Russia Helping Iran Circumvent Illegal US Sanctions

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by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Unilaterally imposed US sanctions against other nations have no legal validity. They’re used against governments unwilling to subordinate their sovereign rights to its interests.

Washington uses them as weapons of war by other means against nations on its target list for regime change.

In 1996, the Vienna-based International Progress Organization called sanctions “an illegitimate form of collective punishment of the weakest and poorest members of society, the infants, the children, the chronically ill, and the elderly.”

When unilaterally imposed, they violate Chapter VII of the UN Charter, authorizing the Security Council alone to intervene against member states to restore peace, stability and security.

Its members alone may impose sanctions on member states, their entities or individuals — not heads of state, legislatures or courts of any nation.

Along with wars of aggression, color revolutions, and old-fashioned coups, use of sanctions is a favorite US tactic against targeted nations — notably used against Cuba (since 1962), Iran (since 1979), Syria (since 1979), the Russian Federation (since 2014), North Korea, and China, among other countries.

They’re imposed by the US based on Big Lies and deception, the Trump regime using them more aggressively against Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran than its predecessors — aiming to crush their economies and immiserate their people into submission.

What hasn’t worked before is highly unlikely to be achieved ahead. Failure hasn’t deterred the Trump regime from continuing to use weaponized sanctions as a hammer against the rule of law, peace, equity and justice.

Throughout its history, the Islamic Republic has found ways to circumvent illegal US sanctions, including by working cooperatively with private entities and friendly nations like Russia, China, and Turkey.

Last year it was reported that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani struck an agreement with Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan aimed at circumventing US sanctions, perhaps with China as well at the time.

Last fall, Rouhani said “(w)e will continue by all means to both produce and export” oil. It’s “in the frontline of confrontation and resistance,” adding:

“It is not strange that countries that are sanctioned find ways to dodge the sanctions.”

“The Americans should know that a country which is sanctioned would still be able to find solutions to move forward.” 

“They cannot do this because various mechanisms have been discovered to maintain Iran’s oil exports.”

Iran has been circumventing US sanctions for decades. Responding to Trump’s sanctions war, a statement in May said its oil sales will continue regardless of US tactics to block them.

On Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “Iran should have the opportunity to carry out oil exports at least approximately on a scale comparable to the period until May of last year” — when Trump pulled out of the JCPOA nuclear deal, breaching a Security Council adopted international agreement, making it binding international law.

If Brussels fails to launch its so-called Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) to maintain normal economic, financial, and trade relations with Iran, Russia will help Tehran maintain its exports and circumvent US-imposed restrictions on its financial transactions — bypassing the dollar.

European officials pledged to maintain normal economic, financial, and trade relations with Iran but failed to back promises with positive actions. Russia and China consider the Islamic Republic to be a strategic partner. 

According to TankerTrackers.com, when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Beijing last month for talks on “regional and international issues,” the Chinese oil tanker Pacific Bravo headed “eastward, having loaded approximately 2 million barrels of Iranian oil from the Soroosh and Kharg terminals in the Persian Gulf over the past few days,” adding:

The tanker “report(ed) its destination as Indonesia, but (it) was recently acquired by Bank of Kunlun, a financial institution that is owned by the Chinese state oil company CNPC.” 

“TankerTrackers.com believes China is the ultimate destination for the oil on board.” 

The Chinese-owned tanker was the first to load Iranian crude after the Trump regime ended waivers on the purchase of Iranian oil to designated countries.

Weeks earlier, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said his government “resolutely opposes” unilateral sanctions on Iran.

China and other countries continue normal relations with Tehran. Russian efforts to further help its ruling authorities sell crude and related products, along with conducting financial transactions by circumventing the dollar, are important ways to counter illegal US sanctions.

Imposing them failed to achieve US objectives for decades. What hasn’t worked before is unlikely to be successful ahead.

The Trump regime failed to halt construction of Russia’s Nord Stream II gas pipeline to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of low-cost natural gas to European markets when completed in late 2019 or early 2020 — at the expense of much more costly and less accessible US liquified natural gas (LNG).

Its aim to bring Iranian oil exports to zero and halt its international financial transactions failed so far and is unlikely to work ahead.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

 

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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Southeast Asia Ignores US War on Huawei

September 7, 2019 (Joseph Thomas – NEO) – The Western media has begun complaining about Southeast Asia’s collective decision to move forward with 5G network technology from Chinese telecom giant Huawei despite US demands that nations ban all Huawei products.

These demands are predicated on clearly fabricated security threats surrounding Huawei technology. The US itself is a global leader of producing hardware with hidden backdoors and other security flaws for the purpose of spying worldwide.

Instead, the US is clearly targeting the telecom giant as part of a wider campaign to cripple China economically and contain its ability to contest US global hegemony.

Media Disinformation Serves the War on Huawei 

Articles like Reuters’ “Thailand launches Huawei 5G test bed, even as U.S. urges allies to bar Chinese gear,” in title alone confounds informed readers.

The article’s author, Patpicha Tanakasempipat, fails to explain in which ways the US is “allies” with any of the nations of Southeast Asia, including Thailand. The history of US activity in Southeast Asia has been one of coercion, interference, intervention, colonisation and protracted war.

As US power has faded, it has resorted to “soft power,” with its most recent “pivot to Asia” being accompanied by several failed attempts to overthrow regional governments and replace them with suitable proxies.

Considering this, and a complete lack of suitable US alternatives to Huawei’s products, there is little mystery as to why the region as a whole has ignored US demands regarding Huawei.

The article claims:

Thailand launched a Huawei Technologies 5G test bed on Friday, even as the United States urges its allies to bar the Chinese telecoms giant from building next-generation mobile networks.

Huawei, the world’s top producer of telecoms equipment and second-biggest maker of smartphones, has been facing mounting international scrutiny amid fears China could use its equipment for espionage, a concern the company says is unfounded.

Patpicha fails categorically to cite any evidence substantiating US claims. She also fails categorically to point out that there is in fact a glaring lack of evidence behind US claims, just as many other articles across the Western media have predictably and purposefully done.

Vietnam, the Outlier 

The one exception in Southeast Asia is Vietnam. It has sidestepped considering Huawei in favour of US-based Qualcomm and Scandinavian companies Nokia and Ericsson. While the Vietnamese government said its decision was based on technical concerns rather than geopolitics, a Bloomberg article quoted the CEO of state-owned telecom concern, Viettel Group, who claimed:

We are not going to work with Huawei right now. It’s a bit sensitive with Huawei now. There were reports that it’s not safe to use Huawei. So Viettel’s stance is that, given all this information, we should just go with the safer ones. So we choose Nokia and Ericsson from Europe.

The same article would also cite supposed experts who claim Vietnam seeks closer ties with the US in countering China’s growing stature upon the global stage, and ultimately folded to US demands because of this.

This however is unlikely. Vietnam – among all of Southeast Asia’s nations – is not an “ally” of Washington.

The US waged a bloody war against Vietnam at the cost of 4 million lives. The nation still bears the burden of chemical warfare through persistent birth defects as well as swaths of land covered in unexploded ordnance. To this day the US maintains a stable of opposition groups it funds to pressure and coerce the Vietnamese government. The US also invests in groups fanning anti-Chinese sentiment inside Vietnam.

Considering this, Vietnam, by spurning Huawei at the moment, is more likely cynically playing the US and China off one another with this particular move aimed at currying leverage over Beijing and favour with Washington, while at other junctures, Vietnam has made moves to gain leverage over Washington while cultivating closer ties with Beijing.

Not Just Thailand

The same Bloomberg article would note:

Vietnam’s decision to shun Huawei appears to make it an outlier in Southeast Asia, where other countries such as the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia are open to deploying Huawei’s technology.

The irony of this is that the Philippines in particular has been touted by Washington as one of its key partners in provoking China over its claims in the South China Sea. Not only has Manila repeatedly sabotaged or undermined Washington’s efforts in the South China Sea deciding to bilaterally deal with Beijing instead and without US help, it is now openly ignoring US demands to dump Huawei technology.

Malaysia has been another target of US political interference. There were hopes in Washington that after the last Malaysian elections, victorious parties backed by Washington would cut growing ties with Beijing. This did not happen. While some Malaysian-Chinese deals were renegotiated, they continued to move forward nonetheless.

By ignoring US demands that Huawei products be banned and by moving forward with Huawei technology for national 5G infrastructure, Malaysia affirms again that Asia’s future will be determined in Asia by the nations residing there, not by Washington thousands of miles away.

While the US remains a potent geopolitical hegemon with a powerful military and economy, and the means to inflict punishment on nations opposing its agenda across the globe, it is still a hegemon in decline.

The US is not losing to China because it hasn’t been ruthless enough or because its “allies” are not cooperating. It is not losing to China because of anything in particular China is doing to the US. The US is losing because of fundamental flaws in what is an entirely unsustainable and indefensible foreign policy.

Until it fixes those fundamental flaws and adopts a more appropriate foreign policy, it will continue to lose out to competitors like China. Its tech giants like Apple and Qualcomm will continue to lose out to competitors like Huawei. No amount of coercion, threats or acts of malice can change the fact that at a fundamental level, the US has no competitive edge and its power stems more from momentum than from any remaining driving strength.

While nations bide their time for this momentum to diminish, Beijing, Moscow and the capitals of other developing and emerging global powers continue building an alternative global order based on a multipolar balance of power and the primacy of national sovereignty… a global order where, for example, one nation does not get to decide who the rest of the world works with to build their respective telecom infrastructure.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

هل اقتربت الحربُ في الخليج؟

أغسطس 27, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

هناك معادلتان يعمل عليهما الأميركيون في الخليج.

الاولى حصار إيران اقتصادياً الى حدود خنقها وتفجير الدولة فيها، والثانية توتير الأوضاع في بحار الخليج وميادينه وصولاً الى العراق وسورية ولبنان انما من دون إدراك الحرب المباشرة.

في المقابل تجاهد إيران وبكبرياء لتحقيق صمود اقتصادي على قاعدة الاستناد على تماسك اجتماعي إيراني عالي المستوى يفاجئ أخصامها، بالاضافة الى امكاناتها على مساحة الدولة التي تزيد عن مليون وسبعمئة الف كيلومتر مربع وتحالفاتها الاقليمية الوازنة.

هذه هي الشروط التي يتجابه فيها الإيرانيون والأميركيون، لكن الجديد هو اختراق أميركي جديد لشروط هذا الصراع ويتعلق باستخدام «إسرائيل» آلية جديدة جرى تكليفها بإرباك تحالفات إيران في العراق وسورية ولبنان.

وبشكل تلقائي اتخذ أنصار الله اليمنيون قراراً موازياً بتشديد دورهم في إرباك السعودية داخلياً من جهة وعلاقتها بالنظام الاقتصادي الغربي من جهة ثانية، مرسلين صواريخهم وطائراتهم المسيّرة الى أهداف اقتصادية وعسكرية نفطية على نقاط استراتيجية منتقاة بعناية من المساحة السعودية، بشكل يصيب إطلالتي السعودية على الخليج من ناحية والبحر الأحمر من ناحية ثانية.

لذلك يخدم هذا الدور اليمني المتصاعد اليمن اولاً الذي يتعرّض لأعنف عدوان خليجي غربي إسرائيلي منذ خمس سنوات، معلناً في الوقت نفسه انه جزء من حلف المقاومة على مستوى الإقليم.

ضمن هذه المعادلات تخترق أميركا مدى الصراع بإقحام «إسرائيل» الأمر الذي ينقل الكباش الإيراني الأميركي الى مستوى جديد، دافعاً قوى المقاومة في البلدان المستهدفة الى تبني قرارات معادلة لهذا الخرق الخطير.

لجهة الحشد الشعبي العراقي المستهدَف منذ أسبوعين تقريباً بهجمات من طائرات مسيرة على مخازنه ومواقعه في أنحاء مختلفة من العراق، فيعتبر ان الهجمات عليه ما كان يمكن أن تتم لولاً التنسيق الأميركي الإسرائيلي وهذا يجعله يفرّق بين صاحب القرار بمهاجمته وهو الأميركي والمُنفذ الإسرائيلي، فهما متعاونان لإرباك الحشد وتأزيم وضعه الداخلي في العراق على قاعدة أنه لا تجوز له المشاركة في حروب إقليمية. والقصد هنا هو دعم إيران في حربها مع الأميركيين وتجاهل الاحتلال الأميركي للعراق المستمر منذ 2003 والذي ينشر عشرة آلاف جندي أميركي في عشر قواعد في العراق متلاعباً بوحدته الداخلية وثرواته وأدواره.

على المستوى نفسه يرتفع معدل الغارات الجوية الإسرائيلية على سورية في محاولة واضحة تبدو وكأن هدفها سحب اهتمام الجيش العربي السوري من منطقة إدلب وشرقي الفرات نحو التحسب من الخطر الإسرائيلي المباغت.

وهذا يشمل ايضاً دور حزب الله في سورية الذي يصرّ الأميركيون والإسرائيليون على سحبه من سورية مع ما يزعمون انه قوات إيرانية.

لذلك يضغط الأميركيون لإعادة نصب الدور التركي على عداء كبير مع سورية وحزب الله وإيران.

وللمزيد من تقليص الدور الاقليمي لحزب الله اخترقت طائرات مسيّرة إسرائيلية الضاحية الجنوبية للعاصمة اللبنانية بيروت على علو منخفض ولم تتمكّن من تنفيذ مهامها لأسباب تقنية فسقطت منها اثنتان احداهما سليمة.

وهذا اختراق إسرائيلي لتوازن القوى العسكري المرسوم مع حزب الله منذ 2006 تاريخ الهزيمة الإسرائيلية لآخر عدوان بري إسرائيلي على لبنان.

هنا يكتشف المراقبون ان «إسرائيل» تضع حزب الله امام احتمالين: ان يرد على الاختراق بصليات صاروخية على أهداف استراتيجية إسرائيلية في فلسطين المحتلة، وهذا خيار له بعدان: داخلي يؤدي الى إعادة تجميع القوى اللبنانية المحسوبة على السعودية والأميركيين في اطار المطالبة بحصرية السلاح مع الدولة اللبنانية والحياد عن معارك الإقليم، والثاني معنوي وهو ان لا يرد حزب الله فيستجلب المزيد من الاعتداءات الإسرائيلية المشابهة، فيخسر صدقيته مع جمهوره دافعاً الإسرائيليين انفسهم الى عدم تصديق تهديدات حزب الله التي تثير عادة رعب الإسرائيليين المدنيين والعسكريين ولا تزال.

هذا السياق، يؤكد الخطة الأميركية التي تريد عزل إيران عن تحالفاتها للمزيد من الخنق الأميركي لها، الامر الذي يدفع نحو رفع مرتبة الصراع من درجة «شديد التوتر الى بداية الحرب الفعلية بأشكال متنوّعة. فليس معقولاً ان يكتفي بلد ما بمراقبة بلد يحاول قتله بقطع أنفاسه، وليس مقبولاً صمت العراق ولبنان الرسميين عن نشر الأميركيين للارهاب الإسرائيلي الجوي على مدنهما ودساكرهما.

لكن لحزب الله توجهات أخرى ارسلها بخطاب «مستعجل»، اكد فيه امين عام حزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله أن الرد على «إسرائيل» لن يتأخر وبشكل حربي أوسع، وكذلك الحشد الشعبي الذي اعلن بدوره عن استعداده لإسقاط المسيرات الإسرائيلية، اما سورية فهي في حرب فعلية مع الأميركيين والأتراك والإسرائيليين وانواع الارهاب، وبذلك يجري نسف مشروع الأميركيين الذي يريد عرقلة حلفاء إيران داخل بلدانهم، الأمر الذي يمنحهم حرية حركة في الإقليم بدعم إيران القوة الإقليمية الوحيدة التي نجحت في مجابهة النفوز الأميركي الهائج الذي يرى فيها سبباً في تراجعه في العالم الاسلامي وبالتالي العالم.

فهل تذهب المنطقة الى حرب؟ الأميركيون لا يريدونها ويرغبون في السيطرة بالاقتصاد والحلفاء، اما إيران وتحالفاتها فإنهم ذاهبون للدفاع عن منطقتهم بكل الوسائل المتاحة بما فيها الجانب العسكري والضغوط الشعبية وإفساح المجال لتحالفات عميقة مع روسيا والصين.

Punishing the World With Sanctions

Image result for Punishing the World With Sanctions
Philip Giraldi
August 15, 2019

Sanctions are economic warfare, pure and simple. As an alternative to a direct military attack on a country that is deemed to be misbehaving they are certainly preferable, but no one should be under any illusions regarding what they actually represent. They are war by other means and they are also illegal unless authorized by a supra-national authority like the United Nations Security Council, which was set up after World War II to create a framework that inter alia would enable putting pressure on a rogue regime without going to war. At least that was the idea, but the sanctions regimes recently put in place unilaterally and without any international authority by the United States have had a remarkable tendency to escalate several conflicts rather than providing the type of pressure that would lead to some kind of agreement.

The most dangerous bit of theater involving sanctions initiated by the Trump administration continues to focus on Iran. Last week, the White House elevated its extreme pressure on the Iranians by engaging in a completely irrational sanctioning of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The sanctions will have no effect whatsoever and they completely contradict Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that he is seeking diplomacy to resolving the conflict with Iran. One doesn’t accomplish that by sanctioning the opposition’s Foreign Minister. Also, the Iranians have received the message loud and clear that the threats coming from Washington have nothing to do with nuclear programs. The White House began its sanctions regime over a year ago when it withdrew from the JCPOA and they have been steadily increasing since that time even though Iran has continued to be fully compliant with the agreement. Recently, the US took the unprecedented step of sanctioning the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is part of the nation’s military.

American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made clear that the sanctions on Iran are intended to cause real pain, which, in fact, they have succeeded in doing. Pompeo and his accomplice in crime National Security Advisor John Bolton believe that enough pressure will motivate the starving people to rise up in the streets and overthrow the government, an unlikely prospect as the American hostility has in fact increased popular support for the regime.

To be sure, ordinary people in Iran have found that they cannot obtain medicine and some types of food are in short supply but they are not about to rebel. The sanctioning in May of Iranian oil exports has only been partially effective but it has made the economy shrink, with workers losing jobs. The sanctions have also led to tit-for-tat seizures of oil and gas tankers, starting with the British interception of a ship carrying Iranian oil to Syria in early July.

Another bizarre escalation in sanctions that has taken place lately relates to the Skripal case in Britain. On August 2nd, Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing a package of new sanctions against Moscow over the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in March 2018. The order “prohibit[s] any United States bank from making any loan or providing any credit… except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities or products.” The ban also includes “the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance… by international financial institutions,” meaning that international lenders will also be punished if they fail to follow Washington’s lead.

The sanctions were imposed under the authority provided by the US Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act adopted in 1991, which imposes penalties for use of chemical weapons. Novichok, which was reportedly used on the Skripals, is a chemical weapon developed in the labs of the Soviet Union, though a number of states are believed to currently have supplies of the agent in their arsenals. Russia can appeal the sanctions with 90 days by providing “reliable assurance” that it will not again use chemical weapons.

Russia has strenuously denied any role in the attack on the Skripals and the evidence that has so far been produced to substantiate the Kremlin’s involvement has been less than convincing. An initial package of US-imposed sanctions against Russia that includes the export of sensitive technologies and some financial services was implemented in August 2018.

Venezuela is also under the sanctions gun and is a perfect example how sanctions can escalate into something more punitive, leading incrementally to an actual state of war. Last week Washington expanded its sanctions regime, which is already causing starvation in parts of Venezuela, to include what amounts to a complete economic embargo directed against the Maduro regime that is being enforced by a naval blockade.

The Venezuelan government announced last Wednesday that the United States Navy had seized a cargo ship bound for Venezuela while it was transiting the Panama Canal. According to a government spokesman, the ship’s cargo was soy cakes intended for the production of food. As one of Washington’s raisons d’etre for imposing sanctions on Caracas was that government incompetence was starving the Venezuelan people, the move to aggravate that starvation would appear to be somewhat capricious and revealing of the fact that the White House could care less about what happens to the Venezuelan civilians who are caught up in the conflict.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez condemned the move as “serious aggression,” and accused the Trump Administration of trying to impede Venezuela’s basic right to import food to feed its people.

One of the most pernicious aspects of the sanctions regimes that the United States is imposing is that they are global. When Washington puts someone on its sanctions list, other countries that do not comply with the demands being made are also subject to punishment, referred to as secondary sanctions. The sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, for example, are being globally enforced with some few exceptions, and any country that buys Iranian oil will be punished by being denied access to the US financial and banking system. That is a serious penalty as most international trade and business transactions go through the dollar denominated SWIFT banking network.

Finally, nothing illustrates the absurdity of the sanctions mania as a recent report that President Trump had sent his official hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien to Stockholm to obtain freedom for an American rap musician ASAP Rocky who was in jail after having gotten into a fight with some local boys. The Trumpster did not actually know the lad, but he was vouched for by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, both of whom have had nice things to say about the president. The negotiator was instructed to tell Sweden that if they did not release Rocky there would be “negative consequences.” Who can doubt that the consequences would undoubtedly have included sanctions?

It has reached the point where the only country that likes the United States is Israel, which is locked into a similar cycle of incessant aggression. To be sure Donald Trump’s rhetoric is part of the problem, but the indiscriminate, illegal and immoral use of sanctions, which punish whole nations for the presumed sins of those nations’ leaders, is a major contributing factor. And the real irony is that even though sanctions cause pain, they are ineffective. Cuba has been under sanctions, technically and embargo, since 1960 and its ruling regime has not collapsed, and there is no chance that Venezuela, Iran or Russia’s government will go away at any time soon either. In fact, real change would be more likely if Washington were to sit down at a negotiating table with countries that it considers enemies and work to find solutions to common concerns. But that is not likely to happen with the current White House line-up, and equally distant with a Democratic Party obsessed with the “Russian threat” and other fables employed to explain its own failings.

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China Just Went Nuclear in the Trade War, and There Is No Turning Back Now

Global Research, August 07, 2019

When will Americans start to wake up and realize what is happening?  At the end of last week, President Trump announced that the U.S. would be imposing a 10 percent tariff on 300 billion dollars worth of Chinese imports, and that marked a dramatic escalation in our trade war with China.  This move by Trump came as a total shock to Chinese officials, and global financial markets were thrown into a state of turmoil.  Since that announcement, we have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, because we knew that the Chinese would retaliate.  But honestly, very few of the experts expected something like this.  On Monday, China announced that it is going to completely stop buying U.S. agricultural products

China confirmed reports that it was pulling out of U.S. agriculture as a weapon in the ongoing trade war.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Chinese companies have stopped purchasing U.S. agricultural products in response to President Trump’s new 10% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods.

This is essentially a trade war equivalent of a nuclear bomb.

If the Chinese would have slapped U.S. agricultural products with tariffs, that would have been a proportional response.  But to quit buying them entirely is an unprecedented escalation in a trade war that is really starting to spiral out of control.

And it is also clearly a political attack on President Trump.  The Chinese know that Trump is highly popular in rural areas, and this ban on U.S. agricultural products is going to severely hurt farmers in rural areas all across the United States.

U.S. voters tend to be more influenced by their bank accounts than by anything else, and so this is a smart strategic move by the Chinese if they would like to see a Democrat get elected in 2020.

In 2017, the Chinese bought 19.5 billion dollars worth of U.S. agricultural products, and that number dropped to just 9.1 billion dollars in 2018.

Now that number is going to zero, and according to Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvallthis latest move by China is going to be “a body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by.”

Please say a prayer for our farmers, because they really need it.

In addition to ending purchases of U.S. agricultural products, the Chinese also allowed the value of the yuan to decline dramatically on Monday.  This really rattled global financial markets, and shortly thereafter U.S. Treasury officials formally designated China as a “currency manipulator”.  The following comes directly from the official website of the Treasury Department

The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 requires the Secretary of the Treasury to analyze the exchange rate policies of other countries. Under Section 3004 of the Act, the Secretary must “consider whether countries manipulate the rate of exchange between their currency and the United States dollar for purposes of preventing effective balance of payments adjustments or gaining unfair competitive advantage in international trade.” Secretary Mnuchin, under the auspices of President Trump, has today determined that China is a Currency Manipulator.

As a result of this determination, Secretary Mnuchin will engage with the International Monetary Fund to eliminate the unfair competitive advantage created by China’s latest actions.

This is the first time since the 1990s that the Treasury Department has used this designation on any of our trading partners, and it is the kind of move that would not be made unless all hopes for a trade deal were completely gone.

Of course the Chinese wouldn’t have made the moves that they made either if they were still holding out hope for a negotiated solution.  According to one market analyst that was quoted by CNBC, the Chinese are “signalling that they have lost confidence that they can reach an agreement with Trump.”

So what this means is that in the short-term things are going to get bad for the global economy.

Really bad.

In the longer term, the structure of the entire global economic system could change dramatically, and this will especially be true if Donald Trump emerges triumphant in 2020.  According to economist Neil Shearing, we could literally be looking at “the end of the world as we know it”…

Among the implications for more deterioration in the global picture that Shearing cites are the “disintegration of the rules-based system” that has governed international commerce since the end of the World War II, and a potential “Balkanization” of the world economy as the U.S. and China develop their own standards, tech platforms and payment systems.

“It’s too soon to say exactly how events will pan out, but this casts the escalation in the US-China trade war over the past year in an altogether more ominous light. We may be witnessing the end of the world as we know it,” he wrote.

It is difficult to imagine a world in which there is no trade between the United States and China, and many would argue that we would be far better off today if we had never gone down that road in the first place.

But now that our two economies are so deeply integrated, trying to decouple is going to be an exceedingly painful process.

If you are familiar with my work, than you already know that I am not a fan of the Chinese government at all.  Something needed to be done about China, because they have been brazenly taking advantage of us and flouting the rules for decades.

Having said that, it is imperative that the American people understand that a messy breakup with China is going to cause an extraordinary amount of pain for us, for them and for the whole world.

It looks like this trade war could be the spark that plunges the global economy into utter chaos, and right now very few Americans seem to understand the true scope of the economic nightmare that appears to be headed our way.

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Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared NowThe Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News.

Featured image is from Foreign Policy

Venezuela and Iran in the Crosshairs of Murderers Inc – Who is Next?

Venezuela and Iran in the Crosshairs of Murderers Inc – Who is Next?August 09, 2019

by Peter Koenig for The Saker blog

Imagine just for a moment, the World would stand up in unison, sick and tired of the aggressive killer arrogance of the United States and her vassals – and their joint war-force called NATO – and this World, our World, what’s left of it when you deduct Washington and its Brussels allies, would at once block every shipment of everything destined for the ports of the United States of America; every sea port, airport and road port. Hermetically. Nothing would enter. Nothing, no food, no medicine, no electronics, no cars – no nothing. And nothing could leave. No exports, no petrol, no grains, no meat, no pharmaceuticals and foremost, no weapons. Nothing.

And now, take your mind a step further – and imagine the same – exactly the same, a total and full blockage of Israel – nothing would enter, no food, no fuel, no medication, no machinery and especially no weapons – and nothing would leave; a full and total blockage.

This would of course be totally illegal; illegal and unacceptable, by any international law, by the standards of the UN Charter, by the Human Rights Laws and Directives – by any ethical values of human morals. Wouldn’t it? – Yet, this is exactly what these countries are doing, have been doing for decades, sanctioning to strangle and murder entire populations into death or submission. The US with Cuba; Israel with Palestine. And the coercion and strangulation go on, unabated.

The longest embargo – illegal, inhuman and outright criminal – Washington imposed on Cuba – 60 years. Because Cuba has chosen socialism as her form of state and government. Cuba survived and will never give in to the tyrant of the north.

Now the US is expanding her palette of killing by impunity to dominate and subjugate nation after nation which they do not consider bending sufficiently to the dictate of their masters. Venezuela has been targeted for two decades, ever since former President Hugo Chavez was democratically elected in 1998; and Iran, ever since the US-imposed Shah was deposed in 1979 – exactly 40 years ago – by Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Both Venezuela and Iran are rich in natural resources, especially hydrocarbons but also in gold, rare earths and other precious metals and stones.

Contrary to what one would like to imagine, international world bodies, like the United Nations and her sister and associated organizations remain just about silent. When a high-level official utters some benign criticism of the US or Israel – it flairs up for a moment in the ‘news’, then it disappears again, as if it never happened. And indeed, nothing happens. They – the US and Israel – go on with their crimes in impunity.

The latest is an open declaration of economic warfare by Washington, a total embargo on Venezuela; the embargo is now being turned into a naval blockade. Similar steps are to be taken for Iran. That literally means that no merchandise – no matter how vital for survival, like food and medication, is allowed into Venezuela. Three days ago, the US seized, totally illegally, a cargo ship attempting to deliver food and medication to Venezuela – in the Panama Canal, territory which the US does not own or control anymore.

The ship was carrying soy cakes, from which Venezuela was to produce food. Never mind, that the cargoes are fully paid for by Venezuela. And this seems to be just the beginning. Vessels leaving Venezuela with petrol deliveries to client countries are also targeted for blockage, thus confiscating, or rather stealing, Venezuela’s main source of income on which she intends to survive and feed and provide health care for her people. This, in addition to the more than 130 billion dollars total Venezuelan assets confiscated – stolen – by the US worldwide .

And nobody says beep. Almost. Yes, there are some collective protests by countries in solidarity – like key members of the Sao Paulo Forum, as well as more than 60 members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM – total 120 members) that have become especially active in recent years in defense of Venezuela within the United Nations. Protests and protest declarations also take place by ALBA members, a Latin American trade alliance (ALBA – Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, 11 members [Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Ecuador, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Grenada and the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis]).

But most interesting are the hypocrites, those who write and scream that Venezuelans are starving to death, that the Maduro government neglects its people – yet these accusers-in-falsehood – let the US and her vassals strangle Venezuela and steal her foreign assets, including foreign reserves and gold, food and medical imports – they are saying zilch, nada, nothing. Just watching.

To top it all off, the Human Rights Commissioner, Madame Michelle Bachelet, Hypocrite-in-chief, who recently visited Venezuela, at the invitation of President Nicolas Maduro, on a Human Rights mission, and who delivered a devastating report about Venezuela’s HR, full of lies, half-truths and outright omissions, not mentioning with one word the US inspired coup attempts, the US-funded opposition and its bloody atrocities on the Chavista population, and the strangulating and starving by the US and US-dictated European sanctions – Madame Bachelet now came forward condemning the naval blockade. Great. But she did not stand up against the deadly embargo by the US and the European Union. – What credibility remains for the Human Rights Commission? – The world can see it – it’s all bought, coerced into submission, like so many other UN agencies by the Murderers Inc.

If we are not careful, they are soon going to rule the globe. Thanks god, for Russia and China – which are also subjects of US-EU sanctioning and targeted for take-over. But they are a tiny little bit too big and too strong for this sort of games by the decaying US empire and her obedient rats on the sinking ship.

Similarly, the European Union – despots as they have been for hundreds of years as colonialists in Africa, Asia and Latin America – and continue in a modern colonial role through economic control of much of Africa – this very EU, has been sanctioning Venezuela for years on the orders of Washington, naturally, who else? – Now they condemn the naval blockade, but continue their routine sanctions regime.

According to a study carried out by the Washington DC based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), under guidance of Mark Weisbrot, CEPR co-director and Jeffrey Sachs, economics professor, Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, New York, US and EU sanctions have cost some 40,000 Venezuelan lives. This mainly since August 2017, when Washington escalated its unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela and her state oil company, PDVSA, cutting them off international financial markets.

Yes, the world would have plenty of reasons to stand up and dish out similar naval and air blockades against the US and Israel. Just as a teaser to begin with, and if that doesn’t send a strong enough wake-up message, perhaps such embargoes should be considered on a longer-term indefinite scale. It’s illegal. But we are living in a world where international laws don’t count – where laws are made, as we go, by the self-declared hegemon, the US of A, and her symbiotic Middle East ally, Israel. – So, why not nudging the legal, moral and ethical order back into balance?

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.  Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Food Shipment Destined For Venezuela Seized Due to US Blockade

By teleSUR

Aerial view of the new Panama Canal expansion project on the outskirt of Colon City.

Aerial view of the new Panama Canal expansion project on the outskirt of Colon City. | Photo: Reuters

The ship was seized in the Panama canal according to the Venezuela government.

Venezuela’s Vicepresident Delcy Rodriguez denounced Wednesday that a ship containing 25 thousand tons of soy-made products has been seized in the Panama Canal due to the U.S. blockade while calling on the United Nations to take action against the “serious aggression” that impede Venezuela “right to food”.

“Venezuela denounces before the world that a boat that holds 25 thousand tons of tons of soy, for food production in our country, has been seized in the Panama Canal, due to the criminal blockade imposed by Donald Trump,” the vice president said in a tweet.

“Venezuela calls on the UN to stop this serious aggression by DonaldTrump’s govt against our country, which constitutes a massive violation of the human rights of the entire Venezuelan people, by attempting to impede their right to food.”

In a subsequent tweet, the Venezuelan senior official explained that the owner of the vessel carrying the merchandise of food was informed by the insurance company that it was prevented from moving that cargo to Venezuela.

The shipment seizure comes just days after Trump signed an executive order Monday that imposes a near-total blockade on government assets in that country, which includes an embargo against food suppliers, among other basic inputs. This is the first time in 30 years that Washington has taken such an action against a sovereign country.

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