viernes, 28 de julio de 2017

Camaradas en acción

Como todo camarada del Partido ya debe saber, hace pocos días se reunió en Washington, en la House of Representatives, el pleno del Secretariado General a los efectos de sancionar una nueva ley de castigo a la potencia revisionista rusa. La nueva ley, cargada de sanciones acorde con el pensamiento estratégico del Politburó de la Revolución Capitalista Globalizada, fue adecuadamente votada por 419 votos a favor contra tres en contra. Estos últimos ya fueron convenientemente hospitalizados para su reeducación. Así lo informa Michael Krieger para el sitio web Liberty

Título: The U.S. Empire Continues to Stumble Towards Ruin


"There is a true law, a right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil. Whether it enjoins or forbids, the good respect its injunctions, and the wicked treat them with indifference. This law cannot be contradicted by any other law, and is not liable either to derogation or abrogation.

Neither the senate nor the people can give us any dispensation for not obeying this universal law of justice. It needs no other expositor and interpreter than our own conscience. It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing today and another tomorrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must for ever reign, eternal and imperishable. It is the sovereign master and emperor of all beings. God himself is its author,—its promulgator,—its enforcer. He who obeys it not, flies from himself, and does violence to the very nature of man. For his crime he must endure the severest penalties hereafter, even if he avoid the usual misfortunes of the present life."

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

There’s been a lot going on this week, so it’s unsurprising that an extremely important vote in Congress failed to get the attention it deserves. What I’m referring to is the recent Russia/Iran/North Korea sanctions bill passed by the House of Representatives in a frighteningly lopsided 419-3 vote.

Let’s turn to Bloomberg for a quick analysis on the Russian reaction:

Russia threatened to retaliate against new sanctions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying they made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump administration’s goal of improved relations.

The measures push U.S.-Russia ties into uncharted territory and “don’t leave room for the normalization of relations” in the foreseeable future, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday, according to the Interfax news service.

Hope “is dying” for improved relations because the scale of “the anti-Russian consensus in Congress makes dialogue impossible and for a long time,” Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said on Facebook. Russia should prepare a response to the sanctions that’s “painful for the Americans,” he said.

The bill, passed by a vote of 419-3 on Tuesday, would strengthen sanctions against Russia less than three weeks after President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held their first official meeting at the Group of 20 summit. The measure, which now goes to the Senate, would let Congress block any effort by Trump to unilaterally weaken sanctions imposed under the Obama administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections and its support for separatists in Ukraine. The White House has sent mixed signals about whether Trump will sign the bill.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Wednesday that senators want to examine North Korea sanctions added to the bill by the House. If senators insist on changes to the bill, passage could be delayed, possibly until September, when lawmakers return from a recess.

“We all want this to become law before we leave here for the recess,” Corker told reporters in Washington. He added: “The White House doesn’t like this bill. The State Department doesn’t like this bill. This bill is going to become law, OK.”

The sanctions are “pretty sad from the viewpoint of Russian-American relations and prospects for developing them, and no less depressing from the perspective of international law and international trade,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday on a conference call. Putin will decide on a response if the bill becomes law, he said.

Trump will sign the law because “he’s a prisoner of Congress and anti-Russian hysteria,” Alexei Pushkov, a senator in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said on Twitter. The sanctions are “a new stage of confrontation,” he said.

Russia has prepared “economic and political measures that will be adopted if the Senate and Trump support the bill,” said Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy chairman of the international affairs committee in the upper house, the RIA Novosti news service reported. Relations with the U.S. “are at such a low level that we have nothing to lose” by retaliating, he said.

To summarize, the entire House of Representatives other than three Republicans, Justin Amash of Michigan, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and John Duncan of Tennessee, voted for this thing. Not a single Democrat voted against the sanctions.

We supposedly live in a “representative democracy,” but 99% of our so-called representatives voted for this bill. Does this really represent the will of 99% of the public? These are the kind of numbers you’d expect to see in totalitarian states, and the ironic thing is the vote was driven by a desire to put a stop to supposedly fascist Trump. We’ve got much bigger problems than Trump.

Michael Tracey put it perfectly on Twitter earlier today:

Michael Tracey ? @mtracey
The complete conformity of views in the political/media class re: sanctions -- virtually no dissent at all -- should be a major warning sign
7:34 PM - Jul 26, 2017

As troubling as the bill is for relations with nuclear armed Russia where tensions are already high, the response from European allies is arguably more concerning.

As much as I hate to quote CNN, it actually published a pretty good article on the subject. Here’s some of it:

The European Union has delivered a stern warning to the US over a plan to impose new sanctions on Russia, opening up the prospect of a rift between the two allies over how to deal with Moscow’s foreign interventions.

EU President Jean-Claude Juncker said the bloc would act “within days” if it does not receive reassurances on the potential impact of new sanctions on European interests.

The EU has previously coordinated with the US over sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. But it fears the latest measures could hit companies that are involved in the financing of a controversial new pipeline, Nord Stream 2, that would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.

Juncker said the bill could have “unintended unilateral effects” on the EU’s energy security. “This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days,” Juncker said. “America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.”

Germany, which strongly backs the new pipeline, said it was concerned over the sanctions. It would be “unacceptable for the United States to use possible sanctions as an instrument to serve the interests of US industry policies,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer said Wednesday.

France called the US bill “unlawful” due to its “extraterritorial reach,” saying it could impact Europeans if enacted. “We have challenged similar texts in the past,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “To protect ourselves against the extraterritorial effects of US legislation, we will have to work on adjusting our French and European laws.”

The European Union expressed frustration that it had not been consulted over the new proposals. “New sanctions should always be coordinated between allies,” EU President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement.

The EU and the US imposed coordinated sanctions in 2014 over Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. President Barack Obama imposed further sanctions in late 2016 over alleged interference in the 2016 US election. Sanctions were also imposed under the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which targets Russians whom the US considers human rights abusers.

These are major EU allies furious with this bill, which makes you ask the obvious followup question. Did 99% of the House of Representatives not realize the implications of what they were voting for in their blind rage against Russia? If so, these people are extremely dangerous and have no business making important decisions for 320 million of us.

This is exactly how empires implode. Corrupt, power-drunk , disconnected elites living in an echo chamber of hubris always destroy everything in their path at the end of a geopolitical cycle. First they lose the trust of their own people (this has already happened), and then they lose the trust of their allies. This last part is happening rapidly and it’s moving much faster than even I imagined.

Unless something major changes we have to assume the U.S. empire is going down, and need to start thinking about what a post-imperial America can look like. There are countless dangers in such a scenario, but also many opportunities for a vastly improved and freer society.

jueves, 27 de julio de 2017

No retorno

Recientemente se dio a conocer un documento del Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos de la Escuela de Guerra de la Armada de los EEUU, en el que se detallan posibles cursos de acción en un mundo "post-primacía" ( Así vienen las cosas, chicos; el punto de no retorno parece haber llegado. La nota que sigue es de Eric Zuesse para el sitio web Strategic Culture Foundation:

Título: The Historical Turning-Point Has Arrived

Texto: It affects both international relations, and America’s domestic policies.

We see it all around us. 

Regarding international relations: On June 29th, Politico bannered «House panel votes to force new debate on terror war», and reported that, «Congress may finally be getting fed up with war on autopilot. A powerful House committee voted unexpectedly Thursday to require Congress to debate and approve US military action in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other far-flung countries». 

On July 23rd, the always-insightful Wayne Madsen at Strategic Culture Foundation headlined «The End of the ‘New American Century’ Pronounced by the Pentagon», and reported that, «The days of US-led dubious «coalitions of the willing» taking unilateral military action are over». He summarized an extremely important new study, which had been commissioned by the Obama Administration but was issued only recently (last month), titled «AT OUR OWN PERIL: DOD RISK ASSESSMENT IN A POST-PRIMACY WORLD» (, which calls for the US government to abandon unilateralism altogether, and to employ military power only in conjunction and cooperation — as equals — with a small circle of four historically long-term international allies (page 100) «the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and France are particularly active US global partners» on a global basis, but «the regional variety» of ally includes (in addition to those four) «Japan and the Republic of Korea in the Pacific, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel in the Middle East come to mind in this regard.

Obviously, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Alliance is a clear example of a regionally-based entente as well». In other words (page 103): «There is universal recognition as well that the United States and its defense establishment no longer exercise the degree of unchallenged strategic dominance enjoyed from the end of the Cold War through the immediate post-9/11 period». Bullying by America («regime-change») is, in so many words, said to be passé — not wrong, just no longer practicable (except, perhaps, when it has the participation of those ‘allies’, such as it did in Iraq, and in Libya, and — what are they really trying to say there — other than, perhaps, what they think the new President, Trump, might be wanting them to say?). 

For such a document to be asserting that NATO — America’s oldest, largest, most formalized, and most clearly military, alliance — is of only «regional» military concern to the United States, comparable to the military concern that the US has regarding individual countries such as Jordan or Japan elsewhere, is a huge break away from prior US military thinking. It is certainly a repudiation of the Cold War conception of US military commitments and objectives. It upends them.

This is also (whatever it is) a repudiation of Barack Obama’s famously repeated assertions that all other nations except the US are «dispensable». In the imperial view, only the imperial nation is essential; all other nations are mere vassal-states, of subordinate (if any) concern. It was always the view that imperial nations held. It might even be said to define «imperialism». Typical from Obama was this — that imperial President’s most thorough statement of the imperial doctrine, on 28 May 2014, to graduating cadets at West Point, «Remarks by the President at the United States Military Academy Commencement Ceremony»:

Meanwhile, our economy remains the most dynamic on Earth; our businesses the most innovative. Each year, we grow more energy independent. From Europe to Asia, we are the hub of alliances unrivaled in the history of nations. America continues to attract striving immigrants. The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe. And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help. (Applause.) So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come.

But the world is changing with accelerating speed. This presents opportunity, but also new dangers. We know all too well, after 9/11, just how technology and globalization has put power once reserved for states in the hands of individuals, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm. Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. And even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24-hour news and social media makes it impossible to ignore the continuation of sectarian conflicts and failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago.

It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world. The question we face, the question each of you will face, is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead.

He was telling America’s future military leaders that they would be waging wars for the only «indispensable nation», against the BRICS nations, where «rising middle classes compete with us» (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), wars under the guise or cover of excuses such as «the values of our founding» and «to attract striving immigrants» and in instances such as when «masked men occupy a building in Ukraine» (whom his own Administration had actually hired to execute his coup to overthrow the then-existing Russia-friendly President of Ukraine by a rabidly anti-Russia fascist regime on Russia’s very border — but he didn’t mention any of that), etc.

When Obama’s agent who handled Ukraine told the US Ambassador in Ukraine, 23 days before the coup culminated, to appoint «Yats» to run that country after the coup would be completed, and she said there privately to that American Ambassador, «F—k the EU!» this was Obama’s unilateralism, in the raw, not fit for public consumption but far more real than his exquisitely deceitful public words ever were. (George W. Bush had lacked such PR skill, of which Obama was a master.) And, now, this landmark military study, which his Administration had commissioned, says: It’s over. That era is ended. The era which culminated with the regimes of George W. Bush and of Barack Obama, is now a proven disaster and must therefore be replaced. (That it’s a proven disaster is known to everyone except the propagandists — including ‘news’media — for America’s Establishment; but, that America’s military policy must be changed in accord with this recognition, is, until now, real news, to everyone.)

And, the evidence that the historical turning-point has arrived regarding also America’s domestic policies, was clearly shown and explained in my article «Obama US Economic Recovery was America’s Weakest»; and, it was additionally placed into the broader global economic perspective by the current Chief Economist for the World Bank, Paul Romer, when he delivered a now-historic address on 5 January 2016 titled «The Trouble With Macroeconomics», in which he documented that (the mostly US-created, but globally regnant) macroeconomic theory itself, is a lie, and is known privately among economists to be fraudulent, though they don’t say so in public. Bloomberg News bannered about that speech, on 18 November 2016, «The Rebel Economist Who Blew Up Macroeconomics», which reported that the lecture «landed among Romer’s peers like a grenade». Only outside of the world of professional economists does the fact that economic theory is fraudulent remain still unknown, or in any sense «news».

We are living in a new world, and don’t really know yet where it’s going. The only thing that’s clear is that the turning-point has been reached, and that we are there, right now. The turning-point is now. But where the US and the world are heading, can only barely be glimpsed. The latest landmarks, summarized here, might indicate the way forward.

martes, 25 de julio de 2017

Nueva Alianza

Según algunos analistas, la política del presidente estadounidense Donald Trump en Medio Oriente es coherente con su declamada lucha contra el terrorismo islámico. Una consecuencia de dicha política sería el alineamiento de varios países clave en la región; casi casi, la medialuna chiíta: Líbano, Siria, Iraq e Irán. Sobre esto elabora Thierry Meyssan en una nota reciente para Red Voltaire. En la misma aparece la siguente leyenda de la figura de arriba: De derecha a izquierda (sentido de la lectura de las imágenes en el mundo árabe), Bachar al-Assad, presidente de la República Árabe Siria; sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, secretario general del Hezbollah libanés; el general Mohammed Alí Jafari, comandante en jefe de los Guardianes de la Revolución iraníes; Michel Aoun, presidente del Líbano; y Haider al-Abadi, primer ministro de Irak, se ven convertidos de hecho en camaradas de armas contra los yihadistas.

Título: Surgimiento de una nueva alianza en el Gran Medio Oriente

Epígrafe: Comienza a concretarse la política del presidente Trump en el Gran Medio Oriente. Hasta ahora, Estados Unidos y sus aliados habían tratado de destruir los Estados de la región e imponer el caos, pero ahora están legitimando las alianzas contra los yihadistas. En los discursos, Irán, Siria y el Hezbollah siguen siendo los enemigos que habría que liquidar, pero en la práctica se han convertido en socios. Esta nueva situación podría permitir a los Estados de la región sacar a las transnacionales del juego político y lograr el restablecimiento de la paz.

Texto: Poco a poco, comienza a concretarse la política exterior del presidente Trump. En el Medio Oriente ampliado –o Gran Medio Oriente– Trump ha logrado, con ayuda de su consejero de seguridad nacional, el general H. R. McMaster, y de su director de la CIA, Mike Pompeo, poner fin a los programas secretos de ayuda a los yihadistas.

Contrariamente a lo que trata de dar a entender el Washington Post, aunque es cierto que esa decisión se tomó antes del encuentro que Trump sostuvo al margen del G20 con el presidente ruso Vladimir Putin, es importante el hecho que su adopción es también anterior a la preparación de la cumbre de Riad, celebrada a mediados de mayo. El objetivo de esa decisión no era arrodillarse ante el zar ruso, como afirma la clase política estadounidense, sino poner fin a la utilización del terrorismo, como Donald Trump había anunciado durante su campaña electoral.

Por supuesto, toda la prensa occidental se hizo eco de las insinuaciones del Washington Post. Si bien es posible imputar esto último al usual comportamiento de manada de los periodistas occidentales, se trata más probablemente de una nueva demostración del hecho que los grandes medios de difusión están en manos de los organizadores de la guerra que asola el Medio Oriente y de la confrontación con Rusia.

Las revelaciones provenientes de Bulgaria sobre la existencia de una gran red de tráfico de armas, creada por el general estadounidense David Petraeus cuando era director de la CIA –en 2012– y posteriormente controlada por el propio Petraeus desde su oficina privada en el fondo de inversiones KKR, demuestran el enorme poder de los partidarios de la guerra.

Al menos 17 Estados han participado en esa operación, identificada como «Timber Sycamore», durante la cual Azerbaiyán garantizó el transporte de 28 000 toneladas de armas destinadas a los yihadistas mientras que Israel proporcionaba documentos falsos sobre la destinación final de todo ese armamento. Todo indica que David Petraeus y KKR actuaron con ayuda del secretario general adjunto de la ONU, el también estadounidense Jeffrey Feltman. Por supuesto, nadie será juzgado –ni en los países implicados, ni en el plano internacional– por haber participado en ese gigantesco tráfico de armas, cuyo volumen no tiene precedente en la historia.

Ya resulta más que evidente que, desde hace 4 años, los pueblos del Levante han estado luchando no sólo contra otros Estados sino, ante todo, contra un consorcio de transnacionales –o sea, una alianza de empresas privadas que incluye a los grandes medios de difusión internacionales– y varias potencias o Estados de nivel medio que, juntos, imparten órdenes a pequeños Estados, los que a su vez se encargan del trabajo sucio.

En todo caso, las dificultades que Donald Trump ha venido enfrentando para imponer su voluntad a la CIA y al Pentágono, así como la existencia misma de esa red paralela –de naturaleza simultáneamente pública (estatal) y privada– permiten entrever la complejidad de su tarea en el marco de un orden mundial que se halla bajo la nefasta influencia de intereses privados.

En un primer momento, y aunque se registraron varios incidentes, las fuerzas estadounidenses no han detenido la ofensiva de los ejércitos de Irak y Siria que tratan de restablecer la ruta de la seda.

La ofensiva que el Ejército Árabe Sirio emprendió con el Hezbollah, y en coordinación con el ejército libanés, en el jurd de Ersal es el primer resultado visible de la nueva política de Washington. Aunque mantiene sus fuertes críticas contra la participación del Hezbollah en esa ofensiva, el primer ministro libanés Saad Hariri autorizó el ejército del Líbano, a pedido de Arabia Saudita, a participar en la operación. Es la primera vez que los ejércitos del Líbano y Siria y el Hezbollah actúan oficialmente de manera coordinada. Aunque mantiene su retórica contra Irán y el Hezbollah, Riad estimó que resulta más conveniente trabajar, al menos momentáneamente, junto al Hezbollah y priorizar la liquidación de los yihadistas.

El hecho es que esta guerra, concebida para destruir los Estados de la región, está arrojando un resultado exactamente inverso ya que está forjando la unidad entre las fuerzas iraníes, iraquíes, sirias y libaneses.

China se prepara, al norte y al sur

Las dos noticias que siguen se refieren a preparativos de China ante la eventualidad de conflictos armados, uno al noreste, en la frontera con Corea del Norte, y el otro al suroeste, en la frontera con India. Este último no parece muy serio, pero el primero sí. Veamos las dos noticias, que aparecen hoy en Zero Hedge:

Título: "Time Is Running Out" - China Is Planning For A Crisis Along North Korean Border

Texto: Despite Chinese officials reassurance that "military means shouldn’t be an option," WSJ reports that China has been bolstering defenses along its 880-mile frontier with North Korea and realigning forces in surrounding regions to prepare for a potential crisis across their border, including the possibility of a U.S. military strike.

While all eyes in America are once again distracted by "Russia"-related narratives and the dismal GOP efforts to replace, repeal, re-who-knows-what Obamacare, the threat of North Korea has not gone away... and neither has China's preparations. As President Trump stepped up the rhetoric, pressuring China to do more to 'solve' the North Korean problem, and threatening military action to halt Kim's nuclear weapons program ambitions, it is clear that China has used this crisis to not just prepare for potential problems with North Korea but to reinforce military forces elsewhere.

The Journal writes that a review of official military and government websites and interviews with experts who have studied the preparations show that Beijing has implemented many of the changes in recent months after initiating them last year.

Recent measures include establishing a new border defense brigade, 24-hour video surveillance of the mountainous frontier backed by aerial drones, and bunkers to protect against nuclear and chemical blasts, according to the websites.

China’s military has also merged, moved and modernized other units in border regions and released details of recent drills there with special forces, airborne troops and other units that experts say could be sent into North Korea in a crisis.

They include a live-fire drill in June by helicopter gunships and one in July by an armored infantry unit recently transferred from eastern China and equipped with new weaponry.
China’s Defense Ministry didn’t respond directly when asked if the recent changes were connected to North Korea, saying only in a written statement that its forces “maintain a normal state of combat readiness and training” on the border.

While Chinese authorities have been preparing for North Korean contingencies - including economic collapse, nuclear contamination, or military conflict - according to U.S. and Chinese experts who have studied Beijing’s planning, perhaps more intriguing, as Mark Cozad, a former senior U.S. defense intelligence official for East Asia, now at the Rand Corp, explains..

China’s contingency preparations “go well beyond just seizing a buffer zone in the North and border security."

In other words, China is not letting a good crisis go to waste. Coad goes to note:

Once you start talking about efforts from outside powers, in particular the United States and South Korea, to stabilize the North, to seize nuclear weapons or WMD, in those cases then I think you’re starting to look at a much more robust Chinese response."

If you’re going to make me place bets on where I think the U.S. and China would first get into a conflict, it’s not Taiwan, the South China Sea or the East China Sea: I think it’s the Korean Peninsula.”

As The Journal further notes, Beijing also appears to be enhancing its capability to seize North Korean nuclear sites and occupy a swath of the country’s northern territory if U.S. or South Korean forces start to advance toward the Chinese border, according to those people. That, they say, would require a much larger Chinese operation than just sealing border, with special forces and airborne troops likely entering first to secure nuclear sites, followed by armored ground forces with air cover, pushing deep into North Korea. It could also bring Chinese and U.S. forces face to face on the peninsula for the first time since the war there ended in 1953 with an armistice - an added complication for the Trump administration as it weighs options for dealing with North Korea.

China has long worried that economic collapse in North Korea could cause a refugee crisis, bring U.S. forces to its borders, and create a united, democratic and pro-American Korea. But as WSJ's Ben Kesling  reports, China’s fears of a U.S. military intervention have risen since January as Pyongyang has test-fired several missiles, including one capable of reaching Alaska. In a notably outspoken article written in May, retired Maj. Gen. Wang Haiyun, a former military attaché to Moscow now attached to several Chinese think tanks, made his view clear (while carefully noting he did not speak for the PLA)...

China should “draw a red line” for the U.S.: If it attacked North Korea without Chinese approval, Beijing would have to intervene militarily.

Time is running out,... We can’t let the flames of war burn into China.”

China should demand that any U.S. military attack result in no nuclear contamination, no U.S. occupation of areas north of the current “demarcation line” between North and South, and no regime hostile to China established in the North, his article said.

If war breaks out, China should without hesitation occupy northern parts of North Korea, take control of North Korean nuclear facilities, and demarcate safe areas to stop a wave of refugees and disbanded soldiers entering China’s northeast,” it said.

Beijing’s interests “now clearly extend beyond the refugee issue” to encompass nuclear safety and the peninsula’s long-term future, said Oriana Skylar Mastro, an assistant professor at Georgetown University who has studied China’s planning for a North Korean crisis.

China’s leaders need to make sure that whatever happens with (North Korea), the result supports China’s regional power aspirations and does not help the United States extend or prolong its influence,” Ms. Mastro said.

In other words, China may appear to be preparing for a North Korean crisis... but is really building its capabilities should President Trump decide the time is right for more international distractions.


Título: China Adds Troops To India Border, Will Defend Sovereignty At "Whatever Cost"

Texto: With attention focused on geopolitical tensions involving North Korea, the world may have missed that another, potentially more troubling conflict is brewing on the border between India and China, where as we reported over the weekend, China threatened with military action after a "blatant sovereignty infringement." Since then tensions have grown, and on Monday China warned on Monday that it will step up its troop deployment in a border dispute with India, vowing to defend its sovereignty at "whatever cost".

The latest standoff started more than a month ago after Chinese troops started building a road on a remote plateau, which is disputed by China and Bhutan.  Indian troops countered by moving to the flashpoint zone to halt the work, with China accusing them of violating its territorial sovereignty and calling for their immediate withdrawal.

"The crossing of the mutually recognised national borders on the part of India... is a serious violation of China's territory and runs against the international law," Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a press conference quoted by AFP, adding that "the determination and the willingness and the resolve of China to defend its sovereignty is indomitable, and it will safeguard its sovereignty and security interests at whatever cost."

He also said that "border troops have taken emergency response measures in the area and will further step up deployment and trainings in response to the situation," without giving any details about the deployment.

Meanwhile, showing no signs that either nation is willing to relent, India and China both said they have foreign support for their positions on the conflict. As AFP adds, India-ally Bhutan has said construction of the road is "a direct violation" of agreements with China. Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations.

India, which fought a war with China in 1962 over a separate part of the disputed Himalayan border, supports Bhutan's claim, although India should "not have any illusions" that its position will prevail, Wu said.

"The history of the PLA (People's Liberation Army) over the past 90 years has proven that our resolve to safeguard (China's) sovereignty and territory... are indomitable," he said.  "It is difficult to shake the PLA, even more difficult than to shake a mountain."

India and China have vied for strategic influence in South Asia, a key component of China's "One Belt One Road" initiative, with Beijing ploughing large sums into infrastructure projects in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Bhutan has remained closely allied to India.

lunes, 24 de julio de 2017

Golpe en Arabia Saudita

Siguen llegando las noticias de que lo que ocurrió en Arabia Saudita el mes pasado, con el desplazamiento del príncipe heredero Mohammad bin Nayef en favor del joven Mohammad bin Salman, fue en realidad un golpe de estado en toda la línea. Así lo cuenta Pepe Escobar para Asia Times:

Título: A coup in the House of Saud?

Epígrafe: The secret is out: the ascension of Mohammad bin Salman, displacing CIA favorite Mohammad bin Nayef as Crown Prince, was in fact a white coup

Texto: What has been an open secret across the Arab world is not a secret anymore even in the US: What happened last month in the deep recesses of the House of Saud with the ascension of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, aka MBS, was in fact a white coup.

Nearly a month ago, as I’ve written elsewhere, a top Middle East source close to the House of Saud told me: “The CIA is very displeased with the firing of [former Crown Prince] Mohammad bin Nayef. Mohammad bin Salman is regarded as sponsoring terrorism. In April 2014 the entire royal families of the UAE and Saudi Arabia were to be ousted by the US over terrorism. A compromise was worked out that Nayef would take over running the kingdom to stop it.”

The source also referred to an insistent narrative then pervading selected Middle East geopolitical circles, according to which US intel, “indirectly”, had stopped another coup against the young Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, orchestrated by Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, with help from Blackwater/Academi’s army of mercenaries in the United Arab Emirates. Zayed, crucially, happens to be MBS’s mentor.

But instead of a coup in Doha, what happened was actually a coup in Riyadh. According to the source, “the CIA blocked the coup in Qatar and the Saudis reacted by dumping the CIA-selected Mohammed bin Nayef, who was to be the next king. The Saudis are scared. The monarchy is in trouble, as the CIA can move the army in Saudi Arabia against the king. This was a defensive move by MBS.”

Now, almost a month later, confirmation of the white coup/regime change in Riyadh has been splashed on the front page of The New York Times, attributed mainly to the proverbial “current and former United States officials”.

That, in essence, is code for the US deep state, and confirms how the Central Intelligence Agency is extremely annoyed by the ouster of Nayef, a trusted partner and former counterterrorism czar. The CIA on the other hand simply does not trust arrogant, inexperienced and hubristic MBS.

Warrior Prince MBS has been responsible for conducting the war on Yemen – which not only killed thousands of civilians but also spawned a tragic famine/humanitarian crisis. If that was not enough, MBS was the architect of the blockade of Qatar, followed by the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, and now totally discredited as Doha has refused to concede to outlandish “demands” in essence concocted in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Nayef, crucially, was opposed to the blockade of Qatar.

It’s no wonder the House of Saud and the UAE are already backtracking on Qatar, not so much because of pressure recently applied by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the ground, but mostly because of shadow play: the US deep state making sure its interests in the Gulf – starting with the Al-Udeid base in Qatar – should not be messed with.

A reckless ‘gambler’

MBS, although treated with (velvet) kid gloves across the Beltway because of the same old “Saudi Arabia is our ally” meme, is for all practical purposes the most dangerous man in the Middle East.

That’s exactly what the famous December 2015 memo by the BND – German intelligence – was already stating: The young “gambler” was poised to cause a lot of trouble. Financial circles in the European Union are absolutely terrified that his geopolitical gambles may end up sending millions of retirement accounts into the dust.

The BND memo crucially detailed how the House of Saud, in Syria, had bankrolled the creation of the Army of Conquest – basically a revamp of Jabhat al-Nusra, aka al-Qaeda in Syria – as well as ideological sister outfit Ahrar al-Sham.

That amounted to the House of Saud aiding, abetting and weaponizing Salafi-jihadi terrorism. And this from a regime that, after seducing US President Donald Trump to star in an embarrassing sword dance, felt it was free to accuse Qatar of being a terrorist nation.

MBS’s blockade of Qatar has nothing to do with silencing al-Jazeera; it relates to the Saudi defeat in Syria, and the fact that Doha abandoned the “Assad must go” dead-ender to the benefit of allying itself with Tehran to sell liquefied natural gas to Europe out of their jointly owned North Dome/South Pars giant gas field.

MBS – as well as his ailing dad – skipped the Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg; the Qatar embarrassment was too much of a burden, considering for instance Doha’s position as a powerful investor in both France and the UK. Still, all eyes are on him; MBS has promised to turbocharge the vicious Sunni/Shiite confrontation, taking the war “inside Iran”.

And further on down the road, there’s the question of how MBS is going to handle the fraught-with-risk Aramco initial public offering.

It ain’t over till the (abaya-clad) fat lady sings.

domingo, 23 de julio de 2017

Un informe del DoD

Se dio a conocer un estudio del Departamento de Defensa de los EEUU que llama la atención por su sobriedad a la hora de analizar el papel del Imperio en un mundo que ya no le es favorable. El estudio tiene alrededor de un año y está circulando por algunos medios. Lo que sigue es un análisis del mismo a cargo de Wayne Madsen para el sitio web Strategic Culture Foundation:

Título: The End of the ‘New American Century’ Pronounced by the Pentagon

Texto: The US Department of Defense is fond of issuing reports, many of which contain a massive amount of Pentagon jargon and gobbledygook terms. But, one recent report, while not lacking in typical gibberish, contains one clear and unambiguous message. The neo-conservative «New American Century» pet project, which saw the United States engage in quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as an unending «global war on terror», is dead and buried.

A US Army War College (USAWC) report, titled «At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World», has raised eyebrows inside the Washington Beltway and beyond. The report, written by an Army Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and USAWC team headed by Professor Nathan Freier, states it does «not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the US Government». It is doubtful the report, sponsored by the Joint Staff of the Pentagon, would have been commissioned had the Pentagon not seen the need to prepare for the end of America's unipolar military dominance that has been in place since the end of the Cold War.

The post-primacy report saw input from the Department of Defense and US Intelligence Community, including the Joint Staff, the US Central Command (USCENTCOM), the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), all critical stakeholders in the revamped US military strategy.

Lest anyone believe that the report represents a new way of thinking by the Donald Trump administration, it should be pointed out that the commissioning and preparation of the report began in July 2016, six months before the end of the Barack Obama administration. The report was a budgeted requirement contained in Obama's Fiscal Year 2017 Pentagon budget.

The report identified five key components of the US post-primacy strategy:

- Hyperconnectivity and weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection (this has already seen a decision to split the US Cyber Command off from the National Security Agency to allow cyber-warriors extra-constitutional «leg room» to conduct offensive information warfare operations against both military and civilian targets).

- A rapidly fracturing post-Cold War status quo.

- Proliferation, diversification, and atomization of effective counter-US resistance.

- Resurgent but transformed great power competition.

- Violent or disruptive dissolution of political cohesion and identity.

The Pentagon's acceptance that there is a «rapidly fracturing post-Cold War status quo» is perhaps the most important realization of a change in superpower status since the United Kingdom concluded that the days of the British Empire were at a close. This resulted in the decision of Prime Minister Harold Wilson in January 1968 to withdraw all British military forces from «East of Suez.» Defense Minister Denis Healey made the dramatic announcement that all British military forces would be withdrawn by 1971 from major military bases in South East Asia, «east of Aden», primarily in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as the Persian Gulf and the Maldives. The decision saw the independence of Aden as a socialist republic - South Yemen, the leasing to the United States of a military base on Diego Garcia in the newly-formed British Indian Ocean Territory (along with the removal of Chagos Islanders from their native islands), the independence of the Trucial States as the United Arab Emirates, and transfer to US control of a British naval base in Bahrain.

The Pentagon's post-primacy report questions the need for foreign military bases in support of «surge» military operations. The report states «considerations of surge can no longer be limited to high-end combined arms warfighting». This is a tip of the hat to the cyber-fighters who may see their own capabilities increased with the de-prioritization of surge military combat. The report also states that DoD «no longer can—as in the past—automatically generate consistent and sustained local military superiority at range.» In other words, forget about a US military response such as Operation Desert Shield that saw a massive transfer of US military might to Saudi Arabia prior to the retaking of Kuwait and the first US invasion of Iraq in 1991.

The Pentagon sees some international risks as acceptable if they can be managed. This risk mitigation appears to be focused on the North Korean nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile threat. The report states that the US should avoid «policy goals that prove overly ambitious or unattainable in practice». A US military defeat of North Korea would only be possible after the resulting mass deaths of South Korean and American military personnel and civilians in South Korea». Chalk off a US military defeat of North Korea as «overly ambitious» and «unattainable». The report also states that there are «prohibitive costs» involved in some military policies. The authors urge that American military doctrine steer clear of «objectives or goals that in the end prove little more than Pyrrhic victories.» This is a clear reference to the quagmires and «false victories» previously proclaimed by the US and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, both Pyrrhic victories in the truest sense of the term.

One member of the post-primacy study team shocked his colleagues by telling them that it is very possible for the US to be defeated in some military confrontations. The «we can lose» specter helped guide the conclusions of the report. Among the conclusions are the possibilities that «the vulnerability, erosion, or even loss of assumed US military advantage vis-à-vis many of its most consequential defense-relevant challenges» should be taken seriously and that the «volatile restructuring of international security affairs appears increasingly inhospitable to unchallenged American leadership». The emergence of China as a significant world military power and the re-emergency of Russia as a military power are cases in point. Turkey's steady drift away from Europe into a «Eurasian» and «pan-Turkic» world view adds the NATO nation to a growing list of potential US adversaries. These and other developments are seen by the post-primacy planners as a part of «resurgent but transformed great power competition».

The Pentagon study team also clearly views the «violent or disruptive dissolution of political cohesion and identity» as a watershed in altering the post-Cold War and post-9/11 eras that saw a dominance of the United States over global military and economic affairs. The success of the Brexit referendum that saw the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union, as well as popular support for the independence of Scotland and Catalonia are seen by the Pentagon as «disruptive dissolution of political cohesion and identity». Whereas in past Pentagon reports there would have been suggestions on how to counter such «disruption» with a military and counter-insurgency response, in the post-primacy world, the Pentagon is merely calling for the management of the risk involved. It is a far cry from rattling sabers and sounding the clarions for war, whether in Libya and Syria or Somalia and Panama.

The post-primacy report recognizes that the post-9/11 US military policy is no longer practicable nor doable. That policy, spelled out in the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) for 2001, stated: «the foundation of a peaceful world... rests on the ability of the US Armed Forces to maintain a substantial margin of national military advantage relative to others. The US uses this advantage not to dominate others, but... to dissuade new functional or geographic military competitions from emerging and to manage them if they do». Those days are over with China and Russia, along with Turkey, Iran, Germany, France, and India forming «new functional military competitions.» The US is unable to «manage» them, so Washington will have to determine how to live with the «risks».

The report's authors believe that «the status quo that was hatched and nurtured by US strategists after World War II and has for decades been the principal ‘beat’ for DoD is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing. Consequently, the United States’ role in and approach to the world may be fundamentally changing as well.» This is a cogent view of the present state of world affairs minus the jingoism often heard from the Trump White House and right-wing members of the US Congress.

The post-primacy recommendations see the primary priority for the United States as the protection of US territory: «Secure US territory, people, infrastructure, and property against significant harm».

The second priority is to «secure access to the global commons and strategic regions, markets, and resources.» This would include keeping sea lanes and air routes open for US commerce.

The report's authors agree with the pronouncement of British Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech in Philadelphia on January 26, 2017, six days after the inauguration of Donald Trump: «the days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over... the UK will only intervene where there are British national interests... Nations are accountable to their populations, and their powers are derived from the consent of the governed and they can choose to join international organizations, cooperate, or trade with whom they wish».

There is one clear message in the Pentagon’s «post primacy» report. The days of US-led dubious «coalitions of the willing» taking unilateral military action are over.


Desde hace un tiempo venimos advirtiendo algunos signos de descomposición en la sociedad estadounidense. Ocurre que, con la declinación del Imperio, el sueño americano ha dejado de serlo. Quienes lo buscaban hasta hace poco se hunden en otros sueños, más modestos aunque infinitamente más destructivos. Las dos notas que siguen son del diario español El País:

Título: La ‘solución Middletown’ a la epidemia: dejar morir a los drogadictos

Subtítulo: Las sobredosis de opiáceos se disparan en EEUU y hay quienes prefieren que el adicto pierda la vida antes que atenderlo

Texto: John Wayne. Muhammad Ali. Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump. El sheriff Richard K. Jones vive a la sombra de sus ídolos. Sentado en su despacho, los acaricia con la mirada. Ahí están sus retratos, junto a dos banderas americanas y una metralleta Madsen Ligera de 1946. Alcance 2.800 yardas; 600 balas por minuto. “Esto mata tanto como la heroína”, dice Jones. El sheriff es el encargado de velar por la seguridad en el condado de Butler, Ohio. Enclavado en el Medio Oeste, la circunscripción tiene sólo 376.000 habitantes pero registró el año pasado 210 muertes por sobredosis, casi la mitad que España, con una población 120 veces superior. Es la epidemia. La devastadora ola de opiáceos que en 2016 mató en EEUU a más personas que toda la guerra de Vietnam y que en el pequeño condado ha llevado a algunos de sus más notables ciudadanos a plantear una solución tan insólita como sencilla: dejar morir a los heroinómanos.

La propuesta ha surgido desde las ruinas del sueño americano. En el antiguo cinturón industrial, las grandes factorías han cerrado sus puertas y la mayoría blanca que antes veía el universo a sus pies ha quedado atrapada en un recuerdo que ya no existe. El trabajo seguro, la casita de madera, el césped cortado milimétricamente han dado paso al miedo. Hay paro y sueldos cada vez más bajos. China, México y los fantasmas de la derecha radical asoman por todas las esquinas. “La gente quiere soluciones y trabajo. Está harta de los partidos”, explica Jones.

El sheriff ,1,95 de altura y bigote vikingo, es un tipo resolutivo. Poco dado a la divagación, lleva dos pistolas al cinto y tiene una respuesta siempre lista.

— ¿Cárteles de la droga?

— Habría que lanzarles la madre de todas las bombas.

— ¿Muro con México?

— Perfecto para frenar la heroína.

— ¿Atención a las víctimas de sobredosis?

— Eso no es trabajo de la policía.

— Pero la vida…

— La vida no tiene precio, cierto, por eso quiero que mis policías regresen cada noche a casa con vida.

Desde hace dos semanas, el sheriff vive en el ojo del huracán. Ha decidido que sus agentes no lleven ni administren Narcan (naloxona), un antagonista de la heroína que revierte de modo fulminante la sobredosis. Este tratamiento, con un coste de unos 40 dólares, representa la salvación diaria de miles de toxicómanos. Y en un país de donde los opiáceos generaron el año pasado 1,3 millones de atenciones hospitalarias, se ha vuelto crucial. Lo llevan los encargados de primeros auxilios, los bomberos y, desde luego, los policías. En 38 estados es obligatorio su uso. Pero no en el condado de Butler. Justo uno de los sitios donde más adictos mueren en América.

“No ataca la raíz del problema: sólo lo prolonga. En lo que va de año se han registrado 200 fallecimientos. Tenemos casos de adictos que en un mes han sufrido hasta 20 sobredosis. Yo no soy quien decide, son ellos al ponerse la aguja en el brazo. Estamos para prevenir el crimen no para dar primeros auxilios. Tampoco doy insulina los diabéticos”, zanja el sheriff.

Sus palabras han desatado una tormenta nacional. Organizaciones humanitarias y médicas le han condenado. Las autoridades le han dado la espalda e incluso el fiscal del condado le ha censurado. Pero no le han faltado defensores. Algunos incluso han ido más lejos.

Daniel Picard es republicano, católico y un destacado miembro de la sociedad civil de Middletown (50.000 habitantes), en el condado de Butler. Como concejal ha propuesto una fórmula para resolver el problema. A la tercera urgencia por sobredosis, en caso de que el afectado no haya pagado con dinero o trabajos sociales las anteriores intervenciones, se deja de atender al drogadicto. Simple y claro. Si no tiene dinero, se muere.

Sentado en su despacho de abogados, Picard trata de explicar con números su iniciativa. “Las sobredosis aumentan sin fin. En 2016 tuvimos 526 casos y 72 fallecidos, y solo en el primer trimestre de este año 596 casos y 54 muertes. Muchos no son de este pueblo o sus familias no quieren saber nada de ellos, por lo que el Ayuntamiento tiene que hacerse cargo de todo. Cada actuación por sobredosis nos cuesta 1.104 dólares, y cada incineración 700. Es un gasto desbocado y hay que tomar decisiones. Lo siento, pero a alguien le toca pensarlo”, afirma con aire de haber convencido a su interlocutor.

— ¿Y no siente piedad por los que mueran?

— Si cumplen o pagan, serán atendidos, Todo depende de ellos.

Ellos. Los otros. Los adictos. Sarah es uno de ellos. Acaba de entrar en la sala. Llega esposada y con el uniforme a rayas verdes y blancas de los presos del condado de Butler. Tiene 27 años. Nació en Hamilton y nunca ha salido de Ohio. Ni siquiera para ver el mar. Es toxicómana desde los 13 años. Ese es su mundo. Su padre murió alcoholizado, y su madre, tras años de analgésicos, falleció de una sobredosis de heroína cortada con fentanilo.

Sarah ha ingresado en la cárcel por quebrantar la libertad condicional. Antes robó e “hizo lo que tenía que hacer” por un chute. Ha pasado en tantas ocasiones por el filo de la navaja que se ha olvidado de cuántas veces ha sido salvada. “Hubo un mes en que sufrí 18 sobredosis. Sin el Narcan estaría muerta, bien muerta. Una noche me tuvieron que meter cuatro para que me recuperase”, cuenta.

Sarah no entiende bien el debate. Para ella, salvar la vida es una obligación –“¿es así, no?”– y Narcan el único modo de hacerlo. “Si lo quitan nos morimos, no le dé más vueltas”. Extrañada por las propuestas del concejal Picard y del sheriff Jones, agranda sus ojos negros y, por si acaso, pide una oportunidad. Afirma que lleva ocho meses limpia y que está segura de que podrá llevar una vida normal. Si se le pregunta qué quiere ser, no sabe responder. Y cuando se le insiste, explica: “A mí me basta con sobrevivir.

Sarah vive al ras. Como tantos otros afectados no es consciente de que su caso se repite a lo largo y ancho del país. Sólo el año pasado unas 60.000 personas perdieron la vida por la epidemia. Fue la principal causa de mortalidad en menores de 50 años. Más que el cáncer, las armas o los accidentes de coche. Cerca de 35.000 de estas muertes se debieron al consumo de heroína sola o adulterada. El resto correspondieron en su mayor parte al abuso de opiáceos de prescripción. Una plaga legal que empezó a generalizarse en los noventa y que ahora, tras décadas de inmenso negocio, ha roto los diques de contención. En 15 años, según el Centro de Prevención y Control de Enfermedades, las recetas de opiáceos contra el dolor se han triplicado y cerca de dos millones de adictos pululan por el país. Son la retaguardia de los yonquis. El gran favor de la industria al narco. Como ha demostrado un estudio de Jama Psychiatry, el 75% de los heroinómanos empezó con estos analgésicos. Fueron su puerta de entrada a un mercado donde los cárteles mexicanos no han dejado de mejorar sus redes de producción, síntesis y distribución. La ecuación es endemoniada. El material es más puro, los precios han bajado y los consumidores crecen a diario. Bajo estas condiciones, la epidemia se ha extendido fuera de control.

La reacción ha llegado tarde y, de momento, no ha logrado nada. El Congreso ha aprobado un plan de 1.100 millones de dólares, y los Estados buscan cada uno sus salidas. En Maryland se ha declarado estado de emergencia, y en Ohio, el fiscal general ha demandado a los cinco mayores fabricantes por fomentar la adicción. Son parches a una crisis que, como reconocen los expertos, requiere una actuación mucho más poderosa y conjunta. “O estamos todos en ellos, o no hay nadar que hacer”, admite el indómito sheriff Jones.

En las calles tampoco se ve una solución cerca. Las muertes siguen en aumento y los afectados permanecen abandonados por un sistema sanitario que para 28 millones de estadounidenses no existe. “En este país, si te caes, nadie te va a ayudar. Te quieren muerto. Por eso pretenden quitar el Narcan”, sostiene Errol Monroe, de 57 años. Es un yonqui mayor. Ojos azules, gesto seco. En su juventud fue mecánico, pero una lesión de espalda le incapacitó. Para mitigar el dolor, le recetaron pastillas. Catorce años estuvo tomando opiáceos legales hasta que un día descubrió la heroína. Más barata, más potente. 20 dólares por un trozo de cielo. Y ahí se hundió.

Errol ha buscado cobijo en un refugio para vagabundos de Hamilton. Tiene un café en la mano y pocas esperanzas para sí mismo. Pero su vida, cuenta, no ha terminado. Si aún lucha por abandonar la heroína, es por su hija. Ella también vive en Hamilton. Tiene 19 años, y algunas noches, cuando Errol se arrastra tambaleando se la encuentra. De pie, en una esquina. Ella también es heroinómana. Y se prostituye. Errol sueña con salvarla. Sólo por eso quiere vivir.


Título: Heroína, la pesadilla de América

Subtítulo: La epidemia de muertes por cócteles de opiáceos revienta los registros históricos en EE UU

Texto: Luis González fue adicto al crack y a la cocaína, estuvo preso, se rehabilitó, fue guardaespaldas de un cantante de los Bee Gees y se hizo guía de adictos en un centro de desintoxicación. Pero a sus curtidos 59 años no había visto nada como lo que está pasando ahora. “Se están yendo todos al cementerio”, dice. La epidemia de los opiáceos abrasa las venas de EE UU. Según The New York Times, en 2016 las drogas mataron a más personas que nunca, al menos 59.700 (una proyección a partir de datos oficiales del primer semestre y que continúa la escalada desde los 47.000 de 2014 y los 52.400 de 2015). El año pasado murieron por esta causa más americanos que en los 19 años de la guerra de Vietnam.

Del total de muertes, unas 35.000 fueron por consumo de heroína sola o cortada con opiáceos sintéticos ilegales que tienen su principal origen en China y que hasta traficantes de poca monta logran recibir por correo tras pedirlos en páginas ocultas de Internet. El compuesto más común desde hace cinco años, 50 veces más fuerte que la heroína, es el fentanilo —que mató a Prince en 2016—, y otro más reciente pero poco usual es el carfentanilo, 100 veces más potente que el fentanilo y capaz de sedar con una pizca a un elefante de seis toneladas.

Pero ningún peligro por desmedido que sea parece espantar a un heroinómano. “No me da miedo”, afirma Edward [los nombres de los adictos entrevistados son ficticios a petición suya], un blanco de 31 años en Overtown, el gueto negro más antiguo de Miami. “Es una jodida locura lo que te digo, ¿verdad? Pues no me da miedo. Llega un momento en que no te importa nada. Esta mañana me levanté enfermo, vomitando y acabé comprando una heroína de mierda, sin ninguna potencia. Una pura basura”. Diez minutos después, Edward estaba en suelo, desplomado contra un semáforo, viendo los coches pasar.

“La información disponible sugiere que el problema seguirá empeorando durante 2017”, indica por correo electrónico Nora Volkow, directora del Instituto Nacional sobre el Abuso de Drogas (NIDA). “Esta tendencia es el resultado de una crisis de salud pública alarmante. La sobredosis de droga ya es la causa de muerte más común entre los americanos menores de 50 años”, añade.

El boom de la heroína ha escalado esta década y es consecuencia de la barra libre que se dio en la anterior al consumo médico de potentes analgésicos legales. Siguiendo la estela de la batalla de los noventa contra las tabaqueras, varios Estados han demandado a farmacéuticas por haber alentado supuestamente el consumo de medicamentos adictivos influyendo en infinidad de doctores que los recetaron sin mesura. Florida se volvió la capital de las clínicas que despachan pastillas, llamadas pill mill (molinos de píldoras)

“Yo empecé con la oxicodina”, recuerda Dylan, un rubio de teleserie de adolescentes de 23 años enganchado a la heroína. “Odio estar así. Yo fui un tipo muy popular cuando era un chaval. Pero la cagué”. Ana, de 25 años y origen puertorriqueño, tuvo una entrada a la heroína que rompe el alma: “Mi abuelo era adicto y me la puyó para violarme cuando tenía 14 años. Me quedé embarazada y aborté”. Ahora camina sobre la cuerda de los cócteles salvajes que consume: “Desde enero ya me he muerto cinco veces. Cada día le ponen cosas más fuertes a la mezcla y me muero más que antes”.

Ana, Edward y Dylan reciben atención del Miami Needle Exchange, una ONG de financiación privada que les da jeringuillas nuevas, y les hace pruebas de VIH —Miami es la segunda ciudad en nuevas infecciones tras Baton Rouge (Luisiana)—. Los trabajadores del programa aparcan su furgoneta y la briosa coordinadora Emelina Martínez, de 49 años, sale a caminar por Overtown para saludar y que se sepa que han llegado. En cada esquina se perciben los movimientos huidizos entre manos que hacen correr la droga con discreción. Una blanca dicharachera y delgada como un alambre se saluda en medio segundo con un negro en bicicleta y esconde sus dosis bajo el pantalón. “Es La Flaca”, dice Emelina. Un treintañero blanco con una calavera en la camiseta pasa en patinete a su lado y le hace un gesto malencarado. “Él es de los más ariscos”, comenta.

En Florida, uno de los Estados más castigados por la plaga, murieron más de 4.000 personas en 2016 por sobredosis relacionadas con opiáceos, según cálculos preliminares no oficiales. Las estadísticas públicas registraron de 2014 a 2015 un incremento de más del 100% en muertes por heroína y fentanilo. Los casos recogidos por los medios resultan cada vez más cruentos. El pasado sábado se difundió la autopsia de una pareja que fue hallada muerta en la madrugada de Año Nuevo en Daytona Beach (Florida) con sus tres hijos pequeños en la parte trasera de su coche. Sobredosis por fentanilo.

Después de varios años resistiéndose, el gobernador Rick Scott, un republicano muy conservador, declaró en mayo el estado de emergencia sanitaria y asignó 54 millones de dólares (48,2 millones de euros) para el próximo bienio dedicada a la prevención, el tratamiento y la rehabilitación. Los adictos, reconoció Scott, “son hijos, hijas, madres, padres, hermanas, hermanos y amigos y sus tragedias dejan a sus seres queridos buscando respuestas y elevando plegarias para que alguien los ayude”

Tomando café junto a su amigo de origen cubano Luis González, Danny Tricoche, de origen puertorriqueño, exheroinómano de 63 años y miembro de otro centro de rehabilitación, dice con resquemor: “Antes la droga era cosa de los latinos y los negros pobres de las grandes ciudades y ahora que se fue para los suburbios de blancos, ¡ah!, ahora sí que tenemos un gran problema”. Los registros de usuarios de la organización Miami Needle Exchange plasman la novedosa característica racial de la epidemia: 152 son blancos, 117 son latinos y solamente 12 son afroamericanos. Emelina Martínez dice: “A los jóvenes negros les gusta la marihuana pero no los sueles ver consumiendo heroína. Creo que como se criaron viendo en sus calles a estos drogadictos y saben lo que pasó con sus padres con el crack en los noventa, no se meten en eso”. Cuenta que a su furgoneta llegan profesionales de barrios acomodados conduciendo sus coches de gama alta, intercambian sus jeringuillas sin apenas decir palabra y se retiran.

“Yo no entiendo esta matazón”, se lamenta González, y relata con cercanía ejemplos de la nueva pesadilla americana que por su trabajo conoce de primera mano, como “una cheerleader de Carolina del Norte que no sale de Overtown” o una bailarina de streptease a la que llamaban Strawberry [fresa] por su melena pelirroja: “Hace un tiempo me vino a pedir dinero y le rogué que anduviera con cuidado porque le están echando fentanilo a todo. Pero ella ya estaba tan malita que dijo: “A mí el fentanilo me cura”. Bueno, pues hace un mes apareció muerta debajo de un puente. Así se nos fue la Strawberry. Pobre blanquita”.


Las cifras de la epidemia son desmesuradas. En 2015 dos millones de americanos tuvieron problemas con opiáceos de receta y 591.000 con heroína. Esta droga supuso ese año un costo social de 51.000 millones de dólares, casi lo mismo que el nuevo aumento para gasto militar anunciado por la Casa Blanca. EE UU suma un 5% de la población mundial pero consume el 80% del mercado global de opiáceos farmacológicos. Policías y bomberos han empezado a portar dosis de naloxona, un antídoto urgente para sobredosis, para intervenir en las que se encuentran en las calles. Nora Volkow, directora del principal instituto público contra la droga, afirma que urge una respuesta “multifacética” para la que defiende “investigar medicamentos alternativos no adictivos contra el dolor; desarrollar métodos más efectivos para contrarrestar las sobredosis y para el tratamiento de la adicción; y educar a la población, incluyendo a los doctores”. Trump ha creado una comisión contra la epidemia. En sus discursos la ha definido –junto “al crimen y las pandillas”– como un factor de lo que denomina “la carnicería americana”.

sábado, 22 de julio de 2017

El factor druso

La foto muestra al General Issam Zahreddine, el líder militar más carismático de la minoría drusa que habita mayormente el sur de Siria. Los drusos sirios, fuertemente nacionalistas, han sido actores principales en la defensa de ese país en su región austral. La nota que sigue, de Dmitry Minin para el sitio web Strategic Culture Foundation, abunda en detalles sobre este aspecto y sobre las peculiaridades de la población drusa en Medio Oriente:  

Título: The Secrets of the Syrian War: the Druze Factor

Texto: Within the complex ethno-sectarian palette of the Syrian war, the secretive Druze community, who live primarily in the country’s southern regions, continues to play one of the most behind-the-scenes roles. And the Pentagon's underestimation of the strategic significance of this Druze factor has greatly contributed to the failure of its plans to take control of southern Syria, even with the assistance of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

What makes the Druze so unique is principally the distinctiveness of their religion, which is a radical branch of Shi’ite Islam that has over time incorporated elements of other faiths. Although the Druze accept the Islamic creed of shahada, they are often not considered to be Muslims at all. For example, like Hindus, the Druze believe in the transmigration of the soul: if one of them dies, then at that same instant a new Druze is born in the same spirit. When charging forth in an attack, on their lips is their famous battle cry: «Tonight my mother’s womb!» («I’m prepared to die, but will be reborn!») 

The Druze speak Arabic and refer to themselves as «al-Muwahhidun» («monotheists»). Their principal prophet and saint is the Jethro of the Old Testament (known to Jews as Yithro and to Arabs as Shu’ayb), who was Moses’ father-in-law. In other words, the Druze consider themselves to be followers of an ancient Abrahamic religion. They do not proselytize (one can only be born a Druze), and they keep their holy scriptures closely guarded. The Druze have a reserved and stubborn nature. They are outstanding and fearless fighters, in every way the equal of those other consummate warriors, the Kurds.

The Druze are well-known for their undivided loyalty to the country in which they live, a quality that seemingly stems from their instinct for self-preservation. The 100,000 Druze who live deep inside Israel are wholehearted patriots of that country, serving in the army where they attain high-ranking positions. However, the approximately 50,000 Druze of Syria’s Golan Heights, which is under Israeli occupation, have been holding tight to their Syrian passports for 60 years and, despite all the promises made to them, have no wish to trade them in in exchange for Israeli citizenship. In total, there are approximately two million Druze living in the Middle East, about 800,000 of whom are in Syria. They reside mainly in the southern parts of Syria, in the province of as-Suwayda, on the Mountain of the Druze (Jabal al-Druze), where they now number about half a million, and in the province of Quneitra, bordering the Golan Heights. There are also smaller Druze enclaves in the northern regions of the province of Idlib and in Damascus.

At the onset of the civil war in Syria, when it was not yet clear how events would play out, the Druze attempted to stay neutral. The government’s attempt to mobilize as many as 30,000 men from that area into the army did not succeed. Even the well-known leader of the Lebanese Druze, Walid Jumblatt, spoke out against Bashar al-Assad at that time. In addition, Jumblatt carelessly expressed his sympathies «in the fight against the regime» with the Jabhat al-Nusra Front, which later declared itself to be affiliated with al-Qaeda. He later acknowledged that he had lost the support of many of his fellow Druze because of this. As a result, a big question mark now hangs over his own political future in Lebanon. Some Druze sheikhs in Syria were also treading carefully, believing that the Druze should avoid fratricidal confrontations. However, the logic of war meant that it couldn’t be kept at arm’s length. The Druze were imperiled by every opposition faction. Only the official government in Damascus rose to their defense. 

The Druze well remembered how at the very start of the war, their small Sultan el-Atrache Brigade joined the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA), and then were annihilated by Jabhat al-Nusra for «religious heresy». The American-backed FSA, together with al-Nusra, captured major parts of the province of as-Suwayda, which then experienced ethnic and religious cleansing, the taking of hostages, and the killing of civilians. In the Druze enclave of 18 villages known as Jabal al-Summaq in northern Idlib, the jihadists forcibly converted 25,000 Druze to Wahhabi Islam, compelling them to destroy their own shrines, which for the Druze is tantamount to a death sentence. Plus their lands were handed over to the local Turkmen who are under the protection of Ankara. More than two dozen Druze were then publicly executed and the rest condemned to starvation.

Now the overwhelming majority of Syria’s Druze are staunchly on the government’s side. Of their militia units that are loyal to Damascus, the best-organized is the Saraya al-Tawheed, which is associated with the Lebanese Druze who oppose Jumblatt. No less popular is the Jaysh al-Muwahhideen («Army of Monotheists»), which has declared jihad upon anyone «who invades the Druze lands» (it is actually an alliance with Damascus). Also well-known is Dir ‘al-Watan («Shield of the Homeland»), which is active throughout the country, but has a branch in the province of as-Suwayda that is led by Sheikh Yusuf Jerbo, who is one of the most significant local figures supporting Assad.

But the figure who commands the most respect among the Syrian Druze is the charismatic Major General Issam Zahreddine, who in his youth served as an officer in a special-forces unit. He commanded both the 104th Brigade of the Republican Guard, which was besieged in Deir ez-Zor, as well as the city garrison. His son Yarob assists him. Interestingly, the 104th Brigade was also once commanded by Bashar al-Assad, before he became president. According to some reports, that brigade consists mostly of Druze who have been tenaciously beating back incessant attacks by Islamic State (IS) units for three years now. During the years of the siege, the guardsmen of the brigade have killed up to 5,000 militants, although they themselves number fewer than half that many. And with each day of this heroic defense, the authority of their leader, Issam Zahreddine, grows. For the 104th Brigade, this is a fight to the death: these combatants know very well what sort of fate lies in store for them should they surrender to the mercy of the hated «infidels» and «apostates» of the Islamic State.

Although they usually carefully plan out their operations, the American strategists handling the Druze were clearly «caught napping». Throughout the entire Syrian war, the Pentagon and its «field» headquarters in Amman decided to focus most of their efforts on the southern regions, so that’s where the majority of the resources went. The Kurds who ended up winning so many battles were only «discovered» by the Americans relatively recently, to a large extent only since Trump took office. In the south, they, along with the FSA forces the US had taken under its wing, found themselves handcuffed to the Druze they «hadn’t noticed». 

The turning point was the opposition’s southern offensive in the summer of 2015, which was supported from Jordan by the advisers and intelligence agencies of the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan itself. The goal was to capture the provinces of Quneitra, Daraa, and as-Suwayda, with a subsequent sortie toward Damascus. It was tough going for the government army, but the Druze came to the rescue. Their troops first decimated the enemy on Mt. Hermon in Quneitra, then defended the critical Thaaleh airbase in as-Suwayda after four days of nonstop fighting. And two Damascus suburbs that are heavily populated by Druze - Jaramana and Sahnaya - have played a significant role in the defense of the capital. 

At that point the opposition was pretty run-down and its offensive sputtered out. So until recently a strategic zugzwang situation has prevailed, in which any move is to the mover’s disadvantage. Fearing a threat to their flank by the Druze, in the spring of 2017 the Americans moved the FSA not northward toward Damascus, but eastward through Jordan toward Deir ez-Zor. However, they again miscalculated. The Druze did not sit by idly, but instead almost completely liberated their province of as-Suwayda, while the government troops skirted the Islamists from the north. Some reports claim that General Zahreddine, who was «on leave» at that time and had to be flown in from Deir ez-Zor on a specially chartered plane, inspired his fellow Druze to take decisive action. After the Americans bombed the columns of government troops advancing toward the Iraqi border, the FSA tried a counterattack on the Druze positions in eastern as-Suwayda, very near the Zuluf Dam, but after heavy losses was forced to retreat even farther.

Generally speaking, as the Syrian war is winding up and all its exhausted participants are most in need of additional manpower, the Druze can play an even greater role. They still have about 30,000 fighters of all types who could potentially be mobilized and whom the Druze are prepared to offer to the government. Of course the Kurds, who are considered to be the «heavyweights» on Syria’s military and political stage and have occupied over 20% of Syria due to a confluence of factors, could rally and arm about the same number - as many as 30,000. But the Druze, who still keep themselves «behind the scenes,» are an equally weighty factor, and this issue, which is becoming increasingly significant, is something with which all parties involved in the conflict, both inside and outside of Syria, must reckon.