jueves, 22 de junio de 2017

El estado de las cosas


Curioso mundo en el que vivimos: burbuja tras burbuja tras burbuja. Algún día van a explotar, tal vez todas juntas. La guerra, las finanzas, la paciencia social, lo que venga. La nota que sigue es del economista y analista político Peter Koenig; salió publicada hoy en el sitio web The Vineyard of the Saker:


Título: Are We in The Final Phase?

Texto: There is hardly a day that goes by without a terror attack somewhere in the world, emphasis on western world. There were three successive UK terror attacks within less than three months, one in Manchester two in London, where all the ‘terrorists’ – who all yelled coincidentally Allahu Akbar (God is Great) while committing their heinous crimes – were killed. None was left alive for testimony. Since then another one was carried out in front of a Mosque in northern London. Yesterday in a Brussels railway station someone exploded a bomb, and people heard him scream Allahu Akbar. It's terror non-stop. We better get used to it.

Terror is reigning in Africa every day, in Central Africa, the Congo, Burundi, Nigeria – you name it. The Islamic State is fighting in the Philippines. They are fighting a proxy war for Washington against the inconvenient President Duterte, who likes to ally with China and Russia. Geographically, economically and politically speaking, a logical choice. It’s hardly reported by the presstitute. And if reported, its twisted and turned into barrage of lies. Terror is the scare of the day; and terror is a branch of the US military – it’s a weaponized strategy to conquer the world by fear and as a consequence, by militarization. People ask for it, for protection.

Terror is fed, trained and armed by Washington and the Pentagon. The number of attacks are increasing by the day. We can only wonder, where will it strike tomorrow. The question, “when will it stop?” is not even an option. It will not stop. It’s part of the war game.

On the other side of the equation, globalized Wall Street, the FED and international financial institutions are strangling poor countries with debt into submission, especially those with natural resources, like hydrocarbons tropical forests, gold and diamonds. All stained in blood. But finance does not stop there. It comes down to the individual, digitizing cash. Making us a cashless society. It’s good for you. No need for carrying money around. It’s worthless anyway. Going digital, we can control you-and you are safe. The State will never steal your money. They could, but they won’t. Ethics. It’s called Ethics. And we trust them. In God We Trust – and god is money, to be precise – the US Dollar.

In the Middle East, a serious confrontation between the US and Russia is brewing, as Russia keeps believing in agreements signed with Washington, despite deceptions, time and again. The latest incident, supposedly fighting ISIS, a US F-18 fighter shot down a Syrian plane fighting ISIS. By accident, of course. The Russian Defense Ministry did not mince its words, “In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying objects, including jets and unmanned aerial vehicles of the international coalition discovered west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian air and ground defenses as air targets.” In other words, they will be shot down. Is it that what the dark forces behind Washington want? – a deadly provocation?

Possibly. Because the US economy is based on war – and the European one is following closely in these bloody footsteps. We are living an economy of destruction, not one of construction, of a congenial livelihood, of solidarity among people and societies. Now our economy is also a tool of war – it impoverishes the masses and enriches the few. It divides the people, the countries, the continents – to conquer them. Those who control the economy are those who control the western monetary system, the fraudulent, privately made, owned usurping debt and interest machine; the dollar pyramid, upon which every other western currency depends. Those who control this unspeakable fraud, will eventually control a divided world. A world of man-made eternal chaos.

For the masters of war-and the would-be Masters of the Universe, it doesn’t matter whether we all go under. They still think, ‘The War’, even nuclear – will be fought in far-away places – such as Europe and the Middle East. The May, Macron, Merkel puppets, who allow it, by having nurtured NATO for the last decade-plus, hope to be ‘evacuated’ to Miami, or the Caribbean, in time, when Europe burns – for the third time in 100 years.

Propaganda tells us be on your guard, the Russians are coming, and behind them the Chinese. We will protect you; we will militarize your countries, and we will make sure your money is safe, therefore it will be digitized. And every explosion that you see and hear about – it is not for you. It is taking place in foreign lands.

People, there is nothing left to hope for in the west. This could be it. The end-run. And you and me are in it, if we don’t leave it NOW. We have for too long believed in the treachery of Washington, the false promises, the eternal lies for centuries drop-by-dripping-drop into our brains have drained our self-worth, our autonomy; and we have ‘democratically’ allowed that these Washington bandits and the criminal gang that directs them from behind, have stolen our nations sovereignty.

We are doomed. The west is doomed. The west is in its final stage of committing unrelenting suicide by sheer greed and monstrous aggressions and an eternal flood of lies. We are cooked. For good, beyond the threshold of no-return. The only hope for those of us who may survive, is the East. China, Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) offer an economy of peace. They offer the world, including the west, for those who are not afraid to break loose from the weakening fangs of Washington, an enormous economic and scientific development program – the New Silk Road, or OBOR – One Belt One Road, or OBI for short. The One Belt Initiative – an economy of peace and prosperity offered to the world by China’s President Xi. Wake up, People, wake up – and step out from the western warmongers orbit.

Llora Schaeuble


El ministro de Finanzas de Alemania, Wolfgang Schaeuble (foto), el mismo que puso de rodillas a Grecia por no cumplir las "metas" del FMI (después de 20 años de venderles a los griegos a la fuerza autos, lavarropas y cafeteras Made in Germany, claro está), sale a implorar al Imperio que no deje de serlo. Dan un poquito de asco estas lágrimas de cocodrilo de los neoliberales. El cuco de ocasión es Rusia y China, obvio. Leemos en Zero Hedge:


Título: Schaeuble Warns US Pullback Could "End Our Liberal World Order"

Texto: Less than a month after German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that “Europe must take its fate into its own hands,” Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble implored US President Donald Trump to reconsider his “America First” policy, claiming that a pullback by the US would risk the destruction of “our liberal world order” by ceding influence to the Chinese and the Russians.

Trump’s hostility toward his European partners has strained relations between the US and its Continental allies. Since taking office, Trump has insulted fellow G-7 and NATO leaders, pulled out of the Paris Accord and attempted to ban travelers and refugees from six Muslim majority countries. Though Trump has treated at least one NATO leader with respect: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, whom he honored with a Rose Garden press conference.

Bloomberg described Schaeuble’s comments as “one of the strongest expressions of concern among European policy makers that President Donald Trump’s administration is disengaging the US from its global roles on trade, climate change and security.”

I doubt whether the United States truly believes that the world order would be equally sound if China or Russia were to fill the gaps left by the US, and if China and Russia were simply given a free hand to dominate the spheres of influence that they have defined for themselves,” Schaeuble, 74, said in a speech at the American Academy in Berlin, a think tank that promotes U.S.-German ties. “That would be the end of our liberal world order.”
Schaeuble also claimed that maintaining global security is in the best interest of the US.

It is surely in the United States’ own interest to ensure security and economic stability in its markets, both in Europe and around the world…[t]his is a basic precondition if the US wants to increase its exports and cut its trade deficit.”

Schauble was speaking to an audience at the American Academy of Berlin that included Henry Kissinger and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. In three weeks, Merkel will host Trump, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and host of other world leaders at a G-20 summit in Hamburg.

As Bloomberg reported, Merkel pushed back against some of Trump's comments regarding the US-German trade relationship on Wednesday during an event in Berlin marking the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. She defended free trade, claiming that protectionism and isolationism “impede innovation, and in the long run this is disadvantageous for everybody.”

Trump has attacked Germany’s trade surplus as “very bad” and said he would stop German car companies from selling “millions of cars” in the US. Data form the Census Bureau show the United States had a $65 billion trade deficit in goods with Germany in 2016, the third-largest negative balance after a $69 billion shortfall with Japan and a $347 billion deficit with China.

However, there’s an element of hypocrisy in Schauble and Merkel’s warnings about China. Germany has done nothing to stymie China's rise. It has only helped elevate China’s standing on the global stage by embracing it as an ally in the fight against climate change and as a partner in trade. To wit: China was Germany’s largest trading partner last year. eclipsing the US.

Merkel also said that she’s open to discussing proposals for a joint “euro-area budget” with French President Emmanuel Macron – stealing a policy position from her political rival, Social Democrat leader Martin Schultz. A federal budget would help benefit the euro-area’s weakest economies, like Greece, Portugal and Italy, but it would also offset some of the immense advantages that Germany reaps as part of the monetary union. German citizens would effectively subsidize their European neighbors, though Germany would still benefit from a weaker currency.

According to Bloomberg, Merkel’s comments come at a time of “special significance.” Merkel is seeking a fourth term in office in September, when Germany is holding a national election. But she’s been losing ground in the polls to Schultz and his social democrats. Worried about her standing, it seems Merkel has hit upon a new campaign strategy: Distract Germans from their domestic woes by bashing the US.

martes, 20 de junio de 2017

Reajustes


Una nota publicada hoy por Red Voltaire intenta explicar los movimientos actuales en Medio Oriente y el reacomodamiento de fuerzas y alianzas que está ocurriendo en tiempo real. La nota es de Thierry Meyssan; acá va:


Título: Reajustes en el Medio Oriente

Epígrafe: Los países del Medio Oriente ampliado se dividen ahora entre partidarios y adversarios del clericalismo, mientras que Washington, Moscú y Pekín negocian una nueva distribución de cartas. Thierry Meyssan evalúa el impacto de este verdadero terremoto en los conflictos que ya estaban desarrollándose en Palestina, en Siria e Irak, así como en Yemen.

Texto: La crisis diplomática alrededor de Qatar ha congelado varios conflictos regionales y disimulado varios intentos de arreglos vinculados a otros. Nadie sabe cuándo se levantará el telón, pero lo que sí es seguro es que cuando eso suceda veremos una región profundamente transformada.


1– El conflicto palestino

Desde que la mayoría de los palestinos fueron expulsados de su tierra –el 15 de mayo de 1948, en lo que hoy se designa como la Nakba– y que los pueblos árabes rechazaron aquella limpieza étnica, lo único que había modificado parcialmente la distribución del juego era la paz separada israelo-egipcia pactada en los acuerdos de Camp David (en 1978) y la promesa de resolver la cuestión palestina mediante la creación de dos Estados, surgida de los acuerdos de Oslo (en 1993).

Sin embargo, cuando la existencia de negociaciones secretas entre Irán y Estados Unidos se dio a conocer, Arabia Saudita e Israel decidieron conversar entre sí. Al cabo de 17 meses de encuentros secretos, se concluyó un acuerdo entre el Guardián de las Dos Mezquitas y el Estado judío [1]. 
   
Este acuerdo se concretó a través de la participación del ejército de Israel en la agresión contra Yemen [2] y de la entrega de bombas atómicas tácticas israelíes al reino de los Saud [3].
   
Recordemos que ese acuerdo también preveía hacer que Arabia Saudita evolucionara de forma tal que su sociedad siguiera siendo salafista y sus instituciones pasaran a ser laicas. Estipulaba además la independencia del Kurdistán iraquí –donde se realizará un referéndum en septiembre– y la explotación simultánea de los yacimientos de gas del desierto de Rub al-Khali (a menudo designado como The Empty Quarter), en territorios de Arabia Saudita y Yemen –yacimientos que son la verdadera razón de la actual guerra contra Yemen– y los de la región de Ogadén –lo cual explica la retirada, esta semana, de las tropas qataríes de la frontera con Yibuti.
   
Finalmente, Egipto cedió a Arabia Saudita las islas de Tiran y Sanafir, cumpliendo así el compromiso que había contraído hace un año. Al aceptar la posesión de esas islas, Riad reconoce de facto los acuerdos de Camp David, que estipulan la libre circulación de los barcos israelíes en las aguas circundantes. Israel incluso confirmó que ha recibido garantías de Arabia Saudita en ese sentido.
   
Es importante observar que lo que llevó a Egipto a ceder las islas no fue la presión de Arabia Saudita –aunque Riad bloqueó tanto sus entregas de petróleo al Cairo como un préstamo de 12 000 millones de dólares– sino la crisis diplomática del Golfo. Los Saud oficializaron su ruptura con la Hermandad Musulmana, proceso que ya venía avanzando desde que el presidente egipcio al-Sissi les entregó una serie de documentos que demostraban la existencia de un proyecto de golpe de Estado en Arabia Saudita en el que estaban implicados varios miembros de la cofradía. Al principio, Arabia Saudita creyó ser capaz de separar a los “buenos” de los “malos”, entre los miembros de la Hermandad Musulmana. El reino ya había acusado a Qatar de aportar respaldo a los golpistas, pero en aquel momento las cosas se desarrollaron por la vía pacífica. Actualmente, Riad tiene intenciones de luchar contra toda la Hermandad Musulmana y eso lo obliga a revisar su posición hacia Siria.
   
La cesión de las islas de Tiran y Sanafir, egipcias desde la Convención de Londres de 1840, no tiene otra razón de ser que permitir que Arabia Saudita reconozca de forma implícita –al cabo de 39 años– los acuerdos de paz separada firmados en Camp David entre Egipto e Israel.
   
Por su parte, Teherán acogió a la dirección política del Hamas –que se compone principalmente de miembros de la Hermandad Musulmana–, tanto en nombre de la solidaridad con la causa palestina como por el hecho que comparte con los dirigentes del Hamas la misma concepción del islam político.
   
La próxima etapa será el establecimiento de relaciones comerciales públicas entre Riad y Tel Aviv, que ya se mencionan en la edición del 17 de junio del diario británico The Times –varias empresas israelíes parecen haber sido autorizadas a operar en Arabia Saudita y la compañía aérea israelí El-Al podría utilizar el espacio aéreo saudita [4]–, y después vendrían el reconocimiento de la iniciativa de paz del príncipe saudita Abdala –adoptada por Liga Árabe en 2002– y el establecimiento de relaciones diplomáticas –el príncipe Walid ben Talal se convertiría en embajador del reino en Israel [5].
   
Ese proyecto podría conducir a la paz en Palestina (reconocimiento de un Estado palestino e indemnización para los refugiados), en Líbano (retirada israelí de las Granjas de Shebaa) y en Siria (cese del apoyo a los yihadistas y retirada israelí del Golán).
   
El tema del Golán ha de resultar particularmente difícil ya que el gobierno de Netanyahu ha reafirmado –en son de provocación– su anexión mientras que Estados Unidos y Rusia reaccionaron duramente ante la expulsión de la Fuerza de Naciones Unidas de Observación de la Separación (FNUOS) y la sustitución de sus cascos azules por los yihadistas de al-Qaeda [6]. No sería, sin embargo, imposible que durante la guerra en Siria, Washington o Moscú se hayan comprometido con Tel Aviv a mantener el statu quo en el Golán.
   
Ese proyecto de arreglo general es un reflejo del modus operandi de Donald Trump y Jared Kushner como hombres de negocios: crear una situación económica que impone un cambio político. Y encontrará probablemente la oposición de la Hermandad Musulmana (el Hamas) y del triángulo del islam político conformado por Irán, Qatar y Turquía.
   
   
2– El conflicto en territorios de Irak y Siria

Todos los actores regionales están de acuerdo en considerar que Irak y Siria constituyen en este momento un solo campo de batalla. Pero los occidentales, que se aferran a las mentiras de la administración de George Bush hijo –incluso cuando admiten la inexistencia de las armas de destrucción masiva que supuestamente tenía Saddam Hussein– y a la versión romántica de las «primaveras árabes» -incluso cuando reconocen que ese movimiento nunca trató de favorecer la libertad sino, por el contrario, de imponer el islam político– se obstinan en considerarlos dos escenarios diferentes.

En este punto, remito a nuestros lectores a mi libro Sous nos yeux en cuanto a cómo se inició esta guerra [7]. El hecho es que, desde el inicio de la crisis alrededor de Qatar, la guerra en Irak y en Siria se ha limitado a 
   
(1) la lucha contra el Emirato Islámico (Daesh), en Mosul y Raqqa, y a 
   
(2) la lucha contra Turquía, en Baachiqa y al-Bab [8].
   
Lo que resulta evidente para todos en la región es que, desde la llegada al poder del presidente chino Xi Jinping con el proyecto de creación de dos “rutas de la seda”, Washington ha estimulado la creación de un «Sunnistán» en territorios pertenecientes a Irak y a la República Árabe Siria. Con ese objetivo, Washington financió, armó y dirigió las fuerzas del Emirato Islámico para que bloquearan el eje de comunicación terrestre Beirut-Damasco-Bagdad-Teherán-Pekín.
   
Desde hace 4 meses, la administración Trump estudia y negocia de qué manera pudiera modificar esa política y reemplazar por una asociación con Pekín la actual situación de enfrentamiento [9].
   
Mientras que en el terreno asistimos a una verdadera sucesión de acontecimientos contradictorios, los ejércitos de Irak y de la República Árabe Siria han avanzado rápidamente desde el inicio de la crisis alrededor de Qatar. En su rápido avance hacia la frontera común, ambos ejércitos han liberado del control del Emirato Islámico sus zonas fronterizas y hoy están a punto de entrar en contacto –con lo cual restablecerían la ruta de la seda. Ya sólo los separan, en el punto de confluencia, unos 200 metros de terreno ilegalmente controlado por fuerzas de Estados Unidos [10].
   
En cuanto a los combates en el sur de Siria… han cesado inesperadamente. Damasco proclamó unilateralmente un alto al fuego en Deraa. En realidad, Moscú y Washington dieron a Tel Aviv garantías de que Siria sólo permitirá frente a la frontera israelí el despliegue de fuerzas rusas, excluyendo la presencia allí de fuerzas iraníes o del Hezbollah libanés.
   
En pocas palabras, si el Pentágono sigue las órdenes de la Casa Blanca, debería producirse un amplio cese del conflicto. Sólo quedaría por resolver entonces la ocupación turca de territorios en Irak y Siria, según el modelo de la ocupación turca en Chipre, situación a la que la Unión Europea se ha acomodado en una evidente muestra de cobardía. En la nueva situación, Estados Unidos y Arabia Saudita, hasta ahora enemigos de Irak y Siria, se convertirían nuevamente en sus aliados.
   
   
3– El conflicto en Yemen

Es posible que los yemenitas salgan perjudicados del actual cambio de situación. Aunque resulta totalmente evidente que Arabia Saudita entró en guerra para instalar en Yemen un régimen favorable a la explotación conjunta de los yacimientos de hidrocarburos del desierto de Rub al-Khali y para dar al príncipe Mohamed ben Salman la posibilidad de “acumular méritos”, la ayuda que Irán ha aportado a los Huthis y al ex presidente Saleh desvía las miradas de los países árabes y de la llamada «comunidad internacional» de los crímenes que allí se cometen.

En efecto, cada cual tiene que escoger su bando y casi todos han optado por ponerse del lado de Arabia Saudita contra Qatar y los aliados turcos e iraníes del pequeño emirato. Lo que pudiera ser positivo para Palestina, Irak y Siria resulta negativo para Yemen.
   
   
Conclusión

Desde el 5 de junio de 2017 y la ruptura de relaciones diplomáticas entre Arabia Saudita y Qatar, las cancillerías se preparan para una posible guerra, aunque sólo Alemania ha mencionado públicamente esa posibilidad. La situación es extremadamente sorprendente, sobre todo si se tiene en cuenta que no es Arabia Saudita sino Qatar quien ostenta el estatus de observador en el seno de la OTAN [11].

Mientras tanto, anuncios de dimisiones siguen llegando constantemente de Doha y van desde la embajadora estadounidense Dana Shell Smith hasta el entrenador uruguayo de la selección de futbol de Qatar, Jorge Fossati. Y no sólo los países que se han puesto del lado de Arabia Saudita han cortado sus relaciones comerciales con Qatar. También lo han hecho, ante el riesgo de guerra, numerosas empresas sin vínculos particulares con la región del Golfo, como la China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), la mayor compañía naviera de China y una de las más grandes del mundo.
   
En todo caso, aunque sus reclamos –basados en la historia– están realmente justificados, parece a todas luces imposible que Arabia Saudita anexe Qatar, teniendo en cuenta que antes se opuso a la anexión de Kuwait por parte del Irak de Saddam Hussein, basada exactamente en las mismas razones históricas. Una regla se impuso en el mundo desde los tiempos de la colonización británica: nadie tiene derecho a modificar las fronteras que Londres impuso con un solo objetivo, que es precisamente perennizar problemas insolubles para los Estados nacidos de los procesos de independencia.
   
De hecho, así logra Londres que esos Estados sigan dependiendo de su antigua metrópoli. En el caso que ahora nos ocupa, la próxima llegada de 43 000 soldados pakistaníes y turcos que asumirían la defensa de Qatar debería fortalecer su posición.

Irán aclara


Ante el silencio más o menos generalizado de la prensa occidental, Irán salió ayer a contestar las acusaciones de Arabia Saudita sobre un supuesto complot contra plataformas off shore de este último país como respuesta a los atentados de Teherán de la semana pasada. Las dos notas que siguen son de la agencia iraní de noticias PressTV:


Título: Saudi guards open fire on Iranian boats in Persian Gulf, kill fisherman

Texto: Saudi Arabia’s coastguard has opened fire on Iranian fishing boats in the waters south of Iran, killing a fisherman, a senior border official of the Islamic Republic says.

The incident happened after two Iranian boats fishing in the Persian Gulf strayed from their course due to big sea waves, the Iranian Interior Ministry’s director general for border affairs Majid Aqa-Babaei said on Saturday.

Accordingly and without establishing whether the Iranian boats had crossed Saudi borders, the coastguard of this country opened fire on the Iranian boats and an Iranian fisherman was killed due to a bullet hitting him in the waist,” he added.

This Saudi move is not compatible with human principles and even assuming that the boats had crossed Saudi borders due to sea waves, they were not authorized to shoot at the Iranian boats,” the official said.

Aqa-Babaei noted that the Islamic Republic is following up on the issue to determine whether the boats had entered Saudi territorial waters.

This move by the Saudis was incompatible with human and maritime principles,” he reiterated.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia worsened after a deadly human crush occurred during Hajj rituals in Mina, near Mecca in September 2015.

Islamic Republic officials blamed the incompetence of Saudi officials for the incident, which, according to Iran, killed 4,700 people, including 465 Iranian nationals.

Earlier that same month, a massive construction crane had collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 pilgrims, including 11 Iranians, and injuring over 200 others, among them 32 Iranian nationals.

Mutual ties deteriorated further when Riyadh executed prominent Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in January 2016. Saudi Arabia unilaterally severed its diplomatic ties with Iran after protests in front of its diplomatic premises in the cities of Tehran and Mashhad against Nimr’s execution.


***


Título: Iran official denies Saudi claim about arresting IRGC members

Texto: An official with the Iranian Interior Ministry has denied a claim by Saudi Arabia that Riyadh has arrested three members of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Majid Aqa-Babaei, the ministry’s director general for border affairs, told the Young Journalists Club on Monday, that, “Saudi Arabia’s claim about the arrest of Iranian military forces is not true.

Earlier in the day, Saudi Arabia’s information ministry said in a statement that Saudi forces had captured and were questioning “three IRGC members, who were intending to carry out an attack on a major offshore oilfield in the Persian Gulf,” according to an Associated Press report.

The three were onboard [sic] a boat carrying a large number of explosives headed toward the Marjan oil field, located off the kingdom’s eastern shores between Saudi Arabia and Iran,” the report read.

Aqa-Babaei had on Saturday said that the Saudi coastguard had opened fire on Iranian fishing boats in the waters south of Iran, killing one fisherman.

Saudi Arabia, too, had reported the incident soon after it happened but had not made the claims about arrests and explosives. It offered a changed narrative, however, with the information ministry statement, which came some two days after the initial narrative.

In his Monday remarks, Aqa-Babaei referred to the new allegation about the arrests and said, “This issue has to do with the same two fishing boats” that had been shot at.

He said the Iranians in question were “simply fishermen” and had no types of weapons whatsoever.

In a separate interview with the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) on Monday, Aqa-Babaei confirmed that three Iranians — all known fishermen from the southern Iranian city of Bushehr — had been taken into custody by the Saudi coastguard.

Riyadh has severed its diplomatic ties with Tehran. Therefore, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has been following up on the issue through indirect diplomatic channels.

Observers say Saudi rulers have interpreted US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Riyadh as some kind of a green light to pursue their policies more aggressively.

The killing of the Iranian fisherman and the arrest of the other three came following that trip and also after Saudi Arabia led a group of its vassal states in cutting ties with Qatar. While the Saudi-led bloc of countries have accused Doha of sponsoring terrorism, most observers say the severance of ties and an accompanying economic war on Qatar have to do with the fact that Doha pursues its relations with Iran more independently of Riyadh.

A Saudi minister said last month that his country would work to move “the battle” to Iran. Another Saudi minister said on June 6 that Iran had to be “punished” for what he called interference in the region. Hours later, two terrorist attacks hit the Iranian capital, Tehran, killing 18 people and wounding 50 other people. Daesh said it had carried out the attacks.

lunes, 19 de junio de 2017

Mueve Arabia Saudita


Arabia Saudita anunció hoy que detuvo a tres miembros de la Guardia Revolucionaria iraní intentando atacar plataformas petroleras off-shore de ese país. Sí, chicos: Arabia Saudita, uno de los mayores financistas de grupos terroristas en Medio Oriente y otras regiones del mundo, dice que detuvo a presuntos terroristas iraníes frente a sus costas. Suena a podrido, claro, pero ahora las cosas se ponen al rojo vivo. Leemos en Zero Hedge:


Título: Saudis Foil Iranian Terror Attack On Major Offshore Oil Field

Texto: The situation in the Middle East is furiously escalating with each passing day. While today's news of Israeli financial support for Syrian insurgents came out of left field, our earlier assessment following the report of "turmoiling" Syrian rebels in the aftermath of the Qatar crisis still stands, namely that "the next major regional conflict appears set to be between Saudi Arabia and Iran. All it needs is a catalyst."

That catalyst nearly presented itself overnight, when the Saudi information ministry said the Saudi Royal Navy allegedly foiled an attempted terrorist attack on a major offshore oilfield in the Persian Gulf on June 16, when it captured three members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps from a boat as it approached the kingdom's offshore Marjan oilfield. The Saudi Center for International Communications added that the boat carried explosives, and the Iranians aboard "intended to carry out terrorist act in Saudi territorial waters."

Quoting an “official source”, the Saudi SPA news agency said that just after midnight on June 16, 2017, three boats bearing flags in white and red flags rushed to the Marjan offshore oil field off the Eastern Province. The navy fired warning shots but were these were ignored by the assault boats. It said one of the boats was subsequently seized and found to be “carrying weapons for a sabotage target.” The other two boats escaped.

This was one of three vessels which were intercepted by Saudi forces. It was captured with the three men on board, the other two escaped,” a statement from the ministry’s center for international communications said.

"The three captured members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are now being questioned by Saudi authorities," it said, citing a Saudi official and added that the vessel was carrying explosives and intended to conduct a "terrorist act" in Saudi territorial waters.

The Saudi Press Agency also reported that the Saudi Navy fired warning shots at the two boats that managed to escape.

According to Reuters, on Saturday Iran's Tasnim news agency said that Saudi border guards had opened fire on an Iranian fishing boat in the Gulf on Friday, killing a fisherman. It said the boat was one of two Iranian boats fishing in the Gulf that had been pushed off course by waves.

The alleged attempt to carry out a terrorist attack on Saudi oil facilities takes place as tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have steadily deteriorated, and follow a pari of suicide bombings and shootings in Tehran killed which killed 17 people in Tehran in the first week of June. Iran repeated accusations that Saudi Arabia funds Sunni Islamist militants, including Islamic State.

It the Saudi account of events is accurate, and if Iran is indeed preparing to take out Saudi oil infrastructure in retaliation or otherwise, the simmering cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is about to get very hot.


Teresita en la picota


Las cosas no van bien para Theresa May (atenti Mauri!). Las protestas sociales han comenzado a conmover el verano británico, y los analistas apuestan para saber la fecha en que la chica saldrá eyectada de su puesto de primera ministra. El reciente incendio en la Torre Grenfell agrava las cosas. Leemos en el diario español El Mundo:
  

Título: Caos en vísperas del Brexit

Subtítulo: Theresa May afronta la negociación con Europa sumida en una grave crisis interna

Texto: La primera ministra británica, Theresa May, apura la cuenta atrás del Brexit entre las protestas sociales tras la tragedia de la Torre Grenfell, el caos político creado por las elecciones del 8-J y las crecientes críticas por su falta de sintonía con los británicos.

Hasta la reina Isabel II, en un inusual comentario de alcance político, advirtió ayer de que el país se encuentra con un estado de ánimo "muy sombrío".

La policía reconoció entre tanto que 58 personas están "desaparecidas y presumiblemente muertas" en el incendio que dejó cabornizado el edificio de 24 pisos, convertido en triste metáfora de las desigualdades sociales en el distrito más rico del país. La dimensión de la tragedia va a más con el paso de las horas, y la ira popular sigue rompiendo a los pies de Downing Street.

A los gritos de "May must go" (May debe marcharse), un millar de manifestantes convergieron ayer a las puertas del número 10 por segundo día consecutivo, denunciando esta vez "la coalición del caos" entre el Partido Conservador y el Partido Unionista Democrático (DUP), con el que la premier aspira a lograr la mayoría parlamentaria para seguir gobernando.

May intentó aplacar la ira popular recibiendo a un grupo de 15 residentes de la Torre Grenfell, un día después de haber sido abucheada a los gritos de "cobarde" a su paso por la zona siniestrada. "El apoyo a las víctimas de la tragedia no fue suficientemente bueno", admitió la premier en un comunicado tras su encuentro con los afectados y a modo de mea culpa.

"Ha sido una tragedia inimaginable para la comunidad y para todo el país", agregó May. "La respuesta de los servicios de Inteligencia ha sido heroica. Pero, francamente, el apoyo recibido por las familias que necesitaban ayuda o información básica no ha sido suficientemente bueno".

La líder conservadora anunció la creación de una "fuerza de choque" en su propio Gabinete para hacer frente a la tragedia, además del destino de un fondo de seis millones de euros para los damnificados y la promesa de un realojamiento inmediato dentro del barrio.

El daño que ha sufrido su imagen a raíz de la tragedia va sin embargo más allá del deterioro causado en las últimas semanas por el fiasco electoral. Tras su entrevista del jueves en el programa Newsnight de la BBC, May se convirtió de nuevo en blanco de todas las críticas por su "falta de corazón" y la total ausencia de empatía hacia las víctimas del incendio.

"Usted no ha sabido leer el estado de ánimo de la gente ante la tragedia", le espetó la presentadora Emily Maitlis, que recordó el incidente a su paso por la iglesia de St. Clement's en medio de las protestas populares. "La han llamado 'cobarde'". May eludió la pregunta con una sus respuestas distantes y robóticas: "Lo que he hecho desde que empezó este incidente es asegurar que los servicios públicos tengan el apoyo que necesitan para poder hacer todo su trabajo".

"Pero han pasado ya tres días, primera ministra, eso es lo que tenían que haber hecho el miércoles", recalcó Maitlis. A lo que la premier respondió, escurriendo nuevamente el bulto: "Lo que hemos hecho es asegurar que el Gobierno va poner el dinero para ayudar a la gente afectada en la zona".

La entrevista televisiva tuvo un efecto incendiario en White City, el barrio aledaño a la Torre Grenfell, entre el lamento general de los vecinos, la mayor parte inmigrantes: "Este es el tipo de incendios que esperas en Bangladesh, pero no en Londres".

La temperatura social siguió subiendo ayer, en medio de una inusitada ola de calor. El breve mensaje de la reina, con motivo de la celebración oficial de su cumpleaños, tuvo un alcance más que simbólico.

Isabel II, que se entrevistó con los residentes de la Torre Grenfell antes de que lo hiciera la premier, se refirió no sólo al incendio sino a la reciente oleada de atentados terroristas que han conmocionado el país.

Aun así, la reina expresó su confianza en que los británicos serán capaces de encontrar "la resolución para plantarle cara a la adversidad".

A punto de cumplirse un año del voto a favor del Brexit y en la antesala de las negociaciones que arrancan mañana, el Reino Unido se encuentra en medio de un laberinto político y con señales cada vez más evidentes de ralentización económica.

La premier, que arrancó su campaña electoral con el lema de "fuerte y estable", llega a la primera línea de meta en una posición débil y tambaleante, cuestionada incluso por su propio partido.

El titular de Exteriores, Boris Johnson, ha decidido seguir arropándola contra viento y marea y ha acusado al Partido Laborista de orquestar las recientes protestas y "politizar la tragedia de la Torre Grenfell de un modo imperdonable".

El nuevo secretario de Estado y número dos del Gobierno, Damian Green, excusó el comportamiento de la premier alegando que "está consternada como todos nosotros" y asegurando que May tiene "el mismo grado de empatía que todos tenemos".

Dentro del Partido Conservador crece sin embargo la preocupación a que la tragedia de la Torre Grenfell sea para May lo que el famoso poll tax o impuesto de capitación fue para Margaret Thatcher, que cayó bajo el peso de la arrogancia y de la falta de sensibilidad hacia las protestas populares que precipitaron su caída. Por su hermetismo y sus dificultades para conectar con los británicos, May está siendo comparada también estos días con el ex premier laborista Gordon Brown.

"Si May no ha caído aún es porque los conservadores no tienen ahora mismo una alternativa creíble a su liderazgo", aseguraba Simon Maggs, 61 años, que acudió a la manifestación en Downing Street en compañía de su hija de 20 años, Xanthe. "Pero esta situación no puede durar mucho más. Pactar con los reaccionarios unionistas es jugar con fuego... Antes de fin de año tendremos nuevas elecciones y después un nuevo referéndum de la UE. Todo el caos de este año nos lo habríamos evitado si hubiera ganado la permanencia".


domingo, 18 de junio de 2017

La Gran Disrupción


Mientras Washington parece congelada en intrigas de palacio, algunos han comenzado a especular sobre el significado de los eventos en curso. La Gran Disrupción, el momento (que vivimos en tiempo real, día a día) en que el Imperio deja de serlo para dar lugar a un caos subsiguiente y, luego, si es que la Humanidad tiene suerte, al posterior reacomodamiento del tablero internacional. La nota que sigue es de Alastair Crooke, antiguo diplomático británico, ex miembro del MI6 y actual director del sitio web Conflicts Forum:


Título: Coming Apart: The Imperial City At The Brink

Texto: David Stockman routinely refers to President Trump as the ‘Great Disrupter’. But this is not a bad quality, he insists. Rather, it is a necessary one: Stockman argues (my paraphrasing) that Trump represents the outside force, the externality, that tips a ‘world system’ over the brink: It has to tip over the brink, because systems become too ossified, too far out on their ‘branch’ to be able to reform themselves. It does not really matter so much, whether the agency of this tipping process (President Trump in this instance), fully comprehends his pivotal role, or plays it out in an intelligent and subtle way, or in a heavy-handed, and unsubtle manner. Either serve the purpose. And that purpose is to disrupt.

Why should disruption be somehow a ‘quality’? It is because, during a period when ‘a system’ is coming apart, (history tells us), one can reach a point at which there is no possibility of revival within the old, but still prevailing, system. An externality of some sort – maybe war, or some other calamity or a Trump – is necessary to tip the congealed system ‘over’: thus, the external intrusion can be the catalyst for (often traumatic) transformational change.

Stockman puts it starkly: “the single most important thing to know about the present risk environment [he is pointing here to both the political risk as well as financial risk environment], is that it is extreme, and unprecedented. In essence, the ruling elites and their mainstream media megaphones have arrogantly decided that the 2016 [US Presidential] election was a correctible error”.

But complacency simply is endemic: “The utter fragility of the latest and greatest Fed bubble could not be better proxied than in this astounding fact. To wit, during the last 5,000 trading days (20 years), the VIX (a measure of market volatility) has closed below 10 on just 11 occasions. And 7 of those have been during the last month! … That’s complacency begging to be monkey-hammered”, Stockman says.

Former Presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan concurs: 

President Trump may be chief of state, head of government and commander in chief, but his administration is shot through with disloyalists plotting to bring him down.

We are approaching something of a civil war where the capital city seeks the overthrow of the sovereign, and [to achieve] its own restoration. Thus far, it is a nonviolent struggle, though street clashes between pro- and anti-Trump forces are increasingly marked by fistfights and brawls. Police are having difficulty keeping people apart. A few have been arrested carrying concealed weapons.

That the objective of this city is to bring Trump down, via a deep state-media coup, is no secret. Few deny it.”

The extraordinary successful ‘manufacture’ and ‘parachuting-in’ of Macron into the French Presidential election by the French élite, precisely has given to the globalised Deep State (including their US counterparts), renewed confidence that Europe and America’s slide towards ‘populism’, is indeed a ‘correctable error’. European élites now can barely contain their revived schadenfreude at the Brexiters’ and at the Populists’ presumed discomfort (see here).

But despite the palpable danger to the integrity of the political system itself, Stockman notes, 

it is no inconsiderable understatement to suggest that the S&P 500 at 2440 is about as fragile as the ‘market’ has ever been.

Any untoward pinprick could send it into a tailspin … Doug Kass said it best in his recent commentary: “Over history, as we have learned, a Minksy Moment develops when investor sentiment becomes complacent after long periods of prosperity and the data is ignored, and doesn’t seem to matter anymore, as I wrote in “It’s a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Market: Nothing Really Matters … to investors.” In short, the market has become ‘zombie’ (in the sense of residing within a psychological defence mechanism – as, when to contemplate the alternative – simply is too threatening to the psyche) [emphasis added].

Daniel Henninger, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, writes: 

“Donald Trump’s election has caused psychological unhingement in much of the population. But the Trump phenomenon only accelerated forces that were plummeting in this direction before the 2016 election…

“Impossible to miss, though, is how jacked up emotional intensity has become in American politics. The campaign rallies of both Mr. Trump and Bernie Sanders often sat on the edge of violence. Reporters describe political town hall meetings as full of “angry” voters. Shouting down the opposition in these forums or on campus has been virtually internalized as standard behavior. Refusal to reason is the new normal. And then, the unreason is euphemized as free speech.

Explaining away these impulses as a routine turn of the populist political cycle is insufficient. Something more permanent is happening.”

It is not, of course just the markets which are threatened by unperceived risk. Trump shall not be forgiven for challenging the sacrosant meme of a world divided between (good) ‘liberal’ democracies (led by the US and its European allies) and (bad) illiberal autocracies (led today, by President Putin’s Russia): by snubbing Nato and withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, Professor Michael Klare writes, “we’ve been told, President Trump is dismantling the liberal world order created by Franklin D Roosevelt at the end of World War II”.

An offence, it seems, against something somehow sacral: recently, US comedienne Kathy Griffin posted a video of herself holding the bloody, severed head of Donald Trump. “But that wasn’t the end of it” Henninger notes. “We may assume that as Ms. Griffin was creating her video, the artists at New York’s Public Theatre, were rehearsing their production of Julius Caesar, the one in which Central Park audiences watch ‘Caesar’ as a blond-haired Donald Trump, who is pulled down from a podium by men in suits, and assassinated with plunging knives … Whatever once fastened the doors of people’s minds to something secure and stable has become unhinged.”

Mike Vlahos (Professor at the US Naval War college and John Hopkins) tells us that, as a military historian and global strategist, he became curious to know just why it is that ‘world systems’ do ‘come apart’. His first, intuitive sense was that their collapse generally was brought about by some massive external force such as war, pestilence or famine, and by the concomitant mass migrations of peoples.

But when he and his students completed their research, he concluded that though these factors had often played an important part, they were not the prime cause of the system coming apart. Rather, he identified a number of key triggers:

· The élites became stratified, and politics frozen

· The peoples’ allegiance became taken for granted, at the same time that the élites chose to ignore threats to the peoples’ way of life

· Social mobility declined, and change is fiercely resisted

· Rather, élites work to maximize their wealth and status.

· Elite authority becomes excessively militarized – and justified as ‘saving civilization’.

He concludes from this study, “the situation that we inhabit today […] here in the imperial city in Washington DC, is that it is absolutely hollowed out … it is incapable of offering anything to its own people, the American people … I think we have reached a point where there is no possibility of revival within the current system that exists. The current system is set upon … is determined to eat itself out in a kind of civil war that is coming, and at the end of that, it will be done, will be finished”.

The Methoni, one of the great nations of the late Bronze Age, had this same problem with the élites and the 1% that we have today, and they were overthrown. That’s 3300 years ago, and it keeps happening again and again. And the very structure of the decadent relationships in late periods where élites refuse to accommodate, refuse to adapt, refuse to be sensitive to needs of the larger whole of society, means this has to happen. There has to be an overthrow … for things eventually to get better, to be renewed. In other words, you can’t renew from within”.

Is this the situation today? The pre-conditions that Professor Vlahos relates, in terms of élite hubris, self-regard, and disdain for the real concerns of people are there (the polarization of US society at the US election provides the empirical evidence for this). And Stockman, in calling Trump the ‘Great Disrupter’ plainly implies that he might be precisely the ‘externality’ (coming from outside the élite) – that might tip things ‘over’. This surely is what Stockman means when he warns about ‘the present risk environment’ being extreme.

Of course, the usual retort is that Trump offers no coherent alternative conceptual vision for the future, but only seized successfully upon a number of key insights: the power of cultural nationalism, the pain felt by the casualties of globalism, the impact of a hollowed-out US economy, and the need to put America first. This is true. These insights do not constitute a vision for the future, but why should one expect that, from the ‘Disrupter’? His ‘agency’ is that of catalyst, not that of final ‘constructor’. That comes later.

So, from whence does ultimate societal renewal come? The classic answer is that after ‘disruption’ nothing much is left standing amidst the (metaphoric) ruins of whatever stood as the reigning ‘modernity’. Historically, renewal was effected through a communal ‘reaching back’- beyond the roots of whatever represented the contemporary crisis – to delve back, deep into the archetypal cultural history of a people. The rummaging in collective memory, allows a narrative to shape, about why the present ‘hurt’ befell its people, and to bring forward, transformed into contemporary meaning, some ‘solution’: a new meta-historical understanding.

Plainly, this (a type of spiritual renewal) is not President Trump’s ‘bag’. (Steve Bannon’s the more so, perhaps?)

What does all this mean in practical terms? 

First, it suggests that most of us still prefer not to address the stark reality that “the objective of this city (DC), is to bring Trump down, via a deep state-media coup” and the bitter political trench warfare, which this portends. We prefer to rest in complacency, (as zombies for now), until a crisis squarely hits us – in a personal way.

Secondly, thoughts of an easy return to the status quo ante (such as via Vice-President Pence standing-in), is problematic (Macron’s election in France notwithstanding). Since the élites (all of them), have, in their ‘war’ against ‘populists’ and deplorables, totally lost legitimacy and authority for a substantive part of their populations. And they will not – cannot – adapt. For, that is their nature. This is the moment, Professor Vlahos notes, when a system – i.e. US operational governance – begins to ‘come apart’. Individuals, cabals within government, whole departments of state, look to their own self-awarded ‘authority’, rather than to that of the government as mandated by the electorate.

Thus we have this past week, the Senate voting 97-2 to impose further sanctions on Russia. Another wrench jammed into Trump’s foreign policy wheels – and explicitly conceived to paralyse and impede the President.

Thirdly, the intent is – like some Amazonian reptile venom – to ‘bite’ him with so much innuendo and assorted investigations and further allegations, that Trump, like the reptile’s victim, remains awake – but incapable of moving a muscle: A true zombie, in fact, as the reptile feeds on its living corpse.

Fourth, this zombified US President, will shortly face the requirement to negotiate with Congress an exit from a bubbling financial sphere soaring upwards, whilst a moribund real economy trails downwards – under pressure from the fast-approaching debt-ceiling deadline. The Senate’s slap at the President’s face with the Russia sanctions vote suggests it is more likely that he will be tossed another spanner: this time aimed at the wheels of the ‘Trump reflation’ programme.

What other insights might history offer? Two, perhaps: Professor Vlahos, during his discussion with John Batchelor, the latter points out that, even at the very moment that the hub of the Roman Empire already had fallen apart, the collapsing Empire was celebrated the most, when it was imitated at the furthest edges of Empire: by the peoples of Gaul and Germany, for example. Are we not seeing the same today, in Europe, as Merkel and Macron vow to keep the liberal, globalist values of the American Empire alive — at the edges of the American Empire — in Europe?

And lastly, the constituency that historically led renewal? Professor Vlahos: “The Roman legions, the Czarist armies, the German Imperial armies and the Ottoman armies”.

The Pentagon élites should note well.


Alfajores


No me jodan. Angelita tiene planes para la Argentina. hace una semana se reunió con Mauricio, ayer lo hace con Francisco. Le regala alfajores y dulce de leche, dicen los diarios. La brevísima nota que sigue es de Página/12:


Título: Alfajores y dulce de leche

Texto: El papa Francisco recibió ayer en el Vaticano a la canciller alemana Angela Merkel, con quien habló de la importancia del acuerdo de París sobre cambio climático suscripto en 2015 y rechazado recientemente por Estados Unidos, remarcaron su compromiso con un mundo multilateral y repasaron la agenda de la próxima cumbre del G-20, que se realizará el mes próximo en Hamburgo. El Pontífice y la líder alemana se reunieron durante 38 minutos en la biblioteca del Palacio Apostólico, y luego de la reunión, en el tradicional intercambio de regalos, Merkel le obsequió tres frascos de dulce de leche y una caja de alfajores que llevó a Italia de su visita a la Argentina a inicios de junio. 

sábado, 17 de junio de 2017

Falopeando al soberano


"El mercado es libre y yo hago lo que quiero", dijo en plena orgía menemista el gerente de una empresa farmacéutica argentina, en ocasión de alguno de los ridículos aumentos de precios de medicamentos en este país. Efectivamente, el mercado hace lo que quiere. Por ejemplo, drogar a los estadounidenses en lo que se ha dado en llamar la epidemia de opiáceos sintéticos más salvaje de la historia. Un signo más de la descomposición que se vive en el corazón del Imperio. La nota que sigue es de Zero Hedge


Título: Tennessee Counties Sue Opioid Makers Using Local "Crack Tax" Law

Texto: The US opioid epidemic has continued to worsen in 2017 as super-powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil taint the nation’s heroin supply. While the FBI’s final tally has yet to arrive, preliminary data suggest that overdose deaths last year eclipsed the 50,000 recorded nationally in 2015 – the most ever. And the body count is expected to be even higher in 2017. As the death toll in some of the hardest-hit areas of the country skyrockets - in some cases forcing county coroners to build larger freezers to store the bodies – states have begun filing lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies responsible for making and marketing opioid painkillers, in hopes of offsetting the ballooning public-health costs that have been a byproduct of the crisis.

Three Tennessee district attorneys are the latest prosecutors to file suit against the drug makers, joining a group that includes the attorneys general of Ohio, Illinois, Mississippi, New York and Santa Clara and Orange County in California – not to mention the Cherokee Nation. But the Tennessee prosecutors' approach differs from their peers in one unique way:

They are suing under the state’s long-ridiculed and rarely used “crack tax” law, which would hold Big Pharma liable for damages as if they were street-level drug dealers, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

While the companies targeted by individual states differ, prosecutors are all alleging similar misconduct: That the pharmaceutical companies leaned on researchers to play down the drugs’ addictive qualities, while spending millions on marketing them to both patients and doctors.

Another lawsuit filed in Washington in January alleged that Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, was aware of the drug’s immense popularity on the streets, but did nothing to curb its distribution.

The suit also names a “Baby Doe” as a plaintiff. “Baby Doe,” the News Sentinel reports, is a boy born in March 2015 addicted to opiates because his mother, identified as “Mary Doe,” was an opiate addict and bought her drugs in Sullivan County, one of the three judicial districts represented in the legal action.

Filed on behalf of the three prosecutors and Baby Doe by Nashville law firm Branstetter, Stranch and Jennings, the lawsuit spends dozens of pages detailing publicly available accounts of alleged fraud and deceptive marketing practices by opiate manufacturers.

It is now beyond reasonable question that the manufacturer defendants’ fraud caused Mary Doe and thousands of others in Tennessee to become addicted to opioids — an addiction that, thanks to their fraudulent conduct, was all but certain to occur,” the lawsuit stated.

Tennessee logs more opiate prescriptions per capita than every state in the nation except West Virginia, the News Sentinel reported. Sullivan County is considered an epicenter, so much so its law enforcement agencies snared their own reality television shows. Shelby County in West Tennessee is also considering joining the lawsuit.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III issued a statement Tuesday in which he said his office is investigating the state's options in pursuing its own legal action.

"Our objective is to identify and hold accountable the parties responsible for this opioid epidemic," the statement read.

That “crack tax” – otherwise known as the drug dealer liability statute - was passed in 2005 to allow for civil action against street drug dealers, many of whom were peddling crack.

However, since police typically seize convicted drug dealers’ profits under criminal and civil forfeiture laws – and since most drug dealers go to prison after they’re arrested – there was rarely anything left to be claimed in civil court.

But unlike street dealers, pharma firms are flush with cash. Purdue has annual sales of nearly $3 billion, while Mallinckrodt and Endo also rack up billions each year from sales of opiate drugs.

Many legal experts have said that the current batch of lawsuits resembles the 1998 settlement between the four largest US tobacco companies – Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard – and 46 states attorneys general. In accordance with that judgment, the tobacco companies agreed to pay out more than $200 billion through 2025, with payments to be made in perpetuity.

While states are no doubt in need of financial resources to offset the public-health costs they’re forced to absorb because of the epidemic, pharmaceutical companies have at least one strategy to legally deflect blame: If the showdown ever makes it to trial, defense attorneys will try to slough off as much blame as possible on the overprescribing doctors, like one elderly physician who was arrested earlier this month in New York City and charged with needlessly prescribing millions of pills.

viernes, 16 de junio de 2017

Táctica, estrategia y política


Continuamos con el post iniciado ayer, en donde señalábamos que pareciera que las élites anglosajonas han perdido el rumbo. Hoy: el aparato militar estadounidense en Medio Oriente y sus dirigentes. La nota que sigue, escrita por un militar (y analista de temas militares) salió hoy en el sitio web Moon of Alabama. En la foto de arriba, el secretario de Defensa de los EEUU, el general James Mattis, quien participara activamente en 2004 en la carnicería de Fallujah, en Irak.


Título: When Generals Make Policies - From Tactics To Strategy To Political Decision

Texto

June 13, 2017 - Mattis promises new Afghanistan strategy by mid-July: Defense Secretary James Mattis on Tuesday promised to deliver a new military strategy for Afghanistan to lawmakers by mid-July, ...

June 15, 2017 - About 4,000 more US troops to go to AfghanistanThe Pentagon will send almost 4,000 additional American forces to Afghanistan, a Trump administration official said Thursday, hoping to break a stalemate in a war that has now passed to a third U.S. commander in chief. [...] The decision by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis could be announced as early as next week, the official said. It follows Trump's move to give Mattis the authority to set troop levels ...

The U.S. has a problem with the former Marine General Mattis as Secretary of Defense. Mattis thinks tactics, not strategy.

It makes little sense to send additional troops when one does not what strategy they will have to serve. There is so far no other way to end the war in Afghanistan other than to simply pull out of it. The racket that the war has become can only be stopped by such a grand strategic decision. Sending troops before deciding on the strategy practically guarantees that the choice of a pull-out will be excluded from the evaluated possibilities. The tactical decision of sending more troops will drive the strategy.

Mattis already screwed up by allowing the U.S. Central Command to loudly stump around the al-Tanf border crossing between Syria and Iraq. The small al-Tanf garrison is legally very dubious and now surrounded on three sides. The only choices left are to pull out to Jordan or to start a big war with Syria, Russia and Iran. A much bigger war is likely not what the Trump administration wants or needs. But to pull out will now be an acknowledgement that the tactical decision of deploying to al-Tanf was wrong and become a loss of face. Here again the tactics are driving the strategy:

Strategy should drive tactics when it comes to handling Iranian-backed elements in Syria, not the other way around. Otherwise, the United States risks upending other elements of the war effort in Syria for ill-defined reasons. This may include expanding the role of an already over stretched Special Operations Command and more wear and tear on other elements of the U.S. military — all for ill-defined and unachievable goals. The United States has the capability to defend a garrison in the Syrian desert. However, the reasons for doing so are devoid of any purpose ...

Mattis is liked by some because of his aggressive stance against Iran. His career is otherwise only remarkable for the massacres he was part in (Fallujah 2004). It is claimed that he owns 7,000 books. I doubt that he understood or even read them. To me he seems to be just one of dozens of rather mediocre general officers the U.S. military has produced. Such officers are incapable of making sound strategic decisions. They know how to run the military machine, but that is the easy part. They lack a real feel for diplomacy, economics and cultural issues. They are unable to see the world through the eyes of the other side. They never learned statecraft.

General McMaster, the current National Security Advisor, seems likewise a man of tactics, not strategy. How else can we explain that there is yet no consistency visible in any of the grand games the U.S. plays. The reaction to the flare up in the Gulf Cooperation Council was chaotic. no game plan has been shown for Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. The pivot to Asia seems dead. The current policies are reactive and not part of a larger view or scheme.

The grand scheme should run from policy decision to (military) strategy and then down to the tactical decisions. What we see now are tactics driving a strategy and the strategy then driving the greater policies.

One may be grateful, especially as a foreigner, that U.S. foreign policy is in such a miserable state. But the damage that can occur due to a miscalculated tactical decisions or an emotional response to an event - without any thinking about the bigger picture - is likely bigger than the one any well chosen political strategy could cause.

jueves, 15 de junio de 2017

Otras lenguas


La Historia será cruel con Theresa May, la gran perdedora (a pesar de haber ganado) de las elecciones parlamentarias de la semana pasada en Gran Bretaña. La primera ministra forzó unas elecciones anticipadas creyendo que arrasaría; le fue mal. Por estos días el periodismo británico le dedica adjetivos adversos, por decir algo suave (algunos la han calificado poco menos que de "subnormal"). Pero, más allá de las personas, la lección de las últimas elecciones en Gran Bretaña cuenta otra historia: la de una élite gobernante anglosajona que perdió el rumbo. Horas después de la elección, el periodista Nick Bryant publicó la nota que sigue nada menos que en la BBC. Suponemos que, al leerla, a más de un funcionario le habrá temblado la barbilla. Acá va:


Título: The end of the Anglo-American order?

Texto: There has always been a shared conceit at the heart of the special relationship between the United States and United Kingdom that global leadership is best expressed and exerted in English.

More boastful than the Brits, successive US presidents have trumpeted the notion of American exceptionalism.

Prime ministers, in a more understated manner, have also come to believe in British exceptionalism, the idea that Westminster is the mother parliament, and that the UK has a governing model and liberal values that set the global standard for others to follow, not least its former colonies.

In the post-war Anglo-American order those ideas came together. In many ways, it was the product of Anglo-American exceptionalist thinking: the "city upon a hill" meets "this sceptred isle".

Nato, the IMF, the World Bank and the Five Eyes intelligence community all stemmed from the Atlantic Charter signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in August 1941.

The liberalised free trade system that flourished after the war is often called the Anglo-Saxon model. The post-world global architecture, diplomatic, mercantile and financial, was largely an English-speaking construct.

In recent weeks, however, the Anglo-American order has looked increasingly weak and wobbly. The unexpectedly messy result of the British election makes it look still more fragile, like a historic edifice left tottering in the wake of a major quake.

There is uncertainty in Westminster, and something nearing chaos in Washington because of Russian probe at the White House and on Capitol Hill.

Neither Britain nor America can boast strong and stable governments. Neither have the look of global exemplars.

In the six weeks since Theresa May called her snap election, the global tectonic plates have shifted fast, leaving Britain and America increasingly adrift.

Donald Trump, during his first international trip, refused to publicly endorse Article V of the Nato treaty and publicly scolded his allies over financial burden sharing.

He found himself isolated at the G7 summit in Sicily. Then, on his return to Washington, came the announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris agreement, a decision of massive planetary and geopolitical import.

Here, America First meant America alone, and Trump seemed to revel in his neo-isolationism - as he did when he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership early in his presidency.

For Britain, the diplomatic impact of Brexit has also become clearer in recent weeks. EU leaders have bluntly outlined how they will set the terms of the divorce settlement, in what looks more and more like a diktat than an amicable separation.

The 27 remaining members of the EU have also made it clear they intend to penalise the UK.

When Jean-Claude Juncker met Theresa May at Downing Street shortly after she called the election, he was evidently dismayed by her approach. "I'm leaving Downing Street 10 times more sceptical than I was before," the EU Commission president reportedly informed his host.

As one senior EU diplomat put it to me: "Britain has shot itself in one foot. We intend to shoot you in the other."

The British prime minister, by failing to win an election she didn't have to call, has weakened her bargaining position still further. Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has already called the UK election: "Yet another own goal."

In recent weeks it is not only the UK's relations with the EU that have become more strained. Its cherished trans-Atlantic alliance has also been subject to some unforeseen stress tests.

I never expected to report that Britain would stop sharing sensitive intelligence with the United States, but that was the story we broke in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing.

Then, following the London attack, came Donald Trump's Twitter assault on the London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Again, in the pre-Trump world it would have been unthinkable for a US President to mount such a vicious attack on a British mayor in the wake of a UK terror attack.

Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's former ambassador in Washington, seemed to capture the public mood when he noted: "Trump makes me puke."

The prime minister steered clear of delivering a stiff public rebuke to the President over his attack on Mayor Khan, presumably out of fear of angering Donald Trump and jeopardising a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

Perhaps this also explained why she didn't join with Germany, France and Italy in signing a joint declaration slamming Trump's Paris decision.

But again that emphasises Britain's weakness. The special relationship has always been an asymmetrical relationship but now it seems even more lop-sided. It speaks of the UK's post-Brexit diplomacy of desperation.

The trans-Atlantic alliance will eventually have to deal with a longer-term problem that will outlast the Trump administration. One of Britain's great uses to Washington in recent decades has been as a bridge to the European Union.

It's why Barack Obama lobbied so hard for a 'remain' vote ahead of last year's referendum. Under future US presidents, it is easy to imagine a German-American alliance supplanting the special relationship.

Voids in global leadership are immediately filled, and we've seen that happen at warp speed over the past few weeks. Brexit has galvanised the European Union. The election of Emmanuel Macron has revitalised the Franco-German alliance, giving it a more youthful and dynamic look.

Post-Paris, a green alliance has emerged between Beijing and Brussels. More broadly, China sees the chance to extend its sphere of influence, positioning itself on environmental issues as the international pace-setter. Even before Mr Trump took the oath of office, this looked more likely to be the Asian Century rather than a repeat of the American Century.

Europe eyes an enhanced role for itself, too. "We Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands," declared Angela Merkel during a speech in a Bavarian beer hall after the disastrous G7 summit.

In a pointed dig at America and Britain, she also warned that the days when Germany could completely rely on others are "over to a certain extent".

More and more, the German chancellor looks like the leader of the free world, something that would have required a massive leap of imagination in the years immediately after World War II, when the English-speaking liberal global order was taking shape.

Winston Churchill, during the 1946 speech in Fulton, Missouri, in which he coined the phrase "special relationship" (and also the "iron curtain"), noted: "It is necessary that constancy of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand simplicity of decision shall guide and rule the conduct of the English-speaking peoples in peace as they did in war. We must, and I believe we shall, prove ourselves equal to this severe requirement."

Right now, both the United States and the United Kingdom seem to be failing that Churchillian test.

These English-speaking nations no longer speak with such a clarion voice, and the rest of the world no longer takes such heed.

A new world order seems to be emerging that is being articulated in other tongues.