Monday, July 6, 2015

STORY TO WATCH


Last week France 24 reported that China had bought 45 Airbus  A330’s, acquiring half a chunk of the Toulouse airport while they were at it, and planning to open a second production plant in China for the plane’s interiors.  Chinese pilots are already being trained in France, to the tune of 100,000 Euros each, paid by Beijing, and China expects to order over 5,000 jetliners in the next 20 years.
But the most significant event was the French trade minister inviting his guests to invest more, and come to live in France - in Chinese! When you consider how annoyed the French have always been at having to speak English, insisting on making it sound like French, the sight of a Paris high official rolling Mandarin off his tongue with seeming pleasure is nothing short of extraordinary.  It puts the finishing touches to an image I coined in the nineties eighties when I was writing ‘Une autre Europe, un autre Monde’ the book that foresaw the reunification of Europe, which I defined as ‘the Eurasian peninsula’.
While we periodically hear of Chinese and Russians acquiring real estate in Europe, China isn’t waiting for the Silk Road and its high-speed Beijing-Berlin rail line to put productive chess pieces - or should I say Go pieces - in place. 
I still believe Europe will become Muslim, but one can imagine it taking its softer, Balinese form…Oh, to be a fly on a Gobelins tapestry fifty years from now!





CHESSBOARD CHECKMATED: A BOOK REVIEW

UKRAINE, Zbig’s Grand Chessboard and How the West was Checkmated, is a long title for a book, but this book could have no other. In an outstanding example of collaborative writing, it provides an incisive account of the strategy elaborated in the nineteen-nineties by Zbignieuw Brzezinski for ensuring permanent US domina-tion of the world, strategy which is being implemented today. Neither academics nor journalists, Natylie Baldwin and Kermit Heartsong are among a growing cohort of political writers and analysts who are passionate about contemporary history.  
Natylie Baldwin focuses on Zbignieuw Brzezinski an academic who has occupied high level political positions going as far back as the Carter administration. The plan Zbig published in 1997 (The Grand Chessboard) explains why Ukraine should be separated from Russia, as is happening today. This strategy is based on a turn-of-the-century theory by British historian Halford Mackinder that he who rules the Eurasian heartland rules the world (see http://www.voltairenet.org/article187947.html by Alfred McCoy). 
Thanks in part to this book, contemporaries will become aware of both the heartland theory upon which America’s post Cold War policies are based, and the rationale for those policies as expounded by Zbignieuw Brzezinski and the Neo-cons who are highly influential in the Obama government. As the US ramps up its threats against Russia, the nation that geographically dominates the Eurasian heartland, it is important for Americans to understand that these threats are part of a plan intended to ensure that America continues as the unchallenged world power of the twenty-first century. 
Zbig and other neo-Conservatives took Mackinder’s geopolitical insight about the Eurasian heartland and married it to a political theory by two German political philosophers. Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss claimed that men are evil and need to be dominated, and that the best way to do this is to unite them against a common enemy. That is why the disappearance of the Soviet Union failed to yield a peace dividend, but was promptly followed by the creation of another enemy, Muslim Fundamentalism. Americans wondering what they can do to bring change to their country need to be aware of the long-term nature of the Neo-Conservative project, which Baldwin spells out in detail. 
In the second part of the book, Kermit Heartsong places the Ukrainian takeover within the long-term plan to carve Russia, which spans nine Eurasian time zones, into several small states ruled by compliant leaders. Details of US involvement in a series of color revolutions starting in the nineties and intended to de-link Russia from its ‘near abroad’, according to Zbig’s Grand Chessboard theory, make Ukraine part of a master plan that is never mentioned in the media from which most Americans get their news. After reading this book you will know that Washington politicians are neither ignorant nor stupid, but driven by the conviction that America’s ‘exceptionalism’ entitles it - and even requires it - to rule the globe, justifying America’s key foreign policy goal, which is to prevent any other nation from rising to superpower status and to use every means, both military and diplomatic, in pursuit of that end (see The Wolfowitz Doctrine).
 The most troubling part of this plan is the deliberate decision to embrace Nazi methods, starting most visibly with the use of Neo-Nazi thugs to unseat Ukraine’s democratically elected president. Svoboda and Right Sektor leaders, whose heroes fought alongside the Germans, assassinating Poles and Jews during World War II, could never sit in any European parliament. Yet the followers of the World War II nationalist Stepan Bandera occupy ministerial posts in Kiev, accounting for the Poroshenko government’s bellicose attitude toward the mainly Russian inhabitants of its Eastern provinces and Ukrainian Jews. 
The last part of this remarkable book contrasts the West’s anti-Putin propaganda to the realities of the joint leadership of the BRICS countries by the Bear and the Dragon (Russia and China), as they cooperate to transform the Eurasian heartland into the world’s new economic hub, edging out the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency, upon which the American empire rests.
I hope this primer for understanding the twenty-first century will be translated from Lisbon to Vladivostok.





Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Two Deadlines, Same Demand (July 1)


Alexis Tsipras has defied predictions of capitulation, asking Greeks to vote “NO’ in Sunday’s referendum in order to get a better deal from Europe’s financial leaders.
 Iranians and Greeks, in two distinctly different crises, express the same demand: to be treated with dignity and respect.  This is not an unusual attitude among the majority of the world’s inhabitants, but it is unacceptable to its masters. For the Iranians, the lifting of economic sanctions depends on allowing the world’s leaders to know everything going on in its military bases, as part of it accepting to scale down its nuclear program. For the Greeks, a return to relative normalcy from the brink of default is hostage to continued austerity that would enable irresponsible banks to recoup their losses. In 2011, Iceland pointed the way to a dignified response to the first crisis of the 2008 meltdown, jailing its bankers as its people refused to be stuck with the bill. Apparently its isolated geographic location has kept it from acting as an example for Europe, but then again, Europe has changed considerably since 2011.  Austerity imposed on its southern tier has given a decisive boost to the progressive movement.  
Tsipras’ expected capitulation would have been a victory for Europe’s neo-liberal agenda aimed at dismantling the welfare state.  According to RT - and this makes sense - the Troika’s goal is regime change in Greece, eliminating the loudest voice on the European stage in favor of people’s democracy, as oppose to bankers’ rule. If they succeed, Europe’s financial masters will have dealt a significant blow to the rising people’s movements across the European south in Spain, Portugal and Italy. However, their success could boomerang: as thousands of African and Middle East refugees and migrants flood into Europe, far-right parties will play the financial and social strain to the hilt, until they succeed in replacing neo-liberal rule with new and improved nineteen-thirties fascism. 



The Real Reason why They Don’t Want Greece to Leave the Euro (June 29)




In all the recent coverage of the negotiations between Greece and the EU over an insurmountable debt, only once did I hear the fact that other European countries have declined - or were still waiting to join - the Euro. It turns out there are seven of them, leaving only eighteen countries that use the European currency: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.  If we take away the smaller countries, that leaves essentially Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, seven all told.

The non-Euro countries are not all midgets; they include Sweden and Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria.  If Greece joins them, it’s not the numbers that will be significant, but the geographic location of these non-Euro countries.  Essentially, they will include all the former Eastern bloc countries, plus two Nordic countries. With Russia and China standing by to offer assistance via the newly created BRICS bank and the Eurasian Economic Union, what we are seeing is Europe essentially reverting to a division we thought long overcome.

The difference between the satellite countries under Soviet control and those same countries today is that as members of the European Union they are free to choose whether to adopt the Euro or not.  But perhaps more significantly, what is to stop them from joining the Eurasian Economic Union?

During the Cold War, Washington touted the danger to Europe of what it called “Finlandization”, a soft takeover through trade.  (Finland, that shares an important border with Russia felt it had to tread carefully in the foreign policy area when that border belonged to the Soviet Union, hence the origin of the word ‘Finlandization’.)  By mindlessly implementing an aggressive  Wall St-inspired neo-liberal policy focusing on privatizations, the EU courted the 2008 disaster, and by implementing the corresponding remedies that hark back to Margaret Thatcher’s TINA (there is no alternative to austerity), it planted the seeds of its demise, leaving Russia as Europe’s savior.  

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Eastern bloc countries are joined by two Nordic countries, which have the most advanced social-democratic systems.  As I have written before, and as confirmed by Natylie Baldwin and Kermit Heartsong in Ukraine Checkmated, as well as by the Saker, Putin’s ‘managed democracy’, which the US calls ‘authoritarian’ is a form of social democracy.

While the media continues to spew accusations of aggressive Russian military moves that have no basis in reality, and to warn that a Grexit could lead to the breakup of the Euro, as if Greece would be the only member of the European Union outside the common currency, signaling a rush to the exit, smart investors will take note of the opening of the BRICS development bank whose aim is to function very differently from the IMF vis a vis the needs of its client countries.  







Europe on the Skids (June 28)

It’s the end of June and all across Europe schools are letting out for the summer.  Families long ago planned their four-week summer vacations down to the last detail (winter vacations are devoted to skiing, with schools organizing cheap deals, either over Christmas or during spring break).
But Europe, where I’m betting high-speed trains still run on time, municipal parks continue to be rigorously tended, and solidarity is still the byword, is experiencing a crisis unseen and unimagined since the Second World War. Hoping to blend solidarity with the defense of secularism, France banned the burka a couple of years ago, and although it’s considering building two thousand more mosques, or turning some churches over to Islam, that ten percent of its population that emigrated from North Africa and the Middle East have remained outsiders, and some are influenced by a deadly ideology.
Heightening fears, tens of thousands flee war-torn Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Libya via perilous voyages across the Mediterranean, the separate countries of the EU are unable to agree on how many each should take in, leaving Italy, the place where most refugees land, holding the bag. The most glaring case is that of Hungary, whose right-wing government plans to build a four-foot high wall along its border with non-EU Serbia, reminding critics that walls had been built before (although the Cold War wall was on the Austrian border….)
Meanwhile, Greeks have been emptying ATMs all week and the government ordered banks and the Athens stock exchange to remain closed tomorrow. Declaring negotiations with the international financial system over, leftist Prime Minister announced a referendum on whether to accept its ‘humiliating black-mail’.  By turning over the decision to the Greek people, Tsipras is not only refusing to betray his election pledge to end austerity, he is implementing the decentralized, people-oriented politics he hopes will spread across Europe. 
At the other end of the political spectrum, a couple of years ago a virulent anti-Muslim Norwegian killed almost a hundred socialist young people vacationing on an island, accusing them of supporting multiculturalism. This week, in what could be a copycat act, an Islamic terrorist killed almost forty people on a beach in Tunisia. On the same day a disgruntled Muslim father of three in France beheaded his boss and tried to light up a gas factory, and an ISIS follower bombed a Shia mosque in Kuwait. Anti-Muslim sentiment has risen in Europe and in the US, with the Dutch parliamentarian Gert Wilders publicly defying Muslims to react to his postings of cartoons mocking the Prophet, claiming the right to free speech.  
That incident barely made it onto US news channels, which continue to focus on the fallout from the shooting of nine Black worshippers in a South Carolina church by a young white racist, and the better-late-than-never decision by mainly Republican southern politicians to remove the Confederate flag from public buildings. Alternately, the media wax ecstatic over Supreme Court decisions saving Obamacare from the ax and allowing same sex couples to marry across the land. 
After 9/11, the news was of nothing else for months, but responsibility for the attacks was laid exclusively at the feet of ‘others’. Fourteen years later, Americans still see the rest of the world as ‘others’, while the rest of the world begins to question America’s Otherness, especially its so-called ‘exceptionalism’.  Europeans increasingly wonder whether the marriage they thought was made in heaven (sic), is leading them ever closer to hell: having escaped the Cold War unscathed, will their lands yet be the battlefield upon which the US fights Russia? Or will Wikileaks evidence that the US spies on ‘allies’ far beyond what is customary at last give its leaders the spine they need to loosen the ties that bind? 
Not unrelatedly, French taxi drivers are in an uproar over competition from the Uber app: they pay hefty licensing fees, not to mention taxes, to drive a cab, while Uber gives every car driver a chance to make a fare. This is just one example of the kinds of threats the TTIP represents to the much cherished European way of life, where almost everything is regulated so that no one takes unfair advantage, goes hungry or without medical care.
At this point, it’s hard to know which is the bigger threat to Europe: US designs on Russia, unbridled capitalism or the unrelenting spread of Islam to which American actions in Africa and the Middle East contribute, but which arithmetic also shows is unavoidable.


P.S. Last-minute from France 24: France's most prestigious graduate school, Polytechnique, admits thirty Chinese students out of a class of one hundred.Figures for other top French schools are similar.

Down to the Wire for Greece

Alexis Tsipras today called an emergency meeting of his cabinet after a week of failed negotiations with Greece’s greedy creditors, as the Greek people continued to demonstrate for him to do the impossible: remain in the Euro while enabling them to continue to survive.
A week ago a group of thirty-five eminent European, Russian and American economists and analysts spent four days together in Delphi, Greece, to discuss the Greek crisis.  They drafted the Delphi Declaration (a reference to the Greek oracle thought to predict the future), calling on European politicians to ‘do the right thing’ vis a vis the country that invented democracy. 
Among the Greek participants were Gerasimos Arsenis, Εconomist,  former minister of Economy, of Finance, of National Defense and of Education, ex-UN official and ex-director of UNCTAD:The two faces of the Greek crisis”, Dimosthenis Georgopoulos Economist, sociologist, political scientist, Secretariat on Industrial Policy, SYRIZA:  “Greece, Ukraine, wider Middle East; Alternative Paths-Transitions from Neoliberalism to Disastrous Capitalism”. 
Among the participants whose names will be familiar to OEN readers, were Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Treasury Secretary in the Reagan administration: “Propaganda Reigns in the West”, James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin and Michael Hudson,Professor of economics, University of Missouri (Kansas City), President, Institute for the Study of Long-term Economic Trends: “The Needed Reforms. or, Recovering the Socialist Policy Agenda. Taxing away economic rent-seeking”.
Other participants included Samir Amin, Economist, President of the World Forum for Alternatives, Giulietta Chiesa, President of the Alternative Association, which campaigns for the EU to exit NATO, Adriano Campos, Member of the national leadership of the Portuguese Left Bloc: “Portugal , Five years of austerity. What alternatives?”, Steffen Stierle Εconomist, ATTAC Germany, assistant to the parliamentary group “Der Linke”: “The European Union – A field to fight for social rights and justice?”  Boris Kagarlitsky Director of the Institute for Globalization Studies and Social Movements: “How the struggle around Ukraine determines the development of the European crisis” 
(Sergei Glaziev Academician, senior advisor to the President of the Russian Federation on Eurasian integration, was prevented from attending by EU sanctions, but was present via Skype).
 As this partial roster shows, the Greek crisis has engaged the minds of major economists and social scientists, and no matter how it ends, it will effect the future of Europe and of the world.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Key News Events for June 24th, 2015

France is in an uproar after revelations by Wikileaks that its leaders have been spied upon going back as far as the presidency of Jacques Chirac that began in 1995. This information, coming after last year's revelations that the White House had spied on Angela Merkel, appears to be seen as something of a 'last straw' in the already troubled relationship between Europe and the US.[tag]France is in an uproar after revelations by Wikileaks that its leaders have been spied upon going back as far as the presidency of Jacques Chirac that began in 1995. This information, coming after last year's revelations that the White House had spied on Angela Merkel, appears to be seen as something of a 'last straw' in the already troubled relationship between Europe and the US.[tag]

RT this morning interviewed a highly respected former French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas, who made several references to the way Charles De Gaulle would have handled a similar situation. (He was took France out of NATO and developed a French nuclear strike capability.) Dumas lamented that socialist President Francois Hollande did not seem sufficiently 'Gaullist', but I believe it is one more indication that the idea of a long overdue divorce from the US is really beginning to take shape in the minds of its leaders, who know that once they sign on to TTIP, a treaty that will destroy what is left of a welfare system that is the envy of the world, it will be too late. 

Not to worry, the other relevant news this morning is about a new Maidan in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. The scenario is immediately clear to anyone who has read Zbignieuw Brzezinski's 1997 book The Grand Chessboard, which lays out plans to detach each of the then Soviet Union's near-abroad countries from Moscow.

Better yet, read a new work by two intrepid California analysts, Natylie Baldwin and Kermit Heartsong, Ukraine Checkmated that brings Zbig's chessboard up-date-with stunning analyses of the Neo-con-made Ukraine crisis, recently reviewed by David Swanson.
Armenia, as well as Georgia - which had its turn in 2008 - are on Zbig's list of countries to be subverted by fomenting 'color' revolutions according to the system elaborated by one Gene Sharp.


According to Peter Lavelle, Washington would appear to be seeking a way out of the crisis it created in Ukraine, as that country's financial situation becomes dire, but not to worry, the next phase of the plan against Russia is already up and running in Yerevan. I wonder how long it will take for us to see a State Department official handing out ice cream to the demonstrators.