Category Archives: US Foreign Policy

Ending “West’s Neocolonial Oppression”: On the New Language and Superstructures

The Russia-Ukraine war has quickly turned into a global conflict. One of the likely outcomes of this war is the very redefinition of the current world order, which has been in effect, at least since the collapse of the Soviet Union over three decades ago.

Indeed, there is a growing sense that a new global agenda is forthcoming, one that could unite Russia and China and, to a degree, India and others, under the same banner. This is evident, not only by the succession of the earth-shattering events underway, but, equally important, the language employed to describe these events.

The Russian position on Ukraine has morphed throughout the war from merely wanting to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine to a much bigger regional and global agenda, to eventually, per the words of Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, “put an end to the unabashed expansion” of NATO, and the “unabashed drive towards full domination by the US and its Western subjects on the world stage.”

On April 30, Lavrov went further, stating in an interview with the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, that Russia’s war “contributes to the process of freeing the world from the West’s neocolonial oppression,” predicated on “racism and an exceptionality.”

But Russia is not the only country that feels this way. China, too, even India, and many others. The meeting between Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on March 30, served as a foundation of this truly new global language. Statements made by the two countries’ top diplomats were more concerned about challenging US hegemony than the specifics of the Ukraine war.

Those following the evolution of the Russia-China political discourse, even before the start of the Russia-Ukraine war on February 24, will notice that the language employed supersedes that of a regional conflict, into the desire to bring about the reordering of world affairs altogether. 

But is this new world order possible? If yes, what would it look like? These questions, and others, remain unanswered, at least for now. What we know, however, is that the Russian quest for global transformation exceeds Ukraine by far, and that China, too, is on board.

While Russia and China remain the foundation of this new world order, many other countries, especially in the Global South, are eager to join. This should not come as a surprise as frustration with the unilateral US-led world order has been brewing for many years, and has come at a great cost. Even the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, though timid at times, has warned against this unilaterality, calling instead on the international community to commit itself to  “the values of multilateralism and diplomacy for peace.”

However, the pro-Russian stances in the South – as indicated by the refusal of many governments to join western sanctions on Moscow, and the many displays of popular support through protests, rallies and statements – continue to lack a cohesive narrative. Unlike the Soviet Union of yesteryears, Russia of today does not champion a global ideology, like socialism, and its current attempt at articulating a relatable global discourse remains, for now, limited.

It is obviously too early to examine any kind of superstructure – language, political institutions, religion, philosophy, etc – resulting from the Russia-NATO global conflict, Russia-Ukraine war and the growing Russia-China affinity.

Though much discussion has been dedicated to the establishing of an alternative monetary system, in the case of Lavrov’s and Yi’s new world order, a fully-fledged substructure is yet to be developed.

New substructures will only start forming once the national currency of countries like Russia and China replace the US dollar, alternative money transfer systems, like CIPS, are put into effect, new trade routes are open, and eventually new modes of production replace the old ones. Only then, superstructures will follow, including new political discourses, historical narratives, everyday language, culture, art and even symbols.

The thousands of US-western sanctions slapped on Russia were largely meant to weaken the country’s ability to navigate outside the current US-dominated global economic system. Without this maneuverability, the West believes, Moscow would not be able to create and sustain an alternative economic model that is centered around Russia.

True, US sanctions on Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and others have failed to produce the coveted ‘regime change’, but they have succeeded in weakening the substructures of these societies, denying them the chance to be relevant economic actors at a regional and international stage. They were merely allowed to subsist, and barely so.

Russia, on the other hand, is a global power, with a relatively large economy, international networks of allies, trade partners and supporters. That in mind, surely a regime change will not take place in Moscow any time soon. The latter’s challenge, however, is whether it will be able to orchestrate a sustainable paradigm shift under current western pressures and sanctions.

Time will tell. For now, it is certain that some kind of a global transformation is taking place, along with the potential of a ‘new world order’, a term, ironically employed by the US government more than any other.

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Russia, Ukraine, and the USA: Trapped in a Cultural Script

Compassion for Ukrainians victimized by Russia’s violence demonstrates that human hearts care. However, beneath the visible current of compassion there’s an alarming, dangerous dynamic at play.

What’s hair-raising about this crisis is not only the violence but the fact that US political leaders and media makers are not recognizing positive and negative motivations on both sides of conflict. Instead, they’re deliberately creating an inaccurate good vs. evil storyline, a storyline that ignites unwarranted, dangerous feelings of self-righteous hatred against Russia.

The US perpetually perceives its role in conflict as that of a heroic rescuer or innocent victim upholding humanity and freedom against evil persecutors. However, 245 years of US history reveal that this perception is fiction, a psychological construct. Psychological analysts Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward called the persecutor, victim, and rescuer scenario a “cultural script.”

Examination of 245 years of US history reveals that the perception of always being a good guy fighting evil is fiction, a psychological construct. In fact, good and bad, truths and lies invariably exist on both sides of conflict.

Nonetheless, to deceive others and perhaps themselves, US policymakers’ pattern of relentlessly legitimating their violence, deadly sanctions, and foreign coups by denying the validity of enemy grievances, hiding their own greed and aggressive motives, refusing to cooperatively negotiate, concealing enemy negotiation offers, fabricating lies, omitting significant facts, using false pretexts, and overlooking the disastrous results of a pseudo-religious faith in the problem-solving magic of weapons is so predictable that it’s hard to decide whether it’s more enraging, pathetic, boring, or nauseating.

Consider one persecutor-victim-hero drama that began in 1979. President Jimmy Carter, livid over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, claimed it was “the greatest threat to peace since the Second World War.” Actually, Afghanistan’s Marxist government, which had been trying to reform the extreme, unjust inequalities of wealth and land ownership in Afghanistan, had requested Soviet assistance against insurgents, but the USSR, the “evil persecutor,” didn’t want to send troops. When the Soviets finally complied, they explained it was because of secret US involvement in Afghanistan. The world called the Soviets liars.

Two decades later US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted that Carter had begun aiding the insurgent mujahideen—the “heroes”—six months prior to the entry of the persecutors, the Soviets. A delighted Brzezinski knew this could provoke the Soviets to invade and get mired in their own “Vietnam.” Convinced of Soviet evil and mujahideen goodness, US policymakers ignored that the mujahideen skinned Soviet POWs alive.

And now we’re to believe that weapon shipments and sanctions are needed for the US to help rescue Ukraine from “evil” Russia.

The first step in convincing the world to believe the script’s good vs. evil dynamics is to depict Russia as the persecutor who’s motivated, not by fear, but by evil. No problem! Simply label Putin as paranoid and discount Russian fears as ludicrous: NATO’s expansion into Slavic lands, NATO—Ukraine military collaboration, US missile bases in eastern Europe, anti-Russian policies and prejudice in Ukraine, neo-Nazi violence in Ukraine, neo-Nazis and ultranationalists in Ukraine’s police, military, and government, the manipulation of Ukraine by Western profit-seekers, and Western economic and political conquest—likely of Russia itself.

The next step is to paint the US as a heroic rescuer motivated purely by integrity and compassion. Simple! Muffle up all greed-related motives for antagonizing Russia: US weapon industry profits, NATO’s agenda for bases on the Black Sea, IMF goals, ExxonMobil’s coveting Black Sea fossil fuel deposits, and Biden’s connections with Ukraine’s largest natural gas corporation. Then, conceal US hopes to dominate the global energy trade, maintain the dollar as the international energy trade currency, displace Russia from Europe’s gas market, shut down Nord Stream 2, and export fracked liquefied natural gas to Europe via Ukraine.

Also ignored are the biases and aims of those social and business circles who are forever dictating US foreign policy according to their pecuniary priorities and uncooperative, control-oriented habits of international relations. President Biden’s administration, for example, includes many members of the Alliance for Securing Democracy—with an advisory board that combines neoconservatives with liberal hawks, Albright Stonebridge Group—with its interest in Russian business acquisitions, and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

CNAS, whose donors include multiple weapon corporations, the European Union, US Department of Defense, Finland’s Defense Ministry, Amazon, Google, and ExxonMobil, was formerly led by President Biden’s current Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, whose husband, Robert Kagan, co-founded the conquest-seeking neoconservative Project for the New American Century. Yet we’re to assume that donors’ priorities aren’t skewing foreign policy in dysfunctional ways.

With Russia’s fears dismissed and US greed disguised, the good vs. evil script is further strengthened by permitting only shallow public analysis. For example, how do we know that Russia wasn’t deliberately provoked so that the ulterior goals of certain American social circles could be advanced under the guise of nobly responding to Russia’s aggression? The topic isn’t permitted into discussion.

Another topic given quarter-inch deep analysis is Biden’s seemingly fair-minded declaration that each nation has the right to choose alliances. It’s an unusual statement coming from a “you’re with us or against us” nation that has punished or ousted national leaders who refused to sever alliances with the USSR or Cuba.

Nuland’s leaked tapes from 2014 (which mention Biden and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan) and a US record of instigating coups indicate that Americans were likely involved in promoting the bloody 2014 coup of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Yanukovich to install anti-Russian leadership agreeable to European Union and NATO ties. So does Biden’s “right to choose alliances” proclamation apply to nations before a US-approved coup or only afterwards?

Another enraging example of shallow analysis is the opinion falsely parroted by US “experts” that Putin’s 2021 essay, “On the Historical Unity of Russia and Ukraine,” lays bare Putin’s imperialist vision for Ukraine and his lack of recognition of Ukraine’s sovereignty and borders. Whether the experts are deliberately lying or lack reading comprehension skills, their claim is false and, given the self-righteous hatred their claim generates, utterly irresponsible.

Nowhere in the essay does Putin speak of conquering Ukraine or refusing to recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty. Putin specifically describes the relationship between the US and Canada as the type of relationship Russia seeks with Ukraine. When he speaks of “unity,” he’s not speaking of dissolving Ukraine’s political sovereignty. He’s speaking of cultural and historical ties between the two nations.

Putin’s description of the Bolsheviks’ creation of borders never suggests that he’s doing away with them. It’s possible he’s implying that Donetsk, Lugansk, and certainly Crimea have large Russian populations and do not necessarily belong in Ukraine, especially if Ukraine’s post-coup government is harboring neo-Nazism and installing language and indigenous people policies of a deliberate anti-Russian nature. Note that Ukraine and the US are the only two nations in the UN to vote against the recent resolution to condemn the glorification of Nazism.

Of course, US policymakers are not uncomfortable with Nazism and, following WWII, employed one thousand Nazis to spy on Russia. And it was US banks and companies such as Ford, General Motors, and du Pont that opportunistically helped fund Hitler’s war arsenal. Even in 1973, the US worked with pro-Nazi collaborators and US corporate funds to plant protests, propaganda, economic sabotage, and violence that climaxed in the CIA’ s horrific 9/11/73 coup of Chile’s Salvador Allende. It’s not surprising that in 2014, Russian news sources claimed that US private military contractors were training right-wing Ukrainian extremists.

In his essay, Putin clearly states his wish to negotiate with Ukraine, but not with Ukrainian leaders who are mere representatives of Western profiteers eager to use Ukraine’s land and resources for their own benefit. But, of course, US commentators either ignore the statement or, forgetting US history, discount Putin’s fears of Western profiteering as conspiracy theory.

Double standards also fortify the script. Russia’s invasions are motivated by belligerence, never legitimate fears, while US invasions are motivated by legitimate fears, never belligerence. Same behavior, different judgment.

Headlines scream of savage Russian war crimes. TV reporters interview sobbing Ukrainians. Yet US, NATO, and Ukrainian war crimes are barely publicized, their victims ignored. Same actions, different judgment. To learn about US war crimes and Afghan and Iraqi suffering, you’ve got to read investigative reporters’ books.

American groupthink, inflated by its self-righteous role in the script, and seeming to borrow from middle-school social dynamics, jeers and smears President Putin’s every word as absurd and staged. But we’re to trust Biden as honest, unstaged, unconcealing. No proof is needed. Just faith in the script.

Putin’s wish to protect Donetsk and Lugansk, self-declared republics since 2014, and end Kiev’s 8-year war that has killed 14,000 is automatically mocked as false pretext for conquest. Yet US wishes to protect Ukraine from Russia are trusted as caring, without ulterior design. The role of private military contractors, NATO, and the US in escalating civil war and provoking Russia by arming Ukraine with billions in weapons since 2014 rather than committing to non-violently resolve Ukraine’s internal conflict remains shamefully unassessed.

The consequences of belief in this drama? The US habitually uses exaggerated fears of evil enemies as false justification for colossal military budgets, NATO expansion, more military bases, troops, weapons, and nukes—all of which pour gasoline on the world tinderbox of tension, drain desperately-needed funding, and fail to resolve conflict.

If evil is equated with enemies, it becomes deceptively simple for “heroes” to champion goodness: bomb enemies into submission, impose deadly sanctions, strangulate funding, send weapons, engineer coups. But none of these methods nurture goodness. The truth is, those convinced they’re fighting evil are frequently blinded to the immorality and injustice of their own actions against people who aren’t so evil after all.

The good vs. evil script is also unjust because it enables the “innocent” to get away with all they’ve done to exacerbate conflict. The script can even enable the “innocent,” including Biden administration neoconservatives and liberal hawks, to slickly seize power, resources, and markets from those deemed evil.

US leaders’ promotion of this good vs. evil storyline appears compassionate, but it isn’t against killing. It isn’t about justice. It’s about pushing a script that provides pretext on the part of those proclaiming their own goodness to inflict injustice and violence against Russia and Putin, already verbally crucified by a mob of liars. It’s about solidifying our allegiance to US policymakers’ decisions about whom we should kill and whom we should cry for. Yet policymakers step beyond Constitutional grounds when they use their power to turn our hearts on and off, to bait us to hate some and love others to serve their greed for Mid-Eastern, Ukrainian, and Russian wealth.

We’ve got to scrap the script and view conflict impartially. We deserve accurate, sophisticated information about conflict, not propaganda that teaches us to hate. We need full truth to help us ground irrational fears of bad guys, cure the sickness of greed, and offer caring and friendship, not just for those falsely deemed innocent and heroic, but for all of us, with 360 of empathy, all the way around the world.

• View all six videos here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuNEw9-1OIk-CwU-5vAElcg

• Read the entire essay at Countercurrents

• This article was first published at TRANSCEND Media Service

The post Russia, Ukraine, and the USA: Trapped in a Cultural Script first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Tectonic Shifts in the World Economy: A World Systems Perspective

Orientation 

One of the main problems with Western media (other than their non-stop anti-Russian propaganda), is the narrow and parochial manner in which they conceive world events. Like realists and liberals of international relations theory, they analyze world events two countries at a time, for example, the U.S. vs Russia. They appear to have little conception of interdependence, like Russia, China, and Iran as a single block. Or the U.S., England, and Israel as another block. No state can make any moves without considering the causes and consequences of their actions for their interdependent states. Secondly, these talking heads fail miserably in understanding that conflicts between states are inseparable from the evolution of global capitalism which, in many respects, is stronger than any state. Thirdly, their “analysis” fails to consider that the world capitalist system has evolved over the last 500 years, as I will soon present. We will see that what is going on in Ukraine is part of a much larger tectonic struggle between Eastern China, Russia, and Iran to create a multipolar world while being desperately opposed by a declining West, headed by the United States and its minions.

A Brief History of Modern Capitalism

According to world systems theory, the global capitalist system has gone through four phases. In each phase, there was a dominant hegemon. First, there was the merchant capital of Italy that lasted from 1450-1640. This was followed by the great Dutch seafaring age from 1610-1740. Next, there was the British industrial system from 1776 to World War I. Lastly, the Yankee system which lasted from 1870 to 1970. Note that over these 500 years the pace of change quickened. In the Italian phase, the city states of Venice and Genoa rose and fell over 220 years. By the time we get to the United States, the time of rise and decline is 100 years. All this has been laid out by Giovanni Arrighi in The Long 20th century. In Adam Smith in Beijing, Arrighi also lays out the reasons he is convinced that China will be the leading hegemon in the next phase of capitalism.

Five Types of Capitalism   

Historically there have been five types of capitalism. The first is merchant capital in which profits are made by trade, selling cheap and buying dear. This is what Venice and Genoa did, as did Dutch seafarers on a grander scale. Next, is agricultural capitalism, including the slave system of the United States, Britain, and parts of the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. Then, the British invented the industrial capitalism system in which profit was made by investing the infrastructure of society: railroads, factories, and surplus labor from the wage labor system. Lastly, especially in the 20th century, we have two other forms of capitalism. In addition to being an industrial power after World War II, the United States used its industrial power to invest in the military arms industry and relied on finance capital (stocks and bonds).

Destructive Forms of Capitalism

In the later stage of all four systems, making money from commodities or technologies becomes problematic because it becomes unpredictable what people will buy. For example, after the Depression from 1929-1941, the United States got out of the depression by investing in the military. This was so successful that after World War II, capitalists began investing in the military even during peacetime (Melman, After Capitalism). It provided a much more predictable profit as long as countries continued to go to war. This encourages arming your own country or supplying the whole world, which is what the United States does today. There is also finance capital, where banks invest in stocks, bonds and financial instruments rather than infrastructure (as industrial capitalists did). For the past 50 years military and finance capital are primarily where the ruling class in Yankeedom has made its profits.

In the early phases of capitalism, in all four cycles, commodities were produced which required money as mediation, but the purpose was to produce more commodities and technologies. In the decaying part of the cycle, capitalists would rather invest in finance capital than industrial capital because of the quick turn-around in profits. Investing in building bridges, repairing roads, or building schools will surely benefit capitalists in the long run. Smooth supply chains for capitalist profit and a sound education in high school and college would ensure that workers not only know how to do their jobs but that they would be creative-thinkers and innovators. Capitalists these days don’t want to invest in these things, and this is why the infrastructure in Yankeedom is falling apart and the Yankee population cannot compete with students from other countries with better educational systems.

What is World Systems Theory?

World systems theory is a macro-sociological theory of long-term social change which includes economic theory and world history. It is provocative in at least three ways. One, its basic unit of analysis is the entire world-system of capitalism rather than nation-states. Second, it argues that the so-called socialist societies were not really socialist, but rather state-capitalist. Third, global capitalism organizes itself into a transnational division of labor which ignores the boundaries of nation-states. World-systems theory has been used by historians, international relations theorists, and international political economists to explain the rise and fall of nation-states, the increase and decrease in stratification patterns, as well as rise and decline of imperialism. Christopher Chase-Dunn and Terry Boswell have specialized in understanding social movements and the timing and placing of revolutions from a world-systems perspective.

Economic Zones Within the World-system

Overview of the core, periphery                                                 

World-systems are divided into three zones: the core, the semi-peripheral, and the peripheral countries. Economically and politically, core countries dominate other countries without being dominated. Semi-periphery countries are dominated by the core, and, in turn, dominate the periphery. The periphery are dominated by both. Part of the wealth of core countries comes from their exploitation of the peripheral countries’ land and labor through colonization.

Core and periphery

The core countries control most of the wealth in the world capitalist system. Workers are highly specialized, high technology is used. It has an industrial-electronic base. They extract raw materials from the peripheral countries and sell peripheral countries finished products. Core countries have the most highly specialized workers and a relatively small agricultural base, whereas peripheral countries have strong agricultural or horticultural bases and have a semi-skilled urban working class. The peripheral countries have relatively unspecialized labor whose work is labor-intensive with low wages. Much of the work done in peripheral countries is commercial agriculture—the production of coffee, sugar, and cotton.

The core countries are the home of the transnational corporations who control the world. Additionally, the core countries control the major banking institutions that provide international loans, such as the IMF and the World Bank. Finally, the core countries have the most powerful militaries. Paradoxically, when core countries are at their peak, their militaries are not very active. They only become more active as a core country goes into decline, as in the United States. Core countries typically have the most highly trained workers. In their heyday, core countries have strong centralized states that provide for pensions, unemployment, and road construction. In their weak stage, states withdraw these benefits and invest in their military to protect their assets abroad as their own territory falls apart. Core countries have large tax bases and, at their best, support infrastructural development.

The periphery nations own very little of the world’s means of production. In the case of African states or tribes, they have great amounts of natural resources, including diamonds and minerals, but these are extracted by the core countries. Furthermore, core states are usually able to purchase raw materials and cheap labor from non-core states at low prices and yet demand higher prices for their exports to non-core states. Core states have access to cheap skilled professional labor through migration (brain drain) from semi-peripheral states . Peripheral countries don’t have a solid tax base because their states have to contend with rival ethnic and tribal forces who are hardly convinced that taxes are good for them and their sub-national identities.

Peripheral countries often do not have a diversified economic base and are forced by the world market to produce one product. A good example of this is Venezuela and its oil. Peripheral countries have relatively steeper stratification patterns because there are no middle classes for the wealth to spread across. A tiny landed elite at the top sells off most of the land to transnational corporations. The state tends to be both weak and strong. States in the periphery have difficulty forming and sustaining their own national economic policy because foreign corporations want to come and go as they please. On the other hand, if a nationalist or a socialist rise to power, the state will be very strong and dictatorial. This is because they are constantly at war with transnational corporations who seek to overthrow them. Since transnational corporations often do this through oppositional parties, those in power are extremely suspicious of oppositional parties. Hence their label as “authoritarian”. In contemporary world systems, peripheries are found in parts of Latin America and in the most extreme form in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Semi-periphery                                                 

The semi-periphery contains countries that as a result of national liberation movements and class struggles have risen out of the periphery and have some characteristics of the core. They can also be composed of formerly core countries that have declined. For example, Spain and Portugal were once core countries in Early Modern Europe. Semi-peripheral countries often take over industries the core no longer wants such as second-generation computers, appliances, or transportation systems. Semi-peripheral states enter the world systems with some degree of autonomy rather than simply a subordinate country. These industries are not strong enough to compete with core countries in “free trade”. Therefore, they tend to apply protectionist policies towards their industry. They tend to export more to peripheral states and import more from core states in trade. In the 21st century, states like Brazil, Argentina, Russia, India, Israel, China, South Korea and South Africa (BRICS) are usually considered semi peripheral.

As I said above, the world capitalist system has changed four times in the last 500 years and each time not only have the configurations of the core countries changed but so have the semi peripheral countries in the world systems. For at least half of capitalist world systems, there were some countries that were outside the periphery, including the United States. Semi-peripheral countries are not fully industrialized countries, but they have scientists and engineers which can lead to some wealth.

Which countries are in the core periphery and semi periphery countries today?

The core countries in the world today are the United States, Germany, Japan, and the Scandinavian social democratic countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Minor core countries are England, France, Italy, and Spain. Eastern European countries are in the semi-periphery. South of the border, there are four semi-periphery countries: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. More powerful up and coming semi-peripheral states include Saudi Arabia, Israel, Russia, China, and India. Most of Africa is in the periphery of the world systems with the exception of South Africa (semi-periphery).

Where did world systems theory come from?

Immanuel Wallerstein was a sociologist who specialized in African studies, so he had first-hand knowledge of the reality of exploitation by colonists. He was influenced by the work of Ferdinand Braudel who wrote a great three-volume history of capitalism. Wallerstein was also influenced by Marx and Engels, but he thought their history of capitalism was too Eurocentric. He emphasized that the core countries did not just exploit their own workers, but they have made great profits through the systematic exploitation of the peripheral countries for hundreds of years.

Modernization theory

World systems theory was in part a reaction against the anti-communist, modernization theory of international politics that prevailed after World War II into the 1960’s. Please see the table below which compares world systems theory to modernization theory.

Dependency theory of Andre Gunder Frank

Around the same time as world systems theory developed, Andre Gunder Frank developed what came to be called “dependency theory”. This theory also challenged modernization theory’s assumption that countries that were called “traditional societies” were improved by contact with the core countries. He claimed that they were systematically exploited by the core countries, made worse than they were before they had any contact with them. As long ago as 1998, Gunder Frank predicted the rise of China. See his book ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age.

Karl Polyani

Other influences on the world-systems theory come from a scholar of comparative economic systems, Karl Polyani. His major contribution is to show that there was no capitalism in tribal or agricultural civilizations and that the “self-subsisting” economy of capitalism was a relatively recent development. Wallerstein reframed this in world systems terms, with the tribal as “mini-systems”, agricultural civilization as “empires” and the capitalist system as “world economies”. Nikolai Kondratiev introduced patterns he saw in the capitalist world economy that centered around cycles of crisis and wars within very specific time periods.

Interstate System

As I said earlier, in international relations theory, realist and neo-conservative theory and neoliberal theories of the state treat each state as if they were separate units. Applied to today, that would formulate world conflict as a battle between, say, the United States and Russia. Neo-conservative and neoliberal theory treat any alliance between states as secondary epiphenomenon that can be dissolved without too much trouble. Secondly, both these theories operate as if interstate politics are relatively autonomous from economics. To the extent to which these theories mention capitalism, it is the domestic economy of nation-states. Each tries to hide the international nature of capitalism and the extent to which transnational corporations can, and do, override national interests. The ideology of the interstate system is sovereign equality, but this is practically overridden as states are treated as neither sovereign nor equal, especially in Africa.

World systems theory sees states differently. For one thing, nation-states are not like Hobbes atoms which crash against each other in a war of all against all. The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, fresh after the Thirty Years’ War, was an attempt to move beyond dynastic empires to nation-states. In core capitalist countries there were never single nation states. The Treaty created a system of nation-states which had rules of engagement, treaties, do’s and don’ts.

Today, between the core, periphery, and semi-periphery countries lies a system of interconnected state relationships. This interstate system arose either as a concomitant process or as a consequence of the development of the capitalist world-system over the course of the “long” 16th century as states began to recognize each other’s sovereignty.

Between these economic zones there were no enforceable rules about how nation-states should act, outside of not impeding the flow of capital between zones. Political domestic elites, international elites, and corporations competed and cooperated with each other, the results of which no one intended. Unsuccessful attempts have been made by the League of Nations and later the United Nations to create an international state. However, nation-states have been unwilling to give up their weapons. Therefore, the international anarchy of capitalist production is still unchecked. The function of the state is to regulate the flow of capital, labor, and commodities across borders and to enforce the structure of market rates. Not only do strong states impose their will on weak states. Strong states also impose limitations on other strong states, as we are seeing with US sanctions against Russia.

Who Will Be the Next World-Economy Hegemon?

Situation in Ukraine

Everything about Ukraine needs to be understood as the desperate clawing of a Yankee empire terrified of being left behind. The U.S. has so far convinced Europe to stay away from Russia and China, but it has nothing to offer. As Gary Olsen said, the Europeans may slowly make deals with Russia and China because they have some sense of where the future lies. So, Western hydra-headed totalitarian media all speak with the same voice: RUSSIA, RUSSIA, EVIL RUSSIA. EVIL PUTIN. Putin certainly had nerve wanting a national economy with its own economic policy. God forbid! But the time is up for Yankeedom and no terrorist police, no military drones, no Republicrats, and no stock exchange jingling with the trappings of divine honor can stop it.

The weakness of Europe

 So, if Yankeedom is in decline (and even Brzezinski admitted this) who are the new contenders? Up until maybe five years ago, I thought Germany might be, with its industrial base and its strong working class. But in the last five years German standards of living have declined. It seems that the EU is in the midst of cracking up. There is no leadership with the departure of Angela Merkel. Macron is on the way out in France. All the other countries in Europe, including Italy, are under water with debt. England is the puppy dog of the United States and hasn’t been a global power in over 100 years. Germany, Spain, Italy, and Greece could be helped enormously by allaying themselves with Russia and China, but at this point most Europeans have been bullied and complicit in myopically siding with a collapsing United States. There is a good chance the US will drag most of Europe down with them.

Collapse of the core zones?

As we have seen, according to world systems theory, the history of capitalism has had three zones: core, periphery, and semi-periphery. The countries that have inhabited the three zones have changed along with the dominant hegemon over the last 500 years, and we are now in unprecedented territory. There is a good chance that the entire batch of formerly core states, the United States, Britain, France, and the west will collapse and that the core capitalist system will be without a hegemon (with the possible exception of the Scandinavian countries). China seems to be about ten years away from assuming that position.

2022-2030 the reign of the semi-periphery?

So, is it fair to say there is a huge tectonic shift where most of the core countries will collapse and the world system will have no core for maybe 20 years? It seems clear that the new hegemon is going to be China. Arrighi and Gunder Frank both thought this. But China is still a semi-periphery country and it might take 10-15 years to enter the core. Meanwhile its allies, Russia and Iran, are also semi-periphery countries. In South America, Argentina had the foresight to sign on the Chinese Belt Road Initiative. Brazil and Chile are still uncommitted to China and occupy a semi-peripheral status. The big country in Asia is India. It is very important to the Yankees not to lose control of India, and they have all the reason in the world to beat war drums in an attempt to demonize China. If a right winger such as Modi can refuse to side against Russia in the current events in Ukraine, will a more moderate or social democratic president of India have the vision to see the future lies in aligning with China? I wouldn’t count on it given the behavior of green-social democrat leadership in Germany.

The only European countries who seem to have made their way through 40 years of Neoliberal austerity, the collapse of Yugoslavia, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the rise of fascist parties in Europe are the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. There is no reason why they could not maintain core status, though China would be the leading power.

The new hegemon China and the world-system in 2030  

I can imagine the world-system in 2030 could consist of China and the Scandinavian countries in the core, with Russia, Iran, and maybe Brazil, Argentina and Chile on the semi-periphery along with possibly India. I don’t know where to place the US and Europe. Since they are drunk with finance capital, it is unfair to put them in the semi-periphery, which is usually involved in productive scientific endeavors. Yet they are more productive than the peripheral countries. Africa could be the last battleground between the decadent Yankee and European imperialists who live on as neo-colonial crypto-imperialists attempting to either sell arms to Africans or directly set up regimes and enslave Africans to work the mines.

If China is able to develop African productive forces with the Belt Road Initiative, it might be an incentive to calm down the ethnic warfare there. It would be a wonderful thing if the African states could finally control the enormous wealth of their country. We cannot expect too much from China. The best they could do would be to invest in cultivating scientists and engineers to build up Africa as a fully industrialized continent. To me, what matters about China is not arguing whether or not it is really socialist, but that it is doing what Marx liked best about capitalism: developing the productive forces.

The prospects for a world state?

We cannot expect the Yankee state to decline peacefully and not start World War III. Is it possible to have a global capitalist realignment without starting World War III? As Chris Chase-Dunn has advocated for decades, we need a world state that has the capability to enforce a ban on interstate warfare. That is not likely now. The only attempts at this: the League of Nations and the United Nations happened after the misery of two world wars. Both attempts at world state have failed because nation-states would not agree to give up their weapons.

What about world ecology?                                                                              

But as world systems theorist Chris Chase Dunn points out, a Chinese-centered world still inherits the increasing ecological destruction that has been an inherent part of the world system since the industrial revolution and now the global pandemic. This includes extreme weather (hot and cold), pollution of land and oceans with plastics and the products of industrialization like carbon, flooding from global warming, and desertification of lands due to droughts and monocropping.

What about Marx’s dream of shrinking the ratio between freedom and necessity in the light of ecological disaster?

For Marx and Engels, the dream of socialism was based on abundance. Unfortunately, because socialism first took place in what Wallerstein would call peripheral or semi-peripheral countries, socialism has come to be associated with poverty. An implication that could be drawn under socialism is that people should expect to be poor and share the poverty equally. That is the opposite of how Marx and Engels saw things. They hoped that socialism would first break out in the west in an industrialized country, with an organized working-class party taking the lead. They hoped that the revolution of overthrowing capitalism would preserve its material abundance, technology, and scientific achievements, not tear them to the ground. They wanted to develop the forces of production that capitalism unleashed while abolishing the political economy of private property over means of production. As socialism developed, the collective creativity of workers would shrink the ratio between necessary work and freedom. What does this mean?

This meant that workers would either:

  1. a) work less and produce the same amount
  2. b) work the same amount but produce more
  3. c) work more and produce much more

In other words, workers would have an increase in the number of choices of what to do with their free time because of an increase in the technology and collective creativity to produce more with less. My question is, given the irreversible ecological situation we are in, is it still realistic to expect socialism will continue to be based on abundance? I can imagine that the way China is going, in that part of the world it may still be possible. I also suspect that in the Scandinavian countries it might be possible. The problem is that global pandemics, extreme weather, flooding, desertification, and pollution cannot easily, if at all, be contained within countries that are capitalist or socialist.

How Reliable is World-systems Theory?

I will limit criticisms of world systems theory to those of a political and economic nature. One common criticism is the struggle to do empirical research with a unit of analysis being the entire world system. This is not to say world systems theorists do not do empirical work, because they do. It is more a matter of how to derive meaningful relationships between variables at such a complex level of abstraction. Statistics for individual nation states are easier to manage, although nation-states are not autonomous actors.

Another criticism is that the successes of existing socialist states are in danger of being given the short shrift. Like many in the West, the first line of criticism by world systems theorists of socialist countries is that they are one-party dictatorships. While this may be true, there is good reason why communist parties in power are nervous about the prospect of oppositional parties being used by foreign capitalists to overthrow them. In addition, socialist countries have better records than capitalist countries on the periphery in the fields of literacy (reading and writing), low-cost housing, healthcare, and free education. Please see Michael Parenti, Black Shirts and Reds for more on this.

The third major criticism comes from orthodox Marxist, Robert Brenner. Brenner claims that the emphasis by world systems theorists on the relationship between economic zones comes at a cost to understanding the class structure within and between nation-states. I think world systems theorists are well aware of class relationships, but they choose to focus on the capitalist relationships between states. Lastly, Theda Skocpol argues that world systems theory understates the power of the state in international affairs. The state is not just the creature of transnational capital. States engage in military competition which long s capitalism. State structures compete with each other.

On a positive note, as I said earlier, Christopher Chase-Dunn has done some creative work with Terry Boswell in tracking the timing and location of rebellions and revolutions in the 500 years of the world systems in Spirals of Capitalism and Socialism. In addition, he wrote a very groundbreaking book with Tom Hall Rise and Demise, which challenges Wallerstein by suggesting that there were precapitalist world systems that go all the way back to hunter-gatherers. Also see my book with him, Social Change: Globalization from the Stone Age to the Present.

• First published in Socialist Planning Beyond Socialism

The post Tectonic Shifts in the World Economy: A World Systems Perspective first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Economic Tectonic Shifts: Letters from Russia

Note to our readers: These are letters from a comrade of ours who currently lives in Russia. English is not the first language of HCE so please be understanding. In order to preserve the integrity of these letters, we kept the original phrasing as best we could.

March 11th

Hello Barbara,

Thank you for your message and concern. My wife and I are passing through a difficult phase in our lives. After our second vaccination in December, we, for some reason or other, went through a period of being sick, myself in a light form while my wife gave me a scare. Anyway, that is behind us.  Barbara, I thought that in my late years, being 80 years old now, we would settle down and I would take good care of my wife, go for long walks in the forest-parks of Moscow. Fate, however, had other plans for us, and here we are in the midst of another war and sanctions surrounded by nations led by clowns, comedians, lunatics, and obsessed madmen. Allow me to give you my opinion on a number of issues.

The dependence of Europe on Russian natural gas

The US tried all the possible tricks to stop the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Generally, they want this energy market for US companies, in spite if the fact that gas will be in liquid form and transported by ships. The port that has to receive the liquid gas must have a very expensive plant. Besides the market factor there is the geopolitical factor of having Europe depending on the US for their energy. Russia has always delivered through thick and thin and always will. I wonder whether the US and their companies will be just as trustworthy.

Zelensky’s dirty bomb threat

Chernobyl, the place where the terrible catastrophe happened, is located in the Ukraine.  Zelensky declared that he would consider making an atom bomb if not given the security guarantees that he was asking for from Europe and the US on the second day of the war. He had in mind using materials from the damaged reactor and make a “dirty bomb”. I think that was the last straw. Russian special troops immediately moved to occupy Chernobyl. Thank goodness not a single shot was fired as the Ukrainian troops laid down their arms. The 8 years that the people of Donbas served as a shooting gallery for the Ukrainian nationalists and fascists has finally come to an end. Chernobyl at the present is being patrolled by joint Russian – Ukrainian units. There is a huge Sarcophagi covering the damaged reactor (if you see a clip or pictures, it is so ominous and awe striking. It makes you shiver).

The Mood of the Russian people

Now let me discuss the mood of the Russian people who I see on the street, the people who I talk to, and what I read and watch on local tv. Russians differ in their assessment of the war. By far the broadest section supports their president, and especially their armed forces. They are mainly working class, solid people, nationalists, and the majority of the left including CPRF.

Since the nomination of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats’ obsession with Russia’s and Trump’s supposed ties with them, these Democrats have played a terrible role in pushing the Russian people more to the right. Anything that is seen as part of the Democrats, like BLM, MeToo, or LGBT is derided here. White supremacy is on the rise. I have tried on many occasions to explain, for example, BLM. The conversation usually begins with “I don’t take a knee before a N.” So, I have to explain the rules of US football, who Colin Kaepernick is and the conditions of his kneeling during the national anthem. Presenting the subtleties of this is not easy when Russians are already riled up. The Communist Party in Ukraine was prohibited many years ago and in this void came nationalism and religion. Both cards were used to divide the Russians and the Ukrainians. Russia has officially declared that the aim of their operation in the Ukraine is demilitarization and denazification.

Then there is a loud minority of very young people guided by NGOs financed by the West, part of the humanitarian intellectuals, artists, and actors. They are against their army and its operations in the Ukraine. The Russian Government has started taking measures against openly anti-Russian channels like Echo Moscow and Dozhd/Rain.

The situation in Russia is characterized by a retreat of the liberals and pro-western opposition. The polls show that the support for the president is 75% as of today, March 11. The street is calm, my apartment is near a university and campus and I see hundreds of young people going about their studies. I see people shopping, and I go shopping too. No panic, no rush. If the West thinks by imposing draconian sanctions it will change the mood of the people, then it is right but exactly in the opposite direction, instead of the critical and quite often satiric attitude towards the authorities. In fact, they are consolidating and supporting it.  A new world is being born and Russia with all her faults and problems is the midwife and godmother. I will stop here but I have lot more to say. Please let us continue with the dialogue

With affection and respect

HCE

Dear Bruce,

Before writing on my observations on religious hostilities, allow me to make some notes on what the Ukraine fascist and ultra-national ideology is based on and where it comes from.  I will not go too far back in history but pick it up after WW2.

Nazi collaborators and their role:

The Ukrainian government after the disintegration of the Soviet Union till today, with V. Zelensky have tried their best to whitewash and portray these collaborators as heroes and founders of the Ukraine State. I have chosen to describe Stepan Bandera, who probably is the most popular among the fascists who march with his portrait. Kindly find below my translation from Russian about Bandera. I have taken extracts from an article and what seemed to me important that would provide an idea of the basis for fascism.

The History of S. Bandera and the rehabilitation of fascism in Ukraine including by V. Zelensky

Bandera Stepan Andreevich was a leader and organizer of the Ukrainian national movement in Western Ukraine and considered a terrorist. He was a member of the Ukrainian military organization (from 1928) and the Organization of the Ukraine nationalists (OUN) from 1929, and organizer of a series of terrorist acts. Bandera was condemned by the Polish authorities to life in prison and his memory has not been rehabilitated till now. He was considered a criminal. 

Stepan Bandera and his supporters sought “independence” through violence, revolution, and genocide. The theoretical activity of the Bandera supporters started in Poland, their most notorious terror cases was the killing of government personalities Soviet Cousul Andre Mailov in 1933. In 1934 he participated in the organization in the killing of the Polish minister of interior Bronislav Peratski and the director of the Ukraine academic gymnasium Ivan Babi. He organized an explosion in the offices of the “Pratsia” newspaper.

In the summer of 1934, polish authorities arrested Bandera. On January 13, 1936, Stepan Bandera and his accomplices were sentenced to death for the murder of Peratski. Then the death penalty was changed to life in prison, which he spent till 1939 in Polish prisons. After the Nazis occupied Poland in 1939 he was freed.

During the German occupation, Bandera and his supporters cooperated with Hitler’s Germany and they terrorized the population. Poles and Jews were killed most of all. Immediately after the capture of Lvov the Bander, supporters jointly carried out mass pogroms.

In our days in Ukraine one of the dates that is commemorated as the “liberation movement for the independence of Ukraine” is 30 June 1941, when the Bandera supporters in Lvov declared the restoration of the Ukrainian state. In the “Act of the declaration of the Ukraine state”, there was the following point:

“The newly created Ukraine state will closely cooperate with the great National –Socialist Germany under the leadership of its leader Adolf Hitler, who is creating a new order in Europe the world and helps Ukraine to free itself from the Moscow occupation”

After the war, Stepan Bandera lived in Munich and worked for the British security services. A Soviet agent executed him in 1959.

The Ukraine authorities and V. Zelensky personally make a hero out of Bandera. Monuments are erected and marches take place in his honor in which the participants call for the killing of Russians. The original text of the link above contains pictures of the fascists in Ukraine during their marches, as well as a document in Ukrainian and its Russian translation, where Bandera and his supporters glorify Hitler and fawn over the Nazis, I recommend taking a look at it.

This is the ideology of a minority that has managed, with the financing and support of the West, to create an atmosphere of hate and terror, Russophobia, and xenophobia. The forces that could have stood up to them were either banned (the communists), or brainwashed and tempted by the dream of EU and NATO.

Fascist and nationalistic ideology in Ukraine is not a phenomenon that is purely local. it is part of the populist ultra-right ideas that have swept Europe and the US. These include the appearance of fascist movements that rode on the wave of capitalist austerity instability, lack of steady employment, to scapegoating refugees for the lack of capitalist prosperity.

Place of Religion: Ukraine Greek Orthodox vs Ukraine Greek Catholic Church  

There is another card that has been played by the west, the card of religion. Little has been said in the western media about this, but the fact that religion started to play a big role in the life of the people of the countries who were living in what was the  Soviet Union is undeniable. People of various classes and occupations became religious, some even fanatics.

Very briefly, historically in Ukraine there were two main religious tendencies. Ukraine Greek Orthodox in the East and Ukraine Greek Catholic in the West. Relations are not the best. The Ukraine Greek Catholic Church actively cooperated with Nazi Germany during its occupation of Ukraine. Moreover, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Greek Orthodox Church in Ukraine from being part of the Moscow Patriarchy split into different parts mainly along nationalistic lines. This hatred was built not only on theological differences, but on property, including churches and land.

Economic self-sufficiency                                                                                                                             

I do not know whether you have heard Sergei Lavrov’s interview. There were the following words that made an impression on me:

“As for our economic problems, we will deal with them. We have coped with difficulties at all stages of our history when these difficulties arose. But this time, I assure you, we will get out of this crisis with a completely healthy psychology and a healthy consciousness. We will have no illusions about the reliability of the west as a partner. We will not have any illusions that the West, when it talks about its values, does not really believe in its promises and spells, and we will have no illusions that the West is capable of betrayal at any moment. It will betray anyone and betray its own values.” TASS reports Lavrov’s words. (My translation)

With affection and respect

HCE

•  First published at Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post Economic Tectonic Shifts: Letters from Russia first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Sick and Sicker, Dumb and Dumber, Rich and Richer

Quote — “The US will likely end up supplying Ukraine with Switchblade loitering munitions. The system poses a real threat. Nevertheless, the Russian military will likely use the tactics we saw in Syria to neutralize this threat.” (Southfront)

And, well, it is tax time, and these beasts of a nation — Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, MSM — they rally around the military offensive murdering complex for, well, billions thrown at the Nazi regime of Ukraine. And I have to pay more taxes on my subpar wages? Give me a few of those drones, please! Billions of dollars thrown at the most corrupt and evil of them all (well, there are many evil ones, so see this as hyperbole). One contract with this outfit, AeroVironment. Looking into that company, I find its current president to be an interesting man:

Wikipedia — Nawabi is an Afghan sub clan mega Barakzai the majority of this clan played an important role during the Barakzai dynasty – such as Ismail Khan Nawabi.

The name Nawabi is borrowed from the Arabic, being the honorific plural of Naib or “deputy”. The name Nawab is mostly used among South Asians. In Bengal it is pronounced Nowab. The English adjective nawabi (from the Urdu word nawwābī) describes anything associated with a nawab.

He says AeroVironment is a great place to work because: “There is no place like AeroVironment where a group of honorable, smart, and hardworking people can make such a big and positive impact on our lives and society. I am excited and honored to lead such a team in order to help all of our 3 stakeholders Proceed with Certainty.”

Wahid Nawabi

Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yes, the face of the military murdering complex is a smile, a wink, and even a diversity statement validation.

As President and Chief Executive Officer at AEROVIRONMENT INC, Wahid Nawabi made $2,524,773 in total compensation. Of this total $632,319 was received as a salary, $535,513 was received as a bonus, $0 was received in stock options, $1,333,024 was awarded as stock and $23,917 came from other types of compensation. This information is according to proxy statements filed for the 2021 fiscal year. President and Chief Executive Officer. AEROVIRONMENT INC

So, the wink and a nod, all those stock options, all of that base pay, all of it, all predicated on, hmm, contracts. Yes, US GI Joe fed contracts. And, well, a contract is a contract, whether Mario Puzo is writing about it, or if one of the slick female heads of the war complex companies is drafting and signing it. This is one company, which I have previously discussed in general and specifically is really not just one in Santa’s Serial Murder workshops, but one represents dozens of companies (contracted) relying on those contracts for these drones with payloads: wires, optics, diodes, motherboards, paint, metal, gears, etc. Kamikaze drones, what a lovely thing to be proud of, and this company is just one of thousands that makes money off of blood.

The officials told the outlet that the White House is currently considering supplying Ukraine with Switchblades, as part of a new package of military aid. However, they noted that no decisions on the matter have been made, yet.

There are two available variants of the loitering munition, the Switchblade 300 and the 600. The 300 was designed to target personnel and unarmored vehicles. It has a range of 10 kilometers and an endurance of 10 minutes. The larger 600 was designed to destroy armored vehicles, like battle tanks. This version has a range of 80 kilometers and an endurance of up to 20 minutes. (source)

Please, kind reader, look at these people — the website of their team: Aerovironment. For me, they are scary people, for sure, in that they are the paper-pushers and state college grads from engineering programs; they are the marketers, the CPAs and the HR folk. These are what I have faced my entire life teaching — people who have no reservation about making money selling drugs that kill (Big Pharma) or booze that kills or anything that kills, both human or environment. Look at their biographies on the “About Us” page above. This is the banality of evil, and I am afraid, that evil is much much deeper engrained than Hannah Arendt could have conjured up because there is no “great war,” no great global war against Nazis and fascists, as in WWII. It’s all transactional, money for blood, weapons ‘r us!

Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think.

— Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 1958

I’m not sure she was thinking of the pure structural/sanctions-led/financial tyranny of capitalism, that soft tyranny of western consumerism, the constant inverted tyranny in a world where most First World folk eat, drink, sleep oil. A world that is run by business men and business women, under the umbrella of the Deep State and government thugs. I do not think she was in the know around how pernicious the marketing of lies and evil doing was under the guidance of a fellow Jew, Edward (Freud) Bernays. But she was onto something, for sure:

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”

― Hannah ArendtThe Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

You see, the totalitarianism is in the marketing of these spoils of war, and the war minders, and the war industry. Look at this company’s founder, Paul MacCready. Check him out on Wikipedia — Paul B. MacCready Jr. (September 25, 1925 – August 28, 2007) was an American aeronautical engineer. He was the founder of AeroVironment and the designer of the human-powered aircraft that won the first Kremer prize. He devoted his life to developing more efficient transportation vehicles that could “do more with less.”

In so many ways, MacCready represents the best and the brightest of his generation, the hope for mankind, the genius of the American System producing tools of war, tools of profit. He represents the undying American work ethic, with only the heavens (err, he said sky, as he was an avowed atheist) as his limit.

That is it, really — the biography of a military industrial complex tool of death, all started in the twinkle of a 15-year-old MacCready’s eye when he was designing planes and gliders in 1940. Now? Every sort of munition and payload delivered in the fuselages of those toys. Heck, why not drone-carrying bugs injected or engineered with viruses?

CNBC 3/16/2022: “Stocks making the biggest moves midday: Alibaba, AeroVironment, Boeing and more”. Again, success at the start of the trading and the end of the day bell on Wall Street! Get US taxpayer contract in the millions, and see you stock rise rise rise like sour dough bread,

Dark Side of Delivery: The Growing Threat of Bioweapon Dissemination by Drones —

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The Blunt Economic, Mental, Spiritual Ravages of the Millionaires

Oh, you can pull a million images and a million news briefs from the Internet to illustrate the powerful and their stupidity and their absolute disdain for the rest of us.

Kamala Harris laughs after question on Ukrainian refugees

She laughs when asked about refugees, this time, from Ukraine. She is laughing about being in either the west or east flank in Poland. She doesn’t know for sure. This is the blunt end of a hammer. They all may be woke and full of civet-feces coffee and gourmet bacon-laced canopies, but they are still blunt ends of the stick. Look, she’s a multimillionaire, so they have a million and one excuses to go with their greenbacks. (Here, one source, RT, banned, on her “gaffs”!)

They all are —  those old policy makers, those politicians, those diplomats — mulimillionaires. They are the blunt end of the protection rackets for the super rich and billionaire class. However, even multimillionaires can, with a pronouncement, a flip of the hand, jigger of the computer mouse, they can say, “We deem all Russian things off limits.” Imagine the power, and then those countries like China, so-called all powerful, accepting some of the sanctions, for now. USA is one tough hombre.

This is serious stuff — read Whitney’s, “Twice in a Century: Russia Faces a War of Annihilation”!

So, then, the $5.5 a gallon for gasoline. Again, the multimillionaires, the Greta “I Am Aspergers” Thornberg’s, they can all applaud the hurt locker their leaders are unleashing on the common folk (Russians), and we know Greta’s parents are, well, they are Swedish millionaires (with a small “m”). Actors! Whew!

Wheat prices, doubling? Electricity, doubling? Food shortages and food tripling? That is, doubling and tripling of the price of these items. When you are a multimillionaire like Biden or Harris, Nuland or Kagen (even DoD Generals are millionaires), and when your pay is a taxpayer-dredged paycheck, and when you have an all-expenses-paid suite of benefits, and when you have insider trader information, and when you have full-spectrum health care, and when you have accountants, CPAs, financial advisors in the backrooms assisting you, this doubling of foodstuffs, this dollar or two/three more for a gallon of gasoline, well, that’s a laughing matter. . . for THEM. I’ve heard many a multimillionaire Mainstream Media Press Hoaxes telling you and telling me and telling all those home health workers and slave wage workers that we have to suck it up, that is, this is the small small price to pay in order to liberate (send billions in terrorist-headed small and large arms) Ukraine for capitalism, well, they call it PayDay Democracy with a big “d” for Dollar.  When you are making these funny jokes and imbecilic comments, as we hear from Harris on down the line of Georgetown-Harvard-Stanford-Yale grads, and yet there still will be no pitchforks and gallows for you, and, alas, that small price to pay for mainstreet USA and pensioner USA, well, well, they can still have a very fine and fun life in their multimillionaire dollar homes . . . . It is the sacrifice they take, letting us know, we should sacrifice, and yet we will consume their junk, gobble up their celebrity feces, wait with bated breath for their words and deeds to be announced on MDM, as they continue with their fun lives, no matter if the gallon goes to $5 or $7 or $10 a gallon.

But, then, think of granny. Think of her meds going up-up-up! The foodstuffs going up-up-up. And if she has a leak under her sink, or if she has a puddle of mud outside the door along the pathway out gushing into her basement . . .  and if she has a car that needs some new used tires and spark plugs . . . and if she needs to visit friends once in a while one-way in that vehicle, say, 120 miles one way (she lives in a rural abode) . . .  and if she has a cat that needs teeth pulled . . .  and if she dares thinks about seeing an ailing sister across the country via a plane, oh, well, let’s laugh at the pain she is now under. You know how much a plane ticket is? That’s the laughing break-point for granny. From podunk town Oregon to Virginia, or Florida: do the math on what a Roundtrip ticket sets granny back. But then these left/right politicians and woke/woodern corporate leaders can say, “Suck it up. It’s only $5 a gallon for gas. Look what those blonde and blue eyed ones in the Ukraine are suffering. Suck it up for a Ukraine refugee” (recall: eat all those spuds and green beans cuz a kid in China is starving . . . .!)

Let’s have a great laughing circle jerk as sanctions kill, and lies and mass incompetence murder people, and massive war profiteering wounds both humanity and townships, and where massive Covid-19 profiteering creates lingering death and long-term mental instability. As massive stock trading on those futures and those offensive weapons companies grow grow grow, while the Kamala Harrises of the world, really, get into the cackling mood on any number of topics for which she knows nothing, we are the sufferers.  All those multimillionaire laughing hyenas, and I see Hillary and Bill are at it again with their continuing criminal enterprise, the Clinton Foundation!

Hyena Facts - Animal Facts Encyclopedia

Let’s hear about Elon Musk’s latest creepy surrogate childbirth. Let’s hear about this $1 million here and that $20 million there shoved down some redneck university football coach’s mouth while the college students are under another load of debt.

Fans shocked by Elon Musk and Grimes' new baby boy's unusual name | HELLO!

Let’s laugh it all off, the reality of this war, or that incursion, this sanction/that sanction, or that weaponized economic movement toward more of the gilded laughing class, that Hyena Laughing Multimillionaire Chorus. We can have Stephen Colbert help us laugh. Where’s Jon Leibowitz Stewart and Sean Penn when we need them? We need their multimillionaire advice, ASAP, and their laughs! “It’s only a few bucks more for a gallon of gas . . .  deal with it,” old Colbert chortled.

Imagine, all those months and years The Putin warned against all that EU-Nato-UK-USA aggressive shit coming to Russia’s borders. All those times he petitioned, nyet, nyet, nyet!

Shifting now to make an analogy — Now, interestingly, I have been involved in a SWAT killing, that is, one of our clients — homeless veteran — had a suicidal moment alone, in his truck, with a handgun. Roads cordoned off. Everything around the Portland Salvation Army’s facility lock-downed. News at Six and Headlines at Ten there. Massive police armed presence. Armored trucks and gun turret vehicle, and then, of course, all guns drawn and three nifty SEAL trained snipers.

They gave him two and a half hours to get his shit together, and then, bam, 13 shots, seven to the body. He was handcuffed and lived. He was by himself. Suicide Not By Cops.

Or, just yesterday, in the rural community where I scratch out sanity:  “Police shoot, kill suspect after alleged bomb threat during standoff

Bomb-Threat

Another two-hour standoff. And, then, bullets to the head. Imagine that. I have been around cops most of my life, and I was a city and rural reporter, newspapers, that is, and covered the cop beats — local, feds, military, county. I have interviewed FBI, and I have been in some K9 units for both city and military cops. The bottom line is — there is absolutely a one in a million chance someone who threatens cops in a standoff in his car yelling “bomb, bomb, bomb” has a bomb. Absolutely Zero chance, really. Lots of TV shows and Netflix series, aside.

So, Putin gives the world, the EU, the UK-USA-Five Eyes, Nato, what, a month, a year, several years, eight years warning about needing those missiles and other weapons off of Ukraine’s soil?

Nothing like the Monroe Doctrine, which states that there shall be no military or no nothing allowed in the Western Hemisphere, err, in the US’s Neighborhood; i.e., backyard!

That old soft shoe — survival of the fittest or most riches or best placed bribes. That loving spoonful, here, all those pensioners, all those with multiple chronic illnesses, all those people in housing that is falling apart, all those loans hobbling folk. Choices between medications, or food. This is the country, man, USA, this is it for the epitome of exceptionalism.

Those $57 billion in loans the other laughing hyena, Zelensky the Comic, that’s what he wants forgiven. Laughing, while demanding more weaponry, more billions. That’s the jig is up game when you are a testing lab (country) for GMOs, drugs, and, well, bioweapons.

Putin's provocations are met with ridicule in Ukraine | TheHill

It’s funny stuff, the billions he has in Costa Rica (maybe) and the mansion in Florida ($28 million valued). These are laughing matters, and VP Harris is just one in a long line of laughers in the multimillionaire category; or for those in the billionaire’s “mile high screw the hundreds of millions of us club,” the laughing is incredible, cowboy hats and all!

See the source image

This is serious, and no laughing matter, unless you are Nuland and Biden and Harris and the US’s spy agents: “Documents expose US biological experiments on allied soldiers in Ukraine and Georgia” by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva! Ahh, that funny “fake news.” Now, Colbert, let’s all line up and laugh!

Again, granny and the kiddos. When I was working as a reporter in Southern Arizona, I did a couple of pieces on the O’Malley Clan — a group of people, many in the same family, who would take their panel trucks and pick-up trucks and go to trailer parks and low income housing tracts and get old people to pay for roofing, for gutter work, for all sorts of things that the O’Malley Clan said needed fixing. Then, up on the roof, and a five gallon white can of paint later, leaky roof fixed. A cool $800 cash for a $75 five gallon of roof sealant. This is the style of the American who sees PT Barnum as a god, that sucker born every second, man oh man, that god.

Of course, States Attorney General had some squads trying to break up those O’Malley rings, but imagine, now 42 years later, and the amount of pure scam, pure fraud, pure bilking, pure rip-off, pure lying and chronic cheating that have cascaded into the American culture.

The amount of multiple millions stolen from granny and from kiddo is out the roof, out of the sky. And those Laughing Politicians and All Those Amazing Celebrities, all of them, just rah-rahing the sanctions, the price of oil going up up up, all the strain and weathering on common people who can’t afford what’s going on in their Circle Jerks.

The blame is on capitalism, on predatory and casino capitalism. The Gilded Agers, the deep state, all those Eichmann’s making money with the blood of granny and kiddo on their hands.

The laughing all the way to their offshore banks — and then, well, DeltaCron will be coming to a neighborhood around Halloween.

Those bioweapons, man:

Every day, every moment of these scams, these false flags, this depravity of Empire USA, all of those things, shit, it is, as McGovern and Mearsheimer and Matlock say, this is not a done deal, MSM.

Those chickens have come home to roost and roost and crap and crap:

A revealing Portside article of Feb. 14 describes how 36 American states either have or are seeking to pass laws that censor the teaching of both local and national history so as to tell a traditional, Eurocentric story. This effort seeks to deny the demonstrable facts about the role racism has played in shaping social and economic development since the nation’s inception. Against this trend, 17 U.S. states have moved to officially expand their history and social studies curriculum to make it more racially and class inclusive.

We should state clearly that the teaching of such a culturally approved official history has always been pursued in the United States, and is indeed not just an American tactic. It is a ubiquitous practice in much of the world. As public education evolved in the American colonies during the 19th century, it had specific goals: (1) to make the young as literate and skilled as necessary for an evolving capitalist economy and (2) to teach political loyalty. If in this effort there was any reference to or concern for “the truth,” it was allegedly to be represented by the daily repetition of the Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.  — Lawrence Davidson

[ The “En L’An 2000,” or “Life in Year 2000” by Jean-Marc Côté depicts the futuristic culturization of humanity. (Françoise Foliot , Wikimédia France, Paris, CC BY-SA 4.0) ]

But, again, it’s the old lady down the lane. The man and child living in their RV, and it is the person just trying to live out a life with few things having no one willing to come out and saw up the downed tree and patch the hole in the side of the house. Little homes with roof bids at $20,000!

Those lovely places, Israel, now Ukraine, where money is stuffed, again, down those Hyenas’ mouths while the land here is more and more susceptible to waves, winds, rising oceans, inundation.

Pacific Northwest coastal communities are at risk from earthquakes, including “The Really Big One”, tsunamis, sea level rise, landslides, erosion, and increased precipitation. Stretching from Cape Mendocino, California through Oregon and Washington to Vancouver Island, Canada, these Cascadia communities are calling for “a coordinated research agenda among universities, governmental agencies, NGOs, and others” to help them achieve resilience to these coastal hazards. (Event, March 16) 

Yet, here we are, the war, the Putin, after how many years stating that EU-UK-USA-Five Eyes-Nato to stand down.

Pity the Nation

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them…
Pity the nation oh pity the people
Who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away

– Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 2007

Scott Ritter:

I see the same template in play again today when it comes to the difficult topic of Russia. Like every issue of importance, the Russian-Ukraine conflict has two sides to its story. The humanitarian tragedy that has befallen the citizens of Ukraine is perhaps the greatest argument one can offer up in opposition to the Russian military incursion. But was there surely a viable diplomatic off ramp available which could have avoided this horrific situation?

To examine that question, however, one must be able and willing to engage in a fact-based discussion of Russian motives. The main problem with this approach is that the narrative which would emerge is not convenient for those who espouse the Western dogma of “Putinism,” based as it is on the irrational proclivities and geopolitical appetite of one man — Vladimir Putin.

The issue of NATO expansion and the threat it posed to Russian national security is dismissed with the throw-away notion that NATO is a defensive alliance and as such could pose no threat to Russia or its leader. The issue of the presence of the cancer of neo-Nazi ideology in the heart of the Ukrainian government and national identity is countered with the “fact” that Ukraine’s current president is himself a Jew. The eight-year suffering of the Russian-speaking citizens of the Donbass, who lived and died under the incessant bombardment brought on by the Ukrainian military, is simply ignored as if it never happened. (Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.)

Wow! A picture says a million words from 100 million misinformed people:

 

Putin Russiagate Feature

But then, this fellow, Larry Summers, what a poster we can make for him, USA felon on multiple crimes: Larry Summers is something else. He loves to say women cannot be great scholars in math and sciences.

See the source image

Max Blumenthal on Twitter: “Larry Summers – who presided over the demolition and plundering of Russia’s economy in the 1990’s and pushed policies that led to the US financial crash – says Americans need to suffer higher gas & food prices and inflation ‘as the price of fighting tyranny.'”

A new book claims that the Obama White House is a boys’ club marred by rampant infighting that has hindered the administration’s economic policy and left top female advisers feeling excluded from key conversations.

Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, by journalist Ron Suskind due out next Tuesday, details the rivalries among Obama’s top economic advisers, Larry Summers, former chairman of the National Economic Council, and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. It describes constant second-guessing by Summers, now at Harvard, who was seen by others as “imperious and heavy-handed” in his decision-making.

In an excerpt obtained by The Post, a female senior aide to President Obama called the White House a hostile environment for women.

“This place would be in court for a hostile workplace,” former White House communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying. “Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.” (source)

This seems like the poster plastered around town, no, or is Word Press now in the employ of the censors? Maybe we can put a question mark behind, “8 Real Threats to Humanity?” Does that work better?

See the source image

The post The Blunt Economic, Mental, Spiritual Ravages of the Millionaires first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Blinken Foreign Policy

It must be a sure handicap to be saddled with such a name when piloting a large government department, but US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shows no sign of that bothering him.  It has, however, become a hallmark of a policy that is markedly devoid of foresight and heavily marked by stammering confusion.

On his trip to Australia, Blinken showed us, again, how morality and forced ethics in the international scene can be the stuff of particularly bad pantomime.  He sounded, all too often, as an individual sighing about the threats to US power while inflating those of its adversaries.  Russia and China were, as they tend to be these days, at the front of the queue of paranoid agitation.

In an interview with The Australian, Blinken was adamant that “there’s little doubt that China’s ambition over time is to be the leading military, economic, diplomatic and political power not just in the region, but in the world.”  He admitted that the US had its own version of an “international order” – but that vision was “liberal”.  Beijing’s was profoundly inappropriate.  “China wants an (international) order, but the difference is its world order would be profoundly illiberal.”

Blinken was also pleased at what he saw on his visit to the University of Melbourne.  “My stepfather is an alumnus, so that was wonderful to reconnect, also just to talk to some remarkable young Australians who are really the future of the relationship, the partnership between us – incredibly engaged, incredibly smart, incredibly thoughtful about the present and the future.”  And, no doubt, handpicked for the occasion.

Russia’s behaviour was also the subject of the Blinken treatment.  Australians, warned the secretary, faced a solemn choice before Moscow’s stratagems.  “Russia, right now,” he told an Australian news program on the ABC, “poses an immediate challenge, not just to Ukraine … but to some very basic principles that are relevant to the security not just to people in Europe, but throughout the world, including Australia.”  That’s considerable reach for a power with an economy that is only marginally larger than Australia’s.

Blinken’s babble about international liberal orders and territorial integrity echoes the Truman Doctrine in the early stages of the Cold War, one that ended up bloodied and sodden in the rice fields and jungles of Indochina.  In time, variations of this same, pathetic overreading of imminent crises and threats would propel US forces into Iraq and Afghanistan, and what a supreme mess those engagements turned out to be.  All that mattered were the substitutes: in the case of Afghanistan, Islamic fundamentalism twinned with terrorism; in the case of Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction never found and forced links with al-Qaeda never proved.

Blinken’s visit had also inspired the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to wax lyrical about the sanctity of borders, something that proved somewhat irrelevant when Australia’s defence personnel found themselves serving as auxiliaries of US military efforts.  He wanted “to send a very clear message on behalf of Australia, a liberal democracy who believes in freedom and the sovereignty of states, not just in Europe, but in our region as well – that the autocratic, unilateral actions of Russia [are considered] to be threatening, and bullying Ukraine is something that is completely and utterly unacceptable.”

Despite such statements, little is being done to stop the trains heading towards the precipice of conflict.  Everything is being said about getting citizens of other countries out of Ukraine before the bloody resolution.  In late January, of the 129 diplomatic missions based in Ukraine, four had announced the departure of family members of personnel: the US, UK, Australia and Germany.

US President Joe Biden has been the leading voice on this move, adding kindling in urging that, “American citizens should leave, and should leave now.”  In an interview with NBC News, he did nothing to quell concerns.  “We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world.  This is a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly.”

The Australians, unimaginatively obedient, have also issued similar calls of evacuation, suggesting imminent conflict.  Canberra has become rather adept at evacuating embassy staff and shutting down operations in the face of a crisis.  “Given the deteriorating security situation caused by the build up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne stated, “the Government has directed the departure of staff at the Australian embassy at Kyiv.”

Ukrainian officials have not been too impressed by these very public sentiments of jumping ship.  Volodymyr Shalkivskyi, based at the Ukrainian embassy in Canberra, wished to “avoid panic and different kind of rumours that the invasion is inevitable.”  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also told reporters in southern Ukraine that, “The best friend of enemies is panic in our country.”

The Ukrainian premier even went so far as to invite Biden to visit Kyiv to ease tensions, something he is unlikely to do, given the calls to evacuate US citizens.  “I am convinced that your arrival in Kyiv in the coming days, which are crucial for stabilising the situation, will be a powerful signal,” Zelensky is supposed to have said in a call to the US president.  He hoped that this would “help prevent the spread of panic.”

While Zelensky’s role seems increasingly marginal, one blowed sideways by the winds of events increasingly beyond his control, Blinken’s focus, and that of the Biden administration, remains affixed to the Indo-Pacific.  Last year’s AUKUS agreement, negotiated in secret and in defiance of other alliances, including that with France, suggests that whatever Moscow’s intentions, China remains the primary, nerve racking concern.

The post Blinken Foreign Policy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua: The US-Russia Conflict Enters a New Phase

As soon as Moscow received an American response to its security demands in Ukraine, it answered indirectly by announcing greater military integration between it and three South American countries, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba.

Washington’s response, on January 26, to Russia’s demands of withdrawing NATO forces from Eastern Europe and ending talks about a possible Kyiv membership in the US-led alliance, was noncommittal.

For its part, the US spoke of ‘a diplomatic path’, which will address Russian demands through ‘confidence-building measures’. For Russia, such elusive language is clearly a non-starter.

On that same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced, in front of the Duma, Russia’s parliament, that his country “has agreed with the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to develop partnerships in a range of areas, including stepping up military collaboration,” Russia Today reported.

The timing of this agreement was hardly coincidental, of course. The country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov did not hesitate to link the move to the brewing Russia- NATO conflict. Russia’s strategy in South America could potentially be “involving the Russian Navy,” if the US continues to ‘provoke’ Russia. According to Ryabkov, this is Russia’s version of the “American style (of having) several options for its foreign and military policy”.

Now that the Russians are not hiding the motives behind their military engagement in South America, going as far as considering the option of sending troops to the region, Washington is being forced to seriously consider the new variable.

Though US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan denied that Russian military presence in South America was considered in recent security talks between both countries, he described the agreement between Russia and the three South American countries as unacceptable, vowing that the US would react “decisively” to such a scenario.

The truth is, that scenario has already played out in the past. When, in January 2019, the US increased its pressure on Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro to concede power to the US-backed Juan Guaido, a coup seemed imminent. Chaos in the streets of Caracas, and other Venezuelan cities, mass electric outages, lack of basic food and supplies, all seemed part of an orchestrated attempt at subduing Venezuela, which has for years championed a political discourse that is based on independent and well-integrated South American countries.

For weeks, Washington continued to tighten the pressure valves imposing hundreds of sanction orders against Venezuelan entities, state-run companies and individuals. This led to Caracas’ decision to sever diplomatic ties with Washington. Ultimately, Moscow stepped in, sending in March 2019 two military planes full of troops and equipment to prevent any possible attempt at overthrowing Maduro. In the following months, Russian companies poured in to help Venezuela out of its devastating crisis, instigating another US-Russia conflict, where Washington resorted to its favorite weapon, sanctions, this time against Russian oil companies.

The reason that Russia is keen on maintaining a geostrategic presence in South America is due to the fact that a stronger Russian role in that region is coveted by several countries who are desperate to loosen Washington’s grip on their economies and political institutions.

Countries like Cuba, for example, have very little trust in the US. After having some of the decades-long sanctions lifted on Havana during the Obama administration in 2016, new sanctions were imposed during the Trump administration in 2021. That lack of trust in Washington’s political mood swings makes Cuba the perfect ally for Russia. The same logic applies to other South American countries.

It is still too early to speak with certainty about the future of Russia’s military presence in South America. What is clear, though, is the fact that Russia will continue to build on its geostrategic presence in South America, which is also strengthened by the greater economic integration between China and most South American countries. Thanks to the dual US political and economic war on Moscow and Beijing, both countries have fortified their alliance like never before.

What options does this new reality leave Washington with? Not many, especially as Washington has, for years, failed to defeat Maduro in Venezuela or to sway Cuba and others to join the pro-American camp.

Much of the outcome, however, is also dependent on whether Moscow sees itself as part of a protracted geostrategic game in South America. So far, there is little evidence to suggest that Moscow is using South America as a temporary card to be exchanged, when the time comes, for US and NATO concessions in Eastern Europe. Russia is clearly digging its heels, readying itself for the long haul.

For now, Moscow’s message to Washington is that Russia has plenty of options and that it is capable of responding to US pressure with equal or greater pressure. Indeed, if Ukraine is Russia’s red line, then South America – which has fallen under US influence since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 – is the US’s own hemispheric red line.

As the plot thickens in Eastern Europe, Russia’s move in South America promises to add a new component that would make a win-lose scenario in favor of the US and NATO nearly impossible. An alternative outcome is for the US-led alliance to recognize the momentous changes on the world’s geopolitical map, and to simply learn to live with it.

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Biden’s Big Fail… the Russian Invasion Fantasy

© Andrew Harnik

US President Joe Biden accused Russian leader Vladimir Putin of “wanting things he cannot get”. He was referring to Moscow’s security demands in Europe with regard to the US-led NATO military alliance.

Looks like the man in the White House is inadvertently doing a bit of self-projection. It’s Biden who seems to want things that he can’t get.

Top of that wish-list is for Russia to invade Ukraine. If that sounds a bit illogical, then why is Biden so obsessed about predicting an imminent military move by Russia against its western neighbor?

The American president and his administration have been warning that Moscow could order an assault on Ukraine “any day”. Well, days and indeed weeks go by and there is no outcome as touted.

Biden has also predicted that Putin doesn’t want to pursue diplomacy and that the Russian leader is driven to make war. Then a few days later, Putin hosted French President Emmanuel Macron in Moscow for marathon talks about resolving tensions.

Russia has repeatedly rubbished the invasion claims – that have largely emanated from the United States – as baseless hysteria. President Putin said this week he has no intention of escalating the tensions over Ukraine.

Moscow says that troops marshaled within Russia’s borders are not a threat to any neighboring state. The premise of American accusations about internal Russia’s military maneuvers is absurd. The precedent for interference it would establish is an affront to any nation’s sovereignty.

Even the Ukrainian government and security officials have pushed back against the American claims of an imminent Russian invasion.

Nevertheless, in spite of the lack of evidence and rationale, and in spite of a United Nations’ rebuke to desist from such inflammatory rhetoric, Washington keeps insisting on making its bogus predictions of Russian aggression.

So, when is this gargantuan hoax going to be held to account? This contemporary version of “crying wolf” should have political and legal consequences for the hoaxers.

Arguably, the Biden administration’s media campaign regarding Ukraine is a cynical exercise in manipulating public perception and manufacturing a crisis. Washington wants Russia to invade Ukraine in order to justify a US policy of division and conflict. American imperial ambitions for hegemony must rely on inciting tensions and ultimately conflict within Europe and towards Russia.

A specific objective for American global ambitions is to sabotage the strategic energy trade between the European Union and Russia.  The problem for the US is that its charade of Russian aggression is simply not working. That’s because Moscow has no intention of starting a war with Ukraine or anyone else for that matter.

Sure enough, Russia has put down red lines regarding its national security. They include no further eastward expansion of the NATO bloc and the exclusion of offensive American strike weapons from near Russia’s borders. To most reasonable observers, those demands are hardly signs of “aggression”. In fact, they sound like a plausible basis for discussing a new security framework for Europe.

It seems that because the Biden administration can’t get what it wants – that is, a Russian invasion of Ukraine – it is hellbent on forcing or fabricating one.

While European leaders this week anxiously appeal for more diplomacy to avert confrontation, it is salient and damnable that Washington is desperately militarizing the tensions. Biden has ordered more troops to deploy in Eastern Europe provocatively under the pretext of “defending allies from Russian aggression”. His administration is airlifting plane-loads of lethal weaponry to Ukraine which has the seeming intended effect of undermining any chance of finding a peaceful settlement to the Ukrainian civil war that has been simmering since the CIA-backed coup in Kiev in 2014.

It is significant that Washington and London are the most hawkish advocates for trying to impose harsher economic sanctions against Russia. This is while the United States and Britain are taking the lead in militarizing Eastern Europe and talking up belligerence towards Moscow. The combined Anglo-American stance appears to be one of goading Russia into an armed conflict which can then be used as a pretext for sabotaging Europe’s energy relations with Russia.

The danger is that the longer this American charade continues and the fantasy over Russia’s alleged invasion becomes more and more apparent, the risk increases of the US forcing a provocation for war. Perhaps not intended as a direct war, more likely as a proxy war using Ukraine.

President Biden and his administration, as well as the entire US corporate media, are at risk of being exposed in the eyes of the world as war hoaxers. Included in that list of criminal warmongers is Britain.

This portends Biden’s biggest foreign policy failure which, hard to believe, exceeds even the historic US defeat in Afghanistan.

First published in Sputnik International

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After a Year of Biden, Why Do We Still Have Trump’s Foreign Policy?

Getty Images

President Biden and the Democrats were highly critical of President Trump’s foreign policy, so it was reasonable to expect that Biden would quickly remedy its worst impacts. As a senior member of the Obama administration, Biden surely needed no schooling on Obama’s diplomatic agreements with Cuba and Iran, both of which began to resolve long-standing foreign policy problems and provided models for the renewed emphasis on diplomacy that Biden was promising.

Tragically for America and the world, Biden has failed to restore Obama’s progressive initiatives, and has instead doubled down on many of Trump’s most dangerous and destabilizing policies. It is especially ironic and sad that a president who ran so stridently on being different from Trump has been so reluctant to reverse his regressive policies. Now the Democrats’ failure to deliver on their promises with respect to both domestic and foreign policy is undermining their prospects in November’s midterm election.

Here is our assessment of Biden’s handling of ten critical foreign policy issues:

  1. Prolonging the agony of the people of Afghanistan. It is perhaps symptomatic of Biden’s foreign policy problems that the signal achievement of his first year in office was an initiative launched by Trump, to withdraw the United States from its 20-year war in Afghanistan. But Biden’s implementation of this policy was tainted by the same failure to understand Afghanistan that doomed and dogged at least three prior administrations and the U.S.’s hostile military occupation for 20 years, leading to the speedy restoration of the Taliban government and the televised chaos of the U.S. withdrawal.

Now, instead of helping the Afghan people recover from two decades of U.S.-inflicted destruction, Biden has seized $9.4 billion in Afghan foreign currency reserves, while the people of Afghanistan suffer through a desperate humanitarian crisis. It is hard to imagine how even Donald Trump could be more cruel or vindictive.

  1. Provoking a crisis with Russia over Ukraine. Biden’s first year in office is ending with a dangerous escalation of tensions at the Russia/Ukraine border, a situation that threatens to devolve into a military conflict between the world’s two most heavily armed nuclear states–the United States and Russia. The United States bears much responsibility for this crisis by supporting the violent overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine in 2014, backing NATO expansion right up to Russia’s border, and arming and training Ukrainian forces.

Biden’s failure to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate security concerns has led to the present impasse, and Cold Warriors within his administration are threatening Russia instead of proposing concrete measures to de-escalate the situation.

  1. Escalating Cold War tensions and a dangerous arms race with China. President Trump launched a tariff war with China that economically damaged both countries, and reignited a dangerous Cold War and arms race with China and Russia to justify an ever-increasing U.S. military budget.

After a decade of unprecedented U.S. military spending and aggressive military expansion under Bush II and Obama, the U.S. “pivot to Asia” militarily encircled China, forcing it to invest in more robust defense forces and advanced weapons. Trump, in turn, used China’s strengthened defenses as a pretext for further increases in U.S. military spending, launching a new arms race that has raised the existential risk of nuclear war to a new level.

Biden has only exacerbated these dangerous international tensions. Alongside the risk of war, his aggressive policies toward China have led to an ominous rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, and created obstacles to much-needed cooperation with China to address climate change, the pandemic and other global problems.

  1. Abandoning Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. After President Obama’s sanctions against Iran utterly failed to force it to halt its civilian nuclear program, he finally took a progressive, diplomatic approach, which led to the JCPOA nuclear agreement in 2015. Iran scrupulously met all its obligations under the treaty, but Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA in 2018. Trump’s withdrawal was vigorously condemned by Democrats, including candidate Biden, and Senator Sanders promised to rejoin the JCPOA on his first day in office if he became president.

Instead of immediately rejoining an agreement that worked for all parties, the Biden administration thought it could pressure Iran to negotiate a “better deal.” Exasperated Iranians instead elected a more conservative government and Iran moved forward on enhancing its nuclear program.

A year later, and after eight rounds of shuttle diplomacy in Vienna, Biden has still not rejoined the agreement. Ending his first year in the White House with the threat of another Middle East war is enough to give Biden an “F” in diplomacy.

  1. Backing Big Pharma over a People’s Vaccine. Biden took office as the first Covid vaccines were being approved and rolled out across the United States and the world. Severe inequities in global vaccine distribution between rich and poor countries were immediately apparent and became known as “vaccine apartheid.”

Instead of manufacturing and distributing vaccines on a non-profit basis to tackle the pandemic as the global public health crisis that it is, the United States and other Western countries chose to maintain the neoliberal regime of patents and corporate monopolies on vaccine manufacture and distribution. The failure to open up the manufacture and distribution of vaccines to poorer countries gave the Covid virus free rein to spread and mutate, leading to new global waves of infection and death from the Delta and Omicron variants

Biden belatedly agreed to support a patent waiver for Covid vaccines under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, but with no real plan for a “People’s Vaccine,” Biden’s concession has made no impact on millions of preventable deaths.

  1. Ensuring catastrophic global warming at COP26 in Glasgow. After Trump stubbornly ignored the climate crisis for four years, environmentalists were encouraged when Biden used his first days in office to rejoin the Paris climate accord and cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline.

But by the time Biden got to Glasgow, he had let the centerpiece of his own climate plan, the Clean Energy Performance Program (CEPP), be stripped out of the Build Back Better bill in Congress at the behest of fossil-fuel industry sock-puppet Joe Manchin, turning the U.S. pledge of a 50% cut from 2005 emissions by 2030 into an empty promise.

Biden’s speech in Glasgow highlighted China and Russia’s failures, neglecting to mention that the United States has higher emissions per capita than either of them. Even as COP26 was taking place, the Biden administration infuriated activists by putting oil and gas leases up for auction for 730,000 acres of the American West and 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. At the one-year mark, Biden has talked the talk, but when it comes to confronting Big Oil, he is not walking the walk, and the whole world is paying the price.

  1. Political prosecutions of Julian Assange, Daniel Hale and Guantanamo torture victims. Under President Biden, the United States remains a country where the systematic killing of civilians and other war crimes go unpunished, while whistleblowers who muster the courage to expose these horrific crimes to the public are prosecuted and jailed as political prisoners.

In July 2021, former drone pilot Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison for exposing the killing of civilians in America’s drone wars. WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange still languishes in Belmarsh Prison in England, after 11 years fighting extradition to the United States for exposing U.S. war crimes.

Twenty years after it set up an illegal concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to imprison 779 mostly innocent people kidnapped around the world, 39 prisoners remain there in illegal, extrajudicial detention. Despite promises to close this sordid chapter of U.S. history, the prison is still functioning and Biden is allowing the Pentagon to actually build a new, closed courtroom at Guantanamo to more easily keep the workings of this gulag hidden from public scrutiny.

  1. Economic siege warfare against the people of Cuba, Venezuela and other countries. Trump unilaterally rolled back Obama’s reforms on Cuba and recognized unelected Juan Guaidó as the “president” of Venezuela, as the United States tightened the screws on its economy with “maximum pressure” sanctions.

Biden has continued Trump’s failed economic siege warfare against countries that resist U.S. imperial dictates, inflicting endless pain on their people without seriously imperiling, let alone bringing down, their governments. Brutal U.S. sanctions and efforts at regime change have universally failed for decades, serving mainly to undermine the United States’s own democratic and human rights credentials.

Juan Guaidó is now the least popular opposition figure in Venezuela, and genuine grassroots movements opposed to U.S. intervention are bringing popular democratic and socialist governments to power across Latin America, in Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Honduras – and maybe Brazil in 2022.

  1. Still supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and its repressive ruler. Under Trump, Democrats and a minority of Republicans in Congress gradually built a bipartisan majority that voted to withdraw from the Saudi-led coalition attacking Yemen and stop sending arms to Saudi Arabia. Trump vetoed their efforts, but the Democratic election victory in 2020 should have led to an end to the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Instead, Biden only issued an order to stop selling “offensive” weapons to Saudi Arabia, without clearly defining that term, and went on to okay a $650 million weapons sale. The United States still supports the Saudi war, even as the resulting humanitarian crisis kills thousands of Yemeni children. And despite Biden’s pledge to treat the Saudis’ cruel leader, MBS, as a pariah, Biden refused to even sanction MBS for his barbaric murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

  1. Still complicit in illegal Israeli occupation, settlements and war crimes. The United States is Israel’s largest arms supplier, and Israel is the world’s largest recipient of U.S. military aid (approximately $4 billion annually), despite its illegal occupation of Palestine, widely condemned war crimes in Gaza and illegal settlement building. U.S. military aid and arms sales to Israel clearly violate the U.S. Leahy Laws and Arms Export Control Act.

Donald Trump was flagrant in his disdain for Palestinian rights, including tranferring the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to a property in Jerusalem that is only partly within Israel’s internationally recognized border, a move that infuriated Palestinians and drew international condemnation.

But nothing has changed under Biden. The U.S. position on Israel and Palestine is as illegitimate and contradictory as ever, and the U.S. Embassy to Israel remains on illegally occupied land. In May, Biden supported the latest Israeli assault on Gaza, which killed 256 Palestinians, half of them civilians, including 66 children.

Conclusion

Each part of this foreign policy fiasco costs human lives and creates regional–even global–instability. In every case, progressive alternative policies are readily available. The only thing lacking is political will and independence from corrupt vested interests.

The United States has squandered unprecedented wealth, global goodwill and a historic position of international leadership to pursue unattainable imperial ambitions, using military force and other forms of violence and coercion in flagrant violation of the UN Charter and international law.

Candidate Biden promised to restore America’s position of global leadership, but has instead doubled down on the policies through which the United States lost that position in the first place, under a succession of Republican and Democratic administrations. Trump was only the latest iteration in America’s race to the bottom.

Biden has wasted a vital year doubling down on Trump’s failed policies. In the coming year, we hope that the public will remind Biden of its deep-seated aversion to war and that he will respond—albeit reluctantly—by adopting more dovish and rational ways.

The post After a Year of Biden, Why Do We Still Have Trump’s Foreign Policy? first appeared on Dissident Voice.