U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses*

 

July 25, 2019

U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses*

by Michael Hudson, posted by special permission on the Saker blog

* Keynote Paper delivered at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy, July 21, 2019.

Today’s world is at war on many fronts. The rules of international law and order put in place toward the end of World War II are being broken by U.S. foreign policy escalating its confrontation with countries that refrain from giving its companies control of their economic surpluses. Countries that do not give the United States control their oil and financial sectors or privatize their key sectors are being isolated by the United States imposing trade sanctions and unilateral tariffs giving special advantages to U.S. producers in violation of free trade agreements with European, Asian and other countries.

This global fracture has an increasingly military cast. U.S. officials justify tariffs and import quotas illegal under WTO rules on “national security” grounds, claiming that the United States can do whatever it wants as the world’s “exceptional” nation. U.S. officials explain that this means that their nation is not obliged to adhere to international agreements or even to its own treaties and promises. This allegedly sovereign right to ignore on its international agreements was made explicit after Bill Clinton and his Secretary of State Madeline Albright broke the promise by President George Bush and Secretary of State James Baker that NATO would not expand eastward after 1991. (“You didn’t get it in writing,” was the U.S. response to the verbal agreements that were made.)

Likewise, the Trump administration repudiated the multilateral Iranian nuclear agreement signed by the Obama administration, and is escalating warfare with its proxy armies in the Near East. U.S. politicians are waging a New Cold War against Russia, China, Iran, and oil-exporting countries that the United States is seeking to isolate if cannot control their governments, central bank and foreign diplomacy.

The international framework that originally seemed equitable was pro-U.S. from the outset. In 1945 this was seen as a natural result of the fact that the U.S. economy was the least war-damaged and held by far most of the world’s monetary gold. Still, the postwar trade and financial framework was ostensibly set up on fair and equitable international principles. Other countries were expected to recover and grow, creating diplomatic, financial and trade parity with each other.

But the past decade has seen U.S. diplomacy become one-sided in turning the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, SWIFT bank-clearing system and world trade into an asymmetrically exploitative system. This unilateral U.S.-centered array of institutions is coming to be widely seen not only as unfair, but as blocking the progress of other countries whose growth and prosperity is seen by U.S. foreign policy as a threat to unilateral U.S. hegemony. What began as an ostensibly international order to promote peaceful prosperity has turned increasingly into an extension of U.S. nationalism, predatory rent-extraction and a more dangerous military confrontation.

Deterioration of international diplomacy into a more nakedly explicit pro-U.S. financial, trade and military aggression was implicit in the way in which economic diplomacy was shaped when the United Nations, IMF and World Bank were shaped mainly by U.S. economic strategists. Their economic belligerence is driving countries to withdraw from the global financial and trade order that has been turned into a New Cold War vehicle to impose unilateral U.S. hegemony. Nationalistic reactions are consolidating into new economic and political alliances from Europe to Asia.

We are still mired in the Oil War that escalated in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq, which quickly spread to Libya and Syria. American foreign policy has long been based largely on control of oil. This has led the United States to oppose the Paris accords to stem global warming. Its aim is to give U.S. officials the power to impose energy sanctions forcing other countries to “freeze in the dark” if they do not follow U.S. leadership.

To expand its oil monopoly, America is pressuring Europe to oppose the Nordstream II gas pipeline from Russia, claiming that this would make Germany and other countries dependent on Russia instead of on U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG). Likewise, American oil diplomacy has imposed unilateral sanctions against Iranian oil exports, until such time as a regime change opens up that country’s oil reserves to U.S., French, British and other allied oil majors.

U.S. control of dollarized money and credit is critical to this hegemony. As Congressman Brad Sherman of Los Angeles told a House Financial Services Committee hearing on May 9, 2019: “An awful lot of our international power comes from the fact that the U.S. dollar is the standard unit of international finance and transactions. Clearing through the New York Fed is critical for major oil and other transactions. It is the announced purpose of the supporters of cryptocurrency to take that power away from us, to put us in a position where the most significant sanctions we have against Iran, for example, would become irrelevant.”[1]

The U.S. aim is to keep the dollar as the transactions currency for world trade, savings, central bank reserves and international lending. This monopoly status enables the U.S. Treasury and State Department to disrupt the financial payments system and trade for countries with which the United States is at economic or outright military war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin quickly responded by describing how “the degeneration of the universalist globalization model [is] turning into a parody, a caricature of itself, where common international rules are replaced with the laws… of one country.”[2] That is the trajectory on which this deterioration of formerly open international trade and finance is now moving. It has been building up for a decade. On June 5, 2009, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev cited this same disruptive U.S. dynamic at work in the wake of the U.S. junk mortgage and bank fraud crisis.

Those whose job it was to forecast events … were not ready for the depth of the crisis and turned out to be too rigid, unwieldy and slow in their response. The international financial organisations – and I think we need to state this up front and not try to hide it – were not up to their responsibilities, as has been said quite unambiguously at a number of major international events such as the two recent G20 summits of the world’s largest economies.

Furthermore, we have had confirmation that our pre-crisis analysis of global economic trends and the global economic system were correct. The artificially maintained uni-polar system and preservation of monopolies in key global economic sectors are root causes of the crisis. One big centre of consumption, financed by a growing deficit, and thus growing debts, one formerly strong reserve currency, and one dominant system of assessing assets and risks – these are all factors that led to an overall drop in the quality of regulation and the economic justification of assessments made, including assessments of macroeconomic policy. As a result, there was no avoiding a global crisis.[3]

That crisis is what is now causing today’s break in global trade and payments.

Warfare on many fronts, with Dollarization being the main arena

Dissolution of the Soviet Union 1991 did not bring the disarmament that was widely expected. U.S. leadership celebrated the Soviet demise as signaling the end of foreign opposition to U.S.-sponsored neoliberalism and even as the End of History. NATO expanded to encircle Russia and sponsored “color revolutions” from Georgia to Ukraine, while carving up former Yugoslavia into small statelets. American diplomacy created a foreign legion of Wahabi fundamentalists from Afghanistan to Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya in support of Saudi Arabian extremism and Israeli expansionism.

The United States is waging war for control of oil against Venezuela, where a military coup failed a few years ago, as did the 2018-19 stunt to recognize an unelected pro-American puppet regime. The Honduran coup under President Obama was more successful in overthrowing an elected president advocating land reform, continuing the tradition dating back to 1954 when the CIA overthrew Guatemala’s Arbenz regime.

U.S. officials bear a special hatred for countries that they have injured, ranging from Guatemala in 1954 to Iran, whose regime it overthrew to install the Shah as military dictator. Claiming to promote “democracy,” U.S. diplomacy has redefined the word to mean pro-American, and opposing land reform, national ownership of raw materials and public subsidy of foreign agriculture or industry as an “undemocratic” attack on “free markets,” meaning markets controlled by U.S. financial interests and absentee owners of land, natural resources and banks.

A major byproduct of warfare has always been refugees, and today’s wave fleeing ISIS, Al Qaeda and other U.S.-backed Near Eastern proxies is flooding Europe. A similar wave is fleeing the dictatorial regimes backed by the United States from Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia and neighboring countries. The refugee crisis has become a major factor leading to the resurgence of nationalist parties throughout Europe and for the white nationalism of Donald Trump in the United States.

Dollarization as the vehicle for U.S. nationalism

The Dollar Standard – U.S. Treasury debt to foreigners held by the world’s central banks – has replaced the gold-exchange standard for the world’s central bank reserves to settle payments imbalances among themselves. This has enabled the United States to uniquely run balance-of-payments deficits for nearly seventy years, despite the fact that these Treasury IOUs have little visible likelihood of being repaid except under arrangements where U.S. rent-seeking and outright financial tribute from other enables it to liquidate its official foreign debt.

The United States is the only nation that can run sustained balance-of-payments deficits without having to sell off its assets or raise interest rates to borrow foreign money. No other national economy in the world can could afford foreign military expenditures on any major scale without losing its exchange value. Without the Treasury-bill standard, the United States would be in this same position along with other nations. That is why Russia, China and other powers that U.S. strategists deem to be strategic rivals and enemies are looking to restore gold’s role as the preferred asset to settle payments imbalances.

The U.S. response is to impose regime change on countries that prefer gold or other foreign currencies to dollars for their exchange reserves. A case in point is the overthrow of Libya’s Kaddafi after he sought to base his nation’s international reserves on gold. His liquidation stands as a military warning to other countries.

Thanks to the fact that payments-surplus economies invest their dollar inflows in U.S. Treasury bonds, the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit finances its domestic budget deficit. This foreign central-bank recycling of U.S. overseas military spending into purchases of U.S. Treasury securities gives the United States a free ride, financing its budget – also mainly military in character – so that it can taxing its own citizens.

Trump is forcing other countries to create an alternative to the Dollar Standard

The fact that Donald Trump’s economic policies are proving ineffective in restoring American manufacturing is creating rising nationalist pressure to exploit foreigners by arbitrary tariffs without regard for international law, and to impose trade sanctions and diplomatic meddling to disrupt regimes that pursue policies that U.S. diplomats do not like.

There is a parallel here with Rome in the late 1st century BC. It stripped its provinces to pay for its military deficit, the grain dole and land redistribution at the expense of Italian cities and Asia Minor. This created foreign opposition to drive Rome out. The U.S. economy is similar to Rome’s: extractive rather than productive, based mainly on land rents and money-interest. As the domestic market is impoverished, U.S. politicians are seeking to take from abroad what no longer is being produced at home.

What is so ironic – and so self-defeating of America’s free global ride – is that Trump’s simplistic aim of lowering the dollar’s exchange rate to make U.S. exports more price-competitive. He imagines commodity trade to be the entire balance of payments, as if there were no military spending, not to mention lending and investment. To lower the dollar’s exchange rate, he is demanding that China’s central bank and those of other countries stop supporting the dollar by recycling the dollars they receive for their exports into holdings of U.S. Treasury securities.

This tunnel vision leaves out of account the fact that the trade balance is not simply a matter of comparative international price levels. The United States has dissipated its supply of spare manufacturing capacity and local suppliers of parts and materials, while much of its industrial engineering and skilled manufacturing labor has retired. An immense shortfall must be filled by new capital investment, education and public infrastructure, whose charges are far above those of other economics.

Trump’s infrastructure ideology is a Public-Private Partnership characterized by high-cost financialization demanding high monopoly rents to cover its interest charges, stock dividends and management fees. This neoliberal policy raises the cost of living for the U.S. labor force, making it uncompetitive. The United States is unable to produce more at any price right now, because its has spent the past half-century dismantling its infrastructure, closing down its part suppliers and outsourcing its industrial technology.

The United States has privatized and financialized infrastructure and basic needs such as public health and medical care, education and transportation that other countries have kept in their public domain to make their economies more cost-efficient by providing essential services at subsidized prices or freely. The United States also has led the practice of debt pyramiding, from housing to corporate finance. This financial engineering and wealth creation by inflating debt-financed real estate and stock market bubbles has made the United States a high-cost economy that cannot compete successfully with well-managed mixed economies.

Unable to recover dominance in manufacturing, the United States is concentrating on rent-extracting sectors that it hopes monopolize, headed by information technology and military production. On the industrial front, it threatens disrupt China and other mixed economies by imposing trade and financial sanctions.

The great gamble is whether these other countries will defend themselves by joining in alliances enabling them to bypass the U.S. economy. American strategists imagine their country to be the world’s essential economy, without whose market other countries must suffer depression. The Trump Administration thinks that There Is No Alternative (TINA) for other countries except for their own financial systems to rely on U.S. dollar credit.

To protect themselves from U.S. sanctions, countries would have to avoid using the dollar, and hence U.S. banks. This would require creation of a non-dollarized financial system for use among themselves, including their own alternative to the SWIFT bank clearing system. Table 1 lists some possible related defenses against U.S. nationalistic diplomacy.

As noted above, what also is ironic in President Trump’s accusation of China and other countries of artificially manipulating their exchange rate against the dollar (by recycling their trade and payments surpluses into Treasury securities to hold down their currency’s dollar valuation) involves dismantling the Treasury-bill standard. The main way that foreign economies have stabilized their exchange rate since 1971 has indeed been to recycle their dollar inflows into U.S. Treasury securities. Letting their currency’s value rise would threaten their export competitiveness against their rivals, although not necessarily benefit the United States.

Ending this practice leaves countries with the main way to protect their currencies from rising against the dollar is to reduce dollar inflows by blocking U.S. lending to domestic borrowers. They may levy floating tariffs proportioned to the dollar’s declining value. The U.S. has a long history since the 1920s of raising its tariffs against currencies that are depreciating: the American Selling Price (ASP) system. Other countries can impose their own floating tariffs against U.S. goods.

Trade dependency as an aim of the World Bank, IMF and US AID

The world today faces a problem much like what it faced on the eve of World War II. Like Germany then, the United States now poses the main threat of war, and equally destructive neoliberal economic regimes imposing austerity, economic shrinkage and depopulation. U.S. diplomats are threatening to destroy regimes and entire economies that seek to remain independent of this system, by trade and financial sanctions backed by direct military force.

Dedollarization will require creation of multilateral alternatives to U.S. “front” institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and other agencies in which the United States holds veto power to block any alternative policies deemed not to let it “win.” U.S. trade policy through the World Bank and U.S. foreign aid agencies aims at promoting dependency on U.S. food exports and other key commodities, while hiring U.S. engineering firms to build up export infrastructure to subsidize U.S. and other natural-resource investors.[4] The financing is mainly in dollars, providing risk-free bonds to U.S. and other financial institutions. The resulting commercial and financial “interdependency” has led to a situation in which a sudden interruption of supply would disrupt foreign economies by causing a breakdown in their chain of payments and production. The effect is to lock client countries into dependency on the U.S. economy and its diplomacy, euphemized as “promoting growth and development.”

U.S. neoliberal policy via the IMF imposes austerity and opposes debt writedowns. Its economic model pretends that debtor countries can pay any volume of dollar debt simply by reducing wages to squeeze more income out of the labor force to pay foreign creditors. This ignores the fact that solving the domestic “budget problem” by taxing local revenue still faces the “transfer problem” of converting it into dollars or other hard currencies in which most international debt is denominated. The result is that the IMF’s “stabilization” programs actually destabilize and impoverish countries forced into following its advice.

IMF loans support pro-U.S. regimes such as Ukraine, and subsidize capital flight by supporting local currencies long enough to enable U.S. client oligarchies to flee their currencies at a pre-devaluation exchange rate for the dollar. When the local currency finally is allowed to collapse, debtor countries are advised to impose anti-labor austerity. This globalizes the class war of capital against labor while keeping debtor countries on a short U.S. financial leash.

U.S. diplomacy is capped by trade sanctions to disrupt economies that break away from U.S. aims. Sanctions are a form of economic sabotage, as lethal as outright military warfare in establishing U.S. control over foreign economies. The threat is to impoverish civilian populations, in the belief that this will lead them to replace their governments with pro-American regimes promising to restore prosperity by selling off their domestic infrastructure to U.S. and other multinational investors.

US Warfare on Many Fronts —————————————————————— Dedollarization defense

Military warfare (the Near East, Asia)NATO and bilateral treaty (Saudi, ISIS, Al Qaida). color revolutions and proxy wars. Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and pressure for Europe to withdraw from NATO unless the U.S. alleviates its New Cold War threats.
Dollarization is monetary warfare. The US Treasury-bill standard finances the mainly military U.S. balance-of-payments deficit. SWIFT threatens to isolate Iran and Russia Dedollarization will refrain from foreign central banks financing U.S. overseas military spending by keeping their savings in dollars.Creation of alternative payments clearing system.
The IMF finances US client regimes and seeks to isolate those not following US policy. An alternative global financial organization, such as Europe’s INSTEX to circumvent US anti-Iran sanctions, and Russo-China alternative to SWIFT.
Creditor policy forcing austerity on debtor economies, forcing them to privatize and sell off their public domain to pay debts. An international court empowered to write down debts to the ability to pay, based on the original principles that were to guide the BIS in 1931.
The World Bank finances trade dependency on US food exports and opposes national food self-sufficiency. An alternative development organization based on food self-sufficiency. Annulment of World Bank and IMF debt as “odious debt.”
Unilateral US trade war based on levy of US protectionist tariffs, quotas and sanctions, Countervailing sanctions, and creation of an alternative to the WTO or a strengthened organization free of US control.
Cyber War, spycraft via US internet platforms, and Stuxnet sabotage. Work with Huawei and other alternatives to US internet options.
Class War: austerity program for labor MMT, taxation of rentier income and capital gains.
Neoliberal monetarist doctrine of privatization and creditor-oriented rules Promotion of a mixed economy with public infrastructure as a factor of production.
US patent policy seeks monopoly rents. Non-recognition of predatory monopoly patents.
Investment control Deprivatization and buyoutsof US assets abroad.
International law and diplomacy The U.S. as the world’s “exceptional nation,” not subject to international laws or even to its own treaty agreements.Veto power in any organization it joins. The basic principle that the U.S. is not subject to any foreign say over its laws and policies.

Global Problems caused by US Policy ——————————-  Response to U.S. Disruptive Policy

U.S. refuses to join international agreements to reduce carbon emissions, Global Warming and Extreme Weather.U.S. diplomacy is based on control of oil to make other countries dependent on U.S. energy dominance. Trade and tax sanctions against U.S. exporters and banks. Taxes on U.S. tax avoidance by the oil industry’s “flags of convenience” (convenient for tax avoidance).Taxation or isolation of U.S. exports based on high-carbon production.
Attempt to monopolize new G5 Internet technology, Sanctioning of Huawei, insistence on US priority in high-tech. Rejection of patents on basic IT, medicine and other basic human needs.
Patent laws in pharmaceuticals, etc. Taxation of monopoly rents.

There are alternatives, on many fronts

Militarily, today’s leading alternative to NATO expansionism is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), along with Europe following France’s example under Charles de Gaulle and withdrawing. After all, there is no real threat of military invasion today in Europe. No nation can occupy another without an enormous military draft and such heavy personnel losses that domestic protests would unseat the government waging such a war. The U.S. anti-war movement in the 1960s signaled the end of the military draft, not only in the United States but in nearly all democratic countries. (Israel, Switzerland, Brazil and North Korea are exceptions.)

The enormous spending on armaments for a kind of war unlikely to be fought is not really military, but simply to provide profits to the military industrial complex. The arms are not really to be used. They are simply to be bought, and ultimately scrapped. The danger, of course, is that these not-for-use arms actually might be used, if only to create a need for new profitable production.

Likewise, foreign holdings of dollars are not really to be spent on purchases of U.S. exports or investments. They are like fine-wine collectibles, for saving rather than for drinking. The alternative to such dollarized holdings is to create a mutual use of national currencies, and a domestic bank-clearing payments system as an alternative to SWIFT. Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela already are said to be developing a crypto-currency payments to circumvent U.S. sanctions and hence financial control.

In the World Trade Organization, the United States has tried to claim that any industry receiving public infrastructure or credit subsidy deserves tariff retaliation in order to force privatization. In response to WTO rulings that U.S. tariffs are illegally imposed, the United States “has blocked all new appointments to the seven-member appellate body in protest, leaving it in danger of collapse because it may not have enough judges to allow it to hear new cases.”[5] In the U.S. view, only privatized trade financed by private rather than public banks is “fair” trade.

An alternative to the WTO (or removal of its veto privilege given to the U.S. bloc) is needed to cope with U.S. neoliberal ideology and, most recently, the U.S. travesty claiming “national security” exemption to free-trade treaties, impose tariffs on steel, aluminum, and on European countries that circumvent sanctions on Iran or threaten to buy oil from Russia via the Nordstream II pipeline instead of high-cost liquified “freedom gas” from the United States.

In the realm of development lending, China’s bank along with its Belt and Road initiative is an incipient alternative to the World Bank, whose main role has been to promote foreign dependency on U.S. suppliers. The IMF for its part now functions as an extension of the U.S. Department of Defense to subsidize client regimes such as Ukraine while financially isolating countries not subservient to U.S. diplomacy.

To save debt-strapped economies suffering Greek-style austerity, the world needs to replace neoliberal economic theory with an analytic logic for debt writedowns based on the ability to pay. The guiding principle of the needed development-oriented logic of international law should be that no nation should be obliged to pay foreign creditors by having to sell of the public domain and rent-extraction rights to foreign creditors. The defining character of nationhood should be the fiscal right to tax natural resource rents and financial returns, and to create its own monetary system.

The United States refuses to join the International Criminal Court. To be effective, it needs enforcement power for its judgments and penalties, capped by the ability to bring charges of war crimes in the tradition of the Nuremberg tribunal. U.S. to such a court, combined with its military buildup now threatening World War III, suggests a new alignment of countries akin to the Non-Aligned Nations movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Non-aligned in this case means freedom from U.S. diplomatic control or threats.

Such institutions require a more realistic economic theory and philosophy of operations to replace the neoliberal logic for anti-government privatization, anti-labor austerity, and opposition to domestic budget deficits and debt writedowns. Today’s neoliberal doctrine counts financial late fees and rising housing prices as adding to “real output” (GDP), but deems public investment as deadweight spending, not a contribution to output. The aim of such logic is to convince governments to pay their foreign creditors by selling off their public infrastructure and other assets in the public domain.

Just as the “capacity to pay” principle was the foundation stone of the Bank for International Settlements in 1931, a similar basis is needed to measure today’s ability to pay debts and hence to write down bad loans that have been made without a corresponding ability of debtors to pay. Without such an institution and body of analysis, the IMF’s neoliberal principle of imposing economic depression and falling living standards to pay U.S. and other foreign creditors will impose global poverty.

The above proposals provide an alternative to the U.S. “exceptionalist” refusal to join any international organization that has a say over its affairs. Other countries must be willing to turn the tables and isolate U.S. banks, U.S. exporters, and to avoid using U.S. dollars and routing payments via U.S. banks. To protect their ability to create a countervailing power requires an international court and its sponsoring organization.

Summary

The first existential objective is to avoid the current threat of war by winding down U.S. military interference in foreign countries and removing U.S. military bases as relics of neocolonialism. Their danger to world peace and prosperity threatens a reversion to the pre-World War II colonialism, ruling by client elites along lines similar to the 2014 Ukrainian coup by neo-Nazi groups sponsored by the U.S. State Department and National Endowment for Democracy. Such control recalls the dictators that U.S. diplomacy established throughout Latin America in the 1950s. Today’s ethnic terrorism by U.S.-sponsored Wahabi-Saudi Islam recalls the behavior of Nazi Germany in the 1940s.

Global warming is the second major existentialist threat. Blocking attempts to reverse it is a bedrock of American foreign policy, because it is based on control of oil. So the military, refugee and global warming threats are interconnected.

The U.S. military poses the greatest immediate danger. Today’s warfare is fundamentally changed from what it used to be. Prior to the 1970s, nations conquering others had to invade and occupy them with armies recruited by a military draft. But no democracy in today’s world can revive such a draft without triggering widespread refusal to fight, voting the government out of power. The only way the United States – or other countries – can fight other nations is to bomb them. And as noted above, economic sanctions have as destructive an effect on civilian populations in countries deemed to be U.S. adversaries as overt warfare. The United States can sponsor political coups (as in Honduras and Pinochet’s Chile), but cannot occupy. It is unwilling to rebuild, to say nothing of taking responsibility for the waves of refugees that our bombing and sanctions are causing from Latin America to the Near East.

U.S. ideologues view their nation’s coercive military expansion and political subversion and neoliberal economic policy of privatization and financialization as an irreversible victory signaling the End of History. To the rest of the world it is a threat to human survival.

The American promise is that the victory of neoliberalism is the End of History, offering prosperity to the entire world. But beneath the rhetoric of free choice and free markets is the reality of corruption, subversion, coercion, debt peonage and neofeudalism. The reality is the creation and subsidy of polarized economies bifurcated between a privileged rentier class and its clients, eir debtors and renters. America is to be permitted to monopolize trade in oil and food grains, and high-technology rent-yielding monopolies, living off its dependent customers. Unlike medieval serfdom, people subject to this End of History scenario can choose to live wherever they want. But wherever they live, they must take on a lifetime of debt to obtain access to a home of their own, and rely on U.S.-sponsored control of their basic needs, money and credit by adhering to U.S. financial planning of their economies. This dystopian scenario confirms Rosa Luxemburg’s recognition that the ultimate choice facing nations in today’s world is between socialism and barbarism.

  1. Billy Bambrough, “Bitcoin Threatens To ‘Take Power’ From The U.S. Federal Reserve,” Forbes, May 15, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/billybambrough/2019/05/15/a-u-s-congressman-is-so-scared-of-bitcoin-and-crypto-he-wants-it-banned/#36b2700b6405. 
  2. Vladimir Putin, keynote address to the Economic Forum, June 5-6 2019. Putin went on to warn of “a policy of completely unlimited economic egoism and a forced breakdown.” This fragmenting of the global economic space “is the road to endless conflict, trade wars and maybe not just trade wars. Figuratively, this is the road to the ultimate fight of all against all.” 
  3. Address to St Petersburg International Economic Forum’s Plenary Session, St Petersburg, Kremlin.ru, June 5, 2009, from Johnson’s Russia List, June 8, 2009, #8, 
  4. https://www.rt.com/business/464013-china-russia-cryptocurrency-dollar-dethrone/. Already in the late 1950s the Forgash Plan proposed a World Bank for Economic Acceleration. Designed by Terence McCarthy and sponsored by Florida Senator Morris Forgash, the bank would have been a more truly development-oriented institution to guide foreign development to create balanced economies self-sufficient in food and other essentials. The proposal was opposed by U.S. interests on the ground that countries pursuing land reform tended to be anti-American. More to the point, they would have avoided trade and financial dependency on U.S. suppliers and banks, and hence on U.S. trade and financial sanctions to prevent them from following policies at odds with U.S. diplomatic demands.  
  5. Don Weinland, “WTO rules against US in tariff dispute with China,” Financial Times, July 17, 2019. 

 

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The Spontaneous “Military Coup” in Caracas was Meant to Fail?

Comparison with the Failed June 29, 1973 Coup which preceded the September 11, 1973 military coup against Salvador Allende

Global Research, May 01, 2019

Was it really a military coup? 

Anybody who has lived in Caracas, knows that you cannot wage a spontaneous military coup starting up in Chacaito, an upper middle class residential area, with a view to eventually marching towards the Miraflores presidential palace located in the historical centre of Caracas, without getting caught in dense traffic.  

There are important historical precedents of failed coups caught up in traffic.

Guaido presents the operation as the “Final phase” of “Operation Freedom.” ???

An attempted coup or violent street riots?

Lopez and Guaido released videos on social media, calling on the armed forces to back their efforts and urging supporters to take to the streets, in what they termed as the “final phase” of the so-called “Operation Freedom.” Large crowds of anti-government protesters, as well as opposition lawmakers, made their way to the Altamira overpass. (Venezuela Analysis, May 1, 2019)

The government responded by sending in the riot police, with the Armed Forces using tear gas against the protesters.

This spontaneous so-called military putsch was meant to fail.

Visibly, it was not a carefully planned operation. And Washington was fully aware from the outset that it would fail.  In fact it was carefully staged “not to succeed”:

The scene then saw armed confrontations between the soldiers that backed Juan Guaido and those inside La Carlota airbase.

[Carlota is not a full-fledged military base, it is a former private airport, largely defunct. It is now under the jurisdiction of the State of Miranda, used for both military and civilian emergencies]

According to witnesses in La Carlota [air base], the Venezuelan armed forces fired tear gas towards the Altamira overpass, where civilian protesters began to gather, whereas Guaido’s soldiers returned live fire. Riot police also appeared on the scene to try and disperse the crowds. There are reports of protesters wounded and arrested that are unconfirmed at the time of writing.

At the same time, many of the originally deployed soldiers withdrew from the scene, later revealing that they had been “deceived” by their superiors. Simultaneously, Chavista leaders took to state and social media to denounce what they termed a coup in progress, and large crowds gathered to defend Miraflores Presidential Palace.

Guaido later attempted to lead a march, including some armed soldiers, into western Caracas but was stopped by Venezuelan National Guard forces in Chacaito, some 10 kilometers away from Miraflores.(Venezuela Analysis, May 1, 2019)

From Washington’s standpoint, the ‘putsch” nonetheless served a “useful” purpose. It created a “narrative”, which serves as propaganda and media disinformation.  In turn, the Western media goes into high gear.

The “coup” becomes a talking point for the Bolton -Pompeo national security team. It becomes a pretext and a justification for US military intervention in the name of Democracy at some future date. See Pompeo below

 

National security Advisor John Bolton calls upon Venezuela’s military to intervene, with US support.

Mild thunder before the storm? It sets the stage? What is the intended timeline?

A failed putsch which may be followed by a “real” US sponsored military coup at some later date? That option is already on the drawing-board of the Pentagon.

The failed coup, a sloppy intelligence operation? Unlikely. US intelligence was fully informed.

Was this event planned to fail from the very outset?

***

An Important Historical Precedent, Santiago de Chile. The Failed June 29, 1973 Coup

In Chile in 1973, the September 11 coup d’Etat which led to the assassination of Allende and the installation of a military government was a carefully prepared military-intelligence operation supported by the US. with Henry Kissinger playing a key role.

Of historical significance: The September 11, 1973 coup was preceded by a failed coup on June 29, 1973 , which, in retrospect, was intended to fail.

In 1973, I was visiting professor at the Catholic University of Chile. The following text is an excerpt from an article I wrote in Santiago de Chile in the immediate wake of September 11, 1973 military coup against the democratically elected government of president Salvador Allende.

Bear in mind: The circumstances of  Chile in 1973 as well as the command structure of the (Chilean) Armed Forces were very different to those of Venezuela in 2019.

In the course of the months of July-August 1973, following the June 29, 1973 failed coup, important shifts occurred within Chile’s Armed Forces.In turn, the Christian Democrats were pressuring Allende to bring the military into the government.

Chile: The June 29, 1973 Failed Coup

On June 29, 1973, Coronal Roberto Souper led his tank division in an isolated attack on La Moneda, the Presidential Palace, in the hope that other units of the armed forces would join in. The June coup had initially been planned for the morning of September 27 by Patria y Libertad as well as by several high ranking military officers. The plans were found out by Military Intelligence and the coup was called off at 6pm on the 26th. A warrant for the arrest of Coronal Souper had been issued. Confronted with knowledge of his impending arrest, Colonel Souper in consultation with the officers under his command, decided to act in a most improvised fashion. At 9 am, amidst morning rush hour traffic, Tank Division Number Two drove down Bernardo O’Higgins, Santiago’s main down-town avenue towards the Presidential Palace.

While the aborted June Coup had the appearance of an insolated and uncoordinated initiative, there was evidence of considerable support in various sectors of the Navy as well as from Air Force General Gustovo Leigh, now [September 1973] member of the military junta [on 11 September General Leigh integrated the military Junta headed by General Pinochet]. According to well-informed sources, several high ranking officers in the aero-naval base of Quintero near Valparaiso had proposed the bombing of State enterprises controlled by militant left wing groups, as well as the setting up of an air corridor to transport navy troops. The latter were slated to join up with the forces of Colonel Souper in Santiago.

The June trial coup was «useful» indicating to the seditious elements within the Chilean Armed Forces that an isolated and uncoordinated effort would fail. After June 29, the right-wing elements in the Navy and the Air Force were involved in a process of consolidation aimed at gaining political support among officers and sub-officers. The Army, however, was still under the control of Commander in Chief General Carols Prats, who had previously integrated Allende’s cabinet and who was a firm supporter of constitutional government.

Meanwhile in the political arena, the Christian Democrats were pressuring Allende to bring in members of the Military into the Cabinet as well as significantly revise the programme and platform of the Unidad Popular. Party leaders of the government coalition considered this alternative [proposed by the Christian democrats] as a « legalized military coup» (golpe legal) and advised Allende to turn it down. Carlos Altamirano, leader of the Socialist Party had demanded that an endorsement of the programme of the Popular Unity coalition by the military be a sina qua non condition for their entry into the Cabinet. Upon the impossibility of bringing in the Military into the Cabinet on acceptable terms, Allende envisaged the formation of a so-called “Cabinet of Consolidation” composed of well known personalities. Fernando Castillo, rector of the Catholic University and a member of the Christian Democratic Party, Felipe Herrera, President of the Inter-|American Development Bank and other prominent personalities were approached but declined. (Michel Chossudovsky, The Ingredients of a Military Coup, Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, September 1973)

Minor edits to this text on May 1-2, 2019

Pompeo Lies, Cheats and Steals (But He’s Still a Good Christian)

FEATURED STORY
Philip Giraldi
May 2, 2019
Image result for Pompeo Lies, Cheats and Steals (But He’s Still a Good Christian)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently recounted to an audience at Texas A&M University that when he was head of the Central Intelligence Agency he was responsible for “lying, cheating and stealing” to benefit the United States. “Like we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”

The Secretary made the comment with a grin, noting that when he was a cadet at West Point he subscribed to the Academy honor code, which stated that “You will not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do.” The largely student audience clearly appreciated and irony and laughed and applauded, though it is not clear what they made of the “glory of the American experiment.” The normally humorless Pompeo was suggesting ironically that yesterday’s Pompeo would be required to turn today’s Pompeo into the appropriate authorities for lying and also conniving at high crimes and misdemeanors while at the Agency.

Certainly, some might find Pompeo’s admission a bit lame though perhaps understandable as he arrived at CIA without any experience in intelligence. Someone should have whispered in his ear, “That is what spy agencies do Mike.” And if he found the moral ambiguities vexing, he should have turned down the job. Equally lame has been the international media coverage of the comments (it was not reported in any major national news outlet in the US) which reflected both shock and vindication at finding a top-level official who would admit that Washington does all that sort of nasty stuff.

And Pompeo is not alone in his doing what would have hitherto been unthinkable as many senior figures in the Trump Administration who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution now find themselves conniving at starting various wars without the constitutionally required declaration of war from Congress. Pompeo has personally assured both the Venezuelans and Iranians that “all options are on the table,” while also arming the Ukrainians and warning the Russians to get out of Caracas or else face the consequences. And it is a good thing that he has now learned how to lie as he does so when he keeps insisting that the Iranians are the leading state sponsors of terrorism or that the Saudis are fighting a just war in Yemen.

And then there is the ethical dimension. The United States government is already involved in economic acts of war through use of its sanctions worldwide. It is currently dedicated to starving the Iranian and Venezuelan people to force them to change their governments. This week, a global boycott of Iranian oil sales to be enforced unilaterally by Washington kicks in with the objective, per Pompeo, of reducing “Iran’s oil exports to zero” to deny its government its “principal source of revenue.” The problem with the Pompeo objective is that attacking a foreign government normally rallies the people around their leadership. Also, denying a country income ultimately hurts ordinary people much more than it does those who make the decisions. One recalls the famous Madeleine Albright line about killing 500,000 Iraqi children through malnutrition and disease brought about by sanctions as “being worth it.”

Image result for Madeleine Albright iraq

Pompeo believes himself to be a good Christian. Indeed, a very good Christian in that he believes that the second coming of Jesus Christ is imminent and by virtue of his good deeds he will be saved and “raptured” directly to heaven. He, like Vice President Mike Pence, is referred to as a Dispensationalist, and he also believes that those who are not “born again” and accept Jesus will be doomed to hell. Most Dispensationalists think that the second coming will be preceded by a world war centered in the Middle East referred to as Armageddon, which will pit good against evil. How that shapes Pompeo’s thinking vis-à-vis encouraging a major armed conflict with Iran is certainly something that war-weary Americans should be considering.

One of the really interesting things about fanatics like Pompeo and his dos amigos Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton is how they are unable to figure out what comes next after the “lying, cheating, stealing” and shooting are over. After American air and naval power destroy Iran, what comes next? If Iraq and Afghanistan are anything to go by, “next” will be kind of figured out as one goes along. And as for an end game, fuggedaboutit.

Now let us suppose that with the crushing of the Mullahs all the requirements for Armageddon will be met and Jesus Christ makes his second appearance, what happens after that when the world as we know it ends? Presumably the rapture itself is painless but when Pompeo and Pence arrive at heaven what will they do all day? Play cards? There will be no television one presumes and no Muslims or Latinos to kick around as they will all be in hell. Drinking and smoking are probably not allowed and acquiring a girlfriend will likely be discouraged. One suspects that engaging in philosophical symposia to pass one’s time is not particularly favored by either gentleman.

Why Calling US a ‘Democracy’ Is Both False & Dangerous to Do

Why Calling US a ‘Democracy’ Is Both False & Dangerous to Do

ERIC ZUESSE | 15.03.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Why Calling US a ‘Democracy’ Is Both False & Dangerous to Do

It’s false because it is definitely untrue, and that’s not merely because America has a higher percentage of its residents in prison than does any other nation on this planet, but also because the only scientific studies that have been done of the matter show — they prove scientifically — that the US is a dictatorship by its very wealthiest residents, against all the rest of the population. Traditionally, that’s called an “aristocracy,” not a democracy, but ever since Mussolini in the 1920s, it came to be called “fascism,” which is the successor to “feudalism” and thus is merely the modernized form of feudalism. What used to be called by such terms as “monarchy” or “aristocracy” is thus now called “fascism” but the leopard is the same regardless of what it is labeled, and what it really is a dictatorship. Mussolini sometimes instead called fascism “corporationism” and it certainly is today’s United States Government, even if some people choose to call it ‘democracy’. It’s what the US Government has been scientifically proven to be: dictatorship, by the richest few (the controlling owners of the international corporations), against the entire public.

But even worse than being only false, calling the US a ‘democracy’ is also itself extremely dangerous to the entire world, and here is why:

Every time that the US perpetrates a coup (such as it’s trying now to do against Venezuela) or a military invasion (such as it did to Iraq 2003 and Libya 2011 and Syria 2012- and to Yemen 2015-, and many others) the US regime and its propagandists call it an action ‘for humanitarian purposes’, and for regime-change ‘to bring democracy and human rights’ to that country, and it’s always lies, which wouldn’t even be believed by anyone who knows that the US itself is actually a dictatorship, which it is. So, the lie of calling the US a ‘democracy’ is actually okaying a lying dictatorship by using, for it, the term “democracy,” which this particular dictatorship chooses to refer to itself, for PR purposes.

Calling the US a ‘democracy’ is to support this government that the entire world (in the only polls that have been done of the matter) recognizes to be the most aggressive and dangerous regime on Earth. To smear the good name of “democracy” that way, by calling the world’s most rapacious Government a ‘democracy’, is to assist in corroding that high term of praise, “democracy,” and turning it instead into an insult, which applies to what is actually the globally recognized most aggressive and dangerous nation on this planet.

The United States of America used to be a limited democracy, but now it’s no longer even that, and to call it a ‘democracy’ at all is not only false, but it encourages the world’s most dangerous and harmful regime and sets it as a model for other nations. To encourage evil by lying to say it’s not that but is instead good, is itself evil, or else rabidly ignorant and deceived; but, in any case, it is a very wrong thing to do.

On March 7th the liberal US billionaire who owns Bloomberg News was so much opposed to the over-the-top, far too overtly fascist, billionaires who now control the country, so that Bloomberg News headlined “Pence Asked Merkel to Provoke Russia by Sending Warships to Crimea”, and their reporters opened:

The US leaned on German Chancellor Angela Merkel last month to conduct a naval maneuver in Russia’s backyard aimed at provoking President Vladimir Putin, according to three people familiar with the talks. At a Feb. 16 meeting at the Munich Security Conference, US Vice President Mike Pence urged Merkel to send German warships through a narrow channel between the Crimean peninsula and mainland Russia to show Putin that Western powers won’t surrender their access to those waters, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The German leader refused, they said.

On March 8th, RT (a reliably truthful news-site that the US regime calls ‘fake news’ because it reports truths the US rulers don’t want the public to know) headlined “Caving in to the US? Brussels kills its own money laundering ‘blacklist’ after Washington criticism” and reported that the US regime objected to the EU’s European Commission including in its proposed list of 11 additional money-laundering centers four US territories, after which “the Council of the European Union, which consists of the ministers representing all 28 EU members, justified its decision to reject the document with the arguments that seemed strikingly similar to those employed by the US Treasury.” Page 11 of the European Commission’s 36-page detailed explanation of its proposed list said: “Based on the review of additional information sources, the Commission’s analysis has concluded that 11 additional jurisdictions present strategic deficiencies for the purposes of Article 9 of Directive (EU) 2015/849. Those jurisdictions are the following: Afghanistan, American Samoa, Guam, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, US Virgin Islands, Samoa.” The objective of the additions was to make more difficult the laundering of proceeds from crime. A legal advisory from a law firm representing US international corporations explained that “The US Treasury Department has objected to the inclusion of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands on the grounds that the European Commission did not follow the methodology used by FATF in developing its own list of high-risk third countries, and that FATF standards apply to all US territories.”

Supposedly, the methodology of FATF was more ‘transparent’ than that set forth in the European Commission’s 36-page detailed explanation of its proposed 11 additions. The European Council arrived at its rejection of the 11 additions to the list on the grounds that “The consultation ended on 28 February 2019, with the required majority of delegations having declared their intention to object to the delegated act in question, in particular on the basis that the act was not established in a sufficiently transparent way.” The European Council thus accepted without question the US regime’s undocumented allegation that the US regime’s chosen methodology is more ‘transparent’ than the European Commission’s is. In a press release, the European Council justified its decision on the grounds that it “cannot support the current proposal that was not established in a transparent and resilient process that actively incentivises affected countries to take decisive action while also respecting their right to be heard.” In short: BS. How can either the US regime, or the one in the EU, reasonably claim to be ‘transparent’? It’s ridiculous. That’s merely a relationship between the imperial nation and its vassal-states. They’re all dictatorships, they’re a hierarchy of dictatorships. But only the US dictatorship has been scientifically proven.

Anyone who opposes America’s dictatorship of the world will call the US regime what it is: a dictatorship. This cat is now out of the bag and roaming wildly, almost everywhere, trying now even for Venezuela, the Kerch Strait and the South China Sea. (Calling the South China Sea and Kerch Strait ‘disputed waters’ is like calling the surrounding waters of the US ‘disputed waters’; but only the international bully-regime is deliberately trying to “provoke” other nations in order to get them to buckle to its international dictatorship — which is the US regime, which regime Obama had called “the one indispensable nation,” meaning that all others are ‘dispensable’. It’s clearly not only Trump that’s the problem. It’s the regime, which is the dictatorship, and it outlasts any particular ruler.)

The US is no democracy. It clearly is a dictatorship, by its richest. To call that a ‘democracy’, is to insult democracy itself. Maybe America’s actual rulers would therefore like that.

Why Only Fools Trust America’s Mainstream ‘News’ Media After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

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March 04, 2019

Why Only Fools Trust America’s Mainstream ‘News’ Media After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

Here will be yet another current example to demonstrate that all U.S. mainstream ’news’ media hide from their respective publics that the U.S. Government is lying, when the U.S. Government lies — i.e., that all of the mainstream ’news’ media in America hide the truth, when the Government itself is lying. In other words: the U.S. mainstream ’news’ media are propaganda-organs for the U.S. Government.

While some American news-media are Democratic Party propagandists, and others are Republican Party propagandists, and therefore all of them eagerly expose lies that are of only a partisan naturenone of them will expose lies that both Parties share — such as, in 2002 and 2003, the central fact at that time. They hid that George W. Bush and his Administration were outright lying to the public in each and every instance in which they said they possessed conclusive evidence that, as Bush himself put it on 7 September 2002 (and no mainstream and only one alt-news medium exposed as being a lie): “a report came out of the Atomic — the IAEA that they [Iraq] were six months away from developing a [nuclear] weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need [before invading].” That was his answer when he was asked at a press conference on 7 September 2002, “Mr. President, can you tell us what conclusive evidence of any nuclear — new evidence you have of nuclear weapons capabilities of Saddam Hussein?” Immediately, the IAEA said then that there was no such “new report,” and that the last they were able to find, there was nothing at all left of WMD, nor of an ability to make any, in Iraq. The American news-media simply ignored the IAEA’s denial that they had issued any new report at all such as Bush had alleged they had issued. Republican ’news’-media hid that Bush’s allegation was a lie, and Democratic ’news’-media likewise hid it. And, so, the American people trusted Bush, and destroyed Iraq. (Anyone who says that America’s invasion didn’t vastly harm the Iraqi people is either a liar or else ignorant of the realities, such as the last two links document.)

The example this time will be taken from The Week magazine, which is a compendium of summaries of the week’s ’news’ from America’s major ‘news’-media. The 1 March 2019 issue has this, on its page 8:

Aid for Venezuela: U.S. military planes delivered more than 180 tons of humanitarian aid for Venezuela to the Colombian border city of Cucuta this week, setting up a showdown with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has vowed to block the supplies. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made a surprise visit to Cucuta and told Venezuelan troops stationed at the border that it was their patriotic duty to let aid through. ‘Will you prevent the food and medicine from reaching your own people?’”

The presumption there is that readers are simply too stupid to wonder, “Why should I trust that this military plane doesn’t also carry weapons for supporters of a coup to overthrow Venezuela’s President and to replace him with Trump’s choice, Juan Guaido — trust that weapons aren’t included in the cargo of ‘food and medicine’? Is Trump really so kind a person as to care about the Venezuelan people? Or is this instead yet another U.S. set-up for a brutal coup, such as the U.S. did in 1953 to Iran, and in 1954 to Guatemala, and in 1973 to Chile, and, more recently, in 2014, to Ukraine?”

That ‘news’-report, since it’s from The Week, is about what other U.S. propaganda-agencies are saying, and it’s true about that (they actually are saying this), but it’s summarizing from two very un-trustworthy ‘news’-media, one being a tweet from Senator Rubio on 18 February 2019 that was immediately posted at sites such as ABC News, and the other being a ‘news’-report from the Miami Herald, which added that this shipment came from USAID — and yet they ignored  that USAID is a major part of almost every U.S. coup.

Here’s more context about this incident of ‘aid’-shipments: On 6 February 2019, Britain’s Daily Mail, which is less dishonest about the U.S. Government than U.S. ‘news’-media are, headlined “Venezuelan officials accuse the US of sending a cache of high-powered rifles on a commercial cargo flight from Miami so they would get into the hands of ‘extreme right fascist’ groups looking to undermine Maduro’s regime”, and reported that,

Officials in Venezuela have accused the US of sending a cache of high-powered rifles and ammunition on a commercial cargo flight from Miami so they would get into the hands of President Nicolás Maduro’s opponents.

Members with the Venezuelan National Guard [GNB] and the National Integrated Service of Customs and Tax Administration [SENIAT] made the shocking discovery just two days after the plane arrived at Arturo Michelena International Airport in Valencia.

Inspectors found 19 rifles, 118 magazines and 90 wireless radios while investigating the flight which they said arrived Sunday afternoon. 

Monday’s bust also netted four rifle stands, three rifle scopes and six iPhones.

And here’s yet more context: the independent American journalist Aaron Mate, tweeted on 18 February 2019:

https://twitter.com/

Aaron Mate

Page 136 [near end of Ch. 4of [Andrew G.] McCabe’s new [and only] book [THE THREAT, which was published on 19 February 2019], recounting a [July] 2017 Oval Office meeting: “Then the president talked about Venezuela. That’s the country we should be going to war with, he said. They have all that oil and they’re right on our back door.” [Stated there by the authoritarian McCabe, in order to prove how crude Trump is, and McCabe was not condemnatory of such international thefts of Venezuela’s natural resources, but only of Trump’s crudity.]

12:59 PM – 18 Feb 2019 

Furthermore, yet another independent journalist, Ben Norton, at “The GrayZone Project,” headlined on 29 January 2019, “Corporate Interests – Militarist John Bolton Spills the Beans”, and he provided a complete transcript of a brief interview that John Bolton had done with Fox Business Channel five days before, on January 24th. That interview wasn’t publicized by Fox, and its headline was as dull as possible, “Venezuela regime change big business opportunity: John Bolton”, and the ‘news’-report posted below it was empty of anything important, but Ben Norton captured the entire interview, and on January 29th he posted it to youtube and to The GrayZone Project as a news-report, with the full interview-segment also being transcribed there by Norton. In it, Bolton had said, on January 24th:

We’re looking at the oil assets. That’s the single most important income stream to the government of Venezuela. We’re looking at what to do to that. … We’re in conversation with major American companies now that are either in Venezuela, or in the case of Citgo here in the United States. … It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.

Of course, that’s an attempt at theft of the property of another sovereign nation — theft of natural-resources assets of Venezuela, from the people who live in Venezuela — it’s a huge theft-attempt, which is being bragged about by the U.S. regime. Though they’ve done this type of heist in many instances during the past few decades (including in Iraq, where U.S. oil companies now extract), Bolton’s outright bragging about it is certainly extraordinary, and thus is major news. This was major news that however hasn’t been focused upon except in the few honest sites, all of which are non-mainstream (most non-mainstream sites are just as dishonest as America’s mainstream ones are — they’re fake ‘alt-news’ instead of authentically against false ‘news’, but all mainstream national news-sites routinely report lies stenographically, as if what the Government says is always true, and so they’re propaganda). The GrayZone Project is one of the few honest sites, and Norton luckily discovered this huge news-break from the blunder by Fox Business Channel to have aired it — that revelation having been a freak event by America’s major media, a rare slip-up.

And, finally, the great investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, at the Strategic Culture Foundation, headlined sarcastically but truthfully on 1 March 2019, “Military Intervention and Mercenaries, Inc. (MIAMI)”, and he (a journalist whose trustworthiness I have checked and verified for many years — he’s really one of the best) opened with:

The city of Miami, Florida may have started out as a retirement mecca for winter-worn pensioners from northern climes. However, after the beginning of the Cold War and US military and Central Intelligence Agency intervention in Guatemala, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Guyana, the Bahamas, and other Western Hemisphere nations, Miami became a refuge for exiled wealthy businessmen escaping populist revolutions and elections in South and Central America and spies. The retirement and vacation capital of the United States quickly became the “Tropical Casablanca.”

Now home to thousands of limited liability corporations linked to the CIA, as well as private military contractors, sketchy airlines flying from remote Florida airports, the interventionist US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and exiled oligarchs running destabilization operations in their native countries, Miami – or MIAMI, “Military Intervention and Mercenaries, Inc.” – serves as the nexus for current Trump administration “regime change” efforts. …

Earlier, on February 18th, President Trump had delivered a lengthy speech in Miami, titled “Remarks by President Trump to the Venezuelan American Community”, and this was obviously aimed at passionate enemies of Venezuela’s Government. Here is a typical passage, with accompanying documentations of the actual truth regarding his lies as stated there. Trump’s allegations are in boldface italics, and my commentaries are in regular type within brackets, and linked there to my sources:

Not long ago, Venezuela was the wealthiest nation, by far, in South America. [The allegation that Venezuela’s economy has done less well since Hugo Chavez became President on 2 February 1999 is disconfirmed by World Bank data showing that Venezuela reached its all-time-high economic-growth rate in 2004, 5 years after Hugo Chavez became democratically elected and took office as the country’s President. The economy rapidly declined as soon as the U.S. started its coup-attempts. Furthermore, a scientific study of the data showed in 2017 that: “Mexico’s and Venezuela’s numbers on this question [[of ‘Where would you place our country ten years ago?’”]] with a 1 to 10 scale, from absolutely democratic, to not democratic, throughout the period of 2013-2017, compared to those of other countries in the region, clearly show Venezuela as the country where the highest percentage of people believed that democracy had increased during the 2003-2013 decade. Mexico ranked in twelfth place, out of eighteen surveyed countries. “This comparison helps to dimension the solid sense that Venezuelans had about the strength of their democracy during the Chávez administration, and the weak one that Mexicans had.”] But years of socialist rule have brought this once-thriving nation to the brink of ruin. [That too is false — socialism wasn’t the cause of Venezuela’s economic come-down. Venezuela’s boom-time was the period of massive public-debt buildup prior to the exceptionally high oil prices in 1973-1985, as shown in “Figure 4: Venezuela Real GDP per Capita”. Moreover, as the CIA-edited and written Wikipedia says about Venezuela: ”The election in 1973 of Carlos Andrés Pérez coincided with an oil crisis [[the OPEC oil-embargo]], in which Venezuela’s income exploded as oil prices soared; oil industries were nationalized in 1976. This [oil-nationalization and oil-production investment all at the worst possible time] led to massive increases in public spending, but also increases in external debts, which continued into the 1980s when the collapse of oil prices during the 1980s crippled the Venezuelan economy.“ That “oil crisis” was actually the period of exceptionally high oil prices resulting from Israel’s 1973 invasions and OPEC embargoes, but it was actually hell for Venezuela because Venezuela was losing money on each barrel of oil sold because only the Arabic countries and Iran were able to sell profitably their oil after the period of OPEC”s oil-embargo. Venezuela, seller of the world’ dirtiest oil, after 1976 was losing money on each barrel, when they had to repay all those foreign loans amassed during the boom-period.]  That’s where it is today.

The tyrannical socialist government nationalized private industries and took over private businesses.  They engaged in massive wealth confiscation, shut down free markets, suppressed free speech, and set up a relentless propaganda machine, rigged elections, used the government to persecute their political opponents, and destroyed the impartial rule of law.

In other words, the socialists have done in Venezuela all of the same things that socialists, communists, totalitarians have done everywhere that they’ve had a chance to rule.  The results have been catastrophic.

In conclusion, then, no country in the world has a press that’s more dishonest than the United States of America does. “More dishonest” than this press would even be a ludicrous concept. Though the particular lies that are being promoted elsewhere might happen to be different, they can’t be worse. America’s having destroyed Iran and Libya, etc., is proof of this.

Consequently: Only people who possess a thoroughly scientific orientation toward confirming and disconfirming allegations, are capable of extracting from such ‘news’ a realistic understanding of what’s actually happening. The vast majority of people can be fooled, and they can be fooled constantly and even for (as in the instance of America, since at least 2003) decades, and yet still trust the institutions that have deceived them so mercilessly through all of those decades. This is the major reason why the United States is a dictatorship, not a democracy — and why any ‘news’-site which calls the U.S. a ‘democracy’ is thereby clearly demonstrating its untrustworthiness. But, of course, only honest news-reporting organizations are publishing this report. And there will probably be very few that will do that, though all are receiving it for publication.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Vesti Exclusive! Evo Morales Shares His Insight Into the Venezuelan CIA Coup Situation!

Source

February 20, 2019

Vesti Exclusive! Evo Morales Shares His Insight Into the Venezuelan CIA Coup Situation!

Vesti Exclusive! Evo Morales Shares His Insight Into the Venezuelan CIA Coup Situation!

Donbass – Military-Political Aspects

Source

February 19, 2019

Donbass – Military-Political Aspects

By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with 
https://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-donbass-military-political-aspects/ 
source:
 http://alternatio.org/articles/articles/item/67719-donbass-voenno-politicheskie-aspekty

 

Donbass, like any frontline territory with a non-determined status, is periodically covered by waves of rumours – the most improbable and the most absurd rumours, which nevertheless are spread with the speed of a virus. Despite their regular repetitiveness and regular falsifiability, they, appearing again and again, invoke trust again and again. The number of people living in Donbass who have a “friend who personally heard from Putin” the latest “artful Russian plans” concerning the fates of the People’s Republics concedes only to the number of those who “heard personally from Pushilin” the same thing.

Recently, in connection with the Ukrainian elections, rumours (which have periodically appeared over five years) became more active again that right now there is the desire to return the DPR/LPR into the structure of Ukraine. This rumour is absurd, since right now (before elections) it’s not only politically unprofitable (Russia doesn’t support Poroshenko) to return Donbass to Ukraine, but it is also technically impossible (there isn’t enough time to implement the necessary procedures).

It is obvious that the activisation of this rumour is partially connected to the recent statement of Medvedchuk, who proposed to Kiev, for the sake of ending the war and preserving Donbass as a part of Ukraine, to change the Constitution for the purpose of creating wide autonomy in Donbass. However, since Medvedchuk plays up to Tymoshenko against Poroshenko, it is clear that Kiev could start the implementation of these ideas no earlier than the elections will conclude if Tymoshenko becomes the president.

At the same time, it is necessary to consider that Yuliya Tymoshenko angrily condemned Viktor Medvedchuk’s proposal, because now she acts from a more radical nationalist position than Poroshenko in order to win the favour and support of nationalist radicals, who will indeed decide the outcome of elections. Therefore, nobody will be able to integrate Donbass anywhere either before presidential elections or immediately after them. And after this parliamentary elections will start. Thus, if there were indeed such plans, then starting their implementation earlier than a year and a half later would be practically unrealistic. For this, as a minimum, the position of Kiev must cardinally exchange. And what will happen to Donbass, Ukraine, and the world in a year’s time only God knows, and even this is with a known amount of conditionality, because he granted every person the right to make a free choice between good and evil, and the fates of countries and civilisations consist of millions of these free choices.

However, the constant sense of danger accompanying the inhabitants of Donbass is based not only on such inadequate interpretations of the bright speeches of Kiev or Moscow politicians. The main irritating factor is the non-determined status. People can’t understand why Russia didn’t take them following the example of Crimea, why the Kiev authorities were recognised in 2014, and for what purpose were the Minsk Agreements reached? Hence the wavering when the rumour about handing over Donbass “already tomorrow” is replaced by the rumour that right now Russia will not recognise the 2019 elections, will capture Kiev, and Donbass will at last enter the structure of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, the military-political situation that predetermined the fate of Donbass for the nearest years developed in 2014 and hasn’t yet changed. In 2014 a window of opportunities was indeed opened and was far from being exhausted by the return of Crimea to the structure of Russia and the declaration of DPR/LPR.

Before the February coup of 2014 the possibility of the entry of all of Ukraine into the Customs Union was quite real. For this purpose Yanukovych needed to only disperse Maidan and jail all prominent politicians who supported the coup attempt. This decision completely depended on a subjective factor – the personal will of Yanukovych, the level of his intelligence, and his adequacy in his job.

After the coup, during February-April a campaign to Kiev of the uprising Southeast was possible, with the informal support of Russia. In such a variant, Western Ukraine, most likely, would’ve already been lost, Crimea would’ve left for Russia (as it already happened), and the other territories, with a new pro-Russian government, would’ve joined the process of Eurasian integration. A key role in the failure of this opportunity was played by both a subjective factor (the absolute lack of readiness of new, put forward by a popular uprising, leaders of the Southeast to think not in the scale of their region {Kharkov, Donetsk, Odessa}, but in the scale of the country), and an objective factor – the idealistic idea of the masses of a revolt based on the thought that it “will be like it was in Crimea” (we will stand two days, and then “polite tanks”will come and we will go home to go about our own business).

None of the representatives of the uprising mass of the Southeast and their new elites understood that the victory of any revolt is in Kiev (in the capital). Nationalists, by the way, understood well that until they take the capital, they are just rebels, but as soon as they capture government buildings – they are already the authorities, and the mutineers – their opponents. Every region of the Southeast hoped, having marked the revolt and having hid behind Russia, to solve the issue independently and let the neighbour decide for themselves.

Here, of course, a question arises that is often asked not only in Donbass, but also in all of Ukraine: and what, Russia couldn’t liberate Russian lands with Russian people from nominally Banderists, but in reality an American occupation? Evidently, it could. But Russia can “liberate” all of Europe up to the Atlantic (which, by the way, is also under American occupation).

Does this mean that Russia must urgently start “a liberating campaign” in Europe? The question seems to be absurd, but the topic of “a liberating campaign” in Ukraine, which according to its status differs little from Serbia, is constantly discussed by the Russian and the pro-Russia Ukrainian public. Yes, in Ukraine there was a coup. But international law doesn’t provide the possibility of an incursion into an independent state only because of a violent change of power. Yes, our western “partners” often carry out coups and/or interfere in independent states under the pretext of eliminating the consequences of the coup. Nevertheless, even now, when not only the spirit, but also the letter of international law is consciously ignored in most cases by the majority of countries, such invasions/interventions are outwardly given shape in accordance with international law. For example, some local oppositionist is found (or brought, like how the USSR brought Babrak Karmal from Czechoslovakia to Afghanistan), a real or fake resistance movement is formed around them, it then establishes control over some territories, provides the transition of some officials and military personnel to its side, and only after this do foreign troops appear in the country “for the purpose of stopping bloodshed”. The appearance of “polite people” in Crimea was given shape precisely like this. Civil standoff, the threat of mass bloodshed, the non-recognition of the Kiev coup by local parliament – only after this did Russia appear there officially. And everything that was unofficial was already in play.

The corresponding conditions didn’t develop anywhere else across the entire territory of Ukraine. Yes, there were rallies that gathered 1,000/2,000 people. Yes, the regional state administrations were taken by storm. Yes, “people’s governors” were proclaimed. But at the same time, except in Crimea, in no region did the official authorities refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the coup in Kiev. Thus, Russia found itself in front of the formally monolithic unity of a 45-million state, all the authorities of which, including regional ones in the Southeast, refused to recognise Yanukovych as legitimate. But counteraction was demonstrated by several tens of thousands of people over all the country. This counteraction was unorganised, they weren’t able to either reach an agreement among themselves or formulate their aims clearly.

So from the point of view of international law, in 2014 Russia had nobody to stand up for. Those abstract “we were waiting [for Russia to liberate us]” – who indeed were in the millions – couldn’t be considered, counted, and their non-publicly expressed will presented as a justification of a right to intervene by anyone.

Of course, there was an option to spit on the legal justification of actions and to act by the right of might. But for the sake of what? An overland corridor to Crimea? This issue was solved with the help of the Crimean Bridge. Meanwhile it was clear that it won’t be possible to capture all of Ukraine in 2014. In the West (and even in the center) most of the population would be against it. And an appeal to the US, EU, and NATO with a request for help will surely be expressed. And it will be heard.

I.e., the partition of Ukraine was possible, and it’s not a fact that it would be succeeded to take all of Novorossiya and to punch a corridor up to Transnistria. It is rather on the contrary – neither Kiev, nor western “partners” were obviously going to hand over Odessa, the strangling of Transnistria in a situation of military-political chaos was quite real, and it was possible to do it quickly, during a couple of days (so that Russia has no time to react). The most sad thing in this chapter is that a part of the gas pipelines + gas storages would all the same remain under the control of the Banderist government. Only it would speak rightfully about Russian aggression, and for our friends in the EU it would be almost impossible to defend the idea of “Nord Stream-2”.

Russia would thus receive a small territorial accretion with a population that is far from being ready to fit into the Russian political system (this is seen even in the example of the small and most Russian in Ukraine Crimea), but its economic partnership with the EU would be interrupted and political relations would reach a level close to a military confrontation. Those same US bases that so far have appeared in Europe in a very moderate quantity only because most Europeans are against the deployment of new American forces would appear there without problem.

It would be necessary to manyfold strengthen the Western grouping of troops, including in the attached territories. And besides this, for the creation of an effective system of management and control it would be necessary to send a large number of administrative staff from Russia to the attached territories, and also forces of the police and FSB (Ukrainian statehood was almost destroyed, the remaining officials in their majority are incompetent, and the system of management has been destroyed).

It would be a question of the need to resettle in Ukraine hundreds of thousands of people (1-2 million, if to count them with their families) for the long term. These people would be perceived there as “Varangians” who were sent to govern (but after all, we can do it ourselves) and who “prevents us from living” in the way that “we got used to”. Since this moment any problem would be a problem “caused by Russia”, which didn’t give, do, or provide something. After all, the governors are Russian. Soon the era of “European integration” would start being remembered with nostalgia, especially since sharply increasing the standard of living of 20 million people is almost impossible, but forcing everyone to pay taxes (only the lazy in Ukraine didn’t avoid paying them) is actually very easy. Besides this, the freezing in the Ukrainian (and in general in the Western) direction of a considerable (from a third to a half) of the entire military capacity of Russia would block the possibility of pursuing an active foreign policy (including in Syria). There wouldn’t be simply anything left that could offer support.

A hypothetical Ukrainian campaign didn’t correspond to the principle, according to Liddel Hart, requirement of a successful war: “Victory is such a post-war peace that is better than the pre-war one, at least for you”.

But maybe it was possible to integrate at least Donbass into Russia following the Crimean example? No, it wasn’t. As was already said, legitimate regional authorities didn’t support the revolt. Only about a third of the total area of two regions and a half of that territory on which an independence referendum was held appeared in the hands of the revolters. To recognise and integrate them into Russia (and they can’t survive independently) is possible only within the framework of the territory under its control today. Supporting an offensive of the DPR/LPR up to the borders of regions means to start a war that leads to the partition of Ukraine, but Russia will receive even less than the biggest part of Novorossiya – it will be just two regions. The other consequences, perhaps, are a little more soft, but in general they are the same. Besides this, it is necessary to understand that by making peace on the condition of the integration of Donbass, Russia would practically reconcile with the loss of the rest of Ukraine forever (or as far as it is possible to speak about “forever” in politics in principle). I.e., the losses are the same, and the profit is even less, if we avoid saying that there isn’t any in general.

In fact, this situation of a military-political stalemate that developed in the Ukrainian direction by the summer of 2014 forced Russia to opt to freeze the situation in this direction, having transferred the center of gravity of its efforts to more promising, from the point of view of the global standoff with the US, regions – in order to return to the Ukrainian question in general, and to Donbass in particular, in more favourable conditions.

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