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Understanding the Chinese-Russian alliance

The summit meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin in advance of the G20 meeting in Hamburg is the latest expression of the Chinese-Russian alliance which is reshaping the modern world.

Alexander Mercouris

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As my colleague Adam Garrie has rightly written, the meetings yesterday and today in Moscow between Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia are far more important than any of the other bilateral meetings which will be taking place this week during the G20 summit in Hamburg.

Unfortunately that includes the ill-starred meeting between President Putin and President Trump.

This is the 21st meeting between Presidents Xi and Putin since President Xi became China’s leader when he was elected General Secretary of China’s Communist Party in November 2012 and became China’s President in March 2013.

I do not think that there has ever in history been such intense interaction between two leaders of two Great Powers.  Moreover we see only the tip of the iceberg.  As I have discussed previously, the Kremlin website never publishes details of President Putin’s telephone conversations with President Xi, though it is a certainty that they happen regularly.  Given the intensity of their other interactions I would not be surprised if they speak at least once a month.  Probably there is a regular schedule for their calls.

The key point about President Xi’s and President Putin’s latest meeting is that over and above the various economic agreements they are clearly coordinating their positions in advance of what is likely to be a difficult G20 summit for them both.

President Xi will be looking for President Putin’s support in his almost certainly fraught conversations with President Trump on the North Korean issue.  It is known that Trump and Xi had what appears to have been a difficult telephone conversation a few days ago, during which Xi warned Trump of the ongoing deterioration of their relations.  Here is how the Financial Times reports it

China’s president has warned Donald Trump of “negative factors” emerging in their bilateral relationship just hours after Beijing lashed out at Washington for sending a navy destroyer near a disputed island in the South China Sea. The message from Xi Jinping, made in a phone conversation with Mr Trump on Monday morning, came after the White House took a series of moves that have angered Beijing, including a $1.4bn arms sale to Taiwan and imposing sanctions on a Chinese bank for doing business with North Korea.

President Putin for his part will be looking to President Xi for support against the pressure he is likely to come under from the Western powers in respect of the Syrian and Ukrainian crises.

The two Presidents will no doubt also have much to say to each other about their respectively complex relations with India, which under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership is actively manoeuvring for advantage between the great power blocs: the Western alliance and the Russian-Chinese alliance.  I have previously set out my own views about the reasons for Prime Minister Modi’s recent actions here.  Suffice to say that I do not think that they imply any abandonment by India of its traditional policy of non-alignment or of its BRICS partners or that they portend an alliance between India and the US.

Obviously Xi and Putin would support each other on all these questions even if they had not had a prior meeting.  However prior coordination is always useful, and besides one of the purposes of the Xi-Putin meeting in Moscow is precisely to signal to the other powers the closeness between China and Russia and the fact that this coordination is taking place.

All of this brings us back to the nature of the relationship between China and Russia.  I discussed this all in a lengthy article I wrote for The Duran exactly a year ago.  Rather than repeat what I wrote there – in which I discussed the way in which China and Russia are now allies and the impact this alliance is having on international relations – I propose simply to repost this article, with a few annotations bringing it up to date


This article was first published by The Duran on 5th July 2016

Though it has received minimal attention in the West, last week Putin completed his 15th visit to China where he held intensive talks with the Chinese leadership led by Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

This came directly after Putin met Xi Jinping at the immediately preceding Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Tashkent.  According to Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, whom Putin also met in Beijing, Xi Jinping has met Putin more often than he has met any other foreign leader.

On the Russian side the talks between Putin and the Chinese leadership in Beijing did not involve Putin alone.  Putin’s meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing started as a one-to-one meeting with just the two leaders and their interpreters present.  It was then expanded to include top officials and ministers of both the Russian and Chinese governments.

Whilst we do not know the details of the topics which were discussed – and Putin and Xi Jinping avoided discussing them in open press conferences – the information we have suggests that the talks were very detailed and very wide-ranging:

“Documents signed include a declaration between Russia and China on raising the role of international law, intergovernmental agreements on cooperation on joint implementation of a programme to develop, produce, commercialise and organise after-sales service of a wide-bodied, long-haul plane and development of further models based on this plane, cooperation on a programme to build a heavy helicopter, cooperation on technology protection measures related to work together on exploring and using outer space for peaceful purposes and developing and operating launch systems and ground-based space infrastructure, and an appendix to an agreement on cooperation on building a nuclear power plant on Chinese territory and on Russia according China a state loan.

Other agreements concern coordination of joint efforts within international groups and organisations, cooperation in the forestry sector, innovation sector, securities market regulation, insurance, cooperation on localising production of high-speed rolling stock and railway equipment on Russian territory, cooperation in the oil and gas sector, cooperation between the two countries’ media outlets, and sports sector cooperation.

Also signed was a joint declaration between the Eurasian Economic Union Commission and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on the official start of talks on an agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and the People’s Republic of China.”

The last paragraph makes clear that the Chinese not only received Putin as the President of Russia.  They also received him as the de facto leader of the Eurasian Economic Union, an organisation the Western media never reports about and which as far as the Western media is concerned might as well not exist.

(Since this was written Chinese Russian industrial and technological has forged further forward.  The Russians and the Chinese have largely completed studies on their new joint short to medium range wide body aircraft of which a model has now been displayed.  

The new aircraft will use mainly Russian technology including Russian engines – almost certainly the new Kuznetsov PD30 – but will be built by a factory in China  as part of a joint venture between the two countries)

The official communiques say nothing about defence and foreign policy discussions but we can sure they took place and that the full range of international relations – Ukraine, Syria, North Korea, the South China Sea, arms control, defence etc – were discussed, as were the various projects for building a new global financial architecture independent of the US and the dollar, which the Chinese especially are pressing ahead with.  Almost certainly the reason why the Russian and Chinese leaders did not engage with the international media following their discussions is because they did not want to be asked questions about the discussions they had on these topics.

(From a Western point of view by far the most alarming single development in terms of Chinese Russian military cooperation is the recent announcement of joint Chinese Russian military exercises in the Baltic Sea – the prime flashpoint between Russia and NATO.  Andrey Denisov, Russia’s ambassador to China, recently spoke about these exercises with his tongue firmly in his cheek

There is a point of novelty, but I haven’t heard anyone expressing much concern over this so-called ‘threat.’ The Baltic States repeat their usual incantations, but at the same time, they take for granted the fact that NATO is deploying large forces on their territory….Those who are scared off are inclined to being scared.  For instance, I have seen an article on the internet, written by some Swedish military analysts. They say that they see no threat in it.  The main thing is that rules concerning such events should be respected.

In reality, as everyone knows, a Chinese military presence in the Baltic allied to Russia is a NATO planner’s ultimate nightmare.  The planned Russian-Chinese exercises in the Baltic have now brought it one step closer to becoming a reality)

I do not know of cooperation between any two other Great Powers in the world today which is so close.  Contrary to what is often said, cooperation between Russia and China today at a political and military-strategic level is very much closer today than it was in the days of their formal alliance in the 1950s, when meetings between Soviet and Chinese leaders were infrequent and frequently tense.

Whilst economic and technological relations between the two countries are still lagging, they are – as the communiques show – developing rapidly.  By way of example and contrary to some media claims, the two countries are forging ahead with their pipeline projects, which are in active construction.  Claims by some Western and pro-Western Russian liberal commentators that they will never be built are wishful thinking.

(In monetary terms the value of Russian-Chinese trade has now recovered to 2013 levels ie. to the levels before the crash in oil prices halved the value of Russia’s exports, despite the fact that oil prices have failed to recover to previous levels.  Volumes of traded goods are however now much higher than in 2013.  Russia is now China’s biggest supplier of oil.  The value of China’s and Russia’s trade will leap higher once the new projects eg. the Power of Siberia pipeline and the new industrial projects like the joint project for a wide bodied aircraft come into effect)

Beyond these bilateral questions there are the greater plans which Putin discussed at SPIEF 2016 for the Eurasian Economic Union and China to conclude free trade agreements with each other, with Russia and China working to merge the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese-led Silk Road Project into a single whole as part of their joint “Greater Eurasia” project in which they ultimately want to involve Europe too.

(The Chinese media has said that one of President Xi’s goals at the G20 summit is to impress on the German leadership – not just the political leadership but its business community as well – the importance of linking up to these projects).

All this is only the visible tip of the iceberg of Russian-Chinese relations.  As I have discussed previously, there are certain to be scores of secret agreements between the Chinese and the Russians we know nothing about: to share intelligence (including for example signals intelligence and data from satellites) and to coordinate foreign policy and for defence cooperation including technology sharing.  We know for example that the Russians and the Chinese have representatives at each others’ command headquarters and that recently they carried out in Moscow a joint command exercise involving joint operation of their respective anti-ballistic missile defences, something the US would never do at such a level with any of its allies.

Though we know little about some of these agreements, it is possible to make educated guesses about some of them.  In terms of defence technology cooperation the Chinese for example are known to rely heavily on Russian liquid fuel technology for their rocket engines both for their ballistic missiles and for their space programme, which in general appears to rely heavily on Russian technology, even for design of space vehicles.  As it happens, the information from the latest summit meeting in Beijing suggests that the Russians and the Chinese could even be taking their first steps towards merging their respective space programmes.  The Chinese also seem to depend heavily on the Russians for their gas turbine technology including for their military aircraft engines.  In fact there are rumours – always denied – that Chinese military aircraft projects draw heavily on Russian technical advice.  The Russians for their part are said to rely on the Chinese increasingly for electronic subcomponents for some of their systems and there are persistent rumours – also always denied – that they have looked to the Chinese for help with development of their aerial drones.

In foreign policy coordination it seems fairly clear that there are agreements for Russia to take the lead in the Syrian conflict and for China to take the lead in any matter concerning North Korea, with the two countries however always supporting each other’s positions in each conflict. 

It is a certainty – and Putin has recently confirmed as much – that the Russians and the Chinese also talk to each continuously about all other international questions and take care to coordinate their positions in respect of them.  They have certainly done so for example in relation to such questions as the Ukrainian conflict (where China has quietly recognised Crimea as a part of Russia), the Iranian nuclear agreement, the conflict between China and the US in the South China Sea (where Russia backs China) and China’s claim for unification with Taiwan (ditto).

Importantly, we do not know the identities of the individuals in the Russian and Chinese governments who on a day to day basis conduct these contacts, though obviously the embassies of the two countries in each others’ capitals are heavily involved.  However it is striking that the two countries’ foreign ministers – Sergey Lavrov and Wang Yi – do not appear to be involved.  They scarcely ever meet with each other or visit each other’s countries, which suggests that the two countries’ leaderships have, quite intentionally, assigned them the task of dealing with relations with third countries and not with anything to do with the relationship Russia and China have forged with each other.  Apparently this is dealt with at a different and more senior level.

The best guess is that in the Russian case the official who has day to day management of Russia’s relations with China is Sergey Ivanov, Putin’s powerful Chief of Staff and head of Russia’s Presidential Administration, who appears to have frequent meetings with Chinese officials.

(The last year has settled this question.  It is now known that day to day management of the Chinese-Russian relationship is managed by President Putin’s Executive Office headed by his Chief of Staff Anton Vaino and by the General Office of the Communist Party of China, headed by President Xi’s Chief of Staff Li Zhanshu).

In all essentials this is an extremely close alliance between two Great Powers.  It is sometimes said that because it is not underpinned by ideology but rests purely on self-interest that somehow makes it brittle.  My own view on the contrary is that the fact that the alliance is based purely on self-interest and not on ideology or sentiment – so that the two allies have no illusions about each other – makes it deeper and stronger.

The alliance does however have one special feature which in the modern world makes it unique.  Most countries when they forge alliances with other countries go out of their way to publicise the fact. By contrast the reason why the alliance between Russia and China is not widely recognised for what it is, is because of the extraordinary lengths to which both Great Powers go to deny the fact of its existence. 

The reason for this is not difficult to see.  Alliances tend to get defined by their enemies.  The Russian-Chinese alliance is clearly pitted against the other great alliance system of the modern world: that of the US and its allies.  Both the Russians and the Chinese however want to maintain at least for the moment the fiction that they and the US and its allies are not enemies or even adversaries but are “partners”.  Though with the crises in Ukraine and the South Sea China Sea this fiction is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain, it remains important to both the Russians and the Chinese to preserve it so that they can maintain a political dialogue not just with the US but also with the US’s allies, especially Germany and Japan, as well as a place in the international institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF which have been historically dominated by the US. 

It is precisely for this reason that neocon hardliners in the US like Senator McCain, who want to preserve the US’s geostrategic dominance, want on the contrary to tear down all pretences and to define Russia and China openly and clearly as the US’s enemies.  That way they hope to reimpose tighter block discipline within the Western alliance and end any prospect of US allies becoming involved in Russian and Chinese projects like China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or the Russian/Chinese  “Greater Eurasia” and Silk Road projects.  They also hope that way to minimise or even exclude Russian and Chinese influence from US dominated international institutions like the IMF and the World Bank.  Of course defining China as a US enemy also plays into the hands of protectionists in the US like Donald Trump, who would like to use that as an excuse to close the US market to Chinese goods.

Beyond the very complex relations Russia and China have with the West – which for the moment it is in their interest to keep complex – the Russians and the Chinese also have to consider the effect the public acknowledgement of their alliance would have on third powers such as India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Iran, which have had a history of conflicts with either Russia or China. By concealing the fact of their alliance the Russians and the Chinese can each preserve their historic relations with old friends – in Russia’s case with India, South Korea and Vietnam, in China’s case with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran – which might otherwise become alarmed at the public announcement that a country they had always assumed was a friend had now formally become an ally of a former foe with whom they might still have a prickly relationship.

Last but not least, concealing the fact of their alliance for the Russians and the Chinese comes with the added dividend that influential US analysts and commentators such as former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul can remain in denial about it.  A Russian-Chinese alliance being for such people a possibility too horrible to contemplate, the fact the Russians and the Chinese don’t announce it means that such people can continue to deny it even as evidence for it piles up around them.  That suits the Russians and the Chinese perfectly, since it ensures that these people won’t try to mobilise US opinion against them.

The result is that though Russian and Chinese officials occasionally let slip that they see each other as allies – as Putin did the other day – in general they try to conceal the fact, pretending that their countries are not formal allies at all even though that is in fact precisely what they are.  Thus in place of “alliance” they prefer to use the euphemism of “strategic partnership” or increasingly “grand strategic partnership” to describe their relationship. 

(On the eve of President Xi’s meeting with President Putin in Moscow the Chinese came up with yet another euphemism: “comprehensive strategic partnership”)

It is also partly to conceal the fact of their alliance that the Russians and the Chinese have weaved a complex web of organisations around their alliance of which the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the BRICS are just two.  Such organisations enable the Russians and the Chinese to create institutions like the BRICS Bank or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as multilateral ventures which are not targeted at the West, as it would not be possible for them to do if they were openly allied to each other. 

These organisations also enable the Russians and the Chinese to engage countries like Brazil, India, Iran and Pakistan in a friendly way, treating them as equal partners, as they seek to extend the influence of their alliance into places like southern Africa and Latin America where it might not otherwise reach.

(This is as good a point as any to discuss the question of the BRICS.  This is not an alliance and it is an error to treat it as one.  It is a loose association of states set up on Russia’s initiative whose primary purpose is to conceal the existence of the Chinese-Russian alliance at its core.  This is not to deny that useful work does not happen through the BRICS format.  For example the BRICS is the vehicle for setting up the BRICS Bank, one of the new financial institutions China is setting up to rival the US dominated IMF and World Bank.  It also provides the Chinese and the Russians with a means of institutional outreach to other important countries like India, Brazil and South Africa, and to achieve through them a political presence in Latin America, Africa and south west Asia.  However the BRICS is not the primary institutional vehicle of the Chinese Russian alliance and membership of the BRICS does not make a country a member of that alliance.  That is why elections or changes of government in places like India or Brazil have little bearing on the Chinese Russian alliance, or indeed on the BRICS itself.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation because its focus is on security rather than political cooperation is a rather more important and substantive organisation than the BRICS with a much more sophisticated and highly developed institutional infrastructure.  However it too is ultimately a loose arrangement of states rather than a fully fledged alliance, and the functioning of the Chinese Russian alliance at its core does not depend on it)

It is a common trope that the world today is moving from a unipolar world dominated by one superpower – the US – towards a multipolar world, where there will be a more complex interchange between rival centres of power. 

Whilst with the rise of India I think that is basically true, I do not think the terms unipolar or multipolar properly describe the world as it is now.  Rather I think the world today is basically bipolar, just as it was during the Cold War, with two great international alliances facing off against each other just as they did then.  Whereas during the Cold War it was the US and the Western alliance which faced off against the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies, today it is the US and the Western alliance versus the Eurasian alliance that has crystallised around Russia and China, which also includes certain Central Asian states that were formerly part of the USSR and which may shortly also include Iran. 

That the duel between these two great alliances, unlike the Cold War, is being conducted mainly in the shadows and without the ideological dimension that marked the Cold War does not mean it is any less real.  On the contrary it is not only real but is taking place all the time and as it is happening it is reshaping our world.

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‘Iron’ Mike Pence Stares-Down Putin In APEC Showdown

Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton were seen shaking hands and chatting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

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Via Zerohedge


Forget the All-Blacks ‘Haka’, ignore Foreman-Frasier, Drago-Balboa, and Ortiz-Liddell, the honor of the greatest (or perhaps most awkward) staredown in history now goes to US Vice President Mike Pence…

Having been blamed for everything from Trump’s election victory to USA soccer team’s loss to England last week, Russia faced accusations all weekend and was reportedly confronted by the US contingent over “meddling.”

As The Sun reports, Pence and Putin “discussed the upcoming G20 Summit and touched on the issues that will be discussed when President Trump and President Putin are both in Argentina for the summit,” according to the vice president’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah.

An NBC reporter tweeted: “New per the @VP’s Office—> The VP’s office says Vice President Pence directly addressed Russian meddling in the 2016 election in a conversation with Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Singapore.

“The conversation took place following the plenary session this afternoon at ASEAN.”

But, it was the following clash of the titans that caught most people’s attention.

As the Russian president joined the that Pence shook Putin’s ‘deadly’ hand, met his ‘steely KGB-trained’ gaze, and desperately tried not to smile or blink for 20 seconds as Putin appeared to chat amicably with the US VP…

While Putin has (if his accusers are to be believed) grappled his opponents to death with his bare hands (remember he is a sinister KGB agent and jiu-jitsu expert); we suspect the only thing VP Pence has gripped tightly in his hands is his bible.

Sadly, John Bolton then blew the tough guy act (or is he Mike Pence’s ‘good cop’) as he does his best impression of a teenage girl meeting their popstar idol for the first time…

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Orthodox Churches begin to respond forcefully to Ukrainian situation

Two jurisdictions, including one with a difficult history with Russia, move to condemn uncanonical acts in Ukraine.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Two local jurisdictions within the Eastern Orthodox Church announced their refusal to accept the legitimization of two schismatic groups in Ukraine, a move authorized by the Ecumenical Patriarch, but spurred by powers in the United States and Petro Poroshenko’s secularist-oriented Ukraine.

On October 11th, 2018, the Ecumentical Patriarch, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, authorized his legates to pronounce two schismatic Orthodox “churches” in Ukraine to be restored to canonical communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and by extension, across the entire Orthodox world.

This move was strongly condemned by the authorities of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has the only canonically accepted church presence in Ukraine, a situation that the Ecumenical Patriarch himself agreed with only a few years ago.

Russia moved to break communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, creating a split in the Orthodox Church, but a split that at first risked Russia standing alone in their statement of disapproval of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s actions.

For a time the reaction of the other “local” Orthodox Churches was cautious, with the vast majority (excepting only the Greek Church in the USA) coming out in support of the canonical group in Ukraine, but without taking similar action to Moscow.

That appears to be changing.

On November 12 and 16, respectively, the Churches of Serbia and Poland issued strong statements. They both categorically refused to recognize the Ukrainian schismatic groups and they forbade their clergy to concelebrate with the “clergy” within these groups. The Serbs’ statement on this was as follows:

“The Assembly does not recognize the mentioned figures and their followers as Orthodox bishops and clergy and, consequently, does not accept liturgical and canonical communion with them and their supporters.”

The Polish Church made a similar announcement, but with even more force:

“The Holy Bishops’ Council forbids the priests of the Polish Orthodox Church from having liturgical and prayerful contact with the ‘clergy’ of the so-called Kiev Patriarchate and the so-called ‘Autocephalous Orthodox Church,’ which have committed much evil in the past,” the statement reads.

According to the Polish hierarchs, persons deprived of episcopal and clerical ordination cannot be leaders in establishing peace in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Only the observance of the dogmatic and canonical norms of the Church and the preservation of the centuries-old tradition will protect Orthodoxy from severe ecclesiastical consequences on an international scale. The Polish Orthodox Church prays fervently for the unity of the holy Orthodox Church and for peace for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the message further reads.

And while yet officially under the omophorion of Constantinople, several Greek monasteries on Mount Athos, the Orthodox monastic republic that is the spiritual center of all of Eastern Orthodoxy, inserted special petitions in their services to pray for Metropolitan Onufry and the people of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – that is, the canonical group that is a highly autonomous, or independent, Church while yet under the Moscow Patriarchate.

This is an interesting situation because in terms of ecclesial jurisdiction, Mount Athos is actually under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. However, the monasteries there often are known for taking the hardest of hardline stances when even their own Patriarchate takes actions they feel to be wrong:

Thousands of Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians go on pilgrimage to Mt. Athos, which is under the jurisdiction of Constantinople, every year. However, the Russian Church, of which the Ukrainian Church is an autonomous, self-governing part, broke communion with Constantinople on October 15, which the Ukrainian Church confirmed yesterday, due to unilateral Constantinople’s interference in ecclesiastical life in Ukraine.

We know that the majority of the abbots of the Athonite monasteries do not agree with the anti-canonical decisions of the Phanar,” Met. Anthony said.

“In several monasteries—Greek ones, by the way—they have included a special petition in the Litany of Peace in the morning and evening services: ‘For His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry with his suffering flock.,’” he explained, adding, “We are very grateful to the Athonites for their brotherly love and prayers.”

This is a story that it still developing, but the recent moves by Poland and Serbia may be outlining the path that other local Orthodox Churches will take.

That move is to deny recognition to the schismatics that Patriarch Bartholomew lifted the anathemas and depositions for. If this step were to be taken by all the local Churches that have expressed support for the canonical Ukrainian Church, the result would be not much different than where the schismatics were on October 10th:

Filaret Denisenko’s group and Makary’s group would indeed have communion with Constantinople, and presumably the Greek Orthodox Church in the USA, but with no one else.

This move would be a severe repudiation of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s repeated declaration that he has the sole authority to grant autocephaly to anyone anywhere in the Orthodox world (or even to take it away), which is a canonical absurdity.

Given the substantial problems that Filaret Denisenko continues to create, such as refusing to be considered only a Metropolitan (this was the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s order), and to still consider himself a patriarch, blessing a blasphemous “icon” that is really just a monument to Ukrainian ultra-nationalism and secularism (note the neo-Nazi wolfsangel and machine guns in the upper right of this photo:

And given the ideations of Patriarch Bartholomew himself, who is also recently reported to be pushing towards creating unity with the Roman Catholic Church, while acting like a pope himself by insisting that all the local Orthodox Churches will accept his decisions, it does not look like this situation is going to go away by itself.

However, by placing the problem of the schismatics squarely in Patriarch Bartholomew’s hands (since he created the problem), the pressure created by other churches refusing to concelebrate with the Ukrainian schismatics may be enough to isolate the Ecumenical Patriarchate itself, rather than fulfilling the highly likely goal that the US, Ukraine and Patriarch Bartholomew may have had initially – to isolate Russia and create a situation where Russia is made to look like the bad guy, once again.

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How George W. Bush Corrupted America’s ‘News’-Reporting

George W. Bush and his Republicans managed to take all of America’s major ‘news’-media, and to turn them into super-prostitutes.

Eric Zuesse

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Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org:


In order to understand today’s demonization of Vladimir Putin, one must go back to US President George W. Bush’s propaganda for “regime-change in Iraq” and demonization of Saddam Hussein at that time. The US regime now has come to recognize that with Putin’s high approval-ratings from the Russian public, the US aristocracy’s dream of fomenting Putin’s ouster by Russia’s voters will not work; and, so, all foreign leaders who cooperated with Russia, such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Viktor Yanukovych, and Bashar al-Assad, were first targeted by the US regime for “regime-change,” so as to isolate Russia and soften it up for the demanded US-takeover (‘democracy’, ‘free market’, etc., which Russia actually now already has, at least as much as America does); and, then, since that hasn’t yet worked, came the US aristocracy’s campaign to ‘protect The West’ by NATO troops and weapons surrounding Russia and forcing regime-change in Russia. It has escalated now to the point where World War III is more likely than ever it was during the Cold War.

Regime-change in Russia will thus either occur by the democratic vote of the Russian public at some distant time and produce a Russian Government that’s likely to be against the US regime in every possible way (which the current Russian Government is not), or else it will require a US-and-allied invasion of Russia, and that would destroy the world (but the US aristocracy want it anyway).

However, America’s aristocracy (or as they call it when referring to the same thing in low-income countries, “oligarchs”) — basically just its billionaires — are very impatient; they want to control the entire planet during their own lifetimes, and care little (if at all) about what will happen to the planet after they’re gone. (Look, for example, at their enormous resistance to doing anything against global burnout; protecting their fossil-fuels investments is ‘more important’.) Their ‘non-profits’ are just tax-avoidance schemes that double as PR operations for themselves and as ways to get their names in print and on big ‘non-profit’ buildings, like the Pyramids were in ancient Egypt. (Those Egyptian aristocrats wanted permanent honors, but today’s American ones want only to be recognized as being top-of-the-heap while they’re still alive; it’s a cultural difference.)

Anyway, here is how George W. Bush and his Republicans managed to take all of America’s major ‘news’-media, which were highly prostituted even before he came into office, and to turn them into super-prostitutes like the very worst of them prior to his Presidency were. That very worst was most prominently recognized as having been the neoconservative (or pro-US-imperialism) Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel. Of course, it’s rotten, today, no less than it was back in 2000, and here’s a representative sample of that, displaying a classic propaganda-operation:

This particular show aired on 5 September 2015 on Fox ‘News’, and interviewed their contracted expert:

TRANSCRIPT, starting at 4:45:

4:45, Interviewer: The other place that nobody seems to want to go these days is Russia and China, and Russia and China are both the two countries that have really gotten behind Assad, and certainly try to prop him up and those kinds of things; and as we look at pictures from China’s military day parade [posted onscreen], how much of this is Russia and China trying to slough off these refugees on Europe and everybody else … to try to gain political and global capital?

McFARLAND: Well, in China I think less so, but Russia, certainly, because we’ve seen even in the last week that Russia has increased its military presence in Syria. Russia is trying to prop up the Assad government, like the Iranians are; and so Russia is sending military equipment; it’s sending it by sea, it’s sending it overland, it’s sending it by air, to try to prop up the Assad government to continue the fighting.

Q: To continue the refugee crisis?

MCFARLAND: Oh, sure, exactly.

They want their suckers to believe that the Government of Syria wants “to continue the refugee crisis” (which actually was resulting from the Democratic Party’s President Barack Obama’s policy, but Republican-Party billionaires want regime-change in Syria as much as Democratic-Party ones do and so this con is a bipartisan one) instead of to restore the peace and modest prosperity that had preceded the US-Saudi-Turkish-UAE-Quwaiti campaign to recruit and arm tens of thousands of jihadists into Syria to overthrow Syria’s committedly non-sectarian and highly secular Government, headed by Assad. They want their fools to believe that Assad instead of Obama sought the overthrow of Assad. But no matter how stupid their pitch is, it’s acceptable by their very conservative audience. Even when Fox News needs to cover-up evils of a Democratic Party regime in order to sic their suckers on hating Assad or any other ally of the arch-demon Putin, they do it, in order to service their Republican Party billionaires, who are just as eager to take over Russia — and its allies such as Syria — as Democratic Party billionaires are. And that’s how bad Fox ‘News’ is, and was. But now they’re all like that.

THE BACKSTORY:

Whereas back in 2002 and 2003, the US aristocracy’s biggest push for “regime change” was to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq; and whereas in 2011 the biggest push for “regime change” was to remove Muammar Gaddaffi from power in Libya; and whereas next in 2011 the biggest push for “regime change” became to remove Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria; and whereas in 2013 the biggest push for “regime change” became to remove Viktor Yanukovych from power in Ukraine; the biggest push for “regime change” now is to remove Vladimir Putin himself from power in Russia.

Media-lies have been crucial to them all; and here is how it’s done — by spreading Fox’s garbage over the rest of the major ‘news’ media:

On 2 October 2003, the media-watch organization, worldpublicopinion.org, headlined “Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War:Study Finds Widespread Misperceptions on Iraq Highly Related to Support for War: Misperceptions Vary Widely Depending on News Source: Fox Viewers More Likely to Misperceive, PBS-NPR Less Likely.” In fact, the people who received their news primarily through NPR or PBS exhibited the lowest rate of misperceptions at that time, and Fox News Channel viewers exhibited the highest misperceptions-rate: Whereas 77% of NPR/PBS listeners/viewers gave correct answers on all three factual news questions asked, only 20% of Fox News Channel viewers did; and whereas only 23% of the NPR/PBS audiences got one or more of these three factual questions wrong, 80% of Fox’s did.

So, the George W. Bush Administration forced NPR and PBS to adhere more fully to Bush’s (the US aristocracy’s) line. Bush lowered the best of the nation’s news-edia down to the standards that already existed for the lowest.

At NPR’s “Morning Edition” on 20 May 2005, host David Folkenflik reported about the pre-Bush culture at the Corporation for Public Broadvasting and compared it to the new culture there. He said that, the “culture gap became evident as long as two years ago. At oneclosed board meeting, according to two former CPB officials, [the Bush-appointed CPB chief Kenneth] Tomlinson suggested bringing in Fox News Channel anchor Brit Hume to talk to public broadcasting officials about how to create balanced news programs.”

Word was now out, among journalists throughout the world, that President Bush aimed to turn his country’s public broadcasting system into a domestic propaganda organ; and so, on May 30thThe New York Times headlined “Ombudsmen Rebuff Move by Public Broadcasting”, and reported — datelined May 27th from London — that: “An [international] association of news ombudsmen has rejected an attempt by two ombudsmen from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to join their organization as full-fledged members, questioning their independence. The Organization of News Ombudsmen, which represents nearly a hundred print and broadcast ombudsmen from around the world, more than half of them from the United States, voted at its annual conference here last week to change its bylaws to allow full membership only to those who work for news organizations,” which excluded representatives from CPB, because “it does not itself gather or produce news.” Observed one member, who happened to be the ombudsman from NPR, “We want members who are responsive to readers, not to governments or lobby groups.”

The Los Angeles Times media critic David Shaw took a broad historical view of this matter, headlining May 29th “There’s a ‘Nuclear Option’ for PBS’ Woes” opining that no PBS at all would be better than a PBS that’s a propaganda organ for the White House, and reminding readers: “The Bush administration is not the first to challenge the independence of PBS. Back in the 1970s, the Nixon administration was so estranged by PBS coverage of Watergate and the Vietnam War that it stacked the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with Nixon sympathizers. ‘There were tremendous fights, with the Nixon administration trying to prevent public television from doing any public affairs programming at all,’ Lawrence Grossman, the former president of PBS, subsequently told the New York Times. The Bush administration, which has already accomplished the heretofore seemingly impossible by becoming even more media-averse than the Nixon administration, seems determined to surpass the wizard of Whittier and Watergate in bringing the CPB to heel as well.”

Mr. Shaw, like other major-media commentators about the national media, had previously stood by in silence, during 2002 and 2003, while America’s major media cavalierly spread amongst the US public, as virtually unchallenged, the false rumors coming from the Bush Administration, and from its allies such as the Bush-Administration-financed group of exiles, the Iraqi National Congress, saying that Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein had been proven to be storing huge quantities of weapons of mass destruction and to be working in cahoots with Al Qaeda to threaten the United States. However, now, just a few years later, these very same “news” media were so frightened at the rising extent of this Administration’s control over their “news,” that these commentators were publicizing what those fascists were doing to force them, ‘journalists,’ into a military lock-step. This change in atmosphere was stunning; America’s press were now trying to extricate themselves from the prison they had only recently helped to construct for themselves. They didn’t think that they might get caught up in the prison that they had helped construct to contain the general public.

The United States had entered historic new territory after nearly 50 years of aristocratic/theocratic mass-indoctrination of the American people, which had occurred with the full support and cooperation of the nation’s presslords. There was now doubt; the old arrangements finally started to become questioned. Things were no longer settled. This was a real change of mentality. Only recently, there had been a total passivity of the US press: it propagandized for the President’s Medicaid prescription drug plan; it propagandized for his fabricated accusations against “Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction”; it served as an extension of the White House press office on many other of the President’s fraud-based programs. But this passivity was now finally replaced by a rising fear within the press, that the US might be transforming into a fascist state, which could threaten the press itself. The presslords themselves were at last becoming disturbed.

However, this President was already near to his goal of a totalitarian lock-down. Consequently, what could the press do, at such a late date? They had already given him the rope to hang not just the public, but themselves. He took it. The American press that stenographically transmitted to the American public the US government’s lies about “Saddam’s WMD” is continuing as if it hadn’t been sufficiently compliant. America’s great victories in overthrowing Gaddafi and Yanukovych are now supposed to be followed by Assad, and then Putin.

And European nations take this leadership as their own, instead of abandoning the US, abandoning NATO, and abandoning the US-controlled EU; abandoning all the mega-corporate, US-aristocracy-controlled, international-corporate fascist system — and now they willingly take in the millions of refugees from the bombs that the US had dropped in Libya and Syria, and that the US-installed rabidly anti-Russian government in Ukraine is dropping onto the areas of the former Ukraine that have rejected the US-imposed (in February 2014government in Kiev.

And the next target is Putin.

So: that’s the backstory behind the lie that Putin instead of Obama caused those millions of refugees pouring into Europe.

And, in German ‘news’ media, Bashar al-Assad and ISIS are being blamed for it, because practically no German is so media-deluded (like America’s conservatives are) as to think that Putin is to blame for it; and here is a German who states in very clear terms how rotten he thinks Germany’s ‘news’ media are (though America’s obviously are even worse) with those German media blaming “that the reasons for refugee-flows are Syrian President Bashar Assad and ISIS” instead of that “America is the cause of all these problems, American foreign policy.”

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