DPRK fires ballistic missile, vows ‘fiercer’ military response

November 17, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

DPRK launches a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday, according to Seoul’s military.

A woman watches a TV broadcasting a news report on DPRK firing a ballistic missile off its east coast, in Seoul, S. Korea. (Reuters)

The latest in a series of launches aimed at downplaying western provocations and threats, DPRK launched a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday, according to Seoul’s military, as Pyongyang threatened a “fiercer” military response to the US and its regional allies.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military had “detected around 10:48 am (0148 GMT) one short-range ballistic missile fired from the Wonsan area in Kangwon province.”

“The military has stepped up monitoring and guard and is maintaining utmost readiness in close coordination with the US,” it added.

On the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, US President Joe Biden spoke with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this week about DPRK’s recent spate of missile tests.

After a series of missile launches fuelled concerns that DPRK would soon conduct its seventh alleged nuclear test, the US President urged China to exert pressure on its ally. Biden also spoke Sunday with the prime ministers of Japan and South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol and Fumio Kishida, to discuss ways to counter the threat posed by DPRK’s “unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs,” according to the White House.

Read next: DPRK launches 4 short-range ballistic missiles: Reports

DPRK’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Choe Son Hui, slammed Thursday those talks, saying they were “bringing the situation on the Korean peninsula to an unpredictable phase.”

“The US bolstered offer of extended deterrence and the daily-increasing military activities of the allied forces around the Korean peninsula are foolish acts,” Choe said in a statement reported by state news agency KCNA. 

The more efforts Washington will make to fortify its security pact with Seoul and Tokyo, “the fiercer the DPRK’s military counteraction will be,” Choe said.

According to experts, the launch of the missile on Thursday was timed to coincide with the Foreign Minister’s statement from Pyongyang.

DPRK “fired the missile after releasing the statement hours earlier in an attempt to justify the launch to send its message to the US and Japan,” Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute told AFP

UN gridlock

DPRK launched numerous missiles earlier this month, including a barrage on November 2 that included 23 missiles, more than it did in 2017, the year of “fire and fury” in which Kim and the US President at the time, Donald Trump, traded insults

Hundreds of US and South Korean warplanes, including B-1B heavy bombers, took part in joint air drills, which have long sparked strong reactions from DPRK.

Read next: US, Japan conduct joint drills amid DPRK missile launches

Experts claim DPRK is seizing the opportunity to conduct “prohibited” missile tests, confident of avoiding additional UN sanctions due to the Ukraine-related gridlock at the UN.

China, Pyongyang’s main diplomatic and economic ally, joined Russia in May in vetoing a US-led bid at the UN Security Council to tighten sanctions on DPRK.

DPRK warns US, allies of proportional response to bolstering US extended deterrence

DPRK Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui warned the US and its regional allies on Thursday that Pyongyang will respond proportionally to Washington’s strengthening of extended deterrence and intensification of provocative military activities in the region.

“The keener the US is on the ‘bolstered offer of extended deterrence to its allies and the more they intensify provocative and bluffing military activities on the Korean peninsula and in the region, the fiercer the DPRK’s military counteraction will be, in direct proportion to it, and it will pose a more serious, realistic and inevitable threat to the US and its vassal forces,” the Foreign Minister said in a statement, as quoted by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Read next: DPRK rigorously warns US and South Korea amid Vigilant Storm drills

The Minister noted that “staged large-scale war drills” of the US and its allies in the region not only failed to contain Pyongyang but also “resulted in increasing their security crisis.”

“The US ‘bolstered offer of extended deterrence and the daily-increasing military activities of the allied forces around the Korean peninsula are foolish acts that will bring more serious instability to the US and its allies,” the Minister said.
Since the beginning of 2022, DPRK has conducted over 30 missile tests. Pyongyang launched more than 20 missiles of various types on November 2.

Pyongyang maintains that DPRK’s military activities are in response to provocations by South Korea and its allies, the United States and Japan.

Super-States in Core Eurasian Geopolitics – Utopian Proposition?

November 08, 2022

Source

by Straight-Bat

  1. Introduction

A question that troubled me often involves different kinds of “state apparatus” witnessed in the history of core Eurasia – principalities, city-states, kingdoms, empires, nation-states etc. Every possible combination of a geographical region (within core Eurasia) and a particular epoch represents a specific historical manifestation of a particular type of geopolitical entity – hence, in the 18th century while Caspian Sea region hosted a number of principalities like emirates/khanates, the Chinese mainland hosted an empire. The question I struggled with: is there a particular form of geopolitical entity that can be termed as better (or worse) for the society compared to the others? An extension of the same question would be whether the history of humankind follows any particular trajectory so far as development of political institutions are concerned. An offshoot of that question is what Marx famously referred to as the ultimate destination of the destiny of humankind – (class-less) ‘stateless’ society. While searching for a plausible response to my query, I also discovered an interesting phenomenon: a specific geopolitical entity can be beneficial and detrimental to the interests of a society at the same time, and with passage of time its impacts on the society transforms dynamically. Thus, an ‘empire’ could be destroyer of the society in a small principality while acting as a facilitator for trade and commerce for the rest of empire – Mongol empire in 13th century was a classic example of this. Russian empire elicits an example of how the positive role of the ‘state apparatus’ in providing arable land in central Asia to the peasants during 18th-19th century transformed into state repression (guided by the large land-owning kulaks) in the second half of the 19th century. Yet another interesting case study could be how the central Asian region around Caspian Sea-Aral Sea-Amu Dariya-Syr Dariya acted as the trade routes (a significant part of the famous Silk Route stretched from eastern China to Mediterranean Sea) that benefitted its aristocracy much more profoundly than the commoners who would actually execute the physical process of goods transportation and arrangements of other logistics. So, there is no straight answer to the basic question I mentioned in the beginning. Rather, I am happy to put the question in an altogether different format – assuming the Marxist idea of a stateless (class-less) society as inevitable, my quest would be to explore which kind geopolitical entity is suitable for bringing about such revolutionary change in the society to transform the selfish unjust and unequal society into a just and equitable society where 90% of the population, the plebs not only gained equal rights legally but, more importantly, they exercise those rights.

Another question, not completely unrelated, that has been bothering me relates to the geography, and history of the single geographic landmass that is known in academic books in two parts – Asia, Europe. To be specific, I have been deliberating on the question whether core Eurasia could really be treated as the ‘heartland’, control of which is a prerequisite to exercise total control over the world? Before one could sincerely take up the issue for a discussion, he/she must be able to grasp the definition of ‘core Eurasia’. Geologically, ‘Eurasia’ is a tectonic plate that lies under much of Europe and Asia. However, there is no well-defined geographic boundary of ‘core Eurasia’ in international politics. The European (geopolitical) strategists and Asian intellectuals converge on this subject remarkably well — the landmass that lies between Pacific Ocean in the east and river Vistula plus Carpathian mountain range in the west, and between Arctic Ocean in the north to the line joining Arabian Sea coast-Himalayan mountain range-South China Sea coast in the south can be termed as ‘core Eurasia’. This particular question has a definite answer – ‘core Eurasia’ indeed can be assumed as heartland because of two reasons. Firstly, the countries that dot the entire landscape of core Eurasia are not only home to 25% of the global population currently but has enough arable land, water, and forest resources for a healthy and continuous population growth. Secondly, the entire landmass of core Eurasia hold deposits of minerals, fossil fuels, rare earth, and gems in disproportionately high quantities compared to its share of total surface area of earth. Hence, the human civilization can grow, sustain, and flourish as a stand-alone phenomenon in core Eurasia even if civilizations in other regions of the world fail to sustain – this, in my opinion, is the single most important characteristic of core Eurasia why it may be considered as the ‘heartland’. Readers who are conversant with the works of geopolitics pundits like Brzezinski will easily conclude that I don’t subscribe to Brzezinski’s thought on this issue which was centred around ‘exercising power to control the world’ as he noted, “The control over Eurasia would almost automatically entails Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent.

Having established the fact that there is ample justification for treating core Eurasia as the heartland and having identified the objective of my primary quest as finding out the most appropriate type of geopolitical entity that would facilitate a just exploitation-free society, let me clarify why I’m spending time and effort to author this article. There is a specific background why I’m inclined to get into such a subject. Three to four thousand years back my ancestors roamed in the vast Eurasian steppes with an objective of finding a large inhabitable space to settle down – destiny called them to move to the Indus valley from where they finally spread across the entire south Asian subcontinent. Till now, in our community, when a member passes away, the (direct) descendants have to tie a piece of kush (i.e. long grass) to our body during the grieving period – thus, during the most difficult days of life when one’s parent departs, we remember our origin, the steppe grassland! Apart from that, during the initial 1200 years of current era, my region and people were intellectually involved with the Chinese and Tibetan scholars in a two-way exchange of knowledge, spirituality, religion, trade, and martial art. Buddhist scholars from eastern region of Indian subcontinent traveling to Chinese mainland (including Tibet) were as common as scholars from Chinese mainland staying in Buddhist universities located in the eastern region of Indian subcontinent. Needless to say then, I am concerned about core Eurasia and all those people who inhabit these lands now.

This article is fundamentally based on my thoughts, and I don’t claim to anchor these thoughts on any academic mooring. However, I will present facts based on historical and current affairs and apply rational logic (with minimum role of sentiment) to present my hypothesis. I don’t intend to hurt anybody’s sentiments or sense of patriotism or sense of duty towards own community. I ONLY wish that this article should settle down in the collective memory of all core Eurasian citizens as an abstract idea – may be a ‘utopian’ one – which, in future by 2050 CE, should be discerned by the wise people of all countries and communities, across core Eurasian landmass.

  1. What is Wrong with core Eurasia Currently?

Quite in disagreement with many alt-media reporters and commentators, I would like to argue that core Eurasia presently is going through a seemingly end-less turmoil – economic, political, social, cultural – majority part of which is orchestrated by the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy. I will only list down the current disorders in core Eurasia that has geopolitical and geo-economic implications:

  1. South Korea – not only South Korea (a phantom-state that got created after WW-II) has been turned into a low-cost military-industrial complex to supply military machinery to countries that can’t afford American and European weapons, but the entire South Korean society also has been infested with immoral vulgar and decaying influence of ‘Jewish’ Christianity [link 🡪 https://www.zerohedge.com/medical/scariest-halloween-my-life-120-dead-south-korea-after-crowd-crushing-incident ]. South Korea is a malignant cancer in core Eurasia that has been growing phenomenally with the capital investment by the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy during past 5 decades protected by USA military bases. Unless appropriate treatment is carried out, it will remain a consistent threat to security of core Eurasia
  2. Taiwan – not only Taiwan (a phantom-state that got created after WW-II) has been turned into a ‘giant weapons depot’ by the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy to cause major destruction of industrial belts and technology hubs along the south-east coastal regions of Chinese mainland, but the elite Taiwanese society has also been thoroughly westernized along with tie-up with USA on manufacturing of weapons [link 🡪 https://www.newdelhitimes.com/us-considering-joint-weapons-production-with-taiwan/ ]. Taiwan is another malignant cancer in core Eurasia that has been growing no less remarkably than South Korea (with the capital investment by global oligarchy). Unless appropriate treatment is carried out, it will remain a consistent threat to security of core Eurasia
  3. Kazakhstan – largest of the artificial-states that came into existence in central Asia after the Soviet stooges of the global Zionist-Capitalist clique demolished the USSR in 1991. Over the decades Kazakhstan has become the anchor state for NATO expansion into core Eurasia – in order to develop the interoperability between elements of its armed forces and those of NATO countries, since 2006 Kazakhstan has hosted annual military exercises called “Steppe Eagle”. ‘Kazakhstan’s PfP Training Centre was accredited by NATO as a Partnership Training and Education Centre in December 2010’. The most dangerous activity on the soil of Kazakhstan is the research on biological warfare by USA funding [link 🡪 https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202203/1254486.shtml ]. If Taiwan and South Korea are malignant tumors on the periphery of core Eurasia, Kazakhstan is right at the centre! It will certainly become a future threat to the stability and prosperity of core Eurasia
  4. Kyrghizstan-Tajikistan-Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan – other phantom-states that came into existence in central Asia after the planned demolition of the USSR. Significant social-political-environmental issues exist in these 4 state-lets – (i) Wahhabism, the version of Sunni Islamic extremism is rampant in all these 4 phantom-states coordinated by Turkey plus Saudi Arabia based oligarchy, and the most preposterous matter being that in each of these 4 phantom-states the citizens are instigated on the basis of ‘nationalism’ (against other 3 nationalities) and ‘religion’ (against secular state policy, forcing the government to initiate policies that would force the people adopt Arab-Islamic names, wear hijab for women, abstain from music and sports, exclude women from public life, teach only religious education in Arabic language, preach religious militancy through Islamic jihad, etc.); (ii) Decades of extremely high rate of water consumption have taken their toll on these societies – rapid environmental degeneration; (iii) elites from politics, judiciary and bureaucracy have been involved in operating drug trafficking business in order to extract illicit profit from the drug trade (which primarily originated in Afghanistan coordinated by the Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy mostly based out of Anglo countries and Israel). Undoubtedly these ‘four sisters’ can create more headache for core Eurasia in future
  5. Mongolia – A country where the society apparently loathes to deliberate on modernization of education, industry, and communication. Along with Kazakhstan, Mongolia adds to the geopolitical uncertainties right in the centre of core Eurasia. Till date Moldova offers minimum destabilization to core Eurasia as compared to other regions listed here. However, the local oligarchy is working hand in glove with the global Zionist-Capitalist clique to control the government and force it towards joining NATO block. This country might become a future threat to the security of core Eurasia
  6. Afghanistan – A country where poverty and lawlessness are the general norms, Zionist-Capitalist clique has been running world’s largest drug cartel since past three decades. During the same period, Wahhabism took a new name in Afghanistan – Taliban. These two problems got exacerbated with collapse of government services, and curtailment of foreign aid. Sudden and unilateral withdrawal of USA and NATO military forces from Afghanistan was NOT really sudden – the entire game was planned well in advance. USA based Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy hoped that the ‘Islamic Wahhabism’ will continue to flourish in Afghanistan and Talibani ideology and militants will become the largest export of Afghanistan [link 🡪 https://www.fpri.org/article/2022/05/northern-afghanistan-and-the-new-threat-to-central-asia/ ] Even if the current Taliban government appears to be taking governance seriously, there is every possibility that in the near future, Afghanistan will become the hotbed of ‘Islamic movements’ which will be utilized to overthrow or destabilize governments across core Eurasia
  7. Transcaucasia region –apart from the central Asian artificial countries, Transcaucasia was another region where dissolution of Soviet Union created ‘unstable states’. Unlike other 8 regions listed here, this is a region where two rounds of war were fought resulting in much destruction. Subversion is a norm here rather than exception. A deep analysis would indicate that the intra-regional politics is compelling Georgia-Armenia-Azerbaijan to engage in bitter struggle among themselves to diminish each other thereby fettering countries like Russia and Iran with the problem of refugee and migrants. Undoubtedly Turkey (as a coordinator of Islamic militant gangs that directly/indirectly work for the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy) and USA governments are managing the puppet show staying behind the curtain, but it is doubtful to what extent that will cause rupture in the Eurasian fabric. Having said that, it must be noted that an unstable Transcaucasian region can create troubles for the trade-routes that crisscross this region used by core Eurasia and other countries in Asia and Europe
  8. Moldova – along with Ukraine, Moldova adds to the geopolitical uncertainties in the eastern side of core Eurasia. Till date Moldova offers minimum destabilization to core Eurasia as compared to other regions listed here. However, Zionist-Capitalist clique works overtime here also to control the government and force it towards joining NATO block. The country might become a future threat to the security of core Eurasia
  9. Ukraine – another large artificial-state that witnessed a territorial expansion entirely due to historical undercurrents. Ukraine has been converted into a ‘giant fortress’ by the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy which would have joined NATO to host missile bases (if Russia not made its geopolitical demands that Ukraine will never join NATO clear to the Ukraine government in 2021 end). But, the most dangerous situation for the entire planet is: Ukraine is rushing ahead with research and development of (i) biological, (ii) chemical, (iii) nuclear warfare with funding and technology tie-up with institutions based out of USA, and other Anglo countries. on manufacturing of weapons [link 🡪 https://www.unz.com/mwhitney/uncle-sams-bio-weapons-extravaganza/ ]. If an iota of sanity was left with Ukraine government, they would have concluded a treaty with Russian government within one month of special military operation accepting the terms set by Russia. Instead, the skeletons are coming out of the Ukrainian closet – the Ukrainian government for a long time has been 100% owned by the Jewish oligarchy who wants to mobilize the last citizen of Ukraine because the USA and Anglo countries wish to fight and destroy Russian land and society. Russia and core Eurasia must not allow continuation of such a toxic entity in core Eurasia
  10. Baltic region – region of 3 phantom-states that got created due to the dissolution of the USSR. This region is special because the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy has been driving the government policies such that during past three decades, depopulation across the entire Baltic region became a continuous and consistent social phenomenon. There is a robust background to this – the Hegemon wanted the region absolutely free from any settlement in order to (i) convert the entire Baltic Sea coast into a giant naval and land army base, (ii) restrict Russian access to Baltic Sea as much as possible, (iii) invade Kaliningrad (old Konisberg) and destroy the Russian military base. The USA government has been pursuing policies on these (unstated but obvious) objectives for decades [link 🡪 https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Falling-In_Deterrent-Value-of-HNS-in-the-Baltic.pdf ]. Unless appropriate actions are taken, it will transform into a nightmare for the security of Russian society and land impairing core Eurasian architecture considerably.

Except Mongolia and Afghanistan, all other entries in the above mentioned list have been identified as phantom-state / artificial state – Eurasian history corroborates my statement. Few common traits exhibited by the listed entities are: (i) local oligarchy has been in the drivers’ seat to control power and wealth to the detriment of the common population, (ii) an inward-looking religious / nationalist posturing is a common thread across the region, (iii) global Zionist-Capitalist forces are using the local oligarchy to foment socio-political tensions that will divert the people’s hatred towards core Eurasian powers like Russia and China, (iv) USA, Israel, Anglo countries and NATO countries use Turkey and Japan as the spearheads to control these regions, (v) through multilateral institutions like SCO, EAEU, CSTO and geo-economic programmes like BRI China and Russia try to influence the political and economic viability of these regions. Even though (iv) and (v) balance each other, the entire core Eurasia may become an extremely unstable region if the Zionist forces succeed to set a conflagration simultaneously across 3 / 4 entities (which is a wet dream of the Zionists).

Since this article deals only with core Eurasia, I won’t raise geopolitical and geo-economic problems that beset Asia and Europe. However, countries like Japan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Balkan countries, Poland, Germany, France, Italy, and the UK present two types of problems through their hard and soft power: (a) presently all of them participate (most of them willingly) in the common global conspiracy hatched by the Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy against core Eurasian countries and societies, (b) historical role played by almost all of them to foment geopolitical instability in their own region with/without involvement of the global Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy.

  1. Political-Economic Integration in Core Eurasia Initiated by the Mongol Empire

Like it or dislike it, loathe it or love it, romanticize it or demonize it, one can’t simply ignore the role of Mongol empire in shaping the core Eurasian landmass – it is a well-established historical fact that, the Mongol empire shattered the medieval era geopolitics in the core Eurasian region applying ruthless force wherever they faced resistance. Though a united Mongol empire didn’t last even fifty years in the 13th century after demise of Chinghis Khan, the remnants of Mongol khans remained rulers in many smaller regions across core Eurasia for another five centuries as ‘Khanate’ entered the lexicon of modern political studies. If the current doldrums in core Eurasia is put under scanner, a strange observation can’t be avoided – many a current geopolitical trouble has its root in the Mongol-instigated geopolitics during the late medieval-cum-early modern era. That indicates we can’t avoid to briefly explore the geopolitical contour of the Mongol empire during the 13th century. (It will be a splendid historic inquiry if the evolution of Mongol empire is analyzed from 1227 CE when Chinghis Khan died till 1911 CE when Mongolia declared independence as a ‘modern’ state – but that is beyond the scope of this article).

While Chinghis Khan was the creator and the first emperor of Mongol empire, after his death at 1227 CE, the descendants while expanding the boundaries to cover entire core Eurasia also engaged in internecine warfare among themselves – after the death of Mongke Khan, by 1260 CE the empire was transformed into a confederacy of 4 empires, and by end of the 14th century each of those empires again got split into multiple khanates ruled by Chinghis Khan’s successors or non-Mongol rulers with kinship to Mongol aristocracy. The following table 3.1 provides a brief tentative geopolitical summary of 13th century core Eurasian landmass:

Table: 3.1 >

1227 CE1300 CE
<< UNIFIED MONGOL EMPIRE >>– Regions of current Peoples Republic of China >Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Tianjin, Beijing, Hebei, Shanxi, north-east part of Shandong, north-west part of Gansu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region except south-east part.– Currently Mongolia– Currently Kazakhstan– Currently Uzbekistan– Currently Turkmenistan– Currently Kirghizstan– Currently Tajikistan– Regions of current Afghanistan >Northern part (one-third of state)– Regions of current Pakistan >Northern part (one-fifth of state)– Regions of current Russian Federation >— Far Eastern Federal District >Primorsky Krai, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai (except one-third part in the north), Amur Oblast, Zabaykalsky Krai, Republic of Buryatia, Sakha Republic (except two-third part in the north)— Siberian Federal District >Irkutsk Oblast, Tuva Republic, Altai Republic, Altai Krai, Novosibirsk Oblast, Omsk Oblast (except northern half), Kemerovo Oblast, Republic of Khakassia, one-third in south of Krasnoyarsk Krai— Ural Federal District >Southern half of Kurgan Oblast, southern half of Tyumen Oblast, one-fourth of Chelyabinsk Oblast in south<< YUAN EMPIRE >>– Regions of current Peoples Republic of ChinaAll except three-fourth of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region– Currently Mongolia– Currently North Korea, South Korea– Currently Taiwan– Regions of current Russian Federation >— Far Eastern Federal District >Primorsky Krai, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai (except one-third part in north), Amur Oblast, Zabaykalsky Krai, Republic of Buryatia, Sakha Republic (except two-third part in north)— Siberian Federal District >Irkutsk Oblast, Tuva Republic, Republic of Khakassia, southern half of Krasnoyarsk Krai– Regions of current Myanmar >North-eastern part (half of the state)– Regions of current India >A sizeable stretch of land in north-east abutting south Tibet
<< CHAGATAI KHANATE >>– Regions of current Peoples Republic of ChinaThree-fourth of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region– Regions of current KazakhstanTwo-fifth of the state in east and south– Currently Kyrghizstan– Currently Tajikistan– Regions of current UzbekistanAlmost entire state except land around Aral Sea– Regions of current AfghanistanOne-fourth of the state in the north-east
<< GOLDEN HORDE >>– Regions of current Russian Federation >— Siberian Federal District >Altai Republic, Altai Krai, Novosibirsk Oblast, Omsk Oblast, western half of Tomsk Oblast— Ural Federal District >Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug (except a small strip in north-east), Kurgan Oblast, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Tyumen Oblast, Chelyabinsk Oblast— Volga Federal District— North Caucasian Federal District— Southern Federal District— Central Federal District >One-third land in south of the district— Crimea– Regions of current BelarusAll except northern one-fourth of landmass– Currently Ukraine– Currently Moldova– Regions of current Romania >One-third land in the east abutting Moldova border
<< ILL KHANATE >>– Currently Iran– Regions of current IraqHalf of the state in eastern and northern side bordering Iran, Syria– Regions of current SyriaOne-third of the state in north-eastern side– Regions of current TurkeyHalf of the state in eastern side– Currently Armenia– Currently Azerbaijan– Currently Turkmenistan– Regions of current Afghanistan >All except one-fourth of the state in the north-east– Regions of current Pakistan >Baluchistan province in the south-west side

It can be noted from Table 3.1 presented above and Figure 3.1 given below that by 1300 CE, core Eurasia (except unpopulated northern most lands of Russia near arctic) was under the sway of the Mongol aristocrats – scholars estimated that the Mongol confederacy was spread over around 24,000,000 km2 of land creating the largest land empire in history [Link 🡪 https://maps.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/shepherd_1911/shepherd-c-092.jpg ].

Fig 3.1 >

As Morris Rossabi mentioned in the article ‘Mongol Impact on China: Lasting Influences with Preliminary Notes on Other Parts of the Mongol Empire’ (refer ACTA VIA SERICA Vol. 5, No. 2, December 2020) “perhaps the Mongols’ most important contribution was to bring East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe in touch with each other and that Eurasian history began with the Mongols’ creation of the largest contiguous land empire in world history. The Mongols also built splendid cities, promoted the economies, fostered the sciences, technologies, and the artistic advances in their domains.” Discerning readers can’t deny this observation by Rossabi. During the course of past half century, other scholars from different countries also conclusively proved that the Mongol empire facilitated trade and commerce across all regions of Asia and Europe while contributing quite substantially towards propagation of the Sciences and the Arts.

  1. Why Super-States and Key States in core Eurasia?

Question: What is the mission I’m talking about? Why can’t the current state of affairs in core Eurasia fulfill the mission? Why a reorganization of geopolitical framework of core Eurasia is a necessity?

Answer: ‘The ultimate objective will be to bring complete dignity, widest possible freedom, and maximum possible development for every citizen of the communities in core Eurasia. Every human being (irrespective of his/her background identity like age, sex, ethnicity, language, religion, region, state) will become free from hunger-disease-insecurity-injustice, will spend time in socially useful productive work, can indulge in literature-art-music-cinema, can do research in science-mathematics-life science’, can be at ease equally with technology as well as social studies, ‘can seek knowledge of ‘life’-‘society’-‘world’-‘universe’, can seek entertainment and pleasure at leisure time, without any of these things being morally or physically harmful to any section or people’ of the proposed super-states and key states in core Eurasia.

Most of the existing states are unable to offer such environment to its people not because the countries are poor, (on the contrary core Eurasia is the richest zone of the earth) – the oligarchy which is well-entrenched in the ruling edifice of every country, have been exploiting the population ruthlessly with the help of Zionist-Capitalist globalist clique. Zionist-Capitalists would love if core Eurasia becomes uninhabited and they become the master of the land and its natural resources so that the planet earth nourishes only the ‘golden billion’ (one billion population in Anglo countries, Jews, Europeans). Hence current geopolitical setup is not conducive to such humanitarian missions.

For fulfilling the mission, I mentioned above, core Eurasia should be free from the self-serving elites-aristocrats-oligarchs who misuse their political power to achieve their personal objectives – to gain power and to gain wealth. Most of the artificial-states should be dissolved and made part of one/two super-states. Without geopolitically balanced architecture destabilization in all conceivable and unconceivable forms will continue to ruin core Eurasia. Thus the current borders between so-called states should be reoriented so that,

  1. The historical background of (mid-19th century) landmass-and-community relationship gets due importance
  2. ‘Fake states’ don’t act as Zionist-Capitalist agents for destabilization in core Eurasia
  3. Core Eurasian state-actors can always remain united to become a ‘role model’ for all other regions.

In core Eurasia, during my lifetime, most of the old geopolitical issues resurfaced – some through crude bloody incidents while some others in a very subtle way. So, whether such a dispute is currently a burning issue or a dormant dispute, leaders need to look into those and try proactively to resolve it so that geopolitically balanced architecture can be achieved. Let me list down the key issues, and key actors, and suggest the resolutions considering the historical timeline from the Mongol Empire in 1227 CE to the 1848 Revolution as the ‘age of empire building’ in core Eurasia beyond which change of borders through war would not be considered as ‘valid’ (for setting our benchmark we assumed such validity). There will be certainly a question asked from every quarter – on what basis such a logic is being considered? As such, there can be no definite answer that would please everyone, rather I would like to say, that there will be no basis that is acceptable to everyone! So, I chose 1848 CE as the historical watershed because in the early modern era 1848 CE was the year when plebeians of different societies across entire Europe and some parts of Asia really did stand up against centuries old exploitation-injustice-inequality inflicted by the patricians (even if the commoners were beaten back everywhere, the patricians were forced to start counting its probable demise since then). So a reorganisation of core Eurasia into super-states and key states is suggested as below:

Table: 4.1 >

Geopolitical Restructuring Issue in Core EurasiaProposed Resolution
Significant Actor – Super-state in Russia
At the time of the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 CE, USSR encompassed the following geographical regions apart from Russia:1. Baltic Europe – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania2. Eastern Europe – Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova3. Transcaucasia – Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan4. Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, TurkmenistanThere were some remarkable aspects of the territorial evolution of Tsarist Russian empire and the USSR:(a) NONE of the above mentioned regions/sub-regions were annexed into the Tsarist empire with their 1991 borders. Reorganization of the administrative zones within the empire was a regular exercise for ALL heads of state at different points of time. Few of those were:(i) In 1708 CE Tsar Peter the Great divided the empire into eight administrative divisions called guberniyas (Archangelgorod, Azov, Ingermanland, Kazan, Kiev, Moscow, Siberia, Smolensk)(ii) In 1727 CE Catherine I enacted another reform – a total of 166 uyezds was established(iii) By 1910 CE 104 administrative governorate units (Oblast and Governorate) were formed(iv) After 1922 CE Bolshevik Party undertook a series of restructuring that transformed the earlier architecture of administrative organization(b) Historically, some regions have been under the Russian influence (political, cultural, economic) for a very long time before the proposed the cut-off year of 1848 CE — in 1721 CE Livonia, Estonia, Ingria, and Karelia were annexed from Sweden; through second and third partitions in 1793 CE and 1795 CE, Russia acquired southern part of current Latvia (south of Riga), most part of current Lithuania including Wilno (Vilnius), most part of current Belarus including Minsk, Pinsk, Brest, most part of Right Bank Ukraine that forms current Ukraine including Lutsk, Rovno, Zhytomyr, Bratslav, and Galicia from Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth; Bessarabia (two-thirds of which lies within modern Moldova) was taken over by Russian Empire in 1812 CE defeating Ottoman Empire; parts of Georgia, Dagestan, parts of northern Azerbaijan, and parts of northern Armenia were annexed from Persian Empire by Russian Empire in 1813 CE; in 1828 CE, Persian Empire ceded Caucasian region (present-day Armenia, Azerbaijan) to Russian Empire; Kazakh-Junior Horde and Kazakh- Middle Horde declared to be loyal Russian citizens in 1732 and 1740 respectively, but full control of Russia got established by 1798 CE; Kazakh-Great Horde khanate was annexed into the Russian empire in the 1820s, when the Great Horde khans choose Russian protection against Kokand Khanate(c) On the other hand it can be easily noted that, the Tsarist empire continued with invasions and annexations after 1848 CE in the central Asia and Pacific ocean coast regions (refer the map given in Fig:4.1 that is copied from Encyclopaedia Britannica: Link 🡪 https://www.britannica.com/place/Russian-Empire ) – Sakhalin island was seized from Japanese kingdom in 1875 CE by Alexander II; khanates of Khiva (1873 CE), Bukhara (1866 CE), Kokand (1876 CE) were annexed by Alexander II; Alexander III annexed Pamir plateau in 1893 and land of Teke Turkomans in 1881 CE; Alexander III annexed the coastal and northern part of Manchuria through a series of unequal treaties forced upon Qing China (the Treaty of Aigun in 1858 and the Treaty of Peking in 1860)1. All countries / regions of a country that were part of Russian empire in 1848 CE should move back to the Russian super-state:– Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania– Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova,– Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan,– Kazakhstan (except south-eastern part – Dzungaria)2. Russia should hand over such territories to other countries that were annexed from them after 1848 CE:– Outer Manchuria i.e. modern-day Russian areas of Primorsky Krai, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai (southern two-thirds), Amur Oblast, Zabaykalsky Krai to China3. Regions which were part of Russian empire/USSR between 1849 and 1991, and became independent since 1991, should continue their current geopolitical identity as ‘state’:– Four Central Asian countries i.e. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan were formed as administrative regions within Russian empire / USSR out of the lands from five annexations by Tsars after 1848 CE – Khanate of Khiva, Khanate of Bukhara, Khanate of Kokand, Pamir plateau, and land of Teke Turkomans
Significant Actor – Super-state in China
By 1848 CE the Qing empire territories included the following regions apart from (directly) Ming-ruled mainland China including Hainan and Taiwan islands:1. East Asia – Manchuria (Nurgan RMC of Ming empire), Inner and Outer Mongolia2. South-central Asia – Qinghai (Dokham RMC of Ming empire)3. Central Asia – Xinjiang (that included some parts of eastern Kazakhstan land from Lake Balkhash up to the current international border with China in the north-east, east and south direction, this region was annexed by Russia in 1860, 1881)4. South Asia – Tibet (U-Tsang RMC and Elis military-civilian Marshal of Ming empire; it included Aksai Chin region of Ladakh and south-eastern regions of Tibet which were seized by British after 1860 CE)The key aspects of the territorial evolution of Qing Chinese empire are:(a) The policy of partitioning the empire into several administrative regions underwent substantial change when the Qing empire replaced the Ming empire. While Ming emperors governed peripheral regions like Tibet, Manchuria through setting up Regional Military Commission, Qing empire established administrative regions across the entire empire.(b) Unlike Russian Tsarist empire, the Chinese Qing empire ceased expansion by 1800s. When in 1911 CE the Qing empire was abolished (refer the map given in Fig:4.2 that is copied from Wikipedia: Link 🡪 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qing_dynasty#/media/File:China_1911_es.svg ) the following regions were found to be parts of neighbouring states, not China:(i) a part of western Xinjiang of Qing China (some parts of currently eastern Kazakhstan land from Lake Balkhash up to the current international border with China in the north-east, east and south directions)(ii) Outer Manchuria, a part of Manchuria of Qing China (currently part of the Far Eastern District of Russia)(iii) Outer Mongolia, a part of Qing China (currently Mongolia state)(iv) western Ladakh and south-eastern Tibet, both part of Qing China (part of modern-day India)(v) Taiwan island, a part of Qing China (currently Taiwan state)1. All countries / regions of a country that were part of Chinese empire in 1848 CE should be transferred back to the Chinese super-state:– Taiwan– The islands in South China Sea– Outer Manchuria– Western Xinjiang (Dzungaria)– Aksai Chin and South-eastern Tibet2. Regions which were part of Chinese empire between 1848 and 1911, and became independent since 1911, should continue their current geopolitical identity as ‘state’:– Mongolia which declared independence from China in 1911 occupies outer Mongolian regions of Qing China
Significant Actor – Key State in Iran
Hardly any change in borders happened in Iran after 1848 CE. Hence the country, centre of one of the oldest empire in the history of humankind doesn’t pose any geopolitical challenge.Not Applicable
Significant Actor – Key State in Korea
One of the biggest geopolitical tragedy happened in the Korean Peninsula. Following Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905 Korea became the protectorate of Imperial Japan. After Japan’s surrender in 1945 in September People’s Republic of Korea was established by Lyuh Woon-hyung. In February 1946 Lyuh Woon-hyung was murdered by USA led oligarchy. Thereafter in the south of 38th parallel Syngman Rhee established Republic of Korea in August 1948 while in the following month Kim Il-sung established Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north. China and North Korea lost about 1 million people as KIA and MIA. A divided Korea is a continuous reminder about creation and growth of a malignant tumour that was implanted in core Eurasia by the USA and Anglo oligarchy after WW II.USA needs to pull out military forces lock, stock, and barrel; a united Korean government to be formed with representation from ALL regions, professions, and parties. Both the military should combine into a single force. China and Russia to ensure peace during the transition period.

Looking at the above table 4.1, one would conclude that I have identified only four entities as ‘significant actor’ in core Eurasia. Yes, if one looks into this essay in 2122 i.e. hundred years from now, the reader will find the accuracy and appropriateness of this essay in both its assumptions (that, across this humongous landmass named as ‘core Eurasia’ there are only 4 communities who are not spineless flunkies of Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy and who are not mindless followers of Anglo-Jewish culture) and its suggestions (that, in order to bring out the best possible environment for a community to survive and thrive, geopolitical fabric needs to be reorganized in terms of two super-states and two key states, all of whom will maintain very close coordination among themselves on all geopolitical and geo-economic matters). Finally, the proposed geopolitical restructuring should seriously consider (this is the first time that I’m mentioning this point as an IMPORTANT task) a formal alliance among the 4 significant actors in core Eurasia.

Fig: 4.1 🡪

Fig: 4.2 🡪

Table: 4.2 >

Geo-economic Restructuring Issue in Core EurasiaProposed Resolution
1. Any community, any country, any state can be built ONLY with a population that is large enough to sustain the cultural, economic, political, and technological progress achieved by it. Russia, Iran, North Korea in its current form don’t show healthy population growth, it doesn’t generate hope for future – I will rate this problem as severity 1 for all 3 actors.China, with world’s largest population till 2022, has been beset with continuously reducing rate of population growth – I will rate this as severity 2 for China.2. Any country, any state can organise itself ONLY on the basis of own currency or currency of a neighbour with whom two-way trade is normal. Apart from that, the dependence on Dollar (as exchange currency) must be brought down to a minimum level to avoid the fate of Russia.for China, USA debt holding over 1 trillion is a problem of severity 1, for USA will certainly weaponize the debt at the earliest ‘opportunity’ (like, China re-establishes its control over Taiwan).3. Russia-Iran-China all 3 actors are very rich in terms of natural resources. Energy, metal and mineral, rare earth elements – all three types of deposits are present in substantial quantities in core Eurasia.Import and export of such ‘natural resources’ should be aimed at enriching the commoners in Asia-Africa-South America continents as much as possible.4. SCO-BRI-EAEU should be coordinated simultaneously for economic rejuvenation of core Eurasia as well as Asia-Africa-South America continents as much as possible.As a parallel activity, encourage non-Anglo non-Jewish communities/ countries (like Germany, Japan, Italy, France, Sweden etc.) to enhance their participation in trade and commerce with core Eurasia through multilateral global platforms like RCEP.5. Minimize use of technology, hardware, and applications owned by the Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy in the areas of international finance, defence, aerospace, and social networking.As a parallel activity, encourage non-Anglo non-Jewish communities/ countries (like Germany, Japan, Italy, France, Sweden etc.) to enhance their participation in trade and commerce.Government should move on two fronts:(i) encourage early marriage and childbearing at social and cultural platforms(ii) introduce new rules and laws to facilitate marriage and childbearing for working persons, professionals, even unemployed(i) A gold-backed currency or a basket of Eurasian currencies needs to be pushed(ii) Reduce holding of US treasury rapidly by increasing central bank holding of gold to maximum level(i) These countries should restrict export of raw material and processed minerals to Europe, North America, Australia(ii) They should also ensure that other countries in core Eurasia do the same as much as possible(i) Transform the BRI format so that organizations from the participating countries get around 40% share of the capital expenditure.(ii) Bring in German, Japanese, Italian, French companies into BRI projects for supply of some machinery etc.(i) Identify areas where all 4 actors or any 3 actors will join hands to form business entities. Invest in research and development jointly.(ii) Bring in German, Japanese, Italian, French companies selectively.

Obviously a logical question will arise – ‘how such a massive transformation will happen’ and ‘when’. Local oligarchy, nationalist intelligentsia, bureaucracy, business people, and military forces are the groups who have vested interests in perpetuating the current geopolitical framework. In normal situations (where international relations follow unipolar world order) such geopolitical transformation can hardly be talked about. But major upheavals in politics, economics, and environment will compel the 90% population (the plebs) to think and accept such transformation that will bring momentous change in their lifestyle. It will be the responsibility of ALL patriotic leaders, communist party members, community elders in ALL countries to prepare themselves and their countries/communities towards accepting positive transformation.

It can be found in history that, time and again strong leaders created new geopolitical reality (sometimes because of moral high ground and in other times using superior political economy) that created new rules and orders tearing apart the existing order – I will strongly advocate such occurrence if and only if the common people of a country / region find better standard of living in the newly created architecture. Living in the 21st century I won’t criticize Chinghis Khan’s brutality against his adversaries – on the contrary, I would ask two simple questions – (i) was there a single king/emperor in the medieval era across the world who didn’t resort to mind-blowing violence to create a psychological defeat in the opponent camp? (ii) wasn’t it that the Mongol empire brought a new era in trade and commerce across the entire continents of Asia and Europe benefitting the living standard of the inhabitants? Hence I proposed here that the creation of super-states in core Eurasia in the near future – Eurasian Union of Russia and Asian Union of China – would go a long way to create a better society that ushers a new dawn of humanity! Unless the above mentioned territorial reorganizations are undertake, in my opinion, the construction of those super-states can’t really take-off!

Since I’m only discussing about core Eurasia, I’m not mentioning the case of a super-state in the Indian subcontinent. Actually India should be viewed as a super-state which should include half of what is currently Pakistan (Punjab and Sindh regions are truly such historically ‘Indian’ regions without which Indian map can’t be even be thought of! Since the beginning of ancient civilization Punjab and Sindh were the core of all Indian kingdoms/sultanates/empires until 1947 CE when British power connived with ALL key political parties like Congress, Muslim fundamentalists, and Hindu fundamentalists to divide India). But we are not discussing that.

  1. Conclusion

By now, most of the esteemed readers have already formed an opinion about this article and my objectives. To conclude this write-up, let me handle those probable clarifications from an ideological perspective:

1) An “expansionist and empire-apologist”: To be frank, this is the most significant stigma that could be assigned to this article. For a while, this article can truly create such a sentiment among the readers. Fundamentally, I’m a Marxist, and one of the final objectives of a Marxist socialist society is borderless society! Hence, on an ideological platform, I actually condemn ‘empire-building’ as a process of geopolitics. Let me state that, ‘Empire’, as a concept, is the most reactionary, naked, and violent form of ‘state apparatus’. Hence, I can never become an apologist for empire building. If so, the question still remains: what is the objective of this article?

Well, every historic ‘empire’, in reality, has different background and different characteristics. While Spanish, Portuguese, British and French empires built after 1496 CE across the world basically attempted to ‘get rid of’ the aboriginal population as much as possible, and pillaged the foreign land and resources to enrich the elites and oligarchy of those invading powers, completely contrasting behaviour could be noticed in case of the Chinese, and Russian empires. Russian and Chinese empires not only brought order and security to the people of the region they annexed but the trade and commerce got invigorated across the Eurasian landmass benefitting the commoners. Essentially while the European powers brought colonial imperialism, the Eurasian powers acted as the agents of change towards win-win modernisation.

I foresee that before different countries could even imagine a borderless landmass and a society free from exploitation (as the ultimate objective of Marxism), a country would require:

(a) A ‘state’ that ensures education, healthcare, housing, and employment for ALL citizens

(b) A ‘state’ that brings ALL races, religions, languages living in a landmass under an umbrella with an objective of shared security

(c) A ‘state’ that creates enough of social capital as a harbinger of economic prosperity while sustaining the fragile environment

Let me confess, while looking back into the history, I find ONLY Chinese and Russian super-states as the agents who would provide framework for achieving the above results. So, I propose building of such super-states as the prelude for state-less society.

2) A “reactionary feudalist pseudo-Marxist”: There will be certainly a group of dogmatic Marxists who would suggest that this article is actually a step backward which point towards rejuvenation of medieval feudal era political environment. This article doesn’t discuss the ‘class struggle’, neither this speaks about a ‘proletarian revolution’. Actually, looking everything under the sun through the prism of Marxism doesn’t help any Marxist – neither a revolutionary communist party member nor a revolutionary communist state. Abolition of ‘state apparatus’ was never identified by Marx as an immediate objective for a socialist society! On the other hand, if a truly welfare state apparatus can arrange education, healthcare, housing, and employment to all citizens of core Eurasia, people would actually gain through better living standard. And they would further realise how a state apparatus based on Marxist socialist socio-economic political thoughts would transform the current society into a more egalitarian society ensuring truth, justice, and equality and that prevail over deception, injustice, and inequality.

These readers, mostly from Europe and North America, are NOT bothered about a real democracy where the freedom of speech goes hand-in-hand with the freedom from hunger and malnutrition, and right to vote a political party is coupled with right to education and employment. They are actually bothered about the re-emergence of core Eurasia as the centre of global trade, commerce, science, and technology – instead of expressing that point categorically which otherwise would smack of racism and racial hatred (towards Asians), they wrap it up with half-baked politically correct jargons (like democracy, human rights, blah blah).

For these type of readers, I have two simple questions:

(a) What did the Greek city-states mean by ‘democracy’? (Clue – slaves who toiled ceaselessly in ancient Greek city-states or Roman Empire were never counted as citizens). It was not certainly meant for all people of their society, so what do the pseudo-socialists and lapdog-intellectuals licensed by the Zionist-Capitalist clique wish to achieve through the so-called democracy?

(b) What did the European aristocrats and oligarchs mean by ‘human rights’? Most of the regions in North America, South America and Australia continents were subjected to genocide by those same sociopath-cum-psychopath European (aristocrat and elite) marauders who, apparently set up world’s ‘finest’ democratic state apparatus like the ‘USA’, ‘Canada’, ‘Australia’, so why shouldn’t they pay respect to the concept of human rights and leave those continents lock stock and barrel one fine morning (better late than never)?

Anyway, by promoting super-states like Russia and China, I’m looking forward to a future reinstatement of Marxist ideas and philosophies among the people of core Eurasia. And, please don’t say that Marxist ideas and organisation could flourish in liberal capitalist democratic countries in Europe and North America (where the entire leftist/socialist political spectrum has been hijacked by the opportunist corrupt labour aristocracy since early 1890s) – those entities can’t be termed as ‘country’ or ‘democracy’, they are simply a bunch of oligarchs thriving in their respective ‘estate’ using lies and deception that can be termed as ‘demon-cracy’!

3) A “utopian arm-chair strategist”: To those readers who would identify me as such, I have a simple counter question – could anybody in 1942 even dream of the boundaries of USSR and PRC that were internationally accepted in 1950? What appears as ‘utopian idea’ may become a reality just 10 years from now – history of core Eurasia time and again proved it! After all, exactly hundred years back the foundation was laid for the first super-state in the history of humankind – USSR.

By and large, there are another two categories of shaming which would be applicable to the readers who consider themselves as ‘nationalist’:

i) A “Russian stooge and Chinese agent”: many readers who hail from countries – Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Moldova etc. – that have been proposed here as phantom-states would like to curse me as a ‘Russian’ agent and/or a ‘Chinese’ agent. This is another stigma that fits in with this narrative. Particularly, many of the readers find any statement that talks in favour of China and Russia, as support to ‘authoritative and despotic foreign regimes’. Let me respond to this – on the face of it, my proposition appears as a simple ancient trick of ‘annexation of more landmasses. But, it isn’t so – I consider the people as the primary subject of ‘patriotism’ and the landmass as the secondary subject. Let me elaborate on this through a historical example. Alexander Nevsky served as the Prince of Novgorod (1236–56 and 1258–1259), Grand Prince of Kiev (1236–52) and Grand Prince of Vladimir (1252–63) during the most difficult times in medieval Rus’ history. He paid a tribute to the Mongol Golden Horde while fighting against ALL European powers approaching from north-west. In my opinion, Nevsky revealed the finest expression of ‘patriotism’ that flowers in the well-being of the people of his kingdoms while paying less importance to geographical expansion of the landmass he dominated! Nevsky was bothered about his society, culture and commerce, hence as soon as he identified that European powers would destroy exactly those aspects he stood as a rock against such invasions.

Let me again acknowledge, while looking back into the medieval and modern history, I find ONLY Chinese and Russian super-states as the institutions that can ensure exchange of ideas, knowledge, goods, and services among different regions and different societies across the world without pontificating.

ii) An enemy to Russia and China: many readers who hail from current RF and PRC, would stand exactly opposite to the readers from say, Kazakhstan or Ukraine! They would come back asking why (his/her) country should give away even an inch of land to the neighbouring country. Ultimate tragedy of human life is that they always seek ‘ownership’ of almost everything under the Sun, we forget that everything – land, water body, forests, mountains, deserts – belong to mother earth. Humankind is nothing but a small part of the nature – we don’t own anything; we need to be grateful to nature for providing ALL means for living our life! If giving away some part of one country to another country proves beneficial for both the communities, why not? True patriots ALWAYS bother about the advancement of economy and culture of the people if required with little adjustments. Every society has a memory and every community has a tradition centred on some regions which they consider as inalienable part of their history – Ukraine and Belarus are such regions for the Russian society, south Korea is such a region for the Koreans, Manchuria and Tibet are such regions for the Chinese, Punjab and Sindh provinces of Pakistan are such regions for the Indians!

I’m certainly not an enemy of any country or any society or any people! On the contrary, (as I laid out in the introduction) I consider myself as a part of the people of core Eurasian landmass. I’m against hypocrisy, insanity, deception, vulgarity and above all, inequality and injustice – history alone proves that ALL these banes witnessed by the humanity since ‘civilization’ dawned, were caused by the 1% aristocracy-elite-oligarchy in EVERY region across the world! The proposed two super-states, in my opinion, will go a long way to provide a stable environment and opportunity for amelioration of the plebeian lives in core Eurasia. It will usher the beginning of a new era!

Short profile:

Straight-Bat is an Engineer by profession, currently pursuing higher study in Economics. A keen observer of global affairs, Straight-Bat enjoys being an analyst of history, politics, economy, and geopolitics.

One of the few decade-old members of The Saker blog-site, Straight-Bat finds this website as a capstone entity that is dedicated to focus on truth and justice in public life across the world.

Pyongyang passes legislation that declares the country a nuclear-weapon state, giving its leader, Kim Jong-un, sole authority over nuclear decisions.

September 9, 2022 

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Flag of the DPRK (Reuters)

DPRK passed legislation that declares the country a nuclear-weapon state, giving its leader, Kim Jong-un, sole authority over nuclear decisions, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap, citing Pyongyang’s state media.

The 7th Session of the DPRK’s 14th Supreme People’s Assembly approved a decree titled Nuclear Weapons Policy on Wednesday, as per the Korean Central News Agency.

The law, which included 11 paragraphs, governs the use of nuclear weapons.

The new law stipulated that North Korea could use nuclear weapons under these conditions: the imminent threat of an attack on North Korea by an enemy country using nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, an attack on the leadership and command of North Korea’s nuclear forces, and an attack on the country’s strategically vital facilities.

The third paragraph, titled “command and control of nuclear weapons,” states that Kim Jong-un has the sole authority to dispose of nuclear arsenals and “makes all nuclear weapons decisions.”

In the event that North Korea’s nuclear command and control system is threatened by a hostile attack, KCNA stated that a nuclear strike would be launched immediately to destroy the hostile forces and their command.

In the same context, the DPRK’s leader Kim Jong Un said Friday that his country will never abandon nuclear weapons needed to counter the United States, which he accused of trying to weaken Pyongyang’s defenses and eventually bring his government down.

“The aim of the US is not only to eliminate our nuclear weapons but to completely destroy our nuclear power to force us to give up the right of self-defense, to weaken us to overthrow our regime at any time,” Kim Jong-un told the 7th Session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

During a speech at Supreme People’s Assembly, the Korean leader said that ” “the purpose of the United States is not only to remove our nuclear might itself but eventually forcing us to surrender or weaken our rights to self-defense through giving up our nukes so that they could collapse our government at any time.”

No sanctions, he added, will force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

“This is the [US] misjudgment and miscalculation… You can impose sanctions for a hundred days, a thousand days, ten years, a hundred years. We are not going to give up the right to survival and the right to self-defense, on which the country’s security and its people depend. And no matter how difficult a situation we find ourselves in, we, who have to deter an even bigger nuclear power, the United States that has created this political and military situation on the Korean Peninsula, can never give up nuclear weapons.”

N Korea Passes Law Allowing It to Conduct Preventive Nuke Strikes

September 9, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

North Korea has passed a law, declaring itself a nuclear weapons state and enshrining the right to use preemptive nuclear strikes to protect itself.

The Supreme People’s Assembly, the North’s legislature, lent its blessing to the law on Thursday, legislating the country’s status as a nuclear weapons state, the official news agency KCNA reported on Friday.

The law determines the occasions on which the country is supposed to deploy its nuclear weapons, including when attacked and also in order to protect its strategic assets.

“If the command and control system of the national nuclear force is in danger of an attack by hostile forces, a nuclear strike is automatically carried out immediately,” the law says.

Experts say the country is to resume testing nuclear weapons, noting that the legislation paves the way for the prospect.

Ruler Kim Jong-un said the legislation made the country’s status as a nuclear weapon state “irreversible.”

“The utmost significance of legislating nuclear weapons policy is to draw an irretrievable line so that there can be no bargaining over our nuclear weapons,” Kim said in a speech to the parliament.

The legislation, therefore, bars any talks on its denuclearization.

Kim said the US and its allies maintain “hostile policies” such as sanctions and military exercises that undercut their messages of peace.

“As long as nuclear weapons remain on earth and imperialism remains and maneuvers of the United States and its followers against our republic are not terminated, our work to strengthen nuclear force will not cease,” Kim said.

US President Joe Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump took unprecedented steps towards apparently fraternizing the North by initiating several rounds of dialog with it, and even walking a number of steps into the country alongside Kim.

However, Washington blew, what Pyongyang called, a “golden opportunity” at mending the situation by insisting too much on denuclearization.

The ‘New G8’ Meets China’s ‘Three Rings’

June 15, 2022

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China.

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

The speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, may have created the defining acronym for the emerging multipolar world: “the new G8”.

As Volodin noted, “the United States has created conditions with its own hands so that countries wishing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations will actually form a ‘new G8’ together with Russia.”

This non Russia-sanctioning G8, he added, is 24.4% ahead of the old one, which is in fact the G7, in terms of GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP), as G7 economies are on the verge of collapsing and the U.S. registers record inflation.

The power of the acronym was confirmed by one of the researchers on Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sergei Fedorov: three BRICS members (Brazil, China and India) alongside Russia, plus Indonesia, Iran, Turkey and Mexico, all non adherents to the all-out Western economic war against Russia, will soon dominate global markets.

Fedorov stressed the power of the new G8 in population as well as economically: “If the West, which restricted all international organizations, follows its own policies, and pressures everyone, then why are these organizations necessary? Russia does not follow these rules.”

The new G8, instead, “does not impose anything on anyone, but tries to find common solutions.”

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China. Argentina is very much interested in becoming part of the extended BRICS and those (informal) members of the new G8 – Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Mexico – are all likely candidates.

The intersection of the new G8 and BRICS + will lead Beijing to turbo-charge what has already been conceptualized as the Three Rings strategy by Cheng Yawen, from the Institute of International Relations and Public Affairs at the Shanghai International Studies University.

Cheng argues that since the beginning of the 2018 U.S.-China trade war the Empire of Lies and its vassals have aimed to “decouple”; thus the Middle Kingdom should strategically downgrade its relations with the West and promote a new international system based on South-South cooperation.

Looks like if it walks and talks like the new G8, that’s because it’s the real deal.

The revolution reaches the “global countryside”

Cheng stresses how “the center-periphery hierarchy of the West has been perpetuated as an implicit rule” in international relations; and how China and Russia, “because of their strict capital controls, are the last two obstacles to further U.S. control of the global periphery”.

So how would the Three Rings – in fact a new global system – be deployed?

The first ring “is China’s neighboring countries in East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East; the second ring is the vast number of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and the third ring extends to the traditional industrialized countries, mainly Europe and the United States.”

The basis for building the Three Rings is deeper Global South integration. Cheng notes how “between 1980-2021, the economic volume of developing countries rose from 21 to 42.2 percent of the world’s total output.”

And yet “current trade flows and mutual investments of developing countries are still heavily dependent on the financial and monetary institutions/networks controlled by the West. In order to break their dependence on the West and further enhance economic and political autonomy, a broader financial and monetary cooperation, and new sets of instruments among developing countries should be constructed”.

This is a veiled reference to the current discussions inside the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), with Chinese participation, designing an alternative financial-monetary system not only for Eurasia but for the Global South – bypassing possible American attempts to enforce a sort of Bretton Woods 3.0.

Cheng uses a Maoist metaphor to illustrate his point – referring to ‘the revolutionary path of ‘encircling the cities from the countryside’”. What is needed now, he argues, is for China and the Global South to “overcome the West’s preventive measures and cooperate with the ‘global countryside’ – the peripheral countries – in the same way.”

So what seems to be in the horizon, as conceptualized by Chinese academia, is a “new G8/BRICS+” interaction as the revolutionary vanguard of the emerging multipolar world, designed to expand to the whole Global South.

That of course will mean a deepened internationalization of Chinese geopolitical and geoeconomic power, including its currency. Cheng qualifies the creation of a “three ring “ international system as essential to “break through the [American] siege”.

It’s more than evident that the Empire won’t take that lying down.

The siege will continue. Enter the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), spun as yet another proverbial “effort” to – what else – contain China, but this time all the way from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia, with Oceania thrown in as a bonus.

The American spin on IPEF is heavy on “economic engagement”: fog of (hybrid) war disguising the real intent to divert as much trade as possible from China – which produces virtually everything – to the U.S. – which produces very little.

The Americans give away the game by heavily focusing their strategy on 7 of the 10 ASEAN nations – as part of yet another desperate dash to control the American-denominated “Indo-Pacific”. Their logic: ASEAN after all needs a “stable partner”; the American economy is “comparatively stable”; thus ASEAN must subject itself to American geopolitical aims.

IPEF, under the cover of trade and economics, plays the same old tune, with the U.S. going after China from three different angles.

– The South China Sea, instrumentalizing ASEAN.

– The Yellow and East China Seas, instrumentalizing Japan and South Korea to prevent direct Chinese access to the Pacific.

– The larger “Indo-Pacific” (that’s were India as a member of the Quad comes in).

It’s all labeled as a sweet apple pie of “stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific with diversified trade.”

BRI corridors are back

Beijing is hardly losing any sleep thinking about IPEF: after all most of its multiple trade connections across ASEAN are rock solid. Taiwan though is a completely different story.

At the annual Shangri-La dialogue this past weekend in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe went straight to the point, actually defining Beijing’s vision for an East Asia order (not “rules-based”, of course).

Taiwan independence is a “dead end”, said General Wei, as he asserted Beijing’s peaceful aims while vigorously slamming assorted U.S. “threats against China”. At any attempt at interference, “we will fight at all costs, and we will fight to the very end”. Wei also handily dismissed the U.S. drive to “hijack” Indo-Pacific nations, without even mentioning IPEF.

China at it stands is firmly concentrated on stabilizing its western borders – which will allow it to devote more time to the South China Sea and the “Indo-Pacific” further on down the road.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi went on a crucial trip to Kazakhstan – a full member of both BRI and the EAEU – where he met President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and all his counterparts from the Central Asian “stans” in a summit in Nur-Sultan. The group – billed as C+C5 – discussed everything from security, energy and transportation to Afghanistan and vaccines.

In sum, this was all about developing much-needed corridors of BRI/ New Silk Roads – in sharp contrast to the proverbial Western lamentations about BRI reaching a dead end.

Two BRI-to-the-bone projects will go on overdrive: the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D, and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway. Both have been years in the making, but now have become absolutely essential, and will be the flagship BRI projects in the Central Asian corridor.

The China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D will link Turkmenistan’s gas fields to Xinjiang via Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. That was the main theme of the discussions when Turkmen President Berdimuhamedow visited Beijing for the Winter Olympics.

The 523 km China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway for its part will crucially link the two Central Asian “stans” to the China-Europe freight rail network, via the existing rail networks in Turkmenistan.

Considering the current incandescent geopolitical scenario in Ukraine, this is a bombshell in itself, because it will enable freight from China to travel via Iran or via Caspian ports, bypassing sanctioned Russia. No hard feelings, in terms of the Russia-China strategic partnership: just business.

The Kyrgyz, predictably, were ecstatic. Construction begins next year. According to Kyrgyz President Zhaparov, “there will be jobs. Our economy will boom.”

Talk about China acting decisively in its “first ring”, in Central Asia. Don’t expect anything of such geoeconomic breadth and scope being “offered” by IPEF anywhere in ASEAN.

The US Is Recalibrating Its Eurasian Containment Strategy Against Russia & China

19 MAY 2022

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

The US’ grand strategy pretty much amounts to preparing for what many fear might be the inevitable conventional phase of what some are already calling the ongoing Third World War that’s thus far only being waged through hybrid (economic, financial, information, proxy, etc.) means.

Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine prompted the US to decisively shift for the time being to focusing more on “containing” it than China, which has thus far succeeded in uniting the West under its previously fading hegemony. Nevertheless, this temporary pivot raised questions about the US’ hegemonic commitment to “containing” China in the Asia-Pacific, made all the more uncertain by India’s proud flexing of its strategic autonomy by continuing to practice a policy of principled neutrality towards the Ukrainian Conflict in spite of unprecedented American pressure to condemn and sanction Moscow.

Biden’s trip to South Korea and Japan gives the US the opportunity to recalibrate its Eurasian “containment” strategy in light of these new international conditions. He’ll participate in a meeting with the Quad while in Tokyo on 24 May, during which time the American leader will have to make the best out of India’s refusal to join that network’s anti-Russian crusade while still trying to find a role for it play in “containing” China despite that South Asian state being left out of AUKUS. Furthermore, India’s trust in the US has greatly deteriorated due to America’s hegemonic pressure campaign against it.

The only way that the US can simultaneously “contain” Russia and China is to rely on a supercontinental-wide version of its “Lead From Behind” model that was first experimented with during NATO’s War on Libya in 2011. This concept refers to the US getting regional partners with shared interests to do the proverbial “heavy lifting” while it provides all the necessary back-end assistance such as intelligence and logistics, not to mention occasionally “leading from the front” by publicly setting the agenda and directly confronting the targeted state.

In the Western Eurasian theater of the New Cold War, the US’ plans to incorporate Finland and Sweden into NATO are aimed at complicating Russia’s regional security environment, dividing its focus, and thus creating opportunities for the EU to more effectively leverage its existing military capabilities to continue threatening Russia’s national security interests. The US’ 100,000 troops will remain in the continent to serve as credible tripwires against any Russian kinetic action towards its NATO vassals while mostly focusing on enhancing their capabilities to “contain” that country.

For instance, Poland could become a regional center of NATO gravity in the “Three Seas Initiative” (3SI) across Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) that Warsaw envisions falling within its “sphere of influence”. The Scandinavian countries (Denmark/Finland/Iceland/Norway/Sweden), meanwhile, would form their own so-called “Viking Bloc”. Similarly, Bulgaria and Romania could function as the US’ Balkan outposts in the Black Sea. France and Germany might move towards a so-called “EU Army” that could involve them all while the UK could assist the US in managing all of this per its junior partnership in that hegemonic axis.  

On the Eastern Eurasian front, India can’t be relied upon to “contain” China “to the last Indian” like the US manipulated Ukraine into “containing” Russia “to the last Ukrainian”. This throws a major spanner in America’s grand strategic plans, but it’s not an irreparable problem in principle. India can still function as a siphon of foreign investment from China, especially if the People’s Republic continues practicing its zero-COVID policy that’s hurt supply chains, but it still has a long way to go before reaching that point. Nevertheless, India’s economic role in this “containment” model is more promising than its military one.

AUKUS is indisputably the “tip of the sphere” when it comes to the US’ military “containment” plans against China, and this emerging network will likely recruit more regional partners such as the Philippines and South Korea. Moreover, NATO is expanding to the Asia-Pacific under the false pretext of the EU’s response to the China-Solomon Islands deal, so that’ll help “share the burden” of US hegemony there. It might even be the case that this bloc’s Balkan, CEE, and Scandinavian members take the lead in “containing” Russia while its Western European ones shift to “containing” China in the Asia-Pacific.

For this grand strategic scenario to materialize, the US must first “lead from the front” by formulating these complex plans and providing incentives for every member to play their envisioned roles. This will include setting the agenda through public statements, providing economic incentives (e.g. preferential trade deals and/or threatening to impose “secondary sanctions” against all who don’t curtail their ties with Russia and China), selling state-of-the-arm military equipment, carrying out joint military exercises, and devising a joint infowar strategy for all its partners to participate in against those two.

The task ahead is unprecedented in scale and scope but represents the only way that America has any credible chance of stopping the decline of its unipolar hegemony, not to mention potentially reversing it in some respects like it just succeeded in doing in the EU. It pretty much amounts to preparing for what many fear might be the inevitable conventional phase of what some are already calling the ongoing Third World War that’s thus far only being waged through hybrid (economic, financial, information, proxy, etc.) means. The US doesn’t seem deterred by this though and is proceeding at full speed ahead.

Here comes China: The world rotated one more time

April 14, 2022

Source

By Amarynth

The world rotated one more time since the last report on China.

So, what do we know?

China is rock-solid behind Russia in all of Russia’s objectives, and in some instances, up ahead.

It almost seems as if an agreement was, if not stated, then understood. Russia will do the shootin’ for now, and China will keep the economic boat afloat. We see consistent commenting such as China is a consistent stabilizing force in a changing world

Overall NATO is feeling the pressure and ‘resetting’ and trying to clone itself as Aukus in the east while trying to strengthen itself in the west. We have Stoltenberg announcing: “What we see now is a new reality, a new normal for European security. Therefore, we have now asked our military commanders to provide options for what we call a reset, a more longer-term adaptation of NATO.”. In this speech, he announced that plans are being worked up to transform NATO into a major force capable of taking on an invading army and states that NATO deepens partnerships in Asia in response to a rising “security challenge” from China.

Yet, in the east, the Quad is one less, given India’s refusal to follow the U.S. regarding Russia.

Japan has been asked to join Aukus as a Japan, US, Australia, UK alliance intending to project a strong regional balance of power against China, Russia (and maybe India then?) in Asia. This Aukus will then have synergy,, they say, with Japanese technologies in areas such as hypersonic weapons and electronic warfare. Somehow I don’t see Japan as a suitable switch out for India, but then again, we’re dealing with desperate last gyrations of a world hegemon here, trying to project that it still has many friends.

A quick look at India. These days, if you see a country being threatened, you know already that they have started decoupling from so-called western democracy and Blinken has just threatened India yet again. He says the US is “monitoring rise in rights abuses in India” So, suddenly the US cares about human rights abuses in India. This bellicose rhetoric is not effective and way beyond its sell-by date.

It is clear that Russia is decoupling from Europe, and this started before sanctions. But did you know that China is decoupling from Britain, Canada, and the US? This is a brand-new trend. China’s top offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC Ltd. is preparing to exit its operations in Britain, Canada, and the United States, because of concerns in Beijing that assets could become subject to Western sanctions. As it seeks to leave the West, CNOOC is looking to acquire new assets in Latin America and Africa, and also wants to prioritize the development of large, new prospects in Brazil, Guyana, and Uganda.

Apparently trying to deal with those three countries has become painful and CNOOC is seeking to sell “marginal and hard to manage” assets. Quoted are red tape and high operating costs in the western climes.

In the Asia region, we also saw the ease with which Imran Khan was relieved of his post as Prime Minister. I don’t believe this is the end of this story, because the citizens of Pakistan are truly unhappy.  https://www.rt.com/news/553734-us-involved-imran-khan-departure/

So if you were thinking that while the Ukraine war is hot, the Pacific is cool, that would be a mis judgement.

The new cry going out is if we’ve censored all the Russian voices, how can we allow the Chinese voices to carry water for Russia. We have to cancel them too! (These people deserve to go and live underground in bunkers!)

Taiwan keeps the war propaganda at a fever pitch by releasing a China Invasion Survival Guide.

Taiwan’s All-out Defense Mobilization unit has released a guide for citizens in the event of a war with Beijing, complete with comic strips and tips for survival, locating bomb shelters, and preparing food and first aid provisions.  The guide has been planned for some time, and comes as local officials look to extend military service beyond the current 4 months. https://t.me/rtnews/23455

Nancy Pelosi was planning to visit Taiwan. China made its displeasure known widely and loudly. And Pelosi immediately contracted Covid and had to suspend her trip.

From the Australian side, the propaganda is flowing strong. Here is a very fine video with Brian Berletic and Robbie Barwick, explaining exactly what happened with the contretemps in the Solomon Islands, as well as the overall trajectory and the speed thereof, of Australia’s belligerence against China. This video contains some interesting statements and supporting data. Seemingly, if Australia interacts with Island Nations like the Solomon’s the idea is to build infrastructure suitable for war, so, building a port must be suitable for US aircraft carriers, and building a road must be suitable for landing US airplanes. If China interacts with these very same Island Nations, the idea is to build infrastructure that can benefit their population and this is now clear among all.

Is it over? No, not by a long shot. Aussie minister pays ‘unprecedented coercive visit’ to Solomon Islands over China security pact. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202204/1259266.shtml

I’ve come to enjoy China’s spokespeople. They are sharp and do not miss a trick. Acerbic and incisive commentary is the order of the day. This is a good example, and please note the tone of the Western journos .. If you have never spent time on one of these, it is an education. The western journos try and beat the spox to death with repeated questions loaded with innuendo. https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/202204/t20220411_10666750.html

It is quite clear that China is not leaving the issue of Biolabs behind. They have just about daily coverage in various media about it.

SEOUL, April 12 (Xinhua) — U.S. military biological facilities in South Korea are serious threats to local residents’ safety, said a South Korean expert, as the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) continues with a scandalous program involving experiments with living toxic samples. #GLOBALink

https://english.news.cn/20220412/a7d456ef4d5c4b7bab7fa07305aa6333/c.html

China will never forget epithets like “China Virus” and “Wuhan Flu”. Take a good look at this image titled Poison Disseminator.

China had to evacuate +- 2,000 Chinese citizens from the Ukraine. From media, it was a successful evacuation. They have also repeatedly made their stance clear on the Ukraine.

https://www.silkroadbriefing.com/news/2022/03/08/chinas-foreign-ministry-position-on-russia-ukraine/

The main focus is humanitarian. China released a five-point position statement supported by a six-point humanitarian plan

The position statement is:

  • First, we persevere in promoting peace talks in the right direction. We hold that dialogue and negotiation are the only way out, oppose adding fuel to the fire and intensifying confrontation, call for achieving a ceasefire and ending the conflict, and support Russia and Ukraine in carrying out direct dialogue.
  • Second, we persevere in upholding the basic norms governing international relations. We advocate respect for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and oppose putting small and medium-sized countries on the front line of geopolitical games.
  • Third, we persevere in preventing the resurgence of the Cold War mentality. We do not agree with the “friend-or-foe” camp confrontation, firmly promote international solidarity, advocate the vision of common, cooperative, comprehensive and sustainable security, and respect and accommodate the legitimate and reasonable concerns of all parties.
  • Fourth, we persevere in upholding the legitimate rights and interests of all countries. We oppose unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law and call for safeguarding the international industrial and supply chains to avoid harming normal economic and trade exchanges and people’s lives.
  • Fifth, we persevere in consolidating peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. We firmly uphold the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness in our neighborhood diplomacy, guard against the introduction of bloc confrontation into the region by the United States through the “Indo-Pacific strategy”, accelerate the promotion of regional integration and cooperation, and guard the hard-won development momentum in the region.

Wang Ji describes the six-point humanitarian plan:

While China is doing its best to create a level playing field and do real humanitarian work, they are not hiding the fact that they hold the US/NATO fully responsible for what they see as an action that was forced onto Russia.

Inside China, it is all about economic miracles. Taking a huge bow now in their theater of urgent needs is seeds: Chinese Seeds, Chinese developed, and Chinese local seeds. The seed companies of the west are unwelcome with the IP registration of their seeds and China will hold its ownership over its seeds.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202204/12/WS6253c2e2a310fd2b29e563d6.html

The Shanghai lockdown provided endless China-bashing opportunities for western commentators. Tucker Carlson jumped on this horse and did his part for the anti-China campaign with a litany of complaints, a bunch of pixellated videos that are propaganda material, never having spoken to anyone actually living in Shanghai, without an idea of China’s principled management of Covid and without understanding the levels of the lockdown – complete political projection of US so-called values.  As we have seen so many times from the USA’ians, trying to fight his political battles on the back of the Chinese (or anyone else, for that matter).  He also perceivably has no idea that the Chinese lockdown supports the people with food and medicines, and it is not like the west. So, he looks at this with western eyes and truly, he has no clue. It is exactly the same that the world complains about .. it is: “We are right and exceptional and we know better.” Because China makes its own rules, Carlson calls it wrong. He is totally committed to the idea of US manifest destiny and his way is the right way.  Carlson is anti a war with Russia for political purposes but show him China as a possible war partner, and he blooms with bloodlust.

It is truly better to listen to those that are actually living there and can actually speak the language.  It is so that people believe the MSM when that very same MSM says something that they like and rail against that very same MSM when they say something that they don’t like.

David Fishman tweets: So it’s CRAZY that we have to do this, it’s also incredibly fascinating from a supply chain/logistics/economics perspective. We are in the process of re-inventing the food distribution network in Shanghai. It’s all based on the newly prevalent concept of Group-Buying.

If you really want to know how people live through a 14 day lockdown, a 14 day lighter lockdown if no Covid presents itself, a closed and open-loop system, and then thereafter no lock down. I would recommend that you click on this tweet and read all the parts:

Let’s hear from someone who is actually right there:

And Jeff Brown weighed in as well. Special explanation to address the many concerns global citizens have about China’s “Zero-Covid” policy, with Shanghai now in the headlines.

https://jeffjbrown.substack.com/p/special-explanation-to-address-the

And so there are to my knowledge hundreds of people reporting that they get their food delivered, they take part in group buying, they mostly get what they want but sometimes not and we see things like this:

The lesson here is that if you want to know what is happening in China, listen to the people in China. Now, they are not brutally suppressed and silenced. Online media is bigger than ever. What is frowned upon and can get you into hot water, is if you are rude and rude to others. State your case, don’t be rude and you will be fine with social media communication.  (Somewhat like the concept of Saving Face).

No, China is not killing 25 million people in Shanghai.

There are thousands of made-up and anti-China video clips breathlessly being passed around by the usual suspects.  I saw one that purports that the Chinese are breaking down their 5G towers.  It was a clip from the umbrella riots in Hong Kong where the rioters were breaking down public infrastructure.

Is everything perfect? Of course not. Are their people struggling? Of course. Was there food distribution problems initially?  Of course.  Is it easy? Of course not. Are most people content with the decision to do a phased lock-in of a city of 25 million people? Most of the ones that I’ve regularly followed are, if not content, they understand the reason and trust the Chinese Zero-Covid policy. Westerners need to start understanding that the Chinese people are part of their government and that they actually believe the government does what is best for the people and they have evidence and proof of this, because they are part of a very inclusive system.

Cyrus Janssen is a regular commentator on China.  He does not like the Shanghai lockdown.  This is his thread, and take a look at what the Chinese actually answered.

The conversation in China is different from the conversation in the west.  Their current concern is future management of Covid.  They have concerns that their Zero-Covid strategy needs to be adjusted.  They are in the process of refining its strategy.  They do not have concerns about their strategy, because they have the numbers.

The last report that I have is as of Saturday.  The Shanghai port STILL operating smoothly, with berthing efficiency better than 2021. The average waiting time for ships in Port is under 24 hours, and all the production units at the port maintain normal 24-hour operations, except in extreme weather. In 2021, the Port moved 47 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), ranking first globally. Throughput of international containers exceeded 6 million TEUs for the first time.

Trade between Russia and China skyrocketed. Paul from the Sirius report states it as follows:  “Western experts fail to grasp that the Global South is around 87% of the world’s population, is in its ascendancy and has a myriad of vertical growth markets now in play and is embracing the multipolar world. West meanwhile is in terminal decline.”

China and Russia trade in Q1 rose 28% to $38.2bn equivalent.

In 2021, trade turnover between Russia and China hit a record high of $146.88 billion, having surged 35.8%. In December, the Russian and Chinese presidents agreed on creating infrastructure to service trade operations between the two nations without third parties.

The ASEAN surpassed the EU to become China’s largest trading partner. China’s imports and exports with ASEAN jumped 8.4% yoy to 1.35tn yuan in Q1 accounting for 14.4% of the country’s foreign trade volume.

Beijing’s economic and trade cooperation with other countries including Russia and Ukraine remains normal.

Beijing has refused to join sanctions against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine, saying cooperation between China and Russia “has no limits.” The two countries have been switching from the US dollar and the euro to local currencies in trade to avoid possible sanctions.

It’s all digital currency for the years ahead for China. Make a strong distinction in your mind between CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), Cryptocurrencies and China’s digital currency. They are not all the same.

Russia is increasing its holdings in Yuan. This is explained as underscoring the falling credibility of the US dollar, as the US has been weaponizing the dollar as a financial weapon instead of a trusted international payment currency.  This via Xu Wenhong, a research fellow at the Institute of Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

From the Here Comes China newsletter by Godfree Roberts, we see this:

Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics arm, rolled out a digital end-to-end e-commerce logistics service that includes pickup, warehousing, supply chain, customs clearance, and last-mile delivery.  You may think this is for China internally and it might well be so, but China has now something like 3,000 warehouses across the world, supporting the products that the belt and road transport, to get to the last-mile delivery.

Earlier I referred to the Quad as well as to the fact that China is doing its own selective decoupling. The Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline, which runs through Mongolia, is specifically aimed at reducing any Chinese dependence on Quad Members.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Energy/China-turns-to-Russian-gas-to-curb-dependence-on-Quad-members

To conclude before we get to a lighter note, the west has no competitive edge any longer in trade, very little in war if we look at it as of today (they can still wipe us all out and turn us into glass), and have no honor left. They are not serious people and cannot be allowed to try and run our planet any longer, exclusively to their own benefit.

From Godfree’s newsletter about one of China’s minorities that I had actually never heard of. The Naxi, one of China’s 55 ethnic minorities, have long been popular with anthropologists, but its folk music is routinely overlooked. A new album hopes to change that. It might not be your style, but something different and away from war is always welcome.


Many of the data points here are courtesy of Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China. You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

Deconstructing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s position regarding Russia-Ukraine Crisis

April 09, 2022

Source

by Mansoureh Tajik 

At the outset of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s position and views were clearly spelled out by the Leader, Ayatullah Khamenei, and by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The crux of Iran’s stance is that the Islamic Republic of Iran does not condone foreign military advancements into any sovereign country by any power due to the fact that death of innocent civilians, destruction of critical civil infrastructures, regional instability, and unpredictable adverse outcomes become inevitable. At the same time, Iran considers the United States to be the main instigator and culprit of the crises in Ukraine. In an earlier article posted on the Saker blog (see here), I quoted Ayatullah Khamenei pointing to some of these concerns:

 “[United States of] America is a mafia regime and Ukraine, too, is a victim of this policy of crisis creation. [United States of] America brought Ukraine to this point by infiltrating into the internal affairs of that country, inciting uprisings against its governments by velvet movements or color revolutions, by presence of US senators in the gatherings of oppositional groups and by creating, toppling this government and replacing it with that government. Naturally, they led to this point. We, of course, are against wars and destruction anywhere. This is our fixed policy.”

This official and transparent stance is clearly devised with full awareness of geopolitical developments and events (both overt and covert) of the past few decades. It is quite evident that key decision makers in Iran neither condone Russia’s military advancement into Ukraine nor do they consider Ukraine to be a genuinely sovereign country free from foreign meddling and interventions.

In fact, we could imagine Ukraine to be just as independent as many other countries in Europe and Asia and the likes of United Arab Emirates, Saudi kingdom, Japan, South Korea, and more. These countries have allowed their respective lands to become stumping grounds for arrogant powers to set up shops to export crime and mischief to their neighbors and beyond. In the shortcomings of their rulers, people cannot be absolved of responsibility.

The Iranians have years of empirical evidence and first-hand field experience as proof that most of the above named countries and nations lack independent decision-making capacity. In private conversations, too, many of their [official] people make embarrassingly heart-felt confessions to our official people about their lack of core endoskeleton when it comes to reneging on their obligations to Iran due to incessant pressure from the United States.

It is not difficult to deduct, therefore, that officials in Iran consider Russia’s goals and concerns to be legitimate and well-founded. However, they also consider an all-out military advancement into Ukraine may not have been the most prudent and sagacious way to address Russia’s well-justified concerns.

So, what do they suggest? Exactly how long should Russia have waited to take any action serious enough not to fall on deaf ears? Should Russia have waited and fought the NATO-trained- Nazi-inspired foot soldiers of the West conduct operations in Moscow neighborhoods or are they suggesting an alternative? Did/does Russia have any alternatives? More significantly, how are all these convoluted aspects of Russian-Ukrainian crises teased apart in terms of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy, its strategic partnership with Russia, Iran’s internal affairs, and the Resistance’s activities in the region?

In this essay, I hope to explore limited dimensions of some of these questions as well as discuss other contrasting views circulating in Iran about the subject. Hopefully, this exploration could illuminate Iran’s current position and possible future position.

Other Viewpoints about Russia-Ukraine Crises Circulating within Iran

Some alternative views that stand in stark contrast with the views expressed by our Leader, Ayatullah Khamenei, and the government officials here have been channeled through some well-known personalities such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an ex-president of Iran. Mr. Ahmadinejad has been quite vocal about his views. In fact, Mr. Ahmadinejad issued an official statement in this regard addressing the government of Russia and the Russian people, the Ukrainian people, and Mr. Zelensky.

Ahmadinejad’s views obtained some currency in some circles but are regarded as fringe by a great majority of the public here. I think it would be useful to translate at least parts of his statements in order to have a more well-rounded understanding of various perspectives inside Iran.

In a videotaped statement he released about the events (see here), he declared (I transcribe and translate):

“Without a doubt, the attack and aggression by Russia against Ukraine is a critical event and an introduction to many more critical events that follow. Here, for the nth time and very frankly, I must severely condemn the attack and aggression of Russia against Ukraine. Before, I spoke about the plot to change the political map of the world by [the US] America, Russia, and China. These three countries, in a coordinated fashion, have devised a plan to secure their power and control over the world once again. That is, with this enormous wave of humans, of human awakening that has begun, they have become frightened. They say, very soon, this wave would surpass the world. They sat and made a decision that one would take Ukraine, the other one would take Taiwan, and this one would come for Iran. That means, they would remove their gravest worries and, at the same time, they dominate.

Now, if, in our mind, we review the world, if this happens, then there is no place for anyone to say anything. Today, and fortunately, the epic presence and the heroic resistance by the Ukrainian people have introduced serious obstacles in execution and completion of that plot. They hit a bump.”

I do not intent to translate the entire 13-minute statement. In the last couple of minutes of his script-reading speech, he finishes with the following pronouncements:

The Iranian nation holds in high esteem their [the Ukrainian people’s] participation and epic resistance and prays for their victory against the aggressors. The Iranian nation asks God to prevent the expansionist gluts from continuing and to end the war, and to make possible the sweet flow of life among all people, including two great people of Ukraine and Russia. At the end, once again, I hold in high regard the resistance of the nation of Ukraine, President Zelensky, and other officials in Ukraine. And I send to them the friendship and prayer of the Iranian nation.

I take refuge in God when He turns us into a lesson for others! Firstly, I wonder if Mr. Ahmadinejad realizes that he is reading an exact script written by major architects of the crises in Ukraine. Secondly, I am not too sure how many times he must be reminded that he is no longer the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran and he is not authorized to speak on behalf of this nation. Thirdly, his statement reflects an array of uninformed, non-critical, and non-strategic thinking in a matter that is rather convoluted, complex, and rather nuanced. It is unfair and unjust in what it deliberately omits.

In the entire 13-minute video statement, there is not a single reference to the events of the past few years in Ukraine (including 30 plus US-financed and operated biological weapons labs about which he wrote an official complaint to the UN and to which I referred in one of the essays I wrote last year about COVID in the Islamic Republic of Iran (See here). Neither is there any mention of the role the US-West, Inc. has played in destabilizing that country and using it as a lever against Russia and a launching pad for all sorts of mischief in the region.

I must open a parenthesis here and add that I do not find Ahmadinejad’s stance all that surprising. When Daesh/ISIS was advancing in Syria and was busy chopping heads right, left, and center, he came forcefully against Bashar Asad and the Syrian government. He fiercely objected to Iran’s involvement and help in that country and issued statements in that regard. I referenced some of these when discussing his disqualification in the Iranian presidential election in another essay published last year (See here). Had he been in charge of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s overall foreign policy, we have little doubt would have now been busy fighting ISIS or some other variants inside our own cities and neighborhoods. Close parenthesis. We thank God Almighty for His Blessings in the form of a wise Leader.

As I mentioned, the majority of the public in Iran do not share Ahmadinejad’s particular view. There are some though who would like him to join his brother in armchair, Mr. President Zelensky, in his fight in Ukraine. Perhaps after they have defeated Russia, they could have a live show discussing the following two videos on Ukrainian national television: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Homosexuality versus Freedom Gay Fetish Dance with President Zelensky. Who knows, perhaps he could lead him to the Straight Path.

Again, I take refuge in God when He leaves us (due to our own arrogance and delusions of grandeur) to our own devices even for a nanosecond.

The Boundaries of Iran-Russia Relationship and Partnership

Successful collaboration and strategic coordination of operations between Iran and Russia in the battlefields of Syria, geopolitical and economic shifts in Asia and Eurasia, and perhaps a sense of comradery primarily due to the fact that both countries have been fierce targets for “crippling” sanctions by the US/West Inc. have all made the relationship between Iran and Russia to a phenomenon that is rather interesting and noteworthy. I discussed some contemporary and historical aspects of this relationship in another essay published last year (See here).

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s general framework for any foreign relation and partnership is firmly rooted in the jealously guarded Revolutionary motto of “Neither East, Nor West”, freedom, and full independence from any foreign pressure and interference. Its relationship with Russia, too, must be viewed, first and foremost, within that framework. So, what does this tell us about Iran’s policy and approach towards these particular crises?

Let us be rather frank and transparent and deal with the obvious first. Russian military’s advancement into Ukraine has suddenly resulted in some favorable outcomes for Iran and for some other countries friendly to Iran in the region. It has sent panic, disillusion about the US power, and insecurity to some other countries not so friendly to Iran.

Higher oil prices, halt in all sorts of restrictions on oil export, higher enthusiasm on the part of the US and Europe to reach an agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran over JCPOA, which has been in coma and on life support for a while now, sudden visits by keepers of oil wells with flag masquerading as Arab nations to bury the hatchet and make nice with Iran have also been among the consequences.

Missile attacks by Yemen on Saudi Oil facilities had never produced any sort of meaningful change in the attitude of the aggressors (US-Saudi-Brits) before. With Russia’s retaliatory work and countermeasures, the last couple of missile attacks by Yemen, however, seem to have become highly effective since they occurred at the right time. Oh, our cup runneth over!

Why? Three important reasons: 1) The US-West Inc. cannot fight effectively in more than one meaningful front at a time; 2) The US and Western nations cannot weather the storms of high energy and oil-based products (which includes almost everything). So, it is attempting to temporarily put Iran and others in our region on the back burner; and 3) There are always always always limits to how much media magic shows can achieve. The US-West Inc. will realize this, as always, soon enough.

Regardless of Russia’s mode of dealing with Ukraine problem and current needs for the US-West, Inc. to keep oil prices low, I can state for a fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran will, God Willing, never sacrifice its long-term goals for any short-term superficial gains.

Iran’s two main priorities were and are the eviction of all US forces from our region in retaliation for the martyrdom of our great Sardar, Shahid Soleimani, and dismantling of the illegitimate Zionist regime to return the land of Palestine to its rightful owners, the true Palestinians (Muslim, Christians, Jews, Arabs, and non-Arabs). Her collaboration or deal with Russia or any other nation or group of nations with plus or minus designations in ANY activity, exchange, and operation, be they short-, medium-, or long-term, will be directly related to how such collaborations and activities bring her a step closer to achieving the Islamic Republic of Iran’s own main goals and priorities.

In this context, it is not too difficult to see how Russia’s potential concerns with the countries and regions to her south happen to be largely alleviated simply due to the fact that they may coincide with Iran’s independent priorities and activities, be they military, economic, and political, and her vigilance in achieving her stated goals.

When the United States, Inc. attacked Iraq and removed Saddam Hussein from power, most notable think tanks in the West claimed that the Islamic Republic of Iran emerged the biggest winner. With Russia attacking Ukraine, who knows what other oppressed nations could emerge as the winners. God works in mysterious ways.

Russia-Ukraine Crisis in a Larger Inter-continental Context

In an essay titled Afghanistan, Taliban, the Resistance, and the Region (see Here), I alluded to a method used by the US-West, Inc. on Iran, Russia, and China to dismantle stability and positive developments in our region. I wrote:

“Afghanistan is a major keystone species in this ecosystem. Disintegration of Afghanistan means the new “Silk Road” will first turn into a “Rough Road” and then into an “Abandoned Road” and ultimately destroys the concord among the main players in Asia. In addition, it can serve as a tool for the application of internal-external clamp-style customized and separate pressures on Iran, Russia, China, and other countries in the region.”

Clamp-style pressures include inciting unrest, instability and sedition within each country and using belligerent neighbors from without each country. For the Islamic Republic of Iran they did/do everything they can to drag Iran’s military into Afghanistan. There is not a day that goes by and we do not hear about the massacre of Shia in this mosque and that school, in this gathering and that outing. Then, there is the Republic of Azerbaijan to the north and the Iraqi Kurdistan to the west, the oil wells with flags to the south that have each turned themselves into US-West-Zionist regime’s concubines in some form or shape. Certainly, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not take any of these lying down but we have military operations that are loud and we have calculated military operations that are silent but deadly enough.

To pressure Russia, there is Ukraine + a handful of other has-been nations proudly flying rainbow flags pretending they count for anything. And finally for China there is Tao (Taiwan + AUKUS + Occupied territories of Japan and South Korea).

The goal is rather simple, as Connable & McNerney opined in their commentary titled “The Will to Fight and the Fate of Nations,”:

 “Overmatching Russian mass and equipment is one part of a more complex and important pathway to overmatching the Russians. It is worth repeating that Russians — and Chinese, Iranian, and North Korean soldiers, sailors, airmen, and political leaders — can be broken. The U.S. military simply does not devote enough attention to understanding how to break them, or at least erode their resolve, in order to make war less likely and to make our success in war more likely and less costly.”[1]

To have a good grasp of where the authors are coming from, I highly recommend two other documents published by RAND Corporation titled: “Will to Fight: Analyzing, Modeling, and Simulating the Will to Fight of Military Units,”[2] and “National Will to Fight: Why Some States Keep Fighting and Others Don’t,”[3] from which the authors’ commentary obtains its essence.

Russia’s military advancement into Ukraine seems to have provided the US-West Inc. with a field experiment necessary to assess their “Will to Fight Model” answering the following question: “What are the political, economic, and military variables that may strengthen or weaken national will to fight, and which are most important?” Or, put more succinctly and eloquently, they wish to confirm or refute their null hypothesis of “No relationship between ‘will to fight’ (at individual, unit, national, and leadership levels) and winning the game of chicken.”

Allow me just post an image of the WTF Model[4] I have referenced for those who may not search and study the documents:

I am quite curious to see how this conceptual model, its multiple constructs, and included variables fair in this test. However, given what we have been observing in the media, I very much like to suggest the following changes to the model (let’s suppose it is an iterative model) for the sake of accuracy and add another layer that is often omitted by gods of war:

Now, I think that looks much better and more accurate. With the new model, let’s see how things turn out. Meanwhile, War on the Rocks seems to believe “Ukraine shows how Taiwan needs more air defense,”[5] based on preliminary reports of fabricated data collected from the imagined field and reported through the beacon of honesty and accuracy, Tweeter. I do not know why but the article just flashed Miller’s Death of a Salesman play before my eyes. والسلام.

Refrences

[1] War on the Rocks, B. Cannable & M. McNerney (2018). “The will to fight and the fate of nations,” Accessed online at: https://warontherocks.com/2018/12/the-will-to-fight-and-the-fate-of-nations/

[2] RAND Arroyo Center (2019). “Will to Fight: Analyzing, Modeling, and Simulating the Will to Fight of Military Units,” by B. Connable, M.J. McNerney, et al., RR2341-A, 2019. Accessed online at: www.rand.org/t/RR2341.

[3] RAND Corporation (2019). “National Will to Fight: Why Some States Keep Fighting and Others Don’t,” by M. J. McNerney, Ben Connable, et al., RR-2477-A, 2019. Accessed online at: www.rand.org/t/RR2477.

[4] RAND Corporation Brief,(2019). “Will to Fight: Returning Human Fundamentals of War.” Accessed online at: www.rand.org/t/RB10040.

[5] War on the Rocks. “Ukraine Shows Why Taiwan Needs More Air Defense,” by H. Halem and E. Freymann, published on April 7, 2022. Accessed online at: https://warontherocks.com/2022/04/ukraine-shows-why-taiwan-needs-more-air-defense/

Russian Judo Tears the West Apart

Washington’s sanctions on Moscow will destroy Europe, not Russia

MARCH 8, 2022

Washington’s ‘replacement strategy’ for sanctioned Russian oil and gas imports appears to be to cozy up to its oil-producing arch-enemies Iran and Venezuela. Photo Credit: The Cradle

PEPE ESCOBAR  

The official Russian blacklist of hostile sanctioning nations includes the US, the EU, Canada and, in Asia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore (the only one from Southeast Asia). Notice how that ‘international community’ keeps shrinking.

The Global South should be aware that no nations from West Asia, Latin America and Africa have joined Washington’s sanctions bandwagon.

Moscow has not even announced its own package of counter-sanctions. Yet an official decree “On Temporary Order of Obligations to Certain Foreign Creditors,” which allows Russian companies to settle their debts in rubles, provides a hint of what’s to come.

Russian counter-measures all revolve around this new presidential decree, signed last Saturday, which economist Yevgeny Yushchuk defines as a “nuclear retaliatory landmine.” .

It works like this: to pay for loans obtained from a sanctioning country exceeding 10 million rubles a month, a Russian company does not have to make a transfer. They ask for a Russian bank to open a correspondent account in rubles under the creditor’s name. Then the company transfers rubles to this account at the current exchange rate, and it’s all perfectly legal.

Payments in foreign currency only go through the Central Bank on a case-by-case basis. They must receive special permission from the Government Commission for the Control of Foreign Investment.

What this mean in practice is that the bulk of the $478 billion or so in Russian foreign debt may “disappear” from the balance sheets of western banks. The equivalent in rubles will be deposited somewhere, in Russian banks, but western banks, as things stand, can’t access it.

It is debatable whether this straightforward strategy was the product of those non-sovereignist brains gathered at the Russian Central Bank. More likely, there has been input from influential economist Sergei Glazyev, also a top former advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin on regional integration: here is a revised edition, in English, of his groundbreaking essay Sanctions and Sovereignty, which I have previously summarized.

Meanwhile, Sberbank confirmed it will issue Russia’s Mir debit/credit cards co-badged with China’s UnionPay. Alfa-Bank – the largest private bank in Russia – will also issue UnionPay credit and debit cards. Although only introduced five years ago, 40 percent of Russians already have a Mir card for domestic use. Now they will also be able to use it internationally, via UnionPay’s enormous network. And without Visa and Mastercard, commissions on all transactions will remain in the Russia-China sphere. De-dollarization in effect.

Mr. Maduro, gimme some oil

The Iran sanctions negotiations in Vienna may be reaching the last stage – as acknowledged even by Chinese diplomat Wang Qun. But it was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who introduced a new, crucial variable into Vienna’s final discussions.

Lavrov made his eleventh-hour demand quite explicit: “We have asked for a written guarantee…that the current [Russian sanctions] process triggered by the United States does not in any way damage our right to free and full trade, economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with the Islamic Republic.”

As per the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement of 2015, Russia receives enriched uranium from Iran and exchanges it for yellowcake, and in parallel, is reconverting Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant into a research center. Without Iranian enriched uranium exports there’s simply no JCPOA deal. It boggles the mind that US Secretary of State Blinken does not seem to understand that.

Everyone in Vienna, sidelines included, knows that for all actors to sign on the JCPOA revival, no nation must be individually targeted in terms of trading with Iran. Tehran also knows it.

So what’s happening now is an elaborate game of Persian mirrors, coordinated between Russian and Iranian diplomacy. Moscow’s Ambassador to Tehran, Levan Jagaryan, attributed the fierce reaction to Lavrov in some Iranian quarters to a “misunderstanding.” This will all be played out in the shade.

An extra element is that according to a Persian Gulf intel source with privileged Iranian access, Tehran may be selling as many as three million barrels of oil a day already, “so if they do sign a deal it will not affect supply at all, only they will be paid more.”

The US administration of President Joe Biden is now absolutely desperate: today it banned all imports of oil and gas from Russia, which happens to be the second-largest exporter of oil to the US, behind Canada and ahead of Mexico. The US’ big Russian-energy ‘replacement strategy’ is to beg for oil from Iran and Venezuela.

So, the White House sent a delegation to talk to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, led by Juan Gonzalez, the White House’s top Latin America adviser. The US offer is to “alleviate” sanctions on Caracas in exchange for oil.

The United States government has spent years – if not decades – burning all bridges with Venezuela and Iran. The USG destroyed Iraq and Libya, and isolated Venezuela and Iran, in its attempt to take over global oil markets – just to end up miserably trying to buy out both and escape from being crushed by the economic forces it has unleashed. That proves, once again, that imperial ‘policy makers’ are utterly clueless.

Caracas will request the elimination of all sanctions on Venezuela and the return of all its confiscated gold. And it seems like none of this was cleared with ‘President’ Juan Guaido, who since 2019, was the only Venezuelan leader “recognized” by Washington.

Social cohesion torn apart

Oil and gas markets, meanwhile, are in total panic. No western trader wants to buy Russian gas; and that has nothing to do with Russia’s state-owned energy behemoth Gazprom, which continues to duly supply customers that signed contracts with fixed tariffs, from $100 to $300 (others are paying over $3,000 in the spot market).

European banks are less and less willing to grant loans for energy trade with Russia because of the sanctions hysteria. A strong hint that the Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 may be literally six feet under is that importer Wintershall-Dea wrote off its share of the financing, de facto assuming that the pipeline will not be launched.

Everyone with a brain in Germany knows that two extra Liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals – still to be constructed – will not be enough for Berlin’s needs. There is simply not enough LNG to supply them. Europe will have to fight with Asia over who can pay more. Asia wins.

Europe imports roughly 400 billion cubic meters of gas a year, with Russia responsible for 200 billion of this. There’s no way Europe can find $200 billion anywhere else to replace Russia – be it in Algeria, Qatar or Turkmenistan. Not to mention its lack of necessary LNG terminals.

So obviously the top beneficiary of all the mess will be the US – which will be able to impose not only their terminals and control systems, but also profit from loans to the EU, sales of equipment, and full access to the whole EU energy infrastructure. All LNG installations, pipelines and warehouses will be connected to a sole network with a single control room: an American business dream.

Europe will be left with reduced gas production for its – dwindling – industry; job losses; decreasing quality of life standards; increased pressure over the social security system; and, last but not least, the necessity to apply for extra American loans. Some nations will go back to coal for heating. The Green Parade will be livid.

What about Russia? As a hypothesis, even if all its energy exports were curtailed – and they won’t be, their top clients are in Asia – Russia would not have to use its foreign reserves.

The Russophobic all-out attack on Russian exports also targets palladium metals – vital for electronics, from laptops to aircraft systems. Prices are skyrocketing. Russia controls 50% of the global market. Then there are noble gases – neon, helium, argon, xenon – essential for production of microchips. Titanium has risen by a quarter, and both Boeing – by a third – and Airbus – by two thirds – rely on titanium from Russia.

Oil, food, fertilizers, strategic metals, neon gas for semiconductors: all burning at the stake, at the feet of Witch Russia.

Some Westerners who still treasure Bismarckian realpolitik have started wondering whether shielding energy (in the case of Europe) and selected commodity flows from sanctions may have everything to do with protecting an immense racket: the commodity derivatives system.

After all, if that implodes, because of a shortage of commodities, the whole western financial system blows up. Now that’s a real system failure.

The key issue for the Global South to digest is that the “west” is not committing suicide. What we have here, essentially, is the United States willfully destroying German industry and the European economy – bizarrely, with their connivance.

To destroy the European economy means not allowing extra market space for China, and blocking the inevitable extra trade which will be a direct consequence of closer exchanges between the EU and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s biggest trade deal.

The end result will be the US eating European savings for lunch while China expands its middle class to over 500 million people. Russia will do just fine, as Glazyev outlines: sovereign – and self-sufficient.

American economist Michael Hudson has concisely sketched the lineaments of imperial self-implosion. Yet way more dramatic, as a strategic disaster, is how the deaf, dumb and blind parade toward deep recession and near-hyperinflation will rip what’s left of the west’s social cohesion apart. Mission Accomplished.

(Republished from The Cradle by permission of author or representative)

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Is Afghanistan the First Domino to Fall?

War and Conflict — Strategic Culture

August 22, 2021

Tim Kirby

It certainly looks like a domino that has been put in position poised to fall waiting for others to take their places in the line.

With America withdrawing from Afghanistan abruptly after some 20 years, one big question is being discussed throughout the strategic sphere by those both in big institutions and laying on their couches – is the American loss in Afghanistan the first domino to fall in the eventual collapse of the Global Hegemon? After all, Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires” probably because it is an expression that sounds nice and because the Soviets fell apart a few years after losing to the locals. So this must be the “beginning of the end” right?

Well, we should never be so quick as to jump onto narrow narratives without looking at the big picture. Side-by-side images of the Americans and their allies fleeing Vietnam and Afghanistan by helicopter are flooding Facebook, posted by those in the Alternative Media who take great joy in any loss by the 21st century’s “Evil Empire” but they seem to forget that just a few decades after losing in Vietnam the United States won the Cold War and took dominance over the planet.

Image: Strategic meme-of-the-year material for 2021.

No single event no matter how photogenic it is, is not going to be a sign of the grand demise of the “Sole Hyperpower”. It really took from the beginning of WWI till the end of WWII for the British to truly fall apart as a geopolitical force. The Soviet Union fell much quicker, but it is very widely believed that Perestroika (or the The Reykjavik Summit) was the real first white flag that devolved into the breakup of the union years later. The Roman Empire was a vastly slower burn than either of these two modern behemoths.

This means we should not be debating if Afghanistan is the first “domino” to fall, but instead we should really take a look at what the rest of the dominos falling would look like. At this point we can surely put together a rough picture of what the next tiles to fall would look like, i.e. what other major failures/events would really be signs of the Monopolar World meeting its demise? The following are a few humble offerings as to what these dominos could be…

Abandoning the Maidan Regime in the Ukraine

The unexpected surrender and soon to be total fall of Kabul has certainly resonated in another city that starts with the letter K. If Washington is finding it necessary to abandon a twenty-year Nation-Building project that they have invested vast sums of money and manpower into, that means that back-burner Kiev could be cut loose in the near future, putting the fate of the region in the hands of the Russians.

Image: We all know who secures Ukrainian “independence”.

The Maidan has been a major roadblock for Russia. As Brzeziński wrote, “It cannot be stressed enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire” and Washington has done an absolutely fantastic job of turning the region into an “anti-Russia” as Putin recently called it.

If the Maidan project were to be abandoned, it would become another quite massive domino. Washington giving up on Kiev, resulting in that current political entity probably being divided up, mostly going to Moscow, would symbolize either the USA’s inability to stop the rise of the Russians or their begrudging acceptance of it.

Taiwan, Hong Kong and/or South Korea

The Trump-era State Department Democracy storm that was inflicted on Hong Kong has seemed to fade away, but a total abandonment of the thorns in the side of the Chinese Dragon would also result in another domino being placed into position.

Image: Not State Department = No Professional Protest Organizers in China.

Bailing on Hong Kong activists or failing to maintain Taiwan’s independence would certainly present a strong sign of weakness and inability from the standpoint of Washington. Furthermore, although China has never had a passionate love for the North Koreans, having South Korea as essentially an American beachhead right next door has been a cause of concern for decades for Beijing. The South Korean economy on paper looks amazing and their cities dazzle with progress but what would be the effects of Ameria giving up on them? Is South Korea able to stand as a great nation, or is it really only successful thanks to the American umbrella? The answer to that would reveal itself within two weeks of an America-free Korean Peninsula.

Simply put, if Washington gives up on Hong Kong, Taiwan and/or South Korea it is another sign of the end for sure as China would be more or less rid of these weak points that have been exploited against it for decades.

A Loss of Control Over the “Bigs”

Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Agro and so on, have dutifully served Washington’s interests despite their theoretically international nature. But we should never forget that large for-profit entities are quite “whoreish” and will serve whichever master they need to. If Washington cannot control the Bigs as it used to, this would be another domino.

To a small extent this is happening in Hollywood where the Chinese market’s (and its official and unofficial) demands are having a major impact. But if it comes to a point that Hollywood is only making a chunk of the world’s blockbusters rather than nearly all of them it would be the end of the total unobstructed Soft Power dominance of this American institution. Or even worse, if Hollywood can be bought out from under America then a new global narrative could be spun quite quickly.

If the Hegemon fades, the leadership of the Bigs will feel increasing pressure from the Russians, Chinese and Arabs to give up the whole “gay thing” and portray these societies in a positive light whether through bribery or threats of force. Apple may be “designed in California” but if need be they would surely bail for greener pastures rather than living a life of poverty loyal to a failed America.

Mexico, Lakotastan and African-America

The United States has done a fantastic job of fostering independence movements within its rivals while making diverse masses “American” at home. However, as with the Soviets and the British, waves of breakaway republics and successful secessionist movements would be a very big domino indeed.

The Soviets tried to create an African workers uprising in America in the 60’s and failed miserably, but BLM could get out of control, or in the case of a dying USA, could become used by foreign powers. An Afro-American Maidan would certainly be another sign of doom.

The rise of an independent Native-American state like the Lakota Indians’ lands would be yet another tile being stood into place, opening the door for further break-away attempts.

When the Mexicans lost the Mexican-American war they lost the chance to become the dominant power on the continent. Few remember, but the destiny of this New World was not just given to the Americans wrapped in a box. If the Mexicans had won the war they would be the ones with access to the Atlantic (via the Gulf of Mexico) and the Pacific simultaneously, not Washington. It would have been very possible for them to secure the entire West Coast. A Mexico that would begin to take action as an independent actor would certainly be another sign of serious trouble for Washington. Thus far, on the North American continent “there can be only one” but perhaps that isn’t necessarily going to always remain the same “one”.

The death of the Dollar or collapse of the Federal Reserve

If the dollar were to collapse, or there were serious problems at the Federal Reserve, as have been predicted for many years due to insane national debt, this would of course be the biggest domino of all. The West has been able to accumulate bafflingly massive debt with no consequences because of the dominance of Washington. It is very hard to call in a debt from the toughest kid school surrounded by his henchmen. But when the big bully stops growing, and loses his buddies, all of a sudden getting your $5 back with a few whacks from a baseball bat becomes viable.

Image: If you are powerful enough no one can call in your debts.

No one can call in the debt of a Global Hegemon, but Regional Powers have to balance their checkbook. A decrease in power could lead to the national debt prophecy coming true in our lifetimes which would be probably the largest domino of all.

In conclusion

Is Afghanistan “the first domino to fall” in the death of the American Empire? This cannot be proven, but it certainly looks like a domino that has been put in position poised to fall waiting for others to take their places in the line. Other major defeats would be required to say for sure that this “New American Century” is over, not even making it to the one-fourth mark. It is really the other potential signs of the end that are of most concern not squabbling over Afghanistan’s domino status. So the big question is, if Washington is losing its Monopolar World Order, then where will be the next grand retreats?

التنافس على مرفأ بيروت Competition for the port of Beirut

** Please scroll down for the English Machine translation **

Lebanon: No Justice 6 Months After Blast | Human Rights Watch

التنافس على مرفأ بيروت

لم يكن خافياً حجم الأهميّة التي يعلّقها الرئيس الفرنسي أمانويل ماكرون على المساهمة التي توفرها المبادرة الفرنسيّة في تشكيل الحكومة اللبنانية لحساب حصول الشركات الفرنسيّة على دور محوريّ في مشاريع ذات جدوى اقتصادية عالية يصنَّف مرفأ بيروت بالنسبة لفرنسا في طليعتها.

جاء الاهتمام الألماني بمرفأ بيروت علنياً ومنافساً للدور الفرنسي رغم الشراكة الفرنسية الألمانية في إطار المقاربة الأوروبية الموحدة للوضع اللبناني، وهذا يكشف الأهمية النوعية التي يمثلها المرفأ في الأدوار الاقتصادية للدول الكبرى وموقعها في اقتصادات المنطقة.

ربما تكون هناك اهتمامات لا تقل عن الاهتمام الفرنسي والألماني فكثيراً ما كان لافتاً ان الصين التي تتولى معداتها تشغيل مرافئ عالمية كبرى كمرفأ بوسطن الذي يُعتبر الأول أميركياً ومرفأ أمستردام الذي يعتبر الأول في العالم، وتقول المعلومات أن الشركات الصينية تنظر لمرفأ بيروت كجزء من شبكة خطوط تجارية مع العمق الآسيويّ، تشكل السكك الحديديّة بين بيروت ودمشق من جهة وبيروت والساحل السوري من جهة موازية مكوّنات أساسية لمشروع إعادة الإعمار والاستثمار، بالإضافة إلى اهتمام كوريا الجنوبية، التي قيل إن شركاتها أعدّت دراسات لتحويل مرفأ بيروت الى نقطة وصل رئيسيّة بين الشرق والغرب.

هذا الاهتمام يؤكد بالإضافة لكونه تعبيراً عن أن لبنان ليس قضية خاسرة اقتصادياً ولا هو تفليسة تنتظر مَن يديرها، فشلَ المشاريع المنافسة لمرفأ بيروت والتي تمّ إعدادها كبدائل له، ويعتقد البعض أن تفجير المرفأ كان في خدمتها، وفي طليعتها مشروع تقدّم مرفأ حيفا المحتلة كمدخل للتجارة الدوليّة نحو العمق العربيّ والآسيويّ بالاستناد الى معاهدات التطبيع الإسرائيلية الخليجية، ويتخذ العديد من الباحثين الاقتصاديين من حادثة قناة السويس التي يعتقدون بكونها مفتعلة، دليلاً على التخبّط الإسرائيلي في السعي لضرب الخيارات المنافسة لخط حيفا نحو العمق العربي والآسيوي، ومن التمسك الدولي بقناة السويس دليلاً على تعثر المساعي الإسرائيلية.

الخلاصة التي يشترك فيها الأوروبيون هي ان التطبيع لم يخلق ولن يخلق بغياب حل للقضية الفلسطينية شروط الأمان اللازمة لعمليات تجارية ستمتد على مسافة ألف كلم تعبر في جزء منها داخل الأردن الذي كشفت الأحداث الأخيرة فيه درجة القلق من وضعه تحت تأثير ضغوط وأحداث كبرى، ما يعني أن الدور التقليدي لمرفأ بيروت والرهان على توسيعه لا يزال يشكل المحور الرئيسيّ لتجارة الترانزيت بين أوروبا والعمقين العربي والآسيوي بإجماع الشركات العالمية الكبرى شرقاً وغرباً، ما يترجم اهتماماً سياسياً من حكومات الدول المعنية بالانفتاح على لبنان ومشاريع تمويل اقتصاده، والسعي لامتلاك تأثير على المسارات السياسية فيه.

Competition for the port of Beirut

It was no secret that the French initiative, and the contribution of President, Emanuel Macron, in forming the Lebanese government to order give the French companies a pivotal role in projects of high economic feasibility that places the port of Beirut the forefront.

The German interest in the port of Beirut came publicly and competing despite the Franco-German partnership within the unified European approach towards Lebanon, and this reveals the qualitative importance that the port represents in the economic roles of the major countries and their position in the economies of the region.

It has often been remarkable that China, operating major international ports such as Boston Harbor, the first American and the port of Amsterdam, which is considered the first in the world, consider the port of Beirut as part of a network of commercial lines with Asian depth, the railway between Beirut and Damascus on the one hand and Beirut and the Syrian coast on the parallel are key components of the reconstruction and investment project, in addition to the interest of South Korea, whose companies are said to have prepared studies to turn Beirut port into a major link between the East and the West.

This interest confirms in addition to being an expression that Lebanon is not an economically lost cause nor is it bankruptcy awaiting someone to manage it, the failure of the competing projects for the port of Beirut, which have been prepared as alternatives to it, and some believe that the bombing of the port was in its service, and at the forefront of which is the project of advancing the occupied Haifa port as an entry point for international trade, with the Arab and Asian depth, based on the Israeli-Gulf normalization treaties. Many researchers believe that the Suez Canal incident is fabricated, and evidence of Israeli confusion in seeking to strike the rival options of the Haifa line towards the Arab and Asian depths, and that the international adherence to the Suez Canal is evidence of the faltering Israeli efforts.

The conclusion that the Europeans share is that normalization has not created and will not create, in the absence of a solution to the Palestinian issue, the safety conditions necessary for commercial operations that will extend over a distance of a thousand kilometers that cross in part inside Jordan, in which recent events have revealed the degree of concern about its situation under the influence of major pressures and events, which means that the traditional role of the port of Beirut and the bet on its expansion continues to be the main focus of transit trade between Europe and the Arab and Asian giants by the consensus of major international companies east and west, which translates political attention from governments Countries concerned with opening up to Lebanon and projects to finance its economy, and seeking to have an impact on its political tracks.

Iran Uses Its Grip On Strait Of Hormuz To Fight Back US-imposed Sanctions

South Front

Iran has found an original way of dealing with sanctions and limitations imposed on it by the so-called “maximum pressure” campaign launched by the Trump administration.

On January 4, the Navy of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detained a South Korea-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz over an alleged environmental pollution issue. The chemical tanker HANKUK CHEMI was inbound to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. Ahead of the incident, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations naval authority reported that an “interaction” between Iranian authorities and a merchant vessel in the Strait of Hormuz led the ship to alter its course and proceed into Iranian waters.

Following the incident, the South Korean Defense Ministry said that it will send its anti-piracy Cheonghae unit, normally based in the Gulf of Aden, along with helicopters to the Persian Gulf. The 302-strong Cheonghae unit operates a 4,500-ton destroyer, a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter and three speed boats.

The deployment of this unit is a rather a symbolic move than a practical step that should allow to protect South Korea-flagged ships in the region as Iranian forces have an overwhelming dominance there and using its conventional and asymmetric capabilities can even challenge the US military in the event of a limited military confrontation there.

Two days before the seizure of the tanker, Iran said a South Korean diplomat was due to travel to the country to negotiate over billions of dollars in its assets now frozen in Seoul. The total amount of Iranian money blocked in South Korea is up to $8.5 billion and Tehran declared its readiness to barter its money for deliveries of a variety of goods and commodities, including raw materials, medicine, petrochemicals, auto parts, home appliances.

Apparently, Iran thinks that South Korea needs some additional motivation to go contrary to the will of its Big Brother and accept the Iranian proposal.

Another important diplomatic achievement was made by Qatar, which is known as not only a Turkish ally, but also the Gulf monarchy that has constructive relations with Iran. On January 4, Saudi Arabia lifted the 4-year air, sea and land blockade that it together with the UAE, Kuwait, Egypt and Bahrain imposed on Qatar. In June 2017, the blockading countries accused Qatar, among other things, of supporting terrorism and of being too close to Iran. They severed economic and diplomatic ties with Doha and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on it. Qatar rejected all the allegations and refused to comply with a long list of demands announced by the blockading countries. So, now the anti-Qatari coalition is in retreat. The main factors that contributed to this scenario are the following:

a deep crisis faced by Saudi Arabia due to the failed intervention in Yemen and its oil war adventure;
the UAE-Saudi tensions that reached a new level due to the declining power of the Saudi Kingdom;
the growth of the influence of Iran and its popularity among the population of the Middle East due to the public rapprochement of the Gulf monarchies with Israel; the stern stance of Qatar itself that used the blockade to develop alternative alliances and strengthen relations with Turkey, Iran and even Russia to contain the pressure it faced.

The Israeli-aligned Gulf monarchies will likely try to use the lifting of the blockade to convince Doha to officially join the US-led pro-Israeli coalition. However, even if Qatar does this under the pressure of the United States and with hopes of restoring economic relations with its neighbors, this does not mean that Doha would change its de-facto regional strategy as the previous years already demonstrated that the national-oriented approach is much more useful in times of crises than empty hopes on large revenues from Israeli love.

RCEP hops on the New Silk Roads

Source

RCEP hops on the New Silk Roads

November 16, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted on Asia Times

Ho Chi Minh, in his eternal abode, will be savoring it with a heavenly smirk. Vietnam was the – virtual – host as the 10 Asean nations, plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, on the final day of the 37th Asean Summit.

RCEP, eight years in the making, binds together 30% of the global economy and 2.2 billion people. It’s the first auspicious landmark of the Raging Twenties, which started with an assassination (of Iran’s Gen. Soleimani) followed by a global pandemic and now ominous intimations of a dodgy Great Reset.

RCEP seals East Asia as the undisputed prime hub of geoeconomics. The Asian Century in fact was already in the making way back in the 1990s. Among those Asians as well as Western expats who identified it, in 1997 I published my book 21st: The Asian Century (excerpts here.)

RCEP may force the West to do some homework, and understand that the main story here is not that RCEP “excludes the US” or that it’s “designed by China”. RCEP is an East Asia-wide agreement, initiated by Asean, and debated among equals since 2012, including Japan, which for all practical purposes positions itself as part of the industrialized Global North. It’s the first-ever trade deal that unites Asian powerhouses China, Japan and South Korea.

By now it’s clear, at last in vast swathes of East Asia, that RCEP’s 20 chapters will reduce tariffs across the board; simplify customs, with at least 65% of service sectors fully open, with increased foreign shareholding limits; solidify supply chains by privileging common rules of origin; and codify new e-commerce regulations.

When it comes to the nitty gritty, companies will be saving and be able to export anywhere within the 15-nation spectrum without bothering with extra, separate requirements from each nation. That’s what an integrated market is all about.

When RCEP meets BRI

The same scratched CD will be playing non-stop on how RCEP facilitates China’s “geopolitical ambitions”. That’s not the point. The point is RCEP evolved as a natural companion to China’s role as the main trade partner of virtually every East Asian player.

Which brings us to the key geopolitical and geoeconomic angle: RCEP is a natural companion to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which as a trade/sustainable development strategy spans not only East Asia but delves deeper into Central and West Asia.

The Global Times analysis is correct: the West has not ceased to distort BRI, without acknowledging how “the initiative they have been slandering is actually so popular in the vast majority of countries along the BRI route.”

RCEP will refocus BRI – whose “implementation” stage, according to the official timetable, starts only in 2021. The low-cost financing and special foreign exchange loans offered by the China Development Bank will become much more selective.

There will be a lot of emphasis on the Health Silk Road – especially across Southeast Asia. Strategic projects will be the priority: they revolve around the development of a network of economic corridors, logistic zones, financial centers, 5G networks, key sea ports and, especially short and mid-term, public health-related high-tech.

The discussions that led to the final RCEP draft were focused on a mechanism of integration that can easily bypass the WTO in case Washington persists on sabotaging it, as was the case during the Trump administration.

The next step could be the constitution of an economic bloc even stronger than the EU – not a far-fetched possibility when we have China, Japan, South Korea and the Asean 10 working together. Geopolitically, the top incentive, beyond an array of imperative financial compromises, would be to solidify something like Make Trade, Not War.

RCEP marks the irredeemable failure of the Obama era TPP, which was the “NATO on trade” arm of the “pivot to Asia” dreamed up at the State Department. Trump squashed TPP in 2017. TPP was not about a “counterbalance” to China’s trade primacy in Asia: it was about a free for all encompassing the 600 multinational companies which were involved in its draft. Japan and Malaysia, especially, saw thought it from the start.

RCEP also inevitably marks the irredeemable failure of the decoupling fallacy, as well as all attempts to drive a wedge between China and its East Asian trade partners. All these Asian players will now privilege trade among themselves. Trade with non-Asian nations will be an afterthought. And every Asean economy will give full priority to China.

Still, American multinationals won’t be isolated, as they will be able to profit from RCEP via their subsidiaries within the 15-nation members.

What about Greater Eurasia?

And then there’s the proverbial Indian mess. The official spin from New Delhi is that RCEP would “affect the livelihoods” of vulnerable Indians. That’s code for an extra invasion of cheap and efficient Chinese products.

India was part of the RCEP negotiations from the start. Pulling out – with a “we may join later” conditional – is once again a spectacular case of stabbing themselves in the back. The fact is the Hindutva fanatics behind Modi-ism bet on the wrong horse: the US-fostered Quad partnership cum Indo-Pacific strategy, which spells out as containment of China and thus preclude closer trade ties.

No “Make in India” will compensate for the geoeconomic, and diplomatic, blunder – which crucially implies India distancing itself from the Asean 10. RCEP solidifies China, not India, as the undisputed engine of East Asian growth amid the re-positioning of supply chains post-Covid.

A very interesting geoeconomic follow-up is what will Russia do. For the moment, Moscow’s priority involves a Sisyphean struggle: manage the turbulent relationship with Germany, Russia’s largest import partner.

But then there’s the Russia-China strategic partnership –which should be enhanced economically. Moscow’s concept of Greater Eurasia involves deeper involvement both East and West, including the expansion of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), which, for instance, has free trade deals with Asean nations such as Vietnam.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is not a geoeconomics mechanism. But it’s intriguing to see what President Xi Jinping said at his keynote speech at the Council of Heads of State of the SCO last week.

This is Xi’s key quote: “We must firmly support relevant countries in smoothly advancing major domestic political agendas in accordance with law; maintaining political security & social stability, and resolutely oppose external forces interfering in internal affairs of member states under any pretext.”

Apparently this has nothing to do with RCEP. But there are quite a few intersections. No interference of “external forces”. Beijing taking into consideration the Covid-19 vaccine needs of SCO members – and this could be extended to RCEP. The SCO – as well as RCEP – as a multilateral platform for member states to mediate disputes.

All of the above points to the inter-sectionality of BRI, EAEU, SCO, RCEP, BRICS+ and AIIB, which translates as closer Asia – and Eurasia – integration, geoeconomically and geopolitically. While the dogs of dystopia bark, the Asian – and Eurasian – caravan – keeps marching on.

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

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

Source

02.08.2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES OF THE EMERGING NEW WORLD ORDER

 A

Source: New Eastern Outlook

By James O’Neill
One of the many difficulties in interpreting the statements of United States President Donald Trump is to decide what category to put his many statements (and even more prolific tweets) in.

Is it another thought bubble similar to his pronouncements on a cure for COVID-19 that was more likely to kill rather than to cure those who followed his advice? Is the latest pronouncement said with an eye to his re-election this coming November, to be discarded once that hurdle has been passed?

The answer to that question is perhaps best found by looking at his track record over the past 3 ½ years. There have been many pronouncements in the foreign policy field, but vanishingly small achievements have followed. The much-heralded nuclear deal with North Korea is one of the latest to fall by the wayside with North Korea’s president Kim announcing a resumption of nuclear testing.

Kim’s cited reason was the total absence of any concrete moves by the United States in settling their multiple outstanding issues. Kim noted, with some justification, that Trump’s negotiating technique was to demand concessions from the North Koreans which had to be fulfilled before the US would make any moves itself, such as reducing troop numbers in South Korea, or ceasing its economic warfare on the North.

It is a well-established principle that what a person does is a much more reliable indicator of future behaviour than what they say. Since becoming president, Trump has withdrawn from, or announced the United States’ intention of withdrawing from, a significant number of major treaties. These included, a by no means exhaustive list, the nuclear arms deal with Iran negotiated with the other United Nations Security Council permanent members plus Germany and European Union; the International Postal Union; the Paris climate agreement; the Trans-Pacific Partnership; UNESCO; and the Human Rights Council.

Whatever else these moves may mean; they are not the actions of a country committed to solving international problems in a multi-national format. Given this track record over the past 3+ years there is no basis for believing that they are temporary measures designed only to enhance Trump’s re-election prospects. Rather the attitude has been, “as long as you do what we want, we will stay.”

Given also the lack of any serious opposition to these moves in the US Senate or his putative presidential opposition candidate Joe Biden, it is probably safe to assume that these moves reflect a broader US approach to multilateral relations. That is, “as long as you do what we want we will stay” in any given organisation.

The reaction to unfavourable decisions by international bodies does however go further. The International Criminal Court (that the United States does not belong to) recently announced it was reopening its investigation into war crimes committed by the United States (and its allies) in Afghanistan. One might argue that this is long overdue, given that these alleged crimes have been a feature of the long 18+ years of warfare carried out on that country. This is before one even begins to contemplate the manifest lies on which the original invasion was based.

Trump’s reaction to the ICC announcement was to threaten both the organisation and its investigating staff, implying a military response if they had the temerity to indict any Americans for war crimes. The principles established in the Nuremberg and Tokyo war crimes trials are, it seems, but an historical aberration when even the investigation of what are, in reality, well documented crimes, invokes such a lawless and violent response.

It is in this context that one has to look at Trump’s sudden enthusiasm for an arms control treaty with Russia. This is the topic to be discussed at the forthcoming meeting between the United States and Russian representatives at a 22 June 2020 meeting in Vienna.

There are a number of ways to interpret the United States’ sudden enthusiasm for an agreement with Russia. The first and most obvious is that it is that the United States has realised that the modern Russian arsenal, partially detailed in President Putin’s March 2018 speech to the Russian parliament, is vastly superior to anything in the United States arsenal and that gap is unlikely to narrow, little alone close, for the foreseeable future.

The Russian (but United States resident) writer and military analyst Andre Martyanov is particularly scathing on this point, both in his books and all his website.

While that is possibly part of Trump’s motivation, this is far from being the whole explanation. One has only to look at the continuing role of the United States in Ukraine, not to mention the farcical trial of four alleged perpetrators of the shooting down of MH 17 (three Russians and one Ukrainian) to gauge a measure of United States sincerity.

Far more likely a motive is that Trump is using the meeting as part of his much wider campaign of trying to disrupt the burgeoning Russia China partnership that is going from strength to strength. Trump wants a new deal on nuclear arms that includes China, but he is silent on the other nuclear powers (Great Britain, India, France, Pakistan and Israel) all of whom have a similar or greater number of nuclear weapons than China.

China has long since passed the United States as the world’s largest economy in terms of parity purchasing power. It has formed a close and growing relationship with Russia, not only in its huge Belt and Road Initiative (with now more than 150 countries) but in a series of other organisations such as the Shanghai Corporation Organisation and ASEAN that is presenting a radically different model of economic co-operation and development than the exploitative western model that has dominated for the past 300 years.

This threat to the United States’ self-defined role as the world’s dominant power did not commence during Trump’s presidency, and the United States reaction to it will not cease with the ending of that presidency, either at the end of this year or in four years’ time. If Biden wins in November, we may be spared the endless tweets and bombastic behaviour, but it would be naïve to anticipate any significant change in United States foreign policy.

Therein lies the greatest danger to world peace. The likely future trends arising out of the growing might of China and its relationship with Russia have recently been analysed by the imminent Russian academic Sergey Karaganov. His analysis of the developing China Russia relationship and its geopolitical implications was recently published in an Italian outlet and conveniently summarised in English by Pepe Escobar in his article “Russia Aiming to Realise Greater Eurasian Dream”.

Karaganov argues that Russia’s growing relationship with China represents a wholly new non-aligned movement centred in the greater Eurasian landmass. Unlike the British and the later United States models which depended on invasion, occupation and exploitation of the natural resources of the conquered nations, the new Eurasian model is much more likely to recognise the individual rights and aspirations of the participating nations and pursue policies of mutual benefit.

None of which is seen as other than a threat to the United States and the model it seeks to impose upon the world. Trump’s recent gestures towards Russia need to be interpreted in that light. The United States has no genuine interest in the welfare and prosperity of either Russia or China. Rather, they exist as pieces to be used in the United States version of the world chess board, manipulated to try and maintain the old model of Western, and in particular, United States dominance.

The reluctance of a growing number of European countries to subscribe to that version is more apparent by the day. Therein lies the challenge, the prospect for a better future for the countries joining the pivot to the east, and the greatest danger from a desperate United States unwilling to acknowledge that its days of dominance are rapidly disappearing.

As the Indian commentator M.K. Bhadrakumar says: “Trump’s diatribe against the ICC exposes the hypocrisy of American policies, which keeps blabbering about a rules based international order while acting with impunity whenever it chooses, for geopolitical reasons.” He cites examples and then concludes that “America under Trump has now become the rogue elephant in the international system.” That is, with respect, a perfect summation of where we are at present.

Corona Crisis: a Viral Episode or a Half-Life Nightmare*

 BY GILAD ATZMON

radioctive CV19.jpg

By Gilad Atzmon

Herd Immunity Ratio

As an intellectual exercise let’s think of an imaginary state, “State A.” Our fictional State A is devastated that 100 of its citizens are infected with Covid-19. For this exercise, we accept that these 100 citizens are representative of State A‘s demography, classes, ethnicities and so on. Apparently, State A’s nightmare is just the beginning because out of its 100 Covid-19 carriers, not one survives the next three weeks.

Let’s now imagine another case, we will call “State B.” State B is similar to state A in terms of its size, population, geography, climate, culture, ethnicity, nutrition, etc. In State B 100 citizens also tested positive for Covid-19. Following the experience of State A, State B braces itself for the possibility that all its infected citizens may perish but then for reasons that are not yet clear to us, no one in state B dies. And if this is not different enough, hardly any of the 100 develop any symptoms.

The crude difference between State A and B may tell us something about the herd immunity in States A and B. It is easy to detect that the ratio created by the number of fatalities (F) divided by the number of those infected (I) is an indication of the level of immunity or ‘herd immunity’ in a given region or a state.

State A: F/I = 100/100=1
State B: F/I = 0/100=0

State A’s immunity ratio equals 1. This means that anyone who contracts the virus in State A will likely die. In state B, on the other hand, one is likely to survive the virus. In fact, they may, without knowing it, have already survived.

But let us now consider some more realistic cases. In “State C,” again, a state similar to A and B, out of 100 who tested Covid-19 positive, 10 people died within the next few weeks.

State C: F/I=10/100=0.1

The herd immunity ratio in State C is 0.1. In terms of herd immunity, State C is far better off than State A as a virally infected subject may benefit from a 0.9 chance to survive. But State C’s situation is not as good as in State B where no one is expected to die as the F/I ratio in State B is O. We can see that the smaller the F/I ratio is, the greater is the herd immunity in a given state or a region.

But let us look at another realistic case. In “State D” out of 100 patients only 1 died within a few weeks.

State D: F/I=1/100=0.01.

This means that in State D the herd immunity is close to perfect. Someone who contracts the Covid-19 virus has only a remote chance that he will lose his life. In other words, the survival rate is 0.99

State C and D are not completely imaginary cases. The F/I ratio in State C is a good representation of the numbers we saw in Northern Italy, NYC, Spain, UK and other vulnerable regions that have suffered heavily in the last few weeks. The ratio in State D is very similar to South Korea and Israel. Though many people are identified with Covid-19 in these two states alone, very few have died.

Such a methodical search for herd immunity ratio may help to identify the survival rate in different states, regions and cities. It may help us to determine policy; to decide who, what and how to lockdown or maybe not to lockdown at all. It can also help to locate the origin and the spreaders of the disease as we have a good reason to believe that the regions with the most immunity to a given viral infection have likely experienced the disease in the past and have developed some form of resistance.

In reality, this model is problematic for many reasons and can hardly be applied. As things stand (in reality), we are comparing data that was collected under different circumstances and using various procedures designed with completely different strategies and philosophies. Both Israel and South Korea, for instance, conducted testing on mass scale and hence, identified many more carriers. More crucially both Israel and S. Korea made a huge effort to identify super spreaders and applied strict isolation measures to those spreaders and those who were infected by them. Britain, USA and Italy on the other hand conducted limited testing and have generally tested those who developed symptoms or were suspected of being infected.

Dr. Erickson COVID-19 Briefing – “millions of cases, small amount of death, millions of cases, small amount of death..”

But there is a far greater problem with the above herd immunity ratio model. It assumes that we know what we are dealing with i.e., an infectious viral situation, while the evidence may point otherwise.


The Radioactive Clock

It has become clear that the health crisis we are facing isn’t consistent with anything we are familiar with. Those who predicted a colossally genocidal plague weren’t necessarily stupid or duplicitous. They assumed that they knew the root cause of the current crisis. They applied recognized models and algorithms associated with viral pandemics. They ended up eating their words, not because their models were wrong but because they applied their models to the wrong event. While no one can deny the alarming exponential growth of the disease, it is the unusual ‘premature’ curve-flattening point and then the rapid decline of infections which no one explained. In fact, some still prefer to deny it.

Many of us remember that our so-called ‘experts’ initially tended to accuse China of ‘hiding the real figures’ as no one could believe that the virus, all of a sudden, pretty much ran out of steam. Some also claimed that Iran was faking its figures to make its regime look better. Then came South Korea and the scientific community started to admit that despite its initial rapid exponential growth, for an unexplained reason, the ‘virus’ seems to run out of energy in an unpredictable fashion: the curve straightens out almost abruptly and starts to drop soon after, almost literally disappearing to the point where even a country as enormous as China passes days without diagnosing a single new Covid-19 carrier.

When Italy experienced its Corona carnage, every health ‘expert’ predicted that when the ‘virus’ slipped out of the rich Lombardy region and made it to the poor south, we would see real genocide. That didn’t happen.

Rarely we see scientists sticking their necks out telling the truth. This interview with Swedish Prof. Johan Giesecke is a must watch!

We have also started to notice that lockdowns have not necessarily saved the situation and that adopting relatively light ‘lockdown’ measures doesn’t translate into a total disaster as Sweden has managed to prove. The ‘virus,’ appears to stop spreading according to its own terms rather than the terms we impose upon it.

dailyincreaseGA.jpg

Thinking about the anomalies to do with the virus in analytical mathematical terms, as opposed to seeing the virus in biological or medical terms, has made me believe that a paradigm shift may be inevitable. We seem to have been applying the wrong kind of science to a phenomenon that is not really clear to us. This may explain what led a British ‘scientist’ to reach a ludicrous and farfetched estimate that Britain could be heading towards an astronomic death figure of 510.000. Following the same flawed algorithm, Anthony Fauci advised the American president that America could see two million dead. Both scientists were wrong by a factor of 25-40 times. Such a mistake in scientific prediction should be unforgivable considering the damage it inflicted on the world’s economy and its future. One might say that the good news is that our governments are finally listening to scientists, the tragedy, however, is that they are listening to the most idiotic scientists around.

Looking at the tsunami of raw data regarding worldwide spread of Covid 19 reveals a lot, perhaps more than we are willing to admit at this stage. The numbers, the shape of the Corona growth curve and the manner in which it flattens and declines suggests to me that something different may be at play. It seems as if the disease is shaped by an autonomous internal clock that determines its time frame and that it is not impeded by any form of organic resistance such as antibodies or herd immunity. The curve’s rise toward that flattening instant is indeed characterized by consistent and exponential growth. But then, in a seemingly arbitrary manner, the disaster stops its increase and the numbers of those infected by Covid-19 starts to drop.

Looking for such a pattern that produces an exponential growth that comes to a sudden end calls to attention the concepts of radioactivity in general and of the half-life in particular.

Each radioactive isotope has its own decay pattern. The rate at which a radioactive isotope decays is measured in ‘half-life.’ The term half-life is defined as the time it takes for one-half of the atoms of a radioactive material to disintegrate. Radioactive decay is the disintegration of an unstable atom with an accompanying emission of radiation. The change from an unstable atom to a completely stable atom may require several disintegration steps and radiation will be given off at each step.

Half-life is a measurement of time (set by the radioactive isotope) that involves a repeated release of radiation. Each time radiation is released the radioactive isotope is splitting in half, this repeats until it either reaches stability or maybe becomes ineffective. If you bear the half-life dynamic in mind you can see how one person can ‘infect’ or shall I say, radiate an entire stadium a few times over during a two hour football match. All it takes is a radioisotope with a half-life cycle of a few seconds.

Once the atom reaches a stable configuration, no more radiation is given off. For this reason, radioactive sources become weaker with time, as more and more unstable atoms become stable atoms, less radiation is produced and eventually the material will become non-radioactive. I wonder whether this could provide an explanation for the abrupt curve flattening that is associated with Covid-19

What may be possible is that Covid 19 is not the root cause of the current disease, it may instead be a by-product of a radioactive interaction. I am not in any position to substantiate this theory. Instead, I offer an alternative way of thinking about the problem that may shed light on the situation. If Covid-19 is a by-product of radiation, then the sudden decrease in radioactivity due to the nature of half-life reactions can explain why the virus loses its growth energy when it seems as if it has become unstoppable.
If this theory has any merit, then we are misdiagnosing the Corona crisis, misapplying the science and implementing the wrong strategies. It may also indicate that herd immunity won’t work, as we are not dealing with a viral infection but instead becoming ourselves, a source of radiation.

This theory may help explain why Israel and South Korea (State D) were so successful in combating the crisis. It wasn’t the lockdown that saved these countries. It was their aggressive search for and quarantine of super spreaders and those who were potentially radiated by them. Consciously or not, rather than stopping the virus they isolated the catalysts that were leading to the creation of the virus.

Our world is in a grave crisis and could benefit from thinkers who are slightly more creative, sophisticated and responsible than the characters who currently occupy the World Health Organisation, the CDC and London’s Imperial College. But more than anything else, I reiterate once again: we need to escalate our response to the Corona crisis into a criminal investigation so we can figure out every possible error or malevolent act that led humanity into the current grim situation .

Source: https://www.unz.com/gatzmon/corona-crisis-a-viral-episode-or-a-half-time-nightmare/

Why Trump Scapegoats China

U.S. President Donald Trump answers a question from CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta about hospitals and frontline health care workers reporting shortages of masks and coronavirus tests during the coronavirus response daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2020.

17.04.2020

by Finian Cunningham

President Trump this week said no-one believes China’s official figures on Covid-19 casualties. Along with his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump accused Beijing of a cover-up on the scale of the disease.

Almost in the same breath, the White House has also accused the World Health Organization of colluding with China in deceiving other nations about the pandemic danger. To supposedly prove his point, Trump cut off US funding to the WHO.

China has slammed claims of it conducting a cover-up, saying it provided early warning to the rest of the world about the deadly outbreak.

Part of Trump’s skepticism towards China’s data appears to stem from the country’s relatively low numbers of infection cases and deaths. This week, China’s infection cases were about 82,000 while its deaths numbered over 4,000. That was after an upward revision on earlier data concerning the city of Wuhan where the new coronavirus disease erupted in December. Beijing says such revision is normal practice by all countries as mortality information is gathered. In Britain, for example, it is reckoned that deaths have so far been greatly underestimated due to lack of counting deceased in elderly care homes. Is anyone accusing the British government of a cover-up?

In any case, what seems to be bothering The Donald and other Western leaders is just how low China’s pandemic figures are by comparison with their own.

In the US this week, the infection cases and death toll are upwards of 700,000 and 34,000, according to this global counter. That’s massively greater than figures in China. Likewise the casualty rates in Italy, Spain, France and Britain are way out ahead of what China has reported.

That huge disparity has led Western politicians to accuse China of a cover-up or at least not coming fully clean with evidence. Because to reflect on the enormously discrepant figures it otherwise makes the Western countries look extremely bad in their mishandling of the public health crisis. The exploding casualties indicate gross ineptitude and dereliction of public health services (which is correct). In which case, it is politically expedient, and indeed imperative, to find a scapegoat in order to cover-up for the monumental incompetence of Western leaders. Ironically, it’s not China which is doing the covering up. It is the West and their criminally incompetent governments and their slavish adherence to capitalist priorities. Private profit before people.

The US and President Trump are potentially most acutely exposed for their ineptitude in coping with the Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic ripping through American society is down to Trump’s callous complacency which was displayed for weeks after both China and the WHO explicitly warned of a public health crisis as far back as the end of January.

The American crisis is also down to the parlously insecure state of American workers living on the edge of financial ruin and an underfunded crumby health care system that puts corporate profit before human need.

Same goes for Britain and many other Western states. The fact is that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed all their chronic failings to protect public health. That’s why it is imperative for the Western culprits to blame China for allegedly deceiving them into supposedly not being able to make adequate preparations.

The Western inference that China’s Covid-19 figures are unreliable are contradicted by data from South Korea. It was one of the first countries outside China to be put on alert over the epidemic. But it was early and rapid action by South Korea’s government that ensured the impact was kept relatively low. Out of a caseload of 106,000 infections, some 230 South Koreans have died from the disease. Compare that with Britain, where the caseload as of this week is similar, but the death toll stands at over 14,000, two orders of magnitude greater.

© REUTERS / KIM HONG-JIA couple takes a walk near a cherry blossom trees street, closed to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Seoul, South Korea, April 1, 2020

South Korea’s effectiveness in containing the Covid-19 pandemic shows that the right government action of massive testing, tracking and quarantining can succeed. China’s record is apparently not as good as South Korea’s, but nevertheless is comparable in the scale of its success. Western governments and media are not accusing South Korea of a cover-up. And if South Korea can succeed in the way it did, then it is entirely feasible that China did also by the same proactive intervention of testing, tracking and lockdown. To claim China is lying about its figures is to willfully ignore the success of South Korea against Covid-19.

Trump and other Western leaders are scapegoating China over Covid-19 because they can’t allow the public to ponder on the shameful and awful truth: that their governments let them die unnecessarily.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Total system failure will give rise to new economy

Total system failure will give rise to new economy

April 11, 2020

by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Particle accelerator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

System failure welcomed? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derivative to the max

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

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

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

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

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

Public Health, COVID-19 and Recovery

By Tim Anderson

Source

1918 influenza pandemic db399

In all epidemics, there are some principles which determine how well communities and nations will respond, how long the crisis will last and how soon there will be recovery. We can already draw some lessons from the very big differences between particular countries in the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular why some wealthy nations like the UK and the USA are amongst the hardest hit. Although the numbers infected are still rising and the impact has not yet peaked, in most countries, we are entitled to ask: why have some countries controlled infections and minimized deaths better than others? This question, I suggest, leads us to consider principles of public health systems, of health planning and of broader social coherence. In particular, we should observe renewed evidence which affirms that public health systems are best able to develop the planning, prevention measures and coordination necessary to deal with epidemics.

The year 2020 saw the rise of a global epidemic (a pandemic) with a new variety of coronavirus which attacks human respiratory systems. This virus is highly infectious, if not highly fatal, compared to the recent epidemics of SARS-1 and MERS. COVID-19 seems deadly mainly to the elderly and the unwell (Doherty 2020). Extremely restrictive measures have been applied across much of the globe, while health systems try to contain the crisis and work out how best to prevent and treat it.

Nevertheless, extraordinary levels of skepticism about the state in western societies have aggravated reactions to severe quarantine measures, leading some to question whether the epidemic even merits emergency attention. This is while we see reports of more than a thousand deaths every day in the USA, China’s recovery after its extreme ‘lockdown’ measures, the scandal of dead bodies on the streets of Guayaquil in Ecuador (Gallón 2020), and while Cuban doctors help deal with the crisis in many countries (AP 2020). Skepticism has become cynicism in many western countries, due to a deep distrust of governments and their corporate partners. Undoubtedly powerful opportunists will exploit this crisis. Large corporations will automate and shed labor, some local authorities will extend arbitrary powers and Washington will persist with its economic and ‘regime change’ wars, using COVID-19 rationales where possible.

But this is a real public health crisis and it would be a mistake to ignore the fact that public health is, in itself, a central battleground. The same financial oligarchies that drive war and corporate privilege also block or colonize public health systems, which they see as multi-billion dollar milk cows. If individual liberties remain the central focus of critique, without recognition of the role of health systems, neoliberal ideologies will simply respond, as usual, on the ‘individual right’ to choose health insurance and to avoid ‘authoritarian’ public health systems. In the current crisis the principal alternatives we see to rapid response, protective public health measures is a neoliberal state which prevaricates, then resorts to heavy-handed policing and its armed forces for social control (Haynes 2020; Browne 2020), when the crisis is undeniable and there is no adequate health workforce.

This is a comparative study of the COVID19 phenomenon, drawing on established principles of public health and epidemic control and making use of the best available epidemiological evidence. It aims to identify and articulate lessons about health systems. Key examples used are the USA and the UK, contrasted with China and South Korea. The Anglo-American duo have stressed more privatized health systems in recent decades, while both China and South Korea have moved from private insurance-based systems to near-universal coverage systems with national planning bodies and increased public investment in their health systems (Dai 2009, Qingyue, Hongwei, Wen, Qiang and Xiaoyun 2015; Kwon, Lee and Kim 2015). The comparison is not, therefore, between capitalist and ‘socialist’ or non-capitalist systems, but rather between systems which have weakened or reinforced their universal health guarantees and health planning commitments.

After some comments on the origins of COVID-19, and on general principles of epidemic control, I examine the interim evidence of differential impact in several countries. The conclusions are over which systems are best prepared, which will minimize casualties and which will recover sooner. These understandings deserve consideration in their own right.

1. The Origins of COVID-19

Much is still unknown about the origin of the new coronavirus, and many of the early claims seem unfounded. A necessary agnosticism should accompany any honest study of this question of origin. COVID-19 (also called SARS-CoV-2) is the latest in the family of RNA coronaviruses, and at least 58 haplotypes (genetic varieties) have been identified, half from inside China and half from outside (Yu, Tang and Corlett 2020). China sequenced and published the virus genome in mid-January (Cohen 2020a) and since then Italian studies isolated and have been sequencing the genome of the Italian virus, showing a particular strain, slightly distinct from the Chinese varieties (Bergna 2020). Many new flu viruses come from animals, and COVID-19 has a possible link to coronavirus haplotypes found in bats (Yu, Tang and Corlett 2020). The first recorded mass outbreak of infections came from the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan city, China.

However, notice the difference between ‘first recorded outbreak’ and ‘the origin’. There are several now which suggest that COVID-19 did not have its origins in Wuhan. This parallels the terrible ‘Spanish Flu’ epidemic of 1918-19, which is now generally thought to have not come from Spain. In that pandemic, where millions died, the flu was traced back to migrant workers from France, making it “unlikely” that the 1918 A(H1N1) influenza virus originated in Spain (Trilla, Trilla and Daer 2008). John M. Barry, in the Journal of Transnational Medicine, reviewed the literature on the origins of the 1918 pandemic and, drawing on US, British and Australian studies, concluded that “the most likely site of origin was Haskell County, Kansas”. This county, an isolated area with many farm animals, had an outbreak of a virulent flu in January 1918, a flu which killed healthy young men. That flu spread to an army camp at Funston, and from there was carried to the war fields in France (Barry 2004). Australian Nobel laureate MacFarlane Burnet wrote that the evidence was “strongly suggestive” that the disease started in the United States and spread with “the arrival of American troops in France” (Burnet and Clark 1942). Barry concludes by saying “the fact that the 1918 pandemic likely began in the United States matters because it tells investigators where to look for a new virus. They must look everywhere” (Barry 2004).

An early Chinese genetic study suspected that COVID-19 came to Wuhan from elsewhere. This analysis suggested that the virus “was potentially imported from elsewhere; the crowded market then boosted SARS-CoV-2 circulation” (Yu, Tang and Corlett 2020). Another Chinese study of the first 41 patients admitted to hospital and diagnosed with COVID-19, observed that 27 (66%) “had been exposed to Huanan seafood market” (Huang et al 2020), but 13 (33%) had not. “That’s a big number, 13 , with no link” said infectious disease specialist Daniel Lucey of Georgetown University (Cohen 2020). Professor Robert Garry, from the University of Tulane in New Orleans, also pointed out “our analyses, and others too, point to an earlier origin than [Wuhan]. There were definitely cases there, but that wasn’t the origin of the virus” (Holland 2020). Then a British study, looking at 160 varieties and combining them in three groups, with A as the ancestral strain, found that most of the COVID19 varieties from Wuhan and from east Asia were Type B and non-ancestral (Forster, Forster, Renfrew and Forster 2020).

The transmission path was not well anticipated. Later genomic studies showed that most cases of the outbreak in New York came from Europe; these cases were detected late, due to a lack of testing. Presidents Trump’s 31 January entry ban on people from China had no impact on this source of infection (Zimmer 2020). Later links were found to US warships and US military bases (Arkin 2020).

Many new viruses come from animals, and COVID-19 may have an ancestral link with coronavirus strains found in bats; however no definite link of this sort has been established with the Wuhan outbreak. Nevertheless, western media showed video of a Chinese woman eating a cooked bat, suggesting a Chinese origin. The BBC has pointed out this was from a 2016 travel show, shot on the Pacific island of Palau (BBC 2020).

Importantly, there are reports of earlier cases in both Italy and the USA. In northern Italy local doctors remember “a very strange pneumonia, very severe, particularly in old people” in November and December of 2019. That may mean that “the virus was circulating [there] … before we were aware of this outbreak occurring in China” (Poggioli 2020). The first cases in the USA have also been linked to the many flu deaths throughout 2019. When Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Director Robert Redfield was asked whether some of the US ‘flu deaths’ might have been COVID19, and wrongly diagnosed, he replied “some cases actually have been diagnosed [that way] in the US to date” (New China TV 2020). This raised the possibility of 2019 cases in the USA, perhaps before Wuhan’s December 2019 outbreak. That admission led Chinese official Lijian Zhao to demand ‘transparency’ from the US: “When did patient zero begin in the US? How many people are infected … be transparent! Make public your data! US owes us an explanation” (Zhao 2020). The CDC’s acknowledgement of early and perhaps widespread infections in the USA was reinforced by estimates from the Director of the Department of Health in the state of Ohio, Amy Acton. She was reported as saying that “the fact of community spread says that at least 1 percent … is carrying this virus in Ohio today … over 100,000” (Sullivan 2020). However the matter of 2019 infections and deaths in Italy and the USA is as yet unresolved.

There have also been suggestions that the virus may have come the biological warfare laboratories of the US military. Suspicions were aroused by the sudden closure of the US army’s bioweapons research centre at Fort Detrick in Maryland, in August 2019. This closure was due to fears that “contaminated waste” or agents such as Ebola, smallpox and anthrax could leak from the facility (Wyatt 2020). There was also the presence of US soldiers at the Military World Games in Wuhan in October 2019, just before the Wuhan outbreak. Both issues create grounds for suspicion, yet no direct link has as yet been established. One group of mostly US-based scientists, looking at the characteristics of the virus, have asserted that SARS CoV-2 was “not a laboratory construct” but had natural origins (Anderson, Rambaut, Lipkin, Holmes and Garry). However the better view of their report – hedged with “likely”, “probably”, “not been described” (i.e. no evidence) and “we do not believe” qualifiers – is that they could find ‘no evidence’ of a laboratory origin. So evidence on this matter also remains unresolved.

Overall, there are several sources of evidence that suggest COVID-19 did not originate in Wuhan, nor its seafood market, although that was the first recorded largescale outbreak. Politicised talk of a ‘Chinese virus’ parallels the misnaming of the 1918 pandemic as ‘Spanish Flu’. Most other claims are not well founded. In these circumstances an agnostic approach, open to new evidence, is necessary if we want to really understand the origin of COVID19.

2. Principles of epidemic control

In 2018 the WHO, writing of ‘challenges and risk factors’ for epidemics, spelt out some contemporary risk factors and emphasised key features of an effective response. Current risk factors are aggravated by greater international travel, growing peri-urban areas which have contact with animals, the massive displacement of people by wars and disasters, the overuse of antibiotics which has created microbial resistance, new hazardous agricultural practices and “poor health care systems that have inadequate infection prevention and control practices” (WHO 2018: 25-26). Effective responses to an epidemic require early detection, then containment measures followed by control and mitigation then, if possible, elimination or eradication (WHO 2018: 28-30)

Health researchers have repeatedly argued that “to accurately predict, plan, and respond to current and future influenza pandemics, we must first better understand the events and experiences of 1918 … we must remain vigilant and use the knowledge we have gained from 1918 and other influenza pandemics to direct targeted research and pandemic influenza preparedness planning, emphasizing prevention, containment, and treatment.” (Morens, Taubenberger, Harvey and Memoli 2010). Of course, planning and prevention are notable features of public health systems, but quite scarce in systems that rely on private health care (Anderson 2007).

Nevertheless, even in the USA which have never had a well-developed public health system, components of a pandemic plan were utilized during the 1918–1919 flu crisis. There was “coordination between different levels and branches of government, improved communications … mass dispensing of vaccines, guidelines for infection control, containment measures including case isolation and closures of public places, and disease surveillance”, which were employed “with varying degrees of success” (Ott, Shaw, Danila and Lynfield 2007). Today the US maintains a Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but it lacks a universal health guarantee and carries the burden of corporatized ‘managed care’ (Sekhri 2000).

There are some important lessons from the US experience in 1918-1919. Strochlic and Champine (2020) stress the danger of relaxing restrictive quarantine measures too soon – those US cities that kept social closures for some weeks after the peak of casualties avoided a second ‘spike’ and had the lowest overall death rates. Unlike New York today under COVID-19, a city with the highest rates of infection, New York City in 1918 began its quarantine measures early and kept them for four weeks after the spike in deaths. It then had “the lowest death rate of the eastern seaboard”. San Francisco, St Louis and some other cities, which ended their quarantine measures earlier, had a second round of deaths and a second round of quarantine restrictions (Strochlic and Champine 2020). See Graphic 1 below. So the lesson here is to implement quarantine measures (1) early and (2) keep them going for some weeks after the peak in deaths.

Graphic 1: 1918 restrictions in US cities (Strochlic and Champine 2020)
1918 restrictions in US cities c2b91

 

In Spain, the epidemic was first widely reported in late May 1918. Rates of death from influenza shot up, but the first epidemic seemed to have ended in 2 months. However, a second epidemic began slowly in September, peaking in October. No antibiotics were then available for pneumonia, which was usually the final killer. A third and final period of the epidemic was from January to June 1919. Deaths were more common amongst babies and young people and more than 260,000 (1% of the Spanish population) died (Trilla, Trilla and Daer 2008).

So the current pandemic restrictive measures are not new: quarantine regimes including distancing and the wearing of masks, while treatments are developed and a vaccine to accelerate social immunity is found. Isolation measures, closures of social facilities and social distancing must be developed according to local circumstances, preferably with popular education and broad social consent. Such measures are particularly important to slow the epidemic, especially when there is limited knowledge of how to treat and contain it.

There is a consensus on this across many different countries. George Gao, head of the Chinese CDC says “social distancing is the essential strategy for the control of any infectious diseases, especially if they are respiratory infections”. “Non-drug measures” are particularly important, especially without clear knowledge of the appropriate drugs. This social distancing generally includes isolating those with the infection, quarantining their close contacts, suspending social gatherings and restricting movement, if not complete lockdowns (Cohen 2020). It has been suggested that, with general quarantine measures “compliance of below 70% is unlikely to succeed for any duration of social distancing, while a compliance at the 90% level is likely to control the disease within 13–14 weeks, when coupled with effective case isolation and international travel restrictions” (Chang, Harding, Zachreson, Cliff and Prokopenko 2020). More targeted quarantine measures would require large scale testing.

The phenomenon of ‘herd immunity’ can occur in two ways, (1) by ‘natural selection’, where largescale death will claim many and only those able to develop auto-immunity survive; or (2) by an accelerated method where a vaccine is given to rapidly increase the numbers of those with antibodies for the particular virus. This both slows down transmission and protects those with transmitted immunity (Regalado 2020). The wide use of mass vaccines across the 20th century saved millions of lives, from diseases such as smallpox, polio, cholera and measles. At least 16 vaccines for COVID-19 are under testing at the time of writing (Akst 2020), and estimates of availability range from two to eighteen months.

3. Differential impact

Even as COVID19 infection rates remain high in much of Europe and the USA, we can see important differences across countries in the impact, management, and recovery from the virus. Interpreting interim data is difficult but necessary, if we are to learn contemporary lessons. The first obstacles to reading the data are that there is under-reporting and low levels of testing. Problems for learning also come from the commitment, in many countries, to highly privatized health systems. These are notoriously weak in preventive health and crisis management, There is also a great resistance in western societies to learning from other cultures. For example, it has been pointed out that when China was in the midst of its crisis, with hundreds dying, this was cited in western circles as “proof their government was incompetent”; yet when China’s infection rates fell this was said to be “proof they were lying about numbers” (Mastracci 2020). Not so many were ready to learn from China.

We have to recognize some caveats about the use of contemporary, interim data. Although the WorldOmeter site collates COVID19 data from governments and seems to do this fairly reliably, the state reports do vary considerably. Yet it is easy to check, for example, the published government data from (e.g.) the UK, South Korea and the USA (GOV.UK 2020, KCDC 2020 and CDC 2020) against that collated at WorldOmeter. Nevertheless, this raw data has to be treated with caution. Some useful caveats on using this epidemic data were spelled out in an article on the BBC. Henriques (2020) pointed out that the varied scale of testing will have a great impact on cited infections, suggesting that the “lack of widespread, systematic in most countries is probably the main source of discrepancies in death rates internationally” (Henriques 2020). As it happens, information on the level of testing in many countries has since become available. Henriques also points out the difference between ‘dying with’ and ‘dying from’ the disease, including the fact that the reasons for medical registration of death vary between countries. The H1N1 epidemic of 2009 also showed wide cross-country variation in death rates, and some of the higher rates were later revised downwards when better information was available (Vaillant, La Ruche, Tarantola and Barboza 2009). Conversely, deaths may also be underestimated, as many are never tested. Most likely, infection rates are more unreliable than the death rates, due to under-reporting and lack of testing. Finally, levels of bacterial resistance (important in the case of pneumonia, a major cause of COVID19 related death) may vary between countries. Differing demographics are also important. For example, there are said to be proportionally twice as many Italians over 65 years of age as there are Chinese (Henriques 2020). These are important factors to bear in mind, but should not deter us from making use of the best available evidence. Commentary without evidence is guesswork.

It is important to discuss, in particular, why the UK and US reactions and disease control seem to have been so poor. The Anglo-American duo has been presented, by UK and US agencies, as at the peak of “international preparedness for epidemics and pandemics” in measures of ‘Global Health Security’ (IPT 2020). Yet virtually none of the impact data supports that claim. Daily deaths from COVID19 in China began to fall in late February, to just a handful each day in the first week of April. In that same first week of April, the USA was suffering more than one thousand deaths every day and the UK around 500 or more deaths every day (WorldOmeter 2020). Why did these two wealthy countries fare so badly?

The UK and USA reacted very slowly to the pandemic and, by early April when cases and deaths had fallen in China and South Korea, and were peaking in much of Europe (by late March in Italy and Spain), US and UK rates were still rising (Burn-Murdoch 2020). On 10 April COVID19 linked deaths were 4 times (in the USA) and 9 times (in the UK) the global average (WorldOmeter 2020). By that time the rate of testing in both countries was comparable and relatively high. Table 1 below shows testing in the UK rising strongly only in early April. This table has no data for China, but we have other sources which show that Chinese testing was intense, at least in the affected provinces.

Table 1: COVID19 tests per million population
5 April 10 April
USA 5,306 7,167
UK 2,880 4,392
Netherlands 4,401 5,926
South Korea 8,996 9,310
France 3,436 5,114
Italy 11,436 14,114
Spain 7,593 7,593
China na na
Source: WorldOmeter 2020

Guangdong province “did more than 320 000 RT-PCR tests on those who had attended fever clinics and hospitals over 30 days between January and February 2020”. This was “about ten times the baseline testing capacity for routine influenza-like illness surveillance during the influenza season of 2018” (Forster, Forster, Renfrew and Forster 2020). Indeed, the Chinese were the first to sequence and publish the genome of the virus, in mid-January, and to develop tests (Cohen 2020a). At the time of writing, “of 202 companies around the world producing commercialized Covid-19 test kits, 92 are from China” (Cookson and Hodgson 2020). WHO official Bruce Aylward pointed out that China had to innovate to stop the first largescale outbreak of the virus, and to isolate and quarantine those found to be infected. That meant testing. Yet as late as mid-March the UK government announced that it would only test for COVID-19 among people admitted to hospital and that people with mild symptoms wouldn’t be tested but should simply stay at home for seven days” (Hamzelou 2020).

By way of contrast, according to the WHO, South Korea was “pretty rigorous about testing all the suspect cases and finding all the contacts … [and so] they seem to have turned a corner” (Hamzelou 2020). The much lower death rate in South Korea tends to bear that out. The contrast with an indecisive UK approach was noted.

“In contrast with the early stages in the UK – where Boris Johnson said coronavirus was likely to “spread a bit more”, South Korean health officials quickly learned the lessons from Wuhan … [they] prioritized identifying and isolating people testing positive for the disease, and developed capacity to run about 15,000 diagnostic tests a day” (Beaumont 2020).

Other sources noted the early high levels of testing in China and South Korea, including many who had no symptoms of illness. “Widespread testing” in China, Iceland and South Korea “identified a high proportion of infections in people without discernible symptoms” (Gale 2020). The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention developed the earliest tests and “details of it were posted on the World Health Organization website on 24 January, just after the Wuhan lockdown was announced”. By late March China had conducted “well over 320,000 tests” (Beaumont 2020). Cookson and Hodgson (2020) wrote that “Germany and South Korea have led the way in rolling out tests on a large scale, but the UK and US have been laggards”.

It has emerged that US military bases and some warships have become strong sources of infection and likely also international transmission (Arkin 2020), as indeed they were a century ago, with the so-called ‘Spanish flu’. That remains an as-yet unaddressed threat to the US population and the international community,  given that the US has nearly 800 military bases around the world (Vine 2015). Crowded prisons have become an additional hotbed of COVID19 infection, and the US has the biggest prison system and the highest imprisonment rate on earth (Wagner and Sawyer 2018). This threatens the lives of prisoners and staff (Yan 2020) and creates a hotline of community transmission because, contrary to popular belief, there is constant high-level traffic between prisons and wider communities. There is little sign that either the US military or prison authorities have a plan to deal with these threats.

In the absence of a vaccine, drug treatments varied considerably, although similar drugs were potentially available. One large survey of more than 6,000 physicians from 30 countries sheds some light on the disparity. Substantial differences can be seen between the US and Chinese doctors. The survey question was “of the medications you have personally prescribed or have seen used, please indicate which ones are most effective”. The results are shown in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Medications used for COVID19 and thought to be “most effective”
Hydroxychlor. or Chloroquine Nothing Anti-viral/ immunotherapy Antibiotics Analgesics Plasma
USA 23% 51% 1% – 10% 18% 21% 48%
China 44% 4% 35% – 42% 33% 20% 3%
Source: Sermo 2020. (1) Plasma used was from recovered patients, a sort of pre-vaccine. (2) The antiviral-immunotherapy drugs included Lopinavir, Ritonavir, Remdisivir, Oseltamivir and Interferon-beta.

The most striking differences are that very many US doctors often regarded no medication as the best option, while Chinese doctors made far greater use of anti-viral or immunotherapy drugs, and a type of pre-vaccine treatment of plasma from recovered patients. In early February the Cuban interferon variant (Interferon Alpha-2B Recombinant: IFNrec) was also being used in China, in combination with the anti-virals (Telesur 2020; O’Connor 2020). The top “more information topic” all doctors requested was more on “the efficacy of existing medicines” (Sermo 2020: 19). Clearly there was uncertainty, but Chinese doctors were using more sophisticated medication. Why were US doctors more reluctant to use anti-virals? First, they could not use the Cuban version of interferon because of the economic blockade imposed by their government against Cuban products (O’Connor 2020). Second, it seems likely that the medical consensus in the USA – dominated as it is by large private health corporations, managed care and expensive patented medicines – would not easily countenance the provisional use of unproven and expensive antivirals. In China, on the other hand, the antivirals were likely much more affordable.

Western scientists have acknowledged that the speed in vaccine development “is thanks in large part to early Chinese efforts to sequence the genetic material of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. China shared that sequence in mid-January (Spinney 2020; Cohen 2020a). By early April, vaccines in development were said to include two “frontrunners” in the US, one in China and one in the UK, all of which had clinical trials underway. Another 11 were in development (Akst 2020). In addition, the Hong Kong listed CanSino Biologics has a vaccine project with the Chinese military (Bloomberg 2020) and the UK giant GlaxoSmithKline has a collaborative vaccine project with China’s Xiamen Innovax Biotech (Taylor 2020). There is clearly a race to produce first and to be recognized as safe and effective. Billions of dollars are at stake, as well as many thousands of lives. No doubt there will be a war of words when the first vaccines emerge. Estimates of vaccine readiness vary from two months to 18 months. However, it seems likely that the Chinese companies, in particular, will fast track their process.

With the uncertainty about treatment and in the absence of a vaccine, ‘non-pharmaceutical’ means of containing the spread of the virus became important. That meant quarantine measures and limits on movement and association, to prevent an escalation of contagion. These measures must necessarily be tailored to particular circumstances and, to justify any curtailment of civil liberties, should be ‘proportionate’ to the particular threat posed. The UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment on Article 12 (‘Freedom of Movement’) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, explains proportionality in this way:

“Restrictive measures must conform to the principle of proportionality; they must be appropriate to achieve their protective function; they must be the least intrusive instrument amongst those which might achieve the desired result; and they must be proportionate to the interest to be protected.” (HRC 1999: 14)

In this sense, restrictive measures during the pandemic must relate to the threat and should be relaxed when the threat has diminished. Since a wide variety of restrictive measures have been imposed across a large range of countries, it necessarily falls to citizens of those places to demand accountability, full explanations and the best targeted and “least intrusive” measures. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, during the 1918 epidemic in the USA, the cities that relaxed too soon were hit by a second wave (Strochlic and Champine 2020). That potential threat is a relevant consideration. So the public health and civil rights logic are for gradual relaxation which allows for control of transmission, until proper treatment is found. A Chinese study on preventing a second wave of infections was widely misreported as saying that “lockdowns shouldn’t be fully lifted until coronavirus vaccine found” (Reynolds 2020). In fact that study calls for a gradual response, with vigilance to “allow policymakers to tune relaxation decisions to maintain [low] transmissibility” (Leung, Wu, Liu and Leung 2020).

On quarantine, once again, we see big differences between China and the USA. In Wuhan, once the new virus was detected, there was an early and severe lockdown of the city and to some extent Hubei province, to prevent it from spreading to the rest of the country. That was only relaxed after 76 days, several weeks after new infections had peaked and fallen (CGTN 2020). In the US the restrictions were at first aimed at the supposed source in China, then others were imposed quite late. The US national health system, such as it is, was poorly equipped to manage the process. Washington moved slowly and indecisively, with a series of complacent and repeated assurances throughout February from President Trump, that “we have it very well under control” (Brewster 2020; Guerra 2020). Similarly, British leader Boris Johnson was accused of complacency, being “slow to act” and even suggesting that some natural “herd immunity” might be necessary. This sounded like the UK government “was deliberately aiming for 60 percent of the populace to fall ill” (Stewart, Weaver and Proctor 2020; Yong 2020). Without vaccine assisted “herd immunity”, such an approach would mean tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands could die. As it turned out, Johnson himself contracted the virus and was hospitalized.

The rapid and strict Chinese measures seemed to contain the spread of the virus in Wuhan and some contiguous central provinces, while other provinces were less unaffected (Fan et al 2020). Another study showed a similar pattern, with western, northern and some of the eastern provinces relatively unaffected (Guan et al 2020). China’s prompt and comprehensive measures (early detection, massive localized testing including temperature monitoring, treating, contact tracing and quarantine) allowed the hardest hit area, Wuhan, to gradually emerge from severe quarantine restrictions after 76 days. That city now has a color-coded, graduated system to allow progressively greater freedom to move around (Galindo 2020). In the USA the ‘hot spots’ have been New York and New Jersey, but very quickly high levels of infection, including community transmission, were reported on the west coast (California, Washington), in the great lakes area (Illinois, Michigan) and in the southeast (Louisiana, Florida) (CDC 2020). By 9 April twelve US states had death rates of 35 per million, more three times the reported global average (WorldOmeter 2020).

Amongst the many institutional failures has been the failure to predict better ‘preparedness’ for such an epidemic. The crisis poses a great challenge to US ideology, based as it has been on corporate privilege and a belief in US technological superiority. In the past this neo-colonial approach was linked to the rationale of ‘market solutions’. For example, in late 2019 an Anglo-American group created a ‘Global Health Security Index’ which ranked the USA at the top of countries able to deal with “infectious disease outbreaks that can lead to international epidemics and pandemics”; the UK was number two (IPT 2020). Yet after three months of the COVID-19 pandemic many of the GHS rankings seem absurd, with the top three (USA, UK and The Netherlands) showing significantly worse than world average fatality rates from COVID-19. Of the highly ranked GHS countries, only South Korea showed some consistency between GHS ranking and superior performance. See Table 3 below.

Table 3: GHS rankings vs. COVID-19 death rates
GHS rank / 195 COVID-19 deaths / million **
USA 1 50
UK 2 118
Netherlands 3 140
WORLD 12.3
South Korea 9 4
China 51 2
Column 1: IPT 2020 (Top GHS rankings means those countries “most prepared” for an epidemic); Columns 2 & 3: WorldOmeter 2020, data at 10 April 2020;

Since all the above states, by early April, had fairly high and comparable levels of testing (4,400 to 9,300 per million), and as death rates are more reliable than infection rates, we are entitled to use death rates as a rough inverse measure of epidemic preparedness. That is, unless we assume that the full extent of the virus has not yet been measured, or that the virus may be about to recur in China or Korea. There is not much reason, at this stage, to imagine that under-reporting of death is better or worse in any of those states.

Indeed South Korea, with an early and strong testing regime (KCDC 2020), was able to carry out more selective quarantine measures, “to make tactical decisions regarding schools … movements … to move forward without some of the draconian measures”, and this allowed it to keep many factories, shopping malls and restaurants open (Beaubien 2020).

This brings us to the ‘anti-authoritarian’ argument, used by the Anglo-American duo. Both the US and the UK have either rejected a full, well-coordinated public health system (the US) or undermined it (in the UK) on the grounds of ‘liberty’ and the ‘authoritarian’ nature of large, well-resourced public health systems. Yet both, once they realized the scale of the epidemic, resorted to their police and armed forces to control civilian populations, recognizing that such measures were beyond the capacity of their health workforce (Haynes 2020; Browne 2020). Where restrictive measures are imposed early by local health authorities, there is more likely to be understanding and compliance.

4. Lessons

There is also the question of culture and broader social cohesion. It has been suggested that eastern countries like South Korea and China have done better because of the “deep divisions and poor leadership in the west”, and that “the trust that citizens must have in governments is low in the west and that has hurt its ability to mobilize people in a time of grave peril” (Chaulia 2020). The cynical reactions to the erratic behavior of the UK and US leaders lend some support to this claim. The western stereotype is often that “authoritarian” systems fail from suppressing information and communications (Gebrekidan 2020). But the suggested authoritarian-liberal dichotomy is a false one, because the late entry of the US and UK to quarantine restrictions was accompanied by severe policing, severe penalties, the use of police drone surveillance and the domestic deployment of armed forces (Castle 2020; Haynes 2020; Browne 2020). All public health systems are paternalistic, or maternalistic, but the use of armed forces due to incapacity in the public health system is a serious failing.

There are important lessons from China, as from principles drawn from past epidemic management, and the crisis has exposed weaknesses in the US and UK systems. The social mobilization in Wuhan, organized by local authorities and backed by the central government, certainly helped early recovery from what could have been an even more devastating epidemic (Leung, Wu, Liu and Leung 2020). Other countries cannot copy that experience, but they can observe and draw lessons (CGTN 2020).

Early restrictive and quarantine measures were in principle justified, but by international law they should be ‘proportionate’ to the particular threat posed and employing the ‘least restrictive’ measures possible. Public health logic accepts that restrictions on movement and association should be relaxed as the infection rates abate, in coordination with an epidemiological vigilance to ensure that a second wave of infections does not arise (Leung, Wu, Liu and Leung 2020; EurekAlert 2020). Time frames should reassure populations that there is some end in sight to restrictive measures, and that relaxation can begin even before vaccines are available, when the disease is controlled.

It seems likely that greater experimentation with the use of anti-viral and immunotherapy drugs helped treatment in China, but this was impeded in the USA, where strong patent laws and corporate management make the newer forms of such drugs expensive. There is now strong competition to produce the first vaccine, and for that reason level some availability seems likely within two months. However, we can expect to see a war of words between the companies involved, over questions of safety and efficacy.

Overall, countries such as the US and the UK, which had weak or run down public health systems, failed their own peoples by predictable deficits in preparedness, health workforces, protective equipment, preventive capacity, early detection and swift responses. When they did respond they tended to draw on security forces in lieu of an effective health workforce. Death rates were far higher than average and recovery may take longer. In the case of the US, the deficit is compounded by serious infection in the 150 military bases at home and the 800 US military bases abroad. Those pose a risk to the US population and to the many host countries. China and South Korea did better through their universal health cover, greater investment in health systems and greater commitment to health crisis planning.

الأميركيّون يخسرون البحار ويتخوّفون من پيرل هاربر صيني

محمد صادق الحسيني

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

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

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

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

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

ما توجّب طرح السؤالين الرئيسيين التاليين حول:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

فهل من مدّكر!؟

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

Why France is hiding a cheap and tested virus cure

March 26, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – Posted with permission

The French government is arguably helping Big Pharma profit from the Covid-19 pandemic

A mask-wearing French citizen in Paris. Photo: Facebook

What’s going on in the fifth largest economy in the world arguably points to a major collusion scandal in which the French government is helping Big Pharma to profit from the expansion of Covid-19. Informed French citizens are absolutely furious about it.

My initial question to a serious, unimpeachable Paris source, jurist Valerie Bugault, was about the liaisons dangereuses between Macronism and Big Pharma and especially about the mysterious “disappearance” – more likely outright theft – of all the stocks of chloroquine in possession of the French government.

Respected Professor Christian Perronne talked about the theft live in one of France’s 24/7 info channels: “The central pharmacy for the hospitals announced today that they were facing a total rupture of stocks, that they were pillaged.”

With input from another, anonymous source, it’s now possible to establish a timeline that puts in much-needed perspective the recent actions of the French government.

Let’s start with Yves Levy, who was the head of INSERM – the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research – from 2014 to 2018, when he was appointed as extraordinary state councilor for the Macron administration. Only 12 people in France have reached this status.

Levy is married to Agnes Buzy, who until recently was minister of health under Macron. Buzy was essentially presented with an “offer you can’t refuse” by Macron’s party to leave the ministry – in the middle of the coronavirus crisis – and run for Mayor of Paris, where she was mercilessly trounced in the first round on March 16.

Levy has a vicious running feud with Professor Didier Raoult – prolific and often-cited Marseille-based specialist in communicable diseases. Levy withheld the INSERM label from the world-renowned IHU (Hospital-University Institute) research center directed by Raoult.

In practice, in October 2019, Levy revoked the status of “foundation” of the different IHUs so he could take over their research.

French professor Didier Raoult, biologist and professor of microbiology, specializes in infectious diseases and director of IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute, poses in his office in Marseille, France. Photo: AFP/Gerard Julien

Raoult was part of a clinical trial that in which hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin healed 90% of Covid-19 cases if they were tested very early. (Early, massive testing is at the heart of the successful South Korean strategy.)

Raoult is opposed to the total lockdown of sane individuals and possible carriers – which he considers “medieval,” in an anachronistic sense. He’s in favor of massive testing (which, besides South Korea, was successful in Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam) and a fast treatment with hydroxychloroquine. Only contaminated individuals should be confined.

Chloroquine costs one euro for ten pills. And there’s the rub: Big Pharma – which, crucially, finances INSERM, and includes “national champion” Sanofi – would rather go for a way more profitable solution. Sanofi for the moment says it is “actively preparing” to produce chloroquine, but that may take “weeks,” and there’s no mention about pricing.

A minister fleeing a tsunami

Here’s the timeline:

On January 13, Agnes Buzyn, still France’s Health Minister, classifies chloroquine as a “poisonous substance,” from now on only available by prescription. An astonishing move, considering that it has been sold off the shelf in France for half a century.

On March 16, the Macron government orders a partial lockdown. There’s not a peep about chloroquine. Police initially are not required to wear masks; most have been stolen anyway, and there are not enough masks even for health workers. In 2011 France had nearly 1.5 billion masks: 800 million surgical masks and 600 million masks for health professionals generally.

But then, over the years, the strategic stocks were not renewed, to please the EU and to apply the Maastricht criteria, which limited membership in the Growth and Stability Pact to countries whose budget deficits did not exceed 3% of GDP. One of those in charge at the time was Jerome Salomon, now a scientific counselor to the Macron government.

On March 17, Agnes Buzyn says she has learned the spread of Covid-19 will be a major tsunami, for which the French health system has no solution. She also says it had been her understanding that the Paris mayoral election “would not take place” and that it was, ultimately, “a masquerade.”

What she does not say is that she didn’t go public at the time she was running because the whole political focus by the Macron political machine was on winning the “masquerade.” The first round of the election meant nothing, as Covid-19 was advancing. The second round was postponed indefinitely. She had to know about the impending healthcare disaster. But as a candidate of the Macron machine she did not go public in timely fashion.

In quick succession:

The Macron government refuses to apply mass testing, as practiced with success in South Korea and Germany.

Le Monde and the French state health agency characterize Raoult’s research as fake news, before issuing a retraction.

Professor Perrone reveals on the 24/7 LCI news channel that the stock of chloroquine at the French central pharmacy has been stolen.

Thanks to a tweet by Elon Musk, President Trump says chloroquine should be available to all Americans. Sufferers of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, who already have supply problems with the only drug that offers them relief, set social media afire with their panic.

US doctors and other medical professionals take to hoarding the medicine for the use of themselves and those close to them, faking prescriptions to indicate they are for patients with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Morocco buys the stock of chloroquine from Sanofi in Casablanca.

Pakistan decides to increase its production of chloroquine to be sent to China.

Switzerland discards the total lockdown of its population; goes for mass testing and fast treatment; and accuses France of practicing  “spectacle politics.”

Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, having had himself treated with chloroquine, without any government input, directly calls Sanofi so they may deliver chloroquine to Nice hospitals.

Because of Raoult’s research, a large-scale chloroquine test finally starts in France, under the – predictable – direction of INSERM, which wants to “remake the experiments in other independent medical centers.” This will take at least an extra six weeks – as the Elysee Palace’s scientific council now mulls the extension of France’s total lockdown to … six weeks.

If joint use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin proves definitely effective among the most gravely ill, quarantines may be reduced in select clusters.

The only French company that still manufactures chloroquine is under judicial intervention. That puts the chloroquine hoarding and theft into full perspective. It will take time for these stocks to be replenished, thus allowing Big Pharma the leeway to have what it wants: a costly solution.

It appears the perpetrators of the chloroquine theft were very well informed.

Bagged nurses

This chain of events, astonishing for a highly developed G-7 nation proud of its health service, is part of a long, painful process embedded in neoliberal dogma. EU-driven austerity mixed with the profit motive resulted in a very lax attitude towards the health system.

As Bugault told me, “test kits – very few in number – were always available but mostly for a small group connected to the French government [ former officials of the Ministry of Finance, CEOs of large corporations, oligarchs, media and entertainment moguls].  Same for chloroquine, which this government did everything to make inaccessible for the population.

They did not make life easy for Professor Raoult – he received death threats and was intimidated by ‘journalists.’

And they did not protect vital stocks. Still under the Hollande government, there was a conscious liquidation of the stock of masks – which had existed in large quantities in all hospitals. Not to mention that the suppression of hospital beds and hospital means accelerated under Sarkozy.”

This ties in with anguished reports by French citizens of nurses now having to use trash bags due to the lack of proper medical gear.

At the same time, in another astonishing development, the French state refuses to requisition private hospitals and clinics – which are practically empty at this stage – even as the president of their own association, Lamine Garbi, has pleaded for such a public service initiative: “I solemnly demand that we are requisitioned to help public hospitals. Our facilities are prepared. The wave that surprised the east of France must teach us a lesson.”

Bugault reconfirms the health situation in France “is very serious and will become even worse due to these political decisions – absence of masks, political refusal to massively test people, refusal of free access to chloroquine – in a context of supreme distress at the hospitals. This will last and destitution will be the norm.”

Professor vs president

In an explosive development on Tuesday, Raoult said he’s not participating in Macron’s scientific council anymore, even though he’s not quitting it altogether. Raoult once again insists on massive testing on a national scale to detect suspected cases, and then isolate and treat patients who tested positive. In a nutshell: the South Korean model.

That’s exactly what is expected from the IHU in Marseille, where hundreds of residents continue to queue up for testing. And that ties in with the conclusions by a top Chinese expert on Covid-19, Zhang Nanshan, who says that treatment with chloroquine phospate had a “positive impact,” with patients testing negative after around four days.

The key point has been stressed by Raoult: Use chloroquine in very special circumstances, for people tested very early, when the disease is not advanced yet, and only in these cases. He’s not advocating chloroquine for everyone. It’s exactly what the Chinese did, along with their use of Interferon.

For years, Raoult has been pleading for a drastic revision of health economic models, so the treatments, cure and therapies created mostly during the 20th century, are considered a patrimony in the service of all humanity.“That’s not the case”, he says, “because we abandon medicine that is not profitable, even if it’s effective. That’s why almost no antibiotics are manufactured in the West.”

On Tuesday, the French Health Ministry officially prohibited the utilization of treatment based on chloroquine recommended by Raoult.  In fact the treatment is only allowed for terminal Covid-19 patients, with no other possibility of healing. This cannot but expose the Macron government to more accusations of at least inefficiency – added to the absence of masks, tests, contact tracing and ventilators.

On Wednesday, commenting on the new government guidelines, Raoult said, “When damage to the lungs is too important, and patients arrive for reanimation, they practically do not harbor viruses in their bodies any more. It’s too late to treat them with chloroquine. Are these the only cases – the very serious cases – that will be treated with chloroquine under the new directive by [French Health Minister] Veran?” If so, he added ironically, “then they will be able to say with scientific certainty that chloroquine does not work.”

Raoult was unavailable for comment on Western news media articles citing Chinese test results that would suggest he is wrong about the efficacy of chloroquine in dealing with mild cases of Covid-19.

Staffers pointed instead to his comments in the IHU bulletin. There Raoult says it’s “insulting” to ask if we can trust the Chinese on the use of chloroquine. “If this was an American disease, and the president of the United States said, ‘We need to treat patients with that,’ nobody would discuss it.”

In China, he adds, there were “enough elements so the Chinese government and all Chinese experts who know coronaviruses took an official position that ‘we must treat with chloroquine.’ Between the moment when we have the first results and an accepted international publication, there is no credible alternative among people who are the most knowledgeable in the world. They took this measure in the interest of public health.”

Crucially: if he had coronavirus, Raoult says he would take chloroquine. Since Raoult is rated by his peers as the number one world expert  in communicable diseases, way above Dr. Anthony Fauci in the US, I would say the new reports represent Big Pharma talking.

Raoult has been mercilessly savaged and demonized by French corporate media that are controlled by a few oligarchs closely linked to Macronism. Not by accident the demonization has reached gilets jaunes (yellow vest) levels, especially because of the extremely popular hashtag  #IlsSavaient (“They knew”), with which the yellow vests stress that French elites have “managed” the Covid-19 crisis by protecting themselves while leaving the population defenseless against the virus.

That ties in with the controversial analysis by crack philosopher Giorgio Agamben in a column published a month ago, where he was already arguing that Covid-19 clearly shows that the state of exception – similar to a state of emergency but with differences important to philosophers – has become fully normalized in the West.

Agamben was speaking not as a doctor or a virologist but as a master thinker, following in the steps of Foucault, Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt. Noting how a latent state of fear has metastasized into a state of collective panic, for which Covid-19 “offers once again the ideal pretext,” he described how, “in a perverse vicious circle, the limitation of freedom imposed by governments is accepted in the name of a desire for security that was induced by the same governments that now intervene to satisfy it.”

There was no state of collective panic in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam – to mention four Asian examples outside of China. A dogged combination of mass testing and contact tracing was applied with immense professionalism. It worked. In the Chinese case, with the help of chloroquine. And in all Asian cases, without a murky profit motive to the benefit of Big Pharma.

There hasn’t yet appeared the smoking gun that proves the Macron system not only is incompetent to deal with Covid-19 but also is dragging the process so Big Pharma can come up with a miracle vaccine, fast. But the pattern to discourage chloroquine is more than laid out above – in parallel to the demonization of Raoult.

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