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Steve Bannon’s China Syndrome reveals America’s jealousy of a China that is ‘great again’

Steve Bannon made the controversial remarks shortly before he plans to speak in China.

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During Donald Trump’s successful campaign to become President of the United States, both Trump and his then adviser Steve Bannon spoke a great deal about the following:

–Increasing exports 

–Increasing the sales of US made products domestically 

–Increasing employment 

–Increasing the wages of the domestic workforce 

–Seeing trade in economic rather than ideological terms 

Now, Steve Bannon has criticised China for effectively implementing each of the items listed above. 

In a recent interview with the New York Times, the once and future king of the US media outlet Breitbart has delivered a morose, provocative and at times absurd assessment of modern China, all the while ignoring the elephant in the room. The elephant of course is the fact that ‘making America great again’, in many ways meant ‘making America more like China’.

Since the 1978 reforms of Deng Xiaoping, China has become an economic powerhouse. While much of China’s initial post-78 growth was based on exports, China is increasingly cultivating its affluent domestic consumer base, just as the United States did in the 1920s and even more so in the economic boom which hit the American domestic markets after 1945.

China’s immense industrial capacity has seen Chinese exports dominate world markets both because of their generally competitive prices as well as because of their increased quality. Whereas in 1990, ‘Made in China’ was often derided as a moniker which meant ‘not as good as German or Japanese made goods’. Increasingly, ‘Made in China’ is the world’s latest mark of excellence.

In terms of quality alone, many American electronics and car manufacturers had lost the race to Europe and East Asia dating back to the 1970s, when Toyotas and Volkswagens started becoming known as affordable cars that were durable while Mercedes-Benz and high quality German electronic brands such as Revox, outpaced their US rivals in terms of both quality and reliability.

As China was still a mostly agrarian economic for much of the 1970s and into the 1980s, one can hardly blame China for having outpaced not only the America of the 1950s and 1960s, but also the West Germany and Japan of the 1970s and 1980s.

One might even recall a time when the pro-US entity of Chinese Taipei (commonly referred to as Taiwan) was selling more to the US than China. Those days are gone. China may have started the race last, but it is finishing first.

These simple realities of global trade however, seem to imply something different to Steve Bannon. Bannon said the following about modern China,

“A hundred years from now, this is what they’ll remember — what we [it is not clear who ‘we’ is, in this context] did to confront China on its rise to world domination.

China right now is Germany in 1930. It’s on the cusp. It could go one way or the other. The younger generation is so patriotic, almost ultranationalistic”.

Bannon’s rant continued,

“China’s model for the past 25 years, it’s based on investment and exports. Who financed that? The American working class and middle class. You can’t understand Brexit or the 2016 events unless you understand that China exported their deflation, they exported their excess capacity.

“It’s not sustainable. Bannon declared. The reordering of the economic relationship is the central issue that has to be addressed, and only the U.S. can address it”.

There are several points of speculation on Bannon’s part which defy commonly understood fact. First of all, far from not being sustainable, China is developing cheap and highly effective green energy products, including solar technology, which is set to make China increasingly energy self-sufficient. China is also looking to set a date for the elimination of all cars which run on fossil fuels from its expanding roadways.

Even before one realises that China’s green technology is among the most export friendly sustainable energy product line in modern history, by cutting energy costs, China is already ahead of the US which has generally shunned sustainable energy, something which is increasingly apparent under Donald Trump.

The old argument that green technology is a money loser has been challenged by China and in this respect, China has defied the odds and made green energy both efficient and cost effective.

Secondly, China’s One Belt–One Road seeks to build on China’s export strengths by modernising and harmonising the mechanisms of world trade across both growing and flourishing economies. China has poured investment into parts of South Asia and Africa while the Middle East and South East Asia look to similarly benefit from injections of Chinese cash.

One Belt–One Road is a project that seeks to pool the strengths of all participating economies in order for each member state to attain unique benefits based on the specific needs of individual economies.

Crucially, unlike western backed trade initiatives, One Belt–One Road does not require participating states to change their internal socio-economic traditions, nor are there any demands to alter the nature of domestic governance. One Belt–One Road therefore derives its strength from its flexibility and anti-ideological nature.

While China does depend on the US as a major export market, the expanding nature of new trading markets means that in many ways, the US relies on China more than China relies on the US. In respect of the US, entire industries in both the manufacturing and service sectors depend on a reliable influx of Chinese goods. China likewise has purchased substantial amounts of US sovereign debt. It was the US which sold this to China, no one’s hand was forced in respect of such an arrangement.

Far from being un-sustainable, the prospect of China’s further growth seems to frighten individuals like Bannon who seek the markets of South East Asia, South Asia and Africa for themselves even though at this point the US has increasingly little to offer such markets.

Thirdly, the fact that China’s workforce is becoming increasingly wealthy and patriotic frightens Bannon which is ironic as Bannon has been accused of being an ‘ultranationalist’ himself. That being said, calling Bannon and the youth of China ‘ultra-nationalist’ is equally inaccurate. Bannon is something of a patriotic American and many Chinese are patriotic about their own country. There’s nothing extraordinary nor dangerous about this fact.

In respect of the South China Sea, it is clearly not an America issue to settle. It is between the states of South East Asia and their Chinese neighbour to the north. Already Philippines has made great strides on reaching an amicable settlement with China under the leadership of Rodrigo Duterte. This has led China to hail a ‘golden period’ of good relations between Beijing and Manila.

The major obstacle towards settling lingering territorial issues in the South China Sea is Vietnam, but even Vietnam’s number one trading partner is China. Ultimately, it ought to be up to a country that has good relations with both China and Vietnam to settle lingering issues and the natural choice for such a mediator is Russia, certainly not the United States.

The truth is that Deng Xiaoping along with his successors did in fact make one of the world’s oldest civilisations ‘great again’. The task of turning a  20th century China ravaged by multiple political changes, Japanese aggression and a difficult post-war period, into the economic powerhouse it is today, was a monumental endeavour.

By contrast, ‘making American great again’, while challenging, cannot be compared to Deng’s economic revolution which has catapulted China to the forefront of 21st century economic growth.

When all is said and done, perhaps the real reason that Steve Bannon seeks to undermine China is due to jealousy and little more.

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seby
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seby

The Chinese (and Russia) now know that tRump is a ponzi scheme the American people have bought and on foreign policy he is repubelican bush the III.

Nothing bambam bannon can say that will change their minds about the “fred flintstone” with greying orange hair.

GeorgeG
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GeorgeG

We have Bannon and we have China. Bannon is so stupid… one would be tempted to say that it defies belief, but nothing out of the US of A defies belief. “Bannon is something of a patriotic American…”? “Something” is nothing: Bannon is a bitterly nostalgic hegemon whose strategic brain is missing so many marbles that he doesn’t even know that it was the very same American companies whose stocks are momentarily on the rise which robbed the US middle class (which is now supposed to be happy at the exuberant “confidence” the stock prices show) looking for cheap labor… Read more »

Rastislav Veľká Morava
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Rastislav Veľká Morava

Fact: China is a communist country a dictatorship. It is severely polluted and is dependent on exports, and thereby also tied to the Western Global Banking Elite. Fact: The are record outflows from China to 5 eyes countries like Canada, Australia, West coast USA where they are buying up residential real estate and Apartments in a frenzy, desperate get their money out of China. That alone is not a sign of a healthy country, and you do not see this magnitude per capita) of outflows from anywhere else. That being said , this is no guarantee that the USA will… Read more »

tiger
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tiger

Your China book is out of date, Rasti. China is no longer a “communist…dictatorship”; it’s a mixed economy, admittedly with strong govt controls. The outflows are proof of strong capitalist activity, buying relatively cheap assets abroad (though the govt is now restricting this speculation). This is mimicked in the West by various corporations and individuals. US manufacturing, except for a few industries – weapons, farm & construction equipment, etc is hopelessly outdated. The US economy has financialised, making ephemeral profits for the few, destroying the middle class and increasing poverty. Most consumer goods are imported from China, which now has… Read more »

Rastislav Veľká Morava
Member
Rastislav Veľká Morava

Where I currently am in one of the so called five eyes Anglo Countries, I am practically in China, living among a 85+% Mandarin speaking majority. The establishment locals here have sold out their neighbourhoods to them, as well….Anything for a buck.

China is a one party system dictatorship with majority industries state owned, (directly or indirectly) and rampant pollution, hence the massive exodus of capital and searching for safe havens in the west.

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

I think you will appreciate this analysis of Bannon’s interview on 60 Minutes

GeorgeG
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GeorgeG

Many thanks for the analysis. For me, its main usefulness is the video-audio repetition of what Bannon said, which makes it incumbent on the reader/viewer to pay close attention and start asking questions. I like slow food, and I like slow reading. The body-language analysis is then mostly icing on the cake: When Bannon says McConnel insisted he didn’t want to hear the “drain the swamp” stuff, Bannon dropped his eyes. The analyst says Bannon is not entirely lying here, but he is not telling the whole truth, or he is dodging. Maybe the quote on “drain the swamp” is… Read more »

Suzanne Giraud
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Suzanne Giraud

In regards to Bannon’s knowledge of ‘money’: he once worked for Goldman Sachs. “From his Wall Street roots and apocalyptic film career to his cultivation of alt-right bigots at Breitbart News” per this TeleSUR video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HelSaMSy8HY:

worldblee
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worldblee

Preach, Adam!

K Pomeroy
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K Pomeroy

Mr. Garrie, I generally like your articles, because you leap to conclusions that are often correct. But the premise of this one is a little too cute. Believe me, making America great again cannot possibly mean to any American making our country more like China. If Washington were nuked, for example, I’d much rather be taken over by Russia than China. China is totalitarian. They have forced entire villages to move out of mountainous regions into soulless government-built cities covered with white porcelain tile. They invaded and savaged Tibet, a formerly independent country, murdering hundreds of thousands and destroying the… Read more »

GeorgeG
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GeorgeG

Might be a reading problem.

K Pomeroy
Guest
K Pomeroy

Hi GeorgeG. In case you meant a reading problem on my part, that would be fair. I’m like Eric Zuesse, who says once he reads a false sentence, he can’t read any further. Since Eric Zuesse said this in response to one of my own articles, I wrote him back saying I tend to do the same, but that it’s a bad habit, and I would try to change. I guess I haven’t changed. I stopped reading Garrie’s article after the first paragraph. Looking back over it now, I see Garrie was referring to China’s economic statistics, and not to… Read more »

Franz Kafka
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Franz Kafka

Sophistry.

K Pomeroy
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K Pomeroy

Hi Kafka. Or should I say hello … ?? My 1929 edition of Websters says sophistry means captious or fallacious reasoning. Since my comment was anecdotal (a confession, in fact) and didn’t involve any reasoning, I don’t know how to interpret your sophistry charge. Unless of course you were accusing Garrie of sophistry, in which case, well … ?!

Franz Kafka
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Franz Kafka

fkoff

K Pomeroy
Guest
K Pomeroy

What on earth have I said to offend you? Thought I was being friendly.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

I take that back then. Sorry if I have you wrong. I have just been through a full frontal kvetching by Zionists. It set me on edge.

K Pomeroy
Guest
K Pomeroy

Understand how they can get to you. Please excuse the photo I edited in. I guess things got to me too.

stevek9
Guest
stevek9

‘Not sustainable’ has nothing to do with Green. It means exchanging dollars for real goods … forever. That is presumably not sustainable.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Another brilliant economic and strategic analysis by the uniquely talented and prescient Adam Garrie. I hope to see him on Cross Talk more frequently now that they are back from much-earned holidays and co-hosting the BRICS media conference. Comments like the one below by @KPomeroy show a typical, American cognitive dissonance and an ahistorical frame of reference which is as suspect as it is highly self-serving. Bannon and his fellow historically vacuous Americans have something they are hiding: Their enormous guilt before the Third World which Kissinger consigned to annihilation with the words: “The chief task of the USA is… Read more »

pogohere
Guest

Do you have a source for: “Kissinger consigned [the Third World] to annihilation with the words: “The chief task of the USA is now the depopulation of the Third World.” Thanks.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

National Security Memo 200, dated April 24, 1974, and titled
“Implications of world wide population growth for U.S. security &
overseas interests,” says:

“Dr. Henry Kissinger proposed in his memorandum to the NSC that
“depopulation should be the highest priority of U.S. foreign policy
towards the Third World.” He quoted reasons of national security, and
because `(t)he U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of
minerals from abroad, especially from less-developed countries …
Wherever a lessening of population can increase the prospects for such
stability, population policy becomes relevant to resources, supplies and
to the economic interests of U.S.

pogohere
Guest

So far I have tracked the quote you cited, and have instituted a search for, to:

National Commission on. Materials Policy, “Towards a National Materials Policy: Basic Data and Issues, An Interim Report” (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, April 1972)

I have not found the quote (yet) in “National Security Memo 200, dated April 24, 1974, and titled “Implications of world wide population growth for U.S. security & overseas interests,”

If you have a page number or other identifier in the latter document, I would appreciate it if you’d share that.

Thanks for the source(s).

DianeKNewman
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DianeKNewman

Google pays now $99 to each worker for working on computer.You can also avail this.
on sunday I got a great new Ford Mustang from having made $9388 this – 5 weeks past . it’s certainly my favourite-job Ive ever done . I actually started 6 months ago and almost immediately started bringin in more than $99 per-hour . look at here
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Punisher 1
Guest
Punisher 1

“By contrast, ‘making American great again’, while challenging, cannot be compared to Deng’s economic revolution which has catapulted China to the forefront of 21st century economic growth.”

While in amount of work to be done you are correct. But in the ability to make the changes needed to get the job done. In that China was/is much better off. They are able to force those changes ,even if the “establishment” opposes them. In the US it appears its not possible to get “anything” positive done.And the “state” isn’t united to even try to make the changes needed.

Matt Hol
Guest
Matt Hol

Hes totally wrong on who financed it. It was internal mostly. Nothing from the US middle class. The EU is Chinas biggest trade partner, not US

Kenny Lee
Guest
Kenny Lee

Making China the bogeyman as an impediment for MAGA is a preparation for shifting blame for the oncoming failing domestic social engineering programs. Deep State, MIC and certain Globalist want concessions from China. Mutual reciprocity in trade and commerce is imbalanced favoring China, but whose fault is that? No one made any foreign manufacturer by threat of violence, to build factories and transfer technology to China. If anything it’s America’s financial elites along with the pertinent governing bodies of the American government who made all those imbalanced trade deals thereby enriching themselves at the expense of domestic American factory workers.… Read more »

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Ukraine Wants Nuclear Weapons: Will the West Bow to the Regime in Kiev?

Efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation are one of the few issues on which the great powers agree, intending to continue to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and to prevent new entrants into the exclusive nuclear club.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The former Ukrainian envoy to NATO, Major General Petro Garashchuk, recently stated in an interview with Obozrevatel TV:

“I’ll say it once more. We have the ability to develop and produce our own nuclear weapons, currently available in the world, such as the one that was built in the former USSR and which is now in independent Ukraine, located in the city of Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk) that can produce these kinds of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Neither the United States, nor Russia, nor China have produced a missile named Satan … At the same time, Ukraine does not have to worry about international sanctions when creating these nuclear weapons.”

The issue of nuclear weapons has always united the great powers, especially following the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The decision to reduce the number of nuclear weapons towards the end of the Cold War went hand in hand with the need to prevent the spread of such weapons of mass destruction to other countries in the best interests of humanity. During the final stages of the Cold War, the scientific community expended great effort on impressing upon the American and Soviet leadership how a limited nuclear exchange would wipe out humanity. Moscow and Washington thus began START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) negotiations to reduce the risk of a nuclear winter. Following the dissolution of the USSR, the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances persuaded Ukraine to relinquish its nuclear weapons and accede to the NPT in exchange for security assurances from its signatories.

Ukraine has in recent years begun entertaining the possibility of returning to the nuclear fold, especially in light of North Korea’s recent actions. Kim Jong-un’s lesson seems to be that a nuclear deterrent remains the only way of guaranteeing complete protection against a regional hegemon. The situation in Ukraine, however, differs from that of North Korea, including in terms of alliances and power relations. Kiev’s government came into power as a result of a coup d’etat carried out by extremist nationalist elements who seek their inspiration from Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. The long arm of NATO has always been deeply involved in the dark machinations that led to Poroshenko’s ascendency to the Ukrainian presidency. From a geopolitical point of view, NATO’s operation in Ukraine (instigating a civil war in the wake of a coup) follows in the footsteps of what happened in Georgia. NATO tends to organize countries with existing anti-Russia sentiments to channel their Russophobia into concrete actions that aim to undermine Moscow. The war in the Donbass is a prime example.

However, Ukraine has been unable to subdue the rebels in the Donbass region, the conflict freezing into a stalemate and the popularity of the Kiev government falling as the population’s quality of life experiences a precipitous decline. The United States and the European Union have not kept their promises, leaving Poroshenko desperate and tempted to resort to provocations like the recent Kerch strait incident or such as those that are apparently already in the works, as recently reported by the DPR authorities.

The idea of Ukraine resuming its production of nuclear weapons is currently being floated by minor figures, but it could take hold in the coming months, especially if the conflict continues in its frozen state and Kiev becomes frustrated and desperate. The neoconservative wing of the American ruling elite, absolutely committed to the destruction of the Russian Federation, could encourage Kiev along this path, in spite of the incalculable risks involved. The EU, on the other hand, would likely be terrified at the prospect, which would also place it between a rock and a hard place. Kiev, on one side, would be able to extract from the EU much needed economic assistance in exchange for not going nuclear, while on the other side the neocons would be irresponsibly egging the Ukrainians on.

Moscow, if faced with such a possibility, would not just stand there. In spite of Russia having good relations with North Korea, it did not seem too excited at the prospect of having a nuclear-armed neighbor. With Ukraine, the response would be much more severe. A nuclear-armed Ukraine would be a red line for Moscow, just as Crimea and Sevastopol were. It is worth remembering the Russian president’s words when referring to the possibility of a NATO invasion of Crimea during the 2014 coup:

“We were ready to do it [putting Russia’s nuclear arsenal on alert]. Russian people live there, they are in danger, we cannot leave them. It was not us who committed to coup, it was the nationalists and people with extreme beliefs. I do not think this is actually anyone’s wish – to turn it into a global conflict.”

As Kiev stands on the precipice, it will be good for the neocons, the neoliberals and their European lackeys to consider the consequences of advising Kiev to jump or not. Giving the nuclear go-ahead to a Ukrainian leadership so unstable and detached from reality may just be the spark that sets off Armageddon.

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Mike Pompeo lays out his vision for American exceptionalism (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 158.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda take a look at Mike Pompeo’s shocking Brussels speech, where the U.S. Secretary of State took aim at the European Union and United Nations, citing such institutions as outdated and poorly managed, in need of a new dogma that places America at its epicenter.

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Speaking in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unwittingly underscored why nobody takes the United States seriously on the international stage. Via The Council on Foreign Relations


In a disingenuous speech at the German Marshall Fund, Pompeo depicted the transactional and hypernationalist Trump administration as “rallying the noble nations of the world to build a new liberal order.” He did so while launching gratuitous attacks on the European Union, United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF)—pillars of the existing postwar order the United States did so much to create. He remained silent, naturally, on the body blows that the current administration has delivered to its erstwhile allies and partners, and to the institutions that once upon a time permitted the United States to legitimate rather than squander its international leadership.

In Pompeo’s telling, Donald J. Trump is simply seeking a return to the world that former Secretary of State George Marshall helped to create. In the decades after 1945, the United States “underwrote new institutions” and “entered into treaties to codify Western values of freedom and human rights.” So doing, the United States “won the Cold War” and—thanks to the late President George H. W. Bush, “we won the peace” that followed. “This is the type of leadership that President Trump is boldly reasserting.”

That leadership is needed because the United States “allowed this liberal order to begin to corrode” once the bipolar conflict ended. “Multilateralism has too often become viewed as an end unto itself,” Pompeo explained. “The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are. The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done.” What is needed is a multilateralism that once again places the nation-state front and center.

Leave aside for the moment that nobody actually believes what Pompeo alleges: that multilateralism should be an end in itself; that paper commitments are credible absent implementation, verification, and enforcement; or that the yardstick of success is how many bureaucrats get hired. What sensible people do believe is that multilateral cooperation is often (though not always) the best way for nations to advance their interests in an interconnected world of complicated problems. Working with others is typically superior to unilateralism, since going it alone leaves the United States with the choice of trying to do everything itself (with uncertain results) or doing nothing. Multilateralism also provides far more bang for the buck than President Trump’s favored approach to diplomacy, bilateralism.

Much of Pompeo’s address was a selective and tendentious critique of international institutions that depicts them as invariably antithetical to national sovereignty. Sure, he conceded, the European Union has “delivered a great deal of prosperity to the continent.” But it has since gone badly off track, as the “political wake-up call” of Brexit showed. All this raised a question in his mind: “Is the EU ensuring that the interests of countries and their citizens are placed before those of bureaucrats and Brussels?”

The answer, as one listener shouted out, is “Yes!” The secretary, like many U.S. conservative critics of European integration, is unaware that EU member states continue to hold the lion’s share of power in the bloc, which remains more intergovernmental than supranational. Pompeo seems equally unaware of how disastrously Brexit is playing out. With each passing day, the costs of this catastrophic, self-inflicted wound are clearer. In its quest for complete policy autonomy—on ostensible “sovereignty” grounds—the United Kingdom will likely have to accept, as the price for EU market access, an entire body of law and regulations that it will have no say in shaping. So much for advancing British sovereignty.

Pompeo similarly mischaracterizes the World Bank and IMF as having gone badly off track. “Today, these institutions often counsel countries who have mismanaged their economic affairs to impose austerity measures that inhibit growth and crowd out private sector actors.” This is an odd, hybrid critique. It combines a shopworn, leftist criticism from the 1990s—that the international financial institutions (IFIs) punish poor countries with structural adjustment programs—with the conservative accusation that the IFIs are socialist, big-government behemoths. Both are ridiculous caricatures. They ignore how much soul-searching the IFIs have done since the 1990s, as well as how focused they are on nurturing an enabling institutional environment for the private sector in partner countries.

Pompeo also aims his blunderbuss at the United Nations. He complains that the United Nations’ “peacekeeping missions drag on for decades, no closer to peace,” ignoring the indispensable role that blue helmets play in preventing atrocities, as well as a recent Government Accountability Office report documenting how cost-effective such operations are compared to U.S. troops. Similarly, Pompeo claims, “The UN’s climate-related treaties are viewed by some nations simply as a vehicle to redistribute wealth”—an accusation that is both unsubstantiated and ignores the urgent need to mobilize global climate financing to save the planet.

Bizarrely, Pompeo also turns his sights on the Organization of American States (OAS) and the African Union (AU), for alleged shortcomings. Has the OAS, he asks, done enough “to promote its four pillars of democracy, human rights, security, and economic development?” Um, no. Could that have something to do with the lack of U.S. leadership in the Americas on democracy and human rights? Yes. Might it have helped if the Trump administration had filled the position of assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs before October 15 of this year? Probably.

Equally puzzling is Pompeo’s single line riff on the AU. “In Africa, does the African Union advance the mutual interest of its nation-state members?” Presumably the answer is yes, or its members would be headed for the door. The AU continues to struggle in financing its budget, but it has made great strides since its founding in 2002 to better advance security, stability, and good governance on the continent.

“International bodies must help facilitate cooperation that bolsters the security and values of the free world, or they must be reformed or eliminated,” Pompeo declared. Sounds reasonable. But where is this “free world” of which the secretary speaks, and what standing does the United States today have to defend, much less reform it? In the two years since he took office, Donald Trump has never expressed any interest in defending the international order, much less “returning [the United States] to its traditional, central leadership role in the world,” as Pompeo claims. Indeed, the phrase “U.S. leadership” has rarely escaped Trump’s lips, and he has gone out of his way to alienate longstanding Western allies and partners in venues from NATO to the G7.

When he looks at the world, the president cares only about what’s in it for the United States (and, naturally, for him). That cynicism explains the president’s deafening silence on human rights violations and indeed his readiness to cozy up to strongmen and killers from Vladimir Putin to Rodrigo Duterte to Mohammed bin Salman to too many more to list. Given Trump’s authoritarian sympathies and instincts, Pompeo’s warnings about “Orwellian human rights violations” in China and “suppressed opposition voices” in Russia ring hollow.

“The central question that we face,” Pompeo asked in Brussels, “is the question of whether the system as currently configured, as it exists today—does it work? Does it work for all the people of the world?” The answer, of course, is not as well as it should, and not for nearly enough of them. But if the secretary is seeking to identify impediments to a better functioning multilateral system, he can look to his left in his next Cabinet meeting.

“Principled realism” is the label Pompeo has given Trump’s foreign policy. Alas, it betrays few principles and its connection to reality is tenuous. The president has abandoned any pursuit of universal values, and his single-minded obsession to “reassert our sovereignty” (as Pompeo characterizes it) is actually depriving the United States of joining with others to build the prosperous, secure, and sustainable world that Americans want.

“Bad actors have exploited our lack of leadership for their own gain,” the secretary of state declared in Belgium. “This is the poisoned fruit of American retreat.” How true. Pompeo’s next sentence—“President Trump is determined to reverse that”—was less persuasive.

 

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Russia calls on US to put a leash on Petro Poroshenko

The West’s pass for Mr. Poroshenko may blow up in NATO’s and the US’s face if the Ukrainian President tries to start a war with Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia called on Washington not to ignore the Poroshenko directives creating an active military buildup along the Ukrainian-Donbass frontier, this buildup consisting of Ukrainian forces and right-wing ultranationalists, lest it “trigger the implementation of a bloody scenario”, according to a Dec 11 report from TASS.

The [Russian] Embassy [to the US] urges the US State Department to recognize the presence of US instructors in the zone of combat actions, who are involved in a command and staff and field training of Ukraine’s assault airborne brigades. “We expect that the US will bring to reason its proteges. Their aggressive plans are not only doomed to failure but also run counter to the statements of the administration on its commitment to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

This warning came after Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic noted that the Ukrainian army was massing troops and materiel for a possible large-scale offensive at the Mariupol section of the contact line in Donbass. According to Basurin, this action is expected to take place on 14 December. TASS offered more details:

According to the DPR’s reconnaissance data, Ukrainian troops plan to seize the DPR’s Novoazovsky and Temanovsky districts and take control over the border section with Russia. The main attack force of over 12,000 servicemen has been deployed along the contact line near the settlements of Novotroitskoye, Shirokino, and Rovnopol. Moreover, more than 50 tanks, 40 multiple missile launcher systems, 180 artillery systems and mortars have been reportedly pulled to the area, Basurin added. Besides, 12 BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers have been sent near Volodarsky.

The DPR has warned about possible provocations plotted by Ukrainian troops several times. Thus, in early December, the DPR’s defense ministry cited reconnaissance data indicating that the Ukrainian military was planning to stage an offensive and deliver an airstrike. At a Contact Group meeting on December 5, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova raised the issue of Kiev’s possible use of chemical weapons in the conflict area.

This is a continuation of the reported buildup The Duran reported in this article linked here, and it is a continuation of the full-scale drama that started with the Kerch Strait incident, which itself appears to have been staged by Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. Following that incident, the president was able to get about half of Ukraine placed under a 30-day period of martial law, citing “imminent Russian aggression.”

President Poroshenko is arguably a dangerous man. He appears to be desperate to maintain a hold on power, though his approval numbers and support is abysmally low in Ukraine. While he presents himself as a hero, agitating for armed conflict with Russia and simultaneously interfering in the affairs of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, he is actually one of the most dangerous leaders the world has to contend with, precisely because he is unfit to lead.

Such men and women are dangerous because their desperation makes them short-sighted, only concerned about their power and standing.

An irony about this matter is that President Poroshenko appears to be exactly what the EuroMaidan was “supposed” to free Ukraine of; that is, a stooge puppet leader that marches to orders from a foreign power and does nothing for the improvement of the nation and its citizens.

The ouster of Viktor Yanukovich was seen as the sure ticket to “freedom from Russia” for Ukraine, and it may well have been that Mr. Yanukovich was an incompetent leader. However, his removal resulted in a tryannical regíme coming into power, that resulting in the secession of two Ukrainian regions into independent republics and a third secession of strategically super-important Crimea, who voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

While this activity was used by the West to try to bolster its own narrative that Russia remains the evil henchman in Europe, the reality of life in Ukraine doesn’t match this allegation at all. A nation that demonstrates such behavior shows that there are many problems, and the nature of these secessions points at a great deal of fear from Russian-speaking Ukrainian people about the government that is supposed to be their own.

President Poroshenko presents a face to the world that the West is apparently willing to support, but the in-country approval of this man as leader speaks volumes. The West’s blind support of him “against Russia” may be one of the most tragic errors yet in Western foreign policy.

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