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Imperial Socialism?

By Hiroyuki Hamada | CounterPunch | April 18, 2016

President Obama never ceases to amaze me.

He has actually cried on stage and grabbed people’s hearts by appealing to emotions, to our yearning to be just, humane and democratic and so on. In recent mainstream media articles, he is seen playing the role of an agonized leader who weighs the delicate balance of humanity and an act of “humanitarian intervention”. Even with his credential as one of the greatest presidents (according to some), his action against Libya caused tremendous suffering to the people of Libya. He has confessed that while it was “the right thing to do”, he regrets the intervention.

That’s that. Right? He is sorry. It was a mistake. He is suffering. He is forgiven and we must move forward.

Well, actually, his act of contrition must be counted as disingenuous by any measure.

The destruction of Libya was a premeditated crime against humanity. It was orchestrated by the Western nations that were about to be squeezed out of colonial business on the African continent. Libyan leader Gaddafi planned to unite Africa and to establish it as an economically independent region cooperating with the rest of the nations of the Global South (1). The intervention was literally an armed robbery to steal the funding and destroy the plan. Tens of thousands were killed as a result of the Western intervention. Libya was literally destroyed. If you are not familiar with the magnitude of the merciless inhumanity of the Western action against Libya, look up a story about the great man-made river of Libya for instance. Or, look up stories about Libyan social programs under Gaddafi, which the US can’t even come close to. It is truly heartbreaking, and the true crime of the Western nations is hidden from the people. The administration and the colluding media have twisted the narrative in the most egregious way to hide the crime, and turned it into a courageous story of an American President with “honesty” and “integrity”. For the good people of the West, the agony of the President appears most tragic.

However, in reality, by destroying Libya, the Obama administration has achieved profound success in preventing the emergence of the United States of Africa and its central banking system, which would utilize rich African resources for the people of Africa.

Now, there is someone else who plays a major supporting role in this theater of deception: Mr. Bernie Sanders. This seasoned politician has cultivated an unprecedented skill in mobilizing popular support. The accuracy of his act is utterly superb. In order to gain political support for himself, and in turn for the Democratic Party, while preserving the imperial nature of US foreign policy, he has expressed a few calculated thoughts:

Forget about Hilary’s emails

In one of the presidential debates, he strongly characterized the issue of Hilary Clinton’s emails as a political tool to distract people from focusing on “real issues”(2).  Her emails, however, include valuable facts regarding the Western war crimes, human rights abuses and other nefarious deeds, including valuable facts confirming Western motives in destroying Libya (3). Ms. Clinton is deeply involved in all of these matters and more(4)

Gaddafi was a terrible dictator

Mr. Sanders recently called Gaddafi “a terrible dictator” in one of the presidential debates. In an interview with Fox News, he remarked, “Look, everybody understands Gaddafi is a thug and murderer”(5). But more decisively, Mr. Sanders was one of 10 co-sponsors of the Senate resolution calling for the resignation of Gaddafi. The resolution also asked for UN resolutions demanding such drastic measures as establishing a no-fly zone and asset freeze against Libya (5). The demonization of the Libyan leader had been a part of the systematic campaign to justify military action for a while, leading to the actual operation in 2011. Libya’s standard of living, human rights record, varieties of social programs for the people and so on had been recognized as the best among the African nations by the UN before the Western intervention. Many of the demeaning allegations against the Libyan government and its leader were found to be false as well (6). Mr. Sanders’s disparaging remarks against Gaddafi, as well as the co-sponsorship of the Senate resolution and subsequent UN resolutions, comprise a decisive state propaganda campaign which led to the military intervention.

Regime change created a political vacuum for  ISIS

Mr. Sanders is extremely skilled in colonizing ideas that closely approach the edge of the imperial boundary. He is so good at attracting people by pointing out the fence surrounding the empire only to prove, however, that the gate is tightly shut.

In one of the presidential debates, he accused Hilary Clinton of engaging in many “regime change” operations. However, this remark is skillfully rendered harmless by containing the whole argument in official imperial narratives. First, it does not involve a discussion of the deaths and destruction endured by the Libyan people. Somehow the empire is immune from international humanitarian laws and the moral imperative of humanity. Second, it does not deal with the fact that ISIS and other extremist groups are funded by the US and its allies, as proven by the governments’ own documents(7). Therefore, it leaves a solid path to continue the war on terror as business as usual. It is very likely that Mr. Sanders will follow Mr. Obama’s footsteps in fighting the war on terror, according to his praise for the President’s handling of it(8), and his own remarks(9) if he is elected as the President. Third, by refusing to talk about the real reasons for “regime change” he allows himself, as well as anyone else, including Ms. Clinton, to “regretfully” engage in “humanitarian interventions” as soon as there is a targeted nation picked by a team of foreign policy experts who have served various administrations. It is of concern that he has been uttering tough remarks against Russia, China, North Korea and so on. All these nations are surrounded by US military bases while being subjected to systematic state propaganda campaigns.

***

“War is a racket” (10). Every US military intervention accompanies subsequent restructuring of the society and economy according to the interests of the ruling elites. Military intervention also serves the military strategic goals and financial motives of the military industrial complex. Violence, whether it’s inflicted militarily or economically, has been a primary tool in building the hierarchical structure where a powerful few control the vast majority. People’s communities are built by cooperation of the communities and their people, as well as the efforts of bringing “power to the people”, not by exploitation and subjugation of other communities led by the powerful few with their draconian measures. I believe the essence of socialism lies in this very basic notion of democracy. Unless one is willing to work according to the genuine spirit of socialism, use of such a slogan as “political revolution” while calling himself a socialist is highly misleading and dishonest. Again, this reflects Mr. Sanders’ tendency to colonize ideas in mobilizing people only to bring them into the existing framework of the powerful few.

Here is the Catch 22: In order to truly refute the fascist and racist position taken by, for example, Donald Trump, the Bernie supporters must confront Bernie’s imperialism. How can a nation implement socialist policies in the framework of imperialism? How can that be a “political revolution”? Imperial Socialism? There used to be a country that tried something called National Socialism (11). It turned out to be a disaster.

The US already has an invisible racial and economic caste system to mask it’s own crimes domestically. It’s based on the many inhumane, unjust and undemocratic schemes inherited from slavery. It’s grown tremendously to flourish into mass incarceration, gentrification, police killings and the rest of the symptoms of institutionalized racism. The force of slaves who built the nation has been converted into the lives of today’s Blacks and poor, which are squeezed to create profits for the few by the devastating force of the social restructuring process for the profits of private corporations. Imperialism has extended this mechanism globally. As a result, unfortunately, tens of millions of lives have already perished by the US violence across the globe(12). It has turned out to be a disaster, already.

You see what I am saying here? If we do not confront such a notion as imperial socialism now, the best scenario Bernie Sanders can bring to us will be a normalization of imperialism under an imperial socialism. That is basically a feudal world order with an invisible caste system. Over 1,000 military bases across the globe are encircling Russia, China and other potential obstacles ensuring the economic power of the ruling elites. Extremists and dictators are nurtured while potential enemies are demonized. International treaties, TPP, TTIP, TISA and so on, to codify the colonial rule of transnational corporations are waiting to be implemented.

Or, let me put it this way, if I were a super rich imperialist in the US, I would be a diehard Bernie supporter. Leaders like him would be my last hope in prolonging the life of the crumbling hierarchy of money and violence. I would be willing to pay for a slight compromise if I can hang onto the status quo. He would be the one to protect my business and assets with the dignity and righteousness that I deserve. He sounds scary but check out what he’s done so far. He talks about universal healthcare but he was one of the guys who worked on Obamacare. He opposes TPP, but his objections are nationalistic and based on a good old protectionism. He went along with the crime bill for the prison industry, drug war, “urban renewal” and so on and on. And of course we have no worry about him dismantling the war industry. Actually, he might manage to start a big one or two. Did you hear that his hero is Winston Churchill? You get the idea.

The term Mr. Sanders uses, democratic socialism, is Imperial Socialism. “Democratic” refers to “democracy” which has been brought to those untamed nations with bombs.

If you agree with what I am saying here, please do not despair. You are not alone. There are countless people across the globe who oppose imperialism and its crimes. They are aiming to build a truly democratic world of sharing and mutual respect. There will be more of them. We live in the most exciting time of awakening for our species.

I would like to end this piece with a poem by Eric Draitser.

Libya: African Jewel

by ERIC DRAITSER

Snatched away –

blood and sand

alloyed to lifeless aridity:

add water. A man-made

river stolen, siphoned

 

assets in frozen accounts,

darkness unpenetrated

by the electric gaze

of a once buzzing grid,

spark snuffed.

 

The Greeks knew this:

tragedies have heroes

and death, covalent bond –

a binary truth

to build myths upon.

 

Here the wind dries tears,

breaks skin like stone

and stone like steel.

Still, man and martyr stand,

faces to an unforgiving sun.

 

And with hands that once

broke bread

tilled soil

mended wounds,

they hoist the Green Flag

 

And declare:

We are here.

600-Flag_of_Libya_(1977-2011).svg

Flag of Socialist Libya (1977–2011)

Notes.

(1)

http://web.archive.org/web/20141007040654/http://lookingglass.blog.co.uk/2013/02/26/africa-the-story-they-re-not-telling-you-15569066/

(2)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOOfwN0iYxM

(3)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/14/exposing-the-libyan-agenda-a-closer-look-at-hillarys-emails/

(4)

http://store.counterpunch.org/product/queen-of-chaos-digital-book/

(5)

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/dec/22/hillary-clinton/hillary-clinton-says-bernie-sanders-voted-get-rid-/

(6)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/08/31/the-top-ten-myths-in-the-war-against-libya/

(7)

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-23/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-us-created-isis-tool-overthrow-syrias-president-assad

(8)

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/face-the-nation-transcripts-february-7-2016-hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders/

(9)

http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-isis/

(10)

http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.pdf

(11)

http://www.britannica.com/event/National-Socialism

(12)

http://www.countercurrents.org/lucas240407.htm

Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony.

April 18, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

China investments in US to double

Press TV – April 14, 2016

A report by researchers from Rhodium Group as well as the National Committee on US-China Relations showed that investments by China in the US for 2015 stood at $15 billion. However, this could see a major rise as more Chinese companies are expected to bring in their capital to the US.

By the end of 2015 more than 1,900 Chinese-affiliated companies were operating in the US across more than 80 percent of its congressional districts and employing some 90,000 people, said the report.

The study showed that only an eighth of China’s $120 billion in outward investment last year went to the US.

Nevertheless, the amount invested in American businesses is growing rapidly as Beijing wants to shift the economy toward technology, services and greater consumer spending.

More than $5 billion in US deals have been completed in the first three months of this year alone, reported Russia Today on its website.

The study found that last year New York saw the most Chinese investment at $4.1 billion topping California’s $1.8 billion. New York has benefited from deals related to tourism and financial services.

Over the past 15 years, Chinese firms invested $70 million in Californian food and agriculture companies while total investment in the sector across the US reached $7.4 billion, RT added.

The report further added that California will be a top destination in coming years for a variety of Chinese investment in the US, which could reach $200 billion by 2020.

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

China Acquires Israeli Dead Sea Cosmetics Company for $77 Million

Sputnik – April 11, 2016

On Sunday, Vice President and CEO of Fosun Group, Liang Xinjun, signed an agreement to purchase Ahava with Executive Director of Gaon Holdings Guy Regev. The deal amounted to $77 million.

The ceremony took place in the presence of high-ranking Israeli officials at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem and was witnessed by Israeli government officials and representatives of both companies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Fosun will acquire the holdings from all Ahava’s shareholders including Gaon Holdings, Shamrock Israel Growth Fund Advisors, Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem, and Kibbutz Kalia.

Vice-President of Fosun, Liang Xinjun, said he was pleased with the results of agreement and hopes to bring Ahava into the Chinese market.

Chinese companies and corporations have been active in the Israeli market over the last few years. In 2011, China National Chemical Corporation acquired Adama, which produces pesticides, for a price of $2.4 billion and in 2015 the Chinese company Bright Food acquired a controlling stake in Israel’s largest producer Tnuva, which is heavily involved in dairy goods.

In addition, China is already the world’s largest importer of cosmetics and health products based on minerals from the Dead Sea.

Experts believe that China’s geopolitical presence in Israel will only continue to grow. In particular, due to the construction of the state-owned China Harbor seaport of Ashdod on the Mediterranean Sea.

The country’s first private port will not appear before 2021. The project cost is estimated at over one billion dollars. The purpose of the project is to connect Ashdod with the southern Israeli city of Eilat and transport goods to Europe, bypassing the Suez Canal.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

BRICS Bank to issue bonds in 2nd quarter: VP

The BRICS Post – March 25, 2016

The New Development Bank launched by the BRICS will soon issue between 3-5 billion yuan in bonds in China in the second quarter of 2016, a senior bank official said on Thursday.

Leslie Maasdorp, NDB vice-president and chief financial officer, was speaking on the sidelines of the Boao forum in China.

The new lender will prioritise projects aimed at developing renewable energy sources, Maasdorp said.

The five countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, hold equal voting rights.

“The New Development Bank plans to issue its first bond in China because the renminbi value is much more stable (compared with local currencies of other BRICS nations). China has a deep, liquid bond market,” Maasdorp was quoted by China Daily.

Maasdorp also said that the new lender intends to finance one project of each member state with the money raised via its first bond issue.

The new financial institution headquartered in China’s Shanghai has been set up to foster greater financial and development cooperation between the five emerging markets.

The Bank will announce its first investment projects next month.

Maasdorp reiterated on Thursday that the BRICS Bank will adopt a lean structure to aid “speed of execution”.

The bank has received an ‘AAA’ institutional rating from domestic credit rating agencies and has appointed Bank of China and China Development Bank as rating advisers, an official statement said.

The founding members of the NDB have already brought in capital of $1 billion as initial contribution.

Standard Chartered and Goldman Sachs have been appointed as advisers for international ratings.

At a press conference in Shanghai last month, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said the NDB “will soon become a strong and well-respected international financial institution, playing a leading role in the changing international financial architecture”.

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

Russia’s ACRA to aim at breaking monopoly as Moody’s exits

The BRICS Post | March 19, 2016

Russia’s new national Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA), seen as a domestic competitor to global ratings agencies, plans to issue its first ratings this year, according to CEO, Ekaterina Trofimova.

ACRA applied for a license to operate in Russia on February 29.

On Friday, one of the “BIG Three” international ratings agencies, Moody’s, announced it has officially stopped issuing local credit ratings for Russian companies. This was widely expected after Russia said new regulations will force international rating agencies working in the country to issue local data through a Russia-regulated subsidiary and guarantee they won’t withdraw local credit ratings under outside political pressure.

“This decision was taken in light of legislative changes and other potential restrictions applicable to the business of providing national scale ratings (NSRs) in Russia,” a Moody’s statement said.

Earlier in February, Fitch Ratings also said they plan to stop issuing local ratings in Russia.

The new Russian regulations take effect in 2017.

The five BRICS heads of state during their annual summits in Brazil and Russia in the past two years have discussed the idea of establishing an independent ratings agency.

The “Big Three” global credit rating agencies, all based in the US – Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings have been criticized for their favorable pre-crisis ratings of insolvent financial institutions like Lehman Brothers.

DR Dogra, Managing Director and CEO of Indian credit ratings agency CARE, said Moscow’s homegrown credit-ratings firm is a positive step forward.

“The development in the credit rating space in Russia is interesting as it brings in local knowledge and experience while evaluating credit rating. The existence of such agencies does add value to the system and while the international rating agencies will have to take their own decision relating to the regulatory systems that have to be adhered to, the creation of ACRA in Russia is a good step,” Dogra told The BRICS Post.

“As Russia is part of the fast growing BRICS nations, we would see this very positively as we need to have more competition in the market which should also logically extend to the global space,” he added.

Russia’s ACRA, however, is not the first attempt to break the monopoly of the ratings market.

Rating agencies from China, Russia and the United States officially launched a new credit rating company in Hong Kong in 2013 to challenge the current industry leaders.

Brazil’s SR Rating, CARE Rating of India and GCR of South Africa also tied up with CPR of Portugal and MARC of Malaysia to form a new ratings agency in 2013.

Lia Baker Valls Pereira, senior researcher at Brazil’s premier, Getulio Vargas Foundation, warns that the criteria used by any new BRICS ratings agency must be well documented and transparent.

“A ratings agency must be independent to be reliable. A ratings agency controlled by the BRICS governments will face difficulties in proving its independence,” says Pereira.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

America Keeps Moving Towards War

By Brian CLOUGHLEY – Strategic Culture Foundation – 15.03.2016

Very few US official figures are known for their sense of irony, least of all the Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, and it is unfortunate that he and others lacking appreciation of unintentional absurdity would be unable to find dark amusement in the contrast between two recent parallel events.

On February 25 the Defence Secretary and his uniformed glove puppet, Air Force General Breedlove, appeared in front of the House Appropriations Committee to provide justification for spending as much on military affairs as the next eight nations in the world. It is likely he chose Breedlove to accompany him rather than the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking Pentagon officer, because Breedlove is the Supreme Allied Commander Europe – the man responsible for carrying out the policy of confrontation with Russia.

Carter is the man who declared last year that «the US military has helped to maintain peace and stability in [Asia] for 70 years», having had a slight lapse of memory about the US war in Vietnam from 1955 to 1973 in which 58,220 members of its military forces lost their lives while hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Vietnam and its unfortunate neighbours died in merciless US bombing onslaughts. Countless thousands of children were sentenced to infirmity and grotesque deformity by Washington’s use of hideous poisons intended to destroy trees other vegetation.

As for the glove puppet, Germany’s Der Spiegel recorded a year ago that «General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington [and said] that Putin had once again ‘upped the ante’ in eastern Ukraine – with ‘well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defence, battalions of artillery’ having been sent to Donbass. ‘What is clear,’ Breedlove said, ‘is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day.’ German leaders in Berlin were stunned. They didn’t understand what Breedlove was talking about. And it wasn’t the first time. Once again, the German government, supported by intelligence gathered by the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, did not share the view of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander…»

This was not surprising – because there was not a word of truth in any of his wild assertions.

At the very time Carter and Breedlove were speaking to the ever-receptive «support our troops» Congressional Committee («under your leadership, the men and women who serve in the US military answer the call time and again to leave their loved ones, put themselves in harm’s way, and execute challenging missions abroad») the count-down to test-firing a US Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was under way.

The defence secretary told the American public that «It’s a competitive world out there. We compete with China, we compete with Russia, we compete with terrorists. And we have to win». 

Minuteman missiles have nuclear warheads and are manufactured by the Boeing Company which is proud that «the Minuteman program established Boeing as a leader in large-scale system integration. Today, the combined heritage of the Minuteman programs of Boeing and Autonetics continues as Boeing Strategic Missile Systems (SMS), supporting the Air Force with system evaluation, testing, training and modernization».

The US arsenal of deployed nuclear weapons includes 450 Boeing ICBMs, each having an explosive power of 475 kilotons (Kt). The US bombs that totally destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were about 20 Kt.

On February 25 Boeing’s shares opened at 116.35 and went to a high of 117.60. Next day they reached 119.45. In early March they had increased to 123.49. It seems they’re taking off with comparable velocity to their Minuteman missiles, boosted by statements on the part of the military and their legions of supportive politicians that China and Russia are threatening the United States.

Washington fails to realise – simply refuses to understand – that the only thing wanted by Russia and China is that the United States should mind its own business and stay out of other nations’ affairs that do not concern it. Secretary Carter states that militarily «We compete with China, we compete with Russia» – but Russia and China don’t want to compete with the United States. They just want to progress and develop economically and socially and stay in their own backyards, with secure borders, while trading with as many countries as possible.

Neither Russia nor China has 700 military bases in over 40 countries round the world. Neither Russia not China attempts to vastly expand military alliances specifically designed to threaten the United States. Neither Russia nor China possess nuclear-armed Carrier Strike Groups or Amphibious Ready Groups of the type and strength that the US deploys threateningly around the coasts of sovereign nations who prefer to mind their own business.

The latest US move to threaten China is deployment to the South China Sea of the nuclear-armed aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay and the guided missile destroyers USS Stockdale and USS Chung-Hoon. They and their many escort vessels arrived off China on 4 March to join the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam and its fleet of ancillary ships.

In another wonderfully ironic episode, just as this mighty US attack fleet was arriving to menace China, Defence Secretary Carter announced to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco that «China must not pursue militarization in the South China Sea». Mystically, he observed that «Specific actions will have specific consequences» and when asked what these might be, he «told reporters the US military was already increasing deployments to the Asia-Pacific region and would spend $425 million through 2020 to pay for more exercises and training with countries in the region that were affected by China’s actions».

With good historical justification, China maintains that most of the islet chains and groups in the South China Sea are its sovereign territory, although some areas are claimed by Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The United States has got nothing to do with these disputes. Washington has no treaties with any of these nations that would require military intervention in the event of one of them having a disagreement with another country.

The United States has no territory of its own closer than the Pacific island of Guam, where, according to the US Congressional Research Service, «Since 2000, the US military has been building up forward-deployed forces… to increase US operational presence, deterrence, and power projection». In other words, the US build-up is intended to confront China, which is now, understandably, being forced to increase its own military forces to be prepared for what might happen as a result of US «power projection».

Complementing the US muscle-flexing in the South China Sea, the indefatigable Breedlove explained why Washington is indulging in similar antics in Europe. Ignoring the fact that the insurgency against Syria’s government was energetically supported by the US, in training and equipping what it absurdly called «moderate rebel forces», thus contributing to massive destruction and creating a dire refugee problem, Breedlove told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the refugee crisis in Europe is all the fault of Russia. «Together», he declared, «Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponizing migration… to break European resolve».

In a fit of fantasy Breedlove announced that Russia has «chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat» to the United States and its allies, and emphasised that the Supreme Allied Command Europe, «is deterring Russia now and preparing to fight and win if necessary».

The US is deliberately and most aggressively threatening China and Russia. Its military representatives are making belligerent statements that are intended to implant fear in Moscow and Beijing.

But the immature bluster and bravado of such as Breedlove and Carter do not create fear in those they seek to intimidate. They create determination in such countries – the resolve to stand up to the menace presented by the incessant deployment of military force against them.

This is exactly what is happening at the moment, and the US may be in for some nasty surprises.

March 16, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

China irate as US targets Iran trade

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Press TV – March 7, 2016

China is outraged as the US government plans to punish its largest telecom equipment maker ZTE Corps for alleged violations of sanctions on Iran.

China and Iran have close diplomatic, economic, trade and energy ties. Beijing played a key role in a nuclear agreement which came into effect in January and lifted sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The US, however, contends that the deal involves “secondary sanctions” related to Iran’s nuclear program and “primary sanctions” linked to terrorism and human rights accusations are still in place.

The US Commerce Department is set to place export restrictions on ZTE, effective on Tuesday and applying to any company worldwide that ships American-made products to the Chinese company.

The announcement forced ZTE to suspend its shares in Hong Kong Monday.

The company is accused of having signed contracts in 2012 to ship millions of dollars worth of hardware and software to Iran’s largest telecoms carrier, Telecommunication Co of Iran (TCI).

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed anger at the action, saying it is “opposed to the US citing domestic laws to place sanctions on Chinese enterprises.”

“We hope the US stops this erroneous action and avoids damaging Sino-US trade cooperation and bilateral relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Experts say the move is set to further strain relations between China and the US. Beijing, they say, is likely to retaliate against American companies by tightening market access or regulatory control over US companies in China.

The US move comes as China is trying to make its companies global leaders in next generation IT.

ZTE is already the fourth-largest provider of smart phones to the US market and expanding in Europe. According to its website, the company has operations in 160 countries.

Under the US restrictions, ZTE’s suppliers will need to apply for an export license before selling US equipment or parts to the Chinese company anywhere in the world.

The US restrictions will reportedly also apply to two of ZTE affiliates in China as well as Iran’s ZTE Parsian.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Dragging Our Feet Toward Disaster

By Ira Helfand | CounterPunch | February 29, 2016

A United Nations meeting in Geneva this week could have enormous implications for United States national security, but it is being ignored by most of the media and by America’s political leaders. It deserves serious attention.

A new policy-making body called the Open Ended Working Group will consider ways to break the current impasse in efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear war. The group expects to make formal recommendations to the UN this fall. The initiative is especially important given recent studies on the catastrophic effects that would follow even a limited use of nuclear weapons.

The group was established by an overwhelming majority at the UN. The U.S. and all of the other nuclear weapons states voted against and are boycotting the meeting. Why?

Robert Wood, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, recently defended the American decision in a tweet: “agenda ignores security dimension of nuclear weapons. Only practical and realistic efforts will lead to a world w/o nukes.” His claim would have more weight if the United States were pursuing “practical and realistic efforts” instead of planning to spend $1 trillion over the next three decades to maintain its nuclear arsenal indefinitely.

The real reason for the boycott is that this meeting will explore ways to make the nine nuclear weapons states, which include Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom, live up to their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970, which requires them to negotiate the abolition of their nuclear arsenals. It very well may recommend negotiation of a new treaty that will effectively ban nuclear weapons, defining their possession as a violation of international law.

Based on the medical evidence, the nonnuclear weapons states are right to call for the elimination of these weapons.

Over the last three years, a series of major global conferences have explored the medical consequences of nuclear war. The new scientific data presented at these meeting have demonstrated the unacceptable, existential threat to humanity posed by nuclear arsenals.

Representatives of the International Red Cross have testified that the world’s leading disaster relief organization can do nothing significant to mitigate the consequences of even a single nuclear explosion, let alone a nuclear war.

Climate scientists and medical experts have presented new data showing that even a very limited nuclear war would cause catastrophic effects worldwide. The fires caused by as few as 100 small nuclear weapons, less than one-half of one percent of the world’s nuclear arsenals, directed against urban targets, would cause global climate disruption. The resulting decline in food production would trigger a “nuclear famine” across the planet and put up to two billion people at risk. A famine on this scale would be unprecedented in human history. While it would not mean the extinction of our species, it would almost certainly mean the end of modern civilization.

A limited war between India and Pakistan, using less than half of their current arsenals, could cause that kind of famine, as could the use of the nuclear warheads on a single US Trident submarine. The US has 14 of them and an arsenal of nuclear bombers and land-based missiles as well.

A full-scale war between the US and Russia using all of these weapons would cause a “nuclear winter,” with ice-age conditions across the planet persisting for a decade or more. The collapse of food production under these circumstances would lead to the death of the vast majority of the human race. It might cause our extinction as a species.

The US and Russia are now engaged in a new game of nuclear chicken in Europe and the Middle East, with the ever-present danger that one side or the other will miscalculate, or that an accident will trigger a nuclear exchange. There have been at least five occasions since 1979 when either Moscow or Washington prepared to launch a nuclear war, in the mistaken belief that they were already under attack.

The determination to hold on to these weapons stems from a deeply held belief that they somehow make a nation more secure. For most of human history, having more powerful weapons did protect us. But as Albert Einstein observed at the beginning of the nuclear era, the splitting of the atom changed everything, except the way we think and thus we head for unprecedented disaster.

If the use of even a tiny fraction of our nuclear arsenal will cause a global holocaust that engulfs us as well as the rest of humanity, how can these weapons be seen as agents of our security? They are suicide bombs. By possessing them, we are a nation of suicide bombers.

Nuclear weapons, the evidence, is now clear, are the greatest threat to our national security. We need to make their elimination our highest national security priority. The U.S. should start by joining the working group in Geneva and, as the next step toward that goal, working for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Ira Helfand MD practices internal medicine at an urgent care center in Springfield, MA. He is a Past President of Physicians for Social Responsibility and is currently the Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the 1985 Nobel Peace Laureate.

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN Sanctions Won’t Put Pyongyang Off Nuclear Weapons

Sputnik – 28.02.2016

The draft resolution for tougher sanctions against North Korea that the US submitted to the UN with China’s backing will not discourage Pyongyang from developing nuclear and ballistic missiles, North Korean expert Michael Madden told Sputnik.

On Friday, Washington, with Beijing’s backing, submitted a new resolution to the UN Security Council for additional sanctions against North Korea to deter it from progressing further with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Michael Madden, a North Korean expert who runs the North Korean Leadership Watch blog, told Radio Sputnik that the sanctions are unlikely to succeed in stopping the programs, even if they do harm to the North Korean economy.

​”It’s not a terrific economy but in the last couple of years they’ve had modest growth and they’ve had some progress in terms of domestic economic development so it will remain to be seen if the sanctions affect that,” Madden said.

“One of the things that they’ve done is to allow the technocrats that are within North Korea’s cabinet to start managing programs, these people are very experienced [in dealing with] the fundamental flaws in North Korea’s economy, they know some of the fixes they need to make.”

“There have been some light reform measures that they’ve taken since Kim Jong-un has come to power, there’s a little more flexibility for the technocrats, there’s a little more flexibility in terms of food production, there’s some very basic market principles that they’re applying to their economy and I think that has affected growth rates over the last couple of years.”

North Korean President Kim Jong-un and many of those in his circle are more open-minded because they were educated abroad, and Madden said the president is aware of the gaps in his knowledge and open and amenable to advice, particularly from technocrats and economic planners.

“There is a certain degree – a very specific degree because it’s a totalitarian state – of flexibility that he has allowed officials to have in terms of formulating policies.”

However, that flexibility does not extend to its nuclear program, and sanctions will not make Pyongyang give up its nuclear program, Madden warned.

“North Korea has basically said on a number of occasions that they have no intention of giving up their nuclear weapons program, and no intention of stopping space launches, and we’re going to have to take them at their word.”

“They have numerous reasons for that, they’ll say ‘Iraq and Libya got rid of their WMD programs, look what happened there,’ and to a certain degree they’re justified in their thinking based on what they’ve seen happen to other similar political systems after they negotiated away their WMD programs.”

Madden said that Beijing has supported the US proposal for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang because of legitimate concerns about the potential for nuclear fallout and earthquakes as a result of the weapons tests, which “annoy China to a great extent, especially the nuclear weapons tests.”

While China and North Korea share a close relationship, China’s influence is somewhat exaggerated by a lot of external observers and government policy makers, and Pyongyang is likely to react with open hostility to the proposed sanctions, Madden said.

“Kim Jong-un spent last week inspecting military exercises; we’re probably going to see him inspecting more military exercises, they’re certainly going to tighten social controls.”

“Once the sanctions are passed, we’ll see some very interesting statements coming out of North Korea, they’ll just continue to heighten tensions on the Korean peninsula, and that’s what we’ll be seeing.”

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Beijing Sees Nothing Anti-Chinese in TPP Deal

Sputnik – 23.02.2016

BEIJING — Beijing does not consider the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal to be directed against China, the country’s Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said Tuesday.

“We do not think that the TPP deal is directed against China. We also do not think that the TPP deal and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP] contradict each other. I think they supplement each other,” Gao said at a press conference.

According to the minister, the official text of the agreement has been completely translated into Chinese and some time is needed to analyze the deal.

Gao noted that China always positively regarded transparent regional free trade agreements.

In early February, the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam signed the TPP agreement. Under the TPP deal, a free trade zone was established between these 12 nations that constitute 40 percent of the world’s GDP. The agreement is to be ratified by every participant.

The US President Barack Obama administration had noted previously that the TPP would allow the United States to write the rules of global trade in the 21st century.

February 24, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

US dominates global weapons sale amid increasing imports

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Press TV – February 22, 2016

The United States has expanded its weapons business, increasing its global arms sales amid rising imports by Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

According to a new study published Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the volume of international transfers of major weapons, including sales and donations, was 14 percent higher in 2011-2015 than over the five previous years, with the US and Russia doing most of the exporting.

The biggest importers were India, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The report pointed to the Saudi-led war on Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been seeking to reinstate the country’s fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and undermine the Yemeni Ansarullah movement.

“A coalition of Arab states is putting mainly US- and European-sourced advanced arms into use in Yemen,” senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman said in the report.

The report also said US arms went to more than 90 countries.

The United States has sold or donated major arms to a diverse range of recipients across the globe, the report said.

“As regional conflicts and tensions continue to mount, the USA remains the leading global arms supplier by a significant margin,” said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program.

“The USA has sold or donated major arms to at least 96 states in the past five years, and the US arms industry has large outstanding export orders,” including for over 600 F-35 combat aircraft, said Fleurant.

The biggest chunk of US major arms, 41 percent, went into Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East.

Now Scott Bennett, former US Army psychological warfare officer, says the trend does not come as a surprise “because it indicates a pattern that we’ve long seen, but has really quickened since the September 11th wars were initiated by the United States.”

Bennett told Press TV on Monday that the US governments “simply followed a policy of igniting fires around the world and then selling the equipment to put them out.”

Meanwhile, the latest report adds that Russia remains in second place on the SIPRI exporters list, with its share of the total up three points to 25 percent, though the levels dropped in 2014 and 2015 — coinciding with Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.

India took the largest chunk of Russian weaponry, AFP reported.

While the flows of weapons to Africa, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East all increased between 2006-10 and 2011-15, there had been a sharp fall in the flow to Europe and a minor decrease in the volume heading to the Americas, according to SIPRI.

The overall transfer of arms has been upwards this century after a relative drop in the previous 20 years.

China leapfrogged both France and Germany over the past five years to become the third-largest source of major arms globally, with an 88-percent rise in exports. Most of the Chinese weapons went to other Asian countries, with Pakistan the main recipient.

India remains by far the biggest importer of major arms, accounting for 14 percent of the total; twice as much as second-placed Saudi Arabia and three times as much as China.

February 22, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

China to Ban Online Foreign Media After March 10 – Statement

No Chinese Spring

Sputnik – 19.02.2016

BEIJING – Foreign companies will be banned from publishing online in China from March 10, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said in a joint statement Friday.

“Sino-foreign joint ventures and foreign businesses shall not engage in online publishing services,” the regulations state.

The rules apply to “informative, ideological content text, pictures, maps, games, animation, audio and video digitizing books and other original works of literature, art, science and other fields.”

Joint projects are required to apply for special permission to carry out such activities from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, according to the new rules.

Domestic online media are required to inform the relevant authorities about their sources of funding, expenditure, personnel, domain name registration as well as being required to keep all servers and equipment in China.

Online outlets are prohibited from publishing information that may cause “harm to national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” “spread rumors, disturb social order or undermine social stability,” and harm “social morality or endanger national cultural tradition,” among others.

Foreign websites, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and a number of Western publications remain inaccessible in China. Beijing has adopted a series of normative and ideological directives in recent years requiring national internet providers and media to closely monitor the quality of information disseminated online.

February 19, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

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