Pepe Escobar

Why the New Silk Roads Terrify Washington

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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greatwarfreda1

Originally published in RT on July 5, 2016

 


Almost six years ago, President Putin proposed to Germany 'the creation of a harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.'

This idea represented an immense trade emporium uniting Russia and the EU, or, in Putin’s words, “a unified continental market with a capacity worth trillions of dollars.”

In a nutshell: Eurasia integration.

Washington panicked. The record shows how Putin’s vision – although extremely seductive to German industrialists – was eventually derailed by Washington’s controlled demolition of Ukraine.

Three years ago, in Kazakhstan and then Indonesia, President Xi Jinping expanded on Putin’s vision, proposing One Belt, One Road (OBOR), a.k.a. the New Silk Roads, enhancing the geoeconomic integration of Asia-Pacific via a vast network of highways, high-speed rail, pipelines, ports and fiber-optic cables.

In a nutshell: an even more ambitious version of Eurasia integration, benefiting two-thirds of the world population, economy and trade. The difference is that it now comes with immense financial muscle backing it up, via a Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB), and an all-out commercial offensive all across Eurasia, and the official entry of the yuan in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights; that is, the christening of the yuan as a key currency worth holding by every single emerging market central bank.

At the recent G20 in Huangzhou, President Xi clearly demonstrated how OBOR is absolutely central to the Chinese vision of how globalization should proceed. Beijing is betting that the overwhelming majority of nations across Eurasia would rather invest in, and profit from, a “win-win” economic development project than be bogged down in a lose-lose strategic game between the US and China.

And that, for the Empire of Chaos, is absolute anathema. How to possibly accept that China is winning the 21st century / New Great Game in Eurasia by building the New Silk Roads?

And don't forget the Silk Road in Syria

Few in the West have noticed, as reported by RT, that the G20 was preceded by an Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Essentially, that was yet another de facto celebration of Eurasia integration, featuring Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

And that integration plank will soon merge with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union – which in itself is a sort of Russian New Silk Road.

All these roads lead to total connectivity. Take for instance cargo trains that are now regularly linking Guangzhou, the key hub in southeast China, to the logistics center in  Vorsino industrial park near Kaluga. The trip now takes just two weeks – saving no less than a full month if compared with shipping, and around 80 percent of the cost if compared with air cargo.

That’s yet another New Silk Road-style connection between China and Europe via Russia. Still another, vastly more ambitious, will be the high-speed rail expansion of the Transiberian; the Siberian Silk Road.

Then take the closer integration of China and Kazakhstan – which is also a member of the EEU. The duty-free Trans-Eurasia railway is already in effect, from Chongqing in Sichuan across Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland all the way to Duisburg in Germany. Beijing and Astana are developing a joint free trade zone at Horgos. And in parallel, a $135 million China-Mongolia Cross-Border Economic Cooperation Zone started to be built last month.

Kazakhstan is even flirting with the ambitious idea of a Eurasian Canal from the Caspian to the Black Sea and then further on to the Mediterranean. Sooner or later Chinese construction companies will come up with a feasibility study.

A virtually invisible Washington agenda in Syria – inbuilt in the Pentagon obsession to not allow any ceasefire to work, or to prevent the fall of its “moderate rebels” in Aleppo – is to break up yet another New Silk Road hub. China has been commercially connected to Syria since the original Silk Road, which snaked through Palmyra and Damascus. Before the Syrian “Arab Spring”, Syrian businessmen were a vital presence in Yiwu, south of Shanghai, the largest wholesale center for small-sized consumer goods in the world, where they would go to buy all sorts of products in bulk to resell in the Levant.

The “American lake”

Neocon/neoliberalcon Washington is totally paralyzed in terms of formulating a response – or at least a counter-proposal – to Eurasia integration. A few solid IQs at least may understand that China’s “threat” to the US is all about economic might. Take Washington’s deep hostility towards the China-driven AIIB (Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank). Yet no amount of hardcore US lobbying prevented allies such as Germany, Britain, Australia and South Korea from joining in.

Then we had the mad dash to approve TPP – the China-excluding, NATO-on-trade arm of the pivot to Asia that was meant to be the cherry of the mostly flat Obama global economic policy cake. Yet the TPP as it stands is practically dead.

What the current geopolitical juncture spells out is the US Navy willing to go no holds barred to stop China from strategically dominating the Pacific, while TPP is deployed as a weapon to stop China dominating Asia-Pacific economically.

With the pivot to Asia configured as a tool to “deter Chinese aggression”, exceptionalists have graphically demonstrated how they are incapable of admitting the whole game is about post-ideological supply chain geopolitics. The US does not need to contain China; what it needs, badly, is key industrial, financial, commercial connection to crucial nodes across Asia to (re)build its economy.

Those were the days, in March 1949, when MacArthur could gloat, “the Pacific is now an Anglo-Saxon lake”. Even after the end of the Cold War the Pacific was a de facto American lake; the US violated Chinese naval and aerial space at will.

Now instead we have the US Army War College and the whole Think Tankland losing sleep over sophisticated Chinese missiles capable of denying US Navy access to the South China Sea. An American lake? No more.

The heart of the matter is that China has made an outstanding bet on infrastructure building – which translates into first-class connectivity to everyone – as the real global 21st century commons, way more important than “security”. After all a large part of global infrastructure still needs to be built. While China turbo-charges its role as the top global infrastructure exporter – from high-speed rail to low-cost telecom – the “indispensable” nation is stuck with a “pivoting”, perplexed, bloated military obsessed with containment.

Divide and rule those “hostile” rivals

Well, things haven’t changed much since Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski dreaming in the late 1990s of a Chinese fragmentation from within, all the way to Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy, which is no more than futile rhetorical nostalgia about containing Russia, China and Iran.

Thus the basket of attached myths such as “freedom of navigation” – Washington’s euphemism for perennially controlling the sea lanes that constitute China’s supply chain – as well as an apotheosis of“China aggression” incessantly merging with “Russia aggression”; after all, the Eurasia integration-driven Beijing-Moscow strategic partnership must be severed at all costs.

Why? Because US global hegemony must always be perceived as an irremovable force of nature, like death and taxes (Apple in Ireland excluded).

Twenty-four years after the Pentagon’s Defense Planning Guide, the same mindset prevails; “Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival…to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union and southwest Asia”.

Oops. Now even Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski is terrified. How to contain these bloody silky roads with Pentagon“existential threats” China and Russia right at the heart of the action? Divide and Rule – what else?

For a confused Brzezinski, the US should“fashion a policy in which at least one of the two potentially threatening states becomes a partner in the quest for regional and then wider global stability, and thus in containing the least predictable but potentially the most likely rival to overreach. Currently, the more likely to overreach is Russia, but in the longer run it could be China.”

Have a pleasant nightmare.

 


PepePepe 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. 

The Whole Game is About Containing Russia-China

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Russia China

Originally published in Sputnik on August 29, 2016

 


The next BRICS summit, in Goa, is less than two months away. Compared to only two years ago, the geopolitical tectonic plates have moved with astonishing speed. Most BRICS nations are mired in deep crisis; Brazil’s endles political/economic/institutional debacle may yield the Kafkaesque impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

BRICS is in a coma. What's surviving is RC: the Russia/China strategic partnership. Yet even the partnership seems to be in trouble — with Russia still attacked by myriad metastases of Hybrid War. The — Exceptionalist — Hegemon remains powerful, and the opposition is dazed and confused. 

Or is it?  Slowly but surely — see for instance the possibility of an ATM (Ankara-Tehran-Moscow) coalition in the making — global power continues to insist on shifting East. That goes beyond Russia's pivoting to Asia; Germany's industrialists are just waiting for the right political conjunction, before the end of the decade, to also pivot to Asia, conforming a BMB (Berlin-Moscow-Beijing) coalition.

Germany already rules over Europe. The only way for a global trade power to solidify its reach is to go East. NATO member Germany, with a GDP that outstrips the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, is not even allowed to share information with the "Five Eyes" secret cabal.  

President Putin, years ago, was keen on a Lisbon-to-Vladivostok emporium. He may eventually be rewarded — delayed gratification?— by BMB, a trade/economic union that, combined with the Chinese-driven One Belt, One Road (OBOR), will eventually dwarf and effectively replace the dwindling post-WWII Anglo-Saxon crafted/controlled international order.

This inexorable movement East underscores all the interconnections — and evolving connectivity — related to the New Silk Roads, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the BRICS's New Development Bank (NDB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Eurasia Economic Union (EEU). The crux of RC, the Russia-China strategic partnership, is to make the multipolar, post-Atlantic world happen. Or, updating Ezra Pound, to Make It New.

Containing RC

Russia's pivot to Asia is of course only part of the story. The core of Russia's industries, infrastructure, population is in the west of the country, closer to Europe. BMB would allow a double pivot — simultaneously to Europe and Asia; or Russia exploiting to the max its Eurasian character. Not accidently this is absolute anathema for Washington. Thus the predictable, ongoing no holds barred exceptionalist strategy of preventing by all means necessary closer Russia-Germany cooperation.  

In parallel, pivoting to Asia is also essential because that's where the overwhelming majority of Russia's future customers — energy and otherwise — are located. It will be a long, winding process to educate Russian public opinion about the incalculable value for the nation of Siberia and the Russian Far East. Yet that has already started. And it will be in full fruition by the middle of the next decade, when all the interpolated New Silk Roads will be online.   "Containment" of RC will continue to be the name of the exceptionalist game — whatever happens on November 8. As far as the industrial-military-security-surveillance-corporate media complex is concerned, there will be no reset.

Proxies will be used — from failed state Ukraine to Japan in the East China Sea, as well as any volunteering Southeast Asian faction in the South China Sea.

Still the Hegemon will be in trouble to contain both sides of RC simultaneously. NATO does not help; its trade arm, TPP, may even collapse in the high seas before arriving on shore. No TPP — a certainty in case Donald Trump is elected in November — means the end of US economic hegemony over Asia. Hillary Clinton knows it; and it's no accident President Obama is desperate to have TPP approved during a short window of opportunity, the lame-duck session of Congress from November 9 to January 3.

Against China, the Hegemon alliance in fact hinges on Australia, India and Japan. Forget about instrumentalizing BRICS member India — which will never fall into the trap of a war against China (not to mention Russia, with which India traditionally enjoys very good relations.)   

Japan's imperial instincts were reawakened by Shinzo Abe. Yet hopeless economic stagnation persists. Moreover, Tokyo has been prohibited by the US Treasury Dept. to continue unleashing quantitative easing. Moscow sees as a long-term objective to progressively draw Japan away from the US orbit and into Eurasia integration. 

Dr. Zbig Does Desolation Row

The Pentagon is terrified that RC is now a military partnership as well.

Compared to Russia's superior high-tech weaponry, NATO is a kindergarten mess; not to mention that soon Russian territory will be inviolable to any Star Wars-derived scheme. China will soon have all the submarines and "carrier-killer" missiles necessary to make life for the US Navy hell in case the Pentagon harbors funny ideas. And then there are the regional details — from Russia's permanent air base in Syria to military cooperation with Iran and, eventually, disgruntled NATO member Turkey. 

No wonder such exceptionalist luminary ideologues as Dr. Zbig "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski — foreign policy mentor to President Obama — are supremely dejected.

When Brzezinski looks at progressive Eurasia integration, he simply cannot fail to detect how those "three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy" he outlined in The Grand Chessboard are simply dissolving; "to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together."

Those GCC vassals — starting with the House of Saud — are now terrified about their own security; same with the hysteric Baltics. Tributaries are not pliant anymore — and that includes an array of Europeans. The "barbarians" coming together are in fact old civilizations — China, Persia, Russia — fed up with upstart-controlled unipolarity.  

Unsurprisingly, to "contain" RC, defined as "potentially threatening" (the Pentagon considers the threats are existential) Brzezinski suggests — what else — Divide and Rule; as in "containing the least predictable but potentially the most likely to overreach." Still he doesn't know which is which; "Currently, the more likely to overreach is Russia, but in the longer run it could be China."     

Hillary "Queen of War" Clinton of course does not subscribe to Brzezinski's "could be" school. After all she's the official, Robert Kagan-endorsed, neocon presidential candidate. She's more in tune with this sort of wacky "analysis". 

 

So one should definitely expect Hillary's "project" to be all-out hegemony expansion all across Eurasia. Syria and Iran will be targets. Even another war on the Korean Peninsula could be on the cards. But against North Korea, a nuclear power? Exceptionalistan only attacks those who can't defend themselves. Besides, RC could easily prevent war by offering some strategic carrots to the Kim family. 

In many aspects, not much has changed from 24 years ago when, only three months after the dissolution of the USSR, the Pentagon's Defense Planning Guidance proclaimed.

"Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival…This requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union and southwest Asia."


Talk about a prescient road map of what's happening right now; the "rival", "hostile" power is actually two powers involved in a strategic partnership: RC.   Compounding this Pentagon nightmare, the endgame keeps drawing near; the next manifestations and reverberations of the never-ending 2008 financial crisis may eventually torpedo the fundamentals of the global "order" — as in the petrodollar racket/tributary scam. There will be blood. Hillary Clinton smells it already — from Syria to Iran to the South China Sea. The question is whether she — and virtually the whole Beltway establishment behind her — will be mad enough to provoke RC and buy a one-way ticket to post-MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) territory.  


PepePepe 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. 

The Russia-Iran Strategic Game-Changer

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Azernaijan Iran Russia

Originally published in Strategic Culture on August 20, 2016

 


Russian Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers – as well as Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers – leave from the Iranian Hamadan airfield to bomb jihadis and assorted "moderate rebels" in Syria, and immediately we’ve got ourselves a major, unforeseen geopolitical game-changer.

The record shows that Russia has not been present militarily in Iran since 1946; and this is the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that Iran allowed another nation to use Iranian territory for a military operation.

Bets could be made the Pentagon would, predictably, freak out like a bunch of pampered, irate teens. They did not disappoint, complaining that Russia’s advance warning did not allow enough time to "prepare" – as in blaring all across the planet another episode of "Russian aggression", on top of it in cahoots with "the mullahs". Further desperation ensued, with Washington claiming Iran might have violated UN Security Council resolutions.

Moscow’s spin, in contrast, was a beauty; this was all about logistics and cost cutting. Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, chair of the State Duma’s Defense Committee and a former commander of the Black Sea Fleet, gave a lovely explanation of the modus operandi:

"It is expensive and takes a long time to fly from bases in the European part of Russia. The issue of the cost of military combat activities is, at present, a priority. We must not go over the current Defense Ministry budget. Flying Tu-22s from Iran means using less fuel and carrying larger payloads… Russia won’t be able to find a friendlier and more suitable, from the point of view of security, country in that part of the world, and strikes must be carried out if we want to end this war… Airfields in Syria are not suitable because of the constant [need for] flying over areas of combat activities".

Don’t mess with the SCO

All fine and dandy then. The Pentagon will keep crying foul. Enraged Zionists in Israel and fanatic Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia will throw tantrums and turbo-charge the proverbial "Iranian existential threat" to apocalyptic levels. Whatever. These "facts in the skies" cannot be altered. Especially because if they open the way for a decisive victory in the battle for East Aleppo, the foreign-imposed Syrian civil war will be all but over.

Ali Shamkhani, head of Iran’s National Security Council, made no mistake this is all about Iran-Russia strategic cooperation in a – real – fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh terror, and not, as spun by Western corporate media, the return of Iran as a "military asset" of a great power.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, for his part, stressed"I allowed the bombers to fly over because we received clear information about them. They make precise strikes, avoid casualties among civilians. So, we will consider all the requests concerning security of civilians in Syria".

This was code for Baghdad coolly allowing Russian access through Iraqi airspace for the TU-22M3 bombers. Next inevitable step would be the Russian Caspian fleet launching cruise missiles over Iranian and Iraqi airspace towards those Beltway-protected "rebels" in Syria.

And there’s more, much more.

A 2015 Moscow-Damascus agreement has now been ratified by Russia. That, in effect, turns the Russian air base at Khmeimim into a permanent military base in the eastern Mediterranean.

Beijing and Damascus, for their part, have just agreed on closer military ties on top of Chinese humanitarian aid. Syrian Arab Army personnel will eventually be trained by Chinese military instructors.

Beijing is now directly involved in Syria for a key national security reason; hundreds of Uyghurs have joined Daesh or follow al-Qaeda goon Abu Muhammad al-Julani, the much-appreciated-in-the Beltway leader of the Army of Syrian Conquest – and may eventually return to Xinjiang to wage jihad.

And then, there’s the absolutely delicious cherry in the cheesecake, as professor of Middle East Studies at Shanghai International Studies University, Zhao Weiming, told the Global Times; Beijing’s new power play in Syria is payback for Pentagon interference in the South China Sea.

So what will Hillary do?

All of the above points to the new look of what used to be a white elephant in the room; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) now means serious business.

As the "4+1" (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, plus Hezbollah) started to share intel and operation procedures last year, including a coordination center in Baghdad, analysts such as Alistair Cooke and myself saw it as an embryo of the SCO in action. This was definitely, already, an alternative to NATO’s "humanitarian" imperialism and regime change obsession. For the first time NATO was not free anymore to roam around the world like an out-of-control Robocop. Even though only Russia and China were SCO members, and Iran an observer, the cooperation involved – at the request of a government fighting jihadis and still a target for regime change – already qualified as a major, new geopolitical fact on the ground.

Now, this variant of the New Silk Roads – New Silk Airways? – involving Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria and precisely targeting Salafi-jihadism, qualifies once again as accelerated Eurasia integration. Both SCO heavyweights China and Russia will not only admit Iran as a full member as early as next year; they know Iran is a key strategic asset in a battle against NATO, and they will never let Syria become the new Libya. In parallel, Russia’s strategic moves in Crimea and Syria are set to be dissected in excruciating detail in Chinese military academies.

Eurasia integration is being progressively intertwined with the SCO.

Whatever Tel Aviv and Riyadh – with their massive Washington lobbies – may fear about Russian-Iranian security cooperation, it’s NATO that’s livid. And much more than NATO, Hillary "Queen of War" Clinton.

The record shows Hillary with a severe crush on Assad to be dispatched the Gaddafi way. In the event of a Hillary presidency, bets can be made she will force the Pentagon to impose a no-fly zone in northern Syria and weaponize assorted "rebel" remnants to Kingdom Come.

And then there’s Iran. During the 2008 US presidential campaign, I was on the floor as Hillary addressed the AIPAC conference in Washington, a truly frightening spectacle. Using the – false – premise of an Iranian attack on Israel, she said, "I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

Oh really? Over Russia-Iran strategic cooperation? Over a progressively integrated SCO? Bring it on, Queen of War.


PepePepe 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. 

On the Road to United Eurasia

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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putin xi2

Originally published in Russia Insider on July 5, 2016

 


Whenever President Vladimir Putin stresses Russia’s "all-embracing and strategic partnership" with China, one can hear the proverbial howls of anger emanating from the neocon/neoliberalcon axis in the Beltway.

As he met Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijng this past Saturday, Putin even allowed himself an understatement; "To say we have a strategic cooperation is not enough anymore. This is why we have started talking about a comprehensive partnership and strategic collaboration. Comprehensive means that we work virtually on all major avenues; strategic means that we attach enormous inter-government importance to this work."

Why understatement? Because this really ventures way beyond a stream of business deals.

Deals, of course, matter; in Beijing, China and Russia advanced 58 projects worth $50 billion. These include a $6.2 billion loan from Beijing to build the 770 km-long high-speed railway between Moscow and Kazan and $12 billion in loans to build an LNG plant in the Russian Arctic.

Russian Railways, Russian investment company Sinara Group, China Railway, and Chinese CRRC will also invest in a plant in Russia to build 100 high-speed trains, designed for the Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway. The railway inevitably will be connected to the future, $100 billion, high-speed expansion of the Trans-Siberian between Moscow and Beijing.

It goes without saying, this is all part of an essential node of the New Silk Roads. And as if this was not enough, in a further, graphic instance of geoeconomic interpolation, Russia and China’s central banks are setting up a yuan clearing mechanism in Russia.

The inter-connectivity bonanza

Putin and Xi met for the 15th time just after Xi concluded a three-nation Eurasia tour – Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan – where, alongside Foreign Minister Wang Yi, he explicitly laid down the bridge between the New Silk Roads, or One Belt, One Road (OBOR), as they are officially referred to in China, and the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Not by accident China has now also struck a "comprehensive strategic partnership" with Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan – on the way to weaving a broad "China-Europe strategic partnership" in parallel to the development of the SCO.

This already translates into projects such as the Hungary-Serbia railway; the Pupin Bridge on the Danube River in Belgrade; the expansion and upgrading of a power plant in Kostolac; what Beijing calls the China-Europe freight train service (from eastern China to Duisburg in Germany and also Madrid); the Kamchiq Tunnel in Uzbekistan; and last but not least the massive China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline system.

No wonder Xi keeps stressing the "inter-connectivity" theme over and over gain, as economic corridors are being built at breakneck speed, and the China Railway Express all the way to Europe – although not yet on high-speed rail – is already a go.

So there was plenty to talk about at the 16th SCO Council in Tashkent. Plus, the acceleration of full membership to both India and Pakistan; next year will be Iran’s turn.

What this translates to in practice is the amalgamation of the New Silk Roads/OBOR; the Eurasia Economic Union, EEU (as Putin stressed in the St. Petersburg forum); the SCO; financing mechanisms such as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); and the overarching Russia-China strategic partnership.

No wonder a certain Sultan Erdogan was watching all this in Ankara with trepidation, and decided to make a move. Erdogan’s attempt at a rapprochement with Russia involves not being hopelessly sidelined in this OBOR/EEU/SCO amalgamation. Turkey cannot afford to be alienated from Russia; the Turkish Stream gas pipeline will be essential to consolidate Ankara’s position as a key energy crossroads towards Europe. At the same time, Ankara must imperatively position itself as a key hub in OBOR.

With India and Pakistan, and later Iran, as full members, the SCO will be able, in the medium term, not only to interface with OBOR on all sides (via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, CPEC, and also the Indian investment in the Iranian port of Chabahar); but also to be the key player in brokering a solution to the Afghan drama, something that the Americans and NATO would never be able to accomplish. Russia and China have always insisted that Afghanistan needs an Asian solution.

Lean, clean and green

Almost simultaneously to the Putin-Xi meeting in Beijing, and also not by accident, the AIIB turbo-charged its operations.

The AIIB started doing business only six months ago, with 57 founding member countries and $100 billion in committed capital.

It’s scheduled to invest $1.2 billion in 2016. Once again with trademark understatement, Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said, "the AIIB needs to establish its comparative advantage", profiting from «lessons of developing countries' years of development».

The board approved its first four deals, worth $509 million, with three projects co-financed with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Kingdom Department for International Development and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. They refer to a slum renovation in Indonesia and highways in Pakistan and Tajikistan. A power grid upgrade in Bangladesh will be solely AIIB financed.

And this is just the beginning. The head of AIIB may be Chinese, Jin Linqun (he has promised a "lean, clean and green" AIIB), but one of the five vice presidents is British, Daniel Alexander. Beijing holds 30% of the initial capital but has only 26% of voting power. India holds 7.5% and Russia 5.9%, followed by Germany and South Korea. This is a real multipolar project.

Almost simultaneously to the AIIB in action, Russia and China’s foreign ministers signed a declaration supporting the role of international law, stressing sovereign equality of states; non-interference into internal affairs; and peaceful resolution of disputes. Considering the recent historical record, not exactly The Empire of Chaos’s cup of tea.

Commenting on Brexit, Boris Titov, the Kremlin’s small business ombudsman, ventured, "it’s not long until a united Eurasia – about 10 years". Considering the slowly but surely interpenetration of OBOR, EEU, SCO, AIIB, the NDB and the solid Russia-China partnership inside the G20, that’s more than feasible.

In Beijing, Putin and Xi did discuss their common position in the upcoming G20, only three months away in China; that’s where the real action is, not the G7. Compare it also with NATO’s upcoming warmongering summit in Warsaw; that’s what the West has to "offer" the global South.

In a nutshell; the option to a united Eurasia is chaos. And there’s no question the Empire of Chaos will stop trying to sow chaos. Expect Beijing ordering 1,000 heavy transport aircraft from Russia and Russian ships possibly spotted sooner or later in the South China Sea to add to those perennial howls of anger in the neocon/neoliberalcon galaxy.


PepePepe 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. 

Dead Brexit Walking

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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big ben one way

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.

A scrabble board spells out Brexit in Dublin, Ireland May 4 2016.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. 


PepePepe 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. 

Hot off Brexit, Vladimir Putin goes to China

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Putin Xi

Originally published in RT on June 24, 2016

 


As the whole planet attempts to digest the implications of Brexit, the real heart of 21st century action once again shifts to Beijing, where President Vladimir Putin on Saturday pays a visit to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Business will include clinching a $6.2 billion high-speed rail deal; increased supply of Russian wheat to China – by building a Trans-Baikal grain terminal; and steps towards deeper military cooperation. They are already cooperating on an engine that will power the new Russia-China airliner.

Everything connected to the Russia-China partnership spells out Eurasia integration. It starts with the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. One Belt, One Road (OBOR), which will progressively interplay with the Eurasia Economic Union (EEU), as Putin emphasized at the St. Petersburg forum. It involves the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); the immediate future of BRICS, including the New Development Bank (NDB); projects to be financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); and Russia-China coordination inside the G20.

OBOR and the EEU naturally merge as Eurasia will be slowly but surely fashioned into a massive emporium – an interlocking trade and infrastructure network stretching from Russia’s Far East and the Chinese east coast to Western Europe, including the Middle East and Africa on the way.

Geopolitically, the expansion of OBOR-EEU is Eurasia’s response to the lame duck Obama administration-peddled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which excludes both Russia and China. Xi Jinping has visited Central Asia and Eastern Europe recently – from Serbia to Uzbekistan – selling OBOR. Moscow, considering its influence over Balkan states, will add extra support.

One just needs to look at some numbers to gauge the power of the multi-pronged Chinese offensive. Beijing is rolling out up to $100 billion to the NDB; between $50 billion and $100 billion to the AIIB; $40 billion to the Silk Road Fund; $40 billion to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). These multilateral financial investments will roll out in stages – and can be easily paid out of the yearly surplus in cash of Beijing's myriad current operations.

Additionally, Beijing has as much as a $4 trillion pile of cash to be used at the discretion of Xi and the collective leadership. This is the reality – not the usual US ‘Think Tankland’ blabbering about China’s imminent implosion. Compare it with the Fed printing so many new US dollars, about $60 billion a month, as the US would have a really hard time committing to any possible financial investment (apart from war) in the $100 billion range.

Supply chain geopolitics, anyone?

Beijing and Moscow inevitably would have come to the conclusion that their strategic partnership creates leverage and thus increases its value as it translates into multi-vector supply chain geopolitics.

‘Pipelineistan’ – with those humongous 2014 Siberian deals – is an essential node of the whole package, as Russia will ensure the supply of natural gas to China bypassing the dreaded Strait of Malacca, which Beijing well knows the US Navy could easily block at will. The interpenetration also translates, for instance, into Gazprom offering CNPC a stake in the monster Vankor gas field.

Moscow for its part does not need to rely exclusively on the West for foreign investment – on top of it controlled/sanctioned by Washington. Chinese investment will be key, as under OBOR-EEU synergy, Russia should be well on its way of developing its full potential as a global supplier of energy and agriculture and a privileged transit corridor across the whole of Eurasia.

Russia may even profit from climate change. Few may know that Russia – with permafrost fast retreating – is warming up faster than any other nation. That opens the vista of new fertile soils that could allow poultry and fish to be exported to – where else – China. Not to mention torrential amounts of freshwater. Chinese companies are buying large stakes in Russian fertilizer companies such as Uralkali as well as becoming partners of Singapore-based companies to go all out into food processing in Russia.

Contrary to what US ‘Think Tankland’ never ceases to parrot, the Russia-China strategic partnership goes way beyond a mere supply-demand alliance of convenience. Were the Kremlin to take the fateful decision, Chinese companies could certainly rebuild creaking parts of Russian infrastructure in only a few years.


PepePepe 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. 

Beijing goes mobile in the South China Sea

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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warships

Martin Petty/Reuters

Originally published in RT on June 16, 2016

 


Not a day goes by without some sort of turmoil in the South China Sea. Let’s cut to the chase: war is not about to break out.

In a nutshell, the non-stop drama, as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) diplomats told me, is all about“escalation-management protocols.” Translation: how to prevent any unilateral outburst that could be interpreted as warlike.

Compounding the problem is that ASEAN can’t seem to manage its own internal protocols. This past Tuesday offered a graphic illustration, after a special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Yuxi. First ASEAN issued a communiqué. Then it retracted it. As much as that reflects internal dissent among the 10 nation group, it also happens to puncture the Pentagon myth of China’s “isolation”.

Meanwhile, a D-Day is approaching; the ruling, by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, on a territorial dispute brought by the Philippines in 2013. The ruling should come by late July or early August. Even if – as expected – it goes against Beijing that still should not be reason to install an insurmountable ASEAN-China divide. 
Connie Rahakundini, president of the Indonesian Institute for Maritime Studies (IIMS), framed the question for Xinhua. There is an ‘ASEAN plus’ mechanism already in place – which is a sort of debate forum including China. And ASEAN is also establishing a code of conduct to prevent unilateral moves.

Read more

The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. © U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

Chinese spy ship ‘shadowing Stennis aircraft carrier’ as Japan, US & India hold joint drills

The problem with the case in The Hague is that the Philippines did not try to solve it bilaterally; off the record, ASEAN diplomats admit that would be the only solution.

So no wonder Beijing decided not to be a part of the arbitration procedure, and preemptively rejects whatever ruling (which is non-binding anyway), insisting the court has no jurisdiction. The Philippines case is about territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation; these are subject to general international law, not the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

All about positioning

At the recent Shangri-La dialogue, Beijing once again detailed its complex strategy in the South China Sea. PLA Major General Yunzhu Yao stressed that freedom of navigation for commercial ships in the South China Sea has not been challenged and would never be challenged. And she hit the heart of the matter; the US has not ratified UNCLOS, so it’s in no position to impose its interpretation of the treaty on any nation, in Asia or beyond.

Compare it to Rahkundini, speaking for ASEAN as a whole: "The United States actually has nothing to do in the South China Sea; moreover it does not ratify the UNCLOS. So it is not appropriate for the United States to meddle or, even worse, demonstrate military might there. The United States has to be wiser and fairer to see the ongoing dispute in the South China Sea."

Everyone knows this is not going to happen. On the contrary; the Obama administration and the Pentagon are engaged in all out meddling, deploying “freedom of navigation” operations. For his part new Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte very well knows that the arbitration, at best, might give him a better bargaining stance. But still he will have to negotiate with China. And Beijing knows exactly what Manila needs to soften the pill; massive Chinese investment.

Both China and the Philippines, as well as Vietnam, are signatories of UNCLOS. But steeped as it is in history, Beijing also stands by its 9-dash line map, with sovereign claims that reach as far as the Vietnamese coast and along Borneo. And yet even the Chinese map as well as the drive towards an aerial defense identification zone does not mean Beijing wants to imperil freedom of navigation in the South China Sea – as Washington insists. This is all about positioning.

Meet “mobile national sovereignty”

International law does not specifically forbid reclamation at sea. What China is applying is a quite audacious, self-described “blue soil” strategy. Vietnam, Malaysia and even the Philippines had been carrying out reclamation in the South China Sea for a while. China arrived later, but in full force – building airstrips, lighthouses, garrisons in neglected or abandoned islets in the Spratlys and the Paracels. Once again, this is all about energy; to harness an astonishing unexplored wealth of 10 billion barrels of oil and 30 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

In its search for energy, Beijing is focusing a significant part of its strategy on areas already identified, for instance, by PetroVietnam. And it’s using a game-changer: the HYSY 981 mobile deepwater drilling rig, which the chairman of CNOOC, Wang Yilin, describes as a “strategic weapon” that is part of China’s “mobile national sovereignty”.

President Xi Jinping has emphasized over and over again that China will not militarize any reclaimed land. Yet the Pentagon’s insistence on those innocuous “freedom of navigation” operations coupled with USAF overflights can only be interpreted as provocations leading to further militarization.

The Pentagon has never been accused of being geopolitically savvy. Their planners after all fail – or prefer to fail – to see that China’s island building, in the long run, is all about finding enough oil and gas to perform an “escape from Malacca”, a central plank of Beijing’s energy strategy. Beijing would rather have enough energy closer to home, in the South China Sea, than having its fleet of tankers at the mercy of the US Navy crossing the Strait of Malacca non-stop.

No one knows how the removal of the US weapons sale embargo on Vietnam will result in practice. In Southeast Asian cooperation terms, it might be useful to observe the actions of Singapore – that trade/services hub doubling as a US aircraft carrier parked by the Strait of Malacca. Singapore happens to perform a superb balancing act between Washington and Beijing. Russia, by the way, is also officially neutral on all matters South China Sea.

Japan protests Beijing’s warships approaching disputed islands in E. China Sea http://on.rt.com/7eyn 

China is the top trading partner of the overwhelming majority of Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia nations. It is a prominent member of the East Asia Summit. It is driving its own, Asian-based response to the Obama administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pet project; the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Beijing knows that the “principled security network” proposed by lame duck Pentagon head Ash Carter in Singapore has no chance whatsoever of becoming a Southeast Asian NATO. 
What this all means is that the notion of an “isolated” China does not even qualify as a bad joke told at a stuffy Council on Foreign Relations meeting.

And that brings us back to what happens after the arbitration in The Hague. Something very Asian; Beijing and Manila will sit down again and try to reach a deal, without ever bothering to refer to the ruling. Face will be saved on both sides. China will continue to go mobile – in search of all that oil and gas.

And count on the Pentagon to continue its meddling.


PepePepe 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. 

Kill List: Smashing the ‘B’ in BRICS

From the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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BRICS

Originally published in Sputnik on June 7, 2016

 


The stakes could not be higher. Not only the future of the BRICS, but the future of a new multipolar world is in the balance. And it all hinges on what happens in Brazil in the next few months.

Let’s start with the Kafkaesque internal turmoil. The coup against President Dilma Rousseff remains an unrivalled media theatre/political tragicomedy gift that keeps on giving. It also doubles as a case of information war converted into a strategic tool of political control. 

From left in front row: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Chinese President Xi Jinping walk for a plenary session during the summit in Ufa, Russia, Thursday, July 9, 2015

© AP PHOTO/ IVAN SEKRETAREV

Brazil’s Dilma Faces Coup: ‘Say Goodbye to BRICS, Say Hello to Washington’

A succession of appalling audio leaks has revealed that key sectors of the Brazilian military as well as selected Supreme Court justices have legitimized the coup against aPresident that has always protected the two-year-old Car Wash corruption investigation. Even Western mainstream media was forced to admit that Dilma did not steal anything but is being impeached by a bunch of thieves. Their agenda; to stifle the Car Wash investigation, which may eventually throw many of them in jail.

The leaks also unveiled a nasty internecine carnage between Brazilian comprador elites — peripheral and mainstream. Essentially the peripherals were used as lowly paperboys in Congress for the dirty work. But now they may be about to become road kill – along the illegitimate, unpopular, interim Michel Temer “government”, led by a bunch of corrupt-to-the-core PMDB politicians, the party that is heir to the sole opposition outfit tolerated during the 1960s-1980s military dictatorship.  

Meet the vassal chancellor

An insidious character in the current golpeachment scam is the interim Minister of Foreign Relations, senator Jose Serra of the PSDB party, the social democrats turned neoliberal enforcers. In the 2002 presidential election – which he lost to Lula — Serra had already tried to get rid of peripheral Brazilian oligarchies. 

Yet now he’s incarnating another role — perfectly positioned not only to retrograde Brazilian foreign policy to some point around the 1964 military coup, but mostly as the Beltway’s point man inside the coup racket.

Exceptionalistan’s key ally in Brazil is the oligarchy in Sao Paulo, the wealthiest state and home to the financial capital of Latin America. This is Brazil’s A-list. It’s from their ranks that an eventual “national savior” may eventually spring up.   

Once the peripherals are history, then no holds would be barred to criminalize – and imprison – an array of leftist leaders, Lula included, as well as manufacture a fake election legitimized by a noxious Supreme Court justice, Gilmar Mendes, a PSDB stooge.

It all hinges on what happens in the next two months. The prosecutor general finally asked the Supreme Court to throw three top peripherals in jail; they are all accused of plotting to derail the Car Wash investigation — an extremely complex juridical-political-police network of myriad concentric/parallel circles.   

 

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff delivers a speech on May 8, 2015, during a ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany during World War II

© AFP 2016/ EVARISTO SA

Leaked Tapes Expose Coup Plot Against Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff

Meanwhile, the final judgment of Dilma’s impeachment at the Senate is bound to happen on August 16 – 11 days after the start of the Olympic Games. The coup plotters suffered a heavy blow as they were trying hard to accelerate the proceedings. As it stands, the outcome is uncertain; after the leaks, four to five senators are already wavering, as the leaks also implicate Temer personally. The “leader” of a zero-credibility, corruption-crammed scam, he’s among the targets of several corruption investigations and has just been banned from running to political office for the next 8 years.  

The Brazilian mainstream media monopoly (five families) – popularly referred to as PIG, the Brazilian acronym for Pro-Coup Media Party – has changed its anti-left tune and is now also going after selected members of the Temer racket.

According to the constitution, if both the Presidency and Vice-Presidency are vacated in the last two years of a given term, it’s up to Congress to elect the new President.

This implies two possible scenarios. If Dilma is not impeached, it’s increasingly likely she will call for new presidential elections before the end of the year.

If she is impeached, the PIG will tolerate the stooge-crammed Temer interim racket until January 2017 at the most. The next step would be what Serra and about-to-be-jailed Senate leader Renan Calheiros are campaigning for; the end of direct presidential elections and the onset of Brazilian-style parliamentarianism.

 

Michel Temer joined by allies Renan Calherios, Romero Juca, and Henrique Meirelles

© AP PHOTO/ ERALDO PERES

'The Great Destruction': Brazil's New Elite Drowning in Graft Allegations

The man best positioned to be the national savior in this case is former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso – also former “Prince of Sociology” and a major star (during the 1960s and early 1970s) of the dependency theory, then metamorphosed into an avid neoliberal. Cardoso is a very close pal of both Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. The Beltway/Wall Street axis loves him. Cardoso would be “elected” mostly by the pack of Congress hyenas who got the Dilma impeachment rolling on April 17.  

The hard node of golpeachment goes way beyond peripheral Brazilian elites. It is comprised of a political party (the PSDB); the Globo media empire; the Federal Police (very cozy with the FBI); the Public Ministry; most of the Supreme Court; and sectors of the military. Only the Beltway/Wall Street axis has the means and the necessary pull to regiment all these players – by hard cash, blackmail or promises of glory.  

And that ties in with key unanswered questions regarding the recent audio leaks. Who taped the conversations. Who leaked them. Why now. Who profits from a nation in total political/economic/juridical chaos, with virtually all institutions totally discredited.  

Neoliberalism or chaos

Those were the days when Washington could mastermind, with impunity, an old-fashioned military coup in its backyard – as in Brazil 1964. Or as in Chile during the original 9/11 – in 1973, as seen through crack Chilean film maker Patricio Guzman’s moving documentary about Salvador Allende.

History, predictably, now repeats itself as farce as the 2016 coup has turned Brazil – the 7th largest economy in the world and a key Global South player – into a Honduras or Paraguay (where recent US-supported coups were successful).  

I have shown how the coup in Brazil is an extremely sophisticated Hybrid War operation going way beyond unconventional warfare (UW); four generation warfare (4GW); color revolutions; and R2P (“responsibility to protect”), all the way to the summit of smart power; a political-financial-judicial-mainstream media soft coup unveiled in slow motion. This is the beauty of a coup when promoted by democratic institutions.   

 

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) speaks during a meeting against imperialism in Caracas, in this March 25, 2015 handout picture provided by Miraflores Palace

© REUTERS/ MIRAFLORES PALACE

First Brazil, Next Venezuela: Will the World See a Coup in Caracas?

Neoliberalism may have failed, as even the IMF research wing has concluded. But its rotten corpse still encumbers the whole planet. Neoliberalism is not only an economic model; it surreptitiously takes over the juridical realm as well. In another perverse facet of shock doctrine, neoliberalism cannot prevail without a juridical framework.

When constitutional attributions are redirected to Congress that keeps the Executive under control while generating a culture of political corruption. Politics is subordinated to economics. Companies engage in campaign financing and buy politicians to be able to influence the political powers that be.

That’s how Washington works. And that’s also the key to understand the role of former leader of the Brazilian lower house Eduardo Cunha; he ran a campaign financing racket out of Congress itself, controlling dozens of politicians while profiting from proverbially fat state contracts.

The Three Stooges in what I called the Provisional Banana Scoundrel Republic are Cunha, Calheiros and Temer. Temer is a mere puppet while Cunha remains a sort of shadow Prime Minister, running the show. But not for long. He’s already been suspended as the speaker in Congress; he bagged millions of US dollars in kickbacks for those fat contracts and stashed the loot in secret Swiss accounts; now it’s a matter of time before the Supreme Court has the balls – it’s not a given — to throw him in the slammer.

NATO vs. BRICS, all across the spectrum

And that brings us once again to The Big Picture, as we proceed in parallel with an analysis by Rafael Bautista, the head of a decolonization study group in La Paz, Bolivia. He’s one of the best and brightest in South America who’s very much alert to the fact that whatever happens in Brazil in the next few months will drive the future not only of South America but the whole Global South.

Exceptionalistan’s project for Brazil is no less than the imposition of a remixed Monroe doctrine. The main target of a planned neoliberal restoration is to cut off South America from the BRICS – as in, essentially, the Russia-China strategic partnership.

It’s a short window of opportunity after all those years under the Bush-Obama continuum where Washington was obsessed with MENA (Middle East/Northern Africa), a.k.a. the Greater Middle East. Now South America is back in a starring role in the geopolitical (soft) war theatre. Getting rid of Dilma, Lula, the Workers’ Party, by all means available, is only the start. 

It all comes back to the same, defining 21st century war; NATO against the BRICS; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); and ultimately the Russia-China strategic partnership. Smashing the “B” in BRICS carries with it the bonus of smashing Mercosur (the South American common market); Unasur (the political Union of South American Nations); ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance); and South American integration as a whole, compounded with integration with key emerging Global South players such as Iran.

The ongoing destabilization of “Syraq” fits the Empire of Chaos; when there’s no regional integration, the only other possibility is balkanization. And yet Russia graphically demonstrated to Beltway planners they cannot win a war in Syria while Iran demonstrated after the nuclear deal that it won’t become a Washington vassal. So the Empire of Chaos might as well secure its own backyard.

A new geopolitical framework had to be part of the package. That’s where the concept of “North America” fits in, backed by the Council on Foreign Relations and devised mostly by former Iraq surge superstar David Petraeus and former World Bank honcho Bob Zoellick, now with Goldman Sachs. Call it a mini who’s who of Exceptionalistan.

You won't see it enounced in public, but the Petraeus/Zoellick concept of “North America” presupposes regime changing and gobbling up Venezuela. The Caribbean is seen as a Mare Nostrum, an American lake. “North America” is in fact a strategic offensive.

It implies controlling the massive oil and water wealth of the Orinoco and the Amazonas, something that would forever guarantee Exceptionalistan’s preeminence south of the border.

The Caribbean is already a done deal; after all Washington controls CAFTA. South America is a tougher nut to crack, roughly polarized by what’s left of ALBA and the US-driven Pacific Alliance. With Brazil falling to a neoliberal restoration, it’s over as a promoter of regional integration. Mercosur would eventually be absorbed into the Pacific Alliance – especially with a man like Serra as Brazil’s top diplomat. So, politically, South America must be annulled at all costs. 

What’s left for South America would be its aggregation — as marginal players, part of the US-driven Pacific Alliance — to those NATO on trade deals, the TPP and TTIP. The “pivot to Asia” – of which TPP is the trade arm — is the Obama doctrine’s push for containment of China, not only in Asia but also across Asia-Pacific. Thus it’s natural that China (Brazil’s number one trade partner) should also be contained in the hegemon’s backyard, South America.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, and beyond

It’s never enough to stress the geo-economic importance of South America. The only way South America can be fully integrated to the multipolar world is by opening up to the Pacific, boosting its strategic connection with Asia, especially China. That’s where the Chinese push to invest in a massive high-speed rail project uniting the Brazilian Atlantic coast with Peru in the Pacific fits in. That’s South American interconnectivity in a nutshell. If Brazil is politically annulled, none of this will ever happen.

Looking ‘Beyond South America’: Brazil Hopes to Become True Global Power

So every coup is now literally allowed in South America; indirect attacks to the Brazilian currency, the real; bribing local comprador elites with the backing of the global financial system; a concerted attempt at the implosion, simultaneously, of the top three economies: Brazil, Argentina andVenezuela. SOUTHCOM went so far as to produce a report on “Venezuela Freedom” earlier this year, signed by commander Kurt Tidd, which proposes a “strategy of tension”, complete with “encirclement” and “suffocation” techniques and allowing to mix street action with a “calculated” use of armed violence. Echoes of Chile 1973 do apply.   

South America is now arguably the prime geopolitical space where Exceptionalistan is laying the bases to restore its unrivalled hegemony — as part of a multi-dimensional, geo-finance war against the BRICS bent on perpetuating the unipolar world. 

All previous moves have lead to this geostrategy of imploding the BRICS and reducing South America to an appendix of North America.

Wikileaks revealed how the NSA spied on Petrobras. In 2008 Brazil came up with its own National Defense Strategy, focused on two key areas; the South Atlantic and the Amazon. This did not sit well with SOUTHCOM. Unasur should have developed it to a continental level, but they didn’t. 

Lula decided to award to Petrobras the prime exploitation of the pre-salt deposits – the largest oil discovery of the 21st century. Dilma’s administration gave a firm push to the BRICS’s New Development Bank (based on the Brazilian BNDES) and also decided to accept Iranian payments bypassing the US dollar. Anyone involved in South-South trade bypassing the US dollar enters a kill list.

Hillary Clinton is the presidential candidate of Wall Street, the Pentagon, the industrial-military complex and the neocons. She is the Goddess of War – and in a Bush-Obama-Clinton continuum she will go to war against any player in the Global South that dares to defy Exceptionalistan.

So the die is cast. We will know for sure by the time there’s a new US President — and arguably a new, unelected Brazilian President — in early 2017. The geostrategic game though remains the same; Brazil must fall so BRICS-led integration must fall, and Exceptionalistan may concentrate all its firepower in an all-out confrontation against Russia-China. 


PepePepe 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. 

The Pentagon’s Great Wall of Impotence

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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gunboat

Originally published in RT on June 7, 2016

 


No one ever lost money betting on the Pentagon refraining from exceptionalist rhetoric.

Once again the current Pentagon supremo, certified neocon Ash Carter, did not disappoint at the Shangri-La Dialogue – the annual, must-go regional security forum in Singapore attended by top defense ministers, scholars and business executives from across Asia.

Context is key. The Shangri-La Dialogue is organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which is essentially a pro-Anglo-American think tank. And it takes place in the privileged aircraft carrier of imperial geostrategic interests in South East Asia: Singapore.  

As expressed by neocon Carter, Pentagon rhetoric – faithful to its own estimation of China as the second biggest “existential threat” to the US (Russia is first) – revolves around the same themes; US military might and superiority is bound to last forever; we are the “main underwriter of Asian security” for, well, forever; and China better behave in the South China Sea – or else.

This is all embedded in the much ballyhooed but so far anemic“pivoting to Asia” advanced by the lame duck Obama administration – but bound to go on overdrive in the event Hillary Clinton becomes the next tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  

Real threats are predictably embedded in the rhetoric. According toCarter, if Beijing reclaims land in the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, “it will result in actions being taken by the both United States and … by others in the region.”

What’s left for China, in Pentagonese, is just to be a member of a hazy “principled security network” for Asia – which will also help protect the East against “Russia’s worrying actions”. Carter mentioned "principled" no less than 37 times in his speech. “Principled” cheerleaders so far include Japan, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Australia.

So here’s an instant translation: we do a NATO in Asia; we control it; you will answer to us; and then we encircle you – and Russia – for good. If China says no, that’s simple. Carter proclaimed Beijing will erect a "Great Wall of self-isolation" in the South China Sea.

If this is the best Pentagon planners have to counteract the Russia-China strategic partnership, they’d better go back to the classroom. In elementary school.  

Navigate in freedom, dear vassals

Predictably, the South China Sea was quite big at Shangri-La. The South China Sea, the throughway of trillions of US dollars in annual trade, doubles as home to a wealth of unexplored oil and gas. Stagnated and increasingly irrelevant Japan, via its Defense Minister Gen. Nakatani, even advanced the Japanese would help Southeast Asian nations build their “security capabilities” to deal with what he called “unilateral” and “coercive” Chinese actions in the South China Sea. Cynics could not help to draw similarities with Imperial Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

The Beijing delegation kept its cool – to a point. Rear Admiral Guan Youfei stressed, “The US action to take sides is not agreed by many countries.” Youfei – the head of the Chinese office of international military cooperation – did not refrain though from condemning a “Cold War mentality” by the usual suspects.

As for Japan, China’s Foreign Ministry detailed that “countries outside the region should stick to their promises and not make thoughtless remarks about issues of territorial sovereignty.” Japan has absolutely nothing to do with the South China Sea.

Beijing’s reclamation work on reefs in the South China Sea naturally put it in direct conflict with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. So US meddling – under the convenient cover of “freedom of navigation” – had to be inevitable.“Freedom of navigation” operations are a silly intimidation game in which a US Navy ship or plane passes by a Chinese-claimed island in the South China Sea.

It was up to Admiral Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of China's Central Military Commission, to cut to the chase, stressing "the provocation of certain countries" and adding that "selfish interests" have led to the South China Sea issue becoming "overheated". He slammed the Pentagon for double standards and “irresponsible behavior”. And he slammed the Philippines for taking the conflict to a dubious UN arbitration court after breaching a bilateral agreement with China; "We do not make trouble but we have no fear of trouble."

U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter meets with South Korea's Minister of Defence Han Minkoo (R) and Japan's Minister of Defence Gen Nakatani for a trilateral at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 4, 2016. © Reuters

U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter meets with South Korea's Minister of Defence Han Minkoo (R) and Japan's Minister of Defence Gen Nakatani for a trilateral at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 4, 2016. © Reuters

The Chinese position prefers dialogue and cooperation – and Jianguo re-stressed it, calling for ASEAN to make a move. In fact China has already reached what is called a four-point consensus with Brunei, Cambodia and Laos on the South China Sea two months ago. The Philippines are a much harder nut to crack – as the Pentagon is taking no prisoners to lead Manila “from behind”.

Even Vietnam, via Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh, made it clear – in the same plenary session as Admiral Jianguo – that Vietnam prefers solutions via the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as negotiation between China and ASEAN.

Bend over to our rules – or else

After Shangri-La’s rhetorical excesses, the action moved to Beijing, the site of the 8th China-US Strategic and Development Dialogue. That’s the annual talkfest launched in 2009 by Obama and then Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang painted a rosy picture, stressing the exchange of “candid, in-depth views on important and sensitive issues of shared concern.” Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai once again needed to point out that the relationship is just "too important" to be "hijacked" by the South China Sea. And yet this is exactly the Pentagon’s agenda.

Beijing though won’t be derailed. As State Councilor Yang Jiechi put it, ASEAN-China dialogue is progressing via what Beijing calls the “dual-track” approach, according to which disputes are negotiated between the parties directly involved. That implies no Washington interference.

Beyond what is discussed either at Shangri-La or at the China-US dialogue, the Big Picture is clear. ‘Exceptionalistan’ planners have molded a narrative where China is being forced to make a choice; either you bend over to “our” rules – as in the current unipolar geostrategic game – or else.

Well, Beijing has already made its own choice; and that entails a multipolar world of sovereign nations with no primus inter pares. The Beijing leadership under Xi Jinping clearly sees how the so-called international “order”, actually disorder, is a rigged system set up at the end of WWII.

Wily Chinese diplomacy – and trade – knows how to use the system to advance Chinese national interests. That’s how modern China became the “savior” of global turbo-capitalism. But that does not mean a resurgent China will forever comply with these extraneous “rules” – not to mention the morality lessons. Beijing knows ‘Exceptionalistan’ would not agree even to divide the spoils in a geopolitical spheres-of-influence arrangement. Plan A in Washington is containment – with possibly dangerous ramifications. There is no Plan B.

The bottom line – thinly disguised by the somewhat polite responses to Pentagon threats – is that Beijing simply won’t accept anymore a geopolitical disorder that it did not create. The Chinese could not give a damn to the New World Order (NWO) dreamed up by selected ‘Masters of the Universe’. Beijing is engaged in building a new, multipolar order. No wonder – alongside with strategic partner Russia – they are and will continue to be the Pentagon’s top twin threat.


PepePepe 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) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books.

A Hellfire from Heaven won’t Smash the Taliban

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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shutterstock_324965885-3

Originally published in Counterpunch on June 2, 2016

 


So Taliban supremo Mullah Mansour’s white Toyota Corolla was rattling across the Baluchestan desert just after it had crossed the Iranian border when a Hellfire missile fired from a US drone incinerated it into a charred / twisted wreck.

That’s the official narrative. The Pentagon said Mansour was on Obama’s kill list because he had become “an obstacle to peace and reconciliation.”

There’s way more to it, of course. Mansour was a savvy businessman who was extensively traveling to Dubai – the Taliban’s historic clearing house where all sorts of dodgy deals are made. He was also in close connection with Jundullah – a.k.a. the hardcore Sunni anti-Tehran militia very much active in Sistan-Baluchestan province in Iran.

This time Mansour was in Sistan-Baluchestan on a medical visit – allegedly to eschew hospitals in Pakistan heavily monitored by the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence]. Yet arguably Pakistan intel knew about it – so US intel also may have known about it and thus were able to track him.

But then there’s the real ace in the hole: the New Opium War.

The usual suspects in the Beltway insist that the Taliban profit handsomely from overseeing the opium trade out of Afghanistan –and now operate as a multi-billion-dollar drug cartel. That’s nonsense.

Bets can be made that Mansour’s kill will not reduce Afghanistan’s opium production – which has been steadily on the rise for years now. Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, Mansour’s former number two, has been designated as the new leader.

The fact is, poppy production in Afghanistan remains at the highest levels in provinces that are – in thesis – controlled by Kabul. More opium was produced last year – also in thesis the last year of NATO’s Enduring Freedom operation – than in any other year since the UN started tracking it way back in 2002. In 2016 Afghanistan will produce more opium – thus heroin – than the entire global consumption.

An inkling of what’s really going on in the New Opium War is provided by a recent book (in Italian) by Enrico Piovesana. He tells of shady military operations conducted by NATO in which massive quantities of opium have been sequestered by helicopter – never to be seen again.

So we’re back to the same old CIA opium rat line, which translates into control of the Afghan opium market in collusion with local police, military high brass in Kabul and the Karzai family, of former President a.k.a. «mayor of Kabul» Hamid Karzai. Doing business with narco traffickers has also handily provided liquidity – as in dirty money – to Western big banks. None of this has anything to do with the Taliban, which actually brought down opium production to near zero in 2001, before 9/11 and the American bombing/occupation of Afghanistan.

Those shadowy Af-Pak players

The first US drone strike ever in Baluchestan (another Obama «first») remains something of a mystery. A credible working hypothesis is that this was a covert US-Pakistani co-op. The hit allegedly came via the Pentagon, not the CIA. Mansour’s Corolla was something like 40 km inside Baluchestan after it had crossed the border – in an area where US drones would have been quite vulnerable to upgraded (in 2011) Pakistani air defenses.

A plausible – but unconfirmed – scenario would see RQ-170 Sentinels tracking Mansour’s Toyota, with the coordinates then fed to Reaper drones flying out of Kandahar airfield. Assuming the drones began tracking the Toyota at the Iran-Pakistan border, they would have been in action over Baluchestan air space for hours on end, undisturbed.

But then there are the incongruities. Pakistani sources mention that the Toyota – as in any real drone hit – was not totally smashed, but was still on its wheels. And a mysterious passport (Mullah Mansour’s) also showed up on the scene, unscathed.

As for the original HUMINT that led to Mansour’s trail, the notion that Washington had scored it stretches credulity. It would be more like a very well placed/rewarded asset somewhere – be it a military in Kabul or a disgruntled ISI operative.

What was Mansour really up to? He was quite savvy in playing for time. He clearly saw through the US «strategy» – which boiled down to encouraging Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to convince Islamabad to get the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Mansour though knew the Taliban could always advance militarily without negotiations; that’s why he duly announced the 2016 spring offensive – an annual Taliban ritual. At the same time he was very careful not to antagonize Islamabad so Taliban safe havens in Pakistan would not be compromised.

As far as what Islamabad is up to, that’s way hazier. Islamabad’s man in the Taliban succession was actually Sirajuddin Haqqani. After the death of his notorious father, Haqqani leads the homonymous network – which is very cozy with the ISI, arguably closer than the traditional Kandahar/Quetta Shura, a.k.a. the historic Afghan Taliban.

The new Taliban supremo will now have a handy window of opportunity to consolidate power. By early 2017 there will be a new US president, a new Pakistani army chief but the same Afghan so-called National Unity Government still disunited. The Taliban know what they want; be part of the government in Kabul, and get their cut in case the fractious Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline will ever be built. The more things change in Afghanistan, the more they hark back to two decades ago, during the second Clinton administration.

Meanwhile, former CIA asset, former pal of Osama bin Laden and still one of the US’s Public Enemies, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, defined by Washington as a «global terrorist» and the leader of the Hezbi Islami organization, is about to close a deal with Kabul.

Hezbi Islami is the second largest «insurgency» in Afghanistan. Most of the top brass have defected to the Taliban. Hekmatyar lives in exile somewhere in Pakistan; the ISI, of course, knows all about it. So if Ghani in Kabul can’t bag the Taliban, at least he bags a currently much smaller fish, Hekmatyar. Does it help? Not really. It will fall eventually to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – as in Russia-China joint leadership – to solve the Taliban riddle. Certainly not to Operation Enduring Freedom Forever – no matter the size of their kill list.


PepePepe 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).

Is China a House of Cards?

Xi Jinpenggc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Xi Jinpeng

Originally published in Sputnik on May 17, 2016

 


Let’s start by examining what the Dragon himself – President Xi Jinping – has to say about China being largely derided in influential Beltway circles as a House of Cards.

Xi has forcefully dismissed the notion that a House of Cards power struggle has been raging at the rarified heights of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Yet at the same time he’s adamant; “conspirators”, “careerists”, “cabals” and “cliques” are attempting to undermine the CCP from within.

Thus, with ironic/poetic justice, a 42-part series on corruption in China – titled In the Name of the People and financed by the Middle Kingdom’s top law enforcement agency – is bound to go live before the end of 2016, featuring a CCP stalwart as the bad guy (that’s a first). Call him the Chinese Frank Underwood.

This means that what Xi is saying – and acting — live will be mirrored on hundreds of millions of Chinese screens, pitting conflicting factions within the 88 million-member CCP. Xi’s war on corruption has produced a rash of severely disgruntled CCP officials – to put it mildly.

Xi not only is the Commander-in-Chief in the fight against corruption; he’s now Commander-in-Chief of China’s joint battle command center as well. He monitors a [Central Military Commission] Chairman Responsibility System as well as the central guard corps, which monitors the security of all other CCP heavyweights.

Add to these Xi’s status as CCP’s general secretary, chairman of the Central Military Commission, president of the national security commission and head of the top group for reform of the Chinese system, and a Harvard academic who refers to him as “the chairman of everything” does not seem to be that far off the mark. 

Yet even this awesome concentration of power does not mean that Xi is an unassailable deity. On the key drama – the state of the economy – it has emerged that in a recent interview by the People’s Daily with an anonymous “authoritative person”, printed on the front page and exposing deep economic divergence among the CCP leadership, the “authoritative person” in question was none other than Xi. 

He had to take to the key media read by anyone who’s anyone in China to press his point on how to fix China’s debt-ridden economy; low growth is OK, and the new normal; as for blind credit expansion/monetary easing, that’s not OK. Xi, once again, is adamant; it’s now or never to start a painful restructuring of the Chinese system.   

Beware the “nests of foreign spies”

Xi Jinping does wield astonishing power. There can’t be any other way. Imagine the man on top of a civilization-state of 5,000 years who needs, among myriad other crucial issues, to; tweak/manage an economic system that was successful for over 30 years but now needs to be upgraded; shift the system from export-led demand to domestic consumption; manage the aspirations – and broken dreams – of a vast working class including millions of newly unemployed; reorganize monster state-owned enterprises (SOEs); find ways to get rid of Himalayas of bad bank loans and “nonperforming” investments; downsize and at the same time vitally upgrade the Chinese military.

And if that was not enough, Beijing has to be fully alert 24/7 about all those non-stop Pentagon provocations – actual and rhetorical – centered in the South China Sea. 

Two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors are launched during a successful intercept test.

© FLICKR/ U.S. MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY

You’ve got to be alert. Full time. All the time. And be alert at “foreign hostile forces” or, more plainly, “nests of foreign spies” who want you to be mired in chaos. Thus the new law on NGOs operating in China. There are too many — over 7,000. And the (hidden) agenda for quite a few – from NED to the Soros gang — is to try to promote pure, unadulterated color revolution, as difficult as that may be in ultra-regimented China.

Yet it worked in Brazil – a BRICS weak link. The CCP leadership has carefully – and silently – understood the Brazilian lesson, and is fully aware that Exceptionalistan would stop at nothing to slow down China’s already spectacular global reach. So if you’re a NGO operating in China, from now on you need to find an official Chinese sponsor and register with local police. 

Back to the Chinese economy, the mantra across multiple, powerful Beltway factions is that a crash is imminent. Once again; the House of Cards theme. 

China’s total debt is now a whopping 280% of GDP. That includes the 115% that apply to SOEs’ debts; in Japan, for instance, that SOE figure is only 31%. Yet what really matters is that only a maximum of 25% of Chinese SOEs’ debts will need to be restructured. 

Xi’s strategy is that the Goddess of the Market will turbo-charge those SOEs, not kill them. So forget about the CPP handing out control of the Chinese economy to companies that the CCP itself does not control. No wonder what’s left for US Big Capital’s spokespersons is to carp about a House of Cards.

All eyes on 2021

It’s never enough to remind everyone that absolutely everything that’s happening in China now is subordinated to Xi’s official target of achieving “a moderately prosperous society” (xiaokang shehui) by the 100th anniversary of the CCP’s founding, in 2021.

That’s a mere five years from now. More long term, 2049, is the target of achieving a “socialist modernized society” (shehuizhuyi xiandaihua shehui) with a $30,000 GDP per capita; that should tie in with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 

Chinese People's Liberation Army cadets shout as they take part in a bayonet drills at the PLA's Armoured Forces Engineering Academy Base, on the outskirts of Beijing, China, July 22, 2014

Beijing’s army of planners estimate that this overwhelming target is achievable if the Middle Kingdom is able to produce over 30% of global GDP by 2049; for comparison, that’s about 1 and ½ times more than the proportion currently produced by the US (and considering that the US does not manufacture much apart from weapons and infotech.) 

As breathtaking as this vision may be, it’s always reduced by the same old catastrophist Western “experts” to variations of Xi being the new Mao Zedong. That’s so pedestrian. The men – and the historical contexts – are radically diverse. Mao decided on a few core issues by himself – and left the rest to his underlings. The Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping was a man of consensus. Xi decides by himself on virtually everything – but he does pay attention to some selected advisers. Examples include the Ministry of Trade, which first came up with the concept that developed into the New Silk Roads, and Liu He, the advisor who conceptualized Xi’s current economic strategy. 

The fact that Xi is now designated as the “core” (hexin) of the Beijing leadership is not such a big (Maoist) deal. The word in Beijing is that an assembly line of editors is now compiling a book of Xi thought (sixiang) that would make him as crucial as Mao as a contributor to Sino-Marxist theory. So what? Xi is a man in a rush, on a roll and with a mission – and 2021 is just around the corner. House of Cards? No; this looks more like a case of Xi landing a Full House on the table.  


PepePepe 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).and "Empire of Chaos" (Nimble Books, 2014). His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015. He currently lives between Paris and Bangkok. Follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pepe.escobar.77377

Dilma out: Brazilian plutocracy sets 54mn votes on fire

Dilma2gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Dilma2

Originally published in Russia Today on May 12, 2016


Never in modern political history has it been so easy to “abolish the people” and simply erase 54 million votes cast in a free and fair presidential election.

Forget about hanging chads, as in Florida 2000. This is a day that will live in infamy all across the Global South – when what was one of its most dynamic democracies veered into a plutocratic regime, under a flimsy parliamentary/judicial veneer, with legal and constitutional guarantees now at the mercy of lowly comprador elites.

After the proverbial marathon, the Brazilian Senate voted 55-22 to put President Dilma Rousseff on trial for “crimes of responsibility” – related to alleged window dressing of the government’s budget.

This is the culmination of a drawn-out process that started even before Rousseff won re-election in late 2014 with over 54 million votes. I have described the bunch of perpetrators of what Brazilian creativity has termed ‘golpeachment’ (a mix of coup – “golpe” in Portuguese – and impeachment) as Hybrid War hyenas.

Sophisticated golpeachment – supported by what amounts to an Electoral Inquisition College – has propelled Hybrid War to whole new levels.

 

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. © Ueslei MarcelinoHybrid war hyenas tearing Brazil apart – Pepe Escobar

Hybrid War as applied to Brazil exhibited classic elements of a color revolution. Of course there was no need for no-fly zones or humanitarian imperialism to “protect human rights” – not to mention provoking a civil war. But considering the high resistance level of the victim state, where civil society is very dynamic, Hybrid War designers in this case bet on a mix of capitulation – and betrayal – of local elites, mixed with “peaceful protests” and a relentless mainstream media campaign. Call it ‘Civil War Light.’

That carried with it a fabulous cost-benefit ratio. Now the (immensely corrupt) Brazilian political system and the current executive/legislative/judiciary/mainstream media alignment can be used by the usual suspects for their geopolitical agenda.

Welcome to regime change light – politics, in a nutshell – as war by other means on the BRICS. A new software, a new operating system. Carrying a pathetic corollary; if the US is the Empire of Chaos, Brazil has now gloriously reached the status of Sub-Empire of Scoundrels.

Scoundrels galore

Rousseff may be accused of serious economic mismanagement, and of being incapable of political articulation among the shark pool that is (immensely corrupt) Brazilian politics. But she is not corrupt. She made a serious mistake in fighting inflation, allowing interest rates to rise to an unsustainable level; so demand in Brazil dramatically dropped, and recession became the norm. She is the (convenient) scapegoat for Brazil’s recession.

She certainly may be blamed for not having a Plan B to fight the global recession. Brazil essentially works on two pillars; commodity exports and local companies relying on the teats of the state. Infrastructure in general is dismal – adding to what is described as the “Brazilian cost” of doing business. With the commodity slump, state funds dwindled and everything was paralyzed – credit, investment, consumption.    

The pretext for Rousseff’s impeachment – allegedly transferring loans from public banks to the Treasury in order to disguise the size of Brazil’s fiscal deficit – is flimsy at best. Every administration in the West does it – and that includes Clinton’s, Bush’s and Obama’s.

The Operation Car Wash investigation, dragging on for two years now, was supposed to uncover corruption in the Brazilian political system – as in the collusion of oil giant Petrobras executives, Brazilian construction companies, and political campaign financing. Car Wash has nothing to do with the golpeachment drive. Yet these have been two parallel highways converging to one destination: the criminalization of the Workers’ Party, and the definitive – if possible – political assassination of Rousseff and her mentor, former President Lula. 

When golpeachment reached the lower house of Congress – an appalling spectacle – Rousseff was eviscerated by Hybrid War hyenas of the BBC variety; “BBC,” in English, stands for “bullet,”“bible” and “cattle,” where “bullet” refers to the weapons and private security industry, “bible” to pastors and evangelical fanatics, and “cattle” to the powerful agribusiness lobby.

The “BBC” hyenas are members of almost all Brazilian political parties, paperboys for major corporations, and – last but not least – corruption stalwarts. They all benefited from millionaire political campaigning. The whole Car Wash investigation ultimately revolves around campaign financing, which in Brazil, unlike the US with its legalized lobbies, is a Tarantino-worthy Wild West.    

The Brazilian Senate is not exactly an “upper” – as in more polished – house. Eighty percent of members are white men – in a country where miscegenation rules. A staggering 58 percent is under criminal investigation – linked to Car Wash. Sixty percent hail from political dynasties. And 13 percent – as alternates – were not elected at all. Among those favoring impeachment, 30 out of 49 are in trouble with the law. Charges include mostly money laundering, financial crimes and outright corruption. Renan Calheiros, the president of the Senate – who oversaw today’s impeachment vote – is the target of no fewer than nine separate money laundering/corruption Car Wash lines of investigation, plus another two criminal probes. 

Meet the three Banana Republic amigos 

Rousseff is now suspended for a maximum 180 days while a Senate committee decides whether to impeach her for good. Enter President-in-Waiting Michel Temer – a dodgy, shady operator – who has been branded a “usurper” by Rousseff. And usurper this provincial Brutus certainly is – according to his own words. On March 30 last year, he was tweeting that,“Impeachment is unthinkable, it would create an institutional crisis. There is no judicial or political basis for it.” 

His administration is born with the original sin of being illegal and massively unpopular; his approval rating floats between an epic 1 percent and 2 percent. He was already fined last week for violating campaign finance limits. And, predictably, he’s drowning in a corruption swamp – named in two Car Wash plea bargains and accused of being part of an illegal scheme of ethanol buying; he may become ineligible for the next eight years. Almost 60 percent of Brazilians also want him impeached – on the same charges leveled against Rousseff. 

Members of Brazil's Senate react after a vote to impeach President Dilma Rousseff for breaking budget laws in Brasilia, Brazil, May 12, 2016. © Ueslei Marcelino

Members of Brazil's Senate react after a vote to impeach President Dilma Rousseff for breaking budget laws in Brasilia, Brazil, May 12, 2016. © Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Brutus 1 (Temer) would not bask in the glow of his 15 minutes of fame without the shenanigans of Brutus 2 (Brazil’s number one crook, former speaker of the lower house Eduardo Cunha, facing charges of bribery and perjury, holder of illegal Swiss accounts, and now finally sidelined by the Supreme Court). It was Brutus 2 who fast-tracked impeachment as pure vengeance; the Workers’ Party did not cover his back as he was facing a tsunami of corruption charges. Brutus 2 used all his vast powers – he runs a campaign financing scam inside Congress – to obstruct the Car Wash investigation. His replacement, the interim speaker, is also under investigation for bribery. 

So meet Temer, Cunha, Calheiros; these three amigos are the true stars of the Banana Republic of Scoundrels/Crooks. 

As if the Supreme Court would be rascal-free. Judge Gilmar Mendes, for instance, is a lowly plutocrat vassal. When an attorney for the government entered a motion to suspend impeachment, he quipped, “Ah, they can go to heaven, to the Pope, or to hell.” Another pompous judge received a request to sideline Cunha as early as December 2015. He only examined the request over four months later, when the whole golpeachment scam was in its decisive phase. And still he argued, “there’s no proof Cunha contaminated the impeachment process.” 

Finally, complementing the whole scam, we find Brazilian mainstream media, with the toxic Globo media empire – which lavishly profited from the 1964 military coup – at the forefront. 

All hail the neoliberal restoration  

Wall Street – as well as the City of London – could not hide its excitement with golpeachment, believing Brutus 1 Temer will be an economic upgrade. Arguably, he might dare to tweak Brazil’s Kafkaesque tax code and do something about the enormous hole in the pension system. But what that mythical entity – the “markets” – and myriad “investors” are salivating about is the prospect of fabulous rates of return in a reopened-for-speculation Brazil. The Brutus 1 game will be a neoliberal feast, actually a restoration, with no popular representation whatsoever.   

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. © Adriano Machado

Brazil senators vote to impeach President Rousseff for breaking budget laws

The golpeachment gang gets really incensed when they are identified as coup plotters. Still, they could not give a damn about the OAS, Mercosur, Unasur – all of them condemned the coup – not to mention the Holy Grail: the BRICS. Under Brutus 1, the Foreign Ministry, to be led by a sore loser senator, is bound to sink Brazil’s key role in BRICS cooperation, to the benefit of Exceptionalistan. 

All one needs to know is that neither Nobel Peace Prize-winner Barack “kill list” Obama nor Queen of Chaos Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton condemned the ongoing regime change light/golpeachment. That’s predictable, considering Exceptionalistan’s NSA spied on Petrobras and Dilma Rousseff personally – the genesis of what would develop as the Car Wash investigation. 

White House spokesman Josh Earnest limited himself to the proverbial platitudes: “challenging moment”“trust in Brazilian democratic institutions”; or even “mature democracy.” Yet he added, significantly, that Brazil is “under scrutiny.” 

Of course, the current stage of a very sophisticated Hybrid War strategy has been accomplished. But there are countless cliffhangers ahead. The Car Wash investigation – currently in slow motion – will pick up speed as a rash of dodgy plea bargains is already in store to create the conditions to criminalize for good not only Dilma Rousseff but the key piece in the chessboard: Lula. 

Game over? Not so fast. The anti-golpeachment front does have a strategy: to imprint especially in “deep Brazil,” the vast masses of the working poor, the notion of illegality; to rebuild Rousseff’s image as the victim of a profound injustice; to re-energize the progressive political front; to make sure the Brutus 1 government will fail; and to create the conditions for the man who will come in from the cold to win the 2018 presidential elections. 

Brazilian House of Cards? Bets could be made this may even end up as Anaconda, with Lula immobilizing the Hybrid War hyenas in a cobra clutch.


PepePepe 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).

The New Normal: Cold War 2.0

New Normalgc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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New Normal

Originally published in Sputnik on May 6, 2016

 


We are all living in Hybrid War time. From R2P (“responsibility to protect”) to color revolutions, from currency attacks to stock market manipulations.

From judicial-financial-political-media enabled “soft” coups – as in Brazil – to support for “moderate” jihadis, multiple stages of Hybrid War now cross-pollinate and generate a vortex of new mutant viruses.

 

From left, Norwegian support vessel Valkyrien, Belgian mine-hunter Belis, Norwegian minesweeper Otra, Dutch mine-hunter Makkum and Estonian mine-hunter Admiral Cowen form a convoy during a NATO deployment in the Baltic Sea along the German Coast, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

© AP PHOTO/ GERO BRELOER

Hybrid War, a Beltway concept, has even been turned upside down by the conceptualizers. NATO, affecting puzzlement at the very existence of the concept, interprets the Russian “invasion” of Ukraine as Hybrid War. That serves prime Hybrid War purveyors such as the RAND corporation to take it further, peddling war game scenarios of Russia being able to invade and conquer the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — in less than 60 hours.

And that, in turn, foments even more Western military hysteria, encapsulated by the new NATO commander, a.k.a. Dr. Strangelove; Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who made sure he would come up with a stage entrance worthy of his predecessor, Philip Breedlove/ Breedhate. 

Slightly amused at the whole conceptual circus, Russians respond with actions. Extra deployments in our Western borderlands? No problem; here’s your asymmetrical answer. And say hello, soon, to our new toy: the S-500s.

What Hillary wants

The notion that Moscow would have any interest at all to capture Baltic states is ludicrous in itself. But with the evidence of direct occupation of Afghanistan (the Taliban will never quit) and R2P in Libya (a failed state devastated by militias) spelling miserable failure, NATO badly needs a “success”. Enter warmongering rhetoric and conceptual manipulation – and this when it’s actually Washington that is deploying Hybrid War all across the chessboard.

US Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti

© AP PHOTO/ CAROLYN KASTER, FILE

Reality occurs beyond NATO’s looking glass. Russia is way ahead of the Pentagon/NATO in A2AD — anti-access/area denial; Russian missiles and submarines may easily prevent NATO fighter jets from flying in Central Europe and NATO ships from “patrolling” the Baltic Sea. For the “indispensable nation”, that hurts – so bad.

Relentless rhetorical hysteria masks the real high-stakes game in play. And that’s where US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton fits in. Throughout her campaign, Clinton has extolled “a major strategic objective of our transatlantic alliance”. The major “strategic objective” is none other than the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – a NATO-on-trade complementing political and military NATO.

The fact that TTIP, after the latest Dutch leaks, now runs the risk of being mired in Walking Dead territory may be a temporary setback. The imperial “project” is clear; to configure NATO, which already mutated into a global Robocop (Afghanistan, Libya, Syria), into an integrated political-economic-commercial-military alliance. Always under Washington’s command, of course. And including key peripheral vassals/contributors, such as the Gulf petromonarchies and Israel.

The imperial “enemy”, of course, would have to be the only authentic project available for the 21st century: Eurasia integration – which ranges from the Chinese-led New Silk Roads to the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union; BRICS integration, which includes their New Development Bank (NDB), in tandem with the Chinese Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); a resurgent, still independent Iran – Eurasia-connected; and all other independent poles among Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) nations. 

 

Activists stage mock talks as they demonstrate against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the USA outside the European Parliament at Luxembourg Place in Brussels on February 24, 2016.

This is the ultimate, ongoing 21st confrontation that will keep generating multiple, localized hybrid warfare forms – as it takes place not only across Eurasia but across the whole Global South. It’s all interlocked – from Maidan to the secret TTIP negotiations; from provoking China in the South China Sea to an oil price war and an attack on the ruble; from the NSA spying on Petrobras feeding a slow motion, legalistic regime change process in Brazil to an EU ravaged by twin plagues; a refugee crisis ultimately provoked by NATO’s wars (and instrumentalized by Turkey) coupled with Salafi-jhadi terrorism also spawned by the same wars. 

Even with France and Germany still dithering – as in paying too heavy a price for sanctions on Russia — Washington’s “project” counts on a ravaged EU being a perpetual hostage of NATO. And ultimately, a hostage of NATO on trade – because of those US geostrategic imperatives against Eurasia integration. 

This implies another necessity; the conceptual war – it’s the evil Russians who are waging Hybrid War, not us! —  must be won at all costs, by instilling constant fear into the average EU citizen. In parallel, it’s also essential to put on a show; thus one of the most massive US-designed military operations on European soil since the end of the Cold War – complete with Navy and Air Force displaying nuclear capability. 

This is the new normal; Cold War 2.0, 24/7.  

 


PepePepe 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).

NATO on trade, in Europe and Asia, is doomed

stop TTIPgc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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stop TTIP

Originally published in RT on May 4, 2016

 


The President of the United States (POTUS) is desperate. Exhibit A: His Op-Ed defending the Asian face – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – of a wide-ranging, twin-headed NATO-on-trade “pivoting”.

The European face is of course the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

POTUS frames TPP – as well as TTIP – in terms of a benign expansion of US exports, and private (US) firms having “a fair shot at competing against state-owned enterprises.” “Fair”? Not really. Let’s see how the mechanism works, focusing on TPP’s European twin.

With impeccable timing, almost simultaneously to Obama’s Op-Ed, Greenpeace Netherlands leaked 248 pages of classified TTIP documents that were to be re-discussed last week by negotiators in New York. There have been no less than 13 rounds of TTIP negotiations so far, over nearly three years.

The documents – negotiated in total secrecy since 2013 – represent roughly two-thirds of the latest negotiating text. An array of detailed studies, like this one, had been warning about the state of play. The veil of secrecy ended up being the ultimate giveaway to TTIP’s toxicity. Before the Greenpeace Netherlands leak, EU elected representatives could only examine these documents under a police watch, in a secure room, without access to experts, and on top of it they could not discuss the content with anyone else.

I will crush you with my GMOs

Everything civil society across Europe – for at least three years – has been debating, and fearing, is confirmed; this is a sophisticated, toxic US-led corporate racket, a concerted assault across the spectrum, from the environment and animal welfare to labor rights and internet privacy. In a nutshell; it’s all about the US corporate galaxy pushing the EU to lower – or abase – a range of consumer protections.

Hardball, predictably, is the name of the game. Washington no less than threatened to block EU car exports to force the EU to buy genetically engineered fruits and vegetables. In my travels in France, Italy and Spain over the past two years, I confirmed this to be the ultimate nightmare expressed by practitioners of top-end artisanal agriculture.

Read more

Protesters hold a placard with pictures depicting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama as they demonstrate against Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement ahead of Obama's visit in Hanover, Germany April 23, 2016. © Kai Pfaffenbach

TTIP-off? Greenpeace leaks confirm protesters weren't kicking up a fuss over nothing

Predictably, the lobbyist-infested European Commission (EC) fiercely defends TTIP, stressing it could benefit the EU’s economy by $150 billion a year, and raise car exports by 149 percent. Obviously don’t expect the EC to connect these “car exports” to a US-led GMO invasion of Europe.

At least some nations have finally woken up from their (corporate lobbyist-induced) slumber. The French Minister for Foreign Trade, Matthias Fekl, said negotiations over a “bad deal” should stop. He went straight to the point, blaming Washington’s intransigence; “There cannot be an agreement without France and much less against France.

Perennially ineffectual President Francois Hollande, for his part, has threatened to block the deal altogether. Three years ago Paris had already secured an exemption for the French film industry not to be gobbled up by Hollywood. Now it’s also about the crucial agriculture front. Hollande said he would never accept “the undermining of the essential principles of our agriculture, our culture, of mutual access to public markets.”

And what is the EC – leading the negotiations on behalf of the EU – doing? Pulling its predictable Trojan horse act; these are all “alarmist headlines” and “a storm in a teacup”. Puzzled EU citizens, en masse, may question if this is really the way for the EC – a bureaucratic Brussels behemoth – to supposedly defend the rights of EU consumers. Yet, infiltrated as it is by corporate lobbyism, the EC simply can’t protect the EU’s environmental and health standards, much more sophisticated than the US’s, from a corporate America bent on meddling with the content of EU laws all along the regulatory line.

I got an offer you can’t refuse

POTUS was heavily campaigning for TTIP last month in Germany. POTUS still hopes he may have a deal in the bag before he leaves office in January 2017. White House spokesman Josh Earnest has tried to put on a brave face, saying the leaks will not have a "material impact" on the negotiations. Wrong; they will – as they are mobilizing public opinion all across the EU.

David Cameron, in the UK, is also in a bind. He’s fiercely pro-TTIP. But Obama has already warned; this means Brexit is a no-no. Club Med nations, for their part, are leaning against. All 28 EU member nations – plus the European Parliament – would have to ratify TTIP if a deal is eventually reached.

TPP, for its part, has been negotiated. But it has not been approved by the US Congress (nor by Pacific nations). The approval process has gone nowhere. In fact it will be up to either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Trump arguably is oblivious to TPP’s details; but considering the deal is being heavily championed by Obama, Trump may go against it.

A case can be made that both TPP and TTIP vow to distort markets, in Europe and Asia; prop up (US) monopolies; transfer jobs to slave labor markets (in the case of parts of Asia); trample on intellectual property rights (in the case of the EU); facilitate tax evasion; and ultimately transfer more wealth from the many to the 0.00001 percent.

And this leads us to how Hillary Clinton – the Wall Street/US establishment candidate – views both TPP and TTIP. Well, she supported both NAFTA and CAFTA, approved under Bill Clinton in the 1990s. As Secretary of State, she lobbied for the Panama trade deal. And, crucially, she has always treated the TPP as the “gold standard”. No wonder; this is the trade arm of the “pivoting to Asia” she’s been so fond of – a Pacific trade deal that excludes China, which happens to be the top trade partner of most Asian nations.

Moreover, those by now famous Goldman Sachs speeches are increasingly being seen as payments for services rendered (and promised) by Hillary Clinton to the 0,0001 percent, who are, of course, in favor of global corporate America expansion.

Yet it ain’t over till the November ballot sings. Hillary now faces serious scrutiny by working class voters in the US. So no wonder, in another flip-flopping masterpiece, she’s now leaning towards describing herself as opposing both TPP and TTIP.

Still, TPP at least may be approved during the post-election ‘lame-duck’ session of the US Congress. As for TTIP, it’s now mired in Walking Dead zone. Talk about what it takes for the Obama administration to imprint its trade “legacy” in the history books; to keep blackmailing Europeans and Asians alike as if it was just a lowly Mob extortion racket.  


PepePepe 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).

The Empire of Chaos Strikes Back

empire or-37243gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Brazilian Coupmeisters: Minister Moreira Franco, Vice President Michel Temer, and President Eduardo Cunha

Originally published in Strategic Culture on April 26, 2016

 


Soon after the impeachment motion against President Dilma Rousseff was approved in the Brazilian Congress by what I chose to call Hybrid War hyenas, President-in-Waiting Michel «Brutus» Temer, one of the coup’s articulators, dispatched a senator to Washington as special paperboy to deliver the news on the coup in progress. The senator in question was not on an official mission for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Brutus Temer was alarmed by global media reaction, which is increasingly interpreting what he’s doing – allied with Brutus Two, notoriously corrupt head of the lower house Eduardo Cunha – for what it is: a coup. 

The senator’s mission was allegedly to launch a PR offensive to counter the coup narrative, which is, according to Brutus One, «demoralizing Brazilian institutions».

Nonsense. The paperboy senator was sent to tell the US State Department that everything is proceeding according to plan.

In Washington, the paperboy senator mumbled, «we will explain that Brazil is not a banana republic». Well, it was not, but now, thanks to the Hybrid War hyenas, it is.

When you have a man holding 11 illegal bank accounts in Switzerland, listed in the Panama Papers, and already under investigation by the Supreme Court controlling the political destiny of a whole nation, you have a banana republic.

When you have a self-righteous provincial judge threatening to imprison former President Lula for a modest apartment and a ranch that he does not own, but at the same time is incapable of laying a finger on Brutus Two, alongside largely pompous Supreme Court judges, you have a banana republic.

Now compare Washington’s non-reaction with Moscow’s. The Russian Foreign Ministry, via the irrepressible Maria Zakharova, stressed the crucial BRICS partnership as well as the common Brazil-Russia positions within the G20. And Moscow made it clear that Brazil’s problems should be solved within «the constitutional legal framework and without any external interference».

Everyone knows what «external interference» means. 

Full Spectrum Dominance reloaded

I have been following the Brazilian coup-in-progress with a special emphasis on the US-backed/driven Hybrid Warfare bent on destroying «the neo-developmentalist project for Latin America – uniting at least some of the local elites, invested in developing internal markets, in association with the working classes». The key Hybrid War objective in this case is to install a neoliberal restoration.

Obviously the key target had to be Brazil, a BRICS member and the 7th largest economy in the world.

Imperial hacks go straight to the point when listing the Hybrid War tools and aims of what the Pentagon defined as Full Spectrum Dominance way back in 2002. So, «US power flows from our unmatched military might, yes. Anything that expands the reach of US markets – such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership in trade, for example – adds to the arsenal of US power. But in a deeper way, it’s a product of the dominance of the US economy».

Yet the US economy is far from dominant. What matters now is what drives «business away from America, or allow other nations to build a rival financial architecture that’s less encumbered by a smorgasbord of sanctions». 

«Rival financial architecture» has BRICS written all over it. And a «smorgasbord of sanctions» was not enough to make Iran cry uncle; Tehran will continue to practice a «resistance economy». Not by accident, two of the BRICS – Russia and China – as well as Iran, feature as the Pentagon’s top five existential threats, alongside nuclear-armed North Korea and, as the last lowly priority, «terrorism».

Cold War 2.0 is essentially about Russia and China – but Brazil is also a key player. Edward Snowden revealed how NSA spying was centered on Petrobras, whose proprietary technology was responsible for the largest oil discovery of the young 21st century; the pre-salt deposits. US Big Oil is excluded from its exploitation. That’s anathema; and that requires deployment of Hybrid War techniques inbuilt in Full Spectrum Dominance.

Brazilian comprador elites have been gleefully playing the game. Over two years ago JP Morgan analysts were already conducting seminars with neoliberal macro-economy enforcers preaching how to destabilize the Rousseff government. 

Industry, commerce, banking and agribusiness lobbies have ostensibly favored impeachment, as representing the end of the Lula-Dilma social democracy experiment. So it’s no wonder President-in-Waiting Brutus Temer made a comprehensive deal with Big Capital – including no limits for interests on public debt (way above the international norm); the relation between debt and GDP bound to go up; more expensive credit; and the corollary being cuts on health and education.

As far as Washington is concerned, and that’s bipartisan, it’s absolutely out of the question to allow an autonomous regional power in the South Atlantic, blessed with unrivalled eco-wealth (think the Amazon rainforest and all that water, coupled with the Guarani aquifer) and on top of it closely linked to key BRICS members Russia-China, which have their own strategic partnership.

The pre-salt factor is the cherry in the tropical cake. Out of the question for US Big Oil to allow Petrobras to have the monopoly of exploitation. And just in case, if need be, the US 4th Fleet is already in position in the South Atlantic.

One BRICS down, two to go

The Cheney regime-declared «war on terra» distracted the Empire of Chaos for too long. Now finally comes a – coordinated, global – chaos offensive. From Southwest Asia to South Asia, the Hybrid War dream would be some sort of Iraqi chaos to replace the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and Egypt – as the leading-from-behind Empire of Chaos is trying hard in Syria even though the Assad dynasty was a «secret» US ally for decades.

The Masters of the Universe above paperboy Obama decided to stab the House of Saud in the back – not necessarily a bad thing – over Iran; the prevailing wishful thinking was to have Iranian natural gas replacing Russian natural gas going to Europe, thus collapsing the Russian economy. Major fail.

Yet there’s still another option; the Qatari natural gas pipeline through Saudi Arabia and Syria, also replacing Russian natural gas to Europe. That remains the CIA chief goal in Syria – no matter what; Daesh, the phony Caliphate – this is all just propaganda.

The CIA is also keen on Saudi Arabia destroying the Russian economy through an oil price war – and they do not want that to stop; thus holding over the Saudis those famous 28 pages on 9/11 to keep the oil price war going.

The CIA has also been trying like mad to lure Moscow into a Syrian trap as in 1980s Afghanistan, and as they did with the Kiev coup, even to the extent of ordering the Turkish military, which is their agent, to shoot down a Russian Su-24. The «problem» is that the Kremlin did not bite the poisoned apple.

Way back in the 1980s, the mix of House of Saud unleashing their reserves along with the GCC petrodollar gang, driving the price of oil to $7 a barrel in 1985, together with the Afghanistan Vietnam op, ended up driving the USSR bankrupt. Arguably, the whole op was brilliant – in conception and execution; a Hybrid War of economics plus Vietnam. Now, «leading from behind», Dr. Zbig «Grand Chessboard» Brzezinski – Obama’s foreign policy mentor – is trying to pull off a similar trick.

But oops, we got a problem. The Beijing leadership, already preoccupied with tweaking the Chinese development model, clearly saw the Empire of Chaos’s effort to Divide and Rule (and Conquer) the entire world. If Russia went down, China would be next.

It was only, virtually yesterday, around 2010, when US intel regarded China as their major military threat, and were starting to move against the Middle Kingdom via the «pivoting to Asia». But suddenly the CIA realized that Moscow had spent a trillion dollars jumping two generations ahead in defensive and offensive missiles – not to mention submarines; the weapons of choice for WWIII.

That is when Russia was enthroned as the major threat. Carefully surveying the chessboard, the Beijing leadership then accelerated the alliance with Russia and the BRICS as an alternative force, creating an earthquake in Washington of absolutely devastating proportions.

Now, Beijing has deftly engineered the BRICS into play as a serious alternative power structure – with their own IMF, SWIFT payment system, and World Bank.

Beware the wrath of an Empire of Chaos scorned. That’s what’s in play now against the BRICS; Brazil under siege, the fall of South Africa, the weakness of India, China and Russia progressively surrounded. Hybrid War variations from Ukraine to Brazil, mounting pressure in Central Asia, the «Syraq» powder keg, all point to a concerted Full Spectrum Dominance offensive to break up the BRICS, the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership, and ultimately the New Silk Roads uniting Eurasia. Oil price wars, the ruble collapse, the refugee flood in the EU (caused by «erratic» Sultan Erdogan), 21st century Operation Gladio remixes all over, distract the masses against imaginary enemies while terrorism of the phony Daesh variety is manipulated as a sophisticated diversionist tactic.

It may be brilliant, even masterful, in its conception and in its execution, and it’s so flashy in a cinematic sense. But make no mistake; there will be blowback.


PepePepe 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).

Hybrid war hyenas tearing Brazil apart

Dilmagc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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DilmaBrazil's President Dilma Rousseff. © Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters​

Originally published in RT on April 19, 2016


The gloomy and repulsive night when the female president of the 7th largest economy in the world was the prey of choice fed to a lynch mob of hyenas in a drab, provincial Circus Maximus will forever live in infamy.

By 367 votes for and 137 against, the impeachment/coup/regime change-light drive against Dilma Rousseff cleared the Brazilian Congressional circus and will now go to the Senate, where a “special commission” will be set up. If approved, Rousseff will then be sidelined for 180 days and a low-rent tropical Brutus, Vice-President Michel Temer, will ascend to power until the Senate’s final verdict.

This lowly farce should serve as a wake-up call not only to the BRICS but to the whole Global South. Who needs NATO, R2P (“responsibility to protect”) or “moderate rebels” when you can get your regime change just by tweaking a nation’s political/judicial system?

The Brazilian Supreme Court has not analyzed the merit of the matter – at least not yet. There’s no solid evidence anywhere Rousseff committed a “crime of responsibility”; she did what every American President since Reagan has done – not to mention leaders all across the world: along with her vice-president, the lowly Brutus, Rousseff got slightly creative with the federal budget’s numbers.

The coup has been sponsored by a certified crook, president of the lower house Eduardo Cunha; reportedly the holder of several illegal accounts in Switzerland, listed in the Panama Papers and under investigation by the Supreme Court. Instead of lording over near-illiterate hyenas in a racist, largely crypto-fascist circus, he should be behind bars. It beggars belief that the Supreme Court has not launched legal action against Cunha. The secret of his power over the circus is a gigantic corruption scheme lasting many years, featuring corporations contributing to his and others’ campaign financing.

And that’s the beauty of a regime change-light/color revolution of Hybrid War when staged in such a dynamically creative nation such as Brazil. The hall of mirrors yields a political simulacrum that would have driven deconstructionists Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco, if alive, green with envy; a Congress crammed with fools/patsies/traitors/crooks, some of whom are already being investigated for corruption, has conspired to depose a president who is not under any formal corruption investigation – and has not committed any “crime of responsibility”.

The neoliberal restoration

Still, without a popular vote, the massively rejected tropical Brutus twins, Temer and Cunha, will find it impossible to govern, even though they would perfectly incarnate the project of the immensely arrogant and ignorant Brazilian elites; a neoliberal triumph, with Brazilian “democracy” trampled down six feet under.

It’s impossible to understand what happened at the Circus Maximus this Sunday without knowing there’s a gaggle of Brazilian political parties that are seriously threatened by the non-stop overspill of the Car Wash corruption investigation. To ensure their survival, Car Wash must be “suspended”; and it will, under the bogus “national unity” proposed by lowly Brutus Temer.

But first, Car Wash must produce a high-profile scalp. And that has to be Lula in jail – compared to which the crucifixion of Rousseff is an Aesop fable. Corporate media, led by the noxious Globo empire, would hail it as the ultimate victory, and nobody would care about Car Wash’s enforced retirement.

The 54 million-plus who voted for Rousseff’s reelection in 2014 voted wrong. The overall “project” is a government without vote and without people; a Brazilian-style parliamentary system, without bothering with pesky “elections” and crucially, including very“generous” campaign financing flexibility not bound to incriminate powerful companies/corporations.

In a nutshell, the ultimate aim is to perfectly “align” the Brazilian Executive, Legislative, Judiciary and corporate media interests. Democracy is for suckers. Brazilian elites remote controlling the hyenas know very well that if Lula runs again in 2018, he will win. And Lula has already warned; he won’t buy any “national unity” crap; he’ll be back in the streets fighting whatever illegitimate government pops up.

We’re now open for plundering

As it stands, Rousseff runs the risk of becoming the first major casualty of the NSA-originated, two-year-long Car Wash investigation. The President, admittedly an incompetent economic manager and lacking the right stuff of a master politician, believed that Car Wash – which practically prevented her from governing – would not reach her because she is personally honest. Yet Car Wash’s not so hidden agenda was always regime change. Who cares if in the process the nation is left on the verge of being controlled exactly by many of those indicted by the anti-corruption drive?

Lowly Brutus Temer – a vanity case version of Argentina’s Macri – is the perfect conduit for the implementation of regime change. He represents the powerful banking lobby, the powerful agribusiness lobby and the powerful federation of industries in Brazil’s economic leader, the state of Sao Paulo.

The neo-developmentalist project for Latin America – uniting at least some of the local elites, invested in developing internal markets, in association with the working classes – is now dead, because what may be defined as sub-hegemonic, or peripheral, capitalism is mired in crisis after the 2008 Wall Street-provoked debacle. What’s left is just neoliberal restoration. TINA (“there is no alternative”). This implies, in the Brazilian case, the savage reversion of Lula’s legacy; social policies, technological policies, the drive to globally expand large, competitive Brazilian companies, more public universities, better salaries.

In a message to the nation, Brutus Temer admitted as much; “hope”after impeachment will be absolutely swell for “foreign investment”, as in let them plunder the colony at will; back to the trademark history of Brazil since 1500.

So Wall Street, US Big Oil and the proverbial “American interests” win this round at the circus – thanks to the, once again proverbial, vassal/comprador elites. Chevron execs are already salivating with the prospect of laying their hands on the pre-salt oil deposits; that was already promised by a trusted vassal in the Brazilian opposition.

The coup goes on. The real hyenas haven’t yet pounced. So it's far from over.


PepePepe 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).

Welcome to ‘Walking Dead Europe’

Migrantsgc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Migrants

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.


PepePepe 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).

Dance to the Panama Papers ‘Limited Hangout’ Leak

putin gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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putin

Originally published in Telesur on April 5, 2016


Calling out around the world; time to put on your made in Ecuador Panama hat and frantically start dancing to the ultimate limited hangout leak.

And if you believe in the purity of intentions of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) at the center of the leak, I’ve got a made in Shenzhen Panama hat to sell you (disclosure: I never was, and never will be, a member of the ICIJ).

The Washington-based ICIJ gets its cash and its "organizational procedure" via the Exceptionalistan-based, Orwellian-named Center for Public Integrity. The funds flow mostly from the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Kellogg Foundation and the George Soros-owned Open Society.

Then there is Eastern Europe-based partner organization OCCRP, an even more Orwellian outfit self-styled as playing some sort of progressive, alternative media role. OCCRP is funded by Soros and USAID.

And finally there’s this fictional land named Panama – a certified U.S. vassal. Absolutely nothing of real substance happens in Panama without a green light by the United States government. Or, as an international tax lawyer told me, “you have to be an idiot to stash money in Panama. You cannot flush a toilet there without the Americans knowing about it.”

This sets the scene for the Panama Papers leak – a massive hoard of 11.5 million documents allegedly leaked from someone inside offshore heavies Mossack Fonseca to the center-left, NATO-friendly Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Munich and then shared by the ICIJ with selected mainstream media partners.

Even without a smoking gun, a case can be made this alleged most massive leak ever was obtained by – what else – U.S. intel. This is the kind of stuff the NSA excels at. The NSA is able to break into virtually any database and/or archives anywhere; they steal “secrets;” and then selectively destroy/blackmail/protect assets and “enemies,” according to USG interests.

Absolutely nothing of real substance happens in Panama without a green light by the United States government.

That’s the essence of a limited hangout sold to public opinion as a serious corruption investigation. And that’s where Western corporate media enters the scene, protecting whatever 0.00000001 percent honcho is caught in the net, as well as sacrificing some disposable pawns.

So we have over 300 reporters pouring over hundreds of thousands of document/files for over an interminable year with, miraculously, no leaks whatsoever; just for a bunch of corporate mainstream media hacks meticulously cherry picked stories and decide what is “newsworthy." Western alternative media would have investigated the data without sparing anyone; but it would be out of the question to grant them access.

What’s already certain is that the full extent of the Panama leak will never be known. Even the by now exceedingly pathetic The Guardian admitted, on the record, that "much of the leaked material will remain private". Why? Because it may – inadvertently and directly – implicate a gaggle of Western 0.00000001 percent multibillionaires and corporations. All of them play the offshore casino game (although not necessarily in Panama.)

So the Panama Papers, stripped to the bone, may reveal themselves essentially as an infowar operation by the NSA – targeted mostly against “enemies” (as in the BRICS nations) and selected disposable pawns; a weaponized psyops posing as an 'activist leak', straight from the Hybrid War playbook.

Step on the Monster Truck

A who’s who of wealthy/powerful players has been directly targeted in the Panama Papers, from the – demented – King of Saudi Arabia to former Fiat/Ferrari stalwart Luca de Montezemolo, from Lionel Messi to (unnamed) Chinese Communist Party officials and the brother-in-law of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Extra-juicy element is provided by the presence of Alaa Mubarak – the son of the deposed Egyptian snake; Ayad Allawi, the butcher of Fallujah and former U.S. occupation prime minister; Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (a Saudi protégé, so he must get offshore advice as well); and Dov Weisglass, the butcher of Gaza and former advisor to Israeli Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert (this one already convicted of corruption.) These are all disposable.

We find in the list not only Middle Eastern racketeers but also the token “respectable” European – from Iceland’s Prime Minister (already forced to resign) to David Cameron’s father Ian. And some players that might be considered Exceptionalistan’s friends, such as vulture fund-friendly Argentina President Mauricio Macri and chocolate heavyweight cum Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has a lot of funds parked in the British Virgin Islands.

Predictably, particular emphasis is on BRICS members – from those mysterious Chinese to Indian companies. As far as Brazil is concerned, there may be a healthy counterpoint; the presence of notoriously corrupt leader of the lower house Eduardo Cunha; his Swiss accounts had surfaced after the HSBC leaks, now some more showed up on the Panama Leaks.

Still to be explained is a juicy Brazilian-related angle; whether the Panama Leaks are directly related to the fact that Ramon Fonseca, 50 percent of Mossack Fonseca, was dismissed as president of the Panameñista Party last month because of Operation Car Wash – which targets mostly the ruling Workers’ Party in Brazil. The Panama Papers are in fact a Monster Truck, global version of Car Wash.

Lula, predictably, is not on the Panama list – to the despair of the Exceptionalistan-supported regime changers in Brazil, many of them (media barons, bankers, businessmen) featured on the previous HSBC leaks. Regime-Changers-in-Chief, the Globo media empire, are also not on the Panama leaks, although they profit from a certified offshore racket.

Syria was always bound to be a key target. Much of Western corporate media “newsworthy” stories now focus on “Assad’s fixer” Rami Makhlouf, described in U.S. diplomatic cables as Syria’s “poster boy for corruption” and under U.S. sanctions since February 2008. Such a convenient target. Yet “poster boy” happened to be quite sheltered by HSBC as well.

Putin Did It

And so we finally get to the key target of Monster Truck (in Brazil’s Car Wash they are Lula and President Rousseff). It’s got the requisite BRICS angle and it’s a dream spin; cue to virtually every major Western corporate media headline blaring that Vladimir Putin has stashed US$2 billion offshore.

The problem is he didn’t. Putin is guilty by association because of his “close associates” Arkady and Boris Rotenberg’s alleged ties to money laundering. Yet three “incriminating” emails in the files happen not to “incriminate” them, or Putin.

And then there’s cellist Sergey Roldugin, a childhood friend of Putin’s. Here’s the – politically filtered – spin by the ICIJ:

“The records show Roldugin is a behind-the-scenes player in a clandestine network operated by Putin associates that has shuffled at least US$2 billion through banks and offshore companies. In the documents, Roldugin is listed as the owner of offshore companies that have obtained payments from other companies worth tens of millions of dollars. … It’s possible Roldugin, who has publicly claimed not to be a businessman, is not the true beneficiary of these riches. Instead, the evidence in the files suggests Roldugin is acting as a front man for a network of Putin loyalists – and perhaps for Putin himself.”

What about rephrasing it as, “the evidence in the files suggests Lionel Messi is acting as a frontman for a network of football loyalists trying to evade the rape of Argentina by U.S. hedge fund vultures friendly to new President and offshore account holder Mauricio Macri”?

The juiciest bit is that Moscow knew all along another Hybrid War offensive chapter was imminent, days if not weeks before Panama went viral.

Make America Great Again

Offshore bank accounts are not intrinsically illegal. Quite a few though involve dodgy money, or at least provide the euphemistic “low-tax environment” fundamental to the very wealthy.

It’s not an accident that the Panama Papers unveil connections to several dozen firms and individuals who are prominently featured in U.S. sanctions blacklists. That configures the Panama Papers as even more of a limited hangout; the real Papers would be the Cayman Papers or the Virgin Island Papers. That’s where most of the in-the-know park their money (not to mention Luxembourg). Adding to the hilarity factor, David Cameron suddenly woke up to the need to stop British overseas territories – and Crown dependencies – being used by the wealthy to park their untaxed fortune.

It’s never going to happen. The so-called international banking/financial system is a demented casino. It’s not only 8 percent; Hong Kong players tell me as much as 50 percent of global wealth may currently be parked, undisturbed, in untaxable offshore havens. If a fraction of these astonishing funds would be taxed, governments right and left would be paying their debts, investing in infrastructure, launching round after round of sustainable growth, and a productive spiral would be in motion.

And that leads us to the cherry in the corruption cake; how come there are no Americans in this limited hangout leak? Of course there are none. Panama is for suckers. Too obvious. Too rakish. Too crude. Ergo, forget about The Cayman Papers.

As for foreigners in-the-know, we just need to go back a mere three months ago to this Bloomberg piece, where Andrew Penney, Managing Director of Rothschild & Co., spells it all out; the U.S. “is effectively the biggest tax haven in the world.”

The circle is finally squared; Panama is revealed as the patsy – mere collateral damage in this limited hangout Monster Truck operation. Domestic tax haven providers, such as Rothschild, are the real deal. Make America great again? It already is – as the top tax shelter for hardcore dodgy money had to be…a monster Panama: Exceptionalistan itself. Now dance, suckers.


PepePepe 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).

Is There a US-Russia Grand Bargain in Syria?

Jetsgc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Jets

Originally published in Sputnik on March 17, 2016

 


It’s spy thriller stuff; no one is talking. But there are indications Russia would not announce a partial withdrawal from Syria right before the Geneva negotiations ramp up unless a grand bargain with Washington had been struck.

Some sort of bargain is in play, of which we still don’t know the details; that's what the CIA itself is basically saying through their multiple US Think Tankland mouthpieces. And that's the real meaning hidden under a carefully timed Barack Obama interview that, although inviting suspension of disbelief, reads like a major policy change document.

Obama invests in proverbial whitewashing, now admitting US intel did not specifically identify the Bashar al-Assad government as responsible for the Ghouta chemical attack. And then there are nuggets, such as Ukraine seen as not a vital interest of the US – something that clashes head on with the Brzezinski doctrine. Or Saudi Arabia as freeloaders of US foreign policy – something that provoked a fierce response from former Osama bin Laden pal and Saudi intel supremo Prince Turki.

Tradeoffs seem to be imminent. And that would imply a power shift has taken place above Obama — who is essentially a messenger, a paperboy. Still that does not mean that the bellicose agendas of both the Pentagon and the CIA are now contained.

Russian intel cannot possibly trust a US administration infested with warmongering neocon cells. Moreover, the Brzezinski doctrine has failed – but it’s not dead. Part of the Brzezinski plan was to flood oil markets with shut-in capacity in OPEC to destroy Russia.

That caused damage, but the second part, which was to lure Russia into an war in Ukraine for which Ukrainians were to be the cannon fodder in the name of “democracy”, failed miserably. Then there was the wishful thinking that Syria would suck Russia into a quagmire of Dubya in Iraq proportions – but that also failed miserably with the current Russian time out. 

The Kurdish factor

A Kurdish man waves a large flag of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)

© AFP 2016/ DELIL SOULEIMAN

Kurds Sign Declaration on Creating Federal Region in Northern Syria

Convincing explanations for the (partial) Russian withdrawal from Syria are readily available. What matters is that the Khmeimim air base and the naval base in Tartus remain untouched. Key Russian military advisers/trainers remain in place. Air raids, ballistic missile launches from the Caspian or the Mediterranean – everything remains operational. Russian air power continues to protect the forces deployed by Damascus and Tehran. 

As much as Russia may be downsizing, Iran (and Hezbollah) are not. Tehran has trained and weaponized key paramilitary forces – thousands of soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan fighting side by side with Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The SAA will keep advancing and establishing facts on the ground.

As the Geneva negotiations pick up, those facts are now relatively frozen. Which brings us to the key sticking point in Geneva – which has got to be included in the possible grand bargain.

The grand bargain is based on the current ceasefire (or "cessation of hostilities") holding, which is far from a given. Assuming all these positions hold, a federal Syria could emerge, what could be dubbed Break Up Light.

Essentially, we would have three major provinces: a Sunnistan, a Kurdistan and a Cosmopolistan.

Sunnistan would include Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, assuming the whole province may be extensively purged of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Kurdistan would be in place all along the Turkish border – something that would freak out Sultan Erdogan to Kingdom Come.

And Cosmopolistan would unite the Alawi/ Christian/ Druze/ secular Sunni heart of Syria, or the Syria that works, from Damascus up to Latakia and Aleppo.

 

Kurdish people carry flags as they march during a protest in the city of al-Derbasiyah, on the Syrian-Turkish border, against what the protesters said were the operations launched in Turkey by government security forces against the Kurds, February 9, 2016

© REUTERS/ RODI SAID

Syrian Kurds are already busy spinning that a federal Syria would be based on community spirit, not geographical confines.

Ankara’s response, predictably, has been harsh; any Kurdish federal system in northern Syria represents not only a red line but an “existential threat” to Turkey. Ankara may be falling under the illusion that Moscow, with its partial demobilizing, would look the other way if Erdogan orders a military invasion of northern Syria, as long as it does not touch Latakia province.

And yet, in the shadows, lurks the possibility that Russian intel may be ready to strike a deal with the Turkish military – with the corollary that a possible removal of Sultan Erdogan would pave the way for the reestablishment of the Russia-Turkey friendship, essential for Eurasia integration.

What the Syrian Kurds are planning has nothing to do with separatism. Syrian Kurds are 2.2 million out of a remaining Syrian population of roughly 18 million. Their cantons across the Syria-Turkey border —Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin – have been established since 2013. The YPG has already linked Jazeera to Kobani, and is on their way to link them to Afrin. This, in a nutshell, is Rojava province. 

The Kurds across Rojava – heavily influenced by concepts developed by imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan — are deep into consultations with Arabs and Christians on how to implement federalism, privileging a horizontal self-ruled model, a sort of anarchist-style confederation. It’s a fascinating political vision that would even include the Kurdish communities in Damascus and Aleppo.

Moscow – and that is absolutely key – supports the Kurds. So they must be part of the Geneva negotiations. The Russian long game is complex; not be strictly aligned either with Damascus or with the discredited “opposition” supported and weaponized by Turkey and the GCC. Team Obama, as usual, is on the fence. There’s the “NATO ally” angle — but even Washington is losing patience with Erdogan.

The geopolitical winners and losers

Only the proverbially clueless Western corporate media was caught off-guard by Russia’s latest diplomatic coup in Syria. Consistency has been the norm.

Russia has been consistently upgrading the Russia-China strategic partnership. This has run in parallel to the hybrid warfare in Ukraine (asymmetric operations mixed with economic, political, military and technological support to the Donetsk and Lugansk republics); even NATO officials with a decent IQ had to admit that without Russian diplomacy there’s no solution to the war in Donbass.

In Syria, Moscow accomplished the outstanding feat of making Team Obama see the light beyond the fog of neo-con-instilled war, leading to a solution involving Syria’s chemical arsenal after Obama ensnared himself in his own red line. Obama owes it to Putin and Lavrov, who literally saved him not only from tremendous embarrassment but from yet another massive Middle East quagmire.

 

Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft leave Hmeimim airbase in Syria

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY

Farewell to Arms: Real Results of Russia's Air Campaign in Syria

The Russian objectives in Syria already laid out in September 2015 have been fulfilled. Jihadists of all strands are on the run – including, crucially, the over 2,000 born in southern Caucasus republics. Damascus has been spared from regime change a la Saddam or Gaddafi. Russia’s presence in the Mediterranean is secure.

Russia will be closely monitoring the current “cessation of hostilities”; and if the War Party decides to ramp up “support” for ISIS/ISIL/Daesh or the “moderate rebel” front via any shadow war move, Russia will be back in a flash. As for Sultan Erdogan, he can brag what he wants about his “no-fly zone” pipe dream; but the fact is the northwestern Syria-Turkish border is now fully protected by the S-400 air defense system.

Moreover, the close collaboration of the “4+1” coalition – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – has broken more ground than a mere Russia-Shi’te alignment. It prefigures a major geopolitical shift, where NATO is not the only game in town anymore, dictating humanitarian imperialism; this “other” coalition could be seen as a prefiguration of a future, key, global role for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

As we stand, it may seem futile to talk about winners and losers in the five-year-long Syrian tragedy – especially with Syria destroyed by a vicious, imposed proxy war. But facts on the ground point, geopolitically, to a major victory for Russia, Iran and Syrian Kurds, and a major loss for Turkey and the GCC petrodollar gang, especially considering the huge geo-energy interests in play.

It’s always crucial to stress that Syria is an energy war – with the “prize” being who will be better positioned to supply Europe with natural gas; the proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, or the rival Qatar pipeline to Turkey that would imply a pliable Damascus.

Other serious geopolitical losers include the self-proclaimed humanitarianism of the UN and the EU. And most of all the Pentagon and the CIA and their gaggle of weaponized “moderate rebels”. It ain’t over till the last jihadi sings his Paradise song. Meanwhile, “time out” Russia is watching.

 


PepePepe 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).

Lula and the BRICS in a fight to the death

Lulagc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Lula

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva © Paulo Whitaker / Reuters

Originally published in RT on March 8, 2016


“BRICS” is the dirtiest of acronyms in the Beltway/Wall Street axis, and for a solid reason: the consolidation of the BRICS is the only organic, global-reach project with the potential to derail Exceptionalistan’s grip over the so-called “international community.”

So it’s no surprise the three key BRICS powers have been under simultaneous attack, on many fronts, for some time now. On Russia, it’s all about Ukraine and Syria, the oil price war, the odd hostile raid over the ruble and the one-size-fits-all “Russian aggression” demonization. On China, it’s all about “Chinese aggression” in the South China Sea and the (failed) raid over the Shanghai/Shenzhen stock exchanges.

Brazil is the weakest link among these three key emerging powers. Already by the end of 2014 it was  clear the usual suspects would go no holds barred to destabilize the seventh largest global economy, aiming at good old regime change via a nasty cocktail of political gridlock (“ungovernability”) dragging the economy to the mud.

Myriad reasons for the attack include the consolidation of the BRICS development bank; the BRICS’s concerted push for trading in their own currencies, bypassing the US dollar and aiming for a new global reserve currency to replace it; the construction of a major underwater fiber-optic telecom cable between Brazil and Europe, as well as the BRICS cable uniting South America to East Asia – both bypassing US control.

And most of all, as usual, the holy of the holies – connected with Exceptionalistan’s burning desire to privatize Brazil’s immense natural wealth. Once again, it’s the oil.

Get Lula or else

WikiLeaks had already exposed how way back in 2009 Big Oil was active in Brazil, trying to modify – by all extortion means necessary – a law proposed by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, establishing profitable state-run Petrobras as the chief operator of all offshore blocks in the largest oil discovery of the young 21st century; the pre-salt deposits.

Lula not only kept Big Oil – especially ExxonMobil and Chevron – out of the picture but he also opened Brazilian oil exploration to China’s Sinopec, as part of the Brazil-China (BRICS within BRICS) strategic partnership.

Hell hath no fury like Exceptionalistan scorned. Like the Mob, it never forgives; Lula one day would have to pay, like Putin must pay for getting rid of US-friendly oligarchs.

The ball started rolling with Edward Snowden revealing how the NSA was spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and top Petrobras officials. It continued with the fact that the Brazilian Federal Police cooperate, receive training and/or are fed, closely, by both the FBI and CIA (mostly in the anti-terrorism sphere). And it went on via the two-year-old “Car Wash” investigation, which uncovered a vast corruption network involving players inside Petrobras, top Brazilian construction companies and politicians from the ruling Workers’ Party.

Read more

The National Security Agency(NSA) at Fort Meade, Maryland. (AFP Photo)

NSA spied on Brazil, Mexico presidents – Greenwald

The corruption network is real – with “proof,” usually oral, rarely backed up by documents, obtained mostly from artful dodgers-cum-serial liars who rat on someone as part of a plea bargain.

But for the “Car Wash” prosecutors, the real deal was, from the beginning, how to ensnare Lula.

Enter the tropical Elliott Ness

That brings us to the Hollywood spectacular enacted last Friday in Sao Paulo that sent shockwaves around the world. Lula “detained,” interrogated, humiliated in public. This is how I analyzed it in detail.

Plan A for the Hollywood-style blitz on Lula was an ambitious double down; not only to pave the way for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff under a “guilty by association” stretch, but to “neutralize” Lula for good, preventing him from running for office again in 2018. There was no Plan B.

Predictably – as in many an FBI sting – the whole op backfired. Lula, in a political master class of a speech beamed live across the country, not only convincingly clad himself as the martyr of a conspiracy, but also re-energized his troops; even respectable conservatives vocally condemned the Hollywood show, from a minister in the Supreme Court to a former justice minister, as well as top economist Bresser Pereira, one of the founders of the PSDB – the former social democrats turned Exceptionalistan-allied neoliberal enforcers and leaders of the right-wing opposition.

Bresser actually stated the Brazilian Supreme Court should intervene on Car Wash to prevent abuses. Lula, for instance, had asked for the Supreme Court to detail which jurisprudence was relevant to investigate the accusations against him. Moreover, a lawyer on center stage during the Hollywood blitz said Lula answered all questions during the almost four-hour interrogation without blinking – questions he had already answered before.

Lawyer Celso Bandeira de Mello, for his part, went straight to the point: the Brazilian upper middle classes – which include a largely appalling lot wallowing in arrogance, ignorance and prejudice, whose dream is a condo in Miami – are fearful and terrified to death that Lula may run, and win again, in 2018.

And that brings us to the judge and executioner of the whole drama: Sergio Moro, Car Wash’s leading actor.

Moro’s academic career is hardly exciting. He’s not exactly a theorist heavyweight. He graduated as a lawyer in 1995 in a mediocre university in the middle of nowhere in one of Brazil’s southern states and made a few trips to the US, one of them financed by the State Department to learn about money laundering.

As I noted before, his chef-d’oeuvre is an article published way back in 2004 in an obscure magazine (in Portuguese only, titled Considerations about Mani Pulite, CEJ magazine, issue number 26, July/September 2004), where he clearly extols “authoritarian subversion of juridical order to reach specific targets” and using the media to intoxicate the political atmosphere.

In a nutshell, judge Moro literally transposed the notorious 1990s Mani Pulite (“Clean Hands”) investigation from Italy to Brazil – instrumentalizing to the hilt mainstream media and the judiciary to achieve a sort of “total delegitimization” of the political system. But not the whole political system; just the Workers’ Party, as if the comprador elites permeating Brazil’s rightwing spectrum were cherubic angels.

So it comes as no surprise that Moro’s prime sidekick as Car Wash unrolled is the Marinho family’s oligopoly, the Globo media empire – a nest of reactionary, and not very clever, vipers who entertained very cozy relations with the Brazilian military dictatorship from the 1960s to the 1980s. Not by accident, Globo was informed about Lula’s Hollywood-style “arrest” way before the fact, allowing it to invest in CNN-style blanket coverage.

Moro is viewed by legions in Brazil as an indigenous Elliot Ness. Other lawyers who have closely followed his work though hint he harbors the warped fantasy of a Workers’ Party as a mob leeching and plundering the state apparatus with the aim of delivering it, in pieces, to trade unions.

According to one of these lawyers who talked to Brazilian independent media, a former president of the Lawyers’ Association in Rio, Moro is surrounded by a bunch of young fanatical prosecutors, with little juridical knowledge, and posing as the Brazilian Antonio di Pietro (but without the solidity of the “Clean Hands” Milanese prosecutor). Worse, Moro is oblivious that the implosion of the Italian political system led to the rise of Berlusconi. In Brazil, it would certainly lead to the rise of a clown/village idiot supported by the Globo empire, whose oligopolistic practices are quite Berlusconian.

The digital Pinochets

A case can be made that the Hollywood blitz on Lula holds a direct parallel to the first attempt at a coup d’etat in Chile in 1973, which tested the waters in terms of popular response before the real deal. In the Brazilian remix, assorted Globo media maggots pose as digital Pinochets. At least many a street in Sao Paulo now bears graffiti to the effect of “Military coup – Never again.

Yes, because this is all about a white coup – in the form of a Rousseff impeachment and sending Lula to the gallows. But old (military) habits die hard; Globo media maggots are now extolling the Army to take to the streets to “neutralize” popular militias. And this is just the beginning. Right-wingers are getting ready for a national mobilization on Sunday calling for – what else – Rousseff’s impeachment.

Car Wash’s merit is to investigate corruption, collusion and traffic of influence in abysmally corrupt Brazil. But everyone, every political faction, should be investigated – including those representing Brazilian comprador elites. That’s not the case. Because the political project allied with Car Wash couldn’t care less about “justice”; the only thing that matters is to perpetuate a vicious political crisis as a means to drag the seventh largest economy in the world into the mud and reach the Holy Grail: a white coup, or good ol’ regime change. But 2016 is not 1973, and the whole world by now knows who’s a sucker for regime change.


PepePepe 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).

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