“The End of the War in Syria Will Come as Part of the Agreement Between Iran and China,” Says Iranian Foreign Policy Analyst

By Polina Aniftou and Steven Sahiounie

Global Research, November 19, 2020

As the US changes leadership, new opportunities for re-alignment may open up for the Middle East and the wider region.  To understand more fully the implications presented in conflicts ranging from the US-Iran tension, the Syrian war, and the role of Turkey and Israel in the destabilization of the region, Steven Sahiounie of MidEastDiscourse, reached out to Polina Aniftou, analyst of the Iranian foreign policy, in a wide-ranging interview.

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Steven Sahiounie (SS):  Once President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20th, will there likely be found a solution to ease the tension between Iran and Washington, in your view?

Polina Aniftou (PA):  We have to be honest and accept that the tensions have a unilateral character from the US side, and the way the US, on behalf of Israel, try to involve Iran into a conflict, or a war, in the region, is not strategically wise. The US tried with the assassination of Major Soleimani, explosions in Tehran, sanctions, the explosion in Beirut, and the war in Armenia to involve Iran into a regional conflict that would be expanded into war and to attack Iranian militias and army forces outside Iran. The US treats Iran as they treat Egypt, Jordan, Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf, as states under colonization, and second-class citizens of the Middle East. The difference with Iran is that Iran has a long past and history of not asking for help and not accepting being treated as a weak state, and Iran has no interest to look to the West at this moment. Iran has influence in a region from Beirut to Kabul and the country is safe and secure. Economically, Iran has is self-sufficient with products and raw materials to survive with a good living standard for decades, and the US is aware of this. Given these facts, Biden will try to approach Iran for his benefit, to understand the objectives and the goals of Iran in order not to be humiliated in his foreign policy, unlike Trump. I strongly believe that Biden will start eliminating sanctions only when he realizes the weak position of Israel and Israel’s negative demographics and inefficiency which prevent it’s being a key-actor in the region. I would say that in the next 2-3 years we will see many changes and Iran will be liberated by the imposed sanctions, mainly due to the reaction of China after signing the 25-year agreement with Iran last summer, and China needs a strong Iran to secure the Silk Road from Beirut to Kashmir through its allies and Shia populations that are loyal to Imam Khamenei.

SS:  President Donald Trump broke with the nuclear deal that former President Obama had signed.  Do you see the former deal being renewed under the future Biden administration, or will Iran have some new conditions?

PA:  In a few months’ elections are coming to Iran and the new setup will be much closer to the army, Ayatollah’s opinion, and path of understanding. After the assassination of Soleimani, Ayatollah repeated a very important admonition to not trust the US, and he made relevant statements during the US elections recently. Iran has a philosophy in its foreign policy that if the enemy is threatening Iran, the enemy needs to take the steps to attack or to conquer Iran. Historically, this has never occurred, even Alexander the Great did not manage a foothold in Iran. Thus, as the US left the agreement from the Iranian side, the US dishonored themselves and cannot be trusted. The US did not pay the penalty to Iran for the unilateral withdrawal from the Nuclear Agreement. Iran has claims but will sit on the same table to listen and be present before the eyes of the international community, and not to be accused. Iran will never sit on the table if Biden is threatening, mistreating, and assaulting Iran and its political and diplomatic honesty. I doubt that the Nuclear Agreement will be fully executed or motivated by any of the parties, but Biden will eliminate sanctions, due to pressure by Russia and China, and will start monitoring the region by closely observing Israel, which has caused discrepancies and incompatibility with the US foreign policy.

SS:  In your view, if the relationship between Tehran and Washington were to be improved, could the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran be eased?

PA:  The tensions between Iran and Riyadh may have been initiated by the US, but behind this diplomatic distance there is a deep ideological and theological gap that I fear cannot be bridged. The monarchies in the region worried about their future after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The values of the Islamic Revolution are against monarchy, oppression, and promote self-sufficiency, independence, and Muslim unity (Ummah). The way the Saudis face Shiism, the solitude of Shiism, the reactions against Prophet Succession, and the leadership that Iran claims for the creation of Ummah put Saudis in a difficult position as they are afraid of the systemic existence of their monarchies.  The fact that even today it takes at least 15 years for an Iranian, after the application to be granted a visa, to visit Mecca indicates the hostility of Saudis to Iran. The violence, the lack of respect for others, and human dignity in Saudi Arabia and the laws of Saudi Arabia, affect the relations between the two countries more than any involvement of a third power. How is possible, when in Iran there are so many Sayyed, that receive legitimacy and origin from the 12 Imams, that 11 of them were killed by the forefathers of the Saudis and the Caliphs, for Iranians to feel secure with Saudis? Though for Iranians it is not important, certainly it is essential for Saudis, that they have tortured the daughter of the Prophet for the leadership of Caliphs, from where the monarchies are founded.

SS:  The US sees the Israeli occupation as their main ally in the Middle East region. In your view, could the US keep ties with the Israeli occupation while establishing a relationship with Iran?

PA:  Iran is missing from the puzzle of the US and they cannot accept that they lost Iran. When the Islamic Revolution was at the door of the Shah, the US was afraid of a communist ‘red revolution’. The Shah did not believe that the clergies would support Imam Khomeini, and only Mossad and Israel understood that the Islamic Revolution was coming. This is important because in the 60s and 70s during the Arab-Israeli war, the US prepared the Periphery Doctrine, along with the founder of Israel, David Ben-Gurion. The objectives of the Doctrine was for Israel to be supported by two non-Arab, but Muslim countries, Turkey and Iran. It was during the time of making Iran a westernized society in the scheme of Turkey succeeded by Ataturk. Ataturk demolished all the links and ties of the Ottoman Empire with Islam and its eastern lands and introduced Turkey to the west, to westernize Turkey and control it via western legislators and education. It is similar to what Reza Shah tried to do by issuing a decree known as Kashf-e hijab banning all Islamic veils in 1935, which led to the massacre at the Goharshad Mosque in Mashhad in August 1935, and the White Revolution of 1963 by his son M. Reza, and introducing land reforms, education changes, and westernizing society. The Islamic Revolution stopped the Periphery Doctrine, something that the US cannot forgive Iran for, as this forced the US to be focused on the protection of Israel in the region and to invest in infrastructure and support of Turkey to become a regional power, as a Muslim country with imperial ambitions to protect Israel under the instructions of the US. I am sure that a government led by Mr. Rouhani could skip this detail between Israel and the US, but a new government that will be supported by Quds (Jerusalem) forces, cannot forget its invisible mission to end its task by liberating Quds.  The US will keep their ties with Israel, as Israel is a small, weak country, made by the US to keep Jews away from the west and for intervening in the region, thus Iran will discuss with the US to solve sanction issues, but not for accepting Israel and its ties with the US.

SS:  Iran has supported the fight against terrorism in Syria. Do you see Iran including the end to the war in Syria as part of their negotiations which may begin with the future Biden administration?

PA:  Iran never negotiates its positions in one table. Iran puts its demands in different baskets moving according to the reactions. The war in Syria will end as soon as Biden realizes that Israel will have implications and costs through this war, and the only way for that to happen is by enhancing the power of President Assad and by keeping Lebanon stable. Hezbollah will play a dramatic role in that and would need to take the initiation to empower Mr. Assad. But, the war in Syria will need to end to avoid re-mapping the region after the bad agreement in Armenia that got Turkey and Israel into the Caucasus, threatening the stability and peace. The end of the war in Syria will come as part of the agreement between Iran and China and will be imposed on the US, by annulling the plans of Ankara and Tel Aviv, that since the 60s have worked officially together with common grounds and targets in the regional policy. Iran will demand not only the end of the war, and the disarmament of terrorists, but also the terrorists to be convicted and to eave west Asia.

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This article was originally published on Mideast Discourse.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Polina Aniftou and Steven Sahiounie, Global Research, 2020

Read More: “Israel’s Presence Near the Iranian Border Would Also Put Them in Direct Confrontation with Iran.” Dr. Javad Heirannia

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

September 23, 2020

by Pepe Escobar and with permission cross-posted with Asia Times

It took one minute for President Trump to introduce a virus at the virtual 75th UN General Assembly, blasting “the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world”.

And then it all went downhill.

Even as Trump was essentially delivering a campaign speech and could not care less about the multilateral UN, at least the picture was clear enough for all the socially distant “international community” to see.

Here is President Xi’s full statement. And here is President Putin’s full statement. And here’s the geopolitical chessboard, once again; it’s the “indispensable nation” versus the Russia-China strategic partnership.

As he stressed the importance of the UN, Xi could not be more explicit that no nation has the right to control the destiny of others: “Even less should one be allowed to do whatever it likes and be the hegemon, bully, or boss of the world .”

The US ruling class obviously won’t take this act of defiance lying down. The full spectrum of Hybrid War techniques will continue to be relentlessly turbo-charged against China, coupled with rampant Sinophobia, even as it dawns on many Dr. Strangelove quarters that the only way to really “deter” China would be Hot War.

Alas, the Pentagon is overstretched – Syria, Iran, Venezuela, South China Sea. And every analyst knows about China’s cyber warfare capabilities, integrated aerial defense systems, and carrier-killer Dongfeng missiles.

For perspective, it’s always very instructive to compare military expenditure. Last year, China spent $261 billion while the US spent $732 billion (38% of the global total).

Rhetoric, at least for the moment, prevails. The key talking point, incessantly hammered, is always about China as an existential threat to the “free world”, even as the myriad declinations of what was once Obama’s “pivot to Asia” not so subtly accrue the manufacture of consent for a future war.

This report by the Qiao Collective neatly identifies the process: “We call it Sinophobia, Inc. – an information industrial complex where Western state funding, billion dollar weapons manufacturers, and right-wing think tanks coalesce and operate in sync to flood the media with messages that China is public enemy number one. Armed with state funding and weapons industry sponsors, this handful of influential think tanks are setting the terms of the New Cold War on China. The same media ecosystem that greased the wheels of perpetual war towards disastrous intervention in the Middle East is now busy manufacturing consent for conflict with China.”

That “US military edge”

The demonization of China, infused with blatant racism and rabid anti-communism, is displayed across a full, multicolored palette: Hong Kong, Xinjiang (“concentration camps), Tibet (“forced labor”), Taiwan, “China virus”; the Belt and Road’s “debt trap”.

The trade war runs in parallel – glaring evidence of how “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is beating Western capitalism at its own high-tech game. Thus the sanctioning of over 150 companies that manufacture chips for Huawei and ZTE, or the attempt to ruin TikTok’s business in the US (“But you can’t rob it and turn it into a US baby”, as Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin tweeted).

Still, SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation), China’s top chip company, which recently profited from a $7.5 billion IPO in Shanghai, sooner or later may jump ahead of US chip manufacturers.

On the military front, “maximum pressure” on China’s eastern rim proceeds unabated – from the revival of the Quad to a scramble to boost the Indo-Pacific strategy.

Think Tankland is essential in coordinating the whole process, via for instance the Center for Strategic & International Studies, with “corporation and trade association donors” featuring usual suspects such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.

So here we have what Ray McGovern brilliantly describes as MICIMATT – the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex – as the comptrollers of Sinophobia Inc.

Assuming there would be a Dem victory in November, nothing will change. The next Pentagon head will probably be Michele Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (2009-2012) and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, which is big on both the “China challenge” and the “North Korean threat”. Flournoy is all about boosting the “U.S. military’s edge” in Asia.

So what is China doing?

China’s top foreign policy principle is to advance a “community of shared future for mankind”. That is written in the constitution, and implies that Cold War 2.0 is an imposition from foreign actors.

China’s top three priorities post-Covid-19 are to finally eradicate poverty; solidify the vast domestic market; and be back in full force to trade/investment across the Global South.

China’s “existential threat” is also symbolized by the drive to implement a non-Western trade and investment system, including everything from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund to trade bypassing the US dollar.

Harvard Kennedy School report at least tried to understand how Chinese “authoritarian resilience” appeals domestically. The report found out that the CCP actually benefitted from increased popular support from 2003 to 2016, reaching an astonishing 93%, essentially due to social welfare programs and the battle against corruption.

By contrast, when we have a MICCIMAT investing in Perpetual War – or “Long War” (Pentagon terminology since 2001) – instead of health, education and infrastructure upgrading, what’s left is a classic wag the dog. Sinophobia is perfect to blame the abysmal response to Covid-19, the extinction of small businesses and the looming New Great Depression on the Chinese “existential threat”.

The whole process has nothing to do with “moral defeat” and complaining that “we risk losing the competition and endangering the world”.

The world is not “endangered” because at least vast swathes of the Global South are fully aware that the much-ballyhooed “rules-based international order” is nothing but a quite appealing euphemism for Pax Americana – or Exceptionalism. What was designed by Washington for post-WWII, the Cold War and the “unilateral moment” does not apply anymore.

Bye, bye Mackinder

As President Putin has made it very clear over and over again, the US is no longer “agreement capable” . As for the “rules-based international order”, at best is a euphemism for privately controlled financial capitalism on a global scale.

The Russia-China strategic partnership has made it very clear, over and over again, that against NATO and Quad expansion their project hinges on Eurasia-wide trade, development and diplomatic integration.

Unlike the case from the 16th century to the last decades of the 20th century, now the initiative is not coming from the West, but from East Asia (that’s the beauty of “initiative” incorporated to the BRI acronym).

Enter continental corridors and axes of development traversing Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Indian Ocean, Southwest Asia and Russia all the way to Europe, coupled with a Maritime Silk Road across the South Asian rimland.

For the very first time in its millenary history, China is able to match ultra-dynamic political and economic expansion both overland and across the seas. This reaches way beyond the short era of the Zheng He maritime expeditions during the Ming dynasty in the early 15th century.

No wonder the West, and especially the Hegemon, simply cannot comprehend the geopolitical enormity of it all. And that’s why we have so much Sinophobia, so many Hybrid War techniques deployed to snuff out the “threat”.

Eurasia, in the recent past, was either a Western colony, or a Soviet domain. Now, it stands on the verge of finally getting rid of Mackinder, Mahan and Spykman scenarios, as the heartland and the rimland progressively and inexorably integrate, on their own terms, all the way to the middle of the 21st century.

India implodes its own New Silk Road

Source

India implodes its own New Silk Road

September 04, 2020

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

There was a time when New Delhi was proudly selling the notion of establishing its own New Silk Road – from the Gulf of Oman to the intersection of Central and South Asia – to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Now it looks like the Indians have stabbed themselves in the back.

In 2016, Tehran and New Delhi signed a deal to build a 628-km rail line from strategic Chabahar port to Zahedan, very close to the Afghan border, with a crucial extension to Zaranj, in Afghanistan, and beyond.

The negotiations involved Iranian Railways and Indian Railway Constructions Ltd. But in the end nothing happened – because of Indian foot-dragging. So Tehran has decided to build the railway anyway, with its own funds – $400 million – and completion scheduled for March 2022.

The railway was supposed to be the key transportation corridor linked to substantial Indian investments in Chabahar, its port of entry from the Gulf of Oman for an alternative New Silk Road to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Upgrading rail/road infrastructure from Afghanistan to its neighbors Tajikistan and Uzbekistan would be the next step. The whole operation was inscribed in a trilateral India-Iran-Afghanistan deal – signed in 2016 in Tehran by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The unofficial New Delhi excuse revolves around fears that the project would be slammed with US sanctions. New Delhi actually did get a Trump administration sanctions waiver for Chabahar and the rail line to Zahedan. The problem was to convince an array of investment partners, all of them terrified of being sanctioned.

In fact, the whole saga has more to do with Modi’s wishful thinking of expecting to get preferential treatment under the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which relies on a de facto Quad (US, India, Australia, Japan) containment of China. That was the rationale behind New Delhi deciding to cut off all its oil imports from Iran.

So far all practical purposes, India threw Iran under the bus. No wonder Tehran decided to move on its own, especially now with the $400 billion, 25-year “Comprehensive Plan for Cooperation between Iran and China”, a deal that seals a strategic partnership between China and Iran.

In this case, China may end up exercising control over two strategic “pearls” in the Arabian Sea/Gulf of Oman only 80 km away from each other: Gwadar, in Pakistan, a key node of the $61 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and Chabahar.

A Tale of Two Ports: Gwadar versus Chahbahar - World News Report
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Tehran, so far, has denied that Chabahar port will be offered on a lease to Beijing. But what is a real possibility, apart from Chinese investments in an oil refinery near Chabahar, and even, in the long run, in the port itself, is an operational link between Gwadar and Chabahar. That will be complemented by the Chinese operating the port of Bandar-e-Jask in the Gulf of Oman, 350 km to the west of Chabahar and very close to the hyper-strategic Strait of Hormuz.

How corridors attract

Not even a Hindu deity on hangover could possibly imagine a more counter-productive “strategy” for Indian interests in case New Delhi backs off from its cooperation with Tehran.

Let’s look at the essentials.

Chinese prisoners working on CPEC projects: Pakistani lawmaker
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What Tehran and Beijing will be working on is a de facto massive expansion of CPEC, with Gwadar linked to Chabahar and further onwards to Central Asia and the Caspian via Iranian railways, as well as connected to Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean (via Iraq and Syria), all the way to the EU.

India and China in Central Asia: Understanding the new rivalry in the heart  of Eurasia | ORF
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This game-changing progress will be at the heart of the whole Eurasian integration process – uniting China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and of course Russia, which is linked to Iran via the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

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For the moment, for all its hefty reverberations in multiple areas – upgrade of energy infrastructure, refurbishing of ports and refineries, construction of a connectivity corridor, investments in manufacturing, and a steady supply of Iranian oil and gas, a matter of national security for China – there’s no question that the Iran-China deal is being effectively downplayed by both sides.

The reasons are self-evident: not to raise the Trump administration’s ire to even more incandescent levels, considering both actors are considered “existential threats”. Still, Mahmoud Vezi, chief of staff for President Rouhani, guarantees the final Iran-China deal with be signed by March 2021.

CPEC, meanwhile, is on a roll. What Chabahar was supposed to do for India is already in effect at Gwadar – as transit trade to Afghanistan started only a few days ago, with bulk cargo arriving from the UAE. Gwadar is already establishing itself as a key transit hub to Afghanistan – way ahead of Chabahar.

For Kabul, the strategic factor is essential. Afghanistan essentially depends on overland routes from Pakistan – some can be extremely unreliable – as well as Karachi and Port Qasim. Especially for southern Afghanistan, the overland link from Gwadar, through Balochistan, is much shorter and safer.

For Beijing, the strategic factor is even more essential. For China, Chabahar would not be a priority, because access to Afghanistan is easier, for instance, via Tajikistan.

But Gwadar is a completely different story. It’s being configured, slowly but surely, as the key Maritime Silk Road hub connecting China with the Arabian Sea, the Middle East and Africa, with Islamabad collecting hefty transit funds. Win-win in a nutshell – but always taking into consideration that protests and challenges from Balochistan simply won’t disappear, and require very careful management by Beijing-Islamabad.

Chabahar-Zahedan was not the only recent setback for India. India’s External Affairs Ministry has recently admitted that Iran will develop the massive Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf “on its own” and India might join “appropriately at a later stage”. The same “at a later stage” spin was applied by New Delhi for Chabahar-Zahedan.

The exploration and production rights for Farzad B were already granted years ago for India’s state company ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL). But then, again, nothing happened – due to the proverbial specter of sanctions.

Sanctions, by the way, had been in effect already under Obama. Yet at the time, India and Iran at least traded goods for oil. Farzad B was scheduled to be back on track after the signing of the JCPOA in 2015. But then Trump’s sanctions iced it again.

It doesn’t take a PhD in political science to ascertain who may eventually take over Farzad B: China, especially after the signing of the 25-year partnership next year.

India, against its own energy and geostrategic interests, has in fact been reduced to the status of hostage of the Trump administration. The real target of applying Divide and Rule to India-Iran is to prevent them from trading in their own currencies, bypassing the US dollar, especially when it comes to energy.

The Big Picture though is always about New Silk Road progress across Eurasia. With increasing evidence of closer and closer integration between China, Iran and Pakistan, what’s clear is that India remains integrated only with its own inconsistencies.

Iran’s Future Will Be Prosperous: A 150-Year Fight for Sovereignty From Oil to Nuclear Energy

Iran's Future Will Be Prosperous: A 150-Year Fight for Sovereignty ...

Cynthia Chung July 28, 2020

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is chung_1-175x230.jpg

This is Part 3 of the series “Follow the Trail of Blood and Oil”.

 Part 1 is a historical overview of Iran’s long struggle with Britain’s control over Iranian oil and the SIS-CIA overthrow of Iran’s Nationalist leader Mosaddegh in 1953. 

Part 2 covers the period of the Shah’s battle with the Seven Sisters, the 1979 Revolution and the Carter Administration’s reaction, which was to have immense economic consequences internationally, as a response to the hostage crisis.

In this article it will be discussed why, contrary to what we are being told, Iran’s fight for the right to develop nuclear energy will create stability and prosperity in the Middle East rather than an “arc of crisis” scenario.

From Arc of Crisis to Corridors of Development

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani became President of Iran on August 16th 1989 and served two terms (1989-1997). Rafsanjani, who is considered one of the Founding Fathers of the Islamic Republic, began the effort to rebuild the country’s basic infrastructure, after the ravages of the Iran-Iraq War and launched a series of infrastructure projects not only domestically but in cooperation with neighbouring countries. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Rafsanjani moved to establish diplomatic relations with the newly independent Central Asian Republics, forging economic cooperation agreements based on building transportation infrastructure.

The major breakthrough in establishing this network came in May 1996 (after a 4 year construction) with the opening of the Mashhad-Sarakhs-Tajan railway, which provided the missing link in a network connecting landlocked Central Asian Republics to world markets, through Iran’s Persian Gulf ports.

At the historical launching of the railway, Rafsanjani was quoted as saying the expansion of communications, roads and railway networks, and hence access to world markets can “enhance amity, confidence and trust among governments and lead to mutual understanding and greater solidarity…The recent global developments demonstrate the world is moving toward greater regional cooperation, and regionally coordinated economic growth and development will consolidate peace and stability and pave the way for enhancement of international relations.

In addition, at the end of Dec 1997, a 125 mile pipeline between Turkmenistan and northeast Iran was opened, gaining access to one of the largest untapped energy reserves in the world, the Caspian Sea Basin, designed to carry 12 billion cubic feet of natural gas a year.

Rafsanjani was fully aware of the Arc of Crisis prophecy that the U.S. was trying to convince the international community of, that basically, the Middle East was full of savages and would become a hot-bed for Soviet terrorism if left alone. It was also understood that Iran’s geographic location was the linchpin in determining not only Middle East geopolitics, but Eurasian relations.

To counteract this “prophecy”, which was in fact a “vision” for the Middle East, Rafsanjani understood that economic development and cooperation with Iran’s neighbours was key to avoiding such chaos.

In 1996, Rafsanjani founded the Executives of Construction of Iran Party, along with 16 members of cabinet, dedicated to Iran’s increasing participation in world markets and industrialization with emphasis on progress and development. The party’s view is that economic freedom is linked to cultural and political freedom.

Rafsanjani publicly supported Khatami as the next president- a highly influential and significant move.

Khatami’s Call for a “Dialogue Amongst Civilizations”

Mohammad Khatami became President of Iran on the 3rd August 1997 and served two terms (1997-2005). He was elected by an overwhelming majority (69% in 1997 and 77.9% in 2001) with a record voter turnout and was extremely popular amongst women and young voters. There was much optimism that Khatami’s presidency would not only bring further economic advances for Iran, but also that Iran’s international relations could begin to mend with the West and end Iran’s economic isolation.

It was Khatami who would first propose the beautiful concept “Dialogue Amongst Civilizations” and delivered this proposal at the UN General Assembly in September 1998 with the challenge that the first year of the millennium be dedicated to this great theme. It was endorsed by the UN.

You may be inclined to think such a concept fanciful, but Khatami was actually proposing a policy that was in direct opposition to the “crisis of Islam” and “clash of civilizations” geopolitical theories of Bernard Lewis and Samuel P. Huntington. Khatemi understood that to counteract the attempt to destabilise relations between nations, one would have to focus on the common principles among different civilizations, i.e. to identify a nation’s greatest historical and cultural achievements and build upon these shared heritages.

This is the backbone to what China has adopted as their diplomatic philosophy, which they call win-win cooperation and which has led to the creation of the BRI infrastructure projects, which are based on the recognition that only through economic development can nations attain sustainable peace. Italy would be the first in Europe to sign onto the BRI.

In 1999 Khatami would be the first Iranian president, since the 1979 Revolution, to make an official visit to Europe. Italy was the first stop, where Khatami had a long meeting with Pope John Paul II and gave an inspiringly optimistic address to students at the University of Florence.

Khatami stated his reason for choosing to visit Italy first was that they shared in common renaissance heritages (the Italian and Islamic Renaissances). Since the two nations had made significant contributions to contemporary civilization, an immense potential existed for a strategic relationship. It was also significant that Italy had never had a colonial presence in the Middle East. During his visit, Khatami had suggested that Italy could function as the “bridge between Islam and Christianity”.

Khatami further elaborated on the concept of a “bridge between Islam and Christianity” in an interview published by La Republica:

To delve into past history without looking at the future can only be an academic diversion. To help human societies and improve the condition of the world, it is necessary to consider the present state of relations between Asian, in particular Muslim, countries, and Europe…Why do we say, in particular, Muslim? Because Islam is Europe’s next door neighbor; unlike individuals, nations are not free to choose or change neighbors. Therefore, apart from moral, cultural, and human reasons, out of historical and geographical necessity, Islam and Europe have no choice but to gain a better and more accurate understanding of each other, and thus proceed to improve their political, economic, and cultural relations. Our future cannot be separated from each other, because it is impossible to separate our past.

In June 2000, Khatami made a state visit to China with a 170 member delegation. In a lecture delivered at Beijing University Khatami stated:

Even if one were to rely solely on historical documents we can still demonstrate the existence of uninterrupted historical links between China and Iran as early as the third century BC. [The historic Silk Road was the vehicle of cultural exchange where] we can observe a striking spectrum of cultural and spiritual interchanges involving religions, customs, thoughts, literature and ethics, which on the whole, added to the vitality and vivacity of eastern culture and thought…[and that] the Chinese outlook has been instrumental in opening up the way to the fruitful and constructive historical discourses throughout the ages, due to its emphasis on the intellectual over the political, in an attempt to epitomize wisdom, temperance and parsimony…Emphasis on our long standing close historical ties and dialogue among the great Asian civilizations, is a valuable instrument for the regenerating of thought, culture, language, and learning…in Asian civilizations, culture has always been the core of the economic and political process…[and] therefore, we are compelled to give a more serious thought to the revival of our cultures…

Khatami concluded with “The future belongs to the cultured, wise, courageous and industrious nations.

Dr. Strangelove and the “Islamic Bomb”

The U.S. was not always so antagonistic to Iran’s right to sovereignty. In 1943, President Roosevelt created the Iran Declaration which was signed by both Stalin and Churchill at the Tehran Conference, effectively ending Iran’s occupation by foreign powers.

In 1957, following Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative, the U.S. and Iran signed the “Cooperation Concerning Civil Uses of Atoms” which led to the 1959 creation of the Tehran Nuclear Research Center. And in 1960, first generation Iranian scientists were trained at MIT. In 1967, the U.S. supplied Iran with a 5 megawatt research reactor and enriched uranium fuel!

The reason why the relationship went sour, as Washington incessantly repeats, is that Iran is no longer trustworthy after the hostage crisis debacle shortly after the 1979 Revolution. The U.S., confident on their high horse, has felt justified ever since to dictate to Iran how they should run their nation.

Funny that it is hardly ever mentioned in the same breath that the U.S. was directly involved in the illegal removal of Iran’s Prime Minister Mosaddegh in 1953 who had successfully nationalised Iran’s oil and purged the nation of its British imperialist infestation.

Iran had proceeded in accordance with international law and won the case for nationalising Iran’s oil at The Hague and UN Security Council, against the British who were claiming their company “rights” to Iran’s resources. When Britain humiliatingly lost both high profile cases, Britain and the U.S. proceeded to implement TPAJAX and illegally overthrew the constitutional government of Iran, removing Mosaddegh as Prime Minister and installing an abiding puppet in his place.

Despite this, the U.S. acts as if it were justified in its incredibly hostile 40 year foreign policy towards Iran, largely over a hostage crisis (to which all hostages were safely returned home), and which was likely purposefully provoked by the U.S. as a pretext to sabotaging the European Monetary System (see my paper on this).

If Iran can forgive what the U.S. did to throw their country into disarray and keep their beloved leader Mosaddegh locked away as a political prisoner for the rest of his life, who was even refused a proper burial (1), then the U.S. government is in no position to harbour such distrust and hatred over the distant past.

Although Iran is also incessantly accused of alleged terrorist activity, there is not one international court case to date that has actually provided evidence to follow through with such charges. What is standing in the way of this occurring if Iran’s crimes are apparently so immense and far reaching and are a matter of international security, as the U.S. government frequently protests?

These alleged terrorist accusations seem to be based in the same form of “reasoning” behind the incessant accusations that Iran is planning on building an “Islamic Bomb”. In 2007, under the fanatical neoconservative Dick Cheney (via operation Clean Break), the U.S. came very close to invading Iran on the pretext that Iran was actively working towards such a goal.

These threats occurred despite the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ElBaradei, insisting that Iran was cooperating with the IAEA demands in accordance with NPT standards and that there was no evidence to support that Iran was working on nuclear weapons. In fact, ElBaradei was so upset over Washington’s threats of war that he took to the press daily to emphasise that Iran was cooperating fully and there was no evidence to justify an invasion.

However, it wouldn’t be until the release of the National Intelligence Estimate on Dec 3, 2007 that Cheney’s fantasy was finally dashed against the rocks. Within the NIE report, which was produced by American intelligence agencies, it was made crystal clear that Iran in fact had no military nuclear program since at least 2003 but possibly even further back. It was also no secret that the only reason why the report was made public was because members of the American intelligence community made it known that they were willing to go to the press about it, even if it meant ending up in prison.

Incredibly, Bush’s response to the press over this news was “Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will continue to be dangerous…”

Looking past the absurdity of Bush’s statement that Iran is dangerous, only 5 years after the illegal invasion of Iraq, justified by cooked British Intelligence, and the very real attempt to invade Iran in turn over fabricated accusations, the issue is in fact nothing to do with what Washington is claiming is their problem with Iran.

Atoms for Peace or Nuclear Apartheid?

The real “problem” with Iran is that it has become a great thorn in the “arc of crisis” game-plan. Despite Iran once being flooded with MI6, CIA and Israeli Mossad operatives, the Iranians have been largely successful in purging their nation of this infestation. Iran is thus refusing to be the west’s geopolitical linchpin. The more autonomous and prosperous Iran becomes, the greater the thorn.

The assassination of Gen. Maj. Soleimani in Jan 2020, was meant to be nothing less than a blatant provocation, as Bolton giddily tweeted, to cause Iran to take a misstep that would have justified a U.S. invasion and allowed for a reboot of the “arc of crisis”, flooding the country with actual terrorist groups, following the Iraq and Libyan models.

The real “threat” of Iran was expressed clearly when then President Bush Jr. visited the Middle East in Jan 2008 in an attempt to organise Arab states to offer their territory for U.S. military aggression against Iran. What he received as a response whether in Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE or Saudi Arabia was a resounding no.

The Al-Riyadh newspaper, which represents the views of the Saudi government, went so far as to state “We refuse to be used to launch wars or tensions with Iran…If the president [of the U.S.] wants to obtain the solidarity of all the Arabs…he must focus, rationally, on the most important issue which is the question of peace.

Overlapping Bush’s visit, the Foreign Minister of Iraq joined with the Iranian Foreign Minister at a Tehran press conference to announce: “My country knows who is our friend and who is our enemy, and Iran is our friend.

It is clear that despite the attempts to bring these nations to each other’s throats, the jig is up, and the tyrannical presence of the U.S. military in the Middle East is only going to unite these countries further. There will be no T.E. Lawrence organising of a Bedouin tribe this time around.

It is understood that if Iran were permitted to enter the world markets unhindered and to develop nuclear energy to sufficiently provide for its people, then Iran would become one of the top countries in the world. And as their Arab neighbours recognise, this would bring not only wealth and prosperity to their nations in turn, but the very much desired peace and security.

Iran as an economic powerhouse would also certainly align itself with Russia and China, as it has already begun, due to their common philosophy oriented in a multipolar governance frame emphasised by a win-win idea of economic cooperation. This alliance would naturally draw India, Japan and notably western Europe into its economic framework like the gravitational pull of a sun, and would result in the termination of the NATO-U.S. military industrial complex by ending the divide between east and west politics.

The fight for nuclear energy has always been about the fight for the right to develop one’s nation. And economic development of regions, such as the Middle East, is key to achieving sustainable peace. The reason why most countries are not “granted” this right to use nuclear power is because they are meant to remain as “serf” countries under a unipolar world order. Additionally, amongst the “privileged” countries who have been given the green light to possess uranium enrichment facilities, they are being told that they now need to shut down these nuclear capabilities under a Green New Deal.

This unipolar outlook was made evident by the Bush Administration’s attempt to assert guidelines that no country should be allowed to enrich uranium even to the low levels required for fuel for nuclear electric power plants, unless it is already in the U.S. dominated “Nuclear Suppliers Group”. All other nations would only be permitted to purchase power plant fuel from these “supplier” countries…with political conditions of course.

Everyone knows that oil revenues are not reliable for financing economic growth and Venezuela is a stark example of this. By limiting countries in the Middle East to oil as the main revenue, an incredibly volatile economic situation for the entire region is created, in addition to a complete subservience to “oil geopolitics”. Every nation has the right to defend itself against economic warfare by diversifying and stabilising its economy, and nuclear energy is absolutely key.

In British-based financial oligarchism, which is what runs the City of London (the financial center of the world for over 400 years to this day), the essential policy outlook which lurks behind the international oil cartels, is that who controls the oil, gas, strategic minerals, and food production will ultimately control the world, after the mass of paper values of a dying financial system have been swept away.

Also by this author

Cynthia Chung is a lecturer, writer and co-founder and editor of the Rising Tide Foundation (Montreal, Canada).

How to Take Back Control of Your Mind

A Historical Reminder of What Defines the United States, As Told by a Former Slave

The Enemy Within: A Story of the Purge of American Intelligence

The Sword of Damocles Over Western Europe: Follow the Trail of Blood and OilTo Understand Iran’s 150-Year Fight, Follow the Trail of Blood and Oil

The author can be reached at cynthiachung@tutanota.com

A Canada Day Surprise: How a ‘Synthetic Nationalism’ Was Created to Break the US-Russia Alliance

Source

A Canada Day Surprise: How a ‘Synthetic Nationalism’ Was Created to Break the US-Russia Alliance

July 01, 2020

By Matthew Ehret for the Saker Blog

As a Canadian author associated with a Canadian geopolitical magazine and a book series rooted in the thesis that Canada is still under the dominance of the British Empire to this very day, the July 1st holiday known as “Canada Day” is a bit of a strange thing to celebrate.

As I have recently written in my articles The Missed Chance of 1867 and the Truth of the Alaska Purchase, July 1st, 1867 was the day the British North America Act was established creating for the first time a confederacy in the Americas devoted to “maintaining the interests of the British Empire” (as our founding constitution makes explicit).

As I outlined above, the motive for this 1867 confederation was driven by the British Empire’s burning fear of losing its valuable possessions in the Americas during the course of the Civil War when Britain’s “other confederacy” operation against Lincoln’s union was obviously going to fail. The fact that the U.S.-Russian alliance that saved the Union in 1863 and led into the sale of Alaska in 1867 would also usher in an inevitable growth of rail development through the Bering Strait connecting both civilizations was a prospect devoutly to be feared by the City of London.

As Lincoln’s ally and father of the trans continental railway Governor William Gilpin laid out in his 1890 book The Cosmopolitan Railway, a new paradigm of win-win cooperation governed by national credit driven by rail construction and industry would soon replace the archaic system of empire forever. This project had vast support from the leadership of both the USA and Russia- including Sergei Witte, and Czar Nicholas II.

Many republican movements were alive in Canada during the turbulent Civil War years and whether Britain’s American possession would become 1) independent, 2) join the USA or 3) remain an appendage of the Empire was still very much uncertain.

Pro-Lincoln forces were found among Canada’s elite in the form of the great protectionist and nation builder Isaac Buchanan (President of Canada’s 1863 Executive Council) and a group of statesmen affiliated with Louis Joseph Papineau’s Canadian Institutes known as Les Rouges. A leading member of Les Rouges was a young Lincoln-loving lawyer named Wilfrid Laurier who later became Prime Minister from 1896-1911 where he often behaved as an uncooperative thorn in British colonial designs.

Neither Buchanan nor Laurier approved of annexation but rather desired that Canada become an independent republic free of British intrigues and friend of a pro-development version of America then much more alive than the Anglo-American beast which has run roughshod over the world in recent decades.

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While Buchanan fought for a North American Zollverein in 1863 against his enemies on the Grit “left” (George Brown) and Tory “right” (Sir John A. Macdonald), his efforts were sabotaged with his 1864 ouster. When his time finally came, Laurier fought hard to revive this Buchanan’s Zollverein plan years later. Unlike the perversion of NAFTA, the name Zollverein was derived from Frederick List’s 19th century program to unify Germany into a modern nation state under American System measures of protection, national credit, rail, industrial and infrastructure growth (not dissimilar in principle to the Belt and Road Initiative today). In Germany this program was supported most ardently by Lincoln ally Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

Without understanding this dynamic, or the British operation to get rid of Bismarck in 1890, there is no way to properly understand Britain’s obsession with manufacturing what later became known as World Wars one or two.

Laurier’s Zollverein revival of 1911 (aka: ‘Reciprocity Treaty’) proposed to lower protective tariffs with the USA primarily on agriculture, but with the intention to electrify and industrialize Canada, a nation which Laurier saw as supporting 60 million people within two generations. With the collaboration of his close advisors, Adam Shortt, O.D. Skelton and later William Lyon Mackenzie King, Laurier navigated a complex mine field of British intrigue active throughout the Canadian landscape.

The Round Table and Fabian Society

During this post-Civil War period, three American presidents, one French President and two pro-American Czars were assassinated as the British Empire re-organized itself under the guiding influence of two new think tanks: 1) The Fabian Society and 2) The Round Table Movement.

While one group shaped an agenda more attractive to the left, centered in the London School of Economics (LSE), the other group shaped a program more conservative right guided by a manifesto laid out by South African race patriot Cecil Rhodes in his 1877 will and centered in Oxford (the center of Rhodes Scholarship brainwashing activities for the next century).

In his will Rhodes stated:

“Why should we not form a secret society with but one object the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, and for the making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire…”

The common denominators for both organizations were: 1) world government under the control of the City of London and Britain’s global shadow empire, 2) the abolishment of independent nation states and 3) a “scientifically managed population control agenda” run by a technocratic elite. While an air of ‘left’ and ‘right’ were projected for public consumption, their operations were always interwoven as we shall see with the example of Lord Milner and Lord Mackinder.

Lords Milner and Mackinder Come to Canada

A follower of Rhodes’ vision and leader of the Round Table Group founded in 1902 was named Lord Alfred Milner who devoted himself whole heartedly to the task of creating a new church of the British Empire. In 1908, Milner persuaded Lord Halford Mackinder to quit his job as director of the London School of Economics to help resolve the problems of North America (all paid for by the Rhodes Trust).

During his dozens of public and private lectures across Canada, Mackinder laid out his clear understanding of the geopolitical importance of Canada within Britain’s ‘Great Game’ that few then or even now recognized sitting as it does as a wedge between Eurasian powers and the USA… and whose forces of attraction were still great. Czar Nicholas himself had only recently commissioned a study of the Bering Strait rail tunnel in 1906- supported by leading representatives of the Lincoln and Czar Alexander II in both countries.

Upon his return to Britain, Mackinder delivered a report to Westminster in 1911 where he laid out the terms of this threat in stark reality:

“Ultimately we have to look to the question of power…and power rests upon economic development. If Canada is drawn into the orbit of Washington, then this Empire loses its great opportunity. The dismemberment of the Empire will not be limited to Canada. Australia will avail herself of the power of the American fleet in the Pacific, and she will not long depend on a decaying and breaking Empire. Then with the resources of this island country you will be left to maintain your position in India… That constitutes, in my opinion, the significance of the present crisis. We are at the turning of the tide.”

A devout race Patriot just like Rhodes and Mackinder, Lord Milner commented on the existential threat of losing economic control of Canada to an America which had still not been re-conquered. Writing to his partner Leo Amery in 1909, he said:

“As between the three possibilities of the future: 1. Closer Imperial Union, 2. Union with the U.S. and 3. Independence, I believe definitely that No. 2 is the real danger. I do not think the Canadians themselves are aware of it… they are wonderfully immature in political reflection on the big issues, and hardly realise how powerful the influences are… On the other hand, I see little danger to ultimate imperial unity in Canadian ‘nationalism’. On the contrary I think the very same sentiment makes a great many especially of the younger Canadians vigorously, and even bumptuously , assertive of their independence, proud and boastful of the greatness and future of their country, and so forth, would lend themselves, tactfully handled, to an enthusiastic acceptance of Imperial unity on the basis of ‘partner-states’. This tendency is, therefore, in my opinion rather to be encouraged, not only as safeguard against ‘Americanization’, but as actually making, in the long run, for a Union of ‘all the Britains’.”

Milner recognized that Britain’s best choice was to cultivate a special type of British-approved “nationalism” among the “wonderfully immature” minds of the Canadian descendants of United Empire Loyalists of 1776 who were ignorant to the powerful influences of history. This insight shaped the next 110 years of Canadian cultural engineering to a tee.

A Very Canadian Coup and the League of Nations

Despite these efforts, Laurier was able to finalize his long-sought for Reciprocity Treaty with the USA in 1911- Milner’s worst fear. Before it could be acted upon however, an orchestrated overthrow of his government was affected by the Masonic Orange Order and Round Table Group with Laurier saying ominously a few years later:

“Canada is now governed by a junta sitting at London, known as “The Round Table”, with ramifications in Toronto, in Winnipeg, in Victoria, with Tories and Grits receiving their ideas from London and insidiously forcing them on their respective parties.”

By 1916, the Milner Group effected a coup in Britain itself, in order to shape the terms of the post-WWI order at Versailles where the League of Nations was created to usher in a post-Nation State world. This was just another way of saying “New British Empire”.

When American statesmen resisted this new imperial organization, Roundtable Groups were set up across Anglo-Saxon nations during the 1920s to coordinate a new more fascist solution to the “national problem”. This took the form of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (RIIA/Chatham House) created in 1919, with Canadian and Australian branches set up soon thereafter in the form of the Canadian and Australian Institutes for International Affairs. An American branch of this group was created in 1921 under the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and through these groups (later to be known as the Five Eyes), fascism was sold as a solution to the Great Depression triggered by the financial blowout of 1929.

As Georgetown professor Caroll Quigley pointed out in his posthumously published Anglo-American Establishment, the Canadian leader of this group was a protégé of Milner named Vincent Massey who later became the nation’s first Canadian born Governor General and led the operation to create a new synthetic Canadian Nationalism in which peaked with the 1949 Massey Royal Commission on the National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences (heavily tied into a CIA/MI6 operation called the Congress for Cultural Freedom in Europe).

The effect of Massey’s report relieved the Rockefeller Foundation of the financial burden of funding Canadian history, humanities, arts and music by creating the Canadian Council of the Arts which it held alongside the Carnegie Foundation since their founding in 1905 and 1913 respectively.

Fascism or Freedom?

During the dark years of the Great Depression, “fascism” was sold as the economic miracle solution to desperate citizens across the trans Atlantic, and a new, harsher effort was made for a global Bankers Dictatorship under the Bank of England and Bank of International Settlements (the Central bank of Central Banks). In Canada, the groundwork for a scientifically managed society was established by a team of 5 Rhodes Scholars and one Fabian Society agent who founded the League of Social Reconstruction (LSR) in 1931. This eugenics-loving organization dubbed itself “the Canadian Fabian Society” and its leading operatives were all tied to Canada’s Round Table (The Canadian Institute for International Affairs (CIIA)). Rhodes Scholar Escott Reid, whom I introduced in my last paper on the Rhodes Scholar Roots of NATO, was the CIIA’s first Permanent Secretary and one of the leading co-founders of the LSR.

This group set up a political party known as the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation which changed its name to the National Democratic Party in 1961.

While in Quebec, the fascist Nazi Adrian Arcand was set up to take power, on the Federal level the Canadian Fabian Society believed it could take charge.

The trouble here was Franklin D. Roosevelt.

By rejecting fascism, FDR thwarted a bankers dictatorship and forced through a revolutionary reform in banking that put a leash on the financial elite while forcing public credit to serve the Common Good through vast New Deal megaprojects. In a certain way, the America of Abraham Lincoln was consciously revived under FDR’s leadership. These positive effects were felt strongly in Canada and soon the “Laurier Liberals” took back power and in 1937, nationalized the Bank of Canada (previously modelled on the private Central Bank of England in 1934) with Prime Minister Mackenzie King stating:

“Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes the nation’s laws. Usury, once in control, will wreck any nation. Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most conspicuous and sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of Parliament and of democracy is idle and futile.”

One can only imagine the stress felt by London as FDR’s Vice President Henry Wallace moved to revive the Bering Strait connection alongside Russian Foreign Minister Molotov in 1942. Describing this plan in 1944, Wallace said:

“Siberia and China will furnish the greatest frontier of tomorrow… When Molotov was in Washington in the spring of 1942 I spoke to him about the combined highway and airway which I hope someday will link Chicago and Moscow via Canada, Alaska and Siberia. Molotov, after observing that no one nation could do this job by itself, said that he and I would live to see the day of its accomplishment. It would mean much to the peace of the future if there could be some tangible link of this sort between the pioneer spirit of our own West and the frontier spirit of the Russian East.”

The Anti-Colonial Spirit Struggles in the Post-War Years

Even though Rhodes Scholars flooded into the upper echelons of power with the untimely deaths of Skelton and Lapointe in 1941, C.D. Howe had created a strong machine committed to building large scale projects and continued to grow Canada’s scientific and technological potential in the post-war years with the Bank of Canada serving as a tool for this growth. Some of these projects included the AVRO Arrow supersonic jet program, Canada’s Atomic Energy Agency, the Trans Canada Highway and St. Laurence Seaway.

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When the Liberals fell from power in 1957 and a new Conservative government took over, the commitment to scientific and technological progress continued with Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s planned Northern Vision to industrialize the Arctic as a sort of “Canadian manifest destiny”. This commitment to anti-Malthusian “open system” economics did not please London.

When the Diefenbaker administration fell in 1963 (after a Roundtable-steered coup), the Liberal Party that returned to power under Lester B. Pearson was a far cry from that which had fallen in 1957. During the 1957-63 period, the Liberal Party was re-organized directly by Walter Lockhart Gordon, the British Foreign Office’s leading agent working through the CIIA.

Walter Gordon and the Rise of a New Nationalism

During this period, Gordon proved to become the most powerful man in the Liberal Party and the controller of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.

Gordon led the cleansing of C.D. Howe Liberals and transformed the Party from the pro-development machine it had been since WW II into a radically anti-American, anti-progress colony under British financial control[1].

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This was done by essentially infusing the Fabians dominant in the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (aka: the Fabian Society of Canada) into a Liberal host body (the CCF’s open connection to Marxism made it a hard sell on post-war Canadians). The recommendations that Gordon had made in his 1957 Royal Commission Report on Economic Prospects for Canada, especially those regarding restricting American investments and ownership of Canadian industry, would now, for the most part, be fully supported by the new government. A new synthetic Canadian identity would be crafted around a stark fear of the USA (then suffering its own regime change takeover, via the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy), and a new Orwellian age of endless war, nuclear terror, sex, drugs, MK Ultra and COINTEL PRO became the new norm for a generation of young baby boomers.

In his memoirs, John Diefenbaker noted the irony of Walter Gordon’s radical promotion of Canadian nationalism on the one side, yet hatred of the policies pushed by Diefenbaker which would provide the actual means of attaining those nationalist ends which Gordon apparently desired:

“One of the ironies of recent Canadian history is that Walter Gordon, a man whom I only met for a few minutes when he delivered to me his Royal Commission Report, has stated that he decided to do everything in his power to make Mr. Pearson Prime Minister because he hated me and feared that my policies would wreck Canada!” [p. 202]

Lester B. Pearson, an Oxford Massey Scholar and former assistant in London to Vincent Massey, became the vehicle Gordon selected to oversee the transformation of the Liberal Party and the purging of pro-development Liberals who would resist the isolationist monetary policies of Gordon. One of those who would suffer the purge was Henry Erskine Kidd, General Secretary for the Liberal Party who referred to the process led by Gordon as “a palace revolution”[2].

With this Palace Revolution, the Liberals swept back to power but now governed by an anti-growth technocratic ethic premised around the “scientific management of society” and a new “British-approved” nationalism was created beginning with a shiny new maple leaf flag which unlike most national flags, featured symbolism that signified absolutely nothing whatsoever.

When Pearson found himself too easily influenced by “American-styled” growth initiatives, Gordon broke with him, and as Privy Council President, worked alongside Canadian Privy Councillor Maurice Strong (then head of the Canadian International Development Agency) to promote a more effective replacement in the form of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. In Elaine Dewar’s 1995 book Cloak of Green, Maurice Strong exposed how both he and Gordon were on the selection committee in Mont Blanc that chose Fabian Society asset Pierre Trudeau as a new rising star of the reformed Liberal Party.

Another co-founder of this new Nationalism whose name is worth mentioning included a Canadian Rhodes Scholar named George Grant (a descendant of , who as I wrote in my George Grant’s Delphic Subversion of Canadian Nationalism, was little more than a Straussian follower of Aldous Huxley who drooled over a Canadian-modelled world government. Upon returning from Oxford, Grant was hired as a researcher on Massey’s 1949 Royal Commission.

Grant’s grandfather George Parkin was Milner’s inspiration as a lecturer at Oxford and co-founder of the Roundtable group in 1902.

Canada’s Future: Colonial Tool or New Silk Road?

As part of his 1908 Canada tour that led into the creation of the synthetic “new nationalism” outlined above, Halford Mackinder made a jarring forecast:

“We may picture to ourselves that Canada will not merely be an important part of the British Empire, but the very centre of that empire. Those who ask if Canada is to be loyal to the empire are forgetful of the fact, which I believe Canadians are beginning to realize, that Canada is probably to be the centre of the Empire.”

For those who want to raise a glass to Canada on July 1st, I’d recommend that in lieu of painting ridiculous maple leaves on your face, we instead celebrate those figures in Canada’s history that fought to correct the error of 1776- when Quebec failed to accept Benjamin Franklin’s offer to become a 14th member of the revolution. Instead of worshiping Maple Leaves and hockey, I suggest we take the time to raise a glass to the lives of those great statesmen like Louis-Joseph Papineau, Isaac Buchanan, Wilfrid Laurier, O.D. Skelton, C.D. Howe, W.A.C. Bennett, John Diefenbaker and Daniel Johnson Sr, who sacrificed their comfort, reputations and sometimes even their lives to bring Canada even just a few steps closer to attaining true independence of the British Empire.

As the spirit of Lincoln, Alexander II, FDR and Sun Yat-sen is revived in today’s Belt and Road Initiative and broader Multipolar Alliance led by Russia and China, Canada will again be forced to confront an existential choice: Will we make the right one?

Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , a BRI Expert on Tactical talk, and has authored 3 volumes of ‘Untold History of Canada’ book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide Foundation 

Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

May 11, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

China has learned from its own rich history and is applying those lessons to re-emerge as a major 21st century power

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Jiayu Pass, a famed MIng Dynasty era part of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan City, during an inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province, August 20, 2019. Photo: FacebookWith hybrid warfare 2.0 against China reaching fever pitch, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, will continue to be demonized 24/7 as the proverbial evil communist plot for economic and geopolitical domination of the “free” world, boosted by a sinister disinformation campaign.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Jiayu Pass,
a famed MIng Dynasty era part of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan City,
during an inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province,
August 20, 2019. Photo: Facebook

It’s idle to discuss with simpletons. In the interest of an informed debate, what matters is to find the deeper roots of Beijing’s strategy – what the Chinese learned from their own rich history and how they are applying these lessons as a re-emerging major power in the young 21st century.

Let’s start with how East and West used to position themselves at the center of the world.

The first Chinese historic-geographic encyclopedia, the 2nd century B.C. Classic of the Mountains and the Seas, tells us the world was what was under the sun (tienhia). Composed of “mountains and seas” (shanhai), the world was laid out between “four seas” (shihai). There’s only one thing that does not change: the center. And its name is “Middle Kingdom” (Zhongguo), that is, China.

Of course, the Europeans, in the 16th century, discovering that the earth was round, turned Chinese centrality upside down. But actually not that much (see, for instance, this 21st century Sinocentric map published in 2013).

The principle of a huge continent surrounded by seas, the “exterior ocean,” seems to have derived from Buddhist cosmology, in which the world is described as a “four-petal lotus.” But the Sinocentric spirit was powerful enough to discard and prevail over every cosmogony that might have contradicted it, such as the Buddhist, which placed India at the center.

Now compare Ancient Greece. Its center, based on reconstituted maps by Hippocrates and Herodotus, is a composite in the Aegean Sea, featuring the Delphi-Delos-Ionia triad. The major split between East and West goes back to the Roman empire in the 3rd century. And it starts with Diocletian, who made it all about geopolitics.

Here’s the sequence: In 293, he installs a tetrarchy, with two Augustuses and two Caesars, and four prefectures. Maximian Augustus is charged to defend the West (Occidens), with the “prefecture of Italy” having Milan as capital. Diocletian charges himself to defend the East (Oriens), with the “prefecture of Orient” having Nicomedia as capital.

Political religion is added to this new politico-military complex. Diocletian starts the Christian dioceses (dioikesis, in Greek, after his name), twelve in total. There is already a diocese of the Orient – basically the Levant and northern Egypt.

There’s no diocese of the Occident. But there is a diocese of Asia: basically the Western part of Mediterranean Turkey nowadays, heir to the ancient Roman provinces in Asia. That’s quite interesting: the Orient is placed east of Asia.

The historical center, Rome, is just a symbol. There’s no more center; in fact, the center is slouching towards the Orient. Nicomedia, Diocletian’s capital, is quickly replaced by neighbor Byzantium under Constantine and rechristened as Constantinople: he wants to turn it into “the new Rome.”

When the Western Roman empire falls in 476, the empire of the Orient remains.

Officially, it will become the Byzantine empire only in the year 732, while the Holy Roman Empire – which, as we know, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire – resurrects with Charlemagne in 800. From Charlemagne onwards, the Occident regards itself as “Europe,” and vice-versa: the historical center and the engine of this vast geographical space, which will eventually reach and incorporate the Americas.

Superstar admiral

We’re still immersed in a – literally – oceanic debate among historians about the myriad reasons and the context that led everyone and his neighbor to frenetically take to the seas starting in the late 15th century – from Columbus and Vasco da Gama to Magellan.

But the West usually forgets about the true pioneer: iconic Admiral Zheng He, original name Ma He, a eunuch and Muslim Hui from Yunnan province.

His father and grandfather had been pilgrims to Mecca. Zheng He grew up speaking Mandarin and Arabic and learning a lot about geography. When he was 13, he was placed in the house of a Ming prince, Zhu Di, member of the new dynasty that came to power in 1387.

Educated as a diplomat and warrior, Zheng He converted to Buddhism under his new name, although he always remained faithful to Islam. After all, as I saw for myself when I visited Hui communities in 1997 when branching out from the Silk Road, on my way to Labrang monastery in Xiahe, Hui Islam is a fascinating syncretism incorporating Buddhism, the Tao and Confucianism.

Zhu Di brought down the Emperor in 1402 and took the name Yong Le. A year later he had already commissioned Zheng He as admiral, and ordered him to supervise the construction of a large fleet to explore the seas around China. Or, to be more precise, the “Occidental ocean” (Xiyang): that is, the Indian Ocean.

Thus from 1405 to 1433, roughly three decades, Zheng He led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, leaving from Nanjing in the Yangtze and benefiting from monsoon winds. They hit Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah/Mecca, Mogadiscio and the Eastern African coast south of the Equator.

Those were real armadas, sometimes with over 200 ships, including the 72 main ones, carrying as many as 30,000 men and vast amounts of precious merchandise for trade: silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, leather products, iron utensils. The leading vessel of the first expedition, with Zheng He as captain, was 140 meters long, 50 meters wide and carrying over 500 men.

This was the original Maritime Silk Road, now revived in the 21st century. And it was coupled with another extension of the overland Silk Road: after all the dreaded Mongols were in retreat, there were new allies all the way to Transoxiana, the Chinese managed to strike a peace deal with the successor of Tamerlane. So the Silk Roads were booming again. The Ming court sent diplomats all over Asia – Tibet, Nepal, Bengal, even Japan.

The main objective of pioneering Chinese seafaring has always puzzled Western historians. Essentially, it was a diplomatic, commercial and military mix. It was important to have Chinese suzerainty recognized – and materialized via the payment of a tribute. But most of all this was about trade; no wonder the ships had special cabins for merchants.

The armada was designated as the Treasury Fleet – but denoting more a prestige operation than a vehicle for capturing riches. Yong Le was strong on soft power and economics – as he took control of overseas trade by imposing an imperial monopoly over all transactions. So in the end this was a clever, comprehensive application of the Chinese tributary system – in the commercial, diplomatic and cultural spheres.

Yong Le was in fact following the instructions of his predecessor Hongwu, the founder of the Ming (“Lights”) dynasty. Legend rules that Hongwu ordered that one billion trees should be planted in the Nanjing region to supply the building of a navy.

Then there was the transfer of the capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1421, and the construction of the Forbidden City. That cost a lot of money. As much as the naval expeditions were expensive, their profits, of course, were useful.

Yong Le wanted to establish Chinese – and pan-Asian – stability via a true Pax Sinica. That was not imposed by force but rather by diplomacy, coupled with a subtle demonstration of power. The Armada was the aircraft carrier of the time, with cannons on sight – but rarely used – and practicing “freedom of navigation”.

What the emperor wanted was allied local rulers, and for that he used intrigue and commerce rather than shock and awe via battles and massacres. For instance, Zheng He proclaimed Chinese suzerainty over Sumatra, Cochin and Ceylon. He privileged equitable commerce. So this was never a colonization process.

On the contrary: before each expedition, as its planning proceeded, emissaries from countries to be visited were invited to the Ming court and treated, well, royally.

Plundering Europeans

Now compare that with the European colonization led a decade later by the Portuguese across these same lands and these same seas. Between (a little) carrot and (a lot of) stick, the Europeans drove commerce mostly via massacres and forced conversions. Trading posts were soon turned into forts and military installations, something that Zheng He’s expeditions never attempted.

In fact Zheng He left so many good memories that he was divinized under his Chinese name, San Bao, which means “Three Treasures,” in such places in Southeast Asia as Malacca and Siam’s Ayutthaya.

What can only be described as Judeo-Christian sadomasochism focused on imposing suffering as virtue, the only path to reach Paradise. Zheng He would never have considered that his sailors – and the populations he made contact with – had to pay this price.

So why did it all end, and so suddenly? Essentially Yong Le run out of money because of his grandiose imperial adventures. The Grand Canal – linking the Yellow River and the Yangtze basins – cost a fortune. Same for building the Forbidden City. The revenue from the expeditions was not enough.

And just as the Forbidden City was inaugurated, it caught fire in May 1421. Bad omen. According to tradition, this means disharmony between Heaven and the sovereign, a development outside of the astral norm. Confucians used it to blame the eunuch councilors, very close to the merchants and the cosmopolitan elites around the emperor. On top of it, the southern borders were restless and the Mongol threat never really went away.

The new Ming emperor, Zhu Gaozhi, laid down the law: “China’s territory produces all goods in abundance; so why should we buy abroad trinkets without any interest?”

His successor Zhu Zanji was even more radical. Up to 1452, a series of imperial edicts prohibited foreign trade and overseas travel. Every infraction was considered piracy punished by death. Worse, studying foreign languages was banished, as was the teaching of Chinese to foreigners.

Zheng He died (in early 1433? 1435?) in true character, in the middle of the sea, north of Java, as he was returning from the seventh, and last, expedition. The documents and the charts used for the expeditions were destroyed, as well as the ships.

So the Ming ditched naval power and re-embraced old agrarian Confucianism, which privileges agriculture over trade, the earth over the seas, and the center over foreign lands.

No more naval retreat

The takeaway is that the formidable naval tributary system put in place by Yong Le and Zheng He was a victim of excess – too much state spending, peasant turbulence – as well as its own success.

In less than a century, from the Zheng He expeditions to the Ming retreat, this turned out to be a massive game changer in history and geopolitics, prefiguring what would happen immediately afterwards in the long 16th century: the era when Europe started and eventually managed to rule the world.

One image is stark. While Zheng He’s lieutenants were sailing the eastern coast of Africa all the way to the south, in 1433, the Portuguese expeditions were just starting their adventures in the Atlantic, also sailing south, little by little, along the Western coast of Africa. The mythical Cape Bojador was conquered in 1434.

After the seven Ming expeditions crisscrossed Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean from 1403 for nearly three decades, only half a century later Bartolomeu Dias would conquer the Cape of Good Hope, in 1488, and Vasco da Gama would arrive in Goa in 1498.

Imagine a historical “what if?”: the Chinese and the Portuguese bumping into each other in Swahili land. After all, in 1417 it was the turn of Hong Bao, the Muslim eunuch who was Zheng He’s lieutenant; and in 1498 it was Vasco da Gama’s turn, guided by the “Lion of the Sea” Ibn Majid, his legendary Arab master navigator.

The Ming were not obsessed with gold and spices. For them, trade should be based on equitable exchange, under the framework of the tribute. As Joseph Needham conclusively proved in works such as Science and Civilization in China, the Europeans wanted Asian products way more than Orientals wanted European products, “and the only way to pay for them was gold.”

For the Portuguese, the “discovered” lands were all potential colonization territory. And for that the few colonizers needed slaves. For the Chinese, slavery amounted to domestic chores at best. For the Europeans, it was all about the massive exploitation of a workforce in the fields and in mines, especially concerning black populations in Africa.

In Asia, in contrast to Chinese diplomacy, the Europeans went for massacre. Via torture and mutilations, Vasco da Gama and other Portuguese colonizers deployed a real war of terror against civilian populations.

This absolutely major structural difference is at the root of the world- system and the geo-historical organization of our world, as analyzed by crack geographers such as Christian Grataloup and Paul Pelletier.  Asian nations did not have to manage – or to suffer – the painful repercussions of slavery.

So in the space of only a few decades the Chinese abdicated from closer relations with Southeast Asia, India and Eastern Africa. The Ming fleet was destroyed. China abandoned overseas trade and retreated unto itself to focus on agriculture.

Once again: the direct connection between the Chinese naval retreat and the European colonial expansion is capable of explaining the development process of the two “worlds” – the West and the Chinese center – since the 15th century.

At the end of the 15th century, there were no Chinese architects left capable of building large ships. Development of weaponry also had been abandoned. In just a few decades, crucially, the Sinified world lost its vast technological advance over the West. It got weaker. And later it would pay a huge price, symbolized in the Chinese unconsciousness by the “century of humiliation.”

All of the above explains quite a few things. How Xi Jinping and the current leadership did their homework. Why China won’t pull a Ming remix and retreat again. Why and how the overland Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road are being revived. How there won’t be any more humiliations. And most of all, why the West – especially the American empire – absolutely refuses to admit the new course of history.

Putin’s Call for a New System and the 1944 Battle of Bretton Woods: Lessons for Victory Day

May 10, 2020

Putin’s Call for a New System and the 1944 Battle of Bretton Woods: Lessons for Victory Day

By Matthew Ehret for The Saker Blog

As today’s world teeters on the brink of a financial collapse greater than anything the world experienced in either 1923 Weimar or the 1929 Great depression, a serious discussion has been initiated by leaders of Russia and China regarding the terms of the new system which must inevitably replace the currently dying neo-liberal order. Most recently, Vladimir Putin re-initiated his January 16, 2020 call for a new emergency economic conference to deal with the looming disaster based upon a live session with representatives of the five nuclear powers of the UN Security Council.

While Putin’s commitment for this new system is premised upon multi-polar principles of cooperation and respect of national sovereignty, the financial oligarchy and broader deep state structures infesting the western nations who have initiated this crisis over the course of decades of globalization have called for their own version of a new system. This new system as we have seen promoted by the likes of the Bank of England and leading technocrats over the past year, is based upon an anti-Nation State, unipolar system which typically goes by the term “Green New Deal”. In other words, this is a system ruled by a technocratic elite managing the reduction of world population through the monetization of carbon reduction practices under a Global Government.

No matter how you look at it, a new system will be created out of the ashes of the currently dying world order. The question is only: Will it benefit the oligarchy or the people?

In order to inform the necessary decision making going into this emergency conference, it is useful to revisit the last such emergency conference that defined the terms of a world economic architecture in July 1944 so that similar mistakes that were then made by anti-imperialist forces are not made once more.

What Was the Bretton Woods?

As it was becoming apparent that the war would be soon drawing to a close, a major fight broke out during a two week conference in Bretton Woods New Hampshire where representative of 44 nations convened to establish the terms of the new post-war system. The question was: Would this new system be governed by those British Imperial principles similar to those that had dominated the world before the war began or would they be shaped by a community of sovereign nation states?

On the one side, figures allied to American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vision for an anti-Imperial world order lined up behind FDR’s champion Harry Dexter White while those powerful forces committed to maintaining the structures of a bankers’ dictatorship (Britain was always primarily a banker’s empire) lined up behind the figure of John Maynard Keynes[1].

John Maynard Keynes was a leading Fabian Society controller and treasurer of the British Eugenics Association (which served as a model for Hitler’s Eugenics protocols before and during the war). During the Bretton Woods Conference, Keynes pushed hard for the new system to be premised upon a one world currency controlled entirely by the Bank of England known as the Bancor. He proposed a global bank called the Clearing Union to be controlled by the Bank of England which would use the Bancor (exchangeable with national currencies) and serve as unit of account to measure trade surpluses or deficits under the mathematical mandate of maintaining “equilibrium” of the system.

Harry Dexter White on the other hand fought relentlessly to keep the City of London out of the drivers’ seat of global finance and instead defended the institution of national sovereignty and sovereign currencies based on long term scientific and technological growth. Although White and FDR demanded that U.S. dollars become the reserve currency in the new world system of fixed exchange rates, it was not done to create a “new American Empire” as most modern analysts have assumed, but rather was designed to use America’s status as the strongest productive global power to ensure an anti-speculative stability among international currencies which entirely lacked stability in the wake of WWII.

Their fight for fixed exchange rates and principles of “parity pricing” were designed by FDR and White strictly around the need to abolish the forms of chaotic flux of the un-regulated markets which made speculation rampant under British Free Trade and destroyed the capacity to think and plan for the sort of long term development needed to modernize nation states. Theirs was not a drive for “mathematical equilibrium” but rather a drive to “end poverty” through REAL physical economic growth of colonies who would thereby win real economic independence.

As figures like Henry Wallace (FDR’s loyal Vice President and 1948 3rd party candidate), Representative William Wilkie (FDR’s republican lieutenant and New Dealer), and Dexter White all advocated repeatedly, the mechanisms of the World Bank, IMF, and United Nations were meant to become drivers of an internationalization of the New Deal which transformed America from a backwater cesspool in 1932 to becoming a modern advanced manufacturing powerhouse 12 years later. All of these Interntional New Dealers were loud advocates of US-Russia –China leadership in the post war world which is a forgotten fact of paramount importance.

In his 1944 book Our Job in the Pacific, Wallace said: “It is vital to the United States, it is vital to China and it is vital to Russia that there be peaceful and friendly relations between China and Russia, China and America and Russia and America. China and Russia Complement and supplement each other on the continent of Asia and the two together complement and supplement America’s position in the Pacific.”

Contradicting the mythos that FDR was a Keynesian, FDR’s assistant Francis Perkins recorded the 1934 interaction between the two men when Roosevelt told her: “I saw your friend Keynes. He left a whole rigmarole of figures. He must be a mathematician rather than a political economist.” In response Keynes, who was then trying to coopt the intellectual narrative of the New Deal stated he had “supposed the President was more literate, economically speaking.”

In his 1936 German edition of his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Keynes wrote: “For I confess that much of the following book is illustrated and expounded mainly with reference to the conditions existing in the Anglo Saxon countries. Nevertheless, the theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state.”

While Keynes represented the “soft imperialism” for the “left” of Britain’s intelligentsia, Churchill represented the hard unapologetic imperialism of the Old, less sophisticated empire that preferred the heavy fisted use of brute force to subdue the savages. Both however were unapologetic racists and fascists (Churchill even wrote admiringly of Mussolini’s black shirts) and both represented the most vile practices of British Imperialism.

FDR’s Forgotten Anti-Colonial Vision Revited

FDR’s battle with Churchill on the matter of empire is better known than his differences with Keynes whom he only met on a few occasions. This well documented clash was best illustrated in his son/assistant Elliot Roosevelt’s book As He Saw It (1946) who quoted his father:

“I’ve tried to make it clear … that while we’re [Britain’s] allies and in it to victory by their side, they must never get the idea that we’re in it just to help them hang on to their archaic, medieval empire ideas … I hope they realize they’re not senior partner; that we are not going to sit by and watch their system stultify the growth of every country in Asia and half the countries in Europe to boot.”

FDR continued: “The colonial system means war. Exploit the resources of an India, a Burma, a Java; take all the wealth out of these countries, but never put anything back into them, things like education, decent standards of living, minimum health requirements–all you’re doing is storing up the kind of trouble that leads to war. All you’re doing is negating the value of any kind of organizational structure for peace before it begins.”

Writing from Washington in a hysteria to Churchill, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden said that Roosevelt ”contemplates the dismantling of the British and Dutch empires.”

Unfortunately for the world, FDR died on April 12, 1945. A coup within the Democratic establishment, then replete with Fabians and Rhodes Scholars, had already ensured that Henry Wallace would lose the 1944 Vice Presidency in favor of Anglophile Wall Street Stooge Harry Truman. Truman was quick to reverse all of FDR’s intentions, cleansing American intelligence of all remaining patriots with the shutdown of the OSS and creation of the CIA, the launching of un-necessary nuclear bombs on Japan and establishment of the Anglo-American special relationship. Truman’s embrace of Churchill’s New World Order destroyed the positive relationship with Russia and China which FDR, White and Wallace sought and soon America had become Britain’s dumb giant.

The Post 1945 Takeover of the Modern Deep State

FDR warned his son before his death of his understanding of the British takeover of American foreign policy, but still could not reverse this agenda. His son recounted his father’s ominous insight:

“You know, any number of times the men in the State Department have tried to conceal messages to me, delay them, hold them up somehow, just because some of those career diplomats over there aren’t in accord with what they know I think. They should be working for Winston. As a matter of fact, a lot of the time, they are [working for Churchill]. Stop to think of ’em: any number of ’em are convinced that the way for America to conduct its foreign policy is to find out what the British are doing and then copy that!” I was told… six years ago, to clean out that State Department. It’s like the British Foreign Office….”

Before being fired from Truman’s cabinet for his advocacy of US-Russia friendship during the Cold War, Wallace stated: “American fascism” which has come to be known in recent years as the Deep State. “Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.”

In his 1946 Soviet Asia Mission, Wallace said “Before the blood of our boys is scarcely dry on the field of battle, these enemies of peace try to lay the foundation for World War III. These people must not succeed in their foul enterprise. We must offset their poison by following the policies of Roosevelt in cultivating the friendship of Russia in peace as well as in war.”

Indeed this is exactly what occurred. Dexter White’s three year run as head of the International Monetary Fund was clouded by his constant attacks as being a Soviet stooge which haunted him until the day he died in 1948 after a grueling inquisition session at the House of Un-American Activities. White had previously been supporting the election of his friend Wallace for the presidency alongside fellow patriots Paul Robeson and Albert Einstein.

Today the world has captured a second chance to revive the FDR’s dream of an anti-colonial world. In the 21st century, this great dream has taken the form of the New Silk Road, led by Russia and China (and joined by a growing chorus of nations yearning to exit the invisible cage of colonialism).

If western nations wish to survive the oncoming collapse, then they would do well to heed Putin’s call for a New International system, join the BRI, and reject the Keynesian technocrats advocating a false “New Bretton Woods” and “Green New Deal”.

Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , a BRI Expert on Tactical talk, is regular author with Strategic Culture, the Duran and Fort Russ and has authored 3 volumes of ‘Untold History of Canada’ book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide Foundation and can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

  1. You may be thinking “wait! Wasn’t FDR and his New Deal premised on Keynes’ theories??” How could Keynes have represented an opposing force to FDR’s system if this is the case?This paradox only exists in the minds of many people today due to the success of the Fabian Society’s and Round Table Movement’s armada of revisionist historians who have consistently created a lying narrative of history to make it appear to future generations trying to learn from past mistakes that those figures like FDR who opposed empire were themselves following imperial principles. Another example of this sleight of hand can be seen by the sheer number of people who sincerely think themselves informed and yet believe that America’s 1776 revolution was driven by British Imperial philosophical thought stemming from Adam Smith, Bentham and John Locke. 

Coronavirus Devastates Italy: Is It the Result of Globalism and Free Trade?

Philip Giraldi April 9, 2020

Coronavirus Devastates Italy: Is It the Result of Globalism and ...

The devastating impact of the coronavirus on Italy has sparked considerable speculation as to why the country appears to have suffered so disproportionately from the disease. Some initial theories suggested that the deaths might be due to lower standards and ill-advised practices in the Italian national health system, but the reality is that northern Italy, where the virus has struck hardest, has by most metrics better and more accessible health care than does the United States overall.

By one reckoning, the claimed number of dead is too high because anyone who tested positive and died had his or her death attributed to the virus even if it was actually due to other unrelated causes. And that argument has also been flipped on its head to demonstrate that the numbers are too low, using the fact that many Italians have not been tested for the virus to assert that many dead were actually caused by coronavirus. Since those dead were not medically confirmed positive for COVID-19, the deaths were erroneously attributed to other causes.

A third bit of somewhat more bizarre speculation centers on the fact that in September 2019 Italy made legal euthanasia for those with terminal illnesses seeking to end their suffering, a move strongly opposed by the Roman Catholic Church. Some of those weighing in on the number of deaths have claimed without evidence that a significant percentage of the dead were actually cases of euthanasia, i.e. implying that Italy has been deliberately killing off its elderly. Those seeking an explanation for such bizarre behavior by the national health service have suggested that it would be to ease pressure on the troubled Italian economy by eliminating old age pensions and medical costs.

Be that as it may, there is an interesting backstory developing in the Italian media about why Italy has been hit so hard by the “Chinese” virus in spite of the fact that it has been in lockdown for over one month. Italy’s ties with China, and with the city of Wuhan, where the virus may have originated, run deeper than with any other European country.

Last spring, when my wife and I were traveling in Northern Italy, we noticed the large numbers of Chinese, not only in tourism centers like Venice and Verona, but also in commercial and industrial areas. Italian shop holders we spoke with told us how the Chinese government and individual entrepreneurs were buying up businesses and properties at an alarming rate, penetrating the Italian economy at all levels. One gift shop proprietor in Venice described how even tourist items were increasingly being manufactured in China, a development which he described as “selling cheap junk.” He reached beneath his counter and produced a perfume bottle which looked like a local product but instead of being made in Murano it bore a tiny stamp “Made in China.”

A little less than a year ago Italy became the first G-7 country in Europe to sign a memorandum of understanding formalizing its membership in the Chinese Belt and Road project, part of the Silk Road scheme to create a vast linked commercial network across Asia and into Europe. Two of the main hubs being developed for the project are Genoa and Trieste. The Italian government, confronted with a struggling economy, based the move on “commercial reasons” and “economic advantages,” to include the investment being offered by Beijing, but Rome paid a price for the move with intense criticism coming from both Washington and Brussels. The Atlanticist crowd, which normally applauded a form of globalism and free trade, inevitably insisted that not only were the Chinese seeking to “destabilize” Europe, Beijing was also attempting to divide Europe politically and militarily from the United States.

One of the more interesting, and perhaps coincidental, aspects of the Chinese entry into Italy has been the particular connection between China and the northern Italian fashion houses, centered on Milan, that have shifted their production to Wuhan to take advantage of the cheap labor in China’s own textile industry, largely centered on the city. By all accounts, Chinese investors bought up factories in Northern Italy starting in the early 1990s. By 2016 many major brands had been completely acquired, to include Pinco Pallino, Miss Sixty, Sergio Tacchini, Roberta di Camerino and Mariella Burani while major shares of Salvatore Ferragamo and Caruso were also obtained.

The Chinese owners and investors replaced ageing machinery and brought in, often illegally, tens of thousands of skilled Chinese seamstresses as a labor force. By the end of last year when the virus first struck China, direct flights from Wuhan to Lombardy served the roughly 300,000 Chinese residents of Italy who mostly work in Chinese-owned factories producing Chinese inspired Made in Italy designs. It is widely believed, though not confirmed by the Rome government, that the first infections by coronavirus in Italy, attributed to visiting “tourists,” actually may have taken place in crowded dormitories where Chinese shift workers from Wuhan dined and slept.

In less than a year, however, Italians have come to realize that a tight economic embrace with Beijing also has a downside. Italy’s trade gap with China has gone up, not down and much promised investment in new enterprises has failed to materialize. But even as the dust cleared, the results derived from opening the door to China were not pretty. By 2016, Chinese acquisitions had exceeded 52 billion EUROS, giving them ownership of more than 300 companies representing 27% of major Italian corporations.

The Bank of China now owns five major banks in Italy as well as the major telecommunication corporation (Telecom) and the two top energy utilities (ENI and ENEL). China also has controlling interest in Fiat-Chrysler and Pirelli.

More recently, Italian government views on China’s human rights record in Hong Kong have hardened and the country’s legislature has rejected overtures by the Chinese telecommunications conglomerate Huawei to have a major role in developing the country’s new 5G technology. One might observe, however, that the barn door is being closed after the horse has already escaped.

To limit the damage, the Chinese have sweetened their economic expansion into Western Europe by carefully integrating trade with humanitarian initiatives to make the transformation palatable to the local populations. The Health Silk Road initiative is a major exercise of soft power which has, in the current crisis, provided various forms of emergency medical assistance to a number of European nations. In doing so, it has done more than the European Union or the United States. Italy currently has three Chinese medical teams assisting its doctors in and around Milan and has benefited from airlifted medical supplies to include millions of masks and testing kits.

China is not doing what it does for altruistic reasons. It sees itself as the major economic driver of a new globalism, displacing an increasingly foundering and incapable United States, which has dominated world finance and commerce since the Second World War. For China COVID-19 is seen as an opportunity to reconfigure the playing field in its favor.

The experience of Italy, which may have become an epicenter for the virus due to its close commercial and personal ties to China, is illustrative of how globalism and free trade being promoted by a number of engaged groups in many countries can be exploited to create a new reality. Beijing is shaping that reality while the U.S. and E.U. stand on the sideline and watch.

PEPE ESCOBAR: Who Profits from the Pandemic?

April 08, 2020

Pepe Escobar looks at a frightening future that might follow the already terrifying Covid-19 global outbreak. 

By Pepe Escobar
in Bangkok
Special to Consortium News

You don’t need to read Michel Foucault’s work on biopolitics to understand that neoliberalism – in deep crisis since at least 2008 – is a control/governing technique in which surveillance capitalism is deeply embedded.

But now, with the world-system collapsing at breathtaking speed, neoliberalism is at a loss to deal with the next stage of dystopia, ever present in our hyper-connected angst: global mass unemployment.

Henry Kissinger, anointed oracle/gatekeeper of the ruling class, is predictably scared. He claims that, “sustaining the public trust is crucial to social solidarity.” He’s convinced the Hegemon should “safeguard the principles of the liberal world order.” Otherwise, “failure could set the world on fire.”

That’s so quaint. Public trust is dead across the spectrum. The liberal world “order” is now social Darwinist chaos. Just wait for the fire to rage.

The numbers are staggering. The Japan-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), in its annual economic report, may not have been exactly original. But it did note that the impact of the “worst pandemic in a century” will be as high as $4.1 trillion, or 4.8 percent of global GDP.

This an underestimation, as “supply disruptions, interrupted remittances, possible social and financial crises, and long-term effects on health care and education are excluded from the analysis.”

We cannot even start to imagine the cataclysmic social consequences of the crash. Entire sub-sectors of the global economy may not be recomposed at all.  

The International Labor Organization (ILO) forecasts global unemployment at a conservative, additonal 24.7 million people – especially in aviation, tourism and hospitality.

The global aviation industry is a humongous $2.7 trillion business. That’s 3.6 percent of global GDP. It employs 2.7 million people. When you add air transport and tourism —everything from hotels and restaurants to theme parks and museums — it accounts for a minimum of 65.5 million jobs around the world.

According to the ILO, income losses for workers may range from $860 billion to an astonishing $3.4 trillion. “Working poverty” will be the new normal – especially across the Global South.

“Working poor,” in ILO terminology, means employed people living in households with a per capita income below the poverty line of $2 a day. As many as an additional 35 million people worldwide will become working poor in 2020. 

Switching to feasible perspectives for global trade, it’s enlightening to examine that this report about how the economy may rebound is centered on the notorious hyperactive merchants and traders of Yiwu in eastern China – the world’s busiest small-commodity, business hub.

Their experience spells out a long and difficult recovery. As the rest of the world is in a coma, Lu Ting, chief China economist at Nomura in Hong Kong stresses that China faces a 30 percent decline in external demand at least until next Fall.

Neoliberalism in Reverse?

San Miguel, Bulacan, Philippines, 2016. (Judgefloro, CC0, Wikimedia Commons)

In the next stage, the strategic competition between the U.S. and China will be no-holds-barred, as emerging narratives of China’s new, multifaceted global role – on trade, technology, cyberspace, climate change – will set in, even more far-reaching than the New Silk Roads. That will also be the case in global public health policies. Get ready for an accelerated Hybrid War between the “Chinese virus” narrative and the Health Silk Road.

The latest report by the China Institute of International Studies would be quite helpful for the West — hubris permitting — to understand how Beijing adopted key measures putting the health and safety of the general population first. 

Now, as the Chinese economy slowly picks up, hordes of fund managers from across Asia are tracking everything from trips on the metro to noodle consumption to preview what kind of economy may emerge post-lockdown.

In contrast, across the West, the prevailing doom and gloom elicited a priceless editorial from The Financial Times. Like James Brown in the 1980s Blues Brothers pop epic, the City of London seems to have seen the light, or at least giving the impression it really means it. Neoliberalism in reverse. New social contract. “Secure” labor markets. Redistribution.

Cynics won’t be fooled. The cryogenic state of the global economy spells out a vicious Great Depression 2.0 and an unemployment tsunami. The plebs eventually reaching for the pitchforks and the AR-15s en masse is now a distinct possibility. Might as well start throwing a few breadcrumbs to the beggars’ banquet. 

That may apply to European latitudes. But the American story is in a class by itself.

Mural, Seattle, February 2017. (Mitchell Haindfield, Flickr)

For decades, we were led to believe that the world-system put in place after WWII provided the U.S. with unrivalled structural power. Now, all that’s left is structural fragility, grotesque inequalities, unpayable Himalayas of debt, and a rolling crisis.

No one is fooled anymore by the Fed’s magic quantitative easing powers, or the acronym salad – TALF, ESF, SPV – built into the Fed/U.S. Treasury exclusive obsession with big banks, corporations and the Goddess of the Market, to the detriment of the average American.   

It was only a few months ago that a serious discussion evolved around the $2.5 quadrillion derivatives market imploding and collapsing the global economy, based on the price of oil skyrocketing, in case the Strait of Hormuz – for whatever reason – was shut down. 

Now it’s about Great Depression 2.0: the whole system crashing as a result of the shutdown of the global economy. The questions are absolutely legitimate: is the political and social cataclysm of the global economic crisis arguably a larger catastrophe than Covid-19 itself?  And will it provide an opportunity to end neoliberalism and usher in a more equitable system, or something even worse?

 ‘Transparent’ BlackRock

Wall Street, of course, lives in an alternative universe. In a nutshell, Wall Street turned the Fed into a hedge fund. The Fed is going to own at least two thirds of all U.S. Treasury bills in the market before the end of 2020.

The U.S. Treasury will be buying every security and loan in sight while the Fed will be the banker – financing the whole scheme.

So essentially this is a Fed/Treasury merger. A behemoth dispensing loads of helicopter money.

And the winner is BlackRock—the biggest money manager on the planet, with tentacles everywhere, managing the assets of over 170 pension funds, banks, foundations, insurance companies, in fact a great deal of the money in private equity and hedge funds. BlackRock — promising to be fully  “transparent” — will buy these securities and manage those dodgy SPVs on behalf of the Treasury.

BlackRock, founded in 1988 by Larry Fink, may not be as big as Vanguard, but it’s the top investor in Goldman Sachs, along with Vanguard and State Street, and with $6.5 trillion in assets, bigger than Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank combined. 

Now, BlackRock is the new operating system (OS) of the Fed and the Treasury. The world’s biggest shadow bank – and no, it’s not Chinese.

Compared to this high-stakes game, mini-scandals such as the one around Georgia Senator Kelly Loffler are peanuts. Loffler allegedly profited from inside information on Covid-19 by the CDC to make a stock market killing. Loffler is married to Jeffrey Sprecher – who happens to be the chairman of the NYSE, installed by Goldman Sachs. 

While corporate media followed this story like headless chickens, post-Covid-19 plans, in Pentagon parlance, “move forward” by stealth. 

The price? A meager $1,200 check per person for a month. Anyone knows that, based on median salary income, a typical American family would need $12,000 to survive for two months. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in an act of supreme effrontry, allows them a mere 10 percent of that. So American taxpayers will be left with a tsunami of debt while selected Wall Street players grab the whole loot, part of an unparalleled transfer of wealth upwards, complete with bankruptcies en masse of small and medium businesses.

Fink’s letter to his shareholders almost gives the game away: “I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”

And right on cue, he forecasted that, “in the near future – and sooner than most anticipate – there will be a significant reallocation of capital.”

He was referring, then, to climate change. Now that refers to Covid-19.

Implant Our Nanochip, Or Else?

West Virginia National Guard members reporting to a Charleston nursing home to assist with Covid-19 testing. April 6, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard, Edwin L. Wriston)

The game ahead for the elites, taking advantage of the crisis, might well contain these four elements: a social credit system, mandatory vaccination, a digital currency and a Universal Basic Income (UBI). This is what used to be called, according to the decades-old, time-tested CIA playbook, a “conspiracy theory.” Well, it might actually happen.

A social credit system is something that China set up already in 2014. Before the end of 2020, every Chinese citizen will be assigned his/her own credit score – a de facto “dynamic profile”, elaborated with extensive use of AI and the internet of things (IoT), including ubiquitous facial recognition technology. This implies, of course, 24/7 surveillance, complete with Blade Runner-style roving robotic birds.

The U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Russia and India may not be far behind. Germany, for instance, is tweaking its universal credit rating system, SCHUFA. France has an ID app very similar to the Chinese model, verified by facial recognition.

Mandatory vaccination is Bill Gates’s dream, working in conjunction with the WHO, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Big Pharma. He wants “billions of doses” to be enforced over the Global South. And it could be a cover to everyone getting a digital implant.

Here it is, in his own words. At 34:15: “Eventually what we’ll have to have is certificates of who’s a recovered person, who’s a vaccinated person…Because you don’t want people moving around the world where you’ll have some countries that won’t have it under control, sadly. You don’t want to completely block off the ability for people to go there and come back and move around.”

Then comes the last sentence which was erased from the official TED video. This was noted by Rosemary Frei, who has a master on molecular biology and is an independent investigative journalist in Canada. Gates says: “So eventually there will be this digital immunity proof that will help facilitate the global reopening up.”

This “digital immunity proof” is crucial to keep in mind, something that could be misused by the state for nefarious purposes.

The three top candidates to produce a coronavirus vaccine are American biotech firm Moderna, as well as Germans CureVac and BioNTech.

Digital cash might then become an offspring of blockchain. Not only the U.S., but China and Russia are also interested in a national crypto-currency. A global currency – of course controlled by central bankers – may soon be adopted in the form of a basket of currencies, and would circulate virtually. Endless permutations of the toxic cocktail of IoT, blockchain technology and the social credit system could loom ahead.

Already Spain has announced that it is introducing UBI, and wants it to be permanent. It’s a form insurance for the elite against social uprisings, especially if millions of jobs never come back.

So the key working hypothesis is that Covid-19 could be used as cover for the usual suspects to bring in a new digital financial system and a mandatory vaccine with a “digital identity” nanochip with dissent not tolerated: what Slavoj Zizek calls the “erotic dream” of every totalitarian government.

Yet underneath it all, amid so much anxiety, a pent-up rage seems to be gathering strength, to eventually explode in unforeseeable ways. As much as the system may be changing at breakneck speed, there’s no guarantee even the 0.1 percent will be safe. 

Pepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times. His latest book is “2030.” Follow him on Facebook.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

«تايتانك» أميركا تغرق والربيع الصينيّ يجتاح العالم!

محمد صادق الحسيني

كلّ شيء في زمن الكورونا يشي بانهيار منظومة أو معادلة المنتصرين في الحرب العالمية الثانية وتبلور منظومة جديدة بديلة لها رويداً رويداً..!

إنّ الصراع الدولي المحتدم، بين قوى الإمبريالية العالمية بقيادة الولايات المتحدة والدول الداعية الى إقامة علاقات دولية قائمة على المنافع المشتركة بعيداً عن روح الهيمنة والسيطرة على ثروات الشعوب ومنع استكمال الدول لسيادتها على أراضيها وثرواتها ومسيرتها المستقبلية، التي تحدد استقلالها الاقتصادي وتأمين نمو وتطور شعوبها من عدمه، في ظلّ اجتياح وباء كورونا لمعظم دول العالم قد بدأ يأخذ أبعاداً استراتيجية ستقود العالم الى تغييرات جذرية في قيادته.

وأولى نتائجه الحتمية ستكون إنهاء سيطرة الولايات المتحدة على القرار الدولي وعلى قيادة العالم، وهو تحوّل نوعي لم يحدث منذ انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي حتى الآن.

فالولايات المتحدة، التي ظلّ ينكر رئيسها بكلّ صلف وعنصرية وجود وباء كورونا حتى قبل أيّام، أصبحت هي المركز الرئيسي لهذا الوباء في العالم، مما جعلها في موقف أكثر ضعفاً في حروبها التجارية ضدّ الصين وفي فرض عقوباتها على روسيا وإيران وسورية وغيرها من الدول. فها هي مجموعة الـ 77 وغيرها من القوى الدولية تطالب الولايات المتحدة بإنهاء عقوباتها ضدّ إيران وغيرها. كما انّ الصين وروسيا كانتا تناديان بذلك منذ أمد بعيد.

من جهة أخرى فإنّ مظاهر الضعف، التي تعاني منها واشنطن، لا تقتصر فقط على فشلها في التصدي لوباء كورونا في الولايات والمدن الأميركية، إنما كذلك في فشلها الذريع في حماية العسكريين الأميركيين من هذا الوباء. فبعد إصابة أكثر من 1500 من موظفي البنتاغون بوباء كورونا ها هم جنود البحريه الأميركية، على متن حاملة الطائرات الأميركية، ثيودور روزفلت، المنتشرة في غرب المحيط الهادئ (جزيرة غوام) مع مجموعتها القتالية، التي تعمل بالطاقة النووية، وعلى متنها 5000 بحار أصيب عدد منهم بالوباء مما اضطر قائد الحاملة، الكابتن بريت كروزيير، إلى طلب الاستغاثة من مسؤوليه والذين أصدروا أمراً بطرده قبل يومين، من سلاح البحرية الأميركية، بدل إغاثته، ولكنهم اضطروا، على الرغم من ذلك، الى إخلاء أربعة آلاف من أولئك البحارة وإخضاعهم للحجر.

ولم يقف الأمر عند حاملة الطائرات، ثيودور روزفلت، بل إنّ عدداً من بحارة حاملة الطائرات الأميركية، رونالد ريغان، المنتشرة مع مجموعتها القتالية، كجزء من الأسطول السابع الأميركي، في قاعدة يوكوسوكا Yukosuka البحرية في اليابان وقد اضطرت قيادة سلاح البحرية الأميركية الى إخلاء الآلاف من بحارتها الى اليابسة وإخضاعهم للحجر أيضاً.

ولكن ما علاقة هذا بذاك؟ أيّ ما هي العلاقة بين إصابات الجنود الأميركيين بوباء كورونا وصراع بلادهم مع الصين حول قيادة العالم؟

لتوضيح هذه العلاقة لا بدّ من الإضاءة على بعض النقاط المهمة، التي لا تُرى بالعين المجردة، تماماً كما هو حال فيروس كورونا. ومن بين أهمّ هذه النقاط ما يلي:

1

ـ إنّ إصابة قرابة عشرة آلاف بحار أميركي، في المحيط الهادئ وبحر اليابان، بوباء كورونا وخروجهم من الخدمة عملياً، يعني أنّ حاملتي طائرات أميركيتين في تلك المنطقة، على متنهما حوالي 180 طائرة حربية قد خرجتا من الخدمة أيضاً. وهو الأمر الذي يشكل خللاً كبيراً في ميزان القوى العسكري، بين الصين وروسيا من جهة والولايات المتحدة وحلفائها من جهة أخرى.

خاصة أنّ القوات البحرية الصينية، المنتشرة في بحر الصين الشرقي وبحر الصين الجنوبي، ومعها سلاح البحرية الروسية، في غرب المحيط الهادئ، أيّ في المنطقة العسكرية الروسية الجنوبية الشرقية/ مقاطعة فلاديفوستوك، الى جانب سلاح البحرية والقوة الصاروخية في كوريا الشمالية. كلّ هذه القوات تحاصر، استراتيجياً، القوات الأميركية المنتشرة في غرب المحيط الهادئ وفي عمقه الشرقي، باتجاه سواحل الولايات المتحدة الغربية، وكذلك تلك القوات المنتشرة في بحر اليابان. الأمر الذي يجعل القوات الأميركية، في مسرح العمليات المذكور أعلاه، تواجه العديد من المشاكل التي تجعل وضعها غاية في الصعوبة، في حال حصول نزاع مسلح مع تلك المنطقة. او بالأحرى في حال قرّرت الولايات المتحدة التحرّش عسكرياً بالصين او التعرّض لقواتها البحرية في بحار الصين.

2

ـ أما النقطة الثانية، التي تجب الإضاءة عليها، فهي انّ السيطرة السريعة للدولة الصينية على وباء كورونا وحصر انتشاره بشكل كامل في مناطق صغيرة نسبياً من الصين، ومنع انتشاره بين أفراد القوات المسلحة الصينية، بكلّ صنوفها، أفشلت مشاريع المخططين العسكريين الاستراتيجيين الأميركيين، الذين كانوا يأملون غير ذلك ويمنون النفس بانتشار الوباء بشكل واسع بين أفراد الجيش الصيني، وبشكل يؤدّي الى شلل في قدراته الصاروخية والبحرية، خاصة في منطقة أرخبيل سِنكاكو (Senkaku) شمال شرق جزيرة تايوان، المنشقة عن الصين الأمّ والمدعومة اميركياً، مما يجعل نجاح الولايات المتحدة في تنفيذ اعتداءات عسكرية ضدّ الصين الشعبية ممكناً.

3

ـ وهنا، عندما انقلب السحر على الساحر، وفشلت مخططاتهم، بدأت القوى الخفية، التي تحكم الولايات المتحدة، وتحرك الكثير مما يطلق عليه في واشنطن مراكز صنع القرار، بدأت تلك القوى بشنّ حملة إعلامية مركزة، في وسائل إعلام أميركية وأوروبية، تركز فيها على مخططات الصين لمهاجمة جزيرة تايوان المنشقة ونشر المزيد من القوات البحرية، الرديفة لسلاح البحرية الصيني، وهي قوات تنتشر على طول بحار الصين وعرضها، وخاصة في مناطق جزر باراسيل (Paracels) بحر الصين الجنوبي وجزر سِنكاكو، في جنوب بحر الصين الشرقي، وهي جزر صينية خالصة. ولكن الولايات المتحده تتهم الصين بنشر القوات البحرية الرديفة (عبارة عن جيش من الصيادين مقَسَّم الى مجموعات صغيرة مجهّزة بزوارق صيد… ايّ ما يشبه جيش الزوارق السريعة الإيرانية ولكن على نطاق أوسع بكثير)، نقول إنّ واشنطن تتهم بكين بنشر هذه القوات لتثبيت سيطرتها على الجزر الصناعية، التي أقامتها الصين في بحارها لتعزيز أمنها، والتمهيد لغزو جزيرة تايوان وضمّها للصين الأمّ… أو للبرّ الصيني.

4

ـ وبناءً على ما تقدّم فإنّ النتيجة النهائية، قريبة المنال، في الصراع الدولي على بحار العالم، وبالتالي على مقدّرات هذا العالم، إذ ستكون بالتأكيد لصالح المحور المعادي للهيمنة الاستعمارية الأميركية. وستضطر الولايات المتحدة، مجبرة، للبدء في سحب قواتها البحرية والجوية من كلّ البحار المُشار اليها أعلاه دون قيد أو شرط، وعلى عكس ما تريده واشنطن تماماً. اذ انّ المخططات الأميركية تهدف الى إخضاع الصين وإرغامها على التفاوض مع الولايات المتحدة، تماماً كما هو الحال الذين تتمنّاه مع إيران، من موقف الضعيف.

5

ـ لكن الصين، كما تؤكد الوقائع في العلاقات الدولية الحالية، قد تجاوزت هذه المرحلة (مرحلة الخضوع للضغوط) بكثير، وبدأت هجوم الربيع في كامل مسرح المواجهة الدولي مع الولايات المتحدة. فها هو طريقها الواحد وحزامها الواحد يتفرّع الى طرق عدة وأحزمة عدة. فهناك الطريق البري، من بكين الى مدريد، وهناك الطريق البحري من موانئ الصين المختلفة الى مرسيليا الفرنسية، وهناك الجسور الجوية الى مختلف الاتجاهات وكلها تنقل المساعدات والتجهيزات الطبية الصينية لمساعدة شعوب العالم على الانتصار على الوباء المنتشر حالياً. وهذا يعني، بالترجمة الفعلية الدقيقة أنّ الصين قد بدأت في الجلوس على عرش العالم، المستند الى التعاون الدولي الحقيقي والمثمر، وفي ظلّ انكفاء كامل للولايات المتحدة الأميركية عن المسرح الدولي، إذا ما استثنينا أعمال القرصنة الجوية التي تمارسها إدارة واشنطن، لسرقة التجهيزات الطبية الصينية المرسلة الى شعوب العالم، كما حصل مع الطائرة التي كانت تحمل شحنة كبيرة من هذه التجهيزات وتتجه الى ألمانيا عندما استولت عليها، قبل يومين، جهات أميركية مجهولة، في مطار بانكوك وحوّلت اتجاهها عنوة إلى أميركا. وهو الأمر نفسه الذي حصل مع شحنة مساعدات كندية متجهة الى فرنسا تمّت قرصنتها، من قبل واشنطن، قبل أيّام في كندا.

6

ـ كما تجب ملاحظة أنّ هجوم الربيع الصيني هذا لا يقتصر على المساعدات الإنسانية والطارئة فحسب، بل انه يمتدّ الى مجالات الاستثمار المستدام، في طيف واسع من المشاريع الإنتاجية والخدمية، التي تعزّز اقتصاد الدول النامية وتبني قاعدة لاستقلال وطني حقيقي لهذه الدول وانفكاكها من نير الاملاءات الأميركية.

فها هو البنك الدولي يؤكد في آخر إحصائية له، حول الاستثمارات الصينية، إنّ مجموع ما استثمرته الصين في الدول الأفريقيّة، قد وصل الى 208 مليارات دولار… إضافة الى استثماراتها في العديد من الدول الأخرى ومن بينها دولة الاحتلال الإسرائيليّ. إذ إنّ الجهات التنمويّة المعنيّة في الصين قد استثمرت مبالغ كبيرة في ميناء حيفا الفلسطيني المحتلّ، كما استثمرت بقوّة في قطاع الصناعات الدوائيّة، واستحوذت على كبريات مصانع الأدوية هناك. وهي استثمارات استراتيجيّة أثارت غضب سيد البيت الأبيض. إلا أنّ حكومة الاحتلال وافقت عليها، رغم أنها أشدّ التصاقاً بالسيّد الأميركي، من بعض الأذناب العرب الذين يرفضون فتح باب التعاون مع الاستثمارات الصينية، رغم أنها غير مشروطة على الإطلاق ولا ترتبط بأيّ أهداف سياسية، سوى تمتين العلاقات الدولية على قاعدة المصالح المتبادلة.

وتلك الأيام نداولها بين الناس.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

The Afghanistan ‘peace deal’ riddle

Pepe Escobar for the Saker Blog : Posted with permission 

As far as realpolitik Afghanistan is concerned, with or without a deal, the US military want to stay in what is a priceless Greater Middle East base to deploy hybrid war techniques

In this photo taken on February 21, youths and peace activists gather as they celebrate the reduction in violence, in Kandahar. A week-long partial truce took hold across Afghanistan on February 22, with some jubilant civilians dancing in the streets as the war-weary country prepared for this coming Saturday’s planned agreement on a peace deal between the Taliban and the United States. Photo: AFP / Javed Tanveer

Nearly two decades after the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan post-9/11, and after an interminable war costing over $ 2 trillion, there’s hardly anything “historic” about a possible peace deal that may be signed in Doha this coming Saturday between Washington and the Taliban.

We should start by stressing three points.

1- The Taliban wanted all US troops out. Washington refused.

2- The possible deal only reduces US troops from 13,000 to 8,600. That’s the same number already deployed before the Trump administration.

3- The reduction will only happen a year and a half from now – assuming what’s being described as a truce holds.

So there would be no misunderstanding, Taliban Deputy Leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, in an op-ed certainly read by everyone inside the Beltway, detailed their straightforward red line: total US withdrawal.

And Haqqani is adamant: there’s no peace deal if US troops stay.

Still, a deal looms. How come? Simple: enter a series of secret “annexes.”

The top US negotiator, the seemingly eternal Zalmay Khalilzad, a remnant of the Clinton and Bush eras, has spent months codifying these annexes – as confirmed by a source in Kabul currently not in government but familiar with the negotiations.

Let’s break them down to four points.

1- US counter-terror forces would be allowed to stay. Even if approved by the Taliban leadership, this would be anathema to the masses of Taliban fighters.

2- The Taliban would have to denounce terrorism and violent extremism. That’s rhetorical, not a problem.

3- There will be a scheme to monitor the so-called truce while different warring Afghan factions discuss the future, what the US State Dept. describes as “intra-Afghan negotiations.” Culturally, as we’ll see later, Afghans of different ethnic backgrounds will have a tremendously hard time monitoring their own warring.

4- The CIA would be allowed to do business in Taliban-controlled areas. That’s an even more hardcore anathema. Everyone familiar with post-9/11 Afghanistan knows that the prime reason for CIA business is the heroin rat line that finances Langley’s black ops, as I exposed in 2017.

Otherwise, everything about this “historic” deal remains quite vague.

Even Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was forced to admit the war in Afghanistan is “still” in “a state of strategic stalemate.”

As for the far from strategic financial disaster, one just needs to peruse the latest SIGAR report. SIGAR stands for Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. In fact virtually nothing in Afghanistan has been “reconstructed.”

No real deal without Iran

The “intra-Afghan” mess starts with the fact that Ashraf Ghani eventually was declared the winner of the presidential elections held in September last year. But virtually no one recognizes him.

The Taliban don’t talk to Ghani. Only to some people that are part of the government in Kabul. And they describe these talks at best as between “ordinary Afghans.”

Everyone familiar with Taliban strategy knows US/NATO troops will never be allowed to stay. What could happen is the Taliban allowing some sort of face-saving contingent to remain for a few months, and then a very small contingent stays to protect the US embassy in Kabul.

Washington will obviously reject this possibility. The alleged “truce” will be broken. Trump, pressured by the Pentagon, will send more troops. And the infernal spiral will be back on track.

Another major hole in the possible deal is that the Americans completely ignored Iran in their negotiations in Doha.

That’s patently absurd. Teheran is a key strategic partner to its neighbor Kabul. Apart from the millenary historical/cultural/social connections, there are at least 3.5 million Afghan refugees in Iran.

Post 9-11, Tehran slowly but surely started cultivating relations with the Taliban – but not at a military/weaponizing level, according to Iranian diplomats. In Beirut last September, and then in Nur-Sultan in November, I was provided a clear picture of where discussions about Afghanistan stand.

The Russian connection to the Taliban goes through Tehran. Taliban leaders have frequent contacts with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Only last year, Russia held two conferences in Moscow between Taliban political leaders and mujahideen. The Russians were engaged into bringing Uzbeks into the negotiations. At the same time, some Taliban leaders met with Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) operatives four times in Tehran, in secret.

The gist of all these discussions was “to find a conflict resolution outside of Western patterns”, according to an Iranian diplomat. They were aiming at some sort of federalism: the Taliban plus the mujahideen in charge of the administration of some vilayets.

The bottom line is that Iran has better connections in Afghanistan than Russia and China. And this all plays within the much larger scope of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Russia-China strategic partnership wants an Afghan solution coming from inside the SCO, of which both Iran and Afghanistan are observers. Iran may become a full SCO member if it holds on to the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, until October – thus still not subjected to UN sanctions.

All these actors want US troops out – for good. So the solution always points towards a decentralized federation. According to an Afghan diplomat, the Taliban seem ready to share power with the Northern Alliance. The spanner in the works is the Hezb-e-Islami, with one Jome Khan Hamdard, a commander allied with notorious mujahid Gulbudiin Hekmatyar, based in Mazar-i-Sharif and supported by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, more interested in restarting a civil war.

Understanding Pashtunistan

Here’s a blast from the past, reliving the context of the Taliban visit to Houston, and showing how things have not changed much since the first Clinton administration. It’s always a matter of the Taliban getting their cut – at the time related to Pipelineistan business, now to their reaffirmation of what can be described as Pashtunistan.

Not every Pashtun is a Taliban, but the overwhelming majority of Taliban are Pashtuns.

The Washington establishment never did their “know your enemy” homework, trying to understand how Pashtuns from extremely diverse groups are linked by a common system of values establishing their ethnic foundation and necessary social rules. That’s the essence of their code of conduct – the fascinating, complex Pashtunwali. Although it incorporates numerous Islamic elements, Pashtunwali is in total contradiction with Islamic law on many points.

Islam did introduce key moral elements to Pashtun society. But there are also juridical norms, imposed by a hereditary nobility, that support the whole edifice and that came from the Turko-Mongols.

Pashtuns – a tribal society – have a deep aversion to the Western concept of the state. Central power can only expect to neutralize  them with – to put it bluntly – bribes. That’s what passes as a sort of system of government in Afghanistan. Which brings the question of how much – and with what – the US is now bribing the Taliban.

Afghan political life, in practice, works out from actors that are factions, sub-tribes, “Islamic coalitions” or regional groups.

Since 1996, and up to 9/11, the Taliban incarnated the legitimate return of Pashtuns as the dominant element in Afghanistan. That’s why they instituted an emirate and not a republic, more appropriate for a Muslim community ruled only by religious legislation. The diffidence towards cities, particularly Kabul, also expresses the sentiment of Pashtun superiority over other Afghan ethnic groups.

The Taliban do represent a process of overcoming tribal identity and the affirmation of Pashtunistan. The Beltway never understood this powerful dynamic – and that’s one of the key reasons for the American debacle.

Lapis Lazuli corridor

Afghanistan is at the center of the new American strategy for Central Asia, as in “expand and maintain support for stability in Afghanistan” coupled with an emphasis to “encourage connectivity between Central Asia and Afghanistan.”

In practice, the Trump administration wants the five Central Asian “stans” to bet on integration projects such as the CASA-1000 electricity project and the Lapis Lazuli trade corridor, which is in fact a reboot of the Ancient Silk Road, connecting Afghanistan to Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia before crossing the Black Sea to Turkey and then all the way to the EU.

But the thing is Lapis Lazuli is already bound to integrate with Turkey’s Middle Corridor, which is part of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, as well as with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Plus, also part of Belt and Road. Beijing planned  this integration way before Washington.

The Trump administration is just stressing the obvious: a peaceful Afghanistan is essential for the integration process.

Andrew Korybko correctly argues that “Russia and China could make more progress on building the Golden Ring between themselves, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey by that time, thus ‘embracing’ Central Asia with potentially limitless opportunities that far surpass those that the US is offering or ‘encircling’ the region from a zero-sum American strategic perspective and ‘forcing’ it out.”

The late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski’s wishful thinking “Eurasian Balkans” scenario may be dead, but the myriad US divide-and-rule gambits imposed on the heartland have now mutated into hybrid war explicitly directed against China, Russia  and Iran – the three major nodes of Eurasia integration.

And that means that as far as realpolitik Afghanistan is concerned, with or without a deal, the US military have no intention to go anywhere. They want to stay – whatever it takes. Afghanistan is a priceless Greater Middle East base to deploy hybrid war techniques.

Pashtuns are certainly getting the message from key Shanghai Cooperation Organization players. The question is how they plan to run rings around Team Trump.

No Weapon Left Behind: The American Hybrid War on China

Pepe Escobar February 21, 2020

The New Silk Roads – or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – were launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, first in Central Asia (Nur-Sultan) and then Southeast Asia (Jakarta).

One year later, the Chinese economy overtook the U.S. on a PPP basis. Inexorably, year after year since the start of the millennium, the U.S. share of the global economy shrinks while China’s increases.

China is already the key hub of the global economy and the leading trade partner of nearly 130 nations.

While the U.S. economy is hollowed out, and the casino financing of the U.S. government – repo markets and all – reads as a dystopian nightmare, the civilization-state steps ahead in myriad areas of technological research, not least because of Made in China 2025.

China largely beats the U.S. on patent filings and produces at least 8 times as many STEM graduates a year than the U.S., earning the status of top contributor to global science.

A vast array of nations across the Global South signed on to be part of BRI, which is planned for completion in 2049. Last year alone, Chinese companies signed contracts worth up to $128 billion in large-scale infrastructure projects in dozen of nations.

The only economic competitor to the U.S. is busy reconnecting most of the world to a 21st century, fully networked version of a trade system that was at its peak for over a millennia: the Eurasian Silk Roads.

Inevitably this state of things is something interlocking sectors of the U.S. ruling class simply would not accept.

Branding BRI as a “pandemic”

As the usual suspects fret over the “stability” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Xi Jinping administration, the fact is the Beijing leadership has had to deal with an accumulation of extremely severe issues: a swine-flu epidemic killing half the stock; the Trump-concocted trade war; Huawei accused of racketeering and about to be prevented from buying U.S. made chips; bird flu; coronavirus virtually shutting down half of China.

Add to it the incessant United States government Hybrid War propaganda barrage, trespassed by acute Sinophobia; everyone from sociopathic “officials” to self-titled councilors are either advising corporate businesses to divert global supply chains out of China or concocting outright calls for regime change – with every possible demonization in between.

There are no holds barred in the all-out offensive to kick the Chinese government while it’s down.

A Pentagon cipher at the Munich Security Conference once again declares China as the greatest threat, economically and militarily, to the U.S. – and by extension the West, forcing a wobbly EU already subordinated to NATO to be subservient to Washington on this remixed Cold War 2.0.

The whole U.S. corporate media complex repeats to exhaustion that Beijing is “lying” and losing control. Descending to sub-gutter, racist levels, hacks even accuse BRI itself of being a pandemic, with China “impossible to quarantine”.

All that is quite rich, to say the least, oozing from lavishly rewarded slaves of an unscrupulous, monopolistic, extractive, destructive, depraved, lawless oligarchy which uses debt offensively to boost their unlimited wealth and power while the lowly U.S. and global masses use debt defensively to barely survive. As Thomas Piketty has conclusively shown, inequality always relies on ideology.

We’re deep into a vicious intel war. From the point of view of Chinese intelligence, the current toxic cocktail simply cannot be attributed to just a random series of coincidences. Beijing has serial motives to piece this extraordinary chain of events as part of a coordinated Hybrid War, Full Spectrum Dominance attack on China.

Enter the Dragon Killer working hypothesis: a bio-weapon attack capable of causing immense economic damage but protected by plausible deniability. The only possible move by the “indispensable nation” on the New Great Game chessboard, considering that the U.S. cannot win a conventional war on China, and cannot win a nuclear war on China.

A biological warfare weapon?

On the surface, coronavirus is a dream bio-weapon for those fixated on wreaking havoc across China and praying for regime change.

Yet it’s complicated. This report is a decent effort trying to track the origins of coronavirus. Now compare it with the insights by Dr. Francis Boyle, international law professor at the University of Illinois and author, among others, of Biowarfare and Terrorism. He’s the man who drafted the U.S. Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 signed into law by George H. W. Bush.

Dr. Boyle is convinced coronavirus is an

“offensive biological warfare weapon” that leaped out of the Wuhan BSL-4 laboratory, although he’s “not saying it was done deliberately.”

Dr. Boyle adds, “all these BSL-4 labs by United States, Europe, Russia, China, Israel are all there to research, develop, test biological warfare agents. There’s really no legitimate scientific reason to have BSL-4 labs.” His own research led to a whopping $100 billion, by 2015, spent by the United States government on bio-warfare research: “We have well over 13,000 alleged life science scientists… testing biological weapons here in the United States. Actually this goes back and it even precedes 9/11.”

Dr. Boyle directly accuses “the Chinese government under Xi and his comrades” of a cover up “from the get-go. The first reported case was December 1, so they’d been sitting on this until they couldn’t anymore. And everything they’re telling you is a lie. It’s propaganda.”

The World Health Organization (WHO), for Dr. Boyle, is also on it: “They’ve approved many of these BSL-4 labs (…) Can’t trust anything the WHO says because they’re all bought and paid for by Big Pharma and they work in cahoots with the CDC, which is the United States government, they work in cahoots with Fort Detrick.” Fort Detrick, now a cutting-edge bio-warfare lab, previously was a notorious CIA den of mind control “experiments”.

Relying on decades of research in bio-warfare, the U.S. Deep State is totally familiar with all bio-weapon overtones. From Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Korea, Vietnam and Fallujah, the historical record shows the United States government does not blink when it comes to unleashing weapons of mass destruction on innocent civilians.

For its part, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has spent a fortune researching bats, coronaviruses and gene-editing bio-weapons. Now, conveniently – as if this was a form of divine intervention – DARPA’s “strategic allies” have been chosen to develop a genetic vaccine.

The 1996 neocon Bible, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), unambiguously stated, “advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”

There’s no question coronavirus, so far, has been a Heaven-sent politically useful tool, reaching, with minimum investment, the desired targets of maximized U.S. global power – even if fleetingly, enhanced by a non-stop propaganda offensive – and China relatively isolated with its economy semi paralyzed.

Yet perspective is in order. The CDC estimated that up to 42.9 million people got sick during the 2018-2019 flu season in the U.S. No less than 647,000 people were hospitalized. And 61,200 died.

This report details the Chinese “people’s war” against coronavirus.

It’s up to Chinese virologists to decode its arguably synthetic origin. How China reacts, depending on the findings, will have earth-shattering consequences – literally.

Setting the stage for the Raging Twenties

After managing to reroute trade supply chains across Eurasia to its own advantage and hollow out the Heartland, American – and subordinated Western – elites are now staring into a void. And the void is staring back. A “West” ruled by the U.S. is now faced with irrelevance. BRI is in the process of reversing at least two centuries of Western dominance.

There’s no way the West and especially the “system leader” U.S. will allow it. It all started with dirty ops stirring trouble across the periphery of Eurasia – from Ukraine to Syria to Myanmar.

Now it’s when the going really gets tough. The targeted assassination of Maj. Gen. Soleimani plus coronavirus – the Wuhan flu – have really set up the stage for the Raging Twenties. The designation of choice should actually be WARS – Wuhan Acute Respiratory Syndrome. That would instantly give the game away as a War against Humanity – irrespective of where it came from.The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Tehran Wants to Build “the Golden Ring”

Statement of Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research, February 07, 2020

Featured image is from OneWorld

BRI-led Eurasian integration processes are one of the defining characteristics of contemporary International Relations, and the Golden Ring could eventually become the centerpiece of these efforts if Ambassador Hosseini’s W-CPEC+ proposal succeeds, especially if it’s done in parallel with N-CPEC+.

The Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan shared his visionary plans for CPEC+, the neologism that’s becoming popular in Pakistan nowadays to refer to the expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor along different geographic axes such as the northern (N-CPEC+), western (W-CPEC+), and southern (S-CPEC+) ones. Turkey’s Anadolou Agency reported on Ambassador Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini’s lecture at the Islamabad Strategic Studies Institute (ISSI) earlier this week, which deserves to be analyzed more in depth.

According to Ambassador Hosseini,

“Establishment of rail network between Gwadar and Chabahar and its link up to Europe and Central Asia through Iran, will usher major economic development in the region. On the other hand, construction of Railway track on Pakistani territory to China, linking the two ports will lead towards economic development in this region.” In practice, this would fulfill what the author wrote about W-CPEC+ in his CGTN analysis last April titled “CPEC+ is the key to achieving regional integration goals“.

In that piece, he wrote that

“Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s recent visit to Iran saw the two neighboring countries agreeing to deepen their cooperation with one another, which could foreseeably evolve to the point of a W-CPEC+ overland trade route eventually traveling through the Islamic Republic to Islamabad and Beijing’s partners in Turkey, which could be paired with a parallel maritime corridor connecting CPEC’s terminal point of Gwadar with the Gulf Kingdoms.”

That’s exactly what Ambassador Hosseini proposed during his lecture at ISSI (minus the part about the Gulf Kingdoms), which could revolutionize Iran’s geostrategic role in the emerging Multipolar World Order and consequently make it one of the most important countries of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) if successfully implemented with time. Not only could this have significant economic implications, but also significant political ones as well.

The Ambassador is also quoted by Anadolou Agency as saying that “Countries like Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Russia and China have the potential to form a new alliance for better future of the region”. While China and Russia eschew the term “alliance” to describe their close relations with other countries, the intent of his words is clear enough in that he’s calling for a strengthened strategic partnership between all five of those countries. This becomes a realistic possibility between China, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey if W-CPEC+ is completed.

As for Russia, it could be brought on board this ambitious connectivity proposal if W-CPEC+ is expanded to include it via Azerbaijan by following the path proposed by the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) that those two, Iran, and India are trying to build. Moreover, the pioneering of a Russia-Pakistan trade corridor via post-war Afghanistan and Central Asia (N-CPEC+) could greatly contribute to making Moscow a greater stakeholder in this CPEC-centric strategic quintet that some have called the “Golden Ring“.

BRI-led Eurasian integration processes are one of the defining characteristics of contemporary International Relations, and the Golden Ring could eventually become the centerpiece of these efforts if Ambassador Hosseini’s W-CPEC+ proposal succeeds, especially if it’s done in parallel with N-CPEC+. The five anchor states of this connectivity vision could be linked to one another and the states between them (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and the Central Asian Republics) through a multitude of rail and other transport corridors built by China.

Through these means, China would be functioning as the engine of Eurasian integration and tying all of the involved countries closer together in a Community of Shared Destiny. The complex interdependence that would emerge as a result of this vision would make each party greater stakeholders in one another’s success, with the construction of multilateral megaprojects giving their citizens unprecedented economic opportunities. The CPEC-centric Golden Ring would therefore strengthen stability in the geostrategic Heartland of Eurasia.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

China’s virus response has been ‘breathtaking’

Would Mao Zedong (pictured in background at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing) be happy with China’s attempt to win a ‘People’s War’ on the coronavirus? Photo: Nicolas Asfouri / AFP

January 31, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Chinese President Xi Jinping is leading a scientific ‘People’s War’ against the coronavirus

President Xi Jinping formally told WHO head Tedros Ghebreyesus, at their meeting in Beijing earlier this week, that the coronavirus epidemic “is a devil and we cannot allow the devil to hide.”

Ghebreyesus for his part could not but praise Beijing for its extremely swift, coordinated response strategy – which includes fast identification of the genome sequence. Chinese scientists have already handed over to Russian counterparts the virus genome, with snap tests able to identify it in a human body within two hours. A Russia-China vaccine is under development.

The devil, of course, is always in the details. In a matter of a few days, at the peak of the most congested travel period of the year, China did manage to quarantine an urban environment of over 56 million people, including megalopolis Wuhan and three nearby cities. This is an absolute first in terms of public health, anytime in history.

Wuhan, with a GDP growth of 8.5% a year, is a significant business center for China. It lies at the strategic crossroads of the Yangtze and Han rivers and at a railway crossroads as well – between the north-south axis linking Guangzhou to Beijing and the east-west axis linking Shanghai to Chengdu.

As premier Li Keqiang was sent to Wuhan, President Xi visited the strategic southern province of Yunnan, where he extolled the immense government apparatus to boost control and sanitary prevention mechanisms to limit propagation of the virus.

Coronavirus catches China at an extremely sensitive juncture – after the (failed) Hybrid War tactics displayed in Hong Kong; an American pro-Taiwan offensive; the trade war far from solved by a mere “phase 1” deal while more sanctions are being plotted against Huawei; and even the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, which ultimately is about targeting the expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Southwest Asia (Iran-Iraq-Syria).

The Big Picture spells out Total Information War and non-stop weaponization of the China “threat” – now even metastasized, with racist overtones, as a bio-threat. So how vulnerable is China?

A people’s war

For almost five years now a maximum-security biolab has been operating in Wuhan dedicated to the study of highly pathogenic micro-organisms – set up in partnership with France after the SARS epidemic. In 2017, Nature magazine was warning about the risks of dispersion of pathogenic agents out of this lab. Yet there’s no evidence this might have happened.

In crisis management terms, President Xi has lived up to the occasion – ensuring that China fights coronavirus with nearly total transparency (after all, the internet wall remains in place). Beijing has warned the whole government apparatus in no uncertain terms not to attempt any cover-ups. A real-time webpage, in English, here, is available to everyone. Whoever is not doing enough will face serious consequences. One can imagine what awaits the party chief in Hubei, Jiang Chaoliang.

A post that went viral all over the mainland this past Sunday states, “We in Wuhan have truly entered the stage of people’s war against the new viral pneumonia”; and many people, “mainly Communist Party members” have been confirmed as “volunteers and observers according to street units.”

Crucially, the government directed everyone to install a “Wuhan Neighbors” applet downloaded from WeChat. That determines “our home’s quarantine address through satellite positioning, and then lock on our affiliated community organization and volunteers. Thenceforth, our social activities and information announcements would be connected to the system.”

Theoretically, this means that “anyone who develops a fever will report their condition through the network as soon as possible. The system will immediately provide an online diagnosis, and locate and register your quarantine address. If you need to see a doctor, your community will arrange a car to send you to the hospital through volunteers. At the same time, the system will track your progress: hospitalization, treatment at home, discharge, death, etc.”

So here we have millions of Chinese citizens totally mobilized in what’s routinely described as a “people’s war” using “high technology to fight against illness.” Millions are also drawing their own conclusions when comparing it with the use of app software to fight against the police in Hong Kong.

The biogenetic puzzle

Apart from crisis management, the speed of the Chinese scientific response has been breathtaking – and obviously not fully appreciated in an environment of Total Information War. Compare the Chinese performance with the American CDC, arguably the top infectious disease research agency in the world, with an $11 billion annual budget and 11,000 employees.

During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 – considered a maximum urgency, and facing a virus with a 90% fatality rate – the CDC took no less than two months from getting the first patient sample to identifying the complete genomic sequence. The Chinese did it in a few days.

During the swine flu in the US in 2009 – 55 million infected Americans, 11,000 killed – the CDC took over a month and a half to come up with identification kits.

The Chinese took only one week from the first patient sample to complete, vital identification and sequencing of coronavirus. Right away, they went for publication and deposit in the genomics library for immediate access by the whole planet. Based on this sequence, Chinese biotech companies produced validated essays within a week – also a first.

And we’re not even talking about the now notorious building of a brand new state of the art hospital in Wuhan in record time just to treat victims of coronavirus. No victims will pay for their treatment. Additionally, Healthy China 2030the reform of the health/development system, will be boosted.

Coronavirus opens a true Pandora’s box on biogenetics. Serious questions remain about experiences in vivo in which the consent of “patients” will not be required – considering the collective psychosis initially developed by Western corporate media and even the WHO around coronavirus. Coronavirus could well become a pretext for genetic experiments via vaccines.

Meanwhile, it’s always enlightening to remember Great Helmsman Mao Zedong. For Mao, the top two political variables were “independence” and “development.” That implies full sovereignty. As Xi seems determined to prove a sovereign civilization-state is able to win a scientific “people’s war,” that does not exactly spell out “vulnerability.”

Why the New Silk Roads are a ‘threat’ to US bloc

Modern day traders on the ancient Silk Road track in Central Asia. Photo: Facebook

The Middle East is the key to wide-ranging, economic, interlinked integration, and peace

By PEPE ESCOBAR

Under the cascading roar of the 24/7 news cycle cum Twitter eruptions, it’s easy for most of the West, especially the US, to forget the basics about the interaction of Eurasia with its western peninsula, Europe.

Asia and Europe have been trading goods and ideas since at least 3,500 BC. Historically, the flux may have suffered some occasional bumps – for instance, with the irruption of 5th-century nomad horsemen in the Eurasian plains. But it was essentially steady up to the end of the 15th century. We can essentially describe it as a millennium-old axis – from Greece to Persia, from the Roman empire to China.

A land route with myriad ramifications, through Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, linking India and China to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, ended up coalescing into what we came to know as the Ancient Silk Roads.

By the 7th century, land routes and sea trade routes were in direct competition. And the Iranian plateau always played a key role in this process.

The Iranian plateau historically includes Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia linking it to Xinjiang to the east, and to the west all the way to Anatolia. The Persian empire was all about land trade – the key node between India and China and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Persians engaged the Phoenicians in the Syrian coastline as their partners to manage sea trade in the Mediterranean. Enterprising people in Tyre established Carthage as a node between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. Because of the partnership with the Phoenicians, the Persians would inevitably be antagonized by the Greeks – a sea trading power.

When the Chinese, promoting the New Silk Roads, emphasize “people to people exchange” as one of its main traits, they mean the millenary Euro-Asia dialogue. History may even have aborted two massive, direct encounters.

The first was after Alexander The Great defeated Darius III of Persia. But then Alexander’s Seleucid successors had to fight the rising power in Central Asia: the Parthians – who ended up taking over Persia and Mesopotamia and made the Euphrates the limes between them and the Seleucids.

The second encounter was when emperor Trajan, in 116 AD, after defeating the Parthians, reached the Persian Gulf. But Hadrian backed off – so history did not register what would have been a direct encounter between Rome, via Persia, with India and China, or the Mediterranean meeting with the Pacific.

Mongol globalization

The last western stretch of the Ancient Silk Roads was, in fact, a Maritime Silk Road. From the Black Sea to the Nile delta, we had a string of pearls in the form of Italian city/emporia, a mix of end journey for caravans and naval bases, which then moved Asian products to Italian ports.

Commercial centers between Constantinople and Crimea configured another Silk Road branch through Russia all the way to Novgorod, which was very close culturally to the Byzantine world. From Novgorod, merchants from Hamburg and other cities of the Hanseatic League distributed Asian products to markets in the Baltics, northern Europe and all the way to England – in parallel to the southern routes followed by the maritime Italian republics.

Between the Mediterranean and China, the Ancient Silk Roads were of course mostly overland. But there were a few maritime routes as well. The major civilization poles involved were peasant and artisanal, not maritime. Up to the 15th century, no one was really thinking about turbulent, interminable oceanic navigation.

The main players were China and India in Asia, and Italy and Germany in Europe. Germany was the prime consumer of goods imported by the Italians. That explains, in a nutshell, the structural marriage of the Holy Roman Empire.

At the geographic heart of the Ancient Silk Roads, we had deserts and the vast steppes, trespassed by sparse tribes of shepherds and nomad hunters. All across those vast lands north of the Himalayas, the Silk Road network served mostly the four main players. One can imagine how the emergence of a huge political power uniting all those nomads would be in fact the main beneficiary of Silk Road trade.

Well, that actually happened. Things started to change when the nomad shepherds of Central-South Asia started to have their tribes regimented as horseback archers by politico-military leaders such as Genghis Khan.

Welcome to the Mongol globalization. That was actually the fourth globalization in history, after the Syrian, the Persian and the Arab.    Under the Mongolian Ilkhanate, the Iranian plateau – once again playing a major role – linked China to the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia in the Mediterranean.

The Mongols didn’t go for a Silk Road monopoly. On the contrary: during Kublai Khan – and Marco Polo’s travels – the Silk Road was free and open. The Mongols only wanted caravans to pay a toll.

With the Turks, it was a completely different story. They consolidated Turkestan, from Central Asia to northwest China. The only reason Tamerlan did not annex India is that he died beforehand. But even the Turks did not want to shut down the Silk Road. They wanted to control it.

Venice lost its last direct Silk Road access in 1461, with the fall of Trebizond, which was still clinging to the Byzantine empire. With the Silk Road closed to the Europeans, the Turks – with an empire ranging from Central-South Asia to the Mediterranean – were convinced they now controlled trade between Europe and Asia.

Not so fast. Because that was when European kingdoms facing the Atlantic came up with the ultimate Plan B: a new maritime road to India.

And the rest – North Atlantic hegemony – is history.

Enlightened arrogance

The Enlightenment could not possibly box Asia inside its own rigid geometries. Europe ceased to understand Asia, proclaimed it was some sort of proteiform historical detritus and turned its undivided attention to “virgin,” or “promised” lands elsewhere on the planet.

We all know how England, from the 18th century onwards, took control of the entire trans-oceanic routes and turned North Atlantic supremacy into a lone superpower game – till the mantle was usurped by the US.

Yet all the time there has been counter-pressure from the Eurasian Heartland powers. That’s the stuff of international relations for the past two centuries – peaking in the young 21st century into what could be simplified as The Revenge of the Heartland against Sea Power. But still, that does not tell the whole story.

Rationalist hegemony in Europe progressively led to an incapacity to understand diversity – or The Other, as in Asia. Real Euro-Asia dialogue – the de facto true engine of history – had been dwindling for most of the past two centuries.

Europe owes its DNA not only to much-hailed Athens and Rome – but to Byzantium as well. But for too long not only the East but also the European East, heir to Byzantium, became incomprehensible, quasi incommunicado with Western Europe, or submerged by pathetic clichés.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as in the Chinese-led New Silk Roads, are a historical game-changer in infinite ways. Slowly and surely, we are evolving towards the configuration of an economically interlinked group of top Eurasian land powers, from Shanghai to the Ruhr valley, profiting in a coordinated manner from the huge technological know-how of Germany and China and the enormous energy resources of Russia.

The Raging 2020s may signify the historical juncture when this bloc surpasses the current, hegemonic Atlanticist bloc.

Now compare it with the prime US strategic objective at all times, for decades: to establish, via myriad forms of divide and rule, that relations between Germany, Russia and China must be the worst possible.

No wonder strategic fear was glaringly visible at the NATO summit in London last month, which called for ratcheting up pressure on Russia-China. Call it the late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski’s ultimate, recurrent nightmare.

Germany soon will have a larger than life decision to make. It’s like this was a renewal – in way more dramatic terms – of the Atlanticist vs Ostpolitik debate. German business knows that the only way for a sovereign Germany to consolidate its role as a global export powerhouse is to become a close business partner of Eurasia.

In parallel, Moscow and Beijing have come to the conclusion that the  US trans-oceanic strategic ring can only be broken through the actions of a concerted block: BRI, Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), BRICS+ and the BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB), the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Middle East pacifier

The Ancient Silk Road was not a single camel caravan route but an inter-communicating maze. Since the mid-1990s I’ve had the privilege to travel almost every important stretch – and then, one day, you see the complete puzzle. The New Silk Roads, if they fulfill their potential, pledge to do the same.

Maritime trade may be eventually imposed – or controlled – by a global naval superpower. But overland trade can only prosper in peace. Thus the New Silk Roads potential as The Great Pacifier in Southwest Asia – what the Western-centric view calls the Middle East.

The Middle East (remember Palmyra) was always a key hub of the Ancient Silk Roads, the great overland axis of Euro-Asia trade going all the way to the Mediterranean.

For centuries, a quartet of regional powers – Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Persia (now Iran) – have been fighting for hegemony over the whole area from the Nile delta to the Persian Gulf. More recently, it has been a case of external hegemony: Ottoman Turk, British and American.

So delicate, so fragile, so immensely rich in culture, no other region in the world has been, continually, since the dawn of history, an absolutely key zone. Of course, the Middle East was also a crisis zone even before oil was found (the Babylonians, by the way, already knew about it).

The Middle East is a key stop in the 21st century, trans-oceanic supply chain routes – thus its geopolitical importance for the current superpower, among other geoeconomic, energy-related reasons. But its best and brightest know the Middle East does not need to remain a center of war, or intimations of war, which, incidentally, affect three of those historical, regional powers of the quartet (Syria, Iraq and Iran).

What the New Silk Roads are proposing is wide-ranging, economic, interlinked integration from East Asia, through Central Asia, to Iran, Iraq and Syria all the way to the Eastern Mediterranean. Just like the Ancient Silk Roads. No wonder vested War Party interests are so uncomfortable with this real peace “threat.”

You Say You Want a (Russian) Revolution?

Image result for You Say You Want a (Russian) Revolution?
December 27, 2019

Andrei Martyanov’s latest book provides unceasing evidence about the kind of lethality waiting for U.S. forces in a possible, future war against real armies (not the Taliban or Saddam Hussein’s).

Pepe ESCOBAR

Once in a blue moon an indispensable book comes out making a clear case for sanity in what is now a post-MAD world. That’s the responsibility carried by “The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs,” by Andrei Martyanov (Clarity Press), arguably the most important book of 2019.

Martyanov is the total package — and he comes with extra special attributes as a top-flight Russian military analyst, born in Baku in those Back in the U.S.S.R. days, living and working in the U.S., and writing and blogging in English.

Right from the start, Martyanov wastes no time destroying not only Fukuyama’s and Huntington’s ravings but especially Graham Allison’s childish and meaningless Thucydides Trap argument — as if the power equation between the U.S. and China in the 21stcentury could be easily interpreted in parallel to Athens and Sparta slouching towards the Peloponnesian War over 2,400 years ago. What next? Xi Jinping as the new Genghis Khan?

(By the way, the best current essay on Thucydides is in Italian, by Luciano Canfora (“Tucidide: La Menzogna, La Colpa, L’Esilio”). No Trap. Martyanov visibly relishes defining the Trap as a “figment of the imagination” of people who “have a very vague understanding of real warfare in the 21st century.” No wonder Xi explicitly said the Trap does not exist.)

Martyanov had already detailed in his splendid, previous book, “Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning,” how “American lack of historic experience with continental warfare” ended up “planting the seeds of the ultimate destruction of the American military mythology of the 20thand 21stcenturies which is foundational to the American decline, due to hubris and detachment of reality.” Throughout the book, he unceasingly provides solid evidence about the kind of lethality waiting for U.S. forces in a possible, future war against real armies (not the Taliban or Saddam Hussein’s), air forces, air defenses and naval power.

Do the Math

One of the key takeaways is the failure of U.S. mathematical models: and readers of the book do need to digest quite a few mathematical equations. The key point is that this failure led the U.S. “on a continuous downward spiral of diminishing military capabilities against the nation [Russia] she thought she defeated in the Cold War.”

In the U.S., Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) was introduced by the late Andrew Marshall, a.k.a. Yoda, the former head of Net Assessment at the Pentagon and the de facto inventor of the “pivot to Asia” concept. Yet Martyanov tells us that RMA actually started as MTR (Military-Technological Revolution), introduced by Soviet military theoreticians back in the 1970s.

One of the staples of RMA concerns nations capable of producing land-attack cruise missiles, a.k.a. TLAMs. As it stands, only the U.S., Russia, China and France can do it. And there are only two global systems providing satellite guidance to cruise missiles: the American GPS and the Russian GLONASS. Neither China’s BeiDou nor the European Galileo qualify – yet – as global GPS systems.

Then there’s Net-Centric Warfare (NCW). The term itself was coined by the late Admiral Arthur Cebrowski in 1998 in an article he co-wrote with John Garstka’s titled, “Network-Centric Warfare – Its Origin and Future.”

Deploying his mathematical equations, Martyanov soon tells us that “the era of subsonic anti-shipping missiles is over.” NATO, that brain-dead organism (copyright Emmanuel Macron) now has to face the supersonic Russian P-800 Onyx and the Kalibr-class M54 in a “highly hostile Electronic Warfare environment.” Every developed modern military today applies Net-Centric Warfare (NCW), developed by the Pentagon in the 1990s.

No Escape From the Kinzhal

Martyanov mentions in his new book something that I learned on my visit to Donbass in March 2015: how NCW principles, “based on Russia’s C4ISR capabilities made available by the Russian military to numerically inferior armed forces of the Donbass Republics (LDNR), were used to devastating effect both at the battles of Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo, when attacking the cumbersome Soviet-era Ukrainian Armed Forces military.”

Martyanov provides ample information on Russia’s latest missile – the hypersonic Mach-10 aero-ballistic Kinzhal, recently tested in the Arctic.

Crucially, as he explains, “no existing anti-missile defense in the U.S. Navy is capable of shooting [it] down even in the case of the detection of this missile.” Kinzhal has a range of 2,000 km, which leaves its carriers, MiG-31K and TU-22M3M, “invulnerable to the only defense a U.S. Carrier Battle Group, a main pillar of U.S. naval power, can mount – carrier fighter aircraft.” These fighters simply don’t have the range.

The Kinzhal was one of the weapons announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s game-changing March 1, 2018 speech at the Federal Assembly. That’s the day, Martyanov stresses, when the real RMA arrived, and “changed completely the face of peer-peer warfare, competition and global power balance dramatically.”

Top Pentagon officials such as General John Hyten,  vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have admitted on the record there are “no existing countermeasures” against, for instance, the hypersonic, Mach 27 glide vehicle Avangard (which renders anti-ballistic missile systems useless), telling the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee the only way out would be “a nuclear deterrent.” There are also no existing counter-measures against anti-shipping missiles such as the Zircon and Kinzhal.

Any military analyst knows very well how the Kinzhal destroyed a land target the size of a Toyota Corolla in Syria after being launched 1,000 km away in adverse weather conditions. The corollary is the stuff of NATO nightmares: NATO’s command and control installations in Europe are de facto indefensible.

Martyanov gets straight to the point: “The introduction of hypersonic weapons surely pours some serious cold water on the American obsession with securing the North American continent from retaliatory strikes.”

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal; 2018 Moscow Victory Day Parade. (Kremilin via Wikimedia Commons)

Martyanov is thus unforgiving on U.S. policymakers who “lack the necessary tool-kit for grasping the unfolding geostrategic reality in which the real revolution in military affairs … had dramatically downgraded the always inflated American military capabilities and continues to redefine U.S. geopolitical status away from its self-declared hegemony.”

And it gets worse: “Such weapons ensure a guaranteed retaliation [Martyanov’s italics] on the U.S. proper.” Even the existing Russian nuclear deterrents – and to a lesser degree Chinese, as paraded recently — “are capable of overcoming the existing U.S. anti-ballistic systems and destroying the United States,” no matter what crude propaganda the Pentagon is peddling.

In February 2019, Moscow announced the completion of tests of a nuclear-powered engine for the Petrel cruise missile. This is a subsonic cruise missile with nuclear propulsion that can remain in air for quite a long time, covering intercontinental distances, and able to attack from the most unexpected directions. Martyanov mischievously characterizes the Petrel as “a vengeance weapon in case some among American decision-makers who may help precipitate a new world war might try to hide from the effects of what they have unleashed in the relative safety of the Southern Hemisphere.”

Hybrid War Gone Berserk

Beijing parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic, October 2019. (YouTube screenshot)

A section of the book expands on China’s military progress, and the fruits of the Russia-China strategic partnership, such as Beijing buying $3 billion-worth of S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missiles — “ideally suited to deal with the exact type of strike assets the United States would use in case of a conventional conflict with China.”

Because of the timing, the analysis does not even take into consideration the arsenal presented in early October at the Beijing parade celebrating the 70thanniversary of the People’s Republic.

That includes, among other things, the “carrier-killer” DF-21D, designed to hit warships at sea at a range of up to 1,500 km; the intermediate range “Guam Killer” DF-26; the DF-17 hypersonic missile; and the long-range submarine-launched and ship-launched YJ-18A anti-ship cruise missiles. Not to mention the DF-41 ICBM – the backbone of China’s nuclear deterrent, capable of reaching the U.S. mainland carrying multiple warheads.

Martyanov could not escape addressing the RAND Corporation, whose reason to exist is to relentlessly push for more money for the Pentagon – blaming Russia for “hybrid war” (an American invention)  even as it moans about the U.S.’s incapacity of defeating Russia in each and every war game. RAND’s war games pitting the U.S. and allies against Russia and China invariably ended in a “catastrophe” for the “finest fighting force in the world.”

Martyanov also addresses the S-500s, capable of reaching AWACS planes and possibly even capable of intercepting hypersonic non-ballistic targets. The S-500 and its latest middle-range state of the art air-defense system S-350 Vityaz will be operational in 2020.

His key takeway: “There is no parity between Russia and the United States in such fields as air-defense, hypersonic weapons and, in general, missile development, to name just a few fields – the United States lags behind in these fields, not just in years but in generations [italics mine].”

All across the Global South, scores of nations are very much aware that the U.S. economic “order” – rather disorder – is on the brink of collapse. In contrast, a cooperative, connected, rule-based, foreign relations between sovereign nations model is being advanced in Eurasia – symbolized by the merging of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the NDB (the BRICS bank).

The key guarantors of the new model are Russia and China. And Beijing and Moscow harbor no illusion whatsoever about the toxic dynamics in Washington. My recent conversations with top analysts in Kazakhstan last month and in Moscow last week once again stressed the futility of negotiating with people described – with  overlapping shades of sarcasm – as exceptionalist fanatics. Russia, China and many corners of Eurasia have figured out there are no possible, meaningful deals with a nation bent on breaking every deal.

Indispensable? No: Vulnerable

Martyanov cannot but evoke Putin’s speech to the Federal Assembly in February 2019, after the unilateral Washington abandonment of the INF treaty, clearing the way for U.S. deployment of intermediate and close range missiles stationed in Europe and pointed at Russia:

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy those types of weapons… against those regions from where we will face a direct threat, but also against those regions hosting the centers where decisions are taken on using those missile systems threatening us.”

Translation: American Invulnerability is over – for good.

In the short term, things can always get worse. At his traditional, year-end presser in Moscow, lasting almost four and a half hours, Putin stated that Russia is more than ready to “simply renew the existing New START agreement”, which is bound to expire in early 2021: “They [the U.S.] can send us the agreement tomorrow, or we can sign and send it to Washington.” And yet, “so far our proposals have been left unanswered. If the New START ceases to exist, nothing in the world will hold back an arms race. I believe this is bad.”

“Bad” is quite the euphemism. Martyanov prefers to stress how “most of the American elites, at least for now, still reside in a state of Orwellian cognitive dissonance” even as the real RMA “blew the myth of American conventional invincibility out of the water.”

Martyanov is one of the very few analysts – always from different parts of Eurasia — who have warned about the danger of the U.S. “accidentally stumbling” into a war against Russia, China, or both which is impossible to be won conventionally, “let alone through the nightmare of a global nuclear catastrophe.”

Is that enough to instill at least a modicum of sense into those who lord over that massive cash cow, the industrial-military-security complex? Don’t count on it.

consortiumnews.com

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Assad Discusses Belt and Road, US Aggression, with China’s Phoenix Television

December 16, 2019Miri Wood

Syrian President Bashar Assad interview with Chinese Phoenix channel

In the third of recent international interviews, Syria’s President Bashar al Assad met with Phoenix Television, to discuss Belt and Road development projects with China’s Phoenix Television.

Given that Syria and China are both part of the original Silk Road that created a beautiful explosion of the development and trade that uplifted humanity, this interview has greater importance than the recent one with France’s Paris Match and that with Rai News 24, subsequently banned in Italy. Transcript courtesy of SANA.The video is also available on Bitchute: https://www.bitchute.com/video/f72MJVK16TLw/

Journalist:  Mr. President, on behalf of the Chinese television channel, Phoenix, I would like to thank you for giving us this interview.

President Assad:  You are welcome.

Question 1:  Mr. President, allow me to start straight away…  Syria has been able to make great achievements in fighting terrorism and large areas of Syrian territories have been restored.  Now, where will you begin the reconstruction of Syria?

President Assad:  In fact, we are not waiting for the end of a particular stage of the war in order to start reconstruction; reconstruction starts immediately after the liberation of any area, whether it is big or small, a village or a city.  Reconstruction has stages, the first of which is rebuilding the infrastructure, particularly in the areas of water and electricity.  Later, the state shifts its focus to schools, health centers and hospitals.

However, the most important stage in reconstruction, which comes later and constitutes the most serious challenge for us, is restoring daily activity especially economic livelihood.  This requires a great deal of effort and is affected by internal factors and the external environment – namely the embargo imposed by Western countries on Syria, which has a negative affect and slows the process down.  So, reconstruction has already started, but we need more investments from within and outside the country in order to scale it up.

Question 2:  And here we ask, Mr. President, what are the most important areas in which Syria needs the help of friendly countries, including China?

President Assad:  China specifically provides assistance in reconstruction particularly in the humanitarian domain.  As I mentioned earlier, life’s necessities are water and electricity and China is providing support in these areas through humanitarian grants which we apply to the areas most in need.

In the past, we did not engage in discussions with our friends – and at the forefront China, on reconstruction because the security situation did not allow us to initiate this process on a large scale.  Now, with the liberation of most areas, we have started discussions with a number of Chinese companies experienced in reconstruction.  As I mentioned, the most important stage and the greatest challenge is the full restoration of the economic cycle.  We would hope that Chinese companies start looking and studying the Syrian market which is improving quickly and constantly in terms of security.

It is essential that we start discussing investment opportunities, because it is well-known that rebuilding countries destroyed partially or totally by war is very profitable and has high returns-on-investment.  The process is not limited to loans or providing aid without any returns, it is a profitable investment in every sense of the word.

We have started talking to a number of Chinese companies on finding ways to evade sanctions and have access to the Syrian market.  They have shown an interest because the process is profitable, but investors and investment companies still have concerns about the way sanctions could impact them.  We have found certain formulas, which will not be disclosed of course, for them to enter the Syrian market safely and consequently contribute to the reconstruction process in Syria.

I would like to emphasize that this support is not limited to the economy; reconstruction ultimately means contributing to Syria’s stability for two reasons.  First, in the past two years, millions of Syrians have returned from abroad without finding sufficient job opportunities, which in itself is a factor that can be used by terrorists and outside powers.  Second, the reconciliation we have achieved in Syria, was in part with those who worked with the militants or the terrorists at a certain period.  They agreed to lay down their weapons and return to their normal lives – this return requires job opportunities.  So, the support from China and other friendly countries in Syria’s reconstruction, is as important as the military efforts to restoring stability in Syria, and striking and fighting terrorism.

crimes-against-peace
Central Homs rebuilt by Syrian government with help of China. Dedicated May 2015
crimes-against-peace
Old Clock in Central Homs bombed by US-funded “moderates.”

Question 3:  So, can we ask about the concrete measures that are being taken by the Syrian government in order to attract investors coming from China and other friendly countries?

President Assad:  The first thing an investor needs is security.  When we talk about a country coming out of war: we have achieved great milestones in this respect, but we are not completely finished.  The first question an investor asks is about security, this is what we are doing on a daily basis – fighting terrorists and liberating areas one by one.

As to the investment environment, there are requirements any investor would need, regardless of whether there is a war or not.  In this regard, we are focusing on two things:  the urgent, which is improving this investment environment by addressing necessary measures, like transparency, clarity on investors’ rights and obligations in the country and the legal or judicial aspects of their investments.  With all these issues, we are currently drawing up clear guidelines for investors.

However, the more important and comprehensive step is the investment law.  We have achieved significant progress in developing our investment law in-line with similar laws in many other countries around the world, thus ensuring it is based on international investment standards.

This law clearly identifies the guarantees given to investors concerning their investment in Syria:  legal guarantees, financial guarantees, exemptions clearly laid out, the tax situation for their investments – and any other aspects which constitute a guarantee to ensure that this investment is completely safe and profitable.  We are now in the final stages of this law and it will be passed soon.

Question 4:  Well, Mr. President, are there specific measures taken to ensure the existence of a safe investment environment which assure Chinese investors to come and not face any security problems?  Chinese investors are very concerned about this.

President Assad's interview with Chinese channel

President Assad:  That’s right, this is a serious challenge.  In fact, there are two challenges.  First, is the current lack of sufficient or effective financial channels between Syria and China for the transfer of money.  This is a real problem caused mainly by the sanctions.  A solution must be found if we want investors to come to Syria; a solution needs the engagement of relevant financial institutions from both countries, which requires discussion at a state level.  This is a major obstacle that needs to be overcome.

The second issue is the fear that many Chinese companies still have.  Today, there are companies which are willing to send experts to Syria.  This is important because many Syrian industries have started to show interest in the Chinese market, for example Syrian factories which buy their equipment from China.  Previously, Chinese experts had concerns about coming to Syria; this has recently started to improve, which is a new step.

However, when we talk about Chinese investment with Chinese capital, this needs more assurances; we must exert greater effort in this regard as a Syrian state and we hope the Chinese state with its relevant institutions – like the China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, to encourage investors to come to Syria or at least to the areas which have become completely safe.  In this interview I confirm this and since you are in Syria, you are able to convey the true, unexaggerated picture about the extent of security achieved recently.

Intervention: So, the Syrian government guarantees security to all Chinese companies which might come to Syria, and that there is no problem in terms of safety?

President Assad:  Certainly.

Question 5:  Mr. President, I would like to ask you about the Belt and Road Initiative.  How do you see this initiative in general?

President Assad:  From a strategic perspective, it constitutes a worldwide transformation, a transformation in the nature of international relations.  If we look at the current situation in the world, we see that it is governed by Western attempts of domination, particularly on the part of the United States.  In the past during the Cold War, there was a period of conflict among states.  This conflict was based on the degree of dominance of each pole, particularly the Western pole over a group of states, in order to achieve its interests against the other pole.

Before that, World War II and the preceding period of full colonialization; states occupied other nations and wherever they did so, they defined the interests of those peoples under their domination.  In most cases there were no mutual interests; those peoples were enslaved by the more powerful states.

Today, we see that there is a superpower – China, trying to strengthen its influence in the world. But what kind of influence?  It is not the negative influence we have become accustomed to, but rather an influence in the sense of relying on friends and an influence based on mutual interests.  When we in Syria think about being part of the Silk Road and Syria is a small country – by international, geographic, demographic, economic and military standards…

Intervention: But historically, it is on the Silk Road.

President Assad:  It is exactly on the Silk Road, but what is more important is that this new approach is derived from history but is suitable for the 21st century; it is an approach built on parity.  When we are part of this Road, China treats us as equals and not as a superpower dealing with a small country.  There are mutual interests: it is beneficial to China, Syria and all the countries on this Road.

Another aspect, is that it is not limited to China’s bilateral relations with these countries but rather it is a relationship among all the countries on this axis.  So, it is a relationship of culture and civilization which ultimately leads to greater prosperity and investment, and the improvement of the social, economic and security conditions in these countries.  This means more stability in the world, which is contrary to what we have known in our modern and recent history.  This is what we see in the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative): stability and prosperity.

Question 6:  Syria, for its part, expressed its desire to take part in the Belt and Road Initiative.  Are there any developments in this regard?

President Assad:  During the previous period, and especially in the early years of the war due to the instability, it wasn’t our priority.  Perhaps because it didn’t make sense to talk about infrastructure when you are in a state of life or death, not as individuals but as a homeland, as a nation – Syria.

Now that we have overcome this stage and with the increased stability and the improvement of the economic cycle in Syria, we have started this year a serious dialogue with the Chinese government on how Syria can become part of the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative).  At present Syria is not on the route; there are different routes and Syria is not on them.  However, part of the initiative includes cultural, educational and scientific domains, and through the direct relationship between us and China, there has been a large number – which has increased in recent years – of scholarships offered to Syria that we are benefitting from.  The discussions have recently started concerning infrastructure, which is one of the most important elements and could make Syria a part of the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) in the future.  We have proposed a number of projects only a few months ago.

Intervention:  In specific areas.

President Assad:  Of course.  In areas related to infrastructure, we have proposed around six projects to the Chinese government in line with the Belt and Road methodology and we are waiting for the Chinese government to determine which project, or projects, is in line with their thinking.  I think when this infrastructure is developed, with time, the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) passing through Syria becomes a foregone conclusion, because it is not a road you only draw on a map.  Whilst it is true that historically the Silk Road passed through Syria, Iraq and this region, today however, this initiative takes into account the available infrastructure required for these routes.  Therefore, by establishing, strengthening, and developing this infrastructure, the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) will pass through Syria in the future.

Manufacturing returns to Aleppo.
Rebuilt souks in Aleppo.

Question 7:  Do you think that Syria has now become ready, security-wise, to be part of this initiative?

President Assad:  Precisely, because we are ready security-wise, we have started discussions with our Chinese friends.  Before that, it wasn’t logically or practically possible to initiate such a dialogue.

Question 8:  Mr. President, I would like to ask you about the situation in America.  The United States holds presidential elections next year.  If Trump is not reelected for a new presidential term, would that failure, in your opinion, be useful to Syria or not?

President Assad:  In one of my interviews, I referred to Trump as being the best because he is the most transparent.  Of course, being the best doesn’t mean that he is good; but transparency is a good thing especially that when it comes to Western politics because we have become accustomed to masks which hide real Western intentions regarding the world.

However at the same time, we need to realise that the American political system is not a state system in the sense that we understand.  It is a system comprised of lobbies.  The rulers of America are the money lobbies, whether in the form of oil, weapons, banks, or others. These lobbies control all parts of American politics.

When Trump tried to be independent, albeit in a very limited degree, the attack against him started.  We are now witnessing the impeachment process aimed at bringing the President back into line with the lobbies.  All the presidents we have dealt with in Syria, from Nixon in 1974 – when relations with America were restored, up to Trump today are controlled by these lobbies.   No matter how much good will any president has, he cannot act outside the policies of these lobbies.  Therefore, betting on the change of presidents is misplaced and unrealistic and I don’t think that this American policy will change in the next few years.  That’s why during the election campaign, they say one thing and once they are elected, they do the complete opposite.  For those reasons in Syria we never consider which American president comes and which one leaves.

Intervention:  In this context, I pose the question: after the American president announced his intention to withdraw American forces from Syria, he suddenly backtracked and said that he will leave American troops in Syria in order to protect oil wells in the area east of the Euphrates.  So, he suddenly takes a decision, and then goes back on it.

President Assad:  Exactly, what you are saying confirms my point that the lobbies are the ones in charge of the policies.  It also confirms that this state is not governed by principles, but rather by the interests of those companies; if they have an interest in occupying the oil wells, stealing and selling them one way or another, then this state and this regime will act in favor of these companies, regardless of international law and regardless of American law.  They violate American laws for the sake of these companies because if they don’t make them happy, the president might be impeached.

Question 9:  Mr. President, what is the number of the remaining American troops on Syrian territories now?

President Assad:  The funny thing in American politics is that they announce the number between thousands and hundreds.  When they say thousands: it is to make the the pro-war lobby – particularly the arms companies, happy that they are in a state of war.  When they say hundreds: they are addressing the people who oppose the war by saying that they are only “a few hundred.”  In actual fact, both figures are incorrect for a simple reason; even if these figures were correct, they are based on the number of American soldiers and not the number of individuals fighting with the American army.  The American regime relies significantly in its wars on private firms like Blackwater in Iraq and others.  So even if they had a few hundred American soldiers in Syria, they still also have thousands – maybe tens of thousands, of civilians working for such companies and fighting in Syria.  That’s why it is difficult to know the real number, but it is certainly in the thousands.

Question 10:  The Americans say that they will protect oil wells in the east of Euphrates area in Syria; but in the end, what are they going to do with the oil produced from those wells?

President Assad:  Before the Americans, in the early days Jabhat al-Nusra used these wells; after ISIS came and drove out al-Nusra – or rather when ISIS merged with al-Nusra and they all became ISIS, it also stole and sold oil.  Where? It used to sell it through Turkey.  Now America is the one stealing oil and selling it to Turkey.  Turkey is an accomplice, with all these groups, in selling oil; it doesn’t have a problem – Turkey is ready.  The Turkish regime plays a direct part in selling the oil, previously with al-Nusra, later with ISIS and today with the Americans.

Erdogan thief أردوغان اللص
Erdogan: Syrian factories and economy thief.

Question 11:  In this situation, what is the impact on Syrian oil returns?

President Assad:  At a certain point at the beginning of the war, oil returns dropped to almost zero.  Today – after restoring a small number of wells during the past two years – we have a little amount of oil.  However, there is still limited positive impact on the Syrian economy from oil because most of the wells are either under the control of terrorist groups or groups acting outside the law and under American command.  So, the situation with the oil has not changed much.

Question 12:  Yes. So, how is the Syrian government going to face the question of American presence in the oil fields area east of the Euphrates?

President Assad:  First, the Americans rely on terrorists.   The terrorists must be attacked, this is a priority for us in Syria.  Striking the terrorists weakens the American presence one way or another.  At a later stage: there are Syrian groups acting under American command and these groups must be persuaded, one way or another and particularly through dialogue, that it is in all our interests in Syria that they embrace the homeland and join the Syrian state’s efforts to liberate all its territories.  At that point, it’s only natural that there will be no prospect for an American presence.  However, if they remained, they have their experience in Iraq to consider; there will be a popular resistance and they will pay the price.  Ultimately, the Americans will leave.

Question 13:  Mr. President, we have witnessed recently popular protests and riots in some neighboring countries, including Iraq, Lebanon, and even Iran.  In fact, these countries are considered, to a certain extent, Syria’s allies.  How do you view what happened and is happening in these countries?

President Assad:  Of course, neighboring countries have a direct impact on us because there are direct family and economic relations, as well as other types of relations that exist between any two neighboring countries.  At the same time, the Middle East as a whole is one area; the social fabric is similar, beliefs are similar and interests are intertwined even when these countries are not direct neighbors.

If we assume that the movements taking place aim to address the problems faced by the population and that they would lead to improving economic, political and other conditions in these countries, then I can say that the impact will be positive.

However, if we think logically, would the Western countries and in particular the United States, leave these countries to continue spontaneously?!  They would definitely interfere and would certainly exploit every movement in order to create chaos, because American policy – at least since 2000 and since the Iraq war – is to create chaos. This is what they called ‘constructive chaos;’ that is how George Bush and Condoleezza Rice referred to it.  This ‘constructive chaos’ which they are looking for, is a type of chaos that achieves their interests.  That’s why when this chaos takes place in our region, or in any other region, it will have a negative impact on us.  Chaos is contagious, it’s like a disease, it spreads; so, we can only hope that these events remain in the internal, spontaneous, popular framework.

Question 14:  Would it be possible to say that one should look for an American role wherever there is chaos?

President Assad:  This is self-evident and has become well-known throughout the world.  What is the difference between the policies of superpowers: America, and those who stand with it – like France and Britain, believe or think – which we see as wrong but they see as right – that the interests of these countries or this axis, lies in creating chaos; whereas Russia, China and most other countries believe that stability and international law are in the best interest of the world and its states, big or small.

Journalist:  Mr. President, thank you very much for availing us this opportunity and we wish you continued success and progress.

President Assad:  Thank you and I also thank Phoenix Television for this interview.

Journalist:  Thank you very much.

President Assad:  You are welcome.

Cruising Pamir Highway, the heart of the Heartland (Part 2 of 2)

Cruising Pamir Highway, the heart of the Heartland (Part 2 of 2)

December 16, 2019

By Pepe Escobar, On the Pamir Highway, Tajikistan – Posted with permission

A privileged microcosm of what is evolving as the intersection between the New Silk Roads and Greater Eurasia

Chinese container cargo trucks after crossing the Kulma pass at the Tajik-China border. Photo: Pepe Escobar / Asia Times

This is the second of 2 parts. See part 1 here.

Traveling the Pamir Highway, we’re not only facing a geological marvel and a magic trip into ancient history and customs. It’s also a privileged window on a trade revival that will be at the heart of the expansion of the New Silk Roads.

Khorog is the only town in the Pamirs – its cultural, economic and educational center, the site of the multi-campus University of Central Asia, financed by the Agha Khan foundation. Ismailis place tremendous importance on education.

Badakhshan was always world-famous for lapis lazuli and rubies. The Kuh-i-Lal ruby mine, south of Khorog, was legendary. Marco Polo wrote that in “Syghinan” (he was referring to the historical district of Shughnan) “the stones are dug on the king’s account, and no one else dares dig in that mountain on pain of forfeiture of life”.

Shughnan worshipped the sun, building circular structures with the corresponding solar symbolism. This is what we see in Saka graves in the Eastern Pamir. As we keep moving east, the settled Pamiri culture, with its profusion of orchards of apricots, apples and mulberries, gives way to semi-nomadic Kyrgyz life and irrigated villages are replaced by seasonal yurt camps (not at this time of the year though, because of the bitter cold.)

At Langar, the last village of the Wakhan, rock paintings depict mountain goats, caravans, horse riders with banners, and the Ismaili symbol of a palm with five fingers. Archeologist A. Zelenski, in fascination, called the historical monuments of the Wakhan “the Great Pamir Route.” Aurel Stein stressed this was the main connection between Europe and Asia, thus between the whole classical world and East Asia, with Central Asia in between. We are at the heart of the Heartland.

Last stop before Xinjiang

Following the Wakhan all the way would lead us to Tashkurgan, in Xinjiang. The Pakistani border, close to the Karakoram Highway, is only 15 km to 65 km away, across forbidding Afghan territory.

It’s the Koyzetek pass (4,271 meters) that finally leads to the Eastern Pamir plateau, which the Chinese called Tsunlin and Ptolomy called Iamus, shaped like a giant shallow dish with mountain ranges at the edges and lakes at record altitudes. Marco Polo wrote, “The land is called Pamier, and you ride across it for twelve days together, finding nothing but a desert without habitations or any green thing, so that travelers are obliged to carry with them whatever they need. The region is so lofty and cold that you don’t even see any birds flying. And I must notice also that because of this great cold, fire does not burn so brightly and give out so much heat as usual, not does it cook effectually.”

Murghab, peopled by Kyrgyz – whose summers are spent in very remote herding camps – revolves around a mini-bazaar in containers. If we follow the Aksu river – once considered the source of both the water and the name of the Oxus – we reach the ultimate, remote corner of Central Asia: Shaymak – only 80 km from the tri-border of Afghanistan, Pakistan and China.

The Little Pamirs are to the south. As I reported for Asia Times way back in 2001, it was in this area, crammed with the most important Silk Roads passes of both China and Pakistan, that Osama bin Laden might have been hiding, before he moved to Tora Bora.

From Murghab, I had to inspect the Kulma pass (4,362 meters high), a New Silk Road border. The road – made by China – is impeccable. I found lonely Chinese container truck drivers and businessmen from Kashgar driving made-in-China minivans across the Pamirs to be sold in Dushanbe.

The deep blue waters of Lake Karakul, not far from Xinjiang. Photo: Pepe Escobar / Asia Times

On the High Pamirs we find around 800 ancient lakes created by earthquakes, tectonic activity and glaciers. Yashilkul lake (“Blue Water”), at 3,734 meters frozen this time of the year, sits in a plateau scouted by Stone Age hunters. Tajik archeologist V. Ranov found rock paintings of horses and carts, attributes of Mitra, the Persian god of the Sun. During the 10th to 3rd centuries B.C, the plateau was inhabited by nomadic tribes of the Persian-speaking Sakas.

From Shughnan to Ishkoshim, here we are in what the ancients called “The country of the Sakas.”

From Scythians to containers

The vast Scythian steppes that range from the Danube all the way to China were inhabited by a vast confederation of tribes. Then, in the 2nd to 1st centuries B.C., the tribes started moving to the east of the Greco-Bactrian state. Some of them settled in the Pamirs and became the ethno-genetic component of the Pamiri ethnicity. Alex, my driver, is a true Pamiri from Khorog. He’s also the real Pamir Highway Star with his badass black Land Cruiser. (“It’s a killing machine/ it’s got everything,” as Deep Purple immortalized it.)

Alex, Pamiri from Khorog, the Highway Star. Photo: Pepe Escobar / Asia Times

The highlight of the Eastern Pamirs is the spectacular blue inland, saltwater Karakul Lake, formed 10 million years ago by a meteor. Under the sun, it’s a radiant turquoise; this time of the year, I saw it deep, deep blue, not really the “Black Lake” that its name implies. Karakul because of its slight salinity was not frozen. This is chong (big) Karakul, the older brother of the kichi (small) Karakul across the border in Xinjiang, which I had the pleasure of visiting in my Karakoram Highway travels.

The High Pamirs are right behind Karakul, concealing the 77-km-long Fedchenko glacier. East of the lake, if you could survive a trek in Arctic conditions, is Xinjiang. The early Tang dynasty wandering monk Xuanzang was here in 642 (he thought the lake was people by dragons). Marco Polo was here in 1274.

It’s a tough life at Bulungkul, with the atmosphere of an Arctic station. Temperatures can drop as low as -63C in winter. Photo: Pepe Escobar / Asia Times

Our base to explore Yashilkul and later Karakul was Bulungkul – this time of the year a sort of Arctic station, with only 40 houses served by solar panels in the middle of nowhere, and temperatures hovering around minus 22 Celsius. It’s the toughest of lives. They told me that in winter the temperature drops to -63C.

Farther down the road, I took a diversion east to observe the Kulma pass, at 4,363 meters the official Tajik border with China, reached by a – what else? – made-by-China road, opened in 2004 following the ancient Silk Road.

The Tajik-Kyrgyz border at the Kyzyl-Art pass looked like a scene from Tarkovsky’s Stalker, utterly Soviet-style desolate except for a shared taxi loaded with Kyrgyz going to Khorog. From there, it’s a spectacular drive all the way to the crossroads of Sary Tash, and through the head-spinning, 3,615 meter-high Taldyk pass, towards Osh, the gateway to the Ferghana valley.

The Taldyk pass in southern Kyrgyzstan, all the way to Osh. Photo: Pepe Escobar / Asia Times

All across this mesmerizing Central Asia/Heartland journey, especially in the bazaars, we see in detail the crossroads of pastoral nomadism and irrigation culture, fertilized century after century by cross-cultural Silk Road trade involving herders, farmers, merchants, all of them part of commodity trading and provisioning for the caravans.

We delve into the vortex of immensely rich social, religious, scientific, aesthetic and ideological influences – especially from Persia, India, China and Iran. The shift from overland to sea trade in the 16th century – the start of European world domination – in fact never erased the traditional routes to India via Afghanistan, China via Xinjiang and Europe via Iran. Trade remains the top factor in Central Asian life.

Today the Pamir Highway is a privileged microcosm of what is slowly but surely evolving as the intersection between the New Silk Roads and Greater Eurasia – with its main hubs configured by Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and – it may be hoped – India.

The ultimate crossroads of civilizations, the Heartland, is back – once again at the heart of history.

This concludes the 2-part series. To read part 1 click here.

 

Pamir Highway: the road on the roof of the world (Part 1 of 2)

Straight from the Ancient Silk Road: a camel caravan on the Afghan Wakhan Corridor. Photo: Pepe Escobar / Asia Times

December 16, 2019

Pamir Highway: the road on the roof of the world (Part 1 of 2)

By Pepe Escobar, Pamir Highway, Tajikistan – Posted with permission

These are the ancient Silk Roads the Taliban will never be able to reach

Part 1 of a 2-part series

This is arguably the ultimate road trip on earth. Marco Polo did it. All the legendary Silk Road explorers did it. Traveling the Pamir Highway back to back, as a harsh winter approaches, able to appreciate it in full, in silence and solitude, offers not only a historical plunge into the intricacies of the ancient Silk Road but a glimpse of what the future may bring in the form of the New Silk Roads.

This is a trip steeped in magic ancient history. Tajiks trace their roots back to tribes of Sogdians, Bactrians and Parthians. Indo-Iranians lived in Bactria (“a country of a thousand towns”) and Sogdiana from the 6-7th centuries BC to the 8th century AD Tajiks make up 80% of the republic’s population, very proud of their Persian cultural heritage, and kin to Tajik-speaking peoples in northern Afghanistan and the region around Tashkurgan in Xinjiang.

Proto-Tajiks and beyond were always at the fringe of countless empires – from the Achaemenids, Kushan and Sogdians to the Greco-Bactrians, the Bukhara emirate and even the USSR. Today many Tajiks live in neighboring Uzbekistan – which is now experiencing an economic boom. Due to Stalin’s demented border designs, fabled Bukhara and Samarkand – quintessential Tajik cities – have become “Uzbek.”

Bactria’s territory included what are today northern Afghanistan, southern Tajikistan and southern Uzbekistan. The capital was fabled Balkh, as named by the Greeks, carrying the informal title of “mother of all cities.”

Sogdiana was named by the Greeks and Romans as Transoxiana: between the rivers, the Amu-Darya and the Syr-Darya. Sogdians practiced Zoroastrianism and lived by arable agriculture based on artificial irrigation.

 

Western Pamirs: Road upgrade by China, Pyanj River, Tajikistan to the left, Afghanistan to the right, Hindu Kush in the background. Photo: Pepe Escobar

We all remember that Alexander the Great invaded Central Asia in 329 B.C. After he conquered Kabul, he marched north and crossed the Amu-Darya. Two years later he defeated the Sogdians. Among the captured prisoners was a Bactrian nobleman, Oxyartes, and his family.

Alexander married Oxyartes’s daughter, the ravishing Roxanne, the most beautiful woman in Central Asia. Then he founded the city of Alexandria Eskhata (“The Farthest”) which is today’s Kojand, in northern Tajikistan. In Sogdiana and Bactria, he built as many as 12 Alexandrias, including Aryan Alexandria (today’s Herat, in Afghanistan) and Marghian Alexandria (today’s Mary, formerly Merv, in Turkmenistan).

By the middle of the 6th century, all these lands had been divided among the Turkic Kaghans, the Sassanian Empire and a coalition of Indian kings. What always remained unchanged was the emphasis on agriculture, town planning, crafts, trade, blacksmithing, pottery, manufacture of copper and mining.

The caravan route across the Pamirs – from Badakshan to Tashkurgan – is the stuff of legend in the West. Marco Polo described it as “the highest place in the world.” Indeed: the Pamirs were known by the Persians as Bam-i-Dunya (translated, appropriately, as “roof of the world”).

The highest peaks in the world may be in the Himalayas. But the Pamirs are something unique: the top orographic crux in Asia from which all the highest mountain ranges in the world radiate: the Hindu Kush to the northwest, the Tian Shan to the northeast, and the Karakoram and the Himalayas to the southeast.

Ultimate imperial crossroads

The Pamirs are the southern boundary of Central Asia. And let’s cut to the chase, the most fascinating region in the whole of Eurasia: as wild as it gets, crammed with breathtaking peaks, snow-capped spires, rivers ragged with crevasses, huge glaciers – a larger-than-life spectacle of white and blue with overtones of stony gray.

This is also the quintessential crossroad of empires – including the fabled Russo-British 19th century Great Game. No wonder: picture a high crossroads between Xinjiang, the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan and Chitral in Pakistan. Pamir may mean a “high rolling valley.” But the bare Eastern Pamirs might as well be on the moon – traversed less by humans than curly-horned Marco Polo sheep, ibex and yaks.

Countless trade caravans, military units, missionaries and religious pilgrims also made the Pamir Silk Road known as “road of Ideologies.” British explorers like Francis Younghusband and George Curzon hit the upper Oxus and mapped high passes into British India. Russian explorers such as Kostenko and Fedchenko tracked the Alai and the great peaks of the northern Pamir. The first Russian expedition arrived in the Pamirs in 1866, led by Fedchenko, who discovered and lent his name to an immense glacier, one of the largest in the world. Trekking toward it is impossible as winter approaches.

And then there were the legendary Silk Road explorers Sven Hedin (in 1894-5) and Aurel Stein (1915), who explored its historical heritage.

Chinese container cargo trucks negotiate the Western Pamirs. Photo: Pepe Escobar

The Pamir Highway version of the Silk Road was actually built by the Soviet Union between 1934 and 1940, predictably following ancient caravan tracks. The name of the region remains Soviet: the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). To travel the highway, one needs a GBAO permit.

For no less than 2,000 years – from 500 B.C. to the early 16th century – camel caravans carried not only silk from East to West, but goods made of bronze, porcelain, wool and cobalt, also from West to East. There are no fewer than four different branches of the Silk Road in Tajikistan. The ancient Silk Roads were an apotheosis of connectivity: ideas, technology, art, religion, mutual cultural enrichment. The Chinese, with a keen historical eye, not by accident identified “common legacy of mankind” as the conceptual/philosophical base for the Chinese-led New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative.

Afghan village by the Pyanj River, Hindu Kush in the background. Photo: Pepe Escobar

Have China upgrade, will travel

In villages in Gorno-Badakhshan, stretched out along stunning river valleys, life for centuries has been about irrigation farming and seasonal-pasture cattle farming. As we progress toward the barren Eastern Pamirs, the story mutates into an epic: how mountain people eventually adapted to living at altitudes as high as 4,500 meters.

In the Western Pamirs, the current road upgrade was by – who else? – China. The quality is equivalent to the northern Karakoram Highway. Chinese building companies are slowly working their way towards the Eastern Pamirs – but repaving the whole highway may take years.

The Chinese are coming: upgrading the highway in the Western Pamirs. Photo: Pepe Escobar

The 3rd century BC Yamchun fortress, known as ‘The Castle of the Fire Worshippers.’ Photo: Pepe Escobar

The Pyanj river draws a sort of huge arc around the border of Badakhshan in Afghanistan. We see absolutely amazing villages perched on the hills across the river, including some nice houses and owners with an SUV instead of a donkey or a bike. Now there are quite a few bridges over the Pyanj, financed by the Aga Khan foundation, instead of previous planks jammed with stones suspended above vertiginous cliffs.

From Qalaykhumb to Khorog and then all the way to Ishkoshim, the Pyanj river establishes the Afghan border for hundreds of kilometers – traversing poplar trees and impeccably-tended fields. Then we enter the legendary Wakhan valley: a major – barren – branch of the Ancient Silk Road, with the spectacular snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush in the background. Farther south, a trek of only a few dozen kilometers of trekking, it’s Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan.

The Wakhan could not be more strategic – contested, over time, by Pamiris, Afghans, Kyrgyz and Chinese, peppered with qalas (fortresses) that protected and taxed the Silk Road trade caravans.

The star of the qalas is the 3rd century B.C. Yamchun fortress – a textbook medieval castle, originally 900 meters long and 400 meters wide, set in a virtually inaccessible rocky slope, protected by two river canyons, with 40 towers and a citadel. Legendary Silk Road explorer Aurel Stein, who was here in 1906, on the way to China, was gobsmacked.The fortress is locally known as the “Castle of the Fire Worshippers”.

Pre-Islamic Badakhshan was Zoroastrian, worshipping fire, the sun and spirits of ancestors and at the same time practicing a distinct Badakhshani version of Buddhism. In fact, in Vrang, we find the remains of 7th-8th century Buddhist man-made caves that could have also been a Zoroastrian site in the past. The early Tang dynasty wandering monk Xuanzang was here, in the 7th century. He described the monasteries and, tellingly, took notice of a Buddhist inscription:  “Narayana, win.”

Ishkoshim, which Marco Polo crossed in 1271 on the way to the upper Wakhan, is the only border crossing in the Pamirs into Afghanistan open to foreigners. To talk of “roads” on the Afghan side is audacious. But old Silk Road tracks remain, negotiable only with a study Russian jeep, delving into Faizabad and farther into Mazar-i-Sharif.

Here are the parts the 18-year-long, trillion-dollar, Hindu Kush-of-lies-told American war on Afghanistan never reaches. The only “America” available is Hollywood blockbusters on DVDs at 30 cents apiece.

I was very fortunate to spot the real deal: a camel caravan, straight from the ancient Silk Road, following a track on the Afghan side of the Wakhan. They were Kyrgyz nomads. There are roughly 3,000 Kyrgyz nomads in the Wakhan, who would like to resettle back in their homeland. But they are lost in a bureaucratic maze – even assuming they secure Afghan passports.

These are the ancient Silk Roads the Taliban will never be able to reach.

Next in part 2: The Pamir Highway: the heart of the Heartland

Trials and tribulations of Central Asia integration

Trials and tribulations of Central Asia integration

A man leads a horse on the Suu-Samyr plateau along the ancient Great Silk Road from Bishkek to Osh, some 200 km from Bishkek. Photo: Vyacheslav Oseledko / AFP

The pros and cons of being the Heartland in the 21st century

By PEPE ESCOBAR, NUR-SULTAN, KAZAKHSTAN

Trials and tribulations of Central Asia integration

Crossing Tajikistan from west to northeast – Dushanbe to the Tajik-Kyrgyz border – and then Kyrgyzstan from south to north all the way to Bishkek via Osh, is one of the most extraordinary road trips on earth. Not only this is prime Ancient Silk Road territory but now is being propelled as a significant stretch of the 21st century New Silk Roads.

In addition to its cultural, historical and anthropological pull, this road trip also lays bare some of the key issues related to the development of Central Asia. It was particularly enlightening to hit the road as previously, at the 5th Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, I had had the pleasure of moderating a panel titled Central Asia at the Intersection of Global Interests: pros and cons of being Heartland.

The Heartland in the 21st century could not but be a major draw. Any serious analyst knows that Central Asia is the privileged corridor for both Europe and Asia at the heart of the New Silk Roads, as the Chinese-led BRI converges with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Banking experts such as Jacob Frenkel, chairman of JP Morgan Chase International, insist that the path towards inclusive growth in Central Asia entails access for financial services and financial tech; Nur-Sultan, incidentally, happens to be the only financial center within a 3,000-mile radius. Only a few years ago it was basically a potato field.

So it will be up to Kazakhs to capitalize on the financial ramifications of their independent, multi-vector foreign policy. After all, aware that his young nation was a “child of complicated history,” First President Nursultan Nazabayev from the beginning, in the early 1990s, wanted to prevent a Balkans scenario in Central Asia – as proposed as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard. Recently Kazakhstan mediated quite successfully between Turkey and Russia. And then there’s the Kazakh hosting of the Astana process, which quickly evolved as the privileged road map for the pacification of Syria.

A link or a bridge?

Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Washington, made a crucial point in the sidelines of our debate: the UN recently passed a unanimous resolution recognizing Central Asia as a world region. And yet, there is no structure for cooperation inside Central Asia. Tricky national border issues between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya rivers may have been solved. There are very few pending questions between, for instance, the Uzbeks and the Kyrgyz. Most “Stans” are SCO members, some are EAEU members and all want to profit from BRI.

But as I later saw for myself on the road as I crossed Tajikistan and then Kyrgyzstan, tariff barriers still apply. Industrial cooperation is developing very slowly. Corruption is rife. Distrust against “foreigners” is inbred. And on top of it, the fallout of the US-China trade war affects mostly developing nations – such as the Central Asians. A solution, Starr argues, would be to boost the work of an established commission, and aim towards setting up a single market by 2025.

At the Nur-Sultan debate, my friend Bruno Macaes, former Minister for Europe in Portugal and author of the excellent The Dawn of Eurasia, argued that the thrust for the New Silk Roads remains sea transportation, and investment in ports. As Central Asia is landlocked, the emphasis should be on soft infrastructure. Kazakhstan is uniquely positioned to understand differences between trading bocks. Macaes argues that Nur-Sultan should aim to replicate the role of Singapore as a bridge.

Peter Burian, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, chose to stress the positives: how Central Asia has managed to survive its new Heartland incarnation without conflict, and how it’s engaged in institutional building from scratch. The Baltics should be taken as an example. Burian insists the EU does not want to impose ready-made concepts, and would rather work as a link, not as a bridge. More EU economic presence in Central Asia means, in practice, an investment commitment of $1.2 billion in seven years, which may not amount to much but targets very specific, practical-minded projects.

Evgeny Vinokurov, chief economist of the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development, touched on a real success story: the 15 day-only transportation/connectivity rail between China’s central provinces, Central Asia and the EU – now running at 400,000 cargo containers a year, and rising, and used by anyone from BMW to all manner of Chinese manufacturers. Over 10 million tons of merchandise a year is already moving West while six million tons are moving East. Vinokurov is adamant that the next step for Central Asia is to build industrial parks.

Svante Cornell, from the Institute for Security and Development Policy, emphasized a voluntary process, possibly with six nations (Afghanistan also included), and well-coordinated in practice (way beyond mere political integration). Models should be result-oriented ASEAN and Mercosur (presumably before Bolsonaro’s disruptive practices). Key issues involve facilitating smoother border crossings and for Central Asia to position itself as not just a corridor.

Essentially, Central Asia should think eastwards – in an SCO/ASEAN symbiosis, keeping in mind the role Singapore developed for itself as a global hub.

What about tech transfer?

As I saw for myself days later, when for instance, visiting the University of Central Asia in Khorog, in the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, set up by the Aga Khan foundation, there is a serious drive across Central Asia to invest in universities and techno centers. In terms of Chinese investment, for instance, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is financing hydropower in Kyrgyzstan. The EU is engaged in what it defines as a “trilateral project” – supporting education for Afghan women and universities in both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

This may all be discussed and deepened in an upcoming, first-time-ever summit of Central Asian presidents. Not bad as a first step.

Arguably the most intriguing intervention in the debate in Nur-Sultan was by former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Djoomart Otorbaev. He remarked that the GDP of four “Stans,” excluding Kazakhstan, is still smaller than Singapore’s. He insisted the road map ahead is to unite – mostly geoeconomically. He emphasized that both Russia and China “are officially complementary” and that’s “great for us.” Now it’s time to invest in human capital and thus generate more demand.

But once again, the inescapable factor is always China. Otorbaev, referring to BRI, insisted, “you must offer to us the highest technological solutions.” I asked him point-blank whether he could name a project with inbuilt, top technological transfer to Kyrgyzstan. He answered, “I didn’t see any added value so far.” Beijing better go back to the drawing board – seriously.

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