Published on the The Slog on August 21, 2016
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HM Sloop Brexit should be sailing the high seas in search of new trading links beyond the European Union and its dysfunctional currency, economic and fiscal policies. But if Theresa MayorMaynot (and the people she represents) get their way, the less than seaworthy sloop of salvation will stay in port, making only occasional day trips to Ostend. Eight macro events may yet foil the plan to sabotage Brexit, but none of them are going to emanate from the Mayflower crew.
When it comes to Brexit, things seem to be moving along very nicely. If you voted Remain, that is. In just 48 hours, it will be exactly two months since The Historic Shock Vote. This is the current state of play:
- The woman who acts as Commander in Chief is a Remaindeer. The man with his hands on the purse strings is a Remaindeer. The woman in charge of the security services is a Remaindeer who’s only been in the House for five years. She’s supposed to be working out a points system for immigrants in the light of Brexit. The Commander in chief keeps her in a pocket, under a thumb.
- The Brexiteers have been given the job of squabbling with each other. Thus far, Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davies are making a fine job of it. To ‘help’ him in his task of securing Brexit, Davies has been given a smaller office with fewer staff than anyone else in the Cabinet.
- Although it is of course far too early to tell, all the business, trade and employment data since Brexit has been positive; the EU – in stark contrast – faces major political, fiscal and trade crises in Spain, Italy and France respectively. In the light of this, the Pound is falling (what else?) just as all those holidaymakers go away and discover how expensive it is in the US and Europe.
- Every business medium around the world – with the honorable exception of the Wall Street Journal – continues to treat Brexit as a global economic disaster of inestimable proportions, despite the fact that a first year secondary school kid could do the maths to show that Japan, China and Italy are infinitely more dangerous and immediate problems.
- Theresa Queen of the Mayflower and her crew have pissed away 57 days during which the official Brexit process has moved forward not one millimetre. Both old and new media are full of trolls declaring Article 50 to be irrelevant, but that is not credible for one simple reason: there is no way a group of control freaks like the EC would have put it in the Lisbon Treaty if there was no point to it. More damning is the complete absence of any logical or halfway convincing reason why the application hasn’t been made. Brexit, after all, means Brexit. Well, so they keep saying anyway.
Either way, every time Cap’n Theresa signals to her fleet that Article 50 will probably be triggered around, oooh, March 2019, there’s a leak from the Brexiteers….and then the bumboys at the Telegraph are briefed to reassure the 52% (for we are the 52%) that actually no, it will be done before March 31st 2017. This, as you will know by now, is a date of no importance whatsoever – but nevertheless has an uncanny habit of turning up over and over again.
What’s going on?
Let’s rewind the tape to a Slogpost of January 11th this year, in which I wrote this:
I very rarely write statements as definitive as that, because too often they quickly become hostages to fortune. But it was based on sources in Brussels, Westminster and Washington and the information was solid: you will not be allowed to leave.
There was, I suspect, nothing wrong with the information – which two out of three sources described as ‘common knowledge’. Indeed, the Washington source insists that the emails of a certain H. Clinton do (or did) make reference to the facts as laid out before me.
The facts were right, but my interpretation was wrong. I was, to be frank, a bit thick about what they were driving at: I assumed electoral rigging.
Perhaps that was indeed considered, but then rejected as unecessary – I don’t know. Certainly, the result came as a bombshell in Whitehall, where absolutely zero work had been done on what to do if Cameron lost the Referendum.
However, Our Man in Brussels (not that senior, as I’ve said before) remains unshakeable. And in the last 72 hours, he has reaffirmed what he first told me at the turn of the year: “It will not be allowed to happen”.
Among the upper ranks of UKIP and Tory Leavers, there remains a fatalistic clarity about what will (or rather, won’t) happen now.
Pro-Brexit Tory leadership candidate Leadsom has been suitably scared off, and the Conservative grassroots denied their chance to vote for her. The Blair/Campbell PR axis is pulling out all the stops to get at best lukewarm Remain doubter Jeremy Corbyn ousted as Labour Leader, and corporate stooge Owen Smith installed as his replacement.
Meanwhile, the mini-sloop Brexit sits in dock with its anchor firmly attached to the bottom. And apart from the odd cruise trip designed to give the illusion of action, that is exactly where it will stay.
Unless, that is, one or more of the following events occur:
- Donald Trump becomes President of the US
- Marine Le Pen becomes President of France
- Deutsche Bank finally crashes
- The Italian banking system collapses
- A Japanese meltdown triggers a rates panic
- The Fed gives rates another hike in September
- The Dutch vote to leave the EU
- Brazil defaults on its debts.
As the Buddhists say, all things must pass, everything is connected, nothing lasts forever. I would venture to suggest that the Pieces of Eight above will sooner or later do for globalist neoliberalism and financialised capitalism. At which point, the EU will be swept away, and Brexit – along with Article 50 – will cease to be issues of any importance.
Published on The Doomstead Diner on July 10, 2016
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Prior to reading the screed below, I suggest watching the two videos above to get a better understanding of the whos, hows & whens of the founding of the European Union.
Old Nazis never die, they just go into economics.
The outcome of the Brexit Vote and its aftermath over the following week caused me to do something I don't do that often, which is to actually do some RESEARCH, rather than just shooting from the hip on what I think is going on just based on seat of the pants observations of history over the course of my lifetime. That lifetime is so far decently long by Homo Sap standards historically speaking, I'm moving up on 60 years walking the earth now. However, that only takes me back to 1957, and those first few years I was of course pretty oblivious to Global Politics, with these issues only beginning to hit my consciousness with the assassination of JFK when I was 6 years old.
I got a decent enough intro to politics and history from the POV of approved Western Academia and Pundits during my undergraduate years at Columbia University in their required 2 semester course in Contemporary Civilizations. Here you were required to read all the great works of people like Hume, Locke, Descartes, Machiavelli, Nietze, Aquinas, St. Augustine etc, etc, etc. I confess to NOT reading all their seminal books cover to cover during this period, and often relied on the Cliff Notes to prep up for the exams. lol. I was a SCIENCE major afterall, not a History major! In terms of budgeting my time for studying, it seemed more important back then to concentrate on biochemistry, mathematics and physics, the important topics for what I thought would be my future career. Also getting laid was a very important priority cutting into my study time. lol.
I did however gain at least a passing knowledge of the Western/European version of history as it was being passed out in Ivy League Universities back in the 1970s, which generally seemed to promote Democracy as the great end result of all this philosophical nonsense, although Machiavelli seemed to argue against that idea, and so did Nietze. Even so though, at the time I just didn't see a real close connection with current events of the day to ideas and shit that was published 200 or 300 or even 1000 years earlier, and stood the "test of time" as Great Works you needed to be familiar with in a good Liberal Arts Education.
Notably ABSENT from this seemingly endless parade of Great Works (and you had to read at least one of them a week AND write some kind of comprehensible paper based on the book) was anything that covered fairly RECENT history, like from around 1900-1970 at that time. The only things I knew about WWI and WWII came from Hollywood Movies, glorifying the exploits of CMH winning HEROES like Sargeant Alvin York in WWI (portrayed by Gary Cooper in Sgt. York) and Audie Murphy in WWII (portrayed by Audie Murphy himself in "To Hell & Back"). So it waited many years here before I began to get some clue as to what REALLY went on during this period.
Have you ever seen a more blatant piece of War Propaganda? Do you really think Audie Murphy was the Arnold Schwartzenneger/Bruce Willis/Sylvester Stallone Superrman Hollywood made hime out to be?
While I was floating along in blissful ignorance of this period for 40 years from 1970 to 2010 or so, there have been Historians going back into the records to look at who did what and when, and what sort of political outcomes and institutions we got out of that clusterfuck.
Among the most interesting outcomes of this to me now because of the ongoing clusterfuck in Europe in the aftermath of the Brexit is the founding of the European Union. Where did that piece of shit come from, who is responsible for it and what are the principles upon which this "Union" rests?
As it turns out, the EU was born in Nazi Germany even before the end of WWII. The principles and the constitution were all written prior to the supposed "defeat" of Fascism in Europe, and the folks who wrote this material also retained power long after the defeat of the Nazis on the military battlefield, well into the 1950s for this generation of Nazis. Mainly German & Belgian politicians. (see the above videos at the top of the article for the full list of scumbags)
The EU Constitution as it exists today is completely anti-democratic, and this can be observed by the fact they repeatedly ignore Referendums of the people themselves and consistently undermine both national sovereignty as well as some "Human Rights" Amerikans typically take for granted like Habeus Corpus, the right to Trial by Jury, and the legal principle of Innocent Until Proven Guilty.
First off, we KNOW that Prescott Bush, Father and Grandfather respectively to 2 of our post WWII POTUSes laundered money for the Nazi Party. By itself, their combined 16 year rule covers a nice chunk of the post-WWII period. We also KNOW that the Clintons are servants of the Bilderberg Group, they've been card carrying members of that bunch of Fascists since their days in Arkansas.
Really though, you don't need to know ANY of this History if you just observe the OUTCOMES over time here. Knowing the history does verify many aspects, but the progress has been right out there for everyone to witness over these years.
First of all, let us look at the end of WWII. The Big Demon himself Adolf Hitler committed Suicide with Ava Braun in the Berlin Bunker, and so like Osama Bin Ladin, the Big Demon was Dead. However, the Industrialists who funded Hitler needed to get rebuilt here, and with the exception of the IG Farben conglomerate being dissected up, all the industrialists in charge of the subsidiary companies remained in their positions, and with the exception of a few egregious scapegoats like Adolf Eichmann at the Nuremberg trials, the Elite in Germany post WWII was exactly the same as the Elite that signed up with Hitler and the 3rd Reich.
Here in the FSoA, we imported many of the Nazi Scientists like Werner Von Braun to help us develop more and better missiles with which to deliver the wonderful new War Toy of the Atomic Bomb. Werner is the same guy who developed the V-2 Rockets which rained down the Death From Above over London of course, but he was never held responsible for that.
In the words of Tom Lehrer…
Vonce da Rockets go UP
Who cares vere dey come DOWN
That's not my department
Says Werner Von Braun
So as you can see here, although we ostensibly defeated Nazi Germany in WWII, Nazism and Fascism never really died, it simply went under cover through politics & economics. The EU as an Economic Union was created by Industrialists, for Industrialists, and it was built up over decades of time, one increment at a time with the Final Goal the very same Pan-European Goobermint led by Germans that the Nazis had tried and failed to put together militarily, mostly because they foolishly took on the Ruskies at the same time they were trying to conquer Europe.
Fast forward to today, and what is truly remarkable here is that traditionally left wing websites and pundits SUPPORT the European Union, which is exactly the type of Fascist organization that they were battling AGAINST in the Spanish Civil War and then against Mussolini and Hitler in WWII following that. In fact the whole Brit Labor party is fracturing precisely because as a party they were pro-Bremain, but their chief Jeremy Corbyn was insufficiently enthusiastic about this choice.
Now, the argument made in favor of the European Union is that it brought Peace & Prosperity to Europe for 70 years since the end of WWII, which is probably the longest period of Peace that continent has had since the Dawn of Agriculture. How did they accomplish this mighty feat? By exporting War & Poverty to the 3rd World, that's how!
The European Union is the Political arm of Fascism in Europe, just as NATO is the Military arm of Fascism. Although the main Power Base for Fascism moved to Washington in the post-WWII years, NATO and the EU were created as a means for German Nazi Industrialists and Banksters to secure their hold over the continent, supported by FSoA Nazis like the Bush family. In both locations in the post-WWII years, both Europe and the FSoA experienced an unprecedented level of prosperity, but this was accomplished by the progressive rape of resources from South America, Africa and the Middle East. About the only folks who did not get their resources raped at least at the beginning were the Ruskies and the Chinese.
To keep from being raped, the Ruskies went step for step in military buildup with NATO, the EU and the FSoA in the "Cold War", but sadly for them their credit card limit wasn't as high, eventually bankrupting them. Francis Fukuyama took this opportunity to declare this the "End of History", with the FSoA and its Allies the big winners here after thousands of years of warfare.
The Chinese took another tactic, instead of letting the West rape them or attempting to go toe to toe militarily, they raped themselves! In cooperation with the international industrialists, they turned China into the world's foremost industrial sewer, bred up a generation of one child policy slaves and worked up a huge stash of UST worthless toilet paper in return for this self-sacrifice.
In the course of this post war history, one political system got completely wiped off the map in political discourse, FASCISM. There were no more Fascist Goobermints ANYWHERE! Fascism was DEFEATED! All that was left for a while were Evil COMMUNISTS! After the Soviet Union imploded and the Chinese turned into Slaves, there were no more Political Systems left to vanquish.
However, what was the victorious Political System? Well see, Fascism/Nazism earned a real bad Brand Name as a result of WWII, so what we have is not called Fascism, it has been Re-Branded. Now it comes under the Brand Names of Neo-Liberalism and Neo-Conservatism, which basically are one in the same thing. You also see all sorts of rebranding of "Capitalism", attempting to distinguish "good" Capitalism from "bad" Capitalism. "Free Market" Capitalism = Good, Crony Capitalism & Corporatism = Bad. With no good Communist states to bash now also, "Socialism" has become the newest Punching Bag, and the whole current failure here is being blamed not on the Fascism we have been living under since WWII, no it's Socialism that is responsible for this! lol.
Another big problem with Fascism is that people seem to have a real hard time with defining what Fascism actually is in practice. Most people tend to associate it with virulent racism and xenophobia, not as an economic system which enriches the few at the expense of the many. In truth, it is basically the mirror image of Communism, a reverse Robin Hood system of steal from the poor to give to the rich. This is precisely what has occured over the years since WWII ended.
For the first few years of this, inside the FSoA and Europe, this did not seem to be the case. Most people in these countries (with the notable exception of the underclasses like Blacks in Amerika) experienced a rising standard of living, and were sold also that everyone around the world was being "lifted out of poverty". On the latter, this just was one BIG LIE. Sure more people got electric lights and other gizmos, but huge gaps developed in the 3rd world between Haves and Have Nots. Huge Slums developed in places like Rio De Janeiro Brazil, Calcutta India and Lagos Nigeria. Enormous slums like these never existed before, people lived out in the countryside doing subsistence farming. By "modern" Western standards they were rural poor yes, but at least they could feed themselves and at least they weren't packed like rats into congested slums. This was NOT an improvement of standard of living for these folks, even though the GDP figures for Brazil or India or Nigeria appeared to be going up over the period.
So here in the FSoA and over in Europe, a generation of people including myself grew up in ignorant bliss, believing many falsehoods that were regurgitated over and over in our schools and across the media. We were taught to believe that our armies were protecting our Democracy, when what they were really doing is protecting Corporate profits. In the words of Gen. Smedley Butler..
How many of you ever even HEARD of Smedley Butler in any HS or College History class? I never did, and I went to really top level schools! I only found out about Smedley Butler during my last decade researching the roots of collapse. Smedley was likely the greatest HERO we have ever had in the FSoA, he actually stood tall against the Banksters when he got it all figured out.
Then of course there was the material written about both the Bilderbergers and the Tri-Lateral Commission in the 1960s & 1970s. Carroll Quigley published his seminal work "Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in our Time" in 1966, and laid out explicitly what was going on behind the scenes, but was this ever recommended reading in any of your History classes? It never got on any of my reading lists, although certainly there was endless material there to read from people who had been dead for over 200 years. You were kept so occupied reading all this old shit, none of the material really IMPORTANT to understanding what was going on ever got discussed.
So for 99.99% of the population both in the FSoA and Eurotrashland, we were all completely unaware of the Triumph of Fascism in WWII, and sold on the idea we lived in a "Democracy". What the Fascist Elite had learned was that as long as you put up the Window Dressing of Democracy but controlled the Marionettes running for office, you could get whatever you wanted enacted into law. It never mattered which political party was in "power", Tory or Labor, Republican or Democrat. As long as the money and bennies were flowing pretty freely through Western society, Joe Six Pack in the FSoA and Francoise Cheap Wine in France were happy to believe everything was getting better for everybody! More cool electronics coming out all the time. COLOR Televisions! Muscle Cars! Transistor Radios! Walkmans! Personal Computers! For a while there, it was a new toy every week coming out of Japan! And like everyone else, I just HAD to have one of these new toys every time they got issued out. To live was to buy & consume.
Meanwhile though, the War and Rape of the earth necessary to produce all those toys never stopped. We had Korea and then Vietnam, which incidentally started as a French Colonial War, the FSoA just took it over after the Frogs ran out of gas. Wars in the Middle East also non stop through the period, you had Israel-Egypt in the 60s right through to Desert Storm and now the War on Terror, which is undefined in location or country, but exists everywhere and is a danger to all good Westerners everywhere too, so be afraid, be VERY AFRAID.
Upping the FEAR level and upping the military engagements overseas through the Bush-Obama period kept the economy rolling in the west. The Huge Debts generated by the non-stop war translates to more money flowing through the economy, because in this economic system, DEBT=MONEY! It works too, until you reach an inflection point and the resources you can acquire through war are less than the cost of the war, and this has been the case for at least the last decade, although possibly longer than that.
The result of this is increasing economic difficulty, both in the nations that are being bombed and the nations doing the bombing. In fits and starts, the total economy is contracting, and that is making funding all the social welfare programs more difficult, and racking up enormous debts as countries working under the system attempt to maintain the standard of living they enjoyed while it all was going swimmingly well. One by one, they all fall off the cliff, and Failed States pop up all over the globe like Mushrooms in Kennet Square PA on a damp morning.
In the First World countries, this problem is now manifesting itself as Political Lockup. It is not just the Tories & Labor in the UK and the Repugnants-Democreeps in the FSoA that are split and can't gain a controlling majority, this is true in MANY of these Nation-States now. Oz has this problem, so does Spain, so does Austria, and I suspect just about any country that holds a "Democratic" election nowadays will experience the same phenomenon. There is a polarization in the populations, no party can present a workable solution to the problems faced and so "Democracy" fails this way. Because if no Democratically elected Goobermint can solve the problems, some other form of Goobermint crops up.
What we hear now from some intellectuals in the Elite is that the People have to be saved from themselves, if they can't make the "right" decisions, then it is up to the Elite to make the decision FOR them. Which of course, getting back to the European Union, is precisely what this organization is designed to do! A Goobermint of Nazis, by Nazis and for Nazis. According to James Traub, it is time for the Elites to RISE UP against the Ignorant Masses!
Did I say “ignorant”? Yes, I did. It is necessary to say that people are deluded and that the task of leadership is to un-delude them.
Sadly of course, Nazi-lites like Traub don't have a conventionally palatable solution to resource depletion and population overshoot either, but they could of course resurrect their old "Final Solution". Death Camps are not something Nazis advertise, even the old Nazis didn't call Auschwitz a "Death Camp", it was a "Work Camp". What about today's Nazis? Are they running Death Camps? Yes they are, and in Plain Sight too and on a much bigger scale!
Today, entire countries are being turned into Death Camps. Turkey is the largest one, but Greece is quickly catching up. They aren't called Death Camps of course, they are called "Refugee Welcome Centers". They don't have Gas Chambers & Ovens that we know of as of yet, but are those really necessary? The conditions in these Welcome Centers are atrocious. Malnutrition and Disease will do the killing job just as well as Zyclon-B did for IG Farben given just a bit of time to get rolling. Doctors Without Borders has already reported that the Death Rate in some of the African Refugee Camps is already horrendously high, as many as 5 children/day reported in Sudan in 2012 and likely higher now.
AUGUST 2, 2012—Sudanese refugees living in appalling conditions in camps in South Sudan are falling ill and dying at rates alarmingly above accepted international standards for emergencies, the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned today.
Epidemiological data gathered by MSF in refugee camps in South Sudan reveal an average of five children dying per day in Yida camp in Unity State, home to 55,000 refugees. One in three children was found to be malnourished in Batil camp in Upper Nile State, where MSF is treating 1,200 severely malnourished children. Flooded terrain and inadequate sanitation are the main contributors to the devastating health conditions, MSF said.
“The number of children dying in Yida camp is appalling, and the high number of children in our feeding program in Batil camp is just the tip of the iceberg,” said André Heller-Pérache, MSF head of mission. “The majority of patients in both camps are malnourished children, who are further weakened from diarrhea, malaria, or respiratory infections, and quickly enter a vicious circle of illness leading to further complications and death. Our medical teams are working round the clock in desperate conditions trying to save lives.”
How long before the Death Rate in the Turkish and Greek Refugee Camps reaches these levels? Or is it already there? We'll never know the truth of this until long after the fact, just as the general German population did not know the truth of Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen & Auschwitz until after WWII, and that was only because they lost the War. Had they been victorious in that war, this history never would have been written. The victors write the history of course.
So then why did the Closet Nazis who founded the European Union allow the History of the Holocaust to be written? Because in the aftermath of the War first off too many people who survived came out to tell the story, and second because Demonization was necessary to assuage public guilt, and Scapegoats were chosen as sacrifices to the cause. The Nuremberg Trials were held, a big 22 people were tried and 12 were sentenced to Death. Do you really think only 22 people were responsible for the death of MILLIONS of people? Only 12 of them deserved to die? There was a whole organization here with minimum 1000's directly involved in the operation with full knowledge of what was ongoing.
Despite the fact it could not be hidden in the aftermath of the War, whitewashing of the event has persisted over the years, to the point there are entire websites devoted to the idea it never happened at all!
I do think most people today accept that the Holocaust did in fact occur, but they also tend to believe such a thing could NEVER AGAIN happen. People in the Western world don't believe their leadership is as sick & corrupt as the Nazis of the 1930s-40s, nor do they believe their leadership is as sick & corrupt as the many Dictatorships and Puppet Goobermints we have supported over the years, including such notables as the Shah of Iran, Muammar el-Khadafi and the entire House of Saud. However, it takes one to know one, and all the evidence is there to show that the leadership of the FSoA and the EU is AT LEAST as sick & corrupt as all of those, if not more so by an order of magnitude. This level of corruption is becoming increasingly more exposed, and it is one of the things motivating the Brexit Vote, along with the current polarization in many other Western Goobermints.
For most people in the West, accepting that you live inside the Belly of the Nazi Beast is pretty hard if not impossible. So no matter how much evidence you present, how much history and scholarship on the topic you dig up, they just won't believe it. "WE" are always the GOOD GUYS! "THEY" are the BAD GUYS!
In this case in this iteration it's not the Kikes who are the Bad Guys, or the Nips or the Krauts. This time round, it is the Towel Heads who are being Demonized. Forget the pronouncements of The Donald here, just cruise the commentariat of numerous websites to get a feel for the zeitgeist going down here. Muslims are all portrayed by many people in the commentariats as sub-human ANIMALS! Often with the coda they are in need of EXTERMINATION and we should "Nuke 'em till they GLOW" and Glaze over the entire Middle East with the full arsenal of Nukes the FSoA totes around the world on Submarines and Aircraft Carriers as the Big Swinging Military Dick on the Planet. This is the "Final Solution" proposed by the modern Nazis if the Towel Heads don't die off fast enough in the Refugee Welcome Centers.
If you don't believe modern Nazis are ALIVE & WELL, just look at Ukraine. Just look at The Donald. Just look at the EU and its History and current actions. Just READ the fucking internet. They are here alright, in FORCE. THEY LIVE!
THE BOYS & GIRLS FROM BRAZIL ARE BACK!
Originally published in Sputnik on June 30, 2016
All political hell is breaking loose in the UK. The Prime Minister is no more – a post-modern version of Monty Python’s Dead Parrot Sketch.
A nasty, stiff upper lip Tory battle for power is mirrored by a Labor insurgency; that, in itself, would warrant a brand new Python sketch. The general level of “debate” is ghastly. In parallel, British establishment icons want Brexit to be simply ignored (“unlawful”, “illegal”) or remixed, so the unwashed (white working class) masses will be forced to vote the right way.
An army of lawyers told the House of Lords that yes, Britain should change its mind, albeit with “substantial political consequences”. As the British establishment reasons the EU, after all, does have vast experience on the matter. Denmark voted against Mastricht in 1992, Ireland voted against both the Nice treaty in 2001 and the Lisbon treaty in 2008. The EU trampled them all.
For its part, the EU seems to be exhibiting a united front. Out is out. And preferably, fast. Brussels is practically forcing London to get a move on so an embattled EU can get to work to – in theory – get its own act together.
Eurocrats, off the record, stress that even “fast” won’t be fast enough – because London has been self-marginalizing itself for two decades now. At the same time they expect that the more the disastrous consequences of Brexit are self-evident, the more reasonable Brits will be.
The official narrative now emanates from the new power troika – German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Countless Europeans would flinch at buying a second-hand Fiat from these people. But still, they’re the new troika, and their message is clear. Article 50 invoked as soon as possible; no negotiation without notification; discussing our future relationship, fine, but only after you formally ask for a divorce.
Welcome to the remixed EU
Into this toxic environment steps in – surprise! – US Secretary of State John Kerry. Brexit can even be “walked back”, he volunteers – in a Dead Brexit Walking way. Apparently Kerry was very impressed that David Cameron told him, this past Monday in Downing Street, that he would never invoke Article 50 and was powerless to “start negotiating a thing that he doesn’t believe in”.
Kerry is sure there are a “number of ways” his Dead Brexit Walking scenario would work. Naturally he can’t admit in public what terrifies the lame duck Obama administration. It has nothing to do with the UK going to the “back of the queue” – White House terminology – to renegotiate a trade deal with the US.
This is all about no more American Trojan Horse in Brussels. No more TTIP. Germany and France making all big European decisions without a Five Eyes looking in. No wonder Exceptionalist shills immediately started spinning that the only solution for Brexit is more NATO and its corollary: further demonization of Russia.
Occult by all these machinations is the stark fact that the sole purpose of NATO now – apart from losing wars in Central Asia and destroying nations in Northern Africa — is to perpetuate the military occupation of Europe. And for that, NATO badly relies on anti-Russia hysteria.
At least there is movement in other fronts. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is already exploring a way out, as in a negotiation offering an “associate” membership for the UK. In fact this is the current status quo; the UK is not part of the euro or part of Schengen. The core issue, for Britain, is access to the single market. And that, as far as Brussels is concerned, will never be a case of “you can get your tea and scones and eat them too.” You’ll only do it if you accept EU immigration.
Venturing into uncharted territory, with perfect timing, irrupts the leaked road map for a remixed EU, conceived by a Franco-German duo of Foreign Ministers, Jean-Marc Ayrault and Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The Franco-German vision, predictably, privileges security, immigration and the euro, with an emphasis on economic growth. They want even “more Europe” (something the Brits would never agree with); Defense and Foreign Policy closely intertwined; and a unified European army (imagine the serial heart attacks in the Beltway).
They want total European coordination – from intelligence to incarceration – to fight terrorism, as well as integrated surveillance of Fortress Europe’s borders.
They even venture into a project for “stabilization, development and reconstruction” of Syria (before that someone must tell the CIA and the Pentagon to stop sluggin’ it out on what “moderate rebels” to weaponize).
In the “follow the money” department, the Franco-German duo want the same fiscal policies for everybody, “convergence of national budgets” (good luck with that) and a European Assembly to control monetary policy. Now try selling all that to a true “Europe of the peoples”.
And what about China?
Then there’s the giant panda in the (collapsing) European room: China. Beijing is still carefully analyzing the current political circus in London and Brussels before adjusting its strategy.
There’s no question London, so far, was the privileged Chinese gateway to the EU – as well as a top offshore trading hub for the yuan. Beijing was also counting on London to facilitate achieving market economy status, which would immediately translate into even more Chinese exports to Europe, all this closely connected with the New Silk Roads. Last but not least, the UK – much to the displeasure of the “special relationship” — is a founder member of the China-driven Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
London, for its part, was beaming with the prospect of solidifying itself as China’s gateway to Europe while securing torrents of investment – a Chinese-style “win-win”.
So far though, nothing changes. Take, for instance, telecom equipment giant Huawei still betting on Britain.
China-UK was hailed last year as a “golden relationship”. But as UK banks and financial services contemplate moving to the EU post-Brexit (HSBC, for instance, already announced that 1,000 jobs are moving to Paris), the real story is that China can start contemplating further “win-win” scenarios also with Paris, Frankfurt and Milan. As a backup, there’ll always be that Dead Brexit Walking. And if it turns out “unlawful”, “illegal” Brexit goes out to meet its maker, everything will be “golden” again.
Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) "Empire of Chaos" (2014),and "2030" (2015), all published by Nimble Books.
Published on The Doomstead Diner on June 26, 2016
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Brexit Discussion with Jason Heppenstall, Monsta & RE
The carnage across the markets and the political hornet's nest unleashed on Friday after the Brexit Vote came in with a LEAVE result has been truly amazing to behold, and this is only on Day 1.
We can be sure the Central Banks have been working furiously over the weekend to get a strategy for calming the markets on Monday, which undoubtedly will amount to huge injections of liquidity to keep any of the large systemic banks from locking up. However, there is so much PANIC right now through all sectors in all markets it's hard to imagine how they can plug all the leaks here.
HERE THEY COME TO SELL 'EM AGAIN!
For the crowd supporting Brexit, there is some initial Blowback which nobody predicted, which is that on the heels of this it Split the UK itself, with Scotland and Ireland in favor of Bremain, while Britain and Wales voted Brexit. So now Scotland and Ireland are talking about holding their own Referendums on leaving the UK so they can stay part of the EU. Scotland already held one of these referendums last year where the Leave camp lost, but with this latest change probably would sswing a new referendum the other way. Ireland is a really peculiar example here of how confused things are, because way back when they actually voted AGAINST joining the EU initially, but then the thunbscrews were put on them and in a revote were persuaded to join. “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again to get the voting result you want”.
Speaking from this POV, Paul Craig Roberts doesn't think the Leave Vote will stand up, with Brussels and the IMF, World Bank etc again putting the thumbscrews down to either force a new vote or to force Parliament to go against the vote of the people and Bremain anyhow. The Referendum is supposedly “non-binding”, and in order to be enacted into Law, Parliament has to send a Letter or at least make an Official Statement invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
Even after such an “official” declaration by Da Goobermint, the negotiations to unwind this marriage have a timeline of 2 years. That is a LOT of time for still more SHTF in both the UK and in the EU as a whole.
Far as the Brit Pols and the Eurocrat Clowns & Jokers are concerned, you have 2 opposing camps on this part of the debate also. Current Prime Minister David Cameron is stepping down, but not for another 3 months. As a Bremain supporter, he doesn't think he is the Man for the Job of negotiating a Brexit, which is about the first true thing I have heard out of the mouth of a politician in a long time. Kudos to DC for that. However, DC was also the person who actually suggested a Referendum, confident at the time I suppose that Brexit was a laughable idea and would be soundly defeated.
Unfortunately in the interim, the Refugee Crisis escalated out of control and the EU Clowns & Jokers have proved ever increasingly ineffective, anti-democratic and just plain stupid. Any credibility they may have once had has long since been lost. Really NOBODY in the entire EU except the Political Class beholden to Brussels can STAND these people, or being under their thumb economically, and as a result politically as well. You don't bow to the will of Brussels, they make your life miserable. See the Greeks for this, who after a brief and fairly impotent attempt at getting some kind of reasonable deal on their small mountain of debt totally capitulated to their Masters in Brussels.
The Brits (and Welsh, Scots & Irish) are in a slightly better position than the Greeks were. First off, when they joined the EU they never gave up their own currency of Sterling. So they can still print their own money. Second, the UK is home to the City of London, one of the largest financial centers in the world, exceeded only perhaps by Wall Street. This bollixes up all their operations, and while maybe they can move to Frankfurt or Brussels itself over some period of time, that would be an extremely expensive and difficult move to make. Thus you get still further turmoil in the financial markets during this period.
In any event, the EU Clowns are pushing the Brits to Invoke Article 50 IMMEDIATELY, to get on with this divorce! "Let's get it OVAH with here already! We HATE each other and we don't want to sleep together anymore! The Marriage is OVAH!"
The Brits on the other hand are shuffling their feet here on this, as mentioned Cameron won't send this letter and is stepping down to let some other Pol do the dirty work. From the Brexit side, they are in no rush either to carry through with the Referendum Results, especially given the already nasty fallout from the first day! They want to now use this to try to negotiate a better deal with the Euroclowns, but like the Greeks before them they don't REALLY want to leave the EU.
Problem on this of course is that at least by EU standards, the Brits ALREADY had the best deal, they got to keep their currency but ALSO had access to the Eurozone trading market with low or no tariffs, etc. The Euroclowns don't want to negotiate a STILL BETTER deal with them, since of course directly after that everybody will be clamoring for the same deal.
Which now brings us to another perhaps even larger problem than Brexit (which certainly is a big enough problem on its own!), which is the fact that in just about all the countries in the Eurozone, there are simmering Populist Movements that want OUT, extant even before the Brexit Vote.
Podemos in Spain under Pablo Iglesias wants Out. 5 Star in Italy under Beppe Grillo wants Out. The National Front under Marine LePen in France wants Out. The Party for Freedom in the Netherlands under Geert Wilders wants Out. Just about every country on the Balkan Migration Route of the MENA Refugees does NOT want Brussels dictating to them precisely how many Refugees they should or should not give Asylum to. This includes places like Austria, Hungary, Croatia etc. So Brussels is under a LOT of political pressure here, and in the medium to long run simply will not hold together as a union. That does not mean though that in the near term they will not use all tools at their disposal to keep this Ponzi afloat, they most certainly will do that. Everything depends on this, the solvency of the banking system leading the way on this.
Next week certainly will have a lot of Market Turmoil as all the Big Players try to reposition themselves in the aftermath of the initial carnage. How well the Central Banks can contain this and prevent Financial Contagion from spreading throughout the entire system is an Open Question. Interest Rate tools are pretty much shot since they are at ZIRP or NIRP all through the bond market. Ouright monetization of debt would destroy whatever is left of credibility here, and beyond that there still is no mechanism to deliver freshly printed money to the consumers who spend that money. Without that, you have no flow of funds, velocity of money drops to zero and it does not matter how much you print.
To sum it up, this would be a good time to load up on preps.
Migrants wait to board buses to take them onwards to the train station, from the border crossing in Nickelsdorf, Austria.
© Srdjan Zivulovic / Reuters
Originally published in RT on April12, 2016
Citizens of the EU – as in vibrant civil society manifesting in an array of nations – are increasingly keen on ditching the political EU, whose only functioning trait remains its status as a giant market.
The rest is chaos: The euro is now synonymous with massive unemployment; Europeans aged 18-34 qualifying themselves as a “lost” or at least “sacrificed” generation; European “values” diluted by the rise of the populist extreme-right; “pacifism” transmuted into hot and cold war – from Syria to Russia; and European cities, from Paris to Brussels, under Salafi-jihadi assault.
Call it Walking Dead Europe
Walking Dead Europe manifests itself in myriad ways – from a “No” to a referendum in the Netherlands to the creeping possibility of Brexit. Now add to this the ultimate insult a stark fact: What could the EU possibly offer to the world as a vision when it subcontracts the security gates of Fortress Europe to the wily, carpet-dealing antics of Turkey’s Sultan Erdogan?
Even avowed Europeanists such as Le Monde – a former great newspaper turned Empire of Chaos-cheerleading rag – are now distilling long essays about the malaise.
As much as the fascination with declining empires may still hold sway (it’s so chic to digress about it, Death in Venice-style, sipping Cristal and eating Iranian caviar), seasoned veterans at the European Commission (EU) in Brussels cannot but avow their perplexity when confronted to the EU machine’s death wish.
It’s always easy to forget that the EU project was born in May 1950 as a common market; common coal and steel rendering impossible a new war between France and Germany, everything guaranteed by the American protector. This de facto American security protectorate implied NATO, from the start, was the real deal – much more than the budding mini-EU expanding under the aegis of Pax Americana and the largely manufactured fear implicit in the Cold War.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the EU incrementally opened its doors to virtually every European newcomer. The official spin was the dissemination of “peace” and those Enlightenment “values”. In practice, it meant NATO expansion coupled with zillions of euros to “rebuild” and “modernize” mostly Eastern Europe.
The expansion dementia even reached Turkey and Ukraine – everything micromanaged under NATO’s Mob-style protection racket, of course, which now imposes the official Brussels narrative that the New Cold War was launched by“Russian aggression”.
And what about those “values”? Germany has just demonstrated, instructively, how they now lie in a funeral pyre – as Chancellor Merkel first opened the doors to the refugee flood unleashed by Ankara just to abruptly close it by de facto killing the right of political asylum.
Cynics are right to argue whether this is in any way any different from Donald Trump and his Wall of Mexico.
Hop on the Thalys to doom
The enlightened debate – say, in Brussels, Berlin and Paris – is whether the Brussels supranational institutions have been rendered terminally inefficient by unruly nation-states. Yet the next minute blame is apportioned en masse to the Eastern Europeans – especially Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – and their practice of “illiberal democracy”. Wealthy liberal Western Europe is of course spared.
A practical consequence of this logic, sooner rather than later, would be Berlin deciding to curb aid to Eastern Europe; 15 billion euros a year for Poland alone.
What Eastern Europeans know for sure is that they’d rather go down, but the last thing they want is to leave the EU. In the Polish case, for instance, it would be unrivaled masochism to want to be immolated in a rack controlled, on each side, by historical enemies Germany and Russia.
So the dream of a federal Europe may be dead; what is the EU good for, apart from allowing a proliferation of EasyJets to Club Med destinations? It’s true that the system of production in Europe is now too integrated; unraveling it would be immensely costly. Every morning the Thalys trains from Paris continue to be crammed with players who come to do business with the EC. Yet even if the EU survives – two-speed, even three-speed – the euro is a different proposition. If the euro collapses the common market would be destroyed.
According to the Maastricht Treaty, every member-nation pledged to police its own finances. It’s not exactly what happened. Now the EU is trying Maastricht upside down – from a creaky banking union to the European Central Bank (ECB) addicted to “massive interventions”.
Sharp minds in Brussels admit the euro is on a Catch 22. Without a federal budget, and without “massive aid” from more flush members, austerity – not diamonds – is forever; and the victims will always be the poorest members. So even as Europe cannot get rid of the euro – European banks would be incapable of setting up a rational dissolution – the only way out, that is, further integration, is paralyzed.
Sleepwalking to mediocrity
The tragic Greek financial crisis demonstrated that the troika could impose what amounted to welfare and education“reforms” with absolute impunity over a sovereign state. That represented, in practice, some form of “integration” – but always under the aegis of the troika’s “enlightened” despotism. In consequence, Brussels could not but lose even more of its political legitimacy.
Sharp minds at the EC, off the record, admit that the battle over Europe will be, in fact, juridical. The EC is now immersed in a Dadaist make-believe exercise of convincing everyone the Schengen rules still apply. Even if they don't. Even if there’s no free circulation inside Schengen anymore. Even if Hungary and Slovakia, for instance, directly contested the decision by the Council of Europe dividing migrants among member states.
And further trouble looms ahead if Germany decides against further eurozone integration in case the German taxpayer must carry an“out of proportion” burden.
Former European commissioner Pascal Lamy is among those deeply vexed by the EU’s loss of influence, the erosion of those prized“values”, the loss of identity face to face with Americans, Russians and Chinese.
Well, for the War Party in the Beltway, Europe is irrelevant anyway; a sweet and pliable Venus unable to influence Mars. As for the Russians and Chinese – now embarked in a strategic partnership – what matters is to do plenty of good business with Europe, assuming Europeans still know how to identify a win-win. Usually they can’t because of many reasons, including ideological myopia, mediocrity and/or plain stupidity displayed by the EU’s political leadership.
What lies ahead is not pretty. There is an element of The Sleepwalkers – Christopher Clark’s masterful account of how Europe marched to war in 1914. But mostly, a low-budget American show gave away the game. This is Walking Dead Europe.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
Published on the 22 Billion Energy Slaves on February 22, 2016
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It’s getting harder all the time to distract oneself from how threadbare the fabric of our societies is becoming. No matter how much you avert your eyes it is all but impossible not to notice things unravelling around you. This is happening on every level, from the local to the international, manifesting itself in a multitude of ways. Just as a fractal pattern has both the macrocosm in the microcosm, and the microcosm in the macrocosm, we are seeing signs of collapse small and large all around us.
Europa, in classical Greek mythology, was this Phoenician princess babe that drove lusty Zeus absolutely bonkers.
A trickster par excellence, Zeus turned into a white bull, lured Europa into riding him, and before she could escape, dove into the Aegean Sea and carried her off to Crete. The product of their inevitable lovemaking was King Minos. So keep in mind that Europa is the Minotaur’s step-grandmother (more on the Minotaur in a minute.)
Prolific lover that he was, Zeus in the end always came back to his wife, Hera. But this time, not before bestowing selected gifts upon Europa. One of these gifts was Laelaps, a hound that never missed his prey. Then, one day, fate ruled that Laelaps should go after the Teumessian fox – which according to divine design should never be caught.
Imagine Zeus’s predicament. After racking his divine brain, Zeus finally found an easy way out; he turned them both into stone and cast them into the night sky.
We can always draw on the psychedelic bacchanalia of classical Greek mythology to find graphic illustrations to the turmoil of our times. Imagine, for instance, Europa’s elite – Mario Draghi and co. – racking their brains in Laelaps meets Teumessian mode trying to solve the eurozone riddle.
And imagine as well a new Minotaur eating modern Europa’s newborn sons and daughters.
Now to a new tale in the heart of Europa.
Seven months after resigning as the finance minister of Greece, self-described “erratic Marxist” Yanis Varoufakis is resurfacing (out of the Aegean Sea?) with a bang.
This past Tuesday, at the Volksbühne Theater in Berlin, Varoufakis launched a new project: the DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement 2025), whose aim is to ultimately transfer power from Europa’s unaccountable, fiercely authoritarian elite and distribute it – fairly – among European citizens.
Greek myth? Why not? And exactly when Europa badly needs a new foundation myth. Varoufakis bets that the movement will eventually reach a “basic consensus” on what to do to really introduce democratic practices into how the European behemoth is run. And then, onwards to parliamentary democracy, via elections.
The diagnostic by Varoufakis would resonate among every sound minded EU citizen. It features unaccountable European elites; “big finance” and “big industry” forming the “unholy cartel” that is the “main driver of EU policy”; the European Central Bank (ECB) propping up the “cartel” by printing money like there’s no tomorrow through quantitative easing (QE); Italy as the new Greece, suffocated by its debt repayments; the fallacy of the theoretically apolitical ECB controlling interest rates across vastly disparate countries; and the Mafia behavior of the Eurogroup (comprising the 19 finance ministers of eurozone members).
Not surprisingly, the fallacy of this “model” of running the eurozone has produced devastating unemployment and facilitated the rise and rise and rise of the extreme right.
The concept of DiEM25 is inspired by what people across Europe should have done in the 1930s, before the ascension of Nazism and fascism; a pan-European, trans-political democratic movement. Varoufakis identifies all the toxic trends of the 1930s in the current, abysmal turmoil engulfing Europa.
He wants DiEM25 to be more than “just a think-tank and… an internet community”.
At the same time he’d like the movement to be essentially leaderless. And there’s the rub; Europa may not need heroes, but as it stands it definitely needs true leaders.
Chairperson of the German party 'Die Linke' Katja Kipping listens to Greek former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis during an event to mark the official launch of the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM) in Berlin on February 9, 2016. © AFP Photo
Meet the new Minotaur
Considering the current intellectual void all across Europa, Varoufakis at least is shaking up the torpor. Everything one needs to know about the deep causes of the 2008 global financial crisis has been dissected in his seminal book The Global Minotaur (Zed Books; check out the updated 2013 edition.)
The Minotaur metaphor is indispensable to understand the “model” – defined as “controlled disintegration of the world economy” – imposed upon the whole planet by former chairman of the Fed, Paul Volcker. Starting in the go-go 1980s, this “chaotic, yet strangely controlled flux,” as Varoufakis defines it, translated into foreign investors sending billions of US dollars to Wall Street every day, thus financing the US’s twin deficits – and feeding the Global Minotaur.
So we’re back, once again, to Greek classical mythology. King Minos of Crete asked Poseidon for a bull as a sign of divine endorsement. He promised Poseidon he would sacrifice the bull in the god’s honor. Yet he didn’t. Punishment, thus, was inevitable.
Talk about creative punishment. The gods, using Aphrodite’s expert qualifications, had Minos’s wife, Queen Pasiphae, fall madly in love/lust with the bull. Using various props built by the legendary engineer Dedalus, the queen managed to get pregnant. The product was the Minotaur: half human, half bull.
When the Minotaur became huge and uncontrollable, Minos told Dedalus to build a labyrinth. The only way to appease the Minotaur in his labyrinth was to offer human flesh. And here we get into Minos from Crete getting his revenge on Athens; King Aegeus of Athens had killed Minos’s son after he won all the contests at the Pan-Athenian games. So after a brief war with Athens, Aegeus was forced to send seven young boys and seven unwed girls to be devoured by the Minotaur every year.
This – in myth – was the set up for a regular foreign tribute that kept the Minotaur well fed. Nowadays, or until 2008, this was the set up of Pax Americana. But unlike the myth, where Theseus – the son of Aegeus – eventually slaughtered the Minotaur, what doomed the new monster were the lowly subprime racket and a tsunami of CDOs and CDSs.
Varoufakis could not but be attracted to a remix of the Minotaur metaphor; a periodic one-sided tribute – in US dollars – from the whole planet enabling the hegemonic ‘Exceptionalists’ to project power across the seas. This Minotaur is now dying, the world is still encumbered with its rotting carcass, and no one knows what beast is to rise next.
For now, it’s time to fight another, lesser Minotaur; a monster devouring its step-grandmother Europa’s children by autocracy, austerity, unemployment and fear. And once again, it takes a Greek, not a hero by any means, to show Europeans the way.
Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
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Our discussion with Norman Pagett and Jason Heppenstall on issues focused on the UK as the collapse of industrial civilization progresses
Also, don't forget to take the Energy Survey! We are going to hold it open an extra week because links to the survey were broken when I launched the Survey. They have since been fixed.
Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 10, 2015
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The Refugee Crisis has been "Topic of the Week" in the Collapse Doom-o-sphere. Everybody's Talkin' about what to DO about this growing problem, with few plausible solutions being offered up anywhere, be it on the Blogs or from the Political class running the show here. From Zero Hedge to Donald Trump, from Jim Kunstler to Nazis in Hungary and the Czech Republic, EVERYBODY'S TALKIN'.
To add more grist to the mill, I ranted on this topic last night, detailing some of the complete STUPIDITY that is ongoing here as the crisis escalates. Sad to say, the discourse is unlikely to get any smarter as time goes by here.
We also have up a new Collapse Survey TM for readers to drop down their opinions on how to handle the Refugee Clusterfuck. Below, I'll also include a few of the current Text Responses to the Survey. Also another LINK to the Survey of course. Did I remind you enough times to TAKE THE FUCKING SURVEY? lol.
It's a Wicked Problem. How would you handle it?
…However, there is a rapidly escalating issue worth Ranting on, the Refugee issue. I wrote my first article on this issue a couple of weeks ago, and this week I published a new Collapse survey to find out what the Kollapsniks think we can or should do about this problem. Here you get all sorts of apocalyptic ideas which come up in the commentariat of the blogs, along the lines of shooting anyone who tries to cross a border. Even our own leading POTUS Candidate The Donald has come out in favor of Deporting everyone who doesn't have their papers in order.
However, while we have a long standing issue with illegal immigration along the border with Mexico, these days the main focus for the Western Industrialized Nations is on Europe, where refugees from all over MENA are trying to escape escalating warfare and ever depleting supplies of water and food at ever higher prices they can't afford to try and make it to the “promised land” of Germany, of all places. You do know I am sure that when the Jews got kicked out of Russia during the Pogroms in the 1800s, where they ended up migrating to were places like Germany and Poland, and you also are aware what happened to 6M of them in the 1930s. Uncle Adolf handed them all a First Class Ticket to the Great Beyond TM, that's what happened. Do you really think the Germans of today will behave any differently than the Germans of the 1930s when Depression hits in full force?…
For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!
This story came out on Zero Hedge after I recorded the Rant, but before I published.
It escalates rapidly…
Following Hungarian cameramen kicking 10-year-old girl refugees, and Czech police hauling immigrants of trains and writing numbers on their arms, it appears the horrors of the past are quickly forgotten when it comes to 'solutions' for the present. As The Jerusalem Post reports, the leader of the Czech 'nationalist' National Democracy Party, has called for refugees to be placed in Terezin – a former Nazi concentration camp – "Why build tent camps for the aliens? We have the beautiful fortress town of Terezin where the aliens could concentrate before they are taken home by trains." Police are investigating whether his comments constitute a criminal act and Czech Jewish leaders have refused to comment on the incident.
As The Jerusalem Post reports, police in the Czech Republic are investigating comments made on Facebook by an extremist politician calling for refugees to be placed in Terezin, the former Nazi concentration camp.
Adam Bartos, the leader of the fringe yet vocal far-right nationalist National Democracy Party, published the comments about the site, located in the central European country, on Monday.
Reacting to the establishment of a refugee camp near the country’s border with Slovakia, Bartos wrote, “Why build tent camps for the aliens? We have the beautiful fortress town of Terezin where the aliens could concentrate before they are taken home by trains.”
The FULL TEXT of the Rant will be available HERE in a few days
A Selection of Early Responses to one of the survey text questions:
If you were in charge, what policies would you put in place now to try and stem the tide of refugees all over the world? (text response)
|Educating women seems to be the best way to lower the birth rate. I'd try to educate and empower women in 3rd world countries. Too little too late, though.|
|As King of the World. Migration is a fact. It will happen as climate change begins to bite. Develop soft population growth controls and alter national boundaries/resource consumption to accomodate as many people as possible while working to decreace total population to a sustainable number through natural reductions. (Like this ever has a chance in hell of happening).|
|There effectively is no way to stop people from trying to get to places that seem better than where they come from. The only thing that can be done is resolve some of the military conflicts; its the only thing about which we have any control (climate change is probably no longer in out control for the short term, anyway). Unfortunately, the conflicts continue to multiply without any end in sight. The last round of interventionist policies of the early 2000s caused even more instability than the previous round of interventions in the mid 1990s. Is there anyone that seriously thinks more intervention is going to solve the conflicts.|
Off the keyboard of John Ward
Published on The Slog on July 16, 2015
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“Rape ‘er? Are you kiddin’ mate? She was f**kin* gaggin’ for it”
I really don’t know how to define or rationalise this post other than calling the piece “getting it off my chest”.
I was directed to Richard North’s site this morning and read a lucid, well documented column from a powerful eurosceptic voice. But something throwaway towards the end got right up my nose and evoked the comment thread that follows.
Maybe at times I get too sensitive about Greece and what’s being done to it. God knows, I’m more aware than most of the infuriating nature of the place at times. But if you sympathise with this summary, I’d deem it a great favour if you’d pump some internet oxygen into it.
‘Oh dear. Just when I thought that, at last, an article about endemic Greek corruption was going to reach the right conclusion, it turns into a vague apologiae for Troika gangsterism.
I have been a regular visitor to Greece and enthusiastic Grecophile for 45 years. I have probably written more on the injustices inside (and done to) Greece than any other Western blogger. So allow me please to expand and correct here and there.
1. As you point out, Franco-German to Greece export & banking corruption is every bit as disgusting as that of the Greek élites. I don’t see anyone punishing Germany. Or France.
2. 80% of Greeks approve of tax evasion because history has taught them that their payments go into the same back pockets of bureaucrats and bent developers as everything else that the ordinary Greeks produce with such thrift and passion.
3. The entire medical sector is about 6-7% of the Greek population. Every doctor and dentist I’ve ever met takes bribes… even when the treatment is free on the State. None of these people have suffered a jot from austerity, and over 90% of them vote Nia Dimokritia. Pharmacies cheat the system because they too are an élite mafia. Ordinary Greeks don’t benefit from this corruption, they pay through the nose for it. It is the corrupt pols who refuse to regulate it.
4. Despite all this obvious evidence of WHERE the corruption problem lies, Troikas 1&2 chose to deal with precisely those people fostering it…who of course heaped the cost of austerity onto the people who are not the problem. But the EU is every bit as corrupt as they are: Herr Doktor Schäuble prefers to deal with those of like mind to himself.
5. When at last the vast majority of Greeks woke up and elected a government determined to root out and destroy the pre-1789 style privilege of the élites on their backs, the EU, EC, ECB, and Eurogroupe gargoyles worked overtime to turn down every proposal they made and destabilise that Syriza régime. This would seem quixotically deranged behaviour for a group of people allegedly in favour of “reform”. Here they were, presented with the most idealistic, honest and popular Greek political party for more than 40 years…but as the IMF correctly reports, EU fiscal blackmail in the final fortnight (all of it illegal under EU Law) took Greek debt unsustainability from the surreal to the impossible.
What exactly makes you think either Tsipras or the toiling classes he represented ‘deserved’ that level of depraved sociopathy?
6. Cornered at last, the IMF’s Christine Lagarde has blown a massive hole in this ridiculous wall of Brussels-am-Berlin sanctimony. The aim of these three bailouts is now clear for all to see: it never was nor indeed could ever be debt repayment. To use the French term, it was a summary and gratuitous execution pour encourager les autres. And at a level even more base than that, it was a full-frontal attack by federalist fanatics on the sovereignty of a nation…a nation I observe, year in year out, working much harder than any Nordeuropeans of my acquaintance.
Off the keyboard of John Ward
Published on The Slog on July 9, 2015
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Tell me: is there a decent hero on the planet?
Market control in a supposedly neoliberal world, fortunate glitches in a nervous Stock market, and bullying hypocrisy from the squandered marbles army. There is little or nothing worth saving in any of it.
The Shanghai index’s collapse was ‘stemmed’ during Asian trading earlier today. Much relief all round, but there are two reasons not to be joyful about it: first, the market is still around 55% higher than it was a year ago, when the property market collapse pulled novices into stocks…so logic would suggest it has further to fall; and second, it is not market sentiment that has stopped the rot, but more draconian Beijing regulation. 50% of all China stocks are now suspended, and yesterday the government ordered a blanket ban on anyone with more than 5% of a company’s stocks from selling for the next six months.
So this is not a rally, it’s a dam. In the US yesterday, a glitch came to the rescue of NYSE traders already nervous and gloomy. Nobody I spoke to believed the hiccup was either accidental or satisfactorily explained.
“There’s definitely an issue if we see a further correction in the Chinese stock market,” said Russ Koesterich, BlackRock’s chief investment strategist, but then he added a tell-tale bit right at the end about the EU (my italics): “Greece is going to be a negative in the short term. If you don’t see a deal on Sunday, you’re going to see a negative knee-jerk reaction on Monday. I don’t think a ‘Grexit’ is priced in,” he said. However, he did not see Greece as a major problem for the market longer term, “since Europe is backstopped by the European Central Bank.”
In recent days, more and more people with their brain functions intact are starting to gen up on the real Greek debt canvas that’s been gradually painted over since 2009 by ham-fisted cover-up artists called Draghi, Schäuble, Dijesslbleom, Schulz, Samaras et al. I’d refer those who missed it to the Daniel Hannan demolition job The Slog performed on June 17th this year in relation to his woeful ‘analysis’ of Greek debt and surplus, because Point 4 therein is an important reality that the daubing history-changers would prefer you didn’t perceive. This is that the ECB could this afternoon write off two-thirds of the entire Greek debt without any harm or cost to anyone anywhere at any future time.
A central bank configured like the ECB can put a zillion quadrillion Swiss francs of debt into its ‘negative assets’ column and forget about it, because the ECB cannot go bust. The surreal accounting system behind the euro ensures that the Central Bank can be blown up by a direct nuclear hit, but its viability as a financial institution will remain intact. The markets and the first Troika were perfectly well aware of this, as are the hypocrites working forTroika2.
The Greek debt is not being forgiven for a number of reasons – lending market dislike of written-off debt, fears about default contagion, a German determination to contain all resistance contagion, and a continuing belief that the euro’s cadaver is not dead, it is simply resting. That’s it: there is no fiscal or economic logic to any of it. Club Med is being destroyed by austerity to show the markets that European debt will be repaid come what may – even if the entire region has to starve and degenerate into Civil War in order to achieve that goal….a goal that is mathematically unachievable anyway. The situation really is that surreal, and its practitioners that profoundly deranged.
Degrading and depriving millions of EU citizens for the sake of a fiat currency with no Sovereignty to guarantee it, and no way to opt out of it – because it was designed by hubris-fuelled idiots keen to offset any and all responsibility for unsound fiscal governance.
That’s what we are looking at here: a policy that is blatantly unconstitutional under the Rome and Lisbon treaties, and one that demands the bill be paid by the waiters, not the troughing borrowers. In exactly the same wicked and lawless manner, the Berlin FinMin is now lobbying for any failed Greek banks to be the subject of bailins whereby entirely innocent citizens will lose such savings as they have left…precisely as Cypriot citizens and foreign retirees lost theirs. For Mr Dijesslbleom has his template, and that template must be used.
Meanwhile, the odiously irresponsible Troika1 lenders got away with their margins largely intact from the early stages of this ripoff – because they either sold on their investments to vultures, or the vultures themselves paid 10cents on the Dollar and received only a 40% haircut. Goldman Sachs (which conspired with the original right wing Greek government to deceive Brussels about the scale of the debt they were busy selling to the fat cats) in turn has never been brought to book for that heinous crime.
So to sum up, the German position as of last night was a flat refusal to accept any devaluation of a debt that can never be repaid, but which could be largely vapourised by one push of an electronic button. Some call this intransigence; I call it insanity…the insanity of fanatics who refuse to accept defeat. The same mentality, if you will, as those SS officers who – with the Russians two streets away from the Reichschancellery in 1945 – walked around calmly shooting any citizen unwilling to resist the Soviet advance.
Francois Hollande – the Socialist President of France – and his FinMin Muscovici have now fallen in with the eurogroupe Schützstaffel tendency… fully aware of the fact that France played a central lobbying role in designing and then exploiting the irresponsible nature of the euro’s format: since EMU came into being, the French have failed to hit a single deficit target they were set by the Commission. No bat-pummelling for the French, though: bullies, after all, never take on anyone approaching their own size.
There remain for me this morning three other targets for ire. First, Tsipras – for offering to continue with a 3-year bailout. That’s not so much a red line as a red rag to all those tired and tortured bulls who voted for Syriza in January. Second, the European Parliament, whose behaviour towards Tsipras was horribly reminiscent of Mussolini’s fascists shouting down Haile Selassie’s speech to the League in 1936. And finally, a disgraceful British Labour Party too ideologically constipated and europhile to align itself with the People.
‘Forward with the People’ a famous Labour paper used to say. What a truly reticent, flappy-bottomed shower of pampered fluffies they are.
History might not rhyme, exactly, but it’s not bad for free verse. Greece is this century’s Serbia — a tiny, picturesque backwater nation blundering haplessly into the center stage of geopolitics. And the European Union is, whaddaya know, Germany in drag, on financial steroids.
Nobody knows what will happen next in the struggle to wring some kind of debt repayment promises out of poor Greece. Without “restructuring” — a virtual national bankruptcy proceeding — there can be no plausible promises of repayment. Both sides seem to have exhausted their abilities to juke their way out. The European Union and its wing-men at the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) can only pretend to kick that fabled can down the road because it has turned into a cement-filled 50-gallon drum. The Greek government can only pretend to further dismantle its civil service and pension systems lest angry citizens toss it out and replace it with a new government, perhaps an ugly and pugnacious one made up of Golden Dawn party Nazis.
In the background, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and perhaps even France wait without peeping to see if Greece is allowed to restructure, because you can be sure they will demand the same privilege to debt relief. But that’s hardly possible because the ECB has been engineering a shift of debt-holding away from the big corporate banks — which made all the stupid loans — to the taxpayers of their member states, especially Germany, which stands to be the biggest bag-holder when a contagion of serial default seeps across the continent.
This implies, of course, that along the way to that outcome something sickening happens to the price of all the bonds that the debt is embodied in. Namely, its value craters for the simple reason that the threat of non-payment makes interest rates shoot up to reflect the actualization of risk. That would certainly set off the booby-trap of derivative interest rate swaps and credit default swaps that have been laid into history’s greatest financial minefield. Thus, the big banks that were supposedly shielded by the ECB shell game of Hide the Debt Pea Somewhere Else, will blow up in a daisy-chain of unpayable obligations.
The net effect of all that will be the disappearance of nominal wealth — it crosses an event horizon into a black hole never to be seen again. The continent discovers it is a lot poorer than it thought. Fifty years of financial engineering comes to the grief it deserves for promoting the idea that it’s possible to get something for nothing.
The same thing more or less awaits the USA, China, and Japan. For the USA in particular the signs of bankruptcy have been starkly visible for a long time outside the bubble regions of New York, Washington, and San Francisco. You see it in the amazing decrepitude of the built environment — the cities and towns left for dead, the struggling suburban strip malls tenanted if at all by wig shops and check-cashing operations, the rusted bridges, pot-holed highways, the Third World style train service. Most sickeningly you see it in a population of formerly earnest, hard-working, basically-educated people with hopes and dreams transformed into a hopeless moiling underclass of tattooed savages dressed in baby clothes devoting their leisure hours (i.e. all their time) to drug-seeking and the erasure of sexual boundaries.
That shocking social and political bankruptcy has, so far, acted as the sinkhole for all America’s financial degeneracy and the entropy it generates. The financial class (the 1 percent who own 40-plus percent of the financialized economy) must think it’s immune to the consequences of its activities, namely racketeering of one kind or another — criminal misconduct and accounting fraud in the service of money-grubbing. They must truly believe that risk has been offloaded into the ring-fenced concentration camps of capital: the derivatives pools. But risk, like rust, never sleeps and can’t be so easily contained. The obstreperous claims of debt only die down with the acknowledged disappearance of wealth, as when a bottom-feeding collection agency attempts to collect a few cents on the dollar of a car loan gone bad.
The US Federal Reserve, like the European Central Bank, sits atop a vault of bonds representing a colossal aggregate promise to repay debt that can never be repaid. Their loss of value will come to be seen for what it is: the disappearance of national wealth. We’ll have our moment, too, when the 50-gallon can full of cement can’t be kicked down the road another inch. It might come when Europe sets the example for a loss of faith in a system run to crime and rot.
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.
Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
Published on Russia Today on June 11, 2015
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What’s the connection between the G7 summit in Germany, President Putin’s visit to Italy, the Bilderberg club meeting in Austria, and the TTIP – the US-EU free trade deal – negotiations in Washington?
We start at the G7 in the Bavarian Alps – rather G1 with an added bunch of “junior partners” – as US President Barack Obama gloated about his neo-con induced feat; regiment the EU to soon extend sanctions on Russia even as the austerity-ravaged EU is arguably hurting even more than Russia.
Predictably, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande caved in – even after being forced by realpolitik to talk to Russia and jointly carve the Minsk-2 agreement.
The hypocrisy-meter in the Bavarian Alps had already exploded with a bang right at the pre-dinner speech by EU Council President Donald Tusk, former Prime Minister of Poland and certified Russophobe/warmonger: “All of us would have preferred to have Russia round the G7 table. But our group is not only a group (that shares) political or economic interests, but first of all this is a community of values. And that is why Russia is not among us.”
So this was all about civilized “values” against “Russian aggression.”
The “civilized” G1 + junior partners could not possibly argue whether they would collectively risk a nuclear war on European soil over a Kiev-installed ‘Banderastan’, sorry, “Russian aggression.”
Instead, the real fun was happening behind the scenes. Washington factions were blaming Germany for making the West lose Russia to China, while adult minds in the EU – away from the Bavarian Alps – blamed Washington.
Even juicier is a contrarian view circulating among powerful Masters of the Universe in the US corporate world, not politics. They fear that in the next two to three years France will eventually re-ally with Russia (plenty of historical precedents). And they – once again – identify Germany as the key problem, as in Berlin forcing Washington to get involved in a Prussian ‘Mitteleuropa’ Americans fought two wars to prevent.
As for the Russians – from President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov downwards – a consensus has emerged; it’s pointless to discuss anything substantial considering the pitiful intellectual pedigree – or downright neo-con stupidity – of the self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration policy makers and advisers. As for the “junior partners” – mostly EU minions – they are irrelevant, mere Washington vassals.
It would be wishful thinking to expect the civilized “values” gang to propose alternatives for the overwhelming majority of citizens of G7 nations getting anything other than Mac-jobs, or barely surviving as hostages of finance-junkie turbo-capitalism which only benefits the one percent.Rather easier to designate the proverbial scapegoat – Russia – and proceed with NATO-infused fear/warmongering rhetoric.
Iron Lady Merkel also found time to pontificate on climate change – instilling all and sundry to invest in a “low-carbon global economy.” Few noticed that the alleged deadline for full “decarbonization” was set for the end of the 21st century, when this planet will be in deep, deep trouble.
Obama’s neocon-induced newspeak continues to rule that Russia dreams of recreating the Soviet empire. Now compare it to what President Putin is telling Europe.
Last week, Putin found time to give an interview to the Milan-based Corriere della Sera at 2 am; the interview was published as the Bavarian Alps show went on, and ahead of Putin’s June 10 visit to Italy. Russia’s geopolitical interests and US- Russia relations are depicted in excruciating detail.
So Putin was a persona non grata at the G1 plus junior partners? Well, in Italy he visited the Milan Expo; met Prime Minister Renzi and Pope Francis; reminded everyone about the “privileged economic and political ties” between Italy and Russia; and stressed the 400 Italian companies active in Russia and the million Russian tourists who visit Italy every year.
Crucially, he also evoked that consensus; Russia had represented an alternative view as a member of the G8, but now “other powers” felt they no longer needed it. The bottom line: it’s impossible to have an adult conversation with Obama and friends.
And right on cue, from Berlin –where he was displaying his sterling foreign policy credentials, Jeb Bush, brother of destroyer of Iraq Dubya Bush, fully scripted by his neocon advisers, declared Putin a bully and rallied Europe to fight, what else, “Russian aggression.”
The rhetorical haze over what was really discussed in the Bavarian Alps only began to dissipate at the first chords of the real sound of music; the Bilderberg Group meeting starting this Thursday at the Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol in Austria, only three days after the G1 plus junior partners.
Possible conspiracies aside, Bilderberg may be defined as an ultra-select bunch of elite lobbyists – politicians, US corporate honchos, EU officials, captains of industry, heads of intelligence agencies, European royals – organized annually in a sort of informal think tank/policy-forming format, to advance globalization and all crucial matters related to the overall Atlanticist agenda. Call it the prime Atlanticist Masters of the Universe talkfest.
Naturally they will be talking about “Russian aggression” (as in who cares about failed Ukraine; what we need is to prevent Russia from doing business with Europe).
Naturally they will be talking about Syria (as in the partition of the country, with the Caliphate already a fact of post-Sykes-Picot life).
Naturally they will be talking about Iran (as in let’s do business, buy their energy and bribe them into joining our club).
But the real deal is really the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – the alleged “free trade” deal between the US and the EU. Virtually all major business/finance lobbyists for the TTIP will be under the same Austrian roof.
And not by accident Bilderberg starts one day before “fast track” presidential authority is to be debated at the US Congress.
WikiLeaks and a ton of BRICS
Enter WikiLeaks, with what in a fairer world would be a crucial spanner in the works.
The fast track authority would extend US presidential powers for no less than six years; that includes the next White House tenant, which might well be ‘The Hillarator’ or Jeb “Putin is a bully” Bush.
This presidential authority to negotiate dodgy deals includes not only the TTIP but also the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).
WikiLeaks, just in time, published the Healthcare Annex to the secret draft “Transparency” chapter of the TPP, along with each country’s negotiating position. No wonder this draft is secret. And there’s nothing “transparent” about it; it’s an undisguised hold-up of national healthcare authorities by Big Pharma.
The bottom line is that these three mega-deals – TTP, TTIP and TiSA – are the ultimate template of what could be politely described as global corporate governance, a Bilderberg wet dream. The losers: nation-states, and the very concept of Western democracy. The winners: mega-corporations.
Julian Assange, in a statement, succinctly nailed it “It is a mistake to think of the TPP as a single treaty. In reality there are three conjoined mega-agreements, the TiSA, the TPP and the TTIP, all of which strategically assemble into a grand unified treaty, partitioning the world into the West versus the rest. This 'Great Treaty' is described by the Pentagon as the economic core to the US military's 'Asia Pivot.' The architects are aiming no lower than the arc of history. The Great Treaty is taking shape in complete secrecy, because along with its undebated geostrategic ambitions it locks into place an aggressive new form of transnational corporatism for which there is little public support."
So this is the real Atlanticist agenda – the final touches being applied in the arc spanning the G1 + added junior partners to Bilderberg (expect a lot of crucial phone calls from Austria to Washington this Friday). NATO on trade. Pivoting to Asia excluding Russia and China. The West vs. the rest.
Now for the counterpunch. As the show in the Bavarian Alps unrolled, the first BRICS Parliamentarian Forum was taking place in Moscow – ahead of the BRICS summit in Ufa next month.
Neocons – with Obama in tow – knock themselves out dreaming that Russia has become “isolated” from the rest of the world because of their sanctions. Since then Moscow has signed major economic/strategic contracts with at least twenty nations. Next month, Russia will host the BRICS summit – 45 percent of the world’s population, a GDP equivalent to the EU, and soon bigger than the current G7 – as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, when India and Pakistan, currently observers, will be accepted as full members.
G1 plus junior partners? Bilderberg? Get a job; you’re not the only show in town, any town.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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Seventy years after the end of World War II, and twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany is once again under the grip of ‘sturm und drang’, but this time barely registered in either East or West.
Without a serious attempt at myth busting, it’s impossible to discern what could be interpreted as a new, discreet German attempt at hegemony.
Contrary to a myth currently propagated by US ‘Think Tankland’, political Berlin under Chancellor Merkel is not a mediator between a still hegemonic US and an “aggressive” Russia.
The reality is Berlin, at least for the moment, would rather give the impression of singing Washington’s tune – with minor variations – while chastising Russia. That’s the case even when we consider the solid energy/trade/business ties with Moscow, as in Germany importing a third of its natural gas, and German industry/companies/corporations hugely invested in Russia.
Contrary to a second myth, political Berlin does not seek “stability” in Europe’s eastern borderlands, but rather outright vassalage. The relentless Eastern European integration to the EU, led by Berlin, was as much a strategy to open new markets for German exports as to erect a buffer between Germany and Russia. As for the Baltic States, they are already vassals; Germany is the largest trading partner for all three.
Yet another myth is that Berlin cannot lift – counterproductive – sanctions against Moscow as long as “security” of Central and Eastern Europe is not assured. The reality is that Germany would rather exert total political/economic control over the periphery of the former USSR.
As for the EU itself, now mired in a post-democratic, un-egalitarian, austerity-ravaged toxic environment, with no discernible way out, Germany already rules, politically and economically.
Deutschland under control?
Amidst the current EU intellectual quagmire where, to quote Yeats, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” – think puny neoliberal ideologues scurrying under their sinecures in that Kafkaesque temple of mediocrity, Brussels – a modern Diogenes would be hard pressed to find an informed observer capable of seizing up Germany’s game.
Thus the glaring exception of historian and anthropologist Emmanuel Todd, author of the seminal 2002 essay After the Empire which showed no mercy in its cartography of American decline. In a long 2014 www.les-crises.fr interview, centered on Germany, Todd hits the geopolitical ball out of the park.
Todd deeply worries about the West’s dysfunction – manifested at its prime in Europe being “virtually at war with Russia”. He sees the anxious, sick West’s “fixation” on Russia as the search for a scapegoat, or better, “the creation of an enemy, necessary to maintain a minimal coherence of the West. The European Union was created against the USSR; it cannot do without Russia as an adversary.”
And yet, behind the EU, there’s the real deal; the German project, which Todd identifies as a project of power, driven “to compress demand in Germany, to enslave the debt-ridden countries of the South, to put to work the Eastern Europeans, to throw some peanuts to the French banking system.” And that project of power could not but open the ominous door to Germany’s “immense potential for political irrationality” – a theme very much prominent now with all those rehashes of the fall of the Reich.
Todd identifies what Lacan would dub the great European non-dit (“not enunciated”); “The key to the control of Europe by the United States, which is the inheritance of the victory of 1945, is the control of Germany.”
Yet now the control is dissolving, albeit chaotically, and that means “the beginning of the dissolution of the American imperium.” And imperial decline – visible in myriad declinations – leads Todd to a bombshell; the real threat to the US, much more dangerous than Russia – “which is external to the empire” – is Germany.
And what about the threat to Russia from Germany? Todd strongly implies the populations of Russian language, culture and identity are being attacked in Eastern Ukraine with "the approval and support" of the European Union – which is a fact. At the same time, he interprets the Russian "silence" about it not "as in the French and the American case, a refusal to see reality,” but as good diplomacy; "They need time. Their self-control, their professionalism, compels admiration." Try finding this kind of analysis in CIA-infested European corporate media.
“Europe” out, Germany in
So what Todd is essentially gaming here is “the emergence of a new face-to-face between two great systems: the American continent-nation, and this new German empire, a political-economic empire which people continue to call ‘Europe’ out of habit.” And yes, he’s got a compelling case.
Using a political science concept coined by Belgian anthropologist Pierre van den Berghe, Todd qualifies the German system as “un-egalitarian domination”; whatever equality is left concerns only the dominant, as in German citizens. Welcome, then, to Herrenvolk democracy – the “democracy of the master people.”
Todd bolsters his case by pointing to the dynamism of the German economy as based in the former USSR satellites; “Part of the success of our German neighbors stems from the fact that the communists were much interested in education. They left behind them, not only obsolete industrial systems, but also populations that were remarkably well educated.”
So “annexing” the populations of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, etc, meant Germany reorganizing its industrial base using low-cost labor. But then there’s a major “if”; Todd believes Germany might also “annex” an active population of 45 million in Ukraine, “with its good level of training inherited from the Soviet period.”
Not only that’s extremely unlikely; Moscow has been explicit this is a red line. Moreover, “Ukraine” is a failed state in terminal disintegration, now a lowly, de facto, IMF colony, whose only interest for the “West” is rich agricultural land to be plundered by Monsanto and cohorts.
“He hasn’t seen Germany coming”
The fun really starts when Todd examines the mess “classical American geopoliticians of the ‘European’ tradition,” are in. He had to be talking mostly about notorious Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski; “Obsessed by Russia, he hasn’t seen Germany coming.”
Todd correctly notes how Dr. Zbig “has not seen that the American military might, by extending NATO all the way to the Baltic States, to Poland… was in fact cutting out an empire for Germany, at first economic, but at present already political.” And in parallel to what I have been examining for years now, he hints that “the extension of NATO to the East could in the end bring about a version B of Brzezinski’s nightmare: a reunification of Eurasia independently of the United States.”
The clincher is to be savored like the best Armagnac; “Faithful to his Polish origins, he feared a Eurasia under Russian control. He is now running the risk to go down in History as another one of these absurd Poles who, out of hatred of Russia, have insured the greatness of Germany.”
For the moment, political Germany – but not its industrialists – has chosen to continue to be subjugated to the US/NATO as Chancellor Merkel appears to be enforcing the encircling of Russia.
As Todd nailed it, Germany painstakingly organized its EU hegemony on the basis this disparate basket of nations would provide Berlin with the economy of scale to win against its main industrial competitor, the US. Yet Germany lacks energy – oil and gas. Supply from Africa and the Middle East is inherently unstable.
So this is how we come to another scenario circulating among what Bauman called “nomad elites of liquid modernity”; not think tanks or Western intel agencies.
According to this scenario, instead of a EU trying to work with Russia, we have Berlin trying to undermine Moscow to ultimately seize financial control of Russia’s immense resources; back to those good old disaster capitalism Yeltsin days, when everything was collapsing other than Russia’s natural resource production.
After all the ‘New Great Game’ is mostly about control of the natural gas, oil and resources of Russia and Central Asia. Will they be controlled by oligarch fronts supervised by their masters in London and New York, or by the Russian state? And once Russia had been subdued, then the Central Asian “stans”, especially gas republic Turkmenistan, would also be free to do Germany’s bidding.
But for the moment, it’s all shadow play. Merkel utters platitudes about the Minsk ceasefire – when every serious player knows Kiev breaks it on an everyday basis. Berlin works backstage to keep the proverbial “reluctant players” – Italy, Greece, Hungary – on board with sanctions on Russia while spinning it’s doing its best to contain hysterical Poland and Lithuania.
Merkel is very much aware the US prosecutes much of its drone war out of Germany while the BND – German intel – spies for the NSA on the French, the European Commission (EC) and even German industry.
So she will never directly antagonize Washington – as she in fact mostly fears German Atlanticists, while posing about Putin and the Kremlin living “in a different world.” Berlin and Moscow continue to talk diplomatically, but the mood tends to the tone deaf.
The new exceptionalism
Todd is one of the few who at least are setting alarm bells ringing. As in this formulation: “German culture is un-egalitarian: it makes difficult the acceptance of a world of equals. When they are feeling that they are the strongest, the Germans will take very badly the refusal of the weaker to obey, a refusal which they perceive as unnatural, unreasonable.”
Once again, we’re in the realm of exceptionalism, but now with the added, historically troubling German penchant for political irrationality. The new, remixed lebensraum may revolve around an ever-expanding export powerhouse – adding on global trade by using educated, low-cost labor. While the Reich disintegrated in a larger than life folly seventy years ago, the new deal accomplished a dream; as Todd characterizes it, there are two great “developed industrial worlds” today, America and “this new German empire.”
He sees Russia as a “secondary question” and he has not examined China’s long game; thus he’s not focused – as in my own case – on myriad moves toward Eurasia integration. But what he’s concentrating on is no less than a thriller for the ages, a “completely different future for the twenty years to come, other than the East-West conflict;” Germany rising – and the US and Germany inevitably clashing, all over again. History may yet repeat itself as (lethal) farce after all.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
Originally published in RT on May 1, 2015
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The twin-pronged attack – oil price war/raid on the ruble – aimed at destroying the Russian economy and place it into a form of Western natural resource vassalage has failed.
Natural resources were also essentially the reason for reducing Iran to a Western vassalage. That never had anything to do with Tehran developing a nuclear weapon, which was banned by both the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
The ‘New Great Game’ in Eurasia was always about control of the Eurasian land mass. Minor setbacks to the American elite project do not mean the game will be restricted to a mere “war of attrition”. Rather the contrary.
All about PGS
In Ukraine, the Kremlin has been more than explicit there are two definitive red lines. Ukraine won’t join NATO. And Moscow won’t allow the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk to be crushed.
We are coming closer to a potentially explosive deadline – when EU sanctions expire in July. An EU in turmoil but still enslaved to NATO – see the pathetic “Dragoon Ride” convoy from the Baltics to Poland or the “Atlantic Resolve” NATO show-off exercise – may decide to expand them, and even try to exclude Russia from SWIFT.
Only fools believe Washington is going to risk American lives over Ukraine or even Poland. Yet let’s plan a few steps ahead. If it ever comes to the unthinkable – a war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine – Russian defense circles are sure of conventional and nuclear superiority on sea and land. And the Pentagon knows it. Russia would reduce NATO forces to smithereens in a matter of hours. And then would come Washington’s stark choice: accept ignominious defeat or escalate to tactical nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon knows that Russia has the air and missile defense capabilities to counter anything embedded in the US Prompt Global Strike (PGS). Simultaneously though, Moscow is saying it would rather not use these capabilities.
Major General Kirill Makarov, Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces’ deputy chief, has been very clear about the PGS threat. Moscow’s December 2014 new military doctrine qualifies PGS as well as NATO’s current military buildup as the top two security threats to Russia.
Unlike non-stop Pentagon/NATO bragging/demonizing, what Russian defense circles don’t need to advertise is how they are now a couple of generations ahead of the US in their advanced weaponry.
The bottom line is that while the Pentagon was mired in the Afghanistan and Iraq quagmires, they completely missed Russia’s technological jump ahead. The same applies to China’s ability to hit US satellites and thus pulverize American ICBM satellite guidance systems.
The current privileged scenario is Russia playing for time until it has totally sealed Russia’s air space to American ICBMs, stealth aircraft and cruise missiles – via the S-500 system.
This has not escaped the attention of the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) – as it gamed sometime ago whether Washington might launch a first strike against Russia.According to the JIC, Washington might go rogue if “a) an extreme government were to take over in the United States, b) and there was increased lack of confidence by the United States in some if not all of her Western allies owing to political developments in their countries, c) and there was some sudden advance in the USA in the sphere of weapons, etc. that the counsels of impatience may get the upper hand.”
US ‘Think Tankland’ spinning that Russian military planners should take advantage of their superiority to launch a first strike nuclear attack against the US is bogus; the Russian doctrine is eminently defensive.
Yet that does not exclude Washington doing the unthinkable the next time the Pentagon thinks of itself to be in the position Russia is now in.
The whole game used to be about who ruled the waves – the geopolitical gift the US inherited from Great Britain. Control of the seas meant the US inheriting five empires; Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands. All those massive US carrier task forces patrolling the oceans to guarantee “free trade” – as the hegemonic propaganda machine goes – could be turned against China in a flash. It’s a mechanism similar to the carefully choreographed “leading from behind” financial op to simultaneously crash the ruble/launch an oil war and thus smash Russia into submission.
Washington’s master plan remains deceptively simple; to “neutralize” China by Japan, and Russia by Germany, with the US backing its two anchors, Germany and Japan. Russia is the de facto only BRICS nation blocking the master plan.
This was the case until Beijing launched the New Silk Road(s), which essentially mean the linking of all Eurasia into a “win-win” trade/commerce bonanza on high-speed rail, and in the process diverting freight tonnage overland and away from the seas.
So NATO’s non-stop Russia demonizing is in fact quaint. Think about NATO picking a fight against the constantly evolving, complex Russia-China strategic partnership. And in a not so remote future, as I indicated here, Germany, Russia and China have what it takes to be the essential pillars of a fully integrated Eurasia.
As it stands, the key shadow play is Moscow and Beijing silently preparing their own SWIFT system while Russia prepares to seal its air space with S-500s. Western Ukraine is doomed; leave it to the austerity-ravaged EU – which, by the way, doesn’t want it. And all this while the same EU tries to handicap the US commercially with a rigged euro that still doesn’t allow it to penetrate more US markets.
As for an irrelevant NATO, all it can do is cry, cry, cry.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
Off the keyboard of John Ward
Published on The Slog on April 19, 2015
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ANALYSIS: Why the standoff between Greece and the EU is really the first major battle in the war between Yesterday and Tomorrow
As the days drag on towards some kind of dénouement to what is rapidly becoming the silliest, longest and most empty threat of a death sentence in political history, I continue to be amazed that the Western media are reporting the Greece-eurogroupe ‘deadlock’ as if it was a purely technical matter.
There are only two elements of the ‘crisis’ that concern me: the emotional dimension of an at times infuriating but fundamentally sound culture I’ve loved for over forty years being pelted by a salvo of Brussels sprouts, controlling sauerkrats, and past-sell-by date Frankfurters; and the former politics student’s fascination with the factions and rivalries on both sides.
If you’re a Python nut like me, then you will remember the Life of Brian sequence where Graham Chapman innocently asks the anal splinter-group leader Michael Palin if “we” are the People’s Group for the Liberation of Palestine, and Palin snaps back, “Are you f**king mad? We f**kin’ spit on the PGLOP. We, my friend, are the People’s Army for Palestine Liberation. There’s a world of difference”.
Sadly, a great deal of contemporary in-fighting between Middle East opponents of the US, Israel and NATO have proved in the 36 years since that movie how madness will eventually – somewhere – become reality. But it is also one of the strongest arguments against large States like Europe, China, the US and Russia that the citizens reach a point where a substantial minority no longer feel any affection for the much-vaunted body. For them, it’s more of a cadaver: a giant corpse they simple cannot remember as the flower of their youth.
More and more, this anthropological reality both colours and muddies European affairs.
The current impasse/standoff/crisis/negotiation is not – let’s get this straight for starters – a conflict between the EU and Greece. It is not even a war between national liberty and superstate dictatorship.
Rather, it’s the first battle in what could be a long war between yesterday and tomorrow. And be aware: the battle is no way as simple as ‘EU yesterday vs Greek tomorrow’: this is a battle in which there are more false flags, civil wars around the edges and power struggles going on than in the emerging Nazi Party of 1931.
Let’s deal quickly with my first concern: although depicted as the punishment of corrupt Greek politicians, backhanding officials and tax-evading taverna owners, none of that is even closely related to the facts. Far from punishing Nia Demokratia, PASOK and their serially unpleasant leaders, the Troika has insisted from Day One that it will only deal with these gargoyles. This is the same principle as hanging the war criminals at Nuremburg….up to but not including rocket scientists the victors wanted on their sides.
Germany largely benefited from corrupt officials (especially during the various insane arms deals with Greece) rather than suffering in any way; and precious few of those Fat Crats have been brought to justice….although Syriza is now on the case.
And finally, small businesses evade tax in Greece because the tax system is corrupt, not through greed in many cases: they know that every pol and bureacrat wants a kafelaki (small envelope). And people evade the Troika taxes today because they see them for what they are: a disgraceful attempt to pick the pocket of the vagrant in the gutter. I live in France now, and I’ve visited Greece between forty and fifty times in the last half-century; everything I see related to le noir francais is exactly the same as in Greece – except for one thing: it’s a far bigger problem in France.
I’m told by some that the desire to evade tax became an act of patriotic resistance during the Ottoman hegemony over Greece, but that was a long, long time ago: more accurate, I think, is the phrase used to me over and over again: “It’s a national sport”….and the trophy is nothing more than sticking it to the depraved elites that have been sitting on real Greeks for decades.
The punishment meted out by the Troika fits not the crime, but the greed, geopolitical ambitions and cynical control freakery of its three prongs – Wall Street, the US/EU, and Berlin/ECB interest groups. This is far from empty conspiracist assertion: the investment banking firms and Hedge Funds got clean away with a fat profit during the initial bailouts, Schäuble stands accused of conspiring with Venizelos to exaggerate the size of debt hole in 2010, a German-controlled and run concept of Fiskalunion has emerged directly from this totally unnecessary mess, the federalisation of the EU has been accelerated, and above all the euro was saved to die another day.
Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are on Calvary at the moment, but they’re dying to cleanse a worthless currency of its flaws, not to save anyone’s soul. And no amount of crucifixions from here to Warsaw via Budapest are going to remove the euro’s flaws.
Greece is saddled with an obscene debt and carpet-bombed economic structure because Schäuble wanted to convince the markets of eurozone viability, Trichet’s borrowing controls were hopelessly lax, Goldman wanted to sell credit, Sarkozy was terrified of the effect on his banks, and Berlin wanted – plus ca change – to run Europe using the best alternative to military force: the munnneeee.
There is little difference in general substance between QE and Zirp killing economies across the globe, and ClubMed austerity killing most of the ezone economy: except of course, the one in Germany. Gott in Himmel: perish the thought that such a thing might occur.
Nobody in the neoliberal owned and controlled press is ever going to accept that version of events, no matter how empirically databased it is. But no other explanation can explain the consistent actions of those in charge of the fiscal policies involved….policies that cannot possibly be related to sound economic actions – or even sound minds.
The mistake many observers and commentators make is to get the motive for the Greek tragedy wrong: get it right, and everything makes complete sense. Read the MSM account, and none of it does.
However, as I pointed out at the start of this mini-essay, there’s no simple tug-of-war going on. The best analogy I can summon up for the moment is to see the EU/ECB/Berlin attack on Greece as akin to Abe Lincoln deciding to attack Samuria-Shogun-Meiji fractured Japan just after the first Battle of Bull Run.
The two ‘sides’ in 2015 square up as follows:
EC vs Eurogroupe vs Frankfurt vs IMF vs ECB vs Berlin vs Paris vs UK
Syriza vs KKE vs PASOK vs Nia Demokrita vs Golden Dawn vs To Potami vs ephiles vs ephobes
Without getting into too much detail, Jean-Claude Junker’s power base is the EC. Inside that, he has an anti-austerity rebuilding fund of allegedly €350bn, whose purpose he has kept deliberately vague. He befriended Alexis Tsipras, and could shaft the eurogroupe royally if he decided to invest it in Greece on a bigger scale than at present. This is because the eurogroupe’s attempt to wrest power from Juncker gets up his nasal orifice – and threatens the Cyprus-style tax evasion racket he runs in Luxembourg.
But the Frankfurt Bundesbank hardliners think the eurogroupe and its ally the ECB will have a disastrous effect on money supply and inflation via QE…plus (they assert) it was a mistake to let the US-controlled IMF and its mathematically dyslexic boss Christine Lagarde loose anywhere in Europe. In Berlin, however, Schäuble wants to have total control over the reins of euro-fiscal policy, and so would do anything to vapourise ECB boss Mario Draghi…while Chancellor Merkel (whom Schäuble dislikes, but who has the electoral appeal he lacks) has similar doubts to me about what Draghi’s really up to: is he working for the euro, or is he working for its replacement, the Dolleuro?
Paris, meanwhile, is infinitely more guilty of fiscal vandalism than Greece (as are Germany and Holland) but is no longer avoiding the consequences of its soi-largesse with quite the ease it was. The French Establishment has been rattled by some of the fiscal disciplinary methods imposed on France after the March eurogroupe summit: but Berlin must beware of pushing too many French voters towards the undiluted anti-EU nationalism of Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale.
And last but not least, dear old Blighty stuck out there in the island limbo of “Ukip if you want to, but we’re wide awake, and we want out”.
You may think the Sceptred Isle doesn’t count, but I would suggest you’re wrong. At the moment, the Eunatics face threats on four ClubMed fronts, interference from the US, and an allegedly weak Putinesque Russia which suggests that it isn’t either weak or stupid. The last thing the EU elites need is to roil the markets with a secession request from Britain in 2018….even if it is only England by then.
This does, I think, go a long way to explaining why Draghi has of late switched tack, and begun persuading his ‘colleagues’ that the time is not yet quite right for the Greeks to default. Much smart money had been targeting April 26th as the moment of truth for Athens. But yesterday the ECB boss told a Washington audience that he “won’t even contemplate” the possibility of a Greek default on its debt repayments during April, because such an event would throw the eurozone into “uncharted waters.” This from the man who six weeks ago claimed that Greek default would be no more than a gnat-bite on the bum for eurobanks…because this time, the system “is prepared”. Yeh, right: that must be why he arm-twisted the ELA into coughing up the liquidity to help Greece pay off the last IMF kilo of flesh, sorry, installment.
Far more money is now being placed on a Greek default on or after May 9th. And spookily, that just happens to be two days after the UK General Election finishes. I think it would be safe to say that – were a Greek default to throw everything into European bond-spiking confusion before April 26th – there would be a massive Ukip surge, as well as potential pressure on the UK’s George Osborne in terms of borrowing rates. The continued UK national debt explosion is, after all, the Chancellor’s Achilles heel.
So there you have it. Or rather, you don’t: because twixt you, me, the gatepost and the other girls, trying to discern 8 x 8 possibilities producing 64 possible outcomes (when any new left-field factor could make that 4096 scenarios) is the original mug’s game.
Much better, I’d opine, to stick to the basics. And I’ve remained consistent about these since this rapidly dwindling time-window began last February 24th.
Those who would rather have a meteorite collide with Earth than give up on the euro project have far, far more to lose than a nation of 11.5m people who would (in my view) be much better off deserting the euro. But there remains that Greek inferiority complex pride thing of not wanting to be the catalyst of destroying a single market that acts as an economic and political bulwark against American multinational domination of the Globe.
I think that viewpoint to be muddled, but then I’m not Greek, or foraging in the Athens garbage cans. My gut feeling is that Varoufakis underestimated the Cosa Nostra nastiness of those with whom he must deal, and Troika2 underestimated the fatigue of the Hellenic population at large with being made a scapegoat.
Either way, a lot of very sour derivative bets placed on euro success cannot be allowed to trigger an omni-directional bazooka aimed at Wall Street. Sorry to repeat myself, but I still think the high face-cards are in the Greek hand.
Originally published in RT on April 9, 2015
‘Operation Decisive Storm’ – the Pentagon-style House of Saud glorifying of its ghastly ‘Bomb Yemen’ show – could be summed up in a single paragraph.
The wealthiest Arab nation – the House of Saud petro-hacienda – supported by other GCC petro-rackets and also the wealthy “West”, has launched an – illegal – bombing/war/kinetic operation against the poorest Arab nation in the name of “democracy.”
And this absurdity is just the beginning.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, the innocuous as a stale cannoli Federica Mogherini, seems to be mildly alarmed. She remarked that Saudi bombing of hospitals and “deliberate targeting and destruction of private homes, education facilities and basic infrastructure cannot be tolerated.”
Well, the EU tolerates exactly the same thing in Donbass perpetrated by Kiev’s goons – so nothing will come out La Mogherini’s feigned outrage.
The Red Cross and the Russian Federation, for their part, at least are demanding a temporary ceasefire to allow for humanitarian relief. Humanitarian relief is incompatible with the House of Saud’s bloodline. So after two weeks of Saudi ‘Shock and Awe’, the current toll of at least 560 Yemeni civilians dead (and counting), and 1700 wounded – dozens of them children – is bound to increase.
Bab-el-Mandeb me, baby
Bomb Iran? Not now; the new normal is bomb Yemen. But still bomb Iran might be back in a flash. Pentagon supremo Ash Carter confirmed last week “all options are on the table” even if an Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal is finally reached in June. So, for the record, the Pentagon is affirming nuclear negotiations are just white noise unable to deter the tantalizing prospect of yet another nice little Middle East war.
Needless to add, the so civilized ‘West’ didn’t even flinch when “our bastards” the House of Saud invaded and started shockin’ an’awin’ dirt-poor Yemen. No UN Security Council resolution. Not even a mandate from the totally discredited Arab League. Who cares? After all the ‘Empire of Chaos’ has done the same over and over again with total impunity.
Much hysteria has been raging on whether the Houthis are about to take control of the Bab-el-Mandeb – one of the key strategic global energy chokepoints along with the Straits of Hormuz, and as crucial as the Suez Canal. Nonsense. Whatever the House of Saud does, the not so hidden ‘Empire of Chaos’ agenda is never to lose control of the Bab-el-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands.
This is part of what we could dub ‘Chokepointistan’; wars taking place near or around energy bottlenecks, and always narrated in Global War on Terror (GWOT) deceitful terminology. US Think Tankland is more straightforward, carefully following US naval deployments. That’s what this is all about; an Orwellian “freedom of navigation” masquerading a hardcore strategy of shutting out the geopolitical enemy – be it Iran, Russia, China or all of the above.
‘Chokepointistan’ is all over the place: just watch the war or pre-positioning action in the Bab-el-Mandeb (with spillover effects from Yemen to Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti); the Straits of Hormuz (all about Iran); but also the strait of Malacca (all about China), Panama (about Venezuela), the coming Nicaragua canal (about China), the Korean Strait, the Taiwan Strait, the Kuril Islands, and last but not least the Baltic Sea.
A Grand Armada Run Amok
Saudi intel knows the Houthis can’t possibly control the Bab-el-Mandeb – not to mention Washington would never allow it. What freaks the Saudis out is that the Houthi rebellion in Yemen – supported by Tehran – may encourage bright rebellion ideas among the Shi’ite majority in the eastern provinces in Saudi Arabia, where most of the oil is.
And this where the Saudi excuse for war interfaces with the empire’s paranoia of preventing Iran, Russia and/or China from establishing a possible strategic presence in Yemen, at the Bab-el-Mandeb, overlooking the Gulf of Aden.
So we have once again Pentagon supremo Carter insisting, “The United States supports Arab plans to create a unified military force to counter growing security threats in the Middle East, and the Pentagon will cooperate with it where US and Arab interests coincide.” Translation: we gave the green light for our bastards to maintain “stability” in the Middle East.
Yet there’s a spanner in the works; the possible Washington-Tehran rapprochement, assuming a nuclear deal is reached. For the self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration, the nuclear deal will be their only foreign policy success. Moreover, without Tehran there’s no meaningful fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in “Syraq”.
None of this mollifies the cosmically paranoid Saudis, who assembled in a flash a Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) – 100 jet fighters, 150,000 soldiers – respectfully described by US Think Tankland as a “coalition” of 10 countries. Without even blinking at UN norms, the Saudis instantly declared the whole of Yemen as a no-fly zone.
And along with routine bombing of residential complexes, the al-Mazraq camp for the internally displaced in Hajjah, a dairy factory near Hodeida, and other instances, came, what else, hardcore internal Saudi repression, via a crackdown with tanks and indiscriminate shooting in Awamiyah, in the eastern provinces; Shi’ites there can’t even think of organizing protests against the bloodbath in Yemen.
In a nutshell, this is the immensely wealthy, corrupt, medieval Saudi regime busy at war against their own people. The usual hard-line Wahhabi imams are busy working up anti-Shi’ite and anti-Iranian fever everywhere; these are all “apostates” under the takfir doctrine, and Iranians are lowly “Safawis” – a quite pejorative reference to the 16th century Safavid dynasty. It’s crucial to remember that Islamic State treats Shi’tes and Iranians the exact same way. But forget about any of this being reported by Western corporate media.
The General and the Sheikh
The House of Saud insists it wants to reinstall the government-in-exile of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. Or, as Saudi Ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir glowingly put it, “protect the legitimate government of the country.”
Royally paid Saudi lobby hagiographers are once again frantically spinning the Sunni versus Shi’ite sectarian narrative – which totally ignores the mind-boggling tribal/class complexity of Yemeni society. In a nutshell, this laughable Saudi defense of democracy is paving the way for a ground war; a long, bloody and horribly expensive ground war.
And it gets, as expected, even more absurd. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was recently asked during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing whether he knew of “any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL.” His response: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.”
Translation: the US government not only does not sanction or punish these “allies” (the real fun is to sanction Russia) but showers with logistical and “non-lethal” support the “coalition” that is arguably fighting the same Islamic State they are funding. No one is making this up; this is how the endless war on terra remains the gift that keeps on giving.
It gets even curioser and curioser when we have Dempsey on the same page of Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah. In this crucial speech, Sheikh Nasrallah offers the most extensive and precise account of the origins and ideology of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And here he expands on Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
So what we have is the ‘Empire of Chaos’ ‘leading from behind’ in the war on Yemen and also de facto ‘leading from behind’ in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; the ones doing the heavy lifting are Iraqi militias supported by Tehran. The hidden agenda is always – what else –chaos; be it across “Syraq” or inside Yemen. With an extra bonus; while Washington is engaged on striking a nuclear deal with Tehran, it also turbo-charges an alliance against Tehran using the House of Saud.
Vietnam in the desert
The House of Saud badly wants Pakistan to take no prisoners, supplying bomber jets, ships and lots of ground troops for their war. Riyadh treats Islamabad as a vassal state. A joint session of the Pakistani Parliament will decide what to do.
It’s quite revealing to learn what happened when Pakistan’s most popular private TV channel assembled representatives of all major political parties to explain where they stand. Soon they reached a consensus; Pakistan should be neutral; act as mediator; and commit no troops, unless there was a “tangible threat” to the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, which is far from the case.
The House of Saud remains on overdrive, showering tons of cash over Salafi and Deobandi preachers to bullhorn their war; that includes a delegation of ulema visiting Riyadh. Support has already duly poured from Pakistan-based hardcore groups that trained with al-Qaeda and fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan; after all they are all funded by Wahhabi fanatics.
Meanwhile, in the front lines, a real game-changer may be ahead, with the Houthis already firing missiles across the border at Saudi oil installations. Then all bets are off – and the possibility that long-range missiles have been pre-positioned becomes quite credible.
That scenario would mean a foreign intel agency luring the House of Saud into its own Vietnam quagmire in Yemen, setting them up for a barrage of missiles hitting their pumping stations and oil fields, with catastrophic consequences for the global economy. It’s crucial to remember that the Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) assembled by Riyadh happens to account for no less than 32% of global oil production. This cannot possibly end well.
Everyone in Yemen has an AK-47, not to mention RPGs and hand grenades. The terrain is guerrilla heaven. History spells out at least 2,000 years of hardened tribes fighting foreign invaders. Most Yemenis hate the House of Saud with a vengeance; a majority follows what the Houthis announced in late February, that the House of Saud and the US were planning to devastate Yemen.
The Houthi rebellion includes both Sunnis and Shi’ites – thus totally debunking the Saudi narrative. When they captured the Yemeni National Security Bureau, which was basically a CIA station, the Houthis found a wealth of secret documents that “compromised” Washington’s Yemeni chapter of the war on terra. As for the Saudi Army, it’s a joke. Besides, it employs a huge contingent of – you guessed it – Yemeni soldiers.
“Operation Decisive Storm” – yet another Pentagon-style illegal war – has already plunged Yemen into the twin plagues of civil war and humanitarian disaster. The remains of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and most of all ISIS/ISIL/Daesh (who hate the Houthis and all Shi’ites with a vengeance) couldn’t be happier. The ‘Empire of Chaos’ couldn’t give a damn; the more widespread the chaos, the better for the Pentagon-defined Long War (on terra).
Over five years ago I wrote that Yemen is the new Waziristan. Now it’s also heading towards the new Somalia. And soon it may become the House of Saud’s Vietnam.
Off the keyboard of John Ward
Published on The Slog on March 20, 2015
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TSIPRAS/MERKEL SUMMIT: You thought Greek politics complicated? Wait until you tot up the seismic splits in the EU
Take a close look at the timeline since Thursday night’s mini-summit marathon between Alexis Tsipras and Angela Merkel.
After a 3am Friday finish, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the meeting as “good and constructive,” but warned that the Greek government will have to meet commitments before it can access EU money. She gave Syriza exactly seven days to offer fully detailed “reform” proposals to Troika2, and then left clutching several haunches of Venison and 683 sausages for her beloved fridge.
A few hours later, however, Jean-Claude Juncker – the President of the European Commission (EC) – announced a completely unconditional 2 billion euro contribution immediately available to Greece to boost growth, tackle youth unemployment and help with the “humanitarian crisis”. Juncker said the cash for this would come from “unused EU development funds”.
When I called the EC press office this afternoon and asked how this circle might be squared, there was much scurrying about and promises of getting back to me…none of which materialised.
Those EU schisms in full
This is what’s really going on here: pissed off by the degree to which Germany and the Troikanauts are increasingly adopting the Führerprinzip in relation to EU affairs, the EC as led by J-CJ is doing everything in its power to be good-cop to Greece in general, and Tsipras in particular. This is a good old-fashioned Nazi Party power struggle, and there is every opportunity for Athens to exploit it.
But equally, we must remember that on another level entirely, Francois Hollande of France got away almost scot-free last week on deficit failures that far outweigh those of Greece….but was forced to bring in Troika-demanded laws about tax evasion…and ECB diktats about bank liquidity. This has not gone down well in his Party.
The Parti Socialiste de France doesn’t like this crap because (like many of us) they foresee the wholesale handing over of millions of votes to Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale.
So then: we have the EC at war with Berlin and Troika2, plus France at war with Frankfurt. But just when you thought you had it sussed, more fractures appear.
For Wolfgang Schäuble is at war with Merkel over his single-minded obsession to become Supreme Leader of the as yet unformed Fiskalunion…and fighting a second front against Mario Draghi’s ECB, which in turn is fighting on another front entirely with Jens Weidemann and the German Central Bank…who rightly think that Draghula is working not for the euro, but a planned eurodollar spookily approaching parity with, um, the euro. And Merkel too distrusts the ECB boss’s motives….preferring as she does to keep her options open on the subject of which way to jump in the Dollar v Rublenimbi chasm.
Confused? You will be after this latest episode of Eurosoap. But there are far more plot lines and faultlines to develop before your confusion is comprehensively constructed.
There is the coming UK election, and the increasing likelihood of the ‘biggest’ Party needing to do a deal with EU-secessionists. There is the growing secessionist and europhobic tendency in Italy. There is Podemos support in Spain growing with every act of defiance from Greece. There is the Austro-German bank collapse epidemiology threatening everyone from Santander to Deutsche. And there remains the implacable unwillingness of Viktor Orban in Hungary to have anything to do with globalism in general, or the euro in particular.
Face facts: the EU is imploding.
Published in Asia Times on March 9, 2015
Winston Churchill once said, “I feel lonely without a war.” He also badly missed the loss of empire. Churchill’s successor – the ‘Empire of Chaos’ – now faces the same quandary. Some wars – as in Ukraine, by proxy – are not going so well.
And the loss of empire increasingly manifests itself in myriad moves by selected players aiming towards a multipolar world.
So no wonder US ‘Think Tankland’ is going bonkers, releasing wacky CIA-tinted “forecasts” where Russia is bound to disintegrate, and China is turning into a communist dictatorship. So much (imperial) wishful thinking, so little time to prolong hegemony.
The acronym that all these “forecasts” dare not reveal is BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). BRICS is worse than the plague as far as the ‘Masters of the Universe’ that really control the current – rigged – world system are concerned. True, the BRICS are facing multiple problems. Brazil at the moment is totally paralyzed; a long, complex, self-defeating process, now coupled with intimations of regime change by local ‘Empire of Chaos’ minions. It will take time, but Brazil will rebound.
That leaves the “RIC” – Russia, India and China – in BRICS as the key drivers of change. For all their interlocking discrepancies, they all agree they don’t need to challenge the hegemon directly while aiming for a new multipolar order.
The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) – a key alternative to the IMF enabling developing nations to get rid of the US dollar as a reserve currency – will be operative by the end of this year. The NDB will finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects not only in the BRICS nations but other developing nations. Forget about the Western-controlled World Bank, whose capital and lending capacity are never increased by the so-called Western “powers.” The NDB will be an open institution. BRICS nations will keep 55 percent of the voting power, and outside their domain no country will be allowed more than 7 percent of votes. But crucially, developing nations may also become partners and receive loans.
Damn those communists
A tripartite entente cordiale is also in the making. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in China next May – and ‘Chindia’ will certainly engage in a breakthrough concerning their bitter territorial disputes. As much as Delhi has a lot to benefit from China’s massive capital investment and exports, Beijing wants to profit from India’s vast market and technology savvy. In parallel, Beijing has already volunteered economic help to Russia – if Moscow asks for it – on top of their evolving strategic partnership.
The US “pivoting to Asia” – launched at the Pentagon – is all dressed up with no place to go. Bullying Southeast Asia, South Asia and, for that matter, East Asia as a whole into becoming mere ‘Empire of Chaos’ vassals – and on top of it confronting China – was always a non-starter. Not to mention believing in the fairy tale of a remilitarized Japan able to “contain” China.
Isolating the “communist dictatorship” won’t fly. Just watch, for instance, the imminent high-speed rail link between Kunming, in Yunnan province, and Singapore, traversing a key chunk of a Southeast Asia which for Washington would never qualify to be more than a bunch of client states. The emerging 21st century Asia is all about interconnection; and the inexorable sun in this galaxy is China.
As China has embarked in an extremely complex tweaking of its economic development model, as I outlined here, China’s monopoly of low-end manufacturing – its previous industrial base – is migrating across the developing world, especially around the Indian Ocean basin. Good news for the Global South – and that includes everyone from African nations such as Kenya and Tanzania to parts of Southeast Asia and Latin America.
Of course the ‘Empire of Chaos’, business-wise, won’t be thrown out of Asia. But its days as an Asian hegemon, or a geopolitical Mob offering “protection”, are over.
The Chinese remix of Go West, Young Man – in fact go everywhere – started as early as 1999. Of the top 10 biggest container ports in the world, no less than 7 are in China (the others are Singapore, Rotterdam, and Pusan in South Korea). As far as the 12th Chinese 5-year plan – whose last year is 2015 – is concerned, most of the goals of the seven technology areas China wanted to be in the leading positions have been achieved, and in some cases even superseded.
The Bank of China will increasingly let the yuan move more freely against the US dollar. It will be dumping a lot of US dollars every once in a while. The 20-year old US dollar peg will gradually fade. The biggest trading nation on the planet, and the second largest economy simply cannot be anchored to a single currency. And Beijing knows very well how a dollar peg magnifies any external shocks to the Chinese economy.
Sykes-Picot is us
There have been rumblings that the remixed Sykes is Obama and the remixed Picot is Putin. Not really. It’s the ‘Empire of Chaos’ that is actually acting as the new Sykes-Picot, directly and indirectly reconfiguring the “Greater Middle East.” Former NATO capo Gen. Wesley Clark has recently “revealed” what everyone already knew; the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh fake Caliphate is financed by “close allies of the United States,” as in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel. Compare that with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon admitting that ISIS “does not represent a threat to Israeli interests.” Daesh does the unraveling of Sykes-Picot for the US.
The ‘Empire of Chaos’ actively sought the disintegration of Iraq, Syria and especially Libya. And now, leading the House of Saud, “our” bastard in charge King Salman is none other than the former, choice jihad recruiter for Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the Afghan Salafist who was the brains behind both Osama bin Laden and alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.
This is classic ‘Empire of Chaos’ in motion (exceptionalists don’t do nation building, just nation splintering). And there will be plenty of nasty, nation-shattering sequels, from the Central Asian stans to Xinjiang in China, not to mention festering, Ukraine, a.k.a Nulandistan.
Parts of Af-Pak could well turn into a branch of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh right on the borders of Russia, India, China, and Iran. From an ‘Empire of Chaos’ perspective, this potential bloodbath in the “Eurasian Balkans” – to quote eminent Russophobe Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski – is the famous “offer you can’t refuse.”
Russia and China, meanwhile, will keep betting on Eurasian integration; strengthening the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and their own internal coordination inside the BRICS; and using plenty of intel resources to go after The Caliph’s goons.
And as much as the Obama administration may be desperate for a final nuclear deal with Iran, Russia and China got to Tehran first. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in Tehran two weeks ago; stressing Iran is one of China’s “foreign policy priorities” and of great “strategic importance.” Sooner rather than later Iran will be a member of the SCO. China already does plenty of roaring trade with Iran, and so does Russia, selling weapons and building nuclear plants.
And then there’s the German question.
Germany now exports 50 percent of its GDP. It used to be only 24 percent in 1990. For the past 10 years, half of German growth depended on exports. Translation: this is a giant economy that badly needs global markets to keep expanding. An ailing EU, by definition, does not fit the bill.
German exports are changing their recipient address. Only 40 percent – and going down – now goes to the EU; the real growth is in Asia. So Germany, in practice, is moving away from the eurozone. That does not entail Germany breaking up the euro; that would be interpreted as a nasty betrayal of the much-lauded “European project.”
What the trade picture unveils is the reason for Germany’s hardball with Greece: either you surrender, completely, or you leave the euro. What Germany wants is to keep a partnership with France and dominate Eastern Europe as an economic satellite, relying on Poland. So expect Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy to face a German wall of intransigence. So much for European “integration,” it works as long as Germany dictates all the rules.
The spanner in the works is that the double fiasco Greece + Ukraine has been exposing. Berlin as an extremely flawed European hegemon – and that’s quite an understatement. Berlin suddenly woke up to the real, nightmarish possibility of a full blown, American-instigated war in Europe’s eastern borderlands against Russia. No wonder Angela Merkel had to fly to Moscow in a hurry.
Moscow – diplomatically – was the winner. And Russia won again when Turkey – fed up with trying to join the EU and being constantly blocked by, who else, Germany and France – decided to pivot to Eurasia for good, ignoring NATO and amplifying relations with both Russia and China.
That happened in the framework of a major ‘Pipelineistan’ game-changer. After Moscow cleverly negotiated the realignment of South Stream towards Turk Stream, right up to the Greek border, Putin and Greek Prime Minister Tsipras also agreed to a pipeline extension from the Turkish border across Greece to southern Europe. So Gazprom will be firmly implanted not only in Turkey but also Greece, which in itself will become mightily strategic in European ‘Pipelineistan’.
So Germany, sooner or later, must answer a categorical imperative – how to keep running massive trade surpluses while dumping their euro trade partners. The only possible answer is more trade with Russia, China and East Asia. It will take quite a while, and there will be many bumps on the road, but a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing trade/commercial axis – or the “RC” in BRICS meet Germany – is all but inevitable.
And no, you won’t read that in any wacky US ‘Think Tankland’ “forecast.”
Off the keyboard of John Ward
Published on The Slog on March 3, 2015
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Greece, it seems, is suddenly in a load of trouble. A clear blue azure sky of eternal hope is threatened by large clouds. Syriza isn’t cutting it. It’s all over bar the shouting. Greece is going to be a pariah “on the same level as Zimbabwe” says the Daily Telegraph. “They’ve got ten days left” a senior journalist told me yesterday.
The situation with Greece is the same as it’s been since mid 2012: the only things that have changed in the last month or so are (1) a government the Troika doesn’t like (2) Draghi suddenly quoting “the rules” to keep Athens out of the QE money-pissing display, and threaten to cut off the ELA (3) the very oligarchy Syriza wants to get rid of withdrawing its banked money – egged on by the ECB – and (4) the Germany-ECB-IMF Troika humiliating the new Greek government. Take all those things away, and the fiscal situation is precisely the same as it was under little Antonikis from Kalamata. The differences outlined above can be summed up thus: a systematic undermining of a Sovereign State’s viability by malign influencers who don’t GAF about the welfare of the largely innocent and impoverished Greek citizenry.
Suddenly, the rules are important. Suddenly, an organisation unaudited since its inception says eurozone regulations must be obeyed. Suddenly, a central bank that raped Cyprus an subordinated holders of Greek bonds says the rules are important. Suddenly, the finance minister of a country (that took Greek money for two submarines and only ever supplied one) tells us that “People simply must obey the rules”.