Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari: Why They ‘Punish’ Syria

SEPTEMBER 27, 2022

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

Tim Anderson

Syria’s centuries-old refusal to take orders from foreign powers and its resistance to repeated foreign interventions has led to its ‘punishment’ by frustrated imperial forces, says Syria’s Vice Foreign Minister Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari.

Syria’s centuries-old refusal to take orders from foreign powers and its resistance to repeated foreign interventions has led to its ‘punishment’ by frustrated imperial forces, says Syria’s Vice Foreign Minister Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari. “We are like Cuba; or perhaps Cuba is like us”, said the veteran diplomat.

That independent history can be traced back to ancient times, when Queen Zenobia broke away from Roman rule. It was inflamed a century ago when Sultan Pasha Al-Atrash led the Great Arab Revolt of the 1920s against the French colonial power. And it rose again with Syria’s defeat of a massive, decade-long proxy war, driven by Washington and other NATO states, “Israel” and some of the Gulf monarchies.

But while Syria, at great cost, has defeated mass terrorism, according to Dr. Al-Jaafari, the “unprecedented” military interventions, occupations and economic war remain. The USA and Turkey, two NATO states, occupy huge swathes of Syrian land in the north and east and the Israeli occupation remains in the south. Each provides safe haven for terrorist groups.

These days Washington does not even bother to deny that it is stealing Syrian oil and wheat. It even signs UN declarations supporting the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria, while occupying Syrian land out of spite, to punish and divide the peoples of the region, for the benefit of Israeli and US hegemony.

Syria as an Arab nation once included current-day Iskenderun, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. Colonists tried to crush its Pan-Arab ideology, which rose against the French and the British, leading to the hard-fought renewal of independence in 1947. Dr. Al-Jaafari says Pan-Arabism, which forms the basis of the Syrian Arab Baath Party and other groups (like Nasserites and the SSNP), is a reflection of the region’s Arab-speaking peoples, with a shared history, aspiration and culture.

Further, Syria, almost uniquely in the region, has led the process of separating religion from politics which, in turn, supports its broader, inclusive Arab traditions and historic defense of multiple and rich social communities. Syria’s famous pluralism was attacked by the NATO-sponsored terrorist groups, mainly Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS/DAESH, who abused minority communities while slaughtering anyone who backed the Damascus government.

The country remains under a severe US economic blockade, backed by the European Union, and subject to multiple foreign occupations. Repeated ‘chemical weapons of mass destruction’ scams, false flag massacres, fake claims of ‘freedom and democracy’, ‘moderate armed opposition’ slogans and the demonizing of President Assad were all part of a war to destroy, not just the Syrian government, but the Syrian state.

Dr. Al-Jaafari says that “from day one the Western strategy was based on making Syria a failed state”. That meant undermining Syria’s means of subsistence and strength – wheat, water, oil, the Tabqa dam, irrigation for agriculture, health systems and energy sources. “When you are a failed state, you lose your sovereignty; once you lose your sovereignty they can do to you whatever they want, because there is no state.”

“Our strength,” he says, “was to counter this strategy; and that is why they are extremely upset. We resisted their strategy and they failed It cost them trillions of dollars, eleven years of depriving the Syrian people of their basic needs. But they failed … We won the war, diplomatically speaking … militarily speaking, not yet”.

“The game is over … I think we preserved what is essential, we preserved the state, the country, the dignity, the independence and the political independence. It is costly yes, it has been so costly. But nowadays nobody says that we are wrong.”

Yet they do try to falsify history. If we look at the distorted ‘open source’ site Wikipedia we will see that ‘The Dirty War on Syria’ is listed as the ‘Syrian Civil War’. It is nothing of the sort. It is one of more than 20 proxy wars Washington has driven in the first two decades of this century.

Dr. Al-Jaafari points out that a UN sub-committee on Afghanistan’s Taliban in 2017 listed 101 countries as having exported terrorists to Syria. A number, like Indonesia, had governments friendly to Syria. On top of this, Israelis and the two largest NATO armies still occupy Syria. This is hardly a ‘civil war’.

Even though the Astana process (involving Russia, Iran and Turkey) has made some progress, by helping create ‘de-escalation zones’, Turkey under Erdogan has done tremendous damage to Syria. Dr Bashar says: “the Turkish policy has caused Syria and the Syrian people great damage, great damage.” On top of its support for the terrorist groups, the Turkish government has attacked critical civilian infrastructure.

Syria had an agreement with Turkey on sharing water which committed to passing 500 cubic meters per second, down the Euphrates. Yet for the last 10 years, “they have allowed less than half of this”, causing great damage to the electricity-generating Tabqa dam: “They did the same to a station in Al-Hasakah governate.”

So there have been chronic shortages of water for agriculture, as well as the theft of oil and wheat by the Americans. In Iraq, the situation is even worse. “Now the Iraqis walk in the [bed of the Tigris] river”.

Turkey is part of NATO and “is benefiting greatly from the American wrongdoings in the region… sharing benefits from the chaos that they themselves created.”

The Vice Minister made two points about aid and the refugees. He tells countries saying they want to provide ‘aid’: “We don’t need” your aid. He says Syria needs to rebuild its own capacities, reopening factories and creating employment.

He tells them “lift the sanctions so that the refugees can go back to their villages. “However these countries “know what they are doing … they spent millions of dollars on the refugees so that they don’t go back to their homeland.”

These foreign states use correct words about refugees having “dignified and safe” lives. But their programs serve to keep them forever in the camps. “They will not come back because they don’t have jobs and homes.”

Instead of spending billions of dollars on the refugees, Dr. Al-Jaafari aks, “why not give them all $10,000 each, enough to restart their lives back home? Why not pay them $10,000 once, instead of the same amount every year?”

What the enemies of Syria did to Syria “has gone beyond the threshold”, he says. “In my opinion, they did it … because we did not punish them for what they did in Iraq … that was the biggest mistake ever.”

Yet there have been great geopolitical changes in recent years. “The whole world is shifting”, he says, with the rise of BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and other blocs. “The whole Asian part of the world” has given up on Western-dominated organizations like the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank.

“They don’t believe in that anymore and they want to create alternatives … let me say eastern alternatives, and this is very important.” The geopolitical center is shifting because the west has committed so many errors. This “might be a positive development, it might be a prelude to further confrontation, or it might be both.” In any case, he says, it is a sign that “enough is enough”.

Asked if Syria has applied to join the SCO, Dr. Al-Jaafari replies “of course, we submitted our request … recently.”

Speech by the President of Russia at an expanded meeting of the SCO Heads of State Councila Plus Press Conference (ENG Subtitles)

SEPTEMBER 17, 2022

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues,

https://thesaker.is/speech-by-the-president-of-russia-at-an-expanded-meeting-of-the-sco-heads-of-state-council/I fully share the statements made by my colleagues and their positive assessments of the work of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and its growing prestige in international affairs. Indeed, the SCO has become the largest regional organisation in the world. As previous speakers have pointed out, over half of the world’s population lives in SCO member states, which account for about 25 percent of global GDP and have a powerful intellectual and technological potential and a considerable part of global natural resources.

At the same time, the SCO is not marking time but continues to develop and build up its role in addressing international and regional issues and maintaining peace, security and stability throughout the vast Eurasian space. Colleagues, this is especially important in the current complicated international situation, about which we have talked in detail during our restricted-attendance meeting.

However, I would like to repeat that global politics and economy are about to undergo fundamental and irreversible changes. The growing role of new centres of power is coming into sharp focus, and interaction among these new centres is not based on some rules, which are being forced on them by external forces and which nobody has seen, but on the universally recognised principles of the rule of international law and the UN Charter, namely, equal and indivisible security and respect for each other’s sovereignty, national values and interests.

It is on these principles, which are devoid of all elements of egoism, that the joint efforts of SCO member states are based in politics and the economy. This opens up broad prospects for continued mutually beneficial cooperation in politics, the economy, culture, humanitarian and other spheres.

Fighting terrorism and extremism, drug trafficking, organised crime and illegal armed formations remains a priority of our cooperation. Other key areas include providing assistance in the political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts along our external borders, including in Afghanistan.

Strengthening economic cooperation has traditionally been a critical part of the SCO’s activities. Our joint efforts are designed to expand trade and investment exchanges, carry out mutually beneficial business projects in various industries, and to increase the volume of settlements in national currencies.

As noted above, including by the President of Kazakhstan, we are open to working with the whole world. The SCO is a non-bloc association. We help addressing the energy and food problems that are growing globally as a result of certain systemic errors in the world’s leading economies in the field of finance and energy. Our policy is not selfish. We hope that other participants in economic cooperation will build their policies on the same principles and stop using the tools of protectionism, illegal sanctions and economic selfishness to their own advantage.

The European Commission’s decision to lift sanctions on Russian fertilisers is a vivid example of such selfish behaviour. We are aware of the fertilisers’ important role in overcoming the food problem. Of course, we welcome the decision to lift the sanctions. But it turns out that, in accordance with the clarification of the European Commission of September 10, these sanctions were lifted only for EU countries. It turns out that they are the only ones who can purchase our fertilisers. What about the developing poorest countries around the world?

Taking advantage of the presence of UN Under-Secretary-General [Rosemary] DiCarlo, I would like to ask the UN Secretariat – I discussed this matter with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres the day before yesterday – to use its influence on the European Commission’s decision not in word, but in deed and to demand that they, our colleagues from the European Commission, lift these clearly discriminatory restrictions on developing countries and provide access for Russian fertilisers to their markets.

Also, the day before yesterday I apprised Secretary-General Guterres of the fact that 300,000 tonnes of Russian fertilisers are stocked at the EU seaports. We are ready to make them available to developing countries for free.

I would also like to note that Russia is increasing its grain exports to international markets. This year, it is going to be 30 million tonnes, and next year it will be 50 million tonnes with 90 percent of our food exports going to the markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Undoubtedly, the ongoing summit’s decisions and documents to improve the efficiency of international transport corridors, to expand intraregional, to advance industrial and scientific and technical cooperation, and to introduce high-tech solutions in agriculture and healthcare will promote further development of business ties within the SCO.

It is also important to advance cultural and humanitarian cooperation within the SCO.

Agreements and memorandums on cooperation in tourism and museology that will be signed during today’s meeting will serve as the next step forward on this path.

It appears that opportunities are good for stepping up sports cooperation and potentially holding major sporting events with SCO sponsorship. To do this, we could think about creating an association of sports organisations under our association.

Friends,

It was noted earlier today during the restricted-attendance meeting that the SCO states focus on expanding cooperation with countries that seek to establish an open and equal dialogue with our organisation and are interested in joining it. In this context, Russia, no doubt, favours the earliest possible accession of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the SCO, which is what the documents and the memorandum that will be signed today are designed to accomplish. We are convinced that Iran’s full-fledged participation will be beneficial for the association, as that country plays an important role in the Eurasian region and the world at large.

We also fully stand behind the decision submitted for approval by the Heads of State Council to start the process of admitting the Republic of Belarus as an SCO member. Let me be clear that we have always advocated that Belarus, which is Russia’s strategic partner and closest ally, should participate fully in the SCO. This will undoubtedly improve our ability to advance unity in politics, the economy, security and humanitarian matters.

Of course, we welcome the granting of SCO dialogue partner status to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as the commencement of the procedure for obtaining this status by the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Republic of Maldives, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and the United Arab Emirates. Notably, there are more countries desirous of cooperating with the SCO in various capacities, and applications from other states and international associations deserve our utmost attention and favourable consideration.

In closing, I would like to thank President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for the hospitality and excellent organisation of our work, and to congratulate Uzbekistan on its successful SCO chairmanship. I would also like to wish every success to our Indian friends who are taking over the chairmanship today.

Thank you for your attention.

Press Conference (ENG Subtitles)

This video was translated and subtitled by Michael Rossi Poli Sci
Please support him on this Patreon channel: https://www.patreon.com/MichaelRossiPoliSci

Full text of Xi’s speech at SCO Samarkand summit

September 17, 2022

SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) here on Friday.

The following is the full text of the speech:

Ride on the Trend of the Times and Enhance Solidarity and Cooperation to Embrace a Better Future
Statement by H.E. Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
At the 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of The Shanghai Cooperation Organization
Samarkand, Sept. 16, 2022

(Emphasis added by me, Andrei)

Your Excellency President Shavkat Mirziyoyev,

Colleagues,

I am delighted to attend the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). I would like to thank you, President Mirziyoyev, for your warm hospitality and thoughtful arrangements. I salute Uzbekistan for the great job it has done to promote SCO cooperation in various fields during its presidency over the past year.

Samarkand, renowned as the pearl on the Silk Road, witnessed the glory of the ancient Silk Road, a route that greatly boosted the flow of goods, spread of science and technology, interaction of ideas, and integration of diverse cultures on the Eurasian continent. Indeed, the ancient Silk Road has remained a historical source of inspiration for us SCO member states as we pursue peace and development.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the SCO Charter and 15th anniversary of the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Between the SCO Member States. Over the years, guided by these two founding documents, we have succeeded in exploring a new path for the development of international organizations, and there is much we can draw on from SCO’s rich practices.

— Political trust. Guided by the vision of forging enduring friendship and peace among the SCO member states, we respect each other’s core interests and choice of development path and support each other in achieving peace, stability, development and rejuvenation.

— Win-win cooperation. We accommodate each other’s interests, stay true to the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits, enhance synergy between our respective development strategies, and keep to the path of win-win cooperation toward common prosperity.

— Equality between nations. We are committed to the principle of equality among all countries regardless of their size, consensus-based decision-making, and addressing issues through friendly consultations. We reject the practice of the strong bullying the weak or the big bullying the small.

— Openness and inclusiveness. We stand for harmonious coexistence and mutual learning between different countries, nations and cultures, dialogue between civilizations and seeking common ground while shelving differences. We are ready to establish partnership and develop win-win cooperation with other countries and international organizations that share our vision.

— Equity and justice. We are committed to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter; we tackle major international and regional issues on the basis of their merits, and oppose the pursuit of one’s own agenda at the expense of other countries’ legitimate rights and interests.

These five points fully embody the Shanghai Spirit, namely, mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development. It has been shown that this spirit is the source of strength for the development of the SCO. It is also the fundamental guide we must continue to follow in the years to come. We owe SCO’s remarkable success to the Shanghai Spirit. And we will continue to follow its guidance as we forge ahead.

Colleagues,

Human society, like the natural world, has both sunny and rainy days in its development. Our world today is undergoing accelerating changes unseen in a century, and it has entered a new phase of uncertainty and transformation. The once-in-a-century pandemic has continued unabated. Regional conflicts keep flaring up. The Cold War mentality and group politics are resurfacing, so are unilateralism and protectionism. Economic globalization has encountered headwinds. Deficit in peace, development, trust, and governance has grown. Human society has reached a crossroads and faces unprecedented challenges.

Under these new conditions, the SCO, as an important constructive force in international and regional affairs, should keep itself well-positioned in the face of changing international dynamics, ride on the trend of the times, strengthen solidarity and cooperation and build a closer SCO community with a shared future.

First, we need to enhance mutual support. We should strengthen high-level exchanges and strategic communication, deepen mutual understanding and political trust, and support each other in our efforts to uphold security and development interests. We should guard against attempts by external forces to instigate “color revolution,” jointly oppose interference in other countries’ internal affairs under any pretext, and hold our future firmly in our own hands.

Second, we need to expand security cooperation. A proverb in Uzbekistan goes to the effect that “With peace, a country enjoys prosperity, just as with rain, the land can flourish.” The Global Security Initiative put forward by China is to address the peace deficit and global security challenges. It calls on all countries to stay true to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture. We welcome all stakeholders to get involved in implementing this initiative.

We should continue to carry out joint anti-terrorism exercises, crack down hard on terrorism, separatism and extremism, drug trafficking as well as cyber and transnational organized crimes; and we should effectively meet the challenges in data security, biosecurity, outer space security and other non-traditional security domains. China is ready to train 2,000 law enforcement personnel for SCO member states in the next five years, and establish a China-SCO base for training counter-terrorism personnel, so as to enhance capacity-building for law enforcement of SCO member states.

We should ensure that the SCO-Afghanistan contact group and the mechanism of coordination and cooperation among Afghanistan’s neighbors continue to play their roles; and we should encourage Afghan authorities to establish a broadly-based and inclusive political structure and remove the ground that breeds terrorism.

Third, we need to deepen practical cooperation. To deliver a better life for people of all countries in the region is our shared goal. The Global Development Initiative launched by China aims to focus global attention on development, foster global development partnership, and achieve more robust, greener and more balanced global development. China is ready to work with all other stakeholders to pursue this initiative in our region to support the sustainable development of regional countries.

We need to implement the two statements on safeguarding international energy and food security to be adopted by this summit and better protect energy and food security. China will provide developing countries in need with emergency humanitarian assistance of grain and other supplies worth 1.5 billion RMB yuan.

We welcome the Comprehensive Plan for the Implementation of the SCO Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation for 2023-2027 to be adopted at this summit. We should fully implement the cooperation documents in such areas as trade and investment, infrastructure building, protecting supply chains, scientific and technological innovation and artificial intelligence to be adopted within the framework of the summit. It is important to continue our efforts to achieve the complementarity of the Belt and Road Initiative with national development strategies and regional cooperation initiatives, expand sub-multilateral cooperation and sub-regional cooperation, and create more growth drivers in cooperation.

We need to ensure implementation of the roadmap for SCO member states to expand shares of local currency settlement, better develop the system for cross-border payment and settlement in local currencies, work for the establishment of an SCO development bank, and thus speed up regional economic integration. Next year, China will host an SCO ministers’ meeting on development cooperation and an industrial and supply chains forum, and will set up the China-SCO Big Data Cooperation Center to create new engines of common development. China stands ready to carry out space cooperation with all other parties and provide satellite data service to support them in agricultural development, connectivity and disaster mitigation and relief.

Fourth, we need to enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Exchanges promote integration among civilizations, which, in turn, enables civilizations to advance. We should deepen cooperation in such areas as education, science and technology, culture, health, media, radio and television, ensure the continued success of signature programs such as the youth exchange camp, the women’s forum, the forum on people-to-people friendship and the forum on traditional medicine, and support the SCO Committee on Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation and other non-official organizations in playing their due roles. China will build a China-SCO ice and snow sports demonstration zone and host the SCO forums on poverty reduction and sustainable development and on sister cities next year. In the next three years, China will carry out 2,000 free cataract operations for SCO member states and provide 5,000 human resources training opportunities for them.

Fifth, we need to uphold multilateralism. Obsession with forming a small circle can only push the world toward division and confrontation. We should remain firm in safeguarding the UN-centered international system and the international order based on international law, practice the common values of humanity and reject zero-sum game and bloc politics. We should expand SCO’s exchanges with other international and regional organizations such as the UN, so as to jointly uphold true multilateralism, improve global governance, and ensure that the international order is more just and equitable.

Colleagues,

The Eurasian continent is home to us all. Upholding its peace and development is the shared goal of countries both in our region and the world at large, and the SCO shoulders an important responsibility in meeting this goal. In recent years, an increasing number of countries have applied to join our SCO family. This fully demonstrates the power of SCO’s vision and the widely shared confidence in its future. By promoting the development and expansion of the SCO and giving full play to its positive impact, we will create strong momentum and new dynamism for ensuring durable peace and common prosperity of the Eurasian continent and the whole world. China supports advancing SCO expansion in an active yet prudent manner, and this includes going through the procedure to admit Iran as a member state, launching the procedure for Belarus’ accession, admitting Bahrain, the Maldives, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Myanmar as dialogue partners, and granting the relevant applying countries the legal status due to them. We need to seize the opportunity to build consensus, deepen cooperation and jointly create a bright future for the Eurasian continent.

Here I wish to express China’s congratulations to India on assuming the next SCO presidency. We will, together with other member states, support India during its presidency.

Colleagues,

This year, facing a complex and challenging development environment both at home and abroad, China has stayed committed to the general principle of making advances while maintaining stable performance, and it has striven to ensure both effective COVID-19 containment, economic stability and development security. We have continued to respond to COVID-19 and promote economic and social development in a well-coordinated way. Thus, to the greatest extent possible, we have both safeguarded the life and health of the people and ensured overall economic and social development. The fundamentals of China’s economy, characterized by strong resilience, enormous potential, ample room for policy adjustment and long-term sustainability, will remain sound. This will greatly boost the stability and recovery of the world economy and provide more market opportunities for other countries.

Next month, the Communist Party of China will convene its 20th National Congress. It will be an important meeting to be held at a critical time as China embarks on a new journey toward its second centenary goal of building a modern socialist country in all respects. At this national congress, the Communist Party of China will fully review the major achievements made and valuable experience gained in China’s reform and development endeavors. It will also formulate programs of action and overarching policies to meet China’s new development goals on the journey ahead in the new era and the new expectations of the people. We will continue to follow the Chinese path to modernization to achieve the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and we will continue to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. By doing so, we will create new opportunities for the world with new advances in China’s development and contribute our vision and strength to world peace and development and human progress.

Colleagues,

Long as the journey is, we will surely reach our destination when we stay the course. Let us act in the Shanghai Spirit, work for the steady development of the SCO, and jointly build our region into a peaceful, stable, prosperous and beautiful home!

Thank you

Source

‘Samarkand Spirit’ to be driven by ‘responsible powers’ Russia and China

The SCO summit of Asian power players delineated a road map for strengthening the multipolar world

September 16 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

Amidst serious tremors in the world of geopolitics, it is so fitting that this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state summit should have taken place in Samarkand – the ultimate Silk Road crossroads for 2,500 years.

When in 329 BC Alexander the Great reached the then Sogdian city of Marakanda, part of the Achaemenid empire, he was stunned: “Everything I have heard about Samarkand it’s true, except it is even more beautiful than I had imagined.”

Fast forward to an Op-Ed by Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev published ahead of the SCO summit, where he stresses how Samarkand now “can become a platform that is able to unite and reconcile states with various foreign policy priorities.”

After all, historically, the world from the point of view of the Silk Road landmark has always been “perceived as one and indivisible, not divided. This is the essence of a unique phenomenon – the ‘Samarkand spirit’.”

And here Mirziyoyev ties the “Samarkand Spirit” to the original SCO “Shanghai Spirit” established in early 2001, a few months before the events of September 11, when the world was forced into strife and endless war, almost overnight.

All these years, the culture of the SCO has been evolving in a distinctive Chinese way. Initially, the Shanghai Five were focused on fighting terrorism – months before the US war of terror (italics mine) metastasized from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond.

Over the years, the initial “three no’s” – no alliance, no confrontation, no targeting any third party – ended up equipping a fast, hybrid vehicle whose ‘four wheels’ are ‘politics, security, economy, and humanities,’ complete with a Global Development Initiative, all of which contrast sharply with the priorities of a hegemonic, confrontational west.

Arguably the biggest takeaway of this week’s Samarkand summit is that Chinese President Xi Jinping presented China and Russia, together, as “responsible global powers” bent on securing the emergence of multipolarity, and refusing the arbitrary “order” imposed by the United States and its unipolar worldview.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pronounced Xi’s bilateral conversation with President Vladimir Putin as “excellent.” Xi Jinping, previous to their meeting, and addressing Putin directly, had already stressed the common Russia-China objectives:

“In the face of the colossal changes of our time on a global scale, unprecedented in history, we are ready with our Russian colleagues to set an example of a responsible world power and play a leading role in order to put such a rapidly changing world on the trajectory of sustainable and positive development.”

Later, in the preamble to the heads of state meeting, Xi went straight to the point: it is important to “prevent attempts by external forces to organize ‘color revolutions’ in the SCO countries.” Well, Europe wouldn’t be able to tell, because it has been color-revolutionized non-stop since 1945.

Putin, for his part, sent a message that will be ringing all across the Global South: “Fundamental transformations have been outlined in world politics and economics, and they are irreversible.” (italics mine)

Iran: it’s showtime

Iran was the guest star of the Samarkand show, officially embraced as the 9th member of the SCO. President Ebrahim Raisi, significantly, stressed before meeting Putin that “Iran does not recognize sanctions against Russia.” Their strategic partnership will be enhanced. On the business front, a hefty delegation comprising leaders of 80 large Russian companies will be visiting Tehran next week.

The increasing Russia-China-Iran interpolation – the three top drivers of Eurasia integration – scares the hell out of the usual suspects, who may be starting to grasp how the SCO represents, in the long run, a serious challenge to their geoeconomic game. So, as every grain of sand in every Heartland desert is already aware, the geopolitical pressure against the trio will increase exponentially.

And then there was the mega-crucial Samarkand trilateral: Russia-China-Mongolia. There were no official leaks, but this trio arguably discussed the Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline – the interconnector to be built across Mongolia; and Mongolia’s enhanced role in a crucial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connectivity corridor, now that China is not using the Trans-Siberian route for exports to Europe because of sanctions.

Putin briefed Xi on all aspects of Russia’s Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine, and arguably answered some really tough questions, many of them circulating wildly on the Chinese web for months now.

Which brings us to Putin’s presser at the end of the summit – with virtually all questions predictably revolving around the military theater in Ukraine.

The key takeaway from the Russian president: “There are no changes on the SMO plan. The main tasks are being implemented.” On peace prospects, it is Ukraine that “is not ready to talk to Russia.” And overall, “it is regrettable that the west had the idea to use Ukraine to try to collapse Russia.”

On the fertilizer soap opera, Putin remarked, “food supply, energy supply, they (the west) created these problems, and now are trying to resolve them at the expense of someone else” – meaning the poorest nations. “European countries are former colonial powers and they still have this paradigm of colonial philosophy. The time has come to change their behavior, to become more civilized.”

On his meeting with Xi Jinping: “It was just a regular meeting, it’s been quite some time we haven’t had a meeting face to face.” They talked about how to “expand trade turnover” and circumvent the “trade wars caused by our so-called partners,” with “expansion of settlements in national currencies not progressing as fast as we want.”

Strenghtening multipolarity

Putin’s bilateral with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not have been more cordial – on a “very special friendship” register – with Modi calling for serious solutions to the food and fuel crises, actually addressing the west. Meanwhile, the State Bank of India will be opening special rupee accounts to handle Russia-related trade.

This is Xi’s first foreign trip since the Covid pandemic. He could do it because he’s totally confident of being awarded a third term during the Communist Party Congress next month in Beijing. Xi now controls and/or has allies placed in at least 90 percent of the Politburo.

The other serious reason was to recharge the appeal of BRI in close connection to the SCO. China’s ambitious BRI project was officially launched by Xi in Astana (now Nur-Sultan) nine years ago. It will remain the overarching Chinese foreign policy concept for decades ahead.

BRI’s emphasis on trade and connectivity ties in with the SCO’s evolving multilateral cooperation mechanisms, congregating nations focusing on economic development independent from the hazy, hegemonic “rules-based order.” Even India under Modi is having second thoughts about relying on western blocs, where New Delhi is at best a neo-colonized “partner.”

So Xi and Putin, in Samarkand, for all practical purposes delineated a road map for strengthening multipolarity – as stressed by the final  Samarkand declaration  signed by all SCO members.

The Kazakh puzzle 

There will be bumps on the road aplenty. It’s no accident that Xi started his trip in Kazakhstan – China’s mega-strategic western rear, sharing a very long border with Xinjiang. The tri-border at the dry port of Khorgos – for lorries, buses and trains, separately – is quite something, an absolutely key BRI node.

The administration of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Nur-Sultan (soon to be re-named Astana again) is quite tricky, swinging between eastern and western political orientations, and infiltrated by Americans as much as during the era of predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s first post-USSR president.

Earlier this month, for instance, Nur-Sultan, in partnership with Ankara and British Petroleum (BP) – which virtually rules Azerbaijan – agreed to increase the volume of oil on the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline to up to 4 million tons a month by the end of this year. Chevron and ExxonMobil, very active in Kazakhstan, are part of the deal.

The avowed agenda of the usual suspects is to “ultimately disconnect the economies of Central Asian countries from the Russian economy.” As Kazakhstan is a member not only of the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), but also the BRI, it is fair to assume that Xi – as well as Putin – discussed some pretty serious issues with Tokayev, told him to grasp which way the wind is blowing, and advised him to keep the internal political situation under control (see the aborted coup in January, when Tokayev was de facto saved by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO]).

There’s no question Central Asia, historically known as a “box of gems” at the center of the Heartland, striding the Ancient Silk Roads and blessed with immense natural wealth – fossil fuels, rare earth metals, fertile agrarian lands – will be used by the usual suspects as a Pandora’s box, releasing all manner of toxic tricks against legitimate Eurasian integration.

That’s in sharp contrast with West Asia, where Iran in the SCO will turbo-charge its key role of crossroads connectivity between Eurasia and Africa, in connection with the BRI and the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC).

So it’s no wonder that the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, all in West Asia, do recognize which way the wind is blowing. The three Persian Gulf states received official SCO ‘partner status’ in Samarkand, alongside the Maldives and Myanmar.

A cohesion of goals

Samarkand also gave an extra impulse to integration along the Russian-conceptualized Greater Eurasia Partnership  – which includes the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – and that, just two weeks after the game-changing Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) held in Vladivostok, on Russia’s strategic Pacific coast.

Moscow’s priority at the EAEU is to implement a union-state with Belarus (which looks bound to become a new SCO member before 2024), side-by-side with closer integration with the BRI. Serbia, Singapore and Iran have trade agreements with the EAEU too.

The Greater Eurasian Partnership was proposed by Putin in 2015 – and it’s getting sharper as the EAEU commission, led by Sergey Glazyev, actively designs a new financial system, based on gold and natural resources and counter-acting the Bretton Woods system. Once the new framework is ready to be tested, the key disseminator is likely to be the SCO.

So here we see in play the full cohesion of goals – and the interaction mechanisms – deployed by the Greater Eurasia Partnership, BRI, EAEU, SCO, BRICS+ and the INSTC. It’s a titanic struggle to unite all these organizations and take into account the geoeconomic priorities of each member and associate partner, but that’s exactly what’s happening, at breakneck speed.

In this connectivity feast, practical imperatives range from fighting local bottlenecks to setting up complex multi-party corridors – from the Caucasus to Central Asia, from Iran to India, everything discussed in multiple roundtables.

Successes are already notable: from Russia and Iran introducing direct settlements in rubles and rials, to Russia and China increasing their trade in rubles and yuan to 20 percent – and counting. An Eastern Commodity Exchange may be soon established in Vladivostok to facilitate trade in futures and derivatives with the Asia-Pacific.

China is the undisputed primary creditor/investor in infrastructure across Central Asia. Beijing’s priorities may be importing gas from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and oil from Kazakhstan, but connectivity is not far behind.

The $5 billion construction of the 600 km-long Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan (Pakafuz) railway will deliver cargo from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean in only three days instead of 30. And that railway will be linked to Kazakhstan and the already in progress 4,380 km-long Chinese-built railway from Lanzhou to Tashkent, a BRI project.

Nur-Sultan is also interested in a Turkmenistan-Iran-Türkiye railway, which would connect its port of Aktau on the Caspian Sea with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea.

Türkiye, meanwhile, still a SCO observer and constantly hedging its bets, slowly but surely is trying to strategically advance its own Pax Turcica, from technological development to defense cooperation, all that under a sort of politico-economic-security package. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did discuss it in Samarkand with Putin, as the latter later announced that 25 percent of Russian gas bought by Ankara will be paid in rubles.    

Welcome to Great Game 2.0

Russia, even more than China, knows that the usual suspects are going for broke. In 2022 alone, there was a failed coup in Kazakhstan in January; troubles in Badakhshan, in Tajikistan, in May; troubles in Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan in June; the non-stop border clashes between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (both presidents, in Samarkand, at least agreed on a ceasefire and to remove troops from their borders).

And then there is recently-liberated Afghanistan – with no less than 11 provinces crisscrossed by ISIS-Khorasan and its Tajik and Uzbek associates. Thousands of would-be Heartland jihadis have made the trip to Idlib in Syria and then back to Afghanistan – ‘encouraged’ by the usual suspects, who will use every trick under the sun to harass and ‘isolate’ Russia from Central Asia.

So Russia and China should be ready to be involved in a sort of immensely complex, rolling Great Game 2.0 on steroids, with the US/NATO fighting united Eurasia and Turkiye in the middle.

On a brighter note, Samarkand proved that at least consensus exists among all the players at different institutional organizations that: technological sovereignty will determine sovereignty; and that regionalization – in this case Eurasian – is bound to replace US-ruled globalization.

These players also understand that the Mackinder and Spykman era is coming to a close – when Eurasia was ‘contained’ in a semi-disassembled shape so western maritime powers could exercise total domination, contrary to the national interests of Global South actors.

It’s now a completely different ball game. As much as the Greater Eurasia Partnership is fully supported by China, both favor the interconnection of BRI and EAEU projects, while the SCO shapes a common environment.

Yes, this is an Eurasian civilizational project for the 21st century and beyond. Under the aegis of the ‘Spirit of Samarkand.’

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

A Turning-Point Once Every 500 Years

September 14, 2022

Source

By Batiushka

Introduction: The Old Queen

I recall some forty years ago meeting an elderly English lady, a farmer’s wife called Mrs Dove, who had been present as a schoolgirl at the funeral of Queen Victoria. ‘When the old Queen died all those years ago’, she reminisced nostalgically, ‘everything was draped in black and everyone was dressed in black’. Now Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter, the new ‘old Queen’, is dead, the news announced beneath a rainbow over Windsor Castle. This is the town whose name the Queen’s grandfather, George V, had adopted as the family name, instead of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The Windsor name was officially adopted on 17 July 1917, just after the British-orchestrated Russian ‘Revolution’ of 1917, one year to the day before the Tsar and his Family were murdered in Ekaterinburg, on the very frontiers of Europe and Asia. The Russian Tsar had been betrayed by his look-alike cousin, King George V.

Whatever you say about Queen Elizabeth II, she personally had modesty, she had dignity, she had presence, she actually believed in something, she had all that her descendants seem utterly to lack. Perhaps her end was hastened by the behaviour of her son Prince Andrew, her grandson Prince Harry and the imbeciles who inhabit 10 Downing Street, the latest of whom she had to appoint Prime Minister only two days before she died. Why live any longer? She must have been fed up with it all. This is the final, final end of the Protestant Empire of Great Britain (1522-2022) (1), whose collapse began exactly three generations ago in 1947 in India. Perhaps the decline will go swiftly now under the disliked King Charles III (called in Russian Karl III) (2), who finds himself without Queen Diana, the only one who could have saved him. Expect the break-up of the UK to be rapid.

The 96 year-old Queen Elizabeth II died in Scotland, in Victoria’s castle at Balmoral, a relic of the 19th century and its British Empire. Her curious, clipped Germanic accent – no English people talk like that – betrayed the Queen’s foreign origins as the last of the rulers shaped by German Protestantism, imported by the City of London merchant and financial class just over 300 years before. However, it is not only her, it is the other leaders of the Western world, relics of the 20th century, who are dying out too. They are gerontocrats. In the USA Biden, born in the first half of the 20th century and soon to be 80, should really be in an old folk’s home. It is cruel to keep parading him in front of the media like that and asking him to remember things. As for Pope Francis, aged 85, he can hardly walk and says that he too might go early, like his predecessor, still alive at 95, a relic forced to serve in the Hitler Youth.

Meanwhile, on the Eastern Front

After the humiliating debacle in Afghanistan in August 2021, when the Americans were kicked out and NATO was routed, the Asian century arrived. While Queen Elizabeth II was dying, senior representatives from sixty-eight countries were gathering at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific coast, a centre of the new multipolar world. They were there to listen to Moscow’s economic and political vision for the Asia-Pacific after the fall of the obsolete unipolar Western Empire. President Putin declared: ‘The new world order is based on the fundamental principles of justice and equality, as well as the recognition of the right of each state and people to their own sovereign path of development. Powerful political and economic centres are being formed right here in the Asia-Pacific region, acting as a driving force in this irreversible process’.

The Russian future is marked by the development of the Russian Arctic and of the Northern Sea Route through the Arctic. On the Northern Sea Route the emphasis is on building a powerful, modern fleet of icebreakers, some nuclear-powered. There is a long-term plan up to 2035 to create infrastructure for safe shipping navigation and a transformation in Arctic navigation and shipbuilding that has been under way for the last few years. A second development for Russia is the International North-South Transportation Corridor with one of its main ports in Chabahar in Iran. Now for the first time India will be directly connected to Central Asia. An Iranian shipping line with 300 vessels which link to Mumbai is taking part in the development of this Transportation Corridor. The creation of such a transport corridor is also leading to the integration of national transit systems in several countries.

In one week’s time the Samarkand Summit of the multipolar Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) will take place. Apart from the current full members – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and now Iran – no fewer than eleven more countries wish to join, including Afghanistan and Turkey, making potentially twenty in all. The SCO Summit is to examine economic cooperation with the aim of solving health, energy, food security and poverty reduction issues. India too wants an Asian century, for which close cooperation between India, China and Russia is necessary. For now India is not competitive and needs to diversify to obtain improved access to Eurasia, thanks to logistical help from Russia. Russia will also play a vital role in the Indian Ocean with the need for close co-operation between ‘The Big Three’, Russia, India and China.

We must recall that Asia alone has over 25% of the world’s GDP and 50% of the world’s population. Asia is no longer a series of countries subject to colonisation by Europe and the USA, but the agent for planetary change. The Asian century is here. There is also a global movement to join the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and Argentina. It all means that the Global Majority is no longer the US/CA/UK/EU/AUS/NZ and a few US colonies like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. It is Afro-Eurasia-Latin America, 87.5% of the world. Someone is going to have to find a snappy new name for this alphabet soup, EEF, SCO, BRICS, perhaps something like G2022 or simply ‘The Alliance’? All trade in it will be in bilateral currencies, not in the dollar. The centre has passed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Atlantic is becoming a backwater. This is a New Age.

Meanwhile, on the Western Front

The Eastern Economic Forum showed how most Asian nations are ‘friendly’ or ‘neutral’ towards the Russian Special Military Operation (SMO) in the Ukraine. They know that the Russian Armed Forces and the Russian State had been seeking peace and protection for those of Russian speech and culture in the Ukraine for eight years. The Operation was imposed on them by the incredible belligerence and arrogance of the West. Recently the US-backed and mercenary-led Kiev Armed Forces launched a counter-offensive to the south and east of the Ukraine towards Kherson and took many casualties for minor success. Kiev has been trying to compensate for that counter-offensive, where they lost two motorised brigades and over 300 tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery, with strikes to the north-west of Kharkov. But here too Kiev has been suffering such heavy losses that they have had to send reserves. The Allied forces have trapped the Kiev Army and its mercenaries in the open. Do not believe the absurd propaganda that Russia is losing.

According to a document signed by the Commander of the Armed Forces of the Ukraine, General Zaluzhny, by the beginning of July 2022, 76,640 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed (ten weeks on, it must be nearly 100,000). With the seriously wounded generally at a ratio of 1 to 1, this means that up to 200,000 Kiev troops may have been put out of action permanently. And that does not include deserters, captured and missing in action, which could make another 50,000. This confirms earlier reports that total Kiev casualties, those permanently out of the fighting, are a horrendous 250,000. In any case Ukrainian hospitals are overflowing, as friends from the Ukraine on Telegram and Whatsapp tell me every day. Indeed, a great many wounded have had to be sent to hospitals in Poland, which are also crowded, at least in Eastern Poland.

On the other hand, in all the Allies appear to have lost about 10,000 killed, most of them from the Donbass militias. This could mean up to 25,000 out of the fight permanently on their side. That is one tenth of Kiev’s casualties. With such huge Kiev losses, many are suggesting that Zelensky and his puppeteers in Washington and London are in fact guilty of war crimes. Nobody in his right mind sends his troops to the slaughter like this. Hitler proved that. Most analysts and observers consider that the conflict could end towards the end of next year or it could be slowed down till early 2024. By then the Allied Armed Forces could have liberated the nine provinces of Eastern Ukraine and demilitarised the nine provinces of Central Ukraine. This would leave the seven provinces of Western Ukraine, the real ‘borderlands’ (the meaning of the word ‘Ukraine’), 20% of the whole, to be returned to other countries, with five provinces going to Poland, one (Chernovtsy) to Romania and one (Zakarpat’e) to Hungary.

The New Ukraine, or whatever it may be called, may well become a Russian Protectorate, as may Belarus after Lukashenko (it already is in effect just that), and also Kazakhstan, which needs Russia, if only for military and economic reasons. We believe that the three collapsing and heavily depopulated Baltic States will also end up the same way, once their American puppet elites have gone. We would expect that Serbia, Serbian Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbian Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia, though remaining fully independent, will also loosely ally themselves with the Russian Federation, if only for energy reasons. And we would say the same of Orthodox Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Cyprus, and perhaps also of Catholic Hungary. Such an alliance in a very loose Confederation is what Stalin failed to do in 1945. In such a context we foresee the collapse of EU tyranny.

Conclusion: The Eurasian Future

Time is running out for the Combined West as a United World Power. It is formed from a parasitical elite and the peoples, zombified, hoodwinked and betrayed by that elite’s lying propaganda (remember that Goebbels too was a Westerner). All its front organisations, the UN, the EU, the G7, the G20, NATO, the WEF, the IMF, the World Bank etc, have failed. Today, the USA is bitterly divided, some would say, it is on the brink of a Civil War. Australia has become China’s mine. Most of the bankrupt EU and UK look like failed states. Japan is also bankrupt. Taiwan is inevitably returning to China. Korea will be reunified.

The only future for Western Europe is in an alliance with its natural partner, Asia, or rather Eurasia, which means Europe eating humble pie and going through Russia and accepting its leadership and respecting its culture. After reintegrating with Asia, from which it had artificially cut itself off in history, and coming out of its arrogant, navel-gazing isolation, Europe will next have to integrate Afro-Eurasia. This is the sense of the three generations of immigration to Western Europe from Asia and Africa. For Europe it is all about reintegrating the world and realising that it is now on an equal footing with it.

What a time to be alive! I remember so very well the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and all that followed in Romania, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union soon after. That was a turning point, 50 years after 1939 such a one as happens every 50 years. However, that was just the first part of a much greater change, that which is happening now. For what we are living through now via the Ukraine is a turning-point that happens once every 500 years. And the death of Queen Elizabeth II is the very symbol of this huge sea-change as we move with hope away from the Western mistakes of the past towards the next 500 years.

14 September 2022

Notes:

1. It is true that if we are to give a date to the English Reformation, then 1533 would be more exact. That was when the Pope of Rome excommunicated Henry VIII, who had made himself ‘Head of the Church’. However, we use the date 1522, because that was when Anne Boleyn arrived at the English court as a maid-in-waiting to the sonless Spanish Queen Catherine of Aragon. That was the start of it all. By 1533 Henry, who had been infatuated with Anne for years, was secretly married to her and she gave birth to a daughter in that same year.

Meanwhile, the London Parliament had passed an Imperial Act, which outlawed appeals to Rome on Church matters and proclaimed that: ‘This realm of England is an Empire (our emphasis), and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the Imperial Crown of the same, unto whom a body politic compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of Spirituality and Temporality, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience’.

2. In Russian tradition, Karl, the German form of the name Charles, is used. The name Karl is taken from Charlemagne, in German, Karl der Grosse, who gave rise to the Slavic word for king (kral, kral’, kráľ, król, korol’).

A footnote

13 Sep 2022 16:32

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Bouthaina Shaaban 

Because they cannot stop igniting wars in one part of the globe or another, that is the most pending danger NATO countries constitute to the welfare of human beings everywhere. 

Professor John Mearsheimer said the war in Ukraine will be a footnote in the history books written about the world changes this war has triggered. This remark may provide the best explanation of the huge noise the NATO countries have made about providing Ukraine with more sophisticated armaments and with billions of dollars in order to prevent a Russian victory. It also explains the big media campaign led by the West about the so-called advance made by the Ukrainian army against the Russians in Kharkov area. The press conference by NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, and the US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, has to be seen and understood in light of the dire economic crisis which is biting into Europe. 

Despite the iron fist laid on Western media, it is an open secret today that the sanctions imposed by the West against Russia have backfired on the West itself, and it has become clear that Western people are the ones suffering because of these sanctions, and not the Russian people as the western governments planned. In addition, the Eastern rapprochement between China and Russia is treading fast steps toward an alliance, and the Shanghai organization is attracting more member states, which in a short while, will become one of the most important world alliances that NATO countries do not want to see at all. Both China and Russia have announced that their future dealings and trade are going to be in Yuans and Rubles, which will start to weaken the dollar and shake its world status. 

During the week and contrary to the expectations of Western media, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, announced that he is going to Kazakhstan for a Shanghai meeting with the aim of meeting with President Putin. Every time these two leaders meet, they add another brick to the fortified base of their alliance whose grand announced aim is to change the world system into a multipolar system after getting rid of Western hegemony once and for all.

Of course, western experts and planners know all this and dread it, but instead of mentioning it or trying to address it in the real world, these jumped to the domain that they know best; i.e. the military claiming to their audiences that “Ukrainian forces have been able to stall Moscow offensive in the Donbass strike back behind Russian lines and retake territory.” On this narrative, they built the argument that NATO countries should send more support to Ukraine, with more billions of dollars and with the most sophisticated arms. Their imagination was set free to imagine that this is a very important moment for the Ukrainian people and army, and we should support them in order to prevent a Russian victory in Ukraine, as per their illusions.

First, there is no doubt that the press conference and all the media fever that came in its aftermath hailing progress made by Ukrainian forces against Russian forces was meant to change the focus of the Western people’s attention from the horrible consequences of the war on Ukraine on their daily lives and to stop the masses from taking to the streets to forcefully object to these policies, which proved to be disastrous to most of them.

Second, NATO countries have a history of supporting wars that have nothing to do with their geography or history. They now claim that they have to send hundreds of thousands of soldiers to protect the Eastern borders of NATO. What about Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria; are those also bordering NATO, or threatening its power? And what about Taiwan now; is it on the borders of NATO too?

The history of these countries proves without a shadow of a doubt that the military industry is at the core of its survival and continuity, and that is why they cannot survive and keep their hegemony over the world without this industry being well and prosperous, knowing that for this industry to be well and prosperous, it can only feed on wars. That is why they cannot stop igniting wars in one part of the globe or another, and that is the most pending danger NATO countries constitute to the welfare of human beings everywhere. 

What we have to remember is that we are dealing with two different worlds, two different systems of thinking, two different histories, and two very different objectives. The West, which has subjugated and colonized many countries across the world over centuries, has perfected the usage of media and psychological wars to keep people as its subject. Throughout history, Western colonial powers gave no thought to civilian casualties. A reminder of the answer of Madeleine Albright about millions of Iraqi children being killed; she said, “But it was worth it,” whereas Eastern powers represented by Russia in this war pay so much attention to avoiding unnecessary loss of civilian lives. They change their plans and their tactics if they can save lives in their military or on the adversary’s civilian lives. In fact, the Eastern attitude always believes in taking time. They are not in a hurry, and they do not rush to launch a media or psychological campaign because their objectives are far-reaching and by far nobler than those of the party whose main concern is to sell arms and accumulate more capital. 

For those reasons and many others unlisted here, we have to take the Hollywood postures made by the NATO Secretary-General and the US Secretary of State with a huge pinch of salt. Their major aim was to divert attention from the huge disaster they have created to their people through this uncalculated and misconceived adventure. It would have been much wiser and historically correct to review their decisions and decide whether they should continue in this futile endeavor or acknowledge the new realities on the ground born from the rise of the East and its determination, supported by the majority of people on Earth, to put an end to Western hegemony and remap the world on the basis of equal integrity and mutual respect. This may take a bit more time than what most people desire, but the train has left the station and it will undoubtedly reach its abode. The rest are insignificant details that no one will mention in the future.

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

Asia’s future takes shape in Vladivostok, the Russian Pacific

September 08, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Sixty-eight countries gathered on Russia’s far eastern coast to listen to Moscow’s economic and political vision for the Asia-Pacific

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok is one of the indispensable annual milestones for keeping up not only with the complex development process of the Russian Far East but major plays for Eurasia integration.

Mirroring an immensely turbulent 2022, the current theme in Vladivostok is ‘On the Path to a Multipolar World.’ Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, in a short message to business and government participants from 68 nations, set the stage:

“The obsolete unipolar model is being replaced by a new world order based on the fundamental principles of justice and equality, as well as the recognition of the right of each state and people to their own sovereign path of development. Powerful political and economic centers are taking shape right here in the Asia-Pacific region, acting as a driving force in this irreversible process.”

In his speech to the EEF plenary session, Ukraine was barely mentioned. Putin’s response when asked about it: “Is this country part of Asia-Pacific?”

The speech was largely structured as a serious message to the collective west, as well as to what top analyst Sergey Karaganov calls the “global majority.” Among several takeaways, these may be the most relevant:

  • Russia as a sovereign state will defend its interests.
  • Western sanctions ‘fever’ is threatening the world – and economic crises are not going away after the pandemic.
  • The entire system of international relations has changed. There is an attempt to maintain world order by changing the rules.
  • Sanctions on Russia are closing down businesses in Europe. Russia is coping with economic and tech aggression from the west.
  • Inflation is breaking records in developed countries. Russia is looking at around 12 percent.
  • Russia has played its part in grain exports leaving Ukraine, but most shipments went to EU nations and not developing countries.
  • The “welfare of the ‘Golden Billion’ is being ignored.”
  • The west is in no position to dictate energy prices to Russia.
  • Ruble and yuan will be used for gas payments.
  • The role of Asia-Pacific has significantly increased.

In a nutshell: Asia is the new epicenter of technological progress and productivity.

No more an ‘object of colonization’ 

Taking place only two weeks before another essential annual gathering – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand – it is no wonder some of the top discussions at the EEF revolve around the increasing economic interpolation between the SCO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This theme is as crucial as the development of the Russian Arctic: at 41 percent of total territory, that’s the largest resource base in the federation, spread out over nine regions, and encompassing the largest Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the planet, linked to the free port of Vladivostok. The Arctic is being developed via several strategically important projects processing mineral, energy, water and biological natural resources.

So it’s perfectly fitting that Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissel, self-described as “a passionate historian,” quipped about her fascination at how Russia and its Asian partners are tackling the development of the Northern Sea Route: “One of my favorite expressions is that airlines and pipelines are moving east. And I keep saying this for twenty years.”

Amidst a wealth of roundtables exploring everything from the power of territory, supply chains and global education to “the three whales” (science, nature, human), arguably the top discussion this Tuesday at the forum was centered on the role of the SCO.

Apart from the current full members – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, four Central Asians (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan), plus the recent accession of Iran – no less than 11 further nations want to join, from observer Afghanistan to dialogue partner Turkey.

Grigory Logvinov, the SCO’s deputy secretary general, stressed how the economic, political and scientific potential of players comprising “the center of gravity” for Asia – over a quarter of the world’s GDP, 50 percent of the world’s population – has not been fully harvested yet.

Kirill Barsky, from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, explained how the SCO is actually the model of multipolarity, according to its charter, compared to the backdrop of “destructive processes” launched by the west.

And that leads to the economic agenda in the Eurasian integration progress, with the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) configured as the SCO’s most important partner.

Barsky identifies the SCO as “the core Eurasian structure, forming the agenda of Greater Eurasia within a network of partnership organizations.” That’s where the importance of the cooperation with ASEAN comes in.

Barsky could not but evoke Mackinder, Spykman and Brzezinski – who regarded Eurasia “as an object to be acted upon the wishes of western states, confined within the continent, away from the ocean shores, so the western world could dominate in a global confrontation of land and sea. The SCO as it developed can triumph over these negative concepts.”

And here we hit a notion widely shared from Tehran to Vladivostok:

Eurasia no longer as “an object of colonization by ‘civilized Europe’ but again an agent of global policy.”

‘India wants a 21st Asian century’

Sun Zuangnzhi from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) elaborated on China’s interest in the SCO. He focused on achievements: In the 21 years since its founding, a mechanism to establish security between China, Russia and Central Asian states evolved into “multi-tiered, multi-sector cooperation mechanisms.”

Instead of “turning into a political instrument,” the SCO should capitalize on its role of dialogue forum for states with a difficult history of conflicts – “interactions are sometimes difficult” – and focus on economic cooperation “on health, energy, food security, reduction of poverty.”

Rashid Alimov, a former SCO secretary general, now a professor at the Taihe Institute, stressed the “high expectations” from Central Asian nations, the core of the organization. The original idea remains – based on the indivisibility of security on a trans-regional level in Eurasia.

Well, we all know how the US and NATO reacted when Russia late last year proposed a serious dialogue on “indivisibility of security.”

As Central Asia does not have an outlet to the sea, it is inevitable, as Alimov stressed, that Uzbekistan’s foreign policy privileges involvement in accelerated intra-SCO trade. Russia and China may be the leading investors, and now “Iran also plays an important role. Over 1,200 Iranian companies are working in Central Asia.”

Connectivity, once again, must increase: “The World Bank rates Central Asia as one of the least connected economies in the world.”

Sergey Storchak of Russian bank VEB explained the workings of the “SCO interbank consortium.” Partners have used “a credit line from the Bank of China” and want to sign a deal with Uzbekistan. The SCO interbank consortium will be led by the Indians on a rotation basis – and they want to step up its game. At the upcoming summit in Samarkand, Storchak expects a road map for the transition towards the use of national currencies in regional trade.

Kumar Rajan from the School of International Studies of the Jawaharlal Nehru University articulated the Indian position. He went straight to the point: “India wants a 21st Asian century. Close cooperation between India and China is necessary. They can make the Asian century happen.”

Rajan remarked how India does not see the SCO as an alliance, but committed to the development and political stability of Eurasia.

He made the crucial point about connectivity revolving around India “working with Russia and Central Asia with the INSTC” – the International North South Transportation Corridor, and one of its key hubs, the Chabahar port in Iran: “India does not have direct physical connectivity with Central Asia. The INSTC has the participation of an Iranian shipping line with 300 vessels, connecting to Mumbai. President Putin, in the [recent] Caspian meeting, referred directly to the INSTC.”

Crucially, India not only supports the Russian concept of Greater Eurasia Partnership but is engaged in setting up a free trade agreement with the EAEU: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, incidentally, came to the Vladivostok forum last year.

In all of the above nuanced interventions, some themes are constant. After the Afghanistan disaster and the end of the US occupation there, the stabilizing role of the SCO cannot be overstated enough. An ambitious road map for cooperation is a must – probably to be approved at the Samarkand summit. All players will be gradually changing to trade in bilateral currencies. And creation of transit corridors is leading to the progressive integration of national transit systems.

Let there be light

A key roundtable on the ‘Gateway to a Multipolar World’ expanded on the SCO role, outlining how most Asian nations are “friendly” or “benevolently neutral” when it comes to Russia after the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine.

So the possibilities for expanding cooperation across Eurasia remain practically unlimited. Complementarity of economies is the main factor. That would lead, among other developments, to the Russian Far East, as a multipolar hub, turning into “Russia’s gateway to Asia” by the 2030s.

Wang Wen from the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies stressed the need for Russia to rediscover China – finding “mutual trust in the middle level and elites level”. At the same time, there’s a sort of global rush to join BRICS, from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Afghanistan and Argentina:

“That means a new civilization model for emerging economies like China and Argentina because they want to rise up peacefully (…) I think we are in the new civilization age.”

B. K. Sharma from the United Service Institution of India got back to Spykman pigeonholing the nation as a rimland state. Not anymore: India now has multiple strategies, from connecting to Central Asia to the ‘Act East’ policy. Overall, it’s an outreach to Eurasia, as India “is not competitive and needs to diversify to get better access to Eurasia, with logistical help from Russia.“

Sharma stresses how India takes SCO, BRICS and RICs very seriously while seeing Russia playing “an important role in the Indian Ocean.” He nuances the Indo-Pacific outlook: India does not want Quad as a military alliance, privileging instead “interdependence and complementarity between India, Russia and China.”

All of these discussions interconnect with the two overarching themes in several Vladivostok roundtables: energy and the development of the Arctic’s natural resources.

Pavel Sorokin, Russian First Deputy Minister of Energy, dismissed the notion of a storm or typhoon in the energy markets: “It’s a far cry from a natural process. It’s a man-made situation.” The Russian economy, in contrast, is seen by most analysts as slowly but surely designing its Arctic/Asian cooperation future – including, for instance, the creation of a sophisticated trans-shipment infrastructure for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).

Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov made sure that Russia will actually increase its gas production, considering the rise of LNG deliveries and the construction of Power of Siberia-2 to China: “We will not merely scale up the pipeline capacity but we will also expand LNG production: it has mobility and excellent purchases on the global market.”

On the Northern Sea Route, the emphasis is on building a powerful, modern icebreaker fleet – including nuclear. Gadzhimagomed Guseynov, First Deputy Minister for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, is adamant: “What Russia has to do is to make the Northern Sea Route a sustainable and important transit route.”

There is a long-term plan up to 2035 to create infrastructure for safe shipping navigation, following an ‘Arctic best practices’ of learning step by step. NOVATEK, according to its deputy chairman Evgeniy Ambrosov, has been conducting no less than a revolution in terms of Arctic navigation and shipbuilding in the last few years.

Kniessel, the former Austrian minister, recalled that she always missed the larger geopolitical picture in her discussions when she was active in European politics (she now lives in Lebanon): “I wrote about the passing of the torch from Atlanticism to the Pacific. Airlines, pipelines and waterways are moving East. The Far East is actually Pacific Russia.”

Whatever Atlanticists may think of it, the last word for the moment might belong to Vitaly Markelov, from the board of directors of Gazprom: Russia is ready for winter. There will be warmth and light everywhere.”

US economic decline and global instability Part 2: Rise of BRICS

September 01, 2022

Source

by Phillyguy

Summary

The US emerged from WWII as the world’s preeminent military and economic power. All of the pillars supporting US power are now threatened by decades of neoliberal economic policies, spending vast sums of taxpayer money propping up financial markets, the military and attainment of economic/military parity by the Russia-China-Iran axis. In this essay, I link the continuing economic and social decline in the US/EU (collectively referred to as the ‘west) to an increasingly reckless US foreign policy, the role corporate media serves in promoting these policies to the American/EU public and the rise of Russia, China and other countries in the global south.

Introduction

This is a continuation or my previous article, linking US economic decline and global instability [1]. Briefly, the US emerged from WWII as the world’s leading economic and military power. Since that time, US global power has rested on: 1) unrivaled military and economic power, 2) control of world’s energy reserves (primarily in the Middle East), and 3) maintaining the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Following the conclusion of WWII in 1945, the US had the world’s largest economy and was the major ‘growth engine’ for western capitalism for the next 3 decades. In the mid-1970s, this began to change as US corporate profits began to stagnate/decline, a direct consequence of spending large amounts of taxpayer money on wars on the Korean Peninsula (1950-1953) and Vietnam (1955-1975) and increased competition from rebuilt economies in Europe, primarily Germany (Marshall Plan) and Asia- Japan, South Korea (Korean and Vietnam wars) and more recently China. Starting in the early 1980s, the US financial elite began pressuring policy makers to pursue neoliberal economic policies, including multiple tax cuts for the wealthy, financial deregulation, austerity, attacks on the poor and labor and outsourcing manufacturing jobs to Mexico, China and other low-wage platforms. The Soviet Union officially dissolved on Dec 26, 1991. This was viewed by the US ruling elite as the removal of the major rival to US global power and would allow unrestrained actions of the American military to invade and occupy countries which are rich in natural resources and/or occupy geo-strategic locations and expand NATO into Eastern Europe up to the Russian border. Since 1991, US/NATO have been involved in conflicts in Yugoslavia, Persian Gulf/Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine [2].

Role of Corporate Media

First Amendment of the US constitution-

‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’

It is commonly stated that the press (aka the proverbial ‘4th estate’) in the US is ‘free’ and ‘independent’ and ‘essential for the functioning of a free society’, serving as a ‘watchdog’ on government actions and policies and vital to protect the ‘liberty’ of American citizens. As is often the case, things are not always as they seem.

In a recent interview with Brian Berletic, Mark Sleboda commented that “Western media is in ‘lockstep’ with government on foreign policy to a degree that would make real dictators blush” [3]. While there is no doubt that Western (read corporate) media is indeed promoting US foreign policy, it is not the US government that formulates these polices, rather they are formulated and developed by the ruling elite, using corporate-funded foundations and ‘think tanks’, academic institutions and prominent politicians. These include the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Rand Corporation, Rockefeller Foundation, American Heritage Foundation, Atlantic Council, Brookings, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Academic institutions such as The Kennedy School (Harvard), Hoover Institution (Stanford), Walsh School of Foreign Service (Georgetown) and School of Advanced International Studies (Johns Hopkins) not only provide ‘experts’ and government officials, such as Wendy Sherman (Kennedy School) current US Deputy Secretary of State in the Biden Administration, they serve as training grounds for government officials and corporate management, some of whom are employed by above listed universities and foundations.

Once formulated, these policies are ‘sold’ to the American public by a compliant and well-disciplined media. Approximately 90% of US media is controlled by six large corporations- Comcast, Walt Disney, AT&T, Paramount Global, Sony, and Fox, with a combined market cap of circa $500 billion [4] [5]. Like other large corporations, media conglomerates have the same class interests as the financial elite, i.e., promoting policies which increase corporate power and profits and maintain US global hegemony. So called ‘public’ media, such as National Public Radio (NPR) and the BBC, in the UK, function in a similar manner. Corporate media is closely integrated with large financial interests and serves as a ‘cheerleader’ for the Pentagon and US foreign policy.

Not surprisingly, major broadcasters, the paper of record (NYT), Wall St. Journal (WSJ), Washington Post, etc. are little more than a sounding board for the US ruling elite and thus, function primarily as the ‘ministry of propaganda’ for large financial interests. Any reporter, military analyst, aka ‘TV General’, etc. who ‘steps out of line’, such as telling the truth about the military debacle facing Ukraine will either be severely reprimanded or find themselves out of a job. Some examples-

1) CBS recently ran a documentary claiming that only 30% of ‘military aid’ sent to Ukraine actually arrived. The video was removed following complaints from the Ukrainian government. [6] [7].

2) David Sanger (Harvard graduate) is chief Washington correspondent for the NYT and also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) [8], whose members include corporate executives, bankers, and other representatives of the ruling elite.

3) David Ignatius (Harvard graduate) is a foreign affairs columnist for the WaPo and has close ties to the intelligence community- CIA and Pentagon.

Sanger and Ignatius serve as pundits for US global power, promoting the use of military force to promote American interests.

When you do not toe the corporate line…………

4) Gary Webb was a journalist working for the San Jose Mercury News. In 1996, Webb published a series of articles, “Dark Alliance”, describing how Nicaraguan Contra rebels, working closely with the CIA, supplied crack cocaine to the Black community in Los Angeles and used proceeds from these sales to purchase weapons to overthrow the government of Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front. Following publication of the Dark Alliance series, corporate media became hysterical, denouncing Webb, effectively ruining his career; he committed suicide in 2004 [9]

5) Julian Assange- In 2010, Wikileaks, founded by Julian Assange, published a series of leaks obtained from Chelsea Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst, documenting US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Following publication of these leaks, the American government began a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks. In 2010, Sweden issued an arrest warrant for Assange over allegations of sexual misconduct. To avoid extradition, Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In 2019, Assange was arrested by British police at the Ecuadorian embassy and transferred to Belmarsh, a Category-A men’s prison in London. Up to this point, Julian Assange had not been formally charged. However, on May 23, 2019, the United States government charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and is currently awaiting potential extradition to the US [10].

The US has been almost continuously involved in overt and covert military conflicts since 1940 and as a result, war and associated violence has been normalized and institutionalized by corporate media to the point, where these policies are readily accepted by a relatively docile and ignorant American public. When foreign governments deemed hostile to US corporate interests limit press ‘freedom’, they are immediately labeled as repressive/terrorist regimes and potential candidates for direct attack and ‘regime’ change by the US State Department. Apparently, what is ‘good for the goose’ is ‘not good for the gander’. As pointed out above, any journalist that threatens the American empire risks losing their job, imprisonment and/or death.

Accelerating Decline of late-stage American Capitalism

Multiple factors have contributed to the decline of American economic power. These include economic policies, spending astronomical amounts of taxpayer money on the military and war, social instability and rise of China-Russia-Iran axis.

Economic policies

Since the mid-1970s, US policy makers have pursued neoliberal economic policies- financial deregulation, austerity, tax cuts for the wealthy, attacks on labor and job-outsourcing, which has resulted in the massive growth of the FIRE sector of the economy composed of finance, insurance, and real estate. These polices precipitated the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) 2007-2008, the largest financial shock since the Great Depression. Rather than resolve the severe structural problems confronting American capitalism which created this crisis, the FED used the Treasury as a de facto taxpayer-supported ‘piggy bank’ (the FED cannot print money) to prop up equity markets, bonds, over-priced real estate and [still] insolvent banks. To put this in perspective, since 2009, the FED has injected over $40 trillion into financial markets, increasing the wealth of the financial elite, the proverbial ‘1%’. Not surprisingly, over the last 5 years, US government deficits have increased circa $2 trillion annually, currently exceeding $30 trillion (Fig. 1); this figure does not include municipal, corporate or consumer debt. This begs the obvious question of how long can the FED continue this orgy or money printing and debt? Note- for comprehensive background information on the FED’s financial activities, see Wall Street on Parade [11].

Military Spending and War

Since its inception, the US has been built on theft and violence, justified by ‘Christian’ religion and ‘White man’s burden’. The first permanent British settlement in North America was established in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. A decade later, African slaves were introduced by Dutch slave traders. Over the next 250 years, the US government would continue stealing land and displace/murder circa 90% of the indigenous population. In the mid-19th century, the US had the world’s leading economy, largely built on cotton produced by Black slaves [12]. Fast forward 150 years, the US has been almost continuously at war since 1940. 911 was a godsend for the military- US taxpayers have spent circa $21 trillion ($7.2 trillion going to military contractors) on post-911 militarization [13] [14]. The military appropriation for 2023 exceeds $760 billion. Despite this taxpayer largess, the Pentagon has not ‘won’ a war since 1945, was forced out of Afghanistan after spending $2 trillion, and confronts looming strategic debacles in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine. This has vividly shown the rest of the world the limits of American military power. Unfortunately, after expending so much financial and human capital, the Pentagon appears incapable of extricating itself from these conflicts as doing so is an admission of failure and by extension military weakness. This was clearly seen following Joe Biden’s decision to remove US troops from Afghanistan in 2021 and the push-back he received from corporate media and people in Congress.

Political Chaos and Social Instability

We frequently hear that US society has progressed to the point, where the country appears to be increasingly ungovernable. Indeed, American society is plagued by economic inequality, racism and ubiquitous violence. The American working class has watched their standard of living plummet- a result of decades of neoliberal economic policies, including job outsourcing, austerity, stagnant income growth and since the Covid 19 pandemic, high inflation, reflected by increasing costs for rent, transportation, energy, groceries, medical care and other necessities. To put this in perspective, 60% of Americans do not have $500 in savings and thus are one expensive car repair, medical emergency or job loss away from financial ruin. At the same time the wealth of American billionaires has increased circa $1 trillion during the Covid19 pandemic. Not surprisingly in 2016, Donald Trump skillfully exploited the justifiable anger and frustration of working people, stating that he would ‘Make American Great Again’, blaming American economic problems on immigrants from Mexico and Latin America and China’s economic rise.

Rise of BRICS/SCO and US/NATO debacle in Ukraine

We are seeing the continued rise in the global power and influence of Russia, China and allied nations, on multiple fronts, including organizational, economic and militarily. The BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are expanding. Original BRICS members included Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Iran and Argentina have applied for admission, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Turkey and Egypt are applying for entry next year. SCO is the largest regional economic institution in the world, covering 60% of Eurasia with a population > 3.2 billion and combined GDP of member states circa 25% of global total. Trade between BRICS and SCO member states is increasingly being carried out using local currencies.

The Mir payment system operated by the Russian National Card Payment System [15] is a direct competitor to Visa and Mastercard and now accepted throughout the Russian Federation and in 13 countries including India, Turkey and South Korea and will soon be used in Iran. BRICS nations are developing a global currency for international trade that will directly compete with the dollar [16]. Russia is developing a new international trading platform for precious metals: the Moscow World Standard (MWS) [17]. The Russian Finance Ministry believes this new independent international structure will ‘normalize the functioning of the precious metals industry” and serve as an alternative to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA; https://www.lbma.org.uk), [18] which for years has been accused of systematically manipulating the price of precious metals markets to depress prices [19]. Collectively, these policies have been designed to significantly reduce the dependence of economies in Russia, China, India and other countries in the Global South on the US/EU and eliminate dependence on the US dollar and Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) system [20] for international trade. No doubt this is being done in close collaboration with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) whose goal is to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks with the aim of improving regional integration, increasing trade and stimulating economic growth [21] [22]. This trajectory has been accelerated following enactment of US/EU sanctions on Russia, Iran and China.

Over the last decade, the military power of Russia, China and Iran has greatly strengthened. The Russian military is a global leader in air-defense systems and hypersonic weapons, which are impermeable to any air-defense systems currently deployed by the US/NATO [23]. Over the last 25 years, China has modernized its military, focusing on People’s Liberation Navy and Army Air Force [24] [25]. China has developed a robust missile arsenal including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) [26]. The Pentagon now considers China a ‘formidable military force’ and a ‘major challenge’ to the US Navy in the Western Pacific. The Islamic Republic of Iran has also developed a formidable defensive military capability, which has positioned Iran as a major power broker in the region. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has concluded- ‘Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, with thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles, some capable of striking as far as Israel and southeast Europe.’ [27]. Iran has repeatedly warned the US/NATO that it can target US military bases in the region, including Al Udeid base in Qatar, the largest US base in the Middle East. We are seeing increased assertiveness from the Russia-China-Iran axis in Syria, Ukraine and Western Pacific. This was clearly articulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June, declaring an end of “the era of the unipolar world” [28]. The Pentagon is being increasingly challenged by the Russia-China-Iran axis in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Western Pacific.

Ukraine- another US/NATO debacle

For background and historical information covering Ukraine and her relationship with Russia, see [29]. Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe after Russia and occupies a strategic location in Eastern Europe, sharing a circa 2300 km (1227 mi) border with Russia [30] (Fig. 2). As of 2021, Ukraine had the second largest military (circa 200,000 military personnel), after the Russian Armed Forces, in Europe and has the dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupt countries in the world [31]. Historically, the predominantly Russian speaking population in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine has maintained close ties with Russia.

In February 2014, the US- instigated Maidan coup took place, replacing the democratically-elected President Victor Yanukovych with a Russia-phobic and far-right politician/economist/lawyer, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Not surprisingly, the Ukrainian government was soon dominated by an alliance of far-right/fascistic organizations including the Right Sector and Svoboda and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland. This was predictable, as these groups were the most virulently anti-Russian factions in Ukraine [32] and are still very active in the government and military [33] [34]. Soon after the coup took place, the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics declared their independence, initiating the war in the Donbas. Over the next 8 years, the US/NATO would train circa 100,000 Ukrainian troops and channel $ billions in military aid [35], which was used to equip Ukrainian army and fortify positions adjacent to the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics [30] (Fig. 3). This buildup was accompanied by increased shelling of residential areas in the Donbas region by the Ukrainian military [36] [37], setting up a potential invasion of this region [38]. In response to the escalating attacks by Ukrainian forces. Russia recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics as sovereign states on Feb 21, 2022, just prior to the Russian invasion on Feb 24, 2022, describing this campaign as a Special Military Operation (SMO) [39]. For an excellent overview of why Russia made the decision to invade Ukraine, see [40].

Going up against a well-trained, well equipped and an entrenched Ukrainian army, Russian forces have managed to take control of circa 20% (~47,000 square miles) of southern Ukraine and are incrementally removing Ukrainian forces from this region [38] (Fig. 3). Significantly, this territory contains prime agricultural and resource-rich land. It appears that Russia is planning on annexing littoral territory extending from the Donetsk/Luhansk region to Odesa [41]. Once this happen, any future Ukrainian state will not only be land-locked and lack direct access to the Black Sea, it will also lose valuable land as well. Military analyst Andrei Martyanov [42] has pointed out the ‘combined West doesn’t have material and technological means of fighting Russia in Eastern Europe without losing catastrophically. Western weapons turned out to be nothing more than commercial items not designed to fight the modern war, plus–no Western economy, including the United States has the capability to produce them in needed quantities anyway.’

The collective west has responded to the Russian invasion by blocking the opening of the Nord Stream 2 energy pipeline, which would directly supply Russian natural gas to Germany, imposed sanctions on Russian energy exports and disconnected Russian banks from the SWIFT system. To the dismay of the US/NATO, these actions have led to large increases in EU energy costs while strengthening the Russian economy [43]. Indeed, the paper of record (NYT) published a recent OpEd bemoaning the fact that despite western sanctions, Russia is making more money than ever on energy exports to China, India and other countries [44]. Despite nonstop condemnation from the US and EU of Russia’s SMO in Ukraine, many nations have not criticized the war [45]; only 1/3 of UN members supported a new anti-Russia resolution this August [46]. Thus, dwindling international support for Ukraine, coupled with success of the Russian SMO indicates that the country will not exist in its current form.

Concluding Remarks

The decline of late-stage American capitalism has been ongoing since the mid-1970s, but has been accelerated by the GFC, Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and Russian SMO in Ukraine. Not surprisingly, the ruling elite and their representatives in Washington have responded by shifting the costs of this decline onto the public, who have watched their living standard plummet, homelessness increase [47], imposed reactionary legislation such as the criminalization of pregnancy by the US Supreme Court, ratcheted up state violence against working people and people of color, while engaging in an astronomically expensive and reckless foreign policy. It appears the ruling elite view the Russia-China-Iran axis as an intolerable obstacle to US global power, reflected in the ongoing war in Ukraine, which is a de facto proxy war between the US and Russia. US-imposed sanctions on Russian energy have driven global energy prices higher; natural gas prices in the EU are 14-fold higher than the 10-year average. As a result, the UK/EU are at risk of not having sufficient quantities of natural gas for the winter, while EU industry will not be competitive with their rivals in Asia, who are being supplied with cheaper Russian energy. This is going to lead to increasing unemployment and social instability in the Eurozone.

The continued presence of US troops in Iraq and Syria is a desperate attempt to maintain control over Middle East energy reserves. The continued recklessness of this occupation can be seen from the constant Israeli attacks on Syrian and Iranian-allied forces by Israel/US, increasing the chances of a war with Iran, which can rapidly escalate, potentially incinerating the entire Persian Gulf region. It appears the US is abandoning the ‘one-China’ policy’ that has guided relations between the two countries for nearly 5 decades and is preparing to recognize Taiwan as an ‘independent’ state, a redline for the Peoples Republic of China. No doubt, this was one motivation for sending House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, from ‘’liberal’ San Francisco, with a net worth exceeding $100 million, to visit Taiwan. The Pentagon is actively encouraging Japan, which is little more than a US stooge/vassal and still occupied by circa 50K US troops, to join in this effort [48]. This begs the obvious question- did Japan learn anything from their defeat in WWII? As Glen Ford has pointed out, hegemons do not have ‘allies’ they only have subordinates [49].

The decline of late-stage American capitalism has progressed to the point where the very survival of the American empire is now contingent upon endless money printing to prop up financial markets and the military. This is becoming increasingly tenuous as this orgy of money printing and debt has created gigantic bubbles in every asset class- ‘everything bubble’, increasing inflation and threatening to derail the dollar’s role as world reserve currency and viability of western capitalism. Considering the weak state of US/EU economies, what economic incentives does the US have to encourage countries in the Indo-Pacific to reduce trade with China? Obviously, this is a nonstarter [50]. The ruling oligarchy are well aware of US economic decline and in desperation, are attempting to directly confront the Russia-China-Iran axis, which has attained economic and military parity (superiority?) with US/NATO. Perilous times ahead.

Notes

1. US economic decline and global instability. The Saker Jan 19, 2021; https://thesaker.is/us-economic-decline-and-global-instability/

2. American Involvement in Wars from Colonial Times to the Present- Wars From 1675 to the Present Day By Martin Kelly Nov 4, 2020; https://www.thoughtco.com/american-involvement-wars-colonial-times-present-4059761

3. Ukraine’s Growing Dependency on Terrorism w/Mark Sleboda The New Atlas Aug 25, 2022; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgiRKbTYbZQ&t=1997s

4. The Big 6 Media Companies By Adam Levy Jun 10, 2022; https://www.fool.com/investing/stock-market/market-sectors/communication/media-stocks/big-6/

5. The 6 Companies That Own (Almost) All Media; https://www.webfx.com/blog/internet/the-6-companies-that-own-almost-all-media-infographic

6. Why military aid in Ukraine may not always get to the front lines. By Adam Yamaguchi and Alex Pena CBS News Aug 7, 2022; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ukraine-military-aid-weapons-front-lines/

7. CBS censors its own report on Ukraine weapons corruption Multipolarista Aug 14, 2022; https://soundcloud.com/multipolarista/cbs-ukraine-weapons-corruption

8. Council on Foreign Relations; https://www.cfr.org/

9. How Gary Webb Linked the CIA to the Crack Epidemic — and Paid the Ultimate Price by Marco Margaritoff Feb 18, 2022; https://allthatsinteresting.com/gary-webb

10. Julian Assange, Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Assange#Seth_Rich

11. Wall Street on Parade Pam Martens and Russ Martens; https://wallstreetonparade.com/

12. Half Has Never Been Told by Edward E. Baptist 2016 (Book)

13. State of Insecurity- The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11 by Lindsay Koshgarian, Ashik Siddique and Lorah Steichen Institute for Policy Studies; Link: https://ips-dc.org/report-state-of-insecurity-cost-militarization-since-9-11/

14. Costs of war; https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/

15. The exponential rise of Russia’s Mir payment system by James King The Banker

July 20, 2021; https://www.thebanker.com/Transactions-Technology/FX-Payments/The-exponential-rise-of-Russia-s-Mir-payment-system?ct=true

16. Russia and China are brewing up a challenge to dollar dominance by creating a new reserve currency by George Glover Markets Indiser Jun 24, 2022; https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/currencies/dollar-dominance-russia-china-rouble-yuan-brics-reserve-currency-imf-2022-6

17. Precious Metals: Russia Proposes New Standard to Compete with LBMA Goldbroker Aug 17, 2022; https://goldbroker.com/news/precious-metals-russia-proposes-new-standard-to-compete-with-lbma-2826

18. London Bullion Market Association (LBMA); https://www.lbma.org.uk

19. Rigged Gold Price Distorts Perception of Economic Reality by Paul Craig Roberts and Dave Kranzler Sept 22, 2014; https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/09/22/rigged-gold-price-distorts-perception-economic-reality-paul-craig-roberts-dave-kranzler/

20. Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) system; https://www.swift.com/

21. China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the global trade, investment and finance landscape 2018;

22. Belt and Road Initiative; https://www.beltroad-initiative.com/belt-and-road/

23. Trends in Russia’s Armed Forces- An Overview of Budgets and Capabilities by Keith Crane, Olga Oliker and Brian Nichiporuk Rand Corporation 2019; https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2573.html

24. China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service Mar 8, 2022; https://sgp.fas.org/crs/row/RL33153.pdf

25. An Interactive Look at the U.S.-China Military Scorecard Rand https://www.rand.org/paf/projects/us-china-scorecard.html

26. China is building more than 100 new missile silos in its western desert, analysts say

Image without a caption By Joby Warrick Washington Post June 30, 2021; https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/china-nuclear-missile-silos/2021/06/30/0fa8debc-d9c2-11eb-bb9e-70fda8c37057_story.html

27. Missile Defense Project, “Missiles of Iran,” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies; https://missilethreat.csis.org/country/iran

28. President Putin’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Speech, June 17, 2022. Defense Info; https://defense.info/global-dynamics/2022/06/president-putins-st-petersburg-international-economic-forum-speech-june-17-2022

29. Ray McGovern: Historical Context for Conflicts in Ukraine Consortium News Jul 10, 2022; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gLzsQA3UGY

30. Map Explainer: Key Facts About Ukraine By Bruno Venditti, Graphics/Design: Nick Routley Feb 23, 2022; https://www.visualcapitalist.com/map-explainer-ukraine/

31. Welcome to Ukraine, the most corrupt nation in Europe by Oliver Bullough The Guardian Feb 6, 2015; https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/feb/04/welcome-to-the-most-corrupt-nation-in-europe-ukraine

32. How and why the U.S. Government Perpetrated the 2014 Coup in Ukraine by Eric Zuesse Modern Diplomacy June 4, 2018; https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2018/06/04/how-and-why-the-u-s-government-perpetrated-the-2014-coup-in-ukraine/

33. Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are on the March in Ukraine- Five years after the Maidan uprising, anti-Semitism and fascist-inflected ultranationalism are rampant.

By Lev Golinkin The Nation Feb 22, 2019;

34. Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies Fair Observer Mar 11, 2022; https://www.fairobserver.com/region/europe/medea-benjamin-nicolas-js-davies-ukraine-war-russia-ukranian-neo-nazi-fascists-azov-battalion-89292/

35. Ukraine- World Socialist Website; https://www.wsws.org/en/topics/country/ukraine

36. Ukrainian Army terror bombings By Laurent Brayard Jun 6, 2022; https://mronline.org/2022/06/06/ukrainian-army-terror-bombings/

37. Donbass Update: Ukraine Continues to Shell Residential Areas Telesur Feb 24, 2022; https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Donbass-Update-Ukraine-Continues-to-Shell-Residential-Areas-20220224-0004.html

38. Important — A Message for Americans Gonzalo Lira June 18, 2022; https://www.strategic-culture.org/video/2022/06/20/2022-06-18-important-a-message-for-americans/

39. Putin Announces Start to ‘Military Operation’ Against Ukraine by Anton Troianovski and Neil MacFarquhar NYT Feb. 23, 2022; https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/world/europe/ukraine-russia-invasion.html

40. Why Russia Invaded Ukraine by Eric Zuesse The Duran Sept 1, 2022; https://theduran.com/why-russia-invaded-ukraine/

41. All the way to Odessa by Pepe Escobar The Unz Review Aug 26, 2022; https://www.unz.com/pescobar/all-the-way-to-odessa/

42. Reminiscence of the Future (Andrei Martyanov); http://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/

43. Europe’s Markets and Energy Security Disrupted by Russia Sanctions by Kenneth Rapoza Forbes Aug 23, 2022; https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2022/08/23/europes-markets-and-energy-security-disrupted-by-russia-sanctions/?sh=6d2312b45097

44. Russia Is Making Heaps of Money from Oil, but There is a Way to Stop That

July 29, 2022; https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/29/opinion/russia-oil-sanctions-biden.html

45. Why have many nations not condemned the war in Ukraine? by Bernd Debusmann News Decoder Apr 4, 2022; https://news-decoder.com/why-have-many-nations-not-condemned-the-war-in-ukraine/

46. Only one in three UN members back new anti-Russia resolution- International support for Ukraine has dropped dramatically since March RT Aug 26, 2022; https://www.rt.com/russia/561627-un-ukraine-resolution-support/

47. Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse by Brian J. O’Connor Yahoo Sun, Aug 28, 2022; https://www.yahoo.com/video/census-bureau-3-8-million-100000978.html

48. U.S. presses Japan to cancel Constitution’s peace-clause. China and Japan must thus finally agree now, to avoid a war by Eric Zuesse The Duran Aug 25, 2022; https://theduran.com/why-a-deal-is-needed-now-between-china-and-japan/

49. Glen Ford’s Ukrainian Crystal Ball Black Agenda Report Jul 27, 2022; https://www.blackagendareport.com/glen-fords-ukrainian-crystal-ball

50. A New World Order is Looming and the West Doesn’t Like it by James ONeill Aug 24, 2022; https://journal-neo.org/2022/08/24/a-new-world-order-is-looming-and-the-west-doesn-t-like-it/

3 Figures

Figure 1: Total US Public Debt

Figure 2. Map of Ukraine

Figure 3. Military situation in Ukraine Aug 31, 2022

Figure 1. Total US public debt. Note that debt in Q1 2020 was $ 23.2 trillion while in Q2 2022 was $ 30.5 trillion, an increase of $7 trillion.

FRED Graph

Source: Total Public Debt; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GFDEBTN

Figure 2. Map of Ukraine

Ukraine Map

Source: US Department of Defense

Figure 3. Military Situation in Ukraine for Aug 31, 2022. Areas in Red are controlled by the allied forces of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Militia and Russian military.

Source: Ukraine interactive map; https://liveuamap.com

Six months into Ukraine’s collapse, the world has changed forever

The inevitable transfer of power away from the west is leading to a surge in state-sponsored terrorism, but this will do little to reverse the trend

August 24 2022

By Pepe Escobar

Six months after the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO) by Russia in Ukraine, the geopolitical tectonic plates of the 21st century have been dislocated at astonishing speed and depth – with immense historical repercussions already at hand.

To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, this is the way the (new) world begins, not with a whimper but a bang.

The cold-blooded assassination of Darya Dugina – terrorism at the gates of Moscow – may have fatefully coincided with the six-month intersection point, but will do nothing to change the dynamics of the current, work-in-progress, historical shift.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) appeared to have cracked the case in a little over 24 hours, designating the perpetrator as a neo-Nazi Azov operative instrumentalized by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) – itself a mere tool of the CIA/MI6 combo that de facto rules Kiev.

The Azov operative is just a patsy. The FSB will never reveal in public the intel it has amassed on those that issued the orders, and how they will be dealt with.

One Ilya Ponomaryov, an anti-Kremlin minor character granted Ukrainian citizenship, boasted he was in contact with the outfit that prepared the hit on the Dugin family. No one took him seriously.

What is manifestly serious, however, is how oligarchy-connected organized crime factions in Russia would have a motive to eliminate Alexander Dugin, the Christian Orthodox nationalist philosopher who, according to them, may have influenced the Kremlin’s pivot to Asia (he didn’t).

These organized crime factions blamed Dugin for a concerted Kremlin offensive against the disproportional power of Jewish oligarchs in Russia. So these actors would have both the motive and the local know-how to mount such a coup.

If that’s the case, it potentially spells out a Mossad-linked operation – especially given the serious schism in Moscow’s recent relations with Tel Aviv. What’s certain is that the FSB will keep their cards very close to their chest – and retribution will be swift, precise and invisible.

The straw that broke the camel’s back

Instead of delivering a serious blow to Russia’s psyche that could impact the dynamics of its operations in Ukraine, the assassination of Darya Dugina only exposed the perpetrators as tawdry killers who have exhausted their options.

An IED cannot kill a philosopher – or his daughter. In an essential essay, Dugin himself explained how the real war – Russia against the US-led collective west – is a war of ideas. An existential war.

Dugin correctly defines the US as a “thalassocracy,” heir to “Britannia rules the waves.” Yet now the geopolitical tectonic plates are spelling out a new order: The Return of the Heartland.

Russian President Vladimir Putin himself first spelled it out at the Munich Security Conference in 2007. China’s Xi Jinping put it into action by launching the New Silk Roads in 2013. The Empire struck back with Maidan in 2014. Russia counter-attacked by coming to the aid of Syria in 2015.

The Empire doubled down on Ukraine, with NATO weaponizing it non-stop for eight years. At the end of 2021, Moscow invited Washington for a serious dialogue on “indivisibility of security” in Europe. That was dismissed with a non-response response.

Moscow took no time to assess that a dangerous US-led trifecta was instead in the works: an imminent Kiev blitzkrieg against Donbass; Ukraine flirting with acquiring nuclear weapons; and the work of US bioweapon labs. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

A consistent analysis of Putin’s public interventions these past few months reveals that the Kremlin – as well as Security Council Yoda Nikolai Patrushev – fully realize how the politico/media talking heads and shock troops of the collective west are directed by the rulers of Finance Capitalism.

As a direct consequence, they also realize how western public opinion is absolutely clueless, Plato cave-style, totally captive to the ruling financial class, who cannot tolerate any alternative narrative.

So Putin, Patrushev, and their peers will never presume that a senile teleprompter reader in the White House or a cokehead comedian in Kiev “rule” anything.

As the US rules global pop culture, it is fitting to borrow from what Walter White/Heisenberg, an average American channeling his inner bad, states in Breaking Bad: “I’m in the Empire business.” And the Empire business is to exercise raw power, maintained with ruthlessness, by all means necessary.

Russia broke that spell. But Moscow’s strategy is way more sophisticated than leveling Kiev with hypersonic weapons, something that could have been done at any moment, starting six months ago.

Instead, what Moscow is doing is talking to virtually the entire Global South, bilaterally or to groups of actors, explaining how the world-system is changing right before our eyes, with the key actors of the future configured as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), BRICS+, the Greater Eurasia Partnership.

And what we see is vast swathes of the Global South – or 85 percent of the world’s population – slowly but surely becoming ready to engage in expelling the finance capitalists from their national horizons, and ultimately taking them down: a long, tortuous battle that will imply multiple setbacks.

The facts on the ground

On the ground in soon-to-be rump Ukraine, Khinzal hypersonic weapons launched from Tu-22M3 bombers or Mig-31 interceptors  will continue to be employed.

Piles of HIMARS will continue to be captured. TOS 1A Heavy Flamethrowers will keep sending invitations to the gates of hell. Crimean Air Defense will continue to intercept all sorts of small drones with IEDs attached. Terrorism by local SBU cells will eventually be smashed.

Using essentially a phenomenal artillery barrage – cheap and mass-produced – Russia will annex Donbass, very valuable in terms of land, natural resources and industrial power. And then on to Nikolaev, Odessa, and Kharkov.

Geoeconomically, Russia can afford to sell its oil with fat discounts to any Global South customer, not to mention strategic partners China and India. Cost of extraction reaches a maximum of $15 per barrel, with a national budget based on $40-45 for a barrel of Urals, whose market value today is almost double that.

A new Russian benchmark is imminent, as well as oil in rubles following the wildly successful gas for rubles scheme.

The assassination of Darya Dugina provoked endless speculation about the Kremlin and the Ministry of Defense finally breaking their discipline. That’s not going to happen. Russian advances along the enormous 1,800-mile battle front are relentless, highly systematic, and deeply invested in a Greater Strategic Picture.

A key vector is whether Russia stands a chance of winning the information war with the west. That will never happen inside NATO’s realm – even as success after success is unfolding across the Global South.

As Glenn Diesen has masterfully demonstrated in his latest book, Russophobia, the collective west is viscerally impervious to admitting any social, cultural, historical merits by Russia.

They have already catapulted themselves into the irrationality stratosphere: the grinding down and de facto demilitarization of the imperial proxy army in Ukraine is driving the Empire’s handlers and its vassals literally nuts.

But the Global South should never lose sight of the ‘Empire business.’ That industry excels in producing chaos and plunder, always supported by extortion, bribery of local elites, and assassinations on the cheap. Every trick in the Divide and Rule book should be expected at any moment. Never underestimate a bitter, wounded, deeply humiliated, declining Empire.

Fasten your seat belts for more of this tense dynamic for the remainder of the decade.

But before that, all along the watchtower, get ready for the arrival of General Winter, whose riders are fast approaching. When the winds begin to howl, Europe will be freezing in the dead of dark nights, lit up occasionally by its finance capitalists puffing on fat cigars.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Geopolitical tectonic plates shifting, six months on

August 24, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Six months after the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO) by Russia in Ukraine, the geopolitical tectonic plates of the 21st century have been dislocated at astonishing speed and depth – with immense historical repercussions already at hand. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, this is the way the (new) world begins, not with a whimper but a bang.

The vile assassination of Darya Dugina – de facto terrorism at the gates of Moscow – may have fatefully coincided with the six-month intersection point, but that won’t change the dynamics of the current, work-in-progress historical drive.

The FSB may have cracked the case in a little over 24 hours, designating the perpetrator as a neo-Nazi Azov operative instrumentalized by the SBU, itself a mere tool of the CIA/MI6 combo de facto ruling Kiev.

The Azov operative is just a patsy. The FSB will never reveal in public the intel it has amassed on those that issued the orders – and how they will be dealt with.

One Ilya Ponomaryov, an anti-Kremlin minor character granted Ukrainian citizenship, boasted he was in contact with the outfit that prepared the hit on the Dugin family. No one took him seriously.

What’s manifestly serious is how oligarchy-connected organized crime factions in Russia would have a motive to eliminate Dugin as a Christian Orthodox nationalist philosopher who, according to them, may have influenced the Kremlin’s pivot to Asia (he didn’t).

But most of all, these organized crime factions blamed Dugin for a concerted Kremlin offensive against the disproportional power of Jewish oligarchs in Russia. So these actors would have the motive and the local base/intel to mount such a coup.

If that’s the case that spells out a Mossad operation – in many aspects a more solid proposition than CIA/MI6. What’s certain is that the FSB will keep their cards very close to their chest – and retribution will be swift, precise and invisible.

The straw that broke the camel’s back

Instead of delivering a serious blow to Russia in relation to the dynamics of the SMO, the assassination of Darya Dugina only exposed the perpetrators as tawdry operatives of a Moronic Murder Inc.

An IED cannot kill a philosopher – or his daughter. In an essential essay Dugin himself explained how the real war – Russia against the collective West led by the United States – is a war of ideas. And an existential war.

Dugin – correctly – defines the US as a “thalassocracy”, heir to “Britannia rules the waves”; yet now the geopolitical tectonic plates are spelling out a new order: The Return of the Heartland.

Putin himself first spelled it out at the Munich Security Conference in 2007. Xi Jinping started to make it happen when he launched the New Silk Roads in 2013. The Empire struck back with Maidan in 2014. Russia counter-attacked coming to the aid of Syria in 2015.

The Empire doubled down on Ukraine, with NATO weaponizing it non-stop for eight years. At the end of 2021, Moscow invited Washington for a serious dialogue on “indivisibility of security” in Europe. That was dismissed with a non-response response.

Moscow took no time to confirm a trifecta was in the works: an imminent Kiev blitzkrieg against Donbass; Ukraine flirting with acquiring nuclear weapons; and the work of US bioweapon labs. That was the straw that broke the New Silk Road camel’s back.

A consistent analysis of Putin’s public interventions these past few months reveals that the Kremlin – as well as Security Council Yoda Nikolai Patrushev – fully realize how the politico/media goons and shock troops of the collective West are dictated by the rulers of what Michael Hudson defines as the FIRE system (financialization, insurance, real estate), a de facto banking Mafia.

As a direct consequence, they also realize how collective West public opinion is absolutely clueless, Plato cave-style, of their total captivity by the FIRE rulers, who cannot possibly tolerate any alternative narrative.

So Putin, Patrushev, Medvedev will never presume that a senile teleprompter reader in the White House or a cokehead comedian in Kiev “rule” anything. The sinister Great Reset impersonator of a Bond villain, Klaus “Davos” Schwab, and his psychotic historian sidekick Yuval Harari at least spell out their “program”: global depopulation, with those that remain drugged to oblivion.

As the US rules global pop culture, it’s fitting to borrow from what Walter White/Heisenberg, an average American channeling his inner Scarface, states in Breaking Bad: “I’m in the Empire business”. And the Empire business is to exercise raw power – then maintained with ruthlessness by all means necessary.

Russia broke the spell. But Moscow’s strategy is way more sophisticated than leveling Kiev with hypersonic business cards, something that could have been done at any moment starting six months ago, in a flash.

What Moscow is doing is talking to virtually the whole Global South, bilaterally or to groups of actors, explaining how the world-system is changing right before our eyes, with the key actors of the future configured as BRI, SCO, EAEU, BRICS+, the Greater Eurasia Partnership.

And what we see is vast swathes of the Global South – or 85% of the world’s population – slowly but surely becoming ready to engage in expelling the FIRE Mafia from their national horizons, and ultimately taking them down: a long, tortuous battle that will imply multiple setbacks.

The facts on the ground

On the ground in soon-to-be rump Ukraine, Khinzal hypersonic business cards – launched from Tu-22M3 bombers or Mig-31 interceptors – will continue to be distributed.

Piles of HIMARS will continue to be captured. TOS 1A Heavy Flamethrowers will keep sending invitations to the Gates of Hell. Crimean Air Defense will continue to intercept all sorts of small drones with IEDs attached: terrorism by local SBU cells, which will be eventually smashed.

Using essentially a phenomenal artillery barrage – cheap and mass-produced – Russia will annex the full, very valuable Donbass, in terms of land, natural resources and industrial power. And then on to Nikolaev, Odessa, and Kharkov.

Geoeconomically, Russia can afford to sell its oil with fat discounts to any Global South customer, not to mention strategic partners China and India. Cost of extraction reaches a maximum of $15 per barrel, with a national budget based on $40-45 for a barrel of Urals.

A new Russian benchmark is imminent, as well as oil in rubles following the wildly successful gas for rubles.

The assassination of Darya Dugina provoked endless speculation on the Kremlin and the Ministry of Defense finally breaking their discipline. That’s not going to happen. The advances along the enormous 1,800-mile front are relentless, highly systematic and inserted in a Greater Strategic Picture.

A key vector is whether Russia stands a chance of winning the information war with the collective West. That will never happen inside NATOstan – even as success after success is ramping up across the Global South.

As Glenn Diesen has masterfully demonstrated, in detail, in his latest book, Russophobia , the collective West is viscerally, almost genetically impervious to admitting any social, cultural, historical merits by Russia.

And that will extrapolate to the irrationality stratosphere, as the grinding down and de facto demilitarization of the imperial proxy army in Ukraine is driving the Empire’s handlers and its vassals literally nuts.

The Global South though should never lose sight of the “Empire business”. The Empire of Lies excels in producing chaos and plunder, always supported by extortion, bribery of comprador elites, assassinations, and all that supervised by the humongous FIRE financial might. Every trick in the Divide and Rule book – and especially outside of the book – should be expected, at any moment. Never underestimate a bitter, wounded, deeply humiliated Declining Empire.

So fasten your seat belts: that will be the tense dynamic all the way to the 2030s. But before that, all along the watchtower, get ready for the arrival of General Winter, as his riders are fast approaching, the wind will begin to howl, and Europe will be freezing in the dead of a dark night as the FIRE Mafia puff their cigars.

Welcoming speech of the Russian Minister of Defence at the opening of 10th Moscow Conference on International Security

August 17, 2022

The opening of the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security took place at Avangard Centre for Military and Patriotic Education of Youth within the framework of ARMY 2022 IMTF. The Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, addressed the participants of the event:

Ladies and gentlemen!

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security.

This conference comes at a time of radical change in global and regional security. The unconditional dominance of the US and its allies is a thing of the past. On February 24, 2022, the start of the special military operation in Ukraine marked the end of the unipolar world.

Multipolarity has become a reality. The poles of this world are clearly defined. The main difference between them is that some respect the interests of sovereign states and take into account the cultural and historical particularities of countries and peoples, while others disregard them. There have been numerous discussions on this topic during previous sessions of the Moscow conference.

In Europe, the security situation is worse than at the peak of the Cold War. The alliance’s military activities have become as aggressive and anti-Russian as possible. Significant US forces have been redeployed to the continent, and the number of coalition troops in Eastern and Central Europe has increased manifold.

It is important to note that the deployment of additional NATO Joint Force formations on the bloc’s “eastern flank” had already started before the start of the special military operation in Ukraine.

NATO has dropped its masks. The aggressive nature of the bloc was no longer concealed by the wording of the coalition’s purely defensive orientation. Today, the alliance’s strategic planning documents enshrine claims to global dominance. Alliance’s interests include Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim.

In the West’s view, the established system of international relations should be replaced by a so-called rules-based world order. The logic here is simple and ultimatumatic. Either the alliance’s “democratic partner” candidate loses sovereignty and becomes supposedly on the “right side of history”. Or it is relegated to the category of so-called authoritarian regimes, against which all kinds of measures, up to and including coercive pressure, can be used.

Given that the Conference is attended by heads of defence agencies and security experts from different regions of the world, I would like to highlight some aspects of the special military operation in Ukraine.

In Ukraine, the Russian military is being confronted by combined Western forces that run the leadership of that country in a hybrid war against Russia.

The supply of weapons and military equipment to Ukraine is being stepped up, and training of the Ukrainian army is being carried out. Huge financial resources are transferred to maintain the viability of the nationalist regime.

The actions of Ukraine’s armed forces are planned and coordinated by foreign military advisers. Reconnaissance data is supplied from all available NATO sources. The use of armaments is supervised by Western specialists.

NATO’s efforts are aimed at prolonging the agony of the Kiev regime. However, we know for a fact that no one in NATO has any doubt that the goals of the Russian leadership’s special military operation will be achieved, and that plans to strategically and economically weaken Russia are failing. The dollar has not reached the ceiling of 200 roubles, as predicted by the US president, the Russian economy has stood firm.

The special military operation has dispelled the myth of “super-weapons” supplied to Ukraine by the West, which are capable of fundamentally changing the situation on the front. Initially, they were talking about deliveries of Javelin anti-tank systems, some kind of “unique” drones. Lately, the Westerners have been promoting the role of super-weapons with HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems and long-range howitzers. However, these weapons also grind to a halt in battle. They did not make a significant impact. The Russian weapons, for their part, have proved their best qualities in combat.

We are taking a close look at trophy weapons from the West. The features and their specific qualities are taken into account in order to improve the way combat operations are conducted and the effectiveness of Russian armaments.

The supply of NATO weapons to Kiev means that Western countries are responsible for their inhumane use and for the deaths of civilians in Donbass and in the liberated territories. Ukrainian armed forces operations are planned in Washington and London. Not only are the coordinates of the targets to be attacked provided by Western intelligence, but the input of this data into weapons systems is conducted under the full control of Western specialists.

Kiev’s role in the West’s combat approach has been reduced to supplying manpower, which is seen as expendable. This explains the huge loss of personnel in Ukraine’s armed forces and territorial defence formations.

So far, the real figures of dead soldiers and mobilised so-called territorial defence forces have been concealed by the Kiev leadership.

In time, however, this information will become public. The testimonies of POWs of AFU allow us to form a realistic picture of what is happening on the other side of the front. The dismissive attitude towards the loss of foreign soldiers reinforces the thesis that NATO has purely selfish interests in Ukraine. Clearly, Britain’s colonial experience as the main sponsor of the Kiev regime has come in very handy for London in dealing with the current leadership in Kiev.

Against this background, speculation is spreading in the media about the alleged use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in the special military operation or the readiness to use chemical weapons. All of these information gibberish are lies.

From a military point of view, there is no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to achieve its goals. The main purpose of Russian nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack. Its use is limited to extraordinary circumstances as defined in the Russian guideline documents, which are open to public inspection.

The allegations about the possible use of chemical weapons in Ukraine are also absurd. Let me remind you that, unlike the US, such weapons were completely destroyed in our country back in 2017 as part of our international obligations. Meanwhile, poisoning provocations have become the hallmark of Western-sponsored so-called civil society organisations such as the White Helmets in Syria.

The information provocations are aimed at distracting attention from the facts discovered in Ukraine that US experts have conducted banned military and biological research.

Currently, a significant amount of data has been accumulated and is regularly made available to the general public. Work will continue in this direction.

US military-biological activities in Ukraine are not exceptional. Pentagon-controlled laboratories have been established and operate in many post-Soviet, Asian, African and Latin American countries. Local authorities generally have no control over research carried out on their premises that poses a lethal threat to the local population. The consequences of epidemics, I believe, were felt by all during the period of the fight against the spread of coronavirus.

I would like to focus separately on the humanitarian aspects of the special military operation. Compliance with the Geneva Conventions on the rules of war has always been and remains the focus of commanders at all levels. Since the beginning of the operation, orders have been issued stipulating the procedures to be followed by soldiers in dealing with civilians and enemy prisoners of war.

In the territories liberated from nationalists, the troops are actively involved in the delivery of humanitarian aid, the restoration of infrastructure and the maintenance of law and order. This was the case in Syria, in Nagorno-Karabakh, and it is also the case in Donbass.

On humanitarian issues, there has been fruitful cooperation with the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. We are grateful for the constructive, depoliticised cooperation of the leaders and staff of these organisations who interact with us. In particular, under the auspices of the UN and with Turkey’s active role, the difficult problem of grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports was resolved. The Red Cross specialists carry out an important mediation mission in relation to captured soldiers.

NATO has recently initiated a new phase of alliance enlargement, with Sweden and Finland joining the military bloc. The claim that the reason for this was the Russian special operation is untrue.

The practical rapprochement between these countries and the alliance has been ongoing for many years. In fact, the regional association NORDEFCO (Committee for Nordic Defence Cooperation) is a northern affiliate of NATO and serves as a cover for these countries’ participation in joint military training activities.

Of course, the official involvement of Helsinki and Stockholm in NATO’s strategic planning and the possible allocation of territory to these states for deployment of strike weapons will change the security environment in the Baltic region and the Arctic and will require a reconsideration of approaches to defence of Russian territory.

Certain conclusions have already been reached and are enshrined in the updated Maritime Doctrine approved by the President of the Russian Federation on July 31. Work will continue in this area.

The reinforcement of the NATO military grouping on the “eastern flank” completes the degradation of the trust and arms control mechanisms that emerged in Europe during the Cold War. A few years ago, experts proposed that the European experience should be used to build confidence-building measures, in particular in the Pacific Rim. Now, of all the “baggage” of the Euro-dialogue, only the idea of bloc confrontation is exported to Asia, which has not brought anything positive to security in Europe.

Today, no one remembers the US destruction of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Limitation Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty. Although previously these agreements were crucial for disarmament and confidence-building.

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was conceived as a platform for dialogue and consideration of different views, has become a generator of anti-Russian narratives.

Vienna Document 2011 remains formally in force, but there are no prospects for practical implementation. In the absence of trust between the parties, the verification mechanism effectively becomes a source of intelligence, which is not in the spirit of this agreement.

The situation with regard to the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty is also complicated. The agreement remains in force until 2026. On the Russian side the commitments are fulfilled, the declared levels of carriers and warheads are maintained within the established limits.

U.S. claims that Russia must earn the right to continue dialogue with the U.S. do not resist criticism. Arms control is a two-way street.

The result is only achievable if the interests and commitment of all participants are balanced. I believe that the Russian experience of interaction with the West in the field of disarmament shows that the so-called rules-based peace it promotes does not involve the implementation of treaty obligations in the traditional sense. This fact needs to be taken into account when entering into agreements, especially in the field of security and arms control.

Western opposition to the consolidation of a multipolar world, along with Europe, is most active in the Asia-Pacific region, where the US has begun to dismantle the existing ASEAN-based system of regional cooperation. This started with the announcement of the AUKUS initiative by the US, Australia and the UK. Plans to expand this partnership to include new regional partners have not been concealed. AUKUS is merging with NATO, which in turn claimed a dominant role in the Asia-Pacific region at the June summit. This is despite the fact that all NATO countries are thousands of miles away from the region.

On 2 August, the Russian Federation marked the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s entry into the war with Japan, the occasion for which was Tokyo’s militarist policy. The defeat of Japanese forces in the Far East effectively sealed the end of World War II and provided the start for the liberation of the peoples of Asia from colonial oppression. The assistance of the USSR was of key importance. We remember and are proud of the legacy of our ancestors, including those who laid the foundation for military cooperation between Russia and the countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

Another dangerous regional trend is the AUKUS focus on developing a nuclear submarine fleet in Australia. The implementation of this plan would have a complex negative impact on global and regional security, creating the conditions for undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The US claims that nuclear-powered submarines are needed in Australia ostensibly to offset China’s growing naval capabilities. This logic in fact replicates the actions of the US in justifying its exit from the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missile Treaty. The collapse of this agreement was also motivated by the need to offset Russian and Chinese efforts to develop missiles with a range allegedly prohibited by the treaty.

In the global context, the appearance of a nuclear-powered fleet in Australia will provide an excuse for other states to begin developing similar armaments. Pandora’s box will be opened, the global nuclear arms race will resume.

AUKUS has the potential to develop into a politico-military alliance. It cannot be excluded that NATO’s experience with joint nuclear planning and joint “allied” nuclear exercises will also be transferred to the region. The technical basis for this is already being laid by the active promotion of US-made aircraft. The participation of nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states in joint exercises on the use of nuclear weapons is contrary to obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Transferring nuclear training from Europe will blow up the region.

Although it can be assumed that this is precisely the purpose of the US. The provocative landing in Taiwan of a third person of the US bureaucratic hierarchy is another move to destabilise the situation.

Block-less, equal interaction in the region is an achievement that should not be lost due to externally imposed phobias and attempts to counter a multipolar world.

Mechanisms for interaction and dialogue with extra-regional partners are created and are proving their relevance and effectiveness. First and foremost is the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ and Partners’ Meeting, the so-called “ADMM-Plus” format. Its diverse activities focus on security issues of relevance to the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, there is positive experience of cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, of implementing mutually beneficial projects on a bilateral basis.

As before, we are ready to share our experience of combat training, in particular during the Vostok-2022 strategic exercise to be held in the near future.

Despite significant successes in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, the threat of international terrorist groups taking over the initiative remains. The Syrian military, in cooperation with allies and partners and with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces, continues to suppress spikes in terrorist activity. We see a particular danger in using the Kurdish factor to unsettle the situation in Syria.

The engagement of the guarantor countries in the Astana format remains virtually the only legal and effective mechanism to address security concerns in Syria. We welcome the increased engagement between the Syrian leadership and the Arab world. Overcoming contradictions created by outside forces is possible and necessary.

The role of the military in building trust between countries is an important element in the search for political solutions. We expect that the Moscow conference will be one of the rallying points for the stabilisation of the situation in the Near East.

After the rapid withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, the situation in the Central Asian region remains extremely tense. Afghanistan’s new leadership faces serious military and economic challenges. The legacy of two decades of alliance troop presence is a disappointing one. As a result, there remains a high level of terrorist danger in the region.

The security problems of Central Asia can only be solved by coordinated action by all the countries and international organisations concerned. For our part, we will continue to support our Collective Security Treaty Organisation allies in enhancing the capabilities of national armed forces.

It is important to keep the topic of Afghanistan on the agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation discussions. Russia, China, India, Iran and Pakistan together could make a significant contribution not only to stabilising the region, but also to preventing the threat from spreading beyond its borders.

The security of each region, despite the general trends of a multipolar world, has its own peculiarities.

For Africa, the specificity lies in the desire of the countries of the collective West to return to the order and rules of engagement typical of the colonial period. Neo-colonialism is imposed through military pressure on governments of sovereign countries and support for separatist and terrorist movements. A case in point is Libya, where statehood has still not been restored after the NATO invasion. Another example is the situation in West Africa, where European troops have been deployed on the pretext of combating terrorism. For decades, these EU missions had been fighting terrorists, training national security forces, until they recognised the utter failure of their own efforts.

I would like to point out that African governments and leaders are holding their own, as they call it, in the context of a multipolar world, to pursue their own agenda of independence, sovereignty, economic development and defence capabilities.

The Russian Ministry of Defence is seeking to expand cooperation with African countries in the field of military and military-technical cooperation. Interest in the participation of national teams and delegations from Africa in the Army International Games and the “ARMY 2022” IMTF has increased significantly. It is very encouraging that prominent military commanders from our friendly states – Burundi, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Ethiopia and the Republic of South Africa – are present in this hall today. We appreciate your support and intend to increase cooperation on mutually beneficial projects.

Latin America today faces serious security challenges because of the American desire to maintain influence in the region under the provisions of the so-called Monroe Doctrine. Liberal values, whose adherence is seen by the US as agreeing to live in a world based on their rules, in fact mask the true objective – to build up a military presence by blocking the possibility of sovereign development of states.

U.S. policy focuses on deterring engagement by countries in the region with any other pole of power outside Washington’s control. The purpose of this policy is to involve the region in a confrontation with Russia and the PRC, to destroy traditional ties and to block new forms of cooperation in the military and military-technical spheres.

Anti-Russian information campaigns are launched in Latin America, hiding the truth about the causes and course of the special military operation in Ukraine. Analogies can be drawn to the British actions during the conflict in the Falkland Islands. What is happening in the Western media today with the coverage of the Russian special military operation was also happening when the media was chorally broadcasting only one point of view – that of London.

The question arises: are such policies in the fundamental interest of the countries of the region? The answer is clear – no. We hope that during the discussions at the conference we will hear assessments of the situation in Latin America from our partners from Venezuela and Nicaragua.

The Tenth Moscow Conference on International Security has a special importance for the Russian Ministry of Defence as organiser of the forum for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the conference is taking place during the ongoing special military operation in Ukraine. Despite attempts of the US and NATO to isolate Russia once again, your participation in the forum is a visible confirmation that these plans have collapsed. We appreciate your support.

Secondly, a multipolar world is the reality of today. The transition from dominance by a single global leader to several centres of gravity is not an easy one. However, this creates real conditions for the development of sovereign states.

Thirdly, the role of military agencies is changing in the new realities. The military not only guarantees a secure environment for economic development, but through military cooperation it builds predictability and trust between countries.

Finally, this is the tenth anniversary conference, which allows for a kind of review of what has been achieved over the years. It is important to observe how the priorities of the discussions have changed, and which conclusions and recommendations from the forum have been put into practice over the years. A short historical overview, prepared by Russian experts, can be viewed on the monitors between plenary sessions.

I wish you all good health and interesting contacts and discussions during your stay in Moscow.

Thank you for your attention.

source: https://eng.mil.ru/en/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12433677@egNews (which is blocked by western freedom loving democracies, so you need a VPN to access it!)

The Second Coming of the Heartland

August 14, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

It’s tempting to visualize the overwhelming collective West debacle as a rocket, faster than free fall, plunging into the black void maelstrom of complete socio-political breakdown.

The End of (Their) History turns out to be a fast-forward historical process bearing staggering ramifications: way more profound than mere self-appointed “elites” – via their messenger boys/girls – dictating a Dystopia engineered by austerity and financialization: what they chose to brand as a Great Reset and then, major fail intervening, The Great Narrative.

Financialization of everything means total marketization of Life itself. In his latest book, No-Cosas: Quiebras del Mundo de Hoy (in Spanish, no English translation yet), the foremost German contemporary philosopher (Byung-Chul Han, who happens to be Korean), analyzes how Information Capitalism, unlike industrial capitalism, converts also the immaterial into merchandise: “Life itself acquires the form of merchandise (…) the difference between culture and commerce disappears. Institutions of culture are presented as profitable brands.”

The most toxic consequence is that “total commercialization and mercantilization of culture had the effect of destroying the community (…) Community as merchandise is the end of community.”

China’s foreign policy under Xi Jinping proposes the idea of a community of shared future for mankind, essentially a geopolitical and geoeconomic project. Yet China still has not amassed enough soft power to translate that culturally, and seduce vast swathes of the world into it: that especially concerns the West, for which Chinese culture, history and philosophies are virtually incomprehensible.

In Inner Asia, where I am now, a revived glorious past may offer other instances of “shared community”. A glittering example is the Shaki Zinda necropolis in Samarkand.

Afrasiab – the ancient settlement, pre-Samarkand – had been destroyed by the Genghis Khan hordes in 1221. The only building that was preserved was the city’s main shrine: Shaki Zinda.

Much later, in the mid-15th century, star astronomer Ulugh Beg, himself the grandson of Turkic-Mongol “Conqueror of the World” Timur, unleashed no less than a Cultural Renaissance: he summoned architects and craftsmen from all corners of the Timurid empire and the Islamic world to work into what became a de facto creative artistic lab.

The Avenue of 44 Tombs at Shaki Zinda represents the masters of different schools harmoniously creating a unique synthesis of styles in Islamic architecture.

The most remarkable décor at Shaki Zinda are stalactites, hung in clusters in the upper parts of portal niches. An early 18th century traveler described them as “magnificent stalactites, hanging like stars above the mausoleum, make it clear about the eternity of the sky and our frailty.” Stalactites in the 15th century were called “muqarnas”: that means, figuratively, “starry sky”.

The Sheltering (Community) Sky

The Shaki Zinda complex is now at the center of a willful push by the Uzbekistan government to restore Samarkand to its former glory. The centerpiece, trans-historical concepts are “harmony” and “community” – and that reaches way beyond Islam.

As a sharp contrast, the inestimable Alastair Crooke has illustrated the death of Eurocentrism alluding to Lewis Carroll and Yeats: only through the looking glass we can see the full contours of the tawdry spectacle of narcissistic self-obsession and self-justification offered by “the worst”, still so “full of passionate intensity”, as depicted by Yeats.

And yet, unlike Yeats, the best now do not “lack all conviction”. They may be few, ostracized by cancel culture, but they do see the “rough beast, its hour come out at last, slouching towards…” Brussels (not Jerusalem) “to be born”.

This unelected gaggle of insufferable mediocrities – from von der Leyden and Borrell to that piece of Norwegian wood Stoltenberg – may dream they live in the pre-1914 era, when Europe was at the political center. Yet now not only “the center cannot hold” (Yeats) but Eurocrat-infested Europe has been definitely engulfed by the maelstrom, an irrelevant political backwater seriously flirting with reversion to 12th century status.

The physical aspects of the Fall – austerity, inflation, no hot showers, freezing to death to support neo-Nazis in Kiev – has been preceded, and no Christianized imagery need apply, by the fires of sulphur and brimstone of a Spiritual Fall. The transatlantic masters of those parrots posing as “elites” could never come up with any idea to sell to the Global South centered on harmony and much less “community”.

What they sell, via their Unanimous Narrative, actually their take on “We Are the World”, is variations of “you will own nothing and be happy”. Worse: you will have to pay for it – dearly. And you have no right to dream of any transcendence – irrespective if you’re a follower of Rumi, the Tao, shamanism or Prophet Muhammad.

The most visible shock troops of this reductionist Western neo-nihilism – obscured by the fog of “equality”, “human rights” and “democracy” – are the thugs being swiftly denazified in Ukraine, sporting their tattoos and pentagrams.

The dawn of a new Enlightenment

The Collective West Self-Justification Show staged to obliterate its ritualized suicide offers no hint of transcending sacrifice implied in a ceremonial seppuku. All they do is to wallow in the adamant refusal to admit they could be seriously mistaken.

How would anyone dare to deride the set of “values” derived from the Enlightenment? If you don’t prostrate yourself in front of this glittering cultural altar, you’re just a barbarian set to be slandered, law-fared, canceled, persecuted, sanctioned and – HIMARS to the rescue – bombed.

We still do not have a post-Tik Tok Tintoretto to depict the collective West’s multi-wallowing in Dante-esque chambers of pop Hell. What we do have, and must endure, day after day, is the kinetic battle between their “Great Narrative”, or narratives, and pure and simple reality. Their obsession with the need for virtual reality to always “win” is pathological: after all the only activity they excel in is manufacturing fake reality. Such a pity that Baudrillard and Umberto Eco are not among us anymore to unmask their tawdry shenanigans.

Does that make any difference across vast swathes of Eurasia? Of course not. We just need to keep up with the dizzying succession of bilateral meetings, deals, and progressive interaction of BRI, SCO, EAEU, BRICS+ and other multilateral organizations to get a glimpse of how the new world-system is being configured.

In Samarkand, surrounded by mesmerizing instances of Timurid art coupled with a development boom that brings to mind the East Asian miracle of the early 1990s, it’s plain to see how the heart of the Heartland is back with a vengeance – and is bound to dispatch the pleonexia-afflicted West to the swamp of Irrelevancy.

I leave you with a psychedelic sunset facing the Registan, at the razor’s edge of a new sort of Enlightenment that is leading the Heartland towards a reality-based version of Shangri-La, privileging harmony, tolerance and most of all, the sense of community.

Samarkand at the crossroads: from Timur to the BRI and SCO

August 11, 2022

From its ancient Silk Road role to China’s BRI project, Uzbekistan is set to remain an important geoeconomic hub in Central Asia

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

SAMARKAND – The ultimate Silk Road city, set at an unrivaled Eurasian trade crossroads, is the ideal spot from which to examine where the New Silk Roads adventure is heading next. For starters, the upcoming summit of heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will take place in Samarkand in mid-September.

The ancient city dazzled Alexander the Great in 329 BC and made the Tang dynasty crazy for its golden peaches. This was a cosmopolitan hub that embraced Zoroastrian fire-worship and even flirted with Nestorian Christianity, until Arab conquerors under the banner of the Prophet arrived in 712 and changed everything forever.

In the 13th century, the Mongols irrupted on the scene with the proverbial bang. But then Timur, the Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Dynasty in the late 14th century, set to embellish Samarkand into a resplendent diamond, drawing artists from across his vast empire – Persia, Syria, India – to make it “less a home than a marvelous trophy.”

And yet, ever the quintessential nomad, Timur lived in swank tents and gardens on the outskirts of his urban jewel.

The Silk Road trade frenzy died down in the 16th century after the Europeans finally “discovered” their own Maritime Silk Road.

Russia conquered Samarkand in 1868. It was, briefly, the capital of the Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan before the transfer to Tashkent and then, up to 1991, mired into invisibility. Now the city is all set to revive its ancient glory, as a key hub of the Eurasian Century.

What would Timur make of all this?

“Conqueror of the World”

Timur was born in a little village outside of Samarkand, into a clan of Turkicized Mongols, only a century after the death of Genghis Khan. Hit by arrows in his right shoulder and hip when he was only 27, he got slapped with the pejorative Persian nickname Timur-i-Leme (“Timur the Lame”), later Latinized into Tamerlane.

Just like with Genghis, you wouldn’t want to pick a fight with Timur. He single-mindedly set out to become “Conqueror of the World,” and delivered in droves.

Timur defeated the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid in Ankara (don’t mention that to Turks); destroyed the Golden Horde in the Kazakh steppes; bombed Christian armies in Smyrna (today’s Izmir) with cannonballs made of severed heads.

In Baghdad in 1401 – they still remember it, vividly, as I heard it in 2003 – his soldiers killed 90,000 residents and cemented their heads in 120 towers; he ruled over all trade routes from Delhi to Damascus; he evoked poetry by Edgar Allan Poe, drama by Christopher Marlowe, opera by Vivaldi.

The zombified, woke, collective west would deride Timur as the proverbial autocrat, or a “dictator” like Vladimir Putin. Nonsense. He was Islamicized and Turkicized – but never religiously fanatic like today’s Salafi-jihadis. He was illiterate, but spoke Persian and Turkic fluently. He always showed enormous respect for scholars. This is a nomad always on the move who supervised the creation of some of the most dazzling urban architecture in the history of the world.

Every night at 9 pm, in front of the psychedelic lighting enveloping the architectural treasure of the Registan (“sandy place”), originally a bazaar in a trade crossroads, amidst the blurred conversations of countless Samarkand families, Timur’s words still resonate: “Let he who doubts our power look upon our buildings.”

Timur died in 1405 in Otrar – today in southern Kazakhstan – when he was planning the Mother of All Campaigns: the invasion of Ming China. This is one of the greatest “what ifs” in history. Would Timur have been able to Islamicize Confucianist China? Would have he made his mark just like the Mongols who are still very much present in the Russian collective unconscious?

All these questions swirl in our mind when we are face to face with Timur’s tomb – a stunning slab of black jade in the Gur-i-Mir, actually a very modest shrine, surrounded by his spiritual adviser Mir Sayid Barakah and family members such as his grandson, star astronomer Ulug Beg.

From Timur to Putin and Xi

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are no Timur material, of course, much less current Uzbek President Shavkat Mirzoyoyev.

What’s striking now, as I’ve seen on the ground in bustling Tashkent and then on the road to Samarkand, is how Mirzoyoyev is skillfully profiting from both Russia and China via his multi-vector policy to configure Uzbekistan as a Central Asian – and Eurasian – powerhouse by the 2030s.

The government is heavily investing in a massive Center of Islamic Civilization in Tashkent, nearby the landmark Khast-Imam square, home to the deeply influential al-Bukhari Islamic Institute, and is also building a whole new business complex in the outskirts of Samarkand for the SCO summit.

The Americans have invested in a business center in Tashkent complete with a brand new slick Hilton attached; only a block away the Chinese are building their own version. The Chinese will also be involved in the construction of an essential New Silk Road transportation corridor: the $5 billion Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan Pakafuz railway, also known as Trans-Afghan Railway.

Uzbekistan has not bought into the idea – at least not yet – of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which calls for free movement of goods, people, capital and services. The country privileges its own autonomy. Russia accepts this because bilateral relations with Tashkent remain strong, and there’s no way the latter will get closer to NATO.

So from Moscow’s perspective, getting cozier with post-Islam Karimov Uzbekistan remains a must, at the same time without coercing it to join the Eurasia integration institutions. That may come in time; there’s no rush. Russia enjoys huge approval ratings in Uzbekistan – even though not as high as in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

As many as 5 million migrants from the Central Asian “stans” are working in Russia – mostly Uzbeks and Tajiks, even as they now also seek jobs in the Persian Gulf, Turkey and South Korea.

As one of its top “secured” spheres of influence, Moscow regards Central Asian states as critical partners, part of a consolidated Eurasian vision which is in total contrast with the western borderlands and the fast disintegrating Ukraine.

All roads lead to BRI

The Chinese angle, defined by its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is way more nuanced. For all of Central Asia, BRI equals infrastructure development and integration in global trade supply chains.

Uzbekistan, like its neighbors, linked its national development strategy to BRI under President Mirziyoyev: that’s inbuilt in the official “Strategy of Actions in Five Priority Directions of Development.” Uzbekistan is also an official member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

China’s relationship with Central Asia draws of course on the Soviet era, but also carefully takes into account territorial divisions and mind-boggling border issues.

The collapse of the USSR saw, for instance, a river, an irrigation ditch, a bunch of trees or even a roadside brutalist monument suddenly converted into external borders of new sovereign nations – with unpredictable results.

In the Ancient Silk Road era this made no sense. Timur conquered everything from northern India to the Black Sea. Now, it’s hard to find somebody in Tashkent to take you across the border to Turkestan via Shymkent – both now in southern Kazakhstan – and back, with minimum border hassle. Sultan Erdogan wants to bolster Turkestan’s reputation by naming it the capital of all Turkic peoples (that’s hugely debatable, but another long story).

And we’re not even talking about the hotbed of the Ferghana valley, still prone to the fanatical jihadi influence of outfits of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) kind.

All that was festering for three decades as each of these new Central Asian nations had to articulate a distinct national ideology coupled with a vision for a progressive, secular future. Under Karimov, Uzbekistan swiftly recovered Timur as its definitive national hero and heavily invested in reviving all the glory of the Timurid past. In the process, Karimov could not miss the opportunity of expertly styling himself as the modern Timur in a business suit.

Back to the geoeconomic limelight

The SCO shows how China’s approach to Central Asia is defined by two central vectors: security and the development of Xinjiang. Stronger regional states such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan deal with Beijing, as with Moscow, via their carefully calibrated multi-vector foreign policy.

Beijing’s merit has been to expertly position itself as a provider of public goods, with the SCO functioning as a top lab in terms of multilateral cooperation. This will be bolstered even more at the Samarkand summit next month.

The destiny of what is in effect Inner Eurasia – the heartland of the Heartland – is inescapable from a subtle, very complex, multilevel competition between Russia and China.

It’s crucial to remember that in his landmark 2013 speech in Nur-Sultan, then Astana, when the New Silk Roads were formally launched, Xi Jinping stressed that China stands “ready to enhance communication and coordination with Russia and all Central Asian countries to strive to build a region of harmony.”

These were not idle words. The process involves a conjunction of BRI and the SCO – which has progressively evolved into a mechanism of economic cooperation as much as security.

In the 2012 SCO summit, then Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Cheng Gouping had already been adamant: China would absolutely not allow the unrest that happened in West Asia and North Africa to happen in Central Asia.

Moscow could have said the exact same thing. The recent (failed) coup in Kazakhstan was swiftly dealt with by the six-member, Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

China is increasingly invested in using the SCO to turbo-charge a geoeconomic overdrive – even as some of its proposals, such as establishing a free trade zone and a joint SCO fund and development bank still have not materialized. That may eventually happen, as in the wake of western Russophobic sanctions hysteria the SCO – and BRI – progressively converge with the EAEU.

At every SCO summit, Beijing’s loans are gleefully accepted by Central Asian actors. Samarkand next month may herald a qualitative convergence leap: Russia and China even more involved in bringing back Inner Asia to the geoeconomic limelight.

How a missile in Kabul connects to a Speaker in Taipei

August 03 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Source

By Pepe Escobar

This is the way the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) ends, over and over again: not with a bang, but a whimper.

Two Hellfire R9-X missiles launched from a MQ9 Reaper drone on the balcony of a house in Kabul. The target was Ayman Al-Zawahiri with a $25 million bounty on his head. The once invisible leader of ‘historic’ Al-Qaeda since 2011, is finally terminated.

All of us who spent years of our lives, especially throughout the 2000s, writing about and tracking Al-Zawahiri know how US ‘intel’ played every trick in the book – and outside the book – to find him. Well, he never exposed himself on the balcony of a house, much less in Kabul.

Another disposable asset

Why now? Simple. Not useful anymore – and way past his expiration date. His fate was sealed as a tawdry foreign policy ‘victory’ – the remixed Obama ‘Osama bin Laden moment’ that won’t even register across most of the Global South. After all, a perception reigns that George W. Bush’s GWOT has long metastasized into the “rules-based,” actually “economic sanctions-based” international order.

Cue to 48 hours later, when hundreds of thousands across the west were glued to the screen of flighradar24.com (until the website was hacked), tracking “SPAR19” – the US Air Force jet carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – as it slowly crossed Kalimantan from east to west, the Celebes Sea, went northward parallel to the eastern Philippines, and then made a sharp swing westwards towards Taiwan, in a spectacular waste of jet fuel to evade the South China Sea.

No “Pearl Harbor moment”

Now compare it with hundreds of millions of Chinese who are not on Twitter but on Weibo, and a leadership in Beijing that is impervious to western-manufactured pre-war, post-modern hysteria.

Anyone who understands Chinese culture knew there would never be a “missile on a Kabul balcony” moment over Taiwanese airspace. There would never be a replay of the perennial neocon wet dream: a “Pearl Harbor moment.” That’s simply not the Chinese way.

The day after, as the narcissist Speaker, so proud of accomplishing her stunt, was awarded the Order of Auspicious Clouds for her promotion of bilateral US-Taiwan relations, the Chinese Foreign Minister issued a sobering comment: the reunification of Taiwan with the mainland is a historical inevitability.

That’s how you focus, strategically, in the long game.

What happens next had already been telegraphed, somewhat hidden in a Global Times report. Here are the two key points:

Point 1: “China will see it as a provocative action permitted by the Biden administration rather than a personal decision made by Pelosi.”

That’s exactly what President Xi Jinping had personally told the teleprompt-reading White House tenant during a tense phone call last week. And that concerns the ultimate red line.

Xi is now reaching the exact same conclusion reached by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year: the United States is “non-agreement capable,” and there’s no point in expecting it to respect diplomacy and/or rule of law in international relations.

Point 2 concerns the consequences, reflecting a consensus among top Chinese analysts that mirrors the consensus at the Politburo: “The Russia-Ukraine crisis has just let the world see the consequence of pushing a major power into a corner… China will steadily speed up its process of reunification and declare the end of US domination of the world order.”

Chess, not checkers

The Sinophobic matrix predictably dismissed Xi’s reaction to the fact on the ground – and in the skies – in Taiwan, complete with rhetoric exposing the “provocation by American reactionaries” and the “uncivilized campaign of the imperialists.”

This may be seen as Xi playing Chairman Mao. He may have a point, but the rhetoric is pro forma. The crucial fact is that Xi was personally humiliated by Washington and so was the Communist Party of China (CPC), a major loss of face – something that in Chinese culture is unforgivable. And all that compounded with a US tactical victory.

So the response will be inevitable, and it will be classic Sun Tzu: calculated, precise, tough, long-term and strategic – not tactical. That takes time because Beijing is not ready yet in an array of mostly technological domains. Putin had to wait years for Russia to act decisively. China’s time will come.

For now, what’s clear is that as much as with Russia-US relations last February, the Rubicon has been crossed in the US-China sphere.

The price of collateral damage

The Central Bank of Afghanistan bagged a paltry $40 million in cash as ‘humanitarian aid’ soon after that missile on a balcony in Kabul.

So that was the price of the Al-Zawahiri operation, intermediated by the currently US-aligned Pakistani intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). So cheap.

The MQ-9 Reaper drone carrying the two Hellfire R9X that killed Al-Zawahiri had to fly over Pakistani airspace – taking off from a US base in the Persian Gulf, traversing the Arabian Sea, and flying over Balochistan to enter Afghanistan from the south. The Americans may have also got human intelligence as a bonus.

A 2003 deal, according to which Islamabad facilitates air corridors for US military flights, may have expired with the American withdrawal debacle last August, but could always be revived.

No one should expect a deep dive investigation on what exactly the ISI – historically very close to the Taliban – gave to Washington on a silver platter.

Dodgy dealings

Cue to an intriguing phone call last week between the all-powerful Chief of Staff of the Pakistani Army, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, and US deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Bajwa was lobbying for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release a crucial loan at the soonest, otherwise Pakistan will default on its foreign debt.

Were deposed former Prime Minister Imran Khan still in power, he would never have allowed that phone call.

The plot thickens, as Al-Zawahiri’s Kabul digs in a posh neighborhood is owned by a close advisor to Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the “terrorist” (US-defined) Haqqani network and currently Taliban Interior Minister. The Haqqani network, needless to add, was always very cozy with the ISI.

And then, three months ago, we had the head of ISI, Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum, meeting with Biden’s National Security Advisor  Jake Sullivan in Washington – allegedly to get their former, joint, covert, counter-terrorism machinery back on track.

Once again, the only question revolves around the terms of the “offer you can’t refuse” – and that may be connected to IMF relief. Under these circumstances, Al-Zawahiri was just paltry collateral damage.

Sun Tzu deploys his six blades

Following Speaker Pelosi’s caper in Taiwan, collateral damage is bound to multiply like the blades of a R9-X missile.

The first stage is the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) already having engaged in live fire drills, with massive shelling in the direction of the Taiwan Strait out of Fujian province.

The first sanctions are on too, against two Taiwanese funds. Export of sable to Taiwan is forbidden; sable is an essential commodity for the electronics industry – so that will ratchet up the pain dial in high-tech sectors of the global economy.

Chinese CATL, the world’s largest fuel cell and lithium-ion battery maker, is indefinitely postponing the building of a massive $5 billion, 10,000-employee factory that would manufacture batteries for electric vehicles across North America, supplying Tesla and Ford among others.

So the Sun Tzu maneuvering ahead will essentially concentrate on a progressive economic blockade of Taiwan, the imposition of a partial no-fly zone, severe restrictions of maritime traffic, cyber warfare, and the Big Prize: inflicting pain on the US economy.

The War on Eurasia

For Beijing, playing the long game means the acceleration of the process involving an array of nations across Eurasia and beyond, trading in commodities and manufactured products in their own currencies. They will be progressively testing a new system that will see the advent of a BRICS+/SCO/Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) basket of currencies, and in the near future, a new reserve currency.

The Speaker’s escapade was concomitant to the definitive burial of the “war on terror” cycle and its metastasis into the “war on Eurasia” era.

It may have unwittingly provided the last missing cog to turbo-charge the complex machinery of the Russia-China strategic partnership. That’s all there is to know about the ‘strategic’ capability of the US political ruling class. And this time no missile on a balcony will be able to erase the new era.

Going to Samarkand

July 31, 2022

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

The SCO and other pan-Eurasian organizations play a completely different – respectful, consensual – ball game. And that’s why they are catching the full attention of most of the Global South.

The meeting of the SCO Ministerial Council  in Tashkent this past Friday involved some very serious business. That was the key preparatory reunion previous to the SCO summit in mid-September in fabled Samarkand, where the SCO will release a much-awaited “Declaration of Samarkand”.

What happened in Tashkent was predictably unreported across the collective West and still not digested across great swathes of the East.

So once again it’s up to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to cut to the chase. The world’s foremost diplomat – amidst the tragic drama of the American-concocted Era of Non-Diplomacy, Threats and Sanctions – has singled out the two overlapping main themes propelling the SCO as one of the key organizations on the path towards Eurasia integration.

  1. Interconnectivity and “the creation of efficient transport corridors”. The War of Economic Corridors is one of the key features of the 21st
  2. Drawing “the roadmap for the gradual increase in the share of national currencies in mutual settlements.”

Yet it was in the Q@A session that Lavrov for all practical purposes detailed all the major trends in the current, incandescent state of international relations. These are the key takeaways.

How comfortable are you with the US dollar?

Africa: “We agreed that we will submit to the leaders for consideration proposals on specific actions to switch to settlements in national currencies. I think that everyone will now think about it. Africa already has a similar experience: common currencies in some sub-regional structures, which, nevertheless, by and large, are pegged to Western ones. From 2023, a continental free trade zone will start functioning on the African continent. A logical step would be to reinforce it with currency agreements.”

Belarus – and many others – eager to join the SCO: “There is a broad consensus on the Belarusian candidacy (…) I felt it today. There are a number of contenders for the status of observer, dialogue partner. Some Arab countries show such interest, as do Armenia, Azerbaijan and a number of Asian states.”

Grain diplomacy: “In regard to the issue of Russian grain, it was the American sanctions that did not allow the full implementation of the signed contracts due to the restrictions imposed: Russian ships are prohibited from entering a number of ports, there is a ban on foreign ships entering Russian ports to pick up export cargo, and insurance rates have gone up (…) Financial chains are also interrupted by illegitimate US and EU sanctions. In particular, Rosselkhozbank, through which all the main settlements for food exports pass, was one of the first to be included in the sanctions list. UN Secretary General A. Guterres has committed to removing these barriers to addressing the global food crisis. Let’s see.”

Taiwan: “We do not discuss this with our Chinese colleague. Russia’s position on having only one China remains unchanged. The United States periodically confirms the same line in words, but in practice their ‘deeds’ do not always coincide with words. We have no problem upholding the principle of Chinese sovereignty.”

Should the SCO abandon the US dollar? “Each SCO country must decide for itself how comfortable it feels to rely on the dollar, taking into account the absolute unreliability of this currency for possible abuses. The Americans have used this more than once in relation to a number of states.”

Why the SCO matters: “There are no leaders and followers in the SCO. There are no situations in the organization like in NATO, when the US and its closest allies impose one line or another on all other members of the alliance. In the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the situation that we are currently seeing in the EU does not arise: sovereign countries are literally being ‘knocked out’, demanding that they either stop buying gas or reduce its consumption in violation of national plans and interests.”

Lavrov was also keen to stress how “other structures in the Eurasian space, for example, the EAEU and BRICS, are based and operate on the same principles” of the SCO. And he referred to the crucial cooperation with the 10 member-nations of ASEAN.

Thus he set the stage for the clincher: “All these processes, in interconnection, help to form the Greater Eurasian Partnership, which President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken about. We see in them a benefit for the entire population of the Eurasian continent.”

Those Afghan and Arab lives

The real big story of the Raging Twenties  is how the special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine de facto kick-started “all these processes”, as Lavrov mentioned, simultaneously leading towards inexorable Eurasia integration.

Once again he had to recall two basic facts that continue to escape any serious analysis across the collective West:

Fact 1: “All our proposals for their removal [referring to NATO-expansion assets] on the basis of the principle of mutual respect for security interests were ignored by the US, the EU, and NATO.”

Fact 2: “When the Russian language was banned in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian government promoted neo-Nazi theories and practices, the West did not oppose, but, on the contrary, encouraged the actions of the Kyiv regime and admired Ukraine as a ‘stronghold of democracy.’ Western countries supplied the Kyiv regime with weapons and planned the construction of naval bases on Ukrainian territory. All these actions were openly aimed at containing the Russian Federation. We have been warning for 10 years that this is unacceptable.”

It’s also fitting that Lavrov would once again put Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya in context: “Let us recall the example of Afghanistan, when even wedding ceremonies were subjected to air strikes, or Iraq and Libya, where statehood was completely destroyed, and many human lives were sacrificed. When states that easily pursued such a policy are now making a fuss about Ukraine, I can conclude that the lives of Afghans and Arabs mean nothing to Western governments. It’s unfortunate. Double standards, these racist and colonial instincts must be eliminated.”

Putin, Lavrov, Patrushev, Madvedev have all been stressing lately the racist, neocolonial character of the NATOstan matrix. The SCO and other pan-Eurasian organizations play a completely different – respectful, consensual – ball game. And that’s why they are catching the full attention of most of the Global South. Next stop: Samarkand.

To Hell or Not to Hell?

July 16, 2022

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By Batiushka

The Barbarian West

By the fifth century AD the barbarians had moved into Western Europe in significant numbers, bringing about the fall of Old Rome in what is now Italy in 410. Curiously, the barbarianism they brought with them, combined with the systematic brutality of Old Rome by the most brutal of them, the Franks, survives today. Indeed, we can state quite clearly that many in Western Europe have remained barbarians, knowingly or unknowingly supporting the ‘Frankish’ warlord aristocracy/ oligarchy which administrates (but not controls –control is from elsewhere) the Western world till this day. At first the barbarians took over only Western Europe, but then they expanded to its immediate neighbours in Eastern Europe, the Near East and along the African coasts. However, from 1492 on there began the Western European occupation and exploitation of the New Worlds. Barbarianism had literally gone global.

As we have said, the Franks (literally meaning ‘freemen’, that is, not slaves) (1) led the field among the barbarians, even renaming one country, Gaul, after themselves, as ‘France’. The word ‘Frank’ was generalised after Charlemagne who in the late eighth century massacred other less violent barbarians, the Saxons. Charlemagne founded a ‘Holy Roman Empire’ (in reality an Unholy Frankish Empire), whose intellectuals had been trained by Jews in Spain. Thus, tenth-century Muslims used the word ‘Frank’ to mean an ‘aggressive Western European’, as did eleventh-century Orthodox Christians in New Rome. In 1100 Baldwin I was enthroned in Jerusalem as the ‘first King of the Franks’. In the late eleventh century, Welsh chroniclers called the invading Normans ‘Franks’, as did the Irish and the Scots in the twelfth century, as did the Spanish and Portuguese French invaders, and did Poles and Czechs German settlers. In the sixteenth century the Chinese called marauding Portuguese and Spanish ‘Fo-lang-ki’, taken from the Arabic ‘Faranga’, from the selfsame word ‘Frank’.

Soon after 1492 the second of the two Spanish Borgia/Borja Popes, Rodrigo Borgia, alias Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503), defined Non-Catholic European men as non-humans, permitting them to be robbed, enslaved and killed. In the twentieth century, this misogynistic and racist Western culture graciously extended its ‘superiority’ to Western women, then to the Jews, calling their ‘Western civilisation’ ‘Judeo-Christian’, and then extended it to all races (2), but on one condition: that these newcomers accept ‘Western values’ such as ‘democracy’ = a new word for Western supremacy, that is, Nazism. Thus, today Kiev’s barbarian troops, the New Vandals, are doing the same as Western barbarian marauders, the Old Vandals, genociding all who do not accept their Nazi ideology. Russia is fighting the West today, because the barbarians are at its gates in the Ukraine – again, just as they were eighty years ago.

In the Ukraine

In recent months, here and there in various Western European countries, I have seen two or three flags being flown together, the EU One Ring ‘to rule them all’, sometimes the local national flag, and beneath it the Ukrainian one. This represents Western supremacism, the Nazi ideology which proclaims the long-desired Westernisation of the Ukraine. It says that any who do not accept ‘Western values’ are to be destroyed or, as they say now, ’cancelled’ – with Western fake news, Western arms and Western death.

Who are today’s aristocratic warlords, today’s Franks, Lombards, Goths, Vandals and Vikings? They are Stoltenberg, Biden, Johnson, von der Leyen, Blinken, Nuland, Kagan, Scholz, Macron and all the other knowing and unknowing neocons who fly these flags together. The barbarians were there sacking civilisation in August 476 and in August 1914, they were there sacking civilisation in late 1492 and in early 2022. However, the world that started on 12 October 1492 died on 24 February 2022 and a new era has begun.

On 14 July 2022 the Serbian President Vucic said: ‘Now the whole Western world is at war with Russia through Ukrainian intermediaries and today’s armed conflict can almost be called a world war’. ‘I know what awaits us. As soon as Vladimir Putin has finished his work in Seversk, Bakhmut and Soledar and then reaches the second line in Slaviansk-Kramatorsk-Avdeevka, he will make an offer. And if they (the West) don’t accept – and they don’t intend to – we shall take the road to hell’.

After the Barbarians

So what happens if the Western world chooses not to go to hell? What happens after the barbarians, after the final demise of the myths of ‘The West and the Rest’ and ‘The West is Best’? At the moment, the alternative is an alphabet soup of BRI, BRICS, EAEU, SCO etc. BRICS itself is becoming old-fashioned, as it may well soon be joined by Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and maybe Argentina and then, who knows? Does that make BRICSITESAA? An alternative name like ‘The Anti-West’ is purely reactive, negative and refers to the 530 years before 24 February 2022. It is especially inappropriate since the EU is clearly collapsing and it is obvious that, at the very least, countries like Serbia, Hungary (whom the EU elite wishes to expel from the EU) and Germany, if it is to survive, will be joining the to-be-renamed BRICS.

Perhaps we could call the future bloc ‘The Free World’, but that also makes too close a reference to the past. We of course do not know the future name. But we could suggest some more realistic names like ‘The International Alliance’ (IA), or, ‘The Free Alliance of Sovereign Peoples’ (FASP). Such a bloc could help settle long-standing historic injustices, through the formation of new countries, new borders, new constitutions and new prosperity. The fact is that the world has not yet been decolonised. You can still see straight lines on maps, usually the work of tidy-minded colonial bureaucrats a century or so ago in London and Paris, who had little concept of history and geography, of rivers, mountains and the languages of different ethnicities, let alone of humanity, justice and prosperity.

There are still dispossessed peoples waiting to get or get back their own sovereign homelands, such as those in Scotland, Wales, Carpatho-Russia, Abkhazia, Ossetia, Kurdistan, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico. There are still peoples waiting to return to their real homelands, such as those in Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Taiwan, American Samoa, Belize, French Guiana, the Falklands. There are still artificial countries which may well disappear entirely or else be federated, such as: USA, UK, France, Spain, Belgium, Kosovo, Ukraine, Morocco, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Israel, Lebanon, Kuwait, North Korea, South Korea. Finally, there are countries with disputed borders, not least in Europe, such as Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, the Jordan, Yemen, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India. If we are to go not towards Hell, let us go to Free and Sovereign Nations, lands for native peoples, and not for colonial powers, and let there be a World Alliance of Free and Sovereign Peoples.

Notes:

1. We are reminded of the anthem of eighteenth-century British slave-traders and slave-owners that they, at least, would ‘never, never, never be slaves’. Of course they would never be slaves, they were ‘Franks’, aggressive Western Europeans.

2. Just as most in the twenty-first century had no problem with Obama (a pale brown, definitely not a black, man and the useful and self-obsessed idiot who started all the problems in the Ukraine) becoming US President, so few have a problem with the idea that a man of Indian extraction is the current frontrunner to be the next UK Prime Minister. After all, the candidacy of Rishi (called by some ‘Richy’) Sunak, until recently UK Chancellor/Minister of Finance, from an Indian/East African merchant family, worked appropriately for Goldman Sachs, married the daughter of the sixth richest billionaire in India, their combined fortune approaching $1 billion, Member of Parliament for a town called, strangely enough, ‘Richmond’, is unsurprisingly supported by the British Establishment’s ‘Financial Times’.

In Eurasia, the War of Economic Corridors is in full swing

July 15, 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

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Mega Eurasian organizations and their respective projects are now converging at record speed, with one global pole way ahead of the other.

By Pepe Escobar

The War of Economic Corridors is now proceeding full speed ahead, with the game-changing first cargo flow of goods from Russia to India via the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) already in effect.

Very few, both in the east and west, are aware of how this actually has long been in the making: the Russia-Iran-India agreement for implementing a shorter and cheaper Eurasian trade route via the Caspian Sea (compared to the Suez Canal), was first signed in 2000, in the pre-9/11 era.

The INSTC in full operational mode signals a powerful hallmark of Eurasian integration – alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and last but not least, what I described as “Pipelineistan” two decades ago.

Caspian is key

Let’s have a first look on how these vectors are interacting.

The genesis of the current acceleration lies in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital, for the 6th Caspian Summit. This event not only brought the evolving Russia-Iran strategic partnership to a deeper level, but crucially, all five Caspian Sea littoral states agreed that no NATO warships or bases will be allowed on site.

That essentially configures the Caspian as a virtual Russian lake, and in a minor sense, Iranian – without compromising the interests of the three “stans,” Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. For all practical purposes, Moscow has tightened its grip on Central Asia a notch.

As the Caspian Sea is connected to the Black Sea by canals off the Volga built by the former USSR, Moscow can always count on a reserve navy of small vessels – invariably equipped with powerful missiles – that may be transferred to the Black Sea in no time if necessary.

Stronger trade and financial links with Iran now proceed in tandem with binding the three “stans” to the Russian matrix. Gas-rich republic Turkmenistan for its part has been historically idiosyncratic – apart from committing most of its exports to China.

Under an arguably more pragmatic young new leader, President Serdar Berdimuhamedow, Ashgabat may eventually opt to become a member of the SCO and/or the EAEU.

Caspian littoral state Azerbaijan on the other hand presents a complex case: an oil and gas producer eyed by the European Union (EU) to become an alternative energy supplier to Russia – although this is not happening anytime soon.

The West Asia connection

Iran’s foreign policy under President Ebrahim Raisi is clearly on a Eurasian and Global South trajectory. Tehran will be formally incorporated into the SCO as a full member in the upcoming summit in Samarkand in September, while its formal application to join the BRICS has been filed.

Purnima Anand, head of the BRICS International Forum, has stated that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also very much keen on joining BRICS. Should that happen, by 2024 we could be on our way to a powerful West Asia, North Africa hub firmly installed inside one of the key institutions of the multipolar world.

As Putin heads to Tehran next week for trilateral Russia, Iran, Turkey talks, ostensibly about Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is bound to bring up the subject of BRICS.

Tehran is operating on two parallel vectors. In the event the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is revived – a quite dim possibility as it stands, considering the latest shenanigans in Vienna and Doha – that would represent a tactical victory. Yet moving towards Eurasia is on a whole new strategic level.

In the INSTC framework, Iran will make maximum good use of the geostrategically crucial port of Bandar Abbas – straddling the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Yet as much as it may be portrayed as a major diplomatic victory, it’s clear that Tehran will not be able to make full use of BRICS membership if western – especially US – sanctions are not totally lifted.

Pipelines and the “stans”

A compelling argument can be made that Russia and China might eventually fill the western technology void in the Iranian development process. But there’s a lot more that platforms such as the INSTC, the EAEU and even BRICS can accomplish.

Across “Pipelineistan,” the War of Economic Corridors gets even more complex. Western propaganda simply cannot admit that Azerbaijan, Algeria, Libya, Russia’s allies at OPEC, and even Kazakhstan are not exactly keen on increasing their oil production to help Europe.

Kazakhstan is a tricky case: it is the largest oil producer in Central Asia and set to be a major natural gas supplier, right after Russia and Turkmenistan. More than 250 oil and gas fields are operated in Kazakhstan by 104 companies, including western energy giants such as Chevron, Total, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

While exports of oil, natural gas and petroleum products comprise 57 percent of Kazakhstan’s exports, natural gas is responsible for 85 percent of Turkmenistan’s budget (with 80 percent of exports committed to China). Interestingly, Galkynysh is the second largest gas field on the planet.

Compared to the other “stans,” Azerbaijan is a relatively minor producer (despite oil accounting for 86 percent of its total exports) and basically a transit nation. Baku’s super-wealth aspirations center on the Southern Gas Corridor, which includes no less than three pipelines: Baku-Tblisi-Erzurum (BTE); the Turkish-driven Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP); and the Trans-Adriatic (TAP).

The problem with this acronym festival – BTE, TANAP, TAP – is that they all need massive foreign investment to increase capacity, which the EU sorely lacks because every single euro is committed by unelected Brussels Eurocrats to “support” the black hole that is Ukraine. The same financial woes apply to a possible Trans-Caspian Pipeline which would further link to both TANAP and TAP.

In the War of Economic Corridors – the “Pipelineistan” chapter – a crucial aspect is that most Kazakh oil exports to the EU go through Russia, via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). As an alternative, the Europeans are mulling on a still fuzzy Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, also known as the Middle Corridor (Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey). They actively discussed it in Brussels last month.

The bottom line is that Russia remains in full control of the Eurasia pipeline chessboard (and we’re not even talking about the Gazprom-operated pipelines Power of Siberia 1 and 2 leading to China).

Gazprom executives know all too well that a fast increase of energy exports to the EU is out of the question. They also factor the Tehran Convention – that helps prevent and control pollution and maintain the environmental integrity of the Caspian Sea, signed by all five littoral members.

Breaking BRI in Russia

China, for its part, is confident that one of its prime strategic nightmares may eventually disappear. The notorious “escape from Malacca” is bound to materialize, in cooperation with Russia, via the Northern Sea Route, which will shorten the trade and connectivity corridor from East Asia to Northern Europe from 11,200 nautical miles to only 6,500 nautical miles. Call it the polar twin of the INSTC.

This also explains why Russia has been busy building a vast array of state-of-the-art icebreakers.

So here we have an interconnection of New Silk Roads (the INSTC proceeds in parallel with BRI and the EAEU), Pipelineistan, and the Northern Sea Route on the way to turn western trade domination completely upside down.

Of course, the Chinese have had it planned for quite a while. The first White Paper on China’s Arctic policy, in January 2018, already showed how Beijing is aiming, “jointly with other states” (that means Russia), to implement sea trade routes in the Arctic within the framework of the Polar Silk Road.

And like clockwork, Putin subsequently confirmed that the Northern Sea Route should interact and complement the Chinese Maritime Silk Road.

Russia-China Economic cooperation is evolving on so many complex, convergent levels that just to keep track of it all is a dizzying experience.

A more detailed analysis will reveal some of the finer points, for instance how BRI and SCO interact, and how BRI projects will have to adapt to the heady consequences of Moscow’s Operation Z in Ukraine, with more emphasis being placed on developing Central and West Asian corridors.

It’s always crucial to consider that one of Washington’s key strategic objectives in the relentless hybrid war against Russia was always to break BRI corridors that crisscross Russian territory.

As it stands, it’s important to realize that dozens of BRI projects in industry and investment and cross-border inter-regional cooperation will end up consolidating the Russian concept of the Greater Eurasia Partnership – which essentially revolves around establishing multilateral cooperation with a vast range of nations belonging to organizations such as the EAEU, the SCO, BRICS and ASEAN.

Welcome to the new Eurasian mantra: Make Economic Corridors, Not War.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Russia and China haven’t even started to ratchet up the pain dial

July 13, 2022

by Pepe Escobar and posted with the author’s permission

The Suicide Spectacular Summer Show, currently on screen across Europe, proceeds in full regalia, much to the astonishment of virtually the whole Global South: a trashy, woke Gotterdammerung remake, with Wagnerian grandeur replaced by twerking.

Decadent Roman Emperors at least exhibited some degree of pathos. Here we’re just faced by a toxic mix of hubris, abhorrent mediocrity, delusion, crude ideological sheep-think and outright irrationality wallowing in white man’s burden racist/supremacist slush – all symptoms of a profound sickness of the soul.

To call it the Biden-Leyen-Blinken West or so would be too reductionist: after all these are puny politico/functionaries merely parroting orders. This is a historical process: physical, psychic and moral cognitive degeneration embedded in NATOstan’s manifest desperation in trying to contain Eurasia, allowing occasional tragicomic sketches such as a NATO summit proclaiming Woke War against virtually the whole non-West.

So when President Putin addresses the collective West in front of Duma leaders and heads of political parties, it does feel like a comet striking an inert planet. It’s not even a case of “lost in translation”. “They” simply aren’t equipped to get it.

The “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” part was at least formulated to be understood even by simpletons:

“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield, well, what can I say, let them try. We have heard many times that the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian – this is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people. But it looks like it’s all coming to this. But everyone should know that, by and large, we haven’t really started anything yet.”

Fact. On Operation Z, Russia is using a fraction of its military potential, resources and state of the art weapons.

Then we come to the most probable path ahead in the war theater:

“We do not refuse peace negotiations, but those who refuse should know that the longer it drags, the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us.”

As in the pain dial will be ratcheted up, slowly but surely, on all fronts.

Yet the meat of the matter had been delivered earlier in the speech: “ratcheting up the pain dial” applies in fact to dismantling the whole “rules-based international order” edifice. The geopolitical world has changed. Forever.

Here’s the arguably key passage:

“They should have understood that they have already lost from the very beginning of our special military operation, because its beginning means the beginning of a radical breakdown of the World Order in the American way. This is the beginning of the transition from liberal-globalist American egocentrism to a truly multipolar world – a world based not on selfish rules invented by someone for themselves, behind which there is nothing but the desire for hegemony, not on hypocritical double-standards, but on international law, on the true sovereignty of peoples and civilizations, on their will to live their historical destiny, their values and traditions and build cooperation on the basis of democracy, justice and equality. And we must understand that this process can no longer be stopped.”

Meet the trifecta

A case can be made that Putin and Russia’s Security Council are implementing a tactical trifecta that has reduced the collective West to an amorphous bunch of bio headless chickens.

The trifecta mixes the promise of negotiations – but only when considering Russia’s steady advances on the ground in Novorossiya; the fact that Russia’s global “isolation” has been proved in practice to be nonsense; and tweaking the most visible pain dial of them all: Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.

The main reason for the graphic, thundering failure of the G20 Foreign Ministers summit in Bali is that the G7 – or NATOstan plus American colony Japan – could not force the BRICS plus major Global South players to isolate, sanction and/or demonize Russia.

On the contrary: multiple interpolations outside of the G20 spell out even more Eurasia-wide integration. Here are a few examples.

The first transit of Russian products to India via the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) is now in effect, crisscrossing Eurasia from Mumbai to the Baltic via Iranian ports (Chabahar or Bandar Abbas), the Caspian Sea, and Southern and Central Russia. Crucially, the route is shorter and cheaper than going through the Suez Canal.

In parallel, the head of the Iranian Central Bank, Ali Salehabadi, confirmed that a memorandum of interbank cooperation was signed between Tehran and Moscow.

That means a viable alternative to SWIFT, and a direct consequence of Iran’s application to become a full BRICS member, announced at the recent summit in Beijing. The BRICS, since 2014, when the New Development Bank (NDB) was founded, have been busy building their own financial infrastructure, including the near future creation of a single reserve currency. As part of the process, the harmonization of Russian and Iranian banking systems is inevitable.

Iran is also about to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the upcoming summit in Samarkand in September.

In parallel, Russia and Kazakhstan are solidifying their strategic partnership: Kazakhstan is a key member of BRI, EAEU and SCO.

India gets even closer to Russia across the whole spectrum of trade – including energy.

And next Tuesday, Tehran will be the stage for a crucial face-to-face meeting between Putin and Erdogan.

Isolation? Really?

On the energy front, it’s only summer, but demented paranoia is already raging across multiple EU latitudes, especially Germany. Comic relief is provided by the fact that Gazprom can always point out to Berlin that eventual supplying problems on Nord Stream 1 – after the cliffhanger return of that notorious repaired turbine from Canada – can always be solved by implementing Nord Stream 2.

As the whole European Suicide Spectacular Summer Show is nothing but a tawdry self-inflicted torture ordered by His Master’s Voice, the only serious question is which pain dial level will force Berlin to actually sit down and negotiate on behalf of legitimate German industrial and social interests.

Rough and tumble will be the norm. Foreign Minister Lavrov summed it all up when commenting on the Declining Collective West Ministers striking poses like infantile brats in Bali to avoid being seen with him: that was up to “their understanding of the protocols and politeness.”

That’s diplo-talk for “bunch of jerks”. Or worse: cultural barbarians, as they were even unable to respect the hyper-polite Indonesian hosts, who abhor confrontation.

Lavrov preferred to extol the “joint strategic and constructive” Russian-Chinese work when faced with a very aggressive West. And that brings us to the prime masterpiece of shadowplay in Bali – complete with several layers of geopolitical fog.

Chinese media, always flirting with the opaque, tried to put its bravest face ever depicting the over 5-hour meeting between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Secretary Blinken as “constructive”.

What’s fascinating here is that the Chinese ended up letting something crucial out of the bag to slip into the final draft of their report – obviously approved by the powers that be.

Lu Xiang of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences went through previous readouts – especially of “Yoda” Yang Jiechi routinely turning Jake Sullivan into roasted duck – and stressed that this time Wang’s “warnings” to the Americans were “the sternest one in wording”.

That’s diplo-code for “You Better Watch Out”: Wang telling Little Blinkie, “just look at what the Russians did when they lost their patience with your antics.”

The expression ”dead end” was recurrent during the Wang-Blinken meeting. So in the end the Global Times had to tell it like it really is:  “The two sides are close to a showdown.”

“Showdown” is what End of Days fanatic and Tony Soprano wannabe Mike Pompeo is fervently preaching from his hate pulpit, while the combo behind the senile “leader of the free world” who literally reads teleprompters actively work for the crashing of the EU – in more ways than one.

The combo in power in Washington actually “supports” the unification of Britain, Poland, Ukraine and The Three Baltic Midgets as a separate alliance from NATO/EU – aiming at “strengthening the defense potential.” That’s the official position of US Ambassador to NATO Julian Smith.

So the real imperial aim is to split the already shattering EU into mini-union pieces, all of them quite fragile and evidently more “manageable”, as Brussels Eurocrats, blinded by boundless mediocrity, obviously can’t see it coming.

What the Global South is buying

Putin always makes it very clear that the decision to launch Operation Z – as a sort of pre-emptive “combined arms and police operation”, as defined by Andrei Martyanov – was carefully calculated, considering an array of material and socio-psychological vectors.

Anglo-American strategy, for its part, lasers on a single obsession: damn any possible reframing of the current “rules-based international order”. No holds are barred to ensure the perpetuity of this order. This is in fact Totalen Krieg – featuring several hybrid layers, and quite worrying, with only a few seconds to midnight.

And there’s the rub. Desolation Row is fast becoming Desperation Row, as the whole Russophobic matrix is shown to be naked, devoid of any extra ideological – and even financial – firepower to “win”, apart from shipping a collection of HIMARS to a black hole.

Geopolitically and geoeconomically, Russia and China are in the process of eating NATOstan alive – in more ways than one. Here, for instance, is a synthetic road map of how Beijing will address the next stage of high-quality development via capital-driven industrial upgrading, focused on optimization of supply chains, import substitution of hard technologies, and “invisible champions” of industry.

If the collective West is blinded by Russophobia, the governing success of the Chinese Communist Party – which in a matter of a few decades improved the lives of more people than anyone, anytime in History – drives it completely nuts.

All along the Russia-China watchtower, it’s been not such a long time coming. BRI was launched by Xi Jinping in 2013. After Maidan in 2014, Putin launched the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) in 2015. Crucially, in May 2015, a Russia-China joint statement sealed the cooperation between BRI and EAEU, with a significant role assigned to the SCO.

Closer integration advanced via the St. Petersburg forum in 2016 and the BRI forum in 2017. The overall target: to create a new order in Asia, and across Eurasia, according to international law while maintaining the individual development strategies of each concerned country and respecting their national sovereignty.

That, in essence, is what most of the Global South is buying. It’s as if there’s a cross-border instinctual understanding that Russia-China, against serious odds and facing serious challenges, proceeding by trial and error, are at the vanguard of the Shock of the New, while the collective West, naked, dazed and confused, their masses completely zombified, is sucked into the maelstrom of psychological, moral and material disintegration.

No question the pain dial will be ratcheted up, in more ways than one.

You’re either with us or you’re a “systemic challenge”

June 30, 2022

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After all we’re deep into the metaverse spectrum, where things are the opposite of what they seem.

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Fast but not furious, the Global South is revving up. The key takeaway of the BRICS+ summit in Beijing,  held in sharp contrast with the G7 in the Bavarian Alps, is that both West Asia’s Iran and South America’s Argentina officially applied for BRICS membership.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has highlighted how BRICS has “a very creative mechanism with broad aspects”. Tehran – a close partner of both Beijing and Moscow – already had “a series of consultations” about the application: the Iranians are sure that will “add value” to the expanded BRICS.

Talk about China, Russia and Iran being sooooo isolated. Well, after all we’re deep into the metaverse spectrum, where things are the opposite of what they seem.

Moscow’s obstinacy in not following Washington’s Plan A to start a pan-European war is rattling Atlanticist nerves to the core. So right after the G7 summit significantly held at a former Nazi sanatorium, enter NATO’s, in full warmongering regalia.

So welcome to an atrocity exhibition featuring total demonization of Russia, defined as the ultimate “direct threat”; the upgrading of Eastern Europe into “a fort”; a torrent of tears shed about the Russia-China strategic partnership; and as an extra bonus, the branding of China as a “systemic challenge”.

There you go: for the NATO/G7 combo, the leaders of the emerging multipolar world as well as the vast swathes of the Global South that want to join in, are a “systemic challenge”.

Turkiye under the Sultan of Swing – Global South in spirit, tightrope walker in practice – got literally everything it wanted to magnanimously allow Sweden and Finland to clear their paths on the way of being absorbed by NATO.

Bets can be made on what kind of shenanigans NATO navies will come up with in the Baltics against the Russian Baltic Fleet, to be followed by assorted business cards distributed by Mr. Khinzal, Mr. Zircon, Mr. Onyx and Mr. Kalibr, capable of course of annihilating any NATO permutation, including “decision centers”.

So it came as a sort of perverse comic relief when Roscosmos released a set of quite entertaining satellite images pinpointing the coordinates of those “decision centers”.

The “leaders” of NATO and the G7 seem to enjoy performing a brand of lousy cop/clownish cop routine. The NATO summit told coke comedian Elensky (remember, the letter “Z” is verboten) that the Russian combined arms police operation – or war – must be “resolved” militarily. So NATO will continue to help Kiev to fight till the last Ukrainian cannon fodder.

In parallel, at the G7, German Chancellor Scholz was asked to specify what “security guarantees” would be provided to what’s left of Ukraine after the war. Response from the grinning Chancellor: “Yes … I could” (specify). And then he trailed off.

Illiberal Western liberalism

Over 4 months after the start of Operation Z, zombified Western public opinion completely forgot – or willfully ignores – that Moscow spent the last stretch of 2021 demanding a serious discussion on legally binding security guarantees from Washington, with an emphasis on no more NATO eastward expansion and a return to the 1997 status quo.

Diplomacy did fail, as Washington emitted a non-response response. President Putin had stressed the follow-up would be a “military technical” response (that turned out to be Operation Z) even as the Americans warned that would trigger massive sanctions.

Contrary to Divide and Rule wishful thinking, what happened after February 24 only solidified the synergistic Russia-China strategic partnership – and their expanded circle, especially in the context of BRICS and the SCO. As Sergey Karaganov, head of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy noted earlier this year, “China is our strategic cushion (…) We know that in any difficult situation, we can lean on it for military, political and economic support.”

That was outlined in detail for all the Global South to see by the landmark February 4th joint statement for Cooperation Entering a New Era – complete with the accelerated integration of BRI and the EAEU in tandem with military intelligence harmonization under the SCO (including new full member Iran), key foundation stones of multipolarism.

Now compare it with the wet dreams of the Council on Foreign Relations or assorted ravings by armchair strategic “experts” of “the top national security think tank in the world” whose military experience is limited to negotiating a can of beer.

Makes one yearn for those serious analytic days when the late, great Andre Gunder Frank penned ” a paper on the paper tiger” , examining American power at the crossroads of paper dollar and the Pentagon.

The Brits, with better imperial education standards, at least seem to understand, halfway, how Xi Jinping “has embraced a variant of integral nationalism not unlike those that emerged in interwar Europe”, while Putin “skillfully deployed Leninist methods to resurrect an enfeebled Russia as a global power.”

Yet the notion that “ideas and projects originating in the illiberal West continue to shape global politics” is nonsense, as Xi in fact is inspired by Mao as much as Putin is inspired by several Eurasianist theoreticians. What’s relevant is that in the process of the West plunging into a geopolitical abyss, “Western liberalism has itself become illiberal.”

Much worse: it actually became totalitarian.

Holding the Global South hostage

The G7 is essentially offering to most of the Global South a toxic cocktail of massive inflation, rising prices and uncontrolled dollarized debt.

Fabio Vighi has brilliantly outlined how “the purpose of the Ukrainian emergency is to keep the money printer switched on while blaming Putin for worldwide economic downturn. The war serves the opposite aim of what we are told: not to defend Ukraine but to prolong the conflict and nourish inflation in a bid to defuse cataclysmic risk in the debt market, which would spread like wildfire across the whole financial sector.”

And if it can get worse, it will. At the Bavarian Alps, the G7 promised to find “ways to limit the price of Russian oil and gas”: if that doesn’t work according to “market methods”, then “means will be imposed by force”.

A G7 “indulgence” – neo-medievalism in action – would only be possible if a prospective buyer of Russian energy agrees to strike a deal on the price with G7 representatives.

What this means in practice is that the G7 arguably will be creating a new body to “regulate” the price of oil and gas, subordinated to Washington’s whims: for all practical purposes, a major twist of the post-1945 system.

The whole planet, especially the Global South, would be held hostage.

Meanwhile, in real life, Gazprom is on a roll, making as much money from gas exports to the EU as it did in 2021, even though it’s shipping much smaller volumes.

About the only thing this German analyst gets right is that were Gazprom forced to cut off supplies for good, that would represent “the implosion of an economic model that is over-reliant on industrial exports, and therefore on imports of cheap fossil fuels. Industry is responsible for 36% of Germany’s gas use.”

Think, for instance, BASF forced to halt production at the world’s biggest chemicals plant in Ludwigshafen. Or Shell’s CEO stressing it’s absolutely impossible to replace Russian gas supplied to the EU via pipelines with (American) LNG.

This coming implosion is exactly what Washington neocon/neoliberalcon circles want – removing a powerful (Western) economic competitor from the world trading stage. What’s truly astonishing is that Team Scholz can’t even see it coming.

Virtually no one remembers what happened a year ago when the G7 struck a pose of trying to help the Global South. That was branded as Build Back Better World (B3W). “Promising projects” were identified in Senegal and Ghana, there were “visits” to Ecuador, Panama and Colombia. The Crash Test Dummy administration was offering “the full range” of US financial tools: equity stakes, loan guarantees, political insurance, grants, technical expertise on climate, digital technology and gender equality.

The Global South was not impressed. Most of it had already joined BRI. B3W went down with a whimper.

Now the EU is promoting its new “infrastructure” project for the Global South, branded as Global Gateway, officially presented by European Commission (EC) Fuhrer Ursula von der Leyen and – surprise! – coordinated with the floundering B3W. That’s the Western “response” to BRI, demonized as – what else – “a debt trap”.

Global Gateway in theory should be spending 300 billion euros in 5 years; the EC will come up with only 18 billion from the EU budget (that is, financed by EU taxpayers), with the intention of amassing 135 billion euros in private investment. No Eurocrat has been able to explain the gap between the announced 300 billion and the wishful thinking 135 billion.

In parallel, the EC is doubling down on their floundering Green Energy agenda – blaming, what else, gas and coal. EU climate honcho Frans Timmermans has uttered an absolute pearl: “Had we had the green deal five years earlier, we would not be in this position because then we would have less dependency on fossil fuels and natural gas.”

Well, in real life the EU remains stubbornly on the road to become a fully de-industrialized wasteland by 2030. Inefficient solar or wind-based Green Energy is incapable of offering stable, reliable power. No wonder vast swathes of the EU are now Back to Coal.

The right kind of swing

It’s a tough call to establish who’s The Lousiest in the NATO/G7 cop routine. Or the most predictable. This is what I published about the NATO summit . Not now: in 2014, eight years ago. The same old demonization, over and over again.

And once again, if it can get worse, predictably it will. Think of what’s left of Ukraine – mostly eastern Galicia – being annexed to the Polish wet dream: the revamped Intermarium, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, now dubbed as a bland “Three Seas Initiative” (with the added Adriatic) and comprising 12 nation-states.

What that implies long-term is a EU breakdown from within. Opportunist Warsaw just profits financially from the Brussels system’s largesse while holding its own hegemonic designs. Most of the “Three Seas” will end up exiting the EU. Guess who will guarantee their “defense”: Washington, via NATO. What else is new? The revamped Intermarium concept goes back all the way to the late Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski.

So Poland dreams of becoming the Intermarium leader, seconded by the Three Baltic Midgets, enlarged Scandinavia, plus Bulgaria and Romania. Their aim is straight from Comedy Central: reducing Russia into “pariah state” status – and then the whole enchilada: regime change, Putin out, balkanization of the Russian Federation.

Britain, that inconsequential island, still invested in teaching Empire to the American upstarts, will love it. Germany-France-Italy much less. Lost in the wilderness Euro-analysts dream of a European Quad (Spain added), replicating the Indo-Pacific scam, but in the end it will all depend which way Berlin swings.

And then there’s that unpredictable Global South stalwart led by the Sultan of Swing: freshly rebranded Turkiye. Soft neo-Ottomanism seems to be on a roll, still expanding its tentacles from the Balkans and Libya to Syria and Central Asia. Evoking the golden age of the Sublime Porte, Istanbul is the only serious mediator between Moscow and Kiev. And it’s carefully micromanaging the evolving process of Eurasia integration.

The Americans were on the verge of regime-changing the Sultan. Now they have been forced to listen to him. Talk about a serious geopolitical lesson to the whole Global South: it don’t mean a “systemic challenge” thing if you’ve got the right kind of swing.

Putin: Address to participants of 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum

June 30, 2022

Address to participants of 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum

Vladimir Putin gave a video address to greet the participants of a plenary session of the 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum. This year’s plenary session was themed Law in a Multipolar World. The video address was recorded during the President’s recent visit to St Petersburg.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues,

I would like to welcome you to the 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum, which, as always, has brought together leading jurists and practicing lawyers from many countries.

I am glad that after a forced interruption, the forum is again being held in person because even the most advanced communication technologies cannot replace a direct dialogue and face-to-face meetings.

Participants at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum recently discussed the most relevant political, financial, technological and cultural issues on the global agenda; many of these issues directly related to international law. It is important that you continue this conversation within this forum and discuss important topics like Law in a Multipolar World.

It is true, a multipolar system of international relations is now being formed. It is an irreversible process; it is happening before our eyes and is objective in nature. The position of Russia and many other countries is that this democratic, more just world order should be built on the basis of mutual respect and trust, and, of course, on the generally accepted principles of international law and the UN Charter.

At the same time, it is being said that law cannot adequately respond to the problems and challenges of today, to today’s turbulent and fundamental changes. There are also more radical assessments that the idea of international law is being dismantled. I fundamentally disagree with these conclusions.

Undoubtedly, the system of international law needs to be further developed, but we should not confuse cause and effect. Crises happen not because law is faulty, but because of attempts to replace law with dictate, and international standards with the national jurisdiction of certain states or groups of states in a deliberate refusal to follow essential legal principles – justice, conscientiousness, equality and humanity. These are not just legal ideals, but values that reflect the diversity of our civilisation.

Some states are not ready to accept losing their supremacy on the international stage, and they are striving to preserve the unjust unipolar model. Under the guise of what they call order based on rules, and other questionable concepts, they try to control and direct global processes at their own discretion, and hold to a course of creating closed blocs and coalitions that make decisions for the benefit of one country, the United States of America. The natural rights of others in international relations are being ignored; the fundamental principle of indivisibility of security is being used selectively. The West’s unilateral, illegitimate sanctions against sovereign states have reached an unprecedented scale.

I will add that the countries that advocate their own exceptionalism also overstep the law and cross out such concepts as inviolability of property and freedom of speech in their own domestic policy as well. In sum, the domination of one country or a group of countries on the global stage is not only counter-productive, but also dangerous and inevitably creates global, systemic risk.

The multipolar world of the 21st century does not have a place for inequality or for discrimination against states and peoples. Therefore, our country speaks for the practical realisation of the pivotal international legal principle of the sovereign equality of states and the right of each state to pursue its own development model.

The Russian foreign affairs agenda has always been and remains constructive. We develop multipolar relations with all who are interested in them and place great value on cooperation within the UN, the G20, BRICS, the SCO and other associations.

Russia is open to dialogue on ensuring strategic stability, preserving agreements on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and improving the situation in arms control. We are focused on joining efforts on crucial issues like the climate agenda, fighting famine, providing stability in food and energy markets, and fair rules in international trade and competition.

All of these areas require appropriate and flexible legal regulation and meticulous cooperation. With this approach, we could avoid crises such as the current one in Donbass that is happening to protect its residents from genocide – and there can be no other definition for the Kiev regime’s actions than “a crime against humanity.”

At the same time, Russia will continue to create a more democratic and just world where the rights of all peoples are guaranteed and mankind’s cultural and civilizational diversity is preserved.

I am confident that, by consistently following international law and joining our efforts, it is possible to resolve the most difficult problems that the world is facing and to provide for the stable, sustainable and progressive development of all states. Both practicing lawyers and jurists can and should bring a significant contribution to the recreation of the authority of law, strengthening its legal institutions and rebuilding trust in international relations.

I wish all of you productive work and interesting networking.

Thank you for your attention.

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