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Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs delivers philosophical message to United Nations

The speech covered both the approach and effects of true peace, human dignity and human rights.

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Alan Peter Cayetano, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Philippines, delivered a lengthy address to the UN General Assembly that deserves close attention.

With the days agenda largely dominated by speeches from both the Syrian Arab Republic and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, many other important speeches got lost in the fray. Among these, the speech from Philippines was deeply important for its explanatory value of the situation in Philippines as well as for the philosophical and even spiritual approach to global problem solving that Cayetano offered.

During the speech, Cayetano made it clear that far from violating human rights as certain western politicians have stated, Philippines is actually preserving the life, liberties and human rights of Philippine citizens by taking a strong law and order based approach to drugs. The zero tolerance policies of President Rodrigo Duterte remain popular among Philippine people because of this. These measures do not curtail but expand the human rights, dignity, safety and health of the Philippine people.

As Cayetano explained, when a nation is fuelled by drugs it becomes a nation in the grip of violence. He asked his audience of fellow nations, how a nation can truly be sovereign if it is in the grips of drug violence and on the verge of becoming a narco-state?

He further stated that because of the indelible link between narco-cash and the financing of terrorism, it is explicitly crucial to crack down on the international drugs trade with the same fortitude with which it is necessary to crack down on terrorism, even as the so-called ISIS is being vanquished in both Syria and Iraq.

Cayetano also spoke of the need to cooperate increasingly with neighbours and partners, naming China as one such country.

Unlike many UN speeches, Cayetano’s address implored  the world to listen as well as talk. He explained that during his campaign, Rodrigo Duterte spoke less and promised less than his opponents, but that he listened more. He listened to the needs, worries and goals of the people and because of this he was granted a victory in a democratic election.

This attitude as pioneered by President Duterte, is one that the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs said was in keeping with the goals to prevent war from breaking out. He stated that people must listen and talk to friends as well as enemies in a subtle allusion to the notion that insults and threats is not the way to solve the North Korean issue.

Below is the full text of Alan Peter Cayetano’s speech in addition to a video of the address.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children
of GOD. Matthew 5:9
Mr. President, Excellencies,
The path to peace must be walked with patience. To achieve any
purpose with others—be they powers or people, patience is
needed. The opposite of patience is impatience—the cause and
aggravation of conflict.

Someone said that “Talk, talk is better than war, war.” Listening is
even better than talking. We must listen to others more than we
listen to ourselves. Hopefully we know what we are talking about.
But others may know what we do not. We can learn only if we
stop talking, and listen.

We may think we know how others can do things better than
they’ve done it. Maybe our way is more efficient. But the time
gained by that efficiency will be time lost convincing others that
our way is better, rather than a compromise between our way and
theirs.

Real change in the world order necessitates cooperation. Nothing
affecting others can be undertaken without their willing
involvement, without getting their agreement on the purpose and
manner of it. Achieving a shared purpose beyond any single one’s
ability requires cooperation.

But how else can we get cooperation if not with the patience to
explain why it is needed—and the equal patience to listen.
This is why we have the United Nations, the largest cooperative
endeavor in human history. We use the UN to speak out but
equally also to listen. And somehow arrive at a consensus, or at
least a modus vivendi on how to proceed—in peace and therefore
with a greater prospect of progress.

The theme for this year’s session— “Focusing on people: striving
for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet”—
captures a promise that everyone who has stood here vowed to
fulfill for his people, and the rest of the peoples of the United
Nations, as the Preamble of the Charter puts it.

Yet, after 72 years, while much has been achieved, much more
has to be done. The promise is still very much a work in progress.
We, the peoples of the United Nations, battle new threats that
undermine such success as we’ve achieved, and frustrate further
progress in peace, development and human rights— the three
pillars of the United Nations.

Your theme, Mr. President, mirrors the Philippines own peoplecentered
agenda as articulated by President Rodrigo Roa
Duterte.
President Duterte and The Filipino People are committed to real
change, to finally carrying out long needed reforms, to addressing
national threats long ignored, protecting the human rights of all
Filipinos, while doing our part in attaining regional peace and
stability.

We remain true to our obligations under the international treaties
we have ratified. We have made much sacrifices and continue to
be willing to make sacrifices.

The Philippines integrates the human rights agenda in its
development initiatives for the purpose of protecting everyone,
especially the most vulnerable, from lawlessness, violence, and
anarchy; particularly families, women and children, the poor,
indigenous people, migrant workers, the elderly, and persons with
disabilities.

This is why we have a massive campaign to restore the rule of
law by fighting corruption, crime and illegal drugs. We owe it to
the 10 million Filipinos working overseas to keep their children
and family safe. We owe this to the all Filipino Families.
The very principle of The Responsibility to Protect must
encompass first and foremost the vast majority of peaceful lawabiding
people who must be protected from those who are not. It
is for their safety and sustenance that states exist, and for which
governments and leaders are responsible.

President Duterte said fewest words and made least promises in
the campaign because he listened. He listened and he heard
what none of the other candidates would listen to. The vast
majority of Filipinos felt vulnerable in their lives and livelihoods,
unsafe in the rising drug-driven criminality that threatened those
least able to protect themselves. They were also those past
governments had least protected: poor and ordinary folk.
The Philippines comprehensive campaign against illegal drugs is
necessary instrument to preserve and protect the human rights of
all Filipinos, and never an instrument to violate any individual’s or
group’s human rights.

War vs. Illegal Drugs

It was noted in this hall, that “all sovereign nations must uphold
two core sovereign obligations: to respect the interests of their
own people and the sovereignty of other nations.” This is true as
much in bi-lateral relations between sovereign countries, as when
they combine multilaterally on some common decision or action.
The Philippines is a sovereign country. Indeed, it was the first
subject nation to win its independence however short-lived,
thereby earning the honor of being the First Republic in Asia. It
expects that sovereignty to be respected, and that its
democratically-elected government’s assessment of threats and
how to go about addressing them shall be accorded preeminence
among nations—or at least the benefit of their doubt.
We prize sovereignty in all its aspects. We acknowledge the
wisdom, and borrow the words here spoken: “All responsible
leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens first.” In
keeping with that obligation, it is a state’s duty to protect human
life, human dignity, and human rights—from aggression by other
states, terrorism from non-state actors, and the destruction of
societies and families from criminal networks trafficking in drugs,
people and arms.

As a responsible leader, the Philippine president launched a
vigorous campaign against the illegal drug trade to save lives,
preserve families, protect communities and stop the country’s
slide into a narco-state. An epidemic that would spell the end of
sovereignty in any meaningful sense.

As of August 2017, the drug trade had penetrated atleast 24,848
barangays. This is 59% of the total of 42,036 of the smallest
government units spanning our archipelago, the ones directly in
touch with our people. Where is sovereignty in a country where
vast numbers are addicted to drugs and enslaved to their
suppliers?

To be sure, drug addiction calls for cure and not chastisement.
When the President showed his fierce determination to end the
drug menace, 1.3 million drug users turned themselves in. But the
neglect of the drug problem by previous governments has left the
current one hard pressed to rehabilitate them all. We are thankful
that generous souls at home and abroad are building centers all
around the country.

While drug addiction calls for rehabilitation, drug trafficking surely
calls for stern measures—though always consistent with the rule
of law. The President has and will always have zero-tolerance for
abusive cops, as time will show.

But accusation before investigation is not proof. Nor is it fair.
Abuses have occurred and mistakes have been made, tragic
ones for sure. While one abuse is one too many, still the abuses
are far less than the imaginary numbers of partisan accusers and
publicity seekers. The drug trade has penetrated even law
enforcement. And yet we are getting a message that the best way
to stop abuses in the antidrug campaign is to stop the campaign
and live with drugs instead.

But we cannot live with drugs because drugs will not let us live.
We can no more live with drugs than with terrorism, which, the
United Nations admits, and as we have discovered is funded by
the drug trade. This has created the new phenomenon of criminal
insurgency.

In the century before last, a huge and well-populated Asian
country was enslaved by a maritime power which flooded it with
drugs.

We welcome this opportunity to address the international
community’s concerns and correct the perceptions gleaned from
media reports that deny the real scale of the problem as if denial
is a solution. The problem is huge and we will not reduce it in our
imagination because we dare not face it in reality.

Appeasement emboldens evil. We counsel patience but delay will
make the problem bigger until it is beyond containment and
control. Indeed, as we have heard in this hall, “When decent
people and nations become bystanders, the forces of destruction
only gather power and strength.” We will not slide down the slope
of complacency, and of willful ignorance of the threat to our
country and our people posed by the drug trade.

Counterterrorism and Violent Extremism

In the past four years, we have seen the rise of the Islamic State
and how it has been able to spread its nihilistic ideology beyond
Iraq and Syria to become a serious threat to the world.
We should hold no illusion that the threat posed by the Islamic
State will be over with the collapse of its self-proclaimed caliphate
in Iraq and very soon in Syria. Rather, we should all be ready to
confront a very potent threat that has spread to other parts of the
world.

In the Philippines, we have discovered the intimate and symbiotic
relationship between terrorism vis-à-vis poverty and the illegal
drug trade. These terrorists were somehow able to bring together
an assortment of extremists, criminals, mercenaries and foreign
fighters who attempted but failed to take control of Marawi. This
was part of their grand plan to establish in Southeast Asia an
extension of their shattered caliphate in the Middle East.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines shall regain full control of
Marawi from Islamic State-inspired terrorists. Their protracted
hold on their last several square meters of the city is largely a
result of superior arms illegally obtained, and the presence of
civilian hostages used by them as human shields. There is also
the government’s forbearance to unleash greater force so as to
avoid collateral loss of life. The fight has been terrible but the
effort has been patient and done with care to spare the innocent.
There’s been less talk and more listening to those with the most
at stake in the struggle: the people of Marawi. The disturbance
will be over soon and the rebuilding of Marawi will begin shortly.
Terrorism is a global problem that no country can tackle alone;
although here at the UN it was noted with some admiration that
Filipino families outside the conflict zone quickly absorbed most of
the 200,000 displaced civilians. Our main disaster preparedness
is compassion. The Filipino family system is strong and
cooperation is a Philippine tradition: help from fellow Filipinos is
always at hand. While the main burden is borne by our
government and people, and all the risks are taken by our
soldiers, we are thankful for such assistance as the international
community has extended. Thank you are dear friends for helping
when we needed it most.

The Philippines welcomes the creation of the United Nations
Counter-Terrorism Office to bring into a cohesive whole the work
on counterterrorism by Member States and the UN. It will be a
sharing of experiences and sober reflections rather than of blind
anxieties. That way lies real results.

Rule of Law

As a founding member of the UN, the Philippines has been a
strong advocate of the rule of law. We uphold the core of the UN
mission – to draw upon the strength and sovereign equality of its
members to achieve their common goals.
Mr. President,
Centuries ago, the ambition for land to take invited long and
terrible wars. The battle has shifted to the seas, hence the need
to affirm our commitment to UNCLOS, as the international law
governing the rights and responsibilities of States Parties in their
use of the world’s oceans.

The issues are numerous, intertwined and complex. Territorial
claims, Sovereignty rights, security and protection of marine life
and resources, to name a few.

Dialogue, building trust and promoting cooperation to address
issues of concern is the way forward in addressing maritime
disputes.

The Philippines, as ASEAN Chairman this year, looks forward to
commencing negotiations on the long-overdue code of conduct in
West Philippine Sea/South China Sea. We thank the individual
ASEAN states and China for their utmost cooperation in this
endeavor.

Again in this work, patience, a lot of listening, and willingness to
work with rather than against each other, is essential.
We live in a global community and we are all citizens of the world.
Today, our social contract is no longer confined to the nation
state. In our region, we exert efforts to build bridges and not
walls, to emphasize commonalities and not differences, to think
less that we are Filipinos, Thai, Indonesian, Japanese, Koreans,
Chinese and think more of ourselves as Asians. Beyond being
Asians we are global citizens, the people of the United Nations.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW

Human rights and the dignity of every person is the main pillar of
the United Nations. So it is for the Philippines. As a very spiritual
people we are united in believing that man was created in GOD’s
image. That there can be no compromise on human rights–of
those who break the law and surely, too, of those who are their
victims. We also believe in accountability, not least in the
practical conviction that as we sow so shall we reap.
We should never tolerate human rights abuses but neither should
we tolerate misinformation, fake news on and politicization of
human rights, for these undermine our collective efforts as the
United Nations to uphold the universality of human rights and
dignity of human life.

But why debate security versus human rights? Security and
human rights are not incompatible. Indeed, the first is our duty to
the other. Without security, the most basic human rights, to life
and safety, are constantly under attack—from terrorism,
criminality, drug and human trafficking.
PEACE AND SECURITY

Much has been said about ASEAN. Words like cooperation,
consultation and consensus are identified with it. Critics have
remarked on the slowness of ASEAN’s way of proceeding. Yet
slow as ASEAN’s progress has been, that progress has been
solid, substantive and irreversible—precisely because of the
patience with which it was made; thereby proving that consensusbased
organizations work better.

Five decades ago, Southeast Asia was marred by conflicts, and
all previous attempts at Southeast Asian regionalism proved
extremely difficult. Our different cultures and differing ideologies
and political systems only reinforced this pessimistic outlook.
Fifty years hence, the ASEAN miracle prevails with greater
political and economic prospects that have gripped global interest.
ASEAN has overcome the divisions, fears, and hostilities of the
past. We have used regional cooperation to promote growth,
development and integration and peaceful settlement of disputes.
Today, the Philippines patiently builds stronger relationships with
the international community through the ASEAN and the United
Nations. We remain a friend to all and an enemy to none—to
bridge, to build, a more peaceful, secure and stable world.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

There is no development without peace, and no peace without
development. This is what the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development provides. It serves as the template of the Philippine
Development Plan called Ambisyon Natin 2040 or Our Ambition
2040.
While the Philippines has experienced unprecedented economic
growth, we are adopting measures to make growth more inclusive
by massive poverty alleviation programs, creating more jobs,
driving innovation, making quality education universally available.
Relevant education that imparts training and skill building to make
people resilient in changing markets, building greater trust in
government with the hope for result of raising tens of millions of
Filipinos from poverty.

There is a link between increasing poverty, corruption and a
deteriorating environment. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte seeks
to reverse this linkage by addressing the adverse effects of
climate change – to which the Philippines is most vulnerable –
through disaster risk reduction and through strict implementation
of laws protecting the environment.

To honor the immense sacrifices of our 10 Million Filipinos abroad
– and all other migrant workers of the world making huge
sacrifices so that their families may have a better life – we press
on with our advocacy of the Global Compact on Migration. As we
seek to improve conditions for foreign nationals living and working
in the Philippines, we advocate the fundamental concept of loving
our neighbor as we love ourselves. We call on the UN to elevate
migration in its agenda.

Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
If we listen to each other, we will hear the same thing. We have
no need for nuclear weapons. There is absolutely no benefit in
another cold war, neither in an arms race. We want nuclear
weapons to be a thing of the past and we do not want an arms
race anywhere in the world.

On July 7, the Philippines joined 121 other member-states in
securing our world from weapons of mass destruction by adopting
the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Three days
ago, I signed the Treaty. The Philippines calls on Member States
with nuclear weapons to likewise sign on. We can only have a
safe world if we get rid of all nuclear and other weapons of mass
destruction. By doing so, we “save succeeding generations from
the scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has brought untold
sorrow to mankind.”

The Philippines, on its own, and as this year’s chair of ASEAN,
has expressed its grave concern over the growing tensions in the
Korean Peninsula because of the Democratic People’s Republic
of Korea’s missile test launches and detonations. The Philippines
joins the call on the DPRK to put a stop to its provocations, which
bring us closer to an unimaginable scenario: a war to end all wars
because no one will be left to fight new ones.

Let me end where I began and call again for patience, for listening
and for cooperation, focused always on the wellbeing of, to quote
the Charter’s preamble, “We, the peoples of the United Nations.”
Let us listen to each other as we are the people of the United
Nations. Our Faith and destiny as human beings of this planet are
intertwined.

In a situation like the present, where every finger in and around
the Korean Peninsula is on a trigger, every eye is out for a wrong
move, the likelihood of a surprise attack is virtually zero. In that
situation, no one can be caught by surprise and unprepared to
strike back.

So what is there to lose by going on talking and listening until the
very last moment?

Patience, listening as much as talking, cooperation among friends
and even enemies: these are the signposts on the path of peace.
Peace is about peoples. No people and no country can have a
national identity if there are no others who can tell the difference.
Without peoples—each one different yet all the same in their
being and in the good they seek—it is impossible to imagine the
world. To utter the phrase “the world” means a planet with many
peoples sharing it.

All of us are pieces of a giant puzzle. We seek to be completed by
being pieced together thereby creating a whole, beautiful picture.
In a war of all against all, of everyone each against the other, the
last man standing is not at peace he is but a single piece. He is
not the victor he is simply alone.

Thank you Mr. President.

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Suzanne Giraud
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Suzanne Giraud

Thank you very much for this soulful gem, Mr. Garrie.
I’ll spread this valuable discourse on our greater human potential as sovereign nations united in peace.

bluewater
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bluewater

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Russia’s Economy Little Harmed by West’s Sanctions

Putin has been succeeding despite what the US aristocracy (and its allied aristocracies in Europe and Arabia) have been throwing to weaken Russia.

Eric Zuesse

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Originally posted at strategic-culture.org:


Despite Barack Obama’s economic sanctions against Russia, and the plunge in oil prices that King Saud agreed to with Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry on 11 September 2014, the economic damages that the US and Saudis have aimed against a particular oil-and-gas giant, Russia, have hit mostly elsewhere — at least till now.

This has been happening while simultaneously Obama’s violent February 2014 coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych (and the head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor calls it “the most blatant coup in history”) has caused Ukraine’s economy to plunge even further than Russia’s, and corruption in Ukraine to soar even higher than it was before America’s overthrow of that country’s final freely elected nationwide government, so that Ukraine’s economy has actually been harmed far more than Russia’s was by Obama’s coup in Ukraine and Obama’s subsequent economic sanctions against Russia (sanctions that are based on clear and demonstrable Obama lies but that continue and even get worse under Trump).

Bloomberg News headlined on February 4th of 2016, “These Are the World’s Most Miserable Economies” and reported the “misery index” rankings of 63 national economies as projected in 2016 and 60 as actual in 2015 — a standard ranking-system that calculates “misery” as being the sum of the unemployment-rate and the inflation-rate. They also compared the 2016 projected rankings to the 2015 actual rankings.

Top rank, #1 both years — the most miserable economy in the world during 2015 and 2016 — was Venezuela, because of that country’s 95% dependence upon oil-export earnings (which crashed when oil-prices plunged). The US-Saudi agreement to flood the global oil market destroyed Venezuela’s economy.

#2 most-miserable in 2015 was Ukraine, at 57.8. But Ukraine started bouncing back so that as projected in 2016 it ranked #5, at 26.3. Russia in 2015 was #7 most-miserable in 2015, at 21.1, but bounced back so that as projected in 2016 it became #14 at 14.5.

Bloomberg hadn’t reported misery-index rankings for 2014 showing economic performances during 2013, but economist Steve H. Hanke of Johns Hopkins University did, in his “Measuring Misery Around the World, May 2014,” in the May 2014 GlobeAsia, ranking 90 countries; and, during 2013 (Yanukovych’s final year as Ukraine’s President before his being forced out by Obama’s coup), Ukraine’s rank was #23 and its misery-index was 24.4. Russia’s was #36 and its misery index was 19.9. So: those can be considered to be the baseline-figures, from which any subsequent economic progress or decline (after Obama’s 2014 Ukrainian coup) may reasonably be calculated. Hanke’s figures during the following year, 2014, were reported by him at Huffington Post, “The World Misery Index: 108 Countries”, and by UAE’s Khaleej Times, “List of Most Miserable Countries” (the latter falsely attributing that ranking to Cato Institute, which had merely republished Hanke’s article). In 2014, Ukraine’s misery-index, as calculated by Hanke, was #4, at 51.8. That year had 8 countries above 40 in Hanke’s ranking. Russia was #42 at 21.42. So: Russia’s rank had improved, but, because of the globally bad economy, Russia’s absolute number was slightly worse (higher) than it had been before Obama’s coup in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Russia. By contrast, Ukraine’s rank had suddenly gotten far worse, #4 at 51.80 in 2014, after having been #23 at 24.4 in 2013.

The figures in Bloomberg for Russia were: during 2015, #7 with a misery-index of 21.1; and projected during 2016, #14 with a misery-index of 14.5; so, Bloomberg too showed a 2015-2016 improvement for Russia, and not only for Ukraine (where in the 2016 projection it ranked #5, at 26.3, a sharp improvement after the horrendous 2015 actual numbers).

“Hanke’s Annual Misery Index — 2017” in Forbes, showed 98 countries, and Venezuela was still #1, the worst; Ukraine was now #9 at 36.9; and Russia was #36 at 18.1.

Thus: whereas Russia was economically sunningly stable at #36 from start to finish throughout the entire five-year period 2013-2017, starting with a misery-index of 19.9 in 2013 and ending with 18.1 in 2017, Ukraine went from a misery-index of 24.4 in 2013 to 36.9 in 2017 — and worsening its rank from #23 to #9. During that five-year period Ukraine’s figure peaked in the year of Obama’s coup at 57.8. So, at least Ukraine’s misery seems to be heading back downward in the coup’s aftermath, though it’s still considerably worse than before the coup. But, meanwhile, Russia went from 19.9 to 18.1 — and had no year that was as bad as Ukraine’s best year was during that period of time. And, yet: that coup and the economic sanctions and the US-Saudi oil-agreement were targeted against Russia — not against Ukraine.

If the US were trying to punish the people of Ukraine, then the US coup in Ukraine would have been a raving success; but actually Obama didn’t care at all about Ukrainians. He cared about the owners of America’s weapons-making firms and of America’s extractive firms. Trump likewise.

During that same period (also using Hanke’s numbers) the United States went from #71 at 11.0 in 2013, to #69 at 8.2 in 2017. US was stable.

Saudi Arabia started with #40 18.9 during 2013, to #30 at 20.2 in 2017. That’s improvement, because the Kingdom outperformed the global economy.

During the interim, and even in the years leading up to 2014, Russia had been (and still is) refocusing its economy away from Russia’s natural resources and toward a broad sector of high technology: military R&D and production.

On 15 December 2014, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute headlined, “Sales by Largest Arms Companies Fell Again in 2013, but Russian Firms’ Sales Continued Rising,” and reported, “Sales by companies headquartered in the United States and Canada have continued to moderately decrease, while sales by Russian-based companies increased by 20 per cent in 2013.”

The following year, SIPRI bannered, on 14 December 2015, “Global Arms Industry: West Still Dominant Despite Decline,” and reported that, “Despite difficult national economic conditions, the Russian arms industry’s sales continued to rise in 2014. … ‘Russian companies are riding the wave of increasing national military spending and exports. There are now 11 Russian companies in the Top 100 and their combined revenue growth over 2013–14 was 48.4 per cent,’ says SIPRI Senior Researcher Siemon Wezeman. In contrast, arms sales of Ukrainian companies have substantially declined. … US companies’ arms sales decreased by 4.1 per cent between 2013 and 2014, which is similar to the rate of decline seen in 2012–13. … Western European companies’ arms sales decreased by 7.4 per cent in 2014.”

This is a redirection of the Russian economy that Vladimir Putin was preparing even prior to Obama’s war against Russia. Perhaps it was because of the entire thrust of the US aristocracy’s post-Soviet determination to conquer Russia whenever the time would be right for NATO to strike and grab it. Obama’s public ambivalence about Russia never persuaded Putin that the US would finally put the Cold War behind it and end its NATO alliance as Russia had ended its Warsaw Pact back in 1991. Instead, Obama continued to endorse expanding NATO, right up to Russia’s borders (now even into Ukraine) — an extremely hostile act.

By building the world’s most cost-effective designers and producers of weaponry, Russia wouldn’t only be responding to America’s ongoing hostility — or at least responding to the determination of America’s aristocracy to take over Russia, which is the world’s largest trove of natural resources — but would also expand Russia’s export-earnings and international influence by selling to other countries weaponry that’s less-burdened with the costs of sheer corruption than are the armaments that are being produced in what is perhaps the world’s most corrupt military-industrial complex: America’s. Whereas Putin has tolerated corruption in other areas of Russia’s economic production (figuring that those areas are less crucial for Russia’s future), he has rigorously excluded it in the R&D and production and sales of weaponry. Ever since he first came into office in 2000, he has transformed post-Soviet Russia from being an unlimitedly corrupt satellite of the United States under Boris Yeltsin, to becoming truly an independent nation; and this infuriates America’s aristocrats (who gushed over Yeltsin).

The Russian government-monopoly marketing company for Russia’s weapons-manufacturers, Rosoboronexport, presents itself to nations around the world by saying: “Today, armaments and military equipment bearing the Made in Russia label protect independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of dozens of countries. Owing to their efficiency and reliability, Russian defense products enjoy strong demand on the global market and maintain our nation’s leading positions among the world’s arms exporters. For the past several years, Russia has consistently ranked second behind the United States as regards arms exports.” That’s second-and-rising, as opposed to America’s first-and-falling.

The American aristocracy’s ever-growing war against Russia posed and poses to Putin two simultaneous challenges: both to reorient away from Russia’s natural resources, which the global aristocracy wants to grab, and also to reorient toward the area of hi-tech in which the Soviets had built a basis from which Russia could become truly cost-effective in international commerce, so as to, simultaneously, increase Russia’s defensive capability against an expanding NATO, while also replacing some of Russia’s dependence upon the natural resources that the West’s aristocrats want to steal.

In other words: Putin designed a plan to meet two challenges simultaneously — military and economic. His primary aim is to protect Russia from being grabbed by the American and Saudi aristocrats, via America’s NATO and the Sauds’ Gulf Cooperation Council and other alliances (which are trying to take over Russia’s ally Syria — Syria being a crucial location for pipelining Arab royals’ oil-and-gas into Europe, the world’s largest energy-market).

In addition, the hit to Russia’s economic growth-rate from the dual-onslaught of Obama’s sanctions and the plunging oil prices hasn’t been too bad. The World Bank’s April 2015 “Russia Economic Report” predicted: “Growth prospects for 2015-2016 are negative. It is likely that when the full effects of the two shocks become evident in 2015, they will push the Russian economy into recession. The World Bank baseline scenario sees a contraction of 3.8 percent in 2015 and a modest decline of 0.3 percent in 2016. The growth spectrum presented has two alternative scenarios that largely reflect differences in how oil prices are expected to affect the main macro variables.”

The current (as of 15 February 2016) “Russia GDP Annual Growth Rate” at Trading Economics says: “The Russian economy shrank 3.8 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2015, following a 4.1 percent contraction in the previous period, according to preliminary estimates from the Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev. It is the worst performance since 2009 [George W. Bush’s global economic crash], as Western sanctions and lower oil prices hurt external trade and public revenues.” The current percentage as of today, 17 September 2018, is 1.9%, after having plunged down from 2.2% in late 2017, to 0.9% in late 2017; so, it is rebounding.

The World Bank’s April 2015 “Russia Economic Report” went on to describe “The Government Anti-Crisis Plan”:

On January 27, 2014, the government adopted an anti-crisis plan with the goal to ensure sustainable economic development and social stability in an unfavorable global economic and political environment.

It announced that in 2015–2016 it will take steps to advance structural changes in the Russian economy, provide support to systemic entities and the labor market, lower inflation, and help vulnerable households adjust to price increases. To achieve the objectives of positive growth and sustainable medium-term macroeconomic development the following measures are planned:

• Provide support for import substitution and non-mineral exports;

• Support small and medium enterprises by lowering financing and administrative costs;

• Create opportunities for raising financial resources at reasonable cost in key economic sectors;

• Compensate vulnerable households (e.g., pensioners) for the costs of inflation;

• Cushion the impact on the labor market (e.g. provide training and increase public works);

• Optimize budget expenditures; and

• Enhance banking sector stability and create a mechanism for reorganizing systemic companies.

So: Russia’s anti-crisis plan was drawn up and announced on 27 January 2014, already before Yanukovych was overthrown, even before Obama’s agent Victoria Nuland on 4 February 2014 instructed the US Ambassador in Ukraine whom to have appointed to run the government when the coup would be completed (“Yats,” who did get appointed). Perhaps, in drawing up this plan, Putin was responding to scenes from Ukraine like this. He could see that what was happening in Ukraine was an operation financed by the US CIA. He could recognize what Obama had in mind for Russia.

The “Russia Economic Report, May 2018: Modest Growth Ahead” says:

Global growth continued its 2017 momentum in early 2018. Global growth reached a stronger than- expected 3 percent in 2017 — a notable recovery from a post-crisis low of 2.4 percent in 2016. It is currently expected to peak at 3.1 percent in 2018. Recoveries in investment, manufacturing, and trade continue as commodity-exporting developing economies benefit from firming commodity prices (Figure 1a). The improvement reflects a broad-based recovery in advanced economies, robust growth in commodity-importing Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs), and an ongoing rebound in commodity exporters. Growth in China – and important trading partner for Russia – is expected to continue its gradual slowdown in 2018 following a stronger than-expected 6.9 percent in 2017.

Putin’s economic plan has softened the economic blow upon the masses, even while it has re-oriented the economy toward what would be the future growth-areas.

The country that Putin in 2000 had taken over and inherited from the drunkard Yeltsin (so beloved by Western aristocrats because he permitted them to skim off so much from it) was a wreck even worse than it had been when the Soviet Union ended. Putin immediately set to work to turn it around, in a way that could meet those two demands.

Apparently, Putin has been succeeding — now even despite what the US aristocracy (and its allied aristocracies in Europe and Arabia) have been throwing to weaken Russia. And the Russian people know it.

PS: The present reporter is an American, and used to be a Democrat, not inclined to condemn Democratic politicians, but Obama’s grab for Russia was not merely exceedingly dangerous for the entire world, it is profoundly unjust, it is also based on his (and most Republicans’) neoconservative lies, and so I don’t support it, and I no longer support Obama or his and the Clintons’ Democratic Party, at all. But this certainly doesn’t mean that I support the Republican Party, which is typically even worse on this (and other matters) than Democratic politicians are. On almost all issues, I support Bernie Sanders, but I am not a part of anyone’s political campaign, in any way

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Viktor Orban strikes back at EU. Visits Moscow to do business with Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 117.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Viktor Orban’s recent trip to Moscow following a contentious EU Parliament session where the Hungarian PM was punished by MEPs with an Article 7 sanctioning of Hungary, for daring to take on the George Soros globalist paymaster.

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Authored by John Laughland via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:


The “salon des refusés” of political dissidents in the EU is getting bigger by the day. Less than a week after his government was condemned in a vote in the European parliament, Orban is in Moscow for talks about energy with Putin. His visit to Russia is the political equivalent of giving the EU the finger following last week’s humiliation.

Orban is not alone. In his battle with the EU over immigration and the rule of law, he is supported by Poland and the Czech Republic. Poland, which is also facing an Article 7 procedure against it by the European Commission, has vowed to protect Hungary, just as Hungary has vowed to protect Poland. So there is no way that the voting rights of either country can be removed, since the ultimate vote to do so requires unanimity. Orban also recently received the support of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and of the Italian Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini.

These politicians have voiced support for Orban’s stance against immigration. But they also support his pragmatic approach to Russia. Salvini is a well-known critic of the Russia sanctions, and Italy has said they should end. Parts of the Austrian government agree, the Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl having recently had Putin as a personal guest of honor at her wedding, while the Vice-Chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache, is well known for his pro-Russian and pro-Putin views. On the other hand, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has reassured critics that Austria is rooted in the EU and shares its stance towards Russia.

The striking thing about Orban, and about his Central European allies (who incidentally include the Czech President Milos Zeman), is that they are from countries which, as Orban puts it, suffered greatly “under Russia” in the past. He is referring to the countries’ membership of the Warsaw Pact, and their subjection to communist rule, after World War II. In Hungary’s case, the suffering was especially violent because of the suppression of the 1956 revolution in Budapest by Soviet troops. Yet it is precisely these countries who today advocate a pragmatic relationship with Russia, while countries such as Britain, and even Germany, treat Russia as if it were still a communist dictatorship with the Cold War in full swing.

The irony is all the greater because Orban personally played a key role – but one which is often forgotten by historians – in bringing about the end of Soviet rule in Central Europe. His speech in Heroes’ Square in Budapest on June 16, 1989 on the occasion of the re-burial of the leader of the 1956 uprising, Imre Nagy, was the first time anyone in the Warsaw Pact had publicly called for the withdrawal of Soviet troops. The very making of this speech showed that the old taboos – and, with them, the power of the communist dictatorship – had collapsed. This was two months before the Hungarian government opened its border with Austria, allowing tens of thousands of East Germans to cross into West Germany, and five months before the Berlin wall came down. Orban’s contribution to the chain reaction which led to these later events was therefore decisive.

There is only one explanation for this apparent paradox that some former anti-communist Central European leaders are now pro-Russian. Unlike their Western colleagues, who were never directly affected by communist rule, the states of the former Warsaw Pact understand not only that Russia is no longer the old USSR, having abandoned communism, but also that national identity, and pride in national identity, were the key to undoing communist rule in Central Europe and then in Russia itself. Orban’s 1989 speech was a patriotic appeal to Hungarians: it traced their battle for national freedom back to 1848. Freedom and national pride went hand in hand.

As in Poland, where not only national identity but also religion played a key role in the downfall of communism, Hungarians (and Czechs and many others) now see with dismay that same national identity which freed them from communism under attack from the new commissars in Brussels. This is because the approach in Western Europe is directly the opposite. Pride in one’s nation is considered backward and dangerous, largely because national pride was irredeemably damaged during the war.

The fact is that all the early member states of the EU were defeated in the war, whether by the Germans or by the Allies. During the process of defeat, national pride was ruined, either through the barbarism of Nazism and fascism or through various forms of nationalist collaboration with it. All these stain the national record. Only in Britain was national pride the key to victory; for everyone else it was the key to defeat. (The only partial exception to this rule is France, which retained some sense of national pride after the war. But, in later decades, the memory of the Gaullist resistance was effaced by a stronger memory of the national shame of Vichy.)

Because of this, Western European states have adopted the EU ideology, according to which European history before the creation of the EU was nothing but wars between nation-states. Indeed, national rivalry was the key to these wars. In order for there to be peace, it is argued, Europe’s nation-states must be dissolved in a supranational entity. Germany has accomplished the task of making a clean slate of its national history in a more complete manner than any other European state but the other countries share parts, sometimes large parts, of this same German historiographical and political model.

To be sure, the states of Central Europe have skeletons in their own cupboards concerning the war. Hungary was an ally of Nazi Germany throughout it. But the more recent memory of national victory over communism has rekindled national pride, whereas the Western European states have not enjoyed any comparable victory and so they instead put all their faith in the post-national and post-modern European project. Moreover, whereas Communism was largely rejected as an ideology by the people living under it – including in Soviet Russia – the ideology of liberalism has penetrated very deeply into the Western European consciousness, to the extent even of extinguishing national sentiment. Liberalism has been more successful in this regard than communism was, even though orthodox Marxism also called for an end to the nation-state.

This East-West fracture is a major ideological dividing line inside the European Union. The vote in the European Parliament last week, in which over two thirds of MEPs ganged up on a member state in the name of their biased interpretation of “the rule of law,” was a historic moment which brought into the open the depth of this radically different approach to politics and history. Opposite attitudes to Russia are also part of this division. As Marx said, history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, as we saw in Strasbourg last week: the European Union, like the Soviet Union, will in due course discover that national identity is stronger even than its political ideology.

Laughland is a Member of the RPI Board of Advisors.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

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The Magnitsky affair: the confession of a hustled hack

A Cypriot journalist’s confession of how he too fell for the wrong account of the Magnitsky Affair

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Before getting down to brass tacks, let me say that I loathe penning articles like this; loathe writing about myself or in the first person, because a reporter should report the news, not be the news. Yet I grudgingly make this exception because, ironically, it happens to be newsworthy. To cut to the chase, it concerns Anglo-American financier Bill Browder and the Sergei Magnitsky affair. I, like others in the news business I’d venture to guess, feel led astray by Browder.

This is no excuse. I didn’t do my due diligence, and take full responsibility for erroneous information printed under my name. For that, I apologize to readers. I refer to two articles of mine published in a Cypriot publication, dated December 25, 2015 and January 6, 2016.

Browder’s basic story, as he has told it time and again, goes like this: in June 2007, Russian police officers raided the Moscow offices of Browder’s firm Hermitage, confiscating company seals, certificates of incorporation, and computers.

Browder says the owners and directors of Hermitage-owned companies were subsequently changed, using these seized documents. Corrupt courts were used to create fake debts for these companies, which allowed for the taxes they had previously paid to the Russian Treasury to be refunded to what were now re-registered companies. The funds stolen from the Russian state were then laundered through banks and shell companies.

The scheme is said to have been planned earlier in Cyprus by Russian law enforcement and tax officials in cahoots with criminal elements. All this was supposedly discovered by Magnitsky, whom Browder had tasked with investigating what happened. When Magnitsky reported the fraud, some of the nefarious characters involved had him arrested and jailed. He refused to retract, and died while in pre-trial detention.

In my first article, I wrote: “Magnitsky, a 37-year-old Russian accountant, died in jail in 2009 after he exposed huge tax embezzlement…”

False. Contrary to the above story that has been rehashed countless times, Magnitsky did not expose any tax fraud, did not blow the whistle.

The interrogation reports show that Magnitsky had in fact been summoned by Russian authorities as a witness to an already ongoing investigation into Hermitage. Nor he did he accuse Russian investigators Karpov and/or Kuznetsov of committing the $230 million treasury fraud, as Browder claims.

Magnitsky did not disclose the theft. He first mentioned it in testimony in October 2008. But it had already been reported in the New York Times on July 24, 2008.

In reality, the whistleblower was a certain Rimma Starova. She worked for one of the implicated shell companies and, having read in the papers that authorities were investigating, went to police to give testimony in April 2008 – six months before Magnitsky spoke of the scam for the first time (see here and here).

Why, then, did I report that about Magnitsky? Because at the time my sole source for the story was Team Browder, who had reached out to the Cyprus Mail and with whom I communicated via email. I was provided with ‘information’, flow charts and so on. All looking very professional and compelling.

At the time of the first article, I knew next to nothing about the Magnitsky/Browder affair. I had to go through media reports to get the gist, and then get up to speed with Browder’s latest claims that a Cypriot law firm, which counted the Hermitage Fund among its clients, had just been ‘raided’ by Cypriot police.

The article had to be written and delivered on the same day. In retrospect I should have asked for more time – a lot more time – and Devil take the deadlines.

For the second article, I conversed briefly on the phone with the soft-spoken Browder himself, who handed down the gospel on the Magnitsky affair. Under the time constraints, and trusting that my sources could at least be relied upon for basic information which they presented as facts, I went along with it.

I was played. But let’s be clear: I let myself down too.

In the ensuing weeks and months, I didn’t follow up on the story as my gut told me something was wrong: villains and malign actors operating in a Wild West Russia, and at the centre of it all, a heroic Magnitsky who paid with his life – the kind of script that Hollywood execs would kill for.

Subsequently I mentally filed away the Browder story, while being aware it was in the news.

But the real red pill was a documentary by Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, which came to my attention a few weeks ago.

Titled ‘The Magnitsky Act – Behind The Scenes’, it does a magisterial job of depicting how the director initially took Browder’s story on faith, only to end up questioning everything.

The docudrama dissects, disassembles and dismantles Browder’s narrative, as Nekrasov – by no means a Putin apologist – delves deeper down into the rabbit hole.

The director had set out to make a poignant film about Magnitsky’s tragedy, but became increasingly troubled as the facts he uncovered didn’t stack up with Browder’s account, he claims.

The ‘aha’ moment arrives when Nekrasov appears to show solid proof that Magnitsky blew no whistle.

Not only that, but in his depositions – the first one dating to 2006, well before Hermitage’s offices were raided – Magnitsky did not accuse any police officers of being part of the ‘theft’ of Browder’s companies and the subsequent alleged $230m tax rebate fraud.

The point can’t be stressed enough, as this very claim is the lynchpin of Browder’s account. In his bestseller Red Notice, Browder alleges that Magnitsky was arrested because he exposed two corrupt police officers, and that he was jailed and tortured because he wouldn’t retract.

We are meant to take Browder’s word for it.

It gets worse for Nekrasov, as he goes on to discover that Magnitsky was no lawyer. He did not have a lawyer’s license. Rather, he was an accountant/auditor who worked for Moscow law firm Firestone Duncan.

Yet every chance he gets, Browder still refers to Magnitsky as ‘a lawyer’ or ‘my lawyer’.

The clincher comes late in the film, with footage from Browder’s April 15, 2015 deposition in a US federal court, in the Prevezon case. The case, brought by the US Justice Department at Browder’s instigation, targeted a Russian national who Browder said had received $1.9m of the $230m tax fraud.

In the deposition, Browder is asked if Magnitsky had a law degree in Russia. “I’m not aware that he did,” he replies.

The full deposition, some six hours long, is (still) available on Youtube. As penance for past transgressions, I watched it in its entirety. While refraining from using adjectives to describe it, I shall simply cite some examples and let readers decide on Browder’s credibility.

Browder seems to suffer an almost total memory blackout as a lawyer begins firing questions at him. He cannot recall, or does not know, where he or his team got the information concerning the alleged illicit transfer of funds from Hermitage-owned companies.

This is despite the fact that the now-famous Powerpoint presentations – hosted on so many ‘anti-corruption’ websites and recited by ‘human rights’ NGOs – were prepared by Browder’s own team.

Nor does he recall where, or how, he and his team obtained information on the amounts of the ‘stolen’ funds funnelled into companies. When it’s pointed out that in any case this information would be privileged – banking secrecy and so forth – Browder appears to be at a loss.

According to Team Browder, in 2007 the ‘Klyuev gang’ together with Russian interior ministry officials travelled to Cyprus, ostensibly to set up the tax rebate scam using shell companies.

But in his deposition, the Anglo-American businessman cannot remember, or does not know, how his team obtained the travel information of the conspirators.

He can’t explain how they acquired the flight records and dates, doesn’t have any documentation at hand, and isn’t aware if any such documentation exists.

Browder claims his ‘Justice for Magnitsky’ campaign, which among other things has led to US sanctions on Russian persons, is all about vindicating the young man. Were that true, one would have expected Browder to go out of his way to aid Magnitsky in his hour of need.

The deposition does not bear that out.

Lawyer: “Did anyone coordinate on your behalf with Firestone Duncan about the defence of Mr Magnitsky?”

Browder: “I don’t know. I don’t remember.”

Going back to Nekrasov’s film, a standout segment is where the filmmaker looks at a briefing document prepared by Team Browder concerning the June 2007 raid by Russian police officers. In it, Browder claims the cops beat up Victor Poryugin, a lawyer with the firm.

The lawyer was then “hospitalized for two weeks,” according to Browder’s presentation, which includes a photo of the beaten-up lawyer. Except, it turns out the man pictured is not Poryugin at all. Rather, the photo is actually of Jim Zwerg, an American human rights activist beaten up during a street protest in 1961 (see here and here).

Nekrasov sits down with German politician Marieluise Beck. She was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace), which compiled a report that made Magnitsky a cause celebre.

You can see Beck’s jaw drop when Nekrasov informs her that Magnitsky did not report the fraud, that he was in fact under investigation.

It transpires that Pace, as well as human rights activists, were getting their information from one source – Browder. Later, the Council of Europe’s Andreas Gross admits on camera that their entire investigation into the Magnitsky affair was based on Browder’s info and that they relied on translations of Russian documents provided by Browder’s team because, as Gross puts it, “I don’t speak Russian myself.”

That hit home – I, too, had been fed information from a single source, not bothering to verify it. I, too, initially went with the assumption that because Russia is said to be a land of endemic corruption, then Browder’s story sounded plausible if not entirely credible.

For me, the takeaway is this gem from Nekrasov’s narration: “I was regularly overcome by deep unease. Was I defending a system that killed Magnitsky, even if I’d found no proof that he’d been murdered?”

Bull’s-eye. Nekrasov has arrived at a crossroads, the moment where one’s mettle is tested: do I pursue the facts wherever they may lead, even if they take me out of my comfort zone? What is more important: the truth, or the narrative? Nekrasov chose the former. As do I.

Like with everything else, specific allegations must be assessed independently of one’s general opinion of the Russian state. They are two distinct issues. Say Browder never existed; does that make Russia a paradise?

I suspect Team Browder may scrub me from their mailing list; one can live with that.

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