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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