Europa Scorned and Forsaken

October 8, 2021

By Alastair Crooke

Source

alia however, was a centrepiece to Paris’s strategy for European ‘strategic autonomy’. Macron believed France and the EU had established a position of lasting influence in the heart of the Indo-Pacific. Better still, it had out-manoeuvred Britain, and broken into the Anglophone world of the Five Eyes to become a privileged defence partner of Australia. Biden dissed that. And Commission President von der Leyen told CNN that there could not be “business as usual” after the EU was blindsided by AUKUS.

One factor for the UK being chosen as the ‘Indo-Pacific partner’ very probably was Trump’s successful suasion with ‘Bojo’ Johnson to abandon the Cameron-Osborne outreach to China; whereas the big three EU powers were perceived in the US security world as ambivalent towards China, at best. The UK really did cut links. The grease finally was Brexit, which opened the window for strategic options – which otherwise would have been impossible to the UK.

There may be a heavy price to pay though further down the line – the US security establishment are really pushing the Taiwan ‘envelope’ to the limit (possibly to weaken the CCP). It is extremely high risk. China may decide ‘enough is enough’, and crush the AUKUS maritime venture, which it can do.

The second ‘leg’ to this global inflection point – also triggered around the Afghan pivot into the Russo-Chines axis – was the SCO summit last month. A memorandum of understanding was approved that would tie together China’s Belt and Road Initiative to the Eurasian Economic Community, within the overall structure of the SCO, whilst adding a deeper military dimension to the expanded SCO structure.

Significantly, President Xi spoke separately to members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (of which China is not a part), to outline its prospective military integration too, into the SCO military structures. Iran was made a full member, and it and Pakistan (already a member), were elevated into prime Eurasian roles. In sum, all Eurasian integration paths combined into a new trade, resource – and military block. It represents an evolving big-power, security architecture covering some 57% of the world’s population.

Having lifted Iran into full membership – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt may also become SCO dialogue partners. This augurs well for a wider architecture that may subsume more of the Middle East. Already, Turkey after President Erdogan’s summit with President Putin at Sochi last week, gave clear indications of drifting towards Russia’s military complex – with major orders for Russian weaponry. Erdogan made clear in an interview with the US media that this included a further S400 air defence system, which almost certainly will result in American CAATSA sanctions on Turkey.

All of this faces the EU with a dilemma: Allies who cheered Biden’s ‘America is back’ slogan in January have found, eight months later, that ‘America First’ never went away. But rather, Biden paradoxically is delivering on the Trump agenda (continuity again!) – a truncated NATO (Trump mooted quitting it), and the possible US shunning of Germany as some candidate coalition partners edge toward exiting from the nuclear umbrella. The SPD still pays lip service to NATO, but the party is opposed to the 2% defence spending target (on which both Biden and Trump have insisted). Biden also delivered on the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Europeans may feel betrayed (though when has US policy ever been other than ‘America First’? It’s just the pretence which is gone). European grander aspirations at the global plane have been rudely disparaged by Washington. The Russia-China axis is in the driving seat in Central Asia – with its influence seeping down to Turkey and into the Middle East. The latter commands the lions’ share of world minerals, population – and, in the CTSO sphere, has the region most hungry and ripe for economic development.

The point here however, is the EU’s ‘DNA’. The EU was a project originally midwifed by the CIA, and is by treaty, tied to the security interests of NATO (i.e. the US). From the outset, the EU was constellated as the soft-power arm of the Washington Consensus, and the Euro deliberately was made outlier to the dollar sphere, to preclude competition with it (in line with the Washington Consensus doctrine). In 2002, an EU functionary (Robert Cooper) could envisage Europe as a new ‘liberal imperialism’. The ‘new’ was that Europe eschewed hard military power, in favour of the ‘soft’ power of its ‘vision’. Of course, Cooper’s assertion of the need for a ‘new kind of imperialism’ was not as ‘cuddly’ liberal – as presented. He advocated for ‘a new age of empire’, in which Western powers no longer would have to follow international law in their dealings with ‘old fashioned’ states; could use military force independently of the United Nations; and impose protectorates to replace regimes which ‘misgovern’.

This may have sounded quite laudable to the Euro-élites initially, but this soft-power European Leviathan was wholly underpinned by the unstated – but essential – assumption that America ‘had Europe’s back’. The first intimation of the collapse of this necessary pillar was Trump who spoke of Europe as a ‘rival’. Now the US flight from Kabul, and the AUKUS deal, hatched behind Europe’s back, unmissably reveals that the US does not at all have Europe’s back.

This is no semantic point. It is central to the EU concept. As just one example: when Mario Draghi was recently parachuted onto Italy as PM, he wagged his finger at the assembled Italian political parties: “Italy would be pro-European and North Atlanticist too”, he instructed them. This no longer makes sense in the light of recent events. So what is Europe? What does it mean to be ‘European’? All that needs to be thought through.

Europe today is caught between a rock and a hard place. Does it possess the energy (and the humility) to look itself in the mirror, and re-position itself diplomatically? It would require altering its address to both Russia and China, in the light of a Realpolitik analysis of its interests and capabilities.

The Ukraine claims to be ready for an imminent war, today or tomorrow :-)

September 10, 2021

The Ukraine claims to be ready for an imminent war, today or tomorrow :-)

by Andrei for the Saker blog

Well, we heard that, what, 10’000 times already?  Probably.

But is this a reason to simply ignore yet another tsunami of hysterics coming out of Kiev?

I mean, I get it: North Stream 2 has been completed today, all that’s left is a bunch of paperwork (which the Poles and Ukies are still trying to sabotage by offering to “participate” in the bureaucratic processes). Barring any last-minute “creative solutions” by the 3B+PU gang, the gas itself should start flowing on October first.  And since the “Turkish stream” is already working, it is true that Russia has successfully bypassed all the crazies and is now offering its energy to Europe directly.

As for the “West” and its values, well, let’s just say that greed is far more sacred to the West than its own propaganda.  How do we know that? Nobody offered the Ukies any “compensation” or, even less so, “security guarantees”.

The US/NATO/UK/EU have clearly shown that while they love to act like the infamous “civilized” “White Man” with his famous “burden”, they have no stomach for screwing around with Russia for real, not in the Black Sea, not in the Ukraine, not in the Baltic and not in the North or anywhere else.

In other words, the Ukronazis feel ditched and are watching the events in Afghanistan in utter horror.

Also, since the Ukronazis always said that Russia will attack the Ukraine as soon as NS2 is completed, so in a way, there is a logic here: since NS2 was completed today, therefore Russia must attack today.  Especially since the Zapad 2021 military maneuvers have started (and they are involving a bigger and much more capable military force than the entire military power of the 3B+PU countries).

In the Ukie logic, this all means that Russia will attack today or tomorrow at the latest, from both Belarus and Russia.  BTW – Lukashenko was in Moscow yesterday and the two countries signed 28 documents further integrating Russia and Belarus economically and militarily.  As for political integration, Putin and Lukashenko both said that first, the two countries must align their economies before going into stuff like a single currency or even a single Parliament.  So that is for the (not too far away) future.

Then there are the various statements from top Ukro officials.

Zelenskii declared that a war is now inevitable.  He also stated that the Ukronazi armed forces were now amongst the most formidable on the planet and that NATO would “lose” without the Ukraine and the EU would become very weak (he was not joking).

The head of the Ukronazi Security Council, Danilov, not only agreed, but he said that if the Ukies see an impending Russian attack, the Ukies would attack first and “liberate” the Donbass.  He got a standing ovation from the Ukronazi corner.

The head of the Ukrainian military admitted that he daydreamed about, listen to this, a Ukrainian military parade on the Red Square in Moscow, with Ukie flags and all (that old Polish wet dream again…).

Remember the other “NATO candidate” Saakashvili who lost a war against a small Russian military force in 3 days only?  He now declared that if Russia attacks the Ukraine, all the US would send, at best, is warm blankets and inflatable boats.  He is right.  Welcome to reality Ukies!

As for the official Ukie media (all non-regime-run TV channels have now been banned), let’s just say that they “further amplified” the feelings of Ukie politicians and leave it at that.

Foreign Minister Lavrov reacted to all that by saying that the folks in Kiev were “schizophrenics”.  Peskov also spoke of mental problems.

So, will we have a full-scale war in Europe today or tomorrow?

Probably not.  HOWEVER

First, never say never, especially when dealing with schizophrenics.  Normal deterrence theory assumes what is called “a rational actor” on all sides.  The one thing which the Ukronazis sure ain’t is “rational”!

Second, you have to stop thinking like you normally do and imagine yourself in, say, Ze’s skin.  Objectively, for them, a continuation of, well, maybe not “peace”, that has not happened since the Ukronazi coup, but at least “low simmering” war might well be WORSE than a full-scale war with Russia.  The kind of “non-full-war” which the Nazi-occupied Ukraine has been (barely) surviving is a surefire way to a final, total, collapse.  Not only that, but Ze & Co. probably do realize that even if Russia does openly intervene, it would at most be to liberate the rest of the Donbass and probably move towards the Mariupol direction.  Sure, the Russians would probably do to the Ukies something similar to what they did to Saakashvili and basically defang the Ukraine, but remember that in 08.08.08 the Russians were already advancing on Tbilissi and stopped not because the “invincible Georgian army” stopped the invader, but because the Russians have ZERO need for anything Georgian once their fangs have been removed, least of all any need to enter their capital.  In fact, the Russians quickly packed and left, leaving just enough forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia to make darn sure that they would never be attacked again.  This is most likely what the Russians would do in case of a war with the Ukraine, only at a larger scale.  But now think like Ze: Saakashvili himself is not in power, but he is alive, got plenty of money and basically is living a good life (in their minds, at least).  He did not get lynched by angry Georgians (who did put him on an international wanted list for many of his crimes).  Ze would much rather be the future Saakashvili than the future Mussolini, and that goes for a lot of them.  Sure, the Ukronazi true believers will all be killed by Russians, but the top folks will do what ex-President Ashraf Ghani did and pack their money and run.

Third, dumb and desperate (D&D) rulers always see war as a solution to get the flag-waving kind to blindly support them.  I vividly remember how Argentinian General and dictator Galtieri pulled off exactly that with his ill-fated liberation of the Malvinas/Falklands from the Brits (which, of course, I support 110% on principle, but the execution was nothing short of terrible, by the fault of Argentinian politicians and Galtieri himself (and the local commander too, Mario Menendez).  And that is a trick which every President except Trump pulled at least once while in office (and he basically also did that with the murder of Soleimani which was an act of war).

The Neocons still seem to be dreaming of attacking somebody, anybody, but following the monumental faceplant in Afghanistan, there are very few nations out there that the US can seriously take on (Monaco?  Lichtenstein?  Costa Rica (which has no military to begin with)?  Grenada (no military either, but lots of very bad and even traumatic memories for the US)?  Not the Vatican, the ceremonial Swiss guard might do what it did during the insurrection of 1792 and declare “We are Swiss, the Swiss do not part with their arms but with their lives. We think that we do not merit such an insult. If the regiment is no longer wanted, let it be legally discharged. But we will not leave our post, nor will we let our arms be taken from us” (yes, tiny Switzerland had a proud and very interesting history, and she only became the Empire’s cheap prostitute in 1990).  And today’s Swiss guards at the Vatican could change their (rather silly) ceremonial uniforms, but on real fatigues and fight to the end.  I don’t see these genius super-warriors taking them on 🙂

So – war later today or tomorrow?

No, probably not.

But the fact is that the Ukies simply have no other choice than to try all they can to trigger a war sooner or later (but preferably sooner).  For these Nazi schizophrenics war is, REALLY, preferable to peace.  Remember for all the butthurt crazies on other websites who were going into hysterics every time I spoke of “Nazis” in the Ukie context, the fact remains that while Ze initially came to power as a total NON-Nazi (while Poroshenko’s gang was “the real deal”), the fact that Ze is, literally, a clown and has no real power base other than the pro-peace Ukrainians whom he totally betrayed, resulted into the Ukie Nazis taking de facto control of the Ze regime.

Just like the Neocons are a minority in the USA, but one which sets the agenda no matter who is in power in the White House, so are the Ukronazis: a minority, but one which sets the agenda.  And “their” Ukraine is, truly, an anti-Russia, something which Putin publicly declared a “red line” which Russia will never allow.

See any venues for compromise here?

Me neither.

Finally, a war would allow the Ukronazis to “consolidate” their power in the western regions of the (historically real) “Ukraine” which Russians will certainly stay away from (Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk, etc.).  Most of the locals *truly* are non-Russians and have never been Russians in the past.  The Ukronazi ideology is still popular there, so the Ukronazis can create their little and landlocked “Nazi Taiwan” and give up a country they cannot control, if only because it is entirely artificial, and accept a smaller country, but once which makes more sense and which they can control.

So “something” is definitely coming.  It might be a stupid stunt like trying to pass under the bridge to Crimea or some major terrorist attack (that is the one thing which the SBU is actually pretty darn good at, we should not dismiss them too quickly!).  Or this, the Ukies are regularly flying all types of drones over the Donbass and even over Crimea.  What if they sent a manned aircraft of some kind?  It will be shot down for sure (even over the LDNR).  They can also set off a false flag very very easily (just like the Czechs recently did): blow up some major civilian infrastructure object which the cannot be maintained (no money, all the specialists gone) anyway and blame it on Putin and, of course, “Petrov and Boshirov”.

I think of that as a “home made MH-17” (the initial one was clearly a US operation like KAL007 many years ago).

We cannot predict what “it” will be, but we can be sure that will be 1) very visible 2) very ugly 3) very bloody.

Yes, the Russians are as ready as can one can be.  But the Ukies will have the advantage of choosing the time and place.  This means that the SVR/GRU must now carry the burden of making darn sure that the Ukronazis authorities are chock full with SVR/GRU agents and even officers: it is vital for Russia to make sure that the Kremlin gets any such Ukie plans even before they are finalized in Kiev.  Удачи вам, ребята! (good luck guys!).

Andrei

Nuances of a silent expansive explosion

Nuances of a silent expansive explosion

September 09, 2021

By Fabio Reis Vianna for TheSaker blog

When the world system was still in its infancy in that appendix of the Eurasian continent we know today as Europe, Babur, the King of Kabul, entered India from the northwest to establish the Mughal Empire in 1526, outlining an empire that would later be consolidated by his grandson Akbar (1556 – 1605).

The splendor of the great Eastern civilizations took place in a historical period when the world’s economy, cultural activities, and military power were concentrated in places such as China, India, and the ancient Persian Empire, now known as Iran.

The strategic withdrawal of China of the Ming – the most advanced civilization among the great pre-modern empires – from the great expansionist game, may have been the delimiting point between the before and the after of the geopolitical rise of those, as historian Paul Kennedy would say, “dispersed and relatively unsophisticated peoples who occupied the western part of the Eurasian landmass”, namely, the Europeans.

The Chinese vacuum still remains a great mystery to many historians: Why would Admiral Cheng Ho have withdrawn his fleet and that great rising civilization have given up its expansion toward an undisputed hegemonism in the Eurasian world system?

More than five hundred years after these events, we see the current hegemon of the modern world system, heir to the violent and predatory expansionism invented by the Europeans, withdrawing in an impromptu manner from that territory that in the past was part of the great Mughal Empire of King Babur and his grandson Akbar, Afghanistan.

According to most Western media analysts, the US withdrawal from Afghan territory should have been done in a coordinated manner with the puppet government, allies, and after all the Afghans who collaborated with the invasion and occupation had already left the scene.

It so happens that both the abrupt exit from Afghanistan, and Biden’s first speech justifying the exit, would confirm something that analyses centered on an American leadership of the past no longer follow.

The current expansive explosion of the world system, which began in the 1970s and shaped itself into imperial contours after the collapse of the Soviet Union, seems to be at a unique moment and certainly generated by pandemic chaos.

It is true that even before the Covid-19 crisis the increase in competitive pressure was already visible, reflecting the entry into the game of the new emerging powers, especially Russia and China.

The intensification of interstate competition, therefore, would have led the United States to give up its global leadership based on the diffuse values of the so-called “Liberal Order” instituted after World War II.

The 2017 national security strategy published during the Trump administration, which in practice had already been outlining and deepening since the first incursion into Iraq in 1991, would now reveal itself without masks.

The tearing of the fantasy of the old benevolent hegemon had come true.

The big news of what happened in Afghanistan would be revealed at the last G7 meeting, when the European leaders demanded from the United States a more responsible posture in its global leadership.

However, what is still hard for the European allies to understand, or accept, is that the United States has given up any global leadership, and in this new strategic configuration – which was not a point out of the curve created by the erratic Trump administration – the national interest, and only the national interest of the United States, will be the priority.

This being so, and taking into consideration that the United States’ military presence in Afghanistan, paradoxically, would not be negatively affecting the Chinese economic projects, and, on the contrary, favored them by guaranteeing stability in the region, it is absolutely plausible the line of reasoning that would justify the way out: to establish chaos in a region where the Eurasian enemies would be interested in stability.

The fourth expansive explosion of the world system reveals itself in frightening appearances by indicating, besides the increase in competitive pressure and the escalation of conflicts in itself, a displacement of what the professor of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, José Luís Fiori, would call a “black hole” of destructive force.

The black hole, therefore, would be at this very moment moving to a new war epicenter, which would probably be the Indo-Pacific, as well as previously unthinkable regions such as South America itself.

In a recent poll, USA Today indicated a rise in Joe Biden’s unpopularity rating after what happened in Afghanistan, which could have erroneously indicated a possible step backwards in the American exit. However, what is likely to happen is just the opposite: the bid for more systemic chaos and global destabilization.

The world system feeds on the permanent expansion of power, and this becomes even clearer when those at the top of the system find themselves challenged and losing ground to their adversaries.

More than ever perhaps the time has come for the Eurasians to fill that void left by Admiral Cheng Ho’s squadron in 1433.

Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor of laws (LL.B), MA student in International Relations at the University of Évora (Portugal), writer and geopolitical analyst. He currently maintains a column on international politics at the centennial Brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil.

أولويات جديدة لواشنطن تصيب الحلفاء بالذعر


أيلول 1 2021

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 ناصر قنديل

لم يعد مهماً النقاش مع الذين حاولوا بحسن نية ومخاوف مشروعة، أو بسوء نية لتجميل صورة الهزيمة الأميركية، بالقول انّ واشنطن انسحبت من أفغانستان ضمن خطة هجومية لتفجير ألغام بوجه روسيا والصين وإيران، فكل ما جرى منذ الإعلان الأميركي بدء الإنسحاب يظهر حجم الارتباك الأميركي، وحجم الانهزام السياسي الذي تتحرك تحت وطأته، وجاء المثال غير المسبوق في كيفية التعامل الأميركي مع ما بعد تفجيرات مطار كابول وسقوط الجنود الأميركيين بين قتلى وجرحى، وخروج القيادة الأميركية بعدها لتسريع الإنسحاب غير آبهة بمعنويات جيشها وسمعتها ومهابتها، التي كانت إصابتها بأضرار أقلّ مما حدث في مطار كابول كافية لغزو دول وإشعال حروب، ونصف النفوذ في العلاقات الدولية يقوم على المعنويات والمهابة، ويظهر في المقابل أنّ الثلاثي الروسي الصيني الإيراني يتفاعل إيجاباً مع ما بعد الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان، ورغم كل الحذر الذي حكم تاريخ العلاقة بحركة طالبان، تبدو علاقات الثلاثي مع طالبان وأفغانستان ما بعد الإنسحاب مفتوحة على المزيد من الإيجابية، ويكفي كمثال، بقاء السفارات العائدة لهذه الدول في كابول تقوم بمهامها، في ظل سيطرة طالبان وعدم شعورها بالذعر الذي اجتاح السفارات الغربية، وتالياً الامتناع الروسي الصيني عن التصويت على المشروع الفرنسي البريطاني الذي أقرّه مجلس الأمن، والذي يخاطب طالبان بلغة التحذير والشروط.

لم تعد واشنطن تخفي الخلاصة الرئيسية التي حكمت قرارها بالانسحاب من أفغانستان، وتحملها الجراح المعنوية لتبعات الانسحاب، والجراح المادية التي رافقته، وجوهر هذه الخلاصة كما بكرر الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن، أن القوة العسكرية لم تعد أداة صالحة للتأثير في نوعية أنظمة الحكم في الدول التي كانت تلجأ واشنطن الى الحرب لإلحاقها بمعسكر التبعية، وفرض المثال الغربي عليها، ورسم سقف جديد لمبررات التدخلات العسكرية يجعل الأمن القومي الأميركي هدفاً وحيداً تستخدم القوة العسكرية في حمايته، والمقصود هو حماية الداخل الأميركي من أي خطر حصراً، وهو هدف وجود القوة العسكرية في الدول الصغرى، بعكس كلّ نظريات المدى الحيوي للمصالح الذي قامت عليه نظريات التوسع والهيمنة، وتمييز الدول الكبرى والدول العظمى عنها، واللجوء الى الأدوات السياسية والاقتصادية والحروب الناعمة لتحقيق المصالح الاستراتيجية الأميركية، وفقا لما يرسمه بايدن وإدارته، في الحديث عن مواجهة قادمة مع الصين أو مع روسيا، وخصوصا مع إيران، وبالبداهة فإن من عجز عن تغيير أفغانستان بالقوة لا يمكن أن يفكر بالحرب مع إيران.

يثير المنهج الجديد لرسم الأولويات الأميركية عاصفة من التداعيات، لدى أقرب الحلفاء لواشنطن، ولا يحتاج المرء الى التنقيب عن المواقف الصارخة والمتكررة في دول حلف الناتو الأهم، سواء بريطانيا أو فرنسا أو سواهما، ليكتشف مصطلح الخيانة الأميركية، أو أن واشنطن ظهرت حليفاً لا يمكن الاعتماد عليه، أو حليفاً غير جدير بالثقة، والوصول لاستنتاجات من النوع الذي صاغه جوزيب بوريل مفوض السياسة الخارجية للاتحاد الأوروبي عن الحاجة لبناء قوة عسكرية أوروبية مستقلة عن واشنطن والناتو للدفاع عن المصالح الخارجية لدول الاتحاد، وهو كلام كاف للتعبير عن الذعر الذي يصيب الحلفاء الذين بنوا سياسات دولهم على الاستثمار المشترك في الحروب تحت الراية الأميركية، ويسمعون بالتغيير الأميركي من الإعلام، وهو ما قصده بوريل بعدم سؤال أوروبا عن رأيها، والقصد ابعد من قرار الانسحاب من أفغانستان، وهو جوهر التخلي عن الرهان على القوة العسكرية لفرض المصالح السياسية، وهذا يكشف حجم الذعر الأوروبي من الاستراتيجيات الأميركية الجديدة، بمعزل عن مدى قدرة أوروبا على بلورة تدخلات عسكرية مؤثرة دون الاستناد على القوة الأميركية، وهو ذعر لا يخص أوروبا وحدها، بل يصيب كل الحلفاء الذين بنوا علاقتهم بواشنطن، على حجم تأثير قوتها العسكرية، وبنوا سياساتهم وعدواتهم وصداقاتهم على إعتبار هذه القوة وتأثيرها عاملاً غير قابل للتغيير.

في طليعة المذعورين في المنطقة، ثلاثة، كيان الاحتلال الذي سارعت نخبه السياسية للحديث عن قلق مصيري ووجودي في ضوء الاستراتيجية الأميركية الجديدة، التي عبر عنها قرار الانسحاب من أفغانستان، والذي يتوقع «الإسرائيليون» أن تليه انسحابات، ولو تأخرت قليلا، من العراق وسورية، ويبشرون بمرحلة مقبلة عنوانها «إسرائيل» وحيدة، أمام موازين قوى تغيّرت بعكس صالحها في المحيط القريب والبعيد، الطرف الثاني الذي بدأ يستشعر بالخطر هو القيادات الكردية التي عملت في سورية تحت راية الاحتلال الأميركي، وقطعت كل جسور التواصل مع الدولة السورية بوهم أبدية الحماية الأميركية، أما الطرف الثالث الذي لا يخفي ذعره فهم عرب التطبيع الذين يشعرون بأنهم قد يكون عليهم دفع فواتير سيرهم وراء النصائح الأميركي بالتطبيع، فيما الأميركي غير مستعد لحماية توقيعه وموقعه في الصور التذكارية، مستعيدين تجربة الانسحاب الأميركي من لبنان وما رافقه من تداعيات يرويها الرئيس السابق أمين الجميّل في مذكراته، وتركه يواجه وحيداً التركة الأميركية المسماة بإتفاق السابع عشر من أيار الذي لم يصمد طويلاً بعد هذا الانسحاب، بعدما صار إلغاؤه شرطاً لاستعادة الحدّ الأدنى من الاستقرار مع الداخل اللبناني والجار والشقيق السوري الذي أخذ الأميركي على عاتقه تحجيمه لحماية الاتفاق، كما وعد دول التطبيع بتحجيم إيران.

البعض يضع قمة بغداد بين قوسين، بصفتها قمة المذعورين، لوصل منخفض مع إيران استعداداً للآتي، كي لا يكون أعظم، بعد انسحابين متوقعين للقوات الأميركية من كلّ من سورية والعراق.

The ‘Great Reset’ in Microcosm: ‘Data Driven Defeat’ in Afghanistan

August 30, 2021

Alastair Crooke

There is little mystery as to why the Taliban took over Kabul so quicklyAlastair Crooke writes.

Nation-building in Afghanistan arrived in 2001. Western interventions into the old Eastern bloc in the 1980s and early 1990s had been spectacularly effective in destroying the old social and institutional order; but equally spectacular in failing to replace imploded societies with fresh institutions.  The threat from ‘failed states’ became the new mantra, and Afghanistan – in the wake of the destruction wrought post-9/11 – therefore necessitated external intervention.  Weak and failed states were the spawning ground for terrorism and its threat to the ‘global order’, it was said. It was in Afghanistan that a new liberal world vision was to be stood-up.

At another level, the war in Afghanistan became another sort of crucible. In very real terms, Afghanistan turned into a testbed for every single innovation in technocratic project management – with each innovation heralded as precursor to our wider future. Funds poured in: Buildings were thrown up, and an army of globalised technocrats arrived to oversee the process.  Big data, AI and the utilization of ever expanding sets of technical and statistical metrics, were to topple old ‘stodgy’ ideas.  Military sociology in the form of Human Terrain Teams and other innovative creations, were unleashed to bring order to chaos. Here, the full force of the entire NGO world, the brightest minds of that international government-in-waiting, were given a playground with nearly infinite resources at their disposal.

This was to be a showcase for technical managerialism. It presumed that a properly technical, and scientific way of understanding war and nation-building would be able to mobilize reason and progress to accomplish what everyone else could not, and so create a post-modern society, out of a complex tribal one, with its own storied history.

The ‘new’ arrived, as it were, in a succession of NGO boxes marked ‘pop-up modernity’.  The 18th century British statesman Edmund Burke, of course, had already warned in Reflections on the Revolution in France, as he witnessed the Jacobins tearing down their old order: “that it is with infinite caution” that anyone should pull down or replace structures that have served society well over the ages.  But this managerial technocracy had little time for old ‘stodgy’ ideas.

But, what last week’s fall of the western instituted regime so clearly revealed is that today’s managerial class, consumed by the notion of technocracy as the only means of effecting functional rule birthed instead, something thoroughly rotten – “data-driven defeat”, as one U.S. Afghan veteran described it – so rotten, that it collapsed in a matter of days. On the extended blunders of the “system” in Afghanistan, he writes:

“A retired Navy SEAL who served in the White House under both Bush and Obama reflected,[that]  “collectively the system is incapable of taking a step back to question basic assumptions.” That “system” is best understood, not simply as a military or foreign policy body, but as a euphemism for the habits and institutions of an American ruling class that has exhibited an almost limitless collective capacity for deflecting the costs of failure.

“This class in general, and the people in charge of the war in Afghanistan in particular, believed in informational and management solutions to existential problems. They elevated data points and sta­tistical indices to avoid choosing prudent goals and organizing the proper strategies to achieve them. They believed in their own provi­dential destiny and that of people like them to rule, regardless of their failures”.

Whatever was not corrupt before America arrived, became corrupt in the maelstrom of that $2 Trillion of American money showered on the project. American soldiers, arms manufacturers, globalised technocrats, governance experts, aid workers, peacekeepers, counter-insurgency theorists and lawyers – all made their fortunes.

The flaw was that Afghanistan as a liberal progressive vision was a hoax in the first place: Afghanistan was invaded, and occupied, because of its geography. It was the ideal platform from which to perturb Central Asia, and thus unsettle Russia and China.

No one was truly committed because there was really no longer any Afghanistan to commit to. Whomsoever could steal from the Americans did so. The Ghani regime collapsed in a matter of days, because it was ‘never there’ to begin with: A Potemkin Village, whose role lay in perpetuating a fiction, or rather the myth of America’s Grand Vision of itself as the shaper and guardian of ‘our’ global future.

The true gravity for America and Europe of the present psychological ‘moment’ is not only that nation-building, as a project intended to stand up liberal values been revealed as having ‘achieved nothing’, but Afghanistan débacle has underlined the limitations to technical managerialism in way that is impossible to miss.

The gravity of America’s present psychological ‘moment’ – the implosion of Kabul – was well articulated when Robert Kagan argued earlier, that the ‘global values’ project (however tenuous its basis in reality) nonetheless has become essential to preserving ‘democracy’ at home:  For, he suggests, an America that retreats from global hegemony, would no longer possess the domestic group solidarity to preserve America as ‘idea’, at home, either.

What Kagan is saying here is important – It may constitute the true cost of the Afghanistan débacle. Every élite class advances various claims about its own legitimacy, without which a stable political order is impossible. Legitimating myths can take many forms and may change over time, but once they become exhausted, or lose their credibility – when people no longer believe in the narrative, or the claims which underpin that political ‘idea’ – then it is ‘game over’.

Swedish intellectual, Malcolm Kyeyune writes that we may be “witnessing the catastrophic end of this metaphysical power of legitimacy that has shielded the managerial ruling class for decades”:

“Anyone even briefly familiar with the historical record knows just how much of a Pandora’s box such a loss of legitimacy represents. The signs visibly have been multiplying over many years. When Michael Gove said, “I think the people in this country have had enough of experts” in a debate about the merits of Brexit, he probably traced the contours of something much bigger than anyone really knew at the time. Back then, the acute phase of the delegitimization of the managerial class was only just beginning. Now, with Afghanistan, it is impossible to miss”.

There is therefore, little mystery as to why the Taliban took over Kabul so quickly. Not only did the project per se lack legitimacy for Afghans, but that aura of claimed expertise, of technological inevitability that has protected the élite managerial class, has been exposed by the sheer dysfunctionality on display, as the West frantically flees Kabul. And it is precisely how it has ended that has really drawn back the curtain, and shown the world the rot festering beneath.

When the legitimating claim is used up, and people no longer believe in the concepts or claims that underpin a particular system or claim to rule, the extinction of that particular élite, Kyeyune writes, becomes a foregone conclusion.

The Afghanistan Debacle: When Will They Ever Learn?

August 24, 2021

British and Australian armies’ veteran, former deputy head of the UN military mission in Kashmir and Australian defense attaché in Pakistan

Brian Cloughley

President Biden should reset in the Marshall mode and concentrate on forging amity and cooperation while combating the real enemies of humanity

Following World War Two, Europe was reeling from the devastation of so many years of savagery that it seemed it might never recover. The casualty figures are staggering, with, in addition to the Soviet Union’s some 25 million, about seven millions were killed in each of Germany and Poland, and 800,000 in France, 1.7 million in Yugoslavia, and half a million in each of Austria, Italy and Greece. The majority of these people were civilians and the surviving citizens of all these countries were suffering gravely from the catastrophe, not the least hazard being actual starvation.

The United States had only a handful of civilian casualties and prospered greatly from the commercial demands of war. In consequence it was in a position of immeasurable economic and military ascendancy and fortunately was governed by an administration that, by and large, was sympathetic and prepared to be supportive in alleviating the misery of the countless millions in Europe who seemed to have nothing in their future but endless hardship.

President Truman and his State Department brought their considerable talents to bear and constructed a scheme whereby shattered Europe could be best assisted. As noted by the History website, the 1948 European Recovery Plan was “The brainchild of Secretary of State George C Marshall, for whom it was named.” It was “crafted as a four-year plan to reconstruct cities, industries and infrastructure heavily damaged during the war and to remove trade barriers between European neighbours — as well as foster commerce between those countries and the United States.” In its final essence it didn’t entail a great deal of actual sacrifice on the part of the U.S., and in fact benefitted the agricultural community and the economic furnace that had been so effective in winning the war.

Nevertheless it was based on good will, charitable feeling, and concern for humanity, as expressed by Marshall himself in June 1947 in a speech delivered at Harvard University where he declared “It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.”

If only there had been more Marshalls in later years, the world would be a better place. Certainly, the United States would be in a position of international economic supremacy — but it wouldn’t have invaded and almost destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq and blitzed Libya into an even worse shambles than it created further east.

And as the U.S.-Nato military alliance staggers out of Afghanistan, defeated but grovelingly defiant, it should be giving thought to what has happened in that benighted country and planning for the future on the basis of what it has learned. The problem is that Nato doesn’t seem to have learned anything by its absurd foray, and is indeed intent on widening its horizons in order to attempt to justify its existence. The best lesson from Nato’s Afghanistan debacle (and its eight month bombing fandango that destroyed Libya’s economic infrastructure and encouraged home-basing of terrorist groups where none had formerly dared set a foot) is that it would be globally beneficial if Nato were to disband, but we have to be realistic and accept that common sense will not prevail in that regard.

Along the same lines, it would be sensible for Washington to objectively assess the value of the vast number of U.S. military bases around the globe, and inform U.S., openly and without qualifications or caveats, exactly what benefit their existence is supposed to offer to the U.S. and to the rest of the world. But again the signs are not good, as indicated on August 16 when an anonymous White House official spoke about a visit to Singapore and Vietnam by Vice President Kamala Harris and told the Washington Post that in spite of the concurrent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan she would continue with her trip because “Given our global leadership role, we can and we must manage developments in one region while simultaneously advancing our strategic interests in other regions on other issues. The United States has many interests around the world, and we are well-equipped to pursue them all at the same time.”

When will they ever learn?

Does President Biden genuinely believe that his Administration is “managing developments” in Afghanistan? Why is he determined to continue pursuing the supposed strategic interests of the U.S. by deploying increasing numbers of troops and ships and planes and missiles all round the globe to confront China and Russia and provoke them to react against the “global leader”?

The Washington establishment may have heard or read the latest pronouncement from the European Union concerning the wider effects of the Afghanistan debacle, but unfortunately it is unlikely it will prompt an objective analysis. On August 19 Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, affirmed to the European Parliament and the world at large that “this is a catastrophe… Let me speak clearly and bluntly: This is a catastrophe for the Afghan people, for Western values and credibility, and for the developing of international relations.”

What the rest of the world is waiting for is an alternative use of the word “reset” by the Administration in Washington. Instead of conducting another “reset” aimed at military domination and increasing confrontation with China and Russia, President Biden should reset in the Marshall mode and concentrate on forging amity and cooperation while combating the real enemies of humanity as a whole. An Economist/YouGov poll in early 2021 indicated that “Most Americans think of China and Russia as our country’s greatest enemies. Of the two, China is the most frequently mentioned threat, followed closely by Russia”, and it is disconcerting that the U.S. President appears to be making no effort whatever to reduce international tensions.

President Biden should reflect on the civilised declaration by General George Marshall that “our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos” and consider how much better a world he could help forge if he concentrated the mightiness of the United States against the challenges presented by so many desperate problems besetting the peoples of the world.

Imagine what a Marshall Plan could achieve today.

But it seems unlikely that the U.S. Administration will consider any such thing, and it is painfully evocative of the 1960s folk-song “Where have all the flowers gone” which contains the evocative phrase “When will they ever learn?” When, indeed?

Joint Declaration of the International Crimea Platform participants

August 23, 2021

Joint Declaration of the International Crimea Platform participants

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Adopted and opened for joining on August 23, 2021, Kyiv, Ukraine

The Participants in the International Crimea Platform,

being guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Paris Charter for a New Europe, as well as rules and principles of international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law, taking into consideration the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/262 “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine” and subsequent resolutions on the human rights situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, and on the problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov,

recalling that the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974, entitled “Definition of aggression” states, inter alia, that no territorial acquisition or special advantage resulting from aggression is or shall be recognized as lawful,

taking into account the provision of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 75/192 which calls upon Member States to engage constructively in concerted efforts, including within international frameworks on Crimea,

emphasizing the universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and reaffirming that the Convention sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out,

taking into consideration the order, delivered on 19 April 2017 by the International Court of Justice on the request submitted by Ukraine for the indication of provisional measures, while the case is pending, in the case concerning the Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation), which imposes on the Russian Federation the obligation to refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar people to conserve their representative institutions, including the Mejlis, and to ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language,

taking into consideration the decision, given on 14 January 2021 by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea) (application nos. 20958/14 and 38334/18), which concludes that Russia exercised effective control over Crimea as to the period from 27 February to 18 March 2014 and in respect of the period after 18 March 2014,

reaffirming commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters,

reiterating that the Participants in the International Crimea Platform do not recognize and continue to condemn the temporary occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea, which constitutes a direct challenge to international security with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States,

The Participants in the International Crimea Platform condemn

the continued violations and abuses and systematic undue restrictions of human rights and fundamental freedoms that residents of Crimea face, such as the right to peaceful assembly, the rights to freedoms of expression and opinion, religion or belief, association, restrictions on the ability to seek, receive and impart information, as well as interference and intimidation that journalists, human rights defenders and defence lawyers face in their work,

the ongoing militarization of Crimea that undermines security and stability in the wider Black Sea region,

impediments to navigational rights and freedoms exercised in accordance with international law, including obstructing free passage of ships through the Kerch Strait to and from the Sea of Azov, and underlining that such impediments have negative economic consequences for Ukraine’s ports in the Sea of Azov and international trade flows,

the continued change of the demographic structure in the occupied peninsula by the resettlement of Russian citizens to Crimea,

The Participants in the International Crimea Platform decided 

to establish the International Crimea Platform as a consultative and coordination format with the aim of peacefully ending the Russian Federation’s temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and to restore control of Ukraine over this territory in full accordance with international law,

to continue implementing the policy of  non-recognition of the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation,

to consider further political, diplomatic and restrictive measures towards the Russian Federation, if provided for by the legal jurisdiction of each Participant and in line with respective procedures, when appropriate and should Russia’s actions so require,

to address emerging challenges and evolving hybrid threats resulting from the ongoing militarization of Crimea and to support joint efforts to strengthen resilience to those threats in the context of growing threats to security and stability in the Black Sea region,

to recommit to strongly opposing any unilateral attempts to challenge and change an international order based on the rule of law, and express determination to protect, maintain and strengthen the rules-based international order, including a legal order for seas and oceans, based on respect for the international law of the sea including as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,

to urge the Russian Federation to comply with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law and other applicable international law, to urge the Russian Federation to bring an immediate end to all violations and abuses of human rights of residents of Crimea and to provide full and unimpeded access to Crimea for established regional and international monitoring mechanisms, in particular the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, as provided for in their existing mandates, which cover the entire territory of Ukraine, including Crimea, as well as for human rights non-governmental organizations,

to unite efforts aimed at protecting the rights and freedoms of the civilian population living in the occupied Crimea and achieving the immediate and unconditional release of Ukrainian citizens unlawfully detained or convicted for political reasons by Russia and its state agents, both in the territory of the occupied Crimea and in the territory of the Russian Federation,

to urge the Russian Federation to ensure that all persons belonging to ethnic and religious communities in the peninsula, including ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, are fully able to enjoy their human rights and given the possibility to maintain and develop their culture, education, identity and cultural heritage traditions, which are currently severely threatened by the temporary occupation,

to use appropriate mechanisms of the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, other international and regional organizations to address issues related to the temporary occupation, to consider implementation of other mechanisms, as appropriate, and to consult, exchange and coordinate their efforts within international organizations as appropriate, at international conferences, forums and other events where Crimea is discussed,

to consider supporting economic, infrastructure and environmental projects that would contribute to the further development of Ukraine’s regions adjacent to the temporarily occupied Crimean peninsula,

to establish a network of constant and rapid communication between the representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (to set up Crimea focal points),

to recognize the role of national parliaments in addressing the temporary occupation of Crimea and to encourage the coordination of activities on Crimea between national parliaments as well as within inter-parliamentary assemblies,

Participants finally

welcome necessary joint diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,

underline that any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as an integral part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine is not and will not be recognized, and that Russia’s efforts to legitimize the temporary occupation and illegal seizure are unacceptable,

reiterate their commitment to maintaining pressure on Russia to end the temporary occupation by Russia of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and to restore Ukraine’s control over the territory,

welcome the establishment by Ukraine of the national Office of the Crimea Platform,

welcome the establishment of the International Crimea Platform Expert Network with a view to supporting its activities, and invite international and national non-governmental organizations, think-tanks and the expert community to contribute to the network’s activities,

look forward to the eventual return of the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to Ukraine and restoration of their autonomous status as stipulated in the Constitution of Ukraine, and pledge their support to the residents of this territory with regard to restoring their rights and freedoms, enshrined within the Constitution of Ukraine, and improving the socio-economic situation in the peninsula,

call on the Russian Federation to engage constructively in the activities of the International Crimea Platform aimed at ending the temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.


Ed: It is difficult to find a definitive list of participants by name and country.  The following was reported:
Forty-four foreign delegations will take part in the inaugural summit of the Crimea Platform.Fourteen foreign delegations will be led by heads of state and government.

“On August 23, 44 countries and international organizations, including 14 heads of state, government, and the European Union, will become the founders of the Crimea Platform,” Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba said at an online briefing on Thursday, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

In particular, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova, Slovenia, and Finland will be represented at the level of presidents. The President of the European Council will also take part in the Crimea Platform.

Romania, Georgia, Croatia, and Sweden will be represented at the level of prime ministers.

Two countries – Switzerland and the Czech Republic – will be represented by the speakers of parliaments.

Fourteen countries will attend the summit at the level of foreign ministers: Turkey, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland, Denmark, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.

Britain and Portugal will be represented by defense ministers, while the United States will be represented by the transportation secretary, a special envoy of President Joe Biden.

Norway will be represented by the Secretary of State to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The European Commission will be represented by Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, NATO – the Deputy Secretary General, the Council of Europe and GUAM will be represented at the level of the Secretary General.

Seven countries – New Zealand, Malta, Japan, Australia, Cyprus, Canada, and Greece – will be represented by ambassadors.

“So, a total of 44 foreign delegations and 45 participants together with Ukraine. I want to emphasize that these countries become the founders of the Crimea Platform regardless of the level of representation,” the Ukrainian minister emphasized.

He also noted that the Crimea Platform had already surpassed all previous international events hosted by Ukraine in the number of high-level delegations represented at the summit.

“Ukraine has never hosted such an international event before,” Kuleba said.

The Crimea Platform is a new consultative and coordination format initiated by Ukraine to step up the efficiency of international response to the occupation of Crimea, respond to growing security challenges, increase international pressure on Russia, prevent further human rights violations, protect victims of the occupation regime, and achieve the main goal: to de-occupy Crimea and restore Ukraine’s sovereignty over the peninsula.

The Platform is to operate at several levels: heads of state and government, foreign ministers, inter-parliamentary cooperation, expert network.

The activity of the Crimea Platform will be officially launched at the inaugural summit in Kyiv on August 23, 2021.

https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-polytics/3300438-fortyfour-countries-and-organizations-full-list-of-crimea-platform-participants-announced.html


Ed: These are the only speeches that can be found at time of writing:By Zelensky: Crimea is Ukraine’: Zelenskyy opens inaugural Crimea summit – https://www.euronews.com/2021/08/23/crimea-is-ukraine-zelenskyy-opens-inaugural-crimea-summit

by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the Crimea Platform Inaugural Summit – https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_186167.htm?selectedLocale=en

by President Charles Michel, the Office of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe – https://www.coe.int/en/web/secretary-general/-/inaugural-summit-of-the-crimea-platform


Reported from Tass: Kremlin castigates Crimea Platform forum as anti-Russian event – https://tass.com/world/1329101

Moscow views the so-called Crimea Platform summit that opened in Ukraine as an unfriendly act towards Russia, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

“We regard this event as extremely unfriendly towards our country. We absolutely do not accept such assertions relative to the Russian region, to Crimea. In this regard, the attitude is absolutely clear: we view it as an anti-Russian event,” the Kremlin spokesman affirmed.

After the Western-backed state coup that occurred in Ukraine in February 2014, the authorities in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol held a referendum, in which 96.7% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and reunite with Russia.

On March 18, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the treaty on the reunification of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with Russia, which was ratified by Russia’s Federal Assembly (parliament). Despite the convincing results of the referendum, Kiev refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky who spoke at the UN General Assembly in September 2020 revealed his plan to establish this so-called Crimea Platform. According to Kiev’s intent, the forum must become a platform “for coordinating international efforts aimed at returning Crimea to Ukraine.” As its organizers announced, delegates from about 40 countries and international organizations had agreed to come to the forum.

Commenting on the gathering initiated by Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lambasted it as “a coven where the West will continue to groom neo-Nazi and racist attitudes of the current Ukrainian authorities.”

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated on August 21 that Russia will “take note” of the position of the countries that would take part in the forum and “will make corresponding conclusions.”.

Wither Germany?

Wither Germany?

August 21, 2021

Germany has been the keystone of the failing EU. Does it intend to remain so, or is it time to pursue its own interests?

by Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

Germany has been and still is the most important economy in Europe, the export-driven colossus and if not yet the most important imperial power; that designation belongs to France with its Force de Frappe (Nuclear Strike Force), and additionally the UK which is also a member of the nuclear club but has since left the EU remains as a loyal – and oh so loyal! – member of NATO. (1) However, Germany is without question the most dominant country in Europe and still the main creditor and funder of euro states. Looking back to the rise of (West) Germany was a key presence in the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951. These various states pooled the coal and steel resources of six European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg which became known by the acronym – BENELUX. These states would be collectively known as “the Six”. It was argued that the pooling of coal and steel resources greatly reduced the threat of war between France and (West) Germany.

It was perhaps entirely predictable that Germany with its system of Bismarckian style guided capitalism would emerge to poll position in this imperial club. At the time France had other, imperial and pressing commitments in Algeria and Indo-China, the British had commitments more or less everywhere East of Suez, and even little Belgium had problems in the Congo (Zaire). Germany had no such incumbrances on its economic development and was thus free to power ahead with its version of guided, bank-funded capitalism, and avoid the pitfalls of Anglo-American financialised capitalism. Under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Economics Minister Ludwig Erhard Germany’s rebirth was dubbed the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle). A far-reaching contract between business and labour unions allowed the rapid rebuilding of industry and strong growth, creating the foundations of an economic powerhouse.

THE GERMAN MODEL

The centrality of Germany and German economic policy in this shifting economic montage requires attention to the gradual increasing dominance of what is the de facto European economic dynamo. It was perhaps inevitable that Germany would – in economic terms at least – become the regional hegemon in this continental configuration. After all,

‘’ … it had a globally competitive industrial base, pivoting on automobiles, chemicals and machine tools. Its exports enabled it to command vast surpluses on current account thus providing the wherewithal to lend globally.’’(2)

The peculiarities of the Anglo-American financialised system has not been replicated in Germany. To be sure Germany has a large and growing service sector similar to the financialised Atlanticist models this much is true; but Germany has also systematically defended its industrial sector, not least by manipulating the exchange rate to protect its exports of which many go to the other member states of the EU. The German manufacturing sector enjoys high levels of productivity, is export-based with relatively strong labour unions in wage negotiations compared to the rest of the private sector. But this did give rise to a two-tier labour market. The ‘good’ jobs were to be found in the export industries and the not so good jobs tended to be located in the internal domestic service sector.

‘’What happened from 2003 onwards to enable German capitalism to exploit its workers more intensely than before? In 2003-2005 the Social-Democratic Party (SPD) government implemented a number of wide-ranging labour-market reforms, the so-called Hartz Reforms, after one Herr Peter Hartz. The first three parts of the reform package, Hartz I-iii, were mainly concerned with, (i) mainly creating new types of employment opportunities (ii) introducing additional wage subsidies, (iii) instructing the Federal Employment Agency. The final parts of Hartz (iv) was implemented in 2005 and resulted in a significant cut in the unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. Between 2005 and 2008 the unemployment rate fell from almost 11% to 7.5%, barely increased during the Great Recession of 2008 and continued its downward trend reaching 5.5% at the end of 2012, although it is still higher than was the case during the global period of expansion in the 1960s.’’ (3)

GERMAN BANKING – FUNDS INDUSTRY AND DEVELOPMENT AT ALL LEVELS.

Perhaps what was more important has been the banking system in Germany and its relationship to German industry.

1.1 Savings banks (Sparkassen and Landesbanken)

German savings banks are usually owned by the cities and villages. Formerly, each city had its own savings bank. Over the past 20 years, many savings banks have merged due to the competitive situation. As opposed to the big private Banks – Deutsche Bank, Commerz Bank whose main interests are in housing and stock market investment – the small and medium banks operate with a local focus.

Although the savings banks have been losing customers for a number of years, they are still among the best-known. Often, the accounts are open, because the savings bank is “on the spot”. Later, when one has to deal with more finances, then there is often a change to another bank that is more cost-effective or offers better services. These banks provide funds to industry at good rates of interest, and this particularly applies to small start-up firms.

1.2 Volksbanken / Raiffeisen Banken (cooperative banks)

This is the next best-known bank organization in Germany. VR-banks – their abbreviation – are cooperative banks (Genossenschaftsbanken). They are organized similar to associations and are owned by their members. Members may only purchase very few shares of the bank so that no single person is enabled to have too much influence on the business of the bank.

Just like the savings banks, the Volksbanken have to deal with a loss of customers. Although they have many branch offices, they can often not keep up with the price and service of the modern direct banks. In Germany, there are several hundred different VR-banks. They belong to the cooperative banks. Another successful innovation and feature of German development was the technical education of the German labour force.

GERMAN TECHNICAL EDUCATION – SMEs AND THE MITTELSTAND

The success of the German economy is driven by its small and medium Enterprises ( SMEs), a group to which more than 99 per cent of all firms in Germany belong. These companies account for more than half of Germany’s economic output and almost 60 per cent of jobs. Approximately 82 per cent of apprentices in Germany do their vocational training in an SME.

These small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), also known as the ‘Mittelstand’, (4) are the country’s strongest driver of innovation and technology and are renowned across the world. Companies that want to keep their competitive edge must be at the forefront of new developments. A study on SMEs commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy shows that innovative SMEs will continue to drive the success behind the ‘Made in Germany’ trademark. Provided that they embrace new trends, particularly digitisation, and that they find ways of recruiting the skilled labour they need, even in times of a skills shortage, SMEs have every opportunity to remain successful in their chosen specialised niche markets.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy wants Germany’s SMEs to embrace new challenges and remain vibrant, strong, and innovative. This is why the ministry is working on many levels to strengthen the Mittelstand’s competitiveness, its capacity to innovate, and its ability to create jobs.

SMALL, DIVERSE, DYNAMIC, PIONEERING

Germany’s small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) play a defining role in the country’s economy. Germany’s economic model derives its strength not from a small number of dominant players, industries, or industrial regions, but from the fact that Germany has a wide range of companies – small, medium-sized and large – that are based in locations all across Germany, specialise in all sorts of different sectors, and often form close networks with one another.

Germany’s Mittelstand, is extremely diverse. Family-owned companies that were established generations ago, trendy start-ups, traditional crafts firms, self-employed people and service providers, retailers and freelancers, pioneering high-tech companies, regional suppliers and global players. The size of these  SMEs ranges from one person to several hundred employed across the globe. The Mittelstand has many well-established brands, but also newcomers and lesser-known brands that still deliver the same standard of quality, precision and innovation. It is this high level of diversity that makes it so strong.

The Mittelstand also acts as a strong partner for large corporations, across the entire value chain. Mittelstand companies are often highly specialised and produce the type of up and downstream products that enable large corporations to create innovative and complex products, services and systems solutions

Moreover, the Mittelstand is global in its reach. Some 44 per cent of German companies export their capital goods or intermediate goods to other markets, thereby contributing to the success of the German economy. At least one in two German firms that turn over 2 million euros or more per year are exporting companies. Even small companies benefit from venturing on foreign markets. This is attested by the fact that even very small firms generate an average of over 20 per cent of their turnover from exports.

THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY AND THE DOUBLE WHAMMY

The German Economic model which had performed so well compared to its competitors – during the period from the Wirtshaftwunder until the 21st century – outmatched both European and North American rivals. But of course this golden age was to stutter in the late 1990s – the dot com bubble – and collapse completely during the 2008 and the property price debacle. For all its efficiency the German economy was, like the rest of the world, engulfed in the double whammy of the EU/euro crisis and the 2008 blow-out. Figures for growth make interesting reading.

(These are World Bank figures for declining growth rates in both the developed and developing economies for the period of 1960s through 2009.

1960s = 4.9%

1970s = 3.93%

1980s = 2.95%

1990s =2.7%

2000/09 = 2.58%

It should be by now common knowledge that the global economy has been on a downward path for decades as can be seen from the above figures. Moreover, with the possible exception of China and some other East Asian dynamos, these figures did not improve in the post-2008 era, quite the contrary.

Suffice it to say that the 2007/2008 explosion of the speculative bubble was avoided with massive injections (hmmm, sounds familiar) of ‘liquidity’ basically the extension of credit to the banking sector. Starting in 2008 the European Central Bank (ECB) lent the European banks money at an interest rate of 1%. (As did the Fed on the other side of the pond.) Predictably these same banks used that liquidity for speculation rather than lending to the productive sectors. In passing, we may say the Anglo-American financialised model – at least for Europe – didn’t work and given the objective situation shows no signs of working. In addition, the euro was stillborn with different rates of growth and trade between sometimes diverse member states. The euro was extended to other euro states, and particularly those in the southern bloc, which were far from enjoying the levels of productivity of the northern bloc. Europe’s weaker and less productive countries and thus of international competitiveness could not live with Germany’s productivity levels and low costs. The southern bloc could not devalue the euro – the centre-piece of the euro economy – and they ran up trade deficits with the German-dominated northern bloc which consistently ran up trade surpluses. Most commentators knew this apart from the brain-dead euro-elites who seemed impervious to the situation.

Given these fundamental geopolitical and economic changes Germany would be wise to now examine its options.

At the present time, another deeper and all-encompassing economic and financial crisis has occurred. The EU has, for better or worse, already had to swallow the departure of the UK from the EU; and it is not too difficult to imagine that this is only the beginning of a process of dissolution, particularly in light of the present and future possible political/economic developments. Moreover, the whole brouhaha which has already been instanced by the Nordstream-2 episode represented a win for one particular German faction – in this instance the business class – which now appears to be reorientating to a longer-term strategy of a pivot to Eurasia. It would appear to have won against the political class – including those lovely Greens who seem hot for a war against Russia. The German political and ideological class would appear to inhabit a different time-warp, circa 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall and moreover being hopelessly fixated with NATO, liberalism, globalism and everything American, including woke ideology.

The same German business elite, however, seeks parallel factions together with other similar groupings in other financially strong and reliable countries, who wish to seek the expansion of Germany toward China and Russia. There are obvious reasons for this move. Both these countries have immense reserves of raw materials. Secondly, the level of Chinese economic growth and the size of its market is way above those of the EU. Thirdly, Germany’s relative technological superiority is an ideal for the inter-trade appropriation of Chinese surplus value. Fourthly, if bilateral trading relations continue at the current pace, Beijing will become Germany’s main trading partner by early 2023 at the earliest. Fifthly, for China, Germany, is the optimal country for the best investment opportunities.

So this is the current situation with the Nordstream-2 instalment concentrating the minds of those who have read the runes of Germany’s future development with newer and dynamic trading partners east of the Oder-Neisse line. We shall wait and we shall see for such developments.

NOTES

(1) In this respect the French and British nuclear deterrents should be seen as little more than geo-political phallic symbols by two second-rate declining powers.

(2) Costas Lapavitsas – The Left’s case against the EU – pp, 33, 35)

(3) The Long Depression – Michael Roberts – The Hartz Reforms – The Failing Euro Project – pp.153-155.

(4) Mittelstand – commonly refers to small and medium-sized enterprises in the German-speaking world, particularly in Germany, Austria and parts of Switzerland,

News conference following Russian-German talks

August 20, 2021

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66418

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With Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at a news conference following Russian-German talks. Photo: TASS

With Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at a news conference following Russian-German talks. Photo: TASS

(The formal transcript is not fully released yet, but this page will be updated as it gets released.)

Update: The formal transcript is now complete on this page.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s talks with Madam Federal Chancellor were traditionally constructive and business-like.

We had an in-depth discussion, including with the participation of the delegations, on the current state of Russian-German relations and their prospects and exchanged views on a wide range of issues.

As you are aware, this visit by Ms Merkel is special since she is about to step down as Federal Chancellor after the parliamentary elections in the Federal Republic in September. But I want to say right away that we will always be delighted to see Ms Merkel in Russia as a welcome guest.

The fact that Angela Merkel has been heading the government of the Federal Republic for as long as 16 years inspires respect. She has been leading one of the largest, leading European countries with confidence, and she is rightfully among the most authoritative European and world leaders.

Over many years of working side by side, we have developed a good business relationship. We maintained regular contacts and close communication, discussed pressing bilateral matters and strived to coordinate our positions on challenges of global politics.

Occasionally, of course, we saw thing differently, but our dialogue has always been candid and meaningful and was aimed at reaching compromises and solving the most complicated challenges.

Importantly, Germany is indeed one of Russia’s priority partners in politics and the economy.

Speaking about Russian-German trade and economic ties, I would like to note that despite the coronavirus pandemic, which remains a major hindrance to restoring our business contacts in full, mutual trade has begun to expand. In January-May, this figure reached almost 33 percent to exceed $21 billion. Counter capital investment has come close to the $30 billion mark.

Russian-German Economy and Sustainable Development years are being held in 2020–2022. Businesspeople and entrepreneurs of the two countries are communicating at numerous events held as part of this campaign, and a number of promising joint projects in trade, the manufacturing industry and agriculture are being discussed in the process.

We have major projects that everyone is aware of. They are being implemented, and we very much hope that we will have more of them.

Of course, many pressing issues of international politics were touched upon during today’s talks.

Due to the rapidly unfolding events in Afghanistan, we prioritised this issue. The Taliban now controls almost the entire territory of that country, including its capital. This is the reality, and we must proceed from this reality as we strive to avoid the collapse of the Afghan state.

It is imperative to put an end to the irresponsible policy of imposing outside values ​​on others, to the desire to build democracies in other countries according to other nations’ “patterns” without regard to historical, national or religious specifics and totally ignoring the traditions of other nations.

We know Afghanistan, and we know it well enough to understand how this country functions and have had the opportunity to learn first-hand the extent to which trying to impose unusual forms of government or social life on it is counterproductive.

There has not been a single time when socio-political experiments of this kind succeeded. All they do is destroy states and degrade their political and social fabric.

At the same time, we see that the Taliban has already put an end to hostilities and is now seeking to ensure order, promising to guarantee safety for both local residents and foreign missions. I hope that this is how things will go.

The international community should keep a close eye on these developments with the UN Security Council playing a coordinating role.

There is one more point I wanted to make in this regard. We believe that it is essential at this point to prevent terrorists of all kinds from spilling over into Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours, including under the guise of refugees.

Among other international topics, we had a detailed discussion on promoting a settlement in southeastern Ukraine. As you know, Ms Merkel has done a lot to bring about a resolution to Ukraine’s internal crisis. She was at the origins of the Normandy Format, and we all worked together on ways of restoring peace in Donbass.

Unfortunately, so far we have not been able to accomplish this. Today, the Russian and German side expressed serious concern about the growing tension along the line of contact. We talked this over, and I hope that we follow up on this conversation in the nearest future. More than a thousand ceasefire violations have been reported since the beginning of August, and Donbass towns and villages face artillery fire every day.

Another matter of concern is that Ukraine has adopted a number of laws and regulations that essentially contradict the Minsk agreements. It is as if the leadership of that country has decided to give up on achieving a peaceful settlement altogether. In this connection, we ask Ms Federal Chancellor once again to exercise her influence over Ukraine, including during her upcoming visit to Kiev, to see that Ukraine honours its obligations.

Of course, we covered the situation in Belarus. Madam Chancellor touched on this issue as well. We believe that the differences in Belarusian society can only be resolved within the constitutional and legal framework and solely by the Belarusians themselves without any external interference.

When discussing the situation with the Iranian nuclear programme, Madam Chancellor and I expressed hope that once the new government in Iran has been formed, vigorous efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will resume. I informed Madam Federal Chancellor of my recent telephone conversation with the newly elected President of Iran.

As you are aware, Ms Merkel is committed to promoting an intra-Libyan settlement. Last January, I also took part in the Berlin Conference on Libya, which was convened on the initiative of Madam Chancellor, and the decisions it adopted helped improve the situation on the ground.

We believe that the international community should maintain a dialogue with all influential political forces in Libya in order to retain and build on the positive achievements that have yet to come.

We shared our vision of the state of affairs in Syria with our German partners. The ceasefire is in force throughout most of the country; the ruined economy and infrastructure are being rebuilt, but the terrorist threat still persists. Due to the illegal sanctions imposed on Damascus and the coronavirus pandemic, the socioeconomic situation there remains challenging.

We attach great importance to UN Security Council Resolution 2585, which was approved in July, on providing comprehensive humanitarian assistance to Syria. This is largely the outcome of the agreements reached during the Russia-US summit held in Geneva in June. We hope that the European countries, including the Federal Republic, will join in the efforts to help the Syrian people.

I would like to close by once again thanking Madam Federal Chancellor for our productive joint work – not only during today’s talks, but also during the previous years. I said it before, and I will say it again: we will always be delighted to see Ms Merkel in Russia.

Thank you.

Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (retranslated)Thank you.

President Putin, dear Vladimir, ladies and gentlemen,

Earlier today, at the beginning of my visit, I laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honour the memory of the fallen and as a reminder that 80 years ago Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

Today, we are very pleased to know that there is a dialogue going on between our governments, and our dialogue is constructive. Of course, we talked about different views and approaches to our joint decisions.

With regard to the nature of our bilateral relations, it is important to highlight a number of positive developments. I would like to mention economic relations, namely, the Year of Germany in Russia, which Mr President mentioned, during which a large number of meetings have taken place. In addition, there is an economic initiative involving the 1,000 Trainees project, which makes it possible for thousands of young Russians to take internships at German enterprises. These are the relationships that are very gratifying to have.

But, of course, we discussed the very depressing situation with Alexei Navalny. From our perspective, his sentence and imprisonment in a correctional facility were based on a court ruling that the ECHR found unobvious and disproportionate. This is unacceptable to us. I once again demanded that the President of Russia release Alexei Navalny and stressed that we would continue to monitor this case.

I also said that we are disappointed to see three German NGOs that have done a lot of work as part of the Petersburg Dialogue for cooperation between civil societies included on the list of objectionable organisations. I would like to know if it is possible to take these organisations off the list and to have the Petersburg Dialogue continue as before. From my perspective, this would send a very important message.

We also talked about bilateral economic relations, which are moving forward. In this regard, of course, we talked about Nord Stream 2. I would like to emphasise that this is not a bilateral German-Russian project, but a project of European dimension, because companies from other countries are also part of it.

In this context, we talked about the document concluded between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, and Mr President and I emphasised that Georg Graf Waldersee would act as a highly experienced negotiator with regard to gas transit through Ukraine beyond 2024. This is his assignment. We bear certain responsibility in this regard despite the economic developments that need to be taken into account.

In this context, we also discussed relations between Russia and the EU. It became clear that Russia is interested in entering an exchange with the EU on the “Fit for 55” climate package with account taken of cross-border carbon regulation and other problems. And I also noted that I am in favour of this approach.

Afghanistan was also among the current issues that we discussed today. This is a very important issue. We exchanged views, and I emphasised that it is very unfortunate that the Taliban are back in power in the country. However, this is how things stand. I also said that Germany believes helping people who had worked with Germany over the 20 years of NATO operations and missions in Afghanistan is currently a priority. We need to provide them refuge and ensure their safety in Germany and to take as many people as possible to Germany over the next few days.

I asked the Russian side to raise during the talks with the Taliban the question of UN humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, to make sure that it can be provided. The people who helped us, including those who assisted the Bundeswehr and the federal police, should be able to leave Afghanistan.

We also discussed developments in Ukraine. The Normandy Format is the only political framework we have for discussing these contentious issues. Currently the situation is in a deadlock. Unfortunately, Ukrainian service personnel are dying on the line of contact. I have always advocated reviving this format and giving it more weight. The last meeting was in December 2019, in Paris, and the goals we set back then were achieved both by the separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and by Ukraine.

I pointed out that I am ready to make further progress on this matter in the interest of the people of Ukraine, so that everyone can live in peace in Ukraine. This is what we stand for.

For us, the annexation of Crimea constitutes a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, we will insist on this point, and I will continue supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Speaking of Belarus, I stated that I firmly condemn the use of people, refugees from other countries who find themselves in a dire situation, as a hybrid weapon of sorts. I am referring to the situation on the border between Belarus and Lithuania.

Of course, we discussed developments in Libya and Syria. On Libya, we need to implement the outcomes of the Libyan conference, which called for a proportionate and reciprocal withdrawal of foreign mercenaries, while empowering Libyan forces to shape a future for the country they want. On this issue, Germany and Russia have a number of points in common.

We also talked about the challenges posed by climate change. Both Germany and Russia have suffered from natural disasters. In Russia, Siberia, even north of the Arctic circle, was especially hard hit. For this reason alone, we are convinced that we need to fight climate change, which calls for close cooperation. The same applies to a number of other international matters.

I wanted to say that over the past 16 years I have been to Russia 16 times, which is to say that I was open to contact. Talks between us have not always been easy. There has been a lot of debate and controversy around them, including on the international stage, but I always sought compromise. I think that there is no alternative, at least no reasonable one, to dialogue and the exchange of opinion. This invariably requires a lot of work. Everything could have been a lot easier, but our dialogue should continue. I have no doubts about this.

Thank you.

Question (retranslated): Madam Chancellor, you said you spoke in support of Alexei Navalny and in favour of his release today. Here is a question for you, President Putin: what is needed to set Alexei Navalny free and what is needed to put an end to the persecution of Alexei Navalny’s supporters?

And a question for both of you. Today is the anniversary of the attempted poisoning of Alexei Navalny. He published an article in which he demands fighting corruption, since it is the root of all evil. What do you think about this proposal, Mr Putin? For example, he demands imposing sanctions on the oligarchs that are close to you.

Vladimir Putin: With regard to the person you just mentioned, he was not convicted for his political activities, but a criminal offense against foreign partners.

As far as political activity goes, no one should be using political activity as a front to carry out business projects, which, on top of that, violate the law. This is the first part of what I have to say to your question.

Second, with regard to non-systemic opposition in general. I don’t remember seeing in Western countries, Europe or the United States – Occupy Wall Street in the United States or the Yellow Vests in France – these people enjoying much support on their way to representative bodies, including parliament. We do not see anything like that. Moreover, when, following the US elections, people entered Congress with political demands, more than 100 criminal cases were brought against them. And judging by the charges brought against them, they are facing long prison terms anywhere from 15 to 20–25 years, maybe even more. To be completely objective, please pay attention to this side of the problem as well.

As for us, our political system is evolving, and all citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to express their opinions on political issues, form political organisations, and participate in elections of all levels. However, this must be done within the limits of applicable law and the Constitution. We will do our best to keep the situation in Russia stable and predictable. Russia exhausted its limit on revolutions back in the 20th century. We do not want revolutions. What we want is evolutionary development of our society and state. I hope that this will be so. As for the decision of the judicial authorities of the Russian Federation, please treat these decisions with respect.

Fighting corruption is critically important, but it should not be used as a tool in a political struggle. We, as well as you, are well aware that this toolkit is used to achieve political goals and is recommended for achieving political goals by the organisations that are in charge of activities by people of this kind. Indeed, fighting corruption is critically important in and of itself, and it is our top priority, and we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to eradicate corruption in the broadest sense of the word.

Angela Merkel: I would like to emphasise that we have talked at length about the way we understand political systems and freedoms. I believe that the questions of good governance and fighting corruption are actually entwined.

Regarding Alexei Navalny’s call for more sanctions, I would like to say that today the European Union imposes sanctions in the face of the relevant facts but linking economic corruption to sanctions is never easy. Still, within the European Union we believe in the need to discuss these matters, since there is a genuine link between corruption and political activity, no matter where it takes place. This includes Germany, I believe. Fighting corruption requires independent courts, a free press, as well as non-profit organisations that refuse to play along.

Vladimir Putin: Overall, who should be fighting corruption? People who fully abide by the law themselves. This is an essential prerequisite for ensuring that these efforts are effective.

Question: Taking into consideration the ongoing developments in Afghanistan, what is your assessment of the 20-year operation by the US and its allies and its outcome? Can this be called a total failure and will it result in the US-led West to rethink its approach to imposing democracy on third countries?

I also have a question or rather a request for Madam Chancellor. You probably know that RT is preparing to launch a German-language channel, but unfortunately, the German authorities are doing everything they can to obstruct this project. First, the German banks were advised to close all RT accounts and not to open new ones. Now the German government is pressuring Luxembourg not to issue RT a broadcasting licence, and everyone knows this since the German media have been reporting on this issue.

Madam Federal Chancellor, please, help us enjoy freedom of expression.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding the operation in Afghanistan, it can hardly be described as a success. Quite the contrary, but concentrating on it for too long, emphasising this failure does not serve our interests.

We were interested in having stability in this country. But the situation is what it is. I think that many politicians in the West are beginning to realise what I just said in my opening remarks: you cannot impose political standards or behaviour on other countries and peoples, while ignoring their special nature, which includes the ethnic and religious structure and historical traditions. I think that eventually they will understand this, and this understanding will become the guiding principle in their realpolitik.

We saw what happened during the Arab Spring, now Afghanistan. However, it is important for our partners to make this rule universal and treat their partners with respect and be patient, whether they like something or not, they should still give these peoples the right to determine their future, no matter how long it may take them to bring democracy to their countries and regardless if they like what is happening in these countries or not. They must build neighbourly relations and respect each other’s interests in the international arena.

I think that this is the lesson we should learn from Afghanistan, and we should team up with our other partners – the United States and the European countries – we, that is Russia, must do whatever it takes to join our efforts today in order to support the Afghan people with the aim of normalising the situation in that country and establishing neighbourly relations with it.

Angela Merkel: With regard to Afghanistan, I would like to remind everyone about the starting point – the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago, in 2001. Back then, terrorist attacks on the United States were masterminded from Afghanistan. This started the fight against terrorism followed by NATO operations and missions.

The situation with terrorism in Afghanistan has improved since then, but the international community must fight the resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan. With regard to the other project, that is, the Afghan people’s overall stance regarding their own future, we failed to achieve our goals; I am openly admitting this.

In December 2001, [German] Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer convened a conference with all Afghan representatives at the Petersberg hotel and urged Afghans to find a common shared solution. While trying to cooperate for development, we did not want to impose our position on the Afghan people, but we saw millions of happy girls who were allowed to go to school and empowered women. Many people find the current situation upsetting. However, it should be noted that the Taliban received more support than we would like. We will now need to talk with them and try to save the lives of the people who are now in harm’s way so they can leave the country, and we can continue to work for the benefit of Afghanistan.

It would be disappointing to see progress in these areas taper off. I hope we will find entities that can help Afghanistan find a path of its own, and that we will not be exposed to the threat of international terrorism.

As for RT, Germany did not put any pressure on Brussels or the decisions it made. In Germany, neither the federal government nor the state governments engage in matters like that.

Question (retranslated): Madam Federal Chancellor, the Minsk agreements are 6 years old now, but Ukraine remains divided, and you yourself said that people along the demarcation line in Donbass are dying. Following your talks today, are there any concrete plans to hold new talks at the heads of state or government level, or should we conclude that the Normandy format has failed?

And a question for you, Mr President. Once the Nord Stream 2 is completed, can you guarantee that gas transit across Ukraine will remain in place, and if so, will this arrangement remain in force after Ms Merkel leaves the post of chancellor?

Angela Merkel: With regard to the Minsk agreements: we have failed to achieve the goals that we wanted to achieve. But this is the format we have, including the trilateral contact group, and talks with the separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

So, this format needs to be handled with care, but progress is not as good as I would like it to be. However, if we identify an agenda, we can make arrangements for high-level meetings and talks. But we need to know what to discuss. During my visit to Ukraine, I will be pushing for identifying this agenda, because any minor progress can be decisive. However, this represents a very ambitious goal and a very challenging task. There are many inputs here. I still recommend this format, even though it is taking more time than we wanted, but we still need to avoid a dead end.

Vladimir Putin: I agree with the Federal Chancellor regarding the Minsk agreements and the Normandy format. We have no other tool to achieve peace, and I believe that it should be treated very carefully and with respect, despite the fact that we have so far failed to achieve the ultimate goals of the settlement.

The Minsk agreements are enshrined in a corresponding UN Security Council resolution, and in this sense, the Minsk agreements have become international law.

We are concerned that during the official talks and in their contacts with the media, the Ukrainian side says one thing, but inside the country it says something very different. In fact, and I want to emphasise this, it is enough to look at what the top public officials are saying, and they are saying that they are not going to comply with the Minsk agreements.

Today, I informed the Federal Chancellor that another draft law has been submitted by the Ukrainian government. If this law is adopted – please read it, it is not a classified document, it is probably available online – it means that Ukraine will, in fact, withdraw from the Minsk process unilaterally. Because it is not just that only certain things contradict the Minsk agreements, everything there contradicts the Minsk agreements. This will mean Ukraine’s de facto withdrawal from these agreements. I hope that during her visit, the Federal Chancellor will use some of her influence and exert some pressure on the Ukrainian authorities, and that this law will not be adopted.

Now, with regard to gas transit. Indeed, the Federal Chancellor has always advocated this approach. Always, mind you, even during construction, which is about to be completed. There are 44 or 45 kilometres left to go. (Addressing Alexei Miller.) How many, Mr Miller? 15? There are 15 more kilometres across the sea to go. We can safely assume that this project is nearing completion. But the Federal Chancellor has always raised the issue of continuing transit across Ukrainian territory even after the expiry of the transit contract.

The first thing I want to say in this regard. First, today this issue was raised again by the Federal Chancellor during the talks. I assured the Federal Chancellor that we will fully comply with our obligations under the transit contract even after she leaves the office of Federal Chancellor. Russia will fulfil all its obligations. We are doing so now and we will continue to do so going forward.

Next, Nord Stream 2. Some people claim the project is politically motivated. This is a fallacy or an attempt to mislead people. It is 2,000 kilometres shorter than the Ukrainian transit route. And it is a modern environmentally friendly system, and I mean it. It uses innovative equipment which, I believe, cuts carbon emissions into the atmosphere during the transit of our hydrocarbons to Europe by five times. We just need to be aware of it and know it. And it is much cheaper than transit across Ukraine.

However, we stand ready, and I’ll say it again, I have already said it publicly before and I want to make a point of it now, that we stand ready to transit gas across Ukraine beyond 2024. But we must understand the timeframe and volumes. And for this, we must know, and our European partners must tell us, how much they are willing to buy from us. This is obvious.

We cannot sign a transit contract if we have not signed supply contracts with our consumers in Europe. With the green agenda, which is already underway in Europe, we are wondering whether anyone will be buying gas from us altogether and, if so, how much. This needs to be discussed.

In any case, this is a purely business matter. I mean there is yet another component that is the technical condition of the pipeline system. To reiterate, we are not only willing to discuss this, we are really willing to get there. This is especially true of our supplies to Southern Europe. Consumption is on the rise, and I hope it will keep rising in the years ahead. Today, there is no other, more reliable source than Russian gas for German and other European consumers.

Question: Mr President, Ms Merkel,

You have been in close contact during the past 16 years: you have met and have spoken by phone. There have been ups and downs in relations between Russia and Germany during those 16 years. In general, what is your appraisal of the results achieved over 16 years and what is your vision of the future of Russian-German relations?

Vladimir Putin: The question is not quite pertinent. I would rather not appraise the performance of the Federal Chancellor, as only the German people can do this, including at the upcoming elections to the Bundestag.

Indeed, our relations have lived through different times. We just noted that we have taken different approaches to assessing various situations. Nevertheless, cooperation between us over these years, despite the difficulties we faced throughout this fairly lengthy period, has expanded and become more diverse.

Today, we talked about the economic aspect [of our relations]. The Federal Republic is our second largest trade and economic partner next to China – over $7 billion… We invested about $7.5 billion – it is even $9.5 billion – in Germany, while our German partners invested $18 billion [in our economy]. Importantly, German companies largely operate in the industrial sector. We appreciate this.

Today, Madam Chancellor put forth some concrete questions in connection with – I understand this, as I do the same on our behalf – the need to safeguard the interests of German businesses in the Russian market. This has to do with the level of domestic content and the like. All these are current issues. Generally, the quality of our relations has changed fundamentally, getting, of course, better. Hopefully, after the elections and the change of government, this trend will remain in place.

Angela Merkel: I believe that, despite different political systems, we need to keep communications channels open and exchange opinions. This is evidenced by the global situation and the history of relations between Germany and Russia. Our countries have lived through different periods, some of them terrible and some very pleasant.

Of course, during my term as chancellor, the political systems in our two countries have developed in different directions, so there are some vital matters that need to be discussed. All these differences notwithstanding, we have always managed to keep the negotiating channel open. I hope I have managed to contribute to this. I will always say that a failure to maintain dialogue is a poor choice.

إعلان نهاية زمن القوة وتفكك الناتو والولايات المتحدة


الخميس 18 آب 2021

ناصر قنديل

تقول القرون الثلاثة الماضية أنّ الدول الغربية التي تولت بالتتابع قيادة الغرب بمشاريع استعمارية لم تبنِ قوتها العسكرية لحفظ أمنها، أو الدفاع عن جغرافيتها، أو ردع من يستهدفها، فالبرتغال وهولندا وإسبانيا وبريطانيا وفرنسا، وقد ورثتهم جميعاً وتولت توحيدهم وقيادتهم أميركا، بنوا قواهم العسكرية وحرصوا على فائض قوة هائل، لمنح المشروع الاستعماري الذي ظهر مع النهضة الصناعية  كتتمة لا بد منها للسيطرة على مصادر المواد الخام، والمعادن خصوصاً والنفط والغاز لاحقاً، والإمساك بالأسواق الاستهلاكية ولاحقاً باليد العاملة المهنية الرخيصة، وبدا واضحاً أيضاً أنّ كل تغيير شهدناه كان في شكل المشروع الاستعماري وعناوينه وليس في جوهره، فالحديث عن تصدير الديمقراطية هو تتمة الحديث عن تعمير بلدان ما وراء البحار، والقوة العسكرية كانت دائماً هي أداة الإخضاع والردع وبناء الحكومات التابعة، وحول هذه القوة تمّ بناء الأحلاف، ورُسمت السياسات، وجرى تحديد الاستراتيجيات.

عندما يقف الرئيس الأميركي ومن خلفه النخبة الحاكمة للإعلان عن أنّ الانسحاب من أفغانستان هو إيذان بنهاية زمن صناعة السياسة بواسطة القوة العسكرية، وأن هذا الانسحاب يترجم معادلة جديدة قوامها عدم استعمال القوة العسكرية لبناء دول تتبع النموذج الغربي، فهو يعلن نهاية قرون شكلت خلالها هذه القوة العسكرية صانع السياسة الأول، وكانت مهمّتها الرئيسية بناء حكومات تابعة في دول العالم، وهذه النهاية ستطرح أسئلة كبرى حول نوع القوة التي يحتاجها الغرب الذي تقوده أميركا للمهمة الجديدة التي قال الرئيس الأميركي أنها تنحصر بحماية الأمن القومي من خطر الإرهاب، وردع أي محاولة للاعتداء على الداخل الأميركي، كما يطرح السؤال حول مبرر الاحتفاظ بتلك القوة التي كانت لازمة لإخضاع العالم وخوض حروب السيطرة والهيمنة، واستطراداً ما هو مبرّر بقاء حلف الأطلسي الذي قال قادته أنه يحصد أكبر هزيمة في تاريخه، وقال قادته أنّ زعيمة الحلف قد خذلتهم، وأنهم عاجزون عن رسم سياسات بديلة من دونها، والسؤال حول  مستقبل حلف الأطلسي ليس مبالغة، فالدول المنضوية في الحلف لا تخشى من غزو خارجي بل كانت تتطلع لغزو بلاد الآخرين، فإذا كان هذا زمن مضى فلم تحتفظ بتمويل ولم تخصص الجهود والجنود للحفاظ على هذا الحلف؟

في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية ستتم عملية فكّ وتركيب اقتصادية وسياسية وفقاً للمنظور الاستراتيجي الذي فرضته الهزيمة في أفغانستان، فالقطاعات الاقتصادية المرتبطة ببناء الجيوش وتجهيزها وتخديمها، غير تلك الخاصة بالأسلحة النووية، باتت بلا جدوى، وحجم الجيوش صار موضع نقاش، والانتشار العسكري في العالم صار بحاجة إلى تدقيق، لصالح نظرية الحفاظ على بعض الوجود النوعي المتحرك بحرياً لحماية الملاحة في الممرات والمضائق، وترك اليابسة، وفي ظل فشل حروب السيطرة والصعود الروسي العسكري التقليدي، والصعود الصيني الاقتصادي، بالإضافة لذلك وتداعياته البنوية، وفي ظلّ هذه التحولات، يحقّ للشركات الأميركية التي كانت تستثمر على القوة العسكرية طلباً للسيطرة على المواد الخام والأسواق، وفرض معادلات التسعير في هذين المجالين بما يناسبها ويضعف فرص منافسة خصومها، أن تسأل عن مبرر مواصلة ذلك، وبمثل ما كانت عملية نهب المستعمرات وتحويلها إلى أسواق استهلاكية، مصدر الرفاه الداخلي في بلدان الغرب، ستخرج الولايات الغنية في أميركا ومثلها الولايات البيضاء العنصرية، لتسأل عن مبرّر البقاء تحت ظل الدولة الفدرالية والقيام بتمويلها، طالما أن هذه الدولة الفدرالية تستقيل من المهمة الرئيسية التي كانت تبرّر وجودها، وهي مهمة الهيمنة على العالم، تحت شعارات الديمقراطية.

الهزيمة الأميركية والغربية في أفغانستان زلزال عالمي أكبر من زلزال فييتنام، وتداعياته على الداخل الغربي والأميركي، أكبر من تداعيات الانسحاب على أفغانستان ودول الجوار، فالتداعيات الإقليمية تبدو تكتيكية وقابلة للاحتواء من القيادات الأفغانية ودول الجوار، بخلاف التداعيات الغربية والأميركية  التي تبدو استراتيجية إن لم تكن وجودية أصلاً، ويبقى السؤال الكبير الذي يطرحه قادة كيان الاحتلال هل يشمل هذا التغيير فرضية القتال الأميركي دفاعاً عن الكيان إذا ظهر مهدّداً بالزوال ومعرضاً للتفكك؟

مقالات متعلقة

Finnish President on Afghanistan: The West Has Failed

 

Finnish President on Afghanistan: The West Has Failed 

By Staff, Agencies 

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto viewed that Taliban’s rapid conquest of Afghanistan as a sign of failure on the part of the West, which did not succeed in building a democratic government and a democratic society in the country.

“The lesson we must learn from this is that it is quite difficult to introduce a completely new social structure and social thinking to another place. It takes many generations,” Niinisto said.

He further refused to comment on whether he sees entering Afghanistan in 2001 or leaving it now in 2021 as a mistake, emphasizing instead that bringing about change in society is more difficult than previously thought.

“I would not [like to] talk about mistakes. The conclusion is that it was a goal that was not achieved. From the beginning, there was a belief that everything would go in a good direction. Now we are faced with the truth that it is very difficult to change an entire country”, Niinisto said.

In parallel, the Finnish President stressed that the Taliban movement was constantly active in Afghanistan and was well prepared.

According to him, the immediate consequence of the situation in Afghanistan will be a likely wave of refugees leaving the country. However, Niinisto mused that it is still impossible to make accurate predictions about their numbers and destinations.

“So we must take a stand on the question of how many refugees Finland and Europe can receive so that good integration can be achieved,” Niinisto said with a likely reference to the migrant crisis of 2015, when Europe received 1.2 million asylum seekers in a single year, the highest since World War II.

Another relevant issue, according to Niinisto, is what stance the Taliban will assume after coming to power.

Resist or Perish

 July 25, 2021 

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Where are the crowds? They’re out in force across Europe.

Where most needed en masse in the US, they’re small-scale in too few places. More on this below. 

Never before in the course of human events has state-sponsored — media supported — Big Lies and mass deception done more harm to more people in short order than since flu was deceptively renamed covid last year with diabolical aims in mind.

Health-destroying flu/covid jabs are all about pursuing tyrannical social control and depopulation on an unparalleled scale.

In response to what’s going on, public rage in France, Britain, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere in Europe boiled over.

Tens of thousands took to the streets against health and freedom-destroying flu/covid mandates, including passports without which access to employment, education, and other public places is denied.

In London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday, “Freedom Rally” protesters denounced forced flu/covid tests, jabs and other draconian “crimes against humanity.”

Former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn joined them.

Activist nurse Kate Shemirani called on UK healthcare professionals “to get off (the draconian flu/covid mandates) bus and stand with…the people.”

In response to a petition that called for “outlaw(ing) discrimination against those who do not get a” flu/covid jab — with over 320,000 signatories — dozens of Labor, Lib Dem, Green and Tory MPs expressed opposition to Boris Johnson regime’s mandates.

Tens of thousands turned out across France on Saturday against Macron regime health passes, mandated flu/covid jabs for healthcare workers and others, as well as related draconian policies.

In Paris, police attacked crowds with tear gas and water cannons.

One activist tweeted: “Unreal numbers on the streets of Paris.”

Images showed large-scale numbers massed shoulder-to-shoulder, including on the Champs-Elysees, blocking traffic.

Days earlier in Greece, tens of thousands turned out in Athens and elsewhere nationwide against mandated proof of jabs for access to public places — along with plans to jab children without parental consent.

Thousands massed outside Greece’s parliament. Large banners said “no to (flu/covid jab) poison.”

Crowds chanted: “Hands off our kids.”

A draconian mandate said the following:

“Everyone must have (a) certificate to prove their status to gain access to venues.” 

“The plan also allows for ‘mixed’ venues which also grant access to the (unjabbed) — but only if they have a negative PCR test” — that when positive is nearly always false because of how administered. 

“The measures can apply to either indoor areas or open spaces that are likely to be crowded.”

According to the Greek Reporter, authorities are using the (invented) pandemic to ban public dissent by “crush(ing) peaceful demonstrations.”

In the US, scattered protests took place against jabbing healthcare workers, children and students for access to higher education campuses and classes.

In America, laws prohibit serving alcohol to and prescribing medications for children without parental consent.

Laws and guidelines in place to protect the health and well-being of children were virtually rescinded for all things flu/covid.

The same goes for foregoing proper clinical trials for flu/covid mRNA drugs and vaccines before allowing their use.

Information about them, and alternative protocols known to be safe and effective, was suppressed.

Last week, hundreds massed in front of the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital against mandated flu/covid jabs for staff, contractors and others.

Protesters held signs saying:

“No jab = no job”

“My body, my choice.” 

“Let me call my own shots”

“From heroes to zeros”

One protester said “(w)e were essential last year. Now we’re villains” if not jabbed.

Another said “(w)e are all out here because we do not believe (flu/covid jabs) should be mandated.”

Michigan’s Henry Ford Health System mandates toxic flu/covid jabs for its 33,000 staff, students, volunteers, contractors, and remote workers by September 10.

Similar policies are in place elsewhere in US cities.

If not challenged and stopped — by whatever it takes, by millions of Americans getting involved — they’re coming to neighborhoods near you and your own in the coming weeks and months.

What remains of mostly eroded freedoms are on the chopping block for elimination altogether.

Disruptive activism changed the course of things in the US before.

They’ve done it through strikes, boycotts and other mass public actions.

Historian Howard Zinn explained that in 17th and 18th century America, there were 18 uprisings against UK colonial rule, six rebellions by Black slaves and dozens of riots.

Power yields nothing without large-scale grassroots demands with teeth.

Never before in US history have they they needed more than more than now.

The alternative is mass extermination, draconian social control, and serfdom for survivors.

If that’s not worth putting our bodies on the line against, what is?

If not now, it may be too late to matter later on.

Russian Return to the Middle East

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21 Jul 21 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

Alexander Dugin

Today it is common wisdom to claim that Russia is returning to the Middle East. Some regard it with hate, the others with suspicion, the third with hope.

But before any evaluation according to interests and positions of different players and observers, we need first to clarify how Russia returns? What represents contemporary Russia on the new map of balance of world powers – especially regarding the Middle East?

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In the last 50 years, Russia has thrice changed radically its geopolitical and ideological status. During the Soviet period in the context of a bipolar world, Russia was undoubtfully a geopolitical superpower, the stronghold of Land Power, and the center of universal communist ideology, seeking to gain the mortal fight with the capitalist system, for the global control on the human societies on a planetary scale. The opposite camp – NATO States – represented geopolitically Sea Power and liberal ideology. Geopolitics and ideology, interests and values were densely intertwined forming two totalities – two blocks, two projects for humanity claiming to evict sooner or later the opponent. 

During this period the Soviet Union effectively was present in the Middle East – both as the power geopolitically opposing the capitalist West in most of regional conflicts, but at the same time supporting movements and parties that had in their programs and doctrines something that resonated roughly with the Left – secularism, progressivism, anti-capitalism, and anti-colonialism. The concrete politic of USSR in the region with a mostly religious population varied from the direct support of communist and socialists parties (not too influential and powerful) to pragmatic alliances with nationalist and anticolonial movement when they were not too religious.

So the function of the USSR in the Middle East was based on this two side scheme: geopolitical interests of USSR as great continental power (realist approach) combined with orientation to reach the goal of promoting communist World Revolution (idealist approach). We should consider this paradigm carefully because it shows two distinct cornerstones in the Soviet strategy. They were merged and intertwined in the whole complex but they were nevertheless different by nature and structure.

For example, this paradigm explains why USSR avoided dealing with anti-Western and anti-capitalist movements in the Middle East that were deeply affected by Islam and has religious values at their core. Salafism, Ikhwans, or Shiits were regarded by Soviets by mistrust. For the same reason, USSR itself provoked the disbelief inside these currents.

The Western pole had during the bipolar period a symmetric structure. The pure geopolitical interests (Sea Power) with its inherent scenarios repeating more or less literally force lines of old British imperialism were coupled with liberal ideology, always choosing in regional issues, the opposite side to socialist, leftists or anticolonial forces presumably naturally supported by Soviets.

The crucial moment comes with the collapse of the Soviet Union. That was the fall of the geopolitics of Land Power. The zone of influence of the core Heartland of Eurasia has shrunk radically on three circles. 

·       The large domain of influence including Latin America, Africa, and South Asia

·       The Warsaw Treaty Organization

·       The Soviet Union itself split into 15 parts.

In the realm of ideology, the change was yet more profound because Moscow has totally abandoned Marxism and embraced liberal capitalist ideology.

It was the end of bipolarism – in geopolitics and ideology. Russia has refused to continue to represent the second pole as an alternative, and accepted with Eltsine the role of periphery of the Same.

We need to remember that collapse of USSR as an ideological system was not accompanied by the symmetric abandoning by the USA and Europe of their liberal-capitalist ideology. The end of the cold war happened by the voluntary self-annihilation of only one of the players – the Soviet East has rejected its ideology but the capitalist West did not. That’s how liberal globalism has shaped its form. The globalization in the unipolar world was necessary to the expansion of liberal ideology, accepted by all as some universal norm – hence human rights, parliamentarian democracy, civil society, free market, and other purely ideological dogmas have become necessary global standards, ideological standards secured and promoted by the globalization itself.

There was a unipolar moment (as Ch. Krauthammer called it) that started in 1991. 

In this period Russia has completely withdrawn from the Middle East. It was entirely engaged in inner problems balancing in the 90th on the edge of further collapse of Russia itself. But by pure inertia, some connections established during bipolarity were somehow conserved, as well as the image of Russia as a geopolitical alternative to the West; this image was still living in the societies of the Middle East. The unipolarity left the Arabic population one to one with the Atlanticist liberal West, which was finally free to affirm itself as a unique global player and the highest instance of the decision making. That is unipolarity and it affected the Middle East during the last 30 years culminating in a chain of color revolutions sponsored by the West in order to drown democracy, human rights, and liberalism in “retarded societies”.

The final purge of secular nationalist and somehow socialist regimes (as Baath parties in all its versions – in Iraq, Libya and Syria) has become inevitable – in the unipolar paradigm, there was no global symmetric power that would be capable to contend such processes and support anti-Western political systems and leaders.  

Talking about the second pole – USSR from now on was the hole.

During the last 20 years of Putin’s rule in Russia, the country has restored partly its power. In the clear contrast to Eltsine’s contemporary first term in office, Russia didn’t follow unconditionally any order of the West and led its own sovereign politics. But this time, Russia restores its force only as great geopolitical power – as Land Power, hence the concept of Eurasia, the Eurasianism in general.

But in the field of ideology in Russia, there is a kind of vacuum. The gap left by rejected communism is filled with pragmatic and syncretic conservatism with no hard line. That makes Putin’s Russia much more flexible. Russia represents today’s only geopolitical entity – more and more clearly opposed to the West (Sea Power) but without any clearly defined ideology. 

At the same time, modern Russia cannot any more pretend to be the second pole in the bipolar structure. To play this role Russia is too weak compared with the aggregated potential of the USA and NATO countries. But there is new China whose economic growth has made it comparable with the American economy and threats to overcome it. 

Hence Russia reaffirms itself not as the second pole in the new bipolar system, but as one of the few poles (more than 2!) in the context of multipolarity. Today Russia (militarily and on the level of geography and natural resources) and China (economically) already are two poles of something like a tripolar system. But India, the Islamic world, Latin America, and Africa can one day form other self-sufficient poles. So, the Russian geopolitics of the Great State evolves now in the totally new context of multipolarity. As usual, Russia is still the Land Power opposing Sea Power, but China is also the Land Power having exactly the same global opponent – the liberal West.

So, Russia returns to the Middle East in totally new conditions and with different functions. It is not a second pole opposing the West, but one of the few poles struggling against unipolarity in favor of multipolarity.

By the way, I explained these changes in my book “The Theory of Multipolar World” which was recently published in the USA by Arktos Publishers. 

Final remark: The Western pole today, as before, is keeping its ideological content intact. More than that – during unipolar moment – when it yet looked like as something sustainable – liberal ideology seemed so powerful and indisputable, that globalists themselves – having no more formal ideological enemies – started to purge the liberal ideology itself, trying to make it yet more liberal. Hence, the disproportional volume of the gender problem raised in the last two decades. (I dedicated my book “Fourth Political Theory” to the discussion of this argument)

So now, I suggest the Middle East readers to compare the function of two global players in the contemporary regional balance of powers. The return of Russia in the Middle East is the coming of Land Power trying to resist the pressure of unipolar West, but this time without any ideological replacement of one secular materialist ideology by the other, of one form of capitalist totalitarianism with the other – communist. Modern Russia has nothing to impose on Middle East peoples on the ideological level. It is enough to regard Russia as an ally and to resist the pressure of the unipolar globalist West. No matter what is the reason for the rejection of the West by the Muslim population – religious, economic, national, or others. Russia is essentially in the Middle East to secure multipolarity not insisting on what should come in exchange for liberalism. This realism and this flexibility open totally new historical opportunities to Russian-Arab friendship.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

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Article by Vladimir Putin ”Being Open, Despite the Past“

June 22, 2021

Article by Vladimir Putin ”Being Open, Despite the Past“

An article by the President of Russia has been published in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit and is timed to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic war.June 22, 2021

Being Open, Despite the Past

On June 22, 1941, exactly 80 years ago, the Nazis, having conquered practically the whole of Europe, attacked the USSR. For the Soviet people the Great Patriotic War – the bloodiest one in the history of our country – began. Tens of millions of people lost their lives, the economic potential of the country and its cultural property were severely damaged.

We are proud of the courage and steadfastness of the heroes of the Red Army and home front workers who not only defended the independence and dignity of our homeland, but also saved Europe and the world from enslavement. Despite attempts to rewrite the pages of the past that are being made today, the truth is that Soviet soldiers came to Germany not to take revenge on the Germans, but with a noble and great mission of liberation. We hold sacred the memory of the heroes who fought against Nazism. We remember with gratitude our allies in the anti-Hitler coalition, participants in the Resistance movement, and German anti-fascists who brought our common victory closer.

Having lived through the horrors of the world war, the peoples of Europe were nevertheless able to overcome alienation and restore mutual trust and respect. They set a course for integration in order to draw a final line under the European tragedies of the first half of the last century. And I would like to emphasize that the historical reconciliation of our people with the Germans living both in the east and the west of modern united Germany played a huge role in the formation of such Europe.

I would also like to remind that it was German entrepreneurs who became ”pioneers“ of cooperation with our country in the post-war years. In 1970, the USSR and the Federal Republic of Germany concluded a ”deal of the century“ on long-term natural gas supplies to Europe that laid the foundation for constructive interdependence and initiated many future grand projects, including the construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline.

We hoped that the end of the Cold War would be a common victory for Europe. It seemed that just a little more effort was needed to make Charles de Gaulle’s dream of a single continent – not even geographically ”from the Atlantic to the Urals“, but culturally and civilizationally ”from Lisbon to Vladivostok“ – become a reality.

It is exactly with this logic in mind – the logic of building a Greater Europe united by common values and interests – that Russia has sought to develop its relations with the Europeans. Both Russia and the EU have done a lot on this path.

But a different approach has prevailed. It was based on the expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance which was itself a relic of the Cold War. After all, it was specifically created for the confrontation of that era.

It was the bloc’s movement eastwards – which, by the way, began when the Soviet leadership was actually persuaded to accept the united Germany’s accession to NATO – that turned into the main reason for the rapid increase in mutual mistrust in Europe. Verbal promises made in that time such as ”this is not directed against you“ or ”the bloc’s borders will not get closer to you“ were quickly forgotten. But a precedent was set.

And since 1999, five more “waves” of NATO expansion have followed. Fourteen new countries, including the former Soviet Union republics, joined the organization, effectively dashing hopes for a continent without dividing lines. Interestingly, this was warned about in the mid-1980s by Egon Bahr, one of the SPD leaders, who proposed a radical restructuring of the entire European security system after German unification, involving both the USSR and the United States. But no one in the USSR, the USA or Europe was willing to listen to him at the time.

Moreover, many countries were put before the artificial choice of being either with the collective West or with Russia. In fact, it was an ultimatum. The Ukrainian tragedy of 2014 is an example of the consequences that this aggressive policy has led to. Europe actively supported the unconstitutional armed coup in Ukraine. This was where it all started. Why was it necessary to do this? Then incumbent president Yanukovych had already accepted all the demands of the opposition. Why did the USA organize the coup and the European countries weak-heartedly support it, provoking a split within Ukraine and the withdrawal of Crimea?

The whole system of European security has now degraded significantly. Tensions are rising and the risks of a new arms race are becoming real. We are missing out on the tremendous opportunities that cooperation offers – all the more important now that we are all facing common challenges, such as the pandemic and its dire social and economic consequences.

Why does this happen? And most importantly, what conclusions should we draw together? What lessons of history should we recall? I think, first and foremost, that the entire post-war history of Greater Europe confirms that prosperity and security of our common continent is only possible through the joint efforts of all countries, including Russia. Because Russia is one of the largest countries in Europe. And we are aware of our inseparable cultural and historical connection to Europe.

We are open to honest and constructive interaction. This is confirmed by our idea of creating a common space of cooperation and security from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean which would comprise various integration formats, including the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union.

I reiterate that Russia is in favour of restoring a comprehensive partnership with Europe. We have many topics of mutual interest. These include security and strategic stability, healthcare and education, digitalization, energy, culture, science and technology, resolution of climate and environmental issues.

The world is a dynamic place, facing new challenges and threats. We simply cannot afford to carry the burden of past misunderstandings, hard feelings, conflicts, and mistakes. It is a burden that will prevent us from concentrating on the challenges at hand. We are convinced that we all should recognize these mistakes and correct them. Our common and indisputable goal is to ensure security on the continent without dividing lines, a common space for equitable cooperation and inclusive development for the prosperity of Europe and the world as a whole.

The Geneva Summit: Nothingburger or Watershed?

THE SAKER • JUNE 17, 2021 

The long awaited summit between Presidents Putin and Biden has finally taken place, but was it a success? Will it change anything? The answer to this question very much depends on one’s expectations. Let’s take a closer look beginning with the context.

Context of the summit

Just about the only thing which both US and Russian observers agree on is that the state of the Russian-US relations is about as bad as can be (in my personal opinion, it is even much worse than during the Cuban Missile Crisis or any other time in the Cold War). As I have mentioned many times, I believe that the AngloZionist Empire and Russia have been at war at least since 2013. Remember Obama with his “Russian economy in “in tatters”? That was the outcome Obama promised the people of the USA (Quick factcheck: the company Deloitte recently polled the CEOs of major Russian corporations and only 4% of them felt “pessimistic” about their financial perspectives as “negative”, 40% replied “same as before” and 56% replied “optimistic”). Of course, this was was not a conventional war, it was about 80% informational, 15% economic and only 5% kinetic. This, however, does not change the fact that this war was an existential war for both sides, one in which only one side could prevail while the other would, if not quite disappear, then at least totally lose its superpower status. This is a civilizational war, which pitted western and Russian civilizational (cultural, social and even religious) models against each other roughly along the following lines:

The US/Anglo-Zionist worldview: we are the “city upon a hill”, the beacon of light and hope for mankind. Our “manifest destiny” is to “expand the area of freedom” worldwide. We have the best armed forces in history, the strongest economy, the best everything. We are the “leaders of the free world” whose “responsibility” is to lead the world. This is not imperialism, this is the “duty” and “responsibility” placed upon us by history. Our values are universal values and must be universally accepted by all. Those refusing to join our model are authoritarian “rogue states”. Russia must accept that because she lost the Cold War and that western values have prevailed. Those who refuse to accept this are “revanchists” who want to overturn the outcome of the Cold War and rebuild the Soviet Union. The US had to expand NATO to the East to protect Europe from “Russian aggression”. Now “America” is back and, with our allies and friends, we will create a “rules based” international order which we will benevolently enforce to the immense gratitude of all of mankind.

Russian worldview:

Russia rejects any form of imperialism, for herself and for others. Russia wants a multilateral world order, based on international law and the full sovereignty of nations. Each nation should have the right to pursue its own cultural, economic, spiritual and civilizational model without being threatened, sanctioned, bombed, subverted or invaded. Russia rejects the so-called “western values” (turbocapitalism, imperialism, wokeness, multiculturalism, militant atheism, critical race theory, gender fluidity, etc.). The US is welcome to fly homo-flags on its embassies, but it has no business telling others how to live. In fact, the US has to accept two closely related realities: first, the US does not have the means to impose its ideology on the rest of the planet and, second, the rest of the planet sees the total hypocrisy of a country claiming to stand for values which itself gets to violate as much as it wants. Any comparisons are immediately dismissed with the words “but this is completely different!!!”.

Again, Russia agrees that the US is welcome to live in a post-truth, post-reality, delusion if it wants, but she also believes, and says so, that the West has no right to try to impose its pretend-values on others, especially when it constantly violates them all when convenient.

The core issue

The core belief underlying these very different worldview is extremely simple: the US sees itself as exceptional and, therefore, endowed with special rights and sees Russia as a much inferior interlocutor which needs to accept the US hegemony upon the world. In sharp contrast, Russia denies the USA any special status and demands that the US leaders accept Russia as an equal interlocutor before any meaningful dialog or cooperation could even be discussed.

I think that it would be fair to say that roughly between 2013 and 2020 both countries exerted immense efforts in a kind of a massive arms wrestling match to show that it, and not the other guy, would prevail.

For a very short while, Trump tried to get some kind of dialog going, but he was quickly and completely neutered by the Neocons and the messianic imperialists in his own camp (I think of Pompeo for example) and his efforts, however sincere, yielded absolutely nothing: Trump was not able to put an end to the war started by Obama.

Then came Biden and, at first, things looked hopeless. Seeing the massive failure of the first US-China meeting in Alaska, one could have been excused to expect a similar, or even worse, outcome from any meetings between Biden and Putin. Many (on both sides) believed that such a meeting was pointless at best since the US had painted itself into a zero-sum corner in which anything short of an exchange of insults would be seen by the US media (and the public opinion it shapes) as a “defeat”, “surrender” and possibly even “treason” by Biden. That is definitely the message conveyed by much of the US media, including Fox.

 


I want to express my total disgust with US Republicans who, for four years, were literally hounded by the US media for Trump’s alleged “caving in” to Putin or even for being a “Manchurian candidate” put in power by “Putin”. Now the Republicans are using the exact same language accusing Biden of “weakness” and for “caving in” to Putin. Truly, the Dems and the GOP are like Coke and Pepsi: different labels, same product. Worse, both the Dems and the GOP place their petty interests above the well-being of the United States and its people. I consider both parties traitors to the US and its people.


What actually happened

In spite of all the nay-sayers (on both sides!), Putin and Biden did meet. True, the meeting did not yield any spectacular results, but it would be wrong to conclude that nothing of importance happened.

First, the tone of the Biden administration towards Russia and Putin did change, remarkably so, especially after Biden’s infamous “uhu, he is a killer”. Some sanctions were lifted, the US basically gave up on trying to prevent North Stream 2 (NS2) from being completed, and a number of small steps were achieved, including:

  • An agreement to discuss cybersecurity on an expert level (something the Russians had been demanding for years, but which the USA rejected out of hand).
  • joint declaration strategic stability (more about that below)
  • An agreement to discuss outstanding issues on an expert level
  • A return of both US and Russian ambassadors to their former positions
  • A discussion on a possible prisoner swap
  • A discussion on possible future arms control agreements

Also of interest are the points which were mentioned in passing, mostly by the US side, but which were clearly not focused on. These include:

  • The Ukraine and Belarus
  • Human Rights (aka “Navalyi” & Co.)
  • Russian alleged interference in western elections
  • Russian alleged covert operations against the US
  • The alleged Russian threat to the EU or in the Arctic
  • Russian ties to China and Iran

That is the official picture. But let’s be a little more wise about this: the US and Russian delegations (about 400 people each) included some very high ranking officials, including the Russian Chief of General Staff. Neither side would have bothered with such a massive undertaking only for the purpose of exchanging threats, ultimatums or insults. And such summits are never organized unless the parties have at least a reasonable prospect of some kind of understanding (this is why the return of the ambassadors was announced before the summit!).

So what really happened here?

To answer that question, we first need to look at what did not happen.

First, it is quite clear that the language/tone of the Biden administration has dramatically changed. This was immediately noticed by the (mentally infantile) US media which attacked Biden in his press conference for not putting enough pressure on Putin. Oh sure, Biden did pay lip service to the usual russophobic nonsense the US media seems to be forever stuck on, but it is quite clear what the US legacy ziomedia did not get what it wanted: they wanted Biden to “unite the West behind the USA” and then “tell” Putin to “behave” and admit something – anything – about the Russian “wrongdoings”. Putin gave them absolutely and exactly nothing. If anything, we could say that he held up a mirror to Uncle Shmuel and that Uncle Shmuel had nothing to say to that.

Second, and for the first time in a very long while, the US did not engage in any threats or ultimatums. If anything, it was quite amazing to see Biden getting angry at an imbecile journo from CNN (I think) who asked Biden why he expected Putin to “change his behavior” when the latter admitted no wrongs. Later Biden apologized, but he was clearly frustrated with the level of imbecility of the US press media.

 


The US media truly showed its true face during both press conferences. With Putin, they asked stupid, leading questions, based on their own delusional assumptions, and Putin easily swatted down these questions by pointing out at undeniable and well-known facts. The Biden press conference was, as usual, completely sanitized with a prepared list of reporters and questions, and with no Russian journalists allowed (pluralism, free media or free speech anybody?!). The infantilized US public did not think much about this, but in the rest of the world – in Zone B if you wish – people immediately noticed the startling difference between the two leaders and between the two press conferences. It will be awfully hard for the US to speak of “freedom of speech” when its President cannot be trusted to talk to his counterpart alone (Bliken never left his side, just like Dick Cheney did for Bush Jr. or Don Regan did for Reagan in his latter years) and cannot take unscripted questions from the (supposedly) “free” media. The US media clearly wanted Biden to go to Geneva, and tell Putin “now you submit or else…” and only the completely ignorant and infantilized US public could actually take that nonsense seriously. When that did not happen, they turned on Biden and accused him of weakness for “making no threats”!


Third, and crucially, by NOT discussing silly issues but by focusing on the real, important, topics underlying the US-Russian relations, Biden de-facto admitted two things:

  1. The US policy towards Russia since 2013 has failed and
  2. Russia is an equal partner to the USA who cannot be bullied, threatened or attacked

So much for “talking to the Russians from a position of force” which ALL the western leaders mantrically promised us. In sharp contrast, the Kremlin did not have to make any threats: the recent military exercises, which truly freaked out NATO and the EU, made any posturing by Russia quite unnecessary.

I am not so naive as to believe that any of this is set in stone.

First, we know that US politicians typically meet with their Russian counterparts and say “A” only to later come back home, cave in to the war lobby, and then declare “non-A”. Trump did that, as did Kerry and many others. US diplomats are mostly ignorant political appointees and/or warmongering Neocons who simply are not intellectually equipped to deal with their Russian counterparts (James Baker was probably the last truly sophisticated US Secretary of State). Second, we all understand that Biden is really “Biden” (the man himself is just a front, real decisions are taken by the collective “Biden”), which means that while he and even Bliken can agree on something, but that by no means implies that they will stand by what they agreed on. Finally, is is objectively really hard to undo that which was done: eight years of self-defeating delusions about itself and the rest of the world have done immense damage to the United States and it would take something pretty close to a miracle to now reverse a course which at least two US administrations have so foolishly insisted on pursuing.

Yet, what Biden did and said was quite clearly very deliberate and prepared. This is not the case of a senile President losing his focus and just spewing (defeatist) nonsense. Therefore, we must conclude that there are also those in the current US (real) power configuration who decided that Biden must follow a new, different, course or, at the very least, change rhetoric. I don’t know who/what this segment of the US power configuration is, but I submit that something has happened which forced at least a part of the US ruling class to decide that Obama’s war on Russia had failed and that a different approach was needed. At least that is the optimistic view.

The pessimistic view would suggest that, just like a boxer who has thrown so many punches that he now needs to catch his breath, the leaders of the Empire just needed a short time break, to “catch their breath”, before resuming the endless cycle of petty attacks, threats and accusations against Russia.

Time will show which group is right. My money is on the pessimists (as usual).

What we can say now is this: the period 2013-2021 saw a huge decline in US power abroad and the explosion of an equally huge internal political and social crises which are still catastrophically hurting the United States (Obama and Trump were truly the weakest and worst Presidents in US history). In sharp contrast, the same 2013-2021 years saw a huge rise in Russian military, political, economic and social power. Denying this reality forever is simply not an option for the USA (even if the US media never reports about this). It appears that the Biden Administration decided to keep up the same infantile language as its predecessors for internal consumption, but decided that a change of attitude on the international front was urgently needed, if only in order to avoid taking on both Russia and China (and, possibly, Iran) at the same time. History also shows that even just talking to Russia from a presumed “position of strength” was useless at best and suicidal at worst. The history of western imperialism in China offers a more ambiguous image, but the current revival of Chinese power under Xi also suggests that the Chinese won’t cave in to their former colonial masters.

What about China?

If China was mentioned at all, it is not official. The Kremlin had already indicated in numerous statements that trying to turn China and Russia against each other was not a realistic option, so on the Russian side there were no expectations of anything changing on that issue. Besides, while China has a lot to offer Russia, the USA has literally absolutely nothing Russia would want or need. The same goes for Iran, albeit at a lesser degree. There are those in the US ruling class who believe that China is a much more dangerous enemy for the AngloZionist Empire than Russia and it is possible that these are the interests which pushed Biden into a more realistic stance. The truth is that anybody who knows anything about the Sino-Russian relationship (which the Chinese now officially call the “strategic comprehensive partnership of coordination for the new era”) understands that these two countries vitally need each other. Did the US diplomats really hope that they could sway Russia to the US side? Probably not. So, at most, what they needed was a short time break or, at least, some kind of temporary stabilization of the “Russian front”.

What about the Europeans?

The Europeans are stuck in some kind of political no man’s land: some want a confrontation at all cost (3B+PU), especially since the EU stopped funding them, while others are clearly fed-up (Germany, France, Italy, etc.) with the current situation. They all realize that something has just changed, but they appear unsure as to what, why and how. And how shall the EU now treat Biden? First, while hating Trump was seen as “politically correct” by the EU ruling classes, hating Biden is quite unthinkable. Second, while Biden did “consult” with the G7 and NATO, these “consultations” yielded no meaningful result. Unlike the summit with Putin, these “preparatory summits” were just nice PR, a feel-good, “rah-rah, we are all united” kind of symbolic event. Think of it as an imperial king visiting his colonies: fun but not very important. But meeting the leader of a “gas station masquerading as a country” required the presence of 400 or so top US officials and months of preparations. Finally, the fact that “Biden” had to yield to Germany on NS2 shows that the grip of Uncle Shmuel on Germany is weakening, “another writing on the wall” which “Biden” apparently read.

So who won?

At this point I don’t think that we can say that anybody won. In fact, the existential war opposing the AngloZionist Empire to Russia is not over. At most, this will be a temporary ceasefire allowing Uncle Shmuel to catch his breath. But I think that we can also fairly conclude that Obama’s war on Russia has failed and that the Biden Administration is more in touch with reality than Obama ever was. How long this new realism will last is anybody’s guess. I don’t think we should put much stock in the idea that now a new era of peace or collaboration has begun. But maybe, just maybe, the USA will stop playing what I call a “game of nuclear chicken” with a superpower which is at least a full decade ahead in military (and civilian!) nuclear technology and delivery vehicles and a superpower which is now working as a binomial with another nuclear superpower, China.

Conclusion: the US-Russian Joint Statement on Strategic Stability

This is the full text of the US-Russian Joint Statement on Strategic Stability I mentioned above: (emphasis added)

We, President of the United States of America Joseph R. Biden and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, note the United States and Russia have demonstrated that, even in periods of tension, they are able to make progress on our shared goals of ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war. The recent extension of the New START Treaty exemplifies our commitment to nuclear arms control. Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Consistent with these goals, the United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.

The language here is very important: it is the repudiation of a major US delusion which began with Ronald Regan’s “Star Wars” and which was shared by each following President: the notion that the US can win a nuclear war against Russia by technologically or economically defeating Russia. The website “Defense One” (which is hardly a “Russian disinformation outlet”) had this to say about this decades long illusion:

Biden can correct the mistakes of the past. The future of missile defense will be thoroughly studied as part of a broader nuclear posture/deterrence review that will be started in the few weeks. Mindful that less expensive offensive weapons can always be developed to overwhelm, sabotage, or destroy any conceivable defensive system, his administration can return to diplomacy, seek verifiable mutual reductions, prevent the development of new threats, and address rising concerns such as the weaponization of space and cyber threats. That would allow the transfer of funds from the weapons that don’t work to programs that will rebuild and add to America’s security.

If this is really what is happening (and we need to wait before coming to any hasty conclusions!) then this is good news. Good news for Russia which has nothing to gain from any “reloaded Cold War” with the West, good news for the Europeans which need to recover at least a modicum of agency, good news for the USA, which is bled dry and is quickly becoming a underdeveloped third world country, and good news for the entire planet which would be devastated by any nuclear war between any combination of superpowers. If this is really what happened.

For the time being, the “crazies in the basement” are still every bit as crazy as before (see here and here for a few good examples). So are the woke-freaks (see here and here). So is the homo-lobby (see here and here). They all hate Russia and Putin with a passion, and they ain’t going away anytime soon. Besides, it is not like “Biden” will do anything other than give them all a standing ovation, full support and millions of dollars to their cause: these “minorities” (more accurately: this coalition of minorities) are the ideological foundation for Biden’s entire presidency, they brought him to power and he cannot renounce them.

How long brainwashed doubleplusgoodthinking sheep will continue to “take a knee” against “systemic racism” is anybody’s guess, however.

On the external front, the US cannot give up its messianic ideology and claims of exceptionalism. This would be truly unthinkable for the vast majority of US Americans. This does not change the fact that, as I have written many times, the AngloZionist Empire and the current US political system are neither sustainable, nor reformable. Besides, empires are almost impossible to reform. That is why they usually end up collapsing. And when they do, they often try to lash out at those they blame for their own failures. This is exactly what has been going on since 2013 and this will not and, in fact, cannot change until the final – and inevitable – collapse.

There will be no friendship or even partnership between the USA and Russia for as long as the USA will continue to serve as the latest host for the parasitic AngloZionist Empire. Аs the spokesman for Putin, Peskov, just declared “So far, there are no reasons to exclude the United States from the list of unfriendly countries“.

Finally, did Putin “win”?

I would answer both yes and no. Yes, he did win in the sense that his strategy of dealing with an Empire on the warpath against Russia has been proven extremely effective. All the nay-sayers (liberal or neo-Marxists) have been accusing Putin of caving in to pretty much everything everywhere, yet it is the USA which had to eat crow, drop all its preconditions and ask for a summit. None of the many propaganda attacks against Russia (MH17, Skipal, chem weapons, Belarus, the Karabakh war, Navalnyi, doping, sports and flags, the seizure of Russian diplomatic offices, the kidnapping of Russian citizens, economic and political sanctions, threats, sabre-rattling at the borders, etc. etc. etc.) have worked or even yielded any meaningful results. In that sense, yes, Putin did win. But that existential war is not over, not for the US, not for Russia and neither it is over for China, Iran and any other country wanting true sovereignty.

In that sense, what happened in Geneva is not the beginning of the end (primarily because that beginning of the end has already long taken place, even if it was never reported in Zone A), but it is definitely a chance to change some dynamics on the international scene. The infinite arrogance of the likes of Trump and Pompeo has been replaced by a much more cautious and realistic approach, at least in superpower relations. But Putin/Russia will only have truly won once the US accepts the reality that the Empire is dead and that the USA, like all ex-empires, must now become a “normal” country (like all former empires had to). Sounds easy, but this is almost infinitely hard when imperialism is what you were born, raised, educated and conditioned to live with and when you sincerely believe that your brand of imperialism is somehow benevolent, even altruistic. Russia/Putin will only have truly won once the last empire in history finally gives way to a civilized international world order. Until then, the struggle of Russia – and all the other members of the resistance against the Empire – will continue.

Saudi-Iranian talks are an attempt to pre-empt the American return to nuclear deal, says sociologist

June 16, 2021 – 17:12

By M. A. Saki

TEHRAN – Head of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Lebanon says that the Saudi desire to negotiate with Iran is an attempt to pre-empt the American return to the nuclear deal.

“The Saudi-Syrian normalization is a positive step and the Saudi-Iranian dialogue is an attempt to pre-empt the American return to the nuclear deal,” Dr. Talal Atrissi tells the Tehran Times.

 “Saudi Arabia sees tangibly that all of its previous bets failed, and I assure that this step was by American encouragement and support, especially since Saudi Arabia failed in the war on Yemen and today it is trying to get out of the Yemeni quagmire at any cost,” Atrissi notes.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you evaluate the ongoing talks over revitalizing the Iran nuclear deal?

A: Most of the statements, whether from the Iranian side or the American side, confirm that the negotiations are heading to yield results. The statements are optimistic, and the announcement of the formation of committees to study how to lift the sanctions implies that all sides are nearing an agreement. 

The statements of the Russian, Chinese and even European delegates indicate progress and seriousness in the negotiations. But this does not mean that things will go quickly. The United States, for its part, will not lift the sanctions so easily, and even not all sanctions will be lifted. It will try to negotiate to lift only parts of the sanctions in exchange for Iran’s return to full commitment to the terms of the nuclear deal.

As for Iran, it has an interest in negotiating and has a direct interest in lifting the sanctions, which have caused great damage to the Iranian economy, and for this reason, Iran has returned to the negotiating table. But Iran has no interest in prolongation of the talks. I mean, you go back to the negotiation table again, as if we need a new agreement. With regard to Iran, this is unacceptable, as the Leader of the Islamic Revolution warned about prolonging the negotiations, while America wants to extract the largest number of concessions from Iran before lifting the sanctions.

This is what is happening today in the successive rounds of the Vienna talks. 

Q: How would the revival of the Iran nuclear pact affect the region?

A: If this agreement occurs, of course, it will reflect positively on the relations among the countries of the region. I believe that Saudi Arabia’s desire for dialogue with Iran began with America’s encouragement, not on a self-initiative, meaning that the new American administration wants some kind of stability in the Middle East (West Asia) and mitigating Persian Gulf-Iranian tension. 

The main tensions have been from the Israeli side while the Biden administration looks forward to a kind of stability and dialogue, and this is one of the reasons for thinking about reviving the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The biggest strategic challenge for the Biden administration is China, and this means that the United States is reluctant to get involved in the Middle East (West Asia) again. It is also withdrawing from Afghanistan. Afghanistan was a major failure for America and its policies in the world and the region.

So, if the negotiations for an agreement succeeds, the allies of the United States, including Saudi Arabia in the first place, will return to stable relations and understanding with Iran, and this could contribute to solving problems in Lebanon, Yemen and other countries of the region.

Q: What are Israel’s options to undermine the nuclear talks in Vienna? Do you think Israel will start a war to block the path for reviving the nuclear pact?

A: From the beginning, Israel and the U.S. administration have been at odds over the 2015 nuclear deal, and Netanyahu considered the agreement signed by Obama a “historical mistake” rather than a “historic achievement,” as Obama called it. Israel tried to obstruct the path of the agreement and worked with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to prevent the conclusion of the pact, but the agreement was achieved in 2015.

 When Trump came to power in 2016, Israel considered it a great opportunity to push America to pull out of the nuclear deal.

As for the possibility of Israel carrying out some kind of operation or sabotaging Iran’s nuclear facilities to change the balance and impede a possible revival of the nuclear agreement between Iran and America, I rule out that this would happen.

First, Israel faces a domestic crisis, and Netanyahu is accused of having failed in the battle of “the sword of Jerusalem,” and therefore the victory that has been achieved by the Palestinian resistance is a victory for Iran. The resistance in Palestine expressed its thanks to Iran for its role in supporting Palestine.

For Israel, it is very difficult to contemplate such an option, especially since Netanyahu has moved to the ranks of the opposition and is no longer prime minister.

Q: How do you read Saudi-Syrian normalization, especially when we put this alongside the Iranian-Saudi talks? What caused the Saudi policy change in the region?

A: The Saudi-Syrian normalization is a positive step and the Saudi-Iranian dialogue is an attempt to pre-empt the American return to the nuclear deal.
Saudi Arabia sees tangibly that all of its previous bets failed, and I am sure that this step was by American encouragement and support, especially since Saudi Arabia failed in the war on Yemen and today it is trying to get out of the Yemeni quagmire at any cost.

She believes that dialogue with Iran can help it get out of this war, and thus Saudi Arabia’s return to the negotiation table with Iran and Syria is an indirect acknowledgment of the failure of its previous policies.

I mean, the policy of toppling the government in Syria has failed, and the policy of forming an Arab-(Persian) Gulf-Israeli axis against Iran has failed, as well as normalization with Israel and the deal of the century, after what happened recently in occupied Palestine.

So, this step on the part of Saudi Arabia is an affirmation that Iran and the axis of resistance are in a better position than before and that the past decade was a period of steadfastness and resistance in the face of all attempts to ruin the region, Syria, and Yemen in particular.

 Today, after the battle of Palestine, the axis of resistance is in a position of strength, and this is what prompts the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to engage in dialogue with the parties to this axis.

Q: What is the significance of the Iran-China partnership for the region and the larger world?

A: The importance of the Iran-China partnership is that it opens up broad prospects for Iran at various levels of development in the areas of investment, oil and communications. On the other hand, this may be an alternative even to the nuclear agreement with the West. Even if the nuclear deal is not revived, Iran can be satisfied with the partnership with China.

 Even if Iran complies fully to the nuclear agreement and agrees with the United States, it will have balanced relations with East and West, with the preference of China, especially since China is not a colonial country and did not create problems in the region.

 So, the Chinese-Iranian partnership is an important strategic agreement that may block the way for the U.S. to put pressure on Iran.

In addition, the Iranian-Chinese partnership as an economic agreement is inseparable from China’s vision and its historical and strategic project to restore the Silk Road (One Road, One Belt). 

Iran will be a major station in this project. For this reason, China is counting on partnership with Iran and wants Iran to remain a strong and pivotal country in the face of the American hegemony, and this is not in the interest of the West and the United States in particular.

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The “Three Seas Initiative”: The West’s “Answer” to China’s Belt and Road?

By Brian Berletic

Global Research, June 09, 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version). 

Visit and follow us on Instagram at @crg_globalresearch.

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To counter not only China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) but also Russia’s growing ties with Western Europe, an “alternative” infrastructure drive is being proposed that if and when completed, Washington, London, and Brussels hopes will further contain Russia and cut China off from European markets.

Called the “Three Seas Initiative,” it is described in a Bloomberg op-ed titled, “This Is How Europe Can Push Back Against China and Russia,” as:

…a joint endeavor by 12 eastern members of the European Union to update the physical and digital links between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas.

The op-ed argues that the initiative is the only way to fight off “Russian bullying and Chinese meddling.”

But upon closer scrutiny – even the selling points made by the author – Andreas Kluth – reads instead like a thinly veiled attempt to bully and meddle in Europe – and at the expense of the obvious opportunities trade and ties with Russia and China will bring.

Kluth’s argument includes blaming the Soviet Union’s neglect of Eastern European nations as the reason they lack modern infrastructure today, claiming:

Though economically vibrant, most of this region still lags the rest of the bloc in infrastructure. Travel by road and rail takes two to four times longer on average than in the rest of the EU. 

What’s missing in particular is good highways, railway tracks and gas pipes running north and south. This is a legacy of the Cold War. The Soviet hegemons made sure that Russian gas, tanks and troops could easily move east-west, but cared not a hoot about other connections among the countries they occupied.

Yet the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 – 30 years ago. If Eastern Europe currently still lacks modern infrastructure – it would be more appropriate to state that it is Brussels who “cares not” about making improvements.

The infrastructure proposed is also curious. The op-ed claims:

Projects include, for example, a port in Croatia that could welcome ships carrying liquefied natural gas — from the US, for example — and the pipelines that would bring this gas north to partner countries. Poland already has an LNG terminal.

This is not necessary infrastructure though. Europe already has access to hydrocarbons in the form of Russian energy moved into the region through existing pipelines and at costs much cheaper than LNG shipped across the Atlantic from the United States will ever be.

The inclusion of this “example” reveals Kluth’s hand and the true nature of this argument – this isn’t about stopping imagined “Russian bullying,” this is about imposing very real American bullying.

In other words, expensive infrastructure would be built specifically to put in place energy imports that would cost more and come with far more strings attached politically than Russian energy. These strings would include – and the op-ed itself mentions this specifically – cutting off relations with both Moscow and Beijing.

And regarding Beijing – Kluth accuses China of seeking political favor in return for infrastructure investments and construction projects – citing Hungary as an example of a partner nation “compromised” by its relationship with Beijing. Kluth claims that Hungary has blocked EU condemnation of alleged “human rights abuses” by China – never considering that the accusations themselves may have been politically motivated in the first place by opponents of Beijing.

Kluth – after describing the Three Seas Initiative as a means of escaping “bullying and meddling” – makes clear that US and EU investment in the projects should themselves come with political strings attached – noting:

…the EU should also be clear about its expectations. First, all involved, including Hungary, must acknowledge the geopolitical subtext and unambiguously declare their allegiance to Brussels, foregoing dalliances with Beijing. Second, the initiative mustn’t become the germ of an eastern bloc that defines itself in opposition to the rest of the EU.

While Russian “bullying” and Chinese “meddling” remain squarely in the realm of politically-motivated accusations – Kluth is openly declaring Washington’s and Brussels’ intentions to invest in a neglected Eastern Europe are predicated on acquiring unflinching obedience and the full surrender of national sovereignty – a proposition made without any hint of intentional irony.

Three Seas Initiative: About Primacy, Not Progress 

US foreign policy has been and continues to be predicated on maintaining global primacy. Any nation, anywhere on Earth that challenges Washington’s ability to act upon the global stage with absolute impunity is designated an enemy and thus targeted through a combination of political, economic, and even military coercion.

Two nations that have found themselves on this list for decades are Russia and China.

Both Russia’s re-emergence after the collapse of the Soviet Union as a major global power and China’s rise both regionally in Asia and globally – have demonstrably inhibited Washington’s worst impulses.

While Washington describes both Russia and China as threats to global peace and stability – it was Russia’s intervention in Syria that prevented the nation from suffering a similar fate as Libya or Iraq at America’s hands.

It has been China’s incremental rise that has created viable alternatives for nations across Asia just now working their way out from under the shadow of America’s Indo-Pacific “primacy” – a notion still included openly as part of US foreign policy – demonstrated in a “framework” paper published as recently as the Trump administration.

Notions of “Russian bullying” and “Chinese meddling” are geopolitical projections made by Western policymakers in a bid to justify a continued campaign of coercion – and not just against Russia, China, and nations along their peripheries – but also against allied nations like Germany who seek to diversify their ties between East and West – US sanctions targeting German companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Russia being only the latest example.

Perhaps the ultimate irony of all is that as Washington and Brussels attempt to dangle the promise of modern infrastructure over the heads of Eastern Europe – Kluth of Bloomberg himself admits that China has already come through in the case of Hungary – and Russia has been reliably pumping cheap energy into Eastern and Western Europe since before the collapse of the Soviet Union – and of course – ever since.

Once again – while pointing the accusing finger elsewhere – the US and its EU partners reveal themselves as the central threat to peace and prosperity. In reality, Chinese infrastructure projects coupled with US-EU investments, and cheap energy from Russia would be most beneficial to the nations of both Eastern and Western Europe – but clearly what is in the continent’s best interests run at cross-purposes to Washington’s and thus while Russia and China have never demanded exclusive economic ties with Europe – Washington is.

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Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. 

Featured image is from New Eastern Outlook

نصرالله عصر التنوير وماكرون محاكم التفتيش Nasrallah – the Age of Enlightenment, Macron – the Inquisition

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”؟

Nasrallah – the Age of Enlightenment, Macron – the Inquisition

2/11/2020

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Secularism is a political regime and a social aspect of the contemporary European state, it is a political and legal outcome of a deeper culture that emerged as a result of the Industrial Revolution and was embodied in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the revolution of reason and logic or as was called the Age of Enlightenment led by the giants as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu. Its political slogans called for freedom, brotherhood, and equality during the French Revolution. But this movement was faced with counter thinking represented by the Catholic Inquisition which a great philosopher as Bruno and great scholars as Copernicus and Galileo had paid a high cost in charge of heresy based on the prohibition of resorting to reason and science. Politically and socially, many reformists were chased under the name of the disavowal of heresies, as happened with the philosopher Michael Servetus who was burnt alive in Geneva on the accusation of rejecting the doctrine of Trinity. Its history was known for its crimes against Muslims in Andalusia under the name of loyalty to God, so intellectually and culturally it formed an aspect of the continuation of the Crusades.

As in the Crusades, the French and the Turkish Presidents exchanged in vain beliefs, emotions, and the outcome feelings. Each one of them has tried to evoke a futile war. The French President Emmanuel Macron did not hesitate to talk about a crisis in Islam, Islamic terrorism, and Islamic Fascism, hoping to lead a front that includes the secularists in order to defend the liberty of expression about Islamic sanctities, the Christian extremists, who are fed up with the growing number of Muslims in Europe in general and in France in particular, and the National right which rejects the growing number of immigrants from Islamic countries, hoping that this front can be a source of leadership as the leaderships of the Crusades. While the Turkish President Recep Erdogan was seeking to lead a front that includes the oppressed Muslim communities due to the tyranny of the racist policies in Europe, the takfiri terrorist organizations backed by Turkey, and the Arab Muslim nations who are suffering from their governments that are subordinated to the governments of the West, and do not dare to address them bravely, criticize or oppose. These governments are partners of the governments of France and Europe in sponsoring the terrorist groups and supporting the takfiri belief in order to be operated in Libya and Syria not in Europe.

In this intellectual aridity and fatal chaos of fanaticism, a religious man from the followers and lovers of the Prophet emerged to lead the call to be rational, to bear the responsibility, and to be clear, recalling the deeper meanings of the slogans of the French Revolution and the calls of Rousseau and Voltaire where freedom means the respect of the freedom of belief which is the belief of the minority, the weak, and the oppressed, and where brotherhood means to be away from the logic of the racial discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, and gender, and where equality is the fairness of applying the mental judgment of concepts before it is governed by law, and where the texts of prohibiting freedom and reason cannot be dealt with under the slogan of anti-Semitism even if scientific reservation and moral controls were taken into consideration, and the freedom of  feeling hostile cannot be spread irrationally underestimating all moral controls of the human brotherhood under the slogan of the liberty of expression. Therefore, this religious leader has argued in the language of the Age of Enlightenment “as a heritage of the achievements of the human civilization” the man who is supposed to be the trustee constitutionally and politically not an army commander in the Crusades or a head of one of the inquisitions.

The words of Al Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah regarding the relationship of Muslims and the Islamic communities with the issues rose in Europe after the offensive drawings against the Prophet and the terrorist crimes relating are a philosophical and rational argument that recalls the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment and the resorting to reason. He adopted the suggestion of Al Azhar of an international legislation to prohibit the underestimation of sanctities as a base in the Day of the Islamic unity. While some jurists in France are wondering why the owners of the offensive drawings are not prosecuted under the name of anti-Semitism, Is not the Messenger one of the grandsons of Sam Bin Noah?! Al Tirmidhi narrated that the Prophet “peace be upon him” said: “Sam was the father of Arabs, Ham the father of the Ethiopians, and Yafith the father of the Romans”.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

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.

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