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.
Without much success, the US government keeps ramping up sanctions to bend other nations to its bidding. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:
Sanctions are economic warfare, pure and simple. As an alternative to a direct military attack on a country that is deemed to be misbehaving they are certainly preferable, but no one should be under any illusions regarding what they actually represent. They are war by other means and they are also illegal unless authorized by a supra-national authority like the United Nations Security Council, which was set up after World War II to create a framework that inter alia would enable putting pressure on a rogue regime without going to war. At least that was the idea, but the sanctions regimes recently put in place unilaterally and without any international authority by the United States have had a remarkable tendency to escalate several conflicts rather than providing the type of pressure that would lead to some kind of agreement.
The most dangerous bit of theater involving sanctions initiated by the Trump administration continues to focus on Iran. Last week, the White House elevated its extreme pressure on the Iranians by engaging in a completely irrational sanctioning of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The sanctions will have no effect whatsoever and they completely contradict Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that he is seeking diplomacy to resolving the conflict with Iran. One doesn’t accomplish that by sanctioning the opposition’s Foreign Minister. Also, the Iranians have received the message loud and clear that the threats coming from Washington have nothing to do with nuclear programs. The White House began its sanctions regime over a year ago when it withdrew from the JCPOA and they have been steadily increasing since that time even though Iran has continued to be fully compliant with the agreement. Recently, the US took the unprecedented step of sanctioning the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is part of the nation’s military.
Posted in banking, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Imperialism, Trade
Tagged China, Iran, Russia, Sanctions, Venezuela
The American way of regime change and war hasn’t worked very well the last few decades, which must be why the Trump administration wants to continue using it in Venezuela. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
Is it just a coincidence that TV networks are re-running old ‘Dirty Harry’ films just as a powerful US Naval armada and Air Force B-52 bombers are headed for what could be a clash with Iran? Here we go again with the ‘good guys’ versus the ‘bad guys,’ and ‘make my day.’
Maybe it’s more bluffing? The current US military deployment was scheduled before the latest flare-up with Iran, but the bellicose threats of White House neocon crusaders like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo certainly create the impression that the US wants war.
Adding to the warlike excitement, President Trump just ordered seizure of a large North Korean bulk cargo ship. This was clearly a brazen act of war and violation of international law. More dangerous brinkmanship by administration war-mongers who increasingly appear besotted by power and hubris.
The general answer to the above question: it wouldn’t be good. From Scott Ritter at theamericanconservative.com:
Some 18 million barrels of oil transit through every day. The economic impact would be catastrophic.
U.S. Navy Sailors Assigned to the harbor patrol boat unit off the coast of Bahrain in 2006. (U.S. Navy/public domain)
The effort on the part of the Trump administration to shut down Iran’s ability to export oil is predicated on the false notion that the rest of the world will fall in lockstep with U.S. policy. But has President Donald Trump really thought through what would happen to the economic health of the world if Iran retaliates, shutting the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil flows daily?
The Trump administration’s push to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero has entered a new, critical phase, with the United States refusing to extend the waivers it granted six months ago to eight nations, including China, India, Turkey, Japan, and South Korea, to purchase Iranian oil. Moreover, the United States has refused to allow for a “wind-down” period where impacted nations would be able to gradually wean themselves away from Iranian sources of energy. This means that, effective May 1, any nation purchasing oil from Iran will be subjected to punitive U.S. sanctions.
Iran has responded to the American decision not to extend oil waivers in typical fashion, with Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command (IRGC) naval forces, warning on April 23 that “if Iran’s benefits in the Strait of Hormuz, which according to international rules is an international waterway, are denied, we will close it”.