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Fri, 12 Feb 2016
The World for People who Think

Gold Seal

Pepe Escobar: Empire of Chaos vs Eurasian Integration in 2016


Comment: More brilliant geopolitical analysis from Pepe Escobar...


In his seminal Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization, Bryan Ward-Perkins writes:
Romans before the fall were as certain as we are today that their world would continue forever... They were wrong. We would be wise not to repeat their complacency.
The Empire of Chaos, today, is not about complacency. It's about hubris - and fear. Ever since the start of the Cold War the crucial question has been who would control the great trading networks of Eurasia - or the "heartland", according to Sir Halford John Mackinder (1861 - 1947), the father of geopolitics.

We could say that for the Empire of Chaos, the game really started with the CIA-backed coup in Iran in 1953, when the US finally encountered, face to face, that famed Eurasia crisscrossed for centuries by the Silk Road(s), and set out to conquer them all.

Only six decades later, it's clear there won't be an American Silk Road in the 21st century, but rather, just like its ancient predecessor, a Chinese one. Beijing's push for what it calls 'One Belt, One Road' is inbuilt in the 21st century conflict between the declining empire and Eurasia integration. Key subplots include perennial NATO expansion and the empire's obsession in creating a war zone out of the South China Sea.

As the Beijing-Moscow strategic partnership analyses it, the oligarchic elites who really run the Empire of Chaos are bent on the encirclement of Eurasia - considering they may be largely excluded from an integration process based on trade, commerce and advanced communication links.

Beijing and Moscow clearly identify provocation after provocation, coupled with relentless demonization. But they won't be trapped, as they're both playing a very long game.

Russian President Vladimir Putin diplomatically insists on treating the West as "partners". But he knows, and those in the know in China also know, these are not really "partners". Not after NATO's 78-day bombing of Belgrade in 1999. Not after the purposeful bombing of the Chinese Embassy. Not after non-stop NATO expansionism. Not after a second Kosovo in the form of an illegal coup in Kiev. Not after the crashing of the oil price by Gulf petrodollar US clients. Not after the Wall Street-engineered crashing of the ruble. Not after US and EU sanctions. Not after the smashing of Chinese A shares by US proxies on Wall Street. Not after non-stop saber rattling in the South China Sea. Not after the shooting down of the Su-24.

Key

Creativity vs Entropy: China the new 'center of civilization'?

I'm feeling more and more in recent months that, as difficult as it may be to believe, our world is moving away from seemingly endless wars. Make no mistake, we haven't seen the end of wars at all. The dynamic and the war energy is changing, however. Not without a frenzy of self-conceit does the so-called Western World throw forks, china, pots, pans, rolling pins - anything it can get its bloody hands on - like a spoiled child throwing a gargantuan temper-tantrum. It tries to deny this reality over which it has less control by the second. The world is moving away from wars, from an, if-you-will, patriarchal psychosis of control - a matrix of fear, shame, guilt, rage, hate. What is beginning to emerge in what we in the West have egoistically termed the East, is construction, building new great projects to uplift a sector of mankind ignored for more that a thousand years. This transformative positive motion is what, if anything, will save our humankind from the mass death and destruction some in the West so devoutly wish for us.

I want to illustrate this with recent developments out of what was centuries ago called in Chinese, "zhōngguó" or "the center of civilization." It may well become that again if present trends with China, Russia and other Eurasian nations continue.

China is moving forward with an impressive array of major international infrastructure projects, including with Russia and the other states of the Eurasian Economic Union, even on to the European Union. Beijing is, with customary Chinese speed, linking its economy by land and by sea lanes to all Eurasia, from the East China Sea to the Black Sea, from the Malacca Strait to the Gulf of Finland, to Piraeus in the eastern Mediterranean.

Георгиевская ленточка

The West's containment of Russia is a myth, say US foreign policy mandarins. But is it?


Comment: The following screed was penned by one 'Kirk Bennett', which is probably a nom de plume for one of the US elite's top reality-creators. It was published in The American Interest, a bi-monthly, 'elite' US foreign policy magazine begun by US 'geostrategists' Francis Fukuyama, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Adam Garfinkle 10 years ago to "define the American interest." It includes among its regular contributors the British 'gentleman historian' Niall Ferguson, and NeoCons Dov Zakheim, Robert Kaplan, and Bernard-Henri Lévy. Their focus in this article is 'Russian containment', which is rejected as 'a myth'...



'The Motherland Calls', WW2 memorial outside Volgograd (formerly known as Stalingrad), the tallest statue of a woman on Earth
"There can be no alliance between Russia and the West, either for the sake of interests or for the sake of principles. There is not a single interest, not a single trend in the West which does not conspire against Russia, especially her future, and does not try to harm her. Therefore Russia's only natural policy towards the West must be to seek not an alliance with the Western powers but their disunion and division. Only then will they not be hostile to us, not of course out of conviction, but out of impotence."
These words, which sound like something Russia's President Vladimir Putin might have said recently, were actually penned in 1864 by the Russian poet and diplomat Fyodor Tyutchev. The notion of perpetual Western antipathy runs in strong currents throughout Russian thought over the past two centuries. Indeed this is a well from which Putin has drawn deeply in recent speeches to mobilize the Russian populace and to justify the Kremlin's policies in Ukraine and elsewhere. The West, according to this account, is both envious of Russia's dynamism and moral superiority and eager to profit territorially at Russia's expense. Putin has repeatedly alleged that the West has maintained a containment policy toward Russia since the 18th century; the Western reaction to events in Ukraine is merely the present manifestation of this policy. Indeed, so deep and consistent is the animosity toward the mighty Eurasian colossus that, even without Ukraine, Westerners would have seized on some other pretext, however flimsy, to try to keep Russia on its knees.

Comment: And, of course, the author finishes up with a broadside at folks, like ourselves, who have figured out what's actually going on (and with very little, if any, Russian narrative input).

No, 'Bennett', the major division among Western observers of Russia is between those who see you and your kind for what you really are, and those who still believe the 'realities' you spin from your lie factories.

So then, dear reader, as the author asked above, how accurate is the "tidy little narrative" that the West has sought to (and continues seeking to) contain Russia?

We say it's deadly accurate.

What do you think?


USA

What's in store for America in 2016?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."—George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Vol. 1

Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day
In Harold Ramis' classic 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, TV weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) is forced to live the same day over and over again until he not only gains some insight into his life but changes his priorities. Similarly, as I illustrate in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we in the emerging American police state find ourselves reliving the same set of circumstances over and over again—egregious surveillance, strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, government spying, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, etc.—although with far fewer moments of comic hilarity.

What remains to be seen is whether 2016 will bring more of the same or whether "we the people" will wake up from our somnambulant states. Indeed, when it comes to civil liberties and freedom, 2015 was far from a banner year.

The following is just a sampling of what we can look forward to repeating if we don't find some way to push back against the menace of an overreaching, aggressive, invasive, militarized surveillance state.

Light Saber

2015: The year Russia exposed Western barbarism

2015 was the year Russia exposed the barbaric nature of Western powers, from their criminal conspiracy for regime change in Syria, to aggression against Yemen, Iran, Russia, China and any country that does not toe the line.

It is a thread we can find in many other stories, many of which were covered by Western media. The difference is the latter media omit or lose the all-important thread of how Western powers have created or exacerbated major, pressing international problems.

Crisis made by the EU

Take the European Union's immigration crisis. Up to one million refugees have been recorded entering EU borders this year, according to the United Nations. Thousands perished while crossing the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas on rickety boats to reach the shores of Italy or Greece. EU nations held several top-level summits on the emergency, but no collective response was forthcoming, leading to much recrimination between the 28-member states. Countries such as Britain and France were accused of not doing enough to take in refugees, while "front line" states Greece, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia complain they are being overwhelmed by the influx.

Bullseye

Putin, a man of his word: Some of his best quotes in 2015

© Sputnik/ Aleksey Nikolsky

Comment: Putin has taken a leading role in geopolitics in 2015, possibly even altering the course of our future trajectory as a planet, and the world is taking notice. After so many decades of seeing western leaders' words not match their actions, people are seeing that Putin's actions match his words and that he's working to be a force for good in this world. Hopefully he has a lot more in store for 2016.


In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin touched upon a whole array of pressing international issues, and it seems that the world was ready to listen as each remark made global headlines.

2015 saw Russian President Vladimir Putin discuss a spate of hot-button topics, with his thoughtful and sharp remarks quickly grabbing international headlines. Here is a list of some of Putin's most outstanding remarks at important occasions throughout the year, including his meetings with senior foreign officials, his address to the Russian Upper House (Federal Assembly), as well as his interviews and at his keynote press conference:

Horse

Shameless! Miraculous intervention by Sultan Erdogan 'saves man' from committing suicide on Istanbul bridge

© Turkish President's Press Office
Recipe: "Yo Mohammed, word up. Listen, what's the latest on re-routing that oil via Mosul?... One sec: some peasant wants a photo with me..."

Igor: "Oh wise sultan, your very presence has shown me the light!"
One poor fellow in Turkey - who reportedly had family problems - was lucky enough to find himself on the same bridge and at the same time as president Recep Erdogan had been traveling through it. The man was talked out of a suicide attempt, media reported.

In a video released on Christmas day, the presidential motorcade is seen on Istanbul's Bosphorus Bridge - at the very same time that a man appears to be standing on it behind the guard rail, facing the bay.


Comment: So a coincidental and fleeting meeting between Erdogan's cavalcade and this Turkish man is somehow attended by several camera crews? Maybe they just happened to be doing a documentary on the height of bridges over the Bosporus?

We think it's time for a tune...




Light Sabers

Putin's destruction of US proxy armies in Syria sends Kerry scampering to the United Nations

"It is remarkable that western leaders only remember the term ceasefire when their rebels on the ground are losing. Why didn't they see the need for peace in Syria before the Russian operation started?"

— Iyad Khuder, Damascus-based political analyst
Imagine if the American people elected a president who was much worse than George W. Bush or Barack Obama. A real tyrant. Would that be sufficient justification for someone like Vladimir Putin to arm and train Mexican and Canadian mercenaries to invade America, kill US civilians, destroy cities and critical infrastructure, seize vital oil refineries and pipeline corridors, behead government officials and prisoners they'd captured, declare their own independent state, and do everything in their power to overthrow the elected-government in Washington?

Of course not. The question is ridiculous. It wouldn't matter if the US president was a tyrant or not, that doesn't justify an invasion by armed proxies from another country. And yet, this is precisely the policy that US Secretary of State John Kerry defended at the United Nations on Friday. Behind all the political blabber about a "roadmap to peace", Kerry was tacitly defending a policy which has led to the deaths of 250,000 Syrians and the destruction of the country.

Quenelle - Golden

Illegal humanity: Activists compelled to arm themselves and openly defy Texas law - in order to feed the homeless

When feeding the homeless becomes an act of civil disobedience, Americans have been asleep for far too long.

Luckily, however, there are still good people who are willing to defy such arbitrary and ill-conceived laws and ordinances.

The folks over at the aptly named organization Don't Comply, took to the streets just outside the Austin Street Shelter in Dallas this weekend to perform, what has now become a revolutionary act - feeding the homeless.

"We are not complying with a bad law today," Matthew Short, PR director of Don't Comply said. "Evidently the city of Dallas believes that it's wrong, or bad, or unlawful for us to feed more than a certain number of people at a time. But, during Christmas, we want to show love to our community and give these people a chance to survive the winter, whether it be with blankets or coats, or just giving them a holiday party like today with all kinds of cookies, and goodies, turkey and dressing, and the whole nine yards."

Comment: Imagine: we live in a world where normal people with conscience must break laws - and arm themselves - to do the types of things that our local and federal government should be doing in the first place. But then again, it is the runaway train that is our government which is largely responsible for creating these conditions to begin with. It seems that a few billion dollars taken from the allocated budgets of the surveillance-military-industrial-complex-security-state would require taking away too much funding from the "things that matter" in their warped sense of priorities.


Gold Seal

Former Bush official Lawrence Wilkerson exposes the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and says "America's ship is sinking"


Former National Security Advisor, Assistant Secretary of State and retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

"This ship is sinking,"
retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson tells Abby Martin, adding that "today the purpose of US foreign policy is to support the complex that we have created in the national security state that is fueled, funded, and powered by interminable war."

The former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations reflects on the sad but honest reflection on what America has become as he exposes the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy.

"It's never been about altruism, it's about sheer power."

Comment: With almost no exceptions, Wilkerson, a former political and military insider, takes a clear, objective, sane, moral and conscientious stance on every topic covered in this 24 minute interview. Is it that individuals of such character are so abysmally rare in the culture of establishment institutions and the halls of power? Or, is it merely the nature of such institutions and the people employed by them that they are so corrupted, so mired in greed, and so hungry for the trappings of power that taking such a view as Wilkerson's must be considered an anomaly? Perhaps both. But whatever the case is, mark Wilkerson's final words closely - as they are most probably a taste of things to come in the US.