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5 reasons why Trump labelling China and Russia “rivals” is wrong

Donald Trump is set to give a controversial speech in which he will pin the interests of the US against those of fellow superpowers Russia and China. The move will increase global hostilities while not bringing any material benefits to the American people.

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The White House has openly leaked excerpts of substantial speech on national security that Donald Trump is expected to deliver later today. In the excepts that have been released, the US names China and Russia as its principle global rivals.

An excerpt reads,

“They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence”.

Based on this short excerpt, it would appear that the Trump White House has adopted the neo-con lexicon which implies that countries which don’t conform to how American leaders see their own country (however inaccurate this idealised vision is), are somehow an existential threat to the security of the US.

At the same time, this neo-con language is combined with the kind of apocalyptic theories of Steve Bannon who openly states that China and the US are inevitably headed for either a war or something close to a war.

Learning that the US views China and Russia as major rivals or threats is about as surprising as learning that Siberia is colder than Hawaii.

For years, the aim of US foreign policy, including the many proxy wars on all sides of China’s One Belt–One Road trade and commerce superhighway, have been designed to retard China’s logistical progress while simultaneously attempting to upset China’s political relations with her allies.

Russia, as China’s closest partner and more importantly, as the large geographical space that links the East Asia/Asia Pacific region to Eurasia’s western borderlands/Europe, is a clear target that according to western neo-imperial thinking, must ideally be subdued or mired in petty conflict in order to upset a superpower partnership that plays a substantial element in complete One Belt–One Road.

Implicit in One Belt–One Road, is a Chinese government that is growing ever more assertive in matters of geo-political affairs. In recent months, China produced and helped to implement its first peace proposal involving foreign states when Beijing introduced the three point plan to settle the crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State (aka the Rohingya crisis) which has spilled over into Bangladesh.

China proposes peace process for Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh

Furthermore, earlier this year, China opened up its first ever overseas military logistics base in Djibouti.

America fears China’s geo-political power more than China’s economic might

The US aggression against China and Russia that the world has known about for years, but which Donald Trump will apparently lay bear in his forthcoming address, is a strategy that is destined to fail for the following reasons.

1. Zero-sum games versus the Win-Win model 

The US continues to exercise a zero-sum mentality in geo-politics which can be summed up by phrases as simple as “you’re either with us or you’re against us” or “it’s us versus them”.

The notion is one which states quite clearly that in order to be considered a partner or ally of the US, one has to adopt US policy positions vis-a-vis relations with other states, never challenge the hegemony of the Dollar as a de-facto trading currency and all the while pursuing domestic policies that are friendly to US corporations and the US military–often at the expense of the needs of a local population.

Apart from the ethical red flags involved in such a policy, there is another game in town in the 21st century that is not only challenging, but in many cases outflanking Washington’s international strongman tactics.

In opposition to the US model, there is the Chinese model wherein Beijing looks to form partnerships based on the unemotional economic needs of a would-be partner, combined with China’s natural self-interest of wanting to expand her own trading networks.

One Belt–One Road is emblematic of a Chinese attitude which seeks to play up the strengths of any given partner, while injecting investment in order to allow these strengths to reach their full potential. China and other partners will then fill the gaps in areas where any given country is either lacking or logistically incapable of producing a given set of raw materials or finished products.

Crucially, unlike the US model, China does not make any demands on the internal governance of partner nations. This has been made abundantly clear in respect of China’s overtures and olive branches to a hostile Indian government. China isn’t particularly concerned about a country’s foreign policy, so long as it doers not involve the threat of war or regional instability.

This is why China’s position with the Indian government of Narendra Modi is one of firmness and fairness. China is leaving the door to cooperation with India open, even during trying times in bilateral relations. China is not asking India to change its ethos, but rather, Beijing would prefer a more constructive attitude on the part of India and is willing to be patient until such a day might arrive.

This win-win model has proved attractive to many traditional US partners, including South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and even Saudi Arabia.

According to the Chinese model, one can do business with Beijing while still acting as a US ally or a genuinely neutral state.

This is why for example countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia all call China their number one trading partner, even if this doesn’t translate into a military or policy making alliance. For China, this is not a requirement.

2. The Dollar versus the Yuan

China will soon be the undisputed largest economy in the world, although in many ways, China already is and has been for many years.

As such, the Chinese Yuan will likely become the de-facto international reserve currency and perhaps more importantly, the de-facto international trading currency.

Because of this, the rise of the Yuan is inevitable. However, the Yuan has distinct advantages over the Dollar, even when viewed outside of the prism of inevitability.

Unlike Dollar based institutions, the Yuan is unencumbered in respect of sanctions coming out of the US Treasury Department. Because of this, many countries which have been pounded by increasingly frequent US sanctions are moving to the Yuan. Venezuela is already selling oil futures contracts in Yuan and other countries will soon join.

Secondly, China is willing to make deals in a combination of Yuan and the national currency of a partner–for example the Yuan and Iranian Rial. By contrast the US tends to make all nations convert to the Dollar before completing a transaction, which often puts countries with poor exchange rates via-a-vis the Dollar, in a position which is necessarily disadvantaged.

Thirdly, even among traditional US partners, the absence of Dollar dependency would allow for a more sovereign policy making process because without the hegemony of the Dollar, the US automatically loses the primary tool it uses to leverage the policy making decisions of its often dependant partners.

Because most of contemporary US power as well as the all important ability to project power is based on the global hegemony of the Dollar, if this is chipped away by the Yuan, the United States will lose its most important source of domination over nations, apart from its vast military. This frightens many in Washington who do not envisage a future based on multilateralism, but instead seek to dominate the world in a unilateral fashion for years to come–something which is becoming increasingly untenable.

Finally, because China owns $1.2 trillion of US sovereign debt, if antagonised, China could retaliate by dumping Dollars. Since 2013, China has in fact been reducing its Dollar holdings in order to strengthen the value of the Yuan in preparation for the inevitable day when the Yuan becomes a floating currency. This itself will do tremendous damage to the value and prestige of the Dollar and there is little the US can do to stop this from one day occurring.

America’s cold war on China is no longer just a trade war – it is a war for the Dollar and Federal Reserve

3. Russia’s model of “Win-Win Diplomacy” 

During the Obama years and into Trump’s first year in power, Russia’s diplomatic model has visibly usurped the position of the US which in the 1990s was undisputed as the de-facto kingmaker of geo-politics.

Today, when it comes to brokering peace deals, singing contrasts for weapons and the all important energy trade, countries throughout the world are turning first to Russia.

This is the case among traditional Russian  partners like Syria, Vietnam, Cuba and increasingly Iraq and Egypt once again, but more interestingly, this is also the case among many traditional US allies and partners.

Turkey and Philippines have both made seismic shifts in terms of security cooperation and weapons purchases that involve giving Russia a most favoured position. China too is an important buyer of Russian energy materials, hi-technology and weapons systems.

Added to this, countries as ingrained into the US system as Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Philippines and Israel, also look increasingly to Russia as a commercial partner in these areas and beyond.

In the non-aligned world, Russia has been able to maintain good contacts with India while pursuing historically successful and constantly growing relations with Pakistan.

Because Russia does not see diplomatic and security contacts in a zero-sum fashion any more than China sees commercial contacts in this way, Russia has been able to maintain good relations with both Iran and Saudi Arabia, Palestine and Israel, Pakistan and India, Vietnam and China, South and North Korea, Serbia and Turkey.

In conflicts ranging from the war in Syria, to Israel-Palestine as well as India’s conflicts with both China and Pakistan–Russia is fast becoming a de-facto peace broker.

4. A Sino-Russian partnership that is meaningful 

China and Russia have a long history of healthy relations in spite of being two giant land powers who share one of the world’s longest borders. In hindsight, it is accurate to say that the Sino-Soviet split of the Cold War era was an aberrational period in the long history of relations between the two superpowers.

Today, Russia and China are generally comfortable with their own roles in the world and as Russian industrial production increases in-line with the increased intensity of Chinese diplomatic involvement in international crisis areas, China and Russia are rapidly becoming complimentary both in areas where they share common strengths, as well as in areas where different strengths are pooled as part of the world’s most meaningful bilateral partnership.

In this sense, when it comes to a contest between three superpowers, it will be a matter of two against one for the foreseeable future.

Russia and China actively collude to bring down the only thing America cares about

5. It needn’t be a competition 

The two against one paradigm in terms of a contest between superpowers needn’t exist and certainly would not exist if Russia and China had their say about it.

Russia is well aware that the United States has a totally different approach to geo-political engagement than Moscow’s diplomats, but nevertheless, Russia has always been willing to cooperate with the US when and where possible. In every instance, with very few exceptions, the US has decided to reject Russia’s open door in favour of either antagonism or attempted competition.

Likewise, the United States, while a declining industrial power, still has a large skilled workforce that could play a part in One Belt–One Road if the US ceased being a thorn in the side of China’s epoch making initiative.

As the Americas are the only area on the planet where One Belt–One Road is not set to travel in the near future, the US could have proposed a trans-American economic corridor from Cape Horn to the Canadian Arctic. This would require a great deal of Chinese investment, much of which could have gone into revitalising US industry, in addition to Chinese economic might helping to revitalise Washington’s relations with its neighbours in Central and South America.

The vast Pacific coast of the US could have been modernised with new ports and expanded existing ports in cities like Los Angeles, in order to connect a trans-American corridor to a Sino-US maritime belt.

This is what “win-win” cooperation between the US and China might look like in a world where Washington is not obsessed with zero-sum gamesmanship.

Conclusion

Donald Trump, as a businessman for most of his life, would have been in an ideal position to foment a kind of cooperative effort which could help the US transition into an age where China dominates the global economy with diplomatic grace while incurring economic benefits for the American people and their regional neighbours.

Instead, Trump has once again surrendered to a neo-con mentality combined with outdated notions of competition between superpowers.

While two of the three world superpowers cooperate, the US alone sees the world in competitive terms. In this sense, the US has set itself up for a loss when up against rising powers of the east for whom connectivity is the world of the day and competition is the word of the past.

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America the Punitive

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common?

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America’s wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country’s debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules. Given Washington’s diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

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NATO Repeats the Great Mistake of the Warsaw Pact

NATO expansion continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war.

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Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Through the 1990s, during the terms of US President Bill Clinton, NATO relentlessly and inexorably expanded through Central Europe. Today, the expansion of that alliance eastward – encircling Russia with fiercely Russo-phobic regimes in one tiny country after another and in Ukraine, which is not tiny at all – continues.

This NATO expansion – which the legendary George Kennan presciently warned against in vain – continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war. Far from bringing the United States and the Western NATO allies increased security, it strips them of the certainty of the peace and security they would enjoy if they instead sought a sincere, constructive and above all stable relationship with Russia.

It is argued that the addition of the old Warsaw Pact member states of Central Europe to NATO has dramatically strengthened NATO and gravely weakened Russia. This has been a universally-accepted assumption in the United States and throughout the West for the past quarter century. Yet it simply is not true.

In reality, the United States and its Western European allies are now discovering the hard way the same lesson that drained and exhausted the Soviet Union from the creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 to its dissolution 36 years later. The tier of Central European nations has always lacked the coherence, the industrial base and the combined economic infrastructure to generate significant industrial, financial or most of all strategic and military power.

In fact the current frustrating experience of NATO, and the long, exhausting tribulations that faced Soviet diplomats and generals for so many decades was entirely consistent with the previous historical record going back at least until 1718.

From 1718 until 1867 – a period of a century and a half – most of Central Europe, including even regions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, were consolidated within the Austro –Hungarian Empire, However even then, the Habsburg multi-national empire was always militarily weak and punched beneath its weight. After Emperor Franz Josef recklessly proclaimed his famous Compromise of 1867, the effectiveness of the imperial army was reduced to almost zero. The autonomous and feckless conduct of the Hungarian aristocracy ensured a level of confusion, division, incompetence and ineptitude that was revealed in the army’s total collapse against both Russia and Serbia in the great battles of 1914 at the start of World War I.

Germany moved in to occupy and consolidate the region in both world wars. But far from making Germany a global giant and enabling it to maintain its domination of Europe, the Central European regions – whether as part of Austro-Hungary during World War I or as independent nation-states allied to the Nazis in World War II – proved miniscule and worthless against the alliances of Russia, the United States, Britain and France that the Germans fought against in both global conflicts.

After the Soviet Union militarily destroyed the genocidal military power of Nazi Germany in World War II, Russia’s Great Patriotic War, the political consolidation of East Germany and Poland were strategically necessary for Russia’s security. But occupying and organizing the rest of the region was not. Far from strengthening the Soviet Union, those nations weakened and distracted it. Today, NATO is repeating the Soviet Mistake and that fatal move is inexorably draining the alliance of all its strength and credibility.

NATO is also repeating the disastrous mistake that France made in 1920-21 when it created a “Little Entente” of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania to supposedly counterbalance the revival of Germany. The plan failed completely.

Today those very same nations – enthusiastically joined by Hungary, Poland and the three little Baltic states – are relentlessly distorting both NATO and the EU. They generate weakness and chaos in the alliances they are in – not unity and strength.

As I have noted before in these columns, the great British historian Lord Correlli Barnett drew the important distinction between militarily powerful nations that are generators and exporters of security and those, either tiny or disorganized, pacifist and weak nations that have to import their security from more powerful states.

One might call such small countries “feeder” or “parasite” states. They siphon off energy and strength from their protector partners. They weaken their alliance partners rather than strengthening them.

The consistent lessons of more than 300 years of Central European history are therefore clear: Leading and organizing the tier of Central European nations in the Warsaw Pact did not strengthen the Soviet Union: Instead, those activities relentlessly weakened it.

Incorporating most of the small nations in Central Europe into any empire or alliance has never been a cause or generator of military or national strength, regardless of the ideology or religious faith involved. At best, it is a barometer of national strength.

When nations such as France, Germany, the Soviet Union or the United States are seen as rising powers in the world, the small countries of Central Europe always hasten to ally themselves accordingly. They therefore adopt and discard Ottoman Islamic imperialism. Austrian Christian imperialism, democracy, Nazism, Communism and again democracy as easily as putting on or off different costumes at a fancy dress ball in Vienna or Budapest.

As Russia rises once again in global standing and national power, supported by its genuinely powerful allies China, India and Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the nations of Central Europe can be anticipated to reorient their own loyalties accordingly once again.

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Why Russia will NOT fall victim to emerging markets financial crisis (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 81.

Alex Christoforou

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As the Turkish Lira collapses, sending emerging market economies into turmoil, Russia is being slapped with additional US sanctions dubbed the US Congress ‘bill from hell’.

The full text the newest sanctions bill has been released. The sanctions are deliberately designed to punish Russia’s economy for a Skripal poisoning hoax for which no evidence of Russian state involvement has been presented. The new bill even goes so far as to suggest designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The “sanctions bill from hell” officially entitled ‘Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018’ was introduced by a group of Republican and Democratic senators on the 2nd of August.

According to RT, the bill would place restrictions on US cooperation with Russia’s oil industry, target Russian sovereign debt transactions as well as Russian uranium imports. In addition, the legislation calls for sanctions against “political figures, oligarchs, and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris explain why, unlike the financial meltdown in Turkey, Russia is well equipped and properly prepared to weather the US sanctions storm… and may, in the end, come out of the latest emerging markets turmoil stronger and more independent from western petrodollar control than ever before.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via RT

The bill, which was recently published in full on Congress’ official website, also pledges full support for NATO and would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate if the United States ever wishes to exit the transatlantic alliance.

The legislation also declares that “the United States will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” and that Washington, in conjunction with NATO, should “prioritize efforts to prevent the further consolidation of illegal occupying powers in Crimea.”

The pending ‘Kremlin Aggression Act’ decrees that Congress should also determine whether Russia “meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

The bill also accused Russia of “enabling the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria to commit war crimes,” adding that Moscow has shown itself to be “incapable or unwilling” to compel Assad to “stop using chemical weapons against the civilian population in Syria.”

The Act calls for a congressional committee to investigate “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity attributable to [Russia]” and resolves to “punish the Government of the Russian Federation for, and deter that Government from, any chemical weapons production and use through the imposition of sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and the use of the mechanisms specified in the Chemical Weapons Convention for violations of the Convention.”

The legislation is just the latest addition to a laundry list of sanctions and laws passed in the months following the 2016 presidential election.

Republican hawk Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who both sponsored the bill, said in a joint statement that the legislation is designed to show that the US will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future.” The Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was one of the five co-sponsors of the bill.

Moscow has brushed off the new wave of accusations as a projection of internal US struggle. Some elements in the US government are trying to “keep afloat” the conspiracy that Russia meddled in the US elections, in hopes of derailing constructive relations with Moscow and using the issue “purely for internal American purposes,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Upper House Committee for International Relations, has said in response to the latest sanctions.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the adoption of any US legislation that targets Russian banking operations and currency trade would be considered a declaration of economic war.

“If they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we’ll have to respond to it accordingly – economically, politically, or in any other way, if required,” Medvedev said last week. “Our American friends should make no mistake about it.”

Moscow has vowed to respond to any new sanctions. Russia’s Finance Ministry said it would continue to sell off its holdings of US Treasury securities, while some lawmakers have called for Russia and its allies to stop using the US dollar for mutual payments.

 

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