Tag Archives: Belt and Road Initiative

What US Defeat in Afghanistan Means for China, by Alfred W. McCoy

The US government will not bounce back on the world stage as it did after Vietnam. From Alfred W. McCoy at consortiumnews.com:

For the implications of U.S. global power, the collapse of Kabul was incomparably worse than the fall of Saigon, writes Alfred W. McCoy. 

Chinese cargo trucks awaiting Pakistan customs clearance in 2007 at Sost, the last town inside Pakistan before the Chinese border. (Anthony Maw, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The collapse of the American project in Afghanistan may fade fast from the news in the U.S., but don’t be fooled. It couldn’t be more significant in ways few in the country can even begin to grasp.

“Remember, this is not Saigon,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a television audience on Aug. 15, the day the Taliban swept into the Afghan capital, pausing to pose for photos in the grandly gilded presidential palace. He was dutifully echoing his boss, President Joe Biden, who had earlier rejected any comparison with the fall of the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, in 1975, insisting that “there’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”

Both were right, but not in the ways they intended. Indeed, the collapse of Kabul was not comparable. It was worse, incomparably so. And its implications for the future of U.S. global power are far more serious than the loss of Saigon.

On the surface, similarities abound. In both South Vietnam and Afghanistan, Washington spent 20 years and countless billions of dollars building up massive, conventional armies, convinced that they could hold off the enemy for a decent interval after the U.S. departure. But presidents Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam and Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan both proved to be incompetent leaders who never had a chance of retaining power without continued fulsome American backing.

Amid a massive North Vietnamese offensive in the spring of 1975, President Thieu panicked and ordered his army to abandon the northern half of the country, a decision that precipitated Saigon’s fall just six weeks later. As the Taliban swept across the countryside this summer, President Ghani retreated into a fog of denial, insisting his troops defend every remote, rural district, allowing the Taliban to springboard from seizing provincial capitals to capturing Kabul in just 10 days.

With the enemy at the gates, President Thieu filled his suitcases with clinking gold bars for his flight into exile, while President Ghani (according to Russian reports) snuck off to the airport in a cavalcade of cars loaded with cash. As enemy forces entered Saigon and Kabul, helicopters ferried American officials from the U.S. embassy to safety, even as surrounding city streets swarmed with panicked local citizens desperate to board departing flights.

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If the US Wants to Beat China, Why Is It Copying China’s Socialism? by Mihai Macovei

Just because the Chinese are pushing their Belt and Road Initiative doesn’t mean big state-directed infrastructure projects work any better than they ever have. It’s certainly not a reason for the US to copy them. From Mihai Macovei at mises.org:

Under the Biden administration the US continued escalating the economic and geopolitical frictions with China. At the recent G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, President Biden sought to rally a “united front” against China with traditional G7 allies and new ones such as Australia, India, South Korea, and South Africa and rebuked China on economic policies, human rights, and tensions in the East and South China Seas. The US also persuaded its G7 allies to back a massive infrastructure support package for developing countries. The so-called Build Back Better World Partnership (B3W) is a de facto rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But it is far from obvious what the West stands to gain by emulating China’s exorbitant and highly controversial modern “Silk Road” venture.

The US’s Ambitious Global Infrastructure Plan

The B3W wants to mobilize “hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment,” in order to narrow an estimated infrastructure need of $40 trillion plus in the developing world. The B3W financing is expected to come from US budgetary instruments, such as the Development Finance Corporation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); from multilateral development banks (MDBs), such as the World Bank; and from the private sector and G7 partners. As the B3W is meant to challenge China’s project, we expect it to at least match the Chinese financial envelope, most commonly estimated at more than $1 trillion in investment and lending commitments so far.1 This is more than eight times higher than the nearly $113 billion in official development assistance and $22 billion in private sector investment provided by G7 countries for foreign infrastructure projects during 2015–19 (graph 1).

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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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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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The Deficiencies of Sinophobia, Bannon & the End of Geopolitics, by Joaquin Flores

A subtle and incisive analysis—absent moralizing cant—of geopolitics going forward, from Joaquin Flores at strategic-culture.org:

Globalization is being wound down so that western elites can reinforce control over their current zone of hegemony, Joaquin Flores.

The 47th G7 summit held on 11-13 June 2021 in Cornwall carried the motto ‘Build Back Better World’ (B3W), the mantra of the IMF’s ‘Great Resetist Regime’.

What ‘Build Back Better’ amounts to is a Globalist gambit to retain power amidst vastly changing conditions. It recognizes, as does Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum, in his text ‘Covid19: The Great Reset’, that globalization will be curtailed as a consequence of the political response to Covid.

The G7 summit gave new meaning to ‘Building Back Better’, which was posited as an alternative to the Chinese Belt and Road initiative.

This revealed that the planned demolition to economies and global trade, and supply-lines of the western economies, was also a move to unwind the globalization project by disconnecting from China.

As we have written for over a year, the Great Reset is about pushing forward on two directions which at first pass seem contradictory: the end of Globalization as we have known it, but an end being carried out by the Globalists themselves despite their own wishes.

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Escobar: Empire Of Clowns Versus Yellow Peril

The US alliance’s effort to hastily construct something to rival China and Russia’s well-thought out and well-executed Belt and Road Initiative is nothing more than a pathetic, me too farce and will pull no one from the Eurasian axis. From Pepe Escobar at The Asia Times via zerohedge.com:

Global South will be unimpressed by new B3W infrastructure scheme funded by private Western interests out for short-term profit…

It requires major suspension of disbelief to consider the G7, the self-described democracy’s most exclusive club, as relevant to the Raging Twenties. Real life dictates that even accounting for the inbuilt structural inequality of the current world system the G7’s economic output barely registers as 30% of the global total.

Cornwall was at best an embarrassing spectacle – complete with a mediocrity troupe impersonating “leaders” posing for masked elbow bump photo ops while on a private party with the 95-year-old Queen of England, everyone was maskless and merrily mingling about in an apotheosis of “shared values” and “human rights”.

Quarantine on arrival, masks enforced 24/7 and social distancing of course is only for the plebs.

The G7 final communique is the proverbial ocean littered with platitudes and promises. But it does contain a few nuggets. Starting with ‘Build Back Better’ – or B3 – showing up in the title.

B3 is now official code for both The Great Reset and the New Green Deal.

Then there’s the Yellow Peril remixed, with the “our values” shock troops “calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms” with a special emphasis on Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

The story behind it was confirmed to me by a EU diplomatic source, a realist (yes, there are some in Brussels).

All hell broke loose inside the – exclusive – G7 room when the Anglo-American axis, backed by spineless Canada, tried to ramrod the EU-3 plus Japan into an explicit condemnation of China in the final communiqué over the absolute bogus concentration camp “evidence” in Xinjiang. In contrast to politicized accusations of “crimes against humanity”, the best analysis of what’s really going on in Xinjiang has been published by the Qiao collective.

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Kerry Lunges Into India With Anti-BRI Agenda Bringing Green Suicide for All, by Matthew Ehret

The pompadour in search of a brain has just the thing for India to keep it out of China and Russia’s Belt and Road Initiative: a Green New Deal that India doesn’t want and couldn’t possibly afford. From Matthew Ehret at strategic-culture.org:

Despite the fact that a “Green BRI doppelganger” has been on the books since 2018, the plan was generally acknowledged to be an unworkable green boondoggle and fell out of interest for quite some time. Now it is being revived.

As the China-Russian-Iran alliance continues to gain new momentum spreading win-win cooperation and development across Asia, Africa and the World, the dying unipolar system run by detached militarists, financiers and technocrats is doubling down on its weird mix of 1) a “scorched earth” offensive threat to “dissuade” China and Russia from continuing on their current trajectory and 2) a “positive” green game on which nations are invited to tie their destinies as an alternative to China’s BRI.

Everyone reading this should already be aware of the “scorched earth” Full Spectrum dominance policy targeting Russia and China.

However, what is less appreciated even among the most geopolitically savvy anti-imperialists today is what sort of “positive” green game is being deployed to subvert the $3 trillion Belt and Road Initiative which has already won over 136 participating nations and which geopolicians understand to be a mortal threat to their desired world order.

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China and Russia Launch a ‘Global Resistance Economy’, by Alastair Crooke

The Belt and Road Initiative, but it is also a statement against America global hegemony. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

The U.S. will ignore the message from Anchorage. It is already testing China over Taiwan, and is preparing an escalation in Ukraine, to test Russia.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (c. 500 BCE) advises that: “To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands; yet the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself … Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will; and does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him”. This is the essence of the Chinese resistance economy – a strategy which has been fully unveiled in the wake of the Anchorage talks; talks that silenced any lingering thoughts in Beijing that America might somehow find some modus vivendi with Beijing in its headlong pursuit of primacy over China.

Although earlier there had been tantalising glimpses of déshabillé, the full reveal to China’s tough stance and rhetoric has only been permitted now – post-Anchorage – and the talks’ confirmation that the U.S. intends to block China’s ascent.

If it is assumed that this ‘resistance’ initiative constitutes some tit-for-tat ‘jab’ at Washington – through sinking Biden’s Iran ambitions, as revenge for America loudly crying ‘war crimes’ (‘genocide’ in Xingjian) – then we miss wholly its full import. The scope of the Iran pact by far transcends trade and investment, as one commentator in the Chinese state media made plain: “As it stands, this deal (the Iran pact) will totally upend the prevailing geopolitical landscape in the West Asian region that has for so long been subject to U.S. hegemony”.

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