Midnight in Damascus

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MIDNIGHT IN DAMASCUS

Imagine you are part of a hardcore, heavily weaponized Islamist outfit in Syria.

You would have had until noon this Friday to contact the US and/or Russia military and win a prize; be part of a “cessation of hostilities,” ersatz “ceasefire” that does not apply to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, as well as assorted remnants of the former Free Syrian Army (FSA) who are for all practical purposes embedded with al-Nusra.Compounding the drama, as background noise you have US Secretary of State John Kerry bluffing that Plan B is the partition of Syria anyway. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov once again had to call for order in the court.

So what do you do? You’re a Washington-approved “moderate rebel”. So you re-label yourself as FSA. Will you fool the task force set up by the US and Russia — hotline included — to monitor the “ceasefire”? Well, at least you’ve got a shot. The “ceasefire” mostly applies to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), unspecified “moderate rebels” and the Syrian Kurds. Everyone must de-weaponize by midnight this Friday.

If you’ve skipped the deadline, you may be in serious trouble. Because for the Russians, that qualifies you as an ally of Salafi-jihadis. You will be bombed to smithereens. And there’s nothing Uncle Sam can do to save you.

This positively Dadaist development is what passes for a road map to peace in Syria — even though odds are on Washington and Moscow will be seeing red on virtually every noon and cranny of it.

What this might spell out though goes way beyond Syria; it’s all about the White House, the Pentagon and NATO’s spectacular demise as exceptionalist arbiters and executioners — using Shock and Awe, R2P (responsibility to protect) or straight-up regime change — of geopolitical tangles.

Or is it?

Position of Syrian army at village of Salma and city of Zabadani
© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

A hefty case can be made whether the “ceasefire” benefits Damascus and Moscow — considering the “4+1” (Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah) has been heavily on the offense. The “ceasefire” may certainly benefit Washington if the hidden agenda — to re-weaponize gaggles of “moderate rebels” — still applies. After all Pentagon supremo Ash “Empire of Whining” Carter, Marine General Joseph Dunford and CIA Director John Brennan are terminal Russophobes who will never admit defeat.The vague terms of the “cessation of hostilities” do not explicity specify that Washington, London and other members of the US-led-from-behind “coalition” should stop bombing Syrian territory. And there’s nothing about suicide bombs and chemical weapons routinely used by any outfit, from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh to “moderate rebels”, against the civilian Syrian population.

So there’s got to be some heavy-duty horse-trading between Washington and Moscow behind all the shadowplay. And none of it has leaked, at least not yet.

Daddy Stole My Invasion

Meanwhile, the much-ballyhooed joint invasion of Syria by Turkey and Saudi Arabia is not going to happen because His Masters’ Voice vetoed it — as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was forced to explain. He essentially admitted that the invasion would need the agreement of all members of the US-led-from-behind coalition fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. Unfortunately, they are scared to death of being decimated by the Russian Air Force. So they might as well cozily revert to the “cessation of hostilities” charade.

On what really counts — the Syrian theatre of war — the most pressing issue is whether the SAA will finally be able to control Aleppo and environs, continue to rule in Latakia, and manage to configure Idlib as a Saudi remote-controlled Army of Conquest enclave cut off from almost all sides and depending solely on Ankara, which for its part won’t dare a face-to-face with the Russian Air Force.

It’s no wonder Turkey’s Sultan Erdogan fears this ceasefire business like the plague. Because he’s got nothing; at best a vague promise, extorted by Team Obama, that Syrian Kurds won’t keep advancing to smash either ISIS/ISIL/Daesh along the border, or pockets of al-Qaeda in Syria.In return, Ankara shall desist from its Syrian invasion and that dream of a 10 km “safe zone” inside Syrian territory to keep away the Kurds and facilitate the re-weaponizing of its Islamist proxies. Ankara’s favorite Jabhat al-Nusra, by the way, remains active north of Aleppo, and in the Turkmen regions of Latakia and Azaz (in the Turkish-Syrian border).

What Team Obama seems to have finally understood — and “seems” is the operative word — is that neither ISIS/ISIL/Daesh nor al-Nusra could ever “unify” Syria; assuming 60% of Syria’s population is Sunni, what matters is that over half are secular and do support Damascus against all those Turk/Saudi-supported Salafi-jihadi crazies.

Will this all be enough to assure the success of the “cessation of hostilities” charade? Hardly. Keep calm and carry on (watching). Plan B remains Return of the Living Dead material.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do notnecessarily reflect the official position of UNRULY HEARTS.

 

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Tags:
cessation of hostilities, forecast, military, ceasefire, Daesh, United States, Damascus, Russia, Syria

Arms, Conflict, Corruption, Hillary Clinton, Law, Middle East, Military, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scandal, Security, USA

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

As the Obama administration increased military weapons exports, Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved transfer of more than $300 billion worth of arms manufactured by US defense contractors to 20 nations that were or have since become donors of the Clinton Foundation, a major philanthropic organization run by the Clinton family. According to a review of available records of foundation donors by the International Business Times, those countries included governments that have received frequent criticism by the State Department for repressive policies.

“Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents,” IBT wrote.

‘Clinton is epitome of financial corruption’ – David Swanson

David Swanson is an author and long time political activist who is so passionate about restoring the constitutional role of the President that he actually wrote an entire book on it, “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union” and leads to this day the campaign to impeach Bush and Cheney. Mr. Swanson is not just unhappy with bad Republican behavior in the White House and we will get his views on Hillary Clinton’s decision to run for the presidency.

Algeria, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar were nations that directly donated to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s term as secretary of state, even as they were requesting weapons shipments. The donated money represents a loophole in US law regarding political contributions.

“Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions — a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy,” IBT noted. “But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.”

The reviewed sales — both commercial and Pentagon-brokered — represent those made during “three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as secretary of state (from October 2010 to September 2012),” IBT reported. The deals made with the nations in question during this time add up to far more than arms agreements made with the same countries during the last three full fiscal years of George W. Bush’s administration, according to the report.

“The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation,” Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, told IBT. “This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these nonprofits is problematic.”

The Clinton Foundation’s donor list has come under closer examination since Hillary Clinton announced she is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. In April, the Clintons acknowledged they have made “mistakes” regarding transparency amid increased public scrutiny concerning donations from foreign entities, especially when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, from 2009 to 2013.

Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton defended his family foundation’s donors.

“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Mr. Clinton told NBC News.

The Clinton Foundation signed a foreign donor disclosure agreement just before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, yet neither the department nor the White House raised issues with potential conflicts of interest regarding the weapons agreements.

IBT reported that in 1995 President Clinton signed a presidential policy directive demanding the State Department take into account human rights abuses when considering the approval of military equipment or arms purchases from US companies. Yet Mrs Clinton’s State Department ignored this stipulation, helping the Obama administration increase weapons transfers.

The State Department, under the aegis of Clinton, hammered the Algerian government in its 2010 Human Rights Report for “restrictions on freedom of assembly and association,” allowing “arbitrary killing,” “widespread corruption,” and a “lack of judicial independence.”

“That year, the Algerian government donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation and its lobbyists met with the State Department officials who oversee enforcement of human rights policies. Clinton’s State Department the next year approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country,” IBT reported. “The increase included authorizations of almost 50,000 items classified as ‘toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment’ after the State Department did not authorize the export of any of such items to Algeria in the prior year.

“During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department authorized at least $2.4 billion of direct military hardware and services sales to Algeria — nearly triple such authorizations over the last full fiscal years during the Bush administration. The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria’s donation until this year — a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration.”

IBT also reported that major US weapons manufacturers and financial corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton lucrative speaking fees “reaching $625,000” just as arms deals they had an interest in were in the works with Mrs Clinton’s State Department.

Read more
Hillary Clinton: What to know about her recent controversies, scandals

Hillary Clinton had pledged during her Senate confirmation hearings in 2009 that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the Foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”

US weapons sales tripled in 2011 to a new yearly high of $66.3 billion, according to the New York Times, mostly driven by sales to Persian Gulf nations allied against Iran. This dollar total made up nearly 78 percent of all worldwide arms deals that year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Reuters reported in January 2013 that the State Department office that has oversight of direct commercial arms sales “was on track to receive more than 85,000 license requests in 2012, a new record.”

The boom in arms sales by the Obama administration has continued to the present day, as Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are using American-made fighter jets against Islamic State and for proxy wars in places like Yemen and Syria.

According to the Times, foreign weapons sales now represent 25 percent to 30 percent of revenue taken in by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US-based arms dealers.

​Clinton Foundation admits ‘mistakes’ amid concerns of foreign donors 20

Crowd of Several Hundred Tries to Storm Ukrainian Presidential Administration Office

 

In-depth Report:

Ukraine-anniversary-Maidan-coup-4-400x270A crowd of several hundred people has begun storming the Ukrainian presidential administration’s office, a TASS correspondent reports from the scene.

Protest demonstrators have penetrated the first cordon of the National Guards and are trying to make their way to the conference hall. Police forces are being moved in. National guards in full riot gear entered a brawl with the demonstrators, who are demanding access to TV cameras for a statement.

Earlier, demonstrators demanded the introduction of martial law and resignation of all top law enforcement officials, including the defense minister and prosecutor-general.

Also, one of their demands is the removal of the 25th Kievan Rus battalion of the Ukrainian armed forces from the area of Debaltsevo. Women from the Mothers’ Union have told TASS their sons could not have been contacted for the past several days.

Breaking news US closes Bagram detention center in Afghanistan

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Released Afghan prisoners raise their hands in prayer as the United States-led military released 20 Afghan prisoners from its Bagram Air Field detention centre, north of Kabul (AFP Photo / Farzana Wahidy)

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Released Afghan prisoners raise their hands in prayer as the United States-led military released 20 Afghan prisoners from its Bagram Air Field detention centre, north of Kabul (AFP Photo / Farzana Wahidy)

RT Breaking News

The US Defense Department announced it has closed the Bagram detention center and now has zero detainees in its custody in Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

Although the United States transferred control over Bagram to the Afghans back in 2013, the detention center became infamous due the harsh treatment some of the detainees received while in American custody. At one point, it was double the size of the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison complex in Cuba.

The facility’s closure comes just one day after the Senate released its long-awaited torture report, which described the gruesome tactics deployed by the CIA against terror suspects in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

READ MORE: Senate accuses CIA of torturing prisoners, overstepping legal boundaries

Two of the most infamous cases involved prisoners named Habibullah and Dilawar, whose abuse was chronicled by The New York Times in 2005. Dilawar – who was chained to the top of his cell for days by the time he died – was brutally beaten and passed away in 2002.

“At the interrogators’ behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend,” wrote Tim Golden in the Times.

“An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.”

Habibullah, who died just a few days before Dilawar, was also chained to the ceiling and beaten. The Times noted that he was struck more than 100 times in a 24-hour period.

READ MORE: ‘The Other Guantanamo’ – Indefinite detention at Bagram Air Force Base

As recently as this past September, there were still questions about the fate of the detainees being held at Bagram. It was unclear how many people remained in American custody, but with the US gradually drawing down its war in Afghanistan, officials said the legal authority allowing them to continue holding prisoners was about to expire.

“We’ve got to resolve their fate by either returning them to their home country or turning them over to the Afghans for prosecution or any other number of ways that the Department of Defense has to resolve,” said Brigadier General Patrick Reinert, the commanding general of the United States Army Reserve Legal Command, at the time. “Until the country provides assurances, the individual cannot be transferred.”

US Torture Report & the Release of Detainees from GITMO – What it Means for the Future of US Terror Policy

Tonight’s “Everything You Need to Know” panel discusses the release of six Guantanamo Bay detainees, and what implications the US Terror Report will have on GITMO and terrorism combat tactics. Alka Pradhan of Reprieve US, CODEPINK’s Media Benjamin, and retired colonel, Ann Wright, debate the issue.
Author William Black talks about falling global oil prices that are impacting on economies worldwide. Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves examines religion and equal rights. Plus our “Your Take My Take” on geeky science.

‘Washington, the Hollywood of politics’: story behind Hagel’s exit

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel after the president announced Hagel's resignation at the White House in Washington, November 24, 2014 (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel after the president announced Hagel’s resignation at the White House in Washington, November 24, 2014 (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

RT NEWS

Regardless who is the US Secretary of Defense, there will always be Washington’s basic policy strategy around the desire to control the whole map and use the military to shape the entire world, anti-war activist Eugene Puryear, told RT.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) listens to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel after the president announced Hagel's resignation at the White House in Washington, November 24, 2014 (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) listens to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel after the president announced Hagel’s resignation at the White House in Washington, November 24, 2014 (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

RT: You’ve seen this machine at work from the inside. What do you think is behind Chuck Hagel’s resignation?

Matthew Hoh:I think, of course, there is much more to this story than simply “Chuck Hagel no longer worked well with the administration.” I think you could tell by how quickly and how viciously the White House anonymously attacked Chuck Hagel as soon he announced his resignation. There were a lot of personal attacks against Hagel: he didn’t have leadership, he couldn’t do the job, he wasn’t up to the task, and I think any time you see the administration or the White House so quickly denouncing somebody, you know automatically there is another story to this. And what I believe to be case is that Chuck Hagel does not agree with the Obama Administration involving American troops in the middle of the Iraqi and the Syrian civil wars. And he is in disagreement with the American re-escalation of the war in Afghanistan that was just announced this past weekend.

RT: Judging by yesterday’s warm hugs between Obama and Hagel, the personal relationship between the two is quite friendly. How sincere were those smiles and handshakes?

MH: It’s Washington DC; it’s the Hollywood of politics. So, absolutely. I think may be in earlier time it could be described there is how cordial relations were among politicians, among elected leaders, among our senior people. But now it’s just as you described – it was a show.

RT: Recently Chuck Hagel became quite critical of the administration’s policy in Syria and Iraq. Do you think this made him an outcast in the White House?

MH: I think for the administration not to expect Secretary Hagel to be vocal or to speak up would have been be a very big mistake for them in their understanding of Secretary Chuck Hagel. Chuck Hagel earned the national reputation in the United States about 10 years ago or so for going against the Iraqi war. Chuck Hagel is a republican and member of President George Bush’s party and he very famously went against the Iraq war. So for the Obama Administration to have thought that Chuck Hagel was pliable, someone who was just going to go along with whatever decision they made and not to offer disagreements whether in private or in public, I think that was a huge mistake on their part. And so I think as I said as the story unfolds and as we get more perspectives on it, we’ll see the level of disagreement that was within the administration, within Obama’s Cabinet between Secretary Hagel and more hawkish members.

RT: Chuck Hagel is known for his anti-militaristic approach to U.S. foreign policy. Now that he’s going does it mean the Pentagon will become more aggressive?

MH: I think, unfortunately, the administration has bowed to pressure from both within the administration, from those in the administration who are beholding to a pro-intervention or a “military-first” policy as well as to very hawkish or warmongering senators on Capitol Hill. So I think the Obama Administration has made a commitment to expand America’s role in the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars. I think that is a cycle that will only worsen and deepen. Case in point – Afghanistan – where the United States escalated the war in 2009.Five years later, there is no end in sight for the war, the Afghan people continue to suffer, the government remains incredibly corrupt, the Taliban are stronger and the drug trade is the only industry in the country. I think what’s happening with American re-escalation of the war – sending American troops back into combat – is that President Obama is bowing to pressure, feeling stoned by abusing criticism that he is not tough enough. He is recommitting American troops to the war in Afghanistan, so that he cannot be criticized for ending the war prematurely. [But] they have been there for 13 years and that war, according to polls it has an 83 percent unfavorability rating in the United States, and is most unpopular war in American history, even more unpopular than the wars in Iraq or Vietnam.

General Dempsy

General Dempsy – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey (Reuters / Larry Downing)

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey (Reuters / Larry Downing)

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

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.
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How Russia and Germany may save Europe from war – By Pepe Escobar

 

Are the US, NATO and Russia on a mad spiral leading to war in Europe? Is it inevitable? Far from it. The US-propelled vassal Petro Poroshenko, currently starring in the oligarch dance in Ukraine this week advanced the proposition that Ukrainians in the near future, after his “reforms”, will be asked to vote on whether to join NATO. Let’s be serious here. Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “shatter belt” - territories and peoples that historically have been squeezed between the Germanic Eagle and the Russian Bear. As we stand, the whole shatter belt – apart from Ukraine and Belarus – has become NATO members. Were Ukraine to become a NATO member in – albeit remote – future, the shatter belt buffer zone would disappear. This means NATO – essentially the US – planted right on Russia’s western border. Washington has just announced that it will be pre-positioning more military vehicles in Europe, to be used in exercises or “potential military operations.” This is perfectly in tune with the relentless US “think tank-land” spin that NATO and the US will be “forced” to balance their commitment to security in Eastern Europe against potential Russian “aggression.” As Ukraine, the Baltic States and Poland persist in compounded hysteria about such “aggression,” the option of a post-MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) US-Russia nuclear war is now – casually - back on the discussion table. At least there’s a countercurrent; strands of informed Americans are wondering why the US should be paying for Europe’s defense when European GDP is larger than the US’s.

The air defense missile system “Patriot” (AFP Photo/Bernd Wustneck/Germany Out)

 

November 28, 2014

Are the US, NATO and Russia on a mad spiral leading to war in Europe? Is it inevitable? Far from it.

The US-propelled vassal Petro Poroshenko, currently starring in the oligarch dance in Ukraine this week advanced the proposition that Ukrainians in the near future, after his “reforms”, will be asked to vote on whether to join NATO.
Let’s be serious here. Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “shatter belt” – territories and peoples that historically have been squeezed between the Germanic Eagle and the Russian Bear.
As we stand, the whole shatter belt – apart from Ukraine and Belarus – has become NATO members. Were Ukraine to become a NATO member in – albeit remote – future, the shatter belt buffer zone would disappear. This means NATO – essentially the US – planted right on Russia’s western border.
Washington has just announced that it will be pre-positioning more military vehicles in Europe, to be used in exercises or “potential military operations.” This is perfectly in tune with the relentless US “think tank-land” spin that NATO and the US will be “forced” to balance their commitment to security in Eastern Europe against potential Russian “aggression.”
As Ukraine, the Baltic States and Poland persist in compounded hysteria about such “aggression,” the option of a post-MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) US-Russia nuclear war is now – casually – back on the discussion table. At least there’s a countercurrent; strands of informed Americans are wondering why the US should be paying for Europe’s defense when European GDP is larger than the US’s.

Iskander high-precision missile system in place during military exercises. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

Iskander high-precision missile system in place during military exercises. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

 Wanna play war, boy?

Now for the “threat” of nuclear war in Europe – bogus or otherwise. It’s pointless to compare the US and Russia strategic nuclear capabilities based on numbers, but not on quality.

Take the compounded GDP of US, Germany, France and England and compare it to Russia; it’s a victory by a landslide. Then examine the strategic nuclear scenario, and it’s a totally different story. GDP alone does not “win” anything.

Washington/Wall Street elites are now deep into nuclear war paranoia. A few studiesat least hint at the obvious; glaring US strategic weakness.

Consider some of the basics:

– Russian ICBMs armed with MIRVs travel at about 18 Mach; that is way faster than anything in the US arsenal. And basically they are unbeatable.

– The S-400 and S-500 double trouble; Moscow has agreed to sell the S-400 surface-to-air missile system to China; the bottom line is this will make Beijing impermeable to US air power, ICBMs and cruise missiles. Russia, for its part, is already focusing on the state of the art S-500 – which essentially makes the Patriot anti-missile system look like a V-2 from WWII.

– The Russian Iskander missile travels at Mach 7 – with a range of 400km, carrying a 700kg warhead of several varieties, and with a circular error probability of around five meters. Translation: an ultimate lethal weapon against airfields or logistic infrastructure. The Iskander can reach targets deep inside Europe.

– And then there’s the Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA.

NATO clowns dreaming of a war on Russia would have to come up with an ironclad system to knock out these Iskanders. They don’t have any. Additionally, they would have to face the S-400s, which the Russians can deploy all over the spectrum.

Think of a hefty batch of S-400s positioned at the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad; that would turn NATO air operations deep inside Europe into an absolutely horrendous nightmare. On top of it, good ol’ NATO fighter jets cost a fortune. Imagine the effect of hundreds of destroyed fighter jets on an EU already financially devastated and austerity-plagued to death.

As if this was not enough, no one knows the exact extent of NATO’s strategic capabilities. Brussels is not talking. Extra-officially, these capabilities are not exactly a marvel. And Russian intelligence knows it.

Still assuming those NATO clowns would insist on playing war, Moscow has already made it very clear Russia would use their awesome arsenal of 5,000-plus tactical nuclear weapons – and whatever else it takes – to defend the nation against a NATO conventional attack. Moreover, a few thousand S-400 and S-500 systems are enough to block a US nuclear attack.

None of this hair-raising Apocalypse Now scenario is even taking into account the Russia-China alliance – the major, game-changing Eurasian story of the 2010s.

 

S 400 "Triumf" air defense missile systems (RIA Novosti/Alexey Kudenko)

S 400 “Triumf” air defense missile systems (RIA Novosti/Alexey Kudenko)

 

Just in case the “pivoting to Asia” gang starts harboring funny ideas about the Middle Kingdom as well, China is massively investing in bouncing lasers off satellites; satellite-hitting missiles; silent submarines that surface beside US aircraft carriers without detection; and a made in China anti-missile missile that can hit a reentering satellite moving faster than any ICBM.

In a nutshell; Beijing knows the US surface fleet is obsolete – and undefendable. And needless to add, all of these Chinese modernizing developments are proceeding way faster than anything in the US.

A modest proposal

The spin in the US has been relentless; Russia is expanding towards a 21st century empire.

Here, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explains in detail how this is undiluted rubbish. What has actually happened is that Moscow deftly called the Brzezinski-inspired bluff in Ukraine – with all its overtones. No wonder the Empire of Chaos is furious.

And yet there is a solution to defuse the current, hysterical rush to war logic. Here I have examined in some detail how Washington is playing Russian roulette. Now it’s time to advance a modest proposal – as it has been discussed by a few concerned analysts from the US, Europe and Asia.

Essentially, it’s very simple. It’s up to Germany. And it’s all about undoing Stalin.

Stalin, at the outset of WWII, took East Prussia from Germany and moved the eastern part of Poland into Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine was originally from Russia; it is part of Russia and was given by Lenin to Ukraine.

So let’s have East Prussia returned to Germany; the eastern part of Poland returned to Poland; and eastern Ukraine as well as Crimea – which Khrushchev gave to Ukraine – returned to Russia.

Everyone get its share. No more Stalin. No more arbitrary borders. That’s what the Chinese would define as a “triple win” situation. Of course the Empire of Chaos would fight it to death; there would be no more chaos manipulated to justify a crusade against bogus Russian “aggression”.

The ball is in Germany’s court. Now it’s up to East Prussians to present the facts to Angela Merkel. Let’s see if she’s able to get the message.

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