet as Russia was during the Yeltsin decade.

Just consider the past four years of Trump’s presidency.  Trump declared his intention of normalizing relations with Russia and for this reason his presidency was destroyed by the American Establishment.

There is no prospect of Russia having normal relations with the US and its Empire.  The destruction of Trump’s presidency and the theft of his reelection is proof that the American Establishment will not tolerate a president who intends a normal diplomatic relationship with a sovereign Russia. This one intention was all it took to destroy Trump’s presidency.  Trump was immediately confronted with three years of orchestrated “Russiagate,” followed by two attempted impeachments of Trump on false grounds, and his reelection was stolen. The American judiciary refused to even look at the overwhelming evidence of the stolen election.  Did the Kremlim really believe that Biden was going to repeat Trump’s self-destruction and make friends with Russia?

Despite all the clarity in Biden’s accusation, backed up by White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki that “the Russians will be held accountable,”  Russian Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reaffirmed Russia’s interest in “preventing the irreversible degradation” of Russian bilateral ties with the US.

Amazing.  It seems the Kremlin is incapable of acknowledging reality.  In 2016 Hillary Clinton, who was expected to be the next US president, called Putin the “new Hitler.”  How does this differ from Biden calling Putin a killer? It is official Western policy to demonize Putin and Russia. The demonization of Putin and Russia  has been underway for years.

Putin’s forbearance is remarkable. He treats these calculated insults as if they are water off a duck’s back.  But Putin’s response does not serve peace or Russian interests.  

Dear President Putin, please permit me to offer an explanation of the threat that you and the entire world face.  Washington and the American foreign policy establishment hates your guts.  They hate you because you restored Russia’s sovereignty and, thereby, put a powerful country in the way of American hegemony.  Remember the Wolfowitz Doctrine (1992):

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

You, President Putin and you alone, are responsible for the “re-emergence of a new rival . . . sufficient to generate global power.”  Therefore, you are an unpardonable constraint on American hegemony, and “our first objective” is to remove the constraint you place on American hegemony. 

This neoconservative policy remains in place. No alternative has come forward. Recently, two Russian analysts at the hegemonic Atlantic Council suggested that Washington pursue a less hostile approach to Russia.  They were immediately denounced by the other 22 members of the council’s foreign policy experts.

See: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2021/03/17/washington-has-resurrected-the-specter-of-nuclear-armageddon/  

It could not be stated any clearer that Russia is in Washington’s way.  Does the Kremlin lack people familiar with the English language?

Whoever is advising the Kremlin is an idiot.  Every time the Kremlin replies to insults and false accusations from Washington, the Kremlin hands to the entire Western media—a propaganda ministry, the likes of which has never before existed on earth and can be found only in science fiction such as George Orwell’s 1984—the opportunity to repeat the charge:  “Today the Kremlin spokesman denied that Putin is a killer.”

If I may offer my advice, President Putin, explain to Peskov and to Zakharov not to respond to accusations and insults.  Ignore them.  Say nothing. Stop trying to appeal to Washington and its NATO puppets.  The fact that Russia believes facts are relevant is seen by the West as a sign of great weakness.  Facts don’t matter in the West.  Russiagate proved that for you.  

Go about your business where you are welcomed and regarded as a potential protector against Washington, such as Iran.  Form an explicit mutual defense pact with China.  Not even criminally insane Washington will take on Russia and China.  Add Iran and the Taliban.  The best way to keep Islamic terrorism out of the Russian Federation is to befriend them and turn them against Washington.  Beat Washington at its own game.  And by all means, stop Israel and Washington from attacking Syrian territory.  Until you show Russia’s power, you will not be taken seriously. The longer you are not taken seriously, the greater the likelihood that threats against Russia will mount until nuclear war arrives.  Obviously, Russia is not taken seriously with American Democrat leaders describing the President of Russia as the “new Hitler” and “a killer.”  No American president dared to speak of a Soviet leader, where there actually was justification for the charge, in such terms.  

I offer this advice not because I am pro-Russia and anti-America, but because I worked with President Reagan to achieve the goal of ending the Cold War and its threat of nuclear Armageddon.  People can go on all they want about climate change and Covid, but nuclear war is an end times occurance.  

The American neoconservative intent to acquire world hegemony will bring nuclear war unless you turn Russia’s back to the decadent, corrupt, and dying West and protect with decisive force the interests of Russia and her friends.  Washington denies you friends in Europe.  Find them elsewhere.  The peace of the world is at stake.

Putin’s answer to Biden

Man Heckling Joe Biden Turns Out to Be Mirror | Tampa News Force

MARCH 19, 2021

Putin’s answer to Biden | The Vineyard of the Saker

Message to the West : Go Pound Sand

by Chris Faure for The Saker Blog

It is fascinating to compare the recent Biden comments to President Putin and Putin’s response, to what is happening in Alaska between the US and China.

It cannot be a coincidence that the messaging from both Russia and China, is the same.  And it is clearly, deal with us on fair terms or Go Pound Sand.

There is a seeming coordination of messaging.  If you consider President Putin’s comments translated in this video, you will hear Putin say with nuance of course, that the US was founded first in an experience of direct genocide on Indian tribes and then they continued with a cruel period of slavery.  He says that to this day these early formative experiences accompany the zeitgeist, both internal and external, of the United States.  Mr.Putin goes further to say that the US is the only country that ever attacked another with nuclear weapons, citing Japan being a non-nuclear state.  He calls it clearly an extermination of a local population that had no military sense.   Mr Putin ends with saying that the US will have to deal with Russia and Russia will only deal in those aspects that have benefit for Russia herself, and the US will have to reckon with it.

This is confirmed this morning with Russia sending a junior diplomat to attend a virtual UN summit with Biden.  https://www.rt.com/russia/518562-un-summit-biden-kremlin-diplomatic-row/

Subtext:  You have no moral standing in the world any longer.  Your history is brutal.  You are still operating in this brutal historical context.  Go pound sand as this will not be allowed any longer.  

From the Chinese side, after Blinken tried the usual litany of US complaints against China (cyber attacks, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan, and China is threatening global stability), Yang Jiechi for a whole 15 minutes called the US racists at home and warmongers abroad.   He said in front of the Chinese side, the US side is not qualified to speak to China from a position of strength.  He told in no uncertain terms that the US actions harm the interests of the peoples of the two countries as well as world stability and development and “should not be continued.”  The U.S. side made unreasonable accusations, which was not in line with diplomatic protocol, therefore China made the required response.  There is no acceptance of the newly minted ‘rules-based international order’ among the Chinese diplomats.

Subtext:  You should not be allowed to continue with your meddling because you have no more moral standing in the eyes of anyone and your purported ‘strength’ is dissipating in your hypocrisy.

An interesting issue of course, that went mainly under the radar, is that at the moment that the Chinese/US so-called ‘strategic’ discussion started in Alaska, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Mr Lavrov will be visiting China, specifically their delegates to the Alaska meeting, the Chinese diplomats Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi, a day or two after conclusion of the meetings.

Some time ago The Saker wrote an analysis based on the question:  When Exactly did the AngloZionist empire collapse.  At the time he stated that the moment was with the killing of General Suleimani.

This short sitrep should convince you that the AngloZionist empire is being told in no uncertain terms to get on with pounding sand to dig the imperial grave with evidence that this message is being coordinated.  Shortly after penning this short piece, some commentators are already noticing that the empire is now going to have to deal with ‘sledgehammer diplomacy’.

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