Don’t Hold Your Breath for ‘World War III’: World War IV Has Already Begun

February 27, 2020

A. B. Abrams on Today’s Great Power for The Saker Blog


“A. B. Abrams is the author of the book ‘Power and Primacy: A History of Western Intervention in the Asia-Pacific.’ His second book covering the history of the United States’ conflict with North Korea is scheduled for publication in 2020.

He is proficient in Chinese, Korean and other East Asian languages, has published widely on defence and politics related subjects under various pseudonyms, and holds two related Masters degrees from the University of London.”


The world today finds itself in a period of renewed great power conflict, pitting the Western Bloc led by the United States against four ‘Great Power adversaries’ – as they are referred to by Western defence planners – namely China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. This conflict has over the past 15 years escalated to encompass the military, economic and information spheres with global consequences – and appears to be coming to a head as signs of peaking tensions appear in multiple fields from military deployments and arms races to harsh economic wars and a harsher still information war.

While the term ‘World War III’ has been common since the 1940s, referring to the possibility of a global great power war on a greater scale than the first and second world wars, the Cold War between the Western and Soviet Blocs was at its height as total, as global and as heated as the prior conflicts. As weapons technology has evolved, the viability of a direct shooting war has diminished considerably – forcing major powers to seek alternative means to engineer their adversaries’ capitulation and assert their own dominance. This has been reflected in how the Cold War, and the current phase of global conflict some refer to as ‘Cold War 2’ have been distinct from the first two world wars despite the final objectives of the parties involved sharing many similarities. I would thus suggest redefining what a ‘world war’ is and acknowledging that this current phase of global conflict is every part as intense as the great power ‘hot wars’ waged in the first half of the 20th century.

Had the intercontinental range ballistic missile and the miniaturised nuclear warhead been invented twenty years earlier, the Allied Powers may have needed to rely more heavily on economic and information warfare to contain and eventually neutralise Nazi Germany. The Second World War would have been very different in nature to reflect the technologies of the time. When viewed from this paradigm, the Cold War can be seen as a ‘Third World War’ – a total conflict more vast, comprehensive and international than its predecessors stretched out over more than 40 years. The current conflict, or ‘World War IV,’ is ongoing. An assessment of prior ‘great power wars,’ and the unique nature of the current conflict, can provide some valuable insight into how warfare is evolving and the likely determinants of its victors.

As of 2020 it is clear that great power conflict has become almost as heated as it can short of an all-out hot war – with the Western Bloc applying maximum pressure on the information, military and economic fronts to undermine not only smaller adversaries such as Venezuela and Syria and medium sized ones such as North Korea and Iran, but also China and Russia. When exactly this phase of conflict began – sometime after the Cold War’s end – remains uncertain.

The interval between the third and fourth ‘world wars’ was considerably longer than that between the second and the third. This was due to a number of factors – primarily that there was no immediate and obvious adversary for the victorious Western Bloc to target once the Soviet Union had been vanquished. Post-Soviet Russia was a shade of a shadow of its former self. Under the administration of Boris Yeltsin the country’s economy contracted an astonishing 45% in just five years from 1992 (1) leading to millions of deaths and a plummet in living standards. Over 500,000 women and young girls of the former USSR were trafficked to the West and the Middle East – often as sex slaves (2), drug addiction increased by 900 percent, the suicide rate doubled, HIV became a nationwide epidemic (3) corruption was rampant, and the country’s defence sector saw its major weapons programs critical to maintaining parity with the West delayed or terminated due to deep budget cuts (4). The possibility of a further partition of the state, as attested to multiple times by high level officials, was very real along the lines of the Yugoslav model (5).

Beyond Russia, China’s Communist Party in the Cold War’s aftermath went to considerable lengths to avoid tensions with the Western world – including a very cautious exercise of their veto power at the United Nations which facilitated Western led military action against Iraq (6). The country was integrating itself into the Western centred global economy and continuing to emphasis the peaceful nature of its economic rise and understate its growing strength. Western scholarship at the time continued to report with near certainty that internal change, a shift towards a Western style political system and the collapse of party rule was inevitable. The subsequent infiltration and westernisation was expected to neuter China as a challenger to Western primacy – as it has other Western client states across the world. China’s ability to wage a conventional war against even Taiwan was in serious doubt at the time, and though its military made considerable strides with the support of a growing defence budget and massive transfers of Soviet technologies from cash strapped successor states, it was very far from a near peer power.

North Korea did come under considerable military pressure for failing to follow what was widely referred to as the ‘tide of history’ in the West at the time – collapse and westernisation of the former Communist world. Widely portrayed in the early 1990s as ‘another Iraq’ (7), Western media initially appeared to be going to considerable lengths to prepare the public for a military campaign to end the Korean War and impose a new government north of the 38th parallel (8). Significant military assets were shifted to Northeast Asia specifically to target the country during the 1990s, and the Bill Clinton administration came close to launching military action on multiple occasions – most notably in June 1994. Ultimately a combination of resolve, a formidable missile deterrent, a limited but ambiguous nuclear capability, and perhaps most importantly Western certainty that the state would inevitably collapse on its own under sustained economic and military pressure, deferred military options at least temporarily.

The fourth of the states that the United States today considers a ‘greater power adversary,’ Iran too was going to considerable lengths to avoid antagonism with the Western Bloc in the 1990s – and appeared more preoccupied with security threats on its northern border from Taliban controlled Afghanistan. With a fraction of the military power neighbouring Iraq had previously held, the presence of an ‘Iranian threat’ provided a key pretext for a Western military presence in the Persian Gulf after the Soviets, the United Arab Republic and now Iraq had all been quashed. With the new government in Russia put under pressure to terminate plans to transfer advanced armaments to Iran (9), the country’s airspace was until the mid 2000s frequently penetrated by American aircraft, often for hours at a time, likely without the knowledge of the Iranians themselves. This combined with a meagre economic outlook made Iran seem a negligible threat.

While the Cold War ended some time between 1985 and 1991 – bringing the ‘third world war’ to a close – the range of dates at which one could state that the ‘fourth world war’ began and the West again devoted itself to great power conflict is much wider. Some would put the date in the Summer of 2006 – when Israel suffered the first military defeat in its history at the hands of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. Using North Korean tunnel and bunker networks, command structures, weapons and training (10), and bolstered by Iranian funding and equipment, the shock of the militia’s victory, though underplayed in Western media, reverberated among informed circles across the world.

Others would place the date two years later in 2008 during the Beijing Summer Olympics, when Georgia with the full support of the West waged a brief war against Russia – and Moscow despite harsh warnings from Washington and European capitals refused to back down on its position. Post-Yeltsin Russia’s relations with the Western Bloc had appeared relatively friendly on the surface, with President George W. Bush observing in 2001 regarding President Vladimir Putin that he “was able to get a sense of his soul,” and predicting “the beginning of a very constructive relationship.” Nevertheless, signs of tension had begun to grow from Moscow’s opposition to the Iraq War at the UN Security Council to President Putin’s famous ‘Munich Speech’ in February 2007 – in which he sharply criticised American violations of international law and its “almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations.”

It could also be questioned whether, in light of what we know about Western support for separatist insurgents in Russia itself during the 1990s, the war against the country ever ended – or whether hostilities would only cease with a more total capitulation and partition and with the presence of Western soldiers on Russian soil as per the Yugoslav precedent. As President Putin stated in 2014 regarding continuing Western hostilities against Russia in the 1990s: “The support of separatism in Russia from abroad, including the informational, political and financial, through intelligence services, was absolutely obvious. There is no doubt that they would have loved to see the Yugoslavia scenario of collapse and dismemberment for us with all the tragic consequences it would have for the peoples of Russia” (11). Regarding Western efforts to destabilise Russia during the 1990s, CIA National Council on Intelligence Deputy Director Graham E. Fuller, a key architect in the creation of the Mujahedeen to fight Afghanistan and later the USSR, stated regarding the CIA’s strategy in the Caucasus in the immediate post-Cold War years: “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power” (12). The U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare’s director, Yossef Bodansky, himself also detailed the extent of the CIA’s strategy to destabilize Central Asia by using “Islamist Jihad in the Caucasus as a way to deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiralling violence and terrorism” – primarily by encouraging Western aligned Muslim states to continue to provide support for militant groups (13).

Much like the Cold War before it, and to a lesser extent the Second World War, great powers slid into a new phase of conflict rather that it being declared in a single spontaneous moment. Did the Cold War begin with the Berlin Blockade, the Western firebombing of Korea or when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – which accelerated the move into a nuclear arms race. Equally, multiple dates were given for the opening of the Second World War – the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the beginning of the Sino-Japanese war two years prior, the Japanese Empire’s attack on Pearl Harbour and conquest of Southeast Asia which marked the first major expansion beyond Europe and North Africa in 1941, or some other date entirely. The slide into a new world war was if anything even slower than its predecessors.

The shift towards an increasingly intense great power conflict has been marked by a number of major incidents. In the European theatre one of the earliest was the Bush administration’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in 2002 and subsequent deployment of missile defences and expansion of NATO’s military presence in the former Soviet sphere of influence, which was widely perceived in Russia as an attempt to neutralise its nuclear deterrent and place the Western Bloc in a position to coerce Moscow militarily (14). This threatened to seriously upset the status quo of mutual vulnerability, and played a key role in sparking a major arms race under which Russia would develop multiple classes of hypersonic weapon. Their unveiling in 2018 would in turn lead the United States to prioritise funding to develop more capable interceptor missiles, a new generation of missile defences based on lasers, and hypersonic ballistic and cruise missiles of its own (15).

Another leading catalyst of the move towards great power confrontation was the Barak Obama administration’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ initiative, under which the bulk of America’s military might and considerable assets from the rest of the Western world would be devoted to maintaining Western military primacy in the Western Pacific. This was paired with both economic and information warfare efforts, the latter which increasingly demonised China and North Korea across the region and beyond and actively sought to spread pro-Western and anti-government narratives among their populations through a wide range of sophisticated means (16). These programs were successors to those sponsored by Western intelligence agencies to ideologically disenchant the populations of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union with their own political systems and paint Western powers as benevolent and democratising saviours (17). Economic warfare also played a major role, with efforts centred around the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ trade deal – or ‘Economic NATO’ as several analysts referred to it – to isolate China from regional economies and ensure the region remained firmly in the Western sphere of influence (18). The military aspect of the Pivot to Asia would reawaken long dormant territorial disputes, and ultimately lead to high military tensions between the United States and China which in turn fuelled the beginning of an arms race. This arms race has more recently led to the American withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, which paves the way for deployment of American long-range missiles across the Western Pacific – all with China and North Korea firmly in their crosshairs (19).

It is arguably in the Middle East, however, where the new phase of global conflict has seen its most direct clashes so far. The nine-year conflict in Syria, although far less destructive or brutal, provides ‘World War IV’ with something of an analogue to the Korean War in the Cold War. The conflict has united the Western Bloc and a wide range of allies, from Turkey and Israel to the Gulf States and even Japan (which funds the jihadist-linked White Helmets) (20), in an effort to overthrow an independent government with close and longstanding defence ties to Russia, North Korea, Iran and China. The conflict has seen North Korean, Russian, Hezbollah and Iranian special forces (21) among other assets deployed on the ground in support of Syrian counterinsurgency efforts, with all of these parties providing considerable material support (the Koreans have built and fully staffed at least three hospitals as part of large medical aid packages and continue to be a major supplier of arms and training) (22). China too, particularly concerned by the presence of jihadist militants of Chinese origin in Syria, has played some role in the conflict – the exact details of which remain uncertain with much reported but unconfirmed (23).

Syria’s insurgency involving a range of jihadist groups, at times united only by their intent to end the secular Syrian government, have received widespread support from the Western Bloc and their aforementioned allies. This has involved both material support, which according to State Secretary Hillary Clinton included turning a blind eye to Gulf countries’ considerable assistance to the Islamic State terror group (24), and active deployments of special forces from a wide range of countries, from Belgium and Saudi Arabia to Israel and the U.S. The U.S., European powers, Turkey and Israel have at times directly attacked Syrian units in the field – while Russian reports indicate that close Western coordination with jihadist groups has been used to facilitate a number of successful attacks on Russian positions (25). The conflict in Syria arguably represents a microcosm of the macrocosm which is a new world war – one which pits the Western Bloc and those which support the Western-led order, both directly and through local proxies, against three of its four ‘great power adversaries’ in the field.

‘World War IV’ is unlikely to come to an end for the foreseeable future, and its final outcome remains difficult to predict. Much like in the Cold War, the Western Bloc retains considerable advantages – today most notably in the field of information war which allows it to extensively shape perceptions of the vast majority of the world’s population. This has included the demonization of Western adversaries, the whitewashing of Western crimes both domestically and internationally, and portraying westernisation and increased Western influence as a solution to people’s frustrations from corruption to economic stagnation. This has been a key facilitator of the pro-Western protests engulfing states from Sudan and Algeria to Ukraine and Thailand. Economically too, only China among the Western Bloc’s major adversaries has posed a serious threat to Western primacy. Indeed, it remains highly questionable whether the other three could survive economically under Western pressure without Chinese trade and economic support.

Russia has made a considerable economic recovery since the 1990s, but remains a shadow of its former self in the Soviet era. The country’s leadership has succeeded in reforming the military, foreign ministry and intelligence services, but the economy, legal system and other parts of the state remain in serious need of improvement which, over 20 years after Yeltsin’s departure, cannot come soon enough. Even in the field of defence, the struggling economy has imposed serious limitations – and in fields such as aviation and armoured warfare the country is only beginning to slowly go beyond modernising Soviet era weapons designs and begin developing new 21st century systems (26). On the positive side, the country does remain a leader in many high end technologies mostly pertaining to the military and to space exploration, while Western economic sanctions have undermined the positions of Europhiles both among the elite and within the government and boosted many sectors of domestic production to substitute Western products (27).

In the majority of fields, the ‘Eastern Bloc’ have been pressed onto the defensive and forced to prevent losses rather than make actual gains. While preserving Venezuelan sovereignty, denying Crimea to NATO and preventing Syria’s fall have been major victories – they are successes in denying the West further expansion of its own sphere of influence rather than reversing prior Western gains or threatening key sources of Western power. Pursuing regime change in Venezuela and Ukraine and starting wars in the Donbasss and in Syria have cost the Western Bloc relatively little – the Ukrainians and client states in the Gulf and Turkey have paid the brunt of costs for the war efforts. Material equipment used by Western backed forces in both wars, ironically, has largely consisted of Warsaw Pact weaponry built to resist Western expansionism – which after the Cold War fell into NATO hands and is now being channelled to Western proxies. Libyan weaponry, too, was transferred to Western backed militants in Syria in considerable quantities after the country’s fall in 2011 – again minimising the costs to the Western Bloc of sponsoring the jihadist insurgency (28). The damage done and costs incurred by the Syrians, Hezbollah, Russia and others are thus far greater than those incurred by the Western powers to cause destruction and begin conflicts.

Syria has been devastated, suffering from issues from a return of polio to depleted uranium contamination from Western airstrikes and a new generation who have grown up in territories under jihadist control with little formal education. The war is a victory only in that the West failed to remove the government in Damascus from power – but Western gains from starting and fuelling the conflict have still far outweighed their losses. In the meantime, through a successful campaign centred around information warfare, the Western sphere of influence has only grown – with further expansion of NATO and the overthrow of governments in resource rich states friendly to Russia and China such as Libya, Sudan and Bolivia. Commandeering the government of poor but strategically located Ukraine was also a major gain, with states such as Algeria and Kazakhstan looking to be next in the Western Bloc’s crosshairs. Thus while Syria was saved, though only in part, much more was simultaneously lost. The damage done to Hong Kong by pro-Western militants, ‘thugs for democracy’ as the locals have taken to calling them, who have recently turned to bombing hospitals and burning down medical facilities (29), is similarly far greater than the costs to the Western powers of nurturing such an insurgency. Similar offensives to topple those which remain outside the Western sphere of influence from within continue to place pressure on Russian and Chinese aligned governments and on neutral states seen not to be sufficiently pro-Western.

While the Western Bloc appears to be in a position of considerable strength, largely by virtue of its dominance of information space, which has allowed it to remain on the offensive, a sudden turning point in which its power suddenly diminishes could be in sight. From teen drug abuse (30) to staggering debt levels (31) and the deterioration of party politics and popular media, to name but a few of many examples, the West appears at far greater risk today of collapse from within than it did during the Cold War. A notable sign of this is the resurgence of both far right and far left anti-establishment movements across much of the Western world. Despite massive benefits from privileged access to third world resource bases, from France’s extractions from Francophone West Africa (32) to the petrodollar system propping up American currency (33), Western economies with few exceptions are very far from healthy. A glimpse of this was given in 2007-2008, and little has been done to amend the key economic issues which facilitated the previous crisis in the twelve years since (34). The West’s ability to compete in the field of high end consumer technologies, particularly with rising and more efficient East Asian economies, increasingly appears limited. From semiconductors to electric cars to smartphones to 5G, the leaders are almost all East Asian economies which have continued to undermine Western economic primacy and expose the gross inefficiencies of Western economies. The result has been less favourable balances of payments in the Western world, a growing reliance on political clout to facilitate exports (35), and increasing political unrest as living standards are placed under growing pressure. The Yellow Vests and the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are all symptoms of this. With very real prospects of another economic crash in the coming decade, in the style of 2008 but likely much worse, Western economies are expected to bear the brunt of the damage. Their ability to survive remains in serious question. Effects of a crash on North Korea, Iran, Russia and even China will be far less severe. While the previous crash hit Russia particularly hard (36), an economic turnaround from 2014 and the insulation provided by Western sanctions leave it far less vulnerable to the fallout from a Western economic crisis.

Ultimately China appears to be setting itself up for an ‘Eastern Bloc’ victory – a coup de grace which could see Western gains over the past several decades reversed and the power of the West itself diminished to an extent unprecedented in centuries. While the United States reluctantly outsourced much of its high end consumer technologies to East Asian allies during the Cold War – namely Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – China is going for the jugular of the Western world’s economy with its ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative, which will see some critical remaining fields of Western technological primacy shift to East Asian hands. The Coronavirus, bombings in Hong Kong, the trade war, and the wide range of tools in the Western arsenal for destabilisation can at best slightly delay this – but cannot prevent it. In a globalised capitalist economy the most efficient producers win – and East Asia and China in particular, with its Confucian values, stable and efficient political systems and world leading education (37), are thus almost certain to take over the high end of the world economy.

Much as the key to Western victory in the Cold War was successful information warfare efforts and isolation of the Soviet economy from the majority of the world economy, the key to determining the victor of ‘World War IV’ is likely lie in whether or not Beijing succeeds in its attempt to gain dominance of high end technologies critical to sustaining Western economies today. This is far from the only determinant of victory. Efforts to undermine the effective subsidies to Western economies from Central and West Africa, the Arab Gulf states and elsewhere in the third world, and to ensure continued military parity – to deter NATO from knocking over the table if they lose the game of economic warfare – are among the other fields of critical importance. Based on China’s prior successes, and those of other East Asian economies, the likelihood that it will meet its development goals is high – to the detriment of Western interests. The result will be an end to world order centred on Western might – the status quo for the past several hundred years – and emergence in its place of a multipolar order under which Russia, Asia (Central, East, South and Southeast) and Africa will see far greater prominence and prosperity.

(1) Menshikov, S., ‘Russian Capitalism Today,’ Monthly Review, vol. 51, no. 3, 1999 (pp. 82–86).

(2) Yulia V. Tverdova, ‘Human Trafficking in Russia and Other Post-Soviet States,’ Human Rights Review, December 11, 2016.

(3) Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, London, Penguin, 2008 (Chapter 11: ‘Russia Choses the Pinochet Option: Bonfire of a Young Democracy’).

(4) ‘The Death of the MiG 1.44 Program; How the Collapse of the Soviet Union Derailed Moscow’s Fifth Generation Fighter Development,’ Military Watch Magazine, September 16, 2018.  ‘Russia’s Sukhoi Unveils Images from Cancelled Next Generation Fighter Program,’ Military Watch Magazine, December 17, 2019.

(5) Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, President of Russia, Kremlin, December 4, 2014.

Bechev, Dimitar, Rival Power: Russia’s Influence in Southeast Europe, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 2017 (Chapter 1).

(6) Kristof, Nicholas D., ‘WAR IN THE GULF: China; Beijing Backs Away From Full Support of the War,’ New York Times, February 1, 1991.

(7) ‘Thaw in the Koreas?,’ Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 48, no. 3, April 1992 (p. 16).

(8) ‘Time to End the Korean War,’ The Atlantic, February 1997.

(9) Axe, David, ‘Iran Desperately Wants This Fighter Plane,’ The National Interest, January 4, 2020.

(10) ‘Hezbollah a North Korea-Type Guerrilla Force,’ Intelligence Online, No. 529, August 25–September 7, 2006.  “North Koreans Assisted Hezbollah with Tunnel Construction,” Terrorism Focus, The Jamestown Foundation, vol. III, issue 30, August 1, 2006.

Dilegge, Dave and Bunker, Robert J., and Keshavarz, Alma, Iranian and Hezbollah Hybrid Warfare Activities: A Small Wars Journal Anthology, Amazon Media, 2016 (p. 261).

‘Bulsae-3 in South Lebanon: How Hezbollah Upgraded its Anti-Armour Capabilities with North Korean Assistance,’ Military Watch Magazine, September 3, 2019.

(11) Kremlin, President of Russia, Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, December 4, 2014.

(12) Congressional Record, V. 151, PT. 17, U.S. Congress, October 7 to 26, 2005.

(13) ‘American political scientist: Western Intelligence used Azerbaijan to export terrorism into Russia,’ Panorama, May 30, 2015.

(14) Kremlin, President of Russia, Plenary session of St Petersburg International Economic Forum, June 17, 2016.

(15) Gregg, Aaron, ‘Military Industrial Complex Finds a Growth Market in Hypersonic Weapons,’ Washington Post, December 21, 2018.

(16) Mullen, Mike and Nunn, Sam and Mount, Adam, A Sharper Choice on North Korea: Engaging China for a Stable Northeast Asia, Council on Foreign Relations, Independent Task Force Report No. 74, September 2016.

Cartalucci, Tony, ‘Twitter Targets Hong Kong in US-backed Regime Change Operation,’ Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, October 15, 2019.

Park, Kyung-Ae, ‘Regime Change in North Korea?: Economic Reform and Political Opportunity Structures,’ North Korean Review, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring 2009 (p. 23-45).

(17) ‘Worldwide Propaganda Network Built by the C.I.A.,’ New York Times, December 26, 1977.

(18) Wu, S., ‘Why the TPP is an “economic NATO,”’ Huffington Post, October 19, 2015.

(19) Ait, Abraham, ‘US Withdrawal From the INF Treaty Isn’t About Russia,’ The Diplomat, October 25, 2018.

(20) al-Jablawi, Hosam, ‘The White Helmets Struggle Without US Funding,’ Atlantic Council, June 11, 2018.

(21) ‘North Korean Special Forces in Syria; A Look at Pyongyang’s Assistance to Damascus’ Counterinsurgency Operations,’ Military Watch Magazine, June 10, 2018.

(22) ‘DPRK Ambassador affirms his country’s readiness to support health sector in Syria,’ Syrian Arab News Agency, July 25, 2016.

(23) Pauley, Logan and Marks, Jesse, ‘Is China Increasing Its Military Presence in Syria?,’ The Diplomat, August 20, 2018.

Hemenway, Dan, ‘Chinese strategic engagement with Assad’s Syria,’ Atlantic Council, December 21, 2018.

(24) ‘We finally know what Hillary Clinton knew all along – U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding Isis,’ The Independent, October 14, 2016.

(25) ‘Inquiry Into Death of Russian Lt. Gen. Asapov Shows Data Leaks to Daesh –      Source,’ Sputnik, September 26, 2017.

‘Drones used by Syrian terrorists “require advanced training” – Russian MoD in response to US,’ Sputnik, January 9, 2018.

(26) ‘Five Next Generation Russian Combat Jets We Will See in the 2020s: From MiG-41 Hypersonic Interceptors to PAK DA Stealth Bombers,’ Military Watch Magazine, January 1, 2019.

(27) Twigg, Judy, ‘Russia Is Winning the Sanctions Game,’ National Interest, March 14, 2019.

(28) Hersh, Seymour, ‘The Red Line and the Rat Line,’ London Review of Books, vol. 36, no. 8, April 2014

Angelovski, Ivan and Patrucic, Miranda and Marzouk, Lawrence, ‘Revealed: the £1bn of weapons flowing from Europe to Middle East,’ The Guardian, July 27, 2016.

Chivers, C. J. and Schmitt, Eric and Mazzetti, Mark, ‘In Turnaround, Syria Rebels Get Libya Weapons,’ New York Times, June 21, 2013.

McCarthy, Andrew C., ‘Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Debacle: Arming Jihadists in Libya . . . and Syria,’ National Review, August 2, 2016.

(29)  ‘Militants Bomb Hospital, Torch Quarantine Center as Hong Kong Braces for Virus Outbreak,’ Military Watch Magazine, January 27, 2020.

(30) ‘Class A drug use “at record levels due to young people”,’ BBC News, September 20, 2019.

(31) Buchholz, Katharina, ‘Industrialized Nations Have Biggest Foreign Debt,’ Statista, February 7, 2019.

(32) ‘France’s Colonial Tax Still Enforced for Africa. “Bleeding Africa and Feeding

France,”’ Centre for Research of Globalization, January 14, 2015.

Bart Williams, Mallence, ‘The Utilization of Western NGOs for the Theft of Africa’s Vast Resources,’ TedxBerlin, January 26, 2015

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfnruW7yERA).

(33) Wong, Andrea, ‘The Untold Story Behind Saudi Arabia’s 41-Year U.S. Debt Secret,’ Bloomberg, May 31, 2016.

Spiro, David E., The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets, New York, Cornell University Press, 1999.

(34) ‘Banks have not learnt lessons of 2008 crisis, says Gordon Brown,’ Financial Times, October 31, 2017.

‘A decade after the financial meltdown, its underlying problems haven’t been fixed,’ The Guardian, August 6, 2017.

(35)  ‘Fearing U.S. Sanctions Over Su-35 Purchase: What is Behind Indonesia’s Interest in New F-16V Fighters,’ Military Watch Magazine, November 6, 2019.

Rogan, Tom, ‘The very political reason Qatar buys different fighter aircraft from Britain, France, and the US,’ Washington Examiner, February 25, 2020.

Krishnan, Rakesh, ‘Countering CAATSA: How India can avoid American arm twisting,’ Business Today, March 6, 2019.

(36) Gaddy, Clifford G. and Ickes, Barry W., ‘Russia after the Global Financial Crisis,’ Eurasian Geography and Economics, vol. 51, no. 3, 2010 (pp. 281-311).

(37) Hobbs, Tawnell D., ‘U.S. Students Fail to Make Gains Against International Peers,’ The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2019.

Turner, Camiilla, ‘Chinese students are two years ahead of their white British peers by age 16, report finds,’ The Telegraph, July 30, 2019.

MILITARY AND POLITICAL TRENDS OF 2019 THAT WILL SHAPE 2020

South Front

In the year 2019 the world was marked with a number of emerging and developing crises. The threat of terrorism, conflicts in the Middle East, expanding instability in South America, never-ending military, political and humanitarian crises in Africa and Asia, expansion of NATO, insecurity inside the European Union, sanction wars and sharpening conflicts between key international players. One more factor that shaped the international situation throughout the year was the further collapse of the existing system of international treaties. The most widely known examples of this tendency are the collapse of the INF and the US announcement of plans to withdraw from the New START. Meanwhile, the deterioration of diplomatic mechanisms between key regional and global actors is much wider than these two particular cases. It includes such fields as NATO-Russia relations, the US posture towards Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, unsuccessful attempts to rescue vestiges of the Iran nuclear deal, as well as recent setbacks in the diplomatic formats created to de-escalate the Korean conflict.

One of the regions of greatest concern in the world, is the Middle East. The main destabilizing factors are the remaining terrorist threat from al-Qaeda and ISIS, the crises in Libya, Syria and Iraq, the ongoing Saudi invasion of Yemen, the deepening Israeli-Arab conflict, and a threat of open military confrontation involving the US and Iran in the Persian Gulf. These factors are further complicated by social and economic instability in several regional countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and even Iran.

After the defeat of ISIS, the war in Syria entered a low intensity phase. However, it appears that the conflict is nowhere near its end and the country remains a point of instability in the region.

ISIS cells are still active in the country. The announced US troop withdrawal appeared to be only an ordinary PR stunt as US forces only changed their main areas of presence to the oil-rich areas in northeastern Syria. Washington exploits its control over Syrian resources and influence on the leadership of the Syrian Kurds in order to effect the course of the conflict. The Trump administration sees Syria as one of the battlegrounds in the fight against the so-called Iranian threat.

The province of Idlib and its surrounding areas remain the key stronghold of radical militant groups in Syria. Over the past years, anti-government armed groups suffered a series of defeats across the country and withdrew towards northwestern Syria. The decision of the Syrian Army to allow encircled militants to withdraw towards Idlib enabled the rescue of thousands of civilians, who were being used by them as human shields in such areas as Aleppo city and Eastern Ghouta. At the same time, this increased significantly the already high concentration of militants in Greater Idlib turning it into a hotbed of radicalism and terrorism. The ensuing attempts to separate the radicals from the so-called moderate opposition and then to neutralize them, which took place within the framework of the Astana format involving Turkey, Syria, Iran and Russia, made no progress.

The Summer-Fall advance of the Syrian Army in northern Hama and southern Idlib led to the liberation of a large area from the militants. Nevertheless, strategically, the situation is still the same. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly the official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, controls most of the area. Turkish-backed ‘moderate militants’ act shoulder to shoulder with terrorist groups.

Turkey is keen to prevent any possible advances of the government forces in Idlib. Therefore it supports further diplomatic cooperation with Russia and Iran to promote a ‘non-military’ solution of the issue. However it does not seem to have enough influence with the Idlib militant groups, in particular HTS, to impose a ceasefire on them at the present time. Ankara could take control of the situation, but it would need a year or two that it does not have. Therefore, a new round of military escalation in the Idlib zone seems to be only a matter of time.

Syria’s northeast is also a source of tensions. Turkey seized a chunk of territory between Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad in the framework of its Operation Peace Spring. The large-scale Turkish advance on Kurdish armed groups was halted by the Turkish-Russian ‘safe zone’ agreement and now the Syrian Army and the Russian Military Police are working to separate Kurdish rebels from Turkish proxies and to stabilize Syria’s northeast. If this is successfully done and the Assad government reaches a political deal with Kurdish leaders, conditions for further peaceful settlement of the conflict in this part of the country will be created. It should be noted that Damascus has been contributing extraordinary efforts to restore the infrastructure in areas liberated from terrorists by force or returned under its control by diplomatic means. In the eyes of the local population, these actions have an obvious advantage over approaches of other actors controlling various parts of Syria.

Israel is another actor pursuing an active policy in the region. It seeks to influence processes which could affect, what the leadership sees as, interests of the state. Israel justifies aggressive actions in Syria by claiming to be surrounded by irreconcilable enemies, foremost Iran and Hezbollah, who try to destroy Israel or at least diminish its security. Tel Aviv makes all efforts to ensure that, in the immediate vicinity of its borders, there would be no force, non-state actors, or states whose international and informational activities or military actions might damage Israeli interests. This, according to the Israeli vision, should ensure the physical security of the entire territory currently under the control of Israel and its population.

The start of the Syrian war became a gift for Israel. It was strong enough to repel direct military aggression by any terrorist organization, but got a chance to use the chaos to propel its own interests. Nonetheless, the rigid stance of the Israeli leadership which became used to employing chaos and civil conflicts in the surrounding countries as the most effective strategy for ensuring the interests of the state, was delivered a blow. Israel missed the moment when it had a chance to intervene in the conflict as a kind of peacemaker, at least on the level of formal rhetoric, and, with US help, settle the conflict to protect its own interests. Instead, leaders of Israel and the Obama administration sabotaged all Russian peace efforts in the first years of the Russian military operation and by 2019, Tel Aviv had found itself excluded from the list of power brokers in the Syrian settlement. Hezbollah and Iran, on the other hand, strengthened their position in the country after they, in alliance with Damascus and Russia, won the war on the major part of Syrian territory, and Iran through the Astana format forged a tactical alliance with Turkey.

Iran and Hezbollah used the preliminary outcome of the conflict in Syria, and the war on ISIS in general, to defend their own security and to expand their influence across the region.  The so-called Shia crescent turned from being a myth exploited by Western diplomats and mainstream media into a reality. Iran and Hezbollah appeared to be reliable partners for their regional allies even in the most complicated situations.

Russia’s strategic goal is the prevention of radical Islamists from coming to power. Russia showed itself ready to enter dialogue with the moderate part of the Syrian opposition. Its leadership even demonstrated that it is ready to accept the interests of other actors, the US, Israel, Kurdish groups, Turkey, Iran, and Hezbollah, if this would help in reaching a final deal to settle the conflict.

Summing up the developments of 2019, one might expect that the current low-intensity state of the Syrian conflict would continue for years. However, several factors and developments could instigate the renewal of full-fledged hostilities:

  • A sudden demise or forceful removal of President Bashar al-Assad could create a situation of uncertainty within the patriotic component of the Syrian leadership;
  • Changes within the Russian political system or issues inside Russia which could lead to full or partial withdrawal of support to the Syrian government and withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria;
  • A major war in the Middle East which would turn the entire region into a battlefield. In the current situation, such a war could only start by escalation between the US-Israeli-led bloc and Iran.

The Persian Gulf and the Saudi-Yemen battleground are also sources of regional instability. In the second half of 2019, the situation there was marked by increased chances of open military confrontation between the US-Israeli-Saudi bloc and Iran. Drone shoot-downs, oil tanker detentions, open military buildups, and wartime-like rhetoric became something common or at least not very surprising. The US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel point to Iran as the main instigator of tensions.

Iran and its allies deny responsibility for the escalation reasonably noting that their actions were a response to aggressive moves by the US-Israeli-Saudi axis. From this point of view, Iran’s decision to limit its commitments to the already collapsed Nuclear Deal, high level of military activity in the Persian Gulf, shoot down of the US Global Hawk spy drone, and increased support to regional Shia groups are logical steps to deter US—led aggression and to solidify its own position in the region. Iran’s main goal is to demonstrate that an open military conflict with it will have a devastating impact to the states which decide to attack it, as well as to the global economy.

The US sanctions war, public diplomatic support of rioters, and the Trump administration’s commitment to flexing military muscle only strengthen Tehran’s confidence that this approach is right.

As to Yemen’s Houthis, who demonstrated an unexpected success in delivering retaliatory strikes to Saudi Arabia, they would continue to pursue their main goal – achieving a victory in the conflict with Saudi Arabia or forcing the Kingdom to accept the peace deal on favorable terms. To achieve this, they need to deliver maximum damage to Saudi Arabia’s economy through strikes on its key military and infrastructure objects. In this case, surprising missile and drone strikes on different targets across Saudi Arabia have already demonstrated their effectiveness.

The September 14 strike on Saudi oil infrastructure that put out of commission half of the Saudi oil output became only the first sign of future challenges that Riyadh may face in case of further military confrontation.

The unsuccessful invasion of Yemen and the confrontation with Iran are not the only problems for Saudi Arabia. The interests and vision of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East have been in conflict for a long time. Nonetheless, this tendency became especially obvious in 2019. The decline of influence of the House of Saud in the region and inside Saudi Arabia itself led to logical attempts of other regional players to gain a leading position in the Arabian Peninsula. The main challenger is the UAE and the House of Maktoum.

Contradictions between Saudi Arabia and the UAE turned into an open military confrontation between their proxies in Yemen. Since August 29th, Saudi Arabia has provided no symmetric answer to the UAE military action against its proxies. It seems that the Saudi leadership has no will or distinct political vision of how it should react in this situation. Additionally, the Saudi military is bogged down in a bloody conflict in Yemen and struggles to defend its own borders from Houthi attacks.

The UAE already gained an upper hand in the standoff with Saudi Arabia in the economic field. This provided motivation for further actions towards expanding its influence in the region.

During the year, Turkey, under the leadership of President Recep Erdogan, continued strengthening its regional positions. It expanded its own influence in Libya and Syria, strengthened its ties with Iran, Qatar, and Russia, obtained the S-400, entered a final phase in the TurkStream project, and even increased controversial drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean. Simultaneously, Ankara defended its national interests -repelling pressure from the United States and getting off with removal from the F-35 program only. Meanwhile, Turkish actions should not be seen as a some tectonic shift in its foreign policy or a signal of ‘great friendship’ with Russia or Iran.

Turkish foreign policy demonstrates that Ankara is not seeking to make ‘friends’ with other regional and global powers. Turkey’s foreign policy is mobile and variable, and always designed to defend the interests of Turkey as a regional leader and the key state of the Turkic world.

Developments in Libya were marked by the strengthening of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and backed by the UAE, Egypt, and to some extent Russia. The LNA consolidated control of most of the country and launched an advance on its capital of Tripoli, controlled by the Government of National Accord. The LNA describes its main goal as the creation of the unified government and the defeat of terrorism. In its own turn, the Government of National Accord is backed by Turkey, Qatar, the USA and some European states. It controls a small part of the country, and, in terms of military force, relies on various militias and even radical armed groups linked with al-Qaeda. Ankara signed with the Tripoli government a memorandum on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, it sees the GNA survival as a factor which would allow it to justify its further economic and security expansion in the region. This clash of interests sets conditions for an escalation of the Libyan conflict in 2020.

Egypt was mostly stable. The country’s army and security forces contained the terrorism threat on the Sinai Peninsula and successfully prevented attempts of radical groups to destabilize the country.

By the end of the year, the Greater Middle East had appeared in a twilight zone lying before a new loop of the seemingly never-ending Great Game. The next round of the geopolitical standoff will likely take place in a larger region including the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Consistently, the stakes will grow involving more resources of states and nations in geopolitical roulette.

The threat that faces Central Asia is particularly severe since the two sets of actors have asymmetrical objectives. Russia and China are rather interested in the political stability and economic success of the region which they view as essential to their own political and security objectives. It is not in the interest of either country to have half a dozen failed states in their immediate political neighborhood, riven by political, economic, and religious conflicts threatening to spread to their own territories. In addition to being a massive security burden to Russia and China, it would threaten the development of their joint Eurasian integration projects and, moreover, attract so much political attention that the foreign policy objectives of both countries would be hamstrung. The effect would be comparable to that of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on the US political and military establishment. The monetary price of these wars, the sheer political distraction, wear and demoralization of the armed forces, and the unfortunately frequent killings of civilians amount to a non-tenable cost to the warring party, not to mention damage to US international “soft power” wrought by scandals associated with Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and “black sites”. Even now, shock-waves in the US military hierarchy continue to be felt regarding the court-martialed senior-ranking US Navy “SEAL” commando charged for the wanton killing of civilians in Northern Iraq during the US military’s anti-ISIS operations.

By contrast, this dismal scenario would be enough to satisfy the US foreign policy establishment which, at the moment, is wholly dominated by “hawks” determined to assure the continuation of US hegemony.  Preventing the emergence of a multi-polar international system by weakening China and Russia is their desire.  This sets the stage for another round of great power rivalry in Central Asia. While the pattern is roughly the same as during the 19th and late 20th centuries—one or more Anglo-Saxon powers seeking to diminish the power of Russia and/or China—the geography of the battlefield is considerably larger for it encompasses the entirety of post-Soviet Central Asian republics.  Also included is China’s province of Xinjiang which has suddenly attracted considerable Western attention, manifested, as usual, by concern for “human rights” in the region.  Historically, such “concern” usually precedes some form of aggressive action. Therefore the two sets of great power actors—the US and other interested Western powers on the one hand, with Russia and China on the other—are locked in a standoff in the region.

The key security problem is militancy and the spread of terrorism. The US and its NATO partners remain unable to achieve a military victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban reached a level of influence in the region, turning it into a rightful party to any negotiations involving the United States. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that a fully-fledged peace deal can be reached between the sides. The Taliban’s main demand is the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country. For Washington, conceding to this would amount to public humiliation and a forceful need to admit that the superpower lost a war to the Taliban. Washington can achieve a military victory in Afghanistan only by drastically increasing its forces in the country. This will go contrary to Trump’s publicly declared goal – to limit US participation in conflicts all around the world. Therefore, the stalemate will continue with the Taliban and the US sitting at the negotiating table in Qatar, while Taliban forces slowly take control of more and more territory in Afghanistan.

Besides fighting the US-backed government, in some parts of the country, the Taliban even conducts operations against ISIS in order to prevent this group from spreading further. Despite this, around 5,000 ISIS militants operate in Afghanistan’s north, near the border with Tajikistan. Member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization are concerned that ISIS militants are preparing to shift their focus to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Russia. The terrorists are infiltrating CIS states, incorporating with organized crime, creating clandestine cells, brainwashing and recruiting new supporters, chiefly the socially handicapped youth and migrants, [and] training them to carry out terrorist activities. The worsening situation in Central Asia contributes to the spread of radical ideas. Now the main threat of destabilization of the entire Central Asian region comes from Tajikistan. This state is the main target of militants deployed in northern Afghanistan.

Destabilization of Central Asia and the rise of ISIS both contribute to achievement of US geopolitical goals. The scenario could devastate Russia’s influence in the region, undermine security of key Russian regional ally, Kazakhstan, and damage the interests of China. The Chinese, Kazakh, and Russian political leadership understand these risks and engage in joint efforts to prevent this scenario.

In the event of further destabilization of Central Asia, ISIS sleeper cells across the region could be activated and a new ISIS self-proclaimed Caliphate could appear on the territory of northern Afghanistan and southern Tajikistan. Russia and China would not benefit from such a development. In the case of China, such instability could expand to its Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, while in Russia the main targets could be the Northern Caucasus and large cities with high numbers of migrant laborers from Central Asian states.

Armenia now together with Georgia became the center of a US soft power campaign to instigate anti-Russian hysteria in the Caucasus. Ethnic groups in this region are traditionally addicted to US mainstream propaganda. On the other hand, the importance of the South Caucasus for Russia decreased notably because of the strong foothold it gained in the Middle East. 2020 is looking to be another economically complicated year for Georgia and Armenia.

Throughout 2019, China consolidated its position as a global power and the main challenger of the United States. From the military point of view, China successfully turned the South China Sea into an anti-access and area-denial zone controlled by its own military and moved forward with its ambitious modernization program which includes the expansion of China’s maritime, airlift, and amphibious capabilities. The balance of power in the Asia-Pacific has in fact shifted and the Chinese Armed Forces are now the main power-broker in the region. China appeared strong enough to fight back against US economic and diplomatic pressure and to repel the Trump Administration’s attempts to impose Washington’s will upon Beijing. Despite economic war with the United States, China’s GDP growth in 2019 is expected to be about 6%, while the yuan exchange rate and the SSE Composite Index demonstrate stability. The United States also tried to pressure China through supporting instability in Hong Kong and by boosting defense aid to Taiwan. However, in both cases, the situation appears to still be within Beijing’s comfort zone.

An interesting consequence of US-led pressure on China is that Washington’s actions provided an impetus for development of Chinese-Russian cooperation. In 2019, Moscow and Beijing further strengthened their ties and cooperation in the economic and military spheres and demonstrated notable unity in their actions on the international scene as in Africa and in the Arctic for example.

As to Russia itself, during the year, it achieved several foreign policy victories.

  • The de-facto diplomatic victory in Syria;
  • Resumption of dialogue with the new Ukrainian regime and the reanimation of the Normandy format negotiations;
  • Improvement of relations with some large European players, like France, Italy, and even Germany;
  • Implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project despite opposition from the US-led bloc;
  • Implementation of the Turkish Stream project with Turkey;
  • Strengthening of the Russian economy in comparison with previous years and the rubble’s stability despite pressure from sanctions. Growth of the Russian GDP for 2019 is expected to be 1.2%, while the Russia Trading System Index demonstrated notable growth from around 1,100 points at the start of the year to around 1,500 by year’s end.

The salient accomplishment of the Russian authorities is that no large terrorist attack took place in the country. At the same time, the internal situation was marked by some negative tendencies. There was an apparent political, media, and social campaign to undermine Chinese-Russian cooperation. This campaign, run by pro-Western and liberal media, became an indicator of the progress in Chinese-Russian relations. Additionally, Russia was rocked by a series of emergencies, corruption scandals linked with law enforcement, the plundering of government funding allocated to the settlement of emergency situations, the space industry, and other similar cases. A number of Russian mid-level officials made statements revealing their real, rent-seeking stance towards the Russian population. Another problem was the deepening social stratification of the population. Most of the citizens experienced a decrease in their real disposable income, while elites continued concentrating margin funds gained through Russia’s successful actions in the economy and on the international level. These factors, as well as fatigue with the stubborn resistance of entrenched elites to being dislodged, caused conditions for political instability in big cities. Liberal and pro-Western media and pro-Western organizations exploited this in an attempt to destabilize the country.

Militarization of Japan has given the US a foothold in its campaign against China, Russia, and North Korea. The Japan Self-Defense Forces were turned into a fully-fledged military a long time ago. Japanese diplomatic rhetoric demonstrates that official Tokyo is preparing for a possible new conflict in the region and that it will fight to further expand its zone of influence. The Japanese stance on the Kuril Islands territorial dispute with Russia is an example of this approach. Tokyo rejected a Russian proposal for joint economic management of four islands and nearby waters, while formally the islands will remain within Russian jurisdiction -at least for the coming years. Japan demands the full transfer of islands a term which is unacceptable to Russia from a military and political point of view. The social and economic situation in Japan was in a relatively stable, but guarded state.

Denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea reached a stalemate after the North Korean leadership claimed that Washington was in no hurry to provide Pyongyang with acceptable terms and conditions of a possible nuclear deal. The example of the US unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran also played a role. The positive point is that tensions on the Korean Peninsula de-escalated anyway because the sides sat down at the negotiation table. Chances of the open military conflict involving North Korea and the United States remain low.

In February 2019, the Indian-Pakistani conflict over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir put the greater region on the brink of a large war with potential for the use of nuclear weapons. However, both India and Pakistan demonstrated reasonable restraint and prevented further escalation despite an open confrontation between their militaries which took place at the same moment. Meanwhile, the February escalation demonstrated the growing power of Pakistan. In the coming years, look to Jammu and Kashmir as a point of constant instability and military tensions, with very little chance that the sides will find a comprehensive political solution to their differences.

The threat of terrorism is another destabilizing factor in the region. In 2019, ISIS cells made several attempts to strengthen and expand their presence in such countries as Malaysia and Indonesia. Law enforcement agencies of both countries are well aware of this threat and contribute constant and active efforts to combat this terrorism and radicalism. It should be noted that Malaysia is in conflict with the Euro-Atlantic elites because of its independent foreign policy course. For example, its government repeatedly questioned the mainstream MH17 narrative and officially slammed the JIT investigation as politicized and nontransparent. So, the leadership of the country is forced to be in a state of permanent readiness to repel clandestine and public attempts to bring it into line with the mainstream agenda.

While the European Union is, theoretically, the world’s biggest economy using the world’s second most popular currency in international transactions, it remains to be seen whether, in the future, it will evolve into a genuine component of a multi-polar international system or become a satellite in someone else’s—most likely US—orbit. There still remain many obstacles toward achieving a certain “critical mass” of power and unity. While individual EU member states, most notably Germany and France, are capable of independent action in the international system, individually they are too weak to influence the actions of the United States, China, or even Russia. In the past, individual European powers relied on overseas colonial empires to achieve great power status. In the 21st century, European greatness can only be achieved through eliminating not just economic but also political barriers on the continent. At present, European leaders are presented with both incentives and obstacles to such integration, though one may readily discern a number of potential future paths toward future integration.

Continued European integration would demand an agreement on how to transfer national sovereignty to some as yet undefined and untested set of European political institutions which would not only guarantee individual rights but, more importantly from the point of view of national elites, preserve the relative influence of individual EU member states even after they forfeited their sovereignty. Even if the Euro-skeptics were not such a powerful presence in EU’s politics, it would still be an insurmountable task for even the most visionary and driven group of political leaders. Such a leap is only possible if the number of EU states making it is small, and their level of mutual integration is already high.

The post-2008 Euro zone crisis does appear to have communicated the non-sustainability of the current EU integration approach, hence the recent appearance of “two-speeds Europe” concept which actually originated as a warning against the threat of EU bifurcation into well integrated “core“ and a less integrated “periphery”. In practical terms it would mean “core” countries, definitely including Germany, France, and possibly the Benelux Union, would abandon the current policy of throwing money at the less well developed EU member states and, instead, focus on forging “a more perfect Union” consisting of this far more homogeneous and smaller set of countries occupying territories that, over a thousand years ago, formed what used to be known as the Carolingian Empire. Like US territories of the 19th century, EU states outside of the core would have to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” to earn membership in the core, which would require them to adopt, wholesale, the core’s political institutions.

The deepening disproportion of EU member state economies, and therefore sharpening economic disputes, are the main factor of instability in Europe. The long-delayed withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the union, which is finally expected to take place in 2020, might trigger an escalation of internal tensions over economic issues which might blow up the EU from the inside. Other cornerstones of European instability are the extraordinary growth of organized crime, street crime, radicalism, and terrorism, most of which were caused by uncontrolled illegal migration and the inability of the European bureaucracy to cut off the flows of illegal migrants, integrate non-radicalized people into European society, and detect all radicals and terrorists that infiltrate Europe with migrants.

The situation is further complicated by the conflict in Ukraine and the destruction of international security treaties, such as the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and its planned withdrawal from the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). These developments go amid constant military and political hysteria of micro-states and Poland instigated by the Euro-Atlantic elites. The EU bureaucracy is using this state of hysteria and ramping up speculations about a supposed military threat from Russia and an economic and political threat from China to distract the public and draw attention away from the real problems.

The return of Russia as the diplomatic and military great power to Africa marked a new round of the geo-economic standoff in the region. The apparent Russian-Chinese cooperation is steadily pushing French and British out of what they describe as their traditional sphere of influence. While, in terms of economic strength, Russia cannot compete with China, it does have a wide range of military and diplomatic means and measures with which to influence the region. So, Beijing and Moscow seem to have reached a non-public deal on a “division of labor”. China focuses on implementation of its economic projects, while Russia contributes military and diplomatic efforts to stabilize the security situation, obtaining revenue for its military and security assistance. Moscow plays a second violin role in getting these guaranteed zones of influence. Terrorism is one of the main threats to the region. The Chinese-Russian cooperation did not go without a response from their Western counterparts that justified their propaganda and diplomatic opposition to Beijing-Moscow cooperation by describing Chinese investments as “debt-traps” and the Russian military presence as “destabilizing”. In 2019, Africa entered into a new round of great powers rivalry.

The intensification of US “soft power” and meddling efforts, social, economic tensions, activities of non-state actors, and organized criminal networks became the main factors of instability in South America. Venezuela and Bolivia were targeted by US-backed coups. While the Venezuelan government, with help from China and Russia, succeeded in repelling the coup attempt, Bolivia was plunged into a violent civil conflict after the pro-US government seized power. Chile remained in a state of social economic crisis which repeatedly triggered wide-scale anti-government riots. Its pro-US government remained in power, mainly, because there was no foreign ‘democratic superpower’ to instigate the regime change campaign. Actions of the government of Colombia, one of the key US regional allies, undermined the existing peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and forced at least a part of the former FARC members to take up arms once again. If repressions, killings, and clandestine operations aimed at the FARC members committed to the peace continue, they may lead to a resumption of FARC-led guerrilla warfare against the central government. The crisis developing in Mexico is a result of the growth of the drug cartels-related violence and economic tensions with the United States. The right-wing Bolsonaro government put Brazil on track with the US foreign policy course to the extent that, the country worked with Washington against Venezuela, claiming that it should not turn into ‘another Cuba’. A deep economic crisis in Argentina opened the road to power for a new left-centric president, Alberto Fernandez. Washington considers South America as its own geopolitical backyard and sees any non pro-US, or just national-oriented government, as a threat to its vital interests. In 2020, the US meddling campaign will likely escalate and expand, throwing the region into a new round of instability and triggering an expected resistance from South American states. An example of this is the situation in Bolivia. Regardless of the actions of ousted President Evo Morales, the situation in the country will continue escalating. The inability of the pro-US government to deliver positive changes and its simultaneous actions to destroy all the economic achievements of the Morales period might cause Bolivia to descend into poverty and chaos causing unrest and possibly, a civil war.

During 2019, the world superpower, led by the administration of President Donald Trump, provided a consistent policy designed to defend the interests of US domestic industry and the United States as a national state by any means possible. This included economic and diplomatic pressure campaigns against both US geopolitical competitors and allies. The most widely known Trump administration move of this kind was the tariff war with China. However, at the same time, Washington contributed notable efforts in almost all regions around the globe. For example, the United States opposed Chinese economic projects in Africa, Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Europe, tried to limit exports of the Russian defense industry, pressured NATO member states who did not want to spend enough on defense, and proposed that US allies pay more for the honor and privilege of provided “protection”. Additionally, Trump pressured the Federal Reserve Board of Governors into lowering interest rates and announced plans to lower interest rates even further to weaken the dollar in order to boost national industry and increase its product availability on the global market. These plans caused strong resistance from international corporations and global capitalists because this move may undermine the current global financial system based upon a strong US dollar. This straightforward approach demonstrated that Trump and his team were ready to do everything needed to protect US security and economic interests as they see them. Meanwhile, it alienated some “traditional allies”, as in the case of Turkey which decided to acquire Russian S-400s, and escalated the conflict between the Trump Administration and the globalists. The expected US GDP growth in 2019 is 2.2%. The expected production growth of 3.9% reflects the policy aimed at supporting the real sector. In terms of foreign policy, the White House attempted to rationalize US military presence in conflict zones around the world. Despite this, the unprecedented level of support to Israel, confrontation with Iran, China, and Russia, militarization of Europe, coups and meddling into the internal affairs of sovereign states remain as the main markers of US foreign policy. Nevertheless, the main threat to United States stability originates not from Iranians, Russians, or Chinese, but rather from internal issues. The constant hysteria in mainstream media, the attempt to impeach Donald Trump, and the radicalization of different social and political groups contributes to destabilization of the country ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The year 2019 was marked by a number of dangerous developments. In spite of this, it could have been much more dangerous and violent. Political leadership by key actors demonstrated their conditional wisdom by avoiding a number of open military conflicts, all of which had chances to erupt in the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, South America, and even Europe. A new war in the Persian Gulf, US military conflict with North Korea, an India-Pakistan war -none of these were started.  A peaceful transfer of power from Petro Poroshenko to Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine allowed for the avoidance of a military escalation in eastern Europe. China and the United States showed their restraint despite tensions in the Asia-Pacific, including the Hong Kong issue. A new global economic crisis, expected for some time by many experts, did not happen. The lack of global economic shocks or new regional wars in 2019 does not mean that knots straining relations among leading world powers were loosened or solved. These knots will remain a constant source of tension on the international level until they are removed within the framework of diplomatic mechanisms or cut as a result of a large military conflict or a series of smaller military conflicts.

Chances seem high that 2020 will become the year when a match will be set to the wick of the international powder keg, or that it will be the last relatively calm year in the first quarter of the 21st century. The collapse of international defense treaties and de-escalation mechanisms, as well as accumulating contradictions and conflicts among world nations give rise to an especial concern.

WESTERN LEADERS, SCREW YOUR ‘SANCTIONS TARGET THE REGIME’ BLATHER: SANCTIONS KILL PEOPLE

December 16, 2019, RT.com

-by Eva Bartlett

The US has a favourite tool for bullying non-compliant nations: sanctions. Sanctions inflict considerable suffering, even death, on ordinary people in targeted nations. Yet those defiant nations persist and resist.

A recent opinion piece in the Washington Post proposing a new oil-for-food scheme, this time in Venezuela, surprisingly acknowledges that sanctions “can also end up harming the people that they intend to protect.”

Okay, first off, we know there is no intention of “protecting” civilians in any of the countless countries targeted by Western sanctions. Do Western talking heads really think we’ve forgotten the half-a-million dead Iraqi children, thanks to US sanctions?

Yet, ask a Western leader about crippling sanctions placed on nations which don’t bow to Imperial demands and you’ll be met with some nonsensical explanation that sanctions only target ‘regimes’ and ‘terrorists,’ not the people.

I’ve lived in, spent considerable time in, or visited areas under sanctions and siege, and I’ve seen first hand how sanctions are a form of terrorism, choking civilians, depriving them of basic and urgent medical care, food, employment, and travel entitlements that many of us in Western nations take for granted.

When I was in Syria last October, a man told me his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but because of the sanctions he couldn’t get her the conventional treatments most in the West would avail of.

In 2016, in Aleppo, before it was liberated of al-Qaeda and co, Dr. Nabil Antaki told me how –because of the sanctions– it had taken him well over a year to get a simple part for his gastroenterology practise.

In 2015, visiting Damascus’ University Hospital, where bed after bed was occupied by a child maimed by terrorists’ shelling (from Ghouta), a nurse told me:

We have so many difficulties to ensure that we have antibiotics, specialized medicines, maintenance of the equipment… Because of the sanctions, many parts are not available, we have difficulties obtaining them.

Visiting a prosthetic limbs factory in Damascus in 2016, I was told that, due to the sanctions, smart technology and 3D scanners –used to determine the exact location where a limb should be fixed– were not available. Considering the over eight years of war and terrorism in Syria, there are untold numbers of civilians and soldiers in need of this technology to simply get a prosthetic limb fixed so they can get on with their lives. But no, America’s concern for the Syrian people means that this, too, is near impossible.

In 2018, Syria’s minister of health told me Syria had formerly been dubbed by the World Health Organization a “pioneer state” in providing health care.

“Syria had 60 pharmaceutical factories and was exporting medicine to 58 countries. Now, 16 of these factories are out of service. Terrorists partially or fully destroyed 46 hospitals and 620 medical centres.”

I asked the minister about the complex in Barzeh, targeted with missile strikes by the US and allies in April 2018. Turns out it was part of the Ministry of Health, and manufactured cancer treatment medications, as well as antidotes for snake or scorpion bites/stings, the antidote also serving as a basic material in the manufacture of many medicines.

[READ: Caught in a lie, US & allies bomb Syria the night before international inspectors arrive ]

Last year, Syrian-American doctor Hussam al-Samman told me about his efforts to send to Syria chemotherapy medications for cancer patients in remission. He jumped through various hoops of America’s unforgiving bureaucracy, to no avail. It was never possible in the first place.

“We managed to get a meeting in the White House. We met Rob Malley, a top-notch assistant or adviser of Obama at that time. I asked them: ‘How in the world could your heart let you block chemotherapy from going to people with cancer in Syria?’They said: ‘We will not allow Bashar al-Assad to have anything that will make people love him. We will not support anything that will help Bashar al-Assad look good’.”

Fast forward to the present: in spite of the sanctions, or precisely because of the sanctions, Syria recently opened its first anti-cancer drugs factory. President Assad is, again, looking rather good to Syrians.

UN expert: Sanctions on Venezuela “a form of terrorism”

Alfred de Zayas, the human rights lawyer and former UN official, aptly calls sanctions a form of terrorism, “because they invariably impact, directly or indirectly, the poor and vulnerable.

Earlier this year, The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated 40,000 deaths had occurred due to sanctions in 2017-2018.

While in Venezuela in March this year, I spoke with people from poor communities about the effects of sanctions. Most I met were very well aware of the US economic war against their country, and rallied alongside their government.[READ: US is manufacturing a crisis in Venezuela so that there is chaos and ‘needed’ intervention][READ: Venezuela isn’t Syria… but America’s war tactics are the same ]

One woman told me:

“If you don’t have water, don’t have electricity, the basics, how would you feel, as a mother? This makes some of the population, that doesn’t understand about the sanctions, blame the government.”

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, said during that visit:

“We told [American diplomat and Trump envoy] Mr Elliott Abrams, ‘the coup has failed, so now what are you going to do?’ He kind-of nodded and said, ‘Well, this is going to be a long-term action, then, and we are looking forward to the collapse of your economy.’”Indeed, that collapse would come about precisely due to the immoral US sanctions against the Venezuelan people.

North Korean Youth: Sanction the USA

After visiting Korea’s north in August 2017, in a photo essay I noted:

“The criminal sanctions against the North, enforced since 1950, making even more difficult the efforts to rebuild following decimation. The sanctions are against the people, affecting all sectors of life.”[READ: Photo-Report: The North Korea Neither Trump Nor Western Media Wants The World To See]And although most I met there were proud of their country’s achievements in spite of the sanctions, they were also vocal about the injustice of being bombed to near decimation and then sanctioned.

In a Pyongyang Middle School, to my questions about the sanctions, a girl replied:

The sanctions are not fair, our people have done nothing wrong to the USA.

Another boy spoke of the silence around America’s use of nuclear bombs on civilians:

Why do people all over the world give us sanctions? Why can’t we put sanctions on the US?

5df75c9685f5407f827bf153

Dr. Kim Un-Song: “The sanctions are inhumane and against human rights.” © Eva Bartlett

At the Okryu Children’s Hospital, Doctor Kim Un-Song said: “As a mother, I feel extremely angry at the sanctions against the DPRK, even blocking medicine and instruments for children. This is inhumane and against human rights.

As with Syria, sanctions on the DPRK prevent further entry to Korea of hospital machinery, as well as replacement parts.

Defying the sanctions

In spite of draconian sanctions, Syria, the DPRK and Venezuela continue to resist. After fighting international terrorism since 2011, Syria is rebuilding in liberated areas. That process could proceed more quickly were sanctions lifted, making it easier for companies outside of Syria to invest. 

But Syria is managing, with its allies’ support, including that of North Korea, and due to the steadfastness of the heroic Syrian people, and its leadership. 

REB

Link to tweet: https://twitter.com/SyriaRebuilt/status/1205149675747205120

Likewise, Venezuela and North Korea, facing America’s economic war and endless propagandistic rhetoric, continue to resist.

jorge

Link to tweet: https://twitter.com/jaarreaza/status/1204209014625783810

In each of these countries, I’ve met well-informed people who are fighting the sadism of the sanctions, and who are determined to remain free of US tyranny.


Trump and Tehran Shake Up the Middle East الانسحاب الأميركي من سورية والهجوم على أرامكو.. ترامب وطهران يهزّان المنطقة

Smoke rising from the Abqaiq oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia after it was attacked in September.

Smoke rising from the Abqaiq oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia after it was attacked in September.CreditCreditPlanet Labs Inc., via Associated Press

Iran’s airstrike on Saudi oil sites exposed vulnerabilities around the region.

By 

Opinion Columnist

 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it bizarre that the Republican leadership is (rightly) going nuts over President Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds in Syria while it’s ignoring his betrayal of the U.S. Constitution at home. If only Lindsey Graham & Co. were as eager to defend our democracy as they are the Kurds. But I digress.

If you think Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria will make the Middle East more explosive, you’re correct. But there’s far more going on. Those troops were also interrupting Iran’s efforts to build a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut to tighten a noose around Israel — and their removal could help bring the Iran-Israel shadow war out into the open. This is the really big story in the Middle East today.

Here’s the background: In the early hours of Sept. 14, the Iranian Air Force launched roughly 20 drones and cruise missiles at one of Saudi Arabia’s most important oil fields and processing facilities. The drones and cruise missiles flew so low and with such stealth that neither their takeoff nor their impending attack was detected in time by Saudi or U.S. radar. The pro-Iranian Houthi militia in Yemen claimed responsibility for the raid. That was as believable as saying that Santa Claus did it.

Some Israeli strategists argue that this surprise attack was the Middle East’s “Pearl Harbor.” An exaggeration? Maybe not.

“Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.”

Every country is now recalculating its security strategy, starting with Israel. Consider how Uzi Even, one of the founding scientists of Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, assessed the Iranian strike.

“A total of 20 cruise missiles and drones were used in the attack,” Even wrote in Haaretz on Sunday. “Drone wreckage discovered in Saudi Arabia shows that the Iranians are manufacturing and operating drones so advanced (with jet engines and significant stealth capabilities) that they do not lag behind Israeli capabilities in this field. Seventeen targets incurred a direct hit in this concentrated bombardment. Considering the 20 projectiles whose debris was found at the attack site, that’s an 85-percent success rate, which indicates the very high capability and reliability of the technology that was used.”

Photos of the aftermath, Even added,

“show the precision that was achieved in the attack. Each one of the spherical gas tankers in the picture was hit in the center. The pictures also show that the strike precision was one meter. … The Iranians, or their proxies, showed that they can hit specific targets with great precision and from a distance of hundreds of kilometers. We have to accept the fact that we are now vulnerable to such a strike.”

Even’s conclusion: Operations at Israel’s “Dimona nuclear reactor should be halted. It has now been shown to be vulnerable, and the harm it could cause would likely exceed its benefits.”

Not a bad day’s work for Iran — and Israel wasn’t even the target. Now let’s look at the Arabs. The Saudis and the United Arab Emirates got a double shock from the Iranian attack. It simultaneously exposed Iran’s precision and Donald Trump’s isolationism.

It had to have been quite the cold shower for the Saudis to call Washington to discuss what the U.S. planned as a strategic response only to discover that our president was busy looking for the cellphone number of Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, to see if he could cut the same deal with him that he did with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un: Give me a photo-op handshake, and we can do business.

Translated into Arabic, Trump was saying to the Gulf Arabs: “I forgot to tell you. I’m only interested in selling you our weapons — not using them in your defense. But don’t forget to stay in my hotel when you’re next in D.C.! Operators are standing by.”

The Saudis and the U.A.E. got the message. They, too, got busy looking for the Iranian leader’s cellphone number — and the number of the pro-Iranian emir of Qatar, too. Time to get right with all the neighbors.

This, in turn, has fractured the tacit U.S.-Sunni Arab-Israel anti-Iran coalition and left Israel feeling more alone than ever to deal with Iran — and its proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Because Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel also got a double dose of Trump reality. After Netanyahu did poorly in the recent Israeli election, Bibi learned how much Trump doesn’t like losers. When asked about Bibi after the Israeli election, Trump said coolly that he hadn’t spoken to him — “our relationship is with Israel.”

President Trump has cooled on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the Israeli election. CreditRonen Zvulun/Reuters

Translated into Hebrew, Trump was saying: “Bibi? Bibi? I once knew a guy who owned a deli at Lexington and 55th named Bibi.”أكتوبر 11, 2019

And then, after the Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia, Trump declared that when it comes to a war with Iran, “we’d certainly like to avoid it.” Again, translated into Hebrew:

“America is happy to keep oil sanctions on Iran, but it is not going to partner with Israel and the Sunni Arabs to create regime change there or militarily destroy Iran’s capabilities.”

Bibi had completely misread Trump’s mind-set, which was: “We’re awash in oil and gas. We’re not fighting anyone’s wars in the Middle East.” The Iranians don’t even have an embassy in Washington. But they read Trump perfectly.

Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.

The Gulf Arabs can and will find a way to buy off the Iranians. Israel can’t. Israel has a real Iran problem. Beware.

Iran’s is an awful regime. The ruling clerics have deprived at least two generations of young Iranians the freedom and tools to realize their full potential — one reason that a brain drain and drug addiction are rampant among Iranian youth.

While Iran’s people “aspire to be like South Korea — and they have the talent to be that — Iran’s hard-line leadership prefers to rule like North Korea,” observed Karim Sadjadpour, Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment.

So Iran’s Islamic revolutionaries need constant conflict with America and Israel to justify their ruthless internal repression. But Iran is heir to a great civilization. Even with its brain drain, it’s still got lots of real scientific talent.

توماس فريدمان

أنا متأكد من أنني لست الشخص الوحيد الذي يجد أنه من الغريب أن القيادة الجمهورية تتجاهل خيانة الرئيس ترامب للأكراد في سورية، رغم كونها محقة في ذلك التجاهل، لكنها تتجاهل خيانته للدستور الأميركي في الداخل بغير حق، ويا حبذا لو كان ليندسي جراهام وشركاه فقط متحمّسين للدفاع عن ديمقراطيتنا مثل دفاعهم عن الأكراد.

لكن تعالوا لندقق.

إذا كنت تعتقد أن سحب ترامب للقوات الأميركية من سورية سيجعل الشرق الأوسط أكثر تفجراً، فأنت على حق، لكن هناك الكثير مما يحدث. فهذه القوات كانت تحاول عرقلة جهود إيران لبناء جسر بري من طهران إلى بيروت يهدف لتشديد الخناق حول إسرائيل ، وسحبها يمكن أن يساعد في تسريع إطلاق حرب الظل بين إيران و إسرائيل . وهذه هي القصة الكبيرة حقاً في الشرق الأوسط اليوم.

إليكم الخلفية: في الساعات الأولى من يوم 14 سبتمبر، أطلق سلاح الجو الإيراني حوالي 20 طائرة وصواريخ كروز على واحد من أهم حقول النفط ومنشآت المعالجة في المملكة العربية السعودية، طارت الطائرات بدون طيار وصواريخ كروز منخفضة للغاية وبطريقة الأشباح لدرجة أنه لم يتم اكتشاف إقلاعها أو هجومها الوشيك في الوقت المناسب من قبل الرادار السعودي أو الأميركي. أعلنت ميليشيا الحوثي الموالية لإيران في اليمن مسؤوليتها عن الغارة. كان ذلك معقولاً مثل قول إن بابا نويل فعل ذلك أيضاً، لكن التفصيل هنا حول من فعلها لم يعد مهماً.

يجادل بعض الاستراتيجيين الإسرائيليين أن هذا الهجوم المفاجئ كان «ميناء بيرل هاربر» في الشرق الأوسط، وهو الهجوم الياباني الذي صدم أميركا وفاجأها ودخلت الحرب العالمية الثانية بعده، ربما نعم وربما لا.

أي شخص في إيران توصل إلى فكرة هذه الضربة الجوية الجريئة حصل على التهنئة والترقية، إذ لا يمكن تخيّل القيام بالعمل بشكل أفضل، لأن الصوت الذي تسمعه يصدر من كل عاصمة عربية و إسرائيل هو الصوت نفسه الذي تسمعه من مساعد القيادة الآلي عندما تنحرف سيارتك فجأة عن المسار المحدد:

إعادة الحساب، إعادة الحساب، إعادة الحساب.»

تقوم كل دولة الآن بإعادة حساب استراتيجيتها الأمنية، بدءاً بـ إسرائيل . تأمل كيف قام عوزي إيفين، أحد العلماء المؤسسين لمفاعل ديمونا النووي الإسرائيلي، بتقييم الضربة الإيرانية داعياً إلى الإسراع بإقفال المفاعل بعدما صارت فوائده أقلّ من درجة المخاطر التي يجلبها.

وكتبت صحيفة «هآرتس» يوم الأحد: «تم استخدام ما مجموعه 20 صاروخًا وطائرة بدون طيار في الهجوم». و»حطام الطائرة بدون طيار المكتشفة في المملكة العربية السعودية يُظهر أن الإيرانيين يصنعون ويديرون طائرات بدون طيار متطوّرة للغاية مع محركات نفاثة وقدرات تسلل وتشويش راداريّ كبيرة لدرجة أنهم لا يتخلفون عن القدرات الإسرائيلية في هذا المجال، سبعة عشر هدفًا تلقت ضربة مباشرة في هذا القصف المركز، بالنظر إلى المقذوفات العشرين التي تم العثور على حطامها في موقع الهجوم، فإن ذلك يمثل نسبة نجاح تبلغ 85 بالمئة، مما يشير إلى القدرة العالية والموثوقية العالية للتكنولوجيا التي تم استخدامها. «

نشر في نيويورك تايمز يوم 10-10-2019.

DONALD TRUMP: ‘FUTURE BELONGS TO PATRIOTS NOT GLOBALISTS’

Donald Trump: 'Future Belongs To Patriots Not Globalists'

South Front

On September 24, US President Donald Trump made his third address to the United Nations. Many said that the adress was ‘ordinary’ for Trump. Some parts of the adress are inspiring, while others raise concerns.

Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly (full transcript):

Madam President, Mr. Secretary General, world leaders, ambassadors, and distinguished delegates:

One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity. Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we have made.

In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America is so thrilled. [Laughter] I did not expect that reaction, but that’s okay. [Applause] America’s economy is booming like never before. Since my election, we have added $10 trillion in wealth. The stock market is at an all-time high in history, and jobless claims are at a 50-year low.

Comment: Mr. Trump is right and his ill-wishers cannot deny this. It is important to note that the successes of the US economy took place amid the decline of the global economy. The economic strategy of the Trump administration was designed to support the US national industry and demonstrated own effectiveness. The US nation is lucky that in the current condition the US leader is patriot Trump rather than some creature of the global capital.

African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have all achieved their lowest levels ever recorded. We have added more than 4 million new jobs, including half a million manufacturing jobs. We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We have started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security. We have secured record funding for our military, $700 billion this year and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before. In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago. We are standing up for America and the American people.

We are also standing up for the world. This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace. Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth. That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination. I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

Comment: Since the very start of the presidency, Mr. Trump has demonstrated that for him such words are not just a colorful rhetoric needed to cover destructive US actions towards other states. However, the life is not rainbows and unicorns. Washington has been demonstrating double standards in its foreign policy for a very long time.

From Warsaw to Brussels to Tokyo to Singapore, it has been my highest honor to represent the United States abroad. I have forged close relationships and friendships and strong partnerships with the leaders of many nations in this room.

Our approach has always yielded incredible change. With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace. In June, I traveled to Singapore to meet face-to-face with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. We had highly productive conversations and meetings. We agreed that it was in both countries’ interest to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Since that meeting, we have seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined a short time ago. The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped. Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released. And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home, to lay at rest in American soil. I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs. I also want to thank the many member states who helped us reach this moment, a moment that is actually far greater than people would understand—far great. But for, also, their support and the critical support that we will all need going forward, a special thanks for President Moon of South Korea, the Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and President Xi of China.

In the Middle East, our new approach is yielding great strides and very historic change. Following my trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing. They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen, and they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war.

Ultimately, it is up to the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children. For that reason, the United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a regional strategic alliance so that Middle Eastern nations can advance prosperity, stability, and security across their home region.

Comment: These remarks once again demonstrate that the US president is supporter of the traditional system of the international relations. At the same time, the colorful phrase about the right of “the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children” is used to hide anti-Iranian intentions and efforts to create and strengthen an anti-Iranian coalition that would include Jordan and Egypt. The goal of this coalition would be to counter Iranian influence and in some cases even to meddle the Iranian internal political situation.

Thanks to the United States military, and our partnership with many of your nations, I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as isis have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria. We will continue to work with friends and allies to deny radical Islamic terrorists funding, territory, or support or any means of infiltrating our borders.

The ongoing tragedy in Syria is heartbreaking. Our shared goals must be the de-escalation of military conflict along with a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. In this vein, we urge the United Nations–led peace process to be reinvigorated. But rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime.

Comment: Mr. Trump demonstrates a dramatic shift of the US position towards the conflict in Syria. He does not repeat the ‘Assad must go’ mantra and says that the conflict should be settled through “political solutions”. The President also avoids to mention the supposed US support to the Syrian opposition. Even, the cornerstone of the US public agenda in the Syrian conflict, “chemical weapons”, is used just as a warning in for the case if such weapons “are deployed”. This stance is in contrary to the stance of the Obama administration and the Trump administration during its first two years.

I commend the people of Jordan and other neighboring countries for hosting refugees from this very brutal civil war. As we see in Jordan, the most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible, to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process. This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.

Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that is fueled and financed in the corrupt dictatorship in Iran. Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from Iran’s treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war. Not good. Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the regime’s agenda of aggression and expansion. That is why so many countries in the Middle East strongly supported my decision to withdraw the United States from the horrible 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose nuclear sanctions.

The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders. In the year since the deal has been reached, the military budget grew nearly 40 percent. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen. The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda. Last month, we began reimposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that have been lifted under the Iran deal. Additional sanctions will resume November 5, and more will follow. We are working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially. We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America” and that threatens Israel with annihilation to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth. We just cannot do it. We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues, and we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.

This year, we took another significant step forward in the Middle East in recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital. I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts. America’s policy of principled realism means that we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong, over the years, time and time again.

Comment: These remarks were expected. They were based on Trump’s vision of Israel as the key US ally in the Middle east. However, attempts to link the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem with the commitment to the “future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians” are surprising. It is unclear how the peace and stability could be achieved through these actions. Nonetheless, Trump once again demonstrated himself as the supporter of hard realpolitik principles and direct actions.

This is true, not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity. We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal. The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer. For decades, the United States opened its economy, the largest by far on Earth, with few conditions. We allowed foreign goods from all over the world to flow freely across our borders. Yet other countries did not grant us free and reciprocal access to their markets in return. Even worse, some countries abused their openness to dump their products, subsidize their goods, target our industries, and manipulate their currencies to gain unfair advantage over our country. As a result, our trade deficit ballooned to nearly $800 billion a year. For this reason, we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals. Last month, we announced a groundbreaking U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.

Comment: The strengthening of protectionism policies is generally consistent with Trump’s economic doctrine. Trump focuses on the revision of unfair, “broken and bad” trade deals. If Trump is re-elected, further protectionist measures in the field of the US foreign trade should be expected.

Just yesterday, I stood with President Moon to announce the successful completion of the brand-new U.S.-Korea trade deal. This is just the beginning. Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change. For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violate every single principle on which the organization is based.

Comment: The fact that the World Trade Organization does not work is an open secret. The organization de-facto does not pursues goals declared during its creation. Trump is right that the WTO violates “every single principle on which the organization is based.” It is important to note that the WTO gained its current form thanks to actions and policy of the previous US administrations, which were shaped by supporters of the globalists. These very powers were interested in the current state of the WTO. However, the US president that demonstrates different approaches, focusing on protectionism, the national economic development and the rationale nationalism, is not interested in such a state of the WTO.

While the United States and many other nations played by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor. They engaged in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property. The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China joined the WTO. We have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades.

But those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse. We will no longer allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens. The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods, for a total so far of $250 billion. I have great respect and affection for my friend President Xi, but I have made clear that our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.

As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interests. I spoke before this body last year and warned that the UN Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human-rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends. Our ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken. So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council and we will not return until real reform is enacted.

For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support and recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process.

Comment: Trump once again declares his vision of the United States as an independent sovereign state, which should be governed exclusively by the people of the United States through democratic procedures. He rejects the globalism and demonstrates that he is well aware of the nature and specifics of the processes that take place in a number of international bodies – for example, in the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. He names the forces that dominate these organizations – the global bureaucracy and the associated global capital – the globalists aiming to establish the so-called New World Order. Trump makes it clear that he is a fierce opponent of this concept.

WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER AMERICA’S SOVEREIGNTY TO AN UNELECTED, UNACCOUNTABLE GLOBAL BUREAUCRACY. AMERICA IS GOVERNED BY AMERICANS. WE REJECT THE IDEOLOGY OF GLOBALISM, AND WE EMBRACE THE DOCTRINE OF PATRIOTISM. AROUND THE WORLD, RESPONSIBLE NATIONS MUST DEFEND AGAINST THREATS TO SOVEREIGNTY NOT JUST FROM GLOBAL GOVERNANCE, BUT ALSO FROM NEW FORMS OF COERCION AND DOMINATION.

Comment: These words are the culmination and the very essence of the address. Globalists will not forgive this. The next US presidential race is expected to be even tenser than the previous one. Trump could be described as a controversial person. But in this very case, he seems to be an island of sanity and a clear vision surrounded by oligarchic clans advocating globalism and the New World Order.

In America, we believe in energy security for ourselves and for our allies. We have become the largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth. The United States stands ready to export our abundant, affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas. OPEC and OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices; we want them to start lowering prices. They must contribute substantially to military protection from now on. We are not going to put up with it, these horrible prices, much longer. Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation. That is why we congratulate European states such as Poland for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs. Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers. It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs. The United States has recently strengthened our laws to better screen foreign investments in our country for national-security threats. We welcome cooperation with countries in this region and around the world that wish to do the same. You need to do it for your own protection.

The United States is also working with partners in Latin America to confront threats to sovereignty from uncontrolled migration. Tolerance for human struggling and human smuggling and trafficking is not humane. It is a horrible thing that is going on, at levels that nobody has ever seen before. It is very, very cruel. Illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs. Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations and hurts hardworking citizens and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty. Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs can we break the cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity.

We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same, which we are doing. That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration. Migration should not be governed by an international body, unaccountable to our own citizens. Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.

Comment: Trump’s United States would continue demonstrate the rationale protectionism and isolationism and defend the right of the nation to decide what kind of future it wants for itself.

Currently, we are witnessing a human tragedy as an example in Venezuela. More than 2 million people have fled the anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors. Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on earth. Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty. Virtually everywhere, socialism or communism has been tried. It has produced suffering, corruption, and decay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone. In that spirit, we ask the nations gathered here to join us in calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela. Today, we are announcing additional sanctions against the repressive regime, targeting Maduro’s inner circle and close advisers.

We are grateful for all of the work the United Nations does around the world to help people build better lives for themselves and their families. The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world by far of foreign aid. But few give anything to us. That is why we are taking a hard look at U.S. foreign assistance. That will be headed up by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart. Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends. We expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.

The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable. I have said many times that the United Nations has unlimited potential. As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the UN peacekeeping budget.

Comment: The US president just mocked international bodies in his unique style. He declared support to their actions, but said that he would not give them money.

This will encourage other countries to step up, get involved, and also share in this very large burden. We are working to shift more of our funding from assessed contributions to voluntary so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success. Only when we each of us does our part and contributes our share can we realize the United Nations’ highest aspirations. We must pursue peace without fear, hope without despair, and security without apology.

Looking around this hall, where so much history has transpired, we think of the many before us who have come here to address the challenges of their nations and of their times. Our thoughts turn to the same question that ran through all of their speeches and resolutions, through every word and every hope. It is the question of, what kind of world will we leave for our children and what kind of nations they will inherit. The dreams that fill this hall today are as diverse as the people who have stood at this podium, and as varied as the countries represented right here, in this body, are. It really is something. It really is great, great history.

There is India, a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class. There is Saudi Arabia, where King Salman and the crown prince are pursuing bold new reforms. There is Israel, proudly celebrating its 70th anniversary as a thriving democracy in the Holy Land. In Poland, the great people are standing up for their independence, their security, and their sovereignty.

Comment: The list of ‘successful and democratic’ nations named by Mr. Trump is especially interesting and funny. He said that India is “a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class”. But he somehow forgot to mention that India is the state with one of the highest levels of social inequality. In fact, India is in the list because it’s the main regional competitor of China, the US is draining brains from the Indian nation, and India is a prospective market for the US industry, mainly the military industrial complex.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are the united Middle Eastern family of the traditional US allies. Their economies are incorporated into the US economy.

As to Poland, this state is currently one of the main political and economic competitors of Germany within the EU and thus the US ally. At the same time, Washington sees Poland as a deterrent force against Russia. Besides this, Poland has been acting as an agent working in interests of the Anglo-Saxon world in Europe.

Many countries are pursuing their own unique visions, building their own hopeful futures, and chasing their own wonderful dreams of destiny, of legacy, and of a home. The whole world is richer. Humanity is better because of this beautiful constellation of nations, each very special, each very unique, each shining brightly in its part of the world. In each one, we see also promise of a people bound together by a shared past and working toward a common future.

As for Americans, we know what kind of future we want for ourselves. We know what kind of a nation America must always be. In America, we believe in the majesty of freedom and the dignity of the individual. We believe in self-government and the rule of law. We prize the culture that sustains our liberty, a culture built on strong families, deep faith, and fierce independence. We celebrate our heroes, we treasure our traditions, and, above all, we love our country. Inside everyone in this great chamber today, and everyone listening all around the globe, there is the heart of a patriot that feels the same powerful love for your nation, the same intense loyalty to your homeland, the passion that burns in the hearts of patriots and the souls of nations has inspired reform and revolution, sacrifice and selflessness, scientific breakthroughs and magnificent works of art.

Our task is not to erase it, but to embrace it—to build with it, to draw on its ancient wisdom, and to find within it the will to make our nations greater, our regions safer, and the world better. To unleash this incredible potential in our people, we must defend the foundations that make it all possible. Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all. When we do, we will find new avenues for cooperation unfolding before us. We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us. We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.

Together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat. Let us come here to this place to stand for our people and their nations.

Comment: These are great words. Nonetheless, we kindly ask Mr. Trump to reveal the list of nations that would have a right able to achieve this “future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride”, according to his vision.

Forever strong, forever sovereign, forever just. Forever thankful for the grace and the goodness and the glory of God. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the nations of the world. Thank you very much.

***

In the end, it is also interesting to note that Mr. Trump has almost fully ignored the so-called ‘Russian threat’ in his address. He mentioned Russia once when talked about the US interests in the European energy market and the German-Russian relations. However, there was no criticism aimed against Russia in general. Furthermore, the US President fully ignored the Ukraine question demonstrating his real stance towards the conflict.

Over the past days, the Trump administration has sent signals that it is not going to fund Ukraine just because it’s allegedly engaged in the “war with Russia”. Furthermore, Washington demonstrates that it is not interested in the further escalation of the situation in the region.

بعد ثماني سنوات

بقلم د. بثينة شعبان

حين أخذت روسيا والصين أول فيتو مزدوج في مجلس الأمن في 4تشرين الأول2011 ضد المخططات العدوانية الغربية التي تستهدف سورية أرضاً وشعباً غصّ مكتبي بوسائل الإعلام العربية والأجنبية ليسألوني ما شعور القيادة السورية والشعب السوري تجاه هذا الفيتو غير المسبوق في مجلس الأمن.

وأتذكر أنني وبعد شكر الدولتين على موقفهما من سورية ودعمهما للشعب السوري قلت:

لقد تغيّر العالم اليوم، وأثر هذا الفيتو لا يخصّ سورية وحدها وإنما يخصّ العالم بأسره، لأنه الإشارة الأولى لانتهاء هيمنة القطب الواحد والانتقال إلى عالم متعدد الأقطاب، الأمر الذي تصبو إليه معظم شعوب العالم بعد أن عانت من الحروب الكارثية الأميركية.

واليوم وبعد ثماني سنوات تقريباً بالضبط، تستخدم كل من سورية والصين في مجلس الأمن في 19 أيلول 2019 حق الفيتو لإجهاض قرار مبني على الأكاذيب التي روّجها البعض في محاولة أخيرة ومستميتة منهم لحماية ما تبقى من فلول الإرهابيين في إدلب والذين يشكلون آخر ما لديهم من أدوات إرهابية من الخونة والمرتزقة الأجانب للاستمرار في استهداف الشعب السوري الذي تمكّن وبمساعدة الحلفاء والأصدقاء من إحباط كل مخططاتهم التي كلّفتهم المليارات، كما كلّفتهم سمعتهم وكشفت عن جوهر نواياهم العدوانية وحقيقة مقاصد سياساتهم الاستعمارية القائمة على النهب والحروب. أما اليوم وبعد ثماني سنوات من الفيتو الأول المزدوج فما مؤشرات السياسة الدولية وإلى أين تتجه الأمور؟

لقد استمرت الدول الاستعمارية الغربية خلال هذه السنوات بممارسة طرائقها الشيطانية المعروفة من إعلام كاذب ومغرض يقلب الحقائق رأساً على عقب، وبثّ روح الفتنة الطائفية لشق صفوف الشعوب في البلدان المستهدفة، أملاً منها بتفتيت هذه البلدان من الداخل مستخدمين الخونة وضعاف النفوس والوعي. وواكبت خطواتها هذه بفرض عقوبات مجرمة على الشعوب والبلدان تسببت في قتل مئات الآلاف من الأشخاص إما بسبب نقص الغذاء وإما الدواء أو الطاقة، غير آبهة بأي معاناة إنسانية في أي مكان. وكانت العقوبات والتهديدات السمتين الأساسيتين لهذه المرحلة مع استمرار استخدام العصابات الإرهابية المأجورة من الخونة والمرتزقة حيثما أمكن ذلك لتغيير ميزان القوى لصالحها.
ولكن ما النتيجة الحقيقية التي تزداد ثباتاً على الأرض يوماً بعد يوم بعيداً عن تهويل الأكاذيب الزائفة التي تصوغها مخابراتهم معتمدة على مخبريهم من المرتزقة الذين يقومون ببثها على أكبر مساحة في أكبر عدد من وسائل تواصل أصبحت مكشوفة للجميع؟ حقيقة الأمر هي أن هذه السنوات قد كشفت بما لا يقبل الشك حقيقة النظم الاستعمارية الغربية وأنها نظم تهدف أولاً وأخيراً إلى نهب ثروات الشعوب وخاصة النفط العربي، معتمدة على النظم النفطية المتهالكة حيث لا تقيم وزناً لهذه الشعوب ولا للحياة الإنسانية في أي مكان. فسقطت أقنعة ما أسموها «منظمات إنسانية» أو «حقوق إنسان» أو «أطباء بلا حدود» أو «الخوذ البيضاء»؛ لنكتشف أن معظم هذه المنظمات مجنّدة من قبل المخابرات الغربية، إما للتجسس على من هم في أماكن وجودها أو لجمع الأموال لتمويل الإرهاب. كما سقطت بشكل صارخ مقولة «الإعلام الحر» وأصبح واضحاً للجميع أن الإعلام الغربي يخدم دوائر صنع القرار السياسي والمخابراتي والأهداف التي ترسمها هذه الدوائر لزيادة ثروات النخبة الرأسمالية الحاكمة من خلال قمع الآخرين وفرض أقسى العقوبات عليهم، وفي هذا الصدد، والحق يقال، كانت الحرب على سورية أول كاشف لحقيقة هذا النظام الرأسمالي الغربي وأهدافه بعيداً عمّا يروّج له من أكاذيب. كما كان صمود الجيش العربي السوري بدعم من الحلفاء والأصدقاء والأشقاء وبمساعدة المواقف التي اتخذتها روسيا والصين في مجلس الأمن ملهماً للآخرين ومبرهناً على أن ما تخطط له الولايات المتحدة ليس قدراً، وأن الشعوب قادرة وبإمكانات ضئيلة على الانتصار على الباطل مهما كانت قوته وثرواته.

خلال الحرب على سورية أخذت كوريا الشمالية مواقف مهمة في مقارعة الولايات المتحدة وأثبتت أنها قوة لا يستهان بها. وخلال الحرب على سورية أخذت فنزويلا موقفاً جريئاً ومهماً من العقوبات الأميركية وتهديد الولايات المتحدة باجتياح فنزويلا وتغيير الحكم بها، وصمد الشعب الفنزويلي رغم العقوبات الظالمة والتهديدات المستمرة عليه. وفي الحين ذاته انسحبت الولايات المتحدة من الاتفاق النووي الإيراني مع ضجة إعلامية كبرى بأن هذا الانسحاب سينهي إيران وسيجعلها لقمة سائغة لمن يستهدفها من عملاء الولايات المتحدة. كما راهنوا على بثّ الفرقة بين أبناء الشعب الإيراني وسخّروا كل إمكاناتهم لهذا الهدف، ولكن أين هم الآن رغم كل العقوبات المجرمة التي اتخذوها بحق إيران والتي ولا شك سببت مصاعب جمة لكل الإيرانيين ولكنهم صمدوا وتفوقوا بإرادتهم وإصرارهم وكبريائهم على كلّ محاولات الغرب لخرق صفوفهم أو النيل من صمودهم.

اا حرب اليمن فقد ضربت مثلاً في صمود شعب فقير لا يملك إلا النزر اليسير، في وجه قوى مموّلة ومتغطرسة، وقلب هذا الشعب الأبيّ معادلة العدوان ليصبح هو الذي يحدد سير المعركة. ومع أن روسيا الاتحادية نالت نصيباً كبيراً من العقوبات الأميركية فقد استمرت بإثبات ذاتها على الساحتين الإقليمية والدولية كقطب لا يمكن تجاهل آرائه ومواقفه بعد اليوم. وبالتوازي؛ فإن كلاً من الصين وروسيا وإيران وسورية وفنزويلا واليمن والعراق وكوريا تنشر ثقافة العالم المتعدد الأقطاب وتبرهن للعالم مع كل مطلع شمس أن هذه العقوبات لن تؤثر في مسار الدول الرافضة للظلم والهيمنة، وأنها لا تزيد الذين يعانون منها إلا إصراراً، ليس على تجاوزها فقط وإنما على تجاوز النظم التي فرزتها وجعلت منها أداة لكسر إرادة الشعوب وفرض المسار الاستعماري عليها. اليوم وبعد سنوات ثمانٍ من أول فيتو مزدوج تأخذه روسيا والصين في مجلس الأمن، فقد النظام الاستعماري الغربي قدرته على إقناع أحد بالسير على خطاه كما فقد قدرته على إقناع العالم أنه قابل للعيش والاستمرار. اليوم البحث جار في دول كثيرة وعلى مستويات مختلفة عن صيغ ديمقراطية تناسب ثقافة وتاريخ الشعوب والبلدان ولا تمتّ إلى الليبرالية الغربية بصلة.

اليوم يتشكل العالم الجديد على أسس مختلفة عن تلك التي أمسك بها الغرب وفرضها على معظم دول العالم. اليوم بداية مسار تحرر للبلدان والشعوب، تحرر ليس فقط من الهيمنة العسكرية الغربية والنهب الاستعماري، وإنما تحرر من القرار الغربي ومن كلّ تمظهراته، بعد أن انكشف مرة وإلى الأبد بُعد هذا النظام عن المعيار الإنساني الحقيقي. اليوم لا يمكن للغرب أن يتحدث عن نفسه كما اعتاد منذ سنوات قليلة مدعياً أنه الأسرة الدولية، فالأسرة الدولية تتشكل في مكان آخر وعلى أسس وقيم مختلفة جذرياً عمّا اعتاد الغرب فرضه على العالم منذ عقود. لاشك لدي أننا وبعد سنوات قليلة سنكون قد اجتزنا جزءاً مهماً من الدرب الذي بدأ أول مؤشّر له في 4 تشرين الأول 2011.

 

   ( الاثنين 2019/09/23 SyriaNow)

Cynthia McKinney to ST: Peace has a chance only with a peace leader in national security adviser position or no one at all in it

ST

Wednesday, 11 September 2019 12:03

Former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has said that it might be better for the position of the national security adviser to remain vacant, hoping that President Donald Trump is about to begin to keep his campaign promises about the folly of the US fighting wars for Israel.

In a statement to the Syria times e-newspaper on the effect of the defenestration of John Bolton as President Trump’s third national security adviser, McKinney said: “Given the President’s poor staffing choices, it might be better for the position to remain vacant. Any appointment from the swamp will continue the same pro-Israel, warmongering, swamp policies.”

She believes that peace has a chance only with a peace leader in that position or no one at all in it.

“Even then, the Lobby for war spans both sides of the aisles, both Republicans and Democrats. I have repeatedly made suggestions for Trump of individuals who understand the swamp and are repulsed by what it is today,” she added.

Asked about the reason behind the defenestration of Bolton, McKinney replied:

“Bolton blew the President’s peace initiatives with North Korea, Syria, and Afghanistan. Let’s hope that the President is about to begin to keep his campaign promises about the folly of the US fighting wars for Israel.”

Yesterday, President Trump pushed out John R. Bolton, his third national security adviser.

Cynthia McKinney is an international peace and human rights activist, noted for her inconvenient truth-telling about the U.S. war machine. She was held for seven days in an Israeli prison after attempting to enter Gaza by sea and traveled to Libya during U.S. bombing and witnessed the crimes against humanity committed against that country’s people. In addition to Libya, she has traveled to Cuba, Syria, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and as she puts it:

“Wherever U.S. Bombs are dropping or U.S. sanctions are biting.”

She is the author or editor of three Clarity Press books: she has written one book Ain’t Nothing Like Freedom and edited The Illegal War On Libya and the 2018 book, How the U.S. Creates Sh*thole Countries.

In 1992, McKinney won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was the first African-American woman from Georgia in the U.S. Congress. She was the first Member of Congress to demand an investigation of the events of 9/11/2001. McKinney was criticized and as a result, she was defeated in 2002; however, she ran again and was re-elected in 2004.

In December 2008, Cynthia made international headlines when her boat was rammed by the Israeli military as she was attempting to deliver medical supplies to Gaza. In 2009, Cynthia attempted to reach Gaza again, this time armed with crayons, coloring books, and school supplies. Her boat was overtaken in international waters by the Israeli military and she was kidnapped to Israel where she spent 7 days in an Ramleh Prison. Finally, Cynthia entered Gaza by land in July 2009 with George Galloway’s Viva Palestina USA.

She has over 100,000 followers on FaceBook and more than 30,000 followers on Twitter who live in countries all over the world—from Argentina to Zimbabwe, according to Tweetsmap as of January 2019.

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

Bolton Gone: Improved Peace Prospects?

Image result for Bolton Gone: Improved Peace Prospects?

September 13, 2019
The departure of John Bolton as US National Security Adviser is a good step towards decreasing international tensions by the Trump administration. But a lot more is needed from President Donald Trump to indicate a serious pivot to normalizing relations with Russia, Iran and others.

When Trump gave Bolton his marching orders earlier this week, the president said he “strongly disagreed” with his erstwhile security adviser over a range of foreign policy issues. Trump had also expressed frustration with Bolton’s incorrigible militarist tendencies.

There is no doubt Bolton was an odious figure in the White House cabinet. One of our SCF authors, Martin Sieff, wrote this excoriating commentary on Bolton’s nefarious record of warmongering dating as far back as the launching of US wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, when the mustachioed maverick served then as a chief neocon ideologue in the GW Bush administration.

One wonders why Trump brought such a war hawk into his administration when he appointed Bolton as NSA in April 2018. Perhaps, as another of our writers, Robert Bridge, surmised in a separate commentary this week, Trump was using hardliner Bolton as a foil to deflect opponents from within the Washington establishment who have been trying to undermine the president as “soft on foreign enemies”. A ruse by Trump of keeping “your enemies close”, it is averred.

Bolton certainly did his best to hamper Trump’s seeming attempts at scaling back US foreign military interventions. He opposed the plan to withdraw American troops from Syria. The reckless Bolton also wound up a policy of aggression and regime change against Venezuela, which Trump has latterly seemed to grow wary of as a futile debacle.

In regard to Russia, Bolton carried heaps of Cold War baggage which made Trump’s declared intentions of normalizing relations with Moscow more difficult.

The shameless warmonger Bolton openly advocated for regime change in Iran, which seemed to contradict Trump’s oft-stated position of not seeking regime change in Tehran, despite the president’s own animosity towards Iran.

The former NSA also opposed any attempt by Trump to engage in detente with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Reportedly, it was Bolton who derailed the incipient efforts at opening up dialogue with Pyongyang.

It is also thought that Bolton used his influence to impede Trump’s recent bid to host Taliban leaders at Camp David earlier this month which was aimed at trust-building for a proposed peace deal to withdraw US troops from that country after nearly 18 years of disastrous war.

That said, however, President Trump has not shown himself to be exactly a dovish figure. He has overseen countless sanctions being imposed on Russia, the abandoning of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, and ongoing military support for the anti-Russia regime in Kiev.

Too, it was Trump who ordered the US collapse of the 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran in May 2018 and the re-imposition of harsh sanctions on Tehran. So, it would be misplaced to paint Bolton as the sole malign actor in the White House. Trump is personally responsible for aggravating tensions with Iran, as well as with Russia, Venezuela and others.

Nevertheless, it is to be welcomed that an inveterate war hawk like Bolton no longer has the president’s ear. Perhaps Trump can be freer to act on his instincts as a pragmatic deal-maker. One thing that the president deserves credit for is his unconventional style of engaging with nations and leaders who are designated as foes of America.

Russia this week gave a reserved response to the sacking of Bolton. The Kremlin said it would make assessments of a positive change in US policy based on actions, not mere announcements, such as the firing of Bolton. Time will tell.

It seems significant that immediately after Bolton was relieved of his post, Trump hinted to reporters that he was considering lifting sanctions off Iran if such a move persuaded Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to hold a face-to-face meeting with Trump at the United Nations general assembly in New York later this month.

Iran has repeatedly stated categorically that there will be no talks with Trump unless his administration revokes sanctions and returns to abiding by the nuclear accord. If there is a serious pivot to normal diplomacy by the White House, then what Trump does about sanctions on Iran will be a litmus test.

The same can be said about US sanctions on Russia. If Trump is earnest about a genuine reset in bilateral relations, then he must get rid of the raft of sanctions that Washington has piled on Moscow since the 2014 Ukraine crisis amid the many spurious allegations leveled against Russia.

Bolton banished is but a small step towards a more diplomatically engaged US administration. But it would be unwise to expect the departure of this one figure as being a portent for progress and a more peaceful policy emerging in Washington.

The Washington establishment, the deep state and the bipartisan War Party, with its entrenched Cold War ideology, seems to have an endemic sway over policy which may thwart Trump’s efforts to direct a less belligerent US.

To illustrate the twisted nature of the US establishment, one only had to read the way sections of the American corporate-controlled media lamented the departure of Bolton. The New York Times, which is a dutiful conduit for deep state intelligence and the foreign policy establishment, actually bemoaned the ouster of Bolton, calling him a “voice of restraint”.

The NY Times commented, with approval, on how Bolton “objected to attempts to pursue diplomatic avenues with players considered American enemies. And he angered Trump with a last-minute battle against a peace agreement with the Taliban… whether it was inviting the Taliban to Camp David or cooperating with Russia, he [Bolton] was the national security adviser who said no.”

In another piece this week, the NY Times commented, again approvingly of Bolton: “Mr Bolton strongly opposed detente with Iran, and his unceremonious ouster has reignited concerns among some Republicans [and Democrats] in Congress about the White House’s declining projection of American military power around the world.”

Can you believe it? The so-called US “newspaper of record” is somehow valorizing an out-and-out warmonger in the form of Bolton, and appears to be advocating “projection of American military power around the world”. The latter phrase being but an Orwellian euphemism for imperialism and war.

The sobering conclusion is that Bolton’s departure hardly heralds a new beginning of diplomacy and engagement by Trump, if we assume to give this president the benefit of doubt for good intentions. Bolton may be gone, but there are formidable political forces in the US establishment which will work to ensure Trump’s room for maneuver remains heavily compressed. The Cold War ideology is so ingrained in Washington, it is much bigger than just one man, whether that is the vile personage of Bolton or the more flexible Trump.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Trump: Bolton Was «Way Out Of Line» On Venezuela

Trump: Bolton Was «Way Out Of Line» On Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

Speaking for the first time about reasons for firing his national security advisor John Bolton, US President Donald Trump said he was “way out of line” on Venezuela, even as the State Department doubled down on regime change.

“I disagreed with John Bolton on his attitudes about Venezuela. I thought he was way out of line,” Trump told reporters at the Oval Office on Wednesday.

The failed attempt to effect regime change in Caracas – which Bolton has been at the forefront of since January – was only one of the issues the president brought up. Bolton’s sabotage of denuclearization talks with North Korea, earlier this year, was another.

“We were set back very badly when [Bolton] talked about the Libyan model” with North Korea, Trump added. “That’s not a question of being tough, that’s a question of being not smart to say something like that.”

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to give up his nuclear and chemical weapons programs to the US, only to be violently overthrown and murdered by US-backed groups in 2011.

Bolton also “wasn’t getting along with the people in the administration that I consider very important,” Trump added, making sure to point out that he had opposed the 2003 Iraq War while Bolton was an unapologetic advocate of it.

None of that explains why Trump hired Bolton and kept him on as his principal foreign policy adviser for nearly 18 months, however. Nor does it explain why Trump agreed to appoint Bolton’s colleague Elliott Abrams as Washington’s point man on Venezuela, despite a history of his Trump-bashing public comments.

The Trump administration on Wednesday showed no signs of abandoning the approach to Caracas championed by Bolton and Abrams since January, despite it having failed miserably. Shortly after Trump’s comments, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US has invoked the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which would give legal framework for military intervention in Venezuela.

Pompeo’s pretext is that this was requested by Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela recognized by the US and a handful of its allies, but no one else in the world. Guaido’s repeated attempts to take over power in Caracas since January have failed miserably.

Trump maintained that his policy on Venezuela is “humanitarian” and designed to “help” people there, and blamed “socialism” for the country’s economic woes. He has framed his 2020 re-election bid as stopping the “socialist” Democrats from taking over the US.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Trump said when asked if he would be willing to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. This was in stark contrast to his readiness to meet with the Iranian president, another thing Bolton reportedly opposed.

Related Videos

Related Articles

The U.S. has the best Congress and White House that money can buy

Philip Giraldi
August 8, 2019

Think tanks sprout like weeds in Washington. The latest is the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which is engaged in a pre-launch launch and is attracting some media coverage all across the political spectrum. The Institute is named after the sixth US President John Quincy Adams, who famously made a speech while Secretary of State in which he cautioned that while the United States of America would always be sympathetic to the attempts of other countries to fight against dominance by the imperial European powers, “she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

The Quincy Institute self-defines as a foundation dedicated to a responsible and restrained foreign policy with the stated intention of “mov[ing] US foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.” It is seeking to fund an annual budget of $5-6 million, enough to employ twenty or more staffers.

The Quincy Institute claims correctly that many of the other organizations dealing with national security and international affairs inside the Beltway are either agenda driven or neoconservative dominated, often meaning that they in practice support serial interventionism, sometimes including broad tolerance or even encouragement of war as a first option when dealing with adversaries. These are policies that are currently playing out unsuccessfully vis-à-vis Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea.

The Quincies promise to be different in an attempt to change the Washington foreign policy consensus, which some have referred to as the Blob, and they have indeed collected a very respectable group of genuine “realist” experts and thoughtful pundits, including Professor Andrew Bacevich, National Iranian American Council founder Trita Parsi and investigative journalist Jim Lobe. But the truly interesting aspect of their organization is its funding. Its most prominent contributors are left of center George Soros and right of center and libertarian leaning Charles Koch. That is what is attracting the attention coming from media outlets like The Nation on the progressive side and Foreign Policy from the conservatives. That donors will demand their pound of flesh is precisely the problem with the Quincy vision as money drives the political process in the United States while also fueling the Establishment’s military-industrial-congressional complex that dominates the national security/foreign policy discussion.

There will be inevitably considerable ideological space between people who are progressive-antiwar and those who call themselves “realists” that will have to be carefully bridged lest the group begin to break down in squabbling over “principles.” Some progressives of the Barack Obama variety will almost certainly push for the inclusion of Samantha Power R2P types who will use abuses in foreign countries to argue for the US continuing to play a “policeman for the world” role on humanitarian grounds. And there will inevitably be major issues that Quincy will be afraid to confront, including the significant role played by Israel and its friends in driving America’s interventionist foreign policy.

Nevertheless, the Quincy Institute is certainly correct in its assessment that there is significant war-weariness among the American public, particularly among returning veterans, and there is considerable sentiment supporting a White House change of course in its national security policy. But it errs in thinking that America’s corrupted legislators will respond at any point prior to their beginning to fail in reelection bids based on that issue, which has to be considered unlikely. Witness the current Democratic Party debates in which Tulsi Gabbard is the only candidate who is even daring to talk about America’s disastrous and endless wars, suggesting that the Blob assessment that the issue is relatively unimportant may be correct.

Money talks. Where else in the developed world but the United States can a multi-billionaire like Sheldon Adelson legally and in the open spend a few tens of millions of dollars, which is for him pocket change, to effectively buy an entire political party on behalf of a foreign nation? What will the Quincies do when George Soros, notorious for his sometimes disastrous support of so-called humanitarian “regime change” intervention to expand “democracy movements” as part his vision of a liberal world order, calls up the Executive Director and suggests that he would like to see a little more pushing of whatever is needed to build democracy in Belarus? Soros, who has doubled his spending for political action in this election cycle, is not doing so for altruistic reasons. And he might reasonably argue that one of the four major projects planned by the Quincy Institute, headed by investigative journalist Eli Clifton, is called “Democratizing Foreign Policy.”

Why are US militarism and interventionism important issues? They are beyond important – and would be better described as potentially life or death both for the United States and for the many nations with which it interacts. And there is also the price to pay by every American domestically, with the terrible and unnecessary waste of national resources as well human capital driving American ever deeper into a hole that it might never be able to emerge from.

As Quincy is the newcomer on K Street, it is important to recognize what the plethora of foundations and institutes in Washington actually do in any given week. To be sure, they produce a steady stream of white papers, press releases, and op-eds that normally only their partisan supporters bother to read or consider. They buttonhole and talk to congressmen or staffers whenever they can, most often the staffers. And the only ones really listening among legislators are the ones who are finding what they hear congenial and useful for establishing a credible framework for policy decisions that have nothing to do with the strengths of the arguments being made or “realism.” The only realism for a congress-critter in the heartland is having a defense plant providing jobs in his district.

And, to be sure, the institutes and foundations also have a more visible public presence. Every day somewhere in Washington there are numerous panel discussions and meetings debating the issues deemed to be of critical importance. The gatherings are attended primarily by the already converted, are rarely reported in any of the mainstream media, and they exist not to explain or resolve issues but rather to make sure their constituents continue to regard the participants as respectable, responsible and effective so as not to interrupt the flow of donor money.

US foreign policy largely operates within narrow limits that are essentially defined by powerful and very well-funded interest groups like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Hudson Institute, the Brookings Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), but the real lobbying of Congress and the White House on those issues takes place out of sight, not in public gatherings, and it is backed up by money. AIPAC, for example, alone spends more than $80 million dollars per year and has 200 employees.

So, the Quincy Institute intention to broaden the discussion of the current foreign policy to include opponents and critics of interventionism should be welcomed with some caveats. It is a wonderful idea already explored by others but nevertheless pretty much yet another shot in the dark that will accomplish little or nothing beyond providing jobs for some college kids and feel good moments for the anointed inner circle. And the shot itself is aimed in the wrong direction. The real issue is not foreign policy per se at all. It is getting the corrupting force of enormous quantities of PAC money completely removed from American politics. America has the best Congress and White House that anyone’s money can buy. The Quincy Institute’s call for restraint in foreign policy, for all its earnestness, will not change that bit of “realism” one bit.

Iran or the fight for the strategic initiative

Iran or the fight for the strategic initiative

by Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog

In the actual strategic situation, we can observe a dynamic equilibrium between the two main forces. On the one hand, we have the USA with its allies, on the other side, there are China, Russia and some important other countries.

The side of the USA is the descending power, which has dominated the planet for a long period. It has a considerable economic and military strength and its culture has still a dominating position. However, around the beginning of 2019, the side of the USA has lost its status of being in the phase of the strategic offensive, which has lasted at least 75 years. This marks a huge change of the situation in the world. Some reasons for this change are the following: the ascension of China during the last 40 years; the renaissance of a reasonable politics, based on the defence of the national interests, in Russia; the election of Trump in 2016 which has provoked a deep crisis in the USA and in the West in general. The most important element however, in my eyes, is the awakening of the Middle East, which is of course a region of critical importance. This awakening started with the Iranian revolution in 1979. Some further decisive steps were the successful striking back of the Iraqi aggression war 1980-1988, the foundation of Hezbollah in Lebanon and its victory against Israel in 2006, the success of Syria and Assad in the fight against the terrorists and their helpers, as well as the disaster of the USA wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

My proposal for the date of the end of the phase of the strategic offensive is based on some events in the beginning of this year. On the one hand, there was the failure of the absurd putsch in Venezuela, which was in some sense the last offensive card in the hands of Trump. On the other hand, it was the reaction in the West to the breakout of a military conflict between India and Pakistan in February. Nobody in the West made visible efforts in order to neutralise this dangerous situation. Only the countries of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) – both India and Pakistan are members – worked in this direction.

One should not underestimate the USA in this new phase. It is quite possible that Trump is rather tough as a “defender”. Anyway, I was surprised about his actions during the recent G20 Summit in Osaka. First, Trump found a quite elegant way to play down the conflict with Turkey about the S-400 systems by blaming Obama for this problem. Second, there was the meeting with Kim (North Korea), which could correct, in some sense, the missed meeting from Hanoi (February 2019) between Kim and Trump.

The other side, that is China, Russia and some other important countries, has very much solidified its inner cohesion during the last months. This side has clarified its vision of the future world, demanding mutual respect and collective efforts for a peaceful international development. It shows a clear alternative to the hegemonic Western domination of the past.

The actual situation of a dynamic equilibrium may last for some time. Both sides will fight for gaining the initiative. The first big test is the crisis around Iran. At first, the USA had the initiative by the politics of “maximal pressure”. However, Iran has reacted in an active manner so that this initiative is almost evaporated. Now, we have a war of nerves. Both sides seem to be aware that this conflict is a real issue for obtaining the initiative. It is therefore not very probable that the conflict will be resolved quickly or that one side will obtain a big victory.

But let us analyse a little bit the two sides with respect to this crisis around Iran. The side of Iran is the just side since the politics of “maximal pressure” is illegal by all international standards. The Iranian political direction is solid and their natural inner differences are obviously discussed in a reasonable, democratic manner. The Iranians know their military strengths and weaknesses. They have a clear strategy: active defence, no negotiations with the USA as long as the latter keep their anti-Iranian sanctions, few confidence in the role of the bigger European countries, strengthen the ties with the regional countries and with Russia and China, confidence in the determination of the Iranian people. As for China and Russia, they remain – for the moment – rather in the background. However, they are certainly prepared to play a much more active role. This means that Iran disposes of a big strategic reserve.

The side of the USA is unjust. Their behaviour is brutal and they are quite isolated. Economically and militarily, they are stronger than Iran, globally speaking. However, the USA cannot concentrate only on Iran since they intend to defend their worldwide hegemony. And, for the USA, this conflict is not a matter of life or death. On the whole, the side of the USA has not the determination of the Iranian side. Therefore, if the Iranians keep their nerves, – and I have no doubt about this – one cannot see a way for the side of the USA to win this conflict. But the latter is probably able to harass Iran and the Iranian people for quite a while.

In the actual situation, the war in Syria can again get an enormous signification. It is quite possible that Syria will be a crucial element in order to gain the strategic initiative. Since some weeks, the Syrian army, with the firm support of Russia, attacks the remaining terrorists in Idlib and the neighboring provinces. As we have learned during the last years, these Syrian offensives usually start rather slowly. They first intend to weaken the defence of the terrorists and to better know their military positions. But then, the advances of the Syrian army can be rapid. There are strong signs that the Syrian government has decided to make clear progresses now and that Russia fully agrees. Therefore, I am confident that important results will be obtained.

Living in a Western oriented country, which happens to be Switzerland, I came to the conclusion, some time ago, that Western societies have become too sclerotic and have lost the capacity to positively contribute to the development in the world. This is just a fact, it does not bother me. Nevertheless, as persons (or groups or movements), we can do our contributions for a post-western world as well as possible, being aware that the main burden is carried by other nations.

Why The End Of The INF Treaty Will Not Start A New Arms Race

Source

Moon of Alabama

August 03, 2019

Yesterday the U.S. left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. The end of this and other treaties that eliminated or restricted the deployment of nuclear systems is seen by some as the beginning of a news arms race:

William J. Perry – @SecDef19 – 7:37 PM · Aug 2, 2019The U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty today deals a great blow to nuclear arms control and global security, we are sleepwalking into a new arms race.

The former Secretary of Defense is wrong. The race will not happen because Russia (and China) won’t run. Or said differently, they already won.

To understand why that is the case we have to look at the history if the nuclear treaties and their demise.

In 1976 the Soviet Union started to deploy nuclear armed SS-20 (RSD-10 Pioneer) intermediate range missiles in Europe. The west-Europeans, especially Germany, feared that these missiles would decouple the U.S. from western Europe. The Soviet Union might tell the U.S. that it would not use its intercontinental nuclear missiles against the U.S. mainland as long as the U.S. would not fire its intercontinental missiles into the Soviet Union. It could then use the SS-20 to attack NATO in Europe while the U.S. would refrain from nuclear counter strikes on the Soviet Union. Europe would become a nuclear battle field while the U.S. and the Soviet Union would be left untouched.

The German chancellor Helmut Schmidt urged the U.S. to station nuclear armed intermediate range missiles in western Europe to press the Soviets to eliminate the SS-20. In 1979 NATO made the double track decision. It would deploy U.S. made Pershing IImissiles in Europe and at the same time offer the Soviet Union a treaty to ban all such intermediate range weapons. The effort was successful.

The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (later Russia) banned all of the two countries’ land-based ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile launchers with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310-3,420 mi). All SS-20 and Pershing II missiles were withdrawn and destroyed. A nuclear war in Europe became less likely.

Another successful treaty was the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It prohibited both sides from deploying more than one ABM system. It was necessary because the side that thought it had a working anti-ballistic missile defense could launch a massive first strike on the other side, destroy most of its forces, and defend itself against the smaller retaliation strike that would follow. Both sides were better off with prohibiting ABM in general and to rely on Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) for the prevention of a nuclear war.

In June 2002 U.S. President George W. Bush, under the influence of one John Bolton, withdrew from the ABM treaty which led to its termination. The U.S. deployed ABM system in Alaska and California but during tests the systems proved to be unreliable.

The U.S. claimed at that time that ABM was needed to defend against nuclear missiles from North Korea and Iran. That was always obvious nonsense. At that time North Korea had no missile that could reach the United States and Iran has no nukes and limits the range of its missiles to 2,000 kilometer.

Russia saw the U.S. step as an attempt to achieve a first strike capability against it. It immediately started the development of new system that would make the U.S. anti-missile defense irrelevant.

The U.S. also pressed NATO to deploy ABM systems in Europe. Iran was again cited as the main danger. Plans were developed to deploy Patriot and THAAD anti-missile system in Poland and Romania. These did not immediately endangered Russia. But in 2009 President Obama canceled the deployment and came up with a more devilish plan. The AEGIS system used on many U.S. war ships would be converted into a land based versionand deployed in an alleged ABM role. AEGIS consist of radar, a battle management system and canister missiles launchers. The big issue is that these canisters can contain very different types of missiles. While the Standard Missile-2 or 3 can be launched from those canisters in an ABM role, the very same canisters can also hold nuclear armed cruise missile with a range of 2,400 kilometer.

Russia had no means to detect which type of missiles the U.S. would deploy on these sites. It had to assume that nuclear intermediate range nuclear missiles will be in those canisters. In 2016 the U.S. activated the first of these AEGIS ashore systems in Romania. It was that step that broke the INF treaty.

That Obama had earlier signed a nuclear agreement with Iran that made sure that Iran would never build nukes made it obvious that Russia is the one and only target of those system:

During a visit to Greece intended to repair ties with the EU, Vladimir Putin said that Russia has “no choice” but to target Romania, which has recently opened a NATO missile defense base, and Poland, which plans to do so within two years.“If yesterday people simply did not know what it means to be in the crosshairs in those areas of Romania, then today we will be forced to carry out certain measures to ensure our security. And it will be the same with Poland,” Putin said during a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens on Friday.

“At the moment the interceptor missiles installed have a range of 500 kilometers, soon this will go up to 1000 kilometers, and worse than that, they can be rearmed with 2400km-range offensive missiles even today, and it can be done by simply switching the software, so that even the Romanians themselves won’t know,” said Putin, who is in Greece for a two-day tour.

Russia urged the U.S. to negotiate about the issue but the U.S. rejected that. A year after the U.S. deployed its system in Romania it alleged that Russia itself was in breach of the INF treaty. It claimed that Russia deployed the 9M729 missile, an extended range version of a previous missile, with a range that exceeds the limits of the INF treaty. Russia says that the missile is just a technical upgrade of an older one and has a maximum range below 500 kilometers. The U.S. never provided evidence for its claim.

In January 2019 the U.S. rejected a Russian offer to inspect the new Russian missile and started to pull out of the INF treaty. It gave a six month notice on February 2 and yesterday the INF treaty terminated.

Neither the New York Times obituary of the treaty nor the CNN write-up mention the ABM system in Romania and Poland that were the first to breach of the treaty. Both repeat the unproven claim that Russia deployed new intermediate range systems as fact.

The Europeans in NATO are not happy about the treaty’s end:

The official demise of a landmark arms control pact between the US and Russia is a “bad day” for stability in Europe, the military alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN Friday, hours after the US withdrew from the pact.Speaking to CNN’s Hala Gorani, the Norwegian politician called the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Moscow a “serious setback.”

“I’m part of a political generation that was shaped during the 1980s, where we all were concerned for the risk of nuclear war and where we were actually able to reach the INF treaty that didn’t only reduce the missiles but banned all intermediate range missiles and weapons,” he said.

Stoltenberg went on to blame Russia without mentioning the fake U.S. “ABM” sites in Romania and Poland.

It was John Bolton who was behind the demise of the ABM treaty and it was John Bolton who convinced Trump to terminate the INF treaty. With Bolton in the lead the New Start treaty, which limits intercontinental systems but ends in 2021, will likely not be renewed. Soon the whole system of treaties that limited U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons and delivery means will be gone.

Why is the U.S. so eager to end all these? It is known John Bolton hates anything that restricts the U.S., but there is also a larger strategy behind it. The U.S. believes that it defeated the Soviet Union by creating an arms race that the Soviets lost. It hopes that it can do the same with a recalcitrant Russia. But that calculation is wrong. President Putin has long said that Russia will not fall for it:

Moscow will not engage in an exhausting arms race, and the country’s military spending will gradually decrease as Russia does not seek a role as the “world gendarme,” President Vladimir Putin said.Moscow is not seeking to get involved in a “pointless” new arms race, and will stick to “smart decisions” to strengthen its defensive capabilities, Putin said on Friday during an annual extended meeting of the Defense Ministry board.

As Patrick Armstrong explains well:

Putin & Co have learned: Russia has no World-Historical purpose and its military is just for Russia. They understand what this means for Russia’s Armed Forces:Moscow doesn’t have to match the US military; it just has to checkmate it.

And it doesn’t have to checkmate it everywhere, only at home. The US Air Force can rampage anywhere but not in Russia’s airspace; the US Navy can go anywhere but not in Russia’s waters. It’s a much simpler job and it costs much less than what Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev were attempting; it’s much easier to achieve; it’s easier to plan and carry out. The exceptionalist/interventionist has to plan for Everything; the nationalist for One Thing.

Russia already has all the weapons it needs to defend itself. U.S. warfare depends on satellite communication, air superiority and missiles. But Russia’s air defense and electronic warfare systems are first class. They demonstrated in Syria that their capabilities exceed any U.S. systems.

When the U.S. left the ABM treaty Russia started to develop new weapons. In 2018 it was ready and demonstrated weapon systems that defeat any ABM system. The U.S. can not longer achieve first strike capability against Russia no matter how many ABM systems and nukes it deploys. There is no defense against hypersonic systems, nuclear torpedoes or nuclear powered cruise missiles with unlimited reach.

If the U.S. wants to start a new arms race with Russia or China it will be the only one to run. It will have to run fast to catch up.

Unlike the U.S. neither Russia nor China try to achieve world wide hegemony. They only have the need to defend their realm. The U.S. threat against both of them made them allies. If China needs more defense capabilities Russia will be happy to provide these. A U.S. nuclear attack against either of them, from Europe, Japan or the U.S. itself, will be responded to with a nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland. As the U.S. has no ability to defend itself from the new Russian systems it will continue to be deterred.

Posted by b on August 3, 2019 at 18:55 UTC | Permalink

As Trump Backs Down, the Pips Squeak

Image result for As Trump Backs Down, the Pips Squeak

FEATURED STORY

As Trump Backs Down, the Pips Squeak

Tom Luongo July 21, 2019

Last week it was all fire and brimstone. The US was threatening more sanctions on Iran, the Brits were seizing oil tankers and Iran was violating the JCPOA.

This week things look different all of a sudden. An oil tanker goes dark while passing through the Strait of Hormuz, the story fails to get any real traction and the US allows Iranian Foreign Minister, recently sanctioned, to do his job at the United Nations.

Trump then holds a cabinet meeting where he reiterates that

“We’re not looking for regime change. We want them out of Yemen.”

I thought National Security Advisor John Bolton said the US would apply pressure until “the pips squeak.”

Where the pips are squeaking is on the Arabian Peninsula, not across the Persian Gulf in Bandar Abbas. Specifically, I’m talking about the United Arab Emirates. The UAE sent a delegation to Tehran recently that coincided with its partial withdrawal of troops from Yemen.

That meeting, according to Elijah Magnier, focused on Emirates realizing they are in the middle of this conflict, up to their skyscrapers.

“The UAE would like to avoid seeing their country transformed into a battlefield between the US and Iran in case of war, particularly if Trump is re-elected. The Emirates officials noted that the US did not respond to Iran’s retaliation in the Gulf and in particularly when the US drone was downed. This indicates that Iran is prepared for confrontation and will implement its explicit menace, to hit any country from which the US carries out their attacks on Iran. We want to be out of all this”, an Emirates official told his Iranian counterpart in Tehran.

Iran promised to talk to the Yemeni officials to avoid hitting targets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as long as the UAE pulls out its forces from the Yemen and stops this useless war. Saudi Crown Prime Mohammad Bin Salman is finding himself without his main Emirates ally, caught in a war that is unwinnable for the Saudi regime. The Yemeni Houthis have taken the initiative, hitting several Saudi strategic targets. Saudi Arabia has no realistic objectives and seems to have lost the appetite to continue the war in Yemen.

So, with the Houthis successfully striking major targets inside Saudi Arabia and the UAE abruptly pulling forces out, the war in Yemen has reached a critical juncture. Remember, the Republican-controlled Senate approved a bill withdrawing support for the war back in March, which the White House had to veto in support of its fading hopes for its Israeli/Palestinian deal pushed by Jared Kushner.

But things have changed significantly since then as that deal has been indefinitely postponed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing a second election this fall after he failed to secure a stable coalition.

After that there was the failed economic conference in Bahrainin June where Kushner revealed the economic part of the plan to a half-empty room where only the backers of the plan showed any real support.

And that’s the important part of this story, because it was Kushner’s plan which was the impetus for all of this insane anti-Iran belligerence in the first place. Uniting the Gulf states around a security pact leveraging the U.S/Israeli/Saudi alliance was part of what was supposed to pressure the Palestinians to the bargaining table.

By placing maximum economic sanctions on both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran while continuing to foment chaos in Syria was supposed to force Israel’s enemies to fold under the pressure which would, in turn, see the Palestinians surrender to the will of Kushner and Bibi.

The problem is, it didn’t work. And now Trump is left holding the bag on this idiotic policy which culminated in an obvious provocation when Iran shot down a $220 million Global Hawk surveillance drone, nearly sparking a wider war.

But what it did was expose the US and not Iran as the cause of the current problems.

Since then Trump finally had to stand up and be the grown-up in the room, such as he is, and put an end to this madness.

The UAE understood the potential for Iran’s asymmetric response to US belligerence. The Saudis cannot win the war in Yemen that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began. The fallout from this war has been to push Qatar out of the orbit of the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council, cutting deals with Iran over developing the massive North Pars gas field and pipelines to Europe.

And now the UAE has realized it is facing an existential threat to its future in any confrontation between Iran and the US

What’s telling is that Trump is making Yemen the issue to negotiate down rather than Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Because it was never about the nuclear program. It was always about Iran’s ballistic missile program.

And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would have us believe that for the first time Iran’s missile program is on the negotiating table. I have no idea if that’s actually true, but it’s a dead giveaway that it’s what the US is after.

The main reason why Trump and Netanyahu are so angry about the JCPOA is the mutual outsourcing of the nuclear ballistic missile program by Iran and North Korea. North Korea was working on the warhead while Iran worked on the ballistic missile.

Trump tweeted about this nearly two years ago, confirming this link. I wrote about it when he did this.  Nearly everything I said about North Korea in the blog post is now applicable to Iran. This was why he hated the JCPOA, it didn’t actually stop the development of Iran and North Korea into nuclear states.

But tearing up the deal was the wrong approach to solving the problem. Stop pouring hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons to the region, as Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pointed out recently, is the problem. By doing this he took both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping off his side of the table.

Now he stands isolated with only the provocateurs – Israel, the U.K., Saudi Arabia – trying to goad him forward into doing something he doesn’t want to do. And all of those provocations that have occurred in the past month have failed to move either Trump or the Iranians. They’ve learned patience, possibly from Putin. Call it geopolitical rope-a-dope, if you will.

I said last month that the key to solving Iran’s nuclear ambitions was solving the relationship with North Korea. Trump, smartly, went there, doing what only he could do, talk with DPRK Chairman Kim Jong-Un and reiterate his sincere desire to end proliferation of nuclear weapons.

He can get Iran to the table but he’s going to have to give up something. So, now framing the negotiations with Iran around their demands we stop arming the Saudis is politically feasible.

Trump can’t, at this point, back down directly with Iran. Yemen is deeply unpopular here and ending our support of it would be a boon to Trump politically. Trading that for some sanctions relief would be a good first step to solving the mess he’s in and build some trust.

Firing John Bolton, which looks more likely every day, would be another.

He’s already turning a blind eye to Iranian exports to China, and presumably, other places. I think the Brits are acting independently trying to create havoc and burnish Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s resume as Prime Minister against Boris Johnson. That’s why they hijacked the oil tanker.

But all the little distractions are nothing but poison pills to keep from discussing the real issues. Trump just cut through all that. So did Iran. Let’s hope they stay focused.

US Sanctions Are Acts of War

US Sanctions Are Acts of War

Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:4

TEHRAN (FNA)- In great violation of UN Charter and international law, and with no international accountability, the United States is currently engaged in illegal and comprehensive economic blockades against Iran, North Korea and Venezuela, as well as several lesser blockades against countries such as Cuba and Nicaragua, and an intensifying effort to cut off China’s access to technology.

The blockade against North Korea is sanctioned, at least in part, by the UN Security Council. The blockade against Iran is in direct opposition to the Security Council. And the blockade against Venezuela is so far without Security Council engagement for or against.

The US is attempting to isolate the three countries from almost all international trade, causing shortages of food, medicines, energy, and spare parts for basic infrastructure, including the water supply and power grid. This is because they are not on the same page as Washington in regional matters.

The North Korean blockade operates mainly through UN-mandated sanctions, and includes a comprehensive list of exports to North Korea, imports from North Korea, and financial relations with North Korean entities.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports that ten million North Koreans are at risk of hunger, partly owing to sanctions.

The…”negative impact sanctions can have on agricultural production, through both direct and indirect impacts, cannot be ignored,” the FAO warns. “The most obvious are restrictions on the importation of certain items that are necessary for agricultural production, in particular fuel, machinery and spare parts for equipment.”

The draconian US sanctions on Venezuela have come in two phases. The first, beginning in August 2017, was mainly directed at the state oil company PDVSA, the country’s main earner of foreign exchange; the second round of sanctions, imposed in January 2019, was more comprehensive, targeting the Venezuelan government.

A recent detailed analysis of the first round of sanctions shows their devastating impact. The US sanctions gravely exacerbated economic mismanagement, contributing to a catastrophic fall in oil production, hyperinflation, economic collapse, hunger, and rising mortality.

US illegal sanctions against Iran have been in place more or less continuously since 1979. The most recent and by far most draconian measures, introduced in August 2018 and intensified in the first half of this year, aim to cut Iran off from foreign trade.

The US illegal sanctions are in direct contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. The effects have been inhumane.

One might expect that other countries would easily circumvent these illegal sanctions. But the US has threatened to punish foreign companies that violate the sanctions and has used the dollar’s global clout as a bludgeon, threatening to sanction foreign banks that finance trade with Iran.

European companies have fallen into line, despite the European Union’s political support for the UN resolution and nuclear deal with Iran. The history of the past 40 years shows that over the longer term, more ways will be found to circumvent the sanctions, using renminbi, ruble, or euro financing.

Despite the intense economic pain inflicted on North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran, none of them has succumbed to US demands. In this sense, sanctions have proved to be no more successful than military intervention.

North Korea has maintained, and most likely is expanding, its nuclear arsenal. The Iranian government rejects US demands concerning its missile program and foreign policies. And Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro remains in power.

The US blockades have been carried out by presidential decrees and mostly on the basis of congressional ratifications and oversight. Yet under President Trump, this has been a one-man show, even more so than in the case of president-led wars, which trigger vastly more public scrutiny. Trump realizes that he can impose sanctions abroad with virtually no political or international accountability.

Military blockades are acts of war, and therefore subject to international law, including UN Security Council oversight. America’s economic blockades are similar in function and outcome to military blockades, with inhumane consequences for civilian populations, and risk provoking war. It is time for the Security Council to take up the US sanctions regimes and economic terrorism and weigh them against the requirements of international law and peacekeeping.

The Financial Times’s Interview with President Putin

July 03, 2019

Ahead of the G20 Osaka Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with The Financial Times Editor Lionel Barber and Moscow Bureau Chief Henry Foy, The Kremlin, Moscow, June 27, 2019.

WATCH PART 1

WATCH PART 2

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/60836

Lionel Barber: Mr President, you head for Osaka shortly as the senior statesman at the G20. Nobody has been to so many international meetings of this grouping and the G7 over the last 20 years while you have been in charge of Russia. Before we talk about the G20 agenda and what you hope to achieve, we know that there are rising tensions between America and China in trade, the risk of conflict in the Gulf. I would be very grateful if you could talk a bit about how you have seen the world change over the last 20 years while you have been in power.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: First, I have not been in power for all these 20 years. As you may know, I was Prime Minister for four years, and that is not the highest authority in the Russian Federation. But nevertheless, I have been around for a long time in government and in the upper echelons, so I can judge what is changing and how. In fact, you just said it yourself, asking what has changed and how. You mentioned the trade wars and the Persian Gulf developments. I would cautiously say the situation has not changed for the better, but I remain optimistic to a certain extent. But, to put it bluntly, the situation has definitely become more dramatic and explosive.

Lionel Barber: Do you believe that the world now has become more fragmented?

Vladimir Putin: Of course, because during the Cold War, the bad thing was the Cold War. It is true. But there were at least some rules that all participants in international communication more or less adhered to or tried to follow. Now, it seems that there are no rules at all. In this sense, the world has become more fragmented and less predictable, which is the most important and regrettable thing.

Lionel Barber: We will return to this theme of the world without rules, fragmentation, more transactional. But first, Mr President, tell us what you want to achieve in Osaka, in terms of your relationships with these other parties? What are your main goals for the summit?

Vladimir Putin: I would very much like all the participants in this event, and the G20, in my opinion, is a key international economic development forum today, so I would like all the G20 members to reaffirm their intention – at least an intention – to work out some general rules that everyone would follow, and show their commitment and dedication to strengthening international financial and trade institutions.

Everything else is details that complement the main topics one way or another. We certainly support Japan’s Presidency. As for the development of modern technology, the information world, the information economy, as well as our Japanese colleagues’ attention to matters such as longevity and the environment – all this is extremely important, and we will certainly support it and will take part in all these discussions. Even though it is hard to expect any breakthroughs or landmark decisions in the current conditions; we can hardly count on it today. But in any case, there is hope at least that during these general discussions and bilateral meetings we will be able to smooth out the existing disagreements and lay a foundation, a basis for positive movement forward.

Lionel Barber: You will have a meeting with Mohammad bin Salman in Osaka. Can we expect an extension of the current agreement on oil production? Limitations?

Vladimir Putin: As you know, Russia is not an OPEC member, even though it is among the world’s largest producers. Our daily production is estimated at 11.3 million barrels, I believe. The United States has surged ahead of us, though. However, we believe that our production stabilisation agreements with Saudi Arabia and OPEC in general have had a positive effect on market stabilisation and forecasting.

I believe both energy producers, in this case, oil producing countries, and consumers are interested in this, because stability is definitely in short supply at present. And our agreements with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members undoubtedly strengthen stability.

As for whether we will extend the agreement, you will find out in the next few days. I had a meeting on this issue with the top executives of our largest oil companies and Government members right before this interview.

Lionel Barber: They are a little bit frustrated. They would like to produce more. Is that correct?

Vladimir Putin: They have a smart policy. It is not about increasing production, although that is a major component in the work of large oil companies. It is about the market situation. They take a comprehensive view of the situation, as well as of their revenues and expenses. Of course, they are also thinking about boosting the industry, timely investments, ways to attract and use modern technology, as well as about making this vital industry more attractive for investors.

However, dramatic price hikes or slumps will not contribute to market stability and will not encourage investment. This is why we discussed all these issues in their totality today.

Lionel Barber: Mr President, you have observed four American presidents at close quarters and will maybe five, you have had direct experience. So, how is Mr Trump different?

Vladimir Putin: We are all different. No two people are the same, just like there are no identical sets of fingerprints. Anyone has his or her own advantages, and let the voters judge their shortcomings. On the whole, I maintained sufficiently good-natured and stable relations with all the leaders of the United States. I had an opportunity to communicate more actively with some of them.

The first US President I came into contact with was Bill Clinton. Generally, I viewed this as a positive experience. We established sufficiently stable and business-like ties for a short period of time because his tenure was already coming to an end. I was only a very young president then who had just started working. I continue to recall how he established partner-like relations with me. I remain very grateful to him for this.

There have been different times, and we had to address various problems with all other colleagues. Unfortunately, this often involved debates, and our opinions did not coincide on some matters that, in my opinion, can be called key aspects for Russia, the United States and the entire world. For example, this includes the unilateral US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that, as we have always believed, and as I am still convinced, was the cornerstone of the entire international security system.

We debated this matter for a long time, argued and suggested various solutions. In any event, I made very energetic attempts to convince our US partners not to withdraw from the Treaty. And, if the US side still wanted to withdraw from the Treaty, it should have done so in such a way as to guarantee international security for a long historical period. I suggested this, I have already discussed this in public, and I repeat that I did this because I consider this matter to be very important. I suggested working jointly on missile-defence projects that should have involved the United States, Russia and Europe. They stipulated specific parameters of this cooperation, determined dangerous missile approaches and envisioned technology exchanges, the elaboration of decision-making mechanisms, etc. Those were absolutely specific proposals.

I am convinced that the world would be a different place today, had our US partners accepted this proposal. Unfortunately, this did not happen. We can see that the situation is developing in another direction; new weapons and cutting-edge military technology are coming to the fore. Well, this is not our choice. But, today, we should at least do everything so as to not aggravate the situation.

Lionel Barber: Mr President, you are a student of history. You have had many hours of conversation with Henry Kissinger. You almost certainly read his book, World Order. With Mr Trump, we have seen something new, something much more transactional. He is very critical of alliances and allies in Europe. Is this something that is to Russia’s advantage?

Vladimir Putin: It would be better to ask what would be to America’s advantage in this case. Mr Trump is not a career politician. He has a distinct world outlook and vision of US national interests. I do not accept many of his methods when it comes to addressing problems. But do you know what I think? I think that he is a talented person. He knows very well what his voters expect from him.

Russia has been accused, and, strange as it may seem, it is still being accused, despite the Mueller report, of mythical interference in the US election. What happened in reality? Mr Trump looked into his opponents’ attitude to him and saw changes in American society, and he took advantage of this.

You and I are talking ahead of the G20 meeting. It is an economic forum, and it will undoubtedly have discussions on globalisation, global trade and international finance.

Has anyone ever given a thought to who actually benefited and what benefits were gained from globalisation, the development of which we have been observing and participating in over the past 25 years, since the 1990s?

China has made use of globalisation, in particular, to pull millions of Chinese out of poverty.

What happened in the United States, and how did it happen? In the United States, the leading US companies –the companies, their managers, shareholders and partners – made use of these benefits. The middle class hardly benefitted from globalisation. The take-home pay in the US (we are likely to talk later about real incomes in Russia, which need special attention from the Government). The middle class in the United States has not benefited from globalisation; it was left out when this pie was divided up.

The Trump team sensed this very keenly and clearly, and they used this in the election campaign. It is where you should look for reasons behind Trump’s victory, rather than in any alleged foreign interference. This is what we should be talking about here, including when it comes to the global economy.

I believe this may explain his seemingly extravagant economic decisions and even his relations with his partners and allies. He believes that the distribution of resources and benefits of globalisation in the past decade was unfair to the United States.

I am not going to discuss whether it was fair or not, and I will not say if what he is doing is right or wrong. I would like to understand his motives, which is what you asked me about. Maybe this could explain his unusual behaviour.

Lionel Barber: I definitely want to come back to the Russian economy. But what you said is absolutely fascinating. Here you are, the President of Russia, defending globalisation along with President Xi whereas Mr Trump is attacking globalisation and talking about America First. How do you explain this paradox?

Vladimir Putin: I don’t think that his desire to make America first is a paradox. I want Russia to be first, and that is not perceived as a paradox; there is nothing unusual there. As for the fact that he is attacking some manifestations of globalisation, I made that point earlier. He seems to believe that the results of globalisation could have been much better for the United States than they are. These globalisation results are not producing the desired effect for the United States, and he is beginning this campaign against certain elements of globalisation. This concerns everyone, primarily major participants in the system of international economic collaboration, including allies.

Lionel Barber: Mr President, you have had many meetings with President Xi, and Russia and China have definitely come closer. Are you putting too many eggs in the China basket? Because Russian foreign policy, including under your leadership, has always made a virtue of talking to everybody.

Vladimir Putin: First of all, we have enough eggs, but there are not that many baskets where these eggs can be placed. This is the first point.

Secondly, we always assess risks.

Thirdly, our relations with China are not motivated by timeserving political any other considerations. Let me point out that the Friendship Treaty with China was signed in 2001, if memory serves, long before the current situation and long before the current economic disagreements, to put it mildly, between the United States and China.

We do not have to join anything, and we do not have to direct our policy against anyone. In fact, Russia and China are not directing their policy against anyone. We are just consistently implementing our plans for expanding cooperation. We have been doing this since 2001, and we are just consistently implementing these plans.

Take a look at what is written there. We have not done anything that transcends the framework of these accords. So there is nothing unusual here, and you should not search for any implications of the Chinese-Russian rapprochement. Of course, we assess the current global developments; our positions coincide on a number of matters on the current global agenda, including our attitude towards compliance with generally accepted rules in trade, the international financial system, payments and settlements.

The G20 has played a very tangible role. Since its inception in 2008, when the financial crisis flared up, the G20 has accomplished many useful things for stabilising the global financial system, for developing global trade and ensuring its stabilisation. I am talking about the tax aspect of the global agenda, the fight against corruption, and so on. Both China and Russia adhere to this concept.

The G20 has accomplished a lot by advocating quota changes at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Both Russia and China share this approach. Considering the major increase in the global economic share of emerging markets, this is fair and right, and we have been voicing this position from the very beginning. And we are glad that this continues to develop and to proceed in line with changes in global trade.

Over the past 25 years or so (25, I believe), the share of G7 countries in the global GDP has declined from 58 percent to 40 percent. This should also be reflected in international institutions in some way. That is the common position of Russia and China. This is fair, and there is nothing special about this.

Yes, Russia and China have many coinciding interests, this is true. This is what motivates our frequent contacts with President Xi Jinping. Of course, we have also established very warm personal relations, and this is natural.

Therefore, we are moving in line with our mainstream bilateral agenda that was formulated as far back as 2001, but we quickly respond to global developments. We never direct our bilateral relations against anyone. We are not against anyone, we are for ourselves.

Lionel Barber: I am relieved that this egg supply is strong. But the serious point, Mr President, is, you are familiar with Graham Allison‘s book, The Thucydides’s Trap. The danger of tensions or a military conflict risk between a dominant power and a rising power, America and China. Do you think that there is a risk of a military conflict in your time between you, America and China?

Vladimir Putin: You know, the entire history of mankind has always been full of military conflicts, but since the appearance of nuclear weapons the risk of global conflicts has decreased due to the potential global tragic consequences for the entire population of the planet in case such a conflict happens between two nuclear states. I hope it will not come to this.

However, of course, we have to admit that it is not only about China’s industrial subsidies on the one hand or the tariff policy of the United States on the other. First of all, we are talking about different development platforms, so to speak, in China and in the United States. They are different and you, being a historian, probably will agree with me. They have different philosophies in both foreign and domestic policies, probably.

But I would like to share some personal observations with you. They are not about allied relations with one country or a confrontation with the other; I am just observing what is going on at the moment. China is showing loyalty and flexibility to both its partners and opponents. Maybe this is related to the historical features of Chinese philosophy, their approach to building relations.

Therefore I do not think that there would be some such threats from China. I cannot imagine that, really. But it is hard to say whether the United States would have enough patience not to make any rash decisions, but to respect its partners even if there are disagreements. But I hope, I would like to repeat this again, I hope that there would not be any military confrontation.

Lionel Barber: Arms control. We know that the INF agreement is in grave jeopardy. Is there any place, from Russia’s point of view, for future arms control agreements or are we in a new phase when we are likely to see a new nuclear arms race?

Vladimir Putin: I believe there is such a risk.

As I said already, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty, and has recently quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty as well. But this time, it did not just quit but found a reason to quit, and this reason was Russia. I do not think Russia means anything to them in this case, because this war theatre, the war theatre in Europe is unlikely to be interesting to the US, despite the expansion of NATO and NATO’s contingent near our borders. The fact remains, the US has withdrawn from the treaty. Now the agenda is focused on theStrategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). I hope that I will be able to talk about it with Donald if we happen to meet in Osaka.

We said that we are ready to hold talks and to extend this treaty between the United States and Russia, but we have not seen any relevant initiative from our American partners. They keep silent, while the treaty expires in 2021. If we do not begin talks now, it would be over because there would be no time even for formalities.

Our previous conversation with Donald showed that the Americans seem to be interested in this, but still they are not making any practical steps. So if this treaty ceases to exist, then there would be no instrument in the world to curtail the arms race. And this is bad.

Lionel Barber: Exactly, the gloves are off. Is there any chance of a triangular agreement between China, Russia and America on intermediate nuclear forces or is that a dream, pie in the sky? Would you support such an end?

Vladimir Putin: As I said at the very beginning, we will support any agreement that can advance our cause, that is, help us contain the arms race.

It should be said that so far, the level and the development scale of China’s nuclear forces are much lower than in the United States and Russia. China is a huge power that has the capability to build up its nuclear potential. This will likely happen in the future, but so far our capabilities are hardly comparable. Russia and the United States are the leading nuclear powers, which is why the agreement was signed between them. As for whether China will join these efforts, you can ask our Chinese friends.

Lionel Barber: Russia is a Pacific power as well as a European and Asian power. It is a Pacific power. You have seen what the Chinese are doing in terms of their buildup of their Navy and their maritime strength. How do you deal with those potential security problems, territorial disputes in the Pacific? Does Russia have a role to play in a new security arrangement?

Vladimir Putin: You mentioned the build-up of naval forces in China. China’s total defence spending is $117 billion, if memory serves. The US defence spending is over $700 billion. And you are trying to scare the world with the build-up of China’s military might? It does not work with this scale of military spending. No, it does not.

As for Russia, we will continue to develop our Pacific Fleet as planned. Of course, we also respond to global developments and to what happens in relations between other countries. We can see all of this, but it does not affect our defence development plans, including those in the Russian Far East.

We are self-sufficient, and we are confident. Russia is the largest continental power. But we have a nuclear submarine base in the Far East, where we are developing our defence potential in accordance with our plans, including so that we can ensure safety on the Northern Sea Route, which we are planning to develop.

We intend to attract many partners to this effort, including our Chinese partners. We may even reach an agreement with American shippers and with India, which has also indicated its interest in the Northern Sea Route.

I would say that we are also primed for cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, and I have grounds to believe that Russia can make a considerable, tangible and positive contribution to stabilising the situation.

Lionel Barber: Can we just turn to North Korea? How do you assess the current situation and do you believe that in the end, any deal or agreement will have to accept the fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons and that total dismantling is just not possible? If I could just add, Mr President, I ask you this because Russia has a fairly small but still a land border with North Korea.

Vladimir Putin: You know, whether we recognise North Korea as a nuclear power or not, the number of nuclear charges it has will not decrease. We must proceed from modern realities, which are that nuclear weapons pose a threat to international peace and security.

Another pertinent question is where this problem stems from. The tragedies of Libya and Iraq have inspired many countries to ensure their security at all costs.

What we should be talking about is not how to make North Korea disarm, but how to ensure the unconditional security of North Korea and how to make any country, including North Korea feel safe and protected by international law that is strictly honoured by all members of the international community. This is what we should be thinking about.

We should think about guarantees, which we should use as the basis for talks with North Korea. We must be patient, respect it and, at the same time, take into account the dangers arising from this, the dangers of the nuclear status and the presence of nuclear weapons.

Of course, the current situation is fraught with unpredictable scenarios, which we must avoid.

Lionel Barber: You have obviously thought of this as an experienced foreign policy and security analyst and a strategist. How do you see the North Asia security situation over the next five to ten years, given you have Russia, you have China, you have Korea and Japan?

Vladimir Putin: You have said correctly that we have a common border, even if a short one, with North Korea, therefore, this problem has a direct bearing on us. The United States is located across the ocean, and the UK is located far away, while we are right here, in this region, and the North Korean nuclear range is not far away from our border. This why this concerns us directly, and we never stop thinking about it.

I would like to return to my answer to your previous question. We must respect North Korea’s legitimate security concerns. We must show it respect, and we must find a way of ensuring its security that will satisfy North Korea. If we do this, the situation may take a turn nobody can imagine today.

Do you remember what turn the situation took after the Soviet Union adopted the policy of détente? Do I need to say anything else?

Lionel Barber: Mr President, you have been in power or very close to power. I think in Davos I said to you when we met – you were not in power but still calling all the shots. After 20 years at the top or near the top, has your appetite for risk increased?

Vladimir Putin: It did not increase or decrease.Risk must always be well-justified. But this is not the case when one can use the popular Russian phrase: “He who doesn’t take risks, never drinks champagne.” This is not the case. Quite possibly, risks are inevitable when one has to make certain decisions. Depending on the scale of any decision, risks can be small or serious.

Any decision-making process is accompanied by risk. Before taking one’s chances, one has to meticulously assess everything. Therefore, risk based on an assessment of the situation and the possible consequences of the decisions is possible and even inevitable. Foolish risks overlooking the real situation and failing to clearly comprehend the consequences are unacceptable because they can jeopardise the interests of a great number of people.

Lionel Barber: How big was this Syria risk in terms of your decision to intervene?

Vladimir Putin: It was sufficiently high. However, of course, I thought carefully about this well in advance, and I considered all the circumstances and all the pros and cons. I considered how the situation around Russia would develop and the possible consequences. I discussed this matter with my aides and ministers, including those in charge of law enforcement agencies and other senior officials. In the long run, I decided that the positive effect from our active involvement in Syrian affairs for Russia and the interests of the Russian Federation would far outweigh non-interference and passive observation of how an international terrorist organisation grows ever stronger near our borders.

Lionel Barber: What has the return been like on the risk taken in Syria?

Vladimir Putin: I believe that it has been a good and positive return. We have accomplished even more than I had expected. First of all, many militants planning to return to Russia were eliminated. This implies several thousand people. They were planning to return to Russia or neighbouring countries with which we do not maintain any visa regime. Both aspects are equally dangerous for us. This is the first thing.

Secondly, we have managed to stabilise the situation in a nearby region, one way or another. This is also highly important. Therefore, we have directly strengthened Russia’s domestic security. This is the third thing.

Fourthly, we have established sufficiently good business-like relations with all regional countries, and our positions in the Middle East region have become more stable. Indeed, we have established very good, business-like, partner-like and largely allied relations with many regional countries, including Iran, Turkey and other countries.

Primarily, this concerns Syria, we have managed to preserve Syrian statehood, no matter what, and we have prevented Libya-style chaos there. And a worst-case scenario would spell out negative consequences for Russia.

Besides, I would like to openly speak of the mobilisation of the Russian Armed Forces. Our Armed Forces have received such practical experience that they could not have obtained during any peace-time exercises.

Lionel Barber: Are you committed to Mr al-Assad remaining in power or can we see, at some point, the transition in Syria that Russia would support, which would not be Libya?

Vladimir Putin: I believe that the Syrian people should be free to choose their own future. At the same time, I would like the actions of external players to be substantiated and, just as in the case of the risks you have mentioned, predictable and understandable, so that we can consider at least our next moves.

When we discussed this matter only recently with the previous US administration, we said, suppose Assad steps down today, what will happen tomorrow?

Your colleague did well to laugh, because the answer we got was very amusing. You cannot even imagine how funny it was. They said, “We don’t know.” But when you do not know what happens tomorrow, why shoot from the hip today? This may sound primitive, but this is how it is.

Therefore, we prefer to look at problems thoroughly from all possible angles and not to be in any hurry. Of course, we are perfectly aware of what is happening in Syria. There are internal reasons for the conflict, and they should be dealt with. But both sides should do their bit. I am referring to the conflicting parties.

Lionel Barber: Mr President, does that same argument apply to Venezuela? In other words, you are not prepared to see a transition in Venezuela and you are absolutely committed to President Maduro.

Vladimir Putin: Oh, and it seemed we had started so well. Please do not take offence to what I am going to say next. You won’t, will you? We were off to such a terrific start, talking seriously, and now you have moved back to the stereotype views on Russia.

We have no nothing to do with what is happening in Venezuela, if you know what I mean.

Lionel Barber: What are those advisors doing then in Caracas?

Vladimir Putin: I will say this now, if you just let me finish. There is no problem with that.

Back under [President] Chavez we sold weapons to Venezuela, without any limits and problems. We did this absolutely legally just as it is done all around the world and as every country does, including the United States, the UK, China and France. We did this too – we sold weapons to Venezuela.

We signed contracts, which say what we have to do when it comes to servicing this military equipment, that we must train local specialists, ensure that this equipment is maintained in combat readiness, and so on. We provide maintenance services for this equipment. I have already said this many times, including to our American partners: there are no Russian troops there. Do you understand? Yes, there are Russian specialists and instructors there. Yes, they are working there. Only recently, I believe it was a week ago, a group of our advisers and specialists left the country. But they can return.

We have an agreement that our aircraft fly there from time to time to take part in exercises. And this is it. Are we regulating the rebels’ actions as some of our partners are doing, or the actions of President Maduro? He is the president, why should we control his actions? He is in control. Whether he is doing well or not, this is another matter altogether. We do not make any judgments.

I believe that many things could have been done differently there when it comes to the economy. But we do not meddle in things; it is none of our business. We have invested billions of dollars there, mostly in the oil sector. So what? Other countries are doing the same as well.

It looks like everything is preserved only by Russian weapons. This is not true. It has nothing in common with reality. Where are the self-proclaimed presidents and opposition leaders? Some of them have taken refuge in foreign embassies and others are in hiding. What do we have to do with this? This problem should be sorted out by the Venezuelan people themselves. This is all.

Lionel Barber: I was just applying your theory and your experience of seeing what happened in Libya and Iraq to Venezuela. And therefore, logically, you would say, “We are committed to Mr Maduro because we do not want to see regime change from outside.” Is that the Russian position? Or might you be willing to say, “We will support Guaido because we have important oil interests in Venezuela”?

Vladimir Putin: We are prepared for any developments in any country, including Venezuela, if they are taking place in accordance with internal rules and the country’s legislation, its Constitution, and in line with the people’s will.

I do not think that Libyan or Iraqi statehood would have been wrecked if there had been no intervention there. It would not have happened in Libya, the situation was absolutely different there. Indeed, Gaddafi wrote his books there, set forth his theories, and so on, which did not meet specific standards, and his practical work did not meet European or American perceptions of democracy.

Incidentally, the President of France said recently that the American democratic model differs greatly from the European model. So there are no common democratic standards. And do you, well, not you, but our Western partners want a region such as Libya to have the same democratic standards as Europe and the United States? The region has only monarchies or countries with a system similar to the one that existed in Libya.

But I am sure that, as a historian, you will agree with me at heart. I do not know whether you will publicly agree with this or not, but it is impossible to impose current and viable French or Swiss democratic standards on North African residents who have never lived in conditions of French or Swiss democratic institutions. Impossible, isn’t it? And they tried to impose something like that on them. Or they tried to impose something that they had never known or even heard of. All this led to conflict and inter-tribal discord. In fact, a war continues in Libya.

So why should we do the same in Venezuela? Do we want to revert to gunboat diplomacy? What do we need it for? Is it necessary to humiliate Latin American nations so much in the modern world and impose forms of government or leaders from the outside?

By the way, we worked with President Chavez because he was president. We did not work with President Chavez as an individual, but we worked with Venezuela. That is why we channelled investments in the oil sector.

And where did we plan to deliver Venezuelan oil while investing in the oil sector? As you know, Venezuela has unique oil that is mostly delivered to US refineries. What is so bad about that? We wanted the Venezuelan oil and gas sector to operate steadily, predictably and confidently and to make deliveries to those US refineries. I do not understand what is so wrong with this.

First, they faced economic problems, followed by domestic political problems. Let them sort things out by themselves, and these leaders will come to power by democratic means. But when a person enters a square, raises his eyes to the sky and proclaims himself president? Let us do the same in Japan, the United States or Germany. What will happen? Do you understand that this will cause chaos all over the world? It is impossible to disagree with this. There will be pure chaos. How could they act like this? But no, they started supporting that person from the very outset.

He may be a very good person. He may be just wonderful, and his plans are good. But is it enough that he entered a square and proclaimed himself president? Is the entire world supposed to support him as president? We should tell him to take part in elections and win them, and then we would work with him as the state leader.

Lionel Barber: Let us talk about another democracy in Europe, my own country. You are going to have a meeting with Mrs May, which is going to be one of her last meetings before she steps down as Prime Minister. Do you think that there is a possibility of some improvement in Anglo-Russian relations and that we can move on from some of these issues that are obviously of great sensitivity, like the Skripal affair? Or do you think that we are going to stay in a deep freeze for the next three or five years?

Vladimir Putin: Listen,all this fuss about spies and counter-spies, it is not worth serious interstate relations. This spy story, as we say, it is not worth five kopecks. Or even five pounds, for that matter. And the issues concerning interstate relations, they are measured in billions and the fate of millions of people. How can we compare one with the other?

The list of accusations and allegations against one another could go on and on. They say, “You poisoned the Skripals.” Firstly, this must be proved.

Secondly, the average person listens and says, “Who are these Skripals?” And it turns out that Skripal was engaged in espionage against us [Russia]. So this person asks the next question, “Why did you spy on us using Skripal? Maybe you should not have done that?” You know, these questions are infinite. We need to just leave it alone and let security agencies deal with it.

But we know that businesses in the United Kingdom (by the way, I had a meeting with our British colleagues in this same room), they want to work with us, they are working with us and intend to continue doing so. And we support this intent.

I think that Mrs May, despite her resignation, could not help but be concerned that these spy scandals made our relations reach a deadlock so we could not develop our ties normally and support business people, who are doing what? They do not only earn money, this is what is on the outside. They create jobs and added value, plus they provide revenue at all levels of the tax system of their countries. This is a serious and multifaceted job, with the same risks you mentioned, including risks related to business operations. And if we add an unpredictable political situation, they will not be able to work at all.

I think that both Russia and the United Kingdom are interested in fully restoring our relations. At least I hope that a few preliminary steps will be made. I think it would be easier for Mrs May, maybe, because she is leaving and is free to do what she thinks is right, important and necessary and not to bother about some domestic political consequences.

Lionel Barber: Some people might say that a human life is worth more than five pennies. But do you believe, Mr President that whatever happened…

Vladimir Putin: Did anybody die?

Lionel Barber: Oh yes. The gentleman who had a drug problem and he died after touching the Novichok in the car park. I mean somebody did that because of the perfume. It was more than one person that died, not the Skripals. I am just…

Vladimir Putin: And you think this is absolutely Russia’s fault?

Lionel Barber: I did not say that. I said somebody died.

Vladimir Putin: You did not say that, but if it has nothing to do with Russia… Yes, a man died, and that is a tragedy, I agree. But what do we have to do with it?

Lionel Barber: Let me just ask this and I really want to talk about the Russian economy. Do you believe that what happened in Salisbury sent an unambiguous message to anyone who is thinking of betraying the Russian state that it is fair game?

Vladimir Putin: As a matter of fact, treason is the gravest crime possible and traitors must be punished. I am not saying that the Salisbury incident is the way to do it. Not at all. But traitors must be punished.

This gentleman, Skripal, had already been punished. He was arrested, sentenced and then served time in prison. He received his punishment. For that matter, he was off the radar. Why would anybody be interested in him? He got punished. He was detained, arrested, sentenced and then spent five years in prison. Then he was released and that was it.

As concerns treason, of course, it must be punishable. It is the most despicable crime that one can imagine.

Lionel Barber: The Russian economy. You spoke the other day about decline in the real wages in the Russian workforce and Russian growth has been less than expected. But at the same time, Mr President, you have been accumulating foreign exchange reserves and international reserves at some 460 billion. What are you saving for? What is the purpose? Can’t you use some of this money to ease up on the fiscal side?

Vladimir Putin: Let me correct a few very small details. Real wages are not in decline in Russia. On the contrary, they are starting to pick up. It is the real household disposable income that is falling.

Wages and income are two slightly different things. Income is determined by many parameters, including loan servicing costs. People in Russia take out a lot of consumer loans and interest payments are counted towards expenses, which drags down real income indicators. Also, the shadow economy is undergoing legalisation. A substantial part of self-employed people – I believe, 100,000 or 200,000, have already legalised their business. This, too, affects real incomes of the population, disposable incomes.

This tendency has persisted for the past four years. Last year we recorded a small increase of 0.1 percent. It is not enough. It is still within the margin of error. But it is one of the serious problems that we need to deal with and we are dealing with it.

Real wages started to grow recently. Last year there was an 8.5-percent increase. This year, the growth rate of real wages has significantly decreased due to a whole range of circumstances. I mean that last year we saw a recovery growth and there are some other factors involved. However, it continues. And we really expect that it will have an effect on real household disposable incomes.

Even more so because lately we have adopted a number of measures to speed up the growth of retirement pensions. Last year the inflation rate was 4.3 percent and, based on these results, in the beginning of this year pensions were adjusted for inflation by 7.05 percent. And we set ourselves a goal, a task – which, I am certain, will be achieved – to adjust pensions by a percentage that is above the inflation rate.

Now, real incomes were also affected because we had to increase VAT from 18 to 20 percent, which affected people’s purchasing power because the inflation rate exceeded 5 percent.

In other words, we expected that the negative impact of the VAT increase would be short-term, which is exactly what happened. Fortunately, it worked out and our calculations proved right. Now the inflation rate is going down, the macroeconomic situation is improving; investment is rising slightly. We can see that the economy has overcome those difficulties that were caused by internal and external shocks. The external shocks were related to restrictions and slumping prices on our traditional export products. The economy has stabilised.

The macroeconomic situation in the country is stable. It is not accidental and all rating agencies registered it. The three major agencies raised our investment rating. Economic growth last year was 2.3 percent. We do not think it was enough but we will, of course, work on speeding up the pace. The growth rate in industrial production was 2.9 percent and even higher, up to 13 percent in some industries (light industry, processing and garment industries and several others). Therefore, overall, our economy is stable.

But the most important task we need to achieve is to change the structure of the economy and secure a substantial growth of labour productivity through modern technologies, Artificial Intelligence, robotics and so on. This is exactly why we increased VAT, to raise budget funds for performing a certain part of this job that is the state’s responsibility, in order to create conditions for private investment. Let us take transport and other infrastructure development. Hardly anybody besides the state is involved in it. There are other factors related to education and healthcare. A person who has health problems or has no training cannot be efficient in the modern economy. The list goes on.

We really hope that by starting this work on key development areas, we will be able to increase labour productivity and use this basis for ensuring an increase in the incomes and prosperity of our people.

As concerns the reserves, you are not exactly correct here, either. We have over 500 billion in gold and foreign currency reserves, rather than 460 billion. But the understanding is that we need to create a safety net that would let us feel confident and use the interest on our existing resources. If we have 7 percent more, we can spend those 7 percent.

This is what we plan for the next year and there is a high probability that we will succeed. Do not think that this money is just sitting on the shelf. No, it creates certain guarantees for Russia’s economic stability in the midterm.

Lionel Barber: The Central Bank has done a very good job in helping to secure macroeconomic stability even if some of the oligarchs complain about banks being closed.

Vladimir Putin: You know, first of all, we do not have oligarchs anymore. Oligarchs are those who use their proximity to the authorities to receive super profits. We have large companies, private ones, or with government participation. But I do not know of any large companies that get preferential treatment from being close to the authorities, these are practically non-existent.

As for the Central Bank, yes, it is engaged in a gradual improvement of our financial system: inefficient and small-capacity companies, as well as semi-criminal financial organisations are leaving the market, and this is large-scale and complicated work.

It is not about oligarchs or large companies; the thing is that it affects, unfortunately, the interests of the depositor, the average person. We have relevant regulatory acts that minimise people’s financial losses and create a certain safety net for them. But each case should be considered individually, of course.

In general, the work of the Central Bank, in my opinion, deserves support. It is related to both the improvement of the financial system and the calibrated policy regarding the key interest rate.

Lionel Barber: Mr President, I would like to go back to President Xi and China. As you know, he has pursued a rigorous anticorruption campaign in order to clean up the party, maintain the legitimacy and strengthen the party. He has also read the history of the Soviet Union, where Mr Gorbachev essentially abandoned the party and helped to destroy the country – the Soviet Union. Do you think that Mr Xi is right in his approach that the party is absolutely crucial? And what lessons do you draw for Russia? If I can just add, you said something interesting a few years ago about the breakup of the Soviet Union being the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.

Vladimir Putin: These two issues are not connected. As for the tragedy related to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, this is something obvious. I meant, first of all, the humanitarian aspect of it. It appears that 25 million ethnic Russians were living abroad when they learned from the television and radio that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Nobody asked their opinion. The decision was simply made.

You know, these are issues of democracy. Was there an opinion poll, a referendum? Most (over 70 percent) of the citizens of the USSR spoke in favour of retaining it. Then the decision was made to dissolve the USSR, but nobody asked the people, and 25 million ethnic Russians found themselves living outside the Russian Federation. Listen, is this not a tragedy? A huge one! And family relations? Jobs? Travel? It was nothing but a disaster.

I was surprised to see the later comments on what I said, in particular, in the Western media. They should try to live through seeing their father, brother or any other close relative finding themselves living in a different country, where a whole new life has started. I assure you.

As for the party and the party state building in China, this is for the Chinese people to decide; we do not interfere. Today’s Russia has its own principles and rules of life, and China with its 1.35 billion people has its own. You try to rule a country with such a population. This is not Luxembourg, with all due respect to this wonderful country. Therefore, it is necessary to give the Chinese people the opportunity to decide how to organise their lives.

Lionel Barber: Again a big picture question. I talked at the beginning of our conversation about fragmentation. Another phenomenon today is that there is a popular backlash against elites and against the establishment and you have seen that – Brexit in Britain. Perhaps you were speaking about Trump’s America. You have seen it with the AFD in Germany; you have seen it in Turkey; and you have seen it in the Arab world. How long do you think that Russia can remain immune to this global movement of backlash against the establishment?

Vladimir Putin: You should look at the realities in each particular case. Of course, there are some trends, but they are only general. In each particular case, when looking at the situation and how it unfolds, you should take into account the history of the given country, its traditions and realities.

How long will Russia remain a stable country? The longer the better. Because very many other things and its position in the world depend on stability, on internal political stability. Ultimately, the wellbeing of the people depends, possibly primarily, on stability.

One of the reasons, the internal reason for the Soviet Union’s collapse was that life was difficult for the people, whose take-home wages were very small. The shops were empty, and the people lost the intrinsic desire to preserve the state.

They thought that it could not get worse no matter what happened. It turned out that life became worse for very many people, especially at the beginning of the 1990s when the social protection and healthcare systems collapsed and industry was crumbling. It could be ineffective, but at least people had jobs. After the collapse, they lost them. Therefore, you should look at each particular case separately.

What is happening in the West? What is the reason for the Trump phenomenon, as you said, in the United States? What is happening in Europe as well? The ruling elites have broken away from the people. The obvious problem is the gap between the interests of the elites and the overwhelming majority of the people.

Of course, we must always bear this in mind. One of the things we must do in Russia is never to forget that the purpose of the operation and existence of any government is to create a stable, normal, safe and predictable life for the people and to work towards a better future.

There is also the so-called liberal idea, which has outlived its purpose. Our Western partners have admitted that some elements of the liberal idea, such as multiculturalism, are no longer tenable.

When the migration problem came to a head, many people admitted that the policy of multiculturalism is not effective and that the interests of the core population should be considered. Although those who have run into difficulties because of political problems in their home countries need our assistance as well. That is great, but what about the interests of their own population when the number of migrants heading to Western Europe is not just a handful of people but thousands or hundreds of thousands?

Lionel Barber: Did Angela Merkel make a mistake?

Vladimir Putin: Cardinal mistake. One can criticise Trump for his intention to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. It could be going too far. Yes, maybe so. I am not arguing about this point. But he had to do something about the huge inflow of migrants and narcotics.

Nobody is doing anything. They say this is bad and that is bad as well. Tell me, what is good then? What should be done? Nobody has proposed anything. I do not mean that a wall must be built or tariffs raised by 5 percent annually in the economic relations with Mexico. This is not what I am saying, yet something must be done. He is at least looking for a solution.

What am I driving at? Those who are concerned about this, ordinary Americans, they look at this and say, Good for him, at least he is doing something, suggesting ideas and looking for a solution.

As for the liberal idea, its proponents are not doing anything. They say that all is well, that everything is as it should be. But is it? They are sitting in their cosy offices, while those who are facing the problem every day in Texas or Florida are not happy, they will soon have problems of their own. Does anyone think about them?

The same is happening in Europe. I discussed this with many of my colleagues, but nobody has the answer. The say they cannot pursue a hard-line policy for various reasons. Why exactly? Just because. We have the law, they say. Well, then change the law!

We have quite a few problems of our own in this sphere as well. We have open borders with the former Soviet republics, but their people at least speak Russian. Do you see what I mean? And besides, we in Russia have taken steps to streamline the situation in this sphere. We are now working in the countries from which the migrants come, teaching Russian at their schools, and we are also working with them here. We have toughened the legislation to show that migrants must respect the laws, customs and culture of the country.

In other words, the situation is not simple in Russia either, but we have started working to improve it. Whereas the liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. The migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants must be protected. What rights are these? Every crime must have its punishment.

So, the liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population. Or take the traditional values. I am not trying to insult anyone, because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia as it is. But we have no problems with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish. But some things do appear excessive to us.

They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles. I cannot even say exactly what genders these are, I have no notion. Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.

Lionel Barber: Does that include – this is very important, like you say – the end of this liberal idea, because – what else did you say – uncontrolled immigration, open borders, definitely, as you say, diversity as an organizing principle in society? What else do you think is just finished over in terms of the liberal idea? And would you say – if I could just add – that religion therefore must play an important role in terms of national culture and cohesiveness?

Vladimir Putin: It should play its current role.It [religion] cannot be pushed out of this cultural space. We should not abuse anything.

Russia is an Orthodox Christian nation, and there have always been problems between Orthodox Christianity and the Catholic world. This is exactly why I will now say a few words about Catholics. Are there any problems there? Yes, there are, but they cannot be over-exaggerated and used for destroying the Roman Catholic Church itself. This is what cannot be done.

Sometimes, I get the feeling that these liberal circles are beginning to use certain elements and problems of the Catholic Church as a tool for destroying the Church itself. This is what I consider to be incorrect and dangerous.

All right, have we forgotten that all of us live in a world based on Biblical values? Even atheists and everyone else live in this world. We do not have to think about this every day, attend church and pray, thereby showing that we are devout Christians or Muslims or Jews. However, deep inside, there must be some fundamental human rules and moral values. In this sense, traditional values are more stable and more important for millions of people than this liberal idea, which, in my opinion, is really ceasing to exist.

Lionel Barber: So religion, religion is not the opium of the masses?

Vladimir Putin: No, it is not. But I get the impression that you are detached from religion because it is already 12.45 am Moscow Time, and you continue to torture me. As we say here, there is no fear of God in you, is there? (Laughter)

Lionel Barber: This is history. I have waited a long time for this. I have got one last question. And thank you for your – go on please.

Vladimir Putin: Please, go ahead.

Henry Foy: Mr President, would you say – I was reflecting on what you just said: some of the themes you were referring to would echo in people such as Steve Bannon, and Mr Trump himself, and the groups in Europe who have come to power. Do you think if the end of the liberal idea is over, is now the time of the ‘illiberals’? And do you see more and more allies growing around the world to your way of seeing the human existence at the moment?

Vladimir Putin: You know, it seems to me that purely liberal or purely traditional ideas have never existed. Probably, they did once exist in the history of humankind, but everything very quickly ends in a deadlock if there is no diversity. Everything starts to become extreme one way or another.

Various ideas and various opinions should have a chance to exist and manifest themselves, but at the same time interests of the general public, those millions of people and their lives, should never be forgotten. This is something that should not be overlooked.

Then, it seems to me, we would be able to avoid major political upheavals and troubles. This applies to the liberal idea as well. It does not mean (I think, this is ceasing to be a dominating factor) that it must be immediately destroyed. This point of view, this position should also be treated with respect.

They cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades. Diktat can be seen everywhere: both in the media and in real life. It is deemed unbecoming even to mention some topics. But why?

For this reason, I am not a fan of quickly shutting, tying, closing, disbanding everything, arresting everybody or dispersing everybody. Of course, not. The liberal idea cannot be destroyed either; it has the right to exist and it should even be supported in some things. But you should not think that it has the right to be the absolute dominating factor. That is the point.

Please.

Lionel Barber: You really are on the same page as Donald Trump. Mr President, you have been in power for almost 20 years.

Vladimir Putin: For eighteen years.

Lionel Barber: You have seen many world leaders. Who do you most admire?

Vladimir Putin: Peter the Great.

Lionel Barber: But he is dead.

Vladimir Putin: He will live as long as his cause is alive just as the cause of each of us. (Laughter). We will live until our cause is alive.

If you mean any present-day leaders from different countries and states, of the persons that I could communicate with, I was most seriously impressed by former President of France Mr Chirac. He is a true intellectual, a real professor, a very level-headed man as well as very interesting. When he was President, he had his own opinion on every issue, he knew how to defend it and he always respected his partners’ opinions.

In modern-day history, taking a broader view, there are many good and very interesting people.

Lionel Barber: Peter the Great, the creator of the Greater Russia. Need I say any more? My last question, Mr President. Great leaders always prepare succession. Lee Kuan Yew prepared succession. So please share with us what would the process be by which your successor will be chosen.

Vladimir Putin: I can tell you without exaggeration that I have always been thinking about this, since 2000. The situation changes and certain demands on people change, too. In the end, and I will say this without theatrics or exaggeration, in the end the decision must be made by the people of Russia. No matter what and how the current leader does, no matter who or how he represents, it is the voter that has the final word, the citizen of the Russian Federation.

Lionel Barber: So the choice will be approved by the Russian people in a vote? Or through the Duma?

Vladimir Putin: Why through the Duma? By means of direct secret ballot, universal direct secret ballot. Of course, it is different from what you have in Great Britain. We are a democratic country. (Laughter)

In your country, one leader has left, and the second leader, who is for all intents and purposes the top figure in the state, is not elected by a direct vote of the people, but by the ruling party.

It is different in Russia, as we are a democratic country. If our top officials leave for some reason, because they want to retire from politics like Boris Yeltsin, or because their term ends, we hold an election through universal direct secret ballot.

The same will happen in this case. Of course, the current leader always supports someone, and this support can be substantive if the person supported has the respect and trust of the people, but in the end, the choice is always made by the Russian people.

Lionel Barber: I cannot resist pointing out that you did take over as president before the election.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is true. So what? I was acting president, and in order to be elected and become the head of state, I had to take part in an election, which I did.

I am grateful to the Russian people for their trust back then, and after that, in the following elections. It is a great honour to be the leader of Russia.

Lionel Barber: Mr President, thank you for spending time with the Financial Times in Moscow, in the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you for your interest in the events in Russia and your interest in what Russia thinks about the current international affairs. And thank you for our interesting conversation today. I believe it was really interesting.

Thank you very much.

America Tries to Solve Everything With Money! Will Fail at Bribing the Entire World!

Washington is afraid of the technical backwardness .واشنطن خائفة من التخلف التقني؟

Washington is afraid of the technical backwardness

يونيو 25, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Many historians say that one of the reasons of the US involvement in the Second World War was the concern from the German technical superiority, they say that by the end of the war, the German weapons were superior to the western and eastern weapons and that the great technical development represented by the American nuclear bomb was made by German minds. Since then, Washington feels comfortable regarding its technical superiority in the world, its trust and reassurance have been increased with the revolution of information and communications led by American minds and companies, but after scurrility it was noticed that Washington became highly worried during the last decade, since it had no capabilities to wage a war. The American leaders recognize the superiority of Russia in the conventional and strategic weapons, therefore they have to avoid the confrontation with Russia in their next wars but just to exert pressure on it to neutralize it, because the economic concern from the Russian weapons market has not occurred yet, but it is expected to occur   in the next decade. While the imminent concern is from China which the source of its increasing economy does not mainly concern America, although it is a growth that threatens the first place of Washington in the global economy, but it is the challenge of the next decade too. Washington’s main concern is the superiority of China in the communication techniques which form the pillar of the new global economy.

Experts say that China will lead the communication market by the next year. Huawei Company was superior and unique in producing the fifth- generation technology of the smart phones; it is the generation that will replace the personal and office computers with technical qualifications that allow the completion of all technical complicated transactions and processes in small size and through a flexible screen that can be extended virtually and with high processing capacities. Most importantly, this generation will mean the transfer to robotics in driving cars, managing business remotely, making accounts, and managing offices and exchanges, it ensures home and office welfare and security by controlling home and office appliances, but the most dangerous thing is that it will change a lot of war tools and forms. Experts say that the partnership negotiations experienced by the American companies with Huawei have not succeeded in controlling the new technology, they think that the economic war on China includes negotiating pressure on the fifth generation technologies and that one of the goals of oil embargo on Iran is to exert pressure on the economic growth of China and putting it in parallel with winning in negotiations on the fifth-generation technologies.

The Americans think that they can neutralize Russia by restricting the cooperation regarding the issues of North Korea, Venezuela, and Ukraine, as they thought they can do that in the war on Syria, but they are reaching to the last quarter of confrontation. Everyone knows the rules of engagement and knows his locations in the battlefield “Russia, China, and Iran”; the war of weapons with Russia, the war of geopolitics with Iran, and the war of technology with China. The Russian-Chinese-Iranian tripartite is sharing the burdens of confrontation and the roles in fronts from Syria to Korea to Venezuela realizing that it is one war, and that any American victory over one party will reflect on the others. As much as this tripartite is trying to avoid a war due to the American hysteria which is unable to recognize that the world has changed. This tripartite is trying to show that the American loss will be resounding at the hands of the allies whom are described by Washington as small players. Nineteen years ago, Hezbollah was classified among the secondary players, but now it becomes among the main players due to its achievement in the historic victory over the Israeli occupation of the south of Lebanon. Now it is turning into a source of horror in all the American analyses of the balances of war, as the resistance forces in the region and the world, which achieved deterrent capabilities as the experiences of Yemen, Iraq, Korea, and Venezuela. Therefore, America must fight them before it finds itself alone facing Iran, Russia, and China.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

واشنطن خائفة من التخلف التقني؟ 

مايو 22, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– يقول الكثير من المؤرخين إن أحد أسباب الدخول الأميركي على خط الحرب العالمية الثانية كان القلق من التفوّق التقني الألماني، ويقول هؤلاء إنه حتى نهاية الحرب كانت الأسلحة الألمانية تتفوّق على الأسلحة الغربيّة والشرقيّة التي واجهتها في الحرب، وإن التطور التقني الكبير الذي مثلته القنبلة النووية الأميركية كان نتاج عقول ألمانية، ومنذ ذلك التاريخ واشنطن مرتاحة إلى تفوقها التكنولوجي في العالم، وزادت ثقة واطمئناناً مع ثورة المعلوماتية والاتصالات التي قادتها عقول وشركات أميركية، لكن التدقيق يفيد بأن القلق عاد إلى واشنطن خلال العقد الأخير وبقوة، من دون أن تكون لديها مقدرات خوض حرب كالحرب العالمية الثانية. فالقادة الأميركيون يعترفون بتفوّق في مجال الأسلحة التقليدية والاستراتيجية لحساب روسيا، ولذلك عليهم في خوض حروبهم الأخرى تفادي المواجهة مع موسكو، والاكتفاء بالضغط عليها، والمناورة بين الترغيب والترهيب لتحييدها، لأن القلق الاقتصادي من سوق السلاح الروسي لم يحِن وقته بعد، ويتوقع بلوغه خلال العقد المقبل، بينما مصدر القلق الداهم هو الصين، التي لا يشكل مصدر نمو اقتصادها المتزايد سبب القلق الرئيس للأميركيين، وهو نمو يهدّد بإزاحة واشنطن من تصدر المكانة الأولى بين الاقتصادات العالمية، لكنه تحدي العقد المقبل أيضاً، مصدر القلق الكبير هو تفوق الصين في تقنيات الاتصالات التي تشكل عصب الاقتصاد العالمي الجديد.

– يتحدّث الخبراء عن أن انتقال مركز القيادة في سوق الاتصالات إلى الصين في العام المقبل بعدما حققت شركة هواوي الصينية التفوق والتفرّد في إنتاج تقنية الجيل الخامس من الهواتف الذكية، وهو الجيل الذي سيحل مكان الكمبيوترات الفردية والمكتبية، بمؤهلات تقنية تتيح إنجاز كل المعاملات والعمليات التقنية المعقدة بحجم صغير وشاشة مرنة قابلة للتوسّع افتراضياً، وقدرات معالجة مرتفعة. والأهم أن هذا الجيل سيعني الانتقال إلى عصر الروبوت بالتحكم الذي يتيحه بقيادة السيارات، وإدارة الأعمال عن بعد، وتحريك الحسابات وإدارة المكاتب والبورصات، وتأمين الرفاه والأمان المنزلي والمكتبي، بالتحكم بالأجهزة المنزلية والمكتبية. والأخطر أنها ستغيّر الكثير في أدوات الحرب وأشكالها. ويقول الخبراء إن مفاوضات الشراكة التي خاضتها الشركات الأميركية مع شركة هواوي لم تنجح في السيطرة على التقنية الجديدة، ويعتقد الخبراء أن الحرب الاقتصادية على الصين هي في جزء منها ضغط تفاوضي على تقنيات الجيل الخامس، وإن بعضاً من أهداف الحصار النفطي على إيران هو الضغط على نمو الصين الاقتصادي، ووضعه في كفة موازية للفوز بالمفاوضات حول تقنيات الجيل الخامس.

– يعتقد الأميركيون أنهم قادرون على تحييد روسيا بحصر التعاون في ملفات كوريا الشمالية وفنزويلا وأوكرانيا، كما اعتقدوا من قبل خلال الحرب على سورية بفعل شيء مشابه، لكنهم يصلون إلى الفصل الأخير من المواجهة، واللعبة تجري على الملأ، حيث الكل يعلم قواعد الاشتباك ويعرف مواقعه على رقعة القتال، روسيا والصين وإيران، معركة السلاح مع روسيا وحرب الجغرافيا السياسية مع إيران، وحرب التكنولوجيا مع الصين، والثلاثي الروسي الصيني الإيراني يتقاسم أعباء المواجهة والأدوار التبادلية في جبهاتها، من سورية إلى كوريا إلى فنزويلا مدركاً أنها حرب واحدة، وأن أي نصر أميركي في أي من مفرداتها سينعكس على سائر المفردات، وبالقدر الذي يسعى الثلاثي لتفادي اندلاع حرب مجنونة بفعل الهيستيريا الأميركية العاجزة عن الاعترف بأن العالم قد تغير، يعمل الثلاثي على نزع الأنياب الأميركية وتظهير المواجهة كحرب أشباح، يستحيل خوضها بوجه أطراف الثلاثي مباشرة، وإظهار أن الخسارة الأميركية ستكون مدوّية على أيدي الحلفاء الذين تصفهم واشنطن باللاعبين الصغار، وقد ظهر في مثل هذه الأيام قبل تسعة عشر عاماً، ان حزب الله الذي كان يُحسب بين الصغار يومها، قد دخل نادي الكبار بفعل الإنجاز المحقق بانتصاره التاريخي على الاحتلال الإسرائيلي لجنوب لبنان، وها هو يتحوّل إلى مصدر رعب في كل التحليلات الأميركية لموازين الحرب، ومثله وعلى خطاه سارت قوى مقاومة في المنطقة والعالم وحققت قدرات رادعة كما تقول تجارب اليمن والعراق وكوريا وفنزويلا، وسيكون على الأميركي أن يقاتلهم قبل أن يجد نفسه مباشرة وجهاً لوجه مع إيران وروسيا والصين.

Related Videos

Related News

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

May 15, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permission

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk aboutRussia is uneasy over the destabilizatihttp://by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permissionon of Tehran, and on other hotspots the powers’ positions are clear.

Even veiled by thick layers of diplomatic fog, the overlapping meetings in Sochi between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov still offer tantalizing geopolitical nuggets.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov did his best to smooth the utterly intractable, admitting there was “no breakthrough yet” during the talks but at least the US “demonstrated a constructive approach.”

Putin told Pompeo that after his 90-minute phone call with Trump, initiated by the White House, and described by Ushakov as “very good,” the Russian president “got the impression that the [US] president was inclined to re-establish Russian-American relations and contacts to resolve together the issues that are of mutual interest to us.”

That would imply a Russiagate closure. Putin told Pompeo, in no uncertain terms, that Moscow never interfered in the US elections, and that the Mueller report proved that there was no connection between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

This adds to the fact Russiagate has been consistently debunked by the best independent American investigators such as the VIPS group.   

‘Interesting’ talk on Iran

Let’s briefly review what became public of the discussions on multiple (hot and cold) conflict fronts – Venezuela, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran.

Venezuela – Ushakov reiterated the Kremlin’s position: “Any steps that may provoke a civil war in the country are inadmissible.” The future of President Maduro was apparently not part of the discussion.

That brings to mind the recent Arctic Council summit. Both Lavrov and Pompeo were there. Here’s a significant exchange:

Lavrov: I believe you don’t represent the South American region, do you?

Pompeo: We represent the entire hemisphere.

Lavrov: Oh, the hemisphere. Then what’s the US doing in the Eastern Hemisphere, in Ukraine, for instance?

There was no response from Pompeo.

North Korea – Even acknowledging that the Trump administration is “generally ready to continue working [with Pyongyang] despite the stalemate at the last meeting, Ushakov again reiterated the Kremlin’s position: Pyongyang will not give in to “any type of pressure,” and North Korea wants “a respectful approach” and international security guarantees.

Afghanistan – Ushakov noted Moscow is very much aware that the Taliban are getting stronger. So the only way out is to find a “balance of power.” There was a crucial trilateral in Moscow on April 25 featuring Russia, China and the US, where they all called on the Taliban to start talking with Kabul as soon as possible.

Iran – Ushakov said the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, was “briefly discussed.”.He would only say the discussion was “interesting.”

Talk about a larger than life euphemism. Moscow is extremely uneasy over the possibility of a destabilization of Iran that allows a free transit of jihadis from the Caspian to the Caucasus.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Diplomatic sources – from Russia and Iran – confirm, off the record, there have been secret talks among the three pillars of Eurasian integration – Russia, China and Iran – about Chinese and Russian guarantees in the event the Trump administration’s drive to strangle Tehran to death takes an ominous turn.

This is being discussed at the highest levels in Moscow and Beijing. The bottom line: Russia-China won’t allow Iran to be destroyed.

But it’s quite understandable that Ushakov wouldn’t let that information slip through a mere press briefing.

Wang Yi and other deals

On multiple fronts, what was not disclosed by Ushakov is way more fascinating than what’s now on the record. There’s absolutely no way Russian hypersonic weapons were not also discussed, as well as China’s intermediate-range missiles capable of reaching any US military base encircling or containing China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, third right, meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, center left, in Sochi on 14 May 2019. Photo: AFP / Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service / Anadolu

The real deal was, in fact, not Putin-Pompeo or Pompeo-Lavrov in Sochi. It was actually Lavrov-Wang Yi (the Chinese Foreign Minister), the day before in Moscow.

A US investment banker doing business in Russia told me: “Note how Pompeo ran like mad to Sochi. We are frightened and overstretched.”

Diplomats later remarked: “Pompeo looked solemn afterwards. Lavrov sounded very diplomatic and calm.” It’s no secret in Moscow’s top diplomatic circles that the Chinese Politburo overruled President Xi Jinping’s effort to find an accommodation to Trump’s tariff offensive. The tension was visible in Pompeo’s demeanor.

In terms of substance, it’s remarkable how Lavrov and Wang Yi talked about, literally, everything: Syria, Iran, Venezuela, the Caspian, the Caucasus, New Silk Roads (BRI), Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), missiles, nuclear proliferation.

Or as Lavrov diplomatically put it: “In general, Russia-China cooperation is one of the key factors in maintaining the international security and stability, establishing a multipolar world order. . . . Our states cooperate closely in various multilateral organizations, including the UN, G20, SCO, BRICS and RIC [Russia, India, China trilateral forum], we are working on aligning the integration potential of the EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative, with potentially establishing [a] larger Eurasian partnership.”

The strategic partnership is in sync on Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan – they want a solution brokered by the SCO. And on North Korea, the message could not have been more forceful.

After talking to Wang Yi, Lavrov stressed that contacts between Washington and North Korea “proceeded in conformity with the road map that we had drafted together with China, from confidence restoration measures to further direct contacts.”

This is a frank admission that Pyongyang gets top advice from the Russia-China strategic partnership. And there’s more: “We hope that at a certain point a comprehensive agreement will be achieved on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and on the creation of a system of peace and security in general in Northeast Asia, including concrete firm guarantees of North Korea’s security.”

Translation: Russia and China won’t back down on guaranteeing North Korea’s security. Lavrov said: “Such guarantees will be not easy to provide, but this is an absolutely mandatory part of a future agreement. Russia and China are prepared to work on such guarantees.”

Reset, maybe?

The indomitable Maria Zakharova, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, may have summed it all up. A US-Russia reset may even, eventually, happen. Certainly, it won’t be of the Hillary Clinton kind, especially when current CIA director Gina Haspel is shifting most of the agency’s resources towards Iran and Russia.

Top Russian military analyst Andrei Martyanov was way more scathingRussia won’t break with China, because the US “doesn’t have any more a geopolitical currency to ‘buy’ Russia – she is out of [the] price range for the US.”

That left Ushakov with his brave face, confirming there may be a Trump-Putin meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka next month.

“We can organize a meeting ‘on the go’ with President Trump. Alternatively, we can sit down for a more comprehensive discussion.”

Under the current geopolitical incandescence, that’s the best rational minds can hope for.

 

Iran Squeezed Between Imperial Psychos and European Cowards

By Pepe Escobar – with permission and cross posted with Consortium News

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

The Trump administration unilaterally cheated on the 2015 multinational, UN-endorsed JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. It has imposed an illegal, worldwide financial and energy blockade on all forms of trade with Iran — from oil and gas to exports of iron, steel, aluminum and copper. For all practical purposes, and in any geopolitical scenario, this is a declaration of war.

Successive U.S. governments have ripped international law to shreds; ditching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is only the latest instance. It doesn’t matter that Tehran has fulfilled all its commitments to the deal — according to UN inspectors. Once the leadership in Tehran concluded that the U.S. sanctions tsunami is fiercer than ever, it decided to begin partially withdrawing from the deal.

President Hassan Rouhani was adamant: Iran has not left the JCPOA — yet. Tehran’s measures are legal under the framework of articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA — and European officials were informed in advance. But it’s clear the EU3 (Germany, France, Britain), who have always insisted on their vocal support for the JCPOA, must work seriously to alleviate the U.S.-provoked economic disaster to Iran if Tehran has any incentive to continue to abide by the agreement.

Protests in front of former U.S. embassy in Tehran after U.S. decision to withdraw from JCPOA, May 8, 2018. (Hossein Mersadi via Wikimedia Commons)

Russia and China — the pillars of Eurasia integration, to which Iran adheres — support Tehran’s position. This was discussed extensively in Moscow by Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Javad Zarif, perhaps the world’s top two foreign ministers.

At the same time, it’s politically naïve to believe the Europeans will suddenly grow a backbone.

The comfortable assumption in Berlin, Paris and London was that Tehran could not afford to leave the JCPOA even if it was not receiving any of the economic rewards promised in 2015. Yet now the EU3 are facing the hour of truth.

It’s hard to expect anything meaningful coming from an enfeebled Chancellor Angela Merkel, with Berlin already targeted by Washington’s trade ire; a Brexit-paralyzed Britain; and a massively unpopular President Emmanuel Macron in France already threatening to impose his own sanctions if Tehran does not agree to limit its ballistic missile program. Tehran will never allow inspections over its thriving missile industry – and this was never part of the JCPOA to begin with.

As it stands, the EU3 are not buying Iranian oil. They are meekly abiding by the U.S. banking and oil/gas sanctions — which are now extended to manufacturing sectors — and doing nothing to protect Iran from its nasty effects. The implementation of INSTEX, the SWIFT alternative for trade with Iran, is languishing. Besides expressing lame “regrets” about the U.S. sanctions, the EU3 are de facto playing the game on the side of U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates; and by extension against Russia, China and Iran.

Rise of the Imperial Psychos

As Tehran de facto kicked the ball to the European court, both EU3 options are dire. To meaningfully defend the JCPOA will invite a ballistic reaction from the Trump administration. To behave like poodles — the most probable course of action — means emboldening even more the psychopaths doubling as imperial functionaries bent on a hot war against Iran at all costs; Koch brothers Big Oil asset and enraptured evangelist, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and paid Mujahideen-e Khalq asset and notorious intel manipulator, National Security Advisor John Bolton.

The Pompeo-Bolton gangster maneuver is hardly Bismarck’s Realpolitik. It consists of relentlessly pushing Tehran to make a mistake, any mistake, in terms of “violating” its obligations under the JCPOA, so that this may be sold to gullible American public opinion as the proverbial “threat” to the “rules-based order” doubling as a casus belli.

There’s one thing the no-holds-barred U.S. economic war against Iran has managed to achieve: internal unity in the Islamic Republic. Team Rouhani’s initial aim for the JCPOA was to open up to Western trade (trade with Asia was always on) and somewhat curtail the power of the IRGC, or Revolutionary Guards, which control vast sectors of the Iranian economy.

Washington’s economic war proved instead the IRGC was right all along, echoing the finely-tuned geopolitical sentiment of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who always emphasized the Americans cannot be trusted, ever.

And as much as Washington has branded the IRGC a “terrorist organization,” Tehran replied in kind, branding CENTCOM the same.

Independent Persian Gulf oil traders dismiss the notion that the kleptocrat House of Saud — de facto run by Jared “of Arabia” Kushner’s Whatsapp pal Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the Saudi  crown prince – holds up to 2.5 million barrels of oil a day in spare capacity capable of replacing Iran’s 2 million barrels of exports (out of 3.45 million of total daily production). The House of Saud seems more interested in hiking oil prices for Asian customers.

London protests at Saudi bombing of Yemen. March 2018. (Alisdare Hickson via Flickr)

Faulty Blockade

Washington’s energy trade blockade of Iran is bound to fail.

China will continue to buy its 650,000 barrels a day – and may even buy more. Multiple Chinese companies trade technology and industrial services for Iranian oil.

Pakistan, Iraq and Turkey — all bordering Iran — will continue to buy Iranian high-quality light crude by every method of payment (including gold) and transportation available, formal or informal. Baghdad’s trade relationship with Tehran will continue to thrive.

As economic suffocation won’t suffice, Plan B is — what else — the threat of a hot war.

It’s by now established that the info, in fact rumors, about alleged Iranian maneuvers to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf was relayed to Bolton by the Mossad, at the White House, with Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat personally briefing Bolton.

Everyone is aware of the corollary: a “reposition of assets” (in Pentagonese) — from the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group deployment to four B-52 bombers landing in Al Udeid Air base in Qatar, all part of a “warning” to Iran.

A pre-war roaring crescendo now engulfs the Lebanese front as well as the Iranian front.

Reasons for Psychotic Rage

Iran’s GDP is similar to Thailand’s, and its military budget is similar to Singapore’s. Bullying Iran is a geopolitical and geo-economic absurdity. Iran may be an emerging Global South actor — it could easily be a member of the G20 — but can never be construed as a “threat” to the U.S.

Yet Iran provokes psychopathic imperial functionaries to a paroxysm of rage for three serious reasons. Neocons never mind that trying to destroy Iraq cost over $6 trillion — and it was a major war crime, a political disaster, and an economic abyss all rolled into one. Trying to destroy Iran will cost untold trillions more.

The most glaring reason for the irrational hatred is the fact the Islamic Republic is one of the very few nations on the planet consistently defying the hegemon — for four decades now.

The second reason is that Iran, just like Venezuela — and this is a combined war front — have committed the supreme anathema; trading on energy bypassing the petrodollar, the foundation stone of U.S. hegemony.

The third (invisible) reason is that to attack Iran is to disable emerging Eurasia integration, just like using NSA spying to ultimately put Brazil in the bag was an attack on Latin American integration.

The non-stop hysteria over whether President Donald Trump is being maneuvered into war on Iran by his pet psychopaths – well, he actually directed Iran to “Call me” — eludes the Big Picture. As shown before, a possible shut down of the Strait of Hormuz, whatever the reasons, would be like a major meteor impact on the global economy. And that would inevitably translate as no Trump reelection in 2020.

The Strait of Hormuz would never need to be blocked if all the oil Iran is able to export is bought by China, other Asian clients and even Russia — which could relabel it. But Tehran wouldn’t blink on blocking Hormuz if faced with total economic strangulation.

According to a dissident U.S. intel expert, “the United States is at a clear disadvantage in that if the Strait of Hormuz is shut the U.S. collapses. But if the U.S. can divert Russia from defending Iran, then Iran can be attacked and Russia will have accomplished nothing, as the neocons do not want detente with Russia and China. Trump does want detente but the Deep State does not intend to permit it.”

Assuming this scenario is correct, the usual suspects in the United States government are trying to divert Putin from the Strait of Hormuz question while keeping Trump weakened, as the neocons proceed 24/7 on the business of strangling Iran. It’s hard to see Putin falling for this not exactly elaborate trap.

Not Bluffing

So what happens next? Professor Mohammad Marandi at the Faculty of World Studies of the University of Tehran offers quite a sobering perspective: “After 60 days Iran will push things even further. I don’t think the Iranians are bluffing. They will also be pushing back at the Saudis and the Emiratis by different means.”

Marandi, ominously, sees “further escalation” ahead:

“Iranians have been preparing for war with the Unites States ever since the Iraq invasion in 2003. After what they’ve seen in Libya, in Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, they know that the Americans and Europeans are utterly brutal. The whole shore of the Persian Gulf on the Iranian side and the Gulf of Oman is full of tunnels and underground high-tech missiles. The Persian Gulf is full of ships equipped with highly developed sea-to-sea missiles. If there is real war, all the oil and gas facilities in the region will be destroyed, all the tankers will be destroyed.”

And if that show comes to pass, Marandi regards the Strait of Hormuz as the “sideshow”:

“The Americans will be driven out of Iraq. Iraq exports 4 million barrels of oil a day; that would probably come to an end, through strikes and other means. It would be catastrophic for the Americans. It would be catastrophic for the world – and for Iran as well. But the Americans would simply not win.”

So as Marandi explains it — and Iranian public opinion now largely agrees — the Islamic Republic has leverage because they know “the Americans can’t afford to go to war. Crazies like Pompeo and Bolton may want it, but many in the establishment don’t.”

Tehran may have developed a modified MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) framework as leverage, mostly to push Trump ally MbS to cool down. “Assuming,” adds Marandi, “the madmen don’t get the upper hand, and if they do, then it’s war. But for the time being, I thinks that’s highly unlikely.”

Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter transits Strait of Hormuz, May 2012. (U.S. Navy/Alex R. Forster)

All Options on the Table?

In Cold War 2.0 terms, from Central Asia to the Eastern Mediterranean and from the Indian Ocean to the Caspian Sea, Tehran is able to count on quite a set of formal and informal alliances. That not only centers on the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad-Tehran-Herat axis, but also includes Turkey and Qatar. And most important of all, the top actors on the Eurasian integration chessboard: the Russia and China in strategic partnership.

When Zarif met Lavrov last week in Moscow, they discussed virtually everything: Syria (they negotiate together in the Astana, now Nur-Sultan process), the Caspian, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (of which Iran will become a member), the JCPOA and Venezuela.

The Trump administration was dragged kicking and screaming to meet Kim Jong-Un at the same table because of the DPRK’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests. And then Kim ordered extra missile tests because, in his own words, as quoted by KCNA, “genuine peace and security of the country are guaranteed only by the strong physical force capable of defending its sovereignty.”

Global South Watching

The overwhelming majority of Global South nations are watching the U.S. neocon offensive to ultimately strangle “the Iranian people”, aware more than ever that Iran may be bullied to extinction because it does not posses a nuclear deterrent. The IRGC has reached the same conclusion.

That would mean the death of the JCPOA – and the Return of the Living Dead of “all options on the table.”

But then, there’ll be twists and turns in the Art of the (Demented) Deal. So what if, and it’s a major “if”, Donald Trump is being held hostage by his pet psychopaths?

Let The Dealer speak:

“We hope we don’t have to do anything with regard to the use of military force…We can make a deal, a fair deal. … We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons. Not too much to ask. And we would help put them back into great shape. They’re in bad shape right now. I look forward to the day where we can actually help Iran. We’re not looking to hurt Iran. I want them to be strong and great and have a great economy… We have no secrets. And they can be very, very strong, financially. They have great potential.”

Then again, Ayatollah Khamenei said: the Americans cannot be trusted, ever.

بويتن وترامب: عندما ينضج التفاوض

مايو 11, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– الأكيد من النص المعلن في البيت الأبيض حول المحادثة الهاتفية المطوّلة بين الرئيسين الأميركي دونالد ترامب والروسي فلاديمير بوتين حول نتائج تحقيقات المدعي العام الأميركي في الاتهامات الموجّهة للرئيس ترامب بالإفادة من تدخل روسي استخباري في الانتخابات، أن الرئيس ترامب كان يريد للتحقيقات أن تنتهي بتبرئته لتطلق يديه في الذهاب لأي تفاوض ممكن أو لازم مع موسكو، وأن بعض المواقف التصعيدية السابقة بوجه روسيا كان إثباتاً لهذه البراءة أكثر مما هو تعبير عن مقتضيات المصلحة السياسية الأميركية، وأنه وقد تخفف من أثقال الاتهامات فقد صار بمستطاعه استعادة الموضوعية التي يجب أن يتصرف من خلالها الرئيس الأميركي مع الرئيس الروسي.

– هذا التوقيت ليس أحادي الحضور في الحديث عن نضج التفاوض بين موسكو وواشنطن، فيما تتزاحم محطات التلاقي بين أركان إدارتي موسكو وواشنطن. فالمحادثة الهاتفية الاستثنائية في مدتها التي بلغت ساعة ونصفاً واتسمت بالتفاهم الكبير، كما قال الرئيس ترامب مغرداً، تلاها لقاء بين وزيري الخارجية الأميركي مايك بومبيو والروسي سيرغي لافروف على هامش اجتماعات مجلس القطب الشمالي امتد ساعة خرج بعدها الوزيران يتحدثان عن إيجابيات كثيرة وفرصاً كبيرة للتفاهم، تمهيداً للقاء سيجمعهما في سوتشي بعد أيام، وقد استبقه بومبيو بالإعلان عن وصوله إلى موسكو قبل يومين من موعد سوتشي للقاءات تمهيدية سيتوّجها ويتوّج زيارته بلقاء الرئيس بوتين، ليتم اللقاء التاريخي بين بوتين وترامب في اليابان على هامش قمة العشرين الشهر المقبل.

– في الطريق إلى لقاء الرئيسين بوتين وترامب، إعلان أميركي للمرة الأولى عن «تفهم العملية المحدودة لروسيا في إدلب»، وحديث علني لبومبيو عن ملفات للحوار تمتد من سورية إلى أوكرانيا وإيران وفنزويلا وكوريا الشمالية. وبالتدقيق سيتبين أنه في كل منها حاولت واشنطن لسنوات التفرّد ووصلت لطريق مسدود، بدءاً من أوكرانيا التي فقدت رأس الرهان على استخدامها منصة تصعيد بوجه روسيا مع الفشل الانتخابي للرئيس السابق المدعوم من واشنطن كرأس حربة بوجه روسيا، وروسيا تدعو لتطبيق تفاهمات مينسك. وفي فنزويلا فشل مزدوج للانقلاب النيابي فالانقلاب العسكري، وروسيا حاضرة للتعاون التفاوضي. وفي سورية تحتاج واشنطن لتغطية قرار انسحابها بتسليم روسيا إدارة الملف وضمان مستقبل الأكراد من ضمن تفاهمها مع الدولة السورية وتركيا بعدما صار نصر الدولة السورية الشامل تحصيل حاصل ومسألة وقت. وفي كوريا الشمالية انتهى الرهان الأميركي على مفاوضات ثنائية من وراء ظهر روسيا إلى مهزلة، وتساقطت الوعود الأميركية بقرب التوصل لتفاهم الواحد تلو الآخر، بينما أنتج لقاء الرئيس بوتين مع زعيم كوريا الشمالية كيم جونغ أون ما يمنح روسيا صفة الوسيط القادر.

– يشكل الملف الإيراني العقدة الأهم، خصوصاً بعدما سقطت النظرية الأميركية بالقدرة على الحصول على تطمينات التفاهم النووي وحرمان إيران من مكتسباته، فالردّ الإيراني عملياً يقول إن إيران حصلت من التفاهم على سقوط لا رجعة فيه لعقوبات أممية، ولم تعد بحاجة للتفاهم وهي تستطيع تحميل أميركا وأوروبا مسؤولية إفشاله، وقادرة على التعايش مع عقوباتهم وقد فعلت من قبل لسنوات ما قبل العام 2015 موّلت خلالها اقتصادها وقوى المقاومة ومستلزمات صمود سورية بوجه الحرب الأميركية، وجاءت الحشود العسكرية الأميركية تحرشاً بديلاً بإيران يعترف ضمناً بفشل العقوبات في جلبها للتفاوض، وتشكل إشارات ترامب لتمايزه عن مستشاره للأمن القومي جون بولتون وإعلان رغبته بحوار مباشر بلا شروط مع إيران، كما الدعوات الأوروبية لتفاوض مباشر أميركي إيراني، مقدّمات لا يمكن لغير روسيا تحويلها إلى مناسبة لتفاوض تقبل به إيران من موقع يحفظ صورتها ومصالحها، وترامب أكثر مَن يدرك أن حديثه عن صفقة القرن حول القضية الفلسطينية بلا أفق، وأنه يفيد في ابتزاز أموال الخليج، لكنه لا ينفع في زرع الخوف في إيران وقوى المقاومة.

– ترامب المهتم بالتمهيد لترشحه لولاية ثانية من موقع النجاح، لا يملك ذلك بالتصعيد الذي يذهب إلى المجهول ولا يجلب له إلا صورة المتهوّر العاجز، بينما صورة القوي والقادر على صناعة التفاهمات هي ما يحتاجه في العام الذي يسبق بدء الموسم الانتخابي، ويعنيه كثيراً أن يذهب للانتخابات وهو يقول إنه نجح في التأسيس لمفاوضات جادة حول ملفات كوريا وفنزويلا وأوكرانيا والسلاح النووي وسورية وإيران بمقدار نجاحه في رسم صورة القوة الأميركية، وشرط هذا هو التشارك مع موسكو الذي رفضت واشنطن الإقرار به كحاجة وضرورة لعقود طويلة منذ سقوط جدار برلين، وشكلت الدعوة له أحد عناوين الحملة الانتخابية للرئيس الذي يُقال أنه يفي بوعوده الانتخابية ولو عطلته رياح الداخل الأميركي والرهانات الخاطئة وأوهام القوة إلى حين.

%d bloggers like this: