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Tag Archives: United States

EU at the Crossroads: Integration or Disintegration, by J. Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

The EU will try to prevent its own demise by becoming more centralized and powerful. That may, however, result in its demise. Germany will be the key. From J. Hawk, Daniel Deiss, and Edwin Watson at southfront.org:

While the European Union is theoretically the world’s biggest economy using the world’s second most popular currency in international transactions, it remains to be seen whether in the future it will evolve into a genuine component of a multi-polar international system or become a satellite in someone else’s—most likely US—orbit. There still remain many obstacles toward achieving a certain “critical mass” of power and unity. While individual EU member states, most notably Germany and France, are capable of independent action in the international system, individually they are too weak to influence the actions of the United States or China or even Russia. In the past, individual European powers relied on overseas colonial empires to achieve great power status. In the 21st century, European greatness can only be achieved through eliminating not just economic but also political barriers on the continent. At present, European leaders are presented with both incentives and obstacles to such integration, though one may readily discern a number of potential future paths toward future integration.

United Europe or Fourth Reich?

The greatest obstacle toward further European integration is the dominant position of Germany within the Union, and it remains to be seen whether a unified German state is compatible with a united Europe. The most recent two attempts to establish a pan-European empire were done by the dominant European actors at the time, namely France in the early 19th century and Germany in the early 20th, and failed because the imposition of rules beneficial to the hegemon provoked resistance—though going to war with Russia in both cases proved to be the fatal mistake.

Today, Germany once again dominates the continent, though it does so using a velvet glove of the Eurozone and the European Central Bank rather than the iron fist of the Wehrmacht. While the German media are full of self-serving praise of their country’s economic prowess, it is unlikely in the extreme German economy would be enjoying export successes had its key trading partners, namely other European countries, not been prevented from engaging in self-defensive economic measures such as devaluations by the existence of the single currency. Consequently there is a strong anti-German sentiment within the EU which provides much of the fuel to the Euroskeptics. After all, many of the unpopular EU policies, starting with fiscal austerity, are backed by Germany whose economy benefits from a strong, low-inflation Euro.

Moreover, the current crop of German leaders, starting with Angela Merkel herself, view themselves as Germans first and Europeans second. Angela Merkel  is an “alumna” of the German Democratic Republic where she never experienced European integration, and where revanchist nationalist sentiments re-emerged after reunification. Her political success had a lot to do with her desire to quietly promote “Germany First” policies under the guise of European integration. But what is good for a German is lethal to a European. If European integration is to have a future, it will have to start with an attitude change in Berlin. Fortunately, there are a number of factors encouraging Germany’s leaders to do so.

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Trump Betrays MAGA Over Venezuela, by Tom Luongo

It looks like the US government-backed coup in Venezuela is coming a cropper and the US won’t get its hands on Venezuela’s oil this go around. That doesn’t mean it won’t keep trying. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

The U.S. backed a coup in Venezuela that has failed. And President Trump was the architect of it. This is a farce surrounding an intrigue contained within a tragedy.

What has happened in Venezuela is tragic. Nicolas Maduro is a comical figure straight out of central casting for a South American leader of a junta. But it has been the U.S.’s designs on Venezuela’s oil and gas reserves (the largest proven in the world as of 2017) that is the real story behind this week’s events.

For anyone still harboring doubts as to who Trump truly is Venezuela should end them. Trump’s Energy Dominance policy is at the core of his foreign policy. And he will do whatever it takes to secure that policy and deliver a long-standing order to the U.S. and European oligarchy to gain control over Venezuela.

Energy Dominance

As Alistair Crooke succinctly put it last year at Strategic Culture:

The US – were energy dominance to succeed – simply would control the tap to the economic development – or its lack thereof – for rivals China, and Asia. And the US could squeeze Russia’s revenues in this way, too. In short, the US could put a tourniquet on China’s and Russia’s economic development plans. Is this why JCPOA was revoked by President Trump?
Here then, is the squaring of that circle (more US power, yet less empire): Trump’s US aims for ‘domination’, not through the globalists’ permanent infrastructure of the US defence umbrella, but through the smart leveraging of the US dollar and financial clearing monopoly, by ring-fencing, and holding tight, US technology, and by dominating the energy market, which in turn represents the on/off valve to economic growth for US rivals. In this way, Trump can ‘bring the troops home’, and yet America keeps its hegemony. Military conflict becomes a last resort.

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The American Empire Pivots Toward Venezuela, by Michael Krieger

Would the US care about Venezuela if it didn’t have huge oil reserves and wasn’t in bed with Russia and China? The question almost answers itself. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

Many people are coming to quick takes on yesterday’s extraordinary decision by the U.S. government to recognize an unelected opposition leader as interim President of Venezuela based on their view of Maduro and his government. Similar to the emotional responses to those first clips of the Covington students and Nathan Phillips, such superficial opinions feel good and confirm biases, but don’t tell you much about what’s really going on. From my seat, the move by the Trump administration to choose the leader of Venezuela by diktat is just straight up imperial geopolitics. Nothing more, nothing less.

A month ago, I reassessed my geopolitical assumptions in the post, Is U.S. Geopolitical Strategy Experiencing a Monumental Shift? In it, I detailed how U.S. foreign policy seemed to be shifting toward a focus on containing China, which would lead to a far more serious confrontation between the world’s number one and number two economies.

I’ve now seen enough to seriously consider that we may be entering an entirely new geopolitical environment dominated by vastly increased tensions between the U.S. and China. If so, it will likely last a lot longer than you think as leaders in both China in the U.S. will be looking for a scapegoat as their crony, financialized economies struggle under unpayable debt and unimaginable levels of corruption.

With the attempt to push Russia back in Syria a clear failure, the neocons in Trump’s administration quickly got to work on their next scheme. Enter Venezuela.

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Entering a Major Regional Re-set – The Syria Outcome Will Haunt Those Who Started This War, by Alastair Crooke

Odds don’t usually favor dramatic change, because today usually looks pretty much like yesterday, and tomorrow usually looks pretty much like today. However, the odds favor a rather dramatic realigment in the Middle East that leaves Russia and its allies in a position of strength, and the US in withdrawal. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

The Middle East is metamorphosing. New fault-lines are emerging, yet Trump’s foreign policy ‘hawks’ still try to stage ‘old movies’ in a new ‘theatre’.

The ‘old movie’ is for the US to ‘stand up’ Sunni, Arab states, and lead them towards confronting ‘bad actor’ Iran. ‘Team Bolton’ is reverting back to the old 1996 Clean Break script – as if nothing has changed. State Department officials have been briefing that Secretary Pompeo’s address in Cairo on Thursday was “ slated to tell his audience (although he may not name the former president), that Obama misled the people of the Middle East about the true source of terrorism, including what contributed to the rise of the Islamic State. Pompeo will insist that Iran, a country Obama tried to engage, is the real terrorist culprit. The speech’s drafts also have Pompeo suggesting that Iran could learn from the Saudis about human rights, and the rule of law.”

Well, at least that speech should raise a chuckle around the region. In practice however, the regional fault-line has moved on: It is no longer so much Iran. GCC States have a new agenda, and are now far more concerned to contain Turkey, and to put a halt to Turkish influence spreading throughout the Levant. GCC states fear that President Erdogan, given the emotional and psychological wave of antipathy unleashed by the Khashoggi murder, may be mobilising newly re-energised Muslim Brotherhood, Gulf networks. The aim being to leverage present Gulf economic woes, and the general hollowing out of any broader GCC ‘vision’, in order to undercut the rigid Gulf ‘Arab system’ (tribal monarchy). The Brotherhood favours a soft Islamist reform of the Gulf monarchies – along lines, such as that once advocated by Jamal Khashoggi .

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Psychoanalysing NATO: The Diagnosis, by Patrick Armstrong

NATO and its US puppet-master are bat-shit crazy. From Patrick Armstrong at strategic-culture.org:

In previous essays I argued that NATO tries to distract our attention from its crimes by accusing Russia of those crimes: this is “projection“. NATO manipulates its audience into thinking the unreal is real: this is “gaslighting“. NATO sees what it expects to see – Moscow’s statements that they will respond to medium range missiles emplaced next door are re-jigged as the “threats” which justify NATO’s earlier act: this is “confirmation bias“. And, finally, NATO thinks Russia is so weak it’s doomed and so strong that it is destroying the tranquillity of NATOLand: this is a sort of geopolitical “schizophrenia“. (I must acknowledge Bryan MacDonald’s marvellous neologism of Russophrenia – a condition where the sufferer believes Russia is both about to collapse, and take over the world.)

I wrote the series partly to amuse the reader but with a serious purpose as well. And that serious purpose is to illustrate the absurdities that NATO expects us to believe. NATO here being understood as sometimes the headquarters “international staff”, sometimes all members in solemn conclave, sometimes some NATO members and associates. “NATO” has become a remarkably flexible concept: Libya was a NATO operation, even though Germany kept out of itSomalia was not a NATO operation even though Germany was in it. Canada, a founding NATO member, was in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. Some interventions are NATO, others aren’t. The NATO alliance today is a box of spare parts from which Washington assembles its “coalitions of the willing”. It’s Washington’s beard.

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Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the U.K. What Comes Next? by Glenn Greenwald

If Ecuador turn Julian Assange over to the UK, the question becomes what the UK will do with him, specifically, will they turn him over to the US? From Glenn Greenwald at theintercept.com:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses the media holding a printed report of the judgement of the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on his case from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in central London on February 5, 2016.During a press conference on February 5 Julian Assange, speaking via video-link, called for Britain and Sweden to "implement" a UN panel finding saying that he should be able to walk free from Ecuador's embassy, where he has lived in self-imposed confinement since 2012. / AFP / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images

ECUADOR’S PRESIDENT Lenin Moreno traveled to London on Friday for the ostensible purpose of speaking at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit (Moreno has been using a wheelchair since being shot in a 1998 robbery attempt). The concealed, actual purpose of the president’s trip is to meet with British officials to finalize an agreement under which Ecuador will withdraw its asylum protection of Julian Assange, in place since 2012, eject him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and then hand over the WikiLeaks founder to British authorities.

Moreno’s itinerary also notably includes a trip to Madrid, where he will meet with Spanish officials still seething over Assange’s denunciation of human rights abuses perpetrated by Spain’s central government against protesters marching for Catalonian independence. Almost three months ago, Ecuador blocked Assange from accessing the internet, and Assange has not been able to communicate with the outside world ever since. The primary factor in Ecuador’s decision to silence him was Spanish anger over Assange’s tweets about Catalonia.

Presidential decree signed on July 17 by Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, outlining his trip to London and Madrid.

A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the president’s office, unauthorized to speak publicly, has confirmed to The Intercept that Moreno is close to finalizing, if he has not already finalized, an agreement to hand over Assange to the U.K. within the next several weeks. The withdrawal of asylum and physical ejection of Assange could come as early as this week. On Friday, RT reported that Ecuador was preparing to enter into such an agreement.

The consequences of such an agreement depend in part on the concessions Ecuador extracts in exchange for withdrawing Assange’s asylum. But as former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told The Intercept in an interview in May, Moreno’s government has returned Ecuador to a highly “subservient” and “submissive” posture toward western governments.

It is thus highly unlikely that Moreno — who has shown himself willing to submit to threats and coercion from the U.K., Spain and the U.S. — will obtain a guarantee that the U.K. not extradite Assange to the U.S., where top Trump officials have vowed to prosecute Assange and destroy WikiLeaks.

The central oddity of Assange’s case — that he has been effectively imprisoned for eight years despite never having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime — is virtually certain to be prolonged once Ecuador hands him over to the U.K. Even under the best-case scenario, it appears highly likely that Assange will continue to be imprisoned by British authorities.

To continue reading: Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the U.K. What Comes Next?

The US Is Not “One Nation” — And it Never Was, by Ryan McMaken

Conservative writers especially like to harken back to a unified, monocultural America that never was. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

Patrick Buchanan is an informative and interesting writer. On foreign policy, especially, he’s long been one of the most reasonable voices among high-level American pundits.

When it comes to cultural matters, however, Buchanan has long held to a peculiar and empirically questionable version of American history in which the United States was once a mono-culture in which everyone was once happily united by “a common religion,” a “common language,” and a “common culture.”

Now, he’s at it again with his most recent column in which he correctly points out that the United States is culturally fractured, and speculates as to whether or not Thomas Jefferson’s call to “dissolve political bands” in the Declaration of Independence might be sound advice today.

Buchanan is correct in noting that the US is culturally divided today.

But, he appears to have a selective view of history when he contends there was a time when this was not so. If there ever was such a period, it’s unclear as to when exactly it was. 

Buchanan can’t be referring to the mid-19th century when Northern states and Southern states were becoming increasingly hostile toward each other. Many of these differences flared up over slavery, but larger cultural differences were there too, exemplified by a divide between agrarian and industrialized culture, and the hierarchical South versus the more populist North. The result was a civil war that killed more than 2 percent of the population. It was a literal bloodbath.

Was that version of the United States culturally united?

Nor can Buchanan possibly be referring to the US of the so-called Gilded Age. After all, during this period, the US was flooded with immigrants from a wide variety of backgrounds, 

Historian Jon Grinspan notes:

American life transformed more radically during the 19th century than it ever had before. Between the 1830s and 1900, America’s population quintupled … at least 18 million immigrants arrived from Europe, more people than had lived in all of America in 1830.

This hardly led to a period of religious or linguistic unity.

To continue reading: The US Is Not “One Nation” — And it Never Was

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