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Escobar: The Real B3W-NATO Agenda

Escobar: The Real B3W-NATO Agenda

Build Back Better World aims to derail the Belt and Road Initiative, flex NATO’s muscles and harass China 24/7…

The West is the best
The West is the best
Get here and we’ll do the rest

– Jim Morrison, The End

For those spared the ordeal of sifting through the NATO summit communique, here’s the concise low down: Russia is an “acute threat” and China is a “systemic challenge”.

NATO, of course, are just a bunch of innocent kids building castles in a sandbox.

Those were the days when Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, NATO’s first secretary-general, coined the trans-Atlantic purpose: to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

The Raging Twenties remix reads like “keep the Americans in, the EU down and Russia-China contained”.

So the North Atlantic (italics mine) organization has now relocated all across Eurasia, fighting what it describes as “threats from the East”. Well, that’s a step beyond Afghanistan – the intersection of Central and South Asia – where NATO was unceremoniously humiliated by a bunch of Pashtuns with Kalashnikovs.

Russia remains the top threat – mentioned 63 times in the communiqué. Current top NATO chihuahua Jens Stoltenberg says NATO won’t simply “mirror” Russia: it will de facto outspend it and surround it with multiple battle formations, as “we now have implemented the biggest reinforcements of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War”.

The communiqué is adamant: the only way for military spending is up. Context: the total “defense” budget of the 30 NATO members will grow by 4.1% in 2021, reaching a staggering $1.049 trillion ($726 billion from the US, $323 billion from assorted allies).

After all, “threats from the East” abound. From Russia, there are all those hypersonic weapons that baffle NATO generals; those large-scale exercises near the borders of NATO members; constant airspace violations; military integration with that “dictator” in Belarus.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Escobar: The Disintegrated States Of America

Escobar: The Disintegrated States Of America

Andrei Martyanov is in a class by himself. A third wave baby boomer, born in the early 1960s in Baku, in the Caucasus, then part of the former USSR, he’s arguably the foremost military analyst in the Russian sphere, living and working in the US, writing in English for a global audience, and always excelling in his Reminiscence of the Future blog.

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Martyanov’s previous two books. In Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning, nearly three years ago he conclusively proved, among other things, how the missile gap between the US and Russia was a “technological abyss”, and how the Khinzal was “a complete game-changer geopolitically, strategically, operationally, tactically and psychologically”.

He extensively mapped “the final arrival of a completely new paradigm” in warfare and military technology. This review is included in my own Asia Times e-book Shadow play.

Then came The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs, where he went one step beyond, explaining how this “revolution”, introduced at the Pentagon by the late Andrew Marshall, a.k.a. Yoda, the de facto inventor of the “pivot to Asia” concept, was in fact designed by Soviet military theoreticians way back in the 1970s, as MTR (Military-Technological Revolution).

His new book, Disintegration, completes a trilogy. And it’s a stunning departure.

Here, Martyanov, in meticulous detail, analyzes the imperial decline thematically – with chapters on Consumption, Geoeconomics, Energy, Losing the Arms Race, among others, composing a devastating indictment especially of toxic D.C. lobbies and the prevailing political mediocrity across the Beltway. What is laid bare for the reader is the complex interplay of forces that are driving the political, ideological, economic, cultural and military American chaos.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Insider View: The Tragedy of the U.S. Deep State

Pepe Escobar explains why Henry Kissinger must have lost the diplomatic plot.

Henry Kissinger, 97, Henry the K. for those he keeps close, is either a Delphic oracle-style strategic thinker or a certified war criminal for those kept not so close.

He now seems to have been taking time off his usual Divide and Rule stock in trade – advising the combo behind POTUS, a.k.a. Crash Test Dummy – to emit some realpolitik pearls of wisdom.

At a recent forum in Arizona, referring to the festering, larger than life Sino-American clash, Henry the K. said, “It’s the biggest problem for America; it’s the biggest problem for the world. Because if we can’t solve that, then the risk is that all over the world a kind of cold war will develop between China and the United States.”

In realpolitik terms, this “kind of Cold War” is already on; across the Beltway, China is unanimously regarded as the premier U.S. national security threat.

Kissinger added U.S. policy toward China must be a mix of stressing U.S. “principles” to demand China’s respect and dialogue to find areas of cooperation: “I’m not saying that diplomacy will always lead to beneficial results…This is the complex task we have… Nobody has succeeded in doing it completely.”

Henry the K. actually must have lost the – diplomatic – plot. What Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are now involved in, full time, is to demonstrate – mostly to the Global South – how the American-enforced “rules-based international order” has absolutely nothing to do with international law and the respect of national sovereignty.

At first I had archived these Henry the K. platitudes out of sight. But then someone who used to hold a stellar position at the top of the U.S. Deep State showed he had been paying close attention.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

So Who Wants a Hot War?

Escobar: Welcome To ‘Shocked & Awed’ 21st Century Geopolitics

Escobar: Welcome To ‘Shocked & Awed’ 21st Century Geopolitics

With a Russia-China-Iran triple bitch slap on the hegemon, we now have a brand new geopolitical chessboard…

It took 18 years after Shock and Awe unleashed on Iraq for the Hegemon to be mercilessly shocked and awed by a virtually simultaneous, diplomatic Russia-China one-two.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) in Beijing, China on March 23, 2021. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency

How this is a real game-changing moment cannot be emphasized enough; 21st century geopolitics will never be the same again.

Yet it was the Hegemon who first crossed the diplomatic Rubicon. The handlers behind hologram Joe “I’ll do whatever you want me to do, Nance” Biden had whispered in his earpiece to brand Russian President Vladimir Putin as a soulless “killer” in the middle of a softball interview.

Not even at the height of the Cold War the superpowers resorted to ad hominem attacks. The result of such an astonishing blunder was to regiment virtually the whole Russian population behind Putin – because that was perceived as an attack against the Russian state.

Then came Putin’s cool, calm, collected – and quite diplomatic – response, which needs to be carefully pondered. These sharp as a dagger words are arguably the most devastatingly powerful five minutes in the history of post-truth international relations.

In For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska, we forecasted what could take place in the US-China 2+2 summit at a shabby hotel in Anchorage, with cheap bowls of instant noodles thrown in as extra bonus.

China’s millennial diplomatic protocol establishes that discussions start around common ground – which are then extolled as being more important than disagreements between negotiating parties. That’s at the heart of the concept of “no loss of face”. Only afterwards the parties discuss their differences.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Get Ready for the Next Game-Changer: the Digital Yuan

Get Ready for the Next Game-Changer: the Digital Yuan

A new, radical paradigm shift is in progress. The U.S. economy may shrink as much as 40% in the first semester of 2020. China, already the world’s largest economy by PPP for a few years now, may soon become the world’s largest economy even in exchange rate terms.

The post-Planet Lockdown world – still a hazy mirage – may well need a post-Planet Lockdown currency. And that’s where a serious candidate steps into the fray: the fiat digital yuan.

Last month, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) confirmed that a group of top banks started trials in electronic payment in four different Chinese regions using the new digital yuan. Yet there’s no timetable yet for the official launch of what is called the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP).

The man with the plan is PBOC governor Yi Gang. He has confirmed that apart from the trials in Suzhou, Xiong’an, Chengdu and Shenzhen, the PBOC is also testing hypothetical scenarios for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

While DCEP, according to Yi, “has made very good progress,” he insists the PBOC will be “cautious in terms of risk control, especially to study anti money-laundering and ‘know your customer’ requirements to incorporate in the design and system of DCEP.”

DCEP should be interpreted as the road map for China leading to an eventual, even more groundbreaking replacement of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. China is already ahead in the digital currency sweepstakes: the sooner DCEP is launched the better to convince the world, especially the Global South, to tag along.

The PBOC is developing the system with four top state-owned banks as well as payment behemoths Tencent and Ant Financial.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Total system failure will give rise to new economy

Total system failure will give rise to new economy

Covid-19 driven collapse of global supply chains, demand and mobility will painfully spawn next great tech-led economic models

Is the world on a collision course with the financial and economic equivalent of a meteor impact with shock wave?

Nobody, anywhere, could have predicted what we are now witnessing: in a matter of only a few weeks the accumulated collapse of global supply chains, aggregate demand, consumption, investment, exports, mobility.

Nobody is betting on an L-shaped recovery anymore – not to mention a V-shaped one. Any projection of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 gets into falling-off-a-cliff territory.

In industrialized economies, where roughly 70% of the workforce is in services, countless businesses in myriad industries will fail in a rolling financial collapse that will eclipse the Great Depression.

That spans the whole spectrum of possibly 47 million US workers soon to be laid off – with the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 32% – all the way to Oxfam’s warning that by the time the pandemic is over half of the world’s population of 7.8 billion people could be living in poverty.According to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) most optimistic 2020 scenario – certainly to become outdated before the end of Spring – global trade would shrink by 13%.  A more realistic and gloomier WTO scenario sees global trade plunging by 32%.

What we are witnessing is not only a massive globalization short circuit: it’s a cerebral shock extended to three billion hyperconnected, simultaneously confined people. Their bodies may be blocked, but they are electromagnetic beings and their brains keep working – with possible, unforeseen political and other consequences.

Soon we will be facing three major, interlocking debates: the management (in many cases appalling) of the crisis; the search for future models; and the reconfiguration of the world-system.

This is just a first approach in what should be seen as a do-or-die cognitive competition.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How black swans are shaping planet panic

How black swans are shaping planet panic

A case can be made that the current financial panic will only subside when the ultimate black swan – Covid-19 – is contained. 

Is the planet under the spell of a pair of black swans – a Wall Street meltdown, caused by an alleged oil war between Russia and the House of Saud, plus the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 – leading to an all-out “cross-asset pandemonium” as billed by Nomura?   

Or, as German analyst Peter Spengler suggests, whatever the averted climax in the Strait of Hormuz has not brought about so far “might now come through market forces”?

Let’s start with what really happened after five hours of relatively polite discussions last Friday in Vienna. What turned into a de facto OPEC+ meltdown was quite the game-changing plot twist.

OPEC+ includes Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Essentially, after enduring years of OPEC price-fixing – the result of relentless US pressure over Saudi Arabia – while patiently rebuilding its foreign exchange reserves, Moscow saw the perfect window of opportunity to strike, targeting the US shale industry.

Shares of some of these US producers plunged as much as 50% on “Black Monday.” They simply cannot survive with a barrel of oil in the $30s – and that’s where this is going. After all these companies are drowning in debt. 

A $30 barrel of oil has to be seen as a precious gift/stimulus package for a global economy in turmoil – especially from the point of view of oil importers and consumers. This is what Russia made possible.

And the stimulus may last for a while. Russia’s National Wealth Fund has made it clear it has enough reserves (over $150 billion) to cover a budget deficit from six to ten years – even with oil at $25 a barrel. Goldman Sachs has already gamed a possible Brent crude at $20 a barrel.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

ASSANGE EXTRADITION: Can a French Touch Pierce a Neo-Orwellian Farce?

ASSANGE EXTRADITION: Can a French Touch Pierce a Neo-Orwellian Farce?

By offering asylum to the persecuted publisher of WikiLeaks, France’s Macron would enhance his status in myriad European latitudes and all across the Global South, writes Pepe Escobar.


It’s quite fitting that the – imperially pre-determined – judicial fate of Julian Assange is being played out in Britain, the home of George Orwell. 

As chronicled by the painful, searing reports of Ambassador Craig Murray, what’s taking place in Woolwich Crown Court is a sub-Orwellian farce with Conradian overtones: the horror…the horror…, remixed for the Raging Twenties. The heart of our moral darkness is not in the Congo: it’s in a dingy courtroom attached to a prison, presided by a lowly imperial lackey.

In one of Michel Onfray’s books published last year, “Theorie de la Dictature” (Robert Laffont) – the top dissident, politically incorrect French philosopher starts exactly from Orwell to examine the key features of a new-look dictatorship. He tracks seven paths of destruction: to destroy freedom, impoverish language, abolish truth, suppress history, deny nature, propagate hate, and aspire to empire.

Michel Onfray in 2009. (Alexandre López, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

To destroy freedom, Onfray stresses, power needs to assure perpetual surveillance; ruin personal life; suppress solitude; make opinion uniform and denounce thought crimes. That sounds like the road map for the United States government’s persecution of Assange. 

Other paths, as in impoverishing language, include practicing newspeak; using double language; destroying words; oralizing language; speaking a single language; and suppressing the classics. That sounds like the modus operandi of the ruling classes in the Hegemon. 

To abolish truth, power must teach ideology; instrumentalize the press; propagate fake news; and produce reality. To propagate hate, power, among other instruments, must create an enemy; foment wars; and psychiatrize critical thinking.  

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Battle of the Ages to stop Eurasian integration

Battle of the Ages to stop Eurasian integration

Coming decade could see the US take on Russia, China and Iran over the New Silk Road connection

Iranian seamen salute the Russian Navy frigate Yaroslav Mudry while moored at Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman during Iran-Russia-China joint naval drills. The photo was provided by the Iranian Army office on December 27, 2019. Photo: AFP / HO / Iranian Army office

The Raging Twenties started with a bang with the targeted assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani.

Yet a bigger bang awaits us throughout the decade: the myriad declinations of the New Great Game in Eurasia, which pits the US against Russia, China and Iran, the three major nodes of Eurasia integration.

Every game-changing act in geopolitics and geoeconomics in the coming decade will have to be analyzed in connection to this epic clash.

The Deep State and crucial sectors of the US ruling class are absolutely terrified that China is already outpacing the “indispensable nation” economically and that Russia has outpaced it militarily. The Pentagon officially designates the three Eurasian nodes as “threats.”

Hybrid War techniques – carrying inbuilt 24/7 demonization – will proliferate with the aim of containing China’s “threat,” Russian “aggression” and Iran’s “sponsorship of terrorism.” The myth of the “free market” will continue to drown under the imposition of a barrage of illegal sanctions, euphemistically defined as new trade “rules.”

Yet that will be hardly enough to derail the Russia-China strategic partnership. To unlock the deeper meaning of this partnership, we need to understand that Beijing defines it as rolling towards a “new era.” That implies strategic long-term planning – with the key date being 2049, the centennial of New China.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

PEPE ESCOBAR: You Say You Want a (Russian) Revolution?

PEPE ESCOBAR: You Say You Want a (Russian) Revolution?

Andrei Martyanov’s latest book provides unceasing evidence about the kind of lethality waiting for U.S. forces in a possible, future war against real armies (not the Taliban or Saddam Hussein’s).

*****

Once in a blue moon an indispensable book comes out making a clear case for sanity in what is now a post-MAD world. That’s the responsibility carried by “The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs,” by Andrei Martyanov (Clarity Press), arguably the most important book of 2019.

Martyanov is the total package — and he comes with extra special attributes as a top-flight Russian military analyst, born in Baku in those Back in the U.S.S.R. days, living and working in the U.S., and writing and blogging in English.

Right from the start, Martyanov wastes no time destroying not only Fukuyama’s and Huntington’s ravings but especially Graham Allison’s childish and meaningless Thucydides Trap argument — as if the power equation between the U.S. and China in the 21stcentury could be easily interpreted in parallel to Athens and Sparta slouching towards the Peloponnesian War over 2,400 years ago. What next? Xi Jinping as the new Genghis Khan?

(By the way, the best current essay on Thucydides is in Italian, by Luciano Canfora (“Tucidide: La Menzogna, La Colpa, L’Esilio”). No Trap. Martyanov visibly relishes defining the Trap as a “figment of the imagination” of people who “have a very vague understanding of real warfare in the 21st century.” No wonder Xi explicitly said the Trap does not exist.)

Martyanov had already detailed in his splendid, previous book, “Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning,” how “American lack of historic experience with continental warfare” ended up “planting the seeds of the ultimate destruction of the American military mythology of the 20thand 21stcenturies which is foundational to the American decline, due to hubris and detachment of reality.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’

Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’ 
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, at the annual Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan last week. Photo: Asia Times / Pepe Escobar 

Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’ 

Foreign Minister Zarif sketches Iran-US relations for diplomats, former presidents and analysts


Just in time to shine a light on what’s behind the latest sanctions from Washington, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a speech at the annual Astana Clubmeeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan delivered a searing account of Iran-US relations to a select audience of high-ranking diplomats, former Presidents and analysts.

Zarif was the main speaker in a panel titled “The New Concept of Nuclear Disarmament.” Keeping to a frantic schedule, he rushed in and out of the round table to squeeze in a private conversation with Kazakh First President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

During the panel, moderator Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, managed to keep a Pentagon analyst’s questioning of Zafir from turning into a shouting match.

Previously, I had extensively discussed with Syed Rasoul Mousavi, minister for West Asia at the Iran Foreign Ministry, myriad details on Iran’s stance everywhere from the Persian Gulf to Afghanistan. I was at the James Bond-ish round table of the Astana Club, as I moderated two other panels, one on multipolar Eurasia and the post-INF environment and another on Central Asia (the subject of further columns).

Zarif’s intervention was extremely forceful. He stressed how Iran “complied with every agreement and it got nothing;” how “our people believe we have not gained from being part of” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; how inflation is out of control; how the value of the rial dropped 70% “because of ‘coercive measures’ – not sanctions because they are illegal.”

He spoke without notes, exhibiting absolute mastery of the inextricable swamp that is US-Iran relations. It turned out, in the end, to be a bombshell. Here are highlights.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

PEPE ESCOBAR: The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers

PEPE ESCOBAR: The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers

The presidential election in Argentina pitted the people against neoliberalism and the people won. What happens next will have a tremendous impact all over Latin America and serve as a blueprint for assorted Global South struggles.

South America, Again, Leads Fight Against Neoliberalism

Alberto Fernandez supporters celebrating his presidential victory in Argentina. (Screen shot/YouTube)

The presidential election in Argentina was no less than a game-changer and a graphic lesson for the whole Global South. It pitted, in a nutshell, the people versus neoliberalism. The people won – with new President Alberto Fernandez and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) as his VP. 

Neoliberalism was represented by Mauricio Macri: a marketing product, former millionaire playboy, president of football legends Boca Juniors, fanatic of New Age superstitions, and CEO obsessed with spending cuts, who was unanimously sold by Western mainstream media as the new paradigm of a post-modern, efficient politician.

Well, the paradigm will soon be evacuated, leaving behind a wasteland: $250 billion in foreign debt; less than $50 billion in reserves; inflation at 55 percent; the U.S. dollar at over 60 pesos (a family needs roughly $500 to spend in a month; 35.4 percent of Argentine homes can’t make it); and, incredible as it may seem in a self-sufficient nation, a food emergency.     

“The Head of Macri: How the First President of ‘No Politics’  Thinks, Lives and Leads.”

Macri, in fact the president of so-called Anti-Politics, No- Politics in Argentina, was a full IMF baby, enjoying total “support” (and gifted with a humongous $58 billion loan). New lines of credit, for the moment, are suspended.   Fernandez is going to have a really hard time trying to preserve sovereignty while negotiating with foreign creditors, or “vultures,” as masses of Argentines define them.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How the Houthis overturned the chessboard

How the Houthis overturned the chessboard

The Yemeni Shiite group’s spectacular attack on Abqaiq raises the distinct possibility of a push to drive the House of Saud from power

A Yemeni Shiite man holds his weapon and a flag with an Arabic inscription reading ‘Disgrace is far from us,’ as he takes part in a religious procession held by Houthi rebels to mark the first day of Ashura. Photo: Hani Al-Ansi/dpa

We are the Houthis and we’re coming to town. With the spectacular attack on Abqaiq, Yemen’s Houthis have overturned the geopolitical chessboard in Southwest Asia – going as far as introducing a whole new dimension: the distinct possibility of investing in a push to drive the House of Saud out of power.

Blowback is a bitch. Houthis – Zaidi Shiites from northern Yemen – and Wahhabis have been at each other’s throats for ages. This book is absolutely essential to understand the mind-boggling complexity of Houthi tribes; as a bonus, it places the turmoil in southern Arabian lands way beyond a mere Iran-Saudi proxy war.

Still, it’s always important to consider that Arab Shiites in the Eastern province – working in Saudi oil installations – have got to be natural allies of the Houthis fighting against Riyadh.

Houthi striking capability – from drone swarms to ballistic missile attacks – has been improving remarkably for the past year or so. It’s not by accident that the UAE saw which way the geopolitical and geoeconomic winds were blowing: Abu Dhabi withdrew from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s vicious war against Yemen and now is engaged in what it describes as a  “peace-first” strategy.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We are all hostages of 9/11

We are all hostages of 9/11

After years of reporting on the Great War on Terror, many questions behind the US attacks remain unresolved

Pakistanis raise their weapons in the border town of Bajour as they shout anti-US slogans before leaving for Afghanistan in October 2001. Thousands from this tribal area go to join the Taliban in its ‘holy war’ against the US. Photo: AFP /Tariq Mahmood

Afghanistan was bombed and invaded because of 9/11. I was there from the start, even before 9/11. On August 20, 2001, I interviewed commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the “Lion of the Panjshir,” who told me about an “unholy alliance” of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the ISI (Pakistani intel).

Back in Peshawar, I learned that something really big was coming: my article was published by Asia Times on August 30. Commander Massoud was killed on September 9: I received a terse email from a Panjshir source, only stating, “the commander has been shot.” Two days later, 9/11 happened.

And yet, the day before, none other than Osama bin Laden, in person, was in a Pakistani hospital in Rawalpindi, receiving treatment, as CBS reported. Bin Laden was proclaimed the perpetrator already at 11am on 9/11 – with no investigation whatsoever. It should have been not exactly hard to locate him in Pakistan and “bring him to justice.”

In December 2001 I was in Tora Bora tracking bin Laden – under B-52 bombers and side by side with Pashtun mujahideen. Later, in 2011, I would revisit the day bin Laden vanished forever.

One year after 9/11, I was back in Afghanistan for an in-depth investigation of the killing of Massoud. By then it was possible to establish a Saudi connection: the letter of introduction for Massoud’s killers, who posed as journalists, was facilitated by commander Sayyaf, a Saudi asset.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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