Adolf Trump Goes for Venezuela. A Jump into Nothingness?

South Front

Adolf Trump Goes for Venezuela. A Jump into Nothingness?

Source: Solidaria, translation Resumen LatinoamericanoNorth America bureau

In the midst of a desolate scenario, when the United States has become the country with the highest number those infected by the corona virus, President Donald Trump and his team of serial criminals like Elliott Abrams, Cuban-American Mauricio Claver-Carone, Marco Rubio and others, announced that their country and 22 other nations would launch a far-reaching operation against drug trafficking in the Western Hemisphere, deploying naval and air force military reinforcements in the Caribbean Sea and the South Pacific.

From Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro denounced this situation to the world, in an extraordinary letter to the governments while the majority of the countries of the world and even the United Nations are requesting that the United States lift the sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and other countries, in view of the very serious emergency of a pandemic of this magnitude.

So far there has been no positive response and the most serious thing is that the threatening military maneuver is not stopping and in the last hours journalists and humanitarian agencies in Colombia have been denouncing the presence of US troops in their country where there is 9 US military bases.

Holman Morris, director of Colombia’s channel three, warned this weekend that U.S. troops and helicopters have arrived at the Colombian-Venezuelan border in the Santander area, posing a scenario of invasion and war at a time when United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an “immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world” warning of what any act of war could mean for the most vulnerable and war-torn countries where there has been a collapse in health systems, while COVID 19 is claiming thousands of lives daily.

«تايتانك» أميركا تغرق والربيع الصينيّ يجتاح العالم!

محمد صادق الحسيني

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1

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

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

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

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

وتلك الأيام نداولها بين الناس.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

لا حروب في زمن الكورونا وما بعده

ناصر قنديل

تتكاثر التحليلات عن فرضيّة يسمّيها أصحابها بالهروب إلى الأمام، ومضمونها قيام إدارة الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب بحرب خارجية كبرى تصرف الأنظار عن الفشل في مواجهة فيروس كورونا، وتتيح للرئيس الأميركي خلط الأوراق والحصول على فرص أفضل انتخابياً، والسيطرة على حملات خصومه داخلياً بالاستناد على مفهوم الروح الوطنية في حال الحرب، ويندرج في إطار هذا التقدير الحديث عند البعض عن حرب كبرى على الصين، أو أخرى على إيران، أو ثالثة في العراق بوجه قوى المقاومة، وهي الأكثر رواجاً بين الفرضيات، لتناسبها مع التهديدات الأميركية، ومع بعض الإجراءات كنشر صواريخ الباتريوت في قواعد أميركية في العراق.

مشكلة هذا التحليل أنه مبني على منهج كلاسيكي ينتمي لزمن ما قبل الكورونا أولاً، ويفترض ضمناً دون تدقيق أن الحرب ستنتج وضعاً أفضل لمن يخوضها، وخصوصاً عند الحديث عن حرب أميركية، فمن قال إنها ستحقق الفرضيات التي يجري تبريرها كخيار بضمان تحقيقها، ومن قال إن الحرب ستكون نتائجها لصالح أميركا سواء على الصين أو إيران او حتى في العراق، ومن قال إنها ستحسّن شروط ترامب انتخابياً، ومن قال إنها ستعزز وضع ترامب بوجه خصومه الداخليين، وكلها مجرد فرضيات تحيط بها شكوك كبيرة، بل يرجّح أن النتائج المرتبة على الحرب ستكون عكسية في كل هذه المحاور.

أما عن انتماء هذه التحليلات لما قبل زمن الكورونا، فذلك لأن الحرب تجمّع لأربعة عناصر، أولها النيات والإرادة، وثانيها المقدرات والحسابات، وثالثها التفويض الشعبي والسياسي، ورابعها المناخ السياسي والظرف الدولي والإقليمي أو درجة القدرة على فرض المشروعيّة. وفي هذه العناصر الأربعة تغيرت الكثير من الأمور، فإن وجدت النية تزعزعت الإرادة، وإن وجدت المقدرات العسكرية تراجعت لدرجة الصفر القدرة على تخصيص الموارد المالية، وإن كان التفويض الشعبي والسياسي ضعيفاً يمكن الرهان على تعظيمه فقد صار معدوماً لدرجة الاستحالة في الرهان على التلاعب به، والمناخ السياسي الذي كان مشوشاً صار مغلق المنافذ بالكامل مع سيطرة كورونا على المشهد وتقدّمه كأولوية لا سواها على المستويات الدولية والإقليمية.

ما بعد كورونا، والأمر لن يكون قريباً، سيدخل العالم مرحلة من التشوش الاقتصادي والسياسي وضعف الموارد، وأولوية خطط النهوض الاقتصادي، وإعادة تقييم مفهوم السياسة، خصوصاً نظريات الحرب والإنفاق عليها وعلى احتمالاتها، وسيشهد العالم وليس أميركا وحدها، إعادة نقاش كل مفاهيم السياسة الداخلية والخارجية وأولوياتهما. وهذا لا يعني فقط أن أميركا وحدها مغلولة اليدين عن الحروب، بل يعني أيضاً أن القوى المناوئة لواشنطن، مهما كانت وجاهة القضية التي تحمل لواءها كقوى المقاومة، لن يكون سهلاً عليها حشد بيئتها الشعبية أو حجز المقدرات والإمكانات اللازمة لخوض حروب مشروعة، كانت تحظى بالأمس القريب بالتفويض الشعبي والسياسي.

الأسابيع المقبلة هي مخاض سريع لتتموضع القوى المنخرطة في نزاعات، سواء مَن يقف على ضفة حروب عدوانيّة، أو مَن يقاومها، في آليات مباشرة او غير مباشرة لصيغ معلنة أو ضمنية لوقف النار، والتهدئة، وخلالها ستنشط مساعي التسويات، فوق الطاولة وتحت الطاولة. فالحرب لم تعد عملة رائجة في زمن الكورونا، والأحمق مَن يبادر إليها لأنه سيخسرها بسبب تمكين خصمه من الحصول على التفويض اللازم لردعه، كما تقول أحداث اليمن هذه الأيام، والعاقل مَن يبادر للتفاوض كما يفعل رئيس الحكومة العراقية المستقيلة الدكتور عادل عبد المهدي.

Why the American Punditry Is Terrified of Russian Humanitarian Aid

Tim Kirby

April 4, 2020

It sure is a good thing that the Russians decided some ten years ago to fund a massive multi-lingual news network. It is also good that the Russian independent media pulls ten times their weight. Otherwise the fact that “poor backwards corrupt” Bearistan is now the one sending medical supplies to the U.S. would probably have been ignored.

A good example in the spin behind the story comes when we compare Fox’s and the Guardian’s take on it. They both ran very surprisingly neutral sounding headlines. “Russia sending plane filled with medical equipment to U.S. amid coronavirus pandemic“ and “Coronavirus: Russia sends plane full of medical supplies to U.S.” respectively. Although, the devil lies in the details of The Guardian’s subhead…

“Critics likely to claim Moscow will exploit goodwill gesture as public relations coup”.

This is a very odd statement to make as a news organization, for this is a vague prediction rather than news. Speculation about the future of the economy or an election cycle makes perfect sense, but trying to guess what opinions could be, makes it seem like the Guardian is trying to convince the reader of what they should be. And just who exactly are these critics and why do they matter? Movies have movie critics. Music has music critics. Does international humanitarian aid have its own form of critics? If so that would be by far the most boring content on YouTube.

The only real concrete criticism in the article came from a quoted Tweet from a member of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace…

“Hopefully someone will tell Trump that he’s playing right into a propaganda ploy”

Foreign Policy mirrored this attitude with their article…

“Beware of Bad Samaritans – China and Russia are sending medical aid to Italy and other coronavirus-stricken countries, but their motives aren’t so altruistic.”

Not surprisingly Russophobia’s shining light on a hill The Washington Post went with the headline…

“Trump called Russia’s coronavirus aid to the U.S. ‘very nice.’ Putin may use it as a propaganda coup.”

So ultimately as we sift through the Mainstream Media and their pundits’ reactions, we don’t see the old style Russia collusion narrative, but instead a new sort of warning to an ignorant orange skinned Trump about a “ploy” by Putin. After all, Russia’s willingness to help Italy deal with the Coronavirus situation in their country has allowed many impressive photos of Russian military transport and men seemingly moving about the boot-shaped peninsula freely. Other than for some sort of international military parade, it is hard to imagine Russia being able to get their “polite people” to do cooperative work deep in the historical heartland of NATO. But, the Coronavirus situation is a crisis, and any crisis can open up doors for change thought impossible just weeks before.

It must also be noted that the materials being delivered from Russia are commercial products produced within the countries that others could order/buy. The days of the Soviet Union are long gone and the supplies that Washington will receive come from Russia’s private sector but delivered on a government airplane.

Photo: This particular image of Russo-Italian cooperation quickly became iconic across the Russian internet. You can probably guess why.

Perhaps the Mainstream Media and punditry in the U.S. have become spooked by what is happening in Italy and subconsciously fear it could spread to America. This fear is probably doubled in the minds of those who are still convinced that Trump is a Manchurian candidate.

The likelihood of Russian green men being needed to “help out” on American soil is something we will probably never see in our lifetimes. And if you care about America’s national sovereignty you should hope it never happen at any point in the future. But what the punditry/geopolitics wonks really fear is that not only has Russia become an “unshuttable” countervoice in news media but Moscow is starting to take a segment of the humanitarian aid game that they will never give back.

Normally it is the exclusive unwritten right of the USA/West to be the ones to conduct Marshall Plans and send out all sorts of humanitarian aid with or without strings attached. In fact this is such a large part of U.S. foreign policy that we cannot forget that there is an entire official branch of the government that deals solely with it – USAID.

Photo: Washington decided to send humanitarian aid to Georgia right after their 2008 conflict with Russia. Is this pure philanthropy? And does Russia have the right to send aid to America’s unfavored nations?

In fact USAID is a very serious state organ and is funded to almost half of what the Russians pay for their entire military budget. The panicked punditry who are flipping out over Russian aid coming to America are probably afraid that the Russians can do more with less funding like they have done in the news media – budget-wise RT is completely outgunned and yet it is a smashing success that influences narratives even in the West.

There is one other factor that is creating a strong backlash from the mainstream punditry regarding assistance coming from Moscow – pure racism. The U.S. has used foreign aid and assistance to win favor (i.e. as propaganda “ploys”) for decades and this is perfectly reasonable. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the U.S. using its wealth to buy influence and positive views from across the world. This seems like a normal and natural thing to do that America just happens to be better at doing than pretty much anyone else. Good for America!

But, when Russians or the Chinese (or anyone Washington doesn’t like) tries to do exactly the same thing, now it is unacceptable. The logic looks something like “The Russians are sending humanitarian aid? It must be a ploy! They are inherently evil after all.” And this friends is the very definition of racism. Perhaps the geopolitics boys are just tweeting their basic primal fears that some other tribe is stomping on their territory.

What we are seeing in the Mainstream Media’s/Punditry’s reaction to Russian aid being sent to America:

They fear that Russia may shatter the virtual monopoly on foreign aid giving that the U.S./West possesses, in the same way they did in terms of news media.

The #Russiagate narrative is shifting from Trump being a Manchurian Candidate for Moscow to him being duped by Putin’s “ploys”. This leads one to believe #Russiagate may finally have died.

Automatically assuming that Russians providing foreign humanitarian aid is an evil scheme while the U.S. always does so altruistically is pure backwater hillbilly bigotry.

Fox and conservative media are less spooked and actually display tweets from the Russian side. This is another drop of evidence in the bucket, that for the near future the America Left will hate Russia and the American Right will hate China.

Russia was able to get their gesture into the public/media consciousness in the United States. Something that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

Also see: Sick West Goes Viral

IN THE PANDEMIC NATO SHOWS ITSELF TO BE AS IRRELEVANT AS EVER

Brian Cloughley March 31, 2020

In 2015 Bill Gates gave a talk titled “We’re Not Ready for the Next Epidemic” in which, in a remarkable exhibition of understated and uncannily accurate prescience, he reflected on the outbreak of Ebola virus and forecast worse to come. This amazing man told us that “As awful as this epidemic has been, the next one could be much worse. The world is simply not prepared to deal with a disease — an especially virulent flu, for example — that infects large numbers of people very quickly. Of all the things that could kill 10 million people or more, by far the most likely is an epidemic. But I believe we can prevent such a catastrophe by building a global warning and response system for epidemics. It would apply the kind of planning that goes into national defence — systems for recruiting, training, and equipping health workers; investments in new tools; etc — to the effort to prevent and contain outbreaks.”

The world did nothing, with Trump, for example, claiming on March 20 that “nobody could have ever seen something like this coming,” and we are now suffering the ravages of a terrifying virus that threatens to kill countless millions of people if such heads of state as the criminally dithering Trump continue to wield influence on our destiny.

It is likely, however, that logic and science will overcome ignorance and political point-scoring, and that Trump and his ilk will fade away while the world limps to normality after a price in lives and suffering that nobody can estimate.

But there could be positive spin-offs that could make the world a better place, and one of them is movement towards rapprochement between the US and Russia and China, both of which Washington’s finest insist are “a greater threat than terrorism”, so that the world will be spared the debilitating effects of continuing confrontation.

One of the things that should be examined is refocusing of the Nato military alliance. Bill Gates had some good ideas about what could be done to prepare for the Covid-19 pandemic, and in his talk about likely future developments went so far as to say that the best lessons from the Ebola years were to get prepared as “we do for war” and expanded on this by noting that “We have reserves that can scale us up to large numbers. NATO has a mobile unit that can deploy very rapidly. NATO does a lot of war games to check, are people well trained? Do they understand about fuel and logistics and the same radio frequencies? So they are absolutely ready to go. So those are the kinds of things we need to deal with an epidemic.”

Nato is indeed well-prepared for medical emergencies and has a logistics system ideally suited to cope with the problems now facing European and other communities. According to Nato Headquarters its medical support embraces “medical general practice, force health protection before and during deployments, medical logistics and supply, medical intelligence and the medical dimension of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) warfare. Civilian-military cooperation in the medical area is very important during disaster relief, mass casualty situations and population movements, [and] military medical support may be involved in these missions too.”

Unfortunately, Nato is taking no action whatever on the medical front, but continues to concentrate on expansion, with its latest addition being North Macedonia, a country of two million people with armed forces of 8,000 whose contribution to international security — and combating Covid-19 — is trivial. But it seems that it’s the gesture, the symbolism, that counts with Nato, while practicalities — and international medical catastrophes — mean nothing when there’s an opportunity to show the world that yet another tiny country has joined the military alliance that has been expanded specifically to menace Russia. On 27 March Nato announced that “As Allied armed forces help save lives in the battle against the virus, NATO’s ability to conduct operations has not been undermined. Our forces remain ready, and our crucial work goes on, in the air, at sea, and in all other domains”.

While individual countries of Nato have committed their armed forces nationally and most effectively in their fight against Covid-19, Nato itself has not lifted a finger and concentrates on confronting Russia whenever and wherever it can. The latest charade involved Royal Navy warships which had supposedly been “shadowing seven Russian warships in the English Channel and North Sea [for] over a week.” The fact is that the Russian ships (two frigates, three corvettes and two landing ships) had grouped in the North Sea before sailing perfectly normally through the English Channel. This non-event was covered by some of the UK media in terms verging on the hysterical. The Daily Mail reported that “The Navy said ‘every movement’ of the Russian vessels was monitored, amid fears Vladimir Putin could try to exploit the turmoil over the spread of the killer virus. Concerns have also been raised that Russia is behind a wave of disinformation about the disease seemingly designed to foster panic among the public.”

The connection between the pandemic virus, President Putin, the Russian navy and the supposed “wave of disinformation” and “turmoil” are creatures of the West’s trash media.

Nato itself announced that “NATO navies shadowed seven Russian warships in the North Sea. While Russian navy ships generally transit through the English Channel on their way between the High North and the Mediterranean Sea, on this occasion they remained in the North Sea for several days.” Britain’s Ministry of Defence declared that “The Navy has completed a concentrated operation to shadow the Russian warships after unusually high levels of activity in the English Channel and North Sea.”

This was a nothing event. Nobody explained what the “high levels of activity” involved. The entire affair was a publicity fandango by Nato and its supporters.

Nato is desperate to justify its existence and it seems that Brussels will go to extraordinary lengths to maximise its profile, aided by media outlets such as the tabloid Mail, which is owned by the billionaire Lord Rothermere, who lives in France and “saves a fortune in tax each year on account of his ‘non-dom’ status.” Trash papers/websites like the Mail have enormous readerships, thus exercising great influence on the public, and the propaganda effect is enormous. So it is not surprising that Nato has achieved much support in the UK.

But this does not alter the fact that Nato is completely irrelevant, not only in the pandemic crisis, but in much wider terms. If Brussels, in essence the sub-office in Europe of the all-embracing Pentagon, had paid attention to the brilliant Mr Gates and heeded his advice to prepare for “the next epidemic” then the world would have been grateful beyond words for Nato’s foresight, expertise and assistance. As it stands, the Nato posturing about a few Russian ships in the North Sea and the addition of a totally unnecessary and valueless thirtieth member simply demonstrates its irrelevance in this virus-stricken world.

On March 27, as international efforts continued to counter the foul pandemic, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that “North Macedonia is now part of the NATO family, a family of thirty nations and almost one billion people. A family based on the certainty that, no matter what challenges we face, we are all stronger and safer together.” He declared that “a flag-raising ceremony for North Macedonia will take place at NATO Headquarters on March 30.”

And so Nato wobbles from irrelevance to absurd triviality. It would be amusing were it not so tragic.

Sick West Goes Viral

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM SATURDAY 4 APR 20

The world is in a sick place. We’re not just talking about the escalating coronavirus pandemic, serious though that is with global deaths doubling over the past week. What is also sick is the way gestures of solidarity are being cynically twisted.

Take the arrival of Russian medical aid to the US this week. That was promptly arranged after US President Donald Trump asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call for help in coping with the coronavirus crisis. Even before the Antonov-124 cargo plane touched down at JFK airport certain US media outlets were labelling the gesture of solidarity as a “propaganda gimmick” by the Kremlin.

It was surmised that the Russian response to the US request for aid was “to push efforts for relief from sanctions” imposed by Washington. The cynical inference is that supposed Russian conniving and deceit knows no bounds in the black art of manipulation.

A Russian made Antonov An-124, one of the biggest cargo planes in the world, is pictured on May 29, 2019, on the tarmac of the airport in Brest, Western France.

© AFP 2020 / FRED TANNEAU

How about just simply acknowledging the evident fact that Russia is sending vital medical help to the US at a time of need motivating by no other sentiment than basic humanitarian compassion? The fact that Russia has been slapped with numerous US sanctions over recent years since the Ukraine crisis as well as stemming from bizarre claims of Moscow meddling in the 2016 US presidential election – only goes to show Russia’s capacity for magnanimity. Simple as that folks.

The same pathetic distortion was earlier voiced regarding Russian and Chinese aid to Italy and other European countries stricken with the deadly virus.

This week a European Union so-called media watchdog warned that Russia and China were engaged in a disinformation campaign to “undermine public trust in national health-care systems”.

There are also reports of claims by US intelligence and other officials that China is to blame for spreading the disease because it deliberately under-reported the outbreak that initially occurred in December, thereby allegedly leaving Western nations ill-prepared to withstand the pandemic.

Those claims are patently false. China had alerted the world to the seriousness of the disease as early as January when it was itself getting to grips with the uncertain public health crisis. Western nations had three months to learn from China’s experience, as well as from neighboring South Korea, where authorities clamped down on the epidemic. But Western governments for various reasons, no doubt primarily due to budgetary costs, chose instead to ignore the threat.

Trump and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson in particular showed stupendous nonchalance bordering on callous indifference. Both of them dismissed the looming Covid-19 crisis as a “passing flu”. Only last week Trump was touting the US “getting back to business by Easter”.

What is abundantly evident is that the US, Britain and other Western states are not prepared to deal with the present crisis because of their rundown public health services. That structural problem is a matter of government neglect over many years to ensure that their citizens are adequately protected in a time of crisis. And that neglect stems from deliberate policy choices, such as showering the rich with tax breaks and squandering trillions on militarism, while relentlessly cutting funds for public services.

In short, the coronavirus crisis is a reflection of a deeper crisis in the capitalist system that prevails among Western states, as American professor Richard Wolff explains. Societal human needs are always sacrificed on the altar of elite private profit.

Men wearing protective masks stand as people hike along a section of the Great Wall in Badaling in Beijing, on its first day of re-opening after the scenic site's coronavirus related closure, China, 24 March 2020.

© REUTERS / THOMAS PETER

The fact that in the US and Britain there is a paltry number of test kits for checking the disease and a dearth of vital protective equipment for medical staff is a national disgrace due to inherent political and economic reasons. That is what needs to be focused on. That is where the public anger should be directed. Why have citizens been so abjectly betrayed by their governments whose first duty of care should be to protect them?

It is absurd and contemptible for certain media and pundits to try to distract from the central issue of bankrupt democracy by seeking to disparage Russia over humanitarian aid or scapegoat China for the systemic failures of Western governments.

One senses, however, that the ploys of Russophobia and Chinaphobia have become hopelessly threadbare in credibility. In Britain, for example, normally Conservative-supporting media are asking angry questions on their front pages about government dereliction. Are we to believe that such anger is the result of Russia and China “sowing disinformation to undermine public trust”?

No, it is simply a case of citizens realizing – slowly and painfully – that their governments and society organized on capitalist priorities is a shambles unworthy of the name “democracy”.

The sickness of smearing and blaming others instead of dealing honestly with inherent problems will only embolden the public even more to exact retribution from their culpable authorities. As millions of workers and their families reap poverty and illness, one senses too that the pitchforks are being taken down from the barn roofs.

Sickness in the West is going viral, but maybe some lasting benefit may come from this crisis in the end, if societies are overhauled for the greater good of citizens.

Finian Cunningham

Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromising Integrity in Journalism (2019).

The Bigger Picture Is Hiding Behind a Virus

By Jonathan Cook

Source

Things often look the way they do because someone claiming authority tells us they look that way. If that sounds too cynical, pause for a moment and reflect on what seemed most important to you just a year ago, or even a few weeks ago. 

Then, you may have been thinking that Russian interference in western politics was a vitally important issue, and something that we needed to invest much of our emotional and political energy in countering. Or maybe a few weeks ago you felt that everything would be fine if we could just get Donald Trump out of the White House. Or maybe you imagined that Brexit was the panacea to Britain’s problems – or, conversely, that it would bring about the UK’s downfall.

Still feel that way?

After all, much as we might want to (and doubtless some will try), we can’t really blame Vladimir Putin, or Russian troll farms spending a few thousand dollars on Facebook advertising, for the coronavirus pandemic. Much as we might want to, we can’t really blame Trump for the catastrophic condition of the privatised American health care system, totally ill-equipped and unprepared for a nationwide health emergency. And as tempting as it is for some of us, we can’t really blame Europe’s soft borders and immigrants for the rising death toll in the UK. It was the global economy and cheap travel that brought the virus into Britain, and it was the Brexit-loving prime minister Boris Johnson who dithered as the epidemic took hold.

The bigger picture

Is it possible that only a few weeks ago our priorities were just a little divorced from a bigger reality? That what appeared to be the big picture was not actually big enough? That maybe we should have been thinking about even more important, pressing matters – systemic ones like the threat of a pandemic of the very kind we are currently enduring.

Because while we were all thinking about Russiagate or Trump or Brexit, there were lots of experts – even the Pentagon, it seems – warning of just such a terrible calamity and urging that preparations be made to avoid it. We are in the current mess precisely because those warnings were ignored or given no attention – not because the science was doubted, but because there was no will to do something to avert the threat.

If we reflect, it is possible to get a sense of two things. First, that our attention rarely belongs to us; it is the plaything of others. And second, that the “real world”, as it is presented to us, rarely reflects anything we might usefully be able to label as objective reality. It is a set of political, economic and social priorities that have been manufactured for us.

Agents outside our control with their own vested interests – politicians, the media, business – construct reality, much as a film-maker designs a movie. They guide our gaze in certain directions and not others.

A critical perspective 

At a moment like this of real crisis, one that overshadows all else, we have a chance – though only a chance – to recognise this truth and develop our own critical perspective. A perspective that truly belongs to us, and not to others.

Think back to the old you, the pre-coronavirus you. Were your priorities the same as your current ones?

This is not to say that the things you prioritise now – in this crisis – are necessarily any more “yours” than the old set of priorities.

If you’re watching the TV or reading newspapers – and who isn’t – you’re probably feeling scared, either for yourself or for your loved ones. All you can think about is the coronavirus. Nothing else really seems that important by comparison. And all you can hope for is the moment when the lockdowns are over and life returns to normal.

But that’s not objectively the “real world” either. Terrible as the coronavirus is, and as right as anyone is to be afraid of the threat it poses, those “agents of authority” are again directing and controlling our gaze, though at least this time those in authority include doctors and scientists. And they are guiding our attention in ways that serve their interests – for good or bad.

Endless tallies of infections and deaths, rocketing graphs, stories of young people, along with the elderly, battling for survival serve a purpose: to make sure we stick to the lockdown, that we maintain social distancing, that we don’t get complacent and spread the disease.

Here our interests – survival, preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed – coincide with those of the establishment, the “agents of authority”. We want to live and prosper, and they need to maintain order, to demonstrate their competence, to prevent dissatisfaction bubbling up into anger or open revolt.

Crowded out by detail 

But again the object of our attention is not as much ours as we may believe. While we focus on graphs, while we twitch the curtains to see if neighbours are going for a second run or whether families are out in the garden celebrating a birthday distant from an elderly parent, we are much less likely to be thinking about how well the crisis is being handled. The detail, the mundane is again crowding out the important, the big picture.

Our current fear is an enemy to our developing and maintaining a critical perspective. The more we are frightened by graphs, by deaths, the more we are likely to submit to whatever we are told will keep us safe.

Under cover of the public’s fear, and of justified concerns about the state of the economy and future employment, countries like the US are transferring huge sums of public money to the biggest corporations. Politicians controlled by big business and media owned by big business are pushing through this corporate robbery without scrutiny – and for reasons that should be self-explanatory. They know our attention is too overwhelmed by the virus for us to assess intentionally mystifying arguments about the supposed economic benefits, about yet more illusory trickle-down.

There are many other dramatic changes being introduced, almost too many and too rapidly for us to follow them properly. Bans on movementIntensified surveillanceCensorship. The transfer of draconian powers to the police, and preparations for the deployment of soldiers on streets. Detention without trialMartial law. Measures that might have terrified us when Trump was our main worry, or Brexit, or Russia, may now seem a price worth paying for a “return to normality”.

Paradoxically, a craving for the old-normal may mean we are prepared to submit to a new-normal that could permanently deny us any chance of returning to the old-normal.

The point is not just that things are far more provisional than most of us are ready to contemplate; it’s that our window on what we think of as “the real world”, as “normal”, is almost entirely manufactured for us.

Distracted by the virus 

Strange as this may sound right now, in the midst of our fear and suffering, the pandemic is not really the big picture either. Our attention is consumed by the virus, but it is, in a truly awful sense, a distraction too.

In a few more years, maybe sooner than we imagine, we will look back on the virus – with the benefit of distance and hindsight – and feel the same way about it we do now about Putin, or Trump, or Brexit.

It will feel part of our old selves, our old priorities, a small part of a much bigger picture, a clue to where we were heading, a portent we did not pay attention to when it mattered most.

The virus is one small warning – one among many – that we have been living out of sync with the natural world we share with other life. Our need to control and dominate, our need to acquire, our need for security, our need to conquer death – they have crowded out all else. We have followed those who promised quick, easy solutions, those who refused to compromise, those who conveyed authority, those who spread fear, those who hated.

If only we could redirect our gaze, if we could seize back control of our attention for a moment, we might understand that we are being plagued not just by a virus but by our fear, our hate, our hunger, our selfishness. The evidence is there in the fires, the floods and the disease, in the insects that have disappeared, in the polluted seas, in the stripping of the planet’s ancient lungs, its forests, in the melting ice-caps.

The big picture is hiding in plain sight, no longer obscured by issues like Russia and Brexit but now only by the most microscopic germ, marking the thin boundary between life and death.

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