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India’s gaffe at Samarkand

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | SEPTEMBER 20, 2022 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Samarkand on September 16 after the SCO Summit turned into a media scandal. The Western media zeroed in on six words culled out of context in the PM’s opening remarks — “today’s era is not of war”— to triumphantly proclaim that India is finally distancing itself from Russia on Ukraine issue, as the US and European leaders have been incessantly demanding.

Of course, this motivated interpretation lacks empirical evidence and is, therefore, malicious. Besides, Modi also spoke with a rare interplay of emotions by underscoring the quintessence of the Indian-Russian relationship, and his two decade-long association with Putin. 

The steamy part cooked up by the US media shows the desperation on the part of the “Collective West” to isolate Russia at a time when even western leaders have candidly admitted that the bulk of the non-western world does not identify with the western narrative on Ukraine and refuses to roll back their relationship with Russia. 

Many countries are, in fact, stepping up their cooperation with Russia —Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, for example. Curiously, even western companies are loathe to leave the highly attractive Russian market where business returns are high. A report in the Atlantic Council magazine on September 18 highlights that although something like 1,000 multinational corporations had announced that they would be leaving Russia in the wake of the western sanctions, “the unfortunate reality is that… three-quarters of the most profitable foreign multinationals remain in Russia.” Thus, statistically, while 106 western companies exited the Russian market, over 1,149 internationals still remain and simply keep silent about it. 

The giant Sakhalin-2 oil-and-natural-gas project in the Russian Far East is a celebrated case where two big energy Japanese investors Mitsui and Mitsublishi, with government support, simply refused to quit, as the Russian project supplies 9 percent of Japan’s energy needs. The G7 has no option but to exempt Japan from the purview of sanctions when it comes to Sakhalin-2! 

Again, the West continues to import fertiliser from Russia and to that end, lifts the restrictions on shipping, insurance, etc. But the restrictions continue against Russia’s exports of food grain and fertiliser to the non-Western world. Russia has now offered to distribute the fertiliser held up in European ports free of charge to the poorest countries in Africa if only the restrictions for exports are waived, but Europe would rather use it for their own needs. 

It has recently been exposed that the brouhaha about a “global food crisis” (which India too mouthed) was basically a cheap hoax perpetrated by the Biden Administration to get Russia to allow the sale of wheat held up in Ukrainian silos to the European market by American companies, who have apparently bought up Ukraine’s farm lands and control that country’s grain trade! Only a fraction of the grain shipments from Ukraine went to poor countries threatened by famine. Suffice to say, the US and the European Union pressure on India’s purchase of Russian oil was nothing but bullying.

That said, India should know that in a situation where Russia faces an existential threat to its security, it will not be deterred in firmly, decisively responding, no matter what anybody says. Will India be deterred if any foreign country gets agitated over state repression in Kashmir? Violence and bloodshed are abhorrent features of the contemporary world situation and is a painful reality all over the world. 

That is why, PM Modi’s awkward reference to war and peace in his initial remarks to Putin at Samarkand was way out of place in what turned out to be a “wonderful” meeting otherwise. There was simply no need to have characterised, at PM’s level, the Ukraine conflict as a “war”. It betrayed ignorance, since the whole world knows that what is going on is a proxy war between the US and Russia that had been simmering through the past quarter century ever since NATO began its eastward enlargement with an agenda to encircle Russia. Moscow seriously erred by tolerating the US interference in Ukraine so long until NATO finally appeared on its doorstep. It is doubtful if India would have shown such strategic patience. 

Against such a complex backdrop, the litmus test of India’s “neutrality” will, perhaps, lie in EAM Jaishankar at least speaking up on the NATO’s eastward expansion, the US stoking the fire of conflict by pumping tens of billions of dollars worth weaponry into Ukraine, and the Biden Administration’s diabolical role in undermining nascent peace moves between Moscow and Kiev. 

If Turkey’s Recep Erdogan and Hungary’s Viktor Orban can speak up, although NATO leaders, why can’t India’s EAM? But, never mind, there is no question of Jaishankar even remotely embarrassing Biden. 

From the Kremlin readout, Putin actually acknowledged right at the outset of the conversation with Modi that Russia and India are not on the same page on Ukraine. To be sure, Putin must be knowing that India’s behaviour is guided by its narrowly defined self-interests and conditioned by an itch to do cherrypicking. But Moscow has never been and will never be a demanding partner. Mutual interest and mutual respect are the hall marks of Russian diplomacy toward India. Despite own reservations over what India was doing by splitting Pakistan into two halves, when the crunch time came in 1971, Moscow not only stood by India but even despatched its warships and submarines to guard Indian waters from a potential US military intervention against India. It is, therefore, all the more reason for us to be discreet. 

Ironically, India must be one of the few countries that benefits out of the Ukraine conflict. Aside oil, coal and what not at low prices, paradoxically, even the rupee has taken baby steps to commence its indeterminate journey to become a “world currency.” No patriotic Indian will criticise the Modi government for such sophistry. However, confusion arises when morality is injected into all this with a contrived attitude of indignation, when there is really no need for it. 

The meeting in Samarkand took place in the context of the SCO’s annual summit. The summit was not about Ukraine but about the profound issues that have surfaced in its wake that will shape the contours of the world order. This SCO summit was special, as it took place amid large-scale geopolitical changes, triggering a rapid and irrevocable transformation of the entire complex of international ties, relations, policies, economy, when a new model based on the real multi-polarity and dialogue is being built. 

Everyone understands that the SCO, which represents half the world’s population, will help forge the new world order. Unlike the case with NATO, where all decisions are made in Washington and imposed on America’s “allies”, there is no Pied Piper in the SCO tent. Modi could easily have played a meaningful role at the summit instead of meandering his way aimlessly through the pandemic, supply chains, et al, at a juncture when such profound issues were being discussed by his peer group in Samarkand. 

The word “multipolarity,” which was on everyone’s mind in Samarkand, didn’t even figure in Modi’s speech at Samarkand. Whoever drafted the speech must have done it with an eye on Washington. Therefore, don’t blame the US media. They happened to notice all these aberrations and decided to cull out those six sharply-etched words to put India on the mat, mocking it for doublespeak and rank opportunism, and all that hand-wringing by the apologists of our government cannot wash away that stain. 

September 20, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Japan maintains sanctions but boosts its LNG imports from Russia

Japan’s economic woes are compounded by anti-Russia sanctions

By Ahmed Adel | September 20, 2022

Despite being one of the very few non-Western countries to join the US-led sanctions against Moscow, Japan has suddenly tripled the amount of liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported from Russia to solve its energy problem. Although the Japanese government plans to reduce its dependence on Russian gas supplies, it appears that Tokyo cannot immediately give up gas and fuel from the Eurasian country. 

According to the Japanese Ministry of Finance, Japan in August increased the amount of LNG imported from Russia by 211.2% compared to last year. It is noted though that crude oil imports in the same period year-on-year decreased by 20.3%. According to the data, coal imports from Russia in August decreased by 32.6% compared to the same period last year.

In the opposite direction, iron ore imports increased by 44.9%. In addition, Japan increased the number of vegetables and fruits imported from Russia by 154%, but reduced the amount of grain and soybean imports by 94-95%. While the total volume of goods exported from Japan to Russia in August decreased by 24.3% compared to the same period last year, reaching $384 million, the amount of Japanese goods imported from Russia recorded an increase of up to 67.4%, with a value of up to $1.15 billion.

The Japanese want to gradually reduce imports of Russian coal and oil, but Tokyo does not want to cut the amount LNG because this is a gas supply that plays an extremely important role in maintaining the country’s economy. 

At the end of June 2022, the G7, the group of leading industrialised countries in the world, which includes Japan in its ranks, announced a plan to reduce dependence on the supply of gas, oil, and fuel from Russia. However, the sharp increase in LNG imports from Russia to Japan seems to indicate a different truth. Not only Tokyo, but also many Western countries, will find it difficult to end their dependence on Russian gas in the short and medium term.

It is recalled that Japan’s energy self-sufficiency rate is only 11%, much lower than the US’s 106%, Canada’s 179%, and the UK’s 75%. Therefore, if Russia stops selling oil and gas to Japan, Tokyo will face a great risk of energy insecurity.

This month, G7 countries also announced their intention to impose a price cap on Russian oil. However, the EU itself cannot find a common voice on this issue, especially as Moscow has warned that “unfriendly” countries will not have the opportunity to import oil, gas and fuel from Russia if they impose a cap. This is a scenario that Japan wants to avoid. 

According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan’s total energy consumption in 2019 is equivalent to 247 million tons of oil, of which natural gas accounts for nearly 8.7%. Renewable energy (other than electricity) accounts for only a very small part, about 0.1% and even tends to decrease slightly over time. In recent years, Japan has not discovered any more natural gas fields of major commercial value. Japan, for its part, only produces about 2 million tons per year.

To meet domestic demand, Japan imported 82.9 million tons in 2018 – from Australia 34.6%, the Middle East 21.7%, and Malaysia 13.6%, but also from host of other countries. In fact, Japan uses LNG mainly for power generation through 37 LNG terminals, with the highest proportion belonging to JERA (42%) and Tokyo Gas (17%).

After the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown, Japan changed its energy development strategy, focusing on the issue of safety and energy security. Along with that, Japan also strives to further enhance energy efficiency.

In the context of Japan’s limited potential to exploit renewable energy, the use of nuclear power is opposed by many domestic organisations. For this reason, LNG imports became a key strategy for Japan. By 2030, the share of LNG in Japan’s power generation capacity is forecast to reach 27%.

It is noted though that August marked the thirteenth month in a row that Japan has been importing products more than it has been exporting, with about half of the deficit coming from energy imports from the Middle East.

“The weaker yen is boosting (the cost of) imports at a time of surging energy prices. Energy and grain prices have shown signs of stabilizing recently, but the impact of the sharp drop in the yen will continue for a while with a lag,” one analyst told Japanese daily Mainichi.

In this way, Japan’s anti-Moscow sanctions are also affecting its economy, just as it is all across Europe. There is little evidence either that Tokyo is planning to reverse its sanctions, suggesting that its economic woes will continue to be compounded by the self-sabotaging sanctions imposed against Russia.

Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.

September 20, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Nuclear Power | , | Leave a comment

US weapons are staying in Japan after drills

Samizdat – September 9, 2022

Some of the heavy weapons brought by the US to Japan for a joint training exercise will remain there for the time being, General Charles Flynn, the US Army’s Pacific commander, has told Reuters.

“It’s an opportunity for us to keep capabilities forward,” Flynn said, as quoted by the news agency on Friday.

On Thursday, Flynn visited Amami Oshima Island to inspect a military base operated by the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF). The facility, which was opened in 2019, is located on the edge of the contested South China Sea and is about 850km from Taiwan, a hotspot of growing US-Chinese tensions.

During a joint press conference with General Yoshihide Yoshida, chief of staff of the GSDF, the visiting US general said the US military presence in Japan helped “deter bad behavior” by other nations. The location of the island is strategically important for countering China, Flynn said.

The US official also inspected the island’s military installations from a helicopter and was given a tour of the Japanese Type 12 anti-ship missiles stationed on it.

According to Reuters, the American military equipment was brought to the Amami Oshima base for the annual Orient Shield military exercise, which lasted for a week and concluded on September 3.

Flynn said the hardware would stay for the next drill, the report said, adding that two more US-Japanese exercises are scheduled for this year. Among the equipment the US is leaving behind are HIMARS wheeled multiple launch rocket systems, which can also fire tactical ballistic missiles, Reuters said.

September 9, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , | 2 Comments

G7 unveils plan to enforce Russian oil price cap

Samizdat | September 2, 2022

The finance ministers of the Group of Seven influential nations announced on Friday their intention to ban maritime services transporting Russian oil if its price is not approved by ‘international partners.’

“We commit to urgently work on the finalization and implementation of this measure,” representatives from the US, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, the UK and Japan said in a joint statement seen by AFP, without specifying the cap level.

“We seek to establish a broad coalition in order to maximize effectiveness and urge all countries that still seek to import Russian oil and petroleum products to commit to doing so only at prices at or below the price cap,” they added.

The move is aimed at slashing Moscow’s revenues while maintaining a flow of its crude to the international markets, to avoid a price surge.

“We will curtail [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s capacity to fund his war from oil exports by banning services, such as insurance and the provision of finance, to vessels carrying Russian oil above an agreed price cap,” British Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi reportedly said, according to a tweet by a Sky News reporter.

According to the statement, the initial price cap will be based on a range of technical inputs, and the price level will be revisited as necessary. “We aim to align implementation with the timeline of related measures within the EU’s sixth sanctions package,” the ministers noted.

Western leaders agreed in June to explore a price ceiling to limit how much refiners and traders can pay for Russian crude. Moscow has made it clear that it would not comply, instead shipping its crude to countries not bound by the cap. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak warned on Thursday that nations that support the price cap will not get Russian crude.

September 2, 2022 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Japanese firms in no rush to leave Russia

Samizdat | July 30, 2022

Japanese companies are no in a hurry to quit the Russian market, amid fears of being unable to return and having to find new suppliers, the Japan Times reported this week, citing a survey from the statistics center Teikoku Databank.

According to the report, within the past month no Japanese companies have announced a suspension or cessation of operations in Russia.

Since Russia became subject to numerous sanctions due to its military operation in Ukraine, 74, or about 40%, of the 168 listed Japanese companies working in Russia announced intentions to leave the country. Of these, however, most said they would only halt some form of operation, while a mere five companies said they would withdraw from the Russian market completely.

According to the survey, Japanese companies attributed their reluctance to withdraw from Russia to fears of losing their niche in what they consider an important emerging market and potential difficulties in finding alternative suppliers.

Earlier this year, reports emerged that the Japanese government had urged the conglomerates Mitsui and Mitsubishi to retain their stakes in the Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) project Sakhalin-2, which now operates under a new Russian operator, in order to ensure continued LNG flows. Also, a number of Japan’s major automakers, including Toyota, have suspended their activities in Russia over the past several months but have not yet closed their businesses in the country.

Western sanctions against Moscow have forced many international companies to quit the Russian market. However, according to a Yale University survey, just 5% of Japanese companies that had operations in Russia have left, which is tied with Italy for the lowest shares in the G7. This contrasts with 46% for the UK, 33% for Canada, and 27% for the US.

July 30, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Sanctions catch up to Russian energy project

Samizdat | July 7, 2022

Oil production at Russia’s far-eastern Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project has decreased significantly due to sanctions imposed by the West, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev.

“As for the Sakhalin-1 project, due to the restrictions imposed … oil production at the project has decreased by 22 times – from 220,000 barrels per day to 10,000 barrels per day,” Trutnev said.

The Sakhalin-1 project produces Sokol grade crude oil off the coast of Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East, exporting about 273,000 barrels per day, mainly to South Korea, but also to other destinations including Japan, Australia, Thailand, and the US.

In May, US oil giant ExxonMobil’s Russian unit Exxon Neftegas declared force majeure for its Sakhalin-1 operations due to sanctions. It had become increasingly difficult to ship crude to customers, the company explained.

Project stakeholders, which also include Japan’s Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development consortium and Indian explorer ONGC Videsh, were reportedly having difficulty chartering tankers to ship oil out of the region.

Exxon had earlier announced it would exit about $4 billion in assets and discontinue all of its Russia operations, including the Sakhalin-1 project.

On Thursday, Reuters reported the head of the energy committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, Pavel Zavalny, as saying that the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project would be put under Moscow’s jurisdiction, just as the neighboring Sakhalin-2 has.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin ordered the re-organization of the Sakhalin-2 LNG project, transferring ownership to a new, domestic, company.

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Moscow responds to Japan’s threat to cap Russian oil prices

Samizdat | July 5, 2022

Tokyo’s proposal to place a cap on Russian oil prices would lead to significantly less oil on the market and could drastically push oil prices higher, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned on Tuesday.

Responding to the idea put forward by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday, Medvedev wrote on his Telegram channel that Japan “would have neither oil nor gas from Russia, as well as no participation in the Sakhalin-2 LNG project” if Tokyo decided to go through with the proposal.

“Japanese PM Kishida recently blurted out that the price ceiling for Russian oil would be set at half its current price. Plus, a mechanism will be created that will not allow the purchase of our oil at a price higher than the established one,” the former president wrote.

He went on to explain what this would mean when “translated from Japanese into Russian,” writing that such a move would severely limit the amount of oil available on the market, causing its price to be “much higher.”

“In fact, it will be even higher than the predicted astronomical price of $300-400 a barrel. Compare this with the dynamic of gas prices,” Medvedev said.

During last week’s G7 summit, the leaders of Germany, France, Canada, the US, the UK, Japan, and Italy agreed to explore the feasibility of introducing temporary import price caps on Russian fossil fuels, including oil, citing the ongoing military conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

However, as the Kremlin has pointed out, implementing a measure such as the one proposed by Japan would first require the approval of other countries. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on Monday that Kishida’s idea was merely “a single statement only, without any decisions taken.”

July 5, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | Leave a comment

US policies led to ‘new G8’ – Moscow

Samizdat | June 11, 2022

The United States “with its own hands” pushed the countries, which are not participating in “sanctions wars,” to form a “new Big Eight” group with Russia, the Russian State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Saturday.

Following the launch of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine in late February, the US, EU, UK and many other countries imposed hard-hitting restrictions on Moscow, making Russia the most sanctioned country in the world.

In a Telegram post, Volodin included a table with IMF data on GDP based on purchasing power parity of countries he calls the “new G8” and of countries forming the current G7 (after Russia’s participation in the bloc was suspended over Crimea’s vote to join the country in 2014, the G8 effectively turned into the G7).

“The group of eight countries not participating in the sanctions wars – China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Iran, Turkey – in terms of GDP at PPP is 24.4% ahead of the old group,” Volodin wrote.

In his opinion, the economies of the G7 members – the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada – continue “to crack under the weight of sanctions imposed against Russia.”

Putin blames Western ‘mistakes’ for global inflationREAD MORE: Putin blames Western ‘mistakes’ for global inflation
“The rupture of existing economic relations by Washington and its allies has led to the formation of new points of growth in the world,” Volodin claimed.

While having serious economic difficulties, the US, according to the Duma speaker, continues “doing everything to solve their problems at the expense of others.” Creating tensions will “inevitably” lead the US to lose its world domination, Volodin stressed.

“The United States created the conditions with its own hands for countries wishing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations to actually form a ‘new Big Eight’ together with Russia,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Friday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric Woodhouse said that Washington and its allies had realized that they would get “spillovers” of anti-Russia sanctions into their own economies. Their determination in imposing sanctions on Moscow, he claimed, has demonstrated a willingness to “accept those costs.”

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitted on the same day that the anti-Russia sanctions have made a “huge difference to food and energy prices,” amid record-setting inflation. The remarks followed the statement by the Russian President Vladimir Putin who said that “many years of mistakes made by Western nations” in their economic and sanctions policies have caused “a global wave of inflation, disruption of established logistical and manufacturing chains, a surge in poverty and a deficit of food.”

June 11, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Indo-Pacific power dynamic in radical shift

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | MAY 27, 2022 

The joint air patrol over the waters of the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea on Monday by an air task force composed of Russian Tu-95MS capable of carrying nuclear weapons and Chinese H-6K strategic bombers couldn’t have been a knee-jerk reaction to US President Joe Biden’s Asia tour, leave alone his provocative remarks conjuring up an apocalyptic US-China war over Taiwan. 

The Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian pointed out that this has been the fourth strategic patrol jointly conducted by Russia and China since 2019, with the purpose of testing and improving the level of coordination between the two air forces, and promoting the strategic mutual trust and practical cooperation between the two militaries. As he put it, “This operation does not target any third party, and has nothing to do with the current international and regional situation.” 

That said, perceptions do matter in strategic posturing and Japan’s defence minister Nobuo Kishi has enthusiastically rushed to endorse an interpretation that the timing of the Chinese-Russian operation had something to do with the QUAD summit taking place in Japan on that very same day. 

Conceivably, Kishi was on a cover-up, distracting attention away from the new geopolitical reality in the Far East. Indeed, the rebirth of militarism and revanchist sentiments in Japan, in a historic departure in the country’s post-World War 2 pacifist posture, with overt American encouragement and backing, provides the broader context for a Sino-Russian congruence. Ominously enough, Japan has lately switched to a diplomatic idiom to refer to the Kuril Islands as “occupied” territory, implying that Russia is an aggressor — although the historical truth may be vastly different. 

Again, Japan has been flexing muscles lately as a ‘front-line state’ in imposing sanctions against Russia (including against President Putin) although in all of its history or politics or geography, the land of the rising sun has had nothing to do with the Russian borderlands in Ukraine. Above all, Japan has been overzealous in drawing a fanciful comparison between the situation around the Taiwan Straits and Ukraine. 

Whichever way one were to look at it, Monday’s operation displayed a very high level of military cooperation between China and Russia at a juncture when the two countries are facing new provocations and added pressure from the US. Quite obviously, Beijing pooh-poohs the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s declaration in late April that Washington wanted to see Russia weakened militarily “to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine” and will be unable to recover quickly. 

Given the close foreign-policy coordination between China and Russia, it is entirely conceivable that Beijing has an insightful knowledge of the actual state of play in Russia’s special operation in Ukraine.  

On the other hand, it is a reasonable surmise after Monday’s joint strategic air patrol by China and Russia on Monday that Beijing has pushed back the Western attempts to browbeat it on the Ukraine issue. Clearly, on Monday, Beijing was risking “a major reputational damage ,” in the western world — to borrow the threatening words of the EU’s executive president Ursula von der Leyen after “a very frank and open” videoconference with the Chinese leadership in early April. 

What emerges are three things. One, Beijing continues to adhere to the letter and spirit of the joint statement of February 4 with Russia on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development which was issued during President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. Two, in the Chinese perspective, the three-month old Russian operation in Ukraine, which began on February 24, has not changed the current imperatives of the international situation characterised by rapid development and profound transformation where “Some actors representing but the minority on the international scale continue to advocate unilateral approaches to addressing international issues and resort to force; they interfere in the internal affairs of other states, infringing their legitimate rights and interests, and incite contradictions, differences and confrontation, thus hampering the development and progress of mankind, against the opposition from the international community.” (February 4, 2022) 

Third, Moscow and Beijing are circling the wagons, so to speak, in the Far East. Evidently, the Ukraine conflict is not preventing the US from pushing ahead with the NATO expansion and there is every reason to believe that the alliance’s next ‘line of defence’ will be moved to the South China Sea. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out on Thursday that belligerent western politicians are stating publicly that the alliance should have global responsibility, and that NATO should be responsible for the security in the Pacific region. Moscow and Beijing cannot be faulted if they anticipate that major decisions in this regard are expected at the forthcoming NATO summit meeting in Madrid on June 28-30. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday that “NATO has publicly stated on many occasions that it will remain a regional alliance, it does not seek a geopolitical breakthrough and it does not seek to expand to other regions. However, in recent years, NATO has entered the Asia-Pacific region repeatedly. Some NATO member states keep sending aircraft and warships to carry out military exercises in waters off China’s coast, creating tensions and disputes. NATO has been transgressing regions and fields and clamoring for a new Cold War of bloc confrontation. This gives ample reason for high vigilance and firm opposition from the international community.”

Russia and China have given up hopes of any moderation in the US’ adversarial mindset. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said today, “The West has declared total war against us, against the entire Russian world. Nobody even hides this fact now.” For the first time since 2006, Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a US-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution to strengthen sanctions on North Korea.

In and address on Tuesday at Georgetown University, titled The Administration’s Approach to the People’s Republic of China, designed to rally the international community to deter and counter China, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the coalition that Washington mustered to counter Russia in Ukraine presents a model both agile and well-resourced in how to face future challenges from China. 

May 27, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Is a Social Credit System Coming for Us?

By Tessa Lena | May 13, 2022

A Social Credit Score System Is Piloted in Bologna, Italy

The city administration of Bologna, Italy, is piloting a program that brings the beast of the Fourth Industrial Revolution straight to the citizens. It’s an early reiteration of Klaus’ Schwab’s Fourth Industrial Revolution, the honey moon, so to speak — so it comes to the citizens wrapped in gift paper, with balloons, prizes, and party language. But make no mistake: underneath, there is cruel man-eating machine that wants to mine your data and control your behavior!

So, what exactly is happening in Bologna? The administration is “digitizing” their relationship with the citizens. For starters, they are launching an app — with a catch — that will provide an interface to get access to various local services. Without saying it, the they are implementing the “digital governance” aspect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Quoting the Italian source:

“We will give citizens services based on their needs – says the Mayor – and this will allow us to personalize their experience. People will be able to find everything the administration will do on their mobile phones or computers. The physical branches, however, will not disappear.

“We will maintain a ‘physical’ support for all people who do not use the web, especially the older ones,” assures Lepore [Mayor of Bologna]. But the goal is computer literacy that leaves no one behind.”

If we read this announcement with innocent eyes, it sounds like yet another initiative that the bureaucrats are launching, perhaps benevolently, to keep up with the times and with the buzzwords. And in an ideal world — a world filled with flowers, butterflies, rainbows, and harmless, caring bureaucrats — there would be nothing wrong with adding on a little extra convenience via technology.

Technology can be very helpful if done right, and if it comes to us without Trojan horses. But alas, at the moment, we don’t live in such a world!

We live in a world where Klaus Schwab and his buddies and masters are fighting with each other over who gets to eat the most peasants! We live in a world where those who already have great power are seeking even more power — and that world is quickly going back to the feudal-time psychological standards (while, ironically, keeping the modern standards for the levels of industrial poisons in everything around us.)

As far as Trojan horses, the Bologna municipal app actually comes with a social credit system! The “virtuous citizens,” doing nice things, such as using public transport, keeping their energy use low, etc., get “perks,” like points in gaming. For those points, they may be able to get discounts or prizes or access to additional services. Nice Trojan horse, right?

“Among the most innovative interventions is the smart citizen wallet [emphasis mine]. ‘The wallet of the virtuous citizen,’ explains Bugani, who had worked on the project with the Raggi [Virginia Raggi, Mayor of Rome from 2016 to 2021] administration (in Rome today the platform is active in an experimental phase). The idea is similar to the mechanism of ‘a supermarket points collection,’ as the councilor himself points out.

‘Citizens will be recognized if they separate waste, if they use public transport, if they manage energy well, if they do not incur sanctions from the municipal authority, if they are active with the Culture Card.’ Virtuous behaviors that will correspond to a score that the Bolognese will then be able to ‘spend’ on prizes, such as discounts, cultural activities and so on.”

In other words, it’s the “nice” face of digital control. Nice, for now. But we need to be clear: we are looking at the digital control of everything we do in the end of that journey!

Integrated Citizen Relationship Management in Rome

The Italian news source mentions that this approach is already in experimental use in Rome, Italy. In March 2022, Salesforce published the following announcement:

“Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, today announced that the Municipality of Rome has chosen Salesforce to create an Integrated Citizen Relationship Management platform …

Leveraging Salesforce Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud will deliver omni-channel self-service capabilities, seamless collaboration between local government departments, and empower citizens to receive the information they need faster through AI-powered chatbots.

The launch of the MyRhome platform is another step on the Municipality’s path to creating a ‘smart city’ [emphasis mine] — an ecosystem of public and private stakeholders serving citizens wherever they are”.

Of course! We can’t expect any less from Salesforce, given that Marc Benioff is on WEF Board of Trustees!

Also, remember the famous “lockstep scenario” document released by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Global Business Network? The document that the Rockefeller Foundation says today has been misinterpreted by the conspiracy theorists — because the good and virtuous Rockefeller Foundation totally didn’t mean to predict what actually happened in 2020 (and also probably had nothing to do with eugenics)?

Well, keeping in mind that “lockstep scenario” document, here is Peter Schwartz, the Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning at Salesforce and “an internationally renowned futurist and business strategist, specializing in scenario planning and working with corporations, governments, and institutions to create alternative perspectives of the future … Prior to joining Salesforce, Peter was co-founder and chairman of Global Business Network [emphasis mine].” In the words of George Carlin, “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it! You and I are not in the big club!”

Their Motive for the “Digital Governance” Model? It’s the Data, Stupid!

At first, it’s the data (to train our future boss, the robot) — and then, increasingly, it’s mainly about control!

Let’s look at a very “interesting” 2017 write-up on digitizing governments on the World Economic Forum’s website. It talks about the importance of collecting data to build and train their beloved AI. It also complains about the fact that a lot of the data kept by governments just sits there in paper format and, dammit, is not making itself useful to the sacred goal of training the AI! Not good, they say, what a waste!

Therefore, to “open” that data to the AI beast, they want the governments to digitize their services — sorry that was the quiet part — what they actually say is that the citizens are craving those digital government systems because, who doesn’t know that the elimination of privacy is … good for us?

The World Economic Forum also suggests that the governments should develop new legal frameworks and data management systems to make data available for free. What a great idea! In 2017, the World Economic Forum mouthpieces were more upfront that today, so it is useful to read exactly what they said back then:

“Need for data is quickly becoming a central theme that applies to all aspects of our evolving digital society. A case in point is the field of artificial intelligence, which promises to revolutionize society (governments included). Companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft are using AI-related techniques to train computers to recognize objects in photos and understand human language.

It is possible to train computers to perform these difficult feats because we have the enormous quantities of data that is required. The same applies to all forms of machine learning, smart manufacturing and every other tech-driven trend shaping the future. They are all reliant on data, and are only as good as the data they crunch. In this context, data has been described as the new oil.'”

“Today, a large majority of the world’s data is in the hands of the private sector … The remainder of the global data sits in government hands, mostly stored in paper format, or legacy systems. To maximize the societal benefits of the data age, a new movement started promoting open data.

While government data is all data or information that government entities produce or collect, making it open refers to publishing and sharing data that can be readily and easily consulted and re-used by anyone with access to internet with no fees or technological barriers.

Most of this data currently remains locked up and proprietary (private property of companies, governments and other organizations). This severely limits its public value.

Data is now a new social good and governments will need to think of some form of data responsibility legislation that guides the private sector and other data owners on their duties in the data age: the duty to collect, manage and share in a timely manner [emphasis mine], as well as the duty to protect.

This legislation is needed over and above a government’s own open and big data management systems, and will need to cover all data stakeholders (irrespective of ownership or other governing rules).”

“Once a clear legal framework is in place, governments need to develop, and quickly master, a new core capability: data curation … Most governments around the world still struggle with legacy databases that are incompatible with each other, and work against any kind of data-sharing or data-driven design. Laws and regulations are still in their infancy and struggling to cope with the pace of change …”

“Governments must review a vast number of laws and regulations [emphasis mine]. From harmonizing and enforcing privacy regulations and protecting against data-breaches, to regulations that ensure net neutrality and data flows. Today’s debates over the future of big data are based on the assumption that the internet will remain a series of open networks through which data easily flows.

Some countries have begun to harden their internet systems, and the concept of net neutrality is uncertain. If the internet becomes a network of closed networks, the full potential of big data may not be realized.”

“Governments must also improve their capabilities when it comes to citizen engagement to effectively and actively engage with both providers and users of data. This requires governments to create a culture of open data [emphasis mine] – something governments are starting to do with various degrees of success.

The level of citizen engagement is not the typical government communication function, but a more open, horizontal, and fast-paced G2C platform.”

Must, must, must. So I am guessing, national sovereignty is a sore thumb in the way of our aspiring Davos masters because in their minds, they have already decided that they want our data (but not theirs) to be openly available, and that they don’t want any questions from the peasants.

A tangential comment: As a musician, I am remembering with some bitterness how Big Tech was pushing for “open data” and “open access” back in the day, selling it as “free expression” and “democracy,” and as a result — since buying music became unfashionable — musicians lost much of their income … and nobody cared!

I am glad that now at least, a lot more people are realizing what liars whose Big Tech companies are, and what liars they have always been all along, when they were talking about “free expression”! Look at them now, with their “free expression”! They are quite happy to censor! So it’s only our data that they want to be open — not our opinions!

And Here Is Another Curiosity From the World Economic Forum

They published this article in 2018:

Could robots do better than our current leaders

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is expected to wreak havoc on labour markets, with AI and robots replacing various white-collar jobs. One job category largely excluded from scientific reports is that of government leaders, despite being one of the most critiqued, scrutinized and ridiculed jobs of all.”

“However, commentators from countries as diverse as India, the UKNew Zealand and Japan have started to suggest that robots as government leaders could drastically improve decision-making, by being much less irrational and erratic than their inherently flawed human counterparts.”

After freaking us out, the World Economic Forum writers chuckle and let us continue being governed by human politicians, at least for now:

“For the time being, it seems neither possible nor optimal for robots to replace government leaders, despite the clear imperfections displayed by the latter group … Ultimately, a more realistic and desirable scenario is one in which AI and automation are neither competitors nor substitutes to humans, but tools that government leaders can engage effectively and sometimes defer to, in order to make better, fairer and more inclusive decisions.”

Phew, it’s almost like … you know, when a street robber first tells us to give him all of your money but then agrees to take only half! Such a kindly, generous robber! We are so lucky!

World Economic Forum’s “Agile Nations”

The 2017 WEB write-up about digital governance reads like a “wish list” and a blueprint for the governments to act upon. (I guess, given the bribing and coercive power of the people who’ve composed the wish list, their wish list had a strong chance of becoming the bureaucrats’ blueprint the moment it was written.) So in 2020, seven nations got together and signed an agreement to essentially implement it. A quote from “Agile Canada“:

“In November 2020, seven countries signed on to the Agile Nations Charter, establishing Agile Nations as a forum for countries to collaborate on creating a global regulatory environment in which innovation can thrive.

Member countries include: Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) also participate as observers.”

“Priority areas for cooperation are: data and communications, transportation, medical diagnosis and treatment, clean technology, legal and professional services, pro-innovation regulatory approaches.”

And here’s from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought economic and social disruption worldwide. As people and businesses focus on recovery, governments must ensure that innovation, which will power economic growth and solve the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges, is not held back by outdated regulations [emphasis mine].”

Translation from Orwellian to English: “We want your data, including your medical and biometric data — and we want it now. Look at how lovely our AI is … my precious! (Sorry couldn’t help it!) The so called national laws and regulations interfere with the speed at which we can get a hold of your data.

Like we said, we want it now, and so we would very much like it if so called national laws and regulation got replaced with a digital framework that we write and that we can update any time we like! Sounds like a good idea or what? Who wants some funding? You know what you need to do to get that funding, don’t you?” The quote continues:

“As part of the development of the OECD principles on Effective and Innovation Friendly Rule-Making in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) have been co-operating to look deeper into the interlinkages between regulation and emerging technologies …

Ministers from Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom announced their plan to lead the world in fostering responsible innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“In addition, in support of the mission of the Agile Nations, representatives of Facebook also offered to launch a call for research – overseen by an independent steering committee of experts in the field of law, regulation and entrepreneurship – into what approaches to rulemaking (e.g. regulatory sandboxes, policy prototyping) were the most effective for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As this initiative continues to develop, other businesses will be encouraged and invited to co-sponsor this initiative, and to venture their own ideas to support the work of the Agile Nations.”

“In sum, the Agile Nations Charter sets out each country’s commitment to creating a regulatory environment in which new ideas can thrive. The agreement paves the way for these nations to cooperate in helping innovators navigate each country’s rules, test new ideas with regulators and scale them across the seven markets.

Priority areas for cooperation include the green economy, mobility, data, financial and professional services, and medical diagnosis and treatment.”

“Scientific Management”

The World Economic Forum’s agenda is a strange mix of religious fundamentalism and “scientific management.” As I wrote earlier in an article about the mind of a technocrat, scientific management is a “method of industrial optimization developed by Taylor in the late 19th and early 20th century. The essence of his method was extreme fragmentation and compartmentalization of the production process.”

It required taking a complex process, breaking it down into very simple tasks, timing each task, optimizing it to the maximum using the stopwatch, and then assigning each of those simple tasks to different workers, while insisting that the workers should only use the pre-optimized motor patterns and work as efficiently as possible. Under scientific management, there was no room for workers’ creativity.

And while Taylor and Ford intended the scientific management method for the purpose of streamlining industrial production, the Davos charlatans aim to manage our entire lives, and justify it with some bogus “public good” and “community values”!

Whose “Community Values” Are Those, Anyway?

Here is the elephant in the room: It’s the Davos charlatans — and I want to repeat the word “charlatans” because that’s who they are underneath their bank accounts and their important speeches — who are writing our so called “community values”! They are trying to latch onto our natural social instincts and weaponize our good instincts against us!

They want us to be unassuming, guilty “good citizens” who put a limit on our carbon footprint and on the number of children we have — while they, the self-appointed “guardians” of the world, fly private jets to climate change conferences and have as many kids as they damn like!

And here’s the thing. There is nothing wrong with real community values! We are social creatures, and it benefits us to live together well. However, community values are only as good as the people who propose them — and community values turn into a pumpkin the moment someone like Schwab touches them!

As Good as the People

Let’s even forget about Schwab for a second and think how community values work in principle. Let’s imagine a small village. If the people living in that village are mostly healed and grounded, they will raise their children to seek wisdom and live well with others — from the heart, not from the letter.

However, if the people in the village have been abused, and abused, and abused again — and never healed — then even the authentic community values in that village could end up being anxious, rigid, and detrimental to freedom.

Hurt people tend to teach their children that life is meant to be joyless. They tend to slap their children’s wrists for wanting to be free, saying it’s a selfish folly. Hurt people hurt people! And at one point, the rigid rules might have been an invention of a cunning predator — but after prolonged abuse, people might have internalized them and passed them on to their children! (And look at how many people in the West sincerely adopted the religion of the Mask … they have internalized it!)

Another example: in my birth homeland of Russia, there are many small communities where the people carry so much hurt and sadness that the gloom is almost palpable in the air. I am saying this from personal experience, and with much pain and love for my people. I ran away from that gloom and immigrated to America because the “community values” felt too joyless!

So when it comes to Klaus Schwab and friends, they are only as powerful as we let them. I believe that that healing ourselves and our relationships is at the top of our priorities list in the battle against transhumanism — because anything we do from a place of love has more power than anything we do from the place of fear!

Why Will Transhumanism Fail?

This system, the entire man-eating beast, will eventually fail, I have no doubt — but we don’t know when, and we need to stay humble, brave, and very patient. The cruel beast may fail very soon, or it may take a while to fail. I think it depends on how quickly we remember to relate to each other in spirit, with love and happy humility — instead of labeling and judging each other based on ancestry, politics, or differences in opinion.

I think it depends on how quickly we realize that the freedom taken away from the people everywhere, throughout history, has been as existentially precious as the freedom that is being taken away from us right now — because there is no fundamental difference between us and other people, and never has been.

We, here and now, are dealing with the same dilemma that many in the past have dealt with, and some have died from. Spirit is spirit, and freedom is freedom! And I think that when we remember to stand together and honor each other and each other’s love and each other’s courage, we’ll be undefeatable. No Klaus Schwab can do anything to us if we refuse to betray our fellow human beings for any reason.

And sooner or later, spiritual clarity will prevail, and this transhumanist beast, the culmination of abuse, will fail. The reason why it will fail is simple. We are not machines, and when we are managed like machines — increasingly so over the centuries — our souls bleed badly. When we are managed like slaves, we suffer unbearably — and suffering, while it’s not a preferred way of obtaining clarity, still mysteriously leads to spiritual clarity. Life puts no suffering to waste!

And when the pain gets unbearable, and there is nowhere to go but toward our heart of hearts, our souls scream to the skies, and we pray for answers with no arrogance and no talking points, and then something magical happens. When our fear and pain become too much but we keep pushing, we grow our souls to where solutions show up out of nowhere.

And then we cry, laugh, and pray more for healing, and more solutions show up, and we look back and we suddenly know why we had to suffer, and why the sweetness was worth it. And then we start living well because, after all this suffering, we finally remember that everything in the world, everything-everything, has always been about love — and that living well with each other is not just pleasant but also very practical.

May 13, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

With no missile host in Pacific, new US strategy seeks to arm Japan against China

Press TV – May 4, 2022

The United States is struggling to find allies in the Indo-Pacific region who would be willing to host its intermediate-range missiles (IRBM), a new report has found.

The report by US-based think tank RAND Corporation, close to the Pentagon, looks at the likelihood of Pacific countries agreeing to host US IRBMs, the benefits and drawbacks of potential alternatives, and the most feasible alternative.

The report finds that the US strategy that relies on an ally agreeing to permanently host these ground-based IRBMs is bound to fail because of its inability to find a willing partner in the Pacific region.

The author of the report concludes that in the absence of any willing hosts, Washington should encourage Japan to develop a missile arsenal of its own to threaten Chinese ships, thus using Japan as a pawn in its no-holds-barred war against China.

After the US pulled out from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019, it sought to develop and deploy ground-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.

That immediately sparked a debate on where the US will deploy those missiles. Since China was not a signatory of the INF and had developed missiles of its own, Americans eyed the Indo-Pacific region.

The author of the report looks at the likelihood of US allies in the Indo-Pacific region—Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, and Thailand—hosting its IRBMs to counter the Chinese threat, but finds all of them unwilling.

He also examines alternatives to permanently basing US missiles on allies’ territories, but finds drawbacks with each alternative and thus recommends Japan develop an arsenal of ground-based anti-ship standoff missile capabilities at the behest of the US.

In the report published on Monday, the author argues that “the likely receptivity to hosting such systems is very low as long as current domestic political conditions and regional security trends hold,” referring to Thailand, Australia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Japan.

As long as Thailand “continues to have a military-backed government that pursues closer ties with China”, the US “would not want Thailand to host GBIRMs”, it notes.

In the Philippines, as long as a president “continues policies toward the United States and China similar to those of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines is “extremely unlikely to accept US GBIRMs.”

The government of South Korea shares ties with China, so Seoul also is “highly unlikely” to agree to host US missiles amid “a general deterioration of US-ROK relations.”

Australia’s historical ties with the US mean that the possibility cannot be ruled out, but “its historical reluctance to host permanent foreign bases and its distance from continental Asia make this unlikely.”

Japan is willing to “bolster its own defense capabilities vis-à-vis China,” but is reluctant to accept any increase in the US military presence or “deploying weapons that are explicitly offensive in nature”, the report says.

The report suggests that to continue to pursue GBIRMs for the Indo-Pacific, the strategy most likely to succeed would be “helping Japan develop an arsenal of ground-based, anti-ship missile capabilities”.

“This would be the first step in a longer-term US strategy to encourage Japan to procure similar missiles with longer ranges,” it states.

Meanwhile, the foreign affairs chief of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) said on Tuesday that the country should deploy surface-launched intermediate-range missiles in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido to deter missile attacks from China, Russia and North Korea.

Masahisa Sato, the head of the LDP Foreign Affairs Division, made the remarks at an event in Washington organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US think tank.

Washington has in recent years made strenuous efforts to make inroads into the strategic Indo-Pacific region, with singular aim of countering the rise of Chinese dragon. The attempts, however, have produced no results.

In a bid to ramp up its diplomatic engagement with Pacific countries, the Biden administration is set to host leaders from the region later this year, a senior US government official said on Monday.

Kurt Campbell, who serves as coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the US National Security Council, made the announcement at a US-New Zealand business summit, amid rising tensions with China.

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Asian fault lines of Biden’s war on Russia

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | APRIL 11, 2022 

The tremors of the United States’ tensions with Russia playing out in Europe are being felt in different ways already in Asia. The hypothesis of Ukraine being in Europe and the conflict being all about European security is delusional.

From Kazakhstan to Myanmar, from Solomon Islands to the Kuril Islands, from North Korea to Cambodia, from China to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the fault lines are appearing.

To be sure, extra-regional powers had a hand in the failed colour revolution recently to overthrow the established government in Kazakhstan, a hotly contested geopolitical landmass two-thirds the size of India, bordering both China and Russia, Washington’s sworn adversaries. Thanks to swift Russian intervention, supported by China, a regime change was averted. 

Equally, the Anglo-American project to embroil Myanmar, bordering China, in an armed insurgency has floundered for want of a sanctuary in India’s northeastern region and due to the perceived congruence of interests among the surrounding countries in Myanmar’s stability. 

In comparison, the North Korean fault line has aggravated. North Korea moves on its own timetable and has probably decided that the Ukraine crisis offers useful cover while it ramps up its testing program. Pyongyang explicitly supports Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, commenting that “the basic cause of the Ukraine incident lies in the high-handedness and arbitrariness of the United States, which has ignored Russia’s legitimate calls for security guarantees and only sought a global hegemony and military dominance while clinging to its sanctions campaigns.” 

North Korea’s objective is to enhance its security and leverage by increasing the quality and quantity of its deterrent capabilities and strengthening its bargaining position.  

On another plane, the Ukraine crisis injected a new urgency into the US efforts to cultivate new Asian partners. But Washington has run into headwinds and had to indefinitely postpone a special summit with the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that was initially scheduled for end-March. No new date has been proposed, although the US had hyped up the summit as “a top priority.” 

Showing some ire, Washington has since sanctioned Cambodia, currently the ASEAN Chair. Clearly, the southeast Asian countries are chary of taking sides between the US and China or of voicing criticism against Russia.

Perhaps, the most direct fallout of the Ukraine crisis in Asia so far is the sharp deterioration in Japan’s ties with Russia. It is an unwarranted development insofar as Tokyo simply did a cut and paste job, copying all the US sanctions against Russia (including against President Putin). Prime Minister Kishida wantonly destroyed what his predecessor Shinzo Abe had carefully cultivated as a cordial, friendly relationship. 

Japan now openly refers to Russian “occupation” of the Kuril Islands — something it hasn’t been doing in the past. Moscow retaliated by designating Japan as an “unfriendly” country. Yet, analysts were estimating until recently that Russia and Japan had congruent interests in blocking China’s Arctic ambitions and were, therefore, moving toward solving their dispute over the Kurils.

Suffice to say, Kishida’s motivations in an abrupt turnaround to make Kurils a potential flashpoint in relations with Russia are, to say the least, to be traced to the broader US strategy to isolate Russia.

Meanwhile, a contrarian development has also appeared in China’s challenge to the US’ Island Chain strategy in the Western Pacific by negotiating a new security deal with Solomon Islands. This game-changing development may have extensive consequences and is dangerously interwoven with the Taiwan issue. Biden is reportedly dispatching a top White House official to Solomon Islands to scuttle the deal with China. 

The Biden administration is now doubling down on India to roll back its ties with Russia as well. That becomes a fault line in the US-Indian strategic partnership. What must be particularly galling for Washington is the likelihood of India pursuing its trade and economic cooperation with Russia in local currencies. Indeed, China and India have taken a somewhat similar stance on the Ukraine crisis.  

Given the size of the Chinese economy and the high potential of growth for the Indian economy, their inclination to bypass the dollar would be a trend-setter for other countries. Russia, hit by Western sanctions, has called on the BRICS group of emerging economies to extend the use of national currencies and integrate payment systems.

Suffice to say, the “weaponised dollar” and the West’s abrasive move to freeze Russia’s reserves sends a chill down the spine of most developing countries. Nepal caved in to ratify the Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement following threat by a middle ranking US official! 

There is no conceivable reason why the NATO should become the provider of security for the Asian region. That is why Afghanistan’s future is of crucial importance. Without doubt, the regime change in Pakistan is partly at least related to Afghanistan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has disclosed certain details of the US interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs and its pressure on former Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

But time will show how realistic are Washington’s  expectations of inducting Pakistan into the US orbit and making it a surrogate to leverage the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Russia and China are making sure that the door remains closed to NATO’s return to Afghanistan. They have undercut Washington’s recent efforts to co-opt the Taliban leadership in Kabul. (See my blog US pips regional states at race for Kabul.) 

The message out of the recent Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan Issue Among the Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan in Tunxi, China, is that in that country’s transition from chaos to order, the regional states hope to undertake a lead role. Thus, the regional states have incrementally marked their distance from the West’s exceptionalism and are instead adopting a persuasive track through constructive engagement. The joint statement issued at Tunxi reflects this new thinking. 

The developments over Afghanistan provide a signpost that any attempt at imposing Western dominance over Asia will be resisted by the regional states. Most Asian countries have had bitter experiences with colonialism in their history. (See my blog India’s dilemma over West vs. Russia

Although the American analysts underplay it, the fact remains that the conflict in Ukraine is bound to impact the “Asian Century” very significantly. The US is determined to transform NATO as the global security organisation that will act beyond the purview of the United Nations to enforce the West’s “rules-based order.” 

The West’s desperate push to weaken Russia and tilt the global strategic balance in the US’ favour aims to clear the pathway leading to a unipolar world order in the 21st century. In a recent interview, Hal Brands, Henry Kissinger distinguished professor of global affairs at Johns Hopkins, put across the US strategy behind the war in Ukraine as very logical: 

“Well, there’s long been a debate in the United States over whether we should prioritise competing with Russia or China or treat them as co-equals. And that debate has flared up again in the context of this war. I think what the war indicates, though, is that the best way of putting pressure on China, which is the more dangerous and the more powerful of the two rivals, is actually to ensure that Russia is defeated, that it does not achieve its objectives in this war, because that will result in a weaker Russia, one that is less capable of putting pressure on the United States and its allies in Europe and thus less useful as a strategic partner for Beijing.

“The United States simply can’t avoid the reality that it has to contain both Russia and China simultaneously.” 

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 2 Comments