January 09, 2017
Russian navy – Syrian campaign
Back in late December, the Russian MOD announced a drawdown (1) of the Russian military in Syria, including the naval presence. The “Admiral Kuznetsov” group, including the cruiser “Peter the Great”, have now left the Syrian shores, following a high level visit from General Ayyoub Chief of General Staff of the Syrian Army, (2) where medals were awarded to Russian personnel for their participation in the campaign.
- Admiral Kuznetsov and cruiser Peter the Great visit:
Gen. Ayoub visits Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and cruiser Peter the Great
The major downside of this was the negative publicity that it drew from the MSM and $88 million lost on two ditched planes. it certainly raised increased of the crucial role and of the dependability of the Arresting gear system. The plus side will never be really be known publicly, apart from the invaluable experience gained and in depth combat testing of systems. The combat experience will leave its traces for some time to come. Despite the ridicule and derision of Western experts, the perceived unprofessionalism & accidents are not correlated to the overall capability of the crew to do their jobs.
To compare the technology used, the Kuznetsov uses conventional analog/ mechanical recovery systems, but the US Navy uses a digitally controlled electronic version, called ARC (Advanced Recovery Control) system.
Remarkably, the “Admiral Kuznetsov” is the last aircraft carrier to leave the Eastern Med, thus leaving the region without any aircraft carrier presence. The first to leave for home was the “Charles de Gaulle”, in time for Christmas, followed by the arrival and prompt departure of the USS “Dwight Eisenhower”. The “Charles de Gaulle” has gone into a 18 -month refit in Toulon and won’t be operational until June 2018. (In French)
Meanwhile, the US carrier ‘Ike’, called into Marseille, where the antics of 3 French municipal police officers,( taking a leaf out of the Louis de Funes comedy “the gendarmes of St Tropez), hit the headlines, for sailing off onboard. (In French)
It was likely that the Russian navy was already scaling down its Syrian operations, when a key participant, “Admiral Grigorovich“, part of the Russian carrier group left and returned to its Black Sea homeport on the 19th Dec. Subsequently it took part in the recovery operations of the fatal Tu-154 crash off Sochi.
The Russian navy elsewhere
Thousands miles away, the Russian Pacific Fleet destroyer “Admiral Tributs” and the tanker “Boris Butomato”, arrived in Manila on a goodwill visit. The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, paid a visit, along with high ranking Philippines military delegation. The words his wrote in the visitors book included: – “Come back more often to Philippines”.
This is only the 3rd time that the Russian navy has visited the Philippines, a longstanding US ally. This comes at a time when relations with Washington have become strained since President Rodrigo Duterte took office. Although only a goodwill visit, it didn’t preclude high level talk of potential future joint sea & land exercises, as reported by RT:
There is talk that likely future exercises could set the scene for future regional collaboration focused on anti-piracy & counter-terrorism, between Russia, China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, thereby potentially reducing the current geopolitical tensions in the area. On a side note, the “Admiral Tributs” participated in a joint naval exercise with the Chinese Navy in September 2016. It is significant that this week long annual exercise took place in the South China Sea.
‘Dock here anytime’: Duterte visits Russian destroyer, wants Moscow to be ally & protector
South China Sea and Western Pacific
This leads me to the next topic, as the Chinese aircraft carrier, the “Liaoning”, had been recently conducting at sea drills involving its J-15 fighter jets and helicopters. The “Liaoning” and its escorts, sailed out into the Pacific for the first time in late December, before heading into the South China Sea, past Taiwan and Japan, who closely watched its manoeuvres.
All of this activity by the Russian and Chinese navies causes jitters in the region as well as in Washington. So it’s not surprising that on the 5th January, the USS “Carl Vinson” group set sail for the Western Pacific region, the usual show of US exceptionalism, undoubtedly. Significantly, this is the only US carrier on deployment away from the US at the moment.
To finish off, I’ll leave you with this splendid short video on the “Admiral Kuznetsov”:
Enjoy and thank you!
January 06, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – “ANTIMEDIA” – Notable American foreign policy critic and linguist, Professor Noam Chomsky, has stated numerous times that the United States’ power has steadily been declining since the end of World War II. As Chomsky notes, in 1945, the United States had “literally half the world’s wealth, incredible security, controlled the entire Western Hemisphere, both oceans, [and[ the opposite sides of both oceans.”
In that context – and in the context of the United States waging war in multiple countries across the globe with the most advanced military technology in the world – it is hard to understand how this has happened. But Chomsky is not wrong.
Beginning with what was referred to as the “loss of China” in the 1940s, the United States slowly began to lose areas of Southeast Asia, which led America to brutally launch the Indochina wars. As Chomsky notes, by destroying South Vietnam in the heavily criticized Vietnam War — a move designed to prevent Vietnam from achieving independence and perhaps becoming a Communist state — the U.S. sent a message to the rest of Indochina that if a nation attempted to break free of U.S-European control, it would likely be bombed into oblivion. The strategy worked at the time; as Chomsky notes, by 1965, every country in the region had dictatorships that were prepared to rule in a way suitable to America’s foreign policy interests. As recent developments in the Asian region have shown, however, the success of this bully-style strategy has been short-lived indeed.
Regardless, the United States has also lost South America. According to Chomsky, the “loss” of South America is easily observable:
“One sign is that the United States has been driven out of every single military base in South America. We’re trying to restore a few, but right now there are none.”
Over the course of the last few decades, the United States has begun to lose the Middle East, as well. In Iraq, the United States helped support Saddam Hussein’s rise to power and went so far to support his war of aggression against neighboring Iran. Then, the U.S. turned its back on Hussein, attacking Iraq in 1991 under the presidency of George H.W. Bush. As a result, the U.S. learned at least one valuable lesson from bombing Iraq in the early nineties: that Russia was not going to intervene in America’s ambitions in the Middle East.
The Middle East was, therefore, ripe for the taking, and this continued to be the case up until the Syrian war. What people fail to understand, however, is that the United States is not bombing the Middle East into submission because of its immense power, but because it is losing its power, influence, and control throughout the region.
As should be quite clear to anyone following the conflict, Russia has replaced the United States as judge, jury, and executioner (and supposed peace broker) in the five-year Syrian war, successfully retaking the major city of Aleppo from NATO-backed rebel groups.
Russia’s advances in the Middle East have spilled over to the rest of the world. In October of last year, the U.S. officially “lost” its stranglehold over the Philippines. Though it was previously seen as an integral ally U.S. ally vital to countering China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines openly and proudly boasted about their new ties with Russia and China.
As it transpires, the Philippines has put its money where its mouth is. Russian warships arrived in Filipino territory this Tuesday. According to the Philippines’ Navy, the visit is merely a “goodwill visit,” but the future of joint exercises is to be discussed. A report from Russia’s state-run Sputnik News seemed to contradict this, stating the ships were there specifically to conduct joint exercises with Philippine forces for the purposes of fighting maritime piracy and terrorism.
“You can choose to cooperate with United States of America or to cooperate with Russia,” Russian Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov said, speaking at the Manila Harbor.“But from our side we can help you in every way that you need. We are sure that in the future we’ll have exercises with you. Maybe just maneuvering or maybe use of combat systems and so on.”
Mikhailov also seemed to indicate that other players in the region, such as China and Malaysia, would coordinate with the potential training exercises within the next few years. Russia has also offered the Philippines sophisticated weaponry, including aircraft and submarines.
The United States has only one move left: surround Russia’s borders with NATO troops and missiles, which they are doing quite rapidly. Sooner or later, however, the United States will have to admit its very real decline in world standing and will have no choice but to learn to coordinate global affairs with the likes of Russia and China.
Let’s face it — what is the alternative?
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Information Clearing House editorial policy.
Duterte visits Russian destroyer, wants Moscow to be ally & protector: “We welcome our Russian friends. Anytime you want to dock here for anything, for play, for replenish supplies or maybe our ally to protect us,” Duterte said as cited by Reuters
December 24, 2016 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Predictions aside, there are obvious trends, plots, and paradigm shifts that will continue onward into the new year, that geopolitical observers should be distinctively aware of.
1. The War in Syria is Not Over
The United States conspired as early as 2007 to overthrow the government of Syria through the use of armed militants – particularly those aligned to Al Qaeda and who enjoy state sponsorship from America’s Persian Gulf allies.
The goal of eliminating the Syrian government was not an isolated objective, but rather fits into a much larger geopolitical agenda – including the overthrow of the Iranian government and the movement of militant proxies back into southern Russia and even into western China.
Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, and the duration of the conflict itself complicates, even sets back US efforts toward these ends, but Washington and Wall Street’s desire for global hegemony will simply see these plans attempt to adapt and overcome current setbacks.
According to the Brookings Institution’s 2009 policy paper, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran,” one option proposed includes the US arranging with Israel for Israeli forces to conduct what would appear to be a unilateral attack on Iran.
The paper states:
…the most salient advantage this option has over that of an American air campaign is the possibility that Israel alone would be blamed for the attack. If this proves true, then the United States might not have to deal with Iranian retaliation or the diplomatic backlash that would accompany an American military operation against Iran. It could allow Washington to have its cake (delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon) and eat it, too (avoid undermining many other U.S. regional diplomatic initiatives).
For this to be convincing, the US and Israel would need to feign a diplomatic fallout, one the current administration of US President Barack Obama has been performing and just recently ratcheted up at the UN Security Council. With President-elect Donald Trump – undeniably and very publicly pro-Israel – coming into office in January, the window is closing for this option to be convincing.
One aspect of a covertly US-backed Israeli attack on Iran includes an opportunity for the US to subsequently intervene militarily if Iran were to retaliate. It is essentially a trap baited for Tehran. The trap could be sprung before President Obama leaves office, and US military intervention executed as President-elect Trump enters office.
Of course, Iran now possesses Russian S-300 anti-air defense systems, has a more formidable army today than when Brookings and other US policymakers first concocted war plans against Tehran, and the dynamics in the region have changed considerably as well. However, President-elect Trump has surrounded himself both during his campaign for president and amongst his incoming cabinet, with men who have promoted war with Iran for years.
This is perhaps one of the first, and greatest dangers that will need to be navigated around in 2017.
2. Economic Paradigm Shift, Driven by Technology
It could be easily said that alternative energy and electric cars are already creating shifting trends in global economics and the geopolitical power derived from it. The cost and proliferation of solar power continues to favor its use against traditional forms of power production, and electric cars are finally being taken seriously by traditional manufacturers in the face of stiff competition from newcomers like Tesla Motors.
Nations that depend on petroleum and other fossil fuels for a substantial fraction of their GDP will need to begin planning how they will navigate what will inevitably be a total transition away from these sources of energy.
Automation is also a growing economic trend. Jobs are being taken from workers from North America to Asia by increasingly capable robots and forms of computer-controlled manufacturing. However, another component of this shifting trend is a drastic drop in prices and an exponential climb in capabilities of these automated systems. This makes it possible for smaller companies to use automation to manufacture locally, disrupting industrial monopolies and distribute the wealth obtained through automation through local entrepreneurship.
An example of this is 3D printing – with some machines with price tags comparable to a desktop computer. People working as freelance designers can now also include – and profit from – physical prototyping services once only possible from larger firms. As automated systems drop in cost and improve in capabilities, local companies will be able to do more with less, decentralizing manufacturing from the current, globalized model that now defines it.
How nations manage this transition – from China to Europe to the United States – will determine how much social upheaval is created as automation continues to take over. Those nations with highly unskilled workforces and with weak, inflexible education systems will suffer most, while those who retrain their populations to be designers and local entrepreneurs will survive, even thrive.
3. The Rise of Artificial Intelligence
Science fiction horror stories aside, artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of machine learning, is already taking over a large number of highly specialized tasks – and doing them far better than traditional computers or human workers could ever do.
These tasks include everything from energy efficiency studies and automation, providing advice to doctors, and gaming financial markets, to providing protocols for advanced genetic engineering and image recognition and automatic tagging on social media websites like Facebook. Other possible applications include teaching AI systems to hack faster and more adaptively than any human could. AI systems are also being taught to write news articles and even manage social media accounts like Twitter.
While AI will not manifest itself as sentient machines seeking to usurp humanity yet, these highly focused uses of AI give their human operators uncontested advantages in whatever realm they are applied in. An AI arms race of sorts has erupted, and in 2017, AI will increasingly be used to provide world leaders in AI research and development economic and geopolitical edges over their competitors and enemies.
A balance of power must be struck between nations and within nations to prevent the very sort of technological disparity that left the United States in 1945 as the only nation wielding atomic weapons. With that uncontested advantage, the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, killing hundreds of thousands of people. It would use its advantage in the field of nuclear weapons as leverage geopolitically for years – threatening to use the weapons everywhere from the Korean Peninsula to Vietnam.
The sort of damage caused by such disparity in the field of AI cannot be predicted – but what can be predicted with absolute certainty, is that any advantage the world affords aspiring hegemons like the US, will be used and abused eagerly and without hesitation.
4. China and Asia Still Face American Designs for Regional Primacy
The United States’ “pivot to Asia” has turned into a second front in its global quest for hegemony. In order to encircle and contain the rise of China, the US has committed to series of economic, politically subversive, and military maneuvers throughout Southeast and East Asia.
In 2017, the US will continue cultivating proxy opposition fronts across the region in hopes of challenging or toppling increasingly Beijing-friendly governments everywhere from Malaysia and Thailand, to the Philippines and Indonesia. In Myanmar, the US and its Saudi allies appear to be inflaming the Rohingya crisis by arming militants to fight the very government the US spent decades putting into power.
The result will be an attempt to establish a US military presence in Myanmar under the guise of “combating terrorism,” just as the US did in the Philippines shortly after 2001. In reality, the US military presence in Myanmar will be next to impossible to remove – just as it has become in the Philippines. And while “fighting terrorism” will be the pretext, adding another point of pressure in America’s encirclement of China will be the main objective.
The prospect of direct military confrontation between the US and China is difficult to predict, but US policymakers have admitted that as time passes, the possibility of the US winning any confrontation against China in Asia Pacific diminishes. The temptation to provoke a conflict sooner than later will exist, and regardless, the decades-long efforts by Washington to maintain primacy in Asia at Asia’s expense will continue in earnest under President-elect Trump when he takes office.
The agendas of powerful special interests and the march of technological progress and its impact on human civilization are not divided into neat chapters as they appear in retrospect upon the pages of our history books. They transcend “New Years,” presidential administrations, popular culture, and even “eras” in our collective history. Understanding the actual motives, money, and machinations that drive those with wealth and power help us see what lies before us and gives us a chance to prepare ourselves and intervene rather than sit by as helpless spectators. This year, perhaps more people than ever will realize that our best interests, and even the fate of our future depends on us doing the former, and abandoning forever the latter.
Filed under: Al Qaeda, AngloZionist Empire, Arab Zionists, China, East Asia, Iran, ISIL, Obama, Philippines, Russia, South-East Asia, Tony Cartalucci, UNSC, US Foreign Policy, USA, War on Syria | Comments Off on 2017: A Year of Transition and Trouble
Reuters in its article, “British fighters to overfly South China Sea; carriers in Pacific after 2020: envoy,” would report:
The envoy, Kim Darroch, told a Washington think tank that British Typhoon aircraft currently deployed on a visit to Japan would fly across disputed parts of the South China Sea to assert international overflight rights, but gave no time frame.
Speaking at an event also attended by Japan’s ambassador to Washington, Darroch said that most future British defense capacity would have to be directed toward the Middle East, but added:
“Certainly, as we bring our two new aircraft carriers onstream in 2020, and as we renew and update our defense forces, they will be seen in the Pacific.
The time frame of 2020 assumes that the United States will still have any significant presence in the region, somehow reversing the otherwise irreversible retreat it has been undergoing throughout Asia-Pacific over the past decade.
The US Has Run Out of Friends in Asia, So Brings Along Europe
Client regimes the United States and its European allies have cultivated throughout the region have either turned on them or have been effectively removed from power, or even the prospect of ever holding power again.
The Philippines, quite literally a territory of the United States until the end of World War 2, and a nation that vacillated between independence from and interdependence with Washington for decades since, has recently become more vocal about perceived inequities in Manila-Washington relations. This is primarily because of the much more significant – and growing – ties Manila has with Beijing.
US-backed opposition forces in Malaysia have repeatedly tried and failed to oust the ruling government in street protests led by Anwar Ibrahim’s political alliance under the brand name “Bersih.”
In neighboring Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra and his political opposition party were ousted from power in 2014 and have since been incrementally picked apart through legislative and judicial proceedings. Even as Shinawatra clung to power, Thailand’s establishment began shifting away from Cold War ties with the US and toward closer ties with not only Beijing, but also Moscow as well as its regional neighbors.
In Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party are increasingly hemorrhaging political legitimacy as her followers carry out what could be described as genocide against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. The United States has cynically elected to draw an increasing amount of attention to this in a bid to prevent Suu Kyi from double dealing with both Washington and Beijing.
Vietnam has recently showed reluctance to sign the US-initiated and dominated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, being one of the few nations in Southeast Asia to have agreed to it in the first place, while Cambodia’s previously pro-Western government headed by Hun Sen has become increasingly vocal about US meddling both in Cambodia, and across the region, openly taking Beijing’s side in the South China Sea dispute.
Even Indonesia finds itself increasingly repelled by America’s overbearing stick and its increasingly unappealing carrot.
Collectively, the region is attempting to rebalance itself to accommodate and cooperate with the rise of China, and create checks and balances in the void America’s mismanaged “Pacific Century” has left.
The Specter of Empire
It is perhaps ironic that the United States finds itself increasingly isolated in Asia amid its own attempts to isolate Beijing. It is also ironic that it is ending its “Pacific Century” the same way it began, side-by-side European nations attempting to impose Western interests on a region of the planet quite literally oceans away.
However, unlike during the age of empires, the US and any European nation that joins it in Asia-Pacific today, will find a region of the planet on parity with Western technology, wealth and power. Militarily speaking, the number of facilities the US and its European allies can exploit in the region are shrinking both in number and in relative significance to growing Asian military power – including China’s expanding Pacific forces.
However, in addition to military power, the US still maintains vast political and media networks throughout Asia. The US State Department’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) aims to indoctrinate thousands of young Asian students and professionals, provide them with both fronts to operate as well as significant financial and political support to continue their work, all in an effort to transform the region’s values and principles to align with Washington’s interests.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), its subsidiaries, and “aid” organizations like USAID all continue to build opposition fronts aimed at pressuring and altogether overthrowing political establishments across Asia. Together, this signifies a US that may be in retreat, but a US that still poses a potent threat to peace, stability, and prosperity across the region.
The inclusion of British forces in Asia-Pacific to augment US provocations presents a threat to Asian stability. With Asia increasingly trading among themselves and with the rest of Eurasia, instability brought by US-European meddling is perhaps the only threat that could actually undermine “freedom of navigation,” trade, and economic growth – the very things the US claims its presence in Asia-Pacific is meant to protect.
Filed under: AngloZionist Empire, Asia, Cambodia, China, Europe, Indonesia, Malaysia, NED, Philippines, South-East Asia, Tony Cartalucci, UK, US Foreign Policy, USA, Vietnam | Comments Off on South China Sea: Failing to Find Asian Allies, US Invites UK to Meddle
“If Senator Cardin does not want to sell rifles to us, Putin said you can… buy one and take one [free], almost like that. He said if you cannot buy arms anywhere, come to me,” said Duterte.
“If he (Cardin) does not want us to be allies, then we’ll go to Russia and China. You don’t deprive your ally of arms, because your ally has to protect its public and to keep the order, internally and… [against] foreign aggression,” he added.
by Pepe Escobar
The new global nativism? Perhaps a new push towards democratic socialism? Too early to tell.
Once again. A body blow, not a death blow. Like the cast of The Walking Dead, the zombie neoliberal elite simply won’t quit. For the Powers That Be/Deep State/Wall Street axis, there’s only one game in town, and that is to win, at all costs. Failing that, to knock over the whole chessboard, as in hot war.
Hot war has been postponed, at least for a few years. Meanwhile, it’s enlightening to observe the collective American and Eurocrat despair about a world they can’t understand anymore; Brexit, Trumpquake, the rise of the far-right across the West. For the insulated financial/tech/think-tank elites of liquid modernity, criticism of neoliberalism – with is inbuilt deregulation, privatization a-go-go, austerity obsession – is anathema.
The angry, white, blue collar Western uprising is the ultimate backlash against neoliberalism – an instinctive reaction against the rigged economic casino capitalism game and its subservient political arms. That’s at the core of Trump winning non-college white voters in Wisconsin by 28 points. Blaming “whitelash”, racism, WikiLeaks or Russia is no more than childish diversionary tactics.
The key question is whether the backlash may engender a new Western drive towards democratic socialism – read David Harvey’s books for the road map – or just nostalgic nationalism raging against the neoliberal Washington/EU/NAFTA/ globalization machine.
Read my lips: much lower taxes
Trump is proposing to turn the tables on the neoliberal game. Throughout his campaign he criminalized free trade – the essence of globalization – for decimating the American working class, even as US businesses blamed free trade for forcing them to squeeze workers’ wages.
So let’s see how Trump will be able to impose his priorities. In parallel to addressing the appalling structural decline in US manufacturing, he wants to pull a China: a massive $1 trillion infrastructure project over 10 years via public-private partnerships and private investments encouraged by lower taxes. That’s supposed to create a wealth of jobs.
Lower corporate taxes in this case translate into a whopping $3 trillion over 10 years, something like 1.6 percent of GDP. That would be the way to incite huge multinationals to repatriate the hundreds of billions of dollars in profits stashed abroad. This fiscal shock would create 25 million jobs in the US over the next 10 years, and propel a 4 percent growth rate.
And then there’s the protectionist drive that will renegotiate NAFTA and kill TPP for good. Not to mention raising import tariffs over manufactured products (many by de-localized US multinationals) imported from China and Mexico.
It’s open to fierce debate how Trumponomics will manage to square the circle; with more economic growth fueled by less taxes, imports will rise to satisfy internal demand. But if these products are subjected to stiffer tariffs, they will become more expensive, and inflation will inevitably rise.
Anyway, the bottom line of protectionist Trumponomics would be a huge blow against global trade. Deglobalization, anyone?
Asia braces for impact
Predictably, the heart of deglobalization will be the Trump-China relationship. Throughout the campaign, Trump blamed China for currency manipulation and proposed a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports.
In Hong Kong banking circles, no one believes in it. Key argument: the already strapped basket of “deplorables” simply won’t have the means to pay more for these Chinese imports.
Another thing entirely would be for Trumponomics to find mechanisms to hurt US companies that de-localize in Asia. That would translate into serious problems for outsourcing Meccas such as India and the Philippines. Outsourcing in the Philippines, for instance, serves mostly US companies and attracts revenue as crucial to the nation as total Filipino worker remittances from abroad, something like 9 percent of GDP.
It’s quite enlightening in this context to consider what Narayana Murthy – founder of Indian IT major Infosys – told the CNBC TV-18 network; “What is in the best interest of America is for its corporations to succeed, for its corporations to create more jobs… to export more… so I’m very positive.”
our months ago Nomura Holdings Inc. issued a report titled “Trumping Asia”. No less than 77 percent of respondents expected Trump to brand China a currency manipulator; and 75 percent predicted he will impose tariffs on exports from China, South Korea and Japan.
So no wonder all across Asia the next months will be nerve-wracking. Asia – and not only China – is the factory of the world. Any Trump trade restriction over China will reverberate all across Asia.
Brace for impact: deglobalized Trumponomics vs. Neoliberalism will be a battle for the ages.
Filed under: BREXIT, China, Clinton, Globalization, Pepe Escobar, Philippines, Trump, US Foreign Policy, USA, Wikileaks | Tagged: Wall Street | Comments Off on Battle for the ages: Protectionist Trumponomics vs. Neoliberalism