Category Archives: Foreign Policy

Russia’s Biggest Move Yet To Take Control Of The European Gas Market, by Simon Watkins

Russia has cut a sweet deal with Iran for control of a large percentage of a Caspian Sea oil and natural gas field. This, of course, will increase its clout in European and world energy markets. From Simon Watkins at oilprice.com:

  • Russia has managed to secure the largest share in Iran’s huge Chalous gas discovery, a move that could have huge economic and geopolitical consequences
  • A senior Russian official believes this was the final act in securing control over the European energy market
  • While Iran appears to have lost out economically on this deal, it will provide the Islamic Republic geopolitical support and the IRGC a nice slush fund

A deal finalized last week to develop Iran’s multi-trillion dollar new gas discovery, the Chalous field, will see Russian companies hold the major share in it, followed by Chinese companies, and only then Iranian ones, sources close to the deal exclusively told OilPrice.com. This is despite Chalous’s position unequivocally within the Iranian sector of the Caspian Sea, over which the Islamic Republic has complete sovereignty. Billions of dollars in additional capital investment are scheduled to come from financial institutions in Germany, Austria, and Italy, as the indications are that the size of Chalous’s gas reserves are even greater now than initially thought. According to one of the senior Russian officials involved in negotiating the deal: “This is the final act of securing control over the European energy market.”

In context, the wider Caspian basins area, including both onshore and offshore fields, is conservatively estimated to have around 48 billion barrels of oil and 292 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proven and probable reserves. As exclusively covered and analyzed by OilPrice.com in 2019, Russia was instrumental in manipulating a change in the legal status of the Caspian basins area that meant that Iran’s share of the total revenues from the entire Caspian site was slashed from 50-50 split with the USSR that it had enjoyed as from the original agreement made in 1921 (on ‘fishing rights’) and amended in 1924 to include ‘any and all resources recovered’ to just 11.875 percent. Before the Chalous discovery, this meant that Iran would lose at least US$3.2 trillion in revenues from the lost value of energy products across the shared assets of the Caspian Sea resource going forward. Given the latest internal-use only estimates from Iran and Russia, this figure will now be a lot higher.

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The Pentagon as Pentagod, by William Astore

The U.S. government and its people have deified war. From William Astore at tomdispatch.com:

America’s Abyss of Weapons and Warmaking

Who is America’s god? The Christian god of the beatitudes, the one who healed the sick, helped the poor, and preached love of neighbor? Not in these (dis)United States. In the Pledge of Allegiance, we speak proudly of One Nation under God, but in the aggregate, this country doesn’t serve or worship Jesus Christ, or Allah, or any other god of justice and mercy. In truth, the deity America believes in is the five-sided one headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.

In God We Trust is on all our coins. But, again, which god? The one of “turn the other cheek”? The one who found his disciples among society’s outcasts? The one who wanted nothing to do with moneychangers or swords? As Joe Biden might say, give me a break.

America’s true god is a deity of wrath, whose keenest followers profit mightily from war and see such gains as virtuous, while its most militant disciples, a crew of losing generals and failed Washington officials, routinely employ murderous violence across the globe. It contains multitudes, its name is legion, but if this deity must have one name, citing a need for some restraint, let it be known as the Pentagod.

Yes, the Pentagon is America’s true god. Consider that the Biden administration requested a whopping $753 billion for military spending in fiscal year 2022 even as the Afghan War was cratering. Consider that the House Armed Services Committee then boosted that blockbuster budget to $778 billion in September. Twenty-five billion dollars extra for “defense,” hardly debated, easily passed, with strong bipartisan support in Congress. How else, if not religious belief, to explain this, despite the Pentagod’s prodigal $8 trillion wars over the last two decades that ended so disastrously? How else to account for future budget projections showing that all-American deity getting another $8 trillion or so over the next decade, even as the political parties fight like rabid dogs over roughly 15% of that figure for much-needed domestic improvements?

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Shadow Wars, by Patrick Lawrence

Threatening wars and the steady drumbeat of propaganda increases military budgets and keeps the Deep State and its contractors happy. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:

Talk of Washington going to war in behalf of either Taiwan or Ukraine is hard to match for cynicism.

Black Hawk helicopters in fly-by during centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Nov. 11. (DoD, Jack Sanders)

Can you hear the drums of war rolling? They beat across both oceans now, rum-rum-rum-pa-rum-rum. And there alongside them are the fifers, sounding as if they have just arrived from the fields of Lexington and Concord. Onward in the name of… in the name of empire, the unliberty of others.

At last, something is clear about President Joe Biden’s amateurishly incoherent foreign policy. In the course of this autumn the regime has settled on two theaters in which taxpayers, frightened-of-the-world Americans, are encouraged to think the republic’s bravest will go to war. The U.S. will wage war in behalf of Ukraine and war in behalf of Taiwan. Supposedly.

Let us be clear off the top about what exactly is clear.

The danger of war with Russia over the long-running, lately revived Ukraine crisis and with China over the long-running, lately revived Taiwan crisis has heightened considerably in recent months. There is no question of this. But I am here to tell you that the United States will not go to war in either case. Two reasons:

One, people who are smart about winning and losing, if not about much else, know very well that the U.S. could not possibly win a war in either case. Corollary: They also know that body bags arriving in Delaware or California from Eastern Ukraine or Taiwan’s China-facing beaches risk igniting a real, live, true-blue antiwar movement. People would wake up, and they can’t have that.

Two and more saliently, the danger of war is all the administration, the armed forces, the defense contractors, and all the hawks in the media and on Capitol Hill want and need. It is their tried-and-true organizing principle. They are doing very well organizing American minds on danger alone. But going to war with Russia or China would be counterproductive because in all likelihood it would not last long. Then what? The risk of peace? The danger of war is a hardy perennial.

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U.S. Supremacy by Any Other Name, by Alastair Crooke

The Biden administration is repackaging standard U.S. foreign policy. The box is different but the contents are the same. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

The world balance has changed qualitatively, and not just quantitatively, Alastair Crooke writes.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum two weeks ago, General Milley conceded that ‘America’s century’ is over – a long overdue acknowledgement, most might venture. Yet, belated or not, his saying it nonetheless seemed to signal an important strategic shift: “We’re entering into a tri-polar – world with the U.S., Russia and China being all great powers. [And] just by introducing three versus two you get increased complexity”, Milley said.

More recently, in a CNN interview Jake Sullivan, Biden’s Security Adviser, said that it had been a mistake to try to change China: “America is not seeking to ‘contain’ China: it’s not a new Cold War”. Mr. Sullivan’s remarks come a week after President Biden said the U.S. was not seeking “physical conflict” with China, despite rising tensions – “this is competition”, Biden said.

This indeed seemed to signal something important. But is it, though? This use of the word ‘competition’ is a tad curious as terminology, and requires a little unpacking.

CNN interviewer, Fareed Zakaria, asked Sullivan: So what is it, after all your ‘tough talk’, that you have been able to agree with China; what has been negotiated? One might imagine a response outlining how best Biden thinks to manage these competing interests in a complex tri-polar world. Well, that wasn’t Sullivan’s retort. “Wrong metric”, he said flatly: Don’t ask about bilateral agreements – ask about what else we have secured.

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Does Biden Administration Want War With Russia? By Doug Bandow

Like virtually everything the Biden administration does, its policy towards Russia is marked by contradiction, hypocrisy, and assertions of power it can’t or won’t back up. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Biden administration diplomats are wandering Europe warning about a potential invasion of Ukraine. It makes one wonder if the Biden crowd – it is unclear who, if anyone, is in charge of the administration these days – is hoping for a fight over Ukraine. Perhaps “a splendid little war,” as the Spanish-American War was called, would provide a patriotic bump in public approval.

Washington cites an apparently ominous Russian military buildup near Ukraine. This sounds like a repeat of Russian maneuvers in the Spring, which caused enormous wailing and gnashing of teeth within the Beltway but came to nothing. However, based on information the administration refuses to share with the American people – apparently reports indicating deployments of elite units at night – US officials are worried about potential unspecified military action. Ukraine first dismissed the claim but flip-flopped a few days ago without explanation. Presumably the administration shared with Kyiv whatever it continues to withhold from its own public.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken opined that the US didn’t “have clarity over Moscow’s intentions,” even as his subordinates were inflaming the war scare. He added: “Our concern is that Russia may make the serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook in 2014, when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory and did so claiming falsely that it was provoked.” Alas, this mysterious assessment communicates little. Then Moscow seized Crimea, historically Russian and location of Sevastopol naval base, and supported ethnic-Russian separatists in the Donbass region. What would it mean to “rehash” these events?

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Nearly 300K Non-Existent ‘Ghost Soldiers’ Is Why Afghan Government Collapsed So Quickly: Ex-Finance Minister, by Tyler Durden

Ever wonder where all the money went in Afghanistan? Brace yourself: it lined corrupt officials’ pockets! Who knew? From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Former Afghani finance minister, Khalid Payenda, says that most of the 300,000 Afghan troops never existed, and were in fact “ghost” solders who were fabricated by corrupt officials who then pocketed their wages, according to the BBC.

So – corrupt Afghan officials lied about their fighting force, while US President Joe Biden was pressuring former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to lie about the US pullout and say that the Taliban wasn’t winning “whether it is true or not.” Ghani refused to lie, and the rest is history – the Taliban spread throughout the country like wildfire and toppled the government within a matter of days.

“The way the accountability was done, you would ask the chief in that province how many people you have and based on that you could calculate salaries and ration expenses and they would always be inflated,” the former finance minister told BBC‘s Ed Butler.

The former minister said the numbers may have been inflated by more than six times, and included “desertions [and] martyrs who were never accounted for because some of the commanders would keep their bank cards” and withdraw their salaries, he alleged.

There have long been questions over Afghan troop numbers.

A 2016 report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar) claimed that “neither the United States nor its Afghan allies know how many Afghan soldiers and police actually exist, how many are in fact available for duty, or, by extension, the true nature of their operational capabilities”. -BBC

More recently, Sigar expressed “serious concerns about the corrosive effects of corruption… and the questionable accuracy of data on the actual strength of the force.”

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Vladimir Putin of Russia: Statesman, by Cameron Salisbury

If you can set aside the never-ending flow of propaganda about Vladimir Putin and examine his record, you’ll find a commanding and competent figure who rescued Russia from the mire in which it was stuck at the turn of the century. He’s surely got at least 75 IQ points on Biden. From Cameron Salisbury at theburningplatform.com:

Allow me to introduce you to a remarkable man that you’ve heard of but to whom you have never been properly introduced. His name is Vladimir Putin.

As you will see, he is actually a peace maker and statesman not only of the decade but possibly of the century. Time will tell.

Equipped with a law degree, he came to power in Russia, the result of his work for the state, his recognized brilliance, planning and organizing ability, after a stint with the KGB, as some of the U.S. powers, like Bush senior, came through the CIA. It’s hard to find any acknowledgment of his genius and achievements any where in the Western press, including the encyclopedia Britannica. But far from being an enemy of the West, a closer look reveals a calming presence in the face of a repeated Western (U.S.) affronts and apparent false flag operations.

It’s been a tribute to Putin that the U.S. has devoted so much time and energy in a relentless struggle to make him a pariah. They’ve done so largely because the Department of Defense needed a military enemy to maintain it’s gargantuan annual budget. In addition, the U.S. power base wanted no threat to its own world leadership position which Russia, with Putin’s leadership, existentially posed.

Although the government’s media lapdogs succeeded in making Putin’s name toxic in America, it’s success was notably lacking in much of the rest of the world. And in Russia, where he was first appointed president in 1999, he has been elected by increasing margins every time he ran. He has served as prime minister or president every year for over 20 years, most recently elected by a 80% plurality. Although denigrated by the U.S. as a fake election, an identical reaction to all Putin achievements, it’s hard to argue with his popularity no matter how many of his domestic enemies the U.S. locates and supports.

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Afghanistan: Between Pipelines and ISIS-K, the Americans Are Still in Play, by Pepe Escobar

You didn’t really think the U.S. government was actually getting out of Afghanistan, did you? From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:

Something quite extraordinary happened in early November in Kabul.

Taliban interim-Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov got together to discuss a range of political and economic issues. Most importantly, they resurrected the legendary soap opera which in the early 2000s I dubbed Pipelineistan: the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline.

Call it yet another remarkable, historical twist in the post-jihad Afghan saga, going back as far as the mid-1990s when the Taliban first took power in Kabul.

In 1997, the Taliban even visited Houston to discuss the pipeline, then known as TAP, as reported in Part 1 of my e-book Forever Wars.

During the second Clinton administration, a consortium led by Unocal – now part of Chevron – was about to embark on what would have been an extremely costly proposition (nearly $8 billion) to undercut Russia in the intersection of Central and South Asia; as well as to smash the competition: the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline.

The Taliban were duly courted – in Houston and in Kabul. A key go-between was the ubiquitous Zalmay Khalilzad, aka ‘Bush’s Afghan,’ in one of his earlier incarnations as Unocal lobbyist-cum-Taliban interlocutor. But then, low oil prices and non-stop haggling over transit fees stalled the project. That was the situation in the run-up to 9/11.

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The Contrarian Trade of the Decade: The Dollar Refuses to Die, by Charles Hugh Smith

The Deep State does not want the dollar’s value to go to zero. The dollar is one of the U.S. government’s most powerful weapons. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Which is more valuable: Wall Street’s debt/asset bubbles or the global empire? You can’t have both, so choose wisely.

The consensus makes sense: the U.S. dollar is doomed because the Federal Reserve and the Treasury will conjure trillions of new dollars out of thin air to prop up the status quo entitlements, monopolies, cartels and debt/asset bubbles, and since little of this issuance actually increases productivity, all it will accomplish is the dilution / devaluation of the currency.

Put simply, the dollar will lose its purchasing power as the inevitable result of the need to print and borrow ever-increasing sums to pay interest on existing debts, fund Bread and Circuses to keep the masses placated and keep inflating the asset bubbles in stocks, housing, bat guano, etc. to maintain the illusion of prosperity.

This destruction of the dollar is TINA writ large: there is no alternative. The only way to keep the status quo from imploding is to print as many trillions as are needed, and this inevitably devalues the currency to the point of worthlessness.

OK, we get it: TINA so the dollar dies. But let’s consider TINA from the perspective of the Deep State. Destroying the purchasing power of the dollar destroys the engine of America’s power, which is the ability (“exorbitant privilege”) to conjure “money” out of thin air and be able to trade this “money” for cobalt, steel, semiconductors, etc. supplied by other nations.

If the dollar is destroyed by over-issuance, then how do we buy the cobalt and other goodies we need to keep the aircraft carriers and all their aircraft in working order? This is a problem, for if we can’t conjure “money” out of thin air and persuade everyone it still have value, then America’s global influence dissipates into thin air.

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Losing Militarily & Strategically, in Order to ‘Win’ Politically (but Ephemerally), by Alastair Crooke

Sometimes a victory for appearances’ sake is a loss for reality’s sake. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

In the wake of the Kabul withdrawal débacle, the U.S. administration is in a tearing hurry to give Biden the semblance of foreign policy success.

The contradictions multiply: On the one hand, U.S. Administration ‘China hawks’ accelerate the eating away, piece by piece, of the ‘One China’ commitment and egg-on Taipei to think that the U.S. ‘has its back’, were China to attempt any reunification of the Island using military force. Yet Taiwan will eventually be integrated into China, as the latter would be bound to prevail militarily, should ‘push come to shove’. Perhaps though, Washington sees this tactical harassment of Beijing as a political ‘capillary action’ success – even if Taiwan’s end-destiny is ‘writ’ in stone.

Then there are reports that Israel is engaged in what are described as ‘intense’ drills to simulate an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Blinken has made clear that the U.S. Administration knows what Israel is planning, and approves. He met with Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid on 13 October, and said that should diplomacy with Iran fail, the U.S. will turn to “other options.” Lapid later confirmed that one U.S. option precisely is military action.

Yet, even Israeli military experts admit that there is no realistic Plan ‘B’ to halt Iran’s enrichment programme. One leading Israeli Military Commentator recently noted that: ‘Israel cannot destroy Iran’s nuclear know-how. In a ‘best-case scenario’ military Israeli action would delay the program by “two years maximum”’. Should the Vienna talks fail, either Israel will come to live with a ‘threshold power’ Iran. Or, it must prepare itself for a multi-front regional war – which it is doing.

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