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How to Find Something Positive in the Sea of Negativity

By Edward LOZANSKY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 11.02.2019

At this time it looks like 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is definitely doomed.

This became absolutely clear when on Feb. 1, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that the United States would suspend its obligations and intends to withdraw from that treaty in six months. President Vladimir Putin responded immediately that Russia would exercise its right for a mirror response and do the same.

It is now useless to argue who is right and who is wrong, who violated or not violated certain terms of this treaty. Let us leave this to historians or those working on their PhD theses in the area of arms control.

At the same time it would be naïve not to expect anti-Trump forces to use this situation to add fuel to the Russiagate, i.e. still illusory case of Trump – Putin collusion.

For example, the new Democratic Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel believes that Trump has played right into Vladimir Putin’s hands. Engel claims that “In addition to giving Russia free rein to build and deploy an unlimited number of intermediate-range missiles that could potentially be fitted with nuclear weapons, withdrawing from the treaty would allow Putin to deflect responsibility and blame the US for both the treaty’s collapse and any ensuing arms race.”

According to Engel just because Trump decided to exit from INF treaty “we should work with NATO allies on a strong response that includes economic and diplomatic consequences Putin cannot ignore. A starting point could involve additional sanctions on Russia.”

Well, instead of wasting time to debate this absurd logic there is a better way and it is trying to search for a glimpse of light in the kingdom of darkness.

I think if Putin and Xi would respond positively to Trump’s proposal for a meeting in a “beautiful room” something important could come out of this. Of course Beijing even earlier announced that it is not interested in talking about INF since it has nothing to do with it in the first place which is true.

However, if Putin can negotiate with Trump the inclusion in the summit agenda some other issues besides INF, for example, the new world order or the new world’s security infrastructure, both of them might convince Xi to accept the invitation.

My good friend Jim Jatras – a former State Department official in the Reagan administration and advisor to the Senate Republican National Committee – and I keep pushing the idea of such summit which we called Yalta 2 for a long time but regrettably so far with little success.

However, we believe Trump’s words during his recent State of the Union speech in Congress might blow some fresh air into our sails.

Trump can correct the mistakes of past US presidents by trying to turn Russia and China from adversaries to America’s essential partners and therefore a US-Russia-China summit could become a beginning of the road towards a secure, prosperous, and peaceful future.

Since I am on Trump’s mailing list and get everyday letters from him asking for support I think I have the moral right to give him my unsolicited advice to double down on the “beautiful” summit invitation.

In the meantime perhaps it would be a good idea to start a petition drive to urge Trump, Putin and Xi to move in this direction and share a Nobel Peace Prize on the way.

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Maduro stays put, mediation can help

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | January 31, 2019

Russia is doing the right thing by switching tack from strident ‘anti-American’ rhetoric to focus on tamping down the tensions over Venezuela. China had counseled such an approach right from the outset when the crisis erupted last week.

On day one of a looming US-Venezuelan standoff on January 24, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson called upon “all relevant parties to stay rational and cool-headed and seek a political solution to the issue of Venezuela through peaceful dialogue within the framework of the Venezuelan Constitution.”

This was alongside Beijing’s vehement support for the efforts of the Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro “to uphold national sovereignty, independence and stability” as well as China’s unequivocal opposition to “foreign interference in Venezuela’s affairs.”

It stands to reason that Moscow too began toning down its rhetoric and harmonizing with the Chinese stance. The heart of the matter is that the Venezuelan crisis holds the danger of putting a dagger into the heart of the international system in an already unstable world order full of potential for chaos, which of course is not in the interest of any of the three big powers that are ‘stakeholders’ – the US, Russia and China.

Thus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks to the media on Wednesday in Moscow offering mediation between the government and the opposition in Venezuela can be put in perspective. Lavrov acknowledged China and Russia’s role as Venezuela’s “leading partners” in the economic sphere. He then recalled the various ideas floated by different quarters – the European Union, the Caribbean Community, Uruguay and Mexico – to provide a platform for mediation. And Lavrov added, “The Non-Aligned Movement should probably have its say, all the more so that Venezuela chairs it now.” Lavrov regretted that so far all such initiatives to start a dialogue have been “bluntly rejected” by the opposition due to instigation by its “Western sponsors.”

Lavrov said Moscow is striving to “create conditions for the start of dialogue” and is discussing it with the Venezuelan government, China, Latin American countries and the EU. He underscored Russia’s readiness “to take part in the relevant international efforts in the formats that will suit the Venezuelan parties” – that is to say, “all mediation initiatives should be unbiased and their future format should be balanced”; mediation “should represent a broad range of international players that can influence the Government and the opposition”; and, “it is necessary to understand from the very start what goal is pursued by a potential mediation format.”

Significantly, Lavrov singled out Moscow’s ongoing contacts with Brussels in regard of the EU’s proposal to establish a contact group for mediation, notwithstanding the ultimatum given to Caracas “by some EU countries, including influential ones” (read UK, France, Spain and Germany). He said the picture will be clear soon as to “who is talking about what” (in Brussels), but the bottom line is that “such opportunities exist and I believe the said initiative can be rather useful if unbiased.”

Lavrov welcomed Maduro’s readiness to accept international mediation and he urged the opposition “to display a similar constructive approach, give up ultimatums and act independently, relying primarily on the interests of the Venezuelan people.”

Indeed, it is far from clear whether in the prevailing new Cold War conditions, such a denouement through mediation by an international contact group including Russia will suit Washington, which has just declared an economic war against Venezuela. From all appearances, the Trump administration is carrying out the agenda of Wall Street for a regime change in Venezuela and the project is fairly well advanced already. The intention is to cripple Venezuela’s state-owned oil company with sanctions and make Maduro submit to the US diktat. In the US estimation, Venezuela’s oil industry cannot recover without significant reinvestment, which can only come from the US or China.

On the other hand, one silver lining on the horizon is that there are no signs as yet of the Pentagon being on a war footing. In a situation such as this, typically, the US state department ought to have requested evacuation support from Pentagon by now, but no such thing has happened so far.

Suffice to say, a protracted diplomatic slugfest is beginning, involving the US and some of its allies on one side and Russia and China on the other. An ouster of Maduro, in these circumstances, seems a very remote possibility – and can even be ruled out – so long as he enjoys sufficient support among the Venezuelan military and the ruling party’s social and political base remains so very substantial as at the moment. The strong likelihood is that Maduro will weather the storm and the US-led diplomatic and economic pressure cannot dislodge him from power.

The transcript of Lavrov’s media comments is here.

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 2 Comments

De-Dollarization? Analysts on Why Beijing Won’t Slash Its US Bonds Holdings

By Ekaterina Blinova | Sputnik | 25.01.2019

Beijing will not significantly reduce its investment in US government bonds, China Securities Regulatory Commission’s Fang Xinghai told the World Economic Forum. Speaking to Sputnik, CCTV editor Tom McGregor and Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel shared their views on the hidden meaning of Fang’s statement.

“China will continue to be a savings surplus country for some time, though the saving is declining. We have to invest abroad, and the US government bond market turns out to be a good place to invest”, Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, remarked while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 22 January.

Sputnik reached out to Tom McGregor, a Beijing-based political analyst, senior editor and commentator for China’s national broadcaster CCTV, and Charles Ortel, Wall Street journalist, investor and investigative journalist, asking them to share their views on Fang’s “message” that came amid trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

What’s Behind China’s Message

“US President Donald J. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are still in the middle of a 90-day trade truce”, McGregor pointed out while commenting on the issue. “Beijing does not wish to see a return of Trump as ‘Tariff Man’, so of course, they would announce at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that Beijing would not intentionally sabotage US financial markets by slashing its US bond holdings”.

According to the Beijing-based commentator, “China believes they can score a win-win trade deal with President Trump”. And they are making much progress, McGregor highlighted.

In a July 2018 interview with Sputnik, the commentator strongly rejected speculations that Beijing may dump US government bonds in response to Trump’s tough tariff measures that the US kicked off in March 2018.

For his part, Ortel noted that Beijing is motivated by nothing less than “brutal reality”.

“There is only one debt market deep enough to absorb the massive sums that China already has, and may have, which it allocates towards ‘capital preservation’ as opposed to ‘equity speculation’ and that is the market for US government debt instruments”, the Wall Street analyst underscored.

He noted that Beijing’s choice is obvious given the fact that the US dollar “remains strong and could even appreciate against others in which liquid debt instruments are denominated”.

“In addition, an actual move by China away from US Treasury instruments would quickly be discerned and might add to building pressures towards a global markets panic”, he presumed.

According to Ortel, the People’s Republic also faces mounting internal pressures “because they have inflated a massive investment bubble in projects that likely are loss-making using strict accounting”.

“Considering the above, I imagine that China will retain massive holdings of US government debt even, and perhaps especially in a full-scale trade war, should one materialize”, the Wall Street analyst predicted.

Drifting Away From the Greenback

However, at the same time, China has clearly demonstrated its intent to move away from the greenback step by step. The People’s Republic is boosting its gold reserves and switching to national currencies in bilateral trade with Russia, Iran, Pakistan. It also signalled support for Turkey’s plan to ditch the dollar.

Furthermore, the Beijing-led One Belt and One Road project envisages the introduction of swap facilities in the countries of the region involved in the endeavour to promote the use of the yuan.

McGregor argues that one should not overestimate the apparent shift.

“The US dollar, the euro and Japanese yen are considered safe haven investments and will continue to be so”, he said. “China is forbidden to use the US dollar when conducting trade deals with North Korea and Iran due to economic trade sanctions. If the Chinese use US dollars on such occasions they stand the risk of getting arrested just like Meng Wanzhou if they make an appearance in Canada”.

He admitted that “in regards to Russia, Chinese law has encouraged Chinese companies to use the Russian rouble on financial transactions, but not sure if it’s on account of Washington-led economic sanctions imposed on Moscow”.

A Rush Out of US Treasury Debt by China Highly Unlikely

Commenting on the role of US Treasuries in China’s financial strategy, Ortel noted that “‘modern’ economists do not think clearly enough about the natural balances that emerge as nations develop their economies under a competitive global system”.

“In the early period, before citizens and nations build up substantial net worth, policies that accept devaluation arguably serve export-driven strategies”, the Wall Street analyst said. “However, nations such as China eventually become more concerned about where to invest their combined net worth for the longer term — and this is why US dollar sovereign debt becomes an attractive proposition”.

The investor elaborated that “if you are asked to develop a strategy for protecting the value of a ‘mere’ billion US dollars, you might flirt with betting against the US dollar with a portion of your holdings”. He continued that “if you, instead, are asked to protect one or more trillion dollars today and for the future, you will conclude that a substantial allocation to US Treasuries makes sense”.

“Until China proves that foreign investors are welcome inside their borders (coming and going) and reaches a trade and operating deal with the United States, our nations will be joined at the hip in the US government debt market”, Ortel emphasised, reiterating that “a rush out of US Treasury Debt by China is a low probability scenario”.

Economic Slowdown and Yuan Internationalisation

Sharing his prognosis for China’s economic growth in 2019-2020, McGregor suggested that it will continue to slowdown.

“If I had to pick a number for this year, I think 6.4 percent is a safe bet, but willing to go down to 6.2 percent”, the Beijing-based commentator predicted. “That’s pretty good, considering that China has enjoyed strong economic growth for so many years, successively”.

He pointed out, however, that “the Chinese are not panicking right now”.”Right now, China has introduced big-time tax cuts and that has already boosted Chinese consumption. I anticipate the tax cuts will really help Chinese households this year”, McGregor opined.

The journalist underscored that the expected trade deal between Washington and Beijing remain the focus of the Chinese’ attention.

“In order for Beijing to reach a trade agreement with Washington, China will be required to open up its financial markets to US banks and promote the renminbi internationalization”, McGregor explained. “Therefore, the People’s Bank of China must stop its strict restrictions on Chinese money flooding into overseas capital accounts”.

As a result, initially, the Chinese yuan may “drop in value as companies pour Chinese cash holdings out of the country and into overseas bank accounts”, he foresees. According to him, “this trend will be ongoing for 1-2 years before it settles down and some of that cash flows back into the China market”.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

Pakistan wriggles out of IMF clutches

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | January 13, 2019

The visit by Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid A Al-Falih on Saturday to Gwadar to inspect the site allocated for a multibillion oil refinery in the port city suggest that Riyadh and Islamabad are giving the final touch to reaching agreement for a Saudi Aramco Oil Refinery in Pakistan. Reports say that Saudi Arabia will be investing $10 billion in the proposed project.

Without doubt, this is a major development in the region. The Saudi-Pakistan relationship, which has been traditionally close and fraternal, is moving on to a new level of dynamism. The Saudi investment decision can be taken as signifying a vote of confidence in the Pakistani economy as well as in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s leadership. It comes on top of the $6 billion package that Saudi Arabia had pledged last year (which included help to finance crude imports) to help Pakistan tide over the current economic difficulties.

The visiting Saudi minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters in Gwadar, “Saudi Arabia wants to make Pakistan’s economic development stable through establishing an oil refinery and partnership with Pakistan in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.” This remark highlights that Saudi Arabia is openly linking up with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China has welcomed this development, but countries that oppose the CPEC such as the US and India will feel disappointed.

From the Indian perspective, the Saudi investment in Gwadar becomes a game changer for the port city, which was struggling to gain habitation and a name. Inevitably, comparisons will be drawn with Chabahar. India has an added reason to feel worried that its Ratnagiri Refinery project, which has been described as the “world’s largest refinery-cum-petrochemical project” is spluttering due to the agitation by farmers against land acquisition. The Saudi Aramco was considering an investment in the project on the same scale as in Gwadar. Will Gwadar get precedence over Ratnagiri in the Saudi priorities? That should be the question worrying India.

The Saudi energy minister disclosed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be visiting Pakistan in February and the agreement on the Gwadar project is expected to be signed at that time. Of course, it signifies that Saudi Arabia is prioritizing the relations with Pakistan. The fact remains that Saudi Arabia has come under immense pressure of isolation following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

There is much uncertainty about the dependability of the US as an ally and security provider. Riyadh is diversifying its external relations and a pivot to Asia is under way. Suffice to say, under the circumstances, a China-Pakistan-Saudi axis should not look too far-fetched. There is also some history behind it.

To be sure, Iran will be watching the surge in Saudi-Pakistani alliance with growing trepidation. The Saudi presence in Pakistan’s border region with Iran (such as Gwadar) has security implications for Tehran. Iran has been facing cross-border terrorism.

Tehran cannot but take note that Imran Khan has not shown any interest in reciprocating the overtures it made when he came to power. He is yet to visit Iran. The expectation in Tehran was that Imran Khan who often voiced the political idiom of justice and resistance as an opposition leader would have empathy with Iran. But, as it happened, Imran Khan appears to be far more comfortable as prime minister with the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Simply put, Tehran misjudged Imran Khan. But Imran Khan’s priorities today are quite understandable. He wants the Gulf Sheikhs to make big investments in the Pakistani economy. He senses that left-wing slogans have served their purpose when he was seeking power but they become liabilities today. Why should he put Pakistan as a torchbearer of resistance politics? In his interview with WaPo, he didn’t mince words in implying that he intended to follow neo-liberal economic policies.

Besides, in strategic terms, one important fallout of the Saudi bailout of Pakistani economy is that there may be no more need for Islamabad to approach the International Monetary Fund for a rescue package. The earlier indication was that Pakistan might seek a $8 billion bailout package. From present indications, the help from Saudi Arabia, China and the UAE will enable Pakistan to avoid seeking IMF assistance. (The UAE and Pakistan formalized a $6.2 billion bailout package last week in Islamabad.)

The US had openly threatened that any IMF bailout would be conditional on a close scrutiny of the CPEC projects. Ironically, it proved counterproductive. As a result, in geopolitical terms, Washington’s capacity to leverage Pakistani policies is significantly diminishing. The impact will be most keenly felt in Afghanistan.

January 13, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is Canada Huawei Arrest Attempt to Sabotage Trump Xi Talks?

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 19.12.2018

The arrest of the CFO of the China’s largest telecoms equipment company, Huawei, carries hallmarks of deep state or behind-the-scenes sabotage designed to rupture recent progress between US President Trump and China President Xi Jinping on strategic issues. Here are some elements of the case that smack of insider sabotage from the US side, with complicity of Five Eyes member Canada.

After months of trade tariff clashes between USA and China, US President Donald Trump met with China President Xi Jinping during the Buenos Aires G-20 Summit. There the two issued a positive joint statement in which it was stated that the US on January 1 will impose a “cease-fire” and freeze current tariffs at 10% on the $200 billion of Chinese imports to the US, not raising it to 25% as scheduled. For his part, Xi agreed to resume buying US soybeans and other agriculture and energy products to cut the trade imbalance. Most interesting and little-discussed in western media coverage, on the US request, Xi also agreed to list the controversial chemical Fentanyl as a Controlled Substance, meaning that people selling Fentanyl to the United States will be subject to China’s maximum penalty under the law.

As well, they agreed to immediately begin negotiations on key US issues including forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture to be completed within 90 days or face resumption of the planned 25% tariff raise.

The offer by Xi to control Fentanyl, one of the most deadly synthetic drugs that has caused tens of thousands of deaths in the USA, was notable. According to U.S. law enforcement and drug investigators, China is the main supplier of fentanyl to the United States. There criminal organizations mix the Fentanyl powder with heroin. Also according to the US DEA, China companies ship Fentanyl to key points in Canada and Mexico. From Mexico it is usually repackaged by the Mexican drug cartels and smuggled into the US.

Canada Surprise?

In other words China had agreed to open strategic issues in bilateral relations that could have major positive implications for resolving the trade conflicts and other issues not public. On December 5 in Vancouver Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO and board member of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. She is also daughter of the founder and CEO.

The arrest, reportedly on charges of illegal activities in regard to US sanctions on Iran, is unprecedented. In August the US President signed an order banning Huawei hardware in US government communications networks on grounds of national security. Huawei is at the heart of China’s vigorous effort to dominate the emerging 5G communications networks. The company is today the world’s second largest smartphone maker after Samsung and ahead of Apple and the world’s largest manufacturer of telecom network equipment with $92 billion in sales. US President Trump in August authorized a ban on the company’s hardware in US government networks, citing national security concerns – particularly in relation to the rollout of 5G networks.

That there have been growing conflicts between China and Washington over Huawei is clear. What is bizarre about the Canadian arrest of Meng, now on bail and awaiting extradition to the US, is the fact that it took place on the same day Trump and Xi in Buenos Aires were engaged in critical trade talks. According to Trump National Security adviser, John Bolton, the President was not informed beforehand of the Canadian arrest plan.

Whatever the case with many charges of hidden espionage devices embedded in Huawei technology, or Iran sanctions violations, the Canadian arrest of CFO Meng Wanzhou is having explosive consequences inside China. The CCP People’s Daily, in an editorial, wrote on December 9, “To treat a Chinese citizen like a serious criminal, to roughly trample their basic human rights, and to dishonor their dignity, how is this the method of a civilized country? How can this not make people furious?”

In an unusual step, in the midst of the fray, Donald Trump announced that if necessary to conclude positive China trade talks, he would be ready to intervene with the US Justice Department into the controversy. On December 12 in a Reuters interview Trump stated, “Whatever’s good for this country, I would do. If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

Beijing Response

So far there are more unanswered questions than answers. However, it appears that Beijing is being extremely careful not to allow the affront–ordinarily a huge face loss for the Chinese to have one of their national champion company senior people treated so–to disrupt relations with the Trump Administration. Rather than retaliate by going after the many top US executives in China, it arrested a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing on suspicion of “endangering national security,” as well as a Canadian entrepreneur with business ties to North Korea.

The connections of that former Canadian diplomat are more than interesting.

Michael Kovrig previously worked as a Canadian diplomat in Beijing, Hong Kong and the United Nations. Chinese national security police took him into custody on December 10 in Beijing. Kovrig is officially listed as “North East Asia adviser” for something called the International Crisis Group. 

The International Crisis Group is an NGO with a knack for being involved in key conflict zones such as Myanmar. The magazine Third World Quarterly in a peer-reviewed article in 2014 accused the ICG of “manufacturing” crises.

It was founded by Trump nemesis and Hillary Clinton supporter, George Soros. The Trustees of Kovrig’s employer, the International Crisis Group, include some very notable names. One is of course founder and funder, George Soros. Another trustee is a Canadian billionaire, Frank Guistra. Make a note of the name as it is likely to appear in the news in coming weeks as details emerge of FBI and other US investigations into illegal or shady dealings of the tax-exempt Clinton Foundation. Frank Giustra President & CEO, Fiore Financial Corporation, is a big donor to the Clinton Foundation where he also sits on the board.

His Giustra Foundation works with Elevate Social Businesses, formerly Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, the International Crisis Group, Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, and other partners. Guistra’s UrAsia Energy Ltd. appears in the investigation of the infamous Uranium One scandal during Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State, which some believe is the real “Russiagate” scandal. Soon we will know more as litigation in the US proceeds.

In sum, it appears that Xi Jinping has chosen a highly interesting target for retaliation in the Canadian arrest of Huawei’s CFO. To date it appears that, if it were the aim of certain dark networks in US and Canadian governments and intelligence to sabotage any constructive USA-China dialogue by the unprecedented arrest of the Huawei senior executive, it may have backfired. The next weeks will tell more.

December 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Boycott Israel and Its Friends

If you want change, begin to play hardball

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 18, 2018

In his recent article “Averting World Conflict with China” Ron Unz has come up with an intriguing suggestion for the Chinese government to turn the tables on the December 1st arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Canada. Canada detained Mrs. Meng, CFO of the world’s largest telecoms equipment manufacturer Huawei, at the request of the United States so she could be extradited to New York to face charges that she and her company had violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. The sanctions in question had been imposed unilaterally by Washington and it is widely believed that the Trump Administration is sending a signal that when the ban on purchasing oil from Iran comes into full effect in May there will be no excuses accepted from any country that is unwilling to comply with the U.S. government’s demands. Washington will exercise universal jurisdiction over those who violate its sanctions, meaning that foreign officials and heads of corporations that continue to deal with Iran can be arrested when traveling internationally and will be extradited to be tried in American courts.

There is, of course, a considerable downside to arresting a top executive of a leading foreign corporation from a country that is a major U.S. trading partner and which also, inter alia, holds a considerable portion of the U.S. national debt. Ron Unz has correctly noted the “…extraordinary gravity of this international incident and its potential for altering the course of world history.” One might add that Washington’s demands that other nations adhere to its sanctions on third countries opens up a Pandora’s box whereby no traveling executives will be considered safe from legal consequences when they do not adhere to policies being promoted by the United States. Unz cites Columbia’s Jeffrey Sachs as describing it as “almost a U.S. declaration of war on China’s business community.” If seizing and extraditing businessmen becomes the new normal those countries most affected will inevitably retaliate in kind. China has already detained two traveling Canadians to pressure Ottawa to release Mrs. Meng. Beijing is also contemplating some immediate retaliatory steps against Washington to include American companies operating in China if she is extradited to the U.S.

Ron Unz has suggested that Beijing might just want to execute a quid pro quo by pulling the licenses of Sheldon Adelson’s casinos operating in Macau, China and shutting them down, thereby eliminating a major source of his revenue. Why go after an Israeli-American casino operator rather than taking steps directly against the U.S. government? The answer is simple. Pressuring Washington is complicated as there are many players involved and unlikely to produce any positive results while Adelson is the prime mover on much of the Trump foreign policy, though one hesitates to refer to it as a policy at all.

Adelson is the world’s leading diaspora Israel-firster and he has the ear of the president of the United States, who reportedly speaks and meets with him regularly. And Adelson uses his considerable financial resources to back up his words of wisdom. He is the fifteenth wealthiest man in America with a reported fortune of $33 billion. He is the number one contributor to the GOP having given $81 million in the last cycle. Admittedly that is chump change to him, but it is more than enough to buy the money hungry and easily corruptible Republicans.

In a certain sense, Adelson has obtained control of the foreign policy of the political party that now controls both the White House and the Senate, and his mission in life is to advance Israeli interests. Among those interests is the continuous punishment of Iran, which does not threaten the United States in any way, through employment of increasingly savage sanctions and threats of violence, which brings us around to the arrest of Meng and the complicity of Adelson in that process. Adelson’s wholly owned talking head National Security Adviser John Bolton reportedly had prior knowledge of the Canadian plans and may have actually been complicit in their formulation. Adelson has also been the major force behind moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, has also convinced the Administration to stop its criticism of the illegal Israeli settlements on Arab land and has been instrumental in cutting off all humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. He prefers tough love when dealing with the Iranians, advocating dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran as a warning to the Mullahs of what more might be coming if they don’t comply with all the American and Israeli demands.

Meanwhile another Israeli, Haim Saban has performed similar work with the Democrats, contributing $5 million to their coffers, making him the top donor to the party. Saban has said that he is a “one issue guy, and my issue is Israel.”

Of course, one might reasonably argue that America’s problem with Jews who are passionately attached to Israel funding and controlling the major political parties is self-generated, that no one should be allowed to fund any political party to such an extent that one obtains control over policies. But that is an argument that will have to be directed at the Supreme Court, which permitted corporations to be treated as persons with its Citizens United ruling, allowing virtually unlimited money to flow into political PACs as a First Amendment right.

The lopsided wag-the-dog relationship with Israel is so dangerous to actual American interests in so many ways that the United States is now approaching a precipice and might soon find itself plummeting to ruin. Israel, not Russia, constantly interferes in the functioning of America’s remaining democracy. Fighting Israel’s wars and protecting it from any criticism have debased the value of being an American citizen and literally impoverished the country under a mountain of debt. The U.S. has been victimized by terrorism, much of which can be traced back to Israeli roots, and Washington is now isolated globally as the United States has become more and more like Israel, a militarized state, politically corrupt and abandoning basic liberties.

How does one right the sinking ship? For starters, the Ron Unz formula for correcting the problem with China provides an excellent roadmap. Israel and its friends do not have a grip on congress, the White House and the media because they are wonderful warm people that others find to be sympathetic. It is difficult even to imagine a scintillating conversation with a malignant toad like Sheldon Adelson. Israel’s ability to corrupt and misdirect is all based on Jewish money, a process in which Zionist oligarchs buy their way to power and access. So the solution is to hit back where it really hurts – boycott Israel and Israeli products and do the same for the companies that are the sources of income for the American Jews who are the principal supporters of the Zionist project.

The United States Congress is currently moving to make it illegal to openly advocate boycotts of Israel or even to inquire about doing so, while 25 states have already also done the same to a greater or lesser extent. Last week a speech therapist in Texas was fired from a job she had held for nine years because she refused to sign an oath affirming that she would not boycott Israel. It is a measure of Jewish power in the U.S. that American politicians choose to provide cover for Israel’s misdeeds even if it means the end of the First Amendment and free speech. But punitive steps intended to intimidate any and all critics of Israel aside, there is no reason why consumers cannot exercise judgement over what they buy and what they are supporting through their spending. If you want to visit Las Vegas, by all means go, but don’t patronize the casinos and hotels owned by Sheldon Adelson, which include The Venetian and Sands Resort.

Democratic party major donor Haim Saban, meanwhile, is a producer of Hollywood children’s entertainment, including the lucrative Power Rangers. You can stop your children from watching his violent programming and tell the network’s advertisers why you are doing so. And then there are businessmen including Bernard Marcus, who is a co-founder of Home Depot and a major supporter of Israel, and Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. No one really has to spend $1000 to go to a football game, particularly if the owner is a good friend of Benjamin Netanyahu, and if you need something for your home or are seeking entertainment, choose to spend your dollars somewhere else. Readers can do the homework for the businesses and services that they normally patronize. If outspoken advocates for Israel own the company, take your dollars elsewhere.

As it is nearly impossible in the United States to vote for a politician who is in any way critical of Israel, those who are opposed to the terrible damage that the Israelis and their domestic lobby are doing to the U.S. can instead vote with their purchasing power. It does not afford the same pleasure as “throwing the bums out,” but there will be considerable satisfaction in being able to strike back against a powerful lobby that is so hubristic and insensitive to any criticism that it has become completely tone deaf.

Apart from domestic considerations, observers have noted that Israeli treatment of the Palestinians has been worse than apartheid under South Africa yet South Africa was subjected to multiple boycotts and bans on its participation in international fora, to include even sporting competitions. It is past time to do the same to Israel, which has been shooting dead hundreds of unarmed Palestinians for months now without paying any price at all. Boycotting Israel internationally is a good start. It is non-violent and proportionate and it just might be an idea that will spread and finally bring about some payback for what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabal of war criminals have done and continue to do. As the end of 2018 approaches, it would be something to look forward to if 2019 just might turn out to be the year of the international Israel Boycott.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is <a:inform@cnionline.org” title=”mailto:inform@cnionline.org” href=”mailto:inform@cnionline.org”>inform@cnionline.org</a:inform@cnionline.org”>.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Averting World Conflict with China

The PRC Should Retaliate by Targeting Sheldon Adelson’s Chinese Casinos

By Ron Unz • Unz Review • December 13, 2018

As most readers know, I’m not a casual political blogger and I prefer producing lengthy research articles rather than chasing the headlines of current events. But there are exceptions to every rule, and the looming danger of a direct worldwide clash with China is one of them.

Consider the arrest last week of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei, the world’s largest telecom equipment manufacturer. While flying from Hong Kong to Mexico, Ms. Meng was changing planes in the Vancouver International Airport airport when she was suddenly detained by the Canadian government on an August US warrant. Although now released on $10 million bail, she still faces extradition to a New York City courtroom, where she could receive up to thirty years in federal prison for allegedly having conspired in 2010 to violate America’s unilateral economic trade sanctions against Iran.

Although our mainstream media outlets have certainly covered this important story, including front page articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, I doubt most American readers fully recognize the extraordinary gravity of this international incident and its potential for altering the course of world history. As one scholar noted, no event since America’s deliberate 1999 bombing of China’s embassy in Belgrade, which killed several Chinese diplomats, has so outraged both the Chinese government and its population. Columbia’s Jeffrey Sachs correctly described it as “almost a US declaration of war on China’s business community.”

Such a reaction is hardly surprising. With annual revenue of $100 billion, Huawei ranks as the world’s largest and most advanced telecommunications equipment manufacturer as well as China’s most internationally successful and prestigious company. Ms. Meng is not only a longtime top executive there, but also the daughter of the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, whose enormous entrepreneurial success has established him as a Chinese national hero.

Her seizure on obscure American sanction violation charges while changing planes in a Canadian airport almost amounts to a kidnapping. One journalist asked how Americans would react if China had seized Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook for violating Chinese law…especially if Sandberg were also the daughter of Steve Jobs.

Indeed, the closest analogy that comes to my mind is when Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia kidnapped the Prime Minister of Lebanon earlier this year and held him hostage. Later he more successfully did the same with hundreds of his wealthiest Saudi subjects, extorting something like $100 billion in ransom from their families before finally releasing them. Then he may have finally over-reached himself when Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident, was killed and dismembered by a bone-saw at the Saudi embassy in Turkey.

We should actually be a bit grateful to Prince Mohammed since without him America would clearly have the most insane government anywhere in the world. As it stands, we’re merely tied for first.

Since the end of the Cold War, the American government has become increasingly delusional, regarding itself as the Supreme World Hegemon. As a result, local American courts have begun enforcing gigantic financial penalties against foreign countries and their leading corporations, and I suspect that the rest of the world is tiring of this misbehavior. Perhaps such actions can still be taken against the subservient vassal states of Europe, but by most objective measures, the size of China’s real economy surpassed that of the US several years ago and is now substantially larger, while also still having a far higher rate of growth. Our totally dishonest mainstream media regularly obscures this reality, but it remains true nonetheless.

Provoking a disastrous worldwide confrontation with mighty China by seizing and imprisoning one of its leading technology executives reminds me of a comment I made several years ago about America’s behavior under the rule of its current political elites:

Or to apply a far harsher biological metaphor, consider a poor canine infected with the rabies virus. The virus may have no brain and its body-weight is probably less than one-millionth that of the host, but once it has seized control of the central nervous system, the animal, big brain and all, becomes a helpless puppet.

Once friendly Fido runs around foaming at the mouth, barking at the sky, and trying to bite all the other animals it can reach. Its friends and relatives are saddened by its plight but stay well clear, hoping to avoid infection before the inevitable happens, and poor Fido finally collapses dead in a heap.

Normal countries like China naturally assume that other countries like the US will also behave in normal ways, and their dumbfounded shock at Ms. Meng’s seizure has surely delayed their effective response. In 1959, Vice President Richard Nixon visited Moscow and famously engaged in a heated “kitchen debate” with Premier Nikita Khrushchev over the relative merits of Communism and Capitalism. What would have been the American reaction if Nixon had been immediately arrested and given a ten year Gulag sentence for “anti-Soviet agitation”?

Since a natural reaction to international hostage-taking is retaliatory international hostage-taking, the newspapers have reported that top American executives have decided to forego visits to China until the crisis is resolved. These days, General Motors sells more cars in China than in the US, and China is also the manufacturing source of nearly all our iPhones, but Tim Cook, Mary Barra, and their higher-ranking subordinates are unlikely to visit that country in the immediate future, nor would the top executives of Google, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, and the leading Hollywood studios be willing to risk indefinite imprisonment.

Canada had arrested Ms. Meng on American orders, and this morning’s newspapers reported that a former Canadian diplomat had suddenly been detained in China, presumably as a small bargaining-chip to encourage Ms. Meng’s release. But I very much doubt such measures will have much effect. Once we forgo traditional international practices and adopt the Law of the Jungle, it becomes very important to recognize the true lines of power and control, and Canada is merely acting as an American political puppet in this matter. Would threatening the puppet rather than the puppet-master be likely to have much effect?

Similarly, nearly all of America’s leading technology executives are already quite hostile to the Trump Administration, and even if it were possible, seizing one of them would hardly be likely to sway our political leadership. To a lesser extent, the same thing is true about the overwhelming majority of America’s top corporate leaders. They are not the individuals who call the shots in the current White House.

Indeed, is President Trump himself anything more than a higher-level puppet in this very dangerous affair? World peace and American national security interests are being sacrificed in order to harshly enforce the Israel Lobby’s international sanctions campaign against Iran, and we should hardly be surprised that the National Security Adviser John Bolton, one of America’s most extreme pro-Israel zealots, had personally given the green light to the arrest. Meanwhile, there are credible reports that Trump himself remained entirely unaware of these plans, and Ms. Meng was seized on the same day that he was personally meeting on trade issues with Chinese President Xi. Some have even suggested that the incident was a deliberate slap in Trump’s face.

But Bolton’s apparent involvement underscores the central role of his longtime patron, multi-billionaire casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose enormous financial influence within Republican political circles has been overwhelmingly focused on pro-Israel policy and hostility towards Iran, Israel’s regional rival.

Although it is far from clear whether the very elderly Adelson played any direct personal role in Ms. Meng’s arrest, he surely must be viewed as the central figure in fostering the political climate that produced the current situation. Perhaps he should not be described as the ultimate puppet-master behind our current clash with China, but any such political puppet-masters who do exist are certainly operating at his immediate beck and call. In very literal terms, I suspect that if Adelson placed a single phone call to the White House, the Trump Administration would order Canada to release Ms. Meng that same day.

Adelson’s fortune of $33 billion ranks him as the 15th wealthiest man in America, and the bulk of his fortune is based on his ownership of extremely lucrative gambling casinos in Macau, China. In effect, the Chinese government currently has its hands around the financial windpipe of the man ultimately responsible for Ms. Meng’s arrest and whose pro-Israel minions largely control American foreign policy. I very much doubt that they are fully aware of this enormous, untapped source of political leverage.

Over the years, Adelson’s Chinese Macau casinos have been involved in all sorts of political bribery scandals, and I suspect it would be very easy for the Chinese government to find reasonable grounds for immediately shutting them down, at least on a temporary basis, with such an action having almost no negative repercussions to Chinese society or the bulk of the Chinese population. How could the international community possibly complain about the Chinese government shutting down some of their own local gambling casinos with a long public record of official bribery and other criminal activity? At worst, other gambling casino magnates would become reluctant to invest future sums in establishing additional Chinese casinos, hardly a desperate threat to President Xi’s anti-corruption government.

I don’t have a background in finance and I haven’t bothered trying to guess the precise impact of a temporary shutdown of Adelson’s Chinese casinos, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the resulting drop in the stock price of Las Vegas Sands Corp would reduce Adelson’s personal net worth were by $5-10 billion within 24 hours, surely enough to get his immediate personal attention. Meanwhile, threats of a permanent shutdown, perhaps extending to Chinese-influenced Singapore, might lead to the near-total destruction of Adelson’s personal fortune, and similar measures could also be applied as well to the casinos of all the other fanatically pro-Israel American billionaires, who dominate the remainder of gambling in Chinese Macau.

The chain of political puppets responsible for Ms. Meng’s sudden detention is certainly a complex and murky one. But the Chinese government already possesses the absolute power of financial life-or-death over Sheldon Adelson, the man located at the very top of that chain. If the Chinese leadership recognizes that power and takes effective steps, Ms. Meng will immediately be put on a plane back home, carrying the deepest sort of international political apology. And future attacks against Huawei, ZTE, and other Chinese technology companies would not be repeated.

China actually holds a Royal Flush in this international political poker game. The only question is whether they will recognize the value of their hand. I hope they do for the sake of America and the entire world.

December 13, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Huawei CFO Detained in Canada to Face Fraud Charges in US

Sputnik – December 7, 2018

Canadian prosecutors said Friday that the US is seeking the extradition of Huawei Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou on suspicion of engaging in conspiracies to defraud multiple financial institutions and contravene US sanctions on Iran.

It isn’t clear how many charges she faces, but each one carries a maximum sentence of 30 years behind bars.

Meng, the Chinese telecommunication giant’s CFO and deputy board chair, was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday but the US Department of Justice did not announce the arrest until Wednesday. Canada’s Globe and Mail broke the story, based on law enforcement sources, that she had been arrested for violating US sanctions against Iran.

A gag order, or as it is called in Canada, a publication ban, was imposed on Meng’s case. Several media outlets have challenged the gag in court. That ban was eventually lifted by a judge in Vancouver, BBC reports.

The court is still considering whether it will grant Meng bail. The Canadian government prosecutor has told the judge Meng has substantial resources in China and is a flight risk.

The prosecutor alleged that Meng deceived American lawyers regarding the connection between the company SkyCom and Huawei. Using SkyCom as a secret proxy, Huawei sold products to Iran in breach of US sanctions between 2009 and 2014.

Huawei is the second-largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world, Sputnik News reported.

The US has introduced a number of measures to curb the flow of technology from Huawei and another telecom manufacturer, ZTE Corp, believing that the Chinese government have could used the tech for surveillance in the past year. Huawei products have also been banned by the Pentagon from being sold on US military bases.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

‘Arrogant jingoist policy’: Lavrov blasts Washington’s request to arrest Huawei CFO

RT | December 7, 2018

Washington’s “revolting” policy of stretching its own criminal laws to other countries’ territories has to end, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said as Huawei’s top executive faces extradition to the US.

Lavrov slammed America’s habit of applying its laws “extraterritorially” and dubbed it “revolting to the vast majority of normal states and normal people.”

The minister’s outrage follows the recent arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, Canada.The businesswoman, who is also the daughter of the company’s founder, was apprehended on Sunday at the request of the US, and is now facing extradition. The charges levied against Meng remain unknown, but it is believed they relate to possible violations of US sanctions placed on Iran.

Talking to reporters at an OSCE event in Milan, Lavrov said that Washington’s approach has no support in the world and alienates the US’ own partners.

Chinese diplomats protested Meng’s arrest, saying that she didn’t violate any US or Canadian laws.

The Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Geng Shuang, demanded that Washington and Ottawa clarify the reasons behind the executive’s detention and “immediately” release her. Chinese officials also said that the arrest itself “seriously harmed the human rights of the victim.”

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Russian diplomacy is winning the New Cold War

By Stephen F. Cohen | The Nation | November 22, 2018

Washington’s attempt to “isolate Putin’s Russia” has failed and had the opposite effect.

On the fifth anniversary of the onset of the Ukrainian crisis, in November 2013, and of Washington “punishing” Russia by attempting to “isolate” it in world affairs — a policy first declared by President Barack Obama in 2014 and continued ever since, primarily through economic sanctions — Cohen discusses the following points:

1. During the preceding Cold War with the Soviet Union, no attempt was made to “isolate” Russia abroad; instead, the goal was to “contain” it within its “bloc” of Eastern European nations and compete with it in what was called the “Third World.”

2. The notion of “isolating” a country of Russia’s size, Eurasian location, resources, and long history as a great power is vainglorious folly. It reflects the paucity and poverty of foreign thinking in Washington in recent decades, not the least in the US Congress and mainstream media.

3. Consider the actual results. Russia is hardly isolated. Since 2014, Moscow has arguably been the most active diplomatic capital of all great powers today. It has forged expanding military, political, or economic partnerships with, for example, China, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, India, and several other East Asian nations, even, despite EU sanctions, with several European governments. Still more, Moscow is the architect and prime convener of three important peace negotiations under way today: those involving Syria, Serbia-Kosovo, and even Afghanistan. Put differently, can any other national leaders in the 21st century match the diplomatic records of Russian President Vladimir Putin or of his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov? Certainly not former US Presidents George W. Bush or Obama or soon-to-depart German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nor any British or French leader.

4. Much is made of Putin’s purportedly malign “nationalism” in this regard. But this is an uninformed or hypocritical explanation. Consider French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently reproached Trump for his declared nationalism. The same Macron who has sought to suggest (rather implausibly) that he is a second coming of Charles de Gaulle, who himself was a great and professed nationalist leader of the 20th century, from his resistance to the Nazi occupation and founding of the Fifth Republic to his refusal to put the French military under NATO command. Nationalism, that is, by whatever name, has long been a major political force in most countries, whether in liberal enlightened or reactionary right-wing forms. Russia and the United States are not exceptions.

5. Putin’s success in restoring Russia’s role in world affairs is usually ascribed to his “aggressive” policies, but it is better understood as a realization of what is characterized in Moscow as the “philosophy of Russian foreign policy” since Putin became leader in 2000. It has three professed tenets. The first goal of foreign policy is to protect Russia’s “sovereignty,” which is said to have been lost in the disastrous post-Soviet 1990s. The second is a kind of Russia-first nationalism or patriotism: to enhance the well-being of the citizens of the Russian Federation. The third is ecumenical: to partner with any government that wants to partner with Russia. This “philosophy” is, of course, non- or un-Soviet, which was heavily ideological, at least in its professed ideology and goals.

6. Considering Washington’s inability to “isolate Russia,” considering Russia’s diplomatic successes in recent years, and considering the bitter fruits of US militarized and regime-change foreign policies (which long pre-date President Trump), perhaps it’s time for Washington to learn from Moscow rather than demand that Moscow conform to Washington’s thinking about—and behavior in—world affairs. If not, Washington is more likely to continue to isolate itself.

John Bachelor Show

Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New Body On Nuclear Disarmament?

By Vladimir KOZIN – Oriental Review – 15/11/2018

In October 2018, Senior Adjunct Fellow of the Federation of American Scientists and former safeguards inspector with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Thomas Shea, unveiled his book Verifying Nuclear Disarmament at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

A key element of his publication is the establishment of a new international control mechanism for the phased and complete elimination of nuclear weapons by all nuclear powers, which will simultaneously monitor any attempts to re-create such weapons of mass destruction again.

In his book, the 78-year-old author, who began his military career on a US aircraft carrier fitting carrier-based aircraft with nuclear bombs, builds on the provisions of the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) adopted in July 2017 by suggesting that a special implementing body be set up, which he calls the International Nuclear Disarmament Agency (INDA), to complement the IAEA should the treaty ever enter into force.

According to the US expert, the INDA would be a key body for controlling the entire process of global nuclear disarmament, it would oversee the dismantling of nuclear warheads and the equipment needed to make them at nuclear weapons facilities, and it would also ensure that nuclear weapons are never made again. The agency would operate in accordance with the principles set out in the text of the TPNW.

Thomas Shea has worked out the organisational structure of the INDA and sets this out in his book, along with the principles of its interaction with nuclear states and the IAEA.

The American researcher believes that the INDA should be headed by a Nuclear Disarmament Council made up of 24 members (one from each country party to the TPNW). The council would have nine permanent committees that would control the process of eliminating nuclear weapons, safeguard weapon-sensitive information, ensure the safety and security of nuclear weapons, and carry out inspections to verify nuclear disarmament agreements, so perform certain supranational functions, in other words. The council would also oversee the day-to-day activities of the new disarmament control agency and help implement all the provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The INDA’s research work will be provided by its staffed Research Institute and its Center for Research and Development related to the verification of nuclear disarmament.

The book’s author has developed key principles for preventing rearmament following the total elimination of nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals, including the introduction of a strict inspection regime and the international control of fissile material that could be used to make nuclear warheads. He also suggests converting highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium as soon as possible, which could then only be used in nuclear power plants.

The American researcher proposes starting the nuclear disarmament process by determining for each nuclear state the minimum amount of fissile material that could be used to made nuclear warheads. He believes it would then be possible to embark on a reciprocal exchange of information about operationally deployed nuclear warheads, which should be eliminated first, and then information about non-deployed warheads, which should be disposed of second. The next step in the nuclear disarmament process would be an agreement to reduce the amount of fissile material intended for nuclear weapons and place all remaining stocks of fissile material under special international control to rule out future rearmament.

Thomas Shea suggests that nuclear states take ten confidence-building nuclear disarmament measures. In particular, he believes that an important measure to increase the level of trust between nuclear states in the nuclear missile sphere would be their mutual commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other or not to use them at all, whether first, second, or third, and he also calls for the signing of bilateral agreements on the gradual reduction of nuclear arsenals.

Referring to the Nuclear Posture Review approved by the Trump administration in February 2018, Thomas Shea criticises Russia, China and North Korea for modernising their nuclear weapons, while ignoring the fact that the nuclear arsenals of the West’s “nuclear troika” (Great Britain, the US and France) have been upgraded, as have those of the de facto nuclear powers – Israel, India and Pakistan.

Thomas Shea expresses support for the eventual entry into force of the international TPNW. This contradicts Washington’s official negative position on general nuclear disarmament, which is the most strongly opposed to the idea being implemented in comparison with the other nuclear-armed states. It is well known that the US has already started making plans to create a completely new strategic nuclear triad over the next seven to eight years, which America’s current military and political leaders envisage will exist right up to the 2080s.

The US researcher does not mention any deadlines in his book for reaching global nuclear zero, recognising that the process for complete nuclear disarmament could take many years due to existing disagreements on the issue between nuclear-armed states. He simply notes more generally that nuclear disarmament can only take place when every legal nuclear power – which is to say the “nuclear five” represented by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – and the four de facto nuclear powers that are not party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty – namely Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan – understand that they will not be able to fully safeguard their security with nuclear weapons alone and so will switch to non-nuclear means to protect their defence interests. Thomas Shea believes that “disarmament won’t come quickly, quietly or cheaply”.

It is likely that the book will arouse some interest among those in the field as an example of the author’s development of a global mechanism for verifying complete nuclear disarmament at some point in the future. It is unlikely to become a catalyst for discussions on how to create a world completely free of nuclear weapons, however, given that the level of nuclear missile confrontation in the world has grown significantly thanks to the biggest nuclear power – America – while the threshold for using nuclear weapons has been lowered, particularly given the Pentagon’s readiness to use low-yield nuclear warheads, which is to say nuclear warheads with an explosive power of less than 5 kilotons.

The real situation in the world today shows that there are too many doctrinal and military-technical obstacles preventing the complete and irreversible elimination of all nuclear weapons. Their elimination is also made more complicated by the lack of a global consensus. There has also been no noticeable increase in the level of trust between nuclear-armed states, which all have different views on nuclear arms control and the doctrinal basis for their actual use.

It is important to bear in mind that only two-thirds of UN member states voted in favour of adopting the TPNW and it did not have the support of every nuclear power. The process of joining it is even worse: only a third of UN member states have actually signed it. The ratification process is moving along just as slowly. As of November 2018, it had been ratified by less than half of the 50 countries required.

The difficulties in implementing the TPNW are also reflected in the fact that a large proportion of the global community does not want to retain the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in its current form. This is clearly shown by the results of a UN vote. In October 2018, the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which debates disarmament and international security, unfortunately voted against a draft resolution in support of the INF Treaty. Thirty-one countries voted in favour, 54 countries abstained, and 55 countries, including the US, Great Britain, Canada, France and Ukraine, voted against.

In other words, there is a lack of a global consensus on nuclear disarmament. In fact, it is possible that America’s targeted efforts to unilaterally withdraw from the INF Treaty and its refusal to extend START III could undermine the nuclear non-proliferation regime that has existed for many decades, as well as the entire international legal system for nuclear and conventional arms control that has been established with such difficulty over a long period of time.

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mixed US Midterms Results Offer Chance for Peace Agenda With Russia, China

Sputnik – 09.11.2018

WASHINGTON – The mixed results of the US midterm congressional elections resulting in a divided Congress give President Donald Trump the chance to revive the agenda for improving relations with Russia and pull out of foreign wars that he was elected on in 2016, analysts told Sputnik.

With several results not yet in, the Democrats looked likely to have a majority of around 13 to 15 seats in the House of Representatives while the Republicans extended their Senate majority from 51 out of 100 seats to 54 or 55.

Trump Faces Post-Election Foreign Policy Opportunity

Trump now had room for maneuver on his foreign policy agenda, but it remained to be seen whether he would take advantage of it, political commentator and professor John Walsh said.

“Let us see whether Trump can now return to his original agenda of ‘getting along’ with Russia and China: That is the big question,” Walsh said.

During his 2016 presidential election campaign, Trump challenged the foreign policy consensus of US hegemony, Walsh recalled.

“If you look at his agenda, he wishes to make the United States less the imperial nation and more a normal nation albeit the number one among them. Let us see how this goes,” Walsh said.

Even if Trump was blocked from achieving this goal, he had dramatically changed the issues and terms of debate on US foreign policy in national politics, Walsh pointed out.

“Whether he succeeds or not, Trump indicates a turn away from empire not out of humility, but out of the recognition of reality. Let us hope he can carry this as far as possible whether or not he succeeds completely… The farther he goes, the farther we are from war and even nuclear Holocaust,” Walsh said.

Whether Trump ultimately succeeds or fails, his success so far signals a recognition — whether profound or dim — that the US unipolar moment is over, Walsh emphasized. “Let us praise the passage of that ugly moment,” Walsh said.

The losses suffered by Trump’s Republican Party in the midterm elections were relatively minor and fell within the normal rhythms of US politics, Walsh observed.

“There was entirely too much drama about the midterms. An incumbent in his first term always suffers a loss in the House of Representatives. That is what we saw. And as predicted long ago, the Republicans held the Senate: Surprise,” Walsh said.

Trump was likely to face more plots to undermine him from the US security and political establishments, Walsh cautioned.

“Now let us see what the Deep State will do. They can impeach him in the House but not convict him in the Senate should they choose to go that route,” he said.

Trump Likely to Be Stalled on Domestic Front

On the domestic front, the best Trump could hope for was a deadlocked Congress, California State University Chico Professor Emeritus of Political Science Beau Grosscup said.

“[In] domestic dynamics, Trump will continue to be Trump but his ‘green light’ and enabling House committee system is no longer there,” Grosscup said. “Expect Trump to play the victim (aided by the House Republican Party) when Democrats even mention investigation or impeachment.”

On the legislative front, Republican efforts to cut social security in the name of debt that had been generated due to previous enormous concessions to Wall Street would be stalled, Grosscup predicted.

Trump would also carry reduced political influence or coattails to help candidates supporting him into the 2020 presidential elections, Grosscup said.

See also:

2018 US Midterms: Why Trump Says They Were a ‘Tremendous Success’

November 9, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment