تسارع التاريخ والانحدار الأميركيّ


الثلاثاء 24 آب 2021

المركز الاستشاري للدراسات والتوثيق

وليد شرارة

ما يغيظ أيتام الهيمنة «الحميدة» الأميركية، هذه الأيام، هو أنّ الإعلان عن «تمريغ رأسها في وحل أفغانستان»، لم يعد يصدر عمّن يسمّونهم «أبواق الممانعة»، بل عن أبرز المنظّرين، في ما مضى، للنموذج الأميركي على أنّه أفق التطوّر المستقبلي الوحيد والأبدي للإنسانية جمعاء. فرنسيس فوكوياما، المرجع الفكري، حتى لا نقول الروحي، لغالبية بينهم آمنت بنبوءاته، التي سطّرها في كتابه «نهاية التاريخ والإنسان الأخير»، انضمّ إلى الإجماع الواسع وسط النخب الفكرية والسياسية الأميركية والغربية، حول اعتبار دخول «الطالبان» إلى كابول هزيمة منكرة لواشنطن. غير أنّ الأنكى بالنسبة إلى هؤلاء المكلومين، هو أنّ الإجماع المذكور ينطلق من الإقرار بهزيمة الولايات المتحدة ليصل إلى استنتاج آخر، مزلزل، وهو أنّ هيمنتها دخلت في طور متقدّم من الانحسار. أمام مثل هذا الاستنتاج، لم يجد الخائبون، من العرب أساساً، سوى اللجوء إلى مناورة فكرية مكشوفة ومكرورة، وهي التساؤل عن هوية المنتصر وطبيعة مشروعه السياسي والاجتماعي. سبق لأنصار الاستعمار القديم طرح النوع نفسه من الأسئلة، بعد نجاح حركات التحرّر الوطني في انتزاع استقلال بلادها والمصاعب الكبرى التي واجهتها خلال سنوات إعادة البناء الوطني التي تلت. قال هؤلاء: «هل هذا ما قاتلت الشعوب لأجله وضحّت؟ هل فعلت ذلك لكي تنشأ أنظمة حكم سلطوية أو من أجل الحفاظ على نظام الملل المكرّس لتمييز اجتماعي قاسٍ بين فئات الشعب كما حصل في الهند مثلاً؟». طبعاً، الفرضية المضمرة التي يستند إليها مثل هذا الهراء، هي أنّ أوضاع الشعوب المستعمرة كانت أفضل أيام سيطرة الأسياد البيض! الشعور بسعادة غامرة لهزيمة الإمبراطورية العاتية الأميركية في أفغانستان، لا يتأسّس على قاعدة التماهي مع البرنامج السياسي لـ«طالبان». مستقبل هذه البلاد، هو شأن شعبها الذي سيقرّر وحده مصيره وما يراه مناسباً لمصالحه وتطلّعاته من نظام سياسي واجتماعي، وهو قطعاً ليس شأن الغربيين، الذين نشروا الموت والدمار في ربوعها. كم عدد الأفغان الذين قتلتهم الولايات المتحدة وحلفاؤها المتحضّرون: عشرات الآلاف؟ مئات الآلاف؟ المتباكون الحاليون على مصير النساء الأفغانيات والأقلّيات الإثنية، لم يكلّفوا أنفسهم عناء إحصاء عدد الجثث. هذا النوع من التساؤلات التافهة هو إهانة لعقولنا. ينقسم العالم اليوم بين من يشعرون بالسعادة الغامرة لهزيمة واشنطن، ومن يرتعدون ذعراً بسببها. هم محقّون بذلك، لأنّ التحليلات الصادرة في الولايات المتحدة، قبل روسيا أو الصين أو إيران، تؤكّد أننا نشهد تسارعاً للتاريخ، ولكن ليس في الاتجاه الذي استشرفه فوكوياما قبل 30 عاماً.

نهاية حقبة تاريخية


لفرنسيس فوكوياما فضيلة، نادرة بين أترابه من المثقّفين الذين جرى تكريسهم ناطقين رسميين باسم الإيديولوجية السائدة، وهي الاعتراف العلني أكثر من مرّة بخطأ أطروحاته وتحليلاته. هو لم يتردّد، مثلاً، في القطيعة مع تيار «المحافظين الجدد» الذي انتمى إليه لفترة طويلة، وإصدار كتاب نقدي صارم لهم في عام 2006، بعنوان «ما بعد المحافظين الجدد: أميركا على مفترق طرق». يعيد فوكوياما الكرّة، لكنّه هذه المرّة يتراجع عن نظريته التي أكسبته شهرة عالمية حول نهاية التاريخ. ففي مقال على موقع «ذي إيكونوميست”»، بعنوان «نهاية الهيمنة الأميركية»، نُشر منذ أيام، هو يرى أنّ الاستقطاب الاجتماعي – السياسي داخل الولايات المتحدة، الذي تعاظم بفعل حروب التوسّع والسيطرة التي خاضتها، في العقود الثلاثة الأخيرة، والعولمة التي قادتها والأزمة المالية والاقتصادية في عام 2008 – 2009، بات عاملاً رئيسياً في إضعاف موقعها الدولي. ووفقاً له، فإنّ «المجتمع الأميركي منقسم بعمق، وأصبح يعاني صعوبة جمّة للوصول إلى إجماع حول أيّة قضية.

الثقة المفرطة بخلود الإمبراطورية الأميركية، هي سمة راسخة للعقل السياسي لأنصارها بين ظهرانينا

بدأ الاستقطاب حول موضوعات سياسية تقليدية كالضرائب والإجهاض، لكنّه توسّع ليصبح نزاعاً مريراً حول الهُويات الثقافية. طلب الاعتراف من قبل الجماعات التي اعتبرت أنها عانت التهميش من قبل النخب هو واقع التفت إليه قبل 30 سنة على أنّه كعب أخيل الديمقراطيات المعاصرة. كان من المفترض أن يُفضي تهديدٌ كبيرٌ كجائحة كورونا إلى اتحاد المواطنين حول سبل مواجهته. بدلاً من ذلك، غذّت الجائحة الانقسام الداخلي الأميركي، وتحوّل التباعد الاجتماعي وارتداء الأقنعة والتلقيح إلى رموز للتمايز السياسي… خلال الحرب الباردة وحتى بداية الألفية الثانية، ساد إجماع قوي بين النخب السياسية حول ضرورة الحفاظ على موقع أميركي قيادي على الصعيد الدولي. غير أنّ الحروب التي لا نهاية لها في أفغانستان والعراق، غيّرت موقف العديد من الأميركيين حيال التدخّل الخارجي ليس في الشرق الأوسط وحده، بل على مستوى العالم بأسره». مهما كانت العوامل التي يؤدّي تضافرها وتفاعلها إلى إضعاف الموقع المهيمن لقوة مسيطرة في مرحلة تاريخية محدّدة، فإن تداعيات هذا التطور أول ما تظهر في المناطق الخاضعة لسيطرتها. هذا سرّ ما حصل في أفغانستان، وما سيقع في منطقتنا، وفي مناطق أخرى، في الآتي من السنين.



كلّ إمبراطورية إلى زوال


الثقة المفرطة بخلود الإمبراطورية الأميركية، هي سمة راسخة للعقل السياسي لأنصارها بين ظهرانينا. نذير شؤم آخر لهؤلاء أطلقه المؤرّخ الأميركي – البريطاني، نيل فيرغسون، المسكون بنوستالجيا الإمبراطورية البريطانية، والذي أجهر بانتمائه إلى ما أسماه «العصابة النيوامبريالية» عقب الغزو الأميركي – البريطاني للعراق، في عام 2003. ففي مقالٍ بعنوان «نهاية الإمبراطورية الأميركية لن تتمّ بسلام» على موقع «ذي إيكونوميست»، جزم فيرغسون بأنّ مآل الإمبراطورية الأميركية لن يكون أفضل من ذلك الذي وصلت إليه الإمبراطورية البريطانية. هو يعتقد بأنّ اجتماع عوامل كارتفاع المديونية العامة للدولة، وتراجع وزنها الاقتصادي النسبي على المستوى الدولي لمصلحة منافسيها الصاعدين والأكلاف الضخمة للتوسّع الإمبراطوري الزائد، والذي عانت منه بريطانيا في زمن مضى وتعاني منه الولايات المتحدة حالياً، يقود إلى فقدان قطاعات وازنة من مجتمعها للشهية الإمبراطورية. وبحسب فيرغسون، فإنّ «البريطانيين في ثلاثينيات القرن الماضي، كما الأميركيين راهناً، فقدوا هواهم الإمبراطوري، وهو ما لاحظه المراقبون الصينيون وابتهجوا بسببه… المشكلة التي كشفها الانهيار الأميركي في أفغانستان هي أنّ التراجع عن الهيمنة العالمية يندر أن يحصل بشكل سلمي. مهما كانت الصياغة اللغوية المعتمدة للإعلان عن الانسحاب من أطول حرب قامت بشنّها، فإنّ ذلك يوازي الاعتراف بالهزيمة، وليس في نظر الطالبان وحدهم… قناعة السيد بايدن بإمكانية الخروج من أفغانستان على غرار ما فعله نيكسون في فيتنام، هي استعادةٌ لتجربة تاريخية سيّئة لأنّ إذلال أميركا في هذا البلد، كانت له نتائج خطيرة. هي شجّعت الاتحاد السوفياتي وحلفاءه على إثارة القلاقل في أماكن أخرى: في جنوب وشرق أفريقيا، وفي أميركا الوسطى وأفغانستان، التي غُزيت في عام 1979. تكرار سيناريو سقوط سايغون في كابول ستكون له تداعيات سلبية مشابهة».

لم تمنع القناعات الإيديولوجية لمدافعين بارزين عن ريادة النموذج الأميركي لعقود، من الإقرار بالهزيمة الأميركية في أفغانستان، وما تشي به من عوامل بنيوية تسرّع في انحسار هيمنة واشنطن على النطاق العالمي، على عكس مريديهم العرب. هنا تكمن أهمية هذه المقالات، ونحن نحضّهم على قراءتها بتمعّن، كما فعلوا سابقاً عندما روّجوا لنهاية التاريخ والهيمنة «الحميدة» وغيرها من الفقاعات الإيديولوجية.

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The West, Eurasia, and the Global South: The Development of Underdevelopment

The West, Eurasia, and the Global South: The Development of Underdevelopment

August 01, 2021

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

‘The dependency thesis, like all good (and great) theories can be summed up in a single phrase: Modern ‘’underdevelopment’’ is not ‘’historical backwardness’’ the result of late and insufficient development; it is the product of capitalist development, which is polarizing by nature’. (Andre Gunder Frank -1996.)

The leader of the UK Conservative Party, Mrs Thatcher, first came to power in the UK in 1979 with a brief to end the post-war consensus which had prevailed from the Labour party victory in 1945. Although Labour lost the ensuing elections from 1951-1963, the Conservative Party nonetheless adopted many of Labour’s social-democratic policies, particularly the economic policies, which characterised the post-war years. The same process was to take place when Ronald Reagan established a similar ascendency in the United States. The Thatcher-Reagan duo was born and was to terminate the post-war settlement in both the UK and the US.

Theories were put forward by economic luminaries on both sides of the Atlantic, but particularly by Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago. The notion that there existed a magic panacea that would banish all the problems associated with the failing British and American economic policies of 1945-1979, formed the basis of the Thatcher-Reagan economic radicalism, which was to be followed by the Blair-Clinton consolidation of the 1990s. The so-called ‘supply-side’ revolution consisted of removing all the controls which undergirded capitalism, and which had been painstakingly put in place during the course of the 20th century, and simply letting the system find its own level. Privatisation, deregulation, and liberalisation were the components in this policy paradigm.

Of course none of this is news; it had been the staple of the West’s chattering classes in the late 20th century. But its effects were more than restricted to the North Atlantic bloc and was to have a global impact changing the political and economic policies and structures of the whole world.

NEO-LIBERALISM & GLOBALIZATION

­In international terms ‘free’-trade as it was known was at the heart of the system – a system, which was later to become known as globalization, packaged and sold as an irresistible force of nature. Globalization was considered to be neo-liberalism writ large. But on the contrary, a more nuanced interpretation was to be put forward by one of the more astute commentators on the issue.

‘’The standard and most popular narrative is of globalization as the twin of neo-liberalism, expressing the market-fundamentalist view that state-intervention is bad for the economy. It is argued that the state interferes too much with the self-regulating power of the markets, thereby undermining prosperity. This perspective would explain why Alan Greenspan regarded it as fortunate that globalization was rendering the government as being redundant. We call this the anti-state narrative. An alternative narrative is actually considerably more germane: an anti-politics, specifically an anti-mass politics narrative. Greenspan’s statement incorporated the conventional presumption that the West has reached the frontiers of traditional politics: politics has lost its efficacy in the face of global forces. As a result, especially economic policy, is now pretty irrelevant if not actually detrimental, because everything is driven by – determined by – the impersonal force of globalisation. (1) So it is argued.

It was of course taken as axiomatic that free-trade – a vital component in the new economic paradigm – was always and everywhere the best policy. This conventional wisdom was to become known as the ‘Washington Consensus’ and was given a legitimating cachet by political, business, and academic elites around the world. However many of the elements – if not all – of the Washington Consensus where hardly new, many date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and perhaps beyond. It could be said that the newly emergent mainstream orthodoxy represented a caricature of an outdated and somewhat dubious political economy.

The free-trade canon is, of course, spoken of in almost reverential terms. It is as jealously guarded by the economics priesthood in Wall Street and the City of London and of course academia. In short, the theory is based upon a type of formal logic expounded by the early pioneers of political economy, viz., Adam Smith and David Ricardo; and in particular in Ricardo’s magnum opus, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation first published in 1817. Briefly he argued that nations should specialise in what they do best and in that way world output would be maximised. The hypothetical example he used was England and Portugal and the production of wine and cloth, where he calculated that England should produce cloth and Portugal should produce wine. It was asserted, although no evidence was ever presented, that all would gain from this international division of labour.

However, even a cursory glance at economic history, and particularly the transition from agrarian to industrial societies, demonstrates the weaknesses, and indeed serves to falsify the whole Ricardian model – taken as a model of development. The brute historical fact is that every nation which has successfully embarked upon this transition, including most importantly the US and Germany, has done so adopting catch-up policies which were the exact opposite of those advocated by the free-trade school. (2)

In the world of actually existing capitalism free-trade is the exception rather than the rule. Contemporary free-trade is mainly a matter of intra-firm trading, that is to say, global companies trading with their own subsidiaries and affiliates mainly for tax avoidance purposes, transfer pricing for example. Next come the regional trading blocs – the EU, NAFTA, (which was superseded by the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement USMCA) and Mercosur (in Latin America). With regard to Mercosur there is no common currency as is the case in most of the EU. Thirdly there is barter trade where goods and services are exchanged for other goods and services rather than money. Finally only about 20% of world trade can at most be considered free trade, and even here there are exceptions involving bilateral specifications and agreements.

INTERVENTIONISM

Modernisation and industrialisation, wherever it took place, involved tariffs, non-tariff barriers (3) infant industry protection, export subsidies, import quotas, grants for Research and Development (R&D), patents, currency manipulation, mass education and so forth – a smorgasboard of interventionist policies whereby the economy was directed from above by the state. For example, during its period of industrialisation, the United States erected tariff walls to keep out foreign (mainly British) goods with the intention of nurturing nascent US industries. US tariffs (in percentages of value) ranged from 35% to almost 50% during the period 1820-1931, and the US itself only became in any sense a free trading nation after WW2, that is once its financial and industrial hegemony had been established.

In Europe laissez-faire policies were also eschewed. In Germany in particular tariffs were lower than those in the US, but the involvement of the German state in the development of the economy was decidedly hands on. Again there was the by now standard policy of infant industry protection, and this was supplemented by an array of grants from the central government including scholarships to promising innovators, subsidies to competent entrepreneurs, and the organisation of exhibitions of new machinery and industrial processes. In addition ‘’during this period Germany pioneered modern policy, which was important in maintaining social peace – and thus promoting and encouraging social investment – in a newly unified country.’’ (4)

This path from under-development to modern industrial development, a feature of historical and dynamic economic growth and expansion which has taken place in the US, Europe, and East Asia is not a ‘natural’ progression, it was a matter of state policy. It has been the same everywhere that it has been applied. That being said the Ricardian legacy still prevails. But this legacy takes on the form of a free-floating ideology with little connexion to either practical policy prescriptions or the real world.

Turning to the real world it can be seen, by all of those who have eyes to see, that, ‘’ … history shows that symmetric free-trade between nations of approximately the same level of development, benefits both parties.’’ However, ‘’ … asymmetric trade will lead to the poor nation specialising in being poor, whilst the rich nation will specialise in being rich. To benefit from free-trade, the poor nation must rid itself of its international specialisation of being poor. For 500 years this has not happened anywhere without any market intervention.’’ (5)

GLOBAL ECONOMIC ASYMMETRY

This asymmetry in the global system is both cause and consequence of globalization. It should be borne in mind that the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are the providers of cheap raw material inputs to the industrial countries of North America, Western Europe and East Asia. In technological terms the LDC’s find themselves locked into low value-added, dead-end production where no discernible technology transfer takes place. Thus under-development is a structural characteristic of globalization, not some unfortunate accident. Put another way,

‘’ … If rich nations (the North) as the result of historical tendencies (i.e., colonialism – FL) are relatively well-endowed with vital resources of capital, entrepreneurial ability, and skilled labour, their continued specialisation in products and processes that use these resources intensively can create the necessary conditions for their further growth. By contrast LDCs (the global South) endowed with abundant supplies of cheap unskilled labour, by intentionally specialising in products which use cheap, unskilled labour … often find themselves locked into a stagnant situation which perpetuates their comparative advantage in unskilled unproductive activities. This in turn inhibits the domestic growth of needed capital, and technical skills. Static efficiency becomes dynamic inefficiency, and a cumulative process is set in motion in which trade exacerbates already unequal trading relationships, distributes benefits largely to the people who are already well off, and perpetuates the physical and human resource under-development that characterises most poor nations. (6)

Examples of these unequal economic relationships are not difficult to find. US global trade policy was openly based upon a ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’ set up. America’s trade ‘partners’ were somewhat less endowed with both political and economic capital compared with their senior trading associate – this fact provides a number of typical case studies in this connexion.

Agriculture was always a particular example of the double standard inherent in the trade liberalization agenda. The United States always insisted that other countries reduce their barriers to American products and eliminate subsidies for those products which competed against theirs. However, the US kept up barriers for the goods produced by the developing countries whilst it continued to underwrite massive subsidies for their own producers.

Agricultural subsidies encouraged American farmers to produce more output, forcing down global prices for the crops that poor developing countries produce and depend upon. For example, subsidies for one crop alone, cotton, went to 25,000 mostly very well-off US farmers, exceeded in value the cotton that was produced, lowering the global price of cotton enormously. American farmers, who account for a third of global output, despite the fact that US production costs twice the international price of 42 cents per pound, gained at the expense of the 10 million African farmers in Mali, West Africa, who depended on cotton for their meagre living. Several African countries lost between 1 and 2 percent of their entire income, an amount greater than what these particular countries received in foreign aid from the US. The state of Mali received US$37 million in aid but lost US$43 million from depressed cotton prices.

In other grubby little deals the US tried to keep out Mexican tomatoes, and Mexican trucks, Chinese honey, and Ukrainian women’s coats. Whenever an American industry is threatened, the US authorities swing into action, using so-called fair-trade laws, which had been largely blessed by the Uruguay Round.

Such Treaties were little more than a con game between two grossly unequal partners where one of the partners holds all the cards. Nor does it end there. Transnational Companies can and do avoid much local taxation by shifting profits to subsidiaries in low-tax venues by artificially inflating the price which they pay for their intermediate products purchased from these same subsidiaries so as to lower their stated profits. This phenomenon is usually called ‘transfer pricing’ and is a common practice of Transnational Companies (TNCs), one over which host governments can exert little control as long as corporate tax rates differ from one country to the next.

It should also be borne in mind that although the IMF and World Bank enjoin LDCs to adopt market liberalisation policies they apparently see – or conveniently ignore – the past and current mercantilist practices of developed nations. Agriculture, as has been noted, is massively subsidised in both NAFTA and the EU. But it really is a question of don’t do what I do – do as I say.

The hypocrisy at the heart of the problem represents the elephant in the room. We know that countries which attempt to open their markets when they are not ready to do so usually pay a heavy price (Russia during the Yeltsin period and the shock therapy for example). The countries which protect their growing industries until they are ready to trade on world markets – e.g. South Korea –have been the successes, even in capitalist terms. The wave of development during the 19th century and the development of East Asia in the 20th bears witness to this.

NOT IN THE DEVELOPMENT BUSINESS

But the object of the free-trade rhetoric and finger-wagging posture of the developed world is precisely to maintain the status quo. We should be aware that … ‘’Transnational Corporations are not in the development business; their objective is to maximise their return on capital. TNCs seek out the best profit opportunities and are largely unconcerned with issues such as poverty, inequality, employment conditions, and environmental problems.’’ (7)

Given the regulatory capture of the political structures in the developed world by powerful business interests, it seems that this situation is likely to endure for the foreseeable future. Development will only come about when the LDCs take their fate into their own hands and emulate the national building strategies of East Asia.

‘’…markets have a strong tendency to reinforce the status quo. The free market dictates that countries should stick to what they are good at. Stated bluntly, this means that poor countries are supposed to continue with the current practices in low-productivity, low-value added, and low research-intensive activities. But engagement in these activities is exactly what makes them poor in the first place. If they want to leave poverty behind, they have to defy the market and do the more difficult things that bring them higher income and development – there are no two ways about it.’’ (8)

APPENDIX

THE RUSSIAN ROAD.

The legacy of the Yeltsin years had left Russia badly exposed to a triumphalist Western US/EU/NATO bloc. The NATO expansion up to Russia’s western frontiers posed a serious threat to Russia’s security. Internationally Russia was relatively isolated. The socialist political and economic alliances (Warsaw Pact and Comecon) were disbanded, and their previous commercial and economic networks were dismantled. The Russian Federation was excluded from membership of the European Union and was not (yet) a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This was the background for the widespread popular support for the assertive policy of President Putin.

But the geopolitical situation was to say the least – challenging. For his part Putin objected to NATO’s deployment of missiles in Poland and Romania pointed directly at Russia. In 1999 the Visegrad countries, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, joined NATO and in 2004 they were joined by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. All these states joined in 2009. Albania and Croatia joined in the same year. Economically, politically and militarily, the ‘’West’’ had arrived at Russia’s borders.

In addition to its external enemies Russia had an abundance of internal foes. This latter group was a product of the Yeltsin model and prior to this a tottering bureaucratic system which barely worked and ultimately collapsed. It was possible to distinguish two main groups which, for better or worse, undermined the Soviet system, which were identified as 1. The Administrative Class, and 2. The Acquiring Class, to which should be added the black-market entrepreneurs who were keen to emulate their western business icons in addition to the American mafia. Powerful reactionary and criminal elements in Russia were keen to bring about deep-rooted changes at the expense of the Russian people.

‘’Ostensibly the reforms in Russia were overseen by a group of senior state officials headed by one Yegor Gaidar and advised, supported and encouraged by senior figures from the US administration, as well as by various American ‘experts.’ But according to an American scholar, Janine Wedel, the Russian reforms were worked out in painstaking detail by a handful of specialists from Harvard University, with close ties to the American government, and were implemented in Russia through the politically dominant ‘Chubais Clan’. (Wedel – 2001). Chubais was officially reported as having engaged foreign consultants including officers of the CIA, to fill leading roles in the State Property Committee. Jonathan Hay, citizen of the USA and Officer in the CIA, was appointed director of the Foreign Technical Aid and Expertise Section and Deputy to the chairperson of the committee (Anatoliy Chubais) within the Expert Commission. The Expert Commission was empowered to review draft decrees of the president of Russia to review for the decisions by the government and instructions by the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the State Property Committee of the Russian Federation of the details of privatisation in various sectors of the economy … The memoirs of Strove Talbott, Assistant to the US President William Jefferson Clinton on Russian affairs, left no doubt that the US administration viewed (the then) Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, as a reliable conduit for its interests in Russia.

The US neo-liberal economists Jeffrey Sachs and Andrei Shleifer, and Jonathan Hay, had an unprecedented degree of influence over Russia’s economic policy which was unparalleled for a sovereign state. Together with Gaidar and Chabais they formulated decisions that were inserted directly into Presidential decrees … Analysis shows that the implementation of Russian reforms organically combined an aspiration by Soviet bureaucrats to transform themselves from State functionaries into private property owners, and a desire on the part of the ruling elites in the West to impose their own system of values on their historical rival. It was thus inappropriate to speak of Russia and its neighbours in the CIS as having been independent in their conduct of radical economic reforms, and this very lack of independence was crucial for determining the strategy applied in these transformations.’’ (9)

Be that as it may, the damage to Russia carried out and orchestrated by both internal and external enemies was to push back Russian development at least two decades, if not more. Russia has been described by various informed opinion as being a ‘semi-peripheral economy’ and there is some truth in this, its main exports being raw materials and military and defence hardware. But this was a choice forced upon Russia by the US-western alliance. At the turn of the 19/20 century Russia needed to defend itself from western aggression. There were two absolute priorities. Agricultural security and military security. This was the sine qua non for Russia’s continued survival and development. The mixed economy – a characteristic of the western economic models, was for the moment, out of reach. But then the west started to run into its own problems, so things began to balance, particularly with the emergence of the Russian-Chinese alliance. However, the Yeltsin period which had produced a crop of cronies, co-conspirators, criminal and mafia elements, are still hidden in the shadows, often in very high places. The struggle goes on. La Lotta Continua.

NOTES

(1) Phillip Mullan – Beyond Confrontation – p.36

(2) These economic policies as advocated by Alexander Hamilton in the US. In the month of January of 1791, the Secretary of Treasury to the then President George Washington’s administration, Mr. Alexander Hamilton, proposed a seemingly innocuous excise tax on spirits distilled within the United States of America. The move was part of Hamilton’s initiative to encourage industrialization and higher degree of national sufficiency. In his December 1791 report to manufacturers, Hamilton called for protective tariffs to spur domestic production. Also, Hamilton called for the reduction of duties on goods that were carried by American ships.

This was also the case of Freidrich List in Germany in his short work – The National System of Political Economy.

(3) A non-tariff barrier (NTB) is a policy implemented by a government that acts as a cost or impediment to trade. It is not tariffs on products but rather different rules and regulations that are often the biggest practical barrier to trade between countries. Examples of non-tariff barriers include rules on labelling and safety standards on products. Other types of non-tariff barriers to trade can also be the result of policies that differentiate between national and international companies and firms. For example, domestic subsidies by governments to a carmaker may help keep that manufacturer in their country. However, that acts as essentially an indirect non-tariff barrier to other car companies looking to compete. Governments are also often likely to give preferential treatment to companies in their own country when it comes to government procurement contracts. Governments also buy products from their own industries in preference to foreign companies, these are called procurement policies another NTB. This can be seen as an impediment to free and fair international trade.

(4) Ha-Joon Chang – Kicking Away the Ladder – p.32/33.

(5) How Rich Countries Got Rich and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor. – Erik Reinert. It could be argued that political intervention would be the prerequisite for an industrial policy.

(6) Development Economics – Todaro and Smith – 2009

(7) Todaro and Smith – Development Economics – Ibid.

(8) Ha-Joon Chang – Bad Samaritans – p.210

(9) Ruslan Dzarasov – Russia, Ukraine and Contemporary Imperialism – Semi-Peripheral Russia and the Ukraine Crisis – pp.82-97

The Chinese Miracle, Revisited

The Chinese Miracle, Revisited

June 30, 2021

Western exceptionalists may continue to throw a fit 24/7 ad infinitum: that will not change the course of history.

By Pepe Escobar with permission and widely distributed

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) centennial takes place this week at the heart of an incandescent geopolitical equation.

China, the emerging superpower, is back to the global prominence it enjoyed throughout centuries of recorded history, while the declining Hegemon is paralyzed by the “existential challenge” posed to its fleeting, unilateral dominance.

A mindset of full spectrum confrontation already sketched in the 2017 U.S. National Security Review is sliding fast into fear, loathing and relentless Sinophobia.

Add to it the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership graphically exposing the ultimate Mackinderian nightmare of Anglo-American elites jaded by “ruling the world” – for only two centuries at best.

The Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping may have coined the ultimate formula for what many in the West defined as the Chinese miracle:

“To seek truth from facts, not from dogmas, whether from East or West”.

So this was never about divine intervention, but planning, hard work, and learning by trial and error.

The recent session of the National People’s Congress provides a stark example. Not only it approved a new Five-Year Plan, but in fact a full road map for China’s development up to 2035: three plans in one.

What the whole world saw, in practice, was the manifest efficiency of the Chinese governance system, capable of designing and implementing extremely complex geoeconomic strategies after plenty of local and regional debate on a vast range of policy initiatives.

Compare it to the endless bickering and gridlock in Western liberal democracies, which are incapable of planning for the next quarter, not to mention fifteen years.

The best and the brightest in China actually do their Deng; they couldn’t care less about the politicizing of governance systems. What matters is what they define as a very effective system to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) development plans, and put them in practice.

The 85% popular vote

At the start of 2021, before the onset of the Year of the Metal Ox, President Xi Jinping emphasized that  “favorable social conditions” should be in place for the CCP centennial celebrations.

Oblivious to waves of demonization coming from the West, for Chinese public opinion what matters is whether the CCP delivered. And deliver it did (over 85% popular approval). China controlled Covid-19 in record time; economic growth is back; poverty alleviation was achieved; and the civilization-state became a “moderately prosperous society” – right on schedule for the CCP centennial.

Since 1949, the size of the Chinese economy soared by a whopping 189 times. Over the past two decades, China’s GDP grew 11-fold. Since 2010, it more than doubled, from $6 trillion to $15 trillion, and now accounts for 17% of global economic output.

No wonder Western grumbling is irrelevant. Shanghai Capital investment boss Eric Li succinctly describes the governance gap; in the U.S., government changes but not policy. In China, government doesn’t change; policy does.

This is the background for the next development stage – where the CCP will in fact double down on its unique hybrid model of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

The key point is that the Chinese leadership, via non-stop policy adjustments (trial and error, always) has evolved a model of “peaceful rise” – their own terminology – that essentially respects China’s immense historical and cultural experiences.

In this case, Chinese exceptionalism means respecting Confucianism – which privileges harmony and abhors conflict – as well as Daoism – which privileges balance – over the boisterous, warring, hegemonic Western model.

This is reflected in major policy adjustments such as the new “dual circulation” drive, which places greater emphasis on the domestic market compared to China as the “factory of the world”.

Past and future are totally intertwined in China; what was done in previous dynasties echoes in the future. The best contemporary example is the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – the overarching Chinese foreign policy concept for the foreseeable future.

As detailed by Renmin University Professor Wang Yiwei, BRI is about to reshape geopolitics, “bringing Eurasia back to its historical place at the center of human civilization.” Wang has shown how “the two great civilizations of the East and the West were linked until the rise of the Ottoman Empire cut off the Ancient Silk Road”.

Europe moving seaward led to “globalization through colonization”; the decline of the Silk Road; the world’s center shifting to the West; the rise of the U.S.; and the decline of Europe. Now, Wang argues, “Europe is faced with a historic opportunity to return to the world center through the revival of Eurasia.”

And that’s exactly what the Hegemon will go no holds barred to prevent.

Zhu and Xi

It’s fair to argue that Xi’s historical counterpart is the Hongwu emperor Zhu, the founder of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The emperor was keen to present his dynasty as a Chinese renewal after Mongol domination via the Yuan dynasty.

Xi frames it as “Chinese rejuvenation”: “China used to be a world economic power. However, it missed its chance in the wake of the Industrial Revolution and the consequent dramatic changes, and was thus left behind and suffered humiliation under foreign invasion …we must not let this tragic history repeat itself.”

The difference is that 21st century China under Xi will not retreat inward as it did under the Ming. The parallel for the near future would rather be with the Tang dynasty (618-907), which privileged trade and interactions with the world at large.

To comment on the torrent of Western misinterpretations of China is a waste of time. For the Chinese, the overwhelming majority of Asia, and for the Global South, much more relevant is to register how the American imperial narrative – “we are the liberators of Asia-Pacific” – has now been totally debunked.

In fact Chairman Mao may end up having the last laugh. As he wrote in 1957, “if the imperialists insist on launching a third world war, it is certain that several hundred million more will turn to socialism, and then there will not be much room left on earth for the imperialists; it is also likely that the whole structure of imperialism will utterly collapse.”

Martin Jacques, one of the very few Westerners who actually studied China in depth, correctly pointed out how “China has enjoyed five separate periods when it has enjoyed a position of pre-eminence – or shared pre-eminence – in the world: part of the Han, the Tang, arguably the Song, the early Ming, and the early Qing.”

So China, historically, does represent continuous renewal and “rejuvenation” (Xi). We’re right in the middle of another one of these phases – now conducted by a CCP dynasty that, incidentally, does not believe in miracles, but in hardcore planning. Western exceptionalists may continue to throw a fit 24/7 ad infinitum: that will not change the course of history.

American plans something but ends up differently

American plans something but ends up differently

April 23, 2021

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

“I flew to Afghanistan, to the Kunar Valley — a rugged, mountainous region on the border with Pakistan. What I saw on that trip reinforced my conviction that only the Afghans have the right and responsibility to lead their country and that more and endless American military force could not create or sustain a durable Afghan government.” President Joe Biden explained in his remarks in the White House on 14 April 2021, where he announced the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan starting from 1 May 2021 and completes on 11 September 2021.

The US invaded Afghanistan to fight against the tribal system of Afghanistan and create a modern democratic government based on American vision. The US, with the help of its allies, and full military might, after spending Trillion Dollars, killing millions of human beings (from either side), devastating the whole country completely, is concluded that the Afghan war is unwinnable and the American must leave Afghanistan. Today in war-torn Afghanistan, there is no electricity because all dams & powerhouses were bombed. No infrastructure, all damaged in the ruthless bombing, no education, no health care, scarcity of food, medicine, fuel, etc. Homes were damaged, crops were destroyed, businesses were damaged—– one of the heaviest bombing and explosive used in the history of humankind. The poor Afghans are living a miserable life, all due to prolonged imposed war.

The US used state of the art, latest, advanced, most lethal weapons, modern war tactics, well-trained troops, and all possible technologies to win this war but failed adversely. The Allies, who were very much proactive in the early days of the war but calmed down gradually and today are not so supportive of the US on the Afghan war.

The number of Nato forces peaked at about 140,000 in 2011 but decreased in subsequent years as Nato countries wound down combat operations, handing over control to local security forces. Countries with troops still in Afghanistan include the US, Georgia, Germany, Turkey, Romania, Italy, the UK, and Australia. The US and allies created an Afghan Army of around 300,000 on the most modern lines and trained & equipped with the Western latest weapons. Yet failed to gain control over Afghanistan. Yet more than 70% of Afghanistan is under Taliban control.

Although the Afghan war has destroyed Afghanistan severely, it at the same time has also cost heavily to the US itself too. Not only Trillion dollars cost of the war, but thousands of servicemen’s lives, and substantial mental disturbance to servicemen involved in the Afghan war. Yet, the most prominent impact has been visible that instead of fighting the tribal system in Afghanistan, America itself has turned into a tribal society. The recent number of shootings and killings are increased sharply, depicting the visible change in the American society – tribal society – where might is right – gun culture. The exponential growth of crimes is undesired at all. Although President Trump created hate in American society and supported white-supremacist, the roots of hatred have existed for a long time, he was just a catalyst. It might take decades to normalize the situation in America.

Afghanistan is an old civilization and one of the oldest countries, which foreign invaders in history never defeated. Afghans have their own tradition of bravery. They might fight internally but are united against any intruders. Their tribal society is strong enough to resolve their issue, and any interference from outside or imposed system may not succeed. It took two decades for to American understand the nature of Afghan society and the solution to their problems. It is never too late; even if the American troop’s exit from Afghan, there might be a vacuum for the time being, and danger of bloodshed moves around. Ultimately, it is the Afghans only who have to resolve their issues. An Afghan let, Afghan-owned solution can be sustainable only.

The Americans should focus on how to help Afghanistan in reconstruction after the troops’ withdrawal. It might require several trillion dollars to rebuild Afghanistan. The US and allies who destroyed Afghanistan have the moral obligations to help Afghanistan generously.

However, the UN may also proactively pursue the reconstruction of Afghanistan after the withdrawal. After the world wars, an agreement like German and Japanese (Potsdam Agreement) agreements needed to be reached between Afghanistan and America, including allies, for war compensation. China and Russia may become guarantors of such an agreement for implementation.

However, Afghans are not the sons of lessor God and deserve equal treatment and access to a quality life. After spending four decades in war, at least they deserve a peaceful and prosperous life. It needs enormous funding, and only those who are responsible for this destruction are supposed to help them appropriately.

It is not the first time which happened with America, where it plans some things and ends up in entirely opposite. I recalled my days in China in the early 1980s, when American and European entrepreneurs were entering China to occupy the vast niche market of China. That was the era of China opening to the outside world and introducing economic reforms. China facilitated market access, and American & European businessmen and investors flooded the Chinese market with foreign products. Those were the days when China was facing a shortage of everything like food, consumer products and etc. A quota system was introduced to buy items of daily life. They made huge profits in the early days, but gradually, they shifted their industry to China to avail themselves of China’s cheap raw material and cheap labor cost. It was in the best interest of foreign companies to manufacture in China to cut down the cost and maximize their profit. But sooner, they became the market of China.

Against their original plan to occupy the Chinese market, they became a market for Chinese products. The worst phenomenon was visible in the early days of the Pandemic when America was dependant on China on essential items like Masks, Sanitizers, Ventilators, Testing kits, and toilet papers, etc. China has become the manufacturing factory for the world, and no other country can compete with China in daily consumer products.

China has emerged as the second-largest economy in the world and the biggest trading partner with most of the nations. China shares one-third of the global economy and supplies almost 70% of consumer products to the whole world. China has become a global power already.

The American experience in Vietnam War, Somaliya War, Syrian War, and Middle-East wars is not much different. In Seven Decades, hardly any war Which Americans can claim a total victory. However, during the World wars, the US was a winner.

Trust, next couple of decades, the US must focus on its domestic issues and re-evaluate its mistakes in the perspective of changed geopolitics. Stop meddling in other nations and countries, stop thinking to change the world order as per the wishes of America. Let others live the life as they desire and live your own life according to your own wishes. Let peace, stability, and prosperity boom around the world, avoid imposing wars on other nations. Respect humanity and respect human lives.


Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

Do as I say … not as I do

Do as I say … not as I do

April 19, 2021

By Francis Lee who looks at the politics of development and under-development for the Saker Blog.

I think it was Sir Ian Gilmour (now deceased) who, as one time member of Mrs Thatcher’s first Cabinet in 1979, referred to her economic policy as ‘Clause 4 dogmatism in reverse.’ (1) This was an apt description from a thinking Tory. The notion that there existed a magic panacea which would banish all the problems associated with Britain’s (and the world’s) economic ills, formed the basis of Thatcherism, Reaganism, and the Third-wayism of Clinton and Blair. The so-called ‘supply-side’ revolution consisted of removing all the controls from capitalism which had been painstakingly put in place over the centuries, and simply letting the system rip – and rip it did. The 1970s was the beginning of the interregnum to the new order of the 1980s and beyond, which had ushered in policies of privatisation, deregulation, liberalisation which were the key components of this policy paradigm.

In international terms free-trade and free-markets were of course at the heart of the system – a system which was to become known as ‘globalization’ and/or neoliberalism packaged and sold as an irresistible force of nature. It was considered, by all the people that mattered, that free-trade was always and everywhere the best policy. This view was codified in what was to become known as the ‘Washington Consensus.’ The new conventional wisdom was conceived of and given a legitimating cachet by political, business, MSM and academic elites around the world.

However, many of the elements – if not all – of the Washington Consensus were hardly new, and indeed many date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and perhaps beyond. It could be said that the newly emergent mainstream orthodoxy represented a caricature of an outdated and somewhat dubious political economy.

The theory that free trade between nations would maximise output and welfare was first mooted by Adam Smith, but its final elaboration was conducted by David Ricardo in his famous work The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation first published in 1817. Briefly, he argued that nations should specialise in what they do best and in that way world output would be maximised. This policy was called ‘comparative advantage’. The hypothetical example he used was England and Portugal and the production of wine and cloth, where he calculated that England should produce cloth and Portugal should produce wine. It was asserted, though no evidence was ever presented, that all would gain from this international division of labour. The theory is in fact full of unsubstantiated and seductive notions, but its practical application is limited. Because it is based upon so many rigid and static assumptions, it is especially appealing to those of a status quo disposition, including most present- day globalist thinkers.

However, even a cursory glance at economic history, and particularly the transition from agrarian to industrial societies, demonstrates the weaknesses, and indeed, serves to falsify the whole Ricardian trade paradigm. The brute historical fact is that every nation which has successfully embarked on this transition – including the UK – has done so adopting policies which were the exact opposite of those advocated by the free-trade school. In the world of actually existing capitalism, free-trade is the exception rather than the rule. Contemporary world trade is mainly a matter of intra-firm trading, that is, global companies trading with their own affiliates and subsidiaries in different countries, mainly for tax avoidance purposes (see below). Next there are regional trading blocs like the EU or US which erect tariff barriers to non-members. Thirdly there is barter trade where goods and services are exchanged for other goods and services rather than money. Finally, only about 20% at most, can be considered to be free trade, and even here there are exceptions involving bilateral specifications and agreements.

Modernisation and industrialisation, wherever it took place, involved tariffs, infant industry protection, export subsidies, import quotas, grants for R&D, patents, currency manipulation, mass education and so forth … a smorgasboard of interventionist policies whereby the economy was directed from above by the state. For example during its period of industrialisation the United States erected tariff walls to keep out foreign (mainly British) goods with the intention of nurturing nascent US industries. US tariffs (in percentages of value) ranged from 35 to almost 50% during the period 1820-1931, and the US itself only became in any sense a free-trading nation after World War II, that is once its financial and industrial hegemony had been established. In Europe laissez-faire was also eschewed. In Germany in particular tariffs were lower in the US, but the involvement of the German state in the development of the economy was decidedly hands-on. Again there was the by now standard policy of infant industry protection, and this was supplemented by an array of grants from the central government including scholarships to promising innovators, subsidies to competent entrepreneurs, and the organisation of exhibitions of new machinery and industrial processes. In addition, ‘’during this period Germany pioneered modern social policy, which was important in maintaining social peace – and thus promoting investment – in a newly unified country … ‘’(2)

It has been the same everywhere, yet the Ricardian legacy still prevails. But this legacy takes on the form of a free-floating ideology with little connexion to either practical policy prescriptions or the real world. It has been said in this respect that ‘’ … practical results have little to do with the persuasiveness of ideology.’’(3) This much is true, but it rather misses the point: the function of ideology is not to supply answers to problems in the real world, but simply to give a Panglossian justification to the prevalent order of things.

Turning to the real world it will be seen that ‘’ … history shows that symmetric free-trade, between nations of approximately the same level of development, benefits both parties.’’ However, ‘’asymmetric trade will lead to the poor nation specialising in being poor, while the rich nation will specialise in being rich. To benefit from free trade, the poor nation must rid itself of its international specialisation of being poor. For 500 years this has not happened anywhere without any market intervention.’’ (4)

This asymmetry in the global system is both cause and consequence of globalization. It should be borne in mind that the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are suppliers of cheap raw material inputs to the industrialised countries of North America, Western Europe, and East Asia. In technological terms the LDCs find themselves locked into low value-added, low-productivity, low-research intensive dead-end production, where no discernible development or technology transfer takes place. Thus under-development is a structural characteristic of globalization, not some unfortunate accident. Put another way:

‘’ … if rich nations (the North) as the result of historical forces, are relatively well endowed with the vital resources of capital, entrepreneurial ability, and skilled labour, their continued specialisation in products and processes that use the resources intensively can create the necessary conditions for their further growth. By contrast LDCs (the global-South) endowed with abundant supplies of cheap, unskilled labour, by intentionally specialising in products that use cheap, unskilled labour … will often find themselves locked into a stagnant situation that perpetuates their comparative advantage in unskilled, unproductive activities. This in turn inhibits the domestic growth of needed capital, entrepreneurship, and technical skills. Static efficiency becomes dynamic inefficiency, and a cumulative process is set in motion in which trade exacerbates already unequal trading relationships, distributes benefits largely to the people who are already well-off, and perpetuates the physical and human resource under-development that characterises most poor nations.’’ (5)

The cocoa-chocolate industry (hereafter CCI) of the West African nations, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria are a case in point. These countries produce the majority of the world’s raw cocoa beans. But of course the industry as a whole is controlled by western multinationals such as Hershey, Nestlé and Cadbury-Schweppes (now Kraft). The structure of this industry – vertically integrated – is very typical of the relationship between the LDCs and the developed world. The low value-added part of the industry – growing and harvesting the beans – is left to individual farmers in West Africa. Buying agencies, either very close to, or in fact subsidiaries of multinational companies (MNCs), then buy the raw material at prices usually dictated by the MNCs. This asymmetrical relationship between supplier and sole buyers (the African farmers) is termed ‘monopsony’ in the economics jargon. It should be understood that large companies not only over-price their products to the final consumer, but also under-price their purchases from their captive suppliers. From then on, the various stages of the processing supply chain are in the hands of the parent company. From raw beans, to roasting, milling, refining, manufacturing of chocolate or cocoa, shipping, and packaging, branding and advertising – all of these stages add value to the product, value which is garnered by the MNC. The exporting African nations are left with the low or no value-added end of the operation, a technological cul-de-sac.

Nor does it end there. MNCs can avoid much local taxation by shifting profits to subsidiaries in low-tax venues by artificially inflating the price which it pays for intermediate products purchased from these same subsidiaries so as to lower its stated profits. This phenomenon is known as transfer pricing and is a common practice of MNCs – one over which host governments can exert little control as long as corporate tax rates differ from one country to the next. Hypothetically it works as follows:

Take a company called World Inc. which produces a type of food in Africa; it then processes it and sells the finished product in the United States. World Inc. does this via three subsidiaries: Africa Inc. (in Africa Malawi ), Haven Inc. (in a tax haven, British Virgin Islands with zero taxes) and America Inc. (in the United States).

1. Now Africa Inc. sells the produce to Haven Inc. at an artificially low price, resulting in Africa Inc. having artificially low profits – and consequently an artificially low tax bill in Africa. 2. Then Haven Inc. sells the product to America Inc. at a very high price – almost as high as the final retail price at which 3. America Inc. sells the processed product. As a result, America Inc. also has artificially low profitability, and an artificially low tax bill in America. By contrast, however, Haven Inc. has bought at a very low price, and sold at a very high price, artificially creating very high profits. However, Haven Inc is located in a tax haven – so it pays no taxes on those profits. Easy Peasy, no?

Bear in mind also that although the IMF and World Bank enjoin LDCs to adopt market liberalisation policies, they apparently see – or conveniently ignore – the past and current mercantilist practices of developed nations. Agriculture for example is massively subsidised in both the US and the EU. But it really is a question of don’t do what I do – do as I say. This hypocrisy at the heart of the problem represents the elephant in the room. We know that countries which attempt to open their markets when they are not ready to do so usually pay a heavy price (in the 1990s with Russia and the free-market shock-therapy for example). The countries which protect their growing industries until they are ready to trade on world markets have been the successes – even in capitalist terms. The wave of development in the 19th century and the development of East Asian economies during the 20th century bears witness to this.

But the object of the free-trade rhetoric and finger wagging posture of the developed world is precisely to maintain the status quo. We should be aware that: ‘’… multinational corporations are not in the development business; their objective is to maximise their return on capital. MNCs seek out the best profit opportunities and are largely unconcerned with issues such as poverty, inequality, employment conditions, and environmental problems.’’ (6)

Given the regulatory capture of the political structures in the developed world by powerful business interests, it seems that this situation is likely to endure for the foreseeable future. Development will only come about when the LDCs take their fate into their own hands and emulate the nation-building strategies of East Asia and in the 19th century by Germany and the United States. These leaders and leading nations were not to sit back and let the British rule the roost. They acted and they overcame.

Germany: Georg Friedrich List (1789-1846).  He was a forefather of the German historical school of economics and ‘National System of Political Economy’. He argued for the German Customs Union from a Nationalist standpoint. He advocated imposing tariffs on imported goods while supporting free trade of domestic goods and stated the cost of a tariff should be seen as an investment in a nation’s future productivity.

The USA – Alexander Hamilton In the aftermath of ratification, Hamilton continued to expand on his interpretations of the Constitution to defend his proposed economic policies as Secretary of the Treasury. Credited today with creating the foundation for the U.S. financial system, Hamilton wrote three reports addressing public credit, banking, and raising revenue. In addition to the National Bank, Alexander Hamilton founded the U.S. Mint, created a system to levy taxes on luxury products (such as whiskey), and outlined an aggressive plan for the development of internal manufacturing.

The USA – President – Ulysses S Grant

“For centuries England has relied on protection, has carried it to extremes and has obtained satisfactory results from it. There is no doubt that it is to this system that it owes its present strength. After two centuries, England has found it convenient to adopt free trade because it thinks that protection can no longer offer it anything. Very well then, gentlemen, my knowledge of our country leads me to believe that within 200 years, when America has gotten out of protection all that it can offer, it too will adopt free trade.” (7)

Markets have a strong tendency to reinforce the status quo. The free market dictates that countries stick to what they are good at. Stated bluntly, this means that poor countries are supposed to continue with their current engagement in low productivity activities. But engagement in those activities is exactly what makes them poor. If they want to leave poverty behind, they have to defy the market and do the more difficult things that bring them higher incomes – it is as simple as that, and there are no two ways about it.


NOTES

(1Clause 4 was part of the British Labour Party’s early Constitution. But is no longer in any real sense part of the constitution of the contemporary UK Labour Party, setting out the aims and values of the party (New Labour) as it is now called. The original clause, adopted in 1918, called for common ownership of heavy industry, and proved controversial in later years; the then leader, Hugh Gaitskell, attempted to remove the clause after Labour’s loss in the 1959 general election.

In 1995, under the leadership of Tony Blair, a new (revisionist) Clause IV was adopted. This was seen as a significant moment in Blair’s redefinition of the party as New Labour, but has survived and become a centrist party along with sister parties in Europe and the Democratic party in the US beyond the New Labour branding.

(2) Kicking Away the Ladder – Ha-Joon Chang

(3) The Trillion Dollar Meltdown – Charles Morris

(4) How Rich Countries Got Rich and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor – Erik Reinert.

(5) Development Economics – Todaro and Smith

(6) Ibid – Todaro and Smith

(7) Collected Works

COLLECTIVE HYSTERIA: WESTERN LEADERS WORK TO ALTER THE DEFINITION OF REALITY

09.02.2021

Alastair Crooke

U.S. leaders seek to suggest that America still has the power to alter ‘reality’ to fit to its own exceptionalist myth.

U.S. leaders seek to suggest that America still has the power to alter ‘reality’ to fit to its own exceptionalist myth.

President Putin in 2007 (at Munich) challenged the West: ‘We didn’t. You did; You continuously attack Russia; but we shall not bend’. The audience sniggered. Now, speaking at (a virtual) Davos this last month, after an absence of twelve years from that forum, President Putin held up a mirror to the key ‘influencers’ of the West: ‘See what you have become in the interim; Look at yourself, and be worried’.

This was not so much a be-gloved slap, prefacing duel-by-weapons-of-choice, but an earnest caution. At its’ bottom is a warning that the socio-economic dynamics set into motion by the western zero-interest, debt-led model have not just thrown swaths of society under the economic bus, but rather, that the internal socio-economic catastrophe is being widely vented at external ‘others’. That is, projected psychically abroad, in a lust to fight imaginary demons.

Italy in the 1400s had experienced psychological stresses somewhat similar to todays’ – the upending old ‘myths’, old cultural ties and sources of social cohesion, triggered by the gathering storm of Reformation and Scientific Enlightenment. The new leaders insisted to put old values and the ethos of ‘continuity’ to the auto da fé bonfires of sceptical rationalism’s shiny, new culture. There was then, no China to blame, but the witch and Satan hysteria of that era – a mass collective hysteria – led to some ten thousand Europeans being ‘cancelled’: they were burned alive for clinging to ancient ways (judged to be denials of ‘Truth’). Ultimately the Inquisition was instantiated to condemn and punish heresy.

Last week, President Putin noted at Davos:

“This [crisis in the economic models], in turn, is causing today a sharp polarisation of public views, provoking the growth of populism, right- and left-wing radicalism and other extremes … All this is inevitably affecting the nature of international relations, and is not making them more stable or predictable. International institutions are becoming weaker, regional conflicts are emerging one after another, and the system of global security is deteriorating … the differences are leading to a downward spiral”.

“The situation could take an unexpected and uncontrollable turn – unless we do something to prevent this. There is a chance that we will face a formidable break-down in global development, which will be fought as a war of all, against all … And attempts to deal with contradictions through the appointment of internal and external enemies [to scapegoat] the negative demographic consequences of the ongoing social crisis and the crisis of values, could result in humanity losing entire civilisational and cultural continents”.

The existing model, Putin explained, seems to have inverted ‘means and ends’ – Means (as in the Great Re-set’s emphasis on technological – even trans human – instrumentation of the economy) seem to have taken primacy over humans as its Ends.

Yes, globalisation may have lifted billions out of poverty, yet as Putin points out, “it has led to significant imbalances in global socioeconomic development, and these are a direct result of the policy pursued in the 1980s, which was often vulgar or dogmatic”. It has made “economic stimulation with traditional methods, through an increase in private loans virtually impossible. The so-called quantitative easing is only increasing the bubble of the value of financial assets and deepening the social divide. The widening gap between the real and virtual economies … presents a very real threat and is fraught with serious and unpredictable shocks …”.

“Hopes that it will be possible to reboot the old growth model are connected with rapid technological development. Indeed, during the past 20 years we have created a foundation for the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution based on the wide use of AI and automation and robotics. However, this process is leading to new structural changes, I am thinking in particular of the labour market. This means that very many people could lose their jobs unless the state takes effective measures to prevent this. Most of these people are from the so-called middle class, which is the basis of any modern society.”

Putin points out that these flaws, inherent within the western growth model, and the ‘turn’ to Big Tech as salvation, were not specifically caused by the pandemic. The latter nonetheless, has pulled the mask from the face of the economic model, and also exacerbated its noxious symptoms:

The coronavirus pandemic … which became a serious challenge for humankind, only spurred and accelerated the structural changes, the conditions for which had been created long ago. Needless to say, there are no direct parallels in history. However, some experts – and I respect their opinion – compare the current situation to the 1930s [the Great Depression]”.

Putin hints, but does not say explicitly, that that the pandemic, by aggravating the socio-economic stress, precisely has contributed to the general hysteria (and polarisation) – and the hunt for external enemies (i.e. such as the ‘CCP virus’).

Putin notes a further contributing factor:

“Modern technological giants, especially digital companies, have started playing an increasing role in the life of society. Much is being said about this now, especially regarding the events that took place during the election campaign in the U.S. They are not just some economic giants. In some areas, they are de facto competing with states. Their audiences consist of billions of users that pass a considerable part of their lives in these eco systems. In the opinion of these companies, their monopoly is optimal for organising technological and business processes. Maybe so – but society is wondering whether such monopolism meets public interests”.

Putin here alludes to something more troubling – the failure of the system-model to deliver on the promise of prosperity and opportunity ‘for all’, and specifically for the less advantaged in society. Can this flaw not be said to be directly related to the rise of Tech soft totalitarianism? Since the systemic nature of the failure cannot be admitted, is it then so surprising there has been a resort to big Tech enforcement of its more favourable version of reality (i.e. one that insists that the systemic failures all derive, rather, from historic racism and injustices, and they will not countenance any dissent from this narrative)?

The core idea here – the response to civic, socio-economic anger – is that a combination of unparalleled monetary injection, radical positive discrimination prioritising non-white identities, plus access to élite oligarchic Tech expertise, will solve most of society’s problems. This is pure ideology. But, unable to deal directly with the evidence of systematic failings and economic ‘rigging’ (that being far too sensitive an issue), western leaders work instead to alter the definition of reality. When you are attempting to extend a make-believe economy by printing more and more debt, in spite of its failed history, it is no wonder you have to silence dissent.

Those then, that do not embrace the propaganda that big Tech and the corporate media relentlessly push, need to be de-platformed, and pushed to the fringes of society. In a striking echo of that earlier Italian era of psychic tensions, the New York Times is now asking for the Biden administration to appoint a “Reality Czar” who will be given authority to deal with “misinformation” and “extremism” (shades of the Inquisition)?

Putin’s speech was a withering de-construction (polite, and very measured) of where we stand – and why. Did his audience hear? And will President Putin’s call for a return to the ‘classic’ economic model; to the real economy; to job creation; comfortable living standards, and education with opportunity for the young, have any impact?

Probably not, unfortunately. One only has to note the European ‘hysteria’ for the quick return to absolute ‘normal’ – to everything being ‘just as it was before’ – and above all, to ‘our summer holidays’. Again Putin alludes, but does not say it: The pandemic has exposed the brittleness, the friability, of European society. It finds hardship impossible to endure (even by those well insulated from the true hardships, which have been real, but only for some: “Worse than WW2, this pandemic”, one veteran said to me this morning!). The space for true (and urgent) structural reforms is disappearingly small.

The future course for the western economies is obvious – one only has to observe the return of (former Fed head) Janet Yellen to the U.S. Treasury; of (former IMF head) Christine Lagarde to the ECB and (former ECB head) Mario Draghi as PM in Italy, to understand that a full blown ‘reflation trade’ is underway.

And as for Putin’s caution about “attempts to deal with contradictions through the appointment of internal and external enemies [to scapegoat] the negative demographic consequences of the ongoing social crisis”, this looks no more promising than the financial scene.

Recently, an anonymous former U.S. government official wrote a paper of policy recommendations on China. The Atlantic Council and Politico both published versions of the piece, and they agreed to keep the author’s identity under wraps for reasons known only to them. The Atlantic Council claims that anonymity was necessary because of “the extraordinary significance of the author’s insights and recommendations”. It is not clear however, why they find these insights and recommendations to be so extraordinary – the paper simply is yet another blueprint for regime change (in this case, a coup against the CCP).

Quite possibly, the door to a peaceful resolution of U.S. tensions with China already is closed. China’s intention always has been peacefully, through economic integration, to re-absorb Taiwan into China. It is committed to that. But it seems from Biden Administration statements that it is equally committed to exacerbating the Taiwan autonomy issue sufficiently so that Beijing has no other option, but to annex Taiwan by force (a last resort for Beijing). In the pages of mainstream U.S. media, experts ostensibly regret this, yet nonetheless conclude that America will again ‘be obliged’ to intervene, in order to stop ‘an aggressor state’ from occupying a democratic, American ally.

Again in the context of the U.S. internal tensions, this is more about the fragility of the U.S. psyche at a moment of potential Thucydides’ angst, than of China posing any real threat to America. China will overtake the U.S. economically, at some point. U.S. leaders seek to suggest that America still has the power to alter ‘reality’ to fit to its own exceptionalist myth.

President Putin of course, knows all this, but at least no one can now complain, ‘We were not warned’.

Does the US Still Have an Economy?

February 10, 2021

Image result for paul craig roberts

Paul Craig Roberts

People want to know where the economy is headed.  What they should be asking is does the US still have an economy?  My answer is no, it doesn’t.  I will explain why.

For a quarter century I have pointed out the destructive effect of moving American investment and jobs to China and other points abroad.  Offshoring served the interests of corporate executives and shareholders. The lower labor costs raised profits and, thereby, executive bonuses and the prices of the stocks, resulting in capital gains for shareholders.  

These benefits accrued to a small percentage of the population.  For everyone else these closely held benefits imposed huge external costs many times greater than the rise in profits.  The American manufacturing workforce was devastated, as was the tax base of cities, states, and the federal government. The middle class shrunk and the populations of St Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, South Bend and Gary Indiana, Flint Michigan and other cities declined as much as 20%. The hopes and aspirations of millions of Americans were crushed. Once thriving American cities became blighted. Supply chains and real estate values collapsed. (See Paul Craig Roberts, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Clarity Press, 2013. https://www.claritypress.com/book-author/paul-craig-roberts/ )

As incomes fell for the bulk of the American population, incomes rose for the One Percent. Income and wealth gains have been concentrated at the top resulting in the United States today having one of the most unequal distributions of income and wealth in the world.

As the offshoring of high productivity, high value-added manufacturing jobs reduced American incomes, US aggregate domestic demand was impacted and economic growth fell.  The Federal Reserve expanded credit and substituted an increase in consumer debt for the missing growth in consumer income.  This aggravated the indebtedness that economist Michael Hudson correctly emphasizes is exhausting consumer income to pay debt service—mortgages, car payments, credit card and student loan debts—which leaves little or no discretionary income to drive economic growth. 

Hudson, who has been on the job of analyzing America’s eroding economy for a long time, emphasizes that the US economy is no longer a productive or industrial economy but a financialized economy in which bank lending is not used for new plant and equipment but for the financing of takeovers of existing assets in pursuit of interest, fees, and capital gains– what the classical economists called unearned income or “economic rent.”  In short, Hudson demonstrates that the American economy is no longer a productive economy.  It is a rent-seeking economy.

Hudson points out that as the economy is increasingly financialized, looting shifts to the privatization of public assets.  The examples are endless. In the UK the post office was privatized at a fraction of its value, along with public housing, transportation and British Telephone, resulting in huge private gains. The French also privatized public holdings. In Greece the municipal ports and water companies were privatized along with Greek protected islands. In the US, segments of the armed forces are privatized, along with prisons. Chicago sold 75 years of its parking meter fees to a private entity for one lump sum payment. Everywhere public assets, including services, are being sold to private interests.  In Florida, for example, the issuance of the annual vehicle license tag is privately provided. When there is nothing left to privatize, what will banks finance?

Hudson notes that the real economists, the classical ones, focused on taxing unearned economic rent, not labor income and productive activity.  Today’s neoliberal economists are unable to differentiate between economic rent and productive activity. Consequently, GDP analysis fails to reveal the economy’s transformation from a productive to a rentier economy. Hudson terms neoliberal economists “junk economists,” and I concur.  Essentially, they are shills for the financial sector and for the offshoring corporations who paid them to conflate job and investment offshoring with free trade.

I am convinced that if the entirety of neoliberal economics were erased nothing of value would be lost.  Economists, particularly academic economists, are in the way of truth. They live in a make-believe world that they created with assumptions and models that do not bear on reality.

I am familiar with universities and academic economics. I graduated from an engineering and scientific institution—Georgia Tech—and then was a graduate student in economics at the University of Virginia, University of California, Berkeley, and Oxford University. I had four Nobel prize-winners as professors. I have a Ph.D. in Economics. I have made contributions to major journals of economics and to others outside the field, 30 published articles altogether before I left academia. I served for years as a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy with the power to decide publication of submitted research.  I have peer-reviewed books from Harvard University Press and Oxford University Press. I have debated Nobel prize winners before professional audiences. I served as a Wall Street Journal editor and as Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, and have had many university appointments.  Michael Hudson also has real world experience in major financial institutions, international organizations, and governments, as well as US and overseas professorships  and  contributions to academic publications in many languages.

In other words, we know what we are talking about. We have no interest to serve except truth. No one pays us to serve an agenda. 

But we are only two voices.

Two decades ago I was presented with the prospect of a large increase in amplification of my voice about the deleterious effects of offshoring.  In December 2003 I received a telephone call from US Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat, New York. Senator Schumer had been reading my columns in which I made the case that under the guise of free trade, jobs and investment were being moved offshore at the expense of US economic success. Senator Schumer shared my concern and asked if a Reagan Treasury official would agree to coauthor with a Democrat Senator an article for the New York Times raising the issue whether job offshoring was in America’s interest. 

Our article appeared on January 6, 2004.  Here it is:

Second Thoughts on Free Trade

By CHARLES SCHUMER and PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

New York Times, January 6, 2004

“I was brought up, like most Englishmen, to respect free trade not only as an economic doctrine which a rational and instructed person could not doubt but almost as a part of the moral law,” wrote John Maynard Keynes in 1933. And indeed, to this day, nothing gets an economist’s blood boiling more quickly than a challenge to the doctrine of free trade.

Yet in that essay of 70 years ago, Keynes himself was beginning to question some of the assumptions supporting free trade. The question today is whether the case for free trade made two centuries ago is undermined by the changes now evident in the modern global economy.

Two recent examples illustrate this concern. Over the next three years, a major New York securities firm plans to replace its team of 800 American software engineers, who each earns about $150,000 per year, with an equally competent team in India earning an average of only $20,000. Second, within five years the number of radiologists in this country is expected to decline significantly because M.R.I. data can be sent over the Internet to Asian radiologists capable of diagnosing the problem at a small fraction of the cost.

These anecdotes suggest a seismic shift in the world economy brought on by three major developments. First, new political stability is allowing capital and technology to flow far more freely around the world. Second, strong educational systems are producing tens of millions of intelligent, motivated workers in the developing world, particularly in India and China, who are as capable as the most highly educated workers in the developed world but available to work at a tiny fraction of the cost. Last, inexpensive, high-bandwidth communications make it feasible for large work forces to be located and effectively managed anywhere.

“We are concerned that the United States may be entering a new economic era in which American workers will face direct global competition at almost every job level — from the machinist to the software engineer to the Wall Street analyst. Any worker whose job does not require daily face-to-face interaction is now in jeopardy of being replaced by a lower-paid, equally skilled worker thousands of miles away. American jobs are being lost not to competition from foreign companies, but to multinational corporations, often with American roots, that are cutting costs by shifting operations to low-wage countries.

Most economists want to view these changes through the classic prism of “free trade,” and they label any challenge as protectionism. But these new developments call into question some of the key assumptions supporting the doctrine of free trade.

The case for free trade is based on the British economist David Ricardo’s principle of “comparative advantage” — the idea that each nation should specialize in what it does best and trade with others for other needs. If each country focused on its comparative advantage, productivity would be highest and every nation would share part of a bigger global economic pie.

However, when Ricardo said that free trade would produce shared gains for all nations, he assumed that the resources used to produce goods — what he called the “factors of production” — would not be easily moved over international borders. Comparative advantage is undermined if the factors of production can relocate to wherever they are most productive: in today’s case, to a relatively few countries with abundant cheap labor. In this situation, there are no longer shared gains — some countries win and others lose.

When Ricardo proposed his theory in the early 1800’s, major factors of production — soil, climate, geography and even most workers — could not be moved to other countries. But today’s vital factors of production — capital, technology and ideas — can be moved around the world at the push of a button. They are as easy to export as cars.

This is a very different world than Ricardo envisioned. When American companies replace domestic employees with lower-cost foreign workers in order to sell more cheaply in home markets, it seems hard to argue that this is the way free trade is supposed to work.

“To call this a “jobless recovery” is inaccurate: lots of new jobs are being created, just not here in the United States.

In the past, we have supported free trade policies. But if the case for free trade is undermined by changes in the global economy, our policies should reflect the new realities. While some economists and elected officials suggest that all we need is a robust retraining effort for laid-off workers, we do not believe retraining alone is an answer, because almost the entire range of “knowledge jobs” can be done overseas. Likewise, we do not believe that offering tax incentives to companies that keep American jobs at home can compensate for the enormous wage differentials driving jobs offshore.

America’s trade agreements need to to reflect the new reality. The first step is to begin an honest debate about where our economy really is and where we are headed as a nation. Old-fashioned protectionist measures are not the answer, but the new era will demand new thinking and new solutions. And one thing is certain: real and effective solutions will emerge only when economists and policymakers end the confusion between the free flow of goods and the free flow of factors of production.

Charles Schumer is the senior senator from New York. Paul Craig Roberts was assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy in the Reagan administration.”

Senator Schumer’s staff seemed to think that free trade was the problem because real world conditions had changed.  My position was that jobs offshoring was not free trade.  But I realized that any opening of the question was promising.

Our article in the New York Times had an extraordinary impact. The Brookings Institution, at that time an important liberal economic policy think tank that was home to former economic policy makers, called a Washington conference to hear us and examine our position. There was a panel with myself, Schumer, a former policymaker and the head of the US manufacturing lobby who could not figure out which side to be on.  C-Span gave the conference  live coverage and rebroadcast it a number of times.

Here is the video of the conference called in Washington to submit the argument by Schumer and myself to scrutiny: https://www.c-span.org/video/?179821-1/us-trade-policy-global-economy 

Schumer and I carried the day. Members of the audience came up afterwards, including World Bank economist Herman Daly, in support of my position that the destruction of the American manufacturing economy could not be reasoned away as a free trade result.

Senator Schumer had a sincere interest in what job offshoring was doing to his constituents.  He proposed that we continue our collaboration and write a second article for the New York Times. In those days the Times was still, partly, a newspaper rather than a total propaganda voice for the Establishment, and the Times assumed nevertheless that a Democrat Senator from New York and an Treasury Official who had been confirmed in office by the US Senate  were part of the establishment. 

The second column began and then suddenly went dead.  No response.  A telephone call revealed that the staffer with whom I was working was no longer there.  After discussing this with old Washington hands, I concluded that Schumer had not realized that he was threatening Wall Street’s interest in higher profits by opening the question of jobs offshoring and had received a good talking to.  

Wall Street Killed the Schumer/Roberts truth squad and protected the profits from job and investment offshoring.

This is what happens to elected officials when they attempt to represent the general interest rather than the special interests that finance political campaigns. The public interest is blocked off by a brick wall posted with a sign that says get compliant with the Establishment or get out of politics. Unless money is taken completely out of electoral politics, there will be no democracy.

Globalism serves to destroy sovereign and accountable government. In the US globalism destroyed the manufacturing middle class. Now Covid lockdowns are destroying the remainder of the middle class—family businesses.  Businesses have fixed costs.  When they cannot operate red ink mounts and the businesses fail.  The lockdowns together with jobs offshoring monopolize the economy in few hands.  This is not a theory.  It is what we are experiencing.  Feudalism is being resurrected.  A few lords and many serfs. The serfs will be dependent on the lords and will have no independence.

Russian President Putin Delivers Speech at Virtual World Economic Forum

January 27, 2021

This is the live stream video.  The transcript is now being posted as it becomes available.

Update: Transcript complete.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Schwab, dear Klaus,

Colleagues,

I have been to Davos many times, attending the events organised by Mr Schwab, even back in the 1990s. Klaus [Schwab] just recalled that we met in 1992. Indeed, during my time in St Petersburg, I visited this important forum many times. I would like to thank you for this opportunity today to convey my point of view to the expert community that gathers at this world-renowned platform thanks to the efforts of Mr Schwab.

First of all, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to greet all the World Economic Forum participants.

It is gratifying that this year, despite the pandemic, despite all the restrictions, the forum is still continuing its work. Although it is limited to online participation, the forum is taking place anyway, providing an opportunity for participants to exchange their assessments and forecasts during an open and free discussion, partially compensating for the increasing lack of in-person meetings between leaders of states, representatives of international business and the public in recent months. All this is very important now, when we have so many difficult questions to answer.

The current forum is the first one in the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century and, naturally, the majority of its topics are devoted to the profound changes that are taking place in the world.

Indeed, it is difficult to overlook the fundamental changes in the global economy, politics, social life and technology. The coronavirus pandemic, which Klaus just mentioned, which became a serious challenge for humankind, only spurred and accelerated the structural changes, the conditions for which had been created long ago. The pandemic has exacerbated the problems and imbalances that built up in the world before. There is every reason to believe that differences are likely to grow stronger. These trends may appear practically in all areas.

Needless to say, there are no direct parallels in history. However, some experts – and I respect their opinion – compare the current situation to the 1930s. One can agree or disagree, but certain analogies are still suggested by many parameters, including the comprehensive, systemic nature of the challenges and potential threats.

We are seeing a crisis of the previous models and instruments of economic development. Social stratification is growing stronger both globally and in individual countries. We have spoken about this before as well. But this, in turn, is causing today a sharp polarisation of public views, provoking the growth of populism, right- and left-wing radicalism and other extremes, and the exacerbation of domestic political processes including in the leading countries.

All this is inevitably affecting the nature of international relations and is not making them more stable or predictable. International institutions are becoming weaker, regional conflicts are emerging one after another, and the system of global security is deteriorating.

Klaus has mentioned the conversation I had yesterday with the US President on extending the New START. This is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, the differences are leading to a downward spiral. As you are aware, the inability and unwillingness to find substantive solutions to problems like this in the 20th century led to the WWII catastrophe.

Of course, such a heated global conflict is impossible in principle, I hope. This is what I am pinning my hopes on, because this would be the end of humanity. However, as I have said, the situation could take an unexpected and uncontrollable turn – unless we do something to prevent this. There is a chance that we will face a formidable break-down in global development, which will be fraught with a war of all against all and attempts to deal with contradictions through the appointment of internal and external enemies and the destruction of not only traditional values such as the family, which we hold dear in Russia, but fundamental freedoms such as the right of choice and privacy.

I would like to point out the negative demographic consequences of the ongoing social crisis and the crisis of values, which could result in humanity losing entire civilisational and cultural continents.

We have a shared responsibility to prevent this scenario, which looks like a grim dystopia, and to ensure instead that our development takes a different trajectory – positive, harmonious and creative.

In this context, I would like to speak in more detail about the main challenges which, I believe, the international community is facing.

The first one is socioeconomic.

Indeed, judging by the statistics, even despite the deep crises in 2008 and 2020, the last 40 years can be referred to as successful or even super successful for the global economy. Starting from 1980, global per capita GDP has doubled in terms of real purchasing power parity. This is definitely a positive indicator.

Globalisation and domestic growth have led to strong growth in developing countries and lifted over a billion people out of poverty. So, if we take an income level of $5.50 per person per day (in terms of PPP) then, according to the World Bank, in China, for example, the number of people with lower incomes went from 1.1 billion in 1990 down to less than 300 million in recent years. This is definitely China’s success. In Russia, this number went from 64 million people in 1999 to about 5 million now. We believe this is also progress in our country, and in the most important area, by the way.

Still, the main question, the answer to which can, in many respects, provide a clue to today’s problems, is what was the nature of this global growth and who benefitted from it most.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, developing countries benefitted a lot from the growing demand for their traditional and even new products. However, this integration into the global economy has resulted in more than just new jobs or greater export earnings. It also had its social costs, including a significant gap in individual incomes.

What about the developed economies where average incomes are much higher? It may sound ironic, but stratification in the developed countries is even deeper. According to the World Bank, 3.6 million people subsisted on incomes of under $5.50 per day in the United States in 2000, but in 2016 this number grew to 5.6 million people.

Meanwhile, globalisation led to a significant increase in the revenue of large multinational, primarily US and European, companies.

By the way, in terms of individual income, the developed economies in Europe show the same trend as the United States.

But then again, in terms of corporate profits, who got hold of the revenue? The answer is clear: one percent of the population.

And what has happened in the lives of other people? In the past 30 years, in a number of developed countries, the real incomes of over half of the citizens have been stagnating, not growing. Meanwhile, the cost of education and healthcare services has gone up. Do you know by how much? Three times.

In other words, millions of people even in wealthy countries have stopped hoping for an increase of their incomes. In the meantime, they are faced with the problem of how to keep themselves and their parents healthy and how to provide their children with a decent education.

There is no call for a huge mass of people and their number keeps growing. Thus, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in 2019, 21 percent or 267 million young people in the world did not study or work anywhere. Even among those who had jobs (these are interesting figures) 30 percent had an income below $3.2 per day in terms of purchasing power parity.

These imbalances in global socioeconomic development are a direct result of the policy pursued in the 1980s, which was often vulgar or dogmatic. This policy rested on the so-called Washington Consensus with its unwritten rules, when the priority was given to the economic growth based on a private debt in conditions of deregulation and low taxes on the wealthy and the corporations.

As I have already mentioned, the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated these problems. In the last year, the global economy sustained its biggest decline since WWII. By July, the labour market had lost almost 500 million jobs. Yes, half of them were restored by the end of the year but still almost 250 million jobs were lost. This is a big and very alarming figure. In the first nine months of the past year alone, the losses of earnings amounted to $3.5 trillion. This figure is going up and, hence, social tension is on the rise.

At the same time, post-crisis recovery is not simple at all. If some 20 or 30 years ago, we would have solved the problem through stimulating macroeconomic policies (incidentally, this is still being done), today such mechanisms have reached their limits and are no longer effective. This resource has outlived its usefulness. This is not an unsubstantiated personal conclusion.

According to the IMF, the aggregate sovereign and private debt level has approached 200 percent of global GDP, and has even exceeded 300 percent of national GDP in some countries. At the same time, interest rates in developed market economies are kept at almost zero and are at a historic low in emerging market economies.

Taken together, this makes economic stimulation with traditional methods, through an increase in private loans virtually impossible. The so-called quantitative easing is only increasing the bubble of the value of financial assets and deepening the social divide. The widening gap between the real and virtual economies (incidentally, representatives of the real economy sector from many countries have told me about this on numerous occasions, and I believe that the business representatives attending this meeting will agree with me) presents a very real threat and is fraught with serious and unpredictable shocks.

Hopes that it will be possible to reboot the old growth model are connected with rapid technological development. Indeed, during the past 20 years we have created a foundation for the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution based on the wide use of AI and automation and robotics. The coronavirus pandemic has greatly accelerated such projects and their implementation.

However, this process is leading to new structural changes, I am thinking in particular of the labour market. This means that very many people could lose their jobs unless the state takes effective measures to prevent this. Most of these people are from the so-called middle class, which is the basis of any modern society.

In this context, I would like to mention the second fundamental challenge of the forthcoming decade – the socio-political one. The rise of economic problems and inequality is splitting society, triggering social, racial and ethnic intolerance. Indicatively, these tensions are bursting out even in the countries with seemingly civil and democratic institutions that are designed to alleviate and stop such phenomena and excesses.

The systemic socioeconomic problems are evoking such social discontent that they require special attention and real solutions. The dangerous illusion that they may be ignored or pushed into the corner is fraught with serious consequences.

In this case, society will still be divided politically and socially. This is bound to happen because people are dissatisfied not by some abstract issues but by real problems that concern everyone regardless of the political views that people have or think they have. Meanwhile, real problems evoke discontent.

I would like to emphasise one more important point. Modern technological giants, especially digital companies, have started playing an increasing role in the life of society. Much is being said about this now, especially regarding the events that took place during the election campaign in the US. They are not just some economic giants. In some areas, they are de facto competing with states. Their audiences consist of billions of users that pass a considerable part of their lives in these eco systems.

In the opinion of these companies, their monopoly is optimal for organising technological and business processes. Maybe so but society is wondering whether such monopolism meets public interests. Where is the border between successful global business, in-demand services and big data consolidation and the attempts to manage society at one’s own discretion and in a tough manner, replace legal democratic institutions and essentially usurp or restrict the natural right of people to decide for themselves how to live, what to choose and what position to express freely? We have just seen all of these phenomena in the US and everyone understands what I am talking about now. I am confident that the overwhelming majority of people share this position, including the participants in the current event.

And finally, the third challenge, or rather, a clear threat that we may well run into in the coming decade is the further exacerbation of many international problems. After all, unresolved and mounting internal socioeconomic problems may push people to look for someone to blame for all their troubles and to redirect their irritation and discontent. We can already see this. We feel that the degree of foreign policy propaganda rhetoric is growing.

We can expect the nature of practical actions to also become more aggressive, including pressure on the countries that do not agree with a role of obedient controlled satellites, use of trade barriers, illegitimate sanctions and restrictions in the financial, technological and cyber spheres.

Such a game with no rules critically increases the risk of unilateral use of military force. The use of force under a far-fetched pretext is what this danger is all about. This multiplies the likelihood of new hot spots flaring up on our planet. This concerns us.

Colleagues, despite this tangle of differences and challenges, we certainly should keep a positive outlook on the future and remain committed to a constructive agenda. It would be naive to come up with universal miraculous recipes for resolving the above problems. But we certainly need to try to work out common approaches, bring our positions as close as possible and identify sources that generate global tensions.

Once again, I want to emphasise my thesis that accumulated socioeconomic problems are the fundamental reason for unstable global growth.

So, the key question today is how to build a programme of actions in order to not only quickly restore the global and national economies affected by the pandemic, but to ensure that this recovery is sustainable in the long run, relies on a high-quality structure and helps overcome the burden of social imbalances. Clearly, with the above restrictions and macroeconomic policy in mind, economic growth will largely rely on fiscal incentives with state budgets and central banks playing the key role.

Actually, we can see these kinds of trends in the developed countries and also in some developing economies as well. An increasing role of the state in the socioeconomic sphere at the national level obviously implies greater responsibility and close interstate interaction when it comes to issues on the global agenda.

Calls for inclusive growth and for creating decent standards of living for everyone are regularly made at various international forums. This is how it should be, and this is an absolutely correct view of our joint efforts.

It is clear that the world cannot continue creating an economy that will only benefit a million people, or even the golden billion. This is a destructive precept. This model is unbalanced by default. The recent developments, including migration crises, have reaffirmed this once again.

We must now proceed from stating facts to action, investing our efforts and resources into reducing social inequality in individual countries and into gradually balancing the economic development standards of different countries and regions in the world. This would put an end to migration crises.

The essence and focus of this policy aimed at ensuring sustainable and harmonious development are clear. They imply the creation of new opportunities for everyone, conditions under which everyone will be able to develop and realise their potential regardless of where they were born and are living

I would like to point out four key priorities, as I see them. This might be old news, but since Klaus has allowed me to present Russia’s position, my position, I will certainly do so.

First, everyone must have comfortable living conditions, including housing and affordable transport, energy and public utility infrastructure. Plus environmental welfare, something that must not be overlooked.

Second, everyone must be sure that they will have a job that can ensure sustainable growth of income and, hence, decent standards of living. Everyone must have access to an effective system of lifelong education, which is absolutely indispensable now and which will allow people to develop, make a career and receive a decent pension and social benefits upon retirement.

Third, people must be confident that they will receive high-quality and effective medical care whenever necessary, and that the national healthcare system will guarantee access to modern medical services.

Fourth, regardless of the family income, children must be able to receive a decent education and realise their potential. Every child has potential.

This is the only way to guarantee the cost-effective development of the modern economy, in which people are perceived as the end, rather than the means. Only those countries capable of attaining progress in at least these four areas will facilitate their own sustainable and all-inclusive development. These areas are not exhaustive, and I have just mentioned the main aspects.

A strategy, also being implemented by my country, hinges on precisely these approaches. Our priorities revolve around people, their families, and they aim to ensure demographic development, to protect the people, to improve their well-being and to protect their health. We are now working to create favourable conditions for worthy and cost-effective work and successful entrepreneurship and to ensure digital transformation as the foundation of a high-tech future for the entire country, rather than that of a narrow group of companies.

We intend to focus the efforts of the state, the business community and civil society on these tasks and to implement a budgetary policy with the relevant incentives in the years ahead.

We are open to the broadest international cooperation, while achieving our national goals, and we are confident that cooperation on matters of the global socioeconomic agenda would have a positive influence on the overall atmosphere in global affairs, and that interdependence in addressing acute current problems would also increase mutual trust which is particularly important and particularly topical today.

Obviously, the era linked with attempts to build a centralised and unipolar world order has ended. To be honest, this era did not even begin. A mere attempt was made in this direction, but this, too, is now history. The essence of this monopoly ran counter to our civilisation’s cultural and historical diversity.

The reality is such that really different development centres with their distinctive models, political systems and public institutions have taken shape in the world. Today, it is very important to create mechanisms for harmonising their interests to prevent the diversity and natural competition of the development poles from triggering anarchy and a series of protracted conflicts.

To achieve this we must, in part, consolidate and develop universal institutions that bear special responsibility for ensuring stability and security in the world and for formulating and defining the rules of conduct both in the global economy and trade.

I have mentioned more than once that many of these institutions are not going through the best of times. We have been bringing this up at various summits. Of course, these institutions were established in a different era. This is clear. Probably, they even find it difficult to parry modern challenges for objective reasons. However, I would like to emphasise that this is not an excuse to give up on them without offering anything in exchange, all the more so since these structures have unique experience of work and a huge but largely untapped potential. And it certainly needs to be carefully adapted to modern realities. It is too early to dump it in the dustbin of history. It is essential to work with it and to use it.

Naturally, in addition to this, it is important to use new, additional formats of cooperation. I am referring to such phenomenon as multiversity. Of course, it is also possible to interpret it differently, in one’s own way. It may be viewed as an attempt to push one’s own interests or feign the legitimacy of one’s own actions when all others can merely nod in approval. Or it may be a concerted effort of sovereign states to resolve specific problems for common benefit. In this case, this may refer to the efforts to settle regional conflicts, establish technological alliances and resolve many other issues, including the formation of cross-border transport and energy corridors and so on and so forth.

Friends,

Ladies and gentlemen,

This opens wide possibilities for collaboration. Multi-faceted approaches do work. We know from practice that they work. As you may be aware, within the framework of, for example, the Astana format, Russia, Iran and Turkey are doing much to stabilise the situation in Syria and are now helping establish a political dialogue in that country, of course, alongside other countries. We are doing this together. And, importantly, not without success.

For example, Russia has undertaken energetic mediation efforts to stop the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, in which peoples and states that are close to us – Azerbaijan and Armenia – are involved. We strived to follow the key agreements reached by the OSCE Minsk Group, in particular between its co-chairs – Russia, the United States and France. This is also a very good example of cooperation.

As you may be aware, a trilateral Statement by Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia was signed in November. Importantly, by and large, it is being steadily implemented. The bloodshed was stopped. This is the most important thing. We managed to stop the bloodshed, achieve a complete ceasefire and start the stabilisation process.

Now the international community and, undoubtedly, the countries involved in crisis resolution are faced with the task of helping the affected areas overcome humanitarian challenges related to returning refugees, rebuilding destroyed infrastructure, protecting and restoring historical, religious and cultural landmarks.

Or, another example. I will note the role of Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United States and a number of other countries in stabilising the global energy market. This format has become a productive example of interaction between the states with different, sometimes even diametrically opposite assessments of global processes, and with their own outlooks on the world.

At the same time there are certainly problems that concern every state without exception. One example is cooperation in studying and countering the coronavirus infection. As you know, several strains of this dangerous virus have emerged. The international community must create conditions for cooperation between scientists and other specialists to understand how and why coronavirus mutations occur, as well as the difference between the various strains.

Of course, we need to coordinate the efforts of the entire world, as the UN Secretary-General suggests and as we urged recently at the G20 summit. It is essential to join and coordinate the efforts of the world in countering the spread of the virus and making the much needed vaccines more accessible. We need to help the countries that need support, including the African nations. I am referring to expanding the scale of testing and vaccinations.

We see that mass vaccination is accessible today, primarily to people in the developed countries. Meanwhile, millions of people in the world are deprived even of the hope for this protection. In practice, such inequality could create a common threat because this is well known and has been said many times that it will drag out the epidemic and uncontrolled hotbeds will continue. The epidemic has no borders.

There are no borders for infections or pandemics. Therefore, we must learn the lessons from the current situation and suggest measures aimed at improving the monitoring of the emergence of such diseases and the development of such cases in the world.

Another important area that requires coordination, in fact, the coordination of the efforts of the entire international community, is to preserve the climate and nature of our planet. I will not say anything new in this respect.

Only together can we achieve progress in resolving such critical problems as global warming, the reduction of forestlands, the loss of biodiversity, the increase in waste, the pollution of the ocean with plastic and so on, and find an optimal balance between economic development and the preservation of the environment for the current and future generations.

My friends,

We all know that competition and rivalry between countries in world history never stopped, do not stop and will never stop. Differences and a clash of interests are also natural for such a complicated body as human civilisation. However, in critical times this did not prevent it from pooling its efforts – on the contrary, it united in the most important destinies of humankind. I believe this is the period we are going through today.

It is very important to honestly assess the situation, to concentrate on real rather than artificial global problems, on removing the imbalances that are critical for the entire international community. I am sure that in this way we will be able to achieve success and befittingly parry the challenges of the third decade of the 21st century.

I would like to finish my speech at this point and thank all of you for your patience and attention.

Thank you very much.

Klaus Schwab: Thank you very much, Mr President.

Many of the issues raised, certainly, are part of our discussions here during the Davos Week. We complement the speeches also by task forces which address some of the issues you mentioned, like not leaving the developing world behind, taking care of, let’s say, creating the skills for tomorrow, and so on. Mr President, we prepare for the discussion afterwards, but I have one very short question. It is a question which we discussed when I visited you in St Petersburg 14 months ago. How do you see the future of European-Russian relations? Just a short answer.

Vladimir Putin: You know there are things of an absolutely fundamental nature such as our common culture. Major European political figures have talked in the recent past about the need to expand relations between Europe and Russia, saying that Russia is part of Europe. Geographically and, most importantly, culturally, we are one civilisation. French leaders have spoken of the need to create a single space from Lisbon to the Urals. I believe, and I mentioned this, why the Urals? To Vladivostok.

I personally heard the outstanding European politician, former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, say that if we want European culture to survive and remain a centre of world civilisation in the future, keeping in mind the challenges and trends underlying the world civilisation, then of course, Western Europe and Russia must be together. It is hard to disagree with that. We hold exactly the same point of view.

Clearly, today’s situation is not normal. We need to return to a positive agenda. This is in the interests of Russia and, I am confident, the European countries. Clearly, the pandemic has also played a negative role. Our trade with the European Union is down, although the EU is one of our key trade and economic partners. Our agenda includes returning to positive trends and building up trade and economic cooperation.

Europe and Russia are absolutely natural partners from the point of view of the economy, research, technology and spatial development for European culture, since Russia, being a country of European culture, is a little larger than the entire EU in terms of territory. Russia’s resources and human potential are enormous. I will not go over everything that is positive in Europe, which can also benefit the Russian Federation.

Only one thing matters: we need to approach the dialogue with each other honestly. We need to discard the phobias of the past, stop using the problems that we inherited from past centuries in internal political processes and look to the future. If we can rise above these problems of the past and get rid of these phobias, then we will certainly enjoy a positive stage in our relations.

We are ready for this, we want this, and we will strive to make this happen. But love is impossible if it is declared only by one side. It must be mutual.

Klaus Schwab: Thank you very much, Mr President.

New U.S. Foreign Policy Problems (1) إشكاليات السياسة الخارجية الأميركية الجديدة

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إشكاليات السياسة الخارجية الأميركية الجديدة

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زياد حافظ

ما زالت الضبابية تسود المشهد السياسي الأميركي بعد الانتخابات الرئاسية الأخيرة المثيرة للجدل وما تلاها من أحداث كاقتحام الكونغرس (او غزوة كما يحلو للبعض!) من قبل أنصار دونالد ترامب والتي كانت ضربة قاسية وربما قاضية لهيبة الولايات المتحدة.  لكان بغض النظر عن ذلك الجدل وما يرافقه من تشكيك بشرعية انتخاب جوزيف بايدن واحتمال نقل السلطة بشكل هادئ وولاية حكم طبيعية فهناك غموض حول توجّهات السياسة الخارجية للإدارة الأميركية الجديدة يعزّزها عدم الاستقرار الداخلي البنيوي الذي ظهر مؤخّرا.  وهذا يجعلنا نقول إن زمام المبادرة لم يعد في يد الولايات المتحدة بل في يد المحور المناهض الذي يضم الكتلة الاوراسية بقيادة روسيا والصين ومحور المقاومة وعدد من دول أميركا اللاتينية.  السؤال لم يعد ماذا ستفعل الولايات المتحدة بل ماذا سيفعل المحور المناهض؟ لكن هذه الحقيقة لم يتم استيعابها بعد حتى الآن عند النخب العربية الحاكمة ومن يدور في فلكها.

مقاربتنا مبنية على واقع برز منذ أكثر من عقدين وهو عدم التوازن بين الرغبات/الأهداف الأميركية في الهيمنة على العالم مهما كلّف الأمر وقدراتها الفعلية لتحقيقها. فالأهداف الأميركية للهيمنة تتطلّب قدرات لم تعد موجودة عند الولايات المتحدة.  بالمقابل أصبح لخصومها قدرات تمكّنها من التصدي لها، فردعها، وربما إخراجها من المناطق التي كانت تسيطر عليها.  لكن بالمقابل هناك حالة إنكار بنيوية في العقل الأميركي فيما يتعلّق بدورها في العالم المبني على وهم استثنائيتها ونظرية قدرها المتجلّي لتقوم بما تقوم به دون مساءلة ومحاسبة.  لسنا هنا في إطار طرح حيثيات ذلك الواقع الذي تم تفصيله في أبحاث عديدة بل نكتفي بالتذكير أن هذا اللاتوازن بين الرغبات والقدرات هو ما نبني عليه في مقاربة التوجّهات الممكنة والمحتملة للإدارة الجديدة إذا ما كتب لها أن تدير الأمور بشكل طبيعي.

الجزء الأول: جوهر الإشكاليات

وإذا افترضنا حدّا أدنى من الواقعية السياسية فإن منهجية الإدارة الجديدة ستكون مبنية على محاولة تحييد العلاقة بين الملفّات الخارجية والداخلية.  فالملفّات الداخلية السياسية والاقتصادية والاجتماعية تدعو إلى انتهاج سياسات اقتصادية تقارب الواقع المترهّل للبنى التحتية والضمان الصحي والبيئي وإعادة تمركز القطاع الصناعي في التكنولوجيات التي لا تستدعي الاتكال على الطاقة البترولية والغازية وذلك على سبيل المثال وليس الحصر والقائمة طويلة ومعقّدة ومليئة بالتناقضات.  فعلى سبيل المثال نرى الرئيس الأميركي المنتخب يدعو إلى أن تتحوّل الولايات المتحدة إلى أكبر دولة في صناعة السيارات الكهربائية.  التداعيات على القطاع النفطي ستكون جذرية فكيف سيتعامل القطاع النفطي الأميركي مع ذك؟  والمكوّن النفطي للدولة العميقة لن يقف مكتوف الأيدي تجاه ذلك التحوّل.  فالقطاع النفطي بنى القطاع الصناعي الذي كان قاعدة القوّة الأميركية.  شطب ذلك القطاع تحوّل جذري لن يمرّ بسهولة.

من جهة أخرى، معظم المكوّنات للدولة العميقة من الناحية الاقتصادية كانت وما زالت تدعو إلى العولمة والهيمنة الاقتصادية المباشرة على العالم وبالتالي استمرار التدخل في شؤون الدول لتحقيق مصالح تلك المكوّنات.  فكيف يمكن فصل الملفّ الاقتصادي الداخلي عن الملفات الساخنة الخارجية؟  وأهم من كل ذلك ماذا ستفعل الإدارة الجديدة إذا كان مشروعها الاقتصادي على تصادم مع مصالح الدولة العميقة التي أوصلت الرئيس بايدن إلى الحكم خاصة أن تحالف تلك القوى لم يمكن مبنيا على رؤية مشتركة بل فقط على ضرورة الإطاحة بدونالد ترامب؟  بالمقابل فإن قوّة الشركات العملاقة التي تحوّلت إلى شركات عابرة للقارات والأمم بنت شبكاتها ومصالحها مستندة إلى القوّة الذاتية الأميركية التي كانت حتى بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية منغلقة على نفسها وتكتفي بالتصدير للعالم.  اليوم هذه الشركات توطنت في الخارج وأصبحت تصدّر إلى الولايات المتحدة.  فإذا فقدت الولايات المتحدة مصادر قوّتها الذاتية عسكريا واقتصاديا وماليا ماذا يمكن أن تفعل الدول المستضيفة للشركات العملاقة الأميركية المتوطنّة في بلادها؟

ما نريد أن نقوله إن هناك ضرورة وجودية للولايات المتحدة للتركيز على ترميم الوضع الداخلي.  لكن ذلك التركيز سيصطدم مع مصالح الدولة العميقة في التمدّد الخارجي فيصبح السؤال كيف يمكن التوازن بين مصلحتين متناقضتين؟  والولايات المتحدة لم تعد لها القدرة على التمدّد والهيمنة فكيف ستعمل مكوّنات الدولة العميقة على سد ذلك العجز؟  قد تأخذ الإجابة على ذلك وقتا طويلا عند النخب الحاكمة والسؤال يصبح هل تمتلك الوقت لذلك؟  فمهما تمّت مقاربة الأمور دخلت الولايات المتحدة مرحلة جديدة في تاريخها قد تفضي إلى إعادة النظر الكلّية بتركيبتها. لكن هذا حديث آخر لا داعي لمقاربته الأن. يكفي أن نخلص إلى نتيجة أن قدرة التأثير في الملفّات الخارجية محدودة وهذا قد يساهم في إعادة التوازنات في العالم على قاعدة أكثر عدلا مما كانت عليه في عهد القطبية الواحدة.

هذه الملاحظات كانت ضرورية لفهم الصعوبات كي لا نقول الاستعصاءات التي ستواجه الإدارة الجديدة.  فكيف ستتعامل مع الملفّات العالقة خارجيا؟   معظم التحليلات والمقاربات تعتمد الكتابات خلال الحملة الانتخابية لرموز الإدارة الجديدة ومنها مقال بايدن في مجلّة “قورين افيرز” في ربيع 2020 ومنها كتابات لكل من وزير الخارجية المسمّى انطوني بلنكن والمستشار الأمن القومي جاك سوليفان.  فماذا يمكن أن نتوقّع من الإدارة الجديدة إذا ما كتب لها أن تمارس مهامها في ظل الانقسامات الداخلية في الولايات المتحدة وحتى داخل الحزب الديمقراطي فيما يتعلّق بالملفّات الخارجية وحتى الداخلية.  قد تطفح التناقضات الداخلية في الحزب الديمقراطي لأن القاعدة الشابة للحزب داخل الكونغرس وخارجه على تناقض كبير مع القيادات التقليدية التي ما زالت في مناخات الحرب الباردة. القاعدة الشابة متماهية أكثر مع حيثيات الداخل الأميركي وحتى الخارج ولا تشاطر هواجس القيادة.  فكيف ستتصرّف هذه القاعدة فيما لو أقدمت القيادة على اتباع سياسات في الملفّات الخارجية والداخلية متناقضة مع تطلّعاتها؟  ولا يجب أن ننسى أن “فوز” بايدن يعود إلى حدّ كبير إلى الإقبال الشبابي على الانتخابات تحت شعار “كلنا ضد ترامب” وبالتالي تجاهل هذه الشريحة الأساسية من قبل القيادة قد تكون مكلفة في الانتخابات النصفية القادمة في 2022 وفي الانتخابات الرئاسية في 2024.  المعركتان بدأتا فعلا منذ الآن!  لكن بغض النظر عن هذه الاعتبارات التي ستظل تلقي بظلالها على مجمل القرارات للإدارة الجديدة كيف ستقارب الإدارة الجديدة الملفات الخارجية؟

بعض الإشارات الواضحة تقودنا للاعتقاد أن الإدارة الجديدة ستكون أكثر ليونة وأكثر دبلوماسية وتتجلّى عبر التوازن في التسميات لمناصب رفيعة في الإدارة الجديدة.  فمن جهة هناك “الصقور” التي يمثلهم في الصف الأوّل كل من انطوني بلينكن للخارجية وجاك سوليفان لمجلس الأمن القومي ومعهما كل من كاثلين هيكس كنائب وزير الدفاع ووندي شرمان كنائب لوزير الخارجية وسوزان رايس كرئيسة لمجلس السياسة الداخلية (البعض يعتبر أنها ستكون رئيسة الظل في الإدارة الجديدة) وفيكتوريا نيولند كوكيلة وزارة الخارجية للشؤون السياسية المنصب الذي شغله جيفري فلتمان سابقا.  نذكّر هنا أن فيكتوريا نيولند زوجة روبرت كاغان المنظر الأساسي للمحافظين الجدد. ونيولند كانت بطلة الانقلاب في أوكرانيا ولها مقولات مأثورة في الاتحاد الأوروبي وصلت إلى حد الشتيمة والتحقير.  أما وندي شرمان، فهي من أنصار مادلين اولبريت التي بررت مقتل 500 ألف طفل عراقي خلال الحصار على العراق.  ولشرمان تصريح شهير أن المخادعة هي في الحمض النووي للإيرانيين.  وكانت تحرص على إبلاغ نتنياهو بكل تفاصيل المفاوضات مع إيران في الملفّ النووي كما أوضحه ضابط الاستخبارات السابق فيليب جيرالدي في مقال له نشر على موقع “انفورميشون كليرينغ هاوس في 12 كانون الثاني/يناير 2021.

 ويعتبر أحد خبراء معهد كاتو تد كاربنتر في مقال نشره على موقع “ناشيونال انترست” الذي يضم دبلوماسيين وعسكريين وضباط استخبارات سابقين وجامعيين أن فريق السياسة الخارجية لإدارة بايدن لا يتمتع بالفكر الإبداعي بل التقليدي حيث لا يتوقع إلاّ الدفع بنفس السياسات المتبعة في إدارة باراك أوباما وحتى ترامب ولكن بأسلوب أكثر لطافة.  فتصريح بلينكن في 25 نوفمبر أن الرئيس المنتخب سيكون رئيس مواجهة مع روسيا كما أنه سيعزّز من قدرات الحلف الأطلسي كمنظومة وكما سيدعم الدول الأوروبية المناهضة لروسيا كأوكرانيا وجورجيا ودول البلطيق وبولندا.  ويضيف كاربنتر أن المشكلة ليست بالتفكير الاعتيادي فيما لو كانت السياسات قبل وصول ترامب جيّدة وصاحبة نتائج بل أنها كانت فاشلة.  والوعد بالعودة إلى تلك السياسات يعني المزيد من الفشل!

 بالمقابل فإن تعيين الجنرال لويد اوستين كوزير للدفاع ووليم برنز الدبلوماسي العريق لإدارة وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية (سي أي أيه) يمثل “لاعتدال” في السياسة الخارجية.  هذا التوازن يعود إلى ضرورة إرضاء مكوّنات التحالف الذي أوصل بايدن إلى الرئاسة من جهة وحرص الإدارة الجديدة على إعادة الاعتبار لصورتها التي تصدّعت عند حلفائها خلال ولاية ترامب.  لكن هذا لا يعني التخلّي عن العقيدة العميقة التي تحكّمت بسلوك الإدارات المتتالية بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية في ضرورة قيادة العالم على قاعدة القراءة التوراتية للإنجيل كما تشير مصطلحات “القدر المتجلّي” و”المدينة على الجبل” و”ارض الميعاد الجديدة” في خطابهم عن الولايات المتحدة.  من هنا نفهم التماهي في الشكل والأسلوب مع نشأة دولة الكيان الصهيوني ونشأة الولايات المتحدة.

هنا لا بد من لفت الانتباه إلى عامل جوهري يساهم في فهم الدافع الأساسي لسلوك سياسات عدوانية في العالم عند مختلف الإدارات الأميركية.  فنظرية “القدر المتجلّي” أتت لتغطي جرائم نشأة الولايات المتحدة في إبادة الشعوب الأولى للقارة من قبل المستعمرين الأوروبيين ومن ثمة استعباد الافارقة لتشغيل مزارع القطن، القاعدة الأولى للقطاع الزراعي في المجتمع الناشئ، وذلك لمصلحة المستعمر الإنكليزي.  الجمهورية التي نشأت كاحتجاج على سياسة التاج البريطاني لم تكن لتستقر لولا التوسع الجغرافي.  وعند الانتهاء من التوسع الجغرافي غربا وعبر المحيط الهادئ إلى جزر هاواي ومن بعدها الفيليبين وبعد فشل المحاولات لإيجاد موطن قدم في شمال إفريقيا عبر حروب شاطئ البرابرة في شمال القارة الإفريقية في بداية القرن التاسع عشر، كان لا بد من التوسع الاقتصادي عبر الهيمنة الاقتصادية، فالاقتصاد وسيلة للهيمنة وليست هدفا قائما بذاته.  السياسة دائما قوّامة على الاقتصاد وإن كان للأخير دور في رسم السياسات.

والتوسع عبر المحيط الهادئ اصطدم بمصالح الإمبراطورية اليابانية فكانت الحرب العالمية الثانية.  والتوسع في أميركا اللاتينية اصطدم بمصالح الاسبان فكانت حروب التحرير من الهيمنة الاسبانية التي دعمتها الولايات المتحدة في مطلع القرن التاسع عشر ومع اسبانيا مباشرة في آخر القرن التاسع عشر وبداية القرن العشرين في كوبا والفيليبين.  فالجمهورية إذن مبنية على قاعدة التوسع ونهاية التوسع بكافة اشاكله يعني نهاية الجمهورية.  من هنا نفهم مغزى “حق التدخلّ لمساعدة المضطهدين” في العالم بينما الهدف الحقيقي هو فرض السيطرة تحت رافعة العولمة وذلك لديمومة الجمهورية.  فالمصالح الاقتصادية لقوى العولمة في الإدارة الديمقراطية الجديدة ستصطدم مع مصالح الذين يريدون الاهتمام بالملفات الداخلية كما سنراه في الملف الصيني والاوروبي والمشرق والوطن العربي.

لذلك نعتقد أن السياسة الخارجية ستحكمها الوقائع الداخلية وأن المبادرة في الملفات الخارجية لم تعد في يد الولايات المتحدة. فالاستراتيجية الأميركية ستصطدم بمواقف المناهضة لها وفتور تأييد الدول الحليفة لها لأن إملاءات الولايات المتحدة لم تعد تصب في مصلحة مشتركة عند مكوّنات السلطة أي الدولة العميقة والتحالفات التي نُسجت للإطاحة بدونالد ترامب.  هذا هو ارث ولاية ترامب وليس هناك من دليل عن تراجع في الأهداف بل فقط في الأسلوب والعودة إلى اتفاقات خرجت منها الولايات المتحدة والتي لن تكلّفها أي شيء إضافي.  ولكن هذا الرجوع إلى الاتفاقية لن يغير في اهتزاز الصورة عند الحلفاء كما عند الخصوم حيث المصداقية فقدت.  فأي ضمان أن إي إدارة مستقبلية ستلتزم بما تتعهد به الإدارة الجديدة في البيت الأبيض.  لن تقبل الدول أن تكون رهينة مزاج متغيّر بين إدارة وإدارة وبالتالي المصالح للدول الحليفة ستعود لتتحكّم بأولويات سياساتها الخارجية.

هذه حدود الإدارة والتي لا نتوقع أي تعديل عن السياسات السابقة سواء فقط في الأسلوب واللهجة.  فهي غير قادرة على التغيير وغير قادرة على الاستمرار.  هذا هو مأزقها وليس مسؤولة دول العالم حل المأزق الأميركي.  التحوّلات في الميدان ستفرز الوقائع التي ستحكم السياسة الأميركية التي تصبح يوما بعض يوم غير ذي جدوى.  فلا قدرة لها على شن حروب جديدة وإن كانت رغبتها في ذلك مؤكّدة ولا قدرة لها على تقديم تنازلات لعقد تسويات.  فانفراط الإمبراطورية الأميركية قد تتلازم مع انحلال الجمهورية.  في أحسن الأحوال ما ستقوم به الإدارة الجديدة هو ربط نزاع دون حلول ودون حروب.  في أسواء الأحوال بالنسبة لها مسألة وجودها ككيان لدولة عظمى.  الخطورة تكمن فقط في استمرار حالة الإنكار وارتكاب بالتالي حماقات تسّرع في زوالها وما سيرافق ذلك من خسائر في الأرواح.

*باحث وكاتب اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي


New U.S. Foreign Policy Problems

Click here to see the Video (deleted by You Tube)

Ziad Hafez

The U.S. political landscape continues to be blurred after the recent controversial presidential election and subsequent events such as the storming of Congress (or an invasion as some would like!) by Donald Trump’s supporters, which was a severe and perhaps fatal blow to the prestige of the United States.  Regardless of that controversy and the accompanying questioning of the legitimacy of Joseph Biden’s election and the prospect of a quiet transfer of power and a normal mandate, there is uncertainty about the foreign policy directions of the new U.S. administration, reinforced by the recent structural internal instability.  This makes us say that the initiative is no longer in the hands of the United States, but in the hands of the counter-axis, which includes the Eurasian bloc led by Russia and China, the axis of resistance and a number of Latin American countries.  The question is no longer what will the United States do, but what will the anti-axis do? But this fact has not yet been absorbed by the ruling Arab elites and those in their orbit.

Our approach is based on a reality that has emerged for more than two decades: the imbalance between American desires/goals to dominate the world at all costs and its actual capabilities to achieve it. U.S. hegemonic goals require capabilities that no longer exist in the United States.  On the other hand, its opponents have the capabilities to confront them, deter them, and possibly remove them from the areas they controlled.  On the other hand, there is a structural denial of the American mind regarding its role in the world based on its exceptional illusion and the theory of its manifest value to do what it does without accountability.  We are not here to put forward the merits of that reality, which has been detailed in many researches, but merely to recall that this imbalance between desires and capacities is what we are building on in approaching the possible and potential directions of the new administration if it is to manage things normally.

Part 1: The Essence of The Problems

Assuming a minimum of political realism, the methodology of the new administration would be based on an attempt to neutralise the relationship between external and internal files.  The internal political, economic and social files call for economic policies that converge with the lax reality of infrastructure, health and environmental security and the repositioning of the industrial sector in technologies that do not require dependence on oil and gas energy, for example, but not limited to the long, complex and contradictory list.  For example, we see the President-elect calling for the United States to become the largest country in the electric car industry.  The implications for the oil sector will be radical.  The oil component of the deep state will not stand idly by in the face of that transformation.  The oil sector built the industrial sector, which was the base of U.S. power.  Writing off that radical lying sector won’t go through easily.

On the other hand, most of the components of the deep state economically have been and continue to call for globalization and direct economic domination of the world and thus continued interference in the affairs of states in the interests of those components.  How can the internal economic file be separated from external hot files?  Most importantly, what would the new administration do if its economic project were to collide with the deep state interests that brought President Biden to power, especially since their alliance could not be based on a shared vision but only on the need to overthrow Donald Trump?  On the other hand, the power of giant corporations that have turned into transcontinental corporations and nations built their networks and interests based on American self-power, which, even after World War II, was closed to itself and merely exported to the world.  Today these companies have settled abroad and are being exported to the United States.  If the United States loses its own sources of power militarily, economically and financially, what can the host countries do to american giants endemic at home?

What we want to say is that there is an existential need for the United States to focus on restoring the internal situation.  But that focus will clash with the deep interests of the state in the external expansion, so the question becomes how can we balance two contradictory interests?  The United States no longer has the capacity to expand and dominate, so how will the deep components of the state fill that deficit?  The answer to that may take a long time when the ruling elites and the question becomes do you have time for it?  No matter how approached, the United States has entered a new phase in its history that could lead to a total reconsideration of its composition. But this is another conversation that doesn’t need to be approached right now. It is enough to conclude that the ability to influence external files is limited and this may contribute to the rebalancing of the world on a more just base than it was in the arctic era.

These observations were necessary to understand the difficulties so as not to say the difficulties that the new administration will face.  How will you deal with externally pending files?   Most analyses and approaches are based on the writings of new administration figures during the campaign, including Biden’s spring 2020 article in The Foreign Affairs, including those of Secretary of State Anthony Plankin and National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan.  What can we expect from the new administration if it is to exercise its functions in the light of internal divisions in the United States and even within the Democratic Party with regard to external and even internal files.  Internal contradictions in the Democratic Party may be overcome because the party’s young base inside and outside Congress is in great contrast to the traditional leaders that remain in cold war climates.

The young base is more closely identified with the US internally and abroad and does not share the leadership’s concerns. How would this rule behave if the leadership proceeded to pursue policies in the external and internal files that contradict its aspirations? We must not forget that Biden’s “victory” is largely due to the youth turnout for the elections under the slogan “We are all against Trump” and thus ignoring this basic segment by the leadership may be costly in the upcoming midterm elections in 2022 and in the presidential elections in 2024. The two battles began. Already since now! But regardless of these considerations that will continue to cast a shadow over the overall decisions of the new administration, how will the new administration approach the external files?

Some clear indications lead us to believe that the new administration will be softer and more diplomatic, and are evident in the balance in designations for senior positions in the new administration. On the one hand there are the “hawks” represented in the front row by Anthony Blinken for Foreign Affairs and Jack Sullivan for the National Security Council, along with Kathleen Hicks as Deputy Secretary of Defense, Wendy Sherman as Deputy Secretary of State, and Susan Rice as Chair of the Domestic Policy Council (some consider that she will be the shadow chair in the new administration. And Victoria Newland as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, a position previously held by Jeffrey Feltman. We Note here that Victoria Newland, wife of Robert Kagan, is the main theoretician of the neoconservatives. Newland was the hero of the Ukrainian coup and had proverbs in the European Union that amounted to insults and contempt. As for Wendy Sharman, she is a supporter of Madeleine Albright, who justified the killing of 500,000 Iraqi children during the siege on Iraq. Sherman famously declared that deception is in the DNA of Iranians. She was keen to inform Netanyahu of all the details of the negotiations with Iran on the nuclear file, as explained by former intelligence officer Philip Giraldi in an article published on the “Information Clearing House” website on January 12, 2021.

And one of the experts of the Cato Institute, Ted Carpenter, in an article he published on the National Interest website, which includes diplomats, military, former intelligence officers and academics, considers that the Biden administration’s foreign policy team does not have the creative thinking but the traditional, as it is expected only to push the same policies followed in the administration of Barack Obama and even Trump. But in a kinder way. Blinken’s statement on November 25 that the president-elect will be the president of a confrontation with Russia will also enhance the capabilities of NATO as a system and will also support European countries that are anti-Russian, such as Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic states, and Poland. The problem, Carpenter adds, is not in the usual thinking about whether the policies before Trump arrived were good and yielding results, but rather that they were a failure. And the promise to return to those policies means more failure!

On the other hand, the appointment of General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defence and William Burns, a veteran diplomat to run the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), represents “moderation” in foreign policy. This balance is due to the need to satisfy the components of the coalition that brought Biden to the presidency on the one hand, and the new administration’s keenness to restore respect for its image, which was cracked by its allies during Trump’s term. However, this does not mean abandoning the profound belief that governed the behavior of successive administrations after World War II regarding the necessity of leading the world on the basis of the biblical reading of the Bible, as the terms “Manifest Destiny”, “City on the Mountain” and “New Promised Land” indicate in their speech on the United States . From here we understand the identification in form and style with the emergence of the Zionist entity and the United States.

Here, attention must be drawn to a key factor that contributes to understanding the fundamental motivation for aggressive policy behaviour in the world in various U.S. administrations.The theory of “manifest destiny” came to cover the crimes of the emergence of the United States in the extermination of the first peoples of the continent by European colonialists, and from there the enslavement of Africans to operate cotton plantations, the first base of the agricultural sector in the emerging society, for the benefit of the English colonial. The republic that arose as a protest against the policy of the British Crown would not have been stabilised without geographical expansion. When geographical expansion was completed westward and across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands and then the Philippines, and after attempts to find a foothold in North Africa through the barbarian beach wars in the north of the African continent at the beginning of the 19th century, economic expansion was necessary through economic domination, the economy being a means of domination and not a self-contained goal.  Politics is always based on the economy, although the latter has a role to play in policy-making.

The expansion across the Pacific collided with the interests of the Japanese Empire and was the Second World War.  The expansion of Latin America ran into the interests of the Spaniards, and the wars of liberation were spanish domination, supported by the United States at the beginning of the 19th century and directly with Spain at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries in Cuba and the Philippines.  The Republic is therefore based on the basis of expansion and the end of expansion in all its forms means the end of the Republic.  Hence, we understand the meaning of the “right to intervene to help the oppressed” in the world when the real goal is to impose control under the lever of globalization in order to perpetuate the Republic.  The economic interests of the forces of globalization in the new democratic administration will collide with the interests of those who want to take care of the internal files, as we will see in the Chinese, European, Levant and Arab world.

Therefore, we believe that foreign policy will be governed by by domestic realities and that the initiative in foreign files is no longer in the hands of the United States. U.S. strategy will clash with anti-government positions and the lack of support from allied nations because U.S. dictates no longer serve a common interest in the components of power, namely the deep state and the alliances that have been spun to topple Donald Trump. This is the legacy of Trump’s term and there is no evidence of a decline in targets, but only in style and a return to agreements that the United States has come up with that will cost them nothing more.  But this reference to the Convention will not change the image shake of allies as when opponents where credibility has been lost.  Any guarantee that any future administration will abide by the commitments of the new administration in the White House.  States will not accept to be held hostage to a changing mood between management and administration and therefore the interests of allied states will return to control their foreign policy priorities.

These are the limits of the administration, and we do not expect any modification from the previous policies, either in style or tone. unable to change and unable to continue. This is its dilemma, and the countries of the world are not responsible for solving the American impasse. The transformations on the ground will produce the facts that will govern U.S. politics that will once become some useless day.  It has no capacity to wage new wars, although its willingness to do so is certain and it cannot make concessions for settlements. The break-up of the American empire may coincide with the dissolution of the republic. At best, what the new administration will do is connect a conflict without solutions and without wars. In the worst case for it, the issue of its existence as a superpower.

The break-up of the American empire may go hand in hand with the dissolution of the Republic.  At best, what the new administration will do is to link a conflict without solutions and without wars.  At worst for her, the question of her existence as an entity of a super-Power.  The danger lies solely in the continuation of the state of denial and therefore the commission of follies that accelerate its demise and the attendant loss of life.

*Researcher, political economist and former Secretary General of the Arab National Congress

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It is not about Trump or Biden

BY GILAD ATZMON

biden trump.jpg

By Gilad

It is about Urban vs. Rural

It is about Globalist vs. Nationalist

It is about Cosmopolitans vs. Patriots

It is about Tribal vs. Universal

It is not about Democrats or Republicans 

It is about Identitarians vs. Americans

It is about the ‘as a’ people vs. Authenticity 

It is about a ‘Great Reset’ vs. longing for greatness

It is about Jerusalem vs. Athens

It is really about the ‘last days of the Weimar Republic’ all over again. 

Throughout its history, capitalism has been using different tactics to suppress opposition. 

At one stage it was the fantasy of an inevitable revolution. It is indeed the threat of that rebellious spirit which contributed to the evolvement of the welfare state, yet the promised revolution never materialized. 

 It doesn’t take a genius to gather that in historical perspective, those senses of freedom, productivity and hope which became Western emblems during the post-World War II era, had very little to do with our humanist desires and whims. Our ‘freedom’ was manufactured to titillate the poor human fellows behind the Iron Wall. The Cold War which threatened to wipe out civilization was just the means towards capitalist growth. Accordingly, it would be right to argue that we owe our post-war sense of ‘freedom’ to the USSR and Stalin. The more oppressive communism was, the more liberal the West pretended to be. Once the Soviet bloc evaporated, there was no need to sustain our ‘freedom.’ There was no one to ‘titillate’ with Coca Cola and McDonalds. A new Battle Zone was required to divert the masses’ attention from their true eternal oppressors.

Once again it was the so-called ‘Left’ that provided the goods. Instead of the old Left mantra that called to unite us into a proletarian angry fist regardless of our race, skin color, gender or ethnicity, the ‘New Left’ introduced a completely new hymn. Against the most basic Left universal ethos, the New Left taught us to think and speak ‘as a’: ‘as women,’ ‘as a gay,’ ‘as trans,’ ‘as a Jew,’ ‘as a Latino,’ ‘as a Black.’ We practically learned to fight each other instead of uniting into one people. Instead of eliminating differences, we built new ghetto walls emphasizing and celebrating every possible dividing line (White/Black, male/female, heterosexual/LGBTQ etc.). Instead of identifying Wall Street, MSM propaganda and the technology giants as our fierce global enemy, these actually became the catalysts and cash suppliers in a war we, the people, foolishly declared upon ourselves.

In this new ‘Left’ Identitarian amalgam, every ‘as a’ voice is welcome except the White one. Is it because anyone really believes that ‘White people’ are categorically or collectively bad? I doubt it. It is simply because the so-called ‘White’ was picked to play the ‘role’ of the Soviet bloc. The ‘White’ has become the new imaginary ‘evil.’ 

As things stand no one in America can unite the nation: neither Biden nor the DNC can introduce a harmonious solution as the above are actually extensions of the problem. Biden and the DNC are inherently tied to Wall Street, Soros, the MSM and technology giants that formulated and sustain this tragic battle. Trump and the GOP of course, cannot do much either, because in the eyes of his many opponents Trump himself is the core of this entire disaster.  He is clearly ‘too white’ on top of being a ‘man’ and if this is not enough, he is also an abrasive narcissist. 

What we see in America is practically the Weimar Republic all over again.

The public is losing its trust in the democratic process and democratic institutions. Poverty and public unrest is spiking. The national press and media are becoming more and more detached from larger segments of the population. Amidst all of this, Wall Street is booming. The two sides of this divide cannot tolerate each other. They are removed demographically, spiritually, culturally and intellectually.  Democracy is becoming a nostalgic notion in the USA and this shouldn’t take us by a big surprise as democracy and freedom are not and never have been prime capitalist goals or values. Democracy and liberty were the means, not the goal. They were there to serve mammonism.* But not anymore; back in November 2016 Wall Street gathered that democracy is in the way. The City of London came to the same conclusion after the Brexit referendum.

If America wants to save itself, it may have to grasp its conditions first. It better transcend itself beyond the fake battle between Trump and Biden or between the Democrats and the GOP. America should figure out who is pushing it into the abyss of civil war.  America should figure out who works so hard and successfully, so far, to split it and every other Western country in the middle.

If Orwell’s 1984 carries any prophetic merit, it is easy to figure out who is taking care of the Big Brother’s role. What you may want to do next is figure out who is/what is the current Immanuel Goldstein? Who controls the opposition?    

* Mammonism the obsessive pursuit of material wealth and possessions.

Trump and his Enemies: Election 2020

Trump and his Enemies: Election 2020
https://thesaker.is/trump-and-his-enemies-election-2020/

November 06, 2020

By Larchmonter445 for the Saker Blog

What we see playing out in front of the whole world is the final battle of Trump and his Enemies. The historic vote, the democratic process of the will of the American People, is a sideshow. Atop that election event, which was the largest and most egalitarian in modern U.S. history, is the existential struggle between Donald J. Trump, interloper and paradigm destroyer, and an array of the most powerful U.S. stakeholders, his avowed enemies.

As the legal combat rolls out to try save Trump’s election results, each state or city that Trump’s lawyers challenge in court is a citadel of Trump enemies, some unique, some sub rosa, most flying their colors as adversaries since he unleashed his candidacy for the Executive Power of the Presidency.

There are three key states that are headlining the legal contests—Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Additionally, North Carolina and Georgia present as conflict zones, too, the former holding for Trump, the latter leeching the lead to Biden. Peeling back the Repubs versus the Dems struggle for victory, we discover the enemies are not political foes. We discover the enemies are power foes. Trump came for their power and took the hilltop, the Oval Office. They have spent billions of dollars to dislodge him, to destroy him, to decimate his assets like the ninja blade missile fired at General Soleimani shredded the Iranian’s body.

Trump’s candidacy for a second term relies on winning in all these states. Examining the legal skirmishes in each case, he has little chance of achieving his needed goals. Meanwhile, his winning vote totals are being diminished by the hour as his enemies use century old “vote” manipulations to assure Biden’s victory.

What this is not is an ideological-political fight, though the campaign was overwhelmed with ideological munitions exploding at every level.

The struggle for dominance now underway is about pure power to command the domestic and foreign assets of the United States Government and to influence the corporate assets and human assets of the nation domestically and globally. Trump wants to focus on domestic economic and technological development and GDP growth while his Enemies want to use all the power they need to maintain global hegemony.

Trump took the Presidency in 2016, and with it, the Republican Party, the Conservative movement, and the Evangelical base. Recently, in this election, he expanded the Black, Gay and Hispanic component of the Republican voting base. This has held the Senate for the Republicans and increased the House seats, as well as gaining ground in State governors and State legislatures, critical in a year of Census that determines Congressional districts for the next decade.

Trump immobilized a potential nemesis, the MIC, with $2.5 Trillion in contracts for new weapons and munitions and R&D to pursue offensive and defensive systems that the Russians and Chinese already possess. That he also poured ice water on the Afghan War and the Syrian War, and is chilling the African secret special forces wars did not rattle the corporate pigs who live off defense budgets. But, he has agitated the officer corps that depends on small-scale conflicts that boost their careers with battle ribbons and commendations and keeps them climbing the ladder to ‘stars’ on their shoulders. Without wars, the future is very limited for officers. The careers of officers are pressurized by the Congressional mandate of “up or out”, which is a culling process of either you get promoted up or you are exited out of the active duty service. The best insurance of constant career advancement is perpetual wars, small and laden with proxies actually doing the fighting and dying. The US officer corps has lived on these regional wars for many decades. Trump threatens them by shutting the Presidential valves that sustain such ventures. Many officers have spoken out against Trump.

A brief tour of what was done early on and during the campaign to stop Trump from winning outright is necessary. This year, after three years of false accusations of being a stooge for Russia, colluding with Putin, the House impeached Trump for a phone call to Zelensky, President of Ukraine, fabricating a deal was proposed, quid pro quo, that would benefit Trump. Immediately disproved with the official transcript of said phone call, the country and Trump were nonetheless put through the agony of the one-party impeachment which was instantly killed in womb (Pelosi’s or Schiff’s, it was never established), but the demon was dead on arrival. It cost Trump prestige and some votes in the middle. Mud sticks and stains in politics. Bullshit does, also, and stinks for quite some time, too.

Then Covid hit the nation. Trump worked assiduously as President to use US influence and domestic resources to get PPEs, ventilators, swabs and tests, and hospitals ready for an onslaught of patients. He used national presidential powers to get corporations to manufacture ventilators. He coaxed the Big Pharma corporations to push out therapeutics and to design a mass manufacturing of vaccines. He broke the inertia in the Homeland Security, CDC and FDA and dissolved red tape and traditional foot-dragging to get emergency approvals of whatever looked promising to mitigate, moderate and stop the virus from harming or killing the infected. He created a national task force that incorporated all branches of the military to solve all logistical issues that arose and might arise as testing, therapeutics and vaccine would roll out in hot spots Dr. Birx determined and then into regions and states the epidemic modelers directed. Trump was far ahead of the curve on everything a President could do.

Most importantly, in the single decision that had to be made, to close the nation’s economy and get tens of millions of businesses to shut down while employees stayed safely at home as the virus swept around the country, he did it when the ‘scientists’ and ‘doctors’ advised him to. It was the death knell of his economic success and tore the foundation from his re-election campaign.

Trump would have been unstoppable in 2020 election if not for the shutdown. It cost millions of Americans their income, their jobs, their businesses and impacted their children who were subject to digital home schooling because all their schools were closed, K-12 and colleges and universities, too. The Covid deaths and fears would not have stopped him.

The collapse of the economy altered the Trump MAGA success. His re-election would have been an historic landslide and wipeout of the Dems, likely winning the House back, also. Certainly, he would have won 40 of the 50 states.

What Covid did was give the Dems a campaign issue that along with the 3+ years of demonization, the impeachment, the investigations, the Infowar, the sabotage and treachery by the Intel agencies and State Dept., all the legal cases against Trump allies by Muller, the prolonged agony of General Flynn made by a Federal DC judge, enabled by the Appeals Court, made the false charge that Trump did not listen to the doctors and scientists stick.

Trump never made a false move, never went against science. He pushed the envelope to get breakthroughs. He was ahead of the curve, and the economy coming back so swiftly and strongly proves he did everything correctly. He saved lives and saved the economy. But it cost him support at the ballot box. He was pilloried by MSM and Dems, and demagogued by the Biden campaign. All false charges. But they stuck.

The one thing that Trump could not do in the fight against Covid was direct and order 50 states to act in concert. The Federal system of states left governors in charge of the fate of their citizens, and many governors, Dems all of them, messed up, acted late, made the wrong decisions. Their failures were heaped on Trump by the Media and the very Dem governors who caused a large percentage of the deaths by the virus.

The facts are the facts. In New York, Governor Cuomo caused thousands of deaths in nursing homes. He did not use thousands of beds provided by Trump in the Javits Center and on the Naval hospital ship, all of which Cuomo had requested. He did not even use a 110-bed tent facility in Central Park provided for him by Samaritan’s Purse. Culpability in New York alone was criminal and accounted for 40% of US deaths by Covid. Trump, however, got covered with the mud from Cuomo’s mess.

The final poison arrow from Covid’s quiver was Trump got infected. He quickly proved his amazing genetic health and recovered, experimenting upon himself with emergency-approved (due to his prior swift actions) therapeutics. The entire ordeal (which also touched his wife, Melania and son, Baron) cost him two weeks of vital campaigning. The ironically named by him, China virus, had come to ruin his re-election as if Zhongnanhai had intended to inflict him with the novel Corona virus. Fate or karma had entered the campaign.

We can uncover his thinly veiled enemies as we look closely at the States ‘counting’ the votes. Perhaps, the verb ‘compiling’ the votes is best used because any freshman observer of what has traditionally and continually occurred where and when needed is not mere vote counting. We see the completion of vote counting of the opponents largest haul (in this case, Trump’s bastions) and then, calculating with simple arithmetic, addition and subtraction, as the long night (always), with delays (always) and the days or weeks needed to ‘find’ the votes needed to overcome his total in order to create victory for Biden. Compiling votes is what we see going on in these key states.

This compiling is an art form, a tradecraft, indeed, a tradecraft used by State Dept. and CIA to win victories for satraps the US wants to win or hold power in other countries’ elections. In parts of the U.S., in Democrat vales and burgs, it is learned with mother’s milk. Professionals handle the task. I have personally seen it in operation in Florida, in New Jersey and in California. When it comes time to “count the votes”, the pros appear. Some know their names. Whether the system of voting is machines, punch cards, ink fill-ins, magical things occur. This is the final step of stealing an election.

Worse awaited Trump as he roared around the nation, rallying his voters by the tens of thousands, some days doing five rallies. Enemies lurked among the 19,000 counties of the United States where the votes of 2020 would be tallied. Some enemies, no doubt, were ideological, political foes. Some were institutional, government employees who feared four years of coming reforms that might likely cost them their jobs. Others were sore losers and turncoat Republicans who lost in 2016. A few were billionaires, oligarchs of high tech, whose demi-god status in the Liberal Cult was defied by the upstart Trump who would never kneel before their billions and influence. A ground swell for breaking up some of the big tech corporations and regulating them seemed primed for his second term.

The oligarchs sent their money to pay for the work needed to stop Trump. They sent billions of dollars mostly for negative advertising and for social media memes picked up by MSM as themes of the day, all rancid attacks against Trump.

Proven social and political science: negative advertising works. It depresses voting turnout and suppresses votes for the target. It eats at the undecided and independents who otherwise would have voted for the target. Billions of dollars of negative ads stopped the Red Wave. Turnout was historic, and the Republicans gained ground, but the landslide Trump needed was stopped.

The oligarchs who control all social media, also leveraged their platform’s influence and impact worth hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, to manipulate discourse, Internet search, government officials’ statements, tweets and re-tweets, advertising and digital content. Namely, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt were allied against Trump. Jeff Bezos, through his Washington Post, contributed the devastating suppression poll of a 17 pt. Biden lead in Wisconsin. Publicized nationally, that was a very powerful negative cast against the Trump campaign in the last days of the campaign. In addition, Bloomberg and George Soros injected hundreds of millions of dollars in the election in the swing states.

Nevada: Harry Reid, former Senate Majority Leader, operates a political machine in the state, openly hostile to Trump. The unionized casino employees, culinary workers union of 60,000, and thousands of illegals who worked construction, landscaping and low level jobs in Reno and Las Vegas, coalesced against Trump. Most all of these two groups are unemployed due to Covid shutdown, with thousands illegally voting, while many worked were paid Biden and Dem campaign volunteers.

Arizona: John McCain’s family, livid at the insults to John by Trump, were openly allied with NeverTrumpers like Jeff Flake and Mitt Romney, most importantly the Bush dynasty operatives all of whom hate Trump for his humiliating defeat of Jeff Bush campaigned against Trump. This hatred of Trump manifested into an irrational undermining of the campaign of Senator Martha McSally. One would think that Martha McSally as a combat A-10 Warthog pilot and group commander with years of active warfare experience would be a natural successor to the McCain Senate seat. However, her career as a combat pilot was a success that dwarfed the disastrous McCain career. So the McCains chose to work against her and Trump, especially when Trump backed her strongly. Arizona also has substantial illegals, useful to work and vote against Trump’s campaign because in a second term, they would likely be deported. Finally, Blue State émigrés from California have populated Maricopa County and voted against Trump as they would have in California. Their vote in Arizona made a difference.

Pennsylvania: The Philly Dem political machine is historic and perpetual. They cheat in local, state and federal elections and have for a century. Additionally, the Hillary Clinton-family machine is alive and well, ever ready to deliver votes when needed in the Commonwealth. Her father was from Scranton, she and her brothers and Bill had a political machine that could deliver to her most of the state except the Philadelphia region. She certainly activated her machine to work against Trump. Watch the grin on Ed Rendell’s face when Pennsylvania is stolen for Biden. He’s always been out front for the Clintons.

Georgia: There is a cadre of Black officials who projected the drumbeat of “Trump is a Racist”, the chanting led by the Atlanta mayor. Countering this propaganda, Trump had the personal endorsement of the greatest athlete Georgia ever produced, Herschel Walker, who has had a 37-year friendship with Trump and campaigned for Trump. Making these officials livid, too, was the relationship Trump had with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece, Dr. Alveda King. She testified endlessly that Trump was no racist. Nonetheless, the massive Black vote was tainted away from Trump, though he made larger than predicted inroads with Blacks in other venues.

North Carolina is now a state heavily influenced by Virginia’s shift to Blue. Sections of the state, where high tech industry abounds, are ideologically liberal and created enough barrier against Trump sweeping the state. Details haven’t emerged about how this state is now subject to delivery to Biden unless Trump’s margin can hold.

However, the elites, oligarchs, status quo stakeholders, criminal officials, the corrupted, deep state operatives, shadow government bureaucrats, influencers, neocons, and a sea of demented activists have waged a war to prevent a second term for Trump.

They sought Power and, apparently, will seize it soon.

###

—Larchmonter445

The Death of the Nation State has been somewhat exaggerated (Part 2)

The Death of the Nation State has been somewhat exaggerated (Part 2)

October 12, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

Globalization – i.e., neo-liberalism writ large – is essentially a negative phenomenon destroying the sovereignty and cohesion of nation states and thereby depriving markets of the social and political guidance without which they cannot function effectively…The result will be a socially divisive, politically destructive, ethically abhorrent and even economically inefficient structure.(1)

JOINED AT THE HIP

Transnational Corporations (TNCs) can be compared to a tree: they have extensive branches everywhere, but their roots are firmly based at National HQ. Of late this has become a disputed view. One of the contemporary clichés in the current discussion of global political economy is the rather dubious concept of the end of the nation state and the subsequent breaking of the shackles which had hitherto tied TNCs to specific geographical and legal locations. It has been argued that these organizations have moved beyond the control of nation states who can no longer exercise effective jurisdiction over their activities.

This ‘state-denial’ thesis has been articulated by the influential hyper-globalist faction ensconced in the financial press, academic economics departments and political parties. In a ‘borderless’ world the state apparently no longer matters; economic power has shifted from sovereign states to global markets. In the words of the German political and social theorist, Wolfgang Streeck, ‘Markets were once fitted into states; now states are fitted into markets.’(2)This change has involved a global transmutation which reputedly has been brought about by the invention of revolutionary technologies in transport and communications. Such is the thesis put forward by the spokespersons of globalization.

True to say that in general terms all states have to choose a global strategy; they have to look at the full range of choices, then they have to decide what is in their best interests. In the current era of global competition, trade liberalization via the market remains the riskiest choice of all. It demands that trade barriers of all kinds be dismantled – the EU model being the archetype. With this policy governments have to let international competitive pressures restructure industries without recourse to state aids or other protectionist methods. This requires states to open their borders regardless of the costs and consequences in industries and vulnerable workers. Russia in the 1990s was a textbook example of what would happen if a state opened its economy too early, namely, a massive economic contraction. In the official textbooks among the neo-classical scribblers in academe and the media, markets are seen to be self-organizing social and economic space responding to universal demand and supply signals.

For countries which accept this view of the world economy, state power to make policy independent of a country’s major trading partner is being progressively eroded as countries find themselves trapped in a seamless web of interdependency. Larger markets do not come without a cost. This much is axiomatic.

Since the 2008 crisis, however, and now the 2020 blowout the state-denialist view has been more difficult if not actually impossible to sustain. It was after all the allegedly redundant state (or states) which pulled capitalism’s chestnuts out of the fire with the bail-out of insolvent American banks in 2008. As the story goes, during the meeting between Obama and the Wall Street elite at the height of the 2008 crisis the President apparently remarked that it was only himself who stood between the assembled financial movers and shakers of Wall Street and ‘the pitchforks’. The US government also ponied up some US$50 billion to bail out distressed auto manufacturers General Motors and Ford who were based in ‘Motor City’ (Detroit). Detroit itself was also bankrupt but the Federal government was unable to find an additional US$13 billion to bail out the city itself. Maybe – just a thought – because the population of Motor City was largely African-American.

However, the received wisdom emanating from the neoliberal elite has been challenged with a more critical assessment coming from heterodox economic theorists.

As follows.

‘’Contrary to the globalist supposition and as a matter of fact, the (sovereign) state always has, and continues to be the mobilizing force in shaping and guiding national economic development, including globalization itself. Given that an increased capability to overcome geographical distance made possible by technological innovations in transport and communication technologies is of little use if there are political barriers to such movements. Thus, policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatisation were necessary to overcome non-technical barriers to the free flow of labour, capital, and commodities. Therefore, the enabling force of globalization was the state. In fact, the bigger and more powerful states have used globalization as a means of increasing their own power and interests.

States actively construct globalization and use it as soft geo-politics and to acquire greater power over, and autonomy from, their national economies and societies respectively … E.g. … The US and G7s other dominant members design and establish the international trade agreements, organizations, and legislation that support and govern trans-border investments, production networks, and market penetration constitutive of contemporary globalization. Advanced capitalist states, particularly, use these political instruments to shape international economic decision making and policy making in their interests.’’ (3)

In addition, nation-states protect, subsidize, manipulate currencies, impose quotas, sanctions, give tax breaks and exemptions to export industries, R&D, and grant patents, use procurement policies and intellectual property rights to their indigenous corporations to both protect their home markets and help them penetrate overseas markets. This is laughingly described as ‘free trade’. States and corporations are not antipodes they are twins, and arguably the state is the senior partner in this arrangement.

For example, in 1934 the Roosevelt administration passed the Glass-Steagall Act. This involved a forced separation of investment banking from commercial banking which stopped banks speculating with depositors’ monies. In 1999, however, Bill Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act, commonly known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, repealing the key components of Glass-Steagall whose articles became largely toothless. This was what Wall Street had been angling for and which gave an additional push to the eventual debacle in 2008.

The state giveth, and the state taketh away.

Thus, the notion that powerful trends of internationalization and interdependence have ended national sovereignty is vastly overstated. States remain in charge of the essential part of their national sovereignty: monetary policy, (except in the Eurozone of course) law-making, macroeconomic policy, finance and taxation, environment, education, labour markets, industrial relations, pensions, health and welfare, social policy, science and technology and so forth. Arguably no supra-national entity has yet been designed to replace what has been an effective system of national government. Unimpeded global flows of capital in search of lucrative investment opportunities, are hardly conducive for countries wishing to plan and stabilize their future free from the vagaries of uncontrolled markets

TENSIONS

Power to shape/control the global system is concentrated in the hands of states and/or the newly emergent TNCs. Of course, there is not going to be a simple description of this development as the relationship between these two pillars of modern imperialism is both fractious and permanently mutating. The received wisdom, as put forward by the various spokespersons for globalization, ranging from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) OECD, WTO, World Bank and IMF, and through the globalist house journals of the global Transnational Uberklasse – The Financial Times, The Economist and Wall Street Journal – is predictable enough. Namely that the state is always in a subservient position vis-à-vis the dominant TNCs.

This perhaps would qualify as a procrustean effort to make the facts fit the theory. Contrary to the image of the all-powerful TNC demanding fealty and obedience from prostrate states, the relationship is somewhat more symmetrical; corporations and states are always to a certain degree joined at the hip.

They are both competitive and competing, both supportive and conflictual. They operate in a fully dialectical relationship, locked into unified but contradictory roles and positions, neither one nor the other partner completely able to dominate.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Additionally, the widespread notion that a TNC can simply up sticks and move lock, stock, and barrel to a more compatible venue if its home base no longer suits its purposes, is fanciful in the extreme. All TNCs have home bases, national HQs. Here is where global strategy is determined; here is where top-end R&D is carried out; here is where design and marketing strategies take place; here is where the domestic market is situated and where long-term domestic suppliers are located; here is where overseas operations are conceived planned and carried through; here is where AGMs of the Corporations takes place with published accounts circulated to all shareholders; here is where the local workforce, at all levels, is recruited; here is where the political bureaucracy and the above mentioned institutions are situated and amenable to lobbying. Picking an obvious example, the US defence industries, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics, Boeing, are all based domestically and are not, even if they could, going to jump ship anytime soon.

It is unquestionably true that TNCs and states often have divergent goals: TNCs’ primary function is to maximise profits and enhance shareholder value, whereas the economic role of the state should be to maximise the economic welfare of its society. But although this conflictual relationship exists, states and TNCs need and lean on each other in a variety of ways. States might wish that TNCs are bound by allegiance to national borders – and in many ways they are (see above) – but total allegiance is not an option in a liberal capitalist economy. Indeed, it would be true to say that some states regard TNC (activities) as being complementary to their foreign policy. Here economic issues merge with geopolitical imperatives. For example, American political leaders have believed that the national interest has also been served by the foreign expansion of US corporations in manufacturing and services. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been considered a major instrument through which the US could maintain its relative position in world markets – as is of course the US$ acting as the world’s reserve currency – with the overseas expansion of TNCs being regarded as a means to maintain America’s dominant world position. As it was succinctly stated. ’What’s good for General Motors is Good for America’.

THE EU: SUPRANATIONAL OR NATIONAL STATES.

Which brings me to the EU. The state-declinist thesis seems to have gained a considerable traction in Europe among the orthodox left. No less a personage than Yanis Varoufakis – the initiator of DiEM2025 (Democracy in Europe) – has been reading the last rites of state democracy and sovereignty in Europe. Apparently, the model of politics based on the nation state is ‘finished’. The sovereignty of national parliaments has been dissolved. Today, national electoral mandates are impossible to fulfil. Hence, reform of the European institutions (specifically the Euro Parliament), is the only remaining option.

Essentially this is the latest version of the TINA ‘argument’, (there is no alternative), pioneered by Mrs Thatcher and rolled out with monotonous regularity ever since by every cornered establishment politician, both left and right. As has been noted elsewhere. ‘’Tell the population that the nation-state is ‘finished,’ that it is unable to guarantee full employment (or to work towards it) and you free yourself of the responsibility of even trying.’’ The same goes for austerity or anything else. If the nation state is ‘kaput’ it is futile to oppose it.’’(4)

Globalization, however, is far from being the all-powerful and all- encompassing Leviathan postulated by the declinists. ’There are major cultural and linguistic differences that preclude a full mobilisation of resources across national borders. There is ‘home bias in investment portfolios. There is a high correlation between national investment rates and national saving rates. Capital flows between rich and poor nations fall considerably short of what theoretical models predict. There are still severe restrictions to the international mobility of labour. The truth is that we do not live in a completely globalised world, far from it. Ergo, nation-states can pursue their own fiscal and monetary policies.

Ex-leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn’s (quite moderate) policy proposals, during the 2017 and 2019 UK elections, namely, peoples’ QE, renationalisation of the Railways, taking into public ownership the energy and water industries together with the Royal Mail were not beyond the scope of the UK qua sovereign and democratic state. Additionally, these policies found considerable support among the UK’s population at large. (5) Unfortunately Corbyn’s programme was derailed by pro-EU elements in the Parliamentary Labour Party, the MSM and a vicious and mendacious ‘antisemitic’ smear campaign aimed at Corbyn. But this doesn’t alter the fact that a sovereign country can issue its own currency and formulate its own fiscal and monetary policy that can override the EU neo-liberal package of free movement of labour, capital, and commodities. This in addition to blocking the drive to deregulate labour markets (euphemistically, ‘flexibilization’). The sovereign state is perfectly capable of a policy for growth rather than for continued austerity which has become the hallmark of the EU area. But to carry out such growth policies would require an exit from the EU. There’s the rub. Social-democratic policies are incompatible to the EU’s liberal orientation, which is a structurally, neo-liberal capitalist institution.

The euro has in fact simply been designed to ensure that Germany runs a permanent trade surplus whilst the southern periphery runs continuing trade deficits – a simple accounting identity. Eventually something will have to give. It is also noticeable that Germany seems to be harbouring increasingly regional hegemonic ambitions regarding the rest of Europe. It seems to be positioning itself as the EUs anti-Russian key front-line probably with US backing. Euro state Socialism or even tepid social democracy can never truly thrive within such a hostile and increasingly militarised political environment. But that’s another explosive can of worms.

The position of the globalist left as outlined in the DiEM2025 manifesto, however, seems like a back-to-front attempt to by-pass national institutions and to attempt through a supra-national democracy to make fundamental reforms, through a democratised and strengthened EU. But even Varoufakis regards this as being ‘utopian.’ But he continues, it is ‘a lot more realistic than trying to maintain the system as it is’ or ‘trying to leave.’ (6)

More realistic, really? But this begs the obvious question of why such an entity is going to be any different from the present dispensation; will be any less neo-liberal and undemocratic if it is given greater powers and is integrated further? It seems to make more sense to work from the national to the supra-national level than the other way around – particularly given that most states in the EU are governed by centre right coalitions with social-democrats in tow (but acting like centre right liberals). Moreover, the transfer of local democracy – which we are told is now obsolete – to supranational democracy contributes to a weakening of popular control. This leapfrogging of national democracy to supranational democracy perforce requires a supranational electorate. This is problematic however since for the great majority of ordinary European citizens linguistic barriers and cultural differences impair the opportunity for political participation at a supra-national level. And so the dialogue, such as it is, goes on – ad nauseam.

This should not be considered a mere academic nit-picking issue for Socratic Senior Common Room dialogue. It is the key geopolitical issue of the day, as to whether sovereign nation states can determine their own future and political structures and policies, against the globalist project to turn the world into a borderless playground for international finance, corporate hegemony and the corollary of extinguishing democracy.

IDEOLOGICAL INTEGRATION OF STATES INTO NEOLIBERAL MARKET THEORY

But perhaps a more disturbing feature of the state/economy relationship has been the ongoing and gradual privatisation of the state itself. The role of the state has traditionally been a provider of public goods – education, healthcare, culture, parks, libraries, museums, transport infrastructure, including water, energy, forests and national parks, defence, law and order and judiciary, telecommunications, egalitarian social policies and so forth. The role of the market qua economy is to produce private goods and services for sale on a market. There has always been a tension between ‘the commons’- i.e., that which is public and open for everyone to use – and ‘commodification’ which turns things into commodities for private ownership and money-making. To use Marxist terminology, the commons has use-value, not an exchange-value (a market price) simply because it is not – and by definition cannot be – a commodity that can be bought, sold, or commercialised. The elevation of use-value over exchange-value is integral to the commons.

Throughout history, powerful interests have sought to privatise, close, and commodify the commons whether land, other spaces, amenities, or even intellectual ideas – to contrive scarcity and create income-earning assets. To the extent to which the succeeding enclosure and privatisation drives up rental income and proliferate its sources, increasing private riches while eroding public wealth. Such asset-stripping, rent-seeking behaviour by private companies intent on rent-extraction is not only tolerated by public authorities but actually encouraged.

Other examples of this have been the government/private sector liaison whereby private companies are now employed by the government to perform the role which was once the prerogative of governments. These government/private financial arrangements were called Private Financial Initiatives PFIs or Public Private Partnerships PPPs and were operationalised in both the UK and Australia. These predatory organizations were simply looking for public authority institutions to milk. Their incompetence – and outright looting – was legendary. The privatisation of British Rail, for example, led to increased accidents, higher costs, monopolistic rents (in terms of ticket prices), overcrowded trains, and failure to meet the timetable criteria.

In Australia, a report by the New South Wales Auditor General in 2002 warned of the considerable risks associated with the outsourcing of information technology and of the need to ensure that agencies are clear why they should do so. The previously inconceivable opportunities for the security of private information, collected and held by governments to be compromised, opening the way for identity fraud and held by governments was dramatically exposed in November 2007, when the British Department of Revenue and Customs was unable to account for two compact disks which had been sent through the mail at the National Audit Office. These disks contained highly detailed personal information concerning the 25 million citizens who received child benefits, information which included their addresses and bank account numbers, along with details of their children.

This was not an unusual occurrence it was simply another example – among many – of the ongoing rip-off of the public taxpayer by rent-seeking marauders. The market is always right, always works best, and always delivers the goods, or so it is ordained. Such is the categorical imperative of neoliberalism.

Coming full circle, the point of arrival involves a recognition that the relationship between (usually capitalist) states and markets has been a permanent and alternating process which started with the industrial revolutions in western Europe and North America. On the one side there are the permanent state bureaucracies and organizations which function as the basis for the production of public goods, and the national interest as they define it. This is complemented by the free-wheeling, cosmopolitan, financial and corporate interests whose outlook and policies are global as well as national and whose objectives are both practical and ideological. Practical in the sense that their motives are commercial and predicated on the imperative of growth and development not necessarily restricted to their national base. Ideological in terms of their neo-liberal Weltanschauung.

It was the great American social and political theorist C. Wright Mills who postulated the existence of what he called, The Power Elite as early as 1956. The American elite groups were composed of most importantly The Corporate Rich, The Warlords and The Political Directorate which together with various lower ranking sub-elite groups controlled the United States. State and Economy have to an extent always coexisted, their positions and influence moving back and forth, but in recent years (circa 1980) there has been – to put it mildly – a marked tendency of power and influence to tilt away from the state and toward the corporate/commercial configurations. Whether this trend will continue is an open question; but it would not be amiss to assert that nothing goes on forever.

NOTES

(1)Manfred Bienefeld – Is a Strong National Economy a Utopian Goal at the end of the 20th Century? – States Against Markets – pp. 434,435

(2) Wolfgang Streeck – ‘Buying Time’ – The Democratic Crisis Of Democratic Capitalism. ‘

(3) M. Gritsch – (2005: 2-3) (Nye 2002) Quoted in – The State Really Does Matter, Global Shift 2012 – p.223

(4) Picciotto, S. 1991 The Internationalisation of the State – Capital and Class 43.43-63 – quoted in Global Shift 2012– Peter Dicken)

(5) Although it should be said that the 2019 – the Brexit election – was very much watered down to the policies of the electoral manifesto of 2017.

(6) The IndependentUK Newspaper

(7) In Government We Trust – Market Failure and the Delusions of Privatisation. pp.90

In Defence of Sovereignty

August 18, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

In Defence of Sovereignty

For the benefit of Frau Merkel & Nordstream-2

No sovereignty = No democracy: If a State is subordinate to another State or group of states it is no longer sovereign. That is to say if it ceases to exercise control over its vital policies, economic, political, social and cultural. Moreover it follows that if it is not sovereign it cannot be democratic since the key policies it might wish to enact and carry out are decided elsewhere.

The increasingly unbalanced assessment regarding the UK’s eventual exit from membership of the EU (if indeed it ever really happens) seems predicated on a series of fixed, cliché-ridden political positions which haven’t changed since the whole issue became live. The great national ‘debate’ seems to be an emotionally charged affair with little attention to facts and more focused upon personalities and taken-for-granted assumptions of the ‘everybody knows’ type. This presumably is post-modern politics I suppose. But at the heart of the debate is the issue of sovereignty.

Let us firstly consider the international economic issues involved according to the conventional wisdom of the hyper-globalists. It is argued that both nation states and the whole concept of national sovereignty is now defunct. Their reasoning is based upon the following premises. 1. Most products have developed a very complex geography – with parts made in different countries and then assembled somewhere else, in which case labels of origin begin to lose their meaning. 2. Markets when left unfettered will arrive at optimal price, allocative, and productive efficiency. 3.This means that capital, commodities and labour should be free to move around the globe without let or hindrance to achieve these goals. 4. Any barriers to this process – capital controls, trade unions, exchange rate controls, welfare expenditures, minimum wage legislation, wages and even public goods – will give rise to price and allocative distortions. Q.E.D. Apart from point 1., the rest of these claims are in fact highly contestable and could easily be shredded by reference to historical experience and empirical testing, but hey, if the theoretical paradigm is sound who cares about historical experience and empirical testing.

Such globalization has come to be seen and defined by its proponents as the ‘natural order’ of things, almost a force of nature. This, it is further argued, will be an inexorable process of increasing geographical spread and functional integration between economic and political activities. This current orthodoxy goes by various names, Washington Consensus, Market Liberalisation, Neo-liberalism, Globalism and so on and so forth. In fact, there is nothing ‘natural’ about this stage of historical development since the whole phenomenon has been politically driven. From the outset there has been a coalition of globalist oligarchs, technocrats and heads of state et.al working through global institutions the IMF, World Bank, BIS, WTO, NATO, the EU, CIA – the list is extensive. They control the economic, political and military superstructures which form the ruling global system and constitute the vanguard of the whole process.

Turning to the EU as the regional prototype for the globalization, anti-state project, it was Patrick Buchanan, an American conservative who once correctly stated in ‘The American Conservative’ that the US Congress ‘‘is an Israeli occupied zone’’ by which he meant of course that Israel and the Israeli Lobby, both external and internal, has had a huge input into the framing and operation of US foreign policy. In a similar vein the EU is also occupied territory under the occupation and control of US imperialism. (This process of blatant meddling in European affairs by the US-CIA started with Operation Gladio in the late 1940s at about the same time as Operation Mockingbird and Operation Paperclip.) However, the perceived enemy was not merely Soviet communism, but also sotto voce, European social and political theory and practice, namely, Gaullism and social-democracy. These latter political groupings have long since been politically cleansed with the EU being reconfigured as neo-liberal, and, since the alignment of the EU security structures with NATO, as neo-conservative vassal states overseen and represented by odious little Petainist/Quisling occupation regimes. This is only too apparent when the fawning behaviours of Johnson, Macron and Merkel vis-à-vis the US are observed. Whenever the US master says jump, the Europeans will reply ‘how high’ And this is even more pronounced by the newly arrived Eastern European states. A group which Dick Cheney once described as the ‘new Europe.’ By which he meant the political force which was operationalised to fundamentally change the political direction of the EU in the late 20th century. Euro-widening was meant to prevent euro-deepening, and it worked a treat.

Perhaps the most salient (and bogus) claim deployed by the pro-Globalization camp is the use of the time-honoured TINA ‘there-is-no-alternative’ Varoufakis approach. This is invariably deployed to shut-down any genuine discussion. Of course it was Mrs Thatcher who pioneered this method of political discourse, with, it should be added, considerable success. Reading the editorials in the ‘leftist’ publications, I couldn’t help being reminded of those little Thatcherite homilies trotted out by the Tory press during the Thatcher ascendency.

But now, not to be outdone, the centre-left has taken upon itself the mantle of ‘progress’ and ‘modernity’ providing the ideological rationale for the globalist tendency. This has involved a 180 degree turn and is apparently using the same language and political orientation as the Globalists. Try this one on: ‘’Nations are increasingly irrelevant when it comes to effective action on the environment and social and immigration policies …’’ This was taken from a centre-left publication. Yep, distilled, undiluted globalization – TINA. That could have been George Soros speaking. As if sovereign nations could not pool their resources, enter into bi-lateral agreements, engage in trade and diplomacy, enter into negotiations with others precisely to confront common issues such as the aforementioned environmental, immigration and social issues.

But in this ‘stateless’ or seemingly becoming ‘stateless’ world I do feel obliged to point out that the United States as a nation is sovereign and has every intention of remaining so. Contrary to the globalist patter, however, this super-state shapes and formulates both economic and foreign policy for itself and its vassal states in Europe and East Asia, but of course these vassal states are not fully sovereign and are subject to the rule of the one that is – the USA. The reality we have in the EU consists not of a unified assemblage of sovereign states but a de facto occupied zone of a political, economic and military empire, under both US aegis and control.

As the late Egyptian Marxist, Samir Amin, put it:

‘’Conceived of at the end of WW2 the ‘European Project’ was born as the European part of the Atlanticist project of the United States, much in the spirit of the first Cold War initiated by Washington and given voice by Churchill’s speech in Fulton Missouri in 1946 in which he intoned. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”  This has been a project which the European bourgeoisies – at that time weak and afraid of their own working classes – adhered to practically without conditions. This is still largely true, as seen in the choices put into effect by the ruling classes and political forces of the right and majority left, at least in certain European countries, above all in Great Britain, where it has been done clearly and ostentatiously. In other countries there is perhaps a small piece of hesitation, whilst in Eastern Europe the process is managed by political classes formed in the culture of servility … There is no longer, at present, a European project … A North Atlantic project under American command has replaced it

Thus the European ‘project’ is not moving – or not moving fast enough, or not moving at all – in the direction that is needed to bring Washington to its senses. Indeed it remains a basically ‘non-European’ project, scarcely more than a European part of the American project. The European’s Constitution is for a Europe which is settling – has settled ? – its dual and Atlanticist option. Hence the potential contained in the clash of political cultures, which could theoretically lead to an end of Atlanticism which remains mortgaged to social-liberalism of the majority sections of the left (electorally speaking, the European socialist parties). But social-liberalism is a contradiction in terms, since liberalism is by its nature non-social or even anti-social … a stable and generally multipolar world will be socialist or it will not exist at all. (2)

Inter-governmental policy is perfectly possible, however, without the surrender of national sovereignty to an imperial hegemon. However, If the European Vichy regimes choose to accept the imposition of US policy imperatives that is their choice – a political choice, not an iron law of political development.

The fact is that nation states unquestionably remain the most significant force in shaping the world economy – this in spite of the hyper-globalist rhetoric coming from the Bilderbergers and neo-liberal/Washington consensus proponents. The nation state has always played a fundamental role in the economic development of all countries and indeed in the process of globalization itself. In fact, the more powerful states have used globalization as a means of increasing their power vis-à-vis the weaker states. The US and the G7 design and establish, international trade agreements, organizations, and legislations that support and govern trans-border investments, production networks, and market penetration, constitutive of contemporary economic globalization. Advanced capitalist states, in particular, use these political instruments to shape international decision making and policy in their own interests.(3)

A contemporary example of this is the US – qua sovereign hegemon – forcing policies, such as membership of NATO, down the throats of their (apparently willing) ‘allies’ (read vassals) and ‘partners’ in order to carry out the US’s geopolitical policies by mobilizing their Quisling regimes in both Europe (particularly Eastern Europe) for possible conflict with Russia, China and Iran (which are de facto sovereign states). It can be seen that the sovereignty of Europe is limited by the Transatlantic hegemon to the extent that Europe lacks both military, political and key areas of economic decision making to individual European G7 states. The fact that these semi-sovereign euro states are forced – as is everyone else – to use the US$ as the global currency means they do not really control their own economies. Let us assume for the sake of argument that Sweden has a trading surplus with the US; this means that it is exporting more than it is importing in terms of US goods. This means that the Swedish currency – the Krona – will appreciate against the US$. But the Swedish government may not want its currency to appreciate by being palmed off with US Treasuries which will never be redeemed. In order therefore to stop its own currency appreciating against the dollar it will have to buy US dollars or dollar denominated assets, (usually Treasury Bills) to keep its own currency at a lower exchange rate to the dollar. This results in an appreciating dollar which means the US can buy more stuff on world markets without producing any additional goods and services! Great deal if you can get it! Moreover by accepting the US$ and Treasuries as a means of payment for goods produced in Europe these semi-peripheral states are on the wrong end of what the French politician Valery Giscard D’Estaing once termed an ‘exorbitant privilege’. Such is the position of sovereign states, semi-sovereign states, and non-sovereign states.

In geopolitical terms it should be understood that the abasement of Europe to American interests is frankly abject. Europe has become a forward base for the Pentagon, military industrial complex, and neo-con infested State Department to play their war games against Russia and latterly against China. If there is a war with Russia, please note it is intended to be carried out on European soil not American.

In terms of present and future membership not only was the admission of the Eastern European periphery a massive error for individual European states, but future membership bodes even worse for the EU ‘project’. Turkey is not only authoritarian, a US proxy and a member of NATO, which is bad enough, but it also funds and arms our most inveterate enemies, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Jabhat Al Nusra, and various other jihadist alphabet soup grouplets. This same state was at that time mooted for membership of the EU by both the UK and Germany. Moreover, future candidates for EU/NATO status include Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. None of these states could be considered to be even remotely sovereign and/or democratic and generally are totally and openly corrupt. It is all part of the long march toward Russia’s western frontier by NATO/EU, a process begun by Clinton (Mr) in the 1990s. But apparently this is of no consequence to the contemporary ‘left’ which doesn’t seem unduly worried by these developments.

As for the EU/NATO, do we really want to belong to an organization who has these people as members/applicants? It’s a bit like Groucho Marx’s famous witticism – ‘’I wouldn’t want to belong to a club which would have me as a member.’’ More important in this respect does the EU/NATO even allow us a choice in the matter?

One final point. Okay it is argued that if we – the UK – leave the EU the roof falls in, of course that is a complete non sequitur, but let’s run with it for a moment. Membership is therefore imperative! Really?

Well in 1946 due to costs of the WW2 the UK was flat broke. Lord Keynes was despatched to Washington and negotiated a loan from the Americans. Of course there were strings, or in IMF/World Bankspeak, ‘conditionalities.’ 1. Britain had to end the system of imperial preference of intra-empire trading, mainly because the Americans wanted to get into this lucrative market. 2. The British empire had to be wound up, and the Americans would then carry the baton for the Anglo-Zionist empire, with all the costs but mostly advantages that accrued from this position. The UK’s long retreat from East of Suez began with Indian independence in 1947 and continued well into the 1960s.

The roof did not fall in, however, Britain, in spite of continuing imperial delusions of grandeur, adjusted to its new position in the world. There was, after all, an alternative to imperial nostalgia, maybe it never quite worked out as planned, but it happened, nonetheless.

Thus the TINA hypothesis is basically invalid. There are – pace the globalist dogma – always alternatives, you may not like them, but to deny their existence is neither a serious nor honest position to take.

NOTES

(1) Samir Amin – The Liberal Virus – p.86 p.89.

(2) Samir Amin – Beyond US Hegemony – p.148.

(3) Peter Dicken – Global Shift – The State Really Does Matter, Chapter 6

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

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, June 11, 2020

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

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

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

The Globalization of War

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

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

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

Michael Carmichael, President, the Planetary Movement

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

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research Publishers, Montreal 2015

EXCERPT FROM PREFACE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRI-LED REGIONALIZATION ROLLS ON AS GWADAR PORT OPENS AFGHAN TRADE TO THE WORLD

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

29 APRIL 2020

The successful opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan lays the basis for expanding this trade network to Central Asia and Russia via N-CPEC+, which sets a positive example for how BRI-led regionalization can rejuvenate globalization after the coronavirus is finally defeated.

The speculative talk about the coronavirus supposedly signaling the impending end of globalization was thrown into doubt last week after Gwadar Port was opened to Afghanistan. That facility is the terminal point of the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and will be used to facilitate trade with the South Asian state’s landlocked neighbor, according to the announcement by Abdul Razak Dawood, the adviser for commerce and investment to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He also said that “16,000 MT of diamonium phosphate and World Food Programme cargo of 500,000 MT of wheat for Afghanistan will arrive next month” and that “Ships from China will also offload at Gwadar.” This development is remarkable in more ways than one and thus deserves to be analyzed a bit more in depth in order for the reader to better understand its grand strategic significance in the context of contemporary geopolitics.

First off, it’s especially important that war-torn Afghanistan will receive much-needed aid through this port. Those supplies will help its people better survive the hardships that they’ve been experiencing for decades already, and they come at a crucial time when the country is struggling to counter COVID-19. Not only could Gwadar become a humanitarian lifeline for Afghanistan, but also an economic one too since it opens up its trade to the rest of the world and can therefore help it rebuild after the war finally ends.

The very fact that CPEC is expanding along the northern vector suggests that a branch corridor prospectively called N-CPEC+ could enter into fruition in the future if the project expands into the Central Asian Republics and even further afield to Russia, thus creating a new North-South connectivity corridor in the Eurasian Heartland. Even in the event that the aforementioned scenario doesn’t unfold right way, it’s still noteworthy that BRI’s flagship project is strengthening regionalization between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This objective observation powerfully refutes the rumors that globalization is destined to die due to the consequences of the world’s uncoordinated lockdowns in response to COVID-19. There will always be a need for countries to import whatever they can’t make at home and export the wares that they produce abroad, which in the Afghan context refers to agricultural imports and prospective mineral exports via CPEC. The present lockdowns will inevitably end, after which globalization will resume, bolstered by regionalization.

Regionalization and globalization are two sides of the same coin since they both involve international trade, albeit to differing geographic extents made obvious by their names. There’s some credence to the claims that regionalization will benefit more in the short term than globalization, though the success of regionalization would strengthen globalization through the creation of more consolidated economic spaces. In the present example, CPEC brings China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan closer together, thus boosting trade between all three.

The successful opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan lays the basis for expanding this trade network to Central Asia and Russia via N-CPEC+, as was earlier explained, which sets a positive example for how BRI-led regionalization can rejuvenate globalization after the coronavirus is finally defeated. Both interconnected trends are pivotal to the world’s economic recovery, and seeing as how they’re being championed by China, it can be said that the People’s Republic is taking the leading role in helping humanity return back to normal.

With all of this in mind, while casual observers might have dismissed the opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan as an unimportant event compared to everything else going on in the world nowadays (if they were even aware of it in the first place, that is), it’s actually one of the most significant non-health-related developments of the year. China showed that its desire to create a Community of Common Destiny through BRI hasn’t slowed down as a result of the virus, which speaks to its commitment to carry through with this noble vision no matter what.

Towards A New World Order? The Global Debt Crisis and the Privatization of the State

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, April 17, 2020

There is a serious health crisis which must be duly resolved. And this is a number one priority.

But there is another important dimension which has to be addressed. 

Millions of people have lost their jobs, and their lifelong savings. In developing countries, poverty and despair prevail. 

While the lockdown is presented to public opinion as  the sole means to resolving a global public health crisis,  its devastating economic and social impacts are casually ignored.  

The unspoken truth is that the novel coronavirus provides a pretext to powerful financial interests and corrupt politicians to precipitate the entire World into a spiral of  mass unemployment, bankruptcy and extreme poverty. 

This is the true picture of what is happening.  Poverty is Worldwide. While famines are erupting in Third World countries, closer to home,  in the richest country on earth,

millions of desperate Americans wait in long crowded lines for handouts”

“Miles-long lines formed at food banks and unemployment offices across the US over the past week”   

In India:

food is disappearing, ….  in shanty towns, too scared to go out, walking home or trapped in the street crackdowns,

In India there have been 106 coronavirus deaths as of today, to put things in perspective 3,000 Indian children starve to death each day” 

From Mumbai to New York City. It’s the “Globalization of Poverty”.

Production is at a standstill. 

Starvation in Asia and Africa. Famine in the U.S. 

All countries are now Third World countries. It’s the “Thirdworldisation” of the so-called high income “developed countries”.  

And what is happening in Italy?

People are running out of food. Reports confirm that the Mafia rather than the government “is gaining local support by distributing free food to poor families in quarantine who have run out of cash”. (The Guardian)

This crisis combines fear and panic concerning the COVID-19 together with a sophisticated process of economic manipulation.

Let us first examine the impacts pertaining to the developing countries.

Developing Countries. The IMF’s “Economic Medicine” and the Globalization of Poverty

Is the coronavirus crisis part of a broader macro-economic agenda?

First some historical background.

I spent more than ten years undertaking field research on the impacts of IMF-World Bank economic reforms in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Since the early 1980s, “strong economic medicine” was imposed on indebted developing countries under what was called the “structural adjustment program” (SAP).

From 1992 to 1995, I undertook field research in India, Bangladesh and Vietnam and returned to Latin America to complete my study on Brazil. In all the countries I visited, including Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and The Philippines, I observed the same pattern of economic manipulation and political interference by the Washington-based institutions. In India, directly resulting from the IMF reforms, millions of people had been driven into starvation. In Vietnam – which constitutes among the world’s most prosperous rice producing economies – local-level famines had erupted resulting directly from the lifting of price controls and the deregulation of the grain market. (Preface to the Second Edition of the Globalization of Poverty, 2003)

 The hegemony of the dollar was imposed. With mounting dollar denominated debt, eventually in most developing countries the entire national monetary system was “dollarized”.

Massive austerity measures were conducive to the collapse in real wages. Sweeping privatization programs were imposed. These deadly economic reforms -applied on behalf the creditors- invariably triggered economic collapse, poverty and mass unemployment.

In Nigeria starting in the 1980s, the entire public health system had been dismantled. Public hospitals were driven into bankruptcy. The medical doctors with whom I spoke described the infamous structural adjustment program (SAP) with a touch of humor:

“we’ve been sapped by the SAP”, they said, our hospitals have literally been destroyed courtesy of the IMF-World Bank.

From Structural Adjustment to Global Adjustment

Today, the mechanism for triggering poverty and economic collapse is fundamentally different and increasingly sophisticated.

The ongoing 2020 Economic Crisis is tied into the logic of the COVID-19 pandemic: No need for the IMF-World Bank to negotiate a structural adjustment loan with national governments.

What has occurred under the COVID-19 crisis is a “Global Adjustment” in the structure of the World economy. In one fell swoop this Global Adjustment (GA) triggers a Worldwide process of bankruptcy, unemployment, poverty and total despair.

How is it implemented? The lockdown is presented to national governments as the sole solution to resolve the COVID-19 pandemic. It becomes a political consensus, irrespective of the devastating economic and social consequences.A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Financial Crash

No need to reflect or analyze the likely impacts. Corrupt national governments are pressured to comply.

The partial or complete closing down of a national economy is triggered through the enforcement of  so-called “WHO guidelines” pertaining to the lockdown, as well as to trade, immigration and transportation restrictions, etc.

Powerful financial institutions and lobby groups including Wall Street, Big Pharma, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were involved in shaping the actions of the WHO pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lockdown together with the curtailment of trade and air travel had set the stage. This closing down of national economies was undertaken Worldwide starting in the month of  March,  affecting simultaneously a large of number of countries in all major regions of the World.  It is unprecedented in World history.

Why did leaders in high office let it happen? The consequences were obvious.

This closing down operation affects production and supply lines of goods and services, investment activities, exports and imports, wholesale and retail trade, consumer spending, the closing down of schools, colleges and universities, research institutions, etc.

In turn it leads almost immediately to mass unemployment, bankruptcies of small and medium sized enterprises, a collapse in purchasing power, widespread poverty and famine.

What is the underlying objective of this restructuring of the global economy?  What are the consequences? Cui Bono? 

  • A massive concentration of wealth,
  • the destabilization of small and middle sized enterprises in all major areas of economic activity including the services economy, agriculture and manufacturing.
  • It derogates the rights of workers. It destabilizes labor markets.
  • It compresses wages (and labor costs) in the so-called high income “developed countries” as well as in the impoverished developing countries.

Needless to say this Global Adjustment (GA) operation is far more detrimental than the country-level IMF-WB structural adjustment program (SAP).

It is neoliberalism to the nth degree.

In one fell swoop (in the course of the last months) the COVID-19 crisis has contributed to impoverishing a large sector of the World population.

And Guess who comes to the rescue? The IMF and the World Bank:

The IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has casually acknowledged that the World economy has come to a standstill, without addressing the causes of economic collapse.

“The WHO is there to protect the Health of the People, The IMF is there to protect the health of the World economy” says Georgieva.

 How does she intend to “protect the World economy”?

At the expense of the national economy?

What’s her “magic solution”?

 “We rely on $1 trillion in overall lending capacity.” (IMF M-D Georgieva, Press Conference in early March)

At first sight this appears to be “generous”, a lot money. But ultimately it’s what we might call “fictitious money”, what it means is:

“We will lend you the money and with the money we lend you, you will pay us back”.(paraphrase).

The ultimate objective is to make the external (dollar denominated) debt go fly high.

The IMF is explicit. In one of its lending windows, the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, which applies to pandemics, generously,

“provides grants for debt relief to our poorest and most vulnerable members.”

Nonsensical statement: it is there to replenish the coffers of the creditors, the money is allocated to debt servicing.

“For low-income countries and for emerging middle-income countries we have … up to $50 billion that does not require a full-fledged IMF program.”

No conditions on how you spend the money. But this money increases the debt stock and requires reimbursement.

The countries are already in a straight-jacket. And the objective is that they comply with the demands of the creditors.

That’s the neoliberal solution applied at a global level: No real economic recovery, more poverty and unemployment Worldwide. The “solution” becomes the “cause”. It initiates a new process of indebtedness. It contributes to an escalation of the debt.

The more you lend, the more you squeeze the developing countries into political compliance. And ultimately that is the objective of the failing American Empire.

The unspoken truth is that this one trillion dollars ++ of the Bretton Woods institutions is intended to drive up the external debt.

In recent developments, the G20 Finance ministers decided to “put on hold”,  the repayment of debt servicing obligations of the World’s poorest countries.

The cancellation of debt has not been envisaged. Quite the opposite. The strategy consists in building up the debt.

It is important that the governments of developing countries take a firm stance against the IMF-World Bank “rescue operation”. 

The Global Debt Crisis in the Developed Countries

An unprecedented fiscal crisis is unfolding at all levels of government. With high levels of unemployment, incoming tax revenues in developed countries are almost at a standstill.  In the course of the last 2 months, national governments have become increasingly indebted.

In turn, Western governments as well as political parties are increasingly under the control of  the creditors, who ultimately call the shots.

All levels of governments have been precipitated into a debt stranglehold. The debt cannot be repaid. In the US, the federal deficit “has increased by 26% to $984 billion for fiscal 2019, highest in 7 years”.  And that is just the beginning.

In Western countries, a colossal expansion of the public debt has occurred. It is being used to finance the “bailouts”, the “handouts” to corporations as well as “the social safety nets” to the unemployed.

The logic of the bailouts is in some regards similar to that of the 2008 economic crisis, but on a much larger scale. Ironically, in 2008, US banks were both the creditors of the US federal government as well as the lucky recipients: the rescue operation was funded by the banks with a view to  “bailing out the banks”. Sounds contradictory?

The Privatization of the State

This crisis will  eventually precipitate the privatization of the state. Increasingly, national governments will be under the stranglehold of Big Money.

Crippled by mounting debts, what is at stake is the eventual de facto privatization of the entire state structure, in different countries, at all levels of government, under the surveillance of powerful financial interests. The fiction of  “sovereign governments” serving the interests of the electors will nonetheless be maintained.

The first level of government up for privatization will be the municipalities (many of which are already partially or fully privatized, e.g. Detroit in 2013). America’s billionaires will be enticed to buy up an entire city.

Several major cities are already on the verge of bankruptcy. (This is nothing new).

Is the city of Vancouver up for privatization?: “the mayor of Vancouver has already indicated that he feared the bankruptcy of his city.” (Le Devoir, April 15, 2020)

In America’s largest cities, people are simply unable to pay their taxes: The debt of New York City for fiscal 2019 is a staggering $91.56 billion (FY 2019) an increase of 132% since FY 2000. In turn personal debts across America have skyrocketed.

“U.S. households collectively carry about $1 trillion in credit card debt”. No measures are being taken in the US to reduce the interest rates on credit card debt.

The New World Order?

The lockdown impoverishes both the developed and developing countries and literally destroys national economies.

It destabilizes the entire economic landscape. It undermines social institutions including schools and universities. It spearheads small and medium sized enterprises into bankruptcy.

What kind of World awaits us?

A diabolical “New World Order” in the making as suggested by Henry Kissinger? (WSJ Opinion, April 3, 2020):

“The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”

Recall Kissinger’s historic 1974 statement: “Depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World.” (1974 National Security Council Memorandum)

The political implications are far-reaching.

 What kind of government will we have in the wake of the crisis?

Concluding Remarks

There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the nature of this crisis.

Several progressive intellectuals are now saying that this crisis constitutues a defeat of neoliberalism. “It opens up a new beginning”.

Some people see it as a “potential turning point”, which opens up an opportunity to “build socialism” or “restore social democracy” in the wake of the lockdown.

The evidence amply confirms that neoliberalism has not been defeated. Quite the opposite.

Global capitalism has consolidated its clutch. Fear and panic prevail. The State is being privatized. The tendency is towards authoritarian forms of government.

These are the issues which we must address.

That historical opportunity to confront the power structures of global capitalism, –including the US-NATO military apparatus– remains to be firmly established in wake of the lockdown.


The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order

In this expanded edition of Prof. Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

This book is a skillful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically.

In this updated and enlarged edition – which includes ten additional chapters and a new introduction – the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalization.

“This concise, provocative book reveals the negative effects of imposed economic structural reform, privatization, deregulation and competition. It deserves to be read carefully and widely.”
– Choice, American Library Association (ALA)

“The current system, Chossudovsky argues, is one of capital creation through destruction. The author confronts head on the links between civil violence, social and environmental stress, with the modalities of market expansion.”
– Michele Stoddard, Covert Action Quarterly

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


Coronavirus Devastates Italy: Is It the Result of Globalism and Free Trade?

Philip Giraldi April 9, 2020

Coronavirus Devastates Italy: Is It the Result of Globalism and ...

The devastating impact of the coronavirus on Italy has sparked considerable speculation as to why the country appears to have suffered so disproportionately from the disease. Some initial theories suggested that the deaths might be due to lower standards and ill-advised practices in the Italian national health system, but the reality is that northern Italy, where the virus has struck hardest, has by most metrics better and more accessible health care than does the United States overall.

By one reckoning, the claimed number of dead is too high because anyone who tested positive and died had his or her death attributed to the virus even if it was actually due to other unrelated causes. And that argument has also been flipped on its head to demonstrate that the numbers are too low, using the fact that many Italians have not been tested for the virus to assert that many dead were actually caused by coronavirus. Since those dead were not medically confirmed positive for COVID-19, the deaths were erroneously attributed to other causes.

A third bit of somewhat more bizarre speculation centers on the fact that in September 2019 Italy made legal euthanasia for those with terminal illnesses seeking to end their suffering, a move strongly opposed by the Roman Catholic Church. Some of those weighing in on the number of deaths have claimed without evidence that a significant percentage of the dead were actually cases of euthanasia, i.e. implying that Italy has been deliberately killing off its elderly. Those seeking an explanation for such bizarre behavior by the national health service have suggested that it would be to ease pressure on the troubled Italian economy by eliminating old age pensions and medical costs.

Be that as it may, there is an interesting backstory developing in the Italian media about why Italy has been hit so hard by the “Chinese” virus in spite of the fact that it has been in lockdown for over one month. Italy’s ties with China, and with the city of Wuhan, where the virus may have originated, run deeper than with any other European country.

Last spring, when my wife and I were traveling in Northern Italy, we noticed the large numbers of Chinese, not only in tourism centers like Venice and Verona, but also in commercial and industrial areas. Italian shop holders we spoke with told us how the Chinese government and individual entrepreneurs were buying up businesses and properties at an alarming rate, penetrating the Italian economy at all levels. One gift shop proprietor in Venice described how even tourist items were increasingly being manufactured in China, a development which he described as “selling cheap junk.” He reached beneath his counter and produced a perfume bottle which looked like a local product but instead of being made in Murano it bore a tiny stamp “Made in China.”

A little less than a year ago Italy became the first G-7 country in Europe to sign a memorandum of understanding formalizing its membership in the Chinese Belt and Road project, part of the Silk Road scheme to create a vast linked commercial network across Asia and into Europe. Two of the main hubs being developed for the project are Genoa and Trieste. The Italian government, confronted with a struggling economy, based the move on “commercial reasons” and “economic advantages,” to include the investment being offered by Beijing, but Rome paid a price for the move with intense criticism coming from both Washington and Brussels. The Atlanticist crowd, which normally applauded a form of globalism and free trade, inevitably insisted that not only were the Chinese seeking to “destabilize” Europe, Beijing was also attempting to divide Europe politically and militarily from the United States.

One of the more interesting, and perhaps coincidental, aspects of the Chinese entry into Italy has been the particular connection between China and the northern Italian fashion houses, centered on Milan, that have shifted their production to Wuhan to take advantage of the cheap labor in China’s own textile industry, largely centered on the city. By all accounts, Chinese investors bought up factories in Northern Italy starting in the early 1990s. By 2016 many major brands had been completely acquired, to include Pinco Pallino, Miss Sixty, Sergio Tacchini, Roberta di Camerino and Mariella Burani while major shares of Salvatore Ferragamo and Caruso were also obtained.

The Chinese owners and investors replaced ageing machinery and brought in, often illegally, tens of thousands of skilled Chinese seamstresses as a labor force. By the end of last year when the virus first struck China, direct flights from Wuhan to Lombardy served the roughly 300,000 Chinese residents of Italy who mostly work in Chinese-owned factories producing Chinese inspired Made in Italy designs. It is widely believed, though not confirmed by the Rome government, that the first infections by coronavirus in Italy, attributed to visiting “tourists,” actually may have taken place in crowded dormitories where Chinese shift workers from Wuhan dined and slept.

In less than a year, however, Italians have come to realize that a tight economic embrace with Beijing also has a downside. Italy’s trade gap with China has gone up, not down and much promised investment in new enterprises has failed to materialize. But even as the dust cleared, the results derived from opening the door to China were not pretty. By 2016, Chinese acquisitions had exceeded 52 billion EUROS, giving them ownership of more than 300 companies representing 27% of major Italian corporations.

The Bank of China now owns five major banks in Italy as well as the major telecommunication corporation (Telecom) and the two top energy utilities (ENI and ENEL). China also has controlling interest in Fiat-Chrysler and Pirelli.

More recently, Italian government views on China’s human rights record in Hong Kong have hardened and the country’s legislature has rejected overtures by the Chinese telecommunications conglomerate Huawei to have a major role in developing the country’s new 5G technology. One might observe, however, that the barn door is being closed after the horse has already escaped.

To limit the damage, the Chinese have sweetened their economic expansion into Western Europe by carefully integrating trade with humanitarian initiatives to make the transformation palatable to the local populations. The Health Silk Road initiative is a major exercise of soft power which has, in the current crisis, provided various forms of emergency medical assistance to a number of European nations. In doing so, it has done more than the European Union or the United States. Italy currently has three Chinese medical teams assisting its doctors in and around Milan and has benefited from airlifted medical supplies to include millions of masks and testing kits.

China is not doing what it does for altruistic reasons. It sees itself as the major economic driver of a new globalism, displacing an increasingly foundering and incapable United States, which has dominated world finance and commerce since the Second World War. For China COVID-19 is seen as an opportunity to reconfigure the playing field in its favor.

The experience of Italy, which may have become an epicenter for the virus due to its close commercial and personal ties to China, is illustrative of how globalism and free trade being promoted by a number of engaged groups in many countries can be exploited to create a new reality. Beijing is shaping that reality while the U.S. and E.U. stand on the sideline and watch.

العقوبات الأميركيّة في زمن كورونا: جريمة ضدّ الإنسانيّة

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

من أجل السيطرة على العالم لا تتورّع أميركا عن استعمال أيّ وسيلة أو سلاح بصرف النظر عن مدى مشروعيته أو لاأخلاقيته أو لاإنسانيته. فالأساس لدى أميركا هو فرض السيطرة وإخضاع مَن يعارضها أو يعرقل سعيها لامتلاك قرار العالم حتى ولو تمّت هذه المعارضة في معرض ممارسة الآخر حقه بالحرية والسيادة والاستقلال واستثمار ثرواته الطبيعية.

وقد تصاعدت وتيرة استباحة أميركا لحقوق الدول والشعوب منذ أن تفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي الذي كان يقاسمها النفوذ والسيطرة على العالم ويضع بوجهها الخطوط الحمر التي تمنعها من الاستئثار بالقرار الدولي، حيث انطلقت أميركا بعد هذا الحدث بذهنية أنها القطب الأوحد في العالم الذي يجب ان تنصاع له المعمورة. وانطلقت معتبرة نفسها أنها الحاكم والقائد والشرطي والقاضي والجلاد لكلّ العالم، وأنّ حاكمها جاء بأمر إلهي وانّ العناية الإلهية اختارته ليكون الضابط والناظم لحكم المعمورة وحركتها، على حدّ ما قال جورج بوش قبل غزوه للعراق في العام 2003، “العناية الإلهية اختارتني لأنقذ العالم”، وكما ضمّن إعلانه الحرب على العراق بأنّ هدفه “نزع أسلحة العراق، وتحرير شعبه، وحماية العالم من خطر قاتم محدق”.

أطلق بوش رئيس الولايات المتحدة هذا القول رغم انّ مجلس الأمن الدولي رفض طلب أميركا غزو العراق ورفض العمل العسكري ضدّه، ورغم هذا تصرّفت أميركا فوق الإرادة الدولية خلافاً للقانون الدولي ونفذت غزوها وتصرفت بذهنية أنها قائد العالم معتبرة انّ تفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي، وعدم قيام الندّ البديل المناهض وامتلاكها القوة بكلّ أنواعها العسكرية والعلمية والاقتصادية والإعلامية، يبرّر لها إقامة نظام عالمي بقيادتها الأحادية يمكنها من السيطرة على المعمورة ويعطيها الحق بأن تلزم العالم بالخضوع والاستسلام لإرادتها او التعرّض لما يفرزه غضبها عندما تصبّه عليه ناراً وحصاراً.

فأميركا المعتدّة بقوّتها والمزهوة بجبروتها تتعامل مع العالم على أساس أنه ميدان نفوذها وأن ليس لأحد حق بالاعتراض على أرادتها، وأسندت موقفها بإطلاق نظريات جديدة كنظرية “التدخل الدولي الإنساني المتقدّم على السيادة الوطنية لأيّ دولة” و”نظرية العولمة” التي تسقط بموجبها الحدود الدولية أمام اجتياح الأقوى إلخ… وأعطت أميركا نفسها الحق بتقدير مصلحة الشعوب كما تراها هي وتعمل على فرضها وفقاً لتصوّرها، بصرف النظر عما إذا كانت هذه الشعوب تقبل هذا او ترفضه. فهي مَن يقرّر وهي مَن يتصرف وتنتظر من الآخر الانصياع وإلا كانت العقوبة التي تختار هي نوعها وحجمها ونطاقها، تفرضها بشتى صنوفها المادية وغير المادية شاملاً ذلك الحرب والقتل والتدمير والحصار والتجويع إلى حدّ الموت.

لقد عانى ويعاني العالم من الاستبداد الأميركي المطلق خاصة في العقود الثلاثة الأخيرة التي أعقبت أربعة عقود أخرى كان فيها نوع من التوازن الاستراتيجيّ الدوليّ الذي كان يقيّد او يحدّ من هذا الاستبداد، معاناة كانت بسبب ما قامت به أميركا من حروب وفتن وثورات مزيّفة بألوان أميركية متعدّدة مترافقة مع تدابير قسرية كيدية نفذتها تحت عنوان “العقوبات” التي تستهدف الدول والمنظمات والأشخاص وكلّ من يقول “لا” لأميركا، التي لم تواجهها علانية ويرفض تسلطها وسياستها العدوانية إلا قلة من المكونات السياسية والشعبية في العالم والتي تبلورت نواتها الأولى في غربي آسيا، حيث تشكلت ما عرفت بالمقاومة، ثم قام محور يقاوم الغطرسة الأميركية الاستعمارية أساسه إيران وسورية وحزب الله وبعض المكونات الفلسطينية، ثم تعاظمت ظاهرة الرفض العالمي العلني للاستبداد الأميركي حتى باتت تشمل دولاً وكيانات وشخصيات وتيارات هامة برزت الصين وروسيا في مقدّمتها.

لم تعبأ أميركا كثيراً بمعارضيها وكانت شبه واثقة بقدرتها على ترويضهم وظنت بأنّ ما تملكه من قوة وعلاقات مع شركاء او حلفاء وفقاً لتسمياتها (في الحقيقة ليس لأميركا شريك او حليف، فأميركا لا تنظر إلى الآخر إلا على أنه تابع وأداة أو عدو وخصم، وأكد بوش الابن على هذه النظرة حيث قال “من ليس معنا فهو ضدّنا”) ظنّت أنها قادرة على إخضاع من يتجرّأ على رفض إرادتها، لكنها صدمت بنتائج المواجهة خاصة نتائج العقد الأخير حيث إنها رغم كلّ ما اعتمدته من تدابير عسكرية وسياسية وغير ذلك من الأعمال القمعية الزجرية ضدّ المناهضين لسياستها، لم تحقق أهدافها في السيطرة ولم يخضع أحد من المعسكر المناهض لها رغم ما نزل بهم من أضرار وخسائر مؤلمة.

لقد نجح معسكر رفض الاستبداد الأميركي في إفشال مساعي أميركا لإقامة النظام الدولي أحادي القطبية ومنع تشكل حالة دولية تكون فيها أميركا القائد الوحيد للعالم، ونجح ذاك المعسكر في الدفاع عن حقوقه رغم أنه لم يشكل حلفاً متماسكاً او منظومة دولية متحدة خلافاً لحال أميركا مع الحلف الأطلسي الذي تمسك به وتستعمله لتنفيذ سياستها الدولية بعد أن غيّرت طبيعته من دفاعية عن أمن الأعضاء إلى هجومية عدوانية لتنفيذ المصالح والأهداف الأميركية.

في ظلّ هذه النتائج السلبية أميركياً للصراع الدولي، حلّت جائحة كورونا في الصين التي اجتاح اقتصادها العالم وتقدّمت على أميركا فيه، وظنّ في البدء أنّ الأمر قد يكون نوعاً من حرب جرثومية تشنّها أميركا ضدّ عدوها الاقتصادي وأنه حلقة من سلسلة حروب لجأت إليها في ظلّ عجزها عن النجاح في المواجهات الأخرى، حرب تترافق مع ما يُقال من تحضيراتها للمواجهة العسكرية مع الصين، ثم تعزز الظنّ هذا عندما اقتحم الفايروس إيران ليجعلها الدولة الثالثة التي يجتاحها الوباء.

لكن تطوّر انتشار الجائحة وسقوط أميركا وشركائها في الحلف الأطلسي فريسة لهذا الفايروس وتقدّمهم كلّ دول العالم في حجم الإصابات والموتى جعل مطلقي نظرية الحرب البيولوجية يتراجعون أو يُخفتون الصوت للانصراف إلى التدقيق بمسائل أخرى أفرزها الفايروس كورونا خاصة في مجال نظام الرعاية الصحية الغربي، والعلاقة بين الحلفاء أعضاء الحلف الأطلسي، وتصرّف الشرق خاصة الصين وروسيا تجاه الغرب الأطلسي، وأخيراً أداء أميركا في معرض مواجهة الوباء.

1

ـ ففي النقطة الأولى تبيّن وضوحاً كم انّ نظام الرعاية الصحية في الغرب واهن وضعيف ويفتقد إلى الجهوزية لمواجهة وباء، وثبت أنّ الذهنية الرأسمالية المادية تغلب المصالح المالية للرأسماليين على الحاجات والحقوق الإنسانية للمواطنين. ما أكد زيف تشدّق الغرب بمقولة حقوق الإنسان التي يتخذها مبرّراً للتدخل في شؤون الدول والشعوب.

2

ـ وفي الثانية فقد ظهر جلياً انّ ما يربط أعضاء الأطلسي ببعضهم هو المصالح والنفعية دون المبادئ والإنسانية، فإذا استوجبت العلاقة التضحية والعطاء فلا يكون للعلاقة أثر او وجود، وأظهر البعض من دول الغرب الأوروبي قدراً من الأنانية وضع مصير الاتحاد الأوروبي كله ومستقبله تحت علامة استفهام كبيرة.

3

ـ أما في الثالثة فقد أكدت الصين وروسيا والشرق عموماً انّ الخلافات الاستراتيجية والسياسية لا تثنيهم عن تقديم المساعدات الإنسانية حتى للخصوم والأعداء، وانّ حاجة ومصلحة الإنسان كإنسان تتقدّم على أيّ اعتبار، وبذلك قدّمت هذه الأطراف نموذجاً فذاً عن التصرّف الإنساني خلافاً للتصرّف الغربي المعادي للإنسانية.

4

ـ أما في الرابعة فقد كانت الفضيحة الكارثة، حيث انهارت صورة أميركا على وجوه ثلاثة… الأول داخلي حيث ظهر وهن الروابط الوطنية بين الولايات الأميركية ما ينذر بالتفكك، وعلى الصعيد التحالفي حيث ظهرت الخفة وعدم الاكتراث بمصائب الشركاء، أما الجريمة الكبرى فقد كانت في الأداء الأميركي ضدّ الخصوم خاصة سورية وإيران اللتين تتعرّضان لعقوبات أميركية إجرامية تفرضها أميركا خلافاً لقواعد القانون الدولي، حيث أصرّ ترامب على تشديد العقوبات بدلاً من وقفها ومنع عن إيران وسورية حاجاتهما من الدواء والمواد الأولية التي تستعمل في تصنيعه او في المجال البحثي لإنتاجه، ورأى في الوباء فرصة نادرة لتجعل العقوبات أكثر فعالية في تركيع الدولتين ما يعني أنّ ترامب انْ لم يكن هو مطلق الفايروس فهو مستثمر به بكلّ تأكيد.

لهذا نرى أنّ السلوك الأميركي في التمسك بالعقوبات على سورية وإيران، رغم الطلبات والمناشدات الدولية لرفعها وحتى من الداخل الأميركي، يُعتبر جريمة يؤدّي ارتكابها إلى منع التصدي لوباء بل يسهم في انتشاره، جريمة تتطابق عناصرها مع عناصر جريمة الإبادة الجماعية التي لا تسقط بمرور الزمن وتوجب أن لا يفلت مرتكبها من العقاب. فترامب ومن خلال إصراره على العقوبات ضدّ سورية وإيران وغيرهما رغم التهديد الوبائي الخطير الذي تتعرّضان له إنما يرتكب جريمة ضدّ الإنسانية لا يمكن اعتبارها جزءاً من حروبه ضدّ الدولتين بل تشكل ملفاً قائماً بذاته منفصلاً عن كلّ ما عداه، ملفاً بعنوان “جرائم ضدّ الإنسانية” بحق شعبي سورية وإيران، جرائم تحيل مرتكبها إلى مجرم دولي لا يستحق أن يوكل إليه شأن في قيادة العالم…

*أستاذ جامعي وخبير استراتيجي.

هل نحن أمام أفول الإمبراطورية الأميركية؟

د. ميادة ابراهيم رزوق

برزت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية كإمبراطورية وقوة عالمية دخلت مرحلة السيطرة والسعي نحو الهيمنة على العالم بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، وتمثل ذلك بقوتها العسكرية التي بلغت ذروتها مع تفجير القنبلتين النوويتين الشهيرتين، وكان هذا الحدث بمثابة الإعلان عن ميلاد تلك الإمبراطورية وضرورة تنبّه دول العالم المؤثرة فيه تحديداً للانصياع لإرادتها دولياً، حيث كانت أول من صنع أسلحة الدمار الشامل، وأكثر دولة تمتلك انتشاراً للأساطيل الحربية في البحار والمحيطات، والقواعد العسكرية الثابتة في أرجاء المعمورة، بالإضافة إلى قوّتها الاقتصادية التي تجسّدت من خلال إنشاء صندوق النقد الدولي، والبنك الدولي، ومنظمة التجارة العالمية، وفرضها للدولار كعملة دولية أولى غير قابلة للمنافسة ومهيمنة على التجارة الدولية والاقتصاد العالمي، كما أنشأت الأمم المتحدة مع الحلفاء، وأصبحت هذه المنظمة أداة لتنفيذ السياسات الأميركية بغطاء دولي.

تغوّلت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية أكثر بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي وزوال القطبية الثنائية، فتصرّفت بغطرسة منفردة مع دول العالم، وحاولت أن تفرض على الجميع ثقافتها واسلوبها بنظام جديد يعتمد على العولمة، يتنكر للأديان ويهدّد الهوية الثقافية والوطنية لشعوب العالم الثالث بغزو فكري ثقافي اقتصادي.

ورغم مرور أكثر من مئة عام على خطاب الرئيس الأميركي «وودرو ويلسون» الذي ألقاه في العام 1916 بمناسبة بداية ولايته الرئاسية الثانية، حيث تنسب إليه مقولة إنّ «علم أميركا ليس علمها وحدها، بل هو علم الإنسانية جمعاء”، إلا أنّ هذه النبوءة لم تتحقق، لم يصبح علم الولايات المتحدة الأميركية علماً للإنسانية، بل أصبح علماً للشرّ وقتل الشعوب والغطرسة ونهب خيرات الدول، صار وجهاً قبيحاً للعنصرية والتمييز والتوحش.

وظلّ هاجس السياسة الأميركية في الحفاظ على تلك الإمبراطورية، وتوسيع الهيمنة والسيطرة الاقتصادية على العالم مع اعتبار أنّ كلاً من روسيا الاتحادية والصين يشكلان الخطر الأكبر على الأمن القومي الأميركي، واستمرّ النزاع والتصادم بين المعسكرين البارزين (الولايات المتحدة الأميركية – الليبرالية من جهة، وروسيا الاتحادية والصين – الاشتراكي من جهة أخرى)، وكانت السمة الأساسية لهذا النزاع هي المصالح الاقتصادية والسياسية والتنافس على النفوذ على مناطق واسعة من العالم في الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا وجنوب شرق آسيا وحتى أوروبا الشرقية، وضمن هذا النزاع يتموضع الصراع بين إيران والولايات المتحدة الأميركية على منابع النفط وتأمين طرق الملاحة وأمن الكيان الصهيوني أحد أهمّ مصالح الولايات المتحدة الأميركية الحيوية بالشرق الأوسط، دون تجاهل النهج الايديولوجي الذي يتبناه كليهما بخطابهما السياسي المعادي بالضرورة لبعضهما.

وصل هذا النزاع والصراع ذروته مع بداية هذا العام بتكسر العديد من أنياب ومخالب الولايات المتحدة الأميركية في أفغانستان والعراق بحروبها المباشرة، أو في سورية وإيران ولبنان عبر الحرب الناعمة والذكية، وعجزها مجدّداً من الدخول في أية حرب غير قادرة على تحمّل أكلافها باختلال ميزان القوى السياسية والاقتصادية والعسكرية لصالح روسيا والصين وإيران، وتفكك حلفها الذي ينوء تحت أزماته الاقتصادية والسياسية بدءاً من المملكة العربية السعودية الغارقة في المستنقع اليمني وصراعاتها داخل الأسرة الحاكمة، ومروراً بالكيان الصهيوني وأزماته الداخلية، وليس انتهاء بدول الاتحاد الأوروبي، وحرب أسعار النفط وجائحة كورونا التي أرست قواعد ركود وكساد اقتصادي عالمي، وعرّت مجموعة من الحقائق المستترة لدول الغرب النيوليبرالي الذي يرفع شعارات حقوق الإنسان والديمقراطية، وقد سبق ذلك الهروب الأميركي إلى الوراء على قاعدة الانعزالية والحمائية من خلال الانسحاب من العديد من الاتفاقيات والمعاهدات الدولية كمنظمة التجارة العالمية، واتفاقية المناخ، والاتفاق النووي الإيراني، وتمويل حلف شمال الأطلسي لانتهاء دوره الوظيفي المطلوب، والتحوّل من الاقتصاد الافتراضي المعولم باتجاه الاقتصاد التقليدي الذي يعيد فرض الرسوم الجمركية على الواردات الأميركية، وكلّ ذلك وفقاً لشعار دونالد ترامب الانتخابي «أميركا أولا».

ومع الوصول إلى وباء كورونا وتفشيه في العالم بدأت الدول تفصح عن كينونتها وروائزها وحقيقة دورها وعقائدها بين النيوليبرالية الغربية المتوحشة التي فضلت المنطق المادي على المنطق الإنساني، وبين دول الشرق التي أولت أهمية للحياة والروح البشرية، بين شريعة الغاب الرأسمالية التي تبغي الربح دون اعتبارات إنسانية وتستمرّ في ممارسة سياسة الحصار والعقوبات والإرهاب ضدّ الدول التي تعارض سياستها وخاصة إيران وفنزويلا وكوبا لمنع وصول الخدمات الطبية التي تساعدها في مكافحة الوباء، وبين روح الشرق الإنسانية التي تمثلت بروسيا والصين وإيران التي قدّمت المساعدات والمعدات والخبرات الطبية لأكثر من 80 دولة في العالم للسيطرة على هذا الوباء ومكافحته دون النظر إلى اعتبارات مادية أو خلافات سياسية.

ـ فهل نحن بعد كورونا أمام عالم جيوسياسي جديد تسيطر عليه المفاهيم الروحانية والإنسانية والبعد القيمي الأخلاقي؟

ـ هل نحن أمام تفكك الاتحاد الأوروبي كما ظهر حاله خلال فترة مكافحة وباء كورونا؟ بالإضافة إلى تبعيته للقرار والهيمنة الأميركية…

ـ هل نحن أمام إفلاس العديد من الشركات الأميركية المالية والصناعية؟

ـ هل نحن أمام أفول الإمبراطورية الأميركية وانكفائها نحو تطبيق «شعار أميركا أولا»؟

تساؤلات برسم قادم الأيام بعد زمن كورونا…

ماذا يُغيّر «كورونا» في العالم؟

سعاده مصطفى أرشيد

انطلاقاً من قواعد النسبية وأن لا وجود لخير مطلق أو شر مطلق في العالم المحسوس، وبعيداً عن مالتوس ونظريته السكانية، وعن نظريات المؤامرة التي تزدهر في مثل هذه الأوقات، نتساءل ونحن نرى هذا الوباء يفترس النفوس البشرية، ويذهب بالناس وآمالهم وأحلامهم وأموالهم باتجاهات مجهولة، فهل يمكن الأخذ بنسبية الأشياء والقول إنّ الوباء من الممكن له أن يكون سبباً في انفراج بعض من أزمات عالمنا العربي ومشرقنا المثقل بالهموم، والتي لا تقلّ وحشية وفتكاً وبالآثار المدمّرة على مستقبل أبنائنا من الوباء. وهل ستكون سبباً في تغيّر دولي شامل، عندما ينهار هذا العالم ويقوم على أنقاضه عالم جديد، خاصة بعد أن رأى الجميع أنّ هنالك ما هو أخطر من الحرب، فهذا الفيروس الذي لا يُرى بالعين المجردة وإنما يحتاج إلى تكبيره بالمجاهر المخبريّة الدقيقة عشرات آلاف المرات، أصبح أقوى وأخطر من كلّ أنواع البنادق والطائرات الحربية والصواريخ الذكية والقنابل الذرية والهيدروجينية وما يليها من أسلحة الموت والدمار.

منذ سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي وتفككه في مطلع التسعينيات من القرن الماضي ترافق مع انهياره سقوط النظام العالمي الذي ساد منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية، وهو نظام القطبية الثنائية، ليصبح العالم أمام نظام القطب الواحد بقيادة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية. خضع العالم للنظام الجديد الذي أبدى قوة وجبروتاً وأثبت أنه يملك قوى غير مسبوقة في مجالات السياسة والاقتصاد والعلم والتسلح، إضافة إلى انعدام في القيم ووصلف ووقاحة وقدرة غير مسبوقة أيضاً في الكذب وتزييف الحقائق التي كان العالم مضطراً إلى تصديقها ولو على مضض كما رأينا في روايته عن أسلحة الدمار الشامل الوهمية في العراق، على سبيل المثال لا الحصر، وما ترتب على هذا الادّعاء من تدمير بلد عمره يزيد عن ستة آلاف عام بثرواته وآثاره وسكانه، لم يكن بالمكان تصوّر أن يمارس هذا القدر من التوحّش على أعتاب القرن الحادي والعشرين وفي ظلّ التطور في عالم الاتصال ونقل الأخبار. صمد نظام القطب الواحد حتى الآن أمام محاولات عديدة جادة لإقامة نظام متعدد الأقطاب، ولا زال يرفض التخلي عن أحاديته فيما الأطراف الأخرى لا زالت تحاول فرض رؤيتها وتحقق بعض النجاح، وإذا كان عالم ما بعد وباء كورونا ليس كما قبله، فإنّ فرصة تلوح في الأفق لبداية أفول النفوذ الأميركي الأحادي، لصالح نظام دولي جديد متعدّد الأقطاب، يضع حداً للنظام القديم وانحطاطه وتغوّله على العالم، خاصة مع الأداء السيّئ للإدارات الأميركية المتعاقبة قبل الإدارة الحالية والأسوأ فيها هذه الإدارة. لن تبدي إدارة ترامب الاهتمام بالشعب الأميركي وسلامته، بفقرائه وعماله وأقلياته، وقد تجاوز عدد المصابين بالوباء حاجز المئة ألف عند كتابة هذا المقال، وإنما بالأثرياء منه وبأرباحهم وامتيازاتهم. لن تهرع هذه الإدارة للوقوف مع العالم الذي تقوده، أو حتى مع أصدقائها وحلفائها الذين داروا في مجالها المغناطيسي منذ عام 1945، ماذا سيكون مصير هذا الحلف بعد أن رأى الطليان والإسبان وباقي الأعضاء في حلف الناتو كيف تعاملت الإدارة الأميركية معهم في أزمة الوباء؟ وماذا تجدي القواعد الأميركية والمناورات العسكرية المشتركة طالما يتمّ التخلي عنهم بدلاً من دعمهم والوقوف إلى جانبهم في الحرب ضدّ كورونا؟ الرئيس الأميركي وإدارته غير منشغلين بمصير الطليان والإسبان وغيرهم وإنما يشغلهم بقاء الرئيس الفنزويلي الذي اختاره شعبه بملء إرادته الحرة لوراثة ابو فنزويلا الحديثه الراحل تشافيز، وقد أعلنت الإدارة الأميركية عن مكافأة 15 مليون دولار لمن يدلي بمعلومات تساهم باعتقال الرئيس مادورو بتهم لا يصدّقها أحد.

أما في القارة العجوز والتي تنازلت عن دورها للولايات المتحدة بسبب ما لحق بها من خراب نتيجة الحرب العالمية الثانية، فقد كان لها محاولات مبكرة للانفكاك عن الولايات المتحدة، وكان للرئيس الفرنسي المتميّز شارل ديغول رؤيته التي ترفض أن ترى فرنسا خارج نادي الكبار، ولكنه أدرك أنّ ذلك لا يمكن أن يكون إلا إذا استطاعت حشد أوروبا من خلفها والى جانبها، فعمل جاهداً على إنشاء المجموعة الأوروبية (السوق الأوروبية المشتركة) والتي مرّت بمراحل تطوّر عديدة حتى انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي، حيث اعلن عن ولادة الاتحاد الأوروبي وتمّ توقيع اتفاقية ماسترخت، في هذا الاتحاد تتنازل الدولة القومية العضو لصالح الاتحاد عن سياساتها الخارجية والدفاعية والنقدية وفي الصيد البحري والزراعة، وتكثف التعاون في السياسات القانونية والداخلية، وإثر ذلك استبدلت العملات القومية باليورو وتم توحيد تأشيرات الدخول لدول الاتحاد باتفاقية (شنغن). حافظ الاتحاد على وحدته وتماسكه برغم الإزعاج البريطاني الذي خرج من الاتحاد عام 2016.

لم تثن الرياح والعواصف الاتحاد منذ عام 1992 لا بل استطاع الثبات والمواجهة، إلى أن أتى الوباء ليصيبه كما أصاب بني الإنسان، فقد انكشفت عوراته وهشاشته وظهر أنه كان يختفي وراء قشرة رقيقة، وأنه اتحاد الضرورة والمصالح العاجلة أكثر منه اتحاد القناعة والمصير المشترك والعقيدة الراسخة، فمثلما أحبطت الولايات المتحدة إيطاليا وباقي دول حلف الناتو، نرى أنّ دول الاتحاد بدورها قامت بدور شبيه في إحباط الطليان الذين لم يجدوا عند شركائهم الدعم والمساندة، وأكثر ما صدر عن هؤلاء الشركاء ما نسب إلى المستشارة الالمانية إنجيلا ميركل من أنها تتعاطف بشدة مع المواطنين الإيطاليين في أزمتهم، ولكنها لم تضف إلى تعاطفها شيئاً من (القطران) على شكل دواء أو معدات أو غذاء أو مال أو أيّ شيء يدعو المواطنين الإيطاليين للصمود في وجه المحنة التي يواجهون لدرجة جعلت من رئيس الوزراء الايطالي يحذر من أنّ الاتحاد الأوروبي قد يفقد مبرّرات وجوده بسبب التقاعس الذي أبداه الشركاء في الاتحاد في نجدة بلاده.

هكذا يبدو وضع الاتحاد هشاشة وضعفاً وبوادر انحلال، وستعود الأمم الاوروبية إلى قومياتها الأصلية وتدع أوهام بناء عالم أوروبي قادر على نطاح القوى التي تطلّ برأسها لقيادة العالم، وقريباً قد يختفي اليورو ويعود الألماني إلى المارك والفرنسي إلى الفرنك والنمساوي إلى الشلن والإيطالي إلى اللير.

*سياسيّ فلسطينيّ مقيم في الضفة الغربيّة.

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