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American Resistance To Empire

Syria–Turkey, Saudi Arabia giving WMDs to ‘terrorists’

Thick smoke rises following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani, Syria

Thick smoke rises following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani, Syria, as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State militants Photo by AP

Syria: Turkey, Saudi Arabia giving WMDs to ‘terrorists’

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Turkey financing and supplying arms to more than 100 militant groups, Syria’s UN envoy says.

 

Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations has accused Turkey and Saudi Arabia of supplying chemical weapons to “terrorist organizations” operating in his country.

Bashar al-Jaafari told a UN committee last week that Turkey and Saudi Arabia should examine their own involvement in the Syrian conflict before making “null and baseless accusations [against] the Syrian government,” Syrian and Iranian news outlets reported.

Jaafari said the two countries are “directly involved in providing these terrorist organizations with chemical weapons.”

He also said they help finance groups trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, and singled out Turkey for supporting more than 100 militant organizations active in Syria.

Instead of lending “a helping hand to Syria to overcome the crisis…this Turkish government…became one of the main support bases for these terrorist organizations,” Jaafari said, according to Syria’s official news agency, SANA.

He called for all countries that arm militant groups in Syria to be held accountable according to international resolutions.

Jaafari’s remarks come after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden reportedly criticized Turkey earlier this month for allowing militants to cross the border into Syria.

Biden later apologized to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth” of militant groups involved in the Syrian civil war, the White House said in a statement.

Kurds In Kobani Deny Reports of FSA Reinforcement from Turkey

Kurds reject Erdogan report of deal with Syrian rebels to aid besieged Kobani

Reuters

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province October 24, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province October 24, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

 

(Reuters) – A senior Syrian Kurdish official on Friday rejected a report from Turkey’s president that Syrian Kurds had agreed to let Free Syrian Army fighters enter the border town of Kobani to help them push back besieging Islamic State insurgents.

The Free Syrian Army is a term used to describe dozens of armed groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad but with little or no central command. They have been widely outgunned by Islamist insurgents such as Islamic State.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is a leading opponent of Assad and has allowed his more secular, Western-backed opponents such as FSA fighters to use Turkey as a base and sanctuary.

Erdogan said on Friday said 1,300 FSA fighters would enter Kobani after the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) agreed on their passage, but his comments were swiftly denied by Saleh Moslem, co-chair of the PYD.

“We have already established a connection with FSA but no such agreement has been reached yet as Mr. Erdogan has mentioned,” Moslem told Reuters by telephone from Brussels.

Turkey’s unwillingness to send its powerful army across the Syrian border to break the siege of Kobani has angered Kurds, and seems rooted in a concern not to strengthen Kurds who seek autonomy in adjoining regions of Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

Ankara’s stance has also upset Western allies, as Islamic State’s capture of wide swathes of Syria and Iraq has caused international shock and U.S.-led air strikes began in August to try to halt and eventually reverse the jihadist advance.

Erdogan told a news conference on a visit to Estonia that Ankara was working on details of the route of passage for the FSA fighters, indicating they would access Kobani via Turkey.

But Moslem said talks between FSA commander Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi and the armed wing of the Kurdish PYD were continuing about the possible role of FSA rebels. “There are already groups with links to the FSA in Kobani helping us,” he said.

The FSA, however, is little more than an acronym used to describe dozens of tenuously affiliated rebel groups who complain of a lack of arms and resources leaving them unable to effectively confront Assad and better-armed Islamist rebels.

Moslem said the FSA would be more helpful if it opened a second front against Islamic State elsewhere in Syria. “Politically we have no objections to FSA….But in my opinion, if they really would like to help, then their forces should open another front, such as from Tel Abyad or Jarablus,” he said.

He was referring to two nearby Syrian border towns captured by Islamic State as part of its lightning military campaign in which it has beheaded or crucified prisoners, massacred non-Sunni Muslim civilians in its path and declared a mediaeval-style caliphate spanning eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq.

FSA commander Al-Oqaidi, speaking to Reuters in Suruc, a Turkish border town across from Kobani, said there had been an agreement to begin establishing a united defense force and initially 1,350 FSA fighters were to go to Kobani for help.

“These fighters will come in two or three days,” he said.

“The fighters will come from the northern Syrian countryside. These fighters are not coming from the fighting fronts against the Assad regime. These are reserve fighters.”

U.S. officials said on Thursday that Kobani, nestled in a valley overlooked by Turkish territory, seemed in less danger of falling to Islamic State after coalition air strikes and limited arms drops, but the threat remained.

Turkey has been loath to join the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State but, after mounting pressure from its Western allies, Erdogan said on Wednesday that some Kurdish peshmerga fighters from Iraq would be allowed to transit Turkey to Kobani.

CREDIBILITY TEST

Although Turkish and U.S. officials acknowledge Kobani itself is not especially strategically important, the fate of the town has become a credibility test of the international coalition’s response to Islamic State.

Over the weekend, U.S. warplanes air-dropped small arms to Kobani’s defenders, against the wishes of Turkish authorities who have described them as terrorists because of their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long separatist insurgency in Turkey.

The PYD’s Moslem said he was disappointed with Turkey’s response so far. “When I conducted my meetings in Turkey, I was hoping the help would come in 24 hours. It’s been more than a month and we’re still waiting,” he said.

In a separate interview published in a pan-Arab newspaper, Moslem said that the battle for Kobani would turn into a war of attrition unless Kurds obtained arms that can repel tanks and armored vehicles.

He told Asharq al-Awsat that Kurds had recently received information that Islamic State wanted to fire chemical weapons into Kobani using mortars, after having surrounded it with around 40 tanks.

“If we were to receive qualitative (stronger) weapons, we would be able to hit the tanks and armored vehicles that they use – we may be able to bring a qualitative change in the battle,” Moslem said.

The FSA’s al-Oqaidi echoed Moslem’s call for better weapons, saying that FSA fighters had only light arms. “Our main problem is not numbers of the fighters but the quality of weapons…The fighters in Kobani need good quality weapons too.”

Elsewhere in Syria’s civil war, government forces retook a town on the highway linking Hama and Aleppo cities in the west of the country after months of battles with insurgents, Damascus state television and a monitoring group said.

The recapture of Morek, 30 km (19 miles) north of Hama, is part of Assad’s campaign to shore up control of territory in the west stretching north from Damascus while U.S.-led forces bomb Islamist militants in the north and east.

(Additional reporting by Dasha Afanasieva in Suruc, Turkey, Ece Toksabay and Jonny Hogg in Istanbul, Tom Perry in Beirut; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

China Creates International Development Bank, To Compete with World Bank

China devel bank

President Xi Jinping of China met with government officials on Friday to sign a memorandum to start the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Takaki Yajima-Pool/Getty Images

China Signs Agreement With 20 Other Nations to Establish International Development Bank

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BEIJING — China and 20 other countries signed a memorandum Friday agreeing to start an international development bank that Beijing hopes will rival organizations like the World Bank. But some important Asian economies refrained from joining the project, which the United States has been quietly lobbying against.

Japan, Australia, South Korea and Indonesia were not represented at the signing ceremony in Beijing for the bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. India did join the bank, as did Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, news agencies reported.

The development bank, proposed a year ago by President Xi Jinping of China, is to offer financing for infrastructure projects in underdeveloped countries across Asia. China, which has promised to contribute much of the initial $50 billion in capital, sees it as a way to increase its influence in the region after years of fruitless lobbying for more say in other multinational lending organizations.

But the United States has campaigned against the project with allies like Australia and South Korea, characterizing it as an attempt to undercut the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which are dominated by the United States and Japan.

Mr. Xi, meeting with representatives of the founding members following the signing ceremony, said that the new bank “will help to improve global financial governance,” according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency.

He also said that all countries were welcome to join the bank, which should work together with existing multilateral organizations, Xinhua reported.

Australia has yet to make a final decision on joining the bank, Gemma Daley, a spokeswoman for Joe Hockey, the Australian treasurer, said Friday. The South Korean finance minister, Choi Kyung-hwan, said earlier this week that Seoul was willing to participate if certain conditions were met, such as a commitment to meet international standards on issues like the environmental impact of projects funded by the bank. “If such issues are resolved, there will be no reason for us not to join” the bank, Mr. Choi said Wednesday.

Still, the countries’ absence Friday was a blow to the project.

Chinese officials have said that the bank is designed to complement existing lending organizations, not to compete with them. In March, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said the bank would “mainly focus on infrastructure construction,” whereas the World Bank and Asian Development Bank “put their priorities more on poverty reduction.”

The Asian Development Bank’s president, Takehiko Nakao, disputed that Thursday. “There’s a misunderstanding that the A.D.B. is for poverty reduction and the A.I.I.B. is for infrastructure, but the majority of our banking is to infrastructure,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

Mr. Lou, the finance minister, said at the Friday ceremony that the bank’s headquarters would be in Beijing.

China already directly finances many infrastructure projects in the developing world, and many Chinese analysts see the bank as a sensible next step.

Wang Yong, director of Peking University’s Center for International Political Economy Research, said it was “very natural” for China to work with other countries to “fill the investment gap in infrastructure,” which he called “tremendous.” The Asian Development Bank estimated in 2009 that the region would need about $8 trillion in infrastructure investment by 2020.

Mr. Wang said that the United States and some of its allies were concerned “for understandable reasons” about “the increasing influence of China in the Asia Pacific.”

Zha Daojiong, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said projects funded by the bank could be less prone to corruption than ones financed directly by China.

“Good old-fashioned aid, with China doing everything by itself, meaning Chinese money, Chinese companies, Chinese construction materials and even Chinese workers — frankly speaking, that is an invitation to malpractice and outright corruption,” Mr. Zha said.

Capitalism–The Zombie System

The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off the Rails

der spiegel

By Michael Sauga

Photo Gallery: The Deline of Capitalism?
Six years after the Lehman disaster, the industrialized world is suffering from Japan Syndrome. Growth is minimal, another crash may be brewing and the gulf between rich and poor continues to widen. Can the global economy reinvent itself?

A new buzzword is circulating in the world’s convention centers and auditoriums. It can be heard at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund. Bankers sprinkle it into the presentations; politicians use it leave an impression on discussion panels.

ANZEIGE

The buzzword is “inclusion” and it refers to a trait that Western industrialized nations seem to be on the verge of losing: the ability to allow as many layers of society as possible to benefit from economic advancement and participate in political life.The term is now even being used at meetings of a more exclusive character, as was the case in London in May. Some 250 wealthy and extremely wealthy individuals, from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to Unilever CEO Paul Polman, gathered in a venerable castle on the Thames River to lament the fact that in today’s capitalism, there is too little left over for the lower income classes. Former US President Bill Clinton found fault with the “uneven distribution of opportunity,” while IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde was critical of the numerous financial scandals. The hostess of the meeting, investor and bank heir Lynn Forester de Rothschild, said she was concerned about social cohesion, noting that citizens had “lost confidence in their governments.”

It isn’t necessary, of course, to attend the London conference on “inclusive capitalism” to realize that industrialized countries have a problem. When the Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago, the West’s liberal economic and social order seemed on the verge of an unstoppable march of triumph. Communism had failed, politicians worldwide were singing the praises of deregulated markets and US political scientist Francis Fukuyama was invoking the “end of history.”

Today, no one talks anymore about the beneficial effects of unimpeded capital movement. Today’s issue is “secular stagnation,” as former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers puts it. The American economy isn’t growing even half as quickly as did in the 1990s. Japan has become the sick man of Asia. And Europe is sinking into a recession that has begun to slow down the German export machine and threaten prosperity.

Capitalism in the 21st century is a capitalism of uncertainty, as became evident once again last week. All it took were a few disappointing US trade figures and suddenly markets plunged worldwide, from the American bond market to crude oil trading. It seemed only fitting that the turbulence also affected the bonds of the country that has long been seen as an indicator of jitters: Greece. The financial papers called it a “flash crash.”

Running Out of Ammunition

Politicians and business leaders everywhere are now calling for new growth initiatives, but the governments’ arsenals are empty. The billions spent on economic stimulus packages following the financial crisis have created mountains of debt in most industrialized countries and they now lack funds for new spending programs.

Central banks are also running out of ammunition. They have pushed interest rates close to zero and have spent hundreds of billions to buy government bonds. Yet the vast amounts of money they are pumping into the financial sector isn’t making its way into the economy.

Be it in Japan, Europe or the United States, companies are hardly investing in new machinery or factories anymore. Instead, prices are exploding on the global stock, real estate and bond markets, a dangerous boom driven by cheap money, not by sustainable growth. Experts with the Bank for International Settlements have already identified “worrisome signs” of an impending crash in many areas. In addition to creating new risks, the West’s crisis policy is also exacerbating conflicts in the industrialized nations themselves. While workers’ wages are stagnating and traditional savings accounts are yielding almost nothing, the wealthier classes — those that derive most of their income by allowing their money to work for them — are profiting handsomely.

According to the latest Global Wealth Report by the Boston Consulting Group, worldwide private wealth grew by about 15 percent last year, almost twice as fast as in the 12 months previous.

The data expose a dangerous malfunction in capitalism’s engine room. Banks, mutual funds and investment firms used to ensure that citizens’ savings were transformed into technical advances, growth and new jobs. Today they organize the redistribution of social wealth from the bottom to the top. The middle class has also been negatively affected: For years, many average earners have seen their prosperity shrinking instead of growing.

Harvard economist Larry Katz rails that US society has come to resemble a deformed and unstable apartment building: The penthouse at the top is getting bigger and bigger, the lower levels are overcrowded, the middle levels are full of empty apartments and the elevator has stopped working.

‘Wider and Wider’

It’s no wonder, then, that people can no longer get much out of the system. According to polls by the Allensbach Institute, only one in five Germans believes economic conditions in Germany are “fair.” Almost 90 percent feel that the gap between rich and poor is “getting wider and wider.”

In this sense, the crisis of capitalism has turned into a crisis of democracy. Many feel that their countries are no longer being governed by parliaments and legislatures, but by bank lobbyists, which apply the logic of suicide bombers to secure their privileges: Either they are rescued or they drag the entire sector to its death.

It isn’t surprising that this situation reinforces the arguments of leftist economists like distribution critic Thomas Piketty. But even market liberals have begun using terms like the “one-percent society” and “plutocracy.” The chief commentator of the Financial Times, Martin Wolf, calls the unleashing of the capital markets a “pact with the devil.”

They aren’t alone. Even the system’s insiders are filled with doubt. There is the bank analyst in New York who has become exasperated with banks; the business owner in Switzerland who is calling for higher taxes; the conservative Washington politician who has lost faith in the conservatives; and the private banker in Frankfurt who is at odds with Europe’s supreme monetary authority.

They all convey a deep sense of unease, and some even show a touch of rebellion.


If there is a rock star among global bank analysts, it’s Mike Mayo. The wiry financial expert loves loud ties and tightly cut suits, he can do 35 pull-ups at a time, and he likes it when people call him the “CEO killer.”

The weapons Mayo takes into battle are neatly lined up in his small office on the 15th floor of a New York skyscraper: number-heavy studies about the US banking industry, some as thick as a shoebox and often so revealing that they have enraged industry giants like former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill, or Stan O’Neal in his days as the head of Merrill Lynch. Words of praise from Mayo are met with cheers on the exchanges, but when he says sell, it can send prices tumbling.

Mayo isn’t interested in a particular sector but rather the core of the Western economic system. Karl Marx called banks “the most artificial and most developed product turned out by the capitalist mode of production.” For Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, they were guarantors of progress, which he described as “creative destruction.”

But financial institutions haven’t performed this function in a long time. Before the financial crisis, they were the drivers of the untenable expansion of debt that caused the crash. Now, focused as they are on repairing the damage done, they are inhibiting the recovery. The amount of credit ought to be “six times faster than it has been,” says Mayo. “Banks now aren’t the engines of growth anymore.”Mayo’s words reflect the experience of his 25 years in the industry, a career that sometimes sounds like a plot thought up by John Grisham: the young hero faces off against a mafia-like system.

He was in his late 20s when he arrived on Wall Street, a place he saw as symbolic of both the economic and the moral superiority of capitalism. “I always had this impression,” says Mayo, “that the head of a bank would be the most ethical person and upstanding citizen possible.”

Obama Pushing the World To Embrace American Failure

How To Start A War, And Lose An Empire

zero hedge

CLUBORLOV

A year and a half I wrote an essay on how the US chooses to view Russia, titled The Image of the Enemy. I was living in Russia at the time, and, after observing the American anti-Russian rhetoric and the Russian reaction to it, I made some observations that seemed important at the time. It turns out that I managed to spot an important trend, but given the quick pace of developments since then, these observations are now woefully out of date, and so here is an update.

by Dmitry Orlov via Club Orlov blog,

At that time the stakes weren’t very high yet. There was much noise around a fellow named Magnitsky, a corporate lawyer-crook who got caught and died in pretrial custody. He had been holding items for some bigger Western crooks, who were, of course, never apprehended. The Americans chose to treat this as a human rights violation and responded with the so-called “Magnitsky Act” which sanctioned certain Russian individuals who were labeled as human rights violators. Russian legislators responded with the “Dima Yakovlev Bill,” named after a Russian orphan adopted by Americans who killed him by leaving him in a locked car for nine hours. This bill banned American orphan-killing fiends from adopting any more Russian orphans. It all amounted to a silly bit of melodrama.

But what a difference a year and a half has made! Ukraine, which was at that time collapsing at about the same steady pace as it had been ever since its independence two decades ago, is now truly a defunct state, with its economy in free-fall, one region gone and two more in open rebellion, much of the country terrorized by oligarch-funded death squads, and some American-anointed puppets nominally in charge but quaking in their boots about what’s coming next. Syria and Iraq, which were then at a low simmer, have since erupted into full-blown war, with large parts of both now under the control of the Islamic Caliphate, which was formed with help from the US, was armed with US-made weapons via the Iraqis. Post-Qaddafi Libya seems to be working on establishing an Islamic Caliphate of its own. Against this backdrop of profound foreign US foreign policy failure, the US recently saw it fit to accuse Russia of having troops “on NATO’s doorstep,” as if this had nothing to do with the fact that NATO has expanded east, all the way to Russia’s borders. Unsurprisingly, US–Russia relations have now reached a point where the Russians saw it fit to issue a stern warning: further Western attempts at blackmailing them may result in a nuclear confrontation.

The American behavior throughout this succession of defeats has been remarkably consistent, with the constant element being their flat refusal to deal with reality in any way, shape or form. Just as before, in Syria the Americans are ever looking for moderate, pro-Western Islamists, who want to do what the Americans want (topple the government of Bashar al Assad) but will stop short of going on to destroy all the infidel invaders they can get their hands on. The fact that such moderate, pro-Western Islamists do not seem to exist does not affect American strategy in the region in any way.

Similarly, in Ukraine, the fact that the heavy American investment in “freedom and democracy,” or “open society,” or what have you, has produced a government dominated by fascists and a civil war is, according to the Americans, just some Russian propaganda. Parading under the banner of Hitler’s Ukrainian SS division and anointing Nazi collaborators as national heroes is just not convincing enough for them. What do these Nazis have to do to prove that they are Nazis, build some ovens and roast some Jews? Just massacring people by setting fire to a building, as they did in Odessa, or shooting unarmed civilians in the back and tossing them into mass graves, as they did in Donetsk, doesn’t seem to work. The fact that many people have refused to be ruled by Nazi thugs and have successfully resisted them has caused the Americans to label them as “pro-Russian separatists.” This, in turn, was used to blame the troubles in Ukraine on Russia, and to impose sanctions on Russia. The sanctions would be reviewed if Russia were to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Trouble is, there are no Russian troops in Ukraine.

Note that this sort of behavior is nothing new. The Americans invaded Afghanistan because the Taleban would not relinquish Osama Bin Laden (who was a CIA operative) unless Americans produced evidence implicating him in 9/11—which did not exist. Americans invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein would not relinquish his weapons of mass destruction—which did not exist. They invaded Libya because Muammar Qaddafi would not relinquish official positions—which he did not hold. They were ready to invade Syria because Bashar al Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people—which he did not do. And now they imposed sanctions on Russia because Russia had destabilized and invaded Ukraine—which it did not do either. (The US did that.)

The sanctions against Russia have an additional sort of unreality to them, because they “boomerang” and hurt the West while giving the Russian government the impetus to do what it wanted to do all along. The sanctions infringed on the rights of a number of Russian businessmen and officials, who promptly yanked their money out of Western banks, pulled their children out of Western schools and universities, and did everything else they could to demonstrate that they are good patriotic Russians, not American lackeys. The sanctions affected a number of Russian energy companies, cutting them off from Western sources of technology and financing, but this will primarily hurt the earnings of Western energy companies while helping their Chinese competitors. There were even some threats to cut Russia off from the SWIFT system, which would have made it quite difficult to transfer funds between Russia and the West, but what these threats did instead was to give Russia the impetus to introduce its own RUSSWIFT system, which will include even Iran, neutralizing future American efforts at imposing financial restrictions.

The sanctions were meant to cause economic damage, but Western efforts at inflicting short-term economic damage on Russia are failing. Coupled with a significant drop in the price of oil, all of this was supposed to hurt Russia fiscally, but since the sanctions caused the Ruble to drop in tandem, the net result on Russia’s state finances is a wash. Oil prices are lower, but then, thanks in part to the sanctions, so is the Ruble, and since oil revenues are still largely in dollars, this means that Russia’s tax receipts are at roughly the same level at before. And since Russian oil companies earn dollars abroad but spend rubles domestically, their production budgets remain unaffected.

The Russians also responded by imposing some counter-sanctions, and to take some quick steps to neutralize the effect of the sanctions on them. Russia banned the import of produce from the European Union—to the horror of farmers there. Especially hurt were those EU members who are especially anti-Russian: the Baltic states, which swiftly lost a large fraction of their GDP, along with Poland. An exception is being made for Serbia, which refused to join in the sanctions. Here, the message is simple: friendships that have lasted many centuries matter; what the Americans want is not what the Americans get; and the EU is a mere piece of paper. Thus, the counter-sanctions are driving wedges between the US and the EU, and, within the EU, between Eastern Europe (which the sanctions are hurting the most) and Western Europe, and, most importantly, they drive home the simple message that the US is not Europe’s friend.

There is something else going on that is going to become more significant in the long run: Russia has taken the hint and is turning away from the West and toward the East. It is parlaying its open defiance of American attempts at world domination into trade relationships throughout the world, much of which is sick and tired of paying tribute to Washington. Russia is playing a key role in putting together an international banking system that circumvents the US dollar and the US Federal Reserve. In these efforts, over half the world’s territory and population is squarely on Russia’s side and cheering loudly. Thus, the effort to isolate Russia has produced the opposite of the intended result: it is isolating the West from the rest of the world instead.

In other ways, the sanctions are actually being helpful. The import ban on foodstuffs from EU is a positive boon to domestic agriculture while driving home a politically important point: don’t take food from the hands of those who bite you. Russia is already one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and there is no reason why it can’t become entirely self-sufficient in food. The impetus to rearm in the face of NATO encroachment on Russian borders (there are now US troops stationed in Estonia, just a short drive from Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg) is providing some needed stimulus for industrial redevelopment. This round of military spending is being planned a bit more intelligently than in the Soviet days, with eventual civilian conversion being part of the plan from the very outset. Thus, along with the world’s best jet fighters, Russia is likely to start building civilian aircraft for export and competing with Airbus and Boeing.

But this is only the beginning. The Russians seem to have finally realized to what extent the playing field has been slanted against them. They have been forced to play by Washington’s rules in two key ways: by bending to Washington’s will in order to keep their credit ratings high with the three key Western credit rating agencies, in order to secure access to Western credit; and by playing by the Western rule-book when issuing credit of their own, thus keeping domestic interest rates artificially high. The result was that US companies were able to finance their operations more cheaply, artificially making them more competitive. But now, as Russia works quickly to get out from under the US dollar, shifting trade to bilateral currency arrangements (backed by some amount of gold should trade imbalances develop) it is also looking for ways to turn the printing press to its advantage. To date, the dictat handed down from Washington has been: “We can print money all we like, but you can’t, or we will destroy you.” But this threat is ringing increasingly hollow, and Russia will no longer be using its dollar revenues to buy up US debt. One proposal currently on the table is to make it impossible to pay for Russian oil exports with anything other than rubles, by establishing two oil brokerages, one in St. Petersburg, the other, seven time zones away, in Vladivostok. Foreign oil buyers would then have to earn their petro-rubles the honest way—through bilateral trade—or, if they can’t make enough stuff that the Russians want to import, they could pay for oil with gold (while supplies last). Or the Russians could simply print rubles, and, to make sure such printing does not cause domestic inflation, they could export some inflation by playing with the oil spigot and the oil export tariffs. And if the likes of George Soros decides to attack the ruble in an effort to devalue it, Russia could defend its currency simply by printing fewer rubles for a while—no need to stockpile dollar reserves.

So far, this all seems like typical economic warfare: the Americans want to get everything they want by printing money while bombing into submission or sanctioning anyone who disobeys them, while the rest of the world attempts to resist them. But early in 2014 the situation changed. There was a US-instigated coup in Kiev, and instead of rolling over and playing dead like they were supposed to, the Russians mounted a fast and brilliantly successful campaign to regain Crimea, then successfully checkmated the junta in Kiev, preventing it from consolidating control over the remaining former Ukrainian territory by letting volunteers, weapons, equipment and humanitarian aid enter—and hundreds of thousands of refugees exit—through the strictly notional Russian-Ukrainian border, all the while avoiding direct military confrontation with NATO. Seeing all of this happening on the nightly news has awakened the Russian population from its political slumber, making it sit up and pay attention, and sending Putin’s approval rating through the roof.

The “optics” of all this, as they like to say at the White House, are rather ominous. We are coming up on the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II—a momentous occasion for Russians, who pride themselves on defeating Hitler almost single-handedly. At the same time, the US (Russia’s self-appointed arch-enemy) has taken this opportunity to reawaken and feed the monster of Nazism right on Russia’s border (inside Russia’s borders, some Russians/Ukrainians would say). This, in turn, makes the Russians remember Russia’s unique historical mission is among the nations of the world: it is to thwart all other nations’ attempts at world domination, be it Napoleonic France or Hitleresque Germany or Obamaniac America. Every century or so some nation forgets its history lessons and attacks Russia. The result is always the same: lots of corpse-studded snowdrifts, and then Russian cavalry galloping into Paris, or Russian tanks rolling into Berlin. Who knows how it will end this time around? Perhaps it will involve polite, well-armed men in green uniforms without insignia patrolling the streets of Brussels and Washington, DC. Only time will tell.

You’d think that Obama has already overplayed his hand, and should behave accordingly. His popularity at home is roughly the inverse of Putin’s, which is to say, Obama is still more popular than Ebola, but not by much. He can’t get anything at all done, no matter how pointless or futile, and his efforts to date, at home and abroad, have been pretty much a disaster. So what does this social worker turned national mascot decide to do? Well, the way the Russians see it, he has decided to declare war on Russia! In case you missed it, look up his speech before the UN General Assembly. It’s up on the White House web site. He placed Russia directly between Ebola and ISIS among the three topmost threats facing the world. Through Russian eyes his speech reads as a declaration of war.

It’s a new, mixed-mode sort of war. It’s not a total war to the death, although the US is being rather incautious by the old Cold War standards in avoiding a nuclear confrontation. It’s an information war—based on lies and unjust vilification; it’s a financial and economic war—using sanctions; it’s a political war—featuring violent overthrow of elected governments and support for hostile regimes on Russia’s borders; and it’s a military war—using ineffectual but nevertheless insulting moves such as stationing a handful of US troops in Estonia. And the goals of this war are clear: it is to undermine Russia economically, destroy it politically, dismember it geographically, and turn it into a pliant vassal state that furnishes natural resources to the West practically free of charge (with a few hand-outs to a handful of Russian oligarchs and criminal thugs who play ball). But it doesn’t look like any of that is going to happen because, you see, a lot of Russians actually get all that, and will choose leaders who will not win any popularity contests in the West but who will lead them to victory.

Given the realization that the US and Russia are, like it or not, in a state of war, no matter how opaque or muddled, people in Russia are trying to understand why this is and what it means. Obviously, the US has seen Russia as the enemy since about the time of the Revolution of 1917, if not earlier. For example, it is known that after the end of World War II America’s military planners were thinking of launching a nuclear strike against the USSR, and the only thing that held them back was the fact that they didn’t have enough bombs, meaning that Russia would have taken over all of Europe before the effects of the nuclear strikes could have deterred them from doing so (Russia had no nuclear weapons at the time, but lots of conventional forces right in the heart of Europe).

But why has war been declared now, and why was it declared by this social worker turned national misleader? Some keen observers mentioned his slogan “the audacity of hope,” and ventured to guess that this sort of “audaciousness” (which in Russian sounds a lot like “folly”) might be a key part of his character which makes him want to be the leader of the universe, like Napoleon or Hitler. Others looked up the campaign gibberish from his first presidential election (which got silly young Americans so fired up) and discovered that he had nice things to say about various cold warriors. Do you think Obama might perhaps be a scholar of history and a shrewd geopolitician in his own right? (That question usually gets a laugh, because most people know that he is just a chucklehead and repeats whatever his advisers tell him to say.) Hugo Chavez once called him “a hostage in the White House,” and he wasn’t too far off. So, why are his advisers so eager to go to war with Russia, right now, this year?

Is it because the US is collapsing more rapidly than most people can imagine? This line of reasoning goes like this: the American scheme of world domination through military aggression and unlimited money-printing is failing before our eyes. The public has no interest in any more “boots on the ground,” bombing campaigns do nothing to reign in militants that Americans themselves helped organize and equip, dollar hegemony is slipping away with each passing day, and the Federal Reserve is fresh out of magic bullets and faces a choice between crashing the stock market and crashing the bond market. In order to stop, or at least forestall this downward slide into financial/economic/political oblivion, the US must move quickly to undermine every competing economy in the world through whatever means it has left at its disposal, be it a bombing campaign, a revolution or a pandemic (although this last one can be a bit hard to keep under control). Russia is an obvious target, because it is the only country in the world that has had the gumption to actually show international leadership in confronting the US and wrestling it down; therefore, Russia must be punished first, to keep the others in line.

I don’t disagree with this line of reasoning, but I do want to add something to it.

First, the American offensive against Russia, along with most of the rest of the world, is about things Americans like to call “facts on the ground,” and these take time to create. The world wasn’t made in a day, and it can’t be destroyed in a day (unless you use nuclear weapons, but then there is no winning strategy for anyone, the US included). But the entire financial house of cards can be destroyed rather quickly, and here Russia can achieve a lot while risking little. Financially, Russia’s position is so solid that even the three Western credit ratings agencies don’t have the gall to downgrade Russia’s rating, sanctions notwithstanding. This is a country that is aggressively paying down its foreign debt, is running a record-high budget surplus, has a positive balance of payments, is piling up physical gold reserves, and not a month goes by that it doesn’t sign a major international trade deal (that circumvents the US dollar). In comparison, the US is a dead man walking: unless it can continue rolling over trillions of dollars in short-term debt every month at record-low interest rates, it won’t be able to pay the interest on its debt or its bills. Good-bye, welfare state, hello riots. Good-bye military contractors and federal law enforcement, hello mayhem and open borders. Now, changing “facts on the ground” requires physical actions, whereas causing a financial stampede to the exits just requires somebody to yell “Boo!” loudly and frighteningly enough.

Second, it must be understood that at this point the American ruling elite is almost entirely senile. The older ones seem actually senile in the medical sense. Take Leon Panetta, the former Defense Secretary: he’s been out flogging his new book, and he is still blaming Syria’s Bashar al Assad for gassing his own people! By now everybody else knows that that was a false flag attack, carried out by some clueless Syrian rebels with Saudi help, to be used as an excuse for the US to bomb Syria—you know, the old “weapons of mass destruction” nonsense again. (By the way, this kind of mindless, repetitive insistence on a fake rationale seems like a sure sign of senility.) That plan didn’t work because Putin and Lavrov intervened and quickly convinced Assad to give up his useless chemical weapons stockpile. The Americans were livid. So, everybody knows this story—except Panetta. You see, once an American official starts lying, he just doesn’t know how to stop. The story always starts with a lie, and, as facts emerge that contradict the initial story, they are simply ignored.

So much for the senile old guard, but what about their replacements? Well, the poster boy for the young ones is Hunter Biden, the VP’s son, who went on a hookers-and-blow tour of Ukraine last summer and inadvertently landed a seat on the board of directors of Ukraine’s largest natural gas company (which doesn’t have much gas left). He just got outed for being a coke fiend. In addition to the many pre-anointed ones, like the VP’s son, there are also many barns full of eagerly bleating Ivy League graduates who have been groomed for jobs in high places. These are Prof. Deresiewicz’s “Excellent Sheep.”

There just isn’t much that such people, young or old, can be made to respond to. International embarrassment, military defeat, humanitarian catastrophe—all these things just bounce off them and stick to you for bringing them up and being overly negative about their rose-colored view of themselves. The only hit they can actually feel is a hit to the pocketbook.

Which brings us all the way back to my first point: “Boo!”

Canadian Parliament Attacker was Son of Libyan Muslim Jihadist

Canadian Parliament Attacker was Son of Libyan Muslim Jihadist

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While Zehaf-Bibeau is still being referred to as a Muslim convert, it appears that he is the son of a mixed marriage between a Canadian woman and a Libyan father.

He was a Muslim who was raised Western, but returned to his father’s religion.

Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999.

The irony of that marriage is obvious. And its product is the story of the death of the West.

His father’s history offers a hint of what Mr. Bathurst was concerned about. In 2011, a Montrealer named “Belgasem Zahef” was quoted in a Washington Times dispatch from the front in Libya, where he had travelled to join the rebel fight. The man described being detained at the Zawiyah oil terminal, where he witnessed torture.

This story, like most mainstream media accounts, is already infested with the accounts of Bathurst, another defector to Islam, who claims that Zehaf was mentally ill. That may or may not be the case. It’s certainly a convenient excuse. Claiming that the devil is after you may be considered mental illness in Western circles, but not in Muslim ones where stoning the devil is part of the pilgrimage to Mecca.

More to the point, Zahef did not carry out an attack against the Canadian government because he was mentally ill. He did it because he followed the call of ISIS to Jihad. We might as well dismiss Hitler as mentally ill and the invasion of Poland as a mental breakdown.

There are few details on Zehaf Sr. or who he was aligned with, but considering that the Libyan Civil War was dominated by Islamist militias, it probably wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that this is a case of, like father, like son.

Chinese/Iranian Navies Working Together, Run Joint Maneuvers

[SEE:  China Cuts Back On Saudi Oil Imports]

China's Defense Minister Chang Wanquan looks on during the welcoming ceremony in Warsaw, Poland.

China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquan looks on during the welcoming ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Photo by AP

China seeking closer military ties with Iran

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Earlier this week, two Chinese warships docked for the first time at Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to take part in joint naval exercises.

By Parisa Hafezi, Ben Blanchard

REUTERS – China wants to have closer military ties with Iran, the Chinese defence minister told the visiting head of the Iranian navy on Thursday, state media reported, reaffirming diplomatic links despite controversy over Iran’s nuclear plans.

Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan told Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari that the two armed forces have seen “good cooperation on mutual visits, personnel training and other fields in recent years,” China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

“Exchanges between the two navies have been fruitful and their warships have paid successful visits to each other,” it cited Chang as saying.

“Chang… stressed China is willing to work with Iran to further pragmatic cooperation and strengthen military-to-military ties.”

Xinhua cited Sayyari as saying Iran attached great importance to its ties with China and was “ready to enhance bilateral exchanges to push forward cooperation between the two armed forces, especially in naval cooperation.”

For the first time ever, two Chinese warships docked at Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to take part in a joint naval exercises in the Gulf, Iranian state media reported on September 20.

Naval cooperation between Iran and China is aimed at reinforcing Iran’s military capability in the Gulf, analysts say, as well as displaying China’s plan to exert greater influence and presence beyond East Asia.

“The [port] call reflects China’s military-to-military relationship with Iran,” said Christian Le Mière, a naval expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank.

“It is the most explicit sign of Beijing’s acknowledgment of this relationship, which has remained relatively covert until now.”

China’s People’s Liberation Army Daily separately reported that Sayyari had been given tours of a Chinese submarine and warships, where he “listened to an introduction on equipment ability and weapons systems.”

Sayyari said he hoped Iran and China could cooperate on anti-piracy operations, the newspaper said.

China is Iran’s top oil buyer and has been the most aggressive in raising its crude purchases after an easing of the Western sanctions aimed at ending Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.

Iran and the United States said last week they made some progress in high-level nuclear talks aimed at reaching a final resolution to the decade-old dispute but that much work remained to clinch a deal by a late-November deadline.

China, a participant at the nuclear talks with Iran, has consistently urged a negotiated solution and decried efforts to place sanctions which have not been endorsed by the United Nations on Iran.

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