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The global Trumpquakes that are shaking the world

The arrival of a new US President intent on overturning the established world order has triggered a succession of crisis, some engineered by him, some engineered by his opponents within the US ‘Deep State’ as they seek to disrupt his initiative for a new detente with Russia.

Andrew Korybko

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Donald Trump’s first two weeks in office as President of the United States have been characterized by diplomatic and geopolitical confusion as the “new boss” sets forth to completely upend the global order.

Most foreign leaders don’t understand Trump, nor the New Populism (American variant) that he represents, and they seem to have totally underestimated his capabilities and those of his staff.

Many foreign dignitaries and conventional analysts presumed that he’d be like “any other American politician” – lots of talk and no action – but those who understand what Trump and his team are really about knew better than to fall for such pre-inaugural fantasies.

The reality, as the world has evidently realized by now, is that the impact of President Trump on the global system has been akin to an earthquake – or Trumpquake, as some are calling it – and this has played out across both the diplomatic and geopolitical spheres, albeit for different reasons and to different ends.

Diplomatic Trumpquakes

To talk about the first one, it’s already been highly publicized how Trump withdrew from the TPP, has promised to renegotiate NAFTA, and wants to reorganize NATO – all three of which have drawn massive criticism from the ruling Western elite whom “Trump’s Lenin” – Stephen Bannon – wants to essentially overthrow anyhow.

Trump hasn’t hidden his disdain of the EU and German Chancellor Merkel either, and he has even appointed an anti-EU individual – Ted Malloch – as his country’s representative to the bloc.

Moreover, his latest phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were fraught with controversy. Trump threatened a limited military incursion against America’s southern neighbor – in what his administration insists was a “lighthearted” remark – if it doesn’t crack down on “bad hombres” (drug dealers and the like) and even allegedly hung up on the Prime Minister “Down Under” because he kept insisting that the US honor a “refugee”/illegal immigrant deal that Obama agreed to last year.

Geopolitical Trumpquakes

Self-Inflicted:

On the geopolitical front, Trump’s already ruffled quite a few feathers with Iran and China, though this was entirely predictable and was earlier forecast in an immediate post-election article I wrote entitled “Here’s What Trump’s Foreign Policy Will Look Like”.

It was also built upon in a subsequent radio analysis for Context Countdown focusing on the three most important themes which will come to define 2017.

These are the intended geopolitical disruptions which Trump and his team have already started to carry out, but the other part of the Geopolitical Trumpquakes are those disturbances which aren’t necessarily the result of the new President’s policies, but are time bombs ‘gifted’ to him by his predecessor’s “deep state” (permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies) and tasked with possibly going off in order to offset the President’s hinted-at plans for a New Détente with Russia in the New Cold War.

To explain, the identity-diverse swath of Europe between the Baltic and Black Seas which Polish imperialist leader Jozef Pilsudski referred to as the “Intermarium” is on the verge of exploding into a series of semi-connected conflicts which could sabotage the Russian-American rapprochement.

Sabotage:

I have written extensively about the various Hybrid War scenarios which could break out in the Balkans in a related series for Oriental Review, and regretfully, many of them seem to be presently unfolding in the region.

Albanians in the NATO-occupied Serbian Province of Kosovo have brought the region to the brink of a continuation conflict, and the unresolved political crisis in the Republic of Macedonia is giving space for yet another attempt at overthrowing the government, be it through a Color Revolution, parliamentary maneuvering, and/or an Albanian terrorist insurgency.

Elsewhere in the Balkans, Bosnia remains continuously only edge as Sarajevo works with its Western patrons to infringe on Republika Srpska’s constitutional sovereignty and trigger its own type of continuation war, perhaps together with Croatia and NATO.

These three interlinked conflict scenarios are dangerously veering towards the realm of imminent possibility, and they’re all conditioned on stopping Russia’s and China’s planned Balkan megaprojects through the region, which are the Balkan Stream gas pipeline and the Balkan Silk Road high-speed railway, respectively.

The end game in this region appears to be the “Balkanization” of the Balkans and its division into a collection of ethno-centric states along the lines of the proposal most recently lobbied for by former British diplomat Timothy Less, which basically formalizes “Greater Albania” at Serbia, Macedonia, and Montenegro’s expense, and dissolves the frail federation of Bosnia along the lines of its three constitutional constituents.  Suffice to say, it’s unlikely that this would ever happen without a major war.

Looking past the former Yugoslavia, neighboring Romania is in the throes what is undoubtedly a Color Revolution, albeit one which has been unleashed for as-yet uncertain geopolitical motivations.

One of the possibilities could be to trigger a chain reaction of destabilization that would travel northwards to Moldova and contribute to the rekindling of the Transnistria conflict, which could very easily lead to the involvement of the Russian troops stationed there and instantly prompt fears of a larger war.

Beyond the Balkans, Kiev has restarted its aggression against Donbass in order to both distract Russia from its diplomatic initiatives in the Mideast and also to provoke it to conventionally intervene and thus undermine the prospects that the US will reach a new form of détente with it in the near future.

As all of this is happening, Belarus appears to have moved to the brink of ‘defecting’ from Russia and pivoting towards the West, which would truly represent a decisive military-strategic setback for Moscow if it fully materializes.

Towards A Literally “New” World Order

The Diplomatic and Geopolitical Trumpquakes – both those that are self-inflicted by Trump and the ones which are time bombs set by Obama-Clinton’s “deep state” – are having the cumulative effect of totally disrupting the two competing world orders and leading to unprecedented volatility in global affairs.

Obama and his post-Cold War forerunners’ intentions were always to secure the US’ unipolar hegemony across the world, while the mid-2000s saw the rise of the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership and their joint efforts to construct a Multipolar World Order to oppose the New World Order of unipolarity first unveiled by Bush Sr..

Trump is also enthralled with unipolarity and American Exceptionalism, except his campaign remarks indicated that he recognized the limits of the US’ conventional force projection capabilities and hinted that he would help America adapt to the changing international global conditions of multipolarity through a forthcoming New Détente with Russia which could thus facilitate more concrete “containment” measures against Iran and China.

Trump’s “Third Way” – promoting unipolar goals within an increasingly multipolar world – is at odds with the ‘legacy’ ideology of the US’ “deep state”, which sees any sort of pragmatism with Russia, no matter what its ultimate grand strategic ends may be, as absolutely anathema and something which must be stopped at all costs.

Trump and his team are of course working around the clock and behind the scenes to either co-opt, professionally neutralize, or replace hostile “deep state” elements, though this is a far-reaching and ambitious task which will take years to fully accomplish. Having said that, some of the antagonistic forces which Trump now presides over are intent on sabotaging any realistic prospect that he could ever reach a New Détente with President Putin, which explains the “sudden” and near-synchronous outbreak of so many preplanned and predictable crises.

Under the “expected” geopolitical conditions of what they presumed would be a Clinton Presidency by this point, these geopolitical time bombs may not have been activated all at once and could have been strategically unleashed on a case-by-case need depending on the specific circumstances.

In the state of panic which the hostile elements of the “deep state” presently find themselves, however, they’ve felt compelled to activate all of these crises-on-demand throughout the “Intermarium” in order to sabotage the New Détente.

They may not go as far as throwing all of their weight behind the eruption of several full-fledged simultaneous wars, but the strategy of tension which they’ve masterfully deployed might be enough to sharply revive the fading distrust between both sides and preclude any possibility of their hoped-for rapprochement, especially if armed hostilities commence in the Balkans and Russia and the US predictably find themselves backing opposite sides.

The two Great Powers might even have a rapid falling out simply through the natural disagreements that they’ll have with one another in diplomatically resolving these crises the longer that they play out, unless, of course, my previously elaborated “worst-case scenario” enters into force whereby Moscow is engages in a series of concessions out of desperation to clinch a New Détente.

Concluding Thoughts

There’s no escaping the fact that a series of Global Trumpquakes have rocked the globe and are threatening to completely upend both the preexisting (unipolar) and planned (multipolar) world orders through the emergence of Trump-Bannon’s “Third Way”.

The American President has proudly initiated a spree of Diplomatic Trumpquakes in seeking to shake up the order of business within the US’ sphere of influence with the hope of making it much more efficient and in line with his “America First” ideology.

This is admittedly fraught with a bunch of risk, but the US’ chief decision maker and his closest advisors seem to have calculated that it’s better to proactively seize the moment in radically reforming the system than to have its broken leadership structure eventually cave in underneath them just like the Soviets’ did at the end of the Old Cold War (and likely brought about by similar forthcoming foreign pressures).

On the other hand, the Geopolitical Trumpquakes fall into two categories – those which are self-inflicted by Trump himself and the ones which are “deep state” sabotage.

The first relate exclusively to Asia and are aimed at pushing back against the all-around multipolar progress of China and Iran, striving to take advantage of Trump’s envisioned New Détente with Russia in Europe (ergo why there’s no self-inflicted Trumpquake in this part of Eurasia) in order to split the Resistance Bloc along the lines of how Nixon’s “Opening To China” in the 1970s divided the communist one.

As for the second category of Geopolitical Trumpquakes, these are caused by adversarial elements within the American “deep state” in order to sabotage their President’s outreaches to Russia by sparking a slew of simultaneous crises in order to keep them apart.

What all of these Trumpquakes have in common, however, is that they’re major shocks to both the existing and evolving world orders, and collectively represent the manifestation of global chaos.

It was inevitable that far-reaching instability would come to define the transition from unipolarity to multipolarity, and such a trend was obviously visible long before Donald Trump ever stepped onto the American political scene, but few could have predicted that it would be exacerbated by the US dramatically “reforming” its Western sphere of influence and simultaneously being undermined abroad by its own “deep state” elements because of this.

DISCLAIMER: All personal views are my own and do not necessarily coincide with the positions of my employer (Sputnik News) or partners unless explicitly and unambiguously stated otherwise by them. I write in a private capacity unrepresentative of anything and anyone except for my own personal views. Nothing written by me should ever be conflated with Sputnik or the Russian government’s official position on any issue.

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Russian Il-20 downed by Syrian missile. Russia blames Israel. Israel blames Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The unthinkable has happened in Syria.

The world now teeters on the brink of all out war in Syria as a Russian Il-20 was downed by Syrian missile after Israeli F-16s used it as cover during attack, according to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

President Vladimir Putin, answering a reporter’s question during a press conference with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, said the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances.” 

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tripwire triggered that has the potential to tip the fragile balance in Syria towards conflict between Russia, Iran and Israel.

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The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said…

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean.

The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region.”

The statement further said that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result…

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”

According to reports from RT, the Russian military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,”the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Meanwhile Israel has come out to blame the Syrian government for the downing of the military plane, according to an IDF statement.

Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Bashar Assad “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident.

Israel further blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that its jets were targeting a Syrian facility “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Israel claimed that the weapons were “meant to attack Israel.”

Via RT

The IDF assumed that the Syrian anti-air batteries “fired indiscriminately” and didn’t “bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The Israelis said that when the Syrian military launched the missiles which hit the Russian plane, its own jets were already within Israeli airspace. “During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.”

According to the Israeli military, both IDF and Russia have “a deconfliction system,” which was agreed upon by the leadership of both states, and “has proven itself many times over recent years.” The system was in use when the incident happened, the IDF stated. The IDF promised to share “all the relevant information” with Russia “to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

The military presented a four-point initial inquiry into events in Latakia. It insisted that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire caused the Russian jet “to be hit and downed.”

The Russian Il-20 aircraft, with 15 crew on board, went off radar during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province late Monday. Later on Tuesday the Russian Defense Ministry said that an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile.

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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