New role for China and Russia – and how after a Biden victory?

New role for China and Russia – and how after a Biden victory?

October 25, 2020

Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog

On the world stage, profound changes are under way. Obviously, China and Russia have lost the confidence that the West will contribute to the solution of the world’s problems in some constructive manner. China and Russia have now accepted their role as the leading forces with the responsibility of holding the world together. The West held this role for centuries, but this time is over. The West has essentially become destructive. The West has lost the power of solving problems and now use her resources mainly for creating problems. In my eyes, this is the central evolution of the last months and it is an epochal change.

China and Russia did not easily decide to go ahead without the West. They have hesitated for a long time. They are quite aware of the burden they will have to bear. Other countries have led the way. In particular, Iran and North Korea have come to the conviction already some time ago that they cannot count on the West. The same is true for Hezbollah, for Syria, for Cuba, or for Venezuela. But apparently, China and Russia did not intend to „blindly“ follow these countries. However, not only the moment has come to take a decision, but China and Russia now also feel strong enough to advance without the West, or, may-be more precisely, despite the West.

The new role for China and Russia includes a lot of functions. They have to defend some kind of international order and law; they have to maintain and even strengthen important international organizations, in particular the UNO; they have to try to contain regional conflicts; they have to propose possible solutions for the world’s problems. Of course, this cannot and will not be done in a dictatorial manner. China and Russia always insist that the decisions must be taken in a much more democratic spirit than that which was – and is – practiced by the West.

It is a fact that the West does more and more undermine any kind of international law and order. Their international politics is destructive.There are countless sanctions against other countries, there are murders, conspiracies, and lies. In recent times, there is no conflict in the world where the West has tried to support a peaceful solution, may-be with the exception of Afghanistan and – at least for some time – of the two Koreas. And during the current pandemic, the West has made no effort in order to propose a common reaction of the world; countries like China, Russia, and Cuba did much more in this direction.

It is not a simple coincidence that China and Russia used the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II, the 3 September, in order to clarify their new role. Namely, during this war, Russia and China already bore the principal responsibility for the victory over the fascist aggressors.

In this context, Xin Jinping wrote to Vladimir Putin: „China and Russia both shoulder important responsibilities for the cause of world peace and development. I am ready to work with you to take the 75th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War as an opportunity to lead China and Russia towards deeper comprehensive strategic coordination. Together with the international community, we should firmly protect our victory in World War II and international fairness and justice, actively uphold and practice multilateralism, promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, in a bid to allow future generations to enjoy a world featuring lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.“

Vladimir Putin, on the same occasion (3 September), wrote to Xi Jinping that „it is a common responsibility of Russia and China to safeguard the truth of WWII history“ and called on the two countries to resolutely oppose any attempt to deny the outcomes of the war. Russia is ready “to continue active efforts jointly with its ally China in order to prevent wars and conflicts in the world and ensure global stability and security.”

In his speech at the Valdai Discussion Club (22 October), Putin has very much developed the new role of Russia (and China). This is an absolutely crucial speech, including the questions and answers. In particular, Putin explains that a strong state which has the confidence of the citizens is „a basic condition for Russia’s development“. Putin underlines that „genuine democracy and civil society cannot be ‚imported‘ … only the citizens of a particular country can determine their public interest“.

* * * * *

Now let us come to the other side, the West. The upcoming US elections will determine the official Western leadership, that is, the Trump team or the Biden team. It is of course an important decision, even if the differences between the two teams are may-be more in style than in the content. Nevertheless, the outcome will have a big influence on the whole West. So, let us try to consider the consequences.

For me, the first question is, which side is less destructive? This question is still quite difficult to answer. The Trump team has more and more developed a destructive foreign politics, in particular against Iran and China. The Biden team on the other hand has concentrated the campaign essentially on the destruction of the Trump team, without mentioning constructive projects. So both sides are basically and intrinsically destructive.

The second question is, citing Putin’s formula, which team may gain more confidence of the citizens? The (numerical) outcome of the elections is by far not the unique measure for this. The particulate and egoistic interests of some powerful and very rich groups have an enormous influence – leaving aside corruption and manipulation of the elections.

All what I hear from the USA hints to my feeling that the Biden team is utmost arrogant and completely detached from the people and, as a consequence, is more subdued to the particulate and egoistic interests of these powerful and very rich groups. This does not mean that the Trump team is close to the citizens, but at least it is tendentiously closer than the other team; therefore, the Trump team is somewhat more autonomous.

Concerning the West, a victory of the Trump team would probably not change much. This would be a small advantage for the world since the West will – partly – remain blocked by internal divisions, and new aggressive wars will be quite difficult. On the other hand, a victory of Biden’s team bears the risk that both leading political parties in the USA will unit in order to plan new wars.

How big is this danger? It should not be underestimated. The power of the Trump team is basically one which comes from direct popular support. If this popular support becomes negligible, then the particulate egoistic groups will try to eliminate the Trump team and all its supporters. Moreover, in the whole West, the „moral“ and „ideological“ imperialism will obtain a big push.

However, these „hopes“ created in the West by the perspective of a Biden’s victory are a pure illusion. There are based on nothing, just on nostalgia. It is plain nonsense to think that the problems of the West were created by the Trump team and its supporters. A Biden’s victory cannot solve the inner problems of the West, and the former strength of the West cannot be regained.

The „moral“ imperialism intends to punish all countries which do not have an, often imported, Western liberal system. But this is impossible. The world has become too diversified. So, the push towards this pathological feeling of superiority of the West will probably be a straw fire. Nevertheless, it can be quite dangerous.

What is my prognosis? We should expect a victory of Biden’s team. As I explained, this is not what I would wish. However, elections have some own laws. Often, the central subject of the election battle is of crucial importance. When the central subject was the social unrest in the US cities, then the Trump team had a clear advantage. But now, the central subject seems to be have shifted to the pandemic. This favors Biden’s team. Of course, I do not think that Biden would have better managed the pandemic. But it was Trump who was the president during the pandemic. Therefore, in some sense, he will be taken responsible for the pandemic, justified or not.

Of course, it is possible that the Trump team wins. It is also possible that after the elections, there will be chaos. But still, I would not count on such a result. More probable is some kind of which hunt against the supporters of the Trump team. This could also affect everybody who is not a declared Trump hater. But this foreseeable extremism, provoked by a Biden’s victory, will again alienate the USA inside the West.

* * * * *

National elections are not isolated events. They take place in a global context. This global context has to be considered for a correct assessment of the results. These elections are the first US elections in the new epoch, characterized by the new role of China and Russia. The elections will be affected by this fundamental change, in some way or another. It can be supposed that they will give important hints how the world will proceed in the new epoch.

قراءة في الموقف الروسي: مقابلة سيرغي لافروف

زياد حافظ

إذا كان قرار الصين على لسان رئيسها بأنّ الصين ستردّ على الاستفزازات الأميركية قراراً لافتاً للنظر وخارجاً عن مألوف الدبلوماسية الصينية التقليدية الهادئة، فإنّ أهمية التصريح لا تكمن فقط في أنه صادر عن قوّة عظمى وعظيمة في آن واحد، بل لأنه يعبّر عن موقف لمحور أصبح يملأ الفراغ الدولي الذي يسبّبه التراجع الاستراتيجي للغرب، بشكل عام، وللولايات المتحدة بشكل خاص. والأهمّ من كلّ ذلك هو سقوط نظرية ملكية الولايات المتحدة لأوراق اللعبة بنسبة 99 في المئة. وما يعزّز ذلك التحوّل هو ما أتى به وزير خارجية الاتحاد الروسي سيرغي لافروف في مقابلة طويلة ومثيرة لراديو «سبوتنيك» منذ بضعة أيام شرح فيها بصراحة موقف روسيا من كافة القضايا الساخنة في العالم.

من يطلّع على نصّ المقابلة يشعر بأنّ العالم في موقع جديد وأنّ «الفعل» أصبح خارج إطار التحكّم للغرب وللولايات المتحدة حيث أصبحوا في موقع «ردّ الفعل». وما يميّز المقابلة تواضع اللهجة في إبراز عمق الرؤية الروسية للعالم ومرتكزاتها. فهناك مزيج من المرتكزات المبدئية والواقعية الذرائعية، أيّ البراغماتية، في المقاربة الروسية للعالم. فهي تعلن بوضوح أنّ روسيا مهتمّة بالعالم، بمقدار ما يحفظ ذلك الاهتمام مصالح روسيا ومكانتها. وحرص الوزير الروسي على التأكيد أنّ الأولوية هي حماية النفوذ الروسي في دول جوارها. هذا يستدعي مقاربة للمواقف الغربية بشكل عام والولايات المتحدة بشكل خاص. قد يكون الأمر بديهياً لولا التركيز على مبادئ في أسس التعاطي الروسي في مختلف الملفّات كالقانون الدولي، ما يدلّ على أنّ مصالحها ليست بالضرورة متناقضة مع مصالح العالم. ففي رأينا لا تعتمد روسيا، ومعها الصين، قاعدة اللعبة الصفرية حيث ربح فريق هو خسارة للفريق الآخر، بينما الولايات المتحدة والغرب عموماً لا يستطيعان التعاطي إلاّ على القاعدة الصفرية، فطبيعة الغرب طبيعة عدوانية بامتياز ولم يبنِ رخاءه إلاّ عبر العدوان والتوسّع واستعباد الشعوب، لكنّ تاريخهما الاستعماري والهيمنة الشمولية وضعتهما في حالة إنكار للتحوّلات في العالم. فبدلاً من الإقرار بتلك التحوّلات، يعمد الغرب والولايات المتحدة إلى الهروب إلى الأمام والإمعان في المغامرات غير المحسوبة. لذلك فإنّ الغرب بقيادة الولايات يعتبر أنّ مصالحه هي أولاً وأخيراً الهيمنة، بينما الرؤية الروسية هي التعاون عبر الندّية والاحترام المتبادل. لذلك تخلّلت المقابلة مع الوزير الروسي عبارات كالاحترام المتبادل والكرامة والإقرار بمصالح الآخرين ومفاهيم غير مألوفة في التعاطي الغربي الذي لا يتورّع عن إعلان استعلائه وعنجهيته و«تفوّق قيمه». والرؤية الروسية تعطي أولوية للقانون الدولي ومؤسساته التنفيذية كقرارات مجلس الأمن، بينما الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد الأوروبي يختبئان وراء عنوان فضفاض كـ»المجتمع الدولي» أو التحالفات المتعدّدة الأطراف في المغامرات العسكرية دون الارتكاز إلى القانون الدولي.

ففي العديد من الملفّات التي طرحها الصحافيون حول ما يمكن أن يكون الردّ الروسي في عدد من الملفّات كملف سيل الشمال 1 و2 الذي يوصل الغاز الروسي إلى دول الاتحاد الأوروبي والابتزاز الذي تقوم به بعض الدول تجاه روسيا. من ضمن الإجابات كان ردّه أنه آن الأوان أن لا تهتمّ روسيا بما في أحكام الغرب على سلوكها. بمعنى آخر، لم تعد روسيا ساعية إلى الحصول على «رضى» الغرب كما كان في السابق! هذا الموقف يتكامل مع الموقف الصيني الذي أشرنا إليه في مقدمّة هذه المقاربة أيّ أنّ الصين لن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي أمام الاستفزازات الأميركية، ما يدلّ على أنّ المحور دخل في فرض الندّية بالتعامل مع الغرب.

قد يكون من المفيد الاطّلاع على الرؤية الروسية لعدد من الملفّات الساخنة، وإن تباينت درجات السخونة فيها. بالنسبة إلى روسيا، كما جاء في الحوار، فإنّ العلاقات مع أوروبا والولايات المتحدة أخذت حيّزاً كبيراً، سواء بسبب عدد الأسئلة الموجّهة في هذا الموضوع أو في إسهاب الوزير الروسي في الردّ عليها. هذا يدلّ على أنّ الغرب ما زال يشكّل موضع اهتمام رئيسي للقيادة الروسية وإن كان أسلوب التعاطي الروسي مختلفاً كلّياً عن الأسلوب الأوروبي أو الأميركي. لكنّ هناك منعطفاً في التعاطي، حيث التساهل لم يعد قائماً، وفقاً للموقف المستجّد عند القيادة الروسية.

لم تكن العلاقة مع الولايات المتحدة مدخل الحديث مع وزير الخارجية بل الوضع في ناغورنو كاراباخ، حيث شرح الوزير الروسي دور الرئيس بوتين في المفاوضات ودور وزير الدفاع شويغو. لم يُبدِ أيّ قلق حيال التوتر في ما يمكن اعتباره الحديقة الجنوبية لروسيا ودور الأميركيين فيه، حيث اعتبر أنّ الأميركيين قد يساهمون في الحلّ عبر انسحابهم من المنطقة! شرح كيف تمّ الوصول إلى وقف إطلاق النار والآليات لتثبيته. كما أكّد أنّ احتمالات الحلّ السياسي موجودة وأنه في آخر المطاف لا بديل عن ذلك. الدبلوماسية الروسية معطوفة على موقف عسكري واضح وحازم ساهم في إجبار الطرفين، الأذري والأرمني على وقف إطلاق النار، ما يعزّز الدور الإقليمي لروسيا رغم الانتكاسات بسبب التدخّلات الأميركية والتركية.

وبالتالي يعرض لافروف رؤيته للعلاقة مع تركيا، فهذه العلاقة لا يصفها بالتحالف الاستراتيجي بل بالشراكة الاستراتيجية في عدد من القطاعات فقط. وهذا التوصيف الدقيق للعلاقة يكشف وجود تباينات عميقة في عدد من الملفّات الاستراتيجية كموضوع ناغورنو كاراباخ، وسورية وقبرص حيث اعتبر الدور التركي دوراً سلبياً زاد من تعقيدات الموقف المعقّد أصلاً.

في المقابل، يقرّ لافروف بأنّ لتركيا مصالح متعدّدة ومشروعة، بينما لا يقرّ بمصالح دول على بعد ألوف الكيلومترات كالولايات المتحدة، وفي ذلك إشارة إلى اهتمام تركيا بليبيا والخليج والبحر الأحمر. كما يقرّ بحق تركيا في موضوع جامع آيا صوفيا. لكن رغم كل ذلك، شدّد على أنّ تجنُّب الحرب أولوية في السياسة الخارجية الروسية وعدم اللجوء إليها إلاّ في حال العدوان، أي كدفاع عن النفس إلاّ أنه لفت الانتباه إلى أنّ الدبلوماسية الروسية تستند أيضاً إلى «رأي» وزير الدفاع شويغو لمن لا يفهم مغزى الموقف الروسي بالالتزام بالاتفاقات والقانون الدولي. هنا تتميّز روسيا عن السياسة الأميركية التي لجأت إلى سياسة الحرب الاستباقية لدرء أيّ تهديد على زعامتها في العالم وذلك منذ 2002، وفقاً للسياسة «الدفاعية» الشهيرة في أيلول/ سبتمبر من ذلك العام.

قراءتنا للموقف الروسي تجاه تركيا لم تتغير بعد الاطّلاع على مقابلة لافروف. فروسيا حريصة، في الحدّ الأدنى، على تحييد تركيا من دورها في الحلف الأطلسي وفي الحدّ الأقصى على إخراجها من ذلك الحلف. من هنا نفهم الإصرار على تفاهمات سوتشي وأستانا، رغم مناورات الرئيس التركي. فسياسة النفس الطويل والتقدّم تدريجياً هي التي تحرّك روسيا تجاه تركيا، ويساعدها في تلك الاستراتيجية سياسة الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران في ضرورة احتواء تركيا وتحييدها عن الحلف الأطلسي. هذا يعني في كثير من الأحيان غضّ النظر عن تخلّف تركيا في تنفيذ التزاماتها وتطعيم ذلك ببعض الإنذارات والإجراءات التي تعيد الرئيس التركي إلى السّير ضمن الخطوط المرسومة من قبل الحليفين الروسي والإيراني. هذا ما يحصل في الملف السوري وما يحصل في الملف الليبي ومؤخّراً في ملف ناغورنو كراباخ.

تطرّق الوزير الروسي إلى الدور الأميركي في عدد من القضايا، بدءاً من سورية، إلى ليبيا، إلى أوكرانيا، إلى «النزاع الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني». فبالنسبة إلى سورية يرى لافروف أنّ الأساس في التحرّك الأميركي هو زعزعة قرار مجلس الأمن رقم 2254 الذي أكّد على وحدة الأراضي السورية، والأميركيون نشطوا على خلق دولة على الأراضي السورية عبر دعمهم للوحدات الكردية. ويعتبر الوزير الروسي أنّ التدخّل التركي في شمال سورية «أكثر مشروعية» من التدخّل الأميركي. فتركيا لها مخاوف واضحة على أمنها الحدودي. في المقابل ليس للوجود الأميركي في شرق الفرات ما يبرّر ذلك إلاّ البعد النفطي وضرورة «إضعاف تركيا ومن بعدها روسيا». كذلك هو الأمر في ليبيا حيث زعزعة مكانة تركيا تصيب مكانة روسيا، على حدّ قوله، مستنداً إلى التصريحات العلنية للمسؤولين الأميركيين. فبالنسبة إلى تركيا والولايات المتحدة هناك عامل النفط الذي يلعب دوراً كبيراً في الصراع القائم كما لتركيا وجهة نظر في الصراع العربي الصهيوني، خاصة في ما يتعلّق بمستقبل مدينة القدس. ويعتقد الوزير الروسي أنّ الموقف التركي من قضية القدس جزء من الصراع حول زعامة العالم الإسلامي. فتركيا تتنافس مع بلاد الحرمين وإندونيسيا التي هي أكبر الدول الإسلامية في عدد السكّان على تلك الزعامة. التنافس داخل العالم الإسلامي يأخذ طابع الحدّية رغم محاولات بعض الزعماء، مشيراً إلى مبادرة الملك عبد الله الثاني وإعلان عمان سنة 2004 حول وحدة المسلمين. فهذه الوحدة غير موجودة والتفاهم غير موجود داخل العالم الإسلامي.

أما في ما يتعلّق بالملفّ الفلسطيني، فموقف روسيا واضح ولم يتغيّر وهو يدعم حلّ الدولتين. وأثنى الوزير الروسي على جهود الكيان (المصطلح من عندنا!) لـ «تحسين العلاقة» مع دول الجوار، ولكن ليس على حساب حقوق الشعب الفلسطيني التي تؤكدها قرارات الأمم المتحدة 181. هذا الموقف يستدعي بعض الملاحظات. الملاحظة الأولى أنّ الموقف الروسي يتنافى مع موقف محور المقاومة. الملاحظة الثانية هي أنّ الحرب الكونية التي شُنّت على سورية سببها الرئيس دعم المقاومة التي تشّكل خطراً وجودياً على الكيان المحتلّ. الملاحظة الثالثة هي أنّ الحلّ السياسي في سورية لا يمكن أن ينفصل عن حلّ القضية الفلسطينية، وبما أنه لا أفق جاداً لذلك الحلّ غير ما تعمل عليه المقاومة في فلسطين ولبنان، فهناك معضلة روسية لا نرى كيف يمكن تجاوزها بالنسبة إلى الحلّ السياسي المقترح روسياً لسورية. لا نملك الإجابة على ذلك ولكن نعتقد أنّ هذا الموضوع يستوجب البحث في العمق من قبل قيادات محور المقاومة. أما على الصعيد الداخلي السوري، فلا نستطيع أن نتكلّم نيابة عن الشعب السوري وقيادته في ما يتعلّق بالمقترحات الروسية. لكنّ كل ذلك لا ينفي طبيعة العلاقة الاستراتيجية بين سورية وروسيا التي تستطيع أن تتجاوز المعضلات، وإن كان بعضها أقرب للاستعصاء، كالموقف من الحل للقضية الفلسطينية. ففلسطين قضية داخلية في كلّ الأقطار العربية وفي طليعتها سورية وحتى في دول الخليج التي يحاول بعض قادتها تغيير الأولويات. فلا أحد يستطيع أن يقفز فوقها كما أنّ مقترح «حلّ الدولتين» أصبح في خبر كان بسبب تعنُّت قيادات وقاعدة الكيان الصهيوني المحتلّ. لكن ماذا سيكون الموقف إذا ما تدهور الوضع الداخلي في الكيان الصهيوني؟ عندئذ سيكون في رأينا لكلّ حادث حديث!

تناولت المقابلة مواضيع عدة كمفهوم الإمبراطورية والعلاقات الثنائية مع عدد من الدول. فهذه العلاقات يحكمها احترام المصالح والندّية والابتعاد عن قاعدة اللعبة الصفرية. كما أكّد الوزير الروسي أكثر من مرّة في المقابلة على تمسّك روسيا بالقانون الدولي. ففي ردّ على سؤال صريح حول جدوى ذلك التمسّك بالقانون الدولي الذي لا تحترمه الولايات المتحدة، أجاب أنّ الفوضى والدمار يصبحان سيّدي الموقف. كما تناول قضية إعادة كتابة التاريخ، خاصة تاريخ الحرب العالمية الثانية التي يعمل عليها قادة الدول الغربية، بدءاً من الولايات المتحدة مروراً بفرنسا (عدم دعوة الرئيس الروسي إلى احتفالات الإنزال للقوى الحليفة 2019 دليل مثال على ذلك) وكأنّ المنتصرة في الحرب في المسرح الأوروبي كانت الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا وفرنسا فقط، بينما الذي دفع الثمن الأكبر في الأرواح وتحمّل عبء المعارك العسكرية الطاحنة كان الاتحاد السوفياتي. هذه مسألة في غاية الحساسية عند الرئيس الروسي الذي تكلّم في مواقع كثيرة عن التزوير القائم في إعادة كتابة تاريخ الحرب العالمية الثانية. والمقابلة مع الوزير الروسي لم تخلُ من مقاربة ذلك الموضوع.

في الجزء الأخير من المقابلة، تناول الوزير الروسي العلاقات مع الولايات المتحدة. فقال إنّ العلاقة ستزداد سوءاً بغضّ النظر عمن سيربح الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية. واستشهد بمقال كتبه المخرج السينمائي سميون سليباكوف حيث اعتبر أنّ «أميركا لا تحبّنا». وندّد بالتدخّل الأميركي والغربي بشكل عام في الشؤون الداخلية الروسية عندما يلتقون ويشجّعون المعارضة الداخلية. لذلك قرّرت روسيا اللقاء مع المعارضة لكافة دول الغرب التي تتدخّل في الشأن الروسي كلقاء مع مارين لوبان المعارضة للرئيس الفرنسي ماكرون. كما اعتبر أنّ الخلاف الصيني الأميركي ليس فرصة للتقرّب من الولايات المتحدة كما يعتقد البعض، بل العكس فإنّ أيّ ابتعاد لن يكون لمصلحة روسيا. المسألة التي تهمّ روسيا في العلاقة مع الولايات المتحدة في المرحلة الراهنة هي الوصول إلى اتفاق حول الأسلحة الاستراتيجية. يعتبر الوزير الروسي أنّ الالتزام الأميركي بالحدّ من إنتاج أسلحة استراتيجية قد انتهى عملياً. الأميركيون يريدون فقط الحدّ من وسائل إيصال الأسلحة النووية إلى أهدافها أي الصواريخ والغوّاصات والطائرات إلخ. ويضيف أنّ الأميركيين يريدون فقط تعداد الترسانة وليس الحدّ منها كما أنّ المطلب الروسي هو سحب السلاح التكتيكي النووي من دول الجوار. واتهم الولايات المتحدة بخرق الاتفاقات عبر توريط دول الحلف الأطلسي في مناورات عسكرية نووية خلافاً للمعاهدات المعقودة. ويضيف أنّ الأميركيين يريدون العودة إلى آليات التحقّق التي وُضعت في مطلع التسعينات والتي اعتبرها مذلّة وخلص إلى أنّ الشروط الأميركية لن يوافقوا عليها مطلقاً.

وأخيراً، في ما يتعلّق بالصين، أكّد الوزير الروسي مواقف سابقة وهي أنّ الصين لها أهداف اقتصادية تسعى إلى تحقيقها على صعيد القارة الآسيوية، وهي أهداف مشروعة وأنّ روسيا تشاركها في النهضة الاقتصادية التي تقوم بها الصين. لم يعتبر أنّ هناك طموحات هيمنة بل تعاون مع كلّ المشتركين.

في الخلاصة، عرض الوزير الروسي أسس العلاقات الدولية كما يجب أن تكون والتي ذكرناها في مطلع المقاربة. كما أكّد على ضرورة تجنّب الحرب مهما كلّف الأمر إلاّ في حال العدوان. فالسياسية الروسية العسكرية هي سياسة دفاعية عن الأرض الروسية، أوّلاً وأخيراً، وأيّ اعتداء أو محاولة اعتداء سيواجه بالحزم المطلوب. ذاكرة الحرب العالمية والكلفة الباهظة الذي تحمّلها الاتحاد السوفياتي تحكم سلوك القيادة الروسية وذلك يفسّر الحساسية الكبيرة لمحاولات الدول الغربية إعادة كتابة لتاريخ والتقليل من دور روسيا. كلام الوزير الروسي نابع من ثقة بالنفس وثقة بدور روسيا ولم يُبد قلقاً من المحاولات الأميركية لزعزعة الوضع في دول الجوار سواء في أوكرانيا أو في منطقة القوقاز. كما أبدى امتلاك سياسة النفس الطويل الذي يقارب الأمور بهدوء ويأخذ بعين الاعتبار مصالح الصديق والخصم، في آن واحد، وبالتالي يتجنّب ارتكاب أخطاء سوء التقدير.

ـــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــ

كاتب وباحث اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

*

Will Confucius marry Marx?

Will Confucius marry Marx?

October 10, 2020

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

Chinese scholar Lanxin Xiang has written a book, The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics, that is arguably the most extraordinary effort in decades trying to bridge the East-West politico-historical divide.

It’s impossible in a brief column to do justice to the relevance of the discussions this book inspires. Here we will highlight some of the key issues – hoping they will appeal to an informed readership especially across the Beltway, now convulsed by varying degrees of Sinophobia.

Xiang delves right into the fundamental contradiction: China is widely accused by the West of lack of democratic legitimacy exactly as it enjoys a four-decade, sustainable, history-making economic boom.

He identifies two key sources for the Chinese problem: “On the one hand, there is the project of cultural restoration through which Chinese leader Xi Jinping attempts to restore ‘Confucian legitimacy’ or the traditional ‘Mandate of Heaven’; on the other hand, Xi refuses to start any political reforms, because it is his top priority to preserve the existing political system, i.e., a ruling system derived mainly from an alien source, Bolshevik Russia.”

Ay, there’s the rub: “The two objectives are totally incompatible”.

Xiang contends that for the majority of Chinese – the apparatus and the population at large – this “alien system” cannot be preserved forever, especially now that a cultural revival focuses on the Chinese Dream.

Needless to add, scholarship in the West is missing the plot completely – because of the insistence on interpreting China under Western political science and “Eurocentric historiography”. What Xiang attempts in his book is to “navigate carefully the conceptual and logical traps created by post-Enlightenment terminologies”.

Thus his emphasis on deconstructing “master keywords” – a wonderful concept straight out of ideography. The four master keywords are legitimacy, republic, economy and foreign policy. This volume concentrates on legitimacy (hefa, in Chinese).

When law is about morality

It’s a joy to follow how Xiang debunks Max Weber – “the original thinker of the question of political legitimacy”. Weber is blasted for his “rather perfunctory study of the Confucian system”. He insisted that Confucianism – emphasizing only equality, harmony, decency, virtue and pacifism – could not possibly develop a competitive capitalist spirit.

Xiang shows how since the beginning of the Greco-Roman tradition, politics was always about a spatial conception – as reflected in polis (a city or city-state). The Confucian concept of politics, on the other hand, is “entirely temporal, based on the dynamic idea that legitimacy is determined by a ruler’s daily moral behavior.”

Xiang shows how hefa contains in fact two concepts: “fit” and “law” – with “law” giving priority to morality.

In China, the legitimacy of a ruler is derived from a Mandate of Heaven (Tian Ming). Unjust rulers inevitably lose the mandate – and the right to rule. This, argues Xiang, is “a dynamic ‘deeds-based’ rather than ‘procedure-based’ argument.”

Essentially, the Mandate of Heaven is “an ancient Chinese belief that tian [ heaven, but not the Christian heaven, complete with an omniscient God] grants the emperor the right to rule based on their moral quality and ability to govern well and fairly.”

The beauty of it is that the mandate does not require a divine connection or noble bloodline, and has no time limit. Chinese scholars have always interpreted the mandate as a way to fight abuse of power.

The overall crucial point is that, unlike in the West, the Chinese view of history is cyclical, not linear: “Legitimacy is in fact a never-ending process of moral self-adjustment.”

Xiang then compares it with the Western understanding of legitimacy. He refers to Locke, for whom political legitimacy derives from explicit and implicit popular consent of the governed. The difference is that without institutionalized religion, as in Christianity, the Chinese created “a dynamic conception of legitimacy through the secular authority of general will of the populace, arriving at this idea without the help of any fictional political theory such as divine rights of humanity and ‘social contract’’.

Xiang cannot but remind us that Leibniz described it as “Chinese natal theology”, which happened not to clash with the basic tenets of Christianity.

Xiang also explains how the Mandate of Heaven has nothing to do with Empire: “Acquiring overseas territories for population resettlement never occurred in Chinese history, and it does little to enhance legitimacy of the ruler.”

In the end it was the Enlightenment, mostly because of Montesquieu, that started to dismiss the Mandate of Heaven as “nothing but apology for ‘Oriental Despotism’”. Xiang notes how “pre-modern Europe’s rich interactions with the non-Western world” were “deliberately ignored by post-Enlightenment historians.”

Which brings us to a bitter irony: “While modern ‘democratic legitimacy’ as a concept can only work with the act of delegitimizing other types of political system, the Mandate of Heaven never contains an element of disparaging other models of governance.” So much for “the end of history.”

Why no Industrial Revolution?

Xiang asks a fundamental question: “Is China’s success indebted more to the West-led world economic system or to its own cultural resources?”

And then he proceeds to meticulously debunk the myth that economic growth is only possible under Western liberal democracy – a heritage, once again, of the Enlightenment, which ruled that Confucianism was not up to the task.

We already had an inkling that was not the case with the ascension of the East Asian tigers – Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea – in the 1980s and 1990s. That even moved a bunch of social scientists and historians to admit that Confucianism could be a stimulus to economic growth.

Yet they only focused on the surface, the alleged “core” Confucian values of hard work and thrift, argues Xiang: “The real ‘core’ value, the Confucian vision of state and its relations to economy, is often neglected.”

Virtually everyone in the West, apart from a few non-Eurocentric scholars, completely ignores that China was the world’s dominant economic superpower from the 12th century to the second decade of the 19th century.

Xiang reminds us that a market economy – including private ownership, free land transactions, and highly specialized mobile labor – was established in China as early as in 300 B.C. Moreover, “as early as in the Ming dynasty, China had acquired all the major elements that were essential for the British Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.”

Which brings us to a persistent historical enigma: why the Industrial Revolution did not start in China?

Xiang turns the question upside down: “Why traditional China needed an industrial revolution at all?”

Once again, Xiang reminds us that the “Chinese economic model was very influential during the early period of the Enlightenment. Confucian economic thinking was introduced by the Jesuits to Europe, and some Chinese ideas such as the laisser-faire principle led to free-trade philosophy.”

Xiang shows not only how external economic relations were not important for Chinese politics and economy but also that “the traditional Chinese view of state is against the basic rationale of the industrial revolution, for its mass production method is aimed at conquering not just the domestic market but outside territories.”

Xiang also shows how the ideological foundation for Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations began to veer towards individualist liberalism while “Confucius never wavered from a position against individualism, for the role of the economy is to ‘enrich people’ as a whole, not specific individuals.”

All that leads to the fact that “in modern economics, the genuine conversation between the West and China hardly exists from the outset, since the post-Enlightenment West has been absolutely confident about its sole possession of the ‘universal truth’ and secret in economic development, which allegedly has been denied to the rest of the world.”

An extra clue can be found when we see what ‘economy” (jingji) means in China: Jingji is “an abbreviate term of two characters describing neither pure economic nor even commercial activities. It simply means ‘managing everyday life of the society and providing sufficient resources for the state”. In this conception, politics and economy can never be separated into two mechanical spheres. The body politic and the body economic are organically connected.”

And that’s why external trade, even when China was very active in the Ancient Silk Road, “was never considered capable of playing a key role for the health of the overall economy and the well-being of the people.”

Wu Wei and the invisible hand

Xiang needs to go back to the basics: the West did not invent the free market. The laisser-faire principle was first conceptualized by Francois Quesnay, the forerunner of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”. Quesnay, curiously, was known at the time as the “European Confucius”.

In Le Despotisme de la Chine (1767), written 9 years before The Wealth of Nations, Quesnay was frankly in favor of the meritocratic concept of giving political power to scholars and praised the “enlightened” Chinese imperial system.

An extra delicious historical irony is that laisser-faire, as Xiang reminds us, was directly inspired by the Taoist concept of wu wei – which we may loosely translate as “non-action”.

Xiang notes how “Adam Smith, deeply influenced by Quesnay whom he had met in Paris for learning this laisser-faire philosophy, may have got right the meaning of wu wei with his invention of “invisible hand”, suggesting a proactive rather than passive economic system, and keeping the Christian theological dimension aside.”

Xiang reviews everyone from Locke and Montesquieu to Stuart Mill, Hegel and Wallerstein’s “world system” theory to arrive at a startling conclusion: “The conception of China as a typical ‘backward’ economic model was a 20th century invention built upon the imagination of Western cultural and racial superiority, rather than historical reality.”

Moreover, the idea of ‘backward-looking’ was actually not established in Europe until the French revolution: “Before that, the concept of ‘revolution’ had always retained a dimension of cyclical, rather than ‘progressive’ – i.e., linear, historical perspective. The original meaning of revolution (from the Latin word revolutio, a “turn-around”) contains no element of social progress, for it refers to a fundamental change in political power or organizational structures that takes place when the population rises up in revolt against the current authorities.”

Will Confucius marry Marx?

And that brings us to post-modern China. Xiang stress how a popular consensus in China is that the Communist Party is “neither Marxist nor capitalist, and its moral standard has little to do with the Confucian value system”. Consequently, the Mandate of Heaven is “seriously damaged”.

The problem is that “marrying Marxism and Confucianism is too dangerous”.

Xiang identifies the fundamental flaw of the Chinese wealth distribution “in a system that guarantees a structural process of unfair (and illegal) wealth transfer, from the people who contribute labor to the production of wealth to the people who do not.”

He argues that, “deviation from Confucian traditional values explains the roots of the income distribution problem in China better than the Weberian theories which tried to establish a clear linkage between democracy and fair income distribution”.

So what is to be done?

Xiang is extremely critical of how the West approached China in the 19th century, “through the path of Westphalian power politics and the show of violence and Western military superiority.”

Well, we all know how it backfired. It led to a genuine modern revolution – and Maoism. The problem, as Xiang interprets it, is that the revolution “transformed the traditional Confucian society of peace and harmony into a virulent Westphalian state.”

So only through a social revolution inspired by October 1917 the Chinese state “begun the real process of approaching the West” and what we all define as “modernization”. What would Deng say?

Xiang argues that the current Chinese hybrid system, “dominated by a cancerous alien organ of Russian Bolshevism, is not sustainable without drastic reforms to create a pluralist republican system. Yet these reforms should not be conditioned upon eliminating traditional political values.”

So is the CCP capable of successfully merging Confucianism and Marxism-Leninism? Forging a unique, Chinese, Third Way? That’s not only the major theme for Xiang’s subsequent books: that’s a question for the ages.

Trump’s Surprising Alaska-Canada Rail Announcement: Might America Join the Polar Silk Road?

By Matthew Ehret for the Saker Blog

Trump’s Surprising Alaska-Canada Rail Announcement: Might America Join the Polar Silk Road?

On September 26, President Trump announced that a long-overdue project would receive Federal support which involves connecting Alaska for the first time with Canada and the lower 48 states via a 2570 km railway.

In his Tweet announcing the project, Trump said:

Ever since the days of the sale of Alaska from Russia to the USA in 1867, it was understood by leading statesmen of both nations that an inevitable next phase in human society’s evolution would involve extending the U.S. Trans Continental Railway through Canada, into Alaska and thence into Russia and Asia via the Bering Strait rail tunnel. This project had received fervent support from such figures as Russian Prime Minister Sergei Witte, Colorado’s Governor William Gilpin and even Czar Nicholas II who commissioned American engineers to conduct a feasibility study in 1906. These stories were told in full in my recent reports The Missed Chance of 1867, and The Real Story Behind the Alaska Purchase.

By the mid 20th century, the project to connect Alaska with Canada and the rest of the continent while opening the Arctic for development found its champions in the forms of Vice President Henry Wallace (1941-1945), President John F Kennedy (1961-63) and in Canada B.C. Premier W.A.C. Bennett (1952-72) and Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (1957-1963).

During Bennett’s 20 year role as Premier (from 1952-1972), the Province was pulled quickly into the 20th century becoming an international hub of hydroelectric power, industrial growth and water management. As the story was told in Forgotten Battles Against the Deep State: W.A.C. Bennett vs the Malthusians, Bennett’s growth program never occurred without vicious battles pitting high level anti-development Rhodes Scholars operating within both Ottawa and his own Provincial administration against him and his small team of nation builders. Unfortunately for Bennett who always intended his northern rail programs to connect with Alaska, his key ally in Ottawa was taken out of power during a Rhodes Scholar-driven coup in 1963 and John F Kennedy, who met Bennett and supported many of infrastructure initiatives fell earlier that same year.

With the fall of these statesmen, a new paradigm took hold of western society premised on living in the moment, rejecting ideas like “the nuclear family”, belief in scientific and technological progress”, or the study of “dead white European males” in universities.

The era of building things was choked off and an era of monetary growth was unleashed like a cancerous tumor under globalization.

Today, with the immanent breakdown of the post-1971 de-regulated order, a new order is emerging and it remains to be seen who will benefit.

For all of his limitations, President Trump has displayed a rare and invaluable quality unseen in an American president for decades: Humanity and genuine patriotism. While neocons and technocrats attempt to gain the upper hand amidst the impending blowout of the $1.5 quadrillion derivatives bubble called the western economy, a new epoch of serious nation building has emerged with the Russia-China alliance and Belt and Road Initiative, which has extended development corridors, industrial zones and mass infrastructure led by rail throughout Asia, Africa and increasingly into the Russian Arctic under the Polar Silk Road.

In its essential character, this Multipolar alliance represents a form of thinking and action which are much more in alignment with discoverable principles of natural law (premised not on “Might Makes Right but rather “Right makes Might” as enunciated famously by the great Chinese President and revolutionary in his Three Principles of the People (modelled on his studies of Lincoln’s principles of government) where he said: “The rule of Right respects benevolence and virtue, while the rule of Might only respects force and utilitarianism. The rule of Right always influences people with justice and reason, while the rule of Might always oppresses people with brute force and military measures.”

Todays potential re-emergence of the Alaska-Canada Railway which would be driven under a pro-Pacific and pro-Arctic development model represents the first genuine display of this paradigm in North America in decades.

If it survives the oncoming Environmental Impact Assessments and Federal Government of Canada (which is currently run by anti-development Rhodes Scholars and technocrats committed to depopulation and world government), then it will not only upon up bountiful resources locked up in the inaccessible Arctic, create tens of thousands of much needed jobs directly and millions of jobs indirectly and vector North America’s economic destiny with the ever-growing Asian markets led by China. Most importantly, it will do much to break the west free of the two-fold trap of anti-development versions of environmentalism on the one side and pro-militarization right wing views on the other side- bringing us into a policy of win-win cooperation with our Eurasian partners.

The Alaska-Alberta Railway Development Corporation (tasked by Trump with the job of building and managing this $17 billion project), features on its website programs to tie North America into the Asian market as well as help integrate a North American transport system whose once proud rail system have fallen derelict since WWII and the age of “highways and cars” took over.

A2A CEO Sean McCoshen stated as much this year when he said: “This is a world-class infrastructure project that will generate more than 18,000 jobs for Canadian workers at a time when they are most needed, provide a new, more efficient route for trans-Pacific shipping and thereby link Alberta to world markets.”

Whether or not such programs which may now occur since Globalizated monsters like NAFTA and the TPP have been jettisoned giving nation states the authority to exercise a dirigistic role in long term economic planning remains to be seen.

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 Today’s India is on the Wrong Side of History

Why Today’s India is on the Wrong Side of History

September 13, 2020

by Allen Yu for the Saker Blog

Recently, I wrote a short comment in the piece India’s border policies line with Thalassa noting that “India is on the wrong side of history.” It was too “conclusory” a comment deserves to be better explained. So I’d like to take a brief time why I think India is on the wrong side of history in siding with America against China today.

I’d first like to take a larger view of history.

Historical Context

Human history has for the most part gotten better over the last few tens of thousands of years. Our technology has advanced. Our life expectancies have increased. The last 200 or so years have seen the most explosive advances. The pace of scientific and technological advances has created a world beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors.

And if we believe that the human spirit of ingenuity will continue, as there is no reason not to, then the best is still yet to come. 90% of all scientists that have ever lived are alive today. If we can have peace and the world allowed to be free from hegemonic oppression, I’d say the future is bright for the human species.

Unfortunately, ominous dark clouds have hung over the world despite all the positive momentum of history. We live in a time of great paradoxes. Though the world is currently in a “time of peace,” with technologies and economies fast advancing, in relative overall prosperity, sponsored Color Revolutions and civil wars have been unleashed upon many nations, devastating regions from Iraq to Afghanistan to Ukraine to Egypt to Syria to Hong Kong. Economic sanctions have ravaged whole generations of peoples in regions from N. Korea to Turkey to Iran to Venezuela.

WWII by most accounts represents a righteous high point in history. It represents the defeat of the axes of fascism and colonialism. Yet, fascism and colonialism never left us. It got transformed and embedded into our new world.

The more things changed, the more we realize that many things haven’t changed. The poor and disposed of the colonial era are for the most part still poor and dispossessed. Russia is still the target of Western aggression after hundreds of years of antagonism. Even China – the presumed challenger to the West – has not escaped the trajectory of this history. Western powers – with their allies – are now actively scheming and working hard to suffocate China economically and technologically in an attempt to shove it back to a place of perpetual subservience to Western interests.

Some may argue say that Russia and China’s problems are that both had overplayed their hands. Russia had overextended itself in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and crossed the West’s “red line” in Ukraine. China has crossed the “red line” in the S. China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, etc.

The truth is that it is the West that has crossed the line in Europe, the Middle East and in Ukraine … and in S. China SeaHong Kong, and Xinjiang.

India’s Strategic Blunder

It is at this critical juncture that India has decided to pivot toward the West. India is making a gigantic strategic mistake. Here are some reasons why.

  • It does not make sense to make an enemy of 1.4 billion people. It’s is one thing to fight a border war, but it is quite another to actually join a group of others to contain the development and growth of 1.4 billion people. The wrath and actions coming out of the U.S. against China has been truly surprising and depressing. It is against the basic rights and dignity expressed in the UN charter. Why should India join that chorus? Chinese have no animosity toward the Indian people. However, the Indian populace – fanned by an irresponsible media with much rumors and fake news – has allowed itself to be whipped into a giant anti-China frenzy.
  • America – and the broader West – will not help India to develop. Many Indians fancy that India – after America decouples from China – will take the place of China and that the West is going to help pull India out of poverty the way it has helped to pull China out of poverty. That is just not going to happen. There are a few reasons for this.
    • First, America has squandered much of its capital since becoming the sole superpower with its endless wars since the fall of the Soviet Union. America today thinks the world as set up after WWII is set against it, with much of the world leaching off America’s largess. America will have no more of it. Enough has been enough! Never again will America work for another country!!! America now wants the world to serve it, not the other way around. If Indians think America had pulled China out of poverty (Chinese mince at that notion since they believe it is they themselves who pulled themselves out of poverty), they can rest assured America will not be able to do the same for India.
    • Second, the West has come to see the world not in win-win terms, but in zero sum terms. For a brief while, the West did experiment with some version of win-win globalism. While it infused globalism with its own suffocating ideologies and rules to benefit itself, it did for a while work on a flatter world. In this “flat world,” people the world over get to exchange ideas and goods and services with each other, for each other’s own benefits, all in a win-win fashion. But that period soon ended. It’s not just Trump. It’s the whole establishment and populace. The jealousy by which the West has come to guard their knowhow, markets, and manufacturing resources for Covid-19 vaccines represents just the tip of the ice berg. The West used to think of itself as a shining beacon for the world. It had first rate technology and science that attract the world over to learn and disseminate back to the world. Now, it considers people coming to learn and bring back knowledge as “stealing.” It considers manufacturing abroad as stealing. It considers R&D abroad as “stealing.” Whatever India hopes to get from America and the West, it is not going to be good jobs or know-how. America wants its manufacturing back. It has drawn from China’s rise the (incorrect) lesson that it should never help or allow another power rise. It doesn’t want to depend on China – or anyone else – to make anything but the lowest value items. It becomes suspicious when others make its masks, medical equipment, pharmaceutical products, software, cars, computers, etc. It will think twice, thrice, about ever helping to create a new peer competitor again.
    • America – and the broader West – is in decline. The West is in decline. There is no doubt about it. The writing is on America’s economic wall – or more accurately, in its Fed balance sheet. An economy cannot go on printing money. An economy cannot stay productive with prolonged low interest rates and paper printing, where the most productive and valuable thing it produces are military weapons. Many people talk about America’s “soft power.” I say B.S. If you take away America’s military, do you think America’s “soft power” will stand on its own? No. America’s “software power” will vaporize. American soft power stands on its military power. And America’s military power stands on the might of its economic power. Recently, that economic power is buttressed in part by China (through trade). But now America no longer wants to rely on faraway lands for anything. Once it starts decoupling from China, it will soon realize how weak it economically is. An economic reckoning will come. Such a inflection point would not necessarily bad for the American people. Stripped of its imperial duties and obligations, Americans can focus on the important things that had made America “America” again. But it means the days of the American Empire are ending. The days of America helping to lift another nation from poverty has long gone.
  • America – and the broader West – is not capable of negotiation. The West cannot keep any agreement that goes against their interests. When even the slightest of circumstances change, they find a reason to tear up the agreements, with the Iran nuclear deal but one example. Whatever deal India think it is going to get, it is not going to get what it thinks it will get. The relationship will only work song as so India gives up much more than it receives. This is the Western way. Forget about getting a fair deal. Forget about even getting a good deal. India is thinking about forging a long-term deal … I say be realistic. There is nothing special about India that will make the West change. Beggars can’t demand change. The West is not going to change its fundamental ways for you.
  • India will miss the boat in the rising Asian Century. The engine of the new global growth for the foreseeable future will be China and its surrounding neighbors. No one doubts that. Many ASEAN nations – despite having intractable territorial disputes with China in the S. China Sea – have decided to join China in building a shared future. India too has been invited but it has decided time and time against joining China because of its territorial disputes with China. This is short-sighted. China and India are old sister civilizations that have long interacted with each other. The notion of a straight line fixed territory is a Western concept. When we fixate on boundaries to the exclusion of everything else, we get led down a zero-sum intractable dispute.

China’s “community with shared future for mankind”

China is pushing forward a framework of “community with shared future for mankind” for foreign relations. This is a rejection of both traditional ideological based framework of international relations as well as the cold “realist” approach.

It is a rejection of traditional ideology in the sense it is truly agnostic about what forms of government or other ideologies other nations follow. As Deng Xiao Ping has been quoted to say, “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” It doesn’t matter if you have a left leaning or right leaning, or capitalistic or socialist, or “democratic” or “authoritarian” government, what matters is if you deliver good governance for the people.

It is a rejection of traditional realistic approach because it doesn’t really view might as the end and be all. While China acknowledges cold realism, it also aspires for a new world order that promotes global justice – which can be summarized as true sovereignty of each nation to develop as it chooses for its people.

The way to a stable world then – according to China – is to create an environment where we can raise the water for each other, shelving all conflicts as much as possible. Once everyone is better off enough – hopefully much better off than today – many issues – including territorial disputes – will become much easier to resolve.

Why Shelf Territorial Dispute?

So if we go back to the India and China territorial dispute: sure, the two neighbors can always fight to the death over a piece of territory, but that is missing the forest for the trees. What they need – above all else – is to develop each other’s society, to pull its peoples from poverty, to provide a better future for its people. What they need then is to meet each other somewhere in the middle and to enable each other to cooperate with each other. China’s faith – which should be India’s as well – is that the benefits of cooperation will in the future outweigh – far outweigh – any territorial concession each can make. It will outweigh territorial concessions because the sky is the limit to where each nation can develop.

If you think lifting 800 million out of poverty over 4 decades is amazing, think lifting 1 .4 billion between India and China over the next 4 decades! That’s the kind of vision and possibility we are looking at!!!

The way out of today’s intractable territorial dispute is to shelf it and to focus on things both sides can cooperate on, leaving the problem for a much more prosperous generation to settle on. The important thing is to build a bigger pie for our future generations instead of bickering over today’s limited pie.

Unfortunately India has decided to not only reject that vision, but to ally with U.S. to suppress China’s win-win shared common future from arising.

From China’s view, the world has been held hostage by the West for too long. Too many nations either cannot or do not want to stand up for their right to develop. The cost of standing up to the hegemon just seems too high. Many actually want to work with the hegemony, hoping to for fleeting crumbs of good will and vague rewards, even if it means enabling the hegemon to continue its pillaging and oppression over them.

The human psyche is a strange thing. While human beings have been known to rise to the highest of braveries in defense of justice, righteousness, honor, and faith, they can also be exceedingly weak and feeble. There are too many stories of a man or woman being beaten to death by a criminal, with passive crowds and strangers watching and passing by, doing nothing.

“Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.” The world must go beyond taking short-term benefits from the West and learn to fish by themselves. It cannot always beg for a fish scrap here and there. It cannot keep fighting against or sabotaging each other for favors from the rich.

Too many of the areas of the world with territorial conflicts have arisen from their colonial legacy. The China-Indian territorial disputes arose from British colonial legacy (others that come to mind include the Palestinian issue, Cyprus, Kashmir, Pakistan-India animosity, etc.). The world must be able to through this trap to free themselves collectively from their colonial legacy.

The West – despite all its follies – continue to be strong. It has the most wealth, technologies, and strongest military. It can buy allies anywhere around the world. It can bribe and corrupt most governments around the world. But in the long term, it cannot last. The rest of the world must learn to stand up by itself.

Freedom and Development with Strings Attached

As the world currently stand, if nothing major is done, much of the fruits of science and technology will continue to accrue only to a few nations. The U.S. and the “West” has been the undisputed leader across a wide swath of science and technology in the 20th and 21th century. By their actions throughout history and today, we know Western dominance rests exclusively on their scientific and technological prowess. If their ideological prowess, not their technological prowess, is the source of their power, why are they so quick to demand others adopt their ideologies while remaining so protective of their technologies?

I mean … have you wondered why the West would want to shove down the rest of the world’s throat their version of “democracy” and “rule of law” … but get so worked up when others learn from them knowledge about science and technology?

Today, China is the only power capable of challenging all dimensions of the Western grip on of scientific and technological dominance – at least in the foreseeable future. But just as China begins to appear to be a credible competitor or alternative, the West is mounting an all spectrum attack on China to suppress its ability to access technology and markets around the world.

Thus we see that the West’s preaching of “free markets” and “rule-based economy” has always been a mirage. The British demanded “freedom” because they wanted the “freedom” to pillage on their own terms. They know that since they had the best technology and companies, the world is there for their picking if the barriers are broken down. Hence they worked to knock those barriers down!

The U.S. took on their mantle … and demanded “freedom” … too, also for the U.S. to pillage the world on their own terms. But when their dominance is threatened, the veil of “free markets” and “rule-based” trade systems has come down too.

From the Chinese view, the U.S.’s lack of confidence about China’s rise shows how insincere and hypocritical the West has always been about the world. Many Chinese have long seen through the façade of “ideologies,” and “norms” and “rules” masquerading hegemony real politik.

China’s dreams for win-win shared future are not false ideals. After all, it is not completely devoid of precedence. After U.S. helped to rebuild Europe and/or Japan, has the U.S. not received benefits from those regions? Of course! Not only have they contributed to advances in science and technology, they also provided a market for the U.S.

But there is a critical limit about American good will. Europe and Japan were allowed to succeed – but only up to a certain level. The main value of allowing Europe and Japan some prosperity is not in making those regions better off per se. The main value was in using those regions to contain Soviet Union / Russia and China. Europe and Japan understand their roles as subservient powers – and their roles as first lines of containment against Russia and China.

A Disgruntled West

Today, with U.S.’s political system and social fabric deteriorating, the U.S. is going through a fundamental rethink. The U.S. now openly thinks allies like Japan and Europe have been “taking advantage” of the U.S. The U.S. now wants payback. From its allies, it seeks better trade deals and more “protection money.”

And against China, it is on a crusade to stop its development. In China’s view, this is a red line and truly tragic. China believes the fundamental right of every people is the right to develop. It is the right of the U.S. to want to decouple from China. But to try to form an alliance to constrain the growth of 1.4 billion, as it had already with lesser powers such as N. Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela is to cross China’s fundamental red line.

India is on the wrong side of history because it is siding with a West that is going to such levels to extend its grip on dominating the world. Some time ago, I remember seeing Trump tweet out an edited version of Time’s cover of Trumpism outlasting Trump … lasting “4EVER”! There is an important kernel of truth to that video!

The West has changed. It is now open about wanting to dominate the world through suppression instead of being the light that draws the world.

Painting Itself into a Corner

In wanting to join the Western crusade against China, India too has crossed to the wrong side of history. In the coming multipolar world, India is positioning itself in a place where it will be difficult for it to develop. The capital and knowhow that can flow from a renewed China will no longer flow to India. By rejecting the Belts and Road Initiates and the RCEP, India is decoupling from Asia’s coming century.

Losing all that, but what does India have to gain? India will not be able to tease more territory out of China by playing tough. If India believes it can hang on the disputed territories against China, so too can China hang on to its disputed territories against India. Whatever India thinks it can do against China, China can do the same to India. This should be beyond any doubts!

So no new territories will be gained (or lost) through India’s current posture. What is lost however is the space for cooperation and mutual growth. India’s rejection of strategic cooperation perceived tactical gain is India’s tragic mistake today.

China is strong enough to go along without India if necessary. It is moving full steam ahead with its Belts and Road Initiative, RCEP, CJK, etc. It has formed a formidable relationship with Russia not based on ideology, alliance, political preferences, etc. – but based on building up and emphasizing common interests between two previous competitors. China and Russia will be friends not necessarily because the people “like” each other – although Chinese generally do have overwhelming positive feels toward the Russian people – but because their leaders have worked hard to ensure that they have develop and enhance many overlapping common interests.

A Relationship of Mutual Respect and Shared Common Future

Russia and China represents the sort of respectful, cooperative give and take relationship that China believes will represent the future of man-kind. They will succeed because such thinking not because you either join China or get kicked out on the high way. No, it will succeed because it will create far more than the West’s zero sum approach.

Now, don’t think everything is jolly good between Russia and China. I am sure the leaders have had many “frank” discussions about their differences … often. Historically China and Russia has had many issues. But rather than just hyping up (or burying, which is just as bad) their past, they have chosen to work on cooperating with each – to each other’s mutual benefits.

There is still time for India to join China. For eons China and India have coexisted with each other without a clearly demarcated border. Yes, in our modern world, we all long for clearly defined boundaries. But if that’s not possible, it should not be the end all and be all! Through cooperation, India and China can build a bright, shared future together, notwithstanding the territorial disputes. Now is the time for India’s leaders to decide if petty adventures on the border and allying with a dying hegemon are truly in India’s interest. Will India go down defiant, proud, and loud – but weak, petty, and trapped in the history of time?


Allen Yu is an IP attorney in Silicon Valley, a founding blogger at blog.hiddenharmonies.org, as well as an adjunct fellow at the Chunqiu Institute for Development and Strategic Studies. He holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a D. Engr., M.S., and B.S. from UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

From 9/11 to the Great Reset

From 9/11 to the Great Reset

September 11, 2020

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

9/11 was the foundation stone of the new millennium – ever as much indecipherable as the Mysteries of Eleusis. A year ago, on Asia Times, once again I raised a number of questions that still find no answer.

A lightning speed breakdown of the slings and arrows of outrageous (mis)fortune trespassing these two decades will certainly include the following. The end of history. The short unipolar moment. The Pentagon’s Long War. Homeland Security. The Patriot Act. Shock and Awe. The tragedy/debacle in Iraq. The 2008 financial crisis. The Arab Spring. Color revolutions. “Leading from behind”. Humanitarian imperialism. Syria as the ultimate proxy war. The ISIS/Daesh farce. The JCPOA. Maidan. The Age of Psyops. The Age of the Algorithm. The Age of the 0.0001%.

Once again, we’re deep in Yeats territory: “the best lack all conviction/ while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

All along, the “War on Terror” – the actual decantation of the Long War – proceeded unabated, killing Muslim multitudes and displacing at least 37 million people.

WWII-derived geopolitics is over. Cold War 2.0 is in effect. It started as US against Russia, morphed into US against China and now, fully spelled out in the US National Security Strategy, and with bipartisan support, it’s the US against both. The ultimate Mackinder-Brzezinski nightmare is at hand: the much dread “peer competitor” in Eurasia slouched towards the Beltway to be born in the form of the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Something’s gotta give. And then, out of the blue, it did.

A drive by design towards ironclad concentration of power and geoconomic diktats was first conceptualized – under the deceptive cover of “sustainable development” – already in 2015 at the UN (here it is, in detail).

Now, this new operating system – or technocratic digital dystopia – is finally being codified, packaged and “sold” since mid summer via a lavish, concerted propaganda campaign.

Watch your mindspace

The whole Planet Lockdown hysteria that elevated Covid-19 to post-modern Black Plague proportions has been consistently debunked, for instance here and here, drawing from the highly respected, original Cambridge source.

The de facto controlled demolition of large swathes of the global economy allowed corporate and vulture capitalism, world wide, to rake untold profits out of the destruction of collapsed businesses.

And all that proceeded with widespread public acceptance – an astonishing process of voluntary servitude.

None of it is accidental. As an example, over then years ago, even before setting up a – privatized – Behavioral Insights Team, the British government was very much interested in “influencing” behavior, in collaboration with the London School of Economics and Imperial College.

The end result was the MINDSPACE report. That was all about behavioral science influencing policymaking and most of all, imposing neo-Orwellian population control.

MINDSPACE, crucially, featured close collaboration between Imperial College and the Santa Monica-based RAND corporation. Translation:

the authors of the absurdly flawed computer models that fed the Planet Lockdown paranoia working in conjunction with the top Pentagon-linked think tank.

In MINDSPACE, we find that, “behavioral approaches embody a line of thinking that moves from the idea of an autonomous individual, making rational decisions, to a ‘situated’ decision-maker, much of whose behavior is automatic and influenced by their ‘choice environment’”.

So the key question is who decides what is the “choice environment’. As it stands, our whole environment is conditioned by Covid-19. Let’s call it “the disease”. And that is more than enough to beautifully set up “the cure”: The Great Reset.

The beating heart

The Great Reset was officially launched in early June by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the natural habitat of Davos Man. Its conceptual base is something the WEF describes as Strategic Intelligence Platform: “a dynamic system of contextual intelligence that enables users to trace relationships and interdependencies between issues, supporting more informed decision-making”.

It’s this platform that promotes the complex crossover and interpenetration of Covid-19 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution – conceptualized back in December 2015 and the WEF’s choice futuristic scenario. One cannot exist without the other. That is meant to imprint in the collective unconscious – at least in the West – that only the WEF-sanctioned “stakeholder” approach is capable of solving the Covid-19 challenge.

The Great Reset is immensely ambitiousspanning over 50 fields of knowledge and practice. It interconnects everything from economy recovery recommendations to “sustainable business models”, from restoration of the environment to the redesign of social contracts.

The beating heart of this matrix is – what else – the Strategic Intelligence Platform, encompassing, literally, everything: “sustainable development”, “global governance”, capital markets, climate change, biodiversity, human rights, gender parity, LGBTI, systemic racism, international trade and investment, the – wobbly – future of the travel and tourism industries, food, air pollution, digital identity, blockchain, 5G, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI).

In the end, only an all-in-one Plan A applies for making these systems interact seamlessly: the Great Reset – shorthand for a New World Order that has always been glowingly evoked, but never implemented. There is no Plan B.

The Covid-19 “legacy”

The two main actors behind the Great Reset are Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman, and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. Georgieva is adamant that “the digital economy is the big winner of this crisis”. She believes the Great Reset must imperatively start in 2021.

The House of Windsor and the UN are prime executive co-producers. Top sponsors include BP, Mastercard and Microsoft. It goes without saying that everyone who knows how complex geopolitical and geoeconomic decisions are taken is aware that these two main actors are just reciting a script. Call the authors “the globalist elite”. Or, in praise of Tom Wolfe, the Masters of the Universe.

Schwab, predictably, wrote the Great Reset’s mini-manifesto. Over a month later, he expanded on the absolutely key connection: the “legacy” of Covid-19.

All this has been fully fleshed in a book, co-written with Thierry Malleret, who directs the WEF’s Global Risk Network. Covid-19 is described as having “created a great disruptive reset of our global, social, economic and political systems”. Schwab spins Covid-19 not only as a fabulous “opportunity”, but actually as the creator (italics mine) of the – now inevitable – Reset.

All that happens to dovetail beautifully with Schwab’s own baby: Covid-19 “accelerated our transition into the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. The revolution has been extensively discussed at Davos since 2016.

The book’s central thesis is that our most pressing challenges concern the environment – considered only in terms of climate change – and technological developments, which will allow the expansion of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In a nutshell, the WEF is stating that corporate globalization, the hegemonic modus operandi since the 1990s, is dead. Now it’s time for “sustainable development” – with “sustainable” defined by a select group of “stakeholders”, ideally integrated into a “community of common interest, purpose and action.”

Sharp Global South observers will not fail to compare the WEF’s rhetoric of “community of common interest” with the Chinese “community of shared interests” as applied to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is a de facto continental trade/development project.

The Great Reset presupposes that all stakeholders – as in the whole planet – must toe the line. Otherwise, as Schwab stresses, we will have “more polarization, nationalism, racism, increased social unrest and conflicts”.

So this is – once again – a “you’re with us or against us” ultimatum, eerily reminiscent of our old 9/11 world. Either the Great Reset is peacefully established, with whole nations dutifully obeying the new guidelines designed by a bunch of self-appointed neo-Platonic Republic sages, or it’s chaos.

Whether Covid-19’s ultimate “window of opportunity” presented itself as a mere coincidence or by design, will always remain a very juicy question.

Digital Neo-Feudalism

The actual, face-to-face Davos meeting next year has been postponed to the summer of 2021. But virtual Davos will proceed in January, focused on the Great Reset.

Already three months ago, Schwab’s book hinted that the more everyone is mired in the global paralysis, the more it’s clear that things will never be allowed (italics mine) to return to what we considered normal.

Five years ago, the UN’s Agenda 2030 – the Godfather of the Great Reset – was already insisting on vaccines for all, under the patronage of the WHO and CEPI – co-founded in 2016 by India, Norway and the Bill and Belinda Gates foundation.

Timing could not be more convenient for the notorious Event 201 “pandemic exercise” in October last year in New York, with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security partnering with – who else – the WEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. No in-depth criticism of Gates’s motives is allowed by media gatekeepers because, after all, he finances them.

What has been imposed as an ironclad consensus is that without a Covid-19 vaccine there’s no possibility of anything resembling normality.

And yet a recent, astonishing paper published in Virology Journal – which also publishes Dr. Fauci’s musings – unmistakably demonstrates that “chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread”. This is a “relatively safe, effective and cheap drug” whose “significant inhibitory antiviral effect when the susceptible cells were treated either prior to or after infection suggests a possible prophylactic and therapeutic use.”

Even Schwab’s book admits that Covid-19 is “one of the least deadly pandemics in the last 2000 years” and its consequences “will be mild compared to previous pandemics”.

It doesn’t matter. What matters above all is the “window of opportunity” offered by Covid-19, boosting, among other issues, the expansion of what I previously described as Digital Neo-Feudalism – or Algorithm gobbling up Politics. No wonder politico-economic institutions from the WTO to the EU as well as the Trilateral Commission are already investing in “rejuvenation” processes, code for even more concentration of power.

Survey the imponderables

Very few thinkers, such as German philosopher Hartmut Rosa, see our current plight as a rare opportunity to “decelerate” life under turbo-capitalism.

As it stands, the point is not that we’re facing an “attack of the civilization-state” . The point is assertive civilization-states – such as China, Russia, Iran – not submitted to the Hegemon, are bent on charting a quite different course.

The Great Reset, for all its universalist ambitions, remains an insular, Western-centric model benefitting the proverbial 1%. Ancient Greece did not see itself as “Western”. The Great Reset is essentially an Enlightenment-derived project.

Surveying the road ahead, it will certainly be crammed with imponderables. From the Fed wiring digital money directly into smartphone financial apps in the US to China advancing an Eurasia-wide trade/economic system side-by side with the implementation of the digital yuan.

The Global South will be paying a lot of attention to the sharp contrast between the proposed wholesale deconstruction of the industrial economic order and the BRI project – which focuses on a new financing system outside of Western monopoly and emphasizes agro-industrial growth and long-term sustainable development.

The Great Reset would point to losers, in terms of nations, aggregating all the ones that benefit from production and processing of energy and agriculture, from Russia, China and Canada to Brazil, Indonesia and large swathes of Africa.

As it stands, there’s only one thing we do know: the establishment at the core of the Hegemon and the drooling orcs of Empire will only adopt a Great Reset if that helps to postpone a decline accelerated on a fateful morning 19 years ago.

IRAN AND CHINA ARE BUILDING NEW EMPIRES ON THE FAILURE OF TRUMP’S POLICY

Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

Since the victory of the “Islamic Revolution” in Iran in 1979, the slogan “Neither East nor West but an Islamic Republic” has been a commonplace. This slogan represented the desire of the late Imam Khomeini, who aimed to liberate Iran from foreign control and from the superpowers that had ruled Iran for decades. Consequently, the Iranian constitution prohibits the establishment and influence of any foreign military base on Iranian soil (article 3/5). However, by tearing up the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) signed by former President Barack Obama , the current US administration of President Donald Trump has pushed Iran into the arms of Russia and China. Tehran has now signed strategic and commercial military cooperation agreements lasting 25 years with the two superpower countries Russia and China. The reconstruction of the Chinese and Persian empires is expanding at the expense of the US empire and as a result of its weakness.

Europe has lost its window on Iran, and America has lost its bet on eliminating Iran. Trump is still waiting by the phone for a call from Tehran, but the phone will not ring as long as the nuclear deal is in the trash. Trump apparently has strong chances to be re-elected for another four years. However, Iran will not sign any agreement with him a month after his re-election, as he may hope. Iran will close the door on the US as long as Trump remains in power, unless he restores the deal and offers guarantees. The decision to go to China is irreversible, although the door has not been forever closed on the US. 

The US’s loss of its influence on the world stage has become a reality, and the emergence of other forces, Russia, China and Iran, is impossible to ignore. The influence of these countries can no longer be limited, thanks directly to the failure and mismanagement of US foreign policy!

Proofread by:   Maurice Brasher and C.G.B.

The Power of Siberia, Russian Chinese Cooperation at Mega Levels

Power of Siberia Russia China Gas Pipeline

 

The inauguration of the Power of Siberia project to transport gas from Russia to China will strengthen Russia’s position as the world’s first gas exporter and boost economic relations between the two countries in an unprecedented way.

Thanks to the US politicians getting busy with their inner fights over who won the presidency and later over who is more corrupt with power in a newly controlled country (Ukraine), the excessive use of sanctions, and the anti-‘free trade’ war, other global superpowers are solidifying their positions and leaping ahead in steady growth.

Destroying Syria by the US-led War of Terror was partly because the Syrian President Bashar Assad rejected to isolate Russia and Iran by severing the relations with them and by allowing a Qatari gas pipeline through Syria to Europe which would have starved both the Russian and Iranian nations.

Toppling the Ukrainian state, destroying the country’s economy, and installing puppets there by the US was in part to control the Russia – West Europ gas pipeline.

From here comes the added importance of this project that would supply the Chinese economy with flowing energy source for the coming 3 decades, provide the Russian economy with a considerable steady income for the coming 3 decades, and hurting further the US dollar as this ‘energy’ project uses the currencies of both nations and not the currency that controlled the energy production and trade for at least half a century.

Oddly enough it didn’t seem to be of concern to the US politicians and usual Pentagon propagandists to start with demonizing it and then analyzing their losses from creating enemies around the globe instead of engaging positively with the world, especially the established civilizations.

The following report by the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news channel sheds some light on the global event:

Video

The video is also available on BitChute: https://www.bitchute.com/video/S7Y4W8hUNnsU/

It is a historic event according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the opening of the Power of Siberia pipeline between Russia and China will bring about a change in the world’s energy projects, not just between the two countries.

The inauguration, with the participation of the two heads of state on both sides of the border, was accelerated after the completion of the first phase of the project ahead of schedule, a phase, costing an estimated $ 20 billion out of $ 400 billion, the total cost of the Power of Siberia project.

This huge 30-year project was agreed between Moscow and Beijing via Russia’s Gazprom and China National Oil and Gas Company in 2014, it is the largest project to transport gas from eastern Russia to China, 4,500 kilometers of pipelines produced with a new and innovative technologies are supposed to transport 38 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually to China, this puts Russia at the forefront of natural gas providers for this country, which is the fastest-growing economy in the world today.

The Power of Siberia is one of 40 strategic economic agreements between the two countries over the past five years to enhance their cooperation in various fields, the level of cooperation in military production between them has risen in an unprecedented way, Russian and Chinese banks have given financial guarantees for trade using the currencies of the two countries amounting to tens of billions of dollars, the trade between the two neighbors, which share about 4,000 kilometers borders, jumped to $ 100 billion last year alone, this figure is expected to double over the next year.

End of the video English translation transcript.

Following is the Arabic transcript of the video:

More

قوة سيبيريا

افتتاح مشروع قوة سيبيريا لنقل الغاز من روسيا إلى الصين سيعزز موقع روسيا كمصدّر أول للغاز في العالم ويعزز العلاقات الاقتصادية بين البلدين بشكل غير مسبوق

هو حدث تاريخي بحسب الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، افتتاح خط أنابيب قوة سيبيريا بين روسيا والصين كفيل بإحداث تغيير في مشاريع الطاقة في العالم، ليس بين البلدين فقط

الافتتاح الذي شارك فيه رئيسا البلدين كل من جهته على الحدود تم تسريعه بعد إنجاز المرحلة الأولى من المشروع قبل موعدها، مرحلة كلفت تقديرياً نحو 20 مليار دولار من أصل 400 مليار دولار، هي كلفة مشروع قوة سيبيريا الإجمالية

هذا المشروع الضخم، ومدته 30 عاماً، اتفق عليه بين موسكو وبكين عبر شركة غاز بروم الروسية والشركة الصينية الوطنية للنفط والغاز عام 2014 وهو المشروع الأضخم لنقل الغاز من شرق روسيا إلى الصين، إذ يفترض أن تنقل 4500 كيلومتر من الأنابيب المصنّعة بتقنيات جديدة ومبتكرة 38 مليار متر مكعب من الغاز الروسي سنوياً إلى الصين، ما يضع روسيا في مقدمة مزودي الغاز الطبيعي لهذه الدولة التي يعد اقتصادها الأسرع نمواً في العالم اليوم

class=”has-text-align-right” style=”text-align: right;”>قوة سيبيريا واحدة من 40 اتفاقية اقتصادية استراتيجية بين البلدين خلال السنوات الخمس الماضية لتعزيز تعاونهما في مختلف المجالات، مستوى التعاون في الإنتاج العسكري بينهما ارتفع بشكل غير مسبوق، ومنحت المصارف الروسية والصينية ضمانات مالية للتبادل التجاري بعملتي البلدين بلغت عشرات مليارات الدولارات، فيما قفز التبادل التجاري بين الجارتين اللتين يجمعهما نحو 4000 كيلومتر من الحدود إلى 100 مليار دولار خلال العام الماضي فقط، ويتوقع أن يصل هذا الرقم إلى الضعف خلال العام المقبل

Militarization of South America, Coup in Bolivia and Argentina’s rapprochement with the Eurasian powers

Militarization of South America, Coup in Bolivia and Argentina’s rapprochement with the Eurasian powers

By Fabio Reis Vianna for The Saker Blog

On October 29th, the Cycle of Seminars on World Economy Analysis, organized by professors Monica Bruckmann and Franklin Trein, received in the Noble Hall of the IFCS-UFRJ, in Rio de Janeiro, the illustrious presence of the former vice-president of the BRICS Development Bank, Professor Paulo Nogueira Batista.

In the midst of the peculiar moment of social upheavals that are spreading throughout the world, the New Silk Road was discussed, a major Chinese project of geo-economic integration of Eurasia through vast road networks, high-speed trains, gas pipelines, fiber optic cables and ports, and that will benefit millions of people (including Western Europe, and incidentally, the African continent and Latin America itself).

To this end, three institutions created in the orbit of this project would play a key role: the Silk Road Fund, the AIIB (Asian Investment and Infrastructure Bank), and the NBD (BRICS Development Bank).

As the Brazilian State is a shareholder and founder of the NDB, many financing projects from this global institution could already have been approved and would be very welcome to the staggering Brazilian economy. However, despite the fact that in recent years, specifically from 2003 to June 2018, Chinese companies have invested almost 54 billion dollars in more than 100 projects, according to data from the Brazilian government itself, as of 2017, investments have fallen sharply.

According to a study by the Brazil-China Business Council (CBBC), Chinese investments in Brazil totaled 8.8 billion dollars in 2017 and no more than 3 billion dollars in 2018. A drop of 66%.

The deepening of the Brazilian framing of the US imperial orbit says a lot about this.

With the institutionalization of the New Defense Strategy of the United States, enacted on December 18, 2017, what had been happening in practice since mid-2012 was made official, with the acceleration of the interstate dispute and the escalation of global competition: the American repositioning in global geopolitical chess in an increasingly aggressive and unilateral manner.

Leaving aside the multilateralist rhetoric promoted over the last century, the Americans, faced with the strengthening of the “revisionist” powers Russia and China – questioners of the American centrality in the use of the rules and institutions created and managed unilaterally throughout the 20th century -, now seek to impose their will, without concessions, on the countries of the so-called Western Hemisphere. This is a region to which the United States rightfully attributes itself to the full exercise of sovereignty, for considering its zone of direct influence, thus inadmitting any contestation to its supremacy, not even any strategic alliance of countries that can create an alternative pole of power; much less in the Southern Cone of the continent.

Thus, the position of total alignment of the current Brazilian government with the interests of the Trump administration is very much related to this framing of the Western Hemisphere to the strategy of containing the expansionism of Eurasian actors.

If the deepening of the Eurasian project and the Sino-Russian strategic partnership – within Mackinder’s theory of heartland control – would already be inadmissible on its own, then the participation of a large Western Hemisphere country as a protagonist of an institution contesting old rules established and regulated by the hegemon would be too much: Brazil had to be separated from Russia and China at all costs, even if for this the country had to bear the price of seeing its institutions destroyed and involved in the labyrinth of a near military closure of the regime.

The last few months have been very hectic in many different parts of the world, particularly in South America.

Even if for not exactly similar reasons, especially in the specific cases of Peru and Bolivia, the popular protests that took place in Ecuador and Chile would have in common the characteristics of an almost natural reaction of self-protection of these societies to neoliberal restrictive policies.

As if it were an old irony of history, at the very moment when we are experiencing the shredding of interstate competition, there emerges a transmission belt spreading over several countries, as distant as they are disparate among themselves, the spark of social protests.

Curiously, this powerful and dangerous combination of social dissatisfaction and the escalation of conflicts between countries, in other periods of history, would end up being configured in that period of transition between the final cycles and of reconfiguration of the great board of the world system.

In view of this, it is important to highlight the risk of a characteristic in common that is gradually emerging in some South American countries: militarization.

With the escalation of global conflicts, the framing of South America to the North American strategy of containment of Eurasian adversaries and in the face of popular agitations to the deterioration of living standards, the lamentable option for the imposition of naked and crude order arises, bringing back to the political scenario of these countries the presence of the military as guarantors of institutional stability.

The region is moving towards a scenario in which elected governments, facing growing internal unrest, would depend on the military to survive.

The recent events in Peru, Ecuador and Chile do not allow us to lie. Apart from the fact that Brazil already lives under the shadow of a veiled military tutelage of its institutions.

The off-curve point of this story is Argentina and the impressive electoral victory of the Peronist opposition (at a time when the use of destabilizing tools has been frequent to interfere in electoral results, as in the case of the mass spread of fake news via Whatsapp in favor of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil).

Against all odds, in a region harassed by increasingly aggressive interference from the United States, Argentina is heading towards the resumption of a project of an autonomous and sovereign nation.

Faced with the successful destruction of the Brazil-Argentina strategic alliance, which had been strengthening since the re-democratization of the two nations in the mid-1980s, Argentina will face the complex challenge of seeking to expand its international insertion without its former Mercosur partner.

Something interesting said by Professor Paulo Nogueira Batista, in the Cycle of Seminars on Analysis of the World Economy, concerns the current Chinese position in the face of the aggressiveness and truculence of the Trump administration: paradoxically, such aggressiveness would be containing the Chinese expansionist impetus of recent years in South America, which, according to the professor, could open great opportunities for the countries of the region to bargain more favorable agreements for the Chinese. With the paralysis of Brazil and its blind alignment with the New Defense Strategy of the United States, Argentina has the opportunity not only to bargain for favorable trade agreements, but also to occupy the space left vacant by Brazil in the Eurasian integration project.

As Professor Paulo Nogueira Batista rightly said, the BRICS, and especially their development bank (NBD), would be heading toward a process of expansion of their participants.

In the new global geopolitical configuration, in which the intensification of the dispute increases the need of competing powers to guarantee their energy security, South America is already seen by many analysts as the new center of gravity of world oil production, replacing the Middle East. The Coup d’état in Bolivia is a very clear sign that the game will tend to be heavier from now on.

As Professor José Luís Fiori, Brazil’s leading expert on geopolitical issues, warned, “Oil is not the cause of all the conflicts in the international system. There is no doubt, however, that the great centralization of power that is underway in the interstate system is also transforming the permanent struggle for energy security of national states into a war between the great powers for the control of the new energy reserves that are being discovered in recent years. A war that is developing hand in hand, and in any corner of the world, be it in the tropical territory of Black Africa or in the icy lands of the Arctic Circle; be it in the turbulent waters of the mouth of the Amazon or in the inhospitable Kamchatka Peninsula”. https://jornalggn.com.br/geopolitica/geopolitica-e-fe-por-jose-luis-fiori/?fbclid=IwAR1IEPB6xbYL9BOpClmpyeUbonPPsIRPP-BQS7L_dqxZI0sr05jTHQ1Av64

Curiously, shortly before the violent classic coup d’état against President Evo Morales, the government of that country had announced plans to nationalize its production of Lithium.

Global demand for Lithium, essential in the production of cell phone batteries, laptops and electric cars, is expected to triple in the next 15 years.

Not coincidentally, Lithium’s world’s largest reserves are in Bolivia.

If this trend is confirmed, there is no other alternative for whale countries like Brazil and Argentina than to take over the South American strategic project at the risk of ending their days fragmented and swallowed up by the interests and disputes of powers outside the region.

For now, it is up to Argentina to walk alone and out of necessity, to expand economic and geopolitical ties with China and Russia because the tendency is for the country to become the target of the next destabilizing campaigns, “fourth generation” wars and economic suffocation caused by the hegemon.

Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor in law, writer and geopolitical analyst. He is currently a columnist in international politics for the printed version of the centennial Brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil.

 

Who lost Russia?

September 24, 2019

by William H. Warrick III for The Saker Blog

Who lost Russia?

Seventy years ago this year everybody in the State Department and the Foreign Policy establishment was asking “Who lost China?” Now they are asking “Who lost Russia?” The real question is not who lost China or Russia, but why did they think they had either of them in the first place? We “lost” Iran 40 years ago which makes it a Trifecta. That means that those 3 countries which have a combined Historical and Cultural History of about 8,500 years, compared to our 243 years, together will decide the future of the Eurasian Landmass. This directly contradicts the 27 year-old ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine’, and the founding document of ‘The Project for The New American Century’.

Eurasia is the largest Landmass on Planet Earth and is composed of two sub-continents and the Asian continent that formed when the European and Indian Tectonic Plates collided with the Asian Plate. They are separated by the Mountain Ranges that formed when these Plates collided. The European Plate slid under the Asian Plate to form the Urals, and the Indian Plate slid under the Asian Plate and formed the Himalayas. In addition, Eurasia is also connected to the African Continent by a Land Bridge to North East Africa connecting the Semitic Countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula and the Saini Desert, connecting to Egypt. The connection of these Continents and Countries of Europe, Asia, East Asia, the Middle East and Africa control the majority of the World’s Population, territory, Natural Resources, Water, Rare Earths, Precious Metals and Energy supplies. Those who control this vast wealth and numbers of Peoples will be the most prosperous people on the Planet. The British Empire tried to get control of it but their attempt at “The Great Game” of controlling Afghanistan to keep Russia out ended in a disastrous defeat and slaughter of almost all their soldiers in Afghanistan. One made his way back to its garrison in Jalabad. They tried again in 1878 with another Anglo-Afghan War that was all about keeping Russia away from its prized possession, India without realizing that the Russian Empire was only looking for a Geographic barrier to its soft Southern Underbelly. That worked out a bit better and The Russian Empire didn’t come back because that was not their plan anyway.

The rest of the British Empire was lost in the World Wars and Independence Movements except for Hong Kong, but that too has reverted back to China although there is a ‘Color Revolution’ there now but that is unlikely to work either. The Anglo-American wish that they can get Hong Kong back by using Chinese students who carry American and British flags, and burn the Chinese Flag is unlikely to work either. MI-6 are using American GIs, Sailors and Marines with its “Special Relationship”, (common language and Lineage) with its Lost Colony, the US of A. They want to use our Military Might and our men and women in the Military to get it, and we need Political Leaders who understand that fact and won’t let it happen. The problem is that very few if any of our leaders (except for one future leader) understand that, or they are supportive of it. The State of Israel is connected to this because they see themselves ruling this World Government from Jerusalem in a plan concocted by Cecil Rhodes in the mid-nineteenth Century along with co-conspirators, John Ruskin and Lord Nathan Rothschild in his ‘Seven Secret Wills’. This is the origin of the ‘Deep State’ with tentacles all over the British Empire. All those who are on board for it are in the 1% and their “Overseers” in the 10% who ride herd on the 89% to achieve this megalomaniacal pipe dream. This ‘World Government’ was written about by Aldous Huxley, an MI-6 Asset in the British East India Company, in Brave New World. In order to achieve this it requires our Military to wage War all over Eurasia and Africa and for that to happen there have to be ‘threats’ that require our Military intervention. These ‘threats’ include ‘terrorists’, Russia, China and Iran, hence we have our Military waging various wars all over Eurasia and Africa, and permanent Military Bases, of which there are hundreds, all over Europe, the British Isles, Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Baltic States, Middle East, Africa, Korea, Japan, Australia, Guam, and other places too numerous to list. George Orwell said all of this in 1984. It is an area inside of “Tangiers, Brazzaville, Darwin and Hong Kong. The lines connecting these cities bow out due to the flattened sphere of Earth and that is where all the current wars are being fought. In addition, we have around 25,000 troops in South Korea, 2 or 3 times that in Japan, mostly on Okinawa, more on Guam, one in Australia and at least one in Israel.

However, there is a problem that has arisen in this “Long War on Humanity”. We don’t have conscription anymore so we have to rely on recruiting which is becoming more difficult. During the War on Vietnam that the troops and sailors eventually figured out a War halfway around the Planet was not in their interest and protests, led by returning GIs and sailors who had created and self-printed over 300 Anti-War newspapers with the assistance of civilians and Veterans who had been discharged. They were fed up with fighting, dying, getting wounded, getting PTSD and Moral Injury for Empire so Resistance within the Military began ramping up. Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) was founded in 1967, just 2 years after the war started and grew quickly across the country, in Europe, in the Army, Navy, Marines and the Air Force. Veterans For Peace (VFP) began in 1985 after the Contra War on Nicaragua began because Vietnam Vets didn’t want their kids getting caught up in Wars for Empire like they did. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded in August 2004 at the VFP Convention in Boston just 17 months after the War started. All of this Resistance came out of this Quest for Empire. The War on Vietnam, ‘Operation Condor’, the War on Central and South American Leftists by the Dictators of the involved Countries, GWI and the Post-911 Wars have all taken place on the Eurasian, Middle Eastern, and African Continents, control of which automatically result in control of Planet Earth. Along with that were all of our wars on Central and South America in Operation Condor, a War of Terror on Leftists organizing against the Dictators in those countries. All of these Wars are clear evidence of an attempt at World Conquest and Empire. This megalomaniacal idea is and has been dead since China and Russia formed their Geostrategic Alliance in 1999 as reported by Mahdi Darius Nazemroya on the website of The Center for Research on Globalization a dozen years ago. A 58-60% majority of the soldiers who fought these 911 Wars, Democrats, Independents and Republicans all now say these wars weren’t worth it. The Pentagon had to adjust the recruiting goal for FY 2019 downward so they could “make their recruitment goal”. All of this does not bode well for the ‘Long War’, The Long War Against Humanity.

In addition to the Grunts, Airmen and Sailors figuring things out, the victim Countries figure things out as well. During the Nixon-Kissinger Era Dick and Henry came up with the bright idea of splitting China away from the Soviet Union which worked for a while, although Kissinger said at the time we might have to do the opposite with the Soviets, now the Russian Federation, several Decades down the line. This in fact has finally happened except for a big “but”, and that “but” is that Russia and China, who play complex strategy games like Chess and Go, put their heads together and came up with a Geostrategic Alliance, which includes Iran as a Silent Partner, and “The BRICS” Trade Bloc, Brazil (which has dropped out with the selection of Bolsanro until Lula gets out of jail and runs again), Russia, India, China and South Africa. Serious discussions on this Russia-China Geostrategic alliance began in the mid-1990s and in 1999 the plan was agreed upon and put on paper. What came out of it is “The China-Russia Double Helix”, a Symbiotic Relationship of interdependence that insulates them forever from this aggressive menace of the “English-speaking countries” that Cecil Rhodes decided had to Rule a World Empire/Government because they are the only people with the brains and ability to do it. The British and American elites have finally become aware that China and Russia along with India, Iran and the Countries of Eurasia are going their own way and Integrating Eurasia by means of the “New Silk Road” initiative, the “Maritime Silk Road”, the Arctic Sea Route, the BRICS and various groups aligning along Economic Integration and Trade and formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to protect the Project. They are ditching the Petrodollar to trade in their own currencies and form the “Multi-Polar New World Order” as opposed to the Uni-Polar New World Order” model of the Deep State. The “geniuses” of the State Department, Pentagon, EU and WTO have played it down or tried to ignore it hoping that if no one knew about it might go away, falsely believing the Russians, Chinese, India and Iranians could never work together. To make it worse they have become Brain washed by their own Russia-bashing, Russophobic Propaganda and can’t think outside of this box. Even worse, this has seeped into the training of ‘Russia Experts’, so we don’t have any who actually understand Russia and therefore they underestimate Russia and that is a Fatal Error that has discovered by many Governments and countries in the past like Napoleon and Hitler. This Geostrategic Alliance in which Iran is a Silent Partner, isn’t going away, it is getting bigger and stronger by the month. Recently one of the EU naughty children of ‘The PIGS’, (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) signed on to be a node in the BRI with China and now the fears have risen to panic levels. They think, because of being captives of the aforementioned belief in their own faulty Propaganda, that they can pull Russia and China apart but haven’t figured out yet that isn’t possible because they are unaware of the China-Russia Double Helix. They are trying but it isn’t working so they can’t understand why. This is one of those ‘Unknown Unknowns’ Donald Rumsfeld worried about over a Decade ago tripping them up. Now another ‘Unknown Unknown’ has popped up: SA’s big oil complex, which is several hundred kilometers from Yemen, has had a major portion of its oil production facilities knocked out of commission by these rag-tag and underestimated Houthi rebels with Knock-off Iranian Drones and missiles which has resulted in a bump up of World oil prices. The Houthi said they did it with the assistance of Local Patriotic Allies that provided the coordinates of the targets that were destroyed. Secretary Pompeo AKA ‘Pompus Minimus’ so named by Pepe Escobar, immediately named Iran as the culprit, but carefully avoids the fact that America’s ‘Vaunted Anti-Missile defense Patriot system’ that should have prevented the attack was asleep, aimed in the wrong direction, and faced East in a 120 degree arc instead of 360 degrees.

The Founding Document of the anglozionist Empire, “The Wolfowitz Doctrine”, written by Paul Wolfowitz in 1992 stated that no Peer Competitor can by allowed to have Hegemony on the Eurasian Landmass. Zbigniew Brzezinski echoed this in his book, The Grand Chessboard in 1997, and then by The Project for a New American Century in September 2000. The strategists of the ‘Five Eyes’ are becoming dimly aware that the Wolfowitz-Brzezinski Declarations have failed, so now they face the dilemma of possibly having to go to war with Russia, China and Iran ALL AT THE SAME TIME but are afraid they might not even win a war against any single one them alone, and now they don’t know what to do. So now they came up with a new ‘Bright Idea’: ‘Mininukes’ that ‘won’t be harmful to the Human Beings they drop them on so they could use them. John Bolton’s temporary replacement said back in the ‘80s said ‘Nuclear War is winnable’ because we could rebuild with the 20 million or so American survivors of this ‘Winnable Nuclear War’. We could rebuild the Country and take over Eurasia. The fact that these ‘safer Mininukes’ won’t work with Russia because every War Game scenario ever played against Russia has very quickly escalated into full scale Nuclear War thereby violating the basic Pentagon rule going back to the ‘50s that Nuclear War can’t be won and therefore can never be fought. On top of that Russia has very quietly developed Hypersonic Nuclear Missiles that fly at Mach 10-20, 7,600 to 15,200mph that can make evasive maneuvers and therefore can’t be shot down. They also have Nuclear Powered Cruise Missiles that can fly virtually indefinitely and Nuclear Powered Cruise Torpedoes that remain submerged indefinitely that have a velocity of 200 knots. China has Supersonic anti-ship missiles that fly at Mach 5. We don’t have ANY Supersonic missiles, hypersonic missiles, Nuclear Powered missiles or torpedoes. They did this because as Putin said: “You didn’t listen to us at Munich in 2007”. Again, our racist, Russophobic Propaganda, our so-called ‘Russia Experts’ had been Brain Washed with has put them in a Box they can’t think their way out of.

The upshot of this is we didn’t “lose Russia” because the fact is we never had it to lose in the first place, so the Empire, the Brits, the Saudis and Israel are between the proverbial “Rock and a Hard Place” and don’t have any options or realistic ideas of what to do. The last West European leader still standing, Macron, who had worked at a Rothschild owned bank and came out of nowhere to get ‘selected’ to be the leader of France several years ago, has decided that Europe has to go a different way, stop kowtowing to Washington, cozy up to Russia and “pull them back to the West”. Again, he is unaware of that pesky ‘Unknown Unknown’, the Geostrategic Alliance of China and Russia with Iran in the background that makes it impossible. So he gave this speech to an assembly of Ambassadors outlining why this (impossible feat) must be done. His plan begins with The Ukraine and the Minsk II Accords that will force the new President, Zelenski, to make serious decisions to move on Minsk II, although Zelenski has been warned by the Ukronazis unleashed with the Coup on Feb 22, 1914, that he will be deposed in a New Maidan (and probably murdered) if he even tries this. I’m not making any bets on if or when Macron will figure out none of this going anywhere because Zelenski is between a Rock and a Hard Place too and can’t move on Minsk II. Where all this is going is again ‘Unknown’, and as Yogi Berra once said: “Predictions are hard to make, especially about the Future”. One thing we know for sure is that right after Macron’s speech a formal meeting between President Putin and the Premier of the State Council of The People’s Republic of China, Li Keqiang. At this meeting President Putin spelled out a clear message directed at President Macron which was that the EU has nothing to offer Russia that would pull it away from China because they are fully aligned with each other in a Future of total alignment of their Geostrategic, Economic and Military affairs.

Dr Warrick was born in Philadelphia, Pa. in December 1943 and has Bachelors Degrees in Business Administration and Psychology, an MD Degree from the University of Pennsylvania and was a Family Physician in Gainesville Florida for 34 years and now does Open Source Intelligence Analysis in Geopolitics, The Empire, Public Banking and Modern Monetary Theory.

Why The End Of The INF Treaty Will Not Start A New Arms Race

Source

Moon of Alabama

August 03, 2019

Yesterday the U.S. left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. The end of this and other treaties that eliminated or restricted the deployment of nuclear systems is seen by some as the beginning of a news arms race:

William J. Perry – @SecDef19 – 7:37 PM · Aug 2, 2019The U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty today deals a great blow to nuclear arms control and global security, we are sleepwalking into a new arms race.

The former Secretary of Defense is wrong. The race will not happen because Russia (and China) won’t run. Or said differently, they already won.

To understand why that is the case we have to look at the history if the nuclear treaties and their demise.

In 1976 the Soviet Union started to deploy nuclear armed SS-20 (RSD-10 Pioneer) intermediate range missiles in Europe. The west-Europeans, especially Germany, feared that these missiles would decouple the U.S. from western Europe. The Soviet Union might tell the U.S. that it would not use its intercontinental nuclear missiles against the U.S. mainland as long as the U.S. would not fire its intercontinental missiles into the Soviet Union. It could then use the SS-20 to attack NATO in Europe while the U.S. would refrain from nuclear counter strikes on the Soviet Union. Europe would become a nuclear battle field while the U.S. and the Soviet Union would be left untouched.

The German chancellor Helmut Schmidt urged the U.S. to station nuclear armed intermediate range missiles in western Europe to press the Soviets to eliminate the SS-20. In 1979 NATO made the double track decision. It would deploy U.S. made Pershing IImissiles in Europe and at the same time offer the Soviet Union a treaty to ban all such intermediate range weapons. The effort was successful.

The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (later Russia) banned all of the two countries’ land-based ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile launchers with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310-3,420 mi). All SS-20 and Pershing II missiles were withdrawn and destroyed. A nuclear war in Europe became less likely.

Another successful treaty was the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It prohibited both sides from deploying more than one ABM system. It was necessary because the side that thought it had a working anti-ballistic missile defense could launch a massive first strike on the other side, destroy most of its forces, and defend itself against the smaller retaliation strike that would follow. Both sides were better off with prohibiting ABM in general and to rely on Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) for the prevention of a nuclear war.

In June 2002 U.S. President George W. Bush, under the influence of one John Bolton, withdrew from the ABM treaty which led to its termination. The U.S. deployed ABM system in Alaska and California but during tests the systems proved to be unreliable.

The U.S. claimed at that time that ABM was needed to defend against nuclear missiles from North Korea and Iran. That was always obvious nonsense. At that time North Korea had no missile that could reach the United States and Iran has no nukes and limits the range of its missiles to 2,000 kilometer.

Russia saw the U.S. step as an attempt to achieve a first strike capability against it. It immediately started the development of new system that would make the U.S. anti-missile defense irrelevant.

The U.S. also pressed NATO to deploy ABM systems in Europe. Iran was again cited as the main danger. Plans were developed to deploy Patriot and THAAD anti-missile system in Poland and Romania. These did not immediately endangered Russia. But in 2009 President Obama canceled the deployment and came up with a more devilish plan. The AEGIS system used on many U.S. war ships would be converted into a land based versionand deployed in an alleged ABM role. AEGIS consist of radar, a battle management system and canister missiles launchers. The big issue is that these canisters can contain very different types of missiles. While the Standard Missile-2 or 3 can be launched from those canisters in an ABM role, the very same canisters can also hold nuclear armed cruise missile with a range of 2,400 kilometer.

Russia had no means to detect which type of missiles the U.S. would deploy on these sites. It had to assume that nuclear intermediate range nuclear missiles will be in those canisters. In 2016 the U.S. activated the first of these AEGIS ashore systems in Romania. It was that step that broke the INF treaty.

That Obama had earlier signed a nuclear agreement with Iran that made sure that Iran would never build nukes made it obvious that Russia is the one and only target of those system:

During a visit to Greece intended to repair ties with the EU, Vladimir Putin said that Russia has “no choice” but to target Romania, which has recently opened a NATO missile defense base, and Poland, which plans to do so within two years.“If yesterday people simply did not know what it means to be in the crosshairs in those areas of Romania, then today we will be forced to carry out certain measures to ensure our security. And it will be the same with Poland,” Putin said during a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens on Friday.

“At the moment the interceptor missiles installed have a range of 500 kilometers, soon this will go up to 1000 kilometers, and worse than that, they can be rearmed with 2400km-range offensive missiles even today, and it can be done by simply switching the software, so that even the Romanians themselves won’t know,” said Putin, who is in Greece for a two-day tour.

Russia urged the U.S. to negotiate about the issue but the U.S. rejected that. A year after the U.S. deployed its system in Romania it alleged that Russia itself was in breach of the INF treaty. It claimed that Russia deployed the 9M729 missile, an extended range version of a previous missile, with a range that exceeds the limits of the INF treaty. Russia says that the missile is just a technical upgrade of an older one and has a maximum range below 500 kilometers. The U.S. never provided evidence for its claim.

In January 2019 the U.S. rejected a Russian offer to inspect the new Russian missile and started to pull out of the INF treaty. It gave a six month notice on February 2 and yesterday the INF treaty terminated.

Neither the New York Times obituary of the treaty nor the CNN write-up mention the ABM system in Romania and Poland that were the first to breach of the treaty. Both repeat the unproven claim that Russia deployed new intermediate range systems as fact.

The Europeans in NATO are not happy about the treaty’s end:

The official demise of a landmark arms control pact between the US and Russia is a “bad day” for stability in Europe, the military alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN Friday, hours after the US withdrew from the pact.Speaking to CNN’s Hala Gorani, the Norwegian politician called the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Moscow a “serious setback.”

“I’m part of a political generation that was shaped during the 1980s, where we all were concerned for the risk of nuclear war and where we were actually able to reach the INF treaty that didn’t only reduce the missiles but banned all intermediate range missiles and weapons,” he said.

Stoltenberg went on to blame Russia without mentioning the fake U.S. “ABM” sites in Romania and Poland.

It was John Bolton who was behind the demise of the ABM treaty and it was John Bolton who convinced Trump to terminate the INF treaty. With Bolton in the lead the New Start treaty, which limits intercontinental systems but ends in 2021, will likely not be renewed. Soon the whole system of treaties that limited U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons and delivery means will be gone.

Why is the U.S. so eager to end all these? It is known John Bolton hates anything that restricts the U.S., but there is also a larger strategy behind it. The U.S. believes that it defeated the Soviet Union by creating an arms race that the Soviets lost. It hopes that it can do the same with a recalcitrant Russia. But that calculation is wrong. President Putin has long said that Russia will not fall for it:

Moscow will not engage in an exhausting arms race, and the country’s military spending will gradually decrease as Russia does not seek a role as the “world gendarme,” President Vladimir Putin said.Moscow is not seeking to get involved in a “pointless” new arms race, and will stick to “smart decisions” to strengthen its defensive capabilities, Putin said on Friday during an annual extended meeting of the Defense Ministry board.

As Patrick Armstrong explains well:

Putin & Co have learned: Russia has no World-Historical purpose and its military is just for Russia. They understand what this means for Russia’s Armed Forces:Moscow doesn’t have to match the US military; it just has to checkmate it.

And it doesn’t have to checkmate it everywhere, only at home. The US Air Force can rampage anywhere but not in Russia’s airspace; the US Navy can go anywhere but not in Russia’s waters. It’s a much simpler job and it costs much less than what Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev were attempting; it’s much easier to achieve; it’s easier to plan and carry out. The exceptionalist/interventionist has to plan for Everything; the nationalist for One Thing.

Russia already has all the weapons it needs to defend itself. U.S. warfare depends on satellite communication, air superiority and missiles. But Russia’s air defense and electronic warfare systems are first class. They demonstrated in Syria that their capabilities exceed any U.S. systems.

When the U.S. left the ABM treaty Russia started to develop new weapons. In 2018 it was ready and demonstrated weapon systems that defeat any ABM system. The U.S. can not longer achieve first strike capability against Russia no matter how many ABM systems and nukes it deploys. There is no defense against hypersonic systems, nuclear torpedoes or nuclear powered cruise missiles with unlimited reach.

If the U.S. wants to start a new arms race with Russia or China it will be the only one to run. It will have to run fast to catch up.

Unlike the U.S. neither Russia nor China try to achieve world wide hegemony. They only have the need to defend their realm. The U.S. threat against both of them made them allies. If China needs more defense capabilities Russia will be happy to provide these. A U.S. nuclear attack against either of them, from Europe, Japan or the U.S. itself, will be responded to with a nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland. As the U.S. has no ability to defend itself from the new Russian systems it will continue to be deterred.

Posted by b on August 3, 2019 at 18:55 UTC | Permalink

PEPE ESCOBAR: US and Iran Stuck on Negotiation Ground Zero

July 27, 2019

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with Consortium News – by special agreement with the author)

PEPE ESCOBAR: US and Iran Stuck on Negotiation Ground Zero

All bets are off in the geopolitical insanity stakes when we have the President of the United States (POTUS) glibly announcing he could launch a nuclear first strike to end the war in Afghanistan and wipe it “off the face of the earth” in one week. But he’d rather not, so he doesn’t have to kill 10 million people.

Apart from the fact that not even a nuclear strike would subdue the legendary fighting spirit of Afghan Pashtuns, the same warped logic – ordering a nuclear first strike as one orders a cheeseburger – could apply to Iran instead of Afghanistan.

Trump once again flip-flopped by declaring that the prospect of a potential war in the Persian Gulf “could go either way, and I’m OK either way it goes,” much to the delight of Beltway-related psychopaths who peddle the notion that Iran is begging to be bombed.

No wonder the whole Global South – not to mention the Russia-China strategic partnership – simply cannot trust anything coming from Trump’s mouth or tweets, a non-stop firefight deployed as intimidation tactics.

At least Trump’s impotence facing such a determined adversary as Iran is now clear: “It’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran.” What remains are empty clichés, such as Iran “behaving very badly” and “the number one state of terror in the world” – the marching order mantra emanating from Tel Aviv.

Even the – illegal – all-out economic war and total blockade against Tehran seems not to be enough. Trump has announced extra sanctions on China because Beijing is “accepting crude oil” from Iran. Chinese companies will simply ignore them.

Okay With ‘OK Either Way’

“OK either way” is exactly the kind of response expected by the leadership in Tehran. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran confirmed to me that Tehran did not offer Trump a “renegotiation” of the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, in exchange for the end of sanctions: “It’s not a renegotiation. Iran offered to move forward ratification of additional protocols if Congress removes all sanctions. That would be a big win for Iran. But the US will never accept it.”

Dehghan: U.S. bases would be targeted. (Wikimedia Commons)

Marandi also confirmed “there is nothing big going on” between Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and tentative Trump administration negotiator Sen. Rand Paul: “Bolton and Pompeo remain in charge.”

The crucial fact is that Tehran rejects a new negotiation with the White House “under any circumstances,” as expressed by Hossein Dehghan, the top military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Dehghan once again made it very clear that in case of any sort of military adventure, every single base of the U.S. Empire of Bases across Southwest Asia will be targeted.

This neatly ties in with Iran’s by now consolidated new rules of engagement, duly detailed by correspondent Elijah Magnier. We are well into “an-eye-for-an-eye” territory.

And that brings us to the alarming expansion of the sanctions dementia, represented by two Iranian ships loaded with corn stranded off the coast of southern Brazil because energy giant Petrobras, afraid of U.S. sanctions, refuses to refuel them.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a fervent Trump groupie, has turned the country into a tropical U.S. neo-colony in less than seven months. On U.S. sanctions, Bolsonaro said, “We are aligned to their policies. So we do what we have to.” Tehran for its part has threatened to cut its imports of corn, soybeans and meat from Brazil – $2 billion worth of trade a year – unless the refueling is allowed.

This is an extremely serious development. Food is not supposed to be — illegally — sanctioned by the Trump administration. Iran now has to use mostly barter to obtain food — as Tehran cannot remit through the CHIPS-SWIFT banking clearinghouse. If food supplies are also blocked that means that sooner rather than later the Strait of Hormuz may be blocked as well.

Beltway sources confirmed that the highest level of the U.S. government gave the order for Brasilia to stop this food shipment.

Tehran knows it well – as this is part of the “maximum pressure” campaign, whose goal is ultimately to starve the Iranian population to death in a harrowing game of chicken.

Chokepoint: The Strait of Hormuz. (Flickr)

How this may end is described by an ominous quote I already used in some of my previous columns, from a Goldman Sachs derivatives specialist:

“If the Strait of Hormuz is closed, the price of oil will rise to a thousand dollars a barrel representing over 45 percent of global GDP, crashing the $2.5 quadrillion derivatives market and creating a world depression of unprecedented proportions.”

At least the Pentagon seems to understand that a war on Iran will collapse the world economy.

And Now for Something Completely Different

But then, last but not least, there’s the tanker war.

Dutch analyst Maarten van Mourik has noted significant discrepancies involving the UK piracy episode in Gibraltar – the origin of the tanker war. The Grace 1 tanker “was pirated by the Royal Marines in international waters. Gibraltar Straits is an international passage, like the Strait of Hormuz. There is only 3 nautical miles of territorial water around Gibraltar, and even that is disputed.”

Mourik adds, “The size of the Grace 1 ship is 300,000 MT of crude oil, it has a maximum draught of about 22.2 meters and the latest draught via AIS indicated that she was at 22.1 meters, or fully laden. Now, the port of Banyas in Syria, which is where the offshore oil port is, has a maximum draft of 15 meters. So, in no way could the Grace 1 go there, without first having to offload elsewhere. Probably a very large quantity to get within max draught limitations.”

Zarif (r.) negotiating nuclear deal with then US Secretary of State John Kerry in July, 2015. (Wikimedia Common)

That ties in with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif refusing on the record to say where Grace 1 was actually heading to, while not confirming the destination was Syria.

The tit-for-tat Iranian response, with the seizure of the Stena Impero navigating under the British flag, is now evolving into Britain calling for a “European-led maritime protection mission” in the Persian Gulf, purportedly to protect ships from Iranian “state piracy.”

Observers may be excused for mistaking it for a Monty Python sketch. Here we have the Ministry of Silly Seizures, which is exiting the EU, begging the EU to embark on a “mission” that is not the same mission of the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign. And on top of it the mission should not undermine Britain’s commitment to keep the JCPOA in place.

As European nations never recede on a chance to flaunt their dwindling “power” across the Global South, Britain, Germany and France now seem bent on their “mission” to “observe maritime security in the Gulf,” in the words of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. At least this won’t be a deployment of joint naval forces – as London insisted. Brussels diplomats confirmed the initial muscular request came from London, but then it was diluted: the EU, NATO and the U.S. should not be involved – at least not directly.

Now compare this with the phone call last week between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and French President Emmanuel Macron, with Tehran expressing the determination to “keep all doors open” for the JCPOA. Well, certainly not open to the Monty Python sketch.

That was duly confirmed by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, who said Iran will “not allow disturbance in shipping in this sensitive area,” while Iranian vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri rejected the notion of a “joint European task force” protecting international shipping: “These kinds of coalitions and the presence of foreigners in the region by itself creates insecurity.”

Iran has always been perfectly capable, historically, of protecting that Pentagonese Holy Grail – “freedom of navigation” – in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran certainly doesn’t need former colonial powers to enforce it. It’s so easy to lose the plot; the current, alarming escalation is only taking place because of the “art of the deal” obsession on imposing an illegal, total economic war on Iran.

Pentagon Angst over China-Russia Strategic Unity

Global Research, July 22, 2019

Sino/Russian unity represents a vital anti-imperial alliance. A DOD/Pentagon white paper called Russia a strategic US  threat, especially united with China.

NYT editors addressed the issue, falsely calling both countries “adversaries.” Indeed they’re “growing closer,” both nations portrayed as strategic threats to US rage for global dominance.

The Times:

“(S)ince Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia after it invaded Ukraine in 2014 (sic), Chinese and Russian authorities have increasingly found common cause, disparaging Western-style democracy (sic) and offering themselves as alternatives to America’s postwar leadership.”

“Now China and Russia are growing even closer, suggesting a more permanent arrangement that could pose a complex challenge to the United States.”

Fact: No Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine or any other country occurred — a US/NATO specialty, not how the Kremlin operates.

Fact: So-called “Western-style democracy” is pure fantasy, not the real thing.

Fact: The US poses an imperial threat to Russia, China, and other countries, not the other way around.

China’s Xi Jinping earlier called Sino/Russia ties stronger than ever, the “best in history,” both nations “each other’s most trustworthy strategic partners,” adding:

“President Putin and I have built good working relations and a close personal friendship” — bilateral ties deepening, Xi calling Putin his “best and bosom friend.”

Leaders of both nations regard each other as key strategic allies — a vital counterforce to endless US aggression, threatening world peace, stability, and security.

Both countries rely on mutual cooperation, sharing a multi-world polarity worldview. They’re jointly implementing Beijing’s hugely ambitious One Belt One Road initiative for greater regional integration and development, involving well over $1 trillion in longterm investments.

The 2,500 mile Power of Siberian pipeline, linking Russia’s Far East to China to be completed this year will supply around 38 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to China annually for 30 years, according to agreed on terms between Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation.

Construction of the Power to Siberia-2 pipeline will deliver another 30 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to China via a Western route – both projects and other major ones of huge importance to both countries.

Putin and Xi have met face-to-face around two dozen times — testimony to their longterm strategic partnership and friendship.

China is an economic powerhouse, Russia the world’s dominant military power, its super-weapons exceeding the best in the West.

Russia is rich in what China needs most — oil and gas, technological expertise, industrial equipment, and state-of-the-art weapons.

Sharing a common border, both countries want them for defense, not offense like the US, NATO and Israel operate.

A Sino/Russian Investment Committee fosters expanding economic and financial ties, diversifying trade to reduce dependence on global economic conditions.

It promotes and facilitates cooperation in technology-intensive industrial, financial, commercial, and military areas.

Both nations are increasingly trading in their own currencies, bypassing dollar transactions. Global de-dollarization is an idea whose time has come.

Dollar hegemony as the world’s reserve currency facilitates US global dominance.

It finances Washington’s reckless spending, global militarism, its empire of bases, endless wars, corporate takeovers, as well as speculative excesses creating bubbles and economic crises – at the expense of democratic freedoms and beneficial social change.

Ending dollar dominance would be the political, economic, financial, military equivalent of cutting the biblical Sampson’s hair, eliminating his strength.

According to the DOD/Pentagon white paper, the US and its allies aren’t acting effectively enough to counter Sino/Russian aims — falsely accusing both countries of using “gray zone” tactics to foment instability.

It’s how US-dominated NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners operate, not Russia and China.

They’re growing world powers, the US a nation in decline politically, economically and militarily — despite spending countless trillions of dollars to maintain global supremacy.

The myth of American exceptionalism, the indispensable state, an illusory moral superiority, and military supremacy persist despite hard evidence debunking these notions.

The US has been declining for decades. The late Gabriel Kolko believes it began during US aggression against North Korea, continued during a decade of Southeast Asia war, and accelerated post-9/11.

It’s the same dynamic that doomed all other empire in history. The US is declining  because of its imperial arrogance, hubris, endless wars against invented enemies, and unwillingness to change.

Ruinous military spending persists while vital homeland needs go begging.

The US ruling class serves privileged interests exclusively at the expense of peace, equity and justice.

Its power and influence are waning on the global stage while Russia and China are rising — especially united for common longterm constructive aims.

*

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

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty

Via The Saker

July 18, 2019

Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty published on July 17, 2019

Original interview in Russian

Question: Can an improvement in the relations with the United States be expected in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: An improvement will hardly materialise any time soon, since it is anything but easy to sort out the mess that our relations are in, which is not our fault. After all, bilateral relations require reciprocal efforts. We have to meet each other half way.

Russia is ready to move in this direction, as we have said on a number of occasions. We proceed from the premise that Russia and the United States bear special responsibility. We are the two largest nuclear powers, the founding members of the United Nations and permanent members of its Security Council. Cooperation between our two countries is key to ensuring stability and predictability in international affairs. However, not everything depends on us. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.

The situation is quite complicated on the American side. On the one hand, President Donald Trump talks about seeking to be on good terms with Russia, but this attitude is far from prevalent in Washington. We see this in unfriendly steps, such as various groundless accusations Russia faces, imposing financial and economic sanctions, seizing diplomatic property, kidnapping Russian nationals in third countries, opposing Russia’s foreign policy interests, as well as attempts to meddle in our domestic affairs. We are seeing system-wide efforts to reach out to almost all countries around the world and persuade them to scale back their relations with Russia.

Many US politicians are trying to outshine each other in ramping up anti-Russia phobias and they are using this factor in their domestic political struggles. We understand that they will only escalate in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Nevertheless, we will not give up in despair. We will continue to look for common ground with the US despite all the challenges that there are.

It is essential that the Russian and US presidents both understand that there is a need to end the deadlock in our relations. During their June meeting which took place in Osaka the two leaders spoke out in favour of stepping up economic cooperation, combining efforts to settle regional crises, resuming dialogue on strategic stability, and also said that they appreciated dialogue on combatting terrorism. Vladimir Putin invited Donald Trump to Moscow to take part in the events to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in WWII.

All in all, it has to be recognised that Washington has been inconsistent and quite often unpredictable in its actions. For this reason, trying to predict anything in our relations with the US is a fruitless task. Let me reiterate that as far as Russia is concerned we are ready to patiently work on improving our relations. Of course, this will be possible only if Russia’s interests are respected, and based on equality and mutual respect.

Question: Our diplomats’ access to several Russian properties in San Francisco has been restricted. What practical actions are you taking to protect our property?

Sergey Lavrov: Washington has actually expropriated six Russian buildings which have been registered with the US Department of State as diplomatic property. These are two buildings of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco, the Consul General’s residence in Seattle, the countryside facilities of the Russian Embassy and Trade Mission in New York, as well as our Trade Mission in Washington. We have no diplomatic presence on the West Coast, where tens of thousands of Russian citizens and compatriots live. We have been denied the right to visit these places by the US State Department. All this is a flagrant violation of the United States’ international legal obligations.

We have responded to these openly coercive actions. We have shut down the US Consulate General in St Petersburg, which incidentally was not a US property. We are mulling over a choice of possible methods to reclaim the illegally seized Russian property. We regularly raise the subject of Washington’s violation of its obligations at the bilateral level and also at multilateral platforms. We will continue to do this.

Question: The United States abducts and hunts down Russian citizens around the world, imprisoning them under far-fetched pretexts, whereas we appear to be afraid of giving an appropriate response to these international bandits.

Sergey Lavrov: We are not afraid of anything. But we will not act like bandits either, because we respect international law.

The hunt for Russian citizens in other countries is nothing other than an instrument of US pressure on Russia. Washington has flatly refused to cooperate with our law enforcement agencies on the basis of the 1999 Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Instead, it puts pressure on its allies and other states to arrest Russian citizens on their territory and subsequently to extradite them to the United States. This is being done quietly, furtively and without any reliable proof [of these people’s guilt]. Some of our citizens have been abducted, as it happened to Konstantin Yaroshenko in Liberia in 2010 and to Roman Seleznev in the Maldives in 2014.

Of course, we will not leave our citizens alone with their problems. We carefully examine all the cases of Russian citizens detained at Washington’s request. The Russian authorities are working on measures to enhance the effectiveness of the legal protection of our citizens abroad. The Foreign Ministry and Russian diplomats in the United States are taking all possible measures to protect the rights and interests of our compatriots in distress. We are doing our best to ensure that Russian detainees have access to consular and legal assistance around the clock, as well as to improve their detainment conditions. In our contacts with the Americans, we invariably demand that our citizens be released and returned home as soon as possible. This also concerns the widely publicised cases of Viktor Bout and Maria Butina.

We raise this question at multilateral platforms, including the UN Human Rights Council, as well as in our contacts with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

Unfortunately, knowing the aggressive methods of the American system, which does not just stop at using illegal methods, we cannot guarantee that nothing bad will happen to Russian citizens abroad. In this context, I would like to use this occasion to recommend that our citizens thoroughly consider the risks of foreign trips, especially ones to the countries that have extradition agreements with the United States.

Question: Why would Russia pay for PACE membership if it is constantly subject to the assembly’s provocations?

Sergey Lavrov: Just to clarify, there are no separate fees for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Our country makes payments to the Council of Europe’s budget pursuant to the council’s Statute and Russian law. PACE-related expenses account for a small fraction of the Council of Europe’s common budget.

Strictly speaking, Council of Europe membership is a source of a number of benefits for our citizens and the country in general. They include refining our national legal system, solving a whole range of social and humanitarian issues, and fighting corruption. Every single ministry and agency that is part of the Inter-Agency Commission on Russia’s Council of Europe Membership (around 20 in total) confirm the importance of proactive participation in this organisation, including mechanisms of over 60 conventions that our country joined. 

As concerns provocations, they are engineered by the aggressive Russophobic minority egged on by the United States, an observer in the Council of Europe. Of course, this sours the atmosphere and does not bode well for constructive PACE work. But then again, the sensible majority of PACE members who support Russia’s return to the fold of this parliamentary structure is sick and tired of this meaningless vagary. This is indicated by the fact that at the June session, the assembly issued a resolution to restore Russia’s powers without any reservations, thus meeting the condition of Russia’s resuming payments.

Question: It is outrageous to watch the Ukrainian army’s rampage against LPR and DPR residents. Innocent civilians, children and defenders of these two republics are being killed. It was reported that local people addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request to send in troops. Why not do it and force Ukraine to make peace as was the case with Georgia?

Sergey Lavrov: True, the situation in Donbass remains extremely disturbing. To this day, hardly anything has been done to cease fire and shelling continues. Of course, the suffering of the people in these two unrecognised republics strikes a painful chord in our hearts.

The signals that President Vladimir Zelensky sent during his election campaign and right after being elected were rather contradictory. We hope that Kiev’s recent pledge to fully comply with the Minsk Agreements will take the shape of a practical policy after the pre-term Verkhovna Rada elections. The most important thing is to end the war and hear the people in southeastern Ukraine who want peace to be restored, who want to freely speak their native Russian language and their socioeconomic rights to be observed. All this was committed to writing in the Package of Measures.

I really hope that the new Ukrainian leadership will not continue the disastrous course of Poroshenko’s regime and will successfully convert the credit of trust it has into actual efforts to restore civil peace in Ukraine. The long-awaited disengaging of forces and equipment that began in late June in Stanitsa Luganskaya that had been blocked by the previous administration for two and a half years is a convincing indication that where there is political will there can be progress.  

Question: Does Russia intend to officially recognise the DPR and the LPR as independent states?

Sergey Lavrov: Our position on this matter is well known. According to the Minsk Package of Measures, where Russia acts as a guarantor, Donbass has to be granted special status that is permanently enshrined in Ukraine’s constitution. We believe in the need to focus at this point in time on implementing the Minsk Agreements as approved by a UN Security Council resolution, which makes them a binding instrument.

The Ukrainian leadership must look its own citizens straight in the face and renounce the policy of putting Donbass in an economic chokehold, recognise the right of Donetsk and Lugansk residents to speak their native language and celebrate the dates and public holidays they hold as sacred, and honour the memory of their national heroes. Without this it would not be serious, to say the least, to talk about restoring trust among DPR and LPR residents toward official Kiev. Of course, establishing meaningful and direct dialogue between Kiev and the unrecognised people’s republics is the central condition of the Minsk Agreements. This requires streamlining the work of the Contact Group formed by Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk representatives and supported by Russia and the OSCE. In this case, the Normandy Format can also be effective in facilitating the work of the Contact Group. There can also be other ways to support the settlement process in Donbass from the outside, as long as they are acceptable for all sides, and, of course, do not water down the tenets of the Minsk Agreements. President Vladimir Putin was abundantly clear in reaffirming his position, including during his telephone conversation with President Vladimir Zelensky on July 10.

Question: What is Russia’s Foreign Ministry doing to liberate Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky from detention in Kiev? He has spent more than a year in prison, in essence, for his professional activity. Why cannot Russia put pressure on Ukraine to free him?

Sergey Lavrov: The court proceedings in the case of RIA Novosti Ukraine editor-in-chief resemble the theatre of the absurd. There is no doubt that the journalist was subject to an illegal arrest, just for working for a Russian media outlet and honestly reporting on the ongoing developments. Even Ukrainian prosecutors seem to understand this, since they have been postponing hearings under the pretext of studying the investigative materials.

Russia demands that Kiev immediately release Kirill Vyshinsky and fully restore all his rights. Our diplomats maintain close contacts with the journalist’s lawyers, since Ukraine declined consular access. We do everything we can to reach out to our foreign partners, including on international platforms, calling on them to work with Kiev in order to bring about a positive resolution as soon as possible.

Question: What measures should the Georgian government take in order to prevent individuals who are a disgrace for Georgia from holding anti-Russia demonstrations near the country’s parliament?

Sergey Lavrov: Relations between the government and the opposition are Georgia’s internal affair. We have no intention to interfere in this process. However, we are definitely concerned about any attempts made by some radical representatives of the Georgian political elite to whip up Russophobic sentiment and pit our peoples against one another. I doubt that these individuals thought about the damage their action was causing to their country and the prosperity of its people, which depends to a significant extent on the state of economic and humanitarian relations with Russia.

We expect the Georgian leadership to recognise as soon as possible the detrimental nature and danger of further efforts to fan anti-Russia hysteria. After all, it is essential that official Tbilisi found the strength to condemn the shameful actions of a local television network that offended the President of Russia, causing misgivings even within the Georgian society.

We hope that the Georgian authorities will be able to restore social and political stability in the country and remove the existing security threats Russians currently face there. Should this happen, the necessary conditions will be created in order to look into the possibility for removing the precautionary measures Russia has taken, including a ban on air travel to Georgia. We want to be friends and to cooperate so that Russians and Georgians can benefit.

Question: The Chinese media have recently started referring to Siberia as “Chinese land.” Some 12 million Chinese currently live in Russia’s Far East and Siberia. Can it happen that China actually takes over Siberia and Russia’s Far East in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: Border disputes between Russia and China were settled for good a long time ago. The bilateral Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation adopted in 2001 states that there are no territorial claims between the two countries. Against this backdrop, those who have misgivings over the constructive development of Russian-Chinese relations seek to spread the myth of the Chinese threat.

As for the 12 million Chinese who allegedly live in the Far East and Siberia, I have great doubts about the accuracy of this figure. The associated fears are clearly blown out of proportion.

The policy by Russia and the People’s Republic of China to strengthen their neighbourly relations is a multifaceted and long-term effort that cannot be affected by short-term fluctuations. Sino-Russian cooperation is not aimed against anyone. Its main purpose is to facilitate socioeconomic development and prosperity for our countries and peoples. As Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping said following the June 5 talks in Moscow, the two countries are entering a new era in their comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation. The growing mutual trust in military and political affairs, record-high trade figures and expanding cultural and humanitarian contacts, as well as better coordination with Beijing on international affairs speak volumes of the positive momentum in our bilateral dialogue.

Question: Relations with Iran are essential for Russia’s geopolitics. However, Iran has indulged in unacceptable aggressive rhetoric against the state of Israel on numerous occasions and went beyond words. How is Russia’s position any different from that of European countries in the 1930s when they encouraged Hitler’s anti-Soviet stance?

Sergey Lavrov: Russia sees intrinsic value in its relations with Iran, Israel and all other Middle East countries. Russia has a multipronged foreign policy that is free from the principle of “being friends against someone.” In our contacts with the leaders of all regional countries we are consistent in calling on our partners to find peaceful solutions to the problems that may arise and renounce the use or threat of force.

The escalating tension in the region we are witnessing today is the direct result of Washington and some of its allies raising the stakes in their anti-Iranian policy. The US is flexing its muscles by seeking to discredit Tehran and blame all the sins on the Islamic Republic of Iran. This creates a dangerous situation: a single match can start a fire. The responsibility for the possible catastrophic consequences will rest with the United States.

As for the historical aspect of your question, it is not appropriate to project what happened in Europe in the 1930s on the current developments in the Middle East. As we all know, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier sought to appease Hitler in order to direct the German military might against the USSR. We are not seeing anything of this kind today.

Iran regularly reaffirms to us its interest in regional stability through dialogue with all the interested countries, including the Gulf Arab states. In addition to this, Tehran has always stressed that it did not intend to undertake any aggressive action.

As far as Russia is concerned, we are taking steps to de-escalate tensions. We are proactive in promoting the concept of collective security in the Persian Gulf implying a stage-by-stage approach to resolving conflicts and devising confidence building and control mechanisms. We are working with our partners to preserve the multilateral agreements to promote a settlement on the Iranian nuclear programme.

Question: Do you think that we are geopolitically losing in Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia and allowing a belt of “Russia’s enemies” to build up around us from among some of the former “brotherly nations” who earn money in Russia and on Russia, repatriate it and still consider us if not enemies, definitely not friends?

Sergey Lavrov: The political processes in Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia concern us, there is no question about it, because they are our brotherly peoples and we are tied by a long history of relations, including being part of one state.

Unfortunately, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union the West came to believe that it was the end of history and the West can now blatantly interfere with the affairs of any country and presumptuously call the shots in its domestic politics. Ukraine is perhaps the most flagrant example.

Armenia is a different story. This country is Russia’s key partner in the South Caucasus with whom we have strong strategic relations and an alliance. We are engaged in an extensive political dialogue and cooperate between parliaments and on the international scene. Russia is Armenia’s leading economic partner. Our links in the education, culture, investment, military and technical sector are on the rise.

As concerns Georgia, I am certain that Georgians do not see us Russians as enemies. Unfortunately, right now we see certain politicians in Georgia competing in anti-Russian rhetoric to achieve their mercenary and opportunistic goals. I am sure that everything will be ironed out sooner or later and that our countries will again enjoy neighbourly relations.

Broadly speaking, our agenda in the post-Soviet space has a unifying nature and is aimed at stimulating the socioeconomic development of respective countries, promoting and harmonising integration in the region, strengthening collective security and the potential of our coordinated response to threats and challenges. 

Question: What is the status of the talks with Iraq over bringing back our women and children from prisons? What are the prospects of them returning back home?

Sergey Lavrov: So far, we have managed to bring back home 90 children. According to our records, some 30 more children remain in Iraq. We plan to bring them back within the next months.

Unfortunately, the situation is more complicated when it comes to their mothers. All of them are convicted for breaking Iraqi law, by illegally crossing the border, staying in the country illegally and participating in terrorist activities. Sixty-six Russian nationals are currently in prison. The Russian Embassy in Baghdad is constantly monitoring their cases and providing necessary help.

To recap, we started working on the humanitarian operation to return our minor citizens back to Russia in the autumn of 2017 when Iraqi officials informed us that Russian women and children were detained during a counter-terrorist operation in Mosul.

The office of the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova established a commission to coordinate the operation. The commission involves representatives of competent government bodies, including the Foreign Ministry. Together with the Iraqi authorities we agreed on a course of action to locate the children and prepare the necessary documents for their repatriation. Russian specialists collected the children’s and mothers’ biological material for DNA relationship testing. Meanwhile, we were looking for relatives to establish formal guardianship. Then we received rulings of the Baghdad Central Court on returning the children.

We continue to work hard on this matter.

Question: What is the reason for facilitating access to Russian citizenship for people living abroad?

Sergey Lavrov: These decisions are based above all on humanitarian considerations. This is why we have adopted a facilitated procedure for the granting of Russian citizenship to the residents of certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The procedure was formalized in April of this year by a presidential executive order.

Kiev’s blockade has made the living in certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine unbearable. The people have been deprived of everything, including social payments, pensions, wages, as well as the national system of banking, education and healthcare services. They have been stripped of their voting rights, as neither election commissions nor polling stations were established in their districts. In other words, Kiev has de facto turned these people into stateless persons.

It was our duty to provide assistance to these people in that situation. Russian citizenship will allow them to tackle their current problems, give them freedom of movement as well as access to healthcare services, education, banking services and transportation.

At the same time, Russia is not forcing anyone to adopt its citizenship or abandon the Ukrainian citizenship. Each resident of Donbass makes the decision independently.

Besides, this is not a new practice at all. A number of European countries, for example, Poland, Hungary and Romania, have been doing this for years.

The general procedure for granting Russian citizenship is regulated by a federal law, which says that the basic condition is the applicant’s residence in Russia. But the law also stipulates preferences for foreign nationals living outside Russia if at least one of their parents is a Russian citizen living in Russia. An exception has been made for the stateless persons who used to hold Soviet citizenship and are living in the former Soviet republics. They can receive Russian citizenship without taking up residency in Russia. In addition to this, parents holding Russian citizenship can register their children born in mixed marriages as Russian citizens. We are working to improve this procedure.

In reality, Russian offices abroad issue Russian passports to some 50,000 people every year. Over half of them are children born in mixed marriages. Their parents usually write in their applications that they want to maintain the legal and spiritual connection to Russia.

Question: Have you ever developed good personal relations with foreign colleagues even though you may have political differences with their home countries? Can you provide an example of such friendship?

Sergey Lavrov: Good and trust-based personal relations are extremely important in the diplomatic profession. In some cases communications are maintained and solutions to problems are found only thanks to such personal relations. In general, I believe that the ability to maintain close contacts, avoid emotional decision-making and never forget about your country’s strategic interests when dealing with short-term concerns are the required qualities of all diplomats irrespective of rank and post.

Of course, partners and counterparts do change. For example, as a Foreign Minister I have worked with five US Secretaries of State. But this does not mean [personal] ties are broken off when my colleagues retire or are appointed to another position. After all, this is a small world.

As for giving examples, I would not like to name anyone now, including out of respect for the other colleagues. After all, friendship is a very personal matter. Besides, many of my friends are still working in the diplomatic service or are prominent in the socio-political sphere.

Question: What quality distinguishes a real diplomat from a fake one?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the qualities a professional diplomat must have, I would say that the most important of them is a deep understanding of your country’s development goals and foreign policy interests. Of course, this calls for special training, good knowledge of history, constant involvement in all aspects of life, as well as colossal erudition. Diplomats routinely work with people from other countries, ethnicities and cultures. So they must be well-versed in a country’s specifics. Of course, it is very important to have a knowledge of foreign languages, which is, by the way, a strong point when it comes to our diplomacy. Overall, diplomatic work consists of active contacts with people, which is why a real diplomat must make a good impression, find common language with others in any situation, as well as be able not only to hear but also to listen to what the counterparts say.

Sultan shines in the court of the Dragon King

Sultan shines in the court of the Dragon King

by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permission

July 10, 2019

The graphiSultan shines in the court of the Dragon Kingc image of Turkey pivoting away from NATO towards the Russia-China strategic partnership was provided, in more ways than one, by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing right after the G20 in Osaka.

Turkey is a key hub in the emerging New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative. Erdogan is a master at selling Turkey as the ultimate East-West crossroads. He has also expressed much interest in joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by Russia-China, whose annual summit took place in Bishkek a few days before Osaka.

In parallel, against hell and high water – from threats of sanctions by the US Congress to NATO warnings – Erdogan never budged from Ankara’s decision to buy Russian S-400 defense missile systems, a $2.5-billion contract according to Rostec’s Sergei Chemezov.

The S-400s start to be shipped to Turkey as early as this week. According to Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar, their deployment should start by October. Much to Washington’s ire, Turkey is the first NATO member state to buy S-400s.

Xi, as he welcomed Erdogan in Beijing, stressed the message he crafted together with Putin in their previous meetings in St Petersburg, Bishkek and Osaka: China and Turkey should “uphold a multilateral world order with the United Nations at its core, a system based on international law.”

Erdogan, for his part, turned up the charm – from publishing an op-ed in the Global Times extolling a common vision of the future to laying it out in some detail. His target is to consolidate Chinese investment in multiple areas in Turkey, directly or indirectly related to Belt and Road.

BEIJING, CHINA – JULY 02: President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) walk past the honor guards during an official welcoming ceremony at Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on July 02, 2019. Volkan Furuncu / Anadolu Agency

Addressing the extremely sensitive Uighur dossier head on, Erdogan deftly executed a pirouette. He eschewed accusations from his own Foreign Ministry that “torture and political brainwashing” were practiced in Uighur detention camps and would rather comment that Uighurs “live happily” in China. “It is a fact that the peoples of China’s Xinjiang region live happily in China’s development and prosperity. Turkey does not permit any person to incite disharmony in the Turkey-China relationship.”

This is even more startling considering that Erdogan himself, in the past decade, had accused Beijing of genocide. And in a famous 2015 case, hundreds of Uighurs about to be deported from Thailand back to China ended up, after much fanfare, being resettled in Turkey.

New geopolitical caravan

Erdogan seems to have finally realized that the New Silk Roads are the 2.0 digital version of the Ancient Silk Roads whose caravans linked the Middle Kingdom, via trade, to multiple lands of Islam – from Indonesia to Turkey and from Iran to Pakistan.

Before the 16th century, the main line of communication across Eurasia was not maritime, but the chain of steppes and deserts from Sahara to Mongolia, as Arnold Toynbee wonderfully observed. Walking the line we would find merchants, missionaries, travelers, scholars, all the way to Turko-Mongols from Central Asia migrating to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. They all formed the stuff of interconnection and cultural exchange between Europe and Asia – way beyond geographical discontinuity.

Arguably Erdogan is now able to read the new tea leaves. The Russia-China strategic partnership – directly involved in linking Belt and Road with the Eurasia Economic Union and also the International North-South Transportation Corridor – considers Turkey and Iran as absolutely indispensable key hubs for the ongoing, multi-layered Eurasia integration process.

A new Turkey-Iran-Qatar geopolitical and economic axis is slowly but surely evolving in Southwest Asia, ever more linked to Russia-China. The thrust is Eurasia integration, visible for instance via a frenzy of railroad building designed to link the New Silk Roads, and the Russia-Iran transportation corridor, to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea and, eastwards, the Iran-Pakistan corridor to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, one of Belt and Road’s highlights.

This is all being supported by interlocking transportation cooperation agreements involving Turkey-Iran-Qatar and Iran-Iraq-Syria.

The end result not only consolidates Iran as a key Belt and Road connectivity hub and China’s strategic partner, but also by contiguity Turkey – the bridge to Europe.

As Xinjiang is the key hub in Western China connecting to multiple Belt and Road corridors, Erdogan had to find a middle ground – in the process minimizing, to a great extent, waves of disinformation and Western-peddled Sinophobia. Applying Xi Jinping thought, one would say Erdogan opted for privileging cultural understanding and people-to-people exchanges over an ideological battle.

The flags of China and Turkey flutter in Beijing during Erdogan’s visit to China on July 2. Photo: Wang Xin/ ImagineChina / AFP

Ready to mediate

In conjunction with his success at the court of the Dragon King, Erdogan now feels emboldened enough to offer his services as mediator between Tehran and the Trump administration – picking up on a suggestion he made to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G20.

Erdogan would not have made that offer if it had not been discussed previously with Russia and China – which, crucially, are member signatories of the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

It’s easy to see how Russia and China should consider Turkey the perfect mediator: a neighbor of Iran, the proverbial bridge between East and West, and a NATO member. Turkey is certainly much more representative than the EU-3 (France, UK, Germany).

Trump seems to want – or at least gives the impression of imposing – a JCPOA 2.0, without an Obama signature. The Russia-China partnership could easily call his bluff, after clearing it with Tehran, by offering a new negotiating table including Turkey. Even if the ineffective – in every sense – EU-3 remained, there would be real counterbalance in the form of Russia, China and Turkey.

Out of all these important moves in the geopolitical chessboard, one motivation stands out among top players: Eurasian integration cannot significantly progress without challenging the Trumpian sanction obsession.

Tensions Grow as China, Russia and Iran Lead the Way Towards a New Multipolar World Order

or-41448

Military and economic tensions are increasing due to the ramped up warlike stance of the US establishment. The impossibility of halting the shifting world order in favour of prolonging the unipolar moment has left the US deep state reaching for any available weapon at hand, taking no heed of the dangers and consequences of such a reckless foreign policy.

With the province of Idlib ever closer to being liberated from terrorists by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the tensions between the US and Syria (and Syria’s allies) are rising. Every significant military campaign by the SAA seems to be accompanied by the usual alarms and false reports emanating from the Western media and governments warning of an imminent (staged) use of chemical weapons by the SAA. Tensions are rising as several American voices, including that of the President, have expressed the desire to strike Syria over any alleged use of chemical weapons, without even waiting for any independent verification. Threats by the US, the UK and France to bomb Russian troops in Syria are voiced everyday on Western media. The insanity is reaching disturbing levels.

These developments in Syria appear to be accompanied by the persistent attempts of Ukraine and the United States to sabotage the Minsk agreements, re-igniting the conflict in order to blame it on Russia. The assassination of Aleksandr Zakharchenko, charismatic leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), killed a few days ago in a terrorist attack, should be seen in this light.

More false accusations against Moscow, this time of having poisoned former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the UK, follow on from allegations of Moscow interfering in the US presidential election. Added to this situation of rising tensions between great powers are the constant threats, together with economic and financial warfare, directed at Iran by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

It is not surprising that, given this context, the Russian Federation has just carried out the greatest military exercise in its history. The Vostok 2018 military exercise is extensively described by TASS:

The Vostok 2018 troop exercises have started in Russia’s Far East. Taking part in the drills are about 300,000 Russian troops, over 1,000 aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, up to 36,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles, up to 80 ships and supply vessels. Exercises similar in scale have not been held since 1981 when the Zapad-81 drills that involved about 100,000 troops were held in the Soviet Union’s Belarusian, Kiev and Baltic Military Districts and in the Baltic Sea.

It should not come as a surprise that the People’s Republic of China has sent thousands of men and materiel to participate in the exercise, sending a clear message to Washington and the West. As the West’s warmongering continues, this widely controversial article in The Atlantic came out and provides the following hint:

The inclusion of a relatively small Chinese contingent in this year’s edition [Vostok 2018 military exercise] is not quite the signal of a military alliance that some see, but it has certainly made the West take notice. It’s hard to escape the symbolism when as Russian and Chinese troops were training together, Putin and Xi Jinping were holding a summit and pledging closer business and political cooperation. At a time when Washington and Europe have tried to isolate Moscow diplomatically, this is clearly intended as a message that Putin is still capable of making connections with countries not willing to follow the West.

The Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok marks yet another significant point in the new Sino-Russian strategy to isolate and limit Western-induced chaos, strengthen the support for countries affected in one way or another by Washington, and expand cooperation in every direction possible. The economic ties between the two countries’ production systems deserve attention, especially in light of future agreements between the industrial giants of the two countries. The partnership is broad and goes far beyond the territories of Russia and China. Technological cooperation is expanding in regions such as Africa and South East Asia, often symbiotically offering important agreements to third countries. Civil nuclear energy and arms sales seem to be Moscow’s speciality, just as generous loans and joint development of basic resources (hospitals, schools, water networks, sewerage, motorways, ports) are Beijing’s. Such offers of assistance are important for capturing not only the attention of Third World countries keen to break free from the West’s colonial chains, but also of those countries that need to transition quickly into the new multipolar world order.

An example is Japan, with Abe also present in Vladivostok, exploring ways to balance the Chinese expansion in Asia. In reality, such a reading belongs very much to the Western way of thinking, in which everything must be seen in zero-sum terms. What many in the West struggle to understand, especially among European and American journalists and analysts, is how Washington’s attitude over recent years is actually serving to push together the four Euro-Asian giants of China, Russia, Japan and India. While maintaining sometimes strong ties with the West, the trend is decidedly different from the past. Abe was in discussion with Putin to sign the long-awaited peace agreement between the two countries. India seems increasingly anxious to expand its strategic independence, especially from an energy point of view, cooperating with Iran and ignoring Western sanctions, and from a military standpoint, buying the S-400 air defence system.

In general, a multipolar environment of international relations already prevails in vast areas of the planet, both from a military and economic standpoint. De-dollarization appears to be an inevitable trend for the purposes of achieving significant economic sovereignty, thereby avoiding the vulnerability of US-dollar blackmail as a destabilization tool used by Washington and the Federal Reserve. With an imminent economic crisis in the West, fuelled and exacerbated by more than ten years of artificially printed money (quantitative easing), an economic prophylactic is a priority for Washington’s declared rivals (Iran, China, Russia). The consequences for the international financial system could be much more serious than the two previous crises of 1929 and 2008, especially according to Chris Hedge in his recent analysis.

Unprecedented joint military exercises, economic cooperation as a means of diversification, strategic partnerships – these have become normal in Eurasia, especially for Russia, China and Iran, who continue to advance their formula for overcoming the chaos wrought by Washington and her Israeli and Saudi sidekicks. The prevailing modus operandi of Western policy-makers for countries they cannot control seems to be to sic onto them the dogs of chaos and destabilization in order to destroy them. This can be seen, for example, in the assassination of Zakharchenko in eastern Ukraine (Donbass) by the Kiev junta, probably even employing elements of Daesh or al Qaeda; the same tools used by the US in the Middle East to sow chaos.

The situation is not different in Syria, with Washington, London and Paris intent on stopping the liberation of Idlib, a remaining pocket containing thousands of Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists. Seventeen years after September 11th 2001, the United States unstintingly supports the terrorists who, according to the official story, killed thousands of its own civilians on home soil.

Logic and reason seem to have been abandoned long ago in Washington’s decision-making, even more so given that Trump has completely renounced all his electoral promises regarding foreign policy. The rapprochement with Moscow is now a distant mirage; the special relationship between Xi Jinping and Trump is just the latter’s propaganda, anxious as he is to reach an agreement with the DPRK and show some example of success to his base.

The logic of imposing more than $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese products, and then asking for strong support from Beijing in mediation with Pyongyang, seems more like the moves of a desperate person rather than those of an amateur. Even historical allies like South Korea, Pakistan, India and Turkey, as repeatedly stressed recently, fear Washington’s irrationality and politics of “America First” and are running for cover. They are diversifying energy resources and ignoring American diktats, buying armaments from Russia, cooperating with China in large infrastructure projects to connect the vast Eurasian continent, and participating in economic and financial forums to diversify funding and cooperate on a new and industrial level.

Indeed, the strategic triangle that emerges between Tehran, Beijing and Moscow, seems to draw all the neighbouring countries into a large geopolitical waltz. A transition to a multipolar reality brings many advantages to Washington’s allies, but it also brings many tensions with American oligarchs. The example of the sale of the S-400 in Ankara is an important wake-up call for the oligarchs of the American military-industrial complex, who see a potential loss in revenue. In the same way, the creation of an alternative system to SWIFT strongly reduces the centrality of American banking institutions and thus their political weight. We must also keep in mind Sino-Russian actions in Africa, which are progressively breaking the chains of Western neo-colonialism, thereby freeing African countries to pursue a more balanced foreign policy focused on their national interests.

This transition phase that we have been living in over the last few years will continue for some time. Like an already written script, the trend is easily discernible to a lucid mind free of Western propaganda. Erdogan certainly is not a person to be completely trusted, and the talks in Astana should be understood in this light, especially if viewed from the Russian-Iranian point of view. Yet such cooperation opens the door to an unprecedented future, although at present Astana seems more like an alternative to a bloody war between countries in Syria than a conversation between allies. Syria’s future will unavoidably see the country’s territorial integrity maintained, thanks to allies who are now disengaged from the Western system and are gravitating around centers of power opposed to Washington, namely Beijing, Moscow and Tehran.

The reconstruction of the country will bypass western sanctions and bring significant amounts of money to the country. In the same way Iraq, once under the rule of a dictator friendly to Washington, today openly and genuinely collaborates with Moscow, and especially Tehran, in defeating the Wahhabi proxies of Riyadh, an American ally.

The economic battle serves to complete the picture, with European allies forced to suffer huge economic losses as a result of sanctions against Russia and Iran. The tariffs on trade, especially to countries like Turkey, Japan and South Korea (although it seems that this proposal was intentionally sabotaged by a collaborator within the Trump administration), are further serving to push US allies to explore alternatives in terms of trust and cooperation.

China and Russia have seized the opportunities, offering through adroit diplomacy military, industrial and economic proposals that are drawing Washington’s historical allies into a new political reality where there is less space for Washington’s diktats.

The European establishment in some Western countries like Germany, France and the UK seems to have decided wait out Trump (this torture perhaps brought to an early end through a palace coup). But many others have instead intuited what is really happening in the West. Two factions are fighting each other, but still within the confines of a shared worldview that sees the United States as the only benevolent world power, and the likes of China and Russia as rivals that need to be contained. In such a difficult situation to manage, well-known leaders like Modi, Abe, Moon Jae-In and Erdogan are starting to take serious steps towards exploring possible alternatives to an exclusive alliance with the United States, that is, towards experiencing the benefits of a multipolar-world environment.

It is not just a question for these countries of breaking the strategic alliance with the United States. This aspect will probably not change for several years, especially in countries that have enormous military and economic ties with Washington. The path that South Korea, Turkey and Japan appear to be taking is deeply rooted in the concept of Multipolarity, which diversifies international relations, allowing countries to shop around to find the best opportunities. It is therefore not surprising to see the Japanese prime minister and the Russian president discussing at the economic forum in Vladivostok the possibility of signing a historic peace treaty. In the same way, if Turkey suffers a double political and economic attack from the US, it should not surprise us if they decide to purchase the S-400 defense system from Russia or start a full fledged campaign to de-dollarize. Such examples could be repeated, but the case of South Korea stands out. There is no need for Seoul to wait for Washington to mess things up diplomatically with Pyongyang before discussing the rebirth of relations between the two countries. Seoul is anxious to seize the opportunity for a renewed dialogue between leaders and solve the Korean impasse as much as possible. Finally, India, which has no intention of losing the opportunity for an economic partnership with Beijing and a military one with Moscow, launched the basis for a multi-party discussion between the Eurasian powers on the Afghan situation that has caused so much friction with Islamabad, especially with the new political phase that Imran Khan’s victory as Pakistan’s prime minister promises.

Washington faces all these scenarios with skepticism, annoyance and disgust, fearing losing important countries and its ability to determine the regional balance around the planet. What fascinates many analysts is the stubbornness and stupidity of US policy-makers. The more they try to prolong the US unipolar moment, the more incentive they give to other countries to jump on the multipolar bandwagon.

Even countries that probably have deep ties with the United States on an oligarchic level will have no alternative other than to modify and redesign their strategic alliances over the next 30 years. The United States continues along the path of diplomatic arrogance and strategic stupidity, mired in a civil war among its elites, with no end in sight.

Each scenario involving the US now has to be viewed with two factors in mind: not just the attempt to maintain an imperialist posture, but also an internal struggle involving its elites. This adds a further level of confusion for America’s allies and the world in general, who strain to decipher the next moves of a deep state totally out of control.

By Federico Pieraccini
Source

The Decreasing Relevance Of Sino-Russian Rivalries

September 24, 2018

by Mister Unknown for The Saker Blog

When writing about Sino-Russian relations, western journalists & academics often write as if the Sino-Russian rivalry of the past are eternal and unchanging constants in international relations. The common refrain often goes something like “despite continuing differences… Russia & China are working together…”, “Although the two parties appear aligned against the US, historical rivalries will ensure that this remains a ‘marriage of convenience’…”, even US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis commented that “I see little in the long term that aligns Russia and China…” when asked about China’s unprecedented participation in Russia’s Vostok-2018 military exercises. The current prevailing opinion seems to suggest that China & Russia are big countries with big ambitions & big egos, & therefore destined to always remain rivals in international relations. Sino-Russian rivalries have been very real and intense in the past. However, there is little in-depth analysis on the underlying causes behind these rivalries, and whether these causes will continue to drive Russia & China apart in the foreseeable future. The following is far from an “in-depth” analysis, but at least dig below the surface of the notion of China & Russia as eternal, intractable rivals. Even casual scrutiny suggests that continued rivalry cannot be taken for-granted as an unchanging in international relations. In fact, the past drivers of Sino-Russian competition/rivalry are trending towards irrelevance for both countries’ strategic priorities.

Mainstream pundits often cite three major causes of past Sino-Russian rivalry/hostilities, which this article will address in order of increasing strategic impact (in other words, least to most important): ideological competition, territorial disputes, and competing influences in Central Asia.

Ideological Competition – Complete Irrelevance

This competition dates back to the late 1950s, when Mao & Khrushchev competed on whose brand of communism was the “correct” one, and which country – the USSR or PRC – should be the rightful leader of the global communist movement and various leftist revolutions across the world. It was as much a clash of personalities (Mao vs. Khrushchev) as it was a genuine ideological dispute, but the ever widening rift eventually caused the Sino-Soviet split, which in turn caused other nationalist sentiments (e.g. territorial disputes that escalated to the Sino-Soviet border clashes of ’69) to deteriorate bilateral relations to the point of enmity. It is plainly obvious that this ideological rivalry is completely irrelevant today. Neither country is genuinely communist, & neither aspires to lead global ideological crusades of any kind. This past rivalry has no meaningful impact on either country’s policy or bilateral relations, except perhaps as a historical lesson to avoid ideological rigidity in bilateral relations.

Territorial Disputes – Gradually Irrelevant

Territorial disputes used to be the biggest source of bilateral tension since feudal times, and all the way up to the days of the Sino-Soviet split. But today this is increasingly becoming an outdated relic of history, as neither side can change existing borders in its own favor, and any effort to do so is clearly not worth the cost.

The territorial dispute between Russia and China dates back to the 1600s, when both were feudal empires instead of modern nation-states. One of the fundamental characteristics of feudal empires is the lack of fixed borders. Empires expand when they accumulate power, and contract when they weaken. This means that the Qing & Tsarist Empires inevitably clashed over territory when both sides expanded into North Asia. The disputes were eventually settled in Russia’s favor, via the Treaties of Aigun and Beijing (1858 & 1860, respectively). China was forced to cede claims to previously disputed territories, which encompass parts of modern-day Primorskii Krai, Khabarovskii Krai, & Amurskaya Oblast. These treaties were among a long series of “unequal treaties” imposed on China by various European powers during its “Century of Humiliation“. The borders established in the aforementioned treaties largely reflect today’s Sino-Russian borders, and remained the basis for settling leftover territorial ambiguities in the 2000s. Consequently, here are no more territorial disputes of any kind between the PRC & Russia today. But unsurprisingly, this remains a source of informal emotional resentment among the Chinese public, perhaps even comparable to that of the Opium Wars & the burning of the Old Summer Palace.

This lingering emotional resentment, along with China’s large population relative to Russia, is the basis for the modern “Yellow Peril” myth, which remains prevalent in western perceptions (& even Russian perceptions) about Sino-Russian relations today. The narrative of this myth can be summarized as the following: China has a huge and growing population, and a rapidly growing economy. Consequently, its resource demand will outstrip its own territory’s supply. On the other hand, Russia has a dwindling population, especially in the Russian Far East, a relatively slow economy, but huge amounts of emptying land in areas bordering China. Therefore, the Chinese will inevitably take these bordering lands from Russia to “restore its lost territories”. China will do so not through military invasion, but rather the mass migration of ethnic Chinese from Northeast China into the Russian Far East. When the Chinese “flood” the region and become the ethnic majority, they’ll start an uprising and annex the region, similar to the Israeli annexation of Palestine, or the US annexation of Texas from Mexico.

This mythical narrative completely ignores two fundamental realities about migration and Chinese demographics:

1. Migration: people generally don’t uproot their lives & entire families just to settle elsewhere out of nationalistic resentment, they do so to either escape turmoil and violence, or seek better economic opportunities. In the foreseeable future, neither of those incentives will drive the average Chinese to migrate to Russia. The PRC is highly stable, and Chinese trust in their own institutions is at an all-time high. More importantly, average Chinese wages have recently exceeded those of Russians, particularly Russians in Siberia and the Russian Far East, where wages are lower than those of European Russia.

2. Chinese demographics: the “Yellow Peril” myth assumes that China’s population will grow indefinitely, and will need resources and new jobs to maintain prosperity. In reality, Chinese resource demand will likely plateau and decline as its population does the same. In fact, China’s total population is projected to decrease within 10 years, and fall below 1 billion (from the current 1.4 billion) by 2100, if current trends continue. Consequently, China is already facing a labor shortage, and will inevitably become a net IMPORTER of labor and migrants, rather than a net exporter.

Current realities on the ground in Russia reflects these trends. The latest academic and census data shows that the total ethnic Chinese population levels in Russia remain stagnant – at about 400-550K. Among them, over half live in the European parts of Russia (where economic opportunities are better). This means that the ethnic Chinese population in the rest of Russia – including Siberia & the Russian Far East (RFE) – is at most 200-300K. This represents less than 5% of the total population in the RFE. If current trends of rapidly rising wages & intensifying labor shortages in China continues, the ethnic Chinese population in Russia will inevitably DECLINE, not increase. This means China has no chance of “overwhelming” and annexing the RFE through mass migration. Needless to say, a Chinese military invasion of the region, against the world’s largest nuclear power, is futile and suicidal. Similarly, Russia has neither the intent nor the capability to expand southward to carve out territories or spheres of influence within China; any Russian attempt to do so is equally hopeless.

In short, on the territorial dispute front, Russia & China have reached a point where any attempts to change the existing border have become impossible, regardless of past misgivings and emotional sentiments. Judging by recent bilateral efforts to promote joint development and visa-free tourism, both sides are gradually realizing the irrelevance of past border disputes and are moving on to more productive endeavors.

The Competition For Central Asia – Relevant But Unnecessary

The one area of potential Sino-Russian rivalry that could still remain relevant is the strategic competition for influence over Central Asia. The two countries are the most influential powers in this region. Russia’s cultural and political influence – as a result of the Soviet legacy – remains preeminent in Central Asia, whereas China is rising as the region’s biggest trading partner. It is conceivable that the two powers could see the competition for influence in a zero-sum way in the near-future, but even in this case, such an outcome is highly questionable and uncertain. The primary reason to doubt a zero-sum competition is that China & Russia’s strategic goals in Central Asia do not necessarily conflict, & often complement each other.

China’s interests in Central Asia can be summarized in 3 line items:

1. Purchase natural resources (primarily oil & gas) from the region

2. Use the region as a part of an Eurasian land-bridge to trade more efficiently with the EU

3. Prevent the region from becoming a hotbed of Islamic extremism that promotes separatism in Xinjiang

Meanwhile, Russia’s Central Asian interests can also be summarized into 3 items:

1. Regional economic growth and integration through the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)

2. Prevent the rise of anti-Russian regimes caused by colored revolutions & coups

3. Prevent the spread of Islamic extremism from the Middle East & Afghanistan into Central Asia & Russia itself

Looking at this list, one could easily identify areas in which the advancement of one country’s interests can also advance that of the other. Obviously, both China & Russia would benefit from preventing the spread of religious extremism & separatism. Both countries would benefit from a more integrated & interconnected EEU – Russia would advance its economic development, while China would get a more streamlined land-bridge to Europe. Finally there are the goals that do not conflict each other – China’s increased trade with Central Asia does not give rise to anti-Russian regimes or sentiments (in fact it has sparked occasional fear among Central Asians about Chinese economic monopoly, which could drive Central Asians to solidify ties with Russia as a counterbalancing force).

On the other hand, even if one party successfully squeezed out the other, the “winning” country would actually cause harm to its own self-interests in the region. Let’s imagine a scenario where the PRC successfully eliminates all Russian political & cultural influence (by some miracle), and completely dominates Central Asia economically, politically, & militarily. It would be able to exploit Central Asia’s natural resources & contain Islamic extremism, but Central Asia’s value as a part of a land bridge would be virtually useless without accessing transit through Russia. Granted going south through Iran and Turkey is a potential alternative, but a very poor one given the region’s constant political and military strife. The same scenario of sub-optimal outcomes is also applicable to Russia. Let’s now imagine the reverse, where Russia is able to completely push out all Chinese economic influence and achieve total hegemony in Central Asia. It would be able to ensure pro-Russian governments stay in power & contain the spread of radical Islam, but would be hard-pressed to advance EEU integration without any outside participation and investments.

Much like the dynamics of the Sino-Russian territorial dispute, current interactions in Central Asia has reached a point where zero-sum competition – even if successfully executed by one party against the other – is more likely to undermine the interests of the “winning” party, rather than advance it.

Conclusion

The traditional assumption that China and Russia “are destined to remain suspicious rivals” is increasingly becoming out of date. This is NOT just because American hostility has pressured Russia and China to set aside old rivalries, but rather those old rivalries are becoming less and less relevant to both sides, as the payoffs of “victory” in these spheres of competition has far passed the point of diminishing returns. In fact, looking at both the old territorial disputes and the dynamics of Central Asia, one could argue that Russia and China are in a strange and rare “reverse prisoners’ dilemma”, where the incentive to “cooperate” far outweighs the incentive to “cheat”, and “victory” of one side over the other represents a worse strategic outcome for the “victor” than a “stalemate”.

%d bloggers like this: