Demonize first, then kill: a note on the role of media and social networks in imperialist domination

Atilio A. Boron
Sociologist, political scientist, and journalist.

Atilio A. Boron

5 Jul 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

“Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to dictatorship” – Noam Chomsky 

The sentence of the great American linguist offers a good starting point for these reflections that we intend to propose as inputs for a discussion as crucial as pressing. This is so because, according to experts in hybrid or Fifth-Generation Wars, the capacity to control consciences and hearts – or “minds and souls” to put it in a poetic form- has reached unmatched levels, unthinkable until a decade ago. The progress of neurosciences and political neuro-marketing has enormously increased the ability of the dominant classes and imperialist powers to control the beliefs, desires, and behavior of millions of people worldwide.

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Demonize first, then kill

The revolutionary advances in Artificial intelligence, the “Internet of Things”, communications technologies (5G), along with the unprecedented penetration of Social Networks and the mass media, have created a new battlefield in which popular movements of national liberation will have to wage their struggles. 

Unfortunately, this transition from conventional warfare to media and cyber warfare has only been recently acknowledged in its full effectiveness by the anti-imperialist forces, at a time it has been thoroughly used by the dominant powers of the international system, especially the United States government. Few examples would be more illustrative than the following to clarify our argument. At a hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this century, a four-star general said that “in today’s world, the anti-subversive war is waged in the media, and no longer in the jungles or the decaying slums of the Third World.” Therefore, he concluded, “now the media and the social networks are our main operational theater.”  

Both Fidel and Chávez were precociously aware that the media oligarchies constituted one of the most serious threats hanging over the future of democracies and anti-imperialist struggles. Indeed, their uncontrolled power and nefarious role in the calculated processes of “de-education”, alienation and brutalization of the citizenry, became formidable bulwarks against the advancement of the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist consciousness. Their complete abandonment of the journalistic function in favor of a propagandistic work also constituted a fortification to that end. This is proven day by day in Latin America by observing the news manipulation intended to cover up the crimes perpetrated by the Iván Duque regime in Colombia against peaceful protesters. This was also evident in the brutal repression launched by the Añez dictatorship in Bolivia, the acts of the Piñera government in Chile, and, today, the manipulation of the electoral institutes and the dominant circles to prevent the proclamation of Pedro Castillo as the new president of Perú.   

The negative role of media is also patent in press operations intended to “iron armor” information that is not supposed to be known by the public. For instance, the open links between the successive “narco-governments” in Colombia and the cocaine cartels; or the corruption of the Macri government in Argentina as proved in the Panama Papers were all carefully concealed by the hegemonic media. Moreover, nothing is said about the unjust, scandalous imprisonment of Julian Assange, one of the heroes of press freedom on a global scale.

As the writings of the imperial strategists recognized, the media and, more recently, “digital networks” have been key players in the destabilization of progressive or left-wing governments around the world. Wherever the empire, through its own troops, its cultural mercenaries, and its local henchmen, decides to attack, the media immediately occupies the vanguard positions. The demonization of the adversary and his government – let’s say leaders like Nicolás Maduro, Evo Morales, Bashar al Assad, Saddam Hussein, Muammar al Gadaffi, and Vladimir Putin – is the first step. Then, their methodical defamation and the disinformation applied on a large scale through the press, television, radio, and digital networks become crucial weapons in creating the climate of opinion required to be able to apply naked violence against those rulers. The “artillery of thought” seeks the demolition of the attacked population’s defense mechanisms. The end goal is to confuse it and make it doubt the integrity or patriotism of its rulers by presenting them to the public opinion as wicked monsters and their governments as infamous “regimes”, depicting them as ferocious police states that violate the most basic human rights. Under this storm of misinformation and “fake news”, many people will be led to think that perhaps their attackers are right and really want to free the people from the sway of their nasty oppressors. Even more, it is aimed at making them think that the pretense of “changing the world” is nonsense; – a childish illusion to build the paradise on earth that could only result in falling in the inferno. Once the cultural defenses of society are “softened” (equivalent to the bombings that prepare the way for the frontal assault) and the media battering ram has pierced the wall of social conscience poisoned it with hundreds of “fake news” and “post-truth”, and demoralized or at least confused the population and the cadres of the anti-imperialist social forces, then the ground will be ready for the final assault. It is the moment in which the imperialist forces launch an all-out attack displaying the full capacity of their arsenal to give the shot of grace to their demonized enemies: Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gadaffi, for instance. 

This is not only an account of the heartbreaking past but a description of today’s strategies that the US government applies worldwide. We should be aware of this and be prepared to start an adequate counter-offensive, and the broadcasting of the Al Mayadeen programs in English is a significant step in this direction.

“Israeli” Tanks Are No Match for Hezbollah’s Hybrid Warfare

“Israeli” Tanks Are No Match for Hezbollah’s Hybrid Warfare

By Staff, The National Interest  

The exercises last month by the “Israeli” entity’s 188th Barak [“Lightning”] Armored Brigade on the occupied Golan Heights, illustrated the wide spectrum of threats the “Israel” Occupation Forces [IOF] must prepare for: the maneuvers included conventional mechanized operations, counter-guerrilla tactics against an irregular army like Hezbollah, and destroying tunnels.

The IOF would love nothing better than to fight an old-fashioned tank battle, at which it is famously proficient. But twenty-first-century warfare is more about guerrillas and tunnels, and these are the bane of high-tech, mechanized armies.

The “Israeli” Army has had to cope with Palestinian Resistance movement Hamas infiltration tunnels dug from Gaza into the southern “Israeli” entity. Last year, the “Israelis” discovered what they alleged were several Hezbollah tunnels between southern Lebanon and the northern parts of the “Israeli” entity, stoking fears of a surprise Hezbollah operations to seize al-Jaleel [Galilee].

The problem is that tanks can’t get inside a tunnel, but a Hezbollah fighter with an anti-tank missile can pop out of one and destroy a $5 million Merkava tank. Haunting the “Israeli” Armored Corps is the debacle of the 2006 “Israel”-Lebanon War, when Hezbollah used a sprawling network of tunnels in southern Lebanon to ambush and knock out numerous “Israeli” armored vehicles.

The “Israeli” armor commanders seemed grimly determined to avoid a repeat of 2006.  “We understood there was a need for change,” Lt. Col. Yoav Schneider, commander of the “Israeli” entity’s 82nd Tank Battalion said.

If tunnels were the only threat faced by “Israel”, that would be challenging enough. But the IOF also has to prepare for a conflict with Hezbollah, a formidable practitioner of “hybrid warfare” that combines the well-trained soldiers and advanced weapons of a conventional army with the flexibility and elusiveness of guerrillas. Battling Hezbollah could encompass everything from stopping a surprise Hezbollah attack to seize “Israeli” towns, to crossing into well-fortified southern Lebanon to destroy Hezbollah rocket operations.

An advance into Lebanon will not be the timid, clumsy offensive of 2006.

The threat of advanced anti-tank weapons, such as the deadly laser-guided Russian Kornet employed by Hezbollah in 2006, had led some critics to question whether tanks are still useful. Combat in the rough terrain that guerrillas will operate from, such as hills or the numerous villages that dot Lebanon and Syria, is challenging for armored vehicles.

And there yet still more challenges the IOF must train for. And the worst part is that the “Israelis” can never be sure which threat will emerge next. This array of threats would tax even a superpower, let alone a nation of fewer than nine million people.

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

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

March 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What NATO is really up to

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here we learn the three essentials:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hybrid war on two fronts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Gains From Misportraying Russia As A Rogue Regime?

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Who Gains From Misportraying Russia As A Rogue Regime?

The push by Western forces and those sympathetic to them to misportray Russia as a “rogue regime” after this summer’s Navalny incident is meant to pave the way for a more comprehensive sanctions policy against the Eurasian Great Power and intensify multilateral efforts to “contain” it.

The Western press has recently revived the debunked trope that Russia is a so-called “rogue regime” after the latest developments surrounding this summer’s Navalny incident. The self-described “investigative reporting” outlet Bellingcat and CNN recently published a joint report claiming that the FSB tried to poison the anti-corruption blogger, which is an unrealistic scenario to speculate upon and one which was condemned by President Putin during his year-end press conference as a provocation by foreign intelligence services. Nevertheless, this information warfare narrative persists and was given fresh coverage by former chess champion Gary Kasparov in the op-ed that he published at CNN on Friday about how “It’s time to treat Putin’s Russia like the rogue regime it is”. His piece deserves to be debunked in order to set the record straight and extrapolate his agenda for propagating it.

Kasparov shares a smorgasbord of accusations straight off the bat alleging that Russia is guilty of crimes ranging from assassinating political foes with chemical weapons to invading Ukraine and hacking the US. What he doesn’t mention, however, is that no evidence has been presented to conclusively prove Russia’s responsibility for those aforesaid assassination attempts. Regarding Ukraine, Kasparov leaves out the fact that Crimea reunified with Russia after a democratic referendum and that a real military invasion of that country by Moscow wouldn’t have manifested itself in limited skirmishes contained to Eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. Moreover, the chess champion omits the fact that Trump contradicted Pompeo’s claims of Russian complicity in the latest hack attack and actually blamed China instead. Evidently, these facts are too “politically inconvenient” for Kasparov to mention and thus had to be ignored in order to advance his weaponized narrative.

That narrative, it should be said, is one of paranoia and speculation. Parts of it read as a fever dream of a brilliant mind gone mad imagining that Russia’s security agencies are falling apart by the second despite he himself previously alleging that they’ve carried out such egregious crimes as the ones that he talked about earlier. This schizophrenic stance is explained away by his theory that President Putin simply doesn’t care anymore about how sloppy his international provocations have become because no meaningful consequences have ever followed. That’s yet another fallacy on Kasparov’s part since Russia has been victimized by an ever-intensifying sanctions regime since 2014. Still, he’s somehow convinced himself that the West is actually “appeasing” Russia by continuing to retain some limited relations with it of a pragmatic nature. These, he believes, must be immediately stopped and followed up by removing Russia from international institutions.

What he’s clamoring for is clear for any objective observer to see, and it’s a redoubling of the Western sanctions regime against Russia and an intensification of the multilateral efforts to “contain” it. Earlier attempts by some American officials to designate Russia as a so-called “state sponsor of terrorism” might receive a second life if Kasparov’s op-ed is coordinated with US intelligence officials to precondition the international public into accepting such a dramatic move. The incoming Biden Administration is chock-full of anti-Russian hawks so it’s quite possible that they might make swift progress in further worsening bilateral relations with Russia on that or some similar pretext. It should be remembered, however, that the entire basis for this scenario is the unquestionable assumption that Russia is responsible for everything that Kasparov and his allies claim, which is highly dubious to say the least.

Even so, it’s nowadays taboo for anyone to publicly challenge those accusations lest they be tarred and feathered as a “Russian agent”. The media-military nexus is operating perfectly insofar as coordinating their messaging to justify forthcoming provocations against Russia. The American people have been brainwashed into believing that Russia is one of their main enemies, with Kasparov’s comments on the latest Navalny development being used to reinforce that narrative. CNN published his op-ed in order to grant it maximum exposure at home and abroad, all for the earlier explained reasons. While his ravings are limited to the internet for now, they might soon have a real-life impact if the US runs with his claims to push through a new sanctions regime and other related “containment” efforts against Russia. This could even happen if Trump pulls off an upset and remains in office after 20 January considering his recent anti-Russian track record.

In conclusion, the only ones who gain by misportraying Russia as a “rogue regime” are the anti-Russian members of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) and their international allies like Kasparov who has a personal axe to grind against President Putin. Objectively speaking, Russia’s alleged “rogue” activity pales in comparison to the US’ actual rogue actions since the end of the Old Cold War, which include drone assassinations, Color Revolution coups, Hybrid Wars, and several large-scale wars. That’s not to deflect with “whatabouttism”, but just to remind the reader of the global strategic context for the purpose of pointing out America’s blatant hypocrisy in this respect. Looking forward, the US’ anti-Russian information warfare campaign will only intensify and won’t ever stop until Moscow submits to Washington’s unipolar hegemonic demands, which won’t ever happen so the infowar is here to stay.

Not a step back!

Not a step back!

December 29, 2020

Not a step back![1]

By Ken Leslie for the Saker Blog

1. A tale of two kingdoms

Given the precarious geopolitical situation, some Russia supporters might feel that the worst thing now for Russia would be to rock the boat and enrage the West by retaliating against the hybrid war waged against it. In my view, the worst is the Baghdad Bob-like complacency and refusal to understand how serious the things are. For make no mistake, no anxious giggling or bravado (or Russian love of affectionate nicknames) can hide the severity of the current situation. If you are of a weaker disposition, skip the next several paragraphs and land on the juicy, positive bits.

I cannot (and am not trying to) offer an in-depth geopolitical analysis of the current situation in the manner of the Saker. What I can do is produce a parable (or is it allegory?) on how a determined and resourceful victim of constant and total attack must respond in order to save itself and make its enemies pay for all the inflicted pain and suffering—with interest (for after all that is what the bully likes more than anything else). What follows is a completely fictional account of a life-and-death conflict between cultures and religions and any similarities with real countries and characters are purely incidental.

Some 30 years ago, a new era in world history was loudly announced by the supposed victors of a protracted war against a large, semi-pagan people that inhabited large swaths of the continent of Sunlandia. Their vast land was called Dayland. Once they had had a large land empire which crashed and burned in the fires of a revolution fomented by its mortal enemies after having survived countless invasions by sundry power-crazed maniacs and constant enmity by the inhabitants of the lands in which the sun sets (to be called Nightland). But, no, not even the destruction of the empire and its religious importance was not enough to satisfy the haters. The new communist state was immediately shunned by the Nightlanders and retained its pariah status for all its 73 years of existence. Not only that, during its incarnation as a land of workers and peasants (nothing wrong with that), it experienced the most horrible holocaust in modern history (another great country assailed from the East, let’s call it “Mornland” suffered at least to the same extent from a different fascist tyrant). An all too brief interlude of hope and glory (apologies to John Boorman) was immediately replaced by the next phase of the never-ending conflict—isolation and attrition, nuclear threats, sanctions and sabotage, proxy wars, intelligence, economic and cultural battles, the list goes on.

Although exsanguinated by the horrors of the holocide by a semi-formal union of the countries to the West of it and exhausted by external pressures, the great county went on to achieve miracles in improving the living standards and literacy rates of its population to the extent unheard of until then. Other miracles were performed by the country in various fields of science and technology and the example set by its heroic struggle inspired countless anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movements which resulted in a fundamental reshaping of the World’s political map. Alas, it was not to last. In spite of great achievements and its crucial role as the bringer of balance to the world affairs, the great (in all senses) country broke up tragically if relatively peacefully. With its demise, the darkening cumulus cloud that had hovered over my head for at least a decade, turned into a giant fat cumulonimbus ready to explode with thunder and lightning.

Although for many people those early years of the new order were the years of hope, soon, the hope was cruelly quashed. Instead of learning the lessons of the “war in all-but-name”, the victors were blinded by their greed and unearned sense of superiority. Instead of healing the wounds of the past, they set out to deepen them by restoring the platform from which most wars of destruction had come. By breaking up federations of the heathen sub-humans, co-opting them into a new feudal system, building a power block around the genocidal transgressor and bleeding the defeated country dry, the Nightland was demonstrating for all to see that its intent was never peaceful.

The first clear inkling of things to come was a beastly aggression committed on a brave and innocent people whose only crime was to have resisted the renewed push towards the East. Conveniently forgotten and explained away by the evil masterminds as a charitable intervention, the war signalled the new phase in the war against Dayland. The border between Nightland and Dayland was pushed about 1500 km eastward. Dayland’s former allies were turned into its worst and most belligerent enemies. With every step to the right, Nightland was gaining and Dayland was losing—friends, trade and influence. Like many times before in its extraordinary history, the country was fortunate in one respect. An exceptional man appeared from nowhere to pull Dayland out of the quagmire and set it on the path of resurgence and renewed greatness. Well, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

We, who care about Dayland are cursing the sheer gall and bloodthirst of the criminal aggressors. Some of us are asking—is this offensive ever going to stop? Most of us know the answer—never! As long as Dayland exists with its strange mix of peoples, faiths and worldviews, it must not live. All we have left is the hope that the leadership of Dayland will be able to deal with the oncoming peril. There is a creeping worry that without a more muscular response, the country will eventually succumb to a death by a thousand cuts. So, here is an overview of the principles that should guide Dayland’s fightback—before it becomes too late.

2. The problem

Before I can talk about means, I must address the causes. Despite its size and advanced society, Dayland has no overt allies and the slightly tepid embrace of Mornland is not sufficient to compensate for this. Note, I am saying overt—that means no partners who are committed to the joint defence and who would mobilise their forces if Dayland were to be attacked. It doesn’t even have potential allies as in countries that would eventually fight on Dayland’s side. Admittedly, some of this information is very secret and there might be exceptions. The one worrying aspect is that this has never been the case before. One does not need to be a historian to realise that whenever an attack came from the dark side, at least half of Nightland was either neutral or on Dayland’s side. Some people will interject: “Oh, they are divided, at odds, it’s an illusion maintained by the printing presses, they would get a bloody nose” etc.

All of these statements are questionable.[2] The currently dominant empire of the Nightland has pretty much absolute control over its minions. Minor disputes are normal within any military, political and economic union. Note that none of the predicted cataclysmic ruptures between the partners in crime ever happened. No great economic crisis that has been predicted since before the occupation of the Borderlands has taken place. If anything, the push towards the lands of the light has intensified—the two are not mutually exclusive. Briefly, things are not looking good for Dayland, not because it is not doing well, but because a large portion of the “developed” world is still allied against it and this in itself is unprecedented and must be dealt with pronto.

The “problem” of the title is that such a situation always calls for active steps and measures aimed at weakening, confusing and discouraging the attacking opponent. Of course, such steps should always be combined with defensive and diplomatic moves but to remove the threat, a serious aggressive pushback on the part of Dayland is needed as soon as possible. When I say “aggressive”, I don’t mean crudely so. What I mean is that a fundamental change of heart is necessary. Over a thousand years of defensive wars have conditioned Dayland’s soldiers and politicians to avoid conflict as long as possible. Whether this is because of deficiencies in forward planning or deep morality is moot—the pattern of procrastination and delaying the inevitable has characterised Dayland’s military, diplomatic and political strategies for a very long time. This would not be much of a problem if it didn’t result in significant (and avoidable) losses and casualties.

Actually, it has become something of a cliché, general Winter and all. Daylanders are supposed to suffer horribly and even if they wake up in the end and prevail, the destruction wrought on them will set them back several decades—enough to strengthen Nightland and ensure its supremacy for the foreseeable future. It is this point that was countered by the great statesman who is currently at the helm of Dayland. He’d promised his opponents that Dayland would never again fight a war on its territory. Recently he had announced a substantial change to the country’s nuclear doctrine which from now on will treat any incoming missiles as nuclear—no petty stuff. And yet, this is far from enough. How come, you’ll ask? Well, if the president’s warnings and veiled threats had been sufficient, the Big Bad Wolf would not be knocking on the last piggy’s door. Admittedly, this door is made of a sturdier stuff than the previous ones but nevertheless—the fact that he has come so far should alert everybody at how precarious the situation is. We are one semi-successful colour revolution away from the ultimate victory of Nightland.

No human kindness will dissuade the scum of the earth to desist and embrace the path of peace and co-operation. The Mephistophelian financiers, venal leeches in the media, talentless parasites infesting countless NGOs and “institutes”, petty bureaucrats tasked with pulling down monuments and places of worship, businessmen sabotaging their own companies for the sake of a hidden hand and moronic generals issuing bloodcurdling threats while installing their missiles ever closer to Dayland’s borders—all of these despicable people must be given a message that they will understand and hopefully rethink their course.

3. The solution

Clearly, this is a vast topic and I have only a couple of thousand words (which I’m wasting) to outline a strategy that might or might not be successful but certainly represents a viable departure from the current dilatory posture by Dayland’s government. I shall deliberately ignore some recent attempts at countering the offensive and focus on what’s possible. One of the common quandaries in situations of this kind is that 95% of modern warfare is conducted secretly, in ways that are not only unknown but unknowable by us mere mortals. This is a world of secret institutions with large budgets and no democratic oversight, sophisticated intelligence capabilities and covert action. Although this is probably true to some extent, it makes one susceptible to a fallacy that human agency has no place in a modern war. This is analogous to what I call “cryptographer’s fallacy” which states that a brute force increase in the complexity of a cypher renders it unbreakable. As long as there is a faintest trace of human activity buried under the layers of technological obfuscation, human origins of the cypher remain discernible and actionable. This is my reasoning behind writing this. However sophisticated the enemy might appear, they cannot completely camouflage their weak spots. Even if they don’t possess any, intelligent and creative approach to counter-terror must bear fruit. The key here is unpredictability—not of the kind espoused by Donald Trump but something much more elaborate and advanced—something worthy of Russia’s genius.

Here, let me list a few principles that Dayland should embrace in order to produce a combination of a pushback and payback that is so badly needed at this moment.

3.1. By delaying the pushback, you are only making things worse for yourself. The damage/time function is passed its crossing point. The time to act is now.

3.2. There is no need to be mindlessly aggressive in the manner of the USA. The knowledge that such offensive weapons are available and can be used is often enough to dissuade the opponent. But remember, they have to be able to cause real pain.

3.3. This proposal runs against everything you have been taught and made to believe is right. Targeting “non-military” assets is an important part of this. You will have to stoop to your enemy’s level in order to rise again free from existential threat. And this time you must be ruthless—as ruthless as they are. Those sweet voices telling you to be “better” than your enemy do not necessarily wish you well.

3.4. Aggression is necessary and important in all aspects of statecraft. This does not mean a crude unyielding attack against all and sundry (this is not possible at the moment anyway) but a targeted, co-ordinated yet sub-threshold campaign of: sabotage, political warfare, targeted elimination of external and internal threats, painful reciprocal punishments for every inimical gesture and a ramping up of the threat of armed retaliation.

3.5. For this to work, you must dispense with any hopes that you will ever be accepted as equals by the West. The destruction of two of your previous incarnations in a span of about 60 years and the total war against the current one should be sobering enough. You must work for a new world in which your and other peoples will exist free from the existential threat posed by the eternal vulture.

3.6. Your adversary is neither superior nor supreme. His power rests on the pillage of ancient cultures and peoples and his time as the ruler of the world is coming to an end. That makes him dangerous but also prone to errors. Act like the brave guerrillas of old. Avoid direct punches (set battles) but fight back as fiercely as you can. It is not so much about results but attitude. He must know that any inimical moves will be costly and painful for him and his lackeys.

3.7. Once you accept the above, a whole new arsenal of subtle weapons will become accessible. This includes a myriad of fine-grain activities and micro-scale operations which can achieve remarkable results if capably co-ordinated and efficiently carried out. If you succeed in putting these in motion, you will not need hypersonic weapons (although they do help).

4. The strategy

It is here that things become interesting and difficult. How can a strategy be designed that is so sophisticated that the enemy cannot parry it (while its implementation does not involve undue effort)? First, one has to recognise that the power differential means that there is little room for error. Even more important than this is a lack of predictability which confounds the adversary and transfers initiative to the defending camp. And although the defender has fewer means to retaliate, he can make up for it by leveraging his assets and using them to his maximum advantage. These are not always visible. For example, … oh hell, enough of this silly charade! The ongoing stereotype about Russia is “gas and hackers”.

Although corny and offensive, the stereotype holds a grain of truth. For years, analysts have been speculating on the importance of gas pipelines as an appropriate deterrent. However, after five years of toing and froing on the gas front, it is becoming clear that this kind of weapon is very ineffective. The reasons are: a) it can be easily neutralised or bypassed and b) even if it’s not, it always leads to an eventual loss of influence (workings of the market, anti-Russian Western courts etc.). While it may be useful to have somewhere in the arsenal, history tells us that Russia would never use petrochemicals as a weapon even against its worst enemies. By contrast, the relentless “meddling” campaign in the West reminds us that Russia’s programmers and computer scientists are its top asset and I hope they are sufficiently incentivised to stay in Russia and protect her from the perennial aggressor. The future wars will be largely electronic.

In order to deprive Russia of freedom of action and oxygen of public sympathy, the West has embarked on an unprecedented coordinated campaign of demonisation of Russia as well as persecution, expulsion, arrest and assassination of its citizens. The degree of agreement in public opinion achieved by the new Nazis is mindboggling and I am not using this word lightly. All across the Western world Russian diplomatic property is being confiscated, ambassadors are being killed and diplomats expelled in their hundreds. The very mention of “Russia” is sufficient to trigger adverse associations in the majority of Westerners. Sanction after sanction is fired at the Russian state and its functionaries and capital projects are sabotaged without impunity.

What has been very surprising all the way through this escalating crisis is the apparent meekness of the Russian response to the enemy’s blows. By this I don’t mean complete inaction, but the belief that things are not irretrievably bad, that one event or another (e.g. election) could turn this crusade around and allow the Russians to breathe freely. Unfortunately, highly nuanced diplomatic warnings, allusions to possible outcomes, the tactic of always leaving an escape hatch ajar so that the partnyor doesn’t for one moment have to consider the consequences of his transgressions—are less than ineffective. For the adversary assumes that Russia is more afraid of an escalation (which is happening anyway) than offending or angering the evil behemoth (which is happening anyway).[3]

While going through the motions, the Americans are tightening the screws as we speak. Even the criminal geopolitical reprobate—Germany—dares threaten Russia openly without any meaningful response (Navalny, Byelorussia, Moldova, Ukraine etc.). In a word, Russia’s posture is dangerously passive. Although useful once, when a parity existed in the deadly power between the West and the East, this posture has long outlived its usefulness. It appears as a timorous, peace-at-all costs-seeking response to serious aggressive moves. The aggressor knows that Russian benevolence is not a consequence of power because this is only shown rarely and in exceptional circumstances (like the Americans who occasionally but very rarely give Russia a pat on the back). Rather, in Russia’s case it’s becoming a trope, a cliched modus operandi which hopes to appease the enemy and stay his merciless hand. But his hand won’t be stayed. He has ignored Russia’s pleading and president Putin’s warnings and is marching on. I am convinced that a change of tack is sorely needed. Judo might appear defensive but its ultimate aim is slamming an opponent against the tatami—and worse.

The three requirements that should guide a successful response strategy by Russia are:

4a. A deep change of heart

This point is perhaps the most important because it requires the most extensive social and psychological intervention. What do I mean by a “DCH”? In order to remove the curse of the West from its borders, first Russia needs to remove the West from its hearts. None of the super advanced hypersonic weapons will be worth a dime if those who are supposed to fire them idolise Hollywood and rap and fantasise about living in California or Bavaria (e. g. Gorbachev). I know that this sounds over the top but we are in an over-the-top situation where no rational dialogue is possible. We are dealing with an opponent who understands only brute force and considers Russians nothing more than dangerous semi-humans. I know, you’ll hear Americans say—oh, I’ve had Russian neighbours and they are lovely people, hard-working, keeping themselves to themselves blah blah. Aren’t you tired of that ….? The future for Russia will be very grim unless it breaks off its dependence on the West as an eternal magnetic pole of virtue and civilisation. Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe and Molière are dead and nothing will bring them back. Moreover, they have nothing to do with the unthinking racist, fascist, imperialist and chauvinist West as it is now.

The West is not a Nirvana of tolerance, gentility and democracy. It’s an artificial predatory organism whose genocidal hunger grows in proportion to the number of innocent lives it has snuffed out. It can sustain social peace at home as long as it is allowed to rob, steal and traduce abroad. Its long-term prospects being bleak, it is intent on dragging the world into the abyss not unlike what a dying Balrog did to Gandalf the Grey (damn that British propaganda). I am not advocating a total break with the West but a watchful, vary mistrust inspired by the awareness of West’s true intentions towards Russia. While it is difficult if not impossible to control the feelings of the millions of ordinary Russians, the example must come from the top. Credit where credit’s due—I am seeing a belated attempt to disrupt the activity of enemy agents inside Russia. I’ll quote Colonel Cassad: “Better late than never”.

4b. Aggressive forward posture

Emotionally, the hardest part for anybody who understands the underlying dynamics of the “European” imperialism and cares about Russia is the reactive posture of the Russian governing structures in the face of dehumanising treatment by the West. The cliches such as “open doors”, “international law”, “peaceful coexistence” and “always ready” etc. only embolden the enemy and show up Russian policy as weak, dilatory and unprepared to respond in kind (even if it Russia’s true strength is much greater).[4] This needs to change very soon if Russia is to stand any chance of regaining initiative in international relations. At the same time, the avalanche of slander and sabotage was so vast that waiting for it to rumble its way down the mountainside might have seemed like a good strategy.

Examples abound, for instance the humiliating treatment of Russia by the Bulgarians (South Stream, diplomat expulsions etc.). What should have been done was to expose Bulgaria to the maximum pressure especially economic and diplomatic. Subtle co-ordinated campaign of harassment of Bulgarian diplomats, businessmen and spies should have been par for the course. A concerted effort to harm Bulgaria might not have destroyed the country but could have contributed to a change in policy. If large gestures were out of question, an accumulation of small steps would have more than sufficed. But nothing ever came of it. The Bulgarians harassed Russian diplomats instead and the whole messy saga was forgotten. What hasn’t changed is the inimical posture by the country which owes its birth and survival to Russia. A more recent insulting treatment of Sergei Lavrov by the Croatian and “Bosnian” apparatchiks stick in one’s craw and reinforce the impression of severe weakness of the Russian foreign policy.

The recent shameful pronouncements by a Jewish president of the Ukraine whose grandfather had fought in the Red Army to the effect that Russia was guilty of starting WWII has been met by a mild rebuke from the Russian foreign ministry. A similar non-response was given following the threat by a Vukro-Nazi to deprive the population of Crimea of running water. Where are all the GRU illegals, Spetznaz snipers and sappers? What about the monuments to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War?

Every insult or threat directed at a Russian citizen (or symbol) irrespective of their status needs to be answered in kind. Let me give you a broad-brush example. For every Russian arrested abroad without a clear criminal case, a national of the offending country should be held in custody until the Russian has been released. If this is not possible, a company belonging to the offending country should be closed down and its property nationalised. For every Russian diplomat dying under less than completely innocent circumstances or being expelled, a foreign diplomat should be expelled in turn or a consulate closed down. This might be costly in the short term but would soon disabuse the barbarians of the notion that Russians are a meek and forgiving sort. Of course, these crude examples should be elaborated in order to confuse the enemy.

Sanctions are a matter of state policy but under no circumstances should they (or counter-sanctions) be applied half-heartedly. All sanctions must be treated as weapons of war. Consequently, they must never be used as a “warning” or a “slap”. Why? Because this kind of response must have been factored in by the enemy at the planning stage. Either they should be aimed at seriously harming the opponent or should be left in the rifle locker. I have the impression that Russia has been applying all of its economic weapons half-heartedly and very reluctantly.

Immediate and painful retaliation must follow any attack on Russia’s interests. Why? Because the cliché about “best served cold” is often just an excuse of the powerless. If the retaliation is not contingent on and contiguous with the original crime, it loses its meaning and its potency. Let me return to the South Stream—Russian pipeline that should have solved the problems of gas supply for the whole of Southern and Central Europe—was cancelled after a single visit to the quisling Bulgarian regime by a rabidly Russophobe US senator. After all the billions of roubles spent and thousands of hours of political, diplomatic and engineering work invested in the project, Russia’s only link with the Balkans was closed down irreversibly in a day. Russia’s response? Zilch, nada. Can this go on?

4c. Unpredictability/flexibility

If response in kind is not possible (I refuse to believe this), then small-scale but unpredictable retaliatory steps are the order of the day. One could argue that Russia’s responses are highly predictable. To illustrate—ever since say 2007, has Russia ONCE made a pro-active move that would inflict pain on its adversaries BEFORE they’d struck Russia? One can drown in excuses—Russians are trying to prevent a war (why is it their duty to do so?), they are polite (typical patronising Western head-patting) and a million others. A great deal has been made of President Putin’s stealthy moves in the Crimea and Syria. YES, that is the right way to go about things in foreign policy but at ALL LEVELS and most of the time (and often in advance of the enemy’s move). Instead of the Duma deliberating at how and when to respond (which leaves Russia an open book to its adversaries), a semi-clandestine organisation within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to be formed which would work out strategies and scheduling of retaliatory responses in advance. This should be based on pseudo-random schedules where the timing and content of individual steps are not easily predicted. Furthermore, such steps should be individually intractable and only understandable when viewed as parts of a higher-level whole.

There is no reason why such strategies cannot be tweaked and adapted to real-life scenarios very quickly. The point is that the enemy reads Russia’s responses as a kind of simple code that is easy to break. “We shall respond symmetrically!” Who cares—the enemy knows this already. You should confound them by responding in a manner that gives your response maximum power. This is particularly important for a country that can compete with the West in terms of intellect but not money. In other words, I am asking for a wholesale change in strategy—from nuclear bombers to mini drone swarms (each element is insignificant but coordinated, large numbers of weak elements are capable of causing substantial damage).

I need to reiterate in conclusion that some of what I described above is starting to percolate into the official pronouncements and actions of the Russian government. They have changed Russia’s nuclear posture, restricted the space for activities of various foreign organisations and possibly social media. Further, the tone of Russian diplomacy has changed considerably in the last six to 12 months (although not perhaps as much as I would wish). This of course is very welcome but again predictable and easily ignored.[5] So in the spirit of the great victory of the Soviet people, I humbly propose: Not a step back!


  1. This is an informal title of the Order 227 issued on 28th July 1942 by Joseph Stalin with the aim of stopping the seemingly unceasing advance by the Germans and their allies. This essay is a polemic and not an attempt at objective analysis. 
  2. As I am finishing this piece, I read that Britain has exited the EU. I consider this a positive sign—the idea of a “united West” (a complete abomination and a death sentence for Russia) has gone for good. Furthermore, the Russian government has undertaken a number of positive and necessary steps aimed at reversing the enemy’s advance. 
  3. I have studied this weakness of Russian statecraft in some depth. A very similar thing occurred in the years preceding WWI when Germany decided to assert its dominance in the Balkans. Russians tried to accommodate the brazen and insulting German demands until the very last moment. To those who disagree—if I am wrong, why is the West continuing with its aggressive plans despite all the warnings by Russia? 
  4. Here we encounter an interesting problem. Constantly underplaying one’s strength is as dangerous as the opposite. For this reason alone, a more aggressive posture by Russia is called for. 
  5. This is another danger of predictable behaviour. The enemy is incentivised to ignore it until it’s too late. By the way, public deliberation is fine as long as it has the potential of producing unexpected outcomes. 

How Joe Biden Plans to Make The American Empire Great Again

Joe Biden Foreign Policy Feature photo

By Dan Cohen

Source

Throughout his campaign, Joe Biden railed against Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy, claiming it weakened the United States and left the world in disarray.

He pledged to reverse this decline and recover the damage Trump did to America’s reputation. While Donald Trump called to make America Great Again, Biden seeks to Make the American Empire Great Again.

Among the president-elect’s pledges is to end the so-called forever wars – the decades-long imperial projects in Afghanistan and Iraq that began under the Bush administration.

Yet Biden – a fervent supporter of those wars – will task ending them to the most neoconservative elements of the Democratic party and ideologues of permanent war.

Michele Flournoy and Tony Blinken sit atop Biden’s thousands-strong foreign policy brain trust and have played central roles in every U.S. war going back to the Clinton administration.

In the Trump era, they’ve cashed in, founding Westexec Advisors – a corporate consulting firm that has become home for Obama administration officials awaiting a return to government.

Flournoy is Biden’s leading pick for secretary of defense and Blinken is expected to be national security advisor.

Biden’s foxes guard the henhouse

Since the 1990s, Flournoy and Blinken have steadily risen through the ranks of the military-industrial complex, shuffling back and forth between the Pentagon and hawkish think-tanks funded by the U.S. government, weapons companies, and oil giants.

Under Bill Clinton, Flournoy was the principal author of the 1996 Quadrinellial Defense Review, the document that outlined the U.S. military’s doctrine of permanent war – what it called “full spectrum dominance.”

Flournoy called for “unilateral use of military power” to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.”

As Bush administration officials lied to the world about Saddam Hussein’s supposed WMD’s, Flournoy remarked that “In some cases, preemptive strikes against an adversary’s [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities may be the best or only option we have to avert a catastrophic attack against the United States.”

Tony Blinken was a top advisor to then-Senate foreign relations committee chair Joe Biden, who played a key role in shoring up support among the Democrat-controlled Senate for Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

As Iraq was plunged into chaos and bloodshed, Flournoy was among the authors of a paper titled “Progressive Internationalism” that called for a “smarter and better” style of permanent war. The paper chastised the anti-war left and stated that  “Democrats will maintain the world’s most capable and technologically advanced military, and we will not flinch from using it to defend our interests anywhere in the world.”

With Bush winning a second term, Flournoy advocated for more troop deployments from the sidelines.

In 2005, Flournoy signed onto a letter from the neoconservative think tank Project for a New American Century, asking Congress to “increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps (by) at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years.”

In 2007, she leveraged her Pentagon experience and contacts to found what would become one of the premier Washington think tanks advocating endless war across the globe: the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

CNAS is funded by the U.S. government, arms manufacturers, oil giants, Silicon Valley tech giants, billionaire-funded foundations, and big banks.

Flournoy joined the Obama administration and was appointed as under secretary of defense for policy, the position considered the “brains” of the Pentagon.

She was keenly aware that the public was wary of more quagmires. In the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, she crafted a new concept of warfare that would expand the permanent war state while giving the appearance of a drawdown.

Flournoy wrote that “unmanned systems hold great promise” – a reference to the CIA’s drone assassination program.

This was the Obama-era military doctrine of hybrid war. It called for the U.S. to be able to simultaneously wage war on numerous fronts through secret warfare, clandestine weapons transfers to proxies, drone strikes, and cyber-attacks – all buttressed with propaganda campaigns targeting the American public through the internet and corporate news media.

Architects of America’s Hybrid wars

Flournoy continued to champion the endless wars that began in the Bush-era and was a key architect of Obama’s disastrous troop surge in Afghanistan. As U.S. soldiers returned in body bags and insurgent attacks and suicide bombings increased some 65% from 2009 and 2010, she deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee, claiming that the U.S. was beginning to turn the tide against the Taliban.

Even with her lie that the U.S. and Afghan government were starting to beat the Taliban back, Flournoy assured the senate that the U.S. would have to remain in Afghanistan long into the future.

Ten years later – as the Afghan death toll passed 150,000 – Flournoy continued to argue against a U.S. withdrawal.

That’s the person Joe Biden has tasked with ending the forever war in Afghanistan. But in Biden’s own words, he’ll “bring the vast majority of our troops home from Afghanistan” implying some number of American troops will remain, and the forever war will be just that. Michele Flournoy explained that even if a political settlement were reached, the U.S. would maintain a presence.

In 2011, the Obama-era doctrine of smart and sophisticated warfare was unveiled in the NATO regime-change war on Libya.

Moammar Gaddafi – the former adversary who sought warm relations with the U.S. and had given up his nuclear weapons program  – was deposed and sodomized with a bayonet.

Flournoy, Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and corporate media were in lockstep as they waged an extensive propaganda campaign to deceive the U.S. public that Gadaffi’s soldiers were on a Viagra-fueled rape and murder spree that demanded a U.S. intervention.

All of this was based on a report from Al Jazeera – the media outlet owned by the Qatari monarchy that was arming extremist militias to overthrow the government.

Yet an investigation by the United Nations called the rape claims “hysteria.” Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch found no credible evidence of even a single rape.

Even after Libya was descended into strife and the deception of Gadaffi’s forces committing rape was debunked, Michele Flournoy stood by her support for the war.

Tony Blinken, then Obama’s deputy national security advisor, also pushed for regime change in Libya. He became Obama’s point man on Syria, pushed to arm the so-called “moderate rebels” that fought alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS, and designed the red line strategy to trigger a full-on U.S. intervention. Syria, he told the public, wasn’t anything like the other wars the U.S. had waging for more than a decade.

Despite Blinken’s promises that it would be a short affair, the war on Syria is now in its ninth year. An estimated half a million people have been killed as a result and the country is facing famine,

Largely thanks to the policy of using “wheat to apply pressure” – a recommendation of Flournoy and Blinken’s CNAS think tank.

When the Trump administration launched airstrikes on Syria based on mere accusations of a chemical attack, Tony Blinken praised the bombing, claiming Assad had used the weapon of mass destruction sarin. Yet there was no evidence for this claim, something even then-secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted.

While jihadist mercenaries armed with U..S-supplied weapons took over large swaths of Syria, Tony Blinken played a central role in a coup d’etat in Ukraine that saw a pro-Russia government overthrown in a U.S.-orchestrated color revolution with neo-fascist elements agitating on the ground.

At the time, he was ambivalent about sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, instead opting for economic pressure.

Since then, fascist militias have been incorporated into Ukraine’s armed forces. And Tony Blinken urged Trump to send them deadly weapons – something Obama had declined to do.

Trump obliged.

The Third Offset

While the U.S. fuelled wars in Syria and Ukraine, the Pentagon announced a major shift called the Third Offset strategy – a reference to the cold war era strategies the U.S. used to maintain its military supremacy over the Soviet Union.

The Third Offset strategy shifted the focus from counterinsurgency and the war on terror to great power competition against China and Russia, seeking to ensure that the U.S. could win a war against China in Asia. It called for a technological revolution in warfighting capabilities, development of futuristic and autonomous weapons, swarms of undersea and airborne drones, hypersonic weapons, cyber warfare, machine-enhanced soldiers, and artificial intelligence making unimaginably complex battlefield decisions at speeds incomprehensible to the human mind. All of this would be predicated on the Pentagon deepening its relationship with Silicon Valley giants that it birthed decades before: Google and Facebook.

The author of the Third Offset, former undersecretary of defense Robert Work, is a partner of Flournoy and Blinken’s at WestExec Advisors. And Flournoy has been a leading proponent of this dangerous new escalation.

In June, Flournoy published a lengthy commentary laying out her strategy called “Sharpening the U.S. Military’s Edge: Critical Steps for the Next Administration”.

She warned that the United States is losing its military technological advantage and reversing that must be the Pentagon’s priority. Without it, Flournoy warned that the U.S. might not be able to defeat China in Asia.

While Flournoy has called for ramping up U.S. military presence and exercises with allied forces in the region, she went so far as to call for the U.S. to increase its destructive capabilities so much that it could launch a blitzkrieg style-attack that would wipe out the entire Chinese navy and all civilian merchant ships in the South China Sea. Not only a blatant war crime but a direct attack on a nuclear power that would spell the third world war.

At the same time, Biden has announced he’ll take an even more aggressive and confrontational stance against Russia, a position Flournoy shares.

As for ending the forever wars, Tony Blinken says not so fast.

The end of forever wars?

So Biden will end the forever wars, but not really end them. Secret wars that the public doesn’t even know the U.S. is involved in – those are here to stay.

In fact, leaving teams of special forces in place throughout the Middle East is part and parcel of the Pentagon’s shift away from counterinsurgency and towards great power competition.

The 2018 National Defense Strategy explains that “Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities” and the U.S. will “consolidate gains in Iraq and Afghanistan while moving to a more resource-sustainable approach.”

As for the catastrophic war on Yemen, Biden has said he’ll end U.S. support, but in 2019, Michele Flournoy argued against ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Biden pledged he will rejoin the Iran deal as a starting point for new negotiations. However, Trump’s withdrawal from the deal discredited the Iranian reformists who seek engagement with the west and empowered the principlists who see the JCPOA as a deal with the devil.

In Latin America, Biden will revive the so-called anti-corruption campaigns that were used as a cover to oust the popular social democrat Brazilian president Lula da Silva.

His Venezuela policy will be almost identical to Trump’s – sanctions and regime change.

In Central America, Biden has proposed a 4 billion dollar package to support corrupt right-wing governments and neoliberal privatization projects that create even more destabilization and send vulnerable masses fleeing north to the United States.

Behind their rhetoric, Biden, Flournoy, and Blinken will seek nothing less than global supremacy, escalating a new and even more dangerous arms race that risks the destruction of humanity. That’s what Joe Biden calls “decency” and “normalcy.”

Syria’s International Conference On Refugees Is A Masterclass In Balancing

By Andrew Korybko

Source

The kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria has mostly drawn to a close, as evidenced by the milestone event of the country hosting an international conference on the return of refugees, which resulted in several significant outcomes that speak to the masterful execution of its “balancing” strategy and raise hope that the Arab Republic will eventually transform into the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of China’s visionary W-CPEC+ corridor across Eurasia.

Strategically Disarming “Weapons Of Mass Migration”

Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees is a milestone event for the country’s war which shows that the kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror against it has mostly drawn to a close. President Assad’s keynote speech saw the Syrian leader thanking his Russian and Iranian wartime allies for their help getting to this point and encouraging his compatriots abroad to finally return home. He claimed that some of their host countries are exploiting them for financial and other reasons, strongly hinting that they’re being used against their will as “Weapons of Mass Migration” like Ivy League scholar Kelly M. Greenhill earlier described such a phenomenon. In connection with that, President Assad condemned those states which continue to impose illegal sanctions against the Arab Republic, which has disincentivized some refugees from returning home and thus results in artificially perpetuating this historic humanitarian crisis that was initially sparked by their external war of regime change aggression against his people through terrorist means.

Syria’s “Balancing” Act

Thankfully, Syria can count on its Russian and Iranian wartime allies to help reconstruct the ruined country and thus facilitate the return of millions of refugees to their homeland. To this end, Russia promised to allocate $1 billion as well as open up a trade mission in Damascus while Iran suggested setting up an international fund for this purpose. Both countries seem poised to enter into a “friendly competition” with one another for reconstruction contracts and market space which can only work out to Syria’s ultimate benefit. The Arab Republic is therefore expected to retain its carefully calibrated “balancing” act between them, wisely doing its utmost to prevent the emergence of any complete dependence on either of them in the future. This strategy is consistent with what it’s always pursued over the decades and represents its masterful execution which too many other small- and medium-sized states previously attempted but to no avail. Even worse, many of Syria’s peers saw this strategy backfire on them, thus leading to either their ruin or full dependence on one partner.

Full credit goes to Syria’s world-class diplomats for being able to manage such a difficult policy with such success. Not only are they “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but they also managed to attract the important participation of other countries in their international refugee conference, most curious of which for some observers is Pakistan. Those who only casually follow Syrian affairs might have missed it, but Islamabad recently dispatched massive medical aid to the Arab Republic. This and its participation in the international conference show that the “global pivot state” (which the author previously referred to it as) is capable of bold foreign policy moves independent of its close American, Saudi, and Turkish partners. Pakistan, just like Syria, is also practicing its own “balancing” act between its aforementioned three traditional partners and its three newest ones of Russia, China, and Iran. In fact, it can be argued that Pakistan and Syria are in the process of synergizing their respective “balancing” strategies for the betterment of Eurasia.

Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria”

To explain, not only is Syria “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but also between India and Pakistan too. Although Damascus and Delhi have a long history of close relations, Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shabaan told the Hindustan Times in August 2017 that her country is becoming hesitant about India’s role in its reconstruction after Prime Minister Modi’s highly publicized trip to “Israel” where he did everything from sign intergovernmental deals solidifying their de-facto alliance to even walking barefoot with Netanyahu along the beach. The author realized at the time that this is “Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria” whereby Islamabad could flex its anti-Zionist credentials to present itself as a much more credible partner than pro-Zionist Delhi in pursuit of strengthening the two state’s historic relations that reached their high point in 1974 after a Pakistani pilot flying a Syrian jet shot down an “Israeli” fighter flying over the occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s diplomats were evidently receptive to Pakistan’s outreaches, hence the steady improvement of ties.

The Winding Road To W-CPEC+

It’s not just nostalgia for their Old Cold War-era ties nor their shared hatred of “Israel” that’s bringing them closer together nowadays, but pro-Chinese Silk Road pragmatism. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and its western branch corridor (W-CPEC+) through Iran has the chance of not only reaching Russia by running parallel with the stalled North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) across Azerbaijan but can also extend as far as Syria via Iraq. China is the little-discussed third economic force apart from Russia and Iran which is engaged in a “friendly competition” with its partners to develop Syria, and the improvement of Syrian-Pakistani relations as is presently happening could result in W-CPEC+ extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, all of which are allied with one another. It’ll of course take a lot of political will from all sides — not least of all Pakistan — to see this ambitious vision through, but if successful, then it could revolutionize Mideast geopolitics.

All five countries — China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and Syria — would benefit from this outcome. The People’s Republic is the world’s second-largest economy and actively eyeing more positions in the Eastern Mediterranean to complement its prospective ones in “Israel”, albeit via more geopolitically reliable mainland routes than the maritime ones connecting it to the self-professed “Jewish State”. Pakistan has an interest in bolstering its credential as the “global pivot state” by having CPEC serve as the platform for integrating Eurasia more closely together. Iran, which is desperately seeking all manner of sanctions relief, is reportedly negotiating a gargantuan economic agreement with China and would certainly benefit by facilitating more East-West trade through its territory. As for Russia, its recent control over Tartus means that it could profit from any Syrian export of Chinese products through that port. As for the Arab Republic itself, its expected benefit is that this vision would accelerate its reconstruction and allow it to finally actualize its pre-war “Five Seas Strategy”.

Concluding Thoughts

All told, Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees was about much more than just its titular topic. Reading between the lines of the details that have since been revealed about this milestone event, it was actually a masterclass in Syria’s “balancing” strategy. The Arab Republic proved that its diplomats are among the most highly skilled in the world after successfully “balancing” between Russia and Iran, as well as India and Pakistan, all with the aim of fulfilling its visionary “Five Seas Strategy” which some argue was partially responsible for provoking the Hybrid War of Terror that’s been viciously waged against it for almost an entire decade already. In the best-case scenario, Syria will eventually serve as the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of the W-CPEC+ corridor connecting that strategic body of water with the Pacific Ocean via a several-country-long mainland commercial corridor. The successful fulfillment of this vision would revolutionize not only Mideast geopolitics, but also Eurasian geopolitics as a whole, which thus makes it an urgent priority for all.

Iron Curtain still separates Russia and the EU

Iron Curtain still separates Russia and the EU

October 21, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, is the world’s foremost diplomat. The son of an Armenian father and a Russian mother, he’s just on another level altogether. Here, once again, we may be able to see why.

Let’s start with the annual meeting of the Valdai Club, Russia’s premier think tank. Here we may follow the must-watch presentation of the Valdai annual report on “The Utopia of a Diverse World”, featuring, among others, Lavrov, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, Dominic Lieven of the University of Cambridge and Yuri Slezkine of UCLA/Berkeley.

It’s a rarity to be able to share what amounts to a Himalayan peak in terms of serious political debate. We have, for instance, Lieven – who, half in jest, defined the Valdai report as “Tolstoyian, a little anarchical” – focusing on the current top two, great interlocking challenges: climate change and the fact that “350 years of Western and 250 years of Anglo-American predominance are coming to an end.”

As we see the “present world order fading in front of our eyes”, Lieven notes a sort of “revenge of the Third World”. But then, alas, Western prejudice sets in all over again, as he defines China reductively as a “challenge”.

Mearsheimer neatly remembers we have lived, successively, under a bipolar, unipolar and now multipolar world: with China, Russia and the US, “Great Power Politics is back on the table.”

He correctly assesses that after the dire experience of the “century of humiliation, the Chinese will make sure they are really powerful.” And that will set the stage for the US to deploy a “highly-aggressive containment policy”, just like it did against the USSR, that “may well end up in a shooting match”.

“I trust Arnold more than the EU”

Lavrov, in his introductory remarks, had explained that in realpolitik terms, the world “cannot be run from one center alone.” He took time to stress the “meticulous, lengthy and sometimes ungrateful” work of diplomacy.

It was later, in one of his interventions, that he unleashed the real bombshell (starting at 1:15:55; in Russian, overdubbed in English): “When the European Union is speaking as a superior, Russia wants to know, can we do any business with Europe?”

He mischievously quotes Schwarzenegger, “who in his movies always said ‘Trust me’. So I trust Arnold more than the European Union”.

And that leads to the definitive punch line: “The people who are responsible for foreign policy in the West do not understand the necessity of mutual respect in dialogue. And then probably for some time we have to stop talking to them.” After all, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had stated, on the record, that for the EU, “there is no geopolitical partnership with modern Russia”.

Lavrov went even further in a stunning, wide-ranging interview with Russian radio stations whose translation deserves to be carefully read in full.

Here is just one of the most crucial snippets:

Lavrov: “No matter what we do, the West will try to hobble and restrain us, and undermine our efforts in the economy, politics, and technology. These are all elements of one approach.”

Question: “Their national security strategy states that they will do so.”

Lavrov: “Of course it does, but it is articulated in a way that decent people can still let go unnoticed, but it is being implemented in a manner that is nothing short of outrageous.”

Question: You, too, can articulate things in a way that is different from what you would really like to say, correct?”

Lavrov: “It’s the other way round. I can use the language I’m not usually using to get the point across. However, they clearly want to throw us off balance, and not only by direct attacks on Russia in all possible and conceivable spheres by way of unscrupulous competition, illegitimate sanctions and the like, but also by unbalancing the situation near our borders, thus preventing us from focusing on creative activities. Nevertheless, regardless of the human instincts and the temptations to respond in the same vein, I’m convinced that we must abide by international law.”

Moscow stands unconditionally by international law – in contrast with the proverbial “rules of the liberal international order” jargon parroted by NATO and its minions such as the Atlantic Council.

And here it is all over again, a report extolling NATO to “Ramp Up on Russia”, blasting Moscow’s “aggressive disinformation and propaganda campaigns against the West, and unchecked adventurism in the Middle East, Africa, and Afghanistan.”

The Atlantic Council insists on how those pesky Russians have once again defied “the international community by using an illegal chemical weapon to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny. NATO’s failure to halt Russia’s aggressive behavior puts the future of the liberal international order at risk.”

Only fools falling for the blind leading the blind syndrome don’t know that these liberal order “rules” are set by the Hegemon alone, and can be changed in a flash according to the Hegemon’s whims.

So it’s no wonder a running joke in Moscow is “if you don’t listen to Lavrov, you will listen to Shoigu.” Sergey Shoigu is Russia’s Minister of Defense, supervising all those hypersonic weapons the US industrial-military complex can only dream about.

The crucial point is even with so much NATO-engendered hysteria, Moscow could not give a damn because of its de facto military supremacy. And that freaks Washington and Brussels out even more.

What’s left is Hybrid War eruptions following the RAND corporation-prescribed non-stop harassment and “unbalancing” of Russia, in Belarus, the southern Caucasus and Kyrgyzstan – complete with sanctions on Lukashenko and on Kremlin officials for the Navalny “poisoning”.

“You do not negotiate with monkeys”

What Lavrov just made it quite explicit was a long time in the making. “Modern Russia” and the EU were born almost at the same time. On a personal note, I experienced it in an extraordinary fashion. “Modern Russia” was born in December 1991 – when I was on the road in India, then Nepal and China. When I arrived in Moscow via the Trans-Siberian in February 1992, the USSR was no more. And then, flying back to Paris, I arrived at a European Union born in that same February.

One of Valdai’s leaders correctly argues that the daring concept of a “Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok” coined by Gorbachev in 1989, right before the collapse of the USSR, unfortunately “had no document or agreement to back it up.”

And yes, “Putin searched diligently for an opportunity to implement the partnership with the EU and to further rapprochement. This continued from 2001 until as late as 2006.”

We all remember when Putin, in 2010, proposed exactly the same concept, a common house from Lisbon to Vladivostok, and was flatly rebuffed by the EU. It’s very important to remember this was four years before the Chinese would finalize their own concept of the New Silk Roads.

Afterwards, the only way was down. The final Russia-EU summit took place in Brussels in January 2014 – an eternity in politics.

The fabulous intellectual firepower gathered at the Valdai is very much aware that the Iron Curtain 2.0 between Russia and the EU simply won’t disappear.

And all this while the IMF, The Economist and even that Thucydides fallacy proponent admit that China is already, in fact, the world’s top economy.

Russia and China share an enormously long border. They are engaged in a complex, multi-vector “comprehensive strategic partnership”. That did not develop because the estrangement between Russia and the EU/NATO forced Moscow to pivot East, but mostly because the alliance between the world’s neighboring top economy and top military power makes total Eurasian sense – geopolitically and geoeconomically.

And that totally corroborates Lieven’s diagnosis of the end of “250 years of Anglo-American predominance.”

It was up to inestimable military analyst Andrey Martyanov, whose latest book I reviewed as a must read, to come up with the utmost deliciously devastating assessment of Lavrov’s “We had enough” moment:

“Any professional discussion between Lavrov and former gynecologist [actually epidemiologist] such as von der Leyen, including Germany’s Foreign Minister Maas, who is a lawyer and a party worm of German politics is a waste of time. Western “elites” and “intellectuals” are simply on a different, much lower level, than said Lavrov. You do not negotiate with monkeys, you treat them nicely, you make sure that they are not abused, but you don’t negotiate with them, same as you don’t negotiate with toddlers. They want to have their Navalny as their toy – let them. I call on Russia to start wrapping economic activity up with EU for a long time. They buy Russia’s hydrocarbons and hi-tech, fine. Other than that, any other activity should be dramatically reduced and necessity of the Iron Curtain must not be doubted anymore.”

As much as Washington is not “agreement-capable”, in the words of President Putin, so is the EU, says Lavrov: “We should stop to orient ourselves toward European partners and care about their assessments.”

Not only Russia knows it: the overwhelming majority of the Global South also knows it.

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

Source

12 OCTOBER 2020

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

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

Welcome To The New Cold War

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

The US’ Hybrid War On Russia

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

Governing Differences

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

The End Of The “Great Convergence”

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

The “Russian Model”

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

The Rise Of America’s Russian Rival

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

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

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

Post-Soviet Russia’s Irreversible Impact On Western Civilization

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

Concluding Thoughts

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

Will the Israel-US “New Wars” Succeed in Weakening Hezbollah?

Source

October 9, 2020

When conventional military war failed to defeat the Lebanese Hezbollah, Israel and the US adopted different tactics in the art of war whilst avoiding overt conflict in the public eye. The new tactics, whilst not excluding traditional warfare, include a group of wars or actions based on irregular formations, terrorist acts, chaos, sanctions, electronic platform warfare, media wars, propaganda, fake news, the division of society, starvation policy and engaging the enemy from within, to weaken Hezbollah before attacking and finishing it off. This is “fifth generation war”; it is the hybrid war against Hezbollah.

The United Nations delivered a message to Hezbollah from Israel stating that killing any Israeli soldier or officer would push Israel to hit ten Hezbollah targets and centres in different regions of Lebanon. Israel has provided the maps, offices and locations it intends to target, according to a leading source familiar with the matter. 

Hezbollah replied to this message, that the bombing of ten targets in Lebanon will trigger an immediate response against ten Israeli military targets, command and control centres and other offices affiliated to the Israeli government. Precision missiles will be launched against Israel – said the message – without prior warning.

The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, had announced that he would kill an Israeli soldier in return for Israel killing a Hezbollah member in Syria while targeting a centre of the joint forces in the vicinity of Damascus. Since that day, that is, since July 2020, Israeli jets have not struck any Iranian command target in Syria. Furthermore, the Israeli army has been asked to conceal itself in its barracks to avoid triggering Hezbollah’s announced process of retaliation.

The commander of the IDF’s Northern Command, Major General Amir Baram, stated, “Israel is keen not to be dragged into a large-scale war with Hezbollah. It is fundamentally a war that both sides wish to avoid.”

Israel’s leaders no longer brandish the threat to take Lebanon back to the Stone Age by bombing and destroying the entire infrastructure and whole villages and cities as it did in the 2006 war. This is because Hezbollah has achieved a balance of deterrence: Israel has acknowledged that Hezbollah has missiles that can strike any target anywhere in Israel with enormous destructive power and precision.

Consequently, the theory – introduced by Hezbollah’s opponents in Lebanon to say the international community can protect Lebanon and not a heavily armed domestic group – that ”Lebanon is strong due to its weakness and incapacity to defend itself” has fallen. Indeed, the balance of deterrence has forced Israel and its ally the US to back down from the use of military force, without necessarily abandoning the project to weaken or defeat Hezbollah. This is what has pushed this strategic alliance (US and Israel) to shift towards “soft and hybrid warfare”. This new approach creates windows of opportunity to direct a military strike on Hezbollah to defeat it when the right time comes. That is possible only when Hezbollah becomes weak and without allies, supporters or a society protecting it, and indeed if Hezbollah fails to confront this hybrid war.

In 2006 during the second Israeli war on Lebanon, Israel did not achieve its goals because its intelligence failed to predict Hezbollah’s missile capabilities and readiness to hold its ground. The first surprise came at Wadi Al-Hujair with the Kornet anti-tank missiles and later with surface-to-surface missiles (when the class corvette Saar-5 was hit). Also, Hezbollah possessed the electronic capabilities to break through to the Israeli drones and other capabilities, which enabled it to know a large number of pre-prepared operations and targets in Israel’s bank of objectives. Israel has since modified its electronic protection with more advanced technology. However, electronic warfare continues: it is an ongoing battle with measures and countermeasures on both sides.

That is why it was necessary to introduce « hybrid warfare ». It needed another more effective approach to attack Hezbollah, more comprehensive. Let us take, for example, what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented in 2018 and a few days ago to the United Nations General Assembly about the presence of Hezbollah missiles near Beirut airport and others in the Jnah area in the Lebanese capital. In the first attempt of Netanyahu, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil reacted by inviting Country Ambassadors to visit the site. In the second most recent case, Hezbollah invited the local and international press to visit the site and to confirm the falsity of Netanyahu’s claim. However, did Netanyahu lose the two rounds against Hezbollah or did he reach his desired objective?

I asked a Lebanese leader within the “Axis of the Resistance”: How many out of the 194 representatives at the United Nations saw Nasrallah’s response to Netanyahu’s lie? The immediate answer did not wait: “”Maybe one, two – very few. “”

Consequently, the Israeli prime minister won the disinformation war, and the powerful Zionist lobby helped him in the international media to publish his colourful pictures and folkloric output and to overlook Hezbollah’s point of view. It is likely that Netanyahu aimed in his media war to amplify the already existing negative international and domestic public opinion against Hezbollah: though in Europe, most of the leaders of the old continent have refused to consider Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, resisting the tremendous US pressure to join the US-Israeli objective. 

In Lebanon, there is a well-known saying: “There are people who, if we anoint them with filtered honey, only hate us more. Others, if we wound them and cut them to pieces, love us the more.” Lebanese society is divided between those who support Hezbollah and those who hate and voice their hatred of Hezbollah. 

Whoever ideologically or by conviction supports Hezbollah will maintain the same position and never budge. As for those who support Hezbollah only circumstantially, some will turn against it or voice their criticism, particularly on social media. Many within the Lebanese Christian camp, particularly those who support the Tayyar al-Watani al-Hurr (the Free National Movement- FNM), no longer take into consideration that Hezbollah prevented the election of a President for two and a half years to impose – successfully – the FNM leader, General Michel Aoun, as President, notwithstanding domestic and international opposition. Instead, due to the US brainwashing campaign claiming that Hezbollah supports corruption or is responsible for corruption or is the ally of the Speaker Nabih Berri accused of corruption, a growing number of the FNM supporters fail to recognize the US-Israel hybrid campaign and give no more extended consideration to the alliance of two minorities (Shia and Christian) in the Levant. The expensive US economic sanctions and the decades of US-allies Lebanese-corrupted politicians overwhelm any reasoning. Daily life necessities become the priority, and alliances become marginal. The hybrid war against Hezbollah forced the society that supports the group to be entrenched and on the defensive.


By Elijah J Magnier
Source: Elijah J. Magnier

AVERTING BARBAROSSA II: THE LIANA SPACE RADIOELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM

Averting Barbarossa II: The Liana Space Radioelectronic Surveillance System
Video

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

At the end of the Cold War, the level of international tension has considerably declined for at least a decade, thanks to widespread multilateral disarmament bolstered by a variety of arms control regimes for conventional and nuclear armaments. That decade also saw the rapid deterioration of Russia’s early warning and surveillance systems as satellites launched during the Soviet era exhausted their service lives and crashed into the atmosphere without being replaced. At first, this was either not seen as an urgent priority by Russian decisionmakers or, if it was, there were more urgent priorities for scarce defense funding in an era of a prolonged economic crisis.

Fast-forwarding a decade, we find ourselves in a radically different situation. There is no more “end of history” optimism in the air, nor is there a sense of durable US hegemony either that seemed so permanent in the 1990s. Unfortunately, history tells us that such shifts in the global balance of power are fraught with danger, as the fading hegemon has an incentive to resort to extreme, reckless measures to preserve that hegemony. What makes the current situation unprecedented is this being the first hegemonic transition of the nuclear age. In the past, nuclear deterrence existed only in the context of relatively stable bipolar and then unipolar systems. Does nuclear deterrence mutually assured destruction still work under conditions of a multipolar system experiencing a hegemonic transition?

International relations theory has no answer to that question, but the US national security establishment appears to think that it doesn’t, particularly in an era of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, drone and missile swarms, hypersonic delivery vehicles, and possibly even directed energy weapons. Crash US programs in developing all of the above, far beyond anything that might be termed reasonable defensive sufficiency under conditions of the US spending far more on defense than anyone else in the world, do raise the possibility of long-term plans to prevail in the new round of great power competition through not only covert action and “hybrid warfare”, but also, if an opportunity arises, through good old fashioned strategic first strike which need no longer be delivered using nuclear weapons.

The point of Cold War-era nuclear arms treaties was not to limit the number of nuclear warheads for its own sake. Rather, it was to deprive the two superpowers of their ability to launch a disarming and decapitating strike which, given technologies of the era, could only be launched using nuclear weapons.  That is still the case today, but may not be by 2030 should the US complete its planned rearmament with a large array of land-, air-, and sea-based long-range stealthy and hypersonic weapons. Even the US Army, with its plans for “1,000-mile cannon” is once again getting into the game of strategic strike, to speak nothing of land-based hypersonic missiles. And strategic strike using non-nuclear warheads is a novel scenario in which the old “mutually assured destruction” calculations may not apply. Combined with the explosive growth of US anti-ballistic missile programs, if the rest of the world stands still, by 2030 US decision makers might find themselves tempted to launch such a strategic strike against even a major nuclear weapons state like Russia or China, to say nothing of mid-level powers like Iran or North Korea, particularly if they have no nuclear deterrent to begin with.

Except the rest of the world is not about to stand still, and the Liana space surveillance system is an important component of the Russian response to US initiatives. The imminent era of post-nuclear strategic strike demands strategic defense and stability cannot be provided solely by anti-ballistic early warning systems. They would simply provide warning of an attack once it was underway, and in view of the possibility that large numbers of hypersonic missiles could be launched very close to Russia’s borders from the territory of NATO member-states following a rapid and covert deployment, as well as submarines and stealthy bombers, that warning might come too late to make an effective response possible. To make matters worse still, US drive to destroy the Open Skies Treaty that is supposed to prevent precisely that kind of a covert preparation for a first strike, is also indicative of what the long-term US plans are.

Liana is therefore intended to provide that kind of strategic early warning, as well as operational target designation, in the event of an attempted surprise first strike. The satellite constellation is to consist of two types of satellites. The first, Pion-NKS, is a 6.5 ton satellite intended for a 67-degree, 500km orbit, with service life of more than three years. It’s development is nearly complete at the Arsenal Design Bureau. It is a high-resolution radar reconnaissance satellite, capable of positively identifying “car-sized” objects on the Earth’s surface. The second component of the Liana will be Lotos-S, a six-ton satellite operating on a 67-degree, 900km apogee orbit, and performing passive detection, identification, and location of electronic emitters, including radio communications. It was developed by the Arsenal Design Bureau, in collaboration with several other scientific research institutions. Both types of satellites are expected to be launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, using the proven and reliable Soyuz-2-1b launch vehicles. The complete Liana configuration is to consist of two Pion-NKS and two Lotos-S satellites, and open-source information sources suggest the two satellite types have a fair amount of component commonality in order to allow them not only to complement one another, but to perform each other’s primary missions though in a degraded form. So far there have been three Lotos-S launches from Plesetsk, with the first 2009 one being a failure, and the 2015 and 2018 one a success. No Pion-NKS launches have been scheduled yet, but the satellite’s advanced stage of development suggests they will occur in the coming years.

Technological advances mean that once complete, Liana will serve as a replacement for both the Legenda naval surveillance and target designation satellite network, and the Tselina radioelectronic reconnaissance one, thus providing Russian decisionmakers with the ability to monitor troop deployments and electronic activity that would inevitably precede a strategic first strike. Liana will also no doubt prove itself useful in non-Doomsday scenarios as well. The Syria experience revealed the need for reliable detection and target designation of NATO cruise-missile launch assets, including aircraft, submarines, and surface vessels. Liana’s capabilities mean both the assets themselves, other than submarines, and their communications can be monitored to reveal preparations for a strike and provide targeting information as well. It is not clear Russia would have been able to accurately strike at US warships launching cruise missiles at Syria had they been directed against Russian bases. The absence of radar surveillance satellites was a painful gap in Russia’s capabilities at that time, one that will be filled in the coming years.

China: everything proceeding according to plan

China: everything proceeding according to plan

August 24, 2020

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

Let’s start with the story of an incredibly disappearing summit.

Every August, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) converges to the town of Beidaihe, a seaside resort some two hours away from Beijing, to discuss serious policies that then coalesce into key planning strategies to be approved at the CCP Central Committee plenary session in October.

The Beidaihe ritual was established by none other than Great Helmsman Mao, who loved the town where, not by accident, Emperor Qin, the unifier of China in the 3rd century B.C., kept a palace.

2020 being, so far, a notorious Year of Living Dangerously, it’s no surprise that in the end Beidaihe was nowhere to be seen. Yet Beidaihe’s invisibility does not mean it did not happen.

Exhibit 1 was the fact that Premier Li Keqiang simply disappeared from public view for nearly two weeks – after President Xi chaired a crucial Politburo gathering in late July where what was laid out was no less than China’s whole development strategy for the next 15 years.

Li Keqiang resurfaced by chairing a special session of the all-powerful State Council, just as the CCP’s top ideologue, Wang Huning – who happens to be number 5 in the Politburo – showed up as the special guest at a meeting of the All China Youth Federation.

What’s even more intriguing is that side by side with Wang, one would find Ding Xuexiang, none other than President Xi’s chief of staff, as well as three other Politburo members.

In this “now you see them, now you don’t” variation, the fact that they all showed up in unison after an absence of nearly two weeks led sharp Chinese observers to conclude that Beidaihe in fact had taken place. Even if no visible signs of political action by the seaside had been detected. The semi-official spin is that no get-together happened at Beidaihe because of Covid-19.

Yet it’s Exhibit 2 that may clinch the deal for good. The by now famous end of July Politburo meeting chaired by Xi in fact sealed the Central Committee plenary session in October. Translation: the contours of the strategic road map ahead had already been approved by consensus. There was no need to retreat to Beidaihe for further discussions.

Trial balloons or official policy?

The plot thickens when one takes into consideration a series of trial balloons that started to float a few days ago in select Chinese media. Here are some of the key points.

1. On the trade war front, Beijing won’t shut down US businesses already operating in China. But companies which want to enter the market in finance, information technology, healthcare and education services will not be approved.

2. Beijing won’t dump all its overwhelming mass of US Treasuries in one go, but – as it already happens – divestment will accelerate. Last year, that amounted to $100 billion. Up to the end of 2020, that could reach $300 billion.

3. The internationalization of the yuan, also predictably, will be accelerated. That will include configuring the final parameters for clearing US dollars through the CHIPS Chinese system – foreseeing the incandescent possibility Beijing might be cut off from SWIFT by the Trump administration or whoever will be in power at the White House after January 2021.

4. On what is largely interpreted across China as the “full spectrum war” front, mostly Hybrid War, the PLA has been put into Stage 3 alert – and all leaves are canceled for the rest of 2020. There will be a concerted drive to increase all-round defense spending to 4% of GDP and accelerate the development of nuclear weapons. Details are bound to emerge during the Central Committee meeting in October.

5. The overall emphasis is on a very Chinese spirit of self-reliance, and building what can be defined as a national economic “dual circulation” system: the consolidation of the Eurasian integration project running in parallel to a global yuan settlement mechanism.

Inbuilt in this drive is what has been described as “to firmly abandon all illusions about the United States and conduct war mobilization with our people. We shall vigorously promote the war to resist US aggression (…) We will use a war mindset to steer the national economy (…) Prepare for the complete interruption of relations with the US.”

It’s unclear as it stands if these are only trial balloons disseminated across Chinese public opinion or decisions reached at the “invisible” Beidaihe. So all eyes will be on what kind of language this alarming configuration will be packaged when the Central Committee presents its strategic planning in October. Significantly, that will happen only a few weeks before the US election.

It’s all about continuity

All of the above somewhat mirrors a recent debate in Amsterdam on what constitutes the Chinese “threat” to the West. Here are the key points.

1. China constantly reinforces its hybrid economic model – which is an absolute rarity, globally: neither totally publicly owned nor a market economy.

2. The level of patriotism is staggering: once the Chinese face a foreign enemy, 1.4 billion people act as one.

3. National mechanisms have tremendous force: absolutely nothing blocks the full use of China’s financial, material and manpower resources once a policy is set.

4. China has set up the most comprehensive, back to back industrial system on the planet, without foreign interference if need be (well, there’s always the matter of semiconductors to Huawei to be solved).

China plans not only in years, but in decades. Five year plans are complemented by ten year plans and as the meeting chaired by Xi showed, 15 year plans. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is in fact a nearly 40-year plan, designed in 2013 to be completed in 2049.

And continuity is the name of the game – when one thinks that the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, first developed in 1949 and then expanded by Zhou Enlai at the Bandung conference in 1955 are set in stone as China’s foreign policy guidelines.

The Qiao collective, an independent group that advances the role of qiao (“bridge”) by the strategically important huaqiao (“overseas Chinese”) is on point when they note that Beijing never proclaimed a Chinese model as a solution to global problems. What they extol is Chinese solutions to specific Chinese conditions.

A forceful point is also made that historical materialism is incompatible with capitalist liberal democracy forcing austerity and regime change on national systems, shaping them towards preconceived models.

That always comes back to the core of the CCP foreign policy: each nation must chart a course fit for its national conditions.

And that reveals the full contours of what can be reasonably described as a Centralized Meritocracy with Confucian, Socialist Characteristics: a different civilization paradigm that the “indispensable nation” still refuses to accept, and certainly won’t abolish by practicing Hybrid War.

What Will Lula Do?

What Will Lula Do?

July 27, 2020

by Pepe Escobar – cross posted with Consortium News

A version of this article first appeared on The Asia Times.

Decades after the fact, a political earthquake that should be rocking Brazil is being met with thunderous silence.

What is now described as the Banestado leaks and CC5gate is straight out of vintage WikiLeaks: a list, published for the first time in full, naming names and detailing what is one of the biggest corruption and money laundering cases in the world for the past three decades.

This scandal allows for what Michel Foucault characterized as the archeology of knowledge. Without understanding these leaks, it’s impossible to place in the proper context the sophisticated Hybrid War unleashed by Washington on Brazil initially via NSA spying on President Dilma Roussef’s first term (2010-2014), all the way to the subsequent Car Wash corruption investigation that jailed former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and opened the way for the election of neofascist patsy Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The scoop on this George-Orwell-does-Hybrid War plot belongs, once again, to independent media: the small website Duplo Expresso, led by a young, daring Bern-based international lawyer named Romulus Maya, which first published the list.

An epic, five-hour podcast brought together the three key protagonists who denounced the scandal in the first place, back in the late 1990s, and now are able to analyze it anew: then governor of Parana state, Roberto Requiao; federal prosecutor Celso Tres; and police superintendent, now retired, Jose Castilho Neto.

In an earlier podcast, Maya and anthropologist Piero Leirner, Brazil’s foremost analyst of Hybrid War, briefed me on the the myriad political intricacies of the leaks while we discussed geopolitics in the Global South.

The CC5 lists are herehere , and here . Let’s see what makes them so special.

The Mechanism

Brazil’s central bank in Brasilia. (Senado Federal, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Way back in 1969, the Brazilian Central Bank created what was described as a “CC5 account” to facilitate foreign companies and executives to legally wire assets overseas. For many years the cash flow in these accounts was not significant. Then everything changed in the 1990s – with the emergence of a massive, complex criminal racket centered on money laundering.

The original Banco do Estado do Parana (Banestado) investigation started in 1997. Federal prosecutor Celso Tres was stunned to find that from 1991 to 1996 no less than $124 billion in Brazilian currency was wired overseas. Between 1991 and 2002 that ballooned to a whopping $219 billion – placing Banestado as one of the largest money laundering schemes in history.

Tres’ report led to a federal investigation focused in Foz do Iguacu in southern Brazil, strategically located right at the Tri-Border Area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, where local banks were laundering vast amounts of funds through their CC5 accounts.

This is how it worked. U.S. dollar dealers in the black market, linked to bank and government employees, used a vast network of bank accounts under the name of unsuspecting ”smurfs” and phantom companies to launder illegal funds from public corruption, tax fraud and organized crime, mainly through the Banco do Estado do Parana branch in Foz do Iguacu. Hence it is called the Banestado case.

The federal investigation was going nowhere until 2001, when police superintendent Castilho ascertained that most of the funds were actually landing in accounts at the Banestado branch in New York. Castilho arrived in New York in January 2002 to turbo-charge the necessary international money tracking.

Through a court order, Castilho and his team reviewed 137 accounts at Banestado New York, tracking $14.9 billion. Though the CC5 accounts were meant only for foreigners to use, in quite a few cases, the beneficiaries had the same name of Brazilian politicians then serving in Congress, cabinet ministers and even former presidents.

After a month in New York, Castilho was back in Brazil carrying a hefty 400-page report. Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence, he was dropped out of the investigation, which was then put on hold for at least a year. When the new Lula government took power in early 2003, Castilho was back in business.

In April 2003, Castilho identified a particularly interesting Chase Manhattan account named “Tucano” – the nickname of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) led by former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who was in power before Lula and always kept very close ties to the Clinton and Blair political machines.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and wife Marisa Letícia, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and wife Ruth Cardoso, Jan. 1, 2003 at Lula’s inauguration. (Marcello Casal Jr., Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Castilho was instrumental in setting up a parliamentary inquiry commission over the Banestado case. But again, this commission led nowhere – not even a vote on a final report. Most companies involved negotiated a deal with the Brazilian Internal Revenue Service and thus ended any possibility of legal action in regard to tax evasion.

Banestado Meets Car Wash

In a nutshell, the two largest political parties – Cardoso’s neoliberal PSDB and Lula’s Workers’ Party (which never really faced down imperial machinations and the Brazilian rentier class) actively buried an in-depth investigation. Moreover Lula, coming right after Cardoso, and mindful of preserving a minimum of governability, made a strategic decision to not investigate PSDB, or “Tucano,” corruption, including a slew of dodgy privatizations.

New York prosecutors duly prepared a special Banestado list for Castilho of what really mattered for a criminal prosecution to proceed:  the full circle of the money laundering scheme, with

(i) funds first illegally remitted out of Brazil using the CC5 accounts,

(ii) passing through the New York branches of the Brazilian banks involved,

(iii) reaching offshore bank accounts and trusts in tax havens (e.g., Cayman, Jersey, Switzerland) and then finally

(iv) going back to Brazil as – fully laundered – “foreign investment,” for the actual use and enjoyment of the final beneficiaries who first got the unaccounted-for money out of the country using the CC5 accounts.

But Brazilian Justice Minister Marcio Thomaz Bastos, appointed by Lula, then nixed it. As superintendent Castilho metaphorically put it,  “This, deliberately, prevented me from going back to Brazil with the murdered body.”

While Castilho never got hold of the critical list, at least two Brazilian congressmen, two senators and two federal prosecutors, who would later rise to fame as Car Wash investigation “stars,” Vladimir Aras and Carlos Fernando dos Santos Lima,  did get the list.

Why and how the list (let’s call it the “body bag”) never found its way into the criminal proceedings back in Brazil is an extra mystery wrapped up inside the enigma.

Meanwhile, there are “unconfirmed” reports (several sources would not go on record on this) that the list might have been used for outright extortion of the individuals, mostly billionaires, featured on it.

Extra sauce in the judicial sphere comes from the fact that the provincial judge in charge of burying the Banestado case was none other than Sergio Moro, the self-serving Elliot Ness figure who in the next decade would rise to superstar status as the capo di tutti i capi of the massive Car Wash investigation and subsequent justice minister under Bolsonaro. Moro ended up resigning and is now, de facto, already campaigning for president in 2022.

Sérgio Moro holding a press conference in September 2015. (Marcos Oliveira/Agência Senado, Wikimedia Commons)

Here is where we find the toxic Banestado-Car Wash connection. Considering what is already public domain about Moro’s modus operandi on Car Wash, as he altered names in documents with the single-minded objective of sending Lula to jail, the challenge now would be to prove how Moro “sold” non-convictions related to Banestado.  He has a very convenient legal out: no “body” was found (or formally brought back to criminal proceedings in Brazil), so no one could be found guilty of murder.

As we plunge into excruciating details, Banestado increasingly looks and feels like the Ariadne’s thread that may lead to the beginning of the destruction of Brazil’s sovereignty. It is a tale full of lessons to be learned by the whole Global South.

The Black Market Dollar King

Castilho, in that epic podcast, rang alarm bells when he referred to $17 million that had transited the Banestado branch in New York and then was sent, of all places, to Pakistan. Castilho and his team discovered that a few months after 9/11. He told me his investigators would dig it all up again and that a report exists indicating the origin of these funds.

This is the first time such information has surfaced – and the ramifications may be explosive. We’re talking about dodgy funds, arguably from drugs and weapons operations, leaving the Triple Border Area – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay – which happens historically to be a top site for CIA and Mossad black ops.

Financing may have been provided by the so-called King of The Black Market Dollars, Dario Messer, via CC5 accounts. It’s no secret that black market operators at the Tri-Border Area are connected to cocaine trafficking via Paraguay – and also to evangelicals. That is the basis of what Maya, Leirner and I have already described as Cocaine Evangelistan.

View from the Argentine side of the Triple Border Area. (Wikimedia Commons)

Messer is an indispensable cog in the recycling mechanism inbuilt into drug trafficking. Money travels to fiscal paradises under imperial protection, is duly laundered, and gloriously resurrects on Wall Street and the City of London, with the extra bonus of the U.S. easing some of its current account deficit. Cue Wall Street’s “irrational exuberance.”

What really matters is free circulation of cocaine — hidden in the odd soya cargo, something that comes with the extra benefit of securing the well being of agro-business. That’s a mirror image of the CIA heroin ratline in Afghanistan I detailed here.

Most of all, politically, Messer is the notorious missing link to judge Moro. Even mainstream O Globo newspaper was forced to admit, last November, that Messer’s shadowy businesses were “monitored” nonstop for two decades by different U.S. agencies out of Asuncion and Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. Moro for his part is had very close relationships with the FBI, CIA and the Department of Justice.

Messer may be the joker in this convoluted plot. But then there’s the Maltese Falcon: There’s only one Maltese Falcon, as the John Huston classic immortalized it.  And it’s currently lying in a safe in Switzerland.

I’m referring to the original, official documents submitted by construction giant Odebrecht to the Car Wash investigation, which have been undisputedly “manipulated,” “allegedly” by the company itself, possibly in collusion with (then) Judge Moro and the prosecution team led by Deltan Dallagnol.

Roberto Requiao. (From his Twitter account)

This was done possibly for the purpose of incriminating Lula and persons close to him, but also – crucially – to delete individuals’ names who should never be brought to light, or justice.

The first serious political impact after the release of the Banestado leaks by Duplo Expresso is that Lula’s lawyers Cristiano and Valeska Zanin have finally requested Swiss authorities to hand over the originals.

Ex-Senator and former Governor Robert Requiao of Paraná state was the only Brazilian politician to publicly ask Lula, back in February, to go for the documents with the list in Switzerland. It is no surprise that Requiao was the first public figure in Brazil to now ask Lula to make all this content public once the former president gets hold of it.

The real, not adulterated Odebrecht list of people involved in corruption revealed by Duplo Expresso is crammed with big names – including the judiciary elite.

By comparing the two versions, Lula’s lawyers may finally be able to demonstrate the falsification of “evidence” that led to the jailing of Lula but also, among other developments, the exile of Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa; the imprisonment of Correa’s vice president, Jorge Glas; the imprisonment of Peru’s former President Ollanta Humala and wife and, most dramatically, the suicide of Peru’s former two-time President Alan Garcia.

Peru’s Alan García, at left, in 2010 with Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores from Perú, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The Brazilian Patriot Act

The big political question now is not in fact to uncover the master manipulator who buried the Banestado scandal two decades ago.  Rather, as anthropologist Leirner details it, what matters most is that the leaked CC5 accounts focus on how the corrupted Brazilian bourgeoisie, with the help of their political and judicial partners, both national and foreign,  solidifies itself as a rentier class, while remaining submissive and kept in check by “secret,” imperial files.

The Banestado leaks and the CC5 accounts should be seen as a political opening for Lula to go for broke. This is all-out (Hybrid) War. Blinking is not an option. The geo-political and geo-economic project of destroying Brazilian sovereignty and turning it into an imperial sub-colony is winning – hands down.

A measure of the explosiveness of the Banestado leaks and CC5gate has been the reaction by assorted limited hangouts: a thundering silence that encompasses leftist parties and alternative, supposedly progressive media. Mainstream media, for whom judge Moro is a sacred cow, at best spins it as “old story,” “fake news” and even a “hoax.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Odebrecht_s%C3%A3o_paulo-281x500.jpg
Odebrecht headquarters in São Paulo.
(Luiz Gonzaga da Silva Filho,

It’s now clear that creditors of the Brazilian state were, originally, debtors. Comparing different accounts, it’s possible to square the circle on Brazil’s legendary “fiscal imbalance” – exactly as this plague is brought up, once again, with the intent of decimating the assets of the ailing Brazilian state. Finance Minister Paulo Guedes, a neo-Pinochetist and Milton Friedman cheerleader, has already warned he’ll keep selling state companies like there’s no tomorrow.

Lula’s plan B would be to clinch some sort of deal that would bury the whole dossier — just like the original Banestado investigation was buried two decades ago — to preserve the leadership of the Workers’ Party as domesticated opposition, and without touching on the absolutely essential issue: how Finance Minister Guedes is selling out Brazil.

That would be the line favored by Fernando Haddad, who lost the presidential election to Bolsonaro in 2018: a sort of Brazilian Michelle Bachelet (Chile’s former president), an ashamed neoliberal sacrificing everything to have yet another shot at power possibly in 2026.

Were Plan B to happen it would galvanize the wrath of trade unions and social movements – the flesh and blood of Brazilian working classes that are on the verge of being totally decimated by neoliberalism on steroids with the toxic combination of the U.S.-inspired, Brazilian version of the Patriot Act, replete with military schemes to profit from “Cocaine Evangelistan”.

All this after Washington – successfully – nearly destroyed national champion Petrobras, an initial objective of the NSA spying. Zanin, Lula’s lawyer, also adds – maybe too late – that the “informal cooperation” between Washington and the Car Wash op was in fact illegal (according to decree number 3.810/2001).

What Will Lula Do?

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) sworn in as chief of staff by President Dilma Rousseff, March 17, 2016. (José Cruz, Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Included in the leaked list is Banestado “VIP list.” It includes the current president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Barroso, bankers, media tycoons and industrialists. Car Wash prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol is very close to Barroso, the neoliberal Supreme Court justice in question.

The VIP list should be read as a road map of the money laundering practices of the Brazilian 0.01 percent  – roughly estimated to be 20,000 families who own the close to $1 trillion of Brazilian internal debt. A great deal of those funds had been recycled back to Brazil as “foreign investment” through the CC5 scheme back in the 1990s. And that’s exactly how Brazil’s internal debt exploded.

Still no one knows where the Banestado-enabled torrent of dodgy money actually landed. The “body bag” was never formally acknowledged to have been brought back from New York and never made its way into the criminal proceedings. Yet money laundering is still in progress – and thus the statute of limitation does not apply – so somebody, anybody would have to be thrown in the slammer. It doesn’t seem that will be the case anytime soon, though.

Meanwhile, enabled by the U.S. Deep State, transnational finance and local comprador elites, some in uniform and some in robes, the slow motion Hybrid War coup against Brazil keeps rambling on. And day by day inching closer to full spectrum dominance.

The key question is: what will Lula do about it?

Is Trump Using Nordstream 2 to Exit NATO?

By Tom Luongo
Source: Gold Goats n Guns

July 21, 2020

The one thing I never thought I’d say is that Donald Trump is consistent, and yet on the subject of the Nordstream 2 pipeline he has been.

No single project has caused more wailing and gnashing of teeth than Nordstream 2. And since Nordstream 2 is simply the substitute for South Stream, which was supposed to come across the Black Sea into Bulgaria and then feed eastern Europe, this U.S. opposition to another Russian pipeline spans multiple administrations.

So, this is policy that goes far beyond simple 2020 electoral politics, Trump trying to look tough on the Russians, or his misguided Energy Dominance policy.

With Trump rescinding the sanctions exemption for Nordstream 2 he now has declared open war against Europe, specifically Germany over this project.

But here’s the thing, I think Trump is doing this for updated reasons that fit a different agenda than why the U.S. opposed Nordstream 2 previously, because he knows he can’t stop the pipeline now. All he can do is further alienate Germany, who he has targeted as the main problem in Europe.

Before I go any further, though, I think a little history lesson is in order.

U.S. opposition to Nordstream 2 is deeply ingrained on all sides of the political aisle in D.C. From Republicans still fighting the cold war to Democrats having deep ties to Ukrainian gas transit there are a multitude of reasons why Nordstream 2 is verboten in D.C.

On the other hand, Europe’s relationship with Nordstream 2 is, in a word, complicated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin scuttled South Stream back in late 2014 because the EU changed its pipeline rules during its development after the contracts were in place.

Most of that was U.S. pressure, but some of that was Germany’s Angela Merkel working with then-President Barack Obama to create the worst possible scenario for Gazprom – a pipeline that wasn’t profitable.

Merkel backed Obama’s play in Ukraine in 2014 as a power move to control prices for Russian gas into Europe, putting Soviet-era pipelines under EU gas directive jurisdiction.

The EU was always going to use Ukrainian gas transit as leverage over Putin to drive gas prices below Gazprom’s cost thinking they had no other options.

Putin famously pivoted to China, singing the mega-deal for Power of Siberia in retaliation to that. Since Putin had already brought Crimea in from the cold war and tacitly backed the breakaway of the Donbass Merkel was now the one on her back foot.

At the same time, to salvage the work done on South Stream to that point, Putin cut a deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to replace South Stream’s volumes to eastern Europe with Turkstream’s to Turkey.

The plans for Turkstream include multiple trains into eastern Europe with countries like Serbia, Hungary and the Czech Republic itching for that gas.

Russia’s options were manifest and Putin deftly outmaneuvered Merkel and Obama. These events forced Merkel’s hand after she stupidly caved to the Greens over ending Germany’s use of nuclear power and now she needed Nordstream 2.

And so Nordstream 2 became a big geopolitical football because Merkel saw, as well, the opportunity to bring the recalcitrant Poles and Baltics under her control as well, solidifying long-term EU plans to engulf all of Euope to Russia’s borders.

Nordstream 2 would nominally replace Ukrainian gas supplies and she could set Germany up to be the gas transit hub, supporting political power emanating from Brussels.

This would give her leverage over Poland, who are trapped between their hatred of the Russians and their unwillingness, rightfully, to submit to Germany.

But Merkel, ever the deft three-faced keeper of the status quo, worked with Putin to secure gas flows through Ukraine for another five years, allaying the worst of Poland’s fears while they have courted Trump to bring in over-priced U.S. LNG.

But from the beginning, Nordstream 2 becomes a different animal geopolitically the moment Trump comes to power. Because Trump is opposed to the EU’s consolidating power over Europe while also sucking the U.S. dry on trade and defense.

He’s made this abundantly clear.

Since the beginning of the year Trump has ratcheted up the pressure on both China and the EU. And the only way that makes any sense is if you are willing to see them as allies in undermining the U.S.’s global position.

This isn’t to say that the U.S.’s global position should remain as it is. Far be it for me, of all people, to argue that. But with the insanity of the COVID-19 fake pandemic, the World Economic Forum’s plans for The Great Reset, and the fomenting a cultural revolution in the U.S. the stakes are now as high as they’ve ever been.

The Davos Crowd is making their big move to consolidate power in Europe. Trump is working with Boris Johnson in the U.K. to oppose that. That’s the simplified version of the chess board.

And this is why I think Trump refuses to give up on stopping Nordstream 2. He’s seen the depths to which The Davos Crowd will go to implement this radical change and he’s forcing the moment to its crisis, as T.S. Eliot put it.

He’s making the choice very clear for Merkel and company. If you want Nordstream 2, suffer the consequences of having to do business without the U.S.

This isn’t about Russia anymore, at all. It’s about Germany and the future of the U.S. If Trump loses in November all of the work done to slow down this push for transnational technocratic oligarchy will end.

If he wins then the current policy sticks, the EU is forced to deal with the U.S. retrenching completely, pulling back on commitments to Europe while divorcing U.S. trade from China.

He may actually be courting lower U.S. dollar flow the world over and forcing Europe into real economic crisis by early next year.

This sanctions policy against Nordstream 2 is consistent with his ‘snap’ decision to pull troops out of Germany, his unilateral abrogation of both the INF treaty and the JCPOA while pressuring NATO to do more.

Merkel, meanwhile, is trying to run out the clock on both Trump and Brexit, as I talked about in my podcast from last week. She’s hoping that Trump will be defeated which will set things back to the way they were before him, force U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to knuckle under in trade deal talks and establish the primacy of the EU as the center of Western power.

Putin, for his part, doesn’t care who he deals with in the long run. He can’t afford to. He has to play the cards on the table in front of him with the people in power, since Russia is still a minor player but with big potential.

For Trump, I believe he sees Nordstream 2 as the perfect wedge issue to break open the stalemate over NATO and cut Germany loose or bring Merkel to heel.

This next round of sanctions will target the companies involved directly in the pipeline. Germany can’t afford not to finish Nordstream 2. So, we are headed for an epic clash here.

Trump and Merkel hate each other, with good reason. And while I have mixed feelings about the way Trump does business, I know Angela Merkel is the key to the EU’s future.

I mentioned in a recent article that I feel Trump is a guy with almost nothing left to lose. If he’s going out he’s going out with a bang. Arrest Ghislaine Maxwell, sanction China and threaten war over Hong Kong, ramp up dollar diplomacy on Europe.

He knows that hybrid war is the only war the U.S. can ‘win’ decisively given the relative dominance of the U.S. dollar today.

While the end of dollar hegemony is in sight, do not underestimate how much damage can be done to the status quo while Trump is in power. That status quo isn’t good for anyone except those who currently want that power back.


70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?

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70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?

NATO is a military and political alliance, a security community that unites the largest number of States on both sides of the North Atlantic. During its existence, NATO has expanded 2.5 times. It accounts for 70% of global military spending. It is rightfully considered the most powerful military association of States in the entire history of mankind in terms of combined armed power and political influence. The fact that this year NATO turned 70 years old, which is more than the independent existence of some of its member States, proves an incredible success of this project. However, while the Alliance has successfully resisted external enemies in its history, today it is experiencing significant internal divisions that threaten its existence more than ever.

The founding date of NATO is April 4, 1949, the day 12 countries signed the Washington Treaty. NATO became a “transatlantic forum” for allied countries to consult on issues that affect the vital interests of participating countries. The organization’s primary goal was to deter any form of aggression against the territory of any member state, as well as to protect against these threats. The principle of collective defense, enshrined in article 5 of the Washington Treaty, implies that if one NATO member state is the victim of an armed attack, all other member States of the Alliance will consider this act of violence an armed attack on all NATO countries and will take actions that the organization deems necessary. At the end of the 20th century, the real threat to the West was the Soviet Union.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the question arose about the existence of NATO, as an Alliance created to protect against the Soviet threat. The disappearance of the external threat has led to a process of transformation that has been going on for 30 years. Each stage of transformation is directly related to the adaptation of the Alliance to certain changes taking place in the international arena and affecting the stability of the security system in the Euro-Atlantic and the world as a whole. In addition to the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of the key events that affected the development of the Alliance was the terrorist attack of 11.09.2001, which actually allowed the Alliance to be preserved, since then there was a common external threat to the member countries.

Traditionally, NATO’s transformations are considered in the following three areas: geographical changes, political transformations, and processes in the military-technical sphere.

Important political transformations are manifested in adapting to changes in the international arena, which are represented primarily by the disappearance of block opposition. The Alliance remains committed to the principle of collective defense, as set out in article 5 of the Washington Treaty. The main command structures also remain the same. The main transformations are expressed in the form of declarations of new NATO functions: maintaining peace and stability not only on the territory of the member States, but also outside the area of responsibility of the Alliance. The operations carried out in these territories are aimed at maintaining local and regional stability, eliminating ethnic and religious conflicts, maintaining respect for human rights and various national minorities, and, most importantly, fighting international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The “new NATO” is being transformed from a regional organization into a guarantor of global stability, taking responsibility for stability in regions outside its own territories and in situations not covered by article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Assuming global responsibility, NATO is forced to maintain the necessary level of military power, participate in collective planning for the organization of nuclear forces and their deployment on its own territories. New threats encourage NATO to expand geographically.

The expansion of NATO, which implies the inclusion of former members of the Warsaw Pact And the full-scale advance of military infrastructure to the East, represents a change in geography.

Changes in the military-technical sphere imply a General reduction of the Alliance’s collective military forces, their relocation, etc. The main form of transformation of the armed forces was the transition from ” heavy ” military associations to more flexible and maneuverable groups in order to increase their effectiveness in the fight against new threats. The beginning of the economic crisis in autumn 2008 revealed the urgent need for reforms. Member States were forced to reduce their military budgets, which meant abandoning programs involving the development and purchase of precision weapons. In 2010 the plan of the NATO Secretary-General A. Rasmussen’s plan to optimize the budget, and in 2012, the Chicago summit adopted the “smart defense package”, which implies a parallel reduction of funds and increased efficiency.

However, despite all the reforms carried out within the Alliance, today the new missions do not have the same clarity as during the cold war. Options for the purpose of NATO’s existence after the collapse of the USSR vary: the fight against terrorism, assistance in the spread of democracy, nation-building, “world police”, the fight against “soft threats”, the fight against a resurgent Russia. But the main problem of the Organization is that none of the options is universal for all member countries. None of the considered “enemies” unites NATO.

After various stages of transformation, NATO turned out that the condition for its perfect functioning was precisely the situation of structured confrontation. The current unstructured confrontation, which implies that all member countries have different primary threats, makes it meaningless to have a cumbersome and generally rather inert organization.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
Illustrative Image

In 2014, NATO had another opportunity to create a common external enemy, the role of which was approached by Russia. The summit held in Wales in 2014 radically changed the agenda of the entire Alliance. The main topic of discussion was the Ukrainian crisis, which led to the conclusion about the need to contain Russia. The final Declaration of the summit notes that ” Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine have fundamentally called into question the vision of a whole, free and peaceful Europe”. “The illegal self-proclaimed annexation of Crimea and Russia’s aggressive actions in other regions of Ukraine” were highlighted as special threats among the spread of violence and extremist groups in North Africa and the Middle East.

The appearance of a ” dangerous external enemy ” entailed not only political transformations. There have also been reforms in the military sphere of NATO. Among the new security challenges were “hybrid wars”, that is, military actions involving an expanded range of military and civilian measures of an open or hidden nature. The adopted Action Plan, which includes the concept of “hybrid war”, was primarily aimed at countering the tactics of warfare used by Russia. Thus, a number of measures included in the Declaration were directed against Russia.

NATO was forced to return to the role of a guarantor against severe security threats, which significantly increased costs for the organization. At the 2016 NATO Warsaw summit, it was decided to further deploy 4 battalion tactical groups to existing military bases in Poland and the Baltic States. In addition, more than 550 tanks and an armored unit of the United States have been transferred to the region. These units are deployed on a rotational basis, which does not contradict the NATO-Russia Founding act of 1997. In the Declaration of the 2018 Brussels NATO summit it is recorded that the “enhanced presence in the forward area” of tactical groups includes a total of 4,500 military personnel, which is approximately equal to one brigade.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP

At the same time, it is clear that Russia does not pose a real threat to NATO. Real foreign policy practice proves that Russia will not threaten Western countries in the next 50 years. The only point of instability today is the Ukrainian conflict, which had no preconditions until 2014, and was in turn artificially created by the American establishment in partnership with Brussels. Russia, for its part, even in this conflict does not seek to expand its influence, and also observes the Minsk agreements that are unfavorable to It.

“The main reason why the United States has assumed the role of arbiter of the fate of Ukraine and its citizens is the allegedly increasing threat from Russia not only to Kiev, but also to Europe and the rest of the world. And this is despite the fact that it was with the help of the United States that mass protests were organized and the elected government of Ukraine was overthrown in 2013-2014, which led to the war that has now unfolded in the heart of Eastern Europe,” writes geopolitical columnist Tony Kartaluchi in the new Eastern Outlook.

In 2016, the RAND organization conducted a study that showed that in the event of a Russian invasion of the Baltic States, Russian troops can be on the approaches to the capitals of Estonia and Latvia within sixty hours. The study showed that NATO forces are not sufficient to repel the Russian attack. In an interview, NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said that the main goal of deploying additional forces in Eastern Europe and Poland is to demonstrate the unity of the Alliance, and to maintain its members ‘ commitment to article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Thus, NATO adheres to the policy of declarative deterrence of Russia, in fact, its forces are not enough to respond to a potential attack from Russia. The NATO administration is well aware that the likelihood of a military conflict with Russia is minimal, but it continues to maintain the image of Russia as an aggressor in order to unite the member countries.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, leave at the end of a joint press conference in Warsaw, Poland, in June 2017. (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

Moreover, maintaining the image of a dangerous enemy gives the United States the opportunity to promote its own interests in Europe and manipulate its “partners”.

On June 25, Donald Trump finally confirmed that part of the American military contingent in Germany would be transferred to Poland. In the end, the American contingent in Germany will be reduced from 52 thousand people to 25 thousand. According to official data, in Germany there are about 35 thousand US military personnel, 10 thousand civil servants of the Pentagon and about 2 thousand contract workers. Some of the US military will return to America, some will go to Poland to strengthen the deterrence of the “Russian threat”. In addition, according to media reports, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Donald Trump discussed the possibility of transferring 30 f-16 fighters.

“They [Germany] spend billions of dollars to buy Russian energy resources, and then we are supposed to protect them from Russia. It doesn’t work that way. I think this is very bad, ” said Donald trump, accusing Berlin of supporting the Nord Stream 2 project.

When asked whether the US administration is trying to send a signal to Russia, Donald Trump stressed that Moscow was receiving a “very clear signal”, but Washington still expected to normalize their relations. This only underscores the fact that the US is taking advantage of the perceived Russian threat to NATO.

The American leader, by undermining cooperation between Moscow and Berlin in the energy sphere, not only prevents Russia, as one of their enemies in the international arena, from developing a profitable project. The US is also interested in weakening the leading European industries, primarily Germany. The United States does not tolerate strong enemies, but it also does not accept strong allies. It is in the interests of the Americans to prevent the redevelopment of Europe as a self-sufficient and independent center of power in the international arena.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
Defense spendings in relation to GDP of NATO member countries

Therefore, Donald Trump is strongly calling on Germany to reimburse the billions of dollars it owes the White House. Trump is dissatisfied with the fact that Berlin does not comply with the promise made by all NATO members to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP. At the same time, Germany has already followed this path, increasing funding to 1.38%. In its turn, the US spends 3.4% of the state budget on the needs of the Alliance.

The problem of NATO funding is very often the main criticism of Berlin. However, in addition to this issue, new problems are emerging in US-German relations.

Washington is very dissatisfied with Berlin’s interaction with Beijing. The White House, which has strengthened the anti-Chinese vector of its policy, blaming the PRC for the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and accusing the Chinese side of “controlling” the World Health Organization (WHO), did not receive sufficient support in Europe, and Germany criticized.

Moreover, Berlin does not support Washington’s sanctions policy on Chinese Hong Kong, which Beijing allegedly takes away its independence from.

The US is particularly dissatisfied with the EU’s desire for a major investment agreement with China. Germany is the main ideologue of this process and seeks to close the deal during its six-month presidency of the EU Council.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
“One Belt, One Road” Initiative

China today, of course, is the main competitor of the United States in the struggle for world hegemony. China also raises considerable concerns among European countries, which is primarily due to economic expansion and the successful development of the large-scale Chinese initiative “One belt, one road”. European leaders are also competing with China for resources in third world countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. In addition, there are ideological differences between the two world regions. However, China does not currently pose a military threat to Europe, which does not allow the use of NATO forces against it.

While Western countries see Russia and China as the main threats, strategically they are primarily concerned about Iran and North Korea. These countries are also a threat primarily to the United States, but their European partners are not ready to conduct active military actions against them at the moment.

The only real dangerous factor that unites almost all NATO member countries remains international terrorism, in the fight against which Western countries act as a united front.70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?

The current military and political course of the European Union is determined by the clear desire of its leadership to transform the military and political organization into one of the world’s leading centers of power. The aggravation of political and economic differences with the United States is the main incentive for the implementation of this goal. Thus, the EU’s focus on increasing independence in crisis management in the area of common European interests has had a decisive influence on the development of the common security and defense policy. In order to reduce dependence on the United States and NATO for conducting operations and missions within the framework of “force projection”, the leadership of the Association has stepped up activities to develop its own military component.

France and Germany are the main engines of this process, and are promoting the initiative to create the so-called European Defense Union. However, despite active efforts to expand military and military-technical cooperation within the EU, the declared goals of creating a “European army” with collective defense functions that duplicate the status and activities of NATO seem difficult to achieve in the foreseeable future. This situation is due to the reluctance of the majority of EU member States to transfer control over their armed forces to the supranational level. Moreover, the US opposition to the process of forming the European Defense Union and the limited resources available due to the absorption by NATO structures of the major part of the defense potential of European countries, most of which are simultaneously involved in two organizations, do not allow the full implementation of EU political decisions on military construction. In this regard, it is only possible to talk about giving a new impetus to military cooperation in order to increase the collective capacity to protect the territory and citizens of the States of the region.

Given the lack of forces and resources for conducting operations and missions, Brussels is interested in the practice of involving military formations of third countries in its anti-crisis actions on the basis of bilateral framework agreements. Currently, such agreements have been reached with Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and a number of other States.

Currently, the European Union conducts 16 military and mixed operations and missions in various regions of the world, involving about 4,500 people. The greatest attention is paid to the “zones of instability” in North and Central Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and the post-Soviet space.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg

Thus, NATO today has to do everything possible to support the unity and coherence of actions of all its member countries, which are more than ever under threat. The main European leaders are no longer ready to support US policy and continue to sacrifice their own national interests. If in the case of Germany, this is manifested primarily in support of the Nord stream 2 project, despite the threats of the United States. France today supports its own interests in Libya, which contradict the interests of other countries-members of the Alliance: Turkey and Italy. Certainly, Turkey and Italy have different positions and aspirations in Libya. Italy was previously a traditional ally of France and does not actively intervene in the military conflict. However, now, given the current predominance of Turkey in Libya, Italy is trying to sit on two chairs. On the one hand, Italy, while supporting Tripoli, does not actively help them. On the other hand, in political terms, it clearly stands on the side of Tripoli and Turkey, thereby trying to ensure its share of participation in the next division of Libyan natural resources after the supposed victory of the Turkish-Tripolitan Alliance.

Summing up, today the imaginary Russian threat no longer allows US to unite the Alliance members, but only serves as a method of implementing US interests. The White House, which has always played a leading role in NATO and retains it thanks to the largest percentage of investment in the Alliance, allows itself to more openly abuse its leading position and promote its own national interests and the interests of its elites through the North Atlantic Alliance to the detriment of the interests of partner countries. Thus, article 4 of the Washington Treaty, which implies decision-making by consensus and is the basis of NATO itself, is of less and less importance in practice. The United States cannot renounce its membership in NATO and is interested in preserving it, because it is the Western Alliance that allows the US to give at least a small share of legitimacy to its military actions. A kind of neo-colonial policy, that the United States is used to employ in relation to European countries, and the current significant shift in the political paradigm within the US itself do not allow us to hope that the American leadership will be able to strengthen its position in Europe in the coming years.

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