The months ahead may reveal the direction that U.S.-North Korean relations will take under the Trump administration. After eight years of ‘strategic patience’ and the Rebalance to Asia, those relations now stand at their lowest point in decades. Many foreign policy elites are expressing frustration over Washington’s failure to impose its will on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). There are increasing calls for a change in policy, but what kind of change do they have in mind? We may be at the point of a major transition.
President Trump has given mixed signals on North Korea, ranging from saying he is open to dialogue, to insisting that North Korea cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons and that he could solve the dispute with a single call to China. It is fair to say that any change in policy direction is possible, although deeply entrenched interests can be counted on to resist any positive movement.
Other than his frequently expressed hard line on China, Trump has not otherwise demonstrated much interest in Asian-Pacific affairs. That may mean an increased likelihood that he will defer to his advisors, and conventional wisdom may prevail. The more influence Trump’s advisors have on North Korea policy, the more dangerous the prospects.
National Security Advisor Michael Flynn could be a key figure. Back in November, he told a South Korean delegation that the North Korean nuclear issue would be a top priority for the Trump administration.  At around the same time, he told a Japanese newspaper that the North Korean government should not be allowed to last very long, and he has no intention of negotiating an agreement. 
Flynn has written that North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela are in a global alliance with radical Islam, a loopy concept if ever there was one.  It is a disturbing thought that a man so disconnected from reality is helping to shape policy.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo believes that Iran and North Korea cooperate in what he calls “an evil partnership.”  He has also called for the mobilization of economic and military powers against the DPRK. 
Establishment think tanks have churned out a number of policy papers, filled with recommendations for the new administration. Their advice is likely to fall on receptive ears among Trump’s advisors. How much influence they will have on Trump’s decision-making is another question, but he is hearing a single message from those around him and from the Washington establishment.
A common theme running through these think tank policy papers is the demand to punish China for its relations with the DPRK.
The most moderate set of proposals offered the Trump administration is the one produced by Joel Wit for the U.S.-Korea Institute, in that it at least calls for an initial stage that Wit terms “phased coercive diplomacy.” Initial diplomatic contacts would “explore whether agreements that serve U.S. interests are possible while at the same time” the U.S. would lay the groundwork for “increasing pressure” on North Korea. A modest scaling back of the annual U.S. war games could be offered as an incentive to North Korea, along with negotiations on a peace treaty, as long as the U.S. feels it can gain more from North Korean concessions.
At the same time, Wit calls for the new administration to “communicate toughness” and implement a “long-term deterrence campaign.” This would include the rotation of B-1 and B-52 bombers into South Korea on a regular basis, along with stationing nuclear weapons-armed submarines off the Korean coast.
While negotiations are underway, Wit wants the U.S. to direct a propaganda war against the DPRK, by increasing radio broadcasts and infiltrating portable storage devices containing information designed to destabilize the government. What he does not say is that such hostile measures can only have the effect of derailing diplomacy.
If North Korea proves less than compliant to U.S. demands, or if it prepares to test an ICBM, then Wit advises Washington to impose a total “energy and non-food embargo” on North Korea. Wit argues that China must accede to U.S. demands in the UN Security Council for what amounts to economic warfare on North Korea, or else the United States should impose “crippling sanctions” on the DPRK and secondary sanctions on China. By attacking the Chinese economy in this manner, Wit says this would send a message “that the United States would be prepared to face a serious crisis with China over North Korean behavior.” The arrogance is stunning. If China does not agree to American demands in the United Nations, then it is to be punished through U.S. sanctions. 
This is what passes as the “moderate” approach among Washington’s foreign policy establishment.
Wit is not alone in his eagerness to punish China. Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute believes that “the next round of penalties will probably have to be ones which have some sort of collateral fallout for China…Sanctions are fine, more sanctions are better,” he says. “Increasing the cost for China, I think, is the way to go.” 
Eberstadt argues that U.S. North Korea policy should “consist mainly, though not entirely, of military measures.” “It is time for Beijing to pay a penalty for all its support” for North Korea, he declares. “We can begin by exacting it in diplomatic venues all around the world.”  Displaying the presumption all too typical of Washington elites, he has nothing to say about how China might react to his hostile policy prescriptions. The assumption is that China should just take the punishment without complaint. That will not happen.
U.S. Navy Commander ‘Skip’ Vincenzo prepared a set of recommendations that proved so popular that it was jointly published by four think tanks. Vincenzo is looking ahead and planning for how the United States and South Korea could attack the DPRK without suffering great losses. He urges the Trump administration to conduct an information war to undermine North Korea from within. The aim would be “convincing regime elites that their best options” in a conflict “would be to support ROK-U.S. alliance efforts.” He adds that “easily understood themes such as ‘stay in your garrisons and you will get paid’ should target the military rank and file.” North Korean military commanders should be told they would be “financially rewarded” for avoiding combat. “The objective is to get them to act independently when the time comes with the expectation that they will benefit later.” 
Interesting phrase, ‘when the time comes.’ Vincenzo anticipates that military intervention in North Korea is only a matter of time. He clearly envisions a scenario like the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when many Iraqi units melted away rather than fight. The fantasy that the U.S. could repeat the Iraqi experience in the DPRK is based on a misjudgment of the Korean national character. Nor does it take into account that what followed the invasion of Iraq could hardly be construed as a peaceful development.
The Brookings Institute, despite its centrist reputation, encourages Trump to take actions that are savage and reckless. “The new president,” the Institute says, “should adopt an approach that focuses on North Korea’s main goal: regime survival… The United States and its allies and partners should make North Korea choose between nuclear weapons and survival.”
The Brookings Institute calls for all-out economic warfare on the North Korean people. “A more robust approach,” it advises, “should go after “the financial lifeblood of the North Korean regime in new ways: starving the regime of foreign currency, cutting Pyongyang off from the international financial and trading system, squeezing its trading networks, interdicting its commerce, and using covert and overt means to take advantage of the regime’s many vulnerabilities. A strong foundation of military measures must underline this approach.”
In a major understatement, the Institute admits that “such an approach carries risks.” Indeed it does, and it is the Korean people who would bear that cost, while Washington’s elites would face none of the consequences of their actions. What the Brookings Institute is calling for is the economic strangulation of North Korea, which would bring about the collapse of people’s livelihoods and mass starvation.
Like other think tanks, the Brookings Institute advocates targeting China, calling for the imposition of secondary sanctions on “Chinese firms, banks, and state-owned enterprises” that do business with North Korea.  The aim would be to cut North Korea off from all trade with China.
Walter Sharp, a former commander of U.S. Forces Korea, says that the United States should launch a preemptive strike if North Korea prepares to launch a satellite or test a ballistic missile. “The missile should be destroyed,” he declares. It is easy to imagine the violent response by the United States, were a foreign nation to attack one of its missiles on the launch pad. It is delusional to expect that North Korea not only wouldn’t respond in some manner but would have no right to do so. But Sharp advocates “overwhelming force” if North Korea retaliates, because, as he puts it, Kim Jong-un should know “that there is a lot more coming his way, something he will fear.”  If this sounds like a prescription for war, that is because it is.
It is a measure of how decades of militarized foreign policy have degraded public discourse in this country to such an extent that these lunatic notions are not only taken seriously, but advocates are sought out for advice and treated with respect.
With suggestions like that, it is not surprising that Walter Sharp was invited to join the task force that produced a set of recommendations on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations. The task force calls for the early stages of negotiations to focus on a nuclear freeze, limitations on North Korean conventional forces and missile development, and inspection of nuclear facilities. Obligations on North Korea would be front-loaded, with absolutely nothing offered in return. The promise of a peace treaty and gradual normalization of relations would be back-loaded, contingent on full disarmament, an improvement on human rights, and allowing U.S. and South Korean media to saturate the DPRK. Certainly, that last demand would be a non-starter, as it is impossible to imagine that North Korea would agree to allow its media space to be dominated by hostile foreign entities.
Such a one-sided approach has no chance of achieving a diplomatic settlement. As a solution, the Council recommends that the United States continually escalate sanctions during the negotiating process.
The Council on Foreign Relations calls for the U.S., South Korea, and Japan to build up the capability to intercept North Korean missile launches, “whether they are declared to be ballistic missile tests or civil space launch vehicles.” If negotiations falter, it advises the three allies to shoot down North Korean missiles as soon as they are launched. That would be an act of war. And how does the Council on Foreign Relations imagine North Korea would respond to having a satellite launch shot down? It does not say.
Further development of North Korea’s nuclear program, the Council suggests, would require “more assertive diplomatic and military steps, including some that directly threaten the regime’s nuclear and missile programs and, therefore, the regime itself.”
“The United States should support enhanced information operations” against North Korea, the Council adds, to undermine the government and “strengthen emerging market forces.” Predictably enough, it advocates “severe economic pressure” on North Korea, as well as encouraging private companies to bring legal suits against nations and companies that do business with North Korea. 
It is not diplomacy that the Council on Foreign Relations seeks, but regime change, and its policy paper is filled with the language of the bully.
Bruce Bennett is a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corporation. He warns that North Korea’s desire for a peace treaty is a ruse. “In reality,” he says, “by insisting on a peace treaty, North Korea is probably not seeking peace, but war.” He goes on to claim that a peace treaty might lead to the withdrawal of U.S. forces, after which the North could be counted on to invade South Korea. Calls for a peace treaty, he adds, “should be regarded as nothing but a deceitful scam that could lead to the devastation of South Korea, a U.S. ally.”  This is an argument that other analysts also make, and is clearly delusional. But it serves as a good illustration of how in the blinkered mindset of Washington’s policy analysts, unsupported assertion takes the place of any sense of reality.
The Center for a New American Security has planted deep roots in the U.S. establishment. Ashton Carter, secretary of defense in the Obama administration, expressed the level of respect and influence that CNAS holds in Washington. “For almost a decade now,” Carter said, “CNAS has been an engine for the ideas and talent that have shaped American foreign policy and defense policy.” Carter added that “in meeting after meeting, on issue after issue,” he worked with CNAS members.  His comments reveal that this is an organization that has constant access to the halls of power.
The Center for a New American Security has produced a set of policy documents intended to influence the Trump administration. Not surprisingly, it favors the Rebalance to Asia that was initiated by President Obama, and advocates a further expansion of U.S. military forces in Asia.  It also wants to see greater involvement by NATO in the Asia-Pacific in support of the U.S. military. 
Patrick Cronin is senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at CNAS, and as such, he wields considerable influence on U.S. policy. Cronin asserts that “Trump will want to enact harsh sanctions and undertake a serious crackdown” on North Korean financial operations, but these steps should be of secondary importance. Trump should “double down” on the U.S. military buildup in the region, he says, and alliance strategy should send the message to Kim Jong-un that nuclear weapons would threaten his survival. There it is again: the the proposal to threaten North Korea’s survival if it does not abandon its nuclear program.
Regardless of diplomatic progress, Cronin believes the U.S. and its allies should conduct an information war against North Korea “at both elite and grassroots’ levels.” 
China is not to be ignored, and Cronin feels Trump will need to integrate “tougher diplomacy” with economic sanctions against China. 
It remains to be seen to what extent Trump will heed such advice. But the entire foreign policy establishment and mainstream media are united in staunch opposition to any genuinely diplomatic resolution of the dispute. Trump has expressed a healthy skepticism concerning CIA intelligence briefings. Whether that skepticism will be extended to the advice coming from Washington think tanks is an open question.
If the aim of these proposals is to bring about denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, then they are recipes for failure. But if the intent is to impose economic hardship on the North Korean people, while capitalizing on the nuclear issue as a pretext to dominate the region, then these think tanks know what they are doing. As always, human considerations mean nothing when it comes to serving corporate and imperial interests, and if they fully have their way, it will be no surprise if they succeed in bringing to the Korean Peninsula the same chaos and destruction that they gave to the Middle East. One can only hope that more reasonable voices will prevail during policy formulation.
What none of the policy papers address is the role that South Korea has to play. It is simply assumed that the status quo will continue, and South Korea will go along with any action the U.S. chooses to take, no matter how harsh or dangerous. In the mind of the Washington establishment, this is a master-servant relationship and nothing more.
That Koreans, north and south, may have their own goals and interests is not considered. The truly astonishing mass protests against South Korean President Park Geun-hye, which led to her impeachment, have opened up a world of possibilities. Whatever happens in the months ahead, it won’t be business as usual. U.S. policymakers are in a panic at the prospect of a more progressive and independent-minded government taking power after the next election in South Korea, and this is what lies behind plans to rush the deployment of a THAAD battery ahead of schedule. But in a sense, it may already be too late. Park Geun-hye, and by implication her policies, have been thoroughly discredited. It may well be that the harsher the measures Washington wants to impose on the DPRK, the less it can count on cooperation from South Korea. And it could be this that prevents the United States from recklessly plunging the Korean Peninsula into chaos or even war.
Let us imagine a more progressive government taking power in South Korea, engaging in dialogue with its neighbor to the north and signing agreements on economic cooperation. Were the U.S. so inclined, it could work together with such a government in South Korea to reduce tensions and develop economic ties with the DPRK. Rail and gas links could cross North Korea, connecting the south with China and Russia, and provide an economic boost to the entire region. North and South Korea could shift resources from military to civilian needs and start to dismantle national security state structures. The nuclear issue would cease to matter. All of those things could be done, but it would take a change in mentality in Washington and a willingness to defy the entire establishment.
Alas, it is far more likely that tensions will continue to be ratcheted up. Longstanding confrontation with Russia and China has been the keynote of U.S. policy, leading to the encirclement of those nations by a ring of military bases and anti-ballistic missile systems. The Rebalance to Asia aims to reinforce military power around China. North Korea, in this context, serves as a convenient justification for the U.S. military and economic domination of the Asia-Pacific.
Why is North Korea’s nuclear weapons program regarded as an unacceptable threat, whereas those of other nations are not? Why do we not see the United States imposing sanctions on Pakistan for its nuclear program, or conducting war games in the Indian Ocean, practicing the invasion of India? Why do we not hear calls for regime change in Israel over its nuclear program?
Instead, Pakistan is the fifth largest recipient of U.S. aid, slated to receive $742 million this year. India receives one-tenth of that amount, and the United States recently signed an agreement with it on military cooperation.  As for Israel, the United States has pledged to provide it with $38 billion in military aid over the next ten years. 
What is it about its nuclear weapons program that causes North Korea to be sanctioned and threatened, whereas the U.S. warmly embraces the others? Pakistan, India, and Israel have nuclear programs that are far more advanced than North Korea’s, with sizeable arsenals and well-tested ballistic missiles. The other major difference is that North Korea is the only one of the four nations facing an existential threat from the United States, and therefore has the greatest need of a nuclear deterrent.
There is no threat of North Korea attacking the United States. It has yet to test a re-entry vehicle, and so cannot be said to have the means of delivering a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, the nation will never have more than a small arsenal relative to the size of that owned by the U.S., so its nuclear weapons can only play a deterrent role.
The “threat” that North Korea’s nuclear program presents is twofold. Once North Korea succeeds in completing development of its program, the United States will lose any realistic possibility of attacking it. Whether the U.S. would choose to exercise that capability or not, it wants to retain that option.
The other aspect of the “threat” is that if the DPRK succeeds in establishing an effective nuclear weapons program, then other small nations facing U.S. hostility may feel emboldened to develop nuclear programs, thereby reducing the ability of the U.S. to impose its will on others.
It’s difficult to see why North Korea would ever give up its nuclear program. For one thing, according to U.S. State Department estimates, North Korea is spending anywhere from 15 to 24 percent of its GDP on the military.  This is unsustainable for an economy in recovery, and nuclear weapons are cheap in comparison to the expense of conventional armed forces. The DPRK is placing great emphasis on economic development, and a nuclear weapons program allows it to shift more resources to the civilian economy. 
Recent history has also shown that a small nation relying on conventional military forces has no chance of defending itself against attack by the United States. For a nation like North Korea, nuclear weapons present the only reliable means of defense.
North Korea attaches great importance to the signing of a peace treaty. After more than six decades since the Korean War, a peace treaty is long overdue and a worthy goal. But if the DPRK imagines that a peace treaty would provide a measure of security, I think it is mistaken. The U.S. was officially at peace with each of the nations it attacked or undermined.
What kind of guarantees could the United States possibly give North Korea to ensure its security in exchange for disarmament? An agreement could be signed, and promises made, and mean nothing. Libya, it should be recalled, signed a nuclear disarmament agreement with one U.S. administration, only to be bombed by the next. No verbal or written promise could provide any measure of security.
The one-sided record of U.S. negotiators is hardly an encouragement for North Korea to disarm either.
For example, shortly after the United States signed the September 2005 Joint Agreement with North Korea, U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill sought to reassure Congress that the United States was not about to begin to normalize relations, even though that is precisely what the agreement obligated it to do.
Normalization of relations, he explained to Congress, would be “subject to resolution of our longstanding concerns. By this, I meant that as a necessary part of the process leading to normalization, we must discuss important issues, including human rights, biological and chemical weapons, ballistic missile programs, proliferation of conventional weapons, terrorism, and other illicit activities.” North Korea “would have to commit to international standards across the board, and then prove its intentions.” Christopher Hill’s point was clear. Even if North Korea were to denuclearize fully, relations would still not move toward normalization. North Korea would only be faced with a host of additional demands. 
Indeed, far from beginning to normalize relations, within days of the signing of the September 2005 agreement, the Treasury Department designated Macao-based Banco Delta Asia as a “primary money-laundering concern,” despite a lack of any evidence to back that claim. U.S. financial firms were ordered to sever relations with the bank, which led to a wave of withdrawals by panicked customers, and the bank’s closure. The aim of the Treasury Department was to shut off one of the key institutions North Korea used to conduct regular international trade. That action killed the agreement.
The Libyan nuclear agreement provides the model that Washington expects North Korea to follow. That agreement compelled Libya to dismantle its nuclear program as a precondition for receiving any rewards, and it was only after that process was complete that many of the sanctions on Libya were lifted. It took another two years to remove Libya from the list of sponsors of terrorism and restore diplomatic relations.
Upon closer examination, these ‘rewards’ look more like a reduction in punishment. Can it be said that a reduction in sanctions is a reward? If someone is beating you, and then promises to cut back on the number of beatings, is he rewarding you?
It did not seem so to the Libyans, who often complained that U.S. officials had not rewarded them for their compliance. 
What the U.S. did have to offer Libya, though, were more demands. Early on, Undersecretary of State John Bolton told Libyan officials that they had to halt military cooperation with Iran in order to complete the denuclearization agreement. And on at least one occasion, a U.S. official pressured Libya to cut off military trade with North Korea, Iran, and Syria. 
American officials demanded that Libya recognize the unilateral independence of Kosovo, a position which Libya had consistently opposed.  This was followed by a U.S. diplomatic note to Libya, ordering it to vote against the Serbian government’s resolution at the United Nations, which asked for a ruling by the International Court of Justice on Kosovo independence. 
Under the circumstances, Libya preferred to absent itself from the vote, rather than join the United States and three other nations in opposing the measure.
The U.S. did succeed, however, in obtaining Libya’s vote for UN sanctions against Iran.  In response to U.S. directives, Libya repeatedly advised North Korea to follow its example and denuclearize. Under U.S. pressure, Libya also launched a privatization program and opened opportunities for U.S. businesses.
U.S. officials often urged the North Koreans to take note of the Libyan deal and learn from its example. These days, that example looks rather different, given the bombing of Libya by U.S. warplanes and missiles. Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was rewarded for his cooperation with the United States by being beaten, impaled on a bayonet, and shot several times. There is a lesson here, all right, and the North Koreans have taken due note of it.
It is time to challenge the standard Western narrative.
Under international space law, every nation has the right to launch a satellite into orbit, yet North Korea alone is singled out for condemnation and denied that right. The United States, with over one thousand nuclear tests,  reacts with outrage to North Korea’s five.
To quote political analyst Tim Beal, “The construction of North Korea as an international pariah is an expression of American power rather than, as is usually claimed, a result of the infringement of international law. In fact, the discriminatory charges against North Korea are themselves a violation of the norms of international law and the equal sovereignty of states.” 
Since 1953, North Korea has never been at war.
During that same period, to list only a sampling of interventions, the U.S. overthrew the government of Guatemala, sent a proxy army to invade Cuba, and bombed and invaded Vietnam, at the cost of two million lives. It bombed Cambodia and Laos, sent troops into the Dominican Republic, backed a military coup in Indonesia, in which half a million people were killed, organized a military coup in Chile, backed Islamic extremists in their efforts to topple a secular government in Afghanistan. The U.S. invaded Grenada, mined harbors and armed anti-government forces in Nicaragua, armed right-wing guerrillas in Angola and Mozambique, armed and trained Croatian forces and supplied air cover as they expelled 200,000 people from their homes in Krajina, bombed half of Bosnia, armed and trained the Kosovo Liberation Army, attacked Yugoslavia, invaded Iraq, backed the overthrow of governments in Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Georgia, Honduras, and many other nations, bombed Libya, and armed and trained jihadists in Syria.
And yet, we are told that it is North Korea that is the threat to international peace.
2017 could be a pivotal year for the Korean Peninsula. An energized population is bringing change to South Korea. We should join them and demand change here in the United States, as well. It is time to resist continued calls for a reckless and militarized foreign policy.
 Jesse Johnson, “Trump National Security Pick Tells South Koreans that North’s Nuke Program will be Priority,” The Japan Times, November 19, 2016.
 Chang Jae-soon, “Trump Names Former DIA Chief Mike Flynn as his National Security Advisor,” Yonhap, November 19, 2016.
 Edward Wong, “Michael Flynn, a Top Trump Adviser, Ties China and North Korea to Jihadists,” New York Times, November 30, 2016.
 Press Release, “Pompeo on North Korea’s Nuclear Test,” U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo, January 16, 2016.
 Chang Jae-soon, “Trump’s Foreign Policy Lineup Expected to be Supportive of Alliance with Seoul, Tough on N.K.,” December 13, 2016.
 Joel S. Wit, “The Way Ahead: North Korea Policy Recommendations for the Trump Administration,” U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), December 2016.
 FPI Conference Call: North Korea’s Dangerous Nuclear Escalation,” The Foreign Policy Initiative, September 15, 2016.
 Nicholas Eberstadt, “Wishful Thinking has Prevented Effective Threat Reduction in North Korea,” National Review, February 29, 2016.
 Commander Frederick ‘Skip’ Vincenzo, “An Information Based Strategy to Reduce North Korea’s Increasing Threat: Recommendations for ROK & U.S. Policy Makers,” Center for a New American Security, U.S.-Korea Institute, National Defense University, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Center for Security Studies,” October 2016.
 Evans J.R. Revere, “Dealing with a Nuclear-Armed North Korea: Rising Danger, Narrowing Options, Hard Choices,” Brookings Institute, October 4, 2016.
 Richard Sisk, “Former US General Calls for Pre-emptive Strike on North Korea,” Defense Tech, December 1, 2016.
 Mike Mullen and Sam Nunn, chairs, and Adam Mount, project director, “A Sharper Choice on North Korea: Engaging China for a Stable Northeast Asia,” Independent Task Force Report No. 74, Council on Foreign Relations, 2016.
 Bruce W. Bennett, “Kim Jong-un is Trolling America Again,” The National Interest, May 17, 2016.
 Ashton Carter, “Networking Defense in the 21st Century”, Remarks at CNAS, Washington, DC, Defense.gov, June 20, 2016.
 Mira Rapp-Hooper, Patrick M. Cronin, Harry Krejsa, Hannah Suh, “Counterbalance: Red Teaming the Rebalance in the Asia-Pacific,” Center for a New American Security, November 2016.
 Julianne Smith, Erik Brattberg, and Rachel Rizzo, “Translatlantic Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific,” Center for a New American Security, October 2016.
 Patrick M. Cronin, “4 Ways Trump Can Avoid a North Korea Disaster,” The Diplomat, December 13, 2016.
 Patrick M. Cronin and Marcel Angliviel de la Beaumelle, “How the Next US President Should Handle the South China Sea,” The Diplomat. May 2, 2016.
 “Foreign Assistance in Pakistan,” foreignassistance.gov
Rama Lakshmi, “India and U.S. Deepen Defense Ties with Landmark Agreement,” Washington Post, August 30, 2016.
 “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” everycrsreport.com, December 22, 2016.
 U.S. Department of State, “World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 2016,” December 2016.
 Bradley O. Babson, “After the Party Congress: What to Make of North Korea’s Commitment to Economic Development?” 38 North, May 19, 2016.Elizabeth Shim, “Kim Jong Un’s Economic Plan Targets Foreign Investment,” UPI, May 19, 2015.
 “The Six-Party Talks and the North Korean Nuclear Issue: Old Wine in New Bottles?” Hearing Before the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, October 6, 2005.
 “Libya Nuclear Chronology,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, February 2011.
 U.S. Department of State cable, “U/S Bolton’s July 10 Meeting with Libyan Officials, August 11, 2004.
 William Tobey, “A Message from Tripoli, Part 4: How Libya Gave Up its WMD,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 7, 2014.
 U.S. Embassy Tripoli cable, “Libya/UNSC: 1267, Iran and Kosovo, July 1, 2008.
 U.S. Embassy Tripoli cable, “Kosovo ICJ Resolution at UNGA — Libya,” October 6, 2008.
 “Libya Nuclear Chronology,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, February 2011.
 Tim Beal, “The Korean Peninsula within the Framework of US Global Hegemony,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, November 15, 2016.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang
China says it has protested to the US for putting Chinese companies and individuals on a new sanctions list targeting Iran.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday Beijing had “lodged representations” with Washington after Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on 25 people and entities on Friday for trade with Iran.
“We have consistently opposed any unilateral sanctions,” Lu told a regular press briefing in Beijing.
Unilateral US sanctions in the past have infuriated China. Last March, Beijing was outraged after the US government punished China’s largest telecom equipment maker ZTE Corps for alleged violations of sanctions on Iran.
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.”
The new US sanctions list includes two Chinese companies and three Chinese people. Those on the list cannot access the US financial system or deal with American companies.
They are subject to secondary sanctions, meaning foreign companies and individuals are prohibited from dealing with them or risk being blacklisted by the United States.
China has close economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran. Executives of two Chinese companies included on the list said they had only exported “normal” goods to Iran and didn’t consider they had done anything wrong.
Lu said such sanctions, particularly when they harmed the interests of a third party, were “not helpful” in promoting mutual trust.
China has said it is “seriously concerned” about President Donald Trump’s recent hawkish rhetoric on Beijing. Experts say the new administration’s moves are set to further strain relations between China and the US.
The first moves by the new US president, Donald Trump, have demonstrated that he is taking his campaign promises seriously and is working to fundamentally restructure the American economic system.
Changes that were seen immediately after Trump’s inauguration: the official White House website deleted its pages that formerly proclaimed support for sexual minorities and the fight against climate change, instead reaffirming its commitment to the goals of energy independence, increased economic growth, and bringing jobs back to the US.
An executive order was signed to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership. This presidential decision received the immediate and unqualified support of the biggest American labor unions – the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters – once considered Democratic strongholds and which had previously been wary of Trump. Geopolitics is giving way to geoeconomics.
On Jan. 24 Trump met with the heads of the three largest US automakers: General Motors; Ford; and Fiat Chrysler, urging them to expand production in the US rather than abroad. He warned that he would attempt to introduce a 35% import tariff on any company that moved its manufacturing overseas and then imported its products back into the US. But if they agreed to his demands, he promised «big league» regulatory and tax relief in order to give American companies an incentive not to move their plants abroad.
All of these actions are evidence of Trump’s determination to limit the expansion of the virtual economy and to begin the country’s reindustrialization. The transformations he has envisioned are so sweeping that it is more fitting to speak of a whole new stage of technological evolution, rather than merely a new approach. It appears that herein lies the root causes of the fierce resistance to Trump found among the ranks of the «global elite».
It would be an oversimplification to think that the new president is bent on taking America backward. His logic is the logic of a new industrialism, in which material production retains its innovative features, but produces tangible, rather than virtual assets. It is, in any case, a move away from a «bubble economy». According to Trump, the economy of a powerful country like the US should be deeply diversified, not one-dimensional as it has become.
There is currently quite a popular school of thought that claims that our society is at a particular stage of technological evolution (some consider this the «third», while others – the «fifth»), which is based on the development of digital technology. A transition to the next phase should be in the offing, which will be dominated by nano- and biotechnology. And the first to make the transition wins. The US has structured its development since the 1970s in accordance with this linear blueprint. It seemed attractive to focus on the high value-added information business, relegating dirty and labor-intensive manufacturing to other countries. The prevailing view – supported by the ideology of globalism – held that since IT-technology originated in the US, Americans would always call the shots.
This self-confidence has undermined the economic foundations of US power. The rest of the human race has risen to meet the Americans’ challenge successfully. A plurality of economic «poles» is appropriate for a politically multipolar world, but the fact that other economic «power centers» are banking on building more multifaceted economic systems is even more important.
Many years ago the US lost its position as a world leader in the production of material goods, and it survives mainly as a broker of financial and technological services, and also thanks to its virtual economy. Manufacturing and agriculture make up only 20% of US GDP – approximately $3.6 trillion out of $18 trillion. In China, those sectors are responsible for half of GDP, or $5.5 trillion out of $11 trillion. In this respect, the Chinese are already seriously outpacing the Americans – and that is according to the current exchange rate, without adjusting to take into account purchasing power parity, which would show that China is even further ahead of the US.
Liberal economists will say that in today’s economy, national wealth depends not so much on material output as on the development of the tertiary sector – the provision of services to final consumers or to other businesses, as well as the securing of patents, standards, etc. And this is true when speaking of the prosperity of the general public, but sovereign power is predicated upon quantities of material goods. And that low output affects, for example, export figures, and consequently – a nation’s ability to maintain an economic presence in the world. America’s total foreign-trade numbers now lag behind those of China, but even those indices are mainly based on imports – when it comes to exports the US is not even in second place. The EU exported $2.26 trillion worth of goods in 2014 (excluding intra-EU trade), China (in 2016) – $2.02 trillion (plus exports to Hong Kong – $0.49 trillion), and the US – $1.47 trillion. The global leader, which is only the third-largest exporter, is condemned to rely on military force to preserve its status, which is in turn detrimental to its ability to remain competitive.
There was an assumption that the decline in material production would be offset by the IT sector, but that is not happening. The Chinese company Lenovo became the global leader in PC sales in 2012, overtaking its biggest rival – America’s Hewlett-Packard. And in 2014, Lenovo took top honors for its sales of laptops as well. The world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment is also a Chinese company – Huawei, beating out the international giant Ericsson in 2012. And India is on its way to dominating the global software industry.
The emphasis on the virtual economy has also had unforeseen political consequences. For example, the concept of «soft power» is widely believed to be able to offset certain weakened or absent elements of a state’s traditional economic power. But conversely, the enthusiasm for «soft power» has evolved into an ideologization of foreign policy, replacing standard diplomatic tools with ubiquitous manipulation. As a result, US foreign policy is now faced with an even larger number of problems and conflicts. Paradoxically, despite its proclaimed «softness», Washington has increasingly been forced to resort to «hard» interventions abroad in order to maintain its global hegemony.
Trump’s answer to this appears quite reasonable. A country that is fully developed does not need additional proof of its power in the form of interventions. The rest of the world will recognize its real power and always take that into account. As international politics become less ideological, they will also become less prone to conflict.
But it is still too early to judge whether Trump is up to this task. Given the global dissemination of information technologies, it would hardly be possible, for example, to completely «reverse» financial globalization. Trump’s America needs partners, but they should not be chosen with the idea of «teaming up against someone», but with the goal of «teaming up for the sake of something». And there can be no question that Russia has its own interests and its own niche in that.
This file photo shows LGM-30 Minuteman nuclear missile being test fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
US intelligence agencies are working with the country’s military forces to update previous assessments about a possible nuclear attack against Russia and China.
Conducted by the Pentagon’s Strategic Command and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the study is trying to find out whether the Russian and Chinese leadership could survive a nuclear strike and keep operating, Stars and Stripes reported on Monday.
Championed by Republican Representative Michael Turner, the study drew bipartisan support in Congress and was passed before the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, who has expressed willingness to reshape ties with both China and Russia.
The findings of the study, which was one of the little-noticed provisions of the 2017 Pentagon budget, would provide a complete evaluation of Moscow and Beijing’s “leadership survivability, command and control and continuity of government programs” in case of an attack.
A US Air B-52 Stratofortress nuclear-capable bomber
The information is critical for the US Strategic Command, which is tasked with planning and carrying out such strikes.
The study is also aimed at finding “the location and description of above and underground facilities important to the political and military” leadership and the facilities that they use “to operate out of during crisis and wartime.”
Navy Captain Brook DeWalt, a spokesman for the Strategic Command, confirmed that the study was ongoing but said it was “premature” to release any details.
Trump says he would expand ties with Moscow and might even lift US sanctions against Russia if the country agrees to dramatically cut the size of its nuclear arsenal.
This is while the Republican head of state has also shown great interest in “rebuilding” the US military and upgrading the country’s vast nuclear arsenal.
“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he said in a tweet in December.
Unlike with Russia, the Trump administration has spared no effort in attacking China over a range of issues.
After talking to Taiwanese leaders and undermining the “One China” policy, the Trump administration further angered China by pledging to stop its “island-building” in the South China Sea.
The claim stirred much outrage, to the point that Chinese media said the only way Washington could achieve that objective was through war.
Washington has been planning a reported modernization of its nuclear weapons which is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars over 30 years.
IPPNW welcomes the statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping that “nuclear weapons … should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of them.” President Xi’s remarks, made during a speech on January 18 at the United Nations in Geneva, were consistent with China’s long-standing official support for nuclear disarmament, and come as the UN is preparing to convene negotiations on a new treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.
China gave a positive signal at the UN General Assembly last month, unlike its other P5 partners, when it abstained from, rather than voting against, a resolution authorizing negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The resolution was carried by a majority of over three to one. China can now show real leadership by declaring its intention to participate in the negotiating conference for the ban treaty opening this March, with the goal of making the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons an unequivocal international norm. By doing so, China would not only take an important practical step toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, it would also send a strong signal to the other eight nuclear-armed states that their objections to the negotiations and their criticisms of the treaty itself are misplaced, and that their massive reinvestments in nuclear warheads, delivery systems, and infrastructure are dangerous and contradictory to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The obligation to achieve that goal is spelled out in Article VI of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and the International Court of Justice has unanimously said that all States, whether or not they possess nuclear arms, have an obligation under international law to negotiate nuclear disarmament.
IPPNW urges China to act upon President Xi’s timely and important policy statement by sending a delegation to the opening session of the ban treaty negotiating conference in March, with clear instructions to participate in good faith and in cooperation with the non-nuclear-armed states leading this historic process.
BEIJING – China and Vietnam on Saturday issued a joint communique, pledging to manage maritime differences and safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea.
The communique was issued as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong paid a four-day official visit to China since Thursday.
China and Vietnam had “a candid exchange of views” on maritime issues, according to the communique.
Both countries pledged to seek basic and long-term solutions that both sides can accept via negotiation, and discuss transitional solutions that will not affect each other’s stance including the research of joint development, it said.
Both sides agreed to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea and strive for the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC) on the basis of consensus in the framework of the DOC, said the communique.
Both sides agreed to manage maritime differences and avoid any acts that may complicate the situation and escalate tensions so as to safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea, it said.
During Trong’s four-day visit, he met with five of the seven members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, including talks with General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping, and separate meetings with Premier Li Keqiang, top legislator Zhang Dejiang, top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng and top graft-buster Wang Qishan.
Yu and Trong also attended a grand reception marking the 67th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties as well as the upcoming Lunar New Year.
According to the communique, both sides believed that the visit was a great success that had further enhanced political mutual trust, consolidated traditional friendship, deepened strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and contributed to regional peace, stability and development.
The two countries agreed that it was of great importance and strategic guidance to bilateral ties that the high-level officials of both countries and parties, especially the top leaders of the two countries, maintain frequent contact, it said, calling for more exchanges and cooperation via bilateral mutual visits, sending envoys, hotlines, annual meeting and meetings at multilateral occasions.
Both sides also encouraged cooperation on economy and trade, defense, security and law enforcement, cultural, youth and local areas, the communique said.
Vietnam supports and will actively participate in a summit forum on the international cooperation along the Belt and Road to be hosted by China in 2017, said the communique.
Besides Beijing, Trong also paid a visit to east China’s Zhejiang Province, it said.
‘Groundless smear attempt’
Beijing has challenged Washington to explain its own global spying activities following US media reports alleging that China is using two Chinese hotels as spy centres, describing the reports as a “groundless” smear attempt.
On Wednesday, The Washington Times published an article where it alleged that the 4PLA, a unit attached to the Chinese Defence Ministry, used the Jintang and Seasons hotels in the capital Beijing to conduct espionage.
The publication cited an open-source intelligence dossier produced by the Army’s Asian Studies Detachment, as the source of its report. The document does not explain why and how the hotels were allegedly used by the Chinese for hacking.
On Friday the Ministry of National Defense vigorously denied that any hotels in the Haidian District of Beijing served as a base for any cyber-espionage operations.
“The Chinese military has never supported any hacking activities, and the Chinese government has always been firmly opposed to and cracking down on relevant criminal activities in accordance with law, including network attacks,” China’s Defence Ministry said.
“Relevant accusation is totally groundless and a bad act of smearing China,” the statement added, calling on Washington to stop making “groundless accusation against China.”
Instead of blaming China for spying, Beijing challenged Washington to “give a clear explanation on the Prism Gate incident, ” not just to China, but to the entire international community.
First revealed through the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013, PRISM is a code name of the NSA surveillance program used to gain access to the private communications of users of nine popular Internet services, including Verizon, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook.
The system grants NSA access to email, chat logs, VoIP traffic, files transfers, and other social networking data from companies. PRISM is just one of the numerous US spying tools and techniques exposed by Snowden.
Introduction: There are deep flaws in the blogs, media reports, and official statements, which purport to describe world historic events and changes.
These so-called ‘up-to-date’ reports of major world events undergo repeated revisions in hours, days or weeks as the story is being ‘played out’. What might start out as a ’scoop’ for the upwardly mobile journalist is transformed into a by-word for a ‘critical blogger’ rewriting mainstream reports by simply substituting negatives for pluses (or vice versa).
‘Immediacy’ trumps historical context and structural understanding. Protagonist or antagonists of the moment are demonized, slandered and scandalized, or lauded, praised and iconized.
The practice of deep falsification involves magnifying transient trivia and glossing over world-historic change. The false prophets substitute superficiality for deep understanding.
Soon after proclaiming a ‘major systemic transformation’, which fails to occur, a series of modifications or reversals take over, and the initial ‘great prophesy’ is forgotten – as if the readers of news were afflicted with an epidemic of dementia.
Most political parties, left, right and center, have their own unchanging warped world view to frame everyday minutiae.
For example, on the Left, it is the ‘imminent collapse of capitalism’ or the ‘perpetual stagnation of the capitalist state’, ‘the collapse of democracy’ or ‘the emergence of fascism’. In the absence of any real empirical or historical findings to support their hypotheses, they add escape clauses about ‘tendencies’.
The Center has its own historic narrative, which includes ‘threats from the Left and Right’, and the ‘dangers posed by populists to democratic values’. They cite the overwhelming responsibility to ‘defend Western values’ everywhere, from threats, past, present and future… and especially from independent nations, like Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran and other ‘emerging’ powers, as a pretext to escalate militarism and to bolster support for vassal states.
The Center repeatedly point to the ‘resilience of Western liberal democratic institutions’ even as police state edicts are dictated to counter dissenting voices, while false prophets predict that China’s robust economy is on the verge of collapse; that democratic Russia is an unstable autocracy; and that the Ukraine is an emerging democracy – while its ‘Right Sector’ and ‘Azov Battalions’ runs amok amidst a kleptocratic, neo-fascist regime.
The Right frames its world-historic ideology by stressing the need to (1) revive the Cold War to counter the US global decline; (2) confront the world-wide wave of ‘populism’ threatening ‘liberal’ democracies; (3) portray Brexit as a sign of the European Union’s collapse; (4) equate Trump’s victory with the rise of fascism in the US; (5) emphasize the ascent of bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism, based on the result of a single election ; (6) denounce Leftist ‘conspiracy’ writers who ‘falsely’ blame rising class inequalities to free-market monopolies; and (7) explain that cuts in social expenditures, tax cuts to big capital, increased work hours and decreased pensions are ultimately rewarding the masses.
These mega- narratives lead ‘prophetic academics’ to insist on their infallible insight into the future direction of the world economy, global politics and class relations.
False prophets maintain a veneer of authenticity, by presenting the future in unspecified, ambiguous, general and distant terms, to allow for any or all outcomes – like professional fortune tellers.
Academic and media prophets are enveloped in a mystique of expertise, which allows them to rehash yesterday’s news as deep strategic insights.
False Prophets: Trump
Contrary to the wailings of the Right, Center and Left, Donald Trump is not a fascist, or a nationalist or a populist. An objective assessment of his most recent policies and cabinet appointments show that he is a free-market politician with a propensity to appoint militarists to security positions.
Trump’s populist demagogy most closely resembles President Obama – although the appeal is to a different audience. Trump speaks to impoverished, displaced, skilled workers in the rust belt with campaign promises of a renaissance in manufacturing, upscale suburbanites, and downwardly mobile working women, while appointing billionaire bankers and global business executives to run the economy and set policy. Obama appealed to poor minorities, middle class urbanites and the same business elite.
Like Obama, Trump is an imperialist committed to protecting and projecting US global power. He differs from Obama in emphasis. Obama and his predecessors pursued a primarily military-driven imperialism while Trump will shift the emphasis to economic imperialism.
Trump’s ‘double discourse’, of talking to the masses during the campaign while working for the elite once in office, reflects a long-standing American Presidential tradition.
Editorial writers’ descriptions of Donald Trump lack historical and empirical depth.
Powerful systemic constraints define the rate and scope of any long-term, large-scale changes that Trump might propose. Trump can only introduce minor incremental changes in the behavior of the biggest banks and five hundred most powerful global multi-nationals. Trump might re-negotiate around the edges of some bilateral trade agreements, but he cannot convert the US into a closed self-sufficient economy.
Contrary to the ‘end of the world’ hysteria, promoted by the mass media, Trump has never made any pact with white racists and anti-Semites. There are no major Jewish organizations currently engaged in a struggle against Trump’s ‘fascist hordes’. The KKK is not preparing to burn Goldman Sachs. Since Trump’s election the stock market has jump over a thousand points. Like all of his predecessors from both parties, Trump appointed prominent Jews to key economic and policy positions, including Treasury Secretary. Many editorialists, who rely on selected excerpts of campaign rhetoric and gossip, have presented an unrealistic picture of the trajectory of the US state and economy.
False Prophets: China
The US prophets and self-described ‘experts’ describe China in inflated terms of either its impending doom or its relentless drive toward world supremacy. They rely on the minutiae of the moment or distorted extrapolations, uncertainties and contingent systemic changes. Rigorous analytical accounts are in short supply.
China, according to the free-market financial prophets of doom, suffers from a declining growth rate, shrinking work force, massive capital flight, deep-seated corruption and an impending intra-elite war. According to the prophets of doom, this sets the stage for an economic collapse and a military confrontation with the US empire.
Many of these pronouncements are easily dismissed. For the last 30 years, China’s economy has exceeded 6% and it is steadily developing its high technological work force and scientific innovations. China’s emphasis is on diversifying its production and consumption to domestic and overseas markets. The challenge of its aging work force is met by the increasing development of robotics and computerized productive systems.
China has applied capital controls and limits on capital flight. The national campaign against corruption and speculation in real estate has led to the arrest of over 200,000 officials and executives for fraud, bribery and money laundering via overseas banks.
In other words, the false prophets, parading about as ‘China experts’, have consistently made nonsensical predictions of doom and collapse. Faced with factual refutations, they merely repeat and recycle their prophecies by projecting longer time frames, up to infinity, for the coming of the inevitable catastrophe.
On the other hand, some progressive writers peddle prophesies of China’s endless progress predicting its inevitable emergence as a supreme global power. They convert China’s 30-year pattern of economic growth into a formula guaranteeing ‘harmonious development’, which they claim is based on China’s correct handling of emerging challenges and contradictions. Their predictions of stable future growth assume ever-expanding markets while ignoring the threat of military confrontations with rival imperial powers.
China’s prophets of global power ignore contingencies: Skilled and innovative workers, who are necessary for economic growth, have their own vision of the social structure in which they play a leading role in advancing society.
While robots can substitute for human labor power, it is worker knowledge and initiative that design, produce and adjust the robotic manufacturing system.
Harmony, free markets and mutually beneficial trade alliances are relations that are always changing; only interests remain constant. As China moves from investing in commodities to manufacturing and technology, customers can turn into competitors.
As China emerges as a global power, the outflow of capital and arms and technology increases, and the risks of global rivalry and domestic instability, challenging the Chinese ruling class likewise increase.
Prophecies or predictions depend on (1) the stability of incremental changes in the structure of power; (2) the uncertainty of elite outcomes in world markets and (3) the volatility of domestic class relations.
False Prophets: Latin America
Latin America is almost universally regarded as unstable – a region, where revolutions and counter-revolutions alternate, and electoral regimes rise and fall among neo-liberal, populist and nationalist leaders.
The long-term reality is actually quite different. Latin America has been one of global capitalism’s most stable regions. With few exceptions, property-ownership has remained stable for decades, with entrenched oligarchical elite families enjoying wealth, multiple-luxury properties throughout the world and their own perpetuation.
Electoral regimes may frequently change but the underlying state structures endure for decades. Bureaucratic, military and financial institutions set the margins of change. Neo-liberal, post-neo-liberal and anti-neo-liberal policies come and go, but large-scale mining, export agricultural and banking structures ultimately set the conditions for the growth of economies and demise of governments.
There is a tendency for some academic prophets and writers to use metaphors from astronomy and geology to divide the world. They describe a ‘world-system’ composed of ‘a core, a semi-periphery and a periphery’. Adding and subtracting, multiplying and dividing quantities of productive resources, the false prophets solemnly predict how the entire world system will function ‘ad infinitum’.
While data, derived from observations in space, provide scientists with insights into the movements of distant galaxies and the fate of planets, extrapolation to socio-economic and political ‘bodies’ is risky.
On the real planet Earth, the so-called ‘periphery’ of the ‘world system’ subsumes countries, economies, social structures, states and inter-state relations with entirely distinct composition, behavior and histories. Cuba, a ‘peripheral state’, differs in every respect from Haiti, Guatemala and scores of other likewise categorized nations. And among the ‘core’ countries, the US invades, occupies and plunders dozens of countries every decade, while China engages in ‘trade’. Iran, among the ’semi-peripherals’, has not invaded any neighbor for two centuries, while Israel, a fellow ‘semi-peripheral’, has ravaged a dozen countries in the past 50 years.
False Prophets: Russia
Western prophets on the right and left predicted that the break-up of the USSR would augur a period of harmony, democracy and widespread prosperity. The true believers claimed ‘anything was better than Stalinism’ while ignoring the fact that Stalin was dead for a half-century.
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev oversaw the transformation of the USSR’s allied nations into pillaged satellites of the Western imperial powers. He blindly accepted US Presidents Bush and Ronald Reagan’s promises that the US would not expand NATO and would not transform the newly emerging post-Soviet nations into military bases. What emerged was a crippled and encircled Russia, which had been converted into a Beggar-State of oligarchs and swindlers who seized over a trillion dollars of public property, wealth, land and resources in less than ten years. Gangsters murdered their way into public office through US-manipulated sham elections, celebrated by the Western press. Living standards for millions of post-Soviet citizens collapsed, resulting in the greatest decline of life expectancy, health, culture, science and education in peacetime history.
Contrary to the predictions of Western prophets Russia rebuilt its state and economy. The new political leadership, headed by Vladimir Putin, replaced the dipsomaniac puppet President and mobsters favored by Washington. Living and health standards have vastly improved; production, agriculture, exports, national security, science and culture have recovered.
The angry false prophets, then promoted a new pseudo-scientific assertion that the re-emergence of the Russian state and its recovering economy led inexorably to autocratic rule by a former KGB official, who violated ‘Western values’ by…. jailing swindler billionaires and self-made oil mobsters and re-appropriating vital national assets.
Western editorialists ceaselessly denounce the popularly elected President Putin for his crime… of refuting the bankruptcy of their prophecies.
Despite reams of reports by the ‘experts’, despite their wide circulation in the mass media and their citations by top Western officials, the Russian state and economy, just like the Chinese, are not on the verge of collapse nor are they declining or facing popular revolts.
False Prophets: The Left
The shallow, self-serving Left prophets of progressive governments in Latin America, as well as admirers of Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China, fail to recognize the structural, historical and class constraints that determine and limit policies.
First and foremost, they fail to recognize the socio-economic continuities within these states. In all three regions, elites and oligarchs continue to control the commanding heights of the economies, despite occasional expropriations and sporadic reforms.
Secondly, even the most ‘progressive’ regimes rely on Western markets and investors limiting their long-term growth.
Thirdly, the long-term dependence on extractive exports, global demand and fragile mono-culture economies weakens the long-term stability of Russia and Latin America.
The absence of a socialist democratic alternative to the brutal capitalist restoration in China undermines the optimistic perspective of progressive prophets.
The debate among experts, regarding the rise or decline of the Imperial West or the progressive forces in China, Russia and Latin America, fails to consider their ‘hidden resources and liabilities’. These include the untapped scientific discoveries, the failure to develop alternative resources and innovations, as well as the ongoing repression of skilled workers. The Western prophets underestimate how the reliance on the paper economy has squandered immense social and productive value.
The ongoing cultural deformations, perversions and falsifications of information and analysis at the behest of established power centers, has clouded any real understanding of everyday life and greatly reduced our chances for a future without barbaric wars and social exploitation.
Culture is an everyday phenomenon determining how economies and states, rulers and ruled see the world, exercise power or are forced to submit.
We have witnessed the spread of cultural squalor into language and life, with only an occasional respite, when people overcome their everyday stupor and create a momentary burst of creative political, economic, social and cultural energy, which can lead to transformations.
Humdrum incremental changes, left and right, and the reality of continuities, limit and ultimately reverse social reforms and corrupt language to serve the ruling powers. We must move forward against the flatulence of everyday life by rejecting the false prophets and by writing, speaking and acting against crackpot sages. Our progress toward a new order must be firmly rooted in our everyday struggles writ large.
We are fast approaching an era when humanity will be subjugated by a technological tyranny managed by an untouchable organization of elites, bureaucrats and paid public minders hired to monitor our behaviors, emotions and thoughts. In an environment like this, law and justice will be meaningless, as the tools of a technocracy can be used to enforce the policies and whims of whoever monitors us, whether it be corporate employees, criminals, or abusive state actors.
Recent developments and roll-outs of advanced facial recognition technology are a hint of the coming ubiquity in using biometric, face-scanning, emotion-reading, all-seeing technology to govern every detail of daily life. Consider the following developments:
- It was recently reported that around half of Americans are already in police facial recognition databases, the vast majority having never been even accused of committing a crime or consenting to being included in the database. [Source]
- Increasingly, facial recognition is being used to scan concert and festival goers creating permanent databases of partiers. [Source]
- An experimental town in China is now using facial recognition to grant citizens entry. [Source]
- Facial recognition is now capable of reading human emotions, opening the door to a new world of possibility in pre-crime detection. [Source]
The TSA is using emotion reading facial recognition technology to determine if a traveler is to be treated as a threat. [Source]
- Police nationwide are using the controversial Stingray system which allows them to listen to anyone’s cell phone conversations. [Source]
- California police are already using a computer system called ‘Beware’ to predict crime and preemptively stop it. [Source]
- Microsoft recently conducted a major test during the 2016 Republican and Democratic conventions, using emotion reading facial recognition technology to survey the crowd for threats. [Source]
- A Russian software developer has released an App that allows you to turn your smart phone into a facial recognition device. [Source]
- Some U.S. churches are using a consumer version of facial recognition to keep tabs on who is in attendance for Sunday service. [Source]
- Facial recognition, finger-print reading, and iris scanning is now being included in consumer technologies. [Source]
The justification for using this technology against a public who is never given the opportunity to consent or to op-out is, as always, public safety, as police and government agencies claim the technology is needed to spot criminal elements, gang members and other threats to the public. Here, a quote from George Orwell offers a glimpse of what the inevitable outcome of this is:
It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself—anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: FACECRIME, it was called. – 1984, George Orwell
Here, RT discusses how Microsoft used emotion reading facial recognition technology at political conventions and how some are resisting the way this technology is being introduced into our society.
Privacy and anonymity are the enemies of the state, and it is being destroyed without our consent by both government and corporations who are deploying technology with no consideration of the human consequences. The possibilities for a techno-totalitarian future are grim, but without awareness and without motivation to resist, it is all but a forgone conclusion.
Orwell himself warned us of how this dark vision would force itself into fruition unless we stood against it. At the end of his life he even gave us this final warning. Are you listening?
China may scale down plans for nuclear power because of slowing demand for electricity and construction setbacks
For China’s nuclear industry, 2016 has been a frustrating year. So far, construction has started on only one new plant, and its target of bringing 58 gigawatts of nuclear capacity in service by 2020 seems impossible to meet.
At present, China has 19.3 gigawatts of nuclear supply under construction and a further 31.4 gigawatts already in service. Given that new plants take five years or more to build, the country faces a shortfall of more than seven gigawatts on its target.
All the plants started between 2008 and 2010 are online except for six imported reactors. These include four AP1000 reactors designed by Westinghouse, based in the USA but owned by Toshiba of Japan; and two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR), developed by Areva, a French multinational group specialising in nuclear power.
The plants are not expected to be completed before 2017 and all will be at least three years late, an unprecedented delay in China’s nuclear history. It would be surprising if China was not disillusioned with its suppliers and their technologies.
The EPR and AP1000 reactors have been problematic to build. The two EPRs are 3-4 years late although there is little available information detailing why. Meanwhile, EPR plants in Finland and France, which should have been completed in 2009 and 2012, respectively, will not be online before 2018.
There are no obvious problems that account for the majority of the delays at any of the sites, just a series of quality and planning issues that suggest the complexity of the design makes it difficult to build.
The four AP1000s are also running 3-4 years late. They are being built by China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC), which has not built reactors before. There is some publicly available information about the problems suffered in China with the AP1000s, including continual design changes by Westinghouse. The reactor coolant pumps and the squib valves, which are essential to prevent accidents, have been particularly problematic, for example.
Still, China is expected to be the first country to complete construction of AP1000 and EPR designs, a scenario it did not expect or want. The government is required to develop and demonstrate test procedures for bringing the plants into service, which could take up to a year. These test procedures are developed by vendors and generally standardised although national safety regulators must approve them and can add specific requirements.
In 2014, a senior official at China’s nuclear safety regulator, the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) complained that only a small number of test procedures had been developed for the AP1000, and no acceptance criteria had been submitted for review. He said the same issues affect the EPR.
China will likely be reluctant to commit to further AP1000s (and the CAP1400, a Chinese design modified from the AP1000) until the first of the Westinghouse designs is in service, passes its acceptance tests, and demonstrates safe, reliable operation. There are no plans to build additional EPR reactors.
In fact, state-owned China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) opted instead to develop medium-sized reactors (1000 megawatts), the ACP1000 and the ACPR1000, respectively, based on Areva’s much older M310 design rather than the EPR.
The slowdown in electricity demand growth at home has left China with surplus power-generating capacity. Nuclear is now competing against coal plants supplied with cheap fuel. Furthermore, nuclear has a lower priority for dispatch in winter than combined heat and power plants, which warm homes and factories and typically burn coal and gas.
In 2015, nuclear power accounted for only 3% of China’s electricity and at any plausible rate of building nuclear plants, it is unlikely that nuclear would achieve more than 10% of China’s electricity supply.
This year, one reactor (Hongyanhe 3) in Liaoning, operated for only 987 hours in the first quarter of 2016, just 45% of its availability, while reactors in Fujian (Fuqing) and Hainan (Changjiang) were shut down temporarily.
Another challenge is the strain placed on China’s nuclear regulators in the face of such an ambitious target. The NNSA is under particular pressure to oversee the operation of 36 plants and the construction of 20 plants, as well as being the first regulatory authority to review six new designs. Not even the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which monitored standards during the huge build out of the industry in the 1960s and 1970s, has faced such a workload.
Safety authorities are usually reluctant to appear critical of their international peers but in 2014, a senior French safety regulator described NNSA as “overwhelmed”, and claimed that the storage of components was “not at an adequate level”. A senior official from SNPTC said in 2015: “Our fatal weakness is our management standards are not high enough.” To build up the capabilities to support such a large construction programme a pause in ordering new plants and equipment may be necessary.
The 58GW target of nuclear capacity in service by 2020 is not achievable and, like nuclear capacity targets in the past in China and elsewhere, it will be quietly revised down. The challenge for the Chinese nuclear industry is to do what no other nuclear industry worldwide has been able to do; to bring the cost of nuclear generation down to levels at which it can compete with other forms of generation, particularly renewables.
If it is unable to do this, China cannot afford to carry on ordering nuclear plants and nuclear will retain a small proportion of the electricity mix.
This leaves China’s nuclear export drive in a precarious position. Since 2013, China has turned its attention to nuclear export markets, offering apparently strong advantages over its competitors. The Chinese government can call on all the resources of China to offer a package of equipment, construction expertise, finance and training that none of its rivals, even Russia, can match.
Unlike its competitors, it also has a huge amount of recent construction experience allowing it to supply cheap, good quality equipment. Its attempt to build reactors in the UK is an important element to this strategy; convincing an experienced user of nuclear power that a Chinese plant is worth investing in is a strong endorsement of their technology.
Despite these advantages China has had little export success so far. In part, this is because there are fewer markets open to new nuclear. Such markets are typically found in developing countries where the financial risks are greater, and where governments have tried and failed to launch nuclear power programmes themselves.
It seems clear there is a political element to the Chinese nuclear export strategy, which is to gain influence and leverage in the importing countries. However, if the world nuclear market does not pick up soon, the Chinese government may decide to put its formidable resources behind other technologies that would develop influence with less economic risk. If China’s nuclear home market is not flourishing, this decision will be much easier.
Malaysia is another old time America’s ally to shift away from the US orbit following the Philippines. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visited China on October 31-November 6 to sign 14 agreements totaling 143.64 billion ringgit ($34.25 billion), including a defence deal. Malaysia agreed to buy four Chinese littoral combat ships. Two will be built in China and two in Malaysia.
The rapprochement has taken place despite the differences over the South China Sea territorial disputes. During the visit, both countries pledged closer cooperation to handle the problem bilaterally to counter US influence in the region.
Najib Razak said Malaysia welcomed the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which marks a turning point «of peaceful dialogue, not foreign intervention, in sovereign states». Global institutions needed to be inclusive of «countries that were given no say in the legal and security infrastructure that was set up by the victors of the Second World War», he noted.
China has increasingly invested in Malaysia and is implementing major infrastructure and other projects in the country. Chinese companies are widely expected to win a planned $15bn high-speed rail project linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore – a new rail line on Malaysia’s east coast. With the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in jeopardy, the US seems to have little leverage over Malaysian foreign policy.
The trip marks another potential setback for US Asia «pivot» policy. The event took place against the background of worsening relations between the US and the Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made statements about his intent to break the military alliance with the United States and shift to the partnership with China and Russia. He had visited Beijing to defy America just two weeks before Mr. Razak’s trip.
Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia politics analyst, said, «This is the new regional norm. Now China is implementing the power and the US is in retreat», adding Washington’s Asia «pivot» was «dead in the water».
Russia-Malaysia relations are also on the rise. In 2017 the two countries will mark the 50th anniversary since the diplomatic ties were established in 1967.
In May, the Malaysian PM visited Sochi, Russia, leading a delegation to the ASEAN-Russia Commemorative Summit. Back then, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, «We will be pleased to develop relations in the humanitarian sphere, in the economy, investments and of course in the military sphere, or in the sphere of military-technical cooperation».
The Russia-produced Sukhoi Su-30MKM is the most advanced fighter in the inventory of the Royal Malaysian Air Force. The contract to deliver 18 jets was signed in 2003 during the Russian president’s official visit to Malaysia. The purchase of Su-34 and Su-35 Russian jets is on the agenda.
Malaysian Defense Minister Hishamuddin Hussein believes his country should «look to the future, to a new era of military-technical cooperation with Russia». Russia took part in the 15th Defense Services Asia Exhibition and Conference on April 18-21, 2016, in Kuala Lumpur to demonstrate the Mi-171Sh helicopter, the T-90MS tank, the BTR-82A armored vehicle, and the Pantsir-S1 air defense system.
Malaysia will explore the possibility of signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
There are other facts to prove the fact that the US loses its clout in the Asia Pacific region. Japanese banks and development institutions may offer loans to Russian regional banks. Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko told TASS in an interview.
It was also reported that the government-backed Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will provide about 4 billion yen ($38.5 million) in financing to Sberbank of Russia, in open defiance of Western sanctions. The US and the European Union have effectively banned lending to certain Russian companies and financial institutions, including Sberbank, as part of sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014. The announcement comes before the President Putin’s visit to Japan in December.
The JBIC also plans to make investments into the Yamal LNG gas project. The JBIC is likely to set up a special fund to invest in Russian projects together with the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
The economic cooperation with Russia definitely threatens the Group of Seven’s united front on sanctions. The move will most certainly provoke Washington’s anger but Tokyo finds the development of ties with Russia important enough to risk it. The US influence in the region is not strong enough to prevent Japan from pursuing its national interests.
With the Philippines and Malaysia shifting away from US orbit, Washington is finding itself with increasingly fewer allies in the region. The Asia Pacific «pivot» appears to be another foreign policy failure in addition to the Middle Eastern debacle. In addition, the US faces a major setback as Europe rejects the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
America is a global power in retreat. A new US president will have to face this reality. The events in the Asia Pacific region provide a good example to support this obvious fact. In a very short period of time the US has lost two major allies in the region. Japan defies the anti-Russia sanctions regime. The American century seems to be fading away as other poles of power emerge on the world map.
Seven is a winning throw of the dice. But in our civil society, seven now signifies the multi-thong scourge, the whip used by the Western world as its instrument of punishment and, in response; seven signifies Nemesis and her sisters, the inescapable agents of the West’s downfall.
The seven scourges of the Western world are used against the people of Asia, Africa, Latin and North America. These whips are constructed, wielded and unleashed especially by the US and the UK.
The seven sisters of Nemesis, the Erinyes, are the Furies who pursue the injustices committed by the Western world against Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe. Those holding the scourge detest and fear Nemesis and the Furies, but are incapable of destroying them. Try as they might, their whip is in corrupt and feeble hands and, of course, it can only follow their orders: Otherwise, it just twitches and remains immobile, while Nemesis pursues the scourgers of humanity.
The Seven-Tailed Scourge of the Western World
The ‘whip’ wielded by the Western world, is used to punish disobedient, ‘rebellious’ people, movements and states. Their multiple lashes have bloodied countless generations and buried millions.
The seven scourges against humanity are unrepentant in their promotion of ‘Western values’ – visible to the terrified world on the red raw backs of oppressed people, their wounds flayed open by the faceless drones proclaiming their gifts of freedom and democracy.
Let us go forward now and describe the pillars holding up the Western empire, the seven-tailed scourge of humanity.
1. Mexico: The Cartel, the Narco-State, US Bankers and Death Squads
Over the last two decades, over a quarter million Mexicans have been murdered by the joint forces of the drug cartels, the Mexican State and its death squads, presided over by the US state and backed by its rapacious financial sector. Cartels and complicit Mexican officials prosper because US banks launder their narco-dollars by the billions. On their part, US corporations grow even richer by relocating their plants to Mexico where terrorized workers can be exploited for 1/5 the cost. Amidst the terror and exploitation, over 11 million Mexican workers and family members have fled to the US running from their local scourges, only to confront the US scourge of deportation. Over 2 million have been imprisoned and expelled under Obama.
2. Honduras and Guatemala: Imperial Wars, Drug Gangs and Narco-Oligarchs
Destitution and state terror are direct products of US–installed regimes in Honduras and Guatemala. Guatemala’s indigenous majority was ravaged by US and Israeli-trained military battalions and death squads. In their wake, scores of narco-gangs, sponsored by local oligarchs and their own private death squads, have emerged. The Honduran people attempted to elect an enlightened liberal President, and were ‘rewarded’ for their peaceful democratic election with a military coup orchestrated by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. They further underscore the lesson of ‘Western values’: Scores of human rights activists and peasant leaders have been murdered and the scourges continue unabated.
3. Colombia: Nobel Prize for Death Squad President
For the past fifteen years, (2001-2016), the Clinton-Bush-Obama regimes launched the seven-billion-dollar ‘Plan Colombia’ terror campaign against the Colombian people. This scourge was so powerful that over two and a half million peasants, Indigenous peoples, and Afro-Colombians have been driven from their homes and villages while, tens of thousands of peasants, trade unionists, human rights activists and civic leaders have been killed. The notorious narco-President Alvaro Uribe and his Vice President Santos worked with the death squads and the Colombian military under the instruction of over one thousand US military advisers and contract mercenaries as they imposed a scorched earth policy – to consolidate a ‘reign of Western values’.
In Colombia, the three-tailed scourge of narco-presidents, death squads and the military decimated rural communities throughout that large and populous nation. They finally induced the FARC guerrillas to submit to a ‘peace’ agreement, which perpetuated the oligarchy. The US remains free to exploit Colombia for its military bases against the rest of Latin America, while foreign corporations exploit its mineral riches. For his part in promoting the ‘peace of the dead’, Colombian President Santos received the Nobel ‘Peace’ Prize.
4. Saudi Arabia: A Household Name Among the Middle East Scourges
No country in the Middle East has financed, organized and directed terrorism in the Middle East, South Asia, North and East Africa, the former Soviet Union and even North America, more than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It currently scourges the tiny nation of Yemen. Using its ISIS mercenaries, backed by jets, missiles, and logistical support from the UK and the USA, the Saudi despots have invaded maimed and murdered tens of thousands of Yemenis, while hundreds of thousands face starvation in a Saudi-imposed blockade.
The Saudi billionaire regime bankrolled thousands of terrorists in Syria and Iraq, giving billions of dollars of business to US and UK arms manufacturers. Saudi monarchs and their extended clans form a parasitic rentier regime unique in the world. They rely on the skills and labor of imported professionals, workers, household servants, mercenary solders, financial managers and even their praetorian guards. They confine their women behind the veil and closed doors, under the absolute rule of male relatives. They chop off the hands, feet and heads of foreign workers and their own citizens for minor offenses, including ‘blasphemy’, criticism of the king or resisting an employer’s abuse. Saudi Arabia, which is totally dependent on Washington’s protection, has become a scourge especially against Muslim people throughout the Middle East and beyond.
5. Israel: The Scourge of Palestine and Free People Near and Far
The Israeli State is the head commanding the tentacles of a far-reaching Zionist Power Configuration operating in the US, Canada, England, France and, to a less degree, in satellite states and institutions. Israel was established on the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinians from their homes and villages since 1948. For almost 50 years, 600,000 ‘Israeli’ Jews (immigrants given automatic ‘citizenship’ and stolen property based solely on their ‘ethno-religious’ identity) have illegally moved into what remained of historical Palestine, building exclusive ‘Jews-only’ colonial towns on land ripped from its original inhabitants. The Palestinians are herded into apartheid militarized enclaves and squalid camps. Israel invaded and devastated large parts of Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. They have bombed other nations, like Jordan and Iraq, with impunity. The Israeli state uses a virtual fifth column of loyalist organizations and billionaire financiers in the US and EU who ultimately dictate Middle East policy to the ‘elected’ Western politicians. Presidents and Prime Ministers, Cabinet members and legislators must publicly bow to the increasing demands of the overseas Zionist power structure. This has undermined the will and interests of national electorates and democratic procedures. All public discourse on this vital issue has been censored because critics of Israel’s influence are subjected to unremitting campaigns of overt coercion, threats, jailing on trumped up charges, vilification and job loss – within their own countries in the ‘democratic’ West. Meanwhile, Israel has sold its much-vaunted expertise in surveillance, torture and counter-insurgency to its fellow scourgers in Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico and even Afghanistan.
6. Egypt: Modern Scourges of an Ancient People
For decades, Egyptian military dictators have served the Anglo-American Empire and Israel’s ruling colonists in the Middle East, North and East Africa. Generals-turned-‘Presidents’ Hosni Mubarak and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi specialized in murdering, torturing and jailing thousands of Egyptian trade unionists, dissident activists, peasant leaders and the restless urban poor. These violently installed Egyptian rulers are expected to collaborate with Israel and trap millions of desperate Palestinians in the world’s largest open air prison: Gaza. Cairo actively collaborates with the US and Israel in subverting the people and institutions of Gaza, Libya, Somalia and Sudan – guaranteeing that none will be functioning, independent modern states. Egypt’s first and only elected president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by General Sisi and sentenced to twenty years in a military torture dungeon (a virtual death sentence for a 65 year old) by a kangaroo court under the direction of Washington and Tel Aviv. Egypt, once the epicenter for civil democratic expression — ‘the Arab Spring’ — has become the a major staging area for US-backed jihadi terrorists entering Syria.
7. ISIS, NUSRA Front, Ukraine and Syria: Puppets, Kleptocrats, Fascists and Terrorists
In this very modern Western world, where democratic values are sold to the cheapest buyer, the US, the UK and the EU shop for mercenaries and puppet regimes in order to scourge their critics and adversaries.
The West, led by the Grand Scourger Hillary Clinton, bombed Libya and destroyed its entire modern state apparatus. They opened the floodgates to thousands of mercenaries and terrorist-thugs of all colors and stripes to feed off the carcass of what Mouammar Gaddafi and the modern Libyan state had built over the past 40 years. These criminals, draped in the banners of ‘humanitarian intervention’ or ‘mission civilisatice’, ran amok, killing and ravaging tens of thousands of Libyan citizens and contract workers of sub-Saharan African origin. The tens of thousands of Africans desperately fleeing each year into the Mediterranean are the result of this Western rampage against the Libyan state. The jihadis have moved on… by those who forgot to distinguish between terrorists who support our ‘democratic values’ and those who would attack the West. The West can’t be blamed: Mercenaries change sides so often.
The ethnic cleansing scourges of the past returned to the Ukraine: as (neo) fascists took power in Kiev, storming the Parliament and forcing the President to flee. Nazi-era banners decorated the streets of Kiev under the approving gaze of the US State Department. Neo-Nazi thugs massacred scores of unarmed ethnic Russian citizens in the port city of Odessa when they set fire to the main trade union hall where the trapped men, women and youths were burned alive or bludgeoned while fleeing the flames. The US State Department had spent $5 billion dollars to replace an elected government with a pliant regime in Kiev while large parts of the country fell into civil war. The ethnic Russian populations of the industrialized Donbas region resisted and were invaded by an ethnically cleansed and neo-fascist putschist Ukrainian army – under US-EU supervision. The war has cost tens of thousands of lives, a million refugees fled to Russia and a divided failing state now festers in the heart of Europe. Kleptocrats and Fascists in Kiev oversee an utterly bankrupt economy. The destitute citizens abandon the towns and cities; some fleeing to Poland to pick potatoes as their serf ancestors did a century ago.
Syria has been ravaged by an immense army of mercenary scourges, financed and supplied by the US, EU, Turkey and, of course, Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda had merely to change its battle flags to NUSRA and receive the US benediction as ‘moderate pro-Western democrats’ resisting a Baathist dictatorship in Damascus. In the course of their ‘democratic’ mission they destroyed the ancient, critical cultural and economic center of Aleppo – scourging the Christians and non-jihadi Muslims and other ancient minorities. Over two million Syrians have died or fled the fiery scourge of Anglo-American and Saudi-Turkish terror.
The Seven Sisters: Nemesis and the Furies Confront the Western World
The scourges are falling on hard times: East and West, North and South they face their inescapable Nemesis. Their exposed injustices, crimes and grotesque failures herald their inevitable downfall. The seven furies are even emerging in unusual places:
1. The economic and trade power of China challenges the West throughout world, expanding even into the heartland of the empire. The West’s fear over China’s peaceful economic expansion has led Western political leaders to revive protectionist policies, claiming that barriers against Chinese investors must be raised to prevent takeovers by Beijing. From July 2015 to September 2016, the West blocked nearly $40 billion in productive Chinese investment. This comes after decades of preaching the virtues of foreign investment and the universal benefits of ‘globalization’. Suddenly Western leaders claim that Chinese investment is a ‘threat to national security’ and ‘profits Chinese businesses over Western-owned enterprises.’
Meanwhile, far from this Sino-phobic hysteria, the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America actively seek greater economic ties with China to the detriment of US-EU multinationals. Once servile Asian countries, like the Philippines, have declared unfettered US access to frontline imperial military bases in doubt, as they sign favorable multi-billion trade and investment agreements with China. Western imperial ideology about investment and globalization has boomeranged and met its Nemesis.
2. The Russian Furies: Vladimir Putin
During the 1990s, the US plundered Russia at will. Washington imposed a uni-polar world, celebrated as the New World Order. They bombed and devastated former Russian allies like Yugoslavia and Iraq, setting up ethnically cleansed rump states like Kosovo for their huge military bases. Meanwhile, Washington reduced Russia, under the inebriate Yeltsin regime, to a backwater vassal stripped of its resources, its institutions, scientists, and research centers. In the absence of war, the Russian economy declined by 50% and life expectancy fell below that of Bangladesh. The US celebrated this ‘victory of democracy’ over a helpless, deteriorating state by welcoming the most obscene new gangster oligarchs and pillagers and laundering their bloodstained loot.
The door slammed shut on the pillage with the election of Vladimir Putin and the demise of the Yeltsin gangster-government. Russia was transformed. Putin reversed Russia’s demise: the economy recovered, living standards rose abruptly, employment in all sectors increased, and cultural, educational and scientific centers were restored. Vladimir Putin was elected and re-elected by overwhelming majorities of the Russian electorate despite huge sums of Western money going to his opponents. Russia systematically recovered many strategic sectors of the economy illegally seized by Western-backed Israeli-Russian oligarchs Even more important, Putin restored Russian statecraft and diplomacy – formulating a strategy for an independent, democratic foreign policy and restoring Russia’s defense capability. The loss of this critical vassal state under its dipsomaniacal Boris Yeltsin shook the US EU-NATO alliance to its very core.
In the beginning President Putin did not oppose the US-NATO military invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It went along with the economic sanctions imposed on Iran. It even maintained its cooperation despite a US-sponsored attack by the government of Georgia against South Ossetia killing scores of Russian peacekeepers. In the wake of those destabilizing disasters, what finally led the Russian government to reverse its complicity with the West was the horrific US-financed invasion of Syria where Russian jihadis from the Caucasus were playing an important role as mercenaries, threatening to return and undermine the stability of Russia. This was quickly followed by the US-sponsored putsch in Ukraine, fomenting a civil war on Russia’s frontiers, threatening is vital naval base in Crimea and repressing millions of ethnic Russian-Ukrainian citizens in the industrialized Donbas region. This blatant aggression finally pushed Putin to challenge the expansionist policies of Washington and the EU.
Putin backed a plebiscite in Crimea and won when its citizens voted overwhelmingly to re-join and preserve the Russian bases. Putin has backed the rebel defense of the Donbas against a NATO-neo-fascist Kiev invasion.
Putin accepted a request for aid from the Syrian government as it battled mercenaries and jihadis to preserve its national integrity. The Russians sent arms, troops and air support for the Syrian Arab Army, rolling back the Western and Saudi armed terrorists.
In response to the Washington-EU economic sanctions against Russia over the Crimean plebiscite, Putin signed multi-billion-dollar trade and investment agreements and joint defense pacts with China – mitigating the impact of the sanctions.
Wherever Washington seeks to seize and control territory and regimes in Eurasia, it now faces the Putin nemesis. In Russia and overseas, in the Middle East and the Caucuses, in the Persian Gulf and Asia, the US meets stalemates at best, and roll-back at worst.
The CIA-stooge Yeltsin and his cronies were evicted from the Kremlin to the indignation of Washington and the EU. Many of the kleptocrats, politicos, thugs and swindlers fled to their new homes in Langley, on Wall Street, in Washington or set up talk-shops at Harvard. Even the gruesome Chechens had their ‘color-coded’ support center (the CIA-American Committee for Peace in Chechnya) based in Boston. Never in modern history has a country so rapidly transformed from degraded vassalage to a dynamic global power as Russia. Never has the US seen its grand imperial design so successfully challenged in so many places at the same time.
The Putin Nemesis has become the inescapable agent of the downfall of the US Empire.
3. The Islamic Republic of Iran became a Muslim-nationalist alternative to the US-Israeli dominated Muslim dictatorships and monarchies in the Middle East. The Iranian Revolutions inspired citizens throughout Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq and Yemen. As a result of its growing influence, Iran was punished by the US and EU with crippling economic sanctions pushed especially by Tel Aviv and its Western agents. Fearful that Iran’s example would destabilize its control, the US invaded Lebanon, promoted the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon and has backed the terrorist campaign to dismember Syria. The results have been dismal for Washington: Iran continues to support the powerful Hezbollah, a major political and military power in Lebanon. The Saudi’s war against Yemen is largely an ethno-religious campaign to destroy Yeminis who favor independence over Saudi-US control and have Iran’s support. Iraq’s Shia resistance forces are leading the attack against the Saudi-funded ISIS terrorists, with Iranian commanders playing a significant role.
Hezbollah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon, drove out the Israeli occupation forces and raised the cost of another invasion by Tel Aviv.
Against all the impotent, corrupt Arab puppets in the Middle East, only Iran has supported the Palestinians. It is the only force capable of retaliating against an Israeli sneak attack – which is why it is demonized.
Iran is the Nemesis against US plans to conquer and dismember Syria. It has provided arms and volunteers on the battlefield against terrorist mercenaries.
Iran effectively negotiated a partial lifting of Western sanctions, overcoming Israeli intransigence and securing billion-dollar trade agreements with Germany, Russia and China. It holds the prospects for productive trade and diplomatic deals in the near future – to the howling consternation of its enemies in Washington, Riyadh, London and Tel Aviv.
For all the efforts by the tentacles of Israel’s fifth column, Iran has survived and emerged as the Nemesis of Anglo-American and Israeli ambitions in the Middle East.
4. Venezuela became the leading proponent for an independent foreign policy in Latin America. For almost twenty years, the US tried repeatedly to overthrow the government in Caracas. They failed. By ballot or by bullet, despite slapping economic sanctions on Venezuela, the US suffered humiliating defeats and failed coups and aborted uprisings. Venezuela remains Washington’s principal Nemesis, thwarting its efforts to make ‘free trade’ pacts and deepen military alliances in Latin America.
5. Upon taking office in June 2016, the Philippines new president Rodrigo Duterte assumed the lead role of Washington’s most colorful ‘Nemesis’ in Southeast Asia. Under his widely popular presidency, he pivoted to China, promising to sharply reduce joint Philippine-US military exercises in the South China Sea directed against Beijing and, in return, he secured the co-operation of several hundred leading Philippine entrepreneurs in winning an initial $13 billion dollar public-private Chinese investment package for critical infrastructure and trade development..
President Duterte has frequently denounced Washington’s interference in his domestic war on drug traffickers – citing the US hypocrisy in its criticism of his human rights record. He has personally held President Obama responsible for meddling in Philippine affairs. Drawing on the history of the bloody US colonial war against the Philippine people in 1898, he holds the US responsible for inciting ethno-religious conflicts in the southern island of Mindanao – Duterte’s home region.
President Duterte’s declaration of independence from Washington (“I am no one’s ‘tuta’ [puppy dog]”)and his foreign policy priority of ‘pivoting’ from US military domination to regional economic co-operation with Beijing has turned the Philippines into Washington’s prime Nemesis in Southeast Asia.
6. The resistance of the Yemeni people, mainly ethnic Houthi freedom fighters, against the onslaught of bombing and missile strikes by the Saudi-US-UK air force, has aroused widespread solidarity throughout the Middle East.
Despite the ongoing massacre of over 10,000 Yeminis, mostly civilians, the Saudi ‘alliance’ has failed to impose a puppet regime. US links with the Saudi dictatorship have undermined its claims of humanitarian concerns for the people of Yemen. The embattled Houthi rebels have secured the support of Iran, Iraq and the majority of people in the Persian Gulf countries. As the war continues, the Saudi’s increasingly rely on military trainers, fighter bombers and logistical experts from the US, UK and NATO to pick the targets and maintain the starvation blockade. Sooner or later the courageous and tenacious resistance of the free people of Yemen against the Saudi overlords will inspire a domestic Saudi uprising against its grotesque and decrepit theocratic-monarchist state. The fall of the Royal House of Saud will bury a major scourge in the Middle East. In a word, the battle for Yemen has become the Nemesis of US-Saudi domination.
7. Everywhere in the Western world the ruling classes and their media outlets fear and loath ‘populists’ – leaders, movements, electorates – who reject their austerity programs designed to deepen inequalities and further enrich the elite. Throughout the European Union and in North and South America, workers and middle class majorities are on the march to oust the ‘free market’ regimes and restore the ‘populist’ welfare state, with its emphasis on social services, living wages and humane working conditions.
From the UK to France, Poland to Portugal, China to North America, Mexico to Argentina, the Nemesis and Furies of populist rollbacks threaten to dislodge the scourge held by the bankers, conglomerates and billionaires. Scattered populists may hold diverse ideologies; some may be nationalists, leftists, workers, farmers, petit bourgeois and public employees, indebted students, ecologists or protectionists. All are both united and divided by disparate interests and beliefs. And all are preparing for the inevitable downfall of the empire of the free market and wars.
Today the world’s greatest global conflicts have lined up the Imperial West and its frontline scourging allies against the Furies and Nemesis emerging on all continents. These are the inescapable agents of the Empire’s downfall.
The scourges of the West have been free to plunder the wealth of subject peoples and launch wars, which ravage both ancient and modern states and cultures while slaughtering and dispossessing scores of millions. The West derives its lifeblood through its seven-tailed scourge. Western elites rule through a chain of scourging puppet states with their bloody accomplices, from narco-murderers, Islamists terrorists, death squads to ordinary ‘piecework’ torturers.
Without resorting too much to the wisdom of the ancient Greek myths, we have come to believe that states, regimes, movements and people finally will emerge to act as the inescapable agents of the justice leading to the downfall of the Western empire. Modern Nemesis and Furies have a dual existence: While bringing down the old order they seek to create alternatives.
The ‘scourgers’ are by their nature specialists in wanton crimes against humanity. Nemesis and her sisters challenge and oust the latter as they construct their own new centers of wealth and power. China, Russia and Iran have gone beyond the role of Nemesis to the West – they are poised to build a new civilization on its ruins.
It remains an open question whether they can avoid becoming the new scourge against the people and nations who have risen in revolt.