sábado, 25 de febrero de 2017

Habla Francisco Louçã


En el océano de idioteces que pasan hoy por "izquierda" en la Unión Europea, encontramos a un tipo que vale la pena leer. Se llama Francisco Louçã. Leemos en Wikipedia:  "Francisco Anacleto Louçã (Lisboa, 12 de noviembre de 1956) es un político y economista portugués. Líder del Bloque de Izquierda (BE) hasta el 11 de noviembre de 2012. Elegido diputado en 1999 y reelegido en 2002, 2005, 2009 y 2011. Candidato en las Elecciones presidenciales portuguesas de 2006." 

La nota que sigue es de su autoría y fue publicada en un espacio de debate del diario español Público.es:


Título: ¿Se abren o se cierran oportunidades para el cambio en Europa?

Subtítulo: Europa está cambiando, ¿pero hacia dónde?

Texto: En las notas que siguen me aproximo a tres temas, con el deseo de fomentar o facilitar la discusión con las lectoras y los lectores de “Público”. En primer lugar, recordar las predicciones para el 2016 y cómo confirmaron casi todo lo peor de lo que podría suceder. En segundo lugar, describo brevemente la post-crisis y efectos de alto riesgo en Europa. Por último, y antes de algunas conclusiones sobre lo que puede cambiar en Europa, una nota sobre los mayores riesgos inmediatos.


Lo que podía ser peor en 2016

A finales de 2015, varias instituciones publicaron sus listas de pesadillas acerca de todo lo peor que podría suceder en el nuevo año. En resumen, tenían tres tipos de riesgos, lo que llaman “cisnes negros” o aquello que es improbable y que, a pesar de serlo, puede incluso ocurrir: el Brexit y la crisis europea; la crisis financiera y degradación económica; y la elección de Trump y crisis de la globalización. Se suponía entonces que estos serían escenarios extremos y poco probables.

La agencia Bloomberg, basándose en encuestas de los principales empresarios, confeccionó entonces un ranking de pesadillas y presentó un cuadro para calcular sus efectos. Las tres peores serían un ataque de Daesh a los oleoductos en Oriente Medio, que empujaría hacia arriba el precio del petróleo, el Brexit y un ciberataque destructivo contra la banca internacional.

La elección de Trump, por el contrario, que pensaban que sólo era posible si Clinton desistía, apenas aparecía en las pesadillas de Bloomberg para 2016. Se consideró que formaba parte de lo casi imposible, pero se suponía que podría provocar una gran incertidumbre que favorecería a la industria militar, un acuerdo con Rusia para una nueva Guerra Fría desplazada hacia el Pacífico y efectos impredecibles sobre el orden internacional. Para la Unión Europea, la pesadilla sería la salida del Reino Unido, el debilitamiento de Merkel y la marcha atrás del Banco Central Europeo en la política de expansión monetaria. En economía, el peor escenario sería un crecimiento débil de China o la aceleración del calentamiento global con efectos peligrosos para la agricultura y el acceso al agua. Otras fuentes de tensión podrían encontrarse en Brasil si Rousseff fuera apartada del poder y en Venezuela si se prolongara la crisis.

Tal como se puede ver, casi todas estas pesadillas se hicieron realidad.

Otra institución que planteó posibles escenarios fue The Economist: el peor, aunque con baja probabilidad, sería la elección de Trump, que desestabilizaría la economía global. La Unión Europea podría fracturarse si el Reino Unido la abandonara, si la crisis de refugiados creara nuevas tensiones internas que afectaran a Merkel y si Grecia fuera empujada a abandonar el euro.

De todo eso ya tenemos bastante, pero podía ser peor. En primer lugar, la crisis europea: muros contra los refugiados y aumento de la xenofobia, la aventura de Cameron con el referéndum británico, la sangría de Grecia… Pero luego vinieron más acontecimientos: el referéndum en Italia con la derrota de Renzi y las elecciones en Austria, que confirmaron la fuerza de la extrema derecha y el desvanecimiento de los partidos tradicionales. Y en 2017 tenemos elecciones francesas, holandesas y alemanas (y quizás italianas). Cada uno de estos procesos sólo puede acentuar la crisis europea.

En segundo lugar, la victoria de Trump. Amenaza inmediata, el repudio del Acuerdo de París sobre el cambio climático. Pero también hay que mirar hacia el gobierno que se perfila, con el peso de los tiburones de Wall Street y de la industria petrolera, los militares belicistas y la resurrección de los profetas ultraconservadores. Podemos ver lo que se nos viene encima: maná de los dioses para las finanzas y el neoliberalismo emparejado con el autoritarismo, como en sus peores momentos.

Pero existe todavía otra pesadilla que está por llegar: una nueva crisis financiera. La pregunta, por cierto, no es si esta crisis se producirá, sino cuándo se va a producir. El aumento de la volatilidad de los mercados financieros y la acumulación de la deuda son las consecuencias de una política amenazadora: el BCE puso dinero en circulación que revalorizó las acciones pero no impulsó la demanda y en particular la inversión, mientras que las tasas de interés negativas estrecharon los márgenes bancarios y estimularon nuevas operaciones financieras de riesgo, de las que el Deutsche Bank es un ejemplo (el valor nocional de los derivados es superior al valor del PIB mundial). Es decir, nuestro problema mundial son las soluciones al problema.

Al finalizar el año pasado, nos encontramos con una crisis de la demanda mundial y con una escasa capacidad para responder a una recesión, porque los bancos centrales no pueden hacer mucho.

Tomen nota, por favor: el centro del peligro está en Europa, que acumuló los mayores errores durante toda la década y lo pagará ahora con la ‘trumpificación’ de su política en Francia y Alemania.


Europa en el torbellino

La anterior crisis financiera, desencadenada por el colapso de las subprime a partir de verano de 2007, fue una oportunidad para cambiar la brújula. En el caso de la Unión Europea, el crash y la prolongada recesión fueron el contexto, la justificación y el motor para realizar más cambios en los sistemas sociales, sometiendo la disputa social por los salarios a un nuevo mecanismo de control y transferencia de ingresos para el capital.

En crisis anteriores, el mecanismo de ajuste fue la depreciaciación de los salarios a través de la inflación o los aumentos de impuestos, reforzada mediante la depreciación de la moneda. Las políticas fiscales y monetarias se utilizaron para devaluar una parte del capital y sobre todo para devaluar el trabajo, ajustando de esta manera el proceso de acumulación.

En las condiciones actuales, ninguno de estos instrumentos se encuentra disponible, al menos en la zona euro. Así que para este cambio gradual de régimen, el aumento del desempleo estructural se ha convertido en el instrumento más importante para reducir los salarios directos, y el aumento de los impuestos para reducir el salario indirecto. La Figura 1 muestra el aumento del desempleo en la zona euro durante los primeros años de la recesión, y conviene señalar que el resultado agregado oculta los extremos, especialmente el crecimiento exponencial del paro en España, Portugal y Grecia.


Gráfico 1: El desempleo durante la gran recesión


F: Mark Blyth (2013). Promedio en toda la zona del euro en 2013


Este gráfico, como los siguientes, muestra la evolución durante los años inmediatamente posteriores a la crisis financiera, para dejar claros los factores agravantes de las contradicciones y la posibilidad de haber optado por una alternativa. La verdad es que esto es la historia de un fracaso (o del suceso de la destrucción): ante la crisis que el desempleo pone de manifiesto, se elige la solución de la austeridad, que agrava la crisis. La austeridad siempre fue una “idea peligrosa”, tal como señaló Blyth.

Para este análisis, el indicador del desempleo es preferible al del PIB, ya que es más representativo de la evolución de la situación social y no tanto de un efecto de combinación de señales posiblemente contradictorias. Y este indicador describe el proceso de desintegración de las sociedades europeas, en particular de protectorados bajo la política de austeridad: en promedio, en la zona del euro, desde el tiempo de las subprime hasta ahora, el desempleo se ha duplicado.

La justificación para esta corrección ‘austeritária’, que condujo a un aumento del desempleo, fue la insostenibilidad de las deudas soberanas (deudas públicas), alimentadas por un gasto público excesivo e ineficiente. Sin embargo, como se puede ver en los gráficos de Mark Blyth, este es un caso en el que la causa parece ser consecuencia de la consecuencia o en al que la consecuencia parece ser causa de la causa: el aumento del gasto público se produce después de la crisis y no antes crisis.

El Gráfico 2 muestra como creció el peso de las deudas soberanas a lo largo de cuatro décadas, siendo evidente que se estabilizó durante los primeros años del nuevo siglo, para dispararse a continuación con la recesión.


Gráfico 2: Evolución del peso de las deudas soberanas hasta los programas de ajuste en Grecia, Irlanda y Portugal, 1970-2011

F: ibid. Media no ponderada de la deuda soberana promedio de trece países de la OCDE, incluyendo las economías dominantes


Lo mismo ocurrió en cada uno de los países, si se toman por separado. Ocurrió incluso en Alemania: se produjo un aumento del gasto público como respuesta a la depresión y, en consecuencia, el peso de la deuda en el Producto creció significativamente, pasando de cerca del 65% en 2008 al 80% en 2011.


Gráfico 3: ¿El buen ejemplo de Alemania?
F: ibid.


La política del gobierno alemán era la misma que la que critica o impide que se aplique en otros países: amplió la política presupuestaria para estimular la demanda, como respuesta a la crisis. Pero no permite que esto se lleve a cabo en otros países, a los que impone condiciones de austeridad, es decir, de política recesiva para responder a la recesión. En consecuencia, en los países sometidos a rescate y que, no siendo centros financieros, están obligados a pagar un interés excesivo por la financiación en los mercados internacionales, el déficit y la deuda se agravan por efecto de la recesión, al tiempo que aumenta el desempleo y las economías pierden capacidad de producción, o sea, que pierden la capacidad de resolver la crisis recesiva.


Saturno y sus hijos

¿Así que todo lo peor que podía pasar en 2016 llegó a pasar? Calma. Los pronósticos apocalípticos eran un poco exagerados y todavía hemos de ver lo peor. Estas predicciones vinieron de todas partes, es cierto: los adversarios de Brexit anunciaron la catástrofe si el Reino Unido optaba por salir de la Unión Europea, muchas gentes del continente continental suspiraban para que llegara un momento clarificador que iluminara sobre los errores de la institución europea. Y, sin embargo, “los mercados”, el termómetro de nuestros días, no dijeron ni mu. No hay recesión en el Reino Unido, ni los capitales huyeron, ni la Unión desbancó.

Lo mismo en Italia. El referéndum se volvió en contra de Renzi y de sus planes de concentración de poder, forzando los resultados de las elecciones (él el primer ministro sin haberse presentado a las elecciones), pero “los mercados” se mantuvieron en lo suyo. En resumen, el Brexit todavía necesitará su tiempo y en Italia no hay aun un tipo de Brexit.

El problema empieza a partir de ahora, porque, como nos dicen, calma, Italia no está por el Brexit, no hay que asustarse, y luego Francia tampoco está por el Brexit, como Italia, Austria es un lugar tranquilo, Holanda no es Francia, Alemania no es Holanda, todos los casos son diferentes y todos tienen el mismo problema. Eso significa que tenemos el peor de los problemas: la Unión, como Saturno, quiere devorar a sus hijos. Calma, por lo tanto, pero atención, porque hay que tener en cuenta que la cosa está peor incluso de lo que parece.

Se fue Cameron y se fue Renzi. Hay que tener en cuenta la coincidencia: ambos tenían amplia mayoría parlamentaria. No les fallaron las instituciones, fue el pueblo, hasta el punto de que, confundidos en el intento cesarista de un referéndum, se embarcaron en ambos casos en juegos políticos que precipitaron su caída. Hollande también se va y probablemente Dijsselbloem también se irá, o quien lo sostiene, y vamos a ver quién más. Saturno va tras todos sus hijos, metódico y voraz, mientras los creadores de las normas europeas y sus líderes van creando vacíos a su alrededor.

De hecho, la UE no tiene un liderazgo convincente. Tiene una jefatura autoritaria, pero renuente y postrada, Merkel, que, tras el fracaso del acuerdo con Turquía sobre los refugiados, se retiró para estar pendiente de sus elecciones (tal como se ha recordado, en Europa no se hará nada hasta octubre de 2017, cuando en Alemania vayan a las urnas y poca cosa se hará de manera diferente a partir de entonces, ya que la correlación de fuerzas será todavía peor). La UE también tiene también bomberos pirómanos en los países del Este, celebra cumbres “refundadoras” cada semestre, genera discursos inconexos y, en ausencia de cualquier otra cosa, elabora llamamientos a los “valores” para conmover a los creyentes. En esencia, no sabe qué hacer y no hace nada.

En esta parálisis, el peligro es Saturno, que devora a los gobernantes, les conduce a la irrelevancia y deja pasar el tiempo. Perdida la capacidad de responder a escala nacional a la crisis económica, se vuelven rehenes de las agencias de calificación; renunciando a la democracia parlamentaria para votar los presupuestos, resuelven con reglas sin legitimidad; reducen la política al arte de la espera de un milagro y quedan reducidos a espectáculo. Y el espectáculo no es suficiente para entretener durante todo el día.

Es por eso por lo que debe asustarnos la calma de los “mercados” en Italia y en el Reino Unido. La prolongación de la agonía de una recuperación mediocre que deja a los jóvenes en el desempleo, hacer la vista gorda a las guerras del petróleo y los muros contra sus refugiados, son las opciones que agravan las divisiones, la desconfianza y la corrosión social, es decir, esto si que es el trabajo de Saturno.

La Unión se destruye por dentro, porque es divergencia y no es Unión. En otras palabras, la calma Europea es solamente miedo. Miedo a que se necesite inyectar rápidamente varios miles de millones en el banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (Nota: esto fue escrito a mediados de diciembre, antes de la decisión sobre el Monte), miedo de que venga después Unicredit, miedo lo que pueda dar de sí el Deutsche Bank, el miedo al dominó.

Pero, sobre todo, Europa tiene miedo de todas las elecciones. Es esto lo que se viene abajo. La diferencia es la siguiente: ya estuvieron Berlusconi y Sarkozy en el Consejo Europeo, como Trumps avant la lettre, la cosa iba bien desde los tratados si pusieran en pie para hacer cumplir las reglas del euro; ahora el virus de la desconfianza rompe esquemas, descompone a los partidos de la postguerra, se convierte en un calvario de desmantelamiento. Es la obra de Saturno.


Conclusiones para la política

Esto me permite presentar seis conclusiones, revisando los argumentos aquí compilados y sugiriendo otros para el debate.

- La primera es que las crisis forman parte del pulso del capitalismo, aunque en las últimas dos décadas las burbujas especulativas hayan tenido mayor volumen e impacto como resultado de la globalización y la liberalización financiera.

- La segunda es que esta combinación de acumulación de dificultades por medio de la extracción de los ingresos financieros ha creado un proceso de endeudamiento insostenible, que condujo a la crisis de las subprime de 2007 y a la recesión de 2008, después de un largo período recesivo.

- La tercera es que este proceso de endeudamiento se vio alimentado por la creciente desigualdad que, al igual que en la década anterior a la primera depresión (1929), estimuló la transferencia de ingresos de los trabajadores y pensionistas hacia las finanzas, primero a través de la deuda privada y luego de la deuda pública.

- La cuarta es que la política de austeridad orientada hacia el aumento del desempleo tiene un efecto estratégico: debilitar el poder de negociación de los trabajadores y de los movimientos sociales y obtener la privatización los bienes públicos esenciales, y se diferencia así de las políticas de respuesta a la primera gran depresión, con las que se procuraba aumentar la inversión para crear puestos de trabajo.

- La quinta conclusión es que la recesión y austeridad generan el espiral de la deuda, por lo que la austeridad es la causa más que la cura de la depresión. La austeridad es además una idea peligrosa. Para responder a la depresión es preciso poner fin a la austeridad y, por lo tanto, la reestructuración de las deudas.

- La sexta conclusión es que para reestructurar las deudas es preciso abandonar el euro e imponer y reconvertir la deuda en la nueva moneda nacional, devaluada para promover la sustitución de importaciones y mejorar los saldos comerciales y, sobre todo, permitindo asi la emisión monetaria y, por tanto, dejar de depender de la financiación a través de los mercados financieros, recuperando un banco central nacional. Después de la experiencia del gobierno griego, no es posible que la izquierda siga fomentando la ilusión de que la Unión Europea permite una negociación amable para un acuerdo que salve las economías endeudadas. Si Grecia ha enseñado algo ha sido que el castigo político y la destrucción de un país serán los instrumentos de la Comisión y del BCE para garantizar la protección de los acreedores y las rentas perpetuas para apoyar la financiación.


El centro y la izquierda en la evolución europea

Con la actual correlación de fuerzas y con la polarización política que la victoria de Trump acentúa, la pregunta más difícil de responder es si las izquierdas pueden protagonizar la alternativa. Deben hacerlo, en todo caso. Como que la Unión es la divergencia, caminará hacia la descomposición o recomposición y, si los movimientos populares no tienen la capacidad de determinar las políticas, estos serán los primeros objetivos del populismo y de las instituciones que lo instigan. Así, la recuperación de la iniciativa por parte de los movimientos populares significa la movilización de las mayorías que, en este contexto de desintegración, puede levantar al mismo tiempo la legitimidad democrática (y por lo tanto las identidades de los estados-nación, que son el único sostén de la democracia) y un proyecto de lucha por el pleno empleo (y, por tanto, la reestructuración de la deuda con la salida del euro y la nacionalización de los bancos).

¿Puede esta mayoría hacerse con el centro? No puede, o al menos no se puede hacer de forma estable de tal manera que responda a la crisis europea. El centro está desapareciendo, porque los partidos socialistas, al igual que otras formaciones, fueron absorbidos por la doble idea del predominio de las finanzas (que es el modo de reproducción social de la élite) y la idolatría del neoliberalismo (que es la ideología autoidentificadora y constitucional de la UE). En casi todos los países, empezando por Alemania, los líderes del PS forman parte de los engranajes de la máquina de justificación de la austeridad, la privatización y la desregulación. El discurso sobre los “valores” de Europa se ha convertido en el mantra que unifica a las élites gobernantes y que preside su educación y reproducción, sin admitir excepciones ni disensiones.

La doctrina y las reglas de la libertad de circulación de capitales, que destruye la posibilidad de que las políticas de expansión de la demanda o de reorganización de la oferta y de los sistemas de producción, es el dogma que se escribe en los tratados europeos, blindados a alteraciones que puedan favorecer políticas anti-cíclicas. En otras palabras, la Unión Europea sólo reconoce las políticas destructivas para responder a una recesión y sólo se reconoce en el discurso que las ensalza.

Es cierto que ha habido algunas excepciones en el campo de los partidos socialistas en los últimos tiempos: la revuelta de las bases del Partidos Laborista contra Blairismo con la elección y reelección de Corbyn, y la aceptación por parte del PS portugués de un acuerdo con la izquierda, en contra de toda su historia. Estos casos muestran que las políticas de izquierdas tienen que encontrar caminos unitarios, siempre que se puedan medir en logros sociales importantes, que se contrapongan a la cultura de sumisión a la austeridad. Si el nuevo gobierno portugués aumenta el salario mínimo a pesar de la ira de la patronal y de la presión europea, si se compromete a no privatizar y a dar marcha atrás todo lo posible en esa política a pesar de las presiones internacionales, a reducir los impuestos sobre el trabajo y a reequilibrar el sistema fiscal en detrimento de los grandes patrimonios, si se incrementan las pensiones y se recupera los salarios recortados durante el período de la troika, entonces eso ayudaría a recomponer la correlación de fuerzas. Así que hay que poner mucha atención en el contenido específico de la política y la responsabilidad de luchar por nuestra gente.

Pero éstas son excepciones creadas por las circunstancias. En Alemania, el SPD es parte de la mayoría Merkel; y tanto Gabriel como Schauble se alinean en el ataque contra Grecia. En España o en Francia, el centro se va fragmentando por haber seguido la orientación que criticó y contra la que prometía ofrecer una alternativa.

El centro vive bajo una amenaza. La amenaza es su propia ortodoxia neoliberal y, en particular, el riesgo de una próxima crisis financiera que acentúa la agresión económica neoliberal, es decir, la trumpificación de la política europea. Mediante la adopción de políticas neoliberales, el centro ha dado la victoria a la derecha en casi todos los países y, después de diez años de recesión y estancamiento, la situación social y la capacidad de respuesta es disminuida por la austeridad. Europa está menos preparada para responder a una nueva crisis: los bancos centrales no pueden actuar con impacto rápido (los tipos de interés ya no pueden bajar), el desempleo es mayor que en cualquier período anterior a las recesiones pasadas, y la vulnerabilidad social es más pronunciada. La desigualdad, que es el nombre de la explotación en la sociedad de clases, es ahora mayor que antes de la crisis de 2007-2008. Conclusión: una nueva crisis financiera provocará políticas sociales más duras y continuará destruyendo el centro.

Europa está cambiando, sí, pero sus instituciones forman parte de esta deriva hacia la derecha. La UE se ha convertido en una máquina para la hegemonía de la derecha, su agenda se reduce a la política neoliberal y aplica únicamente la vieja solución: búsqueda de más valor absoluto, más tiempo de trabajo, con menores salarios y pensiones más bajas, menor salario indirecto (escuela, salud, políticas sociales) y más sumisión.

A los analistas y lectores, una nota: no hay que olvidar nunca lo esencial. Todo lo que está en juego es la distribución de lo que se produce.

A los militantes de izquierda, sólo un consejo: no piensen que la música que sonará será la misma de siempre. La historia comienza como farsa puede terminar como tragedia. Todo depende de quién esté y de lo que hagamos.

viernes, 24 de febrero de 2017

Rusia y sus medios "liberales"


Mientras en Occidente las corporaciones mediáticas mienten a lo pavote sobre casi cualquier cosa, en otras partes del mundo no se crean que la cosa es mucho mejor. Rescatamos del sitio web SouthFront una interesante nota sobre las actividades de los medios autodenominados "liberales" en Rusia. Quiénes son y quién los financia. Acá va:


Título: Russian “Liberal” Media’s Foreign Sponsors

Texto: The hysteria concerning the alleged Russian “interference” in the US presidential election appears to be a mirror projection of techniques that have been used against Russia, with little or no success, with the aim of  interfering in its political processes.

While the propaganda campaign aimed at Russia has sought to foster the impression that the country’s media is strictly controlled, in actuality the “liberal opposition” newspapers and radio stations have in the past run articles and stories that, due to their nature, would be unthinkable in the “free” West. Controversial stories over the last few years have included:

* Allegations Russian Ground Forces units are operating on the Donbass and suffering hundreds of fatalities which were being covered up by the Russian government.  By comparison, it is unheard of for any Western media outlet to run stories asserting the US or NATO military is in combat in contradiction of official government statements.

* Endorsing the Maidan coup in Ukraine that not only brought down a democratically elected president but also de-facto destroyed the country’s political system and economy. By contrast, US media are unanimous in their criticism of any government in Latin America which is not subservient to Washington, even when its policies serve the people of that country, as in the case of Cuba.

* Repeatedly and consistently referring to the civil war in Ukraine as a “Russian invasion” or “Russian aggression”. Again, no NATO military operation, no matter how unlawful, will ever be described in a “free” Western press as an act of aggression.

* Articles and opinion pieces asserting the Russian government is directly responsible for the shoot-down of Flight MH17 over Novorossia, and that such action is a crime against humanity which warrants prosecution at the Hague. It is as if Western media were consistently running stories arguing Fight MH370, which went missing over the Indian Ocean, was shot down by the US Navy which then covered up the incident.

* Claims that Russian operations in support and at the behest of the legitimate government in Syria likewise represent crimes against humanity, while supporting the jihadists.

* An “investigation” of the 1999 terrorist attacks that cost the lives of several hundred Russian citizens in three cities that concluded the apartment houses were blown up by the FSB. It is as if New York Times’ investigation of 9/11 terrorist attacks concluded it was a CIA plot.

These media outlets’ main audience is not the Russian public but rather Western funders and supporters. Novaya Gazeta funding sources include the Netherlands and the Soros Foundation. The Dozhd TV Channel financing is opaque–its owners claim they are financing the project using own funds, which must be bottomless considering the channel has not turned a profit since it began operating. Ekho Moskvy is receiving financial support from the Voice of America Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is also supporting other “liberal” news outlets. These and other Russian media outlets figure prominently in the Fiscal Year 2017 proposed federal budget appropriation for the US State Department. Moreover, journalists working for these outlets have received a broad array of awards for journalism issued by a number of Western governments and West-controlled so-called non-governmental organizations.

Another example of a Internet media outlet created in order to push the “pro-liberal” agenda is Meduza. It was financed by opposition oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovskiy and so-called “anonymous investors.” In spite of Meduza being registered and based in Latvia, it focuses on the Russian audience and is promoting globalist agenda in Russia.

In addition to resources which are openly promoting anti-Russian propaganda, there is an array of major media outlets whose informational policy demonstrates they are pursuing political goals quite divorced from Russia’s interests as a sovereign state.

In the meantime, genuinely accomplished investigative journalists such as Julian Assange are facing politically motivated prosecutions, and there are efforts to exclude English-language Russia-based media such as RT and Sputnik from Western markets for allegedly “spreading propaganda.”

This state of affairs also raises the question why is the Russian government tolerant of media beholden to foreign sponsors. Part of the answer lies with the guarantees of the freedom of speech and press contained in the Russian Constitution, though the support of these outlets by important factions of the economic and political elite also plays a role–the Ekho Moskvy radio station is part of the Gazprom Media Holding, for example. Ultimately, however, the relatively unfettered existence of these media is a reflection of the Russian government’s confidence in its policies and its popular support, in sharp contrast to the panicked “fake news” reaction to the loss of Hillary Clinton that resulted in widespread calls to limit the freedom of speech in Western countries, lest the “wrong” candidates win elections.

Still, this is an intolerable state of affairs, a leftover from the 1990s era of Russia’s political and economic weakness, when it seemed it might become nothing more than a politically impotent supplier of raw materials to the West. Any genuine “reset” of Russia-West relations will require the West to respect the inviolability of Russia’s political institutions and processes in the same way that the West demands respect for theirs.

Mientras tanto, en el Atlántico Norte...


Las posibilidades de un enfriamiento rápido del Atlántico Norte (del orden de una década), antes del fin de este siglo, comienza a ser visto como un evento probable. Así lo aseguran unos climatólogos en un artículo publicado recientemente en Nature. La nota que sigue es de Alex Kirby para el sitio web Climate News Network:


Título: Stark warning on Atlantic cooling

Subtítulo: Climatologists say there is an almost 50% chance that the Labrador Sea in the North Atlantic Ocean will cool rapidly within the next decade.

Texto:  For thousands of years, parts of north-west Europe have enjoyed a climate around 5°C warmer than many other regions on the same latitude. But new scientific analysis suggests that that could change much sooner and much faster than thought possible.

Climatologists who have looked again at the possibility of major climate change in and around the Atlantic Ocean, a persistent puzzle to researchers, now say there is an almost 50% chance that a key area of the North Atlantic could cool suddenly and rapidly, within the space of a decade, before the end of this century.

That is a much starker prospect than even the worst-case scientific scenario proposed so far, which does not see the Atlantic ocean current shutdown happening for several hundred years at least.


Extreme climate change

A scenario even more drastic (but fortunately fictional) was the subject of the 2004 US movie The Day After Tomorrow, which portrayed the disruption of the North Atlantic’s circulation leading to global cooling and a new Ice Age.

To evaluate the risk of extreme climate change, researchers from the Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux laboratory (CNRS/University of Bordeaux, France), and the University of Southampton, UK, developed an algorithm to analyse the 40 climate models considered by the Fifth Assessment Report.

The findings by the British and French team, published in the Nature Communications journal, in sharp contrast to the IPCC, put the probability of rapid North Atlantic cooling during this century at almost an even chance – nearly 50%.

Current climate models foresee a slowing of the meridional overturning circulation (MOC), sometimes known also as the thermohaline circulation, which is the phenomenon behind the more familiar Gulf Stream that carries warmth from Florida to European shores. If it did slow, that could lead to a dramatic, unprecedented disruption of the climate system.

“If the North Atlantic waters do cool rapidly over the coming years, climate change adaptation policies for regions bordering the North Atlantic will have to take account of this phenomenon”

In 2013, drawing on 40 climate change projections, the IPCC judged that this slowdown would occur gradually, over a long period. Its findings suggested that fast cooling of the North Atlantic during this century was unlikely.

But oceanographers from EU emBRACE had also re-examined the 40 projections by focusing on a critical spot in the north-west North Atlantic: the Labrador Sea.

The Labrador Sea is host to a convection system ultimately feeding into the ocean-wide MOC. The temperatures of its surface waters plummet in the winter, increasing their density and causing them to sink. This displaces deep waters, which bring their heat with them as they rise to the surface, preventing the formation of ice caps.

The algorithm developed by the Anglo-French researchers was able to detect quick sea surface temperature variations. With it they found that seven of the 40 climate models they were studying predicted a total shutdown of convection, leading to abrupt cooling of the Labrador Sea by 2°C to 3°C over less than 10 years. This in turn would drastically lower North Atlantic coastal temperatures.


North Atlantic drop

But because only a handful of the models supported this projection, the researchers focused on the critical parameter triggering winter convection: ocean stratification. Five of the models that included stratification predicted a rapid drop in North Atlantic temperatures. 

The researchers say these projections can one day be tested against real data from the international OSNAP project, Overturning in the Sub-polar North Atlantic Program, whose teams will be anchoring scientific instruments within the sub-polar gyre (a gyre is any large system of circulating ocean currents).

If the predictions are borne out and the North Atlantic waters do cool rapidly over the coming years, the team says, with considerable understatement, climate change adaptation policies for regions bordering the North Atlantic will have to take account of this phenomenon.

jueves, 23 de febrero de 2017

Europa: barajar y dar de nuevo


La catarata de novedades políticas, económicas y sociales que es hoy el mundo hace sentir su peso en el devenir de las alianzas supranacionales. El caso paradigmático es Europa. Prácticamente todo está en discusión en estos momentos. Al respecto vale la pena leer la nota que sigue, escrita por Alex Gorka para el sitio web Strategic Culture Foundation:


Título: Emerging Trends to Shape New Europe

Texto: Those who strive for «centralization» of the European Union are engaged in a flurry of activities to achieve their goal. On February 16, the European Parliament backed three resolutions on strengthening centralization of the EU, establishing a post of EU finance minister, and creating a united European army, which was proposed by former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt, EU`s chief Brexit negotiator.

This move may be seen as part of a broader process. Essentially, one of the resolutions proposes limiting or even totally abolishing the right of individual member states not to comply with collective decisions. The document revives the idea of United States of Europe - a strong entity independent from the United States. Last September, Germany, France, Italy and Luxembourg signed a document calling for the creation of a «general union of states».

The idea to create a European army has been floated for some time. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said NATO is not enough, Europe needs an army.

The idea has always been vigorously rejected by the United States and the United Kingdom, but Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as President of the US pave the way for bringing the plans into life.

On February 5, Italian defense Minister Roberta Pinotti urged the creation of a «defence of Schengen» between Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

The adoption of the resolutions may be the first step towards a fundamental change in the EU Treaty, although Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans said such a reform is not a priority. But the changes may take place much sooner than expected.

The far-right Dutch anti-immigration Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders, has a good chance to win and launch preparations for Nexit.

The Danish People’s Party ran on an unapologetically anti-immigration, populist platform, pushing Danish politics to the right by rejecting multiculturalism and opposing the transfer of sovereignty to Brussels, is challenged from the right.

Nye Borgerlige, or «The New Right» pursues a libertarian economic agenda and wants even stricter controls on migrants in a country. The party supports the idea of granting asylum only to refugees coming directly from the UN refugee agency’s resettlement scheme and those with «a job in hand.» It supports limiting Danish citizenship to people who «contribute positively» to society. The New Right wants to withdraw from the EU and strengthen ties with countries such as Norway and the UK in order to safeguard free trade while getting rid of the EU.

French Front National presidential runner Marine Le Pen says Britain should not be condemned for its decision to withdraw from the EU. The anti-immigration and anti-globalization leader also said she would take the opportunity to carve out a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. Le Pen has called for the euro to be scrapped, tighter controls of borders for EU members, and the right to impose trade barriers. She warned that her desire to leave the euro would send shockwaves across member states.

The candidate said: «France is the political heart of Europe, and the moment we leave the euro the whole project collapses». Le Pen is expected to win the first round of presidential elections in April, picking up 26 per cent of the vote.

It’s not only nationalists gaining more seats or winning elections. There are other trends to weaken the Union. The emergence of new alliances within the organization is undermining the unity. France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta make up a united front of Southern European countries. The ideas of setting up an «Alliance of Europe’s South» has already been floated.

The participation of France is particularly intriguing as this nation has traditionally struggled to find a balance between its desire to build a sphere of influence along the Mediterranean and its strategic interests in the north. If the entire European Union agreed that the Schengen area must be abolished, then France and others could decide that it is best to regain control of their borders while Germany might decide to sign new border agreements with the northern countries.

Some EU members mull the possibility of forming a post-Schengen, if not post-EU. The Dutch Cabinet has raised  the idea of «mini-Schengen» with EU partners that would include only the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria. The idea envisages setting up passport checks at the borders of several Western European countries in a bid to control an influx of migrants and refugees. The «mini-Schengen area» would involve setting up transit camps for migrants outside those borders.

Brexit and the problem of immigration have given new life to the Visegrad Group, made up of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (the V4). They work together in many fields of common interest within the all-European integration framework. The V4 openly opposed efforts to formulate an EU-wide resolution to the migration crisis.

The divergences on financial and immigration policies are getting deeper within the EU to prompt the emergence of alliances inside the alliance undermining the Union’s coherence and unity. The calls for centralization are an attempt to turn the tide.

There is another policy shift that can unite rather than divide Europe. The creation of European defense union will be a step to European identity and away from the dependence on US-led NATO.

In July, the EU strategy document titled European Union Global Strategy stated that the bloc should look to create greater military autonomy from NATO. The plans foresee the development of new European military and operational structures, including joint headquarters.

«As Europeans we must take greater responsibility for our security. We must be ready and able to deter, respond to and protect ourselves against external threats», reads the paper prepared by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission. Only a European force - not an assortment of national armies operating under the auspices of US-led NATO - can really defend European interests.

The recent German Defence Ministry’s White Paper conforms to the trend. It says, a pan-European army, and one by implication under German control, is essential to safeguard Europe’s security. Germany has already gone some way along this path in recent years. In 2015, the Dutch 11th Airmobile Brigade was integrated into a new German division of rapid reaction forces, and in March of this year, the Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade came under German command joining the German 1st Armoured Division. Agreements have also been made that pave the way for the full integration of both countries’ naval units.

If the idea of forming European military goes through, arrangements could allow Norway, a NATO member outside the EU, to contribute. Sweden and Finland, EU members outside NATO, might prefer an EU alliance to the North Atlantic bloc.

Today, the EU needs a joint border force to tackle the migrants’ crisis. This is an issue of paramount importance for Europe, unlike the plans to deploy NATO battalions in Eastern Europe and the Baltics to challenge Russia and, thus, undermine the European security. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka wants the issue to top the agenda. He says it is a priority due to the need to secure Europe’s borders and respond to growing security threats from places such as the Middle East. Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has called for setting up a European border guard to protect the Union’s external borders.

In general, NATO has demonstrated its ineffectiveness. The alliance is not involved in the most important conflict regarding the future of Europe – the war in Syria, and demonstrates that it is not ready to respond to new threats and challenges, such as the fight against terrorism. Europe is facing multiple threats in its strategic neighborhood coming from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, through the Middle East, the Caucasus and up to the new frontlines in Eastern Europe. The US has other threats to fend off. The interests do not match.

As Europeans, Russia and the EU have more common interests in the field of security, while the US has its own foreign policy priorities.

Russia and the EU conducted joint operations in Chad and the Central African Republic and coordinated operations to fight Somalian pirates. Better relations with Russia would be an additional bonus for a EU security alliance independent from US-dominated NATO; tensions and inherent mistrust would be reduced and the pressure to cooperate might be greater.

NATO officials have expressed concerns that the proposals will create rivalry and challenge the alliance's primacy as the main defence structure. An EU independent capability to carry out its own military operations will greatly weaken NATO and put an end to Europe’s dependence on the United States. The idea of an EU army independent from the overseas partner gives Washington the jitters as it would lose its grip on Europe. The EU would pour its money into its own military while NATO has so far failed to convince its members to spend not less than 2 percent of their GDP on the alliance's needs. The creation of European armed forces could remove the raison d'être for US forces in Europe, with Donald Trump talking disparagingly about NATO.

There are new trends to change the European political landscape. The pressure is strong to make the EU a more centralized entity, while the organization is being gradually falling apart into alliances within the alliance.

A group of countries led by Germany may indeed create a new centralized organization, while others will seek a kind of integration with national priorities to prevail. The UK, Switzerland, Norway and some other developed states may prefer to keep away from integration schemes. The trend to disintegrate becomes more visible, with rifts getting wider.

The other trend is gradual shift to European security, which envisages different forms of integration.  All told, the US influence is going to be diminished. The alliances within the alliance and a new European defense structure will have to build new relationship with Russia. The Moscow’s clout will inevitably increase as no European security is possible with the largest European power kept out, not in.  

New winds are blowing to change fundamentally the Old Continent. The EU we know today may soon become a thing of the past.  

Lo que cuestan los parásitos


¿Cuánto le cuestan al erario público los parásitos de las finanzas? Las cifras suelen ser oscuras y poco difundidas, y ni políticos ni economistas suelen levantar la perdiz. Algunos números, sin embargo, salen a la luz. La nota que sigue es de Alejandro López de Miguel para el diario español Público.es


Título: El negocio de los rescates bancarios ya ha costado 750.000 millones de euros de dinero público a los europeos

Epígrafe: Al menos 213.000 millones serían ya irrecuperables, según un estudio del Transnational Institute al que 'Público' ha accedido en exclusiva. El informe denuncia que las ‘Big Four’ de la auditoría y la consultoría se han lucrado desde que comenzó la crisis asesorando a las entidades, y a su vez trabajando para los gobiernos en los rescates de estos bancos.

Texto: Las instituciones europeas, con el BCE a la cabeza, defendieron y defienden que no había alternativa; que las entidades bancarias que se derrumbaron durante la crisis debían ser rescatadas con dinero público, y entre 2008 y 2015 esa inyección económica ya se había tragado cerca de 747.000 millones de euros, sumando distintos tipos de paquetes de rescate, recapitalizaciones y otras medidas. Un coste, en su mayoría financiado con la emisión de deuda pública, al que se suman 1,188 billones de euros comprometidos en avales sobre la deuda emitida por las entidades financieras, por lo que el montante total subiría considerablemente.

Al menos 45.500 millones del dinero público invertido en España en estos rescates ya puede darse por perdido; en el caso de Irlanda son  46.600 millones

De todas estas ayudas a la banca, con fecha de octubre de 2016, Eurostat daba por perdidos al menos 213.210 millones de euros; es el equivalente al PIB de Finlandia y Luxemburgo juntos, o al gasto anual en servicios de salud en España, Suecia, Austria, Grecia y Polonia, sumados. Esta pérdida correspondería en parte al incremento del déficit, al aumento de pago de los intereses por los rescates, y todo correría a cargo de los contribuyentes de los 28, que siguen escuchando – y en ocasiones apoyando- los argumentos de distintas fuerzas políticas a favor de estas medidas.

Todas las cifras se extraen del nuevo informe del Transnational Institute (TNI), El negocio del rescate, ¿Quién se beneficia de los rescates bancarios en la UE?, que verá la luz este miércoles, al que Público ha tenido acceso en exclusiva. El estudio utiliza datos públicos para arrojar luz sobre la industria montada en torno a los rescates bancarios, en la que un puñado de consultoras y asesoras se reparten el grueso de los beneficios. Sin ir más lejos, las cuatro multinacionales conocidas como Big Four (PWC, EY, Deloitte y KPMG) representan aproximadamente el 61% de la cuota de mercado de la auditoría en la UE, y la cifra sube hasta el 80% en Italia o España.

martes, 21 de febrero de 2017

Donald Trump y el "Estado Profundo"


Uno se pregunta qué va a pasar con la guerra a muerte que el "Estado Profundo" (Deep State) le ha planteado al propio Presidente de los EEUU, Donald Trump. Al respecto, reproducimos una nota de Federico Pieraccini aparecida estos días en el sitio web Strategic Culture Research. La nota tiene dos partes; aquí posteamos las dos:


Parte I


Título: The Conflictual Relationship Between Donald Trump and the US ‘Deep State’ (I)

Texto: In just two weeks as president of the United States, Donald Trump has given indications of how he intends to tackle various international political situations. So far we have observed the controversy over Iran, the events related to NATO, rapprochement with Russia, escalation in Ukraine, silence on Syria, the US special-forces operation in Yemen, verbal clashes with the EU, and the absence of further criticism of China. This first article will focus on the he US deep state’s possible sabotage attempts of the Trump presidency.

Tensions continue to rise unabated in the first two weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, as more decisions come across Trump’s table. While we have seen many executive orders and pieces of legislation, most regard domestic politics, which is a core focus of the Trump presidency. On the other hand, in foreign policy, Trump seems to be using the common tactic of many politicians, which involves much talk and little action. Since US foreign policy has been a mess for quite some time, militating against common sense, taking little action can actually be a positive thing, the best thing a US president has been able to do in almost thirty years! If there is one thing that is clear to everyone about Trump’s way of doing things following two weeks in office, it is that it is completely different from his predecessor, especially in relation to the press and his willingness to engage with it.

The use of executive orders looks more and more like a weapon to flood the press and news agencies with talking points concerning domestic policies, leaving little room for particular pressure on foreign policy from the media establishment. It almost looks like a tactic of guerrilla warfare to overwhelm the mainstream media. It could and probably is also a PR stunt to show the American people he is doing what he promised. Stunt or not, acknowledging the power of the media in creating a pretext for war, and therefore putting a stop to the drums of war, is one of the first key marks of his success.

The main problem continues to be the ongoing war with the US deep state, something that will not be going away anytime soon, and a campaign that may have entered a new stage against the Trump presidency.


Sabotage or Incompetence?

The first two weeks of the new presidency have already provided a few significant events. The operation that took place in Yemen, conducted by the American special forces and directed against Al Qaeda, has reprised the previous administration. Being a complex operation that required thorough preparation, the new administration thereby had to necessarily represent a continuation of the old one. Details are still vague, but looking at the outcome, the mission failed as a result of incompetence. The American special forces were spotted before arriving at al Qaeda’s supposed base. This resulted in the shooting of anything that moved, causing more than 25 civilian deaths.

The media that had been silent during the Obama administration was rightfully quick to condemn the killing of innocent people, and harsh criticism was directed at the administration for this operation. It is entirely possible that the operation was set up to fail, intended to delegitimize the operational capabilities of the new Trump team. Given the links between al Qaeda, the Saudis and the neoconservatives, something historically proven, it is not unthinkable that the failure of the operation was a consequence of an initial attempt at sabotaging Trump on a key aspect of his presidency, namely the successful execution of counter-terrorist efforts against Islamist terrorism.

Another structural component in the attempts to undermine the Trump administration concern the deployment of NATO and US troops on the western border of the Russian Federation. This attempt is obvious and is one of the strategies aimed at preventing a rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. The EU persists in its self-defeating policy, focusing its attention on foreign policy instead of gaining strategic independence thanks to the new presidency. It is now even more clear that European Union leaders, and in particular the current political representatives in Germany and France, have every intention of continuing in the direction set by the Obama presidency, seeking a futile confrontation with the Russian Federation instead of a sensible rapprochement.

Europe continues to insist on failed economic and social policies that will lead to bankruptcy, using foreign-policy issues as diversions and excuses. The consequences of these wrongheaded efforts will inevitably favor the election of nationalist and populist parties, as seen in the United States and other countries, which will end in the destruction of the EU. For the US deep state and their long-term objectives, this tactic has a dual effect: it prevents the proper functioning of the EU as well as significantly halts any rapprochement between the EU and the Russian Federation. The latter strategy looks more and more irreversible given the current European Union elites. In this sense, the UK, thanks to Brexit, seems to have broken free and started to slowly restructure its foreign- policy priorities, in close alignment to Trump’s isolationism.

Finally the most obvious attempt to sabotage the administration can be seen in the events in Ukraine. Unsurprisingly, Senators Graham and McCain, two of the deep state’s top emissaries, visited Ukraine at the beginning of the year, prompting Ukrainian troops to resume their destructive offensive against the Donbass. The intentions are clear and assorted. First is the constant attempt to sabotage any rapprochement between Moscow and Washington, hoping to engulf Trump in an American/NATO escalation of events in Ukraine. Second, given the critical situation in Europe, is the effort to push Berlin to assume the burden of economically supporting the failing administration in Kiev. Third is the increasing pressure applied to Russia and Putin, as was already seen in 2014, in an effort to actively involve the Russian Federation in the Ukrainian conflict so as to justify NATO’s direct involvement or even that of the United States. The latter situation would be the dream of the neoconservatives, setting Trump and Putin on a direct collision course.

The new American administration has thus far suffered at least three sabotage attempts, and it is the attitude Trump intends to have with the rest of the world that has spurred them. In an interview with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, Trump reiterated that his primary focus is not governed by the doctrine of American exceptionalism, a concept he does not subscribe to anyhow. The religion driving democratic evangelization looks more likely to be replaced with a pragmatic, realist geopolitical stance.

This is how one could sum up Trump’s words to Bill O’Reilly:

«There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers», Trump said. «Well, you think our country is so innocent?»

What the deep state refuses to accept is that they have lost the leading role in educating the rest of the world on humanitarian issues related to the concept of democracy. The main actors of the deep state clearly understand the negative implications for them personally in economic and financial terms associated with the abandonment of the pursuit of global hegemony. For over a hundred years, no US president has ever placed their country on a par with others, has ever abandoned the concept of a nation (the US) «chosen by God».

In an article a few weeks ago, I tried to lay the foundations for a future US administration, placing a strong focus on foreign policy and revealing a possible shift in US historic foreign relations. In a passage I wrote:

«Donald Trump has emerged with in mind a precise foreign policy strategy, forged by various political thinkers of the realist world such as Waltz and Mearsheimer, trashing all recent neoconservative and neoliberal policies of foreign intervention (R2P - Right to Protect) and soft power campaigns in favor of human rights. No more UN resolutions, subtly used to bomb nations (Libya). Trump doesn’t believe in the central role of the UN and reaffirmed this repeatedly.

In general, the Trump administration intends to end the policy of regime change, interference in foreign governments, Arab springs and color revolutions. They just don’t work. They cost too much in terms of political credibility, in Ukraine the US are allied with supporters of Bandera (historical figure who collaborated with the Nazis) and in Middle East they finance or indirectly support al Qaeda and al Nusra front».

The recent meeting in Washington with Theresa May, the first official encounter with a prominent US ally, revealed, among other things, a possible dramatic change in US policy. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom expressed her desire to follow a new policy of non-intervention, in line with the isolationist strategy Trump has spoken about since running for office. In a joint press conference with the American president, May said: «The era of military intervention is over. London and Washington will not return to the failed policy in the past that has led to intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya».

During the election campaign, Trump made his intentions clear in different contexts, but always coming from the standpoint of non-interventionism inspired by the concept of isolationism. It is becoming apparent that these intentions are being put into action, though the rhetoric regarding Iran has become alarming. In typical Trump fashion (which contrasts with the Iran issue), the situation in Syria is normalizing and the initial threats directed at China appear to have been put aside. The case of Iran is a different and complex story, requiring a deeper analysis that deserves a separate article. What will gradually be important, as the Presidency progresses, is understanding the necessity to distinguish between words and actions, separating provocations from intentions.


Conclusions and future questions

There is a whole list of Trump statements that are seen as threats to other countries, primarily Iran. The next article will further explain the possible strategy to be employed by Donald Trump to fight these attempts to sabotage his administration, a strategy that seems to be based on silences, bluffs and admissions to counter the perpetual attempts to influence his presidency. If one wants to place weight on his words during the election campaign, it should be taken into consideration that Trump won the election thanks to the clear objectives of wanting to avoid a further spending spree on destructive wars. This priority was made clear and expressed in every possible way with the adoption of an America First policy, especially regarding domestic policy.

The bottom line is always that Trump has the ability and willingness to be resilient to the pressures of the deep state, focusing on the needs of the average American citizen, rather than caving in to the interests of the deep state such as intelligence agencies, neocons, Israel lobby, Saudi lobby, the military-industrial complex, and many more. It is only in the next few months that we will come to understand if Trump will be willing to continue the fight against war or bend the knee and pay the price.


***

Parte II


Título: The Conflictual Relationship Between Donald Trump and the US ‘Deep State’ (II)

Texto: In just two weeks as president of the United States, Donald Trump has left traces of how he intends to tackle various international political situations. The previous article dealt with a series of possible sabotage efforts suffered by the Trump administration. In this second and concluding article, I intend to analyze the situations in Iran, Russia, Ukraine, and Syria as well as the stance towards NATO, the EU and China. The goal is to decipher how Trump has used admissions, silences and bluffs in order to advance his intentions and obviate the deep state’s sabotage efforts.

Deep-state sabotage is in full swing and is increasingly influencing the Trump administration. The latest example can be seen in the resignation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. He was forced to resign either for inappropriate contacts with the Russian ambassador in the US prior to his appointment, or for not telling the truth about his phone call to the Vice President and President.

As with the whole Trump presidency, it is very difficult to understand whether we are facing an act of sabotage from the deep state or whether this is yet another semi-improvised strategy to muffle the drums of war. We all know of Flynn’s closeness to his Russian counterparts, a rapprochement that cannot be placed in danger with the dismissal of the new National Security Adviser. Trump needs Russia more than Russia needs Washington; improving ties is something that Trump needs in order to avoid major conflicts and de-escalate the international situation. One could even imagine that Flynn was wisely removed given his harsh and trenchant positions on Iran that would send Washington on a terrible path of war with Tehran.

There are several international situations in which the intentions of the new administration are very difficult to understand and sometimes even provoke amazement. Let us first examine the administration’s attitude towards Iran and Yemen. As noted a few weeks ago, very harsh words from the US administration were directed towards Tehran following a legitimate missile test, and especially with the defensive actions of the Houthis in Yemen. With Yemen and Iran not looking like diminishing their legitimate actions, the affair regarding Flynn could fall into a de-escalation strategy to contain excesses in Islamophobia expressed by the former National Security Advisor.

Trump has always preferred to counter deep-state sabotage attempts with substantial bluffing, as seen with the strong rhetoric used against Tehran regarding its recent actions, exactly as in Yemen for the actions of Ansarullah defense forces. The Trump strategy seems to want to please the factions closest to the neoconservative wing, the Israeli and Saudi lobbies. Targeting Yemen and Iran with words has at least temporarily quietened the drums of war of an important part of the establishment in Washington. Trump has to carry out a careful balancing act involving his words and actions in order not to not draw too harsh a response from the Washington establishment.

Flynn's dismissal could also be seen as an easy attempt to sabotage and prevent a rapprochement with Russia; indeed this is likely to be so.

But meanwhile, we can consider one positive aspect: Flynn has always been highly Islamophobic, tending to find it difficult to distinguish between Wahhabi terrorist goons and legitimate Islamic fighters like the Houthis or Hezbollah. Flynn has usually maintained pro-Saudi positions and even pro-Qatar Muslim Brotherhood positions. It may even be that Trump has torpedoed his own personally chosen pick dampening the excessive saber-rattling against the Islamic Republic of Iran that was possibly laying the groundwork for an escalation that Trump had to reign in. This is pure speculation, but everything is possible with this unpredictable presidency.


Much talk, little action

Trump still gives the strong impression that he intends to avoid any further conflict. Bluffing on Iran and Yemen seems to be the ideal choice for the Trump administration: harsh tones and words to placate the most hawkish factions without actually taking any action appears to be the new normal. The first strategy of Trump's foreign policy therefore seems to be to employ a tactic of inaction. Not acting could well represent a new turning point in American foreign policy, avoiding further involvement in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. This would represent the first confirmation of Trump’s intention not to squander American resources by going to war and betraying his election promises, thereby further impoverishing the United States. Observing the very intense words on Iran, let us try and analyze the intentions of the Trump administration. Certainly having people like General Mattis within the administration is a big test for how Trump will manage to contain the most anti-Iranian wing of his inner council. Could Flynn's departure be the first step of this internal cleansing, a warning signal to other pro-war figures? Or maybe it is none of the above and in actual fact the first successful sabotage from the deep state.


Silence as a strategy of inaction

Another important approach in Trump’s presidency is a frequent silence or lack of comment on international events. Two most recent cases concern Syria and China. With regard to the «One China» policy, Trump confirmed assumptions made in the past, namely that his intentions are anything but malicious. The tone was initially hard, only to be replaced by a long silence, and then finally words one would not expect, averting an international crisis on this front. It is a modus operandi that should be taken as an example for understanding the psychology of Trump. At first he was critical in a decisive way, calling into question China and Taiwan, then he no longer mentioned the topic, and finally he gave his blessing to the «One China» policy, initiating a likely mutually fruitful cooperation.

Another important part of Trump’s policy of silence involves Syria. Since becoming president, Trump has rendered events in Syria irrelevant, making the issue disappear from the media radar. Thanks to Trump’s guerrilla tactics, lobbing smoke grenades hither and tither and signing two executive orders a day, the media simply does not have the time and perseverance to keep up with everything. One of the sacrificial victims has been the reality in Syria; but a lack of attention from the mainstream media is currently the best hope that we can desire for the Syrian people. Trump’s attitude seems to be deliberately cautious and silent about developments in that nation. The situation in Syria is firmly in Russian hands, and what seems to be occurring is an indirect coordination between Washington and Moscow against Daesh in the country. The silence from Trump certainly irritated the most radical and extreme wing of the deep state, but any attempt to sabotage this progress in Syria now seems to be wrecked thanks to the inaction of the Trump administration and the actions of Moscow. The final coup de grace would be to openly cooperate or act in joint US-Russia actions to defeat terrorism in the region.


Admissions to confirm the election promises

Finally, Trump has never hidden and indeed has often touted his vision of the approach that should be taken with the Russian Federation. A rapprochement with Putin to combat terrorism is one of the pivotal points around which the Trump presidency rotates. During the election campaign he has never hidden his positive intentions, even though this increased the criticism directed towards him. 

This part of his tactic is based on the admission from the beginning of his campaign of his intention to reach a deal with Moscow. The first confirmation of this intention can be seen in Syria, with Washington apparently ceasing the flow of money and weapons to the so-called moderate rebels, pleasing Moscow and looking for a de-escalation of the conflict. Another important aspect regarding Trump’s statements in terms of foreign policy concerns the role of NATO and his European allies.

During the election campaign he repeatedly attacked the role of NATO, but then was forced to reach an agreement given the importance of the international framework guaranteed by NATO in Europe. 

This provided a very clear indicator of how Trump’s strategy works out if he has to defer to other considerations. He changed his initial positions by placing a strong emphasis on the need for US allies to pay their share of military spending, namely 2% of GDP. Currently all NATO countries, excluding the United States and Greece, fall below this commitment. Sharp focus is brought on the EU members on the cost of keeping NATO alive, forcing them to come to terms with the harsh economic reality that this implies. In the long term this could lead to a strong treaty revision of NATO. EU countries are increasingly facing difficulty in increasing defense spending, especially when considering existing austerity measures as well as the lack of importance placed on NATO by the European public, with the exception of the EU elite.

This tactic will further weaken the integrity of the European Union. In a sense, the Trump strategy in this case is crystal clear and will probably achieve its objectives.

This situation will provide the perfect opportunity for the European populist and nationalist parties to further attack the foundations of the European Union and its security framework guaranteed by NATO. If Trump wanted to undermine the EU's foundations, pointing to the futility of NATO and at the same demonstrating to his base that he will act on his election promises, then this strategy seems perfectly calibrated.

Ultimately, we can already say that the relations between Trump and the deep state are essentially based on sabotage efforts against Trump, and the asymmetrical responses of his administration, ranging from bluffing, to silences, and admissions.

To correctly assess Trump’s foreign policy, one should divide into three categories the vicissitudes of the United States. In a first column we can include words and rhetoric; in the second, inaction; and in the third, actions taken.

While it is clear and obvious that the first column includes Iran, Yemen and the EU/NATO, it is worthwhile noting that the second column certainly includes inaction like shown towards China, Syria, and the events in Ukraine. The third column, for the moment, essentially concerns the first steps towards Russia and the rapprochement with Moscow. In this sense, it is worth remembering that the resignation of Flynn may just be a deep-state move to sabotage Trump before he takes decisive action to settle a deal with Russia. The tactic of not acting, or of inaction, is difficult to sabotage, as the deep state came to realize when Obama decided not to act in Syria in 2013. Criticizing actions taken is much more effective and easy for the media, as seen with the attacks on Trump’s team for ties with Putin that are deemed too close. In this sense, the hypothesis that Flynn has been sacrificed should not be discarded in this context as a way of promoting a rapprochement with Russia, eliminating one of the most contentious issues between the administration and the deep state.

On this aspect we will need to await the developments between Moscow and Washington, and how this will possibly change the rhetoric against countries such as Yemen and Iran, two countries long criticized by Flynn and his colleagues.


Conclusions

The only possible conclusion relates to the previous point, namely the clear division between words, actions, or inaction. At the moment, the Trump team’s strategy seems to use these three options to further advance their own interests and strategic objectives. Given the uncertainty surrounding the intentions of Trump’s administration, the only sensible attitude seems to wait and see whether the aggressive rhetoric remain just that. Another consideration relates to actions taken by the administration to approach and mend troubled relations with the Russian Federation. Finally is the inaction in foreign policy that amounts to a precise tactic. If words remain words and inaction will continue to remain a key part of the current presidency, perhaps for the first time in decades we will see in practice a positive change in direction from the new US administration.

In all this it remains to be seen whether Trump will really change the direction set by liberal hegemony with its global ambitions for a more realistic one as repeatedly suggested by the school of political realism represented by Mearsheimer. Only time, and actions, will tell.