China to receive two million barrels of Iranian oil, despite US sanctions

Iran has been cooperating with China, Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba in order to bypass the effects of US economic sanctions

May 19 2022

(Photo credit: Press TV)

ByNews Desk

China is scheduled to receive around two million barrels of Iranian crude oil this week that it will pump into an oil terminal in the Zhanjiang city of Guangdong province, southwest of the country.

The oil will be discharged by the Diona crude oil carrier owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), according to Vortexa Analytics, an agency that specializes in tanker tracking.

“This would be the third Iranian oil cargo destined for government stockpile following two similar-sized shipments in December and January,” the agency reported.

Despite ongoing economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the US, China has been purchasing large amounts of Iranian oil over the past two years.

Iran plays a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative, a mega-infrastructure and economic initiative launched by Beijing to link the economies of Europe, Asia, and Africa, with an eye on expanding to Latin America.

Over recent years, Iran has played an instrumental role in cooperating with other countries to overcome the effects of punitive US sanctions.

On 3 May, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas to discuss energy relations and ways to overcome the repercussions of US sanctions unilaterally imposed on the two countries.

Venezuela and Iran have recently stepped up energy cooperation to overcome sanctions, with Venezuela importing condensate and thinners from Iran.

Back in January, an Iranian supertanker started discharging about two million barrels of Iranian condensate at the main port of Venezuela’s state-run oil company, as part of a bilateral deal that defies the US sanctions imposed on both nations.

On 17 May, UN Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan said the US must lift economic sanctions on Iran due to the harmful impact they have on the Iranian people.

“I call on the United States to abandon unilateral sanctions,” the UN special rapporteur told a press conference in Tehran.

Douhan went further, saying that the application of “extra-territorial sanctions on Iranian companies or companies working with Iran or paying Iran in dollars is illegal under international law.”

The UN official said she would address her concerns over the legality of US sanctions in her final report, to be published at a later date.

BIDEN’S BOYCOTT OF CUBA IS “A FAILURE AT REGIONAL DIPLOMACY”

MAY 17TH, 2022

MEDEA BENJAMIN

On May 16, the Biden administration announced new measures to “increase support for the Cuban people.” They included easing travel restrictions and helping Cuban-Americans support and connect with their families. They mark a step forward but a baby step, given that most U.S. sanctions on Cuba remain in place. Also in place is a ridiculous Biden administration policy of trying to isolate Cuba, as well as Nicaragua and Venezuela, from the rest of the hemisphere by excluding them from the upcoming Summit of the Americas that will take place in June in Los Angeles.

This is the first time since its inaugural gathering in 1994 that the event, which is held every three years, will take place on U.S. soil. But rather than bringing the Western Hemisphere together, the Biden administration seems intent on pulling it apart by threatening to exclude three nations that are certainly part of the Americas.

For months, the Biden administration has been hinting that these governments would be excluded. So far, they have not been invited to any of the preparatory meetings and the Summit itself is now less than a month away. While former White House press secretary Jen Psaki and State Department spokesman Ned Price have repeated that “no decisions” have been made, Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols said in an interview on Colombian TV that countries that “do not respect democracy are not going to receive invitations.”

Biden’s plan to pick and choose which countries can attend the Summit has set off regional fireworks. Unlike in the past, when the U.S. had an easier time imposing its will on Latin America, nowadays there is a fierce sense of independence, especially with a resurgence of progressive governments. Another factor is China. While the U.S. still has a major economic presence, China has surpassed the U.S. as the number one trading partner, giving Latin American countries more freedom to defy the United States or at least stake out a middle ground between the two superpowers.

The hemispheric reaction to the exclusion of three regional states is a reflection of that independence, even among small Caribbean nations. In fact, the first words of defiance came from members of the 15-nation Caribbean Community, or Caricom, which threatened to boycott the Summit. Then came regional heavyweight, Mexican President Manuel López Obrador, who stunned and delighted people around the continent when he announced that, if all countries were not invited, he would not attend. The presidents of Bolivia and Honduras soon followed with similar statements.

The Biden administration has put itself in a bind. Either it backs down and issues the invitations, tossing red meat to right-wing U.S. politicians like Senator Marco Rubio for being “soft on communism,” or it stands firm and risks sinking the Summit and U.S. influence in the region.

Biden’s failure at regional diplomacy is all the more inexplicable given the lesson he should have learned as vice president when Barack Obama faced a similar dilemma.

That was 2015, when, after two decades of excluding Cuba from these Summits, the countries of the region put down their collective feet and demanded that Cuba be invited. Obama had to decide whether to skip the meeting and lose influence in Latin America, or go and contend with the domestic fallout. He decided to go.

Oabam a visit to CUba

Cristobal Marquez, owner of “Cristobal’s,” the restaurant where Michelle and Barak Obama had lunch during their visit to Cuba in 2016, shows the book made by White House photographer Pete Souza, in Havana, Cuba. Ramon Espinosa | AP

I remember that Summit vividly because I was among the bevy of journalists jostling to get a front seat when President Barack Obama would be forced to greet Cuba’s President Raúl Castro, who came into power after his brother Fidel Castro stepped down. The momentous handshake, the first contact between leaders of the two countries in decades, was the high point of the summit.

Obama was not only obligated to shake Castro’s hand, he also had to listen to a long history lesson. Raúl Castro’s speech was a no-holds-barred recounting of past U.S. attacks on Cuba—including the 1901 Platt Amendment that made Cuba a virtual U.S. protectorate, U.S. support for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s, the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the scandalous U.S. prison in Guantanamo. But Castro was also gracious to President Obama, saying he was not to blame for this legacy and calling him an “honest man” of humble origins.

The meeting marked a new era between the U.S. and Cuba, as the two nations began to normalize relations. It was a win-win, with more trade, more cultural exchanges, more resources for the Cuban people, and fewer Cubans migrating to the United States. The handshake led to an actual visit by Obama to Havana, a trip so memorable that it still brings big smiles to the faces of Cubans on the island.

Then came Donald Trump, who skipped the next Summit of the Americas and imposed draconian new sanctions that left the Cuban economy in tatters, especially once COVID hit and dried up the tourist industry.

Until recently, Biden has been following Trump’s slash-and-burn policies that have led to tremendous shortages and a new migration crisis, instead of reverting to Obama’s win-win policy of engagement. The May 16 measures to expand flights to Cuba and resume family reunifications are helpful, but not enough to mark a real change in policy—especially if Biden insists on making the Summit a “limited-invite only.”

Biden needs to move quickly. He should invite all the nations of the Americas to the Summit. He should shake the hands of every head of state and, more importantly, engage in serious discussions on burning hemispheric issues such as the brutal economic recession caused by the pandemic, climate change that is affecting food supplies, and the terrifying gun violence–all of which are fueling the migration crisis. Otherwise, Biden’s #RoadtotheSummit, which is the Summit’s Twitter handle, will only lead to a dead end.

Feature photo | President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., May 17, 2022. Gemunu Amarasinghe | AP

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK. She is the author of ten books, including three books on Cuba—No Free Lunch: Food and Revolution in Cuba, The Greening of the Revolution, and Talking About Revolution. She is a member of the Steering Committee of ACERE (Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect).

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Gonzalo Lira: The Pentagon Says: Russia No—But China Yes

May 17, 2022

Renegade interviews Michael Hudson: Sanctions, the blowback

March 23, 2022

Posted with Michael Hudson’s permission

https://www.rt.com/shows/renegade-inc/552236-michael-hudson-sanctions-ukraine/

Ross [00:00:29] Welcome to Renegade Inc. Whatever the outcome in Ukraine, one thing is for sure the economic reverberations will be felt by everyone for years to come as the world divides between the West and a rapidly reshaping Eurasia.

Ross [00:00:49] Michael Hudson, always a pleasure to have you on the programme, welcome to Renegade Inc.

Michael Hudson [00:00:53] Thank you for inviting me.

Ross [00:00:55] Michael, sanctions, sanctions, sanctions is all we hear now. We’re sanctioning people. The West sanction people back to the Stone Age. What are the unintended consequences of sanctions?

Michael Hudson [00:01:05] Well, one is to serve very much like a protective tariff on the sanctioned country. For instance, when America made sanctions on European trade with Russia, Lithuania dutifully stopped exporting cheese to Russia. Well, the result is that Russia set up its own cheese’s sector, and now it’s self-sufficient in cheese. If you sanction a country, you force it to become more self-reliant and across the board, from agriculture to dairy products to technology, Russia is forced to become more self-reliant and at the same time to depend much more on trade with China for the things that it is still not self-reliant in. So America is bringing about exactly the opposite of what it intended. It’s hopeless to somehow isolate Russia and then be able to go after China without Russia. And instead, what it’s doing is integrating the Eurasian core, Russia and China, exactly the policy that Henry Kissinger warned against going all the way back to Mackinder a century ago that said, Eurasia is the world island, Russia and China could be the whole world centre. That’s what the fight is all about. Well, American sanctions are driving Russia and China together, and America has gone to China and said, Please don’t support Russia. It most recently, on Monday, March 14, Jake Sullivan came out and told China, we will sanction countries that break our sanctions against Russia. And basically, China said, fine. You know, we’ll just break off all the trade between East and West now and the East, Eurasia is pretty much self-sufficient. The West is not self-sufficient since it began to industrialise, and it’s heavily dependent on Russia for not only oil and gas, but palladium and many raw materials. So the sanctions are ending up driving a wedge between the European countries.

Ross [00:03:31] Don’t people who apply these sanctions think this through? Are they so short-sighted they don’t understand that these sanctions are going to build further capacity within Russia, push Russia further towards China, make that economic alliance concrete and, ultimately, you’re not going to be able to keep the lights on in in Europe? All the while underestimating the fact that from a food security point of view – take the U.K., for instance, a net importer of food – not appreciating the fact that, for instance, Russia/Ukraine, they create twenty five percent, a quarter, of all wheat annually. The estimation this year is one hundred and two million tonnes Russia and Ukraine, wheat. Don’t people realise that there’s going to be a massive knock on effect?

Michael Hudson [00:04:23] Yes, they do realise it. Yes, they’ve thought it all through. I worked with these people for more than 50 years.

Ross [00:04:31] Who are these people?

Michael Hudson [00:04:32] The neocons, basically, the people who are in charge of U.S. foreign policy? Victoria Nuland and her husband, Robert Kagan, the people that President Biden has appointed all around him, from Blinken to Sullivan and right down the line. They are basically urging people around the New American Century. They’re the people who said America can run the whole world and create its own reality. And yes, they know that this is going to cause enormous problems for Germany. They know that not only will it block the energy that Germany and Italy and other countries in Europe need through their oil and gas, but also it’ll block the use of gas for fertiliser, upping their fertiliser production and decreasing their food production. They look at this and they say, How can America gain from all of this? There’s always a way of gaining what something looks to be bad. Well, one way they’ll gain is oil prices are going way up. And that benefits the United States whose foreign policy is based very largely on oil and gas. The oil industry controls most of the world’s oil trade, and that explains a lot of the US diplomacy. This is a fight to lock the world energy trade into control by U.S. companies, excluding not only Iran and Venezuela, but also excluding Russia.

Ross [00:06:16] So as Europe pushes towards more and more green and renewable energy and this for the Americans they must think it’s a dreadful scenario insofar as they can’t sell the oil as Europe becomes or wants to become more self-sufficient. So ultimately, and Britain net zero, whatever that means. But but going down the renewables path, going down the solar path takes America’s dependency or dependency on America out the game, doesn’t it?

Michael Hudson [00:06:49] This is exactly the point that the European public has not realised. While most of the European public wants to prevent global warming and prevent carbon into the atmosphere, U.S. foreign policy is based on increasing, and even accelerating, global warming, accelerating carbon emissions because that’s the oil trade. Suppose that Europe got its way. Suppose if the Greens got what they wanted and Germany and Europe were completely dependent on solar energy panels, on wind energy and to some extent, on nuclear power, perhaps? Well, if they were completely self-sufficient in energy without oil or gas or coal, America would lose the primary lever. It has over the ability to turn off the power and electricity and oil of any country that didn’t follow U.S. diplomatic direction.

Ross [00:07:48] So when we take your analysis here and we think about how the sanctions are going to build capacity, push Russia and China together, when we start to look at sort of piggy in the middle, if you like the EU, when we’re thinking about America, the EU has had a sort of abusive relationship with the Americans for quite some time now, hasn’t it?

Michael Hudson [00:08:06] Well, that’s that’s true in the sense that EU foreign policy has basically been turned over to NATO. So instead of European voters and politicians making their policy, they’ve relinquished European foreign policy to NATO, which is really an arm of the US military. So yes, Europe has had a decent relationship with the United States diplomatically by saying yes, yes, please or yes, thank you by not being independent. Of course, if it were independent, the relationship would not be so friendly and decent.

Ross [00:08:46] So for countries that are net importers of food, need to keep the lights on, need heating and need cheap oil. How does this pan out? What does it look like for the UK? What does it look like for the EU?

Michael Hudson [00:08:59] Well, Vice President, Kamala Harris the other day said to Americans, Yes, life is going to be much more expensive. Our oil prices are going up and squeezing families. But think of the poor Ukrainian babies that we’re saving. So take it on the chin for the Ukrainian babies. So basically the United States is presenting horror stories of the Ukraine and saying, if you don’t willingly suffer now by isolating Russia, then Russia is going to roll over you with tanks just like it rolled over Central Europe after World War Two. I mean, it’s waving the flag of Russian aggression, as if Russia or any country in today’s world has an army that’s able to invade any other industrial nation. All military can do today of any country is bomb and kill other populations and industrial centres. No nation is able to occupy or rollover any industrial country. And the United States keeps trying to promote this mythology that we’re still in the world of 1945. And that world ended really with the Vietnam War when the military draft ended. And no country is able to have a military draft to raise the army with necessary to fight to invade. Russia can’t do it any more than Europe or the United States could do it. So all the United States can do is wave warnings about how awful Russia is and somehow convince Europe to follow the US position. But most of all, it doesn’t really have to. Europe doesn’t really have a voice, and this is what the complaint by Putin and Foreign Secretary Lavrov have been saying. They say that Europe is just following the United States and it doesn’t matter what the European people want or what European politicians want. The United States is so deeply in control that they really don’t have much of a choice.

Ross [00:11:15] When does the consumer start to feel this? When does the European or British consumer start to feel the pinch when these sanctions are enacted? And what does that look like?

Michael Hudson [00:11:25] Well, it depends on how fast the sanctions work. The United States said Well, in another year and a half, we’ll be able to provide Europe with liquefied natural gas. Well, the problem is, first of all, they’re not the ports to handle the liquefied natural gas to go into Europe. Secondly, there are not enough ships and tankers to carry all of this gas to Europe. So unless there are very warm winters, Europe is not going to have a very easy time for the next few years. And that’s only for oil and gas. It’s dependent on raw materials that Russia produces. For instance, palladium is necessary for catalytic converters. Titanium is necessary to make the screws that are especially used on aeroplanes that are strong enough not to buckle and break when winds go up and down and when they’re full. Russia even produces the neon and the crypton that are necessary for making some kind of electronic uses and also for many components that go into computers and information technology. There’s a whole range of exports that Europe is highly dependent on, and the United States has provided Putin with a whole list of these exports, saying, Well, OK, we’re going to fight against Europe buying your oil and gas but you can certainly sell us your heavy oil that we need since we’re not buying it from Venezuela. We certainly need the following list of critical materials that we need, like helium and crypton. These are our pressure points. Please don’t press on them. Well, you can imagine what Putin and his advisers are saying. Thank you for giving us this list of the pressure points that you’re exempting from the trade sanctions. I think if you really want a break in the unilateral, unipolar world, I think we should break now and see whether you really want to get along without trading.

Ross [00:13:51] Michael Hudson, welcome back, second half, Renegade Inc. Wonderful to have you. In that first half we followed the money, if you like. We talked about sanctions and the unintended consequences. I just want to pull back a little further if we can and just talk about the sort of tectonic shifts that are going on in the world. I spoke to somebody from Russia recently and what he said was very straightforward. He said, now what we have to do is begin to learn to live without the West. Do you think that that sentiment is proliferating across Russia now? Is that the mindset?

Michael Hudson [00:14:22] Well, if you read President Putin’s speeches, that’s exactly what’s happening. And Secretary Lavrov has voiced exactly the same feeling. There’s almost a disgust with the West and a feeling from Putin, Lavrov and the other Russian spokesmen, how could we everhave hoped to have an integration with Europe after 1991? Europe really was not on our side at all, and we didn’t realise that Europe is really part of the U.S. diplomatic sphere. It’s like all of Europe is now backing the attack on Russia. The best to do is reorient our economy towards China, Asia and Eurasia and become our own self-sufficient, independent centre

Ross [00:15:15] De-dollarisation and the amassing of plenty of gold by both the Russians and the Chinese. Just talk us through that.

Michael Hudson [00:15:21] Well, Ross, you asked in the first half of this interview how has American sanctions worked against it? I should have mentioned what you just mentioned, the dollar. The United States just grabbed all of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, just as England a few months ago grabbed all of Venezuela’s gold that was held in the Bank of England when Venezuela tried to spend this gold on buying medical supplies to cope with the COVID virus. So basically, the United States have said, if any foreign country holds its reserves in the United States or accounts in U.S. banks. If a country in the global south tries to pay its foreign debt by holding its reserves in US banks in order to be the paying agent on the interest on its foreign debt. And if that foreign country does something we don’t like, like trade with Russia or permit more labour unionisation or try to become independent in food, we’re just going to do what we did to Venezuela, what we did to Iran when we grabbed its foreign exchange reserves or what we did to Russia. And that means that other countries all of a sudden see what they thought was their flight to security, what they thought was their most secure savings, their holdings in U.S. banks, US treasury bill, all of a sudden, is holding them hostage and is a high risk. Even the Financial Times of London has been writing about this, saying, how can the United States that was getting a free ride off the dollar standard for the last 50 years, ever since 1971, when foreign countries held dollars instead of gold and basically holding dollars means you buy U.S. Treasury bonds to finance the US budget deficit and the balance of payments deficit. How can the United States kill the goose that’s giving it the free ride? Well, the answer is that other countries can only move into gold and there’s an alternative to the dollar because that’s something that all the countries of the world have agreed upon is an asset, not a liability. If you hold any foreign currency, that currency is a liability of a foreign country, and if you hold gold, it’s a pure asset. There’s no country that can cancel it, the Americans can’t cancel Russia’s gold supply that’s held in Russia, although it can grab Russian gold supply if it were to hold it in the New York Federal Reserve Bank or the Bank of England. So other countries are not only moving to gold, Germany is bringing its gold back from New York, the Federal Reserve, in aeroplanes back to Germany, so it’ll have its own gold just in case German politicians would do something the United States didn’t like and the United States would simply grab Germany’s gold. The United States sanctions, and it’s especially it’s grabbing on foreign reserve, has started a war that is dividing the world between the West and Eurasia.

Ross [00:18:40] A technical part to all of this because let’s face it, it is an information war and it’s also an economic war. Is it the FIRE sector that you point out – the financial, insurance and real estate sector. Is it that they want to continue the exorbitant privilege of credit creation, because ultimately, if you think about gold, there’s no counterparty risk. Gold is gold and it has been for millennia. Far from being a barbarous relic, by the way now, people are starting to realise the intrinsic value, especially as crypto falls apart. Can you just talk a little bit about this, the FIRE sector wanting the exorbitant privilege of creating credit?

Michael Hudson [00:19:19] This is really what the new world division and global fracture is all about. You’re right, Ross. If you look at after World War One, the American fight against Soviet communism, was basically a fight of industrial capitalism against the threat of socialism. But after 1991, and especially in the last two decades, America deindustrialised. So the fight is not by industrial capitalism against countries pushing their labour up. It’s a fight of neoliberalism against industrial capitalism or socialism abroad. It’s against industrial capitalism evolving into socialism. It’s a belief that, well, now that America’s be industrialised, how is it going to control the world economy? Well, it’ll control it through a financial means by being the creditor and foreign countries debt payments to America will enable it to make its military payments abroad and finance its trade deficit. But also, America’s purchase of key natural resources will give it natural resources when its purchase of takeover of real estate is going to essentially make the United States the landlord class and monopoly class, that mediaeval Europe had to hold the rest of the population in serfdom. That basically is the American strategy of neoliberalism fighting against countries that reject privatisation and financialization of their economy, and specifically financialization under the control of U.S. banks, U.S. private capital and allied satellite banks and capital from England or France or Germany. This is exactly the fight. Will banking and finance control the world economy or will other countries try to build up their own economies through labour and tangible capital formation?

Ross [00:21:27] Where do you stand on that? And I’m only asking you to predict the future, Michael. How do you think this plays out? Because the way you’ve depicted it is the rent seekers, the neoliberal rent seekers on one hand, and there are value creators on the other. And by the way, those two things don’t sit very well together, as we know. How does that play out?

Michael Hudson [00:21:51] Even though the United States is the largest debtor economy in the world, it’s a creditor vis-a-vis the global south and other countries and it uses its creditor position to take over their natural resources, real estate, oil and gas, mineral rights and public utilities and natural monopolies and that are being privatised in government infrastructure. It’s becoming basically the landlord monopoly class of the entire world. That’s the U.S. strategy, and that’s the key to why the world is fracturing globally. And in the past, the global south countries were unable to fight against this tendency in the 70s and 80s with the Vendome conference on. But now that China and Russia threatened to be a self-sufficient core in Eurasia, this is the great threat to the American dream of becoming a landlord and financier of the world.

Ross [00:22:50] How do you think this pans out?

Michael Hudson [00:22:52] Well, the question is whether the United States is if we can control the world, who wants to live in a world like that, let’s blow it up. The question is whether the United States will actually go to war. The only lever that it has left is to drop bombs and to destroy and make the world look like Ukraine. So from the U.S. point of view, Europe’s future and Eurasia’s future is the Ukraine. Look at what we will do to you if you don’t follow our policy. America has just moved al Qaeda very heavily in the Ukraine to sort of repeat in Ukraine and Europe what it was doing in Syria and Libya. And the United States says this is what we can do. What are you going to do about it? Do you really want to fight. But the rest of the world, certainly China and Russia says, Well, we’re ready to fight. So there is no telling what you. And it comes down to personalities. Putin has said, well, do we really want to live in a world without Russia? If the United States is to attack us, we might as well end the world. The United States says, Do we really want to live in a world that we can’t control? If we’re not completely in control, we feel very insecure and we’re going to blow up the world. So you have this countervailing position in a world where all the arms control has been dismantled by the United States in the last few years. The United States has withdrawn from all of the agreements that Russia and China have tried to promote. And Europe is standing by and apparently is willing to be the sacrificial lamb in all of this as Ukraine is being the sacrificial lamb. So the United States and Russia say, let’s fight to the last European. And Russia initially didn’t want that because it was hoping that Europe and Russia would have a mutual gain in trade and investment relationships. But now it doesn’t feel that way. And there may be a proxy war between the United States over the European economy, not necessarily bombing Europe, but trade sanctions, energy sanctions, the kind of disruption that Europe is going to be seeing in the next year is if it loses Russian oil and gas and minerals and also, I think Chinese exports.

Ross [00:25:25] Is there a moment where cooler heads prevail and suddenly the West and other places realise that they’re dependent from a food security point of view, from an energy security point of view that we are dependent? And is there a moment at that point that you can thaw a frozen conflict by saying, actually, if we both meet, we just take a step toward each other, actually, we can do something in a collaborative way? Now I get what you’ve said throughout the rest of the programme, and I give this a percentage possibility of about three percent, but isn’t there a strategy to say, actually, we’ve had all the grandstanding, we’ve had all the brinksmanship, we should now sit around the table and try and work something out?

Michael Hudson [00:26:03] I don’t see any cooler heads in the United States. The surprising thing is that here it’s the right wing channel, the Republican Fox Channel, is the only channel that’s taking the anti-war stand and is saying we shouldn’t be at war in Ukraine. It’s the only channel that’s talking about here is how Russia sees the world. Do we really want to take a one sided perspective or do we want to see the actual dynamics at work? So it was the Republicans and the right wing that is now primarily against the NATO war in the Ukraine. The left wing seems to be all for it, but the left wing of the Democratic Party is in office and I don’t see any cooler heads in the Democratic Party at all. And I’ve known many of these people for many decades, and they are willing to go to war for a death. There are still back in the world of World War Two when the fight was against the Nazis and anti-Semitism. They’re still living in a kind of mythology world, not in the real world. And the thought that the world can come to an end either doesn’t have a reality to them or as Herman Cain said, Well, somebody is going to survive.

Ross [00:27:29] Michael Hudson always a pleasure, a great insight. And, you know, it’s just refreshing to hear. Thank you very much for your time.

Michael Hudson [00:27:38] Well, thank you very much for having me, Ross.

Here comes China (and they don’t stop!)

March 19, 2022

Source

By Amarynth collaborating with Godfree Roberts’ Newsletter, Here Comes China

Biden / Xi Summit.

In perfect Chinese diplomatic terms, it looks like business as usual. Taken outside of the perfect diplomatic terms, it is a true spanking.

Let’s take one paragraph only and remember a few things first:

Washington, as usual, threatened and danced something like the haka and warned Xi not to support Russia in any way or the consequences would be dire for China. Washington threatened with equally applied sanctions and other dire unmentionables.  Apparently, Washington can support who it wants, but China is in some form prohibited from exactly that.  Hypocritically they want it both ways.  That era is over.

A few hours before the ‘summit’, China had a perfectly normal sail-by through the Taiwan Straits of their aircraft carrier Shandong.  Yes, this is ‘likely routine’ says their spox.  Sure, it was highly likely just routine.  It must have been a wonderful day for the Shandong to take a little sail through the Taiwan Straits.

A few hours before the ‘summit’ Global times had an interview with an unnamed official.  (Is China playing the US game here by not naming the official?).  This is the take-away:  “The international community can fairly judge who is frank and open and who is up to something, who is easing the situation and who is aggravating tension, who is promoting peace talks and who is pouring fuel on the fire, and who is maintaining peace and stability and who is provoking confrontations between blocs.”

Xi Jinping made a pre-summit statement: Countries should not come to the point of meeting on the battlefield. Conflict and confrontation are not in anyone’s interest. Peace and security are what the international community should treasure the most.

So, this is the milieu that Biden walked into at the online summit.  We must know by now what this is all about.  None of the boring line-up of US representatives could bend China to their will to support sanctions against Russia, so, time for a Presidential Summit to yet again attempt to split China and Russia.  This is how perfectly ridiculous this attempt is:  Can you help me fight your friend so that I can concentrate on fighting you later?

Here is how it went:

President Biden expounded on the US position and expressed readiness for communication with China to prevent the situation from exacerbating.

Simply said:  How can we make a deal so that the US/Nato alliance remains a unipolar world and all others must be subservient.

President Xi pointed out that China does not want to see the situation in Ukraine to come to this. China stands for peace and opposes war. This is embedded in China’s history and culture.

Simply said:  Hey Biden, mistake number one!  You do not know who you are talking to, but now I’m going to tell you

  • China makes a conclusion independently based on the merits of each matter.
  • China advocates upholding international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations.
  • China adheres to the UN Charter and promotes the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. These are the major principles that underpin China’s approach to the Ukraine crisis.
  • China has put forward a six-point initiative on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and is ready to provide further humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and other affected countries.
  • All sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace.

Simply stated:  This is the crux of the matter and seemingly you are unable to grasp it!

  • The US and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine.

Message:  Go away and take your position and money with you!  You had your opportunity and you became a warmaker, coercing others to your will.  Enough is enough!  We have principles, law and morals and ethical standards.  You hold on to ‘positions’ favorable to you only.

China is active in the EU as well and the discussion does not remain dry and diplomatically correct. 

China is playing into its strengths, saying what is correct in terms of its own national interest and it happens to co-incide with that of the non-insane world.   The spokespeople are highly educated, clear, exceptionally well-spoken, and smart.   They also mercilessly dig in the knife when opportunity shows.  In a recent press conference:

CCTV: US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the US is concerned about Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure which caused civilian casualties. However, China has yet to state its position explicitly. How does the foreign ministry view such criticism from other countries on China?

Zhao Lijian: Human lives are precious. Civilian casualties under all circumstances are heart-rending and lamentable. China has all along called for every effort to avoid civilian casualties. We still remember that in March 1999, the US-led NATO, without the Security Council’s mandate, flagrantly unleashed a ruthless bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for 78 days, killing at least 2,500 innocent civilians and injuring around 10,000 people, most of them civilians. Over the past two decades or so, the US conducted tens of thousands of air strikes in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. The number of innocent civilians killed can be anywhere between 22,000 and 48,000. When professing its concern for the welfare of the Ukrainian people, shouldn’t the US first express concern over the civilian casualties caused by all these military operations?

I particularly enjoyed this vignette:

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that any support to Russia, military or any other type of support, would actually help Russia conduct a brutal war against an independent sovereign nation, Ukraine, and help them to continue to wage war which is causing death, suffering and an enormous amount of destruction.

This was the comment of the Chinese spokesperson:

Chinese people can fully relate to the pains and sufferings of other countries because we will never forget who bombed our embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  China does not need a lecture on justice from the abuser of international law. As a Cold War remnant and the world’s largest military alliance, NATO continues to expand its geographical scope and range of operations. What kind of role has it played in world peace and stability? NATO needs to have a good reflection.

Currency

Against this backdrop, the news filtered out about The Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and China designing a new monetary and financial system bypassing the U.S. dollar, supervised by Sergei Glazyev and intended to compete with the Bretton Woods system which is now less than 50% of the currency flow in the world.  While news is still very scarce on this front, it fulfilled the purpose of telling Biden once again to go away if US/NATO cannot be a serious contender to building a peaceful and prosperous world.

Godfree Roberts, in his last newsletter, did an overview of the major historical milestones.  I am not sure if the concept of a special drawing rights fiat currency revaluated regularly against a basket of currencies will be the way this rolls out.  Stand by!  Much more incoming!  We will see.

DOLLAR’S END – Farewell, Inordinate Privilege

  • Credit Suisse analyst Zoltan Pozsar says Ukraine triggered a perfect storm in commodities that could weaken the Eurodollar system, contribute to inflation in Western economies, and threaten their financial stability. Pozsar said China’s central bank is uniquely placed to backstop such crisis, paving the way for a much stronger yuan. Reuters, Mar. 13, 2022.
  • Saudi Arabia Considers Accepting Yuan Instead of Dollars for Chinese Oil Sales: Talks between Riyadh and Beijing have accelerated as the Saudi unhappiness grows with Washington. WSJ, Mar. 14, 2022

–o0o–

In 2009, after helping to rescue the US from the GFC, Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the Peoples Bank of China, said, “The world needs an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and able to remain stable in the long run, removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.”

After helping rescue America from the GFC, PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan observed, “The world needs an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and able to remain stable in the long run, removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.”

Zhou proposed SDRs, Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic reserve currency dynamically revalued against a basket of trading currencies and commodities. Broad, deep, stable, and impossible to manipulate. Nobelists Fred Bergsten, Robert Mundell, and Joseph Stieglitz approved: “The creation of a global currency would restore a needed coherence to the international monetary system, give the IMF a function that would help it to promote stability and be a catalyst for international harmony”.  Here’s what’s happened since:

2012: Beijing began valuing the yuan against a currency/commodity basket

2014: The IMF issued the first SDR loan

2016: The World Bank issued the first SDR bond

2017: Standard Chartered Bank issued the first commercial SDR notes.

2019: All central banks began stating currency reserves in SDRs

Mar. 14, 2022: “In two weeks, China and the Eurasian Economic Union – Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan – will reveal an independent international monetary and financial system. It will be based on a new international currency, calculated from an index of national currencies of the participating countries and international commodity prices”.

The currency resembles Keynes’ invention Special Drawing Rights.SDRs are a  synthetic currency which derives its value from a global, publicly traded basket of currencies and commodities. Immense beyond imaging, and stable as the Pyramids. Everyone gets a seat at the table and a vote. It may eventually be administered by an arm of the UN.

SDRs pose a serious alternative to the US dollar, both for the EAEU, the BRI’s 145 member states, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), ASEAN, and the RCEP. Middle East countries, including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, are keenly interested.

Less well known is that the EAEU, the BRI, the SCO, ASEAN, and the RCEP were discussing a merger before the currency news hit.

It is reasonable to expect them to join this new, cooperatively managed, stable reserve currency regime in which they can settle their trades in stable, neutral, predictable SDRs.

Biological labs

China is not losing any opportunity to bring this front and center.  This is their last list of questions:

  • If the concerns are “disinformation”, why doesn’t the U.S. release detailed materials to prove its innocence? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • What did the U.S. spend the $200 million on? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • What kind of research has the U.S. conducted on which pathogens? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • What is it trying to hide when the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine deleted all relevant documents on its website? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • Why does the U.S. insist on being the only country in the world to oppose the establishment of a multilateral verification mechanism though it claims to abide by the Biological Weapons Convention? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • This is quite an amazing poster detailing the biolab web, which is too large to load here.  But take a look at the depiction of these US biolabs.  https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202203/1255055.shtml

Economic goals in a nutshell

What is happening with Belt and Road?  About the data: On January 21, 2022, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) released its data for “China’s investments and cooperation in countries along the Belt and Road” covering the period of January to December 2021. According to these data, Chinese enterprises invested about US$20.3 billion in non-financial direct investments in countries “along the Belt and Road”. Furthermore, there were 560 newly signed projects with a contract value of over US$100 million. The MOFCOM data focus on 55 countries that are “along the Belt and Road” – meaning on a corridor from China to Europe including South Asia. For this report, the definition of BRI countries includes 142 countries that had signed a cooperation agreement with China to work under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative by the end of 2021. To analyze investments in these countries, we base our data on the China Global Investment Tracker and our own data research at the Green Finance & Development Center affiliated with Fudan University, Shanghai. As with most data, they tend to be imperfect.

Chinese joke

On a somewhat of a lighter note:  The Chinese Netizens are in the majority siding with Russia so completely and so enthusiastically, that China’s WeChat and Douyin had to crack down on vulgar jokes and netizens were told in no uncertain terms that they cannot make fun of international news events.  The very high support for Russia is becoming a clear talking point despite the somewhat muted and correct Chinese diplomatic statements.

So, here is a joke for you.

Bear and Dragon take a walk in the gardens.  Bear is a little overcome with his serious responsibilities in the world and presents emotionally somewhat tired and despondent.  As the walk proceeds, Dragon says to Bear .. Out with it!  What has you so despondent?  Bear thinks a moment and says:  We’ve been friends for a long time.  So, if I need a very large amount of money very quickly, will you give it to me?

Dragon, known for taking time to ponder the imponderables, walks on for a while and then comes to a firm stop.  NO, says Dragon, I will not give it to you!

Bear’s shoulders fall .. but Dragon continues:  I will lend it to you.  1.5 trillion the moment you ask for it, no interest, no repayment terms, pay me back when you can.

A world at war

13 Mar 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Alastair Crooke 

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

A World at War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did Europe say ‘yes’?

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

The American Empire self-destructs. But nobody thought that it would happen this fast

MARCH 08, 2022

Source

by Michael Hudson

Empires often follow the course of a Greek tragedy, bringing about precisely the fate that they sought to avoid. That certainly is the case with the American Empire as it dismantles itself in not-so-slow motion.

The basic assumption of economic and diplomatic forecasting is that every country will act in its own self-interest. Such reasoning is of no help in today’s world. Observers across the political spectrum are using phrases like “shooting themselves in their own foot” to describe U.S. diplomatic confrontation with Russia and allies alike. But nobody thought that The American Empire would self-destruct this fast.

For more than a generation the most prominent U.S. diplomats have warned about what they thought would represent the ultimate external threat: an alliance of Russia and China dominating Eurasia. America’s economic sanctions and military confrontation have driven these two countries together, and are driving other countries into their emerging Eurasian orbit.

American economic and financial power was expected to avert this fate. During the half-century since the United States went off gold in 1971, the world’s central banks have operated on the Dollar Standard, holding their international monetary reserves in the form of U.S. Treasury securities, U.S. bank deposits and U.S. stocks and bonds. The resulting Treasury-bill Standard has enabled America to finance its foreign military spending and investment takeover of other countries simply by creating dollar IOUs. U.S. balance-of-payments deficits end up in the central banks of payments-surplus countries as their reserves, while Global South debtors need dollars to pay their bondholders and conduct their foreign trade.

This monetary privilege – dollar seignorage – has enabled U.S. diplomacy to impose neoliberal policies on the rest of the world, without having to use much military force of its own except to grab Near Eastern oil.

The recent escalation of U.S. sanctions blocking Europe, Asia and other countries from trade and investment with Russia, Iran and China has imposed enormous opportunity costs – the cost of lost opportunities – on U.S. allies. And the recent confiscation of the gold and foreign reserves of Venezuela, Afghanistan and now Russia,[1] along with the targeted grabbing of bank accounts of wealthy foreigners (hoping to win their hearts and minds, enticed by the hope for the return of their sequestered accounts), has ended the idea that dollar holdings – or now also assets in sterling and euro NATO satellites of the dollar – are a safe investment haven when world economic conditions become shaky.

So I am somewhat chagrined as I watch the speed at which this U.S.-centered financialized system has de-dollarized over the span of just a year or two. The basic theme of my Super Imperialism has been how, for the past fifty years, the U.S. Treasury-bill standard has channeled foreign savings to U.S. financial markets and banks, giving Dollar Diplomacy a free ride. I thought that de-dollarization would be led by China and Russia moving to take control of their economies to avoid the kind of financial polarization that is imposing austerity on the United States.[2] But U.S. officials are forcing Russia, China and other nations not locked into the U.S. orbit to see the writing on the wall and overcome whatever hesitancy they had to de-dollarize.

I had expected that the end of the dollarized imperial economy would come about by other countries breaking away. But that is not what has happened. U.S. diplomats themselves have chosen to end international dollarization, while helping Russia build up its own means of self-reliant agricultural and industrial production. This global fracture process actually has been going on for some years, starting with the sanctions blocking America’s NATO allies and other economic satellites from trading with Russia. For Russia, these sanctions had the same effect that protective tariffs would have had.

Russia had remained too enthralled by free-market neoliberal ideology to take steps to protect its own agriculture and industry. The United States provided the help that was needed by imposing domestic self-reliance on Russia. When the Baltic states obeyed American sanctions and lost the Russian market for their cheese and other farm products, Russia quickly created its own cheese and dairy sector – while becoming the world’s leading grain exporter.

Russia is discovering (or is on the verge of discovering) that it does not need U.S. dollars as backing for the ruble’s exchange rate. Its central bank can create the rubles needed to pay domestic wages and finance capital formation. The U.S. confiscations of its dollar and euro reserves may finally lead Russia to end its adherence to neoliberal monetary philosophy, as Sergei Glaziev has long been advocating, in favor of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).

The same dynamic of undercutting ostensible U.S aims has occurred with U.S. sanctions against the leading Russian billionaires. The neoliberal shock therapy and privatizations of the 1990s left Russian kleptocrats with only one way to cash out on the assets they had grabbed from the public domain. That was to incorporate their takings and sell their shares in London and New York. Domestic savings had been wiped out, and U.S. advisors persuaded Russia’s central bank not to create its own ruble money.

The result was that Russia’s national oil, gas and mineral patrimony was not used to finance a rationalization of Russian industry and housing. Instead of the revenue from privatization being invested to create new Russian means of protection, it was burned up on nouveau-riche acquisitions of luxury British real estate, yachts and other global flight-capital assets. But the effect of sanctions making the dollar, sterling and euro holdings of Russian billionaires hostage has been to make the City of London too risky a venue in which to hold their assets – and for the wealthy of any other nation potentially subject to U.S. sanctions. By imposing sanctions on the richest Russians closest to Putin, U.S. officials hoped to induce them to oppose his breakaway from the West, and thus to serve effectively as NATO agents-of-influence. But for Russian billionaires, their own country is starting to look safest.

For many decades now, the U.S. Federal Reserve and Treasury have fought against gold recovering its role in international reserves. But how will India and Saudi Arabia view their dollar holdings as Biden and Blinken try to strong-arm them into following the U.S. “rules-based order” instead of their own national self-interest? The recent U.S. dictates have left little alternative but to start protecting their own political autonomy by converting dollar and euro holdings into gold as an asset free from political liability of being held hostage to the increasingly costly and disruptive U.S. demands.

U.S. diplomacy has rubbed Europe’s nose in its abject subservience by telling its governments to have their companies dump their Russian assets for pennies on the dollar after Russia’s foreign reserves were blocked and the ruble’s exchange rate plunged. Blackstone, Goldman Sachs and other U.S. investors moved quickly to buy up what Shell Oil and other foreign companies were unloading.

Nobody thought that the postwar 1945-2020 world order would give way this fast. A truly new international economic order is emerging, although it is not yet clear just what form it will take. But the confrontations resulting from “prodding the Bear” with the U.S./NATO aggression against Russia has passed critical-mass level. It no longer is just about Ukraine. That is merely the trigger, a catalyst for driving much of the world away from the US/NATO orbit.

The next showdown may come within Europe itself as nationalist politicians seek to lead a break-away from the over-reaching U.S. power-grab over its European and other allies to keep them dependent on U.S.-based trade and investment. The price of their continuing obedience is to impose cost-inflation on their industry while subordinating their democratic electoral politics to America’s NATO proconsuls.

These consequences cannot really be deemed “unintended.” Too many observers have pointed out exactly what would happen – headed by President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov explaining just what their response would be if NATO insisted on backing them into a corner while attacking Eastern Ukrainian Russian-speakers and moving heavy weaponry to Russia’s Western border. The consequences were anticipated. The neocons in control of U.S. foreign policy simply didn’t care. Recognizing Russian concerns was deemed to make one a Putinversteher.

European officials did not feel uncomfortable in telling the world about their worries that Donald Trump was crazy and upsetting the apple cart of international diplomacy. But they seem to have been blindsided by the Biden Administration’s resurgence of visceral Russia-hatred via Secretary of State Blinken and Victoria Nuland-Kagan. Trump’s mode of expression and mannerisms may have been uncouth, but America’s neocon gang have much more globally threatening confrontation obsessions. For them, it was a question of whose reality would emerge victorious: the “reality” that they believed they could make, or economic reality outside of U.S. control.

What foreign countries have not done for themselves to replace the IMF, World Bank and other strongarms of U.S. diplomacy, American politicians are forcing them to do. Instead of European, Near Eastern and Global South countries breaking away as they calculate their own long-term economic interests, America is driving them away, as it has done with Russia and China. More politicians are seeking voter support by asking whether their countries would be better served by new monetary arrangements to replace dollarized trade, investment and even foreign debt service.

The energy and food price squeeze is hitting Global South countries especially hard, coinciding with their own Covid-19 problems and the looming dollarized debt service coming due. Something must give. How long will these countries impose austerity to pay foreign bondholders?

How will the U.S. and European economies cope in the face of their sanctions against imports of Russian gas and oil, cobalt, aluminum, palladium and other basic materials. American diplomats have made a list of raw materials that their economy desperately needs and which therefore are exempt from the trade sanctions being imposed. This provides Mr. Putin a handy list of U.S. pressure points to use in reshaping world diplomacy and helping European and other countries break away from the Iron Curtain that America has imposed to lock its satellites into dependence on high-priced U.S. supplies?

The Biden Inflation

But the final breakaway from NATO’s adventurism must come from within the United States itself. As this year’s midterm elections approach, politicians will find a fertile ground in showing U.S. voters that the price inflation led by gasoline and energy is a policy byproduct of the Biden Administration’s blocking of Russian oil and gas exports. (Bad news for owners of big SUV gas guzzlers!) Gas is needed not only for heating and energy production, but to make fertilizer, of which there already is a world shortage. This situation is exacerbated by blocking Russian and Ukrainian grain exports to the United States and Europe, causing food prices already to soar.

There already is a striking disconnect between the financial sector’s view of reality and that promoted in the mainstream NATO media. Europe’s stock markets plunged at their opening on Monday, March 7, while Brent oil soared to $130 a barrel. The BBC’s morning “Today” news broadcast featured Conservative MP Alan Duncan, an oil trader, warning that the near doubling of prices in natural gas futures threatened to bankrupt companies committed to supplying gas to Europe at the old rates. But returning to the military “Two Minutes of Hate” news, the BBC kept applauding the brave Ukrainian fighters and NATO politicians urging more military support. In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 650 points, and gold soared to over $2,000 an ounce – reflecting the financial sector’s view of how the U.S. game is likely to play out. Nickel prices rose by even more – 40 percent.

Trying to force Russia to respond militarily and thereby look bad to the rest of the world is turning out to be a stunt aimed simply at ensuring Europe contribute more to NATO, buy more U.S. military hardware and lock itself deeper into trade and monetary dependence on the United States. The instability that this has caused is turning out to have the effect of making the United States look as threatening as Russia is claimed to be by the NATO West.

  1. Libya’s gold also disappeared after NATO’s overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. 
  2. See most recently Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson (2021), “Beyond Dollar Creditocracy: A Geopolitical Economy,” Valdai Club Paper No. 116. Moscow: Valdai Club, 7 July, repr. in Real World Economic Review (97), https://rwer.wordpress.com/2021/09/23. 

Russia is immune to sanctions – Putin

20 Feb, 2022

Western sanctions are inevitable and useless, according to the Russian president

By Alexey Viryasov

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks a joint news conference in Moscow, Russia on February 18, 2022. © AP / Kremlin Pool / Sergei Guneyev

No new sanctions can possibly deter Russia from doing what it wants, because Moscow has experience dealing with them for many years already, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, on Friday, the Russian leader claimed Moscow cannot possibly avoid Western sanctions, because they are not aimed at altering the Kremlin’s behavior. In his view, they are actually a plan to hinder the economic development of Russia.

“Sanctions will be imposed in any case. Whether they have a reason today, for example, in connection with the events in Ukraine, or there is no reason, it will be found,” Putin said. “The goal is different. In this case, the goal is to slow down the development of Russia and Belarus.”

The Russian president also stated that Moscow believes these sanctions to be illegitimate, calling them an unfair competition tool of the US and its allies.

“This is a gross violation of international law,” he said, also accusing the US of a selective approach to international norms.

“They care about it only when it is advantageous to them. They always interpret everything only in their own favor and neglect the interests of other [countries],” he claimed, stating that the only way for Moscow and Minsk to mitigate the effect of sanctions is to develop economic cooperation and import substitution.

The US and its European allies imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014 following the events in Ukraine, when violent street protests toppled the democratically elected government in Kiev. In particular, economic measures were slapped on Moscow after Crimea was reabsorbed into Russia following a referendum. The vote took place a month after the events of the Maidan. Ukraine, as well as most of the world, considers the referendum illegitimate and views the peninsula as illegally occupied.

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Russian options in the LDNR – my personal take

February 18, 2022

Okay, this will be a short bulletpoint reminder of how I see the Russian position and options in response to the Ukronazis attack.

First, a few key assumptions:

  • Russia does not want to invade/liberate the Ukraine
  • Russia would prefer not to get openly involved in the LDNR
  • The best outcome for Russia would be for the LDNR to be able to hold without overt Russian support
  • Throughout this entire battle, Russia will always prefer to do less than to do more.

Next, here is a summary of how I expect Russia to act in the next couple of days:

EventConsequenceRussian option
Ukronazi shelling but not ground attackCivilian casualties and infrastructure destructionLet the LDNR handle it while reporting about this at home
Ukronazis attempt to move ground forces across the LOCRisk to the LDNR defensesIdeally, Russia would only use “indirect” means such as counter-battery fire, strikes on advancing Ukronazi forces, EW.
Ukronazis forces break through the LDNR defensesPotential existential risk to the LDNRImposition of a no-fly zone, sustained artillery/rocket attacks on Ukie forces
Full scale Ukronazi attackExistential threat to the LDNRRussia moves her forces into the LDNR and stops it all.

Notice that in all the scenarios above, Russia does not initiate a fullscale attack on the Ukraine.

Why?

Because the decision to launch a fullscale attack on the Ukronazi state would be based not on events along the LOC (line of contact) but upon a much “bigger picture” of what the West might, or might not do, in the Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

In other words, the problem of the LDNR is separate from the much greater problem of the future security arrangement of Europe.

Also, another much needed reminder: when does it makes sense to negotiate with your enemies?

  • Not when you “trust” them.
  • Not when you hope to “convince” them.
  • Not when you hope to “show a peaceful face” to the general public.

No, it makes sense to negotiate with your enemy when:

  • You hope to achieve more by negotiations then by using military force.
  • Time is on your side.
  • When you need to buy more time (for whatever reasons).

The US and its EU colonies have been predicting a Russian intervention for months now.  That intervention has not happened (yet) and this is driving the leaders of the West into total despair.  This is good for Russia and that is how she wants to keep the situation for as long as possible.

I am personally convinced that the only way to solve both the specific LDNR option and to create a new security architecture in Europe will have to be achieved by Russian unilateral military operation: the folks in the West need yet another military defeat to come back to their senses (they need one about every century or so).  If the Russians also see that as inevitable, they still have two things they need to do first:

  • To delay an open intervention as much as possible in order to subvert the western narrative
  • To engage in what could be called the “psychological preparation of the theater of operations” which, in plain English, to create such a level of anger in the LDNR and also inside Russia that the public opinion will DEMAND an intervention.

There WILL be real negative economic and political repercussions for Russia when she intervenes.  Thus it is vital for Putin and the government to create such a political dynamic inside Russia that the Russian people will not only support an intervention, but DEMAND one.  Then, when the western “sanctions from hell” are imposed, the people will not blame Putin for the very real price Russia will have to pay to prevail.

Right now, you could say that the Russian bear has been awoken by all the noise, it has come out of its lair and is just looking.  Just that has the entire West in a state of total panic.

Good.

But when that bear will actually attack will not be decided by anyone but that bear.

The Ukies have declared on numerous occasions that they will not implement the Minsk Agreements.  That is very good.

Now their attack on the LDNR seems to show that the Ukies now want to provoke a Russian response.  This is also very good, as the level of public outrage on the RuNet and even on Russian TV has gone through the roof.  The Russian PSYOP preparation of the battlefield is progressing in the right direction.

As for the LDNR defenses, they seem to be holding, but the real, major, Ukie ground offensive has not begun yet!

That is the next thing we need to look for: a Ukie ground attack.  Specifically, we don’t need to worry primarily about the initiation of that coming Ukie attack, but what it yields in the first 4-6 hours or so.  Once the Ukies are fully committed, then they become a legitimate target for counter-strikes.

So this is The Big Question now: will the LDNR defenses hold?

==>>So this is the key thing to observe is this: is the LOC moving and, if yes, how far and how fast?<<==

My personal guess is that yes, they will, which will leave only two options to the Ukronazis:

  • Give up
  • Launch a massive, full-scale attack

The latter is much more likely than the former.

And, in the meantime, the pain dial for the West is slowly turning up pretty much on all fronts.

So for Russia it makes sense to let that process take as long as possible before deciding to interrupt it and overtly intervene.

I hear one argument: what about the innocent civilians murdered in the LDNR?

What about them?

Does anybody seriously think that a Russian intervention will result in less casualties than what is currently taking place?

The horrible truth is that loss of life will happen no matter how the situation evolves.  So the only real choice is not “save civilians or let them die” the choice is “make sure that every civilian death counts”.  Sound cynical?  It is, but that is the reality of real warfare (as opposed to the Hollywood & Tom Clancy nonsense folks in the West are brainwashed with since birth).

So, to all those who are constantly demanding that Russia intervene *now* and who don’t understand why Lavrov agreed to meet with Blinken, I will say this: do not project your own emotions and reactions unto Putin or, if you prefer, the “Russian bear”.  The Russians did not create the biggest country on earth and defeated all their enemies by being naive or by being unable to calculate when/how to react against a foreign aggression.

If you think that you know better, good for you, just don’t expect Putin to act the way you would in the same situation.

Lastly, there is something morally repugnant in the attitude of those who see warfare as anything but the weapon of last resort.  Christ said “blessed are the peacemakers” not “blessed are the warmakers”.  Yes, as I said, I believe that Russia will have to intervene, openly and directly.  But I also believe that Putin will wait as much as possible.  That is not only operationally wise, it is morally correct.

Andrei

ADDENDUM: I remember how the western media said that the city of Sarajevo was “intensively shelled” by the Serbs.  Utter nonsense!  These folks simply don’t understand modern warfare.  When a shell lands every few minutes or so this is NOT any “intense artillery fire”.  Now, when an area the size of one, or even several, football field instantly goes up in flames, that is a serious artillery strike.  What we see as of right now in the LDNR is what could be called “disturbing fire”.  When the Ukies used de-mining vehicles yesterday that could be part of a preparation for a ground assault.  This has NOT happened YET.  As for a ground assault, so far the Ukies have only sent in special forces and, apparently, they got detected, took casualties, and had to retreat.

All this is way below the threshold at which Russia will have to intervene.

US Sanctions Are Crime against Humanity, Affect Most Vulnerable People – Iran Envoy

February 15, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s envoy to the United Nations Zahra Ershadi denounced as “crime against humanity” the imposition of sanctions against the nation, saying such unilateral restrictive measures have put the lives of vulnerable people at risk by hampering their access to medicine.

Ershadi, deputy permanent representative of Iran to the world body, made the remarks at the UN Commission for Social Development.

She complained that illegal sanctions have made it very difficult for vulnerable groups in countries such as Iran to access basic medical items and thus put their lives at stake.

The Iranian envoy further noted that the import of medicines as well as medical equipment and hygiene products have been severely hindered by restrictions on foreign exchange resources.

The illegal measures have a direct negative impact on the lives of the most vulnerable Iranian citizens, including women, children, and patients, she said, adding that many children have died as a result of such inhumane bans.

“As our president stated in his address to the UNGA session, unilateral sanctions against the Iranian people, particularly sanctions on medicine and humanitarian items, are criminal acts on par with crimes committed against humanity. Those who sanction countries should not go unpunished for such heinous crimes,” Ershadi asserted.

“As the representative of a country whose people are subjected to the most brutal form of economic terrorism and illegitimate unilateral coercive measures by the United States, I call for the complete and immediate lifting of all unilateral coercive measures including sanctions in order to ensure the full achievement of economic and social development and enable the targeted countries to repair their economies while guaranteeing the well-being of their people in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

She further noted that despite the sanctions, the Iranian government has managed to provide poor and vulnerable people with special financial packages and social and economic rehabilitation programs, in addition to devising economic support measures, especially for small businesses.

The government, she said, has also prepared medical treatment programs for about 4 million legal and illegal Afghan refugees.

Back in May 2018, the US began to unilaterally impose sanctions against Iran after the former left the Iran agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

The US, under former president Donald Trump, launched what it called a maximum pressure campaign against Iran at the time, targeting the Iranian nation with the “toughest ever” sanctions.

Although Trump failed to reach its professed goals with his maximum pressure campaign, the bans have badly hurt the Iranian population.

The sanctions, preserved under the Joe Biden administration, have restricted the financial channels necessary to pay for basic goods and medicine, undermining supply chains by limiting the number of suppliers willing to facilitate sales of humanitarian goods to the country.

Iran has repeatedly denounced the sanctions as an act of “economic war”, “economic terrorism”, and “medical terrorism.”

Andrei Martyanov on Liz Truss’ visit to Moscow

February 10, 2022

Please visit Andrei’s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/
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Security Council: Russia, China Lash out at Unilateral Sanctions by US, Allies

February 8, 2022

Russia and China lashed out in the UN Security Council at unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and other countries and groups.

The United States and its allies clashed with Russia and China in the UN Security Council on Monday over the usefulness and impact of UN sanctions.

Russia, which holds the council presidency, chose the topic of the meeting: “preventing humanitarian and unintended consequences of sanctions.”

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky, who chaired the meeting, said many sanctions regimes interfere with plans for state-building and economic development, pointing to Central African Republic and Sudan and calling the measures on Guinea Bissau “anachronistic.”

The Security Council needs “to take greater heed of what the authorities of states under sanctions think” and be more realistic in setting benchmarks to lift them to make sure they don’t turn into “a mission impossible,” he said.

For her part, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield claimed that sanctions are “a potent tool” that “make it harder for terrorists to raise funds via international financial systems,” and have slowed development of “certain capabilities” in North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Britain’s deputy ambassador James Kariyuki said the value of UN sanctions was “proven” in Angola, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone where “they helped end conflict and support the transition to peace and democracy and were then lifted.”

Russia’s Polyansky took special aim at sanctions imposed outside the UN by countries or groups, which “remain a serious impediment for full-fledged functioning of humanitarian exemptions,” citing problems with contractors, carriers, cargo insurance and bank transactions.

He also said Russia proceeds from the understanding that only UN sanctions “are legitimate,” and that broader use of unilateral sanctions “undermines the norms and institutes of the international law.”

Polyansky said “secondary sanctions of major Western powers create a `toxic vibe’ around Pyongyang” that discourages cooperation even in areas not touched by international restrictions. He also cited what he called the “war of sanctions” against Russia’s ally Syria, which has very negatively affected its economy, as well as US sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela.

China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun called unilateral sanctions “extremely harmful” and expressed concern that a few countries “have been flinging them about left, right and center, in a frenzy so much so that they seem to be addicted to them.” He said these measures “have thrown a spanner in the works of economic and social development and scientific and technological progress of the targeted countries.”

Source: Agencies

What, if anything, happened in Geneva?

January 12, 2022

There are no official results from the meeting in Geneva yet.  The US has promised to give the Russians an official answer in writing within a week.  The Russians have declared that they have explained the Russian position to their US counterparts in minute details leaving no ambiguity.  According to Russian sources, the US position was a “diehard/stubborn” one.

Clearly, the War Party in the USA is, at least so far, prevailing.  When I listen to the delusional statements of the likes of Blinken, Psaki, Kirby & Co I get the strong feeling that for these people everything is a zero-sum game and that to them an agreement with Russia, any agreement, is simply unthinkable.

If so, then this is all good news.  Frankly, it is pretty clear that the War Party has won the day, at least so far, which leaves Russia no other option that to take further unilateral actions which is, I believe, the only way left for Russia to bring the leaders of the West back into the real world.

There are still further talks planned, with the Russia-NATO council and the OSCE.  Never say never and maybe a last minute breakthrough is possible, but I personally don’t see how that could happen, not when one of the two parties is absolutely, maniacally, determined to treat the other as some kind of semi-savage inferior race with whom no civilized western leaders will ever negotiate.  The western diplomatic toolkit is has shrunk to basically the following:

  • Exceptionalism, messianism, racism and self-worship.
  • Threats and imposition of sanctions for “bad behavior” like a teacher would punish a grade-school kid for being rowdy and not listening to the teacher.
  • A total belief in both the West invincibility and invulnerability no matter what the “real reality” actually is.
  • A total categorical refusal to admit, even by implication, that the world has profoundly changed and that the Anglosphere does not “rule the waves” anymore.

There is only one thing Russia can do to bring the leaders of the West back to reality: to turn up what I call the “pain dial”.

Russian peacekeeper in Kazakhstan

In the meantime, the Russian military has declared that it hopes to leave Kazakhstan within a week, but only if/when the situation in this country is fully stabilized.

President Tokaev has said that the CSTO forces withdrawal will being in 48 hours and will last no more than 10 days.  I hope that he is right.

However, it will take months for Kazakhstan and Russia to deal with the insurgents, especially in the West and South of Kazakhstan.  But that would already be a mopping-up operation which Russia and Kazakhstan can coordinate on a bilateral basis without any need to involve the CSTO.

For the time, we have to wait and see what actually happens in the next few days, things should become much clearer.

Andrei

Blinken Threatens Russia with ‘Massive Consequences’ over Ukraine

January 8, 2022

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks speaks during a visit by U.S. President Joe Biden to the State Department in Washington, U.S., February 4, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has threatened Russia with “massive consequences” if it launches any military action in neighboring Ukraine, despite the fact that Moscow has rejected Washington’s allegations of preparing to invade the neighboring country.

Before crucial talks between American and Russian diplomats in Europe next week, Blinken said on Friday, “We’re prepared to respond forcefully to further Russian aggression.”

But he added that “a diplomatic solution is still possible and preferable if Russia chooses it.”

American and Russian officials are scheduled to meet on Monday amid US accusations that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine and annex it.

A meeting of the NATO-Russia Council will also take place on Wednesday, and a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) permanent council, of which Russia is a member, will be held on Thursday.

The Russian government last month made demands on NATO and Ukraine about the future of their relationship. Moscow demanded the Western military alliance deny Ukraine membership to NATO and to roll back its military deployments.

Moscow also proposed that the US not establish any military bases in former Soviet states that are not part of NATO, nor develop a bilateral military alliance with them.

Biden has also threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin with “severe sanctions” if Russia launches any military action in neighboring Ukraine.

Biden told reporters last week that he issued the threat to the Russian leader during their last phone call.

“I made it clear to President Putin that if he makes any more moves if he goes into Ukraine, we will have severe sanctions. We will increase our presence in Europe with our NATO allies. There will be a heavy price to pay for it,” Biden told reporters a day after the December 30 call.

On Friday, Blinken echoed that message, saying that America and its allies are prepared to take harsh economic measures against Russia.

“Our goal is to have a relationship with Russia that is predictable and stable, so that we can cooperate when it’s in our mutual interest, and address our differences with an open and frank dialogue,” he said.

“It’ll be very difficult to make actual progress if Russia continues to escalate its military buildup and its inflammatory rhetoric. And we’ve been clear with Russia about what it will face if it continues on this path, including economic measures that we haven’t used before – massive consequences,” he said.

Meanwhile, Russia has previously warned the US that extensive sanctions against it would be “a colossal mistake.”

Source: Agencies

NATO expansion to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova a life-or-death situation: Kremlin

26 Dec 2021

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen Net

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stressed the sensitivity of Ukraine’s issue to Russia, and that conflict can threaten Ukraine’s statehood.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, Moscow, Russia, on October 2, 2019 (Anadolu Agency)

According to Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, NATO’s expansion to Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova is a matter of life and death for Russia.

Peskov told Rossiya 1 about the issue: “Of course, for us, this is, well, essentially a matter of life and death already, ” talking about NATO’s extension to include nations like Ukraine and other former Soviet Union members.

The Kremlin spokesperson stated, “The equipment is beginning to make its way into Ukraine, military instructors are coming there, there are several thousand of them already,” adding that “NATO is gradually making its way into Ukraine and then, the only thing left will be to make it official.”

When asked if a military escalation could be hazardous to Ukraine’s statehood, Peskov responded “undoubtedly,” adding that “this is something President Putin talked about on multiple occasions and this is something that Kiev knows perfectly well and Washington knows perfectly well.”

Russia released its proposals for security agreements with the US and NATO earlier this month. The draft documents included a proposal to avoid deploying intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas where they could endanger either party to the agreement, as well as other measures.

Lavrov: US approach toward Russia creates a toxic atmosphere

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on December 24 that the US unfriendly approach toward Russia creates a toxic atmosphere and prevents the creation of peaceful contact between the two countries. 

In an interview for Oslobođenje newspaper, Lavrov pointed out that Moscow’s interactions with Washington have led to unfavorable scenarios, revealing that there have been many tensions between the two.

The Russian FM accused the US of being “overtly antagonistic” as it continues to impose sanctions, be hostile, and “make baseless charges against Russia.”

Putin: Russia will not be part of the conflict in the Donbas region

During his annual press conference, Putin stressed, on December 23, that Russia is ready to work with Ukrainian sides who are looking to build good-neighborly relations with Moscow.

On his part, the Russian President said Russia will not be part of the conflict in the Donbas region.

It is worth noting that the Minsk Agreement is an agreement to stop the war in the Donbas region, signed by Ukraine, Russia, the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Luhansk People’s Republic, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on September 5, 2014.

Maduro to Al Mayadeen: We will not abandon Palestine

December 26, 2021

Net Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro says, in an interview for Al Mayadeen, that the Venezuelan people resisted fierce attacks launched by US imperialism and its allies, and discusses relations with some countries, including Iran and Syria.

Maduro to Al Mayadeen: We will not abandon Palestine

In an exclusive interview with Al Mayadeen, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro noted that 2021 was the first year in which Venezuela registered economic growth since “the beginning of the criminal imperialist US sanctions,”  adding that this growth was the result of Venezuela’s economy which produces food, goods, products, and services. The country has witnessed growth in its industries, trade, and its domestic market as a result of the Venezuelans’ continued effort.

Maduro considered that the people of Venezuela resisted the fierce attacks launched by the US imperial power and its allies around the world, “but we held on and resisted.” Maduro highlighted that the people of Venezuela did not suffice themselves with resistance, rather the important goal they sought after was to achieve progress by way of a collective effort through the stimulation of all economic sectors.

The Venezuelan President revealed that he finds inspiration in Venezuela’s heroic history, stressing the need to believe in the people in order to motivate its sense of pride and ameliorate its strengths, both spiritually and morally. Maduro added that when the individual sees a greater historical cause embodied in himself, he will ascend to the level of the difficulties and challenges that face him.

Al Mayadeen Exclusive | Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro: I find inspiration in #Venezuela’s heroic history. @NicolasMaduro pic.twitter.com/VFv1klL5IW— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) December 26, 2021

According to Maduro, the people of Venezuela were no less than heroes before the challenges they faced, and he as a President had to be up to par with this heroic people. He also needed to have great faith and patience, as well as trust in the future, to rise up to the challenge and enter the battle.

The Venezuelan president pointed out that the late Cuban president, Fidel Castro, had always said that one must fight in all circumstances, fight until the last breath.

Commenting on opposition leader and US favorite Juan Guaido, Maduro described him as a sort of a “political Frankenstein” who was defeated, adding that “imperialism thought that Venezuela was its property” and that it had the ability to appoint a president for the country, through its colonialist comportment.

Nicolas #Maduro on #JuanGuaido: He was a kind of a political “Frankenstein” who was defeated. @NicolasMaduro #Venezuela pic.twitter.com/xKBqt4MYLD— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) December 26, 2021

He further clarified that the people of Venezuela confronted imperialism, and told its leaders and its Guaido that they shall not pass, and indeed they did not.

Maduro called for abandoning imperialism and its Frankenstein in the swamp, stressing that during the previous US administration, Trump appointed a High Commissioner called Elliott Abrams to rule over a “colony called Venezuela,” in accordance with Trump’s neo-colonialist and imperialist perspective.

However, Maduro noted, Abrams was “so shameless that he wrote my wife, asking her to divorce me,” and told her that they would allow her to take her family out of the country. He also added that Abrams asked him to “betray the people of Venezuela, Bolivar’s cause, and Chavez’s legacy, and to hand Venezuela over to US imperialism.

Al Mayadeen Exclusive | Nicolas Maduro: They wanted me to betray the people of #Venezuela#Bolivar’s cause, and #Chavez’s legacy, and to hand Venezuela over to #US imperialism. @NicolasMaduro pic.twitter.com/GvbAAL930v— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) December 26, 2021

According to the Venezuelan President, imperialism’s plans ran into the reality of the high Bolivarian ethical values “that we uphold.” Venezuela also witnessed surprises, which revealed the bravery of many people in this world, such as resistance factions, and movements of solidarity, and heads of states and governments, “that provided us with support and defended us.”

Every traitor of Venezuela is now in history’s ash heap

During his interview for Al Mayadeen, Maduro noted that he had always felt that Venezuela was not alone. At the UN, he said, they [Venezuela’s enemies] tried on numerous occasions to avoid recognizing the legitimacy of our government, and they were beaten by support from the vast majority of governments. He expressed his pride in the world’s solidarity and resistance movements, and their leaders.

Maduro emphasized that he knew who the traitors were, and where to find them, saying that those that attempt to interfere in Venezuela’s affairs will dry out and wither. Each traitor to Venezuela has gone to the ash heap of history, like Lenin Moreno and Mauricio Macri. But, he said, it is best to talk of things beneficial to our peoples, “instead of remembering that trash.” 

Al Mayadeen Exclusive | Nicolas Maduro: Each traitor to #Venezuela has gone to the ash heap of history. @NicolasMaduro pic.twitter.com/lePbDDPpQl— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) December 26, 2021

Venezuela’s President commented on the elections, saying they were exemplary, and some of the monitors were witnesses to our electoral system being the safest and most progressive in the world. He also highlighted that this election was the 29th in the 21 years since the Bolivarian revolution, and marks the 27th victory, and said “ we are a true power,” a power that is always renewing itself in its discourse, in its plans, and its leadership.

Regarding his country’s commitments and challenges, he emphasized the need to meet them. Every time a victory is achieved, Venezuela performs a comprehensive review, accompanied with self-criticism, and studies future plans, he added, stressing that before the year’s end, the plans will be ready for 2022, 2023, and 2024.

According to the Venezuelan President, his country is not living on its past glories, as with every victory they learn their lessons, and find renewed energy and strength for the future; everything is meticulously planned. The secret to building a revolution, he went on to say, lies in self-criticism, which they always do, as they remain vigilant 24 hours a day.

Facing the end of 2021, Maduro declared that he is currently enjoying the sweet taste of victory, and is readying himself to sacrifice and work to achieve new victories in the coming years, and that the National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela are a new body built to be part of this nation. 

The armed forces, he said, raised the banner of independence and fighting imperialism, the banner of freedom, the banner of the great liberator of America, Simon Bolivar. 

Discussing late Venezuelan leader and former President Hugo Chavez, Maduro told Al Mayadeen that he was a great military leader in whom one could find all the elements of comprehensive leadership. He considered that Chavez was the one who restructured the armed forces, giving them a new code based on resistance. He emphasized Venezuela’s armed forces role as the backbone of the revolution and the pillar of democracy and its existence.

The Venezuelan leader saw that imperialism devotes millions of dollars to buy off soldiers in many countries around the world, recruiting them so that they would organize military coups by using them as they did in Paraguay, Bolivia, Honduras, and Chile. Commander Chavez, he said, severed this relationship the United States had with Venezuela and said his country has sovereign military forces, which are the backbone for peace, stability, and democracy in Venezuela.

Chavez’s decision was a great shock

Maduro reminisced on the words of former President Chavez when he had to undergo complex surgery and said that if anything should happen that would impede his ability to perform his duties as president, then Maduro should assume responsibility.

He considered Chavez’s decision to be a great shock because he [Maduro] knew very well that when Chavez thinks of something and makes a decision, it is because he expects that something will happen, clarifying that “us revolutionaries” are obliged to deal with any conditions forced upon them, and as revolutionaries, they must be ready for battle, ready to surmount pain, injury, and grief, and that is what happened.

He expressed his satisfaction for the loyalty he showed Chavez’s legacy, and his honoring of the oath he swore before him and continuing to be in the frontlines of the confrontation, holding the banner of victory, of Venezuela.

Discussing his wife, Maduro said Cilia Flores is first and foremost, a leader from our country, and has had her own history. He added that she was a member of Parliament, a director in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, and an Attorney General of Venezuela at one point, clarifying that she is firm in her opinions and resolute in her utterances, with people calling her the “first fighter.”

He declared that Flores continuously fights for children, the youth, and for Venezuelan women, and expressed his great pride to be her husband.

We will not abandon Palestine

On the Palestinian cause, President Maduro stressed that no one in the world dares to ask Caracas to abandon Palestine. “We cannot accept such demands. It is a sin to simply think about abandoning Palestine or leaving it by itself.”

“Palestine is humanity’s holy land, and we have the Palestinian land in such high regard. We hear the name ‘Palestine’ loud and high,” Maduro affirmed, condemning the Israeli occupation’s crimes against Palestinians, saying “Israel” would pay for them one day.

The Venezuelan leader sent a message to the Palestinian people, in which he affirmed Venezuela’s, the Venezuelan people’s, and the leader Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution’s support for Palestine. He reiterated his neverending total support of Palestine as Venezuela loves Palestine, all its people, and all its factions.

“We wish Palestine well, and we have cooperation agreements with it – agreements that are going very well. We would like to give more for Palestine,” President Maduro said, calling on the peoples of the world, all of its leaders, all Arabs, and all Islamic leaders not to leave Palestine alone.

He voiced additional support for Palestine, saying it deserved unwavering and fearless support from all world leaders, saying “Palestine is crying out for help; Palestine is asking for your support, crimes are committed against it every day, and its youth are killed every day.”

Al Mayadeen Exclusive | Nicolas Maduro: #Palestine is crying out for help; Palestine is asking for your support, crimes are committed against it every day, and its youth are killed every day.#Venezuela@NicolasMaduro pic.twitter.com/40AGYxyd4C— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) December 26, 2021

Commenting on the latest events in occupied Palestine, namely the Israeli crimes, violations, and abuses, Maduro said the occupation’s crimes were indescribable, and are unmatched in this world, reaffirming his support for the Palestinian people, concluding by dedicating “a big kiss to the heart of Palestine.”

Syria will rise again with Assad

President Maduro talked about Syria and its president Bashar Al-Assad, describing him as a courageous, heroic, fighting man who has a beautiful family and a wonderful people, expressing his regret over what happened to Syria, saying it was “destined to endure a criminal terrorist war.”

Maduro affirmed that the Syrian people have suffered a lot throughout the last 11 years, and they knew how to preserve and win. The Syrian Arab Army, alongside the unified Syrian people and President Bashar Al-Assad, will make Syria rise again and fully liberate it, he declared. 

“The Arab world; the whole world will be amazed at how Syria will resurrect in the following years,” Maduro added.

Moreover, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry will undertake several initiatives in 2020 to reactivate cooperation between Arab countries and Latin America to establish links on both monetary and financial levels, the Venezuelan leader announced.

A lot of things could happen in the coming years between Venezuela and the Arab world, he emphasized, divulging his belief that it will happen.

“I want to use this interview with Al Mayadeen to call on all the leaders, peoples, and investors to invest in Venezuela,” he said.

The leader called his country the land of opportunities, which offers all constitutional and legal guarantees for investments in oil, gas, petrochemicals, tourism, gold, diamonds, iron, steel, aluminum, and foodstuffs.

I thank God for meeting Qassem Soleimani

Speaking about Iran, Maduro said relations with the Islamic Republic have always been really good, “Whether with former President Ahmadinejad, former President Hassan Rouhani, or now with President Ebrahim Raisi.”

Maduro said he agreed on several new plans with President Raisi, and the intergovernmental committee of both countries is working on these new projects which include networking and cooperation between Iran and Venezuela.

The Venezuelan president also voiced his admiration for Iranian Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, describing him as a man of great wisdom and great intelligence.

He revealed that former Quds Force commander martyr Major General Qassem Soleimani visited Venezuela between March and April 2019. “We were in the midst of the electrical crisis launched by the imperialists of the north against Venezuela’s electrical network,” touching on the conversation the two figures had on several areas of cooperation, including electricity. Maduro confirmed that all matters discussed between them went on to be implemented.

The Venezuelan President praised Major General Soleimani, “He was a smiley, optimistic man, and I thank God for ever meeting him.”

He further said, “Soleimani combated terrorism and the brutal terrorist criminals who attacked the peoples of the Axis of resistance. He was a brave man.”

He stressed the importance of learning from these horrific crimes, such as the crime of assassinating martyr Soleimani. “Is this a world we want, where we witness the White House issuing an order to kill a hero of the struggle against terrorism in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon?”

The world must raise its voice again, he underscored, “in condemnation of the murder of the people’s hero, Major General Soleimani.”

President Nicolas Maduro concluded by thanking Al Mayadeen for the attention it gives to peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean and for constantly covering its news on social media, not to mention its cooperation with the Venezuelan TeleSur TV channel.

“We must make more effort toward our spiritual, cultural, and political unification, and we must learn from the struggle and path of each one of our countries,” he concluded.

How not to win an Olympic gold medal

December 8, 2021

Pepe Escobar

In the annals of diplomacy, the White House official confirmation of a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing might qualify at best as a disc thrower being hit by a boomerang.

Realpolitik minds struggle to find a point in this gratuitous provocation, intervening less than two months before the start of the show, on February 4, 2022 at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.

According to White House reasoning, “the Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.”

To start with, no one among the Joe Biden handlers in the administration or any other officials were invited in the first place. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, remarked the US was “hyping a ‘diplomatic boycott’ without even being invited to the Games”.

Zhao also stressed the Games are not “a stage for political posturing”, and added the “blatant political provocation” constitutes “a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people.” He left hanging in the air the possibility of “resolute countermeasures”.

What that implies is the recent Xi-Biden virtual summit also melt in the air when it comes to promoting a more diplomatic entente cordiale. Predictably, Washington politicians who prevailed are the ones obsessed on demonizing Beijing using the perennial human rights pretext.

Top billing goes to Polish-American Democrat Senator Tom Malinowski from New Jersey, the vice-chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Malinowski is not strange to dodgy dealings. On October 21, 2021, the House Committee on Ethics issued a report confirming he had failed to properly disclose his stock trades since early 2020, as he

bought or sold as much as $1 million of stock in medical and tech companies that had a stake in the response to Covid-19. The trades were actually just one aspect of a stock buying and selling spree worth as much as $3.2 million.

All throughout 2021, with multiple ethics complaints and an ethics investigation piling up, Malinowski was forced to direct his financial advisor to cease with stock market shenanigans, and announced he set up a blind trust for his assets.

Yet Malinowski’s main line of business is actually China demonization.

In June, Malinowski, alongside Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) was the key articulator of a resolution  urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to move the 2022 Games “away from Beijing” unless the PRC government ended “ongoing crimes against the Uyghur people”. The Americans were supported by legislators in nine European nations, plus the European Parliament.

At the time, Malinowski said, “there’s no such thing as non-political games – dictatorships like China host the Olympics to validate their standing…even as they continue to commit crimes against their people.”

Malinowski is very close to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi – who is fervently pro-boycott. So this directive comes from the top of the Democrat leadership: the White House imprimatur was just a formality.

The “genocide” perpetrator

Considering the rolling color revolution in Hong Kong ended up as a total failure, human rights in Xinjiang remains a predictable pretext/target – on a par with the imminent “invasion” of Taiwan.

Arguably the best contextualized exposition of the real situation in Xinjiang is here. The “genocide” fallacy has been completely debunked by thorough independent analysis, as in here and here. The White House essentially regurgitates the “analysis” of a far-right religious nut first endorsed by Mike “we cheat, we lie, we steal” Pompeo. Talk about a continuity of government.

During the Cold War, the Olympics did become hostage to diplomatic boycotts. In 1980, the US under then president Jimmy Carter snubbed the Moscow Olympics along with other 64 nations in protest for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The USSR for its part, alongside the Iron Curtain, boycotted the 1984 games in Los Angeles.

What happens now falls under the seal of Cold War 2.0 and the demonization of China across the spectrum, mostly via Hybrid War tactics.

Xinjiang is a prime target not because of the Uyghurs, but because it is the strategic connector between western China and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) corridors across Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia all the way to Europe. BRI – which is the centerpiece Chinese foreign policy concept for the foreseeable future – is an absolute anathema in Washington.

The fact that the US has been staging countless, costly, devastating declinations of humanitarian imperialism in Muslim lands, directly and indirectly, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and beyond, but now, suddenly, is in tears about the fate of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, speaks for itself.

“Rights” groups barely disguised as CIA propaganda fronts have predictably been shrieking non-stop, urging the “international community” – an euphemism for NATOstan – to boycott the Beijing Olympics. These are irrelevant. Governments are a more serious matter.

Twenty nations refused to sign the Olympic Truce with China. This tradition, originating in Ancient Greece, makes sure that political upheaval does not interfere with sport. The – Western – justification for yet another provocation: we’re “sending a message” to Beijing.

In the UK, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg remarked recently that “no tickets have been booked” for the Olympics. The Foreign Office said earlier this week, “no decisions have yet been made” about sending officials to Beijing.

France will “coordinate” with other EU members, although the Elysée made a point that ‘when we are worried about human rights, we tell the Chinese…We adopted sanctions on Xinjiang last March.” That was a reference to the US, UK, EU, Canada and a few other allies sanctioning some Chinese officials for the glaring fake news the White House officially describes as “genocide”.

So any adherence to the White House directive this coming February will come essentially from NATOstan members and of course AUKUS. In contrast, across Asia and the Global South, no one could be bothered. South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Choi Yong-sam, for instance, stressed that South Korea supports the Olympics.

President Putin for his part accepted a personal invitation from Xi Jinping, and he will be at the inauguration.

Extremely strict Covid-19 control measures will be enforced during the Olympics, so for the organizers a smaller number of Western official guests flying in, in terms of cost, is actually a benefit.

So in the end what’s left of this fit of hysteria? Elon Musk may have nailed it this week at a CEO Council Summit, when he remarked that China’s economy could soon be two or three times the size of the US economy. That hurts. And there’s no way any boycott will solve it.

Iran Seeks Full, Verifiable Removal of All Sanctions through Vienna Talks – Top Negotiator

Nov 29, 2021

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s top negotiator in the forthcoming talks in the Austrian capital on the removal of illegal sanctions imposed on the country Ali Baqeri-Kani said Tehran’s main goal is to secure a full and verifiable removal of all sanctions through the Vienna negotiations.

Baqeri-Kani’s remarks were made in an article published by the Financial Times on Sunday in which he slammed Western countries, especially the United States, for using talks as a tool to restrict Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.

“Western countries, in particular the US, work tirelessly to portray ‘negotiations’ as merely a process to restrict Iran’s legitimate and peaceful nuclear program, which is enshrined in international treaties and watched by oversight organizations,” he said.

The Iranian negotiator then emphasized that the Islamic Republic, however, seeks to achieve two goals through engaging in Vienna talks.

“In this vein, we have two goals: the first is to gain a full, guaranteed and verifiable removal of the sanctions that have been imposed on the Iranian people. Without this, the process will continue indefinitely,” Baqeri-Kani said.

He then noted that Iran’s second goal is “to facilitate the legal rights of the Iranian nation to benefit from peaceful nuclear knowledge, especially the all-important enrichment technology for industrial purposes, according to the terms of the international Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT].”

Baqeri-Kani left Tehran for Vienna on Saturday to attend the seventh round of talks that are intended to bring the US back to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

A return to the JCPOA would mean Washington needs to remove its unlawful sanctions on Tehran, three years after the US left the 2015 accord and unleashed a “maximum pressure” campaign on the Islamic Republic.

The US withdrawal came while the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] had issued 15 consecutive reports certifying Iran’s full compliance with its nuclear obligations under the JCPOA.

The Islamic Republic’s unwavering position on the verifiable removal of US sanctions, observers say, stems from the fact that the US started to impose new rounds of sanctions on Iran merely a day after the JCPOA’s implementation date.

It also took the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] seven months to grant Airbus and Boeing partial permission to sell planes to Iran. Even then, Iran received only three out of 117 Airbus passenger aircraft it ordered and none from Boeing.

The significant noncompliance of the other parties, in particular the US, prompted Iran to invoke the “dispute resolution mechanism” several times both before and after the US withdrawal from the nuclear pact.

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Now that Lebanon Has Gas and Oil, It Is a Must to Protect Them from US Blackmail and “Israeli” Greed

Nov 20, 2021

Now that Lebanon Has Gas and Oil, It Is a Must to Protect Them from US Blackmail and “Israeli” Greed

By Mohammad Yossef

Beirut – Although our country is suffering from an unprecedented crisis on many levels; Lebanon has a huge potential to rid itself from its multifaceted dilemma.

Gas and petroleum are two precious commodities that not only could treat our dire situation and preserve it from collapse, but rather open new horizons and chances to put it on the track of stability and prosperity.

Studies conducted in Lebanese economic zone suggests the presence of immense quantities of oil and gas. Estimates indicate the presence of at least 100 trillion cubic feet of gas and 900 million barrels of oil. Lebanon has not started any exploration activities so far, because of the American pressure.

However, this Lebanese fortune that is abundantly present in our sea, adjacent to occupied Palestine has its obstacles and hurdles that stem from our enemy, “Israel” and its greedy appetite to steal our natural resources of every kind.

Washington has used every method possible to make Lebanon bow down to its pressure and surrender to its proposals; the US blackmail and dictations want simply to give the larger proportion of gas and oil present in the disputed maritime area to the “Israeli” entity. 

Lebanon is locked in a dispute with the apartheid entity over an area in the Mediterranean Sea spanning about 860 square kilometers [some 332 square miles], known as Zone No. 9, which is very rich with oil and gas, as already mentioned.

The American administration wants to ignore all the laws and regulations that govern disputed maritime issues and subjugate Lebanon to its view.

Not only that, Washington is preventing Lebanon from digging or exploring the areas to make accurate estimations about the quantities it has. No international company dares to break American embargo over this because it would be on US sanctions list.

“Israeli” enemy government has signed a contract with US giant company Halliburton to carry explorations and drilling in the disputed maritime area.

For its part, Lebanon’s position so far is firm and consistent, Lebanese President General Michel Aoun demanded the “Israeli” entity to halt exploration in the disputed offshore gas field on its southern border.

“Lebanon is within its rights to evolve its position according to its interest and as suitable under international law,” Aoun said.

He also “demanded international experts… draw the line according to international law,”

Hezbollah also warned the “Israeli” enemy from any attempt to steal Lebanon oil or gas and expressed readiness to deal with any violation properly.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stated in many occasions that the Resistance would not tolerate any “Israeli” drilling from the disputed maritime area before an agreement is concluded with the Lebanese government.

The discovery of gas and oil would change the whole situation in Lebanon and advance it forward to a better position, it would certainly help Lebanon achieve higher energy security and help improving the industrial, transportation and electricity sectors.

If properly exploited, the oil and gas discovery will have a very positive impact on the Lebanese public finances and on the horribly deteriorating economy as a whole. This will benefit not only public sectors like electricity and transportation and increase public revenues but will also help in reducing the cost of all local industrial goods and services and help the country to come out of its worst crisis ever.

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Hezbollah Denounces US Decision against MP Al-Sayyed: A Politically-Motivated Targeting of His Patriotism

October 31, 2021

Hezbollah Denounces US Decision against MP Al-Sayyed: A Politically-Motivated Targeting of His Patriotism

Translated by Staff, Hezbollah Media Relations

Hezbollah denounces the American decision against MP al-Sayyed saying it is a politically motivated targeting of his patriotism and decisive stances in the struggle with the enemy.

Hezbollah issued the following statement:

The American decision issued against His Excellency MP Major General Jamil al-Sayyed is unjust, dubious and condemned. It is a clear politically-motivated targeting of the persona of MP al-Sayyed, his patriotism and his clear and decisive stances on national issues, particularly in the conflict with the “Israeli” enemy, the defense of Lebanon’s sovereignty and dignity, and the project of building a real country.

The coherent and solid presentation that MP al-Sayyed presented at yesterday’s [Friday, October 29, 2021] press conference, the questions he asked, as well as the evidence and documents he demanded constitute a strong argument in the face of all those oppressors who offended him, and who and what he represents.

We, in Hezbollah, condemn and denounce this new American aggression. We see it as badge of honor worn by MP Jamil al-Sayyed, proving his firm presence at the forefront of the free fighters who defend the honor of this nation in the face of hegemony, humiliation and arrogance that the Great Satan exercises every day.

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