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Sociopaths on the Left and Sociopaths on the Right Work to Break Potential US-China Alliance

By Matthew Ehret | Strategic Culture Foundation | December 6, 2019

Donald Trump is in a painful bind.

The China-bashing traitors within his own party trying to pass themselves off as American patriots have done everything imaginable to destroy the one chance the President has to save America from the policies of economic and social decay which have mis-shaped the past 50 years of world history. Before breaking under the pressure to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on November 27, Trump attempted desperately to push against the hard liners stating a day earlier:

“I stand with Hong Kong, but I also stand with President Xi. He’s a friend of mine, he’s an incredible guy. We have to stand, but I’d like to see them work it out, OK? We have to see them work it out. I stand for Hong Kong, I stand for freedom, I stand for all those things we want to do. But we are also in the process of making the largest trade deal in history.”

Of course, Trump’s desire to use protective tariffs, rebuild decayed infrastructure and industries while reversing the regime change wars abroad are good things. However, the ugly fact is that the Trans-Atlantic financial system is also set to crash, and a serious military confrontation between the US military and the Russia-China alliance is both very real and very dangerous.

This is also why the passage of the anti-Beijing Bill on November 27 is so tragic, since the desperately needed economic alliance which Trump has desired may have suffered a wound from which it cannot recover. Not only this, but those anti-China hawks pervasive across Washington are now emboldened to go even further starting with Sen. Ted Cruz’s new bill to recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty, thus undoing the 1972 ‘One China’ agreement which established Beijing as the capital of China.

Cruz’s Taiwan Symbols of Sovereignty Act aims in Cruz’s words to “peel back some of the extreme insults of the Taiwanese that are inflicted by the One-China policy protocol” including the banning of Taiwan officials from visiting US government agencies, and Taiwan students studying at West Point military academy from wearing the Taiwan flag.

Already, the US-military have vastly amplified their presence on China’s border ever since Obama’s “Pivot-to-Asia” and “Air-Sea Battle” were put into practice in 2011-2012 and which heavily relies on a militarized anti-China force in Taiwan ready to do the US’s bidding.

Many leading figures in Taiwan are stuck in a Cold War traumatized mindset established 60 years earlier, and still see their life’s mission and Taiwan’s destiny through the outdated lens of their Kuomintang forebears- as the only rightful leaders of China, destined to reconquer the mainland lost to the Communist Party in 1949. These groups would do anything to fulfill that quasi-religious sense of purpose, making them the perfect puppets for the Deep State which would be more than happy to undermine both China and America as viable sovereign nation states undoing the common cause for which both Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Sun Yatsen dedicated their lives.

Bannon, Soros and Falun Gong: Golems of the Great Game

An ugly and overlooked example of this operation includes the renewed effort by China-basher Steve Bannon who Trump rightly booted from his team in August 2017. Bannon has been a dangerous character attempting to coral Trump supporters in America and the European right into a new anti-Chinese united front while reviving the neo-con “clash of civilizations” doctrine with a vengeance.

One of the main conduits Bannon chose to unleash this assault was the Committee on Present Danger-China which he founded alongside a group of raging neocons in March 2019. Labelling China’s Belt and Road as a new empire threatening to undo America and enslave the world, Bannon’s think tank stated: “As with the Soviet Union in the past, communist China represents an existential and ideological threat to the United States and to the idea of freedom – one that requires a new American consensus regarding the policies and priorities required to defeat this threat.”

Bannon has also found himself working ever more tightly with the anti-Beijing CIA-funded cult Falun Gong which has been banned from China since 1999 and used by the CIA as a propaganda weapon against China claiming anecdotal evidence of Beijing-sponsored organ harvesting and killing of religious minorities. Though pushing itself as a meditation group, its leader Li Hongzhi is based in the USA and promotes the idea that he has magical powers that keep the forces of evil from destroying the world.

Bannon most recently produced the Falun Gong-funded film “Claws of the Red Dragon” putting him into the same boat as his left-handed mirror image George Soros who also supports the Falun Gong through Open Society Foundation’s Freedom House.  The contradiction arising from this alliance of pro-Trump sociopaths working with anti-Trump sociopaths only makes sense when you look at the anti-human game from the top down rather than the bottom up.

It is here, that we start getting a fuller picture of the nature of the false ‘left vs right’ game being played, as we look at a City of London-based think tank which Bannon leads called the Dignitas Humanitae Institute alongside 5 other highly connected figures which were recently exposed in a powerful expose by journalist Stan Ezrol who described Bannon’s four other co-patrons of this Catholic group as “Archduke Otto Von Habsburg, successor to the throne of the Holy Roman Emperor when it was dissolved; His Royal Highness Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies and Duke of Castro, a leading figure in the anti-Renaissance wing of European nobility; Field Marshal the Lord Guthrie GCB (Knight of the Grand Cross), LVO (Lieutenant of the Victorian Order), OBE (Order of the British Empire); and Father Matthew Festing.”

The forces managing this international battle are desperately afraid of the fact that western and eastern renaissance traditions may be awakened in the face of the existential crisis facing the human species today. These groups are very much aware that the essential character of any society fit to survive is rooted on certain moral principles that are found in both Christian and Confucian cultures alike, making the USA and China potentially very strong and organic allies.

When one reads the writings of such founding fathers of either great nation as Dr. Benjamin Franklin or Dr. Sun Yatsen, the common moral worldview and sense of human nature as a species made in the image of the creator endowed with inalienable rights is electric. It is thus no coincidence that Dr. Franklin saw in Confucius the key for the foundation of America and Sun Yatsen saw in America’s Constitution the key for China’s future. This is a concept which Hong Kong rioters, Taiwan militarists, Open Society ideologues and right wing Bannonites know nothing about.

Today, Xi Jinping and President Putin exemplify this common outlook wonderfully as their alliance has transformed the international rules of the game on every level, and if Trump wasn’t constrained by such bigoted agents as Cruz, Bannon or the rabid hive of leftist hacks frothing at the mouth for impeachment, then the USA would make an organic ally in this new multipolar alliance.

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

China rejects allegations of meddling in Australia affairs

Press TV – November 25, 2019

China says it has never been interested in meddling in the internal affairs of other countries amid claims that the Chinese Communist party sought to infiltrate Australia’s parliament.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily news briefing on Monday that some Australian media outlets had fabricated such allegations as China’s interference.

Some Australian politicians, organizations, and media, the official added, had “become seized with imaginary fears” on issues related to China.

“They constantly fabricate cases of so-called Chinese spies infiltrating Australia.”

“However bizarre the story, lies are still lies in the end, whatever new guise they wear.”

The allegations, first aired by local network Nine, claim that a suspected Chinese espionage ring approached a Chinese-Australian man to run as a member of parliament.

The channel report alleged that Chinese operatives offered one million dollars to Liberal party member Nick Zhao to run for federal parliament in the Melbourne suburban seat of Chisholm, now held by Hong Kong-born Liberal lawmaker Gladys Liu.

Zhao was found dead in a Melbourne hotel room after he reportedly approached the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) to discuss the plot.

On Sunday, Australia’s 60 Minutes program and affiliated newspapers said a suspected Chinese espionage ring had offered money to pay for a Melbourne luxury car dealer to run for a seat in the federal parliament.

The ASIO said it was investigating an alleged plot by China to install an agent in the parliament.

Following the report on Sunday, the ASIO director general, Mike Burgess, said the domestic spy agency “was previously aware of matters that were reported today, and has been actively investigating them.”

Describing the alleged plot as “deeply disturbing and troubling,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was determined to protect Australians from foreign interference and had bolstered laws to strengthen the powers of intelligence agencies.

However, he said he would not draw conclusions on an alleged Chinese plot.

The episode involving China and Australia comes at a time of friction between the West and Beijing.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently minced no words when he lashed out at the United States over Washington’s one-sided approach to world politics and its adversarial attitude towards Beijing.

“It (the US) has already become the world’s biggest destabilizing factor,” China’s Foreign Ministry cited the top diplomat as saying on the sidelines of a Group of 20 ministerial meeting in the city of Nagoya in southern Japan on Saturday.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 4 Comments

Western Media ‘Clearly Complicit’ as Death Toll, Violence Climb in Hong Kong Protests

Sputnik – November 15, 2019

With violence in Hong Kong progressing throughout the week, Chinese state media is warning demonstrators that they are now “at the edge of doom” – possibly signaling an upcoming deployment of the People’s Liberation Army to quell the unrest.

Though the Hong Kong Education Bureau canceled classes in the semi-autonomous city until Monday “for the sake of safety,” many students with nowhere else to go have remained on campus, and a select few at Hong Kong Polytechnic University used their free time to conduct petrol bombing practices in a dry school swimming pool.

Hours prior, tear gas was fired at black-clad demonstrators near the university’s southern entrance.

At the Chinese University of Hong Kong, a Specialized Crowd Management Vehicle, along with “minimum necessary force,” was used as violence in the area “reached a deadly level,” according to the Hong Kong Police Force. Video from the scene showed that students not only hurled bricks, but had also built combat contraptions, such as a catapult that launched petrol bombs.

“The leniency Hong Kong judges have so far demonstrated toward the offenders … has also served to encourage terrorist acts,” an editorial in the Chinese Communist Party-run Global Times said on Tuesday following increased violence earlier this week that was highlighted by demonstrators lighting a 57-year-old man on fire and the police shooting a protester.

KJ Noh, a peace activist and scholar on the geopolitics of Asia and a frequent contributor to CounterPunch and Dissident Voice, joined Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear on Thursday to discuss the escalation in violence and explain the hypocrisy he sees within Western media’s reporting of the demonstrations.

Noh argued to hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou that if these protests were happening in the US, the “fascist blackshirt tactics” of demonstrators would be labeled “hate crimes” and “terrorism.”

The peace activist pointed out that a 70-year-old man who hospital officials believe was hit in the head with a brick while cleaning protest-related rubbish lost his life late Thursday evening.

Speaking at the BRICS summit in Brasilia, Brazil, on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping voiced his support for the Hong Kong Police Force’s efforts against “violent criminals” who “seriously trampled on the rule of law and social order.”

“Stopping the violence and restoring order is Hong Kong’s most urgent task at present,” the president said, as reported by Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

Noh asserted that the “BBC and the other Western media are clearly complicit, both in supporting, encouraging and valorizing this violence” by demonstrators “while at the same time erasing the true savagery that is happening before our eyes.”

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

New START Treaty Extension is Only Way to Avoid Further Erosion of Arms Control – Moscow

Sputnik – 08.11.2019

MOSCOW – Extension of the Russian-US Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is the only way to avoid further erosion of arms control and prevent strategic stability degradation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday, accusing Washington of ignoring Moscow’s concerns.

“We are extremely concerned over the situation around the future of the New START treaty, which expires in February 2021. This is the last instrument in control over the strategic offensive arms of our two countries. We have repeatedly expressed a readiness to address issues related to its possible extension.”

Under the current circumstances, the extension of the New START treaty seems to be the only way to prevent a complete degradation of strategic stability and avoid erosion of control and limitation mechanism in the area of nuclear arms and missiles, as well as win time to continue to study and work on approaches, including on new arms and technologies, and consider methods of their control”, Ryabkov said at the Moscow Non-Proliferation Conference.

While repeatedly raising this issue, the United States has avoided any substantive discussion, the diplomat noted.

“Besides this, Washington clearly ignores our concerns related to the US’ adherence to its commitments under the treaty and refuses to clarify its plans regarding the treaty’s extension”, Ryabkov added.

The diplomat stressed that the US has also suggested that the treaty should cover Russia’s new armaments.

“This is impossible without significant adjustments to the treaty’s text”, Ryabkov emphasised.

In the meantime, China has commented on a previous offer by the US to start trilateral talks on armament issues between Washington, Moscow and Beijing, stating it has no such plans, but noting that nuclear arms might be reduced to a reasonable extent.

The New START is the last remaining arms control accord in force between Moscow and Washington after the suspension of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

The New START agreement stipulates that the number of strategic nuclear missiles launchers must be cut in half and limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550. It is set to expire in February 2021, and Washington has so far not announced plans to extend the accord.

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

China’s Development of the Russian Far East Can Improve EU-Moscow Relations

By Paul Antonopoulos | November 6, 2019

Russia’s Far East Investment and Export Support Agency investment manager Vasily Libo revealed on November 1 that China’s foreign investment in the Far East advanced development zone accounted for about 59.1% of foreign investments in the region. This massive investment into the Far East is a strategic move by China as it aims to fully exploit the riches and benefits that this region of Russia can bring.

As the Russian Far East has a huge investment potential, especially with materials, natural resources, fisheries, and tourism, China aims to take advantage of the mostly underdeveloped region. The region is not only resource rich, but is strategically located as it borders China Mongolia and North Korea, and has a maritime border with Japan.

This is undoubtedly Russia’s gateway to Asia.

Many commentators and experts have claimed the 21st Century is the “Asian Century” as China, India, Japan, Indonesia and Russia will be some of the world’s biggest economies by 2030. It is precisely for this reason that Russian President Vladimir Putin has prioritized the rapid development of the Russian Far East and has encouraged foreign investments into the region. Putin in May 2016 offered free land handouts in the Far East to Russians and naturalized citizens, demonstrating that Russia wishes to gain from Asia’s rapid economic development in the 21st century. This can be achieved from the port city of Vladivostok, close to the Chinese and North Korean borders.

The official website of the Far East and the Arctic Development Department explained that China is one of the major investment partners in the Far East and that Chinese investors have participated in 49 projects in advanced development zones and the Vladivostok. Another 40 investment projects with a total value of more than $23 billion US dollars are in the preparatory stage.

The largest projects using Chinese capital include the gold mining project involving China Gold Group, the coal project participated by China Energy, the Nakhodka Mineral Fertilizer Plant, and also the Zhongding United Animal Husbandry Co., Ltd., who are involved in milk production. According to data from the Russian Far East and Arctic Development Department, trade between the Far East and China grew by 26% in 2018, reaching $9.7 billion. In the first half of 2019 it increased by 21% to $4.9 billion. These initiatives are aimed at not only developing the sparsely populated region that has only 7 million people, in which tens of thousands are Chinese citizens who have now migrated to the region in search of opportunities and establish themselves as merchants and entrepreneurs.

For China, the region is just another economic opportunity, while for Russia it plays a critical role in economically engaging with Asia. It is for this reason that the port city of Vladivostok, located conveniently close to China and North Korea, has hosted the Eastern Economic Forum annually ever since its establishment 2015. This is in part to attract and diversify the type of foreign investment in the Far East. However, with China contributing nearly 60% of foreign investment into the region, it would suggest that it has failed in this goal so far.

Although Indian Prime Minister Modi on the eve of Vladivostok’s 5th Eastern Economic Forum this year proposed a trilateral engagement between Moscow, New Delhi and Tokyo by collectively developing the Far East, it appears that China’s economic influence in the region will not be significantly challenged in the near future.

Japan’s investments in the Far East’s economy exceeds $15 billion after many years and will continue to develop, but this is still insignificant compared to the Chinese investment. Rather, the insignificant amount of foreign investment from sources other than China demonstrates that if Moscow wishes to economically engage with Asia through the Far East, it may only be able to do so through the nexus of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Because China controls a host of ports throughout Asia, including in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and even Australia, Russia’s growing engagement with Asia through Vladivostok has to be done through the BRI network. This port network however can create a corridor that stretches from Vladivostok to Darwin, and all the emerging markets in between like the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. This has also caught the attention of Western Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron made a Facebook post in August where he said “progress on many political and economic issues is evident, for we’re trying to develop Franco-Russian relations. I’m convinced that, in this multilateral restructuring, we must develop a security and trust architecture between the European Union and Russia.” This is a curious choice of words since France has maintained hostile relations with Moscow over Russia’s reunification with Crimea, blaming Russia for the MH17 airline tragedy, and for Russia militarily defending Syria and economically supporting Venezuela.

However, Macron has proven to be a pragmatist and identifies that if the European Union wants to remain relevant in the 21st Century, it must grow its economic relations with Asia. It is for this reason that Macron also expanded on General de Gaulle’s famous phrase that Europe stretches “from Lisbon to the Urals” by saying Europe’s territory stretches to Vladivostok, the port city that is closer to Beijing, Tokyo, and even Darwin, then it is to Moscow, let alone Paris.

Coupled with the Trans-Siberian railway, products from Asia can reach Europe much faster than shipping to Europe, making the development of Vladivostok an interest for Western Europe too. Europe will probably not be enticed enough to develop the Far East, knowing full well that Asian powerhouses like China, India and Japan are already involved in the region. However, it is likely that Europe will be enticed enough to enjoy the benefits of having an open Eurasian corridor that must transverse Russia in its entirety from Vladivostok or other eastern cities to the European side of Russia.

Therefore, China’s development of the Russia’s Far East could push Europe to improving its relations with Russia. The European Union maintains a sanctions regime against Russia, mostly because of pressure from Washington. However, in recent months, there have been continued questions against the necessity to maintain sanctions against Russia from European Union officials and Members of European Parliament. It is likely that as we continue to venture into the “Asian Century,” the Russian Far East will become a thriving area. It remains to be seen whether the inevitability of the “Asian Century” will be recognized by the entirety of the European Union in the near future, but it would be in their own economic interests to recognize this reality quickly. And to recognize this would mean an eventual normalization of relations between the European Union and Russia.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

November 6, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Russia, China & India to set up alternative to SWIFT payment system to connect 3 billion people

RT | October 28, 2019

Members of the BRICS trade bloc Russia, India, and China have decided to connect their financial messaging systems to bypass the SWIFT international money transfer network.

Russia’s financial messaging system SPFS will be linked with the Chinese cross-border interbank payment system CIPS. While India does not have a domestic financial messaging system yet, it plans to combine the Central Bank of Russia’s platform with a domestic service that is in development.

The new system is expected to work as a “gateway” model when messages on payments are transcoded in accordance with a certain financial system.

According to Izvestia, the parties involved will work on a single platform, without experiencing any difficulties with transactions.

Russia began development of SPFS in 2014 amid Washington’s threats to disconnect the country from SWIFT. The first transaction on the SPFS network involving a non-bank enterprise was made in December 2017.

“We have an opportunity to connect both foreign banks and foreign legal entities to the SPFS. Today, about 400 users are participating in the system. Agreements have already been concluded with eight foreign banks and 34 legal entities,” Alla Bakina, the director of the Bank of Russia’s national payment system, was cited as saying by Vesti.

Bakina explained that traffic through the system has been growing and currently accounts for around 15 percent of all internal traffic, up from 10-11 percent last year.

The EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union) countries are currently working with the Bank of Russia on technical options for connecting to the SPFS. Iran, which has officially joined the Russia-led free-trade zone (EAEU) this month also seeks to develop a joint alternative to SWIFT. Last year, SWIFT cut off some Iranian banks from its messaging system.

SWIFT is based in Belgium, but its board includes executives from American banks with US federal law allowing the administration to act against banks and regulators across the globe.

Instead of SWIFT, a system that facilitates cross-border payments between 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries worldwide, Moscow and Tehran will use their own domestically developed financial messaging systems to conduct trade.

October 28, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 2 Comments

Western central bankers: they’re God, they trust – a 10-part series on the QE economy

By Ramin Mazaheri | The Saker Blog | October 21, 2019

It’s not that the West’s central bankers are infallible – the similarity is that they cannot be held accountable. After all – who can call God to account for His decisions?

Like God, when things succeed it is They (central bankers) who deserve all the credit – when things fail it’s because we failed to properly follow Their policies.

And like God, they don’t need regulation – it is They who give the regulations, which must be accepted on faith alone and no matter how poor the results.

Central bankers are held partially accountable by only one sector – the markets of money. If markets go down based on any of their statements the bankers immediately reverse themselves, regardless of the situation. Countless times Bernake, Yellen, Trichet, Draghi and others have made statements purposely as clear as mud and then backtracked at the first lower lip quaver from the rich. Despite this exception, neoliberalism has proven to be the worship of bankers, as they rule and not markets – central bankers, of course, subvert and control the markets in many ways.

This idolatry is not new: for two centuries “capitalism with Western characteristics” has truly been “banker rule”. The most impressive victory of neoliberalism – their ability to extend their unholy domain despite provoking the Great Recession – proves this: Central bankers in the G7 nations and the Eurozone have all been given the power to set fiscal policy, to decide social policy priorities and to render domestic elections irrelevant. Western nations are no longer democracies (and they were all, every one, merely the types of democracies which pointedly refused to evolve after 1917) but bankocracies.

The Great Recession has exposed modern capitalism to be not just banker worship but also banker governance.

This is not some wild-eyed lefty nonsense – they are deciding public policy. If we called them a “Politburo” instead of a “central bank” the West would rally up a posse of Nazis and send them to invade.

This multipart series will – as many of my previous such series have also done – use an exceptionally important political book as a jumping off point, which also allows me to humbly impart my point of view gleaned from my work as a daily hack journalist in the heart of the Eurozone. This point of view is rarely heard, yet has virtues which academics, think-tankers, specialists and authors cannot possibly contain – even we hack journalists must have some virtues, after all?

The book is 2018’s Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World by Nomi Prins, a former Wall Street executive who saw the light and is now informing on the crimes of Western imperialism-capitalism.

Quite simply, the book’s primary virtue is chronological: Prins gives a historical account of central banker doings in key areas – Mexico, China, Brazil, Japan and Europe – ever since US banker crimes set off the Great Recession in 2007. Prins gives us all the key happenings in these regions (only China is the one which is undoubtedly not capitalist-imperialist), and that is not something you can find all in one place elsewhere.

And because central bankers run the West, it is like reading the daily itinerary of a dictator – “this is how things were decided”.

What Prins does a good job in reminding us is that this has all been done to keep US banks solvent. Every policy of the US Fed is about defending this goal, and not at all about the health of the global economy; the idea that the US would be militarily aggressive and culturally overbearing yet financially benevolent is preposterous and unsupported by evidence.

But the book is essentially conventional journalism – it is a recounting of historical decisions, facts and consequences. The only radical, non-Western change Prins really suggests is to move away from the dollar. The world “class” is used less than a handful of times. Her mentions of the negative effect of central bankers’ decisions on the average person are clearly sincere but both sparing and brief. Few people get into Wall Street out of their love for poetry, after all. The book is a former Wall Streeter watching other Wall Streeters who have taken a brief detour into public service (except in China) – it is banker-centric. And this is quite useful in the 21st century.

Prins clearly and correctly views bankers as the problem, but her solution is essentially limited to hoping that China’s central bankers will re-balance the status quo, and that their stewardship will allow developing countries to coordinate cooperatively instead of exploitatively. She does not believe that the entire system needs re-ordering upon new moral and political foundations (or even upon the very different moral foundations upon which Red China rests, and which account for their different policies).

But merely changing Western-centrism to Sino-centrism, with its obvious shift away from the US greenback (and even combined with her correct approval of cryptocurrency) cannot be enough. China is not insisting that Western capitalist-imperialist nations follow Beijing, but that they reform themselves – Iran does this too, but where Beijing uses a whisper Iran uses a megaphone amplified by a megaphone. Prins needed far more moral condemnation and to propose far more actual changes to the prevailing Western system, but – as I wrote – this is essentially a book of typical Western capitalist “objective” journalism, where moralising is supposed to be left entirely to the reader.

This series is advocacy journalism. What I have done is to take Prins’ useful chronological, globally-oriented journalism on modern economic history and analyse it from a perspective very different from her own: a pro-socialist and anti-imperialist one.

It’s a great book, but lacks a modern political viewpoint

Prins gets the main point across, though, and it’s there in her title: G7/G20 central bankers have colluded since 2008 to (greenback) paper over the causes of the Great Recession.

Her book makes it undoubtedly clear how monetary policy has been coordinated to inflate and appease the 1%-dominated “markets” at different points around the world at different times. She doesn’t use these correct political terms, but she shows that 21st century Western financial policies are fundamentally neo-imperialist: the world has slaved for the benefit of the former unipolar imperium since 2008 – even though said imperium provoked the financial crisis in 2008 – because of collusion orchestrated by the imperium to inflict policies on the global economy which were mainly to save their biggest, busted banks.

There you have it: three major points upon which the past 11 years of Western economic history have been resting. This also explains why the West’s financial foundation is even shakier than it was in 2008.

You don’t need a PhD in economics to immediately grasp the correctness of these allegations: Nobody in their right mind would buy the securities of the top US banks… except for unaccountable central bankers. Central banks West-wide routinely bought $200 billion of such assets per month. Taxpayers were not enriched by buying bad investments, of course, but the busted banks in the US, Germany and France were.

The collusion Prins refers to in her title is the way the Fed used their influence to force other G20 banks to adopt the same policies. These policies are: massive money printing via QE, ZIRP (Zero interest rate policies) to persuade banks to take the money, and relaxing collateral standards in order to make sure banks got that money no matter how unsound everybody knew they were.

The problem comes down to a simple difference between capitalist and socialist views of finance: governments with policies dominated by the former give taxpayer money to private banks with no rules or accountability, whereas governments with policies dominated by the latter give this money with massive oversight, regulations and directives in order to ensure that it is used as efficiently as humanly possible. The irony for socialist-inspired nations is that they are the ones who are painted as corrupt!

Governments influenced by the former can rely on compliant, privately-owned Mainstream Media to repeatedly insist that these loans are for the benefit of all even though there is no such evidence for such a claim, nor any logical reason to expect such an outcome. Governments influenced by the latter really don’t care what the Western MSM says – their own people don’t need to be propagandized in favor of capitalist lies, and thus they mainly try to keep a low profile as regards international media.

(Cuba spends almost nothing on their media; Iran only recently started PressTV (and this service is more notable for its “different” viewpoint – “Voice of the voiceless” is the official slogan – rather than its scope and size); Xinhua seems to spend most of its time on soft news and certainly doesn’t trumpet its own beliefs. Indeed, much can be said about that difference between Iran and China: the former is nearly screaming up to Heaven what it is thinking and doing, whereas inscrutability in China is not just a cliché but their government policy, which aims to avoid friction. But I digress….)

The ultimate problem with Prins is that – like all “I’m a capitalist but not THIS capitalism” – she is ultimately a historical/economic nihilist:

Prins is like so many fine commentators on the Anglophone fringe: accumulating, exposing and railing against the crimes of capitalism, and garnering many clicks and views, but remaining fundamentally supportive of the capitalist system. They don’t believe in the only philosophical and economic alternative humans have designed to capitalism – socialism – nor do such analysts ever thread the camel through needle and become the one capitalist who finally proposes a capitalist system which is not based on exploitation, competition, aggression, etc.

There are ostensibly two main types of central bankers: the ones with more legacy power, and the ones with less but rising power, as is the case in China.”

Totally false: very real alternatives exist, and denying that – which Prins essentially does – only keeps people stuck in the political nihilism of TINA (There Is No Alternative).

The very real, very working alternative: the ‘terrorist’ central bankers of Iran & China

As I alluded to, China’s central bank is predicated on totally different foundations. And then you have Iran’s central bank: Iran’s central bank chief, Valiollah Saif, was declared a terrorist last month by Washington. Neither of these countries with socialist-inspired revolutions have banking leaders who are quotidian, interchangeable “central bankers minus legacy power”, as Prins describes.

Why was Iran’s Central Bank declared a “global terrorist”?

More flagrantly oppositional than Iran’s foreign policy are the tenets which guide Iran’s National Bank: it is totally state-owned, whereas the Fed is a consortium of private banks and set up like private corporations (something rarely understood). Iran’s National Bank is not “independent” from the government in the slightest. Iran’s central bank cannot meddle in – much less dictate – domestic policy, because that is why Iran has elections. Iran’s Central Bank, due to its fundamental independence, anti-capitalist and revolutionary nature proves that not all central bankers are the same.

Importantly, the independence of many Western central banks came after the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979: The Bank of Japan was made independent in 1998, the same year the ECB opened its doors to let greed rush in. Of course, their independence ensures that they follow policies which are for private concerns and not public ones.

Contrarily, China and Iran have central banks owned, literally, by the People. Former ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet often talked about how the ECB was a “bank of the people”, but it was classic continental hypocrisy – the Maastricht treaty, in the neoliberal & anti-socialist model in which the EU and Eurozone were created, explicitly made the ECB independent of any government. Does anyone possibly persist in believing, 10 years into (not after) the crisis, that the ECB has chosen policies which benefit the 99% and not the 1%?

There is widespread agreement in Iran that Islam tolerates capitalism – there are plenty of private banks – but Iran has agreed with socialism that the only solution is to have the biggest banks owned by the state. That is the only way “strings” can ever be applied to taxpayer money-created-loans in order to create a virtuous – and not exploitative – monetary cycle between government and business.

Such a solution is not proposed by a capitalist like Prins. She even tries to intimate that China’s Central Bank is almost equally duplicitous (though she could never get away with implying that China’s central bank was as exploitative), which is pure political nihilism and easily disproved.

The reality is that governments must issue paper money and private bankers act as the middleman to get this money to citizens… but only in capitalist countries. In socialist-inspired countries government workers serve as the middleman, and that is why they are succeeding in the 21st century. China and Vietnam are the two biggest boomers since 1980, while Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and a handful of others would be booming if they were not so terribly sanctioned.

Conclusion: There is no god but God

(That is perhaps the theological heart of Islam there, and repeated in every Salah daily prayer. Various stone idols with multiple limbs, the Christian trinity and Western central bankers all are not God because there is only one, single God and His name is God.)

Allow me to conclude with a few more indisputable truths, many of which have been painfully learned over the past decade:

  • Neoliberal central bankers are not as competent as even those much-maligned Iranian Revolutionary Shi’a mullahs. Per Prins:

With rates already near zero, or negative in some countries, there is little-to-no room to maneuver in the event of a looming crisis. After the decade-long money-conjuring policy, one with no real end in sight, one thing has become clear: central bank craftsmanship has been ineffective, at best, and has demonstrated gross negligence for the lasting consequences at worst. The assumption that these central banking policies will anytime soon evoke real growth is as preposterous as it is wrong.”

  • Once these paper props are stopped, chaos is certain to result in the Western economy. This chaos was always merely postponed via QE’s “helicopter money” (money thrown from helicopters (to the rooftops of fancy banker soirees?) in the hope that it will do good); this chaos will be even worse because 10 years of failed policies logically means that the West’s economies are far weaker than they were 10 years ago.
  • Capitalism is guaranteed to go from boom to bust, but the 2008 bust was both exceptionally bad and exceptionally driven by the US. The policy response was also exceptionally bad and also exceptionally driven by the US, and is also culturally designed to make Western society’s labor and financial laws even more exceptionally like those of the US.
  • If Western central bankers wanted to do everything they could to empower their enemy – socialist China – only then can they consider themselves as having been a success. The past decade has seen China soar so high they have broken the glass ceiling of a unipolar world. In slower historical processes, China has floated its yuan since January 2016, no longer pegging it to the dollar, and they have gotten the yuan added to the IMF Special Drawing Rights basket. QE could have changed the nature of Western societies in a good way, as it did in China, per Prins: “In China, conjured money went to building real things, whether they were needed or not, whereas for the rest of the G7, it tended to go into less tangible and more speculative uses.” The idea that China is building “unneeded” things and ghost towns is pro-capitalist propaganda, and is debunked here, but the result is clear: QE has only made China stronger but the West weaker.
  • The West has been told that the problem is developing countries not pulling their weight – China (alleged currency manipulation, their “slowdown” from incredible growth to merely fantastic growth, their trade war, etc.), Greece and other weak economies – when both the primary cause of the Great Recession and the primary cause of the continued global slowdown has been due to following the leading ideologies of the capitalist-imperialist West.
  • What the MSM has refused to shout from the rooftops is that all these trillions of QE could have gone directly into the pocket of the average person and produced comparatively spectacular economic growth on the macro level and on the micro/individual level. Half could have gone to citizens and the other half to infrastructure growth, and the money-conjuring nations would have assured their people 50 years of success and modernity. Sadly, capitalism does not believe in controlling their banks or their 1%. Instead, as everyone reading this fringe series on a fringe website written by a fringe hack journalist likely already knows, it went into the FIRE economy (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) and created massive bubbles worse than the ones a decade ago.

It comes down to a palpable feeling of social responsibility in government policy – there is none in hyper-competitive, “you have no right to a social safety net” Western neoliberal capitalism: contrarily, there is some of this rather holy spirit in Iranian Islamic Socialism, Socialism With Chinese Characteristics, Cuban-style socialism, etc.

It does not matter if this social responsibility comes from fear of God, or fear of incurring social shame or fear of el Norte, or whatever – results matter in social policy, because they mean life and death; because social policy always has and always will include very real judges dispensing very real (even if unfair) justice. Western distractions like “psychological motivation” are mainly overly-dwelled upon by existential Western urbanites who need to pay a psychologist to get them to finally accept that they are ragingly self-destructive, just like their economic principles and policies.

I will allow you to skip to the final page (of my series, not Prins’): At some point China will be asked to pick up the baton of QE collusion, because they are the only major economy which hasn’t done it yet… and they will not do it.

Why would they save the West? Not just because of their socialist ideals, nor their “Century of Humiliation”, but also because they have already been propping up the US monetarily (along with Japan) for quite some time.

But perhaps realizing that China won’t devalue its own economy via Western economic policies, the US has begun their fourth round of Quantitative easing. Their private media/propaganda outlets are ordering us “dont call it QE4”, but it’s exactly the same as before: printing new money to give to private banks with no strings attached.

QE, like God, has to be permanent.

Unlike God, there will be a reckoning for QE one day and it will be worse than in 2008.

For now, the West remains righteous neoliberal believers, and heaven rain down furious destruction on any Yellow Vester who smashes the window of a Western bank!

An 10-part series may seem like a lot, but these articles are shorter than my usual output when it comes to analytical series (Part 1 is the longest, or nearly). This series is essentially a continuation, updating and expansion of a 7-part series I wrote in autumn 2017 which also covered the failed Western policy of QE. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

***********************************

Part 1Western central bankers: they’re God, they trust – a 10-part series on the QE economy

Part 2 – How QE has radically changed the nature of the West’s financial system

Part 3 – QE paid for a foreign buying spree: developing countries hurt the most

Part 4 – Iran vs Mexico: ‘economic inflows’ versus ‘economic independence’

Part 5 – Understanding the West’s obsession with inflation

Part 6 – The new ‘beggar thy neighbor’: wars to devalue labor, not currencies

Part 7 – Blaming China for the Great Recession… to avoid emulating China’s (socialist-inspired) success

Part 8 – 1941, 1981, 2017 or today – Europe’s mess is still Germany’s fault

Part 9 – Don’t forget the real root of Brexit: fear of Eurozone economic contagion

Part 10 – Bankocracies: the real Western governance model


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China and the upcoming Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 4 Comments

Did Hong Kong police use excessive force?

CGTN | October 13, 2019

Accusations of #HongKong #police using excessive #force are without end. This video puts the issues into perspective.

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Video | | Leave a comment

Imran Khan ‘Puzzled’ Over Vast Media Coverage of Hong Kong and ‘Disregard’ of Kashmir Issue

Sputnik – October 11, 2019

Ahead of last month’s UN General Assembly (UNGA) summit, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan raised various concerns while travelling to New York, accusing world leaders of avoiding the Kashmir issue and the alleged humanitarian crisis in the Kashmir valley.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter​ to say how “puzzled” he is over the sharp contrast in international media coverage of the situations in Hong Kong and Kashmir while squarely blaming the press for not highlighting the situation in Kashmir properly.

He claimed that the media paid much attention to the ongoing Hong Kong protests while surprisingly avoided giving importance to the “dire human rights situation” in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Khan, who returned from China on Thursday, chose to highlight the issue hours ahead of the crucial second Informal Summit to be held between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China has already extended its full support to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. In a joint statement, it has said: “The Kashmir issue is a historical dispute, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.”

China has already expressed its opposition to India’s unilateral action on 5 August to strip the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state and split the region into two federally administered territories. It has said the decision scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir “complicates the situation”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Khan in his Tweet has said the communications blackout and curfew in Kashmir since 5 August is a growing humanitarian crisis.

“For over two months there has been a complete blackout of communications, thousands imprisoned, including the entire spectrum of political leadership and children, and a growing humanitarian crisis. In Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir 100 thousand Kashmiris have been killed over 30 years of fighting for their right to self-determination,” he added.

India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over Kashmir since they attained independence from British Colonial rule in 1947. While the two neighbours both claim the entire territory, they administer separate parts of Kashmir.

October 11, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment

LNG Investments Hit Record In 2019

By Irina Slav | Oilprice.com | September 26, 2019

Investments in liquefied natural gas since the start of the year have hit an all-time high of $50 billion, the International Energy Agency’s head, Fatih Birol, told an industry conference.

“This year, 2019 already broke the highest amount of (final investment decisions) for the first time ever, $50 billion,” Birol told the LNG Producer-Consumer conference in Tokyo, as quoted by Reuters.

Unsurprisingly, the driver of this growth in investments is growing demand for the fuel in Asia, with China still expected to overtake Japan as the world’s top importer of LNG.

“The biggest growth is coming from China. In the next five years, about one-third of global LNG demand will come from China alone,” Birol said. He added that in five years, China will become the largest importer of the fuel.

As for the growth in investments, there are no surprises there, either. The bulk of these has been made in the United States and Canada.

In a December 2018 report the Energy Information Administration said it expected the United States’ LNG export capacity to double by the end of this year to 8.9 billion cu ft daily. This will make the U.S. the third-largest exporter of LNG in terms of capacity after Qatar and Australia. By 2030, U.S. LNG exports are estimated to reach 17 billion cu ft daily, from some 3 billion cu ft at the start of 2019.

In Canada, there is just one LNG project under development right now—LNG Canada—but it could have a final capacity of 28 million tons of the fuel annually. The US$31-billion project is led by Shell, with minority participants including Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi, and Kogas.

Meanwhile, Qatar is stepping up its efforts to keep its number-one spot in the global LNG export race. The country has lifted a moratorium on new drilling in its North Field—the world’s largest offshore gas field Qatar shares with Iran—aiming to boost export capacity by 43 percent to 11 million tons annually.

Global LNG demand is seen at 550 million tons by 2030, according to projections by IHS Markit.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Here is How China-US Trade War Impacts Iran

By Salman Rafi Sheikh – New Eastern Outlook – 18.09.2019

In the last week of August, China added crude oil imports from the US to its tariff list for the first time in a retaliatory decision against the US decision to impose fresh tariffs on Chinese products. China imports about 6 per cent of its crude oil from the US. For an economy that increasingly relies on crude oil imports, this decision carries a lot of significance. While China is also preparing to impose high tariffs on import of US cars and the trade-war is likely to continue in the days to come, the all-important question is: why would China impose tariffs on import of oil, the life-line of its economy? According to some latest figures, China’s reliance on imported crude oil has already jumped to 70 per cent and gas moving towards 50 per cent. Most certainly, China would never have taken such a decision unless its leadership had first secured an alternative source of supply of oil. Here is where Iran and cheap/tariff free Iranian oil comes into play and the larger geo-political chessboard becomes active, allowing China to counter the US on three levels.

First, in terms of trade war, Chinese tariffs on oil imports from the US will undermine the US position as the world’s ‘new champion oil producer.’ Second, in terms of regional geo-politics, import of oil from Iran will boost Iran’s economy in the face of US sanctions and help the Iranian economy keep afloat. Needless to say, Iran is a key territorial link for China’s Belt and Road Initiative to expand beyond Asia. Third, if the US and China fail to reach a compromise on trade disputes and their bi-lateral economic and political relations remain cold, China’s continuous reliance on US oil would become a big disadvantage. Therefore, by ridding itself of the US oil, China is preparing for a long-term war with the US, or at least doesn’t see the current dispute resolving any time soon; hence, the move towards diversification through defiance.

Although China has recently decided to increase its domestic production of gas in Sichuan province, increasing from roughly 20 per cent at present to about 33 per cent of the country’s needs, this isn’t going to be enough for a huge economy that China is; hence, China’s increasing investment in Iran’s huge and sanctioned energy sector.

According to reports, China is set to invest about 280 billion dollars in Iran’s oil, gas and petrochemical sectors. This investment will in turn allow China to buy energy products from Iran at discounted prices, certainly a lot cheaper than the US oil. Although there will be a risk of the US sanctioning Chinese companies involved in buying Iranian oil, China is ready to tackle this. Entering the deal with Iran, China announced that it is not intimidated by the `secondary sanctions` the US has threatened to impose on companies and countries which continue to have economic ties with Iran.

China’s decision has massive geo-political ramifications. China can expand the use of Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline to import oil and gas from Iran and can even build new pipelines, allowing it to not only conveniently meet its energy needs but also massively reduce its reliance on a number of US-friendly oil and gas suppliers from the Middle East i.e., UAE and Saudi Arabia.

China, accordingly, is also investing about 120 billion dollars in Iran’s transport and manufacturing infrastructure. Significantly enough, this Chinese-built infrastructure in Iran, which includes high-speed rail on several routes, will provide China with additional avenues for its overland trade through Iran and Turkey to and from Europe and maritime trade through Iranian ports to the Middle East, Africa and beyond. Interestingly enough, one of the ports that China is eyeing is the Indian built port of Chabahar. Due to India’s full compliance with the US directive to bring oil imports from Iran to zero, Iran’s relations with India have gone down massively, allowing China to move in and grab the space.

China’s investment also comes with Chinese troops on the ground in Iran. Sending a clear message to the US, about 5,000 Chinese security personnel will be placed in Iran to protect Chinese projects from possible sabotage attempts by rival countries through their sponsored non-state actors, or even directly. Importantly enough, this security presence in Iran will be as big as the US has in today’s Iraq or what the Pentagon aims to leave in Afghanistan in 2020. Also, it intends to deter any US adventurism (visible in Iraq and Afghanistan), inasmuch as any major US military strike on or action against Iran would risk hitting Chinese army personnel and spiking tensions with a nuclear power that has the ability to hit the US both militarily and economically; hence, the increasing emphasis on materialising a true strategic partnership between Iran and China. A binding force will, of course, be US sanctions on Iran and its trade war with China.

Emphasising the same point, Iran’s foreign minister wrote in an Op-Ed for Global Times and said, “China has become an indispensable economic partner of Iran and the two countries are strategic partners on many fronts…’” and that both China and Iran “ favor multilateralism in global affairs but that has come under attack now more than ever.” Hitting the US directly, Zarif noted, “China and Iran support fair and balanced commercial ties around the world and we both face overseas [US] hostility by populist unilateralist bigotry.”

A deep Chinese presence in Iran and a willingness to defy the US is a big boost to the countries, including Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Pakistan, which are trying to build an ‘Asian order’ around Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and other regional connectivity programs i.e., Eurasian Economic Union and even the SCO. As the saying goes, for a new order to emerge, the old must dismantle. Chinese defiance signifies a major step towards the new order.

Salman Rafi Sheikh is a research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs.

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Rapprochement with Russia?

By Gilbert Doctorow | September 16, 2019

Starting in July and running to the present day, there have been repeated calls from mainstream media, from leading statesmen and from diplomats, in the United States and in Europe, for some kind of rapprochement with Russia to be put in place. This is remarkable given the continually escalating informational, economic, military confrontation between Russia and the US-led West over the past five years. That confrontation has emerged in two waves of anti-Russian hysteria: the first, after the daring (or brazen) Russian reunification with (or annexation of) Crimea in March 2014, and the second, with still greater momentum towards war, following the November 2016 election of Donald Trump to the presidency, which was accompanied by allegations of Russian collusion with candidate Trump and other meddling in the U.S. election processes.

Since the United States initiated the New Cold War, it is only fitting that the first steps towards its resolution are coming from there. And it is not in the least surprising that these steps were taken in the aftermath of the April 2019 release of the Mueller Report, which showed that the allegations of Russiagate were without merit or not actionable. Trump’s political enemies were compelled to move on to other issues of contention that would serve better in the next presidential campaign, which is quickly approaching.

That is the context in which I place the fairly amazing editorial of The New York Times dated 21 July 2019 entitled “What’s America’s Winning Hand if Russia Plays the China Card?” The NYT, which along with The Washington Post, had been among the most fervent disseminators of Russiagate theories and of poisonous characterizations of the “Putin regime” now was calling for… re-establishing civilized relations with Russia in order to draw the country back from its growing alliance with China.

While the editorial opens by citing a recent Defense Department report on the serious security threat to the U.S. from any Sino-Russian alliance, the fact of such alliance in formation has been obvious to anyone following the growing cooperation between these two countries in energy, aviation, military exercises, common positions taken in the UN Security Council and much more. It was also obvious for years that a major factor encouraging the Russian-Chinese embrace was the political, military and economic pressure each was receiving from the United States going back to the administration of George W. Bush and running through the Obama and Trump administrations. What is new is only the Times’ using this impending geopolitical tectonic shift to justify an extensive reversal of U.S. policy towards Russia. Now we read that “… President Trump is correct to try to establish a sounder relationship with Russia and peel it away from China.”

This is not to say that the NYT raised the white flag and abandoned its identification of Russia as a malevolent rival: “America can’t seek warmer relations with a rival power at the price of ignoring its interference in American democracy.” Nor did it abandon its identification of Russia as a “declining power” which it very inaccurately ranks as “not even in the top 10” economies, when in fact Russia is close to taking the fifth largest economy slot when purchasing power parity is applied.

Specifically, The Times called for cherry-picking topics for cooperation with Russia such as space travel, managing the Arctic and arms control “especially by extending the New Start Treaty.”

I have taken time with this editorial because the reasoning did not come from nowhere. Moreover, the same logic underlies most, though not all of the calls for rapprochement with Russia that  have punctuated the past two months on both sides of the Atlantic.

As for where it came from, I would put forward the name of Henry Kissinger, who exerted considerable influence on candidate Trump in 2016 and continued to have his ear in the early days of the new administration. There can be little doubt that Kissinger urged Trump to reach out to Putin precisely to halt the dangerous drift of Moscow towards Beijing under pressure from successive US administrations. After all Kissinger was Nixon’s man who drew China into an informal alliance with the United States, implementing the policy whereby Washington was closer to both Moscow and Beijing than either was to the other.  He did not need to wait for Pentagon white papers in 2019 to know what was afoot and what had to be done to avert the worst, which spelled the destruction of his single greatest achievement during his time in power.

At the same time, Kissinger would have been advising only selective cooperation with Moscow, not full-blown détente. This is precisely the position that he and other ‘wise men’ from the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations urged upon both candidate Barack Obama and candidate John McCain during the electoral campaign of 2008, when relations between Russia and the United States were fraught with danger relating to the August 2008 war in Georgia. Their recommendations eventually became the “re-set” policy approved by Obama and implemented by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton early in 2009.

“Re-set” achieved progress on the various select issues for cooperation chosen by the Americans, in particular on arms control, resulting in the New START that today faces expiration. However, the ‘’re-set,’’ like what the New York Times editors now call for, did not begin to address the overriding issue driving the Russian foreign and military policy which the U.S. finds so unacceptable: Russia’s exclusion from the security arrangements that the Europeans have put in place together with the U.S., an architecture that is in fact directed against them. That very issue was the subject of the single most important diplomatic initiative of Russia’s President in 2008, Dmitry Medvedev: his call for negotiations to establish new security arrangements for Europe, outside of NATO, where Russia could be an equal member. That initiative met with no response whatsoever from either the United States or its European allies, and so the days of ‘’re-set’’ were numbered.

* * * *

In the period just before, during and after the G7 meeting in Biarritz on 24—26 August 2019 there have been several widely noted remarks from senior Euro-Atlantic statesmen on the need to improve relations with Russia.

A week before the summit, French President Emanuel Macron received Vladimir Putin for talks at his summer residence on the Côte d’Azur. Macron “played up efforts ‘to tie Russia and Europe back together’ and underscored his belief that ‘Europe stretches from Lisbon to Vladivostok.’…. In his Facebook post [after the meeting] Macron said …. ’I’m convinced that, in this multilateral restructuring, we must develop a security and trust architecture between the European Union and Russia…” (The Moscow Times, 20 August 2019).

Before and during the G7, Donald Trump told reporters that Russia should be there with them. At the summit’s conclusion, he indicated he was thinking of inviting Russia to the meeting when he hosts the group in Florida next year. Implicitly this means reviving full lines of communications with Russia which were cut at the insistence of Obama to punish Moscow for its misbehavior in Ukraine.

On 27 August, the day after the G7 closed, in the course of a speech to the assembled ambassadors of France in the Elysée palace, President Macron spoke at some length about the need to ‘reconsider’ ties with Russia within the context of facing up to the major challenges of a world in which the West had lost its hegemony. He called the exclusion of Russia from the New Europe following the fall of the Berlin wall a ‘’profound mistake.” He insisted that “if we do not know how to do something useful with Russia, then we will remain with a profoundly sterile tension, we will continue to have frozen conflicts everywhere in Europe, to have a Europe which is the theater of a strategic struggle between the United States and Russia, thus to have the consequences of the Cold War on our soil.” (http://www.liberation.fr ).

Several days later, on 4 September, in an interview with the Financial Times,  Finnish Foreign Minister, Pekka Haavisto used his country’s current position as rotating president of the EU to make a similar point, saying “It’s very difficult to imagine a solution [to global crises] without Russia – or a solution that Russia is not somehow an active partner on.”

The FT deemed it worthwhile to quote him extensively:

“Mr Haavisto also said that the uncertainties created by Brexit and statements by US president

Donald Trump’s administration ‘distancing themselves from European affairs” meant EU states

needed to do more themselves to maintain stability in Europe. ‘It creates a space where

European countries need to think … ’how can we guarantee security here and what can we

do… together?’ he said.”

It went on to note: “Finland’s thinking is significant both because of its EU presidency and its unique relationship with Russia.”

Finally, in this listing of statements by public figures advocating better relations with Russia, I call attention to another article in the Financial Times, dated 15 September setting out the contents of an internal diplomatic note written by EU ambassador to Russia Dr. Markus Ederer. Dated 3 September, the addressees of the report were Ederer’s senior colleagues, the managing director for Asia Pacific at the EU’s External Action Service, and the acting managing director for Europe and Central Asia. The paper sets out arguments and options for engaging with Russia ‘taking into account the political environment, but also Russia’s natural relevance for EU-Asia connectivity.” It was drafted in preparation for the forthcoming 27 September meetings in Brussels on EU-Asia links to which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been invited and in which European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to take part.

Among the choice quotations from the report which the FT shares with its readers we find:

“[The EU] would have everything to lose by ignoring the tectonic strategic shifts in Eurasia.”

“Engaging not only with China but with Russia, selectively, is a necessary condition to be part of the game and play our cards where we have comparative advantage.”

The FT article calls attention to five areas for prospective cooperation with Russia: the Arctic, digital, the Eurasian Economic Union, regional infrastructure and the ‘Northern Dimension’ joint policy between the EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland. In these areas, the EU could ‘’engage effectively, on concrete, technical matters’’ with Russia. The paper concludes that ‘’[t]he aim would be to set up a ‘framework of exchanges with Russia on longstanding issues in the EU interest’ involving European business and commission officials.”

* * * *

Considering where we stand today in relations with Russia, at a low point more dangerous than any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, all of the aforementioned calls for improving relations made by very prominent and influential heads of state, public officials and media deserve a round of applause. The wise saying “jaw–jaw is always better than war–war” attributed to Winston Churchill applies with equal relevance today.

Looking at all the calls for better relations cited above, I believe the leitmotiv of them all is geopolitical considerations rather than fear of war, particularly nuclear war between the major world powers. Arms control is cited as only one of several objectives for cooperation. Concerns about the future alignment of those powers around the global board of governors are predominant. If humankind is said to be driven by the contradictory emotions of fear and greed, it would seem that our global leaders are presently acting in the spirit of greed rather than fear.

In his 27 August speech to the French diplomatic corps, President Macron called for an “audacious” foreign policy, effectively one that would move outside the box of conventional thinking. Correspondingly, thus far he is the only advocate of improved relations with Russia from among world leaders who had broached the subject of a comprehensive détente with Russia rather than cooperation in selective areas of greatest convenience to us. He is the only leader to have raised the question of revising the architecture of security in Europe to accommodate the fellow Europeans to the East.

Those who follow closely the political démarches of President Macron will object that his thinking about Russia has been all over the place since taking office. And I am among the first to consider him a shallow opportunist rather than the tower of intellect that he styles himself. The summit meetings he called with both Presidents Putin and Trump soon after moving into the Elysée palace had only one objective: to position himself as a prospective power broker in resolving the New Cold War in formation; they had no material content.

In the two years that have passed since he assumed power in France, Macron has been unlucky in domestic politics when his ill-considered fuel tax sparked the Gilets Jaunes movement. But he has been very lucky in foreign policy, because the dominant personality in European politics for the past decade or more, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, entered into the twilight period of her reign and the path opened for Macron to take the lead of EU politics with what he now calls an audacious roadmap.

The specific concept that emerges from Macron’s recent statements is an entente between Russia and the European Union based on shared values and creating a third force in global affairs alongside the United States and China. The alternative, which is looming absent any initiative such as Macron is proposing, will be for the EU to remain a junior partner to the USA and for Russia to be a junior partner to China while their two principals square off. Let us hope that in the days and months ahead Macron can muster the consistency of purpose and powers of successful execution to see through to conclusion what he has begun.

Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book, “Does the United States Have a Future?” was published on 12 October 2017.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2019

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment