Category Archives: Eurasian Axis

Requiem for an Empire: A Prequel, by Pepe Escobar

Even we citizens of the American empire can take some satisfaction in its death throes. Empire has been an expensive game, both in blood and treasure, and we have nothing to show for it. From Pepe Escobar at strategic-culture.org:

The inexorable imperial rot will go on, a tawdry affair carrying no dramatic, aesthetic pathos worthy of a Gotterdammerung.

Assaulted by cognitive dissonance across the spectrum, the now behaves as a manic depressive inmate, rotten to the core – a fate more filled with dread than having to face a revolt of the satrapies.

Only brain dead zombies now believe in its self-billed universal mission as the new Rome and the new Jerusalem. There’s no unifying culture, economy or geography knitting the core together across an “arid, desiccated, political landscape sweltering under the brassy sun of Apollonian ratiocination, devoid of passion, very masculine, and empty of human empathy.”

Clueless Cold Warriors still dream of the days when the Germany-Japan axis was threatening to rule Eurasia and the Commonwealth was biting the dust – thus offering Washington, fearful of being forced into islandization, the once in a lifetime opportunity to profit from WWII to erect itself as Supreme World Paradigm cum savior of the “free world”.

And then there were the unilateral 1990s, when the once again self-billed Shining City on the Hill basked in tawdry “end of history” celebrations – just as toxic neocons, gestated in the inter-war period via the gnostic cabal of New York Trotskysm, plotted their power takeover.

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Craig Murray: The Decline of Western Power

By now it’s obvious even to Westerners: the West is in decline. From Craig Murray at consortiumnew.com:

The really interesting thing about the G7 summit is that it wasn’t interesting. Nobody expected it to change the world, and it won’t.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders of the G7 watch the Red Arrows fly over in Carbis Bay, June 12. (Simon Dawson, No 10 Downing Street, Flickr)

Boris Johnson sees himself as the heritor of a world bestriding Imperial mantle, but in truth he cannot bestride the Irish Sea. The overshadowing of last month’s G7 summit by the U.K. prime minister’s peculiar concern that Irish sausages should not be eaten by those in Northern Ireland who do not believe in evolution, was a fascinating examplar of British impotence as he failed to persuade anybody else to support him. It looks like Danish bacon for the shops of Belfast and Derry will have to be imported through Dun Laoghaire and not through Larne. Ho hum.

The really interesting thing about the G7 summit is that it wasn’t interesting. Nobody expected it to change the world, and it won’t. John Pilger pointed out the key fact. Twenty years ago, the G7 constituted two thirds of the world economy. Now they constitute one third. They don’t even represent most of the world’s billionaires any longer, though those billionaires they do represent — and indeed some of the billionaires they don’t represent — were naturally pulling the strings of these rather sluggish puppets.

It used to be that any important sporting event in any developing country would feature hoardings for western multinationals, such as Pepsi Cola and Nestle baby milk. Nowadays I am watching the Euros football pitches surrounded by electronic hoardings in Chinese. The thing about power is this; it shifts with time.

None of the commitments made on Covid or climate change constituted any new money, any real transfer of wealth or technology. It was a non-event. Nobody will ever look back at anything beyond the personal as having started last month in Cornwall.

From there, pretty well the same people moved on to pretend to bestride the world militarily at NATO, where the first job was to pretend they had not lost the long Afghan war they have just, err, lost.

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Escobar: Russia-China Advance Asian Roadmap For Afghanistan

Slowly but surely, Russia and China are cementing their dominance in Eurasia, and Afghanistan gives them more opportunity to do so. From Pepe Escobar at The Asia Times via zerohedge.com:

Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s ‘facilitate, not mediate’ role could be the key to solving the Afghan imbroglio…

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for a family photo before a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Contact Group on Afghanistan, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Sputnik via AFP

Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting of Foreign Ministers on Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, may have been an under-the-radar affair, but it did reveal the contours of the big picture ahead when it comes to Afghanistan.

So let’s see what Russia and China – the SCO’s heavyweights – have been up to.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi laid out the basic road map to his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Haneef Atmar. While stressing the Chinese foreign policy gold standard – no interference in internal affairs of friendly nations – Wang established three priorities:

1. Real inter-Afghan negotiations towards national reconciliation and a durable political solution, thus preventing all-out civil war. Beijing is ready to “facilitate” dialogue.

2. Fighting terror – which means, in practice, al-Qaeda remnants, ISIS-Khorasan and the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Afghanistan should not be a haven for terrorist outfits – again.

3. The Taliban, for their part, should pledge a clean break with every terrorist outfit.

Atmar, according to diplomatic sources, fully agreed with Wang. And so did Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin. Atmar even promised to work with Beijing to crack down on ETIM, a Uighur terror group founded in China’s western Xinjiang. Overall, the official Beijing stance is that all negotiations should be “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led.”

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Insult To Injury: Russia Declares US Has Utterly “Failed” After 20 Years In Afghanistan, by Tyler Durden

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that the US mission in Afghanistan failed. Joe Biden says it was a success. We’ll go with Lavrov. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Russia this week warned the United States military to stay out of Central Asian nations bordering Afghanistan, such as Tajikistan, while emphasizing this is Russia’s own sphere of influence and that the window for American and NATO attempts to stabilize Afghanistan have long ago come and gone.

This after earlier this month Taliban leadership boasted of having taken 85% of the country, something Kabul authorities balked at, while also admitting that clashes are growing fiercer and in many more places. President Biden last week also declared US “objectives achieved” and said the troop draw down would be “complete” by August 31st; however, the Kremlin is now declaring that Washington has utterly “failed” in Afghanistan after two decades there.

The provocative comments by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov came in a press conference in Uzbekistan on Friday. He further strongly suggested that the US is now fumbling the draw down, which is contributing to the country once again descending into war-torn chaos. Crucially the security summit was attended Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

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New ‘Great Game’ Gets Back To Basics, by Pepe Escobar

The US quasi-withdrawal in Afghanistan will certainly complicate the Eurasian political situation. From Pepe Escobar at zerohedge.com:

Russia-China-Iran alliance is taking Afghanistan’s bull by the horns…

The Great Game: This lithograph by British Lieutenant James Rattray shows Shah Shuja in 1839 after his enthronement as Emir of Afghanistan in the Bala Hissar (fort) of Kabul. Rattray wrote: ‘A year later the sanctity of the scene was bloodily violated: Shah Shuja was murdered.’ Photo: Wikipedia

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a Central Asian loop all through the week. He’s visiting Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The last two are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded 20 years ago.

The SCO heavyweights are of course China and Russia. They are joined by four Central Asian “stans” (all but Turkmenistan), India and Pakistan. Crucially, Afghanistan and Iran are observers, alongside Belarus and Mongolia.

And that leads us to what’s happening this Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. The SCO will hold a 3 in 1: meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, and a conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities.”

At the same table, then, we will have Wang Yi, his very close strategic partner Sergey Lavrov and, most importantly, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar. They’ll be debating trials and tribulations after the hegemon’s withdrawal and the miserable collapse of the myth of NATO “stabilizing” Afghanistan.

Let’s game a possible scenario: Wang Yi and Lavrov tell Atmar, in no uncertain terms, that there’s got to be a national reconciliation deal with the Taliban, brokered by Russia-China, with no American interference, including the end of the opium-heroin ratline.

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Featured Story Be Prepared to Live With the Taliban or the Warlords, by Brian Cloughley

The over/under on when the Taliban and warlords take over Afghanistan after the US leaves is three months. From Brian Cloughley at strategic-culture.org:

The U.S. and the rest of the world have to be prepared to live with the winner. They had better start planning how they are going to do that.

The Fourth of July marks U.S. Independence Day and it was ironic that at the beginning of the holiday weekend, on July 2, American troops slunk out of the massive Bagram air base in Afghanistan which they had occupied for twenty years. Concurrently, President Biden had a media conference at which he was asked “Are you worried that the Afghan government might fall? I mean, we are hearing about how the Taliban is taking more and more districts.” The President’s reply was barely coherent which is disturbing on several counts, not the least being the indication that he has no idea what the future holds for Afghanistan.

His rambling response was : “Look, we were in that war for 20 years. Twenty years. And I think — I met with the Afghan government here in the White House, in the Oval. I think they have the capacity to be able to sustain the government. There are going to have to be, down the road, more negotiations, I suspect. But I am — I am concerned that they deal with the internal issues that they have to be able to generate the kind of support they need nationwide to maintain the government.” He was then asked another question about Afghanistan but cut the reporter short, saying “I want to talk about happy things, man.”

Happy things? The man is living in fantasyland. Not only has his country suffered the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, but a Washington Post analysis showed that “through the first five months of 2021, gunfire killed more than 8,100 people in the United States, about 54 lives lost per day” — which is even more deaths than in Afghanistan in the same period, which the New York Times calculated as 2077 (1461 soldiers and police; 616 civilians). Biden should be sitting down with his best and brightest advisers and talking about serious things — such as future U.S. policy concerning Afghanistan.

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China Mega Investment Deal With Iran Blows U.S. Out of the Picture, by Martin Jay

Believe or not, Iran is proving to be another one of those weird countries that prefers cash and trade to bullets, bombs, and sanctions, and once again the US finds itself losing out to China. From Martin Jay at strategic-culture.org:

A new world in the East is amalgamating as a direct result of American’s delusional views about where it thinks it is in the world, Martin Jay writes.

China has just announced that it will invest 400 bn dollars in Iran over a period of 25 years in exchange for a great deal on Iran’s oil – in the latest move of absolute defiance against the U.S. and its secondary sanctions. Where’s this all heading?

400 bn dollars is a considerable amount of money to invest in Iran, which, since Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA (otherwise called the ‘Iran Deal’) we can certainly say is a poor country. In exchange, China gets rock bottom prices on oil, while both sides enjoy the double-whammy of sending a vociferous message to Washington: your days are up as a super power who can bully countries with sanctions.

The deal was really the last thing that Joe Biden needed in barely his six month in office, where he has been weak on Russia and China and arguably pathetic in the Middle East when it comes to delivering on the ‘America is back’ rhetoric. ‘America is back’ to what, we might all wonder, given that Iran is commissioning drone strikes against U.S. forces, Afghanistan is rapidly heading towards a Taliban takeover and the Iran talks in Vienna have more or less ended with a draft of what the Guardian euphemistically calls a ‘roadmap’.

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Pepe Escobar: Say Hello To The Diplo-Taliban

There are many nuances and details that defy simplistic analysis concerning Afghanistan and its place in Asia after the Americans leave. From Pepe Escobar at The Asia Times via zerohedge.com:

Deploying diplomatic skills refined from Doha to Moscow, the Taliban in 2021 has little to do with its 2001 incarnation…

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (center) and other members of the Taliban arrive to attend an international conference in Moscow on March 18, 2021. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AFP

A very important meeting took place in Moscow last week, virtually hush-hush. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, received Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s national security adviser.

There were no substantial leaks.

A bland statement pointed to the obvious:

They “focused on the security situation in Afghanistan during the pullout of Western military contingencies and the escalation of the military-political situation in the northern part of the country.”

The real story is way more nuanced. Mohib, representing embattled President Ashraf Ghani, did his best to convince Patrushev that the Kabul administration represents stability. It does not – as the subsequent Taliban advances proved.

Patrushev knew Moscow could not offer any substantial measure of support to the current Kabul arrangement because doing so would burn bridges the Russians would need to cross in the process of engaging the Taliban. Patrushev knows that the continuation of Team Ghani is absolutely unacceptable to the Taliban – whatever the configuration of any future power-sharing agreement.

So Patrushev, according to diplomatic sources, definitely was not impressed.

This week we can all see why. A delegation from the Taliban political office went to Moscow essentially to discuss with the Russians the fast-evolving mini-chessboard in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban had been to Moscow four months earlier, along with the extended troika (Russia, US, China, Pakistan) to debate the new Afghan power equation.

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A Saigon Moment in the Hindu Kush, by Pepe Escobar

The Chinese, Russians, Indians, and Pakistanis will fill the void. From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:

The US is on the verge of its own second Vietnam repeated as farce in a haphazard retreat from Afghanistan

US Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on July 2, 2009. – The US pullout from the Pentagon’s once mighty Bagram Air Base in the dead of night, while Taliban fighters pour across the country, looks a lot like a military defeat. Photo: AFP / Manpreet Romana
US Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on July 2, 2009. – The US pullout from the Pentagon’s once mighty Bagram Air Base in the dead of night, while Taliban fighters pour across the country, looks a lot like a military defeat. Photo: AFP / Manpreet Romana

And it’s all over

For the unknown soldier

It’s all over

For the unknown soldier

The Doors, “The Unknown Soldier”

Let’s start with some stunning facts on the Afghan ground.

The Taliban are on a roll. Earlier this week their PR arm was claiming they hold 218 Afghan districts out of 421 – capturing new ones every day. Tens of districts are contested. Entire Afghan provinces are basically lost to the government in Kabul, which has been de facto reduced to administer a few scattered cities under siege.

Already on July 1, the Taliban announced they controlled 80% of Afghan territory. That’s close to the situation 20 years ago, only a few weeks before 9/11, when Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud told me in the Panjshir valley , as he prepared a counter-offensive, that the Taliban were 85% dominant.

Their new tactical approach works like a dream. First, there’s a direct appeal to soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to surrender. Negotiations are smooth and deals fulfilled. Soldiers in the low thousands have already joined the Taliban without a single shot fired.

Map by CIG / Telegram / Counter-Intelligence (t.me/CIG telegram) showing recent Taliban advances and Afghan districts being captured, as of July 5, 2021

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Escobar: The Long & Winding Multipolar Road

Pepe Escobar parses out the distinction between a rules-based order and a law-based order. From Escobar at The Asia Times via zerohedge.com:

The West’s “rules-based order” invokes rulers’ authority; Russia-China say it’s time to return to law-based order…

We do live in extraordinary times.

On the day of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), President Xi Jinping, in Tiananmen square, amid all the pomp and circumstance, delivered a stark geopolitical message:

The Chinese people will never allow foreign forces to intimidate, oppress or subjugate them. Anyone who tries to do this will find themselves on a collision course with a large steel wall forged by more than 1.4 billion Chinese.

I have offered a concise version of the modern Chinese miracle – which has nothing to do with divine intervention, but “searching truth from facts” (copyright Deng Xiaoping), inspired by a solid cultural and historical tradition.

The “large steel wall” evoked by Xi now permeates a dynamic “moderately prosperous society” – a goal achieved by the CCP on the eve of the centennial. Lifting over 800 million people out of poverty is a historical first – in every aspect.

As in all things China, the past informs the future. This is all about xiaokang – which may be loosely translated as “moderately prosperous society”.

The concept first appeared no less than 2,500 years ago, in the classic Shijing (“The Book of Poetry”). The Little Helmsman Deng, with his historical eagle eye, revived it in 1979, right at the start of the “opening up” economic reforms.

Now compare the breakthrough celebrated in Tiananmen – which will be interpreted all across the Global South as evidence of the success of a Chinese model for economic development – with footage being circulated of the Taliban riding captured T-55 tanks across impoverished villages in northern Afghanistan.

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