More War by Other Means: Sanctioning the Wife of Syria’s President Makes No Sense to Anyone

By Philip Giraldi, Ph.D.
Source: Strategic Culture

January 7, 2021

More sanctions, by all means. More grief and suffering and more people around the world wondering what exactly the United States is doing.

I am a recipient of regular, usual weekly, emails from the Department of the Treasury providing an “Update to OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) and Blocked Persons.” OFAC is the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is tasked with both identifying and managing the financial punishments meted out to those individuals and groups that have been sanctioned by the United States government. A recent update, on November 10th, included “Non-Proliferation Designations; Iran-related Designations.” There were ten items on the list, names of Chinese and Iranian individuals and companies. Those who are “Specially Designated” on the list are subject to having their assets blocked if located in the United States and are also not allowed to engage in any financial transactions that go through U.S. banking channels. As many international banks respect U.S. Treasury “designations” lest they themselves be subjected to secondary sanctions that often means in effect that the individual or group cannot move money in a large part of the global financial marketplace.

The complete SDN list is hundreds of pages long. The Treasury Department defines and justifies OFAC’s mission “As part of its enforcement efforts, OFAC publishes a list of individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries. It also lists individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific. Collectively, such individuals and companies are called ‘Specially Designated Nationals’ or ‘SDNs.’ Their assets are blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.”

In reality, of course, OFAC’s sanctions are highly political. They are clearly a form of economic warfare, particularly when entire sectors of a nation’s economy are blocked or a part of a government itself is listed as has been the case with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Force. Wave after wave of “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran have made it difficult for the country to sell its only major marketable resource, oil, and it has been locked out of most normal financial networks, making it difficult or even impossible to buy food and medicines.

In many cases sanctions have no practical effect but are rather intended to send a message. There have been new sanctions directed against Moscow and Russian government officials have been sanctioned due to their alleged involvement in activities that the United States does not approve of. The sanctions are imposed even though those “specially designated” have no assets in the U.S. and do not engage in any international financial transactions that could be blocked or disrupted. In those cases, the federal government is sending a message to whomever has been sanctioned to warn them that they are being watched and their behavior has become a matter of record. It is basically a form of intimidation.

Whether sanctions actually work is debatable. The example of Cuba, which was sanctioned by the U.S. for nearly sixty years, would suggest not. Some would argue that on the contrary countries with totalitarian regimes would actually improve their behavior if their citizens could travel freely and welcome visitors, providing evidence that foreigners do not pose a threat justifying a police state.

Within the United States government, it is largely accepted that the most powerful advocate of the sanctions regime is Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who has been the driving force behind recent sanctions directed against both China and Iran. If that is so he might well be challenged on one of the most bizarre and basically pointless applications of sanctions in recent years, targeting Asma the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as her family that lives in London and are British citizens. Per Pompeo’s statement on the new sanctions “The Department of State today is imposing sanctions on Asma al-Assad, the wife of Bashar al-Assad, for impeding efforts to promote a political resolution of the Syrian conflict pursuant to Section 2(a)(i)(D) of Executive Order 13894… Asma al-Assad has spearheaded efforts on behalf of the regime to consolidate economic and political power, including by using her so-called charities and civil society organizations.”

But the real kicker is Pompeo’s condemnation of Asma, of Syrian origin but English born and raised, is how he involves her family. Her father-in-law Fawaz is a renowned cardiologist at Cromwell Hospital in South Kensington who was educated in England and has lived there for decades. “In addition, we are sanctioning several members of Asma al-Assad’s immediate family, including Fawaz Akhras, Sahar Otri Akhras, Firas al Akhras, and Eyad Akhras as per Section 2(a)(ii) of EO 13894. The Assad and Akhras families have accumulated their ill-gotten riches at the expense of the Syrian people through their control over an extensive, illicit network with links in Europe, the Gulf, and elsewhere.”

Inevitably, no evidence is provided to support any of the allegations about Asma al-Assad and her English family. Asma’s charities are for real in her war-torn country and she is highly respected and admired by those who know her and are not influenced by U.S. and Israeli propaganda.

In reality, the United States has been trying hard to overthrow the Syrian government since 2004 when the Syria Accountability Act was passed. Much of the heat in Congress behind the passage of the act was generated by the Israel Lobby, which wanted to weaken the regime and reduce its ability to represent a viable military force possibly capable of regaining the occupied Golan Heights. Be that as it may, the United States has been hostile to the country’s government and has frequently called for regime change. To bring that about, the U.S. supported al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups operating against Damascus and American soldiers continue to occupy Syrian oil fields in the southeast portion of the country. The Syrians have also been subjected to waves of sanctions that have done grave damage to their economy. American and Israeli concerns have sometimes been linked to the presence of Damascus’ allies Hezbollah and Iran, both of whom have military units based inside Syria, but the simple fact is that neither Iranians nor Lebanese in any way threaten the vastly superior American and Israeli forces present in the region.

One has to ask why, given the realpolitik playing out in the Middle East, Washington and Pompeo feel compelled to go after Asma al-Assad and her family, apparently to include absurdly blaming relatives living for many years outside of Syria for fueling the war. More sanctions, by all means. More grief and suffering and more people around the world wondering what exactly the United States is doing.

Is America’s Future a Civil War?

Will it become a world war?

Paul Craig Roberts - Official Homepage

Paul Craig Roberts

As a person who grew up in the glorious aftermath of World War II, it never occurred to me that in my later years I would be pondering whether the United States would end in civil war or a police state.  In the aftermath of the stolen presidential election, it seems a 50-50 toss up.

There is abundant evidence of a police state.  One feature of a police state is controlled explanations and the suppression of dissent.  We certainly have that in abundance. 

Experts are not permitted forums in which to challenge the official position on Covid.  

Teachers are suspended for giving offense by using gender pronouns.

Recording stars are dropped by their recording studios for attending the Trump rally.  Parents ratted on by their own children are fired from their jobs for attending the Trump rally. https://www.rt.com/usa/512048-capitol-riot-employees-fired/  Antifa is free to riot, loot, intimidate and hassle, but Trump supporters are insurrectionists. 

White people are racists who use hateful words and concepts, but those who demonize whites are righting wrongs.

Suppression of dissent and controlling behavior are police state characteristics.  It might be less clear to some why dictating permissible use of language is police state control. Think about it this way.  If your use of pronouns can be controlled, so can your use of all other words.  As concepts involve words, they also can be controlled.  In this way inconvenient thoughts and expressions along with accurate descriptions find their way into the Memory Hole.

With the First Amendment gone, or restricted to the demonization of targeted persons, such as “the Trump Deplorables,” “white supremacists,” “Southern racists,” the Second Amendment can’t have much life left.  As guns are associated with red states, that is, with Trump supporters, outlawing guns is a way to criminalize the red half of the American population that the Establishment considers “deplorable.”  Those who stand on their Constitutional right will be imprisoned and become cheap prison labor for America’s global corporations.

Could all this lead to a civil war or are Americans too beat down to effectively resist?  That we won’t know until it is put to the test.

Are there clear frontlines?  Identity Politics has divided the people across the entire country.  The red states are only majority red.  It is tempting to see the frontiers as the red center against the blue Northeast and West coasts, but that is misleading. Georgia is a red state with a red governor and legislature, but there were enough Democrats in power locally to steal the presidential and US senate elections.  

Another problem for reds is that large cities—the distribution centers—such as Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles—are in blue hands as are ports and international airports.  Effectively, this cuts reds off from outside resources.

What would the US military do?  Clearly, the Joint Chiefs and the military/security complex are establishment and not anti-establishment Trumpers.  With the soldiers themselves now a racial and gender mix, the soldiers would be as divided as the country.  Those not with the Establishment would lack upper level support.

Where are the youth and younger adults?  They are in both camps depending on their education. Many of the whites who went to university have been brainwashed against themselves, and regard white Americans as “systemic racists” or “white supremacists” and feel guilt. Those who did not go to university for the most part have experienced to their disadvantage the favoritism given to people of color and have resentment.

What about weapons?  How can the reds lose when guns are a household item and blues would never dirty themselves by owning one?  The answer is that unlike the War of Northern Aggression in the 1860s, today the weapons in the hands of the military are devastating compared to those in the hands of the public. Unlike in the past, it is impossible for a citizens’ militia to stand against the weapons and body armor that the military has.  So, unless the military splits, the reds are outgunned.  Never believe that the Establishment would not release chemical and biological agents against red forces.  Or for that matter nuclear weapons.

What about communications?  We know for an absolute fact that the tech monopolies are aligned with the Establishment against the people.  So much so that President Trump, in the process of being set-up for prosecution, has been cut off from communicating with his supporters both in social media and email.  

The American Establishment is doing to President Trump exactly what it did to Ukrainian President Yanukovych in Washington’s orchestrated “Maidan Revolution,” called “the Revolution of Dignity” by the liars at Wikipedia, and precisely what it did to Chavez, Maduro, and would like to do to Putin.

Suppose an American civil war occurs.  How is it likely to play out? Before investigating this, first consider how the Establishment could prevent it by bringing the red states to its defense.  The Trump supporters are the only patriots in the American population. They tend to wear the flag on their sleeve. In contrast, blue state denizens define partiotism as acknowledging America’s evils and taking retribution on those white racists/imperialists who committed the evils. In blue states, riots against the “racist system” result in defunding the police.  If the Antifa and Black Lives Matter militias were sicced on the Biden regine, red state patriots might see “their country” under attack. It is possible that the “Proud Boys” would come to Biden’s defense, not because they believe in Biden but because America is under attack and he is “our president.” Alternatively, an Antifa attack on the Biden regime could be portrayed as an unpatriotic attack on America and be used to discourage red state opposition to the police state, just as “Insurrection” has resulted in many Trump supporters declaring their opposition to violence.  In other words, it is entirely possible that the patriotism of the “Trump Deplorables” would split the red state opposition and lead to defeat.

Assuming that the Establishment is too arrogant and sure of itself or too stupid to think of this ploy, how would a civil war play out?  The Establishment would do everything possible to discredit the case of the “rebels.”  The true rebels, of couse, would be the Establishment which has overthrown the Constitutional order, but no media would make that point.  Controlling the media, the Establishment, knowing of the patriotism of its opponents, would portray the “rebels” as foreign agents seeking to overthrow American Democracy. 

The “foreign threat” always captures the patriot’s attention.  We see it right now with Trump supporters falling for the disinformation that Switzerland and Italy are behind the stolen election. Previously, it was Dominion servers in Germany and Serbia that did the deed.

On whose head will the Establishment place the blame for “the War Against America”? There are three candidates: Iran, China, and Russia.  Which will the Establishment choose?  

To give Iran credit conveys too much power to a relatively small country over America.  To blame Iran for our civil war would be belittling. 

To blame China won’t work, because Trump blamed China for economically undermining America and Trump supporters are generally anti-China. So accusing the red opposition with being China agents would not work. 

The blame will be placed on Russia.  

This is the easy one.  Russia has been the black hat ever since Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in 1946.  Americans are accustomed to this enemy.  The Cold War reigned from the end of World War II until the Soviet Collapse in 1991.  Many, including retired American generals, maintain that the Soviet collapse was faked to put us off guard for conquest.

When the Establishment decided to frame President Trump, the Establishment chose Russia as Trump’s co-conspirator against American Democracy.  Russiagate, orchestrated by the CIA and FBI, ensured for three years that Trump was accused in the Western media of being in cahoots with Russia. Despite the lack of any evidence, a large percentage of the American and world population was convinced that Trump was put into office by Putin somehow manipulating the vote.

The brainwashing was so successful that three years of Trump sanctions against Russia could not shake the Western peoples back into factual reality.

With Russia as the historic and orchestrated enemy, whatever happens in the United States that can be blamed elsewhere will be blamed on Russia.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, and former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes have already associated “Trump’s insurrection” with Russia. https://www.rt.com/russia/512071-capitol-violence-consequences-fear/ 

Suppose that an American civil war becomes intense.  Suppose that the Establishment’s propaganda against Russia becomes the reigning belief as propaganda almost always becomes, how can the Establishment not finish the insurrection threat by attacking the country responsible?  The Establishment would be trapped in its own propaganda. Emotions would run away.  Russia would hear threats that would have to be taken seriously.

You can bet that Biden’s neocon government will be egging this on.  American exceptionalism. American hegemony.  Russia’s fifth column, the Atlanticist Integrationists, who wish absorption into the degenerate and failing Western World, will echo the charges against Russia. This would make the situation a serious international incident with Russia as the threatened villian.  

What would the Kremlin do?  Would Russia’s leaders accept yet another humiliation and false accusation? Or will the anger of the Russian people forever accused and never stood up for by their own government force the Kremlin into awareness that Russia could be attacked at any moment.

Even if the Kremlin is reluctant to acknowledge the threat of war, what if another of the numerous false warnings of incoming ICBMs is received.  Unlike the past, is it believed this time?

The stolen election in America, the emerging American Police State, more vicious and better armed than any in the past, could result in American chaos that could be a dire threat to the Russian Federation.

What Trump and his supporters, and perhaps the Kremlin, do not understand is that real evidence no longer counts. The Establishment makes up the evidence that it needs for its agendas.  Consider how easy it was for the Capitol Police to remove barriers and allow some Antifa mixed in with Trump supporters into the Capitol.  This was all that was required to create a “Trump led insurrection” that terminated the presentation of evidence of electoral fraud and turned the massive rally of support for Trump into a liability. Trump now leaves the presidency as an “insurrectionist” and is set up for continued harassment and prosecution.  

As I prevousy wrote, the stolen election and its acceptance abroad signifies the failure of Western democracy. The collapse of the Western world and its values will affect the entire world. 

عام التحوّل العظيم…

باريس – نضال حمادة

يواجه الغرب عاصفة كاملة. لقد فشل في مواجهة الوباء وفشل نظاميّ للديمقراطية الليبرالية. وأيضاً فشل اقتصاداتها الغارقة في ركود عميق، بينما تتقدّم الصين في السباق. والآن، كما نرى، تواجه الولايات المتحدة أسوأ أزمة سياسية لها منذ الحرب الأهلية.

لقد جادلت بأنّ عام 2020 سيُنظر إليه على أنه عام التحوّل العظيم، عندما ترى غالبية سكان العالم الصين كقائد عالمي جديد. سيؤدّي انهيار النظام السياسي الأميركي إلى تسريع تكريس هذه الزعامة بشكل كبير.

لقد تمّ التقليل من شأن طبيعة الأزمة السياسية الأميركية إلى حدّ كبير، وأسبابها عميقة للغاية. فالبلاد منقسمة إلى نصفين، مستقطبة بشكل ميؤوس منه ونظام حكومتها مشلول. السؤال الأساسي هو: ما هي الأسباب الكامنة وراء هذا الوضع؟

تشهد أميركا حالة من التدهور منذ الثمانينيات، وبشكل كبير منذ عام 2008. على مدى أربعة عقود، عانى نصف السكان من هبوط أو ركود في مستويات المعيشة. لقد وصل عدم المساواة إلى مستويات الثلاثينيات من القرن الماضي إنْ لم يكن قبل ذلك. انتهى الحلم الأميركي.

طوال تاريخها تقريباً، كانت أميركا في صعود. لم يعرف عنها أيّ شيء مختلف. لقد انتهى هذا العصر. من المتوقع أن تصبح أميركا أقلّ أهمية بكثير. يتمّ استبدالها بسرعة باعتبارها القوة الأولى في العالم من قبل الصين.

المؤسّسة الغربية غير قادرة على قبول ما لا يمكن وصفه إلا بنهاية الغرب كما عرفناه. إنّهم يتشبّثون بالماضي وينكرون الحاضر ويعيشون في خوف من مستقبل مختلف تمامًا. نحن نشهد نقلة نوعية عميقة.

كان من الممكن أن يكون التراجع أسرع لو لم تلجأ أميركا إلى تحويل الدولار إلى دولار بترودولار، والذي بدوره أبقى المطابع مستمرة وتمويل النزعة العسكرية وكلّ شيء بينهما من دون هذا النوع من التضخم الذي من شأنه أن يشلّ أيّ بلد آخر.

Sitrep : China

Via The Saker

January 06, 2021

By Godfree Roberts – selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China

Ten Predictions for 2021

  1. GDP expands 10%. Western experts predict GDP will expand by 8% and, since they are always 25% low, expect 10%–a $2.4 trillion addition to the economy and the fastest growth ever. Bonus Predictions: Wages  rise 12%, the EU signs the Investment Agreement, the EEU merges with the RCEP.
  2. Most Fortune 500 companies are Chinese. More than 140 Chinese companies and fewer than 120 US companies will make the Fortune list. 80% of the Chinese companies will be State Owned Enterprises.
  3. Five new billionaires created weekly, following four a week in 2020. .
  4. Extreme poverty, homelessness vanish. There will be more drug addicts, suicides and executions, more homeless, poor, hungry and imprisoned people in America than in China by this time next year. 99% of the bottom half of Chinese society will own a home and have an income, plenty of food and clothes, safe streets, health insurance, a pension, and old age care.
  5. Gini gap narrows. Inequality has been Xi’s pet project since 2012 and will become a priority through 2035. The gap is already narrower than Europe’s: Luxembourgeois are 50 times richer than Moldavans, while Beijingers are 5-6 times richer than folks in Gansu, and Gansu is richer than Armenia, Ukraine and Moldova.
  6. Urban life revolutionized. China has constructed the equivalent of San Francisco’s entire housing stock every month since 1950 and Xiong’An New Area, south of Beijing, embodies everything they have learned. Most of it will be woods and wetlands, the loudest sound will birds twittering, and it will be fully automated, with infrastructure underground. Increased productivity will repay its capital cost in 30 years.
  7. The first exascale computer. Top supercomputers  nowsolve problems at the petascale—a quadrillion calculations/second. Exascale computers, at a quintillion calculations/second, will more realistically simulate the processes involved in precision medicine, regional climate, additive manufacturing, the physics in materials discovery and design, the fundamental forces of the universe, and more.
  8. Another quantum surprise to match its recent boson sampling achievement. China outspends the US 4:1 in R&D and its Taoist worldview accommodates quantum physics’ ‘both-and’ paradigm better than the Western ‘either-or’ tradition.
  9. Chinese outlive Americans. US deaths will rise 15% 3.2 million and life expectancy will fall by three years. China’s life expectancy was on track to match America’s by 2028, but thanks to Healthy China 2030, it may maintain its 2021 lead permanently.
  10. Chinese vaccines protect the world. Sixty percent of the world’s people will be protected by Chinese vaccines (and The WHO will reveal India as the source of the Covid-19 virus.

This represents but a fraction of what is included in the Here Comes China newsletter.  If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here

Cover Photograph : Zhou Chengyu, a 24-year-old from Guizhou province (above) is China’s youngest ever space commander. She’s in charge of the rocket connector system, a “pivotal role.” The Chang’e 5 mission marked China’s third successful Moon-landing in seven years. 

Read full article 

We are at War

We are at War

January 04, 2021

https://thesaker.is/we-are-at-war/by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

We are at war. Yes. And I don’t mean the west against the east, against Russa and China, nor the entire world against an invisible corona virus. No. We, the common people, are at war against an ever more authoritarian and tyrannical elitist Globalist system, reigned by a small group of multi-billionaires, that planned already decades ago to take power over the people, to control them reduce them to what a minute elite believes is an “adequate number” to inhabit Mother Earth – and to digitize and robotize the rest of the survivors, as a sort of serfs. It’s a combination of George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”.

Welcome to the age of the transhumans. If we allow it. That’s why vaccination is needed in warp speed, to inject us with transgenic substances that may change our DNA, lest we may wake up, or at least a critical mass may become conscious – and change the dynamics. Because dynamics are not predictable, especially not in the long-term.

The war is real and the sooner we all realize it, the sooner those in masks and those in social distancing take cognizance of the worldwide dystopian situations we have allowed to become our governments, the better our chance to retake our sovereign selves. Today we are confronted with totally illegal and oppressive rules, all imposed under the pretext of “health protection”. Non-obedience is punishable by huge fines; military and police enforced rules: Mask wearing, social distancing, keeping within the allowed radius of our “homes”, quarantining, staying away from our friends and families.

Actually, the sooner We, the People, will take up an old forgotten characteristic of human kind – “solidarity” – and fight this war with our solidarity, with our love for each other, for mankind, with our love for LIFE and our Love for Mother Earth, the sooner we become again independent, self-assured beings, an attribute we have lost gradually over the last decades, at the latest since the beginning of the neoliberal onslaught of the 1980s. Slice by tiny slice of human rights and civil rights have been cut off under false pretexts and propaganda – “security” – to the point where we begged for more security and gladly gave away more of our freedoms and rights. How sad.

Now, the salami has been sliced away. We suddenly realize, there is nothing left. Its irrecoverable. We have allowed it to happen before our eyes, for promised comfort and propaganda lies by these small groups of elitists – by the Globalists, in their thirst for endless power and endless greed – and endless enlargements of their riches, of their billions. – Are billions of any monetary union “riches”? – Doubtfully. They have no love. No soul, no heart just a mechanical blood-pump that keeps them alive.

These people, the Globalists, they have sunk so deep in their moral dysfunction, totally devoid of ethics, that their time has come – either to be judged against international human rights standards, war crimes and crimes against humanity – similar as was done by the Nuremberg Trials after WWII, or to disappear, blinded away by a new epoch of Light.

As the number of awakening people is increasing, the western Powers that Be (PTB) are becoming increasingly nervous and spare no efforts coercing all kinds of people, para-government, administrative staff, medical personnel, even independent medical doctors into defending and promoting the official narrative.

It is so obvious, when you have known these people in “normal” times, their progressive opinions suddenly turning, by 180 degrees, to the official narrative, defending the government lies, the lies of the bought “scientific Task Forces” that advise the governments, and thereby provide governments with alibis to “tighten the screws” a bit more (Ms. Merkel’s remarks) around the people, the very people the governments should defend and work for; the lies and deceptive messages coming from “scientists” who may have been promised “eternal, endless ladders of careers”, or of lives in a hidden paradise?

What more may they get in turn for trying to subvert their friends’, peers’, patients’ opinions about the horror disease “covid-19”? – Possibly something that is as good a s life itself – and is basically cost free for the avaricious rich. For example, a vax-certificate without having been vaxxed by the toxic injections – opening the world of travel and pleasurable activities to them as “before”.

Other special benefits may include dispensation from social distancing, mask wearing, quarantining – and who knows, a hefty monetary award. Nothing would be surprising, when you see how this tiny evil cell is growing like a cancer to take over full power of the world – including and especially Russia and China, where the bulk of the world’s natural resources are buried, and where technological and economic advances far outrank the greed-economy of the west. They will not succeed.

What if the peons don’t behave? – Job loss, withdrawal of medial licenses, physical threats to families and loved ones, and more.

The Globalists evil actions and influence-peddling is limited in the east, where they are confronted with educated and awakened people.

We are at war. Indeed. The 99.999% against the 0.001%. Their tactics are dividing to conquer, accompanied by this latest brilliant idea – launching an invisible enemy, a virus, a plandemic, and a fear campaign to oppress and tyrannize the entire world, all 193 UN member countries.

The infamous words, spoken already more than half a century ago by Rockefeller protégé, Henry Kissinger, come to mind: “Who controls food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”

Quoting some lines and thoughts of a 1 January 2021, RT article, “Civil war, medical discrimination, spy satellites and cyborgs! How 2021 could make us yearn for 2020”
(https://www.rt.com/op-ed/511255-2021-chaos-civil-war-vaccines/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Email) – may point us in a direction of what may happen in 2021, we certainly do not yearn for.

“People everywhere are eager to bid farewell to 2020, a year in which our lives were turned upside down by power-mad elites who seized the Covid-19 pandemic as a chance to go full police state. But be careful what you wish for…. merely putting up a new calendar does nothing to address [the mounting repression and tyranny], which seem certain to reach a breaking point. Humanity has been pushed to the limit with arbitrary rules, enforced poverty, and mandated isolation — it will only take a spark or two for things to explode.”

And – ”As vaccines are rolled out to the general public, the divide between those obeying the rules and the dissidents will only grow. Those who decline to get the jab will be treated as pariahs, banned from some public spaces and told it’s their fault life hasn’t gone back to normal, just as so-called “anti-maskers” have been.”

And more glorious prospects – “Anyone who isn’t thrilled by the idea of ingesting an experimental compound whose makers have been indemnified from any lawsuits, will be deemed an enemy of the state, even separated from their children or removed from their home as a health risk. Neighbors will gleefully rat each other out for the equivalent of an extra chocolate ration, meaning even the most slavishly obedient individuals could end up in “concentration camps” for upsetting the wrong person.”
—–

Yes, we are in the midst of war. A war that has already ravaged our society, divided it all the way down to families and friends. If we are not careful, we may not look our children and grand children in the eyes, because we knew, we ought to have known what was and is going on, what is being done, by a small dark power elite – the Globalists. We must step out of our comfort zone, and confront the enemy with an awakened mind of consciousness and a heart filled with love – but also with fierce resistance.

If we fail to step up and stand up for our rights, this war goes on to prepare future generations – to abstain from congregating with other people. They are alsready indoctrinating our kids into keeping away from friends, school colleagues, peers, and from playing in groups with each other – as the new Normal. The self-declared cupula – the crème of the crop of civilization – the Globalist evil masters, already compromised and continue to do so, the education systems throughout the globe to instill into kids and young adults that wearing masks is essential for survival, and “social distancing” is the only way forward. See Children of the Great Reset https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ncE5yYQvJY .

They know damned well that once a civilization has lost its natural cohesion – the social fabric is broken, the very fabric that keeps a civilization together and dynamically advancing. The “dynamic advancing” – or simply dynamics itself – is their nightmare, because dynamics is what makes life tick – life, people, societies, entire nations and continents. Without dynamics life on the planet would stand still.

And that’s what they want – a Globalist dictator, controlling a small population of serfs, or robotized slaves, that move only when told, own nothing and are given a digital blockchain controlled universal income, that, depending on their behavior and obedience, they may use to buy food, pleasure and comfort. Once the slaves are dispensable or incorrigible, their electronically controlled brains are simply turned off – RIP.

This may turn out to be the most devastating war mankind has ever fought. May We, the People, see through this horrendous sham which is already now playing out, in Year One of the UN Agenda 21 /30; and may We, the People, the commons, win this war against a power-thirsty elite and its bought administrators and “scientists” throughout the world – and restore a sovereign, unmasked, socially coherent society – in solidarity.

Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

These Are Russia’s Five Most Important Tasks For Surviving World War C

By Andrew Korybko

Source

These Are Russia

The full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes brought about over the past year by the world’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19 can best be described as World War C, and Russia will need to prioritize five tasks in order to survive it in 2021 and beyond: continue practicing “vaccine diplomacy”; lead the “Great Reset”/”Fourth Industrial Revolution”; adjust to the “Great Socio-Civilizational Reset”; defend itself from Western aggression in the New Cold War; and perfect its geostrategic “balancing” act.

Welcome To World War C

The past year saw the opening of Pandora’s box after the world’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19 unleashed full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes that can best be described as World War C. This struggle for the future of the world is unprecedented in literally every single way, influencing everything from how people interact with one another and their governments to relationships between states. Nothing will ever be the same after 2020, something that Russia is keenly aware of. It’s therefore doing its utmost to get ahead of these trends in order to avoid falling into its historical pattern of “lagging” behind its peer competitors. In the worst-case scenario, Russia might never “catch up” like it always has a knack for doing at what usually seems to be the very last minute, which is why the five following tasks are of the highest priority in order for it to survive World War C in 2021 and beyond:

1. Continue Practicing “Vaccine Diplomacy”

As the author realized in late November, “Russia’s ‘Vaccine DIplomacy’ Is The Basis Of Its New Global Outreach Campaign”. What’s meant by this is that its sudden rise as a vaccine superpower can be cleverly leveraged to expand influence within its growing number of partner states for the purpose of clinching more comprehensive deals with them in other fields such as the political, military, and especially economic ones. Vaccine cooperation is probably the most intimate form of state-to-state ties because the recipient is literally putting their citizens’ lives in the hands of their partners, who will then inject them with what’s regarded as a life-saving inoculation in order to help their countries return to as much of the pre-World War C domestic status quo as possible with time. By continuing to practice its “vaccine diplomacy” and retaining its superpower status in this sphere, Russia might actually manage to “jump ahead” of its peer competitors and “make up for lost time” by restoring its global influence that was lost after the 1991 dissolution of the USSR. Even more importantly, Russia also has a credible chance of more powerfully shaping the emerging world order if it can succeed with this crucial task.

2. Lead The “Great Reset”/”Fourth Industrial Revolution”

Unlike what the many Non-Russian Pro-Russians (NRPR) in the Alt-Media Community wrongly believe, Russia isn’t against the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “Great Reset”/”Fourth Industrial Revolution” (GR/4IR), but is keenly aware of these plans and actually intends to play a leading role in actualizing them. President Putin attended the WEF’s 2003 meeting in Moscow, while former President Medvedev attended the one in Davos in 2011. President Putin also met with WEF founder Klaus Schwab in St. Petersburg in 2007 and 2008. His most recent meeting with the GR/4IR mastermind took place in November 2019, during which time the Russian leader proudly said that “we have always supported and will continue to support our relations with the forum you founded.” It can’t be known for certain, but it might very well be that Schwab’s 2016 book on the 4IR influenced President Putin’s prediction a year later that “whoever leads in AI will rule the world”, after which he committed his country to becoming the global leader in this sphere. To that end, Russia’s state-run Sberbank is now pioneering Russia’s technological future in the new global conditions of the GR/4IR.

3. Adjust To The “Great Socio-Civilizational Reset”

Socio-cultural and civilizational factors aren’t immune from the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes catalyzed by World War C. The author wrote back in October that a “Great Socio-Civilizational Reset” has begun whereby cultures across the world will become increasingly assertive of their identity, but that this doesn’t inevitably mean that they’ll clash since cooperation between them is still possible on shared interests such as trade. Similar changes are also taking place within civilizations and states as well, such as the growing contradiction between liberal and conservative viewpoints. “President Assad Slaughtered Neoliberalism’s Four Sacred Cows” last month, though, showing that it’s possible to be both anti-liberal and against religious fundamentalism like secular Syria is. Regarding the Eurasian Great Power, “Be It From Birthrates Or Migration, Russia’s About To Greatly Increase Its Muslim Population” since its top mufti predicted that 30% of its people will be Muslim by 2030. In order to best adjust to all these far-reaching changes, President Putin unveiled a new governing policy last October that the author described as “populist statism”, which holds enormous promise.

4. Defend Itself From Western Aggression In The New Cold War

The socio-economic changes that were earlier described have naturally been accompanied by geopolitical ones as well, the latter of which accelerated the ongoing New Cold War between the West and non-Western Great Powers like Russia and China which first became most noticeable in 2014. The US is seeking to “contain” its two top rivals, having piled immense pressure upon Russia in the years since such as by imposing an ever-increasing sanctions regime, moving massive amounts of military equipment towards its borders, destabilizing the states in its so-called “sphere of influence”, and pulling out of strategic arms control pacts. Its parallel moves to “contain” China also pose a threat to Russian interests since the Eurasian Great Power’s security is partially dependent on that of its East Asian strategic partner as well. In addition, the US is also trying to push back against Russia’s growing influence in the “Global South”, particularly in Muslim-majority countries and Africa. As they say, however, “the best defense is a good offense”, so Russia will need to proactively confront these challenges by redoubling its global outreach efforts and prioritizing its characteristic asymmetric responses.

5. Perfect Its Geostrategic “Balancing” Act

The trickiest of Russia’s five most important tasks for surviving World War C in 2021 and beyond is to perfect its geostrategic “balancing” act, which the author constructively critiqued over the summer with the intent of suggesting realistic solutions for fixing its main shortcomings. The most challenging fulcrums in this respect nowadays are between China & India and Iran & “Israel”. The first was most recently addressed in the author’s analysis about how “Russia’s Unofficial Response To India Did Everything Right” (which cites two prior related analyses early on in the text that should be reviewed by the reader for background context) and “Russian & Iranian Experts Finally Discussed Their Differences Over Syria”. The first one also relies heavily on his September 2020 analysis asking “Is Russia ‘Abandoning’ Or ‘Recalibrating’ Its ‘Balancing’ Act Between China & India?” while the second one was similarly influenced by his September 2019 piece titled “Russia’s Middle East Strategy: ‘Balance’ vs. ‘Betrayal’?” The overarching trend is that “Russia’s Foreign Policy Progressives Have Trumped The Traditionalists”, as the author first observed in September 2017, which will continue to unfold into the future.

——————–

Looking forward, Russia has plenty of reasons to be cautiously optimistic about 2021. The past year saw the Eurasian Great Power suddenly emerge as the global vaccine superpower that’s actively practicing “vaccine diplomacy” in every corner of the world. It also saw Russia make tangible progress on attempting to lead the “Great Reset”/”Fourth Industrial Revolution” following the implementation of state-run Sberbank’s visionary plans to become a global technological player. In addition, Russia is rapidly adapting to the “Great Socio-Civilizational Reset” and other related challenges through President Putin’s unofficial unveiling of a new model of governance that can best be described as “populist statism”. The greatest challenges, however, are the need to defend itself from Western aggression in the New Cold War and perfect its increasingly complex “balancing” act. Nevertheless, with President Putin still at the helm, Russia’s prospects of success remain very promising.

Straight Talk by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

peacefromharmony.org/img.php?id=7606

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Commenting at the onset of 2021 on China’s geopolitical agenda, Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke candidly about major issues — his remarks worlds apart from how his US and other Western counterparts operate.

On relations with the US and West,  Wang said unilateralism, “protectionism and power politics are standing in the way of international cooperation,” risking unacceptable confrontation over good relations among world community nations.

While most countries choose to cooperate with others for their mutual benefit, hegemon USA and its imperial partners go another way for their own self-interest over world peace and stability.

In the past year and earlier, China “scored decisive successes in the three critical battles against poverty, pollution and potential risks,” said Wang, adding:

“The whole country is on course to fully build a moderately prosperous society.” 

“The recent Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee set a great vision for China’s development in the coming years and charted the course for national rejuvenation.”

“The unity and perseverance of the Chinese people have impressed the world.” 

“The resilience and dynamism of China’s development have won global recognition.”

Throughout 2020, China advanced its geopolitical interests cooperatively with other nations and “both (its) domestic needs and the international context,” along with confronting the US “political virus” in pursuing global stability.

“We have made more friends in the world. China has deepened friendship and cooperation with all countries, making active efforts to develop relations with major powers, achieving solid progress in building a community with a shared future with neighbors, protecting and advancing the shared interests of the developing world, and working for a new type of international relations,” said Wang.

“We have been firm in safeguarding our national interests.” 

“We have responded resolutely and rationally to unjustified moves by the United States.” 

“We have handled issues relating to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet with justified, strong and proportionate countermeasures and won one fierce battle after another in international organizations, vigorously safeguarding China’s sovereignty, dignity and development interests.”

At the same time, Beijing prioritizes “multilateral cooperation” — worlds apart from how imperial USA operates, for its own self-interest at the expense of other nations.

Summitry led by President Xi Jinping is “the highest form of diplomacy,” said Wang.

In 2020, Xi had “87 meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders and heads of international organizations and attend(ed) 22 important bilateral or multilateral events.”

Throughout the past year and earlier, Sino/Russian relations stood the test of time by bonding for the benefit of both nations.

“In developing China-Russia strategic cooperation, we see no limit, no forbidden zone and no ceiling to how far this cooperation can go.” 

“Focusing on the central task of implementing the common understandings of the two presidents, the two countries will use the opportunity of the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation to renew their shared commitment to ever-lasting peace and win-win cooperation.”

“Being each other’s strategic anchor, diplomatic priority, development opportunity and global partner, the two countries will expand and deepen cooperation from a higher starting point.” 

“Together, China and Russia will continue to be the example of good-neighborly and friendly relations between major countries, add impetus to global recovery, and underpin global strategic stability.”

In disturbingly stark contrast, US hostility toward China deepened at the expense of cooperative relations Washington spurns in pursuing its unilateral interests.

What’s going on shows its unacceptable “attempt to suppress China and start a new Cold War” that risks direct confrontation.

This unsupported policy by most world community nations is “doomed to fail,” Wang stressed.

“China’s policy toward the United States is consistent and stable.” 

“We are ready to develop with the United States a relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability.” 

“China never meddles in the internal affairs of the United States and values peaceful co-existence and mutually beneficial cooperation with the United States.” 

“Likewise, the United States also needs to respect the social system and development path chosen by the Chinese people and respect their legitimate rights to pursue a better life.”

“We don’t need a world where China becomes another United States.” This is neither rational nor feasible. 

“Rather, the United States should try to make itself a better country” — what’s highly unlikely given its diabolical hegemonic aims that keep hardening, not easing.

The US seeks dominance over other nations, not mutual cooperation it spurns.

China’s relations with the EU are at times uneasy but less threatening than how the US operates.

In 2020, China “became the EU’s largest trading partner for the first time” that hopefully will develop further ahead to benefit both sides.

A new investment treaty was agreed on that shows mutual cooperation works when pursued.

“As a permanent member of the Security Council and a responsible major country, China has been exploring a distinctive Chinese way of resolving hotspot issues,” said Wang, adding: 

“We follow a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security for the world.” 

“We maintain that regional disputes should be addressed through dialogue and consultation.” 

“We uphold non-interference in internal affairs (of other nations), which is a basic norm governing international relations.”

China pursues world peace and stability, an independent foreign policy, and cooperative relations with other nations according to the rule of law.

The US operates by a lower standard, spurning the above in pursuit of its hegemonic aims.

Who Gains From Misportraying Russia As A Rogue Regime?

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Who Gains From Misportraying Russia As A Rogue Regime?

The push by Western forces and those sympathetic to them to misportray Russia as a “rogue regime” after this summer’s Navalny incident is meant to pave the way for a more comprehensive sanctions policy against the Eurasian Great Power and intensify multilateral efforts to “contain” it.

The Western press has recently revived the debunked trope that Russia is a so-called “rogue regime” after the latest developments surrounding this summer’s Navalny incident. The self-described “investigative reporting” outlet Bellingcat and CNN recently published a joint report claiming that the FSB tried to poison the anti-corruption blogger, which is an unrealistic scenario to speculate upon and one which was condemned by President Putin during his year-end press conference as a provocation by foreign intelligence services. Nevertheless, this information warfare narrative persists and was given fresh coverage by former chess champion Gary Kasparov in the op-ed that he published at CNN on Friday about how “It’s time to treat Putin’s Russia like the rogue regime it is”. His piece deserves to be debunked in order to set the record straight and extrapolate his agenda for propagating it.

Kasparov shares a smorgasbord of accusations straight off the bat alleging that Russia is guilty of crimes ranging from assassinating political foes with chemical weapons to invading Ukraine and hacking the US. What he doesn’t mention, however, is that no evidence has been presented to conclusively prove Russia’s responsibility for those aforesaid assassination attempts. Regarding Ukraine, Kasparov leaves out the fact that Crimea reunified with Russia after a democratic referendum and that a real military invasion of that country by Moscow wouldn’t have manifested itself in limited skirmishes contained to Eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. Moreover, the chess champion omits the fact that Trump contradicted Pompeo’s claims of Russian complicity in the latest hack attack and actually blamed China instead. Evidently, these facts are too “politically inconvenient” for Kasparov to mention and thus had to be ignored in order to advance his weaponized narrative.

That narrative, it should be said, is one of paranoia and speculation. Parts of it read as a fever dream of a brilliant mind gone mad imagining that Russia’s security agencies are falling apart by the second despite he himself previously alleging that they’ve carried out such egregious crimes as the ones that he talked about earlier. This schizophrenic stance is explained away by his theory that President Putin simply doesn’t care anymore about how sloppy his international provocations have become because no meaningful consequences have ever followed. That’s yet another fallacy on Kasparov’s part since Russia has been victimized by an ever-intensifying sanctions regime since 2014. Still, he’s somehow convinced himself that the West is actually “appeasing” Russia by continuing to retain some limited relations with it of a pragmatic nature. These, he believes, must be immediately stopped and followed up by removing Russia from international institutions.

What he’s clamoring for is clear for any objective observer to see, and it’s a redoubling of the Western sanctions regime against Russia and an intensification of the multilateral efforts to “contain” it. Earlier attempts by some American officials to designate Russia as a so-called “state sponsor of terrorism” might receive a second life if Kasparov’s op-ed is coordinated with US intelligence officials to precondition the international public into accepting such a dramatic move. The incoming Biden Administration is chock-full of anti-Russian hawks so it’s quite possible that they might make swift progress in further worsening bilateral relations with Russia on that or some similar pretext. It should be remembered, however, that the entire basis for this scenario is the unquestionable assumption that Russia is responsible for everything that Kasparov and his allies claim, which is highly dubious to say the least.

Even so, it’s nowadays taboo for anyone to publicly challenge those accusations lest they be tarred and feathered as a “Russian agent”. The media-military nexus is operating perfectly insofar as coordinating their messaging to justify forthcoming provocations against Russia. The American people have been brainwashed into believing that Russia is one of their main enemies, with Kasparov’s comments on the latest Navalny development being used to reinforce that narrative. CNN published his op-ed in order to grant it maximum exposure at home and abroad, all for the earlier explained reasons. While his ravings are limited to the internet for now, they might soon have a real-life impact if the US runs with his claims to push through a new sanctions regime and other related “containment” efforts against Russia. This could even happen if Trump pulls off an upset and remains in office after 20 January considering his recent anti-Russian track record.

In conclusion, the only ones who gain by misportraying Russia as a “rogue regime” are the anti-Russian members of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) and their international allies like Kasparov who has a personal axe to grind against President Putin. Objectively speaking, Russia’s alleged “rogue” activity pales in comparison to the US’ actual rogue actions since the end of the Old Cold War, which include drone assassinations, Color Revolution coups, Hybrid Wars, and several large-scale wars. That’s not to deflect with “whatabouttism”, but just to remind the reader of the global strategic context for the purpose of pointing out America’s blatant hypocrisy in this respect. Looking forward, the US’ anti-Russian information warfare campaign will only intensify and won’t ever stop until Moscow submits to Washington’s unipolar hegemonic demands, which won’t ever happen so the infowar is here to stay.

Eurasian Economic Union Enjoying Broader Cooperation

By Vladimir Odintsov
Source: New Eastern Outlook

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Noteworthy events to do with increased integration within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) took place in the first half of December 2020.

On December 7, representatives of the EAEU and China met during the special negotiation session called “Towards a bigger Eurasia via the integration of nations, businesses and people”, which was organized by the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) and the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) within the framework of the First Eurasian Congress. The head of the PRC delegation, Deputy Minister of Commerce Yu Jianhua, made a number of fairly interesting proposals aimed at expanding cooperation between China and the EAEU member states. For instance, he suggested adding an economic dimension (a feasibility study) to it so that a free trade zone agreement between the PRC and the EAEU could be implemented. Such a deal will, unquestionably, promote all aspects of mutual cooperation, strengthen the foundations of global trade, foster bilateral dialogue and lead to more unified standards. A joint commission for implementing the agreement between the EAEU and China will facilitate the adoption of measures that will ease global trade involving e-commerce to ensure an uninterrupted supply of goods.

Participants at the joint session discussed another proposal made by the Chinese delegation regarding the creation of a steel caravan of the Eurasian continent in order to establish joint logistics and warehouse hubs comprising networks of cross-border railways, which will cover the entire Eurasia with trade routes for cargo transportations, thus encouraging the construction of economic corridors, similar to the New Eurasian Land Bridge. Yu Jianhua emphasized that to ensure the trade ties between the PRC and the EAEU continued to strengthen and all the participants of the initiative derived benefits from the process of integration, it was important to facilitate the smooth functioning of green transport corridors and to streamline customs procedures at relevant border harbors.

At present, Central Asia has the necessary infrastructure on the basis of which a broad range of opportunities for continent-wide collaboration could be created. That is why, the session participants actively discussed all the proposals on increased integration. Kairat Kelimbetov, the head of Astana International Financial Centre and the Chairman of the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms, pointed out that it would be easy to create a framework for cooperation within the nations of the region, which would, for instance, provide access to sea routes to those countries (such as Kazakhstan) that did not have it.

During the session, Vladimir Chizhov, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Union (EU), stated that there could be a reshuffle among the global players. Such processes occur naturally, which means that the ever-expanding and transforming Greater Eurasia may become one the new global centers as a result.

Another important event in the region, from the point of view of further Eurasian integration, was the online meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC) on December 11, which not only leaders of the 5 core member-states took part in but so did heads of observer states (Moldova) and of nations vying for such a status (Uzbekistan and Cuba). The agenda included more than 20 issues that directly dealt with the resolution of outstanding integration-related problems and the provision of economic support to member-states still facing socio-economic hardships, such as Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

During the SEEC discussion of the points tied to integration, the participants backed an initiative on strategic directions for promoting EAEU integration by 2025, focusing on completing the creation of a common market for goods, services, capital, workers as well as an integrated digital environment. Essentially, the aim is to stimulate the growth of member states’ economies, and to improve the well-being and quality of life of these nations’ inhabitants.

Another important achievement of the recent SEEC video conference, aside from the approval of strategic directions to encourage integration by year 2025, was Uzbekistan and Cuba obtaining observer status within the EAEU.

According to Article 109 of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, observer states can, upon invitation, attend meetings of EAEU bodies but without the right to participate in decision-making processes and receive any documents approved by the Union that are not confidential in nature.

Incidentally, the EAEU began its life on January 1, 2015, and its member states include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. In year 2020, Belarus has the chairmanship within the EAEU. Moldova has been an observer state within the organization since May 2018. The EAEU is an economic union only.

Uzbekistan has been fostering ties with its member states for a long time. As a result of these joined efforts, bilateral trade worth $4.5 billion in 2016 increased two-fold by the end of 2019 to more than $9 billion. In fact, transactions with the Eurasian Economic Union account for one third of all of Uzbekistan’s external trade in value, while their share in the agricultural sector exceeds 75%.

Uzbekistan gaining the observer status with the EAEU was the result of ongoing policies, pursued by the its government and its President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, aimed at promoting an open national economy and at utilizing the country’s transport corridors and logistics networks. Hence, at present, the common EAEU market with its 180 million consumers is increasingly becoming the target for products from Uzbekistan, and of all of this is, in turn, laying the groundwork for closer collaboration and mutual cooperation within Eurasia. The observer status will enable Uzbekistan to build up capabilities in its economy to better meet the demands of the EAEU common market and to increase the share within it taken up by Uzbek manufacturers and suppliers.

Similarly, Cuba also became an observer state in the EAEU. Thus, the organization is expanding not only its economic but also its geopolitical reach. This new status within the Eurasian Economic Union allows Cuba to foster closer economic ties and cooperation not only with Russia and Belarus (which it already collaborates with) but also with other EAEU member states. Cuba needs to increase revenues it earns from its global exports, particularly, from the products and services of the economy’s medical sector. Sugar production is a key sphere of Cuba’s economy, and sugar cane is a crucial agricultural commodity. Recently, the Cuban economy has been experiencing a two-fold crisis: due to the COVID-19 pandemic and tightening US sanctions. In 2020, the nation’s economy will have contracted for the first time in 26 years. Its government has put forward an economic strategy focused on opening up the country to international travelers, stimulating Cuba’s food production sector and introducing economic reforms faster. Hence, a closer relationship between this nation and the EAEU could, in the opinion of the Cuban government, help, in large part, to resolve the country’s current economic woes.

Vladimir Odintsov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

How West, Central and South Asia are interconnecting

How West, Central and South Asia are interconnecting

January 02, 2021

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted on Asia Times

It’s one of those quintessential journeys that make people dream: Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad by train. Let’s call it ITI.

Soon, in early 2021, ITI will become a reality. But, initially, just as a freight train. The deal was recently sealed at the 10th meeting of the transport and communication ministers of ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) in Istanbul.

ITI’s official name is actually the ECO Container Train. Trial runs started in 2019. The 6,500 km overland journey should now take 11 days – compared to the roughly 45 days across sealanes for trade between Western Europe and Pakistan.

ECO is a very interesting – and strategic – organization, virtually unknown outside of Asia, uniting Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, the five Central Asian “stans”, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan.

Some of these players are also members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); some are part of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU); and almost all of them are partners to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

They have come up with a ECO Vision 2025 that emphasizes connectivity as a springboard to “social and economic development”, privileging trade, transportation, energy and tourism. ECO seeks to de facto integrate West, Central and South Asia plus the Caucasus. For all practical purposes, ECO straddles most of the New Silk Roads developing across a large part of Eurasia.

That pesky Sultan, again

The ITI/ECO Container Train will be yet another layer of connectivity running in parallel to the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, centered on the Caucasus, and as we have seen in a previous Turkey/New Great Game column, a key plank of Ankara’s trade strategy.

Soon, ITI/ECO will also link with the European rail networks via that 76-km long engineering marvel – the undersea Marmaray railway tunnel in Istanbul. Of course opportunities abound for branching out to parts of the Middle East. By the end of the decade, ITI/ECO may well go high-speed rail – think Chinese investment.

The fascinating counterpoint to the Marmaray undersea tunnel is the Trans-Caspian: the actual connection between the BTK in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

As you can see here , the strategically designed layout of the ports allows instant roll on-roll off from the cargo trains to huge freight ferries.

Iran, for instance, is building a roll on-roll off shipping port in Bandar-e Anzalī on the Caspian Sea – which will be used to export merchandise but also oil and gas transiting via Russia or Kazakhstan, both Caspian nations, and thus bypassing any further blockade imposed by the US.

The interlink of ITI/ECO with BTK will solidify yet another important East-West trade corridor. Apart from the northern corridors linking with the Trans-Siberian, every East-West trade corridor across Eurasia goes through Turkey. That gives President Erdogan a wealth of options – as Beijing knows too well. The Xian-Istanbul corridor is as important as the Xian-Kazakhstan-Russia corridor.

Our previous Turkey/New Great Game column provoked serious debate in Istanbul. Political analyst Ceyda Karan remarked Erdogan “has only one card: Turkish geopolitics. He doesn’t care how many soldiers will die in Libya or Syria. He doesn’t care about the Turkish people”.

Esteemed Professor Korkut Boratav, now a nonagenarian eminence in macroeconomics, wondered how I could “ascribe those important roles to our chief”, referencing Erdogan.

Well, it’s all about playing geoeconomics. Erdogan certainly has leveraged his Rolodex across Eurasia, in terms of foreign policy, going no holds barred in the manipulation of all sorts of proxy gangs practicing all manner of extremisms. But ultimately what The Sultan really needs is trade and foreign investment in his battered economy.

So trade connectivity is essential. But the problem always remains his own strategy. Supporting, feeding and weaponizing an army of ISIS/Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Uighur/Caucasian jihadi proxies is not exactly a sound business strategy.

Erdogan seems to be everywhere – Libya, Azerbaijan, the Turkish-northwest Syrian border. Strategists in Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Islamabad of course are asking questions: what for, exactly?

There’s no realistic geoeconomic scenario for him to bypass Russia. He may use Azerbaijan as a sort of de luxe messenger between Turkey and Israel – and perhaps, subsequently, profit from Israel’s courtship of Persian Gulf monarchies. After all, as far as allies in the Arab world are concerned, the only player he can really count on is Qatar. Follow the money: Doha by itself won’t finance an economic boom in Turkey.

Let a million trade corridors bloom

Silly rumors about the demise of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are greatly exaggerated – considering they are a sub-section of American propaganda. CPEC is a complex, very long-term project whose implementation, according to the Chinese timetable, has not even started.

What Islamabad must be aware of is how much sexier, in comparison, is Tehran, when seen with Beijing’s eyes. Pakistan counts mostly on Imran Khan’s efforts. Iran has a wealth of oil, gas, gold and an array of crucial minerals. As India famously shot itself in the back – once again – by de facto abdicating from investing in Chabahar port in Iran, China stepped in. The $400 billion China-Iran deal is way more comprehensive than CPEC, at roughly $64 billion.

Back on the road, the good news is Iran-Pakistan seem to be focused on increasing connectivity. It boggles the mind that until recently there was only one crossing along their 900 km border. Finally they decided to open two more border gateways.

This is hugely important, because the first gateway is in ultra-sensitive Sistan-Balochistan province – constantly susceptible to Salafi-jihadi infiltrators – and only 70 km away from strategic Gwadar port.

As far as tourism goes – what the Chinese describe as “people to people exchange” – that’s an extra dimension, because Pakistanis can now easily cross the border, reach Chabahar, and then go by train to Iran’s holy sites Najaf and Karbala.

Finally, there’s the all-important Russian factor – which always commands Erdogan’s undivided attention.

Arguably Moscow’s top strategic priority is to decouple the EU from any US/NATO-imposed Dr. Strangelove impulses. So a EU trade alliance with Beijing – now in progress, via their investment treaty – cannot but be a win-win, as it spells out closer European integration with the Eurasian century, driven by China but with Russia, crucially, positioned as the premier security provider.

And as President Putin once again made it clear in his year end’s vows, BRI and the EAEU are increasingly merging.

Quite a few readers have noted that Russia has now achieved the tripartite capacity that Kissinger once declared essential for US strategic leadership: mastery of weapons exports; control of energy flows; and agriculture exports. Not to mention diplomatic finesse – widely respected all across Eurasia and the Global South.

Meanwhile, Eurasia goes with the flow: let a million trade corridors – Trans-Siberian, BTK, ITI/ECO – bloom.

MILITARY AND POLITICAL TRENDS OF 2020 THAT WILL SHAPE 2021

South Front

2020 was a year full of surprises. It marked the advent of a new reality which may, with an equal probability, lead humanity to a new dark age or to a global digital dystopia. In this context, there is little room for a positive scenario of sustainable development that would benefit people in general, as opposed to just a group of select individuals and special interest groups. The heft of shifts in 2020 is comparable to what European citizens felt on the eve of another change of the socio-economic formation in the early 17th  and 20th centuries.

The past year began with the assassination of the Iranian military genius General Qasem Soleimani by the United States, and it ended with the murder of the prominent scholar Mohsen Fakhrizadeh by the Israelis.

Iran's top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh assassinated near Tehran -  YouTube

In early January, Iran, expecting another aggressive action from the West, accidently shot down a Ukrainian civil aircraft that had inexplicably altered its course over Tehran without request nor authorization. Around the same time, Turkey confirmed the deployment of its military in Libya, beginning a new phase of confrontation in the region, and Egypt responding with airstrikes and additional shows of force. The situation in Yemen developed rapidly: taking advantage of the Sunni coalition’s moral weakness, Ansar Allah achieved significant progress in forcing the Saudis out of the country in many regions. The state of warfare in northwestern Syria has significantly changed, transforming into the formal delineation of zones of influence of Turkey and the Russian-Iranian-Syrian coalition. This happened amid, and largely due to the weakening of U.S. influence in the region. Ankara is steadily increasing its military presence in the areas under its responsibility and along the contact line. It has taken measures to deter groups linked to Al-Qaeda and other radicals. As a result, the situation in the region is stabilizing, which has allowed Turkey to increasingly exert control over most of Greater Idlib.

ISIS cells remain active in the eastern and southern Syrian regions. Particular processes are taking place in Quneitra and Daraa provinces, where Russian peace initiatives were inconclusive by virtue of the direct destructive influence of Israel in these areas of Syria. In turn, the assassination of Qasem Soleimaniin resulted in a sharp increase in the targeting of American personnel, military and civil infrastructure in Iraq. The U.S. Army was forced to regroup its forces, effectively abandoning a number of its military installations and concentrating available forces at key bases. At the same time, Washington flatly rejected demands from Baghdad for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and promised to respond with full-fledged sanctions if Iraq continued to raise this issue. Afghanistan remains stable in its instability. Disturbing news comes from Latin America. Confrontation between China and India flared this year, resulting in sporadic border clashes. This situation seems far from over, as both countries have reinforced their military posture along the disputed border. The aggressive actions of the Trump administration against China deepen global crises, which has become obvious not only to specialists but also to the general public. The relationship between the collective West and the Russian Federation was re-enshrined in “the Cold War state”, which seems to have been resurrected once again.

The turbulence of the first quarter of 2020 was overshadowed by a new socio-political process – the corona-crisis, the framework of which integrates various phenomena from the Sars-Cov2 epidemic itself and the subsequent exacerbation of the global economic crisis.  The disclosure of substantial social differences that have accumulated in modern capitalist society, lead to a series of incessant protests across the globe. The year 2020 was accompanied by fierce clashes between protesters professing various causes and law enforcement forces in numerous countries. Although on the surface these societal clashes with the state appear disassociated, many share related root causes. A growing, immense wealth inequality, corruption of government at all levels, a lack of any meaningful input into political decision making, and the unmasking of massive censorship via big tech corporations and the main stream media all played a part in igniting societal unrest.

In late 2019 and early 2020 there was little reason for optimistic projections for the near future. However, hardly anyone could anticipate the number of crisis events and developments that had taken place during this year. These phenomena affected every region of the world to some extent.

Nevertheless, Middle East has remained the main source of instability, due to being an arena where global and regional power interests intertwine and clash. The most important line of confrontation is between US and Israel-led forces on the one hand, and Iran and its so called Axis of Resistance. The opposing sides have been locked in an endless spiral of mutual accusations, sanctions, military incidents, and proxy wars, and recently even crossed the threshold into a limited exchange of strikes due to the worsening state of regional confrontation. Russia and Turkey, the latter of which has been distancing itself from Washington due to growing disagreements with “NATO partners” and changes in global trends, also play an important role in the region without directly entering into the confrontation between pro-Israel forces and Iran.

As in the recent years, Syria and Iraq remain the greatest hot-spots. The destruction of ISIS as a terrorist state and the apparent killing of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did not end its existence as a terror group. Many ISIS cells and supporting elements actively use regional instability as a chance to preserve the Khalifate’s legacy. They remain active mainly along the Syria-Iraq border, and along the eastern bank of the Euphrates in Syria. Camps for the temporary displaced and for the families and relatives of ISIS militants on the territory controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in north-eastern Syria are also breeding grounds for terrorist ideology. Remarkably, these regions are also where there is direct presence of US forces, or, as in the case of SDF camps, presence of forces supported by the US.

The fertile soil for radicalism also consists of the inability to reach a comprehensive diplomatic solution that would end the Syrian conflict in a way acceptable to all parties. Washington is not interesting in stabilizing Syria because even should Assad leave, it would strengthen the Damascus government that would naturally be allied to Russia and Iran. Opposing Iran and supporting Israel became the cornerstone of US policy during the Trump administration. Consequently, Washington is supporting separatist sentiments of the Kurdish SDF leadership and even allowed it to participate in the plunder of Syrian oil wells in US coalition zone of control in which US firms linked to the Pentagon and US intelligence services are participating. US intelligence also aids Israel in its information and psychological warfare operations, as well as military strikes aimed at undermining Syria and Iranian forces located in the country. In spite of propaganda victories, in practice Israeli efforts had limited success in 2020 as Iran continued to strengthen its positions and military capabilities on its ally’s territory. Iran’s success in establishing and supporting a land corridor linking Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iraq, plays an important role. Constant expansion of Iran’s military presence and infrastructure near the town of al-Bukamal, on the border of Iraq and Syria, demonstrates the importance of the project to Tehran. Tel-Aviv claims that Iran is using that corridor to equip pro-Iranian forces in southern Syria and Lebanon with modern weapons.

The Palestinian question is also an important one for Israel’s leadership and its lobby in Washington. The highly touted “deal of the century” turned out to be no more than an offer for the Palestinians to abandon their struggle for statehood. As expected, this initiative did not lead to a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Rather the opposite, it gave an additional stimulus to Palestinian resistance to the demands that were being imposed. At the same time, Trump administration scored a diplomatic success by forcing the UAE and Bahrain to normalize their relations with Israel, and Saudi Arabia to make its collaboration with Israel public. That was a historic victory for US-Israel policy in the Middle East. Public rapprochement of Arab monarchies and Israel strengthened the positions of Iran as the only country which not only declares itself as Palestine’s and Islamic world’s defender, but actually puts words into practice. Saudi Arabia’s leadership will particularly suffer in terms of loss of popularity among its own population, already damaged by the failed war in Yemen and intensifying confrontation with UAE, both of which are already using their neighbor’s weakness to lay a claim to leadership on the Arabian Peninsula.

The list of actors strengthening their positions in the Red Sea includes Russia. In late 2020 it became known that Russia reached an agreement with Sudan on establishing a naval support facility which has every possibility to become a full-blown naval base. This foothold will enable the Russian Navy to increase its presence on key maritime energy supply routes on the Red Sea itself  and in the area between Aden and Oman straits. For Russia, which has not had naval infrastructure in that region since USSR’s break-up, it is a significant diplomatic breakthrough. For its part. Sudan’s leadership apparently views Russia’s military presence as a security factor allowing it to balance potential harmful measures by the West.

During all of 2020, Moscow and Beijing continued collaboration on projects in Africa, gradually pushing out traditional post-colonial powers in several key areas. The presence of Russian military specialists in the Central African Republic where they assist the central government in strengthening its forces, escalation of local conflicts, and ensuring the security of Russian economic sectors, is now a universally known fact. Russian diplomacy and specialists are also active in Libya, where UAE and Egypt which support Field Marshal Khaftar, and Turkey which supports the Tripoli government, are clashing. Under the cover of declarations calling for peace and stability, foreign actors are busily carving up Libya’s energy resources. For Egypt there’s also the crucial matter of fighting terrorism and the presence of groups affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood which Cairo sees as a direct threat to national security.

The Sahel and the vicinity of Lake Chad remain areas where terror groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIS remain highly active. France’s limited military mission in the Sahara-Sahel region has been failure and could not ensure sufficient support for regional forces in order to stabilize the situation. ISIS and Boko-Haram continue to spread chaos in the border areas between Niger, Nigeria, Cameroun, and Chad. In spite of all the efforts by the region’s governments, terrorists continue to control sizable territories and represent a significant threat to regional security. The renewed conflict in Ethiopia is a separate problem, in which the federal government was drawn into a civil war against the National Front for the Liberation of Tigray controlling that province. The ethno-feudal conflict between federal and regional elites threatens to destabilize the entire country if it continues.

The explosive situation in Africa shows that post-colonial European powers and the “Global Policeman” which dominated that continent for decades were not interested in addressing the continent’s actual problem. Foreign actors were mainly focused on extracting resources and ensuring the interests of a narrow group of politicians and entities affiliated with foreign capitals. Now they are forced to compete with the informal China-Russia bloc which will use a different approach that may be a described as follows: Strengthening of regional stability to protect investments in economic projects. Thus it is no surprise that influential actors are gradually losing to new but more constructive forces.

Tensions within European countries have been on the rise during the past several years, due to both the crisis of the contemporary economic paradigm and to specific regional problems such as the migration crises and the failure of multiculturalism policies, with subsequent radicalization of society.

Unpleasant surprises included several countries’ health care and social protection networks’ inability to cope with the large number of COVID-19 patients. Entire systems of governance in a number of European countries proved incapable of coping with rapidly developing crises. This is true particularly for countries of southern Europe, such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Among eastern European countries, Hungary’s and Romania’s economies were particularly badly affected. At the same time, Poland’s state institutions and economy showed considerable resilience in the face of crisis. While the Federal Republic of Germany suffered considerable economic damage in the second quarter of 2020, Merkel’s government used the situation to inject huge sums of liquidity into the economy, enhanced Germany’s position within Europe, and moreover Germany’s health care and social protection institutions proved capable and sufficiently resilient.

Coronavirus and subsequent social developments led to the emergence of the so-called “Macron Doctrine” which amounts to an argument that EU must obtain strategic sovereignty. This is consistent with the aims of a significant portion of German national elites. Nevertheless, Berlin officially criticized Macron’s statements and has shown willingness to enter into a strategic partnership with Biden Administration’s United States as a junior partner. However, even FRG’s current leadership understands the dangers of lack of strategic sovereignty in an era of America’s decline as the world policeman. Against the backdrop of a global economic crisis, US-EU relations are ineluctably drifting from a state of partnership to one of competition or even rivalry. In general, the first half of 2020 demonstrated the vital necessity of further development of European institutions.

The second half of 2020 was marked by fierce mass protests in Germany, France, Great Britain, and other European countries. The level of violence employed by both the protesters and law enforcement was unprecedented and is not comparable to the level of violence seen during protests in Russia, Belarus, and even Kirgizstan. Mainstream media did their best to depreciate and conceal the scale of what was happening. If the situation continues to develop in the same vein, there is every chance that in the future, a reality that can be described as a digital concentration camp may form in Europe.

World media, for its part, paid particular attention to the situation in Belarus, where protests have entered their fourth month following the August 9, 2020 presidential elections. Belarusian protests have been characterized by their direction from outside the country and choreographed nature. The command center of protest activities is officially located in Poland. This fact is in and of itself unprecedented in Europe’s contemporary history. Even during Ukraine’s Euromaidan, external forces formally refused to act as puppetmasters.

Belarus’ genuinely existing socio-economic problems have led to a rift within society that is now divided into two irreconcilable camps: proponents of reforms vs. adherents of the current government. Law enforcement forces which are recruited from among President Lukashenko’s supporters, have acted forcefully and occasionally harshly. Still, the number of casualties is far lower than, for example, in protests in France or United States.

Ukraine itself, where Western-backed “democratic forces” have already won, remains the main point of instability in Eastern Europe. The Zelenskiy administration came to power under slogans about the need to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine and rebuild the country. In practice, the new government continued to pursue the policy aimed at maintaining military tension in the region in the interests of its external sponsors and personal enrichment.

For the United States, 2020 turned out to be a watershed year for both domestic and foreign policy. Events of this year were a reflection of Trump Administration’s protectionist foreign policy and a national-oriented approach in domestic and economic policy, which ensured an intense clash with the majority of Washington Establishment acting in the interests of global capital.

In addition to the unresolved traditional problems, America’s problems were made worse by two crises, COVID-19 spread and BLM movement protests. They ensured America’s problems reached a state of critical mass.

One can and should have a critical attitude toward President Trump’s actions, but one should not doubt the sincerity of his efforts to turn the slogan Make America Great Again into reality. One should likewise not doubt that his successor will adhere to other values. Whether it’s Black Lives Matter or Make Global Moneymen Even Stronger, or Russia Must Be Destroyed, or something even more exotic, it will not change the fact America we’ve known in the last half century died in 2020. A telling sign of its death throes is the use of “orange revolution” technologies developed against inconvenient political regimes. This demonstrated that currently the United States is ruled not by national elites but by global investors to whom the interests of ordinary Americans are alien.

This puts the terrifying consequences of COVID-19 in a new light. The disease has struck the most vulnerable layers of US society. According to official statistics, United States has had about 20 million cases and over 330,000 deaths. The vast majority are low-income inhabitants of mega-cities. At the same time, the wealthiest Americans have greatly increased their wealth by exploiting the unfolding crisis for their own personal benefit. The level of polarization of US society has assumed frightening proportions. Conservatives against liberals, blacks against whites, LGBT against traditionalists, everything that used to be within the realm of public debate and peaceful protest has devolved into direct, often violent, clashes. One can observe unprecedented levels of aggression and violence from all sides.

In foreign policy, United States continued to undermine the international security system based on international treaties. There are now signs that one of the last legal bastions of international security, the New START treaty, is under attack. US international behavior has prompted criticism from NATO allies. There are growing differences of opinion on political matters with France and economic ones with Germany. The dialogue with Eastern Mediterranean’s most powerful military actor Turkey periodically showed a sharp clash of interests.

Against that backdrop, United States spent 2020 continuously increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea basin. Additional US forces and assets were deployed in direct proximity to Russia’s borders. The number of offensive military exercises under US leadership or with US participation has considerably increased.

In the Arctic, the United States is acting as a spoiler, unhappy with the current state of affairs. It aims to extend its control over natural resources in the region, establish permanent presence in other countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZ) through the use of the so-called “freedom of navigation operations” (FONOPs), and continue to encircle Russia with ballistic missile defense (BMD) sites and platforms.

In view of the urgent and evident US preparations to be able to fight and prevail in a war against a nuclear adversary, by defeating the adversary’s nuclear arsenal through the combination of precision non-nuclear strikes, Arctic becomes a key region in this military planning. The 2020 sortie by a force of US Navy BMD-capable AEGIS destroyers into the Barents Sea, the first such mission since the end of the Cold War over two decades ago, shows the interest United States has in projecting BMD capabilities into regions north of Russia’s coastline, where they might be able to effect boost-phase interceptions of Russian ballistic missiles that would be launched in retaliatory strikes against the United States. US operational planning for the Arctic in all likelihood resembles that for South China Sea, with only a few corrections for climate.

In Latin America, the year of 2020 was marked by the intensification of Washington efforts aimed at undermining the political regimes that it considered to be in the opposition to the existing world order.

Venezuela remained one of the main points of the US foreign policy agenda. During the entire year, the government of Nicolas Maduro was experiencing an increasing sanction, political and clandestine pressure. In May, Venezuelan security forces even neutralized a group of US mercenaries that sneaked into the country to stage the coup in the interests of the Washington-controlled opposition and its public leader Juan Guaido. However, despite the recognition of Guaido as the president of Venezuela by the US and its allies, regime-change attempts, and the deep economic crisis, the Maduro government survived.

This case demonstrated that the decisive leadership together having the support of a notable part of the population and working links with alternative global centers of power could allow any country to resist to globalists’ attacks. The US leadership itself claims that instead of surrendering, Venezuela turned itself into a foothold of its geopolitical opponents: China, Russia, Iran and even Hezbollah. While this evaluation of the current situation in Venezuela is at least partly a propaganda exaggeration to demonize the ‘anti-democratic regime’ of Maduro, it highlights parts of the really existing situation.

The turbulence in Bolivia ended in a similar manner, when the right wing government that gained power as a result of the coup in 2019 demonstrated its inability to rule the country and lost power in 2020. The expelled president, Evo Morales, returned to the country and the Movement for Socialism secured their dominant position in Bolivia thanks to the wide-scale support from the indigenous population. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that these developments in Venezuela and Bolivia would allow to reverse the general trend towards the destabilization in South America.

The regional economic and social turbulence is strengthened by the high level of organized crime and the developing global crisis that sharpened the existing contradictions among key global and regional players. This creates conditions for the intensification of existing conflicts. For example, the peace process between the FARC and the federal government is on the brink of the collapse in Colombia. Local sources and media accuse the government and affiliated militias of detentions and killings of leaders of local communities and former FARC members in violation of the existing peace agreement. This violence undermine the fragile peace process and sets conditions for the resumption of the armed struggle by FARC and its supporters. Mexico remains the hub for illegal migration, drug and weapon trafficking just on the border with the United States. Large parts of the country are in the state of chaos and are in fact controlled by violent drug cartels and their mercenaries. Brazil is in the permanent state of political and economic crisis amid the rise of street crime.

These negative tendencies affect almost all states of the region. The deepening global economic crisis and the coronavirus panic add oil to the flame of instability.

Countries of South America are not the only one suffering from the crisis. It also shapes relations between global powers. Outcomes of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and the global economic crisis contributed to the hardening of the standoff between the United States and China.

Washington and Beijing have insoluble contradictions. The main of them is that China has been slowly but steadily winning the race for the economic and technological dominance simultaneously boosting own military capabilities to defend the victory in the case of a military escalation. The sanction, tariff and diplomatic pressure campaign launched by the White House on China since the very start of the Trump Presidency is a result of the understanding of these contradictions by the Trump administration and its efforts to guarantee the leading US position in the face of the global economic recession. The US posture towards the South China Sea issues, the political situation in Hong Kong, human rights issues in Xinjiang, the unprecedented weapon sales to Taiwan, the support of the militarization of Japan and many other questions is a part of the ongoing standoff. Summing up, Washington has been seeking to isolate China through a network of local military alliances and contain its economic expansion through sanction, propaganda and clandestine operations.

The contradictions between Beijing and Washington regarding North Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs are a part of the same chain of events. Despite the public rhetoric, the United States is not interested in the full settlement of the Korea conflict. Such a scenario that may include the reunion of the North and South will remove the formal justification of the US military buildup. This is why the White House opted to not fulfill its part of the deal with the North once again assuring the North Korean leadership that its decision to develop its nuclear and missile programs and further.

Statements of Chinese diplomats and top official demonstrate that Beijing fully understands the position of Washington. At the same time, China has proven that it is not going to abandon its policies aimed at gaining the position of the main leading power in the post-unipolar world. Therefore, the conflict between the sides will continue escalating in the coming years regardless the administration in the White House and the composition of the Senate and Congress. Joe Biden and forces behind his rigged victory in the presidential election will likely turn back from Trump’s national-oriented economic policy and ‘normalize’ relations with China once again reconsidering Russia as Enemy #1. This will not help to remove the insoluble contradictions with China and reverse the trend towards the confrontation. However, the Biden administration with help from mainstream media will likely succeed in hiding this fact from the public by fueling the time-honored anti-Russian hysteria.

As to Russia itself, it ended the year of 2020 in its ordinary manner for the recent years: successful and relatively successful foreign policy actions amid the complicated economic, social and political situation inside the country. The sanction pressure, coronavirus-related restrictions and the global economic crisis slowed down the Russian economy and contributed to the dissatisfaction of the population with internal economic and social policies of the government. The crisis was also used by external actors that carried out a series of provocations and propaganda campaigns aimed at undermining the stability in the country ahead of the legislative election scheduled for September 2021. The trend on the increase of sanction pressure, including tapering large infrastructure projects like the Nord Stream 2, and expansion of public and clandestine destabilization efforts inside Russia was visible during the entire year and will likely increase in 2021. In the event of success, these efforts will not only reverse Russian foreign policy achievements of the previous years, but could also put in danger the existence of the Russian statehood in the current format.

Among the important foreign policy developments of 2020 underreported by mainstream media is the agreement on the creation of a Russian naval facility on the coast of the Red Sea in Sudan. If this project is fully implemented, this will contribute to the rapid growth of Russian influence in Africa. Russian naval forces will also be able to increase their presence in the Red Sea and in the area between the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman. Both of these areas are the core of the current maritime energy supply routes. The new base will also serve as a foothold of Russia in the case of a standoff with naval forces of NATO member states that actively use their military infrastructure in Djibouti to project power in the region. It is expected that the United States (regardless of the administration in the White House) will try to prevent the Russian expansion in the region at any cost. For an active foreign policy of Russia, the creation of the naval facility in Sudan surpasses all public and clandestine actions in Libya in recent years. From the point of view of protecting Russian national interests in the Global Oceans, this step is even more important than the creation of the permanent air and naval bases in Syria.

As well as its counterparts in Washington and Beijing, Moscow contributes notable efforts to the modernization of its military capabilities, with special attention to the strategic nuclear forces and hypersonic weapons. The Russians see their ability to inflict unacceptable damage on a potential enemy among the key factors preventing a full-scale military aggression against them from NATO. The United Sates, China and Russia are in fact now involved in the hypersonic weapon race that also includes the development of means and measures to counter a potential strike with hypersonic weapons.

The new war in Nagorno-Karabakh became an important factor shaping the balance of power in the South Caucasus. The Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc achieved a sweeping victory over Armenian forces and only the involvement of the Russian diplomacy the further deployment of the peacekeepers allowed to put an end to the violence and rescue the vestiges of the self-proclaimed Armenian Republic of Artsakh. Russia successfully played a role of mediator and officially established a military presence on the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan for the next 5 years. The new Karabakh war also gave an additional impulse in the Turkish-Azerbaijani economic and military cooperation, while the pro-Western regime in Armenia that expectedly led the Armenian nation to the tragedy is balancing on the brink of collapse.

The Central Asia traditionally remained one of the areas of instability around the world with the permanent threat of militancy and humanitarian crisis. Nonetheless, despite forecasts of some analysis, the year of 2020 did not become the year of the creation of ISIS’ Caliphate 2.0 in the region. An important role in preventing this was played by the Taliban that additionally to securing its military victories over the US-led coalition and the US-backed Kabul government, was fiercely fighting ISIS cells appearing in Afghanistan. The Taliban, which controls a large part of Afghanistan, was also legalized on the international scene by direct talks with the United States. The role of the Taliban will grow and further with the reduction of the US military presence.

While some media already branded the year of 2020 as one of the worst in the modern history, there are no indications that the year of 2021 will be any brighter or the global crises and regional instability will magically disappear by themselves. Instead, most likely 2020 was just a prelude for the upcoming global shocks and the acute standoff for markets and resources in the environment of censorship, legalized total surveillance, violations of human rights under ‘democratic’ and ‘social’ slogans’ and proxy wars.

The instability in Europe will likely be fueled by the increasing cultural-civilizational conflict and the new wave of newcomers that have acute ideological and cultural differences with the European civilization. The influx of newcomers is expected due to demographic factors and the complicated security, social situation in the Middle East and Africa. Europe will likely try to deal with the influx of newcomers by introducing new movement and border restrictions under the brand of fighting coronavirus. Nonetheless, the expected growth of the migration pressure will likely contribute to the negative tendencies that could blow up Europe from inside.

The collapse of the international security system, including key treaties limiting the development and deployment of strategic weapons, indicates that the new detente on the global scene will remain an improbable scenario. Instead, the world will likely move further towards the escalation scenario as at least a part of the current global leadership considers a large war a useful tool to overcome the economic crisis and capture new markets. Russia, with its large territories, rich resources, a relatively low population, seems to be a worthwhile target. At the same time, China will likely exploit the escalating conflict between Moscow and the US-led bloc to even further increase its global positions. In these conditions, many will depend on the new global order and main alliances within it that are appearing from the collapsing unipolar system. The United States has already lost its unconditional dominant role on the international scene, but the so-called multipolar world order has not appeared yet. The format of this new multipolar world will likely have a critical impact on the further developments around the globe and positions of key players involved in the never-ending Big Game.

The Power of Confusion

The Power of Confusion

December 30, 2020

By Jimmie Moglia for the Saker Blog

It now seems certain that we have a Jon Bidet for president. For if a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, a Biden, metaphorically speaking, by any other name still smells like a poorly maintained sanitary device, however many euphemisms the imagination may body forth out of the forms of things unknown.

The American election campaign with its arcane modalities, along with the contemporary pandemic narrative, and somehow functional to it, have revealed the progress of an inextricable confusion. Statistics, medicine, health, illness, science, opinion, belief, critique, criticism, freedom, law, crime, punishment, openness, censorship, liberty, compulsion, have lost their original meanings. And the amazed world by such amazing changes, no longer knows which is which.

There are ethical bombings, therapeutic missiles, democratic assassinations and humanitarian imperialism. Even the most perspicacious reasoner may be easily bewildered, while the mythical average citizen, lost in the mental labyrinth of Newspeak, feels as if he had stumbled into the utter darkness of a starless universe.

Still, looking at the whole as impartially as we can, it cannot be denied that confusion is the raw material of power.

The general conception of power describes it as a regime of asymmetric transactions involving a strong dealing with a weaker contractor. Disrespect for the laws means jail, failure to pay bills leads to extinction of service, non-payment for ‘protection’ results in the store being burned, etc. The basis of power is then a concrete threat with the consequent fear of the threatened.

If the relationship of meanings were so straightforward, the nature of power would not require further investigation. However, reality shows that he who doesn’t comply with the laws can incur penalties, but power may and can treat much worse him who tries to comply with them.

That power is based on fear is patently clear, but fear creates assuefaction and can also be rationalized. However, a rational analysis of power does not imply the acceptance that power is rational. On the contrary, nonsense and self-censorship represent a constant of its behavior and communications, leading to the conclusion that power is schizogenic and schizocratic, as a European philosopher has determined.

Examples. Ever since Reagan and Thatcher the operating economic concept has been the oxymoronic concept of expansion with austerity, meaning, in practice, gluttony at the top and hunger at the bottom. For capitalism likes deflation along with the pauperization of the unworthy crowd. But in a regime of constant stagnation who will pay the taxes?

Inter-imperialist and inter-capitalist conflicts may explain some inconsistencies we are witnessing – e.g. demonizing and threatening China while buying all that China can sell. But there is no such conflict when considering economic policies. If Trump really wanted to defend the most national capitalistic entities against transnational ones, what was the point of indiscriminately reducing taxes to all corporations, domestic and transnational?

The Supreme Court refused to examine the charges of massive fraud in the presidential elections, brought forth and demonstrated by the plaintiff. The reasoning, in layman’s terms, is that fraud was none of the Court’s business, even when it involves the actual future of the country – of whose laws, and therefore civilized existence the Supreme Court is the supreme arbiter. One reasonable conclusion is that the majority of the Supreme Court does not feel as powerful or secure as the supremacy implied in its appellation would suggest. In laymen’s terms some of the ‘supremes’ fear for their ass. The confused citizen wonders what is ‘supreme’ about the Supreme Court.

On the other hand power does not live by planning but by power, as if in a kind of blissful irresponsibility. Where power, for maximum effectiveness, includes confusion and nonsense. During my corporate days, I remember passing by rows of cubicles in a large office hall, one cubicle for each individual, veritable monuments to the unknown employee. In some of them the dweller had hanged a poster with the script, “If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”

And in terms of pure domination, nonsense pays off; for nonsense is more seductive than fear. US President Harry Truman is credited with the sentence summing up the principle of psycho-war, “if you cannot convince them, confuse them”. In reality power prefers to confuse rather than convince, since beliefs can change. Both fear-based domination and conviction-based consensus are uncertain and transient, while a confusional state can perpetuate itself indefinitely over time, establishing a sense of permanent loss and fragility and thus a lasting dependence. Covid-19 docet.

Another classical example. Communism in Russia died 30 years ago. And yet the US cabal sees Russia as the same threatening power of yonder years. The proverbial average citizen, more interested in the sexuality of royals and of show-people than in the actual world around him, will depend on the televisual ministry of truth for actual news, the shorter the better, leading to the average citizen’s assured and lasting dependence on lies.

Some psychopaths, though not being in a position of strength, can establish dominant relations over other people; this is achieved through a behavioral pattern where an attitude of giving an exaggerated importance to the other is alternated with an exactly opposite attitude, contempt and ridicule. By so dong the victim is persuaded that he lost the benevolence of the other because of some personal mistake. While fear can be rationalized, this confusional state, instead, leads to an uncritical identification with one’s aggressor.

The development of the Covid emergency demonstrates the principle. Power has alternated an exaggerated attention to the health and lives of citizens with callous disregard for their economic survival. Even the most sordid business connected to the emergency is presented to public opinion with a communications technique already described in literature. Power can be angry at you for harboring suspicion while, at the same time, it makes you feel that what you suspect is certain.

Hence the ordinary citizen today does not know what power wants from him. He strives to literally follow the most absurd rules, at times nonsensical, at times draconian, at times falsely permissive. Yet, the more he strives to comply, the more he is threatened with imminent new dangers (e.g. new strains of the same virus requiring more coercion and (?) new vaccines). In the end the situation dampens the desire for rebellion, while it reinforces, in the most part, the feeling of having something wrong within oneself. For a confusional state, therefore, creates more dependence than fear or consent.

Equally, a confusional state blocks the individual’s mind from perceiving the massive buffoonery of which he is the target. In this sense, and from the point of view of power, buffoons are a godsend – because they don’t understand what they are doing, believe everything which is in the domain of personal interest, know how to lie because their whole life is a dissimulation, and create enough confusion to disorient people and prevent the birth of a coordinated and widened opposition.

The instrumental use of the virus has been contradicted and exposed by many. Who are competent, illustrious people, credible on paper at least as the ensigns of the virus, and have provided mountains of evidence for an operation with horrible or at least questionable ends. Just to quote an example, during the last 30 years, the US government had to indemnify people damaged by vaccines for a total amount of 4.4 billion $. A proportionate indemnity applied for people equally damaged by vaccines in the UK. Yet, as it is widely known, Pfizer is legally exempted from compensating patients damaged by the vaccine.

As for the highly paid, highly visible and highly wrong ‘scientists’ pontificating on sundry viruses, they are living proof that no estimates are more in danger of erroneous calculations then those by which a man computes the force of his own genius.

Regarding the concurrent goals of the pandemic, the operation is not even hidden, so much so that the term ‘The Great Reset” (attributed to the Caliban-looking Karl Schwab, mastermind of the World Economic Forum) has almost become part of the common parlance. Yet, such is the mental and moral armor that confusion, conformism and fear have instilled into most, that the extraordinary conjuncture (virus-great reset) is either overlooked at large or mostly relegated to the limbo of so-called conspiracy theories.

From such a perspective, the parallels between the American elections and the Covid phenomenon are more meaningful than random. Can there actually be a straight connection? As long as the inquirer is not asked to resort to crude generalizations and vulgar simplifications such as a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ he may be allowed to proceed. For history (and indeed life) can be compared to a Byzantine mosaic, composed of an apparently endless number of tiles. A single independent tile could not possibly suggest or enable to imagine the whole. Yet the mosaic would lose its completeness if that tile were missing.

I will therefore collect some ‘tiles’ of the “Great Reset,” which encompasses events intrinsically connected, namely the fraudulent recent presidential elections, the pandemic as a means for crowd and mass control, the practical elimination of the middle class, the fight against Western Christian civilization, the ethnic replacement in Europe and America of the white race via mass third-world in-migration, corresponding to the final stage of the Kalergi plan.

Known to many, I will just repeat here the end goal of the plan, the substitution of the white Western ethnicity with a Negroid race via miscegenation. Images of men on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs will give the idea of how the “new European” will look, writes Kalergi. And ruling over this new inferior race will be the Jews, the best of whom will have, in the meantime, intermarried with the best and most successful whites, to amend some racial characteristics among the chosen people, produced by millennial intertribal marriages.

The previous paragraph may sound anti-Semitic were it not an actual quote from the book “Praktischer Idealismus” published by Kalergy, the recognized founder of the European Union, whose work was massively supported by Jewish bankers both in Europe and America.

Still, all this could be thought of as a bold hypothesis, were it not confirmed by palpable evidence that only willful mental blindness could ignore or contradict.

Just one example among many, concurrent with the elections and the pandemic, the New York Times, under ownership of the chosen people since 1895, carrier of the ‘official’ political American opinion, and best known newspaper in the world, published an article by Roger Cohen titled, “Trump’s Last Stand for White America.” (Oct 16, 2020) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/16/opinion/trump-2020.html

Yet, historically, we are approaching the end of a project whose roots sink into what for us is a bare faint remembrance of things past. Still, there is no shortness of evidence. For example, thus writes Emperor Claudius, in 41 AD, “I command the Jews not to agitate for anything beyond that which they have hitherto enjoyed, and not from henceforth, as if they lived in two cities, to send two embassies — a thing which never occurred before now – nor to intrude themselves into games and elections, but to profit by what they possess and to enjoy in a city, not their own, an abundance of all good things, and not to introduce or invite others of their race who make voyages to Alexandria from Syria or Egypt, thus compelling me to conceive the worst suspicions; otherwise I will by all means take vengeance upon them, as fomenting a general plague upon the whole world.”

Claudius made this proclamation, in response to riots between Greeks and Jews in Alexandria. He thought that peace in the city would be restored if the Jews ceased certain negative behaviors. Meaning agitating for heightened and special privileges (“to agitate for anything beyond that which they have hitherto enjoyed”); attempting to circumvent established practices of representative politics (“to send two embassies — a thing which never occurred before now”); attempting to intrude into, and disrupt, the cultural life of the Alexandrians (“to intrude themselves into games and elections”); attempting to manipulate the demographic balance of the city (“to introduce or invite Jews who make voyages to Alexandria from Syria or Egypt”); and finally, abusing and exploiting the advantage of their diaspora condition to cause problems internationally (“fomenting a general plague upon the whole world”).

Next, it may be instructive to compare the pronouncement of Emperor Claudius with the following very recent speech by the good Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, which some have titled, “God will bury America.” It is a transcription but the original can be found here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkuofEh-5c8&feature=youtu.be

“The Jews run the show in the world. Not because they want to but because that’s what God wants. And it’s written in the Torah that the non-Jew admit that this is the word of God. And if they did not admit what is the proof?

But in the Torah it says that in every nation you, the Jews, will be always the highlight of the place. Even though we are only a small part of the community compared to America, 300 million Americans, 5 million Jews, no comparison. But the Jews are everywhere. All the systems of Trump, Jews. All of the system of the Sleepy Joe, Jews. Obama? Jews. Everyone around them Jews, conservative Jews, “Habat knit (?)” Jews. All somehow, same thing was in Spain, same thing was in many different countries. When a country hosts the Jews, and the Jews live in that country with freedom, God blesses this place thanks to the Jews. As soon as they torture them, or kill them, or throw them out of the country, the end of the empire shortly comes to them one by one.

The Roman empire, when it started with (messing with) the Jews that was the end. After the Jews no more Roman Empire. The Greeks? Same story. Babylonia disappeared. Persia (inaudible) in Iran modern days.

The Iranian Shah was very good to the Jews. Iran was the fourth powerful country in the world, in his time. After Russia, America, I think Germany. Iran, who was selling oil, controlling the market. Iran was an empire several years ago. The Jews ran away when Khamenei came and Iran went back in time 1000 years. The end of Iran came. Germany, they killed the Jews. It used to be a massive empire – they are now one more country, nothing special. Spain, same thing. the Jews were in power, then they did the Spanish Inquisition. Spain and Portugal? There is nothing left from them. Russia… there were many hundreds of thousands of Jews there. Russia was a powerful empire. The Jews left Russia, the USSR collapsed. the Jews in America have assimilated and have nothing to worry. But the Jews that are religious will have to get away within a year or two or five – all have to run away from here. Once we would leave this place Hashem (God) will bury America. That’s what is going to happen. Not because I am some kind of a prophet. I am not giving you any prophecy, I am just describing to you a divine formula. The chosen people when they (the locals) are going to be good and nice to them I (God) will bless you from that place.”

Many have described but relatively few have given logical explanations for the overwhelming power that Zionists hold in the countries they are hosts of. Recently I heard one that, in my view, merits consideration. It goes as follows. Like any other group or people or nation, Jews contain a criminal element. But their criminal element is exceptional and uniquely different from any other criminal entity, because of their historicity as a global travelling group. This always gives the criminal element an advantage as long as they operate in the criminal ground, and that’s why they occupy positions of power and control. As the good rabbi said, “All the systems of Trump, Jews. All of the system of the Sleepy Joe, Jews. Obama? Jews. Everyone around them Jews, conservative Jews, “Habat knit (?)” Jews. All somehow, same thing was in Spain, same thing was in many different countries.”

It’s not because of just skill, it’s because of coercion, bribery, blackmail, corruption and deceit that many of these people end up in positions of power. The host nation is not capable of resisting them once they are brought into the pen, when the wolf has been allowed among the sheep.

Joe Bidet is a ‘Catholic’ sheep who excels at applying his tongue with gusto to the buttocks of his masters. Besides, 30 pieces of silver will buy more than one Judas. In various occasions he has defined himself an ardent Zionist. There is no depth of flattery he did not resort to. As when he told one of the many Zionist organizations in the country that, “The Jews have been major contributors to the success of America.”

In this context, it may be interesting to examine an extract from one of his very recent declarations to an audience of African Americans.

Biden said he wants to appeal to Trump’s 75 million voters but not by “giving them anything.” He repeatedly drew parallels between white Trump supporters and the Ku Klux Klan, and further suggested he was planning to use the bully pulpit to harass white Trump supporters for their “racism” as though they’re KKK members.

He also said he got a call from the Pope to congratulate him on his victory and the Pope told him that “the most important thing you have to do is to deal with racism.”

As a side note, Pope Bergoglio said that migrants are ‘God’, that European must miscegenate because the Madonna was a mulatto. And as a symbolic sign of a more-than-symbolic subservience of the Catholic church to the New World Order, the most recent Nativity Scene in St. Peter’s square was made up of Startrek characters. And in the Nativity Scenes of some Italian churches Joseph and Mary wear anti-Covid masks. It may be more colorful than meaningful but many Catholics openly call Bergoglio the “Antichrist.”

Biden talked about the deluge of biracial couples in commercials as evidence of progress and an indicator of where society is heading“Fifteen years ago could you turn on the television and see few commercials being biracial.”

“You want to know where society’s going?” Biden said“Watch entertainment, watch the profit motive.”

“Why are these commercials, so many of them biracial? The young generation is changing, they’re demanding more, they don’t come with the baggage — maybe 10, 20, 25 percent of them are pure racists, who knows — but the vast majority, the vast majority, are not at all (as) when I was coming up.”

It was interesting to hear Biden talking so forthrightly. Unlike Trump, he’s coming with plans (read, those of his masters). Unfortunately, they are disgusting and, as he said, “This country is doomed” (meaning, unless it opens the border to the third world and whites miscegenate).

Trump did much to promote Zionist objectives, including the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state and of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory, the assassination of eminent and respected Iranian leaders, the acquiescence in considering ISIS a ‘terrorist’ organization – whereas it is/was but a Saudi setup with strong Israeli participation. Yet it is astonishing that Zion did not find it sufficient – maybe short of a public circumcision, possibly performed by the aforementioned Rabbi Mizrachi.

Given Biden’s plans, the pandemic is a perfect tool of confusion and a tile in the mosaic of the Kalergi plan. As well as a perfect test of how much and how far elites can go in (effectively) emasculating entire populations, preventing or eliminating the risk of upheavals – in the style of the now-all-but-forgotten Gilets Jaunes. For the pandemic has brought the threat – no matter whether real or narrated – to the biological level of pure existence. A state to which attempts are made to reduce us, so as to erase the resistance and the consciousness that were beginning to emerge.

In summary, if multinational, pharmaceutical and banking cartels make up the laws, if America accepts the verdict of falsified elections (which means accepting the death of representation), if Europe and America are driven by lobbies and cartels still seeking all sorts of hegemonies, then we live in a perfect tyranny, because it is a tyranny that successfully hides itself.

Finally, the present is a fleeting moment, the past is no more and our prospect of futurity is dark and doubtful. But we think, therefore we are, and thought is still free from the extant censorship, unthinkable just a few decades ago.

We can take the view that so long as Heaven has condemned us to suffer, patience is a virtue. On the other hand, we can hope and work at creating the anger required to destroy tyranny. For, as Thomas Aquinas said, “The absence of anger is a sign of the absence of reason.”

Geopolitical Tendencies of the Last Six Years

Geopolitical Tendencies of the Last Six Years

December 30, 2020

Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog

1) China, Russia, and Iran – confronted with Western aggressions – develop their strength and collaboration

In my eyes, the most important evolution in the last six years is that now, the leading forces are China, Russia, and Iran, and no more Western hegemonism under the direction of the USA. China, Russia, and Iran have not only fended off different Western attacks, but were also able to strike back. Moreover, the economical and military development in these countries is better than that in the USA.

The political leadership in the three countries is stable and during the last years, it has become completely obvious that each of the three is much more intelligent than any leadership in North America or in Western Europe. One may also say that the three countries use the intelligence of their peoples in a much more coherent manner than Western countries. Moreover, in China and Russia in particular, new important laws have strengthened the inner stability.

Take the Ukrainian crisis as the first example. After the Maidan putsch, the Crimea went back to Russia. And in the east of the Ukraine, the Kiev’s troops were severely beaten, in the first months of 2015. Subsequently, the West took sanctions against Russia, but this had not a big impact on Russia. Finally, the result was a stronger orientation of Russia towards Asia, in particular towards China. During the last year, the West tried to use Belarus and the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan against Russia. But Russia had no real problem to ward off these dangers.

After the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015, an important part of the sanctions against Iran was lifted by the UNO in January 2016 (the UNO sanctions with respect to arms were only lifted in 2020). But the USA imposed new sanctions in 2018, together with the so-called maximum pressure. While this clearly had negative consequences for the Iranian economy, the USA could not achieve any important goal. Even the murder of Soleimani one year ago could not weaken Iran, quite the contrary. Iran was able to openly strike US military bases in Iraq, and the USA had to accept this shame without risking an answer.

There were various anti-Chinese campaigns, mainly organized by Anglo-Saxon countries. In particular, there were the riots in Hong Kong. However, China was not really disturbed and during 2020, the riots were brought to an end so that the model „one country, two systems“ prevailed. Moreover, China was able to strengthen the military presence in the key region of the South Chinese Sea, without worsening the relations with the neighboring countries. Beijing has also made very clear that any step of Taiwan in the direction of a declaration of independence is a red line, not to be crossed. All countries in East and South-East Asia are more and more ready to accept the emergence of China as a great power.

The common interests of China, Russia, and Iran with respect to Western aggressions have led to a much closer cooperation between the three countries, including military cooperation. However, each of the three keeps the own identity; their model of cooperation is much better than that of the European Union. They are well prepared for the so-called Asian century.

A good illustration of the changes in the last six years is provided by Turkey. Objectively speaking, this is an important country. Turkey uses a rather ambitious and dangerous politics and is a member of NATO. Five year ago, Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft and the two sides were near an open military conflict. Now, the relations between Turkey and Russia are significantly more rational and better under control than the relations between Turkey and USA as well as the relations between Turkey and the European Union. Moreover, the relations between Turkey and Iran are now quite solid.

2) Progress in Middle East

In 2015, three major events related to the Middle East took place; they remained of crucial importance until today. In March, the Saudi aggression war against Yemen began; in July, the nuclear deal about Iran was signed; in September, Russia started the direct military support for the war against terrorism in Syria.

In these six years, the situation has very much evolved; the Middle East remains the region with the fastest changes. There, the geopolitical conflicts are at its hottest. The terrorists of Daesh and Al Qaeda have been essentially beaten, in Syria and Iraq. Turkey, USA, and Israel had to intervene much more directly in order to keep the terrorism in Syria alive; this includes the direct stealing of the Syrian oil (before, this was done by Daesh). Big parts of Syria have been liberated. The Russian military commitment was a great success and has produced broad respect for the Russian army and the Russian arms.

In the Yemen war, Saudi Arabia is now loosing. They already lost some allies of the global south which were bought by Saudi money. Possibly, Israel and USA will henceforth take part in the war more directly, but as in Syria, this can only delay the end of the war, but not change the outcome.

Despite many attacks and complots, Hezbollah in Lebanon has noticeably gained in strength. Even if it is not yet fully obvious, Israel has mainly lost the military superiority in the region. Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Ansarullah (in Yemen) have got too strong, and also in Iraq, the patriotic forces are quite solid now. These developments may be a reason for the fact that Israel is not able to install a stable government despite different elections.

During the last four years, when Trump was president, the US aggressions were concentrated on the Middle East; understandably, this region is satisfied about the departure of Trump. However, the USA have not obtained much, Trump’s Middle East politics were a failure.

3) Internal crisis of the West: nationalism versus Western hegemonism

The rich Western countries have lost some of their economical power and they can offer less to their peoples. There is an increasing number of people who are neglected by Western hegemonism, I call them the forgotten classes. The latter have not yet found an own political identity (may-be with the exception of the Yellow Vests in France). On the other hand, this development has provoked the creation of new nationalistic movements in nearly all rich Western countries. In many of these countries, these new movements have become the main political opposition to the Western hegemonism. This does not mean that these movements are progressive. But objectively speaking, they have important positive aspects. This fact is often neglected by left wing oriented people in Western countries.

The leading figures of these nationalistic movements are quite different. Some came from traditional political parties such as Blocher (Switzerland), Trump (USA), Johnson (UK); others have created new political parties. Some have important economical power, examples are Berlusconi (Italy), Blocher (Switzerland), or Trump (USA). Some are quite close to Zionists, for example Trump (USA) or Salvini (Italy). The relation of the leading figures to the forgotten classes is quite varying. Personally, I would say that Marine Le Pen (France) is the most sympathetic one – while she is certainly not the most talented politician among the leaders of the new nationalistic movements.

The year 2016 saw two major political sensations, namely the vote for Brexit in the UK and the election of Trump in the USA. In both countries, the new nationalistic movements won, due to the support of the forgotten classes. The Brexit vote was confirmed by the clear election win of Johnson in UK in December 2019.

In most Western countries, the traditional political forces, which support Western hegemonism, have big difficulties in accepting the rise of the new nationalist movements. They intend to completely defeat these movements. They are not able to see that these movements are „fed“ by the forgotten classes and that the latter are a product of an objective situation and cannot be defeated. Therefore, the internal crisis of the West will continue.

4) Latin America, Africa, India

Latin America saw important developments in the last years. Generally speaking, this region is still in the phase of strategic defensive with respect to Western hegemonism. However, the strength of the anti-imperialist forces has somewhat stabilized. Despite major Western attacks against Venezuela, the elected government could resist. The same is true for Cuba or Nicaragua. And the putsch in Bolivia in 2019 was „corrected“ in 2020 quite quickly. These developments are supported by the increasing relations between the countries of Latin America with China, Russia, and Iran. Setbacks are still possible, if not probable, but the general tendency goes towards a solid implantation of the anti-imperialist camp.

Politically and economically speaking, the weight of the African continent remains small. Western countries and terrorist movements are disturbing the positive developments. The illusion that regional conflicts can be resolved by extern interference, is still quite strong. A recent example is Morocco which blundered into this trap, thinking that the USA and Israel will „help“ with the annexation of the Western Sahara. In general, improvements in Africa are still quite slow.

India is one of the countries which went in a negative direction during the last years. The Indian government had plenty of opportunities, but they took decisions which led to increasing conflicts with neighboring Asian countries such as China and Pakistan. India has also refused to participate in the new RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) of 15 countries (10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand). Instead, India has reinforced relations with the USA, but, as experience shows, this kind of relations is built on sand. It is not by accident that the internal opposition in India against the government is growing.

5) Western Europe disappoints

In June 2015, I restarted writing political articles. This might be the reason why I speak here of the last six years. During this period, I made a number of judgements and predictions. And paradoxically, my biggest errors were with respect to Western Europe (where I live). I had the tendency to be too optimistic about Western Europe. I expected that they would develop politics which are more independent and more related to the geopolitical realities.

However, the leading classes in Western Europe are very stubborn. They are not at all ready to break with their colonial past. They continue to dream of regaining the paradise of global domination. Moreover, their big economic companies are very much dependent on the US economy. So, in each political crisis, they take backward decisions. Examples are Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, Hong Kong riots and sanctions against China, the Syria war against terrorism and sanctions against Syria, the recognition of the US puppet Guaido in Venezuela, the compliance with the aggression against Yemen, with the US sanctions against Iran, with the murder of Soleimani, of al-Muhandis (Iraq), and of Fakhrizadeh (Iran).

Iran’s Khamenei has always warned against making confidence in Western Europe, and he was right. For the time being, leaders in Western Europe exceedingly overrate themselves and keep their utterly unrealistic illusions. It seems that Australia is on a similar path.

Outlook for 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has somewhat frozen the regional and geopolitical conflicts. At the same time, these conflicts were exacerbated. But this is barely visible. The states were very much occupied with their internal situation.

This might continue for some months in 2021. But finally, it will be impossible to contain the conflicts. Quite chaotic developments have to be expected. In this context, analyzing the tendencies of the last years should be useful in order to keep some orientation.

Update : Transcript Added : A Hard Look at Rent and Rent Seeking with Michael Hudson & Pepe Escobar

December 28, 2020

Update : Transcript Added : A Hard Look at Rent and Rent Seeking with Michael Hudson & Pepe Escobar

Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar discuss rent and rent-seeking, i.e., unproductive economic activity, in the US and China mainly but including the Russian, Iranian and Brazilian economies.

In the first 15 minutes, an overview from Michael Hudson explains what happened in the US economy once jobs and manufacturing were offshored to mainly China.  He proposes that even if China did not exist, the US economy has been changed to the extent that it is almost impossible to change back to a productive economy without material changes in the economic model.

Pepe keeps the conversation flowing quickly with incisive questions.  The two esteemed gentlemen take a look at the Chinese view on a possible Biden administration and how the military hawks in Washington could be countered.   Outlining the ‘conflict of systems’ between the US and China, Michael Hudson explains the thinking of the Pentagon and paying ‘protection money’ historically to fund oligarchies.  It is a ‘war between systems’, Hudson explains with the thinking being:  “If only China did not export to us, we could reindustrialize.”

“It’s over”: says Hudson, because “we’ve painted ourselves into such a debt corner.  So much money flows to the top 5% that there is no money for investment, no money for growth.”

Hudson explains the concept of capitalism, how it was conceived to work against neo-liberalism, and how it has changed to systemic support for rentier economics.

A wealth of detail follows, around fictitious debt and wealth creation.   Michael discusses the ‘brainwashing’ of Russia vis a vis economic policy and central bank to end up in a position where Russia was paying 100% interest for years under American advisors and privatized rentiers, “a bunch of gangsters.”   Very interesting is the discussion on how the perpetrators, the leading university of the US in the destruction and looting of Russia, could not be brought to a court.

“You don’t need an army to destroy a country any longer.  All you need to do is to teach it American economics.”  Michael Hudson

A question from Pepe regarding the economies of North East Asia, South East Asia, the Asia Crisis and currently further integration with Russia, resulted in this very cogent quote from Michael Hudson.

“The current mode of warfare is to conquer the brains of a country, to shape how people think.  If you can twist their view into unreality economics, to make them think you are there to help them and not to take money out of them, then you’ve got them hooked.  You need to lend them money, and then crash it.”  Michael Hudson.

The conversation ends with an extensive question from Pepe regarding the biggest myth regarding Belt and Road, the supposed ‘debt trap’.  The difference in systems, non-rentier, and rentier, debt, and neo-liberalism again is illustrated in a crystal clear fashion.

Transcript : 

December 16th, 2020

Henry George School of Social Science

Alanna: So, let’s formally start. Once we start to record Ibrahim is going to introduce the Henry George school and welcome everybody then I’m going to introduce from the bios; Michael and Pepe and then Michael will start with rent and rent seeking those who have comments or questions could put that in chat and then we’ll go to the chat at some point.

Ibrahima: Welcome, my name is Ibrahima Drame and I’m the director of education at the Henry George school of Social Science it’s a great honor to have you with us today for this joint webinar co-organized with the International Union for Land Value Taxation with two great thinkers, professor Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar to discuss rent and rent seeking. I’d like to thank Michael and Pepe for kindly accepting to share their insights and of course our good friend Alanna Hartzok co-founder of Earth Right Institute, she will be moderating this session.

So, before I hand it over to Alanna, I’d like to ask all attendees to keep their microphones muted until we open the Q & A in the meantime you are free to use the chat and please do so responsibly. Alanna please go ahead and introduce our speakers.

Alanna: Okay yes thank you so much to Michael and Pepe for joining us and having this conversation I know that you two have admired each other’s work and writings for many many years so this is your first time to actually, talk together so I’m going to introduce you both from your bios.

Michael Hudson is an American economist professor of economics at the university of Missouri Kansas City and a researcher at the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College he’s a former wall street analyst political consultant commentator and journalist. He identifies himself as a classical economist. Michael is the author of J is for Junk Economics, Killing the Host, the Bubble and Beyond, Super Imperialism subtitled the Economic Strategy of American Empire, Trade Development and foreign debt and the myth of aid among others his books have been published translated into Japanese, Chinese, German, Spanish and Russian.

Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is a correspondent editor at large at Asia Times and columnist for consortium news Washington dc and strategic culture Moscow since the mid-1980s he’s lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in London Paris, Milan los Angeles, Singapore Bangkok. He has extensively covered Pakistan Afghanistan, Central Asia to China, Iran, Iraq and the wider middle east pepe is the author of Globalistan – How the Globalized world is dissolving into liquid war red zone blues, A Snapshot of Baghdad during the surge he was contributing editor to the empire and the crescent and tuto in 03:09 vendita in italy and his last two books are empire of chaos and 2030. Pepe is also associated with the Paris-based European academy of geopolitics when not on the road he lives between Sao Paulo, Paris and Bangkok so we’ll have Michael begin now then he’s going to describe what uh the meaning is of rent and rent seeking and we’ll just take it from there please put comments and questions in chat thank you let’s go.

Michael Hudson: Well, I’m honored to be here on the same show with Pepe and discuss our mutual concern. And I think you have to frame the whole issue that China is thriving, and the West has reached the end of the whole 75-year expansion it had since 1945.

So, there was an illusion that America is de-industrializing because of competition from China. And the reality is there is no way that America can re-industrialize and regain its export markets with the way that it’s organized today. Financialized and privatized and if China didn’t exist. You’d still have the rust belt rusting out. You’d still have American industry not being able to compete abroad simply because the cost structure is so high in the United States.

The wealth is no longer made here by industrializing. It’s made financially, mainly by making capital gains. Rising prices for real estate or for stocks and for bonds.  In the last nine months, since the coronavirus came here, the top 1% of the U S economy grew by $1 trillion. It’s been a windfall for the 1%. The stock market is way up, the bond market is up, he real estate market is up while the rest of the economy is going down. Despite the tariffs that Trump put on, Chinese imports, trade with China is going up because we’re just not producing materials.

America doesn’t make its own shoes. It doesn’t make its own nuts and bolts or fasteners, it doesn’t make industrial things anymore because If money is to be made off an industrial company it’s to buy and sell the company, not to make loans to increase the company’s production. New York City where I live used to be an industrial city and, the industrial buildings, the mercantile buildings have all been gentrified into high-priced real estate and the result is that Americans have to pay so much money on education, rent and medical care that if they got all of their physical needs, their food, their clothing, all the goods and services for nothing, they still couldn’t compete with foreign labor because of all of the costs that they have to pay that are essentially called rent-seeking.

Housing in the United States now absorbs about 40% of the average worker’s paycheck. There’s a 15% taken off the top of paychecks for pensions, Social Security and for Medicare. Further medical insurance adds more to the paycheck, income taxes and sales taxes add about another 10%. Then you have student loans and bank debt. So basically, the American worker can only spend about one third of his or her income on buying the goods and services they produce. All the rest goes into the fire sector, the finance insurance, and real estate sector and other monopolies.

And essentially, we became what’s called a rent-seeking economy, not a productive economy. So, when people in Washington talk about American capitalism versus Chinese socialism this is confusing the issue. What kind of capitalism are we talking about? America used to have industrial capitalism in the 19th century. That’s how it got richer originally,but now it’s moved away from industrial capitalism towards finance capitalism. And what that means is that the mixed economy that made America rich. The government would invest in education and infrastructure and transportation and provide these at low costs so that the employers didn’t have to pay labor more to afford high financialized and privatized costs of living.

All of this has been transformed over the last hundred years. And we’ve moved away from the ethic of what was industrial capitalism. Before, the idea of capitalism in the 19th century – from Adam Smith to Ricardo, to John Stuart Mill to Marx – was very clear. Marx stated it quite clearly – Capitalism was revolutionary: It was to get rid of the landlord class. It was to get rid of the rentier class. It was to get rid of the banking class essentially, and just bear all the costs that were unnecessary for production, because how did England and America and Germany gain their markets?

They gained their markets basically by the government picking up a lot of the costs of the economy. The government in America provided low-cost education, not student debt. It provided transportation at subsidized prices. It provided basic infrastructure at low cost. And so, government infrastructure was considered a fourth factor of production.

And if you read what the business schools in the late 19th century taught like Simon Patten at the Wharton School, it’s very much like socialism. In fact, it’s very much like what China is doing. And in fact, China is following in the last 30 or 40 years pretty much the same way of getting rich that America followed.

It had its government fund basic infrastructure. It provides, low-cost education. It invests in high speed railroads and airports, in the building of cities. So, the government bears most of the costs and, that means that employers don’t have to pay workers enough to pay a student loan debt. They don’t have to pay workers enough to pay enormous rent such as you have in the United States.  They don’t have to pay workers to save for a pension fund, to pay the pension later on[1]. And most of all the Chinese economy doesn’t really have to pay a banking class because banking is the most important public utility of all.  Banking is what China has kept in the hands of government and Chinese banks don’t lend for the same reasons that American banks lend.

80% of American bank loans are mortgage loans to real estate and the effect of loosening loan standards and increasing the market for real estate is to push up the cost of living, push up the cost of housing. So, Americans have to pay more and more money for their housing, whether they’re renters or they’re buyers, in which case the rent is for paying mortgage interest.

So, all of this cost structure has been built into the economy. China’s been able pretty much, to avoid all of this, because its objective in banking is not to make a profit and interest, not to make capital gains and speculation. It creates money to fund actual means of production to build factories, to build research and development, to build transportation facilities, and to build infrastructure. Banks in America don’t lend for that kind of thing.

They only lend against collateral that’s already in place, because they won’t make a loan if it’s not backed by collateral. Well, China creates money through its public banks to create capital, to create the means of production. So, you have a diametric opposite philosophy of how to develop between the United States and China.

The United States has decided not to gain wealth by actually investing in means of production and producing goods and services, but in financial ways. China is gaining wealth and the old-fashioned way actually by producing it. And whether you call this, industrial capitalism or a state capitalism or a state socialism or Marxism, it basically follows the same logic of real economics, the real economy, not the financial overhead.  So you have China operating as a real economy, increasing its production, becoming the workshop of the world as England used to be called. And America trying to draw in foreign resources, live off of foreign resources, live by trying to make money by investing in the Chinese stock market or now, moving investment banks into China and making loans to China, not in actual industrial-capitalism ways.

So, you could say that America has gone beyond industrial capitalism, and they call it the post-industrial society, but you could call it the neo-feudal society. You could call it the neo-rentier society, or you could call it debt peonage. But it’s not industrial capitalism.

And in that sense, there’s no rivalry between China and America. These are different systems going their own way. I better let the Pepe pick it up from there.

Pepe Escobar: Okay. Thank you, Michael, this is brilliant. And you did it in less than 15 minutes. You told the whole story in 15 minutes. Well, my journalistic instinct is immediately to start questions to Michael. So, this is exactly what I’m gonna do now. I think it is much better to basically illustrate some points of what Michael just said, comparing the American system, which has finance capitalism essentially with industrial capitalism that is in effect in China. Let me try to start with a very concrete and straight to the point question, Michael.

Okay. let’s says that more or less, if we want to summarize it, basically they try to tax the nonproductive rentier class. So, this would be the Chinese way to distribute wealth, right? Sifting through the Chinese economic literature, there is a very interesting concept, which is relatively new, correct me if I wrong, Michael, in China, which they call stable investment. So stable investment, according to the Chinese would be to issue special bonds as extra capital in fact, to be invested in infrastructure building all across China and, and they, choose these projects in what they call weak areas and weak links. So probably in some of the inner provinces, or probably in some parts of Tibet or Xingjian for instance. So, this is a way to invest in the real economy and in real government investment projects.

Right? So, my question in fact, is does this system create extra local debt, coming directly from this financing from Beijing. Is this a good recipe for sustainable development, the Chinese way and the recipe that they could expand to other parts of the global South?

Michael: Well, this is a big problem that they’re discussing right now. The localities, especially rural China, (and China is still largely rural) only cover about half of their working budget from taxation. So, they have a problem. How are they going to get the balance of the money? Well, there is no official revenue sharing between the federal government and its state banks and the localities.

So, the localities can’t simply go to central government and say, give us more money. The government lets the localities be very independent. And it is sort of the “let a hundred flowers bloom” concept. They’ve let each locality just go its own way, but the localities have run a big deficit.

What do they do?  Well in the United States they would issue bonds on which New York is about to default. But in China, the easiest way for the localities to make money, is unfortunately to do something like Chicago did. They will sell their tax rights for the next 75 years for current money now.

So, a real estate developer will come in and say; look we will give you the next seventy-five years of tax on this land, because we want to build projects on this (a set of buildings). So, what this means is that now the cities have given away all their source of rent.

Let me show you the problem is what Indiana and Chicago did. Chicago also was very much like China’s countryside cities. So, it sold parking meters and its sidewalks to a whole series of Wall Street investors, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Fund for seventy-five years. And that meant that for 75 years, this Wall Street consortium got to control the parking meters.

So, they put up the parking meters all over Chicago raised the price of parking, raised the cost of driving to Chicago. And if Chicago would have a parade and interrupt parking, then Chicago has to pay, the Abu Dhabi fund and Wall Street company, what it would have made anyway. And this became such an awful disaster that finally Wall Street had to reverse the deal and undo it because it was giving privatization a bad name here.  The same thing happened in Indiana.

Indiana was running a deficit and it decided to sell its roads to a Wall Street investment firm to make a toll road. The toll on the Indiana turnpike was so high that drivers began to take over the side roads. That’s the problem if you sell future tax revenues in advance.

Now what China and the localities there are discussing is that we’ve already, given the real estate tax at very low estimates to the commercial developers, so what do we do? Well, what I’ve advised them to do, Alanna didn’t say it, but I’ve been a professor of economics at the Peking University, School of Marxist studies for three years, and I’ve had discussions with Central Committee members. I also have an honorary position at Wuhan University. We’ve discussed how China can put an added tax for all of the valuable land, that’s gone up. How can it be done to let the cities collect this tax? Our claim is that the cities, in selling these tax rights for 75 years, have sold what in Britain would be called ground rent. i.e. what’s paid to the landed aristocracy and over and above that there’s the market rent. So, China should pass a market rent tax over and above the ground rent tax to reflect the current value. And there they’re thinking of, well, do we say that this is a capital gain in the land? Well, it’s not really a capital gain until you sell the land, but it’s value. It’s the valuation of the capital. And they’re looking to do whether they should just say that this is the market rent tax over and above the flat tax that has been paid in advance, or it’s a land tax on the capital gain for land.

Now, all of this requires that there be a land map of the whole country. And they are just beginning to create such a land map as a basis for how you calculate how much the rent there is.  What I found in China is something very strange. A few years ago, in Beijing, they had the first, international Marxist conference where I was a main speaker and I was talking about Marx’s discussion of the history of rent theory in volume two and volume three of Capital where Marx discusses all of the classical economics that led up to his view; Adam Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, John Stuart Mill, and Marx’s Theories of Surplus Value was really the first history economic thought that was written, although it wasn’t published until after he died. Well, you could see that there was a little bit of discomfort with some of the Marxists at the conference. And so, they invited for the next time my colleague David Harvey to come and talk about Marxism in the West.

Well, David gave both the leading and the closing speech of the conference and said, you’ve got to go beyond volume one of Capital. Volume I was what Marx wrote as his addition to, classical economics saying that there was exploitation in industrial employment of labor as well as rent seeking and then he said, now that I’ve done my introduction here, let me talk about how capitalism works in Volumes II and III. Volumes II and III are all about rent and finance and David Harvey has published a book on Volume III of Capital and his message to Peking University and the second Marxist conference was – you’ve got to read volumes II, and III.

Well, you can see that, there’s a discussion now over what is Marxism and my friend and colleague at PKU Sasha Buzgalin said, Marxism is a Chinese word; It’s the Chinese word for politics. That made everything clear to me. Now I get it!  I’ve been asked by members of the Academy of Social Sciences in China to create a syllabus of the history of rent theory and value theory. And essentially in order to have an idea of how you calculate rent, how do you make a national income analysis where you show rent, you have to have a theory of value and price and rent is the excess of price over the actual cost value. Well, for that you need a concept of cost of production and that’s what classical economics is all about. Post-classical economics denies all of this. The whole idea of classical economics is that not all income is “earned.”

Landlords don’t earn their income for making rent in their sleep as John Stuart Mill said. Banks don’t earn their income by just sitting there and letting debts accrue interest and compounding and doubling. The classical economists separated actual unearned income from the production and consumption economy.

Well, around the late 19th century in America, you had economists fighting against not only Marx, but also against Henry George, who at that time, was urging a land tax in New York. And so, at Columbia university, John Bates Clark developed a theory that everybody earns whatever they can get. That there was no such thing as unearned income. That has become the basis for American national income statistics and thought ever since. So, if you look at today’s GDP figures for the United States, they have a figure for 8% of the GDP for the homeowners rent. But homeowners wouldn’t pay themselves if they had to rent the apartment to themselves, then you’ll have interest at about 12% of GDP.

And I thought, well how can interest be so steady? What happens to all of the late fees; that 29% that credit card companies charge? I called up the national income people in Washington, when was there. And they said well, late fees and penalties are considered financial services.

And so, this is what you call a service economy. Well, there’s no service in charging a late fee, but they add all of the late fees. When people can’t pay their debts and they owe more and more, all of that is considered an addition to GDP. When housing becomes more expensive and prices American labor out of the market, that’s called increase in GDP.

This is not how a country that wants to develop is going to create a national income account. So, there’s a long discussion in China about, just to answer your question, how do you create an account to distinguish between what’s the necessary cost to production and what’s an unnecessary production cost and how do we avoid doing what the United States did. So again, no rivalry. The United States is an object lesson for China as to what to avoid, not only in de-industrializing the economy, but in creating a picture of the economy as if everybody earns everything and there’s no exploitation, no unearned income, nobody makes money in their sleep and there’s no 1%. Well, that’s what’s really at issue and why the whole world is splitting apart, as you and I are discussing what we’re writing.

Pepe: Thank you, Michael. Thank you very much. So just to sum it all up, can we say that Beijing’s strategy is to save especially provincial areas from leasing their land, their infrastructure for 60 years or 75 years?  As you just mentioned, can we say that the fulcrum of their national strategy is what you define as the market rent tax. Is this the number one mechanism that they are developing?

Michael: Ideally, they want to keep rents as low as possible because rents is a cost of living and a cost of doing business. They don’t have banks that are lending to inflate the real estate market.

However, in almost every Western country, the US, Germany, England the value of stocks and bonds and the value of real estate is just about exactly the same. But for China, the value of real estate is way, way larger than the value of stocks.

And the reason is not because the Chinese central bank, the Bank of China lends for real estate; it’s because they lend to intermediaries and the intermediaries have financed a lot of housing purchases in China. And, this is really the problem for if they levy a land tax, then you’re going to make a lot of these financial intermediaries go bust.

That’s what I’m advocating, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. These financial intermediaries shouldn’t exist, and this same issue came up in 2009 in the United States. You had the leading American bank being the most crooked and internally corrupt bank in the country, Citibank making junk mortgage, and it was broke.

Its entire net worth was wiped out as a result of its fraudulent junk mortgages. Well, Sheila Bair, the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) wanted to close it down and take it over. Essentially that would have made it into a public bank and that would be a wonderful thing. She said, look Citibank shouldn’t be doing what it’s doing. And she wrote all this up in the in an autobiography. And, she was overruled by president Obama and Tim Geithner saying, but wait a minute, those are our campaign contributors. So, they were loyal to the campaign contributors, but not the voters; and they didn’t close Citibank down.

And the result is that the Federal Reserve ended up creating about $7 trillion of quantitative easing to bail out the banks. The homeowners weren’t bailed out.  10 million American families lost their homes as a result of junk mortgages in excess of what the property was actually worth.

All of this was left on the books, foreclosed and sold to a private capital companies like Blackstone. And the result is that home ownership in America declined from 68% of the population down to about 61%. Well, right where the Obama administration left off, you’re about to have the Biden administration begin in January with an estimated 5 million Americans losing their homes. They’re going to be evicted because they’ve been unemployed during the pandemic. They’ve been working in restaurants or gyms or other industries that have been shut down because of the pandemic. They’re going to be evicted and many homeowners and, low-income homeowners have been unable to pay their mortgages.

There’s going to be a wave of foreclosures. The question is, who’s going to bear the cost. Should it be 15 million American families lose their homes just so the banks won’t lose money, or should we let the banks that have made all of the growth since 2008. 95% of American GDP of the population has seen its wealth go down. All the wealth has been accumulating for the 5% in statistics. Now the question is should this 5% that’s got all the wealth lose or should the 95% lose. The Biden administration says the 95% should lose basically. And you’re going to see a wave of closures that the question in China should be that, these intermediate banks (that are near banks) they’re not really banks they are sort of like payday loan lenders, should they come in and, bear the loss or should Chinese localities and the people bear the loss. Somebody has to lose when you’re charging, you’re collecting the land’s rent that was paid to the creditors, and either the creditors have to lose or, the tax collector loses and that’s the conflict that exists in every society of the world today.  And, in the West, the idea is the tax collectors should lose and whatever the tax collector relinquishes should be free for the banks to collect. In China obviously, they don’t want that to happen and they don’t want to see a financial class developing along US lines.

Pepe: Michael, there’s a quick question in all this, which is the official position by Beijing in terms of helping the localities. Their official position is that there won’t be any bail outs of local debt. How do they plan to do that?

Michael: What they’re discussing, how are you not going to do it? They think they sort of let localities go their own way. And they think, well you know which ones are going to succeed, and which ones aren’t, they didn’t want to have a one size fits all central planning. They wanted to have flexibility. Well, now they have flexibility. And when you have many different “let a hundred flowers bloom”, not all the flowers are going to bloom at the same rate. And the question is, if they don’t bail out the cities, how are the cities going to operate? Certainly, China has never let markets steer the economy, the government steers the markets. That’s what socialism is as opposed to finance capitalism. So, the question is, you can let localities go broke and yet you’re not going to destroy any of the physical assets of the localities, and all of this is going to be in place. The question is, how are you going to arrange the flow of income to all of these roads and buildings and land that’s in place? How do you create a system?  Essentially, they’re saying well, if we’re industrial engineers, how do we just plan things? Forget credit, forget property claims, forget the rentier claims. How are we just going to design an economy that operates most efficiently? And that’s what they’re working on now to resolve this situation because it’s got fairly critical.

Pepe: Yes, especially in the countryside. Well, I think, a very good metaphor in terms of comparing both systems are investment in infrastructure. You travel to China a lot so, you’ve seen. You’ll travel through a high-speed rail. You’ll see those fantastic airports in Pudong or the new airport in Beijing.

And then you’ll take the Acela to go from Washington and New York city, which is something that I used to do years ago. And the comparison is striking. Isn’t it? Or if you go to France, for instance, when France started development of the TGV, which in terms of a national infrastructure network, is one of the best networks on the planet. And the French started doing this 30 year ago, even more. Is there……, it’s not in terms of way out, but if we analyze the minutia, it’s obvious that following the American finance utilization system, we could never have something remotely similar happening in United States in terms of building infrastructure.

So, do you see any realistic bypass mechanism in terms of improving American infrastructure, especially in the big cities?

Michael: No, and there are two reasons for that. Number one let’s take a look at the long-term railroads. The railroads go through the center of town or even in the countryside, all along the railroads, the railroads brought business and all the businesses had been located as close to the railroad tracks as they could. Factories with sightings off the railroad, hotels and especially right through the middle of town where you have the railway gates going up and down. In order to make a high-speed rail as in China, you need a dedicated roadway without trucks and cars, imagine a car going through a railway gate at 350 miles an hour.

So, when I would go from Beijing to Tienjin, here’s the high-speed rail, there’s one highway on one side. One highway on the other side, there’ll be underpasses. But there it goes straight now. How can you suppose you would have a straight Acela line from Washington up to Boston when all along the line, there’s all this real estate right along the line that has been built up? There’s no way you can get a dedicated roadway without having to tear down all of this real estate that’s on either side and the cost of making the current owners whole would be prohibitive. And anywhere you would go, that’s not in the center of the city, you would also have to have the problem that there’s already private property there.

And there there’s no legal constitutional way for such a physical investment to be made. China was able to make this investment because it was still largely rural. It wasn’t as built up along the railways. It didn’t have any particular area that was built up right where the railroad already was.

So certainly, any high-speed rail could not go where the current railways would be, and they’d have to go on somebody’s land. And, there’s also, what do you do if you want to get to New York and long Island off from New Jersey. 60 years ago, when I went into Wall Street, the cost of getting and transporting goods from California to Newark New Jersey was as large as from Newark right across the Hudson river to New York because not only because of the mafia and control of the local labor unions, but because of the tunnels. Right now, the tunnels from New Jersey to New York are broke, they are leaking, the subways in New York city where I am continually break down because there was a hurricane a few years ago and the switches were made in the 1940s. The switches are 80 years old. They had water damage and the trains have to go at a crawl. But the City and State, because it is not collecting the real estate tax and other taxes and because ridership fell on the subways to about 20%, the City’s broke. They’re talking about 70% of city services being cut back.

They’re talking about cutting back the subways to 40% capacity, meaning everybody will have to get in and, when there’s still a virus and not many people are wearing masks, and there was no means of enforcing masks here. So, there’s no way that you can rebuild the infrastructure because, for one thing the banking system here has subsidized for a hundred years junk economics saying you have to balance the budget. If the government create credit it’s inflationary as if when banks create credit, it’s not inflationary. Well, the monetary effect is the same, no matter who creates the money. And so, Biden has already said that president Trump ran a big deficit, we’re going to run a bunch of surpluses or a budget balance. And he was advocating that all along. Essentially Biden is saying we have to increase unemployment by 20%, lower wages by 20%, shrink the economy by about 10% in order to, in order for the banks not to lose money.

And, we’re going to privatize but we are going to do it by selling the hospitals, the schools, the parks, the transportation to finance, to Wall Street finance capital groups. And so, you can imagine what’s going to happen if the Wall Street groups buy the infrastructure. They’ll do what happened to Chicago when it sold all the parking meters, they’ll say, okay, instead of 25 cents an hour, it’s now charged $3 an hour. Instead of a $2 for the subway, let’s make it $8. You’re going to price American economy even further out of business because they say that public investment is socialism.

Well, it’s not socialism. It’s industrial capitalism. It’s industrialization, that’s basic economics. The idea of what, and how an economy works is so twisted academically that it’s the antithesis of what Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and Marx all talked about. For them a free market economy was an economy free of rentiers. Free of rent, it didn’t have any rent seeking. But now for the Americans, a free market economy is free for the rentiers, free for the landlords free, for the banks to make a killing. And that is basically the class war back in business with a vengeance. That blocks and is preventing any kind infrastructure recovery. I don’t see how it can possibly take place.

Pepe: Well, based on what you just described, there is a process of turning the United States into a giant Brazil. In fact, this is what the Brazilian finance minister Paulo Guedes, a Pinochetista, as you know Michael, has been doing with the Brazilian economy for the past two years, privatizing everything and selling everything to big Brazilian interests and with lots of Wall Street interests involved as well. So, this is a recipe that goes all across the global South as well. And it’s fully copied all across the global South with no way out now.

Michael: Yes, and this is promoted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. And when I was brought down to Brazil to meet with the council economic advisors under Lula, they said, well the whole problem is that Lula’s been obliged to let the banks do the planning.

So, basically free markets and libertarianism is adopting central planning, but with central planning by the banks. America is a much more centrally planned economy than China. China is letting a hundred flowers bloom; America has concentrated the planning and the resource allocation in Wall Street. And that’s the central planning that is much more corrosive than any government planning, could be. Now the irony is that China’s sending its students to America to study economics. And, most of the Chinese I had talked to say, well we went to America to take economics courses because that gives us a prestige here in China.

I’m working now, with Chinese groups trying to develop a “reality economics” to be taught in China as different from American economics.

Pepe: Exactly because of what they study at Beijing university, Renmin or Tsinghua

is not exactly what they would study in big American universities. Probably what they study in the US is what not to do in China. When they go back to China, what they won’t be doing. It’s an object lesson for what to avoid.

Michael, I’d like to go back to what the BRICS had been discussing the 2000s when Lula was still president of Brazil and many of his ideas deeply impressed, especially Hu Jintao at the time, which is bypassing the US Dollars. Well, at the moment obviously we’re still at 87% of international transactions still in US Dollars. So, we are very far away from it, but if you have a truly sovereign economy, which is the case of China, which we can say is the case of Russia to a certain extent and obviously in a completely different framework, Iran.

Iran is a completely sovereign, independent economy from the West. The only way to try to develop different mechanisms to not to fall into the rentier mind space would be to bypass the US Dollars.

Michael: Yes, for many reasons. For one thing the United States can simply print the Dollars and lend to other countries and then say, now you have to pay us interest. Well, Russia doesn’t need American Dollars. It can print its own Rubles to provide labor. There’s no need for a foreign currency at all for domestic spending, the only reason you would have to borrow a foreign currency is to balance your exchange rate, or to finance a trade deficit. But China doesn’t have a trade deficit. And in fact, if China were to work to accept more Dollars, Americans would love to buy into the Chinese market and make a profit there, but that would push up China’s exchange rate and that would make it more difficult for her to make its exports because the exchange rate would come up not because it’s exporting more but because it’s letting American Dollars come in and push it up. Well, fortunately, president Trump as if he works for the Chinese national committee said, look, we don’t want to really hurt China by pushing up its currency and said we want to keep it competitive. So, I’m going to prevent American companies from lending money to China, I’m going to isolate it and so he’s helping them protect their economy. And in Russia he said, look Russia really needs to feed itself. And, there’s a real danger that when the Democrats come in, there are a lot of anti-Russians in the Biden administration. They may go to war. They may do to Russia what they tried to do to China in the fifties. Stop exporting food and grain. And only Canada was able to break the embargo. So, we’re going to impose sanctions on Russia. So immediately, what happened is Russia very quickly became the largest grain exporter in the world. And instead of importing cheese from the Baltics, it created its own cheese industry. So, Trump said look, I know that Russians followed the American idea of not having protective tariffs, they need protective tariffs. They’re not doing it. We’re going to help them out by just not importing from them and really helping them.

Pepe: Yeah. Michael, what do you think Black Rock wants from the Chinese? You know that they are making a few inroads at the highest levels? Of course, I’m sure you’re aware of that. And also, JP Morgan, City Bank, etc.…. What do they really want?

Michael: They’d like to be able to create Dollars to begin to buy and make loans to real estate; let companies grow, let the real estate market grow and make capital gains.

The way people get wealthy today isn’t by making an income, it’s been by making a capital gain. Total returns are current income plus the capital gains. As for capital gains each year; the land value gains alone are larger than the whole GDP growth from year to year. So that’s where the money is, that’s where the wealth is. So, they are after speculative capital gains, they would like to push money into the Chinese stock market and real estate market. See the prices go up and then inflate the prices by buying in and then sell out at the high price. Pull the money out, get a capital gain and let the economy crash, I mean that’s the business plan.

Pepe: Exactly. But Beijing will never allow that.

Michael: Well, here’s the problem right now, they know that Biden is pushing militarily aggressive people in his cabinet. There’s one kind of overhead that China is really trying to avoid and that’s the military overhead because if you spend money on the military, you can’t spend it on the real economy. They’re very worried about the military and they say, how do we deter the Biden administration from actually trying a military adventure in the China sea or elsewhere. They said well, fortunately America is multilayered. They don’t think of America as a group. They realize there’s a layer and they say, who’s going to represent our interests.

Well, Blackstone and Wall Street are going to represent their interests. Then I think one of the, Chinese officials last week gave a big speech on this very thing, saying look, our best hope in stopping America’s military adventurism in China is to have Wall Street acting as our support because after all, Wall Street is the main campaign contributor and the president works for the campaign contributors.

The politician works for the campaign contributors. They’re in it for the money! So fortunately, we have Wall Street on our side, we’ve got control of the political system and they’re not there to go to war so that helps explain why a month ago they let a wholly owned US banks and bankers in. On the one hand, they don’t like the idea of somebody outside the government creating credit for reasons that the economy doesn’t need. If they kind of needed it, the bank of China would do it. They have no need for foreign currency to come in to make loans in domestic currency, out of China.

The only reason that they could do it is number one, it helps meet the world trade organization’s principles and, number two especially during this formative few months of the Biden administration, it helps to have Wall Street saying; we can make a fortune in China, go easy on them and that essentially counters the military hawks in Washington.

Pepe: So, do you foresee a scenario when Black Rock starts wreaking havoc in the Shanghai stock exchange for instance?

Michael: It would love to do that. It would love to move things up and down. The money’s made by companies with the stock market going up and down; the zigzag. So of course, it wants to do a predatory zigzag. The question is whether China will impose a tax to stop this all sorts of financial transactions. That’s what’s under discussion now. They know exactly what Black Rock wants to do because they have some very savvy billionaire Chinese advisers that are quite good. I can tell you stories, but I better not.

Pepe: Okay. If it’s not okay to tell it all, tell us part of the story then.

Michael: The American banks have been cultivating leading Chinese people by providing them enough money to make money here, that they think that, okay they will now try to make money in the same way in China and we can join in. It’s a conflict of systems again, between the finance capital system and industrial socialism. You don’t get any of this discussion in the U S press, which is why I read what you write because in the US press, the neocons talk about

the fake idea of Greek history and fake idea of the Thucydides’ problem of a country jealous of another country’s development. There’s no jealousy between America and China. They’re different, they are own way. We are going to destroy them. And if you look at what the analogy that the Americans draw, and this is how the Pentagon thinks with the war between Athens and Sparta. It’s hard to tell, which is which. Here you have Athens, a democracy backing other democracies and having the military support of the democracies and the military in these democracies all had to pay Athens protection money for the military support and that’s the money that Athens got to ostensibly support its Navy and protection that built up all of the Athenian public buildings and everything else. So, that’s a democracy exploiting its allies, to enrich itself via the military. Then you have Sparta, which was funding all of the oligarchies, and it was helping the oligarchies overthrow democracies. Well, that was America too. So, America is both sides of the Thucydides war.  If the democracy is exploiting the fellow democracies and is the supporter of oligarchies in Brazil, Latin America, Africa, and everyone else.

So, you could say the Thucydides problem was between two sides, two aspects of America and has nothing to do with China at all except, for the fact that the whole war was a war between economic systems. And that’s what’s they’re acting as if somehow if only China did not export to us, we could be re-industrialized and somehow export to Europe and the Third World.

And as you and I have described, it’s over. We Americans painted ourselves into such a debt corner that without writing down the debts, were in the same position that the Eurozone is in. There’s so much money that goes to the creditors to the top 1% or 5% that there is no money for capital investment, there is no money for growth. And, since 1980 as you know, real wages in America have been stable. All the growth has been in property owners and predators and the FIRE sector, the rest of the economy is in stagnation. And now the coronavirus has simply acted as a catalyst to make it very clear that the game is over; it’s time to move away from the homeowner economy to rentier economy, time for Blackstone to be the landlord. America wants to recreate the British landlord class and essentially what we’re seeing now is like the Norman invasion of England taking over the land and the infrastructure. That’s what Blackstone would love to do in China.

Pepe: Wow. I’m afraid that they may have a lot leeway by some members of the Beijing leadership now, because as you know very well, it’s not a consensus in the political arena.

Michael: We’re talking about Volume II and III of Capital.

Pepe: Exactly. But you know, you were talking about debt. Coming back to that, in fact I just checked this morning, apparently global debt as it stands today is $277 trillion, which is something like 365% of global GDP. What does that mean in practice?

Michael: Yeah, well fortunately this is discussed in the 19th century and there was a word for that – fictitious capital – it’s a debt that can’t be paid, but you’ll keep it on the books anyway. And every country has this. You could say the question now, and the Financial Times just had an article a few days ago that China’s claims on Third World countries on the Belt and Road Initiative is fictitious capital, because how can it collect. Well, China’s already thought of that. It doesn’t want money. It wants the raw materials. It wants to be paid in real things. But a debt that can’t be paid, can only be paid either by foreclosing on the debtors or by writing down the debts and obviously a debt of can’t be paid won’t be paid.

And so, you have not only Marx using the word fictitious capital. At the other end of the spectrum, you had Henry George talking about fictive capital. In other words, these are property claims that have no real capital behind them. There’s no capital that makes profit. That’s just a property claim for payment or a rentier claim for payment.

So, the question is, can you make money somehow without having any production at all, without having wages without having profits without any capital? Can you just have asset grabbing and buying and selling assets. And as long as you have the Federal Reserve in America, come in, Trump’s $10 trillion COVID program gave 2 trillion to the population at large with these $1,200 checks, that my wife and I got and 8 trillion all just to buy stocks and bonds. None of this was to build infrastructure. None of this 8 trillion was to build a single factory. None of this 8 trillion was to employee a single worker. It was all just to support the prices of stocks and bonds, and to keep the illusion that the economy had not stopped growing. Well, it’s growing for the 5%. So, it’s all become fictitious. And if you look at the GDP as I said, it’s fictitious.

Pepe: And the most extraordinary thing is none of that is discussed in American media. Absolutely, there’s not a single word about what you would have been describing.

Michael: And it’s not even discussed in academia. Our graduates at the University of Missouri at Kansas City are all trained in Modern Monetary Theory. And to be hired as professors, they have to be able to publish in the refereed journals and the refereed journals are all essentially controlled by the Chicago school. So, you have a censorship of the kind of ideas that we’re talking about. You can’t get it into the economic journals, so you can’t get it into the economics curriculum. So, where on earth you’re going to get it. If you didn’t have the internet you wouldn’t be discussing at all. Most of my books sell mainly in China, more than in all the other countries put together so I can discuss these there. I stopped publishing in orthodox journals so many years ago because it’s talking to the deaf.

Pepe: Absolutely. Yeah. Can I ask you a question about Russia, Michael? There is a raging, debate in Russia for many years now between let’s say the Eurasianists and the Atlanticists. It involves of course, economic policy under Putin, industrial capitalism Russian style, and the Eurasianists basically say that the central problem with Russia is how the Russian central bank is basically affiliated with all the mechanisms that you know so well, that it is an Atlanticist trojan horse inside the Russian economy. How do you see it?

Michael: Russia was brainwashed by the West when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. First of all, the IMF announced in advance that there was a big meeting in Houston with the IMF and the World Bank. And the IMF published all of its report saying, first you don’t want inflation in Russia so let’s wipe out all of the Russian savings with hyperinflation, which they did. They then said, well now to cure the hyperinflation the Russian central bank needs a stable currency and you need a backup for the currency. You will need to back it with US Dollars. So, from the early 1990s, as you know, labor was going unpaid. The Russian central bank could have created the rubles to pay the domestic labor and to keep the factories in place. But, the IMF advisors from Harvard said, no you’ll have to borrow US Dollars. I met with people from the Hermitage Fund and the Renaissance Fund and others, we had meetings and, I met with the investors. Russia was paying 100% interest for years to leading American financial institutions for money that it didn’t need and could have created itself. Russia was so dispirited with Stalinism that essentially that it thought, what’s the opposite of Stalinism must be what they have in America.

They thought that America was going to tell it how America got rich, but America didn’t want to tell Russia how it got rich, but instead wanted to make money off Russia. They didn’t get it. They trusted the Americans. They really didn’t understand that, industrial capitalism that Marx described had metamorphosized into finance capitalism and was completely different.

And that’s because Russia didn’t charge rent, it didn’t charge interest. I gave three speeches before the Duma, urging it to impose a land tax. Some of the people I noticed, Ed Dodson was there with us and we were all trying to convince Russia, don’t let this land be privatized. If you let it be privatized, then you’re going to have a such high rents and housing costs in Russia that you’re not going to be able to essentially compete for an industrial growth. Well, the politician who brought us there Vyatchislav Zvolinsky was sort of maneuvered out of the election by the American advisors.

The Americans put billions of Dollars in to essentially finance American propagandists to destroy Russia, mainly from the Harvard Institute of International Development. And essentially, they were a bunch of gangsters and the prosecutors in Boston were about to prosecute them.

So, the attorney general of Boston was going to bring a big case for Harvard against, the looting of Russia and the corruption of Russia. And I was asked to organize and to bring a number of Russian politicians and industrialists over to say how, this destroyed everything. Well, Harvard settled out of court and essentially that made the perpetrators the leading university people up there. I’m associated with Harvard Anthropology Department, not the Economics Department.

So, we never had a chance to bring my witnesses, and have our report on what happened, but I published for the Russian Academy of sciences a long study of how all of this destruction of Russia was laid out in advance at the Houston meetings by the IMF. America went to the leading bureaucrats and said; look, we can make you rich why don’t you register the factories in your own name, and if you’re registered in your own name, you know, then you’ll own it. And then you can cash out. You can essentially sell, but obviously you can’t sell to the Russians because the IMF have just wiped out all of their savings.

You can only cash out by selling to the West. And so, Russia’s stock market became the leading stock market in the world from 1994 with the Norilsk Nickel and the seven bankers in the bank loans for shares deal through 1997. And, I had worked for a firm Scudder Stevens and, the head advisor, a former student of mine didn’t want to invest in Russia because she said, this is just a rip off, it’s going to crash. She was fired for not investing. They said look, we know that’s going to crash. That’s the whole idea it’s going to crash. We can make a mint off it before the crash. And then when it crashes, we can make another mint by selling short and then all over again. Well, the problem is that the system that was put in with the privatization that’s occurred, how do you have Russia’s wealth used to develop its own industry and its own economy like China was doing. Well, China has rules for all of this, but Russia doesn’t have rules, it’s really all centralized it’s president Putin that keeps it this way.

Well, this was the great fear of the West. When you had Yevgeny Primakov, beginning to plan, to do pretty much what is done today, to restrain private capital, the IMF said hold off is that we’re not going to make any loans to stabilize the Russian currency until you remove Mr. Primakov.

The US said we won’t deal with Russia until you remove him. So, he was pushed out and he was probably the smartest guy at the time there. So, they thought the Putin was going to be sort of the patsy. And he sort of almost single-handedly holding the oligarchs in and saying, look, you can keep your money as long as you do exactly what the government would do. You can keep the gains as long as you’re serving the public interest, but none of this has resulted in a legal system, a tax system, and a system where the government actually does get most of the benefits. Russia could have emerged in 1990 as one the most competitive economy in Eurasia by giving all of the houses to its people instead of giving Norilsk Nickel and the oil companies to Yukos, it could have given everybody their own house and their own apartment, the same thing in the Baltics. And instead it didn’t give the land out to the people. And Russians were paying 3% of their income for housing in 1990. And rent is the largest element in every household’s budget. So, Russia could have had low price labor, it could have financed all of its capital investment for the government by taxing, collecting the rising rental value and instead, Russian real estate was privatized on credit and it was even worse in the Baltics. In Latvia, where I was research director for the Riga Graduate School of Law, Latvia borrowed primarily from Swedish banks. And so, in order to buy a house, you had to borrow from Swedish banks.

And they said, well, we’re not going to lend in the Latvian currency because it can go down. So, you have a choice; Swiss Francs or German Marks or US Dollars. And so, all of this rent was paid in foreign currency. There came an outflow that essentially drained all the Baltic economies, Latvia lost 20% of its population, Estonia, Lithuania followed suit.

And of course, the worst hit by neo-liberalism was Russia. As you know, president Putin said that neo-liberalism cost Russia more of its population than World War II. And you know that to destroy a country, you don’t need an army anymore. All you have to do is teach it American economics.

Pepe: Yes, I remember well, I arrived in Russia in the winter of 91 coming from China. So, I transited from the Chinese miracle. In fact, a few days after Deng Xiaoping’s famous Southern tour when he went to Guangzhou and Shenzhen.  And that was the kick for the 1990’s boom, in fact now a few years before the handover and then I took the Trans-Siberian and I arrived in Moscow a few days after the end, in fact, a few weeks after the end of the Soviet Union.

But yeah, I remember the Americans arrived almost at the exact minute, wasn’t it, Michael? I think they already were there in the spring of 1992. If I’m not mistaken.

Michael:  The Houston meeting was in 1990.  But all before that already in, 1988 and 1989, there was a huge outflow of embezzlement money via Latvia. The assistant dean of the university, Gregor Lautchansky,  who ended up creating Nordex. Essentially the money was all flying out because Ventspils in Latvia, was where Russian oil was exported and it was all fake invoicing. So, the Russian kleptocrats basically made their money off false export invoicing, ostensibly selling it for one price and having the rest paid abroad and, this was all organized through Latvia and the man who did it later moved to Israel and finally gave a billion Dollars back to Russia so that, he went on to live safely for the rest of his life in Israel.

Pepe: Well, the crash of the Ruble in 1998 was what, roughly one year after the crash of the Bath and the whole Asian financial crisis, no? it was interlinked of course, but let me see if I have a question for you, in fact, I’m just thinking out loud now. If the economies of Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia, the case of South Korea and Russia were more integrated at the time as they are trying to integrate now, do you think that the Asian financial crisis would have been preventable in 1997?

Michael: Well, look at what happened in Malaysia with Mohammed Mahathir. Malaysia avoided it. So of course, it was preventable. They had capital controls. All you would have needed was to do what Malaysia did. But you needed an economic theory for that.

And essentially the current mode of warfare is to conquer the brains of a country to shape how people think and how they perceive the economy from working. And if you can twist their view into an unreality economics, where they think that you’re there to help them not to take money out of them, then you’ve got them hooked. That was what happened in Asia. Asia thought it was getting rich off the Dollars inflows and then the IMF and all the creditors pulled the plug, crash the industry. And now that all of a sudden you had a crash, they bought up Korean industry and other South Asian industries at giveaway prices.

That’s what you do. You lend the money; you pull the plug. You then let them go under and you pick up the pieces. That’s what Blackstone did after the Obama depression began, when Obama saved the banks, not the constituency, the mortgage borrowers. Essentially that’s Blackstone’s modus operandi to pick up distressed prices at a bankruptcy sale, but you need to lend money and then crash it in order to make that work.

Pepe: Michael, I think we have only five minutes left. So, I would expect you to go on a relatively long answer and I’m really dying for it. It’s about debt, it about the debt that trap. And it’s about the New Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative, because I think rounding up our discussion and coming back to the theme of debt and global debt. The number one criticism apart from the demonization of China that you hear from American media and a few American academics as well against the Belt and Road is that it’s creating a debt trap for Southeast Asian nations, Central Asian nations and nations in Africa, etc…. Obviously, I expect you to debunk that, but the framework is there is no other global development project as extensive and as complex as Belt and Road, which as you know, very well was initially dreamed up by the ministry of commerce. Then they, sold it more or less to Xi Jinping who got the geopolitical stamp on it, announcing it, simultaneously, (which was a stroke of genius) in Central Asia in Astana and then in Southeast Asia in Jakarta. So, he was announcing that the overland corridors through the heartland and the Maritime Silk Road at the same time. At the time people didn’t see the reach and depth of all that. And now of course, finally the Trump administration woke up and saw what was in play, not only across Eurasia but reaching Africa and even selected parts of Latin America as well. And obviously the only sort of criticism and, it’s not even a fact-based criticism, that I’ve seen about the Belt and Road is it’s creating a debt wrap because as you know Laos is indebted, Sri Lanka is indebted, Kyrgyzstan is indebted etc…. So, how do you view Belt and Road within the large framework of the West and China, East Asia and Eurasia relations? And how would you debunk misconceptions created, especially in the U S that this is a debt trap.

Michael: There are two points to answer there.  The first is how the Belt and Road began. And as you pointed out, the Belt and Road began, when China said, what is it we need to grow and how do we grow within our neighboring countries so we don’t have to depend upon the West, and we don’t have to depend on sea trade that can be shut down. How do we get to roads instead of seas in a way that we can integrate our economy with the neighboring economies so that there can be mutual growth? So, this was done pretty much on industrial engineering grounds. Here’s where you need the roads and the railroads. And then how do we finance it? Well, the Financial Times article, last week asked, Didn’t the Chinese know that railroad development, they’ve all gone broke. The Panama Canal went broke, you know, the first few times there were European railway investment in Latin America in the 19th century, that all went broke. Well, what they don’t get is China’s aim was not to make a profit off the railroads. The railroads were built to be part of the economy. They don’t want to make profit. It was to make the real economy grow, not to make profits for the owners of the railroad stocks. The Western press can’t imagine that you’re building a railroad without trying to make money out of it.

Then you get to the debt issue. Countries only have a debt crisis if their debt is in a foreign currency. The first way that the United States gained power was to fight against its allies. The great enemy of America was England and it made the British block their currency in the 1940s. And so, India and other countries, that had all these currencies holdings in Sterling, we’re able to convert it all into Dollars. The whole move of the US was to denominate, world debt in Dollars. So that number one US banks would end up with the interest in financing the debt. And number two, the United States could by using the debt leverage control domestic politics. Well, as you’re seeing right now in Argentina, for instance, Argentina is broke because it owes foreign Dollars debt. When I started the first third world bond fund in 1990 at Scudder Stevens, Brazil in China and Argentina, we’re paying 45% interest per year, 45% per year in Dollarized debt. Yet we tried to sell them in America, no American would buy. We went to Europe, no European buy this debt. And so, we worked with Merrill Lynch and Merrill Lynch was able to make an offshore fund in the Dutch West Indies and all of the debt was sold to the Brazilian ruling class in the central bank and the Argentinian bankers in the ruling class, we thought oh, that’s wonderful.

We know that they’re going to pay the foreign Yankee Dollars debt because the Yankee Dollars debt is owed to themselves. They’re the Yankees! They’re the client oligarchy. And you know, from Brazil client oligarchy is, you know, they’re cosmopolitan, that’s the word. So, the problem is that on the Belt and Road, how did these other countries pay the debt to China?

Well, the key there again is the de-dollarization, and one way to solve it is since we’re trying to get finance out of the picture, we’re doing something very much like, Japan did with Canada in the 1960s. It made loans to develop Canadian copper mines taking its payment, not in Canadian Dollars, that would have pushed up the Yen’s exchange rate but in copper. So, China says, you know you don’t have to pay currency for this debt. We didn’t build a railroad to make a profit and you want, we can print all the currency we want. We don’t need to make a profit. We made the Belt and Road because it’s part of our geopolitical attempt to create what we need to be prosperous and have a prosperous region. So, these are self-reinforcing mutual gain. Well, so that’s what the West doesn’t get – Mutual gain?  Are we talking anthropology? What do you mean mutual? This is capitalism! So, the West doesn’t understand what the original aim of the Belt and Road was, and it wasn’t to make a profitable railroad to enable people to buy and sell railway stocks. And it wasn’t to make toll roads to sell off to Goldman Sachs, you know. We’re dealing with two different economic systems, and it’s very hard for one system to understand the other system because of the tunnel vision that you get when you get a degree in economics.

Pepe:  Belt on Road loans are a long-term and at very low interest and they are renegotiable. They are renegotiating with the Pakistanis all the time for instance.

Michael: China’s intention is not to repeat an Asia crisis of 1997. It doesn’t gain anything by forcing a crisis because it’s not trying to come in and buying property at a discount at a distressed sale. It has no desire to create a distressed sale. So obviously, the idea is the capacity to pay. Now, this whole argument occurred in the 1920s, between Keynes and his opponents that wanted to collect German reparations and, Keynes made it very clear. What is the capacity to pay? It’s the ability to export and the ability to obtain foreign currency. Well, China’s not looking for foreign currency. It is looking for, economic returns but the return is to the whole society, the return isn’t from a railroad. The return is for the entire economy because it’s looking at the economy as a system.

The way that neoliberalism works, it divides the economy into parts, and it makes every part try to make a gain. If you do that, then you don’t have any infrastructure that’s lowering the cost for the other parts. You have every part fighting for itself. You don’t look in terms of a system the way China’s looking at it. That’s the great advantage of Marxism, you’ll look at the system, not just at the parts.

Pepe:  Exactly and this is that at the heart of the Chinese concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, which is the approximate translation from Mandarin. So, we compare community with a shared future for mankind, which is, let’s say the driving force between the idea of Belt and Road, expanded across Eurasia, Africa and Latin America as well with our good old friends’, “greed is good” concept from the eighties, which is still ruling America apparently.

Michael: And the corollary is that non greed is bad

Pepe: Exactly and non-greed is evil.

Michael: I see. I think we ran out of time. I do. I don’t know if Alanna that one wants to step in to wrap it up.

Michael: There may be somebody who has a question.

Pepe: Somebody has a question? That’ll be fantastic.

Alanna: Okay. Alanna here. This has been just great guys. I mean, this is the only webinar I’ve been on where the attendance kept increasing with time instead of decreasing.

So, we had spam in the chat but there is a one question that was good from Ed Dodson. He wanted to know why there are these ghost cities in China and he who’s financing all this real estate that’s developed, but nobody’s living there. We’ve all been hearing about that. So, what is happening with that?

Michael: Okay. China had most of its population living in the countryside and it made many deals with Chinese landholders who have land rights, and they said, if you will give up your land right to the community, we will give you free apartment in the city that you could rent out.

So, China has been building apartments in cities and trading these basically in exchange for support what used to be called a rural exodus. China doesn’t need as many farmers on the land is it now has, and the question is how are you going to get them into cities? So, China began building these cities and many of these apartments are owned by people who’ve got them in exchange for trading their land rights. The deals are part of the rural reconstruction program.

Alanna: Do you think it was a good deal? Vacant apartments everywhere.

Pepe: You don’t have ghost cities in Xinjiang for instance, Xinjiang is under-populated, it’s mostly desert. And it’s extremely sensitive to relocate people to Xinjiang. So basically, they concentrated on expanding Urumqi. When you arrive in Urumqi is like almost like arriving in, Guangzhou. It’s enormous. It’s a huge generic sitting in the middle of the desert. And it’s also a high-tech Mecca, which is something that very few people in the West know. And is the direct link between the eastern seaboard via Belt and Road to Central Asia.

Last year I was on an amazing trip. I went to the three borders, the Tajik-Xinjiang border, Kirgiz-Xinjiang border and the Kazakh-Xinjiang border, which is three borders in one. It’s a fascinating area to explore and specially to talk to the local populations, the Kirgiz, the Kazakhs and the Tadjik’s how do they see the Belt and Road directly affecting their lives from now on. So, you don’t see something spectacular for instance, in the Xinjiang – Kazakh boarder, there is one border for the trucks, lots of them like in Europe, crossing from all points, from central Asia to China and bringing Chinese merchandise to central Asia.

There’s the train border, which is a very simple two tracks and the pedestrian boarder, which is very funny because you have people arriving in buses from all parts of Central Asia. They stop on the Kazakh border. They take a shuttle, they clear customs for one day, they go to a series of shopping malls on the Chinese side of the border. They buy like crazy, shop till it drops, I don’t know for 12 hours? And then they cross back the same day because the visa is for one day. They step on their buses and they go back. So, for the moment it’s sort of a pedestrian form of belt and road, but in the future, we’re going to have high-speed rail. We’re going to have, well the pipelines are already there as Michael knows, but it’s fascinating to see on the spot. You see the closer integration; you see for instance Uyghurs traveling back and forth. You know, Uyghurs that have families in Kirgizstan for instance, I met some Uyghurs in Kyrgyzstan who do the back and forth all the time. And they said, there’s no problem. They are seen as businessmen so there’s no interference. There are no concentration camps involved, you know, so but it’s you have to you have to go to these places to see how it works on the ground and with COVID, that’s the problem for us journalists who travel, because for one year we cannot go anywhere and Xinjiang was on my travel list this year, Afghanistan as well, Mongolia.

These are all parts of Belt and Road or future parts of Belt and Road, like Afghanistan. The Chinese and the Russians as well; they want to bring Afghanistan in a peace process organized by Asians themselves without the United States, within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, because they want Afghanistan to be part of the intersection of Belt and Road and Eurasian Economic Union. This is something Michael knows very well. You don’t see this kind of discussions in the American media for instance, you know integration of Eurasia on the ground, how it’s actually happening.

Michael: That’s called cognitive dissonance.

Alanna: To try to understand it gets you cognitive dissonance.

Pepe: Oh yeah, of course. And obviously you are a Chinese agent, a Russian agent. And so, I hear that all the time. Well, in our jobs we hear that all the time. Especially unfortunately from our American friends.

Alanna: Okay. I know you have other things to do. This has been fabulous. I want to thank you so much, both of you, uh, with so easy to get attendance for this webinar. There were 20 people in five minutes enrolled and in two days we were at capacity. So, I know there are many more people who would love to hear you talk another time, whenever you two are so willing. And I think you both got much out of your first conversation in person. Everybody listening knows these two wonderful gentlemen, they have written more than 10 books, and they have traveled all over the world. They are on the top of geopolitical and geonomic analysis, and they are caring, loving people. So, you can see that these are the people we need to be listening to and understanding all around the world.

So, thank you so much. Ibrahima Drame from the Henry George School is now going to say goodbye to you and will wrap this up.  Thank you again.

Pepe: Michael it was a huge pleasure. Really, it was fantastic. Really nice, we’re on the same website. So, let’s have a second version of this.

Ibrahima:  So, let’s have a second version of this two months from now. Thank you very much for participating and I really hope you liked this event. And, we also want to ask for your support by making a tax-deductible donation to the Henry George School. I believe I shared the link on the chat. Thank you. And see you soon.

Pepe: Thank you very much. Thanks Michael. Bye!

[1] When I said that China can pay lower wages than the U.S., what I meant was that China provides as public services many things that American workers have to pay out of their own pockets – such as health care, free education, subsidized education, and above all, much lower debt service.

When workers have to go into debt in order to live, they need much higher wages to keep solvent. When they have to pay for their own health insurance, they have to earn more. The same is true of education and student debt. So much of what Americans seem to be earning more than workers in other countries goes right through their hands to the financial sector, landlords and insurance companies – the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector. So, what seems to be “low wages” in China go a lot further than higher wages in the United States.

US Cyber Spy Scandal: Why Did Pompeo Blame Russia But Trump China?

By Andrew Korybko

Source

US Cyber Spy Scandal: Why Did Pompeo Blame Russia But Trump China?
The contradictory claims from Secretary of State Pompeo and President Trump blaming Russia and China respectively for carrying out what’s been described by many as one of the most intrusive cyber espionage operations against America in history are confusing for most observers but can be better understood if they accept that Pompeo might have some ulterior political motives for pushing his version of events.

Trump vs. Pompeo

Many people are confused after President Trump contradicted Secretary of State Pompeo’s claim that Russia was behind what’s been described by many as one of the most intrusive cyber espionage operations against America in history after he publicly suggested that China might have been the culprit instead and even downplayed the significance of this extensive security breach. This isn’t a game of “5D chess” like some QAnon enthusiasts might image, but one of the most visible signs yet that those two don’t always see eye-to-eye on some issues of grand strategic importance. In fact, it even strongly suggests that Pompeo might have some ulterior motives for pushing his version of events that could be related to his 2024 presidential ambitions.

Deep State Factionalism

There’s no denying that factionalism exists within the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”), which dramatically intensified during the Trump Administration and will predictably continue during the Biden one if the latter succeeds in seizing power, so discussing Pompeo and Trump’s differences in this respect shouldn’t be taboo. The Secretary of State is cut from the cloth of the “deep state” itself after previously being tasked by Trump to lead the CIA of all structures while the President continues to present himself as being against that same “deep state” establishment. It could have been that he “trusted” Pompeo to “reform” the CIA according to his vision, but in any case, those two still have natural differences.

This partly explains why Pompeo jumped on the establishment’s anti-Russian bandwagon by blaming Moscow for the latest cyber espionage scandal. He’s part and parcel of the “deep state”, therefore making him prone to accepting its interpretations of events. Even if he himself doesn’t seriously believe that Russia was responsible (whether due to there being no publicly presented evidence of this or because he might not believe whatever the CIA could have fabricated to this effect), he understands the importance of going with the flow for “stability’s” sake. After all, pushing back against the “deep state” can be very dangerous, and Pompeo might not want to take the risk of “betraying” his “former” employer on an issue of such importance to it as this one is.

Was Trump’s Trust Misplaced?

Trump, however, has no such compunctions about calling the “deep state” out at every opportunity that he gets. It’s the reason why so many Americans voted for him in the last two elections. For reasons of political realism, he probably couldn’t “drain the swamp” as immediately or to the extent as he initially wished, hence why he’s chummed up so closely with Pompeo these past few years. It’s not due to the adage of “keeping one’s enemies close”, but more than likely the result of simple pragmatism since Trump seems to personally like Pompeo a lot better than other “swamp creatures” and thus “trusts” comparatively more.

Because of his “swamp” origins after being installed in the CIA by Trump prior to his nomination as Secretary of State, Pompeo can’t ever fully be trusted no matter what the President might think. It was a risky gamble to try to place someone who he regarded as “his own” (at least ideologically speaking insomuch as he used to be a Tea Party Republican) into that structure and hope that he isn’t changed throughout the process, but he did it anyhow because he probably felt that it was the “lesser evil” available to him at the time. Now, however, Pompeo is showing that he’ll side with the “deep state” against Trump on Russia instead of take his boss’ side.

A Zero-Sum Standoff

That’s not to say that China is the culprit either since it could possible be North Korea or someone else for all that anyone knows since no public evidence has been presented to back up either figures’ claims, but just to point out the clear contradiction between them. Trump has a track record of blaming China for everything that goes wrong with the US just like the “deep state” blames Russia for the same, so neither of their claims are credible on the surface. Nevertheless, due to the grand strategic divergences between them, no “compromise” is possible unless one or the other submits to their counterpart, which isn’t likely in the near term at least.

Pompeo probably won’t backtrack on blaming Russia the same as Trump isn’t going to do an about-face and suddenly say that China is completely innocent after strongly implying the opposite over the weekend. Those two, however, will debate the issue behind the closed doors as each tries to convince the other to reverse their public statements, which stands little chance of success. Trump needs the world to believe that China was responsible in order to improve the odds of Biden continuing his New Cold War policy of “containing” it while Pompeo must hold firm on blaming Russia in case he decides to run for president in 2024.

Pompeo 2024?

The Secretary of State is already one of “America First’s” main icons behind only Trump and perhaps also Pence. Plus he has enormous support from Trump’s “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) base for all that he’s done abroad in his boss’ name. Even so, however, Pompeo probably wouldn’t be able to resist the “deep state” as much as Trump hitherto has (albeit imperfectly of course), especially not after having previously served as the head of the CIA. The only way that he could help the “swamp” swap figureheads should Biden seize power but prove to be immensely unpopular for various reasons is if he submits to its anti-Russian narrative.

Even then, however, he might be brushed aside in favor of Kamala or whoever else, but there’s still some strategic wisdom in the “deep state” keeping the possibility of a “controlled opposition” candidate such as Pompeo viable just in case the MAGA movement proves impossible to ignore across the next four years. Nobody knows whether Trump would run for office again in 2024 if he leaves the White House next month like the Mainstream Media hopes that he’ll do, but even if he does run, then Pompeo could possibly break with him to divide the (then-former) president’s base and thus raise the prospects of a Democrat victory.

Quick Recap

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Pompeo’s domestic political outlook, the very fact that he so confidently blamed Russia for the latest cyber espionage scandal only to be publicly contradicted by none other than Trump himself shortly thereafter on Twitter shows that there are serious differences between the two over the US’ grand strategic vision. Pompeo, just like his “deep state” CIA allies, wants to blame Russia whenever it’s convenient to do so while Trump prefers to lay the blame for everything entirely on China. The Secretary of State has blamed China for a lot of things before, which is why not doing so this time is very suspicious.

To reaffirm what was previously said in order to avoid any misunderstandings, this doesn’t mean that China is guilty or should be accused, but just that attention should be paid to Pompeo breaking with Trump’s “tradition” of blaming the People’s Republic whenever something goes wrong. This time, the Secretary of State jumped ship by pointing the finger at Russia, only to be contradicted by his boss. This observation proves that those two certainly don’t see eye-to-eye on this very important issue, which confirms the author’s suspicious of creeping “deep state” tensions between them which might be motivated by Pompeo’s 2024 presidential ambitions.

A Curious Question

The increasingly visible differences between Trump and Pompeo might somehow be smoothed over or not even matter all that much if the administration departs from power next month like the Mainstream Media hopes that it’ll do, but it’s still a trend that shouldn’t be ignored in any case. There’s no “5D chess” theory to explain why Trump publicly contradicted — and therefore embarrassed — his own Secretary of State. Every other time that he’s done this to one of his subordinates prompted talk about a growing rift between them, yet for some strange reason, few are discussing this angle which naturally leads to the curious question of why that is.

Unipolar vs Multipolar: The Death of McKinley and the Loss of America’s Soul

Unipolar vs Multipolar: The Death of McKinley and the Loss of America’s Soul

December 23, 2020

By Matthew Ehret for the Saker Blog

On December 17, 2020 A new US Maritime strategy was unveiled putting into practice the regressive concepts first outlined in the early National Defense Strategy 2020 doctrine which target China and Russia as the primary enemies of the USA and demanding that the USA be capable to “defeat our adversaries while we accelerate development of a modernized integrated all-domain naval force of the future”.

The Pentagon’s Advantages at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power continued by saying “China’s and Russia’s revisionist approaches in the maritime environment threaten US interests, undermine alliances and partnerships and degrade the free and open international order… moreover, China’s and Russia’s aggressive naval growth and modernization are eroding US institutional advantages.”

The document continued to describe that “we must operate more assertively to prevail in day-to-day competition as we uphold the rules-based order and deter our competitors from pursuing armed aggression… ready, forward-deployed naval forces will adopt a more assertive posture in day to day operations”

For anyone who has been paying attention to the vast growth of the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum containment policy around China’s perimeter begun with Obama’s Asia Pivot, it may appear as though these words are not new, but just a continuation of American unipolar agenda, Pacific war games, and psychological projection onto perceived enemies, that have been underway for years. While this is certainly true, it must be noted that they are occurring at a time that NATO 2030 has enshrined an anti-China military posture into the Trans Atlantic security doctrine which had formerly channeled most of its hate purely onto Russia.

The fact is those unipolar zombies programmed to think in no other terms but global post-nation state dominance are deathly afraid of the Russia-China bond of survival which has created a uniquely viable foundation for an alternative economic/security architecture for the world. This model is based on a system of finance that defines money not in speculative but rather long-term development of the real economic foundations of life. It also features a strong emphasis on win-win cooperation as opposed to Hobbesian zero-sum logic dominant among western powers, and it also finds itself driven by OPEN system economic practices shaped by unbounded scientific and technological progress that once upon a time guided America’s better traditions.

With the obvious threat of nuclear war breaking out between a collapsing unipolar order in the west and an emergent Multipolar alliance, it is important to review what possible latent policy traditions may yet be revived within America’s history which certain forces have worked very hard to scrub out of the historical record and memory. This study will take us to the incredible fights that arose over America’s identity at the turn of the 20th century during the period of President William McKinley and the treasonous anglophile President of vice, Theodore Roosevelt.

Munroe Doctrine or Empire?

As Martin Sieff eloquently laid out in his recent article, President McKinley himself was an peacemaker, anti-imperialist of a higher order than most people realize. McKinley was also a strong supporter of two complementary policies: 1) Internally, he was a defender of Lincoln’s “American system” of protectionism, internal improvements and black suffrage and 2) Externally, he was a defender of the Munroe Doctrine that defined America’s anti-imperial foreign policy since 1823.

The Munroe Doctrine’s architect John Quincy Adams laid out this principle eloquently on July 4, 1821:

“After fifty years the United States has, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations, while asserting and maintaining her own.

That the United States does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

That by involving itself in the internal affairs of other nations, the United States would destroy its own reason of existence; the fundamental maxims of her policy would become, then, no different than the empire America’s revolution defeated. It would be, then, no longer the ruler of itself, but the dictator of the world.”

America’s march is the march of mind, not of conquest.

Colonial establishments are engines of wrong, and that in the progress of social improvement it will be the duty of the human family to abolish them”.

It was an aging John Quincy Adams whom a young Abraham Lincoln collaborated with in ending the imperial Mexican-American war under Wall Street stooge James Polk in 1846. When Adams died in 1848, Lincoln picked up the torch he left behind as the London-directed “proto deep state” of the 19th century worked to dissolve the republic from within. The foreign policy conception laid out by Adams ensured that America’s only concern was “staying out of foreign imperial entanglements” as Washington had earlier warned and keeping foreign imperial interests out of the Americas. The idea of projecting power onto the weak or subduing other cultures was anathema to this genuinely American principle.

A major battle which has been intentionally obscured from history books took place in the wake of Lincoln’s murder and the re-ascension of the City of London-backed slave power during the decades after the Union victory of 1865. On the one hand America’s role in the emerging global family of nations was being shaped by followers of Lincoln who wished to usher in an age of win-win cooperation. Such an anti-Darwinian system which Adams called “a community of principle” asserted that each nation had the right to sovereign banking controls over private finance, productive credit emissions tied to internal improvements with a focus on continental (rail/road) development, industrial progress and full spectrum economies. Adherents of this program included Russia’s Sergei Witte and Alexander II, Germany’s Otto von Bismarck, France’s Sadi Carnot, and leading figures within Japan’s Meiji Restoration.https://www.youtube.com/embed/gYeVDjFKpOU?feature=oembed

On the other hand, “eastern establishment families” of the USA more loyal to the gods of money, hereditary institutions and the vast international empire of Britain saw America’s destiny tied to an imperial global partnership with the Mother country. These two opposing paradigms within America have defined two opposing views of “progress”, “value”, “self-interest” and “law” which have continued to shape the world over 150 years later.

William Gilpin vs Alfred Mahan: Two Paradigms Clash

A champion of the former traditionally American outlook who rose to the international scene was William Gilpin (1813-1894). Gilpin hailed from a patriotic family of nation builders whose patriarch Thomas Gilpin was a close ally of Benjamin Franklin and leading member of Franklin’s Philosophical Society. William Gilpin was famous for his advocacy of America’s trans continental railway whose construction he proselytized as early as 1845 (it was finally begun by Lincoln during the Civil War and completed in 1869 as I outlined in my previous paper How to Save a Dying Republic).

In his thousands of speeches and writings, Gilpin made it known that he understood America’s destiny to be inextricably tied to the ancient civilization of China- not to impose opium as the British and their American lackies were want to do, but to learn from and even emulate!

In 1852, Gilpin stated:

“Salvation must come to America from China, and this consists in the introduction of the “Chinese constitution” viz. the “patriarchal democracy of the Celestial Empire”. The political life of the United States is through European influences, in a state of complete demoralization, and the Chinese Constitution alone contains elements of regeneration. For this reason, a railroad to the Pacific is of such vast importance, since by its means the Chinese trade will be conducted straight across the North American continent. This trade must bring in its train Chinese civilization. All that is usually alleged against China is mere calumny spread purposefully, just like those calumnies which are circulated in Europe about the United States”.

With Lincoln’s 1861 presidential victory, Gilpin became Lincoln’s bodyguard and ensured the president survived his first assassination attempt en route to Washington from Illinois. During the Civil War, Gilpin was made Colorado’s first Governor where he successfully stopped the southern power from opening up a western front during the war of secession (applying Lincoln’s greenback system to finance his army on a state level) and winning the “Battle of Glorieta Pass”, thus saving the union.

After the war Gilpin became a leading advocate of the internationalization of the “American system of political economy” which Lincoln applied vigorously during his short-lived presidency. Citing the success of Lincoln’s system, Gilpin said: “No amount of argument will make America adopt old world theories… To rely upon herself, to develop her own resources, to manufacture everything that can possibly be manufactured within her territory- this is and has been the policy of the USA from the time of Alexander Hamilton to that of Henry Clay and thence to our own days”.

Throughout his speeches Gilpin emphasizes the role of a U.S.-Russia alliance: “It is a simple and plain proposition that Russia and the United States, each having broad, uninhabited areas and limitless undeveloped resources, would by the expenditure of 2 or 3 hundred millions apiece for a highway of the nations threw their now waste places, add a hundredfold to their wealth and power and influence”

And seeing in China’s potential the means to re-enliven the world- including the decadent and corrupt culture of Europe: “In Asia a civilization resting on a basis of remote antiquity has had, indeed, a long pause, but a certain civilization- although hitherto hermetically sealed up has continued to exist. The ancient Asiatic colossus, in a certain sense, needed only to be awakened to new life and European culture finds a basis there on which it can build future reforms.”

In opposition to the outdated British controls of “chock points” on the seas which kept the world under the clutches of the might of London, Gilpin advocated loudly for a system of internal improvements, rail development, and growth of the innate goodness of all cultures and people through scientific and technological progress. Once a global system of mutual development of rail were established, Gilpin stated “in the shipment of many kinds of raw and manufactured goods, it will largely supersede the ocean traffic of Great Britain, in whose hands is now carrying the trade of the world.”

Gilpin’s vision was most clearly laid out in his 1890 magnum opus “The Cosmopolitan Railway” which featured designs for development corridors across all continents united by a “community of principle”.

Echoing the win-win philosophy of Xi Jinping’s New Silk Road today, Gilpin stated:

“The cosmopolitan railway will make the whole world one community. It will reduce the separate nations to families of our great nation… From extended intercommunication will arise a wider intercourse of human ideas and as the result, logical and philosophical reciprocities, which will become the germs for innumerable new developments; for in the track of intercommunication, enterprise and invention invariably follow and whatever facilitates one stimulates every other agency of progress.”

Mahan Derails America’s Anti-Imperial Identity

Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914) represented an opposing paradigm which true American statesmen like Lincoln, Secretary of State James Blaine, William Seward, President Grant, William Garfield, and McKinley detested. Sadly, with McKinley’s murder (run by an anarchist ring with ties to British Intelligence) and the rise of Teddy Roosevelt in 1901, it was not Gilpin’s but rather Mahan’s worldview which became the dominant foreign policy doctrine for the next 120 years (despite a few brief respites under FDR and JFK).

Mahan is commonly credited for being a co-founder of modern geopolitics and an inspiration for Halford Mackinder. Having graduated from West Point’s naval academy in 1859, Mahan soon became renowned as a total failure in actual combat having crashed warships repeatedly into moving and stationary objects during the Civil War. Since reality was not his forte, Mahan focused his post-war career on Ivory tower theorizing gushing over maps of the world and fawning over Britain’s power as a force of world history.

His “Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783 published in the same year that Gilpin published his Cosmopolitan Railway (1890) was a total break from the spirit of win-win cooperation that defined America’s foreign policy. According to the Diplomat, this book soon “became the bible for many navies around the world” with the Kaiser of Germany (now released from the influence of the great rail-loving statesman Otto von Bismarck whom he fired in 1890) demanding all of his offers read. Later Teddy Roosevelt ordered copies for every member of Congress. In Mahan’s book, the geopolitician continuously asserts his belief that it is America’s destiny to succeed the British Empire.

Taking the British imperial definition of “commerce” which uses free trade as a cover for the military dominance of weak nations (open borders and turning off protectionism simply makes a people easier to rob), Mahan attempts to argue that America need not continue to adhere to “outdated” habits like the Munroe doctrine since the new order of world empires demands America stay relevant in a world of sea power and empire. Mahan writes: “The advance of Russia in Asia, in the division of Africa, in the colonial ambitions of France and in the British idea of Imperial Federation, now fast assuming concrete shape in practical combined action in South Africa” demands that the USA act accordingly.

Attempting to refute the “outdated habits” of rail development which consume so many foolish statesmen around the globe, Mahan states: “a railway competes in vain with a river… because more facile and copious, water traffic is for equal distances much cheaper and because cheaper, more useful”. Like those attacking today’s Belt and Road Initiative, the power of railways is that their returns are not measurable by simple monetary terms, but are rather QUALITATIVE. The long-term construction of rail systems not only unite divided people, increase manufacturing and industrial corridors but also induce closer powers of association and interchange between agriculture and urban producers. These processes uplift national productive powers building full spectrum economies and also a culture’s capacity for creative thought.

The attempt made to justify sea traffic merely because “larger amounts of goods can be shipped” is purely quantitative and monetaristic sophistry devoid of any science of real value.

While Gilpin celebrates the successful awakening of China and other great nations of the world, in the Problem of Asia (1901) Mahan says: “It is scarcely desirable that so vast a proportion of mankind as the Chinese constitute should be animated by but one spirit”. Should China “burst her barriers eastward, it would be impossible to exaggerate the momentous issues dependant upon a firm hold of the Hawaiian islands by a great civilized maritime power.”

Mahan’s adherence to social Darwinism is present throughout his works as he defines the political differences of the 3 primary branches of humanity (Teutonic, Slavic and Asiatic) as purely rooted in the intrinsic inferiority or superiority of their race saying: “There are well recognized racial divergencies which find concrete expression in differences equally marked of political institution, of social progress and of individual development. These differences are… deep seated in the racial constitution and partly the result of the environment”. Mahan goes onto restate his belief that unlike the superior Teutonics “the Oriental, whether national or individual does not change” and “the East does not progress”.

Calling China a carcass to be devoured by an American eagle, Mahan writes: “If life departs, a carcass can be utilized only by dissection or for food; the gathering to it of the eagles is a natural law, of which it is bootless to complain… the onward movement of the world has to be accepted as a fact.”

Championing an Anglo American alliance needed to subdue and “civilize” China as part of the post-Boxer Rebellion, Mahan says “of all the nations we shall meet in the East, Great Britain is the one with which we have by far the most in common in the nature of our interests there and in our standards of law and justice”.

In case there was any doubt in the minds of Mahan’s readers as to the MEANS which America should assert its dominance onto China, Mahan makes clear his belief that progress is caused by 1) force and 2) war: “That such a process should be underlain by force… on the part of outside influences, force of opposition among the latter themselves [speaking of the colonial European monarchies racing to carve up China in 1901 -ed] may be regrettable, but it is only a repetition of all history… Every step forward in the march that has opened in China to trade has been gained by pressure; the most important have been the result of actual war.”

A Last Anti-Imperial Push

The chaos induced by the anti-foreigner Boxer Rebellion of 1899 which spread quickly across China resulted a heated battle between imperial and anti-imperial forces in both Russia and the USA. Where Transport Minister Sergei Witte who spearheaded the development of the Trans Siberian rail line (1890-1905) tried to avoid military entanglement, McKinley was busy doing the same.

The boxers soon attacked the Manchurian rail connecting Russia to China by land and Witte succumbed to pressure to finally send in troops. The reformers of China who attempted to modernize with American and Russian assistance under Emperor Kuang Hsu and Li Hung Chang fell from power as total anarchy reigned. The outcome of the Boxer chaos involved the imperial powers of France, Germany and England demanding immense financial reparations, ownership of Chinese territory and mass executions of the Boxers.

While McKinley is often blamed for America’s imperial turn, the reality is just the opposite.

The Spanish-American war begun in 1898 was actually launched unilaterally by Anglophilic racist Theodore Roosevelt who used the 4 hour window he had while Undersecretary of the Navy (while the actual Secretary was out of Washington) to send orders to Captain Dewey of the Pacific fleet to engage in a fight with the Spanish over their Philippine territories. McKinley had resisted the war hawks until that point but found himself finally bending to the momentum. In China, McKinley, like Witte worked desperately to reject taking territory resulting in great fears from the British oligarchy that a U.S.-Russia alliance led by McKinley and Witte was immanent.

The assassination of McKinley on September 18, 1901 catapulted Mahan-loving Vice President Teddy Roosevelt into high office, who enmeshed America into a new epoch of Anglo-American imperialism abroad, a growth of eugenics and segregation at home and the creation of an independent police state agency called the FBI.

As Sieff writes“Roosevelt devoted his next eight years in the presidency and the rest of his life to integrating the United States and the British Empire into a seamless web of racial imperialist oppression that dominated Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and that destroyed the cultural history and heritage of the Native North American nations.”

In Russia, the 1902 Anglo-Japan Treaty led to the disastrous Japan-Russo war of 1905 which devastated the Russian navy, ended the political career of Sergei Witte and threw Russia into chaos leading to the fall of the Romanovs (Czar Nicholas II was the last statesman occupying high office that this author is aware of to have actively promoted the Bering Strait Tunnel rail connection in 1906. It wasn’t until FDR’s Vice President Henry Wallace met with Foreign Minister Molotov in 1942 that the idea resurfaced once more).

In his Two Peoples One Friendship, Wallace described his discussions with Foreign Minister Molotov in 1942 saying:

“Of all nations, Russia has the most powerful combination of a rapidly increasing population, great natural resources and immediate expansion in technological skills. Siberia and China will furnish the greatest frontier of tomorrow… When Molotov [Russia’s Foreign Minister] was in Washington in the spring of 1942 I spoke to him about the combined highway and airway which I hope someday will link Chicago and Moscow via Canada, Alaska and Siberia. Molotov, after observing that no one nation could do this job by itself, said that he and I would live to see the day of its accomplishment. It would mean much to the peace of the future if there could be some tangible link of this sort between the pioneer spirit of our own West and the frontier spirit of the Russian East.”

While the “open door” rape of the China was attempted by the Anglo-Americans, a fortunate rear guard maneuver orchestrated by another follower of Abraham Lincoln named Sun Yat-sen resulted in a surprise overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in 1911 and the institution of the Republic of China with Sun Yat-sen as the acting President. While Sun Yat-sen sided with Gilpin and Lincoln in opposition to the Mahanists on the issue of rail and industrial development (illustrated in his extraordinary 1920 International Development of China program which called for 160 000 km of rail, water diversion projects, ports and 1.5 million km of paved roads- illustrated below), the intrigues that sank the world into World War I made any hopes of this early development of China impossible in Sun Yat-sen’s lifetime.

Expressing his own deep understanding of these top down tactics of world history (and the recognition that the same British imperial forces that orchestrated the US Civil War were planning to do the same to China), Sun Yat-sen wrote in 1912:

“We understand too well that there are certain men of power—not to include for the present, certain nations—who would view with a greater or lesser satisfaction an internal rupture in the new Republic [of China]. They would welcome, as a move toward the accomplishment of their own ends and designs, a civil war between the provinces of the North and the South; just as, 50 years ago, there was applause in secret (in certain quarters) over the terrible civil strife in the United States.

Americans of today who were alive in those dark days of the great republic will remember the feelings in the hearts of the people—the bitter and painful thoughts that arose from the knowledge that foreigners were hoping and praying for the destruction of the American Union.

Had the war been successful from the South’s standpoint, and had two separate republics been established, is it not likely that perhaps half a dozen or more weak nations would have eventually been established? I believe that such would have been the result; and I further believe that with the one great nation divided politically and commercially, outsiders would have stepped in sooner or later and made of America their own. I do not believe that I am stating this too forcibly. If so, I have not read history nor studied men and nations intelligently.

And I feel that we have such enemies abroad as the American republic had; and that at certain capitals the most welcome announcement that would be made would be that of a rebellion in China against the constituted authorities.

This is a hard statement to make; but I believe in speaking the truth so that all the world may know and recognize it.”

Today’s Belt and Road Initiative, and strategic friendship established between Russia and China has re-awoken the forgotten vision of William Gilpin for a world of cooperating sovereign nation states. Does the USA have the moral ability to avoid disintegration by accepting a Russia-U.S.-China alliance needed to revive McKinley’s American System or will we slip into a new Great Reset and World War?

Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow, BRI Expert on Tactical talk, and has authored 3 volumes of ‘Untold History of Canada’ book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide FoundationHe can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

Pakistan is steadfast… So far. باكستان صامدة… إلى الآن

**Please scroll down for the English Machine translation**

باكستان صامدة… إلى الآن

باكستان صامدة... إلى الآن

الاخبار

الخميس 24 كانون الأول 2020

تتعرّض باكستان لضغوط شتّى يراد من ورائها جرّها بالقوّة إلى التطبيع مع إسرائيل والتموضع ضمن محور لا يزال في طور التشكُّل. محورٌ تشتغل السعودية، ومن ورائها الولايات المتحدة، على تعزيزه ورفده بدولٍ ترى في مهادنة إسرائيل مصلحةً لكفّ يد إيران عن المنطقة. لكن حسابات إسلام آباد لا تبدو متطابقة، على الأقلّ في المدى المنظور، مع رغبة حليفتها الحَرِدة في دفعها إلى حضن تل أبيب. وهو حردٌ نما وتمدّد في أعقاب انتقاد البلد الآسيوي نأيَ المملكة بنفسها عن قضية كشمير، وتلويحه بجمع قادة دول إسلامية خارج عباءة “منظمة التعاون الإسلامي” التي تهيمن عليها الرياض، لنصرة تلك القضية. وعلى رغم مساعي باكستان إلى تدارك الموقف، عن طريق إيفاد رئيس أركانها، قمر جاويد باجوا، منتصف آب/ أغسطس الماضي، إلى السعودية لاحتواء التوتّر، لم يفلح التودُّد في رأب الصدع.

وهكذا، كلّما اغتاظت الرياض وارتفع منسوب التوتّر بينها وبين إسلام آباد المكبّلة بالدين، عاجلتها بالدعوة إلى سداد القرض الميسّر. وكما حصل في أعقاب واقعة “التمرُّد” الباكستاني، حين اضطرّت إلى دفع مليار دولار قبل حلول موعد استحقاقها (هي جزء مِن حزمة إنقاذ أعلنت عنها السعودية في تشرين الأول/ أكتوبر عام 2018، بقيمة 6.2 مليارات دولار: 3 مليارات على شكل قروض، فضلاً عن تسهيلات ائتمانية نفطية بـ 3.2 مليارات دولار)، يبدو أن المملكة أرغمت باكستان، مرّة جديدة، على سداد المبلغ المتبقّي، بعدما أعلن رئيس وزرائها، عمران خان، الشهر الماضي، أن بلاده تتعرّض لضغوط مِن قبل الولايات المتحدة و”دول صديقة” لم يسمّها للاعتراف بإسرائيل، مؤكداً أنه لن يُقدِم على خطوة كتلك “ما لم تكن هناك تسوية تُرضي الفلسطينيين”. وإذ سارع وزير الخارجية الباكستاني، شاه محمود قرشي، إلى نفي صحّة التقارير التي تحدّثت عن سداد بلاده قرضاً بقيمة ملياري دولار للسعودية، والتشديد على “العلاقات المثالية” بين البلدين، أكّد مسؤولون باكستانيون لـ”رويترز” أن إسلام آباد أرجعت بالفعل مليار دولار ضمن الدفعة الثانية من القرض الميسّر، واتّجهت إلى طلب قرض تجاري من بكين، لمساعدتها على تخفيف ضغوط دفع مليار دولار أخرى إلى الرياض الشهر المقبل. وفي هذا الإطار، أكّد مسؤول في وزارة المالية أن المصرف المركزي الباكستاني يجري محادثات مع مصارف تجارية صينية، في حين أبلغ مسؤول في وزارة الخارجية، “رويترز”، أن الصين “هبّت لنجدتنا”. وعلى رغم فائض يبلغ 1.2 مليار دولار في ميزان المعاملات الجارية وتحويلات غير مسبوقة من الخارج بلغت 11.7 مليار دولار في الأشهر الخمسة الأخيرة ساعدت في دعم الاقتصاد الباكستاني، فإن مراقبين يرون أن ردّ الأموال السعودية ينطوي على انتكاسة يحتمل أن تواجه باكستان على إثرها أزمة في ميزان المدفوعات بعد الانتهاء من الدفعة السعودية التالية، ولا سيما وأن احتياطياتها الأجنبية لا تزال عند 13.3 مليار دولار.

لم تألُ الرياض جهداً لجرّ إسلام آباد نحو قاطرة التطبيع

بالعودة إلى التطبيع، لم تألُ الرياض جهداً لجرّ إسلام آباد نحو قاطرة التطبيع. وهو ما لفتت إليه مصادر دبلوماسية وعسكرية باكستانية تحدّثت، أخيراً، إلى صحيفة “هآرتس” العبرية، مؤكّدةً أن السعودية كثّفت ضغوطها، في الأشهر الأخيرة، على باكستان من أجل دفعها في هذا الاتجاه، ولكنها توقّعت أن يتوّلى الجيش الباكستاني هذه المهمّة طمعاً في صفقات دفاعية تسهّلها إسرائيل. ويريد وليّ العهد السعودي، محمد بن سلمان، بحسب الصحيفة، أن تمضي حليفته في هذا الطريق، قبل أن يتخّذ أيّ خطوة رسمية تجاه تل أبيب. ولفتت “هآرتس” إلى أن “باكستان ثاني أكبر دولة ذات غالبية مسلمة من حيث عدد السكان، وهي الدولة الإسلامية الوحيدة المسلّحة نووياً، وتطبيعها سيوفّر سبقاً جيّداً للسعودية”، معتبرةً أن الرياض تمتلك “بطاقة قوية لإسلام آباد، تتمثّل في توفير قرض بقيمة ملياري دولار لإنقاذ البلاد”. كذلك، أشارت إلى أن الجيش الباكستاني، وليس رئيس الوزراء، هو الذي يدير فعلياً الدبلوماسية الباكستانية، مُتوقّعةً أن يلجأ الأوّل إلى إضفاء طابع رسمي على العلاقات مع تل أبيب، على افتراض أن ذلك سيساعده في موازنة الصفقات الدفاعية الواسعة بين الهند وإسرائيل.

مقالات ذات صلة

Pakistan is steadfast… So far.

باكستان صامدة... إلى الآن

Al-Akhbar

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Pakistan is under various pressures to force it to normalize with Israel and to be positioned within an axis that is still in the process of being formed. Saudi Arabia, and the United States, is working to strengthen it and provide it with countries that see Israel’s truce as an interest in iron’s hand in the region. But Islamabad’s calculations do not seem to be identical, at least in the foreseeable future, with its fiery ally’s desire to push it into into Tel Aviv’s lap. He) Imran Khan) is a hard-working man who has grown and expanded in the wake of the Asian country’s criticism of the Saudi kingdom’s distancing itself from the Kashmir issue, and Imran waving of the gathering of leaders of Islamic countries outside Riyadh-dominated Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to support Kashmir cause. Despite Pakistan’s efforts to remedy the situation by sending its chief of staff, Qamar Javed Bajwa, in mid-August, to Saudi Arabia to contain the tension, and bridge the rift.

Thus, the more Riyadh is upset and the level of tension rises between Islamabad and Riyadh, which urgently calls for the repayment of the concessional loan, and forced Islamabad to pay $1 billion before its due date (part of a $6.2 billion bailout announced by Saudi Arabia in October 2018: $3 billion in loans, as well as $3.2 billion in oil credit facilities the kingdom have forced Pakistan, once again, to pay the remaining amount, after its Prime Minister, Imran Khan, announced last month that his country was under pressure from the United States and “friendly countries” he did not name to recognize In Israel, stressing that he would not take such a step “unless there is a settlement that satisfies the Palestinians.”

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi was quick to deny reports that his country had repaid a $2 billion loan to Saudi Arabia and the emphasis on “ideal relations” between the two countries, Pakistani officials confirmed to Reuters that Islamabad had already returned $1 billion in the second installment of the concessional loan and turned to requesting a commercial loan from Beijing, to help it ease the pressure of paying another billion dollars to Riyadh next month. A finance ministry official confirmed that the Central Bank of Pakistan was in talks with Chinese commercial banks, told Reuters that China had “come to our aid.” Despite a $1.2 billion surplus in the current balance of transactions and unprecedented remittances from abroad of $11.7 billion in the last five months that have helped support Pakistan’s economy, observers see the Saudi money back as a setback, with Pakistan likely to face a balance of payments crisis after the next Saudi push, especially as its foreign reserves remain at $13.3billion.

Riyadh spared no effort to drag Islamabad towards the locomotive of normalization

Back to normalization, Riyadh spared no effort to drag Islamabad towards the normalization. This was pointed out by Pakistani diplomatic and military sources who spoke to the Hebrew newspaper Haaretz, stressing that Saudi Arabia had intensified its pressure, in recent months, on Pakistan to push it in this direction, but it expected that the Pakistani army would take over this task in the hope of defensive deals. Facilitated by Israel. Between India and Israel

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the newspaper, wants his ally to go down this path, before taking any official step toward Tel Aviv. “Pakistan is the second most populous Muslim country, the only nuclear-armed Islamic state, and its normalisation will provide a good precedent for Saudi Arabia,” Haaretz said, adding that Riyadh has “a strong card for Islamabad, which is to provide a $2 billion loan to save the country.” Haaretz also noted that it was the Pakistani army, not the Prime Minister, that effectively administered Pakistani diplomacy, expecting the former to formalise relations with Tel Aviv, assuming that it would help him balance the broad defence deals between India and Israel.

A Hard Look at Rent and Rent Seeking with Michael Hudson & Pepe Escobar

Source

A Hard Look at Rent and Rent Seeking with Michael Hudson & Pepe Escobar

December 23, 2020

Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar discuss rent and rent-seeking, i.e., unproductive economic activity, in the US and China mainly but including the Russian, Iranian and Brazilian economies.

In the first 15 minutes, an overview from Michael Hudson explains what happened in the US economy once jobs and manufacturing were offshored to mainly China.  He proposes that even if China did not exist, the US economy has been changed to the extent that it is almost impossible to change back to a productive economy without material changes in the economic model.

Pepe keeps the conversation flowing quickly with incisive questions.  The two esteemed gentlemen take a look at the Chinese view on a possible Biden administration and how the military hawks in Washington could be countered.   Outlining the ‘conflict of systems’ between the US and China, Michael Hudson explains the thinking of the Pentagon and paying ‘protection money’ historically to fund oligarchies.  It is a ‘war between systems’, Hudson explains with the thinking being:  “If only China did not export to us, we could reindustrialize.”

“It’s over”: says Hudson, because “we’ve painted ourselves into such a debt corner.  So much money flows to the top 5% that there is no money for investment, no money for growth.”

Hudson explains the concept of capitalism, how it was conceived to work against neo-liberalism, and how it has changed to systemic support for rentier economics.

A wealth of detail follows, around fictitious debt and wealth creation.   Michael discusses the ‘brainwashing’ of Russia vis a vis economic policy and central bank to end up in a position where Russia was paying 100% interest for years under American advisors and privatized rentiers, “a bunch of gangsters.”   Very interesting is the discussion on how the perpetrators, the leading university of the US in the destruction and looting of Russia, could not be brought to a court.

“You don’t need an army to destroy a country any longer.  All you need to do is to teach it American economics.”  Michael Hudson

A question from Pepe regarding the economies of North East Asia, South East Asia, the Asia Crisis and currently further integration with Russia, resulted in this very cogent quote from Michael Hudson.

“The current mode of warfare is to conquer the brains of a country, to shape how people think.  If you can twist their view into unreality economics, to make them think you are there to help them and not to take money out of them, then you’ve got them hooked.  You need to lend them money, and then crash it.”  Michael Hudson.

The conversation ends with an extensive question from Pepe regarding the biggest myth regarding Belt and Road, the supposed ‘debt trap’.  The difference in systems, non-rentier, and rentier, debt, and neo-liberalism again is illustrated in a crystal clear fashion.

Pirates are breaking through America’s fortified walls. Is there any secret left? القراصنة يخترقون أسوار أميركا الحصينة.. هل بقي من أسرار؟

**Please scroll down for the English Machine translation**

الميادين نت

21 كانون الأول 20:03

منذر سليمان مدير مكتب الميادين في واشنطن و جعفر الجعفري 

تبدو أميركا مكشوفة لمن أقدم على الاختراق الذي يوازيه في الخطورة اهتزاز الثقة بتفوق التقنية الأميركية في النطاق السيبراني.

لم يعد هناك من يستطيع تخفيف هول الصَّدمة التي تعرّضت لها الولايات المتحدة

اكتشفت الولايات المتحدة أنها كانت تتعرَّض لهجمات قرصنة واسعة النطاق منذ “شهر آذار/مارس 2020 على الأقل”، بحسب الرواية الرسمية، ومنذ مطلع تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2019، بحسب اختصاصيي البرمجيات. شملت جهود القرصنة أعلى درجات المؤسَّسات السريّة في النظام السياسي والدفاعي الأميركي، والوزارات السيادية والهيئات الحكومية، وتلك المعنية بالإشراف على تطوير الأسلحة النووية.

تباينت سبل تقييم الضرر وحصره منذ البداية، وخصوصاً أن الكشف تم “بالصدفة”، وعبر شركة خاصة كطرف ثالث، حتى أصبح بعض كبار العلماء يقتربون من الجزم بأنَّ التوقف عند التداعيات “يبدو شبه مستحيل”. الاختصاصي في علم التشفير والأمن السيبراني في جامعة “هارفرد” العريقة، بروس شنايير، ذهب إلى المطالبة “بالتخلّي عن (النظم) الراهنة وإعادة تشكيلها من الصفر”، كحل وحيد لضمان أمن الشبكات التي تعرّضت للقرصنة.

لم يعد هناك من يستطيع تخفيف هول الصَّدمة التي تعرّضت لها الولايات المتحدة، ولا سيَّما بين السياسيين، في ظل الإقرار الجماعي من السياسيين والاختصاصيين بأنهم أُخذوا على حين غرة، “وتمت تعرية ثغرة أمنية حساسة محتملة في البنى التحتية للتقنية الأميركية المتطورة”.

عضو لجنتي الاستخبارات والقوات المسلَّحة، السيناتور آنغس كينغ، كان من أوائل السياسيين الذين أوضحوا حجم الاختراق، قائلاً: “يشكّل الهجوم، بكلّ أسف، حملة تجسس شاملة وناجحة استهدفت المعلومات والبيانات السرية للحكومة الأميركية. جهود التقصي الجارية توضح أنه هجوم استثنائي في نطاقه وتقنياته المعقَّدة وتداعياته”.

الاختصاصي في الأمن الإلكتروني في جامعة “جونز هوبكينز”، توماس ريد، أعرب عن اعتقاده بأنَّ ما ظفر به القراصنة من ملفات وبيانات مختلفة، “يعادل عدة مرات ارتفاع مسلّة واشنطن” التي ترتفع نحو 170 متراً أو 555 قدماً.

رئيس لجنة الاستخبارات في مجلس الشيوخ، ماركو روبيو، خرج عن طوره المعتاد في الدفاع المستميت عن أركان الدولة وأجهزتها المتعدّدة، وقال عقب إحاطة سريّة شارك بها مع كبار مسؤولي الأجهزة الاستخباراتية: “لا يزال مدى الحجم الكامل للقرصنة غير معلوم، لكنَّنا ندرك أنَّ نطاقه غير مسبوق. على الأرجح، لا تزال القرصنة جارية، وعلى درجة من التعقيد لا تقدر عليها إلا بضع دول فقط”.

استهدفت جهود القراصنة شبكات الأجهزة والوزارات الأميركية التالية، بحسب تقييم اللجنة الموحّدة لمكافحة القرصنة المشكّلة من أعلى مستويات الأجهزة الاستخباراتية والأمنية: وزارات الخزانة والتجارة والأمن الداخلي والخارجية والطاقة، والإدارة الفيدرالية الناظمة للطاقة، والمختبرات العلمية التي تجري أبحاثاً سريّة وغيرها لحساب وزارة الطاقة (“سانديا” و”لوس ألاموس”)، والهيئة الوطنية للأمن النووي – المشرفة على الترسانة النووية للولايات المتحدة، ومكتب حماية النقل الاتحادي. وأُضيف تباعاً عدد من المؤسَّسات والهيئات الأخرى، أبرزها مصلحة الضرائب وسجلات الرعاية الصحية في بعض الولايات.

آلية اختراق القراصنة، وفق ما حدَّدتها الأجهزة الأمنية وتبنّتها الوسائل الإعلامية كافة، عبّرت عنها يومية “نيويورك تايمز”، قائلة إنَّها من النوع الذي استهدف “سلسلة التوريدات” التي تعتمد عليها كل الأجهزة والهيئات الرسمية من شبكات القطاع الخاص بكل تشعباتها واختصاصاتها، وإنها “شملت 18000 شبكة وجهة حكومية”. ومضت الصحيفة وغيرها إلى القول إنَّ من المرجّح أن تكون روسيا وراء الهجوم، ليجري تبنّي السردية تباعاً على لسان وزير الخارجية مايك بومبيو.

بما أنّ المسؤولية الرسمية للجهة أو الجهات الفاعلة لم يتم تحديدها أو توفير أدلّة حولها، خرج الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب عن صمته “الطويل” ليناقض وزير خارجيته وآخرين، قائلاً في تغريداته الشهيرة: “تم إعلامي بشكل كامل، وكل شيء تحت السيطرة. روسيا روسيا روسيا، هذه أول لازمة تتردد عند حصول أي شيء”، مشيراً إلى أن الصين “قد” تكون متورطة أيضاً.

“وكالة الأمن الوطني” والهيئات الأمنية الأخرى أصدرت بياناً مشتركاً في 17 كانون الأول/ديسمبر الجاري، تحذر فيه من “هجمات قرصنة جارية من قبل روسيا”، فاقمها اختراق برامج شركة “سولار ويندز”، الذي يتكامل مع الجهد الروسي السابق المعروف للسيطرة على بيانات المتعاقدين، لكن الوكالة الرسمية والمكلفة بالإشراف على التحقيقات لم توجه التهمة مباشرة إلى روسيا.

“سلسلة التوريدات” المشار إليها أعلاه تأثرت بنجاح دخول القراصنة إلى تحديثات برنامج شركة “سولار ويندز” قبل عرضه على الخادم المصرح لزبائنها استخدامه وتفعيل التحديث، الحلقة الأضعف في السلسلة، وتم تنزيل التحديث المقرصن على الأجهزة المتصلة التي تمتد على نطاق واسع لأدق الهيئات حساسية في الحكومة الأميركية والمتعاقدين معها من قطاع خاص، وربما حكومات أجنبية قيل إن “إسرائيل والإمارات” من بينها، وبالتالي استطاع القراصنة ضمان “ثغرة خلفية” للنفاذ إلى الشبكات والأجهزة والاستفادة من البيانات والمعلومات الهائلة على خوادمها وأجهزتها الفردية.

يشير بعض الاختصاصيين إلى جزء يسير من جهود القراصنة الذين عملوا بدأب وتأنٍ على امتداد عدة سنوات، استطاعوا خلالها التحكّم بشبكات “تم التخلي عنها سابقاً”، وإعادة استخدامها للنفاذ إلى “الحلقة الأضعف” في سلسلة التوريدات عبر شركة “سولار ويندز”. مسؤول استخباراتي سابق في الأجهزة البريطانية أبلغ زملاءه الأميركيين بأن “عدة حكومات غربية، إضافة إلى الولايات المتحدة، تتوقع التوصل إلى أدلّة على اختراقات في نظمها في الأسابيع المقبلة”، ويعتقد أن القرصنة المكتشفة تعود إلى “4 سنوات” مضت.

العنصر الفارق في هذه الحالة، وفق هؤلاء، “أنَّ الجهود الحديثة لم تستهدف تدمير الشبكات وإلغاء البيانات أو التلاعب بها، كما درجت عادة هواة القراصنة، بل زرعت برامجها الضارة، واختبأت لعدة سنوات، إلى أن تم الكشف عنها عن طريق الصدفة”، الأمر الذي حفّز منسق الأمن السيبراني الأسبق في إدارة الرئيس أوباما، مايكل دانيال، إلى توصيف ما جرى بأنه بمثابة “عين سوداء” للأجهزة الاستخباراتية الأميركية، التي استنفدت جهوداً عالية في التوعية من التدخل الروسي في الانتخابات الرئاسية، محذراً من النطاق العميق والواسع للقرصنة، “والذي سيتطلب زمناً طويلاً لتحديد مدى الدمار، وربما ستكون هناك كلفة مرتفعة لتحصين الشبكات المختلفة”.

يشار إلى أنَّ حادث قرصنة سابقاً في العام 2017 استهدف “البرامج الضريبية الأوكرانية”، كانت له تداعيات على مستويات عالمية، وتأثرت به “شركة فيد إكس”، التي دفعت 400 مليون دولار للتغلب عليه، وأيضاً شركة “ميرك” للأدوية التي كلفها الأمر مبلغ 670 مليون دولار.

التقديرات الأولية للأضرار

الهيئة الوطنية للأمن النووي المكلفة بـ”الحماية والتيقن من سلامة أمن الترسانة النووية الأميركية وفعاليتها”، يشمل نطاق عملها المفاعلات النووية المولدة للطاقة على متن حاملات السفن والغواصات الأميركية، والإشراف على التفجيرات النووية المسموح بها وفق المعايير الدولية التي تجريها في صحراء ولاية نيفادا على عمق 225 متراً تحت سطح الأرض.

وبما أن مكونات الأسلحة النووية من “بلوتونيوم” و”تريتيوم” معرضة للتحلل النووي، يقع على عاتق الهيئة التيقن من حجم التحلل للقيام بصيانته أو التخلص منه، باستخدامها أحدث التقنيات الخاصة بتجارب محاكاة التفجير النووي.

من خصائص الهيئة امتلاكها البرامج الإلكترونية التي تعينها على تصميم أسلحة نووية وحساب الطاقة الناجمة بدقة. تستخدم الهيئة قدراتها التقنية لتصميم وتطوير المفاعلات النووية لصالح سلاح البحرية، والتقيد بصرامة بحجمها وحمولتها أثناء تنقلاتها، والتخلص من النفايات النووية وإشعاعاتها.

وتمتلك الهيئة أيضاً ورشات عمل متطورة لإنتاج بعض المعدات النووية الحساسة، ومنها منشأة الصاعق الوطني المختصة بأبحاث إشعاع الليزر، لاختبار حجم الضغط الأولي للمتفجرات النووية.

استناداً إلى ما تمتلكه “الهيئة الوطنية للأمن النووي” وتمثله من قدرات علمية وبشرية بالغة الحساسية والسرية، لم يكن مستغرباً تعرّضها للهجمات السيبرانية، بل كانت من أولى الهيئات الحكومية التي تمت قرصنتها، بحسب الأجهزة الاستخباراتية الأميركية.

من المستبعد أن يصدر تقرير وافٍ وشفاف حول نطاق الاختراق الإلكتروني في أي وقت قريب، لكن توفر مثل هذه المعلومات الحساسة لأي جهة، رسمية كانت أو غير رسمية، قد يعادل تسليم أسرار تصنيع القنابل النووية لأي جهة لا تملكها. أميركا تبدو مكشوفة لمن أقدم على الاختراق الذي يوازيه في الخطورة اهتزاز الثقة بتفوق التقنية الأميركية في النطاق السيبراني.

فيديوات ذات صلة

مقالات متعلقة

Pirates are breaking through America’s fortified walls. Is there any secret left?

America seems exposed to those who have made the breakthrough, which is that is equivalent in severity to the shaking of confidence in the superiority of American technology in the cyberspace.

The United States has discovered that it has been the target of large-scale piracy attacks since “at least March 2020,” according to the official version, and since early October 2019, according to software specialists. Hacking efforts included the highest levels of secret institutions in the U.S. political and defense system, sovereign ministries and government agencies, and those involved in overseeing the development of nuclear weapons.

The methods of assessing and limiting the damage varied from the beginning, especially since the detection was done “by chance”, and through a private company as a third party, so that some leading scientists came close to asserting that stopping at the fallout “seems almost impossible.” Bruce Schneier, a specialist in cryptographic and cybersecurity at Harvard University, went on to demand that “the current systems be abandoned and reconfigured from scratch” as the only solution to ensure the security of hacked networks.

No one can ease the trauma of the United States, particularly among politicians, with the collective admission of politicians and specialists that they were taken by surprise, “and a potentially sensitive security gap has been exposed in the infrastructure of advanced U.S. technology.”

“The attack is, unfortunately, a comprehensive and successful espionage campaign targeting the U.S. government’s classified information and data,” said Senator Angus King, a member of the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees. The ongoing investigation efforts demonstrate that it is an exceptional attack in its scope, complex techniques and implications.”

Thomas Reed, a cybersecurity specialist at Johns Hopkins University, believed that the hacker’s various files and data were “several times the height of the Washington Obelisk” which rises about 170 meters or 555feet.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco Rubio, departing from his usual phase of desperate defense of the nation’s pillars and multiple agencies, said after a secret briefing he shared with top intelligence officials: “The full extent of the hacking remains unknown, but we recognize that its scope is unprecedented. Most likely, piracy is still going on, and it is a degree of complexity that only a few countries can afford.”

According to the U.S. Unified Committee against Piracy, which is made up of the highest levels of intelligence and security agencies, the hacker’s efforts targeted the following U.S. agencies and departments: the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, State, And Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Administration, scientific laboratories conducting covert and other research for the Department of Energy (Sandia and Los Alamos), the National Nuclear Security Agency , which oversees the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and the Federal Transportation Protection Bureau. A number of other institutions and bodies have been added, most notably the Tax authority and health-care records in some states.

The mechanism of hacker penetration, according to what was identified by the security services and adopted by all media outlets, was expressed by the daily “The New York Times”, saying that it was the kind that targeted the “supply chain” on which all official agencies and bodies depend from the private sector networks with all their ramifications and specializations, and that it “included 18,000 government destination networks. The newspaper and others went on to say that Russia was likely behind the attack, so that the narrative would be adopted in turn by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Since the official responsibility of the actor or actors has not been determined or provided with evidence, U.S. President Donald Trump broke his “long” silence to contradict his secretary of state and others, saying in his famous tweets: “I have been fully informed, and everything is under control. Russia, Russia, Russia, this is the first crisis that resonates when anything happens,” he said, adding that China “may” be involved as well.

The National Security Agency and other security agencies issued a joint statement on December 17, warning of “ongoing hacking attacks by Russia,” exacerbated by the hacking of SolarWinds software, which is integrated with Russia’s previous well-known effort to control contractors’ data, but the official agency charged with overseeing the investigations did not directly charge Russia.

The “supply chain” referred to above was affected by the success of the hacker access to solar winds software updates before it was introduced to the authorized server for its customers to use it and activate the update, the weakest link in the chain, and downloaded the pirated update to connected devices that extend widely to the most sensitive bodies in the U.S. government and its private contractors, and possibly foreign governments said that “Israel and the Emirates” among them, and thus the hackers were able to secure a “rear gap” to access networks and devices and take advantage of the vast data and information on their servers and individual devices.

Some specialists point to a fraction of the efforts of hackers who have worked diligently and diligently over several years, during which they have been able to control “previously abandoned” networks and reuse them to access the “weaker link” in the supply chain through Solar Winds.

The difference in this case, they say, “is that recent efforts were not aimed at destroying networks and eliminating or manipulating data, as has traditionally been the practice of hacker enthusiasts, but rather planted their harmful software, and hid for several years, until it was revealed by accident,” which prompted the former cybersecurity coordinator in the Obama administration, Michael Daniel, to describe what has been described as a “black eye” for U.S. intelligence agencies, which have exhausted high efforts to raise awareness of Russian interference in the presidential election, warning of the deep and wide spread of piracy, “which will take a long time to determine the extent of the destruction, and perhaps there will be a high cost of fortifying different networks.”

A previous hacking incident in 2017 targeting “Ukrainian tax programs” has had global repercussions, affecting VidX, which paid $400 million to overcome it, as well as Merck Pharmaceuticals, which cost it $670million.

Preliminary damage estimates

The National Nuclear Security Agency charged with “protecting and verifying the security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear arsenal” includes nuclear reactors generating energy on U.S. ship carriers and submarines, and overseeing nuclear explosions permitted in accordance with international standards conducted in the Nevada desert at a depth of 225 meters below the surface.

Since the components of nuclear weapons of plutonium and tritium are subject to nuclear degradation, it is the authority’s responsibility to ascertain the size of the decomposition for maintenance or disposal, using the latest technology for nuclear explosion simulation experiments.

One of the characteristics of the Authority is its possession of electronic software that helps it to design nuclear weapons and calculate the energy produced accurately. The Authority uses its technical capabilities to design and develop nuclear reactors for the Navy, strictly adhere to its size and payload during its movement, and to dispose of nuclear waste and radiation.

The Authority also has advanced workshops for the production of some sensitive nuclear equipment, including the National Laser Radiation Research Facility, to test the initial pressure volume of nuclear explosives.

Based on the highly sensitive and secret scientific and confidential capabilities of the National Nuclear Security Agency, it was not surprising that it was subjected to cyberattacks, but was one of the first government agencies to be hacked, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.


It is unlikely that a complete and transparent report on the scope of the cyber breach will be issued anytime soon, but the availability of such sensitive information to any party, official or unofficial, may equate to handing over nuclear bomb manufacturing secrets to any party that does not own it. America appears exposed to those who have undertaken the breakthrough that is equivalent in severity to the shaking of confidence in the superiority of American technology in the cyberspace.

Behold the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

Behold the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

December 21, 2020

An astrological reading for Planet Earth at a time of Great Mutation

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The Grand Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is upon us and there is no looking back. Image: Twitter

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. – Oscar Wilde

Today all radio stations on Planet Earth should be playing this song. What the aptly named Fifth Dimension immortalized in their spring of 1969 psychedelic soul classic is now literally true: This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius – the Grand Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21st at 𝟬° in Aquarius.

Aquarius starts just as some dodgy, self-important elites gear up to impose a Great Reset on most of the planet – following a very specific, reductionist and exclusionist political agenda. Yet the real deal is not the Reset; it’s the Mutation.

So we’re all into something much bigger than any neo-Orwellian scenario. To shed much needed light into what seems our current, interminable darkness, I posed selected questions to Vanessa Guazzelli, a respected astrologer, writer and speaker in astrology conferences worldwide, as well as a practicing psychoanalyst and psychologist.

Let astrology fertilize geopolitics. Let the sunshine in.

PE: Arguably not many people around the world are aware that a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction this December 21st seems to represent the ultimate game-changer – defined by serious astrology scholars as the Great Mutation.

Could you please elaborate on what this Mutation really means, astrologically, as it seems to take place every 200 years? And bringing it back to everyday life and politics, are we permitted to infer geopolitical parallels from what the stars are telling us?

VG: By Great Mutation we refer to when the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions change elements, which happens every 200 years as you mentioned. Jupiter and Saturn are in conjunction, astrologically, by ecliptic longitude, every 20 years, not that long a period. However, they keep on intersecting in signs of the same element for 200 years, with the possibility of another 40 years of transition, indicating a greater cycle.

Jupiter and Saturn are what we call social planets and are to be considered in regards to politics and geopolitics. When the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction starts to effectively happen in the next element, it marks the Great Mutation, denoting important socioeconomic and cultural changes. That’s what is happening now.

We come from a two-century period of conjunctions in Earth signs. The emphasis has been on matter and the more tangible dimension of life – material boys and girls in a material world. As we now move on into the element of air, as they conjoin at 0º of Aquarius, a call for sublimation takes place.

All that is solid mutates into air. Things and procedures can be less material and more digital and, to some extent, virtual. But not only that. Shared ideas and ideals gain yet more importance. More then what we materially have, with whom and what for is what matters most. Collaboration and cooperation are, now more than ever, the winds which make the world go around.

This is indeed a highly significant astrological aspect and configuration happening on December 21, at 18h20 UTC. In parts of Asia and Oceania, it will be already past midnight, on December 22.

This is not only the Great Mutation but a Great Conjunction, when the two farthest visible planets conjoin not merely by longitude but also by latitude (ecliptic coordinates), by both right ascension and declination (equatorial coordinates). That means they are not just aligned in the same direction but really, really close to each other in the sky as seen from Earth, almost as if they were one and the same star.

Last time the two heavenly bodies have been that close was in 1623, but that was not a Great Mutation, just a regular conjunction in terms of ecliptic longitude. Astrologically, the fact that all these enhancements happen together at this time intensifies the significance of what this conjunction now indicates, how powerful a mutation it marks.

In everyday life, it also speaks of an increase in technological development, digitalization of things and procedures, including crypto-currencies and digital money as a sort of “sublimed” money, from matter to a lighter, less material “substance” which can quickly circulate through air.

At a more personal level, we tend to lose interest in social contexts which are not in tune with our ideas and ideals, and we’re pulled towards groups, associations and projects in the same wavelength as we are. It is not a time to merely rely on institutions to take care of people, but a time to discern for oneself and then connect with others with shared interests, ideals, purposes.

The air element is where we open space and make room for the Other, be it in respect for differences or to collaborate and cooperate towards shared interests and projects. Co-op’s, where every participant gets a fair, proportional share, in a joint enterprise, is surely a way to go.

Aquarius is opposite to the centralizing sign of Leo. Geopolitically, that is to say, it is not the time for a hegemonic single star to rule the world, but a time of many stars illuminating the entire sky. It is not a time for a single empire. There can be empires, if in plural. The strength of powerful nations now lies, more than ever, in the quality of their partnerships and alliances in mutual respect, as equals.

Any power which loses sight of that crucial key will see it, in the short or long run, backfire. Some are more powerful than others and some will be more prominent than others. Nonetheless, they are not alone. It is time for a multipolar world – now that is the Mandate of Heaven.

Regarding the Great Mutation’s astro-cartographic map, which shows the lines of planetary positions on the face of the Earth, it is interesting to notice that the IC lines of Jupiter and Saturn go through Beijing, indicating the relevance of China in the foundation of this 200-year cycle, for the IC is the root of an astrological chart.

On the other side of the globe, we see the MC lines of the two planets going through South America (Venezuela, Brazilian Amazon, Bolivia, Argentina), showing the value of the continent’s resources in this new cycle.

What the Davos crew is up to

PE: Our current, turbulent juncture seems to be pointing towards increased bio-security and what some serious systemic analysis defines as techno-feudalism. All this implies hyper-concentration of power – and not only power exercised by the geopolitical hegemon, the United States. Should we now expect a serious mutation of the world-system – as studied by Immanuel Wallerstein, in the sense of serious changes to our capitalist system?

Immanuel Wallerstein. Source: Wikimedia Commons

VG: Yes, we should. We are at the very turning point of the world-system. Along with the Great Mutation, another immensely significant aspect in the 2020s is the Saturn-Neptune conjunction, in February 2026, at 0º of Aries. This is precisely the first degree of the whole Zodiac, also called the Vernal Point – crucial in astrological interpretation.

Saturn and Neptune conjoin every 36 years, which is a relatively short historical cycle. However, as with the Great Mutation, the way it occurs and where in occurs in the Zodiac can lead us to broader historical perspectives and indicate more expressive historical moments.

If we go back up to 7,000 years ago, this conjunction has occurred at the Vernal Point only in 4361 B.C. and 1742 B.C. If we look up three thousand years ahead, the closest it gets to the Vernal Point is 3º of Aries in 3172. Quite rare. So this conjunction at the first degree of the Zodiac, 0º of Aries – the very beginning – is not that small a deal.

Neptune impregnates and conceives; Saturn refers to the concrete structure of reality; and 0º of Aries means new, springing up. Saturn-Neptune on 0º Aries means a new conception of reality.

Aspects between Saturn and Neptune, by historical observation, are associated with socialism and communism – these movements on Earth coincide with the transiting contacts between these two planets in the sky. It has already been proven in mundane astrology historically. Moreover, this does not just tell us about the past, for it is in fact just about to begin – upgrading and advancing, reconfiguring itself in yet new forms of socialism.

According to Wallerstein, during the structural crisis which characterizes the final period of a world-system, a bifurcation of the system can tilt to one of either directions, or to multiple systems. Before passing away last year, he did consider us to be right in the middle of the structural crisis of capitalism, which lasts 60 to 80 years.

I’d say at this moment we are past the mid-point. It could, initially, go towards multiple systems in two branches: on the one hand, the freshness of the Eastern winds inspiring socialism and multipolarity through the Belt and Road Initiative and the integration of Eurasia and its partners; on the other hand, the whirlwind of the collapsing empire and its Western allies as a terminator cyborg operated by the perverse 0.0001% who are so lifeless they cannot conceive other people’s right to exist.

When I first heard about it in June 2020, it astonished me how they set the “Great Reset” for January 2021, so close to the Great Mutation at the end of December 2020. I doubt this is a mere coincidence or “synchronicity.” J P Morgan is known to have affirmed that millionaires don’t need astrologers, but billionaires do.

Possibly aware of this great transition, the Davos crew seem to be actually trying to reset the system they already rule with their own settings and revive the dying system as a cyborg from hell.

‘Wall Street Bubbles – always the same,’ 1901 cartoon by Keppler, depicts J.P. Morgan as a bull blowing soap bubbles for eager investors. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The nefarious potential of the Aquarian emphasis is the control of society through technology, be it techno-feudalism or, gods forbid, techno-slavery. On the brighter side of the Force, Aquarius is about a social project to sustain life and meet the needs of the people. Both dimensions or systems might co-exist on Earth for a while.

Western powers – not to mention the Masters of the Universe, as you say, who pull their strings – seem to have a long way to go before reaching a state of real and respectful cooperation. Perhaps more ancient civilizations found in the East have a deeper, more consistent root from which to draw the wisdom and maturity necessary in such challenging times for humanity.

Often remembered for the food and goods traded along the route, the Silk Roads involved in the past and involve nowadays the exchange of ideas. It is interesting to observe the strong Aquarian edge activated in China’s astrological progressions when the Belt and Road Initiative was first proposed by Xi Jinping in Astana, in 2013, and how it connected to the degree of the Great Mutation (progressed Venus and Jupiter conjunct AC at 1º Aquarius).

When some years before that Vladimir Putin gave his historical speech in Munich, proposing the Eurasian Integration, in February 2007, there was a Saturn-Neptune aspect – an opposition. When at the 70th UN Assembly, both Putin and Xi delivered long, strong and synchronized speeches affirming the multipolarity of the world, in 2015, there was also a Saturn-Neptune aspect – a square.

The next Saturn-Neptune aspect will be the conjunction, in February 2026, inaugurating a brand new cycle and we can expect it to be related to these previous movements, keeping in mind the cycle points towards multipolarity and new forms of socialism.

The Black Moon spell

PE: Could Covid-19, on a certain level, be interpreted as the – unpleasant – preamble towards a Great Mutation? After all the new social (un)reality represents a system upside down: near-total economic devastation, especially of small businesses; canceling of constitutional rights; governments practically ruling by decree, with no popular consultation; global corporations censoring any manner of informed dissent; whole societies practically under house arrest; most of the planet reduced to a sort of totalitarian theme park.

VG: Oh, Covid-19 – we could have a whole conversation just on the implications of it at so many dimensions, and how it can be, to some extent, astrologically tracked. It definitely can be interpreted as the unpleasant preamble, perhaps aiming to the Great Reset, one could ponder.

An unprecedented worldwide collective experience – and experiment. Nevertheless, serving to shake it all up, transforming our very perception of time, preparing for the conception of a new time. To all those paying attention, a call to be yet more alive, more vivid, against all odds.

A nearly black moon. Image: Unsplash

The very dichotomy which has been so emphasized between “either caring for life or caring for the economy” in and of itself shows how absurd a world it already was. How many people so easily got caught into separating one thing from the other, as if it was a means to resist the system and finally say no to the demands of capital accumulation. To eventually see, indeed, small businesses devastated, poverty increasing drastically, whilst billionaires concentrate wealth to yet more bizarre levels.

Something fundamental to consider is how it has affected the human body. The pandemic was declared with Black Moon (the lunar apogee) in Aries and that indicates the importance of being sharply present and responsive as Michael Jackson danced, Bruce Lee moved and Maria Zakharova responds.

In October, Black Moon, this astrological point representing the visceral and instinctive dimension of existence, moved into Taurus, highlighting the importance of being aware of how the life force in us is conditioned or channeled, shaping how we perceive our own existence. For instance, how the confinement of the body might – or might not – confine our psyche.

What are the psychological effects of the lack of touch or the physical experience of constantly having our mouths covered? How those situations affect our psyche is not irrelevant. Both René Descartes and Wilhelm Reich had Black Moon in Taurus. How are mind and body related? Are they a cartesian dichotomy or are they intertwined as bio-energetic unity moved by libido?

This is an important underlying issue in our collective until July 2021.

The fate of the American empire

PE: Astrology in History is full of fascinating stories about celestial interpretations opening the way to a crucial political or military move. For instance, right before the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in 1258, the Great Khan, Hulegu, asked the court astrologer about the prospects ahead. The astrologer, Husam al-Din, said that if he followed his generals and invaded Baghdad, the consequences would be ominous.

But then Hulegu turned to a Shi’a astronomer, Tusi, a polymath. Tusi said the invasion would be a major success. That’s what happened – and Tusi was admitted into Hulegu’s inner circle. So the Mongols – who built the largest empire in history – were big fans of “celestial insurance.” Could “celestial insurance” in our times end up predicting the fate of another empire – the US?

VG: That’s true, there are so many fascinating stories. The end of the Byzantine Empire and conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmet II of the Ottoman Empire was also marked by an astrological prediction of the Ottoman victory related to an eclipse.

The US Pluto return happens in 2022. That’s massive. It’s a cycle of approximately 247 years. Pluto has a sense of fate to it. The return of the lord of the underworld also speaks of the return of that which was repressed, hidden or rejected. It will have three exact hits throughout 2022, and the final and definitive of the next Pluto cycle has the planet of death and regeneration facing Black Moon Lilith in Cancer, in opposition. Karma is a bitch and hits home.

It is also a cycle related to power and power status. It won’t all be bad and some victorious moments will be there, but there is a change in the country’s position in the balance of powers in the world which is not so easy to digest. The power struggle will be intense, both externally and internally, with considerable risks of destructive manifestations. The best way to go through such a moment would be to purge – although it’s hard to believe “the swamp” can be so easily drained.

It is a call for a deep transformation, when all things under the rug and corpses out of the basement are to be dealt with. For the nation’s people it is a call for maturity (Saturn conjoins Moon), compassion and a more humanly receptive disposition (Neptune opposition), letting illusions dissolve and realizing the empire is losing its hegemony and status, but the nation will continue. What nation should it be for its people – as opposed to against other peoples?

This doesn’t mean the American Empire will fall by 2022, but it is collapsing and will undergo dramatic transformations in the coming decade.

A Dystopian Renaissance

PE: Amid so much gloom, looks like you are introducing a very hopeful concept: “Dystopian Renaissance”. That’s the exact opposite of what is being largely interpreted as our inevitable neo-Orwellian future. How would you characterize this Dystopian Renaissance – in terms of individual, collective, political and cultural struggle?

VG: The concept emerges precisely to elucidate the extreme complexity of our times. Well, the renaissance part seems very hopeful, doesn’t it? But, there’s the dystopian part to it too. It is not a utopian renaissance, as we well know. Perhaps in 200 years, when we reach the Great Mutation into water, the same element as the magnificent Italian Renaissance, humanity might be able to feel and better comprehend deeper dimensions of life. Why not aim for Utopia next? But whatsoever may be possible by then passes through right now.

It is now that, along with this special Great Mutation, a few significant astrological aspects point to a real change of the world-system. It takes this crucial moment in time and this period of air to elevate perspectives, to share ideas and ideals and understand how enriching it can be to build “a community with a shared future for mankind,” as Xi Jinping puts it.

A highly enhanced turning point, opening new horizons, offering the possibility of enriching exchanges in a multipolar world, and with a call for socialism like we haven’t known before.

Catalan Atlas, detail showing family Of Marco Polo 1254-1324 traveling by camel caravan, 1375, drawing by Spanish School. Source: Wikimedia

Let’s not forget this moment in time also resonates with the 13th century, when Venetian Marco Polo, traveling through the Silk Roads to Asia, brought back to Europe the freshness of the Eastern winds, with news from Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty, including the “sublimation” of money into a lighter form, from coin to paper.

At that time, there was a stellium (a concentration of planets) in Capricorn just as we had in 2020, with the following Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius (although not as a Great Mutation), and Pluto’s ingress into Aquarius as we will also have in 2023/2024. It is an absurdly dystopian context, but a turning point for a new conception of reality and the possibility for surprising new horizons.

A new world system is in the air

PE: Giorgio Agamben has referred to that famous Foucault intuition in Les Mots et les Choses, when Foucault writes that humankind may disappear like a figure drawn in the sand being erased by waves hitting the shore. The striking image may apply to our present, mutating condition, as we are about to enter a trans-human and even post-human era, dominated by artificial intelligence (AI) and genetic engineering.

Agamben argues that Covid-19, global warming and, more radically, direct digital access to our psychic life – all these elements are destroying humanity. Would the Great Mutation install a different paradigm – and lead us away from post-humanity?

FG: The rapid development in technology will be something seriously complex to deal with. It will be amazing in many ways, but not all pretty, presenting undeniable challenges, some of which are already here and about to intensify.

What are the effects of technology and artificial intelligence in both our organic and our subjective bodies? Mind control with bidirectional devices, both collecting information and inducing commands is a work in progress.

Perverse levels of technological control of society are a serious concern as Pluto, aka Hades, lord of the underworld, will also transit in technological and futuristic Aquarius from 2023/24 on, up until 2043/44 – times of intense social transformation, when technological advancements will blow our minds and the very conception of science will change considerably, but with serious risks of trans-human and post-human madness.

We cannot disregard our organicity. We cannot disregard our subjectivity, either. Pluto is about transformation or domination – in other words, quoting a recent article of yours: “Here’s our future: hackers or slaves.”

We’ve got to go hacking not only in the objective sense – which surely becomes more and more a desirable skill – but in the subjective sense as well, finding lines of flight and keeping Eros alive, the life force in us vivid.

Considering we’re already here, living through dystopian times, we might as well make the best out of this undeniably epic adventure. Instead of succumbing to fear and isolation, overtaken by the doom and gloom, let’s not forget Wallerstein’s observation on destiny versus free will – a very cool take, by the way, which my experience as an astrologer observing collective and individual cycles very much confirms: Both exist.

During the stable period of a world-system, its normal life when its structure is functioning well, even if there are some fluctuations in it, it is very hard to change things in the system, it tends to stabilization. It’s destiny: you gotta put a whole lot of effort to get perhaps very little change trying to escape destiny.

But when the world-system has reached its final phase, it can no longer be rescued and there is a lot of instability. The crisis is not going away and the only possibility is change, in one way or another – it’s free will time. In the structural crisis, Wallerstein says we have more free will, our actions have a stronger impact and every little move counts to decide in which direction the change of the system will go.

In our personal lives at this turning point in time, as Foucault questions, we may also ask ourselves: As humans, are we an obstacle or obstruction? Are we a way of imprisoning life – or are we an opening, a line of flight?

In regard to Foucault’s words you and Agamben bring to light, please allow me to refer to the previous paragraph, just before that final one in Les Mots et les Choses, when he states that by “taking a relatively short chronological sample within a restricted geographical area – European culture since the sixteenth century – one can be certain that man is a recent invention within it.”

The “man” he is referring to as the effect of a change in the fundamental arrangements of knowledge a couple of centuries ago, with the newer arrangements perhaps about to end, is within European references. That is neither the beginning nor the end of man, nor its only interesting expression. With huge, deep appreciation for so much of European culture, perhaps one of the things coming to a necessary end is Eurocentrism.

Nonetheless, of course, it is deeply worrying how faces are being at the same time digitally traced by machines and hidden from other humans by masks – especially the effects of that in children. The current transition is not without epistemological effects and effects on how we conceive man, humans. But it’s not all said and done.

To counter the objectification of humans, it may be timely to draw from the Tupis’ conception of human beings: tu + pi , seated sound. A human being is a sound which has taken a seat, has taken place and vibrates. We gotta keep our bodies, faces and words vibrant. For the native South American Tupis, each human being is a new music, a new word vibrating and co-creating life with others and nature.

Albert Eckhout painting of a Tupi man. Source: Wikipedia

It seems that the deeper roots of aboriginal-indigenous wisdom still need to be more fully acknowledged and reintegrated in the Americas before the reinvention of the world in the West can take place.

Now winds blow from the East and from Eurasia, inspiring new forms of co-existence. But the controllers of capital, wealth and worldly power won’t give it up without a fight – or a few wars and a heavy load of social control via technology, capturing bodies and minds. What will it be – Great Reset or Great Mutation?

Is there a way out? Yes. And it seems to go along the New Silk Roads and the Eurasia Integration – literally to some important extent, but symbolically as well. The West can gain a lot from opening up to the Eastern winds, the news and the ideas they bring, stories of a community of shared future for mankind. A new world-system is in the air.

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