jueves, 30 de marzo de 2017

China camina


Acompañando el desmoronamiento gradual del Imperio surgen las inquietudes sobre cuál será su reemplazo en el liderazgo global. China es número puesto, si bien su dirigencia política es más bien tímida al respecto. De esto habla la siguiente nota de Xulio Ríos para el diario español El País


Título: China da un paso al frente

Epígrafe: La posibilidad de que la segunda potencia económica del mundo alcance el liderazgo global es cada vez mayor

Texto: Las medidas y planes de la nueva presidencia estadounidense que apuntan al proteccionismo en lo comercial y a un incierto repliegue en lo estratégico sugieren la hipótesis de un declive pronunciado del liderazgo global de Washington. Y puestos a ello, no falta quien sugiera que la segunda potencia económica del mundo asome como un posible relevo. En un adelanto quizá de pronóstico, el presidente chino Xi Jinping no dudó en presentarse en Davos —el mayor cónclave de la élite capitalista proglobalización— como campeón del liberalismo comercial. Pero ¿es verosímil a corto plazo esta posibilidad?

Desde 2009, China es el mayor exportador global de mercancías. En los últimos años, el proceso de transformación que impulsa internamente, para dejar de ser solo la gran fábrica del mundo, tiene un fuerte componente exterior. El expansionismo de su influencia económica llega a todos los rincones del planeta y se ha dotado de instrumentos propios para reforzar la seriedad del envite. China es ya el mayor socio comercial de hasta 120 economías del mundo.

La ciudad de Xiamen, en el sur del país, acogerá en septiembre de este año una nueva cumbre de los BRICS, que atisba en el horizonte su primera década de existencia. El lugar elegido —una de las primeras zonas económicas especiales— parece enfatizar el mensaje de que la apertura y el desarrollo son claves esenciales, en las que este grupo de países debiera apostar, frente a la adversa perspectiva que, con sus planes proteccionistas, sugieren otros actores internacionales relevantes.

Esta cumbre de los BRICS en China llegará después del encuentro del G20 celebrado en Hangzhou en 2016. Además, en mayo de este año, Pekín acogerá una gran cumbre mundial sobre la Franja y la Ruta de la Seda, el proyecto bandera de Xi Jinping. Todas estas iniciativas empujan en una misma dirección. Se trata de integrar las políticas económicas, de exterior y de seguridad para avanzar en la creación de una esfera de predominio en comercio, comunicación, transporte y enlaces de seguridad.


¿Aspira China al liderazgo global?

El tema no es nuevo. Se ha especulado mucho sobre el propósito y las implicaciones de la emergencia de China en el sistema internacional. Nunca ha habido consenso sobre la existencia o no en Pekín de una voluntad hegemónica o revisionista en relación con el orden global. Se parte, por un lado, del abandono del enfoque ideológico que fue dominante en otros tiempos y, por otro, de la asunción de un pragmatismo. El objetivo de una gradual recuperación de la posición central en el sistema se ha visto acompañado de una reivindicación de la multipolaridad y de la llamada “comunidad de destino compartido”.

Con el fin de evitar a toda costa la trampa de Tucídides, una resolución violenta y traumática de la alternancia en la hegemonía global, existen diversas plataformas creadas en los últimos años: desde la Organización de Cooperación de Shanghái hasta los citados BRICS. China se ha cuidado hasta ahora de moderar su predominio a fin de no incomodar a sus socios, pero también para evitar ser señalada como una amenaza.

Lo cierto es que, tradicionalmente, China siempre ha rehuido posiciones de liderazgo: ha preferido actuar, en el mejor de los casos, a través de terceros y cuidando de “no encabezar la ola, ni portar la bandera”, en palabras de Deng Xiaoping. Ese perfil bajo parte de la premisa de que la asunción de mayores responsabilidades internacionales le puede acarrear más problemas que beneficios.

En estos años, la mayor presencia global de China ha favorecido el objetivo interno de acelerar el desarrollo, y no se ha tratado tanto de destacar internacionalmente. En este plano, sus acciones se han orientado a reivindicar reformas en el sistema y no a sugerir la conformación de poderes alternativos. Ha tratado, en suma, de lograr un mayor reconocimiento de su posición y de fortalecer la legitimidad de unas instituciones que en buena medida hoy día han quedado obsoletas en su representatividad.

Esos intentos de modificar la actual configuración del poder global discurren en paralelo a la vocación de facilitar que sus hipotéticos aliados ganen autonomía con respecto a EE UU. Para recortar distancias, China pretende atraer a otros para evitar que participen de una hipotética estrategia de contención; otra cosa es que persiga consolidar una coalición para asaltar el cetro del poder global.

Por otra parte, en su discurso las autoridades chinas rehúyen cualquier vocación mesiánica. Su modelo económico no es exportable e insisten, incluso ante sus más fervientes imitadores, en que cada cual debe buscar su propio camino. Su modelo político tampoco goza de predicamento, ni siquiera entre sus admiradores más entusiastas; su arquitectura social presenta grietas profundas que reclaman reparaciones en justicia; su cultura particular, muy desconocida globalmente, no tiene la dimensión suficiente para generar el acompañamiento universal que suscita Occidente; en el orden de la seguridad y la defensa, carece aún de atributos solventes.

China no está en condiciones de disputar la hegemonía militar, ni el papel del yuan puede suplir al dólar como principal moneda de reserva y tardará en situarse a la cabeza de la innovación científico-tecnológica a pesar del ingente esfuerzo inversor de los últimos ejercicios. Por no hablar del poder blando. Aunque su ascenso económico es evidente, ni de lejos dispone de los activos y recursos determinantes del poder global.

A China se le puede pedir que participe más, que asuma más responsabilidades y, tal como señaló Xi Jinping en Davos recientemente, está en disposición de hacerlo. Pero tanto por circunstancias estructurales como por sus propias taras internas, no dispone de la capacidad hoy día para sustituir a EE UU y a Occidente en el liderazgo global, al menos conforme a los patrones al uso.


Un pato cojo

Cabe recordar que la segunda potencia económica del mundo ostenta la posición 90ª en el índice de desarrollo humano. Mejora posiciones, es verdad, pero le falta lo suyo. El desarrollo interno, de una parte, y el incremento de su influencia regional como trampolín para aumentar su proyección a escala global son sus prioridades. Su liderazgo no puede ser inmediatamente mundial. Eso no significa que China renuncie a ejercer más influencia o a reclamar reformas en el sistema global con más insistencia, ya sea en lo político, financiero o comercial. En esas está hoy día.

China abriga desde hace tiempo un sentimiento de exclusión de las grandes decisiones económicas y políticas mundiales. No se conformará con ser un socio menor y no secundará propuestas que suenen a subordinación o comparsa. Espera su momento y este podría estar al llegar.

La estratégica oportunidad que ahora parece abrirse con Donald Trump le facilitará el reforzamiento de su papel global, pero la elevación precipitada y exacerbada de su perfil internacional puede alentar conflictos indeseados, afectando negativamente a su ritmo de modernización.

miércoles, 29 de marzo de 2017

Irán-Rusia: lo que está en juego



Sigue dando que hablar el reciente encuentro, en Moscú, entre los presidentes de Irán y Rusia. Acá va una nota de Peter Korzun dándole un poco de contexto a la cosa. El artículo salió hoy en el sitio web Strategic Culture Foundation: 


Título: Iran’s President Rouhani Visited Russia: Another Step to Multipolar World

Texto: The significance of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Russia on March 27-28 goes far beyond the bilateral relationship. Iran is one of the main actors in Syria and Iraq. It has an importance place in the geopolitical plans of US President Donald Trump. Its relationship with Russia is an important factor of international politics. The future of the entire Middle East depends to a great extent on what Russia and Iran do and how effectively they coordinate their activities.

Less than two months are left till the presidential election in Iran. The presidential race formally starts on April 17 and Rouhani has a good chance to win. True, the country’s foreign policy at the strategic level is defined by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but the executive branch of the government led by president implements it. The spiritual leader does not pay visits to other countries but Russian President Vladimir Putin met him in Tehran last year – the second time in the recent 17 years.

This was Rouhani's first official visit to Russia and the first time he and Putin met within a bilateral framework. The trip took place against the background of growing partnership as both countries have become leading forces of the Astana process that made Iran, Russia and Turkey guarantors of the Syrian cease-fire.

True, the cooperation in Syria is of utmost importance but there is each and every reason to believe that Russia and Iran will have to join together in an attempt to settle the conflict in Afghanistan. As a regional superpower, Iran will gain much by coordinating activities with Russia in that country after the US withdrawal that seems to be inevitable. Such cooperation would become a game-changing factor with far-reaching consequences for the region from the Mediterranean to Pakistan.

The emerging triangle, including Russia, Iran and Turkey, becomes an alliance, could reshape the region. A ceasefire in Syria reached as a result of the Astana process led by the «big three» would reduce the clout of the US, the UK and France. Actually, their influence has already been diminished. The neighboring states will see that progress can be achieved without the «traditional players» representing the West.

Russia is the country that can debunk the myth that the Middle East is threatened by a «Shia threat» emanating from Tehran. It can use its close and friendly relations with leading Sunni states – Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and, perhaps, Saudi Arabia – to play the stabilizing role of mediator between the Shia and Sunni camps. Russia has a unique position to act as an intermediary between Iran and Israel – something nobody else can do.

It’ll take years to heal the wounds and mitigate the contradictions between Shia and Sunni Muslims in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Today, the West does not enjoy the clout it once had there. The borders drawn by Western countries caused many conflicts; direct military interventions made them lose trust and support. Under the circumstances, Russia is not exactly an outside actor. Moscow needs peace and stability in the region. This goal can be achieved in tandem with Turkey and Iran. Iraq and Syria can join the trio after they overcome the devastating results of wars. It makes the cooperation with Tehran an issue of paramount importance for Russia.

The bilateral relationship is going to be strengthened by large-scale economic projects.

Despite the importance of foreign policy issues, the talks mainly focused on prospects for deepening trade, economic and investment cooperation, including under large joint projects in energy and transport infrastructure. More than ten major trade and economic agreements were signed during the visit. Russia has already pumped about one billion euros into Iran' railway network, with serious financial injections into bilateral projects yet to be implemented.

Exports to Iran stand at only around 1 percent of Russian foreign trade, but a trade surplus and the existence of a large market for Russian manufactured goods make Iran an important partner. The bilateral trade grew by 60 percent from $1.2 billion in 2015 to almost $2 billion in 2016.

The resumption of weapons deliveries and participation in infrastructure projects financed by Russian loans have led to the doubling of exports of non-energy products from Russia to Iran. The first batch of S-300 air defense systems was delivered in April 2016.

Russia has agreed to provide Iran with a loan of $2.2 billion for infrastructure projects involving Russian companies. It is planned to build a power plant and enhance generation at another in Iran in a contract worth several billion dollars. Under an agreement signed between the two sides, the Russians will improve efficiency at the Ramin power plant in Khuzestan province to 50-55% from 36% now. Another Russian company will build a 1,400-megawatt power plant in the Iranian city of Bandar Abbas in Hormuzgan province. Russian truck manufacturer Kamaz plans to export 300 trucks in 2017, GAZ signed a memorandum with the Iranian authorities for the supply of 900 buses.

Russia’s role in reaching the Iran nuclear deal, the cooperation in Syria and the allegiance to the policy of rapprochement declared by President Putin provide ample evidence of Moscow’s desire to boost the bilateral ties.

A momentous event to take place this year will provide an impetus to the development of Russia-Iran relations. Tehran is expected to become a full-fledged member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) this June. Iran also has expressed interest in signing a trade agreement with the Eurasian Union.

Russia and Iran are united by common goals and interests. The development of relations between the two great powers is a significant contribution into creating alternative poles of power to change the world for the better. 

martes, 28 de marzo de 2017

Nord Stream 2



La prensa occidental no oculta su desconsuelo ante el impacto que tendrá la puesta en funcionamiento del gasoducto submarino Nord Stream 2, el cual, partiendo de Rusia, llegará a Alemania sin escalas. Nadie lo dice, claro, pero tras el griterío vociferante de una Unión Europea que ve al proyecto como "innecesario", se esconde un miedito que, creemos, debe ser aun mayor: además de Rusia, el que tendrá la llave del suministro de gas en buena parte del continente será... Alemania

Leemos en el diario español El País:


Título: El negocio ruso-alemán que enfurece a la UE

Epígrafe: Con el Nord Stream 2, el gas ruso llegará en 2019 directamente a Alemania sin parar en los bálticos

Texto: A pesar de años de sanciones económicas, tensiones políticas por la anexión de Crimea, sospechas de ciberataques y hasta acusaciones de crímenes de guerra en Siria, Alemania tiene entre manos un negocio con Rusia que afecta a casi la totalidad de la UE y que pocas veces aparece en la agenda política: el gas. Ambos países acordaron en 2012 la construcción del Nord Stream 2, un gasoducto submarino cuyo objetivo es transportar gas directamente —y sin efectuar ninguna parada— desde las costas de Rusia hasta Alemania. Se prevé que en 2019 esté a pleno rendimiento.

El Nord Stream 2 —que complementa de forma paralela al Nord Stream 1, con una capacidad mucho menor y que actualmente está al 70% de su rendimiento— es un proyecto al que los países bálticos "no han sido invitados", reprocha Andra Ješinska, directiva de Conexus Baltic Grid, empresa responsable de las infraestructuras gasísticas en Letonia y que pertenece en un 34% al gigante ruso Gazprom. El proyecto bilateral entre Berlín y Moscú, que ha costado 8.000 millones de euros, ha sido duramente criticado por el Parlamento Europeo y por el propio comisario de Energía, Miguel Arias Cañete, por las dudas que despierta sobre si cumple o no con las reglas de no discriminación entre Estados que marcan el paso del mercado común. El proyecto "contradice la necesidad de diversificación [de fuentes de energía] mientras expone y profundiza la vulnerabilidad de un número de Estados miembros y afecta a la seguridad de abastecimiento de la UE en su conjunto", se lee en una misiva que Jerzy Buzek, presidente del comité de Energía en la Eurocámara, junto a otros europarlamentarios, envió a la presidencia de turno maltesa el pasado febrero.

Con este gasoducto, que "nunca será un proyecto de interés comunitario", repite una y otra vez el comisario, Alemania tendrá la llave del suministro en buena parte del continente. En Letonia, un país que depende al 100% de sus vecinos rusos y cuyo mercado gasístico será el próximo 3 de abril el último en ser liberalizado en toda la UE, hay alegría. Y alivio. "Preferimos que Alemania tenga el control, y no Rusia", reconoce el ministro de Economía y Energía del pequeño país de dos millones de habitantes, Arvils Ašeradens.

"Desde un punto de vista de la seguridad energética el Nord Stream 2 no aporta absolutamente nada", zanja Arias Cañete. Mientras los tres países bálticos, Finlandia, Rumanía y Bulgaria intentan alejarse de la dependencia del suministro de Rusia, Alemania se prepara para recibir en 2019 el gas que, una vez en localidad de Greifswald, distribuirá a lo largo de Europa central y del este. "La gente expresa su preocupación hacia una posición dominante [rusa], pero lo que hará el Nord Stream 2 es inyectar más gas a la UE. Y eso es una cosa buena", cree Romans Baumanis, asesor del proyecto. Bruselas, en cambio, desmonta este argumento ya que calcula que la demanda de gas se mantendrá estable en los próximos años: "No hay mayor necesidad de aportes adicionales", sentencia el máximo representante de la política energética de la UE.

Aún con todos las interrogantes sobre el conducto de 1.200 kilómetros de longitud (equivalente a la distancia que separa Madrid de París), casi el 100% de la infraestructura está ya construida, aunque no colocada en el fondo submarino, según el consorcio internacional Nord Stream AG, la empresa gestora. Esto se debe a la "dificultad" de encontrar un país desde cuyos puertos se puedan trasladar las piezas al mar, esboza Baumanis frente a un mapa del proyecto colgado de una pared en un despacho del centro de Riga, la capital letona. Lógico, si se tiene en cuenta que los países ribereños del Báltico (Finlandia, Estonia, Letonia, Lituania, Suecia y Dinamarca) están oficial y públicamente en contra de la megaestructura y fue por eso que el gasoducto evita por la mínima la Zona Económica Exclusiva, contigua al mar territorial, de cada Estado. Finalmente, Copenhague ha admitido que el gasoducto haga una pequeña parada técnica en una de sus islas cercana a Alemania, Bornholm.


Las reservas se agotan

Bruselas prevé que la producción de gas propio (principalmente de los Países Bajos) se reduzca en un 50% para 2020, mientras que el consumo se mantendrá estable en los hogares, lo que obliga a la UE a importar aún más gas. Las reservas de Noruega —país que aunque no pertenezca al club de los 28 (27, si se excluye a Reino Unido) sí forma parte del mercado común— sólo son de 1.900 millones de metros cúbicos, frente a las rusas, las más elevadas del mundo con algo más de 47.00 millones de metros cúbicos. Por eso, el comisario Cañete pone sus esperanzas en los nuevos yacimientos descubiertos en Egipto, Chipre e Israel.


Ante este panorama, Bruselas puso en 2015 en marcha la Unión Energética para que entre otras cosas los socios compartan sus recursos, inviertan en energías renovables y puedan buscar fuentes alternativas de energía y dejar de depender de un sólo suministrador mayoritario; Rusia. 

Irán y Rusia: dos a quererse


Los dos grandes demonios de la prensa occidental, el presidente de la Federación Rusa y su par de la República de Irán, se reunieron ayer en Moscú para afianzar las relaciones bilaterales (foto).  Así lo cuenta Russia Today:


Título: Visita oficial de Rohaní a Moscú: ¿qué esperar de su reunión con Putin?

Epígrafe: Ambas partes han hecho muchos esfuerzos para lograr acuerdos económicos a gran escala, pero algunos problemas para las perspectivas de cooperación entre Moscú y Teherán siguen sin resolverse.

Texto: El presidente iraní, Hasán Rohaní, ha llegado este lunes a Rusia en visita oficial. Su reunión con el líder ruso, Vladímir Putin, está prevista para este martes 28 de marzo. Según el servicio de prensa del Kremlin, "durante las negociaciones se prevé que los jefes de Estado discutan una serie de cuestiones acerca de la cooperación ruso-iraní".

"Se prestará una atención especial a las perspectivas de expansión de las relaciones comerciales, económicas y de inversión, en particular en el contexto de la realización de grandes proyectos conjuntos de infraestructura de energía y transporte", reza el informe. Asimismo se planea que Putin y Rohaní intercambien puntos de vista sobre temas de actualidad internacional y regional y firmen una serie de documentos bilaterales.


Política exterior

Aunque Teherán y Moscú mantienen diferentes puntos de vista sobre muchos de los actuales problemas en Oriente Medio, al mismo tiempo existen muchos puntos comunes con los que pueden trabajar conjuntamente tanto en Siria como en Irak y Afganistán.

Las tendencias objetivas sugieren la necesidad de soluciones comunes a los problemas comunes

"Todas las dificultades significan que las relaciones entre Moscú y Teherán se están desarrollando en un contexto positivo (...) Las tendencias objetivas sugieren la necesidad de soluciones comunes a los problemas comunes", opina el profesor Vladímir Sazhin, del Instituto de Estudios Orientales de la Academia Rusa de Ciencias.

"No estoy hablando de una relación estratégica ni de relaciones de aliados. Esta asociación debe ser pragmática para ambas partes". 

El analista cree que ahora "Irán es dependiente de Rusia" porque la Casa Blanca respalda las políticas antiiraníes y porque Teherán "tiene una gran cantidad de oponentes en la región", entre ellos Arabia Saudita e Israel. Por lo tanto, "una reunión bilateral [con Rusia] al más alto nivel es muy interesante y muy importante para el futuro" del país.


Cooperación energética

Durante su visita a Moscú, Rohaní se centrará en la cooperación en la industria energética entre los dos países. Ambos líderes se preparan para adoptar una hoja de ruta común para el desarrollo de la cooperación económica a medio y largo plazo, así como alcanzar acuerdos sectoriales en el ámbito de la comunicación y en la industria del gas y el petróleo. 

El ministro de Energía de Rusia, Alexánder Nóvak, informó que las dos partes están negociando contratos por un total de 10.000 millones de dólares. Se trata en concreto del desarrollo de 11 campos de petróleo y gas en Irán. Alexéi Antónov, analista de la empresa Alor Broker, opina que la producción y transporte de hidrocarburos será la principal área segura de la cooperación entre Moscú y Teherán durante las próximas décadas.


Comercio

El volumen de comercio actual entre Rusia e Irán es de aproximadamente 1.000-1.500 millones de dólares. El profesor Vladímir Sazhin, del Instituto de Estudios Orientales de la Academia Rusa de Ciencias, cree que Rusia e Irán tienen muchos intereses comunes en términos económicos y comerciales.

Rusia exporta a Irán automóviles y, a su vez, está interesada en la importación de productos agrícolas iraníes. Se espera que la posible firma de Irán del acuerdo sobre el establecimiento de una zona de libre comercio con la Unión Económica Euroasiática abra nuevas perspectivas para la cooperación en este ámbito.


Las sanciones como "carta valiosa"

Es necesario tener en cuenta que Teherán se enfrenta a la constante amenaza de la introducción de nuevas sanciones por parte de la nueva Administración de Washington. Rustam Tankáyev, experto principal de la Unión Rusa de Petróleo y Gas, considera que "Irán definitivamente necesitará algún tipo de ancla, algún tipo de mecanismo que pueda bloquear los efectos de las sanciones en su contra si estas sanciones se imponen de nuevo".

Según el experto, Rohaní puede usar la cooperación con Rusia como tal mecanismo. El factor de sanciones puede convertirse en una de las "cartas más valiosas" para el desarrollo del comercio en la región.


Confrontaciones por el gas

Las relaciones entre Irán y Rusia no siempre han sido fáciles, dice el analista independiente Dmitri Adamídov. Las dificultades se han debido principalmente al hecho de que los dos países son competidores tradicionales en la región del Caspio, Asia Central y Oriente Medio. Ahora, la difícil situación en el mercado energético añade aún más tensión. Ambas naciones siguen siendo competidoras en este sector. 

Irán tiene la intención de aumentar drásticamente la producción de petróleo. Además, tiene enormes reservas de gas y planea centrarse en el mercado europeo, donde podría competir directamente con Rusia. En esa situación, los dos países tendrán que coordinar sus posiciones y predeterminar su participación en el mercado, destaca Rustam Tankáyev.


"Yo no esperaría de este encuentro ningún avance importante. Irán lo negocia todo durante mucho tiempo antes de llegar a un acuerdo. Pero la ventaja de Rusia consiste en que con la llegada de Trump EE.UU. cambió drásticamente la retórica hacia Irán y dejó claro que el retorno del país a los mercados internacionales no será triunfante. Así, tanto en el ámbito de la energía como en el ámbito del complejo militar-industrial Moscú tiene una buena oportunidad" para desarrollar la cooperación con Teherán, concluyó Adamídov.

lunes, 27 de marzo de 2017

Mientras tanto, en Yemen...


La foto de arriba muestra la manifestación realizada ayer en Sanaa, Yemen, a la que concurrió un millón de personas para contarle al mundo lo que realmente piensa de sus vecinos, los  sauditas. Un corto video tomado desde un drone muestra esta misma manifestación: https://youtu.be/kXP-nZy2r7w.

Yemen, uno de los países más pobres del mundo, está siendo atacado desde hace dos años por su vecino del norte, Arabia Saudita. Estos últimos arrojaron, en lo que va del conflicto, 90.000 (noventa mil) bombas sobre Yemen. 

Como ni siquiera pudieron instalar un pelotón de infantería en alguna colina suelta de ese país, últimamente han cambiado la táctica: ¿qué tul si los matamos de hambre a todos? (17 millones de yemeníes). ¿Y qué tul si los invitamos a los chicos del Imperio para que nos den una mano?. Al respecto, leemos una interesante nota en el sitio web Moon of Alabama:


Título: U.S. To Escalate Its Two Years War On Starving Yemen

Texto: The picture shows yesterday's rally in Sanaa,Yemen where up to 1 million people were condemning the war Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the U.S. have been waging on them for two years.

Nether the New York Times nor the Washington Post reported of the million strong rally. Both though reported widely of a 8,000 strong demonstration in Moscow led by the ultra-nationalist anti-semitic racist Alexey Navalny (vid). Navalny, who polls less than 1% in Russia, is their great and groundless hope to replace the Russian President Putin.

The war on Yemen was launched to show the manliness of the Saudi princes. Well, that may not be the proclaimed reason but it is the only one that makes sense. The U.S. takes part in the war because ... well - no one knows:

The morning after that NSC news release was posted on the White House webpage two years ago, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, commander of the U.S. Central Command, was asked about the objectives of the U.S. support. His stunning reply remains the most accurate characterization from a U.S. official: “I don’t currently know the specific goals and objectives of the Saudi campaign, and I would have to know that to be able to assess the likelihood of success.” Other than dropping weapons with an unconscionable lack of discrimination and proportionality, it appears there are no clear goals and objectives to this day.

The Saudis claim their coalition has dropped 90,000 bombs during the two year war. That are 123 bombs per day. 5 each and every hour for no good reason. It hasn't helped them at all. The Houthi/Saleh alliance the Saudis fight claims (vid) to have destroyed 176 AFVs, 643 MRAPs, 147 MBTs, 12 Apaches, 20 drones, 4 aircraft. Additionally 109 tactical ballistic missiles were fired. Many of those (certainly exaggerated) Houth/Saleh successes happened on Saudi ground. Its southern desert does not protect Saudi Arabia, it opens it up to attacks.

The U.S. provides planing, intelligence, air-refueling and the ammunition for the Saudi bombing. Without U.S. support this war would not happen at all!

The United Nation claims that the death toll of the war is a mere 5,000. Others speak of 7-8,000. These numbers are laughable. One Saudi attack alone, a "double tap" on a Sanaa funeral hall, killed more than 800. The real death toll of the war is by now likely beyond 100,000. Especially in north-west Yemen, along the Saudi border, each and every Yemeni town and city has been bombed into ruins. Where are the people who once lived there?

The Saudis have simply threatened the UN that they will stop to provide any money for any of its relief efforts should it it make any noise. The UN folded.

Yemen is starving. Even before the war 90% of Yemen's staple food was imported. The Saudis have since bombed each and every food production facility, chicken farm and port. All larger bridges have been cut. There is no longer any way to import food into the capital Sanaa and the other areas the Saudis besiege. Too small official relief efforts are still running through the Hodeida port on the western coast. The port itself is controlled by the Houthi/Saudi alliance the Saudi want to eliminate. But the port is blockaded from the water side. The Saudis navy and airforce destroys all ship who try to enter or leave it. Some official relief ships are allowed to pass but they have difficulties to unload. All large cranes in the harbor have been destroyed by air attacks.

Still - to deliberately starve off all of the 17 million Yemenis who are "food insecure", i.e. extremely hungry and nearly starved, the port needs to be closed down for good. That is why the UAE and the Saudi plan to invade, conquer and occupy it. The fighting about the port will be a good excuse to close it down for good until no one in Sanaa is left alive.
The Pentagon is now requesting a free hand to help the Saudis to conquer and occupy the Hodeida harbor. Why the U.S. would do this? Well - the reason is at least as good as the one given two years ago:

[I]f decisions are not made soon, the senior administration official said, “we’re afraid the situation” in Yemen may escalate, “and our partners may take action regardless. And we won’t have visibility, and we won’t be in a position to understand what it does to our counterterrorism operations.”

So if the U.S. does not "help" (i.e. organizes) to close down the last source of food for the millions besieged by the Saudis then it may not be able to understand what that means.

Now there is a really good reason to put boots on the ground! "Unless we do it, we will not know the consequences and that is something we would want to know, right?"

domingo, 26 de marzo de 2017

Trump, el Boris Yeltsin del Imperio


Acá va una muy linda nota del economista Michael Hudson (foto) publicada hoy en el sitio web Information Clearing House. El tema de fondo es la ausencia total de alternativas realistas al estalinismo neoliberal imperante en el Imperio. Acá va:


Título: Wall Street First

Texto: Nobody yet can tell whether Donald Trump is an agent of change with a specific policy in mind, or merely a catalyst heralding an as yet undetermined turning point. His first month in the White House saw him melting into the Republican mélange of corporate lobbyists. Having promised to create jobs, his “America First” policy looks more like “Wall Street First.”

His cabinet of billionaires promoting corporate tax cuts, deregulation and dismantling Dodd-Frank bank reform repeats the Junk Economics promise that giving more tax breaks to the richest One Percent may lead them to use their windfall to invest in creating more jobs. What they usually do, of course, is simply buy more property and assets already in place.

One of the first reactions to Trump’s election victory was for stocks of the most crooked financial institutions to soar, hoping for a deregulatory scythe taken to the public sector. Navient, the Department of Education’s knee-breaker on student loan collections accused by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) of massive fraud and overcharging, rose from $13 to $18 after it seemed likely that the incoming Republicans would disable the CFPB and shine a green light for financial fraud.

Foreclosure king Stephen Mnuchin of IndyMac/OneWest (and formerly of Goldman Sachs for 17 years; later a George Soros partner) is now Treasury Secretary – and Trump pledged to abolish the CFPB, on the specious logic that letting fraudsters manage pension savings and other investments will give consumers and savers “broader choice,” e.g., for the financial equivalent of junk food.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos hopes to privatize public education into for-profit (and de-unionized) charter schools, breaking the teachers’ unions. This may position Trump to become the Transformational President that neoliberals have been waiting for.

But not the neocons. His election rhetoric promised to reverse traditional U.S. interventionist policy abroad. Making an anti-war left run around the Democrats, he promised to stop backing ISIS/Al Nusra (President Obama’s “moderate” terrorists supplied with the arms and money that Hillary looted from Libya), and to reverse the Obama-Clinton administration’s New Cold War with Russia. But the neocon coterie at the CIA and State Department are undercutting his proposed rapprochement with Russia by forcing out General Flynn for starters. It seems doubtful that Trump will clean them out.

Trump has called NATO obsolete, but insists that its members increase their spending to the stipulated 2% of GDP — producing a windfall worth tens of billions of dollars for U.S. arms exporters. That is to be the price Europe must pay if it wants to endorse Germany’s and the Baltics’ confrontation with Russia.

Trump is sufficiently intuitive to proclaim the euro a disaster, and he recommends that Greece leave it. He supports the rising nationalist parties in Britain, France, Italy, Greece and the Netherlands, all of which urge withdrawal from the eurozone – and reconciliation with Russia instead of sanctions. In place of the ill-fated TPP and TTIP, Trump advocates country-by-country trade deals favoring the United States. Toward this end, his designated ambassador to the European Union, Ted Malloch, urges the EU’s breakup. The EU is refusing to accept him as ambassador.


Will Trump’s victory break up the Democratic Party?

At the time this volume is going to press, there is no way of knowing how successful these international reversals will be. What is clearer is Trump’s political impact at home. His victory – or more accurately, Hillary’s resounding loss and the way she lost – has encouraged enormous pressure for a realignment of both parties. Regardless of what President Trump may achieve vis-à-vis Europe, his actions as celebrity chaos agent may break up U.S. politics across the political spectrum.

The Democratic Party has lost its ability to pose as the party of labor and the middle class. Firmly controlled by Wall Street and California billionaires, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) strategy of identity politics encourages any identity except that of wage earners. The candidates backed by the Donor Class have been Blue Dogs who pledged to promote Wall Street alongside neocons urging a New Cold War with Russia.

They preferred to lose with Hillary than to win behind Bernie Sanders. So Trump’s electoral victory is their legacy as well as Obama’s. Instead of Trump’s victory dispelling that strategy, the Democrats are doubling down. It is as if identity politics is all they have.

Trying to ride on Barack Obama’s coattails didn’t work. Promising “hope and change,” he won by posing as a transformational president, leading the Democrats to control of the White House, Senate and Congress in 2008. Swept into office by a national reaction against the George Bush’s Iraq Oil War and the junk-mortgage crisis that left the economy debt-ridden, they had free rein to pass whatever new laws they chose – even a Public Option in health care if they had wanted, or make Wall Street banks absorb the losses from their bad and often fraudulent loans.

But it turned out that Obama’s role was to prevent the changes that voters hoped to see, and indeed that the economy needed to recover: financial reform, debt writedowns to bring junk mortgages in line with fair market prices, and throwing crooked bankers in jail. Obama rescued the banks, not the economy, and turned over the Justice Department and regulatory agencies to his Wall Street campaign contributors. He did not even pull back from war in the Near East, but extended it to Libya and Syria, blundering into the Ukrainian coup as well.

Having dashed the hopes of his followers, Obama then praised his chosen successor
Hillary Clinton as his “Third Term.” Enjoying this kiss of death, Hillary promised to keep up Obama’s policies.

The straw that pushed voters over the edge was when she asked voters, “Aren’t you better off today than you were eight years ago?” Who were they going to believe: their eyes, or Hillary’s? National income statistics showed that only the top 5 percent of the population were better off. All the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during Obama’s tenure went to them – the Donor Class that had gained control of the Democratic Party leadership.

Real incomes have fallen for the remaining 95 percent. Household budgets have been further eroded by soaring charges for health insurance. (The Democratic leadership in Congress fought tooth and nail to block Dennis Kucinich from introducing his Single Payer proposal.)

No wonder most of the geographic United States voted for change – except for where the top 5 percent is concentrated: in New York (Wall Street) and California (Silicon Valley and the military-industrial complex). Making fun of the Obama Administration’s slogan of “hope and change,” Trump characterized Hillary’s policy of continuing the economy’s shrinkage for the 95% as “no hope and no change.”


Identity Politics as anti-labor politics

A new term was introduced to the English language: Identity Politics. Its aim is for voters to think of themselves as separatist minorities – women, LGBTQ, Blacks and Hispanics. The Democrats thought they could beat Trump by organizing Women for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), LGBTQ for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), and Blacks and Hispanics for Wall Street (and a New Cold War). Each identity cohort was headed by a billionaire or hedge fund donor.

The identity that is conspicuously excluded is the working class. Identity politics strips away thinking of one’s interest in terms of having to work for a living. It excludes voter protests against having their monthly paycheck stripped to pay more for health insurance, housing and mortgage charges or education, better working conditions or consumer protection – not to speak of protecting debtors.

Identity politics used to be about three major categories: workers and unionization, anti-war protests and civil rights marches against racist Jim Crow laws. These were the three objectives of the many nationwide demonstrations. That ended when these movements got co-opted into the Democratic Party. Their reappearance in Bernie Sanders’ campaign in fact threatens to tear the Democratic coalition apart. As soon as the primaries were over (duly stacked against Sanders), his followers were made to feel unwelcome. Hillary sought Republican support by denouncing Sanders as being as radical as Putin’s Republican leadership.

In contrast to Sanders’ attempt to convince diverse groups that they had a common denominator in needing jobs with decent pay – and, to achieve that, opposing Wall Street’s replacing the government as central planner – the Democrats depict every identity constituency as being victimized by every other, setting themselves at each other’s heels. Clinton strategist John Podesta, for instance, encouraged Blacks to accuse Sanders supporters of distracting attention from racism. Pushing a common economic interest between whites, Blacks, Hispanics and LGBTQ always has been the neoliberals’ nightmare.

No wonder they tried so hard to stop Bernie Sanders, and are maneuvering to keep his supporters from gaining influence in their party.

When Trump was inaugurated on Friday, January 20, there was no pro-jobs or anti-war demonstration. That presumably would have attracted pro-Trump supporters in an ecumenical show of force. Instead, the Women’s March on Saturday led even the pro-Democrat New York Times to write a front-page article reporting that white women were complaining that they did not feel welcome in the demonstration. The message to anti-war advocates, students and Bernie supporters was that their economic cause was a distraction.

The march was typically Democratic in that its ideology did not threaten the Donor Class. As Yves Smith wrote on Naked Capitalism:

the track record of non-issue-oriented marches, no matter how large scale, is poor, and the status of this march as officially sanctioned (blanket media coverage when other marches of hundreds of thousands of people have been minimized, police not tricked out in their usual riot gear) also indicates that the officialdom does not see it as a threat to the status quo.”[1]

Hillary’s loss was not blamed on her neoliberal support for TPP or her pro-war neocon stance, but on the revelations of the e-mails by her operative Podesta discussing his dirty tricks against Bernie Sanders (claimed to be given to Wikileaks by Russian hackers, not a domestic DNC leaker as Wikileaks claimed) and the FBI investigation of her e-mail abuses at the State Department. Backing her supporters’ attempt to brazen it out, the Democratic Party has doubled down on its identity politics, despite the fact that an estimated 52 percent of white women voted for Trump. After all, women do work for wages. And that also is what Blacks and Hispanics want – in addition to banking that serves their needs, not those of Wall Street, and health care that serves their needs, not those of the health-insurance and pharmaceuticals monopolies.

Bernie did not choose to run on a third-party ticket. Evidently he feared being accused of throwing the election to Trump. The question is now whether he can remake the Democratic Party as a democratic socialist party, or create a new party if the Donor Class retains its neoliberal control. It seems that he will not make a break until he concludes that a Socialist Party can leave the Democrats as far back in the dust as the Republicans left the Whigs after 1854. He may have underestimated his chance in 2016.


Trump’s effect on U.S. political party realignment

During Trump’s rise to the 2016 Republican nomination it seemed that he was more likely to break up the Republican Party. Its leading candidates and gurus warned that his populist victory in the primaries would tear the party apart. The polls in May and June showed him defeating Hillary Clinton easily (but losing to Bernie Sanders). But Republican leaders worried that he would not support what they believed in: namely, whatever corporate lobbyists put in their hands to enact and privatize.

The May/June polls showed Trump and Clinton were the country’s two most unpopular presidential candidates. But whereas the Democrats maneuvered Bernie out of the way, the Republican Clown Car was unable to do the same to Trump. In the end they chose to win behind him, expecting to control him. As for the DNC, its Wall Street donors preferred to lose with Hillary than to win with Bernie.

They wanted to keep control of their party and continue the bargain they had made with the Republicans: The latter would move further and further to the right, leaving room for Democratic neoliberals and neocons to follow them closely, yet still pose as the “lesser evil.” That “centrism” is the essence of the Clintons’ “triangulation” strategy. It actually has been going on for a half-century. “As Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere quipped in the 1960s, when he was accused by the US of running a one-party state, ‘The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them’.”[2]

By 2017, voters had caught on to this two-step game. But Hillary’s team paid pollsters over $1 billion to tell her (“Mirror, mirror on the wall …”) that she was the most popular of all. It was hubris to imagine that she could convince the 95 Percent of the people who were worse off under Obama to love her as much as her East-West Coast donors did. It was politically unrealistic – and a reflection of her cynicism – to imagine that raising enough money to buy television ads would convince working-class Republicans to vote for her, succumbing to a Stockholm Syndrome by thinking of themselves as part of the 5 Percent who had benefited from Obama’s pro-Wall Street policies.

Hillary’s election strategy was to make a right-wing run around Trump. While characterizing the working class as white racist “deplorables,” allegedly intolerant of LBGTQ or assertive women, she resurrected the ghost of Joe McCarthy and accused Trump of being “Putin’s poodle” for proposing peace with Russia. Among the most liberal Democrats, Paul Krugman still leads a biweekly charge at The New York Times that President Trump is following Moscow’s orders.

Saturday Night Live, Bill Maher and MSNBC produce weekly skits that Trump and General Flynn are Russian puppets. A large proportion of Democrats have bought into the fairy tale that Trump didn’t really win the election, but that Russian hackers manipulated the voting machines. No wonder George Orwell’s 1984 soared to the top of America’s best-seller lists in February 2017 as Donald Trump was taking his oath of office.

This propaganda paid off on February 13, when neocon public relations succeeded in forcing the resignation of General Flynn, whom Trump had appointed to clean out the neocons at the NSA and CIA. His foreign policy initiative based on rapprochement with Russia to create a common front against ISIS/Al Nusra seems to be collapsing.


Tabula Rasa Celebrity Politics

U.S. presidential elections are no longer much about policy. Like Obama before him, Trump campaigned as a rasa tabla, a vehicle for everyone to project their hopes and fancies. What has all but disappeared is the past century’s idea of politics as a struggle between labor and capital, democracy vs. oligarchy.

Who would have expected even half a century ago that American politics would become so post-modern that the idea of class conflict has all but disappeared. Classical economic discourse has been drowned out by junk economics.

There is a covert economic program, to be sure, and it is bipartisan. It is to make elections about just which celebrities will introduce neoliberal economic policies with the most convincing patter talk. That is the essence of rasa tabla politics.


Can the Democrats lose again in 2020?

Trump’s November victory showed that voters found him to be the Lesser Evil, but all that voters really could express was “throw out the bums” and get a new set of lobbyists for the FIRE sector and corporate monopolists. Both candidates represented Goldman Sachs and Wall Street. No wonder voter turnout has continued to plunge.

Although the Democrats’ Lesser Evil argument lost to the Republicans in 2016, the neoliberals in control of the DNC found the absence of a progressive economic program to less threatening to their interests than the critique of Wall Street and neocon interventionism coming from the Sanders camp. So the Democrat will continue to pose as the Lesser Evil party not really in terms of policy, but simply ad hominum. They will merely repeat Hillary’s campaign stance: They are not Trump.

Their parades and street demonstrations since his inauguration have not come out for any economic policy.

On Friday, February 10, the party’s Democratic Policy group held a retreat for its members in Baltimore. Third Way “centrists” (Republicans running as Democrats) dominated, with Hillary operatives in charge. The conclusion was that no party policy was needed at all.

President Trump is a better recruitment tool for us than a central campaign issue,’ said Washington Rep. Denny Heck, who is leading recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).”[3]

But what does their party leadership have to offer women, Blacks and Hispanics in the way of employment, more affordable health care, housing or education and better pay? Where are the New Deal pro-labor, pro-regulatory roots of bygone days? The party leadership is unwilling to admit that Trump’s message about protecting jobs and opposing the TPP played a role in his election. Hillary was suspected of supporting it as “the gold standard” of trade deals, and Obama had made the Trans-Pacific Partnership the centerpiece of his presidency – the free-trade TPP and TTIP that would have taken economic regulatory policy out of the hands of government and given it to corporations.

Instead of accepting even Sanders’ centrist-left stance, the Democrats’ strategy was to tar Trump as pro-Russian, insisting his aides had committed impeachable offenses, and mount one parade after another. “Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio told reporters she was wary of focusing solely on an “economic message” aimed at voters whom Trump won over in 2016, because, in her view, Trump did not win on an economic message. “What Donald Trump did was address them at a very different level — an emotional level, a racial level, a fear level,” she said. “If all we talk about is the economic message, we’re not going to win.”[4]

This stance led Sanders supporters to walk out of a meeting organized by the “centrist” Third Way think tank on Wednesday, February 8.

By now this is an old story. Fifty years ago, socialists such as Michael Harrington asked why union members and progressives still imagined that they had to work through the Democratic Party. It has taken the rest of the country half a century to see that Democrats are not the party of the working class, unions, middle class, farmers or debtors. They are the party of Wall Street privatizers, bank deregulators, neocons and the military-industrial complex. Obama showed his hand – and that of his party – in his passionate attempt to ram through the corporatist TPP treaty that would have enabled corporations to sue governments for any costs imposed by public consumer protection, environmental protection or other protection of the population against financialized corporate monopolies.

Against this backdrop, Trump’s promises and indeed his worldview seem quixotic. The picture of America’s future he has painted seems unattainable within the foreseeable future. It is too late to bring manufacturing back to the United States, because corporations already have shifted their supply nodes abroad, and too much U.S. infrastructure has been dismantled.

There can’t be a high-speed railroad, because it would take more than four years to get the right-of-way and create a route without crossing gates or sharp curves. In any case, the role of railroads and other transportation has been to increase real estate prices along the routes. But in this case, real estate would be torn down – and having a high-speed rail does not increase land values.

The stock market has soared to new heights, anticipating lower taxes on corporate profits and a deregulation of consumer, labor and environmental protection. Trump may end up as America’s Boris Yeltsin, protecting U.S. oligarchs (not that Hillary would have been different, merely cloaked in a more colorful identity rainbow). The U.S. economy is in for Shock Therapy. Voters should look to Greece to get a taste of the future in this scenario.

Without a coherent response to neoliberalism, Trump’s billionaire cabinet may do to the United States what neoliberals in the Clinton administration did to Russia after 1991: tear out all the checks and balances, and turn public wealth over to insiders and oligarchs. So Trump’s best chance to be transformative is simply to be America’s Yeltsin for his party’s oligarchic backers, putting the class war back in business.


What a truly transformative president would do/would have done

No administration can create a sound U.S. recovery without dealing with the problem that caused the 2008 crisis in the first place: over-indebtedness. The only one way to restore growth, raise living standards and make the economy competitive again is a debt writedown. But that is not yet on the political horizon. Obama’s doublecross of his voters in 2009 prevented the needed policy from occurring. Having missed this chance in the last financial crisis, a progressive policy must await yet another crisis. But so far, no political party is preparing a program to juxtapose the Republican-Democratic austerity and scale-back of Social Security, Medicare and social spending programs.

Also no longer on the horizon is a more progressive income tax, or a public option for health care – or for banking, or consumer protection against financial fraud, or for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, or for a revived protection of labor’s right to unionize. Or environmental regulations.

It seems that only a new party can achieve these aims. At the time these essays are going to press, Sanders has committed himself to working within the Democratic Party. But that stance is based on his assumption that somehow he can recruit enough activists to take over the party from Its Donor Class.

I suspect he will fail. In any case, it is easier to begin afresh than to try to re-design a party (or any institution) dominated by resistance to change, and whose idea of economic growth is a pastiche of tax cuts and deregulation. Both U.S. parties are committed to this neoliberal program – and seek to blame foreign enemies for the fact that its effect is to continue squeezing living standards and bloating the financial sector.

If this slow but inexorable crash does lead to a political crisis, it looks like the Republicans may succeed in convening a new Constitutional Convention (many states already have approved this) to lock the United States into a corporatist neoliberal world. Its slogan will be that of Margaret Thatcher: TINA – There Is No Alternative.

And who is to disagree? As Trotsky said, fascism is the result of the failure of the left to provide an alternative.


Notas:

[1] Yves Smith, “Women Skeptical of the Women’s March,” Naked Capitalism, February 10, 2017.

[2] Radhika Desai, “Decoding Trump,” Counterpunch, February 10, 2017.

[3] “Pelosi denies Democrats are divided on strategy for 2018,” Yahoo News, February 10, 2018.


[4] ibid



Rusofobia e implosión del Imperio


Se acuerdan, chicos, de la época en que con sólo invocar al fantasma soviético alcanzaba para aterrorizar a la gente? Parece que ya no alcanza; los fantasmas están del otro lado. Occidente, como siempre, papando moscas. La nota que sigue es de Finian Cunningham y salió estos días en Strategic Culture Foundation:


Título: Russophobia – Symptom of US Implosion

Texto: There was a time when Russophobia served as an effective form of population control – used by the American ruling class in particular to command the general US population into patriotic loyalty. Not any longer. Now, Russophobia is a sign of weakness, of desperate implosion among the US ruling class from their own rotten, internal decay.

This propaganda technique worked adequately well during the Cold War decades when the former Soviet Union could be easily demonized as «godless communism» and an «evil empire». Such stereotypes, no matter how false, could be sustained largely because of the monopoly control of Western media by governments and official regulators.

The Soviet Union passed away more than a quarter of a century ago, but Russophobia among the US political class is more virulent than ever.

This week it was evident from Congressional hearings in Washington into alleged Russian interference in US politics that large sections of American government and establishment media are fixated by Russophobia and a belief that Russia is a malign foreign adversary.

However, the power of the Russophobia propaganda technique over the wider population seems to have greatly diminished from its Cold War heyday. This is partly due to more diverse global communications which challenge the previous Western monopoly for controlling narrative and perception. Contemporary Russophobia – demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin or Russian military forces – does not have the same potency for scaring the Western public. Indeed, due to greater diversity in global news media sources, it is fair to say that «official» Western depictions of Russia as an enemy, for example allegedly about to invade Europe or allegedly interfering in electoral politics, are met with a healthy skepticism – if not ridicule by many Western citizens.

What is increasingly apparent here is a gaping chasm between the political class and the wider public on the matter of Russophobia. This is true for Western countries generally, but especially in the US. The political class – the lawmakers in Washington and the mainstream news media – are frenzied by claims that Russia interfered in the US presidential elections and that Russia has some kind of sinister leverage on the presidency of Donald Trump.

But this frenzy of Russophobia is not reflected among the wider public of ordinary American citizens. Rabid accusations that Russia hacked the computers of Trump’s Democrat rival Hillary Clinton to spread damaging information about her; that this alleged sabotage of American democracy was an «act of war»; that President Trump is guilty of «treason» by «colluding» with a «Russian influence campaign» – all of these sensational claims seem to be only a preoccupation of the privileged political class. Most ordinary Americans, concerned about making a living in a crumbling society, either don’t buy the claims or view them as idle chatter.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov this week dismissed the Congressional hearings into alleged Russian interference in US politics. He aptly said that US lawmakers and the corporate media have become «entangled» in their own fabrications. «They are trying to find evidence for conclusions that they have already made», said Peskov.

Other suitable imagery is that the US political class are tilting at windmills, chasing their own tails, or running from their own shadows. There seems to be a collective delusional mindset.

Unable to accept the reality that the governing structure of the US has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people, that the people rebelled by electing an outsider in the form of business mogul-turned-politician Donald Trump, that the collapse of American traditional politics is due to the atrophy of its bankrupt capitalist economy over several decades – the ruling class have fabricated their own excuse for demise by blaming it all on Russia.

The American ruling class cannot accept, or come to terms, with the fact of systemic failure in their own political system. The election of Trump is a symptom of this failure and the widespread disillusionment among voters towards the two-party train wreck of Republicans and Democrats. That is why the specter of Russian interference in the US political system had to be conjured up, by necessity, as a way of «explaining» the abject failure and the ensuing popular revolt.

Russophobia was rehabilitated from the Cold War closet by the American political establishment to distract from the glaring internal collapse of American politics.

The corrosive, self-destruction seems to know no bounds. James Comey, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told Congress this week that the White House is being probed for illicit contacts with Russia. This dramatic notice served by Comey was greeted with general approval by political opponents of the Trump administration, as well as by news media outlets.

The New York Times said the FBI was in effect holding a «criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House».

Other news outlets are openly airing discussions on the probability of President Trump being impeached from office.

The toxic political atmosphere of Russophobia in Washington is unprecedented. The Trump administration is being crippled at every turn from conducting normal political business under a toxic cloud of suspicion that it is guilty of treason from colluding with Russia.

President Trump has run afoul with Republicans in Congress over his planned healthcare reforms because many Republicans are taking issue instead over the vaunted Russian probe.

When Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was reported to be skipping a NATO summit next month but was planning to visit Moscow later in the same month, the itinerary was interpreted as a sign of untoward Russian influence.

What makes the spectacle of political infighting so unprecedented is that there is such little evidence to back up allegations of Trump-Russia collusion. It is preponderantly based on innuendo and anonymous leaks to the media, which are then recycled as «evidence».

Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said earlier this week that he has seen no actual evidence among classified documents indicating any collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Russian government.

Even former senior intelligence officials, James Clapper and Michael Morell who are no friends of Trump, have lately admitted in media interviews that there is no such evidence.

Yet, FBI chief James Comey told Congress that his agency was pursuing a potentially criminal investigation into the Trump administration, while at the same time not confirming or denying the existence of any evidence.

And, as already noted, this declaration of open-ended snooping by Comey on the White House was met with avid approval by political opponents of Trump, both on Capitol Hill and in the corporate media.

Let’s just assume for a moment that the whole Trump-Russia collusion story is indeed fake. That it is groundless, a figment of imagination. There are solid reasons to believe that is the case. But let’s just assume here that it is fake for the sake of argument.

That then means that the Washington seat of government and the US presidency are tearing themselves apart in a futile civil war.

The real war here is a power struggle within the US in the context of ruling parties no longer having legitimacy to govern.


This is an American implosion. An historic Made-in-America meltdown. And Russophobia is but a symptom of the internal decay at the heart of US politics.


sábado, 25 de marzo de 2017

Pensamientos edificantes


El filósofo, novelista y realizador cinematográfico André Vltchek (foto) nos habla, en un rapto de entusiasmo, sobre el fin del Imperio y el renacimiento de un mundo hasta ahora sumergido. Nosotros, que somos un poco menos optimistas, pensamos: Dios te oiga, André!  En fin, nunca vienen mal los pensamientos edificantes. La nota salió estos días en Information Clearing House:


Título: The West is Becoming Irrelevant, The World is Laughing

Texto: I was recently told by an Asian friend of mine who is working in Paris: “Lately I stopped following almost all that is happening politically in the United States, in the UK and even here in France. It all feels suddenly so irrelevant, a waste of time.”

Statements like this would be unimaginable only one decade ago. In the past, what came from Washington and (to a smaller extent) from London was monitored with great attentiveness and fear, all over the world.

But all of a sudden, things have begun to change, rapidly. Despite the extremely violent nature of the Western-designed-and-manufactured global regime, which has been over-imposed on so many parts of the world for decades and centuries, increasing amounts of people in Asia, Latin America and Africa stopped worrying and went leisurely to the ‘barricades’, beginning to rebel against the perverseness of the ‘world order’.

Did it all really happen ‘all of a sudden’? Or were there various catalysts at work, for already quite a substantial period of time?

It is a well-known fact that any deep-seated, chronic anxiety cannot disappear in just a short moment. People who are enslaved, humiliated, scared into obedience, people who are forced to feel uncertain and constantly frightened, cannot reverse their state of mind without some important external factor or set of factors.

It became obvious to me, as I have been working continuously on all continents and in almost all conflict zones of our Planet, that the renewed pride and courage which is now inspiring millions of oppressed human beings, actually came from the decisive and determined stand of just several brave and determined nations, big and small.

The myth about the omnipotence of the Empire has received a few significant blows.

The fable of invincibility has not completely disappeared yet, but at least it has got fractured and gravely injured.

The gate of the terrible prison began cracking. It has not collapsed, but the fractures were wide enough for at least some sunlight to enter the dark and dreadful cavities inhabited by billions of unfortunate and shattered beings.

Some victims stood up immediately; not many but at least some did. Others raised their heads in feeble hope, still lying down on the dirty ground, still chained, and still shaking. That weak light alone entering the dungeon was actually much brighter than what most people ever experienced in their entire life. It has been strong enough to provoke wonderful, brilliant sparks of hope.

*

Except for some temporary setbacks (like in Brazil and Argentina), the anti-imperialist coalition is now steadier than ever; it is determined and constantly expanding.

And it is clearly winning!

It is truly a ‘rainbow coalition’ of countries, big and small, ‘red’ and ‘pink’, even ‘green’.

The only unifying factor is the shared determination not to be controlled by Western imperialism and neo-colonialism.

For decades, Cuba stood against the Empire, even after the Soviet block was broken to bits, even when all mutual agreements ceased to be honored by the criminal Yeltsin administration.The Cuban people never surrendered. It is because most of them always believed, from the bottom of their hearts, in socialism and internationalism. And also because they have been convinced that the Western Empire is a morally corrupt and illegitimate entity and therefore has to be resisted.

A small and relatively poor country – Cuba – demonstrated to the entire world that while the Empire is mighty, sadistic and brutal, it is not omnipotent, and it is possible to defy it. There is no reason why one should not dare, orone should not dream about a much better world, why one shouldn’t fight for true freedom, attempting to win.

Cuba inspired the world. Its daring Revolution took place just a few miles from the shores of the United States. Soon after, its teachers and doctors went to all parts of the earth, spreading optimism, solidarity and kindness. Its heroic revolutionaries went to fight against the most dreadful forms of colonialism, which were torturing people, is such places as Congo, Angola and Namibia.

After Obama’s attempts to water down the determination of the Cuban citizens, many enemies began to predict, cynically:

“Now Cuba will compromise and sell its Revolution.”

It never did! I traveled to the Island last year, driving through the countryside, and speaking to people in Havana, Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba. Almost no one was ready to compromise. A greatly educated nation, Cuba saw through the Empire’s tricks and deceptions.

Now almost nobody speaks about the “Cuban compromise”, anymore, simply because there isn’t any on the table.

China, one of the oldest and greatest civilizations on Earth, went through the terrible period of ‘humiliation’. Divided, occupied and plundered by the West, it has never forgotten nor forgiven.

Now the Chinese Communist state and its mixed economy are helping countries in virtually all parts of the world, from Oceania and Latin America, to the Middle East and especially Africa, to survive and to finally stand on their own feet. Despite all the vitriolic propaganda regurgitated by the West (those people in Europe or North America who know close to zero about Africa or China,habitually passing ‘confident’ and highly cynical ‘judgments’ about China’s involvement in the poor world; judgments based exclusively on the lies and fabrications produced by the Western media), China has been gaining great respect and trust in virtually all corners of the globe.

The Chinese people and their government are now standing firmly against Western imperialism. They will not allow any recurrence of the disgraceful and dreary past.

The West is provoking this mighty and optimistic nation, pushing it into a terrible confrontation. China doesn’t want any military conflict. It is the most peaceful, the most non-confrontational large nation on Earth. But it is becoming clear that if pushed against the wall, this time it will not compromise: it will fight.

In the last years I have spoken to many Chinese people, as I traveled to all corners of the country, and I’m convinced that by now the nation is ready to meet strength with strength.

Such determination gives hope to many other countries on our Planet. The message is clear: the West cannot do whatever it wants, anymore. If it tries, it will be stopped. By reason or by force!

Russia is ready again, too. It is standing next to China, enormous and indignant.

Go to Novosibirsk or Tomsk, to Khabarovsk, Vladivostok or Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka. Talk to Russian people and you will soon understand: almost nobody there believes or respects the West, anymore. Throughout history, Russia was attacked and ransacked from the West. Millions, tens of millions of its people were murdered, literally exterminated. And now, the nation is facing what some consider to be yet another imminent attack.

Like the Chinese people, Russians are unwilling to compromise, anymore. The old Russian forecast is once again alive, that very one professed by Alexander Nevsky:

Go tell all in foreign lands that Russia lives! Those who come to us in peace will be welcome as a guest. But those who come to us sword in hand will die by the sword! On that Russia stands and forever will we stand!

In Russia, as in China, and as in so many other nations that were devastated by the Western plunderers, nothing is forgotten and no one is forgotten. It only appeared for a while that the memory had fainted. It never does. You cannot burn down an entire land, ruin the cities, burn the fields, and still pose as one with the moral mandate. Or as we say in Chile: “Justice takes time, but it always comes!”

And the world is watching. It is suddenly clearly registering this determined and brave, epic stand of morally strong nations. Many of those who are watching are deeply impressed with what they are seeing. Perhaps not in London or in Paris, but go and ask those in Johannesburg or Beirut, or even in Calcutta, Cairo or Buenos Aires. Perhaps you suspect what answers you’d receive there!

Throughout modern history, not once has Iran invaded a foreign country. Yet its secular, progressive and democratic government (under the leadership of Mohammad Mosaddegh) was overthrown in 1953, in a CIA-backed coup. What followed was the monstrosity of the ‘pro-Western Shah’, and then a horrendous war, an invasion by Iraq, which was also fully backed by the West and which took hundreds of thousands of human lives. Since then, Iran has been suffering from targeted killings of its scientists (by the West and Israel), as well as terrorist attacks also backed from abroad.


Instead of falling on its knees and begging for mercy, Iran defied the West. On several occasions and when provoked, it sent its battleships to the neutral waters near the US coast, and it pledged to defend its land, in case it was to be attacked.

Iran also showed great solidarity towards Latin America, working closely with virtually all of the revolutionary governments there. It stood firmly by Venezuela in a time of great crises, building social housing in Caracas and supporting the Process by all other means.

In Latin America, no one will ever forget how former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejadcame to Caracas to attend the funeral of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, his dear friend. During the memorial, the aged mother of Chavez suddenly approached Ahmadinejad, in tears. Breaking all religious protocol of a Shi’a country that he was representing, the Iranian President embraced her, and held her against his heart, until she calmed down.

This moment was expressing one simple and powerful reality: all of us, the internationalists and anti-imperialists, are fighting for the survival of humanity and this planet. There is more that unites us than what is tearing us apart. Once we win, and we will win, the world will be able to find a common language.The West wants to divide us, by spreading hostilities and distrust, all through ‘false news’ and fabrications. But we understand its game. We will not break our ranks, anymore.

The West is clearly losing. It knows it. It is in panic. Its nihilism, its propaganda and indoctrination tactics will soon be defeated.

I wrote a lot about the DPRK and how it joined the list of the ‘most hated nations on Earth’. It is a well known fact that North Korea was, for years and decades, much richer and more democratic than South Korea (ROK). But it embarked on one tremendous humanist ‘project’, and together with Cuba, the Soviet Union and to some extent China, it liberated almost the entire African continent, at great cost and sacrifice. And not only that: it sent its top educators and doctors to all corners of the most devastated continent on Earth. Its pilots also flew Egyptian MIGs against Israel, during the 1967 war. These facts have been silenced by Western propaganda, but they clearly explain why the DPRK has been ostracized, pushed to the corner, hit by senseless embargos, and forced to react the way it has been reacting for at least the last two decades.

North Korea has never surrendered either, and it never will.

Neither has Venezuela, for many years the great sentinel and engine of the Bolivarian Revolution, as well as of Latin Internationalism and solidarity. Surviving coups, embargos, plots and propaganda campaigns, surviving attacks, even terror, of the foreign-backed ‘opposition’, Venezuela has been injured but it is alive. Just a few days ago I spoke to an Italian Parliamentary delegation, consisting of  the“5-Star-Movement” MPs, which recently returned from Caracas. Their conclusion was simple: “The worst is over”.

The world knows it! Venezuela, DPRK, Cuba – they never fell. No matter how many knives penetrated their bodies, despite so much pain caused by the sanctions, coup attempts and direct acts of terrorism administered by the West and its monstrous Empire.

It is becoming clear and obvious: the West is helpless against determination, true courage and patriotic love. It is powerless when confronted with humanist ideologies, and with true loyalty!

And the world keeps watching, drawing its conclusions.

I wrote about Syria, comparing Aleppo to the 20th Century Stalingrad. This is where racism, terrorism, and the lowest forms of Western imperialism (and shameful acts of the regional lackeys) were decisively stopped. The price was terrible, but the message to the world extremely clear: The people who love their country with their entire hearts can fight and win against all odds, especially if by their side stand truly great and reliable friends and comrades!
One day the world will thank the Syrian people, profusely and properly. One day, everything will be understood. One day, perhaps soon.

*

This is one of the greatest moments in human history, perhaps the greatest.

It has arrived without big salvos announcing monumental revolutions.

Everything is happening fast, in an organized and determined manner.

The greatest minds of Russia, China, Latin America and the rest of the world, are feverishly, day and night, trying to determine what really brought our world, our civilization, to this ludicrous downfall.

The simplified and stripped-down answer is this: Western imperialism (military, economic and ‘intellectual’/’cultural’), colonialism and neo-colonialism, as well as that dreadful by-product of all the above combined –a set of unchecked and savage form of capitalism.

Simultaneously, new forms of government, of economy and social systems are being, once again, planned.

The military strategists of the countries that are refusing to kneel in front of the barbaric terror of the West, responsible for hundreds of millions of murders and billions of ruined lives, are planning how to defend their countries and the world.

Once again, the world is at work! It is building trenches, educating people, preparing them for the final showdown with the culture that has been tormenting our Planet for centuries.

It is the moment of great hope and renewed enthusiasm.

Of course, if seen from Western capitals, everything is bleak and depressing. There is no ‘hope’ at all.

I agree fully: there is no hope ‘for them’.

The logic, the ‘philosophy’ with which the Europeans and the North Americans have become accustomed to analyze the world, has arrived at a dead end.

Yes, it is ‘the end of philosophy’, or as they say, ‘the end of history’. I fully agree: it is the end of their philosophy and of their history.
That’s why, reading about their elections or statements produced by their politicians, is nothing less than a waste of time. The world realizes it, more and more.

Their ‘new tricks’ are actually very old. Their entire system is outdated. It should have been retired at least one hundred years ago. It survived only because of its savagery and cruelty.It will go soon, anyway.

These days, encountering people inhabiting the West is like encountering those zombies who were living in Nazi Germany during WWII. After the war was over, they were street walking for years, at least many of them, repeating the same refrains: “We didn’t know!” “We never realized”. The Nazi propaganda and the one, which has been used in the West and in the colonies (as Noam Chomskyand I defined in our book “On Western Terrorism”), are based on precisely the same roots, foundations and methods. Both are extremely effective, when it comes to the total brainwashing of the population.

To follow up the last chapter of the imperialist and turbo capitalist morass of the West is embarrassing and useless.

Both Europe and the United States are suffering from a series of devastating mental illnesses, as was defined by the great Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, right after WWII.

Getting too much involved in pathological behavior, constantly studying and analyzing it, could only break and deeply depress any healthy person’s mind.

There is nothing more to understand. Hundreds of millions of victims in all parts of the world are speaking for themselves.
The only rational issue here is this: how to stop this horror, as soon as possible? How to allow humanity to return to its natural development and evolution patterns?

I don’t believe in ‘punishments’ and ‘trials’ and other vehicles of intimidation and of spreading fear. I don’t care whether the West will ‘pay’ for all that it has done to the world. I only want it to be stopped, once and for all.

I work very hard for it to be stopped.

So are others.

And the world is watching, and all of a sudden enjoying what it sees.

Suddenly more and more people are daring to laugh at the global regime. Of course not in Paris, London or New York (here they are scared and obedient, even more than before). But outside, yes!
People on all continents want to see and hear about what ‘others do’, what ‘we do’, not what the Empire and its mental conditions are producing.

They are laughing and waiting impatiently for what a new day, a new year will bring. They are waiting for the true new beginning to arrive.