domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2018


Bueno, por fin alguien se atreve a decir algo en público que tenga algún sentido. Fue la Ministra de Relaciones Exteriores de Austria (foto) en la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas el día de ayer, hablando de Medio Oriente. No se la pierdan. La nota es de Russia Today:

Título: Syria a victim of wars fought in the name of oil – Austrian Foreign Minister

Texto: Oil is the real reason behind all conflicts in the Middle East while Syria is just the latest victim of this struggle, Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl told the UN General Assembly in a speech she started in Arabic.

The very existence of the modern Middle Eastern states have been “shaped by oil business,” Kneissl told the UNGA. A Middle East expert herself went on to explain that the borders of the states that were established following the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire were “based on pipelines.”

All the wars the region witnessed over the recent decades are just a continuation of this fight for the control over the fossil fuels that still “dominate the energy mix” in the world, the foreign minister said, adding that Syria, which has been engulfed in a bloody seven-years conflict, is “a victim of instability created by all these wars.”

This was the first time an Austrian top official made such statements at the level of the UN General Assembly.

Kneissl also surprised the gathering in New York as she started her speech in Arabic – a move she explained by her respect to the people, who fight for their lives in a region ravaged by wars. She switched to French, Spanish and English as well in the course of her statement.

She also criticized the international community and the UN in particular for losing real effectiveness behind the “flurry of meetings, which some diplomats turned into a comfortable endless game full of litanies and mantras.”

We settle for these hackneyed arguments when we discuss Syria and Yemen. We get carried away with such words as reconstruction and stabilization while populations – children – are just trying to survive,” Kneissl said. Following these words, the foreign minister announced that Austria would like to “contribute to financing” the mine clearing operations in Syria.

Vienna is also “ready to increase its humanitarian commitment” to help the Yemeni people, Kneissl said as she called the Yemeni crisis, which is often neglected by the western media and officials, “the greatest tragedy of our time.”

In her speech, Kneissl also condemned the use of chemical and biological weapons as well as called for nuclear disarmament and urged the international community to do more to fight for the rights of women.

The foreign minister also criticized the US for its withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, even though she avoided calling Washington by name. While hailing the agreement itself as a “result of multilateral action” and a “subject to independent verification system” that should be preserved, she said that “one country’s” withdrawal from its “weakens the mutual trust” and disrupts measures aimed at “confidence building.”

sábado, 29 de septiembre de 2018

La fragilidad de las alianzas

Una nota reciente nos llamó la atención. Habla de la fragilidad de las alianzas de varias de las potencias que actúan hpy en Medio Oriente, y sobre sus intereses no siempre coincidentes. Es de James Dorsey y salió publicada en el blog  MidEastSoccer:

Título: Fragility Of Middle-East Alliances Becomes Ever More Apparent

Texto: Three recent developments lay bare the fragility of Middle Eastern alliances and a rebalancing of their priorities: the Russian-Turkish compromise on an assault on the rebel-held Syrian region of Idlib, thefate of troubled Abu Dhabi airline Ettihad, and battles over reconstruction of Syria.

These developments highlight the fact that competition among Middle Eastern rivals and ultimate power within the region’s various alliances is increasingly as much economic and commercial as it is military and geopolitical. Battles are fought as much on geopolitical fronts as they are on economic and cultural battlefields such as soccer.

As a result, the fault lines of various alliances across the greater Middle East, a region that stretches from North Africa to north-western China, are coming to the fore.

The cracks may be most apparent in the Russian-Turkish-Iranian alliance but lurk in the background of Gulf cooperation with Israel in confronting Iran as well as the unified front put forward by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Russia, prevented, at least for now, a rupture with Turkey, by delaying an all-out attack on Idlib despite Iranian advocacy of an offensive. Turkey, already home to three million Syrians, feared that a Syrian-Russian assault, would push hundreds of thousands, if not millions more across its border.

If Iran was the weakest link in the debate about Idlib, it stands stronger in its coming competition with Russia for the spoils of reconstruction of war-ravaged Syria.

Similarly, Russia appears to be ambivalent towards a continued Iranian military presence in post-war Syria, a potential flashpoint given Israel’s opposition and Israeli attacks that led earlier this month to the downing of a Russian aircraft.

By the same token, Turkey, despite its backing of Qatar in its 15-month-old dispute with a Saudi-UAE-led alliance that is boycotting the Gulf state diplomatically and economically, poses perhaps the greatest challenge to Qatari efforts to project itself globally by operating one of the world’s best airlines and positioning itself as a sports hub.

Turkey, despite its failure this week to win the right to host Euro 2024 and its lack of the Gulf’s financial muscle, competes favourably on every other front with Qatar as well as the UAE that too is seeking to project itself through soft as well as hard power and opposes Mr. Erdogan because of his Islamist leanings, ties to Iran, and support of Qatar. Turkey wins hands down against the small Gulf states when it comes to size, population, location, industrial base, military might, and sports performance.

That, coupled with a determination to undermine Qatar, was likely one reason, why the UAE’s major carriers, Emirates and Etihad that is troubled by a failed business model, have, despite official denials, been quietly discussing a potential merger that would create the world’s largest airline.

Countering competition from Turkish Airlines that outflanks both UAE carriers with 309 passenger planes that service 302 destinations in 120 countries may well have been another reason. Emirates, the larger of the two Emirati carriers, has, a fleet of 256 aircraft flying to 150 destinations in 80 countries.

These recent developments suggest that alliances, particularly the one that groups Russia, Turkey and Iran, are brittle and transactional, geared towards capitalizing on immediate common interests rather than shared long-term goals, let alone values.

That is true even if Russia and Turkey increasingly find common ground in concepts of Eurasianism. It also applies to Turkey and Qatar who both support Islamist groups as well as to Saudi Arabia and the UAE who closely coordinate policies but see their different goals put on display in Yemen.

The fragility of the alliances is further underwritten by Turkish, Russian and Iranian aspirations of resurrecting empire in a 21st century mould and a Saudi quest for regional dominance.

Notions of empire have informed policies long before realignment across Eurasia as a result of the focus of the United States shifting from the Middle East to Asia, the rise of China. increasingly strained relations between the West and Russia, and the greater assertiveness of Middle Eastern states like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran.

Then president Suleyman Demirel told this author already in the 1990s in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union and the emergence of independent, mostly ethnically Turkic Central Asian republics that “Turkey’s world stretches from the Adriatic to the Great Wall of China.”

In a world in which globalization is shaped by geopolitical zones rather than individual countries, Russia’s imperative is to be a region by defining itself as an Asian rather than a European power that would be on par with China, the European Union, and a US zone of influence.

Putin does not think along national lines. He thinks in terms of larger blocks, and, ultimately in terms of the world order,” said former Portuguese minister for Europe, Bruno Macaes in a recently published book, The Dawn of Eurasia.

In doing so, Russia is effectively turning its back on Europe as it reinvents itself as an Asian power on the basis of a Eurasianism, a century-old ideology that defines Russia as a Eurasian rather than a European power.

The Eurasian Economic Union, that groups Russia, Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia, is a vehicle that allows Russia to establish itself as a block in the borderland between Europe and Asia.

Similarly, Eurasianism has gained currency in Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who enabled by the demise of the Soviet Union and the re-emergence of a Turkic world, projects his country as a crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia rather than a European bridge to Asia.

In that vein, Turkish columnist Sinan Baykent projected this week’s fence-mending visit to Germany by Mr. Erdogan and his proposal for a summit on Syria of Turkish, Russian, German and French leaders as a Eurasian approach to problem solving.

The meeting between Mr. Erdogan and German chancellor Angela Merkel was meant “to pave the way for a Eurasian solution for the region… There is a new axis forming today between Berlin, Moscow, Ankara, Tehran and maybe Paris… All of these countries are fed up with American unilateralism and excessive policies displayed by the Trump administration.,” Mr. Baykent said.

If Turkey and Russia’s vision of their place in the world is defined to a large extent by geography, Iran’s topology dictates a more inward-looking view despite accusations that it is seeking to establish itself as the Middle East’s hegemon.

Iran is a fortress. Surrounded on three sides by mountains and on the fourth by the ocean, with a wasteland at its centre,” noted Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence platform. Gulf fears are rooted not only in deep-seated distrust of Iran’s Islamic regime, but also in the fact that the foundation of past Persian empire relied on control of plains in present-day Iraq.

As a result, the manoeuvring of Gulf states, in contrast to Turkey and Russia, is driven less by a conceptual framing of their place in the world and more by regional rivalry and regime survival. Countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE walk a fine line focusing geopolitically on an increasingly unpredictable United States and economically on China and the rest of Asia, including Russia, Korea and Japan.

What the plight of Idlib, potential change in aviation and competition for reconstruction contracts highlight is the brittleness of Middle Eastern alliances that threatens to be reinforced by economics becoming an increasingly important factor alongside geopolitics.

Stakes for all parties are starting to divert from each other in Syria and the prospects of cooperation with Russia and Iran are becoming more challenging,” said Turkish columnist Nuray Mert commenting on the situation in Idlib. Her analysis is as valid for Idlib as it for the prospects of many of the Middle East alliances.


Leímos hoy una bella, breve y medular nota del historiador José Álvarez Junco en la sección Babelia del diario español El País. Acá va:

Título: Cataluña, el problema pendiente

Epígrafe: De todas las tensiones que atravesaban España hace un siglo, la única que sigue sin resolverse es la reivindicación territorial. La estabilidad democrática ha vuelto a chocar con el nacionalismo

Texto: No son muchos ya, imagino, los que recuerdan lo que se sentía al leer la famosa literatura sobre el “problema español”. Fue aquel todo un género literario, hundido en el pesimismo más sombrío, que se prolongó más de medio siglo, a partir de 1898, y que seguía formando parte de las lecturas iniciales de cualquier joven con preocupaciones políticas en los años sesenta. Aquellos libros pretendían explicar las razones del desastre nacional —un desastre que nadie negaba—. Y lo hacían en términos que iban desde el esencialismo hasta el historicismo, desde lo racial hasta lo providencial o lo paranoico. Avalaban aquellas obras nombres del máximo prestigio: Costa, Unamuno, Maeztu, Baroja, Machado, Ortega… Como nos decían que eran clásicos, y que sus ideas seguían vigentes, los leíamos con toda seriedad; y andábamos meditabundos y acomplejados.

Porque la lista de problemas con la que se enfrentaba el país era, de verdad, apabullante, sobre todo comparándolo con Reino Unido, Francia o Alemania, países nada normales, sino excepcionales, en aquel momento. Era una economía atrasada, con una renta per capita que apenas alcanzaba la mitad de la de esos tres países. El campo, que absorbía dos tercios de la población activa al comenzar el siglo, estaba dominado en el centro-sur por latifundistas absentistas y braceros sin tierra, y en el norte, por minifundios que expulsaban población emigrante. La historia política desde 1808 era una trepidante sucesión de cambios de régimen, Constituciones efímeras y guerras civiles, culminado todo en la matanza de 1936-1939 y la dictadura en vigor. La Iglesia católica monopolizaba el espacio público y se imponía al poder civil, salvo esporádicas explosiones de turbas anticlericales que quemaban iglesias y mataban curas. Los militares eran otro Estado dentro del Estado, y los Gobiernos no se atrevían a enfrentarse con ellos, por el riesgo de pronunciamientos —cien en un siglo, entre exitosos y fallidos; el último, origen del régimen—. El sistema educativo era escuálido y obsoleto, y en 1900 dos tercios de los españoles eran analfabetos. En el escenario internacional, tras la pérdida casi completa del imperio en 1810-1825 y de sus residuos en 1898, España había pasado a ser una potencia irrelevante, ausente en las alianzas o guerras europeas. Y seguía, por último, sin resolverse la distribución territorial del poder; un asunto que podía ser acallado por la fuerza, como habían hecho Primo de Rivera o Franco, pero que volvían a plantear las élites periféricas, sobre todo catalanas —las vascas habían logrado un cierto arreglo—, a la menor ocasión.

Sobraban, sí, las razones para el pesimismo. Los problemas eran graves e innegables, pero quienes escribían sobre ellos (literatos en realidad, y de envidiable calidad, pero no analistas sociales ni políticos) los exageraban y, sobre todo, los elevaban al nivel de lo esencial y poco menos que eterno. De ahí las utópicas soluciones que ofrecían: había que cambiar —nada menos— la “forma de ser” nacional, transformar nuestra psicología fantasiosa, egoísta, autoflagelante, perezosa e indiferente ante el bien común, y convertirnos en orgullosos y prácticos ciudadanos, como los ingleses o los americanos. Para lograr tales cambios, algunos confiaban en la enseñanza, que debería dejar de ser libresca, memorística y ajena a cualquier saber útil; y otros, en un “cirujano de hierro” que sajara y depurara sin piedad la esfera pública, logrando por decreto que los partidos dejaran de ser bandas de caciques depredadores y los funcionarios se convirtieran en honrados y eficaces servidores públicos. Para el paisaje, que también debía pasar de seco a húmedo, todos apostaban por los pantanos.

Al victimismo secesionista se le sumaron la crisis económica de 2008 y el anticatalanismo del PP

Qué complejo, la verdad, salir a Europa —así decíamos: salir a Europa— en los años cincuenta o sesenta y encontrarse con países donde los trenes eran rápidos, limpios, puntuales; donde los mendigos no afeaban las calles; donde la gente andaba deprisa, a lo suyo, y si te rozaban decían pardon o sorry, en lugar de haraganear y bromear en las esquinas; donde no había películas ni libros prohibidos y las parejas se besaban en los parques; donde existían sindicatos y elecciones libres, edificios con grandes rótulos de Parti Communiste Français y mítines laboristas en los que viejitas impolutas cantaban La Internacional con el puño cerrado. Todo esto sin que se hundiera la bóveda celestial. Y encima eran más ricos que nosotros.

El caso es que Franco murió y para entonces, gracias a un crecimiento económico disparado por la liberalización y el contexto europeo, algunos de esos problemas seculares estaban disolviéndose como azucarillos: la economía despegaba a gran velocidad; la mecanización expulsaba del campo a millones de personas y el sector agrícola se convertía en residual; clericalismo y anticlericalismo perdían virulencia en una sociedad moderna y secularizada. La Transición se propuso y logró la construcción de una democracia estable. Y España se integró en la Unión Europea y la OTAN, con lo que subió al escenario internacional como una potencia de rango medio, acorde con su peso demográfico y económico; y los militares aprendieron inglés y respeto a las leyes.

Era una historia, en fin, de éxito. Pero no en relación con el problema territorial, que siguió coleando. Ante esta cuestión, la Transición había partido prácticamente de cero. El Estado español moderno —radicalmente distinto a la monarquía imperial de los siglos XVI a XVIII— había nacido en Cádiz, en 1812. Y desde entonces había tomado como modelo el centralismo revolucionario o napoleónico francés. Quizás hubiera sido mejor haberlo hecho con el caso británico, conjunto de reinos preexistentes agrupados en una monarquía común. Pero lo cierto es que el modelo inicial sobrevivió incuestionado durante casi todo el XIX, y que las afirmaciones de identidad regional —las proclamas sobre Cataluña como “patria” propia— partían de la aceptación de España como “nación” política o sujeto de la soberanía. Ese doble patriotismo se vio dificultado tras el fracaso del ciclo revolucionario en 1874 y más aún tras la debacle de 1898, cuando algunos grupos empezaron a plantear la identidad catalana o vasca como rivales y excluyentes de la española; pero el doble patriotismo siguió dominando. En dos situaciones democráticas, 1931 y 1978, se intentó resolver este problema con un Estado unitario pero con esferas excepcionales de autogobierno para las regiones que lo desearan. La de 1931 fracasó, víctima de los radicalismos. La de 1978 parecía tener mejores perspectivas.

La historia juzgará a las élites nacionalistas y las culpará de la división de la sociedad catalana

La Transición fue un ejercicio de sensatez y renuncia, por un lado, a la llorosa y dañina literatura del desastre y, por otro, a los grandiosos sueños de transformación del mundo que nuestras mentes habían incubado durante la larga noche del antifranquismo. Adónde vas tú, Carrillo, cantábamos, con la reconciliación. No bastaba con derrocar la dictadura. Queríamos la revolución. Y no una revolución cualquiera, sino una que, superando el estalinismo y otros “errores”, fuera, a la vez, democrática, autogestionada, lúdica y respetuosa con las minorías sexuales o nacionales. El paquete redondo. De vez en cuando, alguno sugería un matiz olvidado y, tras largo debate, lo incluíamos. Pero nos hicimos mayores, en el mejor sentido, y renunciamos a estas demandas a cambio de asegurar las libertades políticas fundamentales y el crecimiento económico.

Los nacionalistas radicales, en cambio, no renunciaron a nada. Su sueño era la independencia, y lo mantuvieron, aunque siguieran siendo minoría. No se iban a conformar con un mero autogobierno, aunque fuera amplio; y menos aún con un autogobierno similar al otorgado a otros territorios del país, sin su tradición identitaria y de exigencia autonómica.

La Generalitat, como el Gobierno vasco, cayó en manos de los nacionalistas. No de los más radicales, pues Jordi Pujol creía imposible la independencia y se limitó a elevar al máximo el listón de sus exigencias dentro de la legalidad. Pero, en vez de concentrarse en el autogobierno, su tarea principal fue fer país, es decir, construir la nación. Una nación sin Estado, decían, pero apoyada, en realidad, por un aparato político y administrativo perfectamente estatal que dedicaba sus mejores esfuerzos a reforzar el sentimiento de nación catalana y debilitar el de la española.

Sus medios principales fueron los de cualquier Estado: el sistema educativo, las instituciones oficiales y los medios públicos de comunicación. Como ejemplo de institución, el Museu d’Història de Catalunya, que sigue difundiendo hoy ante visitas escolares diarias la versión canónica del victimismo nacionalista. Como ejemplo de los medios, el mapa del tiempo de TV3, que incluye los Països Catalans, pero excluye el resto de España. Si a ello se añaden la crisis económica de 2008 y el anticatalanismo del PP (de la derecha española no se puede olvidar aquella explosión espontánea, al reconquistar el poder en marzo de 1996, de “Pujol, enano, habla castellano”), se comprende el auge del sentimiento exclusivista e independentista entre las jóvenes generaciones.

Ese es, pues, el principal problema que sigue vivo ante nosotros (dejo de lado, ya sé, cosas como la calidad de la enseñanza y la investigación, que, desgraciadamente, angustian menos a la opinión). Deberíamos poder resolverlo, como resolvimos los demás. La ­fórmula será, seguramente, un federalismo más auténtico y completo. Pero no habrá solución a partir de los planteamientos clásicos de los nacionalismos excluyentes.

La historia juzgará algún día a las élites nacionalistas. Les culpará, creo, del grave deterioro de la cultura catalana, antes cosmopolita y hoy ensimismada, y de la división de la sociedad, antes satisfecha con el bilingüismo y la doble identidad. Como les culpará por haber creado un Estado en su peor versión posible: el decidido a imponer la homogeneidad cultural, según su modelo preconcebido de nación, y por tanto a reducir la libertad y la pluralidad de la sociedad a la que gobierna.

jueves, 27 de septiembre de 2018

El estado de las cosas

Acá va un lindo resumen de situación en torno al Imperio, su ya agotado momento unipolar y la posible respuesta del resto del mundo. Cortito, concreto y sencillo. La nota es de Ken Livingstone (foto), político laborista inglés, alcalde de Londres entre 2000 y 2008 y ex miembro del parlamento británico. Salió publicada ayer en Russia Today:

Título: US has to come to terms with its place in the world, just as Britain did when its empire collapsed

Texto: Trump’s threats of war, sanctions and promises to make America great again could be dismissed as the ranting of an eccentric politician. But this isn’t all about Trump. What he advocates is representative of much of the US elite.

The president and his generation of Americans grew up in a world where the USA was the greatest superpower in human history. It was not just their vast arsenal of nuclear weapons and their war machine but, in 1945, around 50 percent of the entire world’s economy was in the United States of America, with Britain and the USSR hobbling along with around 10 percent each. America dwarfed the power that the British empire had in the 19th century.  

In the years that followed, America would intervene all over the world, not to spread democracy, but to overthrow governments that were not working in America’s commercial interests. Whether it was the coup that removed the government of Iran in 1953 and brought back the dictatorship of the Shah; or the military coup in Brazil in 1964 that overthrew a socialist, democratically elected government; or the dozens of other coups around the world, America crushed any opposition to its economic interests.

Some 45 years after the end of the Second World War came the collapse of the Soviet Union, by which time America’s share of the global economy was down to 25 percent. The collapse of the Soviet Union unleashed a wave of assumptions about the future. The most significant of these was Francis Fukuyama’s 1992 book ‘The End of History and The Last Man.’ This was met with acclaim around the world as he argued that the ideological evolution of humanity was over with the triumph of Western liberal democracy. Fukuyama had previously worked in the US State Department under Ronald Reagan and later worked for the first George Bush. Now he is a senior fellow at Stanford University and has just published a book called ‘Identity’ looking at the current political situation. But it was his 1992 book that dominated the political debate as he predicted that the collapse of communism meant there was only one system left for our planet: pragmatic liberal democracy, and the world would never change again.

In an interview in The Guardian, Fukuyama talks about the “ruthless cunning of Vladimir Putin” and points out that Trump and Brexit are a backlash against multiculturalism and international cooperation. He warns that “globalization has clearly left a lot of people behind. There is greater automation, greater inequality.” He says he believed the financial crash would see a surge of left-wing populism and was therefore surprised by the rise of Trump.

Across much of the capitalist West, tens of millions have seen their lives get worse and this has fueled the growth of far-right groups and racial hatred. But different things are happening elsewhere in the world, of which the most significant is the rise of China. Around 40 years ago, China was a basket economy with 90 percent of its people living in poverty, but the economic strategy of China has lifted over 500 million Chinese out of poverty and their economy has grown to a point where it is about to overtake the USA. Not surprisingly, this has caused a backlash in the American establishment.

Paul Wolfowitz, a key player in America’s invasion of Iraq, had warned back in 1992 in a secret memo to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney that “our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor.” But with the growth of China’s economy and America’s economic decline, Wolfowitz’s strategy has now become the consensus in the American government, including Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. During Obama’s administration, they were pushing aggressive policies by expanding NATO to encircle Russia and devising a strategy for the economic containment of China. Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) tried to create an economic bloc around the Pacific that would exclude China. Fortunately, this was rejected by most Asian governments and never happened.

America’s paranoia about China ignores why Beijing’s economy has soared. Unlike the West, which allows the financial sector to dominate and set the economic agenda, China focused on scientific and technological development, investment in infrastructure (like high-speed rail) and kept its financial center under firm regulation, thus avoiding its banks collapsing as they did in the West in 2008.

Sergei Glazyev, a key adviser to President Putin, has warned against the continuing US and EU sanctions against Russia, and the capricious policy of the Trump administration that has seen the start of a trade war. He warns that “if the US keeps contradicting international law… the first measure we would have to take together with China and other countries who are suffering from US aggression would be to get rid of the dollar as the key international currency.” China, he said, “has created the most progressive system in the world for directing economic development, combining planning with market self-regulation, and subordinating private initiative to the needs of raising the general welfare through an increased volume and efficiency of production.”

Another consequence of China’s growth is BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). These countries are increasingly cooperating and as their economies continue to rise, we will never again see a world in which one country’s economy can dominate the whole planet, as was the case with America after 1945.

This global economic shift has caused a backlash with former British prime minister Tony Blair claiming: “America needs Europe united and standing with it, not isolated as individual nations, able to be picked off one by one by the emergent new powers.”

China’s President Xi, speaking at the G20 conference two years ago, warned that “we can no longer rely on fiscal and monetary policy alone,” and called for spreading visionary and inclusive economic growth driven by innovation in science and technology… “to spearhead the fourth industrial revolution.” He went on to promise direct support to help the countries of Africa see their economies grow.

Xi also said “the Silk Road Economic Belt is progressing rapidly and the Maritime Silk Road is well underway. But this is not China creating a sphere of influence but rather a means of supporting the development of all countries. We are not building China’s backyard garden but we’re building a garden to be shared by all countries.”

Also, in September 2016, Russia’s President Putin advocated “big, ambitious, complex and long-term tasks” to transform Russia’s Far East into a hub of Eurasian development. At the same time, President Obama was still pushing for the TPP and demanding that “America should write the rules, not China.” A significant response to Obama came from Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, who said: “In my opinion, the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed because we Europeans did not want to subject ourselves to America’s demands.”

These views were not shared by Britain’s Prime Minister May, as she launched what seemed to be the beginning of a new Cold War against Russia. Her views were echoed by the Sunday Telegraph’s editor, Allister Heath, who called for Britain to take the lead in creating a new global military and economic alliance to enforce democracy but also capitalism across the globe. Heath’s column was titled ‘Forget NATO. We need a new world alliance to take on totalitarian capitalists in Russia and China.’ Heath continued: “NATO is no longer enough: it is too European, too many of its members are outright pacifists and Turkey’s membership is problematic.” Heath claimed that the new alliance he was advocating “would be the biggest shift in geopolitics since the creation of the UN. It would dramatically shift the global balance of power, and allow the liberal democracies finally to fight back. It would endow the world with the sorts of robust institutions that are required to contain Russia and China…”

No one power is ever going to dominate the world again. The choice we face is to cooperate with the emerging new economies like China and those that will follow around the rest of the Third World or get caught up in an economic Cold War led by the American establishment and its UK ally. America has got to come to terms with the world as it is now, just as Britain had to the same when its empire collapsed. We should work with China and Russia and the other emerging economies and, in doing so, ordinary people around the world will benefit – including in the USA, if only America stops looking back to the past.

miércoles, 26 de septiembre de 2018


La anunciada movida europea de correrse del sistema bancario SWIFT ha dado lugar a comentarios en la prensa financiera internacional. Tal es el caso de Marko Kolanovic, del JP Morgan, quien comenzó a especular sobre el significado de esta y otras eventuales medidas, y sobre su impacto sobre el dólar como moneda internacional de reserva. La nota que sigue viene del sitio web Zero Hedge y es de hoy:

Título: Kolanovic: There Is A "Profound" Danger To The Dollar's Reserve Status

Texto: In his latest note released this morning, JPM's head quant, Marko Kolanovic, reiterates his recent tactical call that the "unprecedented outperformance" of US equities vs. the rest of the world is over, and again recommends "gradually tilting towards Emerging Markets", a trade which in recent weeks has generated profits as beaten down EM have found a floor and have indeed outperformed the developed world (whether or not this trend continues will depend on the Fed, the trade war with China, and various other intangibles).

For now, Marko is sticking to his conviction, and writes that "markets are likely sensing that the tide may be turning in the trade war" and "the tables are turning as a stronger USD, higher yields, and trade tariffs start impacting US profit growth, and YoY earnings comparisons soften." Echoing his latest note from late August, Kolanovic says that "while we think that US equities will drift higher, the days of rampant outperformance vs. the RoW are likely over."

Whether Kolanovic's attempt to bottom tick the EM/DM trade will be successful will be revealed in due course.

What we found far more intriguing, however, was the second part of Kolanovic's report, in which the JPM strategist shares his thoughts on a topic that has fascinated many in recent days - including politicians in both the EU, Iran and the US - namely Europe's ongoing desire to circumvent SWIFT and Trump's ability to "weaponize" the dollar, in order to maintain commerce with Iran in a narrow sense, but more broadly, to bypass Washington's "veto" on global commerce and transactions that involve the world's reserve currency: the US Dollar.

As a reminder, yesterday we reported that Europe has unveiled a "Special Purpose Vehicle" to do just that, which not only would bypass SWIFT, but potentially jeopardize the dollar's reserve status. As we explained, "given U.S. law enforcement’s wide reach, there would still be a risk involved, and European governments may not be able to protect the companies from it. Some firms will be tempted to try the new infrastructure, however, and the public isn't likely to find out if they do.  In any case, in response to Trump's aggressive foreign policies and "weaponization" of the dollar, it is worthwhile for Europe, Russia and China to experiment with dollar-free business."

We concluded:

This brings up the bigger point: no currency’s international dominance has lasted forever, and there’s no reason for the U.S. dollar to be the exception to this rule.

Trump’s confidence in his ability to weaponize the dollar against adversaries and stubborn allies alike could eventually backfire for the U.S. as efforts to push the dollar off its pedestal grow ever more serious.

Today, Kolanovic picks up on this theme and begins with a generic analysis of fund flows, and - in the context of the most successful US "export" - he writes that one can look at the US Trade deficit "as a trade surplus in which the US is acquiring goods in exchange for USD bills."  According to the JPM strategist - and many others - this "exchange of natural resources and labor for inherently worthless fiat currency, as well as broad USD ownership has many benefits for the US" such as the following:

USD acquired in trade is often deposited in reserves (e.g., treasuries or other US assets) thus reducing the cost of capital for the US government and businesses. In this way, global trade and related ownership of USD keeps domestic inflation low, and is helping finance the US government (e.g., military, foreign policy, etc.).

Hardly groundbreaking, Kolanovic notes that this "exorbitant privilege" was recognized a long time ago by geopolitical rivals - such as China and Russia  - that don’t enjoy this benefit. It was also summarized by former NATO secretary general, Javier Solana, who said that "the power of the U.S. today is not military, it’s the dollar."

And, as Kolanovic rhetorically asks, with the current US administration policies of unilateralism, trade wars, and sanctions increasingly affecting both friends and foes, "the question arises whether the rest of the world should diversify away from the risks of the USD and USD-centric finance?"

And this is where the risk emerges, because as Kolanovic expands "recently, there are developments that suggest such a diversification could take place, and is being catalyzed by policies of the current US administration."

In other words, if faith in the greenback is failing, blame Trump.

To underscore that point, the JPM strategist brings up the story we discussed yesterday, in which EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif announced the creation of a ‘special vehicle’ for trade despite US sanctions, while noting that a similar idea were promoted last month by Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas.

To Kolanovic, it is the threat of Trump's "unilateral policies" that are the biggest risk of bringing major powers of China, Europe and Russia closer, an alliance which "could profoundly impact the USD-centric financial system." But it's not just Trump, however:

while the current US administration may be a catalyst for long-term de-dollarization, such diversification may be prudent even if Washington policies change. For instance, currency/rate diversification might be in the best interest of Emerging Market economies, time and time again left at mercy of US Federal Reserve rate cycles.

So if indeed the US Dollar finds itself at a "tipping point" with a growing risk for a USD-centric system, how should investors protect themselves? To Kolanovic, one possible hedge against the secular risk of de-dollarization is "by shifting into non US assets (e.g., RoW stocks and bonds)"

But his preferred trade appears to be going long gold, not only for strategic but due to tactical reasons as "the current positioning in gold is extremely short."

Figure 2 shows aggregated investment in gold ETFs and futures as fraction of  the S&P 500 price. It is currently near the lowest point in a decade, and there were only two historical instances this low level was reached. One was shortly before the market crash in 2008, and the other shortly before the market rally in early 2016 (led by Emerging Market stocks and Value). Being long gold worked well in these entirely different scenarios (one being risk off, and another risk on).

Whether or not buying gold would truly hedge the collapse the US-centric world, a process which would entail the ascent of either the Euro or the Yuan to the status of global reserve currency, and one which the US would not allow to happen without a major war, is debatable. However, what is most remarkable is that we now have reputable bankers in the face of none other than Marko Kolanovic, one of the most respected strategists at JPMorgan, contemplating a world in which the US Dollar is no longer the reserve currency, a "thought experiment" which until recently was relegated to the fringes of financial commentary. That this line of thinking is becoming increasingly more mainstream - and accepted - is perhaps the most troubling observation from Kolanovic's latest note...

martes, 25 de septiembre de 2018


La foto de arriba muestra a la encargada de Relaciones Exteriores de la Unión Europea, Federica Mogherini, junto al Ministro iraní de Relaciones Exteriores, Mohammad Javad Zarif. A pesar de las sonrisas de ambos, la reunión fue seria: la Unión Europea acaba de comunicar que establecerá un canal de pagos alternativo al sistema SWIFT en relación con las transacciones financieras vinculadas con Irán. Esto permitiría a las compañías europeas hacer negocios con ese país y evadir eventuales sanciones por parte de los EEUU. La reacción del Wall Street Journal no se hizo esperar: la maniobra "... establece las bases para una confrontación entre los EEUU y Europa en relación al tratamiento de las relaciones con Irán, los pagos para la compra de petróleo iraní y, potencialmente, pone en peligro el estatus del dólar como moneda internacional de reserva". Así cuenta los hechos el sitio web Zero Hedge:

Título: Europe Unveils "Special Purpose Vehicle" To Bypass SWIFT, Jeopardizing Dollar's Reserve Status

Texto: In a stunning vote of "no confidence" in the US monopoly over global payment infrastructure, one month ago Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US that would allow Brussels to be independent in its financial operations from Washington and as a means of rescuing the nuclear deal between Iran and the west.

Writing in the German daily Handelsblatt, Maas said "Europe should not allow the US to act over our heads and at our expense. For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels that are independent of the US, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent Swift system," he wrote.

Maas said it was vital for Europe to stick with the Iran deal. "Every day the agreement continues to exist is better than the highly explosive crisis that otherwise threatens the Middle East," he said, with the unspoken message was even clearer: Europe no longer wants to be a vassal state to US monopoly over global payments, and will now aggressively pursue its own "SWIFT" network that is not subservient to Washington's every whim.

Many discounted the proposal as being far too aggressive: after all, a direct assault on SWIFT, and Washington, would be seen by the rest of the world as clear mutiny against a US-dominated global regime, and could potentially spark a crisis of confidence in the reserve status of the dollar, resulting in unpredictable, and dire, consequences.

However, despite the diplomatic consequences, Europe was intent on creating some loophole to the US ability to weaponize the global currency of account at will, something observed most recently as part of Trump's latest sanctions on Iran, and as a result, late on Monday, the European Union said that it would establish a special payment channel to allow European and other companies to legally continue financial transactions with Iran while avoiding exposure to U.S. sanctions.

The move, as the WSJ notes, "is a direct rebuke of President Trump’s policy on Iran and his decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal in May," and sets the stage for a confrontation between the U.S. and Europe over the treatment of Iran, the payment for Iran oil, and potentially, jeopardizing the reserve currency status of the dollar itself.

While keeping SWIFT as is, for now, the EU's foreign-policy head Federica Mogherini side by side with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced a "special purpose vehicle" jointly, in English and Farsi, after a meeting at the U.N. of the parties still committed to the deal—Iran, EU, U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China. In fact, everyone but the US.

According to Mogherini, the plan to create the SPV "will mean that EU member states will set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran, and this will allow European companies to continue trade with Iran" despite Trump's opposition.

As Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky explains, with Iran sanctions back, it is clear to the Europeans (as well as the Chinese and Russians) that any future transactions with Iran must go through entities insulated from the American financial system.

In a July 2018 report, Axel Hellman of the European Leadership Network think tank and Esfandyar Batmanghelidj of the Iranian company Bourse & Bazaar proposed “a new banking architecture” in response to the U.S. sanctions, relying on the existing system of “gateway banks,” such as the Hamburg-based Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank, and the European branches of private Iranian bank. “A further third category of gateway banks can be envisioned,” they wrote, “which would comprise of special purpose vehicles established by European governments, or as part of public-private partnerships in order to facilitate Iran trade and investment.”

The new plan focuses on this third option.

Mogherini further indicated that Germany, France and the U.K. would set up a multinational state-backed financial intermediary that would deal with companies interested in Iran transactions and with Iranian counter-parties. Such transactions, presumably in euros and pounds sterling, would not be transparent to American authorities. European companies dealing with the state-owned intermediary technically might not even be in violation of the U.S. sanctions as currently written.

And, in a potentially massive development, the system would be likely be open to Russia and China as well as it would enable the world's economies to trade with each other, fully independent of SWIFT.

Europe would thus provide an infrastructure for legal, secure sanctions-busting — and a guarantee that the transactions would not be reported to American regulators.

That said, Washington would not be without recourse, although at that point, all the U.S. could do is sanction the participating countries’ central banks or SWIFT for facilitating the transactions (if the special purpose vehicle uses SWIFT, rather than ad hoc messaging).

That, Hellman and Batmanghelidj wrote, would be self-defeating: “There are two possible outcomes if these institutions proceed to work with Iran despite U.S. secondary sanctions. Either U.S. authorities fail to take enforcement action given the massive consequences for the operations and integrity of the American financial system, serving to “defang” the enforcement threats and reduce the risk of European self-sanctioning on the basis of fear, or U.S. authorities take such an enforcement action, a step that would only serve to accelerate European efforts to create a defensible banking architecture that goes beyond the Iran issue alone.”

Europe, naturally, needs a "neutral" pretext to implement this SPV, and that would be Brussels' desire to continue transacting with Iran:

We are not backing down [on the Iran nuclear agreement],” said a European diplomat. He said the speeches of European leaders at a Security Council meeting Mr. Trump is hosting on Wednesday on nonproliferation, including Iran, will reflect the Monday night statement.

Additionally, as basis for the potentially revolutionary development, the participants of the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, "underlined their determination to protect the freedom of their economic operators to pursue legitimate business with Iran."

While the details of the SPV mechanism — which would be set up in future meetings with technical experts — were still to be determined, with the United States and the dollar dominating so much of global trade the statement said the new mechanism would "facilitate payments related to Iran's exports (including oil) and imports, which will assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran."

"In practical terms, this will mean that EU member states will set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran and this will allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran in accordance with European Union law and could be open to other partners in the world," she told reporters.

As a result of Trump's aggressive new sanctions on Iran, and potentially more sanctions after November as Trump hinted during his UN speech, European companies have been flocking out of Iran’s market and ending contracts to avoid risking U.S. sanctions.  Meanwhile, Iran - which has argued that the 2015 deal entitled the Islamic Republic to benefit from lifting of sanctions and to enter the world market - has seen its economy stumble, with the currency collapsing almost daily against the U.S. dollar since the U.S. exited the deal.

Telegraphing that Europe will continue cooperation with Iran despite US sanctions, Mogherini said Iran has remained fully committed to its obligations under the nuclear deal, as certified by a dozen reports from U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. She also hailed the 2015 agreement as a major achievement for diplomacy and nonproliferation and “deeply regrets” what she called the unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. from the deal.

* * *

In any case, creating "a defensible banking architecture" may well be the end goal for the Europeans, China and Russia, anyway because, as noted above, Iran is merely a convenient pretext: after all, the nuclear agreement is one of the few things that unite the EU, China and Russia against the U.S.

But, as Bershidsky notes, "working to undermine the dollar’s global dominance isn’t ultimately about Iran at all. In his recent State of the European Union speech, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for strengthening the euro’s international role and moving away from traditional dollar invoicing in foreign trade."

China and Russia have long sought the same thing, but it’s only with Europe, home of the world’s second biggest reserve currency, that they stand a chance of challenging American dominance.

While it remains to be seen if the “special purpose vehicle” would entice European companies such as France's Total or Germany's Daimler to get back into business with Iran remains to be seen, the optics of the move by the European Union together with China and Russia to defy the U.S. signaled continued criticism of the Trump administration for its decisions on Iran.

More importantly, it strikes at the heart of the current economic and financial system which is held together by the dollar. By providing an alternative, the global #resistance sets the stage for what potentially could be the ascendancy of other global reserve currencies, and/or a world of bilateral trade agreements which bypass both the US Dollar and Swift entirely, eliminating Washington's "veto powers" on global trade.

Given U.S. law enforcement’s wide reach, there would still be a risk involved, and European governments may not be able to protect the companies from it. Some firms will be tempted to try the new infrastructure, however, and the public isn't likely to find out if they do.  In any case, in response to Trump's aggressive foreign policies and "weaponization" of the dollar, it is worthwhile for Europe, Russia and China to experiment with dollar-free business.

But this brings up the bigger point: no currency’s international dominance has lasted forever, and there’s no reason for the U.S. dollar to be the exception to this rule.

Meanwhile, as Bershidsky concludes, "Trump’s confidence in his ability to weaponize the dollar against adversaries and stubborn allies alike could eventually backfire for the U.S. as efforts to push the dollar off its pedestal grow ever more serious."

lunes, 24 de septiembre de 2018

Ataque israelí en Siria: la respuesta rusa

El ministerio de Defensa de Rusia anunció que dotará a Siria de modernizados sistemas de defensa antiaérea S-300, en respuesta a lo que interpreta como una maniobra israelí para destruir (la semana pasada) un avión de reconocimiento ruso con quince pasajeros a bordo.  Así lo cuenta el sitio web Zero Hedge:

Título: Russia Will Supply S-300 System To Syria Within Weeks After Israeli Raid

Texto: It appears Israel has paid a huge price for last week's attack on Syria which led to the accidental "friendly" fire downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane with 15 personnel on board as the door could now be forever shut on striking targets in Syria with impunity. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has announced plans to deliver to its advanced S-300 air defense system to Damascus within two weeks.

Prior plans to deliver the system, which is considered vastly more effective and can strike at a greater range than Syria's current S-200 and others, were nixed after Israeli threats that delivery would constitute a "red line" for which Israel must act. 

The Russian MoD acknowledged this and said the situation has "changed" upon announcing its intent to follow through on what Syria has already purchased: “In 2013 on a request from the Israeli side we suspended the delivery to Syria of the S-300 system, which was ready to be sent with its Syrian crews trained to use it,” the MoD statement said.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said early Monday, "A modern S-300 air defense missile system will be supplied to the Syrian Armed Forces within two weeks. It is capable of intercepting air assault weapons at a distance of more than 250 kilometers and hit simultaneously several air targets."

Significantly, Syria's systems will be integrated with Russian systems via the S-300, in order to prevent instances of "blind" firing (or failure to have friend or foe identification capabilities).

Russia had in previous statements blamed Israel for the last Tuesday incident in which a Russian Ilyushin-20 reconnaissance plane was accidentally brought down by an aging Syrian S-200 defense system after Russia had scrambled its jets to respond to an attack by four Israeli F-16s on Syrian government targets.

Shoigu said the S-300 system will prevent such future mishaps: "The command posts of Syrian air defense forces and units will be equipped with automated control systems only supplied to the Russian armed forces. This will facilitate centralized control over all forces and resources of the Syrian air defense, monitor the situation in the air, and ensure operative issuance of orders."

He added that, "Most importantly, we will guarantee the identification of all Russian aircrafts by the Syrian air defense systems," according to TASS.

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Russian MoD presented a detailed 3D timeline of Il-20 downing in Syria on September 17.
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The Russian-made S-300s are widely acknowledged to be far superior in their capability and reach that Syria's current S-200 system. If installed — something which Russia has promised will happen in two weeks time — Syria might very well become nearly untouchable.

Israel has long claimed to be acting primarily against Iran inside Syria, often firing from over "neutral" Lebanese airspace, but additional new electronic countermeasures to be erected along with the S-300 system will hinder this, per RT:

The third measure announced by the Russian defense ministry is a blanket of electronic countermeasures over Syrian coastline, which would “suppress satellite navigation, onboard radar systems and communications of warplanes attacking targets on Syrian territory.”
Shoigu said the measures are meant to “cool down ‘hotheads’ and prevent misjudged actions posing a risk to our service members.” He added that if such a development fails to materialize, the Russian military “would act in accordance to the situation.”

All of this is precisely the game-changer that Israel's leadership has long worried about as they've sought to maintain "freedom of action" in Syria, according to prior statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But as a Haaretz report noted previously, the range of the new defense system will give Damascus the ability to detect potentially hostile aircraft from point of origin: "With Putin's S-300, Assad's army could even 'lock-on' IAF aircraft as they take off from bases within Israel." And as one Israeli defense analyst put it, "Israel should be worried."

domingo, 23 de septiembre de 2018

Brasil: crece Haddad

Seguimos posteando poco, esperando noticias del frente bélico de Siria. Mientras tanto, una buena para la región: el candidato de Lula, Fernando Haddad (foto), crece en las encuestas para las elecciones presidenciales del Brasil. La nota que sigue es de Dario Pignotti para el diario Página/12:

Título: Haddad crece a pesar de todos los microgolpes

Subtítulo: A dos semanas del voto en Brasil, el candidato de Lula y el ultraderechista Bolsonaro copan la escena política

Texto: El ex intendente petista de San Pablo necesita tornarse más conocido entre los 147 millones de ciudadanos habilitados para sufragar en la primera vuelta que se realizará dentro de 14 días, o en el posible ballottage del 28 de octubre.

Fernando Haddad ante el fantasma de los microgolpes. Proclamado hace sólo doce días con la bendición de Luiz Inácio Lula da  Silva, el candidato del Partido de los Trabajadores (PT) tuvo un crecimiento pronunciado en las encuestas. Tanto en lo que respecta a los números inmediatos como en la proyección de votos. Haddad avanzó en todos los sondeos ubicándose detrás del militar retirado (ma non troppo) Jair Bolsonaro, primero con entre el 26 y 28 por ciento de respaldo.

La agencia Ibope mostró que el petista saltó del 9 al 19 por ciento en los primeros días como candidato mientras Datafolha indicó un avance del 9 al 16 por ciento en el mismo lapso. Esta última empresa de medición de opinión pública detectó un dato cualitativo preocupante para el cuartel general bolsonarista: el 33 por ciento  respondió que votará sin dudarlo a quien  sea patrocinado por Lula y 16 por ciento dijo que posiblemente opte por el heredero del político preso en Curitiba.

En otras palabras: Haddad tiene alrededor del 19 por ciento de apoyo actual y puede trepar al 49. Claro  que para alcanzar ese guarismo  tendrá que recorrer el país contra reloj. Ocurre que el ex intendente petista de San Pablo necesita tornarse más conocido entre los 147 millones de ciudadanos habilitados para sufragar en la primera vuelta que se realizará dentro de 14 días, o en el posible balotaje del 28 de octubre. Es una tarea que requiere de una campaña redoblada pero es una meta factible dado que Lula ya le transfirió millones de votos a Dilma Rousseff en las presidenciales de 2010 y 2014, y al propio Haddad en los comicios paulistas de 2012.

El ex mandatario fue impugnado por el Tribunal Superior Electoral a principios de septiembre, cuando su popularidad rozaba el 40 por ciento duplicando la de Bolsonaro. En esos días el comandante del Ejército, general Eduardo Villas Boas, concedió una larga entrevista de corte político al diario Estado de Sao Paulo para poner en conocimiento de la opinión pública, y también de los jueces, que los militares no aceptarían una victoria de Lula. Ese pronunciamiento fue el segundo microgolpe del jefe castrense, después de que en abril hubiera recomendado al Supremo Tribunal Federal rechazar un hábeas corpus al jefe petista que pocos días más tarde sería encerrado en la Superintendencia de la Policía Federal curitibana. Estas conjuras en baja escala ocurrieron antes y después del derrocamiento de Rousseff en agosto de 2016. Son movimientos colaterales más o menos visibles para el gran público.

Después de la deposición de la expresidenta estas operaciones intentaron inviabilizar el retorno de Lula  y estuvieron a cargo principalmente de jueces y fiscales. Como la prisión en Curitiba no logró sepultarlo políticamente ni acabarlo electoralmente vinieron otras maniobras para impedirle hacer campaña. En la fase actual de esa guerra de baja intensidad el blanco es Fernando Haddad.

En la entrevista citada arriba el general en actividad Villas Boas también expresó, entrelíneas, su veto al recién lanzado candidato petista. Posteriormente el general en retiro Hamilton Mourao, dueño de un estilo algo brutal, ajeno al lenguaje elíptico, defendió un  “autogolpe” y la formación a dedo una comisión redactora de una nueva Constitución sin la participación de la ciudadanía. Vale decir, amenazó con derrocar a las autoridades civiles e instaurar un nuevo régimen post-democrático con otra Carta Magna.

Mourao, que también alentó el envío de tropas brasileñas a Venezuela, es el candidato a vicepresidente de la fórmula encabezada por Bolsonaro que ayer cumplió su décimo sexto día internado en el Hospital Albert Einstein de San Pablo, donde la semana pasada fue operado por segunda vez de urgencia debido a las heridas sufridas al ser apuñalado durante un acto de campaña.

El atacante es Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, preso in fraganti, y alojado en una cárcel de máxima seguridad federal de Mato Grosso do Sul. 

Las primeras averiguaciones policiales indicaron que actuó en solitario, pero curiosamente la investigación fue prorrogada por 15 días junto con presiones del bolsonarismo, que defiende la hipótesis de que la agresión fue obra de una organización política de izquierda. Nadie se sorprenderá si el preso acaba por confesar que actuó siguiendo órdenes de alguien ligado al PT o al propio Haddad. Si así fuera sería otro ejemplo de un supuesto microgolpe.

En el hospital de San Pablo funciona el comando de campaña de Bolsonaro frecuentado por sus hijos, que también son candidatos, por dipu-policías y militares de alto rango en retiro o actividad. El referente de la ultraderecha fue visitado recientemente por los generales Augusto Heleno y Santos Cruz. Si bien el capitán dejó el Ejército hace décadas, mantiene vivos sus vínculos informales con los militares. Así como la defensa de las  reivindicaciones corporativas de los uniformados (por ejemplo jubilaciones privilegiadas) y la exaltación de banderas históricas entre las que sobresalen la apología de la dictadura, a la que llaman “Revolución”, y la reivindicación del terrorismo de Estado.

En 2016 Bolsonaro, el diputado más votado de Río de Janeiro, se pronunció  por el derrocamiento de Dilma haciendo un homenaje a uno de los responsables de la represión, el fallecido coronel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, jefe de la policía política en San Pablo en los años 70.

Por todo lo anterior el aspirante presidencial puede ser considerado como exponente de una suerte de partido militar. Y al igual que algunos generales el candidato dejó entrever su respaldo a una salida militar si Haddad fuera el vencedor, alegando que está en marcha un “fraude” a través de las urnas presuntamente  controladas por petistas infiltrados. Por cierto es una afirmación desvinculada de la realidad pero seguramente  considerada verdadera por los millones de seguidores del capitán-candidato de discurso simplificador con resonancias evangélicas.

Estos arrebatos verbales operan como advertencias para intimidar a los electores indecisos o microgolpes para disciplinar a grupos de interés que en su hora celebraron la caída de Dilma y ahora se espantan ante el fenómeno político-militar-cultural encarnado en el bolsonarismo. Incluso sectores del mercado tradicionalmente fóbicos del PT estarían asimilando la posibilidad de una victoria de Haddad, al que ven como un político de centroizquierda permeable a ciertas  exigencias del poder financiero.

Tal vez esta hipotética admisión de una parte (no se sabe su tamaño) del mercado a la figura de Haddad ayude a explicar por qué la semana pasada el dólar acumuló una baja del 2,86 por ciento, la más pronunciada desde 2017. Este movimiento cambiario en ningún modo significa que la banca le bajó el pulgar a Bolsonaro. Todo indica que el candidato internado en San Pablo es el preferido del capital.

Sólo se trata de un dato que merece registro, al que se puede sumar la portada de la revista británica The Economist que catalogó a Bolsonaro como una “amenaza” para América Latina. Ese semanario liberal, posiblemente el más influyente entre los ejecutivos de multinacionales, en 2010 hizo una tapa dedicada al crecimiento económico del Brasil del último año del gobierno lulista con el Cristo Redentor de Río de Janeiro despegando del cerro Corcovado como si fuera un cohete.

martes, 18 de septiembre de 2018


Ayer las fuerzas armadas de Israel destruyeron un avión de reconocimiento electrónico ruso IL-20 con quince personas a bordo. El avión estaba por aterrizar en el aeropuerto de Latakia. Los rusos no respondieron lo que parece haber sido una clara provocación con el propósito encubierto de provocar una escalada en la región. Así lo cuenta el sitio web Moon of Alabama

Título: Syria - Israel Provocation Kills Russian Soldiers - Moscow Will Take Political Revenge

Texto: Yesterday Turkey and Russia agreed on a further de-escalation in Idelb province in Syria (see the update here). This agreement takes away the chance of an imminent wider war in which the U.S. and some of its allies would use a fake 'chemical attack' as a pretext to launch missiles against a large number of Syrian government targets and military positions.

A peaceful solution of the Idleb situation is unsatisfying for Israel. The successful Syrian defeat of the Jihadi enemy inside the country would allow Syria and its allies to concentrate their forces against Israel. Israel wants the Syrian government destroyed and the country in chaos.

On Sunday September 16 Israel hit an Iranian Boeing 747 fright plane at Damascus airport. The plane allegedly carried an Iranian copy of the Russian S-300 long range air defense System for the Syrian army.

On Monday around 10:00pm local time 4 F-16 jets of the Israeli airforce coming from the sea launched missiles against at least three targets on Syria's coast. The strike came only hours after Israel released satellite images of what it called "strategic targets" in Syria. The integrated Syrian and Russian air-defenses responded.

The Israeli air force had warned the Russian forces in Syria only one minute before the strike. A Russian IL-20 electronic warfare airplane (red line) was preparing to land at the Russian airport near Latakia just as the Israeli attack (blue) happened.

The IL-20 was hit 35 kilometers off the coast by a S-200 air-defense missile fired by the Syrian military towards the Israeli attack. There were 15 Russian soldiers on board of the plane which were likely all killed. Russian ships search for survivors. Some wreckage of the plane was found at sea 27 kilometers west of the village of Banias.

The Israeli attack came out of the same direction as the Russian IL-20. The large 4 propellor plane creates a much bigger radar reflection than the small F-16s fighter jets. The S-200 missiles have a semi-active radar homing seeker. These are passive detectors of a radar signal which is provided by an external (“offboard”) source, in this case the Syrian and Russian radars on the ground. The seeker mistook the large radar reflection of IL-20 for the intended target.

At the same time as the Israeli air force attacked, a Russian frigate (red) near the coast detected missile launches from the French Frigate Auvergne (blue) nearby. The French frigate carries air, ship and land attack missiles. France denied "any involvement in the incident."

The Russian Defense Ministry accuses the Israeli government of a deliberate set up:

"Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

After the Israeli attack the Syrian state TV showed the headquarter of the Technical Industries Agency near Latakia on fire. Other targets were near Jableh and Homs. At least ten people were wounded due to the attack.

The Russian military spokesman accused Israel of "hostile action" against Russian forces:

"We see these provocative actions of Israel as hostile," Konashenkov said, adding that 15 Russian servicemen were killed as a result of the "irresponsible actions" of Israel's Defense Forces, which violated "the spirit of the Israeli-Russian partnership."

According to the spokesman, the Russian Defense Ministry reserves the right to an "adequate response" following the Israeli attack.

Israel (and France?) are deliberately provoking the Syrian and Russian forces. It hopes for a response that allows it play the victim and to call on U.S. President Trump for help and protection. The help would come in the form of a U.S., British and French attack on the Syrian government and Syrian military targets.

Russia will certainly take revenge for the Israeli provocation, but will likely do so in the political arena. On Netanyahoo's personal request Russia had stopped the delivery of original Russian S-300 long range air-defense missiles to the Syrian military. In consequence a Iranian 747 was damaged and 15 Russian soldiers were killed. Netanyahoo can forget about any further such 'favors' from Moscow.