The art of being a spectacularly misguided oracle

February 22, 2021

The art of being a spectacularly misguided oracle

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The late Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski for some time dispensed wisdom as an oracle of US foreign policy, side by side with the perennial Henry Kissinger – who, in vast swathes of the Global South, is regarded as nothing but a war criminal.

Brzezinski never achieved the same notoriety. At best he claimed bragging rights for giving the USSR its own Vietnam in Afghanistan – by facilitating the internationalization of Jihad Inc., with all its dire, subsequent consequences.

Over the years, it was always amusing to follow the heights Dr. Zbig would reach with his Russophobia. But then, slowly but surely, he was forced to revise his great expectations. And finally he must have been truly horrified that his perennial Mackinder-style geopolitical fears came to pass – beyond the wildest nightmares.

Not only Washington had prevented the emergence of a “peer competitor” in Eurasia, but the competitor is now configured as a strategic partnership between Russia and China.

Dr. Zbig was not exactly versed in Chinese matters. His misreading of China may be found in his classic A Geostrategy for Eurasia published in – where else – Foreign Affairs in 1997:

Building in Beijing

Although China is emerging as a regionally dominant power, it is not likely to become a global one for a long time. The conventional wisdom that China will be the next global power is breeding paranoia outside China while fostering megalomania in China. It is far from certain that China’s explosive growth rates can be maintained for the next two decades. In fact, continued long-term growth at the current rates would require an unusually felicitous mix of national leadership, political tranquility, social discipline, high savings, massive inflows of foreign investment, and regional stability. A prolonged combination of all of these factors is unlikely.

Dr. Zbig added,

Even if China avoids serious political disruptions and sustains its economic growth for a quarter of a century — both rather big ifs — China would still be a relatively poor country. A tripling of GDP would leave China below most nations in per capita income, and a significant portion of its people would remain poor. Its standing in access to telephones, cars, computers, let alone consumer goods, would be very low.

Oh dear. Not only Beijing hit all the targets Dr. Zbig proclaimed were off limits, but the central government also eliminated poverty by the end of 2020.

The Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping once observed, “at present, we are still a relatively poor nation. It is impossible for us to undertake many international proletarian obligations, so our contributions remain small. However, once we have accomplished the four modernizations and the national economy has expanded, our contributions to mankind, and especially to the Third World, will be greater. As a socialist country, China will always belong to the Third World and shall never seek hegemony.”

What Deng described then as the Third World – a Cold War-era derogatory terminology – is now the Global South. And the Global South is essentially the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on steroids, as in the Spirit of Bandung in 1955 remixed to the Eurasian Century.

Cold Warrior Dr. Zbig was obviously not a Daoist monk – so he could never abandon the self to enter the Dao, the most secret of all mysteries.

Had he been alive to witness the dawn of the Year of the Metal Ox, he might have noticed how China, expanding on Deng’s insights, is de facto applying practical lessons derived from Daoist correlative cosmology: life as a system of interacting opposites, engaging with each other in constant change and evolution, moving in cycles and feedback loops, always mathematically hard to predict with exactitude.

A practical example of simultaneously opening and closing is the dialectical approach of Beijing’s new “dual circulation” development strategy. It’s quite dynamic, relying on checks and balances between increase of domestic consumption and external trade/investments (the New Silk Roads).

Peace is Forever War

Now let’s move to another oracle, a self-described expert of what in the Beltway is known as the “Greater Middle East”: Robert Kagan, co-founder of PNAC, certified warmongering neo-con, and one-half of the famous Kaganate of Nulands – as the joke went across Eurasia – side by side with his wife, notorious Maidan cookie distributor Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, who’s about to re-enter government as part of the Biden-Harris administration.

Kagan is back pontificating in – where else – Foreign Affairs, which published his latest superpower manifesto. That’s where we find this absolute pearl:

That Americans refer to the relatively low-cost military involvements in Afghanistan and Iraq as “forever wars” is just the latest example of their intolerance for the messy and unending business of preserving a general peace and acting to forestall threats. In both cases, Americans had one foot out the door the moment they entered, which hampered their ability to gain control of difficult situations.

So let’s get this straight. The multi-trillion dollar Forever Wars are “relatively low-cost”; tell that to the multitudes suffering the Via Crucis of US crumbling infrastructure and appalling standards in health and education. If you don’t support the Forever Wars – absolutely necessary to preserve the “liberal world order” – you are “intolerant”.

“Preserving a general peace” does not even qualify as a joke, coming from someone absolutely clueless about realities on the ground. As for what the Beltway defines as “vibrant civil society” in Afghanistan, that in reality revolves around millennia-old tribal custom codes: it has nothing to do with some neocon/woke crossover. Moreover, Afghanistan’s GDP – after so much American “help” – remains even lower than Saudi-bombed Yemen’s.

Exceptionalistan will not leave Afghanistan. A deadline of May 1st was negotiated in Doha last year for the US/NATO to remove all troops. That’s not gonna happen.

The spin is already turbocharged: the Deep State handlers of Joe “Crash Test Dummy” Biden will not respect the deadline. Everyone familiar with the New Great Game on steroids across Eurasia knows why: a strategic lily pad must be maintained at the intersection of Central and South Asia to help closely monitor – what else – Brzezinski’s worst nightmare: the Russia-China strategic partnership.

As it stands we have 2,500 Pentagon + 7,000 NATO troops + a whole lot of “contractors” in Afghanistan. The spin is that they can’t leave because the Taliban – which de facto control from 52% to as much as 70% of the whole tribal territory – will take over.

To see, in detail, how this whole sorry saga started, non-oracle skeptics could do worse than check Volume 3 of my Asia Times archives: Forever Wars: Afghanistan-Iraq, part 1 (2001-2004) . Part 2 will be out soon. Here they will find how the multi-trillion dollar Forever Wars – so essential to “preserve the peace” – actually developed on the ground, in total contrast to the official imperial narrative influenced, and defended, by Kagan.

With oracles like these, the US definitely does not need enemies.

Xi and Putin make the case for win-win vs. zero-sum

Xi and Putin make the case for win-win vs. zero-sum

February 02, 2021

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

So the Davos Agenda has come and gone.

That was the virtual Great Reset preview, hosted by Kissinger acolyte cum World Economic Forum (WEF) oracle Herr Klaus Schwab.

Still, corporate/political so-called “leaders” will continue to wax lyrical about the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or its mild spin-offs such as Build Back Better, the favorite slogan of the new White House tenants.

The WEF co-sponsors – from the UN and the IMF to BlackRock, Blackstone and the Carlyle Group – will continue to expand their synchronicity with Lynn Forester de Rothschild and her corporate-heavy Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican – pop Pope Francis at the helm.

And yes, they accept Visa.

Predictably, the two really crucial events at Davos received minimal or non-existent coverage across the wobbly West: the speeches by President Xi and President Putin.

We have already highlighted Xi’s essentials. Aside from arguing a powerful case for multilateralism as the only possible road map to deal with global challenges, Xi stressed nothing substantial may be achieved if the inequality gap between North and South is not reduced.

The best in-depth analysis of Putin’s extraordinary speech , hands down, was provided by Rostislav Ishchenko, whom I had the pleasure to meet in Moscow in 2018.

Ishchenko stresses how, “in terms of scale and impact on historical processes, this is steeper than the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk combined.” The speech, he adds, was totally unexpected, as much as Putin’s stunning intervention at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, “the crushing defeat” imposed on Georgia in 2008, and the return of Crimea in 2014.

Ishchenko also reveals something that will never be acknowledged in the West: “80 people from among the most influential on the planet did not laugh in Putin’s face, as it was in 2007 in Munich, and without noise immediately after his open speech signed up for a closed conference with him.”

Putin’s very important reference to the ominous 1930s – “the inability and unwillingness to find substantive solutions to problems like this in the 20th century led to World War 2 catastrophe” – was juxtaposed with a common sense warning: the necessity of preventing the takeover of global policy by Big Tech , which “are de facto competing with states”.

Xi and Putin’s speeches were de facto complementary – emphasizing sustainable, win-win economic development for all actors, especially across the Global South, coupled with the necessity of a new socio-political contract in international relations.

This drive should be based on two pillars: sovereignty – that is, the good old Westphalian model (and not Great Reset, hyper-concentrated, one world “governance”) and sustainable development propelled by techno-scientific progress (and not techno-feudalism).

So what Putin-Xi proposed, in fact, was a concerted effort to expand the basic foundations of the Russia-China strategic partnership to the whole Global South: the crucial choice ahead is between win-win and the Exceptionalist zero-sum game.

Regime-change that commie!

The Xi-Putin road map is already being examined in excruciating detail by Michael Hudson, for instance in this essay based on the first chapter of his upcoming book Cold War 2.0: The Geopolitical Economics of Finance Capitalism vs. Industrial Capitalism. Many of these themes have been elaborated in a recent conversation/interview between Michael and myself.

The whole Global South is figuring out how the contrast could not be starker between the American model – neoliberalism redux, in the form of turbo-financialization – and East Asia’s productive investment in industrial capitalism.

Alastair Crooke has outlined the dubious “appeal” of the American model, including “asset markets…severed from any connection to economic returns”; markets that “are not free, but Treasury managed”; and “enterprise capitalism…morphed into monopolistic oligarchism”.

The glaring counterpoint to Xi-Putin at Davos has been a so-called “strategy paper” released by NATO think tank The Atlantic Council, pompously titled The Longer Telegram, as if this was as relevant as George Kennan’s 1946 Long Telegram that designed the containment of the USSR.

Well, the least one can say to the anonymous “former senior government official with deep expertise” on China is, “Mr. Anonymous, You’re No George Kennan”. At best, we’re dealing with a sub-Mike Pompeo with a massive hangover.

Amidst a tsunami of platitudes, we learn that China is a “revisionist power” that “presents a serious problem for the whole of the democratic world”; and that the Chinese leadership better get its act together and operate “within the US-led liberal international order rather than building a rival order”.

The usual toxic mix of arrogance and condescension totally gives away the game, which boils down to “deterring and preventing China from crossing US red lines”, and applying good, old Kissingerian Divide and Rule between Russia and China.

Oh, and don’t forget regime change: if the “strategy” works, “Xi will in time be replaced by the more traditional form of Communist Party leadership.”

If this is what passes for intellectual firepower in Atlanticist circles, Beijing and Moscow don’t even need enemies.

The Asian center of gravity

Martin Jacques, now a visiting professor at Tsinghua University and a senior fellow at the China Institute of Fudan University, is one of the very few Westerners who actually has real “expertise” on China.

He’s now focusing on the main battlefield in the evolving US-China clash: Europe. Jacques notes that, “the trend toward a growing distance between Europe and the US will be slow, tortuous, conflict-riddled, and painful.” We are now “in new territory. American decline means that it has increasingly less to offer Europe.”

As an example, let’s jump cut to a distinct feature of the BRI/New Silk Roads and one of its key hubs, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): the Digital Silk Road .

In partnership with Huawei, fiber optic cable is being laid out all across Pakistan – as I saw for myself when I traveled the Karakoram Highway, the northern part of CPEC. This fiber optic cable all the way from the Karakoram to Balochistan will link with the Pakistan-East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) submarine cable in the Arabian Sea.

The end result will be high-end connectivity between a host of BRI-participating nations and Europe – as the Mediterranean section is already being laid, running from Egypt to France. Before the end of 2021, the whole 15,000 km-long fiber optic cable will be online.

This shows that BRI is not as much about building roads, dams and high-speed rail networks but especially the Digital Silk Road, intimately connected with state of the art Chinese cyber-tech.

It’s no wonder Jacques fully understands how “the gravitational pull of China, and Asia more generally, is drawing Europe eastward. Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.”

In ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age, an extraordinary book published way back in 1998, the late, great Andre Gunder Frank exhaustively smashed Eurocentrism, demonstrating how the rise of the West was a mere historical blip, and a consequence of the decline of the East around 1800.

Now, only two centuries later, the planet’s center of gravity is back in Asia, as it’s been for most of recorded history. The fate of those blind to the evidence and unable to adapt is to telegram themselves to utter irrelevance.

Baghdad on the Potomac: Welcome to the Blue Zone

Via The Saker

Baghdad on the Potomac: Welcome to the Blue Zone

January 19, 2021

The star of the Joe and Kammy Regime Change Show

The season opening of the Joe and Kammy Regime Change Show could not be a more appropriate roomful of mirrors reflecting the self-described US “political elite”.

During the 2000s, I came face to face with Baghdad’s Green Zone multiple times. I always stayed, and worked, in the hyper-volatile Red Zone – as you may check in my 2007 book Red Zone Blues.

We knew then that blowback would be inevitable.

But still, we could never have imagined such a graphic simulacrum: the Green Zone fully replicated in the heart of imperial D.C. – complete with walls, barbed wire, multiple checkpoints, heavily armed guards.

That is even more significant because it ends a full “new world order” geopolitical cycle: the empire started bombing – and cluster bombing – Iraq 30 years ago. Desert Storm was launched in January 17, 1991.

The Blue Zone is now “protected” by a massive 26,000 plus troop surge – way more than Afghanistan and Iraq combined. The Forever Wars – which you may now relieve through my archives – have come back full circle.

Just like an ordinary Iraqi was not allowed inside the Green Zone, no ordinary American is allowed inside the Blue Zone.

Just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone represent none other than themselves.

The D.C. Blue Zone map

And just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone are viewed by half of the population in the Red Zone as an occupying force.

Only satire is capable of doing poetic justice to what is, de facto, the Potemkin inauguration of a hologram. So welcome to the most popular president in history inaugurated in secret, and fearful of his own, fake, Praetorian Guard. The Global South has seen this grisly show before – in endless reruns. But never as a homegrown Hollywood flick.

When in doubt, blame China

Meanwhile, trapped inside the Blue Zone, the White House has been busy compiling an interminable list of accomplishments.

Multitudes will go berserk relieving the appalling foreign policy disasters, courtesy of American Psycho Mike Pompeo; debunking the official narrative partially or as a whole; and even agreeing with the odd “accomplishment”.

Yet close attention should be paid to a key item: “Colossal Rebuilding of the Military”.

This is what is going to play a key role beyond January 20 – as Gen Flynn has been extremely busy showing evidence to the military, at all levels, of how “compromised” is the new Hologram-in-Chief.

And then there’s the rolling, never-ending November 3 drama. Blame should be duly apportioned. Impeachment, digital witch hunts, rounding up “domestic terrorists”, that is not enough. “Foreign interference” is a must.

Enter Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe, adamantly stating that “the People’s Republic of China sought to influence the 2020 U.S. federal elections.”

Ratcliffe was referring to a report sent to Congress on January 7 by the DNI’s Chief of the Solutions Division, or analytic ombudsman Barry Zulauf, side by side with an assessment about “foreign interference”.

A legitimate question is why it took them so long to finish this report. And it gets wackier: the full intel on the report about foreign interference was scotched by none other than CIA higher-ups.

The ombudsman states that the groups of analysts working on Russian and Chinese interference used different standards. Russia, of course, was guilty from the start: a categorical imperative. China had the benefit of the doubt.

Ratcliffe actually states that some analysts refused to blame Beijing for election interference because they were – what else – Never Trumpers.

So Langley, we’ve got a problem. Pompeus “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Minimus is CIA. He qualifies the Chinese Communist Party as the greatest evil in the history of mankind. How would he not influence his minions to produce, by any means necessary, any instance of Chinese election interference?

At the same time, for the Dem Deep State faction, Russia is perpetually guilty of…whatever.

This rift inside the Deep State roomful of mirrors delightfully reverberates the Blue Zone/Red Zone schism.

Needless to add, in both the ombudsman’s report and Ratcliffe’s letter, there is absolutely no hard evidence of Chinese interference.

As for Russia, apart from election interference – once again, no evidence – the Dem Deep State Dementia apparatus is still busy trying to blame Moscow also for 1/6. The latest gambit centers on a MAGA chick who may have stolen Pelosi’s laptop from her office at the Capitol to sell it to the SVR, Russian foreign intel.

The whole Global South – Baghdad’s Green Zone included – just can’t get enough of the greatest show on earth. Do they sell bananas in the Blue Zone?

‘Times are a Changing’: Launch of Jeremy Corbyn’s Peace & Justice Project

British politician Jeremy Corbyn. (Photo: File)

By Ronnie Kasrils

I salute Jeremy Corbyn’s Peace & Justice initiative which could not be more timely, and I am proud to be part of it.

We live in troubled times: the raging pandemic, rise of neo-fascist forces; the rapacious neoliberal global system.

For so many, survival against war, police brutality, starvation, disease, collapsing economies, refugee camps, is the stark reality.

All of this is compounded by the climate crisis; environmental pollution; collapse of food and water security.

The pandemic has exposed to the light of day too often hidden or denied chasms of inequality both within and between nations and peoples around the world — both in the disproportionate impact on the poorest, most vulnerable, people of color, in getting the virus, and especially in the inequities of access to the vaccine.

The rich grow obscenely richer, the poor grow poorer. Less than one percent owning more than half the world’s population.

Yet “the times are a changing”; Bob Dylan sang at the time of the civil rights and anti-colonial liberation struggles; and the melody continues to rhyme with history – reflected to this day by the pressure of billions across the planet demanding a better life.

Two centuries ago the poet Shelley wrote in the wake of the Peterloo massacre you are the many they are the few”.

Not long after, Marx and Engels pointed to the consequences of the increasing concentration of the means of production and wealth in fewer and fewer hands. Then, as now, the challenge was to understand the world in order to change it.

To do that we must not ignore the repercussions of colonial conquest as a prelude to the rise of the capitalist era.

The hangover of that colonial past exists: in power relations between peoples and nations; between global north and south; in the neo-colonial masquerade of the Bolsonaro’s, Modi’s and El Sisi’s trying to subvert progress.

Progress such as the Black Lives Matter movement, which is energized not only by revolt against police crimes but to overturn the weight and consequence of centuries of slavery, white supremacy and inequality.

Struggle for change, as ever, requires an understanding of the material conditions of political and economic life, to avoid reductionism into identity politics and racial or gender essentialism, at the expense of class-conscious clarity.

Likewise, loser Trump’s rage and the mob that attacked the Capitol building are a consequence of America’s past, and symptomatic of the frustration of white supremacists whose psychosis, as in the 1930s, is stoked by demagogues.

Enormous irony is seen in the double standards of the “Free World”. On the one hand: unbelievable shock that the USA’s seat of democracy has been assaulted. On the other: the sanguine promotion of military intervention, neo-colonial coups, punitive sanctions abroad in the name of that democracy.

To control the Middle East, Israel – a colonizing project – receives massive US military and financial aid. Disregard for Palestinian rights is reflected in Trump’s Deal of the Century and the so-called “normalization” between Israel and corrupt Arab fiefdoms.

If Biden is to commit to democracy, he must quit the double standards of previous administrations and apply the visions of a Franklin D Roosevelt and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Biden needs to apply and significantly extend a “New Deal” project which in FDR’s day cut black Americans short; he must commit to world peace in recognition of the national and human rights of all peoples; uphold international law under the writ of the United Nations – an institution whose authority the US has systematically undermined.

And as King’s birthday is commemorated this weekend, Biden needs to note King’s most important speech – “Beyond Vietnam” which described the US government as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world”, and crucially identified the three interlocking evils that must be challenged – systemic racism, poverty, and militarism.

For the Corbyn Project to succeed it must become an international champion, furthering both FDR and King’s visions – and connect with movements for peace and justice throughout the world.

From the multitude that filled the streets opposing the invasion of Iraq, to the Arab Spring and BLM rebellion; waves of protest are signaling a new dawn. In India alone, over 250 million participated in strikes and protests last year. We must spare no effort in making this rising tsunami unstoppable.

And if we wish to talk about courage under fire, note the men, women and children of Palestine, facing the bombs and bullets of the Israeli Defense Force in their peaceful protests, refusing to submit.

Like others around the world, we South Africans have developed a vibrant civil society, with grassroots movements, encouraging our and all governments to act decisively in tackling the fault lines of the 21st Century, as we did in the struggle against Apartheid in the previous century:

For people’s involvement in the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine and global vaccine equality;

For the protection of the eco-system and food security through a Climate Justice Charter and Global Food Sovereignty Agenda;

For a global anti-racist, anti-war, pro-peace platform. Together we must defeat a second coming of fascism – for in Berthold Brecht’s words (referring a system, not the gender) – “The beast is on heat again.”

No Pasaran! They shall not pass. This is a time when, in Seamus Heaney’s words, “hope and history rhyme.” Through people’s power, in unity, action, and international solidarity, we will win. For people and the planet. For the many, not the few!

– Ronnie Kasrils, veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, and South Africa’s former Minister for Intelligence Services, activist and author. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

How West, Central and South Asia are interconnecting

How West, Central and South Asia are interconnecting

January 02, 2021

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted on Asia Times

It’s one of those quintessential journeys that make people dream: Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad by train. Let’s call it ITI.

Soon, in early 2021, ITI will become a reality. But, initially, just as a freight train. The deal was recently sealed at the 10th meeting of the transport and communication ministers of ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) in Istanbul.

ITI’s official name is actually the ECO Container Train. Trial runs started in 2019. The 6,500 km overland journey should now take 11 days – compared to the roughly 45 days across sealanes for trade between Western Europe and Pakistan.

ECO is a very interesting – and strategic – organization, virtually unknown outside of Asia, uniting Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, the five Central Asian “stans”, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan.

Some of these players are also members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); some are part of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU); and almost all of them are partners to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

They have come up with a ECO Vision 2025 that emphasizes connectivity as a springboard to “social and economic development”, privileging trade, transportation, energy and tourism. ECO seeks to de facto integrate West, Central and South Asia plus the Caucasus. For all practical purposes, ECO straddles most of the New Silk Roads developing across a large part of Eurasia.

That pesky Sultan, again

The ITI/ECO Container Train will be yet another layer of connectivity running in parallel to the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, centered on the Caucasus, and as we have seen in a previous Turkey/New Great Game column, a key plank of Ankara’s trade strategy.

Soon, ITI/ECO will also link with the European rail networks via that 76-km long engineering marvel – the undersea Marmaray railway tunnel in Istanbul. Of course opportunities abound for branching out to parts of the Middle East. By the end of the decade, ITI/ECO may well go high-speed rail – think Chinese investment.

The fascinating counterpoint to the Marmaray undersea tunnel is the Trans-Caspian: the actual connection between the BTK in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

As you can see here , the strategically designed layout of the ports allows instant roll on-roll off from the cargo trains to huge freight ferries.

Iran, for instance, is building a roll on-roll off shipping port in Bandar-e Anzalī on the Caspian Sea – which will be used to export merchandise but also oil and gas transiting via Russia or Kazakhstan, both Caspian nations, and thus bypassing any further blockade imposed by the US.

The interlink of ITI/ECO with BTK will solidify yet another important East-West trade corridor. Apart from the northern corridors linking with the Trans-Siberian, every East-West trade corridor across Eurasia goes through Turkey. That gives President Erdogan a wealth of options – as Beijing knows too well. The Xian-Istanbul corridor is as important as the Xian-Kazakhstan-Russia corridor.

Our previous Turkey/New Great Game column provoked serious debate in Istanbul. Political analyst Ceyda Karan remarked Erdogan “has only one card: Turkish geopolitics. He doesn’t care how many soldiers will die in Libya or Syria. He doesn’t care about the Turkish people”.

Esteemed Professor Korkut Boratav, now a nonagenarian eminence in macroeconomics, wondered how I could “ascribe those important roles to our chief”, referencing Erdogan.

Well, it’s all about playing geoeconomics. Erdogan certainly has leveraged his Rolodex across Eurasia, in terms of foreign policy, going no holds barred in the manipulation of all sorts of proxy gangs practicing all manner of extremisms. But ultimately what The Sultan really needs is trade and foreign investment in his battered economy.

So trade connectivity is essential. But the problem always remains his own strategy. Supporting, feeding and weaponizing an army of ISIS/Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Uighur/Caucasian jihadi proxies is not exactly a sound business strategy.

Erdogan seems to be everywhere – Libya, Azerbaijan, the Turkish-northwest Syrian border. Strategists in Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Islamabad of course are asking questions: what for, exactly?

There’s no realistic geoeconomic scenario for him to bypass Russia. He may use Azerbaijan as a sort of de luxe messenger between Turkey and Israel – and perhaps, subsequently, profit from Israel’s courtship of Persian Gulf monarchies. After all, as far as allies in the Arab world are concerned, the only player he can really count on is Qatar. Follow the money: Doha by itself won’t finance an economic boom in Turkey.

Let a million trade corridors bloom

Silly rumors about the demise of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are greatly exaggerated – considering they are a sub-section of American propaganda. CPEC is a complex, very long-term project whose implementation, according to the Chinese timetable, has not even started.

What Islamabad must be aware of is how much sexier, in comparison, is Tehran, when seen with Beijing’s eyes. Pakistan counts mostly on Imran Khan’s efforts. Iran has a wealth of oil, gas, gold and an array of crucial minerals. As India famously shot itself in the back – once again – by de facto abdicating from investing in Chabahar port in Iran, China stepped in. The $400 billion China-Iran deal is way more comprehensive than CPEC, at roughly $64 billion.

Back on the road, the good news is Iran-Pakistan seem to be focused on increasing connectivity. It boggles the mind that until recently there was only one crossing along their 900 km border. Finally they decided to open two more border gateways.

This is hugely important, because the first gateway is in ultra-sensitive Sistan-Balochistan province – constantly susceptible to Salafi-jihadi infiltrators – and only 70 km away from strategic Gwadar port.

As far as tourism goes – what the Chinese describe as “people to people exchange” – that’s an extra dimension, because Pakistanis can now easily cross the border, reach Chabahar, and then go by train to Iran’s holy sites Najaf and Karbala.

Finally, there’s the all-important Russian factor – which always commands Erdogan’s undivided attention.

Arguably Moscow’s top strategic priority is to decouple the EU from any US/NATO-imposed Dr. Strangelove impulses. So a EU trade alliance with Beijing – now in progress, via their investment treaty – cannot but be a win-win, as it spells out closer European integration with the Eurasian century, driven by China but with Russia, crucially, positioned as the premier security provider.

And as President Putin once again made it clear in his year end’s vows, BRI and the EAEU are increasingly merging.

Quite a few readers have noted that Russia has now achieved the tripartite capacity that Kissinger once declared essential for US strategic leadership: mastery of weapons exports; control of energy flows; and agriculture exports. Not to mention diplomatic finesse – widely respected all across Eurasia and the Global South.

Meanwhile, Eurasia goes with the flow: let a million trade corridors – Trans-Siberian, BTK, ITI/ECO – bloom.

China’s Economy of Peace

China’s Economy of Peace

December 14, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

In the context of China’s webinar on 14 December 2020, on the topic of “China’s New Development Paradigm and High-Quality Belt and Road Cooperation”, organized by the China Center for Contemporary World Studies, International Department of CPC Central Committee and the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, my presentation was on China’s Economy of Peace.
—–
China, about a decade ago, has deliberately embarked on an Economy of Peace. A strategy that China pursues, unimpressed by constant aggression from the west, which are mostly led by the United States. Is it perhaps this Chinese steadfast, non-aggressive way of constant forward-creation and embracing more and more allies on her way – that has made China such a success story? Overcoming violence by non-violence is engrained in 5000 years of Chinese history.

Despite relentlessly repeated assertions by the west, China’s objective is not to conquer the world or to “replace” the United States as the new empire. Quite to the contrary. The alliance China-Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is seeking a multipolar world, with more justice for all – i. e. fairer trade in the sense of “win-win”, where all parties are benefitting equally. This is also a policy pursued by the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, the 15-country trade agreement signed at the 37th ASEAN Summit – 11 November 2020, in Vietnam, as well as by President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by the President himself.

China does not coerce cooperation – but offers peaceful cooperation. In 2014, Mr. Xi traveled to Germany to offer Madame Merkel for Germany to become – at that time – the western most link to the BRI, or the New Silk Road. This would have been an opening for all of Europe. However, Madame Merkel, having to follow Washington’s mandates – did not respond positively. President Jinping returned to Beijing, no hard feelings. And China continued her persistent course of connecting the countries of our Mother Earth with transport infrastructure, inter-country industrial ventures, education and research projects, as well as cultural exchanges to enrich the world – all the while respecting individual countries’ monetary and political sovereignty.

Many country leaders from Africa and the Global South in general express openly their contentment and satisfaction to have China as a partner and for dealing with China on the basis of equals. With the west, especially the US, there is bullying and coercion, unequal contracts, and often total disrespect for legally signed contracts.
——

Meanwhile, the west lives in a permanent state of hypocrisy. It bashes China – actually without any reason, other than that the dying Anglo-Saxon-American empire mandates it to its partners, especially the European NATO allies – under threats of sanctions. Unfortunately, spineless Europe mostly complies.

Yet, having outsourced – for economic and profit reasons – most production processes to reliable, efficient and cheaper-labor China, the west depends very much on China for its supply chains. The covid-crisis, first wave, has clearly shown how dependent the west is on goods produced in China from sophisticated electronic equipment to pharmaceuticals.

As an example: About 90% or more of antibiotics or ingredients for antibiotics are Made in China. Similar percentages apply to other vital western imports. – But China does not “punish” or sanction. China creates and moves forward offering her alliance to the rest of the world.

China has also developed a new digital international Renminbi (RMB) or Yuan that may soon be rolled out for use of monetary transactions – of all kinds, including transfers, trade and even as a reserve currency. The yuan is already an ever-stronger reserve currency. This trend will be further enhanced through the RCEP and BRI.

Of course, the US is afraid that their dollar-hegemony they have built up since WWII with Fiat money backed by nothing, may suffer as international trading currency which the Anglo-American banking cartel practically imposed on the world, will come to an end; and the US-dollar’s standing as a reserve currency may rapidly decline.

And yes, the yuan will gradually replace the US dollar as reserve currency – and this – because countries’ treasurers realize that the yuan is a stable, gold-backed currency, also supported by a solid economy – the only economy of any importance in the world that will grow in the covid-year 2020, by perhaps as much as 3.5%, while western economies will falter badly. Predictions are dire for the US and Europe, between 12% (EU predictions) and up to 30% / 35% (US FED prediction).

The US dollar and its dominion over the international transfer system through SWIFT – has been used massively for sanctioning non-compliant countries, including totally illegal confiscation of assets – even countries reserve assets – case in point is Venezuela.

Escaping this coercive dollar dominion is the dream of many countries. Therefore, trading, investing and dealing with the Chinese currency, will be a welcome opportunity for many sovereign nations.
—-
China’s economic achievements and forward-looking perspectives may be summarized in two major events or global programs, the just signed free trade agreement with 14 countries – the 10 ASEAN countries, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, altogether, including China 15 countries. The so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was in negotiations during eight years – and achieved to pull together a group of countries for free trade, of some 2.2 billion people, commanding about 30% of the world’s GDP. This is a never before reached agreement in size, value and tenor.

In addition to the largest such trade agreement in human history, it also links to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or One Belt, One Road (OBOR), which in itself comprises already more than 130 countries and more than 30 international organizations. Also, China and Russia have a longstanding strategic partnership, containing bilateral agreements that too enter into this new trade fold – plus the countries of the Central Asia Economic Union (CAEU), consisting mostly of former Soviet Republics, are also integrated into this eastern trade block.

The myriad of agreements and sub-agreements between Asian-Pacific countries that will cooperate with RCEP, is bound together by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai as an intergovernmental organization, composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO is little known and little talked-about in the west.

The purpose of the SCO is to ensure security and maintain stability across the vast Eurasian region, join forces to counteract emerging challenges and threats, and enhance trade, as well as cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

Much of the funding for RCEP and BRI projects may come in the form of low-interest loans from China’s Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and other Chinese and participating countries’ national funding sources. In the hard times emerging from the covid crisis, many countries may need grant assistance to be able to recover as quickly as possible from their huge socioeconomic losses, created by the pandemic. In this sense, it is likely that the new Silk Road may support a special “Health Road” across the Asian Continent.

The RCEP may, as “byproduct”, integrate the huge Continent of Eurasia that spans all the way from western Europe to what is called Asia and covering the Middle East as well as North Africa, of some 55 million square kilometers (km2), and a population of about 5.4 billion people, close to 70% of the world population – See map (Wikipedia).

The crux of the RCEP agreement’s trade deals is that they will be carried out in local currencies and in yuan – no US-dollars. The RCEP is a massive instrument for dedollarizing, primarily the Asia-Pacific Region, and gradually the rest of the world.

Much of the BRI infrastructure investments, or New Silk Road, may be funded by other currencies than the US-dollar. China’s new digital Renminbi (RMB) or yuan may soon become legal tender for international payments and transfers, and will drastically reduce the use of the US-dollar.

The US-dollar is already in massive decline. When some 20-25 years ago about 90% of all worldwide held reserve-assets were denominated in US-dollars, this proportion has shrunk by today to below 60% – and keeps declining. The emerging international RMB / yuan, together with a RCEP- and BRI-strengthened Chinese economy, may further contribute to a dedollarization, as well as dehegemonization of the United States in the world. And as said before, the international digital RMB / yuan may progressively also be replacing the US-dollar, as well as euro reserves in countries’ coffers around the globe. The US-dollar may eventually return to be just a local US-currency, as it should be.

Under China’s philosophy, the unilateral world may transform into a multi-polar world. The RCEP and New Silk Road combination are rapidly pursuing this noble objective, a goal that will bring much more equilibrium into the world.

Maybe for a few years more to come, the west, led by the US – and always backed by the Pentagon and NATO, may not shy away from threatening countries participating in China’s projects, but to no avail. Under Tao philosophy, China will move forward with her partners, like steadily flowing water, constantly creating, avoiding obstacles, in pursuit of her honorable goal – a world in Peace with a bright common future.

*****
Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; New Eastern Outlook (NEO), Information Clearing House (ICH) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

December 09, 2020

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

Seven years after being launched by President Xi Jinping, first in Astana and then in Jakarta, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) increasingly drive the American plutocratic oligarchy completely nuts.

The relentless paranoia about the Chinese “threat” has much to do with the exit ramp offered by Beijing to a Global South permanently indebted to IMF/World Bank exploitation.

In the old order, politico-military elites were routinely bribed in exchange for unfettered corporate access to their nations’ resources, coupled with go-go privatization schemes and outright austerity (“structural adjustment”).

This went on for decades until BRI became the new game in town in terms of infrastructure building – offering an alternative to the imperial footprint.

The Chinese model allows all manner of parallel taxes, sales, rents, leases – and profits. This means extra sources of income for host governments – with an important corollary: freedom from the hardcore neoliberal diktats of IMF/World Bank. This is what is at the heart of the notorious Chinese “win-win”.

Moreover, BRI’s overall strategic focus on infrastructure development not only across Eurasia but also Africa encompasses a major geopolitical game-changer. BRI is positioning vast swathes of the Global South to become completely independent from the Western-imposed debt trap. For scores of nations, this is a matter of national interest. In this sense BRI should be regarded as the ultimate post-colonialist mechanism.

BRI in fact bristles with Sun Tzu simplicity applied to geoeconomics. Never interrupt the enemy when he’s making a mistake – in this case enslaving the Global South via perpetual debt. Then use his own weapons – in this case financial “help” – to destabilize his preeminence.

Hit the road with the Mongols

None of the above, of course, is bound to serenade the paranoid volcano, which will keep spitting out a 24/7 deluge of red alerts deriding BRI as “poorly defined, badly mismanaged and visibly failing”. “Visibly”, of course, only for the exceptionalists.

Predictably, the paranoid volcano feeds on a toxic mix of arrogance and crass ignorance of Chinese history and culture.

Xue Li, director of the Department of International Strategy at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has shown how “after the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in 2013, China’s diplomacy has changed from maintaining a low profile to becoming more proactive in global affairs. But the policy of ‘partnership rather than alliance’ has not changed, and it is unlikely to change in the future. The indisputable fact is that the system of alliance diplomacy preferred by Western countries is the choice of a few countries in the world, and most countries choose non-aligned diplomacy. Besides, the vast majority of them are developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.”

Atlanticists are desperate because the “system of alliance diplomacy” is on the wane. The overwhelming majority of the Global South is now being reconfigured as a newly energized Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – as if Beijing had found a way to revive the Spirit of Bandung in 1955.

Chinese scholars are fond of quoting a 13th century imperial handbook, according to which policy changes should be “beneficial for the people”. If they only benefit corrupt officials, the result is luan (“chaos”). Thus the 21st century Chinese emphasis on pragmatic policy instead of ideology.

Rivaling informed parallels with the Tang and Ming dynasties, it’s actually the Yuan dynasty that offers a fascinating introduction to the inner workings of BRI.

So let’s go for a short trip back to the 13th century, when Genghis Khan’s immense empire was replaced by four khanates.

We had the Khanate of the Great Khan – which turned into the Yuan dynasty – ruling over China, Mongolia, Tibet, Korea and Manchuria.

We had the Ilkhanate, founded by Hulagu (the conqueror of Baghdad) ruling Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, parts of Anatolia and the Caucasus.

We had the Golden Horde ruling the northwestern Eurasian steppe, from eastern Hungary to Siberia, and most of all the Russian principalities.

And we had the Chaghadaid Khanate (named after Genghis Khan’s second son) ruling Central Asia, from eastern Xinjiang to Uzbekistan, until Tamerlane’s rise to power in 1370.

This era saw an enormous acceleration of trade along the Mongol Silk Roads.

All these Mongol-controlled governments privileged local and international commerce. That translated into a boom in markets, taxes, profits – and prestige. The khanates competed to get the best trading minds. They laid out the necessary infrastructure for transcontinental travel (13th century BRI, anyone?) And they opened the way for multiple East-West, trans-civilizational exchanges.

When the Mongols conquered the Song in southern China they even expanded overland Silk Roads trade into Maritime Silk Roads. The Yuan dynasty was now controlling China’s powerful southern ports. So when there was any kind of turbulence overland, trade switched to the seas.

The key axes were through the Indian Ocean, between south China and India, and between India and the Persian Gulf or the Red Sea.

Cargo was traveling overland to Iran, Iraq, Anatolia and Europe; by sea, through Egypt and the Mediterranean, to Europe; and from Aden to east Africa.

A slave trade maritime route between the Golden Horde’s ports on the Black Sea and Egypt – run by Muslim, Italian and Byzantine traders – was also in effect. The Black Sea ports transited luxury merchandise arriving overland from the East. And caravans traveled inland from the Indian coast during dangerous monsoon seasons.

This frantic commercial activity was the proto-BRI, which reached its apex in the 1320s and 1330s all the way to the collapse of the Yuan dynasty in 1368 in parallel to the Black Death in Europe and the Middle East. The key point: all the overland and maritime roads were interlinked. 21st century BRI planners benefit from a long historical memory.

“Nothing will fundamentally change”

Now compare this wealth of trade and cultural interchange with the pedestrian, provincial, anti-BRI and overall anti-China paranoia in the US. What we get is the State Dept. under exiting Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo issuing a paltry diatribe on the “China challenge”. Or the US Navy recommissioning the First Fleet, probably to be based in Perth, to “have an Indo-Pac footprint” and thus maintain “maritime dominance in an era of great power competition”.

More ominously, here is a summary of the humongous, 4,517-page, $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2021, just approved by the House by 335 to 78 (Trump threatened to veto it).

This is about funding for the Pentagon next year – to be supervised in theory by the new Raytheon General, Lloyd Austin, the last “commanding General” of the US in Iraq who run CENTCOM from 2013 to 2016 and then retired for some juicy revolving door gigs such as the board of Raytheon and crucially, the board of ultra-toxic air, water, soil polluter Nucor.

Austin is a revolving door character who supported the war on Iraq, the destruction of Libya, and supervised the training of Syrian “moderate rebels” – a.k.a. recycled al-Qaeda – who killed countless Syrian civilians.

The NDAA, predictably, is heavy on “tools to deter China”.

That will include:

1. A so-called “Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), code for containment of China in the Indo-Pacific by boosting the Quad.

2. Massive counter-intel operations.

3. An offensive against “debt diplomacy”. That’s nonsense: BRI deals are voluntary, on a win-win basis, and open to renegotiation. Global South nations privilege them because loans are low-interest and long-term.

4. Restructuring global supply chains which lead to the US. Good luck with that. Sanctions on China will remain in place.

5. Across the board pressure forcing nations not to use Huawei 5G.

6. Reinforcing Hong Kong and Taiwan as Trojan Horses to destabilize China.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has already set the tone: “Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically”. Be afraid, very much afraid of the evil Chinese Communist Party, “the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II”.

There you go: Xi is the new Hitler.

So nothing will fundamentally change after January 2021 – as officially promised by Biden-Harris: it’s gonna be Hybrid War on China all over again, deployed all over the spectrum, as Beijing has perfectly understood.

So what? China’s industrial production will continue to grow while in the US it will continue to decline. There will be more breakthroughs by Chinese scientists such as the photonic quantum computing – which performed 2.6 billion years of computation in 4 minutes. And the 13th century Yuan dynasty spirit will keep inspiring BRI.

Flying Dragon, Crashing Eagle

Flying Dragon, Crashing Eagle

November 23, 2020

by Pepe Escobar and first posted at Asia Times

Four geoeconomic summits compressed in one week tell the story of where we stand in these supremely dystopian times.

The (virtual) signing of RCEP in Vietnam was followed by the equally virtual BRICS meeting hosted by Moscow, the APEC meeting hosted by Malaysia, and the G20 this past weekend hosted by Saudi Arabia.

Cynics have not failed to note the spectacular theater of the absurd of having the Top 20 – at least in theory – economies discussing what is arguably the turning point in the world-system linked to a beheading-friendly desert oil hacienda with a 7th century mentality.

The Riyadh declaration did its best to lift the somber planetary mood, vowing to deploy “all available policy tools” (no precise details) to contain Covid-19 and heroically “save” the global economy by “advancing” global pandemic preparedness, vaccine development and distribution – in tandem with debt relief – for the Global South.

Not a peep about The Great Reset – the Brave New World scheme concocted by Herr Schwab of Davos and fully supported by the IMF, Big Tech, transnational Big Capital interests and the oh so benign Prince Charles. Meanwhile, off the record, G20 sherpas moaned about the lack of real global governance and multiple attacks on multilateralism.

And not a peep as well about the real life vaccine war between the expensive Western candidates – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca – and the much cheaper Russia-China versions – Sputnik V and Sinovac.

What seems to be the case is that any agenda – sinister or otherwise – fits the one-size-fits-all vow by the G20 to provide “opportunities of the 21st century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers.”

The House of Xi

At the G20, President Xi Jinping did not waste the chance – after RCEP, BRICS and APEC – to once again emphasize China’s priorities: multilateralism, support for WTO reform, ample international cooperation on vaccine research and production.

But then, in tandem with reducing tariffs and facilitating the trade of crucial medical supplies, Xi proposed a global health QR code – a sound way to restore global travel and trade: “While containing the virus, we need to restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains.”

Predictably, there were howls about neo-Orwellian intrusion, comparing the QR code with the exceptionally misunderstood Chinese credit system. Herr Schwab’s Great Reset in fact proposes something similar, with even more neo-Orwellian overtones, disguised under an innocent “Covid Pass” app, or highly secure “health passport”.

What Xi has proposed amounts to just a mutual recognition of health certificates, issued by different nations, based on nucleic acid tests. No gene altering vaccines coupled with nanochips. These QR codes, incorporated to health apps, are already used for domestic travel in China.

Chinese officials have made it very clear that Beijing has been working as the representative of the Global South inside the G20. That’s multilateralism in action. And the multilateralist drive extends from RCEP – signed between 15 nations – to the brilliant Sun Tzu maneuver of China now accepting even the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the successor of the Obama-promoted and Trump-detonated TPP.

This revival – a case of Make TPP Chinese Again – can be envisaged because Beijing not only has mastered how to contain Covid-19 but is also recovering in lightning speed. China will be the only major economy growing in 2020 – de facto leading the world to a tentative post-Covid paradigm.

What the APEC meeting made crystal clear is that with East Asia graphically hitting the economic limelight, as seen with RCEP, much vaunted US “leadership” inevitably diminishes.

APEC promoted a so-called Putrajaya Vision 2040, condensing an “open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful” Asia-Pacific all the way to 2040. That neatly ties in with the three accumulated five-year Chinese plans all the way to 2035, approved last month at the CCP plenum in Beijing.

The emphasis, once again, is on multilateralism and an open global economy.

Few are more capable to capture the moment than Professor Wang Yiwei at the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University, who wrote the best Chinese book on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Wang stresses how China is in a period of “strategic opportunity” and is now “the most powerful leader of globalization”. China’s emphasis on multilateralism will “activate the connectivity and vitality of a trade platform like RCEP”.

Stranger than fiction

Now compare all of the above with Trump at the G20 tweeting about the election dystopia and privileging golfing instead of discussing Covid-19 containment.

And then there’s

The Elements of the China Challenge, the new 74-page delusional epic concocted by the office of secretary Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo.

Diplomatic howls comparing it with the notorious George Kennan “long telegram” that codified the containment of the USSR in the Cold War are nonsense. Chinese Foreign Ministry reaction was more to the point: this was concocted by some “living fossils of the Cold War” and is doomed to end up “being consigned to the dustbin of history”.

President Xi Jinping, at RCEP, BRICS, APEC and the G20, concisely laid out the Chinese case: multilateralism, international cooperation on multiple fields, an open global economy, due representation of Global South’s interests.

As we wait for a set of imponderables all the way to January 20, 2021, perhaps an angular approach to what may lie ahead for the world economy is best offered by fiction.

Enter Billions, season 5, episode 2, dialogue written by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Axe: “You know they call us traders ‘gamblers’. The world’s economy is one big casino, fueled by a giant debt bubble and computer driven derivatives. And there’s only one thing better than being a gambler at a casino.”

Wags: “That’s being the house.”

Axe: “That’s right. There’s a systemized machine out there, sucking capital from localities and injecting it into the global markets, where it can be used to speculate and manipulate. And if something goes wrong there are bailouts and bail-ins, federal aid and easing. Where the government doesn’t hunt you down, but instead gives you a nice soft net to land in.”

Wags: “That’s your answer to the fireside chat: You want to become a bank.”

Axe: “I want to become a bank.”

Wags: “In order to rob it?”

Axe: “In order that I don’t have to.”

The Secret Agenda of the World Bank and IMF

The Secret Agenda of the World Bank and IMF
Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.Peter is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.
Peter is also co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020) Peter

November 17, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) work hand in glove – smoothly. Not only are they regularly lending huge sums of money to horror regimes around the world, but they blackmail poor nations into accepting draconian conditions imposed by the west.

In other words, the WB and the IMF are guilty of the most atrocious human rights abuses.

You couldn’t tell, when you read above the entrance of the World Bank the noble phrase, “Our Dream is World Free of Poverty”.

To this hypocrisy I can only add, ”…And we make sure it will just remain a dream.” This says both, the lie and the criminal nature of the two International Financial Institutions, created under the Charter of the United Nations, but instigated by the United States.

The front of these institutions is brilliant. What meets the eye, are investments in social infrastructure, in schools, health systems, basic needs like drinking water, sanitation – even environmental protection – over all “Poverty Alleviation”, i.e. A World Free of Poverty. But how fake this is today and was already in the 1970’s and 1980’s is astounding. Gradually people are opening their eyes to an abject reality, of exploitation and coercion and outright blackmail. And that, under the auspices of the United Nations. What does it tell you about the UN system? In what hands are the UN? – The world organization was created in San Francisco, California, on 24 October 1945, just after WWII, by 51 nations, committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

The UN replaced the League of Nations which was part of the Peace Agreement after WWI, the Treaty of Versailles. It became effective on 10 January 1920, was headquartered in Geneva Switzerland, with the purpose of disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries, through negotiation diplomacy and improving global welfare. In hindsight it is easy to see that the entire UN system was set up as a hypocritical farce, making people believe that their mighty leaders only wanted peace. These might leaders were all westerners; the same that less than 20 years after the creation of the noble League of Nations, started World War II.

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This little introduction provides the context for what was eventually to become the UN-backed outgrowth for global theft, for impoverishing nations, around the world, for exploitation of people, for human rights abuses and for shoveling huge amounts of assets from the bottom, from the people, to the oligarchy, the ever-smaller corporate elite – the so-called Bretton Woods Institutions.

In July 1944 more than 700 delegates of 44 Allied Nations (allied with the winners of WWII) met at the Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, to regulate the international monetary and financial order after WWII. Let’s be sure, this conference was carried out under the auspices of the United States, the self-declared winner of WWII, and from now on forward the master over the financial order of the world – which was not immediately visible, an agenda hidden in plain sight.

The IMF was officially created to ‘regulate’ the wester, so-called convertible currencies, those that subscribed to apply the rules of the new gold standard, i.e. US$ 35 / Troy Ounce (about 31.1 grams). Note that the gold standard, although applicable equally to 44 allied nations was linked to the price of gold nominated in US dollars, not based on a basket of the value of the 44 national currencies. This already was enough reason to question the future system. And how it will play out. But nobody questioned the arrangement. Hard to believe though that of all these national economists, none dared question the treacherous nature of the gold-standard set-up.

The World Bank, or the Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), was officially set up to administer the Marshall Plan for the Reconstruction of war-destroyed Europe. The Marshall Plan was a donation by the United Stated and was named for U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, who proposed it in 1947. The plan gave $13.2 billion in foreign aid to European countries that had been devastated physically and economically by World War II. It was to be implemented from 1948 to 1952 which of course was much too short a time, and stretched into the early 1960s. In today’s terms the Marshall plan would be worth about 10 time more, or some US$ 135 billion.

The Marshall Plan was and still is a Revolving Fund, paid back by the countries in question, so that it could be relent. The Marshall Plan money was lent out multiple times and was therefore very effective. The European counterpart to the World Bank-administered Marshall Fund was a newly to be created bank set up under the German Ministry of Finance, The German Bank for Reconstruction and Development (KfW – German acronym for Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau”).

KfW, as the World Bank’s European counterpart still exists and dedicates itself mostly to development projects in the Global South, often in cooperation with the World Bank. Today there is still a special Department within KfW that deals exclusively with Marshall Plan Fund money. These funds are used for lending to poor southern regions in Europe, and also to prop up Eastern European economies, and they were used especially to integrate former East-Germany into today’s “Grand Germany”.

Two elements of the Marshall Plan are particularly striking and noteworthy. First, the reconstruction plan created a bind, a dependence between the US and Europe, the very Europe that was largely destroyed by the western allied forces, while basically WWII was largely won by the Soviet Union, the huge sacrifices of the USSR – with an estimated 25 to 30 million deaths. So, the Marshall Plan was also designed as a shield against communist Russia, i.e. the USSR.

While officially the Soviet Union was an ally of the western powers, US, UK, and France, in reality the communist USSR was an arch-enemy of the west, especially the United States. With the Marshall Plan money, the US bought Europe’s alliance, a dependence that has not ended to this day. The ensuing Cold War against the Soviet Union – also all based on flagrant lies, was direct testimony for another western propaganda farce – which to this day, most Europeans haven’t grasped yet.

Second, The US imposition of a US-dollar based reconstruction fund, was not only creating a European dollar dependence, but was also laying the ground work for a singular currency, eventually to invade Europe – what we know today, has become the Euro. The Euro is nothing but the foster child of the dollar, as it was created under the same image as the US-dollar – it is a fiat currency, backed by nothing. The United Europe, or now called the European Union – was never really a union. It was never a European idea, but put forward by US Secret Services in disguise of a few treacherous European honchos. And every attempt to create a United Europe, a European Federation, with a European Constitution, similar to the United States, was bitterly sabotaged by the US, mostly through the US mole in the EU, namely the UK.

The US didn’t want a strong Europe, both economically and possibly over time also militarily (pop. EU 450 million, vs US pop. 330 million; 2019 EU GDP US$ 20.3 trillion equivalent, vs US GDP US$ 21.4 trillion. Most economists would agree that a common currency for a loose group of countries has no future, is not sustainable. In comes the European Central Bank (ECB), also a creation inspired by the FED. The ECB has really no Central Bank function. It is rater a watch dog. Because each EU member country has still her own Central Bank, though with a drastically reduced sovereignty.

Out of the currently 27 EU members only 19 are part of the Euro-zone. Those countries not part of the Eurozone, i.e. Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Sweden – and more, have preserved their sovereign financial policy and do not depend on the ECB. This means, had Greece opted out of the Eurozone when they were hit with the 2008 / 2009 manufactured “crisis”, Greece would now be well on her way to full recovery. They would not have been subject to the whims and dictate of the IMF, the infamous troika, European Commission (EC), ECB and IMF, but could have chosen to arrange their debt internally, as most debt was internal debt, no need to borrow from abroad.

In a 2015 bailout referendum, the Greek population voted overwhelmingly against the bailout, meaning against the new gigantic debt. However, the then Greek President Tsipras, went ahead as if the referendum had never taken place and approved the huge bailout despite almost 70% of the popular vote against it.

This is a clear indication of fraud, that no fair play was going on. Tsipras and / or his families may have been coerced to accept the bailout – or else. We may never know, the true reason why Tsipras sold his people, the wellbeing of the Greek people to the oligarchs behind the IMF and World Bank – and put them into abject misery, with the highest unemployment in Europe, rampant poverty and skyrocketing suicide rates.

Greece may serve as an example on how other EU countries may fare if they don’t “behave” – meaning adhere to the unwritten golden rules of obedience to the international money masters.

This is scary.

——-
And now, in these times of covid, it is relatively easy. Poor countries, particularly in the Global South, already indebted by the plandemic, are increasing their foreign debt in order to provide their populations with basic needs. Or so they make you believe. Much of the debt accumulated by developing countries is domestic or internal debt, like the debt of the Global North. It doesn’t really need foreign lending institutions to wipe out local debt. Or have you seen one of the rich Global North countries borrowing from the IMF or the World Bank to master their debt? – Hardly.

So why would the Global South fall for it? Part corruption, part coercion, and partly direct blackmail. – Yes, blackmail, one of the international biggest crimes imaginable, being committed by the foremost international UN-chartered financial institutions, the WB and the IMF.

For example, the whole world is wondering how come that an invisible enemy, a corona virus hit all 193 UN member countries at once, so that Dr. Tedros, Director General of WHO, declares on 11 March a pandemic – no reason whatsoever since there were only 4,617 cases globally – but the planned result was a total worldwide lockdown on 16 March 2020. No exceptions. There were some countries who didn’t take it so seriously, like Brazil, Sweden, Belarus, some African countries, like Madagascar and Tanzania – developed their own rules and realized that wearing masks did more harm than good, and social distancing would destroy the social fabric of their cultures and future generations.

But the satanic deep dark state didn’t want anything to do with “independent” countries. They all had to follow the dictate from way above, from the Gates, Rockefellers, Soroses, et al elite, soon to be reinforced by Klaus Schwab, serving as the chief henchman of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Suddenly, you see in Brazil, a drastic surge in new “cases”, no questions asked, massive testing, no matter that the infamous PCR tests are worthless according to most serious scientists (only sold and corrupted scientists, those paid by the national authorities, would still insist on the RT-PCR tests). Bolsonaro gets sick with the virus and the death count increases exponentially – as the Brazilian economy falls apart.

Coincidence?

In comes the World Bank and / or the IMF, offering massive help mostly debt relief, either as grant or as low interest loans. But with massive strings attached: you must follow the rules laid out by WHO, you must follow the rules on testing on vaccination, mandatary vaccination – if you conform to these and other country-specific rules, like letting western corporations tap your natural resources – you may receive, WB and IMF assistance.

Already in May 2020 the World Bank Group announced its emergency operations to fight COVID-19 had already reached 100 developing countries – home to 70% of the world’s population with lending of US$ 160 billion-plus. This means, by today, 6 months later and in the midst of the “Second Wave” the number of countries and the number of loans or “relief’ grants must have increased exponentially, having reached close to the 193 UN member countries. Which explains how all, literally all countries, even the most objecting African countries, like Madagascar and Tanzania, among the poorest of the poor, have succumbed to the coercion or blackmail of the infamous Bretton Woods Institutions.

These institutions have no quarrels in generating dollars, as the dollar is fiat money, not backed by any economy – but can be produced literally from hot air and lent to poor countries, either as debt or as grant. These countries, henceforth and for pressure of the international financial institutions will forever become dependent on the western masters of salvation. Covid-19 is the perfect tool for the financial markets to shovel assets from the bottom to the top.

In order to maximize the concentration of the riches on top, maybe one or two or even three new covid waves may be necessary. That’s all planned, The WEF has already foreseen the coming scenarios, by its tyrannical book “Covid-19 – The Great Reset”. It’s all laid out. And our western intellectuals read it, analyze it, criticize it, but we do not shred it apart – we let it stand, and watch how the word moves in the Reset direction. And the plan is dutifully executed by the World Bank and the IMF – all under the guise of doing good for the world.

What’s different from the World Bank and IMF’s role before the covid plandemic? – Nothing. Just the cause for exploitation, indebtment, enslavement. When covid came along it became easy. Before then and up to the end of 2019, developing countries, mostly rich in natural resources of the kind the west covets, oil, gold, copper and other minerals, such as rare earths, would be approached by the WB, the IMF or both.

They could receive debt relief, so-called structural adjustment loans, no matter whether or not they really needed such debt. Today these loans come in all forms, shapes and colors, literally like color-revolutions, for instance, often as budget support operations – I simply call then blank checks – nobody controls what’s happening with the money. However, the countries have to restructure their economies, rationalizing their public services, privatizing water, education, health services, electricity, highways, railroads – and granting foreign concessions for the exploitation of natural resources.

Most of this fraud – fraud on “robbing” national resources, passes unseen by the public at large, but countries become increasingly dependent on the western paymasters – peoples’ and institutional sovereignty is gone. There is always a corrupter and a corruptee. Unfortunately, they are still omni-present in the Global South. Often, for a chunk of money, the countries are forced to vote with the US for or against certain UN resolutions which are of interest to the US. Here we go – the corrupt system of the UN.

And of course, when the two Bretton Woods organizations were created in 1944, the voting system decided is not one country, one vote as in theory it is in the UN, but the US has an absolute veto right in both organizations. Their voting rights are calculated in function of their capital contribution which derives from a complex formula, based on GDP and other economic indicators. In both institutions the US voting right and also veto right is about 17%. Both institutions have 189 member countries.
—–

Covid has laid bare, if it wasn’t already before, how these “official” international, UN-chartered Bretton Woods financial institutions are fully integrated in the UN system – in which most of the countries still trust, maybe for lack of anything better.

Question, however: What is better, a hypocritical corrupt system that provides the “appearance”, or the abolition of a dystopian system and the courage to create a new one, under new democratic circumstances and with sovereign rights by each participating country?

“Teacher d’assumption’s statement – Reframing the racism debate”

November 11, 2020

“Teacher d’assumption’s statement – Reframing the racism debate”

By Leo Abina – A concerned World Citizen – for the Saker Blog

Going back as far as I can remember, the story of what my dad’s 1930s primary school teacher would say at the start of every school day has been ingrained in my family’s narrative for half a century. “Whites build locomotives. Negroes can’t produce a needle. Whites are civilized. Negroes are savages.” As he would recount this story, my dad would always add, with a mischievous chuckle, “my few other African classmates in that class would be outraged by this statement; but not me. For me, d’Assumption’s ‘greeting to the class’ became a source of motivation to excel, especially in mathematics and science, just to prove him wrong.” Over the years, teacher d’Assumption’s[1] statement would never fail to ignite passionate debates, emotions, and reactions among family members; me included.

During my childhood, in the 60s and 70s, I lived the life of a privileged West-African boy from a well-to-do family, growing up in multi-racial social networks, attending private schools in Africa and Europe, oblivious to the vicissitudes of both subtle and raw racism. During these early years, teacher d’Assumption’s statement felt like a distant, no longer relevant, piece of nasty colonial history that I did not fully understand but felt needed to just be forgotten.

As a youngster coming of age and completing tertiary education in the 80s and 90s, I lived through the collapse of the Soviet Union, the uninhibited advent of market-driven globalization, and the shift towards finance, rather than ‘goods and services’ -dominated economies. My thoughts about teacher d’Assumption’s statement during those years were that “aspiring to build African locomotives out of pride was wasteful and misguided development strategy.” What would be smarter, I argued, was “investing African capital to own shares in railway manufacturing companies, so as to better facilitate the deployment of railway infrastructure in Africa; while at the same time, striving to build competence in railway technology.’

Then came the beginning of my expat years. My first forays into the ‘real world’ of business, outside the manicured lawns and precious wood paneled walls of US Ivy League campuses. Those years brought my first encounters with the realities of ‘subtle,’ though at times not so ‘subtle,’ corporate double standards. I had up to then bought into the neo-liberal ethos about free and fair markets; only to discover that in reality, most markets, even within the western sphere of influence, were neither free nor fair. Corporate battles within the western world are testimony that strategic technologies are protected; Boeing vs Airbus, Apple vs Microsoft, Siemens vs GE, are but a few legendary examples of this reality. These examples helped me realize that my earlier thoughts about how Africans should use capital in order to play the economic game to their advantage might have been overly naive – state interventions do play a major role in today’s so called ‘free markets’, and the bigger the state, the stronger the interventions. Even in the apparently ‘leveled playing field’ of our modern world, teacher d’Assumption’s worldview seemed as entrenched and relevant as it ever was.

As I look back through the eyes and battle scars of a 50-something, I get an uneasy sense that humanity has remained stuck on this all-important racism issue. On one side of the issue, white folks are conditioned to inherently hold a sense of superiority, backed by centuries of modern western world dominance. While on the other side of the issue, brown folks, no matter where they live in the world, their place in society, or their achievements, feel a sense of injustice, inadequacy, and alienation, in a historical period dominated by the modern western construct; a construct in which they can at best live as ‘acceptable strangers,’ or at worst as victims or rebels.

Taking a closer look at these perspectives on racism might provide a better premise to bring the two main conflicting parties – the white, western European dominant side, and the non-white (brown) global-south side, nearer each other.

Let us begin with the white perspective. Looking at the advent of modern western civilization over the past 300 years, as well as today’s global power dynamics, one can easily understand why a 21st-Century white person might have an innate sense of superiority. Why in our times, even an unaccomplished, hopeless, inept white person of European descent would still feel superior to an accomplished, gifted, and successful brown person.

In a nutshell, this frame of mind stems from the observation that for the past few centuries, the modern western civilization managed to subjugate much of the rest of our world. Through naval supremacy and superior weaponry resulting in tremendous military might, small European nations with tiny territories and lesser populations were able to project power globally and overwhelm much larger, usually brown, peoples. These past conquests still resonate in the psyche of many modern Europeans, and in the view of many, bear witness to the greater ingenuity of the white race. Once the lands of the brown people were subdued and a colonial order was established to channel vast amounts of natural resources from the colonies to the colonial capitals, in the eyes of many Europeans, this exploitative world order was, and is to this day, justified.

For in their narrative, it is Europeans, in the first place, who knew and understood the value of these natural resources. Whereas the brown natives, who might have been sitting on these natural resources for centuries, a. did not have an industrial base to know the value of what was under their feet b. did not have the technology and means to access and exploit these natural resources, and c. did not have the capacity and strength to protect them. Therefore, it is only natural that those who have the knowledge, technology, and power to access natural resources should also have the nature-given right to exploit them.

Then comes the moral aspect, especially as it relates to one of the most gruesome episodes in the long racism saga: the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In public and in the name of political correctness, most white people who only have a passing acquaintance with slavery do feel a sense of guilt about it. However, upon greater scrutiny through which they come to understand the historical context of slavery, and in view of recent south-to-north emigration dynamics, in private, many other white people do not share that sense of guilt.

The rationale here is twofold. First, there is the very controversial observation that during the slave trade, Africa was not occupied; therefore and by-enlarge, it was mostly African chieftains who sold other Africans into slavery. If brown people were ready to sell their own kind into slavery while Europeans needed labor to build ‘the new world in the Americas,’ why should only one of the two parties lose the moral high ground? Second, decades after slavery and colonization, we live in a time of massive south-north migration where millions of brown people are ready to leave their own independent countries and risk their lives across deserts and seas in search of a better life in the white man’s ‘land of milk and honey.’ Isn’t that further testimony of the white man’s more aspirational, and therefore superior, way of life?

This old, profound inter-racial legacy explains why an unaccomplished white person would still feel superior to a gifted brown person. The white indigent person sees brown people parading in fancy clothes, fancy cars, fancy homes, and thinks, “this high life these brown people aspire to and are so fond of, was brought about by us.”

Let us now turn to the brown perspective. The brown person’s experience in today’s modern western civilization is an experience filled with contradictions. On one hand there is an attraction to the outward semblance of freedom, equality and fraternity professed by the West. On the other hand there is a rejection of the inward reality of coercion, double standards, and racism perpetrated by that very same West. In this context, the brown person’s best option often consists in navigating these contradictions as deftly and quietly as possible, with no overt defiance to the established order. I once attended an event where the condition of black Brazilians came up in the discussion; a white Brazilian businessman who was present casually responded; “we do not have a racial problem in Brazil because in Brazil, brown people know their place!”

Besides the cruelty, hurtful meaning, and Brazilian frame of reference of this remark, it basically captured the essence of brown peoples’ lives everywhere in the modern world. No matter where they live, what their personal circumstances are, whether they are conscious of it or not, racism is an integral part of brown peoples’ day-to-day reality. Of course, in the modern era the crude state-sanctioned form of racism that prevailed up to the 1960s has rescinded, but nonetheless racism is still alive and well in today’s world context, albeit in different forms according to different environments.

The western-dominated world order dates back to at least three centuries. Its latest, modern iteration was established at the end of World War II by the victorious powers. On the economic front, western dominance happened de facto through the establishment of the Bretton Woods institutions in 1944 – the World Bank and the IMF. On the political front, the United Nations was founded with the noble mandate to prevent future wars, and a 5-nations Security Council made up of the most powerful nations was formed to protect this mandate, as well as approve or veto United Nations resolutions. In reality, this system and the highly biased, misrepresentative nature of its governing body, the Security Council, has been used outwardly for the benefit of the ‘international community,’ but inwardly for the interests of a tiny, West-led, part of the world. On the cultural front, dominance pretty much occurred by default through the ubiquitous reach of western media, western movies, and western broadcasting power.

In a second phase spanning through the 70s, 80s and 90s, the post-war world order was further reshaped with the formation of a new, dollar-based monetary system (no longer backed by gold), a massive shift in geo-politics with the fall of the USSR, a series of international trade agreements, and the advent of satellite-based communications and information technologies. Last but not least, the West’s military dominance was further strengthened by the eastern expansion of NATO, and the broad deployment of military bases around the world – nearly a thousand for the US alone, with a $900b yearly military budget that is larger than all European countries’ military budgets put together, and 10x Russia’s.

In recent years this unipolar, US-dominated world order is being challenged by a re-emerging modern Russia, and by regional powers such as China, India and Brazil. Nonetheless, western power remains formidable and remains overwhelmingly white. As a result of this reality, for most brown people around the world the real question has not so much been about whether the modern western ethos harbors racism or not. It has been about the extent to which racism affects them directly and experientially, and the extent to which racism limits their opportunity to strive.

Some people in the West find it difficult to conceive of this, but the reality is that even brown people who live in their own countries, under their own government, are affected by racism. Such assertions, as is now the case for any dissenting assertions even backed by forensic evidence, are often dismissed as ‘conspiracy theories.’ Nonetheless, in order to understand how this is possible, it is important to understand that in today’s world order, years after colonization, most brown countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, are still not free. Sure, these countries are recognized as independent administrative entities, with their own flags, national anthems, and emblems, but in reality, western powers still exercise a tremendous amount of hegemonic political, economic, and cultural power on them.

Recent history around the world has shown that brown leaders who try to defy the status quo and defend the interest of their own people at the expense of western hegemony, do not last long. In order to survive in their positions, most brown leaders have to make political and economic choices that are not favorable to their nation. Although most of the time, leaders in brown countries are quite happy to become stooges of the West, pledge allegiance to their western overlords, and enjoy the monetary benefits that come with that allegiance – often at the expense of their own nation, just like the African chieftains who used to sell fellow Africans into slavery.

In such subservient brown countries, discord often grows between the state and the citizens, repression intensifies, and the leaders find themselves increasingly isolated and paranoid of their own people. The leaders then start trusting and favoring only people from their closest circle, as well as foreigners, more than all other locals. Soon in this process, all significant opportunities in business, in government, and especially the security and intelligence branches of government, become the preserve of a small, predatory clique with foreign and carefully selected local elements. Of course, the various aspects of this scenario play out differently from brown country to brown country, but the general outcome is usually the same; frustration, limited opportunities, and second-class citizenship for the local brown people, in their own country.

For brown people living in the West, the situation is also not ideal, albeit for different reasons. The list of day-to-day racism related life challenges brown people face in western countries is just too long to enumerate here. The worst such challenges such as police brutality, discrimination in the workplace, and the ghettoization of brown communities have been rampant in the West, and have once again become prominent through the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the same vein as the civil rights movement of the 1960s, these recent developments have the merit of exposing the pain and hardships brown people in the West have been experiencing for decades. Huge protests are erupting to demand the downing of statues depicting historical ‘white racist’ figures, to demand that people kneel as a sign of outrage to the George Floyd killing, to demand reparations for the ill treatment brown peoples have endured in the past. Brown peoples’ tempers and frustrations are once again reaching boiling point in front of western oppression and injustice. However, to many well-intended observers, the types of demands brown people in the West are making to correct the situation and hopefully crush the scourge of racism seem superficial, ineffective, and perhaps even naive.

In order to defeat something as entrenched and deep as racism, a different premise might be needed. Perhaps each side of the racism issue, the western, white dominant side, and the global south, brown subjugated side, needs to re-examine its own frame of reference?

Today, as in teacher d’Assumption’s time in the 1930s, modern western civilization remains dominant and continues to exercise disproportionate power on the world; with each of the leading western countries exercising strong influence on specific ‘brown’ regions – the US in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and parts of the Middle East, the UK in Africa, Asia, and other parts of the Middle East, France mainly in its former African territories. That power is still derived from the West’s advances in technology, applied in various, more sophisticated fields of control; be it in surveillance and intelligence (via military satellites and cyber-tracking technology), subversive regime change methods (via color revolutions, co-opted local protests, or mainstream media ‘manufactured consent’ and leader-demonization campaigns), or good old, albeit more targeted, military operations (via drones, bombing campaigns, inter-ballistic missiles, or special ops interventions). On the economic front, the enactment of sanctions on brown countries that do not ‘toe the line’ has been a widely-used tool in recent years; with a flip side to this approach being the granting of western currency-denominated loans, with monies ‘created-out-of-thin-air’ and lent by western Treasury Ministries (or DFIs) to brown countries to ensure debt-driven ‘loyalty.’ On the political side, in a context of outward democracy since the 1980s, the use of data analytics and social media has been used to foster favorable, or at least non western-interest-threatening, electoral outcomes.

In light of all this, a modern-day teacher d’Assumption would say, “whites send satellites into space, blacks can’t make a bicycle. Whites are civilized. Blacks are savages.” The ‘satellites’ versus ‘bicycle’ part of that statement may be partly true, but it also infers important presumptions and omissions that should be brought to light and honored. As for the ‘civilized’ versus ‘savages’ part, it is a plain fallacy that should be exposed as such.

The presumption many westerners have about their technological superiority is that it came about exclusively from the brilliance and higher intellectual order of the white race. In reality, technological advancements truly surfaced in the 1500s in the European West, a period many would consider quite late in the historical process.

Ancient Greece, from which the modern western European civilization is thought to have emerged, learned extensively from ancient Egypt. Ancient Greece scholars in the fields of mathematics, philosophy, and medicine, learned from the ancient Egyptians. In other words, the way today’s scientists and technologists travel to Europe and the US to gain knowledge, is the same way ancient Greeks would travel to Egypt to gain knowledge. The great ’embarrassment’ western tradition has tried to keep under wraps for centuries, has tried to ‘deflate’ through Hollywood misrepresentation, has fought in bad faith in the academic arena, is that the ancient Egyptians were black, and were the real ancestors of modern day Africans, from across the continent and in the diaspora. Today’s core Egyptian population comes from a mix between different successions of historically newcomers to Egypt; notably Turks and Arabs. In the ancient world, black people from Egypt, who became ‘browner’ during the later Pharaonic dynasties after centuries of conquests and ‘métissage/mixing’ with lighter conquered people (we’re seeing the reverse today), dominated the world. This question should be finally settled and taught. Not out of pride to claim some ancient glory, but for humanity to learn and reflect on the lessons of the past, without falsifying the past.

‘Western’ mathematics and in particular algebra, without which modern technology would not have come about, were initiated by the Persians and later developed by the Arabs. To understand the importance of just this contribution, one should just try and write, never mind calculate, 10,354 x 726 in Roman numbers! This fact although it is more widely known and better accepted than the ‘ancient Egypt was black’ cover up, has also been largely ignored and set aside by the modern West. Once again, perpetuating the idea that white western ingenuity solely deserves the credit for the technical advances humanity now enjoys in the modern world, is a criminal cover-up that impairs progress in the racism discussion.

In any case, and perhaps from a more philosophical perspective, scientific and technological advancement should not be boasted over for as long as it hasn’t resolved the ultimate human aspiration, which is the avoidance of death. In our modern times, the dominant West should reflect upon the true extent of its power. As a spiritual leader once declared in the course of an argument with a western materialist, during which the latter was marveling at the supremacy of rationale epistemology, technology and science, “if you’re so smart, don’t die!” It might thus be helpful for today’s dominant group who prides itself for the preeminence of its technology, and thus for the preeminence of its power, to reflect on the reality that despite these advances, despite a particular group living in better material conditions than others, the finality of all humans on this earth has remained the same. It is also perhaps the reason why the ancient Egyptians were so obsessed with immortality; the ultimate frontier of their power. To this day, that frontier has not been reached.

When it comes to the notion that having greater mastery of technology makes a particular group more ‘civilized’ than another, despite the many lessons we have from History on this assertion, most of today’s dominant West appears to not have taken heed. Just looking at recent history, one could reflect on how in the first few months of WW2, the Wehrmacht conquered Europe through its ‘blitzkrieg/lightning war’ and superior military technology. Did those accomplishments make the Third Reich more ‘civilized’ than the rest of Europe? Why then carry this contention that dominance over brown people all over the world by means of higher technology, and thus power, makes one more ‘civilized?’ On the moral and civilizational spectrum, justice administered with crude weaponry will forever remain higher than injustice committed with ballistic missiles and drones.

After all, power, then and now, whatever its source and whatever its form, when it is exercised unjustly for the sake of a few, rather than justly for the sake of many, has a name: it is called tyranny.

On the brown side of the discussion, the re-framing might begin with a sharper sense of reality.

Despite proclamations to the contrary and an urge to lecture the world about freedom, democracy, equality for all, modern western civilization does not practice what it preaches. It likes to act as the victim when it is the aggressor. It co-opts a mainstream press compromised by special corporate and ideological interests. It supports brutal regimes that do its bidding and decries legitimate other regimes that defy the current order. It establishes states through genocide of indigenous populations, tolerates discrimination against second-class minority groups, talks about liberty but expects everyone to conform to western cultural norms. Yet, many brown people the world over, perhaps as a coping mechanism, pretend not to see the huge gap between the outward western assertions on freedom, liberty, and justice, and the inward reality of western power.

Once brown people realize that the modern western world order does function on the basis of quasi- imperial power dynamics with a dominant group and a subjugated group, they might also realize that progress will not happen on the racism question for as long as the technological gap between the parties does not subside. The reason for that comes from the other reality that the opposite of racism is mutual respect. If the West sees itself better than others because of its technological advances and the power that derives from it, while others seem incapable of matching western technology but aspire to the same living standards that this technology provides, there can be no mutual respect. The process of acquiring one’s own technology is essential not just to earn respect, but also to earn one’s real freedom. It is also an endeavor that is hard, complicated, onerous, and at times extremely dangerous. Brown people, just like other non-western Europeans have done, should consider this reality in their re-framing of the racism issue.

Between 1941 and 1945, the Allies, despite adhering to different political ideologies, worked together in order to defeat Nazism and had to catch up with German military technology as a matter of survival; it was an extremely arduous process. In the post-war era, being prevented from political and military autonomy, a humiliated and damaged Japan decided to catch up with western consumer technologies; it was also an extremely arduous process. Today, China is following and perhaps surpassing Japan’s footsteps on not just consumer, but on all commercial technologies. While post-Soviet/post-1990s Russia is doing the same on the military front. None of these countries were given a free pass to ‘catch up’! Nor did they waste time adding insult to injury by turning to others in plea for help and apologies. Brown people then, must learn those lessons and take heed.

A journalist once asked an African father-of-independence leader “what was,” in his view “the worst thing that can happen to a human being?” The old man paused for a short while, and then replied, “losing one’s dignity!”

Being poor and over-powered is not a degrading state to be in and of itself; most peoples at some point in their history have experienced that. However, looking for sympathy and apologies for one’s misfortune, expecting others to relinquish power and provide for one, being unwilling to make sacrifices in order to uplift oneself, is degrading and makes one the laughing stock of the world. In order to regain some respect that will help close the gap in the racism discussion, brown people and leaders in brown countries must make all necessary efforts to ‘catch up’ and regain some dignity. Brown people who pretend not to care for the benefits of modern life tend not to be very genuine and thus not deserving of respect. Brown people who are not prepared to make the efforts and sacrifices needed to ‘catch up,’ but are so keen to flock in and emulate institutions built by others instead of building their own, are also not deserving of respect. Then brown people who do manage to regain some level of power, and who in turn, for the sake of correcting past injustices, themselves become unjust, perpetrate the downward cycle of racism.

Perhaps, through this reframing of the racism issue, primary schoolteachers the world over will one day begin the day with a different statement?

“Satellites, locomotives and bicycles are the result of human ingenuity over the ages. They make our daily lives better and they can be a source of great power. However, these technological and material achievements, however great they maybe, should not make us arrogant or make us think ourselves better than those who have not reached them. They should become a means to bring justice and peace to the entire world.”

  1. Note: my father’s primary school teacher at the Lycée Faidherbe in 1930s St Louis, Senegal. 

The Russia-China vote

The Russia-China vote

November 03, 2020

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

Whatever the geopolitical and geoeconomic consequences of the spectacular US dystopia, the Russia-China strategic partnership, in their own slightly different registers, have already voted on their path forward.

Here is how I framed what is at the heart of the Chinese 2021-2025 five-year plan approved at the plenum in Beijing last week.

Here is a standard Chinese think tank interpretation.

And here is some especially pertinent context examining how rampant Sinophobia is impotent when faced with an extremely efficient made in China model of governance. This study shows how China’s complex history, culture, and civilizational axioms simply cannot fit into the Western, Christian hegemonic worldview.

The not so hidden “secret” of China’s 2021-2025 five-year plan – which the Global Times described as “economic self-reliance” – is to base the civilization-state’s increasing geopolitical clout on technological breakthroughs.

Crucially, China is on a “self-driven” path – depending on little to no foreign input. Even a clear – “pragmatic” – horizon has been set: 2035, halfway between now and 2049. By this time China should be on a par or even surpassing the US in geopolitical, geoeconomic and techno power.

That is the rationale behind the Chinese leadership actively studying the convergence of quantum physics and information sciences – which is regarded as the backbone of the Made in China push towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The five-year plan makes it quite clear that the two key vectors are AI and robotics – where Chinese research is already quite advanced. Innovations in these fields will yield a matrix of applications in every area from transportation to medicine, not to mention weaponry.

Huawei is essential in this ongoing process, as it’s not a mere data behemoth, but a hardware provider, creating platforms and the physical infrastructure for a slew of companies to develop their own versions of smart cities, safe cities – or medicines.

Big Capital – from East and West – is very much in tune with where all of this is going, a process that also implicates the core hubs of the New Silk Roads. In tune with the 21st century “land of opportunity” script, Big Capital will increasingly move towards East Asia, China and these New Silk hubs.

This new geoeconomic matrix will mostly rely on spin offs of the Made in China 2025 strategy. A clear choice will be presented for most of the planet: “win win” or “zero sum”.

The failures of neoliberalism

After observing the mighty clash, enhanced by Covid-19, between the neoliberal paradigm and “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, the Global South is only beginning to draw the necessary conclusions.

No Western propaganda tsunami can favorably spin what is in effect a devastating, one-two, ideological collapse.

Neoliberalism’s abject failure in dealing with Covid-19 is manifestly evident all across the West.

The US election dystopia is now sealing the abject failure of Western liberal “democracy”: what kind of “choice” is offered by Trump-Biden?

This is happening just as the ultra-efficient, relentlessly demonized “Chinese Communist Party” rolls out the road map for the next five years. Washington cannot even plan what happens the day ahead.

Trump’s original drive, suggested by Henry Kissinger before the January 2017 inauguration, was to play – what else – Divide and Rule, seducing Russia against China.

This was absolute anathema for the Deep State and its Dem minions. Thus the subsequent, relentless demonization of Trump – with Russiagate topping the charts. And then Trump unilaterally chose to sanction and demonize China anyway.

Assuming a Dem victory, the scenario will veer towards Russia demonization on steroids even as hysterical Hybrid War on China will persist on all fronts – Uighurs, Tibet, Hong Kong, South China Sea, Taiwan.

Now compare all of the above with the Russian road map.

That was clearly stated in crucial interventions by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Putin at the recent Valdai Club discussions.

Putin has made a key assertion on the role of Capital, stressing the necessity of “abandoning the practice of unrestrained and unlimited consumption – overconsumption – in favor of judicious and reasonable sufficiency, when you do not live just for today but also think about tomorrow.”

Putin once again stressed the importance of the role of the state: “The state is a necessary fixture, there is no way […] could do without state support.”

And, in concert with the endless Chinese experimentation, he added that in fact there are no economic rules set in stone: “No model is pure or rigid, neither the market economy nor the command economy today, but we simply have to determine the level of the state’s involvement in the economy. What do we use as a baseline for this decision? Expediency. We need to avoid using any templates, and so far, we have successfully avoided that.”

Pragmatic Putin defined how to regulate the role of the state as “a form of art”.

And he offered as an example, “keeping inflation up by a bit will make it easier for Russian consumers and companies to pay back their loans. It is economically healthier than the deflationary policies of western societies.”

As a direct consequence of Putin’s pragmatic policies – which include wide-ranging social programs and vast national projects – the West ignores that Russia may well be on the way to overtake Germany as the fifth largest economy in the world.

The bottom line is that combined, the Russia-China strategic partnership is offering, especially to the Global South, two radically different approaches to the standard Western neoliberal dogma. And that, for the whole US establishment, is anathema.

So whatever the result of the Trump-Biden “choice”, the clash between the Hegemon and the Top Two Sovereigns is only bound to become more incandescent.

ماذا يعني انتظار الانتخابات الأميركيّة؟

الأخبار

ابراهيم الأمين 

الإثنين 2 تشرين الثاني 2020

الإقبال الكبير على الانتخابات في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، يقابله إقبال كبير في كل العالم على متابعة هذا الحدث. صحيح أنه منذ سنوات طويلة، ينظر العالم كله بعين القلق الى من سيكون رئيس أميركا، لكن هذه المرّة، يتصرّف البشر كأن مصيرهم عالق على نتيجة التصويت. إنها معضلة العلاقة الإلزامية بالممسك بمفاتيح أساسية لحياة مليارات البشر في العالم. وإذا كان الأميركيون لديهم حساباتهم الخاصة لتقرير من يفضّلون، فإن البشرية تتصرّف بتوتر ناجم عن كونها محرومة من إلقاء الورقة في صندوق سيختار من له دور أساسي في مستقبلهم. في هذه اللحظة، يتصرف البشر مثل قاطني بيروت من غير «سكانها الأصليين»، أي الذين لا يقدرون على اختيار مجلسها البلدي الذي يدير أمورهم اليومية. ها نحن الآن، نحسب لأنفسنا دوراً في هذه الانتخابات.

ولأننا كذلك، نختلق عناوين ونقاشات ومتابعات لما يحصل هناك، على قاعدة أنّ لنا رأينا بما سيحصل. وكما أن في أميركا انقساماً كبيراً في الرأي، فعند المواطنين غير المسجلين في كل الكرة الأرضية انقساماتهم أيضاً. المتماهون مع التجربة الأميركية، والراغبون بعيش الحلم الأميركي، يريدون فوز جو بايدن. غالبية هؤلاء يعتقدون أن بايدن سيعزز الطريقة الأميركية كما كانت عليه قبل مجيء ترامب، وأن المسألة تتعلق بشخص ترامب. ولذلك، يفترضون أنه كما يغيّر الرئيس الجديد أعضاء إدارته، فإن بايدن، في حال فوزه، سيعيد أميركا الى ما كانت عليه قبل وصول ترامب.

وجلّ هؤلاء يفكرون بأن ابتسامات الديموقراطيين ستعيد الألق الى صورة أميركا في العالم. هم مثل أبناء المدن الأميركية الكبرى، الذين يريدون رئيساً لا يكون مصدر سباب وشتيمة لهم. لكن هؤلاء يقيسون الأمر من زاوية تأثير الانتخابات على تواصلهم المباشر مع هذه البلاد. هؤلاء، مثلاً، يعتبرون أن سياسات أميركا الداخلية أو الخارجية ستكون أقل فظاظة لو أتى بايدن. وهؤلاء يخجلون بترامب كخجلهم بحكام بلادهم في العالم. هم يفضّلون النسخة المهذبة عن الرجل الأبيض. لكنهم يرفضون أي نقاش حول عقل بايدن، بل يريدون حسم الأمر عند حدود سلوكه.

ثمة في العالم من يؤيد السياسات الأميركية في الخارج. وثمة في العالم مَن يريد أن تبقى أميركا قائدة العالم. وهؤلاء يحسمون أن كل شيء جيد لن يكون جيداً إذا لم يكن مصدره أميركا… فكرة أو سيارة أو تكنولوجيا أو أي شيء. وهؤلاء لا يروقُهم أن يكون هناك نقاش واسع حول من يحكم أميركا، والغالبية من هؤلاء تكره ترامب، لكنها لا تنتقد سياساته، بل تقف عند سلوكه. وكأن الأمر سيكون على صورة أخرى، لو أن رئيس أميركا جاء وسرق أموال العرب مثلاً، لكن مع ابتسامات وكلام لطيف. أمّا أن يسرق أموالنا و«يبهدلنا» فهذا كثير…

لكن في العالم فئة أخرى تكره أميركا. وتعريف الكره يجب ألّا يكون محاطاً برهاب التمييز بين الحاكم والمحكوم وكل الزعبرات التي تسبق عادة كلمة «ولكن»: نعم هناك حكومة منتخبة رديئة، ولكن… صحيح أن الشعب الأميركي هو من اختار هذا الرئيس ولكن… الأخطاء التي ترتكب في العالم مسؤولية المجتمع الأميركي ولكن…!

لندع هذه الـ«ولكن» جانباً، ولنعد الى رأي خصوم أميركا، خصوم النظام الاقتصادي والسياسي والتعليمي والثقافي والعلمي والبيئي والصحي والسلوكي والديني والإثني وكل ما يتعلق بهذه الدولة. لأن الأمر هنا لا يبقى متعلقاً بحسابات من ينتظر الأعاجيب والمعجزات.

شعوب الجنوب، ومن غير البيض، يعانون الأمرّين منذ عشرات السنين إن لم يكن أكثر. ومصدر معاناتهم الدور المركزي الذي قام به الغرب، سواء عندما قادته أوروبا أو عندما تولّته أميركا. العقل نفسه، والأهداف نفسها، والغاية نفسها التي تختصر بسلبنا كل شيء. حريتنا وقدرتنا على التفكير قبل ثرواتنا وبلادنا. وهذا الغرب، هو الذي أنتج العقل التسلطي بكل صوره البشعة، وبكل قتله العشوائي الذي أصاب ملايين البشر، وهو العقل الذي يمنح قلة متعجرفة، حق التفوق والتصرف من دون محاسبة أو مساءلة. وهو العقل الذي لا يزال يحكم من بيده الأمر في قلب أميركا وقلب الغرب عامةً. وهو عقل فيه كل شيء من الشر. نظريات دينية وحضارية وثقافية وعنصرية متعددة الألوان، وتجاهل مستمر لحقوق الآخر. ولأن هذا الغرب تقوده أميركا اليوم، فإن مصلحة أهل الجنوب هي في انهيار النظام الحاكم في قلب أميركا. وربما يرى البعض جنوناً في الاعتقاد بأن خلاص العالم يبدأ بانهيار هذا الكيان الذي اسمه الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، وانهيار كل النظام الحاكم في أوروبا الغربية.

ما يعنينا هو هذه التمنّيات بأن تفيق أميركا على واقع سياسي يزيد من أزماتها الداخلية، ويعقّد من آليات الحكم فيها


ولأننا على هذا النحو، يجب أن يُسمح لنا بأن نتصرّف إزاء الانتخابات الأميركية من دون وهم صاحب الحق بالاقتراع. كل ما لدينا هنا هو مجرد آمال، بمعزل عن توافقها مع التقديرات أو التوقعات. في هذه اللحظة، ما يعنينا هو هذه التمنّيات، بأن تفيق أميركا على واقع سياسي يزيد من أزماتها الداخلية، ويعقّد من آليات الحكم فيها، ويجعل اقتصادها أكثر تعثّراً، وسوقها أقل رواجاً، وانقساماتها أكثر حدّة، وخلافاتها أكثر توتراً… ما سبق يحتاج إلى التجديد للأهبل الأكبر دونالد ترامب. الأهبل الذي يناسبنا ولو ألقى المزيد من القنابل فوق رؤوسنا. فهو مهما فعل، لن يزيد عما فعله أسلافه من «العقلاء». وإذا خسر ترامب، فالتمنيات أن تكون خسارته غير جليّة، فينعقد الخلاف حول البتّ بها. وليحصل ما يحصل. ولأن الأمر على هذا النحو، فإن كل كلام وتنظير آخر هو مجرد كلام من أشخاص أو جهات يتوهّمون أن لهم دوراً في صناعة القرار في أميركا، وهم في حقيقة الأمر يريدون لأميركا ما يرونه، من زاويتهم، أنه الأصح. عملياً، هم يتمنّون أيضاً. وهم مثلنا، من مواطني هذه الدولة المنتشرين في كل أرجاء المعمورة، ممن لا يملكون حق التصويت. ولأنهم كذلك، ليتوقفوا لحظة عن تلبّس شخصية الرجل الأبيض وهم يتحدثون الى شعوبهم.

Get Ready for the Next Game-Changer: the Digital Yuan

Source

May 06, 2020

Get Ready for the Next Game-Changer: the Digital Yuan

by Pepe Escobar – cross.posted with Strategic Culture Foundation

A new, radical paradigm shift is in progress. The U.S. economy may shrink as much as 40% in the first semester of 2020. China, already the world’s largest economy by PPP for a few years now, may soon become the world’s largest economy even in exchange rate terms.

The post-Planet Lockdown world – still a hazy mirage – may well need a post-Planet Lockdown currency. And that’s where a serious candidate steps into the fray: the fiat digital yuan.

Last month, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) confirmed that a group of top banks started trials in electronic payment in four different Chinese regions using the new digital yuan. Yet there’s no timetable yet for the official launch of what is called the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP).

The man with the plan is PBOC governor Yi Gang. He has confirmed that apart from the trials in Suzhou, Xiong’an, Chengdu and Shenzhen, the PBOC is also testing hypothetical scenarios for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

While DCEP, according to Yi, “has made very good progress,” he insists the PBOC will be “cautious in terms of risk control, especially to study anti money-laundering and ‘know your customer’ requirements to incorporate in the design and system of DCEP.”

DCEP should be interpreted as the road map for China leading to an eventual, even more groundbreaking replacement of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. China is already ahead in the digital currency sweepstakes: the sooner DCEP is launched the better to convince the world, especially the Global South, to tag along.

The PBOC is developing the system with four top state-owned banks as well as payment behemoths Tencent and Ant Financial.

mobile app developed by the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) is already circulating on WeChat. This is in effect an interface linked to DCEP. Moreover, 19 restaurants and retail establishments including Starbucks, McDonald’s and Subway are part of the pilot testing.

China is advancing fast on the whole digital spectrum. A Blockchain Service Network (BSN) was launched not only for domestic but also for global trade purposes. A large committee is supervising BSN, including executives from the PBOC, Baidu and Tencent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Backed by gold

So what does this all mean?

Well connected banking sources in Hong Kong have told me Beijing is not interested for the yuan to replace the U.S. dollar – for all the interest across the Global South in bypassing it, especially now that the petrodollar is in a coma.

The official Beijing position is that the U.S. dollar should be replaced by an IMF-approved Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket of currencies (dollar, euro, yuan, yen). That would eliminate the heavy burden of the yuan as the sole reserve currency.

But that may be just a diversionist tactic in an environment of all-out information war. A basket of currencies under the IMF still implies U.S. control – not exactly what China wants.

The meat of the matter is that a digital, sovereign yuan may be backed by gold. That’s not confirmed – yet. Gold could serve as a direct back up; to back bonds; or just lay there as collateral. What’s certain is that once Beijing announces a digital currency backed by gold, it will be like the U.S. dollar being struck by lightning.

Under this new framework, nations won’t need to export more to China than they import so they have enough yuan to trade. And Beijing won’t have to keep printing yuan electronically – and artificially, as in the case of the U.S. dollar – to meet trade demands.

The digital yuan will be effectively backed up by the massive amount of Made in China goods and services – and not by a transoceanic Empire of 800 Bases. And the value of the digital yuan will be decided by the market – as it happens with bitcoin.

This whole process has been years in the making, part of serious discussions started already in the late 2000s inside BRICS summit meetings, especially by Russia and China – the core strategic partnership inside the BRICS.

Considering multiple strategies to progressively bypass the U.S. dollar, starting with bilateral trade in their own currencies, Russia and China, for instance, set up a Russia-Chian RMB Cooperation Fund three years ago.

Beijing’s strategy is carefully calibrated, like playing go long-term. Apart from methodically stockpiling gold in massive quantities (just like Russia) for seven years now, Beijing has been campaigning for a wider use of SDR while making sure to not position the yuan as a strategic competitor.

But now the post-Planet Lockdown environment is shaping up as ideal for Beijing to make a move. Even before the onset of the Covid-19 crisis the predominant feeling among the leadership was that China is under a full spectrum attack by the United States government. Hybrid War already reaching fever pitch implies bilateral relations will only get worse, not better.

So when we have China as the world’s largest economy by both PPP and exchange rate; still the strongest growing major economy, barring the first semester of 2020; productive, innovative, efficient and on track to reach a higher technological level with the Made in China 2025 program; and capable of winning the “people’s war” against Covid-19 in record time, all the necessary elements seem to be in place.

But then, there’s soft power. Beijing needs to have the Global South on its side. The United States government knows it very well; no wonder the current hysteria is all about demonizing China as “guilty” on all – unproved – counts of fostering and lying about Covid-19.

An “impeding arrival”

A key advantage of a sovereign digital yuan is that Beijing does not need to float a paper yuan – which by the way is being sidelined all across China itself, as virtually everyone is switching to electronic payment.

The digital yuan, using blockchain technology, will automatically float – thus bypassing the U.S.-controlled global financialized casino.

The amount of sovereign digital currency is fixed. That in itself eliminates a plague: quantitative easing (QE), as in helicopter money. And that leaves the sovereign digital currency as the preferred medium for trade, with currency transfers unimpeded by geography and, the icing on the cake, without banks charging outrageous fees as intermediaries.

Of course there will be pushback. As in non-stop demonization of neo-Orwellian China for straying away from the whole purpose of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies – which is to have freedom from a centralized structure via decentralized ownership. There will be howls of horror at the PBOC potentially capable of seizing anyone’s digital funds or turning off a wallet if the owner displeases the CCP.

China is on it, but the U.S., UK, Russia and India are also on their way to launch their own crypto-currencies. For obvious reasons, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), the Central Bank of Central Banks, is very much aware that the future is now. Their research with over 50 Central Banks is unmistakable: we are facing an “impeding arrival”. But who will take the Biggest Prize?

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