American Diplomacy as a Tragic Drama

July 29, 2022

By Michael Hudson and posted with the author’s permission

As in a Greek tragedy whose protagonist brings about precisely the fate that he has sought to avoid, the US/NATO confrontation with Russia in Ukraine is achieving just the opposite of America’s aim of preventing China, Russia and their allies from acting independently of U.S. control over their trade and investment policy. Naming China as America’s main long-term adversary, the Biden Administration’s plan was to split Russia away from China and then cripple China’s own military and economic viability. But the effect of American diplomacy has been to drive Russia and China together, joining with Iran, India and other allies. For the first time since the Bandung Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in 1955, a critical mass is able to be mutually self-sufficient to start the process of achieving independence from Dollar Diplomacy.

Confronted with China’s industrial prosperity based on self-financed public investment in socialized markets, U.S. officials acknowledge that resolving this fight will take a number of decades to play out. Arming a proxy Ukrainian regime is merely an opening move in turning Cold War 2 (and potentially/or indeed World War III) into a fight to divide the world into allies and enemies with regard to whether governments or the financial sector will plan the world economy and society.

What is euphemized as U.S.-style democracy is a financial oligarchy privatizing basic infrastructure, health and education. The alternative is what President Biden calls autocracy, a hostile label for governments strong enough to block a global rent-seeking oligarchy from taking control. China is deemed autocratic for providing basic needs at subsidized prices instead of charging whatever the market can bear. Making its mixed economy lower-cost is called “market manipulation,” as if that is a bad thing that was not done by the United States, Germany and every other industrial nation during their economic takeoff in the 19th and early 20th century.

Clausewitz popularized the axiom that war is an extension of national interests – mainly economic. The United States views its economic interest to lie in seeking to spread its neoliberal ideology globally. The evangelistic aim is to financialize and privatize economies by shifting planning away from national governments to a cosmopolitan financial sector. There would be little need for politics in such a world. Economic planning would shift from political capitals to financial centers, from Washington to Wall Street, with satellites in the City of London, the Paris Bourse, Frankfurt and Tokyo. Board meetings for the new oligarchy would be held at Davos’s World Economic Forum. Hitherto public infrastructure services would be privatized and priced high enough to include profits (and indeed, monopoly rents), debt financing and management fees rather than being publicly subsidized. Debt service and rent would become the major overhead costs for families, industry and governments.

The U.S. drive to retain its unipolar power to impose “America First” financial, trade and military policies on the world involves an inherent hostility toward all countries seeking to follow their own national interests. Having less and less to offer in the form of mutual economic gains, U.S. policy makes threats of sanctions and covert meddling in foreign politics. The U.S. dream envisions a Chinese version of Boris Yeltsin replacing the nation’s Communist Party leadership and selling off its public domain to the highest bidder – presumably after a monetary crisis wipes out domestic purchasing power much as occurred in post-Soviet Russia, leaving the international financial community as buyers.

Russia and President Putin cannot be forgiven for having fought back against the Harvard Boys’ “reforms.” That is why U.S. officials planned how to create Russian economic disruption to (they hope) orchestrate a “color revolution” to recapture Russia for the world’s neoliberal camp. That is the character of the “democracy” and “free markets” being juxtaposed to the “autocracy” of state-subsidized growth. As Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov explained in a press conference on July 20, 2022 regarding Ukraine’s violent coup in 2014, U.S. and other Western officials define military coups as democratic if they are sponsored by the United States in the hope of promoting neoliberal policies.

Do you remember how events developed after the coup? The putschists spat in the face of Germany, France and Poland that were the guarantors of the agreement with Viktor Yanukovych. It was trampled underfoot the next morning. These European countries didn’t make a peep – they reconciled themselves to this. A couple of years ago I asked the Germans and French what they thought about the coup. What was it all about if they didn’t demand that the putschists fulfil the agreements? They replied: “This is the cost of the democratic process.” I am not kidding. Amazing – these were adults holding the post of foreign ministers.[1]

This Doublethink vocabulary reflects how far mainstream ideology has evolved from Rosa Luxemburg’s description a century ago of the civilizational choice being posed: barbarism or socialism.

The contradictory U.S. and European interests and burdens of the war in Ukraine

To return to Clausewitz’s view of war as an extension of national policy, U.S. national interests are diverging sharply from those of its NATO satellites. America’s military-industrial complex, oil and agriculture sectors are benefiting, while European industrial interests are suffering. That is especially the case in Germany and Italy as a result of their governments blocking North Stream 2 gas imports and other Russian raw materials.

The interruption of world energy, food and minerals supply chains and the resulting price inflation (providing an umbrella for monopoly rents by non-Russian suppliers) has imposed enormous economic strains on U.S. allies in Europe and the Global South. Yet the U.S. economy is benefiting from this, or at least specific sectors of the U.S. economy are benefiting. As Sergey Lavrov, pointed out in his above-cited press conference: “The European economy is impacted more than anything else. The stats show that 40 percent of the damage caused by sanctions is borne by the EU whereas the damage to the United States is less than 1 percent.” The dollar’s exchange rate has soared against the euro, which has plunged to parity with the dollar and looks set to fall further down toward the $0.80 that it was a generation ago. U.S. dominance over Europe is further strengthened by the trade sanctions against Russian oil and gas. The U.S. is an LNG exporter, U.S. companies control the world oil trade, and U.S. firms are the world’s major grain marketers and exporters now that Russia is excluded from many foreign markets.

A revival of European military spending – for offense, not defense

U.S. arms-makers are looking forward to making profits off arms sales to Western Europe, which has almost literally disarmed itself by sending its tanks and howitzers, ammunition and missiles to Ukraine. U.S. politicians support a bellicose foreign policy to promote arms factories that employ labor in their voting districts. And the neocons who dominate the State Department and CIA see the war as a means of asserting American dominance over the world economy, starting with its own NATO partners.

The problem with this view is that although America’s military-industrial, oil and agricultural monopolies are benefitting, the rest of the U.S. economy is being squeezed by the inflationary pressures resulting from boycotting Russian gas, grain and other raw-materials exports, and the enormous rise in the military budget will be used as an excuse to cut back social spending programs. That also is a problem for Eurozone members. They have promised NATO to raise their military spending to the stipulated 2 percent of their GDP, and the Americans are urging much higher levels to upgrade to the most recent array of weaponry. All but forgotten is the Peace Dividend that was promised in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved the Warsaw Pact alliance, expecting that NATO likewise would have little reason to exist.

Russia has no discernable economic interest in mounting a new occupation of Central Europe. That would offer no gain to Russia, as its leaders realized when they dissolved the old Soviet Union. In fact, no industrial country in today’s world can afford to field an infantry to occupy an enemy. All that NATO can do is bomb from a distance. It can destroy, but not occupy. The United States found that out in Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan. And just as the assassination Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo (now Bosnia-Herzegovina) triggered World War I in 1914, NATO’s bombing of adjoining Serbia may be viewed as throwing down the gauntlet to turn Cold War 2 into a veritable World War III. That marked the point at which NATO became an offensive alliance, not a defensive one.

How does this reflect European interests? Why should Europe re-arm, if the only effect is to make it a target of retaliation in the event of further attacks on Russia? What does Europe have to gain in becoming a larger customer for America’s military-industrial complex? Diverting spending to rebuild an offensive army – that can never be used without triggering an atomic response that would wipe out Europe – will limit the social spending needed to cope with today’s Covid problems and economic recession.

The only lasting leverage a nation can offer in today’s world is trade and technology transfer. Europe has more of this to offer than the United States. Yet the only opposition to renewed military spending is coming from right-wing parties and the German Linke party. Europe’s Social Democratic, Socialist and Labour parties share American neoliberal ideology.

Sanctions against Russian gas makes coal “the fuel of the future”

The carbon footprint of bombing, arms manufacturing and military bases is strikingly absent from today’s discussion about global warming and the need to cut back on carbon emissions. The German party that calls itself Green is leading the campaign for sanctions against importing Russian oil and gas, which electric utilities are replacing with Polish coal and even German lignite. Coal is becoming the “fuel of the future.” Its price also is soaring in the United States, benefitting American coal companies.

In contrast to the Paris Club agreements to reduce carbon emissions, the United States has neither the political capability nor the intention to join the conservation effort. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the Executive Branch has no authority to issue nation-wide energy rules; only individual states can do that, unless Congress passes a national law to cut back on fossil fuels.

That seems unlikely in view of the fact that becoming head of a Democratic Senate and Congressional committee requires being a leader in raising campaign contributions for the party. Joe Manchin, a coal-company billionaire, leads all senators in campaign support from the oil and coal industries, enabling him to win his party’s auction for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee chairmanship and block any seriously restrictive environmental legislation.

Next to oil, agriculture is a major contributor to the U.S. balance of payments. Blocking Russian grain and fertilizer shipping threatens to create a Global South food crisis as well as a European crisis as gas is unavailable to make domestic fertilizer. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of grain and also of fertilizer, and its exports of these products have been exempted from NATO sanctions. But Russian shipping was blocked by Ukraine placing mines in the sea lanes through the Black Sea to close off access to Odessa’s harbor, hoping that the world would blame the world’s imminent grain and energy crisis on Russia instead of the US/NATO trade sanctions imposed on Russia.[2] At his July 20, 2022 press conference Sergey Lavrov showed the hypocrisy of the public relations attempt to distort matters:

For many months, they told us that Russia was to blame for the food crisis because the sanctions don’t cover food and fertiliser. Therefore, Russia doesn’t need to find ways to avoid the sanctions and so it should trade because nobody stands in its way. It took us a lot of time to explain to them that, although food and fertiliser are not subject to sanctions, the first and second packages of Western restrictions affected freight costs, insurance premiums, permissions for Russian ships carrying these goods to dock at foreign ports and those for foreign ships taking on the same consignments at Russian harbours. They are openly lying to us that this is not true, and that it is up to Russia alone. This is foul play.

Black Sea grain transport has begun to resume, but NATO countries have blocked payments to Russia in dollars, euros or currencies of other countries in the U.S. orbit. Food-deficit countries that cannot afford to pay distress-level food prices face drastic shortages, which will be exacerbated when they are compelled to pay their foreign debts denominated in the appreciating U.S. dollar. The looming fuel and food crisis promises to drive a new wave of immigrants to Europe seeking survival. Europe already has been flooded with refugees from NATO’s bombing and backing of jihadist attacks on Libya and Near Eastern oil-producing countries. This year’s proxy war in Ukraine and imposition of anti-Russian sanctions is a perfect illustration of Henry Kissinger’s quip: “It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal.”

Blowback from the US/NATO miscalculations

America’s international diplomacy aims to dictate financial, trade and military policies that will lock other countries into dollar debt and trade dependency by preventing them from developing alternatives. If this fails, America seeks to isolate the recalcitrants from the U.S.-centered Western sphere.

America’s foreign diplomacy no longer is based on offering mutual gain. Such could be claimed in the aftermath of World War II when the United States was in a position to offer loans, foreign-aid and military protection against occupation – as well as manufactures to rebuild war-torn economies – to governments in exchange for their accepting trade and monetary policies favorable to American exporters and investors. But today there is only the belligerent diplomacy of threatening to hurt nations whose socialist governments reject America’s neoliberal drive to privatize and sell off their natural resources and public infrastructure.

The first aim is to prevent Russia and China from helping each other. This is the old imperial divide-and-conquer strategy. Minimizing Russia’s ability to support China would pave the way for the United States and NATO Europe to impose new trade sanctions on China, and to send jihadists to its western Xinjiang Uighur region. The aim is to bleed Russia’s armaments inventory, kill enough of its soldiers, and create enough Russian shortages and suffering to not only weaken its ability to help China, but to spur its population to support a regime change, an American-sponsored “color revolution.” The dream is to promote a Yeltsin-like leader friendly to the neoliberal “therapy” that dismantled Russia’s economy in the 1990s.

Amazing as it may seem, U.S. strategists did not anticipate the obvious response by countries finding themselves together in the crosshairs of US/NATO military and economic threats. On July 19, 2022, the presidents of Russia and Iran met to announce their cooperation in the face of the sanctions war against them. That followed Russia’s earlier meeting with India’s Prime Minister Modi. In what has been characterized as “shooting itself in its own foot,” U.S. diplomacy is driving Russia, China, India and Iran together, and indeed to reach out to Argentina and other countries to join the BRICS-plus bank to protect themselves.

The U.S. itself is ending the Dollar Standard of international finance

The Trump Administration took a major step to drive countries out of the dollar orbit in November 2018, by confiscating nearly $2 billion of Venezuela’s official gold stock held in London. The Bank of England put these reserves at the disposal of Juan Guaidó, the marginal right-wing politician selected by the United States to replace Venezuela’s elected president as head of state. This was defined as being democratic, because the regime change promised to introduce the neoliberal “free market” that is deemed to be the essence of America’s definition of democracy for today’s world.

This gold theft actually was not the first such confiscation. On November 14, 1979, the Carter Administration paralyzed Iran’s bank deposits in New York after the Shah was overthrown. This act blocked Iran from paying its scheduled foreign debt service, forcing it into default. That was viewed as an exceptional one-time action as far as all other financial markets were concerned. But now that the United States is the self-proclaimed “exceptional nation,” such confiscations are becoming a new norm in U.S. diplomacy. Nobody yet knows what happened to Libya’s gold reserves that Muammar Gadafi had intended to be used to back an African alternative to the dollar. And Afghanistan’s gold and other reserves were simply taken by Washington as payment for the cost of “freeing” that country from Russian control by backing the Taliban. But when the Biden Administration and its NATO allies made a much larger asset grab of some $300 billion of Russia’s foreign bank reserves and currency holdings in March 2022, it made official a radical new epoch in Dollar Diplomacy. Any nation that follows policies not deemed to be in the interests of the U.S. Government runs the risk of U.S. authorities confiscating its holdings of foreign reserves in U.S. banks or securities.

This was a red flag leading countries to fear denominating their trade, savings and foreign debt in dollars, and to avoid using dollar or euro bank deposits and securities as a means of payment. By prompting other countries to think about how to free themselves from the U.S.-centered world trade and monetary system that was established in 1945 with the IMF, World Bank and subsequently the World Trade Organization, the U.S. confiscations have accelerated the end of the U.S. Treasury-bill standard that has governed world finance since the United States went off gold in 1971.[3]

Since dollar convertibility into gold ended in August 1971, dollarization of the world’s trade and investment has created a need for other countries to hold most of their new international monetary reserves in U.S. Treasury securities and bank deposits. As already noted, that enables the United States to seize foreign bank deposits and bonds denominated in U.S. dollars.

Most important, the United States can create and spend dollar IOUs into the world economy at will, without limit. It doesn’t have to earn international spending power by running a trade surplus, as other countries have to do. The U.S. Treasury can simply print dollars electronically to finance its foreign military spending and purchases of foreign resources and companies. And being the “exceptional country,” it doesn’t have to pay these debts – which are recognized as being far too large to be paid. Foreign dollar holdings are free U.S. credit to the Unites States, not requiring repayment any more than the paper dollars in our wallets are expected to be paid off (by retiring them from circulation). What seems to be so self-destructive about America’s economic sanctions and confiscations of Russian and other foreign reserves is that they are accelerating the demise of this free ride.

Blowback resulting from US/NATO isolating their economic and monetary systems

It is hard to see how driving countries out of the U.S. economic orbit serves long-term U.S. national interests. Dividing the world into two monetary blocs will limit Dollar Diplomacy to its NATO allies and satellites.

The blowback now unfolding in the wake of U.S. diplomacy begins with its anti-Russia policy. Imposing trade and monetary sanctions was expected to block Russian consumers and businesses from buying the US/NATO imports to which they had become accustomed. Confiscating Russia’s foreign currency reserves was supposed to crash the ruble, “turning it into rubble,” as President Biden promised. Imposing sanctions against importing Russian oil and gas to Europe was supposed to deprive Russia of export earnings, causing the ruble to collapse and raising import prices (and hence, living costs) for the Russian public. Instead, blocking Russian exports has created a worldwide price inflation for oil and gas, sharply increasing Russian export earnings. It exported less gas but earned more – and with dollars and euros blocked, Russia demanded payment for its exports in rubles. Its exchange rate soared instead of collapsing, enabling Russia to reduce its interest rates.

Goading Russia to send its soldiers to eastern Ukraine to defend Russian speakers under attack in Luhansk and Donetsk, along with the expected impact of the ensuing Western sanctions, was supposed to make Russian voters press for regime change. But as almost always happens when a country or ethnicity is attacked, Russians were appalled at the Ukrainian hatred of Russian-language speakers and Russian culture, and at the Russophobia of the West. The effect of Western countries banning music by Russian composers and Russian novels from libraries – capped by England banning Russian tennis players from the Wimbledon tournament – was to make Russians feel under attack simply for being Russian. They rallied around President Putin.

NATO’s trade sanctions have catalyzed helped Russian agriculture and industry to become more self-sufficient by obliging Russia to invest in import substitution. One well-publicized farming success was to develop its own cheese production to replace that of Lithuania and other European suppliers. Its automotive and other industrial production is being forced to shift away from German and other European brands to its own and Chinese producers. The result is a loss of markets for Western exporters.

In the field of financial services, NATO’s exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT bank-clearing system failed to create the anticipated payments chaos. The threat had been so loudly for so long that Russia and China had plenty of time to develop their own payments system. This provided them with one of the preconditions for their plans to split their economies away from those of the US/NATO West.

As matters have turned out, the trade and monetary sanctions against Russia are imposing the heaviest costs on Western Europe, and are likely to spread to the Global South, driving them to think about whether their economic interests lie in joining U.S. confrontational Dollar Diplomacy. The disruption is being felt most seriously in Germany, causing many companies to close down as a result of gas and other raw-materials shortages. Germany’s refusal to authorize the North Stream 2 pipeline has pushed its energy crisis to a head. This has raised the question of how long Germany’s political parties can remain subordinate to NATO’s Cold War policies at the cost of German industry and households facing sharp rises in heating and electricity costs.

The longer it takes to restore trade with Russia, the more European economies will suffer, along with the citizenry at large, and the further the euro’s exchange rate will fall, spurring inflation throughout its member countries. European NATO countries are losing not only their export markets but their investment opportunities to gain from the much more rapid growth of Eurasian countries whose government planning and resistance to financialization has proved much more productive than the US/NATO neoliberal model.

It is difficult to see how any diplomatic strategy can do more than play for time. That involves living in the short run, not the long run. Time seems to be on the side of Russia, China and the trade and investment alliances that they are negotiating to replace the neoliberal Western economic order.

America’s ultimate problem is its neoliberal post-industrial economy

The failure and blowbacks of U.S. diplomacy are the result of problems that go beyond diplomacy itself. The underlying problem is the West’s commitment to neoliberalism, financialization and privatization. Instead of government subsidy of basic living costs needed by labor, all social life is being made part of “the market” – a uniquely Thatcherite deregulated “Chicago Boys” market in which industry, agriculture, housing and financing are deregulated and increasingly predatory, while heavily subsidizing the valuation of financial and rent-seeking assets – mainly the wealth of the richest One Percent. Income is obtained increasingly by financial and monopoly rent-seeking, and fortunes are made by debt-leveraged “capital” gains for stocks, bonds and real estate.

U.S. industrial companies have aimed more at “creating wealth” by increasing the price of their stocks by using over 90 percent of their profits for stock buybacks and dividend payouts instead of investing in new production facilities and hiring more labor. The result of slower capital investment is to dismantle and financially cannibalize corporate industry in order to produce financial gains. And to the extent that companies do employ labor and set up new production, it is done abroad where labor is cheaper.

Most Asian labor can afford to work for lower wages because it has much lower housing costs and does not have to pay education debt. Health care is a public right, not a financialized market transaction, and pensions are not paid for in advance by wage-earners and employers but are public. The aim in China in particular is to prevent the rentier Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector from becoming a burdensome overhead whose economic interests differ from those of a socialist government.

China treats money and banking as a public utility, to be created, spent and lent for purposes that help increase productivity and living standards (and increasingly to preserve the environment). It rejects the U.S.-sponsored neoliberal model imposed by the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization.

The global economic fracturing goes far beyond NATO’s conflict with Russia in Ukraine. By the time the Biden administration took office at the start of 2021, Russia and China already had been discussing the need to de-dollarize their foreign trade and investment, using their own currencies.[4] That involves the quantum leap of organizing a new payments-clearing institution. Planning had not progressed beyond broad outlines of how such a system would work, but the U.S. confiscation of Russia’s foreign reserves made such planning urgent, starting with a BRICS-plus bank. A Eurasian alternative to the IMF will remove its ability to impose neoliberal austerity “conditionalities” to force countries to lower payments to labor and give priority to paying their foreign creditors above feeding themselves and developing their own economies. Instead of new international credit being extended mainly to pay dollar debts, it will be part of a process of new mutual investment in basic infrastructure designed to accelerate economic growth and living standards. Other institutions are being designed as China, Russia, Iran, India and their prospective allies represent a large enough critical mass to “go it alone,” based on their own mineral wealth and manufacturing power.

The basic U.S. policy has been to threaten to destabilize countries and perhaps bomb them until they agree to adopt neoliberal policies and privatize their public domain. But taking on Russia, China and Iran is a much higher order of magnitude. NATO has disarmed itself of the ability to wage conventional warfare by handing over its supply of weaponry – admittedly largely outdated – to be devoured in Ukraine. In any case, no democracy in today’s world can impose a military draft to wage a conventional land warfare against a significant/major adversary. The protests against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s ended the U.S. military draft, and the only way to really conquer a country is to occupy it in land warfare. This logic also implies that Russia is no more in a position to invade Western Europe than NATO countries are to send conscripts to fight Russia.

That leaves Western democracies with the ability to fight only one kind of war: atomic war – or at least, bombing at a distance, as was done in Afghanistan and the Near East, without requiring Western manpower. This is not diplomacy at all. It is merely acting the role of wrecker. But that is the only tactic that remains available to the United States and NATO Europe. It is strikingly like the dynamic of Greek tragedy, where power leads to hubris that is injurious to others and therefore ultimately anti-social – and self-destructive in the end.

How then can the United States maintain its world dominance? It has deindustrialized and run up foreign official debt far beyond any foreseeable way to be paid. Meanwhile, its banks and bondholders are demanding that the Global South and other countries pay foreign dollar bondholders in the face of their own trade crisis resulting from the soaring energy and food prices caused by America’s anti-Russian and anti-China belligerence. This double standard is a basic internal contradiction that goes to the core of today’s neoliberal Western worldview.

I have described the possible scenarios to resolve this conflict in my recent book The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism. It has now also been issued in e-book form by Counterpunch Books.

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  1. “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RT television, Sputnik agency and Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, Moscow, July 20, 2022,” Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, July 20, 2022. https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1822901/. From Johnson’s Russia List, July 21, 2022, #5. 
  2. International Maritime Organization, “Maritime Security and Safety in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov,” https://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/HotTopics/Pages/MaritimeSecurityandSafetyintheBlackSeaandSeaofAzov.aspx. See Yves Smith, Some Implications of the UN’s Ukraine Grain and Russia Fertilizer/Food Agreements,” Naked Capitalism, July 25, 2022, and Lavrov’s July 24 speech to the Arab League. 
  3. My Super ImperialismThe Economic Strategy of American Empire (3rd ed., 2021) describes how the Treasury-bill standard has provided America with a free ride and enabled it to run balance-of-payments deficits without constraint, including the costs of its overseas military spending. 
  4. Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson (2021), “Beyond Dollar Creditocracy: A Geopolitical Economy,” Valdai Club Paper No. 116. Moscow: Valdai Club, 7 July, reprinted in Real World Economic Review (97), https://rwer.wordpress.com/2021/09/23. 

Europe hypnotized into war economy

July 29, 2022

By Jorge Vilches

Thirty two years ago Germans enthusiastically took down the Berlin wall. Now, captured by cunning Anglo-Saxon global elites, Germans are helping other European “useful idiots” to erect a much higher and thicker wall to cut themselves off from Russia leading them into a war economy. But as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has warned… “the approach has clearly failed — sanctions have backfired — and our car now has 4 four flat tires” … Question: vehicles don´t carry more than 2 spare tires on them, do they? So, one quick and innocent way to explain such unfathomable European miscalculation is to assume the EU leadership is immersed in a deep hypnotic trance and just blindly following US-UK instructions under Stoltenberg-Johnson war-mongering policies. Per “The Telegraph” Ref #1 https://www.rt.com/news/559682-johnson-uk-nato-ukriaine Ref #2 https://www.rt.com/news/559785-orban-eu-gas-war-economy/

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suicidal non-supply

The supply lines that up to 2022 successfully linked Europe and Russia took decades of very hard work to develop. This now means that almost all of such over-abundant contracts necessarily have no effective substitute because (a) no other vendors have such high quality at low price plus decades of vetting and proven experience + (b) the un-replaceable short freight distance and shipping time from nearby Russia. So, by definition, both (a) + (b) mean that today no equivalent supply lines could ever be found no matter how much Europe tried simply because it would be either too soon or too far …and always too hard and too pricey. So short cuts will be taken and corners rounded-off…. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. The impact of the above cannot be overstated though as the now-broken Euro-Russian supply lines were essential for the Just-In-Time strategy that Europe and world markets still require and cannot wait years to develop and iron out. Logistics 101: proven experience and performance with excellent price plus quick delivery from nearby sources cannot be substituted fast enough, or possibly ever. On purpose, Europe´s worst enemies couldn´t have inflicted worse harm than what a US-UK mesmerized Europe (what else ?) is doing to itself.

So EU sanctions are now cutting off dozens of key and highly varied Russian produce without which Europe as we know it will cease to exist. This involves foodstuffs, minerals of every sort, energy re oil & gas & coal & refined products thereof, etc., etc., plus key technologies and products from space rocket engines to nuclear fuels. Even Roscosmos announced that Russia will withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) project with the West after 2024 while by that time with an orbital station of its own. At any rate, the new European vendor problems for hundreds of products include each and every aspect of sales & procurement, sourcing & logistics, negotiations, pricing, contract terms, payment, banking procedures, sampling and testing, delivery pathway coordination, additional trucking, roads, vessels and inland waterways for shut down pipeline delivery, on-the-fly solutions for new problems, railroads, loading and unloading yards, ports, process alignment & upgrade, synchronization, scheduling, building and adapting key infrastructure, insurance, guarantees, new administrative matters, buffer storage, vendor vetting, multiple regulatory compliance, etc., etc. So the most efficient and swift Euro-Russian trade routines have today turned into logistical and management nightmares. Europe now and for the near future — in most unfavorable circumstances — needs to run unexpected risks to re-do all such hard work in a hurry and for every banned Russian product, not just coal & oil & nat-gas. And it is not a “plug & play” process either. It takes time. Tons of changes have to be made even after finding a trustworthy vendor. It is costly, cumbersome, and prone to project creep & fatigue. All fully unnecessary and chaotic.

No country in the EU is anywhere ready for any of the above, let alone all of Europe at the very same time with the very same deadline. Furthermore, an impaired Germany would mean a very different Europe something which at this late stage cannot be avoided even if Germans wanted to get their feet wet in a hurry. Jim Rickards now says that “Almost everything you heard about the war in Ukraine from U.S. media over the course of March, April, and May was a lie.” Furthermore, the Western news regarding the impact of the Ukraine war contained very few truths that can confuse just as much. Per Rickards “The economies of the U.S. and the EU are in or very near to recession. Inflation is out of control in the West and commodity shortages will lead quickly to food shortages and more empty shelves in supermarkets… as economic sanctions have backfired ”. And now labor unions add fuel to the fire fully knowing they have the leverage to worsen inflation which is the hottest political topic nowadays. So they now demand better working conditions “with protests turning up at all spots in the global supply chain, including railways, trucking, warehouses, and ports…” At any rate, today Russia is taking full control and will probably retain for itself what up until 2022 were Ukraine´s best assets. That includes its industrial core, its enormously large and specialized natural resources, a most fertile land reminiscent of the Argentine Pampas, and all the ports and the major rivers with Russian territory unscathed. No wonder Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wants plain “out” of the current European non-strategy despite that Euroclear is raking in dozens of millions in profits from seized Russian bank accounts.

Ref #3 https://www.rt.com/russia/558846-us-uk-eu-sanctions/

Ref #4 https://news.antiwar.com/2022/07/24/hungarys-orban-says-us-russia-peace-talks-needed-to-end-ukraine-war/

Ref #5 https://dailyreckoning.com/needless-death-and-misery/

Ref #6 https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/labor-has-leverage-protesting-supply-chain-workers-threaten-worsen-worlds-inflation-crisis

Ref #7 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-24/world-s-key-workers-threaten-to-hit-economy-where-it-will-hurt?sref=6uww027M

Ref #8 https://www.rt.com/business/559647-eurozone-profits-frozen-russian-assets/

Ref #9 https://www.rt.com/russia/559598-jens-stoltenberg-calls-allies-pay/

add a low Rhine…

The Rhine River directly affects trade and industrial logistics of several key European countries namely, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands while indirectly affecting many others or, in some cases, all the others. In particular, the über-important German inland transportation system – and therefore its entire supply chains network – depends upon normal levels of Rhine River waters. Because it´s not only a matter of sourcing the right quality, quantity and price of any produce. It is just as important to receive it Just-In-Time at process destinations such as refineries or power plants as explained later. Simultaneously, all European stakeholders are competing with each other tooth and nail struggling to find, contract and retain exactly the same resources in order to solve the same unexpected problems all at once and by the same date. And it´s not only coal or oil or natural gas — and many other raw materials in and of themselves — but also for the means required to transport, deliver and process all of them.

So everybody and his sister would now in Europe be modifying the same things at the same time with the same resources by the same date. For example, looking for the very first – and certainly bad – resource, namely trucking fleets of every size and type and humongous amounts of EU-certified drivers thereof. This additional heavy truck traffic would require upgrading newer roads and building new ones. Also, the different processes required for these different commodities also require all-around modifications at refineries, new-feedstock power plants, petrochemical plants, etc., etc., etc. Furthermore, there were no plans for any of this nor for the abundant technical human resources required and/or vetted management staff. Managerially speaking, this is not a contingency. It is a fully unexpected European-wide revolution with a terribly demanding time frame and critical failures as the most probable result. This involves strategic value-chain upstream items with EU captive consumers cascading into multiple supply chain failures thru lack of nat-gas, rare earths, inert gases, potash, sulfur, uranium, palladium, vanadium, cobalt, coke, titanium, nickel, lithium, plastics, glass, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, ships, inks, airplanes, polymers, medical and industrial gases, sealing rings & membranes, power transmission, transformer and lube oils, neon gas for microchip etching, etc., etc.

Thousands of yet unknown people are needed to execute all of these projects with yet to be defined job descriptions, yet to be interviewed, hired, trained, teams put together, deployed, etc. Many oldies will be called back from retirement

For many good reasons – mostly obvious — roads & trucks many times cannot compete with seaborne or internal water-ways freight either by volumes shipped or final destination delivery requirements. Furthermore, the supply lines/production system is already set up in a given way and any change introduced to previous logistics is fully unforeseen. For instance, high-load storage facilities and high-consuming processing plants, refineries, power stations and the like are conveniently located for vessel access or pipelines or railways, not trucks. So, now with everyone scrambling for ultra-hard-to-find solutions, EU products will require higher transportation costs by, for instance, having to replace sintering ores with concentrates or pellets. And it is unlikely for higher costs to be absorbed by the market under current conditions of falling demand. So profit margins will get yet narrower – or negative – as already under heavy pressure from high energy prices and labor costs in an inflationary vicious cycle. Sooner or later this leads to either very high inflation, or recession… or even depression. Also, a tremendous food problem has arisen as a consequence of the EU sanctions, involving final produce and intermediate outcomes such as fertilizers which in turn affect yields.

hypnotized food

EU sanctions have prevented operations with Russian grain, including insurance and the admission of Russian ships to foreign ports and entry of foreign ships to Russian ports. Russia cannot solve that nor contribute to solving that in any way, shape, or form. Only the EU can solve that problem. What Russia can and will do is to develop its economy by counting on reliable partners instead of Western countries not willing or able to comply with the agreed terms of trade. No (Russian) gas no fertilizers, less (Russian) gas less fertilizers for everyone including Third World economies.

Higher oil prices – or no oil – mean more expensive distillates such as diesel oil required for farming food produce.

In view of less Russian gas, BASF has slashed ammonia production which is an essential component for fertilizers.

Ref #10 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/basf-prepares-slash-ammonia-production-germany-amid-worsening-natgas-crunch

hypnotized energy

Up until Jan. 2022, coal (“brown” coal, the dirtiest of them all) was only responsible for 33% of power generation in Germany… but not anymore (more on that later). Let alone the case of oil & gas with ultra simplified door-to-door delivery of excellent, cheap products through quick and clean pipelines. BTW, the case of now badly-needed coal is probably the worst of all, as its complete phase-out was planned for 2030 but now fully reverted with de-commissioned coal-fired power stations most probably returning as Germany´s first line energy suppliers. Less Russian natural gas means less heating, less hot water, less power and less fertilizer among other important things. And the EU cannot print natural gas or Rubles.

“ Despite the aggressive Western sanctions… Russia has been very restrained as far as counter-measures are concerned. So after loudly saying that the EU wants nothing to do with Russian energy or Russian pipelines, the EU should hardly be upset if Russia is tired of laboring not to give them what they asked for, an economic divorce. The problem is Europe is now upset that it’s getting what it acted like it wanted.” – Yves Smith – “Naked Capitalism”

Ref # 11 https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2022/07/the-end-of-cheap-russian-gas-turning-the-lights-out-in-europe.html

On a recent press conference Russia´s President Vladimir Putin explained that the EU energy security problem is definetly not Russia nor Gazprom. Very simply put: with long winters, less sun, low winds, and EU banks that will not finance fossil fuels investments, plus insurance companies that do not insure them, and local governments that do not allocate land plots for new projects, so then pipelines are not built… while demand keeps growing. Then for political reasons the Ukraine government shuts down a pipeline station. Then the Siemens-Canada problem as, by contract, turbines require regular maintenance and repairs. In sum, the EU has shut-down — on its own — two Russian pipeline routes as Ukraine and Poland effectively cut off the Yamal-Europe pipeline. Ukraine overtly, Poland by refusing to pay under the new gas for roubles scheme. The EU has also sanctioned one turbine while not commissioning North Stream 2, thus completely tying down Gazprom´s hands. Furthermore, the documentation that Gazprom received from Canada and Siemens did not respond to the turbine sanctions-waiver questions. Also, Gazprom is unable to fully use another route as Ukraine has been rejecting its transit applications. In sum, Europe does not have a strategy. Add to that the shut-down of nuclear power stations. And as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, Russia no longer cares to relate to Europe – or the West at large — as it is not “agreement-capable”.

As if all of the above were not enough, many EU members now have to deploy the DE-conversion from natural gas and the RE-conversion into polluting coal. This back-to-coal ´solution´ is (a) very dirty and against Europe´s Green Plan plus other climate pledges and regulations (b) ultra-expensive (c) a major industrial, logistical and social upheaval that would not make it by this coming winter soon knocking on the European doors, and probably not even for next winter 2023-2024. This separate – yet overlapping – set of major madhouse back-to-coal projects also imply enormous logistics risks and major modifications and tight schedules all around, bids, bidders, contract oversight, certification, commissioning, etc., etc., etc for which nobody involved is prepared, neither regulators, nor vendors, nor consultants or engineering firms, nor end users, nor households, nor labor unions, nor the industry at large.

hypnotized renewables

Renewables have various serious problems including their variable power generation limitations. For example, in low wind or low sun seasons such as 2021-2022 which Europe suffers today. Renewables also have very poor optics – “not in my back yard” — plus impact upon bird life with unavoidable and undesirable consequences. And although there is more to be said, let´s conclude with the all-important de-commissioning problem in view of their rather shortish life-span. Furthermore — in order to see the light of day — manufacture of renewables requires humongous loads of nat-gas, oil, coal, minerals and commodities, all of them necessarily sourced in Russia not anywhere else. Unless the problem were to be compounded and worsened on purpose something quite in fashion today in Europe. For instance, manufacturing of wind turbines requires thousands of tons of nickel and rare earth minerals. Also, any such large structures and components thereof are to be transported to temporary and final destinations — and erected — with Russian fossil-powered equipment. Such is also required for the inevitable regular maintenance and end-of-life decommissioning. Solar photovoltaic energy requires humongous amounts of silver beyond belief, a process which also consumes (Russian) fossil fuels in enormous quantities, including the manufacture of the mining equipment required. Furthermore, as soon as renewables in large quantities are added to any electrical grid, costs go up – not down — as they have to be backstopped by fossil-fueled thermal plants that today should also run on Russian fuels. Please understand and accept that the more renewables added, the more natural gas that is needed. People do not accept rolling brown-outs let alone black-outs, so fossil fuel backstops are mandatory. With current existing technologies, promoting fully counter-productive and subsidized renewables expansion as Germany has and continues to do is reckless. EV lithium batteries require lithium mining which in turn has a whole new set of problems to be resolved Ref #12 https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/lighting-gas-under-european-feet-how-politicians-journalists-get-energy-so-wrong

hypnotized toilet paper

Per “Zeit On-Line” the new European hygiene status is now ready to deploy forces into rolling brown-out territory.

Is this another bad result of the hypnotic spell ? Ref #13 https://www.rt.com/business/559698-germans-warned-toilet-paper-shortage/

hypnotized fish´n´chips

Toilet paper orientation - Wikipedia

Russian sanctions would leave British pubs without fish’n’chips.

C:\Users\Jorge Vilches\Desktop\index.jpg

Ref # 14 https://www.rt.com/news/559748-fish-chips-uk-sanctions/

bottom line

Rachel Marsden at RT has summarized it very precisely as follows: “The conflict in Ukraine risks creating the ultimate nightmare for Western elites: an alternative group of allies over which the West has no control, but with the capacity to offer opportunities that are competitive with what their own governments or countries are offering… Western elites are doubling down in Ukraine to save the world order that protects their own selfish interests, thinking that it’s the way to prevent a parallel option from emerging. It’s as simple as that. And they don’t care if it’s the average citizen who has to pay the price”. Ref #15 https://www.rt.com/russia/558490-liberal-world-order-explained/

By banning Russian produce, the EU will bring the European sourcing matrix down on its knees, something which by now has already dawned on the average European also realizing that – at the very best and if not corrupted — their political class is just a bunch of ignorant fools. With these ´Russian sanctions´ EU politicians have unnecessarily set Europe up for hundreds of overlapping, cross-borders, gargantuan projects impossible to fulfill simultaneously, with absurd sequencing and scheduling coordination, plus peremptory timing limitations and deadlines, with countless of well- synchronized engineering specialties and very risky, highly demanding logistics, plus overwhelming legal, political, and environmental aspects. Accordingly, this glorious mismanagement in a decisive decade has the whole EU economy fully at risk with the obvious additional pain of potentially making non-performing rushed and poorly designed modifications everywhere.

Furthermore, Europe will spend a fortune it cannot afford while probably deploying soon-to-fail and trouble full reconversion projects ending up with many half-finished facilities that will not be anywhere ready on time, or ever.

The EU strategy regarding Russian sanctions and arming Ukraine has failed miserably as Europeans are being un-relentlessly ashamed with EU leaders despicably cheating on them and everyone else among other things per non-compliance of the Minsk Accords. Ukraine cannot ever come anywhere close to winning this war, corruption is everywhere rampant and the more weapons Ukraine receives from the West the longer their war will last and the larger territory that Ukraine will lose.

Massive migrations to Club Med countries (mostly PIGS) are highly probable even starting during 2022

Per The Guardian, “…Come October, it’s going to get horrific, truly horrific…a scale beyond what we can deal with”.

Ref #15 https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/apr/19/energy-chiefs-fear-40-of-britons-could-fall-into-fuel-poverty-in-truly-horrific-winter

additional IMPORTANT references

https://www.dw.com/en/eu-prepares-for-russia-to-cut-off-gas-supply-over-sanctions/a-62493092

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_22_4608

https://www.zerohedge.com/political/amusing-tales-coal-bottleneck-germany-failure-plan

https://mishtalk.com/economics/amusing-tales-of-a-coal-bottleneck-in-germany-and-the-failure-to-plan

https://www.eurointelligence.com/

https://www.rt.com/business/559561-russia-sanctions-removal-lavrov/

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/21/ukraine-war-europe-turns-to-coal-as-russia-squeezes-gas-supplies.html

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220620-dutch-join-germany-austria-in-reverting-to-coal

https://www.rt.com/business/557503-austria-coal-green-energy/

C:\Users\Jorge Vilches\Desktop\Map.-Oil-import-infrastructure-(in-eastern-Germany-and-Poland).png

Michael Hudson: Interview with RT – Transcript

May 21, 2022

Source

Michael Hudson’s interview with RT – May 19 2022.

Peter Scott, RT anchor: Joining us now is Michael Hudson, economist and author of “Super-Imperialism” and the recently-published “Destiny of Civilization”. Welcome to the programme, Michael.

Michael Hudson: It’s good to be back.

PS: Let’s say all these European programmes like the REPOWER Programme come into effect, how do you expect the EU standing to be on the stage after that?

MH: Well, the EU standing will be squeezed economically. It was trying to be a powerhouse in the world economy but in the last month the euro has been declining steadily against the dollar and it’s on the way to one dollar per euro. That’s because it’s having to pay much foreign exchange for energy, for food, for weapons. It’s shrinking in terms of other economies.

PS: Where do you think the EU’s standing will be in relation to powerhouses such as China?

MH: Well, it’s obviously out of the game. Instead of putting its own interests first, it’s really putting the US interests first. It’s acting more like a satellite of the United States than trying to its own destiny. The whole plan of the EU 20 years ago was to get rich by investing in Russia, investing in China and a mutual exchange. And now it’s decided to stop that. The US has absorbed Europe. The war in Ukraine is a war by the US primarily to pull Europe into the US orbit, prevent European transactions with Russia or China. So Western Europe is being left out, while Russia, China and Eurasia are going with the rest of Asia. Europe is simply going to be left behind. It’s losing its export markets, it’s being squeezed and -as you just mentioned- it’s pushed up the retirement age because it’s spending its budget on replenishing American military arms instead of investing in industry as it had been doing since 1945.

PS: You did indeed write that Europe has ceased to be an independent state. You’ve almost mentioned that the United States wanted to sever EU trade ties with Russia and China. How exactly did you get to that conclusion and do you think that this alleged US plan is succeeding?

MH: Well, I simply read the speeches of President Biden and his team. They’ve said that China is America’s number one enemy. If you’re going to call a country your number one existential enemy, you’re not going to be increasing your trade and mutual dependency with it. And it’s already insisted that its allies sanction -meaning boycott- Russian sports not only of oil and agriculture but of titanium, helium and all of the other exports that Russia has been making.Europe jas been following US directions not to have contact with Russia and without contact with Russia it’s not going to have contact with China because China sees that Europe is going to do exactly what it’s been doing to Russia.

PS: Obviously as a result of this current situation, for many years now, Russia and China have been growing closer diplomatically and economically. How do you see a global shift in power evolving over the next 5, 10 years or so?

MH: The current war is dividing the world into two parts. There’s going to be a US dollar area of the US, Europe and its satellites. And there’ll be a multipolarity; there’ll be a group of Russia, China together and basically they will be making their proposal of a different way of organising the world economic affairs to Africa, Latin America and other Asian countries. And other Asian countries, Latin America and the global south will see that it can get a better deal with Russia and China than it can get with the United States.

PS: On the flip side of that coin, one could argue that the existing situation, world order, has only been cemented by this war. You see NATO more aligned than ever, you see Europe more aligned than ever. You see Finland and Sweden on the brink, perhaps, of joining NATO. What would your response to this be, Michael?

MH: This integration of Europe into the United States sphere is like the new Berlin Wall. It’s isolated the US from the whole rest of the world. So instead of a victory for the United States it’s self-isolated itself because US strategists have realised that they’re losing the economic war with China, Russia and the whole group of emerging nations. All they can try to do is hold on to Europe as their one source of income to exploit from Europe what it can no longer get from any other country.

PS: As well as being a war on the ground, this is obviously an economic war. You yourself have noted that Nord Stream 2 (the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany) was one of the first victims of this crisis. To what extent are we now seeing an international conflict for energy resources? We obviously have the EU now weaning itself off Russian energy, the US trying to fill that gap to a certain extent with LNG. Then we have Russia now selling oil to India and China.

MH: The important thing about Russian oil being sold to India is that they’re sold in roubles, they’re no longer in dollars. The entire oil trade is now de-dollarised. It will be in roubles, in Chinese Yuan and in other currencies. But the dollar will be left out. The whole idea of dollar diplomacy, of the dollar’s free ride and monetary imperialism has ended.Everyone thought it would take 10 years for Russia, China and other countries to break away. Yet the United States itself has broken away from the other countries by grabbing the foreign exchange reserves of Afghanistan, Venezuela and now Russia. Nobody is going to trust to transact oil, trade and invest in dollars anymore because the United States can simply grab whatever money they want from countries that don’t agree to turn over their economic surplus to American investors and American traders. The United States has isolated itself. It’s shot itself in the foot.

PS: Talking of currencies, Russia is currently the most sanctioned country in the world but the rouble has recovered to way before pre-war levels. To what extent do you think the sanctions imposed on Russia by western countries have negatively impacted the countries imposing them?

MH: It’s certainly been very positive for Russia. The first sanctions were imposed on Russian agriculture like cheese from Lithuania. So now Russia produces its own cheese. When you sanction a country, you force that country to be more self-reliant on its own productions. President Putin has already said that now he’s going to be investing in import substitution. If he can’t buy imports from the United States now he’ll set up factories in Russia to produce themselves. There’s no reason Russia cannot do this and be its own industrial power. It doesn’t need the West. But the West still needs Russia. You mentioned Europe doing without Russian oil, and instead getting US liquefied natural gas. But it doesn’t have the ports to import that natural gas. It will have to spend $5 billion to build ports. It will take many years for this. What are Germany and Europe going to do for the next few years? Are they going to let their pipes freeze in their houses? So that their pipes break and flood the houses? Will the factories slow down? Already German fertiliser companies have closed down because they can’t get gas and it’s going to be years before they can get gas. Without fertiliser how are the Germans going to make their agricultural yields sustainable? Well, they won’t be. So Europe is going to increase its food deficit. It’s going to increase its energy deficit. It’s basically committing suicide on behalf of the Americans. I don’t know how long the political system of Europe can go along with leaders who represent America instead of their own national interests.

PS: As inflation and consumer prices keep rising in the US – Joe Biden maintains that it’s all Russia’s fault. Does it look like American taxpayers are buying that story, though?

MH: The press is very one-sided here. I think a lot of people are buying the story because Russia has not been very good on public relations here. The reality is, for instance, that in Ukrainian food exports, Ukraine cannot export its grain because Ukraine itself has mined the Black Sea. If you have mines that are going to block up ships in the Black Sea, that means insurance companies aren’t going to be willing to insure ships carrying the grain. All of this is blamed on Russia but Russia didn’t put the mines there – Ukraine did. But right now there is such a race hatred of Russians, that Americans are indeed buying it all and Russians are being blamed for everything. Such a thing happened when WW1 broke out. I live in Forest Hills in NYC and German families here had to change their name -away from a German name- and pretend to be Swedish or something else. Families like Donald Trump’s family had to pretend to be Swedish not German. There was such an anti-German family. Then you had the Japanese being interned in camps in WW2.So American society is a hate-filled society and the American empire is really an empire of hatred and antagonism. The way they look at the world is ‘Us vs. Them’ and Russia is the new ‘Them’.

PS: The seizing of Russian economic assets – hundreds of billions of dollars – in the West has certainly become a controversial precedent. Moscow has called it theft. What sort of impact has this situation had on the US economy and the dollar itself, as a global reserve currency?

MH: No impact at all on the US economy as such. If Russia loses the $300 billion that was stolen, it will be a great victory for Russia. That’s because what America has said is that no country’s savings in the United States are safe. Any country that denominated its trade in US dollars, any country that invests in the United States, if you don’t have your government follow American dictates, then we can simply grab your money -like we grabbed Russia’s money, Afghanistan’s money, Venezuela’s money. So the act against Russia has been essentially the US destroying foreign faith in the US economy and the safety of the US government. For the last 75 years, the US dollar and US Treasury Bills, loaned to the US government, bonds, have been the safest investment in the world. Now they’re the most risk investment. So what this means is that the American economy has decoupled itself from the Asian economy, from the Latin American and African economies. The Americans have decoupled and yet America is not self-sufficient. It relies on foreign countries, especially China and other Asian countries, for its industrial exports and it relies on Russia for much of its helium, titanium, iridium, palladium… all of these exports which it’s not going to be getting anymore. So America has basically committed trade suicide and economic suicide. Russia seems to have lost the $300 billion but on the other hand it now gets to compensate itself with all of the foreign investments that are in Russia, that it’s picking up, and its position in the world affairs as a trustworthy economy has gone way, way up relative to the United States.

PS: Russia, China and India are among the countries which are now calling for a new, multi-polar world order – without a strong reliance on the US and its allies. Does that seem like a realistic scenario to you?

MH: Well, the crisis is going to come this summer. Now that you have oil and food prices and shipping rates go way up, you’re going to have Latin America, Africa and much of Asia have tremendous balance-of-payment deficit. These balance-of-trade deficits for oil, food and shipping are going to go hand-in-hand with huge foreign debts denominated in dollars for foreign bond holders and foreign banks. Something is going to give. What will probably give is massive debt defaults against American bondholders and against American banks.At this point, Russia, China and their allies can say, “We can create parallel institutions in the world. We can create our International Monetary Fund to give you credit. We can create our own World Bank to promote actual, positive developments and not dependency on the United States exporters. So the US policy has driven other countries into the Eurasian orbit of China, Russia, Iran will be joining, India will be along, Indonesia. All these countries now will have something that they never had before; they have their own critical mass. They can deal with each other and be self-sufficient. They don’t need the dollar anymore. That’s what makes today different from the 1970s when the third world countries and the non-aligned nations tried to create a new international economic order but couldn’t. They didn’t have enough scope in their economies. Now they have enough scope that they don’t need America. You’re going to find the rest of the world rushing away from the dollar area, leaving only Europe as part of the United States economy at great sacrifice of its own living standards.

PS: Which countries do you think are gaining the most from the ongoing political and economic turmoil?

MH: I don’t know if you can say win. I’d say Russia and China will be the big winners. Russia already is because the American sanctions against Russia have forced Russia to do something that it could have done half a century ago. It’s forced Russia to create its own consumer goods industry, its own industrial take off. Russia can now build its own plants, equipment and factories and hire its own labour to produce what it was buying from Europe before. So it won’t need Europe anymore. Europe has lost the Russian market. Without the Russian market, I don’t see where Europe can grow because the United States won’t let European goods into it. The United States is protectionist. Europe will be squeezed and ultimately it will end up moving into the Russian and Chinese orbits but it will take years of suffering before that occurs.

PS: There’s a lot of talk on Western unity but it’s clear that there’s an economic price for this. Will the pain see countries follow Hungary and Serbia and say, enough is enough, we’re done with this.

MH: Western unity is a one way unity. Western unity is the United States telling other countries, “Do what we tell you to.” If other countries don’t do what America tells it to, they’re treated like the enemy. Like Hungary has been treated as an enemy. There’s talk of how to punish Hungary. The Americans have no idea how to offer something to attract other countries to it. All the United States can do is, “We can bomb you if you don’t do what we say. We have nothing positive to offer you. We have no trade options to offer you. We have no investment to offer you that will not siphon off your income. All we can do is bomb you and threaten you and sanction you and try to hurt you.” That’s the only way the United States and now Europe can relate to the rest of the world. That’s a poisoned relating. It’s a way guaranteed to drive the rest of the world away.

PS: Looking to a time after the war. What do you think the relationship between the US and Russia, or the EU and Russia look like?

MH: Permanently hostile for 20 years until Europe collapses and until the United States goes into a long depression. There is no rapprochement. There will be no settlement because the United States industrial economy can only make military arms. The only thing the United States can offer other countries is bombers and military arms and weaponry. Not anything to raise the living standards. The situation in the United States will be one of increasing hostility towards the rest of the world. The great threat is that it will say, “Well, we’re just going to blow up the world.”The people who are in charge of US policy think that way, they’ve been thinking that way for 20 years. I’ve worked with these people before and they really are willing to blow up the world if they can’t turn the other world into dependencies. That’s a real danger for the rest of the world and it’s forcing it to withdraw from the US orbit. I think it was Henry Kissinger who said that, “To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but. “To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal.” Well, the US friend who’s really in danger is Europe. The enemies are going to do OK because they’re at least friends with each other.

—o0o—

Also take a look at more information that Michael Hudson supplied to us.  It is not on the main page and can only be found via the All News Button.

(Updated with transcript) Ben Norton aka Multipolarista interviews Michael Hudson: Destiny of Civilization

May 12, 2022

Source

The decline of the US dollar, the three ‘systems’, the sanctions war on Russia, on the eve of the publication of Prof. Hudson’s new book:  The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism.”

UPDATE:  This wonderful transcript is now available just underneath the video

Transcript

BENJAMIN NORTON: Hey, everyone. I’m Ben Norton, and this is the Multipolarista podcast. And I have the great pleasure of being joined today by one of my favorite guests, one of I think the most important economists in the world today. I’m speaking with Professor Michael Hudson.

If you’ve seen any of the interviews I’ve done with Professor Hudson over the past few years, you probably know that he’s a brilliant analyst. He always has, I think, the best analysis to understand what’s going on economically and also politically, geopolitically, in the world today.

And right now is, I think, a very important moment to have Professor Hudson on today. We’re going to talk about the economic war on Russia and the process of economic decoupling between Russia and China and the West, which is something that Professor Hudson has talked about for many years. And that really has accelerated with the Western sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.

We’re also going to talk about the decline in U.S. dollar hegemony. A recent report from the International Monetary Fund, which is dominated by the U.S., acknowledged that the use of the dollar in foreign bank reserves is gradually declining.

Now, it’s not going to disappear overnight. But even the IMF is acknowledging that dollar hegemony is eroding. And, of course, the IMF acknowledged that the Western sanctions on Russia are going to further erode the hegemony of the U.S. dollar.

We now see Russia doing business with China in the Chinese yuan. Russia is also doing business with India with the Indian rupee. And of course Russia has been telling Europe that if it wants to buy Russian energy, it has to do so with Russian rubles.

So there’s so much to talk about today, Professor Hudson, but I want to begin in the first half of this interview today talking about a new book that you’re just about to publish.

Today is Monday, May 9th. You said on Wednesday, May 11th, the book comes out. And it’s called “The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism.”

And everything that I just prefaced this interview with, discussing the economic war in Russia and sanctions and decoupling, this is all deeply related to what you talk about in this book. And I had the pleasure of getting an early copy and reading through it. It’s a really important book, I think.

And you talk about this fundamental divide internationally – and this is a divide that actually goes back historically as well – between these three models for different economic systems you discuss: finance capitalism, industrial capitalism, and socialism.

And your argument is that the U.S. empire has been a force for imposing neoliberalism, which is a particular form of finance capitalism, which is nonproductive, in which finance capital destroys productive industries in pursuit of rent-seeking, and what you call the rentier class.

So instead of producing, as the classical bourgeois economists had said capitalism would be a productive system instead, finance capitalism is fundamentally a system of destruction and debt.

And your argument is that this is deeply rooted in U.S. foreign policy. This is the U.S. foreign policy strategy for expanding its economic power, is imposing this finance capitalist model on the world.

So can you expand further on your argument about the fight between finance capitalism, industrial capitalism, and socialism, and why you decided to publish this book now?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well the book came out of a series of 10 lectures that I did for my Chinese audience. I’ve been a professor at Peking University for a number of years in economics, and have professorships at other universities, Wuhan and Hong Kong.

And I have a fairly large audience of about 65,000 people per lecture there. And I was asked to give my general overview, sort of a history of economic development in the West, for the Chinese.

And in order to understand today’s finance capitalism, you have to understand what industrial capitalism was, as it was described in the 19th century.

And it’s often forgotten, or played down, that industrial capitalism was revolutionary. What it was trying to do – from the physiocrats in France in the late 18th century to Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Marx, and the whole late-19th century flowering of socialism – the ideal of classical value theory and rent theory, was to say what is the actual value, the cost value of producing goods and services?

And what is earned by the capitalist, when he employs labor to make a profit, and what is unearned? And what is unearned was the landlord class. That was the hereditary warrior class that conquered all of the European kingdoms in the Middle Ages.

And the attempt by England’s industrialists was saying, look, we cannot become the workshop of the world; we cannot undersell foreign countries if we have a landlord class ripping off all of the money in land rent.

And if we have predatory banking, or the wealthy people just lend really for buying property, or making distressed loans or predatory loans that have nothing to do with financing actual capital formation.

Well, what made this capitalism revolutionary was the British industrialists and advocates of industry, even the bankers in Ricardo’s time, said, well, in order to overthrow the landlord class, which controls the House of Lords and all of the upper chambers of government in Europe, we have to have democratic reform.

If we have democratic reform and give voting to the people, they’re going to vote against the landlord class, and then we can have an efficient economy where our prices of our exports and our goods and services reflect the actual cost of production, not the rake off for the rentiers class, not the rake off of what landlords take, not the rake off of what predatory bankers take.

And the whole long 19th century leading up to World War One was this revolutionary value theory that depicted land rent and monopoly rent and financial returns as being unearned income and wanting to strip it away.

And all of this seemed to be moving toward socialism. The industrialists were all in favor of government public utilities, of government enterprise, because they said, if the government doesn’t provide health care, then individuals are going to have to pay it, and it’ll cost a lot of money, like it does in the United States.

And so you had the conservative prime minister of England, Benjamin Disraeli, saying, health, all is health, we’ve got to provide public health for the people.

And it was the conservative Bismarck in Germany that said, we’ve got to provide pensions. If labor has to save up for the pensions, then it’s not going to have enough money to buy the goods and services that we Germans are producing. We have got to make pensions public.

So all of this move towards socialism was not only in favor of increasing living standards, which soared in the 19th century, but also in freeing the economy from the rentier class, from the landlords, from the bankers.

And for the classical economists, a free market was a market free from landlords, free from bankers, free from monopolists.

Well, needless to say, the rentiers fought back. And by after World War Two, we’ve seen a continual anti-classical theory replacing the classical idea of free markets with a value of free theory, saying, well, everybody earns whatever they they have. All wealth is earned, not unearned. And if Goldman Sachs partners are paid more than anyone else, that’s because they’re so productive.

So you had a move rejecting classical economics, a junk economics, and a kind of artificial economics that doesn’t really talk about how finance capitalism has worked.

And as it turns out, the business plan of finance capitalism was so predatory that it was anti-industrial.

That’s why President Clinton in the United States moved to invite China into the International Labor Organization, saying, well, we can fight wage rises in America by a race to the bottom. We can we can hire Asians to do work, and that will cause unemployment here. And that’s wonderful for the industrialists. It will basically cut wages and keep American wages down.

Well, that basically is the strategy of finance capitalism, and the aim of finance capitalism is not to invest in factories, and plant equipment, and research and development, but to live in the short term, but to make money by financial engineering, not industrial engineering.

And it becomes predatory, and so you have the whole ideological attack on public enterprise. You have Frederick Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom,” where you say, if government provides public healthcare, that’s “the road to serfdom,” where actually it’s finance capitalism that is the road to debt peonage and serfdom.

And you have now a whole disparagement of government. And all of this is a counter-revolution to the revolutionary impetus of industrial capitalism in its early stages.

And it’s true that corporations now are just as right-wing as the the banks and the hedge funds. But that’s because corporate industry has been taken over by the financial sector, and the heads of almost every industrial corporation are rewarded the how high they can push the stock price, to exercise the stock options they’re paid in.

And you increase the stock price not by investing more, not by hiring more labor or increasing productivity or increasing sales, but simply by using whatever income you have to buy back your stocks. And by buying back your stocks, this forces up their price.

And, most of all, by giving political contributions in this country to the Democrats and Republicans alike, who appoint Federal Reserve heads that have spent $7-9 trillion buying up stocks and bonds to increase the price of buying a retirement income, to increase Wall Street prices, to increase housing prices, and make America even less competitive industrially.

So finance capitalism is what has essentially de-industrialized the United States and turned the Midwest into a Rust Belt.

Well, the alternative, obviously, are the societies that have not followed this neoliberal finance capitalist plan. And the most successful economy, obviously, has been China, which is why it has been spending so much time there.

And China has done exactly what 19th-century United States, Germany, England, and France did. It has kept basic utilities, basic needs, housing, and above all, finance and banking, in the public domain, as public utilities.

Instead of having an independent financial sector operating on its own self-interest, the Bank of China creates the money. And the Bank of China lends money by deciding, where do we need to have investment in real estate to provide housing for the population at as low a price as we can make it? How do we build up the industry? How do we provide an educational system with training? How do we provide health?

And the fact is that the central planning in an efficient socialist style, not the Stalinist planning that everybody refers to of Russia, but a mixed economy as you have in China, which is truly a mixed economy, with guidance, like the French planification.

Well, that is obviously the way in which you survive and you avoid the kind of overloading the economy with debt service, with high rents, with high payments to the health-care monopoly in the United States, by avoiding all of this payment to a rentier class that has what the classical economists call unearned income, predatory income.

And instead of unseating them, we’ve put them in charge, and made the banks and Wall Street, and the city of London, and the Paris Bourse, the central planners.

So we do have central planning much more centralized than anything that was dreamed by the socialists. But the planning, the centralized planning is done by the financial sector.

And financial planning is short-termism; it’s short-term planning; it’s take your money and run. And that’s what is stripping and impoverishing the global economy today.

BENJAMIN NORTON: Absolutely. And, in your book, you write about the important distinction between the classical economic idea of a so-called free market, and how, you argue that, neoliberals turn that idea on its head.

So this is what you write in your book. And this is, again, Michael Hudson’s new book, “The Destiny of Civilization,” which is out this week. You write:

“The neoliberal ideology inverts the classical idea of a free market from one that is free from economic rent to one that is free for the rentier classes” – that is the rent-extracting classes – “to extract rent and gain dominance.”

So they they completely flip the idea of what it means to have a free market.

And then you note that, “in contrast to classical political economy, this neoliberal ideology promotes tax favoritism for rentiers, privatization, financialization, and deregulation.” And you discuss all of that.

That is, of course, what we could call the Washington consensus.

And then you argue that “U.S. foreign policy seeks to extend this neoliberal rentier program throughout the world.”

And you have a very interesting section of your book where you discuss this concept as “free-trade imperialism.”

So can you talk about what your idea of “free-trade imperialism” is and how it relates to U.S. foreign policy?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, the Nobel Prize is given basically for junk economics. And probably the worst junk economist of the century was Paul Samuelson.

He made the absurd claim that he proved mathematically that, if you have free trade then, and don’t have tariffs, and don’t have any government protection, then everyone will become more equal. At least the proportions between labor and capital will be more equal. Well, the reality is just the opposite.

And the term “free-trade imperialism” was actually created by a British historian of trade theory who pointed out that, wait a minute, when England went for free trade, the idea was, if we have free trade, we can stifle other countries from being able to industrialize, because if we have free trade, then we can tell America, we will open our doors to your markets – meaning the markets of the slave South, that Britain supported – and in exchange, you will open your markets to our industrial goods.

And America followed that until the Civil War, which was fought not only over slavery, but by the Republican Party after 1853 that said very explicitly, if we’re going to win the election – the Whigs never could win – if we, the new party, are going to win the election and industrialize America, we’ve got to integrate ourselves with the anti-slavery issue, with emancipation, but for us, the economic war of America is a war of, either we’re going to have protective tariffs in the North, or we’re going to end up as a non-industrial, raw materials-producing society, as the South wants.

And that was the debate from 1815, when the Napoleonic wars ended and world trade began again, until really the Civil War.

And America became strong in the way that Germany became strong too, by having protective tariffs, in order to have prices large enough to nurture what was called infant industry, to nurture American manufacturing.

And I wrote a long book about this, published some years ago based on my PhD dissertation, “America’s Protectionist Takeoff.”

Well, the English tried to fight against other countries protecting their economy, saying that if you just have free trade, you’ll get rich. Whereas the reality is, if we have free trade, you’ll get poor, if you’re not already able to have industrial and labor productivity and agricultural productivity on par with the most advanced countries.

Free trade was an attempt to prevent other countries from investing government money and building up their agriculture, and building up their industry, and building up their productivity, and creating a school system, to raise wages, to make wages more productive.

And the American protectionists said, well, we’re going to have a high-wage economy because high-wage labor undersells pauper labor. And skilled, well-fed, well-rested American labor can produce much more than the pauper labor of other countries that have free trade.

Well, what the leading American protectionist economist, Erasmus Peshine Smith, went to Japan and helped industrial help Japan break away from British free trade, helped Japan industrialize.

And other American economists, other foreign economists, all picked up the ideas of the American protectionist, like Friedrich List went to Germany promoting protectionism.

And Peshine Smith’s book, “The Manual of Political Economy,” was translated into all the foreign languages – Japanese, Italian, French, German.

And you had Europe realizing that free trade polarizes economies. Well, it was this that after World War One, and especially World War Two, when you had orthodox economics turning into basically propaganda.

That’s where you and Samuelson and others try to convince other countries, governments are bad, leave everything to the wealthy people, to the finance people, trickle-down economies, it’s all going to trickle down, don’t worry, just give more money to the rich, and don’t have any government interference with markets.

Whereas America had got rich by interfering with markets, to shape them in the years leading up to World War One.

But after World War One, America had already achieved its industrial dominance. And it was after World War One that America said, ok, now our protective tariffs have enabled us to outproduce all the other countries, and our protectionist agriculture especially – the most protected sector in America, has always been agriculture, since the 1930s.

Basically it said, well, now we can outproduce other countries, we can undersell them, now we can tell them to go for free trade.

And after World War Two, the Americans created the World Bank for economic impoverishment, and the International Monetary Austerity Fund.

And the World Bank’s leading objective was to prevent other countries from investing in their own food production.

The guiding line of the World Bank was, we’ve got to provide infrastructure for building up plantation agriculture in Latin America, and Africa, and other countries, so that they will grow tropical export crops, but they cannot be permitted to grow grain or wheat to feed themselves; they must be dependent on the United States.

And so the function of free trade, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund has been to finance dependency, backed up by the American support of dictatorships throughout Latin America who agree to have client oligarchies supporting pro-American trade patterns and avoiding any kind of self-reliance, so that the United States can do what it has recently done to Russia and other countries, impose sanctions – say, well, now that you depended on us for your grain, we can now impose sanctions, and you can’t feed yourself if you don’t follow the policies we want.

That was the policy that America tried to use against China after Mao’s revolution. And fortunately for China, Canada broke that monopoly, and said, well, we’re going to sell grain to China. And China was always very friendly to Canada in those earlier decades.

So basically, free trade means no government, no socialism. It means central planning essentially by Wall Street – countries should let American firms come in, buy control of their raw materials, resources, control of their oil and gas, and mineral rights, and forests and plantations, and basically let other countries send their whole economic surplus to the United States, where it will be duly financialized to buy out other countries’ raw materials and rent yielding resources.

BENJAMIN NORTON: Yeah, and in your book, you have a very funny passage that I think really encapsulates this ideology that you’re talking about here.

You referred to Charles Wilson, who was the secretary of defense under Eisenhower in the U.S., and he was also the former CEO of General Motors.

And he famously said, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” And that idea has morphed into the idea that, “What’s good for Wall Street is good for America.”

And then you note that “this merged with evangelistic U.S. foreign policy that says ‘What’s good for America is good for the world.’ And therefore the logical syllogism is clear: ‘What’s good for Wall Street is good for the world.’”

And you describe this, you link it to the new cold war, this idea that what’s good for the U.S. is good for the world and what’s good for Wall Street is good for the U.S., therefore, what’s good for Wall Street is good for the world.

You argue, “We must recognize how finance capitalism has gained power over industrial economies, above all in the United States, from which it seeks to project itself globally, led by the financialized U.S. economy. Today’s new Cold War is a fight to impose rentier-based finance capitalism on the entire world.”

And this is such an important analysis. Because among those very few people of us who talk about this idea of the new cold war and how dangerous it is, there are very few people who frame it in economic terms.

Usually we frame it in political terms, right, the geopolitical interests between the US and the EU on one side, and China and Russia on the other.

And going back to Brzezinski and The Grand Chessboard, his 1997 book, where he talks about the importance of preventing near strategic competitors from emerging in Eurasia. That’s of course a geopolitical discussion and economics is part of it, but it’s often not at the forefront.

But your analysis I think is even more important, and more accurate, because your argument is not only is it geopolitical, but the geopolitical struggle is rooted in economics. And this is an economic struggle between systems.

So talk talk more about the new cold war and how you see it.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, as we’re seeing now, the world is dividing into two parts. We can see that in the fight against Russia, which is also a fight against China, and against India, as you noted. And it seems Indonesia and other countries as well.

The United States is pushing a world that can be controlled by American investors. The ideal of the American neoliberal plan is to do to other countries what it did to Russia after 1991: take all of your public domain, your oil companies, your nickel mines, your electric utilities, give them all to the wealthy oligarchy, that can only make money once it’s taken control of these companies, by selling the stocks to the West.

The West will buy out oil, just like Mikhail Khodorkovsky tried to sell Yukos oil to Standard Oil in the West. And we’ve got to put an oligarchy that will sell all of the national domain, all of the patrimony and natural resources, and all the companies, to American investors on the cheap.

The Russian stock market led all the stock markets in the world from 1994 up to about 1998. This was a huge rip off. The United States wants to be able to do that to the rest of the world.

And it was furious when Russia said, we’ve lost more population as a result of neoliberalism than we did in all of World War Two fighting against Nazism. We’ve got to stop.

And Russia began to say, we’ve got to use Russia’s population, and industry, and natural resources for Russia’s benefit, not for the United States’ benefit.

Well, the United States was absolutely furious with this. And the fury has erupted in the NATO war against Russia in the last few months, and what’s ongoing now.

And the United States says, U.S. State Department officials have said, what we want to do is carve up Russia into maybe four different countries: Siberia, western Russia, southern Russia or Central Asia, maybe northern Russia.

And once we’ve done that, we cut Russia off from China, then we go into China. We finance, we send ISIS and al-Qaeda into the Uyghur areas, the Muslim areas, and we start a color revolution there. And then we break up China, into a northern part, a southern part, a central part.

And once we break them up, we can more or less control them. And we can then come in, buy up their resources, and take over their industry, their labor, and their government, and get richer to obtain from China, Russia, India, Indonesia, and Iran the wealth that we’re no longer producing in the United States, now that we de-industrialized.

So the world is dividing into two parts. And it’s not simply the United States and its European satellites on the one hand versus the non-white population on the other hand; it’s finance capitalism versus the rest of the world, which is protecting itself by socialism, which in many ways fulfills what was the ideal of industrial capitalism during the 19th century, when industrial capitalism was actually progressive.

And it was progressive. That’s part of the whole theme of my book. It was revolutionary. It tried to free economies from the legacy of feudalism, from the legacy of hereditary landlords.

And now the financial class is no longer the landlord class, but the landlord class pays most of its rent to the financial class in the form of mortgage interest, as it borrows money to buy property and housing and commercial sites on credit.

And you have the kind of financialization that has increased housing prices in the United States to over 40% of income, that is officially guaranteed for mortgages. That has priced American labor out of the market.

Privatized health care, 18% of GDP, that is pricing America out of the world market. Debt, auto debt, student debt, which in other countries education is free; that’s pricing America out of the market.

So you have a basically un-competitive economy that’s committing financial suicide, following the same dynamic that destroyed the Roman empire, where a predatory oligarchy took over and maintained power by an assassination policy of its critics, just very similar to what America has been doing in Latin America and other countries.

So you’re having history repeat itself with this same kind of world split. And this split couldn’t have occurred back in the 1970s, with the Bandung Conference in Indonesia. There were other attempts by the Non-Aligned nations to break free of American imperialism, but they didn’t have a critical mass.

So right now, for the first time, you have a critical mass. And you have the ability of China, Iran, Russia, India, other countries together to be self-sufficient. They don’t need relations with the United States.

They can handle their own; they can create their own monetary system outside of the International Monetary Fund, which is basically an arm of the Defense Department. They can give loans to build up the infrastructure of countries outside of the World Bank, which is basically an arm of the Defense Department, the deep state.

So you have the American economy – essentially a merger between the military-industrial complex and the Wall Street FIRE sector, finance, insurance, and real estate – really cannot develop any more than the Roman Empire could develop, by trying to obtain militarily what it could not produce at home anymore.

Well, China and other countries, now that they have their industrial base, the raw materials, the food, the ability to feed themselves, the agriculture, and the technology, they can go their own way.

And so we’re seeing in the last few months the beginning of a war that is going to go on for, I think, 20 years, maybe 30 or 40 years. The world is splitting away.

And it won’t be a pretty sight, because the United States and its European satellites are trying to fight to prevent an inevitable break away they cannot prevent, any more than Europe’s landlord class could prevent industrial capitalism from developing in the 19th century.

BENJAMIN NORTON: Yeah, and this is a good segue to what I wanted to ask you about, Professor Hudson, which is the economic war on Russia.

And I should say, of course, that today is May 9th. Today is Victory Day in Russia, celebrating the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two. Not the US and British victory over Nazi Germany, the Soviet victory, in which 27 million Soviets died.

And actually I should say that, here on YouTube, in the comment section, there are some Russians who are your fans, Professor Hudson, saying they’re thanking you for your cogent analysis of Russia.

But on the subject of Russia, Professor Hudson, we now have seen that since Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine on February 24th, we saw really what could be referred to as financial shock-and-awe. That’s a term that’s been used.

Just as when the U.S. invaded Iraq, it waged a military shock-and-awe campaign on Iraq. Well, now it is waging economic or financial shock-and-awe on Russia.

And Russia has been referred to as the most heavily sanctioned country in history. Which I think is probably accurate, although maybe the DPRK, maybe North Korea, is more sanctioned. But I mean we’re talking about levels of sanctions not seen against a country of this size ever.

And you can also refer to it as the contemporary equivalent of medieval siege warfare against Russia.

Joe Biden, in a speech in Poland, made it clear what Washington’s goal is: it’s regime change. The U.S. wants to overthrow the Russian government, as it did in the Soviet Union in 1991, and clearly install a a pliant alcoholic neoliberal puppet like Boris Yeltsin.

So can you talk about, from an economic perspective, what do you see as the effects of this economic war on Russia?

And specifically in terms of the concept of decoupling, which you have talked about for years, and you have said that the Western sanctions on Russia and China were accelerating that process of decoupling. And this was before the financial shock-and-awe we’ve seen.

So you talked about a move away from this neoliberal globalization where everything is interconnected, or at least capital is interconnected globally, to the creation of a kind of, what you could say is kind of an economic iron curtain.

But how do you see that also in terms of integrating the Eurasian economies more deeply?

And also what is the effect on the European economies, which my impression is that Europe is going to become what you call an economic dead zone, more and more reliant on the U.S., whereas Russia, China, and Iran, and even potentially India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia – we’re seeing much more economic integration of Asia, which is, of course, where the majority of humanity lives.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well you have used the words shock-and-awe, picking it up from the U.S. statements of shock-and-awe. There hasn’t been any shock-and-awe; there’s been a self-defeating piffle, and laughter.

That’s not all. There was an attempt to grab $300 billion of Russia’s foreign reserves, saying, well, any country that leaves their reserves in American banks or in the American Monetary Fund to stabilize their currency, we can grab if we don’t like their policy.

So the idea was, now Russia is going to go broke. It can’t afford to buy anything without U.S. dollars. And the people are going to get so angry, they’re going to vote against Putin. And then we can pour in our money to twerps like Navalny and other right-wingers who have promised to be the new Yeltsins.

Well, it didn’t work that way. They did grab the $300 billion of Russia’s reserves. Russia immediately said, ok, we have our own money. We now, fortunately, have enough oil and gas that we don’t have to sell to Europe and Germany. If they want to freeze in the dark and let their pipes burst when the weather gets cold, that’s their problem. We’ll sell to India, and China, and other countries.

And there was, for a few days, the ruble plunged, by saying, uh oh, what is Russia going to do? So all the foreign exchange traders thought, you can trust Biden to have a really brilliant policies.

I think Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winner, said Biden is the greatest American president since Roosevelt, or since Truman, that he was so smart. Well, that’s why Krugman got the Nobel Prize, for making statements like that.

So immediately Russia said, well, obviously we can’t get paid in dollars anymore, or in euros, because, you’ll just grab them, so you’ll have to buy oil and gas in rubles. We’re going to price it in our own currency. Just like China had talked about pricing its exports in yuan.

And so what has happened is that immediately the ruble not only recovered, but is now selling at a higher rate than it was before the American sanctions. So there was no shock at all. The Americans felt shock.

The Americans are shocked. The Americans are awed. The Russians are laughing and everything is going their way.

So it’s almost as if – I would not accuse Biden of being on the pay of Russia, and I would not say that the leaders of Congress are the Russian agents, but if they were Russian agents, if they were paid by Russia, they could not have done a better job of helping Russia catalyzing its protectionism that it wouldn’t do itself.

The fact is that President Putin and many of the people around him still were neoliberals. I mean, they began as neoliberals, in the ’90s.

They began by hoping that they could make an arrangement with Germany and Europe, that Europe would develop their industry and make Russia as efficient an economy as Germany or the United States. Well, obviously that hasn’t happened.

All the same, they didn’t think of imposing protective tariffs as the United States did. They didn’t protect their agriculture. They bought grain, and cheese, and other agricultural products from the Baltics, and from other countries.

Well, now that, once the Americans put on the sanctions, beginning already under the Trump administration, all of a sudden Russia had to produce its own food.

And it did. It made the investment. It is now the largest agricultural exporter in the world, not a food-deficit country. It’s not importing any more cheese from Lithuania and the Baltics. It has its own cheese segment.

And the sanctions are forcing Russia to do exactly what the United States, Germany, and other protectionist countries did in the 19th century, developing their own industry by isolating it from low-priced foreign imports that would be priced so low that the Russians otherwise could not afford to make the investment in factories, plants, equipment, research, and development.

So what the United States has done is actually catalyze Russia moving together.

And also, for three or four years, I have been talking with Russians, and with the Chinese, and other countries about the need to de-dollarize. If you want to develop your own economy, you have to develop your economy in your own interest with public spending and planning, independent from the United States.

Well, now everybody thought that, well, in a few years it may take a decade for China, Russia, Iran, all these countries to break away from the U.S. But America said, we’re going to help you, we’re going to speed up the breakaway process. We’re going to isolate you. So you’ve got to band together against us.

So that’s exactly what it has done. You can just imagine how the Russians are crying all the way to the bank about this.

And how China is watching what the Americans are doing to Russia, and listening to President Biden saying, you know, Russia is not our real enemy, our real enemy of China. And when we’re finished with Russia, then we’re going to go against China and do the same thing to it.

Well you can imagine what this is leading the Chinese government to try to plan to be sufficiently independent from the United States, so that similar type sanctions will not hurt it.

And President Xi in the last few weeks has said we’ve got to make China as independent as possible. We’ve got to make our own computer chips. We’ve got to not depend on the United States for anything, except maybe Walt Disney movies. That’s basically about it.

So it’s as if – you know, I had mentioned earlier that finance lives in the short term. American policy, being financial policy, lives in the short term. And it’s looking at if it can make a quick, a quick victory, and forget about what’s going to happen next.

I’m told that, years ago, already from the war with Iran, and then Iraq and Syria, in the State Department, if there were Arab specialists who spoke Arabic, they were all fired. Because they said, well, if you can speak Arabic, you must’ve learned Arabic because you’re sympathetic with them. You’re fired. We won’t have anyone who can read Arabic here.

Well, now in the last decade or so, they fired all the Russia specialists from the the State Department and CIA, saying, well, if you can read Russian, why would you want to learn Russian? You must like something in Russia. You wanted to learn it. You’re fired.

So they have people who have no idea of what’s happening in Russia, no idea what’s happening in these other countries. And they’re blinded by their ideology.

And if anyone would say, wait a minute now, public planning and making education a public utility is actually making them more competitive, well, that’s against the ideology. That’s not the corporate type.

And they’re taught, well, we really can’t trust people, maybe they’re tending toward socialism, and they’re out the door.

So you’re having American policy pretty much run by the blind, and the Europeans are simply taking orders, and money in little white envelopes from the United States, to just show their loyalty, and basically are willing to spend three to seven times as much for their energy, for their liquefied natural gas and oil, by buying from the United States, than they are by a long-term contract with Russia.

Europe is willing to spend now $5 trillion on putting together ports that can handle shipping tankers for liquefied natural gas instead of relying on the Russian pipeline, the Nord Stream Two, that’s already there.

So Europe is making an enormous sacrifice. If it doesn’t have Russian gas, and it refuses to pay rubles, it says, if you don’t give us our gas and oil for free, you’re attacking us, because we’ve been getting all of your oil and gas for free, because all the dollars, all the money we pay, you’ve recycled to the United States in your foreign reserves. Thank heavens, the U.S. can grab it all. If you don’t continue to give it to us for free, then you’re attacking us.

To the United States, other countries protecting their economy, other countries trying to raise their living standards, and especially other countries undertaking land reform, are viewed as enemies of the United States, because they’re an enemy of the neoliberal American financial system.

And the idea of the unipolar world where the United States gets all of the profits, and rents, and interests of the world economy, just as ancient Rome stripped its provinces by getting all of their wealth and income for themselves, not producing it at home, while impoverishing their own domestic population. It’s just an exact parallel.

So Europe is willing to say, well, ok, if we don’t have a Russian gas, well, that means that our chemical companies cannot buy the gas to make the fertilizer to make our crops grow, and our agricultural productivity is going to fall by about 50%.

We’re also going to spend a lot more money on America’s military, NATO arms to support NATO. So higher food, higher military spending, higher energy costs.

This ends Europe as an industrial rival to Asia, and Eurasia, I should say, because now the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and other spending investment, capital investment, throughout Western Asia is creating a new productive plant that is not only self-sufficient, but is leaving the United States and Europe without any industrial competitive power. They’ve priced themselves out of the world market. They’re no longer competitive.

So the world is developing. And I’m sure the only way that the NATO countries can fight against it is militarily, by threatening to bomb. But they can’t fight economically. They can’t fight financially. They tried by disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT system. It put it in its own system very quickly.

It really is left without a strategy, except that it’s done a wonderful job of controlling the public relations dimension of this war, making it appear as if somehow other countries are the aggressors, in not letting America exploit them, and making it appear as if Russia is the aggressor in Ukraine, instead of NATO prodding and prodding Russia to say, we’re going to capture your port at Crimea, and we’re going to attack the Russian-speakers if you don’t fight back, and we’re going to keep bombing them year after year, from 2014 on, we’re going to keep bombing them until you protect them.

So all of this is treated as if America is purely defending itself. Well, this is what the Nazis said in World War Two. Hitler and Goebbels said, we can always mobilize a population to support our war by saying it’s a war to defend ourselves.

And that’s how the United States in Europe are doing it. Not only are they pulling a strategy out of Goebbels’ Nazi book, but a few weeks ago, Germany went to the museums, the military museums, where they had the old Panzer tanks from World War Two, and they sent the Panzer tanks, the Nazi tanks from World War II, to Ukraine, saying this is symbolic, now we can fight Russia with the same German Nazi tanks run by the neo-Nazi groups, that Zelensky is supporting, the same Nazi fight against Russia. We can reenact World War Two with the same tanks, even symbolically, to show that this is a fight of Naziism, and neoliberalism, against Eurasia.

BENJAMIN NORTON: We’ve also seen Germany not only re-militarizing, but also boosting its relations with Japan. There are some terrifying echoes of of World War Two.

But you mentioned something that I want to analyze a little bit more, which is the strength of the Russian ruble. I talked about the concept of financial shock-and-awe that was waged on Russia. And President Biden said, “the Russian ruble has become rubble,” he joked. He said the Russian ruble has become rubble.

Well, that’s actually not at all what happened. This is the value of the dollar to Russian rubles, right now [showing a graph]. Russian rubles are at 69 to the dollar. A few days ago, it was at 64, or 65 to the dollar, which is actually better than it was even before the Russian war in Ukraine, which began in February 24th.

And it did spike, and there was a peak here, at which it was devalued to 139 to the dollar, about half the value it has now. But in the months leading up to the Russian military intervention, in November and December, it was around 75 to the dollar.

So the ruble has actually strengthened despite these sanctions. And here’s a report from Reuters from five days ago, that was May 4th: the “Rouble leaps to over 2-year high vs dollar, euro as EU ups sanctions.” So the ruble is doing quite well.

And you talked about the Russian mechanism to force Europe to buy energy exports from Russia in the Russian ruble. And this graphic here, for people watching, it’s in Russian, but really it just shows this mechanism in which a European firm that wants to buy gas from Russia’s state owned gas giant Gazprom, it has to send the money in euros to the Gazprombank, which is the obviously the bank that works with Gazprom, and then it puts it in a special account in euros, and then that is sold in the Moscow exchange for Russian rubles.

And then those rubles are put in another special account, called a K account, that belongs to that European firm. It has two accounts, two special accounts with Gazprombank, one in euros, one in rubles. And then this special ruble account sends that money to Gazprom. And then once the money reaches Gazprom, that’s when Russia considers that the payment officially went through.

So this is the mechanism by which Russia is getting paid in rubles. And much of Europe claimed at first that they would not do so, but eventually they gave in. So that’s an incredible development.

And related to that, what I wanted to ask you about, is I think another reason that the Russian ruble has strengthened and stabilized is not only because Russia continues to maintain constant exports of energy to Europe and other parts of the world.

You can talk about the central bank policies. But one of the policies is that the Russian central bank has basically put the ruble on gold, which I think is a very interesting and historic development.

And we saw that from the beginning of April until the end of June, the Bank of Russia says that it’s going to buy gold at a fixed price of 5000 rubles per gram of gold. And then the question is whether or not in July, when this policy ends, if it’s going to continue, and if the ruble will basically become fixed, it become pegged to gold like the U.S. dollar was up until 1971.

So you don’t think it will be? So talk about this policy. Do you think that that the gold standard is going to come back? Or apparently you don’t think so.

MICHAEL HUDSON: No, Russia is not going on on the gold standard. What it is doing is investing, its foreign exchange in the only way that is not grabbable. It’s investing it in gold; it’s putting gold in its reserves.

It is not setting its exchange rate according to the price of gold, but it is buying gold with what it has been getting.

I want to go back to your talk about rubble. You talked about, “from ruble to rubble,” what President Biden said.

There have been a lot of pictures of rubble in the news for the last few days. For instance, there are talks of, here’s a Ukrainian picture, and look at this picture of a Russian tank, we shot it down, it’s rubble. Turns out it’s a Ukrainian tank, that they just say it was the Russian tank we shot down.

So basically, they’re taking their own destruction, and they’re saying that, while they’re being destroyed, they’re saying, no, this is a picture of Russia being destroyed, Russian assets, not Ukrainian assets being destroyed.

Well, the similar thing is with the Russian ruble. America says, look, we’ve isolated the the ruble. Well, what has happened? If you isolate the ruble and you say we’re not going to export anything more to Russia, so it’s not going to be able to spend any of its rubles on buying American or European products.

Well, meanwhile, Russia can continue to earn rubles from Germany and Europe, and it can continue to earn foreign exchange from other countries that it’s selling its agriculture to at rising prices, its oil and gas at rising prices, too. So obviously, the balance of payments is going way up.

And they believe that what is in store is a new monetary system that is an alternative to the dollar IMF system.

And in this system other countries will hold their reserves in each other’s currencies. In other words, Russia will hold Indian rupees and Chinese yuan. China will hold rupees and Russian rubles.

There will be the equivalent of what Keynes thought of as something like artificial special drawing rights that the banks will be able to create to help fund governments to undertake capital investment.

But for settlements settling balance of payments deficits among countries, once they don’t have enough foreign exchange to make a swap, they will use gold as the means of settlement, because gold is a pure asset. It’s not a liability.

Any foreign currency basically is held in a foreign country that has the power to do what America did to Russia and just grab it all, and say, we’re just wiping it all out.

It’s as if you have a bank account, and the bank says, we’ve just emptied out your account to give it to one of our friends, and you don’t have it anymore. You can’t do that if gold is held in your own country.

Venezuela made the problem of keeping its gold in England, trusting England, saying that, even if there is war, they’ll never interrupt gold and finance. And England just grabbed Venezuela’s gold.

So, obviously, countries are not going to leave their gold in other countries. Even little Germany has asked America to begin sending back the gold that it has in the Federal Reserve Bank of America because it’s worried that what if it ever buys Russian gas again? America will grab all of Germany’s gold, grab all the German money, and it’ll be like World War One all over again.

So this act that America did of grabbing Russian money, Afghanistan’s foreign reserves it grabbed, this is telling all the other countries, pull all your money out of dollars. What are they going to put it in? There’s not that much they can put it in that it is absolutely safe.

So gold is a flight to safety today, because it’s one of the things that all of the world realizes as having an international value for settling balance of payments deficits, that is independent of world politics.

So that’s the explanation. Russia is not going on gold. It’s going on an independent standard from the United States with gold as an element of its foreign reserve, just as it’s holding Chinese yuan and Indian rupees.

It’s not going on the rupee standard. It’s not going on the yuan standard. And it’s not going on the gold standard. But these are elements of its foreign reserves.

BENJAMIN NORTON: I have a question for you. It’s kind of a more technical question that I’ve always wondered. And I’ve tried to do research on this, because there’s not much information.

So we know that that the U.S. and European Union have frozen over $300 billion from Russia’s central bank foreign exchange reserves. And of course they did this after doing the same to Iran, to Venezuela, to Afghanistan, which is now threatening a famine in Afghanistan that could kill more people than died in the 20-year NATO-U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan, which is another topic that really needs to get more coverage.

And I should add, by the way, that the US and the EU, they’ve frozen nearly half of Russia’s central bank’s foreign exchange reserves, and are now saying they’re not going to give it back. So they stole it. I mean, they stole half of its reserves.

My question is, what is the mechanism by which they effectively freeze and steal those reserves?

Because my understanding is that there is of course a physical element of those reserves, which you’re talking about, which is gold. But not all of the $640 billion in Russia’s central bank reserves is physical currency, right? A lot of it is just computerized? It’s number in computers and bank accounts.

So when when the U.S. and the EU steal this money from central banks like in Russia or Afghanistan – obviously in the case of Venezuela, as you mentioned, they physically stole the gold. But if it’s not gold, is it physical cash stored in Moscow, like physical dollars and euros? Or it’s mostly just numbers in a computer, which is why they can steal it?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Every country needs to manage its exchange rates, and there’s always like an up-and-down and a zigzag in the flow of payments for imports and exports, investment, capital movements, debt service, all of that.

So countries want to stabilize their exchange rate. How do they do that? Well, most of the big exchange markets are in New York and in London.

So countries would leave their money in correspondent banks. Like when Iran, at the time under the shah, kept that foreign reserve in the Chase Manhattan Bank. So when Iran, after the revolution and Khomeini came in, and Iran wanted to pay interest on the foreign debt that the shah had run up, they told Chase, please, here’s our bondholders, please pay them.

Well Chase was told by the Treasury, don’t pay them, just take the money and hold it. So Chase said, we put a freeze on your account. And so Iran defaulted, and then Chase and the State Department said, oh, Iran defaulted, it missed the payment. Now, all the money that it’s due for foreign debt has to be paid all at once. And Chase paid all of the bondholders off. No more money in the account. It was all emptied out.

Suppose you had an account in Chase Manhattan. And they said, ok, now you’ve done something really bad, you put Michael Hudson on the show. We’re going to grab your account. We’re going to give it to Mr. Guaidó, because he needs the money in Venezuela because the people still are not voting for him. So all of a sudden, you won’t have money in your account. It’ll go to Mr. Guaidó’s account.

Well, that’s what happened with Russia. They took the money. They grabbed the money from Russia’s account. And they said, half the money we’re going to give to, I think, to the 9/11 people, because we all know that it was Russia that bombed the World Trade Center on 9/11.

And we’re going to give it to all sorts of other people who suffered all over the world. It’s all Russia’s fault.

BENJAMIN NORTON: But Professor Hudson, when you say that they seized Russia’s assets, you mean the assets held by the Russian central bank in foreign bank accounts?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Yes, yes.

BENJAMIN NORTON: And these are not physical assets, these are numbers in a computer, right?

MICHAEL HUDSON: In Venezuela’s case, Venezuela had used some of its oil company earnings to buy oil stations and refining companies and the United States actually grabbed the ownership of the gas stations and the refineries and distribution system that Venezuela had in America.

BENJAMIN NORTON: It’s called Citgo.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Citgo, yeah. Russia doesn’t really have any capital investments in the United States. It did have bank accounts, and that was all that the United States could grab.

BENJAMIN NORTON: So when you say that, when Russia, at least for now, the central bank is allowing convertibility of rubles at a set rate into gold, that’s a temporary policy to make sure that they have a physical asset that their central bank can hold on to, because if they have dollars or euros in their reserves, my understanding is that’s not physical cash, it’s actually just numbers in a computer, so they don’t have it physically in their bank reserves, so it’s easy to steal that money.

Obviously, if they had billions of dollars worth of cash, of paper cash, it would be much harder to steal it, but if it’s just on a bank account, if it’s numbers in a computer, then they can just freeze it.

So I think this is also a reflection of a point that you’ve also made about the financialization of the economy, is it’s also just a lot of this capital is not even physical capital.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Yes. Savings take the form – one person’s savings is another person’s debt. So these are Russia’s deposits in American banks that it used to buy or sell rubles, or to buy goods from America, or to receive payments in, if Russia exports something such as oil. Americans buyers of Russian oil would put the money into the Russian bank account.

They never dreamed that this would be grabbed. But now Russia says, ok, you’ve grabbed our money, now that means that we get to grab all of your assets in Russia. This is great! All of your stock holdings in nickel, and Yukos, and all these other companies, ok, you’ve got the money, we have the assets, look at us as just buying the assets on the cheap.

And the Western investors in Russia have all been selling their Russian assets to show that they’re good American citizens in NATO, and the Russians are buying up these European and American assets on the cheap, largely by borrowing money from the banks, that get the money from the central bank, now that they’re so wealthy, and all of the foreign exchange reserves is a result of the American shock-and-awe statement, that’s sort of shock-and-awe in reverse.

So Russia is coming through just fine. And you can imagine how the American strategists are gnashing the teeth. They don’t understand how Russia was able to avoid being bankrupted by this.

They really are not economists. They’re not really financiers. They’re foreign-policy strategists. They’re ideologues that are not very well educated in how to think about the future and how to recognize the fact that the world can actually change from what it is today into something else. And sometimes that change is not in America’s interests. That is sort of not a permitted thought over here.

So essentially, Americans and Europe are operating in the blind, and Russia and China, and Iran, and India, are all looking at how are we going to restructure the world so that we come out of it more prosperous than we were before, not more impoverished. That’s really what the world is dividing into.

BENJAMIN NORTON: Professor Hudson, I don’t know if this is directly related, but it’s it’s something that’s always been a very curious question in my mind.

Germany, back in 2016 and 2017, it moved, physically moved, its central bank’s gold reserves, which had been stored in New York, London, and Paris, and it physically moved those reserves, those gold reserves, to Frankfurt.

Now this was before the U.S. and Britain stole Venezuela’s gold reserves and other reserves. But do you know anything about what motivated Germany’s central bank to move the physical location of its gold reserves into Germany itself?

MICHAEL HUDSON: I don’t think it’s all moved yet. It’s still going on. Gold is very heavy, as heavy has lead, basically. And America said, well, we can only do a little bit, trickle by trickle. So America has been returning the gold very slowly.

So I think Germany, with all of its history of hyper inflation, I think just realizes that, now that gold is not used to settle balance of payments deficits anymore – the gold that Germany had in America was all of the exports that it made to the United States during the Vietnam War. This is Vietnam War gold.

You remember that President de Gaulle would every month cash in, the dollars that America spent in Vietnam would all be spent from Vietnam to Paris, the dollars would end up there, the central bank of Paris would essentially buy gold on the London exchange and keep the gold either in New York or in London.

Well, Germany, because America defeated Germany, and it wasn’t going to keep its gold in Russia, that defeated it even more, it said, well, ok, we’re cashing in our surplus dollars for gold, but we’re going to hold the gold in America.

But now it says, well, America is never going to settle its balance of payments deficits and its foreign debt in gold again, because it doesn’t have any balance of payments surplus, any ability to do that.

It’s going to spend its export surplus and its investment surplus on war. So it’s never going to be able to pay. That’s obvious. Let’s get the gold back.

That was the calculation that every country was making already a decade ago. They realized that America can never repay its foreign debt, unlike other countries.

When other countries can’t pay their foreign debt, they have to go to the International Monetary Fund, that tells them, well, we’ll make you a loan, but you have to sell off your natural resource reserves to the Americans, or we won’t lend you the money.

Well, basically, that’s not going to happen anymore. They realized that America is just going to say, haha, we’re just not going to pay.

Well, now other countries are saying, wait a minute, if America’s never going to repay its foreign debt, why do the Global South countries have to pay their debt to the IMF and the World Bank, all this dollar debt to dollar bondholders?

If America won’t pay, we don’t have to pay. Let’s have a clean slate. Let’s start from the beginning. And we’re only going to have debt and credit relations with friendly countries, not countries that want to go to war with us like America did in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and now Russia.

So that’s basically what’s happening.

BENJAMIN NORTON: Great. And just to wrap up here, I have another question. And I know your time is limited, so I really appreciate you being here.

I have a quick question about the decline in U.S. dollar hegemony. We were talking about the strength of the ruble, the economic war on Russia; we talked about the bilateral trade that’s growing between Russia and China using the Chinese yuan, between Russia and India using the Indian rupee. And Iran also is talking about doing business with a basket of currencies.

I want to point to a report that was recently published by economists who work with the IMF. And I published an article about this over at Multipolarista.com, “IMF admits US dollar hegemony declining due to rise of Chinese yuan and sanctions on Russia.”

And there is this report that was published by the IMF, by these economists, and I cite you, Professor Hudson, in this report. It’s a working paper from the IMF, published in March, titled “The Stealth Erosion of Dollar Dominance.”

And here’s a graph, for people watching, here’s a graph from the report. And it shows not a large, but a noticeable and consistent decline in the use of the holding of the U.S. dollar in the foreign exchange reserves of central banks around the world. So this is around the world.

And it has declined in the past years from about 70% of central bank exchange reserves to about 60%. So a 10% decline. That’s not massive, but it’s steady and I think it’s going to accelerate.

And at the same time they’ve also found an increase in the use of what they call “non-traditional currencies” in the foreign exchange reserves of central banks around the world.

And here you can see this graph. I mean it looks like a significant influence because if you look at the y-axis it’s only from 90 to 100. But there is a significant increase in the use of other currencies in foreign exchange reserves, aside from the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen, and the British pound. And the currency that is increasingly popular is the Chinese yuan.

So that’s one half of my question. The other half is about this interesting report that was published in the Financial Times, and it’s titled “Russia Sanctions Threaten to Erode Dominance of Dollar, says IMF.”

And the FT interviewed the IMF’s first deputy managing director, Gita Gopinath, who acknowledged that the sanctions imposed on Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine could lead to what she says “fragmentation at a smaller level.”

And she did say that the dollar is eroding influence, but “would remain the major global currency.”

So, that’s a two part question. I’m wondering if you could talk about the decline in U.S. dollar hegemony and how the sanctions will potentially erode that. And then the other half of the question is, can you comment on the declining use of dollars in foreign exchange reserves?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, this is what my book “Super Imperialism” was all about. When I first published it in 1972, I could see how the whole thing was unfolding for the next 50 years. And we just published last year a third edition of it, bringing it up to date.

Dollar hegemony means America’s entire balance of payments deficit in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s was military. So the dollars that were being pumped into the world economy were the result of military spending.

But the dollars would end up in foreign central banks, especially from Asia to France, Germany, others. What were they going to do with it? Well after 1971 they could not buy gold anymore, so all they could do was buy U.S. Treasury securities. IOUs.

And so they re-lent to the Treasury all the money that America was spending militarily. And the more money America spent in waging its cold war militarily against the world, the more money central banks would lend to the U.S. government to finance the U.S. deficit that was spent largely on the military-industrial complex and foreign military operations.

So dollar hegemony was a free lunch financing America’s almost 800 military bases across the world, to fight against communism, defined as any country that doesn’t let American industry and finance buy control of its raw materials, agriculture, resources.

And this has now come to an end. Right now America has grabbed Afghanistan’s, and Russia’s gold. All of a sudden it’s obvious that, this summer, there’s going to be an enormous squeeze on Third World countries, on the Global South.

Their energy prices are going to go way up, and that’s going to hurt them just like the oil shock of 1974 and 1975 did.

They’re going to have to pay higher food costs, because of food prices are going to go way up now that the Ukraine war is erupting.

And a lot of their foreign debt, dollarized debt service, is coming due. And they’re facing a choice: if they pay the foreign debt, they can’t afford to buy the oil and energy that they need to run their factories and heat their homes. They can’t afford to buy the food to feed their people. Whose interests are they going to put first?

Well of course their leaders are going to put America’s interests first, and their own interests second, because their leaders, if they’re a client oligarchy, are put in power by the U.S. military, as sort of miniature Pinochets, throughout Latin America and other countries.

So suppose other countries decide, well, we’re going to feed ourselves and we’re not going to wreck our economy just to pay foreign bondholders. We’re a sovereign country. We’re going to put our national interests first.

Well, then the United States can say, aha, we’re going to grab all of your foreign assets in the United States.

Well, other countries can say, oh, they’re going to do to us just what they did to Afghanistan and Russia. Let’s move our money out of the United States quickly. If we don’t have dollars, well, it’s true, we can’t pay our dollar bondholders, but at least we can, in international markets, we can buy the food and the energy we need.

And so the tensions, the disruption of world prices, and inflation, and trade that is a result of the NATO attack on Russia, now threatens to drive all of the southern hemisphere countries into an alliance with Russia, China, India, and all the rest.

So America basically is creating a new Berlin Wall, but the wall is isolating itself from other countries, and driving other countries all together into what I hope will be a happy, self-sufficient, non-U.S. globalized economy.

BENJAMIN NORTON: Well, I want to thank you, Professor Michael Hudson. It’s always a real pleasure having you. I know you’re very busy, so thank you for giving us so much of your time.

I’ll say that the comment section here on YouTube has been very vibrant, with some interesting conversation. And what’s nice is there are people from all over the world, from the U.S., Latin America, Europe, and from Russia. So it’s good to see a mix of people.

And for anyone who wants to listen to this, you can check out the podcast version if you look up Multipolarista on Spotify, and iTunes, and all the other podcast platforms.

And I’ll just say, while I wrap up here, that today we were talking about, at the beginning of this discussion, a new book that Michael Hudson is publishing this week. It is called “The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism, or Socialism.”

It’s a very good book. I had the privilege of getting a review copy early. So definitely check out that book.

You can also find all of Professor Hudson’s writings at michael-hudson.com.

Thanks, Professor Hudson.

MICHAEL HUDSON: It’s really good to be here. It was a good discussion.

محور المقاومة وأوكرانيا والحرب العالمية الهجينة

الثلاثاء 5 نيسان 2022

 عمرو علان 

لقد بات جليّاً، كون المعركة في أوكرانيا جزءاً من حربٍ أميركيةٍ روسيةٍ أشمل، أن رحى المعركة العسكرية تدور في أوروبا بينما تمتد الحرب الأشمل لتشمل ساحاتٍ وصوراً أخرى، كالعقوبات التجارية الغربية التي تعاظمت وتوسَّعت بعد بدء إطلاق النار. ولقد انقسمت الأطراف الدولية في هذا الاشتباك العالميّ إلى ثلاث مجموعات: حلفاءٍ مباشرين، إمّا لروسيا أو لأميركا، وحلفاءٍ آخرين غير مباشرين لأحد المعسكَرَين، وأطرافٍ أخرى ما زالت تحاول المحافظة على موقع وسطٍ بين الحلفين المتقابلين.

منذ نهاية الثنائية القطبية، سعت أميركا حثيثاً إلى فرض هيمنتها على كل دول المعمورة، ونهب ثروات شعوبها، ومحو حضاراتها وثقافاتها. ولقد وظَّفت في مسعاها هذا عدة أدواتٍ: الحرب المباشرة بشقيها العسكري والاقتصادي، والحرب الناعمة بكل وسائلها من ثوراتٍ ملوَّنةٍ وهيئات «مجتمعٍ دوليٍ» ومنظمات «مجتمعٍ مدنيٍ» وإعلامٍ،… إلخ. وكانت العولمة والأيديولوجية الليبرالية الفكر المحرّك لهذه الأدوات، ولقد أقر ستيفن وولت في «فورن بوليسي» بكون الفكر الليبرالي، الذي تبناه الغرب و«الناتو» في العلاقات الدولية، قد ساهم بشكلٍ رئيسيٍّ في وصول الأمور في أوكرانيا إلى ما وصلت إليه. وفي سبيل المسعى الأميركي لتثبيت هيمنتها على العالم، قامت منذ مطلع القرن بعدة حروب ومؤامرات في منطقتي المشرق العربي ووسط آسيا، لكن باءت كلها بفشل استراتيجي على ما يقر به جل المنظِّرين والساسة الأميركيين.

وفي غضون هذا، ترسخت قناعةٌ لدى روسيا والصين بكون أميركا تسعى لتحجيمهما، إن لم يكن تفكيكهما، كي تستمر هيمنتها على العالم، وتنهي التاريخ على النحو الذي تراه! ولكن، في غمرة انشغال أميركا بمخططاتها في منطقتي قلب آسيا وغربها، استغلت الصين الفرصة وبنَتْ قوتها الاقتصادية والتكنولوجية، وقامت روسيا باستعادة التوازن لاقتصادها، وأعادت بناء جيشها وطورت أسلحته التكتيكية والإستراتيجية. وبالتوازي، كانت روسيا والصّين تُطوِّران علاقاتهما البينية ضمن «منظمة شانغهاي» وأطرٍ أخرى، بالإضافة إلى الاتفاقيات الثنائية بينهما التي تُوِّجَت بالقمَّة الصينية الروسية الأخيرة. ومع مطلع العشرية الثانية من هذا القرن، نضجت أغلب عناصر الاشتباك الكبير من أجل رسم عالم ما بعد الأحادية القطبية، حيث كانت الصّين وروسيا قد استعدتا للمواجهة، وكانتا قد وصلتا إلى مستوى متقدمٍ في تنسيق المواقف، بما فيه التوافق على التصدي لسياسة أميركا لتغيير أنظمة الدول.
كانت المعركة في سوريا أول تجلِّيات هذا الاشتباك الأوسع، بين المعسكر الروسي- الصيني الشرقي والمعسكر الأميركي الغربي، وهذا ما ظهر في استخدام روسيا والصين «الفيتو» لعدة مرات في مجلس الأمن، منهيتين بذلك مرحلة الهيمنة الأميركية على المجلس، التي سادت منذ انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي. لذلك، شكَّلت الحرب على سوريا المعركة التمهيدية في الاشتباك العالمي الأشمل، ويصح وصف ما تشهده أوكرانيا اليوم بالمعركة الثانية ضمن هذا الاشتباك. ومن المبكر حالياً التنبؤ في ما إذا كانت معركة أوكرانيا آخر المعارك العسكرية فيه، لكن من الواضح أن الاشتباك العالمي مستمرٌ في صيغته الاقتصادية، وربما السيبرانية، حتى إلحاق أحد المعسكرين هزيمةً إستراتيجيةً بالخصم. من المستبعد توقُّف الحرب الاقتصادية التي بدأها الغرب على روسيا عقب حسم المعركة العسكرية في أوكرانيا. وهذا، بدوره، يستجلب حرباً اقتصاديةً مضادة من المعسكر الشرقي على ركيزتي حروب أميركا الاقتصادية: هيمنة الدولار والنظام المالي العالمي الراهن. وقد بدأ هذا بالفعل؛ فقرار روسيا تحصيل أثمان صادرات الطاقة إلى أوروبا بالروبل، والسعي لإصدار الروبل الرقمي، تعدَّان خطوتين متقدمتين في الحرب الاقتصادية المضادة.

توصيف الوضع بكونه اشتباكاً عالمياً مصيرياً للقوى الكبرى، يفيد بتبلور مساراتٍ دوليةٍ وإقليميةٍ كانت قد ظهرت ملامحها منذ حين


وعليه، يمكن القول بأنّ العالم يشهد، منذ نحو عقدٍ من الزمن، حالةً تشبه الحرب العالمية؛ حرباً يمكن وصفها بالهجينة، لا هي حرب باردةٌ بالكامل، ولا ساخنةٌ بالكامل، وذلك نظراً لتفادي القوى الكبرى الدخول في صدامٍ عسكريٍ مباشرٍ بسبب الردع النوويّ المتبادل، مع الأخذ في الاعتبار أنه يصعب القطع بعدم تدهور الاشتباك العالميّ الراهن إلى الأسوأ، ولكن يبقى هذا الاحتمال الأقل ترجيحاً.
يصف ألكسندر دوغين ما يحصل في أوكرانيا بأنه حربُ استقلالٍ من هيمنة العولمة الليبرالية الغربية. الاشتباك العالميّ الراهن لا ينحصر فقط برغبة الدول الصاعدة بكسر الأحادية القطبية، بل، كما يقول، إن الحرب الراهنة في حقيقتها تدور ضد الأيديولوجية الليبرالية، التي تسعى لمحو حضارات شعوب الأرض وثقافاتها، والتي تدمّر الأسرة والمجتمع، وتنحدر بالإنسان إلى كائنٍ مسخٍ ورغائبيٍّ، متحررٍ من أية ضوابط اجتماعيةٍ أو أخلاقيةٍ.

ولا يبدو أن أميركا والغرب بعيدان من هذه القراءة لمصيرية الحرب الراهنة. فتشير طريقة تعاطي قادة الغرب مع المعركة الأوكرانية إلى أنهم يهدفون لإلحاق هزيمةٍ إستراتيجيةٍ بروسيا والمعسكر الشرقي، ولهذا فالأرجح تصاعد الضغوط الأميركية على حلفائها لحسم موقعهم في المعركة الأوكرانية، كحال الكيان المؤقت، الذي ما زال يتجنب الانحياز الكامل للجبهة الأميركية، وذلك لعدم رغبته في إغضاب روسيا، لا سيما أنه بات لروسيا حضورٌ فاعلٌ في المنطقة العربية. لكن، مع تعمُّق انقسام الأطراف بين معسكرين على وقع احتدام وطيس المعارك ومرور الزمن، يصير السؤال إلى أي مدىً سيستطيع الكيان المؤقت الاستمرار في لعبة موقفه الضبابيّ؟ ورغم العلاقات الأمنية والتجارية التي تربط الكيان المؤقت بروسيا، وعدم رغبته في استعدائها، يبقى تموضع الكيان المؤقت في المعسكر الغربي أكثر ترجيحاً، لكونه:
– في أصل وجوده صنيعةٌ غربيةٌ.
– مرتبطٌ وجودياً بالهيمنة الغربية.
– غير قادرٍ على مقاومة الضغوط الأميركية حال اشتدادها.
وهنا يُفتح بابٌ لقوى المقاومة في الإقليم، عبر استغلال تناقض المصالح الناشئ بين روسيا والكيان المؤقت. ففي المحصلة، تخوُّف الكيان المؤقت في محلّه من ردّ فعل روسيا حال تموضعه كلياً في المعسكر الغربي.
وفي الخلاصة، توصيف الوضع بكونه اشتباكاً عالمياً مصيرياً للقوى الكبرى، يفيد بتبلور مساراتٍ دوليةٍ وإقليميةٍ كانت قد ظهرت ملامحها منذ حينٍ، وظهور مساراتٍ جديدةٍ يمكن لقوى المقاومة البناء عليها، لا سيما كون هذه القوى باتت لاعباً حاسماً في رسم مستقبل الإقليم، ففي نهاية المطاف، كان محور المقاومة مَن أفشل أهداف حروب أميركا الاستراتيجية في منطقتي المشرق العربي ووسط آسيا.

Gonzalo Lira: News & Views 2022.04.04

APRIL 04, 2022

The Curious History of American Exceptionalism

March 31, 2022

Source

by Jimmie Moglia

Francois Mitterrand, the longest serving president of France (1981-1985), not long before he died (1996), he made this quite extraordinary statement:

“France does not know it, but she is at war with America. A permanent, vital, economic war, and only apparently a victimless war.

Yes, the Americans are inexorable, they are voracious, they want undivided power over the world… It is an unknown war, a permanent war, a war without apparent deaths and yet a war to the death.”

Such sentiments from a modern French president seem extraordinary – after all, France was and still is a historic American ally.

To test the truth of Mitterrand’s words we have, as usual, to remove the dust of history and return to the time of America’s birth. No intent here of re-writing history, but to subject to reason certain opinions that custom or prejudice have exempted from scrutiny or alternative interpretation.

Immediately we face perhaps the hardest task of any historian or of anyone attempting to make sense of history. I calculated that the average human has about 21 million minutes available in his life to make decisions.

A historian has then the task to decide which among the compounded millions of decision made by many individuals involved in the politics of a nation are historically important. Which means that any choice or selection a historian makes is arbitrary.

While admitting these limitations I will extract out of the chronicles and legends surrounding the history of the United States some less known but relevant events, which in the view of some have historical significance and portend of things to come at large.

Starting with the American declaration of independence, the conventional line about the grievances of the American colonists against England, their mother country, is that the Americans wanted political representation in England and England refused. This has been condensed in the punch line, “No taxation without representation.” Which is not entirely true but let’s not discuss it.

Suffice to say that, then as now, propaganda likes punch-lines, which have greater appeal than subjecting facts to scrutiny. On the other side of the Atlantic and typical of a certain British counter-spirit was the famous assertion by Dr. Johnson about the Americans, “They are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them, short of hanging.” Even so, many colonists continued to read and admire Dr. Johnson. Both George Washington’s and Thomas Jefferson owned a copy.

The tipping point, the grievance triggering the war for independence had to do with the tax the British government decided to apply to imported tea – tea having become a popular drink in America. Whereupon the Americans rebelled and threw the tea carried by a British ship, into Boston harbor.

This is only partially true, because the London-based East India company had accumulated a large surplus. The idea was to apply the tax, but to reduce the original price so that the cost at retail would be less than that paid for smuggled tea. And smuggling tea had grown into a flourishing business.

It may be a coincidence, but the first financier of the war of independence was John Hancock, whose family had amassed a fortune with smuggling.

The elites of Boston and the other colonies wanted to ensure that their profits remained in their own pockets. It was then necessary to use the masses, being careful that their anger could be properly directed.

During the riots against the earlier stamp tax, promptly abolished, the commander of the British military forces in America had observed:

“The masses of Boston, fomented by certain influential people, and attracted by the idea of being able to plunder … destroyed several houses… the promoters of the riot began to be terrified by the spirit they had fomented, since the popular fury was out of control. And they, too, were afraid of being the next victims of the rapacity of the people.”

Anyway, the independentists converted the artfully fomented winter of discontent into a quest for independence. Or rather, they convince the multitudes that choose by show (then like now), that the already rampant social inequality was the fault of English rather than of local exploiters. Today NGOs in foreign lands, with suitable adaptation, carry an equivalent responsibility. The US government finances them via its overseas embassies, or via even darker entities with equal or more nefarious motives (e.g. Soros et alia).

In America it was the classic case of catching two birds with one stone. The elite already relished the “freedom” to seize new western lands ad libitum and to do away with the various standing Indian treaties established by England – while wresting political power from the historic establishment. At the same time, anger, bitterness and popular resentment had to find an outlet that would safeguard the elite.

Consequently, the desire for a more even social structure, ready to break out into revolution, was converted into a struggle for independence. The elite could not predict the outcome of the war of independence, but it averted the danger of an internal revolution.

The Declaration of Independence is a document with almost the status of a Gospel. I find it therefore necessary to insist that I, an atom in the universe, have no right to impugn the value of such a legendary document. This is a critique, which does not imply rejection or disrespect. But it is possible to find in the declaration the seeds of much that followed in American history, including American exceptionalism.

“We hold that these truths are self-evident: that all men are created equal…” – is the famous beginning. To which we may add – purely for the sake of logical consistency – less the Negroes, because they did not count, the Indians, because they were not white, the women, because they were not men, and the poor, because they were not rich – and therefore couldn’t vote.”

It could be argued that applying logic to history is unhistorical. Agreed, except that even in the history written today, notorious states use or pretend to use logic even in their most murderous enterprises. The reader will no doubt recall many examples of ill-weaved western ambition turned deadly.

Back to the declaration. Apart from the limitations of applicability, those to whom the opening statement applied were endowed by the Creator with “certain inalienable rights,” and among these rights were life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.

None would disagree but a related anecdote is meaningful. One draft of the declaration, instead of “the pursuit of happiness” had “the right of property,” which no reasoning mind would object to. Why then the substitution with the somewhat vague pursuit of happiness? ‘Pursuit of happiness’ is an abstraction and turning an abstraction into a right compares with discovering that a great cause of the night is lack of the sun. It is a pearl of meaninglessness. Not even Genghis Khan, that I know of, forbade his Mongols to pursue happiness.

Yet better safe than sorry. If you want the poor to fight on behalf of the rich, proclaiming the preservation of property as a means to reduce inequality may perhaps raise some questions even among the distracted multitude, who like not in their judgment but their eyes.

In practice, the Declaration of Independence replaced the old with a new authority, the monarchical with a new Republican ruling class, founded on property, class distinction and inheritance, just as in the previous regime.

The great difference – and here lies the crux of the unresolved American question – is that Americans could not admit distinctions of class and heritage. Distinctions that were the foundation of the new society as they were, indeed, of the old one, which they had detached themselves from.

This paradox created a chasm between practice and theory – between the theory of egalitarianism, used to create the new nation, and the practice of competition that necessarily creates winners and losers.

The whole further reinforced by a mental attitude condensed into the very Yankee expression, “Winner takes All.” A sentence extracted from the rules of a game that expresses both an aspiration and an acceptable and recognized mode of thought and way of life.

But this tension between theory and practice, between egalitarianism and antagonism could not be officially admitted. Therefore it remained not only unresolved, but even concealed. And the frauds, hypocrisies, and illusions necessary to conceal the tension between words and deeds were and have become part of America’s history.

Some may argue that this subterfuge is necessary to create a ‘great’ nation. Someone else may say that the tension between theory and practice is not America’s exclusive legacy. Certainly, but America is the one country in the world that – from birth – has officially pretended that the problem does not exist.

One other key element of the American political psyche – not sufficiently acknowledged, I think – is that the authority that fixes the rules of foreign trade and foreign exchange is also the authority that fixes all others.

Therefore, we have a commercial interpretation of liberty and a perception of international trade quite different, for comparison, from another revolution, the French revolution that followed not long later, based on liberte’, fraternite’, egalite’ – however difficult it may have been to convert that vision into practice. Still, one of the first actions of the French revolutionaries – usually unknown to most – was to abolish slavery, in 1792.

And now let’s examine another symbolic but actual and important cornerstone of the American worldview since 1776. Or rather, to have an idea of how the American collective political psyche views the world, we may focus our observation on the famous US dollar bill.

The front features the portrait of George Washington, himself the owner of 300 slaves.

But in France, in 2005, the 200th anniversary of the legendary victory of Napoleon at Austerlitz, against the Russians and the Austrians, was not celebrated because Napoleon had re-introduced slavery. A small detail in the immense cauldron of history, but sufficient, I think, to perceive one significant difference between the political psychologies of peoples.

When we then examine the back of the one-dollar bill, we find the statement, “In God we Trust”. In different ways we may all do so. But we know that money can be the ‘worse poison to men’s souls…, ‘that too much of which will make black white, foul fair, wrong right, base noble, old young, etc.’ Therefore that “In God we Trust” sounds like a virtual jarring note. It almost equates to printing “we trust in virginity” on the door of a brothel.

Furthermore for Christians thus directly associating God with money has the sound of blasphemy. For it contrasts dramatically with the famous answer given by Jesus to those who tried to trick him by asking him if citizens should pay taxes.

“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”, replied Jesus.

Another item on the back of the dollar bill is the Great Seal, a masonic symbol carrying the date 1776. This is historically congruent, because masonic societies have been largely responsible for revolutions both in the United States and in France. And masonry is considered the antithesis of God, being based on the Cabal, arcane symbolisms etc.

Equally meaningful is the banner below the Great Seal, “Novo Ordo Seclorum,” a Latin sentence meaning “The New Order of Centuries” –the new eternal order of the world. In corporate lingo this would be a veritable mission statement. It suggests the objective for America to establish a new timeless world order. It proposes and promises an imperial mission – which became dramatically evident for the first time in 1812, the first imperial war to annex Canada, under the presidency of James Madison.

Andrew Jackson, who was a general in the war of 1812 and later a president, made a prophetic statement: “We will make prevail our right to free-market exchange, and open the market for the products of our soil so as to duplicate the exploits of ancient Rome.”

A remarkable declaration, especially given the then small number of US inhabitants, about 7 million, mostly dedicated to agriculture. Yet a statement foreshadowing the intent or mission to become a Roman-style empire.

The Americans did not win the Canadian war – even if, in population they outnumbered the Canadians by a ratio of 25 to one.

During their first attempt to invade Canada the Americans crossed the Detroit river to meet a joint force of Canadian and Indian armies. Leading the Indians was the legendary Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, the Canadians were led by Isaac Brock, who, by choice of chance, was born in the island of Guernsey, where I lived for 5 years. Incidentally, Tecumseh had witnessed the massacre of his people and the invasion of Shawnee land by the Americans.

Leading the Americans was General William Hull, who, after crossing the border, issued a proclamation to the inhabitants of Canada. I quote it in full because of the startling implications it contains.

“Inhabitants of Canada!

The Army under my command has invaded your country, and the standard of the United States now waves over the territory of Canada.

“To the peaceable, unoffending inhabitant it brings neither danger nor difficulty. (subtext, if you surrender we will allow you to live). I come to find enemies, not to make them. I come to protect you not to injure you… I tender to you the invaluable blessings of civil, political, and religious liberty… That liberty which has raised us to an elevated rank among the nations of the world (we can read here the seeds of the ‘exceptional nation’).

Remain at your homes, pursue your peaceful and customary avocations, raise not your hands against your brethren… I have a force that will look down on all opposition, and that force is the vanguard of a much greater. If, contrary to your own interests and the just expectation of my country (notice that ‘just expectation’), you should take part in the approaching contest, you would be considered and treated as enemies, and the horrors and calamities of war will stalk before you. If… the savages be let loose to murder our citizens and butcher our women and children, this would be a war of extermination. The first stroke of the tomahawk, the first attempt with the scalping knife, would be the signal of one indiscriminate scene of desolation. No white man found fighting by the side of an Indian would be taken prisoner; instant destruction would be his lot.”

Having the war ended without a winner, a peace treaty was signed in the city of Ghent, Belgium in 1814.

Incidentally and anecdotally, to the 1812 Canadian war is directly attributable the reason why the White House is called the white house. During the war, an attack by British naval forces that had sailed up Chesapeake Bay, overpowered the American resistance, reached Washington and literally burned up the seat of government. The fire blackened the building, which had to be refurbished and repainted in white. Hence the name White House, now sealed in history.

However, the efforts to annex Canada did not end in 1814. I will skip the history of failed subsequent attempts. More interesting are the snares used to achieve the desired results, on the part of the United States. Strategy and snares still successfully applied today.

In 1854 – 40 years after the treaty of Ghent, the backers of the annexation movement succeeded in pushing the British government to negotiate, on behalf of the five eastern Canadian colonies, a so-called ‘reciprocity agreement’. Which meant free trade in natural products, opening Canadian waterways to US shipping, and free access by the United States to the Canadian maritime fishery.

The interesting part of the ‘Reciprocity Agreement’ is how it was achieved. The US government sent a secret agent named Israel D. Andrews to influence the course of events. He used means, or rather a new strategy that, though distant in time, is quite similar to events occurring during our historical present.

Of agent Israel Andrews, by a quirk of fate, his related expense account is extant and it tells us more than many books. To push the annexation and free-trade agreement he paid, in the Canadian province of New Brunswick,

$5,000.00 to an editor – read corrupting the Canadian press

$5,000.00 to the attorney general – read corrupting the justice system

$5,000.00 to an inspector of trade – read corrupting the administration

$15,000.00 to a member of the New Brunswick assembly – read corrupting a politician.

Today, in refined Orwellian language, the procedure is called of course lobbying. Incidentally, we owe the term lobbying to President Ulysses S. Grant who so described the action of people accosting him in the lobby of the Willard Hotel sometime in the 1860s.

On May 14, 1854 Andrews wrote to the Department of State as follows,

“… I have therefore taken such measures, as the circumstances of the case required in New Brunswick, to moderate the opposition and keep the public mind in a quiet state… I was able to reach Fredericton before the New Brunswick legislature adjourned, and prevent any discussion of the proposition now under consideration, or any legislative action of a character adverse to our interests.”

In other words, in this new type of war it was/is important to disorient public opinion guided by media paid-for pied pipers. Besides, in the mind of the Americans the free-trade agreement was the equivalent of, or the prelude to, annexation.

In all Andrews spent more than $100,000 – equivalent to several millions today – trying to persuade prominent individuals in Canada to support either annexation or, as a second choice, free trade with the United States. But the amount was a mere trifle, he wrote, “in comparison with the immensely valuable privileges to be gained permanently, and the power and influence that will be given forever to our Confederacy.” (meaning the Americans).

And this describes perfectly the undeclared war that caused French President Mitterand to say what I quoted earlier on. And, as shown in the recent posture towards Ukraine, the EU is, or behaves as, a US colony.

Unbeknown to most, contrary to conventional history, but supported by ample documentation, the primary promoters and pushers of the European Union were not European men, cosmetically turned into prophets of peace and prosperity, but the Americans, starting with Eisenhower et alia.

Back to the attempts at Canadian annexation. The ‘reciprocity agreement’ ran from 1854 until 1866. After six years from its implementation, the American consul in Montréal reported to the secretary of state of the time, Lewis Cass, that the treaty was “quietly but effectually transforming those five provinces into States of the Union,” meaning American.

Some in Canada viewed things differently. For example a Canadian lumber man, in 1862 said as follows, ”… as regards lumber Canada lost millions by the treaty… The raw material which now will be worth millions of dollars… never returned a farthing to the operators of this country … Labor expended in manufacturing added to the wealth of our neighbors across the line… They and they only were the gainers by reciprocity in lumber, while nearly all on this side engaged in supplying their wants were ruined.”

This sequence of events finds echoes in the process whereby the American Midwest was converted into the properly named ‘Rust Belt’ via the comprehensive shutting down of the industrial powerhouse of America and its transfer to China or elsewhere where labor was cheaper.

Which may be considered as an interesting twist and application of the “In God we trust” principle applied to money at work. For now, to “duplicate the exploits of ancient Rome” – as per Andrew Jackson’s mission statement previously quoted – the time had come to further broaden the horizon, behind the conquest/annexation of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines.

China would be a somewhat larger bite to swallow, but if there is a will there is a way. That the process did not entirely go to plan (until now) is due to temporary setbacks, for the web of life is of a mingled yarn, where good and ill go together.

Returning to history, the issue of Canada’s annexation became entangled with the American Civil War, when it appeared that Britain, and therefore Canada sided with the South. Incidentally, Canada had abolished slavery in 1793, 72 years before the US did. Anyway, it was the threat of forced annexation by the United States that prompted the leaders of the Canadian colonies to join forces and create what is today the Confederation of Canada.

But as late as 1888, the vice secretary of state John Sherman said, “The annexation of Canada will not be achieved through hostile measures but by making amicable propositions. This annexation is a historic inevitability.” There are echoes here of Obama’s reference to the US as the ‘indispensable nation’)

Sherman’s war, with methods not used before, can be called war by enticement, or even better, making an offer that cannot be refused.

In 1948 the US pushed again for a free-trade agreement, but in the parliament of Ottawa John Deutsch responsible for these negotiations stated, “The price to pay for a custom union with the United States is the loss of our political independence – because we will not have any longer control on our political decisions, which will be made in Washington.”

If we abandon the ballast of bias and use the telescope of reason, the parallel between US efforts to annex Canada and the creation of the European Union and NATO is inevitable. Where the European Union, as current events show to all but those who refuse to see, is but the political annex of the United States, and NATO a branch of the US military.

That the empire-building enterprise treats citizens as expendable fodder and contemptible fools should not surprise. For understanding is the child of reason and the powers-that-be have refined the means to surprise the unawareness of the thoughtless, and taught them to believe anything provided it is quite incredible. The artists of lying censure those who don’t believe the lie, and propaganda is a machine that has little care to preserve probability in its narrative.

With Russia, at least for now, the same powers have bitten more than they could chew. But malignity never sleeps and can easily inflict wounds not easily to be cured. And hoping for a cleansing of evil would be to transgress the bounds of probability.

Russia Sanctions Biden, Blinken, Dozens of Other Top US Officials

March 16, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Moscow imposed sanctions on US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and dozens of other top officials, banning them from entering Russia in response to the Biden administration’s “extremely Russophobic policy.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced the sanctions on Tuesday, in response to the US sanctions against Russia and its top officials.

The move to introduce the sanctions, which also targeted War Secretary Lloyd Austin, “is the consequence of the extremely Russophobic policy pursued by the current US administration,” the ministry said in a statement.

Among the targeted individuals were Biden’s son Hunter, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, CIA chief William Burns, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

The Russian ministry warned that Moscow would soon announce additional sanctions against a range of other “Russophobic” US officials, military officers, lawmakers, businessmen, and media personalities.

But it said that the door remained open for official contacts with the targeted individuals “if they meet our national interests.”

“We do not refuse to maintain formal relations if they meet our national interests, and if necessary, we will solve problems arising from the status of persons who appear on the black list in order to organize high-level contacts,” the ministry said in a statement.

In response to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, Washington banned Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov from entering the United States. The US and its European allies also adopted sanctions that have largely cut Russia off financially from the rest of the world.

On Tuesday, the US State Department announced more sanctions on Russia. It published a list of 11 individuals it said operated in the defense sector of the Russian Federation, including Viktor Zolotov, the commander-in-chief of Russia’s National Guard, and Alexander Mikheev, the director-general of Rosoboronexport, a state-controlled company trading in weapons.

The state department also threatened to “impose severe costs” on Russian military leaders in response to “widespread human suffering and casualties, including the deaths of innocent civilians” in Ukraine.

The Kremlin said last week that Washington “has declared economic war on Russia” after Biden announced a ban on Russian oil and other energy imports to “cut the main artery” of Russia’s economy.

A world at war

13 Mar 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Alastair Crooke 

External actors removed from the frenzy that is largely focused in Europe must be shaking their heads in disbelief at Europe’s zeal to join in this ‘war’. Was it deliberately provoked? Is there an escalation ‘in the works’ somewhere? 

A World at War

What constitutes the most important geostrategic event of the week? Well, it was India insisting to remove the US dollar in trade with Russia and replacing it with the local currency (whilst the US reacts by threatening India with separate sanctions). The list of ‘recalcitrants’ is lengthening: China too has been threatened by US sanctions for not joining in sanctioning Russia. Other states, including Turkey, Brazil (a skeptical Bolsonaro) and Gulf States are boycotting the ‘war on Russia’. In effect, it is mostly Europe who has gone the ‘whole hog’ on the lines of French Finance minister Le Maire’s comments in “waging an all-out economic and financial war on Russia. We will cause the collapse of the Russian economy”. The rest of the world remains notably ‘cool’ and aloof.

I recall being told by a senior British panjandrum in 2006 — well before its actual outset — that war with Iraq had already been decided, and it would transform the Middle East (to the US advantage). When I demurred, I was told either ‘get with it’, or be removed (in the event I was exiled).  

I recall this incident because it seems to me that something rather similar must have been said to Olaf Scholz in Washington in the run-up to his February meeting with Putin in Moscow: Something like, we’re going to cause the collapse of the Russian economy, which will likely see President Putin evicted from office in the turmoil that would ensue. ‘Get with it’. 

Scholz did just that — and more — ultimately sacrificing Nord Stream 2, promising a big spike in Germany’s military size, and even endorsing sending weapons to conflict zones (such as Ukraine).

Boris Johnson already was using the Ukraine conflict to try to reclaim a ‘world role’ for a post-Brexit Britain; and possibly Scholz decided to make a ‘virtue of necessity’ — similarly to fulfill a wish to see Germany again becoming a “forceful” participant in global politics by jettisoning the German guilt-complex from WWII and becoming “combat ready” — all of which Scholz’ party aspires to – predating Ukraine.

In any event, Europe has embraced an all-out economic war on Russia with un-customary zeal. The West has taken its economic war on Russia to new heights, never before experienced: Russian Central Bank foreign reserves were seized; its financial institutions frozen out of external capital markets, certain Russian banks expelled from SWIFT, and the Rouble suffered a concerted ‘sell’ operation mounted out of New York (as in 2014).

However, it is not the detail that matters. Not even the means by which Russia avoided its preordained economic demise (early wargaming war prospects). No, its salience lies with a state’s foreign reserves being expropriated; its institutions paralyzed; and its currency assaulted — at ‘the flick of a switch’.

Then, just as suddenly, Europe re-erected an Iron Curtain (but this time against Russia) via a PSYOPS media narrative, which when superimposed upon emotion-jerking imagery, has evoked a moral outrage which insists on certain retaliation.  

President Putin becomes the cold, inhuman irrational antithesis to the rational liberal order, necessitating a moral crusade – perhaps even a military one – to confront such inhumanity. All this sprung into a Europe-wide frenzy, at the ‘flick of a switch’.

And – at the ‘flick of a switch’ – Russian discourse and perspectives are canceled across the western information space: Singularity and unity of messaging is Brussels’ goal.

Again, it is the context that matters. In one sense, the tragedy in Ukraine is a distraction: The point – not lost on the rest of the world – is how this all ‘was switched on’ against a major power in a day. It could just as easily happen to them, they realize.

That’s why India’s decision to trade in Rupees and Roubles is a harbinger of things to come. In throwing the ‘kitchen sink’ at Russia, the West has starkly highlighted the risks to the rest of the world that are inherent through participation in this Western-led ‘rules-based global order’.

And in triggering through media management the outrage which demands certain punitive retaliation, and outlawing alternative views, they send a shiver through many non-western leaderships — whose civilizational and value distinctions clearly mean nothing to the West. We will see many of these countries increasingly ‘abandon ship’.

Finally, external actors removed from the frenzy that is largely focused in Europe must be shaking their heads in disbelief at Europe’s zeal to join in this ‘war’. Was it deliberately provoked? Is there an escalation ‘in the works’ somewhere? 

A ‘world at war’ – whether kinetic or the full-monty financial – will be a disaster for Europe. War is inflationary. War is contractionary (and inflationary too).  It acts as a tax on any big importer such as Europe. Energy and commodities prices are currently higher – relatively – than any year since 1915. Wheat prices (25% of global supplies are sourced from Ukraine and Russia) are at their highest since 2008. Everything is going up vertically. The whole production chain for food is under pressure from every side. 

Why did Europe say ‘yes’?

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Exclusive: Pro-Zionist U.S. Politicians Dead Set on War with Russia

World affairs are rapidly moving toward chaos as the war between Russia and Ukraine threatens to escalate into a nuclear conflagration.

March 9, 2022

By  VT Editors

by Richard C. Cook for VT

World affairs are rapidly moving toward their culmination as the U.S.-instigated war between Russia and Ukraine threatens to escalate into a nuclear conflagration.

The charge to world war is being led by U.S. Zionist politicians and bureaucrats, especially President Joe Biden and his chief implementer, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. As usual, the dirty work on the ground is being carried out by the ever-present CIA and its compliant military superstructure.

By now the Zionist march to world domination has been thoroughly documented and will not be reprised here. It has been accomplished largely through infiltration and control of the English-speaking nations—chiefly Great Britain and the U.S.

Great Britain was taken over during the latter part of the 19th century through the instrumentality of Cecil Rhodes’ Round Table, controlled by the Rothschilds. The U.S. fell under the dominion of the same influences with Zionist creation of the Money Trust leading to the Federal Reserve System in 1913.

The chief competition for world hegemony by 1900 was imperial Germany, which the Zionists succeeded in knocking off through World Wars I and II. Along the way, it was also necessary to eliminate competition from the Austro-Hungarian, Russian, Ottoman, and Persian empires, although the aid of Bolshevik Russia, aka the Soviet Union, had to be enlisted to counter the strength of Hitler’s Germany on the European continent.

By then, the independent Zionist entity of Israel had been wrested from British-controlled land in Palestine. Zionism now had a tangible world headquarters.

But after World War II, as Zionist-controlled America moved decisively toward world hegemony through war against all comers led by its CIA and military establishments, Russia became viewed as a dispensable burden, leading to the Cold War and the dissolution of the Eurasian Soviet conglomeration of nations during the 1990s.

In Europe, Zionist America moved swiftly to take over the British-inspired NATO, which metastasized by the early 21st century to include most of Eastern Europe. Also eager to join were politicians on the Zionist payroll from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine.

Meanwhile, with Russia seemingly down for the count, the Zionists had utilized their 9/11 false flag attacks to launch a massive series of wars against nations of the Middle East to cement control over the Asia-European bridge and to seize the Asian heartland in Afghanistan. Russia’s Slavic kinsmen in Yugoslavia had already been trounced through the NATO attacks in the Balkans in the 1990s.

Earlier, the ground for the Middle Eastern assaults had been prepared by the U.S. through the first Iraq war of the late 1980s. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya were then smashed to bits, while Zionist wars against Syria and Yemen are ongoing.

Of course, Iran has proven a harder nut to crack. Part of the problem with the Zionist plans for Syria and Iran came from support to those nations given in various forms by a resurgent Russia led by Vladimir Putin.

This brings us to today.

Russia under Putin was the last remaining obstacle to final Zionist victory, particularly with China having been pacified through incorporation into the West’s consumer economy and the threat of military confrontation through the U.S.’s “pivot to Asia.” So, obviously, Russia and Putin had to go.

After Russia stomped on the pretensions of Georgia and effectively began to integrate itself into the European economy through the export of petrochemicals, wheat, and strategic minerals, a provocation through the Western takeover of Ukraine presented itself as the chosen means to draw Russia into a catastrophic war.

This was accomplished expertly under the second Obama administration by the 2014 coup engineered by Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama State Department, whereby the legitimate democratically-elected government of Ukraine was overthrown and replaced by a cabal of U.S. puppets under Poroshenko.

Soon afterward, the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine declared independence from the Kiev regime, followed by the Russian annexation of the vital region of the Crimean peninsula.

The Kiev regime then began the assault on Donbass which has gone on now for eight years, and Americans began a relentless propaganda attack against Russia for its actions in Crimea. This attack was led then, as now, by the ubiquitous U.S. Zionist media led by such entities as CNN, NBC, FOX, the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc.

Meanwhile, the now-president of the Kiev Regime, Zelensky, continued to lobby openly for NATO membership and announced his intention to acquire nuclear weapons, even as the U.S. Defense Department set up bioweapons laboratories throughout the country. Russia and Putin, quite naturally, saw the actions of the Kiev regime as an existential threat. On February 24, 2022, the Russian military invaded.

Now the Zionist West has seen its big chance. The time for war with Russia has come, whatever the cost may be. As Zionist politicians everywhere salivate, the door is about to slam, where the last vestiges of independent national sovereignty on planet earth may be closed. Nuclear war looms as the U.S. takes action through sanctions, weapons shipments, and threats of armed retaliation through NATO allies, such as Poland.

Russia has accused the West, rightly so, of acts of economic warfare, and has put its strategic weaponry on alert. The U.S. claims it does not want war against Russia, but this is a sham. The U.S. has already mobilized its direct and asymmetric weaponry.

The main threat is to cut off all imports from Russia, with Germany and other European nations expected to follow suit. This is already crashing Western stock markets and will inevitably cause an economic depression.

Even as this takes place, the Zionist media is trying to get us to blame only Putin. Biden and the other Zionists will, of course, continue to blame Putin for everything, and the megaphone of MSM media will continue to amplify the call to war a thousand-fold.

World war is roaring down the tracks.

Unless, someone, somewhere, breaks the Zionist shackles. As it is absolutely impossible for this to come from the enslaved English-speaking nations, the initiative can only come from continental Europe.

If Zelensky should begin acting like a sane human being and accepts the Russian conditions for peace, and if Putin refrains from taking the Zionist bait and desists from launching a preemptive nuclear attack, then maybe something can change even at this hour. We can only hope.


Richard C. Cook is a former U.S. government analyst who writes on geopolitical subjects.  

Western sanctions policy is birthing a rival economic world-system

3 Mar 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Samuel Geddes 

From the huge reserve it accumulated over the years to alternative currency transfer methods, Russia has many tools to counter the ‘barrage’ of Western sanctions, but will they be effective?

Russia has seen this moment coming for years, hence its US$630 billion central bank reserve of which only 16 percent is held in US dollars

The addition of Russia to the ranks of Iran, Venezuela, Yemen and others enduring “maximum pressure” campaigns will only further the creation of financial and economic mechanisms that bypass the US dollar and the global architecture that supports it. 

From the opening salvo of a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine last week, it was inevitable that we would reach this point. Under American pressure, the European Union has agreed to expel the central bank of Russia from the SWIFT messaging system, the so-called “plumbing of the global financial system”. The measure, along with massive export restrictions from western states, is specifically designed to cripple the Russian economy, preventing it from paying for its imports and more crucially, receiving payment for its exports.

Moscow now joins just a handful of states worldwide to be subjected to such totalizing economic warfare. The most prominent example is the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has endured massive sanctions since its inception in 1979, escalating to the point of economic siege in 2012 and again in 2018. Venezuela, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez and now Nicholas Maduro has gone from being one of the largest oil exporters to the United States to the victim of a siege that has led to a massive refugee crisis throughout South America and outright theft of its national gold reserves by the Bank of London.

Far more effective attempts at economic strangulation are currently being carried out against Yemen, where the Ansar Allah movement had the temerity to overthrow a western and GCC-backed president. That country’s death count is rapidly approaching 400,000 of whom the overwhelming majority are civilian victims of famine and disease resulting from a total land, sea, and air blockade of the country enforced by the GCC states as well as the western powers directing them from afar.

Afghanistan’s near 40 million population is also being viciously punished for NATO’s defeat at the hands of its Taliban rulers. Nearly the entire population lives in absolute poverty and is unable to survive because the American government froze the central bank’s assets and has seen fit to release only half of the approximately US$8 billion. The other half Washington has seen fit to keep for itself, to compensate the families of 9/11 victims, whose losses the Afghan people have manifestly nothing to do with. In the case of the latter two countries, almost no other country has even recognized them as legitimate states entitled to sovereign equality and membership of the United Nations. 

Now, these nations are joined by the largest state on earth and one of its most critical suppliers of raw materials, from feed grains to strategic metals and fertilizers. 

The initial impacts of the sanctions regime are likely to be socially devastating on Russia but like the countries in whose company it now finds itself, it will quickly find a way to circumvent these economic hurdles and find new markets for its goods. It could also conceivably become far more self-sufficient in higher-end value-added goods, as it will now be forced to substitute imports of western technology. 

Russia has seen this moment coming for years, hence its US$630 billion central bank reserve of which only 16 percent is held in US dollars. What is likely to make up a growing proportion of that reserve will be the Chinese yuan. Beijing has dropped all limits to its importation of Russian wheat, signaling that the PRC may be willing to provide Russia a guaranteed market for most, if not all of the commodities it will now be unable to sell freely on the global market. Chinese non-compliance with the US and EU-mandated sanctions may augur a more terminal split with the west. 

Should China opt for a final economic decoupling from its decades-long partners, the East Asian giant would likely choose to serve as a guaranteed market for similarly besieged states, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Venezuela. Its likely means of doing so have been intimated in just the last few days. The Cross-Border International Payments System (CIPS) is Beijing’s In-house version of the western SWIFT system, albeit in its infancy and far less wide-reaching. What it would do is significantly expand the use of the yuan as a means of payment-settling, particularly for energy imports. Given its insatiable demand for energy, the Chinese economy, waning pandemics-permitting, could finally propel the widespread adoption of a non-western global currency. Bilateral trade between Russia and China, now well over US$100 billion annually has already been largely “de-dollarized” with the US currency being used to settle less than 23 percent of payments between the two nations.

A parallel financial-plumbing system built to service a growing list of states could significantly internationalize and speed up this trend. 

Russia could instead expand the use of its own domestic payment system, the System For Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS), created in 2014, to facilitate international transfers. This would be especially effective in the former states of the Soviet Union, in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Several or all of these isolated states might construct their own indigenous payment systems that could be mutually compatible. As direct fuel shipments and technical assistance from Iran to Venezuela over recent years have demonstrated, the weaponization of the US dollar and the international financial system is serving more to unite disparate nations in sanction-proofing their economies than in toppling their political systems. 

Planners in Washington are almost certainly aware of this and while the bountiful natural resources of the Russians are now lost to them, it may just be the cost of having Europe now entirely beholden to the US for its economic survival, as well as the South American, Middle Eastern and East Asian former Russian markets the west has secured for itself. 

While the west’s expanded economic market share will keep the dollar, euro, and the pound afloat in the immediate post-COVID world, this will only delay the inevitable. NATO belligerence has now set in motion the forces that will eventually produce a successor to the current world-reserve currency, and the very existence of a parallel financial universe will show that other worlds than that ruled by the euro or the dollar, are possible.       

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Any Israeli Attack on Hezbollah Precision-guided Missiles Will Lead to All-out War

 February 9, 2022

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stressed that the Resistance Party deals seriously with the Israeli intimidation, wondering whether the Zionist enemy can implement its threats.

In an interview with Al-Alam News Network, Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the umber of Hezbollah fighters is unprecedented in the history of the resistance movements, emphasizing that any Israeli military attack on Lebanon will lead to an all-out war.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the Zionist threats to attack Hezbollah precision-guided missiles cannot be implemented, adding that the Resistance rocketry power is distributed over numerous locations.

Regarding the air defense systems of the Resistance, Sayyed Nasrallah clarified that Hezbollah has been developing military units tasked to face the Zionist drones, rejecting to disclose Hezbollah capabilities in facing the Israeli warplanes.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that Hezbollah will unveil several military surprises during the upcoming war with the Zionist enemy, adding that the Resistance does not want to engage in a war but that it is not afraid of it.

Hezbollah leader underscored the national affiliation of the Lebanese Resistance, adding that Hezbollah has the right to question the affiliation of certain political parties in Lebanon.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the failure of the military choice against Hezbollah, turned the enemies into the economic war in order to blame the Resistance for its consequences.

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that Hezbollah takes its decisions independently, adding that the Iranians do not interfere in the Lebanese domestic affairs, including the parliamentary elections.

Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted the major influence of the Gulf countries and the United States of America on the Lebanese affairs, adding that the US treasury completely controls the Lebanese banking sector.

Refuting the claims of the anti-resistance political parties in Lebanon as baseless, Sayyed Nasrallah underscored the US military influence on the Lebanese army.

Sayyed Nasrallah cited several US attempts to start a direct dialogue with Hezbollah, telling the Americans that they work as spies in favor of the Zionist entity.

Hezbollah does not interfere in the issue of the maritime border demarcation because it does not recognize the existence of ‘Israel’, according to Sayyed Nasrallah who noted that the Lebanese state is concerned with identifying the borders.

Sayyed Nasrallah reiterated Hezbollah stance which rejects any kind of normalizing ties between Lebanon and the Zionist entity, stressing that Hezbollah support to the Yemeni people against the KSA-UAE war is not an intervention in the Saudi-Emirati affairs.

Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out that the decision of the former prime minister Saad Hariri to withdraw from the parliamentary elections is unfortunate and will affect the Lebanese politics, adding that Al-Mustaqbal absence will not by necessity reinforce extremism in the Sunni sect.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that Hezbollah participation in the parliamentary elections is aimed at protecting the resistance, adding that some political parties will run the elections on the basis of antagonizing the resistance.

Hezbollah Secretary General noted that the two-state solution in Palestine is rejected by the Israelis and the Americans, adding that the Zionist enemy wants merely the security coordination with the Palestinian Authority.

Since Al-Quds Sword battle, the occupied West Bank has been witnessing a rising resistance movement, according to his eminence who added  considering that this troubles the Israelis.

Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized that the Palestinian people are committed to the resistance path despite the normalization deals, adding that the people is Saudi, Bahrain and Emirates reject the normalization deals.

Sayyed Nasrallah also highlighted the Algerian stance pertaining the Palestinian cause, underscoring its rejection of granting ‘Israel’ the observer status in the African Union.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the United Arab Emirates involved itself in the war on Yemen, adding that the Yemeni response was decided by Ansarullah Movement solely.

Hezbollah leader pointed out that the global war on Syria has ended without achieving its targets, citing the continuation of the US plunder of the Syrian resources in the North and East.

Sayyed Nasrallah also highlighted the attempt to re-activate ISIL terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, underscoring caution in face of this scheme.

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that Hezbollah has imposed on the Israelis a formula that includes responding to any Zionist attack on the Resistance posts in Syria.

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the Bahraini people is still holding protests despite the regime’s policy of arrest and persecution.

Sayyed Nasrallah said that recalling the memories of Imam Khomeini arrival in Tehran and the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 inspire happiness, adding that Imam Khomeini’s character played a vital role in the victory.

Sayyed Nasrallah noted that, during the Shah term, 60,000 US advisors used to rule the various administrative, military and economic domains in Iran.

Sayyed Nasrallah further stressed that Iran itself, not its allies, will respond forcefully to any Israeli attack.

Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed that Iran is a strong nation that preserves its own sovereignty, adding the US threats to attack it are a mere verbal intimidation.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Imam Khamenei Hails Iranian Producers’ Struggle amid Sanctions as One of the Greatest Acts of Worship

Jan 31 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said the enemies are waging a war against Iran’s economy in order to bring it to collapse and pit the people against the establishment.

“The goal of the enemies in this war has been the collapse of the Iranian economy; that was their intention. Now, the collapse of the economy was, of course, a prelude in order to set the people against the Islamic Republic by destroying the Iranian economy and to carry out their malicious political intentions in this way,” Imam Khamenei said in an address to a group of Iranian producers and entrepreneurs in Tehran on Sunday.

His Eminence hailed Iranian producers, entrepreneurs and workers as “officers” of the battle against the enemies’ economic war.  

“The country’s stronghold of production and economy is alive; thank God, it is standing. The army that stood against the enemy – the officers of this holy defense – were the entrepreneurs and capable economic managers. Its warriors were also workers. The workers were the sincere and earnest warriors of this battle. You and all economic actors share in this honor of preserving the country’s economy,” the Leader said.

Imam Khamenei reiterated his oft-repeated line that officials should not tie the country’s economy to the results of negotiations currently underway in Vienna to remove US sanctions on Iran.

His Eminence described production as struggle in the path of Allah, which is known as the principle of jihad in Islam.

“The resistance of the producers against the attack on the economy and the enemy’s efforts to prevent the sale of oil and gas and cut foreign exchange resources and against its plans to block Iran’s foreign trade is in fact jihad and one of the greatest acts of worship,” Imam Khamenei underscored.

The enemy’s plans to “conquer the production stronghold” of Iran as part of its economic war on the country have failed,” His Eminence added.

“In this onslaught on the country’s economy, there were problems in people’s livelihoods, but the production sector did not come to its knees, and a US State Department spokesman explicitly stated a few days ago that the policy of maximum pressure had led to the tragic defeat of the United States.”

Imam Khamenei was apparently referring to US State Department spokesman Ned Price who said last Tuesday that the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, initiated by the Trump administration and maintained by the Biden administration, has been an “abject failure.”

The Leader underscored that Iran’s economy needs a leap in production to overcome problems and remain immune to internal and external shocks.

“A jump in production leads to improved economic indicators such as sustainable employment, export boom, foreign exchange earnings and lower inflation. It leads to national self-confidence that is a guarantor of national dignity and security.”

Ayatollah Khamenei touched on Iran’s great potentials and vast possibilities as acknowledged by domestic and foreign experts, saying “if efficient, hard-working and caring managers use these capacities correctly, the situation will certainly be many times different.”

He said the cause of economic problems in the country is not solely the sanctions, but wrong decisions and dereliction on the part of officials are behind many of the problems.

Imam Khamenei also said he is generally not opposed to the participation of foreign companies in Iranian projects, but believes domestic knowledge-based companies can meet the country’s needs in large industries such as oil.

“Therefore, it should not be assumed that the advancement of technology in various industries depends only on the presence of foreign companies,” he said.

Thousands of small and medium-sized knowledge-based companies have been established in Iran in recent years, but the knowledge-based nature of large industries has been neglected, His Eminence added.

“The ability and knowledge of talented young people should be used in this field, just as whenever young people were trusted and given tasks from developing coronavirus vaccines to precision missiles, they really shone,” Imam Khamenei said.

“Our talented young people have also done outstanding work in the field of nanotechnology, stem cells and biotechnology and shown that ‘Iranian youth can’.”

Hezbollah Is A Greater Threat to the US than Ever Before!

September 22, 2021 

Hezbollah Is A Greater Threat to the US than Ever Before!

By Fatima Haydar

Beirut – A month since Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Nasrallah promised that no Lebanese will be humiliated in the pursuit of their everyday needs and amid the worsening economic situation in Lebanon, the Resistance group has held onto its part.

Hezbollah has broken the economic siege enforced by the United States on Lebanon. Iranian fuel transferred to the country via Iranian ships is being distributed in ALL Lebanon in a bid to ease the suffering of the Lebanese.  

However, this step has put the US in an embarrassing situation forcing it to allow the transfer of energy to Lebanon. Out of the blue, Lebanon will be receiving Egyptian natural gas and Jordanian electricity!

By bringing Iranian fuel to Lebanon and distributing it for free or low in cost to the Lebanese, Hezbollah has once again falsified the American rhetoric internal US allies were trying to sell the Lebanese.

Confidence in Hezbollah has never subsided among the group’s supporters. If this was the case, American and “Israeli” think-tanks wouldn’t have issued studies targeting social and monetary institutions belonging or linked to Hezbollah.

Now, the US is in cross hairs. It can either admit its failure in weakening the Resistance group or keep on trying relentlessly in an attempt to achieve something.

As usual, the US has a trick up its sleeve.

By failing in the economic war and its refusal to get into a military war, the US will turn to soft power and dirty diplomacy.

It will definitely use its leverage with the “Israeli” entity and put pressure on a newly formed Lebanese government that is so much in need of support.

The US, knowing that the new Najib Mikati-led government badly needs funds from the international community to prevent Lebanon from total collapse, will pressure it to succumb to American will and try to “rein in” Hezbollah.

Another thing the US will try to exploit is to make Hezbollah’s narrative of resistance void of meaning, forcing the group to disarm.

However, the group has vowed to liberate the entire Lebanese territory, including the Lebanese Shebaa Farms – a hill town at the intersection of the Lebanese-Syrian border and the “Israeli”-occupied Golan Heights – from the grip of the “Israeli” regime. A promise Hezbollah plans to keep! This being said, disarming is not an option on the table for the group.

In the meantime, the administration of US President Joe Biden will try to destabilize security in Lebanon. The “Israelis” are worried that Hezbollah can use the Shebaa Farms to spy on them.

At this point, the US will give the “Israeli” entity guarantees that the hill town would not be used by the entity’s enemies for espionage purposes.

Here, to give the entity guarantees that Hezbollah would not use the strategic location to threaten them, UNIFIL forces deployed in Shebaa should be given the right to inspect private property, thus ensuring that Hezbollah could not spy on the entity.

Still, Hezbollah has long understood something that the US and its allies haven’t: soft power.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah has always been and always will be a champion for the Lebanese, as Sayyed Nasrallah assured Lebanese will not be humiliated, saying in his speech on the 10th of Muharram, “We refuse that our people be humiliated… We refuse to be humiliated neither in a military war, nor in a political war, nor in an economic war. When we are presented with choices of this kind, the whole world knows our decision and our resolve”.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Lebanon Facing Economic War, US Huge Defeat in Afghanistan Identical to Vietnam’s Saigon

17.08.2021 

Sayyed Nasrallah: Lebanon Facing Economic War, US Huge Defeat in Afghanistan Identical to Vietnam’s Saigon   
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By Staff

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech in which he briefly tackled some internal Lebanese files.

Addressing mourners at the 8th night of Ashura, Sayyed Nasrallah underscored that “Some ‘senior people’ hold a press conference to attack us in Hezbollah, and they may address me personally. The best way is to ignore them. Some people work to insult us as if they don’t they won’t receive money from the Saudi and American embassies.”

“There are those monopolize fuel and gasoline on daily basis in various regions,” he added, noting that “Another reason for the crisis added to the monopoly of fuel is smuggling. There are those who took advantage of this matter and continue to smuggle fuel. The Lebanese state, the Central Bank, and many people are responsible for the problem of gasoline, diesel oil, and medicine.”

Reiterating Hezbollah’s stance from the issue, His Eminence stated: “We reject smuggling and do not approve of it. There is even religious refusal to this matter. Those who think that we approve smuggling to Syria, where we have sacrificed blood, is wrong, unjust, and suspicious.”

According to the Resistance Leader, “There are certain political leaders that are partners in covering those monopolizing fuel derivatives, and those leaders ignored monopoly and focused on the smuggling to attack Syria and its allies.”

Repeating Hezbollah’s rejection to smuggling and that it doesn’t cover anybody, he unveiled that the party is working to make diesel oil available for hospitals and municipalities.

“We contacted Syrian officials to have access to certain amounts of diesel oil to meet the needs of hospitals and bakeries, and I received calls from senior Syrian officials requesting to prevent smuggling that harms Syria’s economic plan,” he clarified.

He went on to say: “Some of those who smuggle fuel derivatives to Syria are apparently among Syria’s enemies. Controlling the borders with Syria is not Hezbollah’s responsibility but rather the state’s.”

In parallel, Sayyed Nasrallah elaborated that “What is happening in Lebanon is part of a state of economic war that aims at humiliating the Lebanese people and the Resistance.”

“The US wants Lebanon submissive and humiliated, but Lebanon is part of the front or the axis that has been dealing the US scheme blows time and again,” he confirmed, pointing out that “The war has started ahead of October 2019 with financing US embassy-affiliated civil societies. The Americans are the ones that pressed the then PM and forced him to resign. The aim of this economic war is to pressurize the Lebanese people and push them to collapse.”

Meanwhile, His Eminence assured that “Knowing that the ongoing situation is not only the result of internal problems makes our capability to be patient greater.”

However, he highlighted that “The Resistance is strong, solid and firm,” advising both “Israel” and the US not to mistaken their calculations. 

Commenting on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Sayyed Nasrallah said: “The Afghan situation is huge, which peoples of the region should learn its strategic dimensions.”

“[US President Joe] Biden withdrew his forces from Afghanistan because he could no longer stand it,” he mentioned, noting that “The scene in Kabul is identical to that of Vietnam’s Saigon.”

Shedding Light on some aspects of the US defeat in Afghanistan, His Eminence recalled that “Biden said he has spent more than $1 trillion, while his troops left the country failed and humiliated.”

As he viewed that “The US is still ignorant and doesn’t understand the region as it repeats its mistakes,” he reminded that “Biden wanted a civil war in Afghanistan that would take place through fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan forces.”

To all those betting on the US, Sayyed Nasrallah sent a clear message: “The Americans took with them their equipment and the police dogs, but didn’t take with them those who served as their collaborators. Biden said that it is not the Americans’ duty to fight instead of anybody; this is a message for those expecting that the US would fight on their behalf.”

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نصر الله: استيراد المحروقات والدواء من إيران… قريباً

الأربعاء 4 آب 2021

الأخبار

نصر الله عن كمين خلدة: لا نذهب إلى حيث يريد العدوّ

منذ نحو شهرين، أعلن الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله استعداد الحزب للمساهمة في حل أزمة المحروقات التي يشهدها لبنان. وبينما كانت طوابير الذل أمام «محطات البنزين» من شمال لبنان إلى جنوبه، هي الصورة الغالبة وحديث الناس ومعاناة جزء كبير من السكان، ذكّر السيد نصر الله في كلمة له بـ«العروض الإيرانية واستعداد الجمهورية الإسلامية لبيع المواد النفطية للبنان، بالعملة اللبنانية». يومها وعد بأن «حزب الله لن يقف متفرجاً، وأنه في حال بقاء الدولة ساكنة، فإن الحزب سيأتي ببواخر البنزين والمازوت من إيران». ومنذ ذلك الوقت استغلّت جهات عدة هذا الكلام للتصويب على حزب الله، متهمة إياه بأنه لم يفِ بوعوده وبأن إيران غير قادرة على تأمين حاجة لبنان، لكن يبدو أن هذا الوعد سيُترجم على أرض الواقع قريباً، وذلك وفق ما نُقِل عن السيد نصر الله الذي أشار في اللقاء السنوي مع المبلّغين وقارئي العزاء، عشية بدء شهر محرم أمس، الى أن «مجموعة من الإخوة في حزب الله موجودون في إيران حالياً لاستكمال بحث موضوع البنزين والمازوت»، مؤكداً «أننا سنأتي به عمّا قريب وسندخله سواء براً أو بحراً». ولم يكُن ملف المحروقات هو الوحيد الذي تعهّد نصر الله بالمساهمة في حلّه، فقد أكد أيضاً أن أزمة الدواء تدخل ضمن أولويات الحزب، لافتاً إلى أن «الحزب سيأتي بالدواء الإيراني إلى السوق اللبنانية»، ورداً على الحملات التحريضية التي انطلقت منذ أسابيع ضد استقدام الأدوية الإيرانية قال «يبلطوا البحر، واللي بيقولوا عن الأدوية الإيراينة سمّ، ما ياخدوا منها». وتعليقاً على الأحداث الأخيرة في الجية وخلدة وارتفاع منسوب التحريض الطائفي والمذهبي في البلاد، أشار السيد نصر الله إلى أن «حزب الله لن ينجر إلى حرب أهلية، ونعلم ما يجب أن نفعله».

وتحدّث السيد نصر الله عن ثلاثة عناوين يجري العمل عليها في مواجهة حزب الله، وهي: (1) تشويه صورة حزب الله وضرب النموذج، (2) جر حزب الله الى حرب داخلية… مشيراً إلى أن ذلك «مبني على معطيات بدأت من حجز الحريري الذي كان الهدف منه إشعال الحرب الأهلية، ولكن موقف القوى السياسية في لبنان، ومنها حزب الله، فاجأ السعودية ودفعها إلى تغيير مسار عملها».
أما بالنسبة الى جريمة قتل علي شبلي في الجية يوم السبت الفائت، فقال نصر الله: «نحنا ما عندنا دم بروح على الأرض، ولكن لا نذهب الى حيث يريد العدو. فنزول الحزب الى الأرض كان سيعني قراراً بحرب داخلية، وهناك من يسعى إلى جلب السلاح لقتالنا»، مُثنياً على «وعي الشارع المؤيد للمقاومة في ما حصل من أحداث في الأيام الأخيرة».

نصر الله عن كمين خلدة: لا نذهب إلى حيث يريد العدوّ


والعنوان الثالث هو الحرب الاقتصادية التي اعتبر بأنها «ليست صدفة، وعلينا أن نصبر وأن نكون جديين في العمل». وأشار إلى أن «قرار استيراد المواد من إيران اتخذ، وبدأ العمل على ذلك وكلها قرارات صعبة تحتاج الى وقت. والمواد النفطية هي من الحاجات التي لا يمكن الاستغناء عنها، وتحديداً المازوت الذي لا يمكن ترك البلد من دون تأمينه».

حكومياً، وبعدما حملت زيارة الرئيس المكلف نجيب ميقاتي لرئيس الجمهورية ميشال عون قبل يومين أولى إشارات دخول مسار تأليف الحكومة في أزمة على خلفية تمسك ميقاتي بالإبقاء على التوزيعة الطائفية نفسها للحقائب السيادية الأربع، ورغبته في أن تكون وزارة الداخلية بيد وزير من الطائفة السنية، لم يطرأ أي جديد في اليومين الماضيين، بينما الجميع ينتظر ما ستؤول إليه الأمور يوم غد الخميس، حين سيزور ميقاتي بعبدا للمرة الخامسة استكمالاً للمداولات. مصادر مطلعة قالت إن «جو الرئيس عون تجاه ميقاتي سلبي جداً، فيما الأخير عبّر عن وجود صعوبات خلال تواصله مع الجهات السياسية، لكنه أكد أنه لا يريد استعجال النتائج».

في المقابل، أوضحت مصادر متابعة لمسار تشكيل الحكومة أن «طرح مسألة اعتماد المداورة الشاملة في توزيع الحقائب الوزارية لا يستجيب للمبادرة الفرنسية التي وافقت عليها جميع الأطراف فحسب، بل يهدف كذلك الى عدم تكريس أعراف جديدة مخالفة للدستور». ودعت المصادر الى العودة الى «مبدأ المداورة في توزيع الحقائب الوزارية كافة إحقاقاً للعدالة والمساواة بين اللبنانيين وحفاظاً على الشراكة الوطنية التي هي عماد الوحدة والعيش المشترك، ما يسهل عملية تشكيل الحكومة العتيدة لمواجهة الظروف الدقيقة التي يمر بها الوطن».

وفيما تتجه الأنظار إلى «يوم الغضب» في الذكرى السنوية الأولى لتفجير مرفأ بيروت وما ستؤول إليه الأوضاع الأمنية، أعلنت الرئاسة الفرنسية أن المؤتمر الدولي الذي تنظمه باريس والأمم المتحدة دعماً للبنان يهدف إلى جمع 350 مليون دولار للاستجابة لحاجات السكان مع تدهور الوضع في البلاد. وستتخلّل المؤتمر كلمات لكل من: الرئيس ميشال عون، الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون، الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة أنطونيو غوتيريش والرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن، بالإضافة إلى الرؤساء: المصري، اليوناني والعراقي، والملك الأردني، والمديرة العامة لصندوق النقد الدولي والمدير العام لمنظمة الصحة العالمية، ورئيس وزراء كندا، ورئيس الاتحاد الأوروبي ورئيس وزراء الكويت.

كما يشارك في المؤتمر وزراء خارجية: ألمانيا، النمسا، هولندا، قبرص، بريطانيا، إيطاليا، بلجيكا، فنلندا، كرواتيا، إسبانيا، قطر وسويسرا. فيما ستنضمّ المملكة العربية السعودية، الإمارات، الصين والجامعة العربية عبر ممثلين لها.

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The second coming of Ben-Gurion

Source

April 5, 2021 – 17:44

The reasons behind capsizing the Taiwanese cargo ship “Ever Given”, on the 24th of March, have become clear.

The cargo ship capsized in the Suez Canal for more than 6 days. Failing to float the ship is not the news, or that the reasons behind the accident were a human failure. But the real news behind it is the reviving of the old-new plans that were and are still alive in the dreams of the Zionist entity which is enlivening the “Ben-Gurion Canal” project. Yes, Ben-Gurion Canal has surfaced once more.

The project aims to connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Gulf of Aqaba to the Mediterranean through the Negev desert. The idea of digging a canal opposite the Suez Canal began in 1963. It is recommended in a memo submitted by Lawrence Livermore Patriot Laps in the United States of America. The memorandum was proposed as a response to the decision taken by President Gamal Abdel Nasser to nationalize the Suez Canal in 1956. 

The memorandum suggested: In order to ensure the flow of navigation in the Red Sea, an alternative canal should be opened in the Gulf of Aqaba. It will be drilled through the Negev desert, which was described as an empty area that can be dug using nuclear bombs: Firstly, the project was halted due to the radiation that nuclear bombs could cause; and secondly due to the opposition that the project would face by the Arab countries, led by Nasser.

Today, political alliances have changed the face of the region, particularly after the implementation of the Abraham Accords by several Arab countries. Therefore, a political atmosphere is compatible. Hence, serious deliberations of the project, after the Ever-Given capsizing, provide the idea that the accident was contrived. It was intended as a new window for the return of the talks over finding an alternative to the Suez Canal. 

In principle, that the accident was premeditated is a fair assumption. In an article I previously published on the Al-Ahed website, I talked about Israel’s attempt to control and expand access to the gates of the water routes to the Mediterranean through the Abraham Accords. It was not a peace agreement. Rather, it was actually an economic treaty with Morocco, the Emirates, and Sudan. Once Oman signs it, Israel will be able to control the water routes from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Persian Gulf, and finally control the Red Sea through the upcoming Ben-Gurion Canal, which will provide enormous income for Israel.

Firstly, Israel and the United States are in dire need of the project to compensate for the severe economic contraction due to the Coronavirus pandemic and unstable conditions. The treaties were signed between Israel and the Arab countries so as to guarantee Israel’s political and economic stability, and to maintain its presence in the region.  

And secondly, the project is driven by the need to restrain the rise of the economic power of China, and to hold back its ongoing project known as “One Road, One Belt”. The Chinese project aims to build a train line that starts from the provinces of China in the west towards West Asia and secure water routes around the world. It is a multi-billion-dollar investment project. For example, before the Corona pandemic, several parties in Lebanon hosted the Chinese ambassador, who explained the benefits of the project, which will employ tens of thousands of workers, employees, and specialists along the train line, which will be used mainly to transport goods between China and Europe. Therefore, the U.S. is trying to hamper the Chinese trade route by creating an alternative route to compete with. So, the new stage of struggle will witness an economic war aiming to control seaports and global trade routes.

This American-Israeli project has overlapped with joining several agreements and draft agreements. For example, the United States and the United Arab Emirates have joined the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum as observers. And starting Monday, March 29th, the Military Cooperation Agreement between Jordan and the United States will take effect, which probably aims to find an alternative place for the American forces outside Iraq and Syria.

Thirdly, preparations are underway for the implementation of the New Levant Project, which extends from Iraq to Jordan to Palestine across the Arabian Peninsula to the Sinai Desert. The project aims to create a new trade route that does not pass through Syria and Lebanon, but rather through the New Levant lands extending from the Persian Gulf in the south to the Mediterranean in the north, and through it will pass new oil and gas pipelines from Iraq to Jordan, which will replace the Tab line.

The New Levant project might forfeit Syria’s geostrategic importance for the Americans as one of the most important global and historical trade lines between the north and the south throughout history. However, the project lost its momentum at this stage because of Israel’s drive to be part of it, which forced the Iraqi government to cease working on it.

The secrecy of the canal project’s memorandum was revealed in 1994. It was waiting in the drawers for new conditions to revive it. It seems that the capsizing of the ship was the perfect plan. The capsizing oddly coincided with the signing of the 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership between Iran and China. The current events are evidence that the need to change alliances has become inevitable in the region. This explains the economic pressure on Syria and Lebanon and the continued decline in the price of lira in the sister countries. The Americans hoped that through sanctions they would impose conditions for reconciliations with “Israel”, impose the demarcation of borders between the Palestinian and Lebanese borders to the best interest of Israel, and prevent Hezbollah and its allies from participating in the coming government. Eventually, the U.S. would have the upper hand to prevent the Chinese route from reaching its ultimate destination to the Mediterranean Sea. However, the reasons behind Biden’s escalating tone towards China and Syria were revealed once Iran and China signed the document for cooperation. The protocol also revealed the hidden options Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke of in his speech on the 18th of March.

The developments in the region may change the course of the Syrian crisis.  The “One Belt and One Road” project will not achieve its real success until it reaches the port of Latakia, or/and the port of Tripoli, if the Lebanese desire, in exchange for the ports of Haifa and Ashkelon in Palestine. However, this cannot be achieved as long as Syria is still fighting its new independence war against America and Turkey. Yet, the coming of the Chinese dragon to Iran may mark a new era. Syria constitutes one of the main disputes between China and the United States. It seems that the withdrawal of the latter to Jordan under the new military cooperation agreement has become imposed by the new coming reality. The Americans can manage from there any new conflicts in the region or prolong the life of the crisis and thus obstruct the Chinese project without any direct clashes.

The construction of the Ben-Gurion Canal may take several years. However, the project is now put into action. Thanks to “Ever Given” capsizing, the canal building is now scheduled around May 2021. It is clear now who is the main beneficiary of this calamity, which hit one of the most important global navigation points, namely the Suez Canal.

Normalization agreements were primarily aimed to expand Israeli influence over waterways. The disastrous consequences on the region are starting to be unwrapped.  The major target is going to be Egypt. Egypt’s revenue from the Suez Canal is estimated to be 8 billion dollars. Once Ben-Gurion is activated it will drop into 4 billion dollars. Egypt cannot economically tolerate the marginalization of the role of the Suez Canal as one of the most important sources of its national income, especially after the completion of the construction of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia. Confinement of the Nile water behind the water scarcity will cause the Egyptians to starve. It will have disastrous consequences on Egypt and Europe. Since the latter will receive most of the Egyptian immigrants; however, this is another story to be told.
 

U.S. Targets Russia, Iran with Eyes on China الأميركيّون يستهدفون روسيا وإيران وعيونهم على الصين

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

U.S. Targets Russia, Iran with Eyes on China

Dr.. Wafiq Ibrahim

The Americans have finally chosen the international party they must compete with because it is the main party that causes them economic declines. . What matters to them is to maintain the world’s first economic rank and Russia and others do not seem to be able to compete, as Russia is militarily empowered but economically weak. . Also, some countries in Europe, such as Germany, have an economic power, but without military power, it is enough that American forces are still stationed in Germany since its defeat in World War II, while the rest of Europe, especially France and England, are middle countries with arms and economy and are going after the Americans waiting for opportunities in Iran and the Gulf. .

China is the real competitor to the Americans, especially since it is able to overtake the Americans in the middle of the next decade..

For further clarification, the Yellow Dragon lacks a little weapon to become a global star in the U.S. competition..

It should first be noted that the new U.S. measures in Saudi Arabia have a relationship with China, because any Sino-Saudi rapprochement immediately means a decline in U.S. hegemony in the world because it immediately entails the transfer of Relations of Bahrain and the UAE from the Americans to China, in addition to the possibility of change in many countries of the Muslim world linked to the Saudi leadership..

These are the deep reasons that imposed on the Americans to work diligently to hold Saudi Arabia and since Mohammed bin Salman was the pillar who was working to build a Saudi Arabia that has regional and perhaps international weight, so he was dramatically overthrown. This does not mean that he is a murderer, though he may have killed dozens in order to to pave the way for an easy rule. This is always the case in Gulf-style countries.

It is noticeable then that the United States wants to overcome all the obstacles to avoid the loss of the Gulf and Europe in the battle with China, as well as for Southeast Asia, major consumers in Australia, Canada and the underdeveloped part of the European continent. That’s why they’ve been ahead of China for decades, away from Europe for generations, and they don’t see Russia as a serious competitor for at least a few centuries. .

What is important for Americans is to maintain their unipolarity to have true control over Europe and the Gulf, and it seems that these two matters are close to the logic of the need for these two regions. The Gulf always feels an Iraqi-Yemeni threat, in addition to the Syrian situation and Iran, which causes the Gulf many problems not only in their common maritime borders, but also in Iranian spheres of influence in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and other areas..

It seems, then, that what the Americans need in their war of unipolarity is the Gulf and Europe, and Southeast Asia, Canada, Australia. This confirms unipolarity stability for a long time. Is this possible?

On the other hand, China works silently and moves from one city to another to promote cheap goods in an era of extreme poverty. It is enough that the countries of the earth tend to poverty, which means that they need cheap goods that are no longer present except in China.

Therefore, there is an sharp US-Chinese conflict amid Russian-European observation awaiting results to determine its roles. The problem here is related to production capacity, which only exists in China, America, and Europe, where quality and minimum wages exceed wages in the entire world.

The conflict continues to develop as China focuses on penetrating vulnerable countries, third world countries, the poor part of Europe and most of South-East Asia.. This may take a long time, but it won’t be out of reach because the world is heading for more poverty, and need Chinese cheap commodity..

Thus, the economic conflict in the world is concentrated between America, China and Europe, so Russia is absent, and with it most other countries, but it maintains its military superiority that may exceed the US military advantage.

Thus, the world’s economic conflict between America, China and Europe is concentrated, with Russia and most other countries absent, and Russia maintaining its military superiority that may exceed U.S. military superiority..

Here it is important to note, that Russia, just like the Americans, will not allow China to possess quality weapons, and this is not surprising because Russia is interested in the Sino-American economic conflict, but it does not accept the transformation of China into a military economic power that can jump over the Americans, and and therefore the Russian..

The world, then, is facing a great continuation of the Chinese-American conflict, China without a qualitative destructive weapon, so should it go towards making a qualitative weapon?

It’s hard to go this way, because sinking into the arms industry means a complete blow to the acceptable economic levels and may smash the middle classes struggling with the levels of the European classes, and why they go towards the arms industry and the difference between them and the Americans in this area is very large and needs a great Chinese effort to realize.

The conclusion is that Russia is not the U.S. main target. China, being the actual competitor in the next two decades. is the actual Americans target.

الأميركيّون يستهدفون روسيا وإيران وعيونهم على الصين

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د. وفيق إبراهيم

اختار الأميركيّون أخيراً الطرف الدولي الذي يجب عليهم أن ينافسوه لأنه الجهة الأساسية التي تتسبب لهم بتراجعات اقتصادية. فما يهمّهم هو المحافظة على المرتبة الاقتصادية الأولى في العالم ولا يبدو ان روسيا وغيرها بوسعها المنافسة، فروسيا متمكّنة عسكرياً لكنها ضعيفة اقتصادياً. كذلك فإن بعض بلدان أوروبا كألمانيا تمتلك قوة اقتصادية انما من دون قوة عسكرية، يكفي أن قوات أميركيّة لا تزال ترابط في المانيا منذ هزيمتها في الحرب العالمية الثانية، أما ما تبقى من اوروبا وخصوصاً فرنسا وانجلترا فهي من الدول المتوسطة بامتلاك السلاح والاقتصاد وتسير خلف الأميركيّين انتظاراً لفرص في إيران والخليج.

يتبين بذلك أن الصين هي المنافس الفعلي للأميركيّين لا سيما أنها قادرة على تجاوز الأميركيّين في منتصف العقد المقبل.

لمزيد من الإيضاح فإن التنين الأصفر ينقصه القليل من السلاح ليصبح نجماً عالمياً على مستوى منافسة الولايات المتحدة.

لا بدّ أولاً من الإشارة الى ان التدابير الأميركيّة الجديدة في السعودية على علاقة بالصين، لأن اي تقارب صيني – سعودي يعني فوراً تراجع الهيمنة الأميركيّة في العالم لأنه يستتبع فوراً انتقال علاقات البحرين والإمارات من الأميركيّين الى الصين، هذا بالإضافة الى إمكان حدوث تغيير في الكثير من بلدان العالم الإسلامي ربطاً بزعامة السعودية له.

هذه هي الأسباب العميقة التي فرضت على الأميركيّين العمل الدؤوب على الإمساك بالسعودية وبما أن محمد بن سلمان هو الركن الذي كان يعمل على بناء سعودية لها وزن إقليميّ وربما دولي، لذلك أطيح به بشكل دراماتيكيّ. وهذا لا يعني أنه قاتل ولربما قتل العشرات في مسيرته في الحكم لتمهيد حكم سهل له. وهذا ما يحدث دائماً في بلدان على النمط الخليجيّ.

الملاحظ إذاً أن الولايات المتحدة تريد ضرب كل العقبات التي تؤدي الى خسارة الخليج وأوروبا في المعركة مع الصين، كذلك بالنسبة لجنوب شرق آسيا وكبار المستهلكين في استراليا وكندا والجزء غير المتطور من القارة الأوروبية. وهذا ما يجعلهم متفوقين على الصين لعقود عدة ومبتعدين عن أوروبا لأجيال ولا يرون في روسيا منافساً جدياً لقرون عدة على الاقل.

المهم بالنسبة للأميركيّين أن يحتفظوا بأحاديتهم القطبية. هذا لا يستقيم إلا بسيطرتهم على أوروبا والخليج ويبدو أن هذين الأمرين قريبان من المنطق لحاجة هاتين المنطقتين اليهما. فالخليج يستشعر دائماً بخطر عراقي – يمني ويحاذر الوضع السوريّ متعاملاً مع إيران كخوافة تتسبب لها بالكثير من الإشكالات ليس فقط في حدودهما البحرية المشتركة بل في مناطق النفوذ الإيراني في لبنان والعراق وسورية ومناطق أخرى.

يبدو اذاً أن ما يحتاج اليه الأميركيّون في حربهم للأحادية القطبية هو الخليج واوروبا. مع مدى اقتصادي لتصريف البضائع موجود في جنوب شرق آسيا وكندا وأستراليا والخليج واوروبا. وهذا يؤكد ان الاحادية القطبية مستقرة الى زمن طويل، فهل هذا ممكن؟

تعمل الصين بصمت، وتنتقل من مدينة الى اخرى لتروج لسلع رخيصة الثمن في عصر يسوده فقر شديد، يكفي أن دول الأرض تنحو الى الفقر، ما يعني حاجتها الى سلع رخيصة لم تعد موجودة إلا في الصين.

هناك اذاً صراع حاد أميركيّ صيني وسط مراقبة روسية أوروبية تنتظر النتائج لتحديد أدوارها، لكن المشكلة أن هذا الأمر مرتبط بالقدرة على الإنتاج، غير الموجود إلا في أميركا والصين وأوروبا انما من ذوي الجودة العالمية باعتبار أن الحد الأدنى للأجور فيها يفوق الأجور في العالم بأسره.

هناك صراع إذاً حاد أميركيّ – صيني لا ينفك يتطور وقد يبلغ أشده مع تركيز الصين على اختراق البلدان الضعيفة.

فهل بإمكانها تحقيق هذا الإنجاز؟ نعم بإمكان الصين اختراق بلدان العالم الثالث والقسم الفقير من أوروبا ومعظم بلدان جنوب شرق آسيا. وهذا امر قد يحتاج الى مدة طويلة من الزمن لكنه لن يكون بعيد المنال لأن العالم يتّجه الى مزيد من الفقر فيما السلعة الصينيّة جديرة بالاختراق والسيطرة.

بذلك يتركز الصراع الاقتصادي في العالم بين أميركا والصين وأوروبا فتغيب روسيا ومعها معظم البلدان الأخرى، لكنها تحافظ على تفوّقها العسكري الذي قد يزيد عن التفوّق العسكريّ الأميركيّ.

هناك ملاحظة هامة وهي أن روسيا تماماً كالأميركيّين لا تسمح للصين بامتلاك أسلحة نوعيّة، وهذه ليست مفاجأة لأن روسيا مهتمة بالصراع الاقتصادي الصيني الأميركيّ لكنها لا تقبل بتحول الصين قوة اقتصادية عسكرية يصبح بوسعها القفز فوق الأميركيّ، وبالتالي الروسي.

العالم اذاً أمام استمرار كبير للصراع الصيني الأميركيّ وميزته أنه من دون سلاح نوعي تدميري، فالصين تمتلك سلاحاً معتدلاً فهل تذهب نحو صناعة سلاح نوعيّ؟

من الصعوبة أن تذهب نحو هذه الطريقة، لأن غرقها في صناعة السلاح يعني ضرباً كاملاً للمستويات الاقتصادية التي أصبحت مقبولة لديها وتحطيماً للطبقات المتوسطة التي أصبحت تصارع مستويات الطبقات الأوروبية، ولماذا تذهب نحو صناعة السلاح والفارق بينها وبين الأميركيّين في هذا المجال كبير جداً ويحتاج الى بذل جهود صينيّة جبارة لإدراك التعادل.

يتبين بالاستنتاج ان روسيا ليست هدفاً أميركيّاً كاملاً، وان الصين هي الهدف الفعلي الذي يريد الأميركيّون قصّ رأسه لما يسببه لهم من منافسات فعلية في العقدين المقبلين.

Boycott US Products: How To Confront America’s Brutal Practices Economic Wise

Boycott US Products: How To Confront America’s Brutal Practices Economic Wise

Al-Ahed Exclusive

As part of shedding more light on one form of resistance that is able to cause pain to the nation’s enemy, Al-Ahed News managed to have an exclusive interview with the spokeswoman of Boycott US Products [BUP] organization, who underscored that the journey of boycotting begins with a person choosing not to make business with the US.

How did BUP start?

Boycotting has shown its effectivity in a number of causes throughout history; it’s a means for pressure on establishments, companies and governments, the spokeswoman explained. “As we witness the horrors of US military and economic hegemony against many countries around the world, we find ourselves between two choices: either to wallow in silence or assume the duty to take a stance and defend our homelands.”

The United States has enforced economic blockades and sanctions on countries, waged wars and carried out assassinations around the globe. An economic boycott is the way we chose to confront these brutal practices, Ms. Issa emphasized.

BUP participants, countries

We are a group of young people, intellectuals, media professionals and researchers. We share a common goal which is to defend our homelands and confront all unfair practices against us and the rights of our peoples, Ms. Issa said.

“We have several branches in a number of countries such as Sweden, Russia, Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, Iraq, Syria, Azerbaijan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia,” she added.

BUP goal

The US economy to America is what the jugular vein is to the human being: boycotting US products could affect the economy one way or another, which will on the first level enforce the US government to re-examine its practice against nations, the organization’s representative said.

“On another level, it will pressure the American people —as they do not care about their state’s foreign politics; their only concern is the state’s domestic politics and economy— for if we are able to affect the economy through boycott, this will raise awareness among the American people over their government’s aggressive foreign politics which are deemed criminal for their murderous nature.”

Perhaps this will lead the American people to pressure their government to change these policies that are now affecting their economy. “We certainly do not aim to punish a people for their government’s actions but the people must know the consequences of their government’s policies over other nations. We believe in humanity and that people can change the political track of their governments for their brothers/sisters in humanity especially that the American government misleads its citizens through its biased media, keeping them ignorant from the atrocities they commit and the suffering of other people,” she indicated.

Financial support

The organization depends on donations from businessmen who believe in its cause. It accepts donations from people who share its thoughts and empathize with its project.

People’s response

Ms. Issa was clear to point out that reactions vary from one person to another. Some believe in the goals of the movement but view them as impossible to reach. They are still under the effect of the media that the US is a “powerful country that cannot be overpowered nor defeated,” she said, noting that others care about American interest more than their own country.

However, there are people who share our faith and enthusiasm, eagerly working to achieve the goals of the boycott through active participation, Ms. Issa said. 

“They reach out asking “What are American products?” “Give us a list with American products so that we start boycotting.” Such reactions push us to work harder as they increase our faith and fuel the project to continue. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and the journey of boycotting begins with a person choosing not to make business with the US,” she concluded.

More War by Other Means: Sanctioning the Wife of Syria’s President Makes No Sense to Anyone

By Philip Giraldi, Ph.D.
Source: Strategic Culture

January 7, 2021

More sanctions, by all means. More grief and suffering and more people around the world wondering what exactly the United States is doing.

I am a recipient of regular, usual weekly, emails from the Department of the Treasury providing an “Update to OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) and Blocked Persons.” OFAC is the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is tasked with both identifying and managing the financial punishments meted out to those individuals and groups that have been sanctioned by the United States government. A recent update, on November 10th, included “Non-Proliferation Designations; Iran-related Designations.” There were ten items on the list, names of Chinese and Iranian individuals and companies. Those who are “Specially Designated” on the list are subject to having their assets blocked if located in the United States and are also not allowed to engage in any financial transactions that go through U.S. banking channels. As many international banks respect U.S. Treasury “designations” lest they themselves be subjected to secondary sanctions that often means in effect that the individual or group cannot move money in a large part of the global financial marketplace.

The complete SDN list is hundreds of pages long. The Treasury Department defines and justifies OFAC’s mission “As part of its enforcement efforts, OFAC publishes a list of individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries. It also lists individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific. Collectively, such individuals and companies are called ‘Specially Designated Nationals’ or ‘SDNs.’ Their assets are blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.”

In reality, of course, OFAC’s sanctions are highly political. They are clearly a form of economic warfare, particularly when entire sectors of a nation’s economy are blocked or a part of a government itself is listed as has been the case with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Force. Wave after wave of “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran have made it difficult for the country to sell its only major marketable resource, oil, and it has been locked out of most normal financial networks, making it difficult or even impossible to buy food and medicines.

In many cases sanctions have no practical effect but are rather intended to send a message. There have been new sanctions directed against Moscow and Russian government officials have been sanctioned due to their alleged involvement in activities that the United States does not approve of. The sanctions are imposed even though those “specially designated” have no assets in the U.S. and do not engage in any international financial transactions that could be blocked or disrupted. In those cases, the federal government is sending a message to whomever has been sanctioned to warn them that they are being watched and their behavior has become a matter of record. It is basically a form of intimidation.

Whether sanctions actually work is debatable. The example of Cuba, which was sanctioned by the U.S. for nearly sixty years, would suggest not. Some would argue that on the contrary countries with totalitarian regimes would actually improve their behavior if their citizens could travel freely and welcome visitors, providing evidence that foreigners do not pose a threat justifying a police state.

Within the United States government, it is largely accepted that the most powerful advocate of the sanctions regime is Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who has been the driving force behind recent sanctions directed against both China and Iran. If that is so he might well be challenged on one of the most bizarre and basically pointless applications of sanctions in recent years, targeting Asma the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as her family that lives in London and are British citizens. Per Pompeo’s statement on the new sanctions “The Department of State today is imposing sanctions on Asma al-Assad, the wife of Bashar al-Assad, for impeding efforts to promote a political resolution of the Syrian conflict pursuant to Section 2(a)(i)(D) of Executive Order 13894… Asma al-Assad has spearheaded efforts on behalf of the regime to consolidate economic and political power, including by using her so-called charities and civil society organizations.”

But the real kicker is Pompeo’s condemnation of Asma, of Syrian origin but English born and raised, is how he involves her family. Her father-in-law Fawaz is a renowned cardiologist at Cromwell Hospital in South Kensington who was educated in England and has lived there for decades. “In addition, we are sanctioning several members of Asma al-Assad’s immediate family, including Fawaz Akhras, Sahar Otri Akhras, Firas al Akhras, and Eyad Akhras as per Section 2(a)(ii) of EO 13894. The Assad and Akhras families have accumulated their ill-gotten riches at the expense of the Syrian people through their control over an extensive, illicit network with links in Europe, the Gulf, and elsewhere.”

Inevitably, no evidence is provided to support any of the allegations about Asma al-Assad and her English family. Asma’s charities are for real in her war-torn country and she is highly respected and admired by those who know her and are not influenced by U.S. and Israeli propaganda.

In reality, the United States has been trying hard to overthrow the Syrian government since 2004 when the Syria Accountability Act was passed. Much of the heat in Congress behind the passage of the act was generated by the Israel Lobby, which wanted to weaken the regime and reduce its ability to represent a viable military force possibly capable of regaining the occupied Golan Heights. Be that as it may, the United States has been hostile to the country’s government and has frequently called for regime change. To bring that about, the U.S. supported al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups operating against Damascus and American soldiers continue to occupy Syrian oil fields in the southeast portion of the country. The Syrians have also been subjected to waves of sanctions that have done grave damage to their economy. American and Israeli concerns have sometimes been linked to the presence of Damascus’ allies Hezbollah and Iran, both of whom have military units based inside Syria, but the simple fact is that neither Iranians nor Lebanese in any way threaten the vastly superior American and Israeli forces present in the region.

One has to ask why, given the realpolitik playing out in the Middle East, Washington and Pompeo feel compelled to go after Asma al-Assad and her family, apparently to include absurdly blaming relatives living for many years outside of Syria for fueling the war. More sanctions, by all means. More grief and suffering and more people around the world wondering what exactly the United States is doing.

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