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Will the Trade War Lead to Real War with China?

Will the Trade War Lead to Real War with China?

Chas Freeman

Five hundred years ago, Hernán Cortés began the European annihilation of the Mayan, Aztec, and other indigenous civilizations in the Western Hemisphere.  Six months later, in August 1519, Magellan [Fernão de Magalhães] launched his circumnavigation of the globe.  For five centuries thereafter, a series of Western powers — Portugal, Spain, Holland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and, finally, the United States — overturned preexisting regional orders as they imposed their own on the world.  That era has now come to an end.

In the final phases of the age of Western dominance, we Americans made and enforced the rules.  We were empowered to do so in two phases.  First, around 1880, the United States became the world’s largest economy.  Then, in 1945, having liberated Western Europe from Germany and overthrown Japanese hegemony in East Asia, Americans achieved primacy in both the Atlantic and Pacific.  Almost immediately, the Soviet Union and its then-apparently-faithful Asian companion, Communist China, challenged our new sphere of influence.  In response, we placed our defeated enemies (Germany, Italy, Japan), our wartime allies, and most countries previously occupied by our enemies under American protection.  With our help, these countries — which we called “allies” — soon returned to wealth and power but remained our protectorates.  Now other countries, like China and India, are rising to challenge our global supremacy.

Trump, joined by other U.S. officials, receives Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Oval Office, January 2019 (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour via Flickr )

Trump receives Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Oval Office, January 2019 (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour via Flickr )

President Donald Trump has raised the very pertinent question: Should states with the formidable capabilities longstanding American “allies” now have still be partial wards of the U.S. taxpayer?  In terms of our own security, are they assets or liabilities?  Another way of putting this is to ask: Do our Cold War allies and their neighbors now face credible threats that they cannot handle by themselves? 

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

Unhinged Mike Pence Warns of ‘New Holocaust’ as Team Trump Tries to Rally EU Leaders for War With Iran

Unhinged Mike Pence Warns of ‘New Holocaust’ as Team Trump Tries to Rally EU Leaders for War With Iran

“Can someone remind me how things turned out the last time the U.S. pushed flimsy evidence of a nuclear weapons program in the Middle East and tried to bully its allies into supporting its policy?”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a U.S.-led summit about the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland on Thursday. (Photo: VP/Twitter)

Speaking at a U.S.-led conference about the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland on Thursday, Vice President piled on the potent anti-Iran sentiment surrounding the conference by demanding that European Union (EU) allies withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump ditched last year, and accused Iran of plotting a “new Holocaust.”

“Instead of recognizing the U.S.’ failed Iran policy, Pence is doubling down in his search for an excuse to go to war.”
—NIAC

Pence accused Iran of being “the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world” and “the greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East” while attempting to shame European leaders over their recent “effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions…against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.”

His speech was met with a mix of frustration and alarm:

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

How Many Minutes to Midnight?

How Many Minutes to Midnight?

Consider it a marriage made in hell. Start with the groom, Donald Trump, the man who once wondered why in the world we make nuclear weapons if we can’t use them; who wouldn’t rule out using nukes, even in Europe; who insisted that a president should be “unpredictable” on the subject; who suggested that it might not be “a bad thing for us” if Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea all became nuclear powers; who threatened North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” before he became a chummy correspondent with its dictator; and who called for a nearly 10-fold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal (among many other, often contradictory, comments he’s made on nuclear matters).

Now, think about the bride, National Security Advisor John Bolton, a “statesman” who never saw a nuclear agreement he didn’t want to nuke. Those included President Richard Nixon’s Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, President Bill Clinton’s Agreed Framework with North Korea, President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal (all of which he helped to deep-six), and most recently President Ronald Reagan’s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, Treaty (a pact that had actually resulted in thousands of ready-to-use nuclear weapons being scrapped). With the help of his neocon bro, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Bolton recently succeeded in sticking a knife directly in the back of that treaty. He’s undoubtedly now eying the New START treaty, which put limits on long-range nukes and is up for renewal in 2021. (The president has already called it “one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration.”)

As TomDispatch regular and former Boston Globe columnist James Carroll points out today, the first new member of Trump’s and Bolton’s nuclear family, a “low-yield” nuke, was only recently born and given the less-than-apocalyptic name, W76-2.

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

US accuses China of preparing for WWIII: What you’re not being told

US accuses China of preparing for WWIII: What you’re not being told

US accuses China of preparing for WWIII: What you’re not being told

The military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, Beijing, China, September 3, 2015 © Reuters / Damir Sagolj 

A Republican senator has accused China of preparing for World War III. Like most of Washington’s statements concerning China, the lawmaker has completely ignored the US’ role in creating such a scenario in the first place.

Just last week, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma made the allegation that China’s military was preparing for World War III.

It’s like you’re preparing for World War III,” he said during a Senate hearing focused on the so-called challenges presented by Russia and China. “You’re talking to our allies over there and you wonder whose side they’re going to be on.

According to Inhofe, the US has sat back and watched as China has built its military presence in the South China Sea, turning artificial islands into potential launch pads for its military.

The idea that the US has sat back and watched anything, ever, in the history of the world, is somewhat laughable. Even under the Obama administration, the president had an explicit containment strategy which was supposed to enclose and encircle China from all angles. The so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) was also designed for this purpose (yet for some reason Donald Trump, who is overtly anti-Chinese, thought the agreement was a bad idea).

Inhofe also said he was “concerned” that “our message” was “not getting across.”

China getting the “message” loud and clear

I don’t mean to be base, but perhaps the problem in the China-US relationship is that the message is getting across – loud and clear. The US has pushed the expansion of NATO up to and around Russia’s borders. It has invaded and bombed Iraq, Syria (miraculously occupying one-third of Syrian territory, including its most oil-rich region), Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and even the Philippines.

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

The Mother of All Bombs: U.S. Foreign Policy

The Mother of All Bombs: U.S. Foreign Policy

Following the horrific destruction left in the wake of World War II, the United Nations in its seminal and founding document, the Charter of the United Nations, set out to prevent future wars among member nations. The Charter’s admonition against war was also voiced in the lessons learned from the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals in its condemnation of war: “starting or waging a war against a territorial integrity, political independence or sovereignty of a state, or violation of international treaties or agreements.”  are crimes against peace  and “makes all war crimes possible.”

The few and the wealthy of many nations are no longer constrained by rules that categorize civilized and enlightened behavior toward other nations such as Venezuela and Iran. They’ve had many nations in their crosshairs and have met with much “success.” Their attacks against Venezuela’s sovereignty are the final nail in the coffin of the endless wars, and the preparation for war, that are now all the rage among the sycophants of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Venezuela is absolutely no threat to the U.S., and therefore, the U.N. Charter prohibits the kinds of dangerous and lethal idiocy that the Trump administration is now orchestrating against Venezuela. Readers need to consider that presidents are viewed in a positive light when they are seen as acting in a presidential manner, i.e., threaten or incite war against other nations. Recall the popularity of the newly elected Trump when he ordered the use of the mother of all bombs against Afghanistan. The bipartisan talking heads in the U.S. loved that theatre (“Trump Drops The Mother Of All Bombs On Afghanistan,” New Yorker, April 14, 2017).

Even billionaire Michael Bloomberg got in on the act of Venezuela bashing in his attacks against mild reformers of the political system like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren:

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

Goodbye to the Dollar

Goodbye to the Dollar

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

The inept and corrupt presidency of Donald Trump has unwittingly triggered the fatal blow to the American empire—the abandonment of the dollar as the world’s principal reserve currency. Nations around the globe, especially in Europe, have lost confidence in the United States to act rationally, much less lead, in issues of international finance, trade, diplomacy and war. These nations are quietly dismantling the seven-decade-old alliance with the United States and building alternative systems of bilateral trade. This reconfiguring of the world’s financial system will be fatal to the American empire, as the historian Alfred McCoy and the economist Michael Hudsonhave long pointed out. It will trigger an economic death spiral, including high inflation, which will necessitate a massive military contraction overseas and plunge the United States into a prolonged depression. Trump, rather than make America great again, has turned out, unwittingly, to be the empire’s most aggressive gravedigger.

The Trump administration has capriciously sabotaged the global institutions, including NATO, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF, which provide cover and lend legitimacy to American imperialism and global economic hegemony. The American empire, as McCoy points out, was always a hybrid of past empires. It developed, he writes, “a distinctive form of global governance that incorporated aspects of antecedent empires, ancient and modern. This unique U.S. imperium was Athenian in its ability to forge coalitions among allies; Roman in its reliance on legions that occupied military bases across most of the known world; and British in its aspiration to merge culture, commerce, and alliances into a comprehensive system that covered the globe.”

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

The Coming US-China Proxy War In Venezuela

The Coming US-China Proxy War In Venezuela

China won’t give up on embattled Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro anytime soon even as the US-led international noose of “delegitimizing” hangs around the socialist strongman, according to government statements released on Friday. Beijing reaffirmed it maintains “normal state-to-state relations” and cooperation between the two sides “shouldn’t be undermined no matter how the situation evolves,” according to press briefing by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Or rather, we could more simply translate: with billions of dollars in credit on the line, “non-interference” is simply not an option for China

Image via CNN Chile

“China has maintained close communication with all parties through different ways,” a ministry spokesperson said in response to question about whether China has had contact with National Assembly leader Juan Guaido. “We are ready to work with all parties to promote peace talks, and create favorable conditions for the proper settlement of the Venezuelan issue,” the ministry added. 

But then there’s the not so minor issue of China over the past decade lending over $50 billion to Caracas as part of an oil-for-loan agreements program. It underscores just how quickly what appears a new White House full court press for regime change could bring Washington again into indirect conflict with both China and Russia. And in total Venezuela owes “more than $120 billion just to China and Russia” FOX reported this week. 

A new Wall Street Journal report outlines what’s at stake, and the mounting costs for Beijing:

When China hatched the first of a series of oil-for-loans agreements with Venezuela in 2007, it seemed like a perfect match. Venezuela had the world’s biggest oil reserves; China was poised to become the biggest energy consumer.

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

Tolstoy on War: The Systemic Vision of a Tragedy

Tolstoy on War: The Systemic Vision of a Tragedy

Leon Tolstoy set his novel, “War and Peace” (1867) during the Napoleonic invasion of Russia of 1812. But he had not witnessed that war — rather, Tolstoy had fought in another senseless and bloody war, the Crimean War (1853-1856), an experience that deeply influenced his thought. Tolstoy had a deep vision of the tragedy that wars are and his viewpoint is similar to our modern one based on statistics, although obtained by intuition only. Above, a painting by Vasilii Nesterenko (2005) that celebrates the Russian defense of Sevastopol in 1855.

From Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” (1867)
To us it is incomprehensible that millions of Christian men killed and tortured each other either because Napoleon was ambitious or Alexander was firm, or because England’s policy was astute or the Duke of Oldenburg wronged. We cannot grasp what connection such circumstances have with the actual fact of slaughter and violence: why because the Duke was wronged, thousands of men from the other side of Europe killed and ruined the people of Smolénsk and Moscow and were killed by them.

To us, their descendants, who are not historians and are not carried away by the process of research and can therefore regard the event with unclouded common sense, an incalculable number of causes present themselves. The deeper we delve in search of these causes the more of them we find; and each separate cause or whole series of causes appears to us equally valid in itself and equally false by its insignificance compared to the magnitude of the events, and by its impotence—apart from the cooperation of all the other coincident causes—to occasion the event.

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

Trump’s trade war isn’t about trade anymore — it’s plainly about beating China in the next great war

Trump’s trade war isn’t about trade anymore — it’s plainly about beating China in the next great war

Trump defense bill
President Donald Trump.
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  • President Donald Trump’s trade war with China started with tariffs and talk of trade deficits but quickly moved to addressing deep US national-security concerns about Beijing spying and stealing technology.
  • In 2018, the US’s trade deficit with China ballooned to $344 billion, but China is thought to cost the US as much as $600 billion a year through intellectual-property theft.
  • In the next great war, the country that masters artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and the internet of things will essentially bring guided-missile destroyers to a sailboat fight.
  • For this reason, most insiders and China watchers agree that Beijing’s forced technology transfer must end, and Trump is actually having some success on that front.

President Donald Trump’s Thursday chat with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House revealed something that insiders have long known: Trade figures like the deficit are red herrings, and the real fight between China and the US is over the future of tech and, by extension, who will win the next world war. 

While Trump drones on about the trade deficit, his trade war with China also seeks to fundamentally restructure the relationship between the world’s two economic superpowers. 

And the key here isn’t trade stats or even economics broadly, but national security. 

In the next great war, the country that masters artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and the internet of things will essentially bring guided-missile destroyers to a sailboat fight.

With that in mind, here’s what the White House said Trump and Liu talked about (emphasis added): 

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

China, Russia Preparing For “Blackout Warfare” With “Super-EMP” Bombs

China, Russia Preparing For “Blackout Warfare” With “Super-EMP” Bombs

Russia, China and several other nations are developing powerful high-altitude nuclear bombs that can produce super-electromagnetic pulse (EMP) waves capable of knocking out critical electronic infrastructure, according to several declassified 2017 reports from the now-defunct Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from EMP Attack (see below). 

“Foreign adversaries may aptly consider nuclear EMP attack a weapon that can gravely damage the U.S. by striking at its technological Achilles Heel, without having to confront the U.S. military,” reads the report, which notes how foreign actors could use EMP attacks virtually anywhere in the world. 

“Super-EMP” weapons, as they are termed by Russia, are nuclear weapons specially designed to generate an extraordinarily powerful E1 EMP field. Super-EMP warheads are designed to produce gamma rays, which generate the E1 EMP effect, not a big explosion, and typically have very low explosive yields, only 1-10 kilotons … Even EMP hardened U.S. strategic forces and command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) systems are potentially vulnerable to such a threat. –Firstempcommission.org



 

Nuclear EMP attack is part of the military doctrines, plans, and exercises of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran for a revolutionary new way of warfare against military forces and civilian critical infrastructures by cyber, sabotage, and EMP,” the report continues. 

“The Commission sees the high-altitude nuclear explosion-generated electromagnetic pulse as an existential threat to the survival of the United States and its allies that can be exploited by major nuclear powers and small-scale nuclear weapon powers, including North Korea and non-state actors, such as nuclear-armed terrorists.” 

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

Antiwar Hero Medea Benjamin Disrupts Venezuela Coup Circle Jerk

Antiwar Hero Medea Benjamin Disrupts Venezuela Coup Circle Jerk

Before they launch missiles, they launch narratives. Before they drop bombs, they drop talking points. Before they implement crushing starvation sanctions, they demonize and condemn. Before they invade, they propagandize. Before the killing starts, manipulation paves the way.

For this reason, the front line of any antiwar movement is a fight against the establishment narratives about disobedient nations that are aggressively promulgated by the political/media class. And right now one of the very most adept Americans at doing that is an activist named Medea Benjamin.

Benjamin once again displayed her knack for getting her message seen in high-profile spaces in a way that grabs attention and punches through cleanly and concisely as she crashed the warmongering bloviations of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting of the Organization for American States (OAS) in Washington, DC.

Following a speech in which Pompeo regurgitated already established Trump talking points referring to Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro as the “former president”, accusing him of being “economically incompetent”, “profoundly corrupt” and “undemocratic to the core,” Benjamin cut off his applause by standing at the end of the council room with a sign reading “OAS: DON’T SUPPORT A COUP IN VENEZUELA” and decrying the Trump administration’s attempts to topple the Venezuelan government.

“Don’t support the coup!” Benjamin shouted. “A coup is not a democratic transition! Do not listen to Secretary Pompeo! Do not support the coup! Do no support the coup in Venezuela!”

“We call on the OAS to support the democratically elected leader and work for a negotiated solution,” Medea continued to yell as security staff cajoled her out of the room. “Coups only bring more violence, war and destruction!”

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

Russia, Israel and the Values of “Western Civilization” – Where Is the Truth?

Russia, Israel and the Values of “Western Civilization” – Where Is the Truth?

First, what’s the deal with this obsession about bombing entire nations back into the “stone age”?

Very interesting article in RT today: “IDF chief turned PM candidate touts body count & bombing Gaza into ‘stone age’ in campaign ad” (please read the full thing – it is short and very enlightening). When I saw that, I immediately had a flash back to a (truly brilliant, if evil) US diplomat, James Baker, who promised Iraqi Prime Minister Tarik Aziz (whom the Empire kept in jail until his death in spite of the fact that 79 year old man suffered from depression, diabetes, heart disease, and ulcers) that the Empire would “bring it back to the stone age“.

Benny Gantz – the new face of “Western civilization”?

Now, Benny Gantz is your typical Israeli Zionazi nutcase with all that entails, but this can hardly be said of James Baker who was one of the most educated and brilliant diplomats the US ever produced. So what’s this thing about bringing those who dare defy the AngloZionist Empire back to the “stone age”. Coincidence? You tell me!

I sure don’t think so.

The Israeli butchery in Gaza enjoyed the massive support of the Israeli people who even organized special “viewing locations” for the joy of seeing Palestinian civilians (the vast majority of the people the Israelis murdered in Gaza) massacred. Which is not very different from the way the Americans (and their European vassals) organized “viewing locations” in their TV sets for the joy of seeing Iraqi civilians (the vast majority of the people the US and its vassals murdered in Iraq) massacred. The difference is only in numbers: in Gaza the Israelis only murdered “only” about 1500 Palestinians whereas the US can pride itself on having massacred well over a million Iraqis.

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

World War 3 Alert: Iranian Forces Fire Rockets Into Israel, And The IDF Responds With “Waves Of Guided Missiles”

World War 3 Alert: Iranian Forces Fire Rockets Into Israel, And The IDF Responds With “Waves Of Guided Missiles”

Israel and Iran are edging dangerously close to a state of all-out war.  On Sunday night, Israeli forces rained missiles down on Iranian forces based in the Damascus area “for nearly an hour”.  According to the IDF, this was a response to “dozens” of missiles that were fired by Iranian forces in Syria toward targets in Israel earlier that day.  The Israelis were able to intercept the Iranian missiles, but if any of them had gotten through they could have caused a tremendous amount of damage.  Some of the missiles that Israel fired at the Iranians were reportedly intercepted, but quite a few of them did hit their intended targets. If the violence continues to escalate, we could potentially soon be talking about an all-out war between Israel and Iran in which both sides use their weapons of mass destruction.

The missile strikes against Iranian targets in Damascus made headlines all over the globe.  According to Syrian state media, there were “consecutive waves of guided missiles”

Syrian state media cited a Syrian military source as saying Israel launched an “intense attack through consecutive waves of guided missiles”, but that Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the “hostile targets”.

Witnesses in Damascus said loud explosions rang out in the night sky for nearly an hour.

The Syrians are boasting that they were able to destroy quite a few of the Israeli missiles, but independent observers confirm that quite a few Iranian targets were destroyed.

In the past, the Israelis have not always publicly acknowledged their attacks in Syria, but on Sunday night they released an immediate statement

“We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory,” Israel’s military said in a statement.

“We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory.”


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

What are the chances of a war that would exterminate most of humankind? It could be more likely than you may think

What are the chances of a war that would exterminate most of humankind? It could be more likely than you may think

Recently, together with my coworkers I have been engaged in a statistical analysis of war over the past 600 years. The results were sobering: war, it seems, is a statistical phenomenon similar to earthquakes and forest fires. It strikes according to well defined statistical patterns and there is very little that can be done about it. Aaron Clauset is another scientist who has been working on the same subject and, in a sobering analysis of his, he calculates the probablities of future wars. According to his calculations, a war as large as the Second World War has more than 40% chances to occur within 100 years from now. Then, a war causing more than billion battle deaths, that is exterminating most of humankind, has a probability of 5% to occur in less than 4 centuries from now. That doesn’t mean we can relax for 4 centuries, not at all. It means we can expect it at any moment in the future.

From Aaron Clauset, 2018. (highlighting mine)

…. a stationary model may be used to estimate the likelihood of a very large war occurring over 100 years, one like the Second World War, which produced x* = 16,634,907 battle deaths. Using the ensemble of semiparametric models for the sizes of wars and assuming a new war onset every 1.91 years on average (43), the probability of observing at least one war with x* or more deaths is p* = 0.43 ± 0.01 (Monte Carlo), and the expected number of these events over the next 100 years is 0.62 ± 0.01. Hence, under stationarity, the likelihood of a very large war over the next 100 years is not particularly small.

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

Shut Down the War Machine!

Shut Down the War Machine!

The time has come to cut the US military down to size.

Last November, the Pentagon admitted what critics have known for years: It cannot pass an audit that would let Congress, the media and taxpayers know what it does with the trillions of dollars that have been lavished on war and preparing for war by this country.

By all accounts, the US accounts for more than a third of all global military spending. The next biggest spender on its military, China, only spends a fifth as much as the US. And remember, as a full-fledged police state and a country whose peripheral provinces have to be kept under tight military control lest they move towards independence from Beijing, much of China’s huge military is actually involved not in threatening other countries or even defending China, but in maintaining government control domestically. Russia’s military spending, which actually declined last year, is actually lower than for tiny Saudi Arabia, which can’t even control tiny neighboring Yemen without vast assistance and military aid from the United States.

Let’s be honest: The United States faces no significant threat from any nation in the world.

Sure I know: Russia and even China have nuclear weapons that, if launched en masse at the US could destroy this country. But everyone knows such an action would be to commit national suicide. With its vast nuclear arsenal stowed in patrolling submarines, in protected silos ready to be fired off in minutes, and in bases around the world, including some quite close to China’s and Russia’s borders, the US not only could destroy both countries many times over in response, but is actually able and prepared to attack either country or both countries first, perhaps even preventing them from retaliating successfully (See Michio Kaku’s and Daniel Axelrod’s excellent and terrifying book…

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

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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