The Current Status of Economy in Pakistan

The Current Status of Economy in Pakistan

June 03, 2021

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

Official data released by the Government of Pakistan is encouraging very much. It shows an increase in foreign remittances, an increase in agri-produce, especially wheat, which is a staple food in Pakistan, and the GDP growth is projected at 3.9 percent, etc. All economic indicators seem satisfactory. If the data is accurate, we must congratulate the government and rank high achiever under COVID-19 era, whereas the global economy is in severe crisis.

However, public opinion is much different, and one can witness it when going to markets. The consumer products have a sharp rise in most commodities, especially the food and eatables prices have gone up. The items of daily use are also getting higher prices. Whereas the salaries are stagnant, there was no increase in wages since the PTI government came into power. Even the regular routine increments are halted. In the private sector, due to lockdowns, economic activities are also facing restrictions. There might be very few exceptions, but most people in Pakistan face low income or no increase in revenue. With limited and stagnant pay, meeting the sharp increase in inflation is not an easy task. People are tense and nervous.

The job market is almost halted; there are no new jobs in the Government sector, and the private sector is also not hiring because of limited business activities under COVID-19. However, the PTI government has made promises to create enormous new jobs but failed to meet its commitments. The creation of employment is directly related to GDP growth. With a population growth of 2 percent approximately, Pakistan can not afford new jobs with the meager GDP. However, Pakistani Universities are producing almost one and half million graduates every year, looking for jobs. The situation is rather vulnerable.

Internal and external debt is increasing, putting the nation in a much awkward situation. However, the exchange rate is stable for quite some time, which is appreciated.

Whatsoever is the official version, but the economic challenges are enormous multi-dimensional, including slower economic growth, rising unemployment, and poverty, massive fiscal deficit, growing public and external debts. However, these problems were inherited from previous few Governments like PP-Government from 2008-2013 and MPL-N Government from 2013-2018. But the current Government of PTI has not only failed to rectify but has aggregated to some extent.

PTI Government failed to improve the economic problems faced by the nation due to the incompetency of the economic team. The Finance Minister has been kept on changing on and off, which has damaged the political goodwill of PTI and may have lost public popularity already.

IMF has also played its role in worsening the situation. As a matter of fact, despite high claims by IMF, but failed all over the world to revive the economy globally. Most of the nation has suffered a bitter experience with IMF. Pakistan is no exception and believes that IMF has aggregated the problems instead of solving them.

Pakistan is a country blessed with abundant natural resources, mining and minerals are rich, and agriculture is one of our strengths. The population is around 220 million, with 70% of the population young under the age of 40. The huge, dynamic, diligent workforce is considered one of our strengths. A nuclear state, yet, so miserable economy, is beyond understanding. I believe it is mismanagement only; the real potential of Pakistan has not been exploited yet.

Pakistan has economists of international repute, trained by Nobel Laurents, like Dr. Ashfaq Hassan Khan. He has given a few recommendations to the Government of Pakistan recently published in the Business recorder:-

The IMF program had got suspended in Pakistan after the onslaught of Coronavirus in late February 2020. With the suspension of the IMF program came the suspension of hara-kiri attached with the program in raising electricity and gas prices, interest rate, and devaluation of the rupee. The interest rate was brought down from 13.25 percent to 7.0 percent in a few months; the exchange rate exhibited a modicum of stability and appreciated after the suspension of the IMF program; gas and electricity tariffs remained unchanged during the suspension. Such a suspension of the IMF program on account of Covid-19 brought tremendous positivity to Pakistan’s economy. It boosted the private sector’s confidence as they knew that utilities’ prices would remain unchanged, interest rates started declining. The government came forward to support businesses/industries and the poor segments of the country lavishly.

All these measures restored the confidence of the market and the private sector; the air of uncertainty was removed. The private sector moved forward, the credit off-take started rising, industrial activity was on the move, exports began gaining momentum, and the overall economy gained traction. All these were happening because of the suspension of the IMF program.

At the back of these developments, Pakistan has witnessed a surge in Covid-19 cases for the last two months. Business activities are being affected. The first thing that the government can do is to request the IMF for further suspension of the IMF program for a year and take this as an opportunity to revive the economy. Alternatively, Pakistan should renegotiate with the IMF and insist that there will be no more hike in the tariffs of electricity and gas, and the tax target for the FBR will be based on the ground realities of the economy. Pakistan should concentrate on wide-ranging reforms in the power sector (raising electricity prices is no reform; it is equivalent to maintain the status quo), tax system and tax administration reform, and reform in agriculture and industries. Reforms in the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) law in the name of giving more autonomy as proposed by the IMF is like creating a state within the state, and therefore, must not be accepted. Unfortunately, IMF has been used to coerce other nations, and Pakistan is one such victim.

Secondly, the government must hold the hands of businesses at all levels—small, medium, and large. It is not the time to increase the cost of doing business by raising utility prices, interest rates and devaluing the currency. Furthermore, the SBP must consider reducing the policy rate to 5 percent from the current level of 7.0 percent in two/three monetary policy meetings, that is, by December 2021. It is abundantly clear that by raising the discount rate, we cannot reduce inflation in Pakistan.

Thirdly, agriculture has remained neglected by successive governments for nearly 13 years. Pakistan used to produce cotton in the range of 13-14 million bales until 2014-15. The production of cotton has nosedived to 6-7 million bales now. What went wrong in cotton production? The government must find the answer and take necessary corrective measures during the next fiscal year (2021-22).

Fourthly, wheat production in Pakistan had stagnated at 25 million tons from 2010-11 until this year (according to the government, the country has witnessed a record production of 27.3 million tons this year). Still, its population has been growing each year. Resultantly, the per capita availability of wheat per annum has declined from 145 kg to 120kg in 2019-20. The country’s wheat production has failed to maintain the pace of its population growth rate. Pakistan is fast heading towards acquiring a permanent wheat importing country and accordingly creating a food security issue for itself. Pakistan has entered into the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in which agriculture is a priority area. Pakistan must learn to enhance wheat and cotton production from China under the CPEC.

Fifthly, the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), construction, tourism, and IT sectors have strong potential to revive the economy and create enormous job opportunities because all these sectors are highly labor-intensive with high employment elasticity. These sectors are severely credit-constrained. These sectors should be provided credit directly through banking channels or the well-reputed NGOs. The government, on its part, must improve its physical infrastructure, for which budgetary allocation must be ensured.

Sixthly, the livestock and dairy sector accounts for 60.5 percent of agriculture and contributes 11.7 percent to GDP. This sector is almost equal to the large-scale manufacturing sector. Pakistan produces nearly 62 million tons of milk in a year. More than 8 million rural population derive their livelihoods from this sector. It is a highly labor-intensive sector and has enormous potential for creating jobs. The road to poverty alleviation in the rural area passes through the livestock and dairy sector, but it has remained neglected in Pakistan. The government may involve the private sector in the development of this sector to produce milk and dairy products to meet growing domestic and foreign demand.

Seventhly, in the second phase of the CPEC, besides agriculture, industrialization through the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) is yet another priority area where progress is much desired. The government must use CPEC as a vehicle for reviving economic activity to achieve 6 to 7 percent growth in the next four to five years. Let us resolve that during the fiscal year 2021-22, at least one SEZ will become functional.

Eighthly, Karachi being the growth and revenue engine of Pakistan, will play a pivotal role in reviving economic activity in the country and sustaining 5-7 percent growth on a sustained basis. “Give me peace and stability in Karachi, and I will give you the revenue,” this is a historic quote of a former Chairman of the FBR to a former Prime Minister of Pakistan in the mid-1990s. Peace and stability in Karachi and improved infrastructure and cleanliness of the city will go a long way in sustaining higher economic growth. The political situation in Karachi must be handled with political foresight inclusiveness, equal opportunities, and local government empowerment.

Summing UP: To revive economic activity and to achieve a growth rate of 5-6 or even 7 percent in the next four to five years on a sustained basis, Pakistan needs to do the following: i) either suspend the IMF program for a year or renegotiate the cruelest program ever given to Pakistan; ii) no more hike in utility prices (gas and electricity) there is a need to reduce the price of electricity as Pakistan has excess capacity; iii) use both fiscal and monetary policy to revive economic activity; iv) reduce the discount rate or policy rate to 5 percent in the next 2/3 monetary policy meetings; v) primary emphasis be given to agriculture and seeking Chinese assistance under the second phase of the CPEC; vii) SMEs, livestock and dairy sector, construction, tourism, and IT sectors should form the priority areas along with agriculture; viii) undertake wide-ranging reforms in agriculture, industry, energy, taxation, and governance; and ix) peace and stability and better infrastructure in Karachi are vital for economic recovery.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

America’s Neoliberal Financialization Policy vs. China’s Industrial Socialism

America’s Neoliberal Financialization Policy vs. China’s Industrial Socialism

April 15, 2021

By Michael Hudson and posted with special permission

Nearly half a millennium ago Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince described three options for how a conquering power might treat states that it defeated in war but that “have been accustomed to live under their own laws and in freedom: … the first is to ruin them, the next is to reside there in person, the third is to permit them to live under their own laws, drawing a tribute, and establishing within it an oligarchy which will keep it friendly to you.”[1]

Machiavelli preferred the first option, citing Rome’s destruction of Carthage. That is what the United States did to Iraq and Libya after 2001. But in today’s New Cold War the mode of destruction is largely economic, via trade and financial sanctions such as the United States has imposed on China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and other designated adversaries. The idea is to deny them key inputs, above all in essential technology and information processing, raw materials, and access to bank and financial connections, such as U.S. threats to expel Russia from the SWIFT bank-clearing system.

The second option is to occupy rivals. This is done only partially by the troops in America’s 800 military bases abroad. But the usual, more efficient occupation is by U.S. corporate takeovers of their basic infrastructure, owning their most lucrative assets and remitting their revenue back to the imperial core.

President Trump said that he wanted to seize Iraq’s and Syria’s oil as reparations for the cost of destroying their society. His successor, Joe Biden, sought in 2021 to appoint Hillary Clinton’s loyalist Neera Tanden to head the government’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). She had urged that America should make Libya turn over its vast oil reserves as reparations for the cost of destroying its society. “We have a giant deficit. They have a lot of oil. Most Americans would choose not to engage in the world because of that deficit. If we want to continue to engage in the world, gestures like having oil rich countries partially pay us back doesn’t seem crazy to me.”[2]

U.S. strategists have preferred Machiavelli’s third option: To leave the defeated adversary nominally independent but to rule via client oligarchies. President Jimmy Carter’s national-security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski referred to them as “vassals,” in the classical medieval meaning of demanding loyalty to their American patrons, with a common interest in seeing the subject economy privatized, financialized, taxed and passed on to the United States for its patronage and support, based on a mutuality of interest against local democratic assertion of nationalistic self-reliance and keeping the economic surplus at home to promote domestic prosperity instead of being sent abroad.

That policy of privatization by a client oligarchy with its own source of wealth based on the U.S. orbit is what American neoliberal diplomacy accomplished in the former Soviet economies after 1991 to secure its Cold War victory over Soviet Communism. The way in which client oligarchies were created was a grabitization that utterly disrupted the economic interconnections integrating the economies. “To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires,” Brzezinski explained, “the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”[3]

After reducing Germany and Japan to vassalage after defeating them in World War II, U.S. diplomacy quickly reduced the Britain and its imperial sterling area to vassalage by 1946, followed in due course by the rest of Western Europe and its former colonies. The next step was to isolate Russia and China, while keeping “the barbarians from coming together.” If they were to join up, warned Mr. Brzezinski, “the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power.”[4]

By 2016, Brzezinski saw Pax Americana unravelling from its failure to achieve these aims. He acknowledged that the United States “is no longer the globally imperial power.”[5] That is what has motivated its increasing antagonism toward China and Russia, along with Iran and Venezuela.

TRANSITION: the problem was not Russia, whose Communist nomenklatura let their country be ruled by a Western-oriented kleptocracy, but China. The U.S.-China confrontation is not simply a national rivalry, but a conflict of economic and social systems. The reason why today’s world is being plunged into an economic and near-military Cold War 2.0 is to be found in the prospect of socialist control of what Western economies since classical antiquity have treated as privately owned rent-yielding assets: money and banking (along with the rules governing debt and foreclosure), land and natural resources, and infrastructure monopolies.

This contrast in whether money and credit, land and natural monopolies will be privatized and duly concentrated in the hands of a rentier oligarchy or used to promote general prosperity and growth has basically become one of finance capitalism and socialism. Yet in its broadest terms this conflict existed already 2500 years ago. in the contrast between Near Eastern kingship and the Greek and Roman oligarchies. These oligarchies, ostensibly democratic in superficial political form and sanctimonious ideology, fought against the concept of kingship. The source of that opposition was that royal power – or that of domestic “tyrants” – might sponsor what Greek and Roman democratic reformers were advocating: cancellation of debts to save populations from being reduced to debt bondage and dependency (and ultimately to serfdom), and redistribution of lands to prevent its ownership from becoming polarized and concentrated in the hands of creditors and-landlords.

From today’s U.S. vantage point, that polarization is the basic dynamic of today’s U.S.-sponsored neoliberalism. China and Russia are existential threats to the global expansion of financialized rentier wealth. Today’s Cold War 2.0 aims to deter China and potentially other counties from socializing their financial systems, land and natural resources, and keeping infrastructure utilities public to prevent their being monopolized in private hands to siphon off economic rents at the expense of productive investment in economic growth.

The United States hoped that China might be as gullible as the Soviet Union and adopt neoliberal policy permitting its wealth to be privatized and turned into rent-extracting privileges, to be sold off to Americans. “What the free world expected when it welcomed China into the free trade body [the World Trade Organization] in 2001,” explained Clyde V. Prestowitz Jr, trade advisor in the Reagan administration, was that, “from the time of Deng Xiaoping’s adoption of some market methods in 1979 and especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 … increased trade with and investment in China would inevitably lead to the marketization of its economy, the demise of its state-owned enterprises.”[6]

But instead of adopting market-based neoliberalism, Mr. Prestowitz complained, China’s government supported industrial investment and kept money and debt control in its own hands. This government control was “at odds with the liberal, rules-based global system” along the neoliberal lines that had been imposed on the former Soviet economies after 1991. “More fundamentally,” Prestowitz summed up:

China’s economy is incompatible with the main premises of the global economic system embodied today in the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and a long list of other free trade agreements. These pacts assume economies that are primarily market based with the role of the state circumscribed and micro-economic decisions largely left to private interests operating under a rule of law. This system never anticipated an economy like China’s in which state-owned enterprises account for one-third of production; the fusion of the civilian economy with the strategic-military economy is a government necessity; five year economic plans guide investment to targeted sectors; an eternally dominant political party names the CEOs of a third or more of major corporations and has established party cells in every significant company; the value of the currency is managed, corporate and personal data are minutely collected by the government to be used for economic and political control; and international trade is subject to being weaponized at any moment for strategic ends.

This is jaw-dropping hypocrisy – as if the U.S. civilian economy is not fused with its own military-industrial complex, and does not manage its currency or weaponize its international trade as a means of achieving strategic ends. It is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, a fantasy depicting American industry as being independent of government. In fact, Prestowitz urged that “Biden should invoke the Defense Production Act to direct increased U.S.-based production of critical goods such as medicines, semiconductors, and solar panels.”

While U.S. trade strategists juxtapose American “democracy” and the Free World to Chinese autocracy, the major conflict between the United States and China has been the role of government support for industry. American industry grew strong in the 19th century by government support, just as China is now providing. That was the doctrine of industrial capitalism, after all. But as the U.S. economy has become financialized, it has de-industrialized. China has shown itself to be aware of the risks in financialization, and has taken measures to attempt to contain it. That has helped it achieve what used to be the U.S. ideal of providing low-priced basic infrastructure services.

Here is the U.S. policy dilemma: Its government is supporting industrial rivalry with China, but also supports financialization and privatization of the domestic economy – the very policy that it has used to control “vassal” countries and extract their economic surplus by rent-seeking.

Why U.S. finance capitalism treats China’s socialist economy as an existential treat

Financialized industrial capital wants a strong state to serve itself, but not to serve labor, consumers, the environment or long-term social progress at the cost of eroding profits and rents.

U.S. attempts to globalize this neoliberal policy are driving China to resist Western financialization. Its success provides other countries with an object lesson of why to avoid financialization and rent-seeking that adds to the economy’s overhead and hence its cost of living and doing business.

China also is providing an object lesson in how to protect its economy and that of its allies from foreign sanctions and related destabilization. Its most basic response has been to prevent an independent domestic or foreign-backed oligarchy from emerging. That has been one first and foremost by maintaining government control of finance and credit, property and land tenure policy in government hands with a long-term plan in mind.

Looking back over the course of history, this retention is how Bronze Age Near Eastern rulers prevented an oligarchy from emerging to threaten Near Eastern palatial economies. It is a tradition that persisted down through Byzantine times, taxing large aggregations of wealth to prevent a rivalry with the palace and its protection of a broad prosperity and distribution of self-support land.

China also is protecting its economy from U.S.-backed trade and financial sanctions and economic disruption by aiming at self-sufficiency in essentials. That involves technological independence and ability to provide enough food and energy resources to support an economy that can function in isolation from the unipolar U.S. bloc. It also involves decoupling from the U.S. dollar and from banking systems linked to it, and hence from U.S. ability to impose financial sanctions. Associated with this aim is creation of a domestic computerized alternative to the SWIFT bank-clearing system.

The dollar still accounts for 80 percent of all global transactions, but less than half of today’s Sino-Russian trade, and the proportion is declining, especially as Russian firms avoid dollarized payments or accounts from being seized by U.S. sanctions.

These protective moves limit the U.S. threat to Machiavelli’s first option: destroy the world if it does not submit to U.S.-sponsored financialized rent extraction. But as Vladimir Putin has framed matters: “Who would want to live in a world without Russia?”

Kin Chi: My quick comment: The USA surely would want to destroy its rival, taking the first option. But it knows it is impossible to succeed, even in the case of Russia, and not to mention China. Thus it hopes for the rival to disintegrate from within, or for substantial interest blocs from within to be complicit with US interests. Hence we need to assess how Russia and China are reacting to this challenge, given that there are multiple contesting forces within each country. And that is also why we have been very concerned with pro-US neo-liberal political economists and policy-makers in these two countries.

I agree with you that China has put much investment into infrastructure and industry. However, we have been concerned with China’s financialization moves. Hence your statement that “China has avoided financialization” may not be the actual case, as various moves have been taken in financialization, but we can say that China seems to be aware of the risks in financialization, and has taken measures to attempt to contain it, causing discontent from US financial interests which would want to see China going further down the road.

It is interesting that yesterday, the White House expressed concern over the China-Iraq use of digital RMB to settle oil accounts as this would be beyond US monitoring of transactions.

  1. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1532), Chapter 5: “Concerning the way to govern cities or principalities which lived under their own laws before they were annexed.” 
  2. Neera Tanden, “Should Libya pay us back?” memo to Faiz Shakir, Peter Juul, Benjamin Armbruster and NSIP Core, October 21, 2011. Mr. Shakir, to his credit, wrote back: “If we think we can make money off an incursion, we’ll do it? That’s a serious policy/messaging/moral problem for our foreign policy I think.” As president of the Center for American Progress, Tanden backed a 2010 proposal to cut Social Security benefits, reflecting the long-term Obama-Clinton objective of fiscal austerity at home as well as abroad. 
  3. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives (New York: 1997), p. 40. See the discussion by Pepe Escobar, “For Leviathan, It’s So Cold in Alaska,” Unz.com, March 18, 2021. 
  4. Brzezinski, ibid., p. 55. 
  5. Brzezinski, “Towards a Global Realignment,” The American Interest (April 17, 2016) For a discussion see Mike Whitney, “The Broken Checkboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire,” Counterpunch, August 25, 2016. 
  6. Clyde Prestowitz, “Blow Up the Global Trading System, Washington Monthly, March 24, 2021.. 

From the Earth to the Moon: Biden’s China Policy Doomed from the Start

March 17, 2021

US President Biden and Vice President Harris Meet Virtually with their Counterparts in the ‘Quad’. (Photo: Video Grab)

By Ramzy Baroud

A much anticipated American foreign policy move under the Biden Administration on how to counter China’s unhindered economic growth and political ambitions came in the form of a virtual summit on March 12, linking, aside from the United States, India, Australia and Japan.

Although the so-called ‘Quad’ revealed nothing new in their joint statement, the leaders of these four countries spoke about the ‘historic’ meeting, described by ‘The Diplomat’ website as “a significant milestone in the evolution of the grouping”.

Actually, the joint statement has little substance and certainly nothing new by way of a blueprint on how to reverse – or even slow down – Beijing’s geopolitical successes, growing military confidence and increasing presence in or around strategic global waterways.

For years, the ‘Quad’ has been busy formulating a unified China strategy but it has failed to devise anything of practical significance. ‘Historic’ meetings aside, China is the world’s only major economy that is predicted to yield significant economic growth this year – and imminently. International Monetary Fund’s projections show that the Chinese economy is expected to expand by 8.1 percent in 2021 while, on the other hand, according to data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US’ GDP has declined by around 3.5 percent in 2020.

The ‘Quad’ – which stands for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – began in 2007, and was revived in 2017, with the obvious aim of repulsing China’s advancement in all fields. Like most American alliances, the ‘Quad’ is the political manifestation of a military alliance, namely the Malabar Naval Exercises. The latter started in 1992 and soon expanded to include all four countries.

Since Washington’s ‘pivot to Asia’, i.e., the reversal of established US foreign policy that was predicated on placing greater focus on the Middle East, there is little evidence that Washington’s confrontational policies have weakened Beijing’s presence, trade or diplomacy throughout the continent. Aside from close encounters between the American and Chinese navies in the South China Sea, there is very little else to report.

While much media coverage has focused on the US’ pivot to Asia, little has been said about China’s pivot to the Middle East, which has been far more successful as an economic and political endeavor than the American geostrategic shift.

The US’ seismic change in its foreign policy priorities stemmed from its failure to translate the Iraq war and invasion of 2003 into a decipherable geo-economic success as a result of seizing control of Iraq’s oil largesse – the world’s second-largest proven oil reserves. The US strategy proved to be a complete blunder.

In an article published in the Financial Times in September 2020, Jamil Anderlini raises a fascinating point. “If oil and influence were the prizes, then it seems China, not America, has ultimately won the Iraq war and its aftermath – without ever firing a shot,” he wrote.

Not only is China now Iraq’s biggest trading partner, Beijing’s massive economic and political influence in the Middle East is a triumph. China is now, according to the Financial Times, the Middle East’s biggest foreign investor and a strategic partnership with all Gulf States – save Bahrain. Compare this with Washington’s confused foreign policy agenda in the region, its unprecedented indecisiveness, absence of a definable political doctrine and the systematic breakdown of its regional alliances.

This paradigm becomes clearer and more convincing when understood on a global scale. By the end of 2019, China became the world’s leader in terms of diplomacy, as it then boasted 276 diplomatic posts, many of which are consulates. Unlike embassies, consulates play a more significant role in terms of trade and economic exchanges. According to 2019 figures which were published in ‘Foreign Affairs’ magazine, China has 96 consulates compared with the US’ 88. Till 2012, Beijing lagged significantly behind Washington’s diplomatic representation, precisely by 23 posts.

Wherever China is diplomatically present, economic development follows. Unlike the US’ disjointed global strategy, China’s global ambitions are articulated through a massive network, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, estimated at trillions of dollars. When completed, BRI is set to unify more than sixty countries around Chinese-led economic strategies and trade routes. For this to materialize, China quickly moved to establish closer physical proximity to the world’s most strategic waterways, heavily investing in some and, as in the case of Bab al-Mandab Strait, establishing its first-ever overseas military base in Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa.

At a time when the US economy is shrinking and its European allies are politically fractured, it is difficult to imagine that any American plan to counter China’s influence, whether in the Middle East, Asia or anywhere else, will have much success.

The biggest hindrance to Washington’s China strategy is that there can never be an outcome in which the US achieves a clear and precise victory. Economically, China is now driving global growth, thus balancing out the US-international crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Hurting China economically would weaken the US as well as the global markets.

The same is true politically and strategically. In the case of the Middle East, the pivot to Asia has backfired on multiple fronts. On the one hand, it registered no palpable success in Asia while, on the other, it created a massive vacuum for China to refocus its own strategy in the Middle East.

Some wrongly argue that China’s entire political strategy is predicated on its desire to merely ‘do business’. While economic dominance is historically the main drive of all superpowers, Beijing’s quest for global supremacy is hardly confined to finance. On many fronts, China has either already taken the lead or is approaching there. For example, on March 9, China and Russia signed an agreement to construct the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). Considering Russia’s long legacy in space exploration and China’s recent achievements in the field – including the first-ever spacecraft landing on the South Pole-Aitken Basin area of the moon – both countries are set to take the lead in the resurrected space race.

Certainly, the US-led ‘Quad’ meeting was neither historic nor a game-changer, as all indicators attest that China’s global leadership will continue unhindered, a consequential event that is already reordering the world’s geopolitical paradigms which have been in place for over a century.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The formation of a government… Between the U.S. veto and the domestic complications تشكيل الحكومة…بين الفيتو الأميركي والعقد المحلية

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

The formation of a government… Between the U.S. veto and the domestic complications

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Hassan Hardan

The correct description of the continuing crisis of the formation of the Lebanese government is that we are still in the process of cutting time, waiting to overcome two fundamental obstacles, external and internal:

First, the foreign obstacle comes first, and is embodied in the U.S. veto, which was put by Washington in the era of former President Donald Trump, after pushing the consensus government headed by President Hariri to resign following the outbreak of protests Of October 17, 2019, and this U.S. veto, requires the lifting of the financial blockade imposed by Washington on Lebanon, by forming a government of independent specialists, a recipe aimed at excluding Hezbollah and its allies , and bringing in ministers who are American, ready to implement U.S. conditions and dictates, to borrow from the International Monetary Fund, or to agree on the sea and land borders between Lebanon and occupied Palestine in order to achieve Zionist ambitions. What made the U.S. veto become an obstacle to the formation of the government is the March 14 group’s acquiescence to U.S. requests and its work with the NGOs groups to try to impose a fait accompli government that meets U.S. conditions.

In this context, it is possible to put what President Saad Hariri said yesterday about his call for a government that satisfies some Arab countries and the West … that is, he calls for a government formation that takes into account the requests of Washington and Riyadh in the first place, which makes it impossible to achieve this in light of the local balance of power that prevented success The American coup plan …

If the new U.S. administration under President Joe Biden is convinced of the futility of this policy, that it has not achieved its desired goals, and that its continuation has become futile… Then it can only be said that the external obstacle has eased … and Paris shall activate its initiative with some modifications.

Secondly, the internal obstacle, which comes in second place, and it practically has two dimensions: the first, linked to the external obstacle, i.e. the U.S. veto, it disappears once the aforementioned veto on the participation of Hezbollah and its allies in the government.

The second dimension is local, and is related to the conflict between the Lebanese parties, over representation ratios and the distribution of portfolios, especially the sovereign and the service ones.

This knot was usually overcome through rounding the corners to satisfy all parties, that would end with the birth of the government.

What is happening today is that we are still in a phase of ambiguity regarding whether the Biden administration decided to lift the US veto or not, and that is why we are witnessing the continuation of the local knot.

From here, the practical transition to find solutions to the local knot awaits the overcoming of the American knot .. In the meantime, political conflict and accusations about who bears responsibility for obstructing forming the government will remain the master of the situation ..

However, the responsibility here lies primarily with the president in charge of implementing the Constitution and respecting the sizes of the parliamentary blocs. Because the formation of governments, after the Taif Agreement, was closely linked to the agreement between the President of the Republic and the President-designate on the proposed government formation on the one hand, and respect for for the real representation of the parliamentary blocs on the other.

Therefore, it can be said that President Hariri’s insistence on forming an independent government that satisfies the outside falls within one of two possibilities:

The first possibility is the continued US-Saudi pressure to try to exploit the aggravating economic and social suffering resulting from tightening the imposed blockade and linking the provision of any foreign aid to the formation of a government that responds to American conditions.

The second possibility, Prime Minister Hariri perceived a sign of a change in the American position, and thus his endeavor at the last minute to try to improve his conditions by forming a government in which he obtains a balanced share that exceeds the size of his representative representation, because this government will have financial support from abroad, which will achieve a breakthrough that alleviates the severity of the worsening crisis. On the one hand, it will supervise the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections on the other hand …

تشكيل الحكومة…بين الفيتو الأميركي والعقد المحلية

حسن حردان

التوصيف الصحيح لاستمرار أزمة تشكيل الحكومة اللبنانية، هو أننا لا نزال في مرحلة تقطيع الوقت بانتظار تذليل عقبتين أساسيتين، خارجية، وداخلية:

أولاً، العقبة الخارجية، تأتي في المرتبة الأولى، وتتجسّد بالفيتو الأميركي، الذي وضعته واشنطن في مرحلة حكم الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، على اثر دفع حكومة التوافق برئاسة الرئيس الحريري إلى الاستقالة عقب اندلاع احتجاجات 17 تشرين الأوّل عام 2019، وهذا الفيتو الأميركي، يشترط رفع الحصار المالي الذي فرضته واشنطن على لبنان، بتشكيل حكومة اختصاصيين مستقلين، وهي وصفة هدفت إلى إقصاء حزب الله وحلفائه عن السلطة التنفيذية، والإتيان بوزراء هواهم أميركي، ومستعدين لتنفيذ الشروط والإملاءات الأميركية، انْ لناحية الاقتراض من صندوق النقد الدولي، أو لناحية الاتفاق على تحديد الحدود البحرية والبرية بين لبنان وفلسطين المحتلة بما يحقق الأطماع الصهيونية.. وما جعل الفيتو الأميركي يتحوّل إلى عقبة أمام تشكيل الحكومة، هو رضوخ فريق 14 آذار للطلبات الأميركية وعمله مع مجموعات الأنجيؤز على محاولة فرض حكومة أمر واقع تلبّي الشروط الأميركية.. وفي هذا السياق يمكن وضع ما قاله بالأمس الرئيس سعد الحريري حول دعوته لحكومة ترضي بعض الدول العربية، والغرب… أيّ أنه يدعو الى تشكيلة حكومية تأخذ بالاعتبار طلبات واشنطن والرياض بالدرجة الأولى، ما يجعل من المستحيل تحقيق ذلك في ظلّ موازين القوى المحلية التي حالت دون نجاح خطة الانقلاب الأميركية…

إذا اقتنعت الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة برئاسة الرئيس جو بايدن بعقم هذه السياسة، وأنها لم تؤدّ إلى تحقيق الأهداف المرجوة منها، وان استمرارها أصبح غير مجدي… عندها يمكن فقط القول إنّ العقبة الخارجية قد ذلّلت من أمام تشكيل الحكومة بشروط لبنانية داخلية.. وسنجد باريس نشطت على خط تفعيل مبادرتها مع بعض التعديلات.

ثانياً، العقبة الداخلية، التي تأتي في المرتبة الثانية، وهي عملياً لها بعدان: بعد أول، مرتبط بالعقبة الخارجية، ايّ الفيتو الأميركي، تزول بمجرد رفع الفيتو المذكور على مشاركة حزب الله وحلفائه في السلطة التنفيذية..

وبعد ثاني، محلي، وله علاقة بالتجاذب بين الأطراف اللبنانية، حول نسب التمثيل وتوزيع الحقائب وخصوصاً السيادية والخدماتية منها..

هذه العقدة عادة ما كان يجري تذليلها من خلال عملية تدوير للزوايا ترضي جميع الأطراف، وتنتهي بإعلان الاتفاق وولادة الحكومة..

ما يحصل اليوم هو أننا لا زلنا في مرحلة عدم الوضوح لناحية ما إذا كانت إدارة بايدن قرّرت رفع الفيتو الأميركي أما لا، ولهذا نشهد استمرار العقدة المحلية.

من هنا فإنّ الانتقال العملي لإيجاد الحلول للعقدة المحلية، ينتظر تذليل العقدة الأميركية.. وفي هذه الاثناء فإنّ التجاذب السياسي وتقاذف الاتهامات حول من يتحمّل مسؤولية إعاقة الاتفاق على تأليف الحكومة سيبقى سيد الموقف… على أنّ المسؤولية هنا تقع بالدرجة الأولى على الرئيس المكلف المعني الأول بتطبيق الدستور واحترام أحجام الكتل النيابية.. لأنّ تشكيل الحكومات، بعد اتفاق الطائف، ارتبط ارتباطاً وثيقاً بالاتفاق بين رئيس الجمهورية والرئيس المكلف على التشكيلة الحكومية المقترحة من جهة، واحترام التمثيل الحقيقي للكتل النيابية من جهة أخرى..

لذلك يمكن القول، انّ إصرار الرئيس الحريري على تشكيل حكومة مستقلين ترضي الخارج، يندرج في إطار واحد من احتمالين:

الاحتمال الأول، استمرار الضغط الأميركي السعودي لمحاولة استغلال المعاناة الاقتصادية والاجتماعية المتفاقمة، والناتجة عن تشديد الحصار المفروض، وربط تقديم ايّ مساعدات خارجية، بتأليف حكومة تستجيب للشروط الأميركية..

الاحتمال الثاني، تلمّس الرئيس الحريري، إشارة بتبدّل الموقف الأميركي، وبالتالي سعيه في اللحظة الأخيرة إلى محاولة تحسين شروطه بتشكيل حكومة يحصل فيها على حصة وازنة تفوق حجم تمثيله النيابي، لكون هذه الحكومة ستحظى بدعم مالي من الخارج، ما يحقق انفراجاً يخفف من حدة الأزمة المتفاقمة من ناحية، وستتولى الإشراف على الانتخابات النيابية والرئاسية المقبلة من ناحية ثانية…

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

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

February 02, 2021

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

So the Davos Agenda has come and gone.

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

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

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

And yes, they accept Visa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regime-change that commie!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Asian center of gravity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US economic decline and global instability

US economic decline and global instability

January 19, 2021

by Phillyguy for The Saker Blog

Summary

The US emerged from WWII as the world’s preeminent economic and military power. Seven decades later, American power is in decline, a direct consequence of decades of neoliberal economic policies, spending large amounts of public money on the military and attainment of economic/military parity by Russia and China. These policies have eroded US economic strength and are undermining the role of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, key pillars of US global power. In this essay, we highlight how this situation evolved and its implications for US foreign policy and international relations.

Foundations of American Global Hegemony

The US emerged from WWII as the world’s leading military and economic power. This power was further solidified at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944, which came to be known as the ‘Bretton Woods Agreement’. This agreement: 1) pegged the value of member country’s currencies to the US dollar, which was pegged to the price of gold, and 2) created the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, later known as the World Bank. The purported goals of the Bretton Woods system were to ‘stabilize currencies and promote international economic growth’. This conference also recognized the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. 12

International economic relations started to change in the mid-1970s as US corporate profits began to stagnate/decline, a direct consequence of spending lots of taxpayer money on wars in Korea and Vietnam and increased competition from rebuilt economies in Europe, primarily Germany (Marshall Plan) and Asia- Japan, South Korea (Korean and Vietnam wars) and more recently China. US policy makers responded to these economic challenges in several ways. 1) Recognizing that the government had insufficient gold reserves to cover all of the dollars in circulation, in 1971 President Richard Nixon was forced to suspend convertibility of the dollar into gold, effectively devaluing the US dollar and making it a fiat currency. 3 2) In the early 1980s, US policy makers began instituting neoliberal economic policies. Neoliberalism can be broadly defined as policies promoting free-market capitalism, deregulation, and a reduction in government spending and was widely promoted in the US by President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and in the UK by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1975-1990). 4 These policies included multiple tax cuts for the wealthy, financial deregulation, attacks on labor and poor, job outsourcing and spending $ trillions of taxpayer money on the military. 5 A short description of these policies and their impact on US society follows.

Tax Cuts

Beginning with the Reagan Administration, a number of tax cuts were enacted which reduced and/or eliminated top tax rates, corporate taxes and inheritance taxes (aka ‘death tax’; see Table 1). It should be noted that to market this legislation and ‘sell’ it to a generally uninformed American public, these bills frequently contain words or phrases in their titles which convey a positive and progressive message, such as ‘Economic Recovery’, ‘Tax Reform’, ‘Economic Growth and Tax Relief’, ‘Jobs and Growth’ and ‘Jobs Act’. After all, who is against ‘Economic Recovery’ and ‘Growth’ or a ‘Jobs Act’? However, to quote Phaedrus (Greek; circa 444 – 393 BC) ‘things are not always what they seem’. Each of these pieces of legislation was the result of massive lobbying campaigns by large financial interests- banks and corporations, with the goal of rolling back ‘New Deal’ tax and economic legislation enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the depths of the Great Depression (1933-1939) 67 and ‘open up’ the economy to unregulated and risky financial schemes, which under the right circumstances can yield substantial profits, but when things do not proceed as planned, can lead to large losses, as observed during the 2008 financial collapse. An analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) concluded that between 2001-2018, 65% of the benefit from these tax cuts went to the wealthiest (top 20%) households, while federal tax revenues declined $5.1 Trillion and federal deficits grew $5.9 Trillion. 8 As a result of the COVID19 pandemic, federal deficits are now hemorrhaging.

Attacks on Labor and Poor

In 1981, members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike. President Reagan declared the strike a threat to ‘national safety’ and ordered all workers back to work, under the Taft-Hartley Act (1947). Of the circa 13,000 striking air traffic controllers, only 1,300 returned to work; Reagan fired the remaining 11,345 air traffic controllers who were still out. 9 The decline in labor solidarity was readily apparent as there was little support for striking PATCO workers from other unions. As a result, this began a frontal assault on union workers and labor.

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton vowed to ‘end welfare as we have come to know it’ 10 and in 1996, signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, creating the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (aka TANF) program 11, which changed the financing and benefit structure of cash assistance to poor people, Predictably, these changes did not ‘end welfare’ but increased poverty. Not surprisingly, Conservatives in Congress want to use the TANF model to ‘reform’ other federal programs such as Medicaid.

Job Outsourcing

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), enacted Jan, 1994, created a ‘free trade’ agreement between Canada, Mexico, and US. While not fully appreciated at the time, this trade agreement would have a major impact on US industrial policy and jobs. NAFTA enabled large American corporations such as auto makers- Ford, General Motors, etc., to build manufacturing plants in Mexico taking advantage of lower wage rates and import the finished products back into the country duty free. The savings in labor costs is significant- the 2020 manufacturing wage in the US- $23/hr 12 vs $2.50/hr in Mexico 13 (90% lower) and not surprisingly, decreased labor costs boost corporate profits. On the negative side, NAFTA has: 1) led to the loss 4.5 million manufacturing jobs, with many of these displaced workers were forced to take lower paying jobs, 2) reduced growth in the export of manufactured products and services, 3) increased trade deficits with Canada and Mexico 14.

Job outsourcing has acquired the acronym ‘Globalization’ implying that it is a natural form of economic evolution, enabling large corporations to make their operations more cost-effective and efficient. Not surprisingly, the reality is somewhat different. Since passage of NAFTA, large corporations from the US and other countries have moved their manufacturing to Mexico, China, India, and other low-wage platforms to reduce labor costs, take advantage of lax environmental regulation and more favorable tax policies which increase corporate profits. It should be stressed that these polices have been voluntarily enacted by large financial interests in the US and other countries based on economic decisions and the relentless drive of capitalism to maximize corporate profits. During his 2016 ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign, presidential candidate Donald Trump repeatedly stated that China has ‘stolen’ American jobs and been involved in massive ‘theft’ of intellectual property 15 . Indeed, China has aggressively pursued economic development and has clearly taken advantage of technology transfer by multinational corporations 16. However, China is certainly not unique as these practices are frequently used by other developing countries. For example, during the Industrial Revolution (circa 1760-1840), the developing US manufacturing base relied largely on knowledge and technologies that had been developed in Europe, primarily the UK. No doubt, some of this technology was acquired by unscrupulous methods. Thus, while Trump was correct in pointing out that many American jobs had indeed moved to China, he has repeatedly failed to acknowledge that these jobs were deliberately moved by American corporations because it is more profitable. Trump’s allegations also beg the obvious question, if large US corporations and their functionaries in government were concerned about technology transfer to China, they should not have moved their production and associated ‘sensitive’ technology out of the US in the first place. Following his electoral victory in 2016, Trump attempted to force corporations to repatriate outsourced jobs. While some US-based firms left China, little of this production was moved back to the US; the vast majority were relocated to Vietnam, Thailand, India, Mexico and other low-wage platforms 17. A fundamental axiom of Capitalism is that business enterprises always seek the highest rate of return on their capital investments. Further, US CEO compensation is typically tied to stock price. Given this reality, large US corporations have curtailed domestic business spending (i.e., investing in new plants and equipment) and instead have allocated large amounts of money for stock buybacks. The reason for this behavior is clear- investments in new plants and equipment have payback periods ranging from years-decades, while spending money on share buybacks and stock futures results in near instantaneous increase of equity prices and higher financial compensation for corporate management. No one forced the CEOs of Apple, Nike, Levis, GM, etc. to move their RD/production facilities to China or other countries. Rather, this was done deliberately to maximize corporate profits. Unfortunately, the proverbial ‘chickens are coming home to roost’. The US is lagging behind China in 5G technology because corporate CEOs have been more interested in boosting stock price and their financial compensation, rather than investing in new plants and equipment to compete with China in this technology.

Financial Deregulation

The Glass-Steagall Act was part of the Banking Act of 1933, and established a barrier or ‘firewall’ between commercial banks, which accept deposits from working people and issue loans and investment banks that sell investment products, such as stocks and bonds. 7 Not surprisingly the financial industry lobbied heavily to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act; in 1999, this lobbying paid off as Bill Clinton enacted the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA; aka the Financial Services Modernization Act), which repealed the depression era Glass-Steagall Act thus loosening regulations on banking. Prior to leaving office, Clinton also signed The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA) into law, which exempted over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives from regulation.

A derivative is defined as a financial security whose value is based or ‘derived’ from an underlying asset- bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates, stocks and market indexes. 18 Not surprisingly, derivatives can potentially yield a large financial reward to savvy investors. On the down side, derivatives carry significant ‘market risk’ and lead to financial losses, which can rapidly accelerate during periods of collapsing equity prices. Warren Buffett has described the $ multi-quadrillion derivatives market as “financial weapons of mass destruction. 19 As Pepe Escobar has pointed out, ‘If Tehran were totally cornered by Washington, with no way out, the de facto nuclear option of shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would instantly cut off 25 percent of the global oil supply. Oil prices could rise to over $500 a barrel or more even $1000 a barrel. The 2.5 quadrillion of derivatives would start a chain reaction of destruction.’ 20

Financial deregulation enacted during the Clinton Administration (see Table 1) have been considered a major cause of the 2007-2008 GFC. 21 As pointed out by Pam Martins-

‘The Glass-Steagall Act had kept the U.S. financial system safe for 66 years. It took just nine years after its repeal by Clinton for Wall Street to enrich its own pockets to the tune of billions of dollars, blow up the U.S. economy, and then collect an astounding and secret $29 trillion in below-market-rate loans from the Federal Reserve to bail itself out.’ 22

Unfortunately, none of the structural economic problems giving rise to the 2008 crisis were resolved and as we are now seeing, have returned with a vengeance from the COVID19 pandemic. As a result, American Capitalism confronts the deepest crisis since the Great Depression, plagued by excess capacity and slack demand, high unemployment, with millions of families facing eviction from their homes, food insecurity, loss of medical insurance and financial ruin. Debt levels have exploded- projected US government debt for 2020- $3.1 Trillion (CBO estimate), while total debt levels are projected to reach $80 trillion, up from $71 trillion at the end of last year. 23 A further indication of the severe structural economic problems confronting American capitalism is that the financial industry has been unable to recover from the Global Financial crisis of 2008 and is still dependent on taxpayer support to function. Indeed, since April, the FED has pumped circa $ 7 Trillion of taxpayer-backed funds to Wall St for share buybacks and to purchase toxic corporate debt and mortgage-backed securities. 24 Without this support, many corporations and banks will collapse. 25

Enduring Economic Power

Despite continuing economic decline, the US still wields considerable global economic power, which stems from several factors.

1) Dollar- The US dollar is the world’s reserve currency, and as of 2019, comprises 60% of central bank foreign exchange reserves; circa 90% of forex trading involves the U.S. dollar. 2627 The dollar (i.e., ‘Petrodollar’) is used for purchase of crude oil. 28

2) FED– The US Federal Reserve System was set up following the 1910 secret meeting of executives from large banks- J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller, and Kuhn, Loeb & Co. for ten days on Jekyll Island, Georgia, which was followed by Congress passing the Federal Reserve Act (Dec, 1913), which established the Federal Reserve System as the central bank of the United States. The Chairman, currently Jerome Powell, and FED Governors are appointed by the US President. Thus, the ‘FED’ was set up by private bankers to support the interests of large banks and has effectively no public control over its actions. 29 Of the 12 Reserve banks in the Federal Reserve System, the New York FED (NY FED) wields the most power. 30 The NY FED directs monetary policy through open market operations, emergency lending facilities, quantitative easing, and foreign exchange transactions. It also stores gold on behalf of the U.S. and foreign governments, other nation’s central banks, and international organizations. FED policies, such as setting interest rates and money supply are closely followed by the European Central Bank (ECB), Bank of England, Bank of Japan (BOJ) and other central banks.

3) SWIFT– The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) system is used to conduct financial transactions between 11,000 SWIFT member institutions and is the largest financial network in the world. 31 SWIFT is described as a ‘cooperative society’ under Belgian law, owned by its member financial institutions and headquartered in La Hulpe, Belgium. Due to its dominant global economic position, the US has been able to exert a strong influence on SWIFT policies, such as enforcing unilateral US economic sanctions (effectively a form of financial warfare) on the Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and other countries deemed an obstacle to US global hegemony. 32

WWII and subsequent events shaping US foreign policy

Nuclear Attacks on Japan

The twentieth century was marked by turbulence, economic depression, war and economic prosperity. Eclipsing all prior conflicts, WWII was the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in circa 75 million fatalities, with approximately twice as many civilian vs military casualties. During the war, the Soviet Union, much of Europe and Japan experienced high casualties and physical destruction. At the end of the war, the US dropped ‘Little Boy’ an enriched uranium gun-type fission device on Hiroshima, Japan on Aug 6, 1945, followed 3 days later, with ‘Fat Man’, a plutonium implosion-type nuclear weapon dropped on Nagasaki, resulting in circa 250,000 casualties. 33

While much has been written about the decision by the US to attack Japan, when the outcome of the war was all but certain, several things stand out.

1) The Soviet Union suffered the most physical destruction and casualties in WWII, a minimum of 25 million. In comparison, the US experienced circa 400,000 casualties.

2) During the war, the Soviet Union was an ally of the US/allied forces. As the war began winding down, this relationship rapidly changed, as the ruling elite, led by President Harry Truman were positioning the US as the world’s leading military power and viewed the USSR as a threat to American global hegemony. Thus, by dropping atomic bombs on Japan, the US was: i) sending an unmistakable message to the global community of US military might, and ii) also sending a warning to Stalin and the Soviet Union to not interfere with US global policies.

3) As pointed out by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Center for Research on Globalization, as early as 1945 “the Pentagon had envisaged blowing up the Soviet Union with a coordinated nuclear attack directed against major urban areas. The Pentagon estimated that a total of 204 atomic bombs would be required to Wipe the Soviet Union off the Map”. 34

Iron Curtain & Truman Doctrine

On March 5, 1946 former British PM Winston Churchill delivered a speech at Westminster College, Fulton, MO, dubbed the ‘Iron Curtain speech’, stating

‘From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an ‘iron curtain’ has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.’ 35 In his speech, Churchill stressed the need for the US and UK to work together, acting as ‘guardians of peace and stability’ against the menace of Soviet communism. As a representative of the [former] British Empire, Churchill was signaling that the UK would willingly serve as a junior partner to American imperialism.

In a speech to Congress March 12, 1947, President Harry Truman laid out the ‘Truman Doctrine’, whose primary goal was to ‘contain Soviet geopolitical expansion’ and more broadly, implied American support for other countries ‘threatened’ by Soviet communism. The Truman Doctrine became the bedrock of post-WWII US foreign policy and in 1949, led to establishment of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Truman’s speech is considered by many to be the start of the ‘Cold War’.

Demise of Soviet Union

Between 1988–1991 the Soviet Union experienced a process of internal disintegration which began with growing unrest in its various constituent republics are subsequent political and legislative conflicts between the republics and the central government. This is not surprising considering that the country was the largest country in the world, covering a vast land mass of 22,400,000 square km2 with a diverse population of circa 290 million consisting of 100 distinct nationalities. In addition, the USSR faced near continuous hostility from the US, UK and other imperialist powers since its very inception. The collapse of the Soviet Union and ‘end’ of the Cold War was interpreted by some in the US, notably Charles Krauthammer as the beginning of a US-directed ‘unipolar’ movement and a ‘new world order’ by President GW Bush. As is usually the case in global affairs, things did not go exactly as planned- the cold war never ‘ended’ and a ‘multipolar’ world emerged.

Project for the New American Century (PNAC)

The PNAC was founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan in the Spring of 1997 as ‘a non-profit, educational organization’ that had a neo-conservative philosophy with close ties to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and endorsed strong American global leadership. 36 The PNAC had a particular focus on Iraq, predating the Bush Presidency and in Jan, 1998, sent a letter to then President Bill Clinton stating:

‘We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding……We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S……That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power’. 37

In Sept 2000, ironically a year prior to 911, the PNAC would publish an influential policy document “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” that would serve as a blueprint for US foreign policy in the 21st century. Summarized in its Statement of Principles:

‘As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s most preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievement of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?’

‘[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.’

‘Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership of the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of the past century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.” 38

The PNAC advocated: 1) increased ‘defense’ spending to ‘carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future’, 2) ‘strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values’, 3) ‘promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad’, and 4) ‘accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles’.

Many PNAC members would go on to hold high level positions in the GW Bush administration, including: Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, John Bolton, Dick Cheney (Vice President), Eliot Cohen, Paula Dobriansky, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Zalmay Khalilzad, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Richard Perle, Peter Rodman, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Zoellick, William Schneider and James Woolsey. 39 Not surprisingly, these individuals would play a major role in shaping post-911 US foreign policy.

911 and Eruption of US Military Activity

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept 11, 2001 the US experienced the deadliest attack in its history. According to the ‘official’ narrative, nineteen people affiliated with al-Qaeda, a radical Islamic group, hijacked 4 jet aircraft- 2 from Boson, 1 from Newark and 1 from Washington Dulles. Two of these aircraft subsequently crashed into the World Trade Center (WTC) in NYC resulting in the collapse of building 1 (WTC1) and building 2 (WTC2), one hit the Pentagon and the fourth crashed into an empty field in Shanksville, PA. 40 Two decades later, there are still multiple outstanding questions about 911, including what did the intelligence community- FBI, CIA know about the hijackers prior to 911, why didn’t the Pentagon immediately scramble fighter jets to intercept the hijacked aircraft, and why did steel framed buildings that had been ostensibly engineered to survive an impact from an airplane, rapidly collapse? 41

As it turned out, 911 would be a ‘watershed’ event, showcased in President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address where he delivered his [in]famous ‘axis of evil’ speech, designating three countries- North Korea, Iran and Iraq- as rogue states that he claimed ‘harbored, financed and aided terrorists’. 42 Indeed, 911 would set the stage for US military engagements, currently stretching from the Levant, to Caspian Basin, Persian Gulf, South-Central Asia, China Sea, Indian Ocean, Horn of Africa, the Maghreb, to Eastern Europe and Russian border (Figure 1). 4344. These conflicts and conflict zones are summarized in Table 2.

Invasion of Afghanistan

The Pentagon has had a longstanding interest in Afghanistan, due to its strategic location in southern Asia- sharing borders with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan to the north, Iran to the west, and Pakistan to the south and east. During the Soviet–Afghan War (1979-1989), the Mujahideen, headed by Osama Bin Laden fought a nine-year guerrilla war against the Soviet Army and Afghanistan government, receiving material and financial support from the US, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other countries and has been described as a ‘Cold War-era proxy war’, pitting the US against the USSR. In October 2001, immediately following 911, the U.S. launched its invasion of Afghanistan, rapidly ‘defeating’ the Taliban, and soon thereafter, installing a new government headed by Hamid Karzai in Kabul, and declaring the country ‘liberated’. 45. It soon became obvious that this rapid ‘success’ would be short lived. Despite spending over $1 trillion of US taxpayer money and deploying more than 100K troops, the conflict in Afghanistan continues and is the longest war in US history. The Taliban currently control >50% of Afghan territory and Afghanistan has the dubious distinction of supplying >90% of the world’s heroin 46

War on Iraq

Following defeat of the Central Powers in WWI, the Paris Peace Conference (1919-1920) assembled diplomats from 32 countries, resulting in the creation of the League of Nations, denounced by Lenin as a “thieves’ kitchen” and the ‘awarding’ of German and Ottoman overseas possessions as “mandates,” primarily to Britain and France. 47 Well aware of Iraq’s large energy reserves and strategic importance, Winston Churchill managed to cobble together Basra, Bagdad and Mosul into the ‘state’ of Iraq, while at the same time, carve out the state of Kuwait, which has 499 km of Coastline on the Persian Gulf, compared with Iraq, which has 58 km. 4849 This was likely done to limit Iraqi coast line and access to the Gulf.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and 911 attacks provided the directors of US foreign policy considerable latitude to pursue a more aggressive foreign policy. As described above, the PNAC laid out their perspective in their 2000 policy manifesto ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses’. The Bush Administration was literally infiltrated with PNAC members, led by Vice President Dick Chaney and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld who were well aware of Iraq’s large energy reserves and was ‘ripe’ for the picking. All that was missing was a ‘marketing’ strategy, using 911 as a rationale for initially invading Iraq and then attempting to widen US control of other countries in the Middle East, with the goal of governing the regions vast energy reserves and selling this to a skeptical American public. This was accomplished using corporate media and testimony by Colin Powell, a respected former four-star Army General and 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The stage would be set by a 2002 piece by Michael Gordon and Judith Miller in the paper of record (NYT), alleging that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was secretly building ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (WMD). 50 This piece would form the basis of Collin Powell’s Feb 5, 2003 Speech before the UN, setting up a casus belli (Latin, ‘occasion for war’) for the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. 51 As is now well known, the piece by Gordon and Miller was essentially fabricated as was much of Powell’s UN speech. 52 As preparations for Invading Iraq were being formulated, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others estimated the costs of the conflict to be below $100 billion and ‘reassuring’ nervous Americans that Iraq’s oil ‘would cover’ the cost of the war. 53 As is now readily apparent, the Iraq war which is still ongoing, has been a strategic disaster, resulting in thousands of American casualties, killing or displacing circa 25% of the Iraq population, led to the creation of ISIS and has cost US taxpayers circa $ 5 Trillion. The extent of this disaster was pointed out in vivid detail by Thomas Ricks, former US military reporter for the Washington Post, in his 2006 book- ‘Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005. As pointed out by General Wesley Clark in his 2007 interview with Amy Goodman, US plans to invade Iraq were formulated within days after 911. In addition, these plans also included strategies for ‘taking out’ six other countries in 5 years, including Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” 43

Libya, Syria and Yemen

On Mar 19, 2011 a multi-state NATO-led coalition began a military intervention in Libya, to implement UNSC Resolution 1973, which ‘demanded’ an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians and imposed a no-fly zone and new sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters. This resolution would be used by US/NATO to overthrow the Libyan government and kill Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would later ‘joke’ about Qaddafi’s death, commenting ‘We came, we saw, he died’. 54 In a 2016 interview with the BBC, President Barack Obama stated- failing to prepare for the aftermath of the ousting of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi was the ‘worst mistake’ of his presidency’. 55 Gaddafi’s removal plunged the country into chaos and became an international arms bazaar for radical Islamic groups, as he predicted. 56 Since 2014, the country has fractured- split between forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), supported by Turkey and Qatar and the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Benghazi-based Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and supported by Egypt, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia.

The US has been intent on ‘regime change’ in Syria since at least 2007. 43 Syria occupies a strategic position in Western Asia, sharing borders with Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan (see Figure 1). Direct US involvement in the war on Syria began in 2014, with the support of US vassals- Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel, with the goal of removing President Bashar al-Assad from power, a policy which remains in effect today. Due to the loyalty of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) along with support from Hezbollah, the Islamic Republic or Iran and Russian Air Force and advisors, Syrian forces have fortified control over much of the country and Bashar al-Assad remains in power.

Yemen occupies a strategic position on the Arabian Peninsula, abutting the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which connects the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Thus, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait is considered a strategic ‘chokepoint’ that can be closed during a military crisis and thus, of interest to major global powers. 57 In 2015, the Houthi Ansarullah movement overthrew the Yemeni government, led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, forcing him to flee to neighboring KSA. In response, Mohammed bin Salman (aka MBS), Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, formed a ‘coalition’ consisting of circa 10 countries, including Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)- the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, along with Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Morocco. While not directly involved in the Yemen conflict, the US, UK and other imperialist countries have provided the Saudi coalition with intelligence, logistical and material support. 58 As pointed out by HRW and others, the war on Yemen has been a humanitarian disaster, leading to massive cholera epidemics, poverty, starvation and physical destruction of the country’s infrastructure. 5759

2021 and Beyond

The US emerged from WWII as the world’s dominant economic and military power. This power has been facilitated by the dollar’s privileged status as the world’s reserve currency, giving Washington the ability to print money and effectively ‘weaponize’ the dollar. Since the mid-1970s, US global power has been systematically undermined from decades of neoliberal economic policies and costly wars. Since 2001, the US has been involved in conflicts in Afghanistan (longest war in US history), Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. These conflicts have been humanitarian disasters, resulting in the injury or death of thousands of American soldiers, while displacing/killing an estimated 37 million people in the affected countries. The ongoing refugee ‘crisis’ in Europe is a direct consequence of these wars, with millions of people escaping the chaos, violence and poverty that US/NATO wars have created. 60

The costs of these wars to American taxpayers have been staggering. In addition to spending circa $14 trillion on the Pentagon (2001-2020) 61, post-911 conflicts have cost taxpayers circa $6.4 trillion. 60 Despite expending astronomical amounts of financial and human capital on these wars, the American empire has been unable to extract significant imperial rent from these countries. Unfortunately, the Pentagon is incapable of extricating itself from these conflicts as doing so is an admission of failure and by extension military/geopolitical weakness. No amount of jingoistic and bellicose rhetoric from politicians in Washington or talking heads on corporate media changes this reality.

The Trump administration has accelerated US global isolation by exiting or contemplating leaving: Paris Climate Accord, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA; Iran Nuclear deal), Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Open Skies Treaty, UN Human Rights council, World Trade Organization (WTO) and several other agreements. 62 At the same time, China has been actively negotiating multiple trade agreements, including: $400 billion comprehensive energy and security agreement with Iran 63; Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with 15 Asian countries including Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia and is the largest trade deal in history 64; EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment 65. Significantly, the US is not a party to any of these agreements and trade will be conducted using regional currencies, excluding the dollar. Not surprisingly, these trade deals are exacerbating tensions between the US, China and other countries. 66 US economic decline has now progressed to the point where the very survival of the American Empire depends on continued money printing to prop up Wall St and large banks, subsidize the military and war. This was recently summarized by economist Richard Wolff- “The Federal Reserve is sustaining US capitalism — directly by loaning to corporations and indirectly by loaning to the federal government — to run a huge deficit, excess of trillion dollars… The federal government is not an intrusion; the federal government is the only thing that keeps private capitalism from a complete bust… And what do we know about this way that the Federal Reserve is keeping capitalism going? It’s funding the most extreme inequality in a century of American history.” 25

Thus, the US is stuck between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’. The very functioning of the American state- keeping Wall St. and large banks solvent and funding the Pentagon and ongoing wars, requires continued public support- i.e., providing unlimited amounts of ultra-cheap money from the Treasury, as laid out in a recent presentation by FED chair Jerome Powell. 67 Indeed, anytime there is so much as a hint that interest rates are going up, equity markets fall. These policies have become so ingrained and accepted as the ‘normal’ functioning of the state, that they were not addressed by Donald Trump or Joe Biden, during the 2020 campaign. The problem is that this is further undermining the strength of the dollar and jeopardizing its role as the world’s reserve currency 68, readily seen from the rising price of gold, which increased 25% last year. History tells us that over the last 700 years, world reserve currencies maintain their position on average 100 years. 69 At this point, the dollar has been the reserve currency for 77 years. 70 As the global economic vise continues to tighten, American foreign policy is becoming increasingly reckless and bellicose, while debt levels continue rising, putting increasing downward pressure on the dollar. When the dollar crashes the American Empire will crash with it. The American ruling elite are courting a rendezvous with disaster.

Notes

1. Bretton Woods Agreement and System by James Chen Apr 30, 2020; Link:

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/brettonwoodsagreement.asp

2. Launch of the Bretton Woods System- The international currency system became operational in 1958 with the elimination of exchange controls for current-account transactions By Robert L. Hetzel Federal Reserve History; Link: https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/bretton_woods_launched

3. Nixon Ends Convertibility of US Dollars to Gold and Announces Wage/Price Controls- With inflation on the rise and a gold run looming, President Richard Nixon’s team enacted a plan that ended dollar convertibility to gold and implemented wage and price controls, which soon brought an end to the Bretton Woods System. By Sandra Kollen Ghizoni, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Aug 1971; Link: https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/gold-convertibility-ends

4. The Politics of Privatization: How Neoliberalism Took Over US Politics By Brett Heinz; Sept 8, 2017; Link: http://www.faireconomy.org/the_politics_of_privatization

5. Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems- Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump – neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative? By George Monbiot Apr 15, 2016; Link: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

6. New Deal by History.com Editors Nov 27, 2019; Link: https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/new-deal

7. Glass-Steagall Act by History.com Editors Aug 21, 2018; Link: https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/glass-steagall-act

8. Federal Tax Cuts in the Bush, Obama, and Trump Years Report July 11, 2018 Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy; Link: https://itep.org/federal-tax-cuts-in-the-bush-obama-and-trump-years/

9. Labor Day: Ronald Reagan and the PATCO Strike by David Macaray HuffPost Aug 20, 2017; Link: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/labor-day-ronald-reagan-and-the-patco-strike_b_59a6d604e4b05fa16286beb1

10. How Bill Clinton’s Welfare Reform Changed America- Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign placed welfare reform at its center, claiming that his proposal would “end welfare as we have come to know it.” By Mary Pilon Aug 29, 2018; Link: https://www.history.com/news/clinton-1990s-welfare-reform-facts

11. The Real Lessons from Bill Clinton’s Welfare Reform- The 1996 creation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program effectively killed cash assistance. Now, Republicans want to use it as a model for the rest of the social safety net. By Vann R. Newkirk II Feb 5, 2018; Link:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/welfare-reform-tanf-medicaid-food-stamps/552299/

12. United States Average Hourly Wages in Manufacturing-1950-2020 Data; Link: https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/wages-in-manufacturing

13. Mexico Nominal Hourly Wages in Manufacturing- 2007-2020 Data; Link: https://tradingeconomics.com/mexico/wages-in-manufacturing

14. NAFTA’s Legacy: Lost Jobs, Lower Wages, Increased Inequality; Link: https://www.citizen.org/wp-content/uploads/nafta_factsheet_deficit_jobs_wages_feb_2018_final.pdf

15. The White House is only telling you half of the sad story of what happened to American jobs by Linette Lopez Jul 25, 2017; Link: https://www.businessinsider.com/what-happened-to-american-jobs-in-the-80s-2017-7

16. China, Saudi Arabia and the US: Shake Up and Shake Down. By Prof. James Petras Global Research, Dec 04, 2017; Link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/china-saudi-arabia-and-the-us-shake-up-and-shake-down/5621487

17. Why bringing manufacturing jobs to the U.S. from China is “highly unlikely” by Victoria Craig Marketplace Morning Report Aug 27, 2020; Link: https://www.marketplace.org/2020/08/27/trump-manufacturing-jobs-china-trade-war-deal/

18. Derivative By Jason Fernando Dec 5, 2020; Link: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/derivative.asp

19. What are the Main Risks Associated with Trading Derivatives? By J.B. Maverick Apr 3, 2020; Link: https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/070815/what-are-main-risks-associated-trading-derivatives.asp

20. War on Iran & Calling America’s Bluff by Pepe Escobar April 24, 2019; Link: https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/24/pepe-escobar-war-on-iran-calling-americas-bluff/

21. Bill Clinton – 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis – TIME; Link:

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1877351_1877350_1877322,00.html

22. The Bizarre Action in U.S. Treasuries Is Linked to the U.S. National Debt and the Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: Aug 29, 2019; Link: https://wallstreetonparade.com/2019/08/the-bizarre-action-in-u-s-treasuries-is-linked-to-the-u-s-national-debt-and-the-repeal-of-the-glass-steagall-act/

23. World economy engulfed by “debt tsunami” by Nick Beams Nov 20, 2020; Link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/11/21/debt-n21.html

24. The Fed Man Song (to the music of Beatles ‘The Taxman’) by Jack Rrasmus Nov 16, 2020; Link:

The Fed Man Song (to the music of Beatles ‘The Taxman’)

25. Capitalism is on life support by Richard Wolff Democracy at Work Jan 4, 2021; Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYrgFU-P63g

26. IMF Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves (COFER); Link:

https://data.imf.org/?sk=E6A5F467-C14B-4AA8-9F6D-5A09EC4E62A4

27. Why the US Dollar Is the Global Currency By Kimberly Amadeo July 23, 2020; Link: https://www.thebalance.com/world-currency-3305931

28. The Rise of the Petrodollar System: “Dollars for Oil” By Jerry Robins Thu, Feb 23, 2012; Link: https://www.financialsense.com/contributors/jerry-robinson/the-rise-of-the-petrodollar-system-dollars-for-oil

29. Federal Reserve Act; Link: https://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/fract.htm

30. Federal Reserve Bank of New York By Investopedia Staff Dec 18, 2020; Link: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/federal-reserve-bank-of-new-york.asp

31. SWIFT; Link: https://www.swift.com

32. SWIFT and the Weaponization of the U.S. Dollar- The U.S. has used the system as a stick before. Continuing down this path could trigger de-dollarization and an ensuing currency crisis. Saturday, Oct 6, 2018; Link: https://fee.org/articles/swift-and-the-weaponization-of-the-us-dollar/

33. The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Link:

https://www.atomicarchive.com/resources/documents/med/med_chp10.html

34. “Wipe the Soviet Union Off the Map”, 204 Atomic Bombs against 66 Major Cities, US Nuclear Attack against USSR Planned During World War II When America and the Soviet Union Were Allies. By Prof Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, Oct 27, 2018; Link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/wipe-the-ussr-off-the-map-204-atomic-bombs-against-major-cities-us-nuclear-attack-against-soviet-union-planned-prior-to-end-of-world-war-ii/5616601

35. The Sinews of Peace (‘Iron Curtain Speech’) Mar 5, 1946; Link: https://winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/1946-1963-elder-statesman/the-sinews-of-peace/

36. Project for the New American Century Oct 16, 2019; Link: https://militarist-monitor.org/profile/project_for_the_new_american_century/

37. 1998 PNAC Letter to President Clinton on Iraq Jan 26, 1998; Link: https://zfacts.com/zfacts.com/metaPage/lib/98-Rumsfeld-Iraq.pdf

38. Rebuilding America’s Defenses- Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century. A Report of The Project for the New American Century By Donald Kagan, and Thomas Donnelly Sept, 2000; Link: https://cryptome.org/rad.htm; https://archive.org/details/RebuildingAmericasDefenses

39. List of PNAC Members associated with the Administration of George W. Bush; Link: https://gyaanipedia.fandom.com/wiki/List_of_PNAC_Members_associated_with_the_Administration_of_George_W._Bush

40. The 9/11 Commission Report- Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States; Link: https://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report_Exec.pdf

41. Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth; Link: www.ae911truth.org

42. President Bush cites ‘axis of evil,’ Jan. 29, 2002 By Andrew Glass Politico Jan 29, 2019; Link: https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/29/bush-axis-of-evil-2002-1127725

43. “We’re going to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran.” Interview with General Wesley Clark Global Research, Feb 06, 2018; Link: https://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166

44. A Timeline of the U.S.-Led War on Terror- In the wake of the attacks of 9/11, President George W. Bush called for a global “War on Terror,” launching an ongoing effort to thwart terrorists before they act. By History.com Editors May 5, 2020; Link: https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/war-on-terror-timeline

45. A timeline of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan since 2001 AP July 6, 2016; Link:

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2016/07/06/a-timeline-of-u-s-troop-levels-in-afghanistan-since-2001/

46. Washington’s Twenty-First-Century Opium Wars: How a Pink Flower Defeated the World’s Sole Superpower- America’s Opium War in Afghanistan by Alfred McCoy Tom Dispatch Feb 21, 2016; Link: https://tomdispatch.com/alfred-mccoy-washington-s-twenty-first-century-opium-wars

47. The First World War – A Marxist Analysis of the Great Slaughter by Alan Woods June 2, 2019; Link: https://www.marxist.com/first-world-war-a-marxist-analysis-of-the-great-slaughter/16.-the-treaty-of-versailles-the-peace-to-end-all-peace.htm

48. Paris 1919: How the Peace Conference Shaped the Middle East; Link:

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=afb36eefd9184d99afb1d654dc987767

49. The Impact of Western Imperialism in Iraq, 1798-1963 By Geoff Simons Dec, 2002; Link: https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/169-history/36399.html

50. Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts By Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller NYT Sept. 8, 2002; Link:

https://www.nytimes.com/svc/oembed/html/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2002%2F09%2F08%2Fworld%2Fthreats-responses-iraqis-us-says-hussein-intensifies-quest-for-bomb-parts.html#?secret=uidQmCNcdY

51. Colin Powell Still Wants Answers- In 2003, he made the case for invading Iraq to halt its weapons programs. The analysts who provided the intelligence now say it was doubted inside the C.I.A. at the time. By Robert Draper NYT Jan. 11, 2021; Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/16/magazine/colin-powell-iraq-war.html

52. Lie After Lie: What Colin Powell Knew About Iraq 15 Years Ago and What He Told the U.N.- The evidence is irrefutable: Powell consciously deceived the world in his 2003 presentation making the case for war with Saddam Hussein. By Jon Schwarz

Jon Schwarz The Intercept Feb 6, 2018; Link:

https://theintercept.com/2018/02/06/lie-after-lie-what-colin-powell-knew-about-iraq-fifteen-years-ago-and-what-he-told-the-un/

53. The cost of the Iraq war Mar 19, 2013; Link: https://www.registerguard.com/article/20130319/OPINION/303199842

54. The Libya Gamble- A New Libya, with ‘Very Little Time Left’. The fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi seemed to vindicate Hillary Clinton. Then militias refused to disarm, neighbors fanned a civil war, and the Islamic State found refuge. By Scott Shane and Jo Becker NYT Feb. 27, 2016; Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/us/politics/libya-isis-hillary-clinton.html

55. President Obama: Libya aftermath ‘worst mistake’ of presidency BBC April 11, 2016; Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36013703

56. Coups and terror are the fruit of Nato’s war in Libya- The dire consequences of the west’s intervention are being felt today in Tripoli and across Africa, from Mali to Nigeria by Seumas Milne The Guardian May 22, 2014; Link: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/22/coups-terror-nato-war-in-libya-west-intervention-boko-haram-nigeria

57. Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean, Yemen and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait by Phillyguy for The Saker Blog Aug 5, 2020; Link: https://thesaker.is/strategic-importance-of-the-indian-ocean-yemen-and-bab-el-mandeb-strait/

58. Ending the Yemen war is both a strategic and humanitarian imperative by John R. Allen and Bruce Riedel Brookings Monday, Nov 16, 2020;

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/11/16/ending-the-yemen-war-is-both-a-strategic-and-humanitarian-imperative/embed/#?secret=48yOxEXf85

59. U.S. War Crimes in Yemen: Stop Looking the Other Way- The State Department warned for years that the U.S. was complicit in war crimes in Yemen. No one put a stop to it. Foreign Policy in Focus by Andrea Prasow Sept 21, 2020; Link:

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/09/21/us-war-crimes-yemen-stop-looking-other-way

60. Costs of War Brown University; Link: https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar

61. U.S. military spending from 2000 to 2019; Link: https://www.statista.com/statistics/272473/us-military-spending-from-2000-to-2012/

62. Here are all the treaties and agreements Trump has abandoned By Zachary B. Wolf and JoElla Carman, CNN Fri, Feb 1, 2019; Link: https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/01/politics/nuclear-treaty-trump/index.html

63. A China-Iran bilateral deal: Costs all around- Beijing sees an opportunity in Tehran’s international isolation – but may not realise the tangle it is entering. By Jeffrey Payne Sept 2, 2020; Link: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/china-iran-bilateral-deal-costs-all-around

64. China signs huge Asia Pacific trade deal with 14 countries By Jill Disis and Laura He, CNN Business Tue Nov 17, 2020; https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/16/economy/rcep-trade-agreement-intl-hnk/index.html

65. The Strategic Implications of the China-EU Investment Deal- The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment is a win for China, and a blow to transatlantic relations. By Theresa Fallon Jan 4, 2021; Link: https://thediplomat.com/2021/01/the-strategic-implications-of-the-china-eu-investment-deal/

66. EU–US tensions mount after EU signs trade deal with China by Alex Lantier Jan 4, 2021; Link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/01/05/euch-j05.html

67. Fed chief pledges massive support for Wall Street will not cease by Nick Beams Jan 16, 2021; Link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/01/16/powl-j16.html

68. Is the US Dollar’s Role as the World’s Reserve Currency Under Threat? International Banker. Sept 30, 2020; Link: https://internationalbanker.com/finance/is-the-us-dollars-role-as-the-worlds-reserve-currency-under-threat/

69. 3 Major Signs That Precede the Fall of World Reserve Currencies- Economics by Graham Smith Oct 24, 2019; Link: https://news.bitcoin.com/3-major-signs-that-precede-the-fall-of-world-reserve-currencies/

70. 75 Years ago the U.S. Dollar Became the World’s Currency. Will that last? By Greg Rosalsky Jul 30, 2019; Link:

https://knpr.org/npr/2019-07/75-years-ago-us-dollar-became-worlds-currency-will-last

Figure 1 and Tables 1, 2

Figure 1. Map of Western Asia and Middle East. Source: https://ian.macky.net/pat/map/easa/easa.html

Table 1. Major economic legislation since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

DateTitleAdministration
1981Economic Recovery Tax ActReagan
1986Tax Reform Act of 1986Reagan
2001Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA)GW Bush
2003Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (JGTRRA)GW Bush
2010Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation ActBush/Obama
2012American Taxpayer Relief ActBush/Obama
2017Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)Trump
1993North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)Clinton
1996Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)Clinton
1999Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA; Financial Services Modernization Act)Clinton
2000Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA)Clinton

Table 2. US involvement in conflicts and conflict zones since 911.

ConflictAdministrationDate
AfghanistanGW Bush2001-present
IraqGW Bush2003-present
LibyaObama2011- present
UkraineObama2014-present
SyriaObama2014-present
YemenObama2014-present
Eastern Europe/Russian BorderClinton- Trump1997-Present
China Sea/Western PacificObama/Trump2011-present
Persian GulfBush/Obama/Trump2003-present

The Dangerous Alliance of Rothschild and the Vatican of Francis

22.12.2020 

Author: F. William Engdahl

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Holy Moly! The most globalist and interventionist Pope since the Crusades of the 12th Century has formalized an alliance with the largest figures in global finance led by none other than that noble banking family, Rothschild. The new alliance is a joint venture they call “Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican.” The venture is one of the more cynical and given the actors, most dangerous frauds being promoted since Davos WEF guru and Henry Kissinger protégé, Klaus Schwab, began to promote the Great Reset of the world capitalist order. What and is behind this so-called Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican?

On their website they proclaim in a typical UN doublespeak, “The Council for Inclusive Capitalism is a movement of the world’s business and public sector leaders who are working to build a more inclusive, sustainable, and trusted economic system that addresses the needs of our people and the planet.” A more sustainable, trusted economic system? Doesn’t that sound like the infamous UN Agenda 21 and its Agenda 2030 daughter, the globalist master plan? They then claim, “Inclusive Capitalism is fundamentally about creating long-term value for all stakeholders – businesses, investors, employees, customers, governments and communities.”

They continue, “Council members make actionable commitments aligned with the World Economic Forum International Business Council’s Pillars for sustainable value creation—People, Planet, Principles of Governance, and Prosperity—and that advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

In announcing the deal with the Vatican, Lynn Forester de Rothschild declared, “This Council will follow the warning from Pope Francis to listen to ‘the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’ and answer society’s demands for a more equitable and sustainable model of growth.”

Their reference to Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum is no accident. The group is yet another front group in what is becoming a globalist bum’s rush to try to convince a skeptical world that the same people who created the post-1945 model of IMF-led globalization and giga-corporate entities more powerful than governments, destroying traditional agriculture in favor of toxic agribusiness, dismantling living standards in industrialized countries to flee to cheap labor countries like Mexico or China, will now lead the effort to correct all their abuses? We are being naïve if we swallow this.

Rothschild and pals

First off it is useful to see who are the “inclusive” capitalists joining forces with the Pope and Vatican. The founder is a lady who carries the name Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild. She is the wife of the 90-year old retired mega-billionaire head of London’s NM Rothschilds Bank, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild. Lady Lynn however is from “commoner” roots, born into a US working class family in New Jersey whose father, as she tells, worked two jobs to put her and her brothers through law and medical schools. She seemed to have had some influential mentors, as she went to Wall Street then to telecoms including Motorola and made reported tens of millions before hooking up with Sir Evelyn and his reported $20 billion in assets. Reports have it that Henry Kissinger played a personal role in encouraging the Transatlantic union of the two.

Lady Lynn is interesting as well beyond her famous husband. According to the list of names of those who flew on the private jet of convicted child sex trafficker and reported Mossad operative Jeffrey Epstein, one name that appears is “de Rothschild, Lynn Forester.”

It is interesting to note, that the same Lynn Forester in 1991, before she took Sir Evelyn as her husband, generously let a British friend have full use of one of Lynn’s Manhattan apartment properties, following the apparent murder of the woman’s father, British media tycoon and Mossad agent, Robert Maxwell. The British friend of Lynn, Ghislaine Maxwell, today is awaiting trial for complicity in child sex trafficking as the partner of Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell reportedly maintained the Manhattan address of Lady Lynn until very recently to register a bizarre non-profit called Terramar that she and Epstein set up in 2012, allegedly aimed at saving our oceans. When Epstein was arrested she quickly dissolved the non-profit. One of the donors to Ghislaine’s TerraMar was something called the Clinton Foundation, which leads to the next friend.

Lady Lynn has another long-time friend named Hillary Clinton, whose husband, Bill, was also logged on Epstein’s Lolita Express private jet, around two dozen times. Lynn and her new husband, Sir Evelyn, in fact were so close to the Clintons that in 2000 the Rothschild newlyweds spent part of their honeymoon as guests at the White House of Mr and Mrs Clinton. Lady Lynn after that became a major fund-raiser in 2008 and again 2016 for a possible Hillary bid for President, called a “bundler.” She also advised Hillary on her economic program, a free market one based on Adam Smith as she described it in an interview once.

Lady Lynn’s “Guardians”

The Rothschild venture with the Vatican at this point, in addition to co-founder Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, includes hand-picked money moguls and their select foundations who pompously call themselves the “Guardians.” That’s a term sounding more like a South Side Chicago gang or some kind of mafia overlords. They call themselves the moral guardians, together now with their new friends at the Vatican, for reform of capitalism.

The Guardian member list includes Rajiv Shah, the CEO of the Rockefeller Foundation, and former partner of the Gates Foundation’s AGRA scam to introduce GMO seeds in Africa. The Rockefeller Foundation has been involved in promoting a pandemic “lockdown” since 2010, and is a core part of the WEF Great Reset agenda. He just released a Rockefeller report, Reset the Table: Meeting the Moment to Transform the US Food System.

Rothschild’s Guardians also include Darren Walker the CEO of the Ford Foundation. Those two foundations, Ford and Rockefeller, have done more to shape an imperial American foreign policy than even the US State Department or CIA, including the funding of the failed Green Revolution in India and Mexico, and the creation by Rockefeller funds of GMO crops.

The head of DuPont, a GMO giant and chemicals group is another Guardian as well as scandal-ridden vaccine and drug companies, Merck and Johnson & Johnson. Merck lied about the risks of its arthritis drug Vioxx until more than 55,000 users died of heart attacks. Johnson & Johnson has been involved in numerous frauds in recent years including around negative effects of its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, illegal presence of cancer-causing asbestos in its baby powder, and potentially thousands of legal actions for its role as a leading supplier of the opioid in Purdue Pharma’s deadly prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Other Guardians include CEOs of Visa, Mastercard, Bank of America, Allianz insurance, BP. In 2016 Visa along with USAID were behind the catastrophic Modi experiment to introduce a cashless economy in India.

Notable also is Guardian Mark Carney, former Bank of England head and also advocate of cashless digital central bank currencies to replace the dollar. Carney is now United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance.

Carney is also a Board member of the Davos World Economic Forum, the public promoter of the Global Reset of capitalism to impose the dystopian Agenda 2030 “sustainable” economy. In fact several of Rothschild’s Guardians are on the WEF Board, including billionaire Marc Benioff, founder of cloud computing Salesforce, and OECD head Angel Gurria. And ex-Credit Suisse CEO, Tidjane Thiam is on the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum.

Other Guardians of the inclusive capitalism transformation include the head of Bank of America, which bank was sued by the US Government for fraud connected with the 2008 US subprime mortgage crisis, as well as for laundering money for the deadly Mexican drug cartels and Russian organized crime. The select Guardian list also includes Marcie Frost, the controversial head of CalPERS, the huge fraud-ridden California state pension fund managing over $360 billion.

The head of State Street Corporation, one of the world’s largest asset management companies with US$3.1 trillion under management, is another Guardian. In January 2020 State Street announced it would vote against directors of companies in major stock indices that do not meet targets for environmental, social and governance changes. This is what is called Green Investing, as part of so-called Socially Responsible Investing. The WEF strategy, pushed also by WEF board members like Larry Fink of BlackRock, reward companies that they deem “socially responsible.” This is the key to the inclusive capitalism agenda of not just Rothschild’s inclusive capitalism Guardians, but also the WEF.

Their website claims that the Guardians manage more than $10.5 trillion dollars and control companies that employ 200 million workers. Now a brief look at their new Vatican partner.

Vatican Morals?

Ironically, or maybe not, Pope Francis, the partner chosen to give Rothschild’s group of mega-capitalists “moral” credibility, is himself embroiled in what could be the largest financial scandals, fraud and misuse of church funds in the modern history of the Vatican. That, despite the fact Pope Francis declared as new Pope in 2013, one of his main tasks would be to clean up the scandal-ridden Vatican finances. That has hardly taken place even after more than six years. Some Vatican observers even claim the financial corruption has worsened.

The unravelling scandal revolves around now-disgraced Cardinal Angelo Becciu who until 2018 was de facto chief-of-staff to the Pope and regular confidante. Becciu was Substitute for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State, a key position in the Roman Curia until June, 2018 when the pope elevated him to Cardinal, ironically enough, responsible for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Becciu, clearly no saint, was able to invest hundreds of millions even billions over years of Church funds, including donations for the poor in Peter’s Pence, into projects he chose with a former banker from Credit Suisse. Projects included €150 million share in a luxury London real estate complex and $1.1 million into a film, Rocketman, about the life of Elton John. That comes to light as the ongoing Vatican child sex scandals caused Pope Francis to defrock Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, the first Cardinal to fall in the Church’s deep sexual abuse charges.

Italian press reports that the Pope knew about the dubious investments of Becciu and even praised them before the depth of the scandals broke. In November, 2020 Italian police raided the residence of Becciu’s former Vatican accountant and found €600,000 in cash and evidence the Vatican employee received $15 million in fake invoicing over years.

With a background like this, the new Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican of Lynn de Rothschild warrants close scrutiny as they clearly plan big things along with Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum to “reform” the world economy, and it won’t be nice or moral we can be sure.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

December 09, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hit the road with the Mongols

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nothing will fundamentally change”

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

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

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

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

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

That will include:

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

2. Massive counter-intel operations.

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

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

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

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

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

There you go: Xi is the new Hitler.

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

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

Sheikh Qassem to Al-Manar: Retaliation to Fakhrizadeh’s Assassination in Iran’s Hands

Removed By Zionist YOU TUBE Click here to watch the interview

November 28, 2020

Hezbollah Deputy Chief Sheikh Naim Qassem in an interview with Al-Manar TV on 27/11/2020
Click the Pic

Hezbollah Deputy Leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said on Friday that the retaliation for the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was in Iran’s hands, warning that Hezbollah was fully prepared for any Israeli aggression.

“We condemn this heinous attack and see that the response to this crime is in the hands of those concerned in Iran,” Sheikh Naim Qassem said in an interview with Al-Manar’s Hadith Sa’a (Talk of the Hour).

Sheikh Qassem said Martyr Fakhrizadeh was killed by “those sponsored by America and ‘Israel’” and said the assassination was part of a war on Iran and the region.

However, on the possibility of a direct strike on Iran, His eminence said it was unlikely as it would “ignite the whole region”. “We cannot rule out the possibility of a limited attack and the Iranians are ready for this and more, but I don’t see an all-out war on the horizon,” he said.

Asked whether the Zionist entity could attack Lebanon, Sheikh Qassem said he did not believe so but that if it did Hezbollah was “fully prepared” for a confrontation.
“Hezbollah has achieved many victories, one of which that our country is not dependent on the arrogant America or others, and all the pressure put on Hezbollah is because it has achieved many victories in various fields,” the deputy leader stated. “In spite of everything we are worriless. Rather, we act calmly, we realize the importance of the position we are taking.”

“Hezbollah is always ready for any confrontation and Israel knows very well that any step taken by it will have major consequences.”

Regarding the cabinet formation, Sheikh Qassem said that “the methodology of forming the government and American pressures by various means are the reason for the delay of the government onset. Some are waiting for the inauguration of the new US president so that the government will be in line with the American orientations.” He called on the caretaker government to hold permanent constitutional meetings to deal with popular demands in the absence of the new government.

“There is no problem with Hezbollah in forming the government, and the basis of its formation is the understanding between the two presidents,” Sheikh Qassem said. “The approval of the parliamentary blocs is a prerequisite for forming a government, and this is what the American must understand,” he said, noting that “the Launchpad of the French initiative is economic, and we agree on that in principle and we never accept the hegemony of this initiative.”

“Our problem is with corruption that exists everywhere and not with people, whether they are politicians or specialists to form the government,” Sheikh Qassem emphasized, stressing that “fighting corruption should be through the judiciary, the government, and by activating the supervisory and legal mechanisms, and Hezbollah adheres to it exclusively.”

“Hezbollah rejects any conditional aid and accept aid from the International Monetary Fund after being discussed because we know our country very well,” he added, pointing that “the basic rule in solving our problem in Lebanon is to defend ourselves and work for Lebanon’s interest first, and the US does not scare us.”

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin address to G20 member countries

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin address to G20 member countries

Vladimir Putin addressed the meeting of the heads of delegations of the G20 member countries, invited states and international organisations.

The summit chaired by Saudi Arabia is held via videoconference on November 21–22.

The forum’s agenda includes issues of tackling the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, providing universal access to vaccines, strengthening healthcare systems, global economic recovery and employment, as well as cooperation in the digital economy, fighting climate change, environmental protection and countering corruption.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues,

The scope of problems humanity has faced in 2020 are truly unprecedented. The coronavirus pandemic, global lockdown and frozen economic activity have launched a systemic economic crisis the world probably has not known since the Great Depression.

The growth of national economies has been severely undermined. The pandemic claimed dozens, hundreds of thousands of lives while millions of people have lost their jobs and incomes.

The main risk, obviously, even despite some positive signals, the main risk remains: mass long-term unemployment, a so-called “stagnant” unemployment with the subsequent growth of poverty and social insecurity. The role of the G20 is to stop this from happening.

Russia highly values Saudi Arabia’s efforts during its G20 Presidency. In the present situation, the forums’ agenda was re-focussed towards global economic recovery and the protection of people’s health and wellbeing.

Drawing on the experience of fighting the 2008–2009 global financial crisis, the G20 launched a number of multilateral initiatives to curb pandemic-related economic risks and to restore business activity including via key global management institutions, namely the United Nations Organisation, the World Health Organisation, IMF, the World Bank and others.

Our countries have designed a package of incentives for the world economy totalling $12 trillion. The US President has spoken now about the US efforts – indeed, it is a very big contribution to the recovery of the American economy, which also means the recovery of the world economy.

We all together facilitated the emergency mobilisation of $21 billion for essential medical needs and gave a start to international cooperation in developing, producing and distributing vaccines.

Like other nations, Russia took unparalleled anti-crisis steps as it gave top priority to the key and fundamental value – people’s lives and health.

To ensure the sustainability of the national economy and maintain social stability, Russia’s Government together with the Bank of Russia are implementing a comprehensive plan of assistance to the population, small and medium-sized businesses and industries in the risk zone. Support was provided to the banking sector and regional budgets, businesses were issued loans while government investments were increased. The current volume of anti-crisis budget support totalled 4.5 percent of the GDP.

The timely adoption of these targeted measures allowed Russia, as well as the majority of developed countries, to mitigate the economic decline, to enhance the healthcare system and get through the hard times without irreparable losses. Both our accumulated reserves and attracting loan resources in the domestic market helped to finance the above measures.

Yet we are aware that the developing economies and some emerging market economies objectively lack such resources. Their fiscal revenues have plunged while the need to allocate considerable funds for fighting the pandemic is growing practically daily. National currency devaluation carries a big risk, and respectively, the cost of servicing on the state debt, primarily for low income countries, which have two thirds of their loans in US dollars.

The IMF and the World Bank rendered significant assistance to developing countries. Following their proposal, G20 made a decision in April to install a temporary moratorium on developing nations’ debt payments. That is certainly a much-needed initiative, but it only covers the poorest countries. It does not include their debt to private creditors and concerns less than four percent of the developing countries’ overall costs of servicing state debt in the current year.

I believe additional measures are needed to prevent the deterioration of the situation and the growth of economic and social inequality.

Urgent issues that have accumulated in international trade also need to be addressed. Thus, it is necessary to try to contain protectionism, to abandon the practice of unilateral sanctions and to resume delivery chains. We spoke about this just yesterday at another international platform, APEC.

Adjustment of multilateral universal trade rules to e-commerce (much needs to be done in this area) and other new economic realities are also on the agenda.

On the whole, the G20 should continue searching for new approaches to reforming the World Trade Organisation to meet present-day challenges. This task defies a solution without a stable and effective multilateral trade system, but at present, there is no alternative to the World Trade Organisation.

Russia supports the draft key decision of the current summit aimed at making effective and safe vaccines accessible for everyone. Undoubtedly, immunisation drugs are and must be universal public domain. Our country, Russia, is ready to provide the countries in need with the vaccines developed by our researchers. This is the world’s first registered vaccine Sputnik V, based on human adenoviral vectors platform. The second Russian vaccine, EpiVacCorona from a Novosibirsk research centre, is also ready. The third Russian vaccine is coming.

The scale of the pandemic compels us to engage all the resources and research available. Our common goal is to form portfolios of vaccines and ensure reliable protection for the planet’s population. It means that there will be enough work for everyone, colleagues, and I think it is a case when competition may be inevitable but we must proceed primarily from humanitarian considerations and make it a priority.

Let me stress – this crisis must become an opportunity to alter the trajectory of global development, preserve the favourable environment and climate, ensure equal conditions for all nations and peoples, build up effective tools of multilateral cooperation and key international institutions while drawing upon the UN Charter and universally accepted norms and principles of international law. We see this approach to solving global issues as the key task and responsibility of the G20 as the main forum of the world’s leading economies.

Colleagues, I would like to once again thank the hosts of today’s event, Saudi Arabia. Thank you for your attention.

Putin Expels the Families

November 19, 2020

Putin Expels the Families

by The Ister for The Saker Blog

The 1990s was a time of immense suffering for the Russian people. As the impending collapse of the USSR became discernable, insiders such as Nikolai Kruchina, Viktor Geraschenko, and Leonid Veselovsky created a planning group to ensure the continued influence of Soviet-era officials by transferring Russian state assets to offshore shell companies and thus stripping the country’s wealth. One such offshore company, FIMACO, was used to pilfer an estimated $50 billion from the nation. Viktor Gerashchenko, the head of the central bank of Russia, sent a memorandum demanding transfers from FIMACO be covered up. It was through this looting that liquid capital was generated and used by future oligarchs to build their fortunes. An early beneficiary of this arrangement was Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who had started his career as a minor Soviet official and whose Yukos oil conglomerate was tied to FIMACO. In return for his help Viktor Gerashchenko was later given a position as the chairman of Yukos by Khodorkovsky.

In 1991 the Soviet Union finally collapsed. That August, state treasurer Nikolai Kruchina, responsible for Russia’s gold reserves, died by falling from his window. He had been a member of the planning group which originated the plot to steal state assets. His successor Georgy Pavlov fell to his death from a window two months later: the oligarchs were cleaning house.

In September, the Russian central bank announced the Kremlin’s gold reserves had inexplicably dropped from the estimated 1000-1500 tons to a mere 240 tons. Two months later, Victor Gerashchenko announced Russia’s gold reserves had actually entirely vanished. While the Russian public was horrified at the revelation, European bankers were less surprised. It was whispered frequently among those circles that Soviet transport planes had been flying to and from Switzerland for months and selling off large amounts of gold. Boris Yeltsin announced his plans to privatize the nation’s assets and the real looting began.

During the privatization period, international capital wasted no time in opportunistically swooping in to take over Russian industries. The Clinton administration sought to redesign the economic policies of the nascent Russian Federation according to the Washington Consensus: privatization, deregulation, austerity, and the opening up of Russia’s companies to purchase by ultra-wealthy Americans. They gave the role of economic planning in Russia to the Harvard Institute for International Development, which sent Harvard economists to meet with Anatoly Chubais, Boris Yeltsin’s head of privatization. The close relationship with Anatoly Chubais allowed a select group of American investors to be on an inside track of financial dealings in the new Russia. One Harvard grad involved in this scheme was Jonathan Hay, convicted inside trader. He became senior advisor to the GKI, Russia’s new state privatization committee.

Certain members of this network, which included Harvard graduates Hay, Jeffrey Sachs, Andrei Shleifer, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, David Lipton, and others, misused funds from USAID that were intended for Russian economic development and rigged deals for privatization to gain control of key Russian industries in backroom negotiations. In one 1995 off market deal, Anatoly Chubais created a closed bidding process for prime national properties in which the only approved bidders were Harvard Management Company and George Soros. This resulted in the acquisition of major stakes in Sidanko Oil, Novolipetsk Steel, and Sviazinvest.

Foreign investors flocked in and the level of greed among this fifth column of new Muscovites was truly astonishing. The 1999 RICO suit Avisma Titano Magnes v. Dart Management is particularly enlightening. RICO allows victims of a racketeering conspiracy to sue conspirators for damages caused by their illegal conduct, and the following defendants were named in the action:

Kenneth Dart; Dart Management Inc, address unknown
Jonathan Hay; Dart Management Inc, address unknown
Michael Haywood; Dart Management Inc, address unknown
Michael Hunter; Dart Management Inc
Francis E. Baker; Andersen Group Inc
William Browder, Hermitage Fund
Barclays Bank, PLC

The complaint document alleges the following: the defendants and a cooperating bank called Bank Menatep, owned by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, had a controlling interest in titanium producer Avisma. They forced Avisma to sell its titanium below market price to offshore companies which they secretly controlled. Next, these offshore companies sold the titanium at a correct price on international markets for profit, which was then funneled back from the offshore companies to the defendants and Bank Menatep. Money that should have been booked as profits for Avisma was siphoned away, and the majority shareholders who were in on the scam benefitted at the expense of minority shareholders, the company, and Russian tax authorities.

Defendant Francis E. Baker described the actions in a private letter as, “An immense Russian bank money laundering scheme, clearly a criminal matter.” According to the complaint, the actions were discovered when defendants attempted to swap Avisma shares for shares of mining company VSMPO and replicate the same scam at VSMPO. Baker and other defendants later excused their actions by claiming the suit was Russian targeting. Sound familiar?

The criminality was not limited to foreign speculators. During the early period of privatization in the 90s a secret society of seven Russian oligarchs entirely controlled Boris Yeltsin’s administration. This group called itself Semibankirschina, named after the Seven Boyars who controlled Russia during the 17th centuryThe secret society included the following oligarchs: Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, Vladimir Gusinsky, Vladimir Potanin, and Alexander Smolensky.

A Russian journalist named Andrey Fadin described their overwhelming power in an article, “they control the access to budget money and basically all investment opportunities inside the country. They own the gigantic information resource of the major TV channels. They form the President’s opinion. Those who didn’t want to walk along them were either strangled or left the circle.” Less than one year after publishing the article Andrey Fadin was killed. Through their front man Anatoly Chubais, Semibankirschina used control of television networks to prop up Boris Yeltsin’s low approval ratings. From the mid-90s to 1999 this clique had total authority over Russian policies and industries, judiciously using violence to enforce its monopoly. In one case Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his underling Leonid Nevzlin carried out the murder of the mayor Vladimir Petukhov, who was pursuing Yukos Oil Company’s evasion of taxes.

In late 1999, Vladimir Putin became president of Russia and the fortunes of these self-appointed rulers rapidly turned for the worse. A new group of Putin insiders such as Gennady Timchenko, Vladimir Yakunin, and Sergey Chemezov formed and began supplanting the previous access that the Semibankirschina had to the president. In 2001, a state takeover of media seized the television networks previously owned by oligarchs Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky, and Badri Patarkatsishvili, prompting Patarkatsishvili to denounce Russia to the New York Times and flee the country. While exiled in the UK, Patarkatsishvili died suspiciously at the age of 48. The Georgian government has called his death an assassination. Boris Berezovsky also died suspiciously in the UK after having sold his Russian assets and denounced Putin. After his television networks were seized, Vladimir Gusinsky was criminally charged with money laundering and forced to flee the country as well.

The sweep continued as three other allies of the Semibankirschina were killed: Nikolai Glushkov, Alexander Litvinenko, and Boris Nemtsov. Bill Browder was deported in 2005, and later convicted in absentia for fraud. Fraudster Konstantin Ponomarev was also convicted, sentenced to 8 years in prison for crimes relating to his extortion of $1 billion from IKEA. Jamison Firestone, an associate of Ponomarev and Browder, was forced to flee Russia due to his involvement in the Magnitsky case, and his associate Alexander Peripilichny mysteriously died while jogging near London. George Soros was banned from Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

Once the richest man in the country, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s fortunes turned for the worse as well. In the early 2000s, Putin pushed through a number of populist reforms for criminal, tax, and land law, which the oligarchs of the 90s had strongly opposed. As the most blatantly criminal member of the original Semibankirschina, Khodorkovsky’s Bank Menatep had been founded with funds stolen as part of the looting of state assets. The bank operated as a hub of money laundering and engaged in countless financial scams, even delaying government funds to Chernobyl victims while using their money to financially speculate. It was Bank Menatep through which American fraudsters had allegedly ripped off Avisma shareholders with the titanium dumping scam.

In 2003, Khodorkovsky was criminally prosecuted by Putin for tax evasion and fraud for which he ended up serving 10 years in prison. His protege Leonid Nevzlin was convicted of ordering multiple contract murders on Khodorkovsky’s behalf, and sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia. Associate Platon Lebedev was also convicted and imprisoned. This wave of prosecution sent a message and gave Putin a strong position, which was used to negotiate a “grand bargain” with the remaining oligarchs: they retained most of their existing assets in return for alignment with Putin’s vertical rule of Russia. The era of financial gangsterism from the 1990s was over.

Stolen Russian gold reserves have now been restored and are at the highest levels in history. Because of the lack of collaboration with other central banks it is certain that Russian gold is present in Moscow’s vaults: there are none of the surreptitious leasing or swap agreements which call into question the claimed size of Western bank holdings. So instead of buying US treasuries or dollars for its reserves, the Bank of Russia can demand physical gold delivery into Moscow vaults. This will continually strain the fraudulent COMEX and London Bullion Market systems with the pressure of physical shipments and threaten the dollar. Unlike China, Russia is in the position to attack the dollar as a net commodity exporter, meaning when its gold purchases bid up the price of metals it is simply increasing the receipts of its own domestic commodity producing companies like Norilsk Nickel and VSMPO-AVISMA.

The economic crisis of 1998 has heavily influenced the Kremlin’s financial policy, and the last twenty years have been spent creating a resilient system. One of Putin’s first agenda items was to pay off all debt to the IMF and holdover loans from the Soviet era. Russia is now positioned to attack the dollar, as the only powerful state not operating on a debt-based system. A decade of economic warfare in the form of sanctions has cut off access to international capital: the result is one of the lowest levels of external debt of any country in the world, with cash reserves large enough to pay off all debt at once. These low debt levels have tangible benefits, primarily that Russia is now able to withstand large economic fluctuations without crumbling as a result of internal defaults. By comparison, the financial system of America would disintegrate if it attempted to sustain the decline in GDP Russia incurred from 2013-2016.

The Bank of Russia actively enforces stringent lending standards in order to prevent the emergence of consumer credit bubbles, and forces banks to hold extra cash on their balance sheets (as a result, most applications for personal credit are declined). So sanctions have actually made the country stronger, as hubris of the McCain class of American politicians has created a competitor state with no stake in the survival of the existing debt-based financial order. Russia’s mission to create resiliency and restore sovereignty foreshadows a tumultuous future, while America bets everything that the world will remain the same. The concerted plot to loot Russia has been foiled.

In December of 1999, Edmond Safra was murdered at his fabulous mansion, the Villa Leopolda in Monaco. The Safras are one of the oldest and most secretive of the banking families, with a fortune dating back to the gold trading caravans of the Ottoman Empire. Coincidentally, Safra means yellow, or gold, in Arabic. It was Edmond Safra who served as Bill Browder’s mentor in Russia, providing him with an initial seed funding of $25 million to start his Hermitage Fund. When Browder needed protection during a business dispute with an oligarch, Safra sent his emissary four armored vehicles and fifteen bodyguards led by a former Mossad agent. While Edmond Safra spent much of his later life defending himself from drug trafficking and money laundering allegations, he was accomplished, nonetheless. He founded his first bank at 23 years old and had dreamed of creating a banking dynasty that would last 10,000 years.

Just after Putin’s takeover as president, Villa Leopolda was broken into. Safra’s nurse, a former Green Beret named Ted Maher, was stabbed by two masked intruders who entered the premises, after which Safra was killed. Under pressure from Monacan authorities, Ted Maher was forced to sign a nonsensical confession in which he claimed that he stabbed himself and admitted to setting the fire in order to attempt to gain his employer’s adoration. He has since recanted this confession, saying that his defense attorneys coerced him into signing and threatened he would never see his family again otherwise. Jean-Christophe Hullin, the chief judge in the case, revealed in 2007 that the guilty conviction was a predetermined outcome which had been planned in a secret meeting with himself, Maher’s attorneys, and the chief prosecutor of Monaco: in short, Ted Maher was a fall guy for the real murderers of Edmond Safra. Now free, he believes Safra was ordered killed by Putin, “in retaliation for a plot orchestrated by Safra and Russian oligarchs to take control of all of Russia’s assets.”

It was during the purge of oligarchs and vulture capitalists that the true power behind Mikhail Khodorkovsky emerged. When it became likely he would be arrested, he arranged to have all his shares from the Yukos Oil Company transferred to the ownership of Jacob Rothschild. The transfer took place in November of 2003, giving Lord Rothschild control of shares estimated by the Sunday Times to be worth $13.5 billion. Putin subsequently liquidated and nationalized Yukos by seizing and selling off its shares to state oil companies at much below market value.

So Putin has declared war on the most powerful people on the planet.

The Ister is a researcher of financial markets and geopolitics. Author of The Ister: Escape America

The Secret Agenda of the World Bank and IMF

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

November 17, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is scary.

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

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

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

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

Coincidence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And of course, when the two Bretton Woods organizations were created in 1944, the voting system decided is not one country, one vote as in theory it is in the UN, but the US has an absolute veto right in both organizations. Their voting rights are calculated in function of their capital contribution which derives from a complex formula, based on GDP and other economic indicators. In both institutions the US voting right and also veto right is about 17%. Both institutions have 189 member countries.
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Covid has laid bare, if it wasn’t already before, how these “official” international, UN-chartered Bretton Woods financial institutions are fully integrated in the UN system – in which most of the countries still trust, maybe for lack of anything better.

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

International Reaction to Turkey’s Aggressive Foreign Policy Approach

05.11.2020 Author: Valery Kulikov

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According to numerous observers, the “aggressive approach” the Turkish leader R. Erdogan implies in Turkey’s foreign policy every day evokes more and more hostility and opposition across the world.

It is through the fault of Ankara that many of the faded conflicts have flared up with renewed vigor lately. Thus, in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey is striving for shelf hydrocarbons, causing a wave of indignation not only from Greece, but also from the European Union. And although the clash of interests here has not yet reached outright bloodshed, nevertheless, Turkey is no longer shy about ramming opponents with their ships and vessels. This, in turn, causes an increase in the degree of tensions both within the EU and between NATO member states, the outcome of which so far few can predict. The drift towards divisions is on in spite of Washington’s calls to all NATO member states urging them to “keep Turkey in the West.”

After the terrorist attack on October 16 in the Paris suburbs of Conflans-Saint-Honorine, when an 18-year-old Islamist, motivated by religious enmity, killed a school history and geography teacher, a new diplomatic scandal erupted between Turkey and France, which significantly increased tensions between these countries in Libya, where they support opposing sides of the conflict.

Numerous media voices are increasingly citing factual evidence of Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict, and not only in the form of supplying weapons there in violation of the imposed international embargo, but also sending numerous mercenaries from the war zone in Syria.

Recently, the growing criticism of Turkey on sending mercenaries not only to Syria and Libya, but also to the Karabakh conflict zone, has been confirmed by the intelligence services of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries. As a result, today no one, including Turkey itself, can claim that in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it acts as an impartial or neutral party, since it views this conflict as an opportunity to expand its influence in another neighboring region, the Southern Caucasus.

The summit of the EU states, which ended in late October, condemned the aggressive rhetoric and actions of Turkey aimed at the EU states, and the head of the European Council Charles Michel indicated that the EU leaders would discuss further actions with regard to Turkey at the planned summit in December. “We have expressed our determination to make Ankara respect us. Turkey has not yet chosen a positive path in relations with the EU. We condemn the recent unilateral actions of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, provocations and aggressive rhetoric against the EU countries, which is absolutely unacceptable,” Charles Michel said on October 29 following the EU summit held in the video conference format.

NATO also declares its “bewilderment” by Turkey’s actions, openly hinting to Erdogan about “unpleasant moments” and readiness to take a tougher position with regard to Ankara.

Today Turkey has strained its relations with many countries. In addition to the deepening conflict with the United States (after the acquisition and testing of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system), France, Greece and the EU as a whole, the list of Turkey’s “opponents” includes Israel (due to the conflict over the Palestinian problem), Syria (where Erdogan introduced Turkish troops), Iran (with which Ankara has intensified contradictions because of Erdogan’s actions in Syria), Saudi Arabia (relations with which have especially worsened because of the “Khashoggi case”). Even with the United Arab Emirates Erdogan’s conflict has become so widespread that this struggle unfolds from Morocco to Syria, most fiercely manifesting itself in the field of “soft power”, with mutual accusations of seeking to destabilize the Arab world. The Arab monarchies are particularly concerned about Ankara’s policy in the Persian Gulf, where Turkish troops are now stationed in Qatar, another Turkish base is located in Somalia, and Erdogan himself actively supports and finances the Muslim Brotherhood religious and political movement (banned in Russia – ed.) , to which the monarchies of the Gulf are more than wary.

As a result, as noted not only by the Western, but other regional media, Erdogan risks isolating his country from both the West and Arabs with Persians. “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made it clear that he has no desire to be a bridge between Europe and the Arab world. Instead, he decided to reshape Turkey in line with its imperial past and make it a competitor to the two regions,” UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash is being cited.

In response to the aggressiveness of Erdogan’s policy, France has already called off its ambassador from Turkey “for consultations”. The Canadian government, after the Bombardier Recreational Products company “unexpectedly” learned that its engines were being installed on the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 (“Flag Bearer”) operational tactical attack drones (these has been actively used in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh), took the decision to stop supplying them, as well as other weapons to Turkey. Canada stressed that “the use of attack drones by Turkey often goes beyond the framework of agreements within the NATO format.”

For its part, Turkey has no choice but to launch its own production of engines for Turkish drones, or to intensify military-technical cooperation with Ukraine in this regard, which was indirectly confirmed in the speeches of representatives of the industrial and business circles of Turkey, in particular, Turkish Aerospace Industries.

Against the backdrop of these events, the fall of the Turkish lira became uncontrollable, and Ankara no longer has the resources to keep the situation under control. Since the beginning of the year, the lira has fallen by 39% against the US dollar, which has become the worst indicator dynamics among all currencies in Eurasia, despite the fact that the dollar this year is clearly not up to par. The savings of the Turkish state itself continue to fall: according to the investment bank Goldman Sachs, Turkey has spent about $130 billion from its reserves over the past year and a half. At the same time, the reserves do not cease to decline, and if in the summer their volume reached $90 billion, now they have dropped below $80 billion. The situation is complicated by the need to fight the current economic crisis. In addition, unemployment in the country approached 14%, and among young people it reached 25%.

According to the forecasts of the former IMF Managing Director Desmond Lachman, in the event of a liquidity crisis in the world, Turkey will become one of the first countries to declare a default. Under these conditions, in order to mitigate the consequences of the recession, the state again has to borrow a lot from foreign creditors, but because of Erdogan’s aggressive policy, reliable friends (except, perhaps, Ukraine, whose situation is even worse), to whom you can turn for loans, today are getting more and more scarce…

Valery Kulikov, a political analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

الانتداب المالي أقصر الطرق للارتهان السياسيّ اللبنانيّ!

د. وفيق إبراهيم

النظام السياسي للبناني مرتهن دائماً للخارج السياسي الدولي الإقليمي الذي يُغطيه ويرعاه، الا أن نجاح حزب الله في طرد الاسرائيلي والارهاب في لبنان ومعظم سورية، ادى الى ولادة ظروف داخلية لتحالفه مع التيار الوطني الحر.

لقد أنتج هذا التحالف استقراراً لبنانياً اجتماعياً وسياسياً أجهض مشاريع الفتن المذهبية والطائفية… لكن الغطاء الخارجي للقوى السياسيّة اللبنانية، حماها في مشاريع السطو على الاقتصاد البناني وإفلاس البلاد.

وتمكنت من توحيد الاقتصاد اللبناني لأنها استغلت الصراع بين ثلاثة مشاريع اقليمية، الاول هو المشروع الاميركي الذي ابتدأ بغزو افغانستان والمشرق منذ 2001 لإعادة إنتاج شرق اوسط جديد. والثاني هو المشروع الاسلاماوي ذهب نحو بناء خلافة اسلامية مزعومة بالقتل والذبح والتسعير الطائفي والعرقي واقصى درجات الارهاب.

اما المشروع الثالث فهو «المقاوم» الذي جابه الاميركيين والارهاب وقوى يمنية عراقية سورية لبنانية مرتبطة بهم مسدداً ضربات متواصلة لهذه القوى أدت الى منع الاستفراد الاميركي مع قواه المحلية ببلدان المنطقة. الا ان لبنان بسبب طائفية نظامه المغطاة أيضاً من الطبقة الدينية المتمثلة بالمفتين والكرادلة وشيوخ العقل والمطارين، تمكنت من استغلال الصراع بين المشاريع المذكورة للاستمرار في سطوها على كامل الاقتصاد اللبناني والادارة والدين والتعليم والقضاء والجيش وسط انهماك المقاومين بالتصدي للعدوين الأكثر خطورة، «اسرائيل» والارهاب والغطاء الاميركي السميك.

هذا ما ادى الى الانهيار الاقتصادي الدراماتيكي في لبنان، وعجز الدولة عن إعادة ترميم بناها الدستورية، واستمرارها في تبني أسلوب التحاصص الحكومي وكأن شيئاً لم يكن.

هذا النظام يعرف أنه لا يزال حاجة أميركية، ويدرك ايضاً انه ليس جزءاً من الاستهدافات الأميركية في الشر، بقدر ما يشكل حليفاً أساسياً لحركتها في لبنان والإقليم إذا كان ذلك ممكناً.

بذلك يتبدّى مشهد حقيقي، قد يراه بعض المحللين صعب التصديق، وهو نجاح المقاومة في الحماية الوطنية والسياسية للمنطقة، مقابل نجاح القوى المحلية التقليدية في تنفيذ أكبر عملية فساد في التاريخ، ورسوخها في مواقفها الدستورية.

هنا تفتق الابتكار الغربي عن خطة جديدة للسيطرة على لبنان، يجري العمل على تنفيذها باسلوب متدحرج.

المؤشرات الاولى لهذا المخطط هو الدفع نحو فوضى سياسية واقتصادية واجتماعية طائفيّة تهدف الى تشديد العزلة على الجناح اللبناني المقاوم، تريد هذه السياسة إفهام المواطن اللبناني أنه جائع بسبب حزب الله الذي يضفي صورة غير مستقرة على الوضع الداخلي. ويمنع هيئات النقد الدولية من دون تسليف لبنان ما يحتاجه وهذا يدفع نحو المزيد من الانقسامات الداخلية والتصدع المذهبي والطائفي.

بالمقابل، يقوم الإعلام الغربي والداخلي الموالي له بتسريب معلومات من الصناديق الدولية يرد فيها أن مؤشر «سيدر» جاهز لتقديم ديون للبنان مقدارها اثنا عشر مليار دولار وصندوق النفقد الدولي خمسة عشر مليارات وبين مليار وخمسة مليارات من البنك الدولي. لكن دون الحصول على هذه الأموال، ضرورة اشراف هذه المؤسسات المالية الدولية على النظام الاقتصادي اللبناني لمدة خمس سنوات على الأقل، بمواكبة هذه الارقام المغرية لبلد مفلس كلبنان تصل أوامر اميركية بالبريد الدبلوماسي السريع ان الحكومة المرتقبة يجب ان لا تضم وزراء من حزب الله… هذا يعني باللغة الصريحة ان اسماء الوزراء الجدد يجب أن تنال مسبقاً موافقة السفارة الأميركية.

هذا المشروع الاميركي الجديد هو اذا مخطط لانتداب على لبنان لخمس سنوات متواصلة قابلة للتجديد عبر الهيمنة الاقتصادية او الفوضى…

اما مهامها الفعلية، فهي التوقيع على ترسيم الحدود البحرية بين لبنان وفلسطين المحتلة، وفتح ملف سلاح حزب الله، باعتبار أن اسباب وجوده لم تعد اساسية، لان ابواب المفاوضات على الحدود البرية أصبحت مفتوحة مع الكيان المحتل… وهذا يشمل بالطبع إيلاء شركة شيفرون الاميركية ومثيلاتها حقوق التنقيب في آبار الغاز اللبنانية بالتعاون مع الطبقة السياسية اللبنانية التي نهبت البلاد في الثلاثين سنة الماضية.

أليست هذه من فئة الحروب الاميركية الجديدة عبر استعمال السلاح الاقتصادي للإمساك بسياسات الدول.

لبنان اذاً أمام إرهاب اميركي غربي كبير فهل يستسلم له ام يجد وسيلة لإجهاضه؟

إن ما يحبط المشروع الخارجي المستهدف للبنان، هو اتفاق القوى السياسية اللبنانية على مسألتين: الاولى ان آبار الغاز والنفط اللبنانية هي حصراً لوقف الانهيار الاقتصادي من دون ربطها بشروط سياسية او تركها بجشع القوى السياسية الداخلية.. وهذا يتطلب إعلاناً وطنياً من الرئاسات الثلاث للدولة بتحريم أي دور لأي سياسي لبناني او من يمثله في موضوعها… وهذا يتطلب تشكيل لجنة وطنية عليا نزيهة وتدير نفسها من دون تعليمات من قوى النظام السياسي، وتعمل على المكشوف في التظهير الإعلامي المباشر للناتج وطرق إنفاقه على اولويات وطنية. وفقط من دون الغرق في لعبة توازنات الطوائف التي يتبنى فينا بعد انها توازنات في السطو على المال العام بين أحزاب الطوائف.

إن الاتفاق بين القوى السياسية يردع المشروع الاميركي ويدفعه الى تراجع كبير..

اما لجهة حزب الله فيجب الإقرار انه سلاح داخلي واقليمي يتصدى لـ«اسرائيل» والارهاب.. بمعنى ان لا امكانية لسحبه الا بعد انتهاء إرهاب يؤكد الأميركيون والأوروبيون على استمرار وجوده.

اما السبب الآخر فيتعلق بالاحتلال الاسرائيلي لأراض لبنانية وسورية واسعة. وهذا بمفرده كافٍ لدعم حزب الله في مواصلة تصديه للعدو الاسرائيلي، وإعادة تسليح الجيش اللبناني بأسلحة موازية للأخطار المحيطة بلبنان والتي تتجاوز بكل تأكيد أسلحة الشرطة التي يتباهى الأميركيون بانهم يقدمونها للبنان في حين ان كل المصادر الدولية تؤكد أن هناك خطراً أميركياً على تسليح الجيش اللبناني بأسلحة فعالة لمجابهة العدوانية الاسرائيلية.

ما يجب أن يشجع كل القوى السياسية اللبنانية على المطالبة باستمرار حزب الله للدفاع عن لبنان واللبنانيين من كل الطوائف ومصادر ثرواته.

“Democracy” vs. Covid – A No-Go

“Democracy” vs. Covid – A No-Go

October 23, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

Brussels (EU and European NATO Headquarters) – On 21 October 2020, the German Press Agency (dpa) reports that Germany pledges NATO soldiers for possible Covid-19 operations: “German soldiers could be sent on crisis missions to other NATO and partner countries during the second wave of the Corona pandemic. As a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense confirmed, the German government has promised NATO support for its “Allied Hand” emergency plan. According to this plan, medical personnel, pioneers and experts from the force would be made available for foreign missions to counter nuclear, biological or chemical hazards as required. The contingency plan is to be activated, for example, if a collapse of the health care system is imminent in allied or NATO partner countries due to very high infection rates and the affected state asks for support.”

In clear text, this means that German soldiers may be deployed on covid-related “crisis missions” to other NATO partners. Covid-restrictions and related government oppression and tyranny may lead to massive civil unrest, and German soldiers, alias German NATO soldiers, along with soldiers form other NATO countries, could help the local governments suffocate such potential people upheavals, applying military force. Live bullets and killing, if “necessary”.

In some European countries, covid-unrests already clearly visible, i.e., Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Spain – and of course, in the very Germany. Civil and societal unrest is also boiling hot in France, currently one of the most repressive regimes in the western world.

All these countries were told and brainwashed into believing they live in a “democracy” – and in a democracy what is happening to them could and should never happen. They were never asked. Their governments didn’t even bother telling them that these “measures” were for their own good. Now, they are even being told by people like Boris Johnson, British PM, not to hope to go back to “normal”. There will be no more normal as we knew it, he literally said. Instead, there will be a Great Reset.

Thereby he is aping the words of Klaus Schwab, the founder and CEO of the World Economic Forum (WEF), who just published (July 2020) a book, called “Covid-19 – The Great Reset”. The book is available on Amazon (where else!), and I highly recommend reading it, not for Schwab to get richer, but for you and us the people to know what “their” plan is. Only if we know what the plan is, we may stop it – if we organize in solidarity and resist.

There is no “democracy”, there has never been. The EU is one of the least democratic institutions there is. But, yet, we are being indoctrinated with this huge lie, we are living in a democracy. It is covid that finally brings this abject global deceit to light.

And our lie-prone politicians and their bought mainstream media, continue to praise our western beautiful democracy, while deviating our attention from the truth, by bashing wester-made enemies, like China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, North Korea – and others, just so we are blinded at home, but are told with false-propaganda that all these other countries are evil. They are evil, because they do not believe in our western greed-economy. The media does a very successful firing up of “cognitive dissonance’ – we know something is not right, but our feverish want for remaining in our comfort zone, makes us believe that we are well protected by our “elected” masters – and those, for example, in the east, who may follow another life philosophy than is ours which is made up of greed and violence – are evil.

An interesting poll, made public today in Switzerland shows that on average more than two thirds of the EU population thinks negatively about China and Russia. Why? China and Russia have never done anything harmful to Europe, to the contrary – they have offered truthful cooperation, against coerced collaboration, US-style. So, the question “Why?” is answered with the corporate paid brainwash-media.

Is this “democracy”? – Is this democratic thinking? Do these people realize that their brains have been captured years ago by a consumer-comfort propaganda and gradually converted into a submissive slave-behavior that still believes in “democracy”?
—–

The German people have not been asked whether they agree sending German troops to other countries, nor whether they should participate in NATO exercises. The truce that is in force for Germany since the end of WWII, allows no foreign intervention by German military. In fact, no formal Peace Agreement has (yet) been signed between Germany and the winning powers. The armistice accord contains a clause that dictates that Germany ought to never undertake any actions that go against the interests of the United States. This would explain, at least in part, why the German Government bends backwards over to please Washington.

But most of the Germans are oblivious to this fact.
On purpose. Because “democracy” would dictate the ethical: let the public know. Get a public debate going about the autonomy and sovereignty that Germany currently has and that she – and her people – deserve.

The decision of using German troops as NATO soldiers in other countries has nothing to do with “democracy”. It goes against the grains of democracy. Is Germany under a “covid emergency law”, which would be similar to Martial Law? As is France, Switzerland, Spain, the UK? If so, have the people been properly informed?

Switzerland has just recently extended her Covid Emergency Law until the end of 2021 – and then what? It could easily be extended again, as it was now. The law was rammed through a right-wing congress, regardless of political parties, congress men and women largely agreed. No questions asked. The people were never consulted.

Now a People’s Referendum (a privilege the Swiss still have) that would ban this so-called “Notrecht” (emergency Law), is under way. But by the time enough signatures will be assembled and the referendum will be “allowed” by the Government to be presented to the public for a vote, it may be too late to change the drastic measures that were implemented under the quasi-Martial Law.

That’s “democracy”, or is it?

France under Mr. Macron, a Rothschild gnome, has reimposed a State of Health Emergency and introduced curfews, a ban on weddings and being out in the streets is permitted only with special permits. This as the result of a “sudden and spectacular acceleration” in the spread of the coronavirus, Jean Castex, the Prime Minister said, justifying this audacious draconian measure. He added that the national COVID-19 incidence rate over the past ten days had jumped from 107 to 190 cases per 100,000 population with “particularly alarming levels” in some large cities. But who checks the figures, the statistics, how they are assembled? Nobody.

That’s “democracy”? – For disobedience fines are €135 for first offenders, rising to as much as €7,500 — and a six-month prison term. Well, is this dictatorship or what?

It is far away from “democracy” – that’s for sure. Especially if we know what covid really is – namely nothing more than closely similar to a regular flu. This is according to Anthony Fauci, chief of NIAID / NIH of the US, when he writes peer-reviewed articles in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), like “Covid-19 – Navigating the Uncharted” …. “the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.” (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejme2002387).

When Fauci speaks to the media – in countless interviews to mainstream TV – he uses the usual fear-mongering narrative of the deadliness of the corona virus.

This shows, that there is clearly a different agenda behind covid than controlling the “Pandemic”, but rather controlling the people. We ought to wake up. It’s too late to talk about reinstating “democracy”. Truth is, we never had democracy. And now we have to fight for our sheer survival as human beings. Trust me.

“Democracy” is but a wishful slogan. Democracy in today’s world certainly doesn’t exist. It never did. Not even in ancient Greece it worked, where the term was invented some 2500 years ago by well-off, but admittedly well-thinking philosophers. Democracy was always for the educated, for the fortunate and wealthy – but it never played out in truth to all of the people – to what the term in its original translation meant and means. As soon as the term democracy is given to politicians as a concept of ruling a nation to be applied, the meaning of “democracy” is vandalized into “the people choose, but the elite decides”. It is the same as of this day. Democracy is derived from the ancient Greek “demokratia,” literally meaning that power belongs to the people. It never did; and even less so today.

“The power belonging to the people” was and is conceded to the people, always to the extent that the controlling elite deems appropriate. If the people want to take over what’s theirs, the controlling elite brings out controlling forces and plays the propaganda game, misinformation, manipulated truth and outright lies. This was the case then and is practiced today in even more sophisticated ways.

Today, deceit is not just applied as the ruling elite sees fit and for personal gains, it is manufactured by algorithms, actually by Artificial Intelligence. Today’s elections, particularly in the west, are decided by oligarch or deep state-controlled algorithms. The voters play an alibi role. Not more. There is hardly any election in the (western) world which is not ultimately controlled and decided by the United States.
——

Back to the non-democratic European Union. It is using NATO troops for urban warfare, if you will. There is a not-much-talked about German / NATO military base in the small “Land” (State) of Saxony-Anhalt, not far from Hamburg. According to the German online journal “Pivot Area” (https://www.pivotarea.eu/2017/10/26/german-armed-forces-open-part-of-their-new-urban-warfare-training-city/), the urban warfare military base in “Schnöggersburg is being built since 2012. It should be finished by the end of 2020. By then it will consist of more than 500 buildings stretched over 6.25 square kilometers. The so called „urban agglomeration“, as the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) labeled its training ground, has a whole city infrastructure – i.e. a canalization (water supply and sewerage), an underground (metro) line, a train station, an industrial park, as well as a sport stadium, slums, residential areas and a high-rise district. The German MoD (Ministry of Defense) planned to invest 140 million Euros into the project (by completion, it will likely be considerably more). According to lieutenant-general Frank Leidenberger, head of the land forces innovation-department, the last decade shows the clear trend, that „warfare moves from the field to the cities.“ Therefore Schnöggersburg should give the German armed forces a supreme training ground for state of the art operations in urban scenarios. Leidenberger says also that the Bundeswehr considers its new high training city as a strategic resource to push the framework of nation concept with partner armies.”

The key phrase is “the framework of nation concept with partner armies.”  That’s where NATO comes in.

How many Germans have been democratically informed about this Monster Project? It clearly indicates that urban social unrest, on massive scale, was already foreseen way before 2012 – probably around the time that the Global Great Reset started taking form, decades ago, in the criminal heads of the all-controlling Deep Dark State; those that started this new phase of societal digitization with 9/11 in 2001, curiously also the beginning of a new western calendar landmark, the Third Millennium. Starting with 9/11, the western empire and its minions went downhill. And the East started rising.

The downhill slide will undoubtedly mean the end of the empire. But on the way there, all the most mischievous powers will be used to enslave the population, digitally and with AI, algorithms. Since this Deep Dark State has also eugenicists in its core, a massive population reduction is also part of the plan.

Monetary digitization is likewise part of the plan. In fact, it is already well under preparation, as an element of WEF’s Great Reset, or as the IMF calls it, The Great Reformation. The IMF (and the World Bank), both controlled by the US Treasury, are planning a so-called Bretton Woods 2.0, a Reset of the monetary system, where eventually the western dollar economy would be replaced by a digital crypto-currency, in which selected western currency may partake. The role of gold in it, is not clear, nor is the role of the de facto strongest currency, the Chinese Yuan.

If this as of yet hypothetical new IMF-BIS controlled crypto-currency materializes, it would most likely wipe out all US debt and make lines of credit available – perhaps in the hundreds of trillions of dollars equivalent – to help bail-out small central banks of poorer, highly indebted countries. (see also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_cL7Sv5Daw).

Would these countries’ debt base just balloon out of proportion with the new IMF-BIS bail-outs, or would they simply (have to) concede their national asset base to the IMF-BIS managed Global monster fund – to be able to limp along in “lockstep” and poverty, according to the Masters’ rules, is not clear.

In any case, be prepared, there is much to come, if, We, the People, allow the Covid-19 induced Great Reset to move forward. It is increasingly clear that covid is nothing more than an instrument for a much grander plan, The Great Reset. – the Great Reset is the antidote to “democracy”. It is a further demolition of any hope towards a “democracy”.

Fortunately, there is China, also with a new digital (crypto?) currency, in test phase, under preparation – eventually to be rolled out for international payment use, as an alternative to the dollar economy, or the new IMF-BIS treacherous US Treasury controlled crypto-currency. In contrast, the digital yuan is meant as a peaceful means of trading among equals in view of a more balanced multi-polar world. Yes, this despite the negative wester thinking about China.
The Tao life philosophy that the west doesn’t want to know or understand, is not confrontational, not even when constantly confronted by the aggressive west.

In the meantime, to escape the new monetary tyranny (from fiat dollars to fiat-fiat crypto), countries could simply retake their sovereignty, take back their national central banks, heir national currencies and start producing for local markets with local public banks and with local debt – as much as possible towards a state of self-sufficiency, with cross-border trading in local currencies. If this happens, the IMF-BIS controlled crypto currency will bite the dust.


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

بعد التكليف الضعيف للحريري‎ ‎التأليف سيكون صعباً…‏

حسن حردان

لم تأتِ نتائج الاستشارات النيابية لتسمية الرئيس سعد الدين الحريري لتولي مهمة تأليف الحكومة اللبنانية الجديدة، كما يشتهي الحريري، وقد أخفق في الحصول على أغلبية نيابية مريحة تعطيه شيكاً على بياض في عملية التشكيل، وهو أضعف من أن يفرض حكومة وفق توجهاته التي تنسجم مع التوجُّهات والرغبات الأميركية الفرنسية، المتمثلة في مطالبة لبنان بالموافقة على شروط صندوق النقد الدولي مقابل الحصول على قروض مالية مُيسّرة.

أولاً، ليس لدى الحريري غطاء مسيحي، بعد أن امتنعت كتلتا التيار الوطني الحر (أكبر كتلة في البرلمان)، وكتلة القوات اللبنانية عن تسميته، وكلّ كتلة من موقف سياسي مختلف. فالتيار رفض الموافقة على أن يشكل الحريري حكومة اختصاصيين مستقلين، لأنّ الحريري سياسي ولا تنطبق عليه صفة اختصاصي، لهذا يؤيد التيار حكومة تكنو سياسية. أما القوات فهي تصرّ على حكومة اختصاصيين مستقلة بالكامل من رئيسها إلى وزرائها، وحتى يتمكن الحريري من تأليف حكومة هو بحاجة إلى تأييد التيار الوطني، لا سيما أنّ رئيس الجمهورية ـ الشريك دستورياً في عملية التأليف ـ لن يقبل بأي حكومة لا تحترم الميثاقية وما تعنيه من ضمان عدالة تمثيل الطوائف من خلال الكتل النيابية التي تمثلها.

ثانياً، لن يكون بإمكان الحريري الحصول على موافقة حزب الله على تأليف الحكومة، إلا إذا قبل بحقّ الحزب في تسمية وزرائه من ناحية، ومعارضته العديد من شروط صندوق النقد من ناحية ثانية، واستطراداً التمسُّك بحقّ لبنان في مقاومة الاحتلال والحفاظ على كامل حقوقه في البحر والبر ورفض أيّ مساومة عليها، من ناحية ثالثة.

ثالثاً، لم يحصل الحريري على تأييد بلا شروط، من قبل بعض الكتل والنواب الذين سمّوه في الاستشارات، مثل الكتلة الأرمنية والكتلة القومية، اللتين تشترطان تمثيلهما في الحكومة بالصيغة التي يتمّ الاتفاق عليها. أما كتلة التحرير والتنمية فانها لن تقبل بأن يتفرّد الحريري في تسمية الوزراء، وهي سوف تقف مع كتلة الوفاء للمقاومة في هذا الشأن. فما رُفِض إعطاؤه لمصطفى أديب لن يُمنح للحريري، لأنّ ذلك سيعني تسليم السلطة له وهو أمر سيشكل انقلاباً سياسياً على الدستور ونتائج الانتخابات، ويحقق بالتالي رغبات واشنطن وأحلام وهي التي تقف وراء تفجير الأزمة ومحاولة توظيف الاحتجاجات في الشارع، لفرض هذا الانقلاب الذي يبدأ من تشكيل حكومة اختصاصيين مستقلين، موالية للسياسة الأميركية.

أمام هذا الواقع، فإنّ الرئيس المكلف سعد الحريري لن يكون مطلق اليدين في تشكيل الحكومة، وهو محكوم بتوازن القوى، والاستجابة لمطالب الكتل النيابية في حقها بالمشاركة في الحكومة، إن كان عبر اختصاصيين أو سياسيين، كما أنه سيكون محكوماً بالأخذ بوجهة نظر رئيس الجمهورية الذي لا يمكن تأليف الحكومة من دون موافقته على شكلها ومضمونها ومدى انسجامها مع الدستور. أما إذا أصرّ على موقفه في السعي إلى تشكيل حكومة اختصاصيين مستقلين يسمّي هو وزراءها، والتمسك بإعطائه شيكاً على بياض لتطبيق البرنامج الإصلاحي للمبادرة الفرنسية وفق رؤيته، وعلى أساس قبول شروط صندوق النقد الدولي، فإنه سيواجه صعوبة في ذلك، بل إنه سيفشل بكلّ تأكيد، ويتبيّن عندها أنّ تشكيل حكومة وفاق، مرتبط بحصول الحريري على ضوء أخضر أميركي، وأنّ الضوء لن يظهر قبل انتهاء الانتخابات الأميركية وإعلان نتائجها، لذلك من المتوقع أنّ الرئيس الحريري سوف يستهلك هذه الفترة في المشاورات التي سيجريها مع الكتل النيابية والأطراف والقوى السياسية، ومن ثم الانتظار ريثما يتضح موقف الإدارة الأميركية بعد الانتخابات، رفعاً للفيتو، أم المضيّ فيه، وبالتالي استمرار أزمة تأليف الحكومة.

ما كان لافتاً هو مسارعة مساعد وزير الخارجية الأميركي ديفيد شينكر إلى التذكير بسيف العقوبات بعد تكليف الحريري، ما يعني أنّ واشنطن تعارض حكومة توافق، وهي مستمرة في سياسة الضغط بواسطة الحصار المالي وسلاح العقوبات لمحاولة تمكين الحريري من فرض تشكيل حكومة اختصاصيين مستقلين.

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The Death of the Nation State has been somewhat exaggerated (Part 2)

The Death of the Nation State has been somewhat exaggerated (Part 2)

October 12, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

Globalization – i.e., neo-liberalism writ large – is essentially a negative phenomenon destroying the sovereignty and cohesion of nation states and thereby depriving markets of the social and political guidance without which they cannot function effectively…The result will be a socially divisive, politically destructive, ethically abhorrent and even economically inefficient structure.(1)

JOINED AT THE HIP

Transnational Corporations (TNCs) can be compared to a tree: they have extensive branches everywhere, but their roots are firmly based at National HQ. Of late this has become a disputed view. One of the contemporary clichés in the current discussion of global political economy is the rather dubious concept of the end of the nation state and the subsequent breaking of the shackles which had hitherto tied TNCs to specific geographical and legal locations. It has been argued that these organizations have moved beyond the control of nation states who can no longer exercise effective jurisdiction over their activities.

This ‘state-denial’ thesis has been articulated by the influential hyper-globalist faction ensconced in the financial press, academic economics departments and political parties. In a ‘borderless’ world the state apparently no longer matters; economic power has shifted from sovereign states to global markets. In the words of the German political and social theorist, Wolfgang Streeck, ‘Markets were once fitted into states; now states are fitted into markets.’(2)This change has involved a global transmutation which reputedly has been brought about by the invention of revolutionary technologies in transport and communications. Such is the thesis put forward by the spokespersons of globalization.

True to say that in general terms all states have to choose a global strategy; they have to look at the full range of choices, then they have to decide what is in their best interests. In the current era of global competition, trade liberalization via the market remains the riskiest choice of all. It demands that trade barriers of all kinds be dismantled – the EU model being the archetype. With this policy governments have to let international competitive pressures restructure industries without recourse to state aids or other protectionist methods. This requires states to open their borders regardless of the costs and consequences in industries and vulnerable workers. Russia in the 1990s was a textbook example of what would happen if a state opened its economy too early, namely, a massive economic contraction. In the official textbooks among the neo-classical scribblers in academe and the media, markets are seen to be self-organizing social and economic space responding to universal demand and supply signals.

For countries which accept this view of the world economy, state power to make policy independent of a country’s major trading partner is being progressively eroded as countries find themselves trapped in a seamless web of interdependency. Larger markets do not come without a cost. This much is axiomatic.

Since the 2008 crisis, however, and now the 2020 blowout the state-denialist view has been more difficult if not actually impossible to sustain. It was after all the allegedly redundant state (or states) which pulled capitalism’s chestnuts out of the fire with the bail-out of insolvent American banks in 2008. As the story goes, during the meeting between Obama and the Wall Street elite at the height of the 2008 crisis the President apparently remarked that it was only himself who stood between the assembled financial movers and shakers of Wall Street and ‘the pitchforks’. The US government also ponied up some US$50 billion to bail out distressed auto manufacturers General Motors and Ford who were based in ‘Motor City’ (Detroit). Detroit itself was also bankrupt but the Federal government was unable to find an additional US$13 billion to bail out the city itself. Maybe – just a thought – because the population of Motor City was largely African-American.

However, the received wisdom emanating from the neoliberal elite has been challenged with a more critical assessment coming from heterodox economic theorists.

As follows.

‘’Contrary to the globalist supposition and as a matter of fact, the (sovereign) state always has, and continues to be the mobilizing force in shaping and guiding national economic development, including globalization itself. Given that an increased capability to overcome geographical distance made possible by technological innovations in transport and communication technologies is of little use if there are political barriers to such movements. Thus, policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatisation were necessary to overcome non-technical barriers to the free flow of labour, capital, and commodities. Therefore, the enabling force of globalization was the state. In fact, the bigger and more powerful states have used globalization as a means of increasing their own power and interests.

States actively construct globalization and use it as soft geo-politics and to acquire greater power over, and autonomy from, their national economies and societies respectively … E.g. … The US and G7s other dominant members design and establish the international trade agreements, organizations, and legislation that support and govern trans-border investments, production networks, and market penetration constitutive of contemporary globalization. Advanced capitalist states, particularly, use these political instruments to shape international economic decision making and policy making in their interests.’’ (3)

In addition, nation-states protect, subsidize, manipulate currencies, impose quotas, sanctions, give tax breaks and exemptions to export industries, R&D, and grant patents, use procurement policies and intellectual property rights to their indigenous corporations to both protect their home markets and help them penetrate overseas markets. This is laughingly described as ‘free trade’. States and corporations are not antipodes they are twins, and arguably the state is the senior partner in this arrangement.

For example, in 1934 the Roosevelt administration passed the Glass-Steagall Act. This involved a forced separation of investment banking from commercial banking which stopped banks speculating with depositors’ monies. In 1999, however, Bill Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act, commonly known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, repealing the key components of Glass-Steagall whose articles became largely toothless. This was what Wall Street had been angling for and which gave an additional push to the eventual debacle in 2008.

The state giveth, and the state taketh away.

Thus, the notion that powerful trends of internationalization and interdependence have ended national sovereignty is vastly overstated. States remain in charge of the essential part of their national sovereignty: monetary policy, (except in the Eurozone of course) law-making, macroeconomic policy, finance and taxation, environment, education, labour markets, industrial relations, pensions, health and welfare, social policy, science and technology and so forth. Arguably no supra-national entity has yet been designed to replace what has been an effective system of national government. Unimpeded global flows of capital in search of lucrative investment opportunities, are hardly conducive for countries wishing to plan and stabilize their future free from the vagaries of uncontrolled markets

TENSIONS

Power to shape/control the global system is concentrated in the hands of states and/or the newly emergent TNCs. Of course, there is not going to be a simple description of this development as the relationship between these two pillars of modern imperialism is both fractious and permanently mutating. The received wisdom, as put forward by the various spokespersons for globalization, ranging from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) OECD, WTO, World Bank and IMF, and through the globalist house journals of the global Transnational Uberklasse – The Financial Times, The Economist and Wall Street Journal – is predictable enough. Namely that the state is always in a subservient position vis-à-vis the dominant TNCs.

This perhaps would qualify as a procrustean effort to make the facts fit the theory. Contrary to the image of the all-powerful TNC demanding fealty and obedience from prostrate states, the relationship is somewhat more symmetrical; corporations and states are always to a certain degree joined at the hip.

They are both competitive and competing, both supportive and conflictual. They operate in a fully dialectical relationship, locked into unified but contradictory roles and positions, neither one nor the other partner completely able to dominate.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Additionally, the widespread notion that a TNC can simply up sticks and move lock, stock, and barrel to a more compatible venue if its home base no longer suits its purposes, is fanciful in the extreme. All TNCs have home bases, national HQs. Here is where global strategy is determined; here is where top-end R&D is carried out; here is where design and marketing strategies take place; here is where the domestic market is situated and where long-term domestic suppliers are located; here is where overseas operations are conceived planned and carried through; here is where AGMs of the Corporations takes place with published accounts circulated to all shareholders; here is where the local workforce, at all levels, is recruited; here is where the political bureaucracy and the above mentioned institutions are situated and amenable to lobbying. Picking an obvious example, the US defence industries, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics, Boeing, are all based domestically and are not, even if they could, going to jump ship anytime soon.

It is unquestionably true that TNCs and states often have divergent goals: TNCs’ primary function is to maximise profits and enhance shareholder value, whereas the economic role of the state should be to maximise the economic welfare of its society. But although this conflictual relationship exists, states and TNCs need and lean on each other in a variety of ways. States might wish that TNCs are bound by allegiance to national borders – and in many ways they are (see above) – but total allegiance is not an option in a liberal capitalist economy. Indeed, it would be true to say that some states regard TNC (activities) as being complementary to their foreign policy. Here economic issues merge with geopolitical imperatives. For example, American political leaders have believed that the national interest has also been served by the foreign expansion of US corporations in manufacturing and services. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been considered a major instrument through which the US could maintain its relative position in world markets – as is of course the US$ acting as the world’s reserve currency – with the overseas expansion of TNCs being regarded as a means to maintain America’s dominant world position. As it was succinctly stated. ’What’s good for General Motors is Good for America’.

THE EU: SUPRANATIONAL OR NATIONAL STATES.

Which brings me to the EU. The state-declinist thesis seems to have gained a considerable traction in Europe among the orthodox left. No less a personage than Yanis Varoufakis – the initiator of DiEM2025 (Democracy in Europe) – has been reading the last rites of state democracy and sovereignty in Europe. Apparently, the model of politics based on the nation state is ‘finished’. The sovereignty of national parliaments has been dissolved. Today, national electoral mandates are impossible to fulfil. Hence, reform of the European institutions (specifically the Euro Parliament), is the only remaining option.

Essentially this is the latest version of the TINA ‘argument’, (there is no alternative), pioneered by Mrs Thatcher and rolled out with monotonous regularity ever since by every cornered establishment politician, both left and right. As has been noted elsewhere. ‘’Tell the population that the nation-state is ‘finished,’ that it is unable to guarantee full employment (or to work towards it) and you free yourself of the responsibility of even trying.’’ The same goes for austerity or anything else. If the nation state is ‘kaput’ it is futile to oppose it.’’(4)

Globalization, however, is far from being the all-powerful and all- encompassing Leviathan postulated by the declinists. ’There are major cultural and linguistic differences that preclude a full mobilisation of resources across national borders. There is ‘home bias in investment portfolios. There is a high correlation between national investment rates and national saving rates. Capital flows between rich and poor nations fall considerably short of what theoretical models predict. There are still severe restrictions to the international mobility of labour. The truth is that we do not live in a completely globalised world, far from it. Ergo, nation-states can pursue their own fiscal and monetary policies.

Ex-leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn’s (quite moderate) policy proposals, during the 2017 and 2019 UK elections, namely, peoples’ QE, renationalisation of the Railways, taking into public ownership the energy and water industries together with the Royal Mail were not beyond the scope of the UK qua sovereign and democratic state. Additionally, these policies found considerable support among the UK’s population at large. (5) Unfortunately Corbyn’s programme was derailed by pro-EU elements in the Parliamentary Labour Party, the MSM and a vicious and mendacious ‘antisemitic’ smear campaign aimed at Corbyn. But this doesn’t alter the fact that a sovereign country can issue its own currency and formulate its own fiscal and monetary policy that can override the EU neo-liberal package of free movement of labour, capital, and commodities. This in addition to blocking the drive to deregulate labour markets (euphemistically, ‘flexibilization’). The sovereign state is perfectly capable of a policy for growth rather than for continued austerity which has become the hallmark of the EU area. But to carry out such growth policies would require an exit from the EU. There’s the rub. Social-democratic policies are incompatible to the EU’s liberal orientation, which is a structurally, neo-liberal capitalist institution.

The euro has in fact simply been designed to ensure that Germany runs a permanent trade surplus whilst the southern periphery runs continuing trade deficits – a simple accounting identity. Eventually something will have to give. It is also noticeable that Germany seems to be harbouring increasingly regional hegemonic ambitions regarding the rest of Europe. It seems to be positioning itself as the EUs anti-Russian key front-line probably with US backing. Euro state Socialism or even tepid social democracy can never truly thrive within such a hostile and increasingly militarised political environment. But that’s another explosive can of worms.

The position of the globalist left as outlined in the DiEM2025 manifesto, however, seems like a back-to-front attempt to by-pass national institutions and to attempt through a supra-national democracy to make fundamental reforms, through a democratised and strengthened EU. But even Varoufakis regards this as being ‘utopian.’ But he continues, it is ‘a lot more realistic than trying to maintain the system as it is’ or ‘trying to leave.’ (6)

More realistic, really? But this begs the obvious question of why such an entity is going to be any different from the present dispensation; will be any less neo-liberal and undemocratic if it is given greater powers and is integrated further? It seems to make more sense to work from the national to the supra-national level than the other way around – particularly given that most states in the EU are governed by centre right coalitions with social-democrats in tow (but acting like centre right liberals). Moreover, the transfer of local democracy – which we are told is now obsolete – to supranational democracy contributes to a weakening of popular control. This leapfrogging of national democracy to supranational democracy perforce requires a supranational electorate. This is problematic however since for the great majority of ordinary European citizens linguistic barriers and cultural differences impair the opportunity for political participation at a supra-national level. And so the dialogue, such as it is, goes on – ad nauseam.

This should not be considered a mere academic nit-picking issue for Socratic Senior Common Room dialogue. It is the key geopolitical issue of the day, as to whether sovereign nation states can determine their own future and political structures and policies, against the globalist project to turn the world into a borderless playground for international finance, corporate hegemony and the corollary of extinguishing democracy.

IDEOLOGICAL INTEGRATION OF STATES INTO NEOLIBERAL MARKET THEORY

But perhaps a more disturbing feature of the state/economy relationship has been the ongoing and gradual privatisation of the state itself. The role of the state has traditionally been a provider of public goods – education, healthcare, culture, parks, libraries, museums, transport infrastructure, including water, energy, forests and national parks, defence, law and order and judiciary, telecommunications, egalitarian social policies and so forth. The role of the market qua economy is to produce private goods and services for sale on a market. There has always been a tension between ‘the commons’- i.e., that which is public and open for everyone to use – and ‘commodification’ which turns things into commodities for private ownership and money-making. To use Marxist terminology, the commons has use-value, not an exchange-value (a market price) simply because it is not – and by definition cannot be – a commodity that can be bought, sold, or commercialised. The elevation of use-value over exchange-value is integral to the commons.

Throughout history, powerful interests have sought to privatise, close, and commodify the commons whether land, other spaces, amenities, or even intellectual ideas – to contrive scarcity and create income-earning assets. To the extent to which the succeeding enclosure and privatisation drives up rental income and proliferate its sources, increasing private riches while eroding public wealth. Such asset-stripping, rent-seeking behaviour by private companies intent on rent-extraction is not only tolerated by public authorities but actually encouraged.

Other examples of this have been the government/private sector liaison whereby private companies are now employed by the government to perform the role which was once the prerogative of governments. These government/private financial arrangements were called Private Financial Initiatives PFIs or Public Private Partnerships PPPs and were operationalised in both the UK and Australia. These predatory organizations were simply looking for public authority institutions to milk. Their incompetence – and outright looting – was legendary. The privatisation of British Rail, for example, led to increased accidents, higher costs, monopolistic rents (in terms of ticket prices), overcrowded trains, and failure to meet the timetable criteria.

In Australia, a report by the New South Wales Auditor General in 2002 warned of the considerable risks associated with the outsourcing of information technology and of the need to ensure that agencies are clear why they should do so. The previously inconceivable opportunities for the security of private information, collected and held by governments to be compromised, opening the way for identity fraud and held by governments was dramatically exposed in November 2007, when the British Department of Revenue and Customs was unable to account for two compact disks which had been sent through the mail at the National Audit Office. These disks contained highly detailed personal information concerning the 25 million citizens who received child benefits, information which included their addresses and bank account numbers, along with details of their children.

This was not an unusual occurrence it was simply another example – among many – of the ongoing rip-off of the public taxpayer by rent-seeking marauders. The market is always right, always works best, and always delivers the goods, or so it is ordained. Such is the categorical imperative of neoliberalism.

Coming full circle, the point of arrival involves a recognition that the relationship between (usually capitalist) states and markets has been a permanent and alternating process which started with the industrial revolutions in western Europe and North America. On the one side there are the permanent state bureaucracies and organizations which function as the basis for the production of public goods, and the national interest as they define it. This is complemented by the free-wheeling, cosmopolitan, financial and corporate interests whose outlook and policies are global as well as national and whose objectives are both practical and ideological. Practical in the sense that their motives are commercial and predicated on the imperative of growth and development not necessarily restricted to their national base. Ideological in terms of their neo-liberal Weltanschauung.

It was the great American social and political theorist C. Wright Mills who postulated the existence of what he called, The Power Elite as early as 1956. The American elite groups were composed of most importantly The Corporate Rich, The Warlords and The Political Directorate which together with various lower ranking sub-elite groups controlled the United States. State and Economy have to an extent always coexisted, their positions and influence moving back and forth, but in recent years (circa 1980) there has been – to put it mildly – a marked tendency of power and influence to tilt away from the state and toward the corporate/commercial configurations. Whether this trend will continue is an open question; but it would not be amiss to assert that nothing goes on forever.

NOTES

(1)Manfred Bienefeld – Is a Strong National Economy a Utopian Goal at the end of the 20th Century? – States Against Markets – pp. 434,435

(2) Wolfgang Streeck – ‘Buying Time’ – The Democratic Crisis Of Democratic Capitalism. ‘

(3) M. Gritsch – (2005: 2-3) (Nye 2002) Quoted in – The State Really Does Matter, Global Shift 2012 – p.223

(4) Picciotto, S. 1991 The Internationalisation of the State – Capital and Class 43.43-63 – quoted in Global Shift 2012– Peter Dicken)

(5) Although it should be said that the 2019 – the Brexit election – was very much watered down to the policies of the electoral manifesto of 2017.

(6) The IndependentUK Newspaper

(7) In Government We Trust – Market Failure and the Delusions of Privatisation. pp.90

Sayyed Nasrallah to Macron: You’re Not Lebanon’s Ruler, Hezbollah Open to the French Initiative… US behind Failure

Sayyed Nasrallah to Macron: You’re Not Lebanon’s Ruler, Hezbollah Open to the French Initiative… US behind Failure

Zeinab Essa

Beirut-Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Tuesday a televised speech in which he tackled various internal and regional issues.

At the beginning of his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah offered condolences to Kuwait and its people over the demise of Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah. “The late Kuwaiti leader played a personal and major role in ending Lebanon’s civil war. The Lebanese people neither forget the role of the late Emir in ending the civil war, nor the Kuwaiti role during the July 2006 war, supporting Lebanon and reconstructing it” he said, noting that “Kuwait still maintains its honorable stance towards Al-Quds and Palestine, unlike the train of normalization.”

Meanwhile, His Eminence praised the coherent stance of Kuwait under its late Emir against pressures on Gulf nations to join normalization with the Zionist entity.

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah hailed the efforts and sacrifices of the Lebanese army and forces that had recently confronted the armed terrorist groups in Northern Lebanon. “The armed groups in north Lebanon were plotting major military action against the country.”

He further offered condolences to the Lebanese army and the families of the martyrs that have fallen in the battle. “We have previously warned against the attempts to revive Daesh [Arabic Acronym for the terrorist ‘ISIS’/’ISIL’ group] again in Iraq and Syria, and it is natural that preparations began in Lebanon to justify the American forces’ presence in the region,” His Eminence added, pointing out that “After the assassination of martyrs [Qasim] Soleimani and [Abu Mahdi] al-Muhandis, Washington started reviving Daesh.”

In parallel, the Resistance Leader declared Hezbollah appreciates the popular position in the north and the people’s rallying around the army and security forces.

According to His Eminence, “Washington is trying to justify its continuous presence in the region under the pretext of the international coalition to fight Daesh, which it seeks to revive in the region.”

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah underscored that “The “Israeli” enemy’s army is still at the highest level of alert and is still hiding, and this is the longest period that the occupation army lives in this way without having its soldiers moving [from their places].”

Reiterating that Hezbollah still intends to retaliate to the martyrdom of one of its fighters in Syria, the Resistance Leader responded to “Israeli” PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims that Hezbollah is storing missiles near a gas station.

On this level, Sayyed Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah Media Relations is to invite local media outlets to the site at 22:00, to let the world discover his lies.

“We’re not obliged to invite journalists to any site mentioned by Netanyahu, but we are doing this now due to the sensitivity of the situation after the August 4 explosion,” he stressed, noting that c.”

According to His Eminence, “Our measure is to make the Lebanese people aware amid the battle of consciousness, and to let them know that we don’t put our missile between residential houses.”

On the political front, Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted that “The French initiative was published and we all agreed on it. We said we support it. The first step was to name a PM.”

“The work has started and the parliamentary blocs started to consult to agree on naming Hariri or whomever he names. Meanwhile, the club of the four former PMs was formed. We did not put any conditions when Mustafa Adib was nominated and did not make any prior agreement to show our intention to facilitate the process,” he recalled.

His Eminence went on to say, “There are those who said that the designated PM would hold negotiations, but the parliamentary blocs and the president of the republic have not been contacted.”

Moreover, Hezbollah Secretary General disclosed that “Adib did not consult with the President of the Republic, a prepared file was handed to him, and the most important authority for the President- i.e. to participate in forming the government- would have been dropped out.”

“The French must know where they erred, especially as to eliminating the President’s most important remaining power, which is participation in the formation of governments,” he added, noting that “The one who negotiated with us over the government wasn’t Adib, but PM Saad Hariri.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also mentioned that “The naming of ministers for all sects in Lebanon by a single person is dangerous for the country. The Ex-PMs club wanted to distribute portfolios and name the ministers alone.”

“Some wanted to eliminate the parliamentary blocs and the President’s powers and they sought to introduce new norms,” he stated, pointing out that “When we asked whether the French initiative included what was proposed by the club of ex-PMs, we were answered by ‘NO’.”

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed that “We rejected what was presented to us because it forms a threat to the country and is not a subject of discussion. The French initiative neither mentions the number of ministers nor the rotation of portfolios.”

His Eminence underlined that “At one point there was an attempt to form a de-facto government. The way things were tackled with regard to the government is unacceptable in Lebanon, regardless of its sponsor or supporter.”

“We have always said that the reason for our presence in the government is to protect the back of the resistance,” he added, warning that “The coercion method does not work in Lebanon, regardless of its advocates and sponsors, be them the US, France or Europe.”

On the same level, Sayyed Nasrallah reminded that Hezbollah “must be in the government to protect the back of the resistance so that May 5, 2008 will not be repeated in Lebanon,” noting that “The second reason behind our participation in the government is fearing for what has remained from Lebanon economically, nationally and on all other levels.”

“What if a government accepts the conditions of the IMF without any discussions? Do we agree on a government that increases taxes on citizens? What if a new government decides to sell the state’s assets,” he asked, statin, “We fear for the state property and people’s money.”

Meanwhile, His Eminence addressed the French President Emanuel Macron by saying: “Did the French initiative say that the ex-PMs form the government and name ministers? Hajj Mohammad Raad told Macron that we agree to 90% of the French initiative, and here we ask, what is it that we agreed upon and did not respect? What you are asking from us contradicts with democracy. You are asking the parliamentary majority to bow and cede power to the parliamentary minority.”

To Macron, Sayyed Nasrallah sent a clear message: “Look for the party that wanted to control the country and eliminate the political forces under your cover. President Macron, who accused us of intimidation, is the one who practiced the intimidation policy against the heads of parties in order to pass the government.”

He also emphasized that Hezbollah “prevented the country from moving towards the worse, and we hope that the Lebanese will cooperate so that the country doesn’t move into the worst.”

Explaining that Hezbollah has not committed to hand over the country to any kind of government, he told the French President: “We know how we adhere to our promises, fulfill it and sacrifice in order to abide by it. Our enemies and friends know that we honor our pledges. We upset our friends to fulfill our promises.”

Once again, he repeated that Hezbollah “did not go to Syria to fight civilians. We went there at the invitation of the Syrian government to fight the groups that you named as terrorists.”

“It was not us who chose war, the Zionists rather occupied our land and attacked us,” he told Macron, stressing that “We do not accept that anyone speaks to us in this language. A settlement is different than surrender. We do not practice the game of terrorism and intimidation against anyone in Lebanon. We do not practice intimidation, but Arab countries that you protect and are friendly to you, doesn’t allow a tweet that criticizes the king to be written.”

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah said: ‘Iran doesn’t interfere in Lebanon, and we in Hezbollah and Amal Movement decide what to do.”

He further sent the French President a clear advice: “If you want to search for those who thwarted your initiative, look for the Americans who imposed sanctions and complicated the situation.”

In a sounding message, His Eminence stated: “We do not accept the arrogant behavior and that you accuse us and other Lebanese with committing treason. We welcomed the role of President Macron and the French initiative to help Lebanon but not to be an Attorney General, inspector, judge, guardian or governor of Lebanon. There isn’t any mandate neither for the French president nor for others to be guardian or ruler of Lebanon.”

However, Sayyed Nasrallah kept the door open for discussion: “We still support the French initiative, but the language must be reconsidered because what was attacked the last two days ago is the national dignity,” he said, noting that “We are still open to the French initiative for the benefit of our country, and we insist on cooperation to pass from bad to good.”

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah hailed the stance of the Bahraini people despite oppression and risks, particularly the Bahraini scholars’ rejection of Al-Khalifa regime’s normalization with the “Israeli” enemy.

“The stance of the Bahraini people is honorable and [truly] represents the people of Bahrain. The authority in Bahrain doesn’t own its decision, it rather operates as a Saudi-affiliated state,” he said, pointing out that “The people of Bahrain, despite their wounds, and despite the presence of many of their leaders and symbols behind bars, have said their resounding word of truth in the era of silence, subservience and submission.”

He also warned of Sudan’s move towards normalization.

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah hailed the official and popular stances of Tunisia and Algeria against the normalizations, and urged the Sudanese people not to accept being part of the normalization under the pretext of lifting its name from the “terror list”.

“We’re not worried about all what is happening in the region as long as the Palestinian people keep adhering to their rights,” he assured.

سيّد الكرامة وروح المسؤوليّة

ناصر قنديل

لم يكن ممكناً أن يمرّ كلام الرئيس الفرنسي أمانويل ماكرون، بما فيه من رواية لوقائع مفاوضات تأليف الحكومة التي تولاها علناً الرئيس المكلّف مصطفى أديب، وقادها فعلياً نادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين كحزب حاكم جديد، من دون أن تقدّم المقاومة وحزب الله رواية موازية من موقع الشريك الكامل في صناعة الوقائع، والشاهد عن كثب وقرب لهذه الوقائع، ومن طالته سهام الاتهام وفقاً لرواية ماكرون. كما لم يكن ممكناً كلام ماكرون ألا يلقى تعليقاً وتفنيداً وتحليلاً من جانب حزب الله، طالما أن المعلوم للقاصي والداني، أنه كما كانت الأزمة التي تعصف بلبنان في شق رئيسيّ منها ثمرة قرار أميركي بإسقاط لبنان أملاً بأن يسقط حزب الله، وفقاً لكلام حرفي قاله ماكرون، فإن المبادرة الفرنسية التي قادها ماكرون تتركّز بنسبة كبيرة منها على فتح الطريق لمقاربة مختلفة للعلاقة مع حزب الله، وبالتالي يحتل حزب الله موقعاً موازياً لموقع ماكرون في الوقوف على طرفي ثنائية تمسك بخيوط المشهد، ما يعني أن مسار المقاربة للعلاقة الفرنسية بحزب الله يشكل المحور الحاكم لمسار المبادرة الفرنسيّة. وبعد سماع كلام ماكرون، لا بد من أن يخرج صوت حزب الله، لتكتمل صورة الثنائية وتتركز عناصر المعادلة.

بالتوازي مع هذا الاعتبار السياسي يحضر بقوة اعتبار أخلاقي ومعنوي وقيمي، ربما تزيد قيمته عن قيمة الاعتبار السياسي، فالحزب الذي يمثل المقاومة بكل قيمها وروح التضحية التي تمثلها، لن يصمت وقد تركزت عليه سهام ماكرون بصفته واحداً من أحزاب السلطة، ومن المتربّحين من المال العام، والمتعيّشين على المصالح الطائفية، والذين يفضلون مصالحهم على حساب مصالح شعبهم، وصولاً للدفع بحزب الله الأبعد بين أقرانه عن السلطة ومغانمها ومكاسبها وفسادها، لتصدُّر واجهة المستهدفين بالتهم السوداء، خصوصاً عندما يكون الاتهام بهذه اللغة الرعناء، وهذا التعالي المفعم بروح المستعمر، وعقل الوصاية، وما بين السطور من أستذة تدعو المقاومة للاختيار بين ما أسماه ماكرون بالخيار الأسوأ، وبين الديمقراطية، لمقاومة نال حزبها الرئيسي ديمقراطياً أعلى نسبة تصويت بين الأحزاب اللبنانية.

إطلالة الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله التي جاءت في سياق ممارسة هذا الحق وهذا الواجب، تضمنت من حيث الشكل تحجيماً لكلام ماكرون، حيث توزع كلام السيد نصرالله على ملفات عدة، من تعزية الكويت برحيل أميرها، إلى تنامي خطر داعش منذ جريمة داعش الإرهابية في بلدة كفتون، وصولاً للتوقف بلغة التحدي أمام مزاعم رئيس حكومة الاحتلال بنيامين نتنياهو حول وجود مستودعات صواريخ في منطقة الجناح قرب منشآت الغاز، فكانت دعوة فورية لوسائل الإعلام للملاقاة في المكان، إسقاطاً لمشروع تشويش على الإطلالة أراده نتنياهو قبل دقائق من موعدها، ليأتي الردّ على طريق يوم ساعر، انظروا إليها إنها في البحر تحترق، ليصل بهدوء إلى الملف الحكومي وفي قلبه كلام ماكرون، وبدا أنه يتعمّد عدم منح كلام ماكرون مكانة الصدارة من خلال الدخول الى كلامه من سردية تفصيلية لمسار العملية الحكومية والتعامل مع المبادرة الفرنسية من جميع الأطراف ومن ضمنها حزب الله، وثنائي حزب الله وحركة أمل، كاشفاً بالتفاصيل كيف تحوّلت الحكومة من مشروع إنقاذ قائم على تشارك الجميع خارج قضايا الخلاف الى مشروع انقلاب واستفراد بالحكم من خراج الدستور والأعراف لصالح جهة ذات لون واحد سياسي وطائفي، بقوة التهديد بالعقوبات والعصا الفرنسية، وبتغطية فرنسيّة تحت شعار السعي لإنجاح المبادرة، بلغة التهديد بالعواقب الوخيمة، وصولاً لحكومة تستعيد مسار حكومة 5 أيار 2008، والتآمر على المقاومة، لتصير الحكومة حكومة مهمة حدّدها الملك سلمان بنزع سلاح حزب الله، وليست حكومة المهمة التي تحدّث عنها ماكرون ووافق عليها الجميع. وهذا ما لا يمكن التساهل مع تكراره مرة أخرى، فلن تقبل حكومة الانقلاب ولن تقبل حكومة توقِّع من دون نقاش على شروط مجحفة لصندوق النقد الدولي، أو حكومة تبيع اصول الدولة، وحكومة تفرض ضرائب مرهقة على اللبنانيين، وكل ذلك كان يجري بشراكة فرنسا وتحت عباءة تهديداتها، متسائلاً هنا من الذي لجأ للتهديد والترويع، فرنسا ماكرون أم حزب الله؟

بكل هدوء، انتقل السيد إلى مناقشة كلام الرئيس الفرنسي، طارحاً السؤال المفتاح، هل القضايا التي سقطت عندها الحكومة كانت من ضمن المبادرة الفرنسية، أم هي قضايا وعناوين ابتدعها نادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين وحدهم، مورداً جواباً رسمياً فرنسياً يؤكد أن ما طرحه نادي الرباعي جاء من خارج المبادرة، ليسأل إذا كيف يكون الجميع مسؤولاً؟ والسؤال الأهم، ما هي عهود المقاومة التي تنكّرتْ لها، أليس ما قام به حزب الله وحلفاؤه ورئيس الجمهورية هو عين التسهيل المطلوب، وهو عين الوفاء بالوعود والعهود، وللمقاومة سجل حافل بمصداقية الوفاء بالوعود والعهود؟ أما الدعوة للاختيار بين ما أسماه ماكرون بالخيار الأسوأ والديمقراطية، فجوابها واضح بالتمسك بحقوق الغالبية النيابية بمنع انقلاب بعض الأقلية النيابية لوضع اليد على البلد في ظلال المبادرة الفرنسية عكس المسار الديمقراطي، والمقاومة عنوان خاطئ لكل توصيفات ماكرون حول الفساد والمصالح، وعنوان خاطئ حول السلاح وتوظيفه في السياسة، والمقاومة لم تشهر سلاحها إلا رداً لعدوان أو مواجهة لاحتلال، أو تصدياً لإرهاب.

تفوق السيد نصرالله على ماكرون بالقيمة المضافة لا بفائض القوة، بقوة الحق لا بحق القوة، بالوقائع والحقائق ودقة التدقيق لا بالمزاعم والتوهّمات والتلفيق. تفوّق السيد نصرالله بحفظ الكرامة من دون حرب، وخاض ماكرون حرباً فقد فيها كرامته، فرض السيد نصاً تفسيرياً لمبادرة خانها صاحبها، ووضع آلية لإنقاذها من تخاذل كان يصاحبها. ورسم السيد سياق الصداقة خارج نفاق المواربة خشية ترهيب أو طلباً لترغيب، وخسر ماكرون فرصة صداقة لأنه تحت ترهيب حليف وترغيب مغانم حليف آخر، لكن رغم كل ذلك مد السيد يده لكلمة سواء، وأغلق باب الهدم وفتح مجدداً باباً واسعاً لخيار البناء، فانتصر السيد بكلام في قمة المسؤولية من موقع خارج المسؤولية الرسمية على كلام بعيد عن المسؤولية من أعلى مواقع المسؤولية الرسمية، ورمى الكرة في ملعب ماكرون قائلاً، لمن قالوا إن كلمة ماكرون تعادل كش ملك لحزب الله، إن اللعبة مفتوحة ولم تنته، والرمية التالية لرئيس فرنسا فإن أحسن لاقيناه وإن أساء فليلاقينا.

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هكذا تحاصر أميركا لبنان وسورية اقتصادياً ومالياً 1/2

باريس – نضال حمادة

مسؤول سابق في صندوق النقد الدولي يقول: احتياط مصرف لبنان 2.5 مليار دولار والباقي دولارات رقمية…

نعود بك أيها القارئ الكريم إلى مقالة «البناء» في شهر تشرين الثاني الماضي بعنوان (مسؤول سابق في صندوق النقد الدولي عشرات ملايين الدولارات تخرج يومياً من لبنان إلى أربيل). عُدنا والتقينا هذا المسؤول السابق في باريس وهو من أصل عربي ليحدّثنا عن تشاؤمه بمستقبل الوضع في لبنان، اقتصادياً وسياسياً وربما أمنياً حسب قوله، يشير إلى أن الأميركي ترك الفرنسي يتحرك قليلاً ثم وضع أمامه كل العراقيل التي يتصوّرها والتي لا يتصوّرها، وبالتالي النتيجة هي أن فرنسا وحدها لا يمكن لها ان تنقذ الوضع في لبنان من دون رضا أميركا.

يقول المسؤول المالي إن احتياطي مصرف لبنان يبلغ مليارين ونصف مليار دولار نقداً، بينما بقيت المليارات هي عبارة عن أرقام على الكمبيوتر لا أكثر، ومصرف لبنان أمام أكثر من معضلة فهو لا يمكن له أن يحوّل هذه الأرقام الى ليرة لبنانية لأنه رقمياً يكون قد خسر كل احتياطه الوهميّ من الدولارات. وهذا ما سوف يسرّع الانهيار المالي، مضيفاً أن مبلغ «الكاش» الموجود يكفي لاستيراد الحاجات الأساسية من النفط والدواء والقمح حتى آخر السنة الحالية.

الاقتصاد السوري تأثر بالانهيار اللبناني، حيث يقول المسؤول المالي الدولي السابق، هناك 40 مليار دولار تعود لرجال أعمال وتجار سوريين. وهذا كل ما يملكونه كانوا وضعوه في المصارف اللبنانية، والآن بعد اكتشاف النهب الذي تعرّضت له ودائعهم أصبحوا من دون إمكانيات للاستيراد وبالتالي انكشف الوضع السوري اقتصادياً كالوضع اللبناني على أزمات تمويل عمليات الاستيراد. وبالتالي شهدنا أزمات متزامنة من نقص في المحروقات في لبنان وسورية، وهذا كان عملاً مقصوداً ومدروساً بعناية، فالنظام المصرفي اللبناني استُخدم معبراً لسحب كميات العملة الصعبة الموجودة في لبنان وسورية تمهيداً لإسقاط البلدين في زمن الصراع على السيطرة على الشرق الأوسط.

ما يريده صندوق النقد من لبنان هو تسليم كامل لكل المرافق المربحة للدولة اللبنانية وبأبخس الأثمان. يقول المسؤول المالي الدولي معقباً أن مبلغ الاحد عشر ملياراً الموعود به لبنان من سيدر لن تسد رمق اللبنانيين إلا لفترة محدودة طالما أن فاتورة الاستيراد السنوي للبنان تعادل ستة عشرَ مليار دولار. وأضاف ان الولايات المتحدة عملت من خلال إغلاق المطالبة بإغلاق الحدود البرية بين لبنان وسورية على تفاقم الأزمة الاقتصادية وجعلها تصل الى مشارف الانهيار.

غداً الجزء الثاني: لعبة المعابر كيف حاصرت أميركا سورية ولبنان؟

حرب المعابر هكذا تحاصر أميركا سورية ولبنان

باريس – نضال حمادة

نكمل كلامنا مع المسؤول السابق في صندوق النقد الدولي، الذي قال إن أميركا أطبقت الطوق على سورية ولبنان عبر السيطرة على المعابر الحدودية في البلدين، بداية في سورية حيث عملت أميركا على منع الدولة السورية من الاستفادة من الوضع العسكري الذي أصبح لمصلحتها، وذلك عبر السيطرة او التحكم بكل المعابر بين سورية ودول الجوار بدءاً من معبر نصيب في الجنوب حيث يرفض الأردن فتحه بحجج واهية ويمدّد فترة إغلاقه دورياً من دون سبب، ويُعتبر معبر نصيب مع الأردن طريقاً مهماً لنقل البضائع السورية الى الخليج العربي واستيراد البضائع من الخارج عبر البر، في المرتبة الثانية يأتي معبر المالكية مع العراق وهو يقع في شرق سورية. هنا يقول الخبير الاقتصادي الدولي إن المعبر من الجهة العراقية يتمركز فيه ويسيطر عليه بالكامل الجيش الأميركي الذي يمنع نقل أية بضائع من سورية وإليه. ويقول إن الحكومة العراقية تخلّت عن المعبر لصالح القوات الأميركية بعد تولي مصطفى الكاظمي منصب رئيس وزراء العراق.

يقول الخبير الاقتصادي الدولي هناك أيضاً في الشرق السوري معبر التنف الذي تسيطر عليه القوات الأميركية، كما تمنع أميركا إيران والعراق وسورية من فتح معبر البوكمال، حيث تنفذ الطائرات الحربية الأميركية غارات متكررة على القوافل التجارية في المنطقة وعلى المواقع العسكرية المحيطة بالمعبر.

في لبنان يبدو الأمر أسهل بسبب وجود حدود بريه مغلقة مع فلسطين المحتلة، وبالتالي تبقى الحدود السورية اللبنانية التي تضغط اميركا لإغلاق ما تبقى سالكاً منها خصوصاً في البقاع الشمالي الذي تأتي المطالبة بإغلاق الحدود بينه وبين سورية ضمن سلم أولويات أجندة صندوق النقد الدولي، يختم المسؤول السابق في صندوق النقد الدولي كلامه.

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