Inside US Afghanistan pullout : The Grayzone interviews Pepe Escobar

August 19, 2021

The Geneva Summit: Nothingburger or Watershed?

THE SAKER • JUNE 17, 2021 

The long awaited summit between Presidents Putin and Biden has finally taken place, but was it a success? Will it change anything? The answer to this question very much depends on one’s expectations. Let’s take a closer look beginning with the context.

Context of the summit

Just about the only thing which both US and Russian observers agree on is that the state of the Russian-US relations is about as bad as can be (in my personal opinion, it is even much worse than during the Cuban Missile Crisis or any other time in the Cold War). As I have mentioned many times, I believe that the AngloZionist Empire and Russia have been at war at least since 2013. Remember Obama with his “Russian economy in “in tatters”? That was the outcome Obama promised the people of the USA (Quick factcheck: the company Deloitte recently polled the CEOs of major Russian corporations and only 4% of them felt “pessimistic” about their financial perspectives as “negative”, 40% replied “same as before” and 56% replied “optimistic”). Of course, this was was not a conventional war, it was about 80% informational, 15% economic and only 5% kinetic. This, however, does not change the fact that this war was an existential war for both sides, one in which only one side could prevail while the other would, if not quite disappear, then at least totally lose its superpower status. This is a civilizational war, which pitted western and Russian civilizational (cultural, social and even religious) models against each other roughly along the following lines:

The US/Anglo-Zionist worldview: we are the “city upon a hill”, the beacon of light and hope for mankind. Our “manifest destiny” is to “expand the area of freedom” worldwide. We have the best armed forces in history, the strongest economy, the best everything. We are the “leaders of the free world” whose “responsibility” is to lead the world. This is not imperialism, this is the “duty” and “responsibility” placed upon us by history. Our values are universal values and must be universally accepted by all. Those refusing to join our model are authoritarian “rogue states”. Russia must accept that because she lost the Cold War and that western values have prevailed. Those who refuse to accept this are “revanchists” who want to overturn the outcome of the Cold War and rebuild the Soviet Union. The US had to expand NATO to the East to protect Europe from “Russian aggression”. Now “America” is back and, with our allies and friends, we will create a “rules based” international order which we will benevolently enforce to the immense gratitude of all of mankind.

Russian worldview:

Russia rejects any form of imperialism, for herself and for others. Russia wants a multilateral world order, based on international law and the full sovereignty of nations. Each nation should have the right to pursue its own cultural, economic, spiritual and civilizational model without being threatened, sanctioned, bombed, subverted or invaded. Russia rejects the so-called “western values” (turbocapitalism, imperialism, wokeness, multiculturalism, militant atheism, critical race theory, gender fluidity, etc.). The US is welcome to fly homo-flags on its embassies, but it has no business telling others how to live. In fact, the US has to accept two closely related realities: first, the US does not have the means to impose its ideology on the rest of the planet and, second, the rest of the planet sees the total hypocrisy of a country claiming to stand for values which itself gets to violate as much as it wants. Any comparisons are immediately dismissed with the words “but this is completely different!!!”.

Again, Russia agrees that the US is welcome to live in a post-truth, post-reality, delusion if it wants, but she also believes, and says so, that the West has no right to try to impose its pretend-values on others, especially when it constantly violates them all when convenient.

The core issue

The core belief underlying these very different worldview is extremely simple: the US sees itself as exceptional and, therefore, endowed with special rights and sees Russia as a much inferior interlocutor which needs to accept the US hegemony upon the world. In sharp contrast, Russia denies the USA any special status and demands that the US leaders accept Russia as an equal interlocutor before any meaningful dialog or cooperation could even be discussed.

I think that it would be fair to say that roughly between 2013 and 2020 both countries exerted immense efforts in a kind of a massive arms wrestling match to show that it, and not the other guy, would prevail.

For a very short while, Trump tried to get some kind of dialog going, but he was quickly and completely neutered by the Neocons and the messianic imperialists in his own camp (I think of Pompeo for example) and his efforts, however sincere, yielded absolutely nothing: Trump was not able to put an end to the war started by Obama.

Then came Biden and, at first, things looked hopeless. Seeing the massive failure of the first US-China meeting in Alaska, one could have been excused to expect a similar, or even worse, outcome from any meetings between Biden and Putin. Many (on both sides) believed that such a meeting was pointless at best since the US had painted itself into a zero-sum corner in which anything short of an exchange of insults would be seen by the US media (and the public opinion it shapes) as a “defeat”, “surrender” and possibly even “treason” by Biden. That is definitely the message conveyed by much of the US media, including Fox.

 


I want to express my total disgust with US Republicans who, for four years, were literally hounded by the US media for Trump’s alleged “caving in” to Putin or even for being a “Manchurian candidate” put in power by “Putin”. Now the Republicans are using the exact same language accusing Biden of “weakness” and for “caving in” to Putin. Truly, the Dems and the GOP are like Coke and Pepsi: different labels, same product. Worse, both the Dems and the GOP place their petty interests above the well-being of the United States and its people. I consider both parties traitors to the US and its people.


What actually happened

In spite of all the nay-sayers (on both sides!), Putin and Biden did meet. True, the meeting did not yield any spectacular results, but it would be wrong to conclude that nothing of importance happened.

First, the tone of the Biden administration towards Russia and Putin did change, remarkably so, especially after Biden’s infamous “uhu, he is a killer”. Some sanctions were lifted, the US basically gave up on trying to prevent North Stream 2 (NS2) from being completed, and a number of small steps were achieved, including:

  • An agreement to discuss cybersecurity on an expert level (something the Russians had been demanding for years, but which the USA rejected out of hand).
  • joint declaration strategic stability (more about that below)
  • An agreement to discuss outstanding issues on an expert level
  • A return of both US and Russian ambassadors to their former positions
  • A discussion on a possible prisoner swap
  • A discussion on possible future arms control agreements

Also of interest are the points which were mentioned in passing, mostly by the US side, but which were clearly not focused on. These include:

  • The Ukraine and Belarus
  • Human Rights (aka “Navalyi” & Co.)
  • Russian alleged interference in western elections
  • Russian alleged covert operations against the US
  • The alleged Russian threat to the EU or in the Arctic
  • Russian ties to China and Iran

That is the official picture. But let’s be a little more wise about this: the US and Russian delegations (about 400 people each) included some very high ranking officials, including the Russian Chief of General Staff. Neither side would have bothered with such a massive undertaking only for the purpose of exchanging threats, ultimatums or insults. And such summits are never organized unless the parties have at least a reasonable prospect of some kind of understanding (this is why the return of the ambassadors was announced before the summit!).

So what really happened here?

To answer that question, we first need to look at what did not happen.

First, it is quite clear that the language/tone of the Biden administration has dramatically changed. This was immediately noticed by the (mentally infantile) US media which attacked Biden in his press conference for not putting enough pressure on Putin. Oh sure, Biden did pay lip service to the usual russophobic nonsense the US media seems to be forever stuck on, but it is quite clear what the US legacy ziomedia did not get what it wanted: they wanted Biden to “unite the West behind the USA” and then “tell” Putin to “behave” and admit something – anything – about the Russian “wrongdoings”. Putin gave them absolutely and exactly nothing. If anything, we could say that he held up a mirror to Uncle Shmuel and that Uncle Shmuel had nothing to say to that.

Second, and for the first time in a very long while, the US did not engage in any threats or ultimatums. If anything, it was quite amazing to see Biden getting angry at an imbecile journo from CNN (I think) who asked Biden why he expected Putin to “change his behavior” when the latter admitted no wrongs. Later Biden apologized, but he was clearly frustrated with the level of imbecility of the US press media.

 


The US media truly showed its true face during both press conferences. With Putin, they asked stupid, leading questions, based on their own delusional assumptions, and Putin easily swatted down these questions by pointing out at undeniable and well-known facts. The Biden press conference was, as usual, completely sanitized with a prepared list of reporters and questions, and with no Russian journalists allowed (pluralism, free media or free speech anybody?!). The infantilized US public did not think much about this, but in the rest of the world – in Zone B if you wish – people immediately noticed the startling difference between the two leaders and between the two press conferences. It will be awfully hard for the US to speak of “freedom of speech” when its President cannot be trusted to talk to his counterpart alone (Bliken never left his side, just like Dick Cheney did for Bush Jr. or Don Regan did for Reagan in his latter years) and cannot take unscripted questions from the (supposedly) “free” media. The US media clearly wanted Biden to go to Geneva, and tell Putin “now you submit or else…” and only the completely ignorant and infantilized US public could actually take that nonsense seriously. When that did not happen, they turned on Biden and accused him of weakness for “making no threats”!


Third, and crucially, by NOT discussing silly issues but by focusing on the real, important, topics underlying the US-Russian relations, Biden de-facto admitted two things:

  1. The US policy towards Russia since 2013 has failed and
  2. Russia is an equal partner to the USA who cannot be bullied, threatened or attacked

So much for “talking to the Russians from a position of force” which ALL the western leaders mantrically promised us. In sharp contrast, the Kremlin did not have to make any threats: the recent military exercises, which truly freaked out NATO and the EU, made any posturing by Russia quite unnecessary.

I am not so naive as to believe that any of this is set in stone.

First, we know that US politicians typically meet with their Russian counterparts and say “A” only to later come back home, cave in to the war lobby, and then declare “non-A”. Trump did that, as did Kerry and many others. US diplomats are mostly ignorant political appointees and/or warmongering Neocons who simply are not intellectually equipped to deal with their Russian counterparts (James Baker was probably the last truly sophisticated US Secretary of State). Second, we all understand that Biden is really “Biden” (the man himself is just a front, real decisions are taken by the collective “Biden”), which means that while he and even Bliken can agree on something, but that by no means implies that they will stand by what they agreed on. Finally, is is objectively really hard to undo that which was done: eight years of self-defeating delusions about itself and the rest of the world have done immense damage to the United States and it would take something pretty close to a miracle to now reverse a course which at least two US administrations have so foolishly insisted on pursuing.

Yet, what Biden did and said was quite clearly very deliberate and prepared. This is not the case of a senile President losing his focus and just spewing (defeatist) nonsense. Therefore, we must conclude that there are also those in the current US (real) power configuration who decided that Biden must follow a new, different, course or, at the very least, change rhetoric. I don’t know who/what this segment of the US power configuration is, but I submit that something has happened which forced at least a part of the US ruling class to decide that Obama’s war on Russia had failed and that a different approach was needed. At least that is the optimistic view.

The pessimistic view would suggest that, just like a boxer who has thrown so many punches that he now needs to catch his breath, the leaders of the Empire just needed a short time break, to “catch their breath”, before resuming the endless cycle of petty attacks, threats and accusations against Russia.

Time will show which group is right. My money is on the pessimists (as usual).

What we can say now is this: the period 2013-2021 saw a huge decline in US power abroad and the explosion of an equally huge internal political and social crises which are still catastrophically hurting the United States (Obama and Trump were truly the weakest and worst Presidents in US history). In sharp contrast, the same 2013-2021 years saw a huge rise in Russian military, political, economic and social power. Denying this reality forever is simply not an option for the USA (even if the US media never reports about this). It appears that the Biden Administration decided to keep up the same infantile language as its predecessors for internal consumption, but decided that a change of attitude on the international front was urgently needed, if only in order to avoid taking on both Russia and China (and, possibly, Iran) at the same time. History also shows that even just talking to Russia from a presumed “position of strength” was useless at best and suicidal at worst. The history of western imperialism in China offers a more ambiguous image, but the current revival of Chinese power under Xi also suggests that the Chinese won’t cave in to their former colonial masters.

What about China?

If China was mentioned at all, it is not official. The Kremlin had already indicated in numerous statements that trying to turn China and Russia against each other was not a realistic option, so on the Russian side there were no expectations of anything changing on that issue. Besides, while China has a lot to offer Russia, the USA has literally absolutely nothing Russia would want or need. The same goes for Iran, albeit at a lesser degree. There are those in the US ruling class who believe that China is a much more dangerous enemy for the AngloZionist Empire than Russia and it is possible that these are the interests which pushed Biden into a more realistic stance. The truth is that anybody who knows anything about the Sino-Russian relationship (which the Chinese now officially call the “strategic comprehensive partnership of coordination for the new era”) understands that these two countries vitally need each other. Did the US diplomats really hope that they could sway Russia to the US side? Probably not. So, at most, what they needed was a short time break or, at least, some kind of temporary stabilization of the “Russian front”.

What about the Europeans?

The Europeans are stuck in some kind of political no man’s land: some want a confrontation at all cost (3B+PU), especially since the EU stopped funding them, while others are clearly fed-up (Germany, France, Italy, etc.) with the current situation. They all realize that something has just changed, but they appear unsure as to what, why and how. And how shall the EU now treat Biden? First, while hating Trump was seen as “politically correct” by the EU ruling classes, hating Biden is quite unthinkable. Second, while Biden did “consult” with the G7 and NATO, these “consultations” yielded no meaningful result. Unlike the summit with Putin, these “preparatory summits” were just nice PR, a feel-good, “rah-rah, we are all united” kind of symbolic event. Think of it as an imperial king visiting his colonies: fun but not very important. But meeting the leader of a “gas station masquerading as a country” required the presence of 400 or so top US officials and months of preparations. Finally, the fact that “Biden” had to yield to Germany on NS2 shows that the grip of Uncle Shmuel on Germany is weakening, “another writing on the wall” which “Biden” apparently read.

So who won?

At this point I don’t think that we can say that anybody won. In fact, the existential war opposing the AngloZionist Empire to Russia is not over. At most, this will be a temporary ceasefire allowing Uncle Shmuel to catch his breath. But I think that we can also fairly conclude that Obama’s war on Russia has failed and that the Biden Administration is more in touch with reality than Obama ever was. How long this new realism will last is anybody’s guess. I don’t think we should put much stock in the idea that now a new era of peace or collaboration has begun. But maybe, just maybe, the USA will stop playing what I call a “game of nuclear chicken” with a superpower which is at least a full decade ahead in military (and civilian!) nuclear technology and delivery vehicles and a superpower which is now working as a binomial with another nuclear superpower, China.

Conclusion: the US-Russian Joint Statement on Strategic Stability

This is the full text of the US-Russian Joint Statement on Strategic Stability I mentioned above: (emphasis added)

We, President of the United States of America Joseph R. Biden and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, note the United States and Russia have demonstrated that, even in periods of tension, they are able to make progress on our shared goals of ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war. The recent extension of the New START Treaty exemplifies our commitment to nuclear arms control. Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Consistent with these goals, the United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.

The language here is very important: it is the repudiation of a major US delusion which began with Ronald Regan’s “Star Wars” and which was shared by each following President: the notion that the US can win a nuclear war against Russia by technologically or economically defeating Russia. The website “Defense One” (which is hardly a “Russian disinformation outlet”) had this to say about this decades long illusion:

Biden can correct the mistakes of the past. The future of missile defense will be thoroughly studied as part of a broader nuclear posture/deterrence review that will be started in the few weeks. Mindful that less expensive offensive weapons can always be developed to overwhelm, sabotage, or destroy any conceivable defensive system, his administration can return to diplomacy, seek verifiable mutual reductions, prevent the development of new threats, and address rising concerns such as the weaponization of space and cyber threats. That would allow the transfer of funds from the weapons that don’t work to programs that will rebuild and add to America’s security.

If this is really what is happening (and we need to wait before coming to any hasty conclusions!) then this is good news. Good news for Russia which has nothing to gain from any “reloaded Cold War” with the West, good news for the Europeans which need to recover at least a modicum of agency, good news for the USA, which is bled dry and is quickly becoming a underdeveloped third world country, and good news for the entire planet which would be devastated by any nuclear war between any combination of superpowers. If this is really what happened.

For the time being, the “crazies in the basement” are still every bit as crazy as before (see here and here for a few good examples). So are the woke-freaks (see here and here). So is the homo-lobby (see here and here). They all hate Russia and Putin with a passion, and they ain’t going away anytime soon. Besides, it is not like “Biden” will do anything other than give them all a standing ovation, full support and millions of dollars to their cause: these “minorities” (more accurately: this coalition of minorities) are the ideological foundation for Biden’s entire presidency, they brought him to power and he cannot renounce them.

How long brainwashed doubleplusgoodthinking sheep will continue to “take a knee” against “systemic racism” is anybody’s guess, however.

On the external front, the US cannot give up its messianic ideology and claims of exceptionalism. This would be truly unthinkable for the vast majority of US Americans. This does not change the fact that, as I have written many times, the AngloZionist Empire and the current US political system are neither sustainable, nor reformable. Besides, empires are almost impossible to reform. That is why they usually end up collapsing. And when they do, they often try to lash out at those they blame for their own failures. This is exactly what has been going on since 2013 and this will not and, in fact, cannot change until the final – and inevitable – collapse.

There will be no friendship or even partnership between the USA and Russia for as long as the USA will continue to serve as the latest host for the parasitic AngloZionist Empire. Аs the spokesman for Putin, Peskov, just declared “So far, there are no reasons to exclude the United States from the list of unfriendly countries“.

Finally, did Putin “win”?

I would answer both yes and no. Yes, he did win in the sense that his strategy of dealing with an Empire on the warpath against Russia has been proven extremely effective. All the nay-sayers (liberal or neo-Marxists) have been accusing Putin of caving in to pretty much everything everywhere, yet it is the USA which had to eat crow, drop all its preconditions and ask for a summit. None of the many propaganda attacks against Russia (MH17, Skipal, chem weapons, Belarus, the Karabakh war, Navalnyi, doping, sports and flags, the seizure of Russian diplomatic offices, the kidnapping of Russian citizens, economic and political sanctions, threats, sabre-rattling at the borders, etc. etc. etc.) have worked or even yielded any meaningful results. In that sense, yes, Putin did win. But that existential war is not over, not for the US, not for Russia and neither it is over for China, Iran and any other country wanting true sovereignty.

In that sense, what happened in Geneva is not the beginning of the end (primarily because that beginning of the end has already long taken place, even if it was never reported in Zone A), but it is definitely a chance to change some dynamics on the international scene. The infinite arrogance of the likes of Trump and Pompeo has been replaced by a much more cautious and realistic approach, at least in superpower relations. But Putin/Russia will only have truly won once the US accepts the reality that the Empire is dead and that the USA, like all ex-empires, must now become a “normal” country (like all former empires had to). Sounds easy, but this is almost infinitely hard when imperialism is what you were born, raised, educated and conditioned to live with and when you sincerely believe that your brand of imperialism is somehow benevolent, even altruistic. Russia/Putin will only have truly won once the last empire in history finally gives way to a civilized international world order. Until then, the struggle of Russia – and all the other members of the resistance against the Empire – will continue.

US/NATO vs. Russia-China in a hybrid war to the finish

US/NATO vs. Russia-China in a hybrid war to the finish

March 27, 2021

The unipolar moment is six feet under, the hegemon will try to break Eurasian integration and there’s no grownup in the room to counsel restraint

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

Let’s start with comic relief: the “leader of the free world” has pledged to prevent China from becoming the “leading” nation on the planet. And to fulfill such an exceptional mission, his “expectation” is to run again for president in 2024. Not as a hologram. And fielding the same running mate.

Now that the “free world” has breathed a sigh of relief, let’s return to serious matters – as in the contours of the Shocked and Awed 21st Century Geopolitics.

What happened in the past few days between Anchorage and Guilin continues to reverberate. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Brussels “destroyed” the relationship between Russia and the EU, he focused on how the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership is getting stronger and stronger.

Not so casual synchronicity revealed that as Lavrov was being properly hosted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Guilin – scenic lunch in the Li river included -, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken was visiting NATO’s James-Bondish HQ outside Brussels.

Lavrov made it quite clear that the core of Russia-China revolves around establishing an economic and financial axis to counterpunch the Bretton Woods arrangement. That implies doing everything to protect Moscow and Beijing from “threats of sanctions by other states”; progressive de-dollarization; and advances in crypto-currency.

This “triple threat” is what is unleashing the Hegemon’s unbounded fury.

On a broader spectrum, the Russia-China strategy also implies that the progressive interaction between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) will keep apace across Central Asia, Southeast Asia, parts of South Asia, and Southwest Asia – necessary steps towards an ultimately unified Eurasian market under a sort of strategic Sino-Russo management.

In Alaska, the Blinken-Sullivan team learned, at their expense, that you don’t mess with a Yoda such as Yang Jiechi with impunity. Now they’re about to learn what it means to mess with Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Security Council.

Patrushev, as much a Yoda as Yang Jiechi, and a master of understatement, delivered a not so cryptic message: if the US created “though days” for Russia, as they “are planning that, they can implement that”, Washington “would be responsible for the steps that they would take”.

What NATO is really up to

Meanwhile, in Brussels, Blinken was enacting a Perfect Couple  routine with spectacularly inefficient head of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen. The script went something like this. “Nord Stream 2 is really bad for you. A trade/investment deal with China is really bad for you. Now sit. Good girl.”

Then came NATO, which put on quite a show, complete with an all-Foreign Minister tough guy pose in front of the HQ. That was part of a summit – which predictably did not “celebrate” the 10th anniversary of NATO’s destruction of Libya or the major ass-kicking NATO “endured” in Afghanistan.

In June 2020, NATO’s cardboard secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg – actually his US military handlers – laid out what is now known as the NATO 2030 strategy, which boils down to a Global Robocop politico-military mandate. The Global South has (not) been warned.

In Afghanistan, according to a Stoltenberg impervious to irony, NATO supports infusing “fresh energy into the peace process”. At the summit, NATO ministers also discussed Middle East and Northern Africa and – with a straight face – looked into “what more NATO could do to build stability in the region”. Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Libyans, Malians would love to learn something about that.

Post-summit, Stoltenberg delivered a proverbially somnolent press conference where the main focus was – what else – Russia, and its “pattern for repressive behavior at home, aggressive behavior abroad”.

All the rhetoric about NATO “building stability” vanishes when one examines what’s really behind NATO 2030, via a meaty “recommendation” report written by a bunch of “experts”

Here we learn the three essentials:

1. “The Alliance must respond to Russian threats and hostile actions (…) without a return to ‘business as usual’ barring alterations in Russia’s aggressive behavior and its return to full compliance with international law.”

2. China is depicted as a tsunami of “security challenges”: “The Alliance should infuse the China challenge throughout existing structures and consider establishing a consultative body to discuss all aspects of Allies’ security interests vis-à-vis China”. The emphasis is to “defend against any Chinese activities that could impact collective defense, military readiness or resilience in the Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility.”

3. “NATO should outline a global blueprint (italics mine) for better utilizing its partnerships to advance NATO strategic interests. It should shift from the current demand-driven approach to an interest-driven approach (italics mine) and consider providing more stable and predictable resource streams for partnership activities. NATO’s Open Door Policy should be upheld and reinvigorated. NATO should expand and strengthen partnerships with Ukraine and Georgia.”

Here’s to The Triple Threat. Yet the Top of the Pops – as in fat, juicy industrial-military complex contracts – is really here:

The most profound geopolitical challenge is posed by Russia. While Russia is by economic and social measures a declining power, it has proven itself capable of territorial aggression and is likely to remain a chief threat facing NATO over the coming decade.

NATO may be redacting, but the master script comes straight from the Deep State – complete with Russia “seeking hegemony”; expanding Hybrid War (the concept was actually invented by the Deep State); and manipulating “cyber, state-sanctioned assassinations, and poisonings – using chemical weapons, political coercion, and other methods to violate the sovereignty of Allies.”

Beijing for its part is using “force against its neighbors, as well as economic coercion and intimidatory diplomacy well beyond the Indo-Pacific region. Over the coming decade, China will likely also challenge NATO’s ability to build collective resilience.”

The Global South should be very much aware of NATO’s pledge to save the “free world” from these autocratic evils.

The NATO interpretation of “South” encompasses North Africa and the Middle East, in fact everywhere from sub-Saharan Africa to Afghanistan. Any similarity with the presumably defunct “Greater Middle East” concept of the Dubya era is not an accident.

NATO insists this vast expanse is characterized by “fragility, instability, and insecurity” – of course refusing to disclose its own role as serial instability perpetrator in Libya, Iraq, parts of Syria and Afghanistan.

Because ultimately…it’s all Russia’s fault: “To the South, the challenge includes the presence of Russia and to a lesser extent China, exploiting regional fragilities. Russia has reinserted itself in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. In 2015, it intervened in the Syrian Civil War and remains there. Russia’s Middle East policy is likely to exacerbate tensions and political strife across the region as it extends an increasing amount of political, financial, operational, and logistical assets to its partners. China’s influence across the Middle East is also growing. It signed a strategic partnership with Iran, is the largest importer of crude oil from Iraq, wedged itself into the Afghanistan peace process, and is the biggest foreign investor in the region.”

Here, in a nutshell, and not exactly in code, is the NATO road map all the way to 2030 to harass and try to dismantle every relevant nook and cranny of Eurasia integration, especially those directly linked to New Silk Roads infrastructure/connectivity projects (investment in Iran, reconstruction of Syria, reconstruction of Iraq, reconstruction of Afghanistan).

The spin is on a “360-degree approach to security” that will “become an imperative”. Translation: NATO is coming for large swathes of the Global South, big time, under the pretense of “addressing both the traditional threats emanating from this region like terrorism and new risks, including the growing presence of Russia, and to a lesser extent China.”

Hybrid war on two fronts

And to think that in a not so distant past there used to be some flashes of lucidity emanating from the US establishment.

Very few will remember that in 1993 James Baker, former Secretary of State under Daddy Bush, advanced the idea of expanding NATO to Russia, which at the time, under Yeltsin and a gang of Milton Friedmanesque free marketeers, was devastated, but ruled by “democracy”. Yet Bill Clinton was already in power, and the idea was duly discarded.

Six years later, no less than George Kennan – who invented the containment of the USSR in the first place – determined that the NATO annexation of former Soviet satellites was “the beginning of a new Cold War” and “a tragic mistake”.

It’s immensely enlightening to relieve and re-study the whole decade between the fall of the USSR and the election of Putin to the presidency through the venerable Yevgeny Primakov’s book Russian Crossroads: Toward the New Millenium, published in the US by Yale University Press.

Primakov, the ultimate intel insider who started as a Pravda correspondent in the Middle East, former Foreign Minister and also Prime Minister, looked closely into Putin’s soul, repeatedly, and liked what he saw: a man of integrity and a consummate professional. Primakov was a multilateralist avant la lettre, the conceptual instigator of RIC (Russia-India-China) which in the next decade evolved towards BRICS.

Those were the days – exactly 22 years ago – when Primakov was on a plane to Washington when he picked up a call by then Vice-President Al Gore: the US was about to start bombing Yugoslavia, a slav-orthodox Russian ally, and there was nothing the former superpower could do about it. Primakov ordered the pilot to turn around and fly back to Moscow.

Now Russia is powerful enough to advance its own Greater Eurasia concept, which moving forward should be balancing – and complementing – China’s New Silk Roads. It’s the power of this Double Helix – which is bound to inevitably attract key sectors of Western Europe – that is driving the Hegemon’s ruling class dazed and confused.

Glenn Diesen, author of Russian Conservatism: Managing Change Under Permanent Revolution, which I analyzed in Why Russia is Driving the West Crazy , and one of the best global analysts of Eurasia integration, summed it all up: “The US has had great difficulties in terms of converting the security dependence of the allies into geoeconomic loyalty, as evident by the Europeans still buying Chinese technologies and Russian energy.

Hence permanent Divide and Rule, featuring one of its key targets: cajole, force, bribe and all of the above for the European Parliament to scotch the China-EU trade/investment deal.

Wang Yiwei, director of the Center for European Studies at Renmin University and author of the best made in China book about the New Silk Roads, clearly sees through the “America is back” bluster: “China is not isolated by the US, the West or even the whole international community. The more hostility they show, the more anxiety they have. When the US travels around the globe to frequently ask for support, unity and help from its allies, this means US hegemony is weakening.”

Wang even forecasts what may happen if the current “leader of the free world” is prevented from fulfilling his exceptional mission: “Don’t be fooled by the sanctions between China and the EU, which is harmless to trade and economic ties, and EU leaders won’t be that stupid to totally abandon the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, because they know they would never get such a good deal when Trump or Trumpism returns to the White House.”

Shocked and Awed 21st Century Geopolitics, as configured in these crucial past two weeks, spells out the Unipolar Moment is six feet under. The Hegemon will never admit it; hence the NATO counterpunch, which was pre-designed. Ultimately, the Hegemon has decided not to engage in diplomatic accommodation, but to wage a hybrid war on two fronts against a relentlessly demonized strategic partnership of peer competitors.

And as a sign of these sorry times, there’s no James Baker or George Kennan to advise against such folly.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following talks with Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Guilin, March 23, 2021

March 23, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following talks with Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Guilin, March 23, 2021

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be in this wonderful place, enjoying the unique nature of this province. We really do admire these landscapes, but I can assure you that this has not prevented us from holding extremely business-like and practical talks. They were held in a traditionally friendly and trust-based manner.

We pointed out once again that Russia and China continue their close and fruitful cooperation in virtually all spheres on the international stage despite the coronavirus pandemic, in all the spheres which have been identified as our priorities during contacts between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping.

We will continue to strengthen our relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction. We have had a useful discussion on ways to boost our practical cooperation in the conditions created by the current epidemiological restrictions.

We highlighted the preparations being made for Russian-Chinese contacts at the high and highest levels. We have submitted to our partners a draft joint statement of our heads of state on the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

We discussed our positions on the main international topics and found them similar. Moscow and Beijing stand for developing interstate relations on the principles of mutual respect and a balance of each other’s interests, justice and non-interference in others’ internal affairs. We reject zero sum political games and the illegal unilateral sanctions, which our Western colleagues have been using increasingly more often.

We share the opinion that Russian-Chinese foreign policy interaction remains a vital factor in global affairs. We pointed out the destructive character of US aspiration to undermine the UN-centric international legal framework by using the military-political alliances of the Cold War period and creating similar closed alliances. We noted the growing importance of the joint activities of Russia, China and a wide range of other countries to preserve the current system of international law in the context of the increasing Western attempts to promote its concept of a rules-based international order.

We expressed our appreciation for the high level of coordination at various multilateral platforms, including the UN, the G20, the SCO, BRICS, RIC, APEC, as well as EAS and other ASEAN-based regional cooperation bodies. We spoke about the preparations for the summit of the UN Security Council permanent members, which has been proposed by President Putin and supported by President Xi Jinping.

As Minister Wang Yi said, we have signed a joint statement, which reflects the views of Russia and China on vital issues such as democracy, human rights, international law and the necessity to find collective approaches to solving global problems.

We signed an annual plan for consultations between our foreign ministries. It stipulates numerous contacts this year at the level of deputy foreign ministers and the heads of relevant departments designed to hold practical discussions on a wide range of global and regional matters.

Speaking on behalf of our delegation, I would like to once again express our deep gratitude to our Chinese friends for their hospitality and for substantive joint work.

Question: How does Russia plan on moving away from using international payment systems controlled by the West? Are there any specific agreements with China to create a common system as opposed to the Western ones? What can it be based on? Russia’s Mir card or China’s UnionPay system?

Sergey Lavrov: This work has been underway for quite a long time now in different areas. We have our own financial messaging system. The respective financial departments of Russia and China plan to expand its use.

For many years now we have been trying to transfer trade to settlements in national currencies. There’s a corresponding mechanism which is quite effective. We are switching to the national currency in our trade with other major partners.

This is the imperative of our time. The people behind the global monetary system suddenly decided they were unhappy with the way other countries, in particular China, are using this system. China is beating the West at its own game. Hence, the reaction of the United States. Wang Yi covered this in detail. You cannot do global business by means of ultimatums and sanctions, or force other countries to behave as expected of them. We have a proverb: You can’t force your love on another person. Unfortunately, the United States has not learned this and is acting from the opposite position.

I’m convinced that Russia and China will do their best to ensure their safety and protection against the threats coming from the states that are unfriendly towards our respective countries. This also applies to ways of conducting trade, mutual settlements and everything else that makes us stronger.

Question (translated from Chinese and addressed to Wang Yi): Chinese and Russian vaccines are being delivered to dozens of countries all around the world. There are unfounded speculations that China is promoting “vaccine diplomacy” and Russia is trying to increase its influence. What can you say about this?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Wang Yi): I fully support what Wang Yi said. From the outset of the pandemic, Russia and China have been showing an example of openness, cooperation and mutual assistance. This interaction continues to this day, including in the sphere of vaccine production and distribution. Our respective institutions remain in contact on these matters.

On March 22, President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting on vaccine production and distribution. He clearly spoke in favour of everyone being guided solely by considerations of humanity and the interest of saving lives rather than geopolitical or commercial approaches to overcoming competition. Everyone, including our partners in the West who are trying to portray Russia and China as vaccine diplomacy scammers, must keep this in mind. This is not true.

Question: China and Russia are under sanctions pressure from the United States and the EU. Do our countries plan to share their experience of confronting this pressure? How justified is the opinion that both countries’ tense relations with the Western powers make them move ever closer to one another?

Sergey Lavrov: We have covered Russia and China’s reaction to sanctions and the illegitimate unilateral restrictions already today. We share the understanding that these methods are unacceptable in international life. We have more than once stated our position on this score, including in the Joint Statement. I’m convinced that this approach will be reiterated in a clear and unambiguous manner in the document on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between Russia and China that our leaders will approve.

In addition to our principled approaches that are set forth in public documents, we closely cooperate with many countries at the UN in order to counter these practices. As you are aware, the UN has a Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures. This is already a fairly serious practical move to clarify the unacceptability of this policy. The United States, Europe and the West in general are, in fact, replacing diplomacy, the art which they are losing, with the steps seeking to impose their own rules on everyone else. In their opinion, these rules rather than international law must underlie the international order. Sanctions are among these rules.

Russia and China do not ally against anyone. Geographically, our country is located on the vast Eurasian continent. China is our good neighbour, as is the EU. We have always been interested in promoting our relations across all areas. Europe has severed these relations and destroyed the mechanisms that have been created over many years. There are only a few European partner countries that have a desire to act based on their national interests.

Objectively, this led to cooperation between Russia and China developing faster than what is left of relations with the European countries. Importantly, there are no relations with the EU as an organisation. The infrastructure was destroyed by unilateral decisions made by Brussels. If and when the Europeans decide to eliminate this anomaly in contacts with their largest neighbour, we will be ready to build up relations between us on the basis of equality and a search for a balance of interests. But so far, all has been quiet on the Western front, whereas the East offers a very intense agenda, which is getting more varied every single year.


Further press conferences by Mr.Lavrov during this auspicious visit to China.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi, Guilin, March 23, 2021 – https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4647593

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Chinese media, Moscow, March 22, 2021-https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4646592

Complete press conference:  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi take part in a joint press conference after holding bilateral talks in Guilin, China on Tuesday, March 23.

22.25

For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska

For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska

March 18, 2021

Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi will seek to make shark’s fin soup out of Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan at the Anchorage summit

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

Leviathan seems to be positioning itself for a geopolitical Kill Bill rampage – yet brandishing a rusty samurai high-carbon-steel sword.

Predictably, US deep state masters have not factored in that they could eventually be neutralized by a geopolitical Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.

In a searing, concise essay, Alastair Crooke pointed to the heart of the matter. These are the two key insights – including a nifty Orwellian allusion:

1. “Once control over the justifying myth of America was lost, the mask was off.”

2. “The US thinks to lead the maritime and rimland powers in imposing a searing psychological, technological and economic defeat on the Russia-China-Iran alliance. In the past, the outcome might have been predictable. This time Eurasia may very well stand solid against a weakened Oceania (and a faint-hearted Europe).”

And that brings us to two interconnected summits: the Quad and the China-US 2+2 in Alaska.

The virtual Quad last Friday came and went like a drifting cloud. When you had India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the Quad is “a force for global good,” no wonder rows of eyebrows across the Global South were raised.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi remarked last year that the Quad was part of a drive to create an “Asian NATO.”

It is. But the hegemon, lording over India, Japan and Australia, mustn’t spell it out. Thus the vague rhetoric about “free and open Indo-Pacific,” “democratic values,” “territorial integrity” – all code to characterize containment of China, especially in the South China Sea.

The exceptionalist wet dream – routinely expressed in US Thinktankland – is to position an array of missiles in the first island chain, pointing towards China like a weaponized porcupine. Beijing is very much aware of it.

Apart from a meek joint statement, the Quad promised to deliver 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines throughout the “Indo-Pacific” by the end of… 2022.

The vaccine would be produced by India and financed by the US and Japan, with the logistics of distribution coming from Australia.

That was predictably billed as “countering China’s influence in the region.” Too little, too late. The bottom line is: The hegemon is furious because China’s vaccine diplomacy is a huge success – not only across Asia but all across the Global South.

This ain’t no ‘strategic dialogue’

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken is a mere apparatchik who was an enthusiastic cheerleader for shock and awe against Iraq 18 years ago, in 2003. At the time he was staff director for the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then chaired by Senator Joe Biden.

Now Blinken is running US foreign policy for a senile cardboard entity who mutters, live, on camera, “I’ll do whatever you want me to do, Nance” – as in Nancy Pelosi; and who characterizes the Russian president as “a killer,” “without a soul,” who will “pay a price.”

Paraphrasing Pulp Fiction: “Diplomacy’s dead, baby. Diplomacy’s dead.”

With that in mind, there’s little doubt that the formidable Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, side by side with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, will make shark’s fin soup out of their interlocutors Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the 2+2 summit in Anchorage, Alaska.

Only two days before the start of the Two Sessions in Beijing, Blinken proclaimed that China is the “biggest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century.”

According to Blinken, China is the “only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system – all the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to, because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people.”

So Blinken tacitly admits what really matters is how the world works “the way we want it to” – “we” being the hegemon, which made those rules in the first place. And those rules serve the interests and reflect the values of the American people. As in: It’s our way or the highway.

Blinken could be excused because he’s just a wide-eyed novice on the big stage. But it gets way more embarrassing.

Here’s his foreign policy in a nutshell (“his” because the hologram at the White House needs 24/7 instructions in his earpiece to even know what time it is):

Sanctions, sanctions everywhere; Cold War 2.0 against Russia and “killer” Putin; China guilty of “genocide” in Xinjiang; a notorious apartheid state getting a free pass to do anything; Iran must blink first or there’s no return to the JCPOA; Random Guaido recognized as President of Venezuela, with regime change still the priority.

There’s a curious kabuki in play here. Following the proverbial revolving door logic in DC, before literally crossing the street to have full access to the White House, Blinken was a founding partner of WestExec Advisorswhose main line of business is to offer “geopolitical and policy expertise” to American multinationals, the overwhelming majority of which are interested in – where else – China.

So Alaska might point to some measure of trade-off on trade. The problem, though, seems insurmountable. Beijing does not want to eschew the profitable American market, while for Washington expansion of Chinese technology across the West is anathema.

Blinken himself pre-empted Alaska, saying this is no “strategic dialogue.” So we’re back to bolstering the Indo-Pacific racket; recriminations about the “loss of freedom” in Hong Kong – whose role of US/UK Fifth Column is now definitely over; Tibet; and the “invasion” of Taiwan, now on spin overdrive, with the Pentagon stating it is “probable” before 2027.

“Strategic dialogue” it ain’t.

A junkie on a bum trip

Wang Yi, at a press conference linked to the 13th National People’s Congress and the announcement of the next Five-Year Plan, said: “We will set an example of strategic mutual trust, by firmly supporting each other in upholding core and major interests, jointly opposing ‘color revolution’ and countering disinformation, and safeguarding national sovereignty and political security.”

That’s a sharp contrast with the post-truth “highly likely” school of spin privileged by (failed) Russiagate peddlers and assorted Sinophobes.

Top Chinese scholar Wang Jisi, who used to be close to the late Ezra Vogel, author of arguably the best Deng Xiaoping biography in English, has introduced an extra measure of sanity, recalling Vogel’s emphasis on the necessity of US and East Asia understanding each other’s culture.

According to Wang Jisi, “In my own experiences, I find one difference between the two countries most illuminating. We in China like the idea of “seeking common ground while reserving our differences.” We state that the common interests between our two countries far exceed our differences. We define common ground by a set of principles like mutual respect and cooperation. Americans, in contrast, tend to focus on hard issues like tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea. It looks that the Chinese want to set up principles before trying to solve specific problems, but the Americans are eager to deal with problems before they are ready to improve the relationship.”

The real problem is that the hegemon seems congenitally incapable of trying to understand the Other. It always harks back to that notorious formulation by Zbigniew Brzezinski, with trademark imperial arrogance, in his 1997 magnum opus The Grand Chessboard:

“To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”

Dr Zbig was referring, of course, to Eurasia. “Security dependence among vassals” applied mostly to Germany and Japan, key hubs in the Rimland.  “Tributaries pliant and protected” applied mostly to the Middle East.

And crucially, “keep the barbarians from coming together” applied to Russia, China and Iran. That was Pax Americana in a nutshell. And that’s what’s totally unraveling now.

Hence the Kill Bill logic. It goes back a long way. Less than two months after the collapse of the USSR, the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance preached total global dominance and, following Dr Zbig, the absolute imperative of preventing the emergence of any future peer competitor.

Especially Russia, defined as “the only power in the world with the capacity of destroying the United States.”

Then, in 2002, at the start of the “axis of evil” era, came the full spectrum dominance doctrine as the bedrock of the US National Security Strategy. Domination, domination everywhere: terrestrial, aerial, maritime, subterranean, cosmic, psychological, biological, cyber-technological.

And, not by accident, the Indo-Pacific strategy – which guides the Quad – is all about “how to maintain US strategic primacy.”

This mindset is what enables US Think Tankland to formulate risible “analyses” in which the only “win” for the US imperatively requires a failed Chinese “regime.”

After all, Leviathan is congenitally incapable of accepting a “win-win”; it only runs on “zero-sum,” based on divide and rule.

And that’s what’s leading the Russia-China strategic partnership to progressively establish a wide-ranging, comprehensive security environment, spanning everything from high-tech weaponry to banking and finance, energy supplies and the flow of information.

To evoke yet another pop culture gem, a discombobulated Leviathan now is like Caroline, the junkie depicted in Lou Reed’s Berlin:

But she’s not afraid to die / All of her friends call her Alaska / When she takes speed / They laugh and ask her / What is in her mind / What is in her mind / She put her fist through the window pane / It was such a / funny feeling / It’s so cold / in Alaska.

Washington Has Resurrected the Specter of Nuclear Armageddon

Paul Craig Roberts - Official Homepage

March 17, 2021

Truth Is An Endangered Species:  Support It

Washington Has Resurrected the Specter of Nuclear Armageddon

Paul Craig Roberts

During the 20th century Cold War with the Soviet Union, there were US Soviet experts who were concerned that the Cold War was partly contrived and, therefore, needlessly dangerous. Stephen Cohn at Princeton University, for example, believed that exaggerating the threat was as dangerous as underestimating it.  On the other hand, Richard Pipes at Harvard believed that the CIA dangerously underestimated Soviet military power and failed to grasp Soviet strategic intentions.

In 1976 President Gerald Ford and CIA Director George H.W. Bush commissioned an outside panel of experts to evaluate the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimates. This group was known as Team B.  Under Pipes’ leadership Team B created the perception that the US faced a dangerous “window of vulnerability.”

In conventional wisdom, in order to close this window of vulnerability President Reagan began an American arms buildup.  On this point conventional wisdom is wrong. The Reagan military buildup was as much hype as reality.  Its purpose was to bring the Soviets to the negotiating table and end the Cold War in order to remove the threat of nuclear war.  Reagan’s supply-side policy had fixed the problem of worsening trade-offs between employment and inflation, thus making an arms buildup possible.  In contrast, Reagan regarded the Soviet economy as broken and unfixable.  He reasoned that a new arms race was more than the Soviets could afford, and that the threat of one would bring the Soviets to the table to negotiate the end of the Cold War.

The Soviet Union collapsed when hardline communists, convinced that Gorbachev was endangering the Soviet Union by giving up too much too quickly before American intentions were known, placed President Gorbachev under house arrest.  The Yeltsin years (1991-1999) brought the dismemberment of the Soviet Empire and was a decade of Russian subservience to the United States.  

Putin came to power as the American neoconservatives were girding up to establish US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. As General Wesley Clark told us, seven countries were to be overthrown in 5 years. The American preoccupation with the Middle East permitted Putin to throw off American overlordship and reestablish Russian sovereignty.  Once Washington realized this, the American establishment turned on Putin with a vengence.  

Stephen Cohen, Jack Matlock (Reagan’s ambassador to the Soviet Union), myself and a few others warned that Washington’s refusal to accept Russian independence would reignite the Cold War, thus erasing the accomplishment of ending it and resurrecting the specter of nuclear war. But Washington didn’t listen.  Instead, Cohen and I were put on a list of “Russian agents/dupes,” and the process of trying to destabalize Putin began.  In other words, once an American colony always an American colony, and Putin became the most demonized person on earth.

Today (March 17) we had the extraordinary spectacle of President Biden saying on ABC News that President Putin is a killer, and “he will pay a price.”  This is a new low point in diplomacy.  It does not serve American interests or peace.  

Yesterday a CIA-Homeland Security report was declassified. The “report” is blatant propaganda. It alleges that Russia interfered in the 2020 election with the purposes of “denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” “Russiagate” is still with us despite the failure of the three-year Mueller investigation to find a scrap of evidence.

We desperately need a new Team B like the one the CIA commissioned in 1976 to check on itself.  But in those days discussion and debate was possible.  Today they are not.  We live in a world in which only propaganda is permitted.  There is an agenda. The agenda is regime change in Russia.  No facts are relevant.  There will be no Team B to evaluate whether the Putin threat is exaggerated.

The anti-Russian craze that has been orchestrated in the US and throughout the Western world leaves the US in an extremely dangerous situation.  Americans and Europeans perceive reality only through the light of American propaganda.  American diplomacy, military policy, news reporting, and public undersranding are the fantasy creations of propaganda.

The Kremlin has shown amazing forbearance of Washington’s inanities and insults.  It was the Democrat Hillary Clinton who called President Putin the “new Hitler,”  and now Democrat Biden calls Putin “a killer.”  American presidents and presidential candidates did not speak of Soviet leaders in these terms. They would have been regarded by the American population as far too deranged to have access to the nuclear button.

Sooner or later the Kremlin will understand that it is pointless to respond to demonization with denials.  Yes, the Russians are correct. The accusations are groundless, and no facts or evidence is ever provided in support of the accusations.  Sooner or later the Kremlin will realize that the purpose of demonizing a country is to prepare one’s people and allies for war against it.

Washington pays no attention to Maria Zakharova and Dmitry Peskov’s objections to unsubstaniated accusations.

When “sooner or later” is, I do not know, but the Russians haven’t reached that point.  The Kremlin reads the latest allegations as an excuse for more sanctions against Russian companies and individuals. This reading is mistaken.  Washington’s purpose is to demonize Russia and its leadership in order to set Russia up for regime change and, failing that, for military attack.

In the United States Russian Studies has degenerated into propaganda.  Recently, two members of the Atlantic Council think tank, Emma Ashford and Matthew Burrows, suggested that American foreign policy could benefit from a less hostile approach to Russia. Instantly, 22 members of the think tank denounced the article by Ashford and Burrows.

This response is far outside the boundaries of the 20th century Cold War.  It precludes any rational or intelligent approach to American foreign policy.  Sooner or later the Kremlin will comprehend that it is confronted by a gangster outfit of the criminally insane.  Then what happens?

Our lives between the covers of the Raging Twenties

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March 11, 2021

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

I have a new book out, Raging Twenties: Great Power Politics Meets Techno-Feudalism. For those who don’t use Amazon, here is a mini-guide on how to order and buy the book.

The Triumph of Death, fresco by an unknown artist, housed in a palazzo in Palermo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The journey of a book finding its readers is always an idiosyncratic, mysterious and fascinating process. To set the scene, permit me a short presentation drawn from the book’s introduction.

The Raging Twenties started with a murder: a missile strike on General Soleimani at Baghdad airport on January 3. Almost simultaneously, that geopolitical lethality was amplified when a virus trained its microscopic missiles on all of humankind.

Ever since, it’s been as if time had stood still – or imploded. We cannot even begin to imagine the consequences of the anthropological rupture caused by SARS-CoV-2.

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Throughout the process, language has been metastasizing, yielding a whole new basket of concepts. Circuit breaker. Biosecurity. Negative feedback loops. State of exception. Necropolitics. New brutalism. Hybrid neofascism. New viral paradigm.

This new terminology collates to the lineaments of a new regime, actually a hybrid mode of production: turbo-capitalism re-engineered as rentier capitalism 2.0, where Silicon Valley behemoths take the place of estates, and also of the state. That is the “techno-feudal” option, as defined by economist Cedric Durand.

Squeezed and intoxicated by information performing the role of a dominatrix, we have been presented with a new map of Dystopia – packaged as a “new normal” featuring cognitive dissonance, a bio-security paradigm, the inevitability of virtual work, social distancing as a political program, info-surveillance and triumphant trans-humanism.

A sanitary shock was superimposed over the ongoing economic shock – where financialization always takes precedence over the real economy.

But then the glimpse of a rosy future was offered towards more “inclusive “capitalism, in the form of a Great Reset, designed by a tiny plutocratic oligarchy duly self-appointed as Saviors.

All of these themes evolve along the 25 small chapters of this book, interacting with the larger geopolitical chessboard.

SARS-CoV-2 accelerated what was already a swing of the power center of the world toward Asia.

Since World War II, a great deal of the planet has lived as cogs of a tributary system, with the hegemon constantly transferring wealth and influence to itself – via what analyst Ray McGovern describes as the SS (security state) enforcing the will of the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank) complex.

This world-system is irretrievably fading out – especially due to the interpolations of the Russia-China strategic partnership. And that’s the other overarching theme of this book.

As a proposal to escape our excess hyper-reality show, this book does not offer recipes, but trails: configurations where there’s no master plan, but multiple entryways and multiple possibilities.

These trails are networked to the narrative of a possible, emerging new configuration, in the anchoring essay titled Eurasia, The Hegemon and the Three Sovereigns.

In a running dialogue, you will have Michel Foucault talking to Lao Tzu, Marcus Aurelius talking to Vladimir Putin, philosophy talking to geoeconomics – all the while attempting to defuse the toxic interaction of the New Great Depression and variations of Cold War 2.0.

With the exception of the anchoring essay, this is a series of columns, arranged chronologically, originally published here by Asia Times and also by Consortium News/Washington D.C., and Strategic Culture/Moscow, widely republished and translated across the Global South.

They come from a global nomad. Since the mid 1990s I have lived and worked between (mostly) East and West. With the exception of the first two months of 2020, I spent the bulk of the Raging Twenties in Asia, in Buddhist land.

So you will feel that the scent of these words is inescapably Buddhist, but in many aspects even more Daoist and Confucianist. In Asia we learn that the Dao transcends everything as it provides serenity. There’s much we can learn from Daoist humanism, no metaphysics necessary.

The year 2021 may be even fiercer than 2020. Yet nothing condemns us to be lost in a wilderness of mirrors while, as Pound writes:

a tawdry cheapness / shall reign throughout our days.

The hidden “secret” of this book may be actually a yearning – that we’re able to muster our inner strength and choose a Daoist trail to ride the whale.


Pepe Escobar’s new book is Raging Twenties: Great Power Politics Meets Techno-Feudalism.

 Follow him on Telegram.

America’s Middle East Policy Is Outdated and Dangerous سياسة أميركا في الشرق الأوسط خطيرة وعفا عليها الزمن

**Please scroll down for the Arabic Version first published in Al-Mayadeen **

A New Approach to the Gulf States Needs a Better Foundation

U.S. aircraft at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, April 2016

By Chris Murphy

February 19, 2021

In his 1980 State of the Union address, which came in the wake of the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter described in grave terms the risks of losing access to Middle Eastern oil. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America,” he said. “Such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” That pledge became known as the Carter Doctrine, and it has remained a defining feature of U.S. Middle East policy ever since.

At the time of Carter’s pronouncement, the United States relied heavily on oil imports to power its economy, and 29 percent of that oil came from the Persian Gulf. Even two decades later, little had changed: in 2001, the United States still imported 29 percent of its oil from the Gulf. But it’s not 1980 or 2001 anymore. Today, the United States produces as much oil as it gets from abroad, and only 13 percent comes from Gulf countries. The United States now imports more oil from Mexico than it does from Saudi Arabia.

Yet even as the driving rationale for the so-called Carter Doctrine has become obsolete, it continues to shape the United States’ approach to the Gulf—emblematic of a broader failure of U.S. policy to catch up with the broader changes to U.S. interests in the region since the 1980s. President Joe Biden should acknowledge new realities and reset the United States’ relationships in the Gulf in a way that promotes American values, keeps Washington out of unnecessary foreign entanglements, and prioritizes regional peace and stability.

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There are myriad reasons for strong relations between the United States and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The decisions by Bahrain and the UAE to establish formal ties to Israel are a clear sign of the positive influence these countries can exert. Kuwait and Oman play powerful roles in mediating regional conflicts. The United States’ counterterrorism partnerships with GCC countries, while frequently flawed, are still crucial, as these governments often have information on extremist networks that U.S. intelligence cannot glean on its own. And the United States is broadening its people-to-people ties with the region: today, tens of thousands of students from the Gulf study at U.S. colleges and universities. Accordingly, the United States must make clear to Gulf allies that its goal is not to pull away from the region but instead to create a more substantive and stable link between the United States and the GCC.

But it is past time to admit that there is a central design flaw in the United States’ current approach to the Gulf: the top two GCC priorities for the relationship—sustaining U.S. military assistance to fight regional proxy wars and maintaining U.S. silence on domestic political repression—will, in the long run, destroy the GCC countries themselves. The United States’ objective must be to replace this broken foundation with a new system that supports a peaceful Gulf replete with stable, diversified national economies and responsive governments—the kind of future that leaders such as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman staunchly claim the Gulf is seeking. A U.S.-Gulf relationship built on economic, diplomatic, and governance ties, rather than just brute security partnerships, will accrue to the benefit of both U.S. and Middle Eastern interests.

AVOIDING PROXY WARS

The first step is for the United States to disengage from the GCC’s proxy wars with Iran. The Iranian government is a U.S. adversary, but the festering series of hot and cold conflicts in the region—in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen—has simply served to strengthen Iran’s influence and create cataclysmic levels of human suffering. A pullback from U.S. intervention in places such as Syria and Yemen will, no doubt, cause immediate consternation in the Gulf. By now, however, the enormous costs of the false belief that the United States can indirectly steer the outcomes in Syria and Yemen are crystal clear. In both theaters, the United States’ tepid, halfway military involvement was never substantial enough to tip the balance and has served instead to extend the conflicts. Washington suffers from a hubristic confidence in its ability to accomplish political goals through military interventions. Instead, the most significant effect of recent U.S. Middle East adventurism has been to fuel perpetual wars that embolden extremist groups and allow anti-American sentiment to grow.

It is past time to admit that there is a central design flaw in the United States’ current approach to the Gulf.

Although the United States should retain its security partnerships with Gulf nations, the U.S. footprint should be smaller. Before the Gulf War, the United States was able to protect its interests in the region without massive military bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia and without billions in annual arms sales to these same nations. The foreign policy community in Washington acts as if this massive military presence is now mandatory to protect U.S. interests, even though it wasn’t prior to the creation of the post-9/11 security state. U.S. bases are costly, drawing focus away from increasingly important theaters such as Africa and Asia; they create pressure on the United States to ignore serious human rights abuses lest criticism puts the troop presence at risk; and they stand out as military targets and propaganda fodder for Iran, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State (or ISIS). As U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin undertakes a global review of the United States’ military posture, the Biden administration should seriously consider reducing its military basing in the region. Reconsidering the costs and benefits of basing the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain would be a good start, as the United States’ massive footprint is becoming more trouble than it is worth.

Finally, although the United States should continue to sell military equipment to its partners, Washington should ensure that it is selling truly defensive arms. Today, too many American weapons are used irresponsibly and in violation of international law. Others, such as the recently announced Reaper drone sale to the UAE, fuel a regional arms race that runs counter to U.S. security interests. As it pulls back on systems with more offensive capabilities, however, the United States should still be willing to provide more advanced defensive weapons, such as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile technology, that fit the Gulf’s real security threats.

If Washington does these things, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will inevitably complain that the United States is abandoning them and empowering Iran. The Biden administration’s task will be to convince them that there is an alternative to a never-ending military contest with Tehran. A regional security dialogue that includes all parties can replace the arms race and proxy wars. This may sound like a utopian fantasy, but it is far from it. The green shoots of this dialogue have been showing for years, and able U.S. leadership, applying both vinegar and honey, can begin to create a structure for détente. And although the United States should not give the Emiratis or Saudis veto power over a bilateral nuclear agreement with Iran, a regional dialogue would tie the Gulf countries closer to the United States on Iran policy and likely give the GCC greater input on any future agreement Washington makes.

TESTING DE-ESCALATION

The Biden administration is best positioned to test the region’s readiness for this kind of de-escalation in Yemen. The pieces that have been missing—meaningful pressure and a credible interlocutor—are now moving into position as the Biden administration ends U.S. support for offensive operations and appoints a new special envoy to support the UN peace process. The United States is the only nation that can move the ball forward. If Washington can find a path toward peace in Yemen, where an inclusive post-Hadi Yemeni government coexists with Houthi leaders as the country rebuilds with international aid, it could be proof of concept for a broader dialogue.

De-escalation should be wildly appealing to the United States’ Gulf partners. Declining oil revenues mean these nations will soon need to make hard choices between investing in economic reforms and fighting wars in foreign countries. Given these persistent conflicts and the state control of local economies, attracting meaningful foreign investment to the region is largely a fantasy. For the United States, another benefit to decreased tensions between the Gulf and Iran is fewer incentives for Gulf interests to spread Wahhabi Islam throughout the Muslim world. This ultraconservative and intolerant brand of Islam often forms the building blocks of extremist ideology, and the Gulf-Iran feud fuels its export (alongside its revolutionary Shiite counterpart).

Biden has a chance to reset Washington’s partnerships with Gulf nations.

The United States must also drive a harder bargain with the Gulf states on questions of human rights. In the wake of Donald Trump’s attacks on American democracy, it will be even more important for Biden to match his talk of the rule of law and civil rights with actions at home and abroad. The United States has difficult work ahead to rebuild its global brand, but ending Washington’s hear-no-evil, see-no-evil approach in the Gulf will help.

Still, the U.S. conversation with the Gulf on human rights should be realistic. These countries will not become modern democracies overnight. If the Gulf really wants to attract international investment, however, it must address ongoing brutal crackdowns on political dissent and the lack of the rule of law. Serious outside private investment is unlikely as long as these nations torture political prisoners, maintain a draconian “guardian system” that restricts women’s ability to travel, and constantly harass dissidents abroad. Frankly, Gulf leaders should see expanding political rights as an existential issue. The United States must help these regimes understand that their long-standing social bargain of “no taxation, but no representation either” cannot last. As population growth outstrips oil revenues, royal families will soon no longer be able to afford that payoff. Once subsidies atrophy but repression remains, a disastrous storm of unrest will brew. Luckily, there are models of limited reform in the Gulf that can help the laggards inch along. Kuwaitis, for instance, elect a parliament that maintains some independence from the crown. Although this is far from modern participatory democracy, it provides some guideposts to which more repressive regimes can look.

NO COLD WAR REDUX

In pursuing this new course, some sky-will-fall adherents to the status quo will argue that if the Biden administration drives too hard a bargain, Gulf leaders will turn away from the United States and toward China or Russia. This argument is a red herring, one that plays on a misunderstanding of both the irreplaceability of military alignment with the United States and the willingness of China and Russia to get their hands dirty in Middle Eastern politics. This isn’t the Cold War: Russia has little to offer in the region, and as global oil usage continues to fall, Moscow will inevitably compete with Gulf countries for buyers. Although China will continue to look for economic opportunities in the region, it will be unwilling to play a real security role anytime in the near future. The Chinese navy isn’t going to come to the aid of a Gulf country under attack. If the Bahrainis, Emiratis, or Saudis threaten to turn to other powers, Washington can afford to call their bluff.

As a general matter, U.S. foreign policy has become dangerously anachronistic, an instrument tuned to play a song that the orchestra no longer performs. But U.S. policy is, perhaps, most inconsonant in the Gulf, where the United States’ interests have changed but its policy has not. Biden has a chance to reset Washington’s partnerships with Gulf nations. It will be difficult, painful, and arouse loud protest. But the resulting order will be mutually beneficial, advancing U.S. interests while moving Gulf states closer to the future they claim to aspire to. As they say, the most worthwhile endeavors are never easy.

سياسة أميركا في الشرق الأوسط خطيرة وعفا عليها الزمن

الميادين نت

*ترجمة: ميساء شديد

طائرة أميركيّة في قاعدة العديد الجويّة في قطر - أبريل 2016 (رويترز)

كريس مورفي – “فورين أفيرز” 19 شباط 22:39

السيناتور الأميركي كريس مورفي، يشدد في مقال له في مجلة “فورين أفيرز“، على أنّه لدى الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن “فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج”.

السيناتور الأميركي كريس مورفي يؤكد في مقال له في مجلة “فورين أفيرز“، أنّ السياسة الخارجيّة للولايات المتحدة “عفا الزمن عنها”، مبرزاً أنّ “السياسة الأميركيّة غير متسقة في الخليج، ولدى بايدن فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج”. فيما يلي نص المقال: 

في خطاب حالة الاتحاد الذي ألقاه في أعقاب أزمتي النفط عامي 1973 و1979، وصف الرئيس الأميركي جيمي كارتر بعبارات خطيرة مخاطر فقدان الوصول إلى نفط الشرق الأوسط. وقال إن “أيّ محاولة من قبل أيّ قوّة خارجيّة للسيطرة على منطقة الخليج، ستعتبر اعتداء على المصالح الحيويّة للولايات المتحدة الأميركيّة.. وسيتمّ صدّ مثل هذا الهجوم بأيّ وسيلة ضروريّة بما في ذلك القوّة العسكريّة”. أصبح هذا التعهد معروفاً باسم “مبدأ كارتر” وظلّ سمة مميّزة لسياسة الولايات المتحدة في الشرق الأوسط منذ ذلك الحين.

حين أدلى كارتر بهذا التصريح كانت الولايات المتحدة تعتمد بشكل كبير على واردات النفط لتزويد اقتصادها بالطاقة وكان 29% من هذا النفط يأتي من الخليج. حتى بعد عقدين من الزمن لم يتغيّر شيء يذكر: في عام 2001، كانت الولايات المتحدة لا تزال تستورد 29% من نفطها من الخليج. لكننا لم نعد في عام 1980 أو 2001 بعد الآن. واليوم تنتج الولايات المتحدة نفس القدر من النفط الذي تحصل عليه من الخارج وتستورد 13% فقط من دول الخليج. تستورد الولايات المتحدة الآن نفطاً من المكسيك أكثر مما تستورده من السعوديّة.

ومع ذلك بالرغم من أن الأساس المنطقي لما يسمى عقيدة كارتر قد عفا عليه الزمن، إلا أنه يستمر في تشكيل نهج الولايات المتحدة تجاه الخليج – وهو رمز لفشل أوسع لسياسة الولايات المتحدة المتمثلة بتغييرات أوسع للمصالح الأميركيّة في المنطقة منذ الثمانينيات. يجب على الرئيس جو بايدن الاعتراف بالوقائع الجديدة وإعادة ضبط علاقات الولايات المتحدة في الخليج بطريقة تعزز القيم الأميركيّة وتبقي واشنطن بعيدة عن التشابكات الخارجيّة غير الضروريّة وتعطي الأولويّة للسلام والاستقرار الإقليميين.

هناك عدد لا يحصى من الأسباب لإقامة علاقات قويّة بين الولايات المتحدة ودول مجلس التعاون الخليجي – البحرين والكويت وعمان وقطر والسعودية والإمارات. إن قرارات البحرين والإمارات لإقامة علاقات رسميّة مع “إسرائيل” هي علامة واضحة على التأثير الإيجابي الذي يمكن أن تمارسه هذه الدول. تلعب الكويت وعمان أدواراً قويّة في التوسط في النزاعات الإقليميّة. إن شراكات الولايات المتحدة في مكافحة الإرهاب مع دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي بالرغم من كونها معيبة في كثير من الأحيان، لا تزال مهمة حيث تمتلك هذه الحكومات غالباً معلومات عن الشبكات المتطرفة التي لا تستطيع الاستخبارات الأميركيّة جمعها بمفردها.

وتقوم الولايات المتحدة بتوسيع علاقاتها الشعبيّة مع المنطقة: اليوم هناك عشرات الآلاف من الطلاب من الخليج يدرسون في الكليات والجامعات الأميركيّة. وبناءً على ذلك يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن توضح لحلفائها الخليجيين أن هدفها ليس الانسحاب من المنطقة، ولكن بدلاً من ذلك إنشاء رابط أكثر موضوعية واستقراراً بين الولايات المتحدة ودول مجلس التعاون الخليجي.

لكن حان الوقت للاعتراف بوجود خلل مركزي في نهج الولايات المتحدة الحالي تجاه الخليج: أهم أولويتين لمجلس التعاون الخليجي في العلاقة – الحفاظ على المساعدة العسكرية الأميركية لخوض حروب إقليمية بالوكالة والحفاظ على الصمت الأميركي تجاه السياسات الداخلية لدوله. القمع – سيدمر على المدى الطويل دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي نفسها. ويجب أن يكون هدف الولايات المتحدة هو استبدال هذا الأساس المكسور بنظام جديد يدعم خليجاً مسالماً مليئاً باقتصاديات وطنيّة مستقرة ومتنوعة وحكومات متجاوبة – مستقبل من النوع الذي يدعي قادة مثل ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان بقوّة أن منطقة الخليج تسعى إليه. إن علاقة بين الولايات المتحدة والخليج مبنية على العلاقات الاقتصاديّة والدبلوماسيّة والحوكمة بدلاً من مجرد شراكات أمنيّة وحشيّة سوف تعود بالفائدة على مصالح الولايات المتحدة والشرق الأوسط.

تجنب حروب الوكالة

الخطوة الأولى هي أن تنفصل الولايات المتحدة عن حروب دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي بالوكالة مع إيران. الحكومة الإيرانيّة هي خصم للولايات المتحدة لكن سلسلة الصراعات الساخنة والباردة في المنطقة – في العراق ولبنان وسوريا واليمن – عملت ببساطة على تعزيز نفوذ إيران وخلق مستويات كارثية من المعاناة الإنسانية. لا شك أن الانسحاب من التدخل الأميركي في أماكن مثل سوريا واليمن سيسبب ذعراً فورياً في الخليج. ومع ذلك  فإن التكاليف الهائلة للاعتقاد الخاطئ بأن الولايات المتحدة يمكنها توجيه النتائج بشكل غير مباشر في سوريا واليمن باتت واضحة تماماً.

في كلا المسرحين لم يكن التدخل العسكري الفاتر للولايات المتحدة جوهريّاً بما يكفي لقلب التوازن وخدم بدلاً من ذلك إطالة أمد النزاعات. تعاني واشنطن من ثقة متغطرسة في قدرتها على تحقيق أهداف سياسيّة من خلال التدخلات العسكريّة. بدلاً من ذلك كان التأثير الأكثر أهمية للمغامرات الأميركيّة الأخيرة في الشرق الأوسط هو تأجيج الحروب الدائمة التي تشجع الجماعات المتطرفة وتسمح للمشاعر المعادية لأميركا بالنمو.

على الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تحتفظ بشراكاتها الأمنية مع دول الخليج إلا أن البصمة الأميركيّة يجب أن تكون أصغر. قبل حرب الخليج كانت الولايات المتحدة قادرة على حماية مصالحها في المنطقة من دون قواعد عسكريّة ضخمة في البحرين والكويت وقطر والسعودية ومن دون مليارات من مبيعات الأسلحة السنويّة للدول نفسها.

يتصرّف مجتمع السياسة الخارجيّة في واشنطن كما لو أن هذا الوجود العسكري الضخم أصبح الآن إلزامياً لحماية المصالح الأميركيّة، على الرغم من أنه لم يكن كذلك قبل إنشاء الدولة الأمنية بعد 11 سبتمبر. القواعد الأميركيّة مكلفة ما يجعل التركيز بعيداً عن المسارح ذات الأهمية المتزايدة مثل أفريقيا وآسيا؛ إنهم يمارسون الضغط على الولايات المتحدة لتجاهل الانتهاكات الجسيمة لحقوق الإنسان خشية أن تعرض هذه الانتقادات وجود القوات الأميركية للخطر؛ وهي تبرز كأهداف عسكريّة ومادة دعاية لإيران والقاعدة وداعش.

بينما يجري وزير الدفاع الأميركي لويد أوستن مراجعة عالميّة للوضع العسكري للولايات المتحدة يجب على إدارة بايدن التفكير بجديّة في تقليص قواعدها العسكريّة في المنطقة. إن إعادة النظر في تكاليف وفوائد تأسيس الأسطول الخامس في البحرين ستكون بداية جيدة حيث أصبح الدور الهائل للولايات المتحدة مقلقاً بالرغم من أن الأمر لا يستحق.

أخيرًا على الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تستمر في بيع المعدات العسكريّة لشركائها، يجب على واشنطن التأكد من أنها تبيع أسلحة دفاعيّة حقيقيّة. اليوم يتمّ استخدام الكثير من الأسلحة الأميركيّة بشكل غير مسؤول وفي انتهاك للقانون الدولي. البعض الآخر مثل بيع طائرات “ريبر” بدون طيار التي تمّ الإعلان عنها مؤخراً للإمارات، يُغذي سباق تسلح إقليمياً يتعارض مع المصالح الأمنيّة الأميركية. مع تراجعها عن أنظمة ذات قدرات هجوميّة أكثر يجب أن تظل الولايات المتحدة على استعداد لتقديم أسلحة دفاعية أكثر تقدمًا مثل تكنولوجيا الصواريخ الدفاعية الطرفية عالية الارتفاع (ثاد) التي تناسب التهديدات الأمنيّة الحقيقيّة في الخليج.

إذا فعلت واشنطن هذه الامور فستشتكي السعودية والإمارات لا محالة من أن الولايات المتحدة تتخلى عنهما وتمكنان إيران. تتمثل مهمة إدارة بايدن في إقناعهما بوجود بديل للمنافسة العسكريّة التي لا تنتهي مع طهران. يمكن لحوار أمنيّ إقليميّ يشمل جميع الأطراف أن يحلّ محل سباق التسلح والحروب بالوكالة. قد يبدو هذا وكأنه محض خيال لكنه بعيد كل البعد عن ذلك.

كانت البراعم الخضراء لهذا الحوار تظهر منذ سنوات ويمكن للقيادة الأميركيّة أن تبدأ في إنشاء هيكل للانفراج. وعلى الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة لا ينبغي أن تمنح الإماراتيين أو السعوديين حق النقض (الفيتو) على اتفاقية نوويّة ثنائيّة مع إيران، فإن الحوار الإقليمي من شأنه أن يربط دول الخليج بشكل أقرب إلى الولايات المتحدة بشأن السياسة الإيرانيّة ومن المرجح أن يعطي مجلس التعاون الخليجي مساهمة أكبر في أيّ اتفاق مستقبلي.

اختبار خفض التصعيد

إن إدارة بايدن في وضع أفضل لاختبار استعداد المنطقة لهذا النوع من التهدئة في اليمن. القطع المفقودة من ضغوط ذات مغزى ومحاور موثوق به تتحرك الآن إلى موقعها مع إنهاء إدارة بايدن دعم الولايات المتحدة للعمليّات الهجوميّة وتعيين مبعوث خاص جديد لدعم عملية السلام التابعة للأمم المتحدة. الولايات المتحدة هي الدولة الوحيدة التي يمكنها تحريك الكرة إلى الأمام. إذا تمكنت واشنطن من إيجاد طريق نحو السلام في اليمن حيث تتعايش حكومة يمنيّة شاملة مع قادة الحوثيين وتعيد البلاد بناءها بمساعدة دولية فإن ذلك سيكون على مفهوم حوار أوسع.

يجب أن يكون وقف التصعيد جذاباً بشدة لشركاء الولايات المتحدة في الخليج. انخفاض عائدات النفط يعني أن هذه الدول ستحتاج قريباً إلى اتخاذ خيارات صعبة بين الاستثمار في الإصلاحات الاقتصاديّة وخوض الحروب في البلدان الأجنبيّة. بالنظر إلى هذه الصراعات المستمرة وسيطرة الدولة على الاقتصادات المحليّة فإن جذب الاستثمار الأجنبي الهادف إلى المنطقة هو إلى حد كبير أمر خيالي.

بالنسبة للولايات المتحدة هناك فائدة أخرى لتقليل التوترات بين الخليج وإيران تتمثل في حوافز أقلّ للمصالح الخليجيّة لنشر الإسلام الوهابي في جميع أنحاء العالم الإسلامي. غالباً ما تشكل هذه العلامة التجاريّة المتشددة وغير المتسامحة للإسلام اللبنات الأساسيّة للإيديولوجيا المتطرفة، ويُغذي الخلاف الخليجي الإيراني تصديرها (إلى جانب نظيرتها الشيعية الثوريّة).

يجب على الولايات المتحدة أيضاً أن تقود صفقة أكثر صعوبة مع دول الخليج بشأن قضايا حقوق الإنسان. في أعقاب هجمات دونالد ترامب على الديمقراطيّة الأميركيّة سيكون من الأهم بالنسبة لبايدن أن يطابق حديثه عن سيادة القانون والحقوق المدنيّة بأفعال في الداخل والخارج. أمام الولايات المتحدة عمل صعب لإعادة بناء دورها العالمي لكن إنهاء نهج واشنطن الذي لا يسمع ولا يرى الشر في الخليج من شأنه أن يساعد.  

ومع ذلك يجب أن تكون محادثة الولايات المتحدة مع دول الخليج حول حقوق الإنسان واقعيّة. لن تصبح هذه البلدان ديمقراطيات حديثة بين عشية وضحاها. ومع ذلك إذا كانت دول الخليج تريد حقاً جذب الاستثمار الدولي فعليها أن تتصدى للحملات القمعيّة الوحشيّة المستمرة ضد المعارضة السياسيّة وغياب سيادة القانون.

الاستثمار الخاص الخارجي الجاد غير محتمل طالما أن هذه الدول تعذب السجناء السياسيين وتحافظ على “نظام وصيّ” صارم يحد من قدرة المرأة على السفر ويضايق المعارضين في الخارج باستمرار. بصراحة يجب على قادة الخليج أن ينظروا إلى توسيع الحقوق السياسيّة على أنها قضيّة وجوديّة. يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن تساعد هذه الأنظمة على فهم أن الصفقة الاجتماعيّة القائمة منذ فترة طويلة المتمثلة في “غياب الضرائب والتمثيل السياسي” لا يمكن أن تستمر.

نظراً لأن النمو السكاني يفوق عائدات النفط فلن تتمكن العائلات المالكة قريباً من تحمّل هذا المردود. بمجرد ضمور الإعانات واستمرار القمع ستندلع عاصفة من الاضطرابات الكارثية. لحسن الحظ هناك نماذج للإصلاح المحدود في الخليج يمكن أن تساعد المتقاعسين في التقدم. ينتخب الكويتيون على سبيل المثال برلماناً يحافظ على بعض الاستقلالية عن العرش. على الرغم من أن هذا بعيد كل البعد عن الديمقراطيّة التشاركيّة الحديثة إلا أنه يقدم بعض النقاط الإرشاديّة التي يمكن أن تنظر إليها الأنظمة القمعيّة.

لا داعي للحرب الباردة

في متابعة هذا المسار الجديد سوف يجادل بعض أتباع الوضع الراهن بأنه إذا دفعت إدارة بايدن عن صفقة صعبة للغاية فسوف يبتعد قادة الخليج عن الولايات المتحدة ويذهبون أكثر باتجاه الصين أو روسيا. هذه الحجة مضللة وهي حجة تلعب على سوء فهم كل من عدم إمكانية الاستغناء عن الاصطفاف العسكري مع الولايات المتحدة واستعداد الصين وروسيا لتسخير أيديهما في سياسات الشرق الأوسط.

هذه ليست الحرب الباردة: ليس لدى روسيا الكثير لتقدمه في المنطقة ومع استمرار انخفاض استخدام النفط العالمي ستتنافس موسكو حتماً مع دول الخليج على المشترين. على الرغم من أن الصين ستواصل البحث عن فرص اقتصاديّة في المنطقة إلا أنها لن تكون راغبة في لعب دور أمني حقيقي في أي وقت في المستقبل القريب. البحريّة الصينيّة لن تقدم المساعدة لدولة خليجيّة تتعرض للهجوم. إذا هدد البحرينيون أو الإماراتيون أو السعوديون بالتحوّل إلى قوى أخرى، يمكن لواشنطن ألا تنطلي عليها خدعهم.

بشكل عام عفا الزمن عن السياسة الخارجيّة للولايات المتحدة بشكل خطير وهي أداة تمّ ضبطها لعزف أغنيّة لم تعد الأوركسترا تؤديها. لكن ربما تكون السياسة الأميركيّة غير متسقة في الخليج، حيث تغيّرت مصالح الولايات المتحدة ولكن سياستها لم تتغير. لدى بايدن فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج. سيكون الأمر صعباً ومؤلماً ويثير احتجاجاً شديداً. لكن النظام الناتج سيكون مفيداً للطرفين حيث سيعزز المصالح الأميركيّة بينما يقرب دول الخليج من المستقبل التي تزعم أنها تطمح إليه. كما يقولون فإن أكثر المساعي الجديرة بالاهتمام ليست سهلة أبداً.

*ترجمة: ميساء شديد

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي الصحيفة حصراً

Critics of President Joe Biden’s first foreign policy speech

Critics of President Joe Biden’s first foreign policy speech

February 15, 2021

from Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

The only optimistic part of President Joe Biden’s first foreign policy speech is, “We’re also stepping up our diplomacy to finish the war in Yemen — a war which has produced a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe. I’ve asked my Middle East squad to ensure our support for the United Nations-led initiative to enforce a truce, open humanitarian channels, and restore long-dormant peace talks. This morning, Secretary Blinken appointed Tim Lenderking, a career foreign policy officer, as our special representative to the Yemen war. And I appreciate his doing this. Tim is a life — has a lifetime of experience in the region, and he’ll work with the U.N. representative and all parties of the conflict to push for a diplomatic resolution. And Tim’s diplomacy will be reinforced by USI- — USAID, working to guarantee that humanitarian aid reaches the Yemeni people suffering un- — an unendurable [sic] — unendurable destruction. This war has to finish. And to underline our commitment, we are terminating all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales. Mr. Secretary, it’s great to be here with you. And I’ve been seeing forward a long time to be able to call you “Mr. Secretary.”

It is yearned that there will be an end to bloodshed and loss of human lives.

The most important is he believed, “As I said in my opening address, we will heal our alliances and involve with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s. American leadership must encounter this new era of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disorder our democracy.”

He pointed out to strengthen alliances to counter China and Russia. It means a new cold-war he is going to launch. The world has hurt a lot during the cold war from the 1850s to the 1980s. Although the former USSR was disintegrated as a result of cold-war, the rest of the world has suffered a lot. There is a fear that if a new cold war is initiated against Russian and China, it will divide the world again, hate will be promoted. The lessons learned from the previous cold-war promoted understanding, tolerance, cooperation, and harmony, to develop the world into a better place for our next-generations.

On the other hand, ex-President Trump has annoyed and humiliated the allies so much that some are unwilling to be part of any alliance created to spread hate and coerce any other nation.

The most important ally, Germany, is annoyed, and Chancellor Angela Merkel alleged that the “cold war of alliance” is a new diplomacy devising type since the United States’ Biden administration came to power. It is “the starkest manifestation that one country resists the growth of another country.” Germany believes that China has the right to the upswing. The United States has no right to force other European countries into compliance with the “selfishness” practice of serving the United States. She has condemned the US Biden administration for “forming gangs” against China. The “cold war alliance” act open-minded European countries and the World why Germany asserted this position. She made it clear that Germany will not participate in any US-led activities aimed at “encirclement and suppression” China. She also endorses other countries not to join in this “hegemonic” behavior! Because it will procure no other benefits besides damaging European unity and world economic recovery! She said that the new U.S. Secretary of State Blincoln unabashedly dispensed new threats and sanctions against China in Washington. At the same time, he harshly condemned Europe and should not sign an investment treaty with China behind its back. Great disgust, anxiety, and restlessness in Europe.

Spain, France, and Switzerland shared similar views. Youth in Europe are quite mature and are opposing any initiative for the cold-war.

Regarding the U.S. as custodian of democracy is a false narrative. The U.S. was involved in killing democracy in some of the countries and supporting dictatorship in many countries. The toplinig of democratically elected Adil Morsey, the President of Egypt, is a typical example. Supporting General Sesi is openly supporting dictatorship. U.S. history is full of hypocrisy where they have openly endorsed dictators in their own interests. In the Middle-east, Africa, and many other parts of the world, the U.S. is standing with certified dictators. Even today, the U.S. is supporting many dictators around the globe. The U.S. has double standards and stands with dictators when their interests coincide.

Regarding human rights, the U.S. was using human rights as a political tool to coerce some countries while engaged in human rights violations in the middle-East, Latin America, South America, Africa, and other parts of the world, etc. President Joe Biden was part of policymaking under various presidents in the past to launch a crusade against Muslims, war-crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. He may be in the habit of dictating American terms and conditions during the unipolar world. He may need to change this type of mindset.

Recently, the U.S. uses this tool to coerce China and make propaganda of Hong Kong and Xinjiang issues and keep criminals silent on Human rights violations in Kashmir and Palestine. India and the State of Israel are the two countries that have surpassed the record of human rights violations, but the U.S. is being a close ally with them, kept eyes closed.

Although President Joe and Trump’s rivalry is their internal issue, it seems that President Joe is determined to undo all initiatives and policies launched by President Trump. From Pandemic to foreign policies, he has indicated to reverse Trump’s policies. He has hinted out undo troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, as announced by President Trump earlier. It might have severe consequences on the regional peace and stability. However, President Joe Biden’s approach to re-engage Iran for Nuclear Deal is positive thinking.

President Joe has been served under various Administrations during the last few decades. He is well-matured, well-mannered, and familiar with diplomatic etiquettes, and may not embarrass others. But President Joe is still in the mindset of a unipolar world, where the U.S. was the only superpower. He needs to re-evaluate the geopolitics and understand the revival of Russia and the rise of China. With this changed geopolitics, he needs to assert in an acceptable manner. His team, especially the scholars, intellectuals, and think tanks , may advise him appropriately.

The world needs peace and stability much more than ever. Understanding, tolerance, and harmony is the only option to cooperate with each other to turn the world into a safer place to live with dignity and honor. Any initiative to serve humanity is welcomed, and any policy disgracing humankind is rejected by all equally.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

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”.

Atlantic Council Pens Anonymously Authored Expose Calling for Regime Change in China

Image result for Atlantic Council Pens Anonymously Authored Expose Calling for Regime Change in China

by Alan Macleod

Source

The report outlines a plan for the United States to pursue a China without Xi Jinping, with a weakened Communist Party, and operating in a region dominated by the US and its allies.

Influential D.C. think tank the Atlantic Council has printed a 26,000-word report laying out its strategy for combating China. Published anonymously, the report states that “the single most important challenge facing the United States” in the twenty-first century is China’s growth to rival their own power.

To do so, the report states that the U.S. must use “the power of its military,” the dollar’s role as the global reserve currency, and American control over technology and communication to suffocate the nation of 1.4 billion people. It advises President Biden to draw a number of “red lines” past which the U.S. would directly intervene (presumably militarily). These include Chinese attempts to expand into the South China Sea, an attack on the disputed Senkaku Islands, or moves against Taiwan’s independence. A North Korean strike on any of its neighbors would also necessitate an American response against China, the report insists, because “China must fully own responsibility for the behavior of its North Korean ally.” Any backing down from this stance, the council states, would result in national “humiliation” for the United States.

Perhaps most notably, however, the report also envisages what a successful American China policy would look like by 2050: “the United States and its major allies continue to dominate the regional and global balance of power across all the major indices of power;” and that head of state Xi Jinping “has been replaced by a more moderate party leadership; and that the Chinese people themselves have come to question and challenge the Communist Party’s century-long proposition that China’s ancient civilization is forever destined to an authoritarian future.” In other words, that China has been broken and that some sort of regime change has occurred.

Repping the national security state

The Atlantic Council is a NATO-offshoot organization funded by the U.S. and other allied governments, including the Gulf dictatorships. Among its largest corporate sponsors include weapons manufacturers like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. Its board of directors is full of high statespeople like Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice as well as senior military figures such as retired generals Wesley Clark, David Petraeus, H.R. McMaster, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Lt. General Brent Scowcroft and Admiral James Stavridis. At least seven former CIA directors are also on the board. Thus, the council could be said to represent the consensus opinion of the national security state.

The organization has been responsible for much of the most hawkish, bellicose rhetoric surrounding Russia and China for some time. For instance, it has put out a number of studies that claim that virtually every European political party outside the establishment beltway — from Labour and UKIP in the U.K. to Syriza and Golden Dawn in Greece and PODEMOS and Vox in Spain — are secretly controlled by Russia, functioning as the “Kremlin’s Trojan Horses.”

“The Longer Telegram”

The council’s new anonymous report, named “the Longer Telegram,” is a direct reference to American diplomat George Kennan’s 1946 “Long Telegram.” Kennan’s report, sent from Moscow, argued that the U.S. should completely abandon its wartime alliance with the Soviet Union and immediately pursue a strategy of hostile “containment,” and is considered one of the founding documents of the Cold War. By consciously associating itself with Kennan, the Atlantic Council is implicitly heralding the arrival of a new global conflict with China.

Kennan is appreciated among historians for being one of the most straightforward talkers in the national security establishment. In 1948 he outlined what the U.S. position and interests were:

We have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population…. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity…We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction…We should cease to talk about vague and… unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

Biden takes the helm

Throughout 2020, President Biden’s team quietly stated that their entire industrial and foreign policy would revolve around “compet[ing] with China,” with their top priorities being “dealing with authoritarian governments, defending democracy and tackling corruption, as well as understanding how these challenges intersect with new technologies, such as 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology.” The Trump administration had already begun a global campaign to damage Chinese giants like Huawei and TikTok. From his team’s statements, it appears likely that Biden will carry on its anti-Beijing stance.

However, many top officials in Washington see the prospect of a hot war with China as a distant one. “Most of the U.S.-China competition is not going to be fighting World War Three…It’s going to be kicking each other under the table,” one source told the Financial Times in May. Others argue for a worldwide culture war against Beijing, including the Pentagon commissioning “Taiwanese Tom Clancy” novels, intended to demonize China and demoralize its citizens, bombarding its people with stories of the deaths of their (only) children.

Whatever Washington decides to do, it appears that the groundwork has already been laid at home. Just three years ago, Americans had a neutral view of China (and nine years ago it was strongly favorable). Today, the same polls show that 73% of Americans dislike China, with only 22% holding a positive opinion of the country. Thus, it is far from clear that there will be much public pushback at all to a coming second Cold War.

These Are Russia’s Five Most Important Tasks For Surviving World War C

By Andrew Korybko

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These Are Russia

The full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes brought about over the past year by the world’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19 can best be described as World War C, and Russia will need to prioritize five tasks in order to survive it in 2021 and beyond: continue practicing “vaccine diplomacy”; lead the “Great Reset”/”Fourth Industrial Revolution”; adjust to the “Great Socio-Civilizational Reset”; defend itself from Western aggression in the New Cold War; and perfect its geostrategic “balancing” act.

Welcome To World War C

The past year saw the opening of Pandora’s box after the world’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19 unleashed full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes that can best be described as World War C. This struggle for the future of the world is unprecedented in literally every single way, influencing everything from how people interact with one another and their governments to relationships between states. Nothing will ever be the same after 2020, something that Russia is keenly aware of. It’s therefore doing its utmost to get ahead of these trends in order to avoid falling into its historical pattern of “lagging” behind its peer competitors. In the worst-case scenario, Russia might never “catch up” like it always has a knack for doing at what usually seems to be the very last minute, which is why the five following tasks are of the highest priority in order for it to survive World War C in 2021 and beyond:

1. Continue Practicing “Vaccine Diplomacy”

As the author realized in late November, “Russia’s ‘Vaccine DIplomacy’ Is The Basis Of Its New Global Outreach Campaign”. What’s meant by this is that its sudden rise as a vaccine superpower can be cleverly leveraged to expand influence within its growing number of partner states for the purpose of clinching more comprehensive deals with them in other fields such as the political, military, and especially economic ones. Vaccine cooperation is probably the most intimate form of state-to-state ties because the recipient is literally putting their citizens’ lives in the hands of their partners, who will then inject them with what’s regarded as a life-saving inoculation in order to help their countries return to as much of the pre-World War C domestic status quo as possible with time. By continuing to practice its “vaccine diplomacy” and retaining its superpower status in this sphere, Russia might actually manage to “jump ahead” of its peer competitors and “make up for lost time” by restoring its global influence that was lost after the 1991 dissolution of the USSR. Even more importantly, Russia also has a credible chance of more powerfully shaping the emerging world order if it can succeed with this crucial task.

2. Lead The “Great Reset”/”Fourth Industrial Revolution”

Unlike what the many Non-Russian Pro-Russians (NRPR) in the Alt-Media Community wrongly believe, Russia isn’t against the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “Great Reset”/”Fourth Industrial Revolution” (GR/4IR), but is keenly aware of these plans and actually intends to play a leading role in actualizing them. President Putin attended the WEF’s 2003 meeting in Moscow, while former President Medvedev attended the one in Davos in 2011. President Putin also met with WEF founder Klaus Schwab in St. Petersburg in 2007 and 2008. His most recent meeting with the GR/4IR mastermind took place in November 2019, during which time the Russian leader proudly said that “we have always supported and will continue to support our relations with the forum you founded.” It can’t be known for certain, but it might very well be that Schwab’s 2016 book on the 4IR influenced President Putin’s prediction a year later that “whoever leads in AI will rule the world”, after which he committed his country to becoming the global leader in this sphere. To that end, Russia’s state-run Sberbank is now pioneering Russia’s technological future in the new global conditions of the GR/4IR.

3. Adjust To The “Great Socio-Civilizational Reset”

Socio-cultural and civilizational factors aren’t immune from the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes catalyzed by World War C. The author wrote back in October that a “Great Socio-Civilizational Reset” has begun whereby cultures across the world will become increasingly assertive of their identity, but that this doesn’t inevitably mean that they’ll clash since cooperation between them is still possible on shared interests such as trade. Similar changes are also taking place within civilizations and states as well, such as the growing contradiction between liberal and conservative viewpoints. “President Assad Slaughtered Neoliberalism’s Four Sacred Cows” last month, though, showing that it’s possible to be both anti-liberal and against religious fundamentalism like secular Syria is. Regarding the Eurasian Great Power, “Be It From Birthrates Or Migration, Russia’s About To Greatly Increase Its Muslim Population” since its top mufti predicted that 30% of its people will be Muslim by 2030. In order to best adjust to all these far-reaching changes, President Putin unveiled a new governing policy last October that the author described as “populist statism”, which holds enormous promise.

4. Defend Itself From Western Aggression In The New Cold War

The socio-economic changes that were earlier described have naturally been accompanied by geopolitical ones as well, the latter of which accelerated the ongoing New Cold War between the West and non-Western Great Powers like Russia and China which first became most noticeable in 2014. The US is seeking to “contain” its two top rivals, having piled immense pressure upon Russia in the years since such as by imposing an ever-increasing sanctions regime, moving massive amounts of military equipment towards its borders, destabilizing the states in its so-called “sphere of influence”, and pulling out of strategic arms control pacts. Its parallel moves to “contain” China also pose a threat to Russian interests since the Eurasian Great Power’s security is partially dependent on that of its East Asian strategic partner as well. In addition, the US is also trying to push back against Russia’s growing influence in the “Global South”, particularly in Muslim-majority countries and Africa. As they say, however, “the best defense is a good offense”, so Russia will need to proactively confront these challenges by redoubling its global outreach efforts and prioritizing its characteristic asymmetric responses.

5. Perfect Its Geostrategic “Balancing” Act

The trickiest of Russia’s five most important tasks for surviving World War C in 2021 and beyond is to perfect its geostrategic “balancing” act, which the author constructively critiqued over the summer with the intent of suggesting realistic solutions for fixing its main shortcomings. The most challenging fulcrums in this respect nowadays are between China & India and Iran & “Israel”. The first was most recently addressed in the author’s analysis about how “Russia’s Unofficial Response To India Did Everything Right” (which cites two prior related analyses early on in the text that should be reviewed by the reader for background context) and “Russian & Iranian Experts Finally Discussed Their Differences Over Syria”. The first one also relies heavily on his September 2020 analysis asking “Is Russia ‘Abandoning’ Or ‘Recalibrating’ Its ‘Balancing’ Act Between China & India?” while the second one was similarly influenced by his September 2019 piece titled “Russia’s Middle East Strategy: ‘Balance’ vs. ‘Betrayal’?” The overarching trend is that “Russia’s Foreign Policy Progressives Have Trumped The Traditionalists”, as the author first observed in September 2017, which will continue to unfold into the future.

——————–

Looking forward, Russia has plenty of reasons to be cautiously optimistic about 2021. The past year saw the Eurasian Great Power suddenly emerge as the global vaccine superpower that’s actively practicing “vaccine diplomacy” in every corner of the world. It also saw Russia make tangible progress on attempting to lead the “Great Reset”/”Fourth Industrial Revolution” following the implementation of state-run Sberbank’s visionary plans to become a global technological player. In addition, Russia is rapidly adapting to the “Great Socio-Civilizational Reset” and other related challenges through President Putin’s unofficial unveiling of a new model of governance that can best be described as “populist statism”. The greatest challenges, however, are the need to defend itself from Western aggression in the New Cold War and perfect its increasingly complex “balancing” act. Nevertheless, with President Putin still at the helm, Russia’s prospects of success remain very promising.

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

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

Reforming the EU – Like waiting for Godot!

Reforming the EU – Like waiting for Godot!

October 22, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

There is a human tendency to cling on to cherished beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There was a time, during the heady days of Jacques Delors and the Social Chapter, when the EU appeared to represent a social-democratic and neutral geopolitical bloc; a third force between the USSR as it then was and the US/NATO – this, however, is no longer the case. The EU has long since transmuted into part of an aggressive neo-liberal and neo-conservative imperial alliance under US command. The liberal, centre-left Remainers such as Yanis Varoufakis seem to think that it is possible to reverse this development and get the EU back to its original prototype, presumably by dint of political will. In view of historical developments this view seems increasingly difficult to sustain.

EU/NATO PUSHES EAST.

In particular since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty of 2005 the EU Defence and Security Policy has been aligned with NATO. Indeed, EU membership has become a stalking horse for NATO membership and vice versa. NATO’s geopolitical drive to Russia’s western borders has been concurrent with the EU’s economic expansion – a strategic partnership between a military push and an economic push.

Not surprisingly perhaps the Russians see the siting of US anti-ballistic missile systems on their western borders in Romania and Poland, together with ongoing NATO military exercises involving tens of thousands of alliance troops as something of a provocation. Little wonder we now have a second cold war.

The position of the EU is, in geopolitical terms, completely subordinated to US interests. If there is a Russian-NATO conflict it will be fought on Europe’s turf not on America’s; Europe is ultimately expendable. This much can be inferred from facts on the ground, though this must be kept assiduously secret from the electorates of western Europe. Eastern Europe, however, seems only too willing to serve as the cannon-fodder for the US imperial designs; witness the incessant baying for war on the part of Russophobic states such as Poland and the Baltics, as well as NATO-EU wannabees like Ukraine and Georgia. It was precisely this expansion to the East (or new Europe as it was called by Donald Rumsfeld) which served as the essential prerequisite for the NATO takeover of the whole of Europe. The change has been noted:

EUROPE FROM LISBON TO VLADIVOSTOCK – AN IMPOSSIBLE DREAM.

‘’The destructive Russophobia of the new Europe undermined the credibility and cohesion of Europe as a whole. It had been anticipated that the new members’’ – Poland, the Baltics. etc. – would be ‘socialised’ into the ways of the EU, but, instead, the EU was in danger of reverse socialization incorporating the axiological (ethical – FL) dynamics and virulent neo-liberalism of some of the newer members, accompanied by their prioritisation of Atlantic Security over EU social solidarity.’’ (1)

In its original quasi-Gaullist form the EU might have played a constructive part in the Ukrainian crisis as a third party and disinterested broker between Russian and American interests, but by 2014 the EU had been transformed into something very different from its original configuration: it had become joined at the hip to the US imperial juggernaut. Moreover, the EU’s status in this relationship was subaltern rather than equal. It should be understood that the United States does not do ‘partnerships’ only master and flunkey slave relationships. It is further commented that:

‘’Instead of a vision embracing the whole continent it (the EU) it has become little more than the civilian wing of the Atlantic security alliance … The drift toward a merger with the Atlantic Security system left it bereft of autonomy and policy instruments when it really mattered – maintaining peace on the European continent.’’ (2)

COSTS IN EUROPE OF US FOREIGN POLICY

The terrorism and refugee crisis in Europe – the blowback – was unquestionably traceable to the US bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy in the middle east, this much is obvious to even an impartial observer; but answering the call of duty the western media has strained every nerve and muscle in an attempt to deny what was a blatant fact. Terrorism and refugee flows were ripped out of the wider context in an attempt to obfuscate any causal connexions with these phenomena and US/EU/NATO foreign policy. The media propaganda tsunami notwithstanding the electorates of Europe were able to put 2 and 2 together, and this resulting in an ongoing political crisis in Europe which shows no signs of stabilization and, if anything, seems to be intensifying including the Brexit vote which committed the UK to leaving the EU, and, the electoral advances for the AfD in Germany as well as anti-EU sentiments which in Hungary and Poland has gained significant support from the population of those states. Propaganda and economic stagnation seems to have its limits; like Abe Lincoln said: ‘You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

So much for the geopolitics.

WASHINGTON CONSENSUS CROSSES THE POND

Perhaps as significant is the shift in economic policies and development which has taken place within the EU. Without doubt there has taken a sharp right turn since the 1980s.This policy consists of full-on neo-liberal economic and social imperatives involving the imbibing of a ruthless, winner-takes-all orthodoxy and its equally brutal imposition; Greece is perhaps the most egregious victim of this frugal economic diet, followed by Latvia, Estonia, Ireland, Portugal, Greece and even Italy, all of which are being forced into penury and debt-peonage courtesy of the Troika’s relentless austerity programme.

THE EURO – A NON-OPTIMAL CURRENCY WITHOUT A STATE.

Piling on the agony the creation of the Euro single currency (the key problem) since 1992 has put the Euro member states into an economic strait-jacket. The currency value cannot be changed or devalued to boost national exports during economic downturns such as that experienced since 2008. The result has been that the largest industrial power in the Eurozone, Germany, has benefited from the stable euro while weaker economies on the periphery of the EU, including most notably, France, have endured catastrophic consequences to the rigid Euro rate. The cost and productivity structures of Germany and the northern bloc in the EU, means that its goods will be cheaper than the higher costs and lower productivity levels in the southern belt. It follows therefore that the northern bloc runs permanent trade surpluses whilst the south has permanent trade deficits.

In a new report, the Dutch think-tank, Gefira Foundation, notes that French industry has been contracting since the adoption of the euro. “It was not able to recover after either of the 2001 or 2008 and present crisis because the euro, a currency stronger than the French franc would be, has become a burden to France’s economy. The floating exchange rate works like an indicator of the strength of the economy and like an automatic stabilizer. A weaker currency helps to regain competitiveness during a crisis, while a stronger currency supports consumption of foreign goods.

The only reason that the Germans were prepared to abandon their beloved deutschmark was that it would be replaced by a hard euro whose exchange rate was fixed and overvalued. The euro is an orphan, a currency without a state, and thus a foreign currency to all the European states in Europe.

EASTERN EUROPE:

TWO COLLAPSES. 1. COMMUNISM, 2. NEOLIBERAL CAPITALISM

The EU’s eastern periphery also has problems, but of a different kind. However only the Baltics, Slovenia and Slovakia actually use the euro. It is planned to include them into the euro in the fullness of time. Apart, that is, from basket cases like the Baltics whose government, unlike the people, went where angels feared to tread – into the Eurozone and the euro.

Excluding Russia, of course, these Eastern European states – termed ‘transitional economies’ – have become stalled in economic stagnation which so far has been difficult if not impossible to overcome. These obstacles have been specific to the Eastern periphery. The European Union now consists of 28 states. No fewer than 10 of these are former states of the Eastern Bloc, and this proportion is set to grow with the impending accession with some minor Balkan nations. Although Georgia and Ukraine are in line for membership of the EU, they are also expected to join NATO as has become customary for aspirant EU states.

Whether they obtain either is a matter of conjecture, however, as this would be almost certain to cross Russia’s red lines and result in a major geopolitical flareup. Europe’s centre of gravity is shifting. And while the process of joining the European Union is driving change within these countries, it is also changing the nature of Europe itself. Those Eastern European states which emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union had been led to believe that a bright new world of West European living standards, enhanced pay levels, high rates of social mobility and consumption were on offer.

Unfortunately, they were sold an illusion: the result of the transition so far seems to have been the creation of a low-wage hinterland, a border economy on the fringes of the highly developed European core; a Euro version of NAFTA and the maquiladora, i.e., low tech, low wage, low skills production units on the Mexican side of the US’s southern borders. Moreover there are acute demographic problems confronting the ‘new Europe’.

Eastern Europe is bleeding people. With low fertility rates, higher death rates, and emigration. Case study:

‘’IN THE Lithuanian town of Panevezys, a shiny new factory built by Devold, a Norwegian clothing manufacturer, sits alone in the local free economic zone. The factory is unable to fill 40 of its jobs, an eighth of the total. That is not because workers in Panevezys are too picky, but because there are fewer and fewer of them. There are about half as many students in the municipality’s schools as there were a decade ago, says the mayor.

Such worries are increasingly common across central and eastern Europe, where birth rates are low and emigration rates high. The ex-communist countries that joined the European Union from 2004 dreamed of quickly transforming themselves into Germany or Britain. Instead, many of their workers transported themselves to Germany or Britain. Latvia’s working-age population has fallen by a quarter since 2000; a third of those who graduated from university between 2002 and 2009 had emigrated by 2014. Polls of Bulgarian medical students show that 80-90% plan to emigrate after graduating.

Lithuania’s loss of workers is costly, says Stasys Jakeliunas, an economist. Remittances and EU money for infrastructure upgrades have helped, but labour shortages discourage foreign investment and hurt economic growth. According to the IMF, in some countries in eastern Europe emigration shaved 0.6-0.9 percentage points from annual GDP growth in 1999-2014. By 2030 GDP per person in Bulgaria, Romania and some of the Baltic countries may be 3-4% lower than it would have been without emigration.

All of this imperils public finances. Pensions, which take up about half of social spending in eastern Europe, are the biggest worry. In 2013 Latvia had 3.3 working-age adults for each person older than 65, about the same as Britain and France; by 2030 that is projected to fall to just over two, a level Britain and France will not reach until 2060. Countries are raising the retirement age (apart from Poland, which is recklessly lowering it). Benefits are already meagre, leaving little room for cuts. As a share of GDP, social spending in Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states is roughly half of that in many richer European countries.

Unable to dissuade people from leaving, governments are trying instead to lure them back, inspired by successful efforts in Ireland and South Korea. Daumantas Simenas, project manager of the Panevezys free economic zone, credits his return from Britain to the country’s “Create for Lithuania” programme, which matches educated professionals from the diaspora with government jobs. Having a job already lined up made the decision to return easier, he says. Plus, he adds, “home is home.”

Whether such efforts can turn the tide seems doubtful. “Create for Lithuania” has brought back more than 100 people since its launch five years ago, says Milda Darguzaite, who started the programme after leaving an investment-banking career in America for a government post in Vilnius. Returnees include an MP, a deputy mayor and several advisers to the prime minister. Bringing back doctors and engineers, however, is trickier. Studies show that skilled workers from eastern Europe are attracted abroad primarily by the quality of institutions such as good schools; better social benefits matter more for unskilled migrants. Data on return migration are scanty, but a recent report by the IMF suggests it has been “modest”, in some countries as low as 5% of those who left.’’ (3)

In more general terms figures for Eastern and central Europe as a whole are as follows. With the exception of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Russia, every eastern European country has a declining population. Population declines as follows from 2006 to 2018:

Latvia and Lithuania = 12%

Ukraine = 9%

Hungary = 8.5%

Romania = 7%

Bulgaria = 6%

Estonia = 1.5%

Poland = 0.3%

The comprador vassal elites on the wrong side of the Oder-Neisse Line have been caught in the trap of dependency and semi-development, and in some cases under-development, and this was partly of their own making due to their rush to throw themselves into the arms of the US-NATO-EU alliance and an expected pay-off/bribe. The only states to avoid this have been Czechia, Slovakia and Russia. In the Balkans the same devastating NATO coalition engineered the destruction and break-up of what was once the sovereign state of Yugoslavia.

Thus In both economic and foreign policy the European political and financial elites have acted as overseas branch managers of a multinational enterprise whose HQ is on the other side of the pond (the US) where policy is determined and exported. Quislingism might be an appropriate word in this context.

DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT – THE FINAL ACT.

Finally, we come to the democratic deficit. This is important since the only way that change is possible is through the EU institutions. In order of importance these institutions comprise 1. The Council of Ministers, 2. The European Central Bank, 3. The European Commission. The last of these institutions consists of a President, at present, Ursula Von der Leyen, and formerly, Jean-Claude Juncker, seven, Vice-Presidents, whose identities are not known to me, and twenty Commissioners, equally obscure. Juncker succinctly enunciated the process of EU’s decision making as follows: ‘’If it’s Yes, we will say on we go, and if it is a No, we will say we will continue.’’ So much for open and flexible debate on policy.

The Council of Ministers and the ECB also pull various levers, often in tandem with extra-European global institutions such as NATO, WTO and IMF. Of course there is absolutely no sign that the current policies of the EU are not continuing along their present reactionary trajectory; and since the electorates of the EU have no control of the Council of Ministers and ECB there seems no way to break into this closed system of rule by a technocratic oligarchy. Once again political unrest in Europe suggests a causal connexion between the nature of the EU’s political and economic structures and the policies and outcomes emanating thereof.

This is not the EU we (the UK) signed up to in 1976, and there comes a time in politics where it is judicious to give up flogging a dead horse. A ‘progressive’ Labour government – if such a political animal is possible – would not be allowed by EU law to implement its economic reforms, cancel Trident, leave or even modify its NATO membership. Democracy is impossible without some measure of sovereignty, and nations must get control of their own foreign and economic policies since if they don’t the globalisers and Bilderbergers will and have done. There is nothing wrong with a volte face in politics.

It was J.M. Keynes who once said: ‘’When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?’

NOTES

(1) Richard Sakwa – Frontline Ukraine.

(2) Sakwa, Ibid. pp.227/228)

(3) The Economist – 19/01/2017. It should be added that the Economist is very much the house journal of the British elite. Yet even they have their doubts about the Euro project.

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

Source

12 OCTOBER 2020

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

The head of the prestigious Munich Security Conference warned late last month against efforts to “build a new ‘wall’ between Russia and the West” in light of the Navalny incident and the many other disagreements between both sides, and while it’s unrealistic to expect another Berlin Wall-like physical division of Europe, there’s no denying that their different governing models have created a sharp split across the continent.

Welcome To The New Cold War

Last month will probably go down in history as the moment when the New Cold War became impossible to deny. The US has been attempting to rekindle its fading unipolarity since the onset of its coordinated Hybrid War “containment” campaigns against Russia and China in 2014, which only intensified in the aftermath of Trump’s election. The leaders of all three countries addressed the UN General Assembly (UNGA) by video in a series of speeches that laid bare these two sides’ contradictory assessments of contemporary global affairs and related visions of the future. Their keynote speeches were preceded by UN Secretary General Guterres warning the world that “We must do everything to avoid a New Cold War.” Trump obviously didn’t listen to him, which is why the head of the prestigious Munich Security Conference (MSC) followed up that global representative’s warning with his own at the end of that historic week cautioning that “It will result in nothing if we now try to build a new ‘wall’ between Russia and the West because of Navalny and other sad and terrible events.” It’s his dramatic words that form the basis of the present article.

The US’ Hybrid War On Russia

There are many angles through which the ongoing global competition can be analyzed, but the prospect of a new wall of some sort or another accompanying the New Cold War in Europe is among the most intriguing. The MSC head presumably isn’t implying the creation of a 21st-century Berlin Wall, but seems to be speaking more generally about his fear that the growing divisions between Russia and the West will soon become irreversible and potentially even formalized as the new status quo. The author wrote last month that “The US’ Hybrid War On Russian Energy Targets Germany, Belarus, And Bulgaria”, pointing out how even the partial success of this latest “containment” campaign will greatly advance the scenario of an externally provoked “decoupling” between Russia and the West. That would in turn help secure American grand strategic interests in the continent. This “decoupling” would reverse the progress that was made in bilateral relations since the end of the Old Cold War up until the Ukrainian Crisis. Taken to its maximum extent, the spiritual return of the Berlin Wall seems almost inevitable at this point.

Governing Differences

It’s true that the border between the NATO countries and Russia’s CSTO (which importantly includes Hybrid War-targeted Belarus) represents the modern-day military equivalent of the “Iron Curtain”, but the situation isn’t as simple as that. While military divisions remain (albeit pushed much further eastward over the past three decades), ideological and economic ones are less apparent. Russia no long ascribes to communism but follows its own national variant of democracy within a mostly capitalist system, thus reducing the structural differences between itself and its Western counterparts. Unaware observers might wonder why there’s even a New Cold War to begin with when considering how much both sides have in common with one another, but that overlooks their contradictory worldviews which lie at the heart of their mutual suspicions. Russia strongly believes in safeguarding its geopolitical and domestic socio-political sovereignty so it accordingly follows a more conservative path whereas Western countries mostly submit to the US’ authority and generally regard their liberal position on many social issues as universalist.

The End Of The “Great Convergence”

The reason why the thaw in Russian-Western relations failed to achieve the “Great Convergence” that Gorbachev originally hoped for was because the US wanted to impose its will onto Russia by treating it as just another vassal state that would be forced to follow its lead abroad and accept extreme liberal social mandates at home instead of respecting it as an equal partner. Nevertheless, this policy was actually surprisingly successful all throughout the 1990s under Yeltsin, but its fatal flaw was that it went much too far too quickly by attempting to dissolve the Russian Federation through American support for Chechen separatist-terrorist groups. That inadvertently provoked a very patriotic reaction from the responsible members of Russia’s military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) who worked together to ensure their motherland’s survival in the face of this existential crisis. The end result was that Putin succeeded Yeltsin and subsequently set about to systematically save Russia. This took the form of stabilizing the security situation at home in parallel with reasserting Russia on the world stage.

The “Russian Model”

Putin, though, was always a liberal in the traditional (not post-modern) sense. He never lost his appreciation for Western civilization and sincerely wanted to complete Gorbachev’s hoped-for “Great Convergence”, though only on equal terms and not as a US vassal. Regrettably, the Russian leader’s many olive branches were slapped away by an angry America which feared the influence that a powerful “moderately liberal” state could have on its hyper-liberal subjects. All of Putin’s efforts to take the “Great Convergence” to its next logical step of a “Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok” failed for this reason, after which an intense information warfare campaign was waged to portray Russia was a “radical right-wing state” even though it was never anything of the sort. This modus operandi was intended to prevent Europe’s indoctrinated masses from ever countenancing whether a “moderate” alternative exists whereby they’d preserve their domestic and international sovereignty despite remaining committed to traditional liberal values, just like the “Russian model” that Putin pioneered. Understandably, this would pose a serious threat to American strategic interests, hence the campaign against it.

The Rise Of America’s Russian Rival

As time went on, the “Russian model” was partially replicated in some of the countries of Central Europe such as Poland and even within the US itself through Trump’s election, though this wasn’t due to any so-called “Russian meddling” but was a natural result of the ideological interplay between radical and “moderate” liberals. It just so happened that Russia was the first country to implement this model not because of anything uniquely “Russian” within its society, but simply as the most pragmatic survival plan considering the extremely difficult circumstances of the 1990s and attendant limits on the country’s strategic maneuverability during that time. It was considered by the patriotic members of Russia’s “deep state” to be much too risky to reverse the direction of post-Soviet reforms, hence why the decision seems to have been made to continue with them, though doing all in the country’s power to regain control over these processes from Russia’s Western overlords in order to protect national geopolitical and domestic socio-political interests. This struggle led to Russia becoming an alternative pole of influence (in the governance sense) within the “Greater West”, rivaling the US.

Hillary & Trump: Same Anti-Russian Strategy, Different Infowar Tactics

With this insight in mind, the New Cold War was inevitable in hindsight. Had Hillary been elected, then the infowar narrative would have focused more on Russia’s different “values”, seeking to present its target as a “threat to the (hyper-liberal) Western way of life”. Since Trump’s America interestingly enough shares many of the same values as contemporary Russia does, however, the focus is on geopolitical differences instead. From the prism of International Relations theory, Hillary’s angle of attack against Russia would have been more liberal whereas Trump’s is more realist. Either way, both American leaders (theoretical in the first sense and actual in the second) have every reason to fear Russia since it challenges the US’ unipolar dominance in Europe. Hillary would have wanted to portray Russia as being outside of the “Western family of nations”, though Trump can’t convincingly do that given his much more high-profile provocations against obviously non-Western China, hence why he’s basically competing with Russia for leadership of the “moderate” liberal model of Western civilization, ergo accepting their structural similarities but instead over-hyping their geopolitical differences.

Post-Soviet Russia’s Irreversible Impact On Western Civilization

Taking all of the aforementioned into account, it’s understandable why the US wants to build a “new wall” in Europe by “decoupling” its NATO-captive subjects from Russia through a series of Hybrid Wars, though the genie is out of the bottle since some Central European countries like Poland the even the US itself under Trump already implement elements of the “Russian model”. This means that while the physical separation of Russia and Europe along military, geopolitical, and soon perhaps even economic-energy lines is practically a fait accompli at this point, the ideological-structural influence emanating from Moscow is impossible to “contain”. No “wall” will reverse the impact that the “Russian model” has had on the course of Western civilization, though it should be remembered that the aforesaid model wasn’t part of some “cunning 5D chess plan” but an impromptu survival tactic that was triggered in response to American unipolar-universalist soft power aggression on post-Soviet Russia. It’s not distinctly “Russian”, which is why the hyper-liberal Western elite fear it so much since they know very well that it could take root in their countries too, just like in Poland and the US.

Concluding Thoughts

The typical Western mind is conditioned to think in terms of models, especially historical ones, which is why they imagine that the New Cold War will closely resemble the Old Cold War simply because of the effect that neuro-linguistic programming has on their thought process. This explains why the MSC head warned against the creation of a “new wall” between Russia and the West even though no such scenario is realistic. No physical barrier like the Berlin Wall will ever be erected again, and even though the geopolitical, military, and perhaps even soon economic-energy fault lines between them might become formalized through the impending success of the US’ “decoupling” strategy, this will not address the root cause of the New Cold War which lies with Russia’s “moderately liberal” model of state sovereignty in contrast to the US’ (former?) hyper-liberal universalist one of state vasselhood. It’s this difference that’s primarily responsible for every other dimension of their competition since it placed Russia on the trajectory of supporting a Multipolar World Order instead of the US’ hoped-for Unipolar World Order.By Andrew KorybkoAmerican political analyst

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

September 23, 2020

by Pepe Escobar and with permission cross-posted with Asia Times

It took one minute for President Trump to introduce a virus at the virtual 75th UN General Assembly, blasting “the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world”.

And then it all went downhill.

Even as Trump was essentially delivering a campaign speech and could not care less about the multilateral UN, at least the picture was clear enough for all the socially distant “international community” to see.

Here is President Xi’s full statement. And here is President Putin’s full statement. And here’s the geopolitical chessboard, once again; it’s the “indispensable nation” versus the Russia-China strategic partnership.

As he stressed the importance of the UN, Xi could not be more explicit that no nation has the right to control the destiny of others: “Even less should one be allowed to do whatever it likes and be the hegemon, bully, or boss of the world .”

The US ruling class obviously won’t take this act of defiance lying down. The full spectrum of Hybrid War techniques will continue to be relentlessly turbo-charged against China, coupled with rampant Sinophobia, even as it dawns on many Dr. Strangelove quarters that the only way to really “deter” China would be Hot War.

Alas, the Pentagon is overstretched – Syria, Iran, Venezuela, South China Sea. And every analyst knows about China’s cyber warfare capabilities, integrated aerial defense systems, and carrier-killer Dongfeng missiles.

For perspective, it’s always very instructive to compare military expenditure. Last year, China spent $261 billion while the US spent $732 billion (38% of the global total).

Rhetoric, at least for the moment, prevails. The key talking point, incessantly hammered, is always about China as an existential threat to the “free world”, even as the myriad declinations of what was once Obama’s “pivot to Asia” not so subtly accrue the manufacture of consent for a future war.

This report by the Qiao Collective neatly identifies the process: “We call it Sinophobia, Inc. – an information industrial complex where Western state funding, billion dollar weapons manufacturers, and right-wing think tanks coalesce and operate in sync to flood the media with messages that China is public enemy number one. Armed with state funding and weapons industry sponsors, this handful of influential think tanks are setting the terms of the New Cold War on China. The same media ecosystem that greased the wheels of perpetual war towards disastrous intervention in the Middle East is now busy manufacturing consent for conflict with China.”

That “US military edge”

The demonization of China, infused with blatant racism and rabid anti-communism, is displayed across a full, multicolored palette: Hong Kong, Xinjiang (“concentration camps), Tibet (“forced labor”), Taiwan, “China virus”; the Belt and Road’s “debt trap”.

The trade war runs in parallel – glaring evidence of how “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is beating Western capitalism at its own high-tech game. Thus the sanctioning of over 150 companies that manufacture chips for Huawei and ZTE, or the attempt to ruin TikTok’s business in the US (“But you can’t rob it and turn it into a US baby”, as Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin tweeted).

Still, SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation), China’s top chip company, which recently profited from a $7.5 billion IPO in Shanghai, sooner or later may jump ahead of US chip manufacturers.

On the military front, “maximum pressure” on China’s eastern rim proceeds unabated – from the revival of the Quad to a scramble to boost the Indo-Pacific strategy.

Think Tankland is essential in coordinating the whole process, via for instance the Center for Strategic & International Studies, with “corporation and trade association donors” featuring usual suspects such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.

So here we have what Ray McGovern brilliantly describes as MICIMATT – the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex – as the comptrollers of Sinophobia Inc.

Assuming there would be a Dem victory in November, nothing will change. The next Pentagon head will probably be Michele Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (2009-2012) and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, which is big on both the “China challenge” and the “North Korean threat”. Flournoy is all about boosting the “U.S. military’s edge” in Asia.

So what is China doing?

China’s top foreign policy principle is to advance a “community of shared future for mankind”. That is written in the constitution, and implies that Cold War 2.0 is an imposition from foreign actors.

China’s top three priorities post-Covid-19 are to finally eradicate poverty; solidify the vast domestic market; and be back in full force to trade/investment across the Global South.

China’s “existential threat” is also symbolized by the drive to implement a non-Western trade and investment system, including everything from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund to trade bypassing the US dollar.

Harvard Kennedy School report at least tried to understand how Chinese “authoritarian resilience” appeals domestically. The report found out that the CCP actually benefitted from increased popular support from 2003 to 2016, reaching an astonishing 93%, essentially due to social welfare programs and the battle against corruption.

By contrast, when we have a MICCIMAT investing in Perpetual War – or “Long War” (Pentagon terminology since 2001) – instead of health, education and infrastructure upgrading, what’s left is a classic wag the dog. Sinophobia is perfect to blame the abysmal response to Covid-19, the extinction of small businesses and the looming New Great Depression on the Chinese “existential threat”.

The whole process has nothing to do with “moral defeat” and complaining that “we risk losing the competition and endangering the world”.

The world is not “endangered” because at least vast swathes of the Global South are fully aware that the much-ballyhooed “rules-based international order” is nothing but a quite appealing euphemism for Pax Americana – or Exceptionalism. What was designed by Washington for post-WWII, the Cold War and the “unilateral moment” does not apply anymore.

Bye, bye Mackinder

As President Putin has made it very clear over and over again, the US is no longer “agreement capable” . As for the “rules-based international order”, at best is a euphemism for privately controlled financial capitalism on a global scale.

The Russia-China strategic partnership has made it very clear, over and over again, that against NATO and Quad expansion their project hinges on Eurasia-wide trade, development and diplomatic integration.

Unlike the case from the 16th century to the last decades of the 20th century, now the initiative is not coming from the West, but from East Asia (that’s the beauty of “initiative” incorporated to the BRI acronym).

Enter continental corridors and axes of development traversing Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Indian Ocean, Southwest Asia and Russia all the way to Europe, coupled with a Maritime Silk Road across the South Asian rimland.

For the very first time in its millenary history, China is able to match ultra-dynamic political and economic expansion both overland and across the seas. This reaches way beyond the short era of the Zheng He maritime expeditions during the Ming dynasty in the early 15th century.

No wonder the West, and especially the Hegemon, simply cannot comprehend the geopolitical enormity of it all. And that’s why we have so much Sinophobia, so many Hybrid War techniques deployed to snuff out the “threat”.

Eurasia, in the recent past, was either a Western colony, or a Soviet domain. Now, it stands on the verge of finally getting rid of Mackinder, Mahan and Spykman scenarios, as the heartland and the rimland progressively and inexorably integrate, on their own terms, all the way to the middle of the 21st century.

From 9/11 to the Great Reset

From 9/11 to the Great Reset

September 11, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission from the author and first posted at Asia Times

9/11 was the foundation stone of the new millennium – ever as much indecipherable as the Mysteries of Eleusis. A year ago, on Asia Times, once again I raised a number of questions that still find no answer.

A lightning speed breakdown of the slings and arrows of outrageous (mis)fortune trespassing these two decades will certainly include the following. The end of history. The short unipolar moment. The Pentagon’s Long War. Homeland Security. The Patriot Act. Shock and Awe. The tragedy/debacle in Iraq. The 2008 financial crisis. The Arab Spring. Color revolutions. “Leading from behind”. Humanitarian imperialism. Syria as the ultimate proxy war. The ISIS/Daesh farce. The JCPOA. Maidan. The Age of Psyops. The Age of the Algorithm. The Age of the 0.0001%.

Once again, we’re deep in Yeats territory: “the best lack all conviction/ while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

All along, the “War on Terror” – the actual decantation of the Long War – proceeded unabated, killing Muslim multitudes and displacing at least 37 million people.

WWII-derived geopolitics is over. Cold War 2.0 is in effect. It started as US against Russia, morphed into US against China and now, fully spelled out in the US National Security Strategy, and with bipartisan support, it’s the US against both. The ultimate Mackinder-Brzezinski nightmare is at hand: the much dread “peer competitor” in Eurasia slouched towards the Beltway to be born in the form of the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Something’s gotta give. And then, out of the blue, it did.

A drive by design towards ironclad concentration of power and geoconomic diktats was first conceptualized – under the deceptive cover of “sustainable development” – already in 2015 at the UN (here it is, in detail).

Now, this new operating system – or technocratic digital dystopia – is finally being codified, packaged and “sold” since mid summer via a lavish, concerted propaganda campaign.

Watch your mindspace

The whole Planet Lockdown hysteria that elevated Covid-19 to post-modern Black Plague proportions has been consistently debunked, for instance here and here, drawing from the highly respected, original Cambridge source.

The de facto controlled demolition of large swathes of the global economy allowed corporate and vulture capitalism, world wide, to rake untold profits out of the destruction of collapsed businesses.

And all that proceeded with widespread public acceptance – an astonishing process of voluntary servitude.

None of it is accidental. As an example, over then years ago, even before setting up a – privatized – Behavioral Insights Team, the British government was very much interested in “influencing” behavior, in collaboration with the London School of Economics and Imperial College.

The end result was the MINDSPACE report. That was all about behavioral science influencing policymaking and most of all, imposing neo-Orwellian population control.

MINDSPACE, crucially, featured close collaboration between Imperial College and the Santa Monica-based RAND corporation. Translation:

the authors of the absurdly flawed computer models that fed the Planet Lockdown paranoia working in conjunction with the top Pentagon-linked think tank.

In MINDSPACE, we find that, “behavioral approaches embody a line of thinking that moves from the idea of an autonomous individual, making rational decisions, to a ‘situated’ decision-maker, much of whose behavior is automatic and influenced by their ‘choice environment’”.

So the key question is who decides what is the “choice environment’. As it stands, our whole environment is conditioned by Covid-19. Let’s call it “the disease”. And that is more than enough to beautifully set up “the cure”: The Great Reset.

The beating heart

The Great Reset was officially launched in early June by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the natural habitat of Davos Man. Its conceptual base is something the WEF describes as Strategic Intelligence Platform: “a dynamic system of contextual intelligence that enables users to trace relationships and interdependencies between issues, supporting more informed decision-making”.

It’s this platform that promotes the complex crossover and interpenetration of Covid-19 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution – conceptualized back in December 2015 and the WEF’s choice futuristic scenario. One cannot exist without the other. That is meant to imprint in the collective unconscious – at least in the West – that only the WEF-sanctioned “stakeholder” approach is capable of solving the Covid-19 challenge.

The Great Reset is immensely ambitiousspanning over 50 fields of knowledge and practice. It interconnects everything from economy recovery recommendations to “sustainable business models”, from restoration of the environment to the redesign of social contracts.

The beating heart of this matrix is – what else – the Strategic Intelligence Platform, encompassing, literally, everything: “sustainable development”, “global governance”, capital markets, climate change, biodiversity, human rights, gender parity, LGBTI, systemic racism, international trade and investment, the – wobbly – future of the travel and tourism industries, food, air pollution, digital identity, blockchain, 5G, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI).

In the end, only an all-in-one Plan A applies for making these systems interact seamlessly: the Great Reset – shorthand for a New World Order that has always been glowingly evoked, but never implemented. There is no Plan B.

The Covid-19 “legacy”

The two main actors behind the Great Reset are Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman, and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. Georgieva is adamant that “the digital economy is the big winner of this crisis”. She believes the Great Reset must imperatively start in 2021.

The House of Windsor and the UN are prime executive co-producers. Top sponsors include BP, Mastercard and Microsoft. It goes without saying that everyone who knows how complex geopolitical and geoeconomic decisions are taken is aware that these two main actors are just reciting a script. Call the authors “the globalist elite”. Or, in praise of Tom Wolfe, the Masters of the Universe.

Schwab, predictably, wrote the Great Reset’s mini-manifesto. Over a month later, he expanded on the absolutely key connection: the “legacy” of Covid-19.

All this has been fully fleshed in a book, co-written with Thierry Malleret, who directs the WEF’s Global Risk Network. Covid-19 is described as having “created a great disruptive reset of our global, social, economic and political systems”. Schwab spins Covid-19 not only as a fabulous “opportunity”, but actually as the creator (italics mine) of the – now inevitable – Reset.

All that happens to dovetail beautifully with Schwab’s own baby: Covid-19 “accelerated our transition into the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. The revolution has been extensively discussed at Davos since 2016.

The book’s central thesis is that our most pressing challenges concern the environment – considered only in terms of climate change – and technological developments, which will allow the expansion of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In a nutshell, the WEF is stating that corporate globalization, the hegemonic modus operandi since the 1990s, is dead. Now it’s time for “sustainable development” – with “sustainable” defined by a select group of “stakeholders”, ideally integrated into a “community of common interest, purpose and action.”

Sharp Global South observers will not fail to compare the WEF’s rhetoric of “community of common interest” with the Chinese “community of shared interests” as applied to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is a de facto continental trade/development project.

The Great Reset presupposes that all stakeholders – as in the whole planet – must toe the line. Otherwise, as Schwab stresses, we will have “more polarization, nationalism, racism, increased social unrest and conflicts”.

So this is – once again – a “you’re with us or against us” ultimatum, eerily reminiscent of our old 9/11 world. Either the Great Reset is peacefully established, with whole nations dutifully obeying the new guidelines designed by a bunch of self-appointed neo-Platonic Republic sages, or it’s chaos.

Whether Covid-19’s ultimate “window of opportunity” presented itself as a mere coincidence or by design, will always remain a very juicy question.

Digital Neo-Feudalism

The actual, face-to-face Davos meeting next year has been postponed to the summer of 2021. But virtual Davos will proceed in January, focused on the Great Reset.

Already three months ago, Schwab’s book hinted that the more everyone is mired in the global paralysis, the more it’s clear that things will never be allowed (italics mine) to return to what we considered normal.

Five years ago, the UN’s Agenda 2030 – the Godfather of the Great Reset – was already insisting on vaccines for all, under the patronage of the WHO and CEPI – co-founded in 2016 by India, Norway and the Bill and Belinda Gates foundation.

Timing could not be more convenient for the notorious Event 201 “pandemic exercise” in October last year in New York, with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security partnering with – who else – the WEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. No in-depth criticism of Gates’s motives is allowed by media gatekeepers because, after all, he finances them.

What has been imposed as an ironclad consensus is that without a Covid-19 vaccine there’s no possibility of anything resembling normality.

And yet a recent, astonishing paper published in Virology Journal – which also publishes Dr. Fauci’s musings – unmistakably demonstrates that “chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread”. This is a “relatively safe, effective and cheap drug” whose “significant inhibitory antiviral effect when the susceptible cells were treated either prior to or after infection suggests a possible prophylactic and therapeutic use.”

Even Schwab’s book admits that Covid-19 is “one of the least deadly pandemics in the last 2000 years” and its consequences “will be mild compared to previous pandemics”.

It doesn’t matter. What matters above all is the “window of opportunity” offered by Covid-19, boosting, among other issues, the expansion of what I previously described as Digital Neo-Feudalism – or Algorithm gobbling up Politics. No wonder politico-economic institutions from the WTO to the EU as well as the Trilateral Commission are already investing in “rejuvenation” processes, code for even more concentration of power.

Survey the imponderables

Very few thinkers, such as German philosopher Hartmut Rosa, see our current plight as a rare opportunity to “decelerate” life under turbo-capitalism.

As it stands, the point is not that we’re facing an “attack of the civilization-state” . The point is assertive civilization-states – such as China, Russia, Iran – not submitted to the Hegemon, are bent on charting a quite different course.

The Great Reset, for all its universalist ambitions, remains an insular, Western-centric model benefitting the proverbial 1%. Ancient Greece did not see itself as “Western”. The Great Reset is essentially an Enlightenment-derived project.

Surveying the road ahead, it will certainly be crammed with imponderables. From the Fed wiring digital money directly into smartphone financial apps in the US to China advancing an Eurasia-wide trade/economic system side-by side with the implementation of the digital yuan.

The Global South will be paying a lot of attention to the sharp contrast between the proposed wholesale deconstruction of the industrial economic order and the BRI project – which focuses on a new financing system outside of Western monopoly and emphasizes agro-industrial growth and long-term sustainable development.

The Great Reset would point to losers, in terms of nations, aggregating all the ones that benefit from production and processing of energy and agriculture, from Russia, China and Canada to Brazil, Indonesia and large swathes of Africa.

As it stands, there’s only one thing we do know: the establishment at the core of the Hegemon and the drooling orcs of Empire will only adopt a Great Reset if that helps to postpone a decline accelerated on a fateful morning 19 years ago.

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