Russia and the EU; The Ukraine Card

Russia and the EU; The Ukraine Card

April 08, 2021

by Ghassan and Intibah Kadi for the Saker Blog

A tug-of-war game in Europe has been a strong feature of dramatic events in the region and further afield ever since the Roman Empire plus the Church split up. Which was the cause and which was the effect is subject to debate, but the split was much deeper than one that was political; the spiritual aspect of it is not to be overlooked.

The authors are not experts on this aspect of history and will therefore not dwell too much, but it suffices to say that Catholic Easter can come before Passover, even though Jesus celebrated Passover before His Crucifixion. But this anomaly does not happen in the Julian Calendar that the Orthodox Church adheres to till today; and the Orthodox community doesn’t shy away from presenting this contradiction in the Georgian Calendar that Catholicism follows.

But this article is not about the over millennium-and-a-half-old disagreement between the Western and Eastern Churches. It is about the current rift between Russia and Western Europe.

But to what extent does much of the current rift find its roots in religion? No region in the world has in recent times experienced the repercussions of this ancient divide as much as the Balkans when the former federation of Yugoslavia split, on Catholic/Orthodox religious lines, that ironically bear a huge resemblance to the borders between those of the Roman and the Byzantine Empires. The exploitation of potential cracks in the two main spheres of Islam by the Western power-block, along with its useful non-Western allies, is not to be discounted. It is easy to apply a simplistic view of the divide of the East and West upon such criteria alone, but religious difference always plays an important role, albeit psychologically. In Europe, historical factors also include that of the influence of the Ottoman Empire, the conversion of many East Europeans to Islam, divisions within the Western Church resulting in drastic conflicts and, fast forward to the much later phenomenon of the Soviet era and the lasting implications of its legacy in neighbouring countries, then the picture becomes more complex.

No matter what is said by those countries that Russia had influence over in the post-World War II period, there is no excuse for their denial of the fact that that it was Russia, albeit under the banner of the Red Army, that liberated all of Eastern Europe, including former East Germany and all of Berlin from the Nazis. Among the allies in WWII, Russia made the biggest sacrifices, more sacrifices than all of those of the allies combined, losing tens of millions of its people, with estimates reaching up to forty million. No other nation came close to this calamitous human loss; not even Germany itself.

Yet, Russia is denied all of the accolade in winning the fight against Nazi Germany. Was it its communist USSR status that turned it into the underdog in Western written history or, was it its Orthodox heritage juxtaposed to that of a powerful-global reaching Vatican and also a ‘Christian West’, intent on subduing and dominating, all with the trappings of grabbing resources and spoils?

Clearly, Western Europe, no matter what facts on the ground exist, seems intent on expressing, in public at least, an incurable sense of apprehension, mythology and propagation of fiction when it comes to Russia. Add to this a European obedience to the dictates of America and its power-brokers in attempts to cripple Russia with sanctions, an obedience mostly gained through threats of negative consequences and blackmail if not adhered to. Not only is this broad-spectrum demonization, at least publicly, expressed by European politicians and its so-called ‘elites’, but also among most of the population of Western Europe.

One of the authors often uses popular songs of the West and their lyrics to express specific mental mindsets in certain blocks of time and space. In 1980, British musician, Sting, wrote a song titled Russians. It was meant to be a message of peace in which Sting wondered, with obvious sympathetic sarcasm, about the state of anti-Russia propaganda, and whether some people in the West regarded Russians as robotic communist mindless machines and questioned if they loved their children like all other humans. The lyrics exemplify the popular perceptions in the West of the people and nation of Russia, even to the extent that they would ask such a bizarre question about the love of children.

And, despite the changes in Russia since the dismantling of the Soviet Union which is what the West planned for, and the emergence during the Yeltsin period of ‘bandit capitalism’ – as if that doesn’t exist elsewhere- the negative perceptions persisted, and to add to that, a palpable sense of glee at the chaos and collapse occurring in Russia. Some say, Yeltsin was wracked with guilt later on and ensured a leader who could pull the country out of this disaster; Vladimir Putin, tripping up the West’s plan with many future surprises in store. To this day, the eyes of the Western public are re-directed from any ills that their own powers may be involved in and sharply turned towards this convenient ‘bogey-man’. There was no Hollywood spin to show a ‘rehabilitated’ Russia as Putin quickly turned things around after the Yeltsin period, restoring the nation and the Federation to one of healthy self-esteem, pride, strength and a resolve to regain its place in the world, gradually rendering what the West had seen as a great ‘coup’ over Russia, to a victory that backfired.

Those in the West are at a loss to accurately elaborate on the actual cause of the current escalation with Russia and, that is because the facts don’t stack up in their favour in the honesty box when it comes to manufacturing conflict. Their exploitation of any religious divide has to an extent been successful, but more so about ensuring the encircling of Russia with hostile nations or turning around some governments of traditional Orthodox allies. There is no racial based explanation to the escalation and history of it other than Russian culture being generally one of inclusiveness and diversity, something the West has failed in and in fact abused. Russia, an old culture with at least one thousand years of existence in a paradigm of interdependence with diverse cultures and ethnicities, spanning a massive section of the largest continent that reaches the Black, Caspian, Baltic, Bering Seas, those to the north and east, and all the way to the North Pacific Ocean; how can modern day Europe and the West compare to that?

For the old West, Europe, now mostly gathered into the entity known as the EU, their animosity cannot be explained by unresolved issues with the old Soviet Union. Nor can it be based on beliefs of clear and present dangers and threats posed by the existence of Russia. EU leaders are surely cognisant of the fact that it was NATO that broke the agreement between Gorbachev and the West and that NATO incrementally has been intimidating and threatening Russia’s security by positioning missiles in former Warsaw Pact nations, encircling Russia, and long before Russia made any attempts to counteract such measures. EU leaders, for various reasons, put aside reality and rationality and the known fact that peace and stability in Europe can only exist or have any potentiality if it is based on a mutual European understanding that Russia must be included. EU leaders clearly know, but never state it, that it is the USA that is coercing them to make a stand against their own regional and economic interests and to take actions against Russia; not the other way around as stipulated by their national interests as they claim.

When it comes to the crunch, it is the manipulation by America, a power that aimed and succeeded for some decades in creating itself as a unipolar, all-reaching, global power, one which called the shots on anything and everything and had under its control the vanquished nations that lost out in WWII. When Europe organized itself into a union, it became far easier for America to have almost the entire sub-continent under its boot. It could not have achieved this without the demonization of Russia and re-writing of history for the consumption of the West and all under its tutelage. Just like we have witnessed over time with the ‘Empire Wars’, the strategy of co-opting into a hybrid war format Hollywood and all media has played a crucial role in building a world-wide narrative of America as the ‘world policeman’, ‘saviour’ and ‘leader of the free-world’, when in reality it played the role of raider, pirate and predator, sharing spoils with some of its more powerful ‘allies’ who in effect were nations with little sovereignty or ability to make any crucial decisions of their own.

Last but not least, from the unpragmatic military position, EU leaders know, but under duress ignore the fact that Russia has recently developed state-of-the-art hypersonic weapons that their NATO status and alliance with the USA cannot protect them against. They know that should an escalation materialize between NATO and Russia; such weapons can be used and the outcome possibly devastating for the EU itself. EU nations and, NATO as a whole, know for a fact that a war on European soil with Russia is totally and utterly unwinnable by them. Even without deploying any of the many weapons President Putin announced to the world during his famous speech of March the 1st 2018, a conventional war between the two sides gives Russia the benefit of depth of field and number of troops. Such is the hold on these nations that they act as if in denial of the obvious. What do they stand to gain? Or, is it about harm minimization under the yoke of America? And, what does Europe in particular, expect to gain from provoking or partaking in the provoking of war over Ukraine?

Again, in the usual twisting of facts, the Western media busy themselves in the post-Trump era in portraying Russia as the culprit that is escalating the crisis in Ukraine. If Russia is left with no alternative to act, deciding it must engage militarily, it is not going to be either influenced or intimidated by Western ‘fake news’. It will act based on the facts on the ground, and whatever Russia decides to do or not do, the Western media and leading figures will portray Russia as the transgressor and aggressor, and as we have recently witnessed from Biden himself, ramp up the rhetoric such as calling the President of a world power, President Putin, ‘a killer’.

Without the benefit of a crystal ball, either the situation will escalate to a level that leaves Russia with no other alternative than taking measures similar to those it took in Chechnya and Georgia, or that Ukraine will back off. The former scenario seems more likely unless the superior style of Russian diplomacy that specializes in win-win deals can find a solution. However, the current threat regarding Ukraine surely is for Russia where the line in the sand is to be drawn. Should matters descend to the irreconcilable, even though Russia is certain to score military victory, it will most definitely be subjected to more Western sanctions than the ones it is already under. No doubt, in such an event of ever more imaginative and diabolic sanctions imposed, it will draw Russia ever closer to allies the West does not approve of and new systems which the West has monopolized, will be overridden and rendered ineffective in bringing Russia to its knees.

As for the ever creeping ‘naughty puppy’ syndrome of NATO pushing its presence in Eastern Europe one inch at a time after the breakup of the USSR, all the way from feigning reasons for missiles stationed in Eastern Europe as safeguarding the EU from Iranian missiles, to inciting and coercing former Warsaw Pact nation members to join NATO, deploying more troops in the EU, blatant support for the Ukrainian Nazis, Russia has reciprocated in measured ways. Yes, it did retake Crimea from Ukraine, but this was done within a referendum-based democratic process. Russia may have to bite the dangerous bullet and offer the persecuted regions of Ukraine the same option. Afterall, Russia’s stand in Syria in 2015 at the request of the Syrian government, has clearly signaled that the unipolar 1990’s style ‘New World Order’ is over and that there cannot be any turning back.

Russia’s patience, perseverance and confidence in superior, win-win diplomacy in time will be widely regarded with respect by the rest of the world, even quietly by the EU leaders. It is the EU leaders who will not come to the party because they are hostage to many traps and hence, it is extremely unlikely, if not impossible, given the bind they find themselves in, that they will respond to reason, diplomacy or act in their best interests. Unlike the decades America in particular has had to install or hijack institutions and conjure up scams to place ‘rules’ on the world, Russia is not yet in a strong enough financial position to implement some of its own ‘rules’ to protect her interests. No nations should be able to do this in a manner that adversely affects other nations, whether through ‘rules’, sanctions, scams or monopoly and other tools that kill without a bullet being fired or bombed dropped. These and other strategies and tactics have come predominately from a nation in a general decline; one that boasts a huge fleet of ten aircraft carriers, countless world-wide bases and almost a trillion-dollar annual war budget; the American war machine nonetheless is a technological dinosaur in comparison to the slick and advanced Russian counter-part.

On the big geo-political level; (1) what keeps America in a position of power today is its power of the petro-dollar based global economy and all that comes with it, including control of the SWIFT-based monetary international transactions without which goods cannot be bought, sold and paid for on the international market; (2) in realistic economic sense however, it is China that is approaching the global lead if it hasn’t already at least in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms, and (3) in terms of military hardware superiority, it is Russia that leads the world in this.

In regards to the current ‘crisis’ and a possible showdown over Ukraine, Russia surely cannot have concerns over its military capacity to deal with any action. However, unless Russia has been able to safe-guard its economy, quarantining it as much as possible from being affected by further Western sanctions, then any escalation should not leave Russia subject to any intimidatory Western repercussions. The further the West pushes, the closer Russia will co-operate with China, whether that is driven on a voluntary basis or has arisen out of necessity, and, in such a rapidly changing global environment, that decision of Russia is understandable and pragmatic, providing China stays solidly by the side of Russia.

A “Cruise Missile Revolution” Took Place in Russia

March 05, 2021

Source: Sonar 2050 – В России состоялась «крылатая революция» 

Translated by Sasha and subtitled by Leo.

As it usually happens in Russia, the most important information passes unnoticed. This time too only specialists noted that Russia has achieved a truly revolutionary progress in the field of missile arms, which allows us to review our defeat in the technological race on one of the important fronts of the Cold War. Details to follow.

The Result Is Impressive”

The March 1983 introduction of BGM-109 Tomahawk to the American arsenal marked the arrival of a new epoch. Although cruise missiles had existed since the mid 70s, the Tomahawk was first to ‘learn’ to fly at a then fantastic distance of 5,500 km and to carry a nuclear payload. The United States imposed a missile arms race on the Soviet Union and won it. Just 32 ‘Los Angeles’ nuclear submarines carried 384 ‘Tomahawks’, while the surface ships had another 3,600 missiles.

The USSR looked rather pale against this background. Our cruise missiles were mostly designed to attack surface vessels and were carried by the strategic bombers. Since such aircraft could carry only a limited amount of missiles and there were only 76 of them, we could launch no more than 600 cruise missiles at a time. Not many. But within the framework of the general war strategy this level was regarded as sufficient.

A victory in Europe was supposed to be achieved on dry land, where tanks and artillery decided the battle. As for the destruction of the enemy on the other side of the Atlantic, the intercontinental nuclear missiles were to do the job. However in the beginning of the 21st century, it became apparent that the world and the character of the battlefield have changed significantly. Cruise missiles became a necessity, and in 2011 the Russian military was given a task to increase the missile count 30 fold.

The Breakthrough”

The development followed two directions: the perfection of the missiles and the diversification of their carriers. The first one lead to the creation of products Kh-55, Kh-101 and ZM-54 ‘Kalibr’. [Ed. – Usually called 3M-54. The Cyrillic letter ‘3’ is the Latin ‘Z’.] The second one considerably changed the types and the count of the carriers. Specifically, the TU-95MS16 is now capable of carrying 6 cruise missiles in its internal bay and 10 on the external consoles. However, since the overall number of strategic bombers is limited by international treaties, their share in the salvo has increased only marginally, to 768 missiles.

The situation is very different in the navy. While in 2010 it didn’t have vessels carrying cruise missiles, in 2014 the MRK ‘Dagestan’ with 8 ‘Kalibr’ missiles appeared in the Caspian Sea. Next another 5 ships like that were built. This was followed by the ‘Buyan-M’ and ‘Karakurt’, the new frigates like the Project 22350 and the deeply modernized ships like BPK ‘Marshal Shaposhnikov’. The submariners picked up the baton, having ‘calibrated’ all the ‘Varshavyankas’ and the ‘Ladas’, the ‘Antheuses’ and the ‘Shchukas’. Even the not so modern Project 877 ‘Paltus’ submarines, upon their modernization, receive 18 ‘Kalibrs’ each, which raised the size of the navy’s salvo to over 1000 cruise missiles.

This way in autumn of 2020, along with the ground forces ‘Iskander’ systems capable of carrying 2-4 cruise missiles, the overall Russian salvo already exceeds 2,350 missiles. Nominally it is still less than what is available to the USA. However, firstly, the combat effectiveness of the newest Russian missiles surpass by far that of the old American ‘Tomahawks’, and secondly, let us remember that back in 2010 the Russian salvo had only 600 missiles. So the progress in the course of 10 years is truly revolutionary. And who said that we want to stop there.

Do these countries really want to be respected?

February 28, 2021

Do these countries really want to be respected?

Did they expect us to treat them with any respect?
Roger Waters (The Final Cut)

Long ago, I learned the hard way that what I call “professional ideologues” count every damn penny and I sure do NOT want you to post a full article of theirs, lest they threaten me with lawsuits (already happened twice): to them, money is far, far, more important than propagating any truths, believe me.  So I won’t post the full thing here, just a link to it.  You can read it there:

https://www.politico.eu/article/nord-stream-2-pipeline-has-damaged-the-west-enough-time-to-put-an-end-to-it/

What I do want to ask you, dear readers, do you think that these two clowns want their country to be treated with respect, or do they simply don’t care at all about things like dignity, respect, or honor?  How about the people who voted for these kind of governments?  Can’t they see how utterly pathetic it makes them look?

I met a lot of Poles and Ukrainians in my life and, if anything, I tend to find them mostly completely irrational about things pertaining to their national pride.  The Ukies, apparently, even rather die than accept a Russian-made vaccine (ask yourself, in the Soviet era, how many bad vaccines did the USSR export to eastern European countries?  The answer? Zero).  As for the Poles, they fancy themselves as the future “Intermarium superpower”!  And then they ask Trump to build them a US base for which they are even willing to pay for the military presence from a country which tries hard to blackmail Poland into paying for “Holocaust reparations”!

Dignity anybody?

And now this: their foreign ministers get together to beg Uncle Shmuel to protect them from North Stream 2.  Just look at this great quote from the said article:

We call on U.S. President Joe Biden to use all means at his disposal to prevent the project from completion“. (but do read the full thing, it is quite amazing).

Also, notice a typical “Polish wisdom”: seek out the protection of a (already agonizing) “ally” located thousands of miles away overseas, but do go directly against your two most powerful neighbors.  Genius!  Pure Polish genius!

To be fair, this could be seen as “progress”.  After all, the biggest Polish hero, Jozef Pilsudski, was hoping to occupy Moscow with Nazi Germany.  Asking Joe Biden for help against the accursed Russians is probably a tad smarter than asking Adolf Hitler.  But not by much, not by much…  (the outcome will be the same though).

The Polish and Ukrainian government have tried to turn total prostitution into a form of “resistance” against a “resurgent Russia”.  Don’t they know how that makes them look in the eyes of the Russian people (most of whom don’t even want to use the Russian military to liberate Novorussia, nevermind “invading” 3B+PU!)?

To be honest, this further convinces me that Russia should simply forget about both these countries and deal with the many mentally sane countries on this planet (I explained that in some details here).  On a personal level, I find most Poles very nice people, and I still do wish them (and the non-Nazi Ukrainians) well, but I also want my country to stop wasting *any* time, effort, energy, resources or patience with these countries.  They want to be left alone?  Great!  I agree.

The Ukraine is a different problem: most Ukrainians are, basically southern Russians, and it is pretty clear that those in the East and the South will have to, sooner or later, liberate themselves from the (truly) Nazi Banderastan which came to power in 2014.  I do believe, firmly, that Russia owes the Russian people of the Ukraine protection.  But once the East and the South are free again, Russia should simply reduce her diplomatic presence in the Ukraine and Poland and bring to the absolute minimum, or even terminate, all deals, agreements, treaties, etc.

Oh sure, Russia will loose some markets and some money.  Not that much though, not compared with the riches Russia has found in the South, the East and the North.  Furthermore, if you look at the benefit/liability ratio from a Russian point of view, it is the entire “West” which is not worth the effort, especially the spineless and clueless EU.  The USA, being a nuclear superpower, will remain an important interlocutor for Russia, agreed.  But the rest of them?  The UK?  Canada?

I say, let Russia begin with the 3B+PU, sever ties with them first.  Then, if Germany caves in and blocks the completion of NS2, I would server ties between Russia and Germany too.  I would keep ties with southern European countries like Italy, Spain, Serbia, but even those really ought to be conditional on some kind two-way mutually beneficial outcome for both parties.

Bottom line: Russia owes nothing to her neighbors or, for that matter, to any country on the planet.  She needs to always remember that.

I realize that the above might seem excessive to some, but judging by this interview of Lavrov (see below), I am inclined to think that even the most moderates of moderates are getting mighty fed up with the Europe, old and new.

The Saker

 ***

source

Vladimir Solovyov: Good afternoon, Mr Lavrov. Why was the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell “buried?”

Sergey Lavrov: Nobody “buried” Mr Borrell. He carried out the will of the EU member states. They determine EU policy. This is a lengthy and controversial process. On several occasions, some EU member states have told us in private that they are against sanctions and that they do not believe that Russia should be “punished” with sanctions. They know this is futile, but they act out of “solidarity,” or the consensus principle. I have said several times that as far as I understand it, the principle of consensus means that if someone disagrees, that means there’s no consensus. So far, I haven’t received an answer to this question.

Back to Mr Borrell, he was visiting us mindful of the complex environment surrounding his plans. Many were against his visit and publicly stated that he should not be going to Russia unless we “put right the wrongs.” In the end, they agreed upon the approaches that Mr Borrell was supposed to make known to us.

This is not the first time – and this applies not only to Mr Borrell, but to his predecessors as well (before him there was Federica Mogherini, and before her there was Catherine Ashton), they were unable to discuss things. When Mr Borrell read out the position regarding Mr Navalny, I put forward our counterarguments. The EU’s position is that we have made him a political prisoner, and this is unrelated to accusations against him. And that all of that constitutes a violation of human rights and Russia, as a party to numerous conventions on human rights, including the European Convention on Human Rights, must release him and respect his rights. But Russia has laws that must be respected. By the way, I notified the High Representative that if he presents this matter from this angle during a news conference, I will respond by mentioning the Catalans sentenced to 12 years or more in prison for organising the referendum on Catalonia’s independence. We were accused of organising this referendum, but no one presented a single piece of evidence, nothing even remotely close to the facts. So it happened.

With regard to human rights, I reminded Mr Borrell that we expressed our willingness to conduct a substantive dialogue on this matter a long time ago. However, first, it must be based on facts and, second, it needs to be a two-way street. If human rights are a recognised topic without borders, and states cannot hide behind their borders when discussing human rights, let’s agree on what human rights are. There’s a list of these rights, which are primarily socioeconomic rights. The right to life is the most important one. But the West strongly opposes the idea of discussing socioeconomic rights.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why do you deny Navalny and his brother the right to rip off the French company Yves Rocher?

Sergey Lavrov: This is what I told High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. I said that we did not pledge to protect those who did commercial damage to an EU company, Yves Rocher. There is factual information about this, about how the French company was lured to accept transportation and logistics services at 30 percent above the prices it had paid before, and how this was done by a one-man firm, which hired a subcontractor and transferred the money to the accounts of another company whose stakeholders are well known.

Vladimir Solovyov: And he did not give any response to that? Was he pretending not to understand you?

Sergey Lavrov: Mr Josep Borrell definitely has a clear understanding of the matter. But I would like to repeat that the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, however serious his title may sound, has no room for manoeuvre. He is acting within very tight limits.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did he make any positive suggestion, or was it just a call for surrender?

Sergey Lavrov: We ultimately found a constructive agenda. The High Representative himself proposed focusing on the subjects where we can help each other and find a balance of interests. These subjects are climate change, protecting the interests, economies and population of our countries to the best of our ability in the context of this natural hazard, as well as the issues of healthcare, science and technology. I believe that this is enough to make headway. I reminded him that we have been marking time for over two years on the extension of the Russian-EU intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in science and technology. The problem is that the EU wants the agreement to mention that Crimea is not part of the Russian Federation. The choice is between addressing the current aspects of our economic relations and promoting cutting-edge technology, and being stuck on this problem.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why has Europe decided that it can pose as a moral leader with a right to lecture us? Have they forgotten about the tragedy of Yugoslavia? And, speaking about Navalny, we can remind them about Julian Assange whom nobody is discussing any longer. You mentioned the three political prisoners in Spain, to which they have replied arrogantly that there are no political prisoners, only imprisoned politicians in Spain. Immediately after that, Carles Puigdemont remarked that there are not three but nine of them in Spain.

Sergey Lavrov: Incidentally, when all this happened, Carles Puigdemont and his associates were in Belgium, and several others were in Germany. The Belgian and German law authorities said the charges brought against them were politically motivated, but the Spanish authorities replied that they have their own laws, which must be respected. When I cited this argument during the meeting with High Representative Borrell, adding that we have our own laws as well, he started saying again that Navalny had been sentenced illegally, for political reasons, and that his rights had been infringed upon. We also talked about the rallies which Navalny and his team members, who are currently living abroad, organised actively and with provocative goals. Mr Borrell complained that a thousand people have been detained and many of them have been prosecuted, and that the right to peaceful protest is being rudely trampled on in Russia. He was especially concerned about the three expelled diplomats. His team told him about them while we were having lunch.

Vladimir Solovyov: He didn’t express his concern immediately, did he?

Sergey Lavrov: He told me when we were leaving the room that he was seriously concerned.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did you know that the diplomats were being expelled?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, we knew this.

Vladimir Solovyov: It was not timed for Mr Borrell’s visit?

Sergey Lavrov: No, of course not. The decision was made when the identities of the diplomats who took part in protest rallies were established. And then they started wailing that the diplomats, who were just doing their job and carrying out their professional duty, had been detailed illegally and accused of what they did not do, that is, that they did not take part in the illegal rallies. We reminded them that the rally was not just unapproved and uncoordinated, but that its organisers did not even plan to request permission for it. Moreover, Leonid Volkov said publicly many times that they would not request permission but would simply take to the streets. In itself, this is more than just a breach of the law; it is an action designed to humiliate the state. If you believe that taking to the streets in this situation is your professional duty, you are not diplomats but provocateurs.

Vladimir Solovyov: Plus, no one has canceled the pandemic restrictions yet.

Sergey Lavrov: International conventions, including Vienna conventions of 1961 and 1963 on diplomatic and consular relations, bilateral conventions and, by all means, our conventions with Estonia and Sweden, firmly stipulate the fundamental truth that diplomats enjoy immunity and privileges, but must respect the host country’s laws and rules. The law was violated in the first place when the permit to hold a rally was not requested. The rules were violated as well since there is a presidential executive order and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s order on epidemiological restrictions that remain in effect. The same restrictions apply in St Petersburg and other cities. That is, both laws and rules have been violated.

Vladimir Solovyov: You also gave them a USB flash drive to keep them in the loop of what’s happening in Europe, didn’t you?

Sergey Lavrov: This flash drive can be updated literally daily. There’s a wave of protests in Poland now that are being brutally suppressed with batons and water cannons. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said that he did not have the chance to watch the contents of the flash drive before his talks in Moscow, but promised to do so afterwards.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did you send it to him before the talks?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, a couple of days in advance. I’m sure they watched it. The fact that he declined to discuss it saying he didn’t watch it goes to show that they realised they didn’t stand a chance in a candid dialogue with us. This awkward narrative from an arrogant standpoint, which was imposed on Mr Borrell in order for him to let it be known here, is being put into a certain philosophical and political context of the same geopolitical dimension. This is what happened when Josep Borrell was reporting back to the European Parliament and came up with the statements that Russia failed to live up to the expectations, a modern democratic society failed, economic ties with the EU collapsed, and we do not respect human rights and the like.

Vladimir Solovyov: Well, they are demanding that sanctions be imposed on us, aren’t they?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, they are.

Vladimir Solovyov: I’m one of those who they want to see included on the sanctions list.

Sergey Lavrov: You are in good company.

Vladimir Solovyov: A good company, indeed. I will be the first journalist in history to be sanctioned against.

Sergey Lavrov: Not necessarily. That depends on what you call sanctions. RT and Sputnik correspondents cannot get an accreditation in Paris. I found out recently that one of our media outlets filed a lawsuit against the state for not being allowed to attend a news conference by President Vladimir Putin. Their argument was that, according to the law, if all the requirements are met, the accreditation must be provided. I’m not aware of these subtleties, but I know that this year’s news conference is being held in compliance with the pandemic requirements. It’s a fact that, without any coronavirus, RT and Sputnik, despite direct requests to the French government, were denied access to the Elysee Palace. Of course, we should also bear in mind the situation with Sputnik in Estonia, where criminal cases were opened against the journalists.

Vladimir Solovyov: Yes, our guys find it hard to work in the United States as well. Recently, White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki came up with a boatload of god-knows-what…

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, but getting back to the allegation that we disappointed the EU, failed to live up to their expectations and are moving away from Europe, having adopted a deliberate course on self-isolation… Well, this is some kind of a kingdom of crooked mirrors.

The problems between us and the EU began a long time ago. They were testing our patience and good will. When the Baltic states and other East European countries were admitted to the EU in 2004, we asked them if they were sure those countries were mature enough to be admitted as responsible members of this progressive association. We were told that, of course, they still have some holdover phobias from their past in the Soviet Union, but rest assured that as soon as they become EU and NATO members, they will calm down and no longer have reasons for these phobias. Nothing of the kind. The exact opposite happened and they became the most zealous Russophobes and are pushing the EU to adopt Russophobic positions. On many issues, the EU position dictated by solidarity is determined by an aggressive Russophobic minority.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why did they choose Germany and why Navalny?

Sergey Lavrov: I think he just came their way. It if was not Navalny, it would be something else. Clearly, he was being prepared for that quite seriously, if you think about preparations for the notorious film, which wouldn’t have been possible without the German authorities’ consent.

Vladimir Solovyov: Are you talking about personal data from the Stasi archives and Vladimir Putin’s photograph?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, that too.

Vladimir Solovyov: But Maria Pevchikh, who had come from London to Moscow to accompany Navalny on his trip, during which she gave him his shirts, as Navalny said, and who allegedly brought back a certain water bottle, later disappeared.

Sergey Lavrov: She brought back more than one water bottle.

Vladimir Solovyov: In the process, they have either forgotten about the bottle or it has grown to the size of a whole water tank. She has openly accused you, saying that even the foreign minister doesn’t know that these documents are available in open access, that it is enough to write a letter.

Sergey Lavrov: She has even said, if I remember correctly, that she has filed such a request.

Vladimir Solovyov: Not so simple. She said that only a German citizen can do this. This makes one wonder who Maria Pevchikh is.

Sergey Lavrov: I have heard debates on this issue on the Rossiya channel.

Vladimir Solovyov: Thanks for watching us.

Sergey Lavrov: I can’t go to sleep otherwise.

Vladimir Solovyov: So much for the secret of ratings: dropping off with your TV set on.

Sergey Lavrov: To begin with, Maria Pevchikh has surrounded herself with mystery. Our German colleagues are helping her to keep up that mystery. First of all, nobody has seen her after she left on board that plane. The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has bombarded its German colleagues with requests to honour their commitments under the agreements on assistance in legal matters. In particular, we also requested a meeting with Maria Pevchikh, to which our German colleagues replied that they don’t know her whereabouts. However, she wrote herself in social media that she had met with Navalny in Germany.

Vladimir Solovyov: She gave interviews.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, she did. Navalny had several German security agents with him round the clock. We told the Germans about this, that she had been among the people at Berlin airport who came to see Navalny off before his flight to Moscow on January 17, 2021. But they don’t even allow us to talk with the doctors who provided medical treatment to Navalny and found traces of toxic agents in his samples.

Vladimir Solovyov: But the doctors didn’t find anything.

Sergey Lavrov: No, I mean the Bundeswehr doctors. They are doctors as well. We have pointed out on numerous occasions that if the Omsk doctors did not find anything, and the Charité doctors didn’t either, then the Charité doctors can also be accused of concealing evidence of Navalny’s poisoning.

A great deal has been said about the Bundeswehr. This does no credit to Germany as a country with a responsible attitude to its international commitments. First, they said there was one water bottle, and the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office mentioned it. Suddenly, they forgot about the bottle and started talking about clothing. Then they brought up the bottles again, this time three of them, claiming that traces of a toxic agent had been found on two of them. But the Germans, just as the French and Swedish experts who were allegedly asked to double check the results of German tests, and the Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have not provided any information to us. They have refused to do this.

Vladimir Solovyov: I have read the OPCW’s report. It said plainly that they did not find any traces of a toxic agent but only “biomarkers of the cholinesterase inhibitor” in Navalny’s samples, which are not identical but “have similar structural characteristics” with certain toxic chemicals. And the report further says that this cholinesterase inhibitor is not on the list of toxic agents. Why do they keep saying “Novichok” and “toxic agent” then? The OPCW report doesn’t say so.

Sergey Lavrov: We have been told since the Skripal case that only the Soviet Union, and hence Russia, has the Novichok production technology. They completely disregard the facts which we provide and which are available in open access to the effect that over a hundred inventions related to the so-called Novichok formula have been registered in the United States.

Vladimir Solovyov: If I remember correctly, Hillary Clinton has confirmed this.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, of course.

Vladimir Solovyov: This has also been confirmed by the Czech President.

Sergey Lavrov: True. Moreover, during the story with the Skripals’ poisoning, Germany was one of those who pointed the finger at us, saying that no other country could have the Novichok production technology. When the Bundeswehr found the traces of a substance similar to Novichok in Navalny’s samples, we asked them how they had been able to determine this if they told us themselves that they had never conducted such research. No reply.

Just note that the point at issue is not Navalny. This is not just a coordinated Western campaign of deterring Russia, but a campaign of aggressive deterrence.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why?

Sergey Lavrov: Because they don’t like it that we have our own views on global developments and that we openly express them and take practical actions to uphold them, unlike a huge number of other countries who have their own views as well but keep mum. I have talked with many ministers and other officials, as well as with members of civil society, who say that they don’t like what the West is doing.

Vladimir Solovyov: Are they afraid to say so?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, they are. They are tied to the dollar, investments, and the children whose studies abroad are paid for with the money they keep there. It is a major damper on the elite’s ability to speak their minds. But we have no right to remain silent. Our history, our ancestors and our genetic blueprint do not allow us to stomach insults or unilateral attempts to dominate all and everything.

Vladimir Solovyov: I’m aware of what you personally think about this, so I can imagine your indignation caused by Navalny’s behaviour in court with regard to the veteran and this act of bullying … But the West turned a blind eye to this, too. After all, their emissaries were sitting in the courtroom and watching their underling do his thing.

Sergey Lavrov: Representatives of the embassies of Great Britain and France attended this particular court session. They were our allies during World War II. I will not even comment on this. Any decent person can clearly see what is going on. Returning to why it’s Navalny and not anything else, this “case,” in today’s parlance, is a deliberate act. The date of his return and the date of releasing the film make it all too obvious. But, look, now that there’s a wave of attacks on Russia, no one is talking about the “poisoning.” What they are saying is that Navalny has been illegally convicted and must be set free.

Vladimir Solovyov: This has already become imprinted in the public consciousness. This is a lie that has already taken root, same as with the Skripals.

Sergey Lavrov: That is why we will keep asking them questions. Recently, I received an open letter from Mr Kozak, a researcher, a biologist who lives in Switzerland. I answered him.

Literally today, we will be sending an official inquiry to the OPCW, Germany, France and Sweden with a request for them to comment on his findings made on the basis of the publications substantiating and analysing what happened to Navalny, the biomaterials that were obtained from him and tested in the West. From a purely scientific standpoint, he raises a number of questions related to biological and chemical science.

Vladimir Solovyov: I have read Mr Kozak’s papers and your answer. Interestingly, the Lancet documents show a blood test with lithium in it. I started looking closely at various papers on lithium and talked with the professionals. Interestingly, there have been several studies reporting the effect of excess lithium intake on cholinesterase inhibitors. It’s complicated. I’m not even talking about the diseases that are treated with lithium. Clearly, we need to consult psychiatrists about this. However, the complete silence from the other side is surprising. I don’t think Germany is a random choice. At one time, George Friedman from Stratfor wrote that the alliance between Russia and Germany represented an existential threat to the United States. The goal is to prevent an improvement in relations between our two countries. No one expected Germany to be part of this direct attack on Russia. After all, Navalny wasn’t taken to Porton Down in the UK. Germany was their first choice.

Surprisingly, this film, if we are talking about Gelendzhik, managed not to tell a single word of truth. Everything is 3D imagery. But the West got infected with this lie. They are doing their best not to see this debunked.

Sergey Lavrov: I’m sure that the United States does not need us to have good relations with Germany. The same goes for European countries. Britain doesn’t need this either. Just like the West didn’t need a united Germany at one time. The Soviet Union was the main proponent of a unified Germany.

Vladimir Solovyov: First, the preservation of Germany.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes. I’m already talking about modern times. The West was very worried back then and reluctantly agreed on reunifying Germany. We operated on the belief that the German people have the right to be one nation which is its historical destiny as a nation. Here’s something (which is funny) about double standards. When I mentioned this at the Munich Security Conference in 2015 and said that we were doing it then deliberately, understanding the German people’s aspirations, and stressed that it would be important for other countries to treat Crimea’s reunification with Russia in about the same vein – as a manifestation of the people’s will. There was a referendum in Crimea, but there was no referendum in Germany. The audience had a fit of hysterics. The German deputies yelled things like “How dare you compare these things!?” I can see this arrogance on the part of the Germans in recent years. You know, there is such a subtext. They are not saying it out loud, but the message is clear: “Dear friends, we have paid our bills, and we owe nothing to anyone anymore.”

Vladimir Solovyov: Hence, the revision of WWII outcomes and the attempt to equate the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany.

Sergey Lavrov: That’s true. A fairly large portion of their elite is pursuing this policy. There are people who want Germany to lose its every chance to enjoy normal cooperation with us. At the same time, there are still voices of sanity there. Recently, President of the Federal Republic of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was always better to discuss things, to be mindful of the future and to operate based on national interests when tackling the most challenging issues. So far, he has been the only foreign politician to mention our past. He said that 2021 marked 80 years since Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. This is nothing short of political courage in modern Germany.

There are a number of public organisations, such as Potsdam Meetings, or the St Petersburg Dialogue forum. This date cannot go unnoticed. When Vladimir Putin was elected President for the first time, we declared the historic reconciliation of our nations. Now, when they are trying to pit us against each other (there are people who want to do so within Germany and outside it), this date could serve as an important psychological message to the effect that confrontational logic must be abandoned and everything should not be seen as an opportunity to impose more sanctions on Russia.

Speaking in the Bundestag, my German colleague Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Nord Stream 2 must be preserved, but only in order to have a lever to control Russia. Here again comes the logic of “who has an influence on whom.” It seems to me that the Soviet and Russian energy projects in Europe have always been a material foundation for positive interdependence. It’s always good when the countries depend on each other in terms of the economy. It makes overcoming many other issues easier. Mr Maas then said that Germany should consider sanctions against Russia over the case of Navalny, and “it’s okay” that they failed to achieve their goal earlier. Most importantly, a signal would be given that Moscow’s actions would not go unnoticed. Sanctions are imposed in order to feel satisfaction from the act of meting out “punishment.” But sanctions lead nowhere and cannot result in a change in our course on upholding our national interests.

Vladimir Solovyov: They lead to consolidation of our society.

Sergey Lavrov: What I’m saying is that they are not conducive to achieving the goals that the West has set for us.

Vladimir Solovyov: They do not understand our logic, our society. For example, Yulia Navalnaya suddenly flies to Germany, despite the coronavirus restrictions.

Sergey Lavrov: I’ve read about it. We could ask the Germans if they know anything about the special rules created for her. But they won’t answer. I think there is no need to ask until this story acquires a dimension that affects our legitimate requirement of the Germans to explain what exactly they found in Alexey Navalny’s tests.

Vladimir Solovyov: They do not even bother to enter into a dialogue with us.

Sergey Lavrov: They have no arguments, but we will not leave it at this.

Vladimir Solovyov: In this whole situation, I am most concerned about Donbass. Russia, as one of the guarantors of the Minsk Agreements, has no other choice but to maintain dialogue with our German and French colleagues. Apparently, they have lost sight of their role in this dialogue, and no longer know why they are even there. The war in Donbass has been going on for seven years. This is not a direct function of the Russian Foreign Ministry, but it’s a tragedy for those people. And you have to look your colleagues in the eye all this time. They don’t seem to want anything there, just waiting for a change of government in Russia. They think we are oblivious to it, and will play their game.

Sergey Lavrov: This is a sad story, and every day it is taking on a more and more perverse nature. Paris and Berlin now almost unquestioningly demand that issues be resolved in the Normandy format only, which means without Donbass. We argue that the Minsk agreements say that the Contact Group formed under those agreements should resolve issues directly between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. They tell us no, the Contact Group plays a supporting role, while everything will be decided in the Normandy format, and Donetsk and Lugansk will be given ready-made solutions. It is a lousy position with regard to the people who were declared terrorists, although they never attacked anyone. They are still considered terrorists only because they have expressed dissatisfaction with what was happening in Kiev, and declared its moves unconstitutional, and asked to be left alone. They were actually attacked by the illegal regime that came to power as a result of a coup d’etat.

The West stomached it all: the coup itself, and its instigators’ new Russophobic approach to the Russian language in Ukraine, or their banish-everything-Russian-from-Crimea rhetoric. In response to this, the people revolted, on a political plane. Donbass said it wanted to be independent, and later agreed to negotiations, and Crimea voted for reunification with Russia. The Russophobic wave that brought with it the geopolitical changes in Ukraine and Crimea had been approved by the West, or at least the West did not object to it and even encouraged it to a certain extent. But Russia has been punished for it.

Vladimir Solovyov: But we put up with this for some reason. For some reason, we cannot just tell them that if they are not going to fulfil the Minsk agreements, then we will decide the fate of the Russian people there. It is our legitimate right to protect the interests of our compatriots.

Sergey Lavrov: We are protecting them. Not only in Ukraine, but also in the Baltics, and in other countries. This is not even helplessness on the part of the EU. I think it is a conscious policy of turning a blind eye to Russians being persecuted, be it the media or the Russian-speaking population. In the Baltics, they are denied access to information in their native language, contrary to what is guaranteed under the local laws and international conventions. This attitude to the Russian language problems in the European Union, as well as their stories that they have their own mechanisms and will use them to influence the situation, it is all lies. They will not do anything, will not lift a finger to bring the Baltics to their senses and make them stop their Russophobic hysteria. I could not even imagine this.

But let’s go back to Ukraine. We are interested in keeping the Minsk agreements on the table. They were approved by the UN Security Council and contain arrangements that are very difficult to abandon.

Vladimir Solovyov: They are not complying.

Sergey Lavrov: They are not. This means that Donbass is living the way it does now. As you may recall, with regard to the Minsk agreements and the compliance mechanism in the Contact Group and the Normandy format, we have repeatedly accepted a compromise, such as the Steinmeier formula. Originally, the Minsk agreements required that Donbass be given a special status and then the election be held. The Steinmeier formula stipulates gradual provision of this status.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why go meet them halfway if they take it for granted and never reciprocate? I know you are a diplomat, and I’m a proponent of forceful solutions.

Sergey Lavrov: I’ll give you an example. Take, for instance, the repeated and gross violation of the UN Charter by the United States and its allies. However, no one is suggesting that we leave the UN and tear up our signature under the UN Charter. If there’s a completely “unkillable” document and someone is trying to justify their non-compliance with ludicrous assurances, we benefit from it diplomatically.

Vladimir Solovyov: We can stay. But maybe we need to act in a completely different way.

Sergey Lavrov: How? Life takes its own course. Donbass has learned to live in a situation of illegitimate blockade, which the French and the Germans “refuse to see.” Instead, they pester us with a demand to open two more checkpoints. But this is not about lifting the blockade. The Minsk agreements are not talking about the checkpoints, but complete unblocking of economic ties.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why talk to them at all? They themselves do not decide anything. We need to talk directly with the Americans.

Sergey Lavrov: I think it would be the wrong thing to do. We exchanged views with the Americans on Ukraine when they had a special representative for this conflict. I don’t think we should call on the United States to influence their “underlings” and say that we have no use for the Minsk agreements.

Vladimir Solovyov: They themselves do not decide anything. There’s even no point in memorising the name of yet another of their foreign ministers.

Sergey Lavrov: The process that we are now observing with it being mandatory that the Minsk agreements are kept on the table means that the discrediting of the Ukrainian leadership is in full swing.

Vladimir Solovyov: You are playing chess with them, and they are playing checkers with you.

Sergey Lavrov: We are not playing chess with them. We are not talking to them altogether. Here are the Minsk agreements. Go ahead and comply with them. Period.

Vladimir Solovyov: I like that. No extra motions. What if they don’t comply?

Sergey Lavrov: Let them explain to their own public why they are not doing so.

Vladimir Solovyov: In their own country, they explain that it is normal to close three channels, with sanctions imposed on one of their own citizens, a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada.

Sergey Lavrov: The Americans said that this was the right thing to do. Europe mumbled something (sorry for this non-diplomatic term) to the effect that they will look into it. What is there to look into? Freedom of speech is either there or it is not.

Vladimir Solovyov: There is no freedom of speech.

Sergey Lavrov: Ukraine wants the Minsk agreements to cease to exist. Let them say so themselves. President Zelensky says that the Minsk agreements are bad, but they help keep sanctions on Russia in place. We are telling the Germans and the French: you wrote down that you would resume normal communication with Russia once it fulfilled the Minsk agreements, even though there’s no mention of us there. They talk only about Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. So, if they keep intact their five principles requiring Moscow to fulfil the Minsk agreements, President Zelensky will respond that way. He is not doing anything. They say Russia must comply, but the sanctions remain in place which makes him happy.

Frankly, I’m even happy with that sanctions situation. Not fully yet, but we have realised that we must rely only on ourselves. No, we do not want to self-isolate. We want to take advantage of the international division of labour, but if someone is saying that there will be competition, but we will be “cut off” here, here and also there… As Minister Maas put it, they will impose sanctions just to make sure our actions don’t go unnoticed. What kind of a reliable partner are you then?

Vladimir Solovyov: This phrase hurt their feelings.

Sergey Lavrov: First, we said this not one year ago, but a couple of years ago, when the sanctions were being imposed and import substitution was discussed. Then, they began to wail about why we were responding to the sanctions, meaning that they had good reasons to impose them, while we didn’t. It was stunning to see them act like schoolchildren rather than politicians.

I read excerpts from the foreign press. The German Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote a couple of days ago that it is necessary to think twice before acting emotionally and imposing “sanctions for the sake of sanctions,” because the punishing side must understand that they also pose a threat to it, as it ceases to be a reliable partner. So, we are not alone in drawing such conclusions, which I put my name down for.

Vladimir Solovyov: Are we heading for a breach with the EU?

Sergey Lavrov: We believe we would be ready for this. We are neighbours. Speaking collectively, they are our largest trade and investment partner. Many EU companies operate here; there are hundreds or even thousands of joint ventures. When a business benefits both sides, we will continue. I am sure that we have become fully self-sufficient in the defence sphere. We must also attain the same position in the economy to be able to act accordingly if we see again (we have seen this more than once) that sanctions are imposed in a sphere where they can create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas such as the supply of component parts. We don’t want to be isolated from the world, but we must be prepared for this. If you want peace, prepare for war.

Vladimir Solovyov: It should be said that our coronavirus vaccine has come as a blow to them. They never expected this to happen. It turns out that they don’t know anything about Russia and don’t understand it. They are shocked to see that our economy is not in tatters, and that we have [advanced] research and scientists.

Sergey Lavrov: It was Barack Obama who said that Russia’s economy was in tatters. They haven’t learned from others’ mistakes. And it appears that they are unable to learn from their own mistakes either.

Vladimir Solovyov: Will you miss President Donald Trump?

Sergey Lavrov: He is an outstanding person. I remember my two meetings with him, once when I was on a visit to Washington, and also the talks he had with President Vladimir Putin, which I attended.

Donald Trump is a remarkable politician acting from his own experience. Where there is benefit, everything must be done to maximise it; where there is no benefit, let things take their course.

As for respect for our, Spanish or American laws, I am shocked by the impeachment proceedings. The charges brought against him… You can watch and listen to Trump’s video addresses again and again…

Vladimir Solovyov: And find nothing criminal in them?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes. Just compare them to what Leonid Volkov or Vladimir Ashurkov are saying. As many people say, have they ever urged young people and children to take to the streets? No, they have not. But I have heard them say, “What’s wrong with this?”

Vladimir Solovyov: Right. This is exactly what Volkov said.

Sergey Lavrov: They believe that if children want to join a protest rally, there is nothing wrong with it. This means that they are becoming part of civil society.

Vladimir Solovyov: During his meetings with foreign secret agents, Vladimir Ashurkov asked for $10-$20 million and offered to share information about a Russian bank [allegedly involved in corruption].

Sergey Lavrov: We have exposed this. But it’s like talking to a brick wall. The West doesn’t see this, just as it pays no attention to our arguments on the alleged poisoning at this point. They just want our repentance.

Vladimir Solovyov: But we have changed as well, haven’t we? We no longer react as nervously as we did before. I am concerned about you. The newly appointed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is the ninth US Secretary of State you will be working with. You said that you have to recite the history of Russian-US relations to every new appointee.

Sergey Lavrov: This reminds me of an old phrase, “You are my first.” I have had a conversation with Antony Blinken. I believe it was a normal conversation. We agreed that there are many problems between us.

Vladimir Solovyov: Have you agreed not to agree?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, we can hardly agree on the majority of these problems. But it is clearly inevitable that we must continue our dialogue on strategic stability and try to mend the damage done by the “disarmament experts” of the previous US administration. An agreement has been reached on extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

Vladimir Solovyov: But our position remained unchanged, didn’t it? It was the Americans who hesitated, not us?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, it is unchanged.

As to how our foreign policy activities are being covered by some media, a few neoliberal journalists wrote that as soon as US President Joe Biden snapped his fingers, Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately signed a deal to extend the New START Treaty. The problem was resolved that same day, although before that, the Russian Foreign Ministry had said that it required a lengthy procedure under our laws (several weeks). So it was all a lie, they concluded.

I will not reveal any big secrets. I will just say we hoped common sense would prevail with the President of the United States Joe Biden. A few weeks before his inauguration, we made all the preparations required under our legislation to conclude an agreement to extend the New START Treaty.

Vladimir Solovyov: Joe Biden said last summer that this was one of his top priorities.

Sergey Lavrov: It was not 100 percent guaranteed.

Vladimir Solovyov: But he talked about it.

Sergey Lavrov: In other words, we simply prepared beforehand for an optimistic scenario to avoid time trouble. It is just that sometimes our commitment to extension of the Treaty is shown in a perverse way – like they say, Joe Biden proposed it, and Vladimir Putin agreed.

Vladimir Solovyov: Care for a conspiracy theory?

Sergey Lavrov: Go on.

Vladimir Solovyov: How about Vladimir Putin helped replace Donald Trump with Joe Biden because Trump did not agree to extend the New START?

Sergey Lavrov: Possibly. I am sure this is what happened. I can say just one thing to all those who are looking for an intrigue in who is more important, or whether Russia is doing America’s or someone else’s bidding. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin does not really care who will take all the credit later. If we reach an agreement that will be good, useful, and important for us and for the whole world – be it on disarmament or on something else – it’s our pleasure.

Vladimir Solovyov: Mr Lavrov, where does your freedom end? And where does it begin? The Constitution says that the President determines the country’s foreign policy.

Sergey Lavrov: My freedom ends where another’s begins. This is not from the Constitution, though.

Vladimir Solovyov: How free are you in foreign policy matters?

Sergey Lavrov: There’s the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation which was updated several years ago. It was approved by the President. We have doctrinal documents covering regional geographic areas. They are classified, just like in any other country, but are based on the publicly available Foreign Policy Concept.

In addition to geographical areas, whose doctrinal documents are also approved by the President, there are areas such as strategic stability, arms control, etc. This is also reported to the President collectively by all departments involved, such as security services, the Defence Ministry and the Security Council. Once a common policy is coordinated, that’s what guides action.

Vladimir Solovyov: Your every step isn’t supervised?

Sergey Lavrov: No. The President trusts me. If we have a directive that he approved, be it in foreign policy or elsewhere, you must act independently to achieve the goals it sets. Whether you succeed or not is a separate matter.

In case of unconventional situations that are not covered by the established approaches, we have weekly, or more frequent, meetings of the Security Council permanent members where we openly discuss these matters. It is always a collegial decision.

Vladimir Solovyov: Is there enough time for FC Spartak?

Sergey Lavrov: The winter pause is about to come to an end… I miss it.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do you still play football?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, on Sundays. Last Sunday, we played outdoors despite the fact that it was 15 degrees below zero.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did you score?

Sergey Lavrov: I’m embarrassed to say … yes! But I like assists better.

Vladimir Solovyov: Like Lionel Messi?

Sergey Lavrov: Messi is a great scorer too.

Vladimir Solovyov: Yes, but he also likes to pass the ball.

Sergey Lavrov: True.

Vladimir Solovyov: Rafts? Rafting?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, not in winter… In summer, yes.

Vladimir Solovyov: Poetry?

Sergey Lavrov: Honestly, no real poetry for a very long time now. For now, I make do with epigrams for my friends’ birthdays. The elevated stuff isn’t coming as easily.

Vladimir Solovyov: The current Russian Government has a quite a few talented writers.

Sergey Lavrov: Do they write poetry? Or…

Vladimir Solovyov: Poetry. Not writing each other up.

Sergey Lavrov: I didn’t know that. I know that Arkady Dvorkovich wrote poetry when he worked in the Government, and he continues to write, probably. Prime Minister Mishustin wrote lyrics for many popular pieces of music. It’s a romantic way to escape. However, it shouldn’t create the impression that we are romantics in practical matters. We are realists.

Vladimir Solovyov: Hard-nosed?

Sergey Lavrov: You could say that. A healthy dose of cynicism has never been a bad thing in politics.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do you prepare your memorable quips in advance? Or do they just come out on their own and “kill” on the spot? Some have become legendary, although you deny authorship.

Sergey Lavrov: The words were accurate but a different order. If you are thinking what I’m thinking.

Vladimir Solovyov: You said to former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband: “Who are you to lecture me?”

Sergey Lavrov: Well, how do you prepare jokes in advance? I’m not saying that I take after Viktor Chernomyrdin, who never prepared his jokes in advance. With him it was like a force of nature. No, I do not prepare my jokes in advance.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do you ever make friends with your international colleagues when you feel like you get each other?

Sergey Lavrov: There are quite a few of them. I am afraid to list them.

Vladimir Solovyov: So they won’t be hounded?

Sergey Lavrov: Many of them hold very high posts in the European Union. They are good guys. I don’t want to give them up.

Vladimir Solovyov: Has it really become that bad?

Sergey Lavrov: I think so. We are “toxic” after all. I mean for them.

Vladimir Solovyov: Us? I think it’s the other way round: we are the only ones who follow their principles.

Sergey Lavrov: They think we are “toxic” but we don’t care. If they want cordial working relationships (President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the Foreign Ministry have said this many times), the foundation has to be mutual respect, not interfering in each other’s internal affairs, and cooperating on issues of mutual interest. Striking a balance between our interests is the only possible outcome of such talks, not merely our consent to their proposals.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do the personal attacks, insults and attempts to smear your family members get to you?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t read about it myself. Sometimes, a well-meaning person will draw my attention to it. For example, six or seven months ago I was shown a report (anonymously sourced as always) about an illegitimate son of mine who works in the Foreign Ministry’s facilities department.

Vladimir Solovyov: What a pleasant surprise!

Sergey Lavrov: But he doesn’t come to see his dad. Apparently, he makes good money.

Vladimir Solovyov: You are really fortunate to be able to take such a light and ironic attitude to it all. So, they don’t succeed because you don’t let it get to you?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think any member of the Government, not to mention the Foreign Minister, should let themselves get rattled. To be honest, I find it easy to deal with. But those who take it harder must keep their perfectly justified feelings to themselves.

As the old Hollywood saying goes, “Never let them see you sweat.”

Vladimir Solovyov: Thank you, Mr Lavrov.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you for a very interesting conversation.

Trump’s not-so-secret art of containing China

Trump’s not-so-secret art of containing China

January 16, 2021

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times.

It was hardly a secret throughout the Trump administration. Now, dying embers within sight, and with minimum fanfare, comes the declassification – virtually the whole document, minus a few redactions – of the US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific.

Why now, no less than 30 years before the usual, standard US declassification/public record protocols apply? Don’t expect an answer from Trump or from his National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.

O’Brien’s premise, presenting the declassification, is that, “Beijing is increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a ‘common destiny’ envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party.”

This is nonsense in multiple levels. The best Mandarin-English translation for China’s overarching strategy is “community with a shared future for humanity” – a Confucius/Marx crossover based on trade/connectivity and sustainable development.

No nation is pressured to surrender their “freedom and sovereignty” to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It’s a voluntary decision – otherwise over 130 nations would not go for it, including many in Europe. The strategy is not ideological; it’s based on trade. Moreover, China is already the top trade partner for the overwhelming majority of these nations.

Is Beijing trembling?

Since 2018 we were all familiar with the basic contours of the Trump administration’s “overarching strategic guidance” for the Indo-Pacific.

These are the Top 5 items – with no euphemistic softening:

– to maintain that sacrosanct US “primacy”, code for uncontested military power;

– promote the Quad (US, Japan, India, Australia);

– fully support the (failed) Hong Kong color revolution;

– demonize everything connected to BRI;

– and invest in “the rise of India”.

On the military front, things get way trickier: the imperative is to prevent Beijing, by all means necessary, from “dominating the first island chain” – that is, the island ring from the Japanese archipelago to Taiwan all the way to the northern Philippines and Borneo. Moreover, “primacy” should also be maintained in the “area beyond”.

So once again this is all about naval containment.

Chinese strategists obviously studied their Mahan and Spykman thoroughly – and understood that the US Navy would ultimately play their trump card as a naval embargo.

Thus the Chinese Heartland strategy to contain the US’s Rimland strategy: pipelines from Russia and Central Asia (energy supply chain) and BRI (trade). A neat combination of “escape from Malacca” (in terms of oil and gas supplies) and overland connectivity.

A graphic example is the importance of the southern sector of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In the long run, that offers Beijing, via Gwadar port, prime access to the Indian Ocean, bypassing Malacca. That can even be enhanced by upcoming Chinese investment in neighboring Chabahar port in Iran, in the Gulf Of Oman.

In contrast, US strategists advising the Trump administration, apart from not improving on Mahan and Spykman, completely ignored China’s economic pull all across Eurasia. They ignored the fact that scores of nations from Central to South and Southeast Asia (the ASEAN 10) would not sacrifice their trade/investment relations to the benefit of a Made in the Beltway “vision”.

The recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal all but buried the Indo-Pacific strategy.

As much as they are not reality-based, the core lineaments of the Indo-Pacific strategy are not bound to change much under Biden-Harris. They will be tweaked – in a “back to the future” manner. The Biden-Harris point man for China is bound to be none other than Kurt Campbell, the man who invented the “pivot to Asia” concept that was then embraced by Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State and Obama as President. Campbell now argues that emphasis on the sacrosanct “primacy” may be somewhat alleviated.

Is Beijing trembling? Hardly.

The 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party falls next July 23. Exactly one day before the declassification of Indo-Pacific, President Xi Jinping outlined his – and the CCP’s – vision for no less than the next three decades, culminating in the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2049.

So here’s Xi Top Three – in a nutshell.

– Keep calm and carry on, despite the ravaging effects of Covid-19, unrelenting Western – especially American – hostility, and the trials and tribulations of the crumbling US Empire.

– Focus on domestic development, in all areas.

– Focus on China’s priorities; then whatever happens the world outside will not be able to interfere. China’s priorities include solidifying its own “primacy” in the South China Sea while diversifying trade/development strategic options all along BRI.

It will certainly help that China’s GDP is bound to grow by almost 8% in 2021 – as estimated by IMF/World Bank. Astonishingly, if that’s the case GDP by the end of this year will reach the same level that pre-Covid Western forecasters were predicting by the end of 2019: 5% growth each year for the next two years. China may have grown roughly 2% in 2020, booming foreign trade included.

Goldman Sachs is branding the current economic environment “the Chinese phenomenon”. China remains the high-speed rail locomotive of global capitalism. It’s easy to notice which way scores of nations see the wind blowing when they compare it with what’s just been declassified.

Pompeo Cancels Final Trip Abroad after European Leaders Refuse to Meet With Him

Alahednews

Pompeo Cancels Final Trip Abroad after European Leaders Refuse to Meet With Him

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelled his Europe trip at the last minute on Tuesday after Luxembourg’s foreign minister and top European Union officials declined to meet with him, European and US diplomats familiar with the matter said.

The extraordinary snub of the top US diplomat, first reported by Reuters, came days after the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, an unprecedented attack on American democracy that stunned many world leaders and US allies.

Pompeo, a close ally of Trump, had sought to meet Jean Asselborn in Luxembourg, a small but wealthy NATO ally, before meeting EU leaders and the bloc’s top diplomat in Brussels, three people close to the planning told Reuters.

But the initial plan to go to Luxembourg, which had not been officially announced, was scrapped after officials there showed reluctance to grant Pompeo appointments, a diplomatic source said. The Brussels leg was still on until the last minute.

But the thin itinerary of Pompeo’s final visit to Brussels raised questions about the merit of the trip. There were no meetings on his schedule with EU officials or any public events at NATO. A third diplomatic source said allies were “embarrassed” by Pompeo after the violence in Washington last Wednesday that left five dead.

Trump encouraged his supporters at a rally earlier that day to march on the building that houses the Senate and the House of Representatives while lawmakers were certifying Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s Nov. 3 election victory. The Republican president claims, without evidence, that the election was stolen from him.

Pompeo condemned the violence but made no reference to the role that Trump’s baseless claims played in galvanizing the march on the Capitol.

Appalled by the violence, Luxembourg’s Asselborn had called Trump a “criminal” and a “political pyromaniac” on RTL Radio the next day.

Luxembourg’s foreign ministry confirmed the previously planned stop there was cancelled, but declined to give further details. The EU declined to comment.

The US State Department, in a statement, attributed the cancellation to transition work before Biden takes office on Jan. 20, even if Pompeo had been reluctant until recently to unequivocally recognize Biden’s win. The State Department declined further comment on European officials’ rejection of meetings with Pompeo.

In Brussels, Pompeo was due to have a private dinner with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday evening at Stoltenberg’s private residence, before meeting Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes, whose country is a NATO ally.

One of the sources said the lack of any public events at NATO was another reflection of European officials questioning the point of the trip. It was not immediately clear why Pompeo sought to go to Brussels so near to the end of Trump’s term.

The cold shoulder was a contrast with Pompeo’s previous visits to Brussels, which is home to NATO and EU headquarters, over the past three years, where he has given keynote speeches on US policy and met the EU’s chief executive, even as Europe balked at Trump’s foreign policy.

In 2018, Pompeo said in Brussels that Trump’s ‘America First’ policy was reshaping the post-World War Two system on the basis of sovereign states, not institutions such as the EU.

EU officials, who say they were exhausted by Trump’s unpredictability, are eager to build fresh ties with Biden.

One source, while explaining why Pompeo chose to remain in Washington, cited his eagerness to roll out planned foreign policy tasks until the end of the term and help keep the continuity of government.

For nearly three years, Pompeo proved a loyal executor of Trump’s unconventional style.

His tenure did not include obvious successes in such long-standing US foreign policy challenges as reining in the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, ending the US war in Afghanistan or containing an increasingly assertive China.

Nevertheless on Jan. 1, Pompeo kicked off a daily Twitter thread, saying the United States was “much safer” today than four years ago thanks to what he saw as the foreign policy accomplishments of the Trump administration.

He said he would showcase the results. “Over the coming days, I’m going to lay out the mission set, the huge wins, personal stories, and a lot more. Just me, Mike,” he said.

The tweets, along with some of his foreign trips, have been largely seen as part of his bid to lay the groundwork for his much-anticipated 2024 run for the Republican nomination for president.

Israel’s Genocide in Gaza Goes Uninterrupted, But Is Europe Finally Taking Notice?

By Miko Peled

Source

A long and cruel siege, constant Israeli attacks resulting in the killing of countless civilians, destruction of homes and infrastructure, extreme poverty, and trauma remain the daily bread of Palestinians in Gaza.

Areport published by the United Nations in 2018 stated that by the year 2020 the Gaza Strip would be uninhabitable. It said specifically that, “the United Nations has stated that Gaza may well be unlivable by 2020.” The report emphasized also that “Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967, drew attention to Israel’s persistent non-cooperation with the Special Rapporteur’s mandate. As with his two predecessors, Israel has not granted him entry to visit the country, nor the Occupied Palestinian territory.” Anyone who thinks that the Gaza Strip was liveable prior to 2020 is out of their mind.

The Gaza Strip has been a humanitarian disaster since it was artificially created in the aftermath of the 1948 Zionist campaign of ethnic cleansing. It was created primarily as a holding place for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians driven off of their lands by Zionist terrorists in southern Palestine. Impoverished and homeless, these refugees were forced to survive on handouts, and today they make up more than half of the Gaza Strip’s 2.2 million inhabitants. Considering the high standard of living Jewish citizens of Israel in that part of the country enjoy, living as they do on the very lands from which the Palestinians were exiled, the “Strip” was never “liveable.”

Now 2020 has come and gone, the United Nations report is shelved, and not a thing has changed. Over two million people remain imprisoned by Israel in the Gaza Strip. They suffer from a lack of the most basic needs like drinkable water, electricity, medicine, and nutrition. Israel also denies them basic human rights while Israeli Jews living minutes away enjoy a standard of living that is, by any measure, enviable with full access to the finest health care, nutrition, and clean water.

A European delegation comes to visit

A delegation of European representatives recently visited Gaza, yet Europeans have not used their influence, political or otherwise, to end Israeli violations of human rights and international law.

It would not have taken much for EU representatives to see the devastation, poverty, and severe shortages experienced by the people of Gaza. All one needs to do is drive through the Gaza Strip to see the evidence, and yet no change seems to be forthcoming from the Europeans.

Gaza Europe
A family prepares tea in a slum on the outskirts of Khan Younis Refugee Camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 25, 2020. Khalil Hamra | AP

In fact, according to the Israeli press, Germany just announced that in order to provide Israel with a European made vaccine for Covid-19, “Germany used its influence in the EU to bend the rule that a European-produced vaccination would be given to European countries first. Germany justified the decision in part through its “historical commitment to supporting Israel.” Knowing full well that millions of Palestinians are denied health care and that the spread of Covid-19 among Palestinians is alarming, no such commitment was made to assist the Palestinians in their fight against the deadly disease..

Complicity

The comfort that Europeans display as they cooperate with the State of Israel, even as they claim to be champions of human rights, amounts to complicity. According to the Geneva Convention, particularly the Rome Statute, European cooperation with Israel constitutes complicity in genocide. When one looks at the definition of genocide and compares it with the actions of Israel in Gaza, it is quite clear that the Zionist State is engaged in genocide.


Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

Article II

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group;

Three of the five examples given here are constantly committed by Israel in Gaza. Furthermore, Article II of the Genocide Convention “contains a narrow definition of the crime of genocide, which includes two main elements,” one of which is the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.” Israeli attacks on Gaza for over seven decades  clearly demonstrate that they are part of a larger strategy and that there is clear intent to bring about the destruction of a people.

According to a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the issue of complicity with genocide is quite clear. “Prior jurisprudence has defined the term complicity as aiding and abetting, instigating, and procuring […] Complicity to commit genocide in Article 2(3)(e) refers to all acts of assistance or encouragement that have substantially contributed to, or have had a substantial effect on, the completion of the crime of genocide.”

The report defined the following as elements of complicity in genocide:

  • “complicity by procuring means, such as weapons, instruments or any other means, used to commit genocide, with the accomplice knowing that such means would be used for such a purpose;
  • complicity by knowingly aiding or abetting a perpetrator of a genocide in the planning or enabling acts thereof;

According to that definition, both the EU states and the United States are complicit in the crime of genocide.

Human Rights Watch maintains that Israel has, “entrenched discriminatory systems that treat Palestinians unequally.”  It “involves systematic rights abuses, including collective punishment, routine use of excessive lethal force against protesters, and prolonged administrative detention without charge or trial for hundreds.”

It continues to state that Israel, “builds and supports illegal settlements […]expropriating Palestinian land and imposing burdens on Palestinians but not on settlers, restricting their access to basic services and making it nearly impossible for them to build.”

Regarding the Gaza Strip, HRW writes that “Israel’s more than decade-long closure of Gaza severely restricts the movement of people and goods, with devastating humanitarian impact.”

What constitutes aid?

The first order of business needs to be the immediate and unconditional lifting of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007. A no-fly zone monitored by UN or European naval forces must be imposed on all Israeli aircraft. In addition to these measures, humanitarian relief must be made available to the people of Gaza without delay.

Israel must be sanctioned and all military and economic cooperation with Israel must be stopped until such time that it complies with international law and ends all its violations of human rights. This should be followed by setting a date for free and fair one person, one vote elections in all of historic Palestine. Then processes must be put in place for the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, and funding must be set aside for payment of reparations and restitution.

A girl walks next to a donkey carte loaded with rocks on the outskirts of Khan Younis Refugee Camp, in the southern Gaza, Nov. 25, 2020. Khalil Hamra |AP

Israel must also be held accountable for its violations of international law since 1948 and Israeli politicians, as well as military commanders, must be investigated and charged with war crimes.

European countries are fully aware of the reality that exists in Gaza. A long and cruel siege, constant Israeli attacks resulting in the killing of countless civilians, destruction of homes and infrastructure, extreme poverty, and trauma are the daily bread of Palestinians in Gaza.

The reality in Gaza is no secret and Israeli violations of international law are well known. However, European governments are in the habit of seeing colonized and formerly colonized people as needing aid and doing little to provide the aid. The aid they provide is sometimes monetary and sometimes humanitarian in the form of food items, but rarely is it sufficient. In the case of the Gaza Strip, real political action is called for, but it is not clear if and when the EU will be willing to act.

Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

December 22, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

The referendum on Britain’s vote to Remain or Leave the EU – Brexit – has raised deeper issues than simply whether or not the UK retains its European membership. The real issue is that of the whole Transatlantic bloc from Seattle to Warsaw, its, culture, institutions, politics, and economics has also been undergoing deep structural changes – not necessarily for the good.

The victory of the Leave majority in the first UK Brexit referendum in 2018 and a rerun, which should never have been allowed, of the Remain campaign in the general election of 2019 – both in the face of a massive establishment propaganda blitzkrieg was quite remarkable. The centrist coalition of the centre-right Conservative business class and the still deeply Blairite and third-wayist faction of the overwhelming majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the Trades Union Congress (TUC and most of its affiliated unions) and tens of thousands of rank-and-file woke militants, threw everything but the kitchen sink into their campaign but lost. But even then, the issues had not been settled – that is for the self-appointed, London based, middle-class, parvenues who imagined themselves as carrying the torch for civilization. After what was a definitive verdict – which in both instances was a ‘NO’ to the continued membership of Britain in the EU – there was a vicious counter-attack. It started from the premise that EU membership is an absolute good, the absolute truth, and that any opposition is racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynist … and so on and so forth. The fuddy-duddy notion of national sovereignty was of course considered completely de rigueur. Therefore, there is not, nor can there be any legitimate critique of the EU. Argument closed: no engagement or discourse on the subject, just hysterical ranting, and mass cancellation. Sound familiar?

In fact the EU before, during, and after the referendum was hardly the Shangri La imagined by the ‘Remainer’ constituency. At that time, their political and cultural love object was the EU of Manuel Barroso, ex-Maoist, ex-President of the European Commission, now working for Goldman Sachs, Merkel’s pet Russophobe, Donald Tusk, and not forgetting Jean-Claude Juncker, at that time President of the European Commission, who was incidentally involved in a tax avoidance scandal in Luxembourg where he was one-time Prime Minister, and then a litany of other self-serving political mediocrities on the make. The EU is also an economic dead zone (particularly in the peripheral areas of Eastern and Southern Europe) with unemployment rates higher than the UK and growth rates lower.

A veritable economic and political Shangri-la? Yeah, right. Like Lord Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen* the Remainers are putting the telescope to their blind eye: I see no economic and political dead-zone! Maybe they should have gone to Specsavers!

These sentiments are not just conservative, they are downright reactionary and anti-democratic. And the ex-centre-left has played an insidious part in this development. The glaring contrast between the people’s vote for leaving and the vote of the PLP and TUC institutions which supposedly represent them, for remaining, prompted even left observers to conclude that the people, like sheep, had gone astray and handed racist xenophobes a shameful victory. This was the liberal centre-left’s great Brechtian moment when ‘the people should be dissolved and a new one elected.’ The famous German playwright, Bertolt Brecht, was of course making a sardonic comment on the actions of the East German Communist regime in 1953 when it suppressed the workers uprising. It bears a striking similarity to the response by our own neo-totalitarians in 2016. Additionally, the procrastination of the establishment Remainers, which was slowing down the whole exit project, can be thought of as the establishment’s Augustinian moment. St. Augustine ‘’God give me chastity and celibacy, but not yet.’’ the Remainer-speak version being God give me Article 50 but not yet.

In sociological terms the upper-echelons of the liberal class who think that they have the divine right to set the political agenda, represent a sub-hierarchy below the real policy makers and shakers. The 20% beneath the 1%. They tend to be ensconced in the media, academia, professions such as law and medicine, middle-management, financial planners, economists, computer programmers, aerospace designers, and the entertainment business. Quite a number, particularly in business, government, both local and central, advertising, telemarketing, public relations, could be considered to be ‘bullshit jobs’ (in the late) David Graeber’s insightful observation. As a whole this particular social and occupational stratum, look up rather than look down, they serve power not the people. They are Orwell’s Outer party in his 1984 novel, sandwiched between the Inner party and the Proles. Knowing which side their bread is buttered on they identify with and support the Power Elite.

An avant garde leading from the rear, yes. Trahison des Clercs, most certainly but more politically and culturally homogeneous today than as was once the case.

This shell of a once fighting left (now unrecognisable from their previous political and ideological moorings) now embraces the culture of identity but excludes the entity of class. As a result poverty has become the P-word, and the poor the pariahs of neoliberal dystopic utopia. When we talk about class in a Marxist, materialist sense, we are talking about a relation of power, specifically about who does and who doesn’t have power to shape society. Identity politics makes this conflict of interests in society invisible. Neoliberal economics, however, is quite simply class war. It has advanced in part because identity politics depoliticized the public. Is it mere coincidence that the melange of post-Marxism, identity politics, and neoliberal economics saw the light in the same post-sixties decades? Together, they form the heart of the reaction, which is the take-back by the economic elite in the last four decades of every gain the fighting left loosed from the fist of capital before and since World War II. The rapacity of contemporary capitalism is enabled by the weakness, dishonesty, and cowardice of the flaccid and collaborationist left.

On the American side of the pond the same (albeit worse) diseased and morbid social tendencies began to emerge from a decaying body-politic circa 2001 and maybe even before, but the 9/11 was the pinnacle, which was of course no accident. For one of the persistent strands in American political life is a cultish extremism that approaches fascism. This was given expression and  reinforced during the two terms of Barack Obama. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being.” said Obama, who expanded America’s favourite military pastime, bombing, and death squads (“special operations”) as no other president has done since the Cold War.

The American political and social-theorist, Christopher Lasch, now unfortunately no longer with us, succinctly identified the political/cultural shifts in the American polity in the late twentieth-century. (1) America has undergone a profound structural, cultural, and political transmutation: it is not the masses or working class, so much as an emerging sub-elite of professional and managerial types who constitute the greatest threat to democracy, according to Lasch. The new cognitive sub-elite is made up of what Robert Reich called “symbolic analysts’. This middle-class occupational stratum – in the British rather than the American sense – traffics in information and manipulates words and numbers for a living. They live in an abstract world in which information and expertise are the most valuable commodities. Since the market for these assets is international, the privileged class is more concerned with the global system than with regional, national, or even local communities. In fact, members of the new sub-elite tend to be estranged from their communities and their fellow citizens. “They send their children to private schools, insure themselves against medical emergencies … and hire private security guards to protect themselves against the mounting violence against them,” Lasch writes. In effect, they have removed themselves from the common life and have moved offshore.

These tendencies, however, have been observable even before Lasch’s observations. Way back in the middle to late 1950s, the great American theorist C Wright Mills, produced powerful polemics concerning the structure and direction in which the Republic was headed. These tendencies were recognised as early as the 1950s. (2)

He argued:

‘’We cannot assume today that men (sic) must in the last resort be governed by their own consent. Among the means of power that now prevail is the power to manage and manipulate the consent of men … and many people are neither radical nor reactionary, they are simply inactionary. If we accept the Greeks definition of an idiot as an altogether private man then we must conclude that many citizens of mass societies are indeed idiots … History making may well go by default, men may well abdicate its continual making and so merely float along as corks in a bottle of an Ocean drift. The implication of this, however, is that history will indeed be made – but by narrow elite circles without effective responsibility to those who must try to survive the consequences of their decisions and of their defaults.’ (3)

A more recent American social critic, Morris Berman, has also been cognisant of the cultural decline and disintegration of America; indeed it would have been difficult to miss. His caustic analysis on the current state of American Culture – The Twilight of American Culture (4) – makes particularly compelling reading for the English-speaking world. Mr. Berman argues provocatively and incisively that the direction of American civilization is locked into a path which will lead nowhere except into its own demise. The American empire has now borne witness to the passage of its most fruitful and triumphant years and its approaching the future – if it hasn’t already got there – and a period of social and political chaos from which there doesn’t appear to be an exit, or at least a controlled exit. So the controlled exit is about the best route on offer, though only 50/50 at best.

‘’For when a population becomes distracted by trivia, and when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of ‘baby-talk’, when in short, a people become an audience and their public business becomes a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture death is a near (extremely near) possibility.’’(5)

CONCLUSIONS:

The fault-lines, stresses and cleavages in the Transatlantic bloc are becoming increasingly clear both within nations and between nations. In Europe the exit of Britain from the EU and Europe, and the possible defections of Hungary, Poland and Italy. In the United States the strain on the Republic with an increasing and assertive emergence of the South and possible mid-west as well as the drift of coastal America away from flyover America. It could be said that these are simply speculative guesses, but these future possibilities are a little more than simply straws in the wind. For better or worse, big changes are on the way.

Interesting times.

NOTES

(1) Christopher Lasch – The Revolt of the Elites – published posthumously in 1994. The title of the book was taken from the name of a book “the Revolt of the Masses” by the elite theorist Jose Ortega Y Gasset in 1930.

(2) The Power Elite, 1959 and The Sociological Imagination 1956.

(3) C Wright Mills – The Sociological Imagination – Ibid – pps. 51, 195

* The naval Battle of Copenhagen (1801) occurred during the War of the Second Coalition when a British naval fleet commanded by Admiral Sir Hyde Parker defeated a Danish fleet anchored just off Copenhagen. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson led the main attack. During the battle, he famously is reputed to have disobeyed his senior officer, Sir Hyde Parker’s, order to withdraw by holding the telescope to his blind eye to look at the signals from Parker. The signals had given Nelson permission to withdraw at his discretion. Nelson then turned to his flag captain, Thomas Foley, and said ‘You know, Foley, I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes.’ He raised the telescope to his blind eye saying, ‘I really do not see the signal.’ Copenhagen is often considered to be Nelson’s hardest-fought victory.

(4) Morris Berman – The Twilight of American Culture – published in 2000.

(5) Berman – Ibid., -Introduction.

Authorities Discover Large Quantities of Weapons Hidden by Terrorists in Southern Syria

  ARABI SOURI 

Large quantity of weapons and munition discovered in southern Syria

Syrian law enforcement authorities discovered weapons and munition in large quantities left behind by Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups in the southern region of the country, the Syrian news agency SANA reported.

Thanks to the essential help of the locals, the law enforcement agencies and with the cooperation of the Syrian Army units discovered a stash of heavy, medium, and light weapons and munition, some of which are Israeli-made hidden in former command centers of the terrorist groups that used to operate in the southern Syrian provinces.

A military source stated that the seizures that were found in the headquarters of the terrorist organizations included dozens of automatic rifles, Steyr sniper rifles, 23 mm and 12.7 mm machine guns, defensive and attack bombs, shoulder-fired missiles, and RPG shells of various calibers, including the vacuum, the explosive and the tandem to deal with armored and fortified targets, in addition to various ammunition, including Israeli-made, and quantities of light ammunition and machine guns, the quantities of which exceeded 300 boxes and with more than 230 thousand rounds.

https://videopress.com/embed/JtgoRJjK?preloadContent=metadata&hd=1The

video is also available on BitChute.

Syrian authorities and the Syrian Arab Army Engineering Corps have discovered quantities of weapons and munition in all parts of the country liberated from terrorist groups, the quantities discovered so far are enough to arm the national armies of a number of countries combined.

Due to its enormous quantities and lack of storage places, most of these weapons and munition are constantly being destroyed by the Engineering Corps in the SAA.

The author of this post is seriously surprised by the generosity of the taxpayers in the NATO member state countries and some of the rulers of the Gulfies who supplied all these arms to ‘non-state actors’ just to ‘promote democracy and free speech’ in Syria, the fact they prioritized funding terrorists of Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups and arming them to their teeth with advanced weapons over their own infrastructure and investment in their healthcare systems and wellbeing of their senior and children citizens express the selflessness of the people of the USA and western Europe countries, contrary to the previously common impression of their stinginess.

Weapons are of the most expensive commodities, add to it the logistics needed to ship them across a number of countries and also the satellite communication devices and open networks. How can the Syrian people ever pay back the people of Germany, the USA, the UK, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and all the others for their generosity? The people of those countries must be very lucky their victims in Syria are of the oldest continuous civilization and are not evil.

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China’s Economy of Peace

China’s Economy of Peace

December 14, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

In the context of China’s webinar on 14 December 2020, on the topic of “China’s New Development Paradigm and High-Quality Belt and Road Cooperation”, organized by the China Center for Contemporary World Studies, International Department of CPC Central Committee and the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, my presentation was on China’s Economy of Peace.
—–
China, about a decade ago, has deliberately embarked on an Economy of Peace. A strategy that China pursues, unimpressed by constant aggression from the west, which are mostly led by the United States. Is it perhaps this Chinese steadfast, non-aggressive way of constant forward-creation and embracing more and more allies on her way – that has made China such a success story? Overcoming violence by non-violence is engrained in 5000 years of Chinese history.

Despite relentlessly repeated assertions by the west, China’s objective is not to conquer the world or to “replace” the United States as the new empire. Quite to the contrary. The alliance China-Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is seeking a multipolar world, with more justice for all – i. e. fairer trade in the sense of “win-win”, where all parties are benefitting equally. This is also a policy pursued by the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, the 15-country trade agreement signed at the 37th ASEAN Summit – 11 November 2020, in Vietnam, as well as by President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by the President himself.

China does not coerce cooperation – but offers peaceful cooperation. In 2014, Mr. Xi traveled to Germany to offer Madame Merkel for Germany to become – at that time – the western most link to the BRI, or the New Silk Road. This would have been an opening for all of Europe. However, Madame Merkel, having to follow Washington’s mandates – did not respond positively. President Jinping returned to Beijing, no hard feelings. And China continued her persistent course of connecting the countries of our Mother Earth with transport infrastructure, inter-country industrial ventures, education and research projects, as well as cultural exchanges to enrich the world – all the while respecting individual countries’ monetary and political sovereignty.

Many country leaders from Africa and the Global South in general express openly their contentment and satisfaction to have China as a partner and for dealing with China on the basis of equals. With the west, especially the US, there is bullying and coercion, unequal contracts, and often total disrespect for legally signed contracts.
——

Meanwhile, the west lives in a permanent state of hypocrisy. It bashes China – actually without any reason, other than that the dying Anglo-Saxon-American empire mandates it to its partners, especially the European NATO allies – under threats of sanctions. Unfortunately, spineless Europe mostly complies.

Yet, having outsourced – for economic and profit reasons – most production processes to reliable, efficient and cheaper-labor China, the west depends very much on China for its supply chains. The covid-crisis, first wave, has clearly shown how dependent the west is on goods produced in China from sophisticated electronic equipment to pharmaceuticals.

As an example: About 90% or more of antibiotics or ingredients for antibiotics are Made in China. Similar percentages apply to other vital western imports. – But China does not “punish” or sanction. China creates and moves forward offering her alliance to the rest of the world.

China has also developed a new digital international Renminbi (RMB) or Yuan that may soon be rolled out for use of monetary transactions – of all kinds, including transfers, trade and even as a reserve currency. The yuan is already an ever-stronger reserve currency. This trend will be further enhanced through the RCEP and BRI.

Of course, the US is afraid that their dollar-hegemony they have built up since WWII with Fiat money backed by nothing, may suffer as international trading currency which the Anglo-American banking cartel practically imposed on the world, will come to an end; and the US-dollar’s standing as a reserve currency may rapidly decline.

And yes, the yuan will gradually replace the US dollar as reserve currency – and this – because countries’ treasurers realize that the yuan is a stable, gold-backed currency, also supported by a solid economy – the only economy of any importance in the world that will grow in the covid-year 2020, by perhaps as much as 3.5%, while western economies will falter badly. Predictions are dire for the US and Europe, between 12% (EU predictions) and up to 30% / 35% (US FED prediction).

The US dollar and its dominion over the international transfer system through SWIFT – has been used massively for sanctioning non-compliant countries, including totally illegal confiscation of assets – even countries reserve assets – case in point is Venezuela.

Escaping this coercive dollar dominion is the dream of many countries. Therefore, trading, investing and dealing with the Chinese currency, will be a welcome opportunity for many sovereign nations.
—-
China’s economic achievements and forward-looking perspectives may be summarized in two major events or global programs, the just signed free trade agreement with 14 countries – the 10 ASEAN countries, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, altogether, including China 15 countries. The so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was in negotiations during eight years – and achieved to pull together a group of countries for free trade, of some 2.2 billion people, commanding about 30% of the world’s GDP. This is a never before reached agreement in size, value and tenor.

In addition to the largest such trade agreement in human history, it also links to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or One Belt, One Road (OBOR), which in itself comprises already more than 130 countries and more than 30 international organizations. Also, China and Russia have a longstanding strategic partnership, containing bilateral agreements that too enter into this new trade fold – plus the countries of the Central Asia Economic Union (CAEU), consisting mostly of former Soviet Republics, are also integrated into this eastern trade block.

The myriad of agreements and sub-agreements between Asian-Pacific countries that will cooperate with RCEP, is bound together by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai as an intergovernmental organization, composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO is little known and little talked-about in the west.

The purpose of the SCO is to ensure security and maintain stability across the vast Eurasian region, join forces to counteract emerging challenges and threats, and enhance trade, as well as cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

Much of the funding for RCEP and BRI projects may come in the form of low-interest loans from China’s Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and other Chinese and participating countries’ national funding sources. In the hard times emerging from the covid crisis, many countries may need grant assistance to be able to recover as quickly as possible from their huge socioeconomic losses, created by the pandemic. In this sense, it is likely that the new Silk Road may support a special “Health Road” across the Asian Continent.

The RCEP may, as “byproduct”, integrate the huge Continent of Eurasia that spans all the way from western Europe to what is called Asia and covering the Middle East as well as North Africa, of some 55 million square kilometers (km2), and a population of about 5.4 billion people, close to 70% of the world population – See map (Wikipedia).

The crux of the RCEP agreement’s trade deals is that they will be carried out in local currencies and in yuan – no US-dollars. The RCEP is a massive instrument for dedollarizing, primarily the Asia-Pacific Region, and gradually the rest of the world.

Much of the BRI infrastructure investments, or New Silk Road, may be funded by other currencies than the US-dollar. China’s new digital Renminbi (RMB) or yuan may soon become legal tender for international payments and transfers, and will drastically reduce the use of the US-dollar.

The US-dollar is already in massive decline. When some 20-25 years ago about 90% of all worldwide held reserve-assets were denominated in US-dollars, this proportion has shrunk by today to below 60% – and keeps declining. The emerging international RMB / yuan, together with a RCEP- and BRI-strengthened Chinese economy, may further contribute to a dedollarization, as well as dehegemonization of the United States in the world. And as said before, the international digital RMB / yuan may progressively also be replacing the US-dollar, as well as euro reserves in countries’ coffers around the globe. The US-dollar may eventually return to be just a local US-currency, as it should be.

Under China’s philosophy, the unilateral world may transform into a multi-polar world. The RCEP and New Silk Road combination are rapidly pursuing this noble objective, a goal that will bring much more equilibrium into the world.

Maybe for a few years more to come, the west, led by the US – and always backed by the Pentagon and NATO, may not shy away from threatening countries participating in China’s projects, but to no avail. Under Tao philosophy, China will move forward with her partners, like steadily flowing water, constantly creating, avoiding obstacles, in pursuit of her honorable goal – a world in Peace with a bright common future.

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

We Are The Terrorists

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source

Yemeni children 49c1e

The Trump administration is reportedly close to moving the Houthi rebels in Yemen onto its official list of designated terrorist organizations with the goal of choking them off from money and resources. The head of the UN’s World Food Program along with many other experts caution that this designation will prolong the horrific war which has claimed over a quarter million lives and create an impenetrable barrier of red tape stopping humanitarian aid from getting to the Yemeni people.

The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war between the Houthis and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition, mostly from what it calls “indirect causes”. Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “the worst famine the world has seen for decades”.

When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes aimed at making the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen so weak and miserable that they break.

In other words, the US and its allies have been helping Saudi Arabia deliberately kill children and other civilians on mass scale in order to achieve a political goal. Which would of course be a perfect example of any standard definition of terrorism.

We are the terrorists. Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, France and every other nation which has facilitated the horrific mass atrocity in Yemen–this tight globe-spanning power alliance is a terrorist organization the likes of which the world has never seen before. The unfathomably savage and bloodthirsty US empire designating the Houthis as a terrorist organization is the least funny joke that has ever been told.

We are the terrorists. I say “we” instead of our governments because if we are honest with ourselves, we as a civilian population are complicit in this slaughter. The horrors in Yemen are without question the worst thing that is happening in the world right now, yet they comprise barely a blip in our social consciousness. The overwhelming majority of us have seen the pictures and videos of starving Yemeni children, thought something along the lines of “Oh a famine, that’s so sad” and gone back to thinking about sports or whatever other insipid nonsense occupies most of our attention.

We are the terrorists. Yes it is true that we have been propagandized into our complicity with this terrorism and if the news media were doing its purported job Yemen would be front and center in our attention, but we are still complicit. We are still participating in it, still living in a society that is woven of the fabric of slaughter and brutality without rising up and using the power of our numbers to force a change. Just because you are unaware that you sleep on a bed of butchered children doesn’t mean you’re not lying in it.

We are the terrorists. But we don’t need to be.

We can begin waking up together. Waking up our friends and neighbors, spreading consciousness of what’s going on, raising awareness of the horrors our governments are perpetrating in Yemen and in other nations in the name of imperialist domination, helping each other see through the veils of propaganda to how much life and how many resources are being spent on inflicting unspeakable acts of terror upon our world instead of benefiting humanity.

The US government could force an end to the horrors in Yemen almost immediately if it really wanted to. If maintaining unipolar hegemony were suddenly advanced by giving the Houthis victory in Yemen instead of fighting to ensure Washington-aligned rule, the Saudis would withdraw and the war would be over within days. We could make this happen if we could spread enough awareness of the reality of what’s happening in Yemen.

Break the silence on Yemen. Pressure Biden to fulfil his campaign pledge to end the war which was initiated under the Obama-Biden administration. Oppose US imperialism. Weaken public trust in the mass media which refuse to give us a clear picture of what’s going on in the world. Help people realize that their perception of reality is being continually warped and distorted by the powerful.

We end our role in the terrorism of the empire by awakening the citizens of that empire to its acts of terror.

The ‘European Democracy Action Plan’ Risks Sanctioning EU Citizens For Exercising Free Speech

Source

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

3 DECEMBER 2020

The

The long-waited “European Democracy Action Plan” has finally been unveiled, but its proposal to sanction alleged purveyors of so-called “disinformation” is extremely worrisome because people (including EU citizens) might have their fundamental rights and freedoms violated if they’re punished for publishing and/or sharing content that’s been arbitrarily flagged as such, and the Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency’s ambiguity about whether this will be imposed against publicly financed Russian international media outlets like RT and Sputnik risks the possibility that their EU employees might be sanctioned for their professional affiliations too.

The EDAP’s Supposed Principles

The “European Democracy Action Plan” (EDAP) has just been unveiled, but instead of reassuring everyone about the bloc’s commitment to human rights in its fight against so-called “disinformation”, it dangerously risks violating them by proposing that alleged purveyors of such arbitrarily flagged information products be sanctioned. The document starts off innocuously enough by explaining the need to “promote free and fair elections and democratic participation; support free and independent media; and counter disinformation”, all of which it’s claimed will be done “in full respect of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as in national and international human rights rules.” Regarding the aforementioned Charter, they note how “media freedom and media pluralism” are “enshrined” in it. The EDAP also condemns the fact that “Smear campaigns are frequent and overall intimidation and politically motivated interference have become commonplace” when describing the threats to journalists’ safety, some of which they note are “even initiated by political actors, in Europe and beyond”, which “can lead to self-censorship and reduce the space for public debate on important issues.”

The Definition Of “Disinformation”

This makes it all the more surprising that the EDAP later goes on to propose sanctions against those who repeatedly spread “disinformation”, which they define as “false or misleading content that is spread with an intention to deceive or secure economic or political gain and which may cause public harm”. Although they promise that this will be done “in full respect of fundamental rights and freedoms”, no transparent mechanism is suggested for explaining how they determine the offending individual’s intent for sharing supposed “disinformation”, nor is there any mention of an appeals process for those who are unfairly targeted for the same political reasons that the EDAP’s authors earlier condemned. The document notes that the experiences of the European External Action Service’s (EEAS) East Stratcom Task Force (which, while not mentioned in the text, is the combined foreign and defense ministry of the EU that also runs the defamatory “EU vs. Disinformation” portal which regards any non-mainstream “politically incorrect” viewpoint as Russian and/or Chinese “disinformation”) will play a role in this process, which is extremely disturbing because of how politically motivated that structure’s determinations are.

A Dystopian Task Force For Stifling Free Speech

The EEAS East Stratcom Task Force actually represents everything that the EDAP earlier said that it’s against. To channel the document’s own words, “Smear campaigns are frequent and overall intimidation and politically motivated interference have become commonplace” as evidenced by their hit piece in December 2019 against me personally and occasional “debunking” of OneWorld’s factually sourced analyses (which are personal interpretations of the facts and not representative of a “chain of command from the Kremlin” like they libelously wrote without any evidence whatsoever other than circumstantial speculation). Their labeling of the site as “being a new edition to the pantheon of Moscow-based disinformation outlets” proves that they’ve arbitrarily concluded that the intent of its authors such as myself is spread “disinformation”, which the EDAP defines as “false or misleading content that is spread with an intention to deceive or secure economic or political gain and which may cause public harm”. I never had any such intent since the purpose in sharing my analyses is solely to stimulate “debate on important public issues”, which is a personal mission statement that’s actually in accordance with what the EDAP purportedly says that it wants to protect.

EU vs. Disinformation” Or “EU + Disinformation”?

From my experience being defamed by the EEAS East Stratcom Task Force’s “EU vs. Disinformation” project, I have no confidence in its capabilities to make independent and accurate determinations but rather suspect that it’s a political instrument wielded by the EU’s foreign and defense ministries to intimidate those who share “politically incorrect” interpretations of “important public issues”. The EDAP says that its anti-disinformation proposals “do not seek to and cannot interfere with people’s right to express opinions or to restrict access to legal content or limit procedural safeguards including access to judicial remedy.” Nevertheless, my right to express my opinion is being infringed upon after my work was defamed as “disinformation” (importantly without anyone from that platform ever making an attempt to contact me beforehand even on Twitter despite them referring to my account there and thus being aware of it prior to the publication of their hit piece), and I have no access to “judicial remedy” after what they’ve done. Based on what the EDAP proposes pertaining to sanctions against alleged purveyors of “disinformation”, OneWorld, its media partners, myself, and/or the other contributors including those who are EU citizens might possibly have such costs unfairly imposed upon them.

Cracking Down On EU Citizens

Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova ominously told the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) “in an interview to coincide” with Thursday’s release of the EDAP that “sanctions will should [sic] follow the EU’s cybersanction regime, which was used for the first time this year to freeze assets and introduce visa bans on offenders — primarily Russian, Chinese, and North Korean citizens and companies — that have attacked the bloc.” Just as equally disturbing was that “she didn’t want to specify at the moment (whether Russian media companies such as RT and Sputnik can be targeted in the future), but added that ‘it can be governmental or nongovernmental actors, whoever will be identified, using very good evidence, that they are systematic producers or promoters of disinformation.’” This confirms what I feared when I read the EDAP, namely that individuals employed by those two companies (including EU citizens among them), as well as people such as myself dangerously defamed by the EEAS East Stratcom’s Task Force and others for allegedly being part of a Russian state “disinformation” conspiracy, might one day wake up to find themselves sanctioned by the EU.

EDAP’s Ambiguities Must Be Immediately Addressed

In order to sincerely abide by its stated principles to respect people’s freedoms, the EDAP must be amended to remove any ambiguities which could allow for the sanctioning of individual people, especially those who might even be EU citizens. After all, its “EU vs. Disinformation” “watchdog” functions more as a politically driven attack dog as proven by my personal experience of having been defamed by them (made all the incriminating on their part because no attempt was made to contact me for comment on the same Twitter account that they wrote about in their hit piece before publishing it). Everyone has the right to freely express their views even if they’re “politically incorrect”, and it’s practically impossible for a nebulous structure representing the entire bloc’s foreign and defense ministry to confidently determine someone’s “intention to deceive or secure economic or political gain and which may cause public harm” whenever they publish, share, or tag someone under such arbitrarily flagged information products. Nobody can be confident in the EU’s ability to combat legitimate instances of “disinformation” when that defamatory label is casually thrown around with reckless abandon without considering the life-changing consequences that it could have for the victims like myself.

Media Literacy Is The Solution To “Disinformation”

The EDAP had it right near the end of the document when it proposed improving everyone’s media literacy like I earlier suggested over the summer after being victimized by a different defamation attack. Instead of violating people’s rights and especially those who might be EU citizens, the bloc should prioritize media literacy in order to cultivate a well-informed populace capable of arriving at their own conclusions about the various information products that they encounter. Falsely labeling something “disinformation” just because a government superbureaucracy like the EEAS can’t tolerate the fact that someone is peacefully sharing a dissident political opinion in line with their UN-enshrined human right to do so seriously discredits the bloc as a whole and raises questions about its stated intentions. Jourova herself said in a speech on the day that the EDAP was unveiled that “We do not want to create a ministry of truth. Freedom of speech is essential and I will not support any solution that undermines it”, yet that very same document that she was promoting does exactly that when it comes to my and others’ freedom of speech, especially those who are EU citizens whether casually involved in what’s wrongly described as “disinformation” or employees of foreign media companies.

Concluding Thoughts

Sanctions are never the solution to combating so-called “disinformation”, media literacy is, as the former is akin to the same state intimidation that the EDAP purports to be against while the latter is proof of confidence in people’s capabilities to independently arrive at their own conclusions. Only a “ministry of truth” would dare to sanction people, including its own citizens (however that would work out in practice despite potentially being illegal under the EU’s own laws since its people’s assets and freedom of movement can’t be seized/restricted without court order), for exercising their freedom of speech by sharing “politically incorrect” interpretations (analyses) of the facts. Quite hypocritically, some in the EU claim that Russia is a “dictatorship”, yet Moscow hasn’t threatened to sanction foreign media outlets, foreign commentators, and even its own citizens through asset seizures and/or travel restrictions for sharing views that contradict the Kremlin’s. In fact, judging by the EDAP itself and Jourova’s ominous hints in her interview with RFE/RL, it can be said that the EU will be much less democratic than Russia if it goes through with its “disinformation” sanctions proposal, thus turning the bloc into a modern-day Soviet Union when it comes suppressing freedom of speech and peaceful dissent.

US Back to ‘Normal’ Imperialism

U.S. Army soldiers prepare to clear and secure a building during exercise Hammer Strike at the Udairi Range Complex near Camp Buehring, Kuwait

Sputnik

By Finian Cunningham

13:09 GMT 24.11.2020

The next US administration is taking shape with President-elect Joe Biden naming his picks to top cabinet posts and national security. It heralds a return to “normal” US imperialism and militarism. That is something to dread not celebrate, as American and European media would have us believe.

The incoming Democrat president, who is due to be inaugurated on January 20, is cheerfully reassuring European and NATO leaders that “America is back” after four years of erratic US foreign policy under the maverick Donald Trump.

Biden said his administration will “reclaim America’s seat at the top of the table”.

US media are also straining with Orwellian euphemisms. CNN says under Team Biden, the US will “reclaim its squandered leadership role”. While the Washington Post said the new Biden administration hails the “return to competent government”.

Other commentators say it is a “return to normalcy”. Former US Assistant Secretary of State PJ Crowley is quoted by the BBC as saying of Biden’s picks: “They have a consistent world view. They are strong believers in American leadership and international alliances”.

Well, what is “normal” and “competent” about wars, death and destruction?

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2017.
© REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNSTU.S. President Donald Trump (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2017.

Biden’s cabinet is a rehash of holdovers from the Obama administrations. Several of the people he has nominated or who are tipped to fill vacancies are advocates of warmongering.

The next US Secretary of State – if vetted by the Senate – is Antony Blinken. As part of the previous Obama administration, Blinken was a major proponent of US military intervention in Libya, Syria and Yemen. He also pushes a hard line towards Russia and China.

All the recent media swooning about Blinken being a professional diplomat and fluent in French belie the true, ugly face of American war policy which he instrumented. We only have to look at the misery of starving children in Yemen to realise the horror and criminality of US militarism which the likes of Blinken are responsible for.

Not yet confirmed by Biden for cabinet posts are Obama-era warmongers Susan Rice, Samantha Power and Michèle Flournoy. The latter is hotly tipped to head the Pentagon as Secretary of Defence.

International human rights lawyer Christopher Black dismissively describes the Biden team as “cruise missile liberals”. Meaning they are adept at using righteous rhetoric to justify war.

Flournoy wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine in June that the US military must build up “deterrence” against China by being able to “credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours”.

Blinken and Flournoy co-founded a shadowy political strategy business called WestExec Advisors which connects weapons manufacturers with the Pentagon. Talk about conflict of interest! Or maybe that should be a confluence of interest. These people have a vested interest in promoting conflict and war for profit.

During Trump’s four years in the White House, the chaos in US foreign policy was such that American imperial interests were often frustrated. Not that Trump was a peacemaker. His aggression towards China, Iran and Venezuela and Russia (if you count the Nord Stream-2 sanctions), was apparent. But his erratic egoism and cronyism got in the way of the “vital interests” of the US foreign policy establishment and the military-industrial complex.

Joe Biden receives a national security briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 17, 2020
© REUTERS / TOM BRENNERJoe Biden receives a national security briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 17, 2020

That’s why Biden was so heavily backed during his election campaign by former Pentagon and intelligence chiefs, as well as by Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. He’s their man to get back to business-as-usual. And the team he is forming is meant to deliver Washington to the “top table” of exerting hegemonic ambitions.

That means solidifying the NATO alliance and cohering European allies behind US policy of confronting China and Russia – a move which the European vassal politicians seem to be cooing over.

Trump’s feckless leadership was infuriating and exhausting. He was a destabilising figure in international relations. But so too are all US presidents. They will use massive violence and lawlessness to achieve whatever the “vital interests” demand. Supposed “business genius” Trump was just incompetent and inefficient as the so-called leader of the US-led “free world”.

A Biden administration will bring “competence” back to US imperialism with the deployment of professional warmongers. Absurdly, the brainwashing of US and European media present this dreadful prospect as something to be welcomed.

NATO – A Comatose Body Whose ‘Mission’ Seems To Be Little More Than To Preserve And Expand Itself.

NATO –  A  Comatose Body Whose ‘Mission’ Seems To Be Little More Than To  Preserve And Expand Itself.

November 28, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

PART 1.

In 1851, France had the misfortune to fall victim to a coup by the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, who styled himself Napoleon III. Karl Marx had been an enthusiastic supporter of the French 1848 uprising – one among those which had taken place throughout Europe – and viewed the coup as the work of a buffoon who happened to put together an odd coalition of social classes– businesspeople, aristocratic landlords, and a rabble of barely employed street peddlers and other workers with no consciousness of their own class interests. With his wicked wit, Marx saw Napoleon III as a dramatic come-down for France from the European-wide empire of Napoleon I. Marx wrote the famous words:

“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He (Hegel) forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

In addition to the self-perpetuating, bloated monstrosity of NATO there should be added the various spook agencies, CIA, MI5, MI6 MOSSAD, BND, 5-EYES, and the rest whose mission is generally unstated and, for many, clouded in secrecy but nonetheless visible enough to those with eyes to see. Their permanent existence as a state within a state and their purported goals concerning ‘national security’ are not necessarily made clear, and, in fact, they might often be the very opposite of what they claim. Also included in the list of non-state actors are the NGOs such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which in fact is not an NGO since it receives funding from the US government which makes it a GO. Along with this is the Human Rights Watch (HRW) as well as Soros’s Open Society Foundation, and these are just some of the lavishly underwritten think tanks and secretly funded organizations which have proliferated into the rich soil that sustains them. (Please see Ray McGovern on MICCIMATT) – Military Industrial Congressional Intelligence Media Academic Think Tanks, in this respect. (1) Just how large these sprawling bureaucracies are and how far their influence reaches is almost impossible to ascertain. It could I suppose be compared to a late stage carcinoma on the body politic which is actually killing the host. Given the enormous dimensions of this geo-political super-blob I will restrict myself to a few but telling examples of its activities and their outcomes.

The Trial Run: NATO And The Destruction Of Yugoslavia

In the early 1990s NATO had been taking a particular interest in the events in the independent sovereign state of Yugoslavia. Between June 1991 and April 1992, four republics declared independence, and, egged on by Germany, the local NATO enforcer, Slovenia, and Croatia were the most important. Only Serbia and Montenegro remained federated but the status of ethnic Serbs outside Serbia and Montenegro, and that of ethnic Croats outside Croatia, remained unsolved. This was the beginning of the deconstruction of Yugoslavia – part of a longer-term dismantling which would ultimately also include reducing the USSR/Russia to vassal status or failing that, of outright occupation. This contrived disintegration of Yugoslavia ultimately laid the early basis for the complete fragmentation of the Yugoslav state. The secessionist crisis which had started in 1991 ultimately laid the basis for overt NATO intervention in the Kosovo war in 1999, all of which is well-documented.

In 1999 NATO openly entered the conflict and began a massive blitz against the rump state of Serbia, a country with no aerial defence capability, and which was subjected to a merciless bombardment of the country with thousands of cruise missiles and bombs in what would become the largest military assault in Europe since the Second World War. NATO’s campaign of air and missile strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which consisted of Serbia and Montenegro, lasted 78 days, ending on June 10, 1999. During the campaign, dubbed ‘Operation Noble Anvil’ by NATO, alliance warplanes carried out some 2,300 sorties against 995 facilities, firing nearly 420,000 missiles, bombs and other projectiles with a total mass of about 22,000 metric tonnes. Belgrade was a chief target and the bombs also fell on especial targets such as the Chinese Embassy and the City’s important radio/tv station where a number of Serbian journalists were at work. An accident. Maybe. Apologies? Of course not, these were ‘good bombs’ after all.

This set down the marker for future NATO regime changes. Yugoslavia was followed by both the enlargement of NATO and the conduct of US-NATO wars and military interventions in the Middle East starting with Iraq, along with the fabled Weapons of Mass Destruction. The conduct of US-NATO wars and military interventions in the Middle East which had spread into Iraq, was also to spread to Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iran.

And all of these interventions followed a similar pattern.

The NATO war machine operated by lining up the above states for ‘regime change’. This represented something of a change from the usual pattern as NATO had always regarded itself as being a defensive barrier to Soviet/Russian ‘aggression’. But the Yugoslav operation signalled a 180-degree change of policy. This caused some misgivings within the alliance as the United States had pushed NATO to become an offensive rather than a purely defensive security organization.

‘’The alliance now also pursues military missions in the areas such as the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Middle-East, and North Africa. All of those theatres lie outside, – in some cases far outside – NATO’s original territorial concern. Such military missions are also vastly different from NATO’s original purpose: i.e., the defence of Western Europe from possible aggression by the (then) Soviet Union.’’ (2)

What was of crucial importance to these wars of choice, however, was the role played by the MSM. It was the demonization of Heads of State in the targeted countries – in turn Milosevic, Saddam and Gaddafi found themselves caste as pantomime villains in a rogues gallery of ne’er-do-wells who were subjected and groomed by the MSM for these roles. Granted Saddam and Gaddafi were not Martin Luther King or Gandhi, but they were however the legitimate Heads of State of their own nations. It could be argued that Obama, Cameron, and Sarkozy also had blood on their hands, but for some reason, best known to the western MSM and to the political class, this didn’t count.

But Milosevic was a more difficult nut to crack. Not that the NATO defamation brigade didn’t try. The anti-Milosevic crescendo was key element in the myth structure which held that Milosevic incited the Serbs to violence, setting loose the genie of Serb nationalism from the bottle that had contained it under Tito. But neither these remarks by Milosevic nor his June 28, 1989, speech on the six-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo had anything like the characteristics imputed to them. Instead Milosevic used both speeches to appeal to multi-ethnic tolerance, accompanied by a warning against the threat posed to Yugoslavia by nationalism—“hanging like a sword over their heads all the time”

The MSM-concocted crescendo surrounding Milosevic was reaching hysterical heights. In a commentary in 2000, Tim Judah wrote that Milosevic was responsible for wars in “Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo (Wow! Not bad, that’s some going! – FL) four wars since 1991 and [that] the result of these terrible conflicts, which began with the slogan ‘All Serbs in One State,’ is the cruellest irony.” Sometime journalist, sometime spokesperson for the ICTY at The Hague, Florence Hartmann of Le Monde, and The New York Times’s Marlise Simons wrote about the “incendiary nationalism” of the man who “rose and then clung to power by resurrecting old nationalist grudges and inciting dreams of a Greater Serbia … the prime engineer of wars that pitted his fellow Serbs against the Slovenes, the Croats, the Bosnians, the Albanians of Kosovo and ultimately the combined forces of the entire NATO, wrote that “Long before the war began, Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia and, following his example, Franjo Tudjman in Croatia, had turned their backs on the Yugoslav ideal of an ethnically mixed federal State and set about carving out their own ethnically homogeneous States.’’ Such were the accusations. But then something strange happened:

It was reported on Wednesday 28 February 2007 00.08 GMT that Slobodan Milosevic, who it is alleged had died of a heart attack in 2006, was posthumously exonerated on Monday when the international court of justice ruled that Serbia was not responsible for the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica. The former president of Serbia had always argued that neither Yugoslavia nor Serbia had command of the Bosnian Serb army, and this has now been upheld by the world court in The Hague. By implication, Serbia cannot be held responsible for any other war crimes attributed to the Bosnian Serbs.

The allegations against Milosevic over Bosnia and Croatia were cooked up in 2001, two years after an earlier indictment had been issued against him by the separate International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at the height of NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia in 1999. Notwithstanding the atrocities on all sides in Kosovo, NATO claims that Serbia was pursuing genocide turned out to be war propaganda, so the ICTY prosecutor decided to bolster a weak case by trying to “get” Milosevic for Bosnia as well. It took two years and 300 witnesses, but the prosecution never managed to produce conclusive evidence against its star defendant, and its central case was conclusively blown out of the water. (3)

All very convincing and indeed incontrovertible to most rational and neutral observers, but water off a duck’s back for the western MSM, who either simply ignored the findings or found new pastures to cultivate. After the Yugoslavian denouement, the western MSM found itself at a loose end. They had to find somethinnegative to write about Russia, since this was their apparent raison d’etre. This consisted of an ongoing barrage of propaganda including 9/11, Iraq and the WMDs, the recruitment, training, and funding of a US foreign legion of Jihadists pursuing war against Syria, Yemen, Iran and Libya, some still live and ongoing (see below).

PART 2

Politics as Theatre – Graham Greene 1904-1991 Our Man In Havana And The Quiet American.

The above were fictional stories of a transparently bungled MI6 stunt in Cuba and similar CIA cack-handed intrigue in Indo-China. Both shed some light on these James Bond wannabees: what and who they are, how the operate, and just how successful their little plots turn out. Talking of MI6 for example the fact that a group of famous British writers, Graham Greene, Arthur Ransome, Somerset Maugham, Compton Mackenzie and Malcolm Muggeridge, and the philosopher A.J. “Freddie” Ayer, all worked for MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. They are among the many exotic characters who agreed to spy for Britain, mainly during wartime, and who appear in a first authorised history of MI6. Generally these were spies during the war against Germany, so they could be forgiven for their adopting this ‘profession’ (sic). More to the point, however, was that the CIA/MI6 was staffed by complete fools, as is instanced in two of Greene’s novels, to wit: Our Man In Havana, which was frankly hilariouscompared to the more disturbing tale, The Quiet American.

Our Man in Havana is a black semi-comedy, set in Havana during the Fulgencio Batista regime. James Wormold, a British vacuum cleaner retailer, is approached by MI6 operative, Hawthorne, who tries to recruit him for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). Wormold’s wife had left him and now, he lives with his beautiful 16-year-old daughter, Milly, who is devoutly Catholic, but also materialistic and manipulative. Since Wormold does not make enough money to pay for Milly’s extravagances, he accepts the offer of a side job in espionage. Because he has no information to send to London, Wormold fabricates his reports using information found in newspapers and invents a fictitious network of agents. Some of the names in his network are those of real people (most of whom he has never met), but some are made up. Wormold tells only his friend and World War I veteran, Doctor Hasselbacher, about his spy work, hiding the truth from Milly.

At one point, he decides to make his reports “exciting” by sending to London sketches of what he describes as a ‘secret military installation’ in the mountains, actually vacuum cleaner parts scaled to a large size. In London, nobody except Hawthorne, the only one to know that Wormold sells vacuum cleaners, doubts this report. However, Hawthorne keeps quiet for fear of losing his job. In the light of the new developments, London sends Wormold a secretary, Beatrice Severn, and a radio assistant codenamed “C” with much spy paraphernalia. Wormwold is eventually uncovered as being a complete imposter. To avoid embarrassment and silence him from speaking to the press, MI6 offers Wormold a teaching post at headquarters and recommends him for the Order of the British Empire. (Episode closed. Not quite. Of course it was fiction, but does the Steele Dossier or, Russiagate ring a bell?)

Similarly, in another of Greene’s novels set in the first US involvement in the Indo-China War, The Quiet American, the British journalist Thomas Fowler is befriended by an American Aid worker, Alden Pyle, who it is understood works for a US aid agency. Actually he is not what he seems and was working for the CIA all along, this was eventually teased out by Fowler, with a romantic background which also involved a triangular relationship between Fowler-Pyle and Fowler’s Vietnamese mistress. Pyle was ultimately uncovered and assassinated by a Vietcong agent.

So much for the fiction.

MI6 – Libya – A Fools’ Playground For Wannabee James Bond Devotees.

In a more serious vein, however, where an actual example of MI6 buffoonery came to light occurred with the Jihadist bomb outrage, carried out by the Jihadist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG – see below) in Manchester UK in 2017. Most detail was not published in the MSM except by the superb investigative journalism of Patrick Cockburn writing in The Independent. Cockburn’s report is worth quoting here in full.

‘’The culpability of the British government and its intelligence agencies which enabled suicide bomber LIFG Salman Abedi to blow himself up at a pop concert in Manchester is being masked one year later by the mood of grief and mourning over the death and injury of so many people.

It is heartrending to hear injured children and the relatives of the dead say they do not hate anybody as a result of their terrible experiences and, if they feel anger at all, it is only directed towards the bomber himself. Victims repeatedly say that they did not want the slaughter at the Manchester Arena to be used to create divisions in their city.

The downside of this praiseworthy attitude is that it unintentionally lets off the hook those British authorities whose flawed policies and mistaken actions really did pave the way towards this atrocity. Appeals against divisiveness and emphasis on the courage of survivors have muted attacks on the government, enabling it to accuse those who criticise it of mitigating the sole guilt of Abedi.

This attitude is highly convenient for former Prime Minister David Cameron who decided in 2011 on military intervention against Muammar Gaddafi. His purported aim was humanitarian concern for the people of Benghazi, but – as a devastatingly critical report by the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs said last year – this swiftly turned into “an opportunistic policy of regime change”.

This NATO intervention succeeded and by the end of the year Gaddafi was dead. Real power in Libya passed to Islamist militias, including those with which the Abedi family were already associated. Pictures show Salman’s brothers posing with guns in their hands. Libya was plunged into an endless civil war and Benghazi, whose people including British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and French president Nicolas Sarkozy were so keen to save, is today a sea of ruins. Inevitably, ISIS took advantage of the anarchy in Libya to spread its murderous influence.

This is the Libyan reality, which was created by Cameron and Sarkozy, with sceptical support from Barack Obama, the then US president, who famously referred to the Libyan debacle as a “shit show”.

Libya became a place where the Abedi family, returning from their long exile in Manchester, were able to put their militant Islamist beliefs into practice. They absorbed the toxic variant of Islam espoused by the Al-Qaeda clones, taking advantage of their military experience honed in the Iraq war, such as how to construct a bomb studded with pieces of metal designed to tear holes in human flesh. The bomb materials were easily available in countries like Britain.

Salman Abedi was responsible for what he did, but he could not have killed 22 people and maimed another 139 others, half of them children, if the British government had not acted as it did in Libya in 2011. And its responsibility goes well beyond its disastrous policy of joining the Libyan civil war, overthrowing Gaddafi, and replacing him with warring tribes and militias.

Manchester had since the 1990s become a centre for a small but dangerous group of exiled Libyans belonging to anti-Gaddafi groups, such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, originally formed by Libyans fighting the communists in Afghanistan. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, strict measures were taken by MI5 and the police against Libyans thought likely to sympathise with al-Qaeda in Iraq and, later, ISIS. They were subject to counter-terrorism control orders monitoring and restricting their movements and often had their passports confiscated.

But no sooner had Britain joined the war against Gaddafi than these suspected terrorists became useful allies. Their control-orders were lifted, their passports returned, and they were told that the British government had no problem with them going to Libya to fight against Gaddafi. In place of past restrictions, they were allowed to pass to and fro at British airports. Some militants are reported as saying that when they had problems with counter-terrorism police when flying to Libya, the MI5 officers with whom they were in touch were willing to vouch for them and ease their way to the battlefront in Libya, where MI6 was cooperating with Qatar and UAE as financiers of the armed opposition.

This opportunistic alliance between the British security services and Libyan Salafi-jihadis may explain why Salman Abedi, though by now high up on the list of potential terrorists, was able to fly back to Manchester from Libya unimpeded a few days before he blew himself up

There should be far more public and media outrage about the British government’s role in the destruction of Libya, especially its tolerance of dangerous Islamists living in Britain to pursue its foreign policy ends. The damaging facts about what happened are now well established thanks to parliamentary scrutiny and journalistic investigation.

The official justification for British military intervention in Libya is that it was to prevent the massacre of civilians in Benghazi by Gaddafi’s advancing forces. The reason for expecting this would happen was a sanguinary speech by Gaddafi which might mean that he intended to kill them all. David Cameron, along with Liam Fox as defence minister at the time and William Hague as foreign secretary, have wisely stuck with this explanation and, as a defence of their actions, they are probably right to do so. But a report by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee says that the belief that Gaddafi would “massacre the civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence”. It points out that he had retaken other towns from the rebels and not attacked the civilian population.

These facts notwithstanding the British still followed the French lead in military intervention and Sarkozy similarly justified his policy as being in defence of the people of Benghazi. We are a little better informed about the real French motives thanks to a report, revealed through the Freedom of Information Act, made in early 2011 by Sidney Blumenthal, an unofficial advisor to Hillary Clinton, the then US secretary of state, after a meeting he had had with French intelligence officials about Sarkozy’s motives for intervention.

The officials told Blumenthal that Sarkozy’s plans were driven by five main causes, the first being “a desire to gain a greater share of Libyan oil production” and the next being to increase French influence in North Africa. His other aims were to improve his own political standing in France, enable the French military to reassert their position in the world, and prevent Gaddafi supplanting France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.

The intelligence officials make no mention of any concern on the part of Sarkozy for the safety of the Libyan people. Conceivably the British Foreign Policy Team of David Cameron, William Hague, and Liam Fox, had much purer and more altruistic motives than their French counterparts. But it is more likely that the aim was always regime change in the national interest of those foreign powers who brought it about.

It is easy enough to convict Cameron and Sarkozy of hypocrisy, but a more telling accusation is that they betrayed the very national interests that they were seeking to advance. They destroyed Libya as a country, reduced its six million people to misery and played into the hands of men like Salman Abedi.’’ (4)

The whole squalid episode qualified as another MI5/6, CIA, and the French DGSE, operation carried out under the NATO umbrella and gave us the ‘shit show’ as enunciated by Obama. Of course the whole tawdry affair bore the customary NATO imprimatur: An EU-US-NATO led operation. Hardly an R2P operation, more like an R2B (Responsibility to Bomb). Its sticky fingers were as usual all over the joint campaign. It should be understood that NATO is an organization which exists to solve the problems it first created.

NATO – Who’s Next For Membership And/or Regime Change?

In any sane world the above would read as being a purely rhetorical question. Unfortunately, however, we do not live in a sane world. We live in Washington’s post-Westphalian world of an out-of-control Leviathan that has remained seemingly indifferent with Turkey’s seizure of Northern Cyprus, Israel’s acquisition of the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Worst of all has been Saudi Arabia’s atrocity-ridden war of aggression and extermination against Yemen – a policy in which the latter Obama and Trump administrations actively assisted and was carried out with NATO weapons, trainers, and the sustained bombing of civilian targets. (Guernica anyone!?) ‘’In this post-Westphalian world the United States and its allies have violated all those principles contained in the UN prescriptions whenever it seemed expedient to do so. It seems exceedingly difficult to square a rules-based international system with ongoing violations which have taken place in Indo-China and Yugoslavia and Iraq, even if this is carried out under a flag of convenience.’’ (5)

Respecting the Westphalian premise of spheres of influence would require a necessarily reduced application of the US’s military prerogatives; prerogatives which it has continued to exercise since 1945 in order to achieve its foreign policy objectives. It is taken as normal that the US may intervene at any time and place on the planet as it suits. The Monroe Doctrine has apparently become globalized.

But the emerging Eurasian bloc have a rather different perspective on affairs. They maintain an (irritating to western eyes) adherence to the Westphalian principles (1648). From their standpoint this should form a universal basis for peaceful coexistence. The Westphalian principles can be briefly delineated as follows:

  • States existed within their own recognised borders.
  • Each States sovereignty was recognised by the others.
  • Principles of non-interference were agreed.
  • Religious differences between states were tolerated.
  • States might be monarchies or republics.
  • Permanent State interests or raison d’etat was the organizing principle of international relations.
  • War was not eliminated, yet it was mitigated by diplomacy and balance-of-power politics
  • The object of a balance-of-power was to prevent one state from becoming so powerful that it could conquer others and destroy world order.

This was a very different philosophy and global project from the one that NATO, the US neo-cons, MSM, deep-state and spook bureaucracies have in mind. But how to reconcile the irreconcilable? There must be a meeting of minds for diplomacy to set out such matters and set workable limits on the goals of contending parties. But, in Hamlet’s words, ‘Ay, there’s the rub’. At the present time there are no signals from the US war party who are attempting to delegitimize the entire concept of spheres of influence, and, as such, is a non-starter for even reasonably cordial relationships between East and West. However,

‘’What is worse is the apparent US attitude that Russia is not entitled to even a minimum-security zone adjacent to its homeland. Pushing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, after already admitting the Baltic republics, reduces any Russian security buffer to a nullity. Conducting NATO military exercises within mere miles (and at least in one case barely hundreds of yards) of the Russian border highlights such menacing arrogance. A fundamental change in Washington’s approach is essential.’’(6)

Agreed, but it takes two to tango. And it would appear that the US is not going to take to the dance floor any time soon. Instead, for example, the following brainless responses to any minimal peace proposals emanating from the Eurasian bloc are revealing. After the Yugoslavian denouement, the western MSM found itself at a loose end. They had to find something negative to write about Russia. However, instead of reciprocated and reasoned diplomacy on the part of the West and its various agencies we got the following. A piece of journalistic fluff.

The Navalny Episode.

The whole farcical Navalny episode should be an object lesson in just how totally incompetent and amateurish whole western security agencies appear to be. The CIA-MI6-BND mob seems to be on the loose! In a ridiculously burlesque performance the whole fabric of western society was supposed to be apparently undermined by the devious Vlad the compulsive poisoner who strikes yet again. Cue the predictable MSM cacophony from the usual suspects subjecting us to the ‘two-minutes-hate’’ routine. Russia did it! Russia did it! Putin personally took charge of it. NATO should stand together and forestall the challenges of Russian dirty tricks. Blah, blah blah.

The wholly foreseeable reaction of the western establishment, politicians and MSM, was to have an expected mass apoplectic seizure. Something must be done! Yes, and we know precisely what that something is. It is clear as daylight that this stunt is intended to scuttle the Nordstream-2 deal between Germany and the Russian Federation, a deal which was almost finalised and is still awaiting implementation.

The story (fantasy) goes something like this. Suddenly a political nobody – Navalny – was allegedly poisoned by Putin (but of course) using the deadly one tiny drop of Novichok – which reputedly wipes out a whole city. Only as with the Skripals it didn’t work, well, ahem, we’ll just pass on that.

The whole parody – worthy of a Monty Python sketch – has been orchestrated by the western spook agencies governments and MSM whose sole object is to engineer the cancellation of Nordstream-2 which, if it happens, will mean that the Americans will be able to export their very expensive LNG, sending their little armada across the Atlantic. More fool the Germans if they agree to this directive. But this abject surrender was entirely predictable and in keeping with the squirming deference of the euro-vassals to the US’s NATO allies, Germany being one.

Norway being another. One only has to listen to a complete dolt like Jens Stoltenberg – member of the Norwegian Labour party and ex-Prime Minster now Secretary-General of NATO – to realise how monumental the problem is when the said Mr Stoltenberg talks quite enthusiastically about the future entry of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO.

This is the fire which the ‘West’ is now playing with. The NATO idiocracy is now calling the shots and such a move of incorporating Ukraine and Georgia into NATO would be a virtual declaration of war against Russia. Russia’s response might well be a message from Elvis.

‘’If you’re looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place.’’

NOTES

(1) McGovern and Bureaucracy – passim.

(2) This observation is usually attributed to Richard Sakwa, author of Frontline Ukraine and Russia Against The World. But I think that it might have been influenced by J.A.Schumpeter who once remarked that in Ancient Egypt ‘‘a class of professional soldiers formed during the war against the Hyskos persisted even when those wars were over – along with those warlike instincts and interests’’. But Schumpeter capped this part of the narrative with a pithy summary of his viewpoint: ‘’Created by wars that required it, the military machine now created the wars it required.’’ J.A.Schumpeter Critical Exposition Chapter 2, p.63. Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers – John Medearis. Also Ted Galen Carpenter – NATO – The Dangerous Dinosaur – passim.

Sure sounds like NATO to me (FL)

(3) John Laughland – Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the corruption of International Justice

(4) Patrick Cockburn – The Independent – passim

(5) Ted Galen Carpenter – NATO: The Dangerous Dinosaur – page.9

(6) Ted Galen Carpenter – Ibid, page.144

Prominent Iranian physicist assassinated near Tehran

Friday, 27 November 2020 2:08 PM  [ Last Update: Friday, 27 November 2020 9:10 PM ]

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

Prominent Iranian physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated in a terrorist attack near the capital Tehran.

The Fars news agency reported that he had been targeted on Friday in a multi-pronged attack involving at least one explosion and small fire by a number of assailants in Absard city of Damavand County, Tehran Province.

The attack targeted the vehicle carrying Fakhrizadeh — who headed the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), the agency said.

The Defense Ministry’s media office said Fakhrizadeh “was severely wounded in the course of clashes between his security team and terrorists, and was transferred to hospital,” where he succumbed to his injuries.

Fars said 3-4 people were killed in the shooting, all of whom were said to be terrorists.

Photos and footage shared online of the attack showed bullet holes on the windshield of Fakhrizadeh’s car and a pool of blood on the road.

The photo shows a car that was targeted in a deadly shooting attack by terrorists in Absard city, near the Iranian capital of Tehran, November 27, 2020. (By Fars news agency)

‘Serious indications of Israeli role’

In a statement, Iranian Foreign Ministry Mohammad Javad Zarif roundly condemned the terror attack, saying there were “serious indications” of the Israeli regime’s role in the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, a professor of physics at Imam Hussein University of Tehran.

“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” he said in a tweet.

The top Iranian diplomat called on the international community, especially the European Union, to “end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror.”

‘Harsh revenge awaits criminals’

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri blamed the “savage” attack on “terrorists tied to global arrogance and the evil Zionist regime.”

The assassination, he said, did deal a blow to Iran’s defense industry, but the enemies should know that “the path opened by the likes of Martyr Fakhrizadeh will never end.”

The photo shows the site of a terror attack, which targeted an Iranian scientist, in Absard city, north of the Iranian capital, Tehran, November 27, 2020. (By Fars news agency)

Baqeri said “harsh revenge” awaits the terror groups as well as all those who had a hand in the terror attack.

The commander assured the Iranian nation that the perpetrators of the terror attack will be pursued and brought to justice.

In a similar message, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Hossein Salami vowed a “harsh revenge and punishment” for those behind the act of terror.

The assassination of the Iranian scientist “was planned and run by the fake, terrorist and infanticide Zionist regime,” the chief IRGC commander added.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi also said in a statement that an operation had been launched to identify the terrorist elements complicit in the “brutal crime,” pledging that the Islamic Republic will avenge the martyr’s blood.

In turn, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, military advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, also reacted to Fakhrizadeh’s martyrdom in a tweet, vowing a crushing response to the perpetrator.

“We will come down hard on those who killed Martry Mohsen Fakhrizadeh like thunder and make them regret their deed,” he said.

“In the final days of their allied gambler’s political life, the Zionists are after intensifying pressure on Iran in order to trigger an all-out war,” said Dehqan in a reference to outgoing US President Donald Trump’s final days in office.

Fakhrizadeh’s name was mentioned multiple times in a presentation in 2018 by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which he repeated baseless claims about the Iranian nuclear program.

Netanyahu described the scientist as the director of Iran’s nuclear program and threatened, “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands by a screen with a purported image of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 30, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

The Tel Aviv regime has made several attempts over the past years to throw a wrench in Tehran’s peaceful nuclear work.

The regime has been behind the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists. It has also conduced cyberattacks on Iranian nuclear sites.

‘The crime won’t block Iran path to scientific progress’

Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeisi said the “big crime” was carried out by “traitorous elements linked to foreigners and international Zionism with the sinister goal of hindering the country’s scientific progress.”

Raeisi further praised the scientist’s role in speeding up Iran’s advancements in various scientific fields, including the nuclear industry, saying Fakhrizadeh’s martyrdom will not block the country’s path forward.

He called on the country’s security and intelligence institutions in addition to relevant judicial bodies to do their utmost to arrest and serve justice to the criminals and mercenaries involved in the crime as soon as possible.


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

The World is on the Brink Yet Again

Source

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It’s all so sensational, I am sure there is no journalists or playwright who can begin to express how messed up the world is today. In America, a president acts like a petulant adolescent. In Europe, a league of nations cannot cope with anything, at least not effectively. Even a global pandemic has not been able to galvanize humanity onto a single course of action. Instead of rallying behind scientists and doctors, people now question everything. The situation is dire. And worse still, it is obscured slightly by the still churning wheels of former progress. Momentum is all that is holding the world together.

Everywhere, trust in leaders and in government is at an all-time low. Not even our most revered institutions are credible anymore, at least not for a huge swath of society. The people are caught in a nightmarish reality where Trump seems ready to snatch democracy into a dark age. Half the world is eager to take a new vaccine to prevent COVID-19 and to end the costly lockdowns, and the other half seems ready to refuse the same remedy, for fear some billionaire has put a control chip inside the vaccine. Yes, millions and millions of people believe a global pandemic is fake. They believe that somehow every doctor and scientist in the world has been bribed to blame COVID for each death.

I was on Twitter yesterday commenting on a crazy tweet by a well-known architect in the UK when I finally realized how close we are to the rim of confrontation. From Athens to Venice, the fire starters of anarchy are pouring gas on civil unrest against prudent mask wearing and lockdowns. Many on Twitter and across social media have been tweeting and sharing their brains out telling their world how lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are going to kill us all! How wearing masks will end us all! And that COVID-19 is actually not all that bad after all! Yes, educated people are taking their valuable time to go nuts disseminating dangerous information, as if they are the saviors or humankind!

To gasp how monumentally dangerous this is, just multiply one provocative post by tens and hundreds of millions on social media and off. Magnify their flawed science, ideas, fears, and personal agendas by a few million even, and the future of humanity clings by threads to civilization. We are about to see a total meltdown, I fear. A meltdown where two sides of an argument crush all those caught in the middle. The “knowing” are about to mow down anyone standing in between, in the chasm created by COVID, bad leadership, and economic cataclysm.

Then there’s the “news” that Vladimir Putin in preparation for World War III. The Russian president’s announcement of the completion of an H-Bomb proof command center has the alt-media going nutso speculating on when, where, and how President Putin will run the fireworks while the rest of the world glows nuclear blue. But wait, wouldn’t we all be disappointed if Vladimir Putin did not prepare? Given the circumstances today, the former KGB Colonel would be stupid not to plan for a pretty obvious contingency. Or am I wrong? Let’s see how this might pan out.

In scenario number one, Donald Trump trips totally out and seizes power through the support of his backers and the U.S. military. A civil war ensues, where this soulless adolescent declares war on his own people. The west descends into anarchy as the American glue that held the whole mess together, melts down into something Medieval. Trump finally snatches a dictatorship from a republic, and then the bullets and rockets start to fly. Bye, bye civilized world. Or, something like that.

Another scenario, the more likely one, evolves once Joe Biden is inaugurated as president. The man owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military-industrial complex does a Ukraine redux and continues the work of the Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations, changing every regime that stands in the way of total world domination by America and her cousins in London. Russia is pushed to the brink, and so are all the nations outside the NATO beehive. With no alternative in sight, and with all the cards on the table finally, Russia and China have to draw that line in the sand. And trust me, Joe Biden and his string-pullers won’t back down. The liberal order has their own command bunkers, and they are crazy enough to believe mutually assured destruction (MAD) is a good thing for them.

This is the place where people like Bill Gates will be able to put their plans in place. When the population has thinned down to a few hundred thousand, that’s when your chip goes into your veins. I know some of you get it. Joe Biden the warmonger, is almost as dangerous as Donald Trump.

In the midst of all the bad news, in between the bad wishes for Russia and Putin to fail, somewhere beyond Americans feating a Chinese invasion, and overshadowing fears southern rednecks will start a new civil war in America for Trump, Russia’s president is beseeching Washington to renew an old agreement. Putin’s representatives have now invited Washington to seriously consider the arms control initiative put forward by Russian President Putin on October 26. But don’t hold your breath, Washington is boiling over.

As for positive news, a new type of cotton face mask releases reactive oxygen species (ROS) that kill viruses and bacteria. Scientists have developed a special type of cotton face mask that kills up to 99.9999% of bacteria and viruses within 60 minutes of daylight exposure. Unfortunately, Half of Facebook’s 1 billion users will gleefully search Google for yet another reason facemasks and lockdowns will kill us all. So now you must surely get it. It’s you versus your alter ego-self with the other opinion. Someday, probably sooner than later, the two sides of this trying human experiment are going to go to war. And we’ve fought hundreds of deadly wars over much less furious opinions and ideas.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

Revolutionary Changes Awaiting the Middle East?

17.11.2020 

Author: Vladimir Odintsov

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Although some of Donald Trump’s advisers still believe in his possible victory and support his attempts to fight, their number is gradually decreasing. Trump himself also is gradually realising the fact that the election results will not be canceled, and he has lost these elections…

The increasing reality of the failure of Trump’s four-year political activity is forcing politicians in many countries who have orientated towards him to look for a way to resolve their current situation, making adjustments to their rhetoric and actions. A certain group, imitating Trump himself, who has repeatedly abandoned former allies in the name of “his own political game”, are rapidly seeking to reorient themselves to the expected new master of the White House, sending flattering congratulations on “victory” instead of the previous criticism for the recent opponent of Trump in the elections.

As the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung emphasised, “Europe collectively breathed a sigh of relief. The warm reaction of Brussels and representatives of the EU member states has once again confirmed: more than the election of Joe Biden, Europe is happy about the impending departure of President Donald Trump.”

And this is not only a typical reaction for Europe!

Almost all commentary states the obvious fact: the time after Trump will not be the same as the time before Trump. And therefore, the shifting of the “weather vane of political change” is very clearly traced not only in the list of those who have already congratulated Joe Biden “on victory” – even before the official announcement of the highly scandalous and controversial recent presidential elections in the United States – but also in the choice of the words themselves to express servility and plebeian devotion.

Thus, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Joe Biden, calling him “a great friend of Israel.” However most recently, Channel 7 of Israeli television published the results of a national poll, according to which 68% of Israelis expressed their devotion to Trump. Moreover, on November 2, according to Reuters, Israel even held a prayer service for the re-election of Donald Trump. And this is not surprising, since Trump suits Tel Aviv much more. Indeed, it was Trump who on December 6, 2017 recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US embassy there. In May 2018, Trump pulled Washington out of the “nuclear pact” with Tehran. On March 25, 2019, Trump officially recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. On October 15, 2020, Trump held a ceremony to normalize relations between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE in front of the White House in Washington. It was Trump who signed the Justice for Unpaid Survivors Act, which provides for the return of property lost during the Holocaust and other events of the 20th century. He signed a decree on the fight against anti-Semitism on American campuses.

But, in addition to Netanyahu, the leaders of Hamas and the extremist group “Muslim Brotherhood Politics” (banned in Russia – ed.) Sent their congratulations to Biden, calling on the new White House administration to abandon the old Trump policies in the Middle East and “Look towards Palestine.”

According to comments published in recent days by various media outlets, with the arrival of Biden in the White House, one can really expect a significant adjustment to the previous US Middle Eastern policy. In particular, it is believed that Joe Biden will return to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) Agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, while changing some of the terms of the treaty.

In addition to countering Iran, the next US president will certainly face the need to resolve a number of other crises in the Middle East. As The Jerusalem Post believes, this is first of all, the growing extremism of Turkey, the settlement of the Palestinian problem, the issues in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the great catastrophe in the Sahel and the potential destabilization of Iraq.

According to former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro, Biden’s undisputed foreign policy initiative related to the Middle East will be the question of creating a Palestinian state. Also, the new head of the White House may cancel the “deal of the century” – the Trump administrations deal to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which was indignantly rejected by the Palestinian authorities and a number of Muslim countries.

A possible adjustment of Trump’s Middle East policy by Biden is already, belligerently expected in Tel Aviv. On November 5, 2020, Israeli Settlement Minister Tsakhi has already voiced threats that the Israeli elite is ready to start a war with the Islamic Republic in response to Washington’s return to the “nuclear pact.”

In Riyadh, Biden’s arrival at the White House is expected with heightened vigilance.

As we are reminded from the November 8, edition of “Al-Arabia”, Biden promised to reconsider relations with Saudi Arabia in connection with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Hence, even a number of Saudi experts do not exclude that Biden “poses a threat to the crown prince, since he will order the CIA to reveal all the details of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and also force the prince to lift the blockade from Qatar, stop arming Riyadh with weapons and ammunition for the war in Yemen and compel him to release the detained activists and members of the royal family.” There is even a belief regarding the possible removal of bin Salman from his posts, in connection with which there are unequivocal hints that in this situation the crown prince has only one “weapon to withstand these dangers – rapprochement with Israel.”

Developing on this idea,   the head of the ‘Mossad’, Yossi Cohen, bluntly stated that “normalization of relations with Israel will be a gift from Riyadh to the new US president – regardless of whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden wins,” and that this decision could soften ‘Biden the Democrat’s’ stance on the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).

Be that as it may (and obviously not without taking into account these points) on the evening of November 8, King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his heir Prince Muhammad finally congratulated Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their election victory.

It will also be difficult time for Turkey starting when the real possibility of a new president of USA comes to power, as they reacted very sharply to the statements of Joe Biden, who, in an interview with The New York Times, spoke negatively about Recep Erdogan, calling him an “autocrat”, criticised his policy towards the Kurds and supported the Turkish opposition.  Although Joe Biden did this interview back in December 2019, the video of him appeared only on August 15. Now Ankara is preparing for the imposition of a number of sanctions against it on several issues at once, in particular, for Operation Peace Spring against the Syrian Kurds, since Biden may recognise them as their main ally in Syria. Ankara also takes into account Biden’s recent calls to increase pressure on the Turkish authorities in order to push them to reduce tensions in relations with Athens: “it is necessary to put pressure on Turkey so that it abandons provocative actions in the region against Greece, as well as threats to use force.”

They also recall how recently Joe Biden demanded that Donald Trump put pressure on Turkey to abandon the decision on the Hagia Sophia issue, saying that Ankara “should open this temple to all confessions.”

Hence how the recent resignation of both the head of the Central Bank   Murat Uysal, and the Minister of Finance and Treasury of Turkey Berat Albayrak (who was Erdogan’s son-in-law) gave rise to active discussions of the processes that have begun in the highest echelons of power against the background of the expected change of the US presidential administration.  After all, the previous head of the Central Bank worked at Halkbank, the investigation around which may enter an active phase under the new administration, and Albayrak may be connected with the “Halkbank case”. Recall that in January 2018, a court in New York found Halkbank Deputy Chairman Hakan Atilla guilty of the fact that he and the bank itself provided intermediary services in the transfer of funds received by the Iranian leadership from the sale of oil and gas.

The Middle East has always been an issue for US presidents, many administrations come to power wanting to “do something” about the region, but the problems and conflicts are not diminishing. Therefore, today many are asking the question: will Biden become the president who is really ready to make this region better and not just another inhabitant of the Oval Office?

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

The Secret Agenda of the World Bank and IMF

The Secret Agenda of the World Bank and IMF
Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.Peter is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.
Peter is also co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020) Peter

November 17, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) work hand in glove – smoothly. Not only are they regularly lending huge sums of money to horror regimes around the world, but they blackmail poor nations into accepting draconian conditions imposed by the west.

In other words, the WB and the IMF are guilty of the most atrocious human rights abuses.

You couldn’t tell, when you read above the entrance of the World Bank the noble phrase, “Our Dream is World Free of Poverty”.

To this hypocrisy I can only add, ”…And we make sure it will just remain a dream.” This says both, the lie and the criminal nature of the two International Financial Institutions, created under the Charter of the United Nations, but instigated by the United States.

The front of these institutions is brilliant. What meets the eye, are investments in social infrastructure, in schools, health systems, basic needs like drinking water, sanitation – even environmental protection – over all “Poverty Alleviation”, i.e. A World Free of Poverty. But how fake this is today and was already in the 1970’s and 1980’s is astounding. Gradually people are opening their eyes to an abject reality, of exploitation and coercion and outright blackmail. And that, under the auspices of the United Nations. What does it tell you about the UN system? In what hands are the UN? – The world organization was created in San Francisco, California, on 24 October 1945, just after WWII, by 51 nations, committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

The UN replaced the League of Nations which was part of the Peace Agreement after WWI, the Treaty of Versailles. It became effective on 10 January 1920, was headquartered in Geneva Switzerland, with the purpose of disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries, through negotiation diplomacy and improving global welfare. In hindsight it is easy to see that the entire UN system was set up as a hypocritical farce, making people believe that their mighty leaders only wanted peace. These might leaders were all westerners; the same that less than 20 years after the creation of the noble League of Nations, started World War II.

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This little introduction provides the context for what was eventually to become the UN-backed outgrowth for global theft, for impoverishing nations, around the world, for exploitation of people, for human rights abuses and for shoveling huge amounts of assets from the bottom, from the people, to the oligarchy, the ever-smaller corporate elite – the so-called Bretton Woods Institutions.

In July 1944 more than 700 delegates of 44 Allied Nations (allied with the winners of WWII) met at the Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, to regulate the international monetary and financial order after WWII. Let’s be sure, this conference was carried out under the auspices of the United States, the self-declared winner of WWII, and from now on forward the master over the financial order of the world – which was not immediately visible, an agenda hidden in plain sight.

The IMF was officially created to ‘regulate’ the wester, so-called convertible currencies, those that subscribed to apply the rules of the new gold standard, i.e. US$ 35 / Troy Ounce (about 31.1 grams). Note that the gold standard, although applicable equally to 44 allied nations was linked to the price of gold nominated in US dollars, not based on a basket of the value of the 44 national currencies. This already was enough reason to question the future system. And how it will play out. But nobody questioned the arrangement. Hard to believe though that of all these national economists, none dared question the treacherous nature of the gold-standard set-up.

The World Bank, or the Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), was officially set up to administer the Marshall Plan for the Reconstruction of war-destroyed Europe. The Marshall Plan was a donation by the United Stated and was named for U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, who proposed it in 1947. The plan gave $13.2 billion in foreign aid to European countries that had been devastated physically and economically by World War II. It was to be implemented from 1948 to 1952 which of course was much too short a time, and stretched into the early 1960s. In today’s terms the Marshall plan would be worth about 10 time more, or some US$ 135 billion.

The Marshall Plan was and still is a Revolving Fund, paid back by the countries in question, so that it could be relent. The Marshall Plan money was lent out multiple times and was therefore very effective. The European counterpart to the World Bank-administered Marshall Fund was a newly to be created bank set up under the German Ministry of Finance, The German Bank for Reconstruction and Development (KfW – German acronym for Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau”).

KfW, as the World Bank’s European counterpart still exists and dedicates itself mostly to development projects in the Global South, often in cooperation with the World Bank. Today there is still a special Department within KfW that deals exclusively with Marshall Plan Fund money. These funds are used for lending to poor southern regions in Europe, and also to prop up Eastern European economies, and they were used especially to integrate former East-Germany into today’s “Grand Germany”.

Two elements of the Marshall Plan are particularly striking and noteworthy. First, the reconstruction plan created a bind, a dependence between the US and Europe, the very Europe that was largely destroyed by the western allied forces, while basically WWII was largely won by the Soviet Union, the huge sacrifices of the USSR – with an estimated 25 to 30 million deaths. So, the Marshall Plan was also designed as a shield against communist Russia, i.e. the USSR.

While officially the Soviet Union was an ally of the western powers, US, UK, and France, in reality the communist USSR was an arch-enemy of the west, especially the United States. With the Marshall Plan money, the US bought Europe’s alliance, a dependence that has not ended to this day. The ensuing Cold War against the Soviet Union – also all based on flagrant lies, was direct testimony for another western propaganda farce – which to this day, most Europeans haven’t grasped yet.

Second, The US imposition of a US-dollar based reconstruction fund, was not only creating a European dollar dependence, but was also laying the ground work for a singular currency, eventually to invade Europe – what we know today, has become the Euro. The Euro is nothing but the foster child of the dollar, as it was created under the same image as the US-dollar – it is a fiat currency, backed by nothing. The United Europe, or now called the European Union – was never really a union. It was never a European idea, but put forward by US Secret Services in disguise of a few treacherous European honchos. And every attempt to create a United Europe, a European Federation, with a European Constitution, similar to the United States, was bitterly sabotaged by the US, mostly through the US mole in the EU, namely the UK.

The US didn’t want a strong Europe, both economically and possibly over time also militarily (pop. EU 450 million, vs US pop. 330 million; 2019 EU GDP US$ 20.3 trillion equivalent, vs US GDP US$ 21.4 trillion. Most economists would agree that a common currency for a loose group of countries has no future, is not sustainable. In comes the European Central Bank (ECB), also a creation inspired by the FED. The ECB has really no Central Bank function. It is rater a watch dog. Because each EU member country has still her own Central Bank, though with a drastically reduced sovereignty.

Out of the currently 27 EU members only 19 are part of the Euro-zone. Those countries not part of the Eurozone, i.e. Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Sweden – and more, have preserved their sovereign financial policy and do not depend on the ECB. This means, had Greece opted out of the Eurozone when they were hit with the 2008 / 2009 manufactured “crisis”, Greece would now be well on her way to full recovery. They would not have been subject to the whims and dictate of the IMF, the infamous troika, European Commission (EC), ECB and IMF, but could have chosen to arrange their debt internally, as most debt was internal debt, no need to borrow from abroad.

In a 2015 bailout referendum, the Greek population voted overwhelmingly against the bailout, meaning against the new gigantic debt. However, the then Greek President Tsipras, went ahead as if the referendum had never taken place and approved the huge bailout despite almost 70% of the popular vote against it.

This is a clear indication of fraud, that no fair play was going on. Tsipras and / or his families may have been coerced to accept the bailout – or else. We may never know, the true reason why Tsipras sold his people, the wellbeing of the Greek people to the oligarchs behind the IMF and World Bank – and put them into abject misery, with the highest unemployment in Europe, rampant poverty and skyrocketing suicide rates.

Greece may serve as an example on how other EU countries may fare if they don’t “behave” – meaning adhere to the unwritten golden rules of obedience to the international money masters.

This is scary.

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And now, in these times of covid, it is relatively easy. Poor countries, particularly in the Global South, already indebted by the plandemic, are increasing their foreign debt in order to provide their populations with basic needs. Or so they make you believe. Much of the debt accumulated by developing countries is domestic or internal debt, like the debt of the Global North. It doesn’t really need foreign lending institutions to wipe out local debt. Or have you seen one of the rich Global North countries borrowing from the IMF or the World Bank to master their debt? – Hardly.

So why would the Global South fall for it? Part corruption, part coercion, and partly direct blackmail. – Yes, blackmail, one of the international biggest crimes imaginable, being committed by the foremost international UN-chartered financial institutions, the WB and the IMF.

For example, the whole world is wondering how come that an invisible enemy, a corona virus hit all 193 UN member countries at once, so that Dr. Tedros, Director General of WHO, declares on 11 March a pandemic – no reason whatsoever since there were only 4,617 cases globally – but the planned result was a total worldwide lockdown on 16 March 2020. No exceptions. There were some countries who didn’t take it so seriously, like Brazil, Sweden, Belarus, some African countries, like Madagascar and Tanzania – developed their own rules and realized that wearing masks did more harm than good, and social distancing would destroy the social fabric of their cultures and future generations.

But the satanic deep dark state didn’t want anything to do with “independent” countries. They all had to follow the dictate from way above, from the Gates, Rockefellers, Soroses, et al elite, soon to be reinforced by Klaus Schwab, serving as the chief henchman of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Suddenly, you see in Brazil, a drastic surge in new “cases”, no questions asked, massive testing, no matter that the infamous PCR tests are worthless according to most serious scientists (only sold and corrupted scientists, those paid by the national authorities, would still insist on the RT-PCR tests). Bolsonaro gets sick with the virus and the death count increases exponentially – as the Brazilian economy falls apart.

Coincidence?

In comes the World Bank and / or the IMF, offering massive help mostly debt relief, either as grant or as low interest loans. But with massive strings attached: you must follow the rules laid out by WHO, you must follow the rules on testing on vaccination, mandatary vaccination – if you conform to these and other country-specific rules, like letting western corporations tap your natural resources – you may receive, WB and IMF assistance.

Already in May 2020 the World Bank Group announced its emergency operations to fight COVID-19 had already reached 100 developing countries – home to 70% of the world’s population with lending of US$ 160 billion-plus. This means, by today, 6 months later and in the midst of the “Second Wave” the number of countries and the number of loans or “relief’ grants must have increased exponentially, having reached close to the 193 UN member countries. Which explains how all, literally all countries, even the most objecting African countries, like Madagascar and Tanzania, among the poorest of the poor, have succumbed to the coercion or blackmail of the infamous Bretton Woods Institutions.

These institutions have no quarrels in generating dollars, as the dollar is fiat money, not backed by any economy – but can be produced literally from hot air and lent to poor countries, either as debt or as grant. These countries, henceforth and for pressure of the international financial institutions will forever become dependent on the western masters of salvation. Covid-19 is the perfect tool for the financial markets to shovel assets from the bottom to the top.

In order to maximize the concentration of the riches on top, maybe one or two or even three new covid waves may be necessary. That’s all planned, The WEF has already foreseen the coming scenarios, by its tyrannical book “Covid-19 – The Great Reset”. It’s all laid out. And our western intellectuals read it, analyze it, criticize it, but we do not shred it apart – we let it stand, and watch how the word moves in the Reset direction. And the plan is dutifully executed by the World Bank and the IMF – all under the guise of doing good for the world.

What’s different from the World Bank and IMF’s role before the covid plandemic? – Nothing. Just the cause for exploitation, indebtment, enslavement. When covid came along it became easy. Before then and up to the end of 2019, developing countries, mostly rich in natural resources of the kind the west covets, oil, gold, copper and other minerals, such as rare earths, would be approached by the WB, the IMF or both.

They could receive debt relief, so-called structural adjustment loans, no matter whether or not they really needed such debt. Today these loans come in all forms, shapes and colors, literally like color-revolutions, for instance, often as budget support operations – I simply call then blank checks – nobody controls what’s happening with the money. However, the countries have to restructure their economies, rationalizing their public services, privatizing water, education, health services, electricity, highways, railroads – and granting foreign concessions for the exploitation of natural resources.

Most of this fraud – fraud on “robbing” national resources, passes unseen by the public at large, but countries become increasingly dependent on the western paymasters – peoples’ and institutional sovereignty is gone. There is always a corrupter and a corruptee. Unfortunately, they are still omni-present in the Global South. Often, for a chunk of money, the countries are forced to vote with the US for or against certain UN resolutions which are of interest to the US. Here we go – the corrupt system of the UN.

And of course, when the two Bretton Woods organizations were created in 1944, the voting system decided is not one country, one vote as in theory it is in the UN, but the US has an absolute veto right in both organizations. Their voting rights are calculated in function of their capital contribution which derives from a complex formula, based on GDP and other economic indicators. In both institutions the US voting right and also veto right is about 17%. Both institutions have 189 member countries.
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Covid has laid bare, if it wasn’t already before, how these “official” international, UN-chartered Bretton Woods financial institutions are fully integrated in the UN system – in which most of the countries still trust, maybe for lack of anything better.

Question, however: What is better, a hypocritical corrupt system that provides the “appearance”, or the abolition of a dystopian system and the courage to create a new one, under new democratic circumstances and with sovereign rights by each participating country?

Trump’s Legacy From A European Perspective

By Yuri C. Kofner

Source

Neither Trump nor Biden are true friends of Europe and, of course, especially not of China and Russia. But where Trump was a true friend and patriot of the American people and has always put “America First”, Biden will continue to push the globalist agenda, because he knows “neither nation nor peoples” – neither the American one nor any other.

German and European mass media hated Trump as much as the largest American networks did. They called him unpredictable, protectionist and reactionary. And while Trump was never a friend of the Europeans, he was a true American patriot. Paradoxically, this gave Europe a respire to grow up politically and become economically more sovereign. At the same time, his conservative patriotism revived pro-American sentiments among European conservatives. Biden, however, will continue the slow decline of the transatlantic West.

Foreign Policy

Donald Trump was the first US president who for the first time in 40 years didn’t initiate a war of conquest. This is of paramount importance as US military interventions are the main driver behind the European migration crisis. Washington University estimates that the US’ post 9/11 wars forcibly displaced 37 to 59 million people in and out of Africa and the Middle East. Many these refugees immigrated to Europe and Germany.

His “America First” policy meant a return to domestic matters to solve the growing socio-economic problems of the country with which American society is increasingly confronted, including inequality, crime and de-industrialization. At the same time, it meant a stronger focus on regional, i.e. North and South American affairs, e.g. the renewed NAFTA-USMCA agreement, sanctions against Venezuela and the coup d’état in Bolivia.

This policy also included a relative withdrawal from its own military interventionism in Eurasia and a greater emphasis on the “lead from behind” approach, similar to when the ancient Romans relied on their foedarati (allies) to defend the borders of the empire. And in the 21st century, the Europeans are the most important foedarati in the United States.

For the first time since Charles de Gaulle, Europe was given greater freedom of choice in foreign policy. But instead of making greater use of this historic opportunity to create a truly sovereign Europe (of nations), e.g. by creating an independent European army or by rapprochement with Russia, most European politicians who grew up with transatlantic fealty, behaved like a crying child who lost its mother in the supermarket.

Trade Policy

The economic aspect of Trump’s “America First” policy had both positive and negative effects on German and European business interests. One thing is certain, however: his protectionism has never been surprising nor unpredictable. On the contrary, it has been very constant over time. It just did not meet the expectations of the transatlantic elite.

The key element of the America First agenda was to protect the domestic industry and to ensure the welfare of American industrial workers. For this reason, Trump prevented the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). In doing so, he has done the Europeans a huge favour, as this agreement would have repealed European food and safety regulations, destroyed European agriculture and made the large US corporate groups even more powerful than they are now.

Of course, Trump’s mercantilist and protectionist approach to foreign trade was not always beneficial for Europe. Based on his criticism of the EU/German state aid for Airbus and the trade surplus in goods with the USA, he imposed punitive tariffs on European aluminium, steel and food products worth USD 7.5 billion. The US threats to German companies and ports over Nord Stream 2 were also less than diplomatic.

What he didn’t mention was that his administration was also heavily subsidizing Boeing, the US itself imported over 190 billion barrels of oil from Russia, and it also had a large trade surplus in services with the EU, largely thanks to the success of the big American digital and platform companies.

Ultimately, the aim of his protectionist methods was to press the other actors into favourable deals with Washington. He finally achieved this in January 2020 in relation to China with the “Phase One Deal” and then with the EU in September of this year.

In this sense, Trump enforced national interests like any other American president, only by other means and without pretending to follow multilateral rules.

His disregard for multilateral agreements is best shown in his blockade of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Together with his protectionist tariff policy, these measures are indeed detrimental to Europe’s exporting nations such as Germany.

In return, however, his actions greatly benefited the American economy. Probably thanks to Trump’s tax reform rather than his external protectionism, but the fact is that the American economy has shown phenomenal growth for a developed industrial nation. According to the IfW Kiel, industrial production in the USA rose by a total of 7.2 percent between 2016 and 2019, and according to the World Bank, its gross domestic product grew by an average of 2.5 percent annually. For comparison: In the same period, the growth of German industrial production was negative, and the German GDP grew by an average of only 1.5 percent each year.

Culture Politics

Before and after Trump, US soft power accompanied the military and economic imperialist agenda of the United States with, paradoxically, a rather anti-Western narrative.

Therefore, from an international perspective, the most important aspect was that in the ongoing “culture war”, Trump took the side of defending traditional Christian values against the postmodern “progressive” agenda.

Although Trump fought against the overwhelming pressure of the mass media, omnipotent digital giants (Google, Facebook), neo-Marxist indoctrinated universities and NGOs and ultimately failed to bring the conservative camp to victory, thanks to Donald Trump, the support of conservative national values around the world can no longer to be viewed as an anti-American insurrection per se. In this way he created a mass of benevolent pro-American conservative supporters in Europe and elsewhere.

His criticism of uncontrolled mass immigration (instead of controlled intelligent immigration) and of racist/sexist and de-facto Maoist identity politics such as “Black Lives Matter” and gender quotas (instead of the simple but fair Christian principle of individual merit) will provide the conservative movements in Europe with much intellectual nourishment in the years to come.

And although Trump displayed eccentric, almost caricature-like behaviour and was exposed to relentless media allegations, he could never be accused of being a paedophile. However, there are strong indications for this in relation to Biden and his son, e.g. the Epstein case and Hunter Biden’s personal correspondence found on his laptop.

Outlook

With Biden as president, one can expect the United States to resume its path as a declining Transatlantic empire with a more aggressive stance on hard power, trade, and values.

In the political arena, we can expect a more active renewal of US military interference in the Eurasian states, especially in Ukraine, where Biden’s son has direct financial interests, but also in Turkey and Ethiopia. This will lead to a further destabilization of the eastern and southern neighbourhoods of Europe, to even more refugees, and to even higher “maintenance costs” for military, social and foreign aid to be borne by European taxpayers.

In economic terms, we will see the signing of a renewed “TTIP 2.0” treaty, which will underpin Europe’s economic vassalage dominated by the large American tech companies and which will complete the step towards a bipolar world order between a Transatlantic economic union and a China-oriented Eurasian heartland.

In the cultural sphere, the foreign soft power of the United States will be shaped by a self-destructive left-wing ideology according to which oppressed races, genders and sexual minorities must overthrow the “evil white Western patriarchal oppressor”. As usual, universities, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley will be the strongest advocates for this movement. Although it claims to have the moral right to interfere in Europe and around the world in order to allegedly defend the human rights of various groups, it will do little, as usual, against the terrifying persecution of Christians, women and homosexuals in various Muslim countries.

Neither Trump nor Biden are true friends of Europe and, of course, especially not of China and Russia. But where Trump was a true friend and patriot of the American people and has always put “America First”, Biden will continue to push the globalist agenda, because he knows “neither nation nor peoples” – neither the American one nor any other.

“Teacher d’assumption’s statement – Reframing the racism debate”

November 11, 2020

“Teacher d’assumption’s statement – Reframing the racism debate”

By Leo Abina – A concerned World Citizen – for the Saker Blog

Going back as far as I can remember, the story of what my dad’s 1930s primary school teacher would say at the start of every school day has been ingrained in my family’s narrative for half a century. “Whites build locomotives. Negroes can’t produce a needle. Whites are civilized. Negroes are savages.” As he would recount this story, my dad would always add, with a mischievous chuckle, “my few other African classmates in that class would be outraged by this statement; but not me. For me, d’Assumption’s ‘greeting to the class’ became a source of motivation to excel, especially in mathematics and science, just to prove him wrong.” Over the years, teacher d’Assumption’s[1] statement would never fail to ignite passionate debates, emotions, and reactions among family members; me included.

During my childhood, in the 60s and 70s, I lived the life of a privileged West-African boy from a well-to-do family, growing up in multi-racial social networks, attending private schools in Africa and Europe, oblivious to the vicissitudes of both subtle and raw racism. During these early years, teacher d’Assumption’s statement felt like a distant, no longer relevant, piece of nasty colonial history that I did not fully understand but felt needed to just be forgotten.

As a youngster coming of age and completing tertiary education in the 80s and 90s, I lived through the collapse of the Soviet Union, the uninhibited advent of market-driven globalization, and the shift towards finance, rather than ‘goods and services’ -dominated economies. My thoughts about teacher d’Assumption’s statement during those years were that “aspiring to build African locomotives out of pride was wasteful and misguided development strategy.” What would be smarter, I argued, was “investing African capital to own shares in railway manufacturing companies, so as to better facilitate the deployment of railway infrastructure in Africa; while at the same time, striving to build competence in railway technology.’

Then came the beginning of my expat years. My first forays into the ‘real world’ of business, outside the manicured lawns and precious wood paneled walls of US Ivy League campuses. Those years brought my first encounters with the realities of ‘subtle,’ though at times not so ‘subtle,’ corporate double standards. I had up to then bought into the neo-liberal ethos about free and fair markets; only to discover that in reality, most markets, even within the western sphere of influence, were neither free nor fair. Corporate battles within the western world are testimony that strategic technologies are protected; Boeing vs Airbus, Apple vs Microsoft, Siemens vs GE, are but a few legendary examples of this reality. These examples helped me realize that my earlier thoughts about how Africans should use capital in order to play the economic game to their advantage might have been overly naive – state interventions do play a major role in today’s so called ‘free markets’, and the bigger the state, the stronger the interventions. Even in the apparently ‘leveled playing field’ of our modern world, teacher d’Assumption’s worldview seemed as entrenched and relevant as it ever was.

As I look back through the eyes and battle scars of a 50-something, I get an uneasy sense that humanity has remained stuck on this all-important racism issue. On one side of the issue, white folks are conditioned to inherently hold a sense of superiority, backed by centuries of modern western world dominance. While on the other side of the issue, brown folks, no matter where they live in the world, their place in society, or their achievements, feel a sense of injustice, inadequacy, and alienation, in a historical period dominated by the modern western construct; a construct in which they can at best live as ‘acceptable strangers,’ or at worst as victims or rebels.

Taking a closer look at these perspectives on racism might provide a better premise to bring the two main conflicting parties – the white, western European dominant side, and the non-white (brown) global-south side, nearer each other.

Let us begin with the white perspective. Looking at the advent of modern western civilization over the past 300 years, as well as today’s global power dynamics, one can easily understand why a 21st-Century white person might have an innate sense of superiority. Why in our times, even an unaccomplished, hopeless, inept white person of European descent would still feel superior to an accomplished, gifted, and successful brown person.

In a nutshell, this frame of mind stems from the observation that for the past few centuries, the modern western civilization managed to subjugate much of the rest of our world. Through naval supremacy and superior weaponry resulting in tremendous military might, small European nations with tiny territories and lesser populations were able to project power globally and overwhelm much larger, usually brown, peoples. These past conquests still resonate in the psyche of many modern Europeans, and in the view of many, bear witness to the greater ingenuity of the white race. Once the lands of the brown people were subdued and a colonial order was established to channel vast amounts of natural resources from the colonies to the colonial capitals, in the eyes of many Europeans, this exploitative world order was, and is to this day, justified.

For in their narrative, it is Europeans, in the first place, who knew and understood the value of these natural resources. Whereas the brown natives, who might have been sitting on these natural resources for centuries, a. did not have an industrial base to know the value of what was under their feet b. did not have the technology and means to access and exploit these natural resources, and c. did not have the capacity and strength to protect them. Therefore, it is only natural that those who have the knowledge, technology, and power to access natural resources should also have the nature-given right to exploit them.

Then comes the moral aspect, especially as it relates to one of the most gruesome episodes in the long racism saga: the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In public and in the name of political correctness, most white people who only have a passing acquaintance with slavery do feel a sense of guilt about it. However, upon greater scrutiny through which they come to understand the historical context of slavery, and in view of recent south-to-north emigration dynamics, in private, many other white people do not share that sense of guilt.

The rationale here is twofold. First, there is the very controversial observation that during the slave trade, Africa was not occupied; therefore and by-enlarge, it was mostly African chieftains who sold other Africans into slavery. If brown people were ready to sell their own kind into slavery while Europeans needed labor to build ‘the new world in the Americas,’ why should only one of the two parties lose the moral high ground? Second, decades after slavery and colonization, we live in a time of massive south-north migration where millions of brown people are ready to leave their own independent countries and risk their lives across deserts and seas in search of a better life in the white man’s ‘land of milk and honey.’ Isn’t that further testimony of the white man’s more aspirational, and therefore superior, way of life?

This old, profound inter-racial legacy explains why an unaccomplished white person would still feel superior to a gifted brown person. The white indigent person sees brown people parading in fancy clothes, fancy cars, fancy homes, and thinks, “this high life these brown people aspire to and are so fond of, was brought about by us.”

Let us now turn to the brown perspective. The brown person’s experience in today’s modern western civilization is an experience filled with contradictions. On one hand there is an attraction to the outward semblance of freedom, equality and fraternity professed by the West. On the other hand there is a rejection of the inward reality of coercion, double standards, and racism perpetrated by that very same West. In this context, the brown person’s best option often consists in navigating these contradictions as deftly and quietly as possible, with no overt defiance to the established order. I once attended an event where the condition of black Brazilians came up in the discussion; a white Brazilian businessman who was present casually responded; “we do not have a racial problem in Brazil because in Brazil, brown people know their place!”

Besides the cruelty, hurtful meaning, and Brazilian frame of reference of this remark, it basically captured the essence of brown peoples’ lives everywhere in the modern world. No matter where they live, what their personal circumstances are, whether they are conscious of it or not, racism is an integral part of brown peoples’ day-to-day reality. Of course, in the modern era the crude state-sanctioned form of racism that prevailed up to the 1960s has rescinded, but nonetheless racism is still alive and well in today’s world context, albeit in different forms according to different environments.

The western-dominated world order dates back to at least three centuries. Its latest, modern iteration was established at the end of World War II by the victorious powers. On the economic front, western dominance happened de facto through the establishment of the Bretton Woods institutions in 1944 – the World Bank and the IMF. On the political front, the United Nations was founded with the noble mandate to prevent future wars, and a 5-nations Security Council made up of the most powerful nations was formed to protect this mandate, as well as approve or veto United Nations resolutions. In reality, this system and the highly biased, misrepresentative nature of its governing body, the Security Council, has been used outwardly for the benefit of the ‘international community,’ but inwardly for the interests of a tiny, West-led, part of the world. On the cultural front, dominance pretty much occurred by default through the ubiquitous reach of western media, western movies, and western broadcasting power.

In a second phase spanning through the 70s, 80s and 90s, the post-war world order was further reshaped with the formation of a new, dollar-based monetary system (no longer backed by gold), a massive shift in geo-politics with the fall of the USSR, a series of international trade agreements, and the advent of satellite-based communications and information technologies. Last but not least, the West’s military dominance was further strengthened by the eastern expansion of NATO, and the broad deployment of military bases around the world – nearly a thousand for the US alone, with a $900b yearly military budget that is larger than all European countries’ military budgets put together, and 10x Russia’s.

In recent years this unipolar, US-dominated world order is being challenged by a re-emerging modern Russia, and by regional powers such as China, India and Brazil. Nonetheless, western power remains formidable and remains overwhelmingly white. As a result of this reality, for most brown people around the world the real question has not so much been about whether the modern western ethos harbors racism or not. It has been about the extent to which racism affects them directly and experientially, and the extent to which racism limits their opportunity to strive.

Some people in the West find it difficult to conceive of this, but the reality is that even brown people who live in their own countries, under their own government, are affected by racism. Such assertions, as is now the case for any dissenting assertions even backed by forensic evidence, are often dismissed as ‘conspiracy theories.’ Nonetheless, in order to understand how this is possible, it is important to understand that in today’s world order, years after colonization, most brown countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, are still not free. Sure, these countries are recognized as independent administrative entities, with their own flags, national anthems, and emblems, but in reality, western powers still exercise a tremendous amount of hegemonic political, economic, and cultural power on them.

Recent history around the world has shown that brown leaders who try to defy the status quo and defend the interest of their own people at the expense of western hegemony, do not last long. In order to survive in their positions, most brown leaders have to make political and economic choices that are not favorable to their nation. Although most of the time, leaders in brown countries are quite happy to become stooges of the West, pledge allegiance to their western overlords, and enjoy the monetary benefits that come with that allegiance – often at the expense of their own nation, just like the African chieftains who used to sell fellow Africans into slavery.

In such subservient brown countries, discord often grows between the state and the citizens, repression intensifies, and the leaders find themselves increasingly isolated and paranoid of their own people. The leaders then start trusting and favoring only people from their closest circle, as well as foreigners, more than all other locals. Soon in this process, all significant opportunities in business, in government, and especially the security and intelligence branches of government, become the preserve of a small, predatory clique with foreign and carefully selected local elements. Of course, the various aspects of this scenario play out differently from brown country to brown country, but the general outcome is usually the same; frustration, limited opportunities, and second-class citizenship for the local brown people, in their own country.

For brown people living in the West, the situation is also not ideal, albeit for different reasons. The list of day-to-day racism related life challenges brown people face in western countries is just too long to enumerate here. The worst such challenges such as police brutality, discrimination in the workplace, and the ghettoization of brown communities have been rampant in the West, and have once again become prominent through the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the same vein as the civil rights movement of the 1960s, these recent developments have the merit of exposing the pain and hardships brown people in the West have been experiencing for decades. Huge protests are erupting to demand the downing of statues depicting historical ‘white racist’ figures, to demand that people kneel as a sign of outrage to the George Floyd killing, to demand reparations for the ill treatment brown peoples have endured in the past. Brown peoples’ tempers and frustrations are once again reaching boiling point in front of western oppression and injustice. However, to many well-intended observers, the types of demands brown people in the West are making to correct the situation and hopefully crush the scourge of racism seem superficial, ineffective, and perhaps even naive.

In order to defeat something as entrenched and deep as racism, a different premise might be needed. Perhaps each side of the racism issue, the western, white dominant side, and the global south, brown subjugated side, needs to re-examine its own frame of reference?

Today, as in teacher d’Assumption’s time in the 1930s, modern western civilization remains dominant and continues to exercise disproportionate power on the world; with each of the leading western countries exercising strong influence on specific ‘brown’ regions – the US in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and parts of the Middle East, the UK in Africa, Asia, and other parts of the Middle East, France mainly in its former African territories. That power is still derived from the West’s advances in technology, applied in various, more sophisticated fields of control; be it in surveillance and intelligence (via military satellites and cyber-tracking technology), subversive regime change methods (via color revolutions, co-opted local protests, or mainstream media ‘manufactured consent’ and leader-demonization campaigns), or good old, albeit more targeted, military operations (via drones, bombing campaigns, inter-ballistic missiles, or special ops interventions). On the economic front, the enactment of sanctions on brown countries that do not ‘toe the line’ has been a widely-used tool in recent years; with a flip side to this approach being the granting of western currency-denominated loans, with monies ‘created-out-of-thin-air’ and lent by western Treasury Ministries (or DFIs) to brown countries to ensure debt-driven ‘loyalty.’ On the political side, in a context of outward democracy since the 1980s, the use of data analytics and social media has been used to foster favorable, or at least non western-interest-threatening, electoral outcomes.

In light of all this, a modern-day teacher d’Assumption would say, “whites send satellites into space, blacks can’t make a bicycle. Whites are civilized. Blacks are savages.” The ‘satellites’ versus ‘bicycle’ part of that statement may be partly true, but it also infers important presumptions and omissions that should be brought to light and honored. As for the ‘civilized’ versus ‘savages’ part, it is a plain fallacy that should be exposed as such.

The presumption many westerners have about their technological superiority is that it came about exclusively from the brilliance and higher intellectual order of the white race. In reality, technological advancements truly surfaced in the 1500s in the European West, a period many would consider quite late in the historical process.

Ancient Greece, from which the modern western European civilization is thought to have emerged, learned extensively from ancient Egypt. Ancient Greece scholars in the fields of mathematics, philosophy, and medicine, learned from the ancient Egyptians. In other words, the way today’s scientists and technologists travel to Europe and the US to gain knowledge, is the same way ancient Greeks would travel to Egypt to gain knowledge. The great ’embarrassment’ western tradition has tried to keep under wraps for centuries, has tried to ‘deflate’ through Hollywood misrepresentation, has fought in bad faith in the academic arena, is that the ancient Egyptians were black, and were the real ancestors of modern day Africans, from across the continent and in the diaspora. Today’s core Egyptian population comes from a mix between different successions of historically newcomers to Egypt; notably Turks and Arabs. In the ancient world, black people from Egypt, who became ‘browner’ during the later Pharaonic dynasties after centuries of conquests and ‘métissage/mixing’ with lighter conquered people (we’re seeing the reverse today), dominated the world. This question should be finally settled and taught. Not out of pride to claim some ancient glory, but for humanity to learn and reflect on the lessons of the past, without falsifying the past.

‘Western’ mathematics and in particular algebra, without which modern technology would not have come about, were initiated by the Persians and later developed by the Arabs. To understand the importance of just this contribution, one should just try and write, never mind calculate, 10,354 x 726 in Roman numbers! This fact although it is more widely known and better accepted than the ‘ancient Egypt was black’ cover up, has also been largely ignored and set aside by the modern West. Once again, perpetuating the idea that white western ingenuity solely deserves the credit for the technical advances humanity now enjoys in the modern world, is a criminal cover-up that impairs progress in the racism discussion.

In any case, and perhaps from a more philosophical perspective, scientific and technological advancement should not be boasted over for as long as it hasn’t resolved the ultimate human aspiration, which is the avoidance of death. In our modern times, the dominant West should reflect upon the true extent of its power. As a spiritual leader once declared in the course of an argument with a western materialist, during which the latter was marveling at the supremacy of rationale epistemology, technology and science, “if you’re so smart, don’t die!” It might thus be helpful for today’s dominant group who prides itself for the preeminence of its technology, and thus for the preeminence of its power, to reflect on the reality that despite these advances, despite a particular group living in better material conditions than others, the finality of all humans on this earth has remained the same. It is also perhaps the reason why the ancient Egyptians were so obsessed with immortality; the ultimate frontier of their power. To this day, that frontier has not been reached.

When it comes to the notion that having greater mastery of technology makes a particular group more ‘civilized’ than another, despite the many lessons we have from History on this assertion, most of today’s dominant West appears to not have taken heed. Just looking at recent history, one could reflect on how in the first few months of WW2, the Wehrmacht conquered Europe through its ‘blitzkrieg/lightning war’ and superior military technology. Did those accomplishments make the Third Reich more ‘civilized’ than the rest of Europe? Why then carry this contention that dominance over brown people all over the world by means of higher technology, and thus power, makes one more ‘civilized?’ On the moral and civilizational spectrum, justice administered with crude weaponry will forever remain higher than injustice committed with ballistic missiles and drones.

After all, power, then and now, whatever its source and whatever its form, when it is exercised unjustly for the sake of a few, rather than justly for the sake of many, has a name: it is called tyranny.

On the brown side of the discussion, the re-framing might begin with a sharper sense of reality.

Despite proclamations to the contrary and an urge to lecture the world about freedom, democracy, equality for all, modern western civilization does not practice what it preaches. It likes to act as the victim when it is the aggressor. It co-opts a mainstream press compromised by special corporate and ideological interests. It supports brutal regimes that do its bidding and decries legitimate other regimes that defy the current order. It establishes states through genocide of indigenous populations, tolerates discrimination against second-class minority groups, talks about liberty but expects everyone to conform to western cultural norms. Yet, many brown people the world over, perhaps as a coping mechanism, pretend not to see the huge gap between the outward western assertions on freedom, liberty, and justice, and the inward reality of western power.

Once brown people realize that the modern western world order does function on the basis of quasi- imperial power dynamics with a dominant group and a subjugated group, they might also realize that progress will not happen on the racism question for as long as the technological gap between the parties does not subside. The reason for that comes from the other reality that the opposite of racism is mutual respect. If the West sees itself better than others because of its technological advances and the power that derives from it, while others seem incapable of matching western technology but aspire to the same living standards that this technology provides, there can be no mutual respect. The process of acquiring one’s own technology is essential not just to earn respect, but also to earn one’s real freedom. It is also an endeavor that is hard, complicated, onerous, and at times extremely dangerous. Brown people, just like other non-western Europeans have done, should consider this reality in their re-framing of the racism issue.

Between 1941 and 1945, the Allies, despite adhering to different political ideologies, worked together in order to defeat Nazism and had to catch up with German military technology as a matter of survival; it was an extremely arduous process. In the post-war era, being prevented from political and military autonomy, a humiliated and damaged Japan decided to catch up with western consumer technologies; it was also an extremely arduous process. Today, China is following and perhaps surpassing Japan’s footsteps on not just consumer, but on all commercial technologies. While post-Soviet/post-1990s Russia is doing the same on the military front. None of these countries were given a free pass to ‘catch up’! Nor did they waste time adding insult to injury by turning to others in plea for help and apologies. Brown people then, must learn those lessons and take heed.

A journalist once asked an African father-of-independence leader “what was,” in his view “the worst thing that can happen to a human being?” The old man paused for a short while, and then replied, “losing one’s dignity!”

Being poor and over-powered is not a degrading state to be in and of itself; most peoples at some point in their history have experienced that. However, looking for sympathy and apologies for one’s misfortune, expecting others to relinquish power and provide for one, being unwilling to make sacrifices in order to uplift oneself, is degrading and makes one the laughing stock of the world. In order to regain some respect that will help close the gap in the racism discussion, brown people and leaders in brown countries must make all necessary efforts to ‘catch up’ and regain some dignity. Brown people who pretend not to care for the benefits of modern life tend not to be very genuine and thus not deserving of respect. Brown people who are not prepared to make the efforts and sacrifices needed to ‘catch up,’ but are so keen to flock in and emulate institutions built by others instead of building their own, are also not deserving of respect. Then brown people who do manage to regain some level of power, and who in turn, for the sake of correcting past injustices, themselves become unjust, perpetrate the downward cycle of racism.

Perhaps, through this reframing of the racism issue, primary schoolteachers the world over will one day begin the day with a different statement?

“Satellites, locomotives and bicycles are the result of human ingenuity over the ages. They make our daily lives better and they can be a source of great power. However, these technological and material achievements, however great they maybe, should not make us arrogant or make us think ourselves better than those who have not reached them. They should become a means to bring justice and peace to the entire world.”

  1. Note: my father’s primary school teacher at the Lycée Faidherbe in 1930s St Louis, Senegal. 

نصرالله عصر التنوير وماكرون محاكم التفتيش

ناصر قنديل

العلمانية التي ظهرت كنظام سياسي وعقد اجتماعي للدولة الأوروبية المعاصرة، هي منتج سياسي وقانوني لثقافة أعمق نهضت على أكتاف الثورة الصناعيّة وتجسّدت في القرنين الثامن عشر والتاسع عشر بثورة العقل والمنطق. وما عُرف بعصر التنوير الذي قاده عمالقة بحجم فولتير وروسو ومونتسكيو، وتبلورت شعاراتها السياسية بالحرية والأخاء والمساواة في الثورة الفرنسية، بينما تبلورت فلسفته العميقة بالاحتكام للعقل، وكانت قطيعة مع تاريخ معاكس مثلته محاكم التفتيش الكاثوليكية التي دفع فيلسوف كبير مثل برونو وعلماء كبار مثل كوبرنيكوس وجاليلو ثمناً باهظاً لها بتهمة الهرطقة على قاعدة تحريم الاحتكام للعقل والعلم، بينما سياسياً واجتماعياً طورد الإصلاحيون باسم التبرؤ من البدع كما حدث مع الفيلسوف ميشال سيرفيه الذي أحرق حياً في جنيف بتهمة رفض عقيدة التثليث، فيما شكلت جرائمها بحق المسلمين في الأندلس أبرز ما حمله سجلها التاريخي تحت عنوان فحص الولاء لله، وشكلت فكرياً وثقافياً وجهاً من وجوه استمرار الحملات الصليبية.

في ما يشبه استعادة مناخات الحروب الصليبية يتبادل الرئيسان الفرنسي والتركي عبثاً بالعقائد والعواطف والانفعالات المنبثقة عنها، حيث يصب كل منهما من طرفه وفي البيئة التي يخاطبها زيتاً على نار حرب عبثية، لا يتورّع فيها الرئيس الفرنسي امانويل ماكرون عن التحدث عن أزمة في الإسلام، وإرهاب إسلامي، وفاشية إسلامية، أملاً بأن يتزعم جبهة تضم العلمانيين بداعي الدفاع عن حرية التعبير في شقها المتصل بالتغطية على ما يطال المقدسات الإسلامية، وتضم المتطرفين المسيحيين، الذين لا يخفون ضيقهم من تنامي حضور وتعداد المسلمين في فرنسا خصوصاً وأوروبا عموماً، وإلى الفريقين تضم اليمين الوطني الرافض لتكاثر المهاجرين من البلاد الإسلامية، أملاً بأن يشكل هذا الثلاثي مصدر زعامة تشبه زعامات بناها قادة الحروب الصليبية، بينما يسعى الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان، وفي ظل نزاع مصلحي بين الدولتين الفرنسية والتركية، لقيادة جبهة تضم الجاليات الإسلامية المقهورة تحت ظلم سياسات عنصرية في أوروبا، وتضم التنظيمات الإرهابية التكفيرية التي تشغّلها تركيا، وكانت فرنسا شريكها في التشغيل طوال سنوات الحرب على سورية، وتضم ثالثاً الشعوب العربية من المسلمين التي تسمع بصعوبة كلاماً منخفض الصوت لحكوماتها الواقعة تحت تبعية ذليلة لحكومات الغرب، فتعجز عن التجرؤ لمخاطبة الحكومات الغربية، والرئيس الفرنسي في المقدمة بلغة شجاعة تنتقد وتصحح وتعترض. وهذه الحكومات التابعة هي شريك لحكومات فرنسا وأوروبا في رعاية الجماعات الإرهابية وتشجيع الفكر التكفيري، لكن بغرض استعمال نتاج هذه الرعاية في ليبيا وسورية وليس في أوروبا.

في هذا القحط الفكري، والانفلات القاتل للعصبيّات، يخرج رجل دين معمّم من أتباع الرسول وعشاقه ليقود الدعوة للتعقل وتحمّل المسؤولية، ووضع النقاط على الحروف، مستعيداً المعاني العميقة لشعارات الثورة الفرنسية ودعوات روسو وفولتير، حيث الحرية هي الاحترام العميق لحرية المعتقد. وهو في الأولوية معتقد الأقلية والضعفاء والمقهورين، والأخاء هو الترفّع عن منطق التمييز العنصري على اساس الدين والعرق واللون والجنس، والمساواة هي نزاهة تطبيق معيار المحاكمة العقلية للمفاهيم قبل أن تكون المساواة أمام القانون، حيث لا يستوي نص تحريم الحرية والعقل تحت شعار معاداة السامية، ولو التزما كل التحفظ العلمي والضوابط الأخلاقية، وتطلق حرية بث الكراهيّة، ولو تمت بصورة عبثية تستخف بالضوابط الأخلاقية والقيمية للأخوة الإنسانية، تحت شعار حرية التعبير، فجادل رجل الدين المعمم، بلغة عصر التنوير كوريث لمنجزات الحضارة الإنسانية، من يفترض أنه الوصي على تنفيذ منتجاتها من الموقع الدستوري والسياسي، بعدما ارتضى أن يتحول إلى قائد جيش في الحرب الصليبية أو رئيس غرفة من غرف محاكم تفتيش.

كلام السيد حسن نصرلله في ما تشهده علاقة المسلمين والجاليات الإسلامية بالقضايا المثارة على مساحة أوروبا من وحي قضية الرسوم المسيئة للرسول والجرائم الإرهابية المتذرّعة بها، مرافعة فلسفية عقلانية تستعيد روح عصر التنوير والاحتكام للعقل، والحل الذي تبنّاه ختاماً لمرافعته، مستعيداً مقترح الأزهر بتشريع عالمي لتحريم النيل من المقدسات، حجر متعدد الأهداف في يوم الوحدة الإسلامية، بينما يتساءل بعض رجال القانون في فرنسا، لماذا لا تتم محاكمة أصحاب الرسوم المسيئة للرسول تحت بند العداء للسامية، أليس الرسول من أحفاد سام بن نوح، وقد روى الترمذي أن الرسول هو القائل بأن “سام أبو العرب ويافث أبو الروم وحام أبو الحبش”؟

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