The Globalization of War. America’s “Long War” against Humanity

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, June 11, 2020

America’s hegemonic project in the post 9/11 era is the “Globalization of War” whereby the U.S.-NATO  military machine –coupled with covert intelligence operations, economic sanctions and the thrust of “regime change”— is deployed in all major regions of the world.  The threat of pre-emptive nuclear war is also used to black-mail countries into submission.

This “Long War against Humanity” is carried out at the height of the most serious economic crisis in modern history. It is intimately related to a process of global financial restructuring, which has resulted in the collapse of national economies and the impoverishment of large sectors of the World population.

The ultimate objective is World conquest under the cloak of “human rights” and “Western democracy”.

The Globalization of War

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Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury

““The Globalization of War” comprises war on two fronts: those countries that can either be “bought” or destabilized. In other cases, insurrection, riots and wars are used to solicit U.S. military intervention. Michel Chossudovsky’s book is a must read for anyone who prefers peace and hope to perpetual war, death, dislocation and despair.”The Dirty War on Syria and The Globalization of War: Special Offer

Hon. Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Minister of National Defence

“Michel Chossudovsky describes globalization as a hegemonic weapon that empowers the financial elites and enslaves 99 percent of the world’s population.

“The Globalization of War” is diplomatic dynamite – and the fuse is burning rapidly.”

Michael Carmichael, President, the Planetary Movement

The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research Publishers, Montreal 2015

EXCERPT FROM PREFACE:

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project.  Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

Under a global military agenda, the actions undertaken by the Western military alliance (U.S.-NATO-Israel) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq are coordinated at the highest levels of the military hierarchy. We are not dealing with piecemeal military and intelligence operations. The July-August 2014 attack on Gaza by Israeli forces was undertaken in close consultation with the United States and NATO. The actions in Ukraine and their timing coincided with the onslaught of the attack on Gaza.

In turn, military undertakings are closely coordinated with a process of economic warfare which consists not only in imposing sanctions on sovereign countries but also in deliberate acts of destabilization of financial and currencies markets, with a view to undermining the enemies’ national economies.

The United States and its allies have launched a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. As we go to press, U.S.and NATO forces have been deployed in Eastern Europe including Ukraine. U.S. military intervention under a humanitarian mandate is proceeding in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. and its allies are threatening China under President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia”.

In turn, military maneuvers are being conducted at Russia’s doorstep which could potentially lead to escalation.

The U.S. airstrikes initiated in September 2014 directed against Iraq and Syria under the pretext of going after the Islamic State are part of a scenario of military escalation extending from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean to Central and South Asia.

The Western military alliance is in an advanced state of readiness. And so is Russia.

Russia is heralded as the “Aggressor”. U.S.-NATO military confrontation with Russia is contemplated.

Enabling legislation in the U.S. Senate under “The Russian Aggression Prevention Act” (RAPA) has “set the U.S. on a path towards direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine.”

“Any U.S.-Russian war is likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear war, since neither the U.S. nor Russia would be willing to admit defeat, both have many thousands of nuclear weapons ready for instant use, and both rely upon Counterforce military doctrine that tasks their military, in the event  of war, to pre-emptively destroy the nuclear forces of the enemy.”

The Russian Aggression Prevention Act (RAPA) is the culmination of more than twenty years of U.S.-NATO war preparations,which consist in the military encirclement of both Russia and China:

“From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. U.S. military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.”

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The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020

محور المقاومة :ربح بالنقاط في العراق ولبنان… والضربة القاضية بالنووي !

ناصر قنديل

خاض الأميركيون حربهم على محور المقاومة في ثلاث ساحات رئيسية، هي إيران ولبنان والعراق، بينما أصيب مشروعهم بالعجز عن الإقلاع في ثلاث أخرى هي سورية وفلسطين واليمن، حيث المسارات ترسمها قوى وحكومات محور المقاومة، وحيث الحلفاء الذين تعتمد عليهم واشنطن مصابون بالارتباك والعجز. فكيان الاحتلال أقوى حلفاء واشنطن غارق في متاهة سياسية انتخابية وحكومية وعجز عسكري متكرّر عن الإمساك بزمام المبادرة في فلسطين بوجه المقاومة، وفي اليمن المبادرة بيد أنصار الله، والأمن السعودي والإماراتي تحت رحمة ضرباتهم، وآخرها في مأرب زلزل حضورهم بالخسائر البشرية المؤلمة، بصورة أعادت مشهد ضربات مجمع آرامكو، بينما في سورية كل شيء في السياسة والميدان محور تحولات متسارعة لصالح مشروع الدولة السورية، من التموضع التركي إلى الحراك الكردي، وكل منهما يسابق الآخر نحو الدولة السورية، إلى معارك إدلب، ومسار اللجنة الدستورية، والعلاقة الروسية السورية وآفاقها، ورغم الوضع الاقتصادي الصعب تتحرّك الدولة السورية بقوة نحو معالجات وشراكات تتيح توسيع مجالات الحركة أمامها وتعزيز قدرات شعبها على الصمود.

الضغوط على الساحات الإيرانية والعراقية واللبنانية التي بدأتها واشنطن من بوابة الحصار المالي الخانق والرهان على الاحتجاجات والقدرة على توظيفها، بالتعاون مع حلفاء محليين، يتلقون تعليماتها أو يشتغلون لحساب مصالح خاصة تتقاطع مع الأهداف الأميركية، توّجت باغتيال القائدين قاسم سليماني وأبومهدي المهندس، لينفتح مسار المواجهة الأشد والأقسى بسقوف مرتفعة، وجاء السقوط الأول للرهان الأميركي في العراق بنهوض شارع واسع يتضامن مع قوى المقاومة ويطغى على الاحتجاج الحراكي الذي راهنت واشطن على تجييره، وشكل التحوّل الأبرز في جعل الساحة العراقية مفتوحة على خيار تعزيز مكانة قوى المقاومة، بربط ثنائية مشروع إخراج الأميركيين من العراق ورئاسة الحكومة الجديدة، على قاعدة التحالف مع السيد مقتدى الصدر، وهو تحالف يقترب من ترجمة هذه الثنائية، مع اقتراب تسمية رئيس حكومة بالتفاهم مع السيد الصدر وامتداده الحراكي الوازن، واقتراب موعد المليونية المناهضة للوجود الأميركي التي دعا إليها السيد الصدر وأيّدتها قوى المقاومة، ولا يستطيع أحد تجاهل حجم الرهان الأميركي على تحييد السيد الصدر من المواجهة، بل على كسبه في مواجهة عنوانها إخراج إيران لا أميركا من العراق.

في لبنان وبعدما راهن المشروع الأميركي على محاصرة قوى المقاومة بثنائية الحراك واستقالة الرئيس الحريري، نجحت عملية تسمية رئيس مكلف بتشكيل الحكومة يتمتع بمواصفات الصلابة والثبات ويمثل خلفية غير طائفية، وصاحب سيرة لم يستطع خصومه تظهير ثغرة يُعتدّ بها على صعيد تعامله مع المال العام خلال توليه وزارة بأهمية وزارة التربية. وبعد الرهان على تناقضات المصالح والأحجام والتوازنات داخل فريق المقاومة والحلفاء في تعزيز المصاعب بوجه تشكيل الحكومة، والضغوط المذهبية لدفع الرئيس المكلف للتراجع والاعتذار، تقترب الغالبية النيابية من الفوز بتشكيلة حكومية يطغى عليها التكنوقراط، ويصعب النيل من السيرة الذاتية لوزرائها رغم كثرة الكلام عن أنهم من المستشارين، لأن موقع التكنوقراط الطبيعي في حكومات سياسية هو أن يكونوا مستشارين، ويصيروا وزراء عندما تكون الحكومة من التكنوقراط. ومع إعلان الحكومة الجديدة سيتمّ طي صفحة وفتح صفحة في الحياة السياسية والتعامل مع الأزمات، وسيكون لفتح ملفات الفساد دور كافٍ في تحقيق توازن ردع لحماية الحكومة لأن المتفق عليه أن هذا الملف لن يسيَّس ولن يُترك مغلقاً وأن كل المتورطين ستتم مساءلتهم قضائياً بعد رفع الحصانات بموجب قانون.

التعامل الخليجي مع الساحتين العراقية واللبنانية لن يتّسم بالتصعيد بعد تشكيل الحكومة. فالحكومات الخليجية تخشى الانفتاح المالي القطري ومن ورائه السياسي التركي، ضمن التنسيق مع موسكو وطهران، والمواقف في عواصم الخليج تتحدّث عن عدم تكرار تجربة العزلة التي دفعت ثمنها غالياً في سورية بسبب العناد والرهانات الخاسرة، والمواقف الأوروبيّة لا توحي بما يُشاع عن نيات تصعيد بوجه الحكومة الجديدة مالياً، بل إن المؤشرات معاكسة، خصوصاً أن أوروبا والخليج تتّجهان لمحاولة فهم حدود الخطوة الإيرانية التي يتم التحضير لها على المستوى النووي، بعد الإعلان عن نية الخروج من معاهدة وكالة الطاقة الذرية للحدّ من الانتشار النووي، وليس إلغاء الاتفاق النووي فقط، وما لم يتم استدراك عاجل ومدروس أوروبياً وخليجياً بغطاء ضمني من واشنطن، فإن الكثيرين في عواصم أوروبا والخليج يتحدّثون عن كارثة مقبلة لا يمكن ردها حتى لو لم تذهب إيران نحو التراجع عن قرارها بعدم إنتاج سلاح نووي، لأنه يكفي بلوغ إيران عتبة امتلاك القنبلة الأولى تقنياً، كي تكون قد امتلكتها، وتلك ستكون الضربة القاضية التي تنقل إيران إلى مكان مختلف، على الأوروبيين والخليجيين أن يطرحوا على أنفسهم كيفية التعامل معها فيما الأميركي الغارق في الانتخابات وحساباتها، قد يفاجئهم بقرار انسحاب مموّه تحت عنوان هو إعلان النصر على الإرهاب ونهاية الحرب على داعش.

السقوط الكبير للاقتصاد على طريقة الحريريّة السياسية؟

 

أكتوبر 4, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

ما يحدث في لبنان حالياً أكبر من أزمة اقتصادية عابرة، يمكن للنظام السياسي إيجاد حلول لها بالكثير من الدَّيْن، فالمزيد من الاقتراض يشبهُ في لبنان والبلدان التي على شاكلته، كبالعِ سُمّ مُحلّى ومفعوله القاتل بطيءٌ وتدريجيٌ وحاسم.

لذلك لا بدّ من الإشارة إلى تراجع نظرية التحشيد الطائفي والمذهبي والشعارات الوطنية والإقليمية أمام صعود الجوع وتفلّت جياعه بشكل غير مسبوق لم تعرفه بلاد الأرز منذ تشكّل دولتها في 1948. بما يعني اضمحلال نظرية جذب الناس باستحضار القدّيسين والأولياء والأئمة والأخطار الخارجية، فهؤلاء لا يتحمّلون عيارات فساد على النموذج اللبناني، أيّ الفساد السياسي والاقتصادي قاعدة الحكم الأساسية، فيما النزاهة استثناء طفيف.

لماذا يتفلّت الشارع؟

الاضطرابات التي شملت العاصمة ومدناً وقرى في الشمال والجنوب والبقاع هي عيّنة بسيطة للمقبل من الأحداث. فالتراجع الاقتصاديّ مستمرّ بمعدلات بطالة كارثية وتضخم قاتل، وسط غياب مرتفع جداً لخدمات الكهرباء والمياه العذبة ورفع النفايات المنتشرة في زوايا لبنان الذي يفترض أنه بلد سياحي.

هذه الاضطرابات لا تزال بسيطة وغريزية تعكس انسداداً كاملاً للآفاق أمام الشباب اللبناني الذي تضاعفت مصائبه الداخلية بالانقطاع شبه الكامل لإمكانية العمل في الخارج. فالخليج متوقف عن استقباله بنسب عالية جداً وكذلك أوروبا وكندا والولايات المتحدة الأميركية. ويُضاف التضييق المصرفي الكبير بقرار مقاطعة أميركي على حركة التحويلات، ما استتبع تراجعاً في تحويلات المغتربين اللبنانيين إلى ذويهم في الداخل بمعدلات عالية جداً.

كما أنّ الدعم الإقليمي للقوى السياسية في الداخل اللبناني مقطوع بدوره وينعكس تضييقاً على الدوائر الشعبيّة المستفيدة منه، ومجمل الحركة الاقتصادية في البلاد راكدة بيعاً وشراء، وإلا كيف نستوعب إقدام رئيس الحكومة سعد الحريري على إقفال تلفزيون المستقبل الخاصة والمعبّرة عن سياسة حزبه المستقبل واتجاهاته الإقليمية والدولية، ربطاً بما للإعلام من قدرات على التحشيد.

إنّ مجمل هذه العناصر المذكورة المرتبطة بفساد سياسي من النظام الطائفي الحاكم للبلاد ووكلائه في الإدارة والقضاء نهبت الاقتصاد اللبناني بقسمَيْه الخاص والعام مبدّدين الأملاك البحرية والعامة وعابثين بالجمارك والمرافئ والمعابر والمطارات والصفقات، فارضين عشرات آلاف الوظائف لأنصارهم في القطاع العام من دون أدنى حاجة إليهم مكرّسين الموالين اليهم قيادات في مواقعهم ما أدّى الى تعطيل الأعمال السليمة وتصاعد مفهوم الرشى من السريّة إلى العلنية من دون أيّ حياء أو مساءلة قانونيّة، حتى أنها أصبحت ضريبة إضافية يدفعها صاحب الحاجة من دون مساءلة أيضاً، ولم يعُد التشهير بسياسيّي لبنان في الإعلام ووسائل الاتصال الجماهيري يكفي لإيقاف فسادهم، لأنهم يعرفون أنّ بضعة أيام فقط على رواج الاتهامات كافية لكي ينساها الناس بغياب أدوات المتابعة الحزبية والجماهيرية.

هناك ملاحظة لا يجوز إغفالها وتتعلّق بإصرار قسم من الطبقة السياسية الحاكمة في لبنان على إغلاق الحدود مع سورية ومنع التعامل الاقتصادي معها مع الاكتفاء بمرور اجتماعي بسيط، وذلك تلبية لأوامر ارتباطاتها الدولية الأميركية والعربية من السعودية الذين أرادوا إسقاط نظامها السياسي. وهذا تسبّب إلى جانب فساد الحكام السياسيين بضرب قطاع الخدمات اللبناني وإضعاف السياحة ما أصاب نصف اللبنانيين تقريباً.

كيف وصل الوضع إلى هذا المستوى الإفقاري؟

تميّزت مرحلة المارونية السياسية العام 1948 وحتى بداية التسعينيات بولاء للغرب والخليج إنما على قاعدة فساد متدنّ وإنتاج إداري عالي المستوى، واهتمام مركّز على قطاع الخدمات والسياحة، وكانت الحدود السورية رئة الاقتصاد اللبناني، على الرغم من تبعيّة لبنان السياسيّة لدول لا تزال تعادي سورية حتى الآن.

هذا النمط السياسي المتدبّر انقلب رأساً على عقب مع وصول المرحوم رفيق الحريري الى رئاسة حكومة لبنان مدعوماً من ثلاثية أميركية سوريّة وسعودية، فحمل معه نمطاً شبه مستسلم يوالي فيه هذه التغطيات الداعمة بشكل مفتوح.

مقابل هذه التغطية انتزع الحريري ميزة إدارة الاقتصاد اللبناني بنظرية الإنماء بالدَّيْن على قطاعات غير منتجة وفي بلدٍ لا إنتاج فيه، وحين حذّره اقتصاديون موالون له من مخاطر هذه النظرية أجابهم بأنّ»السلام المقبل مع «إسرائيل» بإمكانه إعادة الازدهار إلى لبنان وتسديد كامل الديون».

لم يكتفِ «الشهيد» بهذه الحدود، ففتح أموال الدولة لإرضاء المحاور الشيعية والدرزية والمسيحية وإلحاقها بمشروعه، حتى أنه استعمل النفوذ الغربي لجذب القيادات الكنسيّة على شاكلة الكاردينال الراحل صفير.

هذا ما ضاعف من حجم الدين العام الى جانب استشراء حركة فساد أكملت على ما تبقى من أموال اللبنانيين، وواصل ورثته تطبيق طريقته السياسية الاقتصادية إنما مع شيء إضافي وهو التذرّع باندلاع الأزمة السورية، لإقفال العلاقات الاقتصادية مع دمشق والسماح لبعض أنواع الإرهاب باستخدام الشمال والمخيّمات مراكز لشحن الإرهابيين فكرياً ونقلهم لوجيستياً الى سورية. فكيف يمكن لبلد في حالة حرب داخلية مخيفة مثل سورية ان يؤمّن الكهرباء 24 ساعة يومياً، بانياً عبر شركات إيرانية شبكة كهربائية كاملة ويعمل على بناء أخرى فيما لبنان ينتج الكهرباء من استئجار بواخر تركية بمليارات الدولارات؟

وكيف تستطيع شركة سيمنس الألمانية بناء شبكة كهرباء في العراق بعام واحد ولبنان رفض عروضها مواصلاً استئجار البواخر؟

هذه هي الحريريّة السياسيّة من الأب الشهيد الى الابن المتّهم اليوم بإهداء راقصة جنوب أفريقية 16 مليون دولار دفعة واحدة.

يبدو أنّ البلاد تمرّ بمرحلة أفول الحريرية السياسية سياسياً واقتصادياً، لكن البديل فيها يحتاج لوقت كافٍ للتشكل. وكلّ الخشية أن لا تكون هذه المرحلة الانتقالية مرحلة اضطرابات شعبية عنيفة ومروّعة قد تستفيد منها فئات خارجية لإعادة الاقتتال الطائفي الى البلاد. فاحذروا أيّها السياسيون من مقبل الأيام، وذلك بالالتزام بسياسات تغيير جذرية تتطلب أولاً ما لا يمكن ان تفعلوه، وهو رحيلكم وتخلّيكم عن السلطة لمصلحة لبنان الجديد.

US Waging Wars on Multiple Fronts: Cold Wars, Hot Wars, Economic Wars, Propaganda Wars …

Supported by both hawkish wings of its war party, the US is waging hot wars, cold wars, economic wars, financial wars, trade wars, anti-social justice wars, anti-human rights wars, anti-democracy wars, propaganda wars, sanctions wars, tariffs wars, protest wars, homeland wars, and environmental wars on multiple fronts worldwide — ordinary people everywhere the losers.

During decades of Cold War years, the US got along with Soviet Russia, even if uneasily at times. Nixon went to China. Relations today with both countries and many others are more dismal and dangerous than any previous time in the post-WW II period.

New wars could erupt without warning. The threat of possible nuclear war is ominously real by accident or design.

The land of opportunity I remember as a youth is now consumed by its hubris, arrogance, rage to colonize planet earth, control its resources and exploit it people.

New Deal, Fair Deal, Great Society years I grew up in were replaced by neoliberal harshness, endless wars on humanity at home and abroad, a growing wealth disparity exceeding the robber baron years, along with mass unemployment and underemployment, growing homelessness, hunger, and poverty, as well as a ruling class dismissive of the public welfare.

Current US leadership is militantly hawkish and anti-populist, led by a racist geopolitical/economic know-nothing/reality TV president.

Dark forces run things, headquartered on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms, the rule of law replaced by police state governance, a free and open society by mass surveillance and growing totalitarianism.

Challenging authority disruptively with collective activism when vitally needed is absent.

The US reached peak power, prominence, influence, and leadership on the world stage following WW II, the only major nation left unscathed by its ravages.

Its preemptive war of aggression on nonbelligerent North Korea, a nation threatening no one, started its downward trajectory.

Today it’s a nation in decline while China, Russia and other countries are rising. It spends countless trillions of dollars for militarism and warmaking against invented enemies. No real ones exist.

Its preeminence as a military super-power was overtaken by Russia, China heading toward becoming the world’s leading economic power one day, multi-world polarity replacing unipolarity the US favors to dominate other nations.

Its rage for maintaining a global empire of bases as platforms for endless wars of aggression came at the expense of eroding social justice on the chopping block for elimination altogether.

The myth of American exceptionalism, the indispensable state, an illusory moral superiority, and military supremacy persist despite hard evidence debunking these notions.

Democracy in America is fiction, not fact, a system of governance its ruling class abhors, tolerating it nowhere, nations like Venezuela targeted to replace it with fascist rule.

The US is plagued by the same dynamic that doomed all other empires in history.

It’s an increasingly repressive/secretive/intrusive warrior state, spreading death, destruction and human misery worldwide.

It exploits ordinary people to serve privileged interests — a pariah state/declining power because of its unwillingness to change.

Its war machine never rests. Its criminal class is bipartisan. Its governance meets the definition of fascism — wrapped in the American flag.

It’s a corporate/political partnership over the rights and welfare of ordinary people, exploiting them for power and profits — at home and abroad.

It’s way too late for scattered reforms. The American way is too debauched to fix.

Nothing short of revolutionary change can work. Yet there’s not a hint of it in prospect because of a know-nothing populace distracted and controlled by bread, circuses, and the power of state-approved/media disseminated propaganda.

A decade ago, the late Doug Dowd said “(t)he world now stands on a cliff’s edge.”

He envisioned “four related groups of horrors: existing and likely wars, a fragile world economy, pervasive and deepening corruption, and the earth dangerously near the ‘tipping point’ of environmental disaster.”

It’s not a pretty picture, things worse now than years earlier.

A permanent state of war exists with no prospect for peace in our time — while freedom in the US and West erode toward disappearing altogether the way things are heading.

*

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

 

Trade War Hangs Over the G20

Image result for Trade War Hangs Over the G20
June 29, 2019 © Photo: kremlin.ru

Two words were on the lips of world leaders as the curtain went up on the Group of 20 gathering in the Japanese city of Osaka. On Friday, all the early statements and gossip revolved around the “trade war.”

Xi Jinping set the tone. China’s president warned about the dangers of protectionism at a meeting between the BRICS bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“This is destroying the global trade order … This also impacts the common interests of our countries, overshadows the peace and stability worldwide,” the Chinese president said.

In the past year, Washington and Beijing have been embroiled in a brutal trade conflict involving tit-for-tat tariffs on imports worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Along the way, Chinese companies, such as the telecoms giant Huawei, have been dragged into the dispute, suffering punitive sanctions imposed by Washington.

After trade talks broke down last month and the technology battle intensified between the world’s two largest economies, the shockwaves rippled across the globe.

Now, G20 leaders are praying that US President Donald Trump and Xi can ease tensions when they meet face-to-face on Saturday to discuss the situation.

Although there appears little chance of an immediate deal, they will be hoping a truce can be hammered out.

Trump at least made all the right noises about trade agreements. But they did not appear to include China.

‘Very big deal’

The only real reference about the spat with Beijing came in a remark he also made to Modi.

“We actually sell Huawei many of its parts,” Trump said. “So we’re going to be discussing that and also how India fits in. And we’ll be discussing Huawei.”

Earlier this week, media reports suggested that Xi would not agree to a deal unless Washington lifted its ban on the company, which is recognized as a world leader in 5G technology and a key player in the smartphone sector.

During the opening session, Trump touched on the issue. “We must also ensure the resilience and security of our 5G networks,” he said.

Still, Sino-American trade fiction dominated the conversation after the World Bank released a report earlier this month entitled, Global Economic Prospects: Heightened Tensions, Subdued Investment.

“The trade relations between China and the United States are difficult, they are contributing to the slowdown of the global economy,” Jean-Claude Juncker, the outgoing European Commission president, told a media briefing.

“Today things are made neither in China nor in the United States. They are made globally,” he said.

In his opening address, Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, appealed for unity among bickering nations as well as later touching on the thorny problem of reforming the World Trade Organisation or WTO.

He urged G20 leaders to send a strong message in support of free and fair trade, warning that geopolitical tensions were rising and buffeting the “global economy.”

“With your help, I hope we will realize beautiful harmony in Osaka … rather than highlight our confrontations, let us seek out what unites us,” he said.

“Today, I want to discuss with leaders measures to further enhance momentum towards reform in WTO,” he added.

Eloquent sentiments amid the rhetoric of what is looking like a new economic Cold War between China and the US.

“Bullying practices are on the rise, posing severe threats to economic globalization and international order, and severe challenges to the external environment of developing countries,” Dai Bing, an official from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a veiled attack on Washington’s stance.

Yet behind the scenes, Beijing’s top trade negotiator Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met at the Imperial Hotel in Osaka, according to an official familiar with the matter who declined to be identified, Bloomberg news agency revealed.

They were trying to lay the groundwork for the Trump-Xi tete-a-tete.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who dined with the US president on Thursday, illustrated the challenges ahead.

“I walked away with the view that this is going to be tough because there are some very serious issues that they’re trying to resolve,” he told Channel 7, the Australian television network.

But then, walking away has been a specialty in the year-long diplomatic confrontation.

asiatimes.com

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

حروب الجيل الخامس العلوم بدلاً من العسكر تعاظم الصين وروسيا وإيران وتقهقر الأميركان

يونيو 24, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

كلّ المؤشرات المعلوماتية تفيد بأنّ الصين تسيطر على عالم الانترنت والمعادن النادره في العالم.

وانّ ثمة استراتيجية صينية شاملة تتقدّم للعالم

يقابلها تخبّط أميركي وانعدام استراتيجية مستقبلية،

والمعلوم تاريخياً انّ الولايات المتحدة، خاصة بعد دخولها الحرب العالميه الأولى، وانتصار تحالفها فرنسا وبريطانيا على تحالف دول المحور المانيا والإمبراطورية العثمانية ، قد عملت على توسيع وتعزيز هيمنتها الاستعمارية، داخلياً وخارجياً، بقوة السلاح طبعاً وليس بقوة المعرفة والعلوم.

وعلى الرغم من تحقيقها نجاحاً نسبياً في تعزيز سيطرتها على القارة الأوروبية، إلا أنّ حدوث الأزمة الاقتصادية، او دعنا نسمّيها الانهيار الاقتصادي الدولي عام 1929، وما ترتب على ذلك من انحسار للإمكانيات المالية والاقتصادية الأميركية، نتيجة للأزمة، ثم وصول الحزب النازي الألماني الى السلطة وسيطرة أودلف هتلر على الحكم في المانيا، عبر انتخابات برلمانية وتحالفات حزبية معقدة، وقيادته المانيا الى حرب عالمية جديدة دخلتها الولايات المتحدة وهي مصمّمة على استكمال سيطرتها على أوروبا تمهيداً لفرض سيطرتها على العالم.

فقد كانت أداة السيطرة الأميركية، آنذاك كما اليوم، هي القوة العسكرية الجبارة. وكان أوج استعراض واشنطن لهذه القوة قد تمظهر بشكل صارخ عندما قامت بقصفت هيروشيما وناغازاكي بالقنابل النووية في شهر آب 1949، الأمر الذي رفع الولايات المتحدة الى مرتبة الأقوى عسكرياً واقتصادياً في العالم.

لكن ذلك لم يدم طويلاً، فبعد نجاح الاتحاد السوفياتي في تصنيع القنبلة النووية، وإجراء تجربته النووية الأولى بتاريخ 29/8/1949، سرعان ما انكسر هذا الاحتكار النووي الأميركي، وبدأ يتراجع رويداً رويداً، الى أن نشأ توازن ردع في العلاقات الدولية على صعيد العالم، تجلى بشكل واضح وقوي في إجبار قوات الاحتلال البريطاني الفرنسي «الإسرائيلي» عام 1956/ 1957 لسيناء على الانسحاب منها، اثر الموقف الصارم الذي اتخذه زعيم الاتحاد السوفياتي آنذاك، نيكيتا خروتشوف، في مجلس الأمن الدولي.

ولكن عناصر الردع والقوة الأميركية، التي اعتمدت أساساً وقبل كلّ شيء على قوة السلاح، بدأت بالتآكل، أكثر فأكثر، اثر المتغيّرات الجذرية التي شهدتها ميادين الصراع الدولية، وعلى كافة الصعد، الاقتصادية والسياسية والعلمية والعسكرية، الأمر الذي أدّى ليس فقط الى كسر احتكار الولايات المتحدة لمحاولات السيطرة على العالم ومقدّرات شعوبه، وإنما الى دخولها في مرحلة تراجع تدريجي مستمرّ، سواء على الصعيد الاقتصادي او السياسي تراجع تأثيرها السياسي في العالم او العسكري والعلمي المعرفي قبل كلّ شيء.

هذا التراجع العلمي والمعرفي، الذي يعبّر عن نفسه من خلال الحروب الاقتصادية وسياسة العقوبات التي يفرضها ترامب على العديد من الدول، والتي تشهد إيران أكثرها صرامة، بينما تشهد الصين أكثرها اتساعاً، من ناحية الحجم المالي، نقول انّ هذا التعبير او التجلي لهذا التراجع قد أدّى الى إضعاف قدرة الصناعات والشركات الأميركية على المنافسة بسبب قلة الاستثمار في قطاعي العلم المعرفة والبحث العلمي أولاً، وبسبب التغيّر الذي شهدته مختلف قطاعات الصناعة والتكنولوجيا والمال والأعمال خلال العقدين الماضيين.

هذا التغيير الذي وضعنا في بداية ثورة صناعية جديدة يطلق عليها اسم الثورة الرقمية، او ثورة الإنترنت، والتي سوف تغيّر كلّ مجالات الحياة البشرية، سواء كانت صناعية أو اقتصادية او سياسية او اجتماعية او غير ذلك.

وهذه الثورة لا تعتمد على قوة السلاح، والتهديد باستخدامه لإسقاط دول ذات سيادة واحتلال أراضيها، بل تعتمد على تكنولوجيا الإنترنت الفائقة السرعة والتي يتمّ تشغيلها بالاعتماد على تقنية تسمّى تقنية الجيل الخامس G 5 ، والتي لا تعتمد أبداً على تقنية الولايات المتحدة وإنما وقبل كلّ شيء على تقنيات صينية، تعتبر شركة هواوي هي الرائدة في صناعتها، الأمر الذي جعل الرئيس الأميركي يشنّ حرباً عالمية عليها وعلى خمسة من أخواتها الصينيات اللواتي ستخضع للعقوبات والمقاطعة الأميركية اعتباراً من يوم الاثنين 24/6/2019.

وإذا ما تفحصنا بعض جوانب هذه الحرب المجنونة، التي تشنّها الولايات المتحدة على عمالقة أحدث تكنولوجيا الاتصالات في العالم ألا وهي «هواوي» واخواتها، فإننا سنكتشف بسرعة الإنترنت الصينية الفائقة السرعة انّ هذه الحرب خاسرة بلا جدال وان لا طائل من ورائها مطلقاً وذلك لسبب بسيط جداً، ألا وهو انّ الشركات الأميركية والتكنولوجيا التي تنتجها، في قطاع الاتصالات وتقنياتها، لا يمكنها منافسة المنتج الصيني الأكثر تقدّماً والأقلّ كلفة.

اما دليلنا على عدم قدرة الولايات المتحدة على منافسة الصين، في قطاع الاتصالات بشكل خاص وفي غيره من القطاعات الصناعية بشكل عام، فهو ما يلي:

1 ـ انّ تكنولوجيا الجيل الخامس الصينية للإنترنت أكثر تطوّراً من التكنولوجيا الأميركية، كما انّ خدمات الشركات الصينية التي تصنع وتدير هذه التكنولوجيا، مثل شركة هواوي وشركة هينغ تونغ، أفضل بكثير من نظيراتها الأميركيات، حسب مركز Rethink Research الأميركي. وهو ما يعلل قيام العديد من الدول الأوروبية، وعلى رأسها المانيا وبريطانيا، بأن تعهَدَ لشركة هواوي ببناء شبكة الإنترنت من الجيل الخامس في أراضيها، وليس لشركات أميركية.

2 ـ عدم وجود خطة تطوير تقني/ تجاري/ أميركية استراتيجيه شاملة، سواء في قطاع الاتصالات او بقية القطاعات الإنتاجية والخدماتية، بينما لدى الصين خطط واضحة ودقيقة تعتمد على الاستثمار البعيد المدى في البنى التحتيه ذات العلاقة مع المواضيع المذكورة أعلاه. وهو ما يعني المزيد من التطوّر والتقدّم وازدياد القدرة على المنافسة القوية في الأسواق الدولية.

3 ـ وانطلاقاً من الخطة الاستراتيجية الشاملة للصين، في تطوير صناعة التكنولوجيا الحديثة وتعميم الفائدة التجارية من هذا التطوير على الكثير من الأمم، فقد قامت الصين بطرح مشروع الحزام والطريق، الذي يعتمد مبدأ تطوير البنى التحتية، في سبعين دولة حتى الآن، في قطاعات الصناعة والنقل والاتصالات والتجارة، بدلاً من استخدام القوة في التعامل بين الدول، أيّ مبدأ التعاون والتكامل بدل شنّ الحروب الاقتصادية والعسكرية وفرض العقوبات على عشرات الدول، كما تفعل الولايات المتحدة حالياً.

4 ـ وبالنظر الى مشروع الحزام والطريق، الذي يعيش في الدول المشاركة فيه حتى الآن 65 من سكان العالم ويقومون بإنتاج 40 من الإنتاج في العالم، فإنّ ذلك يعني وجود سوق هائلة للبضائع الصينية، وعلى رأسها تكنولوجيا الإنترنت اللاسلكي الفائق السرعة، ما يعني سيطرة الصين على قطاع خدمات الإنترنت في العالم، التي ستصبح، خلال سنوات قليلة، وسيلة التواصل الرئيسيه بين أكثر من عشرين مليار شخص وآلة او شيء هناك مسمّى جديد يطلق عليه اسم: إنترنت الآلات. أي انّ الآلات من سيارات وطائرات وغيرها من الآلات الصناعية سوف تتبادل المعلومات في ما بينها دون تدخل بشري .

وغني عن القول طبعاً انّ شركات صناعة تكنولوجيا وخدمات الإنترنت الأميركية لن يكون لديها أي فرصة لدخول أسواق تلك الدول، الأعضاء في مشروع الطريق والحزام، من دون حتى اللجوء الى إجراءات عقابية أو حمائية، من قبل تلك الدول، وإنما بسبب التفوّق التقني للشركات الصينية وقدرتها الهائلة على المنافسة، لما تتمتع به من تفوّق علمي ينتج تفوقاً تقنياً، وليس بسبب الأيدي العاملة الصينية الأقل كلفة من الأيدي العاملة الأميركية فقط.

5 ـ انطلاقا من كلّ ما تقدّم، حول أهمية التفوّق التقني والصناعات التكنولوجية، في مجال الإنترنت اللاسلكي الفائق السرعة، يبدو واضحاً انّ المواجهة الدولية، التي نعيش مشاهدها في الكثير من بقاع العالم، كالشرق الأوسط ومنطقة البحر الأسود/ القرم وأوكرانيا / وبحر الصين الجنوبي والبحار الأخرى، وصولاً الى القارتين الأفريقية والأميركية الجنوبية، لن يتمّ حسمها إلا لصالح روسيا والصين، وبالتالي لصالح القوى الدولية الساعية الى إنهاء السيطرة والهيمنة الأميركية الأحادية الجانب في العالم، وذلك لأنّ الانتصار في الحروب لم يعد يعتمد على استخدام القوة المسلحة فقط وإنما على استخدام العلم كقاعدة للتفوّق على القوة بواسطة إبطال مفعولها.

وكما لاحظنا قبل أيّام قليلة فقط فإنه لم يكن بإمكان إيران أن تسقط طائرة التجسّس الأميركية الأحدث في العالم لو أنّ إيران لم تكن تملك العقول العلمية والهندسية والقاعدة الصناعية لإنتاج الصواريخ المضاده للطائرات بالمواصفات التي عرفها العالم عبر الصاروخ الإيراني الذي أسقط هذه الطائرة.

6 ـ وهذا بالضبط هو ما دفع مستشار الأمن الوطني البريطاني، مارك سيدويل Mark Sedwill، لإبلاغ البرلمان البريطاني، خلال جلسة استماع سنة 2017، بانّ أيّ هجوم إلكتروني على أحد كوابل الإنترنت البحرية البريطانية او على احدى محطات التحويل الخاصة بالإنترنت والمسماة تيرمنال Terminal، أيّ محطة، والموجودة تحت البحر، يشبه قصف محطات الكهرباء والموانئ البريطانية خلال الحرب العالمية الثانية.

ما يعني انّ التقدّم الهائل الذي حققته الصناعات التكنولوجية الفائقة الحداثة لم يعطِ الصين ميزة خلق نظام دفاع إلكتروني/ سايبري/ فعّال للغاية فحسب، وإنما نقلها الى مرحلة الدفاع الهجومي الرادع تماماً لأيّ عدوان محتمل، وذلك من خلال السلاح الصيني المخيف، الذي كشف عنه مؤخراً والمتمثل في المدفع الكهرومغناطيسي، والمسمّى بالانجليزية Electromagnetic Railgun، وهو محمول على سفينة إنزال من فئة 072ll – Yuting – Class، اسمها هايانغشان Haiyangshan ويطلق قذائف تفوق سرعتها سرعة الصوت بخمس مرات. علماً انّ باستطاعة هذا المدفع، الذي سيدخل الخدمة الميدانية في الجيش الصيني عام 2023، ان يطلق قذائف كهرومغناطيسية قاتله يصل مداها الى مائتي كيلومتر.

اذن فهي الثورة الرقمية والتكنولوجيا المرتبطة بها هي التي ستضع حداً للهيمنة الأميركية على مقدرات العالم والتي ستحوّل التقاتل الى تعاون منتج على قاعدة الاحترام المتبادل لاستقلال الدول والشعوب وسيادتها على أراضيها.

عالم يأفل نجمه ويتصدّع رغم تقدّمه العسكري، فيما عالم ينهض ويتعالى بالعلوم رغم حجم تسليحه الأقلّ، والفضل في ذلك للثورة المعرفية.

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

 

Iran goes for “maximum counter-pressure”

Iran goes for “maximum counter-pressure”

By Pepe Escobar – with permission and cross-posted with Strategic Culture Foundation

Sooner or later the US “maximum pressure” on Iran would inevitably be met by “maximum counter-pressure”.  Sparks are ominously bound to fly.

For the past few days, intelligence circles across Eurasia had been prodding Tehran to consider a quite straightforward scenario. There would be no need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if Quds Force commander, General Qasem Soleimani, the ultimate Pentagon bête noire, explained in detail, on global media, that Washington simply does not have the military capacity to keep the Strait open.

As I previously reported, shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would destroy the American economy by detonating the $1.2 quadrillion derivatives market; and that would collapse the world banking system, crushing the world’s $80 trillion GDP and causing an unprecedented depression.

Soleimani should also state bluntly that Iran may in fact shut down the Strait of Hormuz if the nation is prevented from exporting essential two million barrels of oil a day, mostly to Asia. Exports, which before illegal US sanctions and de facto blockade would normally reach 2.5 million barrels a day, now may be down to only 400,000.

Soleimani’s intervention would align with consistent signs already coming from the IRGC. The Persian Gulf is being described as an imminent “shooting gallery.” Brigadier General Hossein Salami stressed that Iran’s ballistic missiles are capable of hitting “carriers in the sea” with pinpoint precision. The whole northern border of the Persian Gulf, on Iranian territory, is lined up with anti-ship missiles – as I confirmed with IRGC-related sources.

We’ll let you know when it’s closed

Then, it happened.

Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, went straight to the point; “If the Islamic Republic of Iran were determined to prevent export of oil from the Persian Gulf, that determination would be realized in full and announced in public, in view of the power of the country and its Armed Forces.”

The facts are stark. Tehran simply won’t accept all-out economic war lying down – prevented to export the oil that protects its economic survival. The Strait of Hormuz question has been officially addressed. Now it’s time for the derivatives.

Presenting detailed derivatives analysis plus military analysis to global media would force the media pack, mostly Western, to go to Warren Buffett to see if it is true. And it is true. Soleimani, according to this scenario, should say as much and recommend that the media go talk to Warren Buffett.

The extent of a possible derivatives crisis is an uber-taboo theme for the Washington consensus institutions. According to one of my American banking sources, the most accurate figure – $1.2 quadrillion – comes from a Swiss banker, off the record. He should know; the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank of central banks – is in Basle.

The key point is it doesn’t matter how the Strait of Hormuz is blocked.

It could be a false flag. Or it could be because the Iranian government feels it’s going to be attacked and then sinks a cargo ship or two. What matters is the final result; any blocking of the energy flow will lead the price of oil to reach $200 a barrel, $500 or even, according to some Goldman Sachs projections, $1,000.

Another US banking source explains; “The key in the analysis is what is called notional. They are so far out of the money that they are said to mean nothing. But in a crisis the notional can become real.  For example, if I buy a call for a million barrels of oil at $300 a barrel, my cost will not be very great as it is thought to be inconceivable that the price will go that high.  That is notional.  But if the Strait is closed, that can become a stupendous figure.”

BIS will only commit, officially, to indicate the total notional amount outstanding for contracts in derivatives markers is an estimated $542.4 trillion. But this is just an estimate.

The banking source adds, “Even here it is the notional that has meaning.  Huge amounts are interest rate derivatives. Most are notional but if oil goes to a thousand dollars a barrel, then this will affect interest rates if 45% of the world’s GDP is oil. This is what is called in business a contingent liability.”

Goldman Sachs has projected a feasible, possible $1,000 a barrel a few weeks after the Strait of Hormuz being shut down. This figure, times 100 million barrels of oil produced per day, leads us to 45% of the $80 trillion global GDP. It’s self-evident the world economy would collapse based on just that alone.

War dogs barking mad

As much as 30% of the world’s oil supply transits the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Wily Persian Gulf traders – who know better – are virtually unanimous; if Tehran was really responsible for the Gulf of Oman tanker incident, oil prices would be going through the roof by now. They aren’t.

Iran’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz amount to 12 nautical miles (22 km). Since 1959, Iran recognizes only non-military naval transit.

Since 1972, Oman’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz also amount to 12 nautical miles. At its narrowest, the width of the Strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km). That means, crucially, that half of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, and the other half in Oman’s. There are no “international waters”.

And that adds to Tehran now openly saying that Iran may decide to close the Strait of Hormuz publicly – and not by stealth.

Iran’s indirect, asymmetric warfare response to any US adventure will be very painful. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran once again reconfirmed,

“even a limited strike will be met by a major and disproportionate response.”

And that means gloves off, big time; anything from really blowing up tankers to, in Marandi’s words,

“Saudi and UAE oil facilities in flames”.

Hezbollah will launch tens of thousands of missiles against Israel. As Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hasan Nasrallah has been stressing in his speeches,

“war on Iran will not remain within that country’s borders, rather it will mean that the entire [Middle East] region will be set ablaze. All of the American forces and interests in the region will be wiped out, and with them the conspirators, first among them Israel and the Saudi ruling family.”

It’s quite enlightening to pay close attention to what this Israel intel op is saying. The dogs of war though are barking mad.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to CENTCOM in Tampa to discuss “regional security concerns and ongoing operations” with – skeptical – generals, a euphemism for “maxim pressure” eventually leading to war on Iran.

Iranian diplomacy, discreetly, has already informed the EU – and the Swiss – about their ability to crash the entire world economy. But still that was not enough to remove US sanctions.

Iran goes for “maximum counter-pressure”

Pepe Escobar
June 20, 2019
Image result for Iran goes for “maximum counter-pressure”
© Photo: Defense.gov

Sooner or later the US “maximum pressure” on Iran would inevitably be met by “maximum counter-pressure”. Sparks are ominously bound to fly.

For the past few days, intelligence circles across Eurasia had been prodding Tehran to consider a quite straightforward scenario. There would be no need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if Quds Force commander, General Qasem Soleimani, the ultimate Pentagon bête noire, explained in detail, on global media, that Washington simply does not have the military capacity to keep the Strait open.

As I previously reported, shutting down the Strait of Hormuz

would destroy the American economy by detonating the $1.2 quadrillion derivatives market; and that would collapse the world banking system, crushing the world’s $80 trillion GDP and causing an unprecedented depression.

Soleimani should also state bluntly that Iran may in fact shut down the Strait of Hormuz if the nation is prevented from exporting essential two million barrels of oil a day, mostly to Asia. Exports, which before illegal US sanctions and de facto blockade would normally reach 2.5 million barrels a day, now may be down to only 400,000.

Soleimani’s intervention would align with consistent signs already coming from the IRGC. The Persian Gulf is being described as an imminent “shooting gallery.” Brigadier General Hossein Salami stressed that Iran’s ballistic missiles are capable of hitting “carriers in the sea” with pinpoint precision. The whole northern border of the Persian Gulf, on Iranian territory, is lined up with anti-ship missiles – as I confirmed with IRGC-related sources.

We’ll let you know when it’s closed

Then, it happened.

Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, went straight to the point; “If the Islamic Republic of Iran were determined to prevent export of oil from the Persian Gulf, that determination would be realized in full and announced in public, in view of the power of the country and its Armed Forces.”

The facts are stark. Tehran simply won’t accept all-out economic war lying down – prevented to export the oil that protects its economic survival. The Strait of Hormuz question has been officially addressed. Now it’s time for the derivatives.

Presenting detailed derivatives analysis plus military analysis to global media would force the media pack, mostly Western, to go to Warren Buffett to see if it is true. And it is true. Soleimani, according to this scenario, should say as much and recommend that the media go talk to Warren Buffett.

The extent of a possible derivatives crisis is an uber-taboo theme for the Washington consensus institutions. According to one of my American banking sources, the most accurate figure – $1.2 quadrillion – comes from a Swiss banker, off the record. He should know; the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank of central banks – is in Basle.

The key point is it doesn’t matter how the Strait of Hormuz is blocked.

It could be a false flag. Or it could be because the Iranian government feels it’s going to be attacked and then sinks a cargo ship or two. What matters is the final result; any blocking of the energy flow will lead the price of oil to reach $200 a barrel, $500 or even, according to some Goldman Sachs projections, $1,000.

Another US banking source explains; “The key in the analysis is what is called notional. They are so far out of the money that they are said to mean nothing. But in a crisis the notional can become real.  For example, if I buy a call for a million barrels of oil at $300 a barrel, my cost will not be very great as it is thought to be inconceivable that the price will go that high.  That is notional.  But if the Strait is closed, that can become a stupendous figure.”

BIS will only commit, officially, to indicate the total notional amount outstanding for contracts in derivatives markers is an estimated $542.4 trillion. But this is just an estimate.

The banking source adds, “Even here it is the notional that has meaning.  Huge amounts are interest rate derivatives. Most are notional but if oil goes to a thousand dollars a barrel, then this will affect interest rates if 45% of the world’s GDP is oil. This is what is called in business a contingent liability.”

Goldman Sachs has projected a feasible, possible $1,000 a barrel a few weeks after the Strait of Hormuz being shut down. This figure, times 100 million barrels of oil produced per day, leads us to 45% of the $80 trillion global GDP. It’s self-evident the world economy would collapse based on just that alone.

War dogs barking mad

As much as 30% of the world’s oil supply transits the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Wily Persian Gulf traders – who know better – are virtually unanimous; if Tehran was really responsible for the Gulf of Oman tanker incident, oil prices would be going through the roof by now. They aren’t.

Iran’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz amount to 12 nautical miles (22 km). Since 1959, Iran recognizes only non-military naval transit.

Since 1972, Oman’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz also amount to 12 nautical miles. At its narrowest, the width of the Strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km). That means, crucially, that half of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, and the other half in Oman’s. There are no “international waters”.

And that adds to Tehran now openly saying that Iran may decide to close the Strait of Hormuz publicly – and not by stealth.

Iran’s indirect, asymmetric warfare response to any US adventure will be very painful. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran once again reconfirmed, “even a limited strike will be met by a major and disproportionate response.” And that means gloves off, big time; anything from really blowing up tankers to, in Marandi’s words, “Saudi and UAE oil facilities in flames”.

Hezbollah will launch tens of thousands of missiles against Israel. As

Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hasan Nasrallah has been stressing in his speeches,

“war on Iran will not remain within that country’s borders, rather it will mean that the entire [Middle East] region will be set ablaze. All of the American forces and interests in the region will be wiped out, and with them the conspirators, first among them Israel and the Saudi ruling family.”

It’s quite enlightening to pay close attention to what this Israel intel op is saying. The dogs of war though are barking mad.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to CENTCOM in Tampa to discuss “regional security concerns and ongoing operations” with – skeptical – generals, a euphemism for “maxim pressure” eventually leading to war on Iran.

Iranian diplomacy, discreetly, has already informed the EU – and the Swiss – about their ability to crash the entire world economy. But still that was not enough to remove US sanctions.

 

مَنْ يقدر على اللعب على حافة الهاوية؟

يونيو 20, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– إذا كان قرار كل من واشنطن وطهران هو تفادي المواجهة العسكرية المكلفة والتي تفرض سياقاً لا يرغب به أحد منهما، ومقابله العجز عن التراجع لدى كل من الفريقين عن مواقفه وبلوغهما مرحلة الانسداد السياسي، فهذا يعني أننا في مرحلة تصعيد للتوتر لا يمكن فهمها إلا بالرهان المتبادل عند كل من الفريقين بقدرته على خوض ما يعرف سياسياً وعسكرياً باستراتيجية اللعب على حافة الهاوية. وهي الاستراتيجية التي وصف بها وزير الخارجية الأميركية الأسبق هنري كيسينجر الأسلوب التفاوضي للرئيس السوري الراحل حافظ الأسد خلال مفاوضات فك الاشتباك في الجولان عام 1974، وملخص ما قدّمه كيسنجر من توصيف لهذه الاستراتيجية أنها تقوم على الذهاب في التصلب عند الهدف المرسوم للتفاوض إلى طريق اللاعودة، والاستعداد لتقبل فشل التفاوض والذهاب إلى المجهول، في ظل وضوح النتائج المدمّرة لأي مواجهة، ويلزم خصمه المفاوض على الاختيار بين السقوط معه إلى الهاوية أو تقبل التراجع عن حافتها.

– عملياً هذا ما يفعله كل من الأميركيين والإيرانيين، فالتصعيد الأميركي بالتمسك بالعقوبات المشدّدة على إيران، قابلته ردود إيرانية مضمونها، اضطراب الملاحة النفطية في الخليج وعودة خطر امتلاك إيران لكمية من اليورانيوم المخصب كافية لإنتاج قنبلة نووية، وهو ما كان السعي لمنعه خلف القبول المستعجل للرئيس الأميركي السابق باراك أوباما بالتوقيع على الاتفاق النووي مع إيران. والواضح أن واشنطن لم تحصد المناخ الدولي الذي كانت تأمل به من وراء دخول إيران هذه المرحلة، فبدلاً من التجاوب الروسي والصيني والأوروبي مع دعوة واشنطن لتجريم طهران وقبول الفصل بين التأزم القائم بينها وبين واشنطن وبين توصيف خطواتها بالتهديد للأمن والسلم الدوليين، جاءت مواقف موسكو تحمّل واشنطن مسؤولية إسقاط القرارات الأممية والاستهتار بالقوانين الدولية، عبر معاقبة من يلتزم بقرار أممي صدّق بموجبه مجلس الأمن الدولي على التفاهم النووي مع إيران، وتحركت أوروبا للقول إن الحفاظ على التفاهم النووي يشكل الأولوية الراهنة لمنع المزيد من التصعيد، وما يعنيه ذلك من سعي أوروبا لتقديم حوافز تجارية لإيران تلبي طلباتها للعودة عن خيار مواجهة التصعيد الأميركي بتصعيد مماثل.

– الواضح أن هذا لم يدفع واشنطن للتراجع وقبول دعوات التهدئة للوصول إلى حلول وتسويات ولو مؤقتة، قبل حلول نهاية مهلة الستين يوماً التي حدّدتها إيران للخروج من الاتفاق النووي والتزاماتها بموجباته، فواشنطن تواصل اللعب على حافة الهاوية، وهي تراهن أن المزيد من التصعيد، في ظل التزام أميركي بعدم التورط بأي مواجهة عسكرية سيجعل إيران الفاعل الوحيد على المسرح، لأن العقوبات غير مرئية بينما سيكون مشهد الاضطراب في الملاحة النفطية مرئياً وسيكون ذهاب إيران للتخصيب المرتفع موضع تقارير صادرة عن الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذرية. وهذا يدفع واشنطن للاعتقاد بأن المناخ الدولي سيكون عندها قابلاً للتغيير، لصالح مناقشة ما تسميه التجاوزات الإيرانية في مجلس الأمن وسيتيح انتقال الضغط على إيران للحد من خطواتها التصعيدية دون تنازلات أميركية في مجال العقوبات، التي تراهن واشنطن على أن استمرارها لزمن يتخطى اول العام المقبل سيجعل إيران تقترب من اللحظة الحرجة لقبول التفاوض بشروط جديدة.

– ما لم يضعه الأميركيون في حسابهم هو أنه ما لم يتم التوصل إلى تسوية مقبولة في الأيام المتبقية من المهلة الإيرانية للخروج من الاتفاق النووي فإن المنطقة ستكون ذاهبة إلى مواجهات متعددة وليس إلى تسخين تفاوضي. فالقراءة الإيرانية ومعها قراءة حلفائها الذين يعتقدون أن إضعاف إيران يستهدفهم قبلها، وهذا واضح في التصريحات الأميركية، حول المطلوب من إيران وأغلبه يتصل بقوى المقاومة وتمويلها. وبناء عليه فإن الشهرين المقبلين سيضعان المنطقة على حافة الحرب، وسيكون لكل الجبهات التي يعرف الأميركيون أنها تعنيهم نصيب من بلوغ هذه الحافة، ويكفي عدم بلوغ تسوية تنهي التصعيد حتى يكون آخر شهر آب موعد إقفال مضيق هرمز، وربما اشتعال جبهات عديدة في شمال المنطقة وجنوبها وشرقها وغربها، وعندها سيكون على الأميركيين أن يقرروا ماذا سيفعلون؟

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The Trump-Bolton Duo Is Just Like the Bush-Cheney Duo: Warmongers Using Lies to Start Illegal Wars

Global Research, June 18, 2019

[False flag operations:] “The powers-that-be understand that to create the appropriate atmosphere for war, it’s necessary to create within the general populace a hatred, fear or mistrust of others regardless of whether those others belong to a certain group of people or to a religion or a nation.” James Morcan (1978- ), New Zealander-born Australian writer.

[Definition: A ‘false flag operation’ is a horrific, staged event—blamed on a political enemy—and used as pretext to start a war or to enact draconian laws in the name of national security].

Almost all wars begin with false flag operations.” Larry Chin (d. of b. unknown), North American author, (in ‘False Flagging the World towards War. The CIA Weaponizes Hollywood’, Dec. 27, 2014).

Definition of reverse projection: attributing to others what you are doing yourself as the reason for attacking them.” John McMurtry (1939- ), Canadian philosopher, (in ‘The Moral Decoding of 9-11: Beyond the U.S. Criminal State’, Journal of 9/11 Studies, Feb.2013).

That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord, and cultivate prejudices between nations, it becomes the more unpardonable.” Thomas Paine (1737-1809), American Founding father, pamphleteer, (in ‘The Rights of Man’, c. 1792).

I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, and we stoleIt was like — we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment. Mike Pompeo (1963- ), former CIA director and now Secretary of State in the Trump administration, (in April 2019, while speaking at Texas A&M University.)

***

History repeats itself. Indeed, those who live by war are at it again. Their crime: starting illegal wars by committing false flag attacks and blaming other countries for their own criminal acts. On this, the Donald Trump-John Bolton duo is just like the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney duo. It is amazing that in an era of 24-hour news, this could still going on.

We recall that in 2002-2003, the latter duo, with the help of U.K.’s Tony Blair, lied their way into a war of aggression against Iraq, by pretending that Saddam Hussein had a massive stockpile of “weapons of mass destruction”and that he was ready to attack the United States proper. On October 6, 2002, George W. Bush scared Americans with his big Mushroom Cloud analogy.  —It was all bogus. —It was a pure fabrication that the gullible (!) U.S. Congress, the corporate media, and most of the American public, swallowed hook, line and sinker.

Now, in 2019, a short sixteen years later, the same stratagem seems to being used to start another illegal war of aggression, this time against the country of Iran. The masters of deception are at it again. Their secret agents and those of their Israeli and Saudi allies, in the Middle East, seem to have just launched an unprovoked attack, in international waters, against a Japanese tanker, and they have rushed to the cameras to accuse Iran. They claim that the latter country used mines to attack the tanker.

This time, they were unlucky. —The owner of the Japanese tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, immediately rebuked that “official” version. Yutaka Katada, president of the Kokuka Sangyo shipping company, declared that the attack came from a bombing from above the water. Indeed, Mr. Katada told reporters:

Source: The Washington Post

The crew are saying it was hit with a flying object. They say something came flying toward them, then there was an explosion, then there was a hole in the vessel.”

His company issued a statement saying that “the hull (of the ship) has been breached above the waterline on the starboard side”, and it was not hit by a mine below the waterline, as the Trump administration has insinuated. —[N. B.: There was also a less serious attack on a Norwegian ship, the Front Altair.]

Thus, this time the false flag makers have not succeeded. But, you can be sure that they will be back at it, sooner or later, just as they, and their well financed al-Qaeda allies, launched a few false flag “chemical” attacks in Syria, and blamed them on the Syrian Assad government.

Donald Trump has too much to gain personally from a nice little war to distract the media and the public from the Mueller report and from all his mounting political problems. In his case, he surely would benefit from a “wag-the-dog” scenario that John Bolton and his friends in the Middle East could easily invent. As a matter of fact, two weeks ago, warmonger John Bolton was coincidently in the Middle East, in the United Arab Emirates, just before the attacks!

Besides the Japanese ship owner’s denial, it is important to point out that  at the moment of the attack on the Japanese tanker, the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzo Abe, was in Iran, having talks with the Iranian government about economic cooperation between the two countries about oil shipments. Since Iran is the victim of unilateral U. S. economic sanctions, to derail such an economic cooperation between Japan and Iran could have been the triggered motivation to launch a false flag operation. It did not work. But you can be sure that the responsible party will not be prosecuted.

Conclusion

We live in an era when people with low morals, sponsored by people with tons of money, can gain power and do a lot of damage. How our democracies can survive in such a context remains an open question.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay.

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, of the book “The New American Empire”, and the recent book, in French “La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018“. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Rouhani: Iranians Will Be The Ultimate Winners of Any War Against The Islamic Republic

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reaffirmed that Iran does not seek war with any state, but stresses that the Iranian nation will be the ultimate winner of any warfare against the Islamic Republic.

“We will not wage war with any nation, those facing us are a group of politicians with little experience,” said Rouhani, addressing an inauguration ceremony at the Imam Khomeini International Airport [IKIA] in southern Tehran on Tuesday.

Rouhani’s comment came a day after acting US War Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East amid escalating tensions with Iran.

Tehran has time and again said that it does not seek military confrontations with the United States, yet stands ready to defend its interests in the region.

Rouhani further slammed attempts by enemies to pile up economic pressure against the Iranian nation to create despair among the people.

He said the ill-wishers have launched a “war of hope and wills” against the Iranian nation, adding that the enemies are attempting to create despair among the Iranian nation through malicious schemes.

Iranians are, however, determined to defeats such plots and keep their hope alive, Rouhani said, stressing that the Iranian people “will be the ultimate winner of this war and pressure.”

Iran has been witnessing new economic and social progress despite all the enemy pressure, he added.

“Despite all of the Americans’ attempts in the region and their intention to cut off our ties with the entire world and their desire to isolate Iran, they have been unsuccessful,” Rouhani stressed.

The world community, he added, praises Iran’s stance in its face-off with America.

“Iran has been loyal to its signature, Iran has been loyal to international agreements, and the one standing against us today is the one that has trampled all pacts, agreements and international accords,” he noted, referring to Washington’s withdrawal from a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Tehran.

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Provocations in the Gulf of Oman: Will John Bolton Get His War on Iran?

Global Research, June 16, 2019

“America’s declared policy should be ending Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution before its 40th anniversary…Recognizing a new Iranian regime in 2019 would reverse the shame of once seeing our diplomats held hostage for 444 days.” – John Bolton (January 15, 2018) [1]

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Coincidentally or not, America’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran began within a month of John Bolton’s installment as National Security Advisor. On May 8th of 2018, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. was backing out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the U.S. under President Barrack Obama along with the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany and the EU in July of 2015. Consequently, the sanctions imposed on Iran previous to the JCPOA were reinstated, and additional sanctions imposed by the end of the year.

In April of this year, the Trump Administration took the unprecedented step of declaring the Middle East country’s military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to be a terrorist organization.

Two weeks later, the Trump Administration ended the waivers it had extended to other countries which had to that point allowed them to escape sanctions for purchasing Iranian oil. The aim of this manoeuvre being to strangle the Iranian economy by preventing its ability to profit from the sale of its main source of revenue.

Two weeks after that, Bolton announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and Air Force Bombers to the Middle East as part of an effort to “send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

The following week, four tankers were attacked in the Persian Gulf. Bolton and Secretary of State Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks.

America’s choke-hold on Iran’s economy continued to tighten with further sanctions on May 8th of this year, the anniversary of Trump’s JCPOA pull-out.

Two weeks after that, President Trump ordered 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East, and was able to declare an emergency over Iran, allowing the White House to circumvent Congress, and move ahead with arms sales to allies Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

By early June, the administration started sending out conciliatory signals. The President indicated he, unlike his National Security Advisor, was not seeking regime change in Iran, and shortly afterwards, Secretary of State Pompeo said the U.S. was prepared to engage the Iranians “without preconditions.”

Then, on Thursday June 13, two ships in the Gulf of Oman were fired upon. U.S. officials including Trump are pointing to Iran as the guilty party, although Iranian officials categorically deny the accusation.

Is the world now on a trajectory toward war? Perhaps even a world war? This daunting possibility is at the heart of this week’s Global Research News Hour radio program.

First up, we hear from prominent Canadian intellectual Michel ChossudovskyProfessor Chossudovsky, while not completely ruling out the possibility of a “bloody nose” operation or other forms of economic warfare, argues that the U.S. cannot expect to fight and win a conventional Iraq style conflict in light of developments in strategic regional alliances over the last decade. Chossudovsky explains his reasoning in the first half hour.

Our second guest, Yves Engler, brings a Canadian angle to the conversation by outlining the enmity America’s northern neighbour has expressed toward the Islamic Republic and that has not changed substantially since the more ‘progressive’ Trudeau Liberals took power in 2015. Engler details the factors influencing Canadian policy and how Canadians can hope to redirect relations in a more positive and peaceful direction.

Finally, the noted journalist and geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar shares his insights into America’s shifting attitudes toward the Iranian government, the recent attacks on ships in the Gulf of Oman, and what these developments say about divisions within the Trump Administration, and the prospect of a bloody war and economic depression rivalling anything the world has seen in the 21st century. (See transcript below.)

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Ottawa and the award-winning author of 11 books including his most recent America’s Long War Against Humanity. He is also the founder and director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and editor of Global Research.

Yves Engler is one of Canada’s foremost Canadian foreign policy critics and dissidents. He is the author of nine books on Canadian foreign policy including The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy (2009), and his most recent, Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada. His articles have appeared at rabble.ca, canadiandimension.com, and on his own site yvesengler.com.

Pepe Escobar is a veteran Brazilian Journalist, geopolitical analyst and Correspondent at large for Asia Times based out of Hong Kong. He has written for Tom Dispatch, Sputnik News, and Press TV, and RT. His articles appear in a number of websites including Global Research, and is a frequent commentator on radio and tv.

(Global Research News Hour Episode 264)

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Transcript – Interview with Pepe Escobar, June 14, 2019.

Global Research: I want to refer to a recent article you mentioned about a devastating hammer that Iran can use against the United States in the event of an overt attack. And the US knows it. What have your sources disclosed about the Strait of Hormuz and Iran’s capacity to fight back against an attack?

Pepe Escobar: Exactly. Look, I think the last article I published about it was after the Bilderberg meetings in fact. Because I was asked to investigate about at least some of the stuff they were discussing inside Bilderberg. I had a good banking source in fact. They did not disclose much. You know very well at Global Research how Bilderberg works–

GR: Chatham House Rules

PE: Exactly – you betcha. But I got some interesting information about how they were seeing the results of the European parliamentary elections as a sort of victory because now everyone in Europe is more or less the center-left and the center-right and the Greens are more or less on the same page, but from the point of view of Bilderbergers, there was a victory.

But then, I was asking, look I’m sure they discuss about China and Iran and all that, and my source was saying look, I cannot talk about this for obvious reasons. But then I got information from someone who’s above Bilderberg, if you can put it this way. This is one of my best sources for years, in fact. American, the only thing I can say is American. It’s not European, it’s not Asian.

And he told me look, I know what they discussed about Iran because the key information is actually on Trump’s desk. We all know that Trump doesn’t read anything, but this information came supported by Wall Street guys. And I’m talking about the big guys. Blackstone, Sumner Redstone, Jamie Dimon from JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs people including Goldman Sachs projections, you name it. So, Trump must have seen it at least, or at least somebody must have read it to him in two or three minutes.

And I had written about this before. Now more…the studies are more detailed. It’s about if, essentially, if the Strait of Hormuz is shut down, whatever the reason, it could be a false flag, like most probably what happened yesterday with the two tankers, the Norwegian tanker and the Japanese tanker transporting petrochemical products back to Asia, was not in the Strait of Hormuz, it was more on the open sea and the Gulf of Oman. If it was in the Strait of Hormuz, it would be much, much worse than what happened yesterday.

So the projections, including Goldman Sachs projections, if this happens and the Strait is closed, whatever the reason, because mostly insurers would not risk ensuring any vessel leaving the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, and then further afield, the price of the barrel of oil in less than 24 hours would be over 100, after one day or two, 200, after a week, 500, and there is some projections that after a while we would even reach 1000. And more than that, the implosion of Casino Capitalism as we know it, especially because of the…

And then we have different numbers. The derivatives, especially oil derivatives and other derivatives as well. There are all sorts of numbers concerning how many derivatives are out there, from 500 billion dollars, which is the official Bank of International Settlements figure to 2.5 quadrillion dollars, in fact. So, it gets very complicated. I had to fight with the… with Asia Times to say, look, you should publish all the figures, and they prefer to go for the lowest estimate. And one of my sources told me no, this is the… Swiss bankers know this figure, implying more or less his source was from the Bank of International Settlements, and he’s adamant that it’s 2.5 quadrillion dollars. So this means that the whole western economy would collapse in a matter of literally nanoseconds.

So, this was in my story for Asia Times. I also wrote about this for Consortium News and more, and for the past month or so, I discussed this with Iranians but not directly with the Revolutionary Guards. People who have access to IRGC information.

And always the IRGC are very secretive. They know, and they do have the necessary means to shut down the Strait, whichever way they want. And that’s why I got from my Iranian sources this time, they are so sure that the Americans won’t try anything stupid, because the Pentagon knows what Iran is capable of militarily. They know about all those missiles lining up the northern shore of the Persian Gulf on the Iranian side pointed at everything that moves in the Strait of Hormuz and also in the Gulf of Oman.

And that was the main reason that Trump wants to talk. And this was discussed at Bilderberg, every single thing that I’m telling you. Why? Because Mike Pompeo, at the last minute, scheduled that stop in Switzerland, especially in Bern, to talk to the president of Switzerland, but he also talked to the people at Bilderberg afterwards. Because Bilderberg was in Montreux, not very far. He went to Montreux as well. And they talk, and I’m sure they talk obviously no leaks whatsoever about it, but obviously Pompeo had to talk especially with Europeans who are terrified about this, and some Europeans knew about this information, because this information was circulated by bankers to European bankers as well. Bilderberg, everything connected. So this was the reason why Pompeo actually went to Switzerland at that time. This was an unscheduled stop; we have to remember this all the time.

So… but still we have the major problem on the table, which resurfaced yesterday. Are the neocons around Trump playing their last card to force him to do anything on a military side against Iran? Because if it’s…I would say we still don’t have a mega smoking gun, but it’s more or less sure that what happened yesterday was a false flag. We still don’t know exactly how it worked. But if that’s the case, and Trump saying today, no if they close the Strait of Hormuz it’s not going to be for long, which is a diversionist tactic, he knows, he should know by now what that would mean in terms of a disaster for the global economy.

So now we are way beyond this already, we are in a horrible stage where the United States has painted itself into a corner, saying, Pompeo saying, on the record, that to Iran they’re responsible without examining any evidence at all. Today, very, very important, earlier today, since yesterday and earlier today, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, guess who was in the same room? Putin, Modi, Xi, Imran Khan, and as an observer, Rouhani, President of Iran.

And obviously, they were discussing Iran. It was not on the final statement because Iran was an observer to the SCO. But they discussed, as far as, from my sources told me, it hasn’t leaked a lot so far, but they did discuss Iran, and Rouhani made a solemn promise, which was brilliant in geo-economic terms, to all SCO member nations: You’re going to have the… your companies, from any one of you, India, Pakistan, Russia, China, all the central Asians, all of your companies that invest the Iranian market, you’re going to have the best possible conditions anywhere. So, there’s going to be a lot of foreign investment from the SCO, companies from SCO member nations in the Iranian economy.

So, Iran, on the diplomatic side, they are doing very well. On the military side, as far as I know from my Iranian sources who know more or less in detail what the IRGC is doing, they tell me, look, they don’t care anymore, whatever the Americans say. And this comes straight from the top. from Ayatollah Khamenei when he says that it’s absolutely pointless to talk with the Americans. And Zarif is saying in a more diplomatic way to Ministers of Foreign Relations everywhere and leaders everywhere, including of course Putin and Xi. “We are ready for anything that happens, we want diplomacy of course, but if they ratchet up the pressure, we will ratchet up pressure from our side.” It’s getting to a very, very dangerous stalemate now, Michael.

GR: Yeah, I was wondering if you could address a point related… I guess you could call it palace intrigue in Washington. Because it’s been suggested by fellow Consortium News contributor of yours, John Kiriakou, that John Bolton’s days as national security advisor are numbered, given all the unwelcome provocations he’s directing at Iran. At the same time, the United States, Trump, presumably doesn’t want to have an unwinnable war on the eve of a major US presidential election campaign, nor does he want to bring down the global capitalist deck of cards. So, how… What options does he have? How can Trump avoid escalation with Iran without losing face at this point?

PE: Exactly, that’s a very good question. John’s information is very, very good. Because it ties with the information that I have from people in New York who do business with Trump. They told me the same thing. He’s absolutely furious, in fact, with the way he was painted into a corner by Bolton especially. Pompeo not so much. Pompeo is expected to go around blasting Iran. But Bolton is actually trying to implement something practical or false flag style on the ground. And now, Trump himself is painting himself into a corner. He is already accusing Iran of what happened in the Gulf of Oman on the record. How is he going to backtrack from that? Of course, now he cannot backtrack without just saying oh, look I was wrong, okay, here’s another tweet, I changed my mind!

So, it’s…what we know for sure is that he doesn’t want any kind of military scenario because he seems to know what that would imply. Considering the IRGC, their force, what they have, the missiles, and of course the financial angle, which is the derivatives crisis. At the same time, they keep ratcheting up the pressure under the so-called self-described maximum pressure campaign. And there’s no possibility of dialogue because this, what happened yesterday, was… when Prime Minister Shinzō Abe was talking to Khameini in Khameini’s office in Tehran, trying to defuse the whole situation, Japan as the intermediary, the messenger between Washington and Tehran, and this thing happens, this is completely cra– and anyone with an IQ higher than 12 can figure out that this doesn’t make any sense at all. Why would Iran attack a Japanese-owned tanker… the minute their prime minister is talking to the leader of the… This is completely absurd.

GR: And talking to the prime minister on behalf of Trump.

PE: On behalf of Trump – exactly, exactly! He had a letter. He had a letter which probably was sent by team Trump to Ayatollah Khameini. Khameini, from the beginning, he said look there’s nothing to talk about. In fact it’s fantastic. Somebody came up with two different pictures. Abe had the letter with him, he put it on the table when they were talking, and after a while he removed the letter from the table. A graphic sign that Khameini was not ready to read anything written by team Trump.

GR: Well, Pepe, I wish we had more time to discuss this, but, I know we’ve both got to go, but I want to thank you for lending your very knowledgeable voice to this critical discussion on breaking events.

PE: I hope this is helpful for everybody.

GR: We’ve been speaking with geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar. He joined us from Paris.

-end of interview –

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM out of the University of Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

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Notes:

  1. John Bolton (January 15, 2018), ‘Beyond the Iran Nuclear Deal: U.S. Policy should be to end the Islamic Republic before its 40th anniversary’, Wall Street Journal; https://www.wsj.com/articles/beyond-the-iran-nuclear-deal-1516044178

Convenient “Tanker Attacks” as US Seeks War with Iran

June 13, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO)

…it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. 

– Brookings Institution, “Which Path to Persia?” 2009 

For the second time since the United States unilaterally withdrew from the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal, Western reports of “suspected attacks” on oil tankers near the Stait of Hormuz have attempted to implicate Iran.

The London Guardian in an article titled, “Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman,” would claim:

Two oil tankers have been hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crews evacuated, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck.

The article also claimed:

Gulf tensions have been close to boiling point for weeks as the US puts “maximum economic pressure” on Tehran in an attempt to force it to reopen talks about the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of last year. 

Iran has repeatedly said it has no knowledge of the incidents and did not instruct any surrogate forces to attack Gulf shipping, or Saudi oil installations.

The Guardian would admit that “investigations” into the previous alleged attacks in May carried out by the UAE found “sophisticated mines” were used, but fell short of implicating Iran as a culprit.

The article would note US National Security Advisor John Bolton would – without evidence – claim that Iran “was almost certainly involved.”

All Too Convenient 

This news of “attacked” oil tankers near the Stait of Hormuz blamed by the US on Iran – comes all too conveniently on the heels of additional steps taken by Washington to pressure Iran’s economy and further undermine the Iranian government.

The US just recently ended waivers for nations buying Iranian oil. Nations including Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China, and India will now face US sanctions if they continue importing Iranian oil.

Coincidentally, one of ships “attacked” this week was carrying “Japan-related cargo,” the Guardian would report.

Also convenient was the US’ recent designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) just ahead of this series of provocations attributed to Iran.

AP in a May 2019 article titled, “President Trump Warns Iran Over ‘Sabotaged’ Oil Tankers in Gulf,” would claim:

Four oil tankers anchored in the Mideast were damaged by what Gulf officials described as sabotage, though satellite images obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday showed no major visible damage to the vessels.

Two ships allegedly were Saudi, one Emirati, and one Norwegian. The article also claimed:

A U.S. official in Washington, without offering any evidence, told the AP that an American military team’s initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships.

And that:

The U.S. already had warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran. 

This more recent incident will likely be further exploited by the US to continue building up its military forces in the region, applying pressure on Iran, and moving the entire globe closer toward war with Iran.

The US has already arrayed its forces across the Middle East to aid in ongoing proxy wars against Iran and its allies as well as prepare for conventional war with Tehran itself.

All of this amounts to a renewed push toward a more direct conflict between the United States and Iran after years of proxy war in Syria Washington-backed forces have decisively lost.

It is also a continuation of long-standing US foreign policy regarding Iran put into motion over a decade ago and carried out by each respective presidency since.

Washington’s Long-Standing Plans 

Continued sanctions and the elimination of waivers are part of Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the “Iran Nuclear Deal.” The deal was signed in 2015 with the US withdrawing in 2018.

While the decision is portrayed as political differences between former US President Barack Obama and current US President Donald Trump – in reality – the plan’s proposal, signing, and then withdrawal from by the US was planned in detail as early as 2009 as a means of justifying long sought-after war with Iran.

In their 2009 paper, “Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” (PDF), the corporate-financier funded Brookings Institution would first admit the complications of US-led military aggression against Iran (emphasis added):

...any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. 

The paper then lays out how the US could appear to the world as a peacemaker and depict Iran’s betrayal of a “very good deal” as the pretext for an otherwise reluctant US military response (emphasis added):

The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offerone so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.

And from 2009 onward, this is precisely what the United States set out to achieve.

First with President Obama’s signing of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, up to and including President Trump’s attempts to backtrack from it based on fabricated claims Iran failed to honor the agreement.

The 2009 policy paper also discussed “goading” Iran into war, claiming (emphasis added):

With provocation, the international diplomatic and domestic political requirements of an invasion [of Iran] would be mitigated, and the more outrageous the Iranian provocation (and the less that the United States is seen to be goading Iran), the more these challenges would be diminished. In the absence of a sufficiently horrific provocation, meeting these requirements would be daunting.

Unmentioned directly, but also an obvious method for achieving Washington’s goal of provoking war with Iran would be the US simply staging an “Iranian provocation” itself.

As the US had done in Vietnam following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or US fabrications regardings “weapons of mass destruction” Washington claimed Iraq held in its possession, the US has a clear track record of not just simply provoking provocations, but staging them itself.

The Brookings paper even admits to the unlikelihood of Iran falling into Washington’s trap, lamenting (emphasis added):

…it is certainly the case that if Washington sought such a provocation, it could take actions that might make it more likely that Tehran would do so (although being too obvious about this could nullify the provocation). However, since it would be up to Iran to make the provocative move, which Iran has been wary of doing most times in the past, the United States would never know for sure when it would get the requisite Iranian provocation. In fact, it might never come at all.

The alleged sabotaging of oil tankers off the shore of the UAE in May and now additional “attacks” this month could be the beginning of a series of staged provocations aimed at leveraging the recent listing of the IRGC as a “terrorist organization” coupled with increased economic pressure as a result of US sanctions re-initiated after the US’ own withdrawal from the Iran Deal.

Synergies Toward War 

The US has already attempted to leverage allegations in May of “Iranian sabotage” to further build its case against Iran. Washington hopes that either war – or at least the impending threat of war – coupled with crippling economic sanctions, and continued support of political and armed sedition within Iran itself will create the synergies required for dividing and destroying Iran’s political order.

In a wider regional context, the US has seen political losses particularly in Iraq where Iranian influence has been on the rise. Militarily, US-backed proxy forces have been defeated in Syria with Iran and Russia both establishing permanent and significant footholds there.

Despite the setbacks, the success of Washington’s designs against Tehran still depends mainly on America’s ability to offer political and economic incentives coupled with equally effective threats to friend and foe alike – in order to isolate Iran.

How likely this is to succeed remains questionable – decades of US sanctions, covert and overt aggression, as well as proxy wars have left Iran resilient and with more influence across the region now than ever. Still, Washington’s capacity for sowing regional destruction or dividing and destroying Iran should not be underestimated.

The intentional creation of – then withdrawal from the Iran Deal, the US’ persistent military presence in the Middle East, and sanctions aimed at Iran all indicate that US policymakers remain dedicated isolating and undermining Iran. It will continue to do so until its geopolitical goals are met, or until a new international order creates conditions in the Middle East and throughout the global economy making US regime change against Iran impossible.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

US Not Seeking Military Confrontation with Iran, Only Waging Psywar: Senior MP

 May 12, 2019

Trump

A senior member of the Iranian Parliament says the United States does not seek a military confrontation with Iran and is only waging a “psychological war” against the Islamic Republic.

Head of the Iranian Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh made the remarks after a closed-door meeting of lawmakers with the new chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Major General Hossein Salami, on Sunday.

“Analysis of the behavior of Americans shows that they do not seek a military confrontation with Iran and are only waging a psychological war against the Islamic Republic,” the Iranian lawmaker said, adding that the US government is trying to combine its psychological war against Iran with sanctions and other forms of economic pressure.

Referring to heightened presence of American forces in the Middle East, particularly in the Persian Gulf, Falahatpisheh noted that Iran is capable of hitting its targets from a distance of 2,000 kilometers in line with its defensive policy, while American warships will be at a maximum distance of 500 kilometers away from Iran and they know that in no other war, their defeat will not be so evident.

The United States is ratcheting up economic and military pressure on Iran, with US President Donald Trump on Thursday urging Tehran to talk to him.

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Hezbollah will Eventually Prevail over US Sanctions: Official

Source

April 28, 2019

Deputy Chief of Hezbollah Executive Council Sheikh Ali Daamoush

A high-ranking Hezbollah official says the United States has slapped economic sanctions against the Lebanese resistance movement due to its bitter defeats from the group, stressing that Hezbollah will finally emerge victorious over the punitive measures.

Speaking at a ceremony in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatieh, Vice President of the Executive Council of Hezbollah Sheikh Ali Damoush said Hezbollah will confront the US-led sanctions, and its enemies will definitely fail to achieve their goals.

“Hezbollah, which owes national and moral duties to defend and protect Lebanon against the aggression of the Zionist regime (of Israel), is also responsible for safeguarding the rights and interests of the Lebanese nation and helping prevent economic collapse in the country,” Damoush said.

He added, “The Lebanese resistance movement is targeted by financial sanctions, because it continues to thwart US-Israeli plots in the (Middle East) region. The US, Zionists and their allies have failed in military confrontations with Hezbollah, have fallen short in their psychological war to tarnish the group’s image, and gained not much from designating the Lebanese group a terrorist group.”

Damoush said the strategy of imposing sanctions will not succeed in the face of the strategy of stability and patience, and strong will of Lebanese resistance fighters and Lebanese people, who have managed to thwart enemies’ plots over the past decades.

“Lebanon will not be the arena in which the (the United States of) America can achieve its political objectives. Lebanon has been and will remain to be the place for victories of Hezbollah, and decline in the American role in the region,” the senior Hezbollah official said.

Source: Press TV

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela

A Case of News Suppression

Introduction

This news-report is being submitted to all U.S. and allied news-media, and is being published by all honest ones, in order to inform you of crucial facts that the others — the dishonest ones, who hide such crucial facts — are hiding about Venezuela. These are facts that have received coverage only in one single British newspaper: the Independent, which published a summary account of them on January 26th. That newspaper’s account will be excerpted here at the end, but first will be highlights from its topic, the official report to the U.N. General Assembly in August of last year, which has been covered-up ever since. This is why that report’s author has now gone to the Independent, desperate to get the story out, finally, to the public:

The Covered Up Document

On 3 August 2018, the U.N.’s General Assembly received the report from the U.N. Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. His recent travel through both countries focused on “how best to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights by the populations of both countries.

” He “noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programmes to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone.”

He noted

“that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Ecuador, both devote around 70 per cent of their national budgets to social services.”

However, (and here, key paragraphs from the report are now quoted):

22. Observers have identified errors committed by the Chávez and Maduro Governments, noting that there are too many ideologues and too few technocrats in public administration, resulting in government policies that lack coherence and professional management and discourage domestic investment, already crippled by inefficiency and corruption, which extend to government officials, transnational corporations and entrepreneurs. Critics warn about the undue influence of the military on government and on the running of enterprises like Petróleos de Venezuela. The lack of regular, publicly available data on nutrition, epidemiology and inflation are said to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian support.

23. Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Tarek Saab, has launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, investigating the links between Venezuelan enterprises and tax havens, contracting scams, and deals by public officials with Odebrecht. It is estimated that corruption in the oil industry has cost the Government US$ 4.8 billion. The Attorney General’s Office informed the Independent Expert of pending investigations for embezzlement and extortion against 79 officials of Petróleos de Venezuela, including 22 senior managers. The Office also pointed to the arrest of two high-level oil executives, accused of money-laundering in Andorra. The Ministry of Justice estimates corruption losses at some US$ 15 billion. Other stakeholders, in contrast, assert that anti-corruption programmes are selective and have not sufficiently targeted State institutions, including the military.

29. Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being “weaponized” against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization.

30. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States belong to customary international law and have been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions, notably [a list is supplied].

31. In its judgment of 27 June 1986 concerning Nicaragua v. United States, the International Court of Justice quoted from [U.N.] resolution 2625 (XXV): “no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State”.

36. The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them. Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.

37. Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through “fake news”, aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights “end” justifies the criminal means.

39. Economic asphyxiation policies are comparable to those already practised in Chile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and the Syrian Arab Republic. In January 2018, Middle East correspondent of The Financial Times and The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote on the sanctions affecting Syria:

There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them. An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that “the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible”.

In short: economic sanctions kill.

41. Bearing in mind that Venezuelan society is polarized, what is most needed is dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and it would be a noble task on the part of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to offer his good offices for such a dialogue. Yet, opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges, during a trip through Europe to denounce the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called for further sanctions as well as a military “humanitarian intervention”.

44. Although the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet reached the humanitarian crisis threshold, there is hunger, malnutrition, anxiety, anguish and emigration. What is crucial is to study the causes of the crisis, including neglected factors of sanctions, sabotage, hoarding, black market activities, induced inflation and contraband in food and medicines. 

45. The “crisis” in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is an economic crisis, which cannot be compared with the humanitarian crises in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar, among others. It is significant that when, in 2017, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requested medical aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the plea was rejected, because it ”is still a high-income country … and as such is not eligible”.

46. It is pertinent to recall the situation in the years prior to the election of Hugo Chávez. 118 Corruption was ubiquitous and in 1993, President Carlos Pérez was removed because of embezzlement. The Chávez election in 1998 reflected despair with the corruption and neo-liberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s, and rejection of the gulf between the super-rich and the abject poor.

47. Participatory democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called “protagónica”, is anchored in the Constitution of 1999 and relies on frequent elections and referendums. During the mission, the Independent Expert exchanged views with the Electoral Commission and learned that in the 19 years since Chávez, 25 elections and referendums had been conducted, 4 of them observed by the Carter Center. The Independent Expert met with the representative of the Carter Center in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who recalled Carter’s positive assessment of the electoral system. They also discussed the constitutional objections raised by the opposition to the referendum held on 30 July 2017, resulting in the creation of a Constitutional Assembly. Over 8 million Venezuelans voted in the referendum, which was accompanied by international observers, including from the Council of Electoral Specialists of Latin America. 

48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the “relevant” rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a “fake investigation”. Social media insults bordered on “hate speech” and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert’s integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures.

67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly: (g) Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes? (h) Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law.

70. The Independent Expert recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment.

72. The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.

On January 26th, Britain’s Independent headlined “Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens“, and Michael Selby-Green reported that:

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

The comments come amid worsening tensions in the country after the US and UK have backed Juan Guaido, who appointed himself “interim president” of Venezuela as hundreds of thousands marched to support him.

The US Treasury has not responded to a request for comment on Mr de Zayas’s allegations of the effects of the sanctions programme.

US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: “The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

Mr De Zayas’s findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government minsters, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup.

Despite being the first UN official to visit and report from Venezuela in 21 years, Mr de Zayas said his research into the causes of the country’s economic crisis has so far largely been ignored by the UN and the media, and caused little debate within the Human Rights Council.

He believes his report has been ignored because it goes against the popular narrative that Venezuela needs regime change.

The then UN high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein1, reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit, and the Venezuela desk of the UN Human Rights Council also declined to help with his work after his return despite being obliged to do so, Mr de Zayas claimed.

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America and Caribbean programme director for Crisis Group, an international NGO, told The Independent that Venezuela is a polarising subject. … Briscoe is critical of Mr de Zayas’s report because it highlights US economic warfare but in his view neglects to mention the impact of a difficult business environment in the country. … Briscoe acknowledged rising tensions and the likely presence of US personnel operating covertly in the country.

Eugenia Russian, president of FUNDALATIN, one of the oldest human rights NGOs in Venezuela, founded in 1978 before the Chavez and Maduro governments and with special consultative status at the UN, spoke to The Independent on the significance of the sanctions.

“In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States,” Ms Russian said.

She said there may also be causes from internal errors, but said probably few countries in the world have suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under.

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being “weaponised” to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more “palatable”….

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they’re not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations.

US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalise the industry in 1973.

Other than readers of that single newspaper, where has the public been able to find these facts? If the public can have these facts hidden from them, then how much trust should the public reasonably have in the government, and in the news-media?

• Here is the garbage that a reader comes to, who is trying to find online Mr. de Zayas’s report on this matter:  As intended, the document remains effectively hidden to the present day. Perhaps the U.N. needs to be replaced and located in Venezuela, Iran, or some other country that’s targeted for take-over by the people who effectively own the United States Government and control the U.N.’s bureaucracy. The hiding of this document was done not only by the press but by the U.N. itself.

• On January 23rd, Germany’s Die Zeit headlined “Christoph Flügge: ‘I am deeply disturbed’: The U.N. International Criminal Court Judge Christoph Flügge Accuses Western Nations of Threatening the Independence of the Judges“. Flügge especially cited U.S. President Trump’s agent, John Bolton. That same day, the Democratic Party and Labour Party organ, Britain’s Guardian, bannered “International criminal court: UN court judge quits The Hague citing political interference“. This news-report said that, “A senior judge has resigned from one of the UN’s international courts in The Hague citing ‘shocking’ political interference from the White House and Turkey.” The judge especially criticised Bolton: “The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan. The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat.” Flügge said that the judges on the court had been “stunned” that “the US would roll out such heavy artillery”. Flügge told the Guardian: “It is consistent with the new American line: ‘We are No 1 and we stand above the law’.”

• On February 6th, a former UK Ambassador to Syria vented at an alt-news site, 21st Century Wire (since he couldn’t get any of the major-media sites to publish it), “A Guide to Decoding the Doublespeak on Syria“, and he brazenly exposed there the Doublespeak-Newspeak that the U.S. Government and press (what he called America’s “frothing neocons and their liberal interventionist fellow travellers”) apply in order to report the ‘news’ about Syria. So: how can the public, in a country such as the U.S., democratically control the Government, if the government and its press are lying to them, like that, all the time, and so routinely?

Venezuela: Let’s Cut to the Chase

Venezuela: Let’s Cut to the Chase

PEPE ESCOBAR | 01.02.2019 | FEATURED STORY

Venezuela: Let’s Cut to the Chase

Cold War 2.0 has hit South America with a bang – pitting the US and expected minions against the four key pillars of in-progress Eurasia integration: Russia, China, Iran and Turkey.

It’s the oil, stupid. But there’s way more than meets the (oily) eye.

Caracas has committed the ultimate cardinal sin in the eyes of Exceptionalistan; oil trading bypassing the US dollar or US-controlled exchanges.

Remember Iraq. Remember Libya. Yet Iran is also doing it. Turkey is doing it. Russia is – partially – on the way. And China will eventually trade all its energy in petroyuan.

With Venezuela adopting the petro crypto-currency and the sovereign bolivar, already last year the Trump administration had sanctioned Caracas off the international financial system.

No wonder Caracas is supported by China, Russia and Iran. They are the real hardcore troika – not psycho-killer John Bolton’s cartoonish “troika of tyranny” – fighting against the Trump administration’s energy dominance strategy, which consists essentially in aiming at the total lock down of oil trading in petrodollars, forever.

Venezuela is a key cog in the machine. Psycho killer Bolton admitted it on the record; “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” It’s not a matter of just letting ExxonMobil take over Venezuela’s massive oil reserves – the largest on the planet. The key is to monopolize their exploitation in US dollars, benefitting a few Big Oil billionaires.

Once again, the curse of natural resources is in play. Venezuela must not be allowed to profit from its wealth on its own terms; thus, Exceptionalistan has ruled that the Venezuelan state must be shattered.

In the end, this is all about economic war. Cue to the US Treasury Department imposing new sanctions on PDVSA that amount to a de facto oil embargo against Venezuela.

Economic war redux

By now it’s firmly established what happened in Caracas was not a color revolution but an old-school US-promoted regime change coup using local comprador elites, installing as “interim president” an unknown quantity, Juan Guaido, with his Obama choirboy looks masking extreme right-wing credentials.

Everyone remembers “Assad must go”. The first stage in the Syrian color revolution was the instigation of civil war, followed by a war by proxy via multinational jihadi mercenaries. As Thierry Meyssan has noted, the role of the Arab League then is performed by the OAS now. And the role of Friends of Syria – now lying in the dustbin of history – is now performed by the Lima group, the club of Washington’s vassals. Instead of al-Nusra “moderate rebels”, we may have Colombian – or assorted Emirati-trained – “moderate rebel” mercenaries.

Contrary to Western corporate media fake news, the latest elections in Venezuela were absolutely legitimate. There was no way to tamper with the made in Taiwan electronic voting machines. The ruling Socialist Party got 70 percent of the votes; the opposition, with many parties boycotting it, got 30 percent. A serious delegation of the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA) was adamant; the election reflected “peacefully and without problems, the will of Venezuelan citizens”.

The American embargo may be vicious. In parallel, Maduro’s government may have been supremely incompetent in not diversifying the economy and investing in food self-sufficiency. Major food importers, speculating like there’s no tomorrow, are making a killing. Still, reliable sources in Caracas tell that the barrios – the popular neighborhoods – remain largely peaceful.

In a country where a full tank of gas still costs less than a can of Coke, there’s no question the chronic shortages of food and medicines in local clinics have forced at least two million people to leave Venezuela. But the key enforcing factor is the US embargo.

The UN rapporteur to Venezuela, expert on international law, and former secretary of the UN Human Rights Council, Alfred de Zayas, goes straight to the point; much more than engaging in the proverbial demonization of Maduro, Washington is waging “economic war” against a whole nation.

It’s enlightening to see how the “Venezuelan people” see the charade. In a poll conducted by Hinterlaces even before the Trump administration coup/regime change wet dream, 86% of Venezuelans said they were against any sort of US intervention, military or not,

And 81% of Venezuelans said they were against US sanctions. So much for “benign” foreign interference on behalf of “democracy” and “human rights”.

The Russia-China factor

Analyses by informed observers such as Eva Golinger and most of all, the Mision Verdad collective are extremely helpful. What’s certain, in true Empire of Chaos mode, is that the American playbook, beyond the embargo and sabotage, is to foment civil war.

Dodgy “armed groups” have been active in the Caracas barrios, acting in the dead of night and amplifying “social unrest” on social media. Still, Guaido holds absolutely no power inside the country. His only chance of success is if he manages to install a parallel government – cashing in on the oil revenue and having Washington arrest government members on trumped-up charges.

Irrespective of neocon wet dreams, adults at the Pentagon should know that an invasion of Venezuela may indeed metastasize into a tropical Vietnam quagmire. The Brazilian strongman in waiting, vice-president and retired general Hamilton Mourao, already said there will be no military intervention.

Psycho killer Bolton’s by now infamous notepad stunt about “5,000 troops to Colombia”, is a joke; these would have no chance against the arguably 15,000 Cubans who are in charge of security for the Maduro government; Cubans have demonstrated historically they are not in the business of handing over power.

It all comes back to what China and Russia may do. China is Venezuela’s largest creditor. Maduro was received by Xi Jinping last year in Beijing, getting an extra $5 billion in loans and signing at least 20 bilateral agreements.

President Putin offered his full support to Maduro over the phone, diplomatically stressing that “destructive interference from abroad blatantly violates basic norms of international law.”

By January 2016, oil was as low as $35 a barrel; a disaster to Venezuela’s coffers. Maduro then decided to transfer 49.9% of the state ownership in PDVSA’s US subsidiary, Citgo, to Russian Rosneft for a mere $1.5 billion loan. This had to send a wave of red lights across the Beltway; those “evil” Russians were now part owners of Venezuela’s prime asset.

Late last year, still in need of more funds, Maduro opened gold mining in Venezuela to Russian mining companies. And there’s more; nickel, diamonds, iron ore, aluminum, bauxite, all coveted by Russia, China – and the US. As for $1.3 billion of Venezuela’s own gold, forget about repatriating it from the Bank of England.

And then, last December, came the straw that broke the Deep State’s back; the friendship flight of two Russian nuclear-capable Tu-160 bombers. How dare they? In our own backyard?

The Trump administration’s energy masterplan may be indeed to annex Venezuela to a parallel “North American-South American Petroleum Exporting Countries” (NASAPEC) cartel, capable of rivaling the OPEC+ love story between Russia and the House of Saud.

But even if that came to fruition, and adding a possible, joint US-Qatar LNG alliance, there’s no guarantee that would be enough to assure petrodollar – and petrogas – preeminence in the long run.

Eurasia energy integration will mostly bypass the petrodollar; this is at the very heart of both the BRICS and SCO strategy. From Nord Stream 2 to Turk Stream, Russia is locking down a long-term energy partnership with Europe. And petroyuan dominance is just a matter of time. Moscow knows it. Tehran knows it. Ankara knows it. Riyadh knows it.

So what about plan B, neocons? Ready for your tropical Vietnam?

محاولة أميركية لاستفراد روسيا وتطويع أوروبا ومهادنة الصين

 

ديسمبر 7, 2018

د. وفيق إبراهيم

الدولة الأميركية العميقة لا تزال تعمل بإتقان على الرغم من هلوسات الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب الذي يعبّر عن حاجات بلاده بأسلوب رجال البورصة الذين لا يلمُّون بالأساليب الدبلوماسية ولا تثير اهتمامهم.

هذه الدولة تعرف من هم منافسو إمبراطوريتها وأين توجد مكامن الخلل فتعمل على معالجتها بالاساليب الترمبية.

يبدو أنها اكتشفت حاجة الامبراطورية الى آليات جديدة لمنافسة وتطويع القوى الأخرى، الامر الذي يتطلب وقتاً وهدنة مع منافسيها فقسمتهم الى ثلاث فئات:

أخطار استراتيجية عالمية تتجسّد في روسيا التي تعاود اجتياح الشرق الأوسط بالتدريج انطلاقاً من الميدان السوري وأهميتها كامنة في قوة عسكرية ضاربة لديها الأنواع التقليدية والنووية وأسلحة الفضاء بشكل يوازي معادلات القوة الأميركية ويزيدها في بعض الأحيان، ولديها أفقٌ مفتوح على أميركا الجنوبية وآسيا وبخلفية تحالف عميق مع الصين. للملاحظة فإن مساحة روسيا تزيد مرتين عن المساحة الأميركية وثلاث مرات ونصف المرة عن الصين. ويختزن باطنها اقل بقليل من نصف ثروات الأرض، لكنها لم تبدأ باستغلالها لخلل في العلاقات بين التقدم الصناعي البطيء ومخزون الثروات وذلك منذ الاتحاد السوفياتي.

لجهة أوروبا وخصوصاً ألمانيا وفرنسا فبلدانها سقطت في السلة الأميركية سياسياً واقتصادياً وعسكرياً منذ انتصار الولايات المتحدة في الحرب العالمية الثانية في 1945. هذا لا يعني أنها أصبحت كالدول العربية، فلا تزال دولاً صناعية وعلمية وقوية عسكرياً ولديها مداها العالمي خلف أميركا والصين واليابان، ألمانيا مثلاً استطاعت في العقد الأخير التسلق الى المرتبة العالمية الثالثة اقتصادياً ولولا الاتفاق العسكري الذي قبلت بموجبه أن لا تتسلح منذ خسارتها الحرب العالمية الثانية في 1945 لصنعت أسلحة قد تتفوّق بها على روسيا وأميركا معاً. تكفي الاشارة الى أن هناك قواعد عسكرية أميركية ترابط فيها منذ هزيمتها في الحرب العالمية الثانية 1945.

وبذلك تمكن الأميركيون من استتباع أوروبا لنفوذهم بشكل كامل مؤسسين معها بنى عسكرية وسياسية مشتركة الحلف الاطلسي- على قاعدة العداء للاتحاد السوفياتي ولاحقاً لوريثته أوروبا الشرقية المتاخمة لموسكو.

لكن أوروبا اليوم تصطدم بمعوقات ترامبية أميركية تمنعها من الحصول على مواقع متقدمة، لكنها تعتبر أن من حقها وراثة الفراغات الناتجة عن التراجع الأميركي. لكن الصراخ الترامبي المتقاطع مع حركات تأديب تواصل ضبط أوروبا في الأسر الأميركي ولا تمنع حصول تلاسن بين ترامب ورئيس فرنسا ومستشارة المانيا بشكل حاد.

إن ترامب يعتبر أن على أوروبا دعم بلاده في وجه روسيا والصين من دون أي تأفف او تذمر لانه يحميها حسب مزاعمه، مضخماً ظاهرة الخوف من روسيا «البلد المرعب» متماثلاً بذلك مع اسلافه الذين كانوا يثيرون خوف القارة العجوز من الاتحاد السوفياتي ذي القدرات التسليحية الضخمة والعقيدة الشيوعية المناهضة لمفهوم «العالم الحر الغربي» وكانوا يثيرون ايضاً رعب العرب في الخليج والشرق الاوسط من «الإلحاد والكفر» من الشيوعية الروسية.

هناك اذاً صراع أميركي روسي مكشوف ومتصاعد الى جانب محاولات أميركية لتطويع أوروبا.

ماذا عن الصين: تمكنت بكين من اختراق الاسواق العالمية بسلع رخيصة منافسة واستفادت من إقرار نظام العولمة لاقتحام الاسواق الأميركية بطرح سلع أقبل عليها المستهلك الأميركي الشمالي والجنوبي من أبناء الطبقتين الوسطى والفقيرة فيما عجزت السلع الأميركية من اختراق أسواق الصين بسبب عجز طبقاتها عن التماهي مع أسعارها العالية قياساً لمرتباتهم الضعيفة.

إن راتب العامل الأميركي ذي الحد الأدنى للأجور يعادل عشرة اضعاف العامل الصيني وربما أكثر.

فحدث خلل هائل في العلاقات الصينية الأميركية لمصلحة بكين وهذا ما أزعج ترامب وامبراطوريته؟

اعتبر أن روسيا قوة عسكرية وليست اقتصادية، وهذا لن يؤدي مهما ساءت العلاقات معها الى اندلاع حروب بينهما لأنها مخيفة وقد تفجر الكرة الأرضية نفسها. لذلك رأت امبراطورية ترامب ضرورة إرباك روسيا في أوروبا الشرقية وشرقي سورية وإعادتها الى «حرب تسلح جديدة» قد تؤدي الى اجهاض مشاريعها التوسعية أي تماماً كما حدث للسلف السوفياتي الذي انخرط في حرب تسلّح في مرحلة الرئيس الأميركي السابق ريغان ادت الى سقوطه اقتصادياً وبالتالي سياسياً.

للإشارة فإن الاتحاد السوفياتي كان بمفرده يجابه الأميركيين والأوروبيين وأحلافهم في اليابان والخليج وأميركا الجنوبية. هذه القوى التي نظمها الأميركيون للاستفادة منها آنذاك في حروب الفضاء والتسلح.

هذا ما دفع البيت الابيض الى اتهام روسيا بالعودة الى إنتاج صواريخ نووية متوسطة المدى وقصيرة واختراق المعاهدة الموقعة بين البلدين بهذا الصدد منذ 1987.

إن المتضرر الاكبر من تدمير هذه المعاهدة هم الأوروبيون الذين هاجموا الأميركيين المصرّين على الانسحاب من المعاهدة، لأنهم يعرفون انهم الأكثر تضرراً من إلغائها، لأنهم اقرب الى الاراضي الروسية لكن واشنطن لا تأبه لصراخهم وكانت تريد من حركتها تفجير إشكالات روسية أوروبية تعاود فرض الطاعة على أوروبا لإمبراطوريتها الاقتصادية السياسية بأسلوب التخويف من روسيا.

ضمن هذا الإطار يلجأ الأميركيون الى كل الوسائل المتاحة لهم لضبط الطموح الأوروبي فيستعملون الموالاة فيها محرّضين في الوقت نفسه المعارضات مثيرين ذعرها من روسيا حيناً والصين حيناً آخر.

والهدف واضح وهو الإبقاء عليها في الحضن الأميركي.

ماذا عن الصين؟ لا تشكل خطراً عسكرياً بالنسبة إليهم، لكنها تجسد رعباً اقتصادياً. يقول المتخصّصون ان بكين قد تتجاوز الناتج الأميركي بعد أقل من عقد فقط وأهميتها انها لا تخلط سلعها بطموحات سياسية. لذلك تبدو الصين سلعة اقتصادية يختبئ خلفها صاحبها الذي يرسم ابتسامة دائمة لا تفارق مُحياه. وهذا ما يسمح للسلعة الصينية باختراق أفريقيا وآسيا والشرق الاوسط والاسواق الأميركية والأوروبية لأنها تُدغدغ إمكانات ذوي الدخل المتوسط والمنخفض.

هذا ما دفع امبراطورية ترامب الى البحث عن طرق جديدة لمهادنة الصين فوجدها في إطلاق تهديدات وحصار وعقوبات فمفاوضات على طريقة السماسرة وطلب منها بوضوح مسألتين عاجلة وآجلة: الأولى تتعلق بخفض الضرائب على البضائع الأميركية لتصحيح الميزان التجاري بين البلدين الخاسر أميركياً فوافقت بكين، لكنها لا تزال تتردّد في تلبية الطلبات الأميركية الحقيقية وهي ضرورة بناء الصين لمعامل السلع التي تبيعها في الأسواق الأميركية داخل أراضي الولايات المتحدة وذلك لتأمين وظائف لملايين الأميركيين العاطلين عن العمل فيها.

يبدو هذا العرض مغرياً لكن التدقيق فيه يكشف انه مجرد فخ… فبناء معامل صينية في أميركا يعني استعمال أدوات وعمال أميركيين تزيد من اسعارهم عن الأسعار الصينية الرخيصة بعشرات المرات، كما ان توظيف عمالة أميركية فيها يعني التسبب برفع اسعار السلع الصينية حتى توازي اسعار السلع الأميركية وربما أكثر فتسقط قيمتها التنافسية.

وهذا يعني أن الهدنة الصينية الأميركية هي خداع متبادل بين طرفين يعتمدان على شراء الوقت لاستيلاد ظروف أفضل لبناء علاقات متوازنة.

فهل تنجح سياسات إنقاذ الامبراطورية الأميركية؟

يبدو أن العالم يتجه بسرعة نحو عالم متعدد الاقطاب لن تتمكن «هلوسات» ترامب من إجهاضه لان الصين مستمرة في الهيمنة الاقتصادية على العالم، وروسيا تواصل توسيع دورها العالمي، أما أوروبا فإن عصر تحررها من الكابوس الأميركي لم يعد بعيداً فهل رأى أحدكم عربياً في هذه المعادلات؟

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Russian Economic Resilience

November 24, 2018

by Gary Littlejohn for The Saker Blog

Introduction

Western political commentaries about the condition of the Russian economy are becoming increasingly illusory, as additional economic sanctions are imposed for a series of increasingly implausible reasons, the most recent ones including those being for alleged Russian complicity in chemical weapons attacks in Syria, those supposedly for the alleged attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and some more regarding Crimea. It might seem self-evident that such measures are pretty futile, given the obvious effect that earlier sanctions have had in galvanising the Russian government into action to mitigate the effects of almost any conceivable future sanctions, but that very failure might be precisely the motive for the West’s renewed sanctions. Existing sanctions have been of limited effectiveness, and Russia is now self-evidently capable of defending itself against virtually any conventional military attack. Even the US recognizes that it would face considerable difficulty in a war against Russia.

For that reason, other sanctions apparently need to be employed to probe the economy for possible other weaknesses, or at least to slow down the development of serious Russian competition in new sectors, such as civil aviation. An additional motive is probably to weaken Russia militarily prior to starting a conflict, despite the assessments above. What Professor Stephen Cohen describes as the ‘war party’ seems to harbour an insatiable hatred for Russia, and despite the problems encountered in the recent exercises such as Trident Juncture 2018, preparations seem to be taking place for a conventional conflict with Russia.

The sanctions currently in place are summarised here:

In any case, despite the evidence coming from international financial institutions and credit rating agencies that the Russian economy is growing in 2018, there are still claims from inside and outside Russia that this will not last and that Russia should somehow change course to avoid future or incipient difficulties. The most notable recent internal claim that Russia must concede defeat from Western sanctions comes from the economist Kudrin, while a well-known French economist Picketty has published a report misleadingly indicating that Russia continues to suffer from much greater wealth inequality than other industrial countries.

I remain of the view that Russia will remain resilient in the face of sanctions, but that it may well have difficulty in reaching its goal of 5 per cent growth per annum by 2024, partly for internal reasons, and partly because the world economy is facing a major near-term crisis that would have a serious impact on Russia, through no fault of its own. As an indication of the causes of what I believe is the coming global financial crisis, it is worth recalling that global debt is now 60 per cent higher than it was at the time of the last financial crisis of 2008, and that no major reforms of the Western-dominated global financial institutional structure have taken place. Moreover, the same kind of banking behaviour is becoming increasingly evident, with complex financial packages known as derivatives being based once again on dubious loans that are likely to be unpaid, or at least not repaid in full. These are so-called ‘non-performing’ loans. These clouds on the economic horizon have become darker owing to President Trump’s policy of trade wars with countries that he considers to be engaging in unfair competition with the USA. In addition, while Western economists have for some years predicted the slowing down of Chinese economic growth, and have been wrong, there is now reason to believe that the Chinese economy really is slowing down, while still growing.

If this apparent slow-down continues, it will have a negative effect on the rest of the world economy, as the second link above shows already. In addition, there is increasing evidence of poor economic performance in the EU:

Since a great deal of Russian trade is with China and the Eurozone currency area, such developments beyond Russian control could have a greater impact on Russian economic performance than sanctions. In addition, the boost to the Russian economy in 2018 from high oil prices looks vulnerable or at least unlikely to continue at the present level:

It is true that the oil price has recovered a little in the hours following the above report, but the need to cut production shows that continuing high oil prices cannot be taken for granted, and Russia has not yet decided to cut its own oil production. This has resulted in a further decline in the oil price.

Yet there is no denying that in 2018 the Russian economy has continued to grow, and this is now widely recognised by various Western credit rating agencies and international financial institutions.

The Emerging Consensus on Russian Economic Performance

The IMF has unequivocally reported that the Russian economy has grown in 2018, although it claims that some institutional factors will impede future growth. Its growth estimate for 2018 is 1.7 per cent and for 2019 it is 1.8 per cent. This implies that Russia will have difficulty in reaching its aim of 5 per cent growth per annum by 2024, as laid down in President Putin’s Address to the Nation on March 1st 2018. Nevertheless, the idea that Western sanctions are crushing the Russian economy, as some US Senators have implied, seems fanciful. This is the case even if one does not criticise the IMF for ignoring the possible changes that have already taken place in various sectors, such as agriculture, finance, civil aviation, car manufacture and big data. And indeed the official Russian figure on growth for the second quarter [Q2] of 2018 indicates that the economy is 1.8 per cent larger than it was in Q2 for 2017, so we may end up with an overall growth figure for 2018 that is slightly higher than the IMF estimate.

The main credit agencies have also publicly signed up to the narrative of continuing growth. For example, Moodys has also forecast growth along lines similar to those of the IMF. My own view is that such forecasts are unduly pessimistic, but only if one assumes that the world economy remains stable over the next few years. Thus it has been argued that the Russian financial sector has been somewhat underdeveloped, and yet the official figures from the Russian government statistical agency Rosstat show that in 2018 finance has been the fastest growing sector. In sharp contrast to the UK, where the financialisation of the economy has grown like a monster and now greatly influences economic priorities at the expense of productive investment and sound long-term growth, in Russia the finance sector until recently has been lacking in capacity to cope properly with the needs of the economic restructuring that has been taking place. One of the main reasons for this recent positive change has been the closure of around 100 banks with too high a proportion of non-performing loans, which has probably reduced the room for corruption and for capital flight, instead facilitating the focus of capital on the more productive sectors of the economy.

Nevertheless, sanctions did initially produce a recession in 2014, and it took two years to recover from that and restart growth. The loss of income over those two years has been estimated at about 6 per cent of GDP compared to the result of a steady growth rate during those two years.

It seems pretty clear that the outflow of capital from Russia which has been going on for over 25 years has been facilitated by the City of London, which has enabled the creation of anonymous companies (the names of whose directors are not publicly disclosed) that can readily be used to move funds to offshore tax havens. For example the recently discovered scandal whereby a branch of Danske Bank located in Estonia evaded oversight and acted as a conduit for the outflow of about $180 billion from CIS countries over a ten-year period has brought to light the fact that London-based anonymous companies were the main vehicle for hiding this outflow of funds. Closing such gaps by greater supervision of the activities of Russian banks should help stop this drain on the Russian economy. Yet there is still ongoing outflow of capital from Russia, which remains a potential cause for concern, and the Russian Central Bank expects sanctions to continue until at least 2021.

Unfortunately, the reduction in the outflow of funds from 2014 to 2017 has not yet led to a reverse flow of funds back into Russia to any great extent, because the Russian policy of “de-offshoreization” has had a limited impact so far, according to a recent report by Bloomberg. In addition, Russian millionaires continue to keep about 70 per cent of their assets abroad.

The ongoing (if now more limited) damage from sanctions would be more readily recuperated if so much capital was not still leaving Russia.

Yet it is important to stress that not all capital leaving Russia constitutes capital flight. As the link above says:

“According to the Central Bank, there are two main factors that make the outflow of capital grow. First off, Russian banks pay their foreign debts. Secondly, other sectors of economy invest in foreign assets. Earlier, the Central Bank reported the net outflow of $31.9 billion in January-September of 2018. Thus, as much as $10.3 billion were withdrawn from Russia in October.

It is worthy of note that Russia managed to improve its trade balance: its surplus amounted to $154.6 billion vs. $90.5 billion a year earlier. In addition, foreign exchange reserves (gold reserves) of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation have grown by $35.7 billion. The National Welfare Fund played a significant role in the trend: the reserves of the fund were growing owing to oil and gas super-profits (with the price of oil over $40 per barrel). According to the Central Bank, the outflow of capital from Russia for 2018 may reach $66 billion. This will be the largest indicator since 2014 ($152 billion), when the West imposed its first sanctions on Russia.”

In contrast to the outflow of capital, which as the Central Bank indicates can be beneficial, Russia has become more successful at attracting foreign direct investment [FDI] especially in the energy sector, despite sanctions. The most notable example of this is the flagship Yamal Liquefied Natural Gas [LNG] project in the Arctic. This was built with Russian, Chinese and French funding. In recent days, Saudi Arabia has expressed an interest in the follow-up project at Yamal, known as Arctic 2, as it tries to diversify its economy ahead of the decline in its own oil resources.

Arctic 2 will be even larger than the original project. One unexpected result of Yamal has been that Russian LNG has even occasionally found American customers.

In addition, Russia is using the present demand for oil to try to pressure some customers to use Euros rather than US dollars to buy their oil.

And whatever the fluctuations in the price of oil and gas, Russia is still using pipelines to secure greater stability in energy sales. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has now reached the German shore and the Pride of Siberia pipeline in the Far East is also close to completion, but less publicity has been given to the fact that the Turk Stream pipeline has also now reached Turkish landfall.

Overall, the strong performance in the energy sector in generating available investment funds for other sectors, and the strengthening of the financial sector coupled with a growth of FDI should enable Russia to invest more effectively in future.

Other indicators of Russian economic performance

One Western economic appraisal recording some aspects of Russian economic performance is that of the World Economic Forum [WEF]. This indicates that Russia has improved on its competiveness index ranking, going up two places to 43rd out of 140 countries that are listed.

“…Russia’s standing was buoyed in the WEF rating this year by stable macroeconomics, a large market size, information and communications technology adoption and human capital…”

The factors that were thought to count against it were:

“Meanwhile, low transparency, innovation, limited interaction and diversity were listed as factors that hurt the Russian economy, along with weak institutions, workforce skills, lower social capital and a vulnerable financial system.”

These latter claims suggest that, to some extent at least, old prejudices are still in play. Contrary to these claims, Russia has a very low debt-to-GDP ratio, two sovereign wealth funds that have benefitted this year from the high price of oil, and a restructured and growing financial sector. Workforce skills are probably increasing with the inward migration of ethnic Russians from Ukraine, and it is clear that the reform of local government is ongoing. The IMF ‘ease of doing business’ index shows that transparency is increasing, contrary to the impression given by the WEF. Furthermore, both innovation and the diversification of the economy are clearly growing in agriculture, civil aviation, civilian space activity, car manufacture, and possibly in the future in the use of big data, as indicated in Putin’s speech of 1st March. The effects of measures to deal with many of these issues can be found on the Rosstat website:

Concentrating on innovation, and taking agriculture first, the Q2 figures self-evidently do not include the very recent results of the Russian harvest this year. This has once again (for the third year) exceeded earlier estimates, and the diversification within agriculture is clear, as well as the adoption of modern machinery where possible.

This video is less than 5 minutes long. The figures shown from 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds are worth noting. They show how much four agricultural sectors produced in relation to total Russian demand for these products. Even in meat production, Russia has produced 93 per cent of its own needs. For grain, it produced 170 per cent of its own needs. In sugar, the estimate was that 80 per cent of needs would be produced within Russia, whereas the actual output was 105 per cent, and in vegetable oil, the expected 80 per cent of demand being met internally turned out to be 153 per cent. The result is that Russia supplied more than half of the world’s wheat exports this year.

Russia is rapidly turning into an exporter in areas other than grain, and this growing export potential (with its geopolitical implications) has meant that a series of foreign ministers, as well as the World Health Organization, attended this exhibition. This rapidly changing agricultural performance is bound to increase overall economic growth in the coming years. One surprising new export crop is soya:

This might only be 3.9 million tonnes in a Chinese soya market of 95 million tonnes, but it will doubtless grow in future.

Note that the YouTube video above includes a statement that a possible reduction in VAT from 20 per cent to 10 per cent is envisaged for next year, which would reduce any upward pressure on prices, and there may be more funding for the existing policy of promoting certain agricultural regions. This raises the issue of how the performance of such special regions will be evaluated. For example, will the Ministry of Economic Development be involved and will there be specific measures such as the use of social accounting matrices to ‘capture’ the specific economic development in such regions? The ongoing growth in food production not only tends to reduce inflation and help the balance of payments, but also stimulates demand for agricultural machinery and relevant services. The planned increase in rural road construction should also foster growth in this sector.

Turning to another sector, the new American sanctions being imposed on Russian civil aviation are rightly seen as simply an attempt to contain Russian competition in this area, but as Ruslan Ostashko has argued, it will be technically easy to develop Russian alternatives to U.S. civil aviation electronics, given the capabilities shown in military avionics. Although the performance in flight tests of the MC-21 (a future competitor to the Boeing 737Max) is probably the precipitating cause of such sanctions, these sanctions cannot affect the use of composite materials in this civil aircraft, because no other plane has such technology and the components and materials were developed exclusively in Russia. So there is no way to prevent such a development programme by using sanctions. Similarly, on the wide body passenger jet being developed the new engines can readily be developed in Russia without relying on foreign expertise.

In car and bus production, the new Kamaz autonomous [driverless] bus was on display at the recent motor show in Moscow. No Western manufacturer has yet brought a similar vehicle to market. Doubtless the lessons learned in developing the Aurum luxury range of automobiles will soon cascade on to other car production.

With regard to big data, the use of distributed ledger recording of transactions is already well advanced in Russia, and not only in the area of cryptocurrencies. Apart from the fact that three of the largest five such companies are located in Russia, Russia has other potentially helpful ‘factor endowments’ in the area of big data. Firstly, there is the expertise in electronics that permitted Russia to develop its own microchip extremely rapidly. Doubtless the performance in this area will continue to improve. Secondly, there is the expertise in all aspects of computing which was evident to me 25 years ago when I visited the Computer Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences [RAS], and the formerly secret nuclear city of Obninsk. For example, at the RAS I was shown a fully functional graphical user interface as good as MS Windows, but capable of running on an Intel 286 chip, whereas MS Windows (which had only just appeared in the West) required a 386 chip as a minimum. At the time, Russia lacked the financial capacity to market such a graphical user interface. In addition, a private company engaged in trade with China was using the programming language APL to construct its own database, without needing a proprietary commercial package. This would have enabled it to exceed the capacity limits of Western commercial database programmes available in those days, and the same would have been true of spreadsheets. In Obninsk, APL was also being used in nuclear safety, neural networking and statistical analysis quite separately from the macroeconomic modelling that was being done at the RAS. Thirdly, Russia could easily locate data warehouses near natural gas sources, thereby avoiding the transmission costs of the energy to run them, and (given the average cold temperatures in Russia) would incur lower costs in cooling such buildings. Electrical resistance of semiconductors generates heat, and this makes cooling of server buildings an issue for big data in some countries. Cryptocurrencies and other distributed ledger applications are pretty energy-intensive.

No need to surrender

In the light of such economic potential, it should be surprising that the well-known economist Kudrin is suggesting that Russia needs to make concessions to the West to ease the impact of sanctions.

Alexei Kudrin is Head of the Accounts Chamber and a former finance minister, so prima facie one would expect him to talk sense. Yet he considers that sanctions are the main threat to the President’s goals, as expressed in the Address to the Nation of 1st March. It should by now be clear that it would take far greater changes in the world economy, such as another financial crash, to throw the objectives for 2024 into serious jeopardy. There are positive elements in the balance of payments (oil, agriculture and arms, with civil aviation likely to be a growing sector) that will enable the Russian government to fund most of the objectives now set for 2014, in my view. The sovereign funds are increasing at the moment, and while this form of saving is a precautionary counter-measure to probable further sanctions, the fact that Russia is pretty much self-sufficient in raw materials, and has a growing skills base (with ethnic Russians coming from both Ukraine and Kazakhstan) should mean that additional sanctions will have a limited effect. There is also the likely prospect of military innovations cascading into the civilian economy, as used to happen in the USA, and this is particularly relevant for civil aviation and big data.

There is the additional problem that the West is stagnating economically and technologically, and has evident difficulty in developing new technologies, including in space. Where the West (and Far East) has had a technological lead with smart phones, the global market is showing clear signs of saturation. The same is true of social media, where stocks are declining quite steeply at the moment, and where Russia or China have rival products already in place. It is likely that the West has little to offer Russia if sanctions are lifted, given the changes that have already taken place in Russia. Sanctions are mainly about financial power and that is already ebbing away in the West. Russia on the other hand will continue to strengthen gradually owing to the growing strength and sophistication of Russian financial institutions, the policies of currency swaps to facilitate non-dollar trade, alternatives to SWIFT developed in both Russia and China, and perhaps in future more “de-offshoreization”.

The ‘failure of nerve’ shown by Kudrin indicates the pernicious effect of Western neoliberal ideology, and raises once again the issue of its influence on aspects of Russian economic policy-making. This can be seen in the case of the pension reform earlier this year, for which Kudrin had lobbied over a period of some years. Having looked again at the research report that was published in Russia just before the law was changed on the age at which people become eligible for a state pension, I am even more convinced that it was premature to introduce this legislation. The report looked at the interaction between demographic and economic changes in present-day Russia covering five aspects, and argued that to raise the age of pension eligibility would adversely affect the economy, and slow down economic growth. While this would not be the case in many industrial societies most of which have a very different demographic profile, Russia is unusual and it would have been preferable to delay the introduction of such a measure, in order to avoid the negative impact just at a time when economic growth was picking up.

There was an analogous case with South Africa at the end of Apartheid in 1994, where the political settlement that was reached included enormous pension payments to South African civil servants. An econometric and demographic analysis there showed that it would have been possible to have a ‘pension holiday’ for a few years in order to devote those funds to kick-starting the economy – a high priority at the time. It was shown that this would not really have adversely affected those pension payments, but strong vested interests prevented this temporary diversion of pension payments from taking place.

The Saker has commented on Putin’s adroit response to the political backlash that took place in mid-2018 when the new pension law was introduced during the football World Cup. The subsequent changes to the legislation may have mitigated some of the adverse effects, but the outcome will not be as good as if the legislation had been postponed for a few years to facilitate the desired acceleration of the economic growth rate.

Why Russian growth may not be constrained by the factors highlighted by the Washington Consensus.

Russia is simply running a mixed economy, with most of it privately owned and parts of it in public ownership. This was considered perfectly normal in Western Europe from 1945 until the late 1970s, and even now forms quite a large segment of economic activity in countries such as France. The advantages of such public sector activity include reaping the benefits of ‘natural monopolies’ such as railways or utilities where competition is likely to be restricted under normal market conditions. These benefits then potentially include additional state revenues, long-term time horizons for investment planning and at times greater democratic control. In the UK the fact that foreign state-owned companies now own companies that were originally privatised is an indicator of how the ‘logic’ of natural monopolies can sometimes prevail even in competitive market conditions. It is much easier to develop a realistic long-term national economic strategy if those natural monopolies are under government control.

In general, more equal societies grow more quickly, contrary to the mythology of the neoliberal Washington Consensus. It is increasingly clear that the increased inequality of income and wealth generated by the neoliberal policies of that last 38 years has acted as a drag on growth and has contributed to the economic instability that resulted in the financial crash of 2008. Russia is widely considered to be a very unequal society, but this view ignores the impact of measures to reduce such inequalities of income and wealth, especially poverty reduction measures that have had a significant impact. This now includes minimum wage legislation that appears to have been influenced by the research of Professor James K. Galbraith at the University of Austin, Texas.

The view that wealth inequality in Russia is huge has recently been given a boost from a book by the well-known French economist Thomas Piketty. However, that book has been subject to very serious critique by the Swedish economist Jon Hellevig:

Hellevig argues that under its present leadership, Russia has been moving towards a more equal society, a trend that seems to be continuing despite the glaring inequality of income and wealth. Hellevig’s point is that these glaring inequalities are not dire in terms of international comparisons.

“After identifying the deficiencies, we have adjusted the main findings announced by the Piketty scholars to reflect the actual data. Corrected data shows that instead of earning 45-50% of national income as claimed by the our Piketty scholars, the top 10% of Russians earned less than 30% of the income. Correspondingly, our corrected data shows that instead of owning more than 70% of the national wealth, the wealth of the top 10 percent of the population was 39% of private wealth and 32% of total national wealth.”

This refutation by Hellevig, which shows that the glaring inequalities are not dire in terms of international comparisons, indicates how Russian society has changed since the 1990s. The so-called ‘oligarchs’ have less weight in the economy and almost certainly less political power. It seems that the member of the Duma who stated that there are no oligarchs any more may well have been correctly pointing to the changed political landscape, even if that was probably an overstatement. The wealthy no longer seem to dominate the political agenda completely, in contrast to the 1990s. Insofar as they do have an impact on policy, it seems to be through the ongoing influence of neoliberal ideologists such as Kudrin and others in certain parts of the government.

Returning to the potentially strategic importance of the state in economic performance, the historical evidence indicates that since the 18th century state-sponsored growth has been vital for stimulating economic growth, especially for industrialisation. The famous five Asian tigers are clear examples of this during the last 40 years or so, but in fact all economies have relied initially on state-sponsored growth in the early phases of industrialisation. Even the UK relied on the dominance of the Royal Navy to support its dominant trade position and ensure that the colonies, especially India, supplied the economic surplus necessary to finance the industrial revolution. Historically, it is only the leading global economy (the UK, then the USA, then China) that advocates free trade, after it has achieved its dominance.

Russia fulfils both criteria for long-term growth, namely, it is not too unequal and has a state-sponsored growth strategy. It also has the most fundamental feature for long-term growth, namely population growth, and is now the only technologically advanced society to have this positive demographic profile. That is a result both of growing optimism about the future and of more stable families. Among ethnic Russians and some minorities this is almost certainly a result of the restored influence of Christianity.

Conclusion

While Russia may well struggle against growing global economic ‘headwinds’ to achieve its aim of 5 per cent growth per annum by 2024, it quite clearly has the resilience to cope with the current sanctions in place and to help shield other economies from sanctions by using currency swaps, occasional barter agreements, the use of an alternative international payments system to SWIFT and other measures. By contrast, the EU seems unable to help shield Iran against US sanctions because it does not possess an alternative to SWIFT and SWIFT itself has already caved in to US financial threats and refused to process payments going to Iran. In addition, the EU can find no member state willing to host any financial institution designed to facilitate trade between the EU and Iran in fulfilment of the nuclear deal that the US has recently withdrawn from. Apart from Russia, only China has the financial muscle and its own alternative to SWIFT to help Iran to withstand the US sanctions.

The fact that Russia is innovating in agriculture, energy production, civilian space activity, civil aviation, automobiles and intends to do so in big data (partly for greater transparency and responsiveness in government administration) shows that its prospects for economic growth remain good.

http://thesaker.is/russian-economic-resilience/

 

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

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

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

gold bars

© Jochen Tack/Global Look Press
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The Venezuelan government is looking to repatriate around $550 million in gold bars from the Bank of England due to increasing concerns about looming US sanctions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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