Whether the neo cons infesting the US administration successfully subvert this potential for a new paradigm which would be unstoppable under a Russia-China-India-USA alliance, or not remains an open question, but Trump’s firing of Bolton will hopefully represent a new purge of war mongering sociopaths while opening the door to a new foreign policy doctrine.
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Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past few years, you should know that the world is currently being pulled by two opposing paradigms.
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Do we live in a world of scarcity and limits? Or do we live in a world of creative potential? Is humanity a closed system or an open system? Is the universe moving towards a heat death, or is it animated by a living principle of creative reason?
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The Revival of Space Exploration in the 21st Century - Fort Russ
Do we live in a world of scarcity and limits? Or do we live in a world of creative potential? Is humanity a closed system or an open system? These questions have animated the thinking of scientists and philosophers for thousands of years and strikes at the very heart of the nature of humanity and th
Those American military officials promoting the obsolete doctrine of Full Spectrum dominance are dancing to the tune of a song that stopped playing some time ago. Both Russia and China have changed the rules of the game on a multitude of levels, and can respond with fatal force to any attack upon their soil with next generation weaponry beyond the scope of anything imagined by ivory tower game theorists in the west.
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Over the past three years, over 17 Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) nations have signed onto the new operating framework of the Belt and Road Initiative which extends far beyond the limited China-to-Europe corridor which many presumed it to be when it was announced in 2013.
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Over the past several years Latin America has become a strategic battleground which involves much more than merely “geopolitical power plays” between the USA vs China as many commentators are asserting. Of course this is not to say that there are no geopolitical battles occurring. The entire western sponsored regime change operation in Venezuela couldn’t be understood unless one realized that China and Russia see Venezuela as a strategic ally in the Americas and a future zone for Belt and Road projects which are sweeping across the world… but something more is happening.
Over the past three years, over 17 Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) nations have signed onto the new operating framework of the Belt and Road Initiative which extends far beyond the limited China-to-Europe corridor which many presumed it to be when it was announced in 2013. With its focus on long term planning and interconnectivity, China is already number one in vital infrastructure investments globally and while not number one in overall trade in the Americas, has now produced over six times more investment into Latin American energy infrastructure than the World Bank.
This new paradigm has been a breath of fresh air for many nations of the south that have been gripped by Western drug money laundering, poverty, debt slavery and organized crime which has been kept in place by over four decades of IMF-World Bank dictates enforced by London/Harvard trained economists positioned as local governors over the bodies of nationalist leaders.
In spite of the 17 nations on board the BRI, the big four powers (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia) have not yet joined, which has been a frustrating obstacle for the greater vision of integrated infrastructure to blossom. However, in the past few weeks, even this has begun to change.
Colombia and the BRI
At a July 29-31 state visit to Beijing, Colombia’s President Iván Duque embraced a long term perspective with China (though not fully joining the BRI) when he spoke to 200 Chinese businessmen saying that China could help “transform Colombia into a food basket for the world” and that Colombia should be China’s “golden gate” into South America. He invited China to help with projects to develop infrastructure, education and science calling for “a Colombia-China initiative for the next 40 years”.
The specific program to transform Colombia was outlined by Duque as a “productive corridor” connecting the Eastern High Plains with the Pacific Port of Buenaventura through transportation corridors across the Andes, and a Sea Motorway 2 connecting the Gulf of Uraba in the Caribbean and several oil fields. While only 8 million hectares of agricultural land are currently used, Colombia’s full potential of 24 hectares will become developed once this initiative is built.
On the BRI itself, Duque said that it should be “the conceptual umbrella for this project to materialize”.
As the infamous 1999 photograph of the President of the NYSC embracing Raul Reyes (FARC narco-terrorist leader) demonstrates, Wall Street and London financiers have literally kept Colombia under the clutches of narco-traffickers for decades, resulting in a culture of organized crime, terrorism, and impoverishment that only the BRI can solve. In the 21st century over two million Colombians have no access to electricity. With Colombia’s involvement in the BRI, every Andean nation in South America would be on board.
A Sea Change for Argentina
Since Mauricio Macri’s December 2015 victory, Argentina took a slide into insanity. At one time representing a powerful force of opposition to the international financiers and vulture funds under the Peronist government of the late Nestor Kirchner and his wife Christina, Argentina under Macri has once again become a bankers’ fiefdom which brought the nation slavishly back under the whip of the financial oligarchy. Under Macri, austerity became the new norm and payment of debts the new priority for Argentina, while the vast majority of large scale infrastructure projects begun by President Kirchner were cancelled or postponed.
Somehow Macri was surprised that his monetarist strategies failed to win him the love of the people as unemployment continued to rise, and inflation topped 55% with no hope in sight.
The effects of the population’s suffering under the IMF’s monetarist diktats resulted in a surprise August 12 pre-election vote which gave Macri’s opponent Alberto Fernandez 47% of the votes (compared to a mere 33% for sitting President). Although this was only a pre-election vote, Fernandez demonstrated that he will likely become the President in the November elections. What is also notable is that Fernandez (a former Chief of Staff to Nestor Kirchner) is partnered on the Front for All ticket with his Vice-Presidential running mate Christina Fernandez de Kirchner herself. Fernandez and Kirchner promise to re-organize the unpayable IMF debts and end the age of austerity. Of course, speculators showed their disapproval of this return to a national power by collapsing the Argentina peso by 15% on August 13 and threatening more punishment if the “populist Peronists” are elected.
With Kirchner’s immanent return to power, many presume that the burgeoning golden age of China-Russian relations will blossom once more. Under Kirchner’s leadership a powerful “Argentina-China Integral Strategic Alliance” was formed along with 20 major treaties between the nations.
Some of the projects begun under Kirchner which Macri wasn’t able to kill involve the $4.1 billion Patagonia Hydroelectric project where two dams are being built on the Santa Cruz River, and also the $8 billion plan to build two nuclear power plants (one Canadian CANDU and one Chinese design). The dam represents the first hydro project built in over a quarter century and even thought Argentina was the first Latin American country to go nuclear with the Atucha I plant in 1974, very little was permitted since then.
Neo-Liberal Fractures in Brazil
While the current right wing regime under Jair Bolsonaro has turned away from a friendly relationship with China on orders from Washington, Chinese-sponsored projects begun under Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff were not so easy to kill with Brazil still receiving the second highest investment of Chinese capital amounting to $54 billion. Some BRI-related projects underway currently involve the Ultra High Voltage electricity transport system under construction since 2011 by China’s State Grid subsidiary in Brazil. This incredible project also known as the Electricity Superhighway carries high voltage electricity with very little loss of power over 2000 km from the northern Belo Monte Dam to the impoverished and populated southeast providing cheap electricity to 22 million people.
In agriculture, China imported 50 million tons of soybeans (80% of Brazil’s soy exports) and 560 tons of beef (40% of total) in 2018, and this is only expected to rise.
The New Development Ban is also setting up operations in Brazil and will begin emitting funds outside of the control of the IMF/World Bank shortly and Brazil’s hosting of the 11th BRICS Summit on November 13 is sure to dovetail with Chinese and Russian investment strategies in the South. Under a re-organized financial system, such new institutions as the New Development Bank, the Silk Road Investment Fund, Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank would take on leading roles in providing long term productive credit for projects globally.
When responding to Bolsonaro’s attacks on Kirchner and Fernandez of Argentina, Fernandez responded saying “with Brazil, we are going to get on splendidly. Brazil will always be our main partner. Bolsonaro is a passing phase in the life of Brazil- just as Macri is a passing phase in the life of Argentina”.
A Word on Mexico
Mexico gained a huge victory with the election of nationalist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in 2017 who has fought for a Mexico/Central America Development Plan since his election as an alternative to the current IMF/World Bank paradigm. This plan which is very much in harmony with the Belt and Road model involves southern Mexico and the “northern triangle” of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras which would see the construction of a cross Isthmus and North-South railroad system and ports along with a new electricity grid and agro industrial developments for all four nations.
Although AMLO’s impulses favor joining the BRI, immense pressure has withheld this leap from occurring to this point.
Green Depopulation or a New Growth Paradigm
After Panama became the first Latin American nation to join the BRI in 2017, Uruguay followed suite, and was quickly joined by Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, El Salvador, Chile, and Costa Rica. Caribbean nations on board involve Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic and Antigua-Barbuda.
Western assets embedded in the LAC political structures are not only easy to identify due to their rejection of the BRI and embrace of Wall Street, but also for their blatant support of “green” energy strategies which seek to shut down carbon emitting oil, coal and even nuclear power. An example of this hive was made evident by coalition of former energy secretaries of Argentina that wrote a memo calling for a scrapping of nuclear in preference to a total wind/solar strategy in obedience to the oligarchs that wrote COP21 and the Green New Deal. For any thinking citizen, this is merely another name for depopulation.
Accurately capturing the principle of what is happening across South America and the world as a whole, Costa Rica’s ambassador to China recently said that China is “creating a new paradigm for development which may be as important perhaps as the Bretton Woods was after World War II” and that China is “calling upon the whole world to design together what the New Paradigm is going to be”.
Of course, the vast web of NGOs permeating the geopolitical terrain can only be effective as long as no one says the truth and “names the game”. The very act of calling out their nefarious motives renders them impotent and this simple fact has made the recently announced China-Russia arrangement to formulate a proper strategic response to color revolutions so important in the current fight.
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Attacking the “mindless forces of the market” and vested power structures of capitalism are not bad things to do… but why must we de-carbonize? Re-regulating the too-big-to-fail banks is long overdue, but why do so many assume that a “Green New Deal” won’t just empower those same forces that have run havoc upon the world for the past half century and just cause more death and starvation than has already been suffered under Globalization?
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In reviewing some history, you might be shocked to discover that the Belt and Road Initiative is more American than the America which the world has come to know over the past 50 years.
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Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has been nothing less than a breath of fresh air in a world grown stale with the status quo of geopolitics. Like Trump, Brexit, Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine, Matteo Salvini in Italy and even AMLO in Mexico, Khan represents the desire of people to live in a vastly different world than the one erected by the transnational oligarchy I like to call The Davos Crowd.
So I looked forward to Khan’s first meeting with Trump at the White House. Pakistan’s relationship with the US looks strained on the surface as Trump cut off aid packages to Pakistan at a time when the country’s finances have been, to say the least, challenging.
Khan is in a incredibly difficult position, trying to legitimize the civilian government while reining in the de facto military one. I don’t pretend to understand all the ins and outs but it should be obvious that Khan is facing the same kind of ‘deep state’ pushback that Trump, Salvini and others like him are experiencing.
Pakistan is the lynchpin on which China’s Belt and Road Initiative rests. China has pumped more than $60 billion into Pakistan through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. That money has itself become a political football Khan has had to deal with.
At the same time, the US is still obsessed with keeping central Asia chaotic and unsettled.
Those forces within both the US and British Deep States have worked hard to sabotage any gains made by Khan to navigate the roiling waters around him. They cling to the more than 150 year-old view of disrupting central Asia, what Halford Makinder called “The Heartland,” as the key to maintaining supremacy over China and Russia.
Preventing rapprochement between India and Pakistan was the point behind the terrorist attack back in February which nearly set the two countries to war, as Khan made a strong first impression at ending the forever war between the two countries.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a committed neoliberal if there ever was one, took full advantage of the attack to ensure his re-election in May.
And since then he has gone out of his way to virtue signal how upset he is with Khan over not getting control over ‘terrorism’ in Pakistan. No invitation to his inauguration, snubbing him at the recent SCO conference. Modi knows full well the challenges Khan is facing and his behavior has been nothing short of abominable these past few months.
But he also knows that the Afghanistan peace process is proceeding without India’s input. And both sides of the conflict have been elevating Pakistan to get what they want. While India has fumed and stamped its feet over both BRI and Afghan talks the world has moved on without it.
Trump is moving forward with some form of end to the Afghan war. He needs this for political purposes. It won’t be a full withdrawal, not with the people surrounding him in place.
India is wedded to the Ghani government, barely hanging on in Kabul by the grace of US support, and keeps making investments outside of BRI, namely the port at Chabahar in Iran, and railways to Afghanistan, to spite the Chinese, who they are still angry with over the Tibetan border.
And India’s pride has ultimately isolated them because they are not central to solving Afghanistan like Pakistan is.
Talks with the moderate Taliban leaders began in December 2016 when China, Russia and Iran elevated Pakistan to lead the talks, knowing full well that for any lasting peace between the two countries, Pakistan would have to be a primary negotiator. This has kept India on the sidelines, hoping the US would support them in talks.
But it hasn’t worked out that way at all under Trump. If anything Trump has been dismissive of India, relegating their concerns to the back burner. Russia, China, the US and Pakistan have all agreed, in principle, to a path forward towards de-escalating the situation in Afghanistan.
This is why it was important for Khan to come to Washington D.C. now while Trump is mad at Modi for buying Russian S-400 missile defense systems and giving Khan a stage.
And, to Khan’s credit, he did just that.
Going on Fox News and making the public offer to give up Pakistan’s nuclear weapons if India would was a masterstroke of diplomacy. Will anything come of it? Not directly. India isn’t giving up its nukes because Imran Khan asked nicely.
Will the war hawks in Washington decry Trump for meeting with Khan and talking peace? Yes.
In fact, to over-shadow Khan’s offer the media, both US and Russian sadly, has focused on Trump’s tweets about ending the war in Afghanistan (10 million dead) and India denying there was an offer to mediate on Kashmir.
Lost in all of that was Khan, again playing it very smart, saying he made the offer to Trump back in February to mediate a settlement on Kashmir.
“Nuclear war is not an option between Pakistan and India. The idea of nuclear war is actually self-destruction,” he replied.
Speaking on the recent tensions between the two South Asian neighbors in February, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had asked President Trump to play his role and mediate between the two countries.
“The US is the most powerful country in the world, the only country which could mediate between Pakistan and India and resolve the only issue which is Kashmir. The only reason for 70 years we have not been able to live like civilized neighbours is Kashmir,” Prime Minister Imran Khan told Fox News.
“I really feel that India should come on the table, US could play a big part, and President Trump can certainly play a big part. We are talking about 1.3 billion people on this earth. Imagine the dividends of peace if somehow that issue could be resolved,” he added.
And the answer from Modi was to deny there was ever an offer of such mediation and Trump had to back down as the State Department went into spin control mode. Modi, of course, has to say that, even though it’s clear that the subject has come up.
But Khan has been consistent in his working towards peace in the region since his election.
It’s all ridiculous and sad, as it is becoming clearer by the day that the forces of the status quo and war are working over-time to erect phantom barriers to peace through perceived slights and political chicanery.
Modi is still playing up the terrorism angle and hard-liners in India prevent him from moving forward with any real diplomacy outside of the SCO, of which both India and Pakistan are full members. No one in the West is happy about this arrangement and it’s clear to me the terror attacks in February were meant to split either Pakistan or India from the SCO and set things aright in The Heartland.
So if Modi continues to act like an inconsolably aggrieved party that may be your signal that we’re no closer to regional peace than we’ve been. But it hasn’t been for a lack of trying by all the major players.
In the end, it all comes down to Trump and his parallel position within the US government to Khan’s in Pakistan’s. Does he have the clout and the will to achieve his goals of ending the war in Afghanistan while effecting a tactical retreat from the Heartland?
I don’t know, but it’s beginning to look like that is his plan. So much has changed since the G-20 and the meetings in Doha and Beijing since then concerning Afghanistan, that it is possible to entertain this hope.
Trump has little control over the forces unleashed in his maximum pressure campaign on Iran. His presidency represents a threat to a very old policy that transcends governments and political systems.
Like with North Korea he is doing what he can to signal to his ‘partners,’ as Russian President Vladimir Putin would put it, that he won’t make things worse in Pakistan and Afghanistan while they work out the details and through his inaction force players like Modi to accede to reality.
Trump needs a way to save face after doubling down in Afghanistan at the behest of the war hawks in 2017. Khan can give him that, publicly. It may be Russia, China and Iran doing the heavy lifting but it’s Khan and Pakistan that can be the politically palatable face on it.
With Italy’s recent joining in the new BRI alliance, and the announcement of a Russia-China-European joint lunar base to be built in the coming decades, a potential for a new global renaissance is now emerging. This new potential for a renaissance is premised upon the awakening of something within humanity that has been forgotten.
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… while academics in Beijing plot decoupling business with the US and teaming up with EU and ASEAN
Western economists and intellectuals obsessed with demonization of China are never shy of shortcuts glaringly exposing their ignorance.
The latest outburst posits that “we” – as in Western intellectuals – “are the modern version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” who electro-shocked a dead body (China) into a resurrected “murderous monster.”
So, welcome to the Sino-Frankenstein school of international relations. What next? A black and white remake with Xi Jinping playing the monster? Anyway, “we” – as in mankind’s best hope – should “avoid carrying on in the role of Frankenstein.”
The author is an economics professor emeritus at Harvard. He cannot even identify who’s to blame for Frankenstein – the West or the Chinese. That says much about Harvard’s academic standards.
Now, compare this with what was being discussed at a trade war symposium at Renmin University in Beijing this past Saturday.
Chinese intellectuals were trying to frame the current geopolitical dislocation provoked by the Trump administration’s trade war – without naming it for what it is: a Frankenstein gambit.
Li Xiangyang, director of the National Institute of International Strategy, a think tank linked to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stressed that an “economic decoupling” of the US from China is “completely possible,” considering that “the ultimate [US] target is to contain China’s rise … This is a life-or-death game” for the United States.
Assuming the decoupling would take place, that could be easily perceived as “strategic blackmail” imposed by the Trump administration. Yet what the Trump administration wants is not exactly what the US establishment wants – as shown by an open letter to Trump signed by scores of academics, foreign policy experts and business leaders who are worried that “decoupling” China from the global economy – as if Washington could actually pull off such an impossibility – would generate massive blowback.
What may actually happen in terms of a US-China “decoupling” is what Beijing is already, actively working on: extending trade partnerships with the EU and across the Global South.
And that will lead, according to Li, to the Chinese leadership offering deeper and wider market access to its partners. This will soon be the case with the EU, as discussed in Brussels in the spring.
Sun Jie, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that deepening partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will be essential in case a decoupling is in the cards.
For his part Liu Qing, an economics professor at Renmin University, stressed the need for top international relations management, dealing with everyone from Europe to the Global South, to prevent their companies from replacing Chinese companies in selected global supply chains.
And Wang Xiaosong, an economics professor at Renmin University, emphasized that a concerted Chinese strategic approach in dealing with Washington is absolutely paramount.
All about Belt and Road
A few optimists among Western intellectuals would rather characterize what is going on as a vibrant debate between proponents of “restraint” and “offshore balancing” and proponents of “liberal hegemony”. In fact, it’s actually a firefight.
Among the Western intellectuals singled out by the puzzled Frankenstein guy, it is virtually impossible to find another voice of reason to match Martin Jacques, now a senior fellow at Cambridge University. When China Rules the World, his hefty tome published 10 years ago, still leaps out of an editorial wasteland of almost uniformly dull publications by so-called Western “experts” on China.
Jacques has understood that now it’s all about the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative: “BRI has the potential to offer another kind of world, another set of values, another set of imperatives, another way of organizing, another set of institutions, another set of relationships.”
Belt and Road, adds Jacques, “offers an alternative to the existing international order. The present international order was designed by and still essentially privileges the rich world, which represents only 15% of the world’s population. BRI, on the other hand, is addressing at least two-thirds of the world’s population. This is extraordinarily important for this moment in history.”
In fact, we are already entering a Belt and Road 2.0 scenario – defined by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi as a “high-quality” shift from “big freehand” to “fine brushwork.”
At the Belt and Road Forum this past spring in Beijing, 131 nations were represented, engaged in linked projects. Belt and Road is partnering with 29 international organizations from the World Bank to APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Apart from the fact that Belt and Road is now configured as a vast, unique, Eurasia-wide infrastructure and trade development project extending all the way to Africa and Latin America, Beijing is now emphasizing that it’s also a portmanteau brand encompassing bilateral trade relations, South-South cooperation and UN-endorsed sustainable development goals.
China’s trade with Belt and Road-linked nations reached $617.5 billion in the first half of 2019 – up 9.7% year-on-year and outpacing the growth rate of China’s total trade.
Chinese scholar Wang Jisi was right from the start when he singled out Belt and Road as a “strategic necessity” to counter Barack Obama’s now-defunct “pivot to Asia”.
So now it’s time for Western intellectuals to engage on a freak-out: as it stands, Belt and Road is the new Frankenstein.
By re-packaging Malthus’ assumptions into a more complex computing system, these neo-Malthusians wanted to create a shame based movement of willful self-annihilation among an entire generation of baby boomers.
The Trump administration is obsessively spinning the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. Apart from a small coterie of scholars, very few people around the world, especially across the Global South, know what that means since the then incipient strategy was first unveiled at the 2017 APEC forum in Vietnam.
Now everything one needs to know – and especially not know – about the Indo-Pacific is contained in a detailed Pentagon report.
Still: is this an act, or the real deal? After all, the strategy was unveiled by “acting” Pentagon head Patrick Shanahan (the Boeing guy), who latter committed hara-kiri, just to be replaced by another, revolving door, “acting” secretary, Mark Espel (the Raytheon guy).
Shanahan made a big deal of Indo-Pacific when he hit the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last month, picking up on his introduction to the Pentagon report to stress the “geopolitical rivalry between free and repressive world order visions” and demonizing China for seeking to “reorder the region to its advantage”.
In contrast, all the benign Pentagon yearns for is just “freedom” and “openness” for a “networked region”; calling it the New Pentagon Silk Road wouldn’t be far fetched.
Anyone remotely familiar with “Indo-Pacific” knows that’s code for demonization of China; actually, the Trump administration’s version of Obama’s “pivot to Asia”, which was in itself a State Dept. concoction, via Kurt Campbell, fully appropriated by then Secretary Hillary Clinton.
“Indo-Pacific” congregates the Quad – US, Japan, India and Australia – in a “free” and “open” God-given mission. Yet this conception of freedom and openness blocks the possibility of China turning the mechanism into a Quintet.
Add to it what hawkish actor Esper told the Senate Armed Services Committee way back in 2017:
“My first priority will be readiness – ensuring the total Army is prepared to fight across the full spectrum of conflict. With the Army engaged in over 140 countries around the world, to include combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, training rotations to Europe to deter Russia, and forward deployed units in the Pacific defending against a bellicose North Korea, readiness must be our top priority.”
That was 2017. Esper didn’t even talk about China – which at the time was not the demonized “existential threat” of today. The Pentagon continues to be all about Full Spectrum Dominance.
Beijing harbors no illusions about the new Indo-Pacific chief they will be dealing with.
“Indo-Pacific” is a hard nut to sell to ASEAN. As much as selected members may allow themselves to profit from some “protection” by the US military, Southeast Asia as a whole maintains top trade relations with China; most nations are participants of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); and they will not shrink from enjoying the benefits of Huawei’s 5G future.
Actually even the other three in the Quad, as much as they are not linked to BRI, are having second thoughts on playing supportive roles in an all-American super production. They are very careful about their geoeconomic relations with China. “Indo-Pacific”, a club of four, is a de facto late response to BRI – which is indeed open, to over 65 nations so far.
The Pentagon’s favorite mantra concerns the enforcement of “freedom of navigation operations” (FONOP) – as if China, juggling the countless tentacles of global supply chains, would have any interest in provoking naval insecurity anywhere.
So far, “Indo-Pacific” has made sure that the US Pacific Command was renamed US Indo-Pacific Command. And that’s about it. Everything remains the same in terms of those FONOPs – in fact a carefully deceptive euphemism for the US Navy to be on 24/7 patrol anywhere across Asian seas, from the Indian to the Pacific, and especially the South China Sea. No ASEAN nation though will be caught dead performing FONOPS in South China Sea waters within 12 nautical miles of rocks and reefs claimed by Beijing.
The rampant demonization of China, now a bipartisan sport across the Beltway, on occasion even more hysterical than the demonization of Russia, also features proverbial reports by the Council on Foreign Relations – the establishment’s think tank by definition – on China as a serial aggressor, politically, economically and militarily, and BRI as a geoeconomic tool to coerce China’s neighbors.
So it’s no wonder this state of affairs has led Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a recent, frenetic Indo-Pacific related tour, including Quad members India and Japan and possible associates Saudi Arabia, UAE and South Korea.
Geopoliticians of the realist school do fear that Pompeo, a fanatic Christian Zionist, may be enjoying under Trump a virtual monopoly on US foreign policy; a former CIA director playing warmongering top “diplomat” while also “acting” as Pentagon head trampling other second string actors who are not under full employment.
His Indo-Pacific roving was a de facto tour de force emphasizing the containment/demonization not only of China but also Iran, which should be seen as the major US target in the Indo/Southwest Asia part of the club. Iran is not only about strategic positioning and being a major BRI hub; it’s about immense reserves of natural gas to be traded bypassing the US dollar.
The fact that the non-stop demonization of Iran and/or China “aggression” comes from a hyperpower with over 800 military bases or lily pads spread out across every latitude plus a FONOP armada patrolling the seven seas is enough to send the hardest cynic into a paroxysm of laughter.
The high-speed train has left the station
In the end, everything under “Indo-Pacific” goes back to what game India is playing.
New Delhi meekly opted for not buying oil from Iran after the Trump administration lifted its sanctions waiver. New Delhi had promised earlier, on the record, to only respect UN Security Council sanctions, not unilateral – and illegal – US sanctions.
This decision is set to jeopardize India’s dream of extending its new mini-Silk Road to Afghanistan and Central Asia based on the Iranian port of Chabahar. That was certainly part of the discussions during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek, when full members Putin, Xi and Modi, plus Rouhani – as the head of an observer nation – were sitting at the same table.
New Delhi’s priority – embedded deep in the Indian establishment – may be containment of China. Yet Putin and Xi – fellow BRICS and SCO members – are very much aware that Modi cannot at the same time antagonize China and lose Iran as partner, and are deftly working on it.
On the Eurasian chessboard, the Pentagon and the Trump administration, together, only think Divide and Rule. India must become a naval power capable of containing China in the Indian Ocean while Japan must contain China economically and militarily all across East Asia.
Japan and India do meet – again – when it comes to another more geoeconomically specific anti-BRI scheme; the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), which so far has had a minimal impact and stands no chance of luring dozens of nations across the Global South away from BRI-related projects.
The chessboard now clearly shows Indo-Pacific pitted against the three key hubs of Eurasia integration – Russia-China-Iran. The definitive unraveling of Indo-Pacific – even before it starts gaining ground – would be a clear commitment by New Delhi to break apart the US sanctions regime by restarting purchases of much-needed Iran oil and gas.
It won’t take much for Modi to figure out that taking a second role in a Made in USA production will leave him stranded at the station eating dust just as the high-speed Eurasia integration train passes him by.
Over the past months, an unexpected world of economic activity has opened up across Russia’s Arctic frontier with the unveiling of the Polar Silk Road. While many western business and political interests have seen this incredible opening up of the last unexplored frontier on the earth as a chance for dialogue and peace, too many neo conservative warmongers and neo-liberal technocrats have chosen instead to view this development as a threat to be destroyed at all costs.
“Fate leads the willing and drags the unwilling”
Over the past months, an unexpected world of economic activity has opened up across Russia’s Arctic frontier with the unveiling of the Polar Silk Road. While many western business and political interests have seen this incredible opening up of the last unexplored frontier on the earth as a chance for dialogue and peace, too many neo conservative warmongers and neo-liberal technocrats have chosen instead to view this development as a threat to be destroyed at all costs.
American Neocons Respond
Representing the regressive neocon viewpoint, Mike Pompeo described his geopolitical view of the Arctic seaway as “the 21st century Panama and Suez Canals” – then hypocritically attacked China as a threat to America saying: “China’s pattern of aggressive behavior elsewhere should inform what we do, and how it might treat the Arctic… Do we want crucial Arctic infrastructure to end up like Chinese-constructed roads in Ethiopia? Crumbling and dangerous after only a few years. Do we want the Arctic Ocean to transform into a new South China Sea? Fraught with militarization and competing territorial claims.”
Before the end of June, American lawmakers will vote on a bill to increase military capabilities in the long-neglected arctic under National Defense Authorization Act 2020 which proposes to upgrade America’s dismal ice breaker fleet from its current roster of one (compared to Russia’s 40) and develop one or more military ports in Alaska. The NDAA 2020 both recognizes the Russia-China economic leadership in the zone and calls for creating infrastructure needed to tap into the “abundance of uranium, rare earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources” which would make America a competitor.
The Case of Canada
While the militarist/monetarist neocons on the “right” push confrontation and war, militarily impotent Canadian technocrats under the control of the Privy Council Office (currently managed by Rhodes Scholar Chrystia Freeland) have taken a slightly different anti-Polar Silk Road policy. This policy is essentially a religious commitment to doing nothing and demand that others join in this absence of all activity.
In the wake of the successful St Petersburg Arctic Forum on April 9-10, a non-partisan parliamentary Canadian study group published an incredibly positive white paper calling for Canada to respond to the polar silk road by reforming the entire 70 year Arctic doctrine from its Cold War mindset to becoming a zone of mass infrastructure development and growth in harmony with the Eurasian philosophy. The governing elite of the Anglo-Canadian establishment took one whole month to assess this remarkably sane proposal before deciding to go in the opposite direction.
In May 23, the chosen course of action began to take form with the submission of a 1200 page report to the United Nations claiming that the North Pole is the sole property of Canada. The Canadian “scientific” study supposedly found that since the continental shelf connected to Ellesmere Island extends to the North Pole’s Lomonosov Ridge (disputed with Russia since 2007), Canada’s property in the Arctic can be grown to 1.2 million squared kilometers. This zone, which extends far beyond the 200 mile “exclusive economic zone” has been a point of conflict for years and was used to provoke a diplomatic crisis in 2007 when a Russian scientific submarine planted a Russian flag on the sea bed, and again in 2014 when then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, humored Canada’s joining NATO’s ABM shield in the Arctic stated that Santa Claus is Canadian.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland gleefully said of this Arctic claim: “Canada is committed to furthering its leadership in the Arctic. Defining our continental shelf is vital to ensuring our sovereignty and to serving the interests of all people, including indigenous peoples in the Arctic. Today’s submission is a major step toward securing legal and international recognition of the outer limits of Canada’s continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.”
Technocrats Dig their Heals into the Permafrost: Demand Stasis for All
The next phase of Canada’s anti-Polar Silk Road policy has now been unveiled in the form of Bills C-48, C-69, C-88 and a fourth Bill passed on June 17 declaring that Canada is officially in a “Climate Emergency”.
All three major omnibus bills passed just days of each other might cause one to think of a toddler having a temper tantrum in a super market, screaming while letting their bodies go limp and forcing their annoyed parents to drag them out of the store.
Under the hysteria fomented by Canada’s new “climate emergency”, Bill C-48 legally enforces a moratorium on all oil tankers in Northern British Columbia banning their existence from Vancouver Island all the way to Alaska.
Bill C-88 amends the Canada Petroleum Resources Act banning all offshore Arctic drilling thus taking a policy begun by Trudeau and Obama in December 2016 when the duo declared the Arctic “off limits” to all development, and now establishing it in the form of law for the first time. Once given “Royal Assent” (all laws must be approved by the Monarchy), all existing licenses will be frozen and financial compensation will be given to all companies who have purchased exploratory licenses in Canadian waters.
Bill C-49 overhauls the already over-bloated environmental review process for all energy infrastructure making it even more impossible than it previously was to start any new infrastructure across the vast Arctic.
These three bills combined threaten to devastate the Canadian economy which heavily relies on resource development (especially since its manufacturing sector has been so viciously hollowed out over the course of 25 years of NAFTA outsourcing). Already, Alberta which is a hub of the Canadian Yellow vest movement, is on fire with thousands protesting the shutdown of employment and economic potential under the ideologically driven craze to “stop global warming” (which has a lot more to do with stopping Russia and China than many would care to admit). The beleaguered Trudeau/Freeland government which faces collapse in the upcoming October elections has now found itself in a paradoxical situation of 1) needing to resist the growth policy driven by the Russia-China alliance on the one side while 2) needing to appease the flames of mass revolt within the country on the other side.
For this reason, Trudeau also approved the Trans Mountain pipeline project which has been on the rocks for several years. The project will increase oil and natural gas output from Alberta to 890 000 barrels/day by connecting a pipeline from Edmonton Alberta to Burnaby, BC.
The Trudeau/Freeland green regime have justified this paradoxical decision by claiming that all profits from the pipeline will now be used to fund Canada’s transition to a zero-growth green energy infrastructure grid which will ironically prohibit all such major projects from ever being built again. If it sounds absurd, that is because all empires committed to a policy of Malthusian depopulation must somehow balance an agenda of killing human cattle on the one side while keeping those cattle happy enough to vote into power those political operatives assigned to cull the herd.
China and Russia Understand Real Economics
In opposition to monetarists and Malthusians dominant across the Anglo-sphere, the leadership of Russia and China have demonstrated a clear understanding of the core principles of real economics and the moral/intellectual/financial bankruptcy of the derivatives-laden western banking system. Describing the collapse of the “each against all paradigm”, President Putin said on June 6th that the world was suffering under a “fragmentation of the global economic space by a policy of completely unlimited economic egoism and a forced breakdown. But this is the road to endless conflict, trade wars and maybe not just trade wars. Figuratively, this is the road to the ultimate fight of all against all.”
He went on to describe the need for “a more stable and fair development model. These agreements should not only be written clearly but should also be observed by all participants. However, I am convinced that talk about an economic world order like this will remain wishful thinking unless we return to the centre of the discussion, that is, notions like sovereignty, the unconditional right of every country to its own development road and, let me add, responsibility for universal sustainable development, not just for one’s own development.”
This positive approach is at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative, and its Arctic extensions which are founded upon the respect of each participating nation, as well as the group of nations working on projects which satisfy common aims and interests of all people. Under this system, which uplifts the conditions of life of every individual as well as the productive powers of labour of each nation, private interests, and public good do not find themselves in contradiction since everyone aspires to make life better for their children.
Great projects rooted in scientific and technological progress satisfy that need brilliantly. Both China and Russia know that if the world is to embark upon great infrastructure projects as the foundation for the new order of constant progress and “win-win cooperation” then the Arctic’s vast resources will be vital in that recipe for success. If the west is intelligent then it will reject the zero-growth agenda which has designated Canada’s Arctic as untouchable as fast as they reject the zero-sum neocon agenda of militarism and unilateralism.
As the international financial system is becoming increasingly shaped by the spirit of cooperation and long term development shaped by China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the greater Russia-China alliance, Canada’s adherence to the “old liberal order” has caused the Asian giant to make a tough decision: Remove its Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary Lu Shaye from the Northern Monarchy until saner heads become a factor in Canadian politics.
This has left the already beleaguered government of Justin Trudeau (and Chrystia Freeland… let’s not kid ourselves here) in an embarrassing situation as Trudeau’s requests to meet with Xi Jinping at the upcoming G20 have gone ignored for the past several days. Freeland has announced that her many requests to speak with China’s Foreign Minister have similarly gone unheeded.
Since attaining power in 2015, the Liberal Government has demonstrated nothing but constant belligerence to China. Many then watching the Canadian political scene had hoped that Trudeau would continue the pro-China traditions which his father initiated in 1970 and which paved the way to China’s opening up under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping a few years later.
This did not occur.
Rather than adapt to the shifting current of the times which calls for nations to reject “each against all” geopolitics and instead join a new win-win framework driven by the Belt and Road Initiative model of development, Canada has only dug its heels ever deeper into the ground in defense of the sinking Titanic of Globalization. This was seen by Canada’s unrelenting support for the COP21 depopulation agenda, the anti-China Trans Pacific Partnership, the anti-Russia/China NATO missile shield, and anti-everybody WTO system.
Once the Chinese government made their disapproval of Canada’s behavior known with the December 2017 rejection of the Canada-China special relationship, Trudeau and Freeland were assigned to take on a more aggressive tone against China, first by blocking the sale of Canada’s Aecon to China due to “security risks” in May 2018, arresting Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou in December 2018, firing a pro-Chinese ambassador in January 2019 and mobilizing international support against China’s human rights abuses due to China’s arrest of two Canadians on espionage charges and the death penalty given to a Canadian drug smuggler.
How a low level “middle power” like Canada ever gained the hubris to believe that it could intimidate a country like China is a mystery, but it happened.
Now Xi Jinping has sent a clear message that it will no longer tolerate a mosquito who thinks it is a dragon trying to bully China any longer. China’s ambassador Lu Shaye has done everything for 3 years to offer Canada the opportunity to join the Belt and Road Initiative and open up to a new system of cooperation with China’s investment into decayed North American infrastructure. In a recent Ottawa event Ambassador Lu said:
“China and Canada could engage in third-party market cooperation, create a kind of synergy and achieve triple-win by combining the needs of developing countries, China’s production capacity, and Canada’s advantages in capital and technology. Canada is one of the members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which provides favourable conditions for the country to participate in the Belt and Road facility connection.”
With the total rejection of these peace offerings, Lu Shaye has induced Canada to demonstrate where its true allegiance lay. Once Canada’s true colors were exposed, Ambassador Lu himself, breaking with the typical protocols of subtle and polite diplomatic conduct for which the Chinese are well known, called out the “racist, Five Eyes Intelligence network” which is really trying to run the world. In January 2019 Ambassador Lu described the hypocrisy of the western technocratic elite who attack China saying:
“the reason why some people are used to arrogantly adopting double standards is due to Western egotism and white supremacy – in such a context, the rule of law is nothing but a tool for their political ends and a fig leaf for their practising hegemony in the international arena”
Now with Canadian elections fast approaching and finding only anti-Chinese vitriol even among the Conservative Party of Andrew Sheer (the only contender against Trudeau), China has decided that Ambassador Lu can be more productive if re-deployed to France where greater opportunities for BRI-cooperation can be found. Of course, China’s wish that Canada take part in the BRI and its new Arctic extension remains firmly on the table awaiting only a sane political leadership to arise and accept this ticket to the future.
The spectre of nuclear war has long hung over the world like a nightmarish sword of Damocles offering humanity much cause for despair at the dual nature of science as a beautiful source of creative power that uplifts and ennobles on the one hand and acts as a harbinger of death and chaos on the other.
However, it would be wrong to blame science for the crisis which mankind unlocked with the atom, when the reality is that we have never freed ourselves from the pest of oligarchical systems of rule. Going back to records of the Roman, Persian and Babylon empires, such systems have always sought to manipulate the masses into patterns of behaviour of self-policing and constant conflict.
Whether we are talking about the Crusades, European religious wars, Napoleonic wars, Crimean War, Opium Wars, or WWI and WWII, it has always been the same recipe: Get victims to define their interests around material constraints, diminishing resources, or religious/ethnic/linguistic biases that prevent each person from recognizing their common interests with their neighbor and then get them to fight. Classic divide and conquer.
By the close of WWII, that ancient recipe for managed chaos no longer functioned as a new ingredient was introduced into the geopolitical “great game”. This atomic ingredient was so powerful that those “game masters” managing the affairs of the earth from above like detached Olympian gods, understood that they could now be annihilated as fast as their victims and a new set of rules had to be created post haste.
Lord Russell’s Nuclear Gamble
A leading representative of the genocidal mind of the British Empire was one Lord Bertrand Russell, 7th generation member of the hereditary elite known today for his celebrated pacifism and profound philosophical depth. It is an uncomfortable fact that this paragon of “logic” and peace was one of the earliest thinkers on record calling for the nuclear annihilation of the Soviet Union in the wake of the surrender of Nazi Germany. Should the Soviet Union not submit to a One World Government, argued Lord Russell in the September 1946 Bulletin for Atomic Scientists, then it would simply have to face a nuclear punishment.
Of course that threat was short lived, as Russia’s surprise announcement of their “cracking the atomic code” broke the monopoly which the Anglo-Americans had been salivating over in 1945 as they watched Japan (whose backchannel surrender had already been negotiated) burn under the shadow of a newly emerging Anglo-American Leviathan.
Lord Russell, then heading the CIA/MI6 Congress for Cultural Freedom (whose goal was to create a new anti-culture of hedonism and irrationalism in the arts during the Cold War) was forced to change tune and instead unleash a new doctrine which came to be known as “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD). Russell’s obsession with trying to enslave all of physics to a strict mathematical determinism as displayed in his Principia Mathematica (1910) and his leading role in the CIA’s promotion of abstract art/atonal music under the CCF banner is a useful insight into how societies are managed by oligarchs.
In a BBC interview years after Russell changed his views on a first strike on Russia, the British aristocratic, now-turned anti-nuclear advocate described his change of heart thus:
“Q: Is it true or untrue that in recent years you advocated that a preventive war might be made against communism, against Soviet Russia?”
RUSSELL: It’s entirely true, and I don’t repent of it now. It was not inconsistent with what I think now…. There was a time, just after the last war, when the Americans had a monopoly of nuclear weapons and offered to internationalise nuclear weapons by the Baruch proposal, and I thought this an extremely generous proposal on their part, one which it would be very desirable that the world should accept; not that I advocated a nuclear war, but I did think that great pressure should be put upon Russia to accept the Baruch proposal, and I did think that if they continued to refuse it might be necessary actually to go to war. At that time nuclear weapons existed only on one side, and therefore the odds were the Russians would have given way. I thought they would … .
Q: Suppose they hadn’t given way.
RUSSELL: I thought and hoped that the Russians would give way, but of course you can’t threaten unless you’re prepared to have your bluff called.”
An End to the MAD World
The new game became “geopolitical balance of terror” under MAD, and in many ways the power it offered an oligarchy was greater than anything a pre-atomic society had to offer. While major wars were no longer desirable (though always a risk in this psychotic game of high stakes poker), asymmetric warfare and regime change became the new “big things” for the next 70 years. A population in constant terror of annihilation created a ripe ground for the spread of a new inquisition under the guidance of a megalomaniac cross-dresser running the FBI. This inquisition purged the west of qualified leaders who were committed to peace between east and west and included great scientists, artists, professors and politicians who watched their careers destroyed as the Deep State grew ever more powerful and atomic bombs more abundant.
While many foolishly celebrated the success of MAD with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of a unipolar world that would supposedly usher in a peaceful “end to history”, others recognised the grand sleight of hand as NATO continued to expand even though WWs raison d’être had disappeared. Yevgeni Primakov and a circle of Russian patriots (which included a rising Vladimir Putin) were among those who saw through the fraud. This network worked diligently with their Asian counterparts to create a foundation for survival which manifested in the form of the G20 in 1999 and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001.
As 2007 began, the wars in the Middle East unleashed after 9-11 had no end in sight, and an intention much darker than many ever imagined was emerging amidst the chaos. A NATO-led Anti-Ballistic Missile shield began construction around Russia’s southern perimeter on Dick Cheney’s initiative and was joined soon thereafter by an “Asia-Pivot” encirclement of China under Obama in 2011. Only the most naive fools then believed that Iran or North Korea were the real reasons for this Hobbesian power grab for a first strike monopoly. Lord Russell’s ghost could be felt across the world threatening a nuclear war if national sovereignty were not abandoned in favor of a world government managed by a “scientific dictatorship”,
Russia and China Call to Control the Fiery Serpent
President Putin along with Sergei Lavrov and President Xi Jinping have signalled an end to the era of MAD with an important call for a new international security doctrine based upon a “new operating system”.
Coming out of the St. Petersburg Economic Summit on June 6, Putin said “if we do not keep this ‘fiery serpent under control- if we let it out of the bottle, God forbid, this could lead to global catastrophe. Everyone is pretending to be deaf, blind or dyslexic. We have to react to this somehow, don’t we? Clearly so.”
Putin’s words were amplified by Sergei Lavrov on June 11 speaking at the Primakov Readings 2019 conference in Moscow which brought together diplomats, experts and politicians from 30 countries on the theme of “Returning to Confrontation: Are there Any Alternatives?” Lavrov said:
“It is of principle importance that Russia and the U.S. calm the rest of the world and pass a joint statement at a high level that there can be no victory in a nuclear war and therefore it is unacceptable and inadmissible. We do not understand why they cannot reconfirm this position now. Our proposal is being considered by the U.S. side.”
Since putting themselves between an Anglo-American firing squad and the nations of Syria and Venezuela, in tandem with the surprising unveiling of an array of new military technologies in March 2018, Putin has transformed the geopolitical “rules of the game” so that Lavrov’s proposal is now a real possibility. The new technologies unveiled by Russia in 2018 include supersonic missiles, underwater drones and other nuclear powered rockets that guarantee Russia’s retaliatory attack capability should anyone be stupid enough to launch a first strike against Russia.
The BRI and the New Operating System
The St. Petersburg Economic Summit from June 5-6 not only saw 19 000 participants from 145 countries signing $47.8 billion in agreements, but also featured an important meeting by China’s Xi Jinping and Putin who described their relationship as the best of friends and locked their nations ever more deeply into the new operating framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is quickly extending into the Arctic.
This meeting will be carried to a yet higher level with the June 13-14 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan which will integrate Eurasian nations ever more into the BRI. Putin and Xi will not only meet at this summit once again, but will also be joined by India’s newly re-elected Narendra Modi, whose participation is vital for the re-organisation of the world system.
After the SCO summit, the world will await the potential meeting at the June 28-29 G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated his desire to meet with all three leaders for bilateral negotiations. Many onlookers have criticised the idea that Trump could actually desire an honest meeting, but Lavrov has indicated his higher understanding of the strategic complexity in America by making the point in a June 6 interview that President Trump’s failures to build constructive relations with Russia are due to sabotage by forces embedded within the government when he said: “Certain US politicians, including those who tied President Trump’s hands, not allowing him to deliver on his campaign promises to normalise and improve relations with Russia, are still unable to accept this fact.”
In fact at a June 12 press conference alongside the President of Poland, Trump was pressed by a reporter to take a hard line against Russia who is apparently “threatening Poland”. While paying lip service to the Russia=bully narrative, Trump ended his response saying “I hope that Poland is going to have a great relationship with Russia. I hope we’re going to have a great relationship with Russia and, by the way, China and many other countries.” Trump had earlier called for Russia, China and America to convert their hundreds of millions of dollars in military spending into projects that are in the common interests of everyone.
During his keynote address to the Economic Forum, Putin called out the elephant in the room by bringing up the breakdown of the global financial system: “the degeneration of the universalist globalisation model and its turning into a parody, a caricature of itself, where common international rules are replaced with the laws… of one country.” Putin went on to warn of a “fragmentation of the global economic space by a policy of completely unlimited economic egoism and a forced breakdown. But this is the road to endless conflict, trade wars and maybe not just trade wars. Figuratively, this is the road to the ultimate fight of all against all.”
The point was driven home that ultimately without a new economic system, the danger of global annihilation and injustice will always hang over humanity. Echoing Xi Jinping’s philosophy of win-win cooperation, Putin said what is ultimately needed is “a more stable and fair development model. These agreements should not only be written clearly but should also be observed by all participants. However, I am convinced that talk about an economic world order like this will remain wishful thinking unless we return to the centre of the discussion, that is, notions like sovereignty, the unconditional right of every country to its own development road and, let me add, responsibility for universal sustainable development, not just for ones own development.”
Xi Jinping has sent a clear message that it will no longer tolerate a mosquito who thinks it is a dragon trying to bully China any longer. China's ambassador Lu Shaye has done everything for 3 years to offer Canada the opportunity to join the Belt and Road Initiative and open up to a new system of cooperation with China's investment into decayed North American infrastructure.
With a newly elected Modi government which is committed to resolving the tension between the two countries, the Xi-Putin-Modi meeting is an especially important bridge into the emerging G20 summit in Osaka Japan on June 28-29 where President Trump has announced he will likely join in bilateral meetings with the 3 leaders.
The post Modi-Xi-Putin Meeting at SCO Summit Vital for Re-shaping the World Order appeared first on Fort Russ.
Something extraordinary began with a short walk in St. Petersburg last Friday.
After a stroll, they took a boat on the Neva River, visited the legendary Aurora cruiser, and dropped in to examine the Renaissance masterpieces at the Hermitage. Cool, calm, collected, all the while it felt like they were mapping the ins and outs of a new, emerging, multipolar world.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was the guest of honor of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was Xi’s eighth trip to Russia since 2013, when he announced the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
First they met in Moscow, signing multiple deals. The most important is a bombshell: a commitment to develop bilateral trade and cross-border payments using the ruble and the yuan, bypassing the U.S. dollar.
Then Xi visited the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia’s premier business gathering, absolutely essential for anyone to understand the hyper-complex mechanisms inherent in the construction of Eurasian integration. I addressed some of SPIEF’s foremost discussions and round tables here.
In Moscow, Putin and Xi signed two joint statements – whose key concepts, crucially, are “comprehensive partnership”, “strategic interaction” and “global strategic stability.”
In his St. Petersburg speech, Xi outlined the “comprehensive strategic partnership”. He stressed that China and Russia were both committed to green, low carbon sustainable development. He linked the expansion of BRI as “consistent with the UN agenda of sustainable development” and praised the interconnection of BRI projects with the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). He emphasized how all that was consistent with Putin’s idea of a Great Eurasian Partnership. He praised the “synergetic effect” of BRI linked to South-South cooperation.
And crucially, Xi stressed that China “won’t seek development to the expense of environment”; China “will implement the Paris climate agreement”; and China is “ready to share 5G technology with all partners” on the way towards a pivotal change in the model of economic growth.
So what about Cold War 2.0?
It was obvious this was slowly brewing for the past five to six years. Now the deal is in the open. The Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership is thriving; not as an allied treaty, but as a consistent road map towards Eurasia integration and the consolidation of the multipolar world.
Unipolarism – via its demonization matrix – had first accelerated Russia’s pivot to Asia. Now, the U.S.-driven trade war has facilitated the consolidation of Russia as China’s top strategic partner.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs better get ready to dismiss virtually everyday statements coming, for instance, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, when he alleges that Moscow aims to use non-strategic nuclear weapons in the European theater. It’s part of a non-stop process – now in high gear – of manufacturing hysteria by frightening NATO allies with the Russian “threat.”
Moscow better get ready to dodge and counteract reams of reports such as the latest from the RAND corporation, which outlines – what else? – Cold War 2.0 against Russia.
In 2014, Russia did not react to sanctions imposed by Washington. Then, it would have sufficed to merely brandish the threat of default on $700 billion in external debt. That would have killed the sanctions.
Now, there’s ample debate inside Russian intelligence circles on what to do in case Moscow faces the prospect of being cut off the CHIPS-SWIFT financial clearing system.
With few illusions about what may pass at the G20 in Osaka later this month, in terms of a breakthrough in U.S.-Russia relations, intel sources told me Rosneft’s CEO Igor Sechin is prepared to send a more “realistic” message— if push eventually comes to shove.
His message to the EU, in this case, would be to cut them off, and link with China for good. That way, Russian oil would be completely redirected from the EU to China, making the EU completely dependent on the Strait of Hormuz.
Beijing for its part seems to have finally absorbed that the current Trump administration offensive is not a mere trade war, but a full fledged attack on its economic miracle, including a concerted drive to cut China off from large swathes of the world economy.
The war on Huawei – the Rosebud of China’s 5G supremacy – has been identified as an attack on thedragon’s head. The attack on Huawei means an attack not only on tech, mega-hub Shenzhen, but the whole Pearl River Delta: a $3 trillion yuan ecosystem, which supplies the nuts and bolts of the Chinese supply chain for high-tech manufacturers.
Enter the Golden Ring
Neither China’s technological rise, nor Russia’s unmatched hypersonic know-how have caused America’s structural malaise. If there are answers they should come from the Exceptionalist elites.
The problem for the U.S. is the emergence of a formidable peer competitor in Eurasia – and worse still, a strategic partnership. It has thrown these elites into Supreme Paranoia mode, which is holding the whole world hostage.
By contrast, the concept of the Golden Ring of Multipolar Great Powers has been floated, by which Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China might provide a “stability belt” along the South Asia Rimland.
I have discussed variations of this idea with Russian, Iranian, Pakistani and Turkish analysts – but it sounds like wishful thinking. Admittedly all these nations would welcome establishing the Golden Ring; but no one knows which way Modi’s India would lean – intoxicated as it is with dreams of Big Power status as the crux of America’s “Indo-Pacific” concoction.
It might be more realistic to assume that if Washington does not go to war with Iran – because Pentagon gaming has established this would be a nightmare – all options are on the table ranging from the South China Sea to the larger Indo-Pacific.
The Deep State will not flinch to unleash concentric havoc on the periphery of both Russia and China and then try to advance to destabilize the heartland from the inside. The Russia-China strategic partnership has generated a sore wound: it hurts – so bad – to be a Eurasia outsider.
The foreign and domestic policies of the US Administration appear to be guided by a combination of financial greed, the desire to exploit weakness for the sake of doing so, a partiality for malevolence, and determination to be spiteful. In no manner, domestically, has the last been more effectively demonstrated than by Washington’s treatment of the children of illegal immigrants.
On June 5 the Washington Post reported that in its most recent persecution of migrant children “The Trump administration is cancelling English classes, recreational programs and legal aid for unaccompanied minors staying in federal migrant shelters nationwide.” One shelter employee spoke for all civilised people when he said that “educational classes and sports activities are crucial to maintaining physical and mental health while the children are in custody” but this means nothing to Trump and his followers, so many of whom seem to be bigots who actually take pleasure in making life disagreeable and distressing for people who have done them no harm but have in some fashion displeased them.
The hostility of members of the Washington Establishment to those considered to be non-conformist extends world-wide, being displayed in the main by the massive US military presence in all parts of the globe. The aim appears to be world domination, and it is therefore not surprising that a major target is China’s Belt and Road initiative, about which the Council on Foreign Relations observed that “in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the launch of both the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road infrastructure development and investment initiatives that would stretch from East Asia to Europe. The project, eventually termed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) . . . is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever conceived.” It is intended to facilitate international trade and improve the economies of participating nations.
President Putin noted that the BRI “is aimed at strengthening the constructive cooperation of the Eurasian states. Its truly unifying goal is to ensure harmonious and sustainable economic development and economic growth throughout the Eurasian space.”
The BRI is drawing nations together, and Trump Washington doesn’t like this sort of thing, except on its own strict terms. The mammoth project that is intended to benefit all who care to join it is anathema to a country that Trump declares is “the greatest place on earth,” and whose representatives seek every opportunity to denigrate the venture which, so far, involves over sixty nations.
At the 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Vice President Pence told 21 national leaders (including President Xi) that the United States doesn’t “offer a constricting belt or a one-way road” and in March 2019 Secretary of State Pompeo declared the BRI to be “a non-economic offer,” against which Washington is “working diligently to make sure everyone in the world understands that threat.”
The accusation by Pence that the BRI is “constricting” or “a one-way road” is absurd. As pointed out by the economist Yaseen Anwar, “[the] initiative gives access to capital for those connected emerging markets that have not had the necessary investment grade ratings to tap international bond markets. These economies have never had the opportunity to attract offshore investors who require ratings dictated by their corporate policies.” The BRI is widening economic opportunities, not constricting them, and the “one-way” contention is equally ludicrous, because China’s aim, as made clear by President Xi in St Petersburg on 8 June, is to “stick to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and work together to create an open and pluralistic world economy.”
The only “one-way” evident at the moment is Washington’s blinkered determination to destroy development of the Belt and Road infrastructure, which would obstruct development intended to benefit hundreds of millions of people.
One major US objection to the BRI is that its supporters consider protection of the environment to be important. In April, at the second Belt and Road Forum, it was unanimously agreed that progress would be “along a green, low-carbon and sustainable development path,” which is a decidedly two-way affair, benefiting all concerned. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, strongly endorsed this approach by stating he considers the BRI “an important space where green principles can be reflected in green action… Fully expanding our policy options for green and sustainable development backed by green financing instruments must become the new norm.”
Much of the Washington Establishment refuses to acknowledge the fact of climate change and agree with Trump’s tweet that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive” which is one of the most foolish of his many assertions. He wilfully ignored the US Congress report of 2018 which determined that “Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.”
On June 8 the Washington Post reported that “White House officials barred a State Department intelligence agency from submitting written testimony this week to the House Intelligence Committee warning that human-caused climate change could be “possibly catastrophic.” The move came after State officials refused to excise the document’s references to federal scientific findings on climate change.” There appears to be no end to the depths to which the White House will sink in its determination to deny climate change and convince American citizens that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese.”
As with President Xi and Secretary General Guterres, President Putin is apprehensive about climate change, and on June 8 at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum he warned that “Exacerbating environmental and climatic challenges that present a direct threat to the socioeconomic well-being of all humankind are making the [poverty and under-development] crisis even worse. Climate and the environment have become an objective factor in global development and a problem fraught with large-scale shocks, including another uncontrolled surge in migration, more instability and undermined security in key regions of the planet. At the same time, there is a high risk that instead of joint efforts to address environmental and climate issues, we will run into attempts to use this issue for unfair competition.”
Regrettably, that seems to be exactly what is happening — and although President Putin observed that the BRI “brings opportunities to all countries” it will continue to be aggressively opposed by the US. There is harmony among BRI nations, but implacable hostility from Washington.
On Tuesday May 21st, US energy secretary Rick Perry made headlines after paying a visit to the newly elected administration of Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The visit itself wasn’t the cause of the headlines but rather Perry’s hubristic attack on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline and prophesying that a sanctions bill against western companies building the pipeline will pass into law in the immediate future. Perry said: “The United States Senate is going to pass a bill, the House is going to approve it, and it’s going to go to the President and he’s going to sign it, that is going to put sanctions on Nord Stream 2”.
Perry (who characterized his remarks as “his opinion” and thus not necessarily those of President Trump whom he was attempting to speak for) was referring to the 1222 km (9.5 billion Euro) pipeline begun last year which Russia’s Gazprom has been constructing alongside four western companies. Once completed in early 2020 this project will double the current 55 billion cubic meter/year Russian gas output to Germany through the Baltic Sea. This line is not only vital for European energy security as Euro zone nations have suffered years of unreliable and extremely expensive green energy but cannot legally invest in long term energy projects that would revive its productive potential as EU rules ban deficits greater than 3% of GDP. Technocrats in the EU have even pressured countries to shut down nuclear energy entirely with Germany leading the pack with its commitment for full shut down by 2022 (ironically, this has caused Germany’s carbon emissions to soar to 10 times those of France who still gets 70% of its energy from nuclear power). Energy deficits can only currently be met by Russia, whose oil and gas supplies 60% of the European Union’s energy needs with Italy and Germany accounting for half of that.
Technocrats and Neocons throw a tantrum
The Nord Stream 2 project has long faced resistance by the United States and has suffered many serious setbacks since sanctions on Russia caused a halt to the pipeline’s earlier planned start in 2015. Ukraine and her technocratic controllers are now confronting the fact that they put themselves in an un-winnable position since Ukraine’s puppet regime seeks the contradictory goal of enjoying the $2-3 billion annual transit fees (3% of its GDP) earned by having Russian gas pass to Europe through its territory while simultaneously wishing to integrate into the failing Euro energy market. Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller confirmed that Ukraine’s fears of this lost revenue are well founded when he said on April 28, 2018 that after the project’s completion “volumes of such transit will be much lower, probably 10 to 15 billion cubic meters/year” (15% of its current volume).
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman commented on the proposed U.S. sanction threat saying “the construction of Nord Stream 2 is a kind of Russia’s energy weapon. They want to use this energy weapon to influence European partners. Ukraine is categorically opposed to construction. We thank the United States for its support on this important issue”.
Already a week before Groysman’s comments, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the U.S. senate calling for the sanctioning of all vessels cooperating on the Nord Stream 2 build. Tom Cotton, one of the Senators co-sponsoring the resolution it said “if the project isn’t stopped Moscow will use the pipeline to split eastern nations away from those of central and Western Europe. The German government must deny Putin this opportunity to weaken the NATO alliance. If Berlin won’t act, the United States will.”
The thinking expressed by Perry, Groysman and Cotton reflect the height of delusion and desperation of the western technocratic elite who have been watching their carefully planned system of economic, energy, military and political controls over the trans-Atlantic slip away ever since 2013. This was the year that Russia and China began creating an alternative new multipolar world order alongside other Eurasian nations starting in earnest with China’s September 2013 creation of the Belt and Road Initiative, followed by Russian’s 2015 intervention into Syria and unification of the Eurasian Economic Union with the BRI.
Of course rather than admit that Europe’s disintegration and the split between eastern and western Europe has anything to do with their own faulty thinking, these technocrats and neo cons can only bring themselves to blame Russia as the cause of everything wrong with their world. Perhaps the conditions of draconian austerity to service the bankrupt financial system has something to do with the collapse of the stability of the European Union. Perhaps the NATO-led drive to play nuclear chicken with the missile shield around Russia and NATO’s collective security pact has something to do with it? Or maybe the decreased standards of living accompanying the carbon emission cuts that have nearly doubled much of Europe’s household “green” energy costs and reduced productive industrial power have something to do with Europe’s problems. No the answer must be Russia.
Nord Stream 2 and the BRI: A Hope for Europe
The reality is that Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a major lifeline for a beleaguered Europe, and provides an economic gateway to broader European integration into the growing infrastructure complex of the New Silk Road which is providing for the first time in decades long term productive investments tied to the REAL (vs. speculative) growth of Europe’s physical economies with rail, energy corridors, telecommunications connecting east to west (and increasingly north to south) in ways thought unimaginable just a few years ago. Pre-empting Perry’s threat, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said in January 2019 that “questions of European energy policy must be decided by Europe. Not the USA. To impose unilateral sanctions against Nord Stream 2 is not the way to go”.
Europeans are beginning to take notice that there are now two competing systems pulling the world in two opposing directions and that Europe has increasingly fallen under a future-less cage. Just in the past two months major deals have been signed extending Chinese rail, ports and infrastructure to Greece, Germany, Italy, France Spain and uplifting every nation in between. Italy’s joining the BRI in March was followed by similar MOU’s signed by Switzerland and Luxembourg in April while Greece made headlines becoming a member of the 16+1 Central and Eastern European nations working with China’s BRI.
Whether nationalist leaders such as President Trump and other figures in Europe continue to resist the deep state drive for war and economic fascism by working with the Russia-China alliance or submit to the whims of the technocrats and their London-centered managers remains yet to be seen.
The schism between the "two Americas" has reached feverish heights as Trump went so far as to call out the Military Industrial Complex which has an enormous degree of independence from the Executive and is committed to forever wars. It has been noted by astute observers that such wars are not necessarily matters of "local regime change" but have been building up to a nuclear war threat targeting both Russia and China.
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For the first time in over half a century, an American President has actually come out attacking the Military Industrial Complex. Of course, everyone knows of President Dwight D. Eisenhauer’s famous outgoing 1961 speech warning the world (and the incoming President Kennedy) what sort of monster had arisen at the heart of America’s defense institutions. Very little on the matter was said on the frightening topic by decades of political leaders who rose to prominence in the shadow of JFK’s corpse. Instead, the beast grew like a malignant cancer over the ensuing years as a major branch of the British-run deep state that carried out a coup with Sir Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in 1946 and the MI6-directed re-organization of American intelligence with the creation of the CIA in 1947.
After John F. Kennedy’s assassination, networks of neoconservative contaminated all branches of government in both parties bringing the USA into a frenzied military doctrine centered on regime change wars, oil-centered geopolitics and unipolarism totally uncharacteristic with the better constitutional traditions of the nation. This geopolitical doctrine nearly drove the west into a full military confrontation with Russia and China in recent years.
The Tide Begins to Turn
On May 20 speaking to Fox News, President Trump echoed Eisenhauer’s warnings. Under a coterie of Trump’s war-mongering advisors such as John Bolton, Gina Haspel, Terrence O’Shaughnessy and Mike Pompeo, America has recently been brought to the brink of war with Iran. While Trump has too often accommodated this hive of neocons, his recent statements and repeated calls for cooperation with Russia and China demonstrate a sound push back which should be taken very seriously. In that Fox interview Trump said:
“With all of everything that’s going on, and I’m not one that believes—you know, I’m not somebody that wants to go in to war, because war hurts economies, war kills people, most importantly—by far most importantly.”
You know, in Syria, with the caliphate, so I wipe out 100 percent of the caliphate. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to have these crazy people who run around blowing up stores and blowing up things—these are seriously ill people. I don’t want to say, ‘Oh, they’re wiped,’ you know, ISIS. But, I wiped out 100 percent of the caliphate. I say, ‘I want to bring our troops back home.’ The place went crazy. You have people here in Washington, they never want to leave.”
‘You know what I’ll do, I’ll leave a couple hundred soldiers behind,’ but if it was up to them, they’d bring thousands of soldiers in. Someday people will explain it, but you do have a group, and they call it the military-industrial complex. They never want to leave. They always want to fight.”
Trump continued to explain his preference for economic over military solutions which is certainly in alignment with the Russia and Chinese approach in the Middle East. Both great Eurasian powers have repeatedly stated that the only hope for the Middle East and Africa involves:
1) The cessation of support of said organizations by western geopoliticians and their allies.
2) Programs for long term infrastructure investment to stabilize the conflict torn regions while provide a dynamic of long term thinking emerge. While Putin has come out most forcefully on the former, China has brought its grand Belt and Road infrastructure design to Arab nations with extremely positive results. Over 17 Arab nations have signed cooperation agreements on BRI-connected projects worth $190 billion dollars and Syria’s leadership has explicitly embraced this pathway as the only hope for the future.
Trump’s Surprising Call for Infrastructure in the Middle East
The day before Trump’s “military industrial complex” interview, Jared Kushner (senior White House Advisor) made headlines by announcing a Middle East infrastructure investment conference in Manama Bahrain on June 25-26 which will bring together finance ministers, and business leaders from around the world to discuss a new doctrine for the middle east. The purpose of the summit will be to by-pass the unresolvable obstacles which decades of obsession on “political solutions” without economic development has created.
Trying to attain a political remedy to the injustices accrued in the Middle East is impossible without economic development programs first transforming the entire physical economic (and thus socio-cultural) potentials of all participants. As long as stagnancy and scarcity dominate a region suffering water, energy and education shortages, the spiritual environment of hope and security needed for trust and dialogue is politically impossible.
Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin understood this fact when he shook Yasser Arafat’s hand in Oslo and said “the courage belongs to those who have the courage to change their axioms”. Arafat and Rabin understood that their entente would only succeed if it was driven by much needed energy, water and transportation infrastructure benefiting both Israelis and Palestinians alike. Technocrats running the World Bank also understood this when nearly $2 billion of loans to invest in said projects were blocked and the plan sabotaged before his 1995 London-directed assassination.
Discussing the renewed plan for economic development, a White House official told CNN on May 19th “that you can’t have peace without economic stability and opportunity, but you also can’t have economic opportunity and stability without peace and free of terror and resolving some of these core issues”. The official also said “If there’s peace, it will touch on not only the West Bank and Gaza but also Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. The economies will become integrated. Think about how much money is spent on bullets right now. If it could be spent on infrastructure and human capital, think about how much better the region could be”
Kushner’s conference reflects a second chance at that sabotaged opportunity and again brings American modes of conduct into harmony with the Chinese philosophy for Middle East stabilization. Kushner told CNN that “people are letting their grandfathers’ conflict destroy their children’s futures. This will present an exciting, realistic and viable pathway forward that does not currently exist”. The plan is driven by low interest loans, grant money and private investment.
The Military Industrial Complex and the broader deep state controlled from British Intelligence is certainly not happy with this turn of events.
Thus far, no words have yet been said on US-Russia-China cooperation on this program, but as we move into the upcoming G20 Summit in Japan and Presidents Trump, Putin and Xi Jinping have announced meetings at that venue, there are positive grounds for cautious optimism.
Speaking at China’s second Belt and Road conference in Beijing featuring 37 heads of state, Russia President Vladimir Putin unveiled the intention to unite Russia’s Northern Sea Route with China’s Maritime Silk Road. This announcement should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the close strategic friendship between both countries since the 2015 announcement of an alliance between the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and Belt and Road Initiative. This extension of the Maritime Silk Road represents a powerful force to transform the last unexplored frontier on the Earth, converting the Arctic from a geopolitical zone of conflict towards a new paradigm of mutual cooperation and development.
Putin gave a speech at the BRI forum on April 26 stating:
“the Great Eurasian Partnership and Belt and Road concepts are both rooted in the principles and values that everyone understands: the natural aspiration of nations to live in peace and harmony, benefit from free access to the latest scientific achievements and innovative development, while preserving their culture and unique spiritual identity. In other words, we are united by our strategic, long-term interests.”
Weeks before this speech Russia unveiled a bold plan for Arctic development during the conference Arctic: Territory of Dialogue on April 9-10. This bold plan ties to the “Great Eurasian Partnership”, not only extending roads, rail and new cities into the Far East, but also extending science and civilization into a terrain long thought totally inhospitable. At this Arctic conference, China and Russia signed the first scientific cooperation agreement together setting up the “China-Russia Arctic Research Center” as a part of the Polar Silk Road.
The BRI’s Success So Far
The Belt and Road Initiative has already won over much of Africa as BRI-connected rail, ports, and other infrastructure are providing a breath of fresh air to nations long held hostage by IMF/World Bank conditionalities. Pakistan and much of Southwest Asia are also increasingly on board the BRI through the growing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Seventeen Arab states consolidated 8 massive BRI infrastructure projects between April 15-16 and much of Latin America has also joined with hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure projects. Italy embraced this new BRI framework on March 23, and Greece joined the Central and Eastern European nations of the 16+1 alliance on April 9th. The Eurasian Economic Union is now in the final stages of a long planned economic treaty between China and the Russian-led economic block. Although America has been invited to the BRI on many occasions since its 2013 inception, no positive response has been permitted by the NATO-Deep State power structures manipulating the west.
While China’s activity in the Arctic is only manifesting now, its Arctic Strategy began many years ago.
The importance of the Arctic Silk Road for China
China deployed their first Arctic research expedition in 1999, followed by the establishment of their first Arctic research station in Svalbard, Norway in 2004. After years of effort, China achieved a permanent observer seat at the Arctic Council in 2011, and began building icebreakers soon thereafter surpassing Canada and nearly surpassing the USA whose two out-dated ice breakers have passed their shelf life by many years.
As the Arctic ice caps continue to recede, the Northern Sea Route has become a major focus for China. The fact that shipping time from China’s Port of Dalian to Rotterdam would be cut by 10 days makes this alternative very attractive. Ships sailing from China to Europe must currently follow a transit through the congested Strait of Malacca and the Suez Canal which is 5000 nautical miles longer than the northern route. The opening up of Arctic resources vital for China’s long term outlook is also a major driver in this initiative.
In preparation for resource development, China and Russia created a Russian Chinese Polar Engineering and Research Center in 2016 to develop capabilities for northern development such as building on permafrost, creating ice resistant platforms, and more durable icebreakers. New technologies needed for enhanced ports, and transportation in the frigid cold was also a focus. China additionally has a 30% stake in the Yamal LNG Project and the ‘Power of Siberia’ 3000 mile pipeline to China is 99% complete and will soon be the primary supplier of China’s oil and natural gas needs.
Where the Belt Goes, the Road Follows
While the Belt and Road features two components (land and sea), the fact is that they are inextricably connected. Rails, ports and other civilization-building practices driven by a belief in scientific and technological progress have given this design a power and flexibility to adapt to every nation’s chosen developmental pathways. This is the mysterious “secret ingredient” to the BRI’s powerful adaptability which boggles the minds of closed-minded geopoliticians who can only think in zero-sum terms.
Scientific and technological progress, when shaped by the intention to uphold the common good represent UNIVERSAL requirements for human survival and satisfy a creative yearning at the deepest core of all people. Without this commitment to the continual improvement of productive powers of society and quality of life, a society will always be divided by the localized self interest of its parts fighting for their own short term benefits. Such has been the fate of the west as it embarked upon a consumer society driven by a “post-industrial mode of existence” after the assassinations of the 1960s and floating of the US dollar in 1971.
This concept of the common development of mankind both as a whole and in all of its parts was echoed recently by Xi Jinping who stated:
“China is ready to jointly promote the Belt and Road Initiative with international partners. We hope to create new drivers to power common development through this new platform of international cooperation; and we hope to turn it into a road of peace, prosperity, openness, green development and innovation and a road that brings together different civilizations.”
The BRI summit closed on April 27 with 37 Heads of State, and over 5000 leading participants from the public and private sector. Billions of dollars in BRI contracts were signed and the ideas that will carry humanity into the coming decades were displayed brilliantly. The future orientation of the BRI and the Russia-China alliance doesn’t stop with Earth based development, but extends also towards space exploration and colonization of other planetary bodies such as the Moon and Mars development programs to which both China and Russia have committed to in recent months.
The cage of delusions holding the Trans-Atlantic system together is cracking ever faster by the day with Trump’s continued fight against the British-run Deep State producing surprises such as the US-China collaboration during China’s historic landing on the far side of the moon on January 3, and his recent appeals for China-US-Russian cooperation. Following Italy’s lead, patriotic forces in Switzerland and Luxembourg signed MOUs with China’s Belt and Road creating a precedent for more Trans-Atlantic nations to jump on board the new emerging paradigm.
The Trump administration’s response to China’s emergence has been to throw all sorts of spanners in the works, but tariffs won’t bring back manufacturing jobs
Let’s start with the “long” 16th Century – which, as with the 21st, also saw a turbulent process of marketization. At that time, the Jesuits and the Counter-Reformation were trying to rebound across Asia – but within a context where the rivalry between the Iberian superpowers of the age, Spain and Portugal, still lingered.
The Reformation first attached itself to the Dutch trade thalassocracy – a seaborne empire, under which commerce was paramount – over strict propaganda of religious dogma. Britain’s maritime realm was still biding its time. The emergence of Protestantism proceeded in parallel to the emergence of neo-Confucianism in East Asia.
Fast forward to our turbulent times. Marketization – renamed as globalization – seems to be in crisis. But not in the Middle Kingdom, which is now investing in globalization 2.0 amid increasing rivalry with the other superpower, the US.
Meanwhile, the re-emergence of Right populism in the West mirrors the re-emergence of pragmatic neo-Confucianism across Asia.
BRI – the prime vehicle for Eurasia integration – would have never come to light without China’s four decades of breakneck economic development.
My sharpest and most informed geopolitical readers, such as the wonderfully enigmatic Larchmonter, are in synch with my running conversations – for years now – with top analysts in Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan; following the Obama administration’s fuzzy “pivot to Asia”, the Trump administration’s response to China’s emergence has been to throw all sorts of spanners in the works.
Thus, the current hysteria over tariffs, the trade offensive, the demonization of BRI, Made in China 2025 and Huawei’s 5G dominance, and all manner of disruptive Hybrid War tactics such as repeatedly claiming “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea to progressive weaponizing of Taiwan.
All that duly fueled by non-stop hatchet jobs on media outlets, as in branding Huawei as “suspect” or “permanently untrustworthy”.
From the point of view of the hyperpower, there can be only one possible endgame: an amputated, permanently crippled and preferably non-stop aching Chinese economy – with unfavorable demographics to boot.
Pause on the sound and fury for necessary precision. Even if the Trump administration slaps 25% tariffs on all Chinese exports to the US, the IMF has projected that would trim just a meager slither – 0.55% – off China’s GDP. And America is unlikely to profit, because the extra tariffs won’t bring back manufacturing jobs to the US – something that Steve Jobs told Barack Obama eons ago.
What happens is that global supply chains will be redirected to economies that offer comparative advantages in relation to China, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Laos. And this redirection is already happening anyway – including by Chinese companies.
BRI represents a massive geopolitical and financial investment by China, as well as its partners; over 130 states and territories have signed on. Beijing is using its immense pool of capital to make its own transition towards a consumer-based economy while advancing the necessary pan-Eurasian infrastructure development – with all those ports, high-speed rail, fiber optics, electrical grids expanding to most Global South latitudes.
The end result, up to 2049 – BRI’s time span – will be the advent of an integrated market of no less than 4.5 billion people, by that time with access to a Chinese supply chain of high-tech exports as well as more prosaic consumer goods.
Anyone who has followed the nuts and bolts of the Chinese miracle launched by Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping in 1978 knows that Beijing is essentially exporting the mechanism that led China’s own 800 million citizens to, in a flash, become members of a global middle class.
There are no illusions in the Zhongnanhai, as there are no illusions in Tehran or in the Kremlin. These three top actors of Eurasian integration have exhaustively studied how Washington, in the 1990s, devastated Russia’s post-USSR economy (until Putin engineered a recovery) and how Washington has been trying to utterly destroy Iran for four decades.
Beijing, as well as Moscow and Tehran, know everything there is to know about Hybrid War, which is an American intel concept. They know the ultimate strategic target of Hybrid War, whatever the tactics, is social chaos and regime change.
The case of Brazil – a BRICS member like China and Russia – was even more sophisticated: a Hybrid War initially crafted by NSA spying evolved into lawfare and regime change via the ballot box. But it ended with mission accomplished – Brazil has been reduced to the lowly status of an American neo-colony.
Let’s remember an ancient mariner, the legendary Chinese Muslim Admiral Zheng He, who for three decades, from 1405 to 1433, led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, reaching Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah, Mogadiscio, Mombasa, bringing tons of goods to trade (silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, iron tools, leather utensils).
That was the original Maritime Silk Road, progressing in parallel to Emperor Yong Le establishing a Pax Sinica in Asia – with no need for colonies and religious proselytism. But then the Ming dynasty retreated – and China was back to its agricultural vocation of looking at itself.
They won’t make the same mistake again. Even knowing that the current hegemon does not do “win-win”. Get ready for the real hardcore yet to come.
On Sunday April 28, 2019, a symposium was held in Montreal Canada dealing with the unified growth of cultural optimism, beautiful art and economic development as it is being manifested today with the New Silk Road in Asia, Africa and beyond.
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Symposium on Cultural Optimism, Art and the New Silk Road held in Montreal Canada - Fort Russ
On Sunday April 28, 2019, a symposium was held in Montreal Canada dealing with the unified growth of cultural optimism, beautiful art and economic development as it is being manifested today with the New Silk Road in Asia, Africa and beyond. Presentations were given by a pianist, a dancer, and a pai
The global trend in international relations is often difficult to discern. But one can be helped in this task by looking at two events, organized in Washington and Beijing, comparing the different themes, participants, objectives, and broached for discussion. After all, we are talking about the two largest economies in the world, two colossi directing and shaping global culture, behavior and world opinion.
The last few weeks have offered the international community an opportunity to reflect. Two events took place in Washington and Beijing that, in terms of impact, depth, participation and issues discussed, are striking contrasts.
In Beijing at the Belt and Road Forum over 40 world leaders discussed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a project that will transform the entire Eurasian continent, improving free trade between dozens of countries by investing in transport infrastructure as well as in energy and technological cooperation. The leader of this silent industrial revolution is China’s Xi Jinping, casting ancient ambitions and perspectives into the new millennium, anxious to once again acquire the leading role in global civilization.
The BRI is a gigantic project that will continue to expand in the years to come and at the rate the current technology allows, while of course remaining cognizant of the needs of the countries involved in the Chinese project. The numbers of participants at Beijing’s BRI event are astonishing, with more than 5,000 delegates, 37 heads of state (including that of G7 member Italy), and 10 of the most important members of ASEAN. A hundred and twenty-five countries have signed intentions to cooperate grand project, and 30 organizations have ratified 170 agreements that total a projected investment by the People’s Bank of China of over 1.3 trillion dollars from 2013 to 2027. This is what Robin Xing, Morgan Stanley’s Chief China Economist said:
“China’s investment in B&R countries will increase by 14% annually over the next two years, and the total investment amount could double to $1.2-1.3 trillion by 2027.”
It is a revolutionary project that will characterize the next few decades if not centuries. It will offer a stark contrast to the American drive for hegemonic domination by demonstrating the capacity of humanity to overcome conflicts and wars through cooperation and shared prosperity.
Washington is left demanding loyalty in exchange for nothing (but with Donald Trump, even this little is uncertain). Unable to inflict damage on Russia and China, the US focuses on pressuring her European allies through a trade war of duties, tariffs, technological bans ( Huawei’s 5G) and sanctions (against Iran and European banks) in order to favor US companies.
Reflecting the moral of Aesop’s fable “The North Wind and the Sun”, Beijing behaves in the opposite manner, offering in the BRI project win-win cooperation and the benefits that accrue from this. The project tends to improve people’s living standards through the huge loans extended to improve such basic infrastructure as railways, schools, roads, aqueducts, bridges, ports, internet connectivity and hospitals. Beijing aims to create a sustainable system whereby dozens of countries cooperate with each other for the collective benefit of their people.
The Eurasian continent has struggled over the last few decades to attain the same level of wealth as the West as a result of wars of aggression and economic terrorism committed by countries in search of a utopian global hegemony.
The Chinese initiative aims to offer to all the countries involved equal opportunities for development based not on military and/or economic power but on a real capacity to improve the well-being of all parties involved.
As Asia Times explained in an excellent article on Beijing’s most recent BRI forum:
“BRI is now supported by no less than 126 states and territories, plus a host of international organizations. This is the new, truthful, realistic face of the “international community” – bigger, more diversified and more representative than the G20.”
This Chinese initiative could have only taken place in a post-unipolar world with multiple centers of power. Washington is perfectly aware of the changes that have occurred over the last 10 years, and the accompanying change in attitude of policy makers can be seen in the drafting of two documents that are fundamental for every US administration, namely, the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and the National Defense Strategy (NDS).
These two documents explain how the United States sees the world and what it intends to do to fight the emerging multipolar world order. Compared to Obama and his administration, Trump, Bolton and Pompeo are more anchored to the current reality, understanding well that Russia and China are their equal militarily. Obama, of course, infamously dismissed Russia as a regional power no more than five years ago.
Trump cannot afford a conflict with Venezuela, Iran or North Korea, whether militarily or politically. In the case of Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil do not seem too keen on sacrificing themselves on behalf of Washington; and there are no jihadists to arm and launch against defenseless civilians as happened in the Middle East, so there is no force in the field capable of defeating a strongly patriotic nation dedicated to resisting US imperialism. Attacking Iran would result in a devastating Iranian response targeting US troops deployed in dozens of bases scattered throughout the Middle East and inflicting losses that would be too costly for Washington, making any gains made pyrrhic. As for North Korea, Kim cannot be touched thanks to nuclear deterrence.
What remains for Trump and his neocons are empty threats of war, documents declaring Russia and China as opponents to be defeated, and a great deal of war propaganda for the purposes of filling up the coffers of US arms manufacturers.
And now we come to the event organized in Washington as Beijing was busy discussing how to revolutionize three-quarters of the globe. The Brookings Institute, a think tank, organized a meeting that lasted several hours to discuss “The future of US extended deterrence“, focussing on the tools needed to deal with an attack from America’s opponents.
Anyone who has any experience with such conferences knows that it is often companies linked to the arms industry that fund such events, thereby encouraging speakers, guests and politicians to take a very hawkish line for the purposes of scaring the population into justifying an increase in arms spending.
This is exactly what happened at the event organized by Brookings, where the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense from the Trump administration, David Trachtenberg, explained to the audience how the US nuclear deterrent is now coming to the end of its life cycle after a period of 30, 40 or 50 years. The Undersecretary did not mention the overall figure that would be needed to modernize Washington’s entire nuclear triad (estimates put the figure at around a trillion dollars) and preferred instead to speak about a general increase in the defense budget of $60-70 billion dollars to begin to address the problems.
Often the numbers do not prove everything but are nevertheless useful in helping us better understand certain events. Former US President Jimmy Carter provided a useful explanation for how the Chinese came to surpass the United States:
“The US is the most warlike nation in the world, forcing other countries to adopt our American principles. How many miles of high-speed railroads do we have in this country? China has around 18,000 miles (29,000 km) of high speed rail lines while the US has wasted, I think, $3 trillion on military spending; it’s more than you can imagine. China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure, you’d probably have $2 trillion leftover; we’d have high-speed railroads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of, say, South Korea or Hong Kong.”
Washington pressures its allies to join in seeking to damage Washington’s adversaries but ends up pushing allies and opponents closer together, as occurred when it walked away from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) agreement with Iran while the Europeans remained committed to it. Washington may be able to lean on European allies for the time being, but with the vast BRI project increasingly attracting the attention of Europeans, these days may be numbered, especially with the BRI project bringing the prospect of doing away with the US dollar as a reserve currency necessary for trade between countries.
Trump and his administration are acting in a multipolar context as if they are still in a unipolar one, behaving like a hegemonic superpower that does not care about the consequences of its actions, even against allies. This arrogant attitude will come back to bite the United States, not only undermining its economy but also the viability of the US dollar remaining as the global reserve currency.
By Trump behaving like a bull in a china shop, friends and enemies alike are forced to seek ways to counterbalance the United States economically and militarily. Of course Europe still remains subservient to the US, but other countries not in Washington’s good books seem to have understood the historical period we are going through, preferring dialogue and balancing between powers (a typical example being Erdogan’s Turkey, which is in neither camp but uses both for its own purposes) rather than an absolute declaration of loyalty to one side or the other.
China and Russia are perfectly comfortable operating in today’s fluid geopolitical environment, as this gives them the opportunity to offer countries resisting Washington’s hegemony the military and economic means to persevere and eventually prevail. It is an extremely effective strategy as it places before Washington red lines that cannot be crossed, reducing or eliminating the possibility of a new conflict (something that perhaps even Trump basically appreciates, given that this remains the last election promise that he has not yet broken).
Observing these two conferences held in Beijing and Washington within a week of each other, with their contrasting emphases, only highlights the differences between these two countries. On one side, China seeks integration, cooperation and development for the collective benefit of almost three billion people. On the other side, we see the US discussing the modernization of its nuclear triad, whose only contribution to humanity is its ability to wipe it out, only there to bully and intimidate those not prepared to kowtow to Washington’s diktats.
The new rules proposed by Xi Jinping and expressed by the BRI’s political economic practices are exactly what the best American patriots fought for, Matthew Ehret argues.
Since Donald Trump’s 2016 election, waves of strange paradoxes have presented themselves to the world. With the blatant collaboration of nominally “American” forces from the CIA, FBI, NSA, the Pentagon, and MSM who conspired directly with international agencies such as the Five Eyes and MI6 to overthrow Trump, it has become evident that there isn’t one single America, but rather two opposing forces within America acting against each other. So what really is the “real” America? When Donald Trump calls for US-China-Russia collaboration, is that just an anomaly or is something truly American being expressed?
In reviewing some history, you might be shocked to discover that the Belt and Road Initiative is more American than the America which the world has come to know over the past 50 years.
The American Revolution as an International Struggle
The fact that the American Revolution was an international affair is made evident by the fact that without the collaboration of the leadership of Russia, France, as well as many powerful forces in Poland, Spain, Germany the revolution could never have succeeded. Catherine the Great led the League of Armed Neutrality ensuring arms and funding to the rebelling colonies while the great Polish general Kosciusko working with German and French military officers were organized to help train and lead the American farmers during this battle.
American support was not limited to Europe however, as the South Indian Mysore rebellion against the British East India Company was organized by pro-American Muslim leader Hyder Ali which tied up British troops from being deployed to America. Ali was so admired that American poems were written about him and in 1780 a sixteen gun war ship was set from Philadelphia to do battle with the British Navy named the Haidar Ali. In Africa, under Emperor Sidi Mohammed’s direction, Morocco was the first nation to recognize American independence in 1777. The nation also harbored American ships, protecting them from British-controlled Barbary pirates with George Washington later writing letters of thanks to the Sultan of Morocco.
Many of these international forces were organized over decades by the brilliant planning of Benjamin Franklin who wrote extensively that America should model itself on the best principles of Confucianism and even argued for the modelling of America’s civil service upon China’s meritocracy. Franklin’s discoveries in electricity were directly tied to his concept of natural law and statecraft earning him the reputation of the “Prometheus of America”. Even the greatest artists of Europe such as Mozart, Schiller, and Beethoven were inspired by the idea that the American experience was merely the precursor to a new age of reason that would soon liberate Europe from the shackles of oligarchism. Not only was Schiller’s great poem Ode to Joy an homage to this hope for a brotherhood of mankind, but so was Beethoven’s later musical expression of it in his 9th Symphony.
The Sabotage of the New Paradigm
While some United Empire Loyalists left the USA to set up English-speaking Canada (creating a British-controlled beachhead in the Americas ever since), some traitors such as Aaron Burr (VP under Jefferson) chose to stay behind and work to undermine America from within by killing American System founder Alexander Hamilton and setting up Wall Street as a Junior partner to the City of London. These networks are the roots of today’s anglophile Deep State.
As the spirit of American republicanism in Europe was crushed under the British-sponsored Jacobin Terror, Napoleonic wars and then the iron fist of monarchism with the 1815 Congress of Vienna, British-Deep State puppets increasingly dominated America, advancing a program of imperial thinking and slavery throughout the 1830s-1850s leading into the Civil War. A leading proponent of the true American spirit was Lincoln’s bodyguard William Gilpin, who played an instrumental role as Governor of Colorado during the Civil War. With a vision of Lincoln’s transcontinental railway extended to Asia, Gilpin famously said:
“Salvation must come to America from China, and this consists in the introduction of the “Chinese constitution” viz. the “patriarchal democracy of the Celestial Empire”. The political life of the United States is through European influences, in a state of complete demoralization, and the Chinese Constitution alone contains elements of regeneration. For this reason, a railroad to the Pacific is of such vast importance, since by its means the Chinese trade will be conducted straight across the North American continent. This trade must bring in its train Chinese civilization. All that is usually alleged against China is mere calumny spread purposefully, just like those calumnies which are circulated in Europe about the United States”.
China’s “founding father” Sun Yat-sen, an avowed follower of Abraham Lincoln composed his International Development of China (1920) calling for international construction of rail, ports and resources from China throughout Eurasia connecting to Europe and Russia (a precursor to today’s BRI). In his work he echoed Gilpin’s vision by saying “The nations which will take part in this development will reap immense advantages. Furthermore, international cooperation of this kind cannot but help to strengthen the Brotherhood of Man.”
The Spirit of the New Paradigm Sabotaged Again and Again and Again…
In the wake of the Civil War, (and British orchestrated murder of Lincoln from Montreal Canada), Gilpin and other Lincoln allies such as William Sumner, and Ulysses S. Grant fought to spread the “American System of Political Economy” across the world and nearly succeeded in fulfilling what the American Revolution failed to do with Russia’s Alexander II applying this system to build the Trans-Siberian rail, American statesmen helping to build rail and national credit under the Meiji Restoration in Japan, and pro-American forces in Germany, France and beyond industrializing themselves with rail, national credit, protective tariffs and industrial growth programs. Gilpin went the furthest in illustrating this grand design with his 1890 book “The Cosmopolitan Railway” uniting all continents in railways and calling for something which looks a lot like the Belt and Road Initiative today.
Envisioning this new just world order of sovereign republics cooperating on the common aims of humanity, Gilpin wrote: “The civilized masses of the world meet; they are mutually enlightened, and fraternize to reconstitute human relations in harmony with nature and with God. The world ceases to be a military camp, incubated only by the military principles of arbitrary force and abject submission. A new and grand order in human affairs inaugurates itself out of these immense concurrent discoveries and events”
British-orchestrated assassinations and wars aborted the birth of this new era however. The 20th century was shaped by a battle between opposing forces within America. On the one side were true patriots fighting to return to the global vision of win-win cooperation and on the other side, anglophile traitors of the Deep State.
Although valiant efforts to end the cold war and usher in this new paradigm were made by John F. Kennedy, Charles De Gaulle and later Robert Kennedy, the Anglo-American alliance grew over their dead bodies and a hellish growth of empire unfolded from 1968 onward. While bold opposition to this New World Disorder occasionally arose from nationalist leaders in Africa, Asia and Latin America, very little was done to keep this torch alive from within America itself aside from the considerable efforts of American economist Lyndon LaRouche. As the British-Deep State gained dominance of the Trans-Atlantic during the NAFTA-1990s and Post-911 world, a new system had been quietly forming to finalize what the American Revolution had sought to do in 1776.
A New Opportunity with the BRI
Surprisingly, it was at one of the darkest hours in humanity’s experience that this new hope began to show its full power. As the collapsing bubble of a banking system was compelling a desperate elite to risk nuclear war with the newly formed alliance of Russia and China, the New Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) was announced presenting an incredible opportunity to avoid thermonuclear extinction by changing the “rules of the game”. Echoing the spirit of William Gilpin and Sun Yat-sen, China’s President Xi Jinping recently said:
“To respond to the call of the times, China takes it its mission to make new and even greater contribution to mankind. China will work with other countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind, forge partnerships across the world, enhance friendship and cooperation, and explore a new path of growing state-to-state relations based on mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. Our goal is to make the world a place of peace and stability and life happier and more fulfilling for all.”
These new rules proposed by Xi Jinping and expressed by the BRI’s political economic practices are exactly what the best American patriots fought for, and so the question becomes: will America finalize the intention of the American Revolution by work by joining the New Silk Road or fail to recognize its own destiny?
Pepe ESCOBAR, Luang PRABANG
The small wooden boats slowly make their way down the brown waters of the Mekong at sunset. Flowing meditation – just enjoying the silence, watching the river flow. Then, suddenly, in the distance, an apparition – a row of cement Ts.
Like a high-tech divinity, the 21st century irrupts across the immemorial Mekong, which in Laos is appropriately named Mae Nam Khong or the Mother of Waters.
Welcome to the China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor, one of the key planks of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
It’s tempting to regard the bridge as a post-modern naga. In the inestimable The Enduring Sacred Landscape of the Naga, published by Mekong Press, Lao scholars Mayoury and Pheuiphanh Ngaosrivathana track the literally fantastic world of animated beings in the Mekong basin – totemized reptiles such as the serpent, or ngu, the salt-water crocodile (ngeuak) and supernatural beings such as the naga.
These tutelary spirits, controllers of water and rainfall, local proprietors of the soil and guardians of its fertility, wealth and welfare – these are the autochthonous spirits tamed by Buddhism collectively known as naga. Worship of the naga – in rituals, festivals, daily life – has shaped the lives and life cycles of Mekong populations for millennia.
The new naga will take the form of Made in China high-speed trains – for passengers of course, but mostly for cargo – crossing the Mekong back and forth and crucially bypassing the Maritime Silk Road along the South China Sea.
The numbers by the Lao Ministry of Public Works and Transport are impressive – the Kunming-Vientiane high-speed railway, started in 2016 and to be completed in 2021, features 72 tunnels, 170 bridges and will have trains speeding along at 160 km an hour.
The China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor is one of the six main BRI corridors identified back in March 2015. These are BRI’s land arteries – the backbone of an intricate, integrated continental landmass featuring multiple layers of transportation, telecom, energy infrastructure, financial, trade, political and economic projects and agreements.
Northern Laos, a maze of mountains, jungles and a few rivers, for a long time was virtually isolated until the opening of borders with Vietnam and China led to immense economic and demographic transformations – with traditional rice-based agriculture giving way to speculative commercial agriculture.
Laos is landlocked between powerful neighbors China and Thailand.
A North-South economic corridor has been the favored strategy by both China and Thailand to develop commerce, tourism and investments in Laos. Mountain people minorities linked to Chinese culture such as the Chin Haw, Akha, Yao and Hmong, who speak Lao and know Lao culture, were cast as the perfect intermediaries and partners.
Especially in the BRI era, connections with China, both in the formal and informal economy, are now overtaking connections with Thailand. Vientiane – not exactly a transparent government – has encouraged Chinese investments of extremely dubious value in luxury hotels, malls and casinos in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) along the Chinese border.
At the same time, Chinese companies have been pouring billions of dollars into the productive development of these SEZs, as well as in dams, mines and rubber plantations.
Railway on track
But that still pales compared to the more than 40,000 Chinese working for six Chinese contractors, in six different segments, duly supervised by Huang Difu, chairman of the Laos-China Railway Company and general manager of China Railway International.
The railway will be 70% financed by Beijing, the remaining 30% for Vientiane – roughly $840 million – are supported by a low-interest Chinese loan of $500 million. A Lao bauxite mine plus three potash mines secure the Chinese loan.
Kunming-Vientiane is a stark example of how BRI projects usually face a maze of political and financial hurdles. The original design, from 2011, predates the New Silk Roads, which were launched in 2013. Much of the problems have to do with the toxic land for development equation – a situation not much different in Cambodia and Myanmar.
In Luang Prabang, I was told of countless cases of villagers forced to leave their homes and who are still waiting for fair compensation from Vientiane. In Laos there are a dizzying 242 different categories of compensation – spanning everything from mango trees five years of age or older, to hardwood and teak trees less than one year old, not to mention crucial land in main transportation hubs.
In fact, the former royal capital – a fragile jewel that must be preserved from the mass tourism hordes at all costs – receives more attention from the EU and Asean, not to mention Unesco, than from the bureaucrats in Vientiane.
All these worries at least disappear every single morning at the binthabat, or rice-collecting ritual, when rows of Buddhist monks are offered rice in their earthen bowls by rows of women on their knees.
In Global South terms, Laos is booming. In mainland Southeast Asia, the Chinese strategy is mostly focused on Laos and Thailand. Beijing expects that the lure of those cross-border SEZs is able to convince skeptical Vietnam and Myanmar of Chinese “flexibility.”
Much more than interest rates on Chinese loans – which in fact are small – the red alert on BRI-related projects in Laos concerns the environmental impact, and the fact that Laos is a poor, landlocked transit nation, it may be paying in the future a disproportionate social and environmental cost for projects that mainly benefit the Chinese economy.
A sharp contrast is offered by Ock Pop Tok, or East meets West in Lao, an indigenous model of fair trade, sustainable business, socially conscious enterprise founded by a Lao and an Englishwoman in 2000, managed by women, and for the benefit of Lao women.
Ock Pop Tok started with five weavers and now links to more than 500 in villages across Laos. Textile production in Laos carries an immensely significant cultural value. Technical and esoteric knowledge has been transmitted from generation to generation in each village specific to a subgroup, a powerful sign of strong cultural identity.
Silk has been cultivated in Laos for more than 1,000 years. Ock Pop Tok managed to assemble master weavers using techniques practiced by the Tai Kadai ethnic group since 800 BC, when they left Yunnan.
Everything, of course, is bio – natural dyes, handmade. I could not resist an absolutely stunning silk prayer flag weaved by Meng. Support for this added-value artisan knowledge translates into rural populations staying in their communities instead of betting on a usually troublesome urban exodus.
Ock Pop Tok also promotes Hmong artisans. Hmongs are animists who came from Tibet and Mongolia by the early 19th century. There are more than 49 ethnic groups in Laos. Westerners classify them by language – Mon, Khmer, Sino-Tibetan, Tai, Kadai – while in Laos they are recognized by where they live – on the plains, in plateaus or high in the mountains.
It’s this extremely complex, fragile, social and environmental system that from 2021 will have to learn to coexist with the era of the high-speed naga.
Going into to this month’s BRI Forum (titled “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”), 5000 participants, including 37 heads of state, and 100 heads of organisations will discuss the mega projects that will give vitality to the coming century with the Chinese leadership and business community.
The post The Second Belt and Road Forum: A Transformation of the World Economic Order appeared first on Fort Russ.
In order to respond to the threat of foreign interference, the Minister of Global Affairs Canada announced the creation of a “democratic” five person body staffed entirely with unelected senior bureaucrats from the Privy Council Office under the control of the Clerk of the PCO which will act as a new Propaganda bureau to determine what Canadians are and are not allowed to know.
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Although having died in 2015, Strong’s life and legacy are worth revisiting as it provides the modern reader a powerful, albeit ugly insight into the methods and actions of the British-Deep State agenda that so mis-shaped world history through the latter half of the 20th century.
The post Revisiting ‘Climate Change’: Why Has the West Destroyed its Own Industrial Base? appeared first on Fort Russ.
"today is for us a very important day, in which the Made in Italy is winning, Italian firms are winning. We made a step to help our economy to grow. Italy came first with China." -Minister for Economic Development Luigi Di Maio
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