Are sanctions war by another means? From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:
Supporters of Donald Trump often make the point that he has not started any new wars. One might observe that it has not been for lack of trying, as his cruise missile attacks on Syria based on fabricated evidence and his recent assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani have been indisputably acts of war. Trump also has enhanced troop levels both in the Middle East and in Afghanistan while also increasing the frequency and lethality of armed drone attacks worldwide.
Congress has been somewhat unseriously toying around with a tightening of the war powers act of 1973 to make it more difficult for a president to carry out acts of war without any deliberation by or authorization from the legislature. But perhaps the definition of war itself should be expanded. The one area where Trump and his team of narcissistic sociopaths have been most active has been in the imposition of sanctions with lethal intent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been explicit in his explanations that the assertion of “extreme pressure” on countries like Iran and Venezuela is intended to make the people suffer to such an extent that they rise up against their governments and bring about “regime change.” In Pompeo’s twisted reckoning that is how places that Washington disapproves of will again become “normal countries.”
One week into the new year and we may be looking at both financial fireworks and a hot war in the Middle East. Could be an interesting year. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:
An almighty bafflement befogs the nation as the first full business week of 2020 commences and events pile up like smashed vehicles on a weather-blinded highway. Before we even smoked that Iranian bird on the Baghdad airport tarmac, something ominous was tingling away in the financial markets, in fact, has been since way back in September. Perhaps one-in-100,000 Americans has the dimmest clue as to what the repo mechanism stands for in banking circles, but it has been flashing red for months, with klaxons blaring for those who maybe missed the red flashes.
The repo market represents trillions of dollars in overnight lending in which bonds (or other “assets”) are used as collateral for ultra-short-term loans between large banks. Theoretically, this flow of supposedly secured lending acts as mere background lubricant for the engine of finance, like the motor oil circulating in your Ford F-150. You don’t notice it until it’s not there, and then all of a sudden you’re throwing rods and sucking valves, and the darn vehicle is a smoldering goner in the breakdown lane.
US economic sanctions kill people as surely as its bombs and bullets do, although everybody seems to fill better about sanctions. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin seems to think that nations under the hammer of American sanctions should be thanking Washington for not attacking them militarily instead. How generous, how virtuous of Uncle Sam!
Speaking at the Doha Forum in Qatar last week, Mnuchin made a virtue of the US imposing economic sanctions on countries it dislikes because such measures, he claimed, were a way to avoid the worse alternative of war.
“The reason why we’re using sanctions is because they are an important alternative for world military conflicts,” said the US Treasury Secretary.
The sleight of hand here is to portray Washington as somehow being more responsible and principled in its foreign policy by using coercion against other nations supposedly without harming civilians, damaging infrastructure or spilling blood.
Billionaire Mnuchin is living in a bubble of American propaganda if he thinks that economic sanctions are some kind of sterile lever which do not have any impact on human suffering. Sanctions are acts of war, conducted as other means to troop invasions, air strikes and naval blockades.
Vladimir Putin has overcome many obstacles and turned Russia around. The country presents some interesting investment opportunities. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.com:
It’s a tough road being a contrarian on Russia. This is especially true today when the entirety of the U.S. and European political system is aligned to demonize Russia at nearly every level.
And the main reason for this is that Russia under President Vladimir Putin refuses to do the West’s bidding both at home and abroad. The central tenet of U.S. foreign policy is that U.S. concerns, no matter where they are, are supreme and everyone else’s are subordinate.
Russia under Putin doesn’t play that game. He hasn’t for nearly twenty years now. This is not to say, of course, that objectively speaking Putin is a good man or even a good leader. In studying Putin for the past seven years I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion.
Posted in Business, Financial markets, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, Investing, Military, Politics, War
Tagged Russia, Sanctions, Vladimir Putin
In 1979, Iran got rid of it’s US puppet ruler, the Shah, installed an Islamic theocracy, and has determinedly gone its own way, come hell or high water. The US has never forgiven Iran. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:
Foreign Minister Zarif sketches Iran-US relations for diplomats, former presidents and analysts
Just in time to shine a light on what’s behind the latest sanctions from Washington, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a speech at the annual Astana Clubmeeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan delivered a searing account of Iran-US relations to a select audience of high-ranking diplomats, former Presidents and analysts.
Zarif was the main speaker in a panel titled “The New Concept of Nuclear Disarmament.” Keeping to a frantic schedule, he rushed in and out of the round table to squeeze in a private conversation with Kazakh First President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
During the panel, moderator Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, managed to keep a Pentagon analyst’s questioning of Zafir from turning into a shouting match.
The bulwark of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency is the oil trade, which heretofore has been conducted almost exclusively in dollars. China seeks to change all that. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:
There is a strong current of change affecting the international political arena. It is the beginning of a revolution brought on by the transition from a unipolar to multipolar world order. In practice, we are faced with the combination of several factors, including the application of US tariffs on Chinese exports, Washington’s sanctions on Iran, US energy self-sufficiency, the vulnerability of Saudi industrial facilities, and Iranian capabilities for resisting US attacks, as well as its exportation of large quantities of gas and oil to China. Everything converges on one factor, namely, the looming decline of the US dollar as the global reserve currency
We have recently been witnessing events of considerable importance in the Middle East, almost on a daily basis. The tensions between Washington and Tehran are fueled above all by the Trump administration’s need to placate most of the US deep state, wedded to neoconservativism, who march in lockstep with Trump’s financiers from Wahhabi Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Posted in Currencies, Debt, Energy, Financial markets, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, Trade
Tagged China, Dollar, Iran, Oil, Sanctions
Few even question the idea any longer that inflicting suffering on a country’s population is the way to get that country’s government to do what the US government wants it to do. Furthermore, many people’s only benchmark for such inflicted suffering is whether or not it achieves US government goals. From Gary D. Barnett at lewrockwell.com:
“To see others suffer does one good, to make others suffer even more: this is a hard saying but an ancient, mighty, human, all-too-human principle [….] Without cruelty there is no festival.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals / Ecce Homo
Why do powerful governments revel in their ability to cause human suffering in order to bring about a desired political change? The West, led by the United States, has become the initiator and prosecutor of purposeful pain and suffering, and is continuing to advance policies that breed anguish and hardship against the innocent in many countries. These innocent, many of them children, are left starving, left without medical care, and are forced to live in fear due to the horrible conditions placed on them by the western world.
Much of this agony is due to brutal economic sanctions being levied against those countries that do not bow down to the hegemony known as the U.S. The ruling elites are boastful in their support for these harsh policies, as what they claim to seek from these atrocious sanctions is regime change or major policy change by extreme force. But is that the entire story, or do they also find joy in the festival of causing harm to the people of countries they claim as enemies? Do they secretly gain pleasure from this planned cruelty? It seems evident that those implementing this suffering do take satisfaction in their ability to cause pain in order to gain power.