Japan’s prime minister visits Washington this week and will face questions about confronting China. “نيويورك تايمز”: اليابان تواجه ضغوطاً أميركية لمواجهة الصين


Japan’s prime minister visits Washington this week and will face questions about confronting China.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan will arrive in the United States on Thursday.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan will arrive in the United States on Thursday.Credit…Sadayuki Goto/Kyodo News, via Associated Press

TOKYO — As he visits Washington this week, it would seem as if Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan could take a victory lap.

Mr. Suga is the first foreign leader to be invited to the White House by President Biden, who has vowed to reinvigorate alliances. Japan already had the distinction last month of being the first international destination for the new U.S. secretaries of state and defense. And Mr. Suga will not have to contend with threats of higher tariffs or the need for constant flattery that drove Mr. Biden’s mercurial predecessor.

But even as relations between the two countries are calming, Japan faces a perilous moment, with the United States prodding it to more squarely address the most glaring threat to stability in Asia: China.

The second White House invitation to a foreign leader, not coincidentally, went to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, who is expected to visit in May, Mr. Biden’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said on Thursday.

The meetings with both leaders, Ms. Psaki said, will emphasize “shared coordination and cooperation” on China policy, as well as the mutual “commitment to the denuclearization of North Korea” and other issues of regional security.

The meeting with Japan’s leader is a step in a now-familiar dance between the two nations. Ever since the United States forged an alliance with Japan during its postwar occupation, Tokyo has sought reassurance of protection by Washington, while Washington has nudged Tokyo to do more to secure its own defense.

For decades during the Cold War, the pre-eminent threats seemed to come from Europe. Now, as Mr. Suga goes to Washington, Japan confronts encroaching dangers in its own backyard.

“We’re in a completely new era where the threat is focused on Asia, and Japan is on the front line of that threat,” said Jennifer Lind, an associate professor of government at Dartmouth College who is a specialist in East Asian international security.

“The U.S.-Japan alliance is at a crossroads,” Ms. Lind said. “The alliance has to decide how do we want to respond to the growing threat from China and to the Chinese agenda for international order.”

China has repeatedly ignored diplomatic or legal efforts to contain its aggressive actions in both the South China and East China Seas, and some say Japan needs to be more specific about what it might do in the event of a military conflict.

Perhaps the biggest risk is in the Taiwan Strait, where China has been dispatching warplanes to menace the democratic island, which Beijing considers a rogue territory.

— Motoko Rich and Glenn Thrush

JAPAN-U.S. RELATIONS

Read the full article about what to watch as Japan’s prime minister visits Washington.


“نيويورك تايمز”: اليابان تواجه ضغوطاً أميركية لمواجهة الصين

الكاتب: موتوكو ريتش وغلين ثراش

المصدر: نيويورك تايمز اليوم 16-4-2021

تميزت اليابان الشهر الماضي بكونها الوجهة الدولية الأولى لوزيري الخارجية والدفاع الأميركيين الجديدين.

رئيس الوزراء الياباني يوشيهيدي سوغا قبل توجهه إلى الولايات المتحدة الخميس.
رئيس الوزراء الياباني يوشيهيدي سوغا قبل توجهه إلى الولايات المتحدة الخميس

قالت صحيفة “نيويورك تايمز” إن رئيس الوزراء الياباني يوشيهيدي سوغا يزور وانشطن هذا الأسبوع، وهو أول زعيم أجنبي يدعى إلى البيت الأبيض من قبل الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن الذي تعهد بتنشيط التحالف بين الدولتين. 

وقد تميزت اليابان بالفعل الشهر الماضي بكونها الوجهة الدولية الأولى لوزيري الخارجية والدفاع الأميركيين الجديدين. ولن يضطر السيد سوغا إلى مواجهة التهديدات بفرض رسوم جمركية أعلى أو الحاجة إلى الإطراء المستمر كما كان الحال مع سلف بايدن الزئبقي، الرئيس دونالد ترامب.

وأضافت الصحيفة أنه فيما تصبح العلاقات بين البلدين أكثر دفئاً، تواجه اليابان لحظة محفوفة بالمخاطر حيث تضغط الولايات المتحدة على السيد سوغا للتعامل بشكل أكثر صراحة مع الصين، الذي تعتبره التهديد الأوضح للاستقرار في آسيا.

وقالت المتحدثة باسم بايدن، جين ساكي، يوم الخميس، إن دعوة البيت الأبيض الثانية لزعيم أجنبي، وليس من قبيل الصدفة، ذهبت إلى الرئيس الكوري الجنوبي مون جاي إن، الذي من المتوقع أن يزوره في أيار / مايو المقبل.

وقالت السيدة ساكي إن الاجتماعات مع الزعيمين ستركز على “التنسيق والتعاون المشترك” بشأن سياسة الصين، فضلاً عن “الالتزام المتبادل بنزع السلاح النووي لكوريا الشمالية” وقضايا أخرى تتعلق بالأمن الإقليمي.

ويعد اجتماع الرئيس الأميركي مع زعيم اليابان خطوة مألوفة الآن بين البلدين. فمنذ أن أقامت الولايات المتحدة تحالفاً مع اليابان أثناء احتلالها بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، سعت طوكيو إلى إعادة التأكيد على الحماية من قبل واشنطن، بينما حضت واشنطن طوكيو على بذل المزيد من الجهد لتأمين دفاعها الخاص عن نفسها. فعلى مدى عقود خلال الحرب الباردة، بدا أن التهديدات البارزة تأتي من أوروبا. الآن، بينما يذهب السيد سوغا إلى واشنطن، تواجه اليابان مخاطر عدوانية في فنائها الخلفي.

وقالت جينيفر ليند، الأستاذة المشاركة في الشؤون الحكومية في كلية دارتموث والمتخصصة في الأمن الدولي لشرق آسيا: “إننا في حقبة جديدة تماماً حيث يتركز التهديد على آسيا، واليابان على خط المواجهة في مواجهة هذا التهديد”.

وأضافت ليند أن “التحالف بين الولايات المتحدة واليابان على مفترق طرق. فعلى هذا التحالف أن يقرر كيف يريد أن يرد على التهديد المتنامي القادم من الصين وعلى الأجندة الصينية للنظام الدولي.”

وزعمت “نيويورك تايمز” أن الصين قد تجاهلت مراراً الجهود الدبلوماسية والقانونية لاحتواء أفعالها العدوانية في كل من بحر الصين الجنوبي وبحر الصين الشرقي، وأن البعض يقول إن اليابان تحتاج أن تكون أكثر تحديداً حول ما يمكن أن تفعله في حال حدوث نزاع عسكري.

وقد يكون الخطر الأكبر في مضيق تايوان حيث ترسل الصين طائراتها الحربية فوقه لتهديد الجزيرة التي تعتبرها الصين منفصلة وتطالب بعودتها إلى سيادتها.

وقالت الصحيفة إن الاقتصاديين يتوقعون أن تعلن الصين أن اقتصادها نما بنسبة بين 18 و19 في المائة في الأشهر الثلاثة الأولى من هذا العام 2021، مقارنة بالفترة نفسها من العام 2020، مشيرة إلى أن ذلك رقم مذهل يُظهر الطفرة الملحوظة في الاقتصاد الصيني بعد تفشي الوباء.

نقله إلى العربية: الميادين نت

America’s Neoliberal Financialization Policy vs. China’s Industrial Socialism

America’s Neoliberal Financialization Policy vs. China’s Industrial Socialism

April 15, 2021

By Michael Hudson and posted with special permission

Nearly half a millennium ago Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince described three options for how a conquering power might treat states that it defeated in war but that “have been accustomed to live under their own laws and in freedom: … the first is to ruin them, the next is to reside there in person, the third is to permit them to live under their own laws, drawing a tribute, and establishing within it an oligarchy which will keep it friendly to you.”[1]

Machiavelli preferred the first option, citing Rome’s destruction of Carthage. That is what the United States did to Iraq and Libya after 2001. But in today’s New Cold War the mode of destruction is largely economic, via trade and financial sanctions such as the United States has imposed on China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and other designated adversaries. The idea is to deny them key inputs, above all in essential technology and information processing, raw materials, and access to bank and financial connections, such as U.S. threats to expel Russia from the SWIFT bank-clearing system.

The second option is to occupy rivals. This is done only partially by the troops in America’s 800 military bases abroad. But the usual, more efficient occupation is by U.S. corporate takeovers of their basic infrastructure, owning their most lucrative assets and remitting their revenue back to the imperial core.

President Trump said that he wanted to seize Iraq’s and Syria’s oil as reparations for the cost of destroying their society. His successor, Joe Biden, sought in 2021 to appoint Hillary Clinton’s loyalist Neera Tanden to head the government’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). She had urged that America should make Libya turn over its vast oil reserves as reparations for the cost of destroying its society. “We have a giant deficit. They have a lot of oil. Most Americans would choose not to engage in the world because of that deficit. If we want to continue to engage in the world, gestures like having oil rich countries partially pay us back doesn’t seem crazy to me.”[2]

U.S. strategists have preferred Machiavelli’s third option: To leave the defeated adversary nominally independent but to rule via client oligarchies. President Jimmy Carter’s national-security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski referred to them as “vassals,” in the classical medieval meaning of demanding loyalty to their American patrons, with a common interest in seeing the subject economy privatized, financialized, taxed and passed on to the United States for its patronage and support, based on a mutuality of interest against local democratic assertion of nationalistic self-reliance and keeping the economic surplus at home to promote domestic prosperity instead of being sent abroad.

That policy of privatization by a client oligarchy with its own source of wealth based on the U.S. orbit is what American neoliberal diplomacy accomplished in the former Soviet economies after 1991 to secure its Cold War victory over Soviet Communism. The way in which client oligarchies were created was a grabitization that utterly disrupted the economic interconnections integrating the economies. “To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires,” Brzezinski explained, “the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”[3]

After reducing Germany and Japan to vassalage after defeating them in World War II, U.S. diplomacy quickly reduced the Britain and its imperial sterling area to vassalage by 1946, followed in due course by the rest of Western Europe and its former colonies. The next step was to isolate Russia and China, while keeping “the barbarians from coming together.” If they were to join up, warned Mr. Brzezinski, “the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power.”[4]

By 2016, Brzezinski saw Pax Americana unravelling from its failure to achieve these aims. He acknowledged that the United States “is no longer the globally imperial power.”[5] That is what has motivated its increasing antagonism toward China and Russia, along with Iran and Venezuela.

TRANSITION: the problem was not Russia, whose Communist nomenklatura let their country be ruled by a Western-oriented kleptocracy, but China. The U.S.-China confrontation is not simply a national rivalry, but a conflict of economic and social systems. The reason why today’s world is being plunged into an economic and near-military Cold War 2.0 is to be found in the prospect of socialist control of what Western economies since classical antiquity have treated as privately owned rent-yielding assets: money and banking (along with the rules governing debt and foreclosure), land and natural resources, and infrastructure monopolies.

This contrast in whether money and credit, land and natural monopolies will be privatized and duly concentrated in the hands of a rentier oligarchy or used to promote general prosperity and growth has basically become one of finance capitalism and socialism. Yet in its broadest terms this conflict existed already 2500 years ago. in the contrast between Near Eastern kingship and the Greek and Roman oligarchies. These oligarchies, ostensibly democratic in superficial political form and sanctimonious ideology, fought against the concept of kingship. The source of that opposition was that royal power – or that of domestic “tyrants” – might sponsor what Greek and Roman democratic reformers were advocating: cancellation of debts to save populations from being reduced to debt bondage and dependency (and ultimately to serfdom), and redistribution of lands to prevent its ownership from becoming polarized and concentrated in the hands of creditors and-landlords.

From today’s U.S. vantage point, that polarization is the basic dynamic of today’s U.S.-sponsored neoliberalism. China and Russia are existential threats to the global expansion of financialized rentier wealth. Today’s Cold War 2.0 aims to deter China and potentially other counties from socializing their financial systems, land and natural resources, and keeping infrastructure utilities public to prevent their being monopolized in private hands to siphon off economic rents at the expense of productive investment in economic growth.

The United States hoped that China might be as gullible as the Soviet Union and adopt neoliberal policy permitting its wealth to be privatized and turned into rent-extracting privileges, to be sold off to Americans. “What the free world expected when it welcomed China into the free trade body [the World Trade Organization] in 2001,” explained Clyde V. Prestowitz Jr, trade advisor in the Reagan administration, was that, “from the time of Deng Xiaoping’s adoption of some market methods in 1979 and especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 … increased trade with and investment in China would inevitably lead to the marketization of its economy, the demise of its state-owned enterprises.”[6]

But instead of adopting market-based neoliberalism, Mr. Prestowitz complained, China’s government supported industrial investment and kept money and debt control in its own hands. This government control was “at odds with the liberal, rules-based global system” along the neoliberal lines that had been imposed on the former Soviet economies after 1991. “More fundamentally,” Prestowitz summed up:

China’s economy is incompatible with the main premises of the global economic system embodied today in the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and a long list of other free trade agreements. These pacts assume economies that are primarily market based with the role of the state circumscribed and micro-economic decisions largely left to private interests operating under a rule of law. This system never anticipated an economy like China’s in which state-owned enterprises account for one-third of production; the fusion of the civilian economy with the strategic-military economy is a government necessity; five year economic plans guide investment to targeted sectors; an eternally dominant political party names the CEOs of a third or more of major corporations and has established party cells in every significant company; the value of the currency is managed, corporate and personal data are minutely collected by the government to be used for economic and political control; and international trade is subject to being weaponized at any moment for strategic ends.

This is jaw-dropping hypocrisy – as if the U.S. civilian economy is not fused with its own military-industrial complex, and does not manage its currency or weaponize its international trade as a means of achieving strategic ends. It is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, a fantasy depicting American industry as being independent of government. In fact, Prestowitz urged that “Biden should invoke the Defense Production Act to direct increased U.S.-based production of critical goods such as medicines, semiconductors, and solar panels.”

While U.S. trade strategists juxtapose American “democracy” and the Free World to Chinese autocracy, the major conflict between the United States and China has been the role of government support for industry. American industry grew strong in the 19th century by government support, just as China is now providing. That was the doctrine of industrial capitalism, after all. But as the U.S. economy has become financialized, it has de-industrialized. China has shown itself to be aware of the risks in financialization, and has taken measures to attempt to contain it. That has helped it achieve what used to be the U.S. ideal of providing low-priced basic infrastructure services.

Here is the U.S. policy dilemma: Its government is supporting industrial rivalry with China, but also supports financialization and privatization of the domestic economy – the very policy that it has used to control “vassal” countries and extract their economic surplus by rent-seeking.

Why U.S. finance capitalism treats China’s socialist economy as an existential treat

Financialized industrial capital wants a strong state to serve itself, but not to serve labor, consumers, the environment or long-term social progress at the cost of eroding profits and rents.

U.S. attempts to globalize this neoliberal policy are driving China to resist Western financialization. Its success provides other countries with an object lesson of why to avoid financialization and rent-seeking that adds to the economy’s overhead and hence its cost of living and doing business.

China also is providing an object lesson in how to protect its economy and that of its allies from foreign sanctions and related destabilization. Its most basic response has been to prevent an independent domestic or foreign-backed oligarchy from emerging. That has been one first and foremost by maintaining government control of finance and credit, property and land tenure policy in government hands with a long-term plan in mind.

Looking back over the course of history, this retention is how Bronze Age Near Eastern rulers prevented an oligarchy from emerging to threaten Near Eastern palatial economies. It is a tradition that persisted down through Byzantine times, taxing large aggregations of wealth to prevent a rivalry with the palace and its protection of a broad prosperity and distribution of self-support land.

China also is protecting its economy from U.S.-backed trade and financial sanctions and economic disruption by aiming at self-sufficiency in essentials. That involves technological independence and ability to provide enough food and energy resources to support an economy that can function in isolation from the unipolar U.S. bloc. It also involves decoupling from the U.S. dollar and from banking systems linked to it, and hence from U.S. ability to impose financial sanctions. Associated with this aim is creation of a domestic computerized alternative to the SWIFT bank-clearing system.

The dollar still accounts for 80 percent of all global transactions, but less than half of today’s Sino-Russian trade, and the proportion is declining, especially as Russian firms avoid dollarized payments or accounts from being seized by U.S. sanctions.

These protective moves limit the U.S. threat to Machiavelli’s first option: destroy the world if it does not submit to U.S.-sponsored financialized rent extraction. But as Vladimir Putin has framed matters: “Who would want to live in a world without Russia?”

Kin Chi: My quick comment: The USA surely would want to destroy its rival, taking the first option. But it knows it is impossible to succeed, even in the case of Russia, and not to mention China. Thus it hopes for the rival to disintegrate from within, or for substantial interest blocs from within to be complicit with US interests. Hence we need to assess how Russia and China are reacting to this challenge, given that there are multiple contesting forces within each country. And that is also why we have been very concerned with pro-US neo-liberal political economists and policy-makers in these two countries.

I agree with you that China has put much investment into infrastructure and industry. However, we have been concerned with China’s financialization moves. Hence your statement that “China has avoided financialization” may not be the actual case, as various moves have been taken in financialization, but we can say that China seems to be aware of the risks in financialization, and has taken measures to attempt to contain it, causing discontent from US financial interests which would want to see China going further down the road.

It is interesting that yesterday, the White House expressed concern over the China-Iraq use of digital RMB to settle oil accounts as this would be beyond US monitoring of transactions.

  1. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1532), Chapter 5: “Concerning the way to govern cities or principalities which lived under their own laws before they were annexed.” 
  2. Neera Tanden, “Should Libya pay us back?” memo to Faiz Shakir, Peter Juul, Benjamin Armbruster and NSIP Core, October 21, 2011. Mr. Shakir, to his credit, wrote back: “If we think we can make money off an incursion, we’ll do it? That’s a serious policy/messaging/moral problem for our foreign policy I think.” As president of the Center for American Progress, Tanden backed a 2010 proposal to cut Social Security benefits, reflecting the long-term Obama-Clinton objective of fiscal austerity at home as well as abroad. 
  3. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives (New York: 1997), p. 40. See the discussion by Pepe Escobar, “For Leviathan, It’s So Cold in Alaska,” Unz.com, March 18, 2021. 
  4. Brzezinski, ibid., p. 55. 
  5. Brzezinski, “Towards a Global Realignment,” The American Interest (April 17, 2016) For a discussion see Mike Whitney, “The Broken Checkboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire,” Counterpunch, August 25, 2016. 
  6. Clyde Prestowitz, “Blow Up the Global Trading System, Washington Monthly, March 24, 2021.. 

The Russian economy – ‘small’, ‘impotent’, ‘insignificant’: true or false?

The Russian economy – ‘small’, ‘impotent’, ‘insignificant’:  true or false?

April 02, 2021

by Arcturus Le for the Saker Blog

In the west, there is perennial bluster about the putative ‘weakness’ of the Russian economy. It is widely accepted as ‘fact’ that the Russian economy is somewhere miserably outside the ‘Top 10’ global economies by GDP, sinking ever deeper year by year towards #15, embarrassingly behind such smaller countries as South Korea, Canada, Italy and on par with countries like Spain, Australia, and Mexico. In fact, many a snarky joke is bandied about on the Atlanticist web about how ‘Russia’s economy is barely the size of Texas’, etc.

This is a total western generated fabrication. In this article, I will prove the following points: that the Russian economy is actually ranked around the top 5 (and arguably even much higher) most powerful on Earth only behind China, US, Japan, and India; that the 2014 western engineered Ruble crisis crashed the specious ‘Nominal GDP’ of Russia by half while not affecting the true GDP nor economic output of Russia—and how this was affected by the geopolitical factors of the time; and that ‘Nominal GDP’ is a spurious canard that does not apply to Russia due to the fact that Russia is a trade surplus economy, and in fact PPP GDP is the accurate way to measure economies like Russia.

First, let us prove the opening point. Around 2014, oil was pricing steadily in the ~$100-115 per barrel range, as can be seen in the graphic below. Then, in 2014 a major geopolitical crisis developed. The U.S. and the CIA staged the Ukrainian coup called ‘Euromaidan’ that overthrew the legitimate Ukrainian government in the opening months of that year. A month later, Crimea held a democratic referendum and became once again Russian. This was a massive blow to the U.S. geopolitically for which Russia had to be punished as it had now grown too strong, winning a major warm-water port in Sevastopol that could now be used to threaten the western Imperialist/Atlanticist designs in the Middle East by way of a conveniently placed fleet access to the Mediterranean.

The Atlanticists took action and with their Saudi Arabian ‘partners’ (underlings) carried out a plan to crash the price per barrel of oil in order to hurt Russia as much as possible, since its economy at the time was still a bit more dependent upon oil and not as diversified as it is today. Such large tectonic shifts take time so their designs took a year or two to fully percolate down into the markets and by 2015-2016 the price of oil crashed from the aforementioned ~$100-115 per barrel range to the ~$40-50 per barrel range, becoming roughly ~50% of its original price. This chart below clearly demonstrates.

As can be seen, at this exact same time, the Ruble to Dollar conversion rate went from a low of roughly ~37 Rubles to 1 Dollar in 2014 (chart above) soaring to the range of ~60-75 Rubles to 1 Dollar the very next year to exactly coincide with the oil price crash. Miraculously, the devaluation corresponds to the exact timeline and severity of the crash of oil—oil dropped by half from ~$100 to ~$50 and Ruble went from ~35 to ~70 against the Dollar by 2015-2016.

As can be seen by the chart below, Russian GDP according to this source was $2,060 billion in 2014, and like magic by 2016 it was reduced to $1,282 billion. This represents a roughly ~40% decrease in line with the Ruble crash.

But, did Russia change overnight in 2015-2016? Was there panic on the streets, disorder and chaos, complete depredation and disintegration of society? After all, a halving of your GDP almost overnight is of such catastrophic proportions as to be unprecedented in history. Imagine, almost overnight the U.S. GDP going from its current figures to that of its 1960 figures (when it was half of today). What kind of chaos would ensue?

Of course, no such thing occurred in Russia, in fact it was barely noticed. Why? Because, the “Nominal GDP” is a fake, currency manipulated, symbolic number that has no actual basis in reality as pertains to the Russian economy. You see, the Nominal GDP in each country is priced in U.S. Dollars. This works for countries which are Trade Deficit countries. A brief discussion of the difference between Trade Deficit and Trade Surplus must ensue in order to fully understand this point. A country which operates on a Trade Deficit (which is most country’s in the world including the U.S.) simply imports more items than it exports. It is a country that relies on importing goods from other countries to survive. The reason this is important is because, since the global financial system operates on the U.S. Dollar basis in accordance with ‘Dollar Hegemony’ i.e. the Dollar as the reserve currency of the world, this means that when your country IMPORTS items, it is pricing them usually in Dollars. So, in short, this means that the price of your country’s native currency to Dollar conversion is important.

Let’s say you are a Trade Deficit country like India, and let’s say hypothetically that the Indian Rupee converts against the Dollar at 50 Rupees to 1 Dollar. That means, if you are buying an imported item that hypothetically costs $100, if your currency is magically crashed to where the Rupee now trades at 100 Rupees to 1 Dollar, instead of that $100 item costing you (50 x 100) 5,000 Rupees, it now costs you (100 x 100) 10,000 Rupees. So, if your country / entire economy thrives on imports, then one can clearly see how a currency devaluation of 50% can destroy your economy. It means every essential item you import, items vital to the economic engine of your country, have overnight become TWICE as expensive as before. This would lead to economic devastation.

But, what if your country is a TRADE SURPLUS country, a rarer breed of highly self-sufficient economies—a list comprising only the most advanced first world nations such as Germany, Japan, China, etc. Russia is in fact amongst this distinguished list. It has one of the largest trade surpluses in the world, while the U.S. is the world’s biggest Trade Deficit, by far.

So, what happens if you are a Trade Surplus country? This means that your country Exports more than it Imports. It means, in short, that the price conversion of the Dollar to your country’s currency is irrelevant because if you are generating everything your country needs within your own borders (self-sustainability), you are naturally pricing those items you yourself create in your own currency. So, what does it matter if the Russian Ruble goes from 30 Rubles to 1 Dollar, to 1000 Rubles to 1 Dollar? If you’re Russian and you’re not importing anything that’s priced in the Dollar, and you’re buying things within your own country priced in Rubles only, then it makes literally zero difference what the Ruble trades against the Dollar. Inside the borders of your own country, a Ruble is a Ruble, its price conversion to the Dollar has no relevance.

It can be seen here that a native currency devaluation does not have much meaning to a Trade Surplus economy. When a Russian citizen goes to a store and buys items, or a Russian company orders equipment or products, they are ordering them in Rubles because Russia makes their own goods and is self-sustaining. So even if the Ruble skyrocketed to 1 million Rubles to 1 Dollar it would be meaningless if you are not buying anything priced in Dollars.

This means that when the Russian Ruble crashed against the USD in 2015-2016 following the manufactured and engineered geopolitical crisis and massive currency manipulation by the corrupt U.S. global financial system, and the Russian Nominal GDP was shown to crash the equivalent rate (because the Nominal GDP is priced in USD), it was actually meaningless and the Russian economy in fact did not take any such major hit at all. The Russian GDP was shown to devalue from ~2 trillion to 1.2 trillion almost ‘over night’ only because it is being fraudulently priced in USD. All that happened was a mathematical calculation of irrelevant Dollar conversion, but actual Russian production and economic power and output did not experience any such effect whatsoever, it was a smoke and mirrors currency manipulation that existed only in the digital bits and bytes of a computer screen.

So, if we now know that the Russian GDP calculation was incorrect, what is the true way to measure it and what is the real Russian GDP? Since we know that Nominal GDP (which is priced in USD) is a fraudulent way to measure the economic power of Trade Surplus countries like Russia, the answer lies in PPP GDP. And of course, as expected, Russian PPP GDP is so high that it was announced by the IMF itself to have overtaken Germany for the #5 spot last year.

But what is most interesting is, prior to the fake ‘on paper’ devaluation of Russian Nominal GDP following the manufactured crisis of 2014-2016, even Russian Nominal GDP was near the Top 6-8 place (depending on which source you used, IMF, Worldbank, etc.). And now we see the PPP figure matches this rightful, accurate position.

But how do we know the PPP figure is accurate? Can we prove that PPP value is more in line with Russia’s true economic standing than the Nominal GDP value? Well certainly there are a few correlational indicators that can prove this for us. There are several indirect tell-tale signs that experts can use to look past fraudulent currency manipulated GDP numbers and gauge the real economic strength and productive virility of a country.

Let’s take a look at annual oil and electricity usage by country. These are important indicators that very closely correlate with a country’s economic power for reasons that should be self-evident: the more robust one’s economy, the more that country will be utilizing oil and electricity in the daily function and growth of that economic engine.

Some may be unconvinced, until looking at the chart above and seeing how well it correlates to the typical GDP standings. The chart shows oil consumption by country and in fact, the top 10 all looks quite similar to and closely mimics the PPP GDP chart. Russia here is seen at #6 just like in the PPP economic standings (where it is either #5 or #6 depending on source), NOT in #11-15 place as the fraudulent Nominal GDP would have you believe. The skeptic might ask, well wouldn’t a large population country be misrepresented on this chart because they use a lot of oil? To answer that, take Indonesia as an example, it has a population almost double that of Russia, yet it is somewhere in the ~15th place in the oil consumption chart, and not surprisingly that also roughly reflects its place in the GDP standings as well. So, as one can see the size of your country or population count is not reflected in the oil consumption chart, in fact it correlates directly to a country’s GDP, with one or two outlier/flukes such as Saudi Arabia which appears high on the chart owing to its over-reliance on gratuitously consuming vast amounts of oil in the process of producing oil and gas in their oil centered economy. The skeptic might similarly ask, well doesn’t Russia also produce a lot of oil? Yes but in this case, as I’ve said, its position in the oil consumption perfectly matches its GDP PPP position AND there are further indicators below that lay the doubts to rest.

Now let’s look at two other indicators of a robust economy, electricity production and consumption.

As can be seen here, the figures also mimic and correlate the GDP PPP figures. The same countries that dominate the Top 10 economies are seen either producing or consuming electricity at rates that correlate to their economic power. Not coincidentally, here too we see Russia placing near the Top 5, just like in the GDP PPP and quite unlike the fraudulent ~#11-15 placement we see in Nominal GDP. Now remember, these figures are not merely a product of population size. If that was the case, then countries with far larger populations than Russia like Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, Bangladesh, and Pakistan would all be way ahead of Russia on the list of energy consumption—yet they are no where on the list. Similarly, countries with SMALLER populations like Germany would not even be in the top 10. Yet Germany is an economic power house and despite having a much smaller population than Russia, appears close to it on the list in perfect accordance with its place on the GDP PPP chart. This clearly indicates that a country’s energy production/consumption is more closely tied to its economic power than mere population size.

Another indicator we can use is total Gold Reserves. These figures also mimic economic standing as only the most economically powerful countries appear in the top 10 in roughly a similar makeup as to their official GDP standings. Gold has long been a telltale indicator of a country’s might, prestige, and economic status. In the chart below, we can see once again, Russia ranks in almost the exact position of its GDP PPP standing as in all the other charts above.

Of course we can use many other indicators, for instance, global military standings. It is widely accepted Russia is at minimum the 2nd most powerful military force on Earth, and the military standings roughly correlate with the same countries in roughly the same positions as they are economically—with the familiar faces of U.S., Russia, China, India, Japan, et al, making up the top of the list. Would you really believe that a country with the acknowledged #2 military on earth is only ranked #15 economically, as per the fraudulent, currency manipulated Nominal GDP list? It beggars all logic. Of course the only rational explanation is that only a country whose economy is in the top 5 powerhouses can maintain the 2nd most powerful military in the world.

One can see that all indicators point to Russia being in the top 5 global economies and that even the fraudulent Nominal GDP figure had Russia at #7 or #8 (depending on source) prior to the artificially engineered oil crisis and currency manipulation that plummeted the Ruble in 2014-2016.

And one last important thing to note. All this discussion revolves around speaking of the Russian economy as if in a vacuum. But one can quickly forget that the Russian economy is arguably the most flagrantly assailed, beleaguered, manipulated, and sabotaged in the world by western/Atlanticist forces. The Russian economy has been under massive sanctions, sabotage, embargoes, etc, since the 2014 crisis began, and yet I have just shown that it is still roughly at the #5 spot right next to the powerhouse of Germany. So, what does this mean? Clearly, that even under intense sabotage and global economic warfare by the entire western political and financial system, even greatly weakened by western forces, the Russian economy is still roughly even with Germany, and only “behind” the U.S., China, Japan, and India (3 of which have vastly larger populations than Russia). Which makes the obvious point that the TRUE Russian economic power, adjusted for the various sanctions and sabotage, is even greater than we can imagine, most likely well ahead of the German and arguably even the Japanese economies.

Chinese Foreign Policy Outlook

Chinese Foreign Policy Outlook

March 13, 2021

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

China achieved miraculous progress during the last four decades, which were never seen in humankind’s known history. There must be many reasons for its rapid developments, but its foreign policy was one of the significant reasons. In simple words, China opted for a reconciliation policy and avoided any confrontation with any other nation or country. It helped China to focus only on developments and achieved the desired results.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed outlooks of Chinese foreign policy and answered questions about the country’s foreign policy and external relations at a virtual press conference on Sunday during the fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature. Some of the highlights are given below:-

Pandemic

Through innovative “cloud diplomacy,” President Xi Jinping has championed solidarity in the world’s fight against COVID-19 and pointed the way forward for the international community to jointly fight the virus.

China will continue working with other countries in ongoing efforts to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has carried out its most extensive emergency humanitarian action, contributing to the world’s anti-coronavirus efforts.

On China-Russia relations

In the face of the once-in-a-century pandemic, China and Russia have stood shoulder to shoulder and worked closely to combat “both the coronavirus and the political virus.”

China and Russia should be each other’s strategic support, development opportunity, and global partner. It is both an experience gained from history and an imperative under the current circumstances.

On CPC leadership

Facts have proved that the Communist Party of China’s leadership is the most prominent political advantage of Chinese diplomacy. Leadership will offer fundamental support for China’s diplomatic agenda to secure more victories.

Wang said that China’s diplomacy is people-oriented diplomacy led by the CPC, and the Party set the direction for China’s diplomatic agenda. The original inspiration and mission of the CPC – to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation — determine China’s diplomacy’s responsibility.

On China-Africa relations

Helping African countries contain the COVID-19 pandemic and bringing their economies back on track is the top priority of the China-Africa cooperation. China will always support developing countries. China has started to provide COVID-19 vaccines to 35 African countries and the African Union Commission already.

On ‘patriots administering Hong Kong’

Hong Kong is a particular administrative region of China. One cannot talk about loving Hong Kong without loving its motherland, adding that love for the country and Hong Kong is entirely consistent. Hong Kong enjoyed no democracy during colonial rule. Since its return to the homeland 24 years ago, no one is more concerned about Hong Kong’s democratic development and wishes Hong Kong to remain prosperous and stable than the central government, he said.

On China-US relations

It is logical for China and the US, two countries with different social systems, to have differences and disagreements. “What matters most is to manage them effectively through candid communication to prevent strategic miscalculation and avoid conflict and confrontation.”

China hopes the US can remove its unreasonable restriction on bilateral cooperation as soon as possible and refrain from artificially creating new ones. China is willing to work with the US and set China-US relations on a new path of healthy and steady development.

On Taiwan question

The two sides of the Taiwan Strait must be and will surely be reunified, which is the trend of history and the entire Chinese nation’s collective will, Wang said, adding the one-China principle is the political foundation of the China-US relationship. It is considered a red line and should not be crossed. There is no room for compromise or concession from the Chinese government on the Taiwan question.

“We would hope to see a clear departure from the previous administration’s (Trump Administration) dangerous practice of ‘pushing the red line’ and ‘playing with fire, and we hope that the Taiwan question will be handled prudently and properly,” Wang said.

China stresses the UN’s core status

The UN is not a club for big or rich countries. All countries enjoy equal sovereignty, and no country is in a position to dictate international affairs, Wang said. He also urged efforts to enhance the representativeness and voice of developing countries in the UN to better reflect the common aspiration of most countries.

China, EU not systemic rivals

The China-Europe relationship is equal and open and not targeting any third party or is controlled by anyone else. China never intends to divide relations between Europe and the United States, Wang said, adding that the country is glad to see the European Union uphold multilateralism and remain devoted to coordination and cooperation among major countries.

China opposes ‘vaccine nationalism.’

China opposes “vaccine nationalism,” rejects any “vaccine divide” or any attempt to politicize vaccine cooperation. More than 60 countries have authorized the use of Chinese vaccines. China has provided COVID-19 vaccine aid free of charge to 69 developing countries urgently need while exporting vaccines to 43 countries.

On China-Arab relations

China will work with Arab states in solidarity, pursue expected progress, and prepare for a China-Arab States Summit.

In the past year, relations between China and the Arab States have continued to progress amid various challenges, Wang said, adding their joint fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has set an excellent example for international cooperation.

On multilateralism

Building small circles in the name of multilateralism is, in fact, “group politics,” multilateralism with one’s own interests taking precedence, is still unilateral thinking, and “selective multilateralism” is not the right choice.

Genuine multilateralism means openness and inclusiveness instead of closeness and exclusion. It means equal-footed consultation instead of supremacy over others.

China’s WTO accession

The past two decades had taught China four crucial lessons: China will stay committed to the fundamental policy of opening-up, remain committed to the principle of win-win cooperation, remain committed to the right direction of economic globalization, and we must stay committed to the central role of the WTO.

“China has injected energy into economic globalization and facilitated the optimization of global industry chains and resources,” he said.

On China-Japan relations

China and Japan should remain focused without being distracted by any single event to make the bilateral relations more mature and stable. China and Japan should support each other in hosting the upcoming Olympic Games this year and next year. China hopes the Japanese society would truly embrace an objective and rational perception of China to solidify public support for long-term progress in China-Japan relations.

‘Xinjiang genocide’ claim a thorough lie

The so-called claim of genocide in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is preposterous, a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives and a complete lie.

Some western politicians chose to believe in the lies cooked up by a few instead of listening to the voice of 25 million Xinjiang residents of various ethnic groups, Wang said, adding that they chose to dance with the clumsy dramas by a few anti-China forces instead of acknowledging the progress in Xinjiang.

On China-ASEAN relations

Wang said that China stands ready to develop an even closer community with a shared future with ASEAN as the two sides celebrate the 30th anniversary of establishing bilateral dialogue relations this year.

China will continue to prioritize efforts to meet vaccine demand from ASEAN and further consolidate beneficial cooperation and see that China’s new development paradigm is better to align with the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, he said.

On the Belt and Road Initiative

China’s commitment to supporting the Belt and Road Initiative has not changed, and the country will continue to work with stakeholders to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, Wang Yi said.

COVID-19 may have changed the world, but the need for Belt and Road cooperation has not subsided, he said.

“As we pursue a new development paradigm, we will explore better pathways for Belt and Road cooperation and offer greater opportunities to BRI partners,” he added.

In the new development stage

China will create a better business environment, pursue opening-up at a higher level, and work with various countries to accelerate an open world economy, Wang Yi said.

China is like an express train with the greater driving force and load capacity accelerating towards a new goal in the further development stage, he said.

On China-India relations

China stands in a firm position to solve border disputes through dialogue and consultations and, at the same time, is determined to safeguard its own sovereign interests, Wang Yi said.

Border issues are not the whole of the China-India relationship, Wang said, noting that what happened again proves that initiating confrontation will not solve the problem and that returning to peaceful negation is the right way forward.

On climate change

Even though China and the US, and the European Union are in different development stages and face other challenges, they share the same mission in coping with climate change.

Wang urged enhanced communication and coordination between the three sides. They play a leading role in the international community, adding that China welcomes the US’s return to the Paris Agreement and expects that the US will shoulder its responsibility and make its due contribution.

On Iran nuclear issue

China hopes the United States will show sincerity on the Iran nuclear issue, take actions as quickly as possible, including removing unjustified unilateral sanctions and lifting the “long-arm jurisdiction” on third-party entities and individuals, Wang Yi said.

At the same time, he said, Iran should resume compliance with the Iran nuclear deal and shoulder its responsibility of nuclear non-proliferation, Wang said.

On the South China Sea

The only intention of some Western countries, including the United States, is to stir up troubles in the South China Sea in the name of so-called free navigation and undermine peace in the South China Sea and disturb regional stability, Wang said.

He called on China and ASEAN countries to continue to remove distractions and press ahead with Code of Conduct consultations, and continue with the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

On Myanmar tensions

Relevant parties in Myanmar should maintain calm and exercise restraint, address their differences through dialogue and consultation within the constitutional and legal framework, and continue to advance the democratic transition.

“The immediate priority is to prevent further bloodshed and conflict, and ease and cool down the situation as soon as possible,” Wang said.

On China and Latin America

China is providing COVID-19 vaccines to 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries. “China and Latin American and Caribbean countries have stood alongside and supported each other in COVID-19 response and economic recovery,” he said. “Our cooperation best illustrates the saying, that ‘a bosom friend afar brings a distant land near.”

On objective coverage of China

China hopes to see and welcome more journalists in Edgar Snow’s mold in this new era among foreign journalists.

Wang Yi said he hopes that foreign journalists will not apply any filter to their camera, whether beautiful or gloomy, when reporting on China.

“Truthful, objective, and fair stories will always appeal to people and can stand the scrutiny of history,” he said. “However the world changes, the media should stand by their professional ethics.”


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).

A Brief Examination of Some Facts Related to Mass Vaccination

 BY GILAD ATZMON

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By Gilad Atzmon

The case of Israel, leading the world by far in the mass vaccination contest, doesn’t leave much maneuvering room for skeptics. Since Israel launched its vast vaccination campaign in December, it has been witnessing an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths. By now, the British Mutant has become Israel’s dominant COVID strain. Israel’s health system is on the brink of collapse.

In my article Guinea Pigs United I pointed out that the rise in cases and deaths correlates with the distribution of vaccines. In Israel, the Orthodox Jewish communities that were vaccinated en masse saw COVID cases rise 16-fold, while Israeli Arabs who at large refrained from vaccination saw numbers of COVID cases dropping sharply.

But Israel is not alone. Some other states have followed a similar path and their situation is becoming as catastrophic as the crisis we witness in the Jewish State. 

I would have loved to believe that it is not too late for Britain to postpone the current mass vaccination campaign and closely examine the possible correlation between mass vaccination and mutants.  For those who wonder, I am not against vaccines or modern medical practices, but I do contend that before a nation decides to inject a new substance into its muscle, it may want to verify what this substance is and what are the exact implications involved. It is crucial to verify, for instance, whether the rise in lethal mutations that we have seen in Britain is related to mass vaccination and the vaccine trials that have been taking place in the kingdom since the summer.  The rapid change in the age of COVID-19 cases which we see in Israel and Britain also correlates with mass vaccination. Do we know what are the implications of vaccines on pregnant women or embryos?

It is hardly a secret that those who seem to be enthusiastic about the vaccines are also claiming to be in favour of ‘good science’ or even ‘real’ science as they often refer to it. The statistical facts that are related to mass vaccination are not very promising. Examining the situation in the countries that are engaged in mass vaccination such as Israel, Britain, the USA and the UAE reveal that these countries witnessed a clear decline in COVID cases and deaths during late November and early December. However, just a few days after those countries launched their vaccination campaigns, the numbers of COVID cases and consequently deaths went through the roof.

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 In comparison, you should also examine the case of Britain’s neighbours such as France, Belgium and Holland. Those countries are subject to similar climate, urban conditions, and demography, yet COVID’s curve in these countries is completely the opposite: COVID deaths and cases that were in decline since mid-November, early December are still dropping until now.  None of these countries saw a sharp rise in cases, let alone deaths, in the given period (December, January).

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 As I was writing these lines I was informed that Portugal is also facing a COVID crisis. A brief examination of its latest data reveals that its COVID curve is identical to Britain and Israel. I obviously assumed that the current sharp rise in COVID cases is somehow related to the vaccine. A quick internet check revealed that Portugal started its mass vaccination campaign on 27 December. As you can see in the graph below, until that date the numbers of COVID cases per day were in clear decline. Yet, 3 days after the mass vaccination campaign started the numbers of cases started to grow exponentially. Portugal’s health system is now on the verge of collapse. Its situation is identical with other countries that favoured the mass vaccination path. 

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On Optimism

 Both British and Israeli governments report almost once a day about some ‘positive signs’ that may suggest that the ‘end of the pandemic’ is just behind the corner. These news are usually supported by claims about a ‘decline in cases.’ Needless to mention that reports on the ground usually contradict these optimistic suggestions.  But since we are in a scientific mode, let’s examine the ‘statistics.’

 A quick glance at British and Israeli ‘numbers’ reveal that the numbers of new cases in late January are in sharp decline, and this seems to be positive news,  yet the number of daily deaths keep climbing. This is very worrying.

death cases.jpg

However, a quick examination of other European and Middle Eastern COVID statistics in countries such as Austria, France, Germany and Jordan reveals that the graphs representing numbers of new cases and daily deaths are almost identical in shape. How do we then explain the peculiar anomaly that is reported in Israel and Britain: a ‘decline’ in cases on the one hand, a sharp exponential rise in deaths on the other?

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 One (clumsy) possible explanation is that in the mass vaccinated countries less people are contracting COVID, yet for those who do the virus is far deadlier. This would mean that that if the vaccine is producing some positive results for the vaccinated (such as immunity), the general impact on the whole of society is pretty devastating, the number of deaths is growing rapidly.

 Another explanation which I believe is far more likely is that both the British and Israeli governments are conducting less tests. This obviously leads to a reduction in the number of new verified cases. It may look good in the Guardian or the Jewish Chronicle’s headlines but unfortunately it doesn’t stop the disease or its lethal impact.  

 In Israel, mass vaccination was Bibi’s genius political ploy, except that it didn’t work very well (so far). It is more than likely that Trump also gambled on a vaccine being approved ahead of the election.  As we know, Pfizer actually announced its ‘success’ very soon after the election. Needless to mention that Boris Johnson shares one or two features with Bibi and Trump.  It is more than likely that in the USA, Israel and Britain, mass vaccination was unleashed as a political tool. Peculiarly, it is the progressive and leftist crowds who are most enthusiastic about the vaccines delivered to them by the most outlandish right wing political icons of our time.

What is it that drives certain nations to morph into testing grounds with some possible grave implications? What is it that drives some nations to the vaccine yet pushes others to be vigilant and suspicious? I will try to address these crucial questions in my next paper.

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NATO’s Attempted Infringement Of Russia’s Airspace & Maritime Borders Is Very Dangerous

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Recent attempted infringements of Russia’s airspace and maritime borders by NATO are very dangerous instances of de-facto brinksmanship intended to provoke the Eurasian Great Power into reacting in a way that could then be manipulated as the “plausible pretext” for imposing further pressure upon it.

It seems like almost every week that Russian media reports on NATO’s attempted infringement of Russian airspace and maritime borders, but two ultra-dangerous developments occurred over the past week which signify that this trend will intensify. The Russian Navy threatened to ram the USS John McCain after it aggressively passed into the country’s territorial waters near Peter the Great Bay off Vladivostok, after which it thankfully reversed its course. The second incident involved the US launching rockets into the Black Sea from Romania that are capable of reaching Crimea in a wartime scenario. These two events deserve to be discussed more in detail because of their significance to NATO’s grand strategy.

The transatlantic alliance intends to provoke the Eurasian Great Power into reacting in a way that could then be manipulated as the “plausible pretext” for imposing further pressure upon it. It amounts to de-facto brinksmanship and is therefore incredibly dangerous since both parties are nuclear powers. Furthermore, it’s the definition of unprovoked aggression since Russia doesn’t partake in symmetrical provocations against NATO. If anything, every time that it’s been dishonestly accused of such was just the country carrying out military exercises within its own borders which just so happen to abut several NATO states after the bloc extended its frontiers eastward following the end of the Old Cold War.

It’s the eastern expansion of NATO and the alliance’s recent activities in the Arctic Ocean that represent the greatest threat to peace between the two. On the eastern front, the US is once again provoking Russia in order to craft the false impression among the Japanese that Moscow is a military threat to their interests. Washington is greatly perturbed by their past couple years of technically fruitless but nevertheless highly symbolic talks over signing a peace treaty to end the Second World War and resolve what Tokyo subjectively regards as the “Northern Territories Dispute”. Moscow’s reclamation of control over the Kuril Islands following that conflict was agreed to by the Allies, but then America went back on its word in order to divide and rule the two.

Their mutual intent to enter into a rapprochement with one another could in theory occur in parallel with a similar rapprochement between Japan and China, which might altogether reduce Tokyo’s need to retain as robust of an American military presence on its islands. That in turn would weaken the US’ military posturing and therefore reduce the viability of its grand strategic designs to “contain” both multipolar countries in that theater. As regards the Arctic and Eastern European fronts, these are also part of the same “containment” policy, albeit aimed most directly against Russia and only tangentially against China’s “Polar Silk Road”.

It’s understandable that the US will continue to compete with these two rival Great Powers, but such competition must be responsibly regulated in order to avoid the unintended scenario of a war by miscalculation. It’s for that reason why the world should be alarmed by American brinksmanship against them, especially the latest developments with respect to Russia that were earlier described. All that it takes is one wrong move for everything to spiral out of control and beyond the point of no return. Regrettably, while Biden might ease some pressure on China, he’ll likely compensate by doubling down against Russia.

Trump should also take responsibility for this as well since it’s occurring during his presidency after all, even if it might possibly be in its final months if he isn’t able to thwart the Democrats’ illegal seizure of power following their large-scale defrauding of this month’s elections. He capitulated to hostile “deep state” pressure early on into this term perhaps out of the mistaken belief that “compromising” with his enemies in the permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies would result in them easing their pressure upon him on other fronts, but this gamble obviously failed since it only emboldened them to pressure him even more.

It’s unfortunate that Trump was never able to actualize his intended rapprochement with Russia for the aforementioned reasons, but he could have rebelliously defied the “deep state” after this month’s fraudulent elections by reversing his currently aggressive policy against Moscow if he truly had the political will to do so. He doesn’t, though, and this might nowadays be due more to his support of the military-industrial complex than any “deep state” pressure like it initially was. After all, war is a very profitable business, and artificially amplifying the so-called “Russia threat” by provoking Moscow into various responses could pay off handsomely.

It’s therefore extremely unlikely that this dangerous trend will change anytime in the coming future. To the contrary, it’ll likely only intensify and get much worse under a possible Biden Administration. Nevertheless, Russia doesn’t lack the resolve to defend its legitimate interests and will always do what’s needed in this respect, albeit responsibly (so long as it’s realistic to react in such a way) in order to avoid falling into the Americans’ trap. The ones who should be the most worried, then, are the US’ NATO and other “allied” vassals who stand to lose the most by getting caught in any potential crossfire for facilitating American aggression.

Nuking Itself… How Russophobia Led the U.S. to Bomb its Own Citizens

Finian Cunningham October 26, 2020

Generations of countless Americans have been contaminated and sickened by the first-ever atomic bomb test. The Trinity explosion on July 16, 1945, was carried out in the New Mexico desert. Three weeks later, two A-bombs were dropped on Japan, killing up to 200,000 people.

But the number of American victims caused by radiation fallout from the Trinity test is reckoned to be also imponderably high. The American government conducted the explosion in secret, unbeknownst to the population of New Mexico. That was in spite of warnings from Manhattan Project scientists of a high risk to public health from the extreme radiation. Without a warning to the public and because of a cover-up about the event, countless Americans were exposed to carcinogenic radiation.

In a recent interview with Karl Grossman, New Mexican resident Tina Cordova tells how her community has been campaigning for decades to find out the truth behind the Trinity test and to seek reparations from the federal government. Incredibly, there has never been a federal investigation into establishing the human health impact from that atomic test explosion. But Cordova and her community estimate that the number is huge. She is the fourth generation in her family to have suffered from cancer. Countless others tell of high numbers of infant mortality over the decades and other morbidities that stretch across the entire state of New Mexico.

A combination of factors conspired to wreak a heavy toll on the people of New Mexico. It is one of the poorest states in the U.S., with large numbers of native Americans and Latinos. In selecting the test site for the A-bomb, there was a tacit racism among planners in Washington who viewed the area and its population as expendable. By not warning the people of the explosion, local populations were given no chance to take protective measures such as evacuation or avoiding consumption of contaminated water and food produced from the soil. The people were deceived into continuing their livelihoods as normal following the explosion, drinking contaminated water and breathing radioactive air. The New York Times was instrumental in the cover-up, issuing reports that the explosion was due to a conventional munitions incident. It was only after the horrific bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 an 9 that the people of New Mexico realized what had really happened at the Trinity site. Even then they were kept in the dark by Washington stonewalling about the event for decades to come.

Still another factor that maximized the damage on public health was the rush by the American government to weaponize the A-bomb technology. As Karl Grossman points out, the rationale behind the Manhattan Project was said to be to preempt Nazi Germany. But by July 1945, Nazi Germany was defeated and imperial Japan was on its knees. The inescapable implication is that President Harry Truman and the Pentagon wanted to display the new awesome weapon of mass destruction to the Soviet Union in what would be a chilling demarcation of the postwar globe according to American power.

Truman eagerly awaited the news of the Trinity test while attending the Potsdam allies’ conference in Germany along with Britain’s Winston Churchill and the Soviet Union’s Josef Stalin. On receiving news of the successful explosion, Truman immediately adopted a more strident attitude towards Stalin. In that moment, a new Cold War was born.

Thus, it was Russophobia among the American ruling class that rushed the Trinity A-bomb explosion, even though that event would lead to generations of American citizens stricken with fatal diseases from the fallout. In a very real and frightening way, the U.S. rulers took a decision to “nuke” their own people such was their obsession with confronting the Soviet Union.

Subsequent U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 60s was conducted in remote areas of Nevada and in the Pacific Ocean. Those tests also took a deadly toll on the environment and local populations on Pacific islands.

But the recklessness and callous conditions of the New Mexico test is unparalleled in the toxic exposure it imposed on unsuspecting populations.

The stone-cold willingness to, in effect, bomb its own citizens by the federal government is a shuddering testimony as to the nefarious lengths the planners in Washington were prepared to go in their obsessive Russophobia.

When we survey the relentless fixation today in Washington and the U.S. political class with blaming Russia for all sorts of alleged malign intent, one can easily discern that this endemic Russophobia among America’s rulers has not waned.

The barbarity of what happened in New Mexico 75 years ago is alive and well. If it can be inflicted without apology on American citizens, then what does that say about the danger to the rest of the world?

The Sleeping Giant Awakes And Reveals “The West” as Lilliput

Source

The Sleeping Giant Awakes And Reveals “The West” as Lilliput

October 27, 2020

This comment was chosen by moderator SA from the post “Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep”.Comment by Ahino Wolf Sushanti

I’m from Malaysia. China has traded with Malaysia for 2000 years. In those years, they had been the world’s biggest powers many times. Never once they sent troops to take our land. Admiral Zhenghe came to Malacca five times, in gigantic fleets, and a flagship eight times the size of Christopher Columbus’ flagship, Santa Maria. He could have seized Malacca easily, but he did not. In 1511, the Portuguese came. In 1642, the Dutch came. In the 18th century the British came. We were colonised by each, one after another.

When China wanted spices from India, they traded with the Indians. When they wanted gems, they traded with the Persian. They didn’t take lands. The only time China expanded beyond their current borders was in Yuan Dynasty, when Genghis and his descendants Ogedei Khan, Guyuk Khan & Kublai Khan concurred China, Mid Asia and Eastern Europe. But Yuan Dynasty, although being based in China, was a part of the Mongolian Empire.

Then came the Century of Humiliation. Britain smuggled opium into China to dope the population, a strategy to turn the trade deficit around, after the British could not find enough silver to pay the Qing Dynasty in their tea and porcelain trades. After the opium warehouses were burned down and ports were closed by the Chinese in ordered to curb opium, the British started the opium I, which China lost. Hong Kong was forced to be surrendered to the British in a peace talk (Nanjing Treaty). The British owned 90% of the opium market in China, during that time, Queen Victoria was the world’s biggest drug baron. The remaining 10% was owned by American merchants from Boston. Many of Boston’s institutions were built with profit from opium.

After 12 years of Nanjing Treaty, the West started getting really really greedy. The British wanted the Qing government:
1. To open the borders of China to allow goods coming in and out freely, and tax free.
2. Make opium legal in China.
Insane requests, Qing government said no. The British and French, with supports from the US and Russia from behind, started Opium War II with China, which again, China lost. The Anglo-French military raided the Summer Palace, and threatened to burn down the Imperial Palace, the Qing government was forced to pay with ports, free business zones, 300,000 kilograms of silver and Kowloon was taken. Since then, China’s resources flew out freely through these business zones and ports. In the subsequent amendment to the treaties, Chinese people were sold overseas to serve as labor.

In 1900, China suffered attacks by the 8-National Alliance(Japan, Russia, Britain, France, USA, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary). Innocent Chinese civilians in Peking (Beijing now) were murdered, buildings were destroyed & women were raped. The Imperial Palace was raided, and treasures ended up in museums like the British Museum in London and the Louvre in Paris.

In late 1930’s China was occupied by the Japanese in WWII. Millions of Chinese died during the occupancy. 300,000 Chinese died in Nanjing Massacre alone.

Mao brought China together again from the shambles. There were peace and unity for some time. But Mao’s later reign saw sufferings and deaths from famine and power struggles.

Then came Deng Xiao Ping and his infamous “black-cat and white-cat” story. His preference in pragmatism than ideologies has transformed China. This thinking allowed China to evolve all the time to adapt to the actual needs in the country, instead of rigidly bounded to ideologies. It also signified the death of Communism in actually practice in China. The current Socialism+Meritocracy+Market Economy model fits the Chinese like gloves, and it propels the uprise of China. Singapore has a similar model, and has been arguably more successful than Hong Kong, because Hong Kong being gateway to China, was riding on the economic boom in China, while Singapore had no one to gain from.

In just 30 years, the CPC have moved 800 millions of people out from poverty. The rate of growth is unprecedented in human history. They have built the biggest mobile network, by far the biggest high speed rail network in the world, and they have become a behemoth in infrastructure. They made a fishing village called Shenzhen into the world’s second largest technological centre after the Silicon Valley. They are growing into a technological power house. It has the most elaborate e-commerce and cashless payment system in the world. They have launched exploration to Mars. The Chinese are living a good life and China has become one of the safest countries in the world. The level of patriotism in the country has reached an unprecedented height.

For all of the achievements, the West has nothing good to say about it. China suffers from intense anti-China propaganda from the West. Western Media used the keyword “Communist” to instil fear and hatred towards China.
Everything China does is negatively reported.

They claimed China used slave labor in making iPhones. The truth was, Apple was the most profitable company in the world, it took most of the profit, leave some to Foxconn (a Taiwanese company) and little to the labor.

They claimed China was inhuman with one-child policy. By the way absolutely recommended by the UN-Health-Organisation at that time. At the same time, they accused China of polluting the earth with its huge population. The fact is the Chinese consume just 30% of energy per capita compared to the US.

They claimed China underwent ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang. The fact is China has a policy which priorities ethnic minorities. For a long time, the ethnic minorities were allowed to have two children and the majority Han only allowed one. The minorities are allowed a lower score for university intakes. There are 39,000 mosque in China, and 2100 in the US. China has about 3 times more mosque per Muslim than the US.
When terrorist attacks happened in Xinjiang, China had two choices:
1. Re-educate the Uighur extremists before they turned terrorists.
2. Let them be, after they launch attacks and killed innocent people, bomb their homes.
China chose 1 to solve problem from the root and not to do killing. How the US solve terrorism? Fire missiles from battleships, drop bombs from the sky.

During the pandemic,
When China took extreme measures to lock-down the people, they were accused of being inhuman.
When China recovered swiftly because of the extreme measures, they were accused of lying about the actual numbers.
When China’s cases became so low that they could provide medical support to other countries, they were accused of politically motivated.
Western Media always have reasons to bash China.

Just like any country, there are irresponsible individuals from China which do bad and dirty things, but the China government overall has done very well. But I hear this comment over and over by people from the West: I like Chinese people, but the CPC is “evil”\’. What they really want is the Chinese to change the government, because the current one is too good.

Fortunately China is not a multi-party democratic country, otherwise the opposition party in China will be supported by notorious NGOs (Non-Government Organization) of the USA, like the NED (National Endowment for Democracy), to topple the ruling party. The US and the British couldn’t crack Mainland China, so they work on Hong Kong. Of all the ex-British colonial countries, only the Hong Kongers were offered BNOs by the British. Because the UK would like the Hong Kongers to think they are British citizens, not Chinese. A divide-and-conquer strategy, which they often used in Color Revolutions around the world.

They resort to low dirty tricks like detaining Huawei’s CFO & banning Huawei. They raised a silly trade war which benefits no one. Trade deficit always exist between a developing and a developed country. USA is like a luxury car seller who ask a farmer: why am I always buying your vegetables and you haven’t bought any of my cars?

When the Chinese were making socks for the world 30 years ago, the world let it be. But when Chinese started to make high technology products, like Huawei and DJI, it caused red-alert. Because when Western and Japanese products are equal to Chinese in technologies, they could never match the Chinese in prices. First world countries want China to continue in making socks. Instead of stepping up themselves, they want to pull China down.

The recent movement by the US against China has a very important background. When Libya, Iran, and China decided to ditch the US dollar in oil trades, Gaddafi’s was killed by the US, Iran was being sanctioned by the US, and now it’s China’s turn. The US has been printing money out of nothing. The only reason why the US Dollar is still widely accepted, is because it’s the only currency which oil is allowed to be traded with. The US has an agreement with Saudi that oil must be traded in US dollar ONLY. Without the petrol-dollar status, the US dollars will sink, and America will fall. Therefore anyone trying to disobey this order will be eliminated. China will soon use a gold-backed crypto-currency, the alarms in the White House go off like mad.

China’s achievement has been by hard work. Not buy looting the world.

I have deep sympathy for China for all the suffering, but now I feel happy for them. China is not rising, they are going back to where they belong. Good luck China.

After Hiroshima and Nagasaki: U.S. and Australian Brutalisation of Women on the Japanese Mainland

August 24, 2020

After Hiroshima and Nagasaki: U.S. and Australian Brutalisation of Women on the Japanese Mainland

by A.B. Abrams for The Saker Blog

Over a year ago I published the book Power and Primacy: The History of Western Intervention in the Asia-Pacific, which was an attempt to fill what I saw as a gap in scholarship on the subject. I found that while several scholars had covered individual cases of Western powers intervening in the region, from David Easter and Geoffrey B. Robinson’s works on the Western-engineered coup and massacres in Indonesia of an estimated 500,000 to 3 million people[1] – to Bruce Cumings and Hugh Deane’s works on the Korean War, there were no major works assessing broader trends and consistencies in Western intervention. Power and Primacy was thus written to show the consistencies in Western designs towards the region and the means used to achieve them over a period of more than 70 years, from the Pacific War which began in 1941 to Western policies towards China and North Korea today.

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the dismantling of the Japanese Empire, and the famous declaration by General Douglas MacArthur that, with the region’s only non-Western military power and the world’s only non-Western naval power now defeated, ‘The Pacific is now an Anglo-Saxon lake.’ While the U.S. and its allies portrayed themselves as a benevolent and democratising force in the region, the darker aspects of East Asia’s time under the new hegemon, which starkly contradict this, have seen very little discussion or coverage. It is notable, for example, that after the Japanese Empire’s fall not only did living standards in southern Korea fall dramatically after it was placed under the rule of an American military government, but mass rapes, the use of comfort women, and serious human trafficking – the very things used by many to justify the American embargo on Japan which had started hostilities in 1941 – not only continued but were expanded under U.S. control. The government of Syngman Rhee, the Princeton-educated Christian radical the U.S. placed in power, killed 2% of its population at the most conservative estimate within five years, placing hundreds of thousands more in concentration camps and exercising a level of brutality not seen even under the Japanese Empire.

With Japan today having seen 75 uninterrupted years with tens of thousands of Western soldiers based on its territory, where they appear set to remain indefinitely, this is a suitable time to reflect on the nature of the relationship between the country and the West – which is very far from that of equal sovereign powers with shared goals and ideals. Evidence for this has ranged from massive involvement of American intelligence in the political process, including funding pro-Western political parties and supporting their election campaigns,[2] to the testimonies of multiple officials. Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, for example, noted regarding his country’s inability to reach a deal with Russia over the Kuril Islands due to an effective American veto over all major foreign policy decisions: “I think it represents a big problem that when making foreign policy decisions, Tokyo is always guided by the United States’ approach. Japan depends on America.” He further stated: “The Japanese media and government… always take America’s side. Tokyo is dependent on the US’ views … Japan will continue to side with America and the G7 countries.”[3] Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama, who in the 1950s had also sought to resolve the dispute with Moscow and sign a peace treaty on the basis that Japan would receive two of the four islands, was harshly threatened by the U.S. and was ultimately forced to concede to Washington’s demands not to go through with an agreement. Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori came to a similar conclusion regarding the country’s lack of effective sovereignty in an interview with Russian state media in 2018. [4]

Beyond these political indicators, however, are more human indicators of the nature of America’s place in post-war Japan which cannot be overlooked, and which contrast very strongly with portrayals in the vast majority of Western media including both documentaries and popular media. An extract from the book Power and Primacy, pages 66-69, given below, recently reached over 3 million viewers on social media and highlighted the true consequences for Japan’s population of subjugation by the United States. The full references are provided in the book itself. Perhaps most importantly, this is not presented as an isolated set of cases of U.S. and Western conduct towards an East Asian population placed under their power – rather it is part of a much wider trend which if anything was considerably more extreme in Vietnam and in both South and North Korea – the latter of which was briefly occupied by U.S. forces in 1950. An understanding of the past is key to comprehending the nature of Western involvement in the Asia-Pacific region today, which is why I found that this project was particularly essential now in light of the ‘Pivot to Asia,’ the North Korean nuclear crisis, the Trump administration’s recent ‘Tech War’ on China and other key events which have increasingly placed the region at the centre of determining the future of world order.

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There was a far darker side to the U.S. and allied occupation of Japan, one which is little mentioned in the vast majority of histories – American or otherwise. When Japan surrendered in August 1945, mass rapes by occupying forces were expected… [despite setting up of a comfort women system which recruited or otherwise trafficked desperate women to brothels] such crimes were still common and several of them were extremely brutal and resulted in the deaths of the victims. Political science professor Eiji Takemae wrote regarding the conduct of American soldiers occupying Japan:

‘U.S. troops comported themselves like conquerors, especially in the early weeks and months of occupation. Misbehavior ranged from black-marketeering, petty theft, reckless driving and disorderly conduct to vandalism, assault, arson, murder and rape. Much of the violence was directed against women, the first attacks beginning within hours after the landing of advanced units. In Yokohama, China and elsewhere, soldiers and sailors broke the law with impunity, and incidents of robbery, rape and occasionally murder were widely reported in the press [which had not yet been censored by the U.S. military government]. When U.S. paratroopers landed in Sapporo an orgy of looting, sexual violence and drunken brawling ensued. Gang rapes and other sex atrocities were not infrequent […] Military courts arrested relatively few soldiers for their offences and convicted even fewer, and restitution for the victims was rare. Japanese attempts at self-defense were punished severely. In the sole instance of self-help that General Eichberger records in his memoirs, when local residents formed a vigilante group and retaliated against off-duty GIs, the Eighth Army ordered armored vehicles in battle array into the streets and arrested the ringleaders, who received lengthy prison terms.

The U.S. and Australian militaries did not maintain rule of law when it came to violations of Japanese women by their own forces, neither were the Japanese population allowed to do so themselves. Occupation forces could loot and rape as they pleased and were effectively above the law.

An example of such an incident was in April 1946, when approximately U.S. personnel in three trucks attacked the Nakamura Hospital in Omori district. The soldiers raped over 40 patients and 37 female staff. One woman who had given birth just two days prior had her child thrown on the floor and killed, and she was then raped as well. Male patients trying to protect the women were also killed. The following week several dozen U.S. military personnel cut the phone lines to a housing block in Nagoya and raped all the women they could capture there – including girls as young as ten years old and women as old as fifty-five.

Such behavior was far from unique to American soldiers. Australian forces conducted themselves in much the same way during their own deployment in Japan. As one Japanese witness testified: ‘As soon as Australian troops arrived in Kure in early 1946, they ‘dragged young women into their jeeps, took them to the mountain, and then raped them. I heard them screaming for help nearly every night.’ Such behavior was commonplace, but news of criminal activity by Occupation forces was quickly suppressed.

Australian officer Allan Clifton recalled his own experience of the sexual violence committed in Japan:

‘I stood beside a bed in hospital. On it lay a girl, unconscious, her long, black hair in wild tumult on the pillow. A doctor and two nurses were working to revive her. An hour before she had been raped by twenty soldiers. We found her where they had left her, on a piece of waste land. The hospital was in Hiroshima. The girl was Japanese. The soldiers were Australians. The moaning and wailing had ceased and she was quiet now. The tortured tension on her face had slipped away, and the soft brown skin was smooth and unwrinkled, stained with tears like the face of a child that has cried herself to sleep.’

Australians committing such crimes in Japan were, when discovered, given very minor sentences. Even these were most often later mitigated or quashed by Australian courts. Clifton recounted one such event himself, when an Australian court quashed a sentence given by a military court martial citing ‘insufficient evidence,’ despite the incident having several witnesses. It was clear that courts overseeing Western occupation forces took measures to protect their own from crimes committed against the Japanese – crimes which were largely regarded as just access to ‘spoils of war’ at the time by the Western occupiers.

As had been the case during the war, underreporting of rapes in peace- time due to the associated shame in a traditional society and inaction on the part of authorities (rapes in both cases occurred when Western militaries were themselves in power) would lower the figures significantly. In order to prevent ill feeling towards their occupation from increasing, the United States military government implemented very strict censorship of the media. Mention of crimes committed by Western military personnel against Japanese civilians was strictly forbidden. The occupying forces ‘issued press and pre-censorship codes outlawing the publication of all reports and statistics “inimical to the objectives of the Occupation.”’ When a few weeks into the occupation Japanese press mentioned the rape and widespread looting by American soldiers, the occupying forces quickly responded by censoring all media and imposing a zero tolerance policy against the reporting of such crimes. It was not only the crimes committed by Western forces, but any criticism of the Western allied powers whatsoever which was strictly forbidden during the occupation period – for over six years. This left the U.S. military government, the supreme authority in the country, beyond accountability. Topics such as the establishment of comfort stations and encouragement of vulnerable women into the sex trade, critical analysis of the black market, the population’s starvation level calorie intakes and even references to the Great Depression’s impact on Western economies, anti-colonialism, pan-Asianism and emerging Cold War tensions were all off limits.

What was particularly notable about the censorship imposed under American occupation was that it was intended to conceal its own existence. This meant that not only were certain subjects strictly off limits, but the mention of censorship was also forbidden. As Columbia University Professor Donald Keene noted: ‘the Occupation censorship was even more exasperating than Japanese military censorship had been because it insisted that all traces of censorship be concealed. This meant that articles had to be rewritten in full, rather than merely submitting XXs for the offending phrases.’ For the U.S. military government it was essential not only to control information – but also to give the illusion of a free press when the press was in fact more restricted than it had been even in wartime under imperial rule.

By going one step further to censor even the mention of censorship itself, the United States could claim to stand for freedom of press and freedom of expression. By controlling the media the American military government could attempt to foster goodwill among the Japanese people while making crimes committed by their personnel and those of their allies appear as isolated incidents. While the brutality of American and Australian militaries against Japanese civilians was evident during the war and in its immediate aftermath, it did not end with occupation. The United States has maintained a significant military presence in Japan ever since and crimes including sexual violence and murder against Japanese civilians continue to occur.”

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For Full Manuscript of Power and Primacy

Facebook

For A. B. Abrams’ upcoming work, scheduled for publication in October 2018, titled Immovable Object: North Koreans 70 Years at War with American Power:

  1. ‘Indonesia’s killing fields,’ Al Jazeera, December 21, 2012. ‘Looking into the massacres of Indonesia’s past,’ BBC, June 2, 2016. 
  2. Weiner, Time, ‘C. I. A. Spent Millions to Support Japanese Right in 50’s and 60’s,’ New York Times, October 9, 1994. 
  3. ‘Stationing American troops in Japan will lead to bloody tragedy – ex-PM of Japan,’ RT, (televised interview), November 6, 2016. 
  4. ‘Ex-Japan FM: I Told Putin We Follow U.S. Policy as We’re Surrounded by Nuke States,’ Sputnik, May 22, 2018. 

Another Hiroshima is Coming…Unless We Stop It Now

by JOHN PILGER

Photograph Source: Oilstreet – Own work – CC BY 2.5

When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open.

At a quarter past eight on the morning of August 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite.

I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, then I walked down to the river where the survivors still lived in shanties.

I met a man called Yukio, whose chest was etched with the pattern of the shirt he was wearing when the atomic bomb was dropped.

He described a huge flash over the city, “a bluish light, something like an electrical short”, after which wind blew like a tornado and black rain fell. “I was thrown on the ground and noticed only the stalks of my flowers were left. Everything was still and quiet, and when I got up, there were people naked, not saying anything. Some of them had no skin or hair. I was certain I was dead.”

Nine years later, I returned to look for him and he was dead from leukaemia.

“No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin” said The New York Times front page on 13 September, 1945, a classic of planted disinformation. “General Farrell,” reported William H. Lawrence, “denied categorically that [the atomic bomb] produced a dangerous, lingering radioactivity.”

Only one reporter, Wilfred Burchett, an Australian, had braved the perilous journey to Hiroshima in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing, in defiance of the Allied occupation authorities, which controlled the “press pack”.

“I write this as a warning to the world,” reported Burchett in the London Daily Express  of September 5,1945. Sitting in the rubble with his Baby Hermes typewriter, he described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries who were dying from what he called “an atomic plague”.

For this, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared. His witness to the truth was never forgiven.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an act of premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. It was justified by lies that form the bedrock of America’s war propaganda in the 21st century, casting a new enemy, and target – China.

During the 75 years since Hiroshima, the most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and to save lives.

“Even without the atomic bombing attacks,” concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, “air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. “Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that … Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war [against Japan] and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

The National Archives in Washington contains documented Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US made clear the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including “capitulation even if the terms were hard”. Nothing was done.

The US Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was “fearful” that the US Air Force would have Japan so “bombed out” that the new weapon would not be able “to show its strength”. Stimson later admitted that “no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the [atomic] bomb”.

Stimson’s foreign policy colleagues — looking ahead to the post-war era they were then shaping “in our image”, as Cold War planner George Kennan famously put it — made clear they were eager “to browbeat the Russians with the [atomic] bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip”. General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the atomic bomb, testified: “There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis.”

The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Harry Truman voiced his satisfaction with the “overwhelming success” of “the experiment”.

The “experiment” continued long after the war was over. Between 1946 and 1958, the United States exploded 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific: the equivalent of more than one Hiroshima every day for 12 years.

The human and environmental consequences were catastrophic. During the filming of my documentary, The Coming War on China, I chartered a small aircraft and flew to Bikini Atoll in the Marshalls. It was here that the United States exploded the world’s first Hydrogen Bomb. It remains poisoned earth. My shoes registered “unsafe” on my Geiger counter. Palm trees stood in unworldly formations. There were no birds.

I trekked through the jungle to the concrete bunker where, at 6.45 on the morning of March 1, 1954, the button was pushed. The sun, which had risen, rose again and vaporised an entire island in the lagoon, leaving a vast black hole, which from the air is a menacing spectacle: a deathly void in a place of beauty.

The radioactive fall-out spread quickly and “unexpectedly”. The official history claims “the wind changed suddenly”. It was the first of many lies, as declassified documents and the victims’ testimony reveal.

Gene Curbow, a meteorologist assigned to monitor the test site, said, “They knew where the radioactive fall-out was going to go. Even on the day of the shot, they still had an opportunity to evacuate people, but [people] were not evacuated; I was not evacuated… The United States needed some guinea pigs to study what the effects of radiation would do.”

Like Hiroshima, the secret of the Marshall Islands was a calculated experiment on the lives of large numbers of people. This was Project 4.1, which began as a scientific study of mice and became an experiment on “human beings exposed to the radiation of a nuclear weapon”.

The Marshall Islanders I met in 2015 — like the survivors of Hiroshima I interviewed in the 1960s and 70s — suffered from a range of cancers, commonly thyroid cancer; thousands had already died. Miscarriages and stillbirths were common; those babies who lived were often deformed horribly.

Unlike Bikini, nearby Rongelap atoll had not been evacuated during the H-Bomb test. Directly downwind of Bikini, Rongelap’s skies darkened and it rained what first appeared to be snowflakes.  Food and water were contaminated; and the population fell victim to cancers. That is still true today.

I met Nerje Joseph, who showed me a photograph of herself as a child on Rongelap. She had terrible facial burns and much of her was hair missing. “We were bathing at the well on the day the bomb exploded,” she said. “White dust started falling from the sky. I reached to catch the powder. We used it as soap to wash our hair. A few days later, my hair started falling out.”

Lemoyo Abon said, “Some of us were in agony. Others had diarrhoea. We were terrified. We thought it must be the end of the world.”

US official archive film I included in my film refers to the islanders as “amenable savages”. In the wake of the explosion, a US Atomic Energy Agency official is seen boasting that Rongelap “is by far the most contaminated place on earth”, adding, “it will be interesting to get a measure of human uptake when people live in a contaminated environment.”

American scientists, including medical doctors, built distinguished careers studying the “human uptake’. There they are in flickering film, in their white coats, attentive with their clipboards. When an islander died in his teens, his family received a sympathy card from the scientist who studied him.

I have reported from five nuclear “ground zeros” throughout the world — in Japan, the Marshall Islands, Nevada, Polynesia and Maralinga in Australia. Even more than my experience as a war correspondent, this has taught me about the ruthlessness and immorality of great power: that is, imperial power, whose cynicism is the true enemy of humanity.

This struck me forcibly when I filmed at Taranaki Ground Zero at Maralinga in the Australian desert. In a dish-like crater was an obelisk on which was inscribed: “A British atomic weapon was test exploded here on 9 October 1957”. On the rim of the crater was this sign:

WARNING: RADIATION HAZARD 

Radiation levels for a few hundred metres

around this point may be above those considered

safe for permanent occupation.

For as far as the eye could see, and beyond, the ground was irradiated. Raw plutonium lay about, scattered like talcum powder: plutonium is so dangerous to humans that a third of a milligram gives a 50 per cent chance of cancer.

The only people who might have seen the sign were Indigenous Australians, for whom there was no warning. According to an official account, if they were lucky “they were shooed off like rabbits”.

Today, an unprecedented campaign of propaganda is shooing us all off like rabbits. We are not meant to question the daily torrent of anti-Chinese rhetoric, which is rapidly overtaking the torrent of anti-Russia rhetoric. Anything Chinese is bad, anathema, a threat: Wuhan …. Huawei. How confusing it is when “our” most reviled leader says so.

The current phase of this campaign began not with Trump but with Barack Obama, who in 2011 flew to Australia to declare the greatest build-up of US naval forces in the Asia-Pacific region since World War Two. Suddenly, China was a “threat”. This was nonsense, of course. What was threatened was America’s unchallenged psychopathic view of itself as the richest, the most successful, the most “indispensable” nation.

What was never in dispute was its prowess as a bully — with more than 30 members of the United Nations suffering American sanctions of some kind and a trail of the blood running through defenceless countries bombed, their governments overthrown, their  elections interfered with, their resources plundered.

Obama’s declaration became known as the “pivot to Asia”. One of its principal advocates was his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who, as WikiLeaks revealed, wanted to rename the Pacific Ocean “the American Sea”.

Whereas Clinton never concealed her warmongering, Obama was a maestro of marketing.”I state clearly and with conviction,” said the new president in 2009, “that America’s commitment is to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Obama increased spending on nuclear warheads faster than any president since the end of the Cold War. A “usable” nuclear weapon was developed. Known as the B61 Model 12, it means, according to General James Cartwright, former vice-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that “going smaller [makes its use] more thinkable”.

The target is China. Today, more than 400 American military bases almost encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to South-East Asia, Japan and Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, as one US strategist told me, “the perfect noose”.

A study by the RAND Corporation – which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars – is entitled War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable. Commissioned by the US Army, the authors evoke the infamous catch cry of its chief Cold War strategist, Herman Kahn – “thinking the unthinkable”. Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a “winnable” nuclear war.

Kahn’s apocalyptic view is shared by Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an evangelical fanatic who believes in the “rapture of the End”. He is perhaps the most dangerous man alive. “I was CIA director,” he boasted, “We lied, we cheated, we stole. It was like we had entire training courses.”  Pompeo’s obsession is China.

The endgame of Pompeo’s extremism is rarely if ever discussed in the Anglo-American media, where the myths and fabrications about China are standard fare, as were the lies about Iraq. A virulent racism is the sub-text of this propaganda. Classified “yellow” even though they were white, the Chinese are the only ethnic group to have been banned by an “exclusion act” from entering the United States, because they were Chinese. Popular culture declared them sinister, untrustworthy, “sneaky”, depraved, diseased, immoral.

An Australian magazine, The Bulletin, was devoted to promoting fear of the “yellow peril” as if all of Asia was about to fall down on the whites-only colony by the force of gravity.

As the historian Martin Powers writes, acknowledging China’s  modernism, its secular morality and “contributions to liberal thought threatened European face, so it became necessary to suppress China’s role in the Enlightenment debate …. For centuries, China’s threat to the myth of Western superiority has made it an easy target for race-baiting.”

In the Sydney Morning Herald, tireless China-basher Peter Hartcher described those who spread Chinese influence in Australia as “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows”. Hartcher, who favourably quotes the American demagogue Steve Bannon, likes to interpret the “dreams” of the current Chinese elite, to which he is apparently privy. These are inspired by yearnings for the “Mandate of Heaven” of 2,000 years ago. Ad nausea.

To combat this “mandate”, the Australian government of Scott Morrison has committed one of the most secure countries on earth, whose major trading partner is China, to hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American missiles that can be fired at China.

The trickledown is already evident. In a country historically scarred by violent racism towards Asians, Australians of Chinese descent have formed a vigilante group to protect delivery riders. Phone videos show a delivery rider punched in the face and a Chinese couple racially abused in a supermarket. Between April and June, there were almost 400 racist attacks on Asian-Australians. 

“We are not your enemy,” a high-ranking strategist in China told me, “but if you [in the West] decide we are, we must prepare without delay.” China’s arsenal is small compared with America’s, but it is growing fast, especially the development of maritime missiles designed to destroy fleets of ships.

“For the first time,” wrote Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “China is discussing putting its nuclear missiles on high alert so that they can be launched quickly on warning of an attack… This would be a significant and dangerous change in Chinese policy…”

In Washington, I met Amitai Etzioni, distinguished professor of international affairs at George Washington University, who wrote that a “blinding attack on China” was planned, “with strikes that could be mistakenly perceived [by the Chinese] as pre-emptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma [that would] lead to nuclear war.”

In 2019, the US staged its biggest single military exercise since the Cold War, much of it in high secrecy. An armada of ships and long-range bombers rehearsed an “Air-Sea Battle Concept for China” – ASB – blocking sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and cutting off China’s access to oil, gas and other raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.

It is fear of such a blockade that has seen China develop its Belt and Road Initiative along the old Silk Road to Europe and urgently build strategic airstrips on disputed reefs and islets in the Spratly Islands.

In Shanghai, I met Lijia Zhang, a Beijing journalist and novelist, typical of a new class of outspoken mavericks. Her best-selling book has the ironic title Socialism Is Great! Having grown up in the chaotic, brutal Cultural Revolution, she has travelled and lived in the US and Europe. “Many Americans imagine,” she said, “that Chinese people live a miserable, repressed life with no freedom whatsoever. The [idea of] the yellow peril has never left them… They have no idea there are some 500 million people being lifted out of poverty, and some would say it’s 600 million.”

Modern China’s epic achievements, its defeat of mass poverty, and the pride and contentment of its people (measured forensically by American pollsters such as Pew) are wilfully unknown or misunderstood in the West. This alone is a commentary on the lamentable state of Western journalism and the abandonment of honest reporting.

China’s repressive dark side and what we like to call its “authoritarianism” are the facade we are allowed to see almost exclusively. It is as if we are fed unending tales of the evil super-villain Dr. Fu Manchu. And it is time we asked why: before it is too late to stop the next Hiroshima.

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John Pilger can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

POMPEO’S DILEMMA: US IS RUNNING OUT OF AIRCRAFT CARRIERS AND TARGETS TO UP PRESSURE AGAINST CHINA

The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan cruising around somewhere near China

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02.08.2020

As South Front reported last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dedicated a major address to insulting and threatening China. However, his extravagant rhetoric and threats to further increase US pressure on the Asian giant have a major flaw. The deployment of US military assets to menace China’s frontier zones are already at historically high levels, leaving very little room for additional pressure short of an amphibious landing or missile strike.

As reported by the South China Morning Post last week, US military aviation flights around its maritime borders in July were the highest on record. According to the Beijing-based South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), during the week ending 25 July US air force E-8C surveillance planes were spotted closer than 100 nautical miles to the southeast coast of Guangdong province on four separate occasions.

“At the moment the US military is sending three to five reconnaissance aircraft each day to the South China Sea,” SCSPI said. “In the first half of 2020 – with much higher frequency, closer distance and more variety of missions – the US aerial reconnaissance in the South China Sea has entered a new phase.”

US planes have ventured “unusually close” to Chinese airspace several times since April. The closest flight to date was in May when a US navy P-8A Poseidon – designed for anti-submarine warfare – almost reached the 12 nautical mile limit near Hainan Island, on China’s southernmost tip.

SCSPI said its statistics showed flights by US planes approaching up to 50 to 60 nautical miles off the mainland were “frequent”. A record of 50 sorties – flying from US land bases located in the vicinity of the South China Sea – was set in the first three weeks of July, coinciding with separate Chinese and US military exercises in the area.

On peak days, SCSPI said it had counted as many as eight US aircraft, including the aircraft types P-8A EP-3E, RC-135W and KC-135. One such peak occurred on July 3, as aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz, along with their respective strike groups, entered the region.

The two aircraft carrier strike groups conducted drills in the area on two separate occasions, commencing on July 4 and July 17. In between the exercises, the US State Department issued a statement describing China’s claim to the disputed waterway as “unlawful” and adding that Washington supported the other Southeast Asian claimants.

The resource-rich South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest waterways, with around a third of international shipping passing through it. China claims most of the area while Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia all have overlapping claims.

The range of US military planes involved in the South China Sea missions was an indication of their purpose, according to SCSPI director Hu Bo. These included anti-submarine patrol, communication signal collection, and radar frequency detection, among others.

With the People’s Liberation Army also exercising in the Paracel Islands earlier this month, the US intelligence aircraft were probably collecting data on the PLA electronics, Hu said, adding. “The increasing US military operations have become the largest risk and potential source of conflicts.”

These operations have led to a number of incidents, and occasionally crises, in the past. The most serious occurred in April 2001 when a US navy EP-3E Aries II flew to within 59 nautical miles of Hainan Island and collided with an intercepting PLA navy J-8II fighter.

The Chinese pilot died and the US plane was forced to land on Hainan, giving then-president George W. Bush the first diplomatic crisis of his tenure.

In 2014, 2015 and 2017, the Pentagon repeatedly accused Chinese fighters of nearly causing accidents by making “unsafe” interception manoeuvres with US spy planes near the Chinese coast in the South China Sea, East China Sea and the Yellow Sea.

Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping said the PLA could be expected to send fighters out to intercept and expel US aircraft on every close reconnaissance mission.

“The PLA has developed a standard operating protocol on these US planes approaching Chinese airspace. With more frequent US provocations, the PLA will have more frequent interceptions too,” he said.

“It poses a challenge to pilots’ skills and training, but the PLA has also become quite proficient to avoid possible accidents or collisions.” LINK

The record number of military flights was accompanied by a large spike in navy deployments as well, with three aircraft carriers cruising around the South China Sea during June and July. Prior to the extended excursions of the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz mentioned above, the USS Theodore Roosevelt had wound up its latest trouble-plagued deployment to the north-western Pacific, much of which was spent at Guam as the crew desperately tried to contain an outbreak of the Coronavirus, with a short patrol towards China’s maritime border zone.

While the US’ increasingly hostile and hysterical tone against China has done nothing to alter the latter’s implacable resolve to pursue and defend their maritime claims and vital national interests, the US its placing its allies and partners in the region in an increasingly difficult position, South Korea in particular but also Japan and others, as they try to maintain amicable relations with China whilst hosting substantial US military forces whose distant commanders seem determined to pick a fight with China.

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The heart of the matter in the South China Sea

The heart of the matter in the South China Sea

July 30, 2020

by Pepe Escobar for The Saker Blog and originally posted at Asia Times

When the Ronald Reagan and Nimitz carrier strike groups recently engaged in “operations” in the South China Sea, it did not escape to many a cynic that the US Pacific Fleet was doing its best to turn the infantile Thucydides Trap theory into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The pro forma official spin, via Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander of the Nimitz, is that the ops were conducted to “reinforce our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, a rules-based international order, and to our allies and partners”.

Nobody pays attention to these clichés, because the real message was delivered by a CIA operative posing as diplomat, Secretary of State Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo: “The PRC has no legal grounds to unilaterally impose its will on the region”, in a reference to the Nine-Dash Line. For the State Dept., Beijing deploys nothing but “gangster tactics” in the South China Sea.

Once again, nobody paid attention, because the actual facts on the sea are stark. Anything that moves in the South China Sea – China’s crucial maritime trade artery – is at the mercy of the PLA, which decides if and when to deploy their deadly DF-21D and DF-26 “carrier killer” missiles. There’s absolutely no way the US Pacific Fleet can win a shooting war in the South China Sea.

Electronically jammed

A crucial Chinese report, unavailable and not referred to by Western media, and translated by Hong Kong-based analyst Thomas Wing Polin, is essential to understand the context.

The report refers to US Growler electronic warplanes rendered totally out of control by electronic jamming devices positioned on islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

According to the report, “after the accident, the United States negotiated with China, demanding that China dismantle the electronic equipment immediately, but it was rejected. These electronic devices are an important part of China’s maritime defense and are not offensive weapons. Therefore, the US military’s request for dismantling is unreasonable.”

It gets better: “On the same day, former commander Scott Swift of the US Pacific Fleet finally acknowledged that the US military had lost the best time to control the South China Sea. He believes that China has deployed a large number of Hongqi 9 air defense missiles, H-6K bombers, and electronic jamming systems on islands and reefs. The defense can be said to be solid. If US fighter jets rush into the South China Sea, they are likely to encounter their ‘Waterloo.’”

The bottom line is that the systems – including electronic jamming – deployed by the PLA on islands and reefs in the South China Sea, covering more than half of the total surface, are considered by Beijing to be part of the national defense system.

I have previously detailed what Admiral Philip Davidson, when he was still a nominee to lead the US Pacific Command (PACOM), told the US Senate. Here are his Top Three conclusions:

1) “China is pursuing advanced capabilities (e.g., hypersonic missiles) which the United States has no current defense against. As China pursues these advanced weapons systems, US forces across the Indo-Pacific will be placed increasingly at risk.”

2) “China is undermining the rules-based international order.”

3) “China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

Implied in all of the above is the “secret” of the Indo-Pacific strategy: at best a containment exercise, as China continues to solidify the Maritime Silk Road linking the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Remember the nusantao

The South China Sea is and will continue to be one of the prime geopolitical flashpoints of the young 21st century, where a great deal of the East-West balance of power will be played.

I have addressed this elsewhere in the past in some detail, but a short historical background is once again absolutely essential to understand the current juncture as the South China Sea increasingly looks and feels like a Chinese lake.

Let’s start in 1890, when Alfred Mahan, then president of the US Naval College, wrote the seminal The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. Mahan’s central thesis is that the US should go global in search of new markets, and protect these new trade routes through a network of naval bases.

That is the embryo of the US Empire of Bases – which remains in effect.

It was Western – American and European – colonialism that came up with most land borders and maritime borders of states bordering the South China Sea: Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam.

We are talking about borders between different colonial possessions – and that implied intractable problems from the start, subsequently inherited by post-colonial nations.

Historically, it had always been a completely different story. The best anthropological studies (Bill Solheim’s, for instance) define the semi-nomadic communities who really traveled and traded across the South China Sea from time immemorial as the Nusantao – an Austronesian compound word for “south island” and “people”.

The Nusantao were not a defined ethnic group. They were a maritime internet. Over centuries, they had many key hubs, from the coastline between central Vietnam and Hong Kong all the way to the Mekong Delta. They were not attached to any “state”. The Western notion of “borders” did not even exist. In the mid-1990s, I had the privilege to encounter some of their descendants in Indonesia and Vietnam.

So it was only by the late 19th century that the Westphalian system managed to freeze the South China Sea inside an immovable framework.

Which brings us to the crucial point of why China is so sensitive about its borders; because they are directly linked to the “century of humiliation” – when internal Chinese corruption and weakness allowed Western “barbarians” to take possession of Chinese land.

A Japanese lake

The Nine Dash Line is an immensely complex problem. It was invented by the eminent Chinese geographer Bai Meichu, a fierce nationalist, in 1936, initially as part of a “Chinese National Humiliation Map” in the form of a “U-shaped line” gobbling up the South China Sea all the way down to James Shoal, which is 1,500 km south of China but only over 100 km off Borneo.

The Nine Dash Line, from the beginning, was promoted by the Chinese government – remember, at the time not yet Communist – as the letter of the law in terms of “historic” Chinese claims over islands in the South China Sea.

One year later, Japan invaded China. Japan had occupied Taiwan way back in 1895. Japan occupied the Philippines in 1942. That meant virtually the entire coastline of the South China Sea being controlled by a single empire for the fist time in history. The South China Sea had become a Japanese lake.

Well, that lasted only until 1945. The Japanese did occupy Woody Island in the Paracels and Itu Aba (today Taiping) in the Spratlys. After the end of WWII and the US nuclear-bombing Japan, the Philippines became independent in 1946 and the Spratlys immediately were declared Filipino territory.

In 1947, all the islands in the South China Sea got Chinese names.

And in December 1947 all the islands were placed under the control of Hainan (itself an island in southern China.) New maps duly followed, but now with Chinese names for the islands (or reefs, or shoals). But there was a huge problem: no one explained the meaning of those dashes (which were originally eleven.)

In June 1947 the Republic of China claimed everything within the line – while proclaiming itself open to negotiate definitive maritime borders with other nations later on. But, for the moment, there were no borders.

And that set the scene for the immensely complicated “strategic ambiguity” of the South China Sea that still lingers on – and allows the State Dept. to accuse Beijing of “gangster tactics”. The culmination of a millennia-old transition from the “maritime internet” of semi-nomadic peoples to the Westphalian system spelled nothing but trouble.

Time for COC

So what about the US notion of “freedom of navigation”?

In imperial terms, “freedom of navigation”, from the West Coast of the US to Asia – through the Pacific, the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean – is strictly an issue of military strategy.

The US Navy simply cannot imagine dealing with maritime exclusion zones – or having to demand an “authorization” every time they need to cross them. In this case the Empire of Bases would lose “access” to its own bases.

This is compounded with trademark Pentagon paranoia, gaming a situation where a “hostile power” – namely China – decides to block global trade. The premise in itself is ludicrous, because the South China Sea is the premier, vital maritime artery for China’s globalized economy.

So there’s no rational justification for a Freedom of Navigation (FON) program. For all practical purposes, these aircraft carriers like the Ronald Reagan and the Nimitz showboating on and off in the South China Sea amount to 21st century gunboat diplomacy. And Beijing is not impressed.

As far as the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is concerned, what matters now is to come up with a Code of Conduct (COC) to solve all maritime conflicts between Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and China.

Next year, ASEAN and China celebrate 30 years of strong bilateral relations. There’s a strong possibility they will be upgraded to “comprehensive strategic partner” status.

Because of Covid-19, all players had to postpone negotiations on the second reading of the single draft of COC. Beijing wanted these to be face to face – because the document is ultra-sensitive and for the moment, secret. Yet they finally agreed to negotiate online – via detailed texts.

It will be a hard slog, because as ASEAN made it clear in a virtual summit in late June, everything has to be in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).

If they can all agree on a COC by the end of 2020, a final agreement could be approved by ASEAN in mid-2021. Historic does not even begin to describe it – because this negotiation has been going on for no less than two decades.

Not to mention that a COC invalidates any US pretension to secure “freedom of navigation” in an area where navigation is already free.

Yet “freedom” was never the issue. In imperial terminology, “freedom” means that China must obey and keep the South China Sea open to the US Navy. Well, that’s possible, but you gotta behave. That’ll be the day when the US Navy is “denied” the South China Sea. You don’t need to be Mahan to know that’ll mean the imperial end of ruling the seven seas.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the online session “Russia and the post-COVID World”

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the online session “Russia and the post-COVID World”

10 July 2020 15:55

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the online session “Russia and the post-COVID World,” held as part of the Primakov Readings international forum, Moscow, July 10, 2020

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for inviting me to once again speak at the Primakov Readings. This is a young, but also one of the most respected platforms for discussing international matters. Unfortunately, we cannot meet in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, thanks to modern technology we could keep it on schedule. I am glad that my colleagues were able to take part in the preceding sessions of these readings. Judging by their feedback, this was a useful experience.

I will not delve into the question of how the coronavirus has affected every aspect of our lives, and what it will bring in the future. We already feel its effect on the economy and in personal contacts, from official visits and talks, to humanitarian, cultural and education exchanges. There seems to be a consensus that it will take quite some time for things to get back to normal. How long it will take and what the new norm will be is anybody’s guess. That said, all tend to agree that things will change.

By the way, I cannot fail to mention that our foreign service has had to face serious challenges. There were confirmed cases both at the Foreign Ministry head offices and our representative offices in the regions, as well as in our affiliated institutions. Thank goodness, we did not face a massive outbreak or severe cases. There were also people in our missions abroad affected by the pandemic. When borders closed, all our foreign missions without exception were mobilised to assist Russian nationals stranded abroad. Along with other agencies represented in the Emergency Response Centre, primarily the Transport Ministry, the Federal Air Agency, the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare and the Communications Ministry, we complied repatriation lists. This was a lot of work, fraught with many mistakes, mostly unintentional rather than deliberate, that had to be rectified. At the same time we had to make arrangements to pay support allowances to those stranded abroad without funds. We have already done a great deal on this front, although there are still people asking to be repatriated, and some have come forward only recently. It seems that looking at the developments in the countries where they are staying and considering the uncertainty as to when all this will come to an end, they finally opted to return home.

Speaking of other ways in which the pandemic influenced our work and the way we perform our professional duties, the virus has aggravated other pre-existing challenges and threats. They have not gone away, including international terrorism. As you know, some speculate that terrorists are thinking about somehow using the strain of this virus, or maybe even creating new strains to achieve their malicious ends. Drug trafficking, cybercrime, environmental issues, climate and, of course, the many conflicts around the world – all these problems are still with us. And all this overlaps with the specific nature of the Trump administration and its deliberate policy of undermining all legal and contractual frameworks without exception on arms control and international cooperation, for example, regarding UNESCO, the WHO, the UN Human Rights Council, etc.

Of course, we keep a close eye on all these developments and analyse them. We still believe that sustainable solutions to various crises, conflicts and problems in the interests of all countries, and taking into consideration each and everyone’s concerns can only result from collective efforts based on the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, by respecting UN Security Council prerogatives, mobilising consensus-based associations, including the G20, as well as BRICS, the SCO and associations on the post-Soviet space. Unfortunately, not everyone has been ready to work together during the pandemic, to engage in collective efforts and approaches. We are witnessing attempts to push through narrow-minded agendas, and use this crisis to continue strangling unwanted regimes. The call from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to suspend unilateral sanctions, at least during the pandemic, that impede the distribution of medial and other humanitarian goods, and other essential items to the corresponding countries, was completely ignored. The same goes for attempts to assign blame for the infection in the midst of the pandemic, when what we need is to think about how we can help medical workers, doctors and virologists. You know very well what I am referring to.

Like 75 years ago, when Victory over a common enemy was won only by working together and rising above the ideological differences of the time, we now also need to realise that we will resolve these issues only if we cooperate. I’m sure we’ll talk about the future of the WHO later. We are in favour of resolving any issues based on the UN Charter, which is a collective security platform.

Our Western colleagues – I’ve already mentioned this many times – are trying to actively introduce the concept of a “rules-based order” into diplomatic, political and practical usage. This is not international law. This is something else (we can also talk about this in more detail during the discussion). Clearly, this is an attempt to regain the dominance that the historical West has enjoyed for almost 500 years now. This attempt takes the form of convening a “group of interests” and various partnerships, where convenient countries are invited that either share the attempts to adopt unilateral approaches to international affairs, or will yield to pressure and join these initiatives. Not everyone is invited. Those who have their own outlook on things and are ready to defend it are left out. Later, when a concept, say, on chemical weapons, is fabricated, or an attempt is made to create a club of the select few who will decide on who is to blame for violating cybersecurity, they will start selling it as universally applicable norms. We are witnessing this now as it’s happening. These are very serious problems.

I would like to conclude my opening remarks. Our main goal, as before, is to protect our national interests and create the most favourable external conditions for the country’s development. You may have noticed that we come up with ideas that unite. Convening a summit of the UN Security Council permanent members is our top priority. This effort is ongoing. We are now focusing on the substantive part of the event, because, of course, it will play the decisive part.

The current hardships in international relations increase the importance of these discussions and, in general, the contribution of the expert community, and academic and political circles, into the efforts to analyse the situation and make reasonable realistic forecasts. I’d be remiss not to mention the case study concept that Yevgeny Primakov introduced into our foreign policy and political science. We appreciate the fact that the participants and organisers of the Primakov Readings always help us draw from a rich well of ideas, from which we then pick the ones that we submit to the President to determine our policies in specific circumstances.

Question: Five years ago, an IMEMO strategic forecast assumed that a new bipolarity might emerge as one of the four scenarios for the future world order.   At that time, this hypothesis was based on the relative dynamics of the synergetic power of China and the United States.  The COVID-19 pandemic has provided plenty of evidence of this theory. Of course, a different – asymmetrical – bipolarity is emerging, where the strategic parity is between Russia and the US, and the economic parity is between China and the United States, which is distinct from what was the case in the 20th century.

Do you think that the US-PRC conflict has passed the point of no return? It is obvious that any exacerbation of this confrontation is not in Russia’s interests. Will Russia be able to act as a swing power in order to maintain stability of the world system, including based on your unique experience of multilateral diplomacy?

Sergey Lavrov: I remember the forecast you have mentioned. I would like to say that, certainly, a lot has changed over these past five years, primarily in terms of confirming that the confrontation, rivalry, antagonism, and the struggle for leadership between the United States and China have, of course, been mounting. Before I pass directly to an analysis of this bipolar process, I would like to note that the real situation in the world as a whole is much more complicated. After all, the world is growing more polycentric than it was previously. There are numerous players apart from the US and China, without whom it is very difficult to promote one’s interests, if some or other capital suddenly decides to do this single-handedly.  I think we will yet discuss some other possible options in this sense. Let me mention the fact that Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics   Sergey Karaganov has commented on this subject in an article for Russia in Global Affairs, a journal published by Fyodor Lukyanov.

It is quite clear that we should take into consideration, in our practical work, the entire diversity and totality of political, economic, military, historical, and ideological factors that are manifesting themselves in the multipolar world, a world that Yevgeny Primakov predicted. We are assessing the US-Chinese controversy against this backdrop and through this prism.  That it is not existing in a vacuum is, as a minimum, confirmed by the fact that each of the sides is seeking to recruit as many supporters of their approaches as possible to the WHO or any other subject that in some way or other is associated with Washington and Beijing as defining contradictions in their approaches.

The Americans are certainly perceiving the growth of the PRC’s total state power as a threat to their claims to retaining the world leadership against all odds. Back in 2017, the US National Security Strategy listed China, along with Russia, among the main threats. It was for the first time that China was put before Russia as a threat to the United States.

Russia and China were directly accused of seeking to challenge the American influence, values and prosperity.  It is quite clear that the US is waging a struggle by absolutely unsavoury methods, as is obvious and clear to everyone. They are putting forward unilateral demands that take into account solely the US interests. If demands are turned down, they say the refusal is unacceptable and introduce sanctions.

If a discussion is suggested, the discussion rapidly degenerates into delivering an ultimatum and ends up in selfsame sanctions – trade wars, tariffs, and lots more.

A highly indicative fact is how the Americans and the Chinese managed to come to terms on phase one of the trade talks in January and what the fate of this agreement is now. The US authorities are accusing Beijing of drawing off jobs and glutting the market, while showing reluctance to buy US products. According to the Americans, China is implementing the Belt and Road project intended to steamroll all world economy mechanisms, production chains, and so on.  China allegedly was concealing information on COVID-19 and is engaging in cyber espionage. Notice how zealously the Americans are forcing their allies and others to give up any collaboration with Huawei and other Chinese digital giants and companies. China’s hi-tech companies are being squeezed out of the world markets.  China is being charged with expansionism in the South China Sea, problems on the actual control line with India, human rights violations, and [misbehaviour with regard to] Tibet, the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. All of this is taking place simultaneously. A powerful wave of fault-finding, a perfect storm is being raised. I hope, of course, that common sense will prevail and the situation will not pass the point of no return mentioned by Mr Dynkin.

We hope that there are people in the United States, who are figuring out how to reassure the world of the dollar system’s reliability in the post-election period. The US Secretary of the Treasury is speaking about this all but openly. He is warning that they should be wary of overstepping the red line, after which people will just start fleeing from America, saying that the dollar is no good anymore because it is being brazenly abused.

There is, of course, hope that the Chinese possess a political, diplomatic and foreign policy culture that always seeks to avoid various imbroglios.  But there are also some very alarming signs that, despite these rays of hope, which must be nurtured and cherished, US and Chinese officials start getting personal, occasionally in a very harsh form. This bespeaks a high degree of tension on both sides. And, of course, this is really alarming.

I do hope that our Chinese and US partners have some diplomatic methods, ways of classical diplomacy tucked up their sleeve. People should not insult each other in public or accuse each other of all sins, as the Americans are doing on every street corner. A better option is to sit down [to the negotiating table] and recognise that your opposite number is a great power and that every state, be it a great power or otherwise, has interests that must be respected.  The world certainly should seek to function based on a search for a balance of these interests.

Now let me pass to the second question – that this aggravation is not in Russia’s interests. I think that it is totally at variance with our interests, the interests of the European Union, and those of other countries as well. If you take the EU, China-EU trade is absolutely comparable with trade between China and the US. I think it is also necessary to pay attention to the EU’s increasingly publicised aspirations as regards a strategic autonomy not only in the military-political and security sphere but also in trade and the economy. Incidentally, the EU also wants to start repatriating its industries and localise as many trade and distributive chains as possible on its territory. In this regard, it is entering direct competition with the Americans.

The EU is unlikely to support the United States on every count in its desire to bleed the Chinese economy white by “pumping over” all development-friendly processes to its territory. There will be a lot of wrinkles, tension and clashes of interests.

Today, unlike in 2014, when the EU, under atrocious US pressure, introduced sanctions against Russia, it is showing signs of sound pragmatism towards our country. Specifically, they have publicly announced that they will revise the notorious “five principles” that Federica Mogherini formulated several years ago to guide relations with Russia.  They also say that it is necessary to overhaul their entire approach so that it should be more consistent with EU interests.

Incidentally, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell gave a talk recently on EU and China and on EU and Russia. Asked, why not impose sanctions on China for Hong Kong and human rights, he said that sanctions were not a method to be used in relations with China. We inquired whether sanctions were, in his opinion, a method that could be used in relations with Russia?  Our European friends will be thinking about this. It is a tough question.

I think that the European Union and Russia have a stake in cooperating, but not to the detriment of anyone else.  Basically, we do not ally with others to organise some actions against a third party.  We prefer pragmatism and shared benefit. I think Brussels will be doing something to overcome the myopia of the recent period.  The survey of EU policy vis-à-vis Russia will give more heed to an analysis of the real benefits inherent in promoting relations with Russia and the EAEU.

I do not see any benefits that Russia could derive from a trade war between Washington and Beijing. We will not benefit from relations with the EU and India either. Relations with India are traditionally friendly and other than time-serving. I do not envisage any changes in this area. We have proclaimed a “specially privileged strategic partnership” with India. I do not see any reasons why our Indian friends should sacrifice the gains that exist in the context of our partnership and prospects that it opens.

Question: You have mentioned Russian-US relations. Of course, international security and strategic stability depend on them. The situation is rather alarming now because of a deep crisis in the arms control regime. It is possible that the last key treaty in this sphere will expire in six months. There are many reasons for this, both geopolitical and technological. I believe we have to admit that public opinion is not pressuring the political elites to maintain arms control as much as during the Cold War, when large-scale demonstrations were held, as we well remember. The highest priority threats for the public now are the pandemic, climate change and terrorism. The fear of a nuclear war has receded into the background. What can be done to change this, or will it take a new Cuban crisis for the public to become aware of the nuclear conflict threat and to start expressing its opinion?

Jointly with our academic community we are now holding many videoconferences with American experts. You have said that there are rational people in the United States. It can be said that these conferences offer an opportunity to coordinate a number of new proposals, which could be used to formulate our initiatives. Of course, we update the Foreign Ministry and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov about our activities. But it seems that today we need to think about some radical action, possibly in connection with the proposed summit of the five nuclear states, in order to create conditions that will help prevent the dismantling of the arms control regime and launch the creation of a new system of international security and strategic stability suited to the conditions of the 21st century.

Sergey Lavrov: I fully agree with you. Nuclear risks have increased dramatically, and the situation in the sphere of international security and strategic stability is visibly deteriorating. The reasons for this are obvious to everyone.  The United States wants to regain global domination and attain victory in what it describes as great-power rivalry. It has replaced the term “strategic stability” with “strategic rivalry.” It wants to win, whatever the price, as the saying goes. It is dismantling the arms control architecture so as to have the freedom to choose any instrument, including military force, to put pressure on its geopolitical opponents, and it wants to be able to use these instruments anywhere around the world. This is especially alarming in light of the changes in the doctrines of the US military-political authorities. These changes have allowed the limited use of nuclear weapons. It is notable that, like in the case of other strategic stability topics, the Americans have once again alleged that it is the Russian doctrine that permits the limited use of nuclear weapons and escalation for the sake of de-escalation and victory. They have recently issued comments on our doctrines, claiming that there are some secret parts where all of this is stipulated. This is not true. Meanwhile, we can see that the United States has adopted a number of practical programmes to support their doctrines with military and technical capabilities. This concerns the creation of low-yield nuclear warheads. American experts and officials are openly discussing this.

In this context, we are especially alarmed by the Americans’ failure to reaffirm – for two years now – the fundamental principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that therefore it must never be unleashed. Early in the autumn of 2018, we submitted to the American side our written proposal that has been formulated as the confirmation of what People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov and US President Franklin Roosevelt had coordinated and the notes they exchanged. We have reminded them about this proposal several times. They have replied that they are analysing it. Of course, we will raise the issue of the inadmissibility of fighting a nuclear war and winning it at the upcoming summit meeting of the five nuclear powers. It is important for our arguments to be no weaker than the arguments in the relevant Soviet-US documents. The slackening of these formulations has shown that the Americans would like to dilute the fact that there is no alternative to this principle and it cannot be repealed.

You have said that civil society is not paying sufficient attention to these threats, and I fully agree with you on this count. It is vital to attract public attention to this problem, to tell the people about the risks in understandable terms, because technicalities are often difficult to understand, and the form in which the analysis of this situation is presented to people is very important. Of course, we should count not only on official establishments but also on civil society and its politically active part – the NGOs and the academic and expert community.

I have said that I agree with you on this count, but I would also like to caution against going too far with raising public awareness of nuclear risks, so as not to play into the hands of those who want to prohibit all nuclear weapons and not to raise other concerns. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons openly contradicts the Non-Proliferation Treaty, creating confusion and problems. The necessary balance can be found with the help of top quality professionals, and I believe that we have more of them than any other country.

As for public sentiments, they do not always determine the reality. During the election campaign of US President Donald Trump, public sentiments were largely in tune with his declared plans and his calls for normalising Russian-US relations. Since then, the public has calmed down, and nobody is staging any riots over this matter.

Of course, it is vital to continue to interact directly with the nuclear powers and their authorities. We would like reasonable approaches to take priority.

You have mentioned that political consultations are underway between you, your colleagues and American experts. We appreciate this. Your contribution and assessments, as well as the information we receive following such consultations are taken into account and have a significant influence on the essence of our approaches, including in situations when we submit several alternatives to the leadership; this helps us analyse the possible scenarios and all their pros and cons.

The United States, as well as Britain and France, which are playing along with it, would like to limit the summit’s agenda to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. China sees this as an attempt to press through the idea of expanding the number of negotiating parties at the talks on nuclear weapons by one means or another. China has put forth its position on the idea of multilateral talks clearly and more than once. We respect this position. By the way, the Americans are clever at twisting things. They use only the parts of our statements and those of the Chinese that suit their position. The Chinese have said recently that they will join the arms control talks as soon as the Americans reduce their capability to the level of China’s arsenal. A day later, Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea announced that the United States welcomed China’s readiness to join the multilateral talks and invited Beijing to Vienna. The next round of Russian-US consultations at the level of experts will be held in late July, following on from the late June meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea, when the Americans made a show with Chinese flags. The Americans have once again stated publicly that they would like to invite the Chinese to Vienna but it would be better if Russia met with China before that so as to tell Beijing what Washington expects from it. I think everyone can see that this is impolite and undiplomatic. When we say that we proceed from the assumption that China is free to take whatever stand it deems necessary, it shows our respect for China’s position. I would like to add that the Americans have not put on paper anything of what they said about the need for transitioning to a multilateral format. Let them at least document what they have in mind. But they seem to be categorically averse to this.

We are ready to take part in multilateral talks, but it should be a voluntary and independent decision of everyone. Only voluntary participation can be effective.

None of the reservations are being taken into account. They say that Russia supports their call for multilateral talks. What do we hear when we add that multilateral talks must also include Britain and France? Special Envoy Billingslea didn’t blink when he said the other day in reply to a question about the possible involvement of Britain and France that they are sovereign states who are free to decide whether to join the talks or not, and that the United States will not make the decision for them. Why has it actually made the decision for China then?

Knowing the US negotiating party, I am not optimistic about the New START, for example, but it’s good that we have started talking. Sergey Ryabkov and Marshall Billingslea have agreed to set up three working groups within the framework of the process they are supervising. They will hold a meeting of the working group on space, nuclear and weapons transparency plus nuclear doctrines in Vienna between July 27 and 30. We’ll see what comes of it. We never refuse to talk, and we will try to make negotiations result-oriented.

Question: Extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is one of the critical items on the agenda of Russia-US relations, primarily in the sphere of arms control. If Russia fails to reach an agreement with Washington to renew this treaty before February 2021, what will it do next? If there’s a pause in the dialogue with Washington in the sphere of arms control, and if the treaty is not renewed, what will the arms control system become and will the multilateral formats that we are talking about now be possible in the future?

Sergey Lavrov: It appears that the United States has already decided not to renew this treaty. The fact that it insists that there’s no alternative to taking the deal to the trilateral format suggests that everything has been already decided. In addition to this, they want the latest Russian weapons to be part of the deal which, by and large, is nothing short of trying to force an open door. We told the Americans earlier on that when Avangard and Sarmat become fully deployed, they will be subject to the restrictions established by the treaty for as long as it remains valid. The other systems are new. They do not fit into the three categories covered by START-3, but we are ready to start talking about including the weapons that are not classical from the START-3 perspective in the discussion, of course, within the context of a principled discussion of all, without exceptions, variables that affect strategic stability that way or another. This includes missile defence, where we are now able to see that the once existing allegations that it was designed solely to stop the missile threat coming from Iran and North Korea, were lies. No one is even trying to bring this up anymore. Everything is being done solely in terms of containing Russia and China. Other factors include high-precision non-nuclear weapons known as a programme of instant global strike, openly promoted plans by the Americans and the French to launch weapons into space, the developments related to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a number of other factors too. We are ready to discuss new weapons, but to do so not in order to humour someone or to respond to someone’s initiatives, but to really reduce the threat to global stability and security.

To this end, we need to look at all the things that create these threats, pushing us to create antidotes, as was the case with our hypersonic weapons, which were developed in response to the global deployment of the US missile defence system.

Speaking specifically about the START-3 Treaty, we need an extension as much as the Americans do. They see some kind of a game in our calls to extend it for five more years without any preconditions. Russia, they say, has modernised its entire nuclear arsenal, but we are just beginning the modernisation, so they want to “tie our hands.” This is absolutely not so. We need to extend the START-3 Treaty as much as the Americans. If they refuse to do so, we will not insist. We know and we firmly believe that we will be able to ensure our security in the long run, even in the absence of this treaty. I think it is premature to discuss our actions if this treaty expires without any further action, but we are indeed ready for any turn of events. If the renewal is turned down, our options may be different, but I can assure you that overall we will continue the dialogue with the United States on strategic issues and new weapons control tools based on the facts that underlie strategic stability, as I just mentioned.

With regard to the multilateral talks, we already said back in 2010, when we were signing START-3, that the signing of this treaty puts an end to the possibility for further bilateral reductions and that, talking about future reductions, I emphasise this term, we will need to take into account the arsenals of other nuclear powers and start looking for other forms of discussions, if we’re talking about reductions. If we are talking about control, I think the bilateral Russian-American track has far more to offer. Losing all forms of control and transparency would probably be an unreasonable and irresponsible thing to do in the face of our nations and other nations as well. I believe the fact that there’s a transparency group (this is a broad term that includes measures of trust and verification) among the Russian-American working groups which will be meeting in Vienna soon, is a good sign.

Question: The Eurasian countries regard Russia as a mainstay that can connect the EU and Asian countries. How do you see Russia’s role in this space?

Sergey Lavrov: The situation on the Eurasian continent is fully affected by almost all global factors. This is where a number of the most important world centres are located, including China, Russia, India and the European Union if we are talking about the continent as a whole. For various reasons, each of these actors is motivated to pursue a foreign policy independent from the United States. This includes the EU.

Calls for strategic autonomy extend to the development area as such. We in Eurasia feel the influence of forces that would like to put together interest-based blocs and try to introduce elements of confrontation into various processes. We increasingly see centripetal tendencies. I am referring to ASEAN in the east and the EU in the west of our continent.

Located in the centre is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Union. We would like to promote unifying, not divisive approaches in this space  and intensify trans-regional collaboration based on equality, mutual benefit, and most importantly, we would like to realise the obvious comparative advantages of cooperation on the continent via integration entities created in the West, East, and Centre, with respect for each of these unions and the search for natural forms of collaboration. This is the goal of what we call the Greater Eurasian Partnership that President Vladimir Putin suggested establishing at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi a few years ago. We think this is an absolutely realistic action plan.

Let me note parenthetically that there are opposing approaches. They are mostly promoted by the United States through so-called Indo-Pacific concepts aimed at undermining the central systematic role of ASEAN in the Asia-Pacific region. I am referring to an attempt to put together a group of countries that would openly – this is not even hidden – contain China’s development.

I would favour identifying points of contact among all integration processes. Of course, there is China’s Belt and Road concept. The EAEU has an agreement with China that includes identifying points of contact and the harmonisation of any project that will be implemented as part of Eurasian integration and China’s project. Of course, there is a clash of economic interests in a number of cases, but the sides’ willingness to be guided by international legal principles, respect for each other, and mutual benefit makes it possible to agree on these economic interests based on the search for balance. It is in this way that our relations with our EAEU partners, China within the SCO, and ASEAN, are built. We invite the European Union, as has been repeatedly stated, to consider how it can become part of the development of our common geopolitical and primarily geo-economic space with benefits for itself and for others.

Question: The Middle East and North Africa remain a troubled region. New divides continue to crop up there; the potential for conflict remains and the old conflicts that everyone knows about persist. The humanitarian situation is aggravated due to the West’s unfair sanctions against a certain part of the region. Various asymmetries are growing deeper. What are Russia’s strategic interests in the region today? What do we want to achieve there, given the post-COVID nature of the era we are now entering?

Sergey Lavrov: We have very good relations in this region, possibly the best in the history of relations between this country, in its various capacities, and the region. I mean relations with all sides: the Arab countries, regardless of the conflict potential within the Arab world, and Israel. We will proceed from the need to promote positive contact with all these countries and seek to understand their problems and needs, and take this into account in our relations not only with a specific country but also with the countries that this particular partner has problems with.

In the beginning, I was asked whether Russia was ready to perform as a balancing influence in relations between the United States and China. If they ask us to, if they are interested, we would not decline this. We have established contacts with both sides and our historical development record enables us to see that we have potential.

If there is interest in mediation services that we can offer in this region or elsewhere, we are always ready to try to help, but of course, we will not push ourselves on anyone. Our own interest is primarily in precluding new military crises and in settling old crises so that the Middle East and North Africa become a zone of peace and stability. Unlike certain major countries outside the region, we have no strategic interest in maintaining controlled chaos. We have no such interest whatsoever.

We are not interested in engineering head-on clashes between countries in the region so as to create a pretext and a motive for continuing, and sometimes expanding, our military presence there. We are interested in promoting mutually beneficial trade, economic, investment and other ties with these states. In this respect, we would not like any other country in the region to have the same fate as Libya, which was robbed of its statehood and now no one knows how to “sew it together.” This is why we will be actively involved in efforts to reestablish an international legal approach to avoid any further toothpowder-filled test tubes passed off as VX and lies about weapons of mass destruction in other countries in the region as is now happening in Syria. Some have already started talking about “undiscovered” chemical weapons in Libya. All of these are inventions. How they are concocted is no secret.

We would like to derive economic benefits from our relations with the countries in the region. For this, we primarily have much in common in our approaches to problems in the contemporary world: international law, the UN Charter, and inter-civilisational dialogue, something that is also important, considering the Muslim population in the Russian Federation. Russia’s Muslim republics maintain good ties with the Gulf countries and other countries in the Arab world. We would like to support and develop all this. We will not gain anything from the chaos that continues in the region. As soon as the situation stabilises, the Russian Federation’s reliability as a partner in economic cooperation, military-technical cooperation, and the political area will always ensure us important advantages.

Question: My question is related to the recent changes in Russia. The new wording of the Constitution, which has come into effect, includes a provision according to which any actions (with the exception of delimitation, demarcation and re-demarcation of the state border of the Russian Federation with adjacent states) aimed at alienating part of the Russian territory, as well as calls for such actions, shall be prohibited. This provision is understandable. This brings me to my question: Does this mean that our years-long talks with Japan on the so-called territorial dispute have become anti-constitutional because they contradict our Fundamental Law? As far as I recall, the terms “delimitation” and “demarcation” have never been applied to the Kuril Islands, or have they?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, you are spot on. Our relations with Japan are based on a number of agreements. The Russian Federation as the successor state of the Soviet Union has reaffirmed its commitment to all of the agreements signed by the Soviet Union. President Vladimir Putin has confirmed this more than once. This includes the 1956 Declaration under which we are ready to discuss and are discussing with our Japanese colleagues the necessity of signing a peace treaty, but not a treaty that would have been signed the next day after the last shot, that is, immediately after the termination of the war, as some of our Japanese colleagues would like. The state of war between the Soviet Union and Japan was terminated by the 1956 Declaration, which provides for the end of the state of war and for the restoration of diplomatic relations. What else do we need? In other words, a peace treaty we are negotiating should be modern and comprehensive, and it should not reflect the situation of 60-70 years ago but the current state of affairs, when we believe that we should develop full-scale ties with Japan. This document must be essential and inclusive, that is, it should include issues of peace, friendship, neighbourliness, partnership and cooperation, and it should cover all spheres of our relations, including economic ties, which are improving but not in all economic sectors. It should be remembered that our Japanese neighbours have imposed sanctions on Russia, although they are not as all-embracing as the US restrictions, but anyway.

A peace treaty should also cover security topics, because Japan has a close military alliance with the United States, which has essentially declared Russia to be an enemy. Of course, a comprehensive peace treaty should also include our views on foreign policy interaction, where, to put it simply, we disagree on all disputable matters, as well as humanitarian and cultural ties and many other factors. We have offered a concept of such a treaty. Our Japanese colleagues have not responded to this concept so far.

It is clear that the outcome of WWII is the fundamental issue that should determine our relations. Japanese officials have stated more than once that they recognise the results of WWII excluding the decision concerning the South Kuril Islands, or the “Northern Territories,” as they say. This position contradicts the law. Japan’s position must be based on the fact that the country ratified the UN Charter, which essentially means that the actions taken by the winner countries with regard to the enemy countries are beyond discussion.

Of course, our Japanese neighbours keep saying that they would sign a peace treaty as soon as the territorial dispute is settled. This is not what we have agreed to do. We have agreed to focus on signing a peace treaty as stipulated in the 1956 Declaration.

Question: Russia often criticises the US for promoting non-inclusive associations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans to isolate “uncomfortable” states. I am primarily referring to the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad. Obviously, the very existence of such formats turns the region from a zone of cooperation into a zone of confrontation. We are certainly not interested in that. However, for all its minuses, the Quad concept is obviously finding understanding from Russia’s strategic partners, for instance, India. The Quad Plus project, where the US plans to invite Vietnam, our strategic partner as well, is also under discussion. Apparently, there is a need to enhance security in the region. Can Russia offer an alternative to such formats to prevent our two strategic partners from being in a position where they have to deter a third one?

Sergey Lavrov: I talked about the appearance of concepts and strategies on forming what US diplomats call “a free and open Indo-Pacific” several years ago. When some initiative calls itself free and open, I always have the impression that this includes a tinge of PR because how can it be called open if every state the region without exception is not invited to join?

When the term “Indo-Pacific strategies” appeared we inquired if they did not deal with the Asia-Pacific Region the contours of which are clear: the APEC, and the mechanisms that were established around ASEAN (the ASEAN regional security forum, the meeting of the ASEAN defence ministers and the partner countries, which is very important and, of course, the East Asia Summit (EAS), a forum that will be a decade old this year). We asked why the established term, Asia-Pacific Region, was replaced with this “Indo-Pacific strategies.” Does this mean that these strategies will embrace more countries, including all Indian Ocean coastal states? We received a negative answer. But what does “Indo” mean then? Will the Persian Gulf, which is part of the Indian Ocean, take part in the new format? We got a negative answer again. The Gulf has too many problems to be involved in these initiatives.

As for the ideas pursued by this Quad, as I have said, they are not really hiding them. These ideas come down to attempts to deter China. Our specially privileged partner India is fully aware of this. Pursuing its multi-vector policy, India is certainly interested in developing relations with the US (and who isn’t?), Japan and Australia. We are also interested in this. But India does not want to benefit from this cooperation at the price of further aggravating its relations with China. They had sad incidents on the Line of Actual Control but we welcome their immediate contacts between militaries, which are ongoing. They reached agreements on de-escalating tensions. Their politicians and diplomats also met. We can see that neither India nor China want their relations to get worse. Therefore, before talking seriously about Indo-Pacific strategies as a future for our large region, it is necessary to explain the choice of wording. If this was done to please India because of the Indian Ocean, just say so.

There are things that have already been established. I mentioned a diverse network of institutions and mechanisms around ASEAN. ASEAN brings together a group of countries that promote unifying approaches in the context of their civilisations and cultures. Everything is aimed at searching for consensus based on a balance of interests. For decades, the members have been absolutely content with developing relations in this venue with its regional security forum, defence minister meetings and East Asia Summits. There is even an expression: “ASEAN-way.” They always emphasise that they want to handle matters in “the ASEAN-way.” This means never to seek confrontation or launch projects that will create problems for other members. Regrettably, Indo-Pacific strategies may pursue different goals, at least under their initial concept.

In the beginning of our conversation, I mentioned the tough claims made by the US against China. They sound like an ultimatum. This is a mechanism for exerting and intensifying pressure. We do not see anything positive in this. Any problems must be resolved peacefully, through talks. Let me repeat that ASEAN is an ideal venue where every participant can discuss its problems with another member without polemics or tension. We are actively forming bridges with ASEAN (I mentioned the EAEU and the SCO). Their secretariats have already signed related memorandums. We will continue promoting ASEAN’s core role in the South Pacific Region.

We will only welcome Indo-Pacific strategies if they become more understandable, if we are convinced that they lean towards joining the ASEAN-led processes rather than try to undermine its role and redirect the dialogue against China or someone else. However, we are not seeing this so far.

Question: A week ago, experts were polled on US allegations that Russian military intelligence, the GRU, had offered rewards to the Taliban for killing US troops in Afghanistan. All of the analysts agree that the allegation could be rooted in domestic, primarily political reasons. Your subordinate, Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, has pointed out that one of the factions in the United States is against the planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan because US security services have become deeply involved in the drug trade over the past few years. We have not asked you about this situation yet. What do you think about this uproar?

Sergey Lavrov: We have already responded to the hype in the United States over Russia’s alleged connection with the Taliban, who were allegedly financed to fight US troops and even offer bounties for the murder of American military personnel. I can only tell you once again that all this is a dirty speculation. No facts have been provided to prove anything. Moreover, responsible officials in the US administration, including the Secretary of Defence, have said that they know nothing about this.

These allegations fit in very well with the political fighting during an election year in the United States, as if they were invented – and it appears that this is so – for this purpose. The objective is to disgrace the US administration and to discredit everything it has been doing, especially with regard to Russia. I would like to repeat that there are no facts to prove these allegations. But there were facts in the late 1970s and 80s, when the US administration did not make a secret of helping the Mujahedeen, of supplying them with Stingers and other weapons, which they used against Soviet soldiers.

As I have said, we would like both Russia and the United States to draw lessons from the experience they have accumulated in that long-suffering country and to help launch an intra-Afghan dialogue together with the other countries that could help allay tensions there, primarily China, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan’s other neighbours. We have been working actively towards this end.

As for the United States, we have been acting within the framework of this political process under the agreements being advocated by the United States in its dialogue with the Taliban and the Afghan Government. We are using our channels to make these agreements possible. There is a mechanism for consultations between Russia, the United States and China, which Pakistan sometimes joins and to which Iran has been invited. However, Iran has not acted on the invitation because of its problems with the United States and the actions Washington has been taking against Iran around the world. These consultations are a mechanism for cooperation that is being used to define the spheres where signals could be sent to the sides. This is being done within the framework of the logic of the so-called Moscow format, which brings together all of Afghanistan’s neighbours without exception, as well as the United States, Russia and China. This is more than adequate.

Now, regarding Afghanistan’s drugs and the possible involvement of the US military in the drug business. We have received numerous reports, including through the media, according to which NATO aircraft are being used to smuggle Afghan opiates to other countries, including to Europe. The governors of the concerned Afghan provinces have stated more than once that unmarked helicopters are flying in the area. It should be noted that the sky over Afghanistan is controlled by the NATO coalition. Other reports have mentioned other forms of smuggling opiates.

Of course, we cannot verify such information to the dot, but it has been reported so regularly that we cannot ignore it. If combat aircraft were used in Afghanistan (as I mentioned, it could only be NATO aircraft), the flights could only be made by military or intelligence personnel. These circumstances should be investigated, first of all in the United States. The Americans have agencies that are in charge of monitoring compliance with American laws. Second, investigations should also be held in the country where military personnel are deployed, that is, Afghanistan. This is exactly what Zamir Kabulov said. By the way, established facts show that over the 20 years of the deployment of the US and other coalition members in Afghanistan the volume of drugs smuggled into other countries, including in Europe and our neighbours, as well as into Russia, has increased several times over. Neither the United States nor the other members of the NATO coalition are seriously fighting this drug business. By the way, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko noted in a recent report that there are opium poppy plantations right next to NATO bases. This is an established fact. And this is possibly not right from the viewpoint of the US stand on the drug business.

We have regularly tried to attract the UN Security Council’s attention to this issue when we listened to reports on NATO coalition operations in Afghanistan, and we also did this via bilateral channels when we urged our partners to combat the drug industry. They replied that the mandate of the NATO mission in Afghanistan did not include drugs, that it only stipulated counterterrorist activities. But it is a well-known fact that the drug business is used to finance terrorism and is the largest source of funds for terrorist organisations. You can reach your own conclusions. As I have pointed out, we take this problem very seriously.

QuestionA few hours after this meeting of the Primakov Readings is over, an extraordinary UN General Assembly session on combating the pandemic will begin at 10 am New York time. This session was convened by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). How important is this session? Who will represent Russia? Do you think the UN is late in responding to the pandemic? What do you think about the Non-Aligned Movement’s principles in these conditions?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, we are aware that a special session of the UN General Assembly on the subject of COVID-19 will be convened upon the initiative of the Non-Aligned Movement chaired by Azerbaijan this year. It will take place a little later. Today, on July 10, the procedural registration of the rules to be used for convening the session begins, since amid the coronavirus infection, all remotely held events are subject to coordination in terms of their organisational and procedural aspects. Only this matter will be discussed today. The date for convening the special session itself has not yet been determined.

I don’t think we have any reason to believe that the UN is slow or late in responding to the coronavirus infection challenges. The UN General Assembly met twice some time ago at an early stage of this situation. Two resolutions were adopted which were dedicated to the international community’s goals in fighting the coronavirus infection. Most recently, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on COVID-19. We were unable to do this for a long time because the Americans strongly opposed mentioning the role of the World Health Organisation in the document. Eventually, we found words that allowed us to mention this role and to ensure consensus approval.

Let us remember that the World Health Assembly, by the way, with the participation of the Americans, held a special session in May. The WHA adopted a resolution supported by the US in which the WHO’s role was objectively reflected. It was agreed at that session that as soon as the pandemic and all major programmes are completed, an international assessment of the lessons we learned from the WHO’s work in this area would be made, but without pointing a finger at anyone. It is an objective scientific evaluation of independent professionals.

Of course, the Non-Aligned Movement is our close partner. We are a guest country that is regularly invited to NAM summits and ministerial meetings in this capacity. This body was created in a wholly different historical context at the height of the Cold War, when the developing countries that formed this movement wanted to emphasise the principle of neutrality with respect for the two military blocs. Nevertheless, the Non-Aligned Movement remains a significant factor in international politics even after the Cold War. I think this is good, since the attempts to cobble up certain blocks again (we have already discussed this today) continue. It is important that this neutrality, non-commitment and focus on advancing the principles of international law be preserved at the core of NAM activities.

By the way, another NAM summit was held in Baku in October 2019. We attended it as a guest. Important joint statements were agreed upon. We confirmed our support for strengthening multipolarity in the international arena and respect for the UN Charter principles. NAM statements in support of Palestine and Bolivia were adopted as well. Back then, these were important topics. We are interested in seeing our status in NAM help us actively work on issues of common interest.

Question: Did Dmitry Kozak give an ultimatum at the talks on the Minsk agreements, telling Kiev to draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine on the special status of Donbass as soon as possible? If so, why has this demand become so tough only now that these agreements are already five years old?

Sergey Lavrov: There were no demands or ultimatums. Working as Normandy format advisors, the assistants of the four leaders that are part of our Contact Group, we are trying to ensure, in cooperation with the OSCE, the direct dialogue that Kiev is required to conduct with Donetsk and Lugansk. Conceptually, we are striving for only one goal – we are asking our Ukrainian partners to reaffirm their full commitment to the Minsk agreements as they were drafted, signed and approved by the UN Security Council. When we are told that Kiev is committed to the Minsk agreements but that it is necessary to first establish control of the Ukrainian Army and border guards over the entire border, this has nothing to do with the Minsk agreements. This is a deliberate attempt to mislead the public. When we are told, at the top level, that the Minsk agreements must be preserved to continue the sanctions against Russia, we would like to know if Ukraine is primarily interested in these agreements because of the sanctions, why it signed them and whether it is still committed to what is written in them rather than this absolutely artificial and inadequate link with sanctions. The majority of EU members consider this link incoherent. This is an approach of principle. I talked with the foreign ministers of France and Germany. Mr Kozak spoke with his counterparts as well. We would like our French and German partners to continue to express their views about this as participants in the Normandy format. Every day, we hear Kiev’s official statements that simply discard the agreements that were reaffirmed by the UN Security Council after the talks in Minsk.

For all this, we continue to hold pragmatic conversation with a view to coordinating specific steps on promoting all aspects of the Minsk agreements: security, socio-economic, humanitarian and political issues. At the recent, fairly productive meeting of the leaders’ assistants of the Normandy format states, the participants reached a number of agreements on yet another detainee exchange, and the Contact Group’s security arrangements, including reconciliation of the texts of the orders that must be adopted by the parties to the conflict (Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk) and describe in detail the actions to be banned by these orders. These issues were agreed upon. The third negotiated item on the political agenda is the presentation by Ukraine of its vision of the document that will contain amendments to the Constitution to reflect the special status of Donbass fully in line with the Minsk agreements.

Understandings were reached in these three areas and were supposed to be formalised in the decisions of the Contact Group that ended its session the other day. In Minsk, the Ukrainian delegation disavowed everything that was agreed upon in Berlin. We noted this, and Deputy Chief of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak sent a related message to his colleagues. So, this is no surprise at all. We have always insisted that the Minsk agreements must be carried out in full and with the due succession of actions. It’s not that we are losing patience, but patience helps when there is a clear understanding of what comes next. President Vladimir Zelensky came to power under a slogan of quick peace in Donbass. However, at this point, we have no idea what the attitude of his administration is to the actions that must be taken under the Minsk agreements.

Question: Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton writes in his memoirs that US President Donald Trump was unhappy about the sanctions over Salisbury and Syria. Did you hear about this? Is the agreement with the US on the exchange of top level visits still valid? Is Russia’s participation in the extended G7 format being considered?

Sergey Lavrov: I haven’t read John Bolton’s memoirs but I’m familiar with some parts of his book. Clearly, Mr Bolton has his own view of Russia-US relations, the US mission in the world, and America’s vision of the world order and what it should be. Apparently, every author wants his or her book to sell well (and in America practically every person writes a book after serving in the government for one or two years). To achieve this, it is necessary to make it interesting, and “hot issues” are helpful in this respect. I’ll leave all this on the conscience of Mr Bolton: both his presentation of this material and the spicy and sensitive details. I’ll also leave on his conscience his obvious embellishment of US actions in different situations.

Nobody has signed any agreements on exchanging top level visits because such an agreement implies a certain date for a visit, and the name of the city and geographical location. But nobody is discounting the possibility of such meetings, either. We are willing to work with the Americans at all levels and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has good relations with US President Donald Trump. From time to time, I talk with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. Our deputies also maintain a dialogue. So, if the Americans are interested, we do not see any obstacles. We don’t want our relations to be seen as some appendage to the election campaign and the tough actions taken by the sides as regards each other on the eve of the US election.

As for the G7, I think we have already said everything we wanted to say on this issue. Russia was a full member of the G8. The G8 did not meet in 2014 and not due to any action on our part. Our partners — Europe, North America and Japan — decided not to hold this event in full. This is their choice. President Vladimir Putin said in one of his comments that as before we will be happy to host the entire G8 in the Russian Federation. If our colleagues do not want this, love cannot be forced.

As for the G7, the list of countries invited to attend, as mentioned by US President Donald Trump, shows that the G7 can no longer accomplish much on its own. But even the countries that were mentioned will not make any radical change because the list is incomplete. We are convinced that the serious issues of the world and global finances can hardly be resolved effectively. Apparently, these reasons — the need to involve the main players in world financial, economic and commodity markets — have prompted the resumption and upgrade of activities in the G20. This is an inclusive mechanism that relies on consensus and the principles of equality. We believe the G20 format must obviously be preserved, encouraged and actively used if we want to talk about the underlying causes of current economic problems rather than their use in foreign policy disputes or any other sort of rhetoric.

Question: In Russia, they always say that they are ready to work with any president that is elected by the American people. Can you predict potential development of bilateral relations if former US Vice President Joe Biden wins? Do you think some analysts are correct in believing that he could revise some of President Donald Trump’s decisions, which do not benefit Russia, such as withdrawal from the INF Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty?

Sergey Lavrov: We do not comment on election campaigns. This is done by the media in all countries. The election campaign in the US is creating much interest in the entire world. This is understandable, but officially we proceed from the correct assumption that the choice of the head of state is up to the American people. This is a domestic US affair.

As for how this or that outcome might affect Russia-US relations, if we reason in a perfectly abstract way, we can quote some analysts that have commented on how this will influence disarmament talks. There is an opinion that is probably buttressed by some facts, that the Democrats are less prone than the Republicans to destroy the agreements on strategic stability and disarmament that had been reached over the past few decades. But we have not forgotten that a major anti-Russia campaign was launched during the Democratic administration of Barrack Obama. Many elements of this campaign, including sanctions, are now an element of bipartisan consensus. I don’t want to guess. This situation is unpredictable. Let me repeat, let the American people make their decision.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights that is in charge, among other things, of monitoring elections, has conducted such monitoring remotely and distributed a report that was recently presented at the OSCE Permanent Council. The report contains many critical remarks about the correlation of election processes to American laws. I will not go into details. You can read this report yourself. But the report mentions, in particular, that for a variety of reasons at least 2 million US citizens are deprived of the right of the vote to which they are entitled by law. Interestingly, the report notes such a congenital defect in US election legislation, notably, a two-stage election process.

At first, people elect the Electoral College that later on chooses the president. The report also noted that the creation of the electoral districts is unfair to different ethnic groups. This is an indicative observation on behalf of the OSCE. We have spoken about this for a long time. I also recall that when Condoleezza Rice was US Secretary of State, she complained about our elections. I replied that if she had specific grievances, we had international and domestic observers and many other mechanisms and the entire process would be analysed. I reminded her that in the US a nominee can win a popular vote but a different candidate can be elected president because of different shares of votes in the electoral districts and the Electoral College. This is what happened in 2000 when the Florida votes were recounted for such a long time. Eventually, this process was stopped by the Supreme Court. George Bush Jr became US President and Alexander Gore accepted his defeat. Ms Rice told me then that they know this is a problem but this is their problem and they will settle it themselves. They probably will respond to the OSCE report in the same way.

As for the prospects and the projection of this or other decision on treaties, including the Open Skies Treaty, in line with the current schedule and its own announced decision on withdrawal, the US is supposed to end its participation in the treaty on November 22 or two and a half weeks after the election. No matter who becomes president, the new administration will assume its duties on January 20. Therefore, this decision will not likely be revised if the treaty expires. If the new administration, Democratic or Republican, decides to return to the treaty, the talks will have to be started from scratch. Therefore, at the extraordinary conference of the signatories of the Open Skies Treaty that was held online on July 6 of this year, we urged all remaining parties to the treaty to try and preserve it. We are prepared to continue with it but will take our final decision on whether we should remain part of it after analysing all consequences of the US decision on withdrawing from it, that is unlikely to be revised. It is final and irreversible as we are seeing, in my opinion. This is also confirmed by what happened with the INF Treaty. The decision was announced. This was followed by attempts at persuading them to keep it but to no avail.

But let me return to what I said in replying to one of the questions. We are ready for a situation where nothing will be left of arms control due to the US’s persistent line to throw all of these agreements out. But we are also prepared not to start from scratch but continue our contacts with the Americans on all strategic stability issues. I am confident that all members of the international community will support this approach. That said, we will keep the door open for multilateral talks as well. Let me repeat that these talks must rely on common understanding, voluntary participation and a balanced lineup of participants.

Selected Articles: The Pentagon’s “Anti-China Weapons” and “The New Silk Roads”

By Global Research News

Global Research, July 13, 2020

We hope that by publishing diverse view points, submitted by journalists and experts dotted all over the world, the website can serve as a reminder that no matter what narrative we are presented with, things are rarely as cut and dry as they seem.

If Global Research has been a resource which has offered you some solace over the past few months, we ask you to make a financial contribution to our running costs so that we may keep this important project alive and well! We thank you for your support!

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Busted: 11 COVID Assumptions Based on Fear Not Fact

By Makia Freeman, July 13, 2020

COVID assumptions – the assumptions people make about COVID, how dangerous it is, how it spreads and what we need to do to stop it – are running rampant, running far more wildly than the supposed virus SARS-CoV2 itself. The coldly calculated campaign of propaganda surrounding this ‘pandemic’ has achieved its aim. Besieged with a slew of contradictory information coming from all angles, people in general have succumbed to confusion. Some have given up trying to understand the situation and found it is just easier to obey official directives, even if it means giving up long-held rights. Below is a list of commonly held COVID assumptions which, if you believe them, will make you much more likely to submit to the robotic, insane and abnormal conditions of the New Normal – screening, testing, contact tracing, monitoring, surveillance, mask-wearing, social distancing, quarantine and isolation, with mandatory vaccination and microchipping to come.

Congress Wants More Unnecessary Anti-China Weapons Programs in Annual Defense Bill

By Michael T. Klare, July 13, 2020

Cotton’s proposal, stuffed with lucrative giveaways to the defense industry — $1.6 billion for “logistics and security enablers,” $775 million for “building national resilience to space weather,” among others — bears little apparent relevance to the military equation in Asia and is unlikely to be embraced by a majority of Senators. However, many of his proposed budgetary add-ons have been incorporated into other measures aimed at boosting U.S. military might in the Asia-Pacific region.

75 Years Ago: When Szilard Tried to Halt Dropping Atomic Bombs Over Japan

By Greg Mitchell, July 13, 2020

On July 3, 1945, the great atomic scientist Leo Szilard finished a letter/petition that would become the strongest (virtually the only) real attempt at halting President Truman’s march to using the atomic bomb–still almost two weeks from its first test at Trinity–against Japanese cities.

We rarely hear that as the Truman White House made plans to use the first atomic bombs against Japan in the summer of 1945, a large group of atomic scientists, many of whom had worked on the bomb project, raised their voices, or at least their names, in protest. They were led by the great physicist Szilard who, among things, is the man who convinced Albert Einstein to write his famous yes-it-can-be-done letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, setting the bomb project in motion.

As the Arctic Burns, Trump Bailouts Fossil Fuel Industry with Billions

By Andy Rowell, July 13, 2020

The Arctic is once again on fire. And the extremely warm temperatures in the region — and concurrent wildfires — are another urgent reminder that we need to divest from fossil fuels as soon as possible.

They are a pressing reminder that any post COVID-19 bailout should be focused on an immediate just recovery toward industry workers, renewables, and clean energy.

The UK Reading Stabbings: Al Qaeda LIFG Terrorists Supported by UK. Product of British Foreign Policy

By Tony Cartalucci, July 12, 2020

It should surprise no one paying attention that the suspect in the recent stabbing spree in Reading, UK was not only known to British security agencies as an extremist and security threat, but that he comes from the pool of extremists the British aided Washington in funding, arming, training, and providing air support for during the 2011 overthrow of the Libyan government and have harbored before and ever since.

Looks Like Sweden Was Right After All

By Mike Whitney, July 12, 2020

Why is the media so fixated on Sweden’s coronavirus policy? What difference does it make?

Sweden settled on a policy that they thought was both sustainable and would save as many lives as possible. They weren’t trying to ‘show anyone up’ or ‘prove how smart they were’. They simply took a more traditionalist approach that avoided a full-scale lockdown. That’s all.

Iran and China Turbo-charge the New Silk Roads

By Pepe Escobar, July 12, 2020

Two of the US’s top “strategic threats” are getting closer and closer within the scope of the New Silk Roads – the leading 21st century project of economic integration across Eurasia. The Deep State will not be amused.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi blasted as “lies”  a series of rumors about the “transparent roadmap” inbuilt in the evolving Iran-China strategic partnership.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Global Research News, Global Research, 2020

دروس التاريخ التي يجب أن نستخلصها من أجل المستقبل العادل

ألكسندر زاسبكين

في 22 حزيران 1941 بدأت الحرب الوطنية العظمى للاتحاد السوفياتي ضدّ ألمانيا الفاشية وحلفائها. واليوم نتذكر هذا التاريخ لنحيي بطولة الشعب السوفياتي الذي وقف صفاً واحداً ضدّ العدوان، مؤمناً بحتمية هزيمة المعتدي الذي كان يسعى إلى إبادة شعوب الاتحاد السوفياتي على اختلاف قومياتها والاستيلاء على أراضيها. كما نتمسك بالحفاظ على صدق الرواية والوقائع التاريخية لتطورات الأوضاع ما قبل الحرب وأثناءها وبعدها ولا نسمح بتزوير الحقيقة الذي يجري خلال الفترة الأخيرة في أميركا ودول أوروبية.

يحاول هؤلاء وضع ألمانيا الهتلرية والاتحاد السوفياتي في كفة واحدة لجهة تحميلهما معاً وعلى حدّ سواء المسؤولية عن الحرب. وفي الواقع إذ يشوّهون صورة الاتحاد السوفياتي التاريخية فهم يقصدون استهداف روسيا حالياً. والعودة إلى التاريخ تفيدنا أنه في عام 1932 وافقت الولايات المتحدة وإنكلترا وفرنسا على إعادة تسليح ألمانيا وفي عام 1938 تمّ «توحيد» ألمانيا والنمسا ووقعت بريطانيا وفرنسا معاهدة ميونخ مع ألمانيا التي أدّت إلى تقسيم تشيكوسلوفاكيا بمشاركة بولندا وتعزيز القطاع الصناعي العسكري الألماني، وكانت الفكرة الأساسية لكلّ هذه المناورات تشجيع ألمانيا الهتلرية للهجوم على الاتحاد السوفياتي. وتؤكد ذلك حالة «الحرب الزائفة» أيّ عدم تحرك قوات فرنسا وبريطانيا في بداية الحرب العالمية الثانية حتى شنّت ألمانيا هجوماً واسعاً على بلجيكا وهولندا وفرنسا في أيار 1940. أما الاتحاد السوفياتي فخلال سنوات بقي يطرح مبادرات خاصة بالأمن المشترك في أوروبا وتشكيل التحالف ضدّ هتلر، حتى وقع مضطراً في آب 1939 معاهدة عدم الاعتداء مع ألمانيا بعدما فشلت كلّ المبادرات لتحصين المواجهة بموقف موحد. وفرضت عقد هذه المعاهدة ظروف اندلاع الأعمال العسكرية بين الاتحاد السوفياتي واليابان وكانت بذلك خطوة ذكية حمت المصالح الوطنية للاتحاد السوفياتي بتأجيل الحرب مع ألمانيا.

لذلك كله كان من المهمّ جداً نشر الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين لمقال بعنوان «75 عاماً من النصر العظيم: مسؤولية مشتركة تجاه التاريخ والمستقبل» الذي يكشف معلومات عن مرحلة قبل الحرب ودروس يجب أن نستخلصها منها. وورد في المقال: «لم تحدث الحرب العالمية الثانية بين عشية وضحاها، ولم تبدأ بشكل غير متوقع أو فجأة. ولم يكن العدوان الألماني على بولندا من العدم. كانت نتيجة عدد من الميول والعوامل للسياسة العالمية في ذلك الوقت. وقعت جميع أحداث ما قبل الحرب في مكانها لتشكل سلسلة قاتلة واحدة. لكن، بلا شك، كانت العوامل الرئيسية التي حدّدت مسبقاً أكبر مأساة في تاريخ البشرية هي أنانية الدول والجبن واسترضاء المعتدي الذي كان يكتسب القوة وعدم استعداد النخب السياسية للبحث عن حلّ وسط».

نعتبر توضيح وقائع الأجواء السياسية وتصرفات الدول التي أدّت إلى اشتعال الحرب العالمية الثانية حاجة ملحّة لأننا نرى سلوكاً متشابهاً في الظروف الدولية الراهنة عندما تحاول الأوساط الغربية الحاكمة أن تفرض إرادتها على شعوب العالم وتحاول إسقاط الأنظمة الشرعية بذريعة «حماية حقوق الإنسان» أو «تأييد الثوار». وتستخدم هذه الأوساط استفزازات ودعاية كاذبة يشارك فيها السياسيون والخبراء والصحافيون الذين يخلقون عالماً افتراضياً موازياً لتضليل الرأي العام العالمي وذلك للحفاظ على الهيمنة بكلّ الطرق الممكنة بما في ذلك عدوان مباشر وتأييد مجموعات إرهابية ومراهنة على فتن طائفية وفوضى وتفكيك الدول وفرض العقوبات الاقتصادية التي تسفر عن تجويع الناس المدنيين.

في عصر أسلحة الدمار الشامل يحتاج العالم إلى تعزيز الاستقرار الاستراتيجي على أساس مبدأ عدم تجزئة الأمن ومشاركة الجميع على قدم المساواة. لكن الولايات المتحدة تنسحب من المعاهدات الرئيسيّة التي تشكل إطاراً قانونياً دولياً في هذا المجال. علاوة على ذلك يجري العمل التخريبي في المنظمات الدولية لوضع «نظام القواعد» التي يخترعها الغرب لمصلحته بديلاً للشرعية الدولية.

اليوم يكرّر الغرب أخطاء الماضي التي أدّت إلى الكارثة العالمية وما أشبه اليوم بالأمس، وقد شهدنا كيف كرّر الغرب خطأ الرهان على النازية مع ألمانيا الهتلرية بالرهان على الإرهاب، خصوصاً في ما شهدناه خلال الأزمة والحرب في سورية، معتقداً أنه سيبقى بمنأى عن الخطر، عندما يترك النيران تشتعل بثوب مَن يصنفهم خصوماً، وفي المرتين النتيجة ذاتها. فالنوم مع الشيطان في السرير ذاته لا يمكن أن يجلب الأمن ولا أن يحقق السلام .

اليوم وقد تزايدت مشاكل العالم وزاد تعقيدها، لا يمكن تجاهل مخاطر انزلاق إلى نهاية تاريخ البشرية نتيجة للنزاع العالمي بسبب تصرّفات غير مسؤولة للمغامرين والمهووسين بأوهام العظمة والتفوق والجشع وأشكال الفوبيا القديمة.

من المطلوب تكثيف الجهود لمواجهة هذا النهج الذي يهدّد مستقبل البشرية. وبهذا الصدد نشير إلى ضرورة توسيع دائرة الدول والقوى السياسية التي تسعى إلى نضج النظام العالمي المتعدّد والمتوازن الذي يؤمن الحقوق المتساوية لأعضاء المجتمع الدولي والالتزام بميثاق الأمم المتحدة. وإذ نتذكر تحالفاً معادياً لهتلر فتطرح روسيا مبادرات بناءة بخصوص جميع مواضيع الأجندة العالمية ابتداء من الاستقرار الاستراتيجي والتعاون في الفضاء والفضاء السيبراني وصولاً إلى تسوية النزاعات الإقليمية ومكافحة الإرهاب. من المعروف أنّ الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين وجه الدعوة لعقد لقاء لرؤساء الدول الخمس الدائمة العضوية في مجلس الأمن الدولي لمناقشة أهم القضايا الراهنة. ونأمل أن تمثل هذه الخطوة نقطة انطلاق لعملية تنقية الأجواء وانتقالاً إلى مرحلة الحوار والتعاون لأن ذلك حاجة ماسة للبشرية كلها التي تعاني من تراكم المشاكل.

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*سفير روسيا الاتحاديّة لدى الجمهورية اللبنانيّة.

New Film Explores U.S. Suppression of Key Footage from Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Source

By Greg Mitchell

Asia-Pacific Research, June 18, 2020

The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 5 June 2020

Last month, I completed work on my first film, writing and directing a documentary titled Atomic Cover-up. Below you can watch via a link four brief clips. The story for me began, however, thirty-eight years ago this month. That day also helped set me on the path to spending four weeks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki soon after, and subsequently writing three books on the subject (including one to be published in July), hundreds of articles, and a lifelong engagement with political and ethical issues surrounding nuclear warfare.

In June 1982, the grassroots antinuclear movement in the U.S. (and much of the world) was cresting. The June 12th march and rally in New York City would draw well over half a million protesters, with some observers calling it the largest such gathering in the country’s history. Many new films with nuclear themes suddenly appeared, including the popular Atomic Cafe.

The Atomic Cafe (1982) – Re-Release Trailer

As someone who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s, I had experienced the terror of the most dangerous years of the nuclear arms race, but I had never attended an “anti-bomb” protest. My knowledge of the debate surrounding the dropping of two atomic bombs over Japan in 1945 was only skin-deep.

But one day in June 1982, I took notice when the Japan Society in New York announced it would screen the first movie drawing on footage shot in vivid color in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by an elite American military team, then suppressed for decades by the U.S. government. One of the U.S. Army officers who was part of that team would discuss the film and its suppression for the first time. I was a member of the Japan Society–they had even arranged my recent interview with film director Akira Kurosawa–and always loved a good “cover-up.” So I attended the event a few days later.

The film, produced in Japan, was called Prophecy. Someone connected with it introduced former Army lieutenant Herbert Sussan, who went on to a long career as a producer/director in the emerging television industry. He described being recruited near the end of 1945 from the Army’s famous wartime film studio in Hollywood (where he had met Ronald Reagan, among others) to join a major U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey project to shoot the first and only color footage documenting the destruction of Japanese cities from the air during the war. It seemed to offer a free, triumphant, trip for the young man until the crew arrived by train at their first stop: Nagasaki. He would be haunted by what he saw there, and then in Hiroshima, for the rest of his life.

The Prophecy (Part 1 of 6)

I suppose, no doubt to a lesser degree, I could say that I would be haunted by his words, and the film we would see, for the rest of my life.

Sussan described filming, in blazing color–still rarely used by documentarians at the time–the badly injured, burned or radiation-plagued patients in hospitals. The cameraman was often Akira “Harry” Mimura, from the major Toho studio who had shot Kurosawa’s first film, Sanshiro Sugata, and also worked in Hollywood.

Hiroshima after the bombing, 1945

Americans back home, to this point, he pointed out, had only been allowed to see grainy, black and white images of rubble in the atomic cities, never the victims, who were mainly women, elderly men and children. The U.S. had also seized, or banned publication in Japan of photographs of bombing victims taken by Japanese, a ban that remained throughout the Occupation years to 1952.

When he returned to New York after filming in numerous other bomb-ravaged Japanese cities, Sussan was determined to show the world what he had experienced, hoping that this might halt the building of new and bigger weapons and prevent a dangerous nuclear arms race with the Russians.

Instead, he found that all of the footage had been classified top secret and buried by the U.S. military. Some of it would eventually be used in training films, but none of it was shown to the public. The color images were just too revealing not only of unfathomable destruction of buildings, but above all the long-lasting damage to human bodies.

Seized at the same time by the U.S. and hidden for the next quarter of a century was all of the searing black and white footage shot earlier by the leading Japanese newsreel company, Nippon Eiga Sha.

Sussan tried for twenty years to find and make use of his footage–Americans still had not been exposed to color images of any kind from Hiroshima and Nagasaki–but he got nowhere, even after personally approaching everyone from famed newsman Edward R. Murrow to former President Harry S. Truman.

Image on the right: Frame from color footage that Sussan saw at photo exhibit.

Finally, he would, almost by accident, play a central role in the footage becoming known to the world. Around 1979 he attended an exhibit of photos from the atomic cities at the United Nations near his apartment. To his dismay, he spotted several color enlargements of frames from the footage his team had shot in 1946.. He said to a Japanese man, Iwakura Tsotumu, who had helped arrange the exhibit, something to the effect, “I shot the footage this photo is taken from.”

Imagine Iwakura’s surprise. Iwakura did some digging at the National Archives in Washington and discovered that the color footage had been declassified, very quietly, a few years earlier. If no one knew about this, it was just the same as still being classified.

Iwakura went back to Japan and launched what became known as the “10 Feet Movement,” a grassroots project that encouraged people (including school kids) to raise and contribute funds to buy back copies of all of the color footage in increments of ten feet. When they reached their goal in 1980, he made the footage available to Japanese filmmakers, who soon completed two documentaries, with more in the works.

The creators of the film that I saw, Prophecy, directed by Hani Susumi, were able to track down some of the survivors shown in the 1946 footage and then contrast the badly-scarred images of them in 1946 with images from interviews with them from the early 1980s. Soon Americans started making use of the color footage–although only in brief passages–in their own films.

Sussan was gravely ill (one of his doctors would tell him it was at least possible that his lymphoma stemmed from radiation exposure in 1946). But my interest had been sparked by listening to him and watching Prophecy. Later in 1982, when I became the editor of the leading American magazine for the anti-nuclear movement, Nuclear Times, the first feature I assigned was on Herbert Sussan. I joined in the interview and became a friend.

I also tracked down in California the man who led the U.S. filming project, Lt. Col. Daniel A. McGovern. On why the footage was suppressed, McGovern informed me that officials and the military “were fearful because of the horror it contained. …because it showed effects on men, women and children…They didn’t want that material out because they were working on new nuclear weapons.” He also sent to me dozens of pages of formerly secret documents from his files, including the original military orders to shoot the footage, his attempts to use the Japanese and/or American footage in films for the public, and the official orders denying that, plus logs of all the classified footage.

I would also talk with Erik Barnouw, the legendary writer on documentary films who in 1970 had created the first film to make use of the long-suppressed black and white Nippon Eiga Sha footage, Hiroshima-Nagasaki 1945. It aired over public television in the U.S. at its full sixteen-minute length, and drew wide attention, although at least one local station refused to air it.

Hiroshima-Nagasaki 1945: The Original Footage

Aiming to gain firsthand experience, I secured a journalism grant via Akiba Tadatoshi (much later the mayor of Hiroshima) to spend a month in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, meeting among others some of those filmed by Sussan and McGovern. Then I wrote articles on various aspects of that trip for The New York Times and Washington Post, among others, and dozens of articles about the atomic bombings for numerous other outlets. I would even interview Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, which deposited the bomb over Hiroshima, and meet his counterpart on the Nagasaki mission, Charles Sweeney.

A decade later, I penned a small section on the color footage in my book with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America. A few years later, I wrote a book about the saga of the footage, Atomic Cover-upwhich was excerpted here at The Asia-Pacific Journal.

It even plays a role in my new book to be published next month, The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood–and America–Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, on the MGM docudrama of that name, also shot in 1946. The MGM movie was directly inspired by warnings from the atomic scientists against building bigger bombs and an arms race with the Russians, but was soon transformed into falsified, pro-bomb propaganda under pressure from the White House and the military. Any mention of Nagasaki, for example, was left on the cutting room floor.

Finally, last year, I set out to fulfill the vision I had, decades ago, of paying tribute to those who shot both the Japanese newsreel and U.S. military footage in 1945-1946. I arranged for the first super-high definition transfers of the Japanese footage and several reels of the color footage from the National Archives. I also obtained relevant portions of books by or about several of the cameramen and producers of the Japanese footage, and the memoir of Harry Mimura, and had key sections translated from the Japanese. (Abe Markus Nornes, the leading American authority on the Japanese footage, served as an advisor.)

Starting in March, working remotely with an editor in New York, I directed a subtle, perhaps artful, 47-minute documentary, with an original musical score, also titled Atomic Cover-up. It’s told completely through the once-buried Nippon Eiga Sha and American footage, and via the first-person accounts of those who shot or produced it in voice-overs.

I am happy to provide four brief excerpts:

The first features Lt. McGovern describing his arrival in Nagasaki and Hiroshima for the first time, accompanied by the striking color images.

The second reveals the seizure of the Nippon Eiga Sha footage by the U.S. occupation authorities and how the filmmakers responded–by hiding a print in the ceiling.

The third finds Lt. Sussan paying tribute to the doctors and nurses at the partly destroyed Red Cross Hospital in Hiroshima, which has particular resonance today as health workers there and throughout the world cope with the still-horrendous Covid-19 crisis.

And the final one documents the beginning of Sussan’s attempts to locate the footage by approaching everyone from Truman to Robert F. Kennedy.

*

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Greg Mitchell is the author of a dozen books, including most recently The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall (Crown) and The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood–and America–Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

All images in this article are from APJJFThe original source of this article is The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan FocusCopyright © Greg MitchellThe Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, 2020

The Rise and Fall of Empires

Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

June 08, 2020

The Rise and Fall of Empires

I think that it would be true to say that sudden spurts of economic growth are often caused by preparation for war, war itself, and post-war reconstruction. This process in particular was occasioned by the end of WW1 which was succeeded by a restless and runaway period of economic growth based on the US Stock Market boom in 1929. Given the laws of capitalism and its immanent rhythm of boom-bust this break-down was entirely predictable.

The ensuing downturn migrated over the pond to a still weak Europe which had not really recovered from the carnage of 1914-18. The resulting depression in Europe was particularly acute in Germany since it was still attempting to pay its wartime reparations to the allies which had been foisted upon it as a result of the Versailles Treaty. This resulted in the great German inflation during the early to late 1920s.

As if this wasn’t enough, another blow to global economic and financial stability was to be delivered: this in the form of the Anstalt-Credit Bank failure of 1931. Credit-Anstalt was an exceptionally large bank based in Vienna. Given the interconnectedness of banking and finance, and the fragility of the European banking system at the time, one bank failure can give rise to multiple failures. In October 1929, the Austrian  Schober government compelled the allegedly well-financed Credit-Anstalt to assume liabilities, which together with the simultaneous Wall Street Crash led to the financial imbalance of the then-largest Austrian credit provider. Credit-Anstalt had to declare bankruptcy on 11 May 1931.

The collapse of the Credit-Anstalt in Vienna started the spread of the crisis in Europe and forced most countries off the Gold Standard within a few months. A feeling of financial distrust and insecurity spread from Vienna and led to runs on other banks in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland, and Germany. The collapse set off a chain reaction that led from the run on German banks to withdrawals in London and the devaluation of the pound to large-scale withdrawals from New York and another series of bank failures in the United States. So in brief the news of the crisis of the Credit-Anstalt, the most important bank in Central Europe, shook the whole economic structure of Europe and sent shock waves through the rest of the world.

POLITICAL AND STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS

All of which added even greater political and economic instability in both Europe and North America during the Interregnum. Crises of this type unsurprisingly gave rise to bitter class struggles between capital and labour, and various other social and political disequilibria. Revolution in Russia, the rise of the Nazis in Germany and earlier in Italy the new political movement of the black-shirted Fascisti led by one Benito Mussolini – this new political template being the counter-revolution from below. Coincidental with this there was, moreover, the fall of no less than four royal dynasties, the Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns, Romanovs, and Ottomans. The old order had gone, in Europe at least, but their empires still remained: Britain, France, and new kid to the imperialist club – the United States since it had got into the imperialist game in the late 19th century, and there it still remains.

The resulting collisions of interest between the rival nations and blocs with unfinished geopolitical business left over from WW1 seemed to take on an inexorable process – a process headed toward open military conflict between the Great Powers. And so it turned out. Germany was a powerful well-armed state with imperial ambitions but eventually was to be confronted by the combination of the USA, the USSR, and the British Empire, which meant it was bound to lose.

World War 2 was, with the exception of Latin America, a global war and had global ramifications. The major reconstruction of physical, economic, political, and geopolitical organizations and institutions had a number of distinct phases in both war-ravaged Europe and the Far East. The US was fortunate in this regard since apart from Pearl Harbour no major damage occurred on its own territory with the exception of Hawaii.

BRETTON WOODS 1944

The year 1942 was the turning point when the allied victory was more or less guaranteed. It was decided therefore to convene a meeting of the allied powers – excluding the USSR for geopolitical reasons – which was in the main conducted and overseen by the US and UK, with the US being the senior partner, of course. In 1944 the conference was to be held at the Washington Hotel in the small town of Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, USA; grandiosely titled, the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference. At the time Hitler would last another 10 months, and war continued to rage in the Far East and Japan would not surrender for another 13 months. The UN Charter was still a year away. The specific goals of the attendees was to create institutions that would promote a vision beyond the end of the war united in hopes for a world united through prosperity.

US FOREIGN POLICY & TWILIGHT OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE

All very noble and idealistic. However also in play were the usual motivations of nation states and their internal interest groups – groups who harboured their own concerns which were somewhat less idealistic. It was argued by some realist foreign relations theorists that the plan for these Bretton Woods institutions go back further to the 1930s and to the US Council of Foreign Relations. (1)

‘’Members of this group assessed early on that, at a minimum, the US national interest required free access to the raw materials of the Western hemisphere, the Far East, and the British Empire. On July 24, 1941, a council memorandum outlined the concept of a grand area: that part of the world which the United States dominated economically and militarily to ensure materials to its industries.’’ (2)

Of course it was tacitly understood by the Americans that the British Empire stood in the way of US imperial aggrandisement and ultimately it had to go. The British delegation were in fact being played by the Americans throughout these tortuous negotiations. But the British were semi-aware of what the Americans were up to. According to the principal British negotiator J.M.Keynes who wrote in a private letter to a colleague:

‘’The greatest cause of friction between the US and Great Britain over a very long period was the problem of what we used to call the old commitments, arising out of the fact that lend-lease* did not come into anything like full operation for some nine months after it had legally come into force … You do not emphasise the point that the US Administration was very careful not to take every precaution to see that the British were as near as possible bankrupt before any assistance was given … or appropriately abated whenever there seems the slightest prospect that leaving things as they are might possibly lead to a result in leaving the British at the end of the war otherwise than hopelessly insolvent.’’(3)

Thus the whole issue of lend-lease boiled down to this: The UK was broke, a supplicant, and did not have the wherewithal to pay back the loans made to the US. On the other hand the hard-nosed US ruling circles were not a registered charity and insisted on business reciprocity involving loan repayment. Moreover, the fact that this meant the virtual winding up of the British empire and the Sterling Area was judged in certain American quarters as being a good deal for the US. It should be noted that the parsimony of the US vis-à-vis the British loan contrasted sharply with the extension of Marshall Aid and the wiping out of post-war German debts.

‘’The first loan on the post-war agenda was the British Loan which, as President Truman announced in forwarding it to Congress, would set the course of American and British economic relations for many years to come. He was right, for the Anglo-American Loan Agreement spelled the end of Britain as a Great Power.’’ (4)

POST-WAR AUSTERITY – POLITICS IN EUROPE

The post-war period was one of bitter austerity from the late 40s with rationing and austerity taking place among the ruins of war, and this continued until the early 1950s, to be exact 1954 in the UK, 1950 in Germany.

In the UK The Labour party was elected to power in 1945, which it is said, won the 1945 election by servicemen returning from the war and voting Labour in droves. The new government was given a political mandate to nationalise the core industries: Rail, Public Utilities (gas, electricity, water), Transport, Coal, Iron and Steel, and, most importantly, the setting up of the National Health Service, the jewel in the crown of a new social and political order as overseen by a determined social-democratic party

Over in Europe change was also on the agenda. There were open mass communist parties, the PCF in France, and PCI in Italy often supplemented with armed partisans in France, Italy, Yugoslavia, and the Balkans including Greece. Tito’s partisans gained power in 1946. But the civil war in Greece 1944-49 had a different outcome.(5) Also coming to power in the Balkans at this time were Albanian partisans led by the charismatic albeit demented figure of Enver Hoxha.

Things got better in the next phase of post-war recovery during the 1950s which marked the continuation of post-war reconstruction policies. This involved an end of rationing and a spurt of growth which had been pretty much flat for centuries until WW1 when the epoch of industrialisation of society evolved pari passu with mechanized industrial production; this was a feature of both civilian and military research which often involved a cross-fertilisation of both. Growth took off almost vertically in the 1950s and 60s. This was certainly true in the mid-20th century. But this was a political as well as a strategic/economic phenomenon. This was a period of acute internal political conflict and struggle.

POST-WAR BOOM AND COLD WAR

However from the middle 1950s the momentum of social and political developments moved to a more sustained and semi-tranquil path. The Trente Glorieuses as the French called it – a golden age of social and political peace: there were high levels of growth, low levels of unemployment, high wage levels, high levels of investment, not quite a social-democratic utopia, but at least the years of poverty, war and austerity had been left behind, it seemed for good. I think this unparalleled post-war economic boom had a great deal to do with post-war reconstruction. A point I made in the opening paragraph.

However, it should also be borne in mind that in international and strategic terms this was the Cold War era. A period of nuclear standoff, NATO, the Warsaw Pact, and the unstable division of Europe and colonial wars in Korea (UN under US control) Indo-China (French and American) Malaya, Kenya, Palestine (British). A situation which is still ongoing with the U.S. attempting (unsuccessfully) to carve out an empire.

BRETTON WOODS 2

These tendencies were highly visible and generally in the public realm. But perhaps the less contentious issues and decisions had been and were taking place in more recondite settings. Back in 1944, at the opening session of Bretton Woods, Henry Morgenthau, then Secretary of the US Treasury was to set forth one of the underlying assumptions that guided the work of the architects of the Bretton Woods system. Some were valid others less so. In particular the assumption that 1. Everyone would be the beneficiary of increased world trade, and 2. That economic growth would not be constrained by the limits of the planet.

The trouble with this mode of thinking is that the policy consensus and values among the powers that be (PTB) are also shared by everyone else. This is a very obvious and common shortcoming ‘groupthink’ among the ‘power elite’ of policy makers, and opinion formers, as was pointed out by the astute American intellectual, C Wright Mills way back in the 1950s.

All of this notwithstanding, by the end of the historic meeting, the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and IMF (International Monetary Fund) and GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) which was superseded by the WTO (World Trade Organization). If I may paraphrase the poet Robert Browning: Roosevelt was in the White House, God was in his Heaven and all was right with the world!

CONSOLIDATION AND NEW WORLD ORDER

Since that time these global organizations have been dutifully occupied over the years adhering faithfully to their mandate to promote economic growth through globalization – globalization being a catch-all term involving market liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation. Through Structural Adjustment Programmes/Policies (SAPs) the World Bank and the IMF have pressured countries of the Global South to open their borders and convert their economies from self-sufficiency to export production. Trade agreements negotiated through GATT/WTO have reinforced these policies and prized open economies in both the Global South and North opening the path to the increasingly free importation of goods and capital flows (usually ‘hot money’). These archaic trade theories are justified by reference to David Ricardo and his archaic concept of ‘comparative advantage’ which is still taught in economics departments of universities.

The American New World Order established in 1945 had a strategic-military component as well as an economic one. US occupation in 1945 became permanent through the imposition of NATO which has expanded incrementally all the way to the Russian border. This occupation has lasted for 7 decades and is barely noticed as such. Europe has essentially become a collection of vassal states unthinkingly loyal to its American masters. The situation has become so entrenched that – apart from a brief Gaullist opposition – Europeans are completely unaware of this silent annexation. An annexation which in large part was carried out by the CIA and its euro Quislings. These included Operations, Gladio, Mockingbird and Paperclip.

This Atlantic Military-Strategic bloc – NATO – is an aggressive intercontinental vehicle serving as the instrument for US strategy for global dominance. Hard power.

‘’The occupied and colonized can come to accept and adopt the system and ways of their occupiers and colonizers … In Western (and now a fortiori Eastern) Europe many have come to accept without challenge the primary role of the US over the affairs of their states and give little thought to NATO except as a foundation of their security architecture. They have been raised and socialised, with this as part of their world. In many instances it is not only a normal part of the status-quo for them, it is also invisible to them. This is why the post-Cold-War continuation of the Atlantic Alliance went mostly unchallenged at the societal level in NATO member states, leaving the US to slowly consolidate its influence in each and every state.’’(6)

Financial dominance has also been another weapon operationalised and used by the US in their quest for global hegemony. This is particularly relevant with the role of the US$. As the global reserve currency the dollar gives a number of trade advantages over its trade ‘partners’. These are easy enough to enumerate but taking one example:

‘’It costs only a few cents for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to produce a $100 bill, but other countries have to pony up $100 of goods and services in order to obtain one. (The difference between what it costs the government to print a note and a foreigner to procure it is known as seignorage after the right of the medieval Lord or seigneur to coin money and keep for himself some of the precious metal from which it was made.) About $500 billion of US currency circulates outside of the United States for which foreigners have had to provide the United States with $500 billion goods and services.’’(7)

But it is not a privilege which should be abused. Human Nature being what it is, however, it was abused. When the US left the Gold Standard in 1971 it could print dollars with abandon to pay its import bills. This meant it could accrue many advantages including the one mentioned by Eichengreen above. However, all was not as clear-cut as it seemed.

THE TRIFFIN DILEMMA AND THE DOLLAR RACKET

There was always a fundamental incompatibility between the attainment of global economic stability and possession of a single national currency to perform the role of the world’s reserve currency. As a global reserve currency the dollar has to be the anchor of the world’s trading system. However, as a domestic currency the dollar needs to have sufficient flexibility for internal policy. Thus at the heart of the dollar’s value and use there is this contradiction for the dual roles of this currency.

During the Bretton Woods ‘golden age’ which lasted from 1944 until 1971, the US$ was fixed against gold at $35 per oz. However the cost of US wars of choice in Korea and Indo-China, as well as ambitious social programmes like LBJ’s ‘Great Society’, saw a global build-up of surplus dollars accumulating in central banks around the world. These surplus dollar countries then began trading in their surplus dollars at the gold window at the Fed. This was a situation which the US could not tolerate as gold was flying out of the US to various overseas central bank venues.

Thus it was that on August 15, 1971, President Nixon suspended dollar/gold convertibility for a temporary period, which in fact morphed into a permanent arrangement – an arrangement which persists to this day. The gold standard was replaced with the US$ fiat standard. The dollar was to be regarded as being as good as gold, which was rather more like an act of faith than rational economic policy.

The maverick Belgian economist Robert Triffin first drew attention to this anomaly during the 1960s in his seminal work Gold and the Dollar Crisis: The Future of Convertibility. He observed that having the US dollar perform the role of the world’s reserve currency created fundamental conflicts of interest between domestic and international economic objectives.

On the one hand, the international economy needed dollars for liquidity purposes and to satisfy demand for reserve assets. But this forced, or at least made it easy, for the US to run consistently large current account deficits.

He argued that such a policy of running persistent deficits would eventually put pressure on the dollars convertibility and ultimately lead to the demise of the Bretton Woods system of international exchange which is exactly what happened in 1971.

This arrangement led to what in effect were tangible advantages for the US, at least to the current situation.

Nice work if you can get it. International trade as denominated in US$’s meant that the US$ qua world reserve currency could use its dollars to buy foreign assets and pay for them in dollars. These dollars were then held by foreigners who could no longer convert surplus dollars into gold but could only purchase US Treasuries and other US dollar-denominated assets which were never going to be repaid. Surplus dollar countries would sell their hard-earned dollars to purchase US Treasuries which pushed up the value of the dollar and kept US interest rates low; and the US in turn would buy goods and services from these same surplus countries. It worked rather like this: a foreign computer company – say ‘Japcom’ – sells you a computer by lending you the money to buy it! The ultimate free lunch.

But of course there’s always a catch! The effect of a strong dollar which raised domestic US industries costs, led to the hollowing out of the US domestic economy which ultimately could not compete with more efficient overseas competition. The last thing that the US rust belt needed was/is a strong dollar which had the effect of making its export industries less competitive. This left the US in an economic quandary. Namely, that the United States must on the one hand simultaneously run a strong/dollar, policy and on the other a weak/dollar policy, or put another way must allow for an outflow of dollars to satisfy the global demand for the currency, but must also engineer an inflow of dollars to make its domestic industries more competitive. As explained thus: when the Fed cuts interest rates, investors sell dollar-denominated assets and buy foreign assets, which tends to weaken the dollar’s exchange rate.

Having it both ways! Which of course is hardly possible.

Moreover, it is a moot point as to whether the rest of the world will continue to support this ‘exorbitant privilege’ in perpetuity. So far, the Vichy-Quisling-Petainst regimes in Europe and East Asia have to touch their forelocks and prostrate themselves before their Lord and Masters, but it would be wrong to imagine that this can continue as a permanent arrangement. Ironically, however, the US hegemon treats its friends and allies considerably worse than its putative enemies. Such is the nature of geopolitics.

WHAT NEXT?

The rise and fall of empires has always been a leitmotif for historians from Thucydidies and Herodotus, to Gibbon, Glubb and Hobsbawm in the modern period. It seems fairly obvious that the United States is in irreversible decline, and I think that the same is probably true of Europe given that Europe has been effectively Americanised. The American intellectual Morris Berman has perceptively got his finger on the pulse of the decay of modern-day America.

‘’As the 21st century dawns, American culture is, quite simply, in a mess … The dissolution of American corporate hegemony, when it does occur – and our own ‘Soviet Watershed’ is at least 40 or 50 years down the road as of this writing – will happen because of the ultimate inability of the system to maintain itself indefinitely. This type of breakdown which is a recurrent historical phenomenon is a long-range one and internal to the system.’’ (8)

The long decline as described by Berman is in general a cultural critique. A dumbing down so massive, relentless and comprehensive that is seems irresistible and sadly unstoppable. As Berman further writes:

‘’For a zoned-out, stupefied populace, ‘democracy’ will be nothing more than the right to shop, or to choose between Wendy’s or Burger King, or to stare at CNN and think that this managed infotainment is actually the news. As I have said, corporate hegemony, the triumph of global democracy/consumerism based upon the American model is the collapse of American civilization. So a large-scale transformation is going on, but it is one that makes triumph indistinguishable from disintegration.’’(9)

Add to this the hollowing out of the US productive economy (10) and the rise of a bloated financial sector which is kept going by infusions of money freshly printed by the Fed and which is more and more taking on the visage of an gigantic Ponzi scheme where existing debt levels are serviced by more debt, apparently without end. This is not going to be easy to reverse. The ongoing deindustrialisation of the US and its satellites seems to be irreversible.

The US political elites and the MSM seem little more than a monkey house of corrupt buffoons with not a political idea in their heads or what they are about and where they are going: but everything is fine as long as they get paid-off. It seems all very reminiscent of the last days of the French monarchy with America’s own Marie Antoinette, the air-head Nancy Pelosi, passing the time on TV by recommending the variety of ice-cream she keeps in her fridge during the current shut-down. The people have got no bread Nancy! Well let them eat ice-cream! Brilliant PR from Nancy Antionette.

Then of course there are the complete and certifiable lunatics (the neo-cons) who, along with Israel and its 5th column within the US, are intent on dragging the US into unwinnable wars which are slowly degrading the morale the civilian population and fighting capacity of the ‘invincible’ US military machine.

An historical analogy from history seems germane at this point.

It has been recorded that the most important battle that the Roman Army fought was The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Three crack Roman legions crossed the Rhine to engage the Germanic tribes; a cake walk, or so they thought. Unfortunately, they were overconfident and badly led. Strung out on the march and unable to get into their customary Roman battle formations – the dreaded testudo (tortoise) – and were attacked on all sides by hordes of Germanic tribesmen and unceremoniously put to the sword: three crack legions, 20,000 men, one tenth of the Roman Army. This was in 9 CE. The Roman Empire lasted approx. another 400 years, but its reputation had suffered a blow from which it never recovered. The beginning of the end came when the Visigoths crossed the Danube 376 AD into the Roman Empire properly. When Rome was sacked it was the definitive end of empire. The US seems set on the same course, or one similar perhaps, although it is difficult if not impossible to put a date on its final demise.

Who can tell the future? We shall wait and we shall see.

NOTES

(1) The Council of Foreign Relations founded in 1921, is a United States non-profit think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. It is headquartered in New York City, with an additional office in Washington, D.C. This somewhat bland description does not explain the reality. In fact the CFR is made up of a number of notables drawn from the American political and financial nomenklatura, an incubator of leaders and ideas unified in their vision of a global economy dominated by US corporate interests.

(2) The Failures of Bretton Woods – David C Korten – The Case Against the Global Economy – 1996 – p.21

* Under the Lend-Lease program, from 1941 to 1945 the United States provided approximately $50 billion in military equipment, raw materials, and other goods to thirty-eight countries. About $30 billion of the total went to Britain, with most of the remainder delivered to the Soviet Union, China, and France

(3) Robert Skidelsky – John Maynard Keynes – Fighting for Britain – 1937-46- collected works and letters – xxiv 28/29 letter to E.R.Stettinuis, 18 April 1944

(4) Michael Hudson – Super Imperialism – pp.268/269

(5) The British Labour government of 1945-40 actually took sides in the Greek Civil War fought between the Greek government army (supported by the United Kingdom and the United States)and the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE) — the military branch of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) supported by YugoslaviaAlbania and Bulgaria. This lasted from 1946 to 1949. The Soviet Union avoided sending aid. The fighting resulted in the defeat of the DSE by the Hellenic Army. The Labour party, social-democratic as it may have portrayed itself, was nonetheless pro-imperialist to the core and a founder member of 1940.

(6) Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – The Globalization of NATO p.334.

(7) Barry Eichengreen – Exorbitant Privilege – pp.3/4

(8) Morris Berman – The Twilight of American Culture – p.21. Published in 2000.

(9) Berman – ibid. – p.132

(10) The Auto-vehicle industry which was pioneered by Henry Ford was dominant up until recently when it produced 50% of motor vehicles. But this is no longer the case. Currently global auto-vehicle producers can be ranked as follows:

1. Toyota (Japan) Annual Output: 10,455,051 2. Volkswagen (Germany) Annual Output: 10,382,384 3. Hyundai/Kia (South Korea) Annual Output: 7,218,391. 4. General Motors (United States) Annual Output: 6,856,880. 5. Ford (United States) Annual Output: 6,386,818. 6. Nissan (Japan) Annual Output: 5,769,277. 7. Honda (Japan) Annual Output: 5,235,842. 8. FCA (Italy, USA) Annual Output: 4,681,457. 9. Renault (France) Annual Output: 3,373,278. Group PSA (France) Annual Output: 3,152,787

Closedown vs. No Closedown

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Global Research, April 21, 2020

Every country with the exception of Sweden found it necessary to close down at least part of the economy in order to prevent the highly infectious virus from overwhelming their medical care systems.  The exponential rate of infection together with a lack of sufficient health resources obviously meant an overwhelmed system that would be unable to provide care for those suffering from other illnesses and deadly conditions, such as heart attacks.

The need to reduce the caseload was also influenced by the uncertainty of treatment.  It has been only through experimentation that health care professionals have found some successful treatments and learned that ventilators were causing deaths.  Knowledge about the virus and its attack on vital organs is still emerging. The long incubation period and the fact that people can spread the virus without themselves having symptoms makes the virus far more challenging than flu, with which it is often mistakenly compared.  The fact that people of all ages and health conditions have died from the virus, or from inappropriate treatment and prior conditions, and the impossibility of knowing in advance the severity of any person’s case produces a situation that can easily explode out of control.

The policy of isolation and social distancing has worked.  It has reduced the infection rate to a manageable one in most places.  One consequence of this success is to increase the sense of safety and the belief that the virus is a hoax being used to take away civil liberties.  There is no doubt that the deep state and other agendas will make use of the virus for their purposes.  But the virus is definitely real and not a hoax.

The success of social isolation has produced a belief that the virus was over-hyped, causing some people to call the policy into question.  Crowds in violation of the social distancing policy are protesting against the policy, with some marching around with weapons.  

No doubt that the policy has costs that offset in part its benefits. But the question remains whether protest is an intelligent response or selfishness and a paranoia of its own. 

In Chinese and Japanese cities where the spread of the virus was successfully controlled and the cities reopened, the result has been a second wave of infections (see this). 

In contrast in North Florida, the closing of beaches and vacation rentals has resulted in the area being essentially free of virus cases.  Based on the Chinese and Japanese experience, we should expect a reopening provoked by impatience to reignite the infection rate.

Possibly health care providers have learned better how to treat the disease and perhaps the supply of protective gear for health care providers has improved and masks have become available for a reopened work place.  If not, impatience will stampede us again into crisis.

If we had been prepared with protective gear, with an adequate supply of tests that work, with an understanding of the virus and its treatment, closedowns, other than perhaps in congested cities heavily dependent on public transportation such as New York city, could have been avoided.

The protesters are wrong in thinking that a low death rate of the virus makes it a non-threat.  It is certainly possible that many more people have the virus than is known (see this) and that many of the deaths attributed to the virus are results of other causes.  The virus is nevertheless dangerous because it is highly contagious, because the severity of cases widely differs without the ability to know in advance the severity of any case, because treatments are uncertain, because people without symptoms spread the virus, and because some recovered people have insufficient antibodies to prevent reinfection.

Business and political interests want the economy reopened, but if we are careless about the process the outcome can be a worse economic and health crisis.

Belief that the best policy is to let the virus spread in order to develop “herd immunity” is undercut by reinfection.  There is no herd immunity to common colds or flu. I know people whose winter colds are followed by summer colds and people who get flu every year, flu shot or not.  

There are many lessons that we should learn from the virus challenge. One is that a profit-driven health care system results in inadequate structure to deal with a pandemic.  We need to break the hold of Big Pharma on our health care and medical education and substitute public health motivated medical professionals in place of profit.  Another is that we must prevent selfish agendas from using disease to the disadvantage of the health and rights of the public. Politically weaponizing the virus, as has been done, is irresponsible in the extreme.

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Dr. Paul Craig Roberts writes on his blog, PCR Institute for Political Economy, where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Global Research, 2020

India’s “Playing Hard to Get” with America by Letting the AIIB Fund China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

Total system failure will give rise to new economy

Total system failure will give rise to new economy

April 11, 2020

by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Covid-19 driven collapse of global supply chains, demand and mobility will painfully spawn next great tech-led economic models

Is the world on a collision course with the financial and economic equivalent of a meteor impact with shock wave? Fractal illustration: AFP

Nobody, anywhere, could have predicted what we are now witnessing: in a matter of only a few weeks the accumulated collapse of global supply chains, aggregate demand, consumption, investment, exports, mobility.

Nobody is betting on an L-shaped recovery anymore – not to mention a V-shaped one. Any projection of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 gets into falling-off-a-cliff territory.

In industrialized economies, where roughly 70% of the workforce is in services, countless businesses in myriad industries will fail in a rolling financial collapse that will eclipse the Great Depression.

That spans the whole spectrum of possibly 47 million US workers soon to be laid off – with the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 32% – all the way to Oxfam’s warning that by the time the pandemic is over half of the world’s population of 7.8 billion people could be living in poverty.According to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) most optimistic 2020 scenario – certainly to become outdated before the end of Spring – global trade would shrink by 13%.  A more realistic and gloomier WTO scenario sees global trade plunging by 32%.

What we are witnessing is not only a massive globalization short circuit: it’s a cerebral shock extended to three billion hyperconnected, simultaneously confined people. Their bodies may be blocked, but they are electromagnetic beings and their brains keep working – with possible, unforeseen political and other consequences.

Soon we will be facing three major, interlocking debates: the management (in many cases appalling) of the crisis; the search for future models; and the reconfiguration of the world-system.

This is just a first approach in what should be seen as a do-or-die cognitive competition.

Particle accelerator

Sound analyses of what could be the next economic model are already popping up. As background, a really serious debunking of all (dying) neoliberalism development myths can be seen here.

Yes, a new economic model should be revolving around these axes: AI computing; automated manufacturing; solar and wind energy; high-speed 5G-driven data transfer; and nanotechnology.

China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are very well positioned for what’s ahead, as well as selected European latitudes.

Plamen Tonchev, head of the Asia unit at the Institute of International Economic Relations in Athens, Greece, points to the possible reorganization – short term – of Belt and Road Initiative projects, privileging investment in energy, export of solar panels, 5G networks and the Health Silk Road.

Covid-19 is like a particle accelerator, consolidating tendencies that were already developing. China had already demonstrated for the whole planet to see that economic development under a control system has nothing to do with Western liberal democracy.

On the pandemic, China demonstrated – also for the whole planet to see – that containment of Covid-19 can be accomplished by imposing controls the West derided as “draconian” and “authoritarian,” coupled with a strategic scientific approach characerized by a profusion of test kits, protection equipment, ventilators and experimental treatments.

This is already translating into incalculable soft power which will be exercised along the Health Silk Road. Trends seem to point to China as strategically reinforced all along the spectrum, especially in the Global South. China is playing go, weiqi. Stones will be taken from the geopolitical board.

System failure welcomed? 

In contrast, Western banking and finance scenarios could not be gloomier. As a Britain-centric analysis argues, “It is not just Europe. Banks may not be strong enough to fulfill their new role as saviors in any part of the world, including the US, China and Japan. None of the major lending systems were ever stress-tested for an economic deep freeze lasting months.”

So “the global financial system will crack under the strain,” with a by now quite possible “pandemic shutdown lasting more than three months” capable of causing  “economic and financial ‘system failure.’”

As system failures go, nothing remotely approaches the possibility of a quadrillion dollar derivative implosion, a real nuclear issue.

Capital One is number 11 on the list of the largest banks in the US by assets. They are already in deep trouble on their derivative exposures. New York sources say Capital One made a terrible trade, betting via derivatives that oil would not plunge to where it is now at 17-year lows.

Mega-pressure is on all those Wall Street outfits that gave oil companies the equivalent of puts on all their oil production at prices above $50 a barrel. These puts have now come due – and the strain on the Wall Street houses and US banks will become unbearable.

The anticipated Friday oil deal won’t alter anything: oil will stay around $20 per barrel, $25 max.

This is just the beginning and is bound to get much worse. Imagine most of US industry being shut down. Corporations – like Boeing, for instance – are going to go bankrupt. Bank loans to those corporations will be wiped out. As those loans are wiped out, the banks are going to get into major trouble.

Derivative to the max

Wall Street, totally linked to the derivative markets, will feel the pressure of the collapsing American economy. The Fed bailout of Wall Street will start coming apart. Talk about a nuclear chain reaction.

In a nutshell: The Fed has lost control of the money supply in the US. Banks can now create unlimited credit from their base and that sets up the US for potential hyperinflation if the money supply grows non-stop and production collapses, as it is collapsing right now because the economy is in shutdown mode.

If derivatives start to implode, the only solution for all major banks in the world will be immediate nationalization, much to the ire of the Goddess of the Market. Deutsche Bank, also in major trouble, has a 7 trillion euro derivatives exposure, twice the annual GDP of Germany.

No wonder New York business circles are absolutely terrified. They insist that if the US does not immediately go back to work, and if these possibly quadrillions of dollars of derivatives start to rapidly implode, the economic crises that will unfold will create a collapse of the magnitude of which has not been witnessed in history, with incalculable consequences.

Or perhaps this will be just the larger-than-life spark to start a new economy.

الأميركيّون يخسرون البحار ويتخوّفون من پيرل هاربر صيني

محمد صادق الحسيني

بعد أن اجتاح وباء كورونا حاملات الطائرات الأميركية، ومن بعدها المستشفى العسكري العائم العملاق، سفينة المستشفى كومفورت (Comfort)، الرئاسية قبالة شواطئ نيويورك، ها هو فيروس كورونا يجتاح القوات الأميركيّة، المرابطة في كوريا الجنوبية منذ عام 1957، والبالغ عديدها 30 ألف عسكري، يتبعون من ناحية قيادة العمليات لقيادة المحيط الهادئ، التي تسمّى بالانجليزية (PACOM) انتصاراً لكلمة US – PACIFIC COMMAND.

وعلى الرغم من أنّ مصادر عسكرية خاصة أكدت أنّ قيادة القوات الأميركية في كوريا، وكذلك البنتاغون، على علم بانتشار هذا الوباء بين القوات الأميركيّة في كوريا الجنوبية منذ 20/2/2020، إلا أنّ البنتاغون لم يتخذ الإجراءات الصحية الضرورية لمواجهة انتشار الوباء بين جنودها، المرابطين في القاعدة العسكرية الأميركية دايجو، ولا زالت تواصل فحصهم بواسطة شمّ خلّ التفاح، كما نشرت صحيفة «ستارت آند ستريبس» الكورية الجنوبية يوم 6/4/2020، التي نقلت تطوّرات انتشار الوباء عن قائد القاعدة الأميركية، الجنرال ادوارد بالانكو، الذي ظهر على وسائل الإعلام وهو يحمل علبة فيها قطعة إسفنجية، مبللة بخلّ التفاح، ليشرح للصحافيّين طريقة فحص جنوده، التي قال إنها تتبع أيضاً في مستشفيات كوريا الجنوبية.

علماً انّ وباء الكورونا يواصل انتشاره بين القوات الأميركيّة في اليابان ايضاً، مما أجبر القيادة العسكرية الأميركية، وعبر إعلان قائد هذه القوات في اليابان شخصياً للصحافة، اللفتنانت جنرال كيفين شنايدر، يوم أول أمس الاثنين 6/4/2020، عن حالة الطوارئ بين صفوف القوات الأميركية هناك، بسبب انتشار وباء الكورونا بين أفرادها، البالغ تعدادهم 38 الف جندي أميركي، الى جانب خمسة آلاف متعاقد مدني أميركي و25 ألف متعاقد مدني ياباني.

وعليه فقد أصبحت هذه القوات ومعها القوات الأميركية في كوريا الجنوبية وحاملة الطائرات ثيودور روزفلت ورونالد ريغان خارج الخدمة. أيّ أنّ 80 % من القدرات العسكرية الأميركية في غرب المحيط الهادئ وبحر اليابان وبحار الصين اصبحت خارج الخدمة. وهو أمر كانت محطة «سي أن أن» الأميركية قد اشارت إلى خطورته قبل أيّام قليلة.

من جهة أخرى فمنذ أيّام عدة، وتحديداً منذ 4/4/2020، أعلنت وزارة الدفاع الأميركية عن إصدارها أمراً لحاملة الطائرات الأميركية هاري ترومان بالتحرّك، مع المجموعة القتالية البحرية المرافقة لها، من منطقة عملياتها في بحر عمان، من دون أن يحدّد أمر العمليات هذا وجهة انطلاق الحاملة. الأمر الذي دعا المتابعين للاعتقاد بأنها ستحلّ محلّ حاملة الطائرات، ثيودور روزفلت، التي خرجت من الخدمة في منطقة عملياتها، غرب المحيط الهادئ/ قرب جزيرة غوام، وذلك بسبب انتشار وباء كورونا بين بحارتها وإخلاء اربعة آلاف منهم الى اليابسة، وبقاء ألف جندي فقط على متنها، لمتابعة تشغيل المفاعل النووي الذي يولِّد الطاقة اللازمة لعمليات الحاملة وحركتها.

ما توجّب طرح السؤالين الرئيسيين التاليين حول:

الجهة التي اتجهت اليها حاملة الطائرات هذه، التي تحمل على متنها ما مجموعه 90 مقاتلة ومروحية قتالية أميركية، ولماذا صدر هذا الأمر لها ولمجموعتها القتالية الكاملة بالانتقال الى منطقة عمليات أخرى؟
ولماذا لم يصدر أمر التحرك للحاملة فقط، مع الإبقاء على القوة المرافقة، /مجموعة قوامها عشر قطع بحرية بين مدمّرة وبارجة وفرقاطة وزورق حراسة وسفينة إنزال وسفن إمداد/ في منطقة عملياتها، بحر عمان، حتى إصدار الأمر، أيّ حتى يوم 4/4/2020؟
وللإجابة عن هذين السؤالين يجب على المرء أن يعود قليلاًً الى الوراء، ودمج الإجابة عن السؤالين في إجابة واحدة، ويتذكّر عنجهية الرئيس الأميركي، وتهديداته لجمهورية الصين الشعبية، واتهاماته لها بخرق القانون الدولي البحري، في بحار الصين المختلفة.

آنذاك، وتحديداً في النصف الثاني من شهر أيلول 2019، قرّر الرئيس الأميركي، بعنجهية لا حدود لها، إرسال فخر سلاح البحرية الأميركية، حاملة الطائرات رونالد ريغان، التي وصلت تكلفة صناعتها الى ثلاثة عشر مليار دولار، دون سفن مرافقة، أيّ دون مجموعتها القتالية، الى بحر الصين الجنوبيّ.

وقد وصلت هذه الحاملة العملاقة فعلاًً إلى بحر الصين الجنوبي، يوم 28/9/2019، وعند اقترابها من جزر سبراتلي (Spratly Islands) الصينية، الواقعة في أقصى جنوب بحر الصين، قبالة السواحل الفيتنامية غرباً والفلبينية شرقاً، أطبقت عليها خمس قطع بحرية أجنبية وقامت بتثبيتها في نقطة تمركزها، حسب الأصول القانونية المتعلقة بالقانون البحري، وأجبرتها لاحقاً على تغيير وجهتها واستخدام ممر بحري حدّدته لها القطع البحرية الصينية، التي أوقعت هذه الحاملة في كمين بحري محكم، لم تتمكن رونالد ريغان لا من اكتشافه ولا من تفادي الوقوع فيه، لمتابعة إبحارها شرقاً، بعيداً عن المياه الإقليمية الصينية، حسب المعلومات ووصول الأقمار الصناعية التي نشرتها صحيفة «سوهو» (Sohu) الصينية يوم 28/9/2019.

هذا هو الدرس الذي تعلّمه سلاح البحرية الأميركي، من الحضور الدائم والاستعداد الكامل للقوات البحرية الصينية، في مختلف بحار الصين وتلك المحيطة بها شرقاً وغرباً.

وهو الأمر الذي أرغم قيادة سلاح البحرية الأميركية على عدم الإفصاح عن وجهة حاملة الطائرات، هاري ترومان، واضطرها أيضاً الى تحريك المجموعة القتالية البحرية المرافقة لهذه الحاملة الى بحر اليابان، ومن ثم الى منطقة جزيرة غوام، وذلك خوفاً من الكمائن البحرية الصينية التي لا تراها الأقمار الصناعية الأميركية.

أما الأهمية الاستراتيجية لهذا التطور اللافت فتكمن في انّ الصين الشعبية قد ثبتَت سيادتها على كلّ تلك الجزر، التي يعتبرها الأميركيون متنازعاً عليها، وأنها (الصين) لن تسمح لأيّ سفن او طائرات عسكرية أجنبية بالاقتراب من هذه الجزر، سواء كانت طبيعية او صناعية، لانّ اختراق أجوائها او مياهها الإقليمية يعتبر خرقاً للسيادة الصينية. وعليه فانّ الصين، وفي حال إصرار الولايات المتحدة على تحرشاتها بالصين فانّ جمهورية الصين الشعبية ستجد نفسها مضطرة لوضع حدّ أبدي لتلك التحرشات وذلك من خلال إنهاء خط الدفاع الأميركي الممتدّ من تايوان، الصينية المنشقة، في بحر الصين الجنوبي، الى كوريا الجنوبية، في البحر الأصفر شمالاً، وصولاً الى اليابان وكلّ بحر اليابان وحتى غرب المحيط الهادئ، على سواحل اليابان الشمالية الشرقية.

وباختصار: إنهاء الوجود العسكري الأميركي في تلك المنطقة من العالم والى الأبد.

من هنا فقد ذهبت مصادر عسكرية أميركية الى الاعتقاد بانّ الصينيين ربما يفكّرون جدياً في تكرار هجوم على أحد الموانئ الأميركية الغربية لتكرار سيناريو پيرل هاربر، ولكن صيني هذه المرة كما تتحدّث عن خطر قيام الصين بهجوم مفاجئ على تايوان لاستعادتها للسيادة الوطنية الصينية، أيّ الاستيلاء على الجزيرة في ظلّ شلل أميركي تام بسبب كورونا، ‏وأن يمتدّ الهجوم ليشمل كلّ البحار المحيطة، ‏وصولاً الى غرب الولايات المتحدة من هونولولو الى كاليفورنا وفلوريدا، ‏وهو ما تشبّهه تلك المصادر بهجوم اليابان على ميناء پيرل هاربر الشهير في الحرب العالمية.

فهل من مدّكر!؟

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

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