Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Russia’s Response To India’s ASAT Missile Test Wasn’t What New Delhi Expected

By Andrew Korybko | EurasiaFuture | 2019-03-31

India probably thought that Russia would enthusiastically accept its entry into the “space super league” as Prime Minister Modi described it, but Moscow is actually pretty critical of New Delhi’s anti-satellite missile tests and urged it to join a Russian-Chinese multilateral mechanism for preventing the weaponization of space, something that it curiously announced around the same time as the Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability met in Islamabad and “agreed on the need for preserving multilateralism in the field of international security and disarmament”.

Indian Boasting Meets Russian “Balancing”

India’s anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test was heralded by Prime Minister Modi as an unprecedented achievement that catapulted his nation into the “space super league” of only four countries capable of pulling off this military feat, which he thought would boost his reelection prospects ahead of the upcoming onset of general elections that will continue into May. The Indian leader also intended to send a strong signal to China and Pakistan, one that he anticipated would be positively received by his American ally and passively accepted by his country’s Old Cold War-era Russian one, but while Washington is behaving as expected, Moscow is not. In fact, it can even be said that the Russian reaction took India off guard because New Delhi has yet to recognize the new reality of its relations with Moscow, which have undergone a drastic change since the Pulwama incident that accelerated previous trends.

Russia’s 21st-century grand strategy is to “balance” between the various forces of Afro-Eurasia in order to facilitate the emerging Multipolar World Order and maintain harmony in the Eastern Hemisphere, to which end it commenced a game-changing rapprochement with former rival Pakistan that’s since seen Moscow prioritize its relations with the global pivot state in order to “make up for lost time”. Russia announced its “Return to South Asia” by offering to mediate between Pakistan and India following the recent uptick in bilateral tensions between them, but while this was warmly welcomed by Islamabad, it was shot down by New Delhi whose Ambassador to Russia was later proven to have lied about the reason for rejecting this unprecedented diplomatic outreach. It’s therefore not for naught that Russia’s response to India’s ASAT test was “diplomatically critical” and nothing like what New Delhi anticipated.

Russia’s Carefully Worded Response

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs put out a carefully worded statement about this a day after the test on 28 March, with the Google Translated version being shared below because an official English translation has yet to be published on their website at the time of writing:

“We drew attention to the anti-satellite weapon test conducted by India on March 27, as a result of which an Indian spacecraft in a low near-earth orbit was hit by a interceptor ballistic missile as a target. We note the non-directionality of this test against a specific country declared by the Indian leadership, as well as their confirmation of the immutability of the New Delhi foreign policy to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space and thereby the development of an arms race in it.

At the same time, we are compelled to state that this step of India in many respects was the result of the substantially degraded situation in the field of arms control. Russia has repeatedly warned that the destructive actions of the United States to undermine the entire architecture of international security and strategic stability, including the one-sided and unlimited expansion of the global US missile defense systems, as well as the reluctance to abandon plans for putting weapons into space, make other states think about improving their own similar potentials in the interests of strengthening their national security. We urge Washington to take a responsible position, think again and abandon the insane, and most importantly – absolutely unrealizable – the idea of ​​universal military domination. It is still possible to stop the arms race unfolding in various regions of the world. It is important to assist the responsible states in maintaining an adequate level of international security and stability.

For our part, we intend to continue taking all the necessary steps to prevent an arms race in outer space. With the support of a solid group of like-minded people, the idea of ​​developing a multilateral legally binding instrument for keeping outer space peaceful based on the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space, the use of force or the threat of force against space objects, as well as a multilateral initiative – political obligations not to place weapons first in space. We offer our Indian partners to actively join these joint efforts of the international community.”

As can be seen, Russia hinted that India is a “rogue state” whose strategically destabilizing test was influenced by the US, which sent the signal that it would be acceptable for its ally to do this at the time that it did after recently pulling out of the INF Treaty and creating its so-called “Space Force”.

The Chinese & Pakistani Angles

Another important point to pay attention to is the last one where Russia urged India to join the multilateral mechanism that it proposed together with China to prevent the weaponization of space. It’s extremely unlikely that India will do this, however, seeing as how the whole point of this test was to send an aggressive signal to its Asian Great Power neighbor and “fellow” BRICS “frenemy”, though it’s not surprising that Russia would play the part of the Eurasian “balancer” by publicly suggesting that it join that framework. Although Russia’s intentions were positive in doing so and aimed at preserving peace in the supercontinent, India’s ruling Hindutva supremacists must have taken supreme offense at its suggestion because it implies that the two rising powers are equals unlike the BJP’s implied attitude towards its neighbor, especially in the hyper-jingoist run-up to the general elections.

Furthermore, it’s extremely curious that Russia’s statement came a day before the Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability met in Islamabad and “agreed on the need for preserving multilateralism in the field of international security and disarmament”, with this outcome once again showing that Islamabad is much more responsible of a regional actor than New Delhi is which has yet to signal any interest whatsoever in Moscow’s multilateral security proposal. Both the symbolism and timing of this development shouldn’t be dismissed as a mere coincidence since it undoubtedly sent a powerful political signal that the previous state of affairs has changed in South Asia and that Russia seems to have more in common with Pakistan nowadays than it does with India, with the first-mentioned aiming to unite Eurasia through its global pivot state grand strategy while the latter is trying to divide it through the US’ “Indo-Pacific” paradigm.

Concluding Thoughts

India’s present leadership has proven itself to be remarkably short-sighted in recent weeks when it comes to advancing the country’s strategic interests, having been both humiliated by Pakistan after its reckless response to the Pulwama incident and now “diplomatically criticized” by Russia following its irresponsible election gimmick of an ASAT test. Just like the latest events accelerated previous trends involving Russia’s position towards South Asia, so too have they also done the same for India’s one towards Eurasia, with it now being evident that New Delhi is siding more closely with Washington than with its notional BRICS “partners” in Moscow and especially Beijing. Given the clear pattern that’s visibly being established, it can be expected that India will continue to engage in strategically destabilizing unilateral action at the behest of its new American patron as it moves away from its erstwhile policy of “multi-alignment” and towards a new US-influenced model instead.

March 31, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Aging China

By Tom Clifford | CounterPunch | March 29, 2019

Beijing – A country that turns grey before wealthy is the dilemma facing those who reside in the leadership compound of Zhongnanhai, just off Tiananmen Square.

A demographic timebomb is ticking and while it is primed to go off after the current leadership in China retires, it is a scenario that could undermine the economy and political stability long before the predicted detonation.

Despite the abolition of the one-child policy, in 2015, the birth rate last year was 10.94 per thousand, the lowest since 1949, when Mao Zedong took power. In 2017 it was 12.43 per thousand, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed. The number of babies born in 2018 fell by two million to 15.23 million. In some areas the birth rate plunged. In Qingdao, a city in eastern Shandong province – one of China’s most populous regions – births between January and November decreased by 21 per cent to just over 81,000 compared to the previous year.

For decades most families were limited to one child to control population growth. This policy was often enforced with abortions and harsh financial penalties. A gender imbalance occurred. About 117 boys were born for every 100 girls in 2015 as parents believed males would better secure their welfare in old age.

But the onset of an ageing society and a shrinking workforce saw this policy relaxed in 2015 when couples were allowed two children. But his has not gone to plan. Rising and stratospheric education, health and housing costs make it difficult for couples to afford even one child, let alone two. Also living arrangements mean that many couples have to look after both sets of parents, often in small apartments.

Traditionally, care for the elderly is the responsibility of the children, particularly in a Confucian society where respect for elders is part of the social fabric. Not only is it part of tradition, it is the law. There is a legal requirement for children to look after their parents’ “spiritual and physical needs”. The rising numbers of those classified in the ranks of the elderly will put an unprecedented strain on the ties that hold society together.

China’s workforce – those aged between 16 and 59 – was 897.3 million last year, a 4.7 million drop from 2017. The workforce is on track to decline by as much as 23 per cent by 2050.

China is ageing more rapidly than almost any country in recent history, according to the United Nations. A serious labor shortage will be the consequence.

There were about 222 million people aged 60 years or older as of 2015, about 17 per cent of the nation’s entire population, currently 1.3 billion people. This is expected to peak at 1.4 billion in 2029. The decline will set in immediately after that according to a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences study released in January. The population decline means less domestic consumption, and thus rapidly slowing economic growth. Spending will have to be re-evaluated by new financial strains on the government. The consequences of this will be felt far beyond China’s borders. It was Chinese spending that helped the West avoid an even steeper downturn after the 2008-9 crash.

A baby boom under Mao was followed by more than three decades of a one-child policy, formally introduced in 1979, that created distortions in the economy. True, many poor people in the countryside, where the policy was less strictly enforced, had more than one child. The wealthy, traditionally in the cities, had one. These were the inheritors. That generation of first wealth was passed down to one child instead of dividing it up among siblings. Wealth was concentrated in the coastal areas. This created enormous distortions. Disparity between rich and poor is obvious. The richest 1 percent of households own 30 percent of China’s wealth, according to a Peking University study.

China has relied on government credit to boost its economy. As the population ages, the government will need to divert a good chunk of that funding to take care of the elderly.

In one sense, it is testament to the country’s growing prosperity and new opportunities for women they prioritize careers over raising children and shun traditional roles.

This is already apparent, though not in the government, still exclusively male. But women are outperforming men in education and the workplace. More women than men attend universities, despite the gender imbalance. At least 40 percent of Chinese GDP is attributable to women – the highest proportion in the world. Some 7 in 10 Chinese mothers work outside the home and 80 percent of all female self-made billionaires, globally, are Chinese.

A society undergoing such profound change is ripe for instability.

There are sleepless nights in Zhongnanhai.

Tom Clifford is a freelance journalist and can be reached at: cliffordtomsan@hotmail.com.

March 29, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

US lacerates China’s Uighur wound

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | March 28, 2019

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Uighur Muslim activists in Washington DC, on March 27 is by no means a routine diplomatic event. Clearly, there is nothing personal about this meeting. Although Pompeo is a passionate Bible-reading Christian from the mid-west, his religiosity ends there and does not extend to the welfare of Muslims worldwide — be it Gaza or West Bank. Clearly, Washington has taken a considered step to make the ‘Uighur question’ a bilateral issue between Washington and Beijing.

According to the state department readout, Pompeo pledged “U.S. support to end China’s campaign of repression against Islam and other religions.” The readout referred to the so-called “internment camps since April 2017” in Xinjiang as well as China’s “repressive campaign”, which has made the million or more Uighurs “unable to speak for themselves, move freely, think for themselves, and undertake even the most basic practices of their religion.” The readout alleged that Chinese authorities subject Uighurs to “torture, repressive surveillance measures, homestays and forcible service of pork and alcohol.., confiscations of Qurans, and instances of sexual abuse and death.”

This is exceptionally harsh condemnation of China — and yet, no precipitate situation warranted it. And Xinjiang is a highly sensitive issue for China, too. No doubt, this is a deliberate act of provocation.

Ironically, the US-led orchestrated media campaign on the “internment camps” in Xinjiang is fizzling out. The US failed to make Xinjiang a Muslim issue complicating China’s relations with the Islamic world. The two most important beacon lights in the Muslim world — Saudi Arabia and Iran — dissociated from the western campaign on Uighur Muslims. The Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Mohammed actually commended Beijing’s national policies toward Muslim populations in Xinjiang and other provinces.

Suffice to say, the US’ game plan to repeat the cold-war era strategy to pit socialism against Islam hasn’t gained traction in the present case involving Xinjiang. The US campaign on Xinjiang suffered a severe setback when the recent foreign-minister level meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Abu Dhabi on March 1-2 decisively turned its back on Washington. The OIC resolution, inter alia, recalled the “outcomes of the visit” of the group’s delegation last month to China (including Xinjiang) and said that the OIC “commends the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens; and looks forward to further cooperation between the OIC and the People’s Republic of China.”

Yet, the OIC resolution was pretty harsh in its criticism of the present Hindu nationalist government in India:

“Expresses deep concern over the growing activity of the extremist Hindu groups against Muslims in India trying to build a Hindu temple on the ruins of the historic Babri Mosque; also expresses concern over the unnecessary delay in determining responsibility for the demolition of the Babri Mosque; and urges the Indian Government to see to it that the Babri Mosque is rebuilt on its original site”;

“Invites the (OIC) General Secretariat to continue to monitor the situation of Muslims in India and to collect further information on the challenges and difficulties they are facing, politically, socially and economically with a view to offering them the required assistance, and to report on the matter to the next ministerial conference”;

“Urges the Indian Government to take steps to improve the economic conditions of Muslims in India in line with the recommendations of the Sachar Committee Report”;

“Express deep concern over reports regarding ‘Forced Conversion’ of minorities in India by Hindu extremist elements through ‘Ghar Wapsi’ or ‘Home Coming’ campaign and education programmes aimed at obliterating practices and rituals related to other religions and distortion of historic facts”;

“Taking note with grave concern of a number of incidents in India where people have been killed, imprisoned and fined for slaughtering cows, especially on Eid- ul-Azha”.

Suffice to say, Beijing has been remarkably successful in persuading the Muslim countries that Xinjiang is not a Muslim issue. But, quite obviously, Washington won’t take ‘no’ for an answer from the Muslim world. What could be the motivations behind Pompeo bolstering the US’ sagging campaign on the Uighur issue?

There could be several calculations. US diplomacy is famous for resorting to pressure tactics to extract concessions. The US’ trade war with China is entering a climactic stage and it pays to wage a ‘psywar’ when Beijing seems to be outmanoeuvring Washington. Meanwhile, Washington watches with disquiet that China and Europe are getting along fine despite differences and are taking a lead role in ‘global governance’. Italy’s decision to join the Belt and Road and Airbus securing a $34 billion deal with China for aircraft cut into US interests. Again, China’s financial and commercial expansion in Venezuela and support for the Maduro government is complementing Russia’s role in blocking an incipient transition in that country.

However, the most crucial factor here is that Uighurs constitute a significant percentage of the ISIS cadres who fought in Syria and Iraq, lost the war and are now regrouping in other theatres. According to Syrian government estimates, anywhere up to 5,000 had fought in various militant groups in Syria. Earlier on, the US downplayed the appearance of the ISIS in Afghanistan and used to shrug off the Russian and Iranian warnings. But lately, US commanders sing a different tune. Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of US Central Command, told reporters while on a visit to Afghanistan in February, “They represent a very sophisticated and dangerous threat that we have to stay focused on.”   

In the recent past, Moscow and Tehran have informed the UN details regarding the covert operation by the US to transfer the ISIS fighters from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan. The US stonewalled at that time. But lately, the US has seized the ISIS presence in Afghanistan as an alibi for its open-ended military presence in the region even after a settlement with the Taliban.

Simply put, Pompeo’s meeting with Uighur separatist activists cannot but be seen in the backdrop of the endgame in Afghanistan and the rise of the ISIS in the Hindu Kush. Pompeo has made the Uighur question a political and diplomatic issue between the US and China at a time when militants from Xinjiang belonging to ISIS are relocating to Afghanistan from Syria and Iraq.

On the other hand, the US is also using the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan to justify its permanent military and intelligence bases in that country (which borders Xinjiang.) Ask former Afghan President Hamid Karzai to explain the paradox and he would only say that this was exactly the strategy that the US pursued with the Taliban, too — waging the war against the Taliban in a way that prolonged the war and justified continued US military presence in a highly strategic region that includes Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.

It could be that by bringing the Uighur issue to the centre stage, the US aims to erode China’s ‘soft power’ in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are of course deeply religious Muslim countries. Indeed, if the US turns Afghanistan into a frontline ISIS state against China, that will put Pakistan in a most awkward position, apart from undermining Beijing’s plans to integrate Afghanistan into the Belt and Road.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

The Military Industrial State Confronts Russia and China

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 26.02.2019

The swaggering arrogance of Washington’s Military-Industrial Complex never ceases to intrigue the rest of the world, much of which shrugs collective shoulders but has to acknowledge that the swaggering reflects the US National Defence Strategy which informs us that the military is going to concentrate on confronting Russia and China.

One of the loudest voices in the confrontation chorus is that of the Commander of US Naval Forces in Europe, Admiral James Foggo III, who knows that the noisier he is, the more money will be allocated by government to acquire more and more ships. And he is very good at being noisy. In 2016 he wrote a particularly bellicose piece for the US Naval Institute, titled ‘The Fourth Battle of the Atlantic’ in which he castigated Russia for not acknowledging that the United States is supreme. He declared that “the new Russian national security-strategy depicts the United States and NATO as threats to Russian security and accuses us of applying ‘political, economic, military, and information-related pressure’ on Russia.”

He is absolutely right about the US-NATO threat, because it has been growing for almost twenty years. As I’ve written before, after the Warsaw Pact disbanded in March 1991, NATO, although deprived of any reason to continue in existence, managed to keep going, and in 1999 added Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to its 16 members. As the BBC noted, these countries became “the first former Soviet bloc states to join Nato, taking the alliance’s borders some 400 miles towards Russia.”

With good reason Moscow wondered what on earth the US-NATO military cabal might be planning.

The New York Times recorded that the 1999 expansion was “opening a new path for the military alliance” and expressed delight that the ceremony took place in the town of Independence, Missouri, where “the emotional Secretary of State Madeleine K Albright watched the three foreign ministers sign the documents of accession, signed them herself, then held them aloft like victory trophies.” Ms Albright was born Marie Korbelová in Prague and “made no secret today of her joy as her homeland and the two other nations joined the alliance.” But neither she nor anyone else is on record as explaining what “new path” would be taken by NATO.

NATO continued to expand around Russia’s borders, inviting Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to join in 2002, which they did two years later.

There is little wonder that Russia is apprehensive about NATO’s intentions, as the muscle-flexing coalition lurches ever more eagerly towards conflict.

Further, the US itself has hundreds of military bases, spread all round the world. As noted by Nick Turse “Officially, the Department of Defense maintains 4,775 “sites,” spread across all 50 states, eight US territories, and 45 foreign countries. A total of 514 of these outposts are located overseas, according to the Pentagon’s worldwide property portfolio… But the most recent version of that portfolio, issued in early 2018 and known as the Base Structure Report, doesn’t include any mention of al-Tanf [the US Special Forces base in Syria] or for that matter, any other base in Syria. Or Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Niger. Or Tunisia. Or Cameroon. Or Somalia. Or any number of locales where such military outposts are known to exist and even, unlike in Syria, to be expanding.”

Yet Admiral Foggo insists that “an enduring objective of Russian foreign policy today is to challenge NATO and elevate Russia on the European stage once again.” Well, certainly Russia wants to be on the European stage, and it must be pointed out that it’s closer to that stage than is the US. It wants to trade with Europe — as is appreciated by the main European powers, Germany and France — and would be crazy to take action that would work against this mutually beneficial cooperation.

Unfortunately, Poland and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are verging on the paranoid about Russia’s supposed “threat” to them — but there has been no indication of any sort by Moscow that Russia has any intention of moving against them in any way. Trade with these countries is important, too, but this hasn’t stopped the paranoid quartet from indulging in a vastly expensive operation to “decouple power grids from Russia” in spite of the fact that “Russia, on which the Baltic states currently rely to balance their power flows, has never cut power or threatened to do so.”

This is all part and pattern of the anti-Russia obsession that is mounting in much of the West, and plays into the hands of such as Admiral Foggo who now, some three months after an incident in the Kerch Strait last November, announced it “irritates me to no end” that Russia detained and charged 24 Ukrainian sailors who were involved in the illegal passage of some Ukrainian vessels. Foggo’s fury lies in his belief that “They are uniformed Ukrainian sailors and officers and chiefs. They’re not criminals, and they are being charged under a criminal code.”

None of his pronouncements make sense, but on February 19 Foggo despatched the guided-missile destroyer Donald Cook to the Black Sea where it is to conduct “maritime security operations and enhance regional maritime stability, combined readiness and naval capability with our NATO allies and partners in the region.” The provocative sortie by the Donald Cook will achieve absolutely nothing other than the heightening of tension between the US and Russia, which, unfortunately, is the object of the exercise.

Which brings us to the other region where the US Navy fandangos for freedom, the South China Sea.

On that side of the world the US is represented militarily by Admiral Philip S Davidson, the Commander US Indo-Pacific Command, who doesn’t like China. On February 12 he warned the US Senate Armed Services Committee that China’s “first aircraft carrier group, centered around its refurbished Soviet-built carrier, reached initial operational capability in mid-2018” and its “first domestically-built aircraft carrier has completed four sets of sea trials since May 2018 and will likely join the PLA Navy fleet in 2019.” This is very interesting, but what he doesn’t say is that the United States has eleven fully operational carrier strike groups, one of which, headed by the carrier John C Stennis, as recorded by Stratfor, “is underway in the US 7th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region.” It is, as noted by the US Naval Institute “in the South China Sea” where it will contribute to tension by sailing through waters averred by China to be its own. Admiral Davidson announced that China was not abiding by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and naturally failed to note any amusing irony in the fact that the United States has not ratified the Convention. But in any event, in the eyes of Washington’s Military Industrial State, UN rules are valuable only when they coincide with US policy.

On January 7 the US Pacific Fleet announced that the USS McCampbell, a guided missile destroyer, had carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of China’s Paracel Islands “to challenge excessive maritime claims.” Then on February 11 they were at it again, with CNN reporting a 7th Fleet announcement that the guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance and USS Preble had sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.”

Washington has woven a pattern of military confrontation, from the Baltic and the Kerch Strait to the South China Sea, that is intended to antagonise Russia and China. It may be claimed that provocational manoeuvres in the air, at sea and on land are undertaken with the aim of altering Chinese and Russian policies, but the only consequence of these juvenile jamborees is to heighten tension, increase distrust, and pave the way to war. That’s the path envisaged by the New York Times in 1999, and it’s being followed faithfully.

One can only hope that Trump might see the beckoning light of cooperation and prosperity rather than following the path of confrontation, but he seems to be at the mercy of the Military Industrial State. If so, there can only be grave trouble ahead.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Zionist Media Cites Bin Salman’s Failure to Provoke Pakistan, India & China against Iran

Al-Manar | February 23, 2019

The Pakistani State-run TV Channel muted the broadcast of the speech delivered by the Saudi state minister for the foreign affairs Adel Al-Jubeir while he was tackling the Iranian cause, one Zionist political analyst said.

The Israeli media channels cited the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman’s failure to provoke Pakistan, India and China against Iran, adding that India rejected his offer to sell it the same amount of oil it purchases from Tehran for a lower price.

The Zionist analysts considered that Bin Salman tried to build more political partnerships and alliances in order to improve his conditions in his relation with the United States.

February 23, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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 | , , , , , | 3 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