Part 2 – The Arctic icebreakers, FONOPs and capability saga

Part 2 – The Arctic icebreakers, FONOPs and capability saga

by Nat South for The Saker Blog

September 17, 2019

In the first part of the series on the Arctic shipping and icebreakers,” Arctic Russian icebreakers – Kerfuffle over numbers, role and expectations”, (June 2019), I started by looking at the Bloomberg article, “Putin’s Arctic Plans Are a Climate Change Bet”. The article refers to the newest generation of Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers designed to work along the Northern Sea Route, (NSR). However, this shipping route continues to be a bone of contention in Washington, riled by its inability of the U.S. military to go along this route as it pleases. Although the U.S. has recently been pipped to the post by the French Navy’s auxiliary ship, BSAH ‘Rhône’, which transited last September, a journey done without needing Russian icebreaker assistance.

Washington has a beloved practice of getting the navy to carry out “Freedom of Navigation Operations” (FONOP) from time to time, more recently in the South China Sea. These are a high-level antagonistic voyage, to prove a point about international law and freedom of navigation in various parts of the world. So, it is not surprising to hear that the U.S. wants to do a ‘surface’ FONOP along the NSR [1]. Fortunately for the Russians, Washington has hit a few snags with putting this plan into fruition, namely the fear of having to get assistance from a Russian icebreaker in case of difficulties. Yet, it is gearing up to carrying out one, the first since the Soviet times back in the 1965 & 1967, when two U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers had to turn back due to the pressure put on by the USSR, when they tried to go through the Vilkitsky Strait. Since then, the idea had been quietly sitting on a shelf until the lure going there due to declining sea-ice and longer ice-free summer periods was too tempting.

The U.S. has started to take incremental steps towards a fully-fledged FONOP, by getting various U.S. Navy ships to operate & exercise at higher latitudes, (Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise  – AECE 2019 in Alaska is one example). The 2018 Trident Juncture exercise also highlighted the difficulties of operating at high latitudes, even if there isn’t any sea-ice. That’s because cold temperatures, strong winds, and heavy seas all lend a hand to make conditions difficult and challenging. The amphibious dock landing ship USS ‘Gunston Hall’ suffered damage during stormy weather off Iceland and had to return to port. This meant that another amphibious transport dock ship had to return to port as a precaution.

Today’s NATO forces are carrying a slow mission creep back above the Arctic circle, from French mountain troops training in Norway to U.S. marines in Iceland. As the commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, Adm. James Foggo, said “ We’re toughening everyone up.” Adm Foggo also said. “This is an exercise, not a crisis, but weather can be as capable an adversary as another nation that invades your territory, and we’re finding out that there’s some very challenging conditions out there.” (The phrase General winter springs to mind).

Why has mentions of FONOP resurfaced now? The timing of the FONOP suggestion in May seems to be a response to the announcement by Russia to restrict traffic on the Northern Sea Route — with a 45-day notification in advance, with details of the characteristics of the ship, a cargo manifest and information on the captain of each ship, as well as a requirement for Russian pilots onboard foreign ships. All of the kind of stuff that automatically irks certain circles in Washington and also increases the verbosity level. The overall U.S. response is summed by the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Adm Schultz, who said. “I think in the Arctic right now, if we did something with the Navy, it’s more about just showing our ability to project capability up there.”

Although projecting capabilities is a recurring element, however, it is not the bottom line in the pursuit for unimpeded access to lucrative national resources. This outlook manifests itself in another Bloomberg example:  “America Is Losing the Battle of the Arctic”. Just the headline is cringeworthy of epic proportions: Yet the first paragraph is succinct: “Arctic, a region whose growing importance is reshaping the world’s geo-economics and geopolitics alike.” This is the crux of the matter at stake.

Given that the U.S. is an Arctic nation due to Alaska, so far, the rhetoric does not translate well into significant actions. Yet, this issue of accessibility and power projection isn’t new, as it has been a longstanding aspect of the Cold War. What is important to note that the Arctic had been strategically significant during the Cold War, but it seems that period has been whitewashed from today’s narrative, to make the claims and counter/claims with slightly more ‘scaremongering’ factors added about Russian military forces in the Russian Arctic, as well as increasing presence of Chinese activities in the region. Here I will present you with just one example how the narrative relating to icebreakers is framed:

The Russians have 40 icebreakers … and they’re building 13 more, many of which are weaponized,” says U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan. Many? Weaponised? The journalist who interviewed the Senator did not go a step further to ask about specific examples. You get the gist that this is a load of absolute hogwash, to put it politely. Something got seriously garbled somewhere along the grapevine, because I am aware of just the one ice-strengthened naval ship type that might potentially capable of carrying heavy weaponry onboard, (the ‘Ivan Papanin’,

Project 23550 ice-class patrol boats (x2) with 100mm main gun and Kalibr cruise missile launchers). So, 2 equates to ‘many’, well, two more than what the U.S. has – 0.

The biggest icebreaker bugbear that Washington has is not actually over the numbers of Russian government-operated icebreakers active, but the huge disparity itself, commonly referred to an “icebreaker gap”, (in the same way there was a “missile gap” during the Cold War). The U.S. has just the two available icebreakers. The only working government operated medium icebreaker, the USCGC ‘Healy’ is busy elsewhere and the only heavy icebreaker suitable for FONOP in the Arctic is the USCGC ‘Polar Star’, just happens to be the only U.S. research support and supply workhorse to Antarctica. Built in 1978, ‘Polar Star’ is rather elderly and prone to technical mishaps and so in need of dedicated “tender loving care’ TLC from its crew. Likewise, the former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Retired Adm Paul Zukunft, said that his “biggest fear when I was commandant” was needing to get Russian or Canadian help if one USCG ship had got stuck in ice in the Arctic.

There is a sense of torment when reading about the U.S. policy on the Arctic, the U.S. media articles on Russian icebreaking capabilities (in numbers and supersize). Yet, the horse has bolted out from the stable a long time ago. It is a pseudo priority in reality. When you consider that after 9/11, the U.S. has spent $32 million an hour on war operations for the last 18 years. Now, how much would it cost the U.S. to construct & operate 2 or 3 brand-new icebreakers, if having capabilities to operate in the Arctic had been so important of late? The difference between grandiose talk of jointly funding a new generation of icebreakers, (started by Obama in 2015), and having concrete projects being actioned is very wide. The USCG had to fight to get funds earmarked for a new icebreaker programme, and this was only set in motion back in April, when it announced a contract for the design and construction of a new heavy icebreaker, known as Polar Security Cutter (PSC). The first icebreaker, the lead ship of its class is expected to be delivered in 2024.  The USCG’s wish list includes a total of three heavy and three medium icebreakers, but it will remain to be seen whether this does become reality. Currently the U.S. Coast Guard has not been allocated sufficient funding for a second and third heavy icebreakers. The contract for the first heavy icebreaker in over 40 years is estimated at just under $750 million and covers the design, engineering, and construction costs. The USCG icebreaker will be a 37,000-ton vessel, with diesel-electric propulsion, with 45,200 HP power driven by Azipods. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2021 and with likely delivery of the vessel in 2024.

The idea that the U.S. could assert more capabilities and more power in the Arctic by just having a few icebreakers, is rather too simplistic. The notion that icebreakers (Russian or U.S.) as some kind of pawn to be deployed around for military power projection is heavily flawed. They already have a specific purpose, namely helping merchant ships to transit safely through sea-ice, to help carry out research in remote and inhospitable conditions, to assist in the event of an emergency, (Search and Rescue). The existing USCG icebreakers do just that and that is their roles. In Russia, icebreakers also play a vital part within the national transport infrastructure, by keeping trade and Arctic community supply routes open. Yet only 28 ships used the NSR in 2018. Russia is constructing the “Arktika”-class (Project. 22220) of heavy nuclear icebreakers as needy replacement for the current series, and more importantly to able to assist much larger ships along the NSR in sea-ice conditions.

Essentially the U.S. is using Russian icebreakers as an excuse for their own policy failings, procrastination and political wrangling. The Washington popular hyperbole is projecting an unworkable idea of countering (and balance) Russia and China, but this won’t be achieved through icebreakers. The reality is that the U.S. is trailing a long way behind when it comes to maintaining and enhancing its own assets to guard its territory above the Arctic Circle. The shortfall in icebreaker assets will remain and the U.S. can only compensate for this shortfall in other strategic and military areas. Returning to the main topic, the Bloomberg article quoted the 2019 USCG Arctic strategy document:

Russia has 14 icebreakers, has built six Arctic bases since 2013, and is bringing old air bases and infrastructure back into use. “

The reference to 14 icebreakers is slightly more realistic than the 46 frequently cited in the media and elsewhere. The figure of 46 comes from a 2017 USCG infographic, entitled: “Major icebreakers of the world”. It is very detailed, but to note the actual key (major icebreakers) of significance are those in black, since they have the highest power rating to ram through thick ice repeatedly. As such, they are able to operate independently in the thickest permissible ice for their class and assist other ships. The others are mostly used for lower ice thickness, hence are designated as either medium or light.

  • Medium: handle ice conditions in port approaches in the Arctic, used in combination with heavy icebreakers farther out.
  • Light: to keep port approaches open during winter, such as Vladivostok or St Petersburg.

What is interesting to note that the U.S. hasn’t really been really bothered by Russian nuclear icebreakers in operation, but now that China has plans for a nuclear-powered icebreaker, the U.S. suddenly noted this & sees it as a concern.  Equally, the voyages of the current Chinese conventional icebreaker, ‘Xue Long’, in the Arctic and along the NSR has also been reported by the Western media in a tendentious manner. The U.S. sees China’s growing power posture in the Arctic region as a threat, too close for comfort to its backyard, especially relating to Alaska. Likewise, Washington sees itself as being side-lined by a combination of Chinese activity in the Arctic in cooperation with Russia. Pompeo specifically singled Russia and China in a speech to the Arctic Council in May: “We’re concerned about Russia’s claim over the international waters of the Northern Sea Route, including its newly announced plans to connect it with China’s Maritime Silk Road.”

Digressing a little here, but the U.S. Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer, initially mentioned wanting to carry out FONOPs in the Arctic in January 2019. Five months later, he reiterated the call but adding: “If the possibility exists to go all the way around the Northwest Passage, I’d actually give that a shot. It’s freedom of navigation. If we can do it, we’ll do it.”  How to vex your northern neighbour: talk about a FONOP in the North West Passage (NWP). Secretary of State, Pompeo, also raised the issue of the NWP, when he stated in May” The U.S. has a long-contested feud with Canada over sovereign claims through the Northwest Passage”. Suffice to say, the US views of Canada’s claims of the NWP as its territorial waters, as contrary to international law, (similarly to how the NSR is viewed). This unnuanced stance taken by the U.S. is a little awkward to put it mildly. The U.S. did carry out a FONOP through the NWP, 34 years with the USCG ‘Polar Star’ causing a controversy in Canada at the time. Thankfully, a FONOP hasn’t been carried in either the NSR or NWP this summer.

The U.S. pursuit for more influence in the Arctic & calls for narrowing the icebreaker gap, are a microcosm of the core policy of upholding US-led values globally. A disquieting mindset is encapsulated in this extract of an interview with U.S. Ambassador Jim Jeffrey:

That foundation is an American-led global collective security system to fend off the predators that want to tear the system apart. Not just the military coalition, but the values that stand behind it.”

Ambassador Jeffrey was presenting his views on US and democratic values. He referred obliquely to China, Russia, and Iran.

To sum up, the U.S. sees both Russia and China as spoilers with a strong desire to prevent the US wishes in gaining unimpeded access to the Arctic. Sullenly, at times, this invariably morphs into an ‘icebreaker gap’ conundrum to promote as part of a wider advocacy for U.S. national interests.

[1] Surface FONOP since I don’t doubt that submarines have gone through there, but this hardly going to be publicised.

Nat South is currently a casual maritime commentator and researcher, with a special interest in the polar regions. Formerly a polyglot sailor and trainer.

Part 1

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On the ground, feeling the pulse of Protest Hong Kong

September 16, 2019

Protestors run past a fire during clashes with riot police in Hong Kong on Sunday, September 15. Hong Kong riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at hardcore pro-democracy protesters who were hurling rocks and petrol bombs on September 15, tipping the violence-plagued city back into chaos after a brief lull in clashes. Photo: AFP / Anthony Wallace

On the ground, feeling the pulse of Protest Hong KongPepe Escobar

What’s going on deep down in Hong Kong? For a former resident with deep cultural and emotional ties to the Fragrant Harbor, it’s quite hard to take it all in just within the framework of cold geopolitical logic. Master filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai once said that when he came up with the idea for Happy Together, he decided to shoot the story of his characters in Buenos Aires because that was as far away from Hong Kong as possible.

A few weeks ago I was walking the streets of far away Buenos Aires dreaming of Hong Kong. That Hong Kong that Wong Kar-Wai refers to in his masterpiece no longer exists. Unfortunately deprived of Christopher Doyle’s mesmerizing visuals, I ended up coming back to Hong Kong to find, eventually, that the city I knew also no longer exists.

I started my journey in my former ‘hood, Sai Ying Pun, where I lived in a studio in an average, slim, ultra-crowded Cantonese tower (I was the only foreigner) across the street from the beautiful, art deco St Louis school and not far from Hong Kong University. Although only a 20-minute walk over the hills to Central – the business and political heart of the city – Sai Ying Pun is mostly middle class with a few working-class pockets, only recently marching towards gentrification after a local MTR – subway – station was launched.

The busy streets of Hong Kong’s Sai Ying Pun district. Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons

Mongkok, across the harbor in Kowloon, with an unfathomably large population density, is the haven of frenetic small business Hong Kong, always crammed with students in search of trendy bargains. In contrast, Sai Ying Pun is a sort of languid glimpse of Hong Kong in the 1950s: it could easily have been the set for a Wong Kar-Wai movie.

From retirees to Mrs Ling, the laundry lady – still there, but without her previous, sprawling cat population (“At home!”) – the refrain is unanimous: protests, yes, but they must be peaceful. In Kowloon the previous night I had heard harrowing stories of teachers brainwashing elementary school pupils into protest marches. Not at St Louis – they told me.

Hong Kong University is another story; a hotbed of protest, some of it enlightened, where the golden hit in humanities is to analyze China as a “perfect dictatorship” where the CCP did nothing but ratchet up crude nationalism, militarism and “aggression,” in propaganda and in dealing with the rest of Asia.

As we reach Central, the Hong Kong matrix of hyper turbo-capitalism, “protests” dissolve as an unwashed-masses, bad-for-business, dirty word, dismissed at the restaurants of the old, staid Mandarin and the glitzier Mandarin Oriental, the Norman Foster/IM Pei headquarters of HSBC and Bank of China, the headquarters of JP Morgan – with a swanky Armani outlet downstairs – or at the ultra-exclusive China Club, a favorite of old Shanghai money.

Prada meets class struggle

It’s on weekends, especially Sunday, that all of Hong Kong’s – and turbo-capitalism’s – internal contradictions explode in Central. Filipina maids for decades have been staging an impromptu sit-in, a sort of benign Occupy Central in Tagalog with English subtitles, every Sunday; after all they have no public park to gather in on their only day off, so they take over the vault of HSBC and merrily picnic on the pavement in front of Prada boutiques.

To talk to them about the protests amounts to a PhD on class struggle: “It’s we who should have the right to protest about our meager wages and the kind of disgusting treatment we get from these Cantonese madames,” says a mother of three from Luzon (70% of her pay goes for remittances home). “These kids, they are so spoiled, they are raised thinking they are little kings.”

Virtually everyone in Hong Kong has reasons to protest. Take the cleaning contingent – who must do the heavy lifting after all the tear gas, burnt-out bins, bricks and broken glass, like on Sunday. Their monthly salary is the equivalent of US$1,200 – compared with the average Hong Kong salary of roughly $2,200. Horrible working conditions are the norm: exploitation, discrimination (many are from ethnic minorities and don’t speak Cantonese or English) and no welfare whatsoever.

As for the ultra-slim fringe practicing wanton destruction for destruction’s sake, they surely have learned tactics from European black blocs. On Sunday they set fire to one of the entrances to ultra-congested Wanchai station and broke glass at Admiralty. The “strategy”: breaking off MTR nodes, because paralyzing Chek Lap Kok airport – one of the busiest on the planet – won’t work anymore after the August 12/13 shutdown that canceled nearly 1,000 flights and led to a quite steep drop in passengers coming from China, Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

Two years ago, in Hamburg, Special Forces were deployed against black bloc looters. In France, the government routinely unleashes the feared CRS even against relatively peaceful Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vest protesters – complete with tear gas, water cannons and supported by helicopters, and nobody invokes human rights to complain about it. The CRS deploy flash ball strikes even against the media.

Not to mention that any occupation of Charles de Gaulle, Heathrow or JFK is simply unthinkable. Chek Lap Kok, on a weekday, is now eerily quiet. Police patrol all the entrances. Passengers arriving via the Airport Express fast train must now show passport and boarding pass before being allowed inside the terminal.

Western media accounts, predictably, focus on the radical fringe, as well as the substantial fifth-columnist contingent. This weekend a few hundred staged a mini-protest in front of the British consulate asking, essentially, to be given asylum. Some of them are holders of British National Overseas (BNO) passports, which are effectively useless, as the provide no working or residency rights in the UK.

Other fifth-columnists spent their weekend waving flags from Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Ukraine, US, Taiwan, and last but not least, the Hong Kong colonial flag.

Meet homo Hong Kong

Who are these people? Well, that necessarily brings us to a crash course on homo Hong Kong.

Not many people in Hong Kong can point to ancestors in place before the Opium War of 1841 and the subsequent rule of imperial Britain. Most don’t know much about the People’s Republic of China, so essentially there’s no grudge. They own their own homes, which means, crucially, they are insulated from Hong Kong’s number one problem: the demented, speculative property market.

Then there are the old China elites – people who fled Mao’s victory in 1949. At first they were orphans of Chiang Kai-shek. Then they concentrated on hating the Communist Party with a vengeance. The same applies to their offspring. The ultra-wealthy gather at the China Club. The less wealthy at least can afford $5 million apartments at The Peak. Canada is a preferred destination – hence Hong-Couver as a substantial part of Vancouver. For them Hong Kong is essentially a transit stop, like a glitzy business lounge.

It’s this – large – contingent that is behind the protests.

The lower strata of the Escape from China elites are the economic refugees of 1949. Tough luck: still today they don’t own property and have no savings. A great many of the easily manipulated teenagers taking over the streets of Hong Kong dressed in black and singing “Glory to Hong Kong” and dreaming of “independence” are their sons and daughters. It’s certainly a cliché, but it does apply to their case: trapped between East and West, between an Americanized lifestyle on steroids and the pull of Chinese culture and history.

Hong Kong cinema, with all its pulsating dynamism and exhilarating creativity, may offer the perfect metaphor to understand the inner contradictions of the Fragrant Harbor. Take Tsui Hark’s 1992 masterpiece New Dragon Gate Inn, with Donnie Yen and gorgeous Maggie Cheung, based on what happened at a crucial pass in the Ancient Silk Road six centuries ago.

Here we may place Hong Kong as the inn between imperial despotism and the desert. Inside, we find fugitives imprisoned between their dream of escaping to the “West” and the cynically exploitative owners. That connects with the ghostly, Camus-infused existential terror for the modern homo Hong Kong: soon he may be liable to be “extradited” to evil China before he has a chance to be granted asylum by the benevolent West. A fabulous line by Donnie Yen’s character sums it all up: “Rain in the Dragon Gate mountains makes the Xue Yuan tiger come down.”

Good to be a tycoon

The drama played out in Hong Kong is actually a microcosm of the Big Picture: turbo-charged, neoliberal hyper-capitalism confronted to zero political representation. This “arrangement” that only suits the 0.1% simply can’t go on like before.

In fact what I reported about Hong Kong seven years ago for Asia Times could have been written this morning. And it got worse. Over 15% of Hong Kong’s population now lives in actual poverty. According to figures from last year, the total net worth of the wealthiest 21 Hong Kong tycoons, at $234 billion, was the equivalent of Hong Kong’s fiscal reserves. Most of these tycoons are property market speculators. Compare it to real wages for low-income workers increasing a meager 12.3% over the past decade.

Beijing, later rather than sooner, may have awakened to the number one issue in Hong Kong – the property market dementia, as reported by Asia Times. Yet even if the tycoons get the message, the underlying framework of life in Hong Kong is not bound to be altered: maximum profit crushing wages and any type of unionization.

So economic inequality will continue to boom – as an unrepresentative Hong Kong government “led” by a clueless civil servant keeps treating citizens as non-citizens. At Hong Kong University I heard some serious proposals: “We need a more realistic minimum wage. “We need real taxes on capital gains and on property.” “We need a decent property market.”

Will that be addressed before a crucial deadline – October 1st – when Beijing will be celebrating, with great fanfare, the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China? Of course not. Trouble will continue to brew at the Dragon Inn – as those underpaid, over-exploited cleaners face the bleakest of futures.

 

 

Why the Protestors of Hong Kong Are Destroying the Prosperity of Their Country

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Martin SIEFF

September 14, 2019

The people of Hong Kong enjoy one of the highest standards of livings of any city across continental Asia. Since peacefully being reabsorbed into mainland China in 1997, they have confounded endless Western Prophets of Doom: These falsely claimed that Beijing would not maintain its solemn undertakings for peace and security in the city and territory. They maintained that Hong Kong’s historic position as one of the great business hubs of Asia and the world would rapidly be destroyed. Nothing of the sort happened.

But the prosperity of Hong Kong for generations to come is danger now – and the threat manifestly does not come from Beijing.

The mass protests for greater democracy and freedom continue. And following a grim dynamic that goes back well over two centuries to the French Revolution they can never be satisfied.

The more that the administration of Hong Kong led by Carrie Lam and the national Chinese government in Beijing seek to avoid the undue use of force and the infliction of casualties, the more violent, the demonstrations slowly and remorselessly become, the broader and more sweeping are their demands for political liberties – though these are invariably vague and ill-defined.

I predict here – simply and clearly – that no matter how many concessions allegedly for liberty are given they will never satisfy the protestors and the Western governments who at the very least are using them as political puppets and pawns. All that can possibly be achieved is to create an atmosphere of fear, insecurity and violence: That is toxic to attract both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and also regular investment from the rest of China.

Therefore Hong Kong’s economy will founder, while unemployment and economic suffering will grow. Then, those suffering from it will be encouraged to blame the very government that has sought so long and so hard to prevent disasters from happening.

I speak with a particular authority on these matters: Half a century ago as a teenage Irish boy, I watched the same kind of protests destroy forever the peace and prosperity of one of the most advanced industrial centers on the face of the planet in the city of Belfast.

The lessons I learned then would serve the people of Hong Kong well today before they bring an unimaginable disaster upon themselves.

For popular violent protests against authorities never bring peace: They only bring war – Almost always on a scale that none of the protestors dreamed of when they took to the streets.

Prosperity never follows. At best there is mass unemployment and despair as local businesses and national investment flee the territory for decades and generations. You do not build factories and hire workers for them when the factory will be burned down in one of the endless clashes that will soon follow.

The “freedom” that the protestors demand is illusory. It is fools’ gold: It is the fantasy of wealth at the end of the rainbow that is never found.

Hong Kong’s enormous economic advantage for nearly 180 years under first British and over the past two decades of enlightened Chinese autonomous rule has been that it has been a secure, predictable and safe place to do business with the Mainland and with the wider region.

But that is no longer true: The longer the protests rage and the wider and more serious they become, the more that incalculable advantage is eroded before our eyes.

When I was a young boy, my father on Sunday mornings proudly took me down to the Harland & Woolf Shipyard on Queen’s Island to see some of the biggest moving vehicles in the world – giant cargo vessels, tankers, aircraft carriers and cruise ships – being built.

My father was proud of his son, but he was proud of his city too: Belfast was still the largest ship building center on earth. The great shipyard at its peak employed 35,000 workers. Enormous rivers of humanity would flow back and forth on the bridge over the River Lagan every day as its workers streamed to and from their labors. But for most of the past 50 years, almost all of it has become an industrial wasteland peopled only by ghosts.

Peace finally returned to Northern Ireland after 30 years of civil strife, but it was too late. The great shipyard never recovered and it never revived. What had been done could not be undone.

If these riots continue, that will be the fate of Hong Kong too. Nearly two centuries of growth and prosperity will wither and die.

This is no wild prediction. It is tantamount to a mathematical inevitability: There is a remorseless tidal wave of fate to the pattern of rising political protests that escalate into a violent revolution that can only be contained by the use of military force.

The Civil War in Northern Ireland raged – sometimes horrifically, sometimes more subdued – from 1968 to the landmark Good Friday Agreement of 1998. My old, dear friend, British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Marjorie “Mo” Mowlam was the key figure driving the negotiations. She undermined her health doing so. Then a host of political parasites from US President Bill Clinton to British Prime Minister Tony Blair were eager to hog all the praise and credit for themselves years later as Mo lay dying from a brain tumor.

The decades that followed the collapse of law and order in Ireland in 1968-1972 were the darkest in the island’s troubled history since the Great Famine of the 1840s. The British government’s record of secret manipulation and involvement in dark excesses and crimes during those years gives London no moral standing today to lecture China on how it handles the unrest in Hong Kong, or anywhere else.

I never expected to see the end of apparently endless war in Ireland in my own lifetime. Thanks to Mo Mowlam’s selfless labors and those of countless other British and Irish figures great and small, peace finally came. The protestors of Hong Kong too now need to take a step back, suck in a deep breath and pause to think long and hard before they charge down that same doomed and awful path.

President Macron’s amazing admission

President Macron’s amazing admission

The Saker

September 11, 2019

[this column was written for the Unz Review]

I don’t know whether the supposedly Chinese curse really comes from China, but whether it does or not, we most certainly are cursed with living in some truly interesting times: Iran won the first phase of the “tanker battle” against the AngloZionistsPutin offered to sell Russian hypersonic missiles to Trump (Putin has been trolling western leaders a lot lately) while Alexander Lukashenko took the extreme measure of completely shutting down the border between the Ukraine and Belarus due to the huge influx of weapons and nationalist extremists from the Ukraine. As he put it himself “if weapons fall into the hands of ordinary people and especially nationalist-minded people, wait for terrorism“. He is quite right, of course. Still, there is a sweet irony here, or call it karma if you prefer, but for the Ukronazis who promised their people a visa-free entrance into the EU (for tourism only, and if you have money to spend, but still…), and yet 5 years into that obscene experiment of creating a rabidly russophobic Ukraine and 100 days (or so) into Zelenskii’s presidency, we have the Ukraine’s closest and most supportive neighbor forced to totally shut down its border due to the truly phenomenal toxicity of the Ukrainian society! But, then again, the Ukraine is such a basket-case that we can count on “most interesting” things (in the sense of the Chinese curse, of course) happening there too.

[Sidebar: interestingly, one of the people the Ukrainians gave up in this exchange was Vladimir Tsemakh, a native of the Donbass who was kidnapped by the Ukie SBU in Novorussia (our noble “Europeans” did not object to such methods!) and declared the “star witness” against Russia in the MH-17 (pseudo-)investigation. Even more pathetic is that the Dutch apparently fully endorsed this load of crapola. Finally, and just for a good laugh, check out how the infamous’ Bellincat presented Tsemakh. And then, suddenly, everybody seem to “forget” that “star witness” and now the Ukies have sent him to Russia. Amazing how fast stuff gets lost in the collective western memory hole…]

Right now there seems to be a tug of war taking place between the more mentally sane elements of the Zelenskii administration and the various nationalist extremists in the SBU, deathsquads and even regular armed forces. Thus we see these apparently contradictory developments taking place: on on hand, the Ukraine finally agreed to a prisoner swap with Russia (a painful one for Russia as Russia mostly traded real criminals, including a least two bona fide Ukie terrorist, against what are mostly civilian hostages, but Putin decided – correctly I think – that freeing Russian nationalists from Ukie jails was more important in this case) while on the other hand, the Ukronazi armed forces increased their shelling, even with 152mm howitzers which fire 50kg high explosive fragmentation shells, against the Donbass. Whatever may be the case, this prisoner swap, no matter how one-sided and unfair, is a positive development which might mark the beginning of a pragmatic and less ideological attitude in Kiev.

Urkoterrorists Sentsov and Kol’chenko

Some very cautious beginnings of a little hint of optimism might be in order following that exchange, but the big stuff seems to be scheduled for the meeting of the Normandy Group (NG), probably in France. So far, the Russians have made it very clear that they will not meet just for the hell of meeting, and that the only circumstance in which the Russians will agree to a NG meeting would be if it has good chances of yielding meaningful results which, translated from Russian diplomatic language simply means “if/when Kiev stops stonewalling and sabotaging everything”. Specifically, the Russians are demanding that Zelenskii commit in writing to the so-called “Steinmeier formula” and that the Ukrainian forces withdraw from the line of contact. Will that happen? Maybe. We shall soon find out.

But the single most amazing event of the past couple of weeks was the absolutely astonishing speech French President Emmanuel Macron made in front of an assembly of ambassadors. I could not find the full speech translated into English (I may have missed it somewhere), so I will post the crucial excerpts in French and translate them myself. If I find a full, official, translation I will post it under this column ASAP. For the time being, this is the link to the full speech transcript in French:

https://www.elysee.fr/emmanuel-macron/2019/08/27/discours-du-president-de-la-republique-a-la-conference-des-ambassadeurs-1

Let’s immediately begin with some of the most incredible excerpts, emphasis added by me: (sorry for the long quote but, truly, each word counts!)

L’ordre international est bousculé de manière inédite mais surtout avec, si je puis dire, un grand bouleversement qui se fait sans doute pour la première fois dans notre histoire à peu près dans tous les domaines, avec une magnitude profondément historique. C’est d’abord une transformation, une recomposition géopolitique et stratégique. Nous sommes sans doute en train de vivre la fin de l’hégémonie occidentale sur le monde. Nous nous étions habitués à un ordre international qui depuis le 18ème siècle reposait sur une hégémonie occidentale, vraisemblablement française au 18ème siècle, par l’inspiration des Lumières ; sans doute britannique au 19ème grâce à la révolution industrielle et raisonnablement américaine au 20ème grâce aux 2 grands conflits et à la domination économique et politique de cette puissance. Les choses changent. Et elles sont profondément bousculées par les erreurs des Occidentaux dans certaines crises, par les choix aussi américains depuis plusieurs années et qui n’ont pas commencé avec cette administration mais qui conduisent à revisiter certaines implications dans des conflits au Proche et Moyen-Orient et ailleurs, et à repenser une stratégie profonde, diplomatique et militaire, et parfois des éléments de solidarité dont nous pensions qu’ils étaient des intangibles pour l’éternité même si nous avions constitué ensemble dans des moments géopolitiques qui pourtant aujourd’hui ont changé. Et puis c’est aussi l’émergence de nouvelles puissances dont nous avons sans doute longtemps sous-estimé l’impact. La Chine au premier rang mais également la stratégie russe menée, il faut bien le dire, depuis quelques années avec plus de succès. J’y reviendrai. L’Inde qui émerge, ces nouvelles économies qui deviennent aussi des puissances pas seulement économiques mais politiques et qui se pensent comme certains ont pu l’écrire, comme de véritables États civilisations et qui viennent non seulement bousculer notre ordre international, qui viennent peser dans l’ordre économique mais qui viennent aussi repenser l’ordre politique et l’imaginaire politique qui va avec, avec beaucoup de force et beaucoup plus d’inspiration que nous n’en avons. Regardons l’Inde, la Russie et la Chine. Elles ont une inspiration politique beaucoup plus forte que les Européens aujourd’hui. Elles pensent le monde avec une vraie logique, une vraie philosophie, un imaginaire que nous avons un peu perdu

Here is my informal translation of these words:

The international order is being shaken in an unprecedented manner, above all with, if I may say so, by the great upheaval that is undoubtedly taking place for the first time in our history, in almost every field and with a profoundly historic magnitude. The first thing we observe is a major transformation, a geopolitical and strategic re-composition. We are undoubtedly experiencing the end of Western hegemony over the world. We were accustomed to an international order which, since the 18th century, rested on a Western hegemony, mostly French in the 18th century, by the inspiration of the Enlightenment; then mostly British in the 19th century thanks to the Industrial Revolution and, finally, mostly American in the 20th century thanks to the 2 great conflicts and the economic and political domination of this power. Things change. And they are now deeply shaken by the mistakes of Westerners in certain crises, by the choices that have been made by Americans for several years which did not start with this administration, but which lead to revisiting certain implications in conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, and to rethinking a deep, diplomatic and military strategy, and sometimes elements of solidarity that we thought were intangible for eternity, even if we had constituted together in geopolitical moments that have changed. And then there is the emergence of new powers whose impact we have probably underestimated for a long time. China is at the forefront, but also the Russian strategy, which has, it must be said, been pursued more successfully in recent years. I will come back to that. India that is emerging, these new economies that are also becoming powers not only economic but political and that think themselves, as some have written, as real “civilizational states” which now come not only to shake up our international order but who also come to weigh in on the economic order and to rethink the political order and the political imagination that goes with it, with much dynamism and much more inspiration than we have. Look at India, Russia and China. They have a much stronger political inspiration than Europeans today. They think about our planet with a true logic, a true philosophy, an imagination that we’ve lost a little bit.

Now let’s unpack these key statements one by one:

1) “ great upheaval that is undoubtedly taking place for the first time in our history in almost every field and with a profoundly historic magnitude”

Here Macron sets the stage for some truly momentous observations: what will be discussed next is not only a major event, but one without precedent in history (whether French or European). Furthermore, what will be discussed next, affects “almost every field” and with huge historical implications.

2) “We are undoubtedly experiencing the end of Western hegemony over the world”

When I read that, my first and rather infantile reaction was to exclaim “really?! No kiddin’?! Who would have thought!?” After all, some of us have been saying that for a long, long while, but never-mind that. What is important is that even a Rothschild-puppet like Macron had to finally speak these words. Oh sure, he probably felt as happy as the Captain of the Titanic when he had to (finally!) order a general evacuation of this putatively unsinkable ship, but nonetheless – he did do it. From now on, the notion of the end of the western hegemony on the planet is no more relegated to what the leaders of the Empire and their propaganda machine like to call “fringe extremists” and has now fully entered the (supposedly) “respectable” and “mainstream” public discourse. This is a huge victory for all of us who have been saying the same things for years already.

3) “by the mistakes of Westerners in certain crises, by the choices that have been made by Americans for several years”

Here, again, I feel like engaging in some petty self-congratulation and want to say “I told you that too!”, but that would really be infantile, would it not? But yeah, while the internal contradictions of western materialism in general, and of AngloZionist Capitalism specifically, have been catching up with the Western World and while an eventual catastrophic crisis was inevitable, it also sure is true that western leaders mostly did it to themselves; at the very least, they dramatically accelerated these processes. In this context, I would single out the following politicians for a nomination to a medal for exceptional service in the destruction of the western hegemony over our long-suffering planet: Donald Trump and Barak Obama, of course, but also François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron (yes, he too even if he now changes his tune!), Angela Merkel, of course, and then last but not least, every single British Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher (maybe with special commendation for Teresa May). Who knows, maybe they were all KGB/GRU/SVR agents after all? (just kiddin’!)

4) “ the emergence of new powers whose impact we have probably underestimated for a long time. China is at the forefront, but also the Russian strategy, which has, it must be said, been pursued more successfully in recent years”

Next, it’s not only China. Russia too is a major competitor, and a very successful one at that, hence the admission that in spite of all the efforts of the AngloZionist elites not only did the Empire not succeed in breaking Russia, but Russia has been very successful in defeating the western efforts. To those interested, I highly recommend this article by Jon Hellevig on the true state of the Russian economy. Finally, in military terms, Russia has achieved more than parity. In fact, I would argue that at least in terms of quality the Russian armed forces are ahead in several crucial technologies (hypersonic missiles, air defenses, electronic warfare etc.) even while she still lags behind in other technologies (mostly truly obsolete things like aircraft carriers). But most crucial is the political victory of Russia: five years after the Euromaidan and the liberation of Crimea from the Nazi yoke, the USA is far more isolated than Russia. It’s comical, really!

5) “real “civilizational states” which now come not only to shake up our international order

I have been speaking about a unique, and very distinct, “Russian civilizational realm” in many of my writings and I am quite happy to see Macron using almost the same words. Of course, Macron did not only mean Russia here, but also India and China. Still, and although the Russian nation is much younger than the one of China or, even more so India, 1000 years of Russian civilization does deserve to be listed next to these two other giants of world history. And what is absolutely certain is that China and India could never build the new international order they want without Russia, at least for the foreseeable future. In spite of all the very real progress made recently by the Chinese armed forces (and, to a lesser degree, also the Indian ones), Russia still remains a much stronger military power than China. What Russia, China and India are, is that they are all former empires which have given up on imperialism and who know only aspire to be powerful, but nevertheless “normal” nations. Just by their size and geography, these are “un-invadable” countries who all present a distinct model of development and who want a multi-polar international order which would allow them to safely achieve their goals. In other words, Macron understands that the future international order will be dictated by China, Russia and India and not by any combination of western powers. Quite an admission indeed!

6) “ Look at India, Russia and China. They have a much stronger political inspiration than Europeans today. They think about our planet with a true logic, a true philosophy, an imagination that we’ve lost a little bit.”

This is the “core BRICS” challenge to the Empire: China and Russia have already established what the Chinese call a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era”. If they can now extend this kind of informal but extremely profound partnership (I think of it as “symbiotic”) to India next, then the BRICS will have a formidable future (especially after the Brazilian people give the boot to Bolsonaro and his US patrons). Should that fail and should India chose to remain outside this unique relationship, then the SCO will become the main game in town. And yes, Macron is spot on: China and, especially, Russia have a fundamentally different worldview and, unlike the western one, theirs does have “much stronger political” goals (Macron used the word “aspirations”), “a real philosophy and imagination” which the West has lost, and not just a “little bit” but, I would argue, completely. But one way or the other, and for the first time in 1000 years, the future of our planet will not be decided anywhere in the West, not in Europe (old or “new”), but in Asia, primarily by the Russian-Chinese alliance. As I explained here, the AngloZionist Empire is probably the last one in history, definitely the last western one.

Now we should not be naïve here, Macron did not suddenly find religion, grow a conscience or suddenly become an expert on international relations. There is, of course, a cynical reason why he is changing his tune. In fact, there are several such reasons. First, it appears that the on and off bromance between Macron and Trump is over. Second, all of Europe is in free fall socially, economically and, of course, politically. And with a total nutcase in power in London dealing with Brexit and with Angela Merkel’s apparently never-ending political agony, it is only logical for a French head of state to try to step in. Furthermore, while I have always said that Russia is not part of Europe culturally and spiritually, Russia is very much part of Europe geographically, economically and politically and there is simply no way for any imaginable alliance of European states to save Europe from its current predicament without Russian help. Like it or not, that is a fact, irrespective of whether politician or commentator X, Y or Z realizes this or not. Macron probably figured out that the so-called “East Europeans” are nothing but cheap prostitutes doing whatever Uncle Shmuel wants them to do, Germany is collapsing under the weight of Merkel’s “brilliant” immigration policy while the UK under BoJo is busy trying to self-destruct at least as fast as the USA under Trump. Macron is right. If united, Russia and France could build a much safer Europe than the one we see slowly and painfully dying before our eyes today. But he is also wrong if he thinks that Russia can be “re-invited” back into the AngloZionist sphere of influence. In that context, Putin’s reply to the question of whether Russia was willing to return to the G8 is very telling: first he said that if the G7 wants to come back to Russia, Putin would welcome that, but then he also added that the G7/8 is useless without, yes, you guessed it, China and India.

It will be interesting to see if the current G7 will ever agree to mutate into a new G10 which would make Russia, China and India the most powerful block (or voting group) of this new forum. I personally doubt it very much, but then they are becoming desperate and Macron’s words seem to be indicating that this option is at least being discussed behind closed doors. Frankly, considering how quickly the G7 is becoming utterly irrelevant, I expect it to be gradually phased out and replaced by the (objectively much more relevant) G20.

Finally, there are Trump’s efforts into getting Russia back into the G8 which are very transparently linked to the current trade war and geostrategic competition between the US and China. The offer is useless to Russia, just like the return to PACE, but Russia does not want to needlessly offend anybody and that is why Putin did not publicly rebuff Trump or directly refuse to come to Miami: instead, he approved of the general concept, but offered a better way to go about it. Typical Putin.

Conclusion: Macron reads the writing on the wall

Whatever his political motives to say what he said, Macron is no idiot and neither are his advisors. Neither is this a “one off” thing. The French meant every word Macron spoke and they are putting everybody on notice (including the Ukrainians, the US, the EU and the Russians, of course). In fact, Macron has already invited Putin to participate in a Normandy Format meeting in Paris in the very near future. If that meeting eventually does take place, this will mean that the organizers gave Putin guarantees that this will not just be the usual kaffeeklatsch and that some serious results will finally be obtained. That, in turn, means that somebody – probably the French – will have the unpleasant task of telling the Ukrainians that the party is over and that they now need to get their act together and start implementing the Minsk Agreements, something which Zelenskii might or might not try to do, but which the real gun-toting Ukronazis will never accept. Thus, if the West is really serious about forcing Kiev to abide by the Mink Agreements, then the West has to finally give-up its self-defeating russophobic hysteria and substantially change their tone about the Ukraine. To invite Putin to Paris just to tell him again that Russia (which is not even a party to the Minsk Agreements) “must do more” makes zero sense. Therefore, all the other parties will have to come to terms with reality before inviting Putin. Apparently, this might be happening in Paris. As for Trump, he just offered to mediate (if asked to do so) between Russia and the Ukraine.

It shall be extremely interesting to see if this Normandy Format meeting does actually take place and what role, if any, Trump and the USA will play behind the scenes. We shall then know if Macron’s epiphany was just a one-time fluke or not.

The Saker

PS: the latest rumor from the Ukraine: Zelenskii supporters are saying that Poroshenko is preparing a coup against Zelenskii and that he is preparing a special force of Ukronazi deathsquads to execute that coup. Dunno about a real coup, but they have already blocked the Rada. Never a dull moment indeed… 🙂

لا تغيير في نهج ترامب أميركا أولاً… والانسحاب سيّد الموقف!

سبتمبر 14, 2019

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محمد صادق الحسيني

إنّ أيّ تحليل عميق لنهج الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب، ومنذ أن بدأ حملته الانتخابية التي أوصلته الى البيت الابيض، لا يمكن إلا أن يؤكد عدم ميله ترامب الى إنشاء ادارة أميركية قوية، كتلك الإدارات الأميركية السابقة والمتماسكة والتي كانت تعمل كمحرك، تنسجم جميع مكوناته، في إنجاز عمل متكامل، عبر نسق من الآليات، خدمة لمصلحة الامن القومي الأميركي في العالم، بل إنّ ما يصبو اليه هو تحقيق رؤية ترامب لمصلحة الامن القومي الأميركي والمعروفة للجميع.

إنها باختصار شديد:

1. التركيز على الوضع الداخلي الأميركي، وإعادة إحياء الاقتصاد والبنى التحتية المتهالكة، في الولايات المتحدة.

2. إعادة التركيز على ضرورة العودة الى مبدأ الرأسمالية المنتجة الصناعية والحدّ من تغوُل رأسمالية المضاربات أسواق البورصات التي يسيطر عليها اليهود .

3. تخفيض الإنفاق العام للدولة وذلك لتوفير الأموال اللازمة للاستثمارات الضرورية للنهوض بالاقتصاد وخلق فرص عمل جديدة إلى جانب تحسين قدرات الولايات المتحدة التنافسية في الأسواق الدولية، لضمان فرص أفضل لمواجهة الصين على الصعيد الاقتصادي والتجاري، حالياً ومستقبلاً.

من هنا قام الرئيس ترامب بالتخلي عن كلّ من عارض توجهاته الشخصية، لتحقيق رؤية ترامب المشار اليها أعلاه، منذ وصل البيت الأبيض حتى الآن. وكان آخر من طرد من المركب هو مستشار الأمن القومي لترامب، جون بولتون، أحد أكثر المحافظين الجدد تطرفاً والصديق اللصيق لنتنياهو، وداعية الحرب ضدّ إيران وروسيا وكوريا الشمالية وفنزويلا وكلّ من يعارض توجهاته العدوانية الخطيرة، والتي يمثلها تيار بعينه في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية.

انطلاقاً من انّ إدارة ترامب ليست إدارة أميركية كلاسيكية ذات استراتيجية واضحة، وبالتالي تعتمد في تنفيذها على أدوات محدّدة، فإننا نرى انّ الرئيس ترامب قد أعطى كلّ واحد من مراكز القوى في الولايات المتحدة ما يريد تقريباً.

فهو أعطى سماسرة الحروب والدولة العميقة، بما فيها البنتاغون، دعاة الحرب بولتون وبومبيو. كما أعطى اللوبيات اليهودية، في الولايات المتحدة، كلّ ما طلبه نتنياهو، من صفقة القرن الى كلّ الأدوار التفضيلية في كلّ المجالات.

ولكنه في الوقت نفسه انتظر موسم الحصاد. فإذا به موسماً لم ينتج شيئاً، حيث إنّ جميع مشاريع الحروب، التي كان يديرها دعاة الحرب، قد فشلت تماماً. لم تسقط الدولة السورية ولم يتمّ القضاء على حزب الله والمقاومة الفلسطينية في غزة وهزم مشروع داعش، في العراق وسورية وبمساعدة إيران قبل أيّ كان. كما هزم المشروع السعودي في اليمن على الرغم من مرور خمس سنوات على أكثر حروب البشرية وحشية وإجراماً، مورست ضدّ شعب أعزل ومسالم ودون أيّ مسوغ.

اما أمّ الهزائم فهي هزيمة دعاة الحرب في المواجهة الدائرة مع إيران، سواء على الصعيد الاقتصادي او على الصعيد العسكري، بعد إسقاط طائرة التجسّس الأميركية العملاقة وعدم قيام الرئيس الأميركي بالردّ على إسقاطها، ما جعل جون بولتون يلجأ الى مؤامرة احتجاز ناقلة النفط الإيرانية، بالتعاون مع بعض غلاة الساسة في واشنطن ولندن، على أمل ان يتمكن هؤلاء من توريط الرئيس الأميركي في حرب مع إيران.

اما في ما يتعلق بشريك بولتون في التآمر والكذب، نتنياهو، فلم تكن نتائج مؤامراتة وألاعيبة ومسرحياته أفضل حظاً من ممارسات بولتون. نفذ اعتداءات جوية على سورية ولبنان والعراق وأخذ كلّ ما أراد من الرئيس الأميركي. صفقة القرن، بما فيها من نقل السفارة الأميركية الى القدس والاعتراف بالمدينة عاصمة لـ»إسرائيل» وصولاً الى الاعتراف بسيادتها على الجولان.

ولكن الرئيس الأميركي تيقن من انّ نتيجة كلّ ذلك هو صفر. حيث أَمر نتنياهو، بصفته وزيراً للحرب، جيشه بترك الحدود مع لبنان والانسحاب مسافة سبعة كيلومترات الى الخلف. أيّ انّ جيشه ليس قادراً حتى على حماية نفسه من هجمات محدودة من قوات حزب الله.

فماذا كان قرار ترامب على ضوء كل هذه الحقائق؟

أ وقف الاتصالات الهاتفية مع نتنياهو، على الرغم من مواصلة الأخير استجداء ذلك، منذ اكثر من أسبوعين.

ب إعلان الرئيس الأميركي أنه سيبدأ مفاوضات سرية، مع أنصار الله اليمنيين، في عُمان.

ج تأكيده عشرات المرات على رغبته في التفاوض مع إيران وتعيينه الجنرال مارك إِسبر وزيراً للدفاع والذي أعلن في تصريح تلفزيوني أنه لا يريد حرباً مع إيران وإنما يريد الوصول الى حلّ دبلوماسي للخلاف.

د طرده لجون بولتون من البيت الأبيض ووضعه لمايك بومبيو على لائحة الانتظار، والذي لن يطول انتظاره اكثر من ثلاثة أشهر. ربما حتى نهاية شهر تشرين الثاني المقبل 11 / 2019 .

وهذا يعني أنّ ترامب قد قرّر العودة الى التركيز على شعارات حملته الانتخابية الاولى، بدءاً بما ذكر أعلاه اقتصادياً ومالياً ووصولاً الى:

الانسحاب العسكري الشامل، من كلّ «الشرق الأوسط» وليس فقط من افغانستان وسورية، وما يعنيه ذلك من تخلٍ كامل عن «إسرائيل» في اللحظة المناسبة… من الناحية العملية، وربما من مناطق عديدة أخرى في العالم وذلك خفضاً للنفقات العسكرية الأميركية تملك واشنطن اكثر من ألف قاعدة عسكرية خارج الولايات المتحدة .

الاستعداد لتحسين العلاقات الأميركية الروسية ومحاولة منع قيام تحالف أو حلف عسكري روسي مع الصين، ربما تنضم إليه دول اخرى.

إيجاد صيغة ما للتفاوض مع إيران وتطبيع العلاقات معها، وما يعنيه ذلك من تخلّ فعلي عن أدوات واشنطن الخليجية وسقوط لهم لاحقاً، ونعني بالتحديد ابن سلمان وابن زايد.

اذ انهم، كما نتن ياهو، فشلوا في تحقيق أيّ نجاح في المهمات التي أوكلت اليهم في طول «الشرق الاوسط» وعرضه، الأمر الذي جعلهم عبئاً لا طائل من حمله.

ولكن ترامب، رجل المال والصفقات، لن يترك ابن سلمان وابن زايد ينجون بجلودهم ويذهبون في حال سبيلهم، دون أن يعصر منهم المزيد من الاموال. اذ انه، ومن خلال الخبراء الأميركيين المختصين، يعمل على الاستيلاء على عملاق النفط العالمي، شركة أرامكو للبترول، وذلك من خلال طرحها للاكتتاب الخصخصة في بورصة نيويورك ومنع طرحها في بورصة طوكيو.

كما أنّ احتياطي النفط الهائل في محافظة الجوف اليمنية، الذي يزيد على كل احتياطيات النفط السعودية، هو السبب الرئيسي وراء رغبة ترامب عقد محادثات سرية مع أنصار الله، بهدف انهاء الحرب. فهو في حقيقة الأمر يريد التفاوض مع ممثلي الشعب اليمني ليس حفاظاً على أرواح اليمنيين وإنما من اجل ضمان إعطاء حقوق استثمار حقول النفط الموجودة في محافظة الجوف لشركات أميركية واستبعاد الشركات الروسية والصينية وحتى البريطانية من هذا المجال.

بعدنا طيبين، قولوا الله…

7 Decades of China’s achievements

7 Decades of China’s achievements

September 11, 2019

by Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan

China is an old civilization and has been passing through various ups and downs throughout history. Which is very much rational and the natural cycle of human history. There was a time when Romans were at the peak, but today they stand nowhere, British and French colonialized half of the world, but today squeezed to a small state only. Ottoman Empire in Turkey was in control of parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe, but today is a small developing nation. Every peak has to pass through fall, it is a natural cycle in the history of nations. But China, the last 200 years have been suffering due to the colonializations, imperialism, and expansionism of Western World. Either it was opium war I or II or War of resistance, the Chinese suffered a lot. But with the establishment of the “The People’s Republic of China on the 1st of October 1949, China liberated finally. However, it did not end the Western world’s aggression against China. It was the economic blockade of China or war against communism threat, China was the victim in the early 1950s, 1960, and 1970s.

China spent almost 3 decades on internal reforms with a focus on ideology, unity, and change of mindset during the period 1949-1978, under the great leadership of Chairman Mao. Fight against feudalism and imperialism was at the top of the agenda. Equality was promoted, the farmers, workers, and soldiers were treated equally. In the eyes of the state, everyone was equal irrespective of its nature of job, profession, social status or qualification. It gave a lot of courage to people of China and hope for a bright future, which was a motivational force for them to struggle for a better life. As a net achievement of political reforms, the whole nation became united and stands on one page with the Government.

After having great success on the political front, China entered into a new phase of Economic Reforms, under the visionary leadership of Comrade Deng Xiao Ping, since 1978. During the last 4 decades, Chinese common man persistently worked hard, the visionary leadership has provided the incentive-based right policies and the Government has provided enabling environments. China made huge progress on the economic front, it has surpassed the German Economy in 2006, surpassed the Japanese Economy in 2010, and expected to surpass American Economy in 2026. Currently, China has gained the status of the second-largest economy just behind the USA only.

One of China’s major victories is on the “Poverty Elimination front”. Just within 4 decades, China has lifted around 750 million people from the line of poverty. No other nation or collectively whole world has not shown such huge achievements. It was a goal set up in the Millennium Development Goals by the UN and China has contributed a lot. In fact, China’s contribution to fighting against poverty worldwide has been recognized. Many nations are beneficiary of Chinese assistance to fight against poverty and hunger. Some of the nations are following the Chinese path to address the issue of poverty in their own countries and are successful to some extent.

The life of a common man in China has been improved to a huge extent. From the shortage of food and the basic necessities of life, China has turned into an abundance of food and a luxury lifestyle. I lived in China for 7 years in the 1980s and eye witness to the use of coupons and rationing of food and daily consumer products. Buying a bicycle, washing machine, electric fans were considered luxury and faced many difficulties. New clothes and shoes were purchased at festivals, especially on Chinese “New Year” only. Living standards and public transport were rather poor in condition. As a result of Economic Reforms, China has emerged as a net exporter of its excessive production and earning a huge amount of foreign exchange. Spiritual life for Chinese citizens has also witnessed a big change, entertainment Industry, Tourism, and luxury life has been witnessed in width and length of China.

Chinese people enjoy more freedom of expression and access to information as compared to 4 decades ago. Law and order situation has been ranked as one of the best in the global arena. Curse of Terrorism is a very common phenomenon all around the world, but in China, it is comparatively safe and under control. The legal system inside China has improved a lot and people feel more safe and secure inside China. Openness and modernity are very much visible on the streets of all big cities in China. Prosperity is prevailing and sense of comfort is visible from the faces of the common man.

The third phase of China is globalization which is currently prevailing in China, under the great leadership of President Xi Jin Ping.

Chinese progress in Agriculture and the Industrial sector has changed the whole world’s trading pattern and become a hope for developing nations. China’s trade surplus with the rest of world, especially with the developed world has set an example for all developing nations. Today, no other country compete in China in the price and surrendered its market to China.

With the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China has been engaged in developing Infrastructure and connectivity among the BRI states. Today, there are more than 150 countries, regions and international organizations, recognizes BRI and most of them are beneficiaries of BRI fruits. BRI is a model for the future development of economy and trade. As a matter of fact, BRI has changed the whole pattern of geopolitics.

The growing recognition of BRI is witnessed around the world, many more countries have shown interest in joining BRI initiatives. As a matter of fact, China is the only country, having an excessive amount of foreign exchange and expertise in the development of Infrastructures. China is at the top position in the world in the field of Infrastructure development. For example, High-Speed Trains, China has built the longest and largest network inside China, especially its High-Speed Train to Tibet, in the high mountains, at an elevation of 4500 meters above the sea level is not less than a miracle. Motorways, High ways, Tunnels and Bridges all across the country are visible proof of China’s lead in the world. Many developing countries are inspired and impressed with the Chinese achievements and are willing to cooperate with China to replicate their experiences with them. High Rise buildings and architectures in China witness its strength.

Chinese companies are engaged in many countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe to develop infrastructure projects. The money and experience gained by China are useful for many developing nations. In fact, the Chinese model is one of the most successful models of developments in the current prevailing systems of governance in the world. It has produced much more than the Western Democratic model. It is time for the rest of the world to learn the best things from the Chinese-Governance model. I believe any system, which makes people prosper, society stable and safe, access to justice and freedom of expression, is a good model of governance.

BRI is a message of peace, harmony, and development. It promotes people to people contact, promotes mutual understandings, and promotes trade and tourism. Based on mutual understandings, relations among nations can be established more durable and beneficial. At least, it can eliminate misunderstanding to huge extent.

The growing number of Chinese Universities, among the top 500 Universities of the world is a good indicator of Chinese leadership in the Education sector. The increasing trend of R&D in China has made its leader in Telecommunication, IT, Artificial Intelligence, and many emerging technologies in the world. Chinese culture is dominant in the western world, many people are learning the Chinese language around the world, Chinese culture, movies, and dresses are getting more popularity globally. Chinese soft power has recognized as a force behind its success.

With the rise of China as a global power, China is equally contributing to world peace and proactively participating in international affairs positively. China understands its responsibilities and contributing its due share in geopolitics positively. China has not fought any war during the last four decades. Although there were many occasions, where the war was inevitable, China, played “Big Country Diplomacy” and averted t war. In 2017, when there was border stand-off between India and China at Doklam, it was China, who observed restrains and normalized the situation through diplomacy. Current, the situation in Hong Kong, is proof of continuity of China’s policy of openness, tolerance, and democracy (Chinese characteristic of Socialism). No one can imagine, in Socialist country, where the communist party enjoys full authority, allows its citizens to launch such violent and prolonged protests. In a matter of fact, regaining sovereignty of China over Hong Kong and Macao, was a big achievement of China, as without firing a single bullet or killing any one person, just with peaceful negotiation, China gained this victory of regaining sovereignty of its lost parts from Britain and Portugal after one hundred years.

China enjoys supremacy over the South China Sea, but never exercised its military hegemony. Instead, it always offered its doors of negotiations with any one of the stakeholders. In spite of interference from far away nations, China observed restrains and averted any war-like situation. China has the power to gain control over “Diao Yu Dao” disputed islands between China and Japan but prefers peaceful negotiation as a mode of resolving this issue too.

Regarding trade war with the USA, China always observed restrains and showed maximum tolerance, even in case of reciprocity, offered a mild response only. Many aggressive statements from the President Trump are on the record, but, Chinese side did not pass any derogatory remarks. China has the capacity and capability, but deliberately, as per its own policy, is not stretching its muscles.

As a civilizations of several thousand years, having experiences of wide variety, China has emerged as a mature, wise and tolerant nation. China has learned that wars and egos, may not solve the issues permanently, that is why, China has focused on its internal developments and overcame any possibility of war. China’s peaceful rise may be a role model for the rest of world to be followed. Chinese influence is visible around the globe and may increase in future too.

China will celebrate the 71st anniversary of its liberation on the 1st of October 2019. Preparations are underway and a massive program of celebration has been chalked out. Chinese Embassies in all world capitals will also celebrate this occasion. Chinese communities in various countries are also prepared well to enjoy the festivity of “National Day”. Please join me in congratulation the Chinese people and Government in the happiness of National Day.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomate), Academician, Researcher, Peace-activist, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), Islamabad, Pakistan. E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com)

Color Revolution Comes To Hong Kong

September 11, 2019

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson;

The Hong Kong protests represent a major challenge not only to the authorities of Hong Kong itself, but also to Beijing, due to both their protracted nature and a high level of organization resembling the Kiev Maidan of 2013/14. The Hong Kong rioters have gone so far as to produce and disseminate a veritable urban warfare manual describing in detail the division of labor between the close-combat fighters, ranged-weapon fighters, as well as various support roles. Their “Plan A” appears to be, as cynical as this may sound, to provoke bloodshed by inducing local law enforcement to use firearms against the rioters. Thus far this has not come to pass. On the one hand, Hong Kong police has displayed considerable self-restraint, and their rules of engagement seem to favor withdrawal and disengagement when faced with superior numbers of rioters. On the other hand, irrespective of the will of the riot planners, the actual rioters have, again thus far, displayed healthy self-preservation instincts. In the few cases where firearms were brandished by Hong Kong police, usually in cases of police officers finding themselves surrounded by the raging mob, the sight of weapons proved enough to compel the rioters to withdraw. That by itself, however, will not solve the problem of riots because there also seems to be a “Plan B.” Whereas, for example, the Kiev Maidan was largely confined to the Maidan Square itself, the geography of Hong Kong riots is much more extensive and unpredictable. Hong Kong rioters have not shrunk from attacking strategic infrastructure, including the now-infamous occupation of the Hong-Kong International Airport that caused massive air traffic disruptions. Likewise the violent riots in popular malls and tourist destinations all over the Hong Kong area have had the effect of depressing tourism and even prompting fears of a capital flight. While so far there are no indications of a lasting effect on the enclave’s economy, this is due to the still-lingering perception the unrest is a temporary phenomenon. Should it continue with present intensity, or, worse, escalate in terms of numbers of participants and methods used, there will be severe negative effects. For these reasons, China’s authorities cannot hope to win through a war of attrition, or expect that an escalation of violence will somehow cure this problem. There are genuine underlying problems in Hong Kong which have made themselves visible through these demonstrations.

What ails Hong Kong?

As with other “color revolutions”, the Hong Kong protests have tapped into a deep vein of discontent within the population. In this instance, rather than poverty or corruption or even the institutional design of Hong Kong’s government, the banal problem facing the average Hong Kong resident is the extremely high cost of living combined with the highly visible class divisions. Since this “special administrative region” of People’s Republic of China represents a major concentration of financial industries, it is also home to massive wealth which, alas, does not appear to be trickling down. While there is also considerable wealth inequality in China proper which is expanding its list of billionaires at a steady pace, the less well-off Chinese urban-dwellers have the option of migrating from city to city in search of better opportunities. But that option is not one the average inhabitant of Hong-Kong is likely to adopt. Moving to China proper would run counter to the strong local Hong Kong identity, and moreover represent a move to a considerably less wealthy part of the world. Thus while the average Chinese citizen is unlikely to exhibit much sympathy for the plight of the protesters from the special administrative area, Hong Kong residents do not evaluate their well-being in comparison with mainland China. For them, the only relevant reference is Hong Kong itself.

One should also note that the violent component of Hong Kong protests is disproportionately composed of young men in their late teens and twenties suggesting the influence of a generation gap and the breakdown in the intergenerational social contract. While Hong Kong, if it were a sovereign state, would have one of the world’s highest life expectancies, its population is rapidly aging due to the low birth rates of the past several decades. A large age cohort is nearing the retirement age, placing a significant financial burden on the considerably smaller younger generation.

Pining for Tienanmen

Further complicating matters for Beijing is Western powers’, and principally the US, interest in using Hong Kong as an instrument in the gradually escalating confrontation between East and West. The rioters’ awareness of their foreign audience was made plain by the displays of US flags as well as the flags associated with Hong Kong’s British colonial past. From the US perspective, crippling Hong Kong economically would inflict serious damage to China’s economy and also badly dent its political image.  Entirely unsurprisingly, Western governments and media wholeheartedly endorsed the protests while turning a blind eye on the increasing violence perpetrated by Hong Kong’s urban warriors who make no bones their aim is to provoke security forces to spill demonstrators’ blood. It is not difficult to predict what kind of Western reaction would follow: sanctions on Hong Kong officials, financial institutions, perhaps even on top Chinese leadership. The media outcry would be so large that countries thus far unwilling to jump on the anti-Huawei bandwagon would find it difficult to maintain that position. It is evident the Trump administration is raring for a pretext to break as many ties between United States and China as possible, and also to force third countries, most notably the states of the European Union, to choose continued economic integration with United States or with China—but not both.  Furthermore, Hong Kong’s financial institutions have played an important role in furthering China’s economic objectives in the last several decades. In addition to playing a role of a major supplier of financial investments, they also are China’s “invisible hand of the market”. While today China’s economy is far less dependent on Hong Kong, thanks to several “special economic zones” such as Shenzhen located only a short distance from Hong Kong itself, a major crisis in Hong Kong would reverberate throughout China.

Fortunately, there appears to exist a key difference between the Kiev Maidan and the Hong Kong protests, namely the absence of a wealthy oligarch or oligarchs pursuing a reactionary political agenda. None of the Hong Kong business elite have given any indications of supporting the rioters’ more radical agenda, nor is there evidence of their contacts with Western diplomats or intelligence services. It is doubtful such contacts would escape the attention of China’s counter-intelligence services, and China’s political leadership is unlikely to show the sort of timidity Ukraine’s President Yanukovych did in a similar situation, to his own chagrin.

One Country, One System?

The current “one country, two systems” paradigm unfortunately lies at the core of Hong Kong’s current troubles. The establishment of an economic enclave, with little labor mobility across this veritable intra-Chinese border, turned Hong Kong into a political pressure cooker. Its political autonomy in turn meant policies that favored the economic elite, causing the growth of wealth inequality which contributes to the high level of the local government’s unpopularity, to the point it has become a liability for Beijing itself. In the short term, Beijing will likely be forced to funnel considerable financial resources into Hong Kong to relieve the social pressures. In the longer term, however, a lasting solution will require not only a more close oversight of Hong Kong’s social policies, but also promotion of two-way migration between China proper and Hong Kong.

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