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China slams US policy on North Korea; calls it “an abysmal failure”

During tense call between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping China rejects US demands for oil embargo on North Korea

Alexander Mercouris

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US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to each other over the telephone on Wednesday 29th November 2017 following North Korea’s ICBM test.

China’s official news agency Xinhua has provided an account of the call, which reads as follows:

Chinese President Xi Jinping told his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, in a telephone conversation late Wednesday that denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, maintaining international nuclear-nonproliferation regime, and preserving peace and stability in Northeast Asia are China’s unswerving goal.

He said China would like to keep up communications with the United States and all other related parties, and jointly push the nuclear issue towards the direction of peaceful settlement via dialogues and negotiations.

In response, Trump said the United States has serious concerns over the launch of a ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The DPRK’s Korean Central Television reported that the country successfully test-fired a newly developed Intercontinental Ballistic Missile early Wednesday morning, a move that has drawn condemnation from the international community.

Pyongyang said “The development and advancement of the strategic weapon of DPRK are to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country from the U.S. imperialists’ nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat, and to ensure the peaceful life of the people.”

It is the first launch since Sept. 15, when the DPRK fired a ballistic missile over northern Japan into the Pacific Ocean.

Trump said Washington highly values China’s important role in solving the nuclear issue, and is willing to enhance communications and coordinations with China in search for solutions to the issue.

Also in their phone talks, the Chinese leader said that during Trump’s visit to China earlier this month the two heads of state have exchanged in-depth views on key issues of common concerns and reached important consensuses on multiple fronts, which bears important significance for maintaining sound and stable bilateral ties.

Xi called on the two sides to carry out these consensuses, make good plans for high-level bilateral exchanges, as well as at other levels, ensure the second round talks under all four high-level China-U.S. dialogue mechanisms a success, and implement cooperation agreements and projects between the two countries.

He also urged the two sides to maintain close communications and coordination on important international and regional affairs.

To help soothe the Korean Peninsula situation, China has proposed a dual-track approach, seeking to advance denuclearization and establish a peace mechanism in parallel. Beijing, in its “suspension for suspension” initiative, calls on Pyongyang to pause its missile and nuclear activities, and calls on Washington to put its joint military drills with South Korea on hold.

In response to the DPRK’s missile launch, the United Nations Security Council will hold an urgent meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Since November last year, the Security Council has imposed export bans on coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, restricted joint ventures and blacklisted a number of DPRK’s entities in response to the country’s missile and nuclear tests.

It has also banned the hiring of DPRK’s guest workers and capped oil exports.

Under UN resolutions, DPRK is barred from developing missiles and a nuclear weapons capability, but Pyongyang argues that the arsenal is needed for self-defense against the “hostile” United States.

This official summary of the telephone conversation is a classic example of how China officially reports conversations by its President.  As such it requires careful reading to get a proper sense of what actually happened.

Firstly, the Xinhua report makes no reference to the longstanding US demand – repeated by Nikki Haley to the UN Security Council on Wednesday – that China impose an oil embargo on North Korea.

As it is inconceivable that President Trump did not bring up the subject of the oil embargo during the call, that can only mean that President Xi Jinping rejected it.

The Xinhua report suggests that in response to Trump’s demand for an oil embargo Xi Jinping reminded Trump of the extensive sanctions the UN Security Council has already imposed with China’s agreement on North Korea.  Note the careful way Xinhua lists them

Since November last year, the Security Council has imposed export bans on coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, restricted joint ventures and blacklisted a number of DPRK’s entities in response to the country’s missile and nuclear tests.

It has also banned the hiring of DPRK’s guest workers and capped oil exports.

The Xinhua report also suggests that Xi Jinping reminded Donald Trump of North Korea’s security concerns – concerns which China recognises as fully legitimate (see below) – whilst reiterating to Trump that the North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme is clearly – as North Korea says – defensive.  Note how carefully Xinhua reports North Korea’s statement following the ICBM test that North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons test is intended purely for self-defence

Pyongyang said “The development and advancement of the strategic weapon of DPRK are to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country from the U.S. imperialists’ nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat, and to ensure the peaceful life of the people.”….

The key point however about the Xinhua report is that it strongly implies that Trump threatened Xi Jinping with unilateral sanctions against Chinese companies if China did not comply with US demands for an oil embargo on North Korea.

The Xinhua report also says that Xi Jinping reminded Trump of the agreements for cooperation between the US and China which were reached during Trump’s visit to Beijing just a few weeks ago.  It seems that Xi Jinping pointedly reminded Trump that his threats of unilateral sanctions against Chinese companies were in total contradiction to these agreements

Also in their phone talks, the Chinese leader said that during Trump’s visit to China earlier this month the two heads of state have exchanged in-depth views on key issues of common concerns and reached important consensuses on multiple fronts, which bears important significance for maintaining sound and stable bilateral ties.

Xi called on the two sides to carry out these consensuses, make good plans for high-level bilateral exchanges, as well as at other levels, ensure the second round talks under all four high-level China-U.S. dialogue mechanisms a success, and implement cooperation agreements and projects between the two countries.

Lastly, it is clear from the Xinhua report that Xi Jinping warned Trump against unilateral US actions – whether against Chinese companies or against North Korea – reminded Trump of China’s proposal for a double-freeze (a halt to North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear tests in return for a halt to US military exercises and military deployments in and around the Korean Peninsula) and warned Trump that any and all steps taken by the US to resolve the North Korean issue should be agreed in advance with China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, in a telephone conversation late Wednesday that denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, maintaining international nuclear-nonproliferation regime, and preserving peace and stability in Northeast Asia are China’s unswerving goal.

He said China would like to keep up communications with the United States and all other related parties, and jointly push the nuclear issue towards the direction of peaceful settlement via dialogues and negotiations……

He also urged the two sides to maintain close communications and coordination on important international and regional affairs.

To help soothe the Korean Peninsula situation, China has proposed a dual-track approach, seeking to advance denuclearization and establish a peace mechanism in parallel. Beijing, in its “suspension for suspension” initiative, calls on Pyongyang to pause its missile and nuclear activities, and calls on Washington to put its joint military drills with South Korea on hold.

That this was a tense and difficult conversation, with Xi Jinping rejecting Donald Trump’s demand for an oil embargo on North Korea and Donald Trump in response threatening Xi Jinping with US sanctions against Chinese companies, is all but confirmed by an uncharacteristically furious editorial which was published shortly after by China’s semi-official English language newspaper Global Times.

This editorial lays the entire blame for the North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme and for the whole crisis in the Korean Peninsula squarely on US intransigence and short-sightedness

Over the years Washington has repeatedly issued statements on how they will not hesitate to deploy measures necessary to end North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Pyongyang’s contrarian responses have only accelerated their progress as achievements have been made along the way. Overall, North Korea’s progress has superseded Washington expectations.

It must be acknowledged that US foreign policy on North Korea has been nothing but an abysmal failure. When Washington first took the initiative to negotiate, they ignored Pyongyang security demands, essentially blowing an opportunity urging them to discontinue their nuclear weapons program. And right now, the Trump administration actually believes it can influence Pyongyang’s weapons program by applying greater pressure on the country. And as if that wasn’t enough, Washington is counting on China to support a new round of Trump administration pressure tactics.

(bold italics added)

These words essentially confirm that Donald Trump demanded from Xi Jinping that China impose an oil embargo on North Korea and threatened Xi Jinping with unilateral US sanctions against Chinese companies unless it did so.

As to that demand – and the threat which came with it – Global Times confirms that Xi Jinping rejected it

Washington has placed China in a precarious situation by asking for more than what was originally expected by the UN Security Council regarding the previous round of North Korea sanctions. China has always carried out UN Security measures, however, it will refuse extra responsibilities stemming from both sides.

It is time the US realized that increasing and tightening sanctions already in place will not have the desired effect. Since yesterday, Pyongyang has never been this confident. Condemnations from the UN Security Council and the new sanctions that may follow will solve nothing.

(bold italics added)

Interestingly, and in a sign of the close coordination between Beijing and Moscow on the North Korean issue, Global Times also repeats a recent Russian claim that the US threw away an opportunity to negotiate with North Korea during the two months prior to the ICBM launch when there were no North Korean ballistic missile or nuclear tests

During the previous two months, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions were practically dormant. The reason for such quiet might have been related to the necessary preparation for their recent launch. Or it could have been a message intended for the US designed to ease tension between the two countries.

Unfortunately, Washington chose not to adjust its course. On November 20, Trump redesignated North Korea as a state-sponsor of terror and imposed new sanctions on the country. If the only thing the US achieved was to ignite the wrath of Kim Jong-un.

Both sides need to see each other clearly. Washington should have learned by now that relying solely on pressure will not subdue North Korea.  Also, the US might want to take North Korea’s national security requests seriously from here on out.

(bold italics added)

These identical comments from Beijing and Moscow suggest that the Chinese and the Russians know a great deal more than they are saying.

I suspect that over the course of the recent talks in Moscow the North Koreans told the Russians that preparations for the next North Korean ICBM test were two months away, and that if the US was genuinely interested in compromise it should use this period to signal clearly that it was looking for a compromise.

If the North Koreans did say this to the Russians then the Russians would have passed it on to the Chinese and to the US.  However Washington ignored it, instead increasing the pressure on North Korea by declaring it a ‘terrorist state’ and imposing more sanctions on it, with the results that we now see.

As to what those results are, Global Times spells them out

Foreign experts analyzed data from the Hwasong-15 and found that a standard launch could see the missile travel 13,000 km (8,000 miles). This means North Korea now has a missile that can clear the entire US (Pyongyang to New York City is 6,672 miles).

The impression made by the Hwasong-15 test has been a confidence booster for Pyongyang. They have finally proven to themselves and to the world they now have the weapons capability to strike anywhere in the US.  Initial reports from the ICBM launch sent shockwaves through DC and US society….

Advances in nuclear weapons will never subside. Initially, the most important component of an intercontinental ballistic missile was how far it could travel. Now, the next stage will require advanced development in areas pertaining to mobility and protection.

In other words, by throwing away the opportunity to negotiate a compromise during the two months when the North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear weapons testing programme was dormant, the US has put itself in a weaker position and North Korea in a stronger position than they were in before.

That the conversation between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping was tense and fraught, and is the cause of great anger in Beijing, is further indicated by certain comments coming out of Moscow, which is clearly in constant touch with Beijing on this issue.  Here is how the official Russian news agency TASS reports these comments by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

…..”Washington’s recent steps seem to be deliberately aimed at provoking Pyongyang to take some tough actions,” [Lavrov] noted. The US should openly say if its provocative actions are aimed at destroying North Korea, he said.

He pointed out that Washington “announced that large-scale unscheduled drills would held in December.” “It seems, they have done everything on purpose, to make [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un lose control and make another desperate move,” he said. “The Americans need to explain to us all what they are actually up to. If they seek a pretext to destroy North Korea, they should openly say so and the US leadership should confirm it. Then we would decide how to respond,” the Russian top diplomat added.

Russia is against US proposals for an economic blockade of North Korea and believes the sanctions pressure has exhausted itself, he said.

“Our attitude (to the US proposals – TASS) is negative. We have said more than once that the sanctions pressure has in fact exhausted itself,” he said.

At the same time, Lavrov confirmed that Moscow did not support Washington’s initiatives concerning the economic blockade of North Korea and believed that the potential of sanctions had been exhausted. “Our attitude [towards the US initiatives – TASS] is negative. We have stressed many times that the potential of sanctions has actually been exhausted,” Lavrov said.

He pointed out that “all the resolutions imposing sanctions also demand that the political process and talks be resumed.” “But the US has been ignoring this demand. I think it is a huge mistake,” the Russian top diplomat noted.

(bold italics added)

These comments of Lavrov’s – especially the highlighted words – are very interesting, not just because they place the blame on the US for the whole crisis and because they clearly rule out an oil embargo, but because they hint that the US’s real intention towards North Korea is not to bring its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme to an end but rather to achieve regime change in Pyongyang.

Back in August an editorial in Global Times warned that if the US attacked North Korea China would act by military means if necessary to defend North Korea.  Lavrov’s words about Russia effectively associate Russia with this Chinese warning.

The route to compromise over the North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme is not closed.

Negotiations continue.  There was a big Russian delegation in Pyongyang at the time of the ICBM launch, undoubtedly as a follow up to the earlier meetings between Russian and North Korean diplomats in Moscow.

China also continues to pursue diplomacy with South Korea, and there is now no doubt that the Chinese and the Russians are working together.

However the latest words from Beijing and Moscow show that the Chinese and the Russians no longer see the primary obstacle to a compromise in Pyongyang.  Rather they see it in Washington, and they are adjusting their diplomacy accordingly.

What that means is that the US is becoming even more sidelined as the Chinese and the Russians search for a diplomatic solution by direct diplomacy with the two Koreas, which no longer involves the US.

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The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via American Herald Tribune:


There has been some reporting in the United States mass media about the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Ankara and what it might mean. Such a falling out between NATO members has not been seen since France left the alliance in 1966 and observers note that the hostility emanating from both sides suggests that far worse is to come as neither party appears prepared to moderate its current position while diplomatic exchanges have been half-hearted and designed to lead nowhere.

The immediate cause of the breakdown is ostensibly President Donald Trump’s demand that an American Protestant minister who has lived in Turkey for twenty-three years be released from detention. Andrew Brunson was arrested 21 months ago and charged with being a supporter of the alleged conspiracy behind the military coup in 2016 that sought to kill or replace President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has asserted that the coup was directed by former political associate Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, but has produced little credible evidence to support that claim. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Erdogan has had himself voted extraordinary special powers to maintain public order and has arrested 160,000 people, including 20 Americans, who have been imprisoned. More than 170,000 civil servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, the judiciary has been hobbled, and senior army officers have been replaced by loyalists.

Gulen is a religious leader who claims to promote a moderate brand of Islam that is compatible with western values. His power base consists of a large number of private schools that educate according to his curriculum, with particular emphasis on math and sciences. Many of the graduates become part of a loose affiliation that has sometimes been described as a cult. Gulen also owns and operates a number of media outlets, all of which have now been shut by Erdogan as part of his clamp down on the press. Turkey currently imprisons more journalists than any other country.

It is widely believed that Erdogan has been offering to release Brunson in exchange for Gulen, but President Donald Trump has instead offered only a Turkish banker currently in a U.S. prison while also turning the heat up in the belief that pressure on Turkey will force it to yield. Washington began the tit-for-tat by imposing sanctions on two cabinet-level officials in Erdogan’s government: Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. Ankara has now also been on the receiving end of a Trump tweet and tariffs have been placed on a broad range of Turkish products, to include steel and aluminum.

The view that economic pressure will force the Turks to yield could be mistaken and demonstrates that the Administration does not include anyone who knows that Americans have been unpopular in Turkey since the Gulf War. The threats from Washington might actually rally skeptical and normally pro-western Turks around Erdogan but U.S. sanctions have already hit the Turkish economy hard, with the lira having lost 40% of its value this year and continuing to sink rapidly. Foreign investors, who fueled much of Turkey’s recent economic growth, have fled the market, suggesting that a collapse in credit might be on the way. Those European banks that hold Turkish debt are fearing a possible default.

It is a spectacle of one NATO member driving another NATO member’s economy into the ground over a political dispute. Erdogan has responded in his autocratic fashion by condemning “interest rates” and calling for an “economic war” against the U.S., telling his supporters to unload all their liquid valuables, gold and foreign to buy the plummeting lira, a certain recipe for disaster. If they do that, they will likely lose everything.

Other contentious issues involved in the badly damaged bilateral relationship are conflicting views on what to do about Syria, where the Turks have a legitimate interest due to potential Kurdish terrorism and are seeking a buffer zone, as well as Ankara’s interest in buying Russian air defense missile systems, which has prompted the U.S. to suspend sales of the new F-35 fighter. The Turks have also indicated that they have no interest in enforcing the sanctions on Iran that were re-imposed last week and they will continue to buy Iranian oil after the November 4th initiation of a U.S. ban on such purchases. The Trump Administration has warned that it will sanction any country that refuses to comply, setting the stage for a massive confrontation between Washington and Ankara involving the Turkish Central Bank.

In terms of U.S. interests, Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, is of strategic value because it is Muslim, countering arguments that the alliance is some kind of Christian club working to suppress Islam in the Middle East. And it is also important because of its geographic location close to hot spots where the American military is currently engaged. If the U.S. heeds Trump’s call to cut back on involvement in the region, Turkey will become less valuable, but currently, access to the Incirlik Airbase, near Adana and the Syrian border, is vital.

Indeed, Incirlik has become one of the flashpoints in the argument with Washington. Last week, a group of lawyers connected politically to Erdogan initiated legal action against U.S. officers at Incirlik over claimed ties to “terrorists” linked to Gulen. The “Association for Social Justice and Aid” has called for a temporary halt to all operations at the base to permit a search for evidence. The attorneys are asking for the detention of seven named American Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels. General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command based in Germany is also cited. If the lawyers are successful in court, it will mean a major conflict as Washington asserts the rights of the officers under the Status of Forces Agreement, while Turkey will no doubt insist that the Americans are criminals and have no protection.

Another trial balloon being floated by Erdogan is even more frightening in terms of the demons that it could be unleashing. Abdurrahman Dilipak, an Islamist columnist writing in the pro-government newspaper Yeni Atik, has suggested that there might well be a second terrorist attack on the United States like 9/11. Dilipak threatened that if Trump does nothing to reduce tension “…some people will teach him [to do] that. It must be seen that if internal tensions with the United States continue like this that a September 11 is no unlikely possibility.” Dilipak also warned that presumed Gulenist “U.S. collaborators” inside Turkey would be severely punished if they dared to go out into the streets to protest in support of Washington.

If recent developments in Turkey deteriorate further it might well suggest that Donald Trump’s instinct to disengage from the Middle East was the right call, though it could equally be seen as a rejection of the tactic being employed, i.e. using heavy-handed sanctions and tariffs to compel obedience from governments disinclined to follow Washington’s leadership. Either way, the Turkish-American relationship is in trouble and increasingly a liability for both sides, yet another indication that the NATO alliance forged in 1949 against the Soviet Union is today largely irrelevant.

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Is This The Most Important Geopolitical Deal Of 2018?

After more than 20 years of fraught diplomatic efforts, the five littoral Caspian nations agreed upon a legal framework for sharing the world’s largest inland body of water.

The Duran

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Authored by Olgu Okumus via Oilprice.com:


The two-decade-long dispute on the statute of the Caspian Sea, the world largest water reserve, came to an end last Sunday when five littoral states (Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan) agreed to give it a special legal status – it is now neither a sea, nor a lake. Before the final agreement became public, the BBC wrote that all littoral states will have the freedom of access beyond their territorial waters, but natural resources will be divided up. Russia, for its part, has guaranteed a military presence in the entire basin and won’t accept any NATO forces in the Caspian.

Russian energy companies can explore the Caspian’s 50 billion barrels of oil and its 8.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan can finally start considering linking its gas to the Turkish-Azeri joint project TANAP through a trans-Caspian pipeline, while Iran has gained increased energy supplies for its largest cities in the north of the country (Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad) – however, Iran has also put itself under the shadow of Russian ships. This controversy makes one wonder to what degree U.S. sanctions made Iran vulnerable enough to accept what it has always avoided – and how much these U.S. sanctions actually served NATO’s interests.

If the seabed, rich in oil and gas, is divided this means more wealth and energy for the region. From 1970 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991, the Caspian Sea was divided into subsectors for Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – all constituent republics of the USSR. The division was implemented on the basis of the internationally-accepted median line.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the new order required new regulations. The question was over whether the Caspian was a sea or a lake? If it was treated as a sea, then it would have to be covered by international maritime law, namely the United Nations Law of the Sea. But if it is defined as a lake, then it could be divided equally between all five countries. The so-called “lake or sea” dispute revolved over the sovereignty of states, but also touched on some key global issues – exploiting oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Basin, freedom of access, the right to build beyond territorial waters, access to fishing and (last but not least) managing maritime pollution.

The IEA concluded in World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2017 that offshore energy has a promising future. More than a quarter of today’s oil and gas supply is produced offshore, and integrated offshore thinking will extend this beyond traditional sources onwards to renewables and more. Caspian offshore hydrocarbon reserves are around 50 billion barrels of oil equivalent (equivalent to one third of Iraq’s total oil reserves) and 8.4 trillion cubic meters of gas (almost equivalent to the U.S.’ entire proven gas reserves). As if these quantities were not themselves enough to rebalance Eurasian energy demand equations, the agreement will also allow Turkmenistan to build the Trans-Caspian pipeline, connecting Turkmenistan’s resources to the Azeri-Turkish joint project TANAP, and onwards to Europe – this could easily become a counter-balance factor to the growing LNG business in Europe.

Even though we still don’t have firm and total details on the agreement, Iran seems to have gained much less than its neighbors, as it has shortest border on the Caspian. From an energy perspective, Iran would be a natural market for the Caspian basin’s oil and gas, as Iran’s major cities (Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad) are closer to the Caspian than they are to Iran’s major oil and gas fields. Purchasing energy from the Caspian would also allow Iran to export more of its own oil and gas, making the country a transit route from the Caspian basin to world markets. For instance, for Turkmenistan (who would like to sell gas to Pakistan) Iran provides a convenient geography. Iran could earn fees for swap arrangements or for providing a transit route and justify its trade with Turkey and Turkmenistan as the swap deal is allowed under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA, or the D’Amato Act).

If the surface water will be in common usage, all littoral states will have access beyond their territorial waters. In practical terms, this represents an increasingly engaged Russian presence in the Basin. It also reduces any room for a NATO presence, as it seems to be understood that only the five littoral states will have a right to military presence in the Caspian. Considering the fact that Russia has already used its warships in the Caspian to launch missile attacks on targets within Syria, this increased Russian presence could potentially turn into a security threat for Iran.

Many questions can now be asked on what Tehran might have received in the swap but one piece of evidence for what might have pushed Iran into agreement in its vulnerable position in the face of increased U.S. sanctions. Given that the result of those sanctions seems to be Iran agreeing to a Caspian deal that allows Russia to place warships on its borders, remove NATO from the Caspian basin equation, and increase non-Western based energy supplies (themselves either directly or indirectly within Russia’s sphere of geopolitical influence) it makes one wonder whose interests those sanctions actually served?

By Olgu Okumus for Oilprice.com

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America’s Militarized Economy

At some point, the West will have to recognize Crimea’s right to self rule.

Eric Zuesse

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Authored by Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Unz Review:


Donald Trump’s biggest success, thus far into his Presidency, has been his sale of $400 billion (originally $350 billion) of U.S.-made weapons to the Saudi Arabian Government, which is owned by its royal family, after whom that nation is named. This sale alone is big enough to be called Trump’s “jobs plan” for Americans. It is also the biggest weapons-sale in all of history. It’s 400 billion dollars, not 400 million dollars; it is gigantic, and, by far, unprecedented in world-history.

The weapons that the Sauds and their friends, the 7 monarchies that constitute the United Arab Emirates, are using right now, in order to conquer and subdue Yemen, are almost entirely made in America. That’s terrific business for America. Not only are Americans employed, in strategically important congressional districts (that is, politically important congressional districts), to manufacture this equipment for mass-murdering in foreign lands that never threatened (much less invaded) America, but the countries that purchase this equipment are thereby made dependent upon the services of those American manufacturers, and of the taxpayer-funded U.S. ‘Defense’ Department and its private military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, to maintain this equipment, and to train the local military enforcers, on how to operate these weapons. Consequently, foreign customers of U.S. military firms are buying not only U.S. weapons, but the U.S. Government’s protection — the protection by the U.S. military, of those monarchs. They are buying the label of being an “American ally” so that the U.S. news media can say that this is in defense of American allies (regardless of whether it’s even that). American weapons are way overpriced for what they can do, but they are a bargain for what they can extract out of America’s taxpayers, who fund the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department and thus fund the protection of those monarchs: these kings and other dictators get U.S. taxpayers to fund their protection. It’s an international protection-racket funded by American taxpayers and those rulers, in order to protect those rulers; and the victims aren’t only the people who get slaughtered in countries such as Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Libya, and Syria, and Yemen, and Palestine, but also (though only financially) are the American public, who get fleeced by it — the American public provide the bulk of the real funding for this operation to expand the lands where America’s allies rule, and so to serve both America’s aristocracy and the aristocracies that are America’s allies.

This is how today’s America enforces its ‘democracy’ around the world, so that America can spread this ‘democracy’, at gunpoint, and at bomb-point, like America’s allies, those Kings and Emirs, and the apartheid regime in Israel, are doing, to the people whom they kill and conquer, with help from the taxpayer-funded American military — funded to protect those aristocrats, against their respective publics, and to further enrich America’s own aristocrats, at the expense of America’s own public.

The global ‘aggressor’ has been identified by America’s previous President, Barack Obama, who won office like Trump did, by promising ‘a reset’ in relations with post-communist Russia, and by mocking Obama’s opponent (Mitt Romney) for having called Russia “the number one geopolitical foe” — which America’s aristocracy has historically considered Russia to be, ever since the aristocracy in Russia fled and were killed in 1917, which caused America’s and other aristocracies to fear and hate Russia and Russians, for having ousted its aristocracy, this being an act that aristocrats everywhere are determined to avenge, regardless of ‘ideology’. (Similarly, America and its pro-aristocracy foreign allies, seek to avenge Iran’s 1979 overthrow of the Shah.) As Obama’s own actions during his subsequent Presidency made clear, and as he already had started in 2011 (if not from day one of his Presidency) secretly to implement, he privately agreed with what Romney said on that occasion, but he was intelligent enough (which his opponent obviously was not) to recognize that the American public, at that time, did not agree with it but instead believed that Islamic terrorists and aristocrats such as the Sauds who finance them are that); and Obama took full advantage of his opponent’s blunder there, which helped Obama to win a second term in the White House (after having skillfully hidden from the public during his first term, his intention to weaken Russia by eliminating leaders who were friends or even allies of Russia, such as in Syria, and Ukraine).

This is American ‘democracy’, after all (rule by deceit, lies), and that’s the reason why, when Russia, in 2014, responded to the U.S. coup in Ukraine (a coup under the cover of anti-corruption demonstrations) which coup was taking over this large country next-door to Russia and thus constituted a deadly threat to Russia’s national security, Obama declared Russia to be the world’s top ‘aggressor’. Obama overthrew Ukraine and then damned Russia’s leader Putin for responding to Obama’s aggressive threat against Russia from this coup in neighboring Ukraine. Russia was supposedly the ‘aggressor’ because it allowed the residents of Crimea — which had been part of Russia until the Soviet dictator in 1954 had arbitrarily handed Crimea to Ukraine — to become Russian citizens again, Russians like 90% of them felt they still were, despite Khrushchev’s transfer of them to Ukraine in 1954. The vast majority of Crimeans felt themselves still to be Russians. But Obama and allies of the U.S. Government insisted that the newly installed Government of Ukraine must rule those people; those people must not be permitted to rule (or be ruled) by people they’ve participated in choosing.

Ever since at least 2011, the U.S. Government was planning to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected Government; and the plan started being put into action by no later than 1 March 2013 inside America’s Ukrainian Embassy. In preparation for this planned coup (“the most blatant coup in history”), a poll of Crimeans was funded by the International Republican Institute and USAID, in which Gallup scientifically sampled Crimeans during 16-30 May 2013, six months prior to the forced rejection on 20 November 2013 of EU membership by Ukraine’s democratically elected government — that’s six months prior to the Ukrainian Government’s rejection that Obama’s team were intending to use as being the pretext for the anti-Government demonstrations, which would start on Kiev’s Maidan Square the day after this forced rejection, on November 21st. The poll of Crimeans (which was made public on 7 October 2013) found (here are highlights):

p.14:
“If Ukraine was able to enter only one international economic union, which entity should it be with?”
53% “Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan”
17% “The European Union”

p.15:
“How would you evaluate your attitude to the following entities?”
“Russia”:  68% “Warm”;  5% “Cold”
“USA”:  6% “Warm”;  24% “Cold”

p.17:
“In your opinion, what should the status of Crimea be?”
“Autonomy in Ukraine (as today [under Crimea’s 1992 Constitution and as subsequently celebrated by RFE/RL on 20 January 2011)”:  53%.
“Common oblast of Ukraine [ruled under Ukraine’s 1991 Constitution]”:  2%.
“Crimea should be separated and given to Russia”:  23%.

In other words: prior to the U.S. State Department and CIA operation to steal Ukraine’s government from Ukraine’s citizens — including especially from the residents of the sole autonomously governed region in Ukraine, which was Crimea — 53% of Crimeans wanted continued autonomy, 23% wanted not only a total break away from the Ukrainian Government but their becoming again citizens of Russia, such as had existed until 1954; and only 2% wanted restoration of the situation in 1991 when Crimea was briefly a “common oblast” or regular region within Ukraine, a federal state within Ukraine just like all the other states within Ukraine were. And, obviously, after America’s coup in Ukraine, the percentage who wanted a total break away from Ukraine rose even higher than it had been before.

Consequently, the U.S. demand that the newly imposed Ukrainian regime, which Obama’s coup created, made upon Crimea subsequent to the coup, and which demand both Obama and his successor Trump insist must be imposed upon and obeyed by Crimeans if the anti-Russia sanctions are even possibly to end, is the demand that Crimeans, in that May 2013 poll, even prior to the bloody Obama coup and the takeover of Ukraine by rabidly anti-Crimean Ukrainian nazishad supported by only 2% (it was demanding reimposition of the brief 1991 Ukrainian relationship, which Crimeans had rejected in 1991), as compared to the 53% of Crimeans who favored continuation of Crimean “autonomy,” and the 23% who favored becoming Russians again.

Furthermore, the May 2013 poll showed that only 17% of Crimeans favored becoming part of the EU, whereas 53% preferred to be part of the “Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan”; so, clearly, Crimeans, prior to the democratically elected Ukrainian Government’s having declined the EU’s offer, overwhelmingly wanted Ukraine’s democratically elected Government to do precisely what it did — to turn down the EU’s offer.

During the U.S. coup, and immediately after it, until the 16 March 2014 Crimean referendum on what to do about it, Crimeans saw and heard on television and via the other Ukrainian media, reports that could only have terrified them about the new Government’s intentions. Clearly the U.S. regime had no objection to placing nazis in charge, and Crimeans are intensely anti-nazi — not only anti-Nazi during Hitler’s time, but against nazism, the racist-fascist ideology, itself, regardless of which group it’s targeting; but, in their case, it targets Crimeans, and, more broadly, Russians.

A January 2015 poll of Crimeans was financed by the U.S.-allied Canadian Government, and never made public by them but released in early February only on an obscure site of the polling organization and never reported to the public in the Western press, and this poll found (probably to the sponsors’ enormous disappointment) that 93% of respondents did “endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea” and 4% did not. On 16 March 2015, the U.S. State Department issued a statement: “On this one year anniversary of the sham ‘referendum’ in Crimea, held in clear violation of Ukrainian law and the Ukrainian constitution, the United States reiterates its condemnation of a vote that was not voluntary, transparent, or democratic.” No evidence was provided for any of that assertion, simply the allegation. Four days later, the far more honest Kenneth Rapoza at Forbes headlined “One Year After Russia Annexed Crimea,” and he opened:

The U.S and European Union may want to save Crimeans from themselves. But the Crimeans are happy right where they are. One year after the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea, poll after poll shows that the locals there — be they Ukrainians, ethnic Russians or Tatars are mostly all in agreement: life with Russia is better than life with Ukraine.

Little has changed over the last 12 months. Despite huge efforts on the part of Kiev, Brussels, Washington and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the bulk of humanity living on the Black Sea peninsula believe the referendum to secede from Ukraine was legit.  At some point, the West will have to recognize Crimea’s right to self rule.

The U.S. and its allies have a different idea than that. They reject Rapoza’s view.

The United States claims to support ‘democracy’. But it demands imposition upon Crimeans of a rabidly anti-Crimean Government. What kind of ‘democracy’ does the United States actually support? Has the U.S. Government answered that question in Crimea — and, in Ukraine — by its actionsthere? Obama supported this kind of ‘democracy’, and this kind. He wanted this kind of treatment of Crimeans. Trump hasn’t yet made clear whether he does, too; but his official representatives have made clear that they do.

America has a militarized economy. It also currently has the very highest percentage of its people in prison out of all of the world’s 222 countries and so certainly qualifies as a police state (which Americans who are lucky enough to be not amongst the lower socio-economic classes might find to be a shocking thing to assert). On top of that, everyone knows that America’s military spending is by far the highest in the world, but many don’t know that it’s the most corrupt and so the U.S. actually spends around half of the entire world’s military budget and that the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department is even so corrupt that it has been unauditable and thus unaudited for decades, and that many U.S. military programs are counted in other federal departments in order to hide from the public how much is actually being spent each year on the military, which is well over a trillion dollars annually, probably more than half of all federal discretionary (which excludes interest on the debt, some of which pays for prior wars) spending. So, it’s a very militarized economy, indeed.

This is today’s American ‘democracy’. Is it also ‘democracy’ in America’s allied countries? (Obviously, they are more democratic than America regarding just the incarceration-rate; but what about generally?) Almost all of those countries continue to say that America is a democracy (despite the proof that it is not), and that they are likewise. Are they correct in both? Are they allied with a ‘democracy’ against democracy? Or, are they, in fact, phonies as democracies? These are serious questions, and bumper-sticker answers to them won’t suffice anymore — not after invading Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011, and Syria right afterward, and Ukraine in 2014, and Yemen today, etc.

Please send this article along to friends, and ask for their thoughts about this. Because, in any actual democracy, everyone should be discussing these issues, under the prevailing circumstances. Taxpayer-funded mass-slaughter is now routine and goes on year after year. After a few decades of this, shouldn’t people start discussing the matter? Why haven’t they been? Isn’t this the time to start? Or is America so much of a dictatorship that it simply won’t happen? We’ll see.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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