Written in History: The Death of America’s Hyper-Power Fantasy

Written in History: The Death of America’s Hyper-Power Fantasy

07.11.2018

Written in History: The Death of America’s Hyper-Power Fantasy

In 1987, Paul Kennedy, a British professor of history at Yale University, unleashed a political and intellectual firestorm with the publication of his great (677-page) book, “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.” Kennedy produced a magisterial overview of the competition for global power over the past 500 years from 1500 AD to the present.

Kennedy proposed the thesis that any power that achieved, imagined it had achieved or sought to achieve and maintain a dominant hyper-power role of global dominance was doomed to lose it and then rapidly decline in overall power, wealth, prosperity and influence.

Kennedy argued – with a wealth of detail drawn from different nations over his vast period of half a millennium – that the very attempt to achieve and maintain such power forced every nation that attempted it into a ruinous pattern of strategic overstretch.

This demanded every major global empire in their turn to devote ruinously far too many economic resources to unproductive military power and ever more costly global commitments and conflicts.

The more ambitious the commitments, the quicker came military defeat, economic ruin and national collapse, Kennedy documented.

Kennedy published his book however at exactly the wrong moment for its abundantly documented conclusions and arguments to be taken seriously in the United States. The Cold War was just ending. The heroic actions of the Russian people in rejecting communism and leading in the dismantling of the Soviet Union were being misinterpreted as an eternal and lasting victory for the United States and for the forces of free market capitalism and minimum government regulation.

Kennedy was therefore subjected to a furious firestorm of abuse, especially from the emerging neoconservatives who under President George W Bush succeeded in imposing their reckless policies on nations across the Middle East and Eurasia. Kennedy, unlike his enraged critics was a gracious and tolerant gentleman as well as great scholar and took the firestorm in his stride.

Now more than 30 years after Kennedy published his great work, we can see how prescient, wise and visionary it truly was.

In 2016 President Donald Trump was elected on a platform of dealing with domestic crises raging from economic ruin and impoverishment to an out of control drug and opioid abuse epidemic and the collapse of law and order across the long US land border with Mexico.

That outcome provided telling testimony to the previous US policies of wasting at least $2 trillion on entirely unsuccessful nation-building and government-toppling projects ranging from Iraq to Afghanistan and since extended into such nations as Ukraine, Syria, and Libya

All the national pathologies of bankruptcy, exhaustion, decline and ever spreading human misery that Kennedy in his book traced in previous empires can now be clearly delineated in the policies of the post-Cold War United States.

The bottom line lesson to be drawn from Kennedy’s great book that so outraged neoconservatives at the time was a simple and stunning clear one: Unipolar Moments are just that and nothing more. They last for moments not ages.

Instead, the very attempt to maintain a unipolar moment of apparent global supremacy by any power automatically instead will raise up a host of challenges to that power that will rapidly exhaust and then doom it.

Kennedy traced this process of inexorable over – commitment and decline in 17th century Habsburg Spain. He followed it again in 18th century Bourbon France. He documented it once more in the rise, pride and inevitable fall of the British Empire and in the rash German attempts to create dominant global empires in both world wars of the 20th century.

A generation before Kennedy published his great work, British historian Correlli Barnett, focusing only on the British Empire, published in 1972 his own classic “The Collapse of British Power.” Barnett focused on a one, single unipolar moment – the 1920s and 1930s when the British ruling class, like their American successors today imagined that they were the divinely-appointed global policeman charged by Providence with maintaining their own conceptions of right and wrong over the whole world.

The British at least were reluctantly forced to cede independence to their vast global territories. It is doubtful whether the American people will be so lucky: The US Deep State establishment and their tame, unthinking media puppets remain blindly committed to inflexible expansion, conflict and strategic gambling with the peace and even survival of the world.

Thirty years after his magnum opus was published, Paul Kennedy’s message of warning remains unheeded. America’s Unipolar Moment is long since dead and gone. America’s pretensions to rule supreme as the world’s unchallenged hyper-power have become a dangerous and unsustainable fantasy.

A wakening to sanity is long overdue and the hour is late: National catastrophe can be the only other outcome.

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In the Heart of a Dying Empire

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When you think about it, the Earth is a relatively modest-sized planet — about 25,000 miles in circumference at the Equator, with a total surface area of 197 million square miles, almost three-quarters of which is water. It’s not so hard, if you’re in a certain frame of mind (as American officials were after 1991), to imagine that a single truly great nation — a “sole superpower” with a high-tech military, its capabilities unparalleled in history — might in some fashion control it all.

Think back to that year when the other superpower, the lesser one of that era, so unbelievably went down for the count. Try to recall that moment when the Soviet Union, its economy imploding, suddenly was no more, its various imperial parts — from Eastern Europe to Central Asia — having largely spun free. It’s hard now to remember just how those months after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and that final moment in 1991 stunned the Washington establishment. Untold sums of money had been poured into “intelligence” during the almost half-century of what became known as the Cold War (because a hot war between two nuclear-armed superpowers seemed unimaginable — even if it almost happened). Nonetheless, key figures in Washington were remarkably unprepared for it all to end. They were stunned. It simply hadn’t occurred to them that the global standoff between the last two great powers on this planet could or would ever truly be over.

And when you think about it, that wasn’t so illogical. Imperial rivalries had been the name of the game for so many centuries. A world without some version of such rivalries seemed genuinely unimaginable — until, of course, it happened. After the shock began to wear off, what followed was triumphalism of a soaring sort. Think of that moment as the geopolitical equivalent of a drug high.

Imagine! After so many centuries of rivalries between great powers and that final showdown between just two superpowers, it was all over (except for the bragging). Only one power, the — by definition — greatest of all, was left on a planet obviously there for the taking.

Yes, Russia still existed with its nuclear arsenal intact, but it was otherwise a husk of its former imperial self. (Vladimir Putin’s sleight-of-hand brilliance has been to give what remains a rickety petro-state the look of a great power, as in MRGA, or Make Russia Great Again.) In 1991, China had only relatively recently emerged from the chaos of the Maoist era and was beginning its rise as a capitalist powerhouse overseen by a communist party — and, until that moment, who would have believed that either? Its military was modest and its leaders not faintly ready to challenge the U.S. It was far more intent on becoming a cog in the global economic machinery that would produce endless products for American store shelves.

In fact, the only obvious challenges that remained came from a set of states so unimpressive that no one would have thought to call them “great,” no less “super” powers. They had already come to be known instead by the ragtag term “rogue states.” Think theocratic Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and Kim Il-sung’s (soon to be Kim Jong-il’s) North Korea, none then nuclear armed. A disparate crew — the Iraqis and Iranians had been at war for eight years in the 1980s — they looked like a pushover for… well, you know who.

And the early results of American global preeminence couldn’t have been more promising. Its corporate power initially seemed to “level” every playing field in sight, while conquering markets across the planet. Its thoroughly high-tech military crushed the armed forces of one rogue power, Iraq, in a 100-hour storm of a war in 1991. Amid a blizzard of ticker tape and briefly soaring approval ratings for President George H.W. Bush, this was seen by those in the know as a preview of the world that was to be.

So what a perfect time — I’m talking about January 2000 — for some of the greatest geopolitical dreamers of all, a crew that saw an “unprecedented strategic opportunity” in the new century to organize not half the planet, as in the Cold War, but the whole damn thing. They took power by a chad that year, already fearing that the process of creating the kind of military that could truly do their bidding might be a slow one without “some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor.” On September 11, 2001, thanks to Osama bin Laden’s precision air assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they got their wish — what screaming newspaper headlines promptly called “a new day of infamy” or “the Pearl Harbor of the twenty-first century.” Like their confreres in 1991, the top officials of George W. Bush’s administration were initially stunned by the event, but soon found themselves swept up in a mood of soaring optimism about the future of both the Republican Party and American power. Their dream, as they launched what they called the Global War on Terror, would be nothing short of creating an eternal Pax Republicana in the U.S. and a similarly never-ending Pax Americana first in the Greater Middle East and then on a potentially planetary scale.

As their 2002 national security strategy put it, the U.S. was to “build and maintain” military power “beyond challenge” so that no country or even bloc of countries could ever again come close to matching it. For them, this was the functional definition of global dominance. It gave the phrase of that moment, “shock and awe,” new meaning.

A Smash-Up on the Horizon?

Of course, you remember this history as well as I do, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to jump into the future with me and land in September 2018, some 17 years later, when all those plans to create a truly American planet had come to fruition and the U.S. was dominant in a way no other country had ever been.

Whoops… my mistake.

It is indeed 17 years later. Remarkably enough, though, the last superpower, the one with the military that was, as President George W. Bush put it, “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known,” is still fruitlessly fighting — and still losing ground — in the very first country it took on and supposedly “liberated”: poor Afghanistan. The Taliban is again on the rise there. Elsewhere, al-Qaeda, stronger than ever, has franchised itself, multiplied, and in Iraq given birth to another terror outfit, ISIS, whose own franchises are now multiplying across parts of the planet. In no country in which the U.S. military intervened in this century or in which it simply supported allied forces in a conflict against seemingly weaker, less-well-armed enemies has there been an obvious, lasting victory of the kind that seemed so self-evidently an American right and legacy after 1991 and again 2001.

In fact, there may not be another example of a truly great power, seemingly at the height of its strength and glory, so unable to impose its will, no matter the brutality and destructive force employed. The United States had, of course, been able to do exactly that, often with striking success (at least for a while), from Guatemala to Iran in the Cold War years, but “alone” on the planet, it came up cold. Of those three rogue powers of the 1990s, for instance, Iran and North Korea are now stronger (one of them even nuclear-armed) and neither, despite the desires and plans of so many American officials, has been toppled. Meanwhile, Iraq, after a U.S. invasion and occupation in 2003, has proven a never-ending disaster area.

Not that anyone’s drawing lessons from any of this at the moment, perhaps because there’s that orange-haired guy in the Oval Office taking up so much of our time and attention or because there’s an understandable desire to duck the most obvious conclusion: that Planet Earth, however small, is evidently still too big for one power, however economically overwhelming or militarily dominant, to control. Think of the last 27 years of American history as a demo for that old idiom: biting off more than you can chew.

In 2016, in what came to be known as the “homeland,” American voters responded to that reality in a visceral way. They elected as president a truly strange figure, a man who alone among the country’s politicians was peddling the idea that the U.S. was no longer great but, like Putin’s Russia, would have to be made great again. Donald Trump, as I wrote during that campaign season, was the first presidential candidate to promote the idea that the United States was in decline at a moment when politicians generally felt obliged to affirm that the U.S. was the greatestmost exceptional, most indispensable place on the planet. And, of course, he won.

Admittedly, despite a near collapse a decade earlier, the economy is seemingly soaring, while the stock market remains ebullient. In fact, it couldn’t look sunnier, could it? I mean, put aside the usual Trumpian tweets and the rest of the Washington sideshow, including those Chinese (and Canadian) tariffs and the bluster and bombast of the leakiest administration this side of the Titanic, and, as the president so oftensays, things couldn’t look rosier. The Dow Jones average has left past versions of the same in the dust. The unemployment rate is somewhere near the bottom of the barrel (if you don’t count the actual unemployed). The economy is just booming along.

But tell me the truth: Can’t you just feel it? Honestly, can’t you?

You know as well as I do that there’s something rotten in… well, let’s not blame Denmark… but you know perfectly well that something’s not right here. You know that it’s the wallets and pocketbooks of the 1% that are really booming, expanding, exploding at the moment; that the rich have inherited, if not the Earth, then at least American politics; that the wealth possessed by that 1% is now at levels not seen since the eve of the Great Depression of 1929. And, honestly, can you doubt that the next crash is somewhere just over the horizon?

Meet the Empire Burners

Donald Trump is in the White House exactly because, in these years, so many Americans felt instinctively that something was going off the tracks. (That shouldn’t be a surprise, given the striking lack of investment in, or upkeep of, the infrastructure of the greatest of all powers.) He’s there largely thanks to the crew that’s now proudly referred to — for supposedly keeping him in line — as “the adults in the room.” Let me suggest a small correction to that phrase to better reflect the 16 years in this not-so-new century before he entered the Oval Office. How about “the adolts in the room”?

After all, from National Security Advisor John Bolton (the invasion of Iraq) and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (a longtime regime-change advocate) to CIA Director Gina Haspel (black sites and torture), Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis (former Marine general and CENTCOM commander), and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (former Marine general and a commander in Iraq), those adolts and so many like them remain deeply implicated in the path the country took in those years of geopolitical dreaming. They were especially responsible for the decision to invest in the U.S. military (and little else), as well as in endless wars, in the years before Donald Trump came to power. And worse yet, they seem to have learned absolutely nothing from the process.

Take a recent example we know something about — Afghanistan — thanks to Fear: Trump in the White House, Bob Woodward’s bestselling new book. Only recently, an American sergeant major, an adviser to Afghan troops, was gunned down at a base near the Afghan capital, Kabul, in an “insider” or “green-on-blue” attack, a commonplace of that war. He was killed (and another American adviser wounded) by two allied Afghan police officers in the wake of an American air strike in the same area in which more than a dozen of their compatriots died. Forty-two years old and on the eve of retirement, the sergeant was on his seventh combat tour of duty of this century and, had he had an eighth, he might have served with an American born after the 9/11 attacks.

In his book, Woodward describes a National Security Council meeting in August 2017, in which the adolts in the room saved the president from his worst impulses. He describes how an impatient Donald Trump “exploded, most particularly at his generals. You guys have created this situation. It’s been a disaster. You’re the architects of this mess in Afghanistan… You’re smart guys, but I have to tell you, you’re part of the problem. And you haven’t been able to fix it, and you’re making it worse… I was against this from the beginning. He folded his arms. ‘I want to get out… and you’re telling me the answer is to get deeper in.’”

And indeed almost 16 years later that is exactly what Pompeo, Mattis, former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and the rest of them were telling him. According to Woodward, Mattis, for instance, argued forcefully “that if they pulled out, they would create another ISIS-style upheaval… What happened in Iraq under Obama with the emergence of ISIS will happen under you, Mattis told Trump, in one of his sharpest declarations.”

The reported presidential response: “‘You are all telling me that I have to do this,’ Trump said grudgingly, ‘and I guess that’s fine and we’ll do it, but I still think you’re wrong. I don’t know what this is for. It hasn’t gotten us anything. We’ve spent trillions,’ he exaggerated. ‘We’ve lost all these lives.’ Yet, he acknowledged, they probably could not cut and run and leave a vacuum for al-Qaeda, Iran, and other terrorists.”

And so Donald Trump became the latest surge president, authorizing, however grudgingly, the dispatching of yet more American troops and air power to Afghanistan (just as he recently authorized an “indefinite military effort” in Syria in the wake of what we can only imagine was another such exchange). Of Mattis himself, in response to reports that he might be on the way out after the midterm elections, the president recently responded, “He’ll stay… we’re very happy with him, we’re having a lot of victories, we’re having victories that people don’t even know about.”

Perhaps that should be considered definitional for the Trump presidency, which is likely to increasingly find itself in a world of “victories that people don’t even know about.” But don’t for a second think that The Donald was the one who brought us to this state, though someday he will undoubtedly be seen as the personification of it and of the decline that swept him into power. And for all that, for the victories that people won’t know about and the defeats that they will, he’ll have the adolts in the room to thank. They proved to be neither the empire builders of their dreams, nor even empire preservers, but a crew of potential empire burners.

Believe me, folks, it’s going to be anything but pretty. Welcome to that most unpredictable and dangerous of entities, a dying empire. Only 27 years after the bells of triumph tolled across Washington, it looks like those bells are now preparing to toll in mourning for it.

By Tom Engelhardt 
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A CIA lucky break? How the death of the ‘Smiling Pope’ helped Washington win the Cold War

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The sudden death of Pope John Paul I, exactly 40 years ago today, stunned the world. The ‘Smiling Pope’ had only served for 33 days. His demise and replacement by John Paul II marked an important turning point in the old Cold War.

The year 1978, as I argued in a previous op-ed, was the year today’s world was made.

There was nothing inevitable about the ascendancy of Reagan and Thatcher, the rise of groups like Al-Qaeda and IS, and the downfall of the Soviet Union. The neoliberal, neoconservative world order and its associated violence came about because of key events and decisions which took place 40 years ago. The Vatican was at the heart of these events.

The drama which unfolded there in the summer of 1978 would have been rejected as being too far-fetched if sent in as a film script. In a space of two and a half months, we had three different Popes. There was no great surprise when, on August 6, the first of them, Pope Paul VI, died after suffering a massive heart attack. The Supreme Pontiff, who had served since 1963, was 80 and had been in declining health. But the death of his much younger successor, John Paul I, a radical reformer who wanted to build a genuine People’s Church, has fuelled conspiracy theories to this day.

Cardinal Albino Luciani, the working-class son of a bricklayer (and staunch socialist), from a small town in northern Italy, was a Pope like no other. He refused a coronation and detested being carried on the sedia gestatoria – the Papal chair. He hated pomp and circumstance and pretentiousness. His speeches were down to earth and full of homely observations, with regular references to popular fiction. He possessed a gentle humor and always had a twinkle in his eye. He was by all accounts an incredibly sweet man.

But there was steel there, too. Luciani was determined to root out corruption, and to investigate the complex financial affairs of the Vatican’s own bank, and its connection to the scandal-hit Banco Ambrosiano.

While he had declared communism to be incompatible with Christianity, his father’s egalitarian ethos stayed with him. “The true treasures of the Church are the poor, the little ones to be helped not merely by occasional alms but in the way they can be promoted,” he once said. At a meeting with General Videla of Argentina, he made clear his abhorrence of fascism. “He talked particularly of his concern over ‘Los Desaparecidos’, people who had vanished off the face of Argentinian earth in their thousands. By the conclusion of the 15th minute audience the General began to wish that he had heeded the eleventh-hour attempts of Vatican officials to dissuade him coming to Rome,” noted David Yallop in his book ‘In God’s Name’.

One cleric, Father Busa, wrote of John Paul I: “His mind was as strong, as hard and as sharp as a diamond. That was where his real power was. He understood and had the ability to get to the centre of a problem. He could not be overwhelmed. When everyone was applauding the smiling Pope, I was waiting for him ‘tirare fuori le unghie’, to reveal his claws. He had tremendous power.”

But John Paul I never lived to exercise his “tremendous power.” He was found dead in his bed on the morning of September 28, 1978. The official story was that the ‘Smiling Pope’ had died from a heart attack. But it wasn’t long before questions were being asked. John Paul I was only 65 and had appeared to be in fine health. The fact that there was no post-mortem only added to the suspicions. “The public speculation that this death was not natural grew by the minute. Men and women were heard shouting at the inert form: Who has done this to you? Who has murdered you?” wrote David Yallop.

David Yallop revealed that on the day of his death, the Pope had discussed a reshuffle of Vatican staff with Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot, who was also to be replaced. Yallop claimed that the Pope had a list of a number of clerics who belonged to the Freemasons, membership of which was strictly prohibited by the Church. The most sinister of these Masonic lodges was the fiercely anti-communist Propaganda Due (P2), which held great influence in Italy at this time, being referred to as a “state within a state.” The murky world of P2, and its leaders’ links with organized crime, the Mafia and the CIA is discussed in ‘In God’s Name’.

Another writer, Lucien Gregoire, author of ‘Murder by the Grace of God’, points the finger of blame squarely at the CIA. He notes a seemingly strange coincidence, namely that on September 3, 1978, just 25 days before the Pope himself died, Metropolitan Nikodim, the visiting leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was later revealed to have been a KGB agent, fell dead at John Paul’s feet in the Vatican after sipping coffee. He was only 48. Gregoire says that the CIA dubbed John Paul I ‘the Bolshevik Pope’ and was keen to eliminate him before he presided over a conference the Puebla Conference in Mexico. “Had he lived another week, the United States would have been looking at a half a dozen mini-Cubas in its back yard,” he writes.

While there’s no shortage of suspects if you believe that John Paul I was murdered, it needs to be stressed that despite the contradictory statements made about the circumstances of his death, and the strange coincidences, no evidence has yet been produced to show that his death was not a natural one. What we can say though is that there will have been quite a few powerful and influential people in Italy and beyond who were relieved that the ‘Smiling Pope’ had such a short time in office.

His successor, the Polish Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, who took the name ‘John Paul II’ as a homage to his predecessor, made it clear that investigating the Vatican’s financial activities and uncovering Freemasons was not a priority. As a patriotic Pole, his appointment was manna from Heaven for anti-communist hawks in the US State Department. “The single fact of John Paul II’s election in 1978 changed everything. In Poland, everything began… Then the whole thing spread. He was in Chile and Pinochet was out. He was in Haiti and Duvalier was out. He was in the Philippines and Marcos was out,” said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, John Paul II’s press secretary.

The way that Pope John Paul II spoke out against what he regarded as communist repression, not only in his native Poland but across Eastern Europe and beyond, saw him being toasted by the neocon faction. It might not have been just words either, which helped undermine communist rule. There was a rumor that ‘God’s Banker’ Roberto Calvi, who in 1982 was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London, had sent $50mn to ‘Solidarity’ in Poland on behalf of the Pope.

In May 1981, John Paul II was shot and wounded by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca. Neocons in the US promoted the narrative that it was a communist plot (organized by Bulgaria), but Sofia denied involvement. In 1985, Agca’s confederate, Abdullah Catli, who was later killed in a car crash, testified that he had been approached by the West German BND spy organization, which promised him a large sum of money  “if he implicated the Bulgarian secret service and the KGB in the attempt on the Pope’s life.”

Martin Lee, writing in Consortium News, also notes that in 1990, “ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman disclosed that his colleagues, under pressure from CIA higher-ups, skewed their reports to try to lend credence to the contention that the Soviets were involved. ‘The CIA had no evidence linking the KGB to the plot,’ Goodman told the Senate Intelligence Committee.” 

In 2011, a new book entitled ‘To Kill the Pope, the Truth about the Assassination Attempt on John Paul II’, which was based on 20 years of research, concluded that the CIA had indeed tried to frame Bulgaria, in order to discredit communism.

The great irony of course is that after the Berlin Wall came down, Pope John Paul II became a strong critic of the inhumane ‘greed is good’ model of capitalism which had replaced communism. In Latvia, he said capitalism was responsible for “grave social injustices” and acknowledged that Marxism contained “a kernel of truth.” He said that “the ideology of the market” made solidarity between people “difficult at best.” In Czechoslovakia, he warned against replacing communism with materialism and consumerism.

Having enlisted the assistance of the Vatican in helping to bring down ‘The Reds’, the neo-liberals and neo-cons then turned on the Church. The Church survived communism, but it hasn’t fared too well under consumerism. The Vatican is nowhere near as influential as it was in 1978. The US, meanwhile, unconstrained by a geopolitical counter-weight, threw its weight around the world after 1989, illegally invading and attacking a series of sovereign states.

One can only wonder how different things might have been if the ‘Smiling Pope’ had lived.

By Neil Clark
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US has to come to terms with its place in the world, just as Britain did when its empire collapsed

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Trump’s threats of war, sanctions and promises to make America great again could be dismissed as the ranting of an eccentric politician. But this isn’t all about Trump. What he advocates is representative of much of the US elite.

The president and his generation of Americans grew up in a world where the USA was the greatest superpower in human history. It was not just their vast arsenal of nuclear weapons and their war machine but, in 1945, around 50 percent of the entire world’s economy was in the United States of America, with Britain and the USSR hobbling along with around 10 percent each. America dwarfed the power that the British empire had in the 19th century.

In the years that followed, America would intervene all over the world, not to spread democracy, but to overthrow governments that were not working in America’s commercial interests. Whether it was the coup that removed the government of Iran in 1953 and brought back the dictatorship of the Shah; or the military coup in Brazil in 1964 that overthrew a socialist, democratically elected government; or the dozens of other coups around the world, America crushed any opposition to its economic interests.

Some 45 years after the end of the Second World War came the collapse of the Soviet Union, by which time America’s share of the global economy was down to 25 percent. The collapse of the Soviet Union unleashed a wave of assumptions about the future. The most significant of these was Francis Fukuyama’s 1992 book ‘The End of History and The Last Man.’ This was met with acclaim around the world as he argued that the ideological evolution of humanity was over with the triumph of Western liberal democracy. Fukuyama had previously worked in the US State Department under Ronald Reagan and later worked for the first George Bush. Now he is a senior fellow at Stanford University and has just published a book called ‘Identity’ looking at the current political situation. But it was his 1992 book that dominated the political debate as he predicted that the collapse of communism meant there was only one system left for our planet: pragmatic liberal democracy, and the world would never change again.

In an interview in The Guardian, Fukuyama talks about the “ruthless cunning of Vladimir Putin” and points out that Trump and Brexit are a backlash against multiculturalism and international cooperation. He warns that “globalization has clearly left a lot of people behind. There is greater automation, greater inequality.” He says he believed the financial crash would see a surge of left-wing populism and was therefore surprised by the rise of Trump.

Across much of the capitalist West, tens of millions have seen their lives get worse and this has fueled the growth of far-right groups and racial hatred. But different things are happening elsewhere in the world, of which the most significant is the rise of China. Around 40 years ago, China was a basket economy with 90 percent of its people living in poverty, but the economic strategy of China has lifted over 500 million Chinese out of poverty and their economy has grown to a point where it is about to overtake the USA. Not surprisingly, this has caused a backlash in the American establishment.

Paul Wolfowitz, a key player in America’s invasion of Iraq, had warned back in 1992 in a secret memo to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney that “our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor.” But with the growth of China’s economy and America’s economic decline, Wolfowitz’s strategy has now become the consensus in the American government, including Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. During Obama’s administration, they were pushing aggressive policies by expanding NATO to encircle Russia and devising a strategy for the economic containment of China. Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) tried to create an economic bloc around the Pacific that would exclude China. Fortunately, this was rejected by most Asian governments and never happened.

America’s paranoia about China ignores why Beijing’s economy has soared. Unlike the West, which allows the financial sector to dominate and set the economic agenda, China focused on scientific and technological development, investment in infrastructure (like high-speed rail) and kept its financial center under firm regulation, thus avoiding its banks collapsing as they did in the West in 2008.

Sergei Glazyev, a key adviser to President Putin, has warned against the continuing US and EU sanctions against Russia, and the capricious policy of the Trump administration that has seen the start of a trade war. He warns that “if the US keeps contradicting international law… the first measure we would have to take together with China and other countries who are suffering from US aggression would be to get rid of the dollar as the key international currency.” China, he said“has created the most progressive system in the world for directing economic development, combining planning with market self-regulation, and subordinating private initiative to the needs of raising the general welfare through an increased volume and efficiency of production.”

Another consequence of China’s growth is BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). These countries are increasingly cooperating and as their economies continue to rise, we will never again see a world in which one country’s economy can dominate the whole planet, as was the case with America after 1945.

This global economic shift has caused a backlash with former British prime minister Tony Blair claiming“America needs Europe united and standing with it, not isolated as individual nations, able to be picked off one by one by the emergent new powers.”

China’s President Xi, speaking at the G20 conference two years ago, warned that “we can no longer rely on fiscal and monetary policy alone,” and called for spreading visionary and inclusive economic growth driven by innovation in science and technology… “to spearhead the fourth industrial revolution.” He went on to promise direct support to help the countries of Africa see their economies grow.

Xi also said“the Silk Road Economic Belt is progressing rapidly and the Maritime Silk Road is well underway. But this is not China creating a sphere of influence but rather a means of supporting the development of all countries. We are not building China’s backyard garden but we’re building a garden to be shared by all countries.”

Also, in September 2016, Russia’s President Putin advocated“big, ambitious, complex and long-term tasks” to transform Russia’s Far East into a hub of Eurasian development. At the same time, President Obama was still pushing for the TPP and demanding that “America should write the rules, not China.” A significant response to Obama came from Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, who said“In my opinion, the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed because we Europeans did not want to subject ourselves to America’s demands.”

These views were not shared by Britain’s Prime Minister May, as she launched what seemed to be the beginning of a new Cold War against Russia. Her views were echoed by the Sunday Telegraph’s editor, Allister Heath, who called for Britain to take the lead in creating a new global military and economic alliance to enforce democracy but also capitalism across the globe. Heath’s column was titled ‘Forget NATO. We need a new world alliance to take on totalitarian capitalists in Russia and China.’ Heath continued: “NATO is no longer enough: it is too European, too many of its members are outright pacifists and Turkey’s membership is problematic.” Heath claimed that the new alliance he was advocating “would be the biggest shift in geopolitics since the creation of the UN. It would dramatically shift the global balance of power, and allow the liberal democracies finally to fight back. It would endow the world with the sorts of robust institutions that are required to contain Russia and China…”

No one power is ever going to dominate the world again. The choice we face is to cooperate with the emerging new economies like China and those that will follow around the rest of the Third World or get caught up in an economic Cold War led by the American establishment and its UK ally. America has got to come to terms with the world as it is now, just as Britain had to the same when its empire collapsed. We should work with China and Russia and the other emerging economies and, in doing so, ordinary people around the world will benefit – including in the USA, if only America stops looking back to the past.

By Ken Livingstone
Source

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

( الخميس 2018/09/13 SyriaNow)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A walk on the wild side as Trump meets Putin at Finland station

 

The Saker

July 17, 2018A walk on the wild side as Trump meets Putin at Finland station

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

US President stirs up a hornet’s nest with his press conference alongside his Russian counterpart, but it seems that no ‘grand bargain’ was struck on Syria, and on Iran they appear to strongly disagree.

“The Cold War is a thing of the past.” By the time President Putin said as much during preliminary remarks at his joint press conference with President Trump in Helsinki, it was clear this would not stand. Not after so much investment by American conservatives in Cold War 2.0.

Russophobia is a 24/7 industry, and all concerned, including its media vassals, remain absolutely livid with the “disgraceful” Trump-Putin presser. Trump has “colluded with Russia.” How could the President of the United States promote “moral equivalence” with a “world-class thug”?

Multiple opportunities for apoplectic outrage were in order.

Trump: “Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed. As of about four hours ago.”

Putin: “The United States could be more decisive in nudging Ukrainian leadership.”

Trump: “There was no collusion… I beat Hillary Clinton easily.”

Putin: “We should be guided by facts. Can you name a single fact that would definitively prove collusion? This is nonsense.”

Then, the clincher: the Russian president calls [Special Counsel] Robert Mueller’s ‘bluff’, offering to interrogate the Russians indicted for alleged election meddling in the US if Mueller makes an official request to Moscow. But in exchange, Russia would expect the US to question Americans on whether Moscow should face charges for illegal actions.

Trump hits it out of the park when asked whether he believes US intelligence, which concluded that Russia did meddle in the election, or Putin, who strongly denies it.

“President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

As if this was not enough, Trump doubles down invoking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server. “I really do want to see the server. Where is the server? I want to know. Where is the server and what is the server saying?”

It was inevitable that a strategically crucial summit between the Russian and American presidencies would be hijacked by the dementia of the US news cycle.

Trump was unfazed. He knows that the DNC computer hard-drives – the source of an alleged “hacking” – simply “disappeared” while in the custody of US intel, FBI included. He knows the bandwidth necessary for file transfer was much larger than a hack might have managed in the time allowed. It was a leak, a download into a flash-drive.

Additionally, Putin knows that Mueller knows he will never be able to drag 12 Russian intelligence agents into a US courtroom. So the – debunked – indictment, announced only three days before Helsinki, was nothing more than a pre-emptive, judicial hand grenade.

No wonder John Brennan, a former CIA director under the Obama administration, is fuming.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to exceed the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”

How Syria and Ukraine are linked

However, there are reasons to expect at least minimal progress on three fronts in Helsinki: a solution for the Syria tragedy, an effort to limit nuclear weapons and save the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty signed in 1987 by Reagan and Gorbachev, and a positive drive to normalize US-Russia relations, away from Cold War 2.0.

Trump knew he had nothing to offer Putin to negotiate on Syria. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) now controls virtually 90% of national territory. Russia is firmly established in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially after signing a 49-year agreement with Damascus.

Even considering careful mentions of Israel on both sides, Putin certainly did not agree to force Iran out of Syria.

No “grand bargain” on Iran seems to be in the cards. The top adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, was in Moscow last week. The Moscow-Tehran entente cordiale seems unbreakable. In parallel, as Asia Times has learned, Bashar al-Assad has told Moscow he might even agree to Iran leaving Syria, but Israel would have to return the occupied Golan Heights. So, the status quo remains.

Putin did mention both presidents discussed the Iran nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action and essentially they, strongly, agree to disagree. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have written a letter formally rejecting an appeal for carve-outs in finance, energy and healthcare by Germany, France and the UK. A maximum economic blockade remains the name of the game. Putin may have impressed on Trump the possible dire consequences of a US oil embargo on Iran, and even the (far-fetched) scenario of Tehran blocking the Strait of Hormuz.

Judging by what both presidents said, and what has been leaked so far, Trump may not have offered an explicit US recognition of Crimea for Russia, or an easing of Ukraine-linked sanctions.

It’s reasonable to picture a very delicate ballet in terms of what they really discussed in relation to Ukraine. Once again, the only thing Trump could offer on Ukraine is an easing of sanctions. But for Russia the stakes are much higher.

Putin clearly sees Southwest Asia and Central and Eastern Europe as totally integrated. The Black Sea basin is where Russia intersects with Ukraine, Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Or, historically, where the former Russian, Ottoman and Habsburg empires converged.

A Greater Black Sea implies the geopolitical convergence of what’s happening in both Syria and Ukraine. That’s why for the Kremlin only an overall package matters. It’s not by accident that Washington identified these two nodes – destabilizing Damascus and turning the tables in Kiev – to cause problems for Moscow.

Putin sees a stable Syria and a stable Ukraine as essential to ease his burden in dealing with the Balkans and the Baltics. We’re back once again to that classic geopolitical staple, the Intermarium (“between the seas”). That’s the ultra-contested rimland from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south – and to the Caucasus in the east. Once, that used to frame the clash between Germany and Russia. Now, that frames the clash between the US and Russia.

In a fascinating echo of the summit in Helsinki, Western strategists do lose their sleep gaming on Russia being able to “Finlandize” this whole rimland.

And that brings us, inevitably, to what could be termed The German Question. What is Putin’s ultimate goal: a quite close business and strategic relationship with Germany (German business is in favor)? Or some sort of entente cordiale with the US? EU diplomats in Brussels are openly discussing that underneath all the thunder and lightning, this is the holy of the holies.

Take a walk on the wild side

The now notorious key takeaway from a Trump interview at his golf club in Turnberry, Scotland, before Helsinki, may offer some clues.

“Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe. But that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive.”

Putin certainly knows it. But even Trump, while not being a Clausewitzian strategist, may have had an intuition that the post-WWII liberal order, built by a hegemonic US and bent on permanent US military hegemony over the Eurasian landmass while subduing a vassal Europe, is waning.

While Trump firebombs this United States of Europe as an “unfair” competitor of the US, it’s essential to remember that it was the White House that asked for the Helsinki summit, not the Kremlin.

Trump treats the EU with undisguised disdain. He would love nothing better than for the EU to dissolve. His Arab “partners” can be easily controlled by fear. He has all but declared economic war on China and is on tariff overdrive – even as the IMF warns that the global economy runs the risk of losing around $500 billion in the process. And he faces the ultimate intractable, the China-Russia-Iran axis of Eurasian integration, which simply won’t go away.

So, talking to “world-class thug” Putin – in usual suspect terminology – is a must. A divide-and-rule here, a deal there – who knows what some hustling will bring? To paraphrase Lou Reed, New Trump City “is the place where they say “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.”

During the Helsinki presser, Putin, fresh from Russia’s spectacular World Cup soft power PR coup, passed a football to Trump. The US president said he would give it to his son, Barron, and passed the ball to First Lady Melania. Well, the ball is now in Melania’s court.

Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu’s interview with Italy’s Il Giornale full version

The Saker

July 11, 2018

Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu’s interview with Italy’s Il Giornale full version

Translation by Scott Humor from Russian version found here

https://tvzvezda.ru/news/forces/content/201807111100-cg1g.htm

Original interview

http://www.ilgiornale.it/news/mondo/gelo-washington-colpa-delle-lites-americane-1551319.html

 

Q.: Mr. Minister, tensions between Russia and the United States are growing and raising concerns: are we on the threshold of a new Cold War?

Shoigu: We often hear from the US that the crisis in bilateral relations has been provoked by Russia’s alleged aggressive actions on the international arena. However, we are firmly convinced that tensions in our relations have been artificially fueled all this time by those American elites, who believe that the world is divided into the “American” part and the “wrong” part.

it was the United States that in recent years had unilaterally broke key agreements, which formed the backbone of the global security. Despite the promises that were given to the Soviet leadership during Germany’s reunification, Washington initiated eastward NATO expansion towards our borders.

For over 25 years they tried to fool us claiming that there have been no promises, until recently the National Security Agency declassified archives with the documents of that period, in which it has been set out literally and in personalities.

Because of NATO expansion to the East and accession to NATO countries of Eastern Europe: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Romania, an agreement signed in 1990 between the Warsaw Treaty Organization and NATO called the Treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe, providing for the limitation of armaments in areas of contact between two blocks, de facto lost its meaning for Russia.

In 2002, under a pretext of a fictitious “danger” of a missile attack by Iran or North Korea, Washington unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty and began deployment its radars and anti-missiles in the vicinity of our borders.

I, as president of the Russian Geographical Society, have for a long time wanted to present the US colleagues with a globe so that they would look at it and explain to us, why the ‘US adversaries’ designated by them are located in the Middle East and East Asia, while all their military bases and troops are scooched along Russia’s borders? Do they expect us to defend them?

The US party is currently preparing its withdrawal from the INF treaty. The reason for such step is alleged violations of the treaty by Russia.

 

Q: What kind of violations?

Shoigu: All we hear are some mumbles and baseless accusations directed at us. But there are no facts, only statements.

We have repeatedly and publicly made it clear in all major international fora that it is the United States that is directly violating the INF Treaty, having installed, during the deployment of a missile shield in Europe, its MK-41 vertical launching systems, which might be used to launch of Tomahawk cruise missiles. The destructive radius of these missiles covers almost all the European part of Russia’s territory.

In 2007 at the Munich Security Conference Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the leadership of the United States and other Western countries to respect Russia’s national interests and to build open and equal relationships. Unfortunately, very few in the West wanted to hear this call.

 

Q: In your opinion why is this happening?

Shoigu: Today recovering Russia is being viewed not as an ally but as a threat to the US dominance. We are being accused of some aggressive plans towards the West, which, in turn, continues to deploy new forces on our borders.

Among multiple examples of such unfriendly steps there is a decision made in June by NATO to establish two new commands, responsible for the protection of maritime communication and the operative deployment of the US troops to Europe. It’s also an increase of the alliance’s contingent troops in the Baltic states, Romania, Bulgaria and Poland from 2,000 to 15,000 troops with the possibility of rapid build-up of the group to 60,000 soldiers with armored vehicles. Starting with 2020, NATO intends to maintain 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 warships to be in constant readiness for use at the borders of Russia in 30 days.

All of these takes place directly at Russia’s Western borders. At the same time, the Americans are constantly violating international law, using military force in various regions of the world under the pretext of protecting their own interests.

This happened in April of this year in Syria, when on the territory of the sovereign and independent state, (the US) with the support of Britain and France carried out a massive missile attack. What took place was a gross violation of international law by three permanent members of the UN Security Council under fictitious pretext. And this is not an only example, but a trend.

 

Q: A trend?

Shoigu: Yes, we are talking about the neocolonial strategy, which has already been tested by the United States in Iraq and Libya and which consists in supporting any, even the most barbaric ideologies, in order to weaken legitimate governments. After that the United States stages attacks with the use of weapons of mass destruction or organizing humanitarian disasters and, at the final stages, uses military force to create “manageable chaos,” which enables the transnational corporations freely extract the existing assets and to funnel them into the US economy.

Russia, which advocates the equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with all the countries within the concept of the multipolar world, will always be an obstacle for such “strategies to be implemented.

 

Q.: Are there any red lines that cannot be crossed?

Shoigu: In this sense, our military doctrine is very clear, and its essence in prevention of any conflicts. Our official approaches to the use of military force are quite clear and fully disclosed.

Despite of my post, I am convinced that any issues can and should be settled without the use of military force.

I have repeatedly extended invitations to the Pentagon’s head to discuss the existing problems of the global and regional security, including the fight against terrorism. But the Americans are not ready for such dialogue, although, I am certain, that it’s in the best interest not only people in Russia and in the USA, but also in the rest of the world.

Right now, there is only one communication channel between our general staffs now, which is used in negotiations, including at the level of the chiefs of general staff, aimed, first of all, at preventing the military activities of Russia and the United States from turning into a military conflict between our nuclear powers.

 

Q.: But your country is being accused in carrying out the “hybrid wars” against the West.

Shoigu: In Russia we say that it’s a thief himself who screams the loudest “Hold the thief!” The term “hybrid actions” refers to various forms of pressure used by one state against another, but without an open use of military force. Such “wars” are known since ancient times, and they allowed the UK to prevail over the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century. Who doesn’t know about the adventures of Lawrence of Arabia?

Today “hybrid wars” include control of media, economic sanctions, hacking activities in cyberspace, backing of internal unrests, finally, deployment of special units and specialists to carry out terror attacks, sabotage and diversion.

This list, perhaps, can be continued further, but there is one important detail. For its successful implementation this century, it is necessary to have global and all-pervasive media, possession of superiority in information and telecommunication technologies, a hold on global financial systems, as well as experience in the deployment and use of special forces in other countries.

 

Q.: What countries, other than the United States and the United Kingdom, have this kind of potential?

Shoigu: These methods were successfully tested by London and Washington during the invasion of Iraq in 1991 immediately after the end of the “cold war.”

This is an important detail, because these technologies existed when the Soviet Union and a bipolar world existed, but there were no opportune conditions. And, by the way, the US president at the time [of the Gulf War] was none other than George H. W. Bush, former director of the CIA.

Since the 1990s, these methods have been actively used by the United States in former Yugoslavia, Libya, [Russia’s] Chechen Republic and, most recently, in Syria. All the signs of the “hybrid war” were apparent in Ukraine ahead of the armed rebellion in February 2014, with the European countries’ passive participation in these “hybrid actions.”

Today, everyone pretends to forget how on the eve of the coup (in Kiev) three foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland personally guaranteed to the legitimate President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych a peaceful settlement of the political crisis, if he does not impose a state of emergency and withdraws all units of the security forces from Kiev. But immediately after the implementation of these obligations, nationalist militants, armed and trained with American and European money, staged a coup, and Europe immediately recognized them as legitimate power.

Accusations of Russia (in hybrid actions) began to appear in the American and British media after an unsuccessful attempt to stage this scenario in Crimea.

 

Q.: Really?

Shoigu: We simply did not give to our overseas colleagues an opportunity to put these measures into practice in Crimea, where, on the contrary, a referendum was held, during which residents freely and, by the way, in the presence of hundreds of representatives of the same American media, voted to withdraw from Ukraine and reunite with Russia. In comparison, after the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia because of the NATO intervention, Kosovo did not hold any general referendums, but achieved immediate recognition of independence by Washington and Europe after the routine parliamentary vote. It was done absolutely ignoring opinion of the Serbs living in Kosovo and the Yugoslavia’s Constitution.

 

Q.: The issue of Syria will be central during the meeting of presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. What’s your idea of the US strategy in the Syrian conflict?

Shoigu: Since US lawmakers and experts have been calling on the US government to clarify its strategy for Syria, our country is not the only one who does not get it.

In recent years during the continuation of this war, illegal from the point of international law, and even according to the US constitution, the official explanations for the presence of the US military contingent in Syria have been constantly changing.

I would like to recall that initially it was about defeating the ISIL, then about preventing re-emergence of the ISIL and now statements are being made about need to preserve military presence in Syria in order to deter alleged influence of Iran.

Therefore, it is hard to shake off the impression that the United States’ chief objective in Syria is to prevent the situation from stabilizing, to prolong the conflict and undermine the country’s territorial integrity by creating enclaves not controlled by the government on Syria’s borders.

In the areas controlled by the United States for years they have been training militants, who are actively fighting with the Syrian government army and receiving supplies of weapons and ammunition.

In addition, it’s not superfluous to recall that during the struggle of the US-led international coalition against ISIS, the territory controlled by terrorists only increased. Civilization and secular governance persisted only in a few pockets: in Damascus, the province of Latakia and partly in Deir ez-Zor.

At the same time, while declaring its ‘noble’ objectives and ‘good’ will in recent years, the United States has not allocated one cent of aid to provide real assistance to Syrian civilians devastated by long years of war. This applies even to the liberated by the United States and the coalition former capital of ISIS Raqqa, where munition and mortars left after massive bombardments by the “international coalition” still kill local residents. Every week, dozens of people are being killed, including children.

On the other hand, not a single incident involving civilians has been recorded after the Syrian troops’ operations to liberate various regions and localities. Demining activities took place there, people received food and construction materials they needed to resume a peaceful life as soon as possible.

If there is some basis for our American counterparts’ actions in Syria, it is too contradictory to be called a “strategy.”

Q.: Another obstacle to the stabilization of Syria is the rivalry between Iran and Israel…

Shoigu: Iran, like Turkey, historically has been one of the main actors in the region and plays a key role in stabilization of the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic.

As you know, Iran, together with Russia and Turkey, is one of the guarantors of the Astana process aimed at finding an agreement for the final settlement of Syrian conflict.

Regarding the tensions between Iran and Israel or other countries, our position is that we are committed to resolving possible differences and contradictions through dialogue, not through military force and violation of international law.

Use of military force by any of these parties in Syria would inevitably lead to an escalation of tension throughout the Middle East. In that regard, we are committed to the peaceful and diplomatic settlement of any differences and we hope that both sides will be able to show restraint.

 

Q.: Don’t you think that a possibility of supplying S-300 systems to Damascus represents an additional risk factor?

Shoigu: I would like to note that the S-300 system is a complex of purely defensive weapons. Therefore, it cannot pose a direct threat to anyone’s national security.

This anti-aircraft missile system can only be a threat to air attack vehicles. Besides, the decision to supply this model of arms to the army of any foreign state is made based on the appropriate request, which has not been made, yet.

Thus, it is premature to talk about this specifically. At the request of some of our Western partners, as well as Israel, a few years ago, we refrained from delivering these complexes to Syria. Today, after the aggression of the United States, Britain and France against Syria, which has demonstrated the need for the Syrians to have modern air defense, we are ready to revisit this issue.

Q.: From the war in Syria to the trade war. If the level of relations with Washington has reached a historical minimum, the relations with China are increasingly strengthening…

Shoigu: Of course, the tension in international relations has contributed to the strengthening of Russian-Chinese relations, which are based on mutual respect and trust. Russia and China have long-term friendly and strategic relations, and cooperation is developing in many areas, including through military agencies, which is in the interests of both states.

Examples of our cooperation include conducted on a bilateral basis joint operational training of the armed forces of our states, including the annual naval drill Sea Cooperation, and a large-scale joint Russian-Chinese naval and an annual series of joint anti-ballistic missile air defense exercises called Aerospace Security.

We conduct multinational military exercises of armies and fleets of the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) the military exercise the Peace Mission. In addition, the Chinese representatives participate in annual competition of the Russia’s Defense Ministry called the International Army Games. Today, about 12% of Russian weapons are exported to China.

At the same time, our joint activities in this area, in contrast to the exercises conducted by NATO and the EU in Europe, are exclusively defensive in nature. Our military partnerships are not directed against any other countries or blocs and serve exclusively to strengthen global and regional security.

Q.: What do you think about the development of the situation in North Korea?

Shoigu: Russia and North Korea have signed a number of agreements in the field of military-technical cooperation, the implementation of which is currently suspended in the framework of the Russian Federation’s implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874.

We are now witnessing a significant reduction in tensions between the North and the South of the Korean Peninsula. We believe that this positive trend is stable and irreversible.

Q.: If we return to Ukraine: do you think it will be possible to find a solution to the current conflict in the South-East of the country?

Shoigu: Only unconditional implementation by Kiev of the Minsk Agreements will allow to exclude emergence of the situation capable to lead to genocide of the Russian population. Unfortunately, Kiev is stubbornly refuses to comply with the agreement, finding various flimsy excuses and making unfounded accusatory statements against Russia.

At the same time, Kiev has been rejecting the very possibility of dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk, without which the settlement of this crisis is simply impossible. Of course, our country responds to these developments, constantly calling on Kiev to implement the package of measures that was agreed in Minsk

We hope that the European countries, first and foremost, members of the “Normandy” format, [which includes Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine] will be able to use all their influence on the Ukrainian authorities to reach a peaceful settlement of this internal conflict in southeastern Ukraine.

I believe that a direct confrontation between Ukraine and Russia is impossible. We have common roots, for centuries we have been enduring hardships together and we fought side by side for our freedom and independence during the Second World War. My mother’s family members used to live in Ukraine, I was baptized in a small church in Stakhanov, a town located in Ukraine’s Lugansk region. I am confident that there will never be a place for confrontation or hostility between us, given our common history.

 

————–

Scott Humor,

the Director of Research and Development

My research of the war on Donbass is available at the saker.community book store

The War on Donbass, which is called by the Western politicians and media the “Russian aggression in Ukraine” was a staged psyop.

My illustrated investigation titled Pokémon in Ukraine reveals how this psyop was staged, by whom and why.

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