viernes, 5 de abril de 2019

SWIFT


Rusia y China siguen desprendiéndose de los instrumentos financieros del Imperio. Ahora le toca al "SWIFT". Acá va la nota de Red Voltaire:


Título: Los bancos chinos y rusos ya ‎no dependen del sistema occidental

Texto: China y Rusia llevaban 5 años trabajando en la creación de sistemas alternativos a la red ‎internacional de comunicaciones entre bancos y entidades financieras conocida como SWIFT ‎‎(siglas en inglés de la Sociedad para las Comunicaciones Interbancarias y Financieras Mundiales). ‎

La red SWIFT tiene su sede en Bruselas y está bajo control estadounidense. ‎

El 18 de septiembre de 2014, el Parlamento Europeo aconsejaba en su resolución «sobre la ‎situación en Ucrania y las relaciones UE-Rusia» (Ref: 014/2841(RSP)) desconectar a Rusia de la red ‎SWIFT. ‎

En respuesta, Moscú emprendió la creación del SPFS (Система передачи финансовых ‎сообщений), una red alternativa propia destinada a garantizar sus transacciones internas. Esa red entró ‎en funcionamiento en diciembre de 2017. Más de 500 bancos ya están conectados a ella y ‎algunos bancos extranjeros también comienzan a integrarse. ‎

El problema de China es diferente al de Rusia. El objetivo de China no es prevenir la adopción de ‎sanciones creando un sistema independiente de transferencias bancarias sino poder realizar ‎transferencias en yuanes (la moneda china), divisa que no es plenamente convertible en los ‎mercados cambiarios. ‎

Por consiguiente, desde el 8 de octubre de 2015, después de llegar a un acuerdo con el sistema ‎SWIFT, Pekín comenzó a desarrollar un sistema para las transferencias en yuanes en el extranjero. ‎Se trata de la red CIPS (llamada inicialmente Cross-Border Inter-Bank Payments System, después ‎pasó a llamarse China International Payments System). ‎

Según el Banco Central ruso, el SPFS ruso y el CIPS chino están conectados entre sí desde la ‎semana pasada.


sábado, 30 de marzo de 2019

Gran Estrategia


En la nota que sigue, de Thierry Meyssan para Red Voltaire, se sugiere que existe una continuidad, no una ruptura, en las grandes líneas de la política exterior estadounidense para el resto del mundo. La nota corre el riesgo de la simplificación, pero igual vale la pena leerla. En la misma, la leyenda de la foto de arriba es la siguiente: "Los pensadores de la Gran Estrategia estadounidense: Donald Rumsfeld, secretario de Defensa ‎de la administración Bush Jr., y su consejero, el almirante Arthur Cebrowski; el presidente ‎Donald Trump y su secretario comercial Peter Navarro; y el secretario de Estado Mike Pompeo, ‎con su consejero Francis Fannon".



Título: La nueva Gran Estrategia de ‎Estados Unidos

Epígrafe: Muchos piensan que Estados Unidos se mueve mucho pero sin lograr gran cosa. ‎Por ejemplo, que las guerras estadounidenses en el Gran Medio Oriente han sido una ‎cadena de fracasos. Pero Thierry Meyssan estima que Estados Unidos tiene una ‎estrategia militar, comercial y diplomática coherente. En función de sus propios ‎objetivos, esa estrategia militar avanza pacientemente y registra éxitos.‎

Texto: ‎En Estados Unidos se suele creer que el país carece de una Gran Estrategia desde que se cerró la ‎guerra fría. ‎Una Gran Estrategia es una visión del mundo que se trata de imponer y que todas las ‎administraciones deben respetar. En caso de derrota en un teatro de operaciones, esa estrategia ‎sigue aplicándose en otros hasta que acabe por triunfar. Al final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, ‎Washington optó por seguir las directivas que el embajador George Keenan había trazado en su ‎célebre despacho diplomático. Se trataba de describir un supuesto expansionismo soviético para ‎justificar una política de «contención» (containment) frente a la Unión Soviética. El hecho es ‎que, después de haber perdido las guerras en Corea y Vietnam, Estados Unidos acabó ganando. ‎

No es frecuente que se logre concebir una Gran Estrategia, aunque estas han existido, como sucedió ‎en Francia, con Charles De Gaulle. ‎

A lo largo de los 18 últimos años, Washington ha logrado poco a poco fijarse nuevos objetivos y ‎nuevas tácticas para alcanzar esos objetivos. ‎



1991-2001, un periodo de desconcierto

En el momento de la desaparición de la Unión Soviética, el 25 de diciembre de 1991, ‎Estados Unidos, entonces bajo la administración de Bush padre, consideró que ya no tenía rival. ‎El presidente, victorioso por defecto, desmovilizó 1 millón de soldados e imaginó un mundo de ‎paz y prosperidad. Liberalizó las transferencias de capitales para que los capitalistas pudieran ‎enriquecerse y –como él creía– así enriquecer también a sus conciudadanos. ‎

Pero el capitalismo no es un proyecto político sino una forma de ganar dinero. Las grandes ‎empresas estadounidenses –no el Estado federal– se aliaron al Partido Comunista Chino (de ahí ‎el famoso «viaje al sur» de Deng Xiaoping). Esas grandes empresas estadounidenses ‎trasladaron a China las filiales de menor valor agregado que poseían en Occidente, y lo hicieron ‎simplemente porque los trabajadores chinos, con niveles de educación menos elevados, aceptaban ‎salarios 20 veces más bajos que en Occidente. Así se inició el largo proceso de ‎desindustrialización de Occidente. ‎

Para poder manejar con menos trabas sus negocios transnacionales, el Gran Capital trasladó sus ‎haberes a países donde encontraba menos obligaciones fiscales y descubrió así la posibilidad de ‎escapar a sus responsabilidades sociales. Esos países, cuya flexibilidad en materia de impuestos y ‎discreción son indispensables al comercio internacional, se vieron bruscamente implicados en ‎innumerables y gigantescas tramas de «optimización fiscal», una bonita formulación técnica para ‎lo que antiguamente se llamaba «defraudar el fisco», procedimiento con el cual lucraron ‎en silencio. Se abría así el reinado de la Finanza sobre la Economía. ‎



La estrategia militar

En 2001, Donald Rumsfeld, secretario de Defensa y miembro permanente del «Gobierno de ‎Continuidad» [1], creó ‎una Oficina de Transformación de la Fuerza (Office of Force Transformation) que puso en manos ‎del almirante Arthur Cebrowski, quien ya había trabajado en la informatización de las fuerzas ‎armadas y se dedicó entonces a modificar la misión de dichas fuerzas. ‎

Sin la Unión Soviética, el mundo se había hecho unipolar, o sea ya no estaba gobernado por el ‎Consejo de Seguridad sino única y exclusivamente por Estados Unidos. Para mantener ‎su predominio, Estados Unidos se planteó dividir la humanidad en dos partes. De un lado ‎estarían los Estados considerados estables (los miembros del G8 –incluyendo Rusia– y los aliados). ‎Del otro lado quedaría el resto del mundo, convertido en un simple “tanque” de recursos ‎naturales. Washington ya no consideraba el acceso a esos recursos como algo vital para ‎sí mismo, pero estimaba que los Estados estables sólo debían tener acceso a los recursos ‎a través de Estados Unidos. Para imponer esa situación era necesario destruir previamente las ‎estructuras de los Estados en los países considerados “tanques” de recursos, de manera que ‎no pudiesen oponerse a la voluntad de la primera potencia mundial, ni prescindir de esta [2].‎

Esa es la estrategia que Washington ha estado aplicando. Comenzó por el Gran Medio Oriente o ‎Medio Oriente ampliado –con las guerras en Afganistán, Irak, Líbano, Libia, Siria y Yemen. A pesar ‎de los anuncios de la secretaria de Estado de la administración Obama, Hillary Clinton, sobre el ‎‎«Giro hacia Asia» (Pivot to Asia), el desarrollo militar de China impidió aplicarla en el Extremo ‎Oriente y ahora Washington apunta a la Cuenca del Caribe, arremetiendo inicialmente contra ‎Venezuela y Nicaragua. ‎



La estrategia diplomática

En 2012, el entonces presidente Barack Obama retomó el leitmotiv del Partido Republicano y ‎convirtió en prioridad nacional la explotación de los hidrocarburos (petróleo y gas) de esquistos ‎mediante el método de fracturación hidráulica. En unos años, Estados Unidos multiplicó sus ‎inversiones en ese sector y se convirtió en el primer productor mundial de hidrocarburos echando ‎así abajo los paradigmas de las relaciones internacionales. ‎

En 2018, Mike Pompeo, ex director de Sentry International, fabricante de maquinaria para la ‎industria del petróleo, se convirtió en director de la CIA y, posteriormente, en secretario de ‎Estado. Pompeo creó un Buró de Recursos Energéticos (Bureau of Energy Resources) que puso ‎bajo la dirección de Francis Fannon. Esta estructura era el equivalente diplomático de lo que fue la ‎Oficina de Transformación de la Fuerza en el Pentágono e instauró una política enteramente ‎enfocada a tomar el control del mercado mundial de los hidrocarburos [3]. Para ello imaginó un nuevo tipo de alianzas como la llamada Región Indo-pacífica ‎Libre y Abierta (Free and Open Indo-Pacific). Ya no se trata de crear bloques militares, como los ‎QADS, sino de organizar alianzas alrededor de objetivos de crecimiento económico basados en la ‎garantía del acceso a fuentes de energía. ‎

Ese concepto encaja en la estrategia Rumsfeld/Cebrowski. Ya no se trata de apropiarse los ‎hidrocarburos del resto del mundo, hidrocarburos que Washington ya no necesita, sino de ‎determinar quién tendrá acceso a ellos para poder desarrollarse y quién no. Esto es una ruptura ‎total con la doctrina del agotamiento del petróleo que la familia Rockefeller y el Club de Roma ‎promovieron desde los años 1960, doctrina retomada después por el Grupo de Desarrollo de la ‎Política Energética Nacional (National Energy Policy Development Group) del vicepresidente ‎estadounidense Dick Cheney. Estados Unidos estima ahora que no sólo no se ha producido la ‎temida desaparición del petróleo sino que además, a pesar del drástico aumento de la demanda, ‎la humanidad cuenta con hidrocarburos suficientes para al menos un siglo. ‎

En este momento, bajo pretextos tan numerosos como variados, Pompeo acaba de bloquear el ‎acceso de Irán al mercado mundial de hidrocarburos, está haciendo lo mismo con Venezuela y, ‎para completar el cierre, Estados Unidos va a mantener tropas en el este de Siria para impedir ‎que ese país pueda explotar los yacimientos existentes en esa parte de su territorio. ‎Simultáneamente, Pompeo ejerce la mayor presión sobre la Unión Europea para que esta renuncie ‎al gasoducto ruso Nord Stream 2 y también sobre Turquía, para que renuncie al Turkish Stream.‎



La estrategia comercial

En 2017, el presidente Donald Trump trata de que regrese a Estados Unidos al menos una parte ‎de los empleos que las empresas estadounidenses habían transferido a Asia y a la Unión Europea. ‎Basándose en los consejos del economista de izquierda Peter Navarro [4], Trump puso fin a la Asociación Transpacífica y renegoció el Tratado ‎de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN, llamado en inglés NAFTA y en francés ALENA). ‎Al mismo tiempo instauró derechos de aduana prohibitivos para la importación de automóviles ‎alemanes y la mayoría de los productos chinos y completó todo lo anterior con una reforma fiscal ‎que estimula la repatriación de los capitales estadounidenses. Esa política ya ha permitido ‎mejorar la balanza comercial y reactivar el empleo. ‎

En otras palabras, ya está montado el dispositivo completo en los sectores económico, ‎diplomático y militar, vinculados todos entre sí y cada uno con sus instrucciones precisas. ‎

La principal ventaja de esta nueva Gran Estrategia es que las élites del resto del mundo siguen ‎sin haberla entendido. Washington todavía tiene a su favor el factor sorpresa, acentuado ‎además por el sistema de relaciones públicas deliberadamente caótico de Donald Trump. Pero ‎si observamos los hechos –en vez de dejarnos distraer por los tweets presidenciales–, podemos ‎comprobar que Estados Unidos ha logrado avances después del periodo incierto de los ‎presidentes Clinton y Obama. ‎



Notas:

[1] El «Gobierno de Continuidad» es una instancia estadounidense creada por ‎el presidente Eisenhower en tiempos de la guerra fría pero que aún sigue funcionando. ‎Su misión es garantizar la continuidad del Estado estadounidense en caso de ausencia o ‎desaparición del ejecutivo –como la muerte del presidente, del vicepresidente y de los presidentes ‎de las dos cámaras del Congreso durante un conflicto nuclear. Aunque la composición exacta del ‎Gobierno de Continuidad es secreta, esa instancia dispone de medios muy importantes.

[2] Esa ‎estrategia fue dada a conocer por el asistente de Cebrowski, Thomas Barnett, en su libro ‎‎The Pentagon’s New Map, publicado por Putnam Publishing Group en 2004.

[3] “Mike Pompeo Address ‎at CERAWeek”, por Mike Pompeo, Voltaire Network, 12 de marzo ‎de 2019.

[4] Ver Death by China, ‎Peter Navarro, Pearson, 2011 y Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World, ‎Prometheus Books, 2015.

martes, 19 de marzo de 2019

La desestabilización de la semana. Esta vez, Argelia


Un millón de personas en las calles de Argelia el 1º de marzo. Primavera árabe, pueblo harto, líder viejo (en la foto de arriba, el presidente argelino, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82 pirulines y peinado a la cachetada), élites divididas, "militantes" islámicos listos para entrar en acción, etc. En fin, lo de siempre. Leemos en el sitio web Oriental Review:


Título: The Destabilisation Of Algeria: The Influx Of New Refugees To Europe And A Threat To Its Energy Security

Texto: The president of Algeria, 82-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power for almost 20 years, has declared that he will not be running for what would have been his fifth term. The announcement was made against the backdrop of widespread protests that have been rocking the country for days. Thus, the latest revolution in the Arab world has succeeded. The question is, what will come next?

Despite being laid to rest countless times, the Arab Spring has continued where it was least expected. Algeria has the same explosive cocktail as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria, of course: a young, rapidly growing urban population deprived of jobs and opportunities; corruption and poverty amid opulent wealth and luxury; uneasy relationships between ethnic groups (in Algeria’s case, between the Arabs and the Kabyle people, a Berber ethnic group); Islamist activity; and, finally, an unchanging authoritarian leader who rules with the same unchanging palette of ideas as every other dictatorship – “Who else if not me?”, “It will be worse without me”, “You don’t change horses in midstream” and so on. But judging by how calmly the country endured the turbulent events in nearby Tunisia and Libya, with only localised pockets of unrest, many experts were under the impression that the elderly Bouteflika would simply be able to retire by handing the presidency to whomever he wants – namely Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who has the unspoken title of “successor”. Something has gone wrong, however.

It is unclear why, on 10 February, Bouteflika announced that he would be taking part in the presidential election scheduled for April. It is even unclear how much say he had in this decision. In 2013, Bouteflika suffered a stroke. A year later he was re-elected amid myriad accusations of election fraud and stopped appearing in public. Until last Sunday, that is, when Bouteflika delivered an address to the nation in which he announced he had changed his mind and no longer wanted to run for re-election. “There won’t be a fifth mandate and it was never on the table as far as I am concerned,” he said. “Given my state of health and age, my last duty towards the Algerian people was always contributing to the foundation of a new Republic.”

On Monday, the government, including Ahmed Ouyahia, resigned. A “cabinet of technocrats” is being put together in its place headed by the now former interior minister, Noureddine Bedoui, and the streets of the country’s capital are filled with cheering crowds.

The biggest potential powder keg for the situation in Algeria, of course, is the fact that the presidential election has been postponed indefinitely. Exactly when it will take place will become clear after the national conference tasked with drafting a new constitution. The presidential election and the voting on it has to take place at the same time.

So, for the time being there is political uncertainty: a president who has either resigned or hasn’t; an emerging government; and a people inspired by what seems to be a victory. There is also the bulldog fight going on behind the scenes at the highest levels of government about which little is known, but which has been hampered by the presence of the country’s unquestioned leader, Bouteflika.

It should be remembered, however, that, no matter what you think of him, the current Algerian leader did actually bring stability to the country. It was during his presidency that the so-called “Black Decade” – a civil war instigated by Islamists in 1991 – came to an end. After winning the 1999 presidential election, Bouteflika secured an amnesty for the militants and the wave of terror gradually subsided. At the beginning of his time in office, he pursued a fairly flexible policy, didn’t persecute his opponents as long as they didn’t resort to violent methods, and tried to make it so that rising energy prices had a positive impact on the well-being of the people and not just the ruling elite. The system began to stiffen in 2008, however, when a law was passed allowing the president to be re-elected an infinite number of times. This process has now gone so far that opponents of the regime are only going to be happy with serious, rather than cosmetic, changes, and this kind of attitude always spells danger for the future of a country.

If the situation in Algeria comes to bloodshed, then it is unlikely that other countries will stay on the sidelines. Europe will be forced to intervene, if only to prevent a new wave of refugees from Arab countries.

Meanwhile, the situation in Algeria remains tense. The president’s announcement that he will not run for a fifth term has not quelled the protests. The unrest of the people is now directed against the introduction of a transition period and the creation of a new government that they believe will contain all the same people who are running the country now. The protesters are demanding a regime change, although they are not formulating their position very well. What’s more, following Bouteflika’s decision not to run for re-election on 18 April, no one is ready – there are no other candidates, no one has carried out an election campaign and it would be virtually impossible to do so in the time remaining. It therefore seems that the different sides will now have to talk to each other.

A possible split in the Algerian elite could be dangerous. In fact, that’s why Bouteflika was put forward for president – he united them. The balance among the parties close to power is extremely fragile, but the feelings of unrest and discontent are strong. A number of organisations are taking part in the street protests, including various parties and NGOs, and the longer the protests continue, the more various forces will try to take advantage of them.

Algeria’s political parties and movements have been divided in their assessment of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decisions. The National Liberation Front has supported the head of state, who “heeded the calls of the Algerian people”. In a statement, the ruling party said: “It allows politicians and members of civil society to take part in the construction of a new Algeria.” Abdelamajid Munasyra, the deputy leader of the moderate Islamist party Movement for the Society of Peace, said that Bouteflika “withdrew his candidacy from the presidential election but remained in power, which violates the constitution”. The Algerian newspaper Elkhabar quotes the politician as saying: “The political opposition is waiting for the response of the people, whether these decisions will be accepted by the people. But if these steps are not taken, which is likely, then we will stand with the people.” In a video statement, the head of the Union for Reform and Progress, Zubaidah Assul, called the president’s actions “a political manoeuvre and an attempt to avoid meeting the demands of the demonstrators”. The Algerian politician continued: “From what we have heard, it appears that the president has extended his term in office, and he has not given any indication of how long the transition period will last.” She also noted that the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister have been filled by representatives of the “old regime”. At the same time, Assul believes that the people will quietly continue trying to oust “the entire regime from power”.

The dissatisfaction of Algerians is being spurred on by the unfavourable social and economic situation in the country. The protesters are demanding pro-Western reforms and they’re demanding changes in the country. According to unofficial sources, more than one million people took part in the protests in Algeria on 1 March.

The lack of a viable successor and the inability of the current elite to solve the economic crisis are contributing to the uncertainty of Algeria’s political future, something that the current regime’s main opponents – the Islamists – will inevitably try to take advantage of. The weakening of the vertical power structure and the continuing protests are creating a breeding ground for the resurrection of Islamist organisations. In particular, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb recently published a talk entitled “Algeria…Getting Out From The Dark Tunnel”, which states that the organisation is ready to take advantage of the unrest when the time is right.

Algerian Arab SpringThe destabilisation of Algeria will undoubtedly cause problems for Europe. Besides the inevitable influx of new refugees, Europe could also face a threat to its energy security, given that Algeria provides a third of the gas consumed in Europe and as much as half of the gas consumed in Spain. At the same time, the weakness of the current government during a possible civil conflict will be exacerbated by the situation in the bordering countries of Libya and Mali. ISIS jihadists have strong positions in both countries, while the lengthy and poorly controlled border with Mali and Libya risks the spread of Islamic fundamentalism into the vast territories of north and north-west Africa.

The US will also not fail to take advantage of the complex situation in Algeria. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, Washington will easily be able to implement plans to penetrate and consolidate its positions in the Sahel-Sahara Region. A large-scale military presence will also allow the US to secure its interests in reorienting Algeria’s energy policy towards the development of shale gas and implementing its strategic objective of organising the supply of this raw material to Europe.

Whatever happens, Algeria is facing several serious challenges at once and its ability to respond is being severely hampered by a lack of any notable potential leaders either within government or within the ranks of the opposition.

lunes, 11 de marzo de 2019

Los números de China


Un reciente artículo llama la atención sobre el significado económico de China; es breve y asombroso. La nota que sigue es de Chris Kanthan para el sitio web  Sott.net. En este sitio web se ofrecen links para cada uno de los items mencionados.


Título: China's Global Leadership List

Texto: ChinaThe vast majority of Americans have absolutely no idea how advanced China has become. Perusing social media comments by Americans, it's clear that too many of them are burdened by misinformation and prejudice. "China is 100 years behind"... "All Chinese products are crap" ... "China can't innovate" ... "It's a communist, poor, polluted country" ... and, of course, the most popular: "China's economy is about to collapse." Furthermore, people reinforce their biases by gleefully sharing only anti-China articles. Anything remotely positive about China is attacked as "Chinese propaganda." 

This is a potent mix of ignorance, hubris and xenophobia. No wonder that Trump supporters were so confident of a trade deal in which Xi Jinping would surrender unconditionally and quickly. While it's true that China as whole has a long way to go to in terms of GDP-per-capita, many big cities in China are essentially "developed economies." And China has surpassed the US in many areas and is closing in rapidly in other areas. 

If you don't know your competitor, you're certain to lose the game. So here are some quick statistics on China's global leadership:

#1 in exports (been so since 2009 when it overtook Germany)
#1 in manufacturing value added (been so since 2010 when China took the crown from the US, which had been #1 for the previous 110 years)
#1 in foreign exchange reserves (>$3 trillion)
#1 holder of US debt (>$1 trillion)
#1 trade partner for 130 countries
#1 in PPP GDP (been so since 2014 when it surpassed the US)
#1 in contribution to global GDP growth for the past decade (25-35%, which is twice that of the US). That is, if the world GDP grows by $100, then $25-$35 comes from China.
#1 in Middle Class population (350 million in 2018; and it overtook the US in 2015)
#1 in poverty elimination (800 million lifted out of extreme poverty)
#1 retail market in the world by 2019 ($5.6 trillion)
#1 in e-commerce (42% of world market)
#1 in personal luxury goods sales (35% of global market)
#1 luxury car market (Example: 400,000 BMWs manufactured in China in 2017)
#1 in international tourism spending (In 2010, Chinese tourists spent half as much as Americans; and by 2017, China was spending twice as much as the US)
#1 in smartphones (Chinese brands have 40% of the global market)
#1 in 4G mobile network (1.2 billion users)
#1 in Internet users (830 million people), fiber-optic broadband users (320 million)
#1 in solar, wind and hydroelectric power (link)
#1 in electric cars - manufacturing and sales (link)
#1 in steel, cement, aluminum production (link, link, link)
#1 in manufacturing of conventional cars (>26 million per year)
#1 in consumer drones (70% of global market)
#1 in skyscrapers (link)
#1 in high-speed railways or bullet trains (30,000 Km or 18,000 miles)
#1 in supercomputers (227 out of the 500 supercomputers are Chinese)
#1 in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) college graduates (4x as many as the US)
#1 in scientific publications (link)
#1 in mobile payments (50x larger than the US)
#1 in 5G (China owns about 40% of 5G patents, and the world's leading 5G vendor and patent holder is none other than Huawei) 


And China is right behind the US in many areas:

#2 in nominal GDP ($13.5 trillion in 2018)
#2 in billionaires (about 400 billionaires)
#2 in millionaires (3.5 million millionaires)
#2 stock market, by market cap (overtook Japan in 2014, became #3 in 2018 and is about to be #2 again in 2019)
#2 importer ($2.1 trillion)
#2 in international patents - according to WIPO (#1 if patents filed in China are included)
#2 in R&D spending - according to US National Science Board (#1 if measured by purchasing power)
#2 in Unicorns (startup companies worth more than $1 billion. 142 in China versus 175 in US)
#2 in VC Funding ($100 billion of venture capital funding for about 2,900 startups)
#1 in Artificial Intelligence (AI) funding, startups and publications (link, link)
#2 in number of satellites in orbit/space (280 satellites as of 2018)


What should the US do? Try to "contain" China? Start World War III to maintain our global hegemony? Become depressed and paranoid? Thankfully, the answer to all those questions is "NO." There are constructive things that America can and should do to prepare for a future where it is no longer the global hegemon. I will discuss those in my next article.

sábado, 2 de febrero de 2019

Año de rupturas


El año 2019 promete ser de ruptura en el marco geopolítico. Acá van algunos argumentos. La nota es de Michael Hudson y salió publicada en nakedcapitalism.com:



Título: Trump’s Brilliant Strategy to Dismember U.S. Dollar Hegemony

Texto: The end of America’s unchallenged global economic dominance has arrived sooner than expected, thanks to the very same Neocons who gave the world the Iraq, Syria and the dirty wars in Latin America. Just as the Vietnam War drove the United States off gold by 1971, its sponsorship and funding of violent regime change wars against Venezuela and Syria – and threatening other countries with sanctions if they do not join this crusade – is now driving European and other nations to create their alternative financial institutions.

This break has been building for quite some time, and was bound to occur. But who would have thought that Donald Trump would become the catalytic agent? No left-wing party, no socialist, anarchist or foreign nationalist leader anywhere in the world could have achieved what he is doing to break up the American Empire. The Deep State is reacting with shock at how this right-wing real estate grifter has been able to drive other countries to defend themselves by dismantling the U.S.-centered world order. To rub it in, he is using Bush and Reagan-era Neocon arsonists, John Bolton and now Elliott Abrams, to fan the flames in Venezuela. It is almost like a black political comedy. The world of international diplomacy is being turned inside-out. A world where there is no longer even a pretense that we might adhere to international norms, let alone laws or treaties.

The Neocons who Trump has appointed are accomplishing what seemed unthinkable not long ago: Driving China and Russia together – the great nightmare of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. They also are driving Germany and other European countries into the Eurasian orbit, the “Heartland” nightmare of Halford Mackinder a century ago.

The root cause is clear: After the crescendo of pretenses and deceptions over Iraq, Libya and Syria, along with our absolution of the lawless regime of Saudi Arabia, foreign political leaders are coming to recognize what world-wide public opinion polls reported even before the Iraq/Iran-Contra boys turned their attention to the world’s largest oil reserves in Venezuela: The United States is now the greatest threat to peace on the planet.

Calling the U.S. coup being sponsored in Venezuela a defense of democracy reveals the Doublethink underlying U.S. foreign policy. It defines “democracy” to mean supporting U.S. foreign policy, pursuing neoliberal privatization of public infrastructure, dismantling government regulation and following the direction of U.S.-dominated global institutions, from the IMF and World Bank to NATO. For decades, the resulting foreign wars, domestic austerity programs and military interventions have brought more violence, not democracy.

In the Devil’s Dictionary that U.S. diplomats are taught to use as their “Elements of Style” guidelines for Doublethink, a “democratic” country is one that follows U.S. leadership and opens its economy to U.S. investment, and IMF- and World Bank-sponsored privatization. The Ukraine is deemed democratic, along with Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries that act as U.S. financial and military protectorates and are willing to treat America’s enemies are theirs too.

A point had to come where this policy collided with the self-interest of other nations, finally breaking through the public relations rhetoric of empire. Other countries are proceeding to de-dollarize and replace what U.S. diplomacy calls “internationalism” (meaning U.S. nationalism imposed on the rest of the world) with their own national self-interest.

This trajectory could be seen 50 years ago (I described it in Super Imperialism [1972] and Global Fracture [1978].) It had to happen. But nobody thought that the end would come in quite the way that is happening. History has turned into comedy, or at least irony as its dialectical path unfolds.

For the past half-century, U.S. strategists, the State Department and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) worried that opposition to U.S. financial imperialism would come from left-wing parties. It therefore spent enormous resources manipulating parties that called themselves socialist (Tony Blair’s British Labour Party, France’s Socialist Party, Germany’s Social Democrats, etc.) to adopt neoliberal policies that were the diametric opposite to what social democracy meant a century ago. But U.S. political planners and Great Wurlitzer organists neglected the right wing, imagining that it would instinctively support U.S. thuggishness.

The reality is that right-wing parties want to get elected, and a populist nationalism is today’s road to election victory in Europe and other countries just as it was for Donald Trump in 2016.

Trump’s agenda may really be to break up the American Empire, using the old Uncle Sucker isolationist rhetoric of half a century ago. He certainly is going for the Empire’s most vital organs. But it he a witting anti-American agent? He might as well be – but it would be a false mental leap to use “quo bono” to assume that he is a witting agent.

After all, if no U.S. contractor, supplier, labor union or bank will deal with him, would Vladimir Putin, China or Iran be any more naïve? Perhaps the problem had to erupt as a result of the inner dynamics of U.S.-sponsored globalism becoming impossible to impose when the result is financial austerity, waves of population flight from U.S.-sponsored wars, and most of all, U.S. refusal to adhere to the rules and international laws that it itself sponsored seventy years ago in the wake of World War II.


Dismantling International Law and Its Courts

Any international system of control requires the rule of law. It may be a morally lawless exercise of ruthless power imposing predatory exploitation, but it is still The Law. And it needs courts to apply it (backed by police power to enforce it and punish violators).

Here’s the first legal contradiction in U.S. global diplomacy: The United States always has resisted letting any other country have any voice in U.S. domestic policies, law-making or diplomacy. That is what makes America “the exceptional nation.” But for seventy years its diplomats have pretended that its superior judgment promoted a peaceful world (as the Roman Empire claimed to be), which let other countries share in prosperity and rising living standards.

At the United Nations, U.S. diplomats insisted on veto power. At the World Bank and IMF they also made sure that their equity share was large enough to give them veto power over any loan or other policy. Without such power, the United States would not join any international organization. Yet at the same time, it depicted its nationalism as protecting globalization and internationalism. It was all a euphemism for what really was unilateral U.S. decision-making.

Inevitably, U.S. nationalism had to break up the mirage of One World internationalism, and with it any thought of an international court. Without veto power over the judges, the U.S. never accepted the authority of any court, in particular the United Nations’ International Court in The Hague. Recently that court undertook an investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, from its torture policies to bombing of civilian targets such as hospitals, weddings and infrastructure. “That investigation ultimately found ‘a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity.”[1]

Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton erupted in fury, warning in September that: “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” adding that the UN International Court must not be so bold as to investigate “Israel or other U.S. allies.”

That prompted a senior judge, Christoph Flügge from Germany, to resign in protest. Indeed, Bolton told the court to keep out of any affairs involving the United States, promising to ban the Court’s “judges and prosecutors from entering the United States.” As Bolton spelled out the U.S. threat: “We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

What this meant, the German judge spelled out was that: “If these judges ever interfere in the domestic concerns of the U.S. or investigate an American citizen, [Bolton] said the American government would do all it could to ensure that these judges would no longer be allowed to travel to the United States – and that they would perhaps even be criminally prosecuted.”

The original inspiration of the Court – to use the Nuremburg laws that were applied against German Nazis to bring similar prosecution against any country or officials found guilty of committing war crimes – had already fallen into disuse with the failure to indict the authors of the Chilean coup, Iran-Contra or the U.S. invasion of Iraq for war crimes.


Dismantling Dollar Hegemony from the IMF to SWIFT

Of all areas of global power politics today, international finance and foreign investment have become the key flashpoint. International monetary reserves were supposed to be the most sacrosanct, and international debt enforcement closely associated.

Central banks have long held their gold and other monetary reserves in the United States and London. Back in 1945 this seemed reasonable, because the New York Federal Reserve Bank (in whose basement foreign central bank gold was kept) was militarily safe, and because the London Gold Pool was the vehicle by which the U.S. Treasury kept the dollar “as good as gold” at $35 an ounce. Foreign reserves over and above gold were kept in the form of U.S. Treasury securities, to be bought and sold on the New York and London foreign-exchange markets to stabilize exchange rates. Most foreign loans to governments were denominated in U.S. dollars, so Wall Street banks were normally name as paying agents.

That was the case with Iran under the Shah, whom the United States had installed after sponsoring the 1953 coup against Mohammed Mosaddegh when he sought to nationalize Anglo-Iranian Oil (now British Petroleum) or at least tax it. After the Shah was overthrown, the Khomeini regime asked its paying agent, the Chase Manhattan bank, to use its deposits to pay its bondholders. At the direction of the U.S. Government Chase refused to do so. U.S. courts then declared Iran to be in default, and froze all its assets in the United States and anywhere else they were able.

This showed that international finance was an arm of the U.S. State Department and Pentagon. But that was a generation ago, and only recently did foreign countries begin to feel queasy about leaving their gold holdings in the United States, where they might be grabbed at will to punish any country that might act in ways that U.S. diplomacy found offensive. So last year, Germany finally got up the courage to ask that some of its gold be flown back to Germany. U.S. officials pretended to feel shocked at the insult that it might do to a civilized Christian country what it had done to Iran, and Germany agreed to slow down the transfer.

But then came Venezuela. Desperate to spend its gold reserves to provide imports for its economy devastated by U.S. sanctions – a crisis that U.S. diplomats blame on “socialism,” not on U.S. political attempts to “make the economy scream” (as Nixon officials said of Chile under Salvador Allende) – Venezuela directed the Bank of England to transfer some of its $11 billion in gold held in its vaults and those of other central banks in December 2018. This was just like a bank depositor would expect a bank to pay a check that the depositor had written.

England refused to honor the official request, following the direction of Bolton and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. As Bloomberg reported: “The U.S. officials are trying to steer Venezuela’s overseas assets to [Chicago Boy Juan] Guaido to help bolster his chances of effectively taking control of the government. The $1.2 billion of gold is a big chunk of the $8 billion in foreign reserves held by the Venezuelan central bank.”

Turkey seemed to be a likely destination, prompting Bolton and Pompeo to warn it to desist from helping Venezuela, threatening sanctions against it or any other country helping Venezuela cope with its economic crisis. As for the Bank of England and other European countries, the Bloomberg report concluded: “Central bank officials in Caracas have been ordered to no longer try contacting the Bank of England. These central bankers have been told that Bank of England staffers will not respond to them.”

This led to rumors that Venezuela was selling 20 tons of gold via a Russian Boeing 777 – some $840 million. The money probably would have ended up paying Russian and Chinese bondholders as well as buying food to relieve the local famine.[4]Russia denied this report, but Reuters has confirmed is that Venezuela has sold 3 tons of a planned 29 tones of gold to the United Arab Emirates, with another 15 tones are to be shipped on Friday, February 1.[5]The U.S. Senate’s Batista-Cuban hardliner Rubio accused this of being “theft,” as if feeding the people to alleviate the U.S.-sponsored crisis was a crime against U.S. diplomatic leverage.

If there is any country that U.S. diplomats hate more than a recalcitrant Latin American country, it is Iran. President Trump’s breaking of the 2015 nuclear agreements negotiated by European and Obama Administration diplomats has escalated to the point of threatening Germany and other European countries with punitive sanctions if they do not also break the agreements they have signed. Coming on top of U.S. opposition to German and other European importing of Russian gas, the U.S. threat finally prompted Europe to find a way to defend itself.

Imperial threats are no longer military. No country (including Russia or China) can mount a military invasion of another major country. Since the Vietnam Era, the only kind of war a democratically elected country can wage is atomic, or at least heavy bombing such as the United States has inflicted on Iraq, Libya and Syria. But now, cyber warfare has become a way of pulling out the connections of any economy. And the major cyber connections are financial money-transfer ones, headed by SWIFT, the acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which is centered in Belgium.

Russia and China have already moved to create a shadow bank-transfer system in case the United States unplugs them from SWIFT. But now, European countries have come to realize that threats by Bolton and Pompeo may lead to heavy fines and asset grabs if they seek to continue trading with Iran as called for in the treaties they have negotiated.

On January 31 the dam broke with the announcement that Europe had created its own bypass payments system for use with Iran and other countries targeted by U.S. diplomats. Germany, France and even the U.S. poodle Britain joined to create INSTEX — Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. The promise is that this will be used only for “humanitarian” aid to save Iran from a U.S.-sponsored Venezuela-type devastation. But in view of increasingly passionate U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream pipeline to carry Russian gas, this alternative bank clearing system will be ready and able to become operative if the United States tries to direct a sanctions attack on Europe.

I have just returned from Germany and seen a remarkable split between that nation’s industrialists and their political leadership. For years, major companies have seen Russia as a natural market, a complementary economy needing to modernize its manufacturing and able to supply Europe with natural gas and other raw materials. America’s New Cold War stance is trying to block this commercial complementarity. Warning Europe against “dependence” on low-price Russian gas, it has offered to sell high-priced LNG from the United States (via port facilities that do not yet exist in anywhere near the volume required). President Trump also is insisting that NATO members spend a full 2 percent of their GDP on arms – preferably bought from the United States, not from German or French merchants of death.

The U.S. overplaying its position is leading to the Mackinder-Kissinger-Brzezinski Eurasian nightmare that I mentioned above. In addition to driving Russia and China together, U.S. diplomacy is adding Europe to the heartland, independent of U.S. ability to bully into the state of dependency toward which American diplomacy has aimed to achieve since 1945.

The World Bank, for instance, traditionally has been headed by a U.S. Secretary of Defense. Its steady policy since its inception is to provide loans for countries to devote their land to export crops instead of giving priority to feeding themselves. That is why its loans are only in foreign currency, not in the domestic currency needed to provide price supports and agricultural extension services such as have made U.S. agriculture so productive. By following U.S. advice, countries have left themselves open to food blackmail – sanctions against providing them with grain and other food, in case they step out of line with U.S. diplomatic demands.

It is worthwhile to note that our global imposition of the mythical “efficiencies” of forcing Latin American countries to become plantations for export crops like coffee and bananas rather than growing their own wheat and corn has failed catastrophically to deliver better lives, especially for those living in Central America. The “spread” between the export crops and cheaper food imports from the U.S. that was supposed to materialize for countries following our playbook failed miserably – witness the caravans and refugees across Mexico. Of course, our backing of the most brutal military dictators and crime lords has not helped either.

Likewise, the IMF has been forced to admit that its basic guidelines were fictitious from the beginning. A central core has been to enforce payment of official inter-government debt by withholding IMF credit from countries under default. This rule was instituted at a time when most official inter-government debt was owed to the United States. But a few years ago Ukraine defaulted on $3 billion owed to Russia. The IMF said, in effect, that Ukraine and other countries did not have to pay Russia or any other country deemed to be acting too independently of the United States. The IMF has been extending credit to the bottomless it of Ukrainian corruption to encourage its anti-Russian policy rather than standing up for the principle that inter-government debts must be paid.

It is as if the IMF now operates out of a small room in the basement of the Pentagon in Washington. Europe has taken notice that its own international monetary trade and financial linkages are in danger of attracting U.S. anger. This became clear last autumn at the funeral for George H. W. Bush, when the EU’s diplomat found himself downgraded to the end of the list to be called to his seat. He was told that the U.S. no longer considers the EU an entity in good standing. In December, “Mike Pompeo gave a speech on Europe in Brussels — his first, and eagerly awaited — in which he extolled the virtues of nationalism, criticised multilateralism and the EU, and said that “international bodies” which constrain national sovereignty “must be reformed or eliminated.”[5] 

Most of the above events have made the news in just one day, January 31, 2019. The conjunction of U.S. moves on so many fronts, against Venezuela, Iran and Europe (not to mention China and the trade threats and moves against Huawei also erupting today) looks like this will be a year of global fracture.

It is not all President Trump’s doing, of course. We see the Democratic Party showing the same colors. Instead of applauding democracy when foreign countries do not elect a leader approved by U.S. diplomats (whether it is Allende or Maduro), they’ve let the mask fall and shown themselves to be the leading New Cold War imperialists. It’s now out in the open. They would make Venezuela the new Pinochet-era Chile. Trump is not alone in supporting Saudi Arabia and its Wahabi terrorists acting, as Lyndon Johnson put it, “Bastards, but they’re our bastards.”

Where is the left in all this? That is the question with which I opened this article. How remarkable it is that it is only right-wing parties, Alternative for Deutschland (AFD), or Marine le Pen’s French nationalists and those of other countries that are opposing NATO militarization and seeking to revive trade and economic links with the rest of Eurasia.

The end of our monetary imperialism, about which I first wrote in 1972 in Super Imperialism, stuns even an informed observer like me. It took a colossal level of arrogance, short-sightedness and lawlessness to hasten its decline — something that only crazed Neocons like John Bolton, Elliot Abrams and Mike Pompeo could deliver for Donald Trump.



Notas:

[1]“It Can’t be Fixed: Senior ICC Judge Quits in Protest of US, Turkish Meddling,” January 31, 2019.

[2] Patricia Laya, Ethan Bronner and Tim Ross, “Maduro Stymied in Bid to Pull $1.2 Billion of Gold From U.K.,” Bloomberg, January 25, 2019. Anticipating just such a double-cross, President Chavez acted already in 2011 to repatriate 160 tons of gold to Caracas from the United States and Europe.

[3] ibid

[4] Corina Pons, Mayela Armas, “Exclusive: Venezuela plans to fly central bank gold reserves to UAE – source,” Reuters, January 31, 2019.

[5] Constanze Stelzenmüller, “America’s policy on Europe takes a nationalist turn,” Financial Times, January 31, 2019.

sábado, 26 de enero de 2019

Venezuela y más allá



Continuamos atentos a los dramáticos acontecimientos de estos días en Venezuela, manteniéndonos al margen de las interpretaciones esquemáticas de los hechos (e.g., estás con el Imperio o estás con la Revolución). De los centenares de notas y artículos sobre el tema, nos resulta particularmente relevante uno que alerta sobre las consecuencias que esta modalidad de toma del poder puede tener en el futuro, no sólo en América Latina sino en el resto del planeta. La nota que sigue es de Wayne Madsen para el sitio web Strategic Culture Fondation:



Título: Trump Recognition of Rival Venezuelan Government Will Set Off a Diplomatic Avalanche

Texto: The Trump administration’s January 23 recognition of Venezuela’s National Assembly leader, Juan Guaidó, as the president of Venezuela, in opposition to the “de facto” and “de jure” president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, threatens an avalanche of nations recognizing leaders of various political factions in countries around the world as legitimate governments. In reaction to Trump’s move, Maduro severed diplomatic relations with Washington and ordered all US embassy personnel in Caracas to leave the country within 72-hours. Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly declared a caretaker government as a rival to the Maduro government with Guaidó as the interim president.

Maduro was recently sworn in for a second term as Venezuela’s president, an action that has been rejected by the US-financed Venezuelan right-wing opposition. US Vice President Mike Pence declared “the United States’ resolute support for the National Assembly of Venezuela as the only legitimate democratic body in the country.” Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS), previously referred to Guaidó as Venezuela’s “interim president.” OAS members Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and Argentina stand ready to recognize Guaidó as president of a rival Venezuelan government. Mexico has rejected the anti-Maduro stance of the “Lima Group,” a right-wing bloc of Latin American states demanding Maduro’s ouster.

We may soon see a situation where the governments of the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, and other countries declare Venezuelan diplomatic personnel accredited by the Maduro government expelled and their embassies turned over to loyalists of the Guaidó government. With the severance of Venezuelan relations with the United States, the Trump administration may turn over the keys of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington to the Guaidó-led opposition.

A similar situation has already been experienced by Syria. In 2013, the Syrian opposition established a rival “interim government” based in Azaz, Syria, that was in opposition to the “de facto” and “de jure” government of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. The “interim government” was backed by Turkey, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and others, but it has all-but-dissolved following Assad’s overall victory in the Syrian civil war. Assad’s government retained the support of Russia, Iran, Iraq, China, North Korea, and Venezuela.

What portends for Venezuela is a situation that will rapidly be copied by other countries that will rush to recognize rival presidents and governments, perhaps even extending support to the establishment of governments-in-exile. Such situations will only add to the destabilization of international relations that already permeates the globe.

There are several diplomatic “dominos” that are following the example of Venezuela. The most pressing situation is in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi was declared the winner of the nation’s contentious presidential election, receiving 38.57 percent of the vote. Tshisekedi is due to replace outgoing president Joseph Kabila. However, supporters of another presidential candidate, Martin Fayulu, have called the former ExxonMobil executive the actual winner of the DRC election. Fayulu won 34.8 percent of the vote. Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a third candidate, who was backed by Kabila, decisively lost, receiving 23.8 percent of the vote.

Already, thanks to the American example being set in Venezuela, various countries are lining up to support either Tshisekedi or Fayulu as the leaders of rival DRC governments. The DRC has a tortured history of rival governments, starting from its independence in 1960. After Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was deposed in a Central Intelligence Agency-led coup in 1960, leftist leader and Lumumba deputy prime minister Antoine Gizenga established the Free State of the Congo in Stanleyville (now Kisangani) as a rival to the Republic of the Congo in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa). Gizenga’s government was recognized by the Soviet Union, China, Mongolia, Poland, East Germany, Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Cuba, Iraq, the United Arab Republic, Ghana, Guinea, the Algerian provisional government, and Morocco. The Leopoldville government continued to be recognized by the United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, and other Western countries.

A secessionist State of Katanga, led by Moise Tshombe and supported by Belgian mercenaries, was established in Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi). At the same time as the Katangan secession, the State of South Kasai was proclaimed in Bakwanga, with Albert Kalonji as president. Although no nation extended diplomatic relations to either Katanga or South Kasai, they received military support from France, Belgium, South Africa, and the Central African Federation (also known as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland).

In a case of déjà vu, the Tshisekedi presidency is supported by South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Algeria, Russia, and China, while Fayulu has the backing of France, Belgium, United Kingdom, the United States, and the Vatican. Zambia, whose president originally backed Fayulu and called for a recount, changed its position to support Tshisekedi. The DRC seemed to have slipped into a time machine, ending up in 1960, with some of the same foreign actors lining up on the same sides in support of rival Congolese leaders.

In Yemen, there are rival governments backed by rival countries. Two leaders claim to be the leaders of the Republic of Yemen. One is led by interim president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who largely rules from exile in Saudi Arabia. The other, which has occupied the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, is led by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the President of the Revolutionary Committee of Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council nations of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman, as well as the United States, Egypt, and Pakistan, recognize Hadi’s government as the legitimate government of Yemen. Iran, Syria, and Lebanese Hezbollah recognize al-Houthi as the legitimate government of Yemen. Supporters of the former independent South Yemen took control of Aden in January 2018 and established the Southern Transitional Council, which, although not enjoying any diplomatic recognition, enjoys the support of the United Arab Emirates.

The Trump administration, which appears to thrive on chaos and instability at home and abroad, has given a jump start to other rival governments. Washington is encouraging nationalist sentiments, both Chinese and Taiwanese, on Taiwan. The “Republic of China” on Taiwan claims to be the government of China. However, the People’s Republic of China considers Taiwan to be a renegade province. China and Taiwan have vied for diplomatic advantage by engaging in “checkbook diplomacy.” China has been successful in weaning away nations recognizing Taiwan by offering them substantial aid packages in return for establishing relations with Beijing and severing them with Taiwan.

With the Trump administration advancing the concept of extending diplomatic relations to rebellious political leaders, other effects of this dangerous policy will soon be felt in nations with rival political power centers or secessionist claims. These include Somalia, Libya, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Vietnam, Laos, Gabon, Nigeria, Niger, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Comoros.

Extending diplomatic relations to rival governments, including those in exile, rarely succeed. After the fall of the Spanish Republic in 1939 to the fascist forces of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the Spanish Republic established a government-in-exile, first in France, and then in Mexico. During its exiled existence, the Spanish Republic was only recognized by Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Venezuela, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Albania.

The plans by the Trump administration to recognize the right-wing opposition in Venezuela as the legitimate government of that nation is as doomed as the Spanish Republic in exile in Mexico and other failed exiled governments, including the East Turkestani government-in-exile in Washington, the Western Kurdistan government-in-exile in London, and the Free City of Danzig government-in-exile in Berlin.

What Trump has unleashed with his actions directed toward Venezuela is a situation where competing governments will be fighting over seats in the United Nations, embassies and consulates abroad, and the right to speak on behalf of their countries in international forums. It is the sort of bedlam upon which Trump, a proud destroyer of institutions, thrives.

It is increasingly being said that Trump’s White House consists of a team of “morons” and “idiots.” When it comes to the White House recognizing Venezuela’s right-wing opposition as the government of Venezuela, those appellations for Trump and his administration have definite merit.

martes, 22 de enero de 2019

Militantes multiuso



Otra instructiva nota de Thierry Meyssan en Red Voltaire sobre los múltiples usos geoestratégicos de los “militantes” del Emirato Islámico, Daesh y siglas afines. La foto de arriba muestra al consejero estadounidense para la seguridad nacional, John Bolton. Acá va:



Título: El uso del terrorismo según John Bolton

Epígrafe: Después haber privado al Emirato Islámico del territorio que le había asignado en tierras de Irak y Siria, Estados Unidos pretende reciclar una parte de sus mercenarios para utilizarlos de otra manera. El consejero estadounidense para la seguridad nacional, John Bolton, ha definido nuevos objetivos, nuevos socios y nuevos métodos. El dispositivo es secreto, así que lo conocemos sólo a través de lo que ya ha comenzado a hacerse. Este trabajo explora ese mundo de violencia.

Texto: En 1978, Zbignew Brzezinski, consejero de seguridad nacional de James Carter, el entonces presidente de Estados Unidos, decidió utilizar la Hermandad Musulmana contra los soviéticos y envió árabes a luchar junto a la oposición contra el régimen comunista afgano. Este último solicitó la ayuda de la Unión Soviética y el Ejército Rojo acabó empantanado en un conflicto del cual no podía salir victorioso.

En Afganistán, la Hermandad Musulmana no recibió armamento de la CIA porque esta no logró que el Congreso le otorgara la autorización que necesitaba para una operación de aquella envergadura, así que fue Israel quien puso las armas. Ante el éxito de aquella operación, árabes y afganos fueron utilizados después en numerosos teatros de operaciones. También resultó que la Hermandad Musulmana, utilizando armas proporcionadas por Israel e Irak, decidió probar suerte contra Siria, en 1978 y 1982. Un representante de la Hermandad Musulmana fue incorporado al estado mayor de la OTAN durante la agresión contra Yugoslavia en Kosovo.

Aunque el estatus de la Hermandad Musulmana como tropa auxiliar de la OTAN se interrumpió a finales del paso de Bill Clinton por la Casa Blanca, la colaboración entre la cofradía y la CIA siempre se mantuvo. Luego se incrementó con la agresión contra Libia, bajo la administración Obama, donde la Hermandad Musulmana proporcionó prácticamente toda las tropas terrestres utilizadas por la OTAN. Un miembro de la Hermandad Musulmana fue incluso incorporado al Consejo de Seguridad Nacional de Estados Unidos. Posteriormente, durante la agresión contra Siria, el LandCom de la OTAN, con sede en la ciudad turca de Izmir (Esmirna) coordinó el uso de las fuerzas yihadistas.

La administración Trump se opuso, como cuestión de principio, a que las fuerzas armadas estadounidenses recurran al uso de grupos terroristas. Llegó entonces para la Casa Blanca el momento de redefinir el papel de la Hermandad Musulmana.

Aunque no se conoce aún la nueva estrategia trazada por el consejero de seguridad nacional, John Bolton, numerosos indicios ya permiten percibir sus contornos.


Daesh

A principios de 2018, las fuerzas especiales estadounidenses ilegalmente presentes en Siria exfiltraron a miles de miembros del Emirato Islámico (Daesh) y los enviaron al extranjero. En mayo de 2018, le general iraní Rahim Safavi, consejero del ayatola Khamenei para los temas militares, acusó a Estados Unidos de organizar el traslado de los combatientes de Daesh hacia Afganistán.

Unos 7.000 hombres de Daesh se encuentran actualmente en Afganistán, pero ya no apoyan a los talibanes. Estos últimos son ahora contrarios a cualquier presencia extranjera en Afganistán. Por consiguiente, los hombres de Daesh luchan ahora contra los talibanes afganos.

Según Qari Muhammad Yussuf Ahmadi, vocero del Emirato Islámico de Afganistán –o sea, de los talibanes–,

«Los invasores americanos y sus lacayos realizaron anoche [el 12 de enero de 2019] un ataque contra un campamento de los muyahidines, donde estaban detenidos miembros de Daesh, en Pani Bus, distrito de Jwand, provincia de Bagdis. Las fuerzas conjuntas enemigas mataron a 2 guardias y se llevaron a 40 detenidos miembros de Daesh. Parece que los invasores americanos y sus comparsas de la administración de Kabul realizaron ese ataque para ayudar a los miembros de Daesh allí detenidos. Cada vez que los muyahidines del Emirato Islámico [los talibanes] han librado combates contra Daesh, los invasores americanos han ayudado a Daesh y han bombardeado las posiciones de los muyahidines. Exactamente como cuando los muyahidines de Darzab, distrito de Jowzjan, vencieron a Daesh y estuvieron a punto de erradicarlo [en agosto pasado], los invasores americanos y la administración de Kabul vinieron juntos a ayudar a 200 miembros de Daesh sacándolos de allí en helicópteros.»

Es entonces cuando el Centro de Lucha contra el Terrorismo de la academia militar estadounidense de West Point publica un estudio histórico sobre las divergencias entre los muyahidines durante la guerra contra los soviéticos en Afganistán. Ese documento recuerda que en 1989, durante la retirada del Ejército Rojo y cuando Osama ben Laden regresó a Arabia Saudita, jóvenes miembros de la Hermandad Musulmana cuestionaron la falta de rigor religioso de sus jefes. Aquellos jóvenes crearon la «Escuela de Jalalabad», mucho más estricta, que comenzó a acusar a estos y aquellos de «falta de religiosidad» y a excluirlos de la religión (takfir), fue ese –según dicen– el conflicto que resurgió en 2014, provocando la ruptura entre al-Qaeda y Daesh.

Esta mirada al pasado no debe hacernos olvidar que la Hermandad Musulmana siguió acogiendo no sólo a los talibanes sino a todos los muyahidines afganos, hasta que fue asesinado Ahmed Chah Massud (quien también había sido miembro de la Hermandad Musulmana), el 9 de septiembre de 2001, justo 2 días antes de los atentados de Nueva York y el Pentágono. Durante dos décadas, Afganistán se convirtió en el lugar donde se formaban combatientes provenientes del Cáucaso ruso. Hoy en día, los talibanes son mucho más cuidadosos en la selección de sus aliados y amigos. Actualmente controlan el 60% del territorio afgano y ya no se basan en criterios religiosos sino nacionalistas.

Durante la guerra contra los soviéticos, la Hermandad Musulmana estuvo vinculada principalmente al ex primer ministro Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, quien la representaba en Afganistán. El 22 de septiembre de 2016, con el respaldo de la administración Obama, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar obtuvo el perdón del nuevo Estado afgano y la ONU retiró su nombre de las listas de terroristas.

La llegada de Daesh a Afganistán se produce en momentos en que, desde julio de 2018, la administración Trump trata de negociar con los talibanes. Contactos preliminares tuvieron lugar en Qatar entre estos y la embajadora estadounidense Alice Wells, asistente de Mike Pompeo para el Asia Central. Las negociaciones se desarrollaron bajo la dirección del embajador estadounidense Zalmay Khalilzad, en septiembre y octubre, a pesar de la inquietud del gobierno afgano, que envió un representante sin que este fuese admitido en el diálogo. Antes de convertirse en estadounidense, Khalilzad luchó contra los soviéticos junto a los talibanes, pashtunes como él. Después de hacerse estadounidense, Khalilzad se convirtió en neoconservador y fue nombrado embajador en la ONU. Eso fue en 2007, cuando el Senado rechazó la nominación de John Bolton.


Los Muyahidines del Pueblo

La semana pasada, la jefa de los Muyahidines del Pueblo (MEK), Maryam Radjavi, residente en Tirana, la capital albanesa, llegó a Kabul en visita oficial. Allí se reunió con el presidente del Consejo Nacional de Seguridad y ex embajador afgano en Estados Unidos, Hamdullah Mohib. La señora Radjavi debe viajar próximamente a Herat, en el distrito de Shindans, para establecer allí una base militar de MEK. Según el diario pakistaní Ummat, el Pentágono entrenó allí 2.000 Muyahidines del Pueblo en octubre de 2012.

A pesar de que tienen denominaciones similares, los muyahidines de la Hermandad Musulmana, que son árabes sunnitas, no tienen nada que ver con los Muyahidines del Pueblo (MEK), que son persas chiitas. Lo único que estos dos grupos tienen en común es el hecho de haber sido manipulados por Estados Unidos y la práctica del terrorismo.

Desde el año 2013, los Muyahidines del Pueblo, que estaban en Irak, se trasladaron a Albania con ayuda de Estados Unidos. Varias empresas israelíes construyeron para ellos una pequeña ciudad en suelo albanés. Pero el 23 de junio de 2014, ante 80 000 miembros de MEK y 600 personalidades occidentales, Maryam Radjavi pronunció un largo discurso donde se regocijaba ante la conquista de Irak por parte de Daesh. Es importante recordar que la progresión de Daesh en Irak había sido organizada con ayuda del general iraquí Ezzat Ibrahim al-Douri, antiguo brazo derecho de Saddam Hussein y, bajo ese estatus, protector de los Muyahidines del Pueblo.

El estadounidense John Bolton mantiene vínculos con los Muyahidines del Pueblo desde la época de la administración Bush. Y esos vínculos se fortalecieron con la participación de Bolton –específicamente en 2010 y en 2017– en las concentraciones que los Muyahidines del Pueblo realizan anualmente en la localidad francesa de Villepinte, participación que le valió ser remunerado con 40.000 dólares. Hoy convertido en consejero de seguridad nacional, Bolton está reuniendo a los yihadistas de Daesh con los Muyahidines del Pueblo encabezados por Maryam Radjavi para luchar contra un objetivo común.

El blanco más inmediato de esa alianza debería ser Irán, que tiene una larga frontera con Afganistán, frontera que por demás muy difícil de defender.