Newsbud Roundtable- “A Turning Point in the Middle East & the Fall of an Empire!”

Newsbud Founder-Editor Sibel Edmonds joins foremost Middle East expert and analyst Prof. William Engdahl and top Russia-Balkans expert Professor Filip Kovacevic in a one-of-a-kind roundtable discussion on a Turning Point in the Middle East and the fall of the US Empire. Our distinguished panelists discuss Turkey’s major shift away from NATO and into further alliance with Russia, Iran and the rest of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the contentious coming Kurdish referendum, the recent Turkey-Germany spat, the CIA’s Fethullah Gulen’s infiltration of the German government, and much more.

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Show Notes

Turkey’s Shift from NATO Is Redrawing the Map

Turkey Urges Iraqi Kurds to Abandon Independence Vote

U.S. Urges Kurdistan to Delay Independence Referendum

Germany’s Juncker Says Erdogan’s Turkey Taking Giant Steps Away From EU

According to Germany’s Gabriel, “Turkey will never be EU member under Erdogan”

Berlin has been Intensifying Agitation against Turkey

Kurds Drive a Wedge between US and Turkey

US-Rebels Clash in Syria Becomes Attempt to 'Prevent Turkey from Entering Afrin'

Mandarin for the Warlords: The Harvard School of Empire Building

James Petras Takes on high-level-hardline military hawk Harvard professor Joseph Nye

Introduction: Harvard professor Joseph Nye, a former senior Pentagon functionary, is one of the longest serving and most influential advisers to US empire building officials. Nye has recently re-affirmed the primacy of the US as a world power in his latest book, Is the American Century Over? And his article, ‘The American Century will survive the Rise of China’ (Financial Times, 3/26/15, p. 7).

These publications are in line with his earlier book, Bound to Lead, and his longstanding view that the US is not a declining world power, that it retains ‘supremacy’ even in the face of China’s rise to global power.

Nye’s views of US world supremacy have served to encourage Washington to wage multiple wars ; his sanguine view of US economic power has allowed policy-makers to ignore fundamental weaknesses in the US economy and to overestimate US power, based on what he dubs, ‘soft’ and ‘military’ power.

In tackling Professor Nye’s work, we are not dealing with a ‘detached academic in the ivory tower’ – we are taking on a high level political influential, a hardline military hawk, whose views are reflected in the forging of strategic decisions and whose arguments serve to justify major government policies.

First, we will proceed through a critical analysis of his theoretical assumptions, historical arguments and conceptual framework. In the second part of this essay, we will consider the political consequences, which have flowed from his analysis and prescriptions. In the conclusion, we shall propose an alternative, more realistic, analysis of US global power, one more attuned to the real international position of the US in the world today.

Nye is Ossified in His Distorted Time Warp

Nye’s segmentation of power into three spheres – economic, military (hard), and diplomatic/cultural (soft), overlooks the inter-relation between them. What he dubs as ‘soft power’ usually relies on ‘hard power’, either before, during or after the application of ‘soft power’. Moreover, the capacity to influence by ‘soft power’ depends on economic promise or military coercion to enforce ‘persuasion’. Where economic resources or military threats are not present, soft power is ineffective.

Nye’s argument that military power is co-equal with economic power is a very dubious proposition. Over the medium run, economic power buys, expands and increases military power. In other words, economic resources are convertible into military as well as ‘soft power’. It can influence politicians, parties and regimes via trade, investments and credit in many ways which military power cannot. Over time, economic power translates into military power. Nye’s claims of persistent US military superiority in the face of its admitted economic decline is ephemeral or time bound.

Nye’s argument about the continued ascendancy of US global power ‘for the next few decades’ is a dubious, static view – ignoring a long-term, large-scale, historical trajectory. Lifelong shibboleths never die! By all empirical indicators - economic, political and even militarily, the US is a declining power. Moreover, what is important is not where the US is at any given moment but the where it is moving. Its declining shares of Latin American, African and Asian markets clearly points to a downward trajectory.

Power is a relationship. By definition it means a country’s capacity to make other countries or political entities do what they otherwise would not do. To consider the US as the dominant world power, we cannot, as Nye proposes, look at its ‘reputation’ as a world power or cite its ‘military capacity’ or willingness to project military force. We need to look at military and political outcomes in multiple key issue areas in which US policymakers have sought to establish regional or local dominance.

Nye’s discussion fails to look at the negative cumulative effects of US policy failures in multiple regions over time to determine whether the US retains its global supremacy or is a declining power.

To simply preach that ‘the American century is not over’, because some critics in the past mistakenly thought that the USSR in the 1970s or Japan in the 1980’s would displace the US as the global power, is to overlook the foundational weakness and repeated failures of US policymakers to impose or persuade other nations to accept US supremacy over the past decade and a half.

If, as Nye grudgingly concedes, China has replaced the US as the leading economic power in Asia, he does not understand the dynamic components of Chinese economic power, especially its long term, large-scale accumulation of foreign reserves and rapidly growing technical knowhow. Even worse, Nye ignores how the military dimension of world power has actively undermined US economic supremacy.

It is precisely Nye’s belief, along with other Pentagon advisers, that US military supremacy make it a ‘world power’, which has led to catastrophic, prolonged and costly wars. These wars have degraded and undermined US pretensions of ‘world leadership’ or more accurately - imperial supremacy.

While the US has spent trillions of dollars of public money on prolonged and losing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, as well as ongoing military interventions in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, China and other emerging powers have engaged in large long-term economic expansion, increasing market shares, acquiring productive enterprises and expanding their sources of capital accumulation in dynamic regions.

US repeated projections of military power have not created new sources of wealth. The US capacity and willingness to engage in multiple disastrous wars has led to a greater loss of military influence.

Consequences of High Military Capacity and Declining Economic Performance

The consequence of utilizing its great storehouse of military capacity so disastrously has degraded and weakened the US military as well as its imperial economic reach. Repeated US military defeats, its inability to secure its goals or impose its dominance in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan has severely weakened the domestic political foundations of global military power, to the point where the US public is adverse to sending large scale US ground troops into combat.

Nye’s inventory of military resources, stockpile of up-to-date bombers, nuclear weapons, fighter planes, military bases, special forces operations, and its vast spy (“intelligence”) apparatus, in other words the US’s supreme military ‘capacity’, has not resulted in the establishment of a prosperous, stable and submissive empire (the goal that Nye euphemistically dubs ‘world supremacy’). US military engagements, both high and low intensity wars, have resulted in costly defeats and retreats as adversaries advance into the vacuum. Superior material capacity has not translated into US dominance because nationalist, anti-imperialist consciousness and movements based on mass armed resistance, have demonstrated superiority in countering foreign (US) invasions, occupations and satellite building.

Nye ignores a decisive ‘military resource’, which the US does not have and its adversaries have in abundance – nationalist consciousness. Here, Nye’s notion of US supremacy in ‘soft power’ has been terribly wrong-headed. According to Nye, the US superiority in the use and control of mass media, films, news and cultural organizations and educational institutions continues and has allowed the US to retain its global supremacy.

No doubt the US global propaganda apparatus and networks are formidable but they have not been successful, not least, as a bulwark of US global supremacy. Once again Nye’s inventory of soft power assets relies exclusively on quantitative, contemporary, material structures and ignores the enormous counter-influence of historical legacies, nationalist, cultural, religious, ethnic, class, race and gender consciousness, which rejects US dominance in all of its forms. US ‘soft power’ has not conquered or gained the allegiance of the people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or Yemen. Nor has it convinced the billions of Chinese, Latin American or Islamic peoples to embrace American ‘leadership’.

No doubt ‘soft power’ has worked to a limited extent, especially among sectors of the educated classes and the local political elite, converting them into imperial collaborators. No doubt elements of the educated elite have been co-opted by US funded ‘non-governmental organizations’ that engage in grass roots counter-insurgency as the counterpart to the drone attacks from above. But, once again, Nye relies on quantitative, rather than qualitative, measures of influence. Despite an army of NGOs and the budgeting of billions of dollars, US imperial conquests, coups, occupations, rigged elections, and puppet regimes are highly unpopular. As a result, US troops need to diminish their presence, and its overseas and visiting diplomats require a squadron of security officials and operate out of armed fortresses.

Professor Nye’s treatment of what he calls ‘soft power’ is reduced to an inventory of propaganda resources, developed and/or cultivated by the imperial state (the US) to induce submission to and acceptance of the global supremacy of the US. However vast the spending and however broad the scope of ‘soft power, Nye fails to recognize the ineffectiveness of the US ‘soft power apparatus’ in the face of systemic crimes against humanity, which have profoundly alienated and decisively turned world opinion and specific national publics against the US. Specifically, Washington’s practice of torture (Abu Ghraib), kidnapping (rendition), and prolonged jailing without trial (Guantanamo); its global spy network monitoring hundreds of millions of citizens in the US and among allies and its use of drones killing more non-combatant (innocent) citizens than armed adversaries, have severely weakened, if not undermined, the appeal of US ‘soft powers’. Nye is oblivious to the ways in which US projections of military power have led to the precipitous long-term decline of ‘soft power’, and the way in which that decline has resulted in the greater reliance on military power . . . in a vicious circle.

Nye ignores the changing composition of the strategic decision makers who decide where and when military power will be exercised. He blandly assumes that policy is directed by and for enhancing US ‘global supremacy’. But as Professors Mearsheimer and Walt, (The Israel Lobby) and Petras, (The Power of Israel in the United States), have demonstrated, powerful, organized lobbies, like AIPAC, and Israel First officials in the Executive branch have taken military decisions to focus on the Middle East at the behest of Israel in order to enhance its power. These decisions have had an enormous cost in terms of loss of human and financial resources and have contributed to the decline of US global supremacy. Nye fails to recognize how the ascendancy of his militarist colleagues in the Pentagon and the Zionists in the Congress and Executive have drastically changed the way in which hard power (military) is exercised

And how it has weakened the composition and use of soft power and provoked greater imbalances between economic and military power.

Nye’s argument is further weakened by his incapacity to ‘problematize’ the changing content of military power, its shift from a tool of economic expansion, directed by US empire-builders, to an end in itself exploiting economic resources to enhance Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. This weakness is exacerbated by his failure to recognize the changing nature of economic power – the shift from manufacturing to finance capital and the negative consequences, which result for the projection of US economic power and dominance.

Finally, Nye totally ignores the moral dimension of the US drive for world dominance. At worst, he blithely assumes that destructive US wars are, by their nature, virtuous. Nye’s political commitment to the ‘American Century’ and total belief in its benignancy blind him to the killing and displacement of millions of Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans, Somalis, Libyans and now Ukrainians - among others. Nye’s assumption of the beneficial effects of the US-NATO-EU expansion into the former Warsaw Pact countries, and especially Russia, ignores the vast impoverishment of 70% of the Ukrainian population, the outward flight of 20 million skilled professionals and workers, and the subsequent militarization of Eastern Europe and East Germany via its incorporation in NATO. According to Nye’s moral calculus, any policy that enhances US global power is virtuous, no matter how it impacts the recipient population. These are not only Nye’s views, they provide the ideological underpinning of the official ‘soft power’ propaganda accompanying past, present and near future wars of mass destruction.

Nye is not your typical garden variety Ivy League-ideologue-for-US-and-Israeli-dominance (and there are many in US academia). Nye has been an important theoretical architect and strategic planner responsible for US global wars and the accompanying crimes against humanity. His global fantasies of US ascendancy have led to the parlous state of the US domestic economy, multiple unwinnable wars overseas and the eclipse of any strategic thinking about reversing the economic decline of the US in the world economy. Applying a cost-benefit analysis to Prof. Nye’s policies, if he were employed as a CEO in the private sector, he would have long ago been fired and dispatched to a prestigious business school to teach ‘ethics’. Since he is already tenured at Harvard and employed by the Pentagon he can continue to churn out his irresponsible ‘manifestos’ of US global leadership and not be held to account for the disasters.

In Joseph Nye, we have our own American version of Colonel Blimp surveying his colonial projects: He has exchanged his pith helmet, short britches and walking stick, for a combat helmet and boots, and has limited his ‘reviews’ of the Empire to secure zones, surrounded by an entourage of combat ready Leathernecks or mercenaries, circling helicopter warships and super-vetted local military toadies.

Historical Fallacies

Even at its zenith of ‘global power’ during the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, US military performance was the least effective component of world power. Two major wars, Korea and Indo-China, speak against Nye’s formula. The US military failed to defeat the North Korean and Chinese armies; Washington had to settle for a ‘compromise’. And the US was militarily defeated and forced to withdraw from Indo-China. Success in securing influence came afterwards, via economic investments and trade, accompanied by political and cultural influences.

Today, Nye’s reliance on the superior military resources of the US to project the continuance of the ‘American Century’ rests on very shakey historical foundations.

Nye’s Military Metaphysics as Crackpot Realism

The US has declined as a world power because of its ‘military pivot’ – following Nye’s military metaphysics and ‘soft power’ psychobabble. In every practical situation, where the US attempted to secure its dominance by relying on its superior ‘military capacity’ against its competitors’ reliance on economic and political resources, Washington has lost.

China has set in motion the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) - with an initial offering of $50 billion dollars. The US is staunchly opposed to the AIIB because it clearly represents an alternative to the US-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF). Despite Washington’s pressure to reject membership, its ‘allies’, led by the UK and followed by all major powers (except Japan for now), have applied for membership. Even Israel has joined!

Washington sought to convince leading ‘emerging economies’ to accept US-centered economic integration; but instead, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS) founded the BRICS’ bank.

The US engineered the overthrow of the elected government in the Ukraine, and set up a puppet regime to incorporate it as a NATO client and military platform on Russia’s border. Instead, the Ukraine turned into an economic basket case, run by kleptocratic oligarchs, defended by openly neo-Nazi brigades and incapable of defeating federal autonomist rebels in the industrialized east.

The US and the EU imposed economic sanctions on Russia and federal autonomist rebels of the Donbass in Eastern Ukraine. This has become another example of projecting political power to enlarge the scope of military operations at the cost of devastating losses in trade and investment, between Moscow and the European Union, not to speak of the Ukraine – whose economy was dependent on trade with Russia.

The decline of US world power is, in part, a result of the dynamism and economic growth of emerging powers such as China and the relative decline of US market shares and inferior rates of growth.

Nye, in one of his more egregiously foolish efforts to puff up US economic superiority and to downgrade China’s economic rise, argues that China’s growth rate is ‘likely to slow in the future’. Dear Joe… don’t you know that a Chinese ‘slow down’ from double digit growth to 7 percent is still triple the rate of growth of the US today and for the foreseeable future?

Moreover China’s balanced economy, between production and finance, is less crisis-prone than the lopsided growth of the corrupt US financial sector. Nye’s economic calculus ignores the qualitative, as well as quantitative, dimensions of economic power.

Conclusion

The dubious intellectual value of Joseph Nye’s writings would not merit serious consideration except for the fact that they have a deep and abiding influence on US foreign policy. Nye is an ardent advocate of empire building and his arguments and prescriptions carry weight in the White House and Pentagon. His normative bias and his love of empire building blinds him to objective realties. The fact that he is a failed policy advisor, who refuses to acknowledge defeats, decline and destruction resulting from his world view, has not lessened the dangerous nature of his current views.

Nye’s attempt to justify his vision of continuing US world supremacy has led him to blame his critics. In his latest book, he rants that predictions of US decline are ‘dangerous’ because they could encourage countries such as China to pursue more aggressive policies. In other words, Nye having failed, through logic and facts, to sustain his assertions against his better-informed critics, questions their loyalty – evoking a McCarthyite specter of intellectuals critical of US global power…stabbing the country in the back.

Nye tries to deflect attention from the fragile material foundations of US power to disembodied ‘perceptions’. According to Nye, it’s all perceptions’ (or illusions!): if the world leaders and public believe that ‘the American century is set to continue for many decades’, that faith will, in itself, help to sustain America’s superiority! Nye’s fit of irrationality, his reliance on Harry Houdini style of political analysis (‘Now you see US global power, now you don’t!) is unlikely to convince any serious analyst beyond the halls of the Pentagon and Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School.

What matters is that the US, while it is a declining world power, is still militarily powerful, dangerous and destructive, even as its empire building is weakening and its forces are in retreat. As Mahatma Gandhi once stated about the declining British Empire, ‘It’s the aging tiger that becomes the man eater’.

As an alternative, we can follow two lines of inquiry: One is to question the entire imperial enterprise and to focus on our return to republican values and domestic social and democratic reconstruction. That is a necessary, but prolonged struggle, under present circumstances. In the meantime, we can pursue policies that emphasize the importance of shifting from destructive military expansionism toward constructive economic engagements, flexible cooperation with emerging competitors, and diplomatic agreements with adversaries. Contrary to Nye’s assertions, militarism and economic expansion are not compatible. Wars destroy markets and occupations provoke resistance, which frighten investors. ‘Soft power’ and NGO’s that rely on manipulation, lies and demonization of critics gain few adherents and multiple adversaries.

The US should increase its ties and co-operation with BRICS and China’s AIIB. It should reach out to sign trade deals with Iran, Syria and Lebanon. It should cut off aid to Israel, because of it bellicose posture toward the Arab East and its brutal colonization of Palestine. Washington should end its support of violent coups and engage with Venezuela. It should lift sanctions against Russia and East Ukraine and propose joint economic ventures. By ending colonial wars, we can increase economic growth and open markets. We should pursue economic accommodation not military occupation. The former leads to prosperity, the latter to destruction.

# # # #

Professor James Petras, Boiling Frogs Post contributing analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

BFP Exclusive- A Hot Spot in the Cold Seas: The US-Russia Continuing Border Dispute

Bering Sea, the 1990 US-Russia Maritime Border Agreement & the Imperial Interests

History is no stranger to wars which began due to the disputed border territories. Even the start of the US Civil War was in part fueled by border conflicts between certain states. This is why it is of great importance to pay careful attention to any existing border disputes, especially if they take place between countries armed with nuclear weapons.

While the world is focusing on the Ukrainian conflict which is rapidly morphing into the Cold -War-type proxy war between Russia and the US-dominated NATO Alliance, not many are aware that Russia and the US also have a long-running maritime border dispute in the Bering Sea. This state of affairs may lead to a direct violent confrontation and hence be more dangerous to the overall survival of the planet than any proxy war, no matter how atrocious.

The seeds of the dispute were sown at the time of the US Alaska purchase from the Russian Empire in 1867. The purchase treaty left undetermined the precise coordinates of the sea border. For a whole century this apparently did not make much of a difference, but the implementation of the UN-sponsored Law of the Sea in the 1970s re-ignited the issue.

The Law of the Sea allowed each country to establish an exclusive economic zone for the exploration and exploitation of natural and mineral resources up to 200 miles from its coastline. There now appeared certain parts of the Bering Sea where the US and the Soviet jurisdictions overlapped. The overall disputed area encompassed about 80,000 square kilometers and contained significant oil and gas reserves as well as the huge potential for fish harvesting (especially with regards to Alaskan pollock).

What compounded the problem was that in determining the exact (straight) line of the maritime border, each side was using different methods in order to maximize the area under its control.[1] The Soviets used the rhomb lines and the Mercator map projection, while and the Americans chose the geodetic lines and the conical map projection. Obviously, no side wanted to back down.

This is where the context of larger political and social transformations becomes relevant - the so-called "wind of change" which turns out always to benefit the Wall Street.

Throughout the 1980s, the USSR was rapidly losing its political strength as it headed toward the collapse in the early 1990s. Its political leadership with Mikhail Gorbachev as the Soviet Communist Party General Secretary and Eduard Shevardnadze as the Foreign Minister, for a variety of reasons (not the least of which are the allegations of outright corruption, especially regarding the latter), beat the retreat on many geopolitical fronts including this one.

On June 1, 1990 Shevardnadze and the US Secretary of State James Baker signed an agreement in Washington which gave the US 12 times more territory in the disputed area. In this way, 77,400 square kilometers went to the US control and 6,600 square kilometers to the Soviet control.[2] No wonder that the US Congress quickly approved the agreement in September 1991. The article in Washington Post published at the time boasted that the US now controlled more than 70% of the Bering Sea.[3]

However, neither the Soviet Parliament nor its successor, the Russian State Duma, approved the agreement and this means that it is not legally binding for the Russian side.

And yet, the US government has chosen to disregard the provisional nature of the agreement and has enforced the border line if it were the unquestionable law of the land. This has led to several seizures of the Russian fishing vessels by the US Coast Guard.

The biggest scandal happened in September 2002 when the Russian trawler "Viytna" with more than 20 fishermen aboard was seized and hauled into the Alaskan port of Dutch Harbor.[4] The Russian fishermen claimed that they stayed within the Russian economic zone, while the US government thought otherwise. Though the fishermen were let go a few days later, this did not stop similar incidents from happening in the following years. In fact, one scholar cites the US sources in saying that they may consider using "naval gunfire, in the form of warning and disabling shots, against the noncompliant [Russian] ships".[5]

Given the global geopolitical dynamics in 2015, it is not difficult to imagine what dangerous repercussions for world peace the US Coast Guard shooting at the Russian civilian ships might have.

To add insult to injury, the US high-level officials have presented the Shevardnadze-Baker agreement as fair to both sides. Thus, the one-time US Ambassador to Russia, later rewarded with the position of the Deputy-Secretary of NATO, Alexander Vershbow is quoted as saying that the agreement is "quite balanced and reflects a number of compromises".[6] He is also convinced that "it is hard to imagine that new negotiations could generated some other results".

This arrogant, hard-line stand in defense of the unjust deal is echoed by the US State Department. In its 2009 statement, it affirmed that the US "has no intention of reopening discussion of the 1990 Maritime Border Agreement".[7] However, the agreement becomes "Agreement" only when it is accepted as such by both sides. And this is far from being the case.

Several Russian Federation Council members have over the years attempted to spearhead efforts for the renegotiation of the agreement. Not surprisingly, they were strongly criticized for doing so by the US-sponsored Russian NGOs.

Particularly revealing was the critique by Alexander Pikayev, the representative of the Moscow Carnegie Center, who warned his fellow Russians that "Americans are very sensitive to any pokes, especially if it has to do with Alaska. And Alaska is Senator Ted Stevens who is the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee".[8]

It appears that, for Pikayev, the billions of dollars that the Russian state budget has lost in terms of fishing, gas, and oil revenues due to the unjustly drawn boundary line are less important than the opinion of one US Senator. Can anyone then wonder why the majority of Russians see the Carnegie Center and similar organizations as the fifth column working to subvert Russian national interests?

Be that as it may, the fact is that this hot spot in the cold seas of the North Pacific is bound to get hotter with time. Taking into consideration the implacability of the US officials in their defense of the imperial interests, more serious incidents, perhaps involving military planes and nuclear submarines, may be expected.

# # # #

Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com

Notes:

[1]http://www.css.ethz.ch/publications/pdfs/RAD-20.pdf

[2] http://www.zpu-journal.ru/e-zpu/2009/6/Palamar_Boundary_Differentiation/

[3] Ibid.

[4] http://www.npacific.ru/np/gazeta/2002/1/tv19_70_045_2002.htm

[5] http://www.css.ethz.ch/publications/pdfs/RAD-20.pdf

[6] http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/alaska-sale-shevardnadze-and-pollock-in-spat/243690.html

[7] http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/fs/128740.htm

[8] http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/alaska-sale-shevardnadze-and-pollock-in-spat/243690.html

 

BFP Exclusive: A Nuclear Tinderbox in Ukraine?

To claim that war is the formula for prosperity and unity is to pledge allegiance to the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

The accusers

Europeans hardly had time to drink all the champagne left over from the New Year's Eve parties when George Soros declared to them (yet again) that they are "at war" with Russia and that "they need to start acting like it".[1]

Acting as if Europe is at war means a full-scale political, economic and military mobilization against the enemy. It means the radical reorientation of the EU economies from domestic needs to the needs of the military-industrial complex. It means less schools, hospitals and nursing homes and more missiles, tanks, and helicopters. It means death and destruction instead of life and creation. Isn't it obvious that war turns all the things that a rational person would want for herself, her family and community into its opposites?

And yet Soros insisted not only on the war's ongoing status but also on its beneficial nature. In the discourse that had the elements of a "warmongering frenzy", he even went so far as to claim that it is only the war that can pull the EU from the current economic, institutional and identity crises. He openly articulated the infernal metaphysical thesis that "war is the father of all things" (Heraclitus). In doing so, he appears to have consciously placed himself into the enemies of the open society camp so carefully dissected by his mentor Karl Popper. To claim that war is the formula for prosperity and unity is to pledge allegiance to the four horsemen of the apocalypse. And there is no doubt that Soros has done exactly that.

Some observers speculate that this public statement could be Soros' job application for the position of the chairman of the Central Bank of Ukraine.[2] Be that as it may, the current leadership of Ukraine has repeated, line by line, his basic points. It has been a while since the prime minister Arsenyi Yatsenyuk accused Russia that it wanted to start the World War III.[3] And this sentiment is prevalent in the US-NATO intelligence and military circles.

This powerful behind-the-curtains group is, however, faced with a huge public relations problem. The majority of the Europeans do not believe their fiery rhetoric and do not consider Russia as a threatening enemy. They are not willing to turn their countries into war fortresses and accept the suspension of democracy by military emergency decrees. Clearly they need to be convinced somehow; they need "to start acting" like being at war as Soros put. How is this to be done?

By instigating something big, scary and deadly and pointing the finger of blame to Russia. But, considering the stakes, it has to be on a greater scale than what the world has seen so far. From where can this 21st century "shot in Sarajevo" be fired?

Going nuclear?

Though it is shuddering even to contemplate it, the answer might involve Ukraine's nuclear reactors. As we all know, Ukraine was already the site of one of the two biggest nuclear disasters in human history: the Chernobyl reactor meltdown in April 1986. The radiation spilt into the atmosphere led to many immediate deaths in the affected area, while many more have died from the exposure in the subsequent years both in Ukraine and beyond (including Northern Europe).

Apparently, this disaster also had dramatic political consequences. Influential commentators trace to it the beginnings of the policies of glasnost and perestroika which eventually led to the demise of the Soviet Union and the communist (state capitalist) system.[4] As the narrative goes, the Soviet government elite which attempted to hide the truth from its citizens was eventually punished by them for its mendacity. How come nothing similar ever happens in the West?

At this time, Ukraine has four nuclear power plants (NPP): Zaporizhia (six reactors), South-Ukraine (three reactors), Rivne (four reactors) and Khmelnytskyi (two reactors). None of the plants use the type of the reactor which exploded in Chernobyl.

All except Rivne have official websites.[5] The websites of the South-Ukraine and Khmelnytskyi NPPs are in three languages (Russian, Ukrainian, and English), while the website of Zaporizhia NPP is only in Russian language. This might be accidental and meaningless, but the crux of the matter is always in the details.

The Zaporizhia NPP is the largest and most powerful of them all. In fact, it is the largest NPP in Europe and, according to its website, in a month or so, it will celebrate the occasion of the one billion kWh energy production since its opening. It produces about one half of the total nuclear energy in Ukraine.

And it is precisely this plant that has been most endangered since the fighting began. It is about 200 km from the reported warzone and many observers have already expressed considerable fear for its security.

In June 2014, the Greenpeace nuclear expert Tobias Munchmeyer claimed that the plant was "insufficiently protected" from possible bombardments and that its protective walls could withstand only "a small aircraft crash" (Mind you, this was before the MH-17 crash).[6] The official reply was that it could survive up to 5 tons of TNT explosives within the 200-meter parameter and a direct hit of MiG-29. This is hardly reassuring as somebody could pile up more than 5 tons of TNT, or bring it closer than 200 meters, or send two or three MiG-29s.

Also, RT reported in May 2014 that a group of the alleged members of the neo-fascist Right Sector paramilitaries attempted to storm the plant. According to the grainy video posted on the web, they wanted to "protect the plant" from the pro-Russian groups which supposedly wanted to replace the Ukrainian flags on the roadblocks with the Russian ones.[7] The paramilitaries were eventually surrounded by the regular police and forced to leave the area. However, in a recent article in London's Independent, it is reported that the pro-Russian "agitators" were actually inside of the plant.[8] This of course makes the situation appear much more serious. Another twist to the story is that the Right Sector officially denied that the paramilitaries in question had anything to do with their organization.

To add fuel to the fires of suspicion, last month (December 2014), two of the plant's reactors were shut down (one, on December 3 and the other, on December 28) due to what was publicly explained as "electrical malfunctions". In the instance of the first shutdown, the prime minister Yatsenyuk caused a minor panic when he used the word "the accident", which was notoriously used by the Soviet press to break the news of the Chernobyl disaster.[9] This could have been a test to see how the public and the international community would react.

What is perhaps most worrying is that the delivery of the fuel assemblies to the plants has been the cause of the bitter competition between the American Westinghouse Electric Co. and the Russian state-owned TVEL.[10] For the two decades of the Ukraine's post-Soviet independence, the TVEL had a monopoly, but things began to change recently when some of the plants signed up with the American supplier. This led to the paradoxical situation that in certain cases the assemblies from both the Americans and the Russians are used in the same reactor. Perhaps this would not be much of a problem if one side did not consider itself to be "at war" with the other.

As if to underscore the danger staring us in the face, the Westinghouse official Michael Kirst was quoted as saying that "if you look at a photograph of (the TVEL fuel assembly), you’ll see the space between is so narrow that (Westinghouse) must force its fuel assemblies into the reactor. I don’t have to tell you that (with nuclear fuel assemblies) that is a bad idea. These things can’t be forced.”[11]

Obviously, the fuel assembly issue looks like a fertile ground for things to begin to deteriorate quickly in the direction of Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. And for either side to take advantage to blame the other.

We would of course know who really pulled the trigger, that is to say, placed the
defective fuel assembly. But I doubt that those few survivors of the nuclear winter would really care at all.

# # # #

Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com

NOTES

[1] http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/vMhn5F3UZO8miWQ86TnXmK/George-Soros--Europe-at-war.html;

The earlier version of this article was published in the New York Review of Books. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/nov/20/wake-up-europe/

[2] http://journal-neo.org/2014/12/28/soros-as-kiev-s-central-banker-and-ridiculous-us-laws/

[3] http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/russia-wants-start-world-war-iii-ukrainian-pm-yatsenyuk-n89481

[4] http://www.nbcnews.com/id/12403612/ns/world_news-europe/t/chernobyl-cover-up-catalyst-glasnost/#.VLCHhU0tA5s

[5] http://www.npp.zp.ua/; http://www.sunpp.mk.ua/; http://www.xaec.org.ua/store/pages/eng/khnpp

[6] http://www.nucpros.com/content/ukrainian-nuclear-plant-vulnerable-kiev%E2%80%99s-artillery-strikes-%E2%80%93-greenpeace-expert

[7] http://rt.com/news/159640-ukraine-gunmen-nuclear-plant/

[8] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ukraine-turns-off-reactor-at-nuclear-plant-after-accident-9947540.htm

[9] http://mashable.com/2014/12/03/ukraine-nuclear-plant-accident/?utm_campaign=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_cid=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=rss

[10] http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/fuel-duel-326535.html

[11] Ibid.

BFP Exclusive: A Rothschild Plot against Putin?

The elaboration of the tightly-knit business links between Oleg Deripaska & Nathaniel Rothschild

Prologue

More than six years ago, on October 1, 2008, with the 2008 presidential elections just a month away, the left-wing Nation magazine published an article entitled "McCain's Kremlin ties".[i] This article investigated the ties between one of the richest and politically most powerful persons in Russia, the husband of Boris Yeltsin's grand-daughter, Oleg Deripaska and the long-time US Senator and, at the time, the Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

The article made much of a meeting between Deripaska and McCain in the coastal Montenegrin town of Kotor on August 30, 2006. Allegedly, McCain celebrated his 70th birthday on board of Deripaska's multi-million dollar yacht Queen K, which at the time was anchored there.

As the member of the six-person US Senate Republican delegation visiting several European countries, McCain made a stop in Montenegro to give support to US ideological and political assets/vassals, including the Speaker of the Parliament Ranko Krivokapic.[ii] It appears, however, that McCain had also other appointments to keep.

Still, from my perspective, the equally important part of the article is the elaboration of the tightly-knit business links between Deripaska and Nathaniel Rothschild, the only son and heir of Lord Jacob Rothschild who, as the New York Times claimed in 2007, may become "the richest Rothschild" yet.[iii] The article notes that the lobbying of the US corporate intelligence company Diligence, partially owned by Rothschild, helped Deripaska receive an important loan from the World Bank/EBRD.

More generally, the young Rothschild, known to promote a radical transnational neoliberal agenda, has been very active in helping Deripaska cultivate friendly relations with the influential British and US politicians. He had also helped McCain's bid for presidency, having hosting, together with his father, a McCain fundraiser at London's prestigious Spencer House in March 2008.[iv]

That same year, the close ties between Deripaska and Rothschild led to the eruption of another scandal. This time the target was an EU rather than a US politician. The British Labor politician Peter Mandelson, the EU Commissioner for Trade, met with Rothschild and Deripaska on board of Deripaska's yacht (just like McCain earlier), only this time not in Montenegro, but in Greece (the island of Corfu where Rothschild owns an estate). It was alleged that they talked about EU import tariff reductions which would favor Deripaska's alluminum business.[v]

Both sides denied the reports, but, as the British Conservatives continued to complain, Rothschild wrote an open letter to the media, stating that Mandelson's Conservative 'shadow government' counterpart John Osborne was not only also present at the meeting, but even tried to solicit a donation from Deripaska for the Conservative party.[vi]

Obviously, this only stoked the fires of the scandal further with mutual accusations flaring. It also revealed to what extent major British politicians have been under the sway of powerful but secretive business monopolies. And to what extent democracy (the rule of the people) in the West has become a pipe dream.

In relation to this and other Mandelson's dealings with Deripaska, in 2010 Rothschild was named "a puppet master" by the British tabloid Daily Mail, the designation he considered libelous and which led to his suit against the newspaper. However, the High Court judge Michael Tugenhadt thought otherwise and Rothschild lost the case in 2012.[vii]

Deripaska's and Rothschild's friendship is also strongly affirmed by their joint business investments in Montenegro. They make an excellent rule-despising company to the corrupt Montenegrin prime minister and regional mafia strongman Milo Djukanovic. Thanks to his friendship with Djukanovic, Rothschild was granted Montenegrin citizenship in what was an extremely nontransparent manner. This citizenship can offer him protection from the eventual EU or Russian criminal prosecution.[viii]

The Plotters?

In 2014, the geopolitical situation in Europe has radically changed. Russia found itself exposed to the brutal US-EU sanctions and the pressure of NATO covert intelligence and military operations. As many observers have pointed out, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Russia is at stake and the President Vladimir Putin is doing his utmost to rise above the momentous challenge.

However, without paying very careful attention to the activities of his inner circle of oligarchs, Putin will probably not be successful. Precisely because of his close ties with Rothschild and the enormous profits both had derived from the transnational neoliberal agenda, Deripaska seems to me as the person most likely to turn against Putin at some crucial moment in near future.

Several years ago, Deripaska himself admitted in an interview on BBC that he was already pressured by the US intelligence agencies to cooperate with them against Russian interests.[ix] He claimed that he had refused and that his US visa was revoked as a result. However, this time around, when Putin is being marketed in the US-EU as Hitler's younger brother, he may be offered much more to change sides. Perhaps even the presidency of Russia. After all, he is a member of the Yeltsin dynasty.

In fact, the turning of the Russian economy toward controlled markets and import substitution, which is necessary if Russia is to protect its sovereignty, will make persons like Deripaska appear anachronistic. Their tremendous riches will seem to the vast majority of the ordinary Russian people as the unpleasant remainders of the unjust past they would rather forget and move on. This will make Deripaska's position even more precarious and make him even more willing to act on behalf of the neoliberal world order which made him a billionaire but which Putin must of necessity wreck.

So far, Putin acts as if he noticed no danger. In November 2014, Deripaska was included in the Russian business delegation at APEC summit in Beijing and was a moderator of Putin's speech at the occasion.[x] But with Rothschild ever present in Deripaska's favorite haunts in Switzerland, Greece, Montenegro and elsewhere in Europe, the danger will only grow over time. Forewarned is forearmed.

# # # #

Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com

NOTES

[i] http://www.thenation.com/article/mccains-kremlin-ties?page=0,0
[ii] http://www.visit-montenegro.com/article-mne-9895.htm
[iii] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/09/business/09rothschild.html?_r=0
[iv] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/apr/29/johnmccain.uselections2008
[v] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7691678.stm
[vi] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2008/oct/21/conservatives-partyfunding1
[vii] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/rothschild-loses-libel-case-and-reveals-secret-world-of-money-and-politics-6720015.html
[viii] http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/nat-rotschild-granted-montenegrin-passport
[ix]http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB125687000832717809?mg=reno64wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB125687000832717809.html
[x] http://www.deripaska.com/in_focus/lets_discuss/Oleg-Deripaska-14-11-2014/#.VKYEyU0tA5s
 

BFP Exclusive- The Balkans Presidential December: A Test for the US-NATO Empire

Greece & Croatia: The clear presence of a political alternative to the hegemonic US-NATO Empire

 This month the presidential elections will take place in two Balkan countries: Croatia and Greece. The electoral systems in these two countries are different, but what they have in common is the clear presence of a political alternative to the hegemonic US-NATO Empire. This is yet another sign that the people of the region are beginning to resist and reject the imperial grip and are in the process of making possible a different, more autonomous political future.

Croatia

The elections in Croatia will take place on December 28. They will be the sixth presidential elections since Croatia separated from the Yugoslav Federation and became an independent state in 1992. So far there have been only three presidents: the nationalist Franjo Tudjman (1992-1999), the ex-Communist functionary Stipe Mesić (2000-2010) and the current president, law professor and composer Ivo Josipović (2010-). Josipović is also one of the candidates in the current elections. Both of his predeccesors were able to get the second mandate.

The incumbent Josipović, who is nominally an independent but is supported by the ruling Social-Democrat party (SDP) of the prime minister Zoran Milanović, has three challengers. The challenger who comes from the main opposition party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), is Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. She is the "picture-perfect" candidate of the US-NATO Empire. She was the Croatian minister of foreign affairs during the key preparatory work for NATO membership (2005-2008), the Croatian ambassador to the U.S (2008-2011) and, most recently, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Democracy.[1] She is also a member of the Trilateral Commission and hence an accomplice in the US-centric neoliberal domination of the globe. In fact, it is precisely her election results that will show the present strength of the unipolar conception of the world in the Balkans. 

The second challenger is the medical doctor Milan Kujundžić, the founder of the party Croatian Dawn, an extreme nationalist party to the right of the mainstream conservative HDZ.[2] The emergence of this party is consistent with the populist-rightist trend in the European Union, which offers what are, in essence, false solutions to the very real social problems caused by neoliberal economic policies. These solutions are false because the real culprits for the crisis remain veiled and protected while others, who are likewise victims (immigrants, minorities, etc.), are vilified and attacked. 

This serious political mistake of taking the effect for the cause is exactly what the third challenger Ivan Vilibor Sinčić does not make and that is why he is, in my opinion, the most progressive and humanist candidate in the elections. Sinčić is the 25-year old leader of a grassroot organization "Živi zid" (the literal translation is the "human wall" or "human shield"), which has become widely popular in Croatia due to their actions of helping fight the numerous evictions and other abuses of human and social rights of ordinary citizens.[3] It is very important to note that Sinčić's organization is entirely locally funded and depends on the work of volunteers. His geopolitical conceptions is likewise  straightforward: the withdrawal from all US-NATO-led international projects and adventures and the return of the sovereign decision-making to the people of Croatia. Sinčić has already acquired a wide following in the Balkans which means that the anti-imperial political conceptions are gaining ground beyond Croatia.[4] He has also received support from noted European intellectuals and alter-globalists, such as Daniel Estulin, the author of the best-selling book on the Bilderbergs.[5] 

According to one of the most recent polls, Sinčić is in the third place with 9.2 percent of the vote, while Josipović is ahead with 46.5%, trailed by Grabar-Kitarović with 34.9%.[6] What is fairly clear at this time is that no candidate will win the outright majority in the first round and that the two highest placed candidates will have to go to the second round. This means that the voters of Sinčić, who most likely will not make the second round, will be crucial in defeating the candidate of US-NATO Empire Grabar-Kitarović. The incumbent Josipović, if he means to win, will therefore have to find a way to accomodate Sinčić's ideas and will be forced to move away from the open support for the further European fragmentation plans of the US-NATO Empire. Moreover, the present strong showing of Sinčić will also enable his organization to get a head-start on the next Croatian parliamentary elections, and we may well have another SYRIZA in the making.

Speaking of SYRIZA, let's take a look at the presidential elections in Greece.

Greece

While in Croatia the president is chosen directly by the people, in Greece, the election of the president takes place in the Parliament. There are three rounds of voting (three ballots). In the first and the second ballot, the candidate has to get 2/3 of the vote to get elected (200 out of 300 deputies), and, in the third, the threshold is lowered to 180 votes. If the candidate does not win the required number of votes in the final, third ballot, the government falls and the immediate parliamentary elections are triggered.

The first round was already held on December 17 and the candidate of the coalition government of the prime minister Antonis Samaras, Stavros Dimas, failed to win the necessary 200 votes.[7] Just like Grabar-Kitarović in the Croatian case, Dimas is a favorite of the US-NATO Empire. He is truly the "member of the club," having been the Greek foreign minister (2011-2012) and the EU Commissioner for the environment for six long years (2004-2010).[8] He was also a Wall Street lawyer and the functionary of the World Bank. It appears certain that he will not get enough votes on the second ballot on December 23. The key question, however, remains as to what will happen on the final ballot on December 29.

Namely, the early parliamentary elections could endanger the plans of the US-NATO Empire and the neoliberal policies of the Troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund).According to the relevant public opinion polls, the likely winner of the parliamentary elections would be the progressive leftist party SYRIZA led by the charismatic young engineer Alexis Tsipras.[9]

The reason for this is simple. In the last several years, Troika's imposed policies have brought Greece to the brink of economic and social collapse, in addition to fueling violent right-wing extremism.When the implementation of these policies began, the Greek public debt was at the 115% of the GDP. Now, five years later, it is at the 175% of the GDP with the projection that it will go even beyond the 200% level.[10] It is therefore clear that the so-called austerity measures only worsened the situation.

On the hand, SYRIZA proposes radical economic changes and has a concrete political program to implement them. These policies resemble Roosevelt's "New Deal": massive infrastructure investments and employment opportunities financed by zero interest central bank credits and writing off the public debt.[11] SYRIZA also advocates the withdrawal of Greece from NATO and the radical restructuring of the EU institutions.

This is definitely something that can send the chill down the spines of the US-NATO Empire apparatchiks and their handlers in the corridors of Wall Street and other centers of neoliberal capitalism. In fact, the Empire's favorite media amplifier, the Wall Street Journal, admitted so in a recent article.[12] This is why one should not exclude the possibility of a massive corruption scheme of buying parliamentary votes for Dimas in between the second and the third ballot. This kind of the"carrot" also always goes hand-in-hand with the "stick" of blackmail.   

However, even if the dark, undemocratic forces prevail in this particular case and Dimas gets elected, SYRIZA's march to power appears unstoppable. It is grounded in the deeply felt desires of the Greek population to change the way it is treated by the powerful financial interests which have shown not to care about its wellbeing at all.

On the other hand, the defeat of the US-NATO Empire's candidates Grabar-Kitarović and Dimas will be a clear sign that the Balkan countries are beginning to chart a new, more independent geopolitical future. The political alternative offered by Tsipras and Sinčić will then be set to enlarge its electoral base in the near future. It may even be that all the other countries in the Balkans will soon have their own political equivalents. 

# # # #

Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com



NOTES

[1] http://www.dnevno.hr/zivotopis/121448-kolinda-grabar-kitarovic-zivotopis-biografija.html

[2] http://www.jutarnji.hr/milan-kujundzic-osnovao-stranku-hrvatska-zora-stranka-naroda/1115511/

[3] http://www.dnevno.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/139013-predsjednicki-kandidat-ivan-sincic-zeli-van-iz-eu-ponistenje-pretvorbe-broj-zastupnika-na-100-deblokadu-racuna.html

[4]http://mnmne.org/marko-milacic-zivi-zid-kolumna/

[5]https://hr-hr.facebook.com/zivizidd/posts/10203664027149379

[6] http://www.vecernji.hr/predsjednicki-izbori2014/evo-kako-predsjednicki-kandidati-stoje-u-anketama-980297

[7] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/12/17/why-everything-is-at-stake-and-yet-nothing-will-be-decided-in-todays-greek-presidential-election/

[8] http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2014/12/09/pm-samaras-stavros-dimas-is-the-presidential-candidate/

[9]http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30481307

[10]http://rt.com/op-edge/185052-greece-crisis-eu-default/

[11]http://links.org.au/node/2888

[12]http://www.wsj.com/articles/greek-leftist-party-syriza-spooks-some-investors-1418310035

 

BFP Exclusive – “China & the Balkans: This geopolitical Battle in its Beginning Phases”

China, the Balkans and A Battle for Geopolitical Influence & Power

The presence of China in the Balkans is not new. During the years of the Cold War, China closely cooperated first with Albania and then with Yugoslavia. In fact, Albania was one of the key initiators of the UN resolution 2758 which led to the UN recognition of the People's Republic of China in 1971.[1]

Towards the end of the 1970s, the relations between Albania and China deteriorated, largely due to the opinion of the supreme Albanian Communist leader Enver Hoxha that the Chinese leadership began taking the revisionist path regarding the classics of Marxism-Leninism.[2]

As the later developments showed, Hoxha's assessment was right on the mark. It is not surprising therefore that, after the death of Mao Zedong, the Communist party of China began cultivating friendly relations with the openly revisionist and non-aligned Yugoslavia.

During the wars that followed the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, China generally took a neutral standpoint and supported the decisions made by the UN Security Council concerning the situation on the ground. This attitude changed during the NATO attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the rump Yugoslav federation, consisting only of Serbia and Montenegro).

At that time, during one of the NATO raids on the Yugoslav capital Belgrade in early May 1999, NATO bombs hit and severely damaged the Chinese Embassy. Three people were killed and twenty injured, including Chinese diplomats.[3] NATO officials blamed outdated maps and other technical details, but the Chinese government was not convinced. Large-scale protest demonstrations took place all over China in condemnation of what was seen as an unprovoked aggression by NATO.[4]

It appears that this brutal infringement by NATO on the sovereign space of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade made the Chinese government re-consider its Balkan policy. Instead of more or less pronounced indifference which prevailed for a decade, it decided to accept the challenge of its Atlantic geopolitical adversary and get involved in the region more closely.

In fact, since 2000, the Chinese trade grew on average 30 percent annually not only with the Balkan countries, but also with their neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe.[5] In April 2012, the Chinese relations with this part of the world were raised on a higher level by the organization of the so-called "16+1" summit in Warsaw.

The "16" stood for the sixteen countries of the Central and Eastern Europe (11 EU members and 5 EU candidates) and "1" for China. There was even the talk of setting up a formal Secretariat and hence becoming an international organization with a legal status.

The first summit in Warsaw focused on the economic side of the relationship and especially on the possibility of Chinese large-scale investments.[6] Having just gone through a deep economic crisis, the Eastern and Central European countries were looking for ways to jump-start their economies and China was basking in the newly found but deserved role of the global player. No wonder that this summit attracted a lot of attention from the European Commission and their transatlantic US allies.

Some observers claimed that yet another rift was being created in the European Union between the so-called  "old Europe" (the EU founding members) and the "New Europe" (the former Communist countries). These two "halves" of the EU had already gone through a spate of animosity over the involvement in the Iraq war in 2003.[7]

However, most experts have been uncertain as to whether there is any cause for concern by the EU Commissioners in Brussels and the officials of the US-NATO Empire.

On the level of personalities, last year's summit in Bucharest involved a new figure on the Chinese side. In between the two summits, Li Keqiang replaced Wen Jiabao, who many consider the ideologue of the Chinese Central-Eastern European-Balkan pivot,  in the post of the prime minister. But the Chinese political line remained unchanged.

The Bucharest summit participants adopted certain formal guidelines, concerning increased cooperation in the fields of infrastructure development, science, technology, tourism, etc.[8] The key element in all of this constitute, of course, the credit lines of Chinese banks.

As far as the concrete things go, the prime minister of Hungary, the perpetual EU "rebel", Viktor Orban got a Chinese commitment to invest more than $2 billion dollars in the Budapest-Belgrade rail line and the host nation Romania was offered up to $8 billion dollars in investments.[9] This is much more than the EU could offer these countries in recent years and I think that it is likely to lead to more problems in the EU internal functioning in the future.

However, no doubt due to the historical as well as recent political ties, Yugoslavia's legal successor state Serbia, a non-member of the EU, was singled out by the Chinese for a particularly important bridge building project on the Danube. The construction of a 1.5 kilometer long bridge started in 2011 and, though it took longer than expected, the bridge will be officially opened during this year's "16+1" summit in Belgrade on December 16 and 17.[10] This is the biggest infrastructure project completed by a Chinese state company (in this case, China Road and Bridge Corporation) in the Balkans so far. Both the Chinese and Serbian officials are announcing "many more" projects to come and this is definitely in line with the Chinese Balkan strategy.[11]

This trend can be seen in the neighboring Montenegro as well. In October 2014, the government of Montenegro signed an agreement with the Chinese Exim Bank on a $1 billion loan for the construction of a stretch of a highway through Montenegro to be built by the already mentioned China Road and Bridge Corporation.[12] This decision, however, encountered strong dissent from the opposition parties which claimed that the loan would enormously increase the already high public debt and that the government entered into a corrupt construction scheme in order to further enrich its business cronies.[13] Many even questioned the necessity of constructing the highway at all.

However, it is not for those reasons (no matter what they say publicly) that the global economic levers of the US-NATO Empire, the IMF and the World Bank, oppose not only this particular highway project, but also other Chinese investment projects in the Balkans and the Central and Eastern Europe. They know well that what is taking place here is truly a battle for geopolitical influence and power. The US-NATO Empire has lost the aura of invincibility it had during the last two decades and the emerging multi-polarity of the world is getting its Balkan reflection as well.

This geopolitical battle is still in its beginning phases, but I expect it to intensify in the coming years, especially as China and Russia (which is a traditional ally of many Balkan countries) come to cooperate more closely not only in the economic, but also in the political and the military sphere, and as the daily functioning of the EU institutions begins to show more and more tear & wear under the pressure from the warmongering circles in Washington and London.

# # # #

Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com


NOTES

[1] http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/ziliao_665539/3602_665543/3604_665547/t18013.shtml

[2]http://www.enverhoxha.ru/Archive_of_books/English/enver_hoxha_reflections_on_china_volume_I_eng.pdf

[3] http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/europe/9905/08/kosovo.03/; http://www.theguardian.com/world/1999/oct/17/balkans

[4] http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/9/newsid_2519000/2519271.stm

[5] http://www.eias.org/sites/default/files/EU-Asia-at-a-glance-Richard-Turcsanyi-China-CEE.pdf

[6] http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-04/26/c_123043844.htm

[7] http://www.eias.org/sites/default/files/EU-Asia-at-a-glance-Richard-Turcsanyi-China-CEE.pdf

[8] http://www.eias.org/asian-news-outlook/li-keqiang-meets-central-and-eastern-european-leaders-bucharest-summit

[9] http://www.cnbc.com/id/101237467#.

[10] http://www.24sata.rs/vesti/beograd/vest/lickaju-most-pred-otvaranje-ekipa-24-sata-presla-precicom-od-zemuna-do-borce-fotke/160023.phtm

[11] http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/874768.shtml

[12] http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/30/montenegro-highway-idUSL5N0SP4BI20141030

BFP Exclusive- The Southeast European Times: The US Military Propaganda Operation in the Balkans

The Cracks in the US-Balkan Imperial Enterprise Are Already Showing

Under the innocuous and neutrally-sounding name of the web-based newspaper Southeast European Times, the US military is running a large propaganda operation in the Balkans. Its aim is to distort and twist the media interpretation of the political, economic and social events in order to make it fit with the interests of the US-NATO military industrial complex in this part of the world.

The Southeast European Times presents itself as "a news and information website covering the Balkans featuring current events, business, diplomacy, film, tourism, sports and science".[1] It claims that its goal is to "offer accurate, balanced and forward-looking coverage of developments in Southeast Europe". [2]

However, its coverage is neither accurate nor balanced and it is forward-looking only in the sense of helping make the Balkans even more under the thumb of the US and its allies in NATO. As can be expected, it whitewashes the mission of its main financial sponsor, the US military's European command (EUCOM), claiming that EUCOM's purpose is to "promote stability, cooperation, and prosperity in the region".

The truth, alas, is exactly the opposite. The presence of the large contingents of the US military in Europe, especially since the fall of the Berlin Wall, has stunted the independent European political and economic development and prevented the formation of a politically and economically unified continent, one Europe "from the Atlantic to the Urals", which is an age-old dream of many Europeans, but which goes against the interests of the Anglo-American banking and industrial war machine.

Instead of helping cooperation and stability, the US military, hiding behind the protection of extraterritoriality, has colonized Europe with its network of military bases and intelligence structures and severely punished all those political and economic actors who tried to emancipate Europe from the US tutelage. The secret terror operations by the Gladio networks in almost all European countries offer ample proof of that.

I first became aware of the existence of the Southeast European Times in 2009 when one of their journalists contacted me for a commentary on the Russian presence in Montenegro. At the same time, obviously having heard of my status as a geopolitical analyst, he also offered me to become his source of information on Montenegro. When I received the questions, I was surprised by the wealth of concrete information on the Montenegrin-Russian relations and the questions' general drift toward portraying the government of Russia and its officials in a negative light. When I replied with what I thought was a fair and objective assessment of the situation which pointed out both the advantages and disadvantages of the Russian involvement and asked to authorize the article before the publication, the journalist got upset and refused to let me do so.

In the end, my commentary was shortened, the gist of its main points remaining, and I never heard from the journalist again, even though he had promised to contact me frequently. In fact, I heard neither from him nor from his colleagues, except once for a brief statement on the Montenegrin EU integrations. And yet, during this same period of time, the analysts affiliated with the US-supported NGOs as well as the officials of the US-puppet government of Montenegro have been cited hundreds of times.

For the sake of closer analysis, let's for instance take a recent article having to do with one of the most important geopolitical goals of the US Balkan foreign policy: the imposition of NATO membership on all the Balkan countries.

On November 20, 2014, the Southeast European Times correspondent from the Montenegrin capital Podgorica, Drazen Remikovic published an article entitled "NATO praises Montenegro military reforms". [3] This article is nothing but an one-sided and biased account of the Montenegro-NATO relations.

First of all, it says nothing at all about the wide public opposition to NATO membership. Secondly, it cites only two sources. The first source is the official spokeswoman of the Montenegrin Ministry of Defense and the second is Aleksandar Dedovic, former US-affiliated military specialist from the Afghan and Iraq wars, now the director of the NGO Alpha Centre, whose programs are in part funded by the US Embassy and the NATO's Department of Public Diplomacy. Dedovic is known as one of the foremost advocates of the Montenegrin NATO membership. However, in the article, his NGO is presented solely as dealing with general "security issues", thus obscuring from the readers Dedovic's real allegiances.

Moreover, at the very end of the article, the author engages in yet another attempt to manipulate his audience. He cites the opinion survey from March 2014 (more than eight months ago) which shows that supposedly 46 percent of the Montenegrin population supports NATO membership. However, nowhere does he inform his readers that this opinion survey was paid for by the government of Montenegro (which aggressively campaigns for NATO membership) and that there have been several opinion surveys completed since March by reputable public opinion pollsters which show a much lower level of public support (around 35 percent).

This article is just one example of the general paradigm of the Southeast European Times brand of journalism. Take any article, be it on Serbia, Moldova or Ukraine, and you will find the same: the choice of US-NATO affiliated sources together with corrupt government officials and never any voice of dissent.

This is of course far from the promised "accurate and balanced" treatment, but it is very revealing of the way the US military is promoting peace and stability in the Balkans. Considering the amount of their outright lies and covert destabilization campaigns, it is no wonder that the cracks in their Balkan imperial enterprise are already showing.

I think it is safe to say that no amount of propaganda, whether through the Southeast European Times or other similar well-financed media outlets, will be able to cover up the truth from the Balkan peoples for much longer. However, it will take the appearance of a new and appropriate political leadership for them to start resisting and taking their countries back from the claws of a militarized US-NATO Empire.

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Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com

Notes:

1. www.setimes.com

2. http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/document/setimes/footer/about/about

3. http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/features/2014/11/20/feature-01

The Emperor’s Rage: Let Chaos Envelop the World!

Obama: A Liar of Munchausen Proportions with a Bad Case of Political Paranoia, War Hysteria & Megalomania

Chaos reigns and spreads as enraged leaders in the US, Europe and their clients and allies pursue genocidal wars. Mercenary wars in Syria; Israel’s terror bombing on Gaza; proxy wars in the Ukraine, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia.

Tens of millions of refugees flee scenes of total destruction. Nothing is sacred. There are no sanctuaries. Homes, schools, hospitals and entire families are targeted for destruction.

Chaos by Design

At the center of chaos, the wild-eyed President Obama strikes blindly, oblivious of the consequences, willing to risk a financial debacle or a nuclear war. He enforces sanctions against Iran; imposes sanctions on Russia; sets up missile bases five launch minutes from Moscow; sends killer drones against Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan; arms mercenaries in Syria; trains and equips Kurds in Iraq and pays for Israel’s savagery against Gaza.

Nothing works.

The Chaos President is blind to the fact that starving one’s adversaries does not secure submission: it unites them to resist. Regime change, imposing proxies by force and subterfuge, can destroy the social fabric of complex societies: Million of peasants and workers become uprooted refugees. Popular social movements are replaced by organized criminal gangs and bandit armies.

Central America, the product of decades of US direct and proxy military interventions, which prevented the most basic structural changes, has become a chaotic, unlivable inferno for millions. Tens of thousands of children flee from their ‘free market’- induced mass poverty and militarized state and gangster violence. Children refugees at the US border are arrested in mass, and imprisoned in makeshift detention camps, subject to psychological, physical and sexual abuse by officials and guards on the inside. On the outside, these pitiful children are exposed to the racist hatred of a frightened US public unaware of the dangers these children are escaping and the US government’s role in creating these hells.

The US-backed Kiev aviation authorities re-directed international passenger airlines to fly over war zones bristling with anti-aircraft missiles while Kiev’s jets bombed the rebellious cities and towns. One flight was shot down and nearly 300 civilians perished. Immediately an explosion of accusations from Kiev blaming Russian President Putin flooded Western media with no real facts to explain the tragedy/crime. War-crazy President Obama and the slavering prime ministers of the EU ejaculated ultimatums, threatening to convert Russia into a pariah state. ‘Sanctions, sanctions, everywhere . . . but first… France must complete its $1.5 billion sale to the Russian navy.’ And the City of London exempts the Russian oligarchs from the ‘sanctions’, embedded as they are in London’s money-laundering, parasitical FIRE (Fire, Insurance and Real Estate) economy. The Cold War has returned and has taken an ugly turn… with exceptions…for business.

Confrontation among nuclear powers is imminent: And the maniacal Baltic States and Poland bray the loudest for war with Russia, oblivious to their positions on the front lines of incineration…

Each day Israel’s war machine chews up more bodies of Gaza’s children while spitting out more lies. Cheering Israeli Jews perch on their fortified hills to celebrate each missile strike on the apartments and schools in the densely populated Shejaiya neighborhood of besieged Gaza. A group of orthodox and secular entrepreneurs in Brooklyn have organized group tours to visit the Holy Sites by day and enjoy the Gaza pyrotechnics by night . . . night goggles to view the fleeing mothers and burning children are available at a small extra charge…

Again the US Senate votes unanimously in support of Israel’s latest campaign of mass murder – no crime is depraved enough to ruffle the scruples of America’s leaders. They hew close to a script from the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations. Together they embrace a Beast from the Apocalypse gnawing on the flesh and bones of Palestine.

But, Sacre Bleu! France’s Zionists have prevailed on the ‘President-Socialiste’ Hollande. Paris bans all anti-Israel demonstrations despite the clear reports of genocide. Demonstrators supporting the Gazan resistance are gassed and assaulted by special riot police – ‘Socialist’ Hollande serves the demands of powerful Zionist organizations while trashing his country’s republican traditions and its sacred ‘Rights of Man’.

The young protestors of Paris fought back with barricades and paving stones in the finest traditions of the Paris Commune waving the flags of a free Palestine. Not a single ‘red banner’ was in sight: The French ‘left’ were under their beds or off on vacation.

There are ominous signs away from the killing fields. The stock market is rising while the economy stagnates. Wild speculators have returned in their splendor widening the gap between the fictitious and real economy before the ‘deluge’, the chaos of another inevitable crash.

In industrial America’s once great Detroit, clean water is shut-off to tens of thousands of poor citizens unable to pay for basic services. In the midst of summer, urban families are left to defecate in hallways, alleyways and empty lots. Without water the toilets are clogged, children are not washed. Roscoe, the master plumber, says the job is way beyond him.

According to our famed economists, the economy of Detroit is ‘recovering . . . profits are up, it’s only the people who are suffering’. Productivity has doubled, speculators are satisfied; pensions are slashed and wages are down; but the Detroit Tigers are in first place.

Public hospitals everywhere are being closed. In the Bronx and Brooklyn, emergency rooms are overwhelmed. Chaos! Interns work 36 hour shifts . . . and the sick and injured take their chances with a sleep-deprived medic. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, private clinics and ‘boutique’ practices for the elite proliferate.

Scandinavians have embraced the putschist power grab in Kiev. The Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt bellows for a new Cold War with Russia. The Danish emissary and NATO leader, Rasmussen, salivates obscenely at the prospect of bombing and destroying Syria in a replay of NATO’s ‘victory’ over Libya.

The German leaders endorse the ongoing Israeli genocide against Gaza; they are comfortably protected from any moral conscience by their nostalgic blanket of ‘guilt’ over Nazi crimes 70 years ago.

Saudi-funded Jihadi terrorists in Iraq showed their “infinite mercy” by… merely driving thousands of Christians from ancient Mosul. Nearly 2,000 years of a continuous Christian presence was long enough! At least most escaped with their heads still attached.

Chaos Everywhere

Over one hundred thousand agents of the US National Security Agency are paid to spy on two million Muslim citizens and residents in the USA. But for all the tens of billions of dollars spent and tens of millions of conversations recorded, Islamic charities are prosecuted and philanthropic individuals are framed in ‘sting operations’.

Where the bombs fall no one knows, but people flee. Millions are fleeing the chaos.

But there is no place to go! The French invade half a dozen African countries but the refugees are denied refuge in France. Thousands die in the desert or drown crossing the Med. Those who do make it, are branded criminals or relegated to ghettos and camps.

Chaos reigns in Africa, the Middle East, Central America and Detroit. The entire US frontier with Mexico has become a militarized detention center, a multi-national prison camp. The border is unrecognizable to our generation.

Chaos reigns in the markets. Chaos masquerades as trade sanctions: Iran yesterday, Russia today and China tomorrow. Washington, Watch out! Your adversaries are finding common ground, trading, forging agreements, building defenses; their ties are growing stronger.

Chaos reigns in Israel. War-obsessed Israelis discover that the Chosen People of God can also bleed and die, lose limbs and eyes in the alleyways of Gaza where poorly armed boys and men stand their ground. When the cheers turn to jeers, will they re-elect Bibi, their current kosher butcher? The overseas brethren, the fundraisers, the lobbyists and the armchair verbal assassins will automatically embrace some new face, without questions, regrets or (god forbid!) self-criticism –if it’s ‘good for Israel and the Jews’ it’s got to be right!

Chaos reigns in New York. Judicial rulings favor the pirates and their vulture funds demanding one-thousand percent returns on old Argentine bonds. If Argentina rejects this financial blackmail and defaults, shock waves will ripple throughout global financial markets. Creditors will tremble in uncertainty: Fears will grow over a new financial crash. Will they squeeze out another trillion-dollar bailout?

But where’s the money? Printing presses are working day and night. There are only a few life boats . . . enough for the bankers and Wall Street, the other ninety-nine percent will have to swim or feed the sharks.

The corrupted financial press now advises warlords on which country to bomb and politicians on how to impose economic sanctions; they no longer provide sound economic information or advise investors on markets. Their editorial rants will incite an investor flight to buy king-sized mattresses for stuffing as the banks fail.

The US President is on the verge of a mental breakdown: He’s a liar of Munchausen proportions with a bad case of political paranoia, war hysteria and megalomania. He’s gone amok, braying, ‘I lead the world: its US leadership or chaos’. Increasingly the world has another message: ‘It’s the US and chaos.’

Wall Street is abandoning him. The Russians have double-crossed him. The Chinese merchants are now doing business everywhere we used to be and we ought to be. They’re playing with loaded dice. The stubborn Somalis refuse to submit to a Black President: they reject this ‘ML King with drones’ . . . The Germans suck on their thumbs in total stupor as Americans monitor and record their every conversation…for their own safety! “Our corporations are ingrates after all we have done for them”, the First Black President whines. “They flee from our taxes while we subsidize their operations!”

Final Solutions: The End of Chaos

The only solution is to move on: Chaos breeds chaos. The President strives to project his ‘Leadership’. He asks his close advisers very hard questions: “Why can’t we bomb Russia, just like Israel bombs Gaza? Why don’t we build an ‘Iron Dome’ over Europe and shoot down Russian nuclear missiles while we fire upon Moscow from our new bases in Ukraine? Which countries will our ‘Dome’ protect? I am sure that the people of East Europe and the Baltic States will gladly make the supreme sacrifice. After all, their leaders were at the very front frothing for a war with Russia. Their reward, a nuclear wasteland, will be a small price to ensure our success!”

The Zionist lobby will insist our ‘Iron Dome’ covers Israel. But the Saudis may try to bribe the Russians to spare the oil fields as Moscow targets the US missile bases near Mecca. Our radio-active allies in the Middle East will just have to relocate to a new Holy Land.

Do Obama and his advisers imagine reducing the Asian population by a billion or two? Do they plan several hundred Hiroshimas because the Chinese crossed the President’s ‘red lines’: China’s economy and trade grew too fast, expanded too far, it was too competitive, too competent, too successful at gaining market shares, and they ignored our warnings and our unparalleled military might.

Most of Asia will inhale nuclear dust, millions of Indians and Indonesians will perish as collateral damage. Their survivors will feast on ‘radiated fish’ in a glowing sea.

Beyond Chaos: The New American Way:

Because our ‘Iron Dome’ will have failed us, we will have to re-emerge out of toxic ashes and crawl from our bunkers, dreaming of a New America free from wars and poverty. The Reign of Chaos will have ended. The ‘peace and order’ of the graveyard will reign supreme.

The emperors will be forgotten.

And we never will have found out who fired that missile at the doomed Malaysian airliner with its 300 passengers and crew. We will have lost count of the thousands of Palestinian parents and children slaughtered in Gaza by the Chosen People of Israel. We will not know how the sanctions against Russia panned out.

It won’t matter in the post-nuclear age, after the Chaos…

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Professor James Petras, Boiling Frogs Post contributing analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

Foundation of the US Empire: Axes of Evil

The US Empire’s Three Regional Axes of Power in the Middle East

Empires are not easy to sustain given the multiple enemies that they provoke: at the international level (imperial rivals and emerging new powers), at the national level (national resistance movements, unreliable clients and untrustworthy ‘Sepoy’ armies) and at the local level (boycotts, sabotage and strikes).

Imperial difficulties are multiplied when an empire is in economic decline, (loss of market shares with growing debt), facing domestic unrest as the economic costs to the taxpayers exceed the returns by a substantial margin; and when the political elite is internally divided between ‘militarists’ and ‘free market’ advocates.

The US Empire today is in the midst of a long-term decline, during which it has suffered a series of costly defeats. In addition, Washington has assumed long-term burdensome commitments to allies who have imposed their own ambitions of seeking ‘mini empires’ (Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia).

The US White House has increasingly adopted a military definition of ‘imperial leadership’ at the expense of reconfiguring imperial relations to accommodate potential new political and economic partners.

As the empire slides, the political elite, operating with a highly militarized mind set, has expanded its intrusive global intelligence networks to spy on allies, adversaries and its own citizens. Washington has risked deepening hostilities among key allies (Germany and Brazil), and exacerbating conflicts with conciliatory competitors (Russia), by refusing to curtail its massive espionage. Spying is a clear hostile act and part of the policy of military-driven empire building.

Empires Depend on Alliances

The entire edifice of the US Empire, like the earlier British Empire, is sustained through a series of complex alliances.

US military forces are injected into a country to orient and ensure that local military and police forces efficiently control their population and become available as mercenaries to fight overseas wars for the US Empire.

In the past two centuries, European colonial empires, especially the French and English, invaded and subjugated nations using colonial solders of color under the command of European imperial officers.

Today, the US empire builders are making their transition back to the 19th century colonial model. The Pentagon has been moving from reliance on US ground troops to recruiting colonial troops under US military command.

To that end, Washington’s empire has turned toward creating alliances with regional powers to sustain imperial pre-eminence. These ‘alliances’ are in place in Africa, Latin America, Asia and, in particular, in the Middle East. The Empire’s Middle East alliances have been operative for decades, but in recent years, they have absorbed the greatest resources with devastating consequences to the Empire as we shall see.

The Empire today operates and can only be sustained by these alliances or ‘axes of regional power’, which are therefore worth analyzing in greater detail.

The Axes of Power: The Middle East

The US Empire builders have constructed three regional axes of power in the Middle East. In order of importance, they are: the US-Israeli axis of power, the US-Saudi axis and the US-Turkey axis of power.

The US-Israel axis of power is based on a longstanding agreement. The US militarily and financially supports Israel’s colonial expansion into Palestine and Syria, while Israel backs US projections of military and political power throughout the region. Thanks to US military and financial aid, Israel has become the dominant military power in the Middle East and the only nuclear power in the region. The US has used Israel’s wars and invasions of its neighbors to secure several Arab collaborator client states (notably Jordan and Egypt). More recently the US-Israeli power axis has been expanded to include the client regime in Kurdistan (northern Iraq). In addition, the US-Israeli axis has been deeply involved in financing and promoting collaborator opposition forces in Lebanon (currently the Hariri political formation), sectors of the armed mercenaries in Syria, Kurdish Peshmerga militias in Iraq and the so-called ‘Mujahedeen al Khalq’ terrorists in Iran. The US CIA and Israel’s Mossad engage in clandestine violent operations directly intervening to destabilize secular and Islamic nationalist regimes like Iran, to disrupt their communications and to assassinate Iranian scientists and leaders. Israel has secured political and intelligence agreements with Egypt and Jordan to isolate and dispossess the Palestinians. The US has secured military bases and operational platforms in Egypt and Jordan to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon, President Bashar al Assad in Syria and the Iranian government.

However, while in the past each country benefited from the US-Israel axis of power, recently it has turned into a costly, asymmetrical relation, a zero-sum game, where Israel’s regional power increases as the US Empire deteriorates.

This turn of events is easily understood if one examines the way in which Middle East policy is formulated in the US. Over the past three decades, Israel has constructed the most formidable organized power configuration in the United States that has ever penetrated an imperial state in history. Linked by tribal loyalties and blind obedience, over a half-million Jewish Zionists have embraced Israel’s interests and pursued them with a zeal and single-mindedness that is unmatched by any other foreign-based lobby. Prominent Zionists have permeated key state institutions, from the US Treasury, Commerce and the Pentagon, to the White House and the National Security Council. They dominate the US Congress, the ‘two party’ system, especially the nomination and electoral process, ensuring that only candidates who swear allegiance to Israel are allowed to run and be elected. That way no political debate regarding Israel’s subversive influence is permitted. They dominate the mass media ensuring that all news and commentary is favorable to Israel and all criticism of the Jewish state is excluded.

Here we have the paradox of an imperial ally, Israel colonizing an imperial power and extracting tribute, with foreign aid to Tel Aviv exceeding $3.6 billion this year. More importantly the Zionist power configuration plays a key role in waging wars against Israel’s designated enemies and providing diplomatic cover for the Jewish state’s ethnic slaughter of the people of Palestine.

The Israel-US alliance has been set up wholly on Israel’s terms. Even as Israel rains thousands of tons of bombs on the captive people of Gaza, to the horror of world public opinion, the White House applauds and the US Congress unanimously approves resolutions supporting Israel’s war crimes at the behest of the powerful Zionists ensconced in Washington.

Whatever the US Empire has gained from Israel in the way of intimidating and humiliating Arab leaders in the region it has lost in economic terms. Major oil companies have lost hundreds of billions of dollars in trade and investment from the wars in Iraq, Syria and Libya and from sanctions against Iran. The US domestic economy has lost hundreds of billions of dollars in income and investment as a result of the high cost of oil imports resulting from the wars.

Strategically, the asymmetrical US-Israeli alliance has turned the US into an ‘empire’ dominated by militarists, and one exclusively focused on the Middle East. This transformation into a ‘military-driven’ Empire has resulted in neglect, decline and displacement of the imperial influence in the most dynamic growth sectors of the world economy – Asia, Latin America and Russia.

It is a paradox where the lop-sided strength of the US-Israeli axis in the Middle East has profoundly undermined the US global economic and domestic foundations of empire. Moreover, the brutal ‘colonial-style wars’ in the Middle East promoted by US Zionist strategists in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have destroyed any possibility of re-constructing viable client states and markets out of these conquered nations. Israeli military strategists have long wanted these regimes destroyed, their state institutions dismantled and their societies embroiled in sectarian, tribal strife. As a result, the US wars have not produced a single functioning client state: the US military invaded, occupied and destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan while losing the wars in political terms. This came at no cost to Israel, the unchallenged regional hegemon, while the US Treasury will struggle with a trillion dollar price tag and the US public will experience economic decline for generations.

The US-Saudi Axis of Power

The second most important axis of power in the Middle East is the US-Saudi alliance. From the perspective of the US Empire, the Saudi connection has many advantages, as well as costs. Saudi financing, in collaboration with the US, was instrumental in recruiting, arming and financing the Islamist guerrillas, which overthrew the secular pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan. Saudi links to the Pakistani intelligence services and military has ensured Pakistan will remain a client-state of the US Empire. Saudi intervention in Yemen and Bahrain propped-up the pro-empire, anti-democratic puppet regimes while ensuring US access to its strategic military bases.

Saudi Arabia is the principle backer of US sanctions and confrontation with Iran. It provides air bases, military intelligence operations and the funding of anti-Iranian terrorists, like ‘Mujahedeen al Khalq’. Saudi Arabia is the biggest market for US military exports. Saudi increased its oil output to compensate for a decline of oil in world markets due to the US embargo against and the destruction of oil production following the US attacks and devastation of Iraq and Libya. In exchange Saudi Arabia’s absolutist monarchy obtains US protection, security and assistance in repressing its domestic unrest. Saudi billionaires, no matter how brutal and corrupt, have full access to lucrative financial markets in the US. The Saudi theocratic-monarchic dictatorship has clearly benefited from the US destruction of secular nationalist Arab regimes in the region. Indeed, secular nationalism has been the Saudi’s primary target since its monarchy was set up by the British.

Nevertheless, the Saudi-US axis is fraught with tensions. The Saudi regime actively promotes Sunni extremist jihadi movements in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon undermining Washington-backed neo-liberal clients. The Saudi-backed terrorists in Libya have destabilized the US proxies. The Saudis promoted and financed the bloody military coup in Egypt of General Sisi. The Saudi Royals support the brutal military overthrow of the elected President Morsi and the suppression of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood because of Morsi’s rapprochement with Iran. This has ruined Obama’s more ‘moderate’ goal of setting up a Muslim Brotherhood-Egyptian military power sharing arrangement in Cairo.

In other words, the US and Saudi axis converge in opposition to secular-nationalist regimes but diverge on the alternatives. The Saudis tend to choose the most retrograde Islamic extremist groups excluding and antagonizing all other tendencies, from conservative-secular neo-liberals to democratic, nationalist and socialist parties and movements. They end up with political polarizations unfavorable to US long-term imperial interests. The Saudi choice of political alternatives tends to be minorities incapable of sustaining or overtly hostile to the US imperial order. Moreover, Saudi Arabia opposes Israel on religious grounds, the principle US political partner in the region, even as it works with the Jewish state against the secular or nationalist governments Syria, Iran and Lebanon.

Like its alliance with Israel, the US-Saudi axis comes at a very high cost. Saudi financing of the Taliban and other Islamic groups has cost the US empire builders hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of military casualties and a humiliating retreat after a thirteen year war.

Saudi funding for Sunni terrorists in Syria has decimated US-backed neo-liberal armed groups. Equally damaging, the same Saudi-backed jihadi groups have severely destabilized the US-imposed Maliki regime in Iraq. Saudi attacks on the US-Iranian nuclear negotiations have strengthened the Zionist-led opposition in the US Congress.

In other words the US-Saudi axis has buttressed the US Empire in the short-run, but has become a strategic liability. Saudi’s overseas projection of its most reactionary internal politics undermines the US effort to create stable imperial clients. Not to be overlooked is the Saudi role in financing Al Queda and its operatives in the attack on the US on September 11, 2001.

The US Turkey Axis

Turkey has been a major US-NATO asset especially during the Cold War. The secular-military regimes in Ankara mobilized the largest number of combat troops on the USSR’s border and provided the US with numerous air bases and intelligence centers. In recent times, under an Islamist regime, Turkey has become the axis for the US and EU-backed mercenary invasion of Syria, providing military sanctuaries, training, arms and financing to overthrow the secular Baathist regime in Damascus.

The Erdogan regime has sought to regain a pivotal role within NATO by backing the Empire’s effort to topple nationalist leaders and movements in the region.

Turkey has worked closely with the US and Israel in building up the political, economic and military capacities of the Iraqi Kurds. They are seen as a counter-force to the Saudi-backed jihadis, the failed Shia regime in Baghdad and Iraqi petrol-nationalists.

While pursuing neo-liberal policies congruent with US imperial design and collaborating with Washington’s clients in ‘Kurdistan’, Turkey has its own regional ambitions. President Erdogan supported the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and opposed the military coup of General Sisi, fearing, perhaps, a similar coup by the Turkish military. Up until quite recently Turkey had its own ‘mini-imperial’ agenda via trade and investment in Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan and Afghanistan. The recent imperial conflicts and regional instability have undermined Erdogan’s dreams of a neo-Ottoman revival. 95% of Turkish public opinion supports the rights of the Palestinian people; this has forced Erdogan to pull away from the Israeli-US axis, at least temporarily. Likewise the Turkish regime, while not in opposition to the Saudi dictatorship, has refrained from overt collaboration apart from trade and Gulf investments.

With the US-EU in the process of isolating and demonizing Russia, it remains to be seen whether Turkey will once again become the military axis for NATO. Russia is an important energy supplier and market for Turkish goods. If Turkey decides to join the new US axis confronting Russia, it will lose out economically and will have to find alternative markets and energy sources in an increasingly unstable region. A weakened Turkey may be more submissive to empire but it will be more vulnerable to internal opposition.

Conclusion

The US Empire, like previous ones, depends on a host of alliances and axes of power to sustain it and compensate for military, political and economic limitations in resources and personnel. With regard to the main region of direct US involvement, the Middle East, Washington has embraced three sets of alliances with partners who have played a paradoxical role in both sustaining and eroding the US Empire.

Israel, the primary ally of the US, is largely a political and military construct of US policymakers over the past years. It was originally designed to serve and police the region for the US. Instead, over the years, the relationship has been totally reversed: US imperial power has been subordinated to serve Israel’s ambitions to impose unchallenged regional superiority over the Middle East. For the first time in the history of empires, a satrap of empire has systematically penetrated the principle imperial institutions. Decision-makers and elites loyal to Israeli interests have expended vast amounts of US military resources and American soldiers to wage wars with the goal of decimating Israel’s enemies. Five hundred thousand well organized and financed American Jewish-Zionist activists have directed the global empire into focusing on one region: the Middle East. The mass media, US Congress and the principle advisory bodies (dubbed ‘think tanks’) in Washington are engaged in formulating US policies in line with Israel’s colonial interests with disastrous consequences for the American people. In effect, the US state and society are ‘colonized’ by unconditional supporters of Israel. The Zionist power configuration’s influence finds its most macabre expression in the US Congress unanimous endorsement of the Israeli slaughter of hundreds of trapped Palestinian civilians and children during the July 2014 terror bombing of Gaza. This repugnant act is the culmination of the forced servility of an ostensibly global imperial power subject to the dictates of its lawless, genocidal ally.

The Israeli-US axis has led the Empire into a blind ally: A totally one-sided relation has inflated the military dimensions of empire in Israel’s interests. Economically, this has become the most perverse of all imperial partnerships, where the satrap extracts billions of dollars a year in political tribute and advanced weaponry in return for nothing! Strategically, the global decline of the US Empire, its loss of market shares and political influence in the most dynamic regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa, can be wholly attributed to its sustained focus on the Middle East.

The disastrous ‘exclusive Middle East focus’ can be attributed to the leadership, organization and policies of the Empire.

The US political leadership, beholden to unconditional supporters of Israel, has committed the most damaging policies in US history. First and foremost, these elite-educated policymakers have degraded the entire economic dimensions of empire by pursuing a relentless military agenda – destroying oil producers, raising world prices, sowing instability and by bleeding the US Treasury of trillions of dollars - with few returns.

This self-proclaimed ‘best and brightest’, with advanced degrees from the most prestigious universities, includes policymakers who have committed the US to endless wars which only benefit Israel. Most of these key policymakers, including Wolfowitz, Emmanuel, Feith, Libby, Abrams, Greenspan, Levy, Cohen, Frohman, Lew, Fischer, Bernanke and Yellen have deliberately pillaged the US Treasury in order to sustain Middle East wars for Israel and Wall Street bankers. The ‘leading lights’ among the Zionist policy-makers, occupying influential positions in the imperial power structures, are responsible for an unmitigated disaster: they have initiated failed wars, dismantled whole societies, fomented financial crises and promoted a one-way ‘partnership’ with a genocidal state. If only they had pursued respectable and successful careers as dentists, doctors, investors, bankers or ivory tower academics – millions of precious lives would not have been destroyed….

However, it is not only the empire’s alliance with Israel which is driving the empire to crisis. The Saudi-US axis has given immense power to the most retrograde satraps and barbaric armed insurgents running amok in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. An empire, associated with the most parasitic Arab ‘rentiers’ who send their own fanatical offspring to self-immolate for a head-beheading new world order has scarce resonance in the modern world.

An empire, organized around axes of evil and directed by political leaders loyal to satraps, has no material or moral foundations to justify its existence.

# # # #

Professor James Petras, Boiling Frogs Post contributing analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

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Listen to the Podcast here:


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