Russian President Vladimir Putin Leads BRICS Uprising

 

 

putin-brics-economies-alliance.si_-400x224There’s been a virtual blackout of news from this year’s seventh annual BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia.  None of the mainstream media organizations are covering the meetings or making any attempt to explain what’s going on.  As a result, the American people remain largely in the dark about a powerful coalition of nations that are putting in place an alternate system that will greatly reduce US influence in the world and end the current era of superpower rule.

Let’s cut to the chase: Leaders of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) realize that global security cannot be entrusted to a country that sees war as a acceptable means for achieving its geopolitical objectives.  They also realize that they won’t be able to achieve financial stability as long as Washington dictates the rules, issues the de facto “international” currency, and controls the main levers of global financial power. This is why the BRICS have decided to chart a different course, to gradually break free from the existing Bretton Woods system, and to create parallel system that better serves their own interests. Logically, they have focused on the foundation blocks which support the current US-led system, that is, the institutions from which the United States derives its extraordinary power; the dollar, the US Treasury market, and the IMF. Replace these, the thinking goes, and the indispensable nation becomes just another country struggling to get by.  This is from the Asia Times:

“Leaders of the BRICS… launched the  New Development Bank, which has taken three years of negotiations to bring to fruition. With about $50 billion in starting capital, the bank is expected to start issuing debt to fund infrastructure projects next year. They also launched a foreign-exchange currency fund of $100 billion.

The two new endeavors are statements that the five largest emerging markets are both looking out for each other and, simultaneously, moving away from the western financing institutions of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

“The BRICS states intend to actively use their own resources and internal resources for development,” Putin said, according to Reuters. “The New (Development) Bank will help finance joint, large-scale projects in transport and energy infrastructure, industrial development.”…..Birthing the two initiatives in Russia had been Putin’s top priorities.”

(“Russia’s Putin scores points at Ufa BRICS summit“, Asia Times)

Can you see what’s going on? Putin has figured out the empire’s vulnerabilities and he’s going straight for the jugular.  He’s saying: ‘We’re going to issue our own debt, we’re going to run our own system, we’re going to fund our own projects, and we’re going to do it all in our own currency. Kaboom. The only thing you’re going to be doing, is managing your own accelerating economic decline. Have a good day.’ Isn’t that the gist of what he’s saying?

So can you see, dear reader, why none of this is appearing on the pages of US newspapers or on US television.   Washington would rather you didn’t know how they’ve bungled everything by alienating the fastest growing countries in the world.

The Ufa conference is a watershed moment. While the Pentagon is rapidly moving troops and military hardware to Russia’s borders, and one bigwig after another is bloviating about the “Russian threat”; the BRICS have moved out of Washington’s orbit altogether.  They are following the leadership of men who, frankly speaking, are acting exactly like US leaders acted when the US was on the upswing. These are guys who “think big”; who want to connect continents with high-speed rail, lift living standards across the board, and transform themselves into manufacturing dynamos. What do America’s leaders dream about: Drone warfare? Balancing the budget? Banning the Confederate flag?

It’s a joke. No one in Washington has a plan for the future. It’s all just political opportunism and posturing.  Check this out from The Hindu:

“China and Russia have described BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) as the core of a new international order…

Russian President Vladimir Putin said… “There is no doubt — we have all necessary premises to expand the horizons of mutually beneficial cooperation, to join together our raw material resources, human capital and huge consumer markets for a powerful economic spurt.”

Russia’s Tass news agency also quoted Mr. Putin as saying that the Eurasian continent had vast transit potential. He pointed to “the construction of new efficient transport and logistics chains, in particular, the implementation of the initiative of the Silk Road economic belt and the development of transportation in the eastern part of Russia and Siberia. This may link the rapidly growing markets in Asia and Europe’s economies, mature, rich in industrial and technological achievements. At the same time, this will allow our countries to become more commercially viable in the competition for investors, for creating new jobs, for advanced enterprises,” he observed.”….

The summit also acknowledged “the potential for expanding the use of our national currencies in transactions between the BRICS countries.”   (“BRICS, SCO, EAEU can define new world order: China, Russia“, The Hindu)

The dollar is toast. The IMF is toast. The US debt market (US Treasuries) is toast.  The institutions that support US power are crumbling before our very eyes. The BRICS have had enough; enough war, enough Wall Street, enough meddling and hypocrisy and austerity and lecturing. This is farewell. Sure, it will take time, but Ufa marks a fundamental change in thinking, a fundamental change in approach, and a fundamental change in strategic orientation.

The BRICS are not coming back,  they’re gone for good, just as Washington’s “pivot to Asia” is gone for good. There’s just too much resistance. Washington has simply overplayed its hand, worn out its welcome. People are sick of us.

Can you blame them?

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Unruly Hearts will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Lame duck out of the Silk Road caravan

World leaders during the APEC Summit family photo in Beijing November 10, 2014. Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott standing behind Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd L) (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

World leaders during the APEC Summit family photo in Beijing November 10, 2014. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott standing behind Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd L) (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

By Pepe Escobar

There’s hardly a more graphic illustration of where the multipolar world is going than what just happened at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.

Take a very good look at the official photos. This is all about positioning – and this being China, pregnant with symbolic meaning. Guess who’s in the place of honor, side by side with President Xi Jinping. And guess where the lame duck leader of the “indispensable nation” has been relegated. The Chinese can also be masters at sending a global message.

When President Xi urged APEC to “add firewood to the fire of the Asia-Pacific and world economy,” this is what he meant, irrespective of inconclusive decisions out of the summit.

1) Beijing will go no holds barred for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) – the Chinese vision of an “all inclusive, all-win” trade deal that really promotes Asia-Pacific cooperation, instead of the US-driven, corporate-redacted, and quite divisive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

2) The blueprint is on for “all-round connectivity,” in Xi’s words – which implies Beijing setting up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Beijing and Moscow committing to a second mega gas deal – this one through the Altai pipeline in Western Siberia; and China already funneling no less than $40 billion to start building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

World leaders take their seats as China's President Xi Jinping (C) prepares to deliver opening remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' meeting at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

World leaders take their seats as China’s President Xi Jinping (C) prepares to deliver opening remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Once again, everything converges towards the most spectacular, ambitious and wide-ranging pluri-national infrastructure offensive ever attempted: the multiple New Silk Roads – a complex network of high-speed rail, pipelines, ports, fiber optic cables and state of the art telecom that China is already building through the Central Asian -stans, linked to Russia, Iran, Turkey and the Indian Ocean, and branching out to Europe all the way to Venice and Berlin.

That’s Beijing interlinking Xi’s “Asia-Pacific Dream” way beyond East Asia, with eyes set on pan-Eurasia trade – with the center being, what else, the Middle Kingdom.

The “Go West” campaign was officially launched in China in the late 1990s. The New Silk Roads are a turbocharged “Go West” – and “Go South” – expanding markets, markets, markets. Think of near future Eurasia as a massive Chinese Silk Belt – in some latitudes in a condominium with Russia.
You want your war hot or cold?

As Beijing dreams, Noam Chomsky has been very vocal about a 1914-style chain reaction of catastrophic blunders – by the West – that could fast spin out of control; and the stakes, once again, are nuclear. Moscow absolutely abhors this gruesome possibility – and that explains why Russia, under relentless US provocation, as well as sanctions, has exercised titanic restraint. Not only can Russia not be “isolated” as the US attempted with Iran; Moscow also called the US neo-cons’ bluff in Ukraine.

At the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi, President Putin, in a crucial speech (text plus Q&A) obviously ignored by Western corporate media, drew the necessary conclusions. The Washington/Wall Street elites have absolutely no intention of allowing a minimum of multipolarity in international relations. What’s left is chaos. That’s what I’ve been arguing, over different strands, during the Obama administration years, and is at the center of my new book “Empire of Chaos”.

Moscow knows all about the complex interlinks with Europe – especially Germany – and with the still fading, but still influential, Washington Consensus. And yet Russia holds the trump card of being a Eurasian power; when in trouble, there could always be a pivoting to Asia.

Gorbachev was spot on in Berlin when he stressed how, breaking the promise personally made to him by Bush the father, NATO embarked on an eternal eastward expansion; and how the West – essentially the US plus a few European vassals – now seems obsessed in launching a new cold war, with the new Berlin Wall – metaphorically – transplanted to Kiev.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders pose for a family photo at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders pose for a family photo at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Moscow pivoting away from the West and towards East Asia is a process developing on many levels – and for months now, for all to see. Acres of forest can be further devastated to print how the outcome has been directly influenced by Barack Obama’s self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” foreign policy doctrine, which he christened aboard Air Force One when coming from a trip to – once again – Asia last April.

On energy, the spin by the Financial Times of yet another Russia-China mega gas deal as “Putin’s revenge” is proverbial rubbish. Russia is turning east because that’s where the top demand is. On finance, Moscow has just ended the pegging of the ruble to the US dollar and euro; the US dollar instantly dropped against the ruble. VTB for its part announced it may leave the London Stock Exchange for Shanghai’s – which is about to become directly linked to Hong Kong. And Hong Kong, for its part, is already attracting Russian energy giants.

Now mix these key developments with the massive yuan-ruble energy double deal, and the picture is of Russia actively protecting itself from speculative/politically motivated Western attacks against its currency.

The Russia-China symbiosis/strategic partnership visibly expands on energy, finance and, also inevitably, on the military technology front. That includes, crucially, Moscow selling Beijing the S-400 air defense system and, in the future, the S-500.

The S-500 system can intercept any American ICBMs or cruise missiles, while the Russian ICBMs deployed at Mach 17, equipped with MIRVs, are simply unbeatable. Beijing, for its part, is already developing its own surface-to-ship missiles that can take out everything the US Navy can muster – from aircraft carriers to submarines and mobile air defense systems.
Join the caravan

Strategically, Beijing and Washington could not but be polar opposites in what I called the birth of the Eurasian century.

Beijing has clearly identified Washington/Wall Street fighting to the death to preserve the short unipolar moment. China – and the BRICS – is working towards what Xi defined as a “new model of great power relations.” The Washington/Wall Street mindset is “either/or” instead of “win-win”; the self-appointed Masters of the Universe believe they can always monopolize the loot because Russia – and then China – eventually will back down to avoid confrontation. This is the key aspect of Asia-Pacific today somewhat resembling 1914 Europe.

China's President Xi Jinping delivers opening remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' meeting at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

China’s President Xi Jinping delivers opening remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

With this kind of stuff passing for “analysis” in US academic circles, and with the Washington/Wall Street elites through their myopic Think Tank land still clinging to mythical platitudes such as the “historical” American role as arbiter of modern Asia and key balancer of power, no wonder public opinion in the West cannot even imagine the impact of the New Silk Roads in the geopolitics of the young 21st century.

A quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall the US, for all practical purposes, is run by an oligarchy. Europe is geopolitically irrelevant. “Democracy” has been degraded to self-parody in most of the West. “Humanitarian” – as well as neo-con – imperialism in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and beyond has led to disaster after disaster. Financial turbo-capitalism is a time bomb.

Russia and China may not be proposing an alternative system – yet. Still, as the dogs of war, of hate, of inequality – bark, the China-Russia caravan passes. The caravan is selling Eurasia economic integration – not bombs. Real Asia-Pacific integration may still be a long dream away. Yet what APEC has shown – graphically – once again is the spectacular implosion, in slow motion, of the former indispensable nation’s geopolitical dominance.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
1.6K2339

Can China and Russia Squeeze Washington Out of Eurasia? By Pepe Escobar

 

The Future of a Beijing-Moscow-Berlin Alliance
By Pepe Escobar

PepeEscobar_AT

 

 

A specter haunts the fast-aging “New American Century”: the possibility of a future Beijing-Moscow-Berlin strategic trade and commercial alliance. Let’s call it the BMB.

Its likelihood is being seriously discussed at the highest levels in Beijing and Moscow, and viewed with interest in Berlin, New Delhi, and Tehran. But don’t mention it inside Washington’s Beltway or at NATO headquarters in Brussels. There, the star of the show today and tomorrow is the new Osama bin Laden: Caliph Ibrahim, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive, self-appointed beheading prophet of a new mini-state and movement that has provided an acronym feast — ISIS/ISIL/IS — for hysterics in Washington and elsewhere.

No matter how often Washington remixes its Global War on Terror, however, the tectonic plates of Eurasian geopolitics continue to shift, and they’re not going to stop just because American elites refuse to accept that their historically brief “unipolar moment” is on the wane. For them, the closing of the era of “full spectrum dominance,” as the Pentagon likes to call it, is inconceivable. After all, the necessity for the indispensable nation to control all space — military, economic, cultural, cyber, and outer — is little short of a religious doctrine. Exceptionalist missionaries don’t do equality. At best, they do “coalitions of the willing” like the one crammed with “over 40 countries” assembled to fight ISIS/ISIL/IS and either applauding (and plotting) from the sidelines or sending the odd plane or two toward Iraq or Syria.

NATO, which unlike some of its members won’t officially fight Jihadistan, remains a top-down outfit controlled by Washington. It’s never fully bothered to take in the European Union (EU) or considered allowing Russia to “feel” European. As for the Caliph, he’s just a minor diversion. A postmodern cynic might even contend that he was an emissary sent onto the global playing field by China and Russia to take the eye of the planet’s hyperpower off the ball.

Divide and Isolate

So how does full spectrum dominance apply when two actual competitor powers, Russia and China, begin to make their presences felt? Washington’s approach to each — in Ukraine and in Asian waters — might be thought of as divide and isolate.

In order to keep the Pacific Ocean as a classic “American lake,” the Obama administration has been “pivoting” back to Asia for several years now. This has involved only modest military moves, but an immodest attempt to pit Chinese nationalism against the Japanese variety, while strengthening alliances and relations across Southeast Asia with a focus on South China Sea energy disputes. At the same time, it has moved to lock a future trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in place.

In Russia’s western borderlands, the Obama administration has stoked the embers of regime change in Kiev into flames (fanned by local cheerleaders Poland and the Baltic nations) and into what clearly looked, to Vladimir Putin and Russia’s leadership, like an existential threat to Moscow. Unlike the U.S., whose sphere of influence (and military bases) are global, Russia was not to retain any significant influence in its former near abroad, which, when it comes to Kiev, is not for most Russians, “abroad” at all.

For Moscow, it seemed as if Washington and its NATO allies were increasingly interested in imposing a new Iron Curtain on their country from the Baltic to the Black Sea, with Ukraine simply as the tip of the spear. In BMB terms, think of it as an attempt to isolate Russia and impose a new barrier to relations with Germany. The ultimate aim would be to split Eurasia, preventing future moves toward trade and commercial integration via a process not controlled through Washington.

From Beijing’s point of view, the Ukraine crisis was a case of Washington crossing every imaginable red line to harass and isolate Russia. To its leaders, this looks like a concerted attempt to destabilize the region in ways favorable to American interests, supported by a full range of Washington’s elite from neocons and Cold War “liberals” to humanitarian interventionists in the Susan Rice and Samantha Power mold. Of course, if you’ve been following the Ukraine crisis from Washington, such perspectives seem as alien as any those of any Martian. But the world looks different from the heart of Eurasia than it does from Washington — especially from a rising China with its newly minted “Chinese dream” (Zhongguo meng).

As laid out by President Xi Jinping, that dream would include a future network of Chinese-organized new Silk Roads that would create the equivalent of a Trans-Asian Express for Eurasian commerce. So if Beijing, for instance, feels pressure from Washington and Tokyo on the naval front, part of its response is a two-pronged, trade-based advance across the Eurasian landmass, one prong via Siberia and the other through the Central Asian “stans.”

In this sense, though you wouldn’t know it if you only followed the American media or “debates” in Washington, we’re potentially entering a new world. Once upon a time not so long ago, Beijing’s leadership was flirting with the idea of rewriting the geopolitical/economic game side by side with the U.S., while Putin’s Moscow hinted at the possibility of someday joining NATO. No longer. Today, the part of the West that both countries are interested in is a possible future Germany no longer dominated by American power and Washington’s wishes.

shadowgovengelhardtMoscow has, in fact, been involved in no less than half a century of strategic dialogue with Berlin that has included industrial cooperation and increasing energy interdependence. In many quarters of the Global South this has been noted and Germany is starting to be viewed as “the sixth BRICS” power (after Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

In the midst of global crises ranging from Syria to Ukraine, Berlin’s geostrategic interests seem to be slowly diverging from Washington’s. German industrialists, in particular, appear eager to pursue unlimited commercial deals with Russia and China. These might set their country on a path to global power unlimited by the EU’s borders and, in the long term, signal the end of the era in which Germany, however politely dealt with, was essentially an American satellite.

It will be a long and winding road. The Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, is still addicted to a strong Atlanticist agenda and a preemptive obedience to Washington. There are still tens of thousands of American soldiers on German soil. Yet, for the first time, German chancellor Angela Merkel has been hesitating when it comes to imposing ever-heavier sanctions on Russia over the situation in Ukraine, because no fewer than 300,000 German jobs depend on relations with that country. Industrial leaders and the financial establishment have already sounded the alarm, fearing such sanctions would be totally counterproductive.

China’s Silk Road Banquet

China’s new geopolitical power play in Eurasia has few parallels in modern history. The days when the “Little Helmsman” Deng Xiaoping insisted that the country “keep a low profile” on the global stage are long gone. Of course, there are disagreements and conflicting strategies when it comes to managing the country’s hot spots: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, the South China Sea, competitors India and Japan, and problematic allies like North Korea and Pakistan. And popular unrest in some Beijing-dominated “peripheries” is growing to incendiary levels.

The country’s number one priority remains domestic and focused on carrying out President Xi’s economic reforms, while increasing “transparency” and fighting corruption within the ruling Communist Party. A distant second is the question of how to progressively hedge against the Pentagon’s “pivot” plans in the region — via the build-up of a blue-water navy, nuclear submarines, and a technologically advanced air force — without getting so assertive as to freak out Washington’s “China threat”-minded establishment.

Meanwhile, with the U.S. Navy controlling global sea lanes for the foreseeable future, planning for those new Silk Roads across Eurasia is proceeding apace. The end result should prove a triumph of integrated infrastructure — roads, high-speed rail, pipelines, ports — that will connect China to Western Europe and the Mediterranean Sea, the old Roman imperial Mare Nostrum, in every imaginable way.

In a reverse Marco Polo-style journey, remixed for the Google world, one key Silk Road branch will go from the former imperial capital Xian to Urumqi in Xinjiang Province, then through Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey’s Anatolia, ending in Venice. Another will be a maritime Silk Road starting from Fujian province and going through the Malacca strait, the Indian Ocean, Nairobi in Kenya, and finally all the way to the Mediterranean via the Suez canal. Taken together, it’s what Beijing refers to as the Silk Road Economic Belt.

China’s strategy is to create a network of interconnections among no less than five key regions: Russia (the key bridge between Asia and Europe), the Central Asian “stans,” Southwest Asia (with major roles for Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey), the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe (including Belarus, Moldova, and depending upon its stability, Ukraine). And don’t forget Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, which could be thought of as Silk Road plus.

Silk Road plus would involve connecting the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor to the China-Pakistan economic corridor, and could offer Beijing privileged access to the Indian Ocean. Once again, a total package — roads, high-speed rail, pipelines, and fiber optic networks — would link the region to China.

Xi himself put the India-China connection in a neat package of images in an op-ed he published in the Hindu prior to his recent visit to New Delhi. “The combination of the ‘world’s factory’ and the ‘world’s back office,’” he wrote, “will produce the most competitive production base and the most attractive consumer market.”

The central node of China’s elaborate planning for the Eurasian future is Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Province and the site of the largest commercial fair in Central Asia, the China-Eurasia Fair. Since 2000, one of Beijing’s top priorities has been to urbanize that largely desert but oil-rich province and industrialize it, whatever it takes. And what it takes, as Beijing sees it, is the hardcore Sinicization of the region — with its corollary, the suppression of any possibility of ethnic Uighur dissent.  People’s Liberation Army General Li Yazhou has, in these terms, described Central Asia as “the most subtle slice of cake donated by the sky to modern China.”

Most of China’s vision of a new Eurasia tied to Beijing by every form of transport and communication was vividly detailed in “Marching Westwards: The Rebalancing of China’s Geostrategy,” a landmark 2012 essay published by scholar Wang Jisi of the Center of International and Strategic Studies at Beijing University. As a response to such a future set of Eurasian connections, the best the Obama administration has come up with is a version of naval containment from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, while sharpening conflicts with and strategic alliances around China from Japan to India. (NATO is, of course, left with the task of containing Russia in Eastern Europe.)

An Iron Curtain vs. Silk Roads

The $400 billion “gas deal of the century,” signed by Putin and the Chinese president last May, laid the groundwork for the building of the Power of Siberia pipeline, already under construction in Yakutsk.  It will bring a flood of Russian natural gas onto the Chinese market.  It clearly represents just the beginning of a turbocharged, energy-based strategic alliance between the two countries. Meanwhile, German businessmen and industrialists have been noting another emerging reality: as much as the final market for made-in-China products traveling on future new Silk Roads will be Europe, the reverse also applies. In one possible commercial future, China is slated to become Germany’s top trading partner by 2018, surging ahead of both the U.S. and France.

A potential barrier to such developments, welcomed in Washington, is Cold War 2.0, which is already tearing not NATO, but the EU apart. In the EU of this moment, the anti-Russian camp includes Great Britain, Sweden, Poland, Romania, and the Baltic nations. Italy and Hungary, on the other hand, can be counted in the pro-Russian camp, while a still unpredictable Germany is the key to whether the future will hold a new Iron Curtain or “Go East” mindset.  For this, Ukraine remains the key.  If it is successfully Finlandized (with significant autonomy for its regions), as Moscow has been proposing — a suggestion that is anathema to Washington — the Go-East path will remain open. If not, a BMB future will be a dicier proposition.

It should be noted that another vision of the Eurasian economic future is also on the horizon.  Washington is attempting to impose a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on Europe and a similar Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Asia.  Both favor globalizing American corporations and their aim is visibly to impede the ascent of the BRICS economies and the rise of other emerging markets, while solidifying American global economic hegemony.

Two stark facts, carefully noted in Moscow, Beijing, and Berlin, suggest the hardcore geopolitics behind these two “commercial” pacts. The TPP excludes China and the TTIP excludes Russia. They represent, that is, the barely disguised sinews of a future trade/monetary war.  On my own recent travels, I have had quality agricultural producers in Spain, Italy, and France repeatedly tell me that TTIP is nothing but an economic version of NATO, the military alliance that China’s Xi Jinping calls, perhaps wishfully, an “obsolete structure.”

There is significant resistance to the TTIP among many EU nations (especially in the Club Med countries of southern Europe), as there is against the TPP among Asian nations (especially Japan and Malaysia).  It is this that gives the Chinese and the Russians hope for their new Silk Roads and a new style of trade across the Eurasian heartland backed by a Russian-supported Eurasian Union. To this, key figures in German business and industrial circles, for whom relations with Russia remain essential, are paying close attention.

After all, Berlin has not shown overwhelming concern for the rest of the crisis-ridden EU (three recessions in five years). Via a much-despised troika — the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission — Berlin is, for all practical purposes, already at the helm of Europe, thriving, and looking east for more.

Three months ago, German chancellor Angela Merkel visited Beijing. Hardly featured in the news was the political acceleration of a potentially groundbreaking project: an uninterrupted high-speed rail connection between Beijing and Berlin. When finally built, it will prove a transportation and trade magnet for dozens of nations along its route from Asia to Europe. Passing through Moscow, it could become the ultimate Silk Road integrator for Europe and perhaps the ultimate nightmare for Washington.

“Losing” Russia

In a blaze of media attention, the recent NATO summit in Wales yielded only a modest “rapid reaction force” for deployment in any future Ukraine-like situations. Meanwhile, the expanding Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a possible Asian counterpart to NATO, met in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. In Washington and Western Europe essentially no one noticed.  They should have. There, China, Russia, and four Central Asian “stans” agreed to add an impressive set of new members: India, Pakistan, and Iran.  The implications could be far-reaching. After all, India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now on the brink of its own version of Silk Road mania. Behind it lies the possibility of a “Chindia” economic rapprochement, which could change the Eurasian geopolitical map. At the same time, Iran is also being woven into the “Chindia” fold.

So the SCO is slowly but surely shaping up as the most important international organization in AsiaIt’s already clear that one of its key long-term objectives will be to stop trading in U.S. dollars, while advancing the use of the petroyuan and petroruble in the energy trade. The U.S., of course, will never be welcomed into the organization.

All of this lies in the future, however.  In the present, the Kremlin keeps signaling that it once again wants to start talking with Washington, while Beijing has never wanted to stop. Yet the Obama administration remains myopically embedded in its own version of a zero-sum game, relying on its technological and military might to maintain an advantageous position in EurasiaBeijing, however, has access to markets and loads of cash, while Moscow has loads of energy. Triangular cooperation between Washington, Beijing, and Moscow would undoubtedly be — as the Chinese would say — a win-win-win game, but don’t hold your breath.

Instead, expect China and Russia to deepen their strategic partnership, while pulling in other Eurasian regional powers. Beijing has bet the farm that the U.S./NATO confrontation with Russia over Ukraine will leave Vladimir Putin turning east. At the same time, Moscow is carefully calibrating what its ongoing reorientation toward such an economic powerhouse will mean. Someday, it’s possible that voices of sanity in Washington will be wondering aloud how the U.S. “lost” Russia to China.

In the meantime, think of China as a magnet for a new world order in a future Eurasian century.  The same integration process Russia is facing, for instance, seems increasingly to apply to India and other Eurasian nations, and possibly sooner or later to a neutral Germany as well. In the endgame of such a process, the U.S. might find itself progressively squeezed out of Eurasia, with the BMB emerging as a game-changer. Place your bets soon.  They’ll be called in by 2025.

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT, and a TomDispatch regular. His new book, Empire of Chaos, will be published in November by Nimble Books. Follow him on Facebook

Ready, Reset, Go! …to Cold War 2.0 – By Pepe Escobar

s_500_cdn_rt_com_0_eurasia-new-great-game-.si

An anti-goverment fighter holds his gun towards the Ukrainian army position at a checkpoint near the front line in the northern outskirts of city of Donetsk, on July 22, 2014 (image by (AFP Photo))

 

Ready, Reset, Go! …to Cold War 2.0
By Pepe Escobar
OpEdNews Op Eds 7/28/2014
Cross-posted from RT

Pepe Escobar

 

 

 

 

The New Great Game in Eurasia never ceases to thrill with extreme plot twists. The Big Three players remain the same: the US, Russia and China. The devil is in the concentric subplots.

In Washington, the deep state Russia “policy” has revealed itself to be sanctions, sanctions, sanctions; because of Crimea, because of support for federalists in Eastern Ukraine, because of the MH17 tragedy.

Sanctions are targeting Russia’s energy, defense and finance — and are fast on their way towards all-out economic war, which in itself is a declaration of war. As with Cuba; as with Iraq (until there was regime change); as with Iran (until there is a nuclear deal, and even that is a major “if”).

Beware the wrath of the Empire of Chaos. The prescription is always the same; sanctions; no holds barred geo-economic/political warfare; internal subversion (NED, assorted NGOs); and non-stop vitriol marinated in hubris.

In Moscow, there are no illusions; no matter what the Kremlin does on Ukraine, there won’t be any “reset.” Washington’s sanction hysteria — which has far surpassed the level of containment — is even regarded as a means towards (what else?) regime change, Putin’s huge popularity notwithstanding. No wonder US Think Tankland is drooling about it.

Roughly, in Russian spheres of power, an Atlanticist — neoliberal — school, appeasing the Empire of Chaos, is pitted against the Eurasianists, who strive to be respected in the US as equals. The Empire of Chaos, by default, does not accept equals; one just needs to consult the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine.

The best and the brightest in Russia well know you can’t win when the staggering financial muscle of the Empire of Chaos — even mired in decadence — and its vassals is deployed against you. But that does not mean Moscow will cringe and resign itself to being “isolated,” as a much weaker Iran fought against its “isolation” for years.

Moscow holds nearly $500 billion in currency reserves. That and domestic capital can be used to strengthen the ruble and back investments in Russian industry. The door is open to diversifying the Russian economy away from a commodity exporter towards post-modern manufacturing, and on the way release myriad business opportunities for Russian SMEs (small and medium enterprises).

Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a victim of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash to a military plane during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014 (image by (AFP Photo / Genya Savilov))

Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a victim of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash to a military plane during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014
(image by (AFP Photo / Genya Savilov))

 

And now for the EU chapter

Enter a fragile Europe. Russia is the EU’s third-largest trading partner. Top economies such as Germany, France and Italy are vastly integrated with the Russian economy.

A key plank of Washington’s strategy is to de-link Europe from Russia, part of a much larger agenda of preventing by all means Eurasia’s trade/commercial/economic development integration. It all hinges on Germany.

That’s the key debate in Berlin nowadays. German business — and even conservative politicians — are reaching a stark conclusion; they do not want a heavily dysfunctional relationship with Russia. Public opinion, at 57 percent, wants a foreign policy more independent from the US. The US Orwellian/Panopticon complex intrusions in Germany have been instrumental as a game-changer.

American pressure on the EU regarding the MH17 tragedy has been relentless. Moscow presented hard evidence to the EU. Washington did not — and they won’t, because they don’t have it, apart from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

While Moscow has been insisting from the start on an unbiased, independent and international investigation, Washington has been ordering the EU to “ignore” and “not comment” on Moscow’s hard evidence. Even as German intel confirmed the wobbly American intel was “manipulated.”

Yet it’s hard to underestimate a hugely divided EU’s capacity to shoot itself in the back. Take the EU’s proposed sanctions on Gazprom’s South Stream gas pipeline under the Black Sea, which will eventually supply 15 percent of Europe’s demand — as well as a package of sanctions targeting access to capital markets, defense, dual use goods and sensitive technology (see the leaked non paper here).

Gazprom’s top partners in South Stream are Italy’s ENI, France’s EDF, Austria’s OMV and Germany’s Wintershall, a subsidiary of BASF. South Stream’s construction depends heavily on European know-how.

If the full sanction list is eventually enforced by the EU (and that includes restricting Russian access to piping, drilling pipes, floating or submersible drilling platforms, and floating cranes) that would delay for a long time Pipelinistan projects as well as the development in Europe of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market. The EU needs South Stream much more than Russia — which can always sell more gas to Asia anyway.

(image by RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

(image by RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

BRICS over the wall

The real, no-holds-barred reason for the Empire of Chaos’s obsessive economic war on Russia is that Moscow, as a BRICS member, alongside especially China and Brazil, is at the leading edge of emerging powers challenging the global financial/political (dis)order — wallowing in the mire of casino capitalism — dictated by the Empire of Chaos.

And it gets “curiouser and curiouser,” because the effect of the sanctions hysteria has been to accumulate even more sympathy from the developing world towards Russia. The typical Washington rumbling about “the world” united to “isolate” Russia — in a replay of the Iran case — only applies to NATO.

I have closely followed the latest chapters in Eurasia integration, from the Russia-China gas “deal of the century” clinched in Shanghai to the St. Petersburg Economic Forum and then closer Eurasia-South America integration at the BRICS summit in Brazil, which created the New Development Bank and advanced the BRICS drive to develop their own parallel global institutions.

President Putin even proposed a BRICS energy coalition, complete with nuclear power agreements and its own “fuel reserve bank and an energy policy institute.” Moscow — as well as Beijing – is actively strengthening energy deals across South America, as in Rosatom signing with both Argentina and Brazil to build nuclear power plants.

Eurasia integration, on the Asian front, proceeds unabated. Russia will sell more gas at lower prices not only to China, but also, in the near future, to Japan and South Korea as well. Beijing, meanwhile, is carefully moving its financial, economic and geopolitical pieces on the chessboard, and now on full red alert regarding the sanctions hysteria; the collective leadership very well knows that the target one day may be Russia because of Ukraine, but the next day may be China, because of the South China Sea or even a Hong Kong currently moving towards an impasse; should candidates for Hong Kong chief executive be chosen by direct democracy, or by committee, as Beijing prefers?

The key point is, forget about a US-Russia reset. The Russia-China strategic partnership will strengthen. China is preparing itself for its turn in the sanction hysteria show. And for the foreseeable future, the new game in the chessboard is Cold War 2.0.

 

About Pepe Escobar:

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His regular column, “The Roving Eye,” is widely read. He is an analyst for the online news channel Real News, the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.  He argues that the world has become fragmented into “stans” — we are now living an intestinal war, an undeclared global civil war. He has published three books on geopolitics, including the spectacularly-titled “Globalistan: How the Globalised World Is Dissolving Into Liquid War”.

His latest book is “Obama Does Globalistan.”

 

Listen to the sound of the Global South

000_mvd6625821.si

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (R) makes a speach during the 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, on July 15, 2014. (AFP Photo / Yasuyoshi Chiba)

 

Listen to the sound of the Global South

By Pepe Escobar

Published by ASIAN TIMES

July 17, 2014 

Pepe Escobar

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.

 

 

The BRICS summit in northeast Brazil has already made history for one key reason; the creation of the New Development Bank.

Call it the Global South antidote to that structural adjustment racket, the IMF. Over and over again, BRICS member nations and others have insisted on an institutional IMF reform that would recognize the economic weight of the Global South. Reform packages have been languishing in the US Congress since 2010. And once again they were blocked last April.

The New Development Bank will be way more democratic than the US/EU-controlled IMF. Look at the funding; a flat $10 billion contribution by each member country. This means, sooner or later, that other developing nations will also join. I have called it casino capitalism versus a productive capitalism model.

The summit agenda was humongous; the BRICS discussed trade, sustainable development strategies, macroeconomic policy, energy, finance, terrorism, climate change, regional security, drug smuggling, transnational crime, the industrialization of Africa. The BRICS are already advancing a slew of strategic multilateral projects in terms of setting up an alternative network infrastructure; for instance, the BRICS cable, currently being laid from Vladivostok to Shantou, Chennai, Cape Town and Fortaleza (where the summit took place). The BRICS cable is all about IT security, technology transfer, commodity turnover – and facilitating financial operations. Crucially, the cable bypasses the US.

On the second day of the summit, the five BRICS leaders spent four and a half hours at a round table with leaders of Unasur, the Union of South American Nations. There they were – Argentina’s Kirchner, Chile’s Bachelet, Colombia’s Santos, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Ecuador’s Correa, Uruguay’s Pepe Mujica, Venezuela’s Maduro, Peru’s Umala, among others. That was the Global South in action; a substantial chunk of the real “international community” discussing production, investment, integration – not sanctions and bombs.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (L) talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin upon his arrival to the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, on July 15, 2014. (AFP Photo / Yasuyoshi Chiba)

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (L) talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin upon his arrival to the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, on July 15, 2014. (AFP Photo / Yasuyoshi Chiba)

They talked myriad possibilities of BRICS investment in infrastructure – and integration – projects all across Latin America. For instance, as Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested, the perennially dreamed railway from the Pacific Ocean in Peru to the Atlantic in Brazil. A trilateral Brazil-Peru-China working group was set to plan, design, build and operate the transcontinental rail.

Russia shared its experience on dealing with money laundering and transnational cross-border crime. On security, Russia and China shared the synergy between the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which binds Russia and China into a common security policy with Central Asia.

They talked about multiple strategies to bypass the Orwellian/Panopticon complex. And they talked about slowly implementing a multilateral, multipolar world.

From Brasilia to Brussels

In a nutshell, Putin and Xi played chess in Obama’s “backyard”, while the Yes We Can cipher was too busy playing with – what else – more sanctions.

Here is the common BRICS voice on sanctions; “We condemn unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognized norms of international relations. Bearing this in mind, we emphasize the unique importance of the indivisible nature of security, and that no State should strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others.”

As the BRICS and Unasur talked cooperation and integration in Brasilia, in Brussels, France, Germany and Italy were the key EU members who refused to follow Washington and impose “sectorial trade and economic sanctions” on Russia. Still, the divided EU could not but end up singing to His Master’s Voice (US sanctions do wonders to promote the Transatlantic Trade Partnership, the multibillion dollar “free” trade still resisted by many within the EU.)

Thus the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will block new projects in Russia, and the European Commission will also suspend most of the grants and loans it set aside for Russia.
The White House, of course, remains in a mean and vindictive class all by itself. So here are more sanctions on Rosneft, Gazprombank, Novatek, and state economic development bank VEB, plus a rash of others on eight state-owned defense firms, Russian government officials, an oil shipping facility in Crimea, and federalists in Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine. The proverbially anonymous “US officials” were on hand to pronounce these sanctions would “restrict” Russia’s access to “US debt markets.”

-

AFP Photo / Dmitry Kostyukov

Now compare it to the BRICS’s unified voice on Ukraine, pushing for “a comprehensive dialogue, the de-escalation of the conflict and restraint from all the actors involved, with a view to finding a peaceful political solution, in full compliance with the UN Charter.”

Alexei Pushkov, Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs, had pretty well defined, even before the summit, what the BRICS are for; “When it is said in the West that there is a kind of world community, which condemns us, they mean 28 NATO member states and the EU. However, this is not the world, but the West, the Euro-Atlantic community. And it is, with all its weight, not all of the world community, but only part of it.”

So not only this is the BRICS against the Washington consensus; it’s also the BRICS against the Western sanctions “model”. And the superimposed messages coming out from Fortaleza are crystal clear; the West’s monopoly on setting the global agenda is over.

Take also the BRICS’s unified voice on Israel/Palestine; they support “a contiguous and economically viable Palestinian State existing side by side in peace with Israel, within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders based on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital”. They also “oppose the continuous construction and expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by the Israeli Government, which violates international law, gravely undermines peace efforts and threatens the viability of the two-State solution.”

Israel, of course, is not listening. They’d rather go on with their slow motion ethnic cleansing of Gaza.

After all, former bouncer turned truculent Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Knesset, “the operation must end with the IDF controlling the entire Gaza strip.”

The BRICS, at the insistence of Russia and China, even introduced an updated draft treaty on the need to prevent the weaponization of outer space – as in Star Wars, an essential part of the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine. Guess who has always voted against it at the UN; Tel Aviv and Washington.

So the choice presented to the Global South is very simple, really. Pick your model; one is characterized by integration, cooperation, mutual respect. The other orders you to bow to His Master’s Voice; if you disobey, the model sanctions you to death, targets your energy industry, your access to financial markets, your wellbeing and, pushed to the limit, bombs you back to medieval times.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Comment:

Christian Noyer, Governor of the Bank of France and a member of the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, said that “Washington’s sanctions are driving companies and countries out of the dollar payments system”. The huge sum extorted from the French bank, BNP Paribas, for doing business with countries disapproved by Washington makes clear the increased legal risks that arise from using the dollar when Washington makes the rules”