Here comes the 30-year trade war

 

September 24, 2018Here comes the 30-year trade war

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

Trade tensions between the US and China could drag on for decades but China’s focus on its Belt and Road Initiative could provide relief

Alibaba’s Jack Ma has warned that the ongoing US-China trade war could last at least 20 years. As we’ll see, it’s actually more like 30 – up to 2049, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Steve Bannon always boasted that President Trump was bound to conduct a “sophisticated form of economic warfare” to confront China.

The logic underpinning the warfare is that if you squeeze the Chinese economy hard enough Beijing will submit and “play by the rules.”

The Trump administration plan – which is, in fact, trade deficit hawk Peter Navarro’s plan – has three basic targets:

  1. Displace China from the heart of global supply chains.
  2. Force companies to source elsewhere in the Global South all the components necessary for manufacturing their products.
  3. Force multinational corporations to stop doing business in China.

The overarching concept is that unending confrontation with China is bound to scare companies/investors away.

There’s no evidence South Korean or German conglomerates, for instance, would withdraw from the vast Chinese market and/or production facilities.

And even if the Flight Away from China actually happened, arguably the American economy would suffer as much, if not more, than China’s.

The latest US tariff volley may lower China’s GDP by only 0.9 percentage points, according to Bloomberg Economics. But China may still grow a healthy 6.3% in 2019.

This is a decent overview, with numbers, of what the trade war might cost China.

What’s certain is that Beijing, as confirmed by a rash of editorials in Chinese state media, will not just play defense.

Beijing sees the trade war as “protracted.” A Commercial Cold War 2.0 atmosphere is now in effect but China is fighting the ideological war on two fronts. At home, Beijing is using strong language to define its position against the US but taking a significantly softer approach in the international arena.

It’s extremely helpful to understand how the current situation has arisen by examining the work of Wang Hui, a professor of Chinese language and literature at Tsinghua University, top essayist and the star player of China’s New Left.

Hui is the author of the significant The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought, published in 2005 and still without an English translation.

Some of Hui’s key conclusions still apply 13 years later, as he explains how Chinese society has not yet adapted to its newfound status in international relations; how it has not solved the “accumulated contradictions” during the breathtakingly fast process of marketization; and how it still has not mastered the inherent risks in the globalization drive.

Hui’s analysis is echoed in many a Chinese editorial including delicious throwback lines such as the “sharpening of internal contradictions” in international relations. After all “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” as codified by Deng Xiaoping and renewed by Xi Jinping, excels in exploiting and bypassing “internal contradictions.”

It’s all about BRI

Jack Ma, also hinted at a bigger picture, when he said that to counter the trade war, China should focus exports across the New Silk Roads/Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), specifically mentioning Africa, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.

Five years after President Xi launched BRI – then named One Belt One Road (OBOR) – in Astana and then Jakarta, it’s only natural that Ma concentrates on what I have emphasized to be the primary Chinese foreign policy strategy for the next three decades.

It’s never enough to stress that BRI’s six main connectivity corridors, spanning up to 65 nations, according to the original timetable, are still in the planning stage up to 2021. That’s when actual implementation starts, all the way to 2049.

Ma alluded to BRI expansion across strategically positioned nations of the Global South, including Central, South and Southeast Asia as well as Africa and Eastern Europe.

Quite a few of these nations have been extremely receptive to BRI, including 11 that the UN describes as Least Developed Countries (LDCs), such as Laos, Djibouti and Tanzania. BRI projects – and not World Bank projects with strings attached – represent the solution to their infrastructure woes.

Thus we see Beijing signing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for BRI projects with no less than 37 African nations and the African Union (AU).

As BRI is closely interlinked with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the bank will handle financing for BRI projects in Indonesia.

And the US-China trade war extrapolates to third countries such as Brazil profiting in terms of its commoditiesexports.

China is slowly but surely attempting to master the fine-tuning of financing complexities for projects in multiple connectivity corridors – including those in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Kazakhstan. At the same time, Chinese companies keep an eye on a political deal that will have to be brokered by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to unlock the BRI integration of Afghanistan.

In cases of nations excessively exposed to Chinese investment – such as Laos, Djibouti, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan – China is deploying a range of financing options from debt relief to clinching long-term contracts to buy natural resources. Whether China will leverage financing of strategic deep-water ports in Myanmar and Djibouti to build a “string of pearls” dotting the Indian Ocean supply chains is pure speculation.

A key vector to watch is how Germany and France approach BRI’s inroads in Central and Eastern Europe, for instance, via the Budapest-Belgrade high-speed rail linked, BRI-style, to Piraeus port in the Mediterranean. Italy is in – the Adriatic is connected to BRI. Germany is in with arguably BRI’s key European terminal in the Ruhr valley. France, however, dithers.

Russia is also in. Nearly 70 projects are being co-financed by BRI and the Eurasia Economic Union  (EAEU). The Vladivostok forum once again proved the Russia-China strategic partnership, and its BRI/EAEU extension is in full effect.

A flimsy developed strategy by the Quad (US, India, Japan, Australia) has no potential to derail BRI’s reach, complexity, wealth of capital and human resources.

For all the financial/soft power challenges, BRI participant nations, especially across the Global South, are locked on their side of the Chinese infrastructure investment “win-win” bargain. The current, relentless BRI-bashing is not only myopic but irrelevant, as BRI, constantly fine-tuned, will keep expanding all the way to 2049. What it will certainly face is a 30-year trade war

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ادلب رهينة أميريكية في الخطة (ج) .. لكنها جسر روسيا الى نطاقها النظيف .. بقلم نارام سرجون

( الخميس 2018/09/13 SyriaNow)

الحكايات التي تبحث شخصياتها عن كنز أو سر أو خريطة أو حب تخبئه لنا حتى النهايات والأسطر الأخيرة وربما الأحرف الأخيرة تبقى الحكايات الأثيرة لدينا .. تأسرنا منذ الكلمات الاولى ونبقى معلقين بأحداثها بالسلاسل المقفلة بالاقفال حتى الصباح .. ونظل نمشي مع الأحداث شئنا ام ابينا الى أن تفتح الأقفال ونفك الأسرار ..

والحكاية الروسية في سورية هي من ذلك النوع من الحكايات التي تشد السامع لأن اللغز الذي يحيره هو ذلك السر الذي يجعل دولة تقاتل في معركة أخرى لبلد آخر وكأنها تخوض معركتها الوطنية أو كأن روحها معلقة بها .. وفي حالة روسيا وسورية يظن الناظر الى المشهد السياسي ان روسيا تقاتل بضراوة كما لو أنها تستعيد لحظات معركة ستالينغراد بكل ضراوة في ادلب ..

وقد كثيرا ماسمعنا عن مبررات قرار روسيا بأنها اضطرت للخروج من سيبيرية للقتال في سورية قبل ان تضطر لقتال الارهابيين داخل حدودها .. وهي في حالة الضربة الاستباقية قبل ان تعاجلها الخطة الغربية باطلاق الوحوش الاسلامية داخل روسيا بعد ان تزنرها بحزام عملاق من الدول الاسلامية الفاشلة التي تصبح مصانع وقواعد واسعة لاطلاق موجات من الارهابيين نحو روسيا ..

وسمعنا كذلك عن ان روسيا في مبررات أخرى تعتبر سورية منطقة نفوذ تاريخية وحيوية وحصرية لها لن تسمح لأحد بالاستيلاء عليها .. وأنها تحمي خطوط غازها عبر الامساك بالعقدة السورية لنقل أنابيب النفط من الخليج الى اوروبة .. وسمعنا الكثير من التفسيرات التي حاولت ان تقارب الحالة التي تجعل روسيا تقاتل كما تقاتل الأم دفاعا عن ابنتها وحلت محل فرنسا في الشرق التي كانت تعتبر نفسها الأم الحنون للمسيحيين الشرقيين .. فاذا بالام الحنون الفرنسية تترك الشرق ومسيحييه نهبا للاسلاميين والاسرائيليين والاميريكيين ينكلون بهم بالمسلمين .. واذا بروسيا تندفع للدفاع عن الشرق كله بمسيحييه ومسلميه ..

الحقيقة ان كل التفسيرات قابلة للحياة وللبقاء والقبول .. ولكن السلوك الروسي يدل على ان القضية أبعد كثيرا من أهداف آنية وقصيرة المدى ومناطق نفوذ .. ولا نجانب الصواب ان قلنا ان المعركة الحالية في سورية هي الفصل التالي للحرب الباردة بين السوفييت والغرب بعد أن استفاق الروس على حقيقة انهم خسروا معركة الحرب الباردة .. ولذلك فانهم اندفعوا نحو الهجوم المعاكس في رد على أول مواجهة مع الأميريكيين في سورية .. ورغم ان الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين يقول في خطابه للشعب الروسي انه لم يأخذهم في مغامرة من مغامرات الشيوعيين القدامى بل كان عليه ان يقاتل على اسوار دمشق كيلا يضطر الشعب الروسي للقتال على تخوم موسكو لأن دمشق هي خط دفاعه الحيوي والأخير ..

الا ان معركة فلاديمير بوتين في معركة سورية كان قرارا في غاية الخطورة لأنه وضعه وجها لوجه مع أشرس عتاة الشر في العالم وفلاسفة الحروب من الغربيين ومن حلفائهم العرب الذين جندوا العالم الاسلامي وساقوه كالقطيع في مواجهة روسيا بكل مشاعره وطاقاته الارهابية وانضم الى الحفلة الماسونية العالمية اتحاد علماء المسلمين والحرم المكي والأزهر والاخوان المسلمون وورثة العثمانيين وكل ممثلي الحقب الاسلامية مجتمعين .. حتى ان الحج في احدى السنوات خصص الدعاء فيه على جبل عرفات يوم العيد لاهلاك روسيا التي “تقتل المسلمين في سورية”.. ومع ذلك فان بوتين لم يتزحزح قيد شعرة عن تحالفه المتين مع السوريين .. وثبت أكثر حتى عندما صارت طائراته المدنية العسكرية تستهدف في تهديد صريح له من انه سيدفع الثمن غاليا .. وهذا كله لايفسره منطق المصالح الروسية وحده لان المساومات والعروض التي وضعت على طاولة بوتين تكاد لاتصدق ويسيل لها لعاب اي رجل يبحث عن المصالح والصفقات الكبرى ..

بوتين طبعا ليس تحت تأثير لوبي سوري يعاكس اللوبي الصهيوني في أميريكا .. لكن بوتين كان يتحدث أحيانا بانفعال وغضب وهو يدافع عن الموقف السوري ضد املاءات الغرب مستندا في تبريراته الى انه يدافع عن الأخلاقيات والمبادئ البسيطة في السياسة من أن من حق الشعوب حصريا حق تقرير مصيرها وشكل حكمها وليس للأمم المتحدة ولا للولايات المتحدة أي دور في ذلك ولايجوز ان يكون لها دور .. وهو في الحقيقة استند الى موقف أخلاقي صلب جدا في هذا .. ولكن اللوبي الذي يحرك بوتين ليس سوريا طبعا وهو أكثر صلابة من أخلاقيات الموقف الظاهر .. فالرئيس الروسي يرى في معركة سورية من وجهة نظر قائد يستأنف معركة قديمة مع أميريكا العدو الأزلي الذي لن يهدأ حتى تموت روسيا .. وهي ليست معركة ثأر بل هجوما معاكسا تشنه روسيا بكل معنى الكلمة .. يهدف الى تحييد قوة اميريكا كثيرا في المحيط الروسي .. أي تنظيف النطاق المحيط بالأمن الروسي لأن أميريكا لن تخرج من محيط روسيا الا بتحييدها في الشرق الاوسط أولا كي تتوقف عن حصار روسيا .. لأن الشرق الأوسط هو نقطة ارتكاز أميريكا الأقوى التي تستند اليها كل نقاط ارتكازها حول فضاء روسيا .. ولذلك لاشيء يعادل الهجوم المضاد في أقوى نقطة ارتكاز أميريكية .. وهذه المعركة بدأت في سورية ولن تتوقف .. وادلب هي معركة صغيرة تلت معارك في الحرب الكبرى التي وضعتها روسيا في مشروعها الكبير الذي التقى مع المشروع السوري الايراني الكبير في بناء جدار مقاوم ..

اليوم وبعد ان عشنا هذا التجاذب الغربي في معركة سورية ومعركة شد الحبل في آخر متر في ادلب بين الغرب وبين الروس صارت الأمور تتبلور أكثر .. وهي ان روسيا تخوض في سورية واحدة من أهم معاركها التاريخية بعد معارك الحرب العالمية الثانية حتى آخر متر وهي معركة تحجيم قوة أميريكا كليا في الشرق الاوسط والمحيط الروسي متكئة في ذلك على تحالف ايران وسورية اللتين التقطتا اللحظة الروسية المناسبة في توقيت دقيق جدا ومهم جدا لهما وعملان مع روسيا بشكل يكمل كل منهما الآخر .. ولكن أمريكا تستميت في محاولة البقاء والتشبث بالشرق الأوسط الذي يتم دفعها خارجه بالتدريج .. ولذلك فانها كانت تعد نفسها للانتقال للخطة (ج) بعد انهيار الخطتين (أ) و (ب) .. لأن الخطة ( أ ) كانت تهدف الى اسقاط الدولة السورية عبر الربيع الاسلامي الاخواني وتحويلها الى دويلات ممزقة فاشلة تخضع لأمراء حرب تحركهم الدول المجاورة انتهت .. وهاهم كل أمراء الحرب يتجمعون في ادلب قبل طحنهم .. واما الخطة (ب) المتمثلة في عملية تقسيم سورية – وهو تقسيم أقل ايلاما يتمثل بسلخ بعض المناطق من جسد الدولة المركزية – عبر تقاسمها مع الروس الذين سيترك لهم مابقي من سورية وحكومتها التي وصلوا اليها عام 2015 بحكم الأمر الواقع وتثبيت نقاط التماس .. وهذه الخطة انتهت كليا من لحظة تحرير حلب وتآكل المناطق المنسلخة عن الدولة .. واليوم يلجأ الاميريكوين الى الخطة (ج) وهي التثبت في الشرق السوري وفي ادلب لأطول فترة ممكنة وانتظار أي تحول في معادلات المنطقة المتغيرة .. فقد تتغير موسكو أو طهران أو تتغير دمشق .. وعندها تتم العودة الى الخطة (ب) .. ومنها الى الخطة (أ).. لأن الهدف لايتغير بل تتغير و سائل الوصول اليه وطرق التنفيذ وآلياتها ..

ولذلك فان القبول بالمماطلة مع الغرب وتركيا في تحرير ادلب ريثما تهيأ ظروف تتغير فيها معادلات ومعطيات الصراع سيعني للسوريين وحلفائهم الروس والايرانيين ان كل ماانجز من تحرير في حلب والغوطة وتدمر والجنوب سيظل ناقصا وكأنه لم يتم كمن يبني جسرا من عدة كيلومترات ويبقى المتر الاخير فيه (ادلب) غير متصل بالضفة الاخرى .. فهو لايستطيع استعمال الجسر وكأن كل مابناء بلا فائدة .. فادلب ان بقيت من غير تحرير فانها ستكون نقطة باردة تنتظر معادلات جديدة وفرصة جديدة لابقاء كل السياسة السورية القادمة رهينة في ادلب .. بل وماهو أهم من ذلك ستتعثر عملية اخراج الاميريكيين من الشرق السوري ومن التنف لأن ادلب ستشكل مسمارا للوجود الاميريكي يثبته بابقائها نقطة ملتهبة ترد على اي تحرك او ضغط لاسترداد الشرق السوري سلما او حربا .. كما هو جيب داعش الباقي حول التنف والذي تم تحريكه نحو السويداء في توقيت ما حول معركة الجنوب ودرعا .. أي ان جيب ادلب الكبير سيتم تحريكه باستفزازات ورسائل ضاغطة وابتزازبة اذا ما تحركت سورية وحلفاؤها في اي اتجاه لا يريح اميريكا واسرائيل .. فهي بؤرة ابتزاز يصل تأثيرها الى كل قضايا الشرق .. في لبنان والعراق وفلسطين .. ستبقى كل سورية رهينة بسببها .. وستبقى الخطة (أ) أو الخطة (ب) قابلة للتنفيذ والحياة بسرعة في أي لحظة اختلال توازن سياسي تحت اي مستجدات .. ولكن اذا ما خرجت اميريكا من ادلب بخروج مسلحيها فانها لاتقدر الا على ان تتلو ذلك بخروج من الشرق السوري لأن قواتها هي التي ستتحول في الشرق الى رهائن .. وهذا يعني تدحرجها الى الخطة (د) التي تعني أن عليها أن تحمي مابقي لها في الشرق .. لأن ما سيتلو الخروج من سورية اخراجها نهائيا من العراق في المدى المنظور او المتوسط .. ومن ثم الخوف من الخروج مما بعد العراق !! .. وهو يتماشى مع الهدف البعيد لروسيا الناهضة من بين حطام الاتحاد السوفييتي ..

من هذا كله .. نجد انه لامناص لروسيا قبل سورية من خوض معركة ادلب من أجل تعبيد الطريق نحو الفضاء الروسي النظيف والذي قد يتعرقل ببقاء مشروعها رهينة في ادلب وشرق سورية .. والحفاظ على بقاء حيوية ومرونة الخطتين القديمتين أ – ب .. التي يمكن أن تنتقل اميريكا بينهما وفق الظروف المتاحة .. أما الخروج من الخطة (ج) .. فهو يعني التقهقر نحو الخطة د ..

ولذلك يجب الاستعداد لأي استماتة أميريكية لجعل التحرك نحو ادلب متعثرا ولكن في نفس الوقت يجب ألا نعطي تهديدات الغرب اي اعتبار هام يغير من عزمنا وتحركنا لأن الغرب يدرك ان معركة ادلب ليست معركة سورية فقط .. بل معركة في مشروع فضاء روسيا الحيوي .. الذي تبنيه روسيا للقرن القادم .. الذي سيعني لها الانطلاق نحو فضاء أوراسيا الذي من أجله تبني تحالفاتها مع الصين والهند وباكستان وايران وسورية والعراق .. وبمعنى أخر يقوم الروس بعملية كنس ناعمة وخشنة معا وتدريجية للنفوذ الاميريكي في الفضاء الروسي .. وقد لا يصدق البعض ان سورية -وبالتالي ادلب – هي في صلب هذا الفضاء لأن معركتها ستحدد عملية خروج ونزوح اميريكة كبرى من سورية ومن ثم العراق خلال السنوات القليلة القادمة .. مما يجعل المعركة في ادلب صعبة ديبلوماسيا وسياسيا رغم انها عملية سهلة عسكريا لانها تستعد بحشود سورية هائلة وكثافة وازدحام للسلاح الروسي لم يسبق لها مثيل .. ستجعل مسلحي اميريكا وتركيا في ادلب مثل جيش ابرهة الأشرم .. كعصف مأكول ..

أنني لا أبالغ ان قلت ان ما أعد للمسلحين في ادلب سيحولهم الى عصف مأكول .. وأتمنى أن تسمى هذه العملية عملية العصف المأكول .. ولن تفعل أميريكا شيئا سوى أنها ستدرس التكتيكات والسلاح والذخائر الروسية المستعملة لتدرسها في اكاديمياتها العسكرية .. ولمعرفة تأثيراتها على أجساد المسلحين وتحصيناتهم وحجم الخسائر التي ستسببها في الجسد الارهابي المسلح .. فهؤلاء المسلحون فئران التجارب الاميريكية .. فئران اسلامية للتجارب لكل مشاريع أميريكا .. والحكايات ستحكي عن الأسرار التي تحشد العالم على ارضنا وتتداول الأحداث .. وستؤرخ لكل شيء .. الا لفئران التجارب .. التي ستحترق وتموت أو ستغادر ادلب أفواجا الى جحورها في تركيا قبل أن تصبح .. العصف المأكول ..

Back in the (Great) Game: The Revenge of Eurasian Land Powers

Back in the (Great) Game: The Revenge of Eurasian Land Powers

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 30.08.2018

Back in the (Great) Game: The Revenge of Eurasian Land Powers

Pepe ESCOBAR

Get ready for a major geopolitical chessboard rumble: from now on, every butterfly fluttering its wings and setting off a tornado directly connects to the battle between Eurasia integration and Western sanctions as foreign policy.

It is the paradigm shift of China’s New Silk Roads versus America’s Our Way or the Highway. We used to be under the illusion that history had ended. How did it come to this?

Hop in for some essential time travel. For centuries the Ancient Silk Road, run by mobile nomads, established the competitiveness standard for land-based trade connectivity; a web of trade routes linking Eurasia to the – dominant – Chinese market.

In the early 15th century, based on the tributary system, China had already established a Maritime Silk Road along the Indian Ocean all the way to the east coast of Africa, led by the legendary Admiral Zheng He. Yet it didn’t take much for imperial Beijing to conclude that China was self-sufficient enough – and that emphasis should be placed on land-based operations.

Deprived of a trade connection via a land corridor between Europe and China, Europeans went all-out for their own maritime silk roads. We are all familiar with the spectacular result: half a millennium of Western dominance.

Until quite recently the latest chapters of this Brave New World were conceptualized by the Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman trio.

The Heartland of the World

Mackinder

Halford Mackinder’s 1904 Heartland Theory – a product of the imperial Russia-Britain New Great Game – codified the supreme Anglo, and then Anglo-American, fear of a new emerging land power able to reconnect Eurasia to the detriment of maritime powers.

Nicholas Spykman’s 1942 Rimland Theory advocated that mobile maritime powers, such as the UK and the U.S., should aim for strategic offshore balancing. The key was to control the maritime edges of Eurasia—that is, Western Europe, the Middle East and East Asia—against any possible Eurasia unifier. When you don’t need to maintain a large Eurasia land-based army, you exercise control by dominating trade routes along the Eurasian periphery.

Even before Mackinder and Spykman, U.S. Navy Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan had come up in the 1890s with his Influence of Sea Power Upon History – whereby the “island” U.S. should establish itself as a seaworthy giant, modeled on the British empire, to maintain a balance of power in Europe and Asia.

It was all about containing the maritime edges of Eurasia.

In fact, we lived in a mix of Heartland and Rimland. In 1952, then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles adopted the concept of an “island chain” (then expanded to three chains) alongside Japan, Australia and the Philippines to encircle and contain both China and the USSR in the Pacific. (Note the Trump administration’s attempt at revival via the Quad–U.S., Japan, Australia and India).

George Kennan, the architect of containing the USSR, was drunk on Spykman, while, in a parallel track, as late as 1988, President Ronald Reagan’s speechwriters were still drunk on Mackinder. Referring to U.S. competitors as having a shot at dominating the Eurasian landmass, Reagan gave away the plot: “We fought two world wars to prevent this from occurring,” he said.

Eurasia integration and connectivity is taking on many forms. The China-driven New Silk Roads, also known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); the Russia-driven Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU); the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), and myriad other mechanisms, are now leading us to a whole new game.

How delightful that the very concept of Eurasian “connectivity” actually comes from a 2007 World Bank report about competitiveness in global supply chains.

Also delightful is how the late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski was “inspired” by Mackinder after the fall of the USSR – advocating the partition of a then weak Russia into three separate regions; European, Siberian and Far Eastern.

All Nodes Covered

At the height of the unipolar moment, history did seem to have “ended.” Both the western and eastern peripheries of Eurasia were under tight Western control – in Germany and Japan, the two critical nodes in Europe and East Asia. There was also that extra node in the southern periphery of Eurasia, namely the energy-wealthy Middle East.

Washington had encouraged the development of a multilateral European Union that might eventually rival the U.S. in some tech domains, but most of all would enable the U.S. to contain Russia by proxy.

China was only a delocalized, low-cost manufacture base for the expansion of Western capitalism. Japan was not only for all practical purposes still occupied, but also instrumentalized via the Asian Development Bank (ADB), whose message was:

We fund your projects only if you are politically correct.

The primary aim, once again, was to prevent any possible convergence of European and East Asian powers as rivals to the US.

The confluence between communism and the Cold War had been essential to prevent Eurasia integration. Washington configured a sort of benign tributary system – borrowing from imperial China – designed to ensure perpetual unipolarity. It was duly maintained by a formidable military, diplomatic, economic, and covert apparatus, with a star role for the Chalmers Johnson-defined Empire of Bases encircling, containing and dominating Eurasia.

Compare this recent idyllic past with Brzezinski’s – and Henry Kissinger’s – worst nightmare: what could be defined today as the “revenge of history”.

That features the Russia-China strategic partnership, from energy to trade:  interpolating Russia-China geo-economics; the concerted drive to bypass the U.S. dollar; the AIIB and the BRICS’s New Development Bank involved in infrastructure financing; the tech upgrade inbuilt in Made in China 2025; the push towards an alternative banking clearance mechanism (a new SWIFT); massive stockpiling of gold reserves; and the expanded politico-economic role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

As Glenn Diesen formulates in his brilliant book, Russia’s Geo-economic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia, “the foundations of an Eurasian core can create a gravitational pull to draw the rimland towards the centre.”

If the complex, long-term, multi-vector process of Eurasia integration could be resumed by just one formula, it would be something like this: the heartland progressively integrating; the rimlands mired in myriad battlefields and the power of the hegemon irretrievably dissolving. Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman to the rescue? It’s not enough.

Divide and Rule, Revisited

The Oracle still speaks

The same applies for the preeminent post-mod Delphic Oracle, also known as Henry Kissinger, simultaneously adorned by hagiography gold and despised as a war criminal.

Before the Trump inauguration, there was much debate in Washington about how Kissinger might engineer – for Trump – a “pivot to Russia” that he had envisioned 45 years ago. This is how I framed the shadow play at the time.

In the end, it’s always about variations of Divide and Rule – as in splitting Russia from China and vice-versa. In theory, Kissinger advised Trump to “rebalance” towards Russia to oppose the irresistible Chinese ascension. It won’t happen, not only because of the strength of the Russia-China strategic partnership, but because across the Beltway, neocons and humanitarian imperialists ganged up to veto it.

Brzezinski’s perpetual Cold War mindset still lords over a fuzzy mix of the Wolfowitz Doctrine and the Clash of Civilizations. The Russophobic Wolfowitz Doctrine – still fully classified – is code for Russia as the perennial top existential threat to the U.S. The Clash, for its part, codifies another variant of Cold War 2.0: East (as in China) vs. West.

Kissinger is trying some rebalancing/hedging himself, noting that the mistake the West (and NATO) is making “is to think that there is a sort of historic evolution that will march across Eurasia – and not to understand that somewhere on that march it will encounter something very different to a Westphalian entity.”

Both Eurasianist Russia and civilization-state China are already on post-Westphalian mode. The redesign goes deep. It includes a key treaty signed in 2001, only a few weeks before 9/11, stressing that both nations renounce any territorial designs on one another’s territory. This happens to concern, crucially, the Primorsky Territory in the Russian Far East along the Amur River, which was ruled by the Ming and Qing empires.

Moreover, Russia and China commit never to do deals with any third party, or allow a third country to use its territory to harm the other’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.

So much for turning Russia against China. Instead, what will develop 24/7 are variations of U.S. military and economic containment against Russia, China and Iran – the key nodes of Eurasia integration – in a geo-strategic spectrum. It will include intersections of heartland and rimland across Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and the South China Sea. That will proceed in parallel to the Fed weaponizing the U.S. dollar at will.

Heraclitus Defies Voltaire

Voltaire

Alastair Crooke took a great shot at deconstructing why Western global elites are terrified of the Russian conceptualization of Eurasia. It’s because “they ‘scent’…a stealth reversion to the old, pre-Socratic values: for the Ancients … the very notion of ‘man’, in that way, did not exist. There were only men: Greeks, Romans, barbarians, Syrians, and so on. This stands in obvious opposition to universal, cosmopolitan ‘man’.”

So it’s Heraclitus versus Voltaire – even as “humanism” as we inherited it from the Enlightenment, is de facto over. Whatever is left roaming our wilderness of mirrors depends on the irascible mood swings of the Goddess of the Market. No wonder one of the side effects of progressive Eurasia integration will be not only a death blow to Bretton Woods but also to “democratic” neoliberalism.

What we have now is also a remastered version of sea power versus land powers. Relentless Russophobia is paired with supreme fear of a Russia-Germany rapprochement – as Bismarck wanted, and as Putin and Merkel recently hinted at. The supreme nightmare for the U.S. is in fact a truly Eurasian Beijing-Berlin-Moscow partnership.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has not even begun; according to the official Beijing timetable, we’re still in the planning phase. Implementation starts next year. The horizon is 2039.

(Wellcome Library, London.) 

This is China playing a long-distance game of go on steroids, incrementally making the best strategic decisions (allowing for margins of error, of course) to render the opponent powerless as he does not even realize he is under attack.

The New Silk Roads were launched by Xi Jinping five years ago, in Astana (the Silk Road Economic Belt) and Jakarta (the Maritime Silk Road). It took Washington almost half a decade to come up with a response. And that amounts to an avalanche of sanctions and tariffs. Not good enough.

Russia for its part was forced to publicly announce a show of mesmerizing weaponry to dissuade the proverbial War Party adventurers probably for good – while heralding Moscow’s role as co-driver of a brand new game.

On sprawling, superimposed levels, the Russia-China partnership is on a roll; recent examples include summits in Singapore, Astana and St. Petersburg; the SCO summit in Qingdao; and the BRICS Plus summit.

Were the European peninsula of Asia to fully integrate before mid-century – via high-speed rail, fiber optics, pipelines – into the heart of massive, sprawling Eurasia, it’s game over. No wonder Exceptionalistan elites are starting to get the feeling of a silk rope drawn ever so softly, squeezing their gentle throats.

consortiumnews.com

Washington’s Deluded Sanctions on Russia

Washington’s Deluded Sanctions on Russia

EDITORIAL | 24.08.2018 | EDITORIAL

Washington’s Deluded Sanctions on Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a good call this week when he said that economic and diplomatic sanctions imposed on his country by the United States are both “counterproductive and meaningless”.

It was a nice touch, too, when later Russia announced that it would not be halting its exports of titanium metal to the US for the latter’s aviation industry. Russian trade officials said they would not “shoot themselves in the foot” by banning a remunerative export business to the US, despite the latter’s boorish behavior towards Russia. Indeed, why harm oneself over another person’s foolishness?

First, let’s look at the “meaningless” side of the equation. The US has imposed a raft of sanctions on Russia since 2014 stemming from the conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s alleged annexation of Crimea. Another supposed cause for sanctions against Russia is the alleged interference in US elections. Still another purported grievance is the alleged involvement of the Kremlin in the apparent poison-assassination plot against a disgraced former spy living in England.

All these claims are unfounded and, frankly, outlandish, lacking any credible proof. The resultant sanctions are therefore “meaningless” in the most stark definition of the word. They are based on thin air, nothing more. So, if Russia were to react to these meaningless sanctions in a robust way, it is only tending to give the baseless accusations some undeserved substance. Better to treat something meaningless with the quiet contempt that it deserves. Someone else’s delusions only take on a veneer of reality when the delusions are somehow acknowledged.

Secondly, as for the “counterproductive” side of the equation: US sanctions are intended to do serious harm to Russia’s economy and society. That is deplorable and ignominious of Washington to wield wanton aggression. Nevertheless, the world has changed since the good-old, bad-old days when American global power indisputably had significant clout. Today, a multipolar world is emerging in which Russia has alternative trading partners and options, such as its growing partnership with China and the rest of Eurasia. Even the European Union is becoming restless from Washington’s abuse of its supposed power, with Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas this week talking about Europe exploring independent financing mechanisms for its trade relations, to make them immune from US capricious sanctions.

US sanctions against Russia are therefore not just meaningless and counterproductive, they are in fact a sign that evaluates growing American weakness.

This week President Donald Trump said in an interview with the Reuters news agency that he may lift sanctions off Russia if Moscow gives concessions on Ukraine and Syria.

His comments seemed to be orchestrated with those of his national security advisor John Bolton who while visiting Israel made the fatuous comment that Russia was “stuck in Syria”. Taken together, the comments implied that Russia would be somehow beholden to the US for receiving help.

Nikolai Patrushev, Russia’s counterpart to Bolton, reportedly reminded him during a subsequent meeting in Geneva on Thursday that it is not Russia that is stuck. Rather, it is the US that has become enfeebled and enmeshed from its illegal wars and subterfuges across the Middle East and North Africa.

Trump and his administration may think he has bargaining power over Moscow for the latter to do Washington’s bidding. Such horse-trading may have worked in the realm of tacky real-estate wheeling-dealing, which was Trump’s business before he became a politician. But if the US thinks it can force Russia with such low-ball tactics, then it shows how deluded American rulers are about their presumed power.

The world is changing. Washington’s bullyboy tactics of using sanctions as a stick to intimidate others are a sign that US power has in fact lost its former grip. Russia will not be demeaned by engaging in such futile antics.

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America’s War on Yemen Exposed

August 14, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – As atrocities and scandal begin to mount regarding the US-backed Saudi-led war on the impoverished nation of Yemen, the involvement and hypocrisy of the United States and other Western backers is coming to full light.

Global condemnation of Saudi airstrikes on civilian targets has brought public attention to Washington’s role in the conflict – a role the Western media has attempted to downplay for years. It is ironic, or perhaps telling, that alternative media outlets targeted as “Russian influence” are leading coverage of Yemen’s growing humanitarian catastrophe.

US Denies Role in Proxy War That Couldn’t be Fought Without It 
In a recent press conference, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis – when asked about the US role in the Yemeni conflict in regards to Saudi atrocities – would claim:

We are not engaged in the civil war. We will help to prevent, you know, the killing of innocent people.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Mattis himself would lobby US Congress earlier this year to continue US support for Saudi-led operations in Yemen.

A March 2018 Washington Post article titled, “Mattis asks Congress not to restrict U.S. support for Saudi bombing in Yemen,” would admit:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made a personal appeal to Congress on Wednesday not to restrict the United States’ support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, as the sponsors of a privileged resolution to end Washington’s involvement announced that the Senate would vote on the matter next week.

Support includes US intelligence gathering for Saudi operations, the sale of of US weapons to the Saudi regime, and even US aerial refueling for US-made Saudi warplanes dropping US-made munitions on Yemeni targets selected with the aid of US planners.

In essence, the US is all but directly fighting the “civil war” itself.

Abetting War Crimes, Sponsoring Terrorists to What End? 

As to why the US believes it must continue supporting a proxy war Saudi Arabia is fighting on its behalf – beginning under US President Barack Obama and continuing in earnest under current US President Donald Trump – the Washington Post could conclude (emphasis added):

The war in Yemen has inspired much controversy in Congress, as lawmakers have questioned why the United States has involved itself so closely on the Saudi-backed side of a civil war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel forces. Successive presidential administrations have presented the campaign as a necessary component of the fight against terrorism and to preserve stability in the region. As Mattis put it in his letter to congressional leaders Wednesday, “withdrawing U.S. support would embolden Iran to increase its support to the Houthis, enabling further ballistic missile strikes on Saudi Arabia and threatening vital shipping lanes in the Red Sea, thereby raising the risk of a regional conflict.”

However, Mattis, his colleagues, and his predecessors have categorically failed to explain how Iran constitutes a greater threat to either US or global security than Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a nation admittedly sponsoring Al Qaeda worldwide, including in Yemen as revealed by a recent Associated Press investigation, and the nation which both radicalized the supposed perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on New York City and Washington D.C. and from which most of the supposed hijackers originated from.

If Iran is indeed waging war against Saudi Arabia and its terrorist proxies in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, the real question is – why isn’t the United States backing Tehran instead?

The obvious answer to this question reveals the crumbling moral authority of the United States as the principled facade it has used for decades falls away from its hegemony-driven agenda worldwide.

The US and its allies created the “War on Terror” and intentionally perpetuated it as a pretext to expand militarily around the globe in an attempt to preserve its post-Cold War primacy and prevent the rise of a multipolar alternative to its unipolar “international order.” It has done this not only at the cost of hundreds of thousands of human lives across the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, it has done it at the cost of trillions of taxpayers’ dollars and the lives of thousands of America’s own soldiers, sailors, aviators, and Marines.


Canada Too 

A recent row between Canada and Saudi Arabia over supposed “human rights” concerns appears to be a vain attempt to salvage the credibility of at least some nations involved in the now 7 year long war – the last 3 years of which has seen direct military intervention by Saudi Arabia, its partners, and its backers – including Canada.

The Guardian in an article titled, “‘We don’t have a single friend’: Canada’s Saudi spat reveals country is alone,” attempts to portray Canada as taking a lone, principled stance against human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia – abandoned even by Washington.

The article would claim:

The spat appeared to have been sparked last week when Canada’s foreign ministry expressed its concern over the arrest of Saudi civil society and women’s rights activists, in a tweet that echoed concerns previously voiced by the United Nations. 

Saudi Arabia swiftly shot back, making plans to remove thousands of Saudi students and medical patients from Canada, and suspending the state airline’s flights to and from Canada, among other actions.

The Guardian would also claim:

…the US said it would remain on the sidelines while Saudi officials lashed out at Canada over its call to release jailed civil rights activists.

Canada’s feigned concern for “human rights” in Saudi Arabia comes at a time when the Canadian government continues approving of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms sales to Riyadh. This includes small arms and armored personnel carriers Saudi forces are using in their ongoing invasion and occupation of neighboring Yemen.

The feigned divide between Ottawa and Washington over Saudi human rights violations is overshadowed by years of commitment by both North American nations in propping up the Saudi regime, and aiding and abetting the very worst of Riyadh’s human rights abuses unfolding amid the Yemeni conflict.

Canada’s apparent role is to help compartmentalize the worst of the West’s decaying moral authority, containing it with the US, and taking up a more prominent role in the West’s industrialized “human rights” and “democracy” leveraging racket.

While Canadian armaments help fuel genocide in Yemen – Canadian diplomats around the world fund agitators and directly meddle in the internal political affairs of foreign nations predicated on promoting “human rights” and “democracy.”

In Thailand for example, the US has receded into the shadows, allowing Canada, the UK, and other European nations to openly engage in political meddling on their behalf. US funding and support continues, but the public face of Western “outrage” is increasingly becoming Canadian, British, and Northern European.

However, Canada faces the same problem that has permanently eroded American credibility. And as its role in perpetuating real human rights abuses worldwide continues to be exposed, its feigned concern over token or even manufactured human rights concerns will increasingly appear hypocritical and hollow, undermining the West’s collective ability to leverage and hide behind human rights and democracy to advance their self-serving agendas.

The End of the US Unipolar Moment Is Irreversible

The End of the US Unipolar Moment Is Irreversible

The End of the US Unipolar Moment Is Irreversible

The past weeks have shown how part of the American establishment is weighing the pros and cons of the Trump administration’s strategies around the world. I have a strong feeling that in the coming weeks we will see the destabilizing effects of American politics, especially towards its closest allies.

A disastrous flip of events appears to be on its way, in case Trump were to lose the November midterm elections (the House and Senate elections). If this were to happen, the Trump administration would probably exploit the Russia gate conspiracy claiming that Moscow had now acted in favour of Democrats. Trump could argue that Moscow was disappointed by the lack of progress in softening US sanctions against Russia; indeed, by Trump’s measures against Russia (expulsions, sanctions, property seizures) and its allies (China, Iran and Syria).

Trump would not hesitate to claim Russian interference in the midterms to aid the Democrats, citing intelligence reports. He would say that Russia aims to create chaos in the US by placing roadblocks in the way of attempts to “Make America Great Again” and handing the House and Senate to the Democrats. He would use the electoral defeat to blame his accusers of getting aid from Russia. In doing so, he would be accelerating the implosion of his administration in an all-out war with the establishment. The mainstream media would dismiss Trump’s accusations against the Democrats of collusion with Russia as a conspiracy theory of an unravelling presidency. All this, summed up, would lead to the Democrats having majority in both houses, easily proceeding to the impeachment of Trump.

Italy is piggybacking on the US, operating side by side with Washington to expand its role in North Africa, especially in Libya. However, Rome will have to offer something in return to please Trump. Evidence points to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) as the quid pro quo, the US encouraging Italy to complete it in order to put pressure on Germany’s North Stream II project and undermine Russian gas deliveries to the EU. I have the impression that the only card available for Italy to play (and which interests Trump) is an endorsement of Washington’s positions on Iran, given that Italy already shares in common with Washington differences with Paris and Berlin on many issues. In this sense, Conte’s words about US intelligence info on the JCPOA paves the way for further decisions:

“”I didn’t take a specific stand. I said we are willing to evaluate the necessity to take more rigorous stances if the (nuclear) accord is shown to be ineffective. We are waiting to have elements of intelligence, Italy would like to evaluate it with its EU partners”

As evidence of Washington’s failed strategy towards Iran, India continues to buy crude oil from Iran, increasing the amount in the last month by 52%. China is also increasing its importation from Iran. Meanwhile, Iran is working with other countries to circumvent the US dollar in order to sustain their mutual trade within a new framework of agreements. Washington is especially disappointment with New Delhi, with American officials continuing to reiterate that India’s intentions align with Washington’s. Since November, with the imposition of counter-sanctions on countries that continue to work with Iran, Washington’s bluff will become evident to everybody, much to the disappointment of the Trump administration.

In the meantime, relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia have almost completely broken down on account of human rights. Ambassadors have been expelled and there is a continuing war of words, with trade between the two countries being brought to a stop. This is the latest example of the divisions manifesting themselves within the Western elites, with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration being in opposition to the likes of France, Germany and Canada.

What is also clear is that the issue of energy is central to Washington’s strategy. Between criticism of the German Nord Stream II and invitations to Italy to finish the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, it is clear that both the Trump administration and the policy makers of the deep state are strongly concerned about what actions allies and enemies could take to overcome the pressure brought to bear by Washington on the issues of energy, Iran, and sanctions. This shows that the US is very fearful of de-dollarization, especially coming from its allies.

Bypassing sanctions with currencies other than US dollar, or creating creative finance structures that bypass the SWIFT payment system, are the only means of maintaining relations between countries in spite of Washington’s sanctions. The US strategy is limited in the short term and certainly harmful in the long term for US Dollar financial hegemony.

That Washington’s allies are even entertaining such possibilities places US financial hegemony at great risk in the long run. This worries the American deep state a great deal, even without Trump, who in any case will not be in charge past 2024 (should he be re-elected in 2020). One of the points of greatest tension is precisely this strategic difference between the Trump administration and the policy makers in the deep state (AKA Langley and Foggy Bottom). While the former can increase the pressure on allies (through NATO, the JCPOA, TTIP and TPP) to obtain immediate solutions and benefits, the latter must above all consider the effects in the medium and long term, which are often harmful for US interests. The imposition of sanctions on Iran, and the obligation of European allies to comply with this directive, is a prime example.

Another of Washington’s strategies revolves around the price of oil. The United States would have no problem seeing the price of crude oil skyrocket. Secretly, many in the administration hope that Iran will take the first false step by closing the Strait of Hormuz (Teheran will not make this move as things stand now); some even hope that the crisis between Canada and Saudi Arabia will have some impact on the cost of crude oil.

Even trade war and tariffs should be seen as part of Trump’s short-term strategy to demonstrate to his base that something is being done against countries that he thinks are taking advantage of the United States. In reality, Trump knows, or should know, that there is no way of stopping China’s growth, a result of globalization that has been the engine of free-market capitalism, making the western elite richer than ever before. Trump deceives his base with trade wars and tariffs, but in the long run the costs will be borne by American consumers, many of whom are Trump’s voters.

Trump thinks in the very short term, constantly aiming to present himself before his electors with a list of ticked boxes ( Peter Lavelle of Crosstalk gets trademark of this definition), confirming that he is fulfilling his electoral promises. In this way he hopes to win the midterms in November. To succeed in this endeavor, the economy must pick up to a gallop (for now this is happening thanks to a series of tax cuts and the continuous pumping of easy money from the Fed) and he must put pressure on his allies as well as aggressively confront Iran, Russia and China through sanctions, cutting energy supplies and forcing Tehran to negotiate once again the nuclear agreement.

What many analysts struggle with when trying to analyse Donald Trump is that there is no overarching strategy uniting his actions into a coherent policy. Trump acts extemporaneously, often with a very short strategic outlook and for internal political motivations.

Nevertheless, if there is something that worries the deep state, it is the long-term impact of tariffs, trade war, sanctions and impositions on allies; or, to put it most simply, de-dollarization. If there is anything that scares the Trump administration, it is remaining entangled in a destabilizing war with Iran that would lead to the early end of the Trump presidency and destroying its legacy, as Bush’s legacy was destroyed by Iraq.

In all this uncoordinated and inconsistent behaviour, there is the hope of a major rise in the price of oil that would help slow down China’s growth and transform the US shale-gas industry into an ultra-profitable business, further boosting the US economy and allowing Trump to present further evidence to his base of his ability to improve their lives.

The United States is in the terminal phase of its unipolar moment and is struggling to come to terms with the downsizing of its role in the world. Its ruling elite cannot accept the prospect of sharing power, preferring to oppose by all means possible the transition to a world order involving more powers. If this situation is already complex for any superpower enough to manage, a president has been elected who has little regard for compromise and mediation.

Ultimately, in addition to an obvious problem in defining Washington’s role in the world over the next few years, the United States finds itself with a president who is in almost open warfare with an important part of the US establishment. The deep state is still living on the hope of impeaching Trump to halt the loss of US influence, deluding themselves that things can return to how they were at the height of the unipolar moment in the 1990s.

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