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Do you think his assessment is accurate?

Paul Craig Roberts has been uniquely visionary in his search for reality in a “post-factual” age.

The Saker

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This article was written for the Unz Review

“Do you think his assessment is accurate?” was the subject line of an email I got from a good friend recently.  The email referred to the article by Paul Craig Roberts “One Day Tomorrow Won’t Arrive” which claimed that “the US military is now second class compared to the Russian military“.  The article then went on to list a number of Russian weapons systems which were clearly superior to their US counterparts (when those even existed).  My reply was short “Basically yes. The USA definitely has the quantitative advantage, but in terms of quality and training, Russia is way ahead. It all depends on on specific scenarios, but yes, PCR is basically spot on“.  This email exchange took place after an interesting meeting I had with a very well informed American friend who, in total contrast to PCR, insisted that the USA had total military supremacy over any other country and that the only thing keeping the USA from using this overwhelming military might was that US leaders did not believe in the “brutal, unconstrained, use of force”.  So what is going on here?  Why do otherwise very well informed people have such totally contradictory views?

First, a disclaimer.  To speak with any authority on this topic I would have to have access to a lot of classified data both on the US armed forces and on the Russian ones.  Alas, I don’t.  So what follows is entirely based on open/public sources, conversations with some personal contacts mixed in with some, shall we say, educated guesswork.  Still, I am confident that what follows is factually correct and logically analyzed.

To sum up the current state of affairs I would say that the fact that the US armed forces are in a grave state of decay is not as amazing by itself as is the fact that this almost impossible to hide fact is almost universally ignored.  So let’s separate the two into “what happened” and “why nobody seems to be aware of it”.

What happened

Let’s begin at the beginning: the US armed forces were never the invincible military force the US propaganda (including Hollywood) would have you believe they have been.  I looked into the topic of the role of the western Allies in my “Letter to my American friend” and I won’t repeat it all here.  Let’s just say that the biggest advantage the USA had over everybody else during WWII is a completely untouched industrial base which made it possible to produce fantastic numbers of weapon systems and equipment in close to ideal conditions.  Some, shall we kindly say, “patriotic” US Americans have interpreted that as a sign of the “vigor” and “superiority” of the Capitalist economic organization while, in reality, this simply was a direct result of the fact that the USA was protected by two huge oceans (the Soviets, in contrast, had to move their entire industrial base to the Urals and beyond, as for the Germans, they had to produce under a relentless bombing campaign).  The bottom line was this: US forces were better equipped (quantitatively and, sometimes, even qualitatively) than the others and they could muster firepower in amounts difficult to achieve for their enemies.  And, yes, this did give a strong advantage to US forces, but hardly made them in any way “better” by themselves.

After WWII the USA was the only major industrialized country on the planet whose industry had not been blown to smithereens and for the next couple of decades the USA enjoyed a situation to quasi total monopoly.  That, again, hugely benefited the US armed forces but it soon became clear that in Korea and Vietnam that advantage, while real, did not necessarily result in any US victory.  Following Vietnam, US politicians basically limited their aggression to much smaller countries who had no chance at all to meaningfully resist, nevermind prevail.  If we look at the list of US military aggressions after Vietnam (see here or here) we can clearly see that the US military specialized in attacking defenseless countries.

Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War and the Global War on Terror when US politicians clearly believed in their own propaganda about being the “sole superpower” or a “hyperpower” and they engaged in potentially much more complex military attacks including the full-scale invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.  These wars will go down in history as case studies of what happens when politicians believe their own propaganda.  While Dubya declared victory as soon as the invasion was completed, it soon became clear to everybody that this war was a disaster from which the USA has proved completely unable to extricate themselves (even the Soviets connected the dots and withdrew from Afghanistan faster than the US Americans!).  So what does all this tell us about the US armed forces: (in no special order)

  1. They are big, way bigger than any other
  2. They have unmatched (worldwide) power projection (mobility) capabilities
  3. They are high-tech heavy which gives them a big advantage in some type of conflicts
  4. They have the means (nukes) to wipe-off any country off the face of the earth
  5. They control the oceans and strategic chokepoints

Is that enough to win a war?

Actually, no, it is not.  All it takes to nullify these advantages is an enemy who is aware of them and who refuses to fight what I call the “American type of war” (on this concept, see here).  The recent wars in Lebanon, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq have clearly shown that well-adapted tactics mostly deny the US armed forces the advantages listed above or, at the very least, make them irrelevant.

If we accept Clausewitz’s thesis that “war is the continuation of politics by other means” then it becomes clear that the US has not won a real war in a long long time and that the list of countries willing to openly defy Uncle Sam is steadily growing (and now includes not only Iran and the DPRK, but also Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Venezuela and even Russia and China).  This means that there is an emerging consensus amongst the countries which the USA tries to threaten and bully into submission that for all the threats and propaganda the USA is not nearly as formidable enemy as some would have you believe.

Why nobody seems to be aware of it

The paradoxical thing is that while this is clearly well understood in the countries which the USA is currently trying to threaten and bully into submission, this is also completely ignored and overlooked inside the United States themselves.  Most Americans, including very well informed ones, sincerelybelieve that their armed forces are “second to none” and that the USA could crush any enemy which would dare disobey or otherwise defy the AngloZionist Empire.  Typically, when presented with evidence that the USAF, USN and NATO could not even defeat the Serbian Army Corps in Kosovo or that in Afghanistan the US military performance is very substantially inferior to what the 40th Soviet Army achieved (with mostly conscripts!), my interlocutors always reply the same thing: “yeah, maybe, but if we wanted we could nuke them!“.  This is both true and false.  Potential nuclear target countries for the USA can be subdivided into three categories:

  1. Countries who, if nuked themselves, could wipe the USA off the face of the earth completely (Russia) or, at least, inflict immense damage upon the USA (China).
  2. Those countries which the USA could nuke without fearing retaliation in kind, but which still could inflict huge conventional and asymmetric damage on the USA and its allies (Iran, DPRK).
  3. Those countries which the USA could nuke with relative impunity but which the USA could also crush with conventional forces making the use of nukes pointless (Venezuela, Cuba).

And, of course, in all these cases the first use of nukes by the USA would result in a fantastic political backlash with completely unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences.  For example, I personally believe that using nukes on Iran would mark the end of NATO in Europe as such an action would irreparably damage EU-US relations.  Likewise, using nukes on the DPRK would result in a huge crisis in Asia with, potentially, the closure of US bases in Korea and Japan.  Others would, no doubt, disagree 🙂

The bottom line: US nukes are only useful as a deterrent against other nuclear powers; for all other roles they are basically useless.  And since neither Russia or China would ever contemplate a first-strike against the USA, you could say that they are almost totally useless (I say almost, because in the real world the USA cannot simply rely on the mental sanity and goodwill of other nations; so, in reality, the US nuclear arsenal is truly a vital component of US national security).

Which leaves the Navy and the Army.  The USN still controls the high seas and strategic choke points, but this is becoming increasingly irrelevant, especially in the context of local wars.  Besides, the USN is still stubbornly carrier-centric, which just goes to show that strategic vision comes a distant second behind bureaucratic and institutional inertia.  As for the US Army, it has long become a kind of support force for Special Operations and Marines, something which makes sense in tiny wars (Panama, maybe Venezuela) but which is completely inadequate for medium to large wars.

What about the fact that the USA spends more of “defense” (read “wars of aggression”) than the rest of the planet combined?  Surely that counts for something?

Actually, no, it does not.  First, because most of that money is spent on greasing the pockets of an entire class of MIC-parasites which make billions of dollars in the free for all “bonanza” provided by that ridiculously bloated “defense” budget.  The never mentioned reality is that compared to the USA, even the Ukrainian military establishment looks as only “moderately corrupt”!

[Sidebar: you think I am exaggerating?  Ask yourself a simple question: why does the USA need 17 intelligence agencies while the rest of the world usually need from 2 to 5?  Do you really, sincerely, believe that this has anything to do with national security?  If you do, please email me, I got a few bridges to sell to you at great prices!  Seriously, just the fact that the USA has about 5 times more “intelligence” agencies than the rest of the planet is a clear symptom of the the truly astronomical level of corruption of the US “national security state”]

Weapons system after weapons system we see cases in which the overriding number one priority is to spend as much money as possible as opposed to deliver a weapon system soldiers could actually fight with.  When these systems are engaged, they are typically engaged against adversaries which are two to three generations behind the USA, and that makes them look formidable.  Not only that, but in each case the US has a huge numerical advantage (hence the choice of small country to attack).  But I assure you that for real military specialists the case for the superiority of US weapons systems in a joke.  For example, French systems (such as the Rafale or the Leclerc MBT) are often both better and cheaper than there US equivalents, hence the need for major bribes and major “offset agreements“.

The Russian military budget is tiny, at least compared to the US one.  But, as William EngdalDmitrii Orlov and others have observed, the Russians get a much bigger bang for the buck.  Not only are Russian weapon systems designed by soldiers for soldiers (as opposed to by engineers for bureaucrats), but the Russian military is far less corrupt than the US one, at least when mega-bucks sums are concerned (for petty sums of money the Russians are still much worse than the Americans).  At the end of the day, you get the kind of F-35 vs SU-35/T-50 or, even more relevantly, the kind of mean time between failure or man-hours to flight hour ratios we have seen from the US and Russian forces over Syria recently.  Suffice to say that the Americans could not even begin to contemplate to execute the number of sorties the tiny Russian Aerospace task force in Syria achieved.  Still,  the fact remains that if the US Americans wanted it they could keep hundred of aircraft in the skies above Syria whereas the tiny Russian Russian Aerospace task never had more than 35 combat aircraft at any one time: the current state of the Russian military industry simply does not allow for the production of the number of systems Russia would need (but things are slowly getting better).

So here we have it: the Americans are hands down the leaders in quantitative terms; but in qualitative terms they are already behind the Russians and falling back faster and faster with each passing day.

Do the US military commanders know that?

Of course they do.

But remember what happened to Trump when he mentioned serious problems in the US military?  The Clinton propaganda machine instantly attacked him for being non-patriotic, for “not supporting the troops”, for not repeating the politically obligatory mantra about “we’re number one, second to none” and all the infantile nonsense the US propaganda machine feeds those who still own a TV at home.  To bluntly and honestly speak about the very real problems of the US armed forces is much more likely to be a career-ending exercise than a way to reform a hopelessly corrupt system.

There is one more thing.  Not to further dwell on my thesis that most US Americans are not educated enough to understand basic Marxist theory, but the fact is that most of them know nothing about Hegelian dialectics.  They, therefore, view things in a static way, not as processes.  For example, when they compliment themselves on having “the most powerful and capable military in the history of mankind” (they love that kind of language), they don’t even realize that this alleged superiority will inevitably generate its own contradiction and that this strength would therefore also produce its own weakness.  Well-read US American officers, and there are plenty of those, do understand that, but their influence is almost negligible when compared to the multi-billion dollar and massively corrupt superstructure they are immersed in.  Furthermore, I am absolutely convinced that this state of affairs is unsustainable and that sooner or later there will appear a military or political leader which will have the courage to address these problems frontally and try to reform a currently petrified system.  But the prerequisite for that will probably have to be a massive and immensely embarrassing military defeat for the USA.  I can easily imagine that happening in case of a US attack on Iran or the DPRK.  I can guarantee it if the US leadership grows delusional enough to try to strike at Russia or China.

But for the time being its all gonna be “red, white and blue” and Paul Craig Roberts will remain a lone voice crying in the desert.  He will be ignored, yes.  But that does not change the fact that he is right.

The Saker

PS: As for myself, I want to dedicate this song by Vladimir Vysotskii to Paul Craig Roberts and to all the other “Cassandras” who have the ability to see the future and the courage to warn us about it.  They usually end up paying a high price for their honesty and courage.

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Skripal and Khashoggi: A Tale of Two Disappearances

Two disappearances, and two different responses.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Two disappearances, and two very different responses from Western governments, which illustrates their rank hypocrisy.

When former Russian spy Sergei Skripal went missing in England earlier this year, there was almost immediate punitive action by the British government and its NATO allies against Moscow. By contrast, Western governments are straining with restraint towards Saudi Arabia over the more shocking and provable case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The outcry by Western governments and media over the Skripal affair was deafening and resulted in Britain, the US and some 28 other countries expelling dozens of Russian diplomats on the back of unsubstantiated British allegations that the Kremlin tried to assassinate an exiled spy with a deadly nerve agent. The Trump administration has further tightened sanctions citing the Skripal incident.

London’s case against Moscow has been marked by wild speculation and ropey innuendo. No verifiable evidence of what actually happened to Sergei Skripal (67) and his daughter Yulia has been presented by the British authorities. Their claim that President Vladimir Putin sanctioned a hit squad armed with nerve poison relies on sheer conjecture.

All we know for sure is that the Skripals have been disappeared from public contact by the British authorities for more than seven months, since the mysterious incident of alleged poisoning in Salisbury on March 4.

Russian authorities and family relatives have been steadfastly refused any contact by London with the Skripal pair, despite more than 60 official requests from Moscow in accordance with international law and in spite of the fact that Yulia is a citizen of the Russian Federation with consular rights.

It is an outrage that based on such thin ice of “evidence”, the British have built an edifice of censure against Moscow, rallying an international campaign of further sanctions and diplomatic expulsions.

Now contrast that strenuous reaction, indeed hyper over-reaction, with how Britain, the US, France, Canada and other Western governments are ever-so slowly responding to Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.

After nearly two weeks since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the Saudi regime is this week finally admitting he was killed on their premises – albeit, they claim, in a “botched interrogation”.

Turkish and American intelligence had earlier claimed that Khashoggi was tortured and murdered on the Saudi premises by a 15-member hit squad sent from Riyadh.

Even more grisly, it is claimed that Khashoggi’s body was hacked up with a bone saw by the killers, his remains secreted out of the consulate building in boxes, and flown back to Saudi Arabia on board two private jets connected to the Saudi royal family.

What’s more, the Turks and Americans claim that the whole barbaric plot to murder Khashoggi was on the orders of senior Saudi rulers, implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The latest twist out of Riyadh, is an attempt to scapegoat “rogue killers” and whitewash the House of Saudi from culpability.

The fact that 59-year-old Khashoggi was a legal US resident and a columnist for the Washington Post has no doubt given his case such prominent coverage in Western news media. Thousands of other victims of Saudi vengeance are routinely ignored in the West.

Nevertheless, despite the horrific and damning case against the Saudi monarchy, the response from the Trump administration, Britain and others has been abject.

President Trump has blustered that there “will be severe consequences” for the Saudi regime if it is proven culpable in the murder of Khashoggi. Trump quickly qualified, however, saying that billion-dollar arms deals with the oil-rich kingdom will not be cancelled. Now Trump appears to be joining in a cover-up by spinning the story that the Khashoggi killing was done by “rogue killers”.

Britain, France and Germany this week issued a joint statement calling for “a credible investigation” into the disappearance. But other than “tough-sounding” rhetoric, none of the European states have indicated any specific sanctions, such as weapons contracts being revoked or diplomatic expulsions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “concerned” by the gruesome claims about Khashoggi’s killing, but he reiterated that Ottawa would not be scrapping a $15 billion sale of combat vehicles to Riyadh.

The Saudi rulers have even threatened retaliatory measures if sanctions are imposed by Western governments.

Saudi denials of official culpability seem to be a brazen flouting of all reason and circumstantial evidence that Khashoggi was indeed murdered in the consulate building on senior Saudi orders.

This week a glitzy international investor conference in Saudi Arabia is being boycotted by top business figures, including the World Bank chief, Jim Yong Kim, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Britain’s venture capitalist Richard Branson. Global firms like Ford and Uber have pulled out, as have various media sponsors, such as CNN, the New York Times and Financial Times. Withdrawal from the event was in response to the Khashoggi affair.

A growing bipartisan chorus of US Senators, including Bob Corker, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Chris Murphy, have called for the cancellation of American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as for an overhaul of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Still, Trump has rebuffed calls for punitive response. He has said that American jobs and profits depend on the Saudi weapons market. Some 20 per cent of all US arms sales are estimated to go to the House of Saud.

The New York Times this week headlined: “In Trump’s Saudi Bargain, the Bottom Line Proudly Stands Out”.

The Trump White House will be represented at the investment conference in Saudi Arabia this week – dubbed “Davos in the Desert” by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He said he was attending in spite of the grave allegations against the Saudi rulers.

Surely the point here is the unseemly indulgence by Western governments of Saudi Arabia and its so-called “reforming” Crown Prince. It is remarkable how much credulity Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and others are affording the Saudi despots who, most likely, have been caught redhanded in a barbarous murder.

Yet, when it comes to Russia and outlandish, unproven claims that the Kremlin carried out a bizarre poison-assassination plot, all these same Western governments abandon all reason and decorum to pile sanctions on Russia based on lurid, hollow speculation. The blatant hypocrisy demolishes any pretense of integrity or principle.

Here is another connection between the Skripal and Khashoggi affairs. The Saudis no doubt took note of the way Britain’s rulers have shown absolute disregard and contempt for international law in their de facto abduction of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. If the British can get away with that gross violation, then the Saudis probably thought that nobody would care too much if they disappeared Jamal Khashoggi.

Grotesquely, the way things are shaping up in terms of hypocritical lack of action by the Americans, British and others towards the Saudi despots, the latter might just get away with murder. Not so Russia. The Russians are not allowed to get away with even an absurd fantasy.

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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