Why Russia is driving the West crazy

Why Russia is driving the West crazy

February 10, 2021

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted on Asia Times

Future historians may register it as the day when usually unflappable Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov decided he had had enough:

We are getting used to the fact that the European Union are trying to impose unilateral restrictions, illegitimate restrictions and we proceed from the assumption at this stage that the European Union is an unreliable partner.

Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, on an official visit to Moscow, had to take it on the chin.

Lavrov, always the perfect gentleman, added, “I hope that the strategic review that will take place soon will focus on the key interests of the European Union and that these talks will help to make our contacts more constructive.”

He was referring to the EU heads of state and government’s summit at the European Council next month, where they will discuss Russia. Lavrov harbors no illusions the “unreliable partners” will behave like adults.

Yet something immensely intriguing can be found in Lavrov’s opening remarks in his meeting with Borrell: “The main problem we all face is the lack of normalcy in relations between Russia and the European Union – the two largest players in the Eurasian space. It is an unhealthy situation, which does not benefit anyone.”

The two largest players in the Eurasian space (italics mine). Let that sink in. We’ll be back to it in a moment.

As it stands, the EU seems irretrievably addicted to worsening the “unhealthy situation”. European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen memorably botched the Brussels vaccine game. Essentially, she sent Borrell to Moscow to ask for licensing rights for European firms to produce the Sputnik V vaccine – which will soon be approved by the EU.

And yet Eurocrats prefer to dabble in hysteria, promoting the antics of NATO asset and convicted fraudster Navalny – the Russian Guaido.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, under the cover of “strategic deterrence”, the head of the US STRATCOM, Admiral Charles Richard, casually let it slip that “there is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state.”

So the blame for the next – and final – war is already apportioned to the “destabilizing” behavior of Russia and China. It’s assumed they will be “losing” – and then, in a fit of rage, will go nuclear. The Pentagon will be no more than a victim; after all, claims Mr. STRATCOM, we are not “stuck in the Cold War”.

STRATCOM planners could do worse than read crack military analyst Andrei Martyanov, who for years has been on the forefront detailing how the new hypersonic paradigm – and not nuclear weapons – has changed the nature of warfare.

After a detailed technical discussion, Martyanov shows how “the United States simply has no good options currently. None. The less bad option, however, is to talk to Russians and not in terms of geopolitical BS and wet dreams that the United States, somehow, can convince Russia “to abandon” China – US has nothing, zero, to offer Russia to do so. But at least Russians and Americans may finally settle peacefully this “hegemony” BS between themselves and then convince China to finally sit as a Big Three at the table and finally decide how to run the world. This is the only chance for the US to stay relevant in the new world.”

The Golden Horde imprint

As much as the chances are negligible of the EU getting a grip on the “unhealthy situation” with Russia, there’s no evidence what Martyanov outlined will be contemplated by the US Deep State.

The path ahead seems ineluctable: perpetual sanctions; perpetual NATO expansion alongside Russia’s borders; the build up of a ring of hostile states around Russia; perpetual US interference on Russian internal affairs – complete with an army of fifth columnists; perpetual, full spectrum information war.

Lavrov is increasingly making it crystal clear that Moscow expects nothing else. Facts on the ground, though, will keep accumulating.

Nordstream 2 will be finished – sanctions or no sanctions – and will supply much needed natural gas to Germany and the EU. Convicted fraudster Navalny – 1% of real “popularity” in Russia – will remain in jail. Citizens across the EU will get Sputnik V. The Russia-China strategic partnership will continue to solidify.

To understand how we have come to this unholy Russophobic mess, an essential road map is provided by Russian Conservatism , an exciting, new political philosophy study by Glenn Diesen, associate professor at University of Southeastern Norway, lecturer at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, and one of my distinguished interlocutors in Moscow.

Diesen starts focusing on the essentials: geography, topography and history. Russia is a vast land power without enough access to the seas. Geography, he argues, conditions the foundations of “conservative policies defined by autocracy, an ambiguous and complex concept of nationalism, and the enduring role of the Orthodox Church” – something that implies resistance to “radical secularism”.

It’s always crucial to remember that Russia has no natural defensible borders; it has been invaded or occupied by Swedes, Poles, Lithuanians, the Mongol Golden Horde, Crimean Tatars and Napoleon. Not to mention the immensely bloody Nazi invasion.

What’s in a word? Everything: “security”, in Russian, is byezopasnost. That happens to be a negative, as byez means “without” and opasnost means “danger”.

Russia’s complex, unique historical make-up always presented serious problems. Yes, there was close affinity with the Byzantine empire. But if Russia “claimed transfer of imperial authority from Constantinople it would be forced to conquer it.” And to claim the successor, role and heritage of the Golden Horde would relegate Russia to the status of an Asiatic power only.

On the Russian path to modernization, the Mongol invasion provoked not only a geographical schism, but left its imprint on politics: “Autocracy became a necessity following the Mongol legacy and the establishment of Russia as an Eurasian empire with a vast and poorly connected geographical expanse”.

“A colossal East West”

Russia is all about East meets West. Diesen reminds us how Nikolai Berdyaev, one of the leading 20th century conservatives, already nailed it in 1947: “The inconsistency and complexity of the Russian soul may be due to the fact that in Russia two streams of world history – East and West – jostle and influence one another (…) Russia is a complete section of the world – a colossal East West.”

The Trans-Siberian railroad, built to solidify the internal cohesion of the Russian empire and to project power in Asia, was a major game-changer: “With Russian agricultural settlements expanding to the east, Russia was increasingly replacing the ancient roads who had previously controlled and connected Eurasia.”

It’s fascinating to watch how the development of Russian economics ended up on Mackinder’s Heartland theory – according to which control of the world required control of the Eurasian supercontinent. What terrified Mackinder is that Russian railways connecting Eurasia would undermine the whole power structure of Britain as a maritime empire.

Diesen also shows how Eurasianism – emerging in the 1920s among émigrés in response to 1917 – was in fact an evolution of Russian conservatism.

Eurasianism, for a number of reasons, never became a unified political movement. The core of Eurasianism is the notion that Russia was not a mere Eastern European state. After the 13th century Mongol invasion and the 16th century conquest of Tatar kingdoms, Russia’s history and geography could not be only European. The future would require a more balanced approach – and engagement with Asia.

Dostoyevsky had brilliantly framed it ahead of anyone, in 1881:

Russians are as much Asiatics as European. The mistake of our policy for the past two centuries has been to make the people of Europe believe that we are true Europeans. We have served Europe too well, we have taken too great a part in her domestic quarrels (…) We have bowed ourselves like slaves before the Europeans and have only gained their hatred and contempt. It is time to turn away from ungrateful Europe. Our future is in Asia.

Lev Gumilev was arguably the superstar among a new generation of Eurasianists. He argued that Russia had been founded on a natural coalition between Slavs, Mongols and Turks. The Ancient Rus and the Great Steppe, published in 1989, had an immense impact in Russia after the fall of the USSR – as I learned first hand from my Russian hosts when I arrived in Moscow via the Trans-Siberian in the winter of 1992.

As Diesen frames it, Gumilev was offering a sort of third way, beyond European nationalism and utopian internationalism. A Lev Gumilev University has been established in Kazakhstan. Putin has referred to Gumilev as “the great Eurasian of our time”.

Diesen reminds us that even George Kennan, in 1994, recognized the conservative struggle for “this tragically injured and spiritually diminished country”. Putin, in 2005, was way sharper. He stressed,

the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. And for the Russian people, it was a real drama (…) The old ideals were destroyed. Many institutions were disbanded or simply hastily reformed…With unrestricted control over information flows, groups of oligarchs served exclusively their own corporate interests. Mass poverty started to be accepted as the norm. All this evolved against a background of the most severe economic recession, unstable finances and paralysis in the social sphere.

Applying “sovereign democracy”

And so we reach the crucial European question.

In the 1990s, led by Atlanticists, Russian foreign policy was focused on Greater Europe, a concept based on Gorbachev’s Common European Home.

And yet post-Cold War Europe, in practice, ended up configured as the non-stop expansion of NATO and the birth – and expansion – of the EU. All sorts of liberal contortionisms were deployed to include all of Europe while excluding Russia.

Diesen has the merit of summarizing the whole process in a single sentence: “The new liberal Europe represented a British-American continuity in terms of the rule of maritime powers, and Mackinder’s objective to organize the German-Russian relationship in a zero-sum format to prevent the alignment of interests”.

No wonder Putin, subsequently, had to be erected as the Supreme Scarecrow, or “the new Hitler”. Putin rejected outright the role for Russia of mere apprentice to Western civilization – and its corollary, (neo) liberal hegemony.

Still, he remained quite accommodating. In 2005, Putin stressed, “above all else Russia was, is and will, of course, be a major European power”. What he wanted was to decouple liberalism from power politics – by rejecting the fundamentals of liberal hegemony.

Putin was saying there’s no single democratic model. That was eventually conceptualized as “sovereign democracy”. Democracy cannot exist without sovereignty; so that discards Western “supervision” to make it work.

Diesen sharply observes that if the USSR was a “radical, left-wing Eurasianism, some of its Eurasian characteristics could be transferred to conservative Eurasianism.” Diesen notes how Sergey Karaganov, sometimes referred to as the “Russian Kissinger”, has shown “that the Soviet Union was central to decolonization and it mid-wifed the rise of Asia by depriving the West of the ability to impose its will on the world through military force, which the West had done from the 16th century until the 1940s”.

This is largely acknowledged across vast stretches of the Global South – from Latin America and Africa to Southeast Asia.

Eurasia’s western peninsula

So after the end of the Cold War and the failure of Greater Europe, Moscow’s pivot to Asia to build Greater Eurasia could not but have an air of historical inevitability.

The logic is impeccable. The two geoeconomic hubs of Eurasia are Europe and East Asia. Moscow wants to connect them economically into a supercontinent: that’s where Greater Eurasia joins China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But then there’s the extra Russian dimension, as Diesen notes: the “transition away from the usual periphery of these centers of power and towards the center of a new regional construct”.

From a conservative perspective, emphasizes Diesen, “the political economy of Greater Eurasia enables Russia to overcome its historical obsession with the West and establish an organic Russian path to modernization”.

That implies the development of strategic industries; connectivity corridors; financial instruments; infrastructure projects to connect European Russia with Siberia and Pacific Russia. All that under a new concept: an industrialized, conservative political economy.

The Russia-China strategic partnership happens to be active in all these three geoeconomic sectors: strategic industries/techno platforms, connectivity corridors and financial instruments.

That propels the discussion, once again, to the supreme categorical imperative: the confrontation between the Heartland and a maritime power.

The three great Eurasian powers, historically, were the Scythians, the Huns and the Mongols. The key reason for their fragmentation and decadence is that they were not able to reach – and control – Eurasia’s maritime borders.

The fourth great Eurasian power was the Russian empire – and its successor, the USSR. A key reason the USSR collapsed is because, once gain, it was not able to reach – and control – Eurasia’s maritime borders.

The US prevented it by applying a composite of Mackinder, Mahan and Spykman. The US strategy even became known as the Spykman-Kennan containment mechanism – all these “forward deployments” in the maritime periphery of Eurasia, in Western Europe, East Asia and the Middle East.

We all know by now how the overall US offshore strategy – as well as the primary reason for the US to enter both WWI and WWII – was to prevent the emergence of a Eurasian hegemon by all means necessary.

As for the US as hegemon, that would be crudely conceptualized – with requisite imperial arrogance – by Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski in 1997: “To prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and keep the barbarians from coming together”. Good old Divide and Rule, applied via “system-dominance”.

It’s this system that is now tumbling down – much to the despair of the usual suspects. Diesen notes how, “in the past, pushing Russia into Asia would relegate Russia to economic obscurity and eliminate its status as a European power.” But now, with the center of geoeconomic gravity shifting to China and East Asia, it’s a whole new ball game.

The 24/7 US demonization of Russia-China, coupled with the “unhealthy situation” mentality of the EU minions, only helps to drive Russia closer and closer to China exactly at the juncture where the West’s two centuries-only world dominance, as Andre Gunder Frank conclusively proved , is coming to an end.

Diesen, perhaps too diplomatically, expects that “relations between Russia and the West will also ultimately change with the rise of Eurasia. The West’s hostile strategy to Russia is conditioned on the idea that Russia has nowhere else to go, and must accept whatever the West offers in terms of “partnership”. The rise of the East fundamentally alters Moscow’s relationship with the West by enabling Russia to diversify its partnerships”.

We may be fast approaching the point where Great Eurasia’s Russia will present Germany with a take it or leave it offer. Either we build the Heartland together, or we will build it with China – and you will be just a historical bystander. Of course there’s always the inter-galaxy distant possibility of a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing axis. Stranger things have happened.

Meanwhile, Diesen is confident that “the Eurasian land powers will eventually incorporate Europe and other states on the inner periphery of Eurasia. Political loyalties will incrementally shift as economic interests turn to the East, and Europe is gradually becoming the western peninsula of Greater Eurasia”.

Talk about food for thought for the peninsular peddlers of the “unhealthy situation”.

China newsbrief and sitrep

Source

February 09, 2021

By Godfree Roberts – selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China

You can get it here:  https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe


Power of Siberia gas pipeline from Gazprom. com

Russia ramps up natural gas supplies to China via Power of Siberia mega-pipeline

“The export of gas to China through the Power of Siberia gas pipeline continues to grow. Supplies regularly exceed Gazprom’s daily contractual obligations,” the company said in a statement, adding that the volume of gas delivery last month “was 2.9 times higher than in January 2020.”


Next up, What the People say.

Says subscriber Frans Vandenbosch, “If I have to describe China in one word, then I would say ‘intense’. Western companies are sheltered workshops, they do not know what real competition is. They should benchmark China to know what real harsh competition looks like.”  Adds Josh Gardner, “Online retail in China is cut-throat. Comparing Taobao with Amazon is like comparing ballet to rugby.”

——————————-

This blog fairly reflects the stance of Chinese people on the long running trade war.  Although it contains some hubris, there is no question that the person in the street is convinced that China will be victorious.

China is establishing an invincible position in its trade war. It will switch many of its exports from the US to BRI countries and move the industries that produce goods for export to the US to the industrial parks in BRI countries to avoid US tariffs and reduce labor costs.

“In the long run, China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) will bring economic growth to developing countries and expand China’s market there. It will enable China to switch lots of its exports from the US to those countries. Moreover, BRI will enable China to move the industries that produce goods for export to the US to the industrial parks built by BRI in those countries to avoid US tariff hikes and reduce labor costs. China will thus establish its invincible position in its trade war with the US.”  Read more about the Plan for Long-term Victory


And where is Jack Ma? 

“Ant Group Co. is planning to turn itself into a financial holding company overseen by China’s central bank, responding to pressure to fall fully in line with financial regulations, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chinese regulators recently told Ant, which is controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, to become a financial holding company in its entirety, subjecting it to more stringent capital requirements, the people said. Ant, in response, has submitted to authorities an outline of a restructuring plan, they said.”

The video is worthwhile watching for background, even though it is from the Wall Street Journal.

Jack Ma made the unforgivable error of criticizing in public.  Rule one in China – don’t make the other guy lose face while there are methods to bring problems to the attention of the authorities.   In reality, he seemed to have been absolutely right, and Ant Group was immediately used as a case in point, where the financial regulators fixed their own errors.  This of course led to Ant Group having to disclose their real business as one of the biggest lenders in China, besides their vast technology footprint.  Given what happened in the US with behemoths such as Google and Twitter and large de-platforming, I do not blame the Chinese authorities one bit for having decided that no-one should have this much power.


Now that we’ve found Jack Ma who was busy restructuring his Ant Group, more on China’s credit market. 

China’s credit market got big fast because credit services fit traditional practices. Despite its reputation as a “nation of savers,” Chinese society has traditionally been heavily reliant on debt, facilitated through a long tradition of private and informal borrowing and lending. In this system, instead of concepts like “credit,” access to loans depended on renqing, “human sentiments.” Read full article $→


So, you want to join the CCP?  It is not that easy.

“Next year the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) turns 100. Since its founding in 1921, the CCP has grown from a small cabal of Marxist intellectuals into the world’s second-largest political party, behind only the Bharatiya Janata Party in India. One of the reasons for the CCP’s success has been its cultivation of human capital—any organization is only as good as its people.

Ahead of the Party’s centenary, understanding its longevity requires an understanding of its members. While the Party is frustratingly opaque about internal operations, its human resources division, known as the Organization Department, does publish annual data on membership. After the 2019 numbers were released in June 2020, MacroPolo scoured open source databases to compile the most complete public dataset on CCP membership.”    Read more …


Belt and Road

The Sinocentric bloc of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan could leave America’s ally India isolated and weak. The only three Muslim states with significant military capacity and economic potential participating in the $2 trillion BRI will promote Chinese influence from the Indian Ocean to the Black Sea.  Read full article $→

$10 billion for MENA (Middle-East & North Africa)’s Five BRI Projects): Egypt–Cairo’s New Administrative Capital & CBD; Turkey–The Hunutlu Thermal Power Plant; Jordan–Attarat Oil Shale Power Plant; UAE–Hassyan Clean Coal Power Plant; Lebanon–National Music Conservatory. MENA has 578 million people and 60% of world’s oil, 45% of its gas.Read full article $→


We end this week with some debunkery:

BUNK: Curbs on Mongolian Language Teaching Prompt Large Protests in China

DEBUNK: As a minority Chinese (Manchurian) with his mother side hailing from Hulun Buir, Inner Mongolia, I can say from my own experience that this is FAKE NEWS at its best. The truth is, in the Mongolian language primary education system, Mandarin has been taught and used since my mother can remember. The only change this time is to replace some locally created Mandarin language textbooks with national, official Mandarin language textbooks.

Yes, both of them are Mandarin textbooks. Yet New York Times and its FAKE journalists can’t wait to cook up new FAKE news completely distorting the truth. Shame on the New York Times and its FAKE news journalists! A bit of background for your information:

In Inner Mongolia, where half of my relatives are from, two primary education systems operate in parallel: one in Mandarin, one in Mongolian. Chinese Mongolians can opt for either one and most Chinese Mongolians so far opted for the one in Mandarin – the Mandarin system is of much better education quality due to better human recourse on teachers, and the kids won’t need another ‘prep-year’ before formal university when they attend a university program being taught in Mandarin. In contract, the ones who chose the Mongolian system, despite continuous government fundings to ensure it’s operational, still have to endure the less quality of education.

And this leads to life-long differences in career development and social mobility between two groups of students. There are law-required quota for these Mongolian-taught students in top Chinese universities, including THU and PKU. However, the truth is that these students often find their university coursework beyond their capability, and the fail rate is much higher than the Mongolian students taught in the Mandarin system.

So should the regulators allow those Mongolian-taught Chinese Mongolian students to rot and remain disadvantaged for life? Or should the regulators find ways to improve the education quality they receive? I know the US of A has chosen the former one for its Black, Latino, and Native American’ citizens’.

But this is the PEOPLE’S Republic of China. We agreed we shall advance together. Let’s never forget: Fabricating fake news to create hatred and conflicts between the native populations has always been a standard colonial conquest tactic and has been practiced by the western imperialists for centuries. Chang Wanyan

BUNK: British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has revoked China Global Television Network’s (CGTN) licence  because it is “controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and therefore disqualified from holding a broadcast licence under UK.” Ofcom criticized CGTN’s coverage of the Hong Kong protests as in “serious breach of fairness and privacy rules”. (Ofcom also banned Iran’s PressTV). Read full article →

All Posts

DEBUNK: CGTN says, “In early 2020, manipulated by extreme right-wing organizations and anti-China forces, Ofcom launched an investigation into CGTN’s broadcasting license in the UK. We provided detailed explanations to Ofcom in a proactive and cooperative manner, proposed transferring CGTN’s broadcasting license and sought a constructive solution. However, Ofcom disregarded CGTN’s reputation as a professional international media organization and its 18-year good record of broadcasting in the UK, and made a final ruling, based on the so-called political nature of CGTN and related Chinese media organizations, to refuse the transfer and to revoke CGTN’s broadcasting license.We believe that the continued broadcasting of CGTN’s television news service to a British audience is in the public interest of the UK. We comply with the laws and regulations of every country and provide news and information to an international audience with diverse and balanced perspectives, and will continue to promote understanding, communication, trust and cooperation”.  Read full article →


This represents but a fraction of what is included in the Here Comes China newsletter. If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

Burmese Days, Revisited

Image result for Burmese Days, Revisited
Independent geopolitical analyst, writer and journalist

Pepe Escobar

February 5, 2021

It will be fascinating to watch how the (Dis)United States will deal with post-coup Myanmar as part of their 24/7 “containment of China” frenzy.

The (jade) elephant in the elaborate room housing the military coup in Myanmar had to be – what else – China. And the Tatmadaw – the Myanmar Armed Forces – knows it better than anyone.

There’s no smoking gun, of course, but it’s virtually impossible that Beijing had not been at least informed, or “consulted”, by the Tatmadaw on the new dispensation.

China, Myanmar’s top trade partner, is guided by three crucial strategic imperatives in the relationship with its southern neighbor: trade/connectivity via a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) corridor; full access to energy and minerals; and the necessity of cultivating a key ally within the 10-member ASEAN.

The BRI corridor between Kunming, in China’s Yunnan province, via Mandalay, to the port of Kyaukphyu in the Gulf of Bengal is the jewel in the New Silk Road crown, because it combines China’s strategic access to the Indian Ocean, bypassing the Strait of Malacca, with secured energy flows via a combined oil and gas pipeline. This corridor clearly shows the centrality of Pipelineistan in the evolution of the New Silk Roads.

None of that will change, whoever runs the politico-economic show in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Aung San Suu Kyi, locally known as Amay Suu (“Mother Suu”) were discussing the China-Myanmar economic corridor only three weeks before the coup. Beijing and Naypyidaw have clinched no less than 33 economic deals only in 2020.

We just want “eternal peace”

Something quite extraordinary happened earlier this week in Bangkok. A cross-section of the vast Myanmar diaspora in Thailand – which had been ballooning since the 1990s – met in front of the UN’s Asia-Pacific office.

They were asking for the international reaction to the coup to ignore the inevitable, incoming U.S. sanctions. Their argument: sanctions paralyze the work of citizen entrepreneurs, while keeping in place a patronage system that favors the Tatmadaw and deepens the influence of Beijing at the highest levels.

Yet this is not all about China. The Tatmadaw coup is an eminently domestic affair – which involved resorting to the same old school, CIA-style method that installed them as a harsh military dictatorship way back in 1962.

Elections this past November reconfirmed Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the NLD, in power by 83% of the votes. The pro-army party, the USDP, cried foul, blaming massive electoral fraud and insisting on a recount, which was refused by Parliament.

So the Tatmadaw invoked article 147 of the constitution, which authorizes a military takeover in case of a confirmed threat to sovereignty and national solidarity, or capable of “disintegrating the Union”.

The 2008 constitution was drawn by – who else – the Tatmadaw. They control the crucial Interior, Defense and Border ministries, as well as 25% of the seats in Parliament, which allows them veto power on any constitutional changes.

The military takeover involves the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. A year long state of emergency is in effect. New elections will happen when order and “eternal peace” will be restored.

The man in charge is Army chief Min Aung Hlaing, quite flush after years overseeing juicy deals conducted by Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. (MEHL). He also oversaw the hardcore response to the 2007 Saffron revolution – which did express legitimate grievances but was also largely co-opted as a by-the-book U.S. color revolution.

More worryingly, Min Aung Hlaing also deployed wasteland tactics against the Karen and Rohingya ethnic groups. He notoriously described the Rohingya operation as “the unfinished work of the Bengali problem”. Muslims in Myanmar are routinely debased by members of the Bamar ethnic majority as “Bengali”.

No raised ASEAN eyebrows

Life for the overwhelming majority of the Myanmar diaspora in Thailand can be very harsh. Roughly half dwell in the construction business, the textile industry and tourism. The other half does not hold a valid work permit – and lives in perpetual fear.

To complicate matters, late last year the de facto military government in Thailand went on a culpability overdrive, blaming them for crossing borders without undertaking quarantine and thus causing a second wave of Covid-19.

Thai unions, correctly, pointed to the real culprits: smuggling networks protected by the Thai military, which bypass the extremely complicated process of legalizing migrant workers while shielding employers who infringe labor laws.

In parallel, part of the – legalized – Myanmar diaspora is being enticed to join the so-called MilkTeaAlliance – which congregates Thais, Taiwanese and Hong Kongers, and lately Laotians and Filipinos as well – against, who else, China, and to a lesser extent, the Thai military government.

ASEAN won’t raise eyebrows against the Tatmadaw. ASEAN’s official policy remains non-interference in the domestic affairs of its 10 members. Bangkok – where, incidentally, the military junta took power in 2014 – has shown Olympic detachment.

In 2021, Myanmar happens to be coordinating nothing less than the China-ASEAN dialogue mechanism, as well as presiding over the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation – which discusses all crucial Mekong matters.

The mighty river, from the Tibetan plateau to the South China Sea, could not be more geo-economically strategic. China is severely criticized for the building of dozens of dams, which reduce direct water flows and cause serious imbalances to regional economies.

Myanmar is also coordinating a supremely sensitive geopolitical issue: the interminable negotiations to establish the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which pit China against Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei and non-ASEAN Taiwan.

The Tatmadaw does not seem to be losing sleep over post-coup business problems. Erik Prince, former Blackwater honcho and now the head of Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group (FSG) – financed, among others, by powerful Chinese conglomerate Citic – is about to hit Naypyidaw to “securitize” local companies.

A juicier dossier involves what’s going to happen with the drug trade: arguably Tatmadaw getting a bigger piece of the pie. Cartels in Kachin state, in the north, export opium to China’s Yunnan province to the east, and India to the west. Shan state cartels are even more sophisticated: they export via Yunnan to Laos and Vietnam to the east, and also to India to the northwest.

And then there’s a gray area where no one really knows what’s going on: the weapons highway between China and India that runs through Kachin state – where we also find Lisu and Lahu ethnic groups.

The dizzying ethnic tapestry

The Myanmar electoral commission is a very tricky business, to say the least. They are designated by the Executive, and had to face a lot of criticism – internal, not international – for their censorship of opposition parties in the November elections.

The end result privileged the NLD, whose support is negligible in all border regions. Myanmar’s majority ethnic group – and the NLD’s electoral base – is the Bamar, Buddhist and concentrated in the central part of the country.

The NLD frankly does not care about the 135 ethnic minorities – which represent at least one third of the general population. It’s been a long way down since Suu Kyi came to power, when the NLD actually enjoyed a lot of support. Suu Kyi’s international high profile is essentially due to the power of the Clinton machine.

If you talk to a Mon or a Karen, he or she will tell you they had to learn the hard way how much of an intolerant autocrat is the real Suu Kyi. She promised there would be peace in the border regions – eternally mired in a fight between the Tatmadaw and autonomous movements. She could not possibly deliver because she had no power whatsoever over the military.

Without any consultation, the electoral commission decided to cancel voting, totally or partially, in 56 cantons of Arakan state, Shan state, Karen state, Mon state and Kachin state, all of them ethnic minorities. Nearly 1.5 million people were deprived of voting.

There were no elections, for instance, in the majority of Arakan state; the electoral commission invoked “security reasons”. The reality is the Tatmadaw is in a bitter fight against the Arakan Army, which want self-determination.

Needless to add, the Rohingyas – which live in Arakan – were not allowed to vote. Nearly 600,000 of them still barely survive in camps and closed villages in Arakan.

In the 1990s, I visited Shan state, which borders China’s strategic Yunnan province to the east. Nothing much changed over two decades: the guerrilla has to fight the Tatmadaw because they clearly see how the army and their business cronies are obsessed to capture the region’s lavish natural resources.

I traveled extensively in Myanmar in the second part of the 1990s – before being blacklisted by the military junta, like virtually every journalist and analyst working in Southeast Asia. Ten years ago, photojournalist Jason Florio, with whom I’ve been everywhere from Afghanistan to Cambodia, managed to be sneaked into Karen rebel territory, where he shot some outstanding pictures.

In Kachin state, rival parties in the 2015 elections this time tried to pool their efforts. But in the end they were badly bruised: the electoral mechanism – one round only – favored the winning party, Suu Kyi’s NLD.

Beijing does not interfere in the dizzyingly complex Myanmar ethnic maze. But questions remain over the murky support for Chinese who live in Kachin state in northern Myanmar: it’s possible they may be used as leverage in negotiations with the Tatmadaw.

The basic fact is the guerrillas won’t go away. The top two are the Kachin Independence Army and the United Wa State Army (Shan). But then there’s the Arakan Liberation Army, the China National Army, the Karenni Army (Kayah), the Karen National Defense Organization and the Karen National Liberation, and the Mon National Liberation Army.

What this weaponized tapestry boils down to, in the long run, is a tremendously (Dis)United Myanmar, bolstering the Tatmadaw’s claim that no other mechanism is capable of guaranteeing unity. It doesn’t hurt that “unity” comes with the extra perks of controlling crucial sectors such as minerals, finance and telecom.

It will be fascinating to watch how the (Dis)United Imperial States will deal with post-coup Myanmar as part of their 24/7 “containment of China” frenzy. The Tatmadaw are not exactly trembling in their boots.

Xi and Putin make the case for win-win vs. zero-sum

Xi and Putin make the case for win-win vs. zero-sum

February 02, 2021

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

So the Davos Agenda has come and gone.

That was the virtual Great Reset preview, hosted by Kissinger acolyte cum World Economic Forum (WEF) oracle Herr Klaus Schwab.

Still, corporate/political so-called “leaders” will continue to wax lyrical about the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or its mild spin-offs such as Build Back Better, the favorite slogan of the new White House tenants.

The WEF co-sponsors – from the UN and the IMF to BlackRock, Blackstone and the Carlyle Group – will continue to expand their synchronicity with Lynn Forester de Rothschild and her corporate-heavy Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican – pop Pope Francis at the helm.

And yes, they accept Visa.

Predictably, the two really crucial events at Davos received minimal or non-existent coverage across the wobbly West: the speeches by President Xi and President Putin.

We have already highlighted Xi’s essentials. Aside from arguing a powerful case for multilateralism as the only possible road map to deal with global challenges, Xi stressed nothing substantial may be achieved if the inequality gap between North and South is not reduced.

The best in-depth analysis of Putin’s extraordinary speech , hands down, was provided by Rostislav Ishchenko, whom I had the pleasure to meet in Moscow in 2018.

Ishchenko stresses how, “in terms of scale and impact on historical processes, this is steeper than the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk combined.” The speech, he adds, was totally unexpected, as much as Putin’s stunning intervention at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, “the crushing defeat” imposed on Georgia in 2008, and the return of Crimea in 2014.

Ishchenko also reveals something that will never be acknowledged in the West: “80 people from among the most influential on the planet did not laugh in Putin’s face, as it was in 2007 in Munich, and without noise immediately after his open speech signed up for a closed conference with him.”

Putin’s very important reference to the ominous 1930s – “the inability and unwillingness to find substantive solutions to problems like this in the 20th century led to World War 2 catastrophe” – was juxtaposed with a common sense warning: the necessity of preventing the takeover of global policy by Big Tech , which “are de facto competing with states”.

Xi and Putin’s speeches were de facto complementary – emphasizing sustainable, win-win economic development for all actors, especially across the Global South, coupled with the necessity of a new socio-political contract in international relations.

This drive should be based on two pillars: sovereignty – that is, the good old Westphalian model (and not Great Reset, hyper-concentrated, one world “governance”) and sustainable development propelled by techno-scientific progress (and not techno-feudalism).

So what Putin-Xi proposed, in fact, was a concerted effort to expand the basic foundations of the Russia-China strategic partnership to the whole Global South: the crucial choice ahead is between win-win and the Exceptionalist zero-sum game.

Regime-change that commie!

The Xi-Putin road map is already being examined in excruciating detail by Michael Hudson, for instance in this essay based on the first chapter of his upcoming book Cold War 2.0: The Geopolitical Economics of Finance Capitalism vs. Industrial Capitalism. Many of these themes have been elaborated in a recent conversation/interview between Michael and myself.

The whole Global South is figuring out how the contrast could not be starker between the American model – neoliberalism redux, in the form of turbo-financialization – and East Asia’s productive investment in industrial capitalism.

Alastair Crooke has outlined the dubious “appeal” of the American model, including “asset markets…severed from any connection to economic returns”; markets that “are not free, but Treasury managed”; and “enterprise capitalism…morphed into monopolistic oligarchism”.

The glaring counterpoint to Xi-Putin at Davos has been a so-called “strategy paper” released by NATO think tank The Atlantic Council, pompously titled The Longer Telegram, as if this was as relevant as George Kennan’s 1946 Long Telegram that designed the containment of the USSR.

Well, the least one can say to the anonymous “former senior government official with deep expertise” on China is, “Mr. Anonymous, You’re No George Kennan”. At best, we’re dealing with a sub-Mike Pompeo with a massive hangover.

Amidst a tsunami of platitudes, we learn that China is a “revisionist power” that “presents a serious problem for the whole of the democratic world”; and that the Chinese leadership better get its act together and operate “within the US-led liberal international order rather than building a rival order”.

The usual toxic mix of arrogance and condescension totally gives away the game, which boils down to “deterring and preventing China from crossing US red lines”, and applying good, old Kissingerian Divide and Rule between Russia and China.

Oh, and don’t forget regime change: if the “strategy” works, “Xi will in time be replaced by the more traditional form of Communist Party leadership.”

If this is what passes for intellectual firepower in Atlanticist circles, Beijing and Moscow don’t even need enemies.

The Asian center of gravity

Martin Jacques, now a visiting professor at Tsinghua University and a senior fellow at the China Institute of Fudan University, is one of the very few Westerners who actually has real “expertise” on China.

He’s now focusing on the main battlefield in the evolving US-China clash: Europe. Jacques notes that, “the trend toward a growing distance between Europe and the US will be slow, tortuous, conflict-riddled, and painful.” We are now “in new territory. American decline means that it has increasingly less to offer Europe.”

As an example, let’s jump cut to a distinct feature of the BRI/New Silk Roads and one of its key hubs, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): the Digital Silk Road .

In partnership with Huawei, fiber optic cable is being laid out all across Pakistan – as I saw for myself when I traveled the Karakoram Highway, the northern part of CPEC. This fiber optic cable all the way from the Karakoram to Balochistan will link with the Pakistan-East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) submarine cable in the Arabian Sea.

The end result will be high-end connectivity between a host of BRI-participating nations and Europe – as the Mediterranean section is already being laid, running from Egypt to France. Before the end of 2021, the whole 15,000 km-long fiber optic cable will be online.

This shows that BRI is not as much about building roads, dams and high-speed rail networks but especially the Digital Silk Road, intimately connected with state of the art Chinese cyber-tech.

It’s no wonder Jacques fully understands how “the gravitational pull of China, and Asia more generally, is drawing Europe eastward. Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.”

In ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age, an extraordinary book published way back in 1998, the late, great Andre Gunder Frank exhaustively smashed Eurocentrism, demonstrating how the rise of the West was a mere historical blip, and a consequence of the decline of the East around 1800.

Now, only two centuries later, the planet’s center of gravity is back in Asia, as it’s been for most of recorded history. The fate of those blind to the evidence and unable to adapt is to telegram themselves to utter irrelevance.

Trump’s not-so-secret art of containing China

Trump’s not-so-secret art of containing China

January 16, 2021

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times.

It was hardly a secret throughout the Trump administration. Now, dying embers within sight, and with minimum fanfare, comes the declassification – virtually the whole document, minus a few redactions – of the US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific.

Why now, no less than 30 years before the usual, standard US declassification/public record protocols apply? Don’t expect an answer from Trump or from his National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.

O’Brien’s premise, presenting the declassification, is that, “Beijing is increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a ‘common destiny’ envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party.”

This is nonsense in multiple levels. The best Mandarin-English translation for China’s overarching strategy is “community with a shared future for humanity” – a Confucius/Marx crossover based on trade/connectivity and sustainable development.

No nation is pressured to surrender their “freedom and sovereignty” to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It’s a voluntary decision – otherwise over 130 nations would not go for it, including many in Europe. The strategy is not ideological; it’s based on trade. Moreover, China is already the top trade partner for the overwhelming majority of these nations.

Is Beijing trembling?

Since 2018 we were all familiar with the basic contours of the Trump administration’s “overarching strategic guidance” for the Indo-Pacific.

These are the Top 5 items – with no euphemistic softening:

– to maintain that sacrosanct US “primacy”, code for uncontested military power;

– promote the Quad (US, Japan, India, Australia);

– fully support the (failed) Hong Kong color revolution;

– demonize everything connected to BRI;

– and invest in “the rise of India”.

On the military front, things get way trickier: the imperative is to prevent Beijing, by all means necessary, from “dominating the first island chain” – that is, the island ring from the Japanese archipelago to Taiwan all the way to the northern Philippines and Borneo. Moreover, “primacy” should also be maintained in the “area beyond”.

So once again this is all about naval containment.

Chinese strategists obviously studied their Mahan and Spykman thoroughly – and understood that the US Navy would ultimately play their trump card as a naval embargo.

Thus the Chinese Heartland strategy to contain the US’s Rimland strategy: pipelines from Russia and Central Asia (energy supply chain) and BRI (trade). A neat combination of “escape from Malacca” (in terms of oil and gas supplies) and overland connectivity.

A graphic example is the importance of the southern sector of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In the long run, that offers Beijing, via Gwadar port, prime access to the Indian Ocean, bypassing Malacca. That can even be enhanced by upcoming Chinese investment in neighboring Chabahar port in Iran, in the Gulf Of Oman.

In contrast, US strategists advising the Trump administration, apart from not improving on Mahan and Spykman, completely ignored China’s economic pull all across Eurasia. They ignored the fact that scores of nations from Central to South and Southeast Asia (the ASEAN 10) would not sacrifice their trade/investment relations to the benefit of a Made in the Beltway “vision”.

The recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal all but buried the Indo-Pacific strategy.

As much as they are not reality-based, the core lineaments of the Indo-Pacific strategy are not bound to change much under Biden-Harris. They will be tweaked – in a “back to the future” manner. The Biden-Harris point man for China is bound to be none other than Kurt Campbell, the man who invented the “pivot to Asia” concept that was then embraced by Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State and Obama as President. Campbell now argues that emphasis on the sacrosanct “primacy” may be somewhat alleviated.

Is Beijing trembling? Hardly.

The 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party falls next July 23. Exactly one day before the declassification of Indo-Pacific, President Xi Jinping outlined his – and the CCP’s – vision for no less than the next three decades, culminating in the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2049.

So here’s Xi Top Three – in a nutshell.

– Keep calm and carry on, despite the ravaging effects of Covid-19, unrelenting Western – especially American – hostility, and the trials and tribulations of the crumbling US Empire.

– Focus on domestic development, in all areas.

– Focus on China’s priorities; then whatever happens the world outside will not be able to interfere. China’s priorities include solidifying its own “primacy” in the South China Sea while diversifying trade/development strategic options all along BRI.

It will certainly help that China’s GDP is bound to grow by almost 8% in 2021 – as estimated by IMF/World Bank. Astonishingly, if that’s the case GDP by the end of this year will reach the same level that pre-Covid Western forecasters were predicting by the end of 2019: 5% growth each year for the next two years. China may have grown roughly 2% in 2020, booming foreign trade included.

Goldman Sachs is branding the current economic environment “the Chinese phenomenon”. China remains the high-speed rail locomotive of global capitalism. It’s easy to notice which way scores of nations see the wind blowing when they compare it with what’s just been declassified.

Unipolar vs Multipolar: The Death of McKinley and the Loss of America’s Soul

Unipolar vs Multipolar: The Death of McKinley and the Loss of America’s Soul

December 23, 2020

By Matthew Ehret for the Saker Blog

On December 17, 2020 A new US Maritime strategy was unveiled putting into practice the regressive concepts first outlined in the early National Defense Strategy 2020 doctrine which target China and Russia as the primary enemies of the USA and demanding that the USA be capable to “defeat our adversaries while we accelerate development of a modernized integrated all-domain naval force of the future”.

The Pentagon’s Advantages at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power continued by saying “China’s and Russia’s revisionist approaches in the maritime environment threaten US interests, undermine alliances and partnerships and degrade the free and open international order… moreover, China’s and Russia’s aggressive naval growth and modernization are eroding US institutional advantages.”

The document continued to describe that “we must operate more assertively to prevail in day-to-day competition as we uphold the rules-based order and deter our competitors from pursuing armed aggression… ready, forward-deployed naval forces will adopt a more assertive posture in day to day operations”

For anyone who has been paying attention to the vast growth of the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum containment policy around China’s perimeter begun with Obama’s Asia Pivot, it may appear as though these words are not new, but just a continuation of American unipolar agenda, Pacific war games, and psychological projection onto perceived enemies, that have been underway for years. While this is certainly true, it must be noted that they are occurring at a time that NATO 2030 has enshrined an anti-China military posture into the Trans Atlantic security doctrine which had formerly channeled most of its hate purely onto Russia.

The fact is those unipolar zombies programmed to think in no other terms but global post-nation state dominance are deathly afraid of the Russia-China bond of survival which has created a uniquely viable foundation for an alternative economic/security architecture for the world. This model is based on a system of finance that defines money not in speculative but rather long-term development of the real economic foundations of life. It also features a strong emphasis on win-win cooperation as opposed to Hobbesian zero-sum logic dominant among western powers, and it also finds itself driven by OPEN system economic practices shaped by unbounded scientific and technological progress that once upon a time guided America’s better traditions.

With the obvious threat of nuclear war breaking out between a collapsing unipolar order in the west and an emergent Multipolar alliance, it is important to review what possible latent policy traditions may yet be revived within America’s history which certain forces have worked very hard to scrub out of the historical record and memory. This study will take us to the incredible fights that arose over America’s identity at the turn of the 20th century during the period of President William McKinley and the treasonous anglophile President of vice, Theodore Roosevelt.

Munroe Doctrine or Empire?

As Martin Sieff eloquently laid out in his recent article, President McKinley himself was an peacemaker, anti-imperialist of a higher order than most people realize. McKinley was also a strong supporter of two complementary policies: 1) Internally, he was a defender of Lincoln’s “American system” of protectionism, internal improvements and black suffrage and 2) Externally, he was a defender of the Munroe Doctrine that defined America’s anti-imperial foreign policy since 1823.

The Munroe Doctrine’s architect John Quincy Adams laid out this principle eloquently on July 4, 1821:

“After fifty years the United States has, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations, while asserting and maintaining her own.

That the United States does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

That by involving itself in the internal affairs of other nations, the United States would destroy its own reason of existence; the fundamental maxims of her policy would become, then, no different than the empire America’s revolution defeated. It would be, then, no longer the ruler of itself, but the dictator of the world.”

America’s march is the march of mind, not of conquest.

Colonial establishments are engines of wrong, and that in the progress of social improvement it will be the duty of the human family to abolish them”.

It was an aging John Quincy Adams whom a young Abraham Lincoln collaborated with in ending the imperial Mexican-American war under Wall Street stooge James Polk in 1846. When Adams died in 1848, Lincoln picked up the torch he left behind as the London-directed “proto deep state” of the 19th century worked to dissolve the republic from within. The foreign policy conception laid out by Adams ensured that America’s only concern was “staying out of foreign imperial entanglements” as Washington had earlier warned and keeping foreign imperial interests out of the Americas. The idea of projecting power onto the weak or subduing other cultures was anathema to this genuinely American principle.

A major battle which has been intentionally obscured from history books took place in the wake of Lincoln’s murder and the re-ascension of the City of London-backed slave power during the decades after the Union victory of 1865. On the one hand America’s role in the emerging global family of nations was being shaped by followers of Lincoln who wished to usher in an age of win-win cooperation. Such an anti-Darwinian system which Adams called “a community of principle” asserted that each nation had the right to sovereign banking controls over private finance, productive credit emissions tied to internal improvements with a focus on continental (rail/road) development, industrial progress and full spectrum economies. Adherents of this program included Russia’s Sergei Witte and Alexander II, Germany’s Otto von Bismarck, France’s Sadi Carnot, and leading figures within Japan’s Meiji Restoration.https://www.youtube.com/embed/gYeVDjFKpOU?feature=oembed

On the other hand, “eastern establishment families” of the USA more loyal to the gods of money, hereditary institutions and the vast international empire of Britain saw America’s destiny tied to an imperial global partnership with the Mother country. These two opposing paradigms within America have defined two opposing views of “progress”, “value”, “self-interest” and “law” which have continued to shape the world over 150 years later.

William Gilpin vs Alfred Mahan: Two Paradigms Clash

A champion of the former traditionally American outlook who rose to the international scene was William Gilpin (1813-1894). Gilpin hailed from a patriotic family of nation builders whose patriarch Thomas Gilpin was a close ally of Benjamin Franklin and leading member of Franklin’s Philosophical Society. William Gilpin was famous for his advocacy of America’s trans continental railway whose construction he proselytized as early as 1845 (it was finally begun by Lincoln during the Civil War and completed in 1869 as I outlined in my previous paper How to Save a Dying Republic).

In his thousands of speeches and writings, Gilpin made it known that he understood America’s destiny to be inextricably tied to the ancient civilization of China- not to impose opium as the British and their American lackies were want to do, but to learn from and even emulate!

In 1852, Gilpin stated:

“Salvation must come to America from China, and this consists in the introduction of the “Chinese constitution” viz. the “patriarchal democracy of the Celestial Empire”. The political life of the United States is through European influences, in a state of complete demoralization, and the Chinese Constitution alone contains elements of regeneration. For this reason, a railroad to the Pacific is of such vast importance, since by its means the Chinese trade will be conducted straight across the North American continent. This trade must bring in its train Chinese civilization. All that is usually alleged against China is mere calumny spread purposefully, just like those calumnies which are circulated in Europe about the United States”.

With Lincoln’s 1861 presidential victory, Gilpin became Lincoln’s bodyguard and ensured the president survived his first assassination attempt en route to Washington from Illinois. During the Civil War, Gilpin was made Colorado’s first Governor where he successfully stopped the southern power from opening up a western front during the war of secession (applying Lincoln’s greenback system to finance his army on a state level) and winning the “Battle of Glorieta Pass”, thus saving the union.

After the war Gilpin became a leading advocate of the internationalization of the “American system of political economy” which Lincoln applied vigorously during his short-lived presidency. Citing the success of Lincoln’s system, Gilpin said: “No amount of argument will make America adopt old world theories… To rely upon herself, to develop her own resources, to manufacture everything that can possibly be manufactured within her territory- this is and has been the policy of the USA from the time of Alexander Hamilton to that of Henry Clay and thence to our own days”.

Throughout his speeches Gilpin emphasizes the role of a U.S.-Russia alliance: “It is a simple and plain proposition that Russia and the United States, each having broad, uninhabited areas and limitless undeveloped resources, would by the expenditure of 2 or 3 hundred millions apiece for a highway of the nations threw their now waste places, add a hundredfold to their wealth and power and influence”

And seeing in China’s potential the means to re-enliven the world- including the decadent and corrupt culture of Europe: “In Asia a civilization resting on a basis of remote antiquity has had, indeed, a long pause, but a certain civilization- although hitherto hermetically sealed up has continued to exist. The ancient Asiatic colossus, in a certain sense, needed only to be awakened to new life and European culture finds a basis there on which it can build future reforms.”

In opposition to the outdated British controls of “chock points” on the seas which kept the world under the clutches of the might of London, Gilpin advocated loudly for a system of internal improvements, rail development, and growth of the innate goodness of all cultures and people through scientific and technological progress. Once a global system of mutual development of rail were established, Gilpin stated “in the shipment of many kinds of raw and manufactured goods, it will largely supersede the ocean traffic of Great Britain, in whose hands is now carrying the trade of the world.”

Gilpin’s vision was most clearly laid out in his 1890 magnum opus “The Cosmopolitan Railway” which featured designs for development corridors across all continents united by a “community of principle”.

Echoing the win-win philosophy of Xi Jinping’s New Silk Road today, Gilpin stated:

“The cosmopolitan railway will make the whole world one community. It will reduce the separate nations to families of our great nation… From extended intercommunication will arise a wider intercourse of human ideas and as the result, logical and philosophical reciprocities, which will become the germs for innumerable new developments; for in the track of intercommunication, enterprise and invention invariably follow and whatever facilitates one stimulates every other agency of progress.”

Mahan Derails America’s Anti-Imperial Identity

Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914) represented an opposing paradigm which true American statesmen like Lincoln, Secretary of State James Blaine, William Seward, President Grant, William Garfield, and McKinley detested. Sadly, with McKinley’s murder (run by an anarchist ring with ties to British Intelligence) and the rise of Teddy Roosevelt in 1901, it was not Gilpin’s but rather Mahan’s worldview which became the dominant foreign policy doctrine for the next 120 years (despite a few brief respites under FDR and JFK).

Mahan is commonly credited for being a co-founder of modern geopolitics and an inspiration for Halford Mackinder. Having graduated from West Point’s naval academy in 1859, Mahan soon became renowned as a total failure in actual combat having crashed warships repeatedly into moving and stationary objects during the Civil War. Since reality was not his forte, Mahan focused his post-war career on Ivory tower theorizing gushing over maps of the world and fawning over Britain’s power as a force of world history.

His “Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783 published in the same year that Gilpin published his Cosmopolitan Railway (1890) was a total break from the spirit of win-win cooperation that defined America’s foreign policy. According to the Diplomat, this book soon “became the bible for many navies around the world” with the Kaiser of Germany (now released from the influence of the great rail-loving statesman Otto von Bismarck whom he fired in 1890) demanding all of his offers read. Later Teddy Roosevelt ordered copies for every member of Congress. In Mahan’s book, the geopolitician continuously asserts his belief that it is America’s destiny to succeed the British Empire.

Taking the British imperial definition of “commerce” which uses free trade as a cover for the military dominance of weak nations (open borders and turning off protectionism simply makes a people easier to rob), Mahan attempts to argue that America need not continue to adhere to “outdated” habits like the Munroe doctrine since the new order of world empires demands America stay relevant in a world of sea power and empire. Mahan writes: “The advance of Russia in Asia, in the division of Africa, in the colonial ambitions of France and in the British idea of Imperial Federation, now fast assuming concrete shape in practical combined action in South Africa” demands that the USA act accordingly.

Attempting to refute the “outdated habits” of rail development which consume so many foolish statesmen around the globe, Mahan states: “a railway competes in vain with a river… because more facile and copious, water traffic is for equal distances much cheaper and because cheaper, more useful”. Like those attacking today’s Belt and Road Initiative, the power of railways is that their returns are not measurable by simple monetary terms, but are rather QUALITATIVE. The long-term construction of rail systems not only unite divided people, increase manufacturing and industrial corridors but also induce closer powers of association and interchange between agriculture and urban producers. These processes uplift national productive powers building full spectrum economies and also a culture’s capacity for creative thought.

The attempt made to justify sea traffic merely because “larger amounts of goods can be shipped” is purely quantitative and monetaristic sophistry devoid of any science of real value.

While Gilpin celebrates the successful awakening of China and other great nations of the world, in the Problem of Asia (1901) Mahan says: “It is scarcely desirable that so vast a proportion of mankind as the Chinese constitute should be animated by but one spirit”. Should China “burst her barriers eastward, it would be impossible to exaggerate the momentous issues dependant upon a firm hold of the Hawaiian islands by a great civilized maritime power.”

Mahan’s adherence to social Darwinism is present throughout his works as he defines the political differences of the 3 primary branches of humanity (Teutonic, Slavic and Asiatic) as purely rooted in the intrinsic inferiority or superiority of their race saying: “There are well recognized racial divergencies which find concrete expression in differences equally marked of political institution, of social progress and of individual development. These differences are… deep seated in the racial constitution and partly the result of the environment”. Mahan goes onto restate his belief that unlike the superior Teutonics “the Oriental, whether national or individual does not change” and “the East does not progress”.

Calling China a carcass to be devoured by an American eagle, Mahan writes: “If life departs, a carcass can be utilized only by dissection or for food; the gathering to it of the eagles is a natural law, of which it is bootless to complain… the onward movement of the world has to be accepted as a fact.”

Championing an Anglo American alliance needed to subdue and “civilize” China as part of the post-Boxer Rebellion, Mahan says “of all the nations we shall meet in the East, Great Britain is the one with which we have by far the most in common in the nature of our interests there and in our standards of law and justice”.

In case there was any doubt in the minds of Mahan’s readers as to the MEANS which America should assert its dominance onto China, Mahan makes clear his belief that progress is caused by 1) force and 2) war: “That such a process should be underlain by force… on the part of outside influences, force of opposition among the latter themselves [speaking of the colonial European monarchies racing to carve up China in 1901 -ed] may be regrettable, but it is only a repetition of all history… Every step forward in the march that has opened in China to trade has been gained by pressure; the most important have been the result of actual war.”

A Last Anti-Imperial Push

The chaos induced by the anti-foreigner Boxer Rebellion of 1899 which spread quickly across China resulted a heated battle between imperial and anti-imperial forces in both Russia and the USA. Where Transport Minister Sergei Witte who spearheaded the development of the Trans Siberian rail line (1890-1905) tried to avoid military entanglement, McKinley was busy doing the same.

The boxers soon attacked the Manchurian rail connecting Russia to China by land and Witte succumbed to pressure to finally send in troops. The reformers of China who attempted to modernize with American and Russian assistance under Emperor Kuang Hsu and Li Hung Chang fell from power as total anarchy reigned. The outcome of the Boxer chaos involved the imperial powers of France, Germany and England demanding immense financial reparations, ownership of Chinese territory and mass executions of the Boxers.

While McKinley is often blamed for America’s imperial turn, the reality is just the opposite.

The Spanish-American war begun in 1898 was actually launched unilaterally by Anglophilic racist Theodore Roosevelt who used the 4 hour window he had while Undersecretary of the Navy (while the actual Secretary was out of Washington) to send orders to Captain Dewey of the Pacific fleet to engage in a fight with the Spanish over their Philippine territories. McKinley had resisted the war hawks until that point but found himself finally bending to the momentum. In China, McKinley, like Witte worked desperately to reject taking territory resulting in great fears from the British oligarchy that a U.S.-Russia alliance led by McKinley and Witte was immanent.

The assassination of McKinley on September 18, 1901 catapulted Mahan-loving Vice President Teddy Roosevelt into high office, who enmeshed America into a new epoch of Anglo-American imperialism abroad, a growth of eugenics and segregation at home and the creation of an independent police state agency called the FBI.

As Sieff writes“Roosevelt devoted his next eight years in the presidency and the rest of his life to integrating the United States and the British Empire into a seamless web of racial imperialist oppression that dominated Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and that destroyed the cultural history and heritage of the Native North American nations.”

In Russia, the 1902 Anglo-Japan Treaty led to the disastrous Japan-Russo war of 1905 which devastated the Russian navy, ended the political career of Sergei Witte and threw Russia into chaos leading to the fall of the Romanovs (Czar Nicholas II was the last statesman occupying high office that this author is aware of to have actively promoted the Bering Strait Tunnel rail connection in 1906. It wasn’t until FDR’s Vice President Henry Wallace met with Foreign Minister Molotov in 1942 that the idea resurfaced once more).

In his Two Peoples One Friendship, Wallace described his discussions with Foreign Minister Molotov in 1942 saying:

“Of all nations, Russia has the most powerful combination of a rapidly increasing population, great natural resources and immediate expansion in technological skills. Siberia and China will furnish the greatest frontier of tomorrow… When Molotov [Russia’s Foreign Minister] was in Washington in the spring of 1942 I spoke to him about the combined highway and airway which I hope someday will link Chicago and Moscow via Canada, Alaska and Siberia. Molotov, after observing that no one nation could do this job by itself, said that he and I would live to see the day of its accomplishment. It would mean much to the peace of the future if there could be some tangible link of this sort between the pioneer spirit of our own West and the frontier spirit of the Russian East.”

While the “open door” rape of the China was attempted by the Anglo-Americans, a fortunate rear guard maneuver orchestrated by another follower of Abraham Lincoln named Sun Yat-sen resulted in a surprise overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in 1911 and the institution of the Republic of China with Sun Yat-sen as the acting President. While Sun Yat-sen sided with Gilpin and Lincoln in opposition to the Mahanists on the issue of rail and industrial development (illustrated in his extraordinary 1920 International Development of China program which called for 160 000 km of rail, water diversion projects, ports and 1.5 million km of paved roads- illustrated below), the intrigues that sank the world into World War I made any hopes of this early development of China impossible in Sun Yat-sen’s lifetime.

Expressing his own deep understanding of these top down tactics of world history (and the recognition that the same British imperial forces that orchestrated the US Civil War were planning to do the same to China), Sun Yat-sen wrote in 1912:

“We understand too well that there are certain men of power—not to include for the present, certain nations—who would view with a greater or lesser satisfaction an internal rupture in the new Republic [of China]. They would welcome, as a move toward the accomplishment of their own ends and designs, a civil war between the provinces of the North and the South; just as, 50 years ago, there was applause in secret (in certain quarters) over the terrible civil strife in the United States.

Americans of today who were alive in those dark days of the great republic will remember the feelings in the hearts of the people—the bitter and painful thoughts that arose from the knowledge that foreigners were hoping and praying for the destruction of the American Union.

Had the war been successful from the South’s standpoint, and had two separate republics been established, is it not likely that perhaps half a dozen or more weak nations would have eventually been established? I believe that such would have been the result; and I further believe that with the one great nation divided politically and commercially, outsiders would have stepped in sooner or later and made of America their own. I do not believe that I am stating this too forcibly. If so, I have not read history nor studied men and nations intelligently.

And I feel that we have such enemies abroad as the American republic had; and that at certain capitals the most welcome announcement that would be made would be that of a rebellion in China against the constituted authorities.

This is a hard statement to make; but I believe in speaking the truth so that all the world may know and recognize it.”

Today’s Belt and Road Initiative, and strategic friendship established between Russia and China has re-awoken the forgotten vision of William Gilpin for a world of cooperating sovereign nation states. Does the USA have the moral ability to avoid disintegration by accepting a Russia-U.S.-China alliance needed to revive McKinley’s American System or will we slip into a new Great Reset and World War?

Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow, BRI Expert on Tactical talk, and has authored 3 volumes of ‘Untold History of Canada’ book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide FoundationHe can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

Behold the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

Behold the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

December 21, 2020

An astrological reading for Planet Earth at a time of Great Mutation

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The Grand Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is upon us and there is no looking back. Image: Twitter

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. – Oscar Wilde

Today all radio stations on Planet Earth should be playing this song. What the aptly named Fifth Dimension immortalized in their spring of 1969 psychedelic soul classic is now literally true: This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius – the Grand Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21st at 𝟬° in Aquarius.

Aquarius starts just as some dodgy, self-important elites gear up to impose a Great Reset on most of the planet – following a very specific, reductionist and exclusionist political agenda. Yet the real deal is not the Reset; it’s the Mutation.

So we’re all into something much bigger than any neo-Orwellian scenario. To shed much needed light into what seems our current, interminable darkness, I posed selected questions to Vanessa Guazzelli, a respected astrologer, writer and speaker in astrology conferences worldwide, as well as a practicing psychoanalyst and psychologist.

Let astrology fertilize geopolitics. Let the sunshine in.

PE: Arguably not many people around the world are aware that a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction this December 21st seems to represent the ultimate game-changer – defined by serious astrology scholars as the Great Mutation.

Could you please elaborate on what this Mutation really means, astrologically, as it seems to take place every 200 years? And bringing it back to everyday life and politics, are we permitted to infer geopolitical parallels from what the stars are telling us?

VG: By Great Mutation we refer to when the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions change elements, which happens every 200 years as you mentioned. Jupiter and Saturn are in conjunction, astrologically, by ecliptic longitude, every 20 years, not that long a period. However, they keep on intersecting in signs of the same element for 200 years, with the possibility of another 40 years of transition, indicating a greater cycle.

Jupiter and Saturn are what we call social planets and are to be considered in regards to politics and geopolitics. When the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction starts to effectively happen in the next element, it marks the Great Mutation, denoting important socioeconomic and cultural changes. That’s what is happening now.

We come from a two-century period of conjunctions in Earth signs. The emphasis has been on matter and the more tangible dimension of life – material boys and girls in a material world. As we now move on into the element of air, as they conjoin at 0º of Aquarius, a call for sublimation takes place.

All that is solid mutates into air. Things and procedures can be less material and more digital and, to some extent, virtual. But not only that. Shared ideas and ideals gain yet more importance. More then what we materially have, with whom and what for is what matters most. Collaboration and cooperation are, now more than ever, the winds which make the world go around.

This is indeed a highly significant astrological aspect and configuration happening on December 21, at 18h20 UTC. In parts of Asia and Oceania, it will be already past midnight, on December 22.

This is not only the Great Mutation but a Great Conjunction, when the two farthest visible planets conjoin not merely by longitude but also by latitude (ecliptic coordinates), by both right ascension and declination (equatorial coordinates). That means they are not just aligned in the same direction but really, really close to each other in the sky as seen from Earth, almost as if they were one and the same star.

Last time the two heavenly bodies have been that close was in 1623, but that was not a Great Mutation, just a regular conjunction in terms of ecliptic longitude. Astrologically, the fact that all these enhancements happen together at this time intensifies the significance of what this conjunction now indicates, how powerful a mutation it marks.

In everyday life, it also speaks of an increase in technological development, digitalization of things and procedures, including crypto-currencies and digital money as a sort of “sublimed” money, from matter to a lighter, less material “substance” which can quickly circulate through air.

At a more personal level, we tend to lose interest in social contexts which are not in tune with our ideas and ideals, and we’re pulled towards groups, associations and projects in the same wavelength as we are. It is not a time to merely rely on institutions to take care of people, but a time to discern for oneself and then connect with others with shared interests, ideals, purposes.

The air element is where we open space and make room for the Other, be it in respect for differences or to collaborate and cooperate towards shared interests and projects. Co-op’s, where every participant gets a fair, proportional share, in a joint enterprise, is surely a way to go.

Aquarius is opposite to the centralizing sign of Leo. Geopolitically, that is to say, it is not the time for a hegemonic single star to rule the world, but a time of many stars illuminating the entire sky. It is not a time for a single empire. There can be empires, if in plural. The strength of powerful nations now lies, more than ever, in the quality of their partnerships and alliances in mutual respect, as equals.

Any power which loses sight of that crucial key will see it, in the short or long run, backfire. Some are more powerful than others and some will be more prominent than others. Nonetheless, they are not alone. It is time for a multipolar world – now that is the Mandate of Heaven.

Regarding the Great Mutation’s astro-cartographic map, which shows the lines of planetary positions on the face of the Earth, it is interesting to notice that the IC lines of Jupiter and Saturn go through Beijing, indicating the relevance of China in the foundation of this 200-year cycle, for the IC is the root of an astrological chart.

On the other side of the globe, we see the MC lines of the two planets going through South America (Venezuela, Brazilian Amazon, Bolivia, Argentina), showing the value of the continent’s resources in this new cycle.

What the Davos crew is up to

PE: Our current, turbulent juncture seems to be pointing towards increased bio-security and what some serious systemic analysis defines as techno-feudalism. All this implies hyper-concentration of power – and not only power exercised by the geopolitical hegemon, the United States. Should we now expect a serious mutation of the world-system – as studied by Immanuel Wallerstein, in the sense of serious changes to our capitalist system?

Immanuel Wallerstein. Source: Wikimedia Commons

VG: Yes, we should. We are at the very turning point of the world-system. Along with the Great Mutation, another immensely significant aspect in the 2020s is the Saturn-Neptune conjunction, in February 2026, at 0º of Aries. This is precisely the first degree of the whole Zodiac, also called the Vernal Point – crucial in astrological interpretation.

Saturn and Neptune conjoin every 36 years, which is a relatively short historical cycle. However, as with the Great Mutation, the way it occurs and where in occurs in the Zodiac can lead us to broader historical perspectives and indicate more expressive historical moments.

If we go back up to 7,000 years ago, this conjunction has occurred at the Vernal Point only in 4361 B.C. and 1742 B.C. If we look up three thousand years ahead, the closest it gets to the Vernal Point is 3º of Aries in 3172. Quite rare. So this conjunction at the first degree of the Zodiac, 0º of Aries – the very beginning – is not that small a deal.

Neptune impregnates and conceives; Saturn refers to the concrete structure of reality; and 0º of Aries means new, springing up. Saturn-Neptune on 0º Aries means a new conception of reality.

Aspects between Saturn and Neptune, by historical observation, are associated with socialism and communism – these movements on Earth coincide with the transiting contacts between these two planets in the sky. It has already been proven in mundane astrology historically. Moreover, this does not just tell us about the past, for it is in fact just about to begin – upgrading and advancing, reconfiguring itself in yet new forms of socialism.

According to Wallerstein, during the structural crisis which characterizes the final period of a world-system, a bifurcation of the system can tilt to one of either directions, or to multiple systems. Before passing away last year, he did consider us to be right in the middle of the structural crisis of capitalism, which lasts 60 to 80 years.

I’d say at this moment we are past the mid-point. It could, initially, go towards multiple systems in two branches: on the one hand, the freshness of the Eastern winds inspiring socialism and multipolarity through the Belt and Road Initiative and the integration of Eurasia and its partners; on the other hand, the whirlwind of the collapsing empire and its Western allies as a terminator cyborg operated by the perverse 0.0001% who are so lifeless they cannot conceive other people’s right to exist.

When I first heard about it in June 2020, it astonished me how they set the “Great Reset” for January 2021, so close to the Great Mutation at the end of December 2020. I doubt this is a mere coincidence or “synchronicity.” J P Morgan is known to have affirmed that millionaires don’t need astrologers, but billionaires do.

Possibly aware of this great transition, the Davos crew seem to be actually trying to reset the system they already rule with their own settings and revive the dying system as a cyborg from hell.

‘Wall Street Bubbles – always the same,’ 1901 cartoon by Keppler, depicts J.P. Morgan as a bull blowing soap bubbles for eager investors. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The nefarious potential of the Aquarian emphasis is the control of society through technology, be it techno-feudalism or, gods forbid, techno-slavery. On the brighter side of the Force, Aquarius is about a social project to sustain life and meet the needs of the people. Both dimensions or systems might co-exist on Earth for a while.

Western powers – not to mention the Masters of the Universe, as you say, who pull their strings – seem to have a long way to go before reaching a state of real and respectful cooperation. Perhaps more ancient civilizations found in the East have a deeper, more consistent root from which to draw the wisdom and maturity necessary in such challenging times for humanity.

Often remembered for the food and goods traded along the route, the Silk Roads involved in the past and involve nowadays the exchange of ideas. It is interesting to observe the strong Aquarian edge activated in China’s astrological progressions when the Belt and Road Initiative was first proposed by Xi Jinping in Astana, in 2013, and how it connected to the degree of the Great Mutation (progressed Venus and Jupiter conjunct AC at 1º Aquarius).

When some years before that Vladimir Putin gave his historical speech in Munich, proposing the Eurasian Integration, in February 2007, there was a Saturn-Neptune aspect – an opposition. When at the 70th UN Assembly, both Putin and Xi delivered long, strong and synchronized speeches affirming the multipolarity of the world, in 2015, there was also a Saturn-Neptune aspect – a square.

The next Saturn-Neptune aspect will be the conjunction, in February 2026, inaugurating a brand new cycle and we can expect it to be related to these previous movements, keeping in mind the cycle points towards multipolarity and new forms of socialism.

The Black Moon spell

PE: Could Covid-19, on a certain level, be interpreted as the – unpleasant – preamble towards a Great Mutation? After all the new social (un)reality represents a system upside down: near-total economic devastation, especially of small businesses; canceling of constitutional rights; governments practically ruling by decree, with no popular consultation; global corporations censoring any manner of informed dissent; whole societies practically under house arrest; most of the planet reduced to a sort of totalitarian theme park.

VG: Oh, Covid-19 – we could have a whole conversation just on the implications of it at so many dimensions, and how it can be, to some extent, astrologically tracked. It definitely can be interpreted as the unpleasant preamble, perhaps aiming to the Great Reset, one could ponder.

An unprecedented worldwide collective experience – and experiment. Nevertheless, serving to shake it all up, transforming our very perception of time, preparing for the conception of a new time. To all those paying attention, a call to be yet more alive, more vivid, against all odds.

A nearly black moon. Image: Unsplash

The very dichotomy which has been so emphasized between “either caring for life or caring for the economy” in and of itself shows how absurd a world it already was. How many people so easily got caught into separating one thing from the other, as if it was a means to resist the system and finally say no to the demands of capital accumulation. To eventually see, indeed, small businesses devastated, poverty increasing drastically, whilst billionaires concentrate wealth to yet more bizarre levels.

Something fundamental to consider is how it has affected the human body. The pandemic was declared with Black Moon (the lunar apogee) in Aries and that indicates the importance of being sharply present and responsive as Michael Jackson danced, Bruce Lee moved and Maria Zakharova responds.

In October, Black Moon, this astrological point representing the visceral and instinctive dimension of existence, moved into Taurus, highlighting the importance of being aware of how the life force in us is conditioned or channeled, shaping how we perceive our own existence. For instance, how the confinement of the body might – or might not – confine our psyche.

What are the psychological effects of the lack of touch or the physical experience of constantly having our mouths covered? How those situations affect our psyche is not irrelevant. Both René Descartes and Wilhelm Reich had Black Moon in Taurus. How are mind and body related? Are they a cartesian dichotomy or are they intertwined as bio-energetic unity moved by libido?

This is an important underlying issue in our collective until July 2021.

The fate of the American empire

PE: Astrology in History is full of fascinating stories about celestial interpretations opening the way to a crucial political or military move. For instance, right before the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in 1258, the Great Khan, Hulegu, asked the court astrologer about the prospects ahead. The astrologer, Husam al-Din, said that if he followed his generals and invaded Baghdad, the consequences would be ominous.

But then Hulegu turned to a Shi’a astronomer, Tusi, a polymath. Tusi said the invasion would be a major success. That’s what happened – and Tusi was admitted into Hulegu’s inner circle. So the Mongols – who built the largest empire in history – were big fans of “celestial insurance.” Could “celestial insurance” in our times end up predicting the fate of another empire – the US?

VG: That’s true, there are so many fascinating stories. The end of the Byzantine Empire and conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmet II of the Ottoman Empire was also marked by an astrological prediction of the Ottoman victory related to an eclipse.

The US Pluto return happens in 2022. That’s massive. It’s a cycle of approximately 247 years. Pluto has a sense of fate to it. The return of the lord of the underworld also speaks of the return of that which was repressed, hidden or rejected. It will have three exact hits throughout 2022, and the final and definitive of the next Pluto cycle has the planet of death and regeneration facing Black Moon Lilith in Cancer, in opposition. Karma is a bitch and hits home.

It is also a cycle related to power and power status. It won’t all be bad and some victorious moments will be there, but there is a change in the country’s position in the balance of powers in the world which is not so easy to digest. The power struggle will be intense, both externally and internally, with considerable risks of destructive manifestations. The best way to go through such a moment would be to purge – although it’s hard to believe “the swamp” can be so easily drained.

It is a call for a deep transformation, when all things under the rug and corpses out of the basement are to be dealt with. For the nation’s people it is a call for maturity (Saturn conjoins Moon), compassion and a more humanly receptive disposition (Neptune opposition), letting illusions dissolve and realizing the empire is losing its hegemony and status, but the nation will continue. What nation should it be for its people – as opposed to against other peoples?

This doesn’t mean the American Empire will fall by 2022, but it is collapsing and will undergo dramatic transformations in the coming decade.

A Dystopian Renaissance

PE: Amid so much gloom, looks like you are introducing a very hopeful concept: “Dystopian Renaissance”. That’s the exact opposite of what is being largely interpreted as our inevitable neo-Orwellian future. How would you characterize this Dystopian Renaissance – in terms of individual, collective, political and cultural struggle?

VG: The concept emerges precisely to elucidate the extreme complexity of our times. Well, the renaissance part seems very hopeful, doesn’t it? But, there’s the dystopian part to it too. It is not a utopian renaissance, as we well know. Perhaps in 200 years, when we reach the Great Mutation into water, the same element as the magnificent Italian Renaissance, humanity might be able to feel and better comprehend deeper dimensions of life. Why not aim for Utopia next? But whatsoever may be possible by then passes through right now.

It is now that, along with this special Great Mutation, a few significant astrological aspects point to a real change of the world-system. It takes this crucial moment in time and this period of air to elevate perspectives, to share ideas and ideals and understand how enriching it can be to build “a community with a shared future for mankind,” as Xi Jinping puts it.

A highly enhanced turning point, opening new horizons, offering the possibility of enriching exchanges in a multipolar world, and with a call for socialism like we haven’t known before.

Catalan Atlas, detail showing family Of Marco Polo 1254-1324 traveling by camel caravan, 1375, drawing by Spanish School. Source: Wikimedia

Let’s not forget this moment in time also resonates with the 13th century, when Venetian Marco Polo, traveling through the Silk Roads to Asia, brought back to Europe the freshness of the Eastern winds, with news from Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty, including the “sublimation” of money into a lighter form, from coin to paper.

At that time, there was a stellium (a concentration of planets) in Capricorn just as we had in 2020, with the following Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius (although not as a Great Mutation), and Pluto’s ingress into Aquarius as we will also have in 2023/2024. It is an absurdly dystopian context, but a turning point for a new conception of reality and the possibility for surprising new horizons.

A new world system is in the air

PE: Giorgio Agamben has referred to that famous Foucault intuition in Les Mots et les Choses, when Foucault writes that humankind may disappear like a figure drawn in the sand being erased by waves hitting the shore. The striking image may apply to our present, mutating condition, as we are about to enter a trans-human and even post-human era, dominated by artificial intelligence (AI) and genetic engineering.

Agamben argues that Covid-19, global warming and, more radically, direct digital access to our psychic life – all these elements are destroying humanity. Would the Great Mutation install a different paradigm – and lead us away from post-humanity?

FG: The rapid development in technology will be something seriously complex to deal with. It will be amazing in many ways, but not all pretty, presenting undeniable challenges, some of which are already here and about to intensify.

What are the effects of technology and artificial intelligence in both our organic and our subjective bodies? Mind control with bidirectional devices, both collecting information and inducing commands is a work in progress.

Perverse levels of technological control of society are a serious concern as Pluto, aka Hades, lord of the underworld, will also transit in technological and futuristic Aquarius from 2023/24 on, up until 2043/44 – times of intense social transformation, when technological advancements will blow our minds and the very conception of science will change considerably, but with serious risks of trans-human and post-human madness.

We cannot disregard our organicity. We cannot disregard our subjectivity, either. Pluto is about transformation or domination – in other words, quoting a recent article of yours: “Here’s our future: hackers or slaves.”

We’ve got to go hacking not only in the objective sense – which surely becomes more and more a desirable skill – but in the subjective sense as well, finding lines of flight and keeping Eros alive, the life force in us vivid.

Considering we’re already here, living through dystopian times, we might as well make the best out of this undeniably epic adventure. Instead of succumbing to fear and isolation, overtaken by the doom and gloom, let’s not forget Wallerstein’s observation on destiny versus free will – a very cool take, by the way, which my experience as an astrologer observing collective and individual cycles very much confirms: Both exist.

During the stable period of a world-system, its normal life when its structure is functioning well, even if there are some fluctuations in it, it is very hard to change things in the system, it tends to stabilization. It’s destiny: you gotta put a whole lot of effort to get perhaps very little change trying to escape destiny.

But when the world-system has reached its final phase, it can no longer be rescued and there is a lot of instability. The crisis is not going away and the only possibility is change, in one way or another – it’s free will time. In the structural crisis, Wallerstein says we have more free will, our actions have a stronger impact and every little move counts to decide in which direction the change of the system will go.

In our personal lives at this turning point in time, as Foucault questions, we may also ask ourselves: As humans, are we an obstacle or obstruction? Are we a way of imprisoning life – or are we an opening, a line of flight?

In regard to Foucault’s words you and Agamben bring to light, please allow me to refer to the previous paragraph, just before that final one in Les Mots et les Choses, when he states that by “taking a relatively short chronological sample within a restricted geographical area – European culture since the sixteenth century – one can be certain that man is a recent invention within it.”

The “man” he is referring to as the effect of a change in the fundamental arrangements of knowledge a couple of centuries ago, with the newer arrangements perhaps about to end, is within European references. That is neither the beginning nor the end of man, nor its only interesting expression. With huge, deep appreciation for so much of European culture, perhaps one of the things coming to a necessary end is Eurocentrism.

Nonetheless, of course, it is deeply worrying how faces are being at the same time digitally traced by machines and hidden from other humans by masks – especially the effects of that in children. The current transition is not without epistemological effects and effects on how we conceive man, humans. But it’s not all said and done.

To counter the objectification of humans, it may be timely to draw from the Tupis’ conception of human beings: tu + pi , seated sound. A human being is a sound which has taken a seat, has taken place and vibrates. We gotta keep our bodies, faces and words vibrant. For the native South American Tupis, each human being is a new music, a new word vibrating and co-creating life with others and nature.

Albert Eckhout painting of a Tupi man. Source: Wikipedia

It seems that the deeper roots of aboriginal-indigenous wisdom still need to be more fully acknowledged and reintegrated in the Americas before the reinvention of the world in the West can take place.

Now winds blow from the East and from Eurasia, inspiring new forms of co-existence. But the controllers of capital, wealth and worldly power won’t give it up without a fight – or a few wars and a heavy load of social control via technology, capturing bodies and minds. What will it be – Great Reset or Great Mutation?

Is there a way out? Yes. And it seems to go along the New Silk Roads and the Eurasia Integration – literally to some important extent, but symbolically as well. The West can gain a lot from opening up to the Eastern winds, the news and the ideas they bring, stories of a community of shared future for mankind. A new world-system is in the air.

Why China is NOT the Enemy of the West (Why British Psychological Warfare Must Now be Examined)

Why China is NOT the Enemy of the West (Why British Psychological Warfare Must Now be Examined)

December 17, 2020

By Matthew Ehret for the Saker Blog

Since many good people have found themselves susceptible to the narrative that China is the global supervillain conspiring to overthrow western Christian values by any means necessary, I believe some lessons should be brought to bear.

  1. Anti-Nation state fanatic George Soros stated at the 2020 Davos Summit that China has become the greatest threat to his vision for Open Society (right behind Trump’s USA). This was echoed by Lord Malloch Brown’s 2020 Global Government Speeches.
  2. China’s deep alliance with Russia and the increased integration of the Eurasian Economic Union with the 135 nation strong Belt and Road Initiative form the basis of an alternative multipolar paradigm has kept imperialists up at night for the past several years.
  3. The prospect of a US-China-Russia alliance has been one of the greatest threats to empire which peeked in the weeks before COVID-19 arose onto the scene as the US-China Trade Pact successfully entered its first phase (and has since fallen into shambles) as well as Trump’s repeated calls for “good relations with Russia.”

Amidst the surge of anti-China media psy ops published across Five Eyes nations, countless patriots of a conservative bent have found themselves absorbed into a red-scare manic hysteria while forgetting that the actual causal hand of British Intelligence has been caught blatantly running the overthrow of nation states for decades (including the 2016-2020 to run regime change within the USA itself).

Understanding the nature of the current psy ops, and new red scare deflection underway, it is necessary to review some seriously underappreciated facts of recent history, and since former secretary of State Sir Henry Kissinger (a genuine Knight of the British Empire), figures prominently in this story, it is wise to start with his relationship with China.

Although he is celebrated for being an “enlightened” liberal politician who helped China open up to the west after the dark days of Mao’s Cultural Revolution by extending western markets to China, the truth is very different.

A devout proponent of world government and population control, Kissinger had been the tool selected during a particularly important period of human history to advance a new ordering of world affairs.

The Division of the World Into Producers and Consumers

Since the world was taken off the gold reserve system way back in 1971, a new age of “post-industrialism” was unleashed onto a globalized world. Humanity was given a new type of system which presumed that both our nature and the cause of value itself were located in the act of consuming. The old idea that our nature was creative, and that our wealth was tied to producing, was assumed to be an obsolete thing of the past… a relic of a dirty old industrial age.

Under the new post-1971 operating system, we were told that the world would now be divided among producers and consumers.

The “have-not producers” would provide the cheap labor which first world consumers would increasingly rely on for the creation of goods they used to make for themselves. “First world” nations were told that according to the new post-industrial rules of de-regulation and market economics, that they should export their heavy industry, machine tools and other productive sectors abroad as they transitioned into “white collar” post-industrial consumer societies. The longer this outsourcing of industries went on, the less western nations found themselves capable of sustaining their own citizenries, building their own infrastructure or determining their own economic destinies.

In place of full spectrum economies that once saw over 40% of North America’s labor force employed in manufacturing, a new addiction to “buying cheap stuff” began, and a “service economies” took over like a cancer.

To make matters worse, the many newly independent nations struggling to liberate themselves from colonialism were told that they would have to abandon their dreams of development since those goals would render the formula of a producer-consumer stratified society impossible to create. Those leaders resisting this edict would face assassination or CIA overthrow. Those leaders who adapted to the new rules would become peons of the new age of “Economic Hitmen”.

China and the West: The Real Story

By the time Deng Xiaoping announced the “opening up” of China in 1978, Kissinger had already managed the economic paradigm shift of 1971, the artificial “oil shock therapy” of 1973 and authored his 1974 NSSM 200 Report which transformed U.S. Foreign Policy from a pro-development orientation towards a new policy of depopulation targeting the poor nations of the global south under the logic that the resources under their soil were the lawful possession of the USA.

The NSSM 200 (titled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests”) outlined its objective “Assistance for population moderation should give emphasis to the largest and fastest growing developing countries where there is a special US and strategic interest”.

Kissinger, and the hives of Trilateral Commission/CFR operatives to which he was beholden never looked on China as a true ally, but merely as a zone of abundant cheap labor which would feed cheap goods to the now post-industrial west under their new dystopic producer-consumer world order. It was in that same year that Kissinger’s fellow Trilateral Commission cohort Paul Volcker announced a “controlled disintegration of western society” which was begun in full with the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes to 20% that ensured a vast destruction of small and medium businesses across the board.

Believing China (then still largely an impoverished third world country) to be desperate enough to accept money and short-term salvation after years of trauma induced by the Cultural Revolution. Under Kissinger’s logic, China would receive just enough money to sustain a static existence but would never be able to stand on its own two feet.

Unbeknownst to Kissinger, China’s leaders under the direction of Zhou Enlai, and his disciple Deng Xiaoping had a much longer-term strategic perspective than their western partners imagined.

While receiving much needed revenue from foreign exports, China began to slowly create the foundations for a genuine renaissance which would be made possible by slowly learning the skills, leapfrogging technologies and acquiring means of production which the west had once pioneered. Zhou Enlai had first enunciated this visionary program as early as 1963 under his Four Modernizations mandate (Industrial, agricultural, national defense and science and technology) and then restated this program in January 1976 weeks before his death.

This program manifested itself in the July 6, 1978 State Council Forum on the “Principles to Guide the Four Modernizations” informed by the findings of international exploratory missions conducted by economist Gu Mu’s delegations around various advanced world economies (Japan, Hong Kong, Western Europe). The findings of Gu Mu’s reports laid out the concrete pathways for full spectrum economic sovereignty with a focus on cultivating the cognitive creative powers of a new generation of scientists that would drive the non linear breakthroughs needed for China to ultimately break free of the rules of closed-system economics which technocrats like Kissinger wished the world adhere to.

Deng Xiaoping broke from the radical Marxism prevalent among the intelligentsia by redefining “labor” from purely material constraints and elevating the concept rightfully to the higher domain of mind saying:

“We should select several thousand of our most qualified personnel within the scientific and technological establishment and create conditions that will allow them to devote their undivided attention to research. Those who have financial difficulties should be given allowances and subsidies… we must create within the party an atmosphere of respect for knowledge and respect for trained personnel. The erroneous attitude of not respecting intellectuals must be opposed. All work. Be it mental or manual, is labor.”

Over the course of the coming decades, China learned, and like any student, copied, reverse engineered and reconstructed western techniques as it slowly generated capacities that ultimately allowed them press on the limits of human knowledge outpacing all western models.

Scientific and technological progress became the driving force of its entire economy and by 1986, the “863 Project for Research and Development” was announced which focused on areas of space, lasers, energy, biotechnology, new materials, automation and information technology. This project became the driver for creative innovation guided by the National Science Foundation and was upgraded to the 973 Basic Research Program in 2009 to: “1) support multidisciplinary and fundamental research of relevance to national development; 2) Promote frontline basic research; 3) Support the cultivation of scientific talent capable of original research; and 4) Build high-quality interdisciplinary research centers.”

The fruits of these long term programs was beginning to be felt and by 1996, discussion for a New Silk Road reviving the ancient trade routes connecting China to Europe and Africa through the Middle East and Caucasus was beginning with conferences hosted by Beijing under President Jiang Zemin.

One of the few western participants at these Chinese events was the Schiller Institute, whose founders delivered a full day seminar in 1997 describing the program that would finally come back to life in 2013 when Xi Jinping made it the focus of China’s foreign policy outlook under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Why did this program wait until 2013 to blossom onto the world stage when obvious momentum was already in motion in 1997?

George Soros and the Attack on the Asian Markets

From May 1997, George Soros’ targeting of the Southeast Asian “Tigers economies” of Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos, and Malaysia with speculative short sales of their local currencies resulted months of vast anarchy across all of Asia and the world more broadly. Currencies collapsed from 10-80% over the next 8 months and took many years to begin to recover.

Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohammed was brave enough to call out Soros’ economic warfare and did much to help his nation weather the storm by imposing capital controls to maintain some semblance of stability calling out the speculator saying: “as much as people who produce and distribute drugs are criminals, because they destroy nations, the people who undermine the economies of poor nations are too.” Chinese President Jiang Zemin followed suit calling Soros “a financial sniper” and stated he would not let the speculator enter Chinese markets.

As analyst Michael Billington astutely wrote in his August 1997 EIR report:

“The ultimate target is China. The British are particularly worried about the increasingly close collaboration between China and the ASEAN nations, which are being integrated into the massive regional and continental development projects initiated by China under the umbrella of the Eurasian Continental Land-Bridge program. Such real development policies offer the alternative to the cheap-labor, colonial-style export industries of the “globalization” model- the model that has led to the financial bubbles now bursting worldwide.”

The Tumultuous Years of 1997-2013

With the advent of the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management (whose meltdown nearly took down the world economy in 1999 if not bailed out by central banks), followed by the Y2K/tech bubble explosion of 2000, the world markets nearly collapsed on several occasions. 9-11 unleashed a new era of warfare which deflected attention from the rot of the financial system while derivatives were deregulated, and ‘Too Big To Fail’ banking formed in short order growing far beyond the powers of any nation state to rein in.

Under this period of destabilization, wars, terrorism and easy money speculation, China and its Eurasian allies moved slower to rebuild the physical basis of their existence with the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, long term planning, and a slow but steady focus on real (vs speculative) economic activity. The fact that China was among the only nations of the world to keep national controls over their central bank and maintain Glass-Steagall bank separation were not lost on the enemies of humanity yearning for a bankers’ dictatorship.

This process continued until it became evident that the western unipolar agenda would stop at nothing including nuclear war in order to assure the total subservience of all nation states, with Obama unveiling his Asia Pivot (air-sea battle) plans against China along with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) economic attack on China. The veil was now lifted to the true ugly face behind the liberal fascist smiles and it became clear that the full spectrum dominance military encirclement of Russia’s perimeter was being fully extended to China’s perimeter as well.

The Revival of the New Silk Road

It was in the face of this existential threat that Xi Jinping emerged as the new leader of China and a historic crackdown of party corruption on all levels Federal, Provincial and Municipal was begun in force while Xi’s 2013 announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative in Kazakhstan revived the New Silk Road/Eurasian land bridge policy of 15 years earlier.

Although China is often accused of intellectual theft, the reality is that it has begun to clearly outpace western nations becoming a pioneer on every level of science and technology. China now registers more patents than the USA, has become the cutting edge leader of high speed rail engineering with over 30 000 km, bridge building, tunneling, as well as water management, quantum computing, AI, 5G telecommunications, and even space science becoming the first nation to ever land on the far side of the moon with an intent to mine Helium 3 and develop permanent bases on the Moon in the coming decade.

All of these cutting edge fields of science and engineering are being organized by the ever-growing Belt and Road Initiative which has taken on global proportions and integrated itself into a deep alliance with Russia, Iran and over 135 nations who have signed onto the BRI Framework stretching from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Asia, and Europe.

This is the system which the USA and other western nations could have joined on multiple occasions, but which has instead been targeted as a global threat to western hegemony. According to the logic of those western utopians who refuse to let go of their old outdated 1971 script for a new world order, China’s New Silk Road must be subverted at all costs since it is very well understood that it would become the basis for a new world system as the old globalized paradigm comes crashing down faster than the Hindenburg.

The Real Perpetrators Laugh as a New Cold War Hysteria is Orchestrated

It is perhaps an irony that those figures who have been caught time and again attempting to destroy the foundations of both the USA, China and Russia have deflected attention from their own actions by promoting the idea that China is the USA’s natural enemy.

The reality is China is currently not only reviving the ancient silk road paradigm that focused on a harmony of interests and mutual self interest through economic and cultural exchange but they have also revived the spirit of President Sun Yat-sen’s International Development of China program in full. In this 1920 document China’s first President outlined the superiority of the American system of political economy which he studied deeply beginning in his early student days in the USA, and upon which he explicitly modelled his new republican China and his three Principles of the People (premised on Lincoln’s principle of a nation for, by and of the people). Sun Yat-sen (a Christian Confucian revolutionary) is not only the beloved founding father of the republic of China celebrated to this day, but stated his views pro-American views in the following terms

“The world has been greatly benefited by the development of America as an industrial and a commercial Nation. So a developed China with her four hundred millions of population, will be another New World in the economic sense. The nations which will take part in this development will reap immense advantages. Furthermore, international cooperation of this kind cannot but help to strengthen the Brotherhood of Man.”

Both mainstream and alternative media outlets that tend to be sympathetic to conservative values have bit the bait and are now blind to the fact that those oligarchical social engineers managing the World Economic Forum and drooling over a new era of World Government, population reduction and technocratic feudalism are laughing at all of those fish in their nets whose ignorance to history and other cultures are leading them to their own self-destruction.

Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow, BRI Expert on Tactical talk, and has authored 3 volumes of ‘Untold History of Canada’ book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide FoundationHe can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

China’s Economy of Peace

China’s Economy of Peace

December 14, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

In the context of China’s webinar on 14 December 2020, on the topic of “China’s New Development Paradigm and High-Quality Belt and Road Cooperation”, organized by the China Center for Contemporary World Studies, International Department of CPC Central Committee and the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, my presentation was on China’s Economy of Peace.
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China, about a decade ago, has deliberately embarked on an Economy of Peace. A strategy that China pursues, unimpressed by constant aggression from the west, which are mostly led by the United States. Is it perhaps this Chinese steadfast, non-aggressive way of constant forward-creation and embracing more and more allies on her way – that has made China such a success story? Overcoming violence by non-violence is engrained in 5000 years of Chinese history.

Despite relentlessly repeated assertions by the west, China’s objective is not to conquer the world or to “replace” the United States as the new empire. Quite to the contrary. The alliance China-Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is seeking a multipolar world, with more justice for all – i. e. fairer trade in the sense of “win-win”, where all parties are benefitting equally. This is also a policy pursued by the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, the 15-country trade agreement signed at the 37th ASEAN Summit – 11 November 2020, in Vietnam, as well as by President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by the President himself.

China does not coerce cooperation – but offers peaceful cooperation. In 2014, Mr. Xi traveled to Germany to offer Madame Merkel for Germany to become – at that time – the western most link to the BRI, or the New Silk Road. This would have been an opening for all of Europe. However, Madame Merkel, having to follow Washington’s mandates – did not respond positively. President Jinping returned to Beijing, no hard feelings. And China continued her persistent course of connecting the countries of our Mother Earth with transport infrastructure, inter-country industrial ventures, education and research projects, as well as cultural exchanges to enrich the world – all the while respecting individual countries’ monetary and political sovereignty.

Many country leaders from Africa and the Global South in general express openly their contentment and satisfaction to have China as a partner and for dealing with China on the basis of equals. With the west, especially the US, there is bullying and coercion, unequal contracts, and often total disrespect for legally signed contracts.
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Meanwhile, the west lives in a permanent state of hypocrisy. It bashes China – actually without any reason, other than that the dying Anglo-Saxon-American empire mandates it to its partners, especially the European NATO allies – under threats of sanctions. Unfortunately, spineless Europe mostly complies.

Yet, having outsourced – for economic and profit reasons – most production processes to reliable, efficient and cheaper-labor China, the west depends very much on China for its supply chains. The covid-crisis, first wave, has clearly shown how dependent the west is on goods produced in China from sophisticated electronic equipment to pharmaceuticals.

As an example: About 90% or more of antibiotics or ingredients for antibiotics are Made in China. Similar percentages apply to other vital western imports. – But China does not “punish” or sanction. China creates and moves forward offering her alliance to the rest of the world.

China has also developed a new digital international Renminbi (RMB) or Yuan that may soon be rolled out for use of monetary transactions – of all kinds, including transfers, trade and even as a reserve currency. The yuan is already an ever-stronger reserve currency. This trend will be further enhanced through the RCEP and BRI.

Of course, the US is afraid that their dollar-hegemony they have built up since WWII with Fiat money backed by nothing, may suffer as international trading currency which the Anglo-American banking cartel practically imposed on the world, will come to an end; and the US-dollar’s standing as a reserve currency may rapidly decline.

And yes, the yuan will gradually replace the US dollar as reserve currency – and this – because countries’ treasurers realize that the yuan is a stable, gold-backed currency, also supported by a solid economy – the only economy of any importance in the world that will grow in the covid-year 2020, by perhaps as much as 3.5%, while western economies will falter badly. Predictions are dire for the US and Europe, between 12% (EU predictions) and up to 30% / 35% (US FED prediction).

The US dollar and its dominion over the international transfer system through SWIFT – has been used massively for sanctioning non-compliant countries, including totally illegal confiscation of assets – even countries reserve assets – case in point is Venezuela.

Escaping this coercive dollar dominion is the dream of many countries. Therefore, trading, investing and dealing with the Chinese currency, will be a welcome opportunity for many sovereign nations.
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China’s economic achievements and forward-looking perspectives may be summarized in two major events or global programs, the just signed free trade agreement with 14 countries – the 10 ASEAN countries, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, altogether, including China 15 countries. The so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was in negotiations during eight years – and achieved to pull together a group of countries for free trade, of some 2.2 billion people, commanding about 30% of the world’s GDP. This is a never before reached agreement in size, value and tenor.

In addition to the largest such trade agreement in human history, it also links to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or One Belt, One Road (OBOR), which in itself comprises already more than 130 countries and more than 30 international organizations. Also, China and Russia have a longstanding strategic partnership, containing bilateral agreements that too enter into this new trade fold – plus the countries of the Central Asia Economic Union (CAEU), consisting mostly of former Soviet Republics, are also integrated into this eastern trade block.

The myriad of agreements and sub-agreements between Asian-Pacific countries that will cooperate with RCEP, is bound together by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai as an intergovernmental organization, composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO is little known and little talked-about in the west.

The purpose of the SCO is to ensure security and maintain stability across the vast Eurasian region, join forces to counteract emerging challenges and threats, and enhance trade, as well as cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

Much of the funding for RCEP and BRI projects may come in the form of low-interest loans from China’s Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and other Chinese and participating countries’ national funding sources. In the hard times emerging from the covid crisis, many countries may need grant assistance to be able to recover as quickly as possible from their huge socioeconomic losses, created by the pandemic. In this sense, it is likely that the new Silk Road may support a special “Health Road” across the Asian Continent.

The RCEP may, as “byproduct”, integrate the huge Continent of Eurasia that spans all the way from western Europe to what is called Asia and covering the Middle East as well as North Africa, of some 55 million square kilometers (km2), and a population of about 5.4 billion people, close to 70% of the world population – See map (Wikipedia).

The crux of the RCEP agreement’s trade deals is that they will be carried out in local currencies and in yuan – no US-dollars. The RCEP is a massive instrument for dedollarizing, primarily the Asia-Pacific Region, and gradually the rest of the world.

Much of the BRI infrastructure investments, or New Silk Road, may be funded by other currencies than the US-dollar. China’s new digital Renminbi (RMB) or yuan may soon become legal tender for international payments and transfers, and will drastically reduce the use of the US-dollar.

The US-dollar is already in massive decline. When some 20-25 years ago about 90% of all worldwide held reserve-assets were denominated in US-dollars, this proportion has shrunk by today to below 60% – and keeps declining. The emerging international RMB / yuan, together with a RCEP- and BRI-strengthened Chinese economy, may further contribute to a dedollarization, as well as dehegemonization of the United States in the world. And as said before, the international digital RMB / yuan may progressively also be replacing the US-dollar, as well as euro reserves in countries’ coffers around the globe. The US-dollar may eventually return to be just a local US-currency, as it should be.

Under China’s philosophy, the unilateral world may transform into a multi-polar world. The RCEP and New Silk Road combination are rapidly pursuing this noble objective, a goal that will bring much more equilibrium into the world.

Maybe for a few years more to come, the west, led by the US – and always backed by the Pentagon and NATO, may not shy away from threatening countries participating in China’s projects, but to no avail. Under Tao philosophy, China will move forward with her partners, like steadily flowing water, constantly creating, avoiding obstacles, in pursuit of her honorable goal – a world in Peace with a bright common future.

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Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; New Eastern Outlook (NEO), Information Clearing House (ICH) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the 28th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, December 10, 2020

Source

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the 28th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, December 10, 2020
File Photo

11 December 202000:22

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the 28th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, December 10, 2020

Colleagues, friends,

Fyodor Lukyanov spoke about the role of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy. Who would have thought at the time when the Council was created, and I was invited to join in as a co-founder, that the Council would live to this day. The experience gained over the decades of its functioning is instrumental in our work and makes it possible to bounce ideas off the expert community, which is deeply versed in international matters and is keenly interested in them. This is important.

This year was truly challenging and pivotal. Humanity was unprepared for the differences and mixed trends that had been piling up on the agenda over years and exacerbated confusion in international affairs. The habitual way of life of hundreds of millions of people and states, as well as ordinary citizens, has been upended, many sectors of the economy found themselves on the verge of collapse, business activity has significantly decreased, global cooperation chains were disrupted and the unemployment rates went up. Closed borders abruptly reduced the chances for maintaining multifaceted contacts between the countries and the people.

The scale and inertia of the events that we are witnessing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic make it impossible to say when life will get back to normal. I hope Mr Lukyanov was right when he confidently stated, albeit with reservations, that we will be able to meet in person in the spring. So far, humanity and its best representatives in the person of healthcare professionals are just trying to understand where we are and when this might end. Many people are saying that this will never end, and we will have to live with it just like the annual flu, but with much more severe consequences. One of the key lessons of the pandemic is that no one can secure themselves against these cross-border threats.

The pandemic affected literally everyone. Clearly, this kind of global cataclysm can only be overcome by uniting and rising above fleeting differences. President Putin has repeatedly stated this firm position adopted by Russia. Unfortunately, a number of countries, primarily the United States and its allies, are trying to take advantage of this situation in their geopolitical interests and ignore the needs that are common to humanity.

The term “common to humanity” does not at all mean an average, consensus-based or accommodating understanding of how the inter-civilisational diversity should be respected. This manifests itself in way too many areas of modern international life, including the interpretation of multilateralism energetically promoted and propagated by our Western colleagues. This is also happening in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, despite the fact that people in America and Europe are suffering from COVID-19 as badly as people in other countries.

The need for conducting a mutually respectful dialogue and rejecting artificially created confrontational schemes is nowhere to be seen. Just think of the indiscriminate accusations against China regarding the spread of the disease. There was an attempt to blame the PRC for everything that happened. This undermined the efforts to achieve unity, including of the research capacities, in order to come up with effective responses. In addition to healthcare aspects, we must take a closer look at the international bodies in charge of the health and well-being of the people. The WHO-related developments are quite telling in his regard. Ideas are being put forward to create some non-governmental institutions mandated to determine the international community’s policy. This is a clear attempt to sideline the World Health Organisation. These developments are reminiscent of neo-colonial approaches and habits and show the attempts to restrain the formation of new global centres and to punish those who pursue an independent foreign policy. This can also be seen in the “vaccine race.” We are well aware of attempts to oppose the new concept of the so-called rules-based international order to everything that has been created after establishing the UN and forming a large block of universal international legal instruments.

Russia believes it is imperative to look for ways to unite countries and governments, to look for a constructive agenda relying on the principles of collegiality and equality, which should contribute to de-escalating international tensions and ensuring the predictability of global processes. Later, we will discuss the initiatives that Russia has been promoting to this end. A CSTO summit and a Collective Security Council meeting took place on December 2. Among other decisions, the participants adopted a statement by the heads of state on forming a just and sustainable international order. Among other initiatives, this document proposes setting up a meeting of authorised representatives of the CSTO, the CIS, the SCO, the OSCE, NATO and the EU and seeing if these organisations can sit down and form a common agenda, jointly identify problems and, ideally, outline ways to overcome them. This is not something radically revolutionary. In 1999, the Platform for Co-operative Security was adopted at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul. It proclaimed the unification of the efforts of the OSCE and other sub-regional organisations in the Euro-Atlantic space. Some time ago, before the pandemic, we told our Western partners that it would be nice to take advantage of that consensus and try to build bridges between these organisations, instead of watching them build up confrontational potential, but our Western colleagues chose to step aside. Cooperative security and engagement of the bodies created in the post-Soviet space were important in the 1990s (in this case, in 1999), when the West still hoped that we would follow the path charted by the winners of the Cold War. Now, we have officially submitted a proposal on behalf of the CSTO heads of state. Let’s see how the West will respond to it.

Our goal is clear. We seek stability, fair opportunities for all states, including, of course, Russia. Gunboat diplomacy or democratic or any other sort of messianism is hardly an option if we want to accomplish this. I mentioned the rules which the West wants to base the international order on. There’s an “effective multilateralism” initiative which is openly opposed to multilateralism within the UN. There’s a tendency to interpret it as the need to return to Euro-Atlantic solidarity without exemptions. We are seeing this. I believe that more positive and sustainable results can be achieved through joining efforts based on the observance of the norms and principles of the UN Charter. We are upholding this consistently. President Putin’s initiative to hold a summit of the UN Security Council’s permanent members is part of our policy. It is imperative that they realise their responsibility under the UN Charter and act upon this responsibility. We must do our best to defuse this tension acting together. Heads of all UN Security Council permanent member states gave their consent. The coronavirus pandemic thwarted our efforts to agree on specific dates. However, we are working on it and agreeing on the concept and the potential outcomes of this summit.

We realise that the UN is not a static structure. It needs reform, including the reform of the UN Security Council. Our position is absolutely clear and consistent. It is necessary to increase the representation of the developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa if we want to make this body more representative. Only this approach will add value to reforming the UN Security Council. Everything else is up for discussion, but it is unlikely that an increase in Western representation on the Security Council will add diversity of opinions to this central body, which is in charge of peace and security on the planet. In any case, it is necessary to strive for the broadest possible agreement between the member states, so everything will depend on compromises. We are ready to discuss these compromises based on a balance of interests. In principle, this is the key to what needs to be accomplished if we want to ensure stability and harmony in the world inasmuch as this harmony is possible.

We believe that respect for the cultural and civilisational specifics of the modern world and refusal to impose one development model and values on everyone is an absolutely necessary step if we want to calm down the current situation. We see that this approach is shared by the overwhelming majority of participants in international communication. We disagree with the Western attempts to portray Russia as a country in isolation or a geopolitical loner. The viewpoint of our Western colleagues whereby everyone who disagrees with them is a lonely state probably has the right to exist.

However, we can see how the positions that we share are promoted within BRICS, the SCO, the CSTO and the CIS. The EAEU is actively working to align its plans with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. There is the G20. It has been in existence for quite a while, but was brought to the highest level and its meetings were made regular after the 2008 crisis. At first they met twice a year, then once a year. The G20 is the recognition of the fact that the G7 (and even the G8 in its old format) is not capable of resolving all international problems. The G20 includes the G7, the BRICS countries and a number of other like-minded states. The recognition that the G20 is necessary in order to develop generally acceptable approaches based on the balance of interests is a highly symptomatic trend.

Reviewing peace problems should not be driven by ideology, but rather be approached on the basis of equality. President Putin’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership is going in the same vein. The partnership is supposed to unite continental efforts with the participation of the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN and be open to all countries of our vast continent, including the EU states in the long run. This is a long process, but it is crucial to set this goal.

Russia’s proposals regarding strategic stability, arms control and European security are indicative of our constant readiness to achieve mutual understanding. You are aware of our position on renewing the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty (START), a moratorium on deploying ground-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles and de-escalating tensions along the Russia-NATO contact line. We came up with a proposal to agree on an arrangement that the exercises on both sides are conducted at a distance from the contact line, and also agree on the minimum distances that may not be violated by military aircraft and warships of Russia or NATO.

Conceptually, we came up with a proposal a long time ago (and failed to see any reciprocity on the part of the United States) to confirm, in the statement made by our countries, and perhaps in the Russia-NATO format, the unacceptability of nuclear war. Many of you have probably seen the recent remarks by US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea, where he almost ridiculed our proposal and called on any future US Administration to never agree with the statement on the unacceptability of nuclear war.

We believe that implementing these initiatives or, at least, a professional straight-to-the-point and substantive discussion of the subject, possibly along with other steps, would help improve the overall atmosphere in Russia-West relations.  Dialogue itself on these matters would improve it. But so far these ideas have been hanging in the air.

Leaving behind almost everything that has been achieved so far, including our proposals, Mr Billingslea puts forward confrontational ideas, including sanctions against all buyers of military products from Russia and China. This is a fairly telling philosophy, which, unfortunately, has not met any serious opposition in Washington so far.

If we take a close look at what we have heard from the North Atlantic camp so far, we can come to a conclusion that it has consciously opted for not just a policy of containment, but confrontation. Perhaps this approach underlies its unwillingness to admit that the world must change. We are now witnessing two opposite trends in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron is strongly promoting the EU’s strategic autonomy. The trend embodied by Germany is based on the assumption that defending Europe without the United States is impossible. We have already asked about whom they want to defend it from, but haven’t received a clear answer yet. Given this, multipolarity, which Yevgeny Primakov foresaw many years ago, has shown its objective nature. In an effort to stop it, they are doing whatever it takes in order to minimise the number of potential poles that have the strength and courage to uphold national interests.

One of Washington’s primary goals is to make the EU lose its strategic independence and return to the fold of Euro-Atlantic unity, where everyone is aware of who pays the piper and calls the tune.

Despite the above, we are open to an equal dialogue. Most importantly, our counterparts must be willing to engage. We will keep the communication channels open until they are. Our proposals and initiatives remain on the negotiating table. They have been reiterated many times. It is enough for our partners to know that they remain valid. However, in order to move ahead, we need our Western colleagues to respond to them.

Keeping open the channels for a dialogue on all matters, we will continue to work on the newly available opportunities in the economy, culture, science and people-to-people contacts. We do not fence ourselves off from this. Those who want to impose their agenda on us and ignore our status of a subject in international affairs must understand that we are not going to either make excuses or seek approval for our actions. Threats, sanctions or attempts to come up with other punishments are absolutely pointless and counterproductive. It is strange that the West has not realised this so far.

We do not need interaction with the West any more than the West needs Russia and what it has to offer. If our Western colleagues prefer to stick to certain rules and concepts that they themselves invented when they talk with each other, this is up to them. They can build a dialogue with other participants in international life, including Russia, solely on the basis of a generally accepted code of conduct. You can call it the rules enshrined in the UN Charter, namely, respect for the sovereign equality of states, the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

We are pursuing our own foreign policy, which has taken shape over the past two decades. It is aimed at ensuring the country’s security and creating the most favourable external environment for achieving our internal development goals. We are aware that the goal of the West is to prevent us from creating this particular external environment that is beneficial for our internal development. Everything that is being done to contain Russia is clearly done to this end. Attempts to destroy external opportunities that can be used to promote Russia’s growth continue unabated, but, in any case, there’s more to the world than the West. In the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we wanted to become part of something, but we now realise that there isn’t much we can become part of. At least, the West is not building anything of its own. Indeed, President Macron has come up with a proposal to conduct an analytical and philosophical dialogue about whether modern capitalism can meet the needs of the people and resolve related problems.

If we take Western development models, we have no place to fit in. The coronavirus, as if everything else wasn’t enough, showed it very convincingly. We need to build something ourselves. This is a fairly ambitious and complex goal, but it calls for immediate action.

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

December 09, 2020

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times.

Seven years after being launched by President Xi Jinping, first in Astana and then in Jakarta, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) increasingly drive the American plutocratic oligarchy completely nuts.

The relentless paranoia about the Chinese “threat” has much to do with the exit ramp offered by Beijing to a Global South permanently indebted to IMF/World Bank exploitation.

In the old order, politico-military elites were routinely bribed in exchange for unfettered corporate access to their nations’ resources, coupled with go-go privatization schemes and outright austerity (“structural adjustment”).

This went on for decades until BRI became the new game in town in terms of infrastructure building – offering an alternative to the imperial footprint.

The Chinese model allows all manner of parallel taxes, sales, rents, leases – and profits. This means extra sources of income for host governments – with an important corollary: freedom from the hardcore neoliberal diktats of IMF/World Bank. This is what is at the heart of the notorious Chinese “win-win”.

Moreover, BRI’s overall strategic focus on infrastructure development not only across Eurasia but also Africa encompasses a major geopolitical game-changer. BRI is positioning vast swathes of the Global South to become completely independent from the Western-imposed debt trap. For scores of nations, this is a matter of national interest. In this sense BRI should be regarded as the ultimate post-colonialist mechanism.

BRI in fact bristles with Sun Tzu simplicity applied to geoeconomics. Never interrupt the enemy when he’s making a mistake – in this case enslaving the Global South via perpetual debt. Then use his own weapons – in this case financial “help” – to destabilize his preeminence.

Hit the road with the Mongols

None of the above, of course, is bound to serenade the paranoid volcano, which will keep spitting out a 24/7 deluge of red alerts deriding BRI as “poorly defined, badly mismanaged and visibly failing”. “Visibly”, of course, only for the exceptionalists.

Predictably, the paranoid volcano feeds on a toxic mix of arrogance and crass ignorance of Chinese history and culture.

Xue Li, director of the Department of International Strategy at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has shown how “after the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in 2013, China’s diplomacy has changed from maintaining a low profile to becoming more proactive in global affairs. But the policy of ‘partnership rather than alliance’ has not changed, and it is unlikely to change in the future. The indisputable fact is that the system of alliance diplomacy preferred by Western countries is the choice of a few countries in the world, and most countries choose non-aligned diplomacy. Besides, the vast majority of them are developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.”

Atlanticists are desperate because the “system of alliance diplomacy” is on the wane. The overwhelming majority of the Global South is now being reconfigured as a newly energized Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – as if Beijing had found a way to revive the Spirit of Bandung in 1955.

Chinese scholars are fond of quoting a 13th century imperial handbook, according to which policy changes should be “beneficial for the people”. If they only benefit corrupt officials, the result is luan (“chaos”). Thus the 21st century Chinese emphasis on pragmatic policy instead of ideology.

Rivaling informed parallels with the Tang and Ming dynasties, it’s actually the Yuan dynasty that offers a fascinating introduction to the inner workings of BRI.

So let’s go for a short trip back to the 13th century, when Genghis Khan’s immense empire was replaced by four khanates.

We had the Khanate of the Great Khan – which turned into the Yuan dynasty – ruling over China, Mongolia, Tibet, Korea and Manchuria.

We had the Ilkhanate, founded by Hulagu (the conqueror of Baghdad) ruling Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, parts of Anatolia and the Caucasus.

We had the Golden Horde ruling the northwestern Eurasian steppe, from eastern Hungary to Siberia, and most of all the Russian principalities.

And we had the Chaghadaid Khanate (named after Genghis Khan’s second son) ruling Central Asia, from eastern Xinjiang to Uzbekistan, until Tamerlane’s rise to power in 1370.

This era saw an enormous acceleration of trade along the Mongol Silk Roads.

All these Mongol-controlled governments privileged local and international commerce. That translated into a boom in markets, taxes, profits – and prestige. The khanates competed to get the best trading minds. They laid out the necessary infrastructure for transcontinental travel (13th century BRI, anyone?) And they opened the way for multiple East-West, trans-civilizational exchanges.

When the Mongols conquered the Song in southern China they even expanded overland Silk Roads trade into Maritime Silk Roads. The Yuan dynasty was now controlling China’s powerful southern ports. So when there was any kind of turbulence overland, trade switched to the seas.

The key axes were through the Indian Ocean, between south China and India, and between India and the Persian Gulf or the Red Sea.

Cargo was traveling overland to Iran, Iraq, Anatolia and Europe; by sea, through Egypt and the Mediterranean, to Europe; and from Aden to east Africa.

A slave trade maritime route between the Golden Horde’s ports on the Black Sea and Egypt – run by Muslim, Italian and Byzantine traders – was also in effect. The Black Sea ports transited luxury merchandise arriving overland from the East. And caravans traveled inland from the Indian coast during dangerous monsoon seasons.

This frantic commercial activity was the proto-BRI, which reached its apex in the 1320s and 1330s all the way to the collapse of the Yuan dynasty in 1368 in parallel to the Black Death in Europe and the Middle East. The key point: all the overland and maritime roads were interlinked. 21st century BRI planners benefit from a long historical memory.

“Nothing will fundamentally change”

Now compare this wealth of trade and cultural interchange with the pedestrian, provincial, anti-BRI and overall anti-China paranoia in the US. What we get is the State Dept. under exiting Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo issuing a paltry diatribe on the “China challenge”. Or the US Navy recommissioning the First Fleet, probably to be based in Perth, to “have an Indo-Pac footprint” and thus maintain “maritime dominance in an era of great power competition”.

More ominously, here is a summary of the humongous, 4,517-page, $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2021, just approved by the House by 335 to 78 (Trump threatened to veto it).

This is about funding for the Pentagon next year – to be supervised in theory by the new Raytheon General, Lloyd Austin, the last “commanding General” of the US in Iraq who run CENTCOM from 2013 to 2016 and then retired for some juicy revolving door gigs such as the board of Raytheon and crucially, the board of ultra-toxic air, water, soil polluter Nucor.

Austin is a revolving door character who supported the war on Iraq, the destruction of Libya, and supervised the training of Syrian “moderate rebels” – a.k.a. recycled al-Qaeda – who killed countless Syrian civilians.

The NDAA, predictably, is heavy on “tools to deter China”.

That will include:

1. A so-called “Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), code for containment of China in the Indo-Pacific by boosting the Quad.

2. Massive counter-intel operations.

3. An offensive against “debt diplomacy”. That’s nonsense: BRI deals are voluntary, on a win-win basis, and open to renegotiation. Global South nations privilege them because loans are low-interest and long-term.

4. Restructuring global supply chains which lead to the US. Good luck with that. Sanctions on China will remain in place.

5. Across the board pressure forcing nations not to use Huawei 5G.

6. Reinforcing Hong Kong and Taiwan as Trojan Horses to destabilize China.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has already set the tone: “Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically”. Be afraid, very much afraid of the evil Chinese Communist Party, “the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II”.

There you go: Xi is the new Hitler.

So nothing will fundamentally change after January 2021 – as officially promised by Biden-Harris: it’s gonna be Hybrid War on China all over again, deployed all over the spectrum, as Beijing has perfectly understood.

So what? China’s industrial production will continue to grow while in the US it will continue to decline. There will be more breakthroughs by Chinese scientists such as the photonic quantum computing – which performed 2.6 billion years of computation in 4 minutes. And the 13th century Yuan dynasty spirit will keep inspiring BRI.

The Clash of Empires in Xi Jinping’s Speech and Joe Biden’s Essay صراع الإمبراطوريات في كلمة شي ومقال جو بايدن

The Clash of Empires in Xi Jinping’s Speech and Joe Biden’s Essay

First appeared In Arabic on Al-Akhbar Friday, December 4, 2020

Amro Allan

عربى 21-الرئيسية
Writer and political researcher

**Machine translation**

The Clash of Empires in Xi Jinping’s Speech and Joe Biden’s Essay

It is worthy to compare Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the recent 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit with the recently republished article by President-elect Joe Biden in Foreign Affairs Mmagazine, in which Joe Biden outlined the most important features of his policies if elected as the 46th president of the United States.

In his speech, President Xi Jinping outlined the aspects of China’s foreign policies, the most important of which was the emphasis on the idea of multipolarity in the management of world affairs under the umbrella of the international law in the face of unipolarity. The speech emphasized the importance of supporting countries in their efforts to implement their local agendas which will insure their political and social stability. He also highlighted the importance of preventing any foreign interference in the local affairs of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation members under any pretext. The Chinese President stressed in his speech that all human civilizations are equal and unique, and encouraged interrelation between nations and good neighbourly relations between countries. President Xi Jinping added that China cannot achieve development in isolation from the world, and that the world needs China to achieve prosperity, calling on all nations to build on and benefit from china’s economic growth, perhaps based on its call to benefit from the China Belt and Road Initiative and the extent to which china’s economy has reached and its growth rates have reached. Compared to the economies of other countries of the world. 

These determinants presented by the Chinese President are not fundamentally different from those presented in the final statement of the summit, which represents the policies of the Shanghai Organization countries in general.

While the most prominent idea in Joe Biden’s essay “Why America Must Lead Again” is his determination during the first year of his administration to hold an international summit, and invite to it the leaders of those countries, which are considered by America as democraciesand “free world”, these classifications, as it has become known, means in the Western dictionary the colonial powers, and American allies. Civil society organizations will also be invitedto that summit, these organizations are the preferred tool of western and American intelligence agencies to tamper with the internal affairs of sovereign states and create political instability, and this summit aims, according to the article, to confront the (autocratic regimes), promote democracy and the liberal ideology that are threatened, according to Biden. The article adds that the United States of America will take its natural seat at the head of the table to organize the affairs of the world, because otherwise the world could plunge into chaos As Biden claimed, President-elect Joe Biden vowed in the article ” As president, I will take immediate steps to renew U.S. democracy and alliances, protect the United States’ economic future, and once more have America lead the world”. 

The colonial tone in the language of Biden’s article towards the world and the cultures and civilizations of other nations can easily be observed. This language is consistent with the history of successive American administrations and the colonial West in general. The difference between the Shanghai Organization Group’s rhetoric calling on human civilizations to get to learn from each other, and a Western-American discourse seeking to impose its own ideology on the rest of the earth, while striking, is not new. But what was remarkable  was the Chinese president’s call in his speech to invest in Chinese economic opportunities, which It will help those countries achieve prosperity, he said, while Biden wanton to talk about the importance of liberal ideology and the need to confront countries that don’t embrace the liberal approachlike China  or those that he considers a threat to the liberals like Putin’s Russia, without talking about the economic temptations for those countries that will adopt the ideology of the Western concept and the democratic formula in the management of their social and economic systems, or for those countries that will join the United States in what sounds like an ideological war to spread the liberal ideology. Biden said that the United States of America, along with its democratic allies, make up half of the world’s economy, and that this is a number that China cannot ignore, alluding to economic sanctions. Biden’s article did not include mention of any economic incentives to those countries that will follow its leadership in its planned campaign against its opponents in China and Russia and those other countries that are opposing American hegemony, while American rhetoric has made such promises alongside ideological discourse in the past decades during the period of confrontation with the socialist camp and the Cold War. And this perhaps reflects the decline in the American economy in this era.

This brief comparison between the Chinese president’s speech and Joe Biden’s article could shine a light on some of the differences between the current phase and the Cold War era, and this comparison may help toconceptualize the possibilities of the confrontation outcome between America and China at the moment. However, the liberal ideology of The United States of America is still likely to be shaken by the shake-up of the American throne in the world, and as a result of the emergence of strong global movements opposing this ideology and the Western dictatorial ways to impose it on the rest of the peoples of the earth regardless of their cultural heritage and moral values. As well as a result of the emergence of the destructive effects of liberal ideology on societies and the concept of the family, dismantling the moral system of society in exchange for the freedom of the individual without any constraints. Not to mention the depletion of the natural resources of the planet because of the economic policies associated with the liberal ideology that threatens the very existence of human beings.

صراع الإمبراطوريات في كلمة شي ومقال جو بايدن

عربى 21-الرئيسية

عمرو علان  

جريدة الأخبار

الجمعة 4 كانون الأول 2020

تجدر المقارنة بين ما جاء في كلمة الرئيس الصيني شي جين بينغ التي ألقاها في قمة منظمة شانغهاي العشرين الأخيرة وبين ما جاء في مقال الرئيس الأمريكي المنتخب جو بايدن الذي أعادت نشره مؤخرا مجلة (فورن أفيرز)، والذي حدد فيه جو بايدن أهم ملامح سياساته إذا ما اُنتخب رئيسا سادسا وأربعين للولايات المتحدة الأمريكية. 

رسم الرئيس شي جين بينغ في كلمته صورة عن طبيعة السياسات الخارجية الصينية ومحدداتها، وكان أهمها التشديد على فكرة التعددية القطبية في إدارة شؤون العالم تحت مظلة المنظومة الدولية في مواجهة الأحادية القطبية، وركزت الكلمة على وجوب دعم جهود الدول لتحقيق أجنداتها المحلية بما يؤمن استقرارها السياسي والاجتماعي الداخلي، مع التشديد على رفض تدخلات القوى الخارجية في الشؤون الداخلية لدول منظمة شانغهاي تحت أي ذرائع كانت، وأكد الرئيس الصيني في كلمته على أن الحضارات الإنسانية متكافئة لا أفضلية لإحداها على الأُخرى، وأن لكل منها ما يميزها، وأكد كذلك على ضرورة تشجيع التعارف فيما بين الحضارات الإنسانية، بالإضافة إلى تدعيم علاقات حسن الجوار والصداقات فيما بين الدول، وأضاف الرئيس شي جين بينغ أن الصين لا يمكنها تحقيق التطور بمعزل عن العالم، وبأن العالم يحتاج الصين لتحقيق الرخاء داعيا الجميع إلى البناء على حركة النمو الصينية والإفادة منها، ولعله استند في دعوته تلك إلى مبادرة الحزام والطريق الصينية وإلى ما وصل إليه حجم الاقتصاد الصيني ومعدلات نموّه مقارنة باقتصادات دول العالم الأخرى، ولا تختلف هذه المحددات التي عرضها الرئيس الصيني في جوهرها عما جاء عليه البيان الختامي للقمة المنعقدة الذي يمثل سياسات دول منظمة شانغهاي عموماً.

بينما نجد أن الفكرة الأبرز التي وردت في مقال جو بايدن المُشار إليه، الذي جاء تحت عنوان “لماذا يجب على أمريكا أن تقود مجدداً”، هي عزمه خلال السنة الأولى من حكمه على عقد قمة دولية، يدعو إليها زعماء تلك الدول التي تعدها أمريكا ديموقراطيات ودول “العالم الحر”، وهذه التصنيفات حسب ما بات معروفاً تعني في القاموس الغربي الدول الاستعمارية في الأصل، وبعض الدول الأخرى التي ترتضي الدوران في الفلك الأمريكي، وسيتم أيضاً دعوة منظمات المجتمع المدني إلى تلك القمة، وهذه المنظمات تعد الأداة المفضلة لدى أجهزة الاستخبارات الغربية والأمريكية للعبث في الشؤون الداخلية للدول ذات السيادة وإثارة حالة عدم الاستقرار السياسي، وتهدف هذه القمة حسب المقال إلى مواجهة النظم “الأوتوقراطية”، وتدعيم الديموقراطية وترسيخ نشر الأفكار الليبرالية التي باتت مهددة على حد قول بايدن، ويضيف المقال بأن الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية ستأخذ مقعدها الطبيعي على رأس الطاولة لتنظيم شؤون العالم، لأن ما دون ذلك يمكن أن يغرق العالم في الفوضى على حد زعم بايدن، ويتعهد الرئيس المنتخب جو بايدن في المقال بالآتي: “كرئيس، سآخذ خطوات فورية لتجديد ديموقراطية الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وتحالفاتها، وأحمي مستقبل الاقتصاد الأمريكي، وأعيد أمريكا لقيادة العالم مجدداً”.

يمكن بسهولة ملاحظة النبرة الاستعمارية في لغة مقال بايدن اتجاه دول العالم واتجاه ثقافات وحضارات الأمم الأخرى، وتنسجم هذه اللغة مع تاريخ تعامل الإدارات الأمريكية المتعاقبة والغرب الاستعماري عموماً مع الآخر، والفرق جلي بين خطاب مجموعة منظمة شانغهاي الذي يدعو الحضارات البشرية إلى التعارف فيما بينها، وبين خطاب أمريكي غربي يسعى إلى فرض أيدولوجيته الليبرالية على سائر شعوب الأرض، ولا جديد في هذا، لكن اللافت كان في دعوة الرئيس الصيني في كلمته الدول الأخرى إلى الاستثمار في الفرص الاقتصادية الصينية، مما سيساعد تلك الدول على تحقيق الرخاء كما قال، بينما انصرف بايدن في مقاله إلى الحديث عن أهمية الأيدولوجيا الليبرالية وضرورة مواجهة الدول التي لا تعتنق الليبرالية منهجاً كالصين أو تلك التي عدها تشكل تهديداً للبرالية كروسيا بوتين،دون أن يتحدث عن مغريات اقتصادية لتلك الدول التي ستتبنى الفكر الليبرالي والصيغة الديموقراطية بالمفهوم الغربي في إدارة نُظُمِها الاجتماعية والاقتصادية، أو تلك الدول التي ستنضم للولايات المتحدة الأمريكية في ما يشبه الحرب العقدية لنشر الفكر الليبرالي حول العالم، وقال بايدن أن الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية مع حلفائها الديموقراطيين يشكلون نصف اقتصاد العالم، وأن هذا رقم لا يمكن للصين تجاهله فيما يعد تلميحاً إلى العقوبات الاقتصادية، واللافت في هذا خلو الخطاب الأمريكي من الوعود بالرفاه الاقتصادي والرخاء للدول التي تسعى إلى قيادتها في حملتها المزمعة على خصومها في الصين وروسيا وعلى تلك الدول الأخرى التي تشق عصا الطاعة على الهيمنة الأمريكية، بينما كان يقدم الخطاب الأمريكي مثل هكذا وعود إلى جانب الخطاب الأيديولوجي في العقود الماضية خلال فترة مواجهة المعسكر الاشتراكي والحرب الباردة سابقاً، ولعل هذا يعكس حقيقة التراجع في الاقتصاد الأمريكي في هذه الحقبة. 

يمكن أن تضيء هذه المقارنة المقتضبة بين خطاب الرئيس الصيني وبين مقال جو بايدن على بعض أوجه الاختلاف بين المرحلة الحالية وبين مرحلة الحرب الباردة إبان حقبة الاتحاد السوفيتي، ولعل هذه المقارنة تساعد على رسم تصور لاحتماليات مآلات المواجهة الحاصلة بين أمريكا والصين حالياً، ولكن يظل المرجح أن يهتز النهج الليبرالي مع اهتزاز عرش الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية في العالم، ونتيجة لظهور تيارات عالمية قوية تعارض هذا النهج وتعارض دكتاتورية الغرب التي تحاول فرضه على باقي شعوب الأرض بغض النظر عن الموروث الثقافي والحضاري لتلك الشعوب، وكذلك نتيجة لظهور الآثار الهدامة لهذا النهج على المجتمَعات في ضرب مفهوم الأسرة، وتفكيك المنظومة الأخلاقية للمجتمع في مقابل حرية الفرد المنفلتة من كل الضوابط، ناهيك عن استنزاف الموارد الطبيعية لكوكب الأرض بسبب السياسات الاقتصادية المرتبطة بالنهج الليبرالي مما بات يهدد الوجود البشري ذاته.

CHAOS AND ARMED CONFLICTS: U.S. STRATEGY TO DISMANTLE RUSSIA IS ALREADY WORKING

South Front

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

In 2020, there have been several notable developments, that all seem to have been happening along Russia’s borders and in key regions developments in which influencing the Russian position on the international scene.

These include:

  • Ukraine’s refusal to seek peace in its East with the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and various questionable policies.
  • Western-backed protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, with a ‘school teacher-turned-politician’ challenging him with an insignificant share of the vote in the presidential election. She received wide support from the West, especially from heavily US-aligned states such as Poland and the Baltics.
  • The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other groups in Syria are being supported openly, and not so openly, by the United States and sabotage the further diplomatic settlement of the conflict in Syria.
  • The situation in Central Asia is rather exacerbated, with an evident increase in ISIS activity in Afghanistan, alongside various terrorist elements appearing near its borders with Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) countries. The Russian Security Service – FSB – is hard at work in countering various ISIS and other terror cells on the territory of the Russian Federation, and reports such as these are frequent, meaning that there appears to be a network that is successful in either moving terrorist elements into the country, or recruiting them there.
  • There also was the Armenian-Azerbaijan War in Nagorno-Karabakh, which Russia didn’t directly involve itself in, since the fight was for the self-proclaimed independent republic of Artsakh, and Armenia never officially asked for assistance. Regardless, with the Peace Deal it brokered on November 10th, there have been numerous voices in Armenia blaming Russia for the defeat. And that is even though it essentially saved it from an even bigger fiasco and loss of territory. At the same time, despite being the victor, Azerbaijan simply received what it was promised with the Minsk agreements, with the addition of Shusha. There are protests against Russia in Azerbaijan, a country in which any non-government sanctioned protest is snuffed, violently. There are calls that Russia stole the “glorious victory”, while in Armenia there are calls to renew hostilities, while the Russian peacekeepers are there and somehow force their hand in the fight.
  • Turkey deployed thousands of Syrian militants to South Caucasus, and there are claims that it is even reportedly attempting to relocate families from Syria’s Afrin and other areas to the parts of Karabakh that were given to Azerbaijan. This is likely to also provide a fresh extremist presence in the region.
  • Turkey, once again, appeared to be shifting its gaze towards Crimea, but also cooperate with Ukraine in terms of selling UAVs to it and other military equipment.

All of these developments, somehow, almost entirely coincide with a report which the RAND Corporation released back in 2019.

The report is called “Extending Russia” with the subtitle “Competing from Advantageous Ground.” A short description of the report reads the following:

“The steps we posit would not have either defense or deterrence as their prime purpose, although they might contribute to both. Rather, these steps are conceived of as measures that would lead Russia to compete in domains or regions where the United States has a competitive advantage, causing Russia to overextend itself militarily or economically or causing the regime to lose domestic and/or international prestige and influence. This report deliberately covers a wide range of military, economic, and political policy options. Its recommendations are directly relevant to everything from military modernization and force posture to economic sanctions and diplomacy; consequently, it speaks to all the military services, other parts of U.S. government that have a hand in foreign policy, and the broader foreign and defense policy audience.”

Notably, the report suggests that the following “Geopolitical measures” need to be employed in order to counter Russia’s spreading influence and capabilities to provide an adequate answer to an extraordinary situation.

This chapter describes six possible U.S. moves in the current geopolitical competition:

  • providing lethal arms to Ukraine,
  • resuming support to the Syrian rebels,
  • promoting regime change in Belarus,
  • exploiting Armenian and Azeri tensions,
  • intensifying attention to Central Asia,
  • isolating Transnistria (a Russian-occupied enclave within Moldova).

There are several other possible geopolitical moves discussed in other RAND research but not directly evaluated here—including intensifying NATO’s relationship with Sweden and Finland, pressuring Russia’s position in the Arctic, and checking Russia’s attempts to secure its influence in Asia.

Ukraine

Between 2014 and 2016, the US provided $600 million in security assistance to Ukraine. These funds have been used to train Ukrainian military forces and provided nonlethal military equipment, including counterartillery and countermortar radars, secure communications, logistics systems, tactical unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, and medical equipment.

According to RAND, the US could increase its military assistance to Ukraine, or increase its calls to allow Kiev into NATO.

“Expanding U.S. assistance to Ukraine, including lethal military assistance, would likely increase the costs to Russia, in both blood and treasure, of holding the Donbass region. More Russian aid to the

separatists and an additional Russian troop presence would likely be required, leading to larger expenditures, equipment losses, and Russian casualties. The latter could become quite controversial at home, as it did when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.”

Eastern Ukraine is already a significant drain on Russian resources, exacerbated by the accompanying Western sanctions. Increasing U.S. military aid would certainly drive up the Russian costs, but doing so could also increase the loss of Ukrainian lives and territory or result in a disadvantageous peace settlement. This would generally be seen as a serious setback for U.S. policy.

What’s going on in reality? There appears to be no conclusive peace settlement in Ukraine, and anti-Russian policy continues moving forward full speed. The Kiev regime, at large controlled from Washington, is intentionally sabotaging attempts to de-escalate the situation and publicly preparing for a new military operation in eastern Ukraine. Recently, pro-Kiev sources started laying great hopes on the Turkish military aid. For sure, the US is also involved. In August 2020, incoming US President Joe Biden promised to provide Ukraine with even more lethal weapons. In late 2019, the Trump administration also approved several sales of “defensive lethal weapons” to Ukraine.

As such this part of RAND’s suggestion appears to be moving, more or less, according to plan.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Syria

“In 2015, Russia’s intervention in Syria cost an estimated $2.4 million to $4 million a day, according to the Moscow Times and IHS Janes’ estimates. 34 Given the size of Russia’s defense budget ($50 billion that year), the sum might not be significant in and of itself.”

Increased U.S. support to the so-called ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition could perpetuate and intensify a civil war that had begun to wind down, thereby imposing attritional costs on both Russia and Iran.

RAND believes that such support should also reduce the “moderate opposition’s” reliance on the better-armed, more extremist groups and ultimately might improve the willingness and ability of moderate opposition forces to combat the “more extremist elements.” Now, first of all RAND doesn’t even deny that the most of “moderate opposition” is made up of extremists, who are fighting against even more extreme elements.

At the same time, the reality of the situation is this: the US, with all its claims of complete withdrawal from Syria, simply employed the SDF separatist leadership as a tool of sabotaging the peace settlement in Syria, while Washington is looting Syria’s oil fields. US companies exploit Syrian oil resources. Some of the money is used to bankroll the SDF.

The Russian side has repeatedly also claimed that ISIS and ISIS-affiliated fighters were being trained and received improved weaponry in the US-controlled areas of Syria.

Unlike Ukraine, the United States does not have a single actor to aid in the fight in Syria but rather faces a plethora of groups—often with murky affiliations—increasing the chances of weapons falling into the wrong hands.

“Supporting the rebels could run counter to the most prominent objective of the Trump administration’s Middle East foreign policy—fighting radical Islamist terrorism.”

In the highly unlikely event of total success—if Russia were to abandon the Assad government and the opposition were to somehow ‘defeat’ Damascus—the result would be a major geopolitical setback for Moscow but also a major contraction in its foreign commitments and associated expenditures, not to mention a huge responsibility for the United States and its allies to assume.

At the same time, it appears that supporting the “moderate rebels” isn’t proving effective enough and Israel is picking up the slack with targeting various Syrian and alleged Iranian positions in the areas under Damascus’ control.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Essentially, there were some attempts, but none of them are any significant, since the fight in Syria appears to be too far gone.

Likewise, according to RAND, this course of action might have been viable a few years ago, when the armed opposition was stronger and less radicalized. Under current circumstances, the most that expanded U.S. aid could likely do would be to perpetuate a conflict that has already destabilized an entire region. Russia might be forced to pay a bit more for its Syrian commitment but only at the cost of continued regional turbulence, societal radicalization, and increased civilian casualties and displaced personnel.

Belarus

Belarus is Russia’s neighbour and important ally. It provides a buffer between Russia and major NATO countries and is the initial link in Russia’s ground lines of communication between the mainland and Kaliningrad— the Russian enclave entirely encircled by Lithuania and Poland. Already host to Russian forces, Belarus features prominently in many notional conflicts among the United States, NATO, and Russia.

In a zero-sum world, denying Russia its one and only true ally would be a clear geopolitical and ideological gain for the West. It would bring an end to “Europe’s last dictatorship,” a long-standing U.S. policy goal.

“Starting revolutions is not easy, and the United States lending public support to opposition movements does not guarantee that they will be successful. In 2007, Gallup found that 60 percent of Belarusian respondents believed democracy was important and 47 percent believed it was “somewhat” or “very” important for Belarus to have an active opposition party.”

RAND considered regime change in Belarus as one of the most significant escalations, but the attempts have all but failed, and with Russia actually not having to lift a finger.

Even despite Lukashenko attempt to get some concessions from Russia prior to the protests in the country.

“Promoting regime change in Belarus is one of the most escalatory options considered in this report. Such an effort probably would not succeed and could provoke a strong Russian response, including the possibility of military action. Such a reaction might extend Russia by requiring the nation to commit resources to preserve its grasp over Belarus, thereby provoking the United States and its European allies to respond with harsher sanctions, but the result would be a general deterioration of the security environment in Europe and a setback for U.S. policy.”

Currently, protests in Belarus are still on-going, but they’ve barely achieved any real progress in the regime change agenda. However, the Western/NATO interference in the internal situation in Belarus is an undeniable fact.

Lukashenko may be making some interesting claims regarding Russia, or attempting to play tough in order to get a discount from Moscow on natural gas, or some other commodity, but at the same time is wise enough to continue actively communicating with Russian President Vladimir Putin and remain a formal ally.

Nagorno-Karabah: Armenia and Azerbaijan

The RAND analysis begins with reminding that in 2008, the Georgian-Russian relations with damaged severely, after a few days of war and the resulting South Ossetia and Abkhazia as separate countries.

Russia also plays a key role with Azerbaijan and Armenia, particularly over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ethnically Armenian but geographically located within Azerbaijan, Nagorno- Karabakh’s bid to join the Armenia Soviet Socialist Republic during the latter years of the Soviet Union was denied by the Soviet Politburo because of the risk of encouraging secessionist movements elsewhere.

According to RAND, the United States could extend Russia in the Caucasus in two ways. First, the United States could push for a closer NATO relationship with Georgia and Azerbaijan, likely leading Russia to strengthen its military presence in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Armenia, and southern Russia.

Alternatively, the United States could try to induce Armenia to break with Russia.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

“Increased U.S. involvement in the region could produce additional economic benefits as well. The Caspian Sea remains a key producer of both oil and natural gas. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that there are “48 billion barrels of oil and 292 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and probable reserves in the Caspian basins. Almost 75 percent of oil reserves and 67 percent of natural gas reserves are located within 100 miles of the coast.”

According to the analysis, resolving Nagorno-Karabakh is likely a prerequisite to Armenia breaking with Russia, but it is unclear precisely how the United States or NATO could resolve the decades-old conflict without privileging one side and antagonizing the other. NATO has encouraged both parties to resolve the conflict through the Minsk Group—led by the Russians.

Currently, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the six-week war that started on September 27th, 2020 was due to several factors.

Notably, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, as an avid supporter of the West worked to the benefit of what RAND describes and distanced Armenia from Russia with questionable policy.

In turn, Turkey, in support of Azerbaijan saw a chance, prepared and began to largely pull the strings on Baku’s offensive on the region.

Still, Russia managed to somehow salvage the situation for Yerevan, by brokering a peace deal which saw Azerbaijan get what it was supposed to be given under the Minsk Agreements, with the addition of Shusha.

Pashinyan, however, continued blaming Russia, the Armenian population, foreign countries and such for the failure and the gross mismanagement of Armenia’s forces in the war.

Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev presents the war as “gloriously won” but there are some elements which are protesting and claiming that Moscow actually robbed Baku of its “glorious victory.”

There are anti-Russian protests, in a country in which all non-government approved protests are violently stopped.

The US made some claims for peace and so on, as did many Western countries, with France even attempting to somehow mediate the conflict, but only barely.

Paris attempted to prove itself as a valuable ally to Armenia, but in the end, it simply said “we are with you, our Armenian brothers” and all they provided were empty words.

In Armenia, in order for Pashinyan and the pro-Western leadership to remain, political arrests of the opposition began. As such, support for Russia still remains rather low, and it is playing to the measure that RAND outlined in April 2019. In the current conditions, pro-Western forces in the region would continue their efforts to destabilize the region creating chaos near the Russian border and setting conditions for the NATO expansion there.

Central Asia

Russia is part of two economic ventures related to Central Asia: the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative. Russia has benefited from both, although in the case of the former, partners might have been harmed economically. There might be steps the United States and allies could take to reduce Russia’s benefits from both of these.

Engaging more with Central Asia could have modest benefits. Expanding Central Asian connectivity to the rest of the world could reduce that area’s trade with Russia. It must be noted, however, that economic growth within these countries would likely have the opposite effect and increase their trade with Russia because economic size and trade are correlated.

Now, little of this has succeeded in the year. Notably, and not in the vein which RAND describes is that militant activity in Afghanistan, as well as along its borders with the CSTO countries has increased, which Russia sees as a threat.

There are frequent reports of the FSB arresting various terrorist elements that either came from Central Asian republics or were recruited from groups from there. There is little evidence that the US has anything to do with that, but there are some reports that unknown black hawks have been extracting militants from all around, and they’ve resurfaced in northern Afghanistan, after a while.

The US efforts to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and is attempting to counter various projects in the Eurasian Economic Union, which Russia is part of such as the Nord Stream 2, but they are unrelated to Central Asia. In conclusion, regarding this, RAND appears to be a bit far from what’s been carried out, or if such measures are being implemented – they’re not being effective.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Moldova

Transnistria is a Russian-speaking enclave within Moldova that currently hosts a Russian peacekeeping force and army base.

Officially, Russian policy toward Transnistria is ambiguous. Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept includes only a single, rather inarticulate statement:

Russia strongly advocates a political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts in the post-Soviet space, specifically, Russia works within the existing multilateral negotiating mechanism to find an inclusive solution to the Transnistrian issue, respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral status of the Republic of Moldova in determining the special status of Transnistria.

The United States could encourage Transnistria’s youth (who, according to some journalistic accounts, might be more pro-West than their elders) to push their pseudo-state to leave the Russian orbit.

Moldovan cooperation in an effort to expel the Russians would not be easy to secure. In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon stated, “A NATO office in Chisinau [Moldova’s capital], in a neutral country, is a provocation. I do not want this. I want neither NATO nor this Russia-led [military] alliance as far as armed forces are concerned.”

There’s been very limited movement throughout 2020, but it is likely that activities have been more focused on Belarus, Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, and Moldova has been left for sometime in the near (or far future). The pro-Western presidential candidate, Maia Sandu, won the 2020 election in Moldova, and she’s already promoting the ideal of the need of the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping force from Transnistria. This move sets conditions for the increase of instability.

RAND’s General Recommendations

Extending Russia through geopolitical competition is a fundamentally difficult and dangerous proposition. One might bait Russia into extending its foreign commitments, but only at the risk of serious setbacks to local U.S. partners. Even if such efforts succeeded in generating Russian withdrawals, the result would be the opposite of an extension.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Any geopolitical moves to extend Russia would also need to consider other options that (for reasons of length and resources) were not considered here in depth—namely, intensifying NATO’s cooperation with Sweden and Finland, pressuring Russia’s claims in the Arctic, and checking its influence in the Arctic.

Many of these are not exactly spot on, and whether they’re entirely connected to what’s going on comes down to conspiracy theories. However, it is fact that within a year and a half of the publishing, many of these recommendations have been implemented.

There has been a regime change attempt in Belarus, which is still on-going. Armenia and Azerbaijan went to warn for Nagorno-Karabakh, and Russia had to mediate, deploy peacekeepers and further resources, as well as is being accused of both sides for either losing the war for Armenia, or stealing away a bigger victory for Azerbaijan.

Militants are being delivered to South Caucasus, and even families are being relocated there from Syria.

The US and the “moderate rebels” in Syria are still operating, albeit not as actively as before, but Israel is there to provide assistance by bombing Syrian and alleged Iranian targets.

Attempts to spread chaos in Central Asia are apparent, and the FSB continues arresting various extremist elements, but there are likely more who are roaming around and entering the country through various channels.

It is unknown what will happen in Moldova, as of yet, but the trend is alredy seen.

Another thing that could be added is cooperating with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, assisting in the forming of the autonomous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, making pushes to repeat that questionable “success” in other countries such as Montenegro, and more.

Regardless, pressure on Moscow is being exerted from quite a few directions, at the same time, and it is unlikely that under US President Joe Biden this will end. After all, his chosen aides all plan to improve relations with allies, while countering Russia’s spreading influence. Namely in Ukraine, since Biden appears to have a soft spot for the country from which he and his son allegedly funneled billions. Ukraine, and Eastern Ukraine, could also be the best direction from which to target Russia.

Things are still developing on many fronts, and the pieces are yet to fall squarely on the board.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

China’s Reaction to a US Unannounced visit to Taiwan – PressTV Interview

By Peter Koenig

Global Research, November 24, 2020

Background

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is US_Taiwan-400x267.jpg

China has reacted strongly to a senior US official’s unannounced visit to Taiwan, warning that it will take legitimate and necessary action according to circumstances.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman reiterated Beijing’s firm opposition to any official ties between Taiwan and the US. The reaction came after the media cited sources, including a Taiwanese official, as saying that US Navy’s Rear-Admiral Michael Studeman was on a trip to the self-ruled island. He’s the director of an agency which oversees intelligence at the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command. The administration of US President Donald Trump has recently ramped up support for Taiwan, including with the approval of new arms sales and high-level visits. Beijing has long warned against such moves. China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and maintains its sovereignty over the region under the One-China policy.

Interview of Peter Koenig with Press TV

***

PK

China has of course every right to protest against any visit and any US intervention in Taiwan, be it weapons sales, or provoking conflict over Taiwan self-declared “sovereignty” which it clearly has not, as it is but a breakaway part of Mainland China.

By and large this looks to me like one of Trump’s last Lame Duck movements to do whatever he can to ruin relations between the US and China.

In reality, it will have no impact of significance.
In fact, China’s approach to Taiwan over the past 70 years, has been one of non-aggression. With various attempts of rapprochement – which most of the times were actually disrupted by US interference – as Taiwan is used by the US, not because Washington has an interest in Taiwan’s “democracy’ – not at all – but Taiwan is a tool for Washington to seek destabilizing China – not dissimilar to what is going on in Hong Kong, or Xinjiang, the Uyghur Autonomous Region, or Tibet.

But China’s objectives are long-term and with patience – and not with force.

Just look at China’s recently signed Trade Agreement with 14 countries – the so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This agreement alone is the largest in significance and volume of its kind ever signed in recent history. It covers countries with some 2.2. billion people and controlling about one third of world GDP.

And the US is not part of it.
Worse, the US-dollar is not even a trading currency.
This must upset the US particularly – especially since the 2-year trade war Trump was waging against China resulted in absolutely zilch – nothing – for the US. To the contrary, it pushed China towards more independence and away from the US.

The same applied to Chinese partners, happy to have honest trading partners, not of the western, especially the Washington-type, that dish out sanctions when they please and when they don’t like sovereign countries’ behavior.

So – no worries for China, but geopolitically, of course, they must react to such acts against international rules of diplomacy.

——
PressTV:
What will change under President Biden?

PK

Most likely nothing. To the contrary, Biden’s likely Secretary of Defense, Michèle Flournoy, played an important behind the scene role in the Obama Administration. She has not changed the aggressive position of Obama’s “pivot to Asia” which essentially consisted in surrounding China with weapons systems and in particular stationing about 60% of the US navy fleet in the South China Sea.

Though at this point, it looks like China is but the target of an off-scale aggression by President Trump, in reality, China is part of a long-term policy of the US, not only to contain China, but to dominate China.

As we see, though, to no avail.

Interestingly, China does not respond with counter-aggression, instead she moves steadily forward with new creations, towards an objective that does not seek domination, but a multi-polar, multi-connected world, via, for example, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – not the type of globalization that especially the Biden camp – along with the corporatocracy behind the World Economic Forum (WEF) is seeking.

The US empire is on the decline and China, of course, is aware of it. Washington may be lashing around in its deteriorating times, to create as much damage as possible and to bring down as many nations as they can. Case in point is the constant aggression, sanctions and punishment against Iran and Venezuela – but here too, these two countries are moving gradually away from the west and into the peaceful orbit of China – pursuing after all a shared bright future for mankind.


Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.
Peter is also co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Flying Dragon, Crashing Eagle

Flying Dragon, Crashing Eagle

November 23, 2020

by Pepe Escobar and first posted at Asia Times

Four geoeconomic summits compressed in one week tell the story of where we stand in these supremely dystopian times.

The (virtual) signing of RCEP in Vietnam was followed by the equally virtual BRICS meeting hosted by Moscow, the APEC meeting hosted by Malaysia, and the G20 this past weekend hosted by Saudi Arabia.

Cynics have not failed to note the spectacular theater of the absurd of having the Top 20 – at least in theory – economies discussing what is arguably the turning point in the world-system linked to a beheading-friendly desert oil hacienda with a 7th century mentality.

The Riyadh declaration did its best to lift the somber planetary mood, vowing to deploy “all available policy tools” (no precise details) to contain Covid-19 and heroically “save” the global economy by “advancing” global pandemic preparedness, vaccine development and distribution – in tandem with debt relief – for the Global South.

Not a peep about The Great Reset – the Brave New World scheme concocted by Herr Schwab of Davos and fully supported by the IMF, Big Tech, transnational Big Capital interests and the oh so benign Prince Charles. Meanwhile, off the record, G20 sherpas moaned about the lack of real global governance and multiple attacks on multilateralism.

And not a peep as well about the real life vaccine war between the expensive Western candidates – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca – and the much cheaper Russia-China versions – Sputnik V and Sinovac.

What seems to be the case is that any agenda – sinister or otherwise – fits the one-size-fits-all vow by the G20 to provide “opportunities of the 21st century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers.”

The House of Xi

At the G20, President Xi Jinping did not waste the chance – after RCEP, BRICS and APEC – to once again emphasize China’s priorities: multilateralism, support for WTO reform, ample international cooperation on vaccine research and production.

But then, in tandem with reducing tariffs and facilitating the trade of crucial medical supplies, Xi proposed a global health QR code – a sound way to restore global travel and trade: “While containing the virus, we need to restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains.”

Predictably, there were howls about neo-Orwellian intrusion, comparing the QR code with the exceptionally misunderstood Chinese credit system. Herr Schwab’s Great Reset in fact proposes something similar, with even more neo-Orwellian overtones, disguised under an innocent “Covid Pass” app, or highly secure “health passport”.

What Xi has proposed amounts to just a mutual recognition of health certificates, issued by different nations, based on nucleic acid tests. No gene altering vaccines coupled with nanochips. These QR codes, incorporated to health apps, are already used for domestic travel in China.

Chinese officials have made it very clear that Beijing has been working as the representative of the Global South inside the G20. That’s multilateralism in action. And the multilateralist drive extends from RCEP – signed between 15 nations – to the brilliant Sun Tzu maneuver of China now accepting even the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the successor of the Obama-promoted and Trump-detonated TPP.

This revival – a case of Make TPP Chinese Again – can be envisaged because Beijing not only has mastered how to contain Covid-19 but is also recovering in lightning speed. China will be the only major economy growing in 2020 – de facto leading the world to a tentative post-Covid paradigm.

What the APEC meeting made crystal clear is that with East Asia graphically hitting the economic limelight, as seen with RCEP, much vaunted US “leadership” inevitably diminishes.

APEC promoted a so-called Putrajaya Vision 2040, condensing an “open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful” Asia-Pacific all the way to 2040. That neatly ties in with the three accumulated five-year Chinese plans all the way to 2035, approved last month at the CCP plenum in Beijing.

The emphasis, once again, is on multilateralism and an open global economy.

Few are more capable to capture the moment than Professor Wang Yiwei at the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University, who wrote the best Chinese book on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Wang stresses how China is in a period of “strategic opportunity” and is now “the most powerful leader of globalization”. China’s emphasis on multilateralism will “activate the connectivity and vitality of a trade platform like RCEP”.

Stranger than fiction

Now compare all of the above with Trump at the G20 tweeting about the election dystopia and privileging golfing instead of discussing Covid-19 containment.

And then there’s

The Elements of the China Challenge, the new 74-page delusional epic concocted by the office of secretary Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo.

Diplomatic howls comparing it with the notorious George Kennan “long telegram” that codified the containment of the USSR in the Cold War are nonsense. Chinese Foreign Ministry reaction was more to the point: this was concocted by some “living fossils of the Cold War” and is doomed to end up “being consigned to the dustbin of history”.

President Xi Jinping, at RCEP, BRICS, APEC and the G20, concisely laid out the Chinese case: multilateralism, international cooperation on multiple fields, an open global economy, due representation of Global South’s interests.

As we wait for a set of imponderables all the way to January 20, 2021, perhaps an angular approach to what may lie ahead for the world economy is best offered by fiction.

Enter Billions, season 5, episode 2, dialogue written by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Axe: “You know they call us traders ‘gamblers’. The world’s economy is one big casino, fueled by a giant debt bubble and computer driven derivatives. And there’s only one thing better than being a gambler at a casino.”

Wags: “That’s being the house.”

Axe: “That’s right. There’s a systemized machine out there, sucking capital from localities and injecting it into the global markets, where it can be used to speculate and manipulate. And if something goes wrong there are bailouts and bail-ins, federal aid and easing. Where the government doesn’t hunt you down, but instead gives you a nice soft net to land in.”

Wags: “That’s your answer to the fireside chat: You want to become a bank.”

Axe: “I want to become a bank.”

Wags: “In order to rob it?”

Axe: “In order that I don’t have to.”

The China Moment

The China Moment

November 19, 2020

by Peter Koenig for The Saker Blog

China has achieved the almost impossible – a free trade agreement with 14 countries – the ten ASEAN, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, altogether 15 countries, including China. The so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was in negotiations during eight years – and achieved to pull together a group of countries for free trade, i.e. some 2.2 billion people, commanding some 30% of the world’s GDP. This is a never before reached agreement in size, value and tenor. The RCEP was signed during the 37th ASEAN Summit on 11 November in Vietnam.

On top of being the largest such trade agreement in human history, it also associates with and binds to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or One Belt, One Road (OBOR), or also called the New Silk Road, which in itself comprises already more than 130 countries and more than 30 international organizations. In addition, China and Russia have a longstanding strategic partnership, containing bilateral agreements that also enter into this new trade fold – plus the countries of the Central Asia Economic Union (CAEU), consisting mostly of former Soviet Republics, are also integrated into this eastern trade block.

The conglomerate of agreements and sub-agreements between Asian-Pacific countries that will cooperate with RCEP, is bound together by for the west a little-understood Asian Pact, called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai as an intergovernmental organization composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO’s purpose is to ensure security and maintain stability across the vast Eurasian region, join forces to counteract emerging challenges and threats, and enhance trade, as well as cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

Much of the funding for RCEP and BRI projects will be in the form of low-cost loans from China’s Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and other Chinese and participating countries’ national funding sources. In the hard times emerging from the covid crisis, many countries may need grant assistance to be able to recover as quickly as possible their huge socioeconomic losses created by the pandemic. In this sense, it is likely that the new Silk Road may enhance a special “Health Road” across the Asian Continent.

See map (Wikipedia).

The real beauty of this RCEP agreement is that it pursues a steady course forward, despite all the adversities imposed by the west, foremost the US of A. In fact, the RCEP may, as “byproduct”, integrate the huge Continent of Eurasia that spans all the way from western Europe to what is called Asia and covering the Middle East as well as North Africa, of some 55 million square kilometers (km2).

The crux of the RCEP agreement’s trade deals is that they will be carried out in local currencies and in yuan – no US dollars. The RCEP is a massive instrument for dedollarizing, primarily the Asia-Pacific Region, and gradually the rest of the world.

Much of the BRI infrastructure investments, or New Silk Road, may be funded by other currencies than the US dollar. China’s new digital Renminbi (RMB) or yuan soon being rolled out internationally as legal tender for international payments and transfers, will drastically reduce the use of the dollar. The new digital RMB will become attractive for many countries which are fed up with being subjected to US sanctions, because using the US-dollar, they automatically become vulnerable to being punished with dollar blockages, confiscations of resources, whenever their international “behavior” doesn’t conform with the mandates of Washington’s.

Even country reserves can be stolen, a crime perpetrated by Washington with impunity and with the help of the UK, in full sight of the world, stealing 1.2 billion dollars’ worth of Venezuelan gold deposited with the Bank of England. Only a cumbersome lengthy legal process in UK courts initiated by Venezuela could eventually free the funds to be returned to the jurisdiction of Caracas. This is a warning for many countries, who want to jump the fiat-dollar-ship and join an honest trading and reserve currency, offered by China’s solid and stable economy-backed RMB / yuan.

The dollar is already today in decline. When some 20-25 years ago about 90% of all worldwide held reserve-assets were denominated in US dollars, this proportion has shrunk by today to below 60% – and keeps declining. The emerging international RMB / yuan, together with a RCEP- and BRI-strengthened Chinese economy, may further contribute to a dedollarization, as well as dehegemonization of the United States in the world. Simultaneously and progressively the international digital RMB / yuan may also be replacing the US-dollar / euro reserves in countries’ coffers around the globe.

The US-dollar may eventually return to be just a local US-currency, as it should be. Under China’s philosophy, the unilateral word will transform into a multi-polar world. The RCEP and New Silk Road combination are rapidly pursuing this noble objective, a goal that will bring much more equilibrium into the world.

For the west adapting to this new reality may not be easy. Cooperation instead of competition has never been a western concept or philosophy. For hundreds if not thousands of years the western dominance has left a sad legacy of exploitation of the poor by the rich colonial masters and of bloody wars.

Cooperation instead of competition and warrying for power, is a concept not easily adhered to by the west. It is clearly visible by US-instigated trade wars, and possibly a currency war between the US and China may already be in the making. The FED has vaguely expressed its plans to also launch a digital, possibly cryptic, blockchain-based currency to counter the new RMB / yuan – not yet even launched internationally. Details of the FED’s plans are at the time of this writing not clear.

Having to adapt to the new RCEP, conforming to an agreement among equals, will not come easy for the west. The west will not let go and may use to the utmost possible, its creation and western biased World Trade Organization (WTO), to sabotage as much as possible the RCEP’s trade deals and BRI-infrastructure, as well as cross-border industrial development advances.

The west, led by the US – and always backed by the Pentagon and NATO, may not shy from threatening countries participating in China’s projects, but to no avail. Under Tao philosophy, China will move forward with her partners, like steadily flowing water, constantly creating, avoiding obstacles, in pursuit of her noble goal – a world in Peace with a bright common future.


Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.
Peter is also co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Syria’s International Conference On Refugees Is A Masterclass In Balancing

12 NOVEMBER 2020

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Syria

The kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria has mostly drawn to a close, as evidenced by the milestone event of the country hosting an international conference on the return of refugees, which resulted in several significant outcomes that speak to the masterful execution of its “balancing” strategy and raise hope that the Arab Republic will eventually transform into the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of China’s visionary W-CPEC+ corridor across Eurasia.

Strategically Disarming “Weapons Of Mass Migration”

Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees is a milestone event for the country’s war which shows that the kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror against it has mostly drawn to a close. President Assad’s keynote speech saw the Syrian leader thanking his Russian and Iranian wartime allies for their help getting to this point and encouraging his compatriots abroad to finally return home. He claimed that some of their host countries are exploiting them for financial and other reasons, strongly hinting that they’re being used against their will as “Weapons of Mass Migration” like Ivy League scholar Kelly M. Greenhill earlier described such a phenomenon. In connection with that, President Assad condemned those states which continue to impose illegal sanctions against the Arab Republic, which has disincentivized some refugees from returning home and thus results in artificially perpetuating this historic humanitarian crisis that was initially sparked by their external war of regime change aggression against his people through terrorist means.

Syria’s “Balancing” Act

Thankfully, Syria can count on its Russian and Iranian wartime allies to help reconstruct the ruined country and thus facilitate the return of millions of refugees to their homeland. To this end, Russia promised to allocate $1 billion as well as open up a trade mission in Damascus while Iran suggested setting up an international fund for this purpose. Both countries seem poised to enter into a “friendly competition” with one another for reconstruction contracts and market space which can only work out to Syria’s ultimate benefit. The Arab Republic is therefore expected to retain its carefully calibrated “balancing” act between them, wisely doing its utmost to prevent the emergence of any complete dependence on either of them in the future. This strategy is consistent with what it’s always pursued over the decades and represents its masterful execution which too many other small- and medium-sized states previously attempted but to no avail. Even worse, many of Syria’s peers saw this strategy backfire on them, thus leading to either their ruin or full dependence on one partner.

Full credit goes to Syria’s world-class diplomats for being able to manage such a difficult policy with such success. Not only are they “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but they also managed to attract the important participation of other countries in their international refugee conference, most curious of which for some observers is Pakistan. Those who only casually follow Syrian affairs might have missed it, but Islamabad recently dispatched massive medical aid to the Arab Republic. This and its participation in the international conference show that the “global pivot state” (which the author previously referred to it as) is capable of bold foreign policy moves independent of its close American, Saudi, and Turkish partners. Pakistan, just like Syria, is also practicing its own “balancing” act between its aforementioned three traditional partners and its three newest ones of Russia, China, and Iran. In fact, it can be argued that Pakistan and Syria are in the process of synergizing their respective “balancing” strategies for the betterment of Eurasia.

Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria”

To explain, not only is Syria “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but also between India and Pakistan too. Although Damascus and Delhi have a long history of close relations, Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shabaan told the Hindustan Times in August 2017 that her country is becoming hesitant about India’s role in its reconstruction after Prime Minister Modi’s highly publicized trip to “Israel” where he did everything from sign intergovernmental deals solidifying their de-facto alliance to even walking barefoot with Netanyahu along the beach. The author realized at the time that this is “Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria” whereby Islamabad could flex its anti-Zionist credentials to present itself as a much more credible partner than pro-Zionist Delhi in pursuit of strengthening the two state’s historic relations that reached their high point in 1974 after a Pakistani pilot flying a Syrian jet shot down an “Israeli” fighter flying over the occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s diplomats were evidently receptive to Pakistan’s outreaches, hence the steady improvement of ties.

The Winding Road To W-CPEC+

It’s not just nostalgia for their Old Cold War-era ties nor their shared hatred of “Israel” that’s bringing them closer together nowadays, but pro-Chinese Silk Road pragmatism. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and its western branch corridor (W-CPEC+) through Iran has the chance of not only reaching Russia by running parallel with the stalled North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) across Azerbaijan but can also extend as far as Syria via Iraq. China is the little-discussed third economic force apart from Russia and Iran which is engaged in a “friendly competition” with its partners to develop Syria, and the improvement of Syrian-Pakistani relations as is presently happening could result in W-CPEC+ extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, all of which are allied with one another. It’ll of course take a lot of political will from all sides — not least of all Pakistan — to see this ambitious vision through, but if successful, then it could revolutionize Mideast geopolitics.

All five countries — China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and Syria — would benefit from this outcome. The People’s Republic is the world’s second-largest economy and actively eyeing more positions in the Eastern Mediterranean to complement its prospective ones in “Israel”, albeit via more geopolitically reliable mainland routes than the maritime ones connecting it to the self-professed “Jewish State”. Pakistan has an interest in bolstering its credential as the “global pivot state” by having CPEC serve as the platform for integrating Eurasia more closely together. Iran, which is desperately seeking all manner of sanctions relief, is reportedly negotiating a gargantuan economic agreement with China and would certainly benefit by facilitating more East-West trade through its territory. As for Russia, its recent control over Tartus means that it could profit from any Syrian export of Chinese products through that port. As for the Arab Republic itself, its expected benefit is that this vision would accelerate its reconstruction and allow it to finally actualize its pre-war “Five Seas Strategy”.

Concluding Thoughts

All told, Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees was about much more than just its titular topic. Reading between the lines of the details that have since been revealed about this milestone event, it was actually a masterclass in Syria’s “balancing” strategy. The Arab Republic proved that its diplomats are among the most highly skilled in the world after successfully “balancing” between Russia and Iran, as well as India and Pakistan, all with the aim of fulfilling its visionary “Five Seas Strategy” which some argue was partially responsible for provoking the Hybrid War of Terror that’s been viciously waged against it for almost an entire decade already. In the best-case scenario, Syria will eventually serve as the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of the W-CPEC+ corridor connecting that strategic body of water with the Pacific Ocean via a several-country-long mainland commercial corridor. The successful fulfillment of this vision would revolutionize not only Mideast geopolitics, but also Eurasian geopolitics as a whole, which thus makes it an urgent priority for all.

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.

Who’s World Order??

Who’s World Order??
Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow, BRI Expert on Tactical talk, and has authored 3 volumes of ‘Untold History of Canada’ book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide Foundation. He can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

November 16, 2020

By Matthew Ehret for the Saker Blog

In his Foreign Policy article of April 2020, Biden states that he will reverse Trump’s embarrassing foreign policy record by standing up to both China, Russia and other totalitarian nations which represent the three-fold plague of “authoritarianism, nationalism and illiberalism” and “once more have America lead the world”.

Biden went further promising to undo the harm Trump has done to NATO by re-enforcing the military body, extending its influence to the Pacific (which sounds a lot like the Esper/Pompeo doctrine for the Pacific), and even demanded that NATO go harder on Russia stating that “the Kremlin fears a strong NATO, the most effective political military alliance in modern history.”

Considering Biden’s nearly 45 year political record supporting every military intervention in American history, opposing de-segregation, eulogizing pro-KKK Senator Strom Thurmond, passing bills that incarcerated petty drug dealers for life on behalf of the cheap labor prison industrial complex and supported the rampant growth of both Wall Street, Big Pharma and the Big Tech run surveillance state, we should think twice before celebrating this man’s possible entry into the halls of the highest office in the USA.

Biden’s call for renewing the NATO alliance in opposition to Russia and China, his support for reversing Trump’s calls for military reduction in the Middle East and his support for extending NATO in the Pacific mixed with his lifelong track record, forces us to ask if Glen Greenwald was right when he quit the Intercept on November 1 saying:

“If Biden wins, that’s going to be the power structure: A democratic party fully united with neocons, Bush/Cheney operatives, CIA/FBI/NSA Wall Street and Silicon Valley: presenting itself as the only protection against fascism. And much of the left will continue marching behind it.”

As it turns out, Greenwald’s warning was absolutely on point, as the entire intelligence apparatus, Big Tech and mainstream media complex which worked desperately to oust President Trump for 4 years and is currently running a vast voting fraud operation as this is written has given its full backing to the narrative of “an inevitable of a Biden presidency”.

In a Nov. 11 article from Antiwar.com entitled Biden’s Pentagon Transition Team Members Funded by the Arms Industry, journalist Dave DeCamp demonstrates that of the 23 members of Biden’s Pentagon Transition Team, over one third are directly tied to NATO and the Military Industrial Complex.

As facts continue to emerge of the corrupt deep state structure which totally dominates the geriatric hologram known as Joe Biden, it has become obvious that even the few positive remarks Biden made in support of renewing the START treaty with Russia carry little weight.

Ignoring the very real danger of a new civil war due to the fact that either result will be denied its legitimacy by half of the nation, the question must be asked: If Trump is replaced by a Biden Presidency on January 20th, then what will be the effects both on world stability and US-Russia-China relations?

It is good that Biden supports START’s renewal, but an increasing majority of the nations are opting for a multipolar alliance premised on the defense of national sovereignty, the right to use protectionism, and the construction of large scale megaprojects such as the New Silk Road, Polar Silk Road, advanced space exploration and North South Transportation Corridor.

The very protectionist measures which allowed the USA (and every nation of the world for that matter) to build up their industrial base and economic sovereignty are attacked directly by Biden who demands the “taking down of trade barriers and resisting dangerous global slide toward protectionism” (which he goes so far as to assert without evidence “caused the great depression” and “lead to World War II”).

Attacking Trump for being soft on China’s imperial Belt and Road Initiative which Biden states is only an “outsourcer of pollution to other countries by financing billions of dollars worth of dirty fossil fuel energy projects”, Biden then asks: “who writes the rules that govern trade?” and answers: “the United States, not China, should be leading that effort.”

Beyond carbon reduction plans, and information technology investments (AI, 5G, Quantum Computing), there is very little in Biden’s “development outlook” that brings the USA into harmony with this multipolar consensus. His program to support cutting America’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 as outlined by the Green New Deal and Great Reset crowd at Davos might appear on the surface to be pro-infrastructure, professing to “create 10 million good new jobs”, but the reality on further inspection is very different.

The sorts of large scale BRI-oriented development projects now transforming more than half of the world which is increasingly operating under a completely different non-US dominated banking paradigm, are based on capital intensive heavy industry, the use of fossil fuels and also nuclear power.

Without these energy sources, then the New Silk Road and its’ sister projects could never work (much like Modi’s anti-BRI OSOWOG doppelganger has proven a total failure both scientifically and economically).

The sort of “green energy revolution” which the Davos technocrats running Biden want to impose onto the world might create short term jobs, but once the solar panels and windmills are built, the quality of energy available to nations stupid enough to walk into this cage will forever suffocate their capacity to sustain their populations and growth potential. In short, it is a green mirage obscuring a very ugly design.

In opposition to this depopulation agenda, Trump’s tendency support for space exploration, reviving protectionism to rebuild America’s lost manufacturing and his supporting large scale infrastructure programs in resolving conflict abroad (including his support for building rail in the Arctic, rail in Serbia and Kosovo, nuclear power in South Africa and Poland etc) is certainly synergistic with the multipolar system led by Russia and China and undeniably brings the USA into harmony with its own better traditions.

Additionally, Trump’s defunding of color revolutionary “civil society” groups in Hong Kong and Belarus won him many enemies from both sides of the pro-Soros isle while supporting the concept of national sovereignty which were major steps towards stability and trust-building with nations of the world who demand their sovereignty be respected as outlined in the UN Charter itself.

Compare this with Biden’s statement that we must “stand with Russian civil society which has bravely stood up time and again against President Vladimir Putin’s kleptocratic authoritarian system” and Biden’s call to host “a global summit for democracy” featuring “civil society organizations from around the world that stand on the frontlines of democracy” including “the private sector, technology companies and social media giants.”

These are the same “Big tech, and media giants” that have given their full backing to the imposition of Biden into the Presidency which have also been used to overthrow nationally elected governments in color revolutionary regime change operations for decades. These the same networks that have suppressed all evidence of systemic vote fraud in the American elections of 2020 and are stoking the fires of a potential new civil war and regime change inside the republic itself.

Whatever the case may be, the coming weeks and months will feature fierce battles that will shape the outcome of world history.

Syria’s International Conference On Refugees Is A Masterclass In Balancing

By Andrew Korybko

Source

The kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria has mostly drawn to a close, as evidenced by the milestone event of the country hosting an international conference on the return of refugees, which resulted in several significant outcomes that speak to the masterful execution of its “balancing” strategy and raise hope that the Arab Republic will eventually transform into the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of China’s visionary W-CPEC+ corridor across Eurasia.

Strategically Disarming “Weapons Of Mass Migration”

Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees is a milestone event for the country’s war which shows that the kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror against it has mostly drawn to a close. President Assad’s keynote speech saw the Syrian leader thanking his Russian and Iranian wartime allies for their help getting to this point and encouraging his compatriots abroad to finally return home. He claimed that some of their host countries are exploiting them for financial and other reasons, strongly hinting that they’re being used against their will as “Weapons of Mass Migration” like Ivy League scholar Kelly M. Greenhill earlier described such a phenomenon. In connection with that, President Assad condemned those states which continue to impose illegal sanctions against the Arab Republic, which has disincentivized some refugees from returning home and thus results in artificially perpetuating this historic humanitarian crisis that was initially sparked by their external war of regime change aggression against his people through terrorist means.

Syria’s “Balancing” Act

Thankfully, Syria can count on its Russian and Iranian wartime allies to help reconstruct the ruined country and thus facilitate the return of millions of refugees to their homeland. To this end, Russia promised to allocate $1 billion as well as open up a trade mission in Damascus while Iran suggested setting up an international fund for this purpose. Both countries seem poised to enter into a “friendly competition” with one another for reconstruction contracts and market space which can only work out to Syria’s ultimate benefit. The Arab Republic is therefore expected to retain its carefully calibrated “balancing” act between them, wisely doing its utmost to prevent the emergence of any complete dependence on either of them in the future. This strategy is consistent with what it’s always pursued over the decades and represents its masterful execution which too many other small- and medium-sized states previously attempted but to no avail. Even worse, many of Syria’s peers saw this strategy backfire on them, thus leading to either their ruin or full dependence on one partner.

Full credit goes to Syria’s world-class diplomats for being able to manage such a difficult policy with such success. Not only are they “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but they also managed to attract the important participation of other countries in their international refugee conference, most curious of which for some observers is Pakistan. Those who only casually follow Syrian affairs might have missed it, but Islamabad recently dispatched massive medical aid to the Arab Republic. This and its participation in the international conference show that the “global pivot state” (which the author previously referred to it as) is capable of bold foreign policy moves independent of its close American, Saudi, and Turkish partners. Pakistan, just like Syria, is also practicing its own “balancing” act between its aforementioned three traditional partners and its three newest ones of Russia, China, and Iran. In fact, it can be argued that Pakistan and Syria are in the process of synergizing their respective “balancing” strategies for the betterment of Eurasia.

Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria”

To explain, not only is Syria “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but also between India and Pakistan too. Although Damascus and Delhi have a long history of close relations, Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shabaan told the Hindustan Times in August 2017 that her country is becoming hesitant about India’s role in its reconstruction after Prime Minister Modi’s highly publicized trip to “Israel” where he did everything from sign intergovernmental deals solidifying their de-facto alliance to even walking barefoot with Netanyahu along the beach. The author realized at the time that this is “Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria” whereby Islamabad could flex its anti-Zionist credentials to present itself as a much more credible partner than pro-Zionist Delhi in pursuit of strengthening the two state’s historic relations that reached their high point in 1974 after a Pakistani pilot flying a Syrian jet shot down an “Israeli” fighter flying over the occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s diplomats were evidently receptive to Pakistan’s outreaches, hence the steady improvement of ties.

The Winding Road To W-CPEC+

It’s not just nostalgia for their Old Cold War-era ties nor their shared hatred of “Israel” that’s bringing them closer together nowadays, but pro-Chinese Silk Road pragmatism. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and its western branch corridor (W-CPEC+) through Iran has the chance of not only reaching Russia by running parallel with the stalled North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) across Azerbaijan but can also extend as far as Syria via Iraq. China is the little-discussed third economic force apart from Russia and Iran which is engaged in a “friendly competition” with its partners to develop Syria, and the improvement of Syrian-Pakistani relations as is presently happening could result in W-CPEC+ extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, all of which are allied with one another. It’ll of course take a lot of political will from all sides — not least of all Pakistan — to see this ambitious vision through, but if successful, then it could revolutionize Mideast geopolitics.

All five countries — China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and Syria — would benefit from this outcome. The People’s Republic is the world’s second-largest economy and actively eyeing more positions in the Eastern Mediterranean to complement its prospective ones in “Israel”, albeit via more geopolitically reliable mainland routes than the maritime ones connecting it to the self-professed “Jewish State”. Pakistan has an interest in bolstering its credential as the “global pivot state” by having CPEC serve as the platform for integrating Eurasia more closely together. Iran, which is desperately seeking all manner of sanctions relief, is reportedly negotiating a gargantuan economic agreement with China and would certainly benefit by facilitating more East-West trade through its territory. As for Russia, its recent control over Tartus means that it could profit from any Syrian export of Chinese products through that port. As for the Arab Republic itself, its expected benefit is that this vision would accelerate its reconstruction and allow it to finally actualize its pre-war “Five Seas Strategy”.

Concluding Thoughts

All told, Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees was about much more than just its titular topic. Reading between the lines of the details that have since been revealed about this milestone event, it was actually a masterclass in Syria’s “balancing” strategy. The Arab Republic proved that its diplomats are among the most highly skilled in the world after successfully “balancing” between Russia and Iran, as well as India and Pakistan, all with the aim of fulfilling its visionary “Five Seas Strategy” which some argue was partially responsible for provoking the Hybrid War of Terror that’s been viciously waged against it for almost an entire decade already. In the best-case scenario, Syria will eventually serve as the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of the W-CPEC+ corridor connecting that strategic body of water with the Pacific Ocean via a several-country-long mainland commercial corridor. The successful fulfillment of this vision would revolutionize not only Mideast geopolitics, but also Eurasian geopolitics as a whole, which thus makes it an urgent priority for all.

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