Biden and the Middle East: Misplaced optimism

Khalil al-Anani

25 November 2020

The Arab region in general will not rank high on the list of foreign priorities for the incoming US president

US president-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on 19 November (AFP)

There has been a state of optimism in the Arab world since the announcement of Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s win in the US presidential election.

Even if the optimism is justified, especially in light of the disasters and political tragedies that the Arab region has witnessed and lived through over the past four years under President Donald Trump, this optimism is somewhat exaggerated. Some believe that the region under Biden will witness radical changes, breaking with Trump’s negative legacy – but I don’t think that will happen.

We need to dismantle the various issues that Biden is expected to engage with over the next four years in order to understand whether the situation will remain as it is, or undergo radical change. 

During the Biden era, the Arab region in general is not expected to rank high on the list of US foreign priorities. There are many reasons for this, including Biden’s vision, which does not stray far from the view of former US President Barack Obama on global issues and international conflicts, with Asia and the Pacific given priority over all other matters. 

The US relationship with China is an important file for any US administration, whether Republican or Democratic. As the rise of China represents an economic and security threat to the US, the Obama administration moved its foreign-policy compass towards China and the Pacific region. For Biden, China will continue to represent a top priority. 

The issue has become even more urgent in the wake of Trump’s more hostile policies towards China over the past four years. Observers will be watching as to whether Biden can put an end to what the average US citizen sees as Chinese encroachment and hegemony in global markets, at US expense. Some saw Trump’s China policies as a historic victory, due to the imposition of tariffs on US imports from China. 

The importance of accountability for China might be one of the few issues that has consensus among Americans of all orientations, but there are differences in how the issue is approached and handled. While Republicans, especially under Trump, use the confrontational method through the well-known strategy of “maximum pressure”, the Democrats prefer dialogue and cooperation with Beijing.

Iran, Israel and Arab authoritarians

In the Arab region, the three issues expected to dominate Biden’s agenda are the US relationships with Iran, Israel and the authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

We may witness an important shift in US policy towards Iran, especially on the nuclear file and Trump-era sanctions, which resulted in unprecedented levels of pressure on Tehran since the unilateral US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018.

It is expected that Biden will bring the US back to the nuclear deal, but with new conditions – unless the Trump administration, in alliance with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, launches military strikes, as Trump has reportedly contemplated.

Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem in 2010 (Reuters)
Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem in 2010 (Reuters)

As for the US-Israel relationship, and in particular the issue of a two-state solution and normalisation with Arab countries, we can expect the status quo to continue. Despite Biden’s embrace of the two-state solution and rejection of Israeli attempts to impose a fait accompli on Palestinians, Biden is not expected to prevent Israel from annexing parts of the occupied West Bank.

US pressure on more Arab countries to normalise with Israel, as Trump pushed with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, may diminish. But this does not mean the Biden administration would impede any such normalisation. On the contrary, Biden welcomed the Gulf normalisation deals with Israel.

The issue of Israel’s security and qualitative superiority is a subject of agreement among Republicans and Democrats alike; none can imagine this changing under the Biden administration.

Condemnation without action

As for the US relationship with Arab authoritarian regimes, particularly with respect to support for human rights and democracy, while Biden may not support human rights violations – especially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – he is not expected to exert great pressure on these countries if the violations continue.

A Biden administration, for example, would not likely cut off military aid to Egypt, or halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia or the UAE as an objection to the Yemen war or their miserable record on issues of democracy and human rights – despite Biden’s pledge to the contrary during his election campaign. 

Statements and condemnations may be issued from time to time, but it is unlikely that they will translate into real policies and actions. While Biden will not consider someone like Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi his “favourite dictator”, as Trump did, he will not likely sever the relationship or punish Sisi seriously for his flagrant violations of human rights in Egypt.

Perhaps optimists in the Arab world should be wary of getting too hopeful about the incoming Biden administration and the potential for regional change. If it is true that the number of bad guys around the world will decrease due to Trump’s departure from power, this does not necessarily mean that the good guys will make a comeback with Biden coming to power.

Khalil al-AnaniKhalil al-Anani is a Senior Fellow at the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies in Washington DC. He is also an associate professor of political science at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. You can follow him on Twitter: @Khalilalanani.

Syria: The complicated scene

By Abir Bassam

November 24, 2020 – 10:49

It is a dirty war that has been going on in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. Almost nine and a half tragic years have passed. The three countries were subjected to all kinds of terror and brutally destroyed. Actually, what has been going on is a world war! All weapons were used and tested and many countries were involved.

It was a real dirty war, in which the West and the Americans and their allies in the region have used the worst kind of men: a group of collaborators and barbaric terrorists. 

The worst kinds of mercenaries from all over the world were sent to Syria. They practices the ugliest inhumane deeds: they decapitated heads, literally ate hearts, and burned people alive to death. 

These groups were directly led by generals from the U.S., France, and Turkey. This information was supported by different informed resources that reported capturing French, British, and Turkish officers since 2015, in particular, during the invasion of Idlib. The district was invaded by a tenth of thousands of terrorists from Nusra, especially its group Fateh al-Sham which is directly supported and trained by Turkey, and Ahrar al-Sham which was directly supported by the Americans. The invasion was directly led by the Turkish tank battalions and the NATO alliances. 

By December 2015, the northeast of Syria was also invaded by another terrorist group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS]. ISIS was created with the utmost attention of Hilary Clinton, during Barak Obama’s administration. This was revealed by Donald Trump during his election campaign in 2016. ISIS swept over the al-Jazeera region and extended to Palmira through the Syrian Desert and occupied Homos, the biggest Syrian district. It was directly protected by the American extending military bases in northern Syria and the eastern base in al-Tanf. ISIS attacked both the Syrian government forces and the opposition factions. 

The plan was to allow ISIS invasion of northern-eastern Syria territories and western-northern Iraqi territories in order to terminate the opposition factions in the region. It was carefully planned by Obama’s administration and in particular his vice president Joe Biden, the new president of the United States of America.

Under the pretense of fighting terrorism, the Americans were back in Iraq and restored bases in Iraq, built new ones in Syria and reestablished new militia groups in the area of the northeast, mainly Kurdish groups. They were trained and equipped by the Americans. For the U.S., it was a necessary step to launch a Kurdish federalism on the Syrian territories.  

Nonetheless, the U.S. had set the return plan before withdrawing from Iraq in 2010. Upon its departure, the American administration empowered the al-Qaeda group in Iraq, and supported its existence, as Trump declared and accused Hillary Clinton of being the mastermind behind it. ISIS was basically the American approach to siege Syria, and eventually, apply the plan of division in the region and establish a Kurdish state. 

Saying that may seem to be naive and simple. However, executing the plan required initiating “revolutions” in other Arab countries, recruiting media specialists, recruiting special personnel to initiate eruptions by social media, and consuming billions of dollars in the process, of which the Saudi kingdom and Qatar were the main contributors.

In 1992, I was on a visit to al-Hassaka and al-Qamishli. I was just a young beginner in journalism. I was conducting an investigation report about the Yazidis. At that stage, a large number of Yazidis and Kurds were immigrating to Syria. They escaped the biased and brutal treatment of Saddam Hussein and the fanatic Turks. These Kurds were building a wide network in Europe. They bought sympathy and support to establish a federation in Iraq in 1996. The process was facilitated by the Americans after the second Persian Gulf War in 1991 as Saddam’s power was fading.

The idea of having a similar kind of federation in Syria became appealing to both the Americans and Israelis. The size of Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad’s presence in the Iraqi Kurdistan is not a secret anymore. It is an established fact. The Americans also facilitated the Israeli presence in northeast Syria, especially those who came with American nationality to work in the oil fields.

The Turkish president Erdogan was one of the supporters of the American plan to dismantle Syria. Erdogan was able to recruit Qatar to the best interest of Turkey. Both countries were discontent with the Syrian government’s refusal to allow building the Qatari gas pipeline to Turkey through its territories. Syria saw that a move that would discomfort its allies in Russia and Iran. However, Erdogan had bigger plans in Syria. In the northwest region, Erdogan mainly saw the Idlib and Aleppo districts as the extent of Turkey, and a head starts to initiate the Ottoman dream. 

This dream vanished to thin air when Syria started liberating the area occupied by ISIS in West Euphrates, and al-Gab plain after cleaning the Damascus area, Homos, and the center of Syria from terrorism with unlimited support from Russia. The second shock Erdogan received when the Americans started supporting the establishment of the Kurdish federation in al-Hassaka. 

The Kurdish militia was founded in October 2015 under the name Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF]. SDF in its formation includes Kurds from Syria and others who came mainly from Turkey and other countries, most of them do not speak Arabic, unlike the Syrian Kurds. 60% of the militia includes Arab Syrians, according to the Pentagon. There are other nationalities included among the formation of SDF, who are Turkmens, Armenians, Circassians, and Chechens, who came from all over Asia.

In 2016, SDF updated its constitution from a separate federal state into an Autonomous Administration of Northern and East Syria [NES] and declared SDF as its official defense force, which complicated the Syrian political scene, furthermore. Now NES or SDF are cooperating with the official American forces in east-north of Syria and serve as “the Southern Lebanese Army, [SLA]” in South Lebanon during the Israeli occupation in South Lebanon. As SLA has tried to establish an independent state in South Lebanon, SDF or NES is trying to acquire the same course. 

Since 2018 the Syrian army, with the help of allies – Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah- has been able to liberate most of the occupied lands. However, the liberation coincided with the rise of economic pressure on Syria. The price of the Syrian lira if compared to the American dollar dropped and its purchasing value decreased. It was due to the economic sanctions that were imposed on Syria, and lately “Caesar Law” which was activated in the mid of June 2020. 

In 2018, the American troops withdrew from the north of Syria and were redeployed in the al-Hassaka district around the Syrian richest oil fields. The American companies, in particular ARAMCO, are now draining the Syria oil to the interest of NES and financing the American troops stationed in the northern-eastern area of the Euphrates in Syria. Actually, Syria is facing an internal problem with the lack of petroleum resources. The hard winter is coming and the lines for buying the diesel needed for heating the houses will be crowded as much as the lines for gasoline.

After burning and stealing the wheat plains in the al-Jazeera district by the Americans and the Turks, the bread prices went 25% higher. Shortage in bread supplies was triggered by the government’s decision to set the bread rations. The Americans were literally applying Kissinger’s policy which states that nations are ruled by bread, not by arms. The shortage of bread and petroleum products is new to the Syrian population; therefore, the successive Syrian governments are facing major challenges since the beginning of 2019. 

Caesar Law added additional pressure on the countries that may establish economic and commercial deals with Syria. The law was imposed at a time in which the world is suffering from COVID-19 epidemic, which spread in Syria as well. In addition, Syria needs to deal with the issue of the Syrian refugees. It is a dilemma that needs to be dealt with appropriately. The refugees’ dilemma is used as a political card to force the Syrians to submit to the American political demands, which are set on two levels: national and international.

On the national level, the international community wants to pressure the Syrian government into implementing a new constitution based on the sectarian division of power, just like Lebanon, which would diminish the presidential authority and redistribute it, as it happened in Tunisia and Sudan, which would divide the power of the head of the state. The second issue is related to the question of the forcibly disappeared people, who were kidnapped or killed by the rebel groups, and treating the killers and kidnappers as political opponents without subjecting them to trials. This issue will be a matter of conflict, and will not be accepted by those whose families and friends were kidnapped or killed. This fact was revealed a few days ago by the new Syrian Foreign Minister, Mr. Feisal Muqdad. 

On the international level, the requirements of the international community, i.e. the U.S., have become common knowledge.  Since 2003, after the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, came to Syria and laid down the U.S. demands: dismantling Hezbollah arms, ending Syrian support to the resistance groups in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq, and ending cooperation with Iran in the region. The end means, as usually explained, is ensuring the security of Israel. 

Naturally, the Syrians refused American demands. Therefore, we should make no mistake and assume that what had happened in the Arab region under the pretense of “Arab Spring” was meant for the destruction of Syria in order to dismantle it into minor sectarian states that can be easily controlled to the best interest of “Israel” and America.

Hence, Syria requires two essential needs to start its reconstruction process: the first is lifting the sanctions imposed on it; and the second is to end the American occupation in the northeast area. However, the West insists on linking lifting the sanctions to the political process. But when it comes to the achievement of the liberation from the Americans this process cannot be realized unless the national resistance would be highly activated in the northeast of Syria. It is America that we all know. It did not end its occupation of Vietnam, Korea, and eventually Iraq in 2010 until the number of causalities becomes unbearable in the American community.

Syria’s essential needs were clearly stated by its president Bashar Al-Assad on two occasions, the first was during a video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the 10th of November. The second time was in his speech at the opening of the International Conference on the Return of the Refugee in Damascus [ICRRD] on the 11th of November.

During his visit on the 5th of November to the exhibition “Producers 2020” in “Tekia Sulaymaniyah” in the capital, Damascus. It was attended by producers from the Aleppo governorate whose facilities, workshops, and shops were damaged during the war. President al-Assad talked about the economic impact of the issue of shortage of oil supplies and burning the wheat fields in northeastern regions. 

He also explained that the economic problem was clearly becoming worse when the banks in Lebanon blocked the Syrian deposits. President al-Assad said that there is vagueness about the Syrian deposit’s estimations. Its assessment ranges from 20 billion dollars to 42 billion dollars. The blockade has been going on for years. He added the crisis began years before the Caesar Law and began years after the siege. It coincided with the money disappearance in the Lebanese banks. Furthermore, al-Assad declared that we do not know what the real number is, and this figure for an economy like the Syrian one is a frightening number.

Al-Assad’s declaration became one week before ICRRD to which Lebanon was invited. Was this a message to Lebanon? It could be, although many observers have denied it. The denial is basically based on Syria’s previous special treatment of Lebanon. Lebanon in the Syrian considerations are two contradictory facts: the first, Lebanon is an opening to the western world with bipolar swings. The first swing expressed in the historical Arab and regional ideology.

And the second swing is expressed in the lining towards a Western ideology, with the tendency to sign normalization agreements with “Israel”. The second group was of great concern to the Syrians since the creation of Lebanon. It is known as the right-wing groups, who allied with the Americans and the Israelis. 

The second fact, Lebanon as a state is based on providing services and tourism. It is considered to be the lung that Syria needs to breathe with. However, this lung health became worse since 2011, when the United States accused the Lebanese Canadian Bank of laundering terrorism money. And then again in 2016, since many banks faced the same accusations and were prohibited to deal with customers that the U.S. listed them as Hezbollah members.

Accordingly, the Lebanese banks froze several balances for many customers and in particular the Syrian customers that were importing goods to Syria through Lebanon after imposing an embargo on Syria. It is clear for the Syrians, regardless of the unique relationship with Hezbollah, it is about time that Lebanon should release these balances, and pay its debts to Syria, especially the debts that have been accumulating since 1990, which are the revenues from selling electricity.

Syria, as President al-Assad explained, will need its money in the process of rebuilding the country’s main infrastructure and vital installations, which were destroyed during the liberation war against the terrorist groups. It is a call for Lebanon to join forces with Syria to demand lifting the embargo and to be excluded from Cesar Law consequences because Lebanon needs to open up to Syria for commercial trades towards the east, in particular, to Arab countries, or Lebanon will be demanded to pay back its debts. 

The Americans were pushing Syria and the region since 1973 towards peace and normalization treaties with “Israel”. However, Syria has proven that such an agreement would be difficult to execute unless it was a “peace for land” agreement, which would ensure the right of return of the Palestinian people. An equation, nor the Israeli, neither the Americans are willing to sign for. In addition, Syria’s main condition, during the negotiations held in Oslo in 1992, was the return of all occupied Arab territories. However, the series of recognitions Trump has approved throughout his reign made the return to the negotiation table almost impossible. It also pushed into more complications with the relation between Syria and Lebanon since the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005. The need to separate the Syrian-Lebanese course in the peace process is becoming a must for the Americans. A need until today could not be achieved.

Syria now is subjected to American pressure that requires its approval to initiate peace and normalization agreements with Israel. This goal so far was difficult to achieve, especially after Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel. Even Syria’s allies, in particular Russia, cannot force the Syrians to give up part of their land. Syria’s war on terror has spared all its allies the tragedy of dragging this war into their own territories. 

Hence, Syria prepaid in blood for the security of its “friends” now. History will, sooner or later, reveal this fact. Syria’s insistence on the unity of its land, and its refusal to have any divided authority is now a fact. The Syrians cannot compromise it, and the allies cannot go against it. The course of negotiations the allies led in Astana and Sochi has affirmed it. However, this fact has complicated the Syrian scene furthermore. It might even force the Americans to lead directly the war in the region, whether in arms or diplomacy, since the proxies have proven their disabilities.

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Susan Rice has blood on her hands: Journalist

Sunday, 15 November 2020 7:25 PM

Video : Former US National Security Advisor Susan Rice speaks at the J Street 2018 National Conference April 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

By Don DeBar

Susan Rice is another one of the recycled Clinton people, and in fact the Democratic Party had her going back even before that.

Her mother has been around. She helped design Pell Grants. She had been with Brookings since ‘92 which is about when Susan graduated into the Clinton administration (in 1993) and went directly to the National Security Council.

She was with Bill Clinton for his administration. Obama had her – first at the UN, and then as his National Security Adviser (I think). She’s about as inside as it gets. She has blood on her hands in Africa, Rwanda.

The people’s understanding of the Rwandan genocide in the United States is exactly upside down. There was a genocide there, but it was the side that the US-backed, not surprisingly, and that was Susan Rice’s project. She was a member of the National Security Council to do international affairs and that was one big act of the Clinton administration – that move to pivot to Africa, around Rwanda.

It was also the enabling of their so-called humanitarian interventions, and in any way that’s her child.

At the United Nations, she helped bring us the destruction of Libya, enabled the situation in Syria to the extent that she could, and tried to sell authority for the US to bomb the hell out of Syria as well.

It’s going to be more war, really.

Let me remind people when Trump took office in January of 2017 the foreign policy that Susan Rice and Barack Obama and the Clintons, and John Kerry had set in motion had us where we were having war games at Russia and China’s borders from the Baltics to the Korean peninsula, on a constant basis, with a number of international incidents – including NATO members shooting down Russian pilots over Syria – any of which could have escalated, and really turning on a dime into a global thermonuclear war.

Trump for all the things he has done does not leave us – if he’s leaving – in that situation. But what they’re doing is installing the very people who created that condition to start from day one to bring us right back to the brink with Russia and China.

I think it’s very scary that Susan Rice is being considered for this. I don’t think it’s a surprise at all. Anyone who knows who Joe Biden is not surprised.

Obama is pushing Susan Rice for secretary of state job: Sources

Obama is pushing Susan Rice for secretary of state job: SourcesBarack Obama is pushing for Joe Biden to nominate Susan Rice for secretary of state, sources say.

Don DeBar is an American journalist and political commentator based in New York. He recorded this article for Press TV website. 


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

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A Dem Presidency means The Return of the Blob

A Dem Presidency means The Return of the Blob

October 30, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission and cross posted with Asia Times

What happens on November 3rd ? It’s like a larger than life replay of the famous Hollywood adage: “No one knows anything.”

The Dem strategy is crystal clear, spawned by the gaming of election scenarios embedded in the Transition Integrity Project and made even more explicit by one of TIP’s co-founders, a law professor at Georgetown University.

Hillary Clinton, bluntly, has already called it: Dems must re-take the White House by any and all means and under any and all circumstances.

And just in case, with a 5,000-word opus, she already positioned herself for a plum job.

As much as Dems have made it very clear they will never accept a Trump victory, the counterpunch was vintage Trump: he told the Proud Boys to “stand back” – as in no violence, for now – but crucially to “stand by”, as in “get ready”.

The stage is set for Kill Bill mayhem on November 3rd and beyond.

Say it ain’t so, Joe

Taking a cue from TIP, let’s game a Dem return to the White House – with the prospect of a President Kamala taking over sooner rather than later. That means, essentially, The Return of the Blob.

President Trump calls it “the swamp”. Former Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes – a mediocre hack – at least coined the funkier “Blob”, applied to the incestuous Washington, DC foreign policy gang, think tanks, academia, newspapers (from the Washington Post to the New York Times), and that unofficial Bible, Foreign Affairs magazine.

A Dem presidency, right away, will need to confront the implications of two wars: Cold War 2.0 against China, and the interminable, trillion-dollar GWOT (Global War on Terror), renamed OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations) by the Obama-Biden administration.

Biden became the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1997 and was the chair in 2001-2003 and again in 2007-2009. He paraded as total Iraq War cheerleader – necessary, he maintained, as part of GWOT – and even defended a “soft partition” of Iraq, something that fierce nationalists, Sunni and Shi’ite, from Baghdad to Basra will never forget.

Obama-Biden’s geopolitical accomplishments include a drone war, or Hellfire missile diplomacy, complete with “kill lists”; the failed Afghan surge; the “liberation” of Libya from behind, turning it into a militia wasteland; the proxy war in Syria fought with “moderate rebels”; and once again leading from behind, the Saudi-orchestrated destruction of Yemen.

Tens of millions of Brazilians also will never forget that Obama-Biden legitimized the NSA spying and Hybrid War tactics that led to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff ,the neutralization of former President Lula, and the evisceration of the Brazilian economy by comprador elites.

Among his former, select interlocutors, Biden counts warmonger former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen – who supervised the destruction of Libya – and John Negroponte, who “organized” the contras in Nicaragua and then “supervised” ISIS/Daesh in Iraq – the crucial element of the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy of instrumentalizing jihadis to do the empire’s dirty work.

It’s safe to game that a Biden-Harris administration will oversee a de facto NATO expansion encompassing parts of Latin America, Africa and the Pacific, thus pleasing the Atlanticist Blob.

In contrast, two near-certain redeeming features would be the return of the US to the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, which was Obama-Biden’s only foreign policy achievement, and re-starting nuclear disarmament negotiations with Russia. That would imply containment of Russia, not a new all-out Cold War, even as Biden has recently stressed, on the record, that Russia is the “biggest threat” to the US.

Woke Kamala in da house

Kamala Harris has been groomed to rise to the top from as early as the summer of 2017. Predictably, she is all for Israel – mirroring Nancy Pelosi (“if this Capitol crumbled to the ground, the one thing that would remain is our commitment to our aid…and I don’t even call it aid…our cooperation with Israel.”

Kamala is a hawk on Russia and North Korea; and she did not co-sponsor legislation to prevent war against Venezuela and, again, North Korea. Call her a quintessential Dem hawk.

Yet Kamala’s positioning is quite clever, reaching two diverse audiences: she totally fits into The Blob but with an added woke gloss (trendy sneakers, the advertised affection for hip hop). And as an extra bonus, she directly connects with the “Never Trumper” gang.

Never Trumper Republicans – operating especially in Think Tankland – totally infiltrated the Dem matrix. They are prime Blob material. The ultimate neo-con Never Trumper has got to be Robert Kagan, husband of Maidan cookie distributor Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland; thus the running joke in many parts of West Asia, for years, about the “Kaganate of Nulandistan”.

Kagan, self-glorified and idolized as a star conservative intellectual, is of course one of the co-founders of the dreaded neo-con Project for the New American Century (PNAC). That subsequently translated into gleeful Iraq War cheerleading. Obama read his books in awe. Kagan forcefully backed Hillary in 2016. Needless to add, neo-cons of the Kagan variety are all rabidly anti-Iran.

On the money front, there’s the Lincoln Project , set up last year by a gang of current and former Republican strategists very close to, among others, Blob stars such as Daddy Bush and Dick Cheney. A handful of billionaires gleefully donated to this major anti-Trump super-PAC, including J. Paul Getty’s heir Gordon Getty, the heir of the Hyatt hotel empire John Pritzker, and Cargill heiress Gwendolyn Sontheim.

Those Three Harpies

The key Blob character in a putative Biden-Harris White House is Tony Blinken, former deputy national security adviser during Obama-Biden and arguably the next National Security Adviser.

That’s geopolitics – with an important addendum: former national security adviser Susan Rice, who was unceremoniously dropped from the Vice-President shortlist to Kamala’s profit, may become the next Secretary of State.

Rice’s possible contender is Senator Chris Murphy, who in a strategy document titled “Rethinking the Battlefield” predictably goes undiluted Obama-Biden: no “rethinking”, really, just rhetoric on fighting ISIS/Daesh and containing Russia and China.

Suave Tony Blinken used to work for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 2000s, so no wonder he’s been very close to Biden even before the first Obama-Biden term, when he rose to the top as deputy national security adviser and then, in the second term, as deputy Secretary of State.

Close to Blinken is Jake Sullivan, who under the protective wing of Hillary Clinton replaced Blinken as national security adviser in the second Obama-Biden term. He will have a top place either in the National Security Council or the State Department.

But what about The Three Harpies?

Many of you will remember The Three Harpies, as I coined them before the bombing and destruction of Libya, and again in 2016, when their remixed version’s push for a glorious sequel was rudely interrupted by Trump’s victory. When it comes to Return of the Blob, this is the 5K, 5G, IMAX version.

Of the three original Harpies, two – Hillary and Susan Rice – seem set to snatch a brand new power job. The plot thickens for Samantha Power, former US ambassador to the UN and the author of The Education of an Idealist, where we learn that such “idealist” rips Damascus and Moscow to shreds while totally ignoring the Obama-Biden drone offensive, kill lists, “leading from behind” weaponizing of al-Qaeda in Syria re-baptized as “moderate rebels”, and the relentless Saudi destruction of Yemen.

Samantha seems to be out. There’s a new Harpy in town. Which brings us to the real Queen of the Blob.

The Queen of the Blob

Michele Flournoy may be the epitome of the Return of the Blob: the quintessential, imperial functionary of what former CIA analyst Ray McGovern brilliant christened MICIMATT (the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex).

The ideal imperial functionary thrives on discretion: virtually no one knows Flournoy outside of the Blob, so that means the whole planet.

Flournoy is a former senior adviser to the Boston Consulting Group; the co-founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS); a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center; under secretary of Defense during Obama-Biden; favorite of top Harpy Hillary to be Pentagon chief after 2016; and once again favorite to become Pentagon chief after 2020.

The most delicious item on Flournoy’s CV is that she’s the co-founder of WestExec Advisors with none other than Tony Blinken.

Every Blob insider knows that WestExec happens to be the name of the street alongside the West Wing of the White House. In a Netflix plot, that would be the obvious hint that a short walk of fame straight into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue looms in the horizon for the star protagonists.

Flournoy, more than Blinken, turned WestExec into a certified hit in the Beltway MICIMATT profiting from virtually no P.R. and media blitzes, and talking exclusively to think tanks.

Here’s a crucial glimpse of Flournoy thinking. She clearly states that just a benign American deterrence towards China is a “miscalculation”. And it’s important to keep in mind that Flournoy is in fact the mastermind of the overall, failed Obama-Biden war strategy.

In a nutshell, Biden-Harris would mean The Return of the Blob with a vengeance. Biden-Harris would be Obama-Biden 3.0. Remember those seven wars. Remember the surges. Remember the kill lists. Remember Libya. Remember Syria. Remember “soft coup” Brazil. Remember Maidan. You have all been warned.

When exactly did the AngloZionist Empire collapse?

“”the exact moment when the Empire collapsed: 8 January 2020. What happened that day? Following the murder of Major General Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack (on the 3 of January 2020) the Iranians retaliated by using missiles to attack several US bases in Iraq.” The Saker

ٍSource

When exactly did the AngloZionist Empire collapse?

[this analysis was written for the Unz Review]

I remember one evening in distant 1991, I was sitting with a few friends in the SAIS cafeteria discussing the future of the United States with a few very smart students, including a Pakistani Army Colonel, a US captain who served on aircraft carriers and a Spanish diplomat: we all agreed that “the system” was perfect, so to speak, and that the US would only collapse if a strong external shock would hit it hard. We all agreed that the combination of the best propaganda machine in history, the stupidification resulting from many daily hours of watching the Idiot Tube and, finally, a very effective repression apparatus made for a quasi perfect dictatorship: the one which only gives the illusion of democracy and people power.

Years later, in 2017, I read by J.M. Greer’s brilliant book “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” which I later reviewed here. I would say that this book is one of the best one written on the topic of a future US collapse, even though this is a (very well written) fiction book because it brilliantly illustrates the kind of mindset which can get a supposed superpower in a very bad situation.

To me, this all made perfect sense, but only because I, and my SAIS friends, never even considered the possibility that the US Nomenklatura would commit national suicide and, in the process, bring down the AngloZionist Empire.

Yet this is exactly what happened.

So when did all this begin?

There are many possible answers to this question. Some say with the murder of Kennedy. Others point to Clinton, whose Presidency inaugurated a policy of armed imperialism all over the planet; this administration was also the first one to witness a major “coming out” of the Neocons (many of which had already infiltrated the GOP during Reagan). Then there is 9/11 with the subsequent GWOT. As I said, these are all valid candidates, and there are many more.

My personal view is that the main initiation of collapse was under Barack Obama, a truly exceptionally weak President who would have made an absolutely terrific used cars salesman, but who as a President lost control of his own country and even his own administration. It was under Obama that we saw the vacuum at the top resulting in various agencies (DoS, DoD, CIA, Pentagon, etc.) all developing their own “foreign policies” which resulted in total chaos on the foreign policy front. Needless to say, having harpies such as Hillary Clinton or Susan Rice or Samantha Power involved did not help!

What is it with western women which makes them become even more bellicose than men when they reach a position of power?! Looking at women like Thatcher or Hillary, I wonder if these women are not carefully selected precisely for their nasty character and need to prove themselves as “equal” to men by being even more nasty and murderous than male politicians…

Since his election, it has become very popular to blame Donald Trump for everything which went wrong under his Presidency and, indeed, there is much which ought to be blamed on him. But what so many people overlook is that almost everything which went wrong under Trump began with Obama! When Trumps says that he inherited an awful mess, he is absolutely correct. Not that this absolves him from his own contribution to chaos and collapse!

And, in truth, the biggest difference between Obama and Trump, is that Trump did not start any real wars. Yes, he did threaten a lot of countries with military attacks (itself a crime under international law), but he never actually gave the go ahead to meaningfully attack (he only tried some highly symbolic and totally ineffective strikes in Syria). I repeat – the man was one of the very few US Presidents who did not commit the crime of aggression, the highest possible crime under international law, above crimes against humanity or even genocide, because the crime of aggression “contains within itself the accumulated evil”, to use the words words of the chief US prosecutor at Nuremberg and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Robert H. Jackson. I submit that just for this reason alone any decent person should choose him over Biden (who himself is just a front for “President” Harris and a puppet of the Clinton gang). Either that, or don’t vote at all if your conscience does not allow you to vote for Trump. But voting Biden is unthinkable for any honest person, at least in my humble opinion.

In the Trump years something absolutely amazing happened: while Trump and his administration were busy destroying the Empire externally, the Dems put all the energy and resources into destroying Trump. However, to paraphrase a quote by the Russian author Zinoviev, “they targeted at Trump but they hit the United States” (Zinoviev’s quote was about the putative anti-Soviets: “Метили в коммунизм, а попали в Россию” which can be translated as “they were aiming at Communism, but they hit Russia”).

What took place next was precisely what my SAIS friends and I could never have imagined: the US ruling elites committed collective suicide.

Suicide is typically executed in three phases: decision to commit suicide, the act of suicide itself, and then death. If we accept that the decision to engage in behavior which can only be described as suicidal was taken sometime during the Obama years, then this begs the question of where we are now. In other words, has the Empire already died or is it still only in agony?

I was asking myself that question the other day when I suddenly realized that I might have determined the exact moment when the Empire collapsed: 8 January 2020.

What happened that day?

Following the murder of Major General Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack (on the 3 of January 2020) the Iranians retaliated by using missiles to attack several US bases in Iraq. According to the US side, there were only minor injuries, which is very likely since the Iranians warned the US by several backdoor channels what they were planning on doing. This argument was used by Trump and his supporters to say that the Iranian reaction was lame, ineffective and could be completely ignored.

In my opinion, the moment when the Trump Administration made this statement is when the death certificate of the Empire was signed. Why?

First, the low number of US casualties (probably higher than the official one, US troops were evacuated and treated in several countries) is due to only to the fact that Iranians are superb strategists: they realized that killing a lot of US soldiers would force Trump to strongly retaliate, so they chose not to kill them. Instead, they put a gun to their collective heads. How?

Think about it: the Iranian counter-strike showed the entire world something which most people did not realize: Iranian missiles (ballistic and cruise) were much more accurate than previously thought. In fact, they clearly have some form of terminal guidance. Simply put, the Iranians have proven that they can very precisely, deliver a warhead of several hundred pounds of high explosives pretty much anywhere in the Middle East. To give you a visual idea of their current coverage check out this page.

This bears repeating: the Iranians have now proven that they can place several hundred pounds of high explosives anywhere in the Middle-East with a CEP of about 3-5 meters!

Remember the Khobar Towers bombing? Yes, this was a truck bomb with much more explosives than a missile can carry (by at least an order of magnitude), but that truck was also parked far away from the towers! Yet just under 500 people died that day.

There are plenty of similar US military installations in the Middle-East, many buildings housing hundreds of US servicemen. Just imagine what would have happened if the Iranians had decided to take out as many lives as possible and placed a couple of their missiles right on top of, say, 10 such facilities – just imagine the cost in lives!

But the Iranians are smart, and they chose a much wiser course of action: they used their missiles essentially to kick Uncle Shmuel where it hurts, but they mainly demonstrated their ability to create thousands of US casualties in just a few minutes.

Obviously, another, now undeniable, Iranian capability is the ability to instantly destroy any gas/oil facility in the region: wells, processing facilities, terminals – you name it: if it is important and expensive, the Iranians can destroy it.

The Iranians also have the ability to close down the Strait of Hormuz and even to attack USN ships, possibly including carriers.

Last, but certainly not least, this now proven Iranian capability puts every government building in danger, along with any crucial facility (Dimona anybody?).

At this point of the conversation all the well-propagandized flag-waving morons will immediately stand up and declare something along these lines:

“So what?! If these sand-niggers cross the line they know that we can massively bomb them! Heck, we can even nuke them and send them back to the stone age! Let them try and they will see what the wrath of the most powerful nation on earth, with the most formidable military in history, can do to a bunch of semi-literate peasants, LOL! Let see if their “Allah” will save them!”

Apart from all the ignorant cliches typically spewed by this crowd, there is a major analytical error underlying this “logic” (I use the term generously): the Iranians have lived with this threat since 1979 and they are used to it. Not only that, but they know for a fact that these are empty threats. Oh sure, the US can do to Iran what “Israel” did to Lebanon in the course of the “Divine Victory” war of 2006, or what NATO has done to Serbia during the Kosovo war (1998-1999): kill civilians and destroy the country’s infrastructure to punish these civilians for supporting the “wrong” (i.e. not US approved) government. But if Uncle Shmuel does to Iran what Israel did to Lebanon, the result will be the same: the Iranians will rebuild (they are very good at that) and they will bounce back twice as strong. As for their martyrs, the more there will be, the stronger the Iranian people’s resistance (check this article written by an Iranian scholar in excellent English explaining the roots of the unique ethos of Shia Islam).

Last, but also not least, the US Presidents and their aides are quite aware of the current state of the US military: it is a military which simply cannot win even simple conflicts, a military hopelessly gutted by insane liberal ideologies, a military whose entire surface fleet has been made obsolete by hypersonic missiles (which the Iranians also seem to be working on!) and a military whose Air Force spent absolutely obscene amounts of money to create a supposedly “5th generation” fighter which in many ways is inferior to US 4th generation aircraft!

This begs the question of what still works in the US military. In my opinion, the US submarine fleet is still very powerful, and the US nuclear deterrence posture is still solid. Other than that? Meh…

Bottom line: the arguments that the US did not retaliate because it did not care, or that it does not care because “we can nuke them” are typically civilian nonsense which have no connection whatsoever to the real world (just imagine the political consequences for the already highly unpopular US following a nuclear strike, especially on a non-nuclear country!)

Okay, but then why did the US not retaliate?

Simply put, because Uncle Shmuel does not have what it takes to take on Iran. Heck, Uncle Shmuel can’t even take on Venezuela (!), which is an extremely weakened country right on the US’s door step. Frankly, if this or the next President decides that the US needs to “pick up a crappy little country and throw it against a wall just to prove we are serious” then I recommend Grenada. I know, Grenada was basically undefended in 1983 (mainly by a few lightly armed Cuban engineers) and it took the 82nd airborne to rescue the totally defeated and clueless US special forces stuck under fire, but I think that since 1983 the Pentagon had the time to make a some “lessons learned” exercises and that by now the US probably could re-invade this tiny island without repeating one of the worst disasters in military history.

Conclusion

The Empire died on the day the Iranians hit these US facilities and the US did absolutely nothing. In fact, since that date, what have we seen:

  • The Iraqis are slowly but surely kicking the US forces out of Iraq
  • The number of attacks against US forces in Iraq has sharply increased, including against the massive US bunker complex known as “the Green Zone” which now is not “green” at all.
  • The Iranians are merrily continuing to make fun of Uncle Shmuel.
  • The US failed at renewing the anti-Iran sanctions at the UN Security Council and Russia has already declared that she is willing to sell S-400s to Iran. You can also count China in this great weapons market.
  • The US is also in retreat in Syria where anti-US attacks are becoming more dangerous (and regular clashes with ground forces of the Russian task force in Syria are also becoming a potentially very dangerous phenomenon).
  • In Yemen, the Iranian backed Houthis have basically won the war and defeated both the KSA and the US.
  • In Afghanistan, the US and its “coalition of the losers” has stayed even longer than the Soviets and has achieved exactly nothing except a total and most humiliating defeat. The contrast between the performance of the Soviet 40th Army (poorly equipped and averagely commanded) force of conscripts and what the lavishly equipped (but also poorly commanded) US professional force achieved is absolutely amazing on all levels, but the most telling is how much the Soviets actually built in Afghanistan (even facilities that the US still uses every day!). Uncle Shmuel only destroyed everything except the opium trade…

In other words, everything is going exactly according to the announced Iranian game plan to completely kick the US out of the Middle-East. I know, this seems unthinkable right now, but please make the list of all the putatively “unthinkable” things which have since happened and you will see how dangerous it is to assume that something will never happen.

When Georgia attacked the Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinval there were also limited casualties, but Russia immediately counter-attacked defeated in Georgian military in 3 days, and that in spite of being numerically smaller (at least in the initial phases of the counter-attack) and too slow to react (a typical Russian weakness). And the message to “to whom it may concern” sent by the Russian counter-attack was simple: attack a Russian base, or kill Russian soldiers and you will be killed: every time a Russian serviceman has been killed in Syria the Russians retaliate with strong missiles and air strikes. In other instances Russian Spetsnaz units killed selective Takfiri commanders. And everybody “got it”, even the Turks who have not been able to force the Russian to stop shrinking their areas of control in Syria to a small fraction of what it used to be.

Mind you – Russia has no desire to become an Empire or even some kind of superpower (Russians realize how evil any empire is for the country which is supposed to host it: they suffered for over 300 years in this toxic status of “empire” and they had enough! Only dumb Hillary and even dumber Brzezinski still thought that Russia wanted to “rebuild the USSR” when, in fact, Putin’s policies were designed to disengage and separate from the former Russian periphery which only drained immense Russian ressources and never gave Russia anything useful (and nevermind the Warsaw Treaty Organization which was just as ressources-consuming and useless as the periphery). All they want is being taken seriously and treated with respect, not as a superpower, but simply as a major, but truly sovereign, power.

Compare that with the unique blend of stratospheric megalomania, narcissistic self-worship and crass ignorance of the leaders of the US and you immediately see that the Empire is not dying anymore, it is already dead and has been dead for many months now.

What comes next?

Well, the election of course. I submit that under no scenario will the next administration be able to reverse that course and somehow miraculously resurrect the Empire. Empires don’t resurrect. It has been tried in the past (even by Napoleon), it never works. Once empires lose momentum and, especially, their ideological credibility, they are over. Oh sure, a dead body still can emit some heat for a while, some organs, or even cells, can work for a while longer, but dead is dead. Mostly dead bodies bloat and stink, which also applies to dead empires.

This is not to say that the outcome will not matter, it will – but only for the future of the United States themselves. Simply put, the upcoming vote is either a vote for upholding law and order in the US, or for total nihilism. On a deeper level, it is a vote for the US or against it: the Dems all hate this country and its “deplorables”; they also hate almost every aspect of US history (overturned statues are but symbols of this hatred) and they hate what they call “a racist system” in spite of the fact that the real causes of racial tensions in the US have very little to do with the “system” and everything to do with the unique problems of blacks in a culture with mainly European roots.

The Empire is dead. And I hope and believe that its death will mark the rebirth of the United States as a “normal” country (which is what happened to all the other former empires).

Until that happens, we can now at least rest assured that this amazingly evil Empire has finally died, even if very few noticed this.

P.S. While writing this column my thoughts turned to Major General Qasem Soleimani, who was cowardly murdered (he was on a diplomatic mission) by Trump. I imagined what he would have said if somebody had offered him the following deal: Haj Qasem – would you agree to be murdered by the modern Crusaders if your martyrdom would turn out to be the “straw” which will break the Empire’s “camel” back? I think that he would reply with tears of joy in his eyes “Glory be to God for allowing me this immense honor and joy and for allowing me to become a shadid (God’s witness)!” Soleimani was a soldier, the real thing, not a disguised businessman or politician, and he knew that he could die literally every moment of his life. He died as a general in charge of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and of its elite Quds Force. It sure looks to me that Trump in his ignorant arrogance gave Soleimani the best death he could have wished for. May this great man rest in peace!

إردوغان بين بايدن وترامب.. أحلاهما مرّ

ترامب وإردوغان في البيت الأبيض - 13 نوفمبر 2019 (أ.ف.ب)
حسني محلي

حسني محلي 

المصدر: الميادين نت

22 تشرين اول 16:58

لا تخفي أنقرة قلقها من احتمالات فوز جو بايدن المعروف بمواقفه السلبية تجاه تركيا، وخصوصاً في خلافاتها مع اليونان وقبرص، على الرغم من تضامنه مع إسلاميي “الربيع العربي” عندما كان نائباً لأوباما.

بعد أن هدّد ترامب وتوعَّد بإعلان الإخوان المسلمين تنظيماً إرهابياً خلال حملته الانتخابية السابقة، وهو ما تراجع عنه لاحقاً بسبب السياسات الأميركية التقليدية، استمرت واشنطن في علاقاتها “المميزة” مع أنقرة، على الرغم من سياسات المد والجزر بين الطرفين، أي ترامب و”الإسلامي” إردوغان.

وعلى الرغم من اتهامات الرئيس إردوغان لواشنطن بتقديم كلّ أنواع الدعم لوحدات حماية الشعب الكردية في سوريا، فقد تهرّبت أنقرة من توتير العلاقة مع حليفتها الاستراتيجية الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، رغم تغريدات الرئيس ترامب على موقع تويتر، والتي هدّد من خلالها إردوغان وتوعّده في حال اعتدى على كرد سوريا، ثم الرسالة التي أرسلها، وفيها الكثير من الإهانات الشَّخصية له.

في المقابل، لم تمنع هذه التهديدات والإهانات إردوغان من الاستمرار في علاقاته مع بوتين، والتي شهدت بدورها الكثير من حالات المد والجزر التي استفاد منها ترامب، إذ عمل على ترسيخ الوجود العسكري الأميركي شرق الفرات، بعد أن أضاء الضوء الأخضر لإردوغان كي تسيطر قواته على المنطقة الممتدة بين تل أبيض ورأس العين بعرض 110 كم من الحدود السورية مع تركيا شرق الفرات، وهو ما تحقَّق للأخير بفضل الضوء الأخضر الروسي، فلولاه منذ البداية (آب/أغسطس 2016)، لما كان الحديث الآن عن خلافات روسية – تركية في إدلب أو ليبيا، وأخيراً القوقاز حيث الحرب الأذربيجانية الأرمينية.

ولم تمنع هذه الخلافات الطرفين من الاستمرار في التعاون الواسع في العديد من المجالات، ومنها الغاز الطبيعي وبناء المفاعل النووي جنوب تركيا، وأخيراً موضوع صواريخ “أس 400″، التي كانت، وما زالت، الموضوع الأهم في الفتور والتوتر بين واشنطن وأنقرة، من دون أن يتحول هذا التوتر إلى مواجهة ساخنة بين الطرفين، على الرغم من تهديدات ترامب والمسؤولين الأميركيين المستمرة لإردوغان، وكأنّ الجميع يمثل، ليس فقط في هذا الموضوع، بل في كل الأمور التي تحولت إلى قاسم مشترك في علاقات تركيا مع كل من روسيا وأميركا.

يأتي ذلك في الوقت الذي يراهن الكثيرون على المواقف المحتملة للرئيس إردوغان خلال المرحلة القريبة القادمة، أي بعد الانتخابات الأميركية التي ستنعكس بنتائجها على سياسات تركيا الداخلية والخارجية، وبشكل خاص تحركات إردوغان الإقليمية، أي في الساحات التي لها علاقة مباشرة وغير مباشرة بالتنسيق والتعاون أو الخلافات التركية – الروسية، فأنقرة لا تخفي قلقها من احتمالات فوز جو بايدن المعروف بمواقفه السلبية تجاه تركيا، وخصوصاً في خلافاتها مع اليونان وقبرص، على الرغم من تضامنه مع إسلاميي “الربيع العربي” عندما كان نائباً للرئيس أوباما.

ولم تهمل أنقرة حسابات التأقلم سريعاً مع تبعات هذا الاحتمال الذي تتوقعه استطلاعات الرأي الأميركية. في المقابل، تتخذ أنقرة كل التدابير لمواجهة مفاجآت المرحلة القادمة في حال بقاء الرئيس ترامب في البيت الأبيض، لأنه سيستمر في سياساته الحالية التي يريد لها أن تحقق انتصاراً حاسماً ومطلقاً لتل أبيب، وهو ما قد يحرج إردوغان، بعد المعلومات التي تتوقع لقطر أن تلحق بركب التطبيع، مع الحديث عن احتمالات المصالحة السعودية – القطرية قبل المصالحة السعودية مع “إسرائيل” أو بعدها. وقد تسبقها مصالحة أو استسلام سوداني وعماني ومغربي وجيبوتي لـ”إسرائيل”، إن صحَّ التعبير، في حال فوز ترامب. وسيدفع كل ذلك ترامب إلى الاستعجال في حسم مساوماته السياسية وحربه النفسية مع إردوغان، ليقول له: “اختر لنفسك موقعاً ما في مخطَّطاتي العاجلة، وأثبت لي ولنا جميعاً أنك حليف صادق وموثوق به دائماً”.

وقد يدفع ذلك إردوغان إلى التفكير في تقرير مصير علاقاته مع الرئيس بوتين بعد وعود واضحة من الرئيس ترامب بتقديم كل أنواع الدعم السياسي والمالي والاستراتيجيّ، ليساعده ذلك على تحديد إطار ومضمون الدور التركي في سوريا وليبيا والعراق والقوقاز، بل والعديد من دول البلقان والدول الأفريقية، وأهمها الصومال.

وفي هذه الحالة، هل سيستمرّ إردوغان في تحالفاته التقليديّة مع الإسلاميين في المنطقة، في حال رضوخ حليفه الأكبر الشيخ تميم لمطالب وشروط المصالحة الخليجية التي ستعني في الوقت نفسه المصالحة مع “إسرائيل”، وهي جميعاً ضدّ المزاج الشخصي للرئيس إردوغان، الذي لا يخفي عبر مقولاته في الداخل والخارج الحديث عن مشاريعه العقائدية على طريق إقامة الدولة الإسلامية بنكهتها العثمانية التركية التي تشجَّع لها إسلاميو المنطقة، وبايعوه ضد العدو التقليدي آل سعود وأميرهم الشاب محمد المتهم بجريمة جمال خاشقجي الشنيعة؟! وكيف سيحصل ذلك؟

وتتحدَّث المعلومات هنا، ولو كانت شحيحة، عن احتمالات الانفراج في العلاقات التركية مع مصر، لسدّ الطريق على التحركات السعودية والإماراتية، وهو ما قد يعني تجميداً مرحلياً في الدعم التركي للإخوان المسلمين. ولا يخفي السوريون تخوّفهم من مثل هذا الاحتمال، وخصوصاً بعد الانسحاب من نقاط المراقبة التركية في جوار إدلب، في الوقت الذي تراقب أنقرة، عن كثب، ما كشف عنه الإعلام الأميركي، وبشكل مقصود، عن خفايا زيارة مسؤولين من البيت الأبيض إلى دمشق، وصادف ذلك عودة الرحلات الجوية بين دمشق وكل من قطر والإمارات، فالأولى حليفة إردوغان، والثانية من ألد أعدائه.

وبات واضحاً أن إردوغان سيجد نفسه في وضع لا يحسد عليه، أياً كانت صحة الاحتمالات والتوقعات، أي بفوز ترامب أو هزيمته أمام الديموقراطي جو بايدن، الذي لا شك في أنه سيتحرك وفق توصيات هيلاري كلينتون، صديقة أحمد داوود أوغلو، وهو الآن من ألدّ أعداء إردوغان. كما سيضع بايدن توصيات نائبه كامالا هاريس وزوجها اليهودي بعين الاعتبار خلال تعامله مع كل الملفات ذات العلاقة المباشرة وغير المباشرة بسياسات إردوغان الخارجيّة، وهي لها أيضاً علاقة مباشرة بمجمل الحسابات الإسرائيلية.

وحينها، سيجد الرئيس إردوغان نفسه أمام خيارات صعبة ومعقَّدة جداً، ما سيضطره إلى وضع النقاط على الحروف في مجمل سياساته الخارجية بانعكاساتها المحتملة على سياساته الداخلية، بعد أن اعترف الأسبوع الماضي بفشله في تطبيق مشروعه الفكري العقائدي، أي أسلمة الأمة والدولة التركية.

ولا شكَّ في أنّ كلّ هذه التناقضات ستضعه أمام امتحان صعب جداً، سيدفعه إلى تحديد المسارات الجديدة لسياساته الخارجية التي ستتطلَّب منه تقرير مصير علاقاته مع الرئيس بوتين في سوريا في الدرجة الأولى، لينتقل منها إلى ملفات أبسط بكثير في ليبيا والقوقاز، فالجميع يعرف أن سوريا كانت بوابة الانفتاح والتدخل التركي باتجاه العالم العربي، حيث أصبحت تركيا طرفاً مباشراً وأساسياً في جميع ملفاته، بما في ذلك مساوماته مع الرئيس بوتين حول كل العناوين الرئيسية، ليس في سوريا فقط، بل لاحقاً في ليبيا، والآن في القوقاز، في الوقت الَّذي لم يهمل إردوغان تحدياته للدول الأوروبية بسبب دعمها لقبرص واليونان، وهو بحاجة إلى التوتر معها لتحريك المشاعر القومية والدينية “ضد أعداء الأمة والدولة التركية”!.

هذا بالطبع إن لم تكن كلّ هذه المعطيات الحالية جزءاً من سيناريوهات متفق عليها مسبقاً بين بوتين وإردوغان، وهو احتمال ضعيف، إن لم نقل مستحيلاً، إلا في حالة واحدة، وهي المعجزة، لأنها ستعني في هذه الحالة انتقال تركيا من خانة التحالف الاستراتيجي مع الغرب منذ العام 1946 إلى الخندق المعادي، وهو أيضاً مستحيل بسبب الكثير من المعطيات التاريخية والسياسية التي ستعرقل مثل هذا الاحتمال. وآخر مثال على ذلك حرص أنقرة على التحالف السياسي والعسكري والاستراتيجي مع الرئيس الأوكراني “اليهودي” زالانسكي، العدو الأكبر لموسكو، والمدعوم من واشنطن ومعظم عواصم الاتحاد الأوروبي.

وقد أثبتت معظمها، رغم خلافاتها مع إردوغان، أنها ما زالت في عقلية الحرب الباردة ضد روسيا بعد 30 سنة من تمزق الاتحاد السوفياتي الذي كان العدو الأخطر بالنسبة إلى تركيا بسبب العداءات التاريخية والخطر الشيوعي. وبسقوطه، تنفَّست تركيا الصعداء، ولم تخفِ فرحتها لاستقلال الجمهوريات الإسلامية في القوقاز وآسيا الوسطى، وهي ذات أصل تركي، حالها حال جمهوريات الحكم الذاتي داخل حدود روسيا الحالية، وكانت جميعاً جزءاً من نظرية الحزام الأخضر للثنائي الأميركي اليهودي كيسنجر وبريجنسكي.

وفي جميع الحالات، وأياً كانت حسابات كل الأطراف في ما يتعلق بالمنطقة، فقد بات واضحاً أن الأيام القليلة القادمة، سواء مع ترامب أو بايدن، ستحمل في طياتها الكثير من المفاجآت المثيرة بالنسبة إلى المنطقة عموماً، كما ستضع إردوغان وجهاً لوجه أمام اختباره الأكبر في سياساته الخارجية، وسنرى معاً وقريباً مؤشراتها الجديدة في سوريا، لأنها قفل المرحلة القادمة ومفتاحه بالنسبة إلى الجميع!

فهل دمشق مستعدة وقادرة مع حليفاتها على مواجهة مفاجآت هذه المرحلة بكل معطياتها الصعبة والمعقدة؟ وهل استخلصت الدروس الكافية والضرورية من جميع محنها وأخطائها، حتى يتسنى لها الانتصار على جميع أعدائها أم أنها ستبقى ورقة في مهب الرياح الإقليمية والدولية، كما هي عليه منذ 9 سنوات، والسبب في ذلك هو حسابات إردوغان في سوريا؟

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POTUS Punk vs. Dem Dementia

October 15, 2020

POTUS Punk vs. Dem Dementia

by Pepe Escobar and cross posted with Strategic Culture Foundation

The whole planet is enthralled, appalled, shocked and awed by the spectacle of democracy as enacted under the shadow of messianic imperialism – complete with a slew of slimy, smoking gun October Surprises.

We’re in total Frank Underwood territory. And as befits the ultimate “society of the simulacrum” pictured by Baudrillard back in the swingin’ 1980s, all those similarities with a Wrestlemania spectacular are obviously not mere coincidence.

Let’s start with the polls.

All manner of polls are circulating like whirling dervishes. Most highlight myriad Dem paths to victory and an inexorable Highway to Hell for Trump. A poll by The Economist gives Joe “Walking Dead” Biden a whopping 91% chance – remember Hillary in 2016? – of winning the Electoral College.

A Dem-fueled consensus is emerging that Trump – relentlessly depicted as a deranged, lunatic proto-fascist who’s bad for business worldwide – will dispute results in any Republican-led state which he may narrowly lose, as in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Yet on the campaign trail, it’s a completely different story. Evidence shows that on The Walking Dead’s rallies, there are more people from the Biden bus and reporters than flesh-and-blood Dem voters. The Biden-Harris campaign, demonstrating its matchless P.R. skills, spins these rallies as campaign secrets.

Team Trump’s long-shot strategy seems to have been unveiled by the President himself: “We are going to be counting ballots for the next two years (…) We have the advantage if we go back to Congress. I think it’s 26 to 22 or something because it’s counted one vote per state.”

That was a reference to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution: if state electors can’t agree on a president, the decision goes to the House. And then each of the 50 states gets one vote. So picture small GOP-controlled states such as Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming (each with one Republican in the House) having the same weight as California (52 members in the House, 45 of them Democrats.)

Advantage Trump: as it stands, it’s indeed 26 to 22, with two – Pennsylvania and Michigan – basically tied.

Ask the quant

Internal GOP polls show that while the Biden-Harris campaign is not knocking on any doors, Trump volunteers have actually swarmed no less than 20 million homes in swing states.

Combine it with a new Gallup Poll showing that 56% of Americans state they are better off now under Trump than four years ago under Obama/Biden. Call it the return of “It’s the economy, stupid.”

The Trafalgar Group – which correctly called the 2106 election – bets that Trump narrowly wins the Electoral College with 275 votes.

JPMorgan’s top quant Marko Kolanovic has exhaustively mapped changes in voter registration to dismiss virtually every poll showing a Dem sweep. This implies that Trump may well end up winning the Holy Trinity: Pennsylvania (20 votes), Florida (29 votes) and North Carolina (15 votes).

And to top it off, something more exotic than a black hole eating a star has happened in this October Surprise-laden week: CNN decided to practice real journalism and eviscerated Nancy Pelosi on camera.

That may be quite a bad omen for President-in-Waiting Kamala Harris, who very few remember was forged as the heir to the Obama-Pelosi axis in a secret meeting in the Hamptons way back in the summer of 2017.

Follow the money

Now let’s Follow The Money.

That’s a slam dunk. For Republicans, the top bagman is casino schemer Sheldon Adelson – who literally bought Congress

for a paltry $150 million. For Democrats, it’s Haim Saban – who owns his own think tank and is Hillary’s go-to moneyman. The Dem dementia is essentially a bagman op.

To make it even more digestible, both Adelson and Saban are rabid Israeli-firsters. A dissident Beltway intel op cuts all corners: “The Mafia front man Sheldon Adelson financed Trump for Israeli insurance even though Israel was for Hillary.”

Four years ago, selected New York sources I was in touch with correctly called the election result at least 10 days before the fact.

One of these, a New York business tycoon intimate with assorted Masters of the Universe in control of Wall Street, once again goes to the jugular:

The Deep State governs both Republicans and Democrats. Trump has to work within the system. He knows it. I am a friend of Donald and I know he wants to do the right thing. But he is not in charge. He certainly wants to be friends with Russia and China. He is a businessman. He wants to make deals with countries not fight them. We were among those who set the main campaign features for him in 2016: stop rigged currencies destroying domestic industries, stop unlimited immigration destroying the lower classes wages and encourage detente with Russia and China. Largely nothing has happened in four years.”

Still, adds another New York player, “Trump does 90% of what they want anyway. Better to keep a villain at the top to blame and keep the proles running in circles.”

On the financial front, that will never be admitted publicly: but Wall Street, while projecting a mere pro-Dem façade, is not interested in a Democrat “sweep”, because that would tank Wall Street stocks. A contested/protracted election would go the same way – with Goldman Sachs projecting a nightmare scenario of the S&P down to only 3,100 points.

Thus the preferred, hush hush, Wall Street scenario: a Trump win and more juicy tax cuts – in parallel with the sentiment that Wall Street’s priority is for the Fed to keep showering trillions of dollars in helicopter money whatever happens. After all the only “policy” in town is that Wall Street turned the Fed into a hedge fund.

For its part, what Team Trump certainly does not want is the Great Reset – to be officially “launched” at a virtual Davos in January 2021.

And all this while Goldman Sachs, once again, is adamant that the only way to “save” the nation from it humongous, ever-exploding debt is to devalue the U.S. dollar.

Hillary wants a new job

In the shadow play – or Wrestlemania plot – of Trump’s face-off against the Deep State, another of those New York players confirms that, “Trump was not allowed to do much of his agenda. That shows you where the real power is. The military-industrial complex wants Trump in as he is giving them everything they want for a giant military buildup. But Biden will not make that commitment.”

Clapper, Brennan, Comey and Mueller “were just following orders and are being protected.” As for warmongering narcissistic hyena

Hillary Clinton, she needs a Biden/Harris win essentially to stay out of jail, a follow-up to a “secret” deal struck with Obama which had her bow out to the former President as the de facto leader of the vast DNC machinery.

Anyone with a brain across the Beltway knows The Walking Dead was chosen because he does not even qualify as a place mat. Assuming he would be elected president, the real power behind the throne will be the Obama-Pelosi axis – and their usual suspect masters. Welcome to the reign of President Kamala.

Hillary though is leaving nothing to chance, doubling down and taking no prisoners. She has just released a 5,000-word manifesto which reads as an application to become head of the Pentagon.

The fact that with all the plot twists key vectors of the Deep State continue to be untouchable should be read as the proverbial D.C. swamp protecting their flock. More than the possibility that Trump is unqualified when it comes to picking minions, more realistically he was never given any decent options: so he was stuck with nefarious specimens such as Gina “Queen of Torture” Haspel, The Warring Mustache John Bolton, and Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo.

Which bring us to Attorney General William Barr – and a persistent question across many Beltway corridors: how come there have been no indictments as evidence piles up of interlocking Deep State-related shenanigans.

Simple: Barr is CIA, part of the old Daddy Bush gang, recruited when he was still in high school, in 1971. When Daddy Bush became CIA director in 1976, Barr stepped into the CIA’s legal office and started his steady climb, culminating in 1991 as Chief Legal Counsel to Daddy Bush’s presidency.

Needless to add, Barr subsequently squashed every possible investigation on Bush, Clinton and assorted CIA ops, from BCCI to the theft of PROMIS software.

No one will volunteer to be on the record showing how Trump selected Barr – or how the Deep State made it happen. The fact is Barr was appointed shortly after the death of Daddy Bush. It’s unlikely that Team Trump have “turned” CIA asset Barr away from the swamp – with or without Hillary’s 33,000 deleted emails.

And that’s what leads those New York players to bet that Barr won’t go after any star in the Deep State galaxy.

Still the fact remains that the NSA has stored every possible call, chat or email on its massive server farms. Trump has the power to order everything to be released – as he did. Yet, as it stands, the proles have only been offered a WWF-themed sitcom.

“I’m back” on steroids

The total balkanization of culture in the U.S. into bulletproof containers of irrationality is precluding any possibility of civilized debate. What’s left is an endless proliferation of fake actors, paid troll armies, bots, mob outrage packaged as chocolate bars, all out hysteria.

Whatever happens, get ready for some major Kill Bill mayhem ahead.

And into this shooting war – not only metaphorical – steps John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, Sex Pistol legend and a millionaire resident of the tony parts of Venice beach in L.A. He’s voting Trump.

That’s the ultimate crowning of POTUS Punk – except that Trump is more Village People (“Young man/ there’s no nee to feel down”) than the Sex Pistols in Holidays in the Sun or the Dead Kennedys in Holiday in Cambodia.

Cue to POTUS Punk in Florida, “I’m back” on steroids, working an excited crowd of thousands like a pro, complete with YMCA dance moves at the end: “I’ll kiss the guys, and the beautiful women…”

Now compare it to “Sleepy Joe” in Ohio, in front of, well, nobody really: “I’m running as a proud Democrat…for the Senate”.

Last week an astonishing eight people showed up for a Biden-Harris rally in Arizona.

And the racket goes on while a pandemic with an Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of roughly 0.14% – according to the WHO’s own estimate – has cost the global economy no less than a whopping $28 trillion, according to the IMF.

Oh yes: it ain’t over till slim Britney “I Did It Again” sings.

US Election: Mohammed Bin Salman Braces for The Loss of a Key Ally

US Election: Mohammed Bin Salman Braces for The Loss of a Key Ally

By Madawi Al-Rasheed – MEE

No doubt Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman listened to US presidential candidate Joe Biden’s statement on the second anniversary of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with apprehension.

Biden’s statement this month was a strong condemnation of the murder by Saudi operatives of Khashoggi, who had been a US resident since 2017. Biden promised to withdraw US support for the war in Yemen launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015, and noted: “Today, I join many brave Saudi women and men, activists, journalists, and the international community in mourning Khashoggi’s death and echoing his call for people everywhere to exercise their universal rights in freedom.”

Such a statement by someone who may become the master of the White House has surely sent shock waves through Riyadh.

Shifting public opinion

In contrast, two years ago, US President Donald Trump uncritically adopted the Saudi narrative about the slain journalist as an “enemy of the state”. Trump shamelessly boasted about shielding the murderers, above all bin Salman, and protecting him from further denunciation by Congress. Trump sensed a major shift in public opinion, and above all in Congress, in favor of vigorous scrutiny of US authoritarian allies in the Middle East – above all, the Saudi regime.

Many Republican and Democratic congressmen condemned Saudi Arabia and its authoritarian ruler for committing crimes against their own citizens on foreign soil, and continuing a policy of zero tolerance towards activists and dissidents. Shielding bin Salman from further scrutiny and possible sanctions allowed the crown prince to enjoy two years of security and tranquility, which may not be readily available after 3 November, should Biden win the presidential election.

Yet, one must be cautious when anticipating great US policy shifts if a Democrat is elected to the White House. The previous record of Democratic leadership has been more in line with a long US tradition of supporting authoritarian proteges in the Middle East, above all in Saudi Arabia, despite being more likely to invoke US values and their contradiction with the realist policy of propping up the region’s dictators.

Barack Obama went further than any previous US president by withdrawing support for former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, rather than openly and actively embracing the democratic forces that toppled him in 2011. By failing to unconditionally support a long-term US ally, Obama antagonized the Saudis, who interpreted his position on Egypt as abandoning a loyal partner.

The Saudis feared that the Arab uprisings would leave them exposed to serious political change, without the US superpower rushing to protect them against a dramatic fall. Saudi leaders knew they could not count on Obama to embrace them without demanding serious reforms. In a famous interview, Obama reminded Gulf leaders that their biggest problems were domestic and encouraged them to stop amplifying “external threats”, such as Iran’s regional influence, while silencing critical voices at home.

Sense of betrayal

The Saudi leadership was further annoyed by a historic deal between the US, several European countries and Iran, facilitated by Oman. The Saudis realized how far a US Democratic president could go towards marginalizing them, without openly denouncing their domestic and regional policies in the Middle East.   

That didn’t sit well with Saudi autocrats, who have always aimed to paint a picture of a kingdom besieged by hostile regional powers, while enjoying the bliss of harmony and the support of its domestic constituency. Obama publicly debunked this Saudi myth and negotiated with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s archenemy for decades.

The Saudis felt a sense of betrayal, which Trump quickly abated when he fully endorsed bin Salman – or, more accurately, the crown prince’s promises to invest in the US economy and to seriously consider normalizing relations with Israel, both high prices for US tolerance of bin Salman’s excesses at home and abroad.  

Should Biden win the US election, bin Salman will be on alert. Any word uttered by the White House that falls short of endorsing the young prince and reminding Congress of the centrality of the “historical partnership” between the US and Saudi Arabia will automatically be interpreted in Riyadh as a hostile stand.

Yet the rambling discourses of the Democrats about US values is no longer convincing, if not accompanied by real policy changes. Withdrawing support from autocrats is not enough. The region and its activists expect more than passive support from a country that boasts about its democracy and civil rights. They expect real and concrete measures that undermine the longevity of authoritarian rule, if the region and the rest of the world are to enjoy political change, economic prosperity and social harmony.

Loss of faith

The first step is to starve those autocrats of weapons used against their own people and their neighbors. Whether Democrats will reconsider the relentless US export of arms and training programs to Saudi Arabia and its neighbors remains to be seen. At the least, Biden could make the export of weapons to Saudi Arabia conditional on meeting international standards on human rights, and on serious political changes to allow Saudis to be represented in a national assembly. The Saudi people could do the rest.

Frankly, the Middle East, and for that matter the rest of the world, have lost faith in the US. Americans have yet to calculate the costs of having elected Trump and the ensuing reputational damage. Should they bring a Democrat to power next month, they will struggle to correct not only the short history of Trump’s failings, but also more than half a century of misguided US policy in the Middle East. 

From now until early November, bin Salman will no doubt have sleepless nights in anticipation of losing a good partner in Washington – one who allowed him to get away with murder.

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

CIA-Linked WaPo Endorses Biden/Harris

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Most establishment media are lining up for Biden/Harris over Trump.

In 2016, the WSJ was an exception to the rule, calling Trump’s candidacy a “political disruption (that challenges a) broken Washington (that) needs to be shaken up and refocused…”

“(W)ho better to do it than an outsider beholden to neither political party?”

On Saturday, the Journal headlined:

“Trailing in the Polls and Time Running Out, Trump Looks for One More Comeback”

He defied pollsters in 2016. Can he do it again on November 3?

He accumulated lots of nicknames in office, mostly unflattering.

If he beats long odds a second time around next month, he’ll be a comeback kid twice over.

Newspaper endorsements once mattered, no longer as much with voters able to follow political and other news digitally.

According to The Hill, “research suggests that endorsements have greater importance with local races and local issues than at the national level.” 

“And newspaper endorsements don’t seem to help very much.” 

“When Donald Trump was the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, he received fewer endorsements from the editorial boards of the nation’s largest newspapers than any major party presidential candidate in (US) history. He won.”

The anti-Trump NYT endorsed Hillary in 2016, Biden/Harris this year.

In 2020, so did the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times, the LA Times, the Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and numerous other broadsheets so far.

Many newspapers haven’t published an endorsement so far.

The CIA-linked Washington Post announced for Biden/Harris on September 28.

Calling Trump “the worst president of modern times,” WaPo reinvented Joe Biden like the NYT and other broadsheets.

Ignoring his long history of shilling for powerful interests at the expense of peace, equity, justice and the rule of law, WaPo defied reality saying:

Biden “is exceptionally well-qualified, by character and experience, to meet the daunting challenges that the nation will face over the coming four years (sic).”

He never met a US war of aggression he didn’t wholeheartedly endorse.

As US senator, one of his aides once said he directed his team “to think up excuses for new hearings on drugs and crime every week—any connection, no matter how remote.” 

“He wanted cops at every public meeting. You’d have thought he was running for chief of police.”

He co-sponsored the repressive 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act.

It abolished parole for federal prisoners convicted after November 1987, limiting how much time sentences could be reduced for good behavior, among other repressive provisions.

He once boasted about legislation he backed for mandating five years imprisonment without parole for anyone caught with crack cocaine “no bigger than a quarter.”

Racist contempt for people of color and the nation’s most disadvantaged drove his repressive war on drugs and war on crime — most offenses targeted no greater than misdemeanors too minor to matter.

He once argued that Roe v. Wade (a woman’s right to control her own body) “went too far.”

Throughout his public life, he one-sidedly supported privileged interests over public health and welfare.

Like the NYT, WaPo falsely claimed Biden “would restore decency, honor and competence to America’s government” — what he failed to do through his near-half century as US senator and vice president.

His record in office is polar opposite “offer(ing) a deep commitment to finding common ground in service to making government work for the greatest number.”

WaPo reinvented Kamala Harris. Calling her Biden’s “most qualified choice” for running-mate ignored her disturbing prosecutorial and political history — a figure disdainful of due process and equal justice under law.

On domestic and geopolitical issues, they offer no “positive vision,” as WaPo claimed, just the opposite.

Time and again, US presidential aspirants endorse peace and stability over endless wars.

If elected, longstanding dirty business continues like always before without missing a beat.

Belligerence Biden supported as US senator and vice president will carry over to the White House if elected.

How he and Obama operated destructively for eight years will continue with him as president and commander-in-chief.

I oppose aspirants for high office from both right wings of the one-party state.

At the same time, I fear Biden in the White House more than Trump.

The incumbent continued wars he inherited and wages them by other means on China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

His regime orchestrated Evo Morales’ ouster in Bolivia, fascist tyranny replacing him.

His failed color revolution attempt in Belarus continues.

So does his regime’s plot to undermine Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Russia, along with falsely accusing the Kremlin of poisoning Navalny with novichok.

No matter who serves as US president or in high congressional posts, privileged interests are served exclusively at the expense of ordinary people everywhere.

It’s the American way, a fantasy democracy from inception, never the real thing.

VISIT MY WEBSITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

My two Wall Street books are timely reading:

“How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion, and Class War”

Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity”

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.

Regression as a National Theme

October 2, 2020 

Lawrence Davidson | Author | Common Dreams
Lawrence Davidson is professor of history
emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.
He has been publishing his analyses
of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy,
international and humanitarian law
and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

An Analysis (2 October 2020) by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—Going Backwards

Led by a reactionary, autocratic faction of the Republican Party, the United States has taken another step backward in terms of social progress. This comes with Donald Trump’s nomination of a religiously motivated conservative, Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court. Barrett, a devout Catholic and presently a federal appeals court judge, was nominated specifically at the behest of the president’s fundamentalist Christian supporters. They, in turn, are hell-bent (this term is employed purposely) on enforcing their moral sensibilities through secular law. 

I use the words “another step” because, in multiple different forms, this slippage has been going on for a while. It started with President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and his confused idea that the problem with American society—a society of now over 300 million people, a poverty rate of at least 10.5%, no mandated health insurance, a place where national and state regulations were the only thing standing between the citizen and environmental degradation, an unhealthy workplace and economic instability—was the size and intrusive nature of the federal government.

With occasional but always temporary pauses, the country has been following this Reaganite campaign for small government ever since. How so? All the “intrusive” rules and regulations that protect the workplace, the environment and the economy, have come under attack from people wrapping themselves in the cloak of conservatism and championing a perverted notion of individual freedom. The whole national domestic orbit has been thrown into retrograde motion.

Donald Trump is the apparent culmination of this self-destructive process. Even before he ran for president on the Republican ticket, Trump was suspected of only masquerading as a conservative to secure a political base. Subsequently, he has been described as a misogynist, narcissist, congenital liar, bully, autocrat, and con man. Nonetheless, Trump was voted into the White House in 2016.

President Trump has turned the Republican Party into a rump affair remade in his own image, essentially purging all moderate Republicans from the party ranks. His singular achievements as president have been to make the rich richer, keep the poor poor, and render most of the population more vulnerable to a range of social, economic and environmental ills. He has also sought to befriend and defend every un-American, potentially criminal outfit in the country, ranging from the Nazis and anarchist armed militias to organized religious fanatics.

In essence, Trump seeks to do to the U.S. as a whole what he has done to the Republican Party. That is why a very large number of government agencies are now headed up by henchmen whose number one job is to cripple their own agencies. For those branches not so easily sabotaged, Trump seeks to find a way to load them up with those he believes will follow his lead. Presently, he is moving to do just that to the Supreme Court.

The unfortunate catalyst for this effort at court stacking is the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg personified for many the nation’s potential to move forward. She was a progressive figure who fought for civil rights, particularly those of women. As such, she became a symbol of resistance to the Trump administration’s efforts to move the Supreme Court to the right. Afflicted with cancer, Ginsburg was, alas, unable to outlive Donald Trump’s presidency. 

Now Trump seeks to replace her on the court with a candidate who, unlike President John Kennedy (a Catholic who was once falsely accused of being a tool of the Papacy), might indeed turn out to be more influenced by “orthodox” Catholicism than the U.S. Constitution. On the one hand, judge Barrett has asserted that legal careers ought to be seen “as a means to the end of serving God.” On the other, she says “I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.” These two statements are in direct contradiction. If the first is true, the second is certainly false. This is not the kind of conflict of interest you want for an arbiter of the U.S. Constitution.

Trump, of course, does not care about religion, nor has he read the U.S. Constitution, and thus is uninterested in a mandated separation of church and state. From Trump’s point of view, Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination was made not an act of religious faith or made on conservative principle, it is rather an act of political opportunism. With it Trump hopes to garner support in the impending election among a host of Christian fundamentalist voters who fantasize that he is an agent of God. For these fanatics, Barrett’s appointment to the court would serve as proof of this absurd conviction.   

America isn’t the only place such dangerous craziness can take place, but that offers little consolation. Just how depressed should we be due to this unfortunate turn of events? It depends on whether you take a long range or short range view. 

Part II—Short Range

Ginsburg’s death was a bad break at a time of serious confrontation between progressive and regressive forces. By this I refer to the next presidential election cycle and the question whether the country will be guided by the concepts of civil and human rights espoused during the 1960s. Will its citizens support the concepts of racial egalitarianism? Will they also uphold same sex-marriage, abortion rights, fair immigration rules, health care for all, and the ongoing struggle for rational gun control? Will they make the issue of climate change a major priority? Will the citizenry even maintain the traditional economic reforms instituted by Franklin Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression? In the short run, Trump’s ascendency, bolstered by millions of fundamentalist Christians (whose loyalty is to an anti-humanist religious ideology) and tens of thousands of libertarians and anarchists, makes these open questions. And now with Ginsburg’s demise, Trump will get another chance to undermine progressive standards with a reactionary appointment to the Supreme Court. 

Some might say that, despite such a court appointment, this retrograde movement will end after the upcoming November election. The assumption here is that Donald Trump and his rump Republican Party will lose the presidency and control of Congress. Then, after overcoming the illicit legal maneuvers and temper-tantrum violence the right attempts, the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, will become president. At that point, presumably, he will begin to put the country back on a progressive path. Certainly, if Biden wins the presidency and the Democrats also win both houses of Congress, the potential for forward movement on all the issues mentioned above becomes possible. However, it is not guaranteed. 

Joe Biden’s present slogan of “Make America America Again”   can mean just about anything, but it seems not to imply making the nation more progressive than it was, say, under Barack Obama. Under Obama there was moderate progress on the issue of health care and the country was dragged out of yet another Republican-facilitated recession. On the other hand, under Obama, immigrants were deported in high numbers and drones were regularly hitting wedding parties and picnics in Afghanistan. 

Can Biden go beyond Obama in a forward direction? When you consider this question keep in mind more than the fact that the country will most likely be burdened by a screwed-up Supreme Court. Joe Biden himself has issues. He is a lifetime institutional politician—a guy who believes in, and plays by, long-established political rules. In this sense, he is Donald Trump’s opposite. Trump is willing to break all such rules, ostensibly to “make America great again.” Biden will reassert the primacy of tradition—that is, play by traditional political rules—and thereby “make America America again.” Doing so will not bring with it an era of greater progress—unless circumstances force Biden and the Democrat’s to take a “great leap forward.”

Part III—Long Range

Historically, what is usually needed to usher in significant progressive change? In our modern era such change usually follows catastrophes—mostly wars, disease and economic downturns. 

Modern wars and related military research are famous for providing leaps forward in technology. Everything from ambulance services, radar, and jet engines to intravenous blood transfusions, microwave ovens and duct tape comes to us through this route. Of course, war is a horrible way of motivating technological development. It is a truly murderous tradeoff. 

Epidemic diseases can spur medical progress. The outbreaks of viral epidemics such as MERS, AIDS and now Covid-19 have encouraged treatment research for virus infections and vaccine development. Again, it is death and debilitation that moves things forward at an accelerated rate. 

And then there is economic depression. In the U.S., progressive steps such as Social Security, collective bargaining and unionization, and various forms of necessary business regulation designed to prevent both corruption and instability followed the Great Depression (roughly 1929 

 to 1941). This catastrophic economic plunge, following decades of “boom and bust” instability, also encouraged the average citizen (minus some Republicans) to accept an activist government working for the interests of society as a whole.

There are other major stimuli to progressive change but they too tend to have their origins in dire circumstances such as long-term inequality, discrimination and exploitation. Over time these conditions spur uprisings that may overcome these socio-cultural evils. Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement is an example of how this works within a democracy. Today’s Black Lives Matter may also have potential to move us in a progressive direction.

Part IV—Going Forward

Assuming Joe Biden’s election to the presidency and Democratic control of both houses of Congress, is there a catastrophic circumstance that might push him to go beyond his stated goal of simply “Making America America Again”? Well we know that Covid-19 will still be with us in 2021 but the discovery process for a vaccine is already going very fast. Here Biden may do little more than relieve us all of Trump’s self-serving confusions and provide a more trustworthy, science-based platform for the curative process to proceed—which is something we should all be thankful for. Still, there might be another potentially catastrophic situation waiting around the corner. That possibility is continued economic breakdown and a painful restructuring process.

The U.S. is presently running a $170.5 billion budget deficit as well as a $63.6 billion trade deficit. The nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) or total worth of all production was down 31.7% in the second quarter of 2020. These figures will eventually necessitate an increase in taxes if the government is to be in a position to assist the citizenry in economic recovery. Trump, of course, has a regressive policy of as little taxation as possible and no help to the states or the citizens. 

The U.S. unemployment rate stands at 8.4%, which is down two percentage points as a marginal recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic took place. However, this proved temporary and the rate is now going up. Covid-19 led to a loss of 22 million jobs in the United States, and only about half of them have been recovered. Until there is an effective vaccine, not much additional progress on this front can be expected. 

Even with a vaccine, it might turn out that the pandemic has permanently changed the structure of the economy, making It unlikely that all of the lost jobs will come back. Even before Covid-19, retail was shifting to on-line sales to the detriment of normal retail stores and malls. The pandemic has greatly accelerated this movement. Work-from-home arrangements are leaving office space unoccupied and city-based luncheon eateries near empty. Overall, the restaurant business is shrinking. All of this will lead to higher levels of bankruptcies and unemployment for the foreseeable future. 

Under President Trump the approach to these changes would be to do nothing while claiming he was doing more than anyone else could or would do. Biden and the Democrats can be expected to be more proactive. This would hopefully go beyond the reestablishment of the programs and regulations Trump has destroyed. 

So what will Joe Biden do if he becomes president? He is not an original thinker. However, the worse the economy gets, the more violence from rightwing individuals and militias will manifest itself, and the more cases of police brutality there are, the more the Democrats will be pressured to institute progressive domestic reform (i.e. infrastructural renewal, debt reduction, police reforms, gun control, universal health care, etc.) I think we can count on these pressures persisting. 

Part V—Conclusion

The reader might have noticed a certain incompleteness in the above reasoning. That is, catastrophe can encourage regression as well as progression. Wars, pandemics and economic depressions have sometimes given rise to dictatorships and repression. Worse yet, quite often, this happens to the sound of cheering crowds.  

Throughout his presidency Trump has retained the support of roughly 35% of the U.S. adult population. Presently the adult population stands at 209,128,094, thus Trump supporters may number over 73 million citizens. That implies that even after four years of destructive behavior, these millions seem to still support the leadership of an incompetent authoritarian personality.

However, the entire adult population never actually votes. In the case of the United States a relatively large number of citizens are, like the permanently unemployed, no longer active in the political marketplace. That is, they pay little attention to electoral politics and don’t show up at the polls. In modern times it is rare that the percentage of eligible voters who actually turn out for presidential elections exceeds 60%. Using this number, that puts the actual voting population at 125,476,856. If we assume that 35% of this number supports Trump consistently, we get 43,916,899.

This may not be enough for Trump to win a second term as president—a fact that may actually save the country’s democracy. Yet this number is still very disturbing. The fact that just about 44 million Americans are willing to risk their democratic traditions and a relatively progressive future to follow a man without a conscience over a political cliff—an action that puts at risk not only their own country but, arguably, the entire planet—is certainly something to lose sleep over. Finally, this picture is not unique to the United States. It is probably true that one-third of any given population is susceptible to the overtures of a cult personality. 

Perhaps this last fact gives some insight into why history is full of civil and international disturbance. A large minority of any population is easily seduced into such engagements, dragging the rest of us along with them. That may help contextualize the choice U.S. citizens have come November 3rd. 

U.S. foreign policy toward Iran is ‘institutionally hegemonic’, says professor

Source

By Mohammad Homaeefar

October 4, 2020 – 12:31

TEHRAN – Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, a professor in global thought and comparative philosophies, believes that the U.S. foreign policy toward Iran is “institutionally hegemonic”, and that a Biden administration would in some way continue the confrontational approach.

“I have theorized that the U.S. foreign policy towards Iran as institutionally hegemonic. There are nuances of course, and there was a real difference between Obama and George W. Bush,” he told the Tehran Times in an interview conducted on Tuesday.

“If Iranians could come together in an election that fosters unity, and that brings to the fore a candidate with diplomatic diligence and empathy for the plight of ordinary Iranians, then the likelihood of any major national security threat is already minimized,” Arshin Adib-Moghaddam told the Tehran Times.

“But Biden is no Obama,” he opined. “While he will accentuate the language of diplomacy, the policies of his administration will continue to be recurrently confrontational. I have studied this dynamic in-depth in my forthcoming book What is Iran: Domestic Politics and International Relations in Five Musical Pieces (Cambridge University Press, 2020).”

Asked how a Biden administration would affect Iran, Adib-Moghaddam said Iran needs to focus on its own presidential elections which will determine the context of Iranian-U.S. relations by far more decisively than the deliberations of the White House.

“If Iranians could come together in an election that fosters unity, and that brings to the fore a candidate with diplomatic diligence and empathy for the plight of ordinary Iranians, then the likelihood of any major national security threat is already minimized,” he said.

He also argued that some elements of the Iranian state are by far more responsible for some international crises than any other institution, citing the problems of dual-nationals and the application of death penalty in Iran as two of the greatest issues facing the country.

Tensions arose between Tehran and Washington after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal, which was reached in 2015 between Iran and six major powers including the U.S.

The deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was reached when Barack Obama was the president of the United States.

“I am in no doubt that Biden would immediately fly to Europe, and put the JCPOA on top of the agenda,” Adib-Moghaddam said, responding to whether Biden would revive the nuclear pact.

“In Europe, he would be welcomed with great fanfare in order to reinstitute a positive image of the United States, one that is decisively tarnished by the Trump administration, certainly among a whole generation and globally,” he said.

The professor further said that the JCPOA is likely to be presented as a transatlantic initiative to bring Europe and the U.S. closer.

“I am in no doubt that Biden would immediately fly to Europe, and put the JCPOA on top of the agenda,” said the professor.

However, he continued, even a Biden presidency will take a “condescending” approach framed by occasional threats and demands for a change in Iran’s foreign policy behavior and domestic politics.

“Once the JCPOA is back on the table, it is absolutely crucial for the next Iranian president, to make any further steps towards verification entirely and uncompromisingly dependent on sanctions relief,” he said, adding, “Ordinary Iranians deserve nothing but that for their daily sufferings which are heart-breaking and unsustainable. Both the Khatami and the Rouhani administrations failed Iranians on this account.”

Professor Adib-Moghaddam was asked to comment on what would happen if Trump gets re-elected to rule the U.S. for the next four years. He said it would have the benefit that his administration would continue to be treated as a “quasi-pariah”.

Trump is probably the most hated politician in the world right now, and no self-respecting leader would want a photoshoot with him, he remarked.

“This perception seriously constraints the ability of this administration to forge a diplomatic consensus among its allies in Europe and beyond. On the negative side, the policy of threats, insults and sanctions would continue, with intermittent efforts towards provoking a military confrontation,” he noted.

On why the three European countries to the JCPOA – namely Britain, France, and Germany – have failed to protect Iran’s interests under the deal, Adib-Moghaddam said Europe doesn’t have the diplomatic backbone to translate diplomatic defiance of the United States into independent foreign policies.

“Europe doesn’t have the diplomatic backbone to translate diplomatic defiance of the United States into independent foreign policies,” Adib-Moghaddam noted.

“The JCPOA is a very good example for that,” he maintained. “Europe said no to the United States, most recently in its rebuke of the snapback travesty that has been rightly ridiculed in Brussels and London alike. But this negation of U.S. efforts to escalate the situation hasn’t translated into an alternative strategy.”

Asked whether Trump’s hatred toward Obama was a significant factor behind his withdrawal from the JCPOA, the professor said undoubtedly there is a pathological personal hatred that Trump feels towards Obama which stems from an obvious inferiority complex.

“He has also needed to contrast his type of politics quite radically from Obama’s to secure his right-wing constituency in the United States,” he said. “He can’t be a compromise candidate because he would lose the votes of those extremists.”

President Hassan Rouhani and his administrations have argued that the 2017-2018 widespread protests across Iran, which began on 28 December 2017 and lasted for two weeks, prompted Trump to exit the nuclear deal. Offering his take on the matter, Professor Adib-Moghaddam said he believes it is analytically false and politically dangerous to link events in Iran to foreign policies of other countries.

“It is a form of Gharbzadegi in reverse because it ultimately suggests that Iranians are not writing their own history. It is also a form of discrediting real grievances that must be addressed sooner or later to avert any crisis in the future,” he said.

“What is needed is a fresh start and a new way of framing Iran’s relations with the United States. The tired paradigms of the past are not only analytically wrong but amount to political self-harming,” the professor concluded.

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السياسة فن صناعة الأمل من واشنطن إلى بيروت

ناصر قنديل

يقول نابليون بونابرت إن مهمة السياسي الناجح هي أن يعرف كيف يبيع الأمل للشعب. وعبر التاريخ كانت السياسة شيئاً مختلفاً عن العقيدة، لكنها عندما تنبثق من عقيدة أو من الواقعية ومدارس المصلحة تشبه بعضها بصفتها فن صناعة الأمل، فيتفوّق منها مَن يكون أشدّ إقناعاً بصدقية قدرته على تحقيق وعوده، ويشكل هذا السعي للإقناع محور التنافس السياسي في الانتخابات، والحروب الإعلاميّة والنفسيّة، وتشكل الصدقية عنصراً حاسماً فيه، لكنها ليست العنصر الوحيد، وإلا بقي الرابح رابحاً والخاسر خاسراً. وفي مرات كثيرة ينجح عديمو الصدقية بالفوز في مباريات صناعة الأمل ويخسرها أصحاب المصداقية، وتدور كل معارك السياسة على سعي لا يتوقف على صناعة الأمل لجمهور يشكل بيئة القوة لصاحب السياسة، وتدمير الأمل عند فئة مقابلة تسمّى الخصم أو العدو، وهذا هو ما يُعرف بكي الوعي.

في واشنطن تدور منافسة رئاسية حامية الوطيس، تبدو مغايرة عن كل سابقاتها من مشهد المناظرة التي دارت بين الرئيس دونالد ترامب ومنافسه الديمقراطي جو بايدن، وبالمقارنة بين ما قدّمه الفريقان، وما قدّمه أسلافهما، ليست القضية بتدنّي مستوى النقاش واللجوء الى البذاءة والشتائم، كما علقت وسائل الإعلام الأميركية، بل بفقدان القدرة على المشاركة في صناعة الأمل، فعندما نعود للأمس القريب وحملتي كل من باراك أوباما الديمقراطي ودونالد ترامب الجمهوري، نجد المشاريع الانتخابية التي طغت على مطالعات المرشحين في المناظرات، ومهدت لكسبهم الفوز في الانتخابات، فقد تركزت حملة أوباما على عنواني سحب القوات الأميركية من العراق ولاحقاً من أفغانستان، وتعديل النظام الضريبي بما يتيح تأميناً صحياً منصفاً بحق الفقراء وذوي الدخل المحدود، وكانت وعوده مصدر أمل للأميركيين الذين ضاقوا ذرعاً من حروب عبثية ورطتهم بها إدارة الرئيس جورج بوش، فيما يعاني نصف الأميركيين من فشل نظام التأمين الصحي الذي لا يحقق الأمان إلا للأغنياء وشرائح من الطبقات الوسطى. وفي حملة الرئيس ترامب، كانت صناعة الأمل بالانتقال من وعد بأميركا العظمى إلى أميركا العظيمة، وأميركا أولاً، والتخلي عن دور شرطي العالم، في ظل بنى تحتية متهالكة وتراجع في مستوى التعليم وتدهور الصناعة وتخلف الأرياف، بينما بدت الحملات الانتخابية لهذا الموسم الرئاسيّ خالية من أي مصدر لصناعة الأمل، فترامب الذي خان شعاراته الانتخابية وبايدن الذي لا يملك إلا إنجازات أوباما للتذكير بها، تحوّلا مهاترة شخصية، في إعلان موت السياسة، ما يعني فتح الباب لخيارات قاتمة.

في فلسطين المحتلة يتقابل كيان الاحتلال مع الشعب الفلسطيني في ظل لاتوزان غير محدود بالمقدرات ومستويات الدعم الخارجي السياسي والمعنوي والمادي، لصالح الكيان، لكن المعركة تظهر صعوداً فلسطينياً مقابل الهبوط الإسرائيلي، والعامل الحاسم هو أن الفلسطينيين باتوا مشبَعين بالأمل بأن الغد لهم، منذ انتصار المقاومة في لبنان وتالياً في غزة، وهو أمل ينمو كل يوم، بينما المستوطنون الذي عاشوا على نمو الأمل ببقائهم في فلسطين بعد انتصار جيش الاحتلال في حرب العام 67، تأرجحوا على حبال الصعود والهبوط منذ حرب تشرين عام 73، وصولاً لبدء العد التنازلي المتواصل للأمل منذ انتصار المقاومة عام 2000، وحيث كل يوم تزرع فيه المقاومة بقيادتها وحربها النفسية، مزيداً من الشكوك في نفوس المستوطنين، تنجح بزرع المزيد من الأمل في جمهورها، خصوصاً في فلسطين بأن الغد لهم، وقد صارت إصابة الكيان في روحه وتفوّقت المقاومة في روحها، ولم يعد ينفع في تغيير هذه المعادلة لا أكاذيب بنيامين نتنياهو عن أماكن الصواريخ، ولا تطبيع الخليج، وبات مفعول كل منهما لا يتعدّى الليلة التي يُطلَق فيها، ما يعني نهاية مهمة السياسة.

في لبنان، رغم المحاولات المتعددة والمختلفة المصادر، يتراجع الأمل بمكافحة الفساد وبناء دولة القانون، بعدما نجح التبشير بعهد الرئيس ميشال عون كمدخل للإصلاح والتغيير، وجاءت بعده انتفاضة 17 تشرين وأعادت إحياء أمل باتجاه آخر، وتحولت الفرصتان إلى الشكوى من العجز والضعف بمعزل عن المبررات، فأخليت الساحة لتنافس بين وعدين بالأمل، وعد بالكرامة مشفوع بالإثبات تمثله المقاومة، ووعد بالازدهار المفترض، شرط التخلي عن المقاومة، وليس خافياً أن ما يتعرّض له لبنان من تدمير اقتصادي وإفقار ودفع للإفلاس يتم تحت عنوان ترجيح كفة الوعد بالازدهار. وهو الوصف الذي أطلقه الدبلوماسي الأميركي السابق جيفيري فيلتمان على الخطة الأميركية لضرب المقاومة، واستجابت لها دعوة الحياد، كما ليس خافياً أن هذه المنافسة تدور على منصة المبادرة الفرنسية ايضاً، وهي التي تفسر فشل مهمة الرئيس المكلف مصطفى أديب، وهي أرضية السجال الدائر حولها، من كلام الرئيس الفرنسي إلى رد الأمين العام لحزب الله والرد على الرد من نادي رباعي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين، ما يعني احتدام السياسة إلى حدّ الفوضى.

ردّ رؤساء الحكومات السابقين

سارع نادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين للردّ على كلام الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، فقال إن السيد نصرالله خالف الحقائق مقدماً حججاً يعتقد أنها ترد له الاعتبار وتثبت صحة مقاربته.

قال النادي إن المبادرة الفرنسية بنيت على ضرورة تعليق كل ما يمتّ الى​ السياسة الداخلية التقليدية، ومسألة تنافس الكتل والأحزاب، لأشهر معدودة بحيث تتفق ​الكتل النيابية​ الرئيسية على حكومة إنقاذ مصغرة. و”النادي” أشد العارفين بأن كل هذا الكلام هو كلامه هو وليس من المبادرة الفرنسية بشيء، ومثلها لا مكان للمداورة ولا لمن تسند حقيبة المال في نص المبادرة ولا في الكلام الشفهي الذي قاله الرئيس الفرنسي في قصر الصنوبر.

قال «النادي» إنه لم يلعب دور الوصاية على الرئيس المكلف، ولم يكن له دور في تشكيل الحكومة. وهو يعلم أن الذي ذهب يفاوض الرئيس نبيه بري على طلب حقيبة المال هو الرئيس سعد الحريري، وأن الرئيس المكلف بعد مفاوضاته مع ممثلي الثنائي طلب الإستمهال لمراجعة رؤساء الحكومات السابقين، ويعلم «النادي» أن تسمية الرئيس المكلف انطلقت من عنده بتصريح للرئيس فؤاد السنيورة، قد تمّت على قاعدة ضمان تغطية ميثاقية التسمية طائفياً، وبدعة «النادي» هي ميثاقية لمرة واحدة يضمن من خلالها خلافاً للديمقراطية، التي تمنح الغالبية حق التسمية، ويريد اغتصاب الحكومة خارج هذه الميثاقية، المنصوص عليها بتمثيل الطوائف بصورة عادلة في الحكومة، والعدالة في طريقة التسمية قبل أي شيء آخر.

يستعيد «النادي» تأييد رئيس الجمهورية للمداورة في وجه كلام السيد نصرالله، لكن هذا التأييد لا يجعل المداورة ضمن المبادرة الفرنسية، لكنه حجة على «النادي» الذي لم يشفع عنده كلام رئيس الجمهورية المؤيد للمداورة ليتم التعامل معه وفقاً للأصول الدستورية، فيتّهم السيد نصرالله بافتعال مشكلة بين «النادي» ورئيس الجمهورية، فهل قام الرئيس المكلف بالتفاهم مع رئيس الجمهورية على حجم الحكومة وتوازناتها الطائفية والسياسية، وكيفية تسمية وزرائها؟ وهو ما طالب به رئيس الجمهورية علناً. مضيفاً انه لم يسمع من الرئيس المكلف شيئاً، خلال ثلاثة أسابيع، فهل هذا هو الدستور والحرص على صلاحيات رئيس الجمهورية؟

يقول «النادي» إن كلام السيد عن الشأن الاقتصادي ينسف المبادرة الفرنسة، فهل نصّت المبادرة على التوقيع من دون نقاش مع صندوق النقد الدولي، ويقول إن التحذير من تكرار سيناريو 5 ايار 2005 هو تهديد من دون فهل يقصد بذلك تأكيد الاتهام بالسعي للتكرار؟

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9/11 ended the American dream, says Lebanon’s Talal Atrissi

By Mohammad Mazhari

September 12, 2020 – 18:21

TEHRAN- Head of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Lebanon says the American dream promoted by its cinema has come to an end and “we are facing a country that hires soldiers to fight, occupy and kill.” 

 In an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times, Dr. Talal Atrissi says that the American dream has become an “ugly image” for the nations around the globe.
“There is no longer what we call the American dream,” adds Atrissi.
Following is the text of the interview: 

 Q: Who are the main beneficiaries of the September 11 attacks?

A: The September 11 attacks helped neoconservatives in the U.S. advance their project of changing the Middle East (West Asia) under the pretext of “war against terror.” 

After 9/11, Washington was involved in regional wars, and its policy turned into a direct military offensive policy.

 It occupied Afghanistan and then occupied Iraq, and demanded Syria close Palestinian organizations’ offices, and encouraged Israel to launch the 2006 war on Lebanon. 

So, after the September 11 attacks, American foreign policy turned into a direct occupation policy in order to implement the vision and project of the neoconservatives in the world.

Q: What are the repercussions of the wars that the U.S. launched against Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11?

A: The wars launched by the United States on Afghanistan and Iraq showed the fact that the United States has become a direct occupying power in the region.

 In Afghanistan, the U.S. becomes a neighbor to Iran and Russia, and other countries in Asia.

 In Iraq, it became close to Iran and Syria, with a large military force that could threaten the countries that disagreed with its policies or oppose American hegemony.

As a result, the United States faced violent resistance, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq, as far as U.S. presidents from Obama to Trump have admitted that the country has paid thousands of billions of dollars and human losses due to these wars.

That is why Obama decided to withdraw from Iraq, and Trump came to say that he does not want to wage new wars in the region. As a result of these wars, the United States of America is declining and losing its influence in the region.

The resistance has become stronger and more experienced, and the idea of resistance has been welcomed and has spread, whether in Iraq, Lebanon, or even Afghanistan.

So, the occupation brought complete havoc for the United States besides failure for neoconservatives in their projects.

Q: Why have the Americans embraced negotiations with the Taliban, whom they called terrorist, after two decades of war?

A: The U.S. negotiations with the Taliban reveal that Washington does not make a deal according to principles, but rather uses slogans and then outweighs its interests.

 During the war against the Soviet army in Afghanistan, America and its media used to call the fighting groups, including the Taliban, “Mujahideen,” and not terrorists.

After the Soviet army left Afghanistan, and these groups started to fight the U.S., these groups were classified as “terrorists.”

So, the United States of America is negotiating today with the Taliban because it really failed in Afghanistan. This means the admission of failure in Afghanistan after paying huge losses. 

 For this reason, the U.S. wants to withdraw the largest number of its forces from there and negotiate with the Taliban about its participation in the government of Afghanistan.

But Al-Qaeda organization is originally an American-backed entity that was exploited in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, and when its date expired, Trump accuses Clinton and Obama of being involved in the manufacturing of al-Qaeda.

This is why all America’s claims about terrorism are uncovered and unacceptable, and it has become known that the United States allied with al-Qaeda in more than one place in West Asia. 

“All evidence indicates that Saudi authorities indirectly were involved in the 9/11 attacks.”

Q: What happened to the American dream after 9/11?

A: The American dream is over, and the United States no longer can present itself as a globally attractive destination.

After September 11, using force, oppression, occupation, torture, and prisoning of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan has become the United States’ predominant face.

The mutual accusations between the American presidents showed the true face of America. 

Even the American lifestyle is no longer the one that anyone in the world dreams of having, and therefore there is no longer what we call the American dream. 

The American dream was ruined, in a cracked structure, which was no longer coherent. The American dream created by cinema has ended, and we are facing a country that hires soldiers to fight, occupy, and kill, and does not respect human rights.

 From that time until now, we can say that the American dream has become an ugly image for the world’s nations.

Q: Why doesn’t the U.S. sue Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 attacks? 

A: The U.S. doesn’t want to sever its relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, while it has become clear that most of those who carried out the September 11 attacks were Saudis.

 Although there were discussions and calls to cut ties with Saudi Arabia or impose sanctions on it, the matter met American silence because the relationship with Saudi Arabia is profitable for Washington.

The Saudi Kingdom is the largest buyer of weapons, and it is an ally of the United States in the face of Iran; and therefore, the United States is silent about such an operation and does not directly accuse the Saudis.

 All evidence indicates that Saudi authorities indirectly were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but the Trump administration tries not to ruin the ties.

 So, the issue of terrorism is an optional issue to Washington.  The U.S. president is who chooses when to fight terrorism or fight the countries accused of being behind terrorism. 

That’s why the United States of America was silent and did not talk about accusing Saudi Arabia directly, although some information indicates that some figures in the Saudi ruling family provided funding to the attackers. 

Q: What have been the consequences of 9/11 for U.S. internal security, especially when the freedoms were restricted under the pretext of fighting terrorism?

A: On the American domestic level, what happened was the U.S. policy reversed into a militant policy, a policy of suppressing freedoms and spying on citizens.

Suppressing freedoms under the pretext of fighting terrorism and concerns about individuals’ relations with terrorists has become a prevailing issue in the U.S. A big debate heated in the United States on the importance of freedoms, but the government continues to restrict citizens. The Americans lost a large part of their freedoms under the motto of “fighting terrorism.”

Q: How could the September 11 attacks spread Islamophobia in the West? 

A: Islamophobia is a complex topic that has historical roots and cultural reasons and causes related to terrorist operations. The American and Western media, in general, shed light on the September 11 attacks and emphasized that Muslims were the main actors who carried out this operation.

Of course, this approach contributed to creating an anti-Muslim atmosphere in the United States of America for a long time.

But at the same time, Islamophobia is also widely widespread in Europe, and this is partly because of terrorist operations that were carried out on European territories.

Still, Islamophobia has been misused inside the United States and Europe in the struggle between political forces and accusing Muslims of economic, social, and cultural problems.

In fact, some Muslims cannot integrate into Western culture. Thus they face the isolation process and tend to engage in terrorist groups.

In addition to that, Muslims in Europe, for example, live in the suburbs and lack adequate services, which encourages young generations to join extremist organizations.

The United States of America, because of its anti-Muslim policies, has created an atmosphere of extremism among some Muslims. That’s why it can be said that the September 11 attacks contributed to the spread of Islamophobia.

Moreover, the American media has a pivotal role in creating this Islamophobia wave by inciting Muslims and covering up the Saudi Kingdom’s crimes.

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US/NATO Preparing for War on Russia? Six Military Exercises at Russia’s Doorstep

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, September 07, 2020

Wars by hot and other means are all about Washington’s main strategy to advance its imperium — seeking dominance over other nations, their resources and populations by brute force if other methods don’t achieve its objectives.

From inception, the US has been addicted to war, glorifying it deceptively in the name of peace.

In 1982, founder of the Pentagon’s nuclear navy Admiral Hyman Rickover explained the risks to Congress in the age of super-weapons able to end life on earth if used in enough numbers, saying the following:

“The lesson of history is when a war starts every nation will ultimately use whatever weapons it has available” to win, adding:

“I think the human race is going to wreck itself, and it is important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it.”

Rickover regretted his role in what became a nuclear arms race.

“I would sink…all” US nuclear powered ships, he said. “I am not proud of the part I played in” their development.

“That’s why I am such a great exponent of stopping this whole nonsense of war.”

Bertrand Russell noted the risk, saying:

“Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war.” It’s the only way to live in peace. The alternative risks annihilation.

World powers have a choice. End wars or sooner or later they’ll end us.

Russia is a prime US target. In 1961, hardline US Air Force chief of staff General Curtis LeMay believed nuclear war with Soviet Russia was inevitable and winnable — at the time, calling for preemptive war on the country with overwhelming force.

Joint Chiefs chairman Lyman Lemnitzer at the time urged a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union during a National Security Council meeting.

Expressing disgust, Jack Kennedy walked out of the session, telling then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk:

“And we call ourselves the human race.”

JFK’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara rejected what LeMay and Lemnitzer called for.

Their recklessly dangerous ideas never went away. In an age when super-weapons can end life on earth in days if detonated in enough numbers, the risk of mass annihilation is real.

Weeks earlier, Russia’s Defense Ministry accused US-led NATO of conducting “provocative” military drills near its borders — what goes on with disturbing regularity. See below.

In June, Russian Colonel-General Sergey Rudskoy, head of its General Staff sent NATO a letter that called for scaling down military exercises by both countries.

With US-led NATO drills in the Barents Sea at the time, he accused the Pentagon of simulating strikes on Russian territory and intercepting its retaliatory ICBMs.

According to Rudskoy, provocative Barents Sea drills at the time were the first of their kind by US-dominated NATO since Soviet Russia’s 1991 dissolution.

He also criticized increasing numbers of flights by Pentagon nuclear-capable strategic bombers near Russia’s borders — at times forcing its military to scramble warplanes and put air defense forces on high alert.

Since the Obama regime’s 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine, replacing democratic government with neo-Nazi infested fascist tyranny on Russia’s border, bilateral relations  sank to a post-Cold War low.

Moscow considers the deployment of US-led NATO forces near its borders a destabilizing threat to its national security.

Rudskoy said “(t)he US and its allies are continuing to destroy Europe’s security system under the guise of a perceived ‘Russian aggression’ ” that doesn’t exist.

The US refused Moscow’s offer for dialogue to reduce tensions and the risk of conflict by accident or design.

On Sunday, Rudskoy again highlighted the threat of provocative US-led NATO actions near Russia’s borders, including increased surveillance and aerial operations to test its air defenses.

In August, provocative US/NATO aerial maneuvers increased about 30% over the comparable 2019 period, he explained, including simulated missile strikes on Russian targets.

Shoigu called what’s going on “alarming,” notably because several incidents occurred close to Russia’s borders.

Last week, Russia scrambled warplanes to intercept three US nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over Ukraine and the Black Sea near Crimea, a statement saying:

“Violations of the state border of the Russian Federation by American aircraft were prevented.”

Two weeks earlier, a similar incident occurred in international airspace over the Black Sea.

Days earlier, Moscow slammed the US for holding live-fire exercises in Estonia near its border.

A statement by its Washington embassy said the following:

“Russia has repeatedly proposed to the United States and its allies to limit training activities and to divert the exercise zones from the Russia-NATO contact line,” adding:

“Why do this demonstrative saber-rattling? What signals do the NATO members want to send us?”

“Who is actually escalating tensions in Europe? And this is all happening in the context of (a made-in-the-USA) aggravated political situation in” Belarus.

“(H)ow would the Americans react” if Russia conducted similar provocative exercises near its borders?

According to NATO, the following US-led military exercises are ongoing or soon to begin in Europe (and near Iranian waters the Mediterranean):

Operation Dynamic Move II 20 — ongoing through September 10 in waters near Italy, explaining:

“To exercise naval mine warfare (NMW) tactics and procedures, the Allied Worldwide Navigational System (AWNIS), and Naval Cooperation on and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) procedures in order to enhance participant’s ability to conduct littoral and amphibious operations.”

Operation Steadfast Pyramid 20 — begun in Latvia on Sunday will continue through September 11, NATO explaining:

“An Exercise Study focused on further developing the abilities of commanders and senior staff to plan and conduct operations through the application of operational art in decision making based on the ACO Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive (COPD) and utilizing a complex, contemporary scenario.”

Operation KFOR III 20 will be held from September 8 – 16 in Herzegovina, explaining:

“Conducted to familiarize future Key Leaders of HQ KFOR with their new tasks, the overall situation in KFOR AOR (Area of Responsibility), and to prepare a smooth transition without loss of continuity.”

Operation Ramstein Guard 9 20 is scheduled for Romania from September 13 – 17, explaining:

“The NATO Electronic Warfare Force Integration Program is a means to exercise the NATO designated regional elements of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System conducted through the CAOCs (Combined Air Operation Center) while also including some national systems and assets.”

“It is designed to train Air Command Ramstein and subordinate units on the reporting/coordination requirements while exposing them to a wide variety of EW (electronic warfare) tactics and techniques in a controlled environment.”

Operation Steadfast Pinnacle 20 is scheduled for Latvia from September 13 – 18, explaining:

“An Exercise Study focused on further developing the abilities of commanders and senior staff to plan and conduct operations through the application of operational art in decision making based on the ACO (Allied Command Operations) Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive (COPD) and utilizing a complex, contemporary scenario.”

Operation Ramstein Guard 10 20 is scheduled for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from September 20 – 24, NATO explaining:

“The NATO Electronic Warfare Force Integration Program is a means to exercise the NATO designated regional elements of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System conducted through the CAOCs (Combined Air Operation Center) while also including some national systems and assets. It is designed to train Air Command Ramstein and subordinate units on the reporting/coordination requirements while exposing them to a wide variety of EW (electronic warfare) tactics and techniques in a controlled environment.”

Exercises like the above go on at all times near the borders of Russia, China, Iran, and other nations on the US target list for regime change.

From now through yearend 2020 near the borders of Russia and Iran alone, other US-led NATO military exercises will be held in Turkey, France, the UK, Kosovo, the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Poland and Norway.

Instead of prioritizing world peace, stability, and cooperative relations with the world community of nations, US-dominated NATO is preparing for greater wars than already ongoing in multiple theaters by its forces.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

Market Friday: The Pipeline and the Poison


Date: September 4, 2020

Author: Tom Luongo

Pipeline politics, like electoral politics, knows no limits.

With Nordstream 2’s completion on schedule to happen around the same time Donald Trump will ‘appear to be re-elected,‘ the amping up of anti-Russian rhetoric and political pressure was to be expected.

The poisoning of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s supposed chief critic, Alexei Navalny, is the latest sad attempt to stop the Nordstream 2 pipeline. Laying aside the reality that Navalny isn’t any real threat to Putin, the basic question you should be asking is if Putin truly wanted him dead why not just create a pretext for it and shoot him?

This is the first and only reason you need to prove that this story is a bad Ian Fleming short story concocted in the bowels of MI6.

Navalny gets arrested and released in Moscow as often as most people change their socks. So, if Putin the Gangsta’ wanted him dead, he’d be dead.

But Navalny as a political asset for the West as Putin’s gadfly was completely spent. The proof of this is Navalny’s inability to marshal any opposition to the recent referendum in Russia blessing the proposed changes to the constitution.

While the Democrats and the media try to keep the dream of Russian interference into our elections alive we are distracted from what the real operation is — to stop Trump’s re-election and delay until the coup is complete in the U.S. to bury all the evidence of Obamagate during a restoration.

That’s all Russiagate and Ukrainegate and Skripalgate and now Navalnygate are — comfort food lies to angry shitlibs who are still haven’t fully processed the 2016 election and Brexit, kept on a drip feed of social media dopamine hits in a state of perpetual Bargaining so that they never move on to Acceptance

And if The Davos Crowd can put the screws to Russia’s future gas supplies to Europe and stunt its growth with all of this nonsense, all the better. The motivations of the factions pro and con to the Nordstream 2 pipeline have grown so murky it’s almost too much to outline anymore.

There is no simple throughline to this story since it encompasses so many different angles and potential motivations of the players, many of whom have competing agendas.

Merkel wanted Nordstream 2 to make Germany the gas transit hub for the European Union. German businesses reached out to Russia to supply them this gas after the EU destroyed South Stream in 2014. It would give the Germans a lot more control over the Poles while placating the German industrialists who are the source of her power. Her motivation on this has been very clear.

She has also allowed Russia and Turkey to go forward with the second leg of the Turkstream pipeline which goes through Bulgaria, Serbia and into Hungary.

What’s new is that Merkel is finally getting push back from people within her own party over Nordstream 2 which adds to the pressure the Trump administration is putting on her.

Merkel’s modus operandi is always status quo. So, she will always try to placate both sides while still advancing her own plans. For the most part Trump sees right through her and never gives her any wiggle room.

That’s why Nordstream 2 is so important to him, but it is more symbolic than it is about the gas itself. I suspect it is more about the growing influence of the EU and the mission creep of NATO more than any antipathy he has to Putin and/or Russia.

And it wouldn’t surprise me at all for this Nordstream 2 pressure from him to be more about remaking the U.S.’s relations with the post-WWII institutional order — the U.N., NATO, etc. — than it is about a paltry 55 bcm annually of natural gas.

Europe’s future gas needs are so big, with the shuttering of all nuclear power and this putsch towards Green Energy, that, in the end, this isn’t about Germany’s reliance on Russia but rather about Russia profiting from its relationship to Germany.

This tweet says it all and the interview excerpt says a lot more.

The last point is very important because whenever there is about to be a chat between Trump and Putin the well has to be poisoned, as it were, to ensure nothing of substance can change.

And this, to me, makes the most sense as to why Merkel came out so forcefully about the Navalny poisoning, it serves to shut down internal opposition to the pipeline, which no German in his right mind would object to, while appearing to appease Trump and the U.S. by standing tall to Putin.

But this is all nonsense. Merkel will not shut down Nordstream 2 or block its completion over Alexei Navalny any more than I’m going to dress in black bloc and join Antifa.

And that brings me back to the 800 lb. faction in the room, the intelligence agencies who helped create this mess in the first place, which ties us right back to the election.

Who has motive, means and opportunity to create an international incident like this on the eve of the election?

The very people who were caught red-handed in a treasonous intelligence operation used to justify spying on a political opponent during the 2016 election campaign.

Who is desperately trying to push all changes to the current state of play until after the election on November 3rd?

Why is Judge Emmet Sullivan purposefully delaying resolution of the Michael Flynn trial until after the election?

Who is behind the riots in the U.S.?

Who is conducting war games on the election outcome, publishing them in their mouthpieces (here and here) and stating the election will be compromised to the point of having to be resolved in the courts reversing what the result will be on election night?

Who stands to lose the most if Trump is re-elected and a No-Deal Brexit goes through?

British Intelligence, the holdover members of the CIA and Barack Obama, that’s who.

Forget Hillary Clinton, she’s dirty but you shouldn’t care about her. Obama is the one who’s head is actually on the chopping block here, since it’s him the evidence is pointing to as to signing off on all of this.

It’s Obama that was chosen by The Davos Crowd to implement the destruction of Trump, not Hillary.

That’s why we’ve been treated to the greatest show on earth about how the U.S. is going to fail, how the U.S. dollar is going the way of the dodo and the European Union is inevitable.

The only problem with this is it’s completely not true.

This Friday we are seeing what it looks like when you push markets and the political narratives supporting them well past their ‘Best if Used By’ date. A violent snap back which sees stocks fall, safe havens like gold and bitcoin get whacked with the ugly stick and even bond yields rising.

We’re staring at a milder version of what we experienced in March, a sell-everything-not-nailed-down-and-get -to-dollars day. All across the markets we’re seeing a turn towards deflation as the mad scramble for dollars begins now that the odds of Donald Trump winning the election have risen sufficiently to cast doubt on the outcome in the minds of traders.

And the canary in the coal mine for this deflation has, for weeks now, been the inability of oil to rally into this high in stocks. If there has been one thing that I’ve learned in my years of watching markets it is that oil prices never flat line.

That is exactly what’s been going on for the past eight weeks.

So no we have a market correction, long delayed from June, lining up with the height of the election campaign. Everyone is exerting maximum political pressure on each other and it won’t get any better.

With follow-through downside action today after Thursday’s massacre markets all over have thrown technical reversals at the weekly level. Expect more follow through next week as a full-blown panic is likely to emerge here.

But, be especially on the lookout for a crash in oil prices as that will be used to construct a new version of a Trump/Putin bromance that goes something like this:

Now that oil prices have collapsed, Putin will put extra pressure on Trump to steal the election because Putin needs higher oil prices while Biden will go after Big Oil if he’s elected.

The reality is that the global economy was broken by these lock downs and the now indisputable over-reaction by governments to effect fundamental political change and oust Trump from power.

But they are also continuations of decades-long policies of pipeline politics dictating where capital is allowed to flow. In the grand scheme of things Trump and Putin are near-equals as enemies to the people behind these policies.

And that’s why whenever things look good for them, sacrifices must be made. This time it was Alexei Navalny.


By Tom Luongo
Source: Gold Goats ‘n Guns

Illegal Trump Military Base in Syria Comes under Attack

August 6, 2020 Miri Wood

Abandoned illegal US Military base in northern Syria
An abandoned illegal US Military base in northern Syria

On this occasion, the bombing was on a Trump regime criminal base in the town of Ash Shaddadi. A previous one left two American illegals missing. Details are also missing because these areas of Syria — which is not part of the US, nor a NATO member state, nor a NATO lapdog — are under foreign military occupation…and also, perhaps, because Trump does not want to tell Americans that their illegals in Syria are being killed or wounded while engaged in criminal activities.

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d6605973.009257181!2d36.24243683975571!3d36.05513155770284!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x154bd12e988b85c5%3A0x8c10d8a87e245922!2sAsh%20Shaddadi%2C%20Syria!5e0!3m2!1sen!2svi!4v1596716063911!5m2!1sen!2svi

It is unlikely that those attacking the imperial US bases are members of any faction of al Qaeda, including but not limited to ISIS; were bonafide ISIS terrorists engaged in military attacks on illegal, occupying forces, it is likely that Trump would take a page from Obama’s book of war crimes. Let us never forget that ”44″ was thwarted in his plans to do to Syria what he did to Libya, when the Syrian Arab Republic joined the OPCW in September 2013.

Obama was forced to wait another year before launching his war criminal “coalition” of 66 countries which bombed Syria from the sky, using the excuse of ISIS murdering western illegals as the cover story. Please keep in mind that none of those killed had any visible means of support, which gives some plausibility to various claims all were engaged in special operations to destroy Syria, from the ground.

Other recent attacks on American criminals in Syria, arrogant enough to set up military bases, have been scattered through other areas of al Hasakah and also Deir Ezzor, where the Trump regime is focused on stealing the oil that belongs to the indigenous people of Syria. Contrary to the NATO peak colonialists, Syria oil does not belong to America, nor to the Saudis, nor to the Israelis.

Syria News reminds western fraud liberal colonialists that Syrian oil also does not belong to the non-indigenous, murderous, treasonous, separatist Kurdish militia, to whom Obama gave the Orwellian name, SDF — even while much of its leadership consisted of foreign, NATO wetworkers — whose members Trump now uses as cannon fodder in the attempted ethnic cleansing of the Syrian people and their homeland.

Bomb detonated in front of Virgin Mary Church - Qamishli - Hasakah Syria
Bomb detonated in front of the Church of the Virgin Mary, in Qamishli, Hasaka, Syria.

The author humbly suggests that Americans take a moment from their partisan infighting to reflect on not only Trump’s double standards regarding illegals, but on the silence of the Trump haters, regarding the spate of attacks on those highly revered military troops, those illegals in the S.A.R.

— Miri Wood

Is there any possibility of diffusing Sino-US tension?

Source

Is there any possibility of diffusing Sino-US tension?

July 14, 2020

by Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

Sino-US tension is growing to a dangerous level, what will be the consequences? Who will suffer more? And who will be benefitted? Is there any simple solution? Is anyone willing to rectify things? What will be the role of the UN and International Community, in case of an armed conflict? What will be the future of the World? Etc. Many similar questions are rising in our minds. Hope the serious thinkers and intellectuals may come out with do-able recommendations to avert any big disaster to humanity.

The US was the leader of Western Style Democracy and opposing Communism since the end of World War II. That is why, the US was siding with the ruling party – Guo Ming Dang (Nationalist Party) of China before 1949. But the Communist Party of China (CPC) won the war and gained power in China. The US was opposing the newly established CPC government in China and did every possible thing to harm CPC and end communist rule in China. Either it was sanctions, economic blockade, isolation, media war, or any other form of coercion. But could not succeed.

A U-turn was witnessed in the US policy, from hostile to friendship, since 1971. “Ping-Pong Diplomacy” sign of warming relations between Washington and Beijing, China’s ping-pong team invites members of the U.S. team to China on April 6, 1971. Journalists accompanying the U.S. players are among the first Americans allowed to enter China since 1949. In July of 1971, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger makes a secret trip to China. Shortly thereafter, the United Nations recognizes the People’s Republic of China, endowing it with the permanent Security Council seat that had been held by the Chiang Kai-shek’s (Nationalist Party) Republic of China on Taiwan since 1945.

Followed by President Richard Nixon’s eight-days long visit to China in February 1972, during which he met Chairman Mao Zedong and signs the Shanghai Communiqué with Premier Zhou Enlai.

In 1979, a big development was seen, when U.S. President Jimmy Carter grants China full diplomatic recognition while acknowledging mainland China’s One China principle. Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, who leads China through major economic reforms, visits the United States shortly thereafter.

However, President Regan’s era was not so friendly for Sino-US relations as his pro-Taiwan policies. Later President Reagan visited China in April 1984 and as an outcome of his visit, the U.S. government permitted Beijing to make purchases of U.S. Defense equipment.

The unfortunate incident of Tian-an-Men Square happened in 1989, created more complications. Chinese crackdown on dissents was also a negative impact on Sino-US relations. The Pro-Independence President Lee Lee Teng-hui in Taiwan also affected the relations adversely. Mistakenly bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999, also set-back in bilateral relation.

Since 2000, the trade was dominating Sin-US relations. President Bill Clinton signed a trade agreement with China, which boosted the trade between two nations from US Dollars 5 Billion to US Dollars 231 Billion. China officially joined WTO in 2001, open avenues of more trade, investment, and cooperation on the economic front. It facilitated the rapid development of China and China surpassed the German Economy in 2006, while the trouble started in 2010, when China became a second-largest economy after surpassing the Japanese economy. It has alerted US policymakers and there was a strong fear that China might surpass the American Economy in 2027.

The sharp rise of the Trade deficit in Chinese favor worried the policymakers in the US. President Barak Obama took few measures to address the trade imbalance but was more polite and soft. However, since President Donald Trump, became President in 2016, a visible change was seen in the US toward Sino-US relations. President Trump initiated Trade war and imposed heavy tariffs on Chinese products, banned Huawei Chinese telecommunication giant, etc. The outbreak of COVID-19 has a catalyst in creating tension to its current height. Where the US is the worst-hit country, with the highest number of infections and the highest death toll in the world.

I was educated in China, and have served in China as Diplomat, I have lived in China for 13 years, but having interaction with China for almost 4 decades. I know the Chinese language, culture, politics, and enjoys deep penetration into Chinese society. Based on my personal assessment, China was never competing in the US or challenging the hegemony of the US as a superpower. Common people in China used to praise America and almost every Chinese especially the youth have a dream to travel to America. The common man loves America and dream to visit or live in America. The number of Chinese traveling to America are out-numbered and kept on increasing gradually. Similarly, a huge number of Americans are living or traveling into China for business, jobs, or study purposes. China was the most favorite destination for Americans for traveling, hunting jobs, business, etc. In a matter of fact, the law and order situation in China was excellent, the job market was huge, business opportunities were unlimited, which were the major reasons to attract Americans. This was vice-versa, Chinese people love to study in America, Tourism in America, Business in America, even migrate or settle down in America. There were no symptoms of anti-America sentiments in China.

China is a very old civilization and has been passing through several ups and downs in history. But in the last two centuries, China has been the victim of the Western world and its aggressive policies and colonization. The Suffering of Chinese during the last two centuries has taught bitter lessons and China has become a mature nation. The Centries old wisdom and bitter lesson of two centuries made China, humble, submissive, hard-working, and united. Even more wise!

China tried its best to avoid confrontation with the US, either it was an economic war, or sanctions, or direct threat, but China acted with maximum constraint and patience. Most of the time, China ignored the American rough attitude and overlooked American behavior. Americans used impolite and non-diplomatic language, but China did not lose temper and never issued any statement below standard. Chinese lenient attitude should not be considered its weakness but should be appreciated as its maturity, responsibility, and greatness.

In fact, It was aligned with the Chinese philosophy of peace, stability, and development. China wanted to improve its economy, eradicate poverty, improve its health care system, improve its technology, modernize its Industry, and defense. China invested heavily in its education sector, the S&T sector, and wanted to focus on Innovation and Hi-tech, which any other country can desire too. China has set its own goals, like zero poverty, etc, and was religiously moving ahead to achieve its goals. There were no visible political objectives in Chinese society, and there was no intention to counter America or replace America. China was not ready for any conflict with America or with any other country. Contrarily, China was ignoring its genuine disputes with others and was focusing only on its own development. In 2017, there was a serious stand-off with India at Doklam, but China compromised and resolved amicably. China has disputes withy many other countries, but was never willing to flare-up or use force to resolve its disputes. Taiwan is a good example, where China can invade conveniently and no one can resist China, but the Chinese opted for peaceful reunification and working hard in this direction – one country two systems. China has the capability to crush the demonstrations in Hong Kong by force, yet, China observes a lot of constraints, patience, and giving unlimited space to the demonstrators to settle down.

It is visible that the US is opting for an aggressive, threatening, and coercive attitude toward China. The US is re-aligning its allies to punish China. Definitely, China will try its best to avert any misadventure, however, if a war is imposed, China deserves the right to self-defense and retaliate reciprocate. This might lead the world to a much bigger disaster. Who ill suffer? It is humankind, irrespective of American or Chinese, irrespective of Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, or any other religion, irrespective of race, color, or ethnicity, it is human lives at stake. Can we think at this level, respect human lives, human lives are the most precious thing in this unive5rsrse, all lives matter.

I am sure, many of my readers might differ from my views, but hopefully, it will open debate for policymakers and decision-makers. The scholars, intellectuals, think tanks, and individuals with human consciousness may come up with some kind of recommendations or solutions to avert any big disaster. Please do educate me!


.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.

Does the next Presidential election even matter?

Source

President Barack Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden head toward the Capitol Platform during the 58th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2017. More than 5,000 military members from across all branches of the armed forces of the United States, including reserve and National Guard components, provided ceremonial support and Defense Support of Civil Authorities during the inaugural period. (DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

THE SAKER • JULY 2, 2020

Just by asking the question of whether the next Presidential election matters, I am obviously suggesting that it might not. To explain my reasons for this opinion, I need to reset the upcoming election in the context of the previous one. So let’s begin here.

The 2016 election of Donald Trump

The first thing which, I believe, ought to be self-evident to all by now is that there was no secret operation by any deep state, not even a Zionist controlled one, to put Donald Trump in power. I would even argue that the election of Donald Trump was the biggest slap in the face of US deep state and of the covert transnational ruling elites this deep state serves. Ever. My evidence? Simple, look what these ruling “elites” did both before and after Trump’s election: before, they ridiculed the very idea of “President Trump” as both utterly impossible and utterly evil.

As somebody who has had years of experience reading the Soviet press or, in another style, the French press, I can honestly say that I have never seen a more ridiculously outlandish hate campaign against anybody that would come even close to the kind of total hate campaign which Trump was subjected to. Then, as soon as he was elected, the US neo-liberals (who are not liberals at all!) declared that Trump was “not their President”, that Trump was put into power by Putin and that he was a “Russian asset” (using pseudo-professional jargon is what journos typically do to conceal their abject ignorance of a complex topic) and, finally, that he was a White racist and misogynist who will deeply divide the country (thereby dividing the country themselves by making such claims).

The fact is that for the past four years the US liberals have waged a total informational war against Trump and it would be absolutely unthinkable for them to ever accept a Trump re-election, even if he wins by a landslide. For the US Dems and neo-liberals, Trump is the personification of evil, literally, and that means that “resistance” to him and everything he represents must be total. And if he is re-elected, then there is only one possible explanation: the Russians stole the election, or the Chinese did. But the notion that Trump has the support of a majority of people is literally unthinkable for these folks.

Truth be told, Trump has proven to be a fantastically incompetent President, no doubt about that. Was he even worse than Obama? Maybe, it really all depends on your scoring system. In my personal opinion, and for all his very real sins and failings, Trump, at least, did not start a major war, which Obama did, and which Hillary would have done (can’t prove this, but that is my personal belief). That by itself, and totally irrespective of anything else, makes me believe that Trump has been a “lesser evil” (even if far more ridiculous) President than Obama has been or Hillary would have been. This is what I believed four years ago and this is what I still believe: considering how dangerous for the entire planet “President Hillary” would have been, voting for Trump was not only the only logical thing to do, it was the only moral one too because giving your voice to a warmongering narcissistic hyena like Hillary is a profoundly immoral act (yes, I know, Trump is also a narcissist – most politicians are! – but at least his warmongering has been all hot air and empty threats, at least so far). However, I don’t think that this (not having started a major war) will be enough to get Trump re-elected.

Why?

Because most Americans still like wars. In fact, they absolutely love them. Unless, of course, they lose. What Americans really want is a President who can win wars, not a President who does not initiate them in the first place. This is also the most likely reason why Trump did not start any major wars: the US has not won a real war in decades and, instead, it got whipped in every conflict it started. Americans hate losing wars, and that is why Trump did not launch any wars: it would have been political suicide to start a real war against, say, the DPRK or Iran. So while I am grateful that Trump did not start any wars, I am not naive to the point of believing that he did so for pure and noble motives. Give Trump an easy victory and he will do exactly what all US Presidents have done in the past: attack, beat up the little guy, and then be considered like a “wartime President hero” by most Americans. The problem is that there are no more “little guys” left out there: only countries who can, and will, defend themselves if attacked.

The ideology of messianic imperialism which permeates the US political culture is still extremely powerful and deep seated and it will take years, probably decades, to truly flush it down to where it belongs: to the proverbial trash-heaps of history. Besides, in 2020 Americans have much bigger concerns than war vs. peace – at least that is what most of them believe. Between the Covid19 pandemic and the catastrophic collapse of the economy (of course, while the former certainly has contributed to the latter, it did not single-handedly cause it) and now the BLM insurgency, most Americans now feel personally threatened – something which no wars of the past ever did (a war against Russia very much would, but most Americans don’t realize that, since nobody explains this to them; they also tend to believe that nonsense about the US military being the best and most capable in history).

Following four years of uninterrupted flagwaving and MAGA-chanting there is, of course, a hardcore of true believers who believe that Trump is nothing short of brilliant and that he will “kick ass” everything and everybody: from the spying Russians, to the rioting Blacks, from the pandemic, to the lying media, etc. The fact that in reality Trump pitifully failed to get anything truly important done is completely lost on these folks who live in a reality they created for themselves and in which any and all facts contradicting their certitudes are simply explained away by silly stuff like “Q-anon” or “5d chess”. Others, of course, will realize that Trump “deflated” before those whom he called “the swamp” almost as soon as he got into the White House.

As for the almighty Israel Lobby, it seems to me that it squeezed all it could from Trump who, from the point of view of the Zionists, was always a “disposable President” anyway. And now that Trump has done everything Israel wanted him to do, he becomes almost useless. If anything, Pelosi, Schumer and the rest of them will try to outdo Trump’s love for everything Israeli anyway.

So how much support is there behind Trump today? I really don’t know (don’t trust the polls, which have always been deeply wrong about Trump anyway), but I think that there is definitely a constituency of truly frightened Americans who are freaking out (as they should, considering the rapid collapse of the country) and who might vote Trump just because they will feel that for all his faults, he is the only one who can save the country. Conversely, they will see Biden as a pro-BLM geriatric puppet who will hand the keys of the White House to a toxic coalition of minorities.

So what if Trump does get re-elected?

In truth, the situation is so complex and there are so many variables (including many “unknown unknowns”!) that make predictions impossible. Still, we can try to make some educated guesses, especially if based on some kind of logic such as the one which says that “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior”. In other words, if Trump gets elected, we will get more of the same. Personally, I would characterize this “same” as a further destruction of the US from within by the Democrats and their “coalition of minorities” combined with a further destruction of the US Empire abroad by delusional Republicans.

I very much doubt that it makes any sense at all to vote for that, really. Better stay at home and do something worthwhile with your time, no?

Now what about a Biden election?

Remember that Biden is now the de-facto leader of what I would loosely call the “anti-US coalition”, that is the “coalition of minorities” which really have nothing in common except their hatred of the established order (well, and, of course, their hatred of Trump and of those who voted for him).

These minorities are very good at hating and destroying, but don’t count on them to ever come up with constructive solutions – it ain’t gonna happen. For one thing, they are probably too stupid to come up with any constructive ideas, but even more important is the fact that these folks all have a hyper-narrow agenda and, simply put, they don’t care about “constructing” anything. These folks are all about hatred and the instant gratification of their narrow, one-topic, agenda.

This also begs the question of why the Dems decided to go with Biden in spite of the fact that he is clearly an extremely weak candidate. In spite? I am not so sure at all. I think that they chose him because he is so weak: the real power behind him will be in the hands of the Schumer-Pelosi-Obama gang and of the interests these folks represent.

Unlike Trump who prostituted himself only after making it to the White House, the neo-liberal Dems have *already* prostituted themselves to everybody who wanted to give them something in return, from the Ukie Nazis to the thugs of BLM, to the powerful US homo-lobby. Don’t expect them to show any spine, or even less so, love for the USA, if they get the White House. They hate this country and most of its people and they are not shy about it.

What would happen to the US if the likes of Bloomberg or Harris took control? First, there would be the comprehensive surrender to the various minorities which put these folks in power followed by a very strong blowback from all the “deplorables” ranging from protests and civil disobedience, to local authorities refusing to take orders from the feds. Like it or not, but most Americans still love their country and loathe the kind of pseudo-liberal ideology which has been imposed upon them by the joint actions of the US deep state and the corporate world. There is even a strong probability that if Biden gets elected the USA’s disintegration would only accelerate.

On the international front, a Biden Presidency would not solve any of the problems created by Obama and Trump: by now it is way too late and the damage done to the international reputation of the United States is irreparable. If anything, the Dems will only make it worse by engaging in even more threats, sanctions and wars. Specifically, the Demolicans hate Russia, China and Iran probably even more than the Republicrats. Besides, these countries have already concluded a long time ago that the US was “not agreement capable” anyway (just look at the long list of international treaties and organization from which the US under Trump has withdrawn: what is the point of negotiating anything with a power which systematically reneges on its promises and obligations?)

The truth is that if Biden gets elected, the US will continue to fall apart internally and externally, if anything, probably even faster than under a re-elected Trump.

Which brings me to my main conclusion:

Why do we even bother having elections?

First, I don’t think that the main role of a democracy is to protect minorities from majorities. A true democracy protects the majority against the many minorities which typically have a one-issue agenda and which are typically hostile to the values of the majority. Oh sure, minority rights should be protected, the question is how exactly?

For one thing, most states have some kind of constitution/basic law which sets a number of standards which cannot be violated as long as this constitution/basic law is in force. Furthermore, in most states which call themselves democratic all citizens have the same rights and obligations, and a minority status does not give anybody any special rights or privileges. Typically, there are also fundamental international standards for human rights and fundamental national standards for civil rights. Minority rights (individual or collective), however, are not typically considered a separate category which somehow trumps or supplements adopted norms for human and civil rights (if only because it creates a special “minority” category, whereas in true “people power” all citizens are considered as one entity).

It is quite obvious that neither the Republicrats nor the Demolicans represent the interests of “we the people” and that both factions of the US plutocracy are under the total control of behind-the-scenes real powers. What happened four years ago was a colossal miscalculation of these behind-the-scenes real powers who failed to realize how hated they were and how even a guy like Trump would seem preferable to a nightmare like Hillary (as we know, had the Dems chosen Sanders or even some other halfway lame candidate, Trump would probably not have prevailed).

This is why I submit that the next election will make absolutely no difference:

  1. The US system is rigged to give all the power to minorities and to completely ignore the will of the people
  2. The choice between the Demolicans and the Republicrats is not a choice at all
  3. The systemic crisis of the US is too deep to be affected by who is in power in the White House

Simply put, and unlike the case of 2016, the outcome of the 2020 election will make no difference at all. Caring about who the next puppet in the White House will be is tantamount to voting for a new captain while the Titanic is sinking. The major difference is that the Titanic sank in very deep water whereas the “ship USA” will sink in the shallows, meaning that the US will not completely disappear: in some form or another, it will survive either as a unitary state or as a number of successor states. The Empire, however, has no chance of survival at all. Thus, anything which contributes to make the US a “normal” country and which weakens the Empire is in the interests of the people of the USA. Voting for either one of the candidates this fall will only prolong the agony of the current political regime in the USA.

A Pipelineistan fable for our times

June 08, 2020

A Pipelineistan fable for our times

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Ukraine was supposed to prevent Russia from deepening energy ties with Germany; it didn’t work out that way

Once upon a time in Pipelineistan, tales of woe were the norm. Shattered dreams littered the chessboard – from IPI vs. TAPI in the AfPak realm to the neck-twisting Nabucco opera in Europe.

In sharp contrast, whenever China entered the picture, successful completion prevailed. Beijing financed a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Xinjiang, finished in 2009, and will profit from two spectacular Power of Siberia deals with Russia.

And then there’s Ukraine. Maidan was a project of the Barack Obama administration, featuring a sterling cast led by POTUS, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John McCain and last but not least, prime Kiev cookie distributor Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland.

Ukraine was also supposed to prevent Russia from deepening energy ties with Germany, as well as other European destinations.

Well, it did not exactly play like that. Nord Stream was already operational. South Stream was Gazprom’s project to southeast Europe. Relentless pressure by the Obama administration derailed it. Yet that only worked to enable a resurrection: the already completed TurkStream, with gas starting to flow in January 2020.

The battlefield then changed to Nord Stream 2. This time relentless Donald Trump administration pressure did not derail it. On the contrary: it will be completed by the end of 2020.

Richard Grennel, the US ambassador to Germany, branded a “superstar” by President Trump, was furious. True to script, he threatened Nordstream 2 partners – ENGIE, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall – with “new sanctions.”

Worse: he stressed that Germany “must stop feeding the beast at a time when it does not pay enough to NATO.”

“Feeding the beast” is not exactly subtle code for energy trade with Russia.

Peter Altmaier, German minister of economic affairs and energy, was not impressed. Berlin does not recognize any legality in extra-territorial sanctions

Grennel, on top of it, is not exactly popular in Berlin. Diplomats popped the champagne when they knew he was going back home to become the head of US national intelligence.

Trump administration sanctions delayed Nordstream 2 for around one year, at best. What really matters is that in this interval Kiev had to sign a gas transit deal with Gazprom. What no one is talking about is that by 2025 no Russian gas will be transiting across Ukraine towards Europe.

So the whole Maidan project was in fact useless.

It’s a running joke in Brussels that the EU never had and will never have a unified energy policy towards Russia. The EU came up with a gas directive to force the ownership of Nord Stream 2 to be separated from the gas flowing through the pipeline. German courts applied their own “nein.”

Nord Stream 2 is a serious matter of national energy security for Germany. And that is enough to trump whatever Brussels may concoct.

And don’t forget Siberia 

The moral of this fable is that now two key Pipelineistan nodes – Turk Stream and Nord Stream 2 – are established as umbilical steel cords linking Russia with two NATO allies.

And true to proverbial win-win scripts, now it’s also time for China to look into solidifying its European relations.

Last week, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese premier Li Keqiang had a video conference to discuss Covid-19 and China-EU economic policy.

That was a day after Merkel and President Xi had spoken, when they agreed that the China-EU summit in Leipzig on September 14 would have to be postponed.

This summit should be the climax of the German presidency of the EU, which starts on July 1. That’s when Germany would be able to present a unified policy towards China, uniting in theory the 27 EU members and not only the 17+1 from Central Europe and the Balkans – including 11 EU members – that already have a privileged relationship with Beijing and are on board for the Belt and Road Initiative.

In contrast with the Trump administration, Merkel does privilege a clear, comprehensive trade partnership with China – way beyond a mere photo op summit. Berlin is way more geoeconomically sophisticated than the vague “engagement and exigence” Paris  approach.

Merkel as well as Xi are fully aware of the imminent fragmentation of the world economy post-Lockdown. Yet as much as Beijing is ready to abandon the global circulation strategy from which it has handsomely profited for the past two decades, the emphasis is also on refining very close trade relations with Europe.

Ray McGovern has concisely detailed the current state of US-Russia relations. The heart of the whole matter, from Moscow’s point of view, was summarized by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, an extremely able diplomat:

“We don’t believe the US in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever. So our own calculations and conclusions are less related to what America is doing …. We cherish our close and friendly relations with China. We do regard this as a comprehensive strategic partnership in different areas, and we intend to develop it further.”

It’s all here. Russia-China “comprehensive strategic partnership” steadily advancing. Including “Power of Siberia” Pipelineistan. Plus Pipelineistan linking two key NATO allies. Sanctions? What sanctions?

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