OSCE 45 Years On: Time to Regain Prominence – By Arkady SAVITSKY (Strategic Culture Foundation)

OSCE 45 Years On: Time to Regain Prominence
Arkady SAVITSKY | 09.07.2018 | WORLD / Europe

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is holding its 27th Annual Session on 7-11 July 2018 in Berlin. This month the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe marks its 45-year anniversary. It was established as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) in July 1973 to be renamed Organization in 1995. The Helsinki Act adopted by the Conference remains the cornerstone of European security. The Russian and US lawmakers used the event for meeting each other on the sidelines before the upcoming Trump-Putin Helsinki summit scheduled for July 16. The Organization provides a forum for discussions and the opportunity should not be missed.

In the heat of the Cold War, the CSCE served as an inclusive, consensus-based platform for constructive dialogue no matter how adverse the weather was. It’s hard to overestimate the important role the 1975 Helsinki Act played in making Europe a safer place.

Since the 1990s, the OSCE has been declared obsolete numerous times but it is still unique and its raison d’être can hardly be questioned. Reviving the Helsinki spirit and restoring confidence that existed those days should be a top priority at the time the attempts to build a single security system in the Euro-Atlantic area have evidently led to nowhere. The common goal of creating a value-based security community from Vancouver to Vladivostok, envisioned in OSCE documents after the end of the Cold War, has never materialized. Today Europe is divided and unstable, balancing on the brink of slipping into anarchy and a new Cold War.

It has turned into a continent where double standards prevail, color revolutions are staged and sanctions wars are raging, while the idea of US exceptionalism is used to justify violations of international law. But sanctions and violations do not help build security architecture.

The ramifications of instability in the MENA region, triggered to large extent by US and NATO military interventions, pose a serious threat to Europe. The crisis in Ukraine, the Nagorno-Karabakh stand-off, the situation in Kosovo and the status of Transnistria remain unsolved problems.

The OSCE has to large extent lost its role as a security forum able to effectively handle problems. This has happened for a range of reasons, including the NATO eastward expansion, the erosion of treaty-based stability and inability to find solutions to regional conflicts.

The treaties concluded within the OSCE framework are either dead or about to take the final breath. The Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) has become a thing of the past. The Open Skies Treaty is facing an uncertain future.

The turbulent times dictate the need for the OSCE’s notable comeback to turn the tide and strengthen European security. In 2018, Italy chairs the OSCE and the country’s new government can play a positive role in making the Organization reappear on the radar and regain its relevance.

Practical steps can be taken. The 2011 Vienna Document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures (CSBMs) could be updated. The discussions on “Steinmeier Initiative” in the area of conventional arms control could be a start of OSCE-brokered process. In 2008, Russia submitted for OSCE consideration the draft Treaty on European Security. It was largely ignored by Western nations and swept under the rug as time dragged by. Probably if the attitude had been different then, Europe would have been a much safer place today. Now the German initiative, which is in essence a repetition of what Moscow offered ten years ago, has been waiting to be put on the OSCE agenda since 2016. Is it the right moment for wasting time instead of starting talks?

The ongoing Structured Dialogue (SD) on security challenges is a good step towards the revival of multilateral security dialogue. The Organization can be used as an effective communication channel for more frequent military-to-military contacts to prevent escalation and enhance predictability and transparency. It is especially important in view of fruitless attempts to make the NATO-Russia Council an effective forum for addressing burning security problems. Finally, the OSCE could initiate a new negotiation process with the aim of having a “Helsinki Act II” document signed.

The OSCE needs reforms. Its decision-making process has proven to be ineffective. All decisions are taken by consensus. With so many members, it’s unrealistic. The most complex and important issues are supposed to be discussed at the level of heads of state. There has been no OSCE summit since 2010. The Organization has no Charter. Russia has proposed to prepare one numerous times but the initiative is left hanging in the air.

Not all is doom and gloom. Far from it. The newly formed Italian government led by PM Giuseppe Conte has the reputation of being able to adopt inventive approaches and see things in a new light. It’s full of desire to contribute into making the OSCE an effective multilateral forum able to enhance European security. Swiss diplomat Thomas Greminger, the new OSCE Secretary General, is resolute to get the Organization back to the days of glory. The 25th OSCE Ministerial Council will be held in Milan on 6 and 7 December 2018. There still time to work on new proposals to make the Organization regain its prominence.

Tags: OSCE

Andrés Obrador Becomes President of Mexico: Good Prospects for Russian-Mexican Relations – By Alex GORKA (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Andrés Obrador Becomes President of Mexico: Good Prospects for Russian-Mexican Relations
Alex GORKA | 04.07.2018 | WORLD / Americas

Until now, it has been generally believed that the era of left rulers in Latin America was over. In December 2017, Sebastián Piñera of the National Renewal party, won in Chile after right-wing forces came to power in Argentina (2015) and Brazil (2016). Three leading economies of the continent had right-wing governments. It all changed on July 1 with the sweeping victory held by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the candidate representing the country’s Left. His party Morena, the National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento Regeneración Nacional), was formed only in 2014 to lead Obrador to victory over other candidates from political parties that have ruled the country for the entire century. Now he has enough power for implementing drastic changes. The Mexican revolution took place 101 years ago. This is the first time the Left have come to power.

One of the president-elect’s promises was standing up to Donald Trump if need be. His election is a blow to the United States influence in Latin America. The US and newly elected Mexican presidents don’t see eye-to-eye on NAFTA, bilateral trade and border security.

During the race, Obrador had to deny the rumors that originated from the United States, not Mexico, that he had received money from Moscow. As in the course of the 2016 US election, the invented stories were spread around. Then US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said he had seen “signs” of Russia’s meddling into Mexican election campaign. The affirmation was left unconfirmed as the official offered no details but US Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) lost no time to chime in. So did Enrique Ochoa Reza, the chairman of the Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party that lost the election. Rumors remained rumors but media did its part to make people believe the concoctions were true. Andres Obrador used the strongest weapon against lies – humor. He jibed the stories to win even more popular support.

During the 128 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations there were few downturns to cloud Russia’s relations with Mexico, the second most populous nation in Latin America with as estimated population of over 120 million, which boasts the fifteenth largest nominal GDP in the world and the eleventh largest by purchasing power parity. Its economy is strongly linked to NAFTA – the economic union US President Trump wants to end so much, replacing it with separate deals. Perhaps, this is the time for Mexico to diversify its economic partners. Russia, China and other BRICS nations can offer a good alternative to the rocky relationship with the northern partner having become so unpredictable recently. Obrador’s victory may provide an impetus to the development of Russian-Mexican ties, including energy, security and political interaction on the global stage.

The sanctions imposed by the US and the EU have prompted Moscow to expand contacts with other world economies. Russia has a strong diplomatic presence in such countries as Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and Cuba. Promoting ties with the nations of the region through cooperation with CELAC is one of directions of Moscow’s foreign policy. Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept states that “Russia remains committed to the comprehensive strengthening of relations with the Latin American and Caribbean States taking into account the growing role of this region in global affairs.”

Russia’s strongest trade relationships are Brazil and Mexico, which together account for about half of all of Russian trade in the continent. The Russian twin-engine MC-21 short-to-mid-range airliner with a capacity for between 150-211 passengers offers a potential lucrative deal Mexico has paid interest in. In January, the Mexican Association of Importers and Exporters (ANIERM) opened its trade office in Moscow. Mexico is eager to explore a partnership with Russia to purchase and assemble helicopters. Mi-35M and the Mi-28NE combat helicopters as well as Mi-17 military transport rotary wing aircraft are under consideration. Russia’s Lukoil energy giant has won two tenders to expand its drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Grupo Maseca and Nemak are operating in Russia.

Experts believe that Obrador’s election is a good chance to spur the Russian-Mexican cooperation in all spheres. President Putin also expressed hope that with Andrés Obrador at the helm, the bilateral relationship will get a new impetus. The two leaders will meet at the upcoming G20 summit, scheduled for November 30–December 1 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Pepe Escobar: The world – from ‘New York aristocracy’ to the end of US hegemony – By Pepe Escobar (Zero Hedge) (SOTT)

Wall mural

© Hooked/abovetopsecret.com

Brazilian-born journalist Pepe Escobar, who is perhaps best known for predicting the War on Terror in a column he published for the Asia Times just weeks before 9/11, sat down for an interview with Balkan info earlier this month, during which they discussed a wide range of topics, ranging from the Deep State’s role in green lighting President Trump’s rise to power, to the imminent Soviet-style collapse of the US. Along the way, he shared his views on the US’s complex and often adversarial relationships with China and Russia, as well as the hidden motives undergirding the US’s relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The interview began – as these interviews so often do – with an examination of the Trump presidency, with Escobar explaining the dualistic nature of Trump’s unique position as both an “insider” and an “outsider” in US politics.

Trump, Escobar explains, wasn’t born into the Manhattan aristocracy. And though the “Masters of the Universe” – a group that includes the country’s top bankers along with the leaders of the military and intelligence communities – were initially reluctant to embrace him (as were many factions within the Republican Party), they eventually changed their minds once they understood that he would advocate for their interests.

He’s not born in lower Manhattan…and he’s not part of the New York aristocracy, the establishment that’s been there for some 150 to 200 years…he’s still regarded in New York as a wealthy outsider. But in the end, he was accepted by some sectors of the Republican Party – even though they initially didn’t want to accept him – Washington, some sectors of the Republican Party.”
[…]
He was the candidate of the establishment from the beginning, or he was a genuine candidate whose regime has now been disturbed by the Deep State. He was vetoed by the establishment – this is something that people who know how the Deep State works in DC they will tell you always the same thing: You don’t become a candidate for a President of the United States if you are not vetted…by the people who actually run the US.

Trump was vulnerable to this manipulation because he doesn’t have a nuanced enough understanding of geopolitics…which has forced him to rely on advisors whispering in his ear…advisors whose intentions aren’t always working in the best interest of the president, or the American people, for that matter. One example is Trump’s insistence on instigating a trade war between China and the US. While China has many ways to retaliate against the US, as least when it comes to finding markets for their goods, US companies have more options than their Chinese peers.

Trump still doesn’t understand that the retaliation is going to be really huge from the Chinese and they have ways of hurting badly – they even have ways of ratcheting up taxes on products made in the Midwest. But they’re going to lose much more than we do. We have other markets. We export more to Asia, we export more to South America and we export more to Europe.

The conversation then slowly drifted to the Middle East and the US’s long-term ambitions in one of the world’s most politically unstable regions. According to Escobar, the US isn’t merely interested in a partnership with Saudi Arabia – instead, the Deep State’s long-term interest is control of the country’s oil reserves by any means necessary.

If there is really a long-term plan for Saudi Arabia it’s that the Americans want to control Saudi Arabia completely. The ultimate prize would be Saudi Arabia as well, because then they would get all the oil that’s left.

Next up in Escobar’s tour of US interests in Asia and Europe were China and Russia have emerged as the US’s primary geopolitical enemies. Terrorism and North Korea are merely distractions, Escobar contends. China and Russia could potentially bring about the demise of US hegemony – in fact, it’s a cause that both countries are actively working toward. Why? Because the downfall of the US would be in their own economic, in their economic best interest.

China’s role, as the biggest economic threat to the US, is particularly interesting, Escobar contends. But complexities underlying China’s will to dominant geopolitics is lost on most Americans because they simply don’t understand Chinese culture.

Westerns don’t know how China functions because they haven’t read Chinese history. They don’t understand how they view themselves, especially now that they are the second economic power and soon to be the first. This lack of understanding…it’s a mix of hubris…and profound ignorance. Everyone [the US] tries to antagonize, and everyone they brand as enemies, are subject to US propaganda. China and Russia are the top two threats to the US. It’s not terrorism…it’s China and Russia. So everything the military-industrial complex does from here on it’s with an eye toward Russia and China.

But how will Americans know when their homeland’s status as global hegemony is on the verge of collapse? There are a few different paths Escobar believes this process will take, with the most likely outcome being a “Soviet style” collapse following a period of decay – and that process has already begun. There’s also the possibility that the US provokes – and then loses – a “World War” against China and Russia (a possibility that we have previously explored).

There are only two ways about it. The first one is a sort of slow decay, which is already happening by the way, and a sort of implosion, Soviet Union-style. The second is they launch a really hard-core war against China or against Russia or against both. And this is obviously the apocalyptic option for all of us, because as we all know the next war is going to be the last one.

Comment: Trump has, at least, the ability to keep everyone guessing. For stodgy, dictated, politically entrenched idealism that America has become vulnerable to, the impulsive, sometimes quirky, sometimes flatly wrong Trump is a shot in the arm. For some, it is energizing. For others, it hurts like hell.

The WSWS, Iran’s economy, the Basij & Revolutionary Shi’ism: an 11-part series – by Ramn Mazaheri for The Saker Blog – (WSWS)

GOLDENTRIANGLE-RUSSIAIRANCHINA

by Ramn Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

In February the WSWS published a three-part series in response to my criticism of their inflammatory coverage of the protests last winter in Iran, and also to try and rebut the entire concept of “Iranian Islamic Socialism”.

I have waited a few months to read it and respond, but I present this 11-part series in order to: explain the undeniably socialist nature of Iran’s economy, give the first leftist examination in the West of the Basij, and to explain how the religious-cultural roots of revolutionary Shi’ism ultimately creating modern Iranian Islamic Socialism.

I apologise for not responding sooner. However, may I please defend myself by reminding that I had just published a 5-part series which gave a People-centered re-history of the Russian Revolution, was on the brink of publishing a 3-part series which analyzed the structure of the fascinating leftist project in Northern Syria, was preparing an 8-part series which aimed to totally contradict the Western perspective on Mao, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward and much else regarding Communist China, and in between I was in Cuba covering their elections from a decidedly leftist perspective (in short: vote cobblers!).

And I also had to do my usual daily hack journalism for PressTV to support the French working class, the Iranian taxpayer and that extremely selfish part of any social class: me, and my opportunist’s desire to pay my bills! And then Ramadan started…but that’s no excuse for not rolling down my sleeves and getting to work on this series – at least it never has been for working-class Muslims. (And contrary to popular belief: Ramadan never hurts, but always helps.)

I also wanted to wait and see what Washington would do with the JCOPA agreement on Iran’s nuclear energy program, as that would dramatically affect any discussion on Iran. Unsurprisingly, the US has maintained their centuries-old policy of not keeping their policies.

I also waited because I focused on a possible silver lining: the obvious injustice of Washington’s decision has – I hope – increased receptivity towards new ideas which analyse Iran sympathetically, instead of so very antagonistically.

Therefore, this series aims to include four things: a response to the WSWS, and one one which provides new ideas, not a mere back-and-forth arguing over the same points of contention; a historical and structural analysis of the Iranian economy, from it’s unique never-colonised era of the Shahs to the modern era, with its totally unique (revolutionary) economic aspects; an analysis of a cultural phenomenon and institution which cannot be ignored, but about which there is almost total Western ignorance – the Basij; and finally an explanation of the religious, philosophical and cultural roots of revolutionary Shi’ism, the dominant ideology of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the modern Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran is in good company: they are unsupported by the WSWS, along with everyone else

When it comes to differences we must start at the end and work backwards, reverse-engineering ourselves into mutual comprehension and cooperation: In the end, the problem is that no revolution exists or has ever existed which was good enough for the WSWS to support, excepting only the Russian Revolution.

So Iran is not alone to be a leftist country which is left hanging at the time of Western “soft war”, as Iran was last winter. In many years of reading the WSWS I have never seen them express genuine support for Iran, Cuba, China, Eritrea, North Korea…anywhere.

What the WSWS does – and what they only do – is condemn capitalism and imperialism. They do it very well, and I’m certainly glad they do it. But we all surely see how such a one-sided approach produces imbalance, and thus a host of subsequent errors.

The WSWS also is politically partisan – they champion the Socialist Equality Party. Iran must be an original sinner to the WSWS, having had their revolution 30 years before this party’s inception. I don’t know what their plans are for starting an Iranian Socialist Equality Party, but they should definitely read this series before launching their recruitment efforts. (And they should be aware that calling for the downfall of the nation is unacceptable and undemocratic sedition which will not be tolerated, much less accepted and then elected.).

“The task of revolutionary socialists is to politically arm the working class in Iran with a socialist and internationalist strategy.”

Daste shoma dar nakoneh – thank you for your troubles (literally: May your hand not hurt). I mean those thanks quite sincerely! But, this series will show how Iranian revolutionaries in the working class – and religious class, and lower class, and other classes – have already shown how very well-armed they are with socialist and international strategies.

The WSWS fails to grasp this.

Their 3-part series also shows that they misunderstand Iran on many fundamental levels. This series hopes to clarify some of their errors.

And since they do not understand it – how can they praise it? Ok, don’t praise us, but I go back to my original complaint in this journalistic back-and-forth: the WSWS was piling on Iran alongside the capitalist-imperialists they swear are not their allies. Never allies…except when it comes to Iran?

However, the WSWS would, in their ivory tower journalism, prefer to see an Iran destroyed in the delusion that destruction from looming imperialists would fantastically result in the world’s first Trotskyist state! It’s not that I begrudge the WSWS their idealist fantasies – I have plenty of my own – but I remain disappointed at their choice of targets, because the fall of Iran would have so many negative ramifications for the anti-imperialist movement in the Middle East, and thus the global anti-imperialist movement, and it certainly would be the cruelest loss for Islamic Socialism, which is taken quite seriously in the Muslim world even if atheistic Trotskyism cannot tolerate the very thought of it.

But those two paragraphs are a boring recap of our old arguments and subjects – I promise new ones from here on out.

The tone readers should expect from this series is one of respect, professionalism & goodwill, and not egoistical sniping or the self-aggrandisement of myself or Iran. The narcissism of small differences is seemingly the biggest obstacle leftists have to overcome, and such tones would be proof of such divisive narcissism. The WSWS, as I said from the very beginning, is on the right side of very many issues in a very brave and admirable fashion.

But if I may permit myself only one snipe in order to show my humanity, much like how every Iranian carpet purposely contains one mistake in order to show that only God is perfect:

I noticed that the WSWS did not fail to reprint and directly quote every single word of praise I gave them, LOL?

That’s not very Iranian of ya, FYI! Maybe you shouldn’t get a big head, because ornately lavishing excessive praise on anything in sight is simply what Iranians are culturally compelled to do, LOL!

However, I do not consider this a very serious snipe at the possible self-aggrandising of the WSWS, because they had the exceptional good manners to acknowledge my compliments as “generous”. And also because I meant every word of praise, and I still do: The WSWS is a real fighter against the imperialist aims of Washington, Paris, London, Tel Aviv and other rabid capitalists.

But the WSWS’s claim, just after kindly acknowledging my inadequate generosity, that they are “the pole of socialist opposition to imperialist aggression and war” is a bit too much – they are only “one pole”.

Despite their fine, informative articles the WSWS has not changed my position nor my support for Iranian Islamic Socialism, which is also one pole of socialist opposition to imperialist aggression and war.

What the WSWS may not realize is that Iranian Islamic Socialism is something which was created entirely without any help from me, but sprang from the Iranian working class. (Or the Iranian 99%, or the Iranian 99% minus the so-called “talented 10th”, or the Iranian People, or the “Iranian proletariat plus their housewives” – as you like, the meaning is clear.)

What the WSWS series has done is mainly this: helped educate people about the role of Iranian communists in the 1979 Islamic Revolution; this series also hopes to educate people about certain uniquely Iranian concepts, structures and facets of history which were greater motivating forces in the 1979 Islamic Revolution than the communist Tudeh Party.

The reason for the first article in their series was to, “…reject their attempts to blackguard opposition to rampant social inequality and capitalist austerity as imperialist subversion.”

The WSWS has taken the reason for opposing the protests which Iran broadcast to other nations as if it was the same reason they broadcast within Iran. That is not the case.

Yes, the government talked about the obvious foreign involvement, but within Iran they also acknowledged repeatedly and loudly that the economic reasons for the protests were justified. Indeed, many politicians made much hay over it. Few Westerners imagine than Iran has a vibrant media, but I can assure everyone that many journalists and politicians had a field day over the protests, raking parts of the government over the coals.

But Iran has been subject to an economic blockade for decades, and thus has been forced to tolerate economic protests since at least way back to 1992. Iran is not like Cuba which (likely due to their closeness to Miami) truly tolerates no protests at all excepting the Ladies in White. I suspect that the WSWS believes that the government actually tried to blame it all on “imperialist subversion” because this is was the main, self-centred, largely-ignorant theme of Western coverage of the protests.

The stated reason for their 2nd article was to remedy my lack of applying class perspective to my already-faulty historical analysis – faulty, because I do not give credit enough credit the communist Tudeh Party for their role in the revolution.

Too much Tudeh from the Trotskyists

Well, I know a little bit about the Tudeh – my uncle was jailed by the Shah in 1954 for protesting on their side!

The bulk of their 3-part series is devoted to describing Tudeh’s involvement, and all I can say is…they have a right to focus on what they wish. I thank them for giving time to present Iran’s history from a sympathetic perspective.

But I am not much interested in retelling the history of the Tudeh Party. Every Iranian knows the role it played; every Iranian sees the impact they made in government policy, even if they lost; and every Iranian knows why they absolutely deserved to lose, democratically, despite the efforts of people like my Amoo (uncle on father’s side).

After World War II, the communists were always confined to two small groups – the students ands the intellectuals. I think I can quite easily hang the WSWS with their own words:

“(Other Stalinist and Maoist parties in Iran) Like the Tudeh Party, they were taken unawares by the explosion of mass opposition to the Shah’s rule in 1978…

How could the communists be so unaware if they were truly a grassroots, mass movement? This quote shows how out of touch with the average Iranian the Iranian communists were, and why democracy forbid their victory.

To compare Tudeh to the the communists in 1917 Russia or 1949 China is absurd – even at the height of the revolution Tudeh had perhaps 5,000 members, after all. The Tudeh’s main influence was informal – by influencing discussion for decades – and not in a real, grassroots, tangible, organisation-driven – and thus truly revolutionary – way.

As far as students: One must know that there were not many universities in Iran until after 1979 – the idea that the students came from a broad cross-section of society, as they do now, is simply not true: middle- and upper-class families were privileged in university selection…clearly not enough to win or deserve democratic support of a nation.

Compare all of this with the mass grassroots presence of Islam and it should be clear how and why Islam was – and continues to be – democratically chosen to be Iran’s primary revolutionary force. It was the mosque which was the grassroots centre of revolutionary activity, and not the Tudeh Party local headquarters.

We should not underestimate the influence intellectuals have in shaping the talking points and water-cooler discussions of a culture, but during the Iranian Islamic Revolution Tudeh was a party for the intellectuals and not the People. That is not stating an opinion, but an obvious fact.

However, considering their much larger postwar role, their decades of political presence, and how they advanced the political modernity of Iranians, it is commendable and natural that the WSWS wants to tell their history. But the facts show that it is easy to exaggerate their influence among the average Iranian who, polls repeatedly show, overwhelmingly reject atheism to the tune of 95%. (Of course, most of the communists in Iran were devoted Muslims – this is a reality many Westerners cannot handle intellectually.)

The communists did not win – Iranian Islamic Socialism did.

(A similar (pro-Iranian yet) nationalist Islamic-communist coalition just won parliamentary elections in Iraq…and I am about as surprised by that as when I saw the sun come up last week during Ramadan. We should expect a very similar Iraqi Islamic Socialism to ensue…assuming Western imperialist meddling is eliminated, as it was in Iran, which is a rather hopeful assumption, I’ll admit.)

Given this fact of the Tudeh Party’s lack of grassroots presence and support, it makes the WSWS’s standard Trotskyist explanation of “when in doubt, blame Stalin” seem woefully inadequate when discussing Iran:

“It was the vacuum of working class political leadership created by the decades of betrayals by the Stalinist Tudeh party that enabled Khomeini to cast himself as the Shah’s most indefatigable opponent, and for he and his clerical followers to develop a mass following, extending from the bazaar to the urban and rural poor, between 1975 and 1979.”

This falsely implies that Khomeini came out of nowhere in 1975 and co-opted the revolution like some sort of political opportunist. That is terribly, terribly inaccurate.

Apart from actually being implanted for decades among the working class, many in Iran’s clergy had long ago abandoned the status-quo quietism which is what the clergy in Western Europe practices today. The two are simply not comparable; the Western tendency to assume a Western-oriented universality is not at all applicable, yet again.

Politically-progressive clergy in Iran were exiled, imprisoned and killed pre-1979, and the failure of Western leftists to acknowledge that the clergy can play a positive role in political liberation dooms, I believe, their chance to successfully implement any of their policies which have nothing to do with religion. Indeed – it is all or nothing with Western leftists, and they want to control God as well.

And this is perhaps the ultimate irony: Iranian socialists have said all this for years: It is possible to be Muslim and socialist!

The WSWS even quotes the marriage between socialism, the Tudeh Party and Islam…and yet they also deny that it happened?

Caught unawares by the revolutionary upsurge of 1978-79, the Tudeh Party emerged, in the aftermath of the February 1979 overthrow of the Shah’s regime, as the staunchest supporters of Khomeini, anointing him the leader of the “national-democratic revolution.” Kianuri, now the Tudeh General Secretary, hailed Shiism as “a revolutionary and progressive ideology which we shall never encounter blocking our road to socialism….”

Strong stuff from Tudeh’s Kianuri, but the WSWS apparently imagines that the Tudeh’s alliance with revolutionary Shi’ism was also one of political opportunism, when it was the loving marriage of socialism and Shi’ism after decades of courtship. Again, this concept breaks the rigid brains of Western leftists.

Iranian Islamic Socialism, unlike Tudeh, is not out of touch with the working class

This ideological marriage is something which has been discussed for decades in Iran already, and obviously formed the basis for the entire 1979 Revolution, but I will address it for modern readers in parts 9 and 10 of this series: Cultural & Permanent Revolution in Revolutionary Shi’ism & Iranian Islamic Socialism, and then ‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom, and the Basij. Regular WSWS readers may be especially interested in these concepts.

Why are these ideas largely not new, Ramin? Well, it’s because Iranians think about God, and they also think about socialism! Our brain does not explode by holding these two ideas in our head at the same time, nor are we hypocritical, nor doctrinally unsound – in our context (open-minded people) we even pass for normal!

Iranians for decades had been discussing how to marry socialism with Islam in a manner exactly similar to the historical progression of socialism in pre-1917 Russia. Both revolutions were nearly bloodless, and the reason is because the anti-reactionary forces had worked hard for decades to win over the People. Neither of these were “10 days that shook that world” – mere explosions of violence – both were “many decades of struggle that shook the world”.

Therefore, it should be easy to see: how Iranian Islamic Socialism has been preceded by decades of grassroots preparation, why it has taken such firm root, and why 40 years of near-total global opposition has been unable to dislodge it.

Iranian Islamic Socialism, however, does not pass for normal in modern global politics…and I’m very glad for that, considering what does pass for normal in the neoliberal, neo-imperialist age. This is good for Iran, but quite sad for the rest of the world.

But Iranian Islamic Socialism is not going anywhere, and its failure would be a reactionary-inspired human rights disaster no less lamentable than what befell the people of Russia after the fall of the USSR. And, LOL, not make Iran Trotskyism’s very long-awaited first victory.

Why do I use the phrase ‘Iranian Islamic Socialism’?

This is not haphazard – it is in this particular order for a reason.

“Iranian”: People have this absolutist idea that Iran aims to follow the Koran to the letter in every instance, and that Iranian society aims to be an exact replication of the time of Prophet Mohammed.

What they fail to realize is that Khomeini was unequivocal: the imperatives of the state must take precedence over the needs of Islam.

He made it completely clear: good temporal governance on behalf of the inhabitants of the country must take precedence over Shariah, and may God forgive us. This debate was public and went on for years during and after the Iranian Cultural Revolution (one of only two official cultural revolutions ever) and yet it is still not appreciated by non-Iranians.

In these public and democratic debates over what the new Iran “should be”, what won out was an idea often associated with Abdolkarim Soroush: “religion” and “religious knowledge” are two different things; the former is sacred and immutable, the latter evolves and changes so that societal solutions can be found. Make no mistake: The Islamic Republic of Iran is based on the latter – religious knowledge which is used to promote democracy, pluralism and equality and Islam.

Obviously, many of the more religious did not like making religious injunctions secondary to politics, but the idea of a government designed to promote only Islam simply did not win out, just as the Tudeh did not win out democratically. It does not mean these ideas are not present, however, as Iran is a democracy – religions proponents are well-represented in Iran, of course.

Are there traditionalists who want the former – yes: they want “Islamic Iranian Socialism”. The 7th century Revolution of Islam was a political revolution in large part because Prophet Mohammad ended tribalism, and by extension nationalism. Thus, many want just “Islamic Socialism”. But they have a very tough convincing job to do, considering Khomeini opposed them, and that we have had decades of subsequent hardening of this “Iran is based on religious knowledge and not religion” concept; but they certainly have many of supporters among the Iranian people. I realize that on a global level the idea that Iran is insufficiently Islamic may seem surprising, but on a domestic cultural level it remains a genuine issue. It is also a guaranteed-acceptable method and safety valve for Iranians to criticise their government whenever they are having a bad day, LOL.

Regardless of that, I think many have not taken this long-standing reality into account when they talk about Iran’s government, but it should radically reorient anyone who doesn’t realize what is the top priority of Iran’s Islamic democratic government: the nation.

And, of course, we should remember that those who want “Islamic” first are not anti-Iran in the slightest – they just want more religion in Iran.

Therefore we see that Iran is definitely “nationalist” above all, like China or Cuba, and the opposite of the formerly independent nations of the European Union and especially the Eurozone.

This is all why “Iranian” is the first term.

“Islamic” comes second, because it has clearly and democratically been placed there. We see that Iran’s system is truly not the fundamentalist, everything-is-religion government it is portrayed as – it is clearly a modern system, based on nationalism, is an edifice built upon the most modern ideas of governmental structure available in 1979, and all while being hugely inspired by Islam.

“Socialism” is the final term, and the most contentious, mainly because socialism has yet to shake its original association with destructive, undemocratic, state-enforced atheism.

Socialism is clearly based on two fundamental precepts: empowering the long-oppressed with democratic rights, and massive state-organised economic redistribution, which is anathema in capitalism. Thus, socialism is both a structure of government and an economic policy. Therefore, Iran certainly has socialism.

Calling Iran ‘capitalist’ is misinformed, duplicitous, lazy or all 3

Part Three of the WSWS’s series is dedicated to Trotskyist propaganda – indeed, this is what the final part of every single WSWS article does (and I admire their ideological discipline). But that means deliberately denying realities and subverting the commonly-held definitions of words. This required me to write Part 2: How Iran got economically socialist, and then Islamic socialist.

The reality is that some of the Tudeh Party’s socialist ideas were indeed integrated into policy – the proof is clear from their years of cooperation with other revolutionary groups, but also quite easily found in the pudding which is Iran’s state-run, welfare-state & redistribution-and-not-profit-oriented economy.

Iran’s economy is something which is rarely appreciated properly and not because the WSWS is purposely obscuring accepted definitions: it is because Iran has a unique (revolutionary) structure which is not easily comprehended. This is the impetus for part 3, What privatisation in Iran? or Definitely not THAT privatisation.

I do not believe that Iran – nor China, nor Cuba, nor a few others – can be talked about as “bourgeois” states when they have had and have sustained anti-bourgeois revolutions: new rules regarding discussion of them must therefore apply. I think those nations are revolutionary because they have fundamentally changed their class structures, and thus makes Trotskyism anyone else unable to answer “in advance” which classes will bring democracy and socialism.

This is the reason why I have included something which I think may be unprecedented in a Western language: an objective analysis of the Basij, which is what is discussed in parts 4-7.

While few Westerners know or can explain why or how the 1979 Revolution handed 10-15% of the entire Iranian economy in the hands of charities (the bonyads, or state charity cooperatives, explained in Part 2) I think it is impossible to understand Iran without understanding the 10+ million member organisation the Basij. The WSWS series makes no mention of it. Therefore, I have made a 4-part sub-series on this institution.

In Part 4 I compare them with the only parallel I can find in the modern world: Structural similarities between Iran’s Basij and the Chinese Communist Party. The idea that the Basij is some sort of neo-Nazi Brownshirt militia is total nonsense, and I think readers will be interested to see the many parallels between the CCP and the Basij.

The reason I think it’s important to talk about the Basij now is: because it could reduce the chances of war.

Non-Iranians need to realize that any foreign invasion of in Iran implies the mass, grassroots involvement of the Basij. Certainly not all of them, as only a small percentage of this volunteer group are involved daily in security operations (contrary to popular belief), but very certainly invasion would involve a lot of them. I think that if people learned about the solidity of this group – whether one condones or condemns them, and I remain 100% objectively neutral in my examination and refuse to either condone or condemn them on my part – one must simply accept that they are a huge force to be reckoned with in any war.

However, there is quite nearly zero scholarship of the Basij. What little exists is sensationalist nonsense or based on the decades-ago beginning of the Basij during wartime. Hopefully the four-part sub-series clarifies the Basij, and it is certainly the first leftist analysis of the Basij available in the West.

However, not everyone wants to understand modern Iran via discussing in detail their economy and their socio-political institutions. Therefore, Parts 8-10 attempt to do describe Iranian Islamic Socialism via religion and culture.

Part 8 talks about the “Cultural Revolution” of Imam Ali and Part 9 talks about the “Permanent Revolution” of Imam Hussain, via historical-political examinations of their lives in the Revolution of Islam.

Islam, unlike Christianity, was indeed a sweeping political revolution: therefore, these two religious figures of the early Islamic era can also be viewed in a completely areligious and historical-political fashion; the post-revolutionary culture & era, while having been initiated by Prophet Mohammad, is thus incredibly similar to the post-revolution eras of other global revolutions such as the Russian & Chinese revolutions.

The ideas represented by Ali and Hussain are so firmly lodged in Iran’s collective unconscious and current political reality that, like the Basij, they simply must be understood – and they provide quite superb revolutionary models for non-Muslims, too!

Part 11 explains the Iranian Islamic Revolution via the greatest Iranian movie of all-time – The Death of Yazdgerd – which is also the greatest political movie of all time.

That is a very bold statement, but merited. If I may say so humbly: Iran is widely considered perhaps the greatest pound-for-pound cinema-producing nation; so if we also consider that Iran has produced one of the the greatest political human dramas since the advent of cinema, is it not out of the question that they also produced the greatest political drama within cinema?

This relentless moral machine-gunning of the institution of monarchy – something which every society can relate to, adding to its genius – is truly unparalleled in film, and it is even available with English subtitles for free on Youtube here. For a fascinating and whirlwind two hours – and to see what your ancestors endured (unless you have a royal lineage) – I encourage you to watch it.

The 11th and final part discusses the future of Iranian Islamic Socialism in the context of a (possibly) post-JCPOA world.

I hope readers find this series informative and enjoyable. I also hope it will answer many questions about modern Iran which are shrouded in mystery for non-Iranians.

I did not intend for this series to begin publication on Eid Al-Fitr – the day after the end of Ramadan – but that is an auspicious coincidence!

But as somebody smarter than me once said: We may disagree on what goes on beyond the sky, but here on earth our political choices should be quite morally obvious by now.

Eid Al-Fitr Moborak! Happy End of Ramadan!

***********************************

This is the 1st article in an 11-part series which explains the economics, history, religion and culture of Iran’s Revolutionary Shi’ism, which produced modern Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

The WSWS, Iran’s economy, the Basij & Revolutionary Shi’ism: an 11-part series

How Iran got economically socialist, and then Islamic socialist

What privatisation in Iran? or Definitely not THAT privatisation

Structural similarities between Iran’s Basij and the Chinese Communist Party

Iran’s Basij: The reason why land or civil war inside Iran is impossible

A leftist analysis of Iran’s Basij – likely the first ever in the West

Iran’s Basij: Restructuring society and/or class warfare

Cultural’ & ‘Permanent Revolution’ in Revolutionary Shi’ism & Iranian Islamic Socialism

‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom, and the Basij

‘The Death of Yazdgerd’: The greatest political movie ever explains Iran’s revolution

Iran détente after Trump’s JCPOA pull out? We can wait 2 more years, or 6, or…

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

 

The Essential Saker II: Civilizational Choices and Geopolitics / The Russian challenge to the hegemony of the AngloZionist Empire
The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world
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Human Rights Hypocrisy in Washington Reaches New Levels – By Brian CLOUGHLEY (Strategic Cultural Foundation)

Human Rights Hypocrisy in Washington Reaches New Levels
Brian CLOUGHLEY | 27.06.2018 | WORLD / Americas

In a staggering example of in-your-face hypocrisy the United States has quit the UN Human Rights Council, calling it “a cesspool of political bias” and criticising all nations who continue to be members because “no other country has had the courage to join our fight.”

In explanation of its exit, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Hayley, declared that “When a so-called human rights council cannot bring itself to address the massive abuses in Venezuela and Iran . . . the council ceases to be worthy of its name.”

To be sure, the Human Rights Council has some member nations with appalling human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, about which the State Department highlights numerous human rights violations, including “unlawful killings, executions for other than the most serious offenses and without requisite due process; torture; arbitrary arrest and detention, including of lawyers, human rights activists, and anti-government reformists; political prisoners; and arbitrary interference with privacy.” Further, there is a major difference between its system of governance and that of much-vilified Iran, because Iran’s president is elected by the people whereas Saudi Arabia, as described by the State Department, is “a monarchy without elected representative institutions or political parties.”

So why is Saudi Arabia not named by Washington’s Nikki Hayley as a country that indulges in “massive abuses” of human rights?

The State Department makes it abundantly clear why Washington is perfectly happy with Saudi Arabia’s abuses of human rights, because “the United States and Saudi Arabia enjoy a strong economic relationship, as the United States is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, and Saudi Arabia is one of the United States’ largest trading partners in the Middle East.”

So the Saudis’ absolute monarch, the dictator King Abdullah, can continue with impunity and without the slightest criticism by Nikki Hayley and her ilk to indulge in “torture, arbitrary arrest and detention.”

Which brings us to instances of arbitrary arrest and detention rather closer to Washington, involving pitiable and wretched would-be immigrants to the United States.

The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour, gifted to the American people by France in 1886, has the inscription “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” It used to be an example of national compassion and understanding to the rest of the world.

But Trump Washington and many millions of Americans are passionately opposed to immigration. They believe that their Golden Door should remain firmly closed against people beckoned by the lamp. President Trump leads them in his hatred and last month declared that would-be migrants “aren’t people, these are animals” and tweeted that they want “to pour into and infest our country.”

The message from the Trump Administration is clear and revolting — and even clearer and more horrifying is the manner in which these “animals” who want to “infest our country” are treated by those who enforce the law inside the Golden Door.

One of the latest displays of repulsive callousness by the Trump Administration involves separation of migrant children from their parents. A description of how this was effected on the border with Mexico, where there are so many refugees and migrants, was provided by a US Member of Congress, Representative Pramila Jayapal (herself of Indian origin) in a barely credible account of ice-hearted cruelty.

She recounted that in detention camps she met 174 women of whom 30-40 percent “came with children who had been forcibly taken away from them. None got a chance to say goodbye to their children — they were forcibly taken away. One said she was deceived, because they were in detention together. Then the Customs and Border Protection officials told her she was going out to get her photograph taken. When she came back, she was put in a different room, and she never got to see the child again. Some of them said they could hear their children screaming for them in the next room.”

Can you imagine what goes on in the mind of a person who could do this to a mother and her child? What sort of man or woman could remove a tiny child from a mother? It happened in Hitler’s concentration camps, of course, but most of us thought we had moved on a bit since then. The New York Times summed it up in an Editorial by saying that “It may be hard to believe that this is happening in the United States in 2018, that hundreds of children are being snatched from their parents, frequently under false pretences, often screaming . . . The parents often don’t know where their children are, or when they will see them again.”

A Washington Post reporter visited a detention centre in Texas where “They divided the young children who had been separated from their parents, placing 20 or more in a concrete-floor cage and providing foil blankets, thin mattress pads, bottled water and food. The migrant children, some confused or expressionless, watched as uniformed officials led reporters on a brief tour … of a processing centre and temporary detention facility.”

Try to imagine what sort of person willingly carries out orders to separate little children from their mothers. Reflect on the report in the Washington Post that scores of these little children were “screaming ‘Mami’ and ‘Papá’ over and over again, as if those are the only words they know.” Then, unbelievably, “the baritone voice of a Border Patrol agent booms above the crying. ‘Well, we have an orchestra here,’ he jokes. ‘What’s missing is a conductor’.”

Can you comprehend the mindset of this man? This trusted government official, this representative of a country that prides itself on representing all the virtues, was actually joking about the noise being made by terrified and defenceless little children who had been torn from their mothers. The New York Times reported children at a detention camp as saying “they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells… Children as young as 14 said the guards there stripped them of their clothes and strapped them to chairs with bags placed over their heads.”

These evil cruelties are taking place in a country whose representative to the world, its ambassador to the United Nations, declared that “for too long the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.”

On 18 June the UN spoke out, and its “top human rights official… cited an observation by the president of the American Association of Paediatrics that locking the children up separately from their parents constituted ‘government-sanctioned child abuse’,” so it is not surprising that the following day the US slouched out of the Human Rights Commission with a blasting fanfare of insults.

As Amnesty International observed, “Once again, President Trump is showing his complete disregard for the fundamental rights and freedoms the US claims to uphold. While the Human Rights Council is by no means perfect and its membership is frequently under scrutiny, it remains an important force for accountability and justice.”

But an Administration that is based on hatred and intolerance pays no attention to accountability and justice. Human rights hypocrisy snarls from the twisted lips behind the Golden Door to Washington.

European Security Landscape Reshaped with New Alliances Emerging – By Peter KORZUN ( Strategic Cultural Foundation)

European Security Landscape Reshaped with New Alliances Emerging
Peter KORZUN | 23.06.2018 | WORLD / Europe

The bonds between European allies are not as strong today as they used to be. The well-known divisions within the EU are also the divisions within NATO as most European nations belong to both.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire believes that the EU is falling apart because its members cannot find compromises while they urgently need to tackle the migrants’ crisis as well as a whole host of other pressing problems. Some predict the demise of NATO for the same reason – the bloc’s inability to handle the issues of fundamental importance. This is the time of reshaping the Western security landscape. With the giant entities, such as NATO and the EU, facing the threat of partition, new smaller alliances are gradually forming instead.

On June 22, EU tariffs on US goods came into force to make Americans and Europeans opponents rather than friends and allies. Sharing what they call common values does not prevent disputes over fundamental issues and trade battles. We may witness a NATO burial at its Brussels summit on July 11-12 right after the EU’s actual partition at its top-level event on June 28-29.

With Brexit drawing near, the UK is still to carve out a new role for itself in the new security configuration. Its anti-Russia stance is a guide. The relationship with the US will always be special even if there is no chemistry between the leaders. But the dependence on America has its limits and the relationship may go through fluctuations. To be a power pole it needs to diversify the security ties. Forming a new defense pact with the EU is one of foreign policy directions. It will allow London to remain part of European defense deterrent after separation from the alliance’s political and economic structures. With NATO weakened, it’ll play an important role of go-between to link North America and the Old Continent. Its influence would be boosted if it joined a security entity it could lead. Moscow’s “irreconcilable enemies” are the right partners for a start.

On June 21, UK Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary visited Warsaw within the format of annual Quadriga talks. The aim was to strengthen security, defence, and cyber ties with Poland, the unrecognized leader of Eastern Europe, which is on the outs with Brussels striving to hold its own. The text of the final communiqué shows the mission was accomplished. In December 2017, the parties signed the Treaty on Defense and Security Cooperation. At the meeting they said the UK-Poland Defence Action Plan encompassing a range of military areas was being prepared for signature.

The steps to enhance defense cooperation are to be added by joint propaganda efforts to counter Russia. The parties agreed to establish what they call “a strategic communications project to support independent media in countries in Eastern Europe, to ensure a wider range of voices in the media, in order to strengthen resilience against disinformation.”

It’s worth mentioning that the UK stands out refusing to join other EU members in their criticism of Poland’s slide into authoritarianism while it is implementing its judicial reforms. PM Theresa May believes that the constitutional reform is an internal matter. Warsaw can use its burgeoning relationship with London as a bargaining chip in the relationship with Germany. Having left the EU, Great Britain can make a substantial contribution into recognizing the Poland’s status as the leader of Eastern Europe.

The hostility toward Russia is what formally unites them. On June 20, British General Mark Carleton-Smith, the newly appointed head of the British army, issued a warning over Britain threatened by Russia and called on the military to be prepared to “fight and win”. Poland is playing the American card against Russia as well as the EU. The country is to acquire a first strike capability to counter what it believes to be the Russian threat and applies efforts to make the US station substantial forces on its soil. Poland is in the focus of NATO infrastructure efforts. It hosts large-scale exercises preparing forces to conduct offensive operations against Russia. The military activities are closely coordinated with the Baltic States, which are also asking for larger US military presence. NATO has deployed four battalion-sized battle groups to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. The UK is among the nations that comprise the backbone of this force. Roughly 150 British servicemen are stationed in Poland. London and Warsaw join together supporting the “European aspirations” of the Western Balkan states. The UK is hosting the Western Balkans summit in London on July 9 and 10.

It’s normal that countries set up alliances while jockeying for influence and looking for benefits to reap. But it’s also a sign of NATO and the EU teetering on the edge. The emergence of other alliances is looming at the horizon.

In his London speech on June 21, NATO Secretary General said the bonds between Europe and North America are under strain and there’s no guarantee the trans-Atlantic alliance will survive. But the bonds between European allies are also not as strong today as they used to be. The well-known divisions within the EU are also the divisions within NATO as most European nations belong to both. It’s all intertwined. There are groups pursuing their own interests within the EU to give birth to the concept of a “multi-speed Europe”. It’s only natural that alliances within the alliance also emerge inside NATO under the circumstances and it’s a sign of weakness, not strength. This is a trend to partition. Add to it the EU efforts to create a defense deterrent of its own independent from the US. There is each and every reason to believe that many more signs of NATO losing its relevance will come into the open at the much-anticipated July summit.

Photo: The First News

Tags: NATO  France  Poland  UK 

Bolivia’s Evo Morales calls out US imperialism in Venezuela and Latin America: ‘We are no longer your backyard’ – By teleSUR (Sott)

Evo Morales

© EFE
Morales explained, however, that United States’ interventionism is not only militaristic.

The Bolivian President warned that the United States is trying to orchestrate a military coup in Venezuela.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said Saturday that Latin America “is no longer the United States’ backyard” while denouncing the United States’ attempt to convince its South American allies to help it orchestrate a military intervention or coup in Venezuela.

In an interview with news agency EFE, Morales explained that several Latin American leaders have confided in him that U.S. Vice president Mike Pence is “trying to convince some United States-friendly countries” help them seize control of the South American country and replace the current government led by Nicolas Maduro.

The real target, Morales explained, is not the Venezuelan president but “Venezuelan oil, and Venezuelans know that.”

Drawing parallels to 2011 military intervention in Libya, Morales said the U.S. isn’t interested in helping with alleged humanitarian crisis since, despite the current political and social turmoil in Libya, the U.S. will not intervene there since “the country’s oil is now owned by the U.S. and some European oil companies,” Morales asserted.

“One military intervention (in the region) would only create another armed conflict,” he added pointing to Colombia’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as a general sign of an escalation of “military aggression to all Latin America and the Caribbean” region.

Comment: Morales is correct in expressing this concerning development: NATO adds Colombia to its list of members, and it’s about more than just Venezuela

Morales explained, however, that U.S. interventionism is not only militaristic.

“When there are no military coups, they seek judicial or congressional coups” as in the case of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and the Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s imprisonment, which is barring him from running in the upcoming 2018 elections.

“I am certain we will free Lula. If he returns, some countries in Latin America will again strengthen the ideological, programmatic and liberation struggle against the North American empire,” Morales said.

Comment: The President of Bolivia can count himself as one of the world’s few (but ever growing number) of leaders who has the knowledge and the guts to speak out on the egregious and destructive behavior of the US. Viva Morales! See also:

Trump And Kim Sign Declaration of Peace in Singapore (Because The Alternative is Too Expensive)- By Niall Bradley (Sott.net)

 

 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump signing a “historic” document in Singapore

So Rocket Man and The Dotard have met. After last year’s epic mud-slinging, US President Donald Trump now says he and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have a “special bond”. The ‘optics’ of the summit reflect well on both leaders, who were cordial and without any of the hysterics and tantrums that had ‘analysts’ forecasting nuclear conflagration just last year.

But that’s all ancient history now. The signed document – a declaration, not a ‘deal’, ‘roadmap’ or anything more – is brief:

trump kim meeting

Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:

  1. The United States and the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
  2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
  3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
  4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Trump apparently had the following video played at the end of the meeting:

Call it gaudy or wishful thinking, but this messaging is so much better than “fire and fury”.

So Trump apparently wants to ‘bring the American Dream to North Korea’. The real deal-making potential for him lies in American firms being top of the queue for meeting North Korea’s development needs. He surely realizes that – for historical, geographical and cultural reasons – the North Koreans are more likely to embrace the Chinese Dream over the American one, but Trump will not settle for the US being completely cut out of the picture. That’s what we saw happen to US firms following the Iran Deal, and that’s why Trump tore it up.

Kim apparently turned to Trump at one point during their meeting and said:

“Many people in the world will think of this as a form of fantasy from a science fiction movie.”

It is indeed historic, and whatever one thinks of Trump, or Kim for that matter, and whatever their ‘real intentions’, the very act of opening up before the world in this way makes fire, fury and missile attacks that much less likely. Not included in the document, but said by Trump afterwards, was that the US would “stop playing war games.” Again, actions have to meet words, but it’s clear that they have tangible meaning to Trump when he reveals that he’s again thinking of the bottom line:

“The war games are very expensive, we pay for the majority of them.”

By the way, the basic Trump-Kim agreement for a freeze of US war games on and around the peninsula in exchange for a freeze in nuke/ICBM testing is exactly what China and Russia called for before last year’s ‘rocket hysterics’ led into ‘sanctions like never before’. What will happen to those sanctions now? UN-agreed sanctions on North Korea were a useful tool only because China and Russia also upheld them. Both countries have already called for the sanctions to end, arguing that they have done their job of ‘bringing Kim to heel’. If the US is left unilaterally sanctioning North Korea for too long beyond this point, those American investment prospects will evaporate as North Korea bargains directly with its neighbors and the US is left looking like the sole unreasonable party – as is currently the case with the Iran Deal.

The losers, for now, are the deep staters and build-a-burgers in Japan, South Korea and Washington. They know nothing other than the post-WW2 Pax Americana and will resist entering uncharted territory without Uncle Sam taking the lead. They tried their best – with their ‘Libya model’ threats – to prevent this meeting from happening. The winners are the peoples of Korea, China and Russia. Trump gets kudos too, though it remains to be seen for what. Special peace prizes go to President Xi Jinping of China and Moon Jae-in of South Korea. One is also left wondering just what Putin – via Lavrov – said to Kim on the Russian state visit to the Hermit Kingdom just 10 days before this summit.

As we’ve said before, North Korea’s nukes aren’t really the issue. In fact, North Korea itself isn’t the issue either. This is about the US foothold in East Asia – in South Korea, Japan and elsewhere – and what becomes of that foothold in a situation where China’s star is rising and America’s fading. Trump sees what Eurasian integration (BRICS, Belt and Road, SCO, etc) means for US domination of – in this case – ‘our Pacific lake’. He wants to leverage US military advantages (while they still exist) in order to gradually replace the US military foothold in the region with a more constructive, profitable, and longer-lasting one: “We’ll pull back our troops and guns, if you give us access to your market resources. There’s no way we’re abandoning the whole region to Chinese economic, and later military, domination.”

Ironically, while China and Russia have responded positively to Trump’s moves to transform – rather than remove – US presence in East Asia, it’s a really hard sell for Trump on the domestic front because that military foothold was designed to ‘contain’ China, not ‘do trade deals’ with it. So Trump has to somehow convince US elites to get onboard with his plan to switch guns for iPhones and channel their warmongering impulses into something resembling a reasonably fair trade war with China.

I think he can pull it off. Nobody does deals like The Donald. Did you know he wrote a book about The Art of the Deal?

 

Niall Bradley (Profile)

Niall Bradley has a background in political science and media consulting, and has been an editor and contributing writer at SOTT.net for 8 years. His articles are cross-posted on his personal blog, NiallBradley.net. Niall is co-host of the ‘Behind the Headlines’ radio show on the Sott Radio Network and co-authored Manufactured Terror: The Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook, Aurora Shooting and Other False-Flag Terror Attacks with Joe Quinn.

See Also:

 

At Least 525 Palestinians Injured Today by Israeli Forces on the Gaza Border- By Middle East Monitor (MINT PRESS)

Medics treat Palestinian children suffering from teargas inhalation during a protest near Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. Israeli soldiers shot and killed dozens of Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border on Monday. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast a pall over Israel's festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem. (AP/Dusan Vranic)
Al-Quds Day

 

Activists on the ground in the east of Khan Younis also reported that ambulances were being targeted with gas bombs by Israeli forces.

At least 525 Palestinians have been wounded on the Gaza border by Israeli occupation forces who violently suppressed protests as part of Al-Quds Day, the Ministry of Health said today.

The Gaza Ministry of Health said at least seven people were in critical condition as a result of their injuries. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and live ammunition at demonstrators as they called for an end to the stifling 11-year blockade. At least three journalists have been wounded as they attempted to cover the protests, with Muhammad Al-Baba suffering injuries to his right leg after a gunshot wound.

Activists on the ground in the east of Khan Younis also reported that ambulances were being targeted with gas bombs by Israeli forces.

Palestinian factions, youth organisations and national figures had called on the public to devote the last Friday of Ramadan to protest against the occupation at the border. Demonstrations also occurred in the occupied West Bank, with events held to mark the Million Man March to Jerusalem at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The latest demonstrations are the first since Palestinian paramedic Razan Al-Najjar was killed by Israeli sniper fire last week. The 21-year-old’s death sparked outrage and an outpouring of grief across the world, with thousands of Palestinians attending her funeral, dubbing her “the angel of mercy.”

At least 123 Gazans have been killed since the Great March of Return started on 30 March. The protests were launched by thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who took to the borders to demand their right of return to their original homelands, called for ending the 11-year siege on Gaza and protested against the opening of the US embassy in occupied Jerusalem.

Top Photo | Medics treat Palestinian children suffering from teargas inhalation during a protest near Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. Israeli soldiers shot and killed dozens of Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border on Monday. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast a pall over Israel’s festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem. (AP/Dusan Vranic)

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What Trump’s Policy of Energy Dominance Means for the World -By Alastair CROOKE – (STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION)

What Trump’s Policy of Energy Dominance Means for the World

Two weeks ago, we wrote about how President Trump’s foreign policy somehow had ‘folded’ into ‘neo-Americanism’, and quoted US Foreign Affairs Professor, Russell-Mead, suggesting that Trump’s 8 May metamorphosis (the exit from JCPOA), represented something new, a step-change of direction (from his being principally a sharp Art of the Deal negotiator), toward – pace, Russell-Mead – “a neo-American era in world politics – rather than an [Obama-ist] post-American one”. “The administration wants to enlarge American power, rather than adjust to decline (as allegedly, Obama did). For now, at least, the Middle East is the centrepiece of this new assertiveness”, Russell-Mead opined, explaining that this new Trump impulse stems from: [Trump’s] instincts telling him that most Americans are anything but eager for a “post-American” world. Mr. Trump’s supporters don’t want long wars, but neither are they amenable to a stoic acceptance of national decline”.

There is something of a paradox here: Trump and his base deplore the cost and commitment of the huge American defence umbrella, spread across the globe by the globalists (sentiments aggravated by the supposed ingratitude of its beneficiaries) – yet the President wants to “enlarge American power, rather than adjust to decline”. That is, he wants more power, but less empire. How might he square this circle?

Well, a pointer arose almost a year earlier, when on 29 June 2017, the President used a quite unexpected word when speaking at an Energy Department event: Unleashing American Energy. Instead of talking about American energy independence, as might be expected, he heralded instead, a new era of American energy “dominance”.

In a speech “that sought to underscore a break with the policies of Barack Obama”, the FT notes, Mr Trump tied energy to his America First agenda…“The truth is we now have near limitless supplies of energy in our country,” Mr Trump said. “We are really in the driving seat, and you know what: we don’t want to let other countries take away our sovereignty, and tell us what to do, and how to do it. That’s not going to happen. With these incredible resources, my administration will seek not only the American energy independence that we’ve been looking for, for so long – but American energy dominance,” he said.

It seems, as Chris Cook explains, that Gary Cohn, then chief economic adviser to the President had a part in the genesis to this ambition. Cohn (then at Goldman Sachs), together with a colleague from Morgan Stanley, conceived of a plan in 2000 to take control of the global oil trading market through an electronic trading platform, based in New York. In brief, the big banks, attracted huge quantities of ‘managed money’ (from such as hedge funds), to the market, to bet on future prices (without their ever actually taking delivery of crude: trading ‘paper oil’, rather than physical oil). And, at the same time, these banks worked in collusion with the major oil producers (including later, Saudi Arabia) to pre-purchase physical oil in such a way that, by withholding, or releasing physical crude from, or onto the market, the big NY banks were able to ‘influence’ the prices (by creating a shortage, or a glut).

To give some idea of the capacity of these bankers to ‘influence’ price, by mid – 2008, it was estimated that some $260 billion of ‘managed’ (speculative) investment money was in play in energy markets, completely dwarfing the value of the oil actually coming out of the North Sea each month, at maybe $4 to $5 billion, at most. These ‘paper’ oil-option plays would therefore often trump the ‘fundamentals’ of real supply, and real end-user demand.

‘Step one’ for Cohn, was therefore, for the US to manage the trading market, both in price and access – with U.S. antagonists such as Iran or Russia, being able to access the market on inferior terms, if at all. The putative ‘step two’, has been to nurse US shale production, build new American LNG export terminals, and open America to further oil and gas exploration, whilst strong-arming everyone from Germany to South Korea and China, to buy American LNG exports. And ‘thirdly’, with Gulf oil exports already under the US umbrella, there were then, two major Middle East energy producers beyond the boundaries of cartel ‘influence’ (falling more into rival Russia’s strategic energy-producing ‘heartland’): Iran – which is now the subject of regime change–style, economic siege on its oil exports, and Iraq, which is subject of intense (soft) political pressures (such as threatening to sanction Iraq under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) to force its adherence to the western sphere.

What would this Trump notion of energy dominance mean in simple language? 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.

Senior advisor Peter Navarro said on NPR earlier this week that “we can stop them [the Chinese] from putting our high tech companies out of business” and “buying up our crown jewels of technology … Every time we innovate something new, China comes in and buys it, or steals it.” 

Is this then Trump’s plan: By market domination and trade war, to prolong America’s ‘superiority’ of technology, finance and energy – and not somehow be obliged to “adjust to decline”? And by acting in this way, curtail – or at least postpone – the emergence of rivals? Two questions in this context immediately present themselves: Is this formula the adoption of neo-conservatism, by the US Administration, which Trump’s own base so detests? And, secondly, can the approach work?

It is not neo-conservatism, perhaps – but rather a re-working of a theme. The American neo-conservatives largely wanted to take a hammer to the parts of the world they didn’t like; and to replace it with something they did. Trump’s method is more Machiavellian in character.

The roots to both of these currents of thought lie however – more than partly – with Carl Schmitt’s influence on American conservative thinking through his friend, Leo Strauss, at Chicago (whether not, Trump has ever read either man, the ideas still circulate in the US ether). Schmitt held that politics (in contrast to the liberal/ humanist vein) has nothing to do with making the world fairer, or more just – that is the work of moralists and theologians – politics for Schmitt, concerns power and political survival, and nothing more.

Liberals (and globalists), Schmitt suggested, are queasy at using power to crush alternative forces from emerging: their optimistic view of human nature leads them to believe in the possibility of mediation and compromise. The Schmittian optic, however dismissed derisively the liberal view, in favour of an emphasis on the role of power, pure and simple – based on a darker understanding of the true nature of ‘others’ and rivals. This point seems to go to the root of Trump’s thinking: Obama and the ‘liberals’ were ready to trade the ‘crown jewels’ of ‘Our Culture’ (financial, technological and energy expertise) through some multilateral ‘affirmative action’ that would help less developed states (such as rival China up the ladder). Perhaps such thoughts too, lay behind Trump’s withdrawal from the Climate Accord: Why help putative rivals, whist, at same time, imposing voluntary handicaps on one’s own Culture?

It is on this latter, quite narrow pivot (the imperative of keeping American power intact), that neo-cons and Trumpists, come together: And both also share in their disdain for utopian liberals who would fritter away the crown jewels of western Culture – for some or other humanitarian ideal – only to allow America’s determined rivals to rise up and overthrow America and its Culture (in this optic).

The common ground between both currents, is expressed with remarkable candour through Berlusconi’s comment that “we must be aware of the superiority of our [western] civilisation”. Steve Bannon says something very similar, though couched in the merits of preserving (a threatened) western Judeo-Christian culture.

This sense of Cultural advantage that must at all costs be recuperated and preserved perhaps goes some (but not all) way towards accounting for Trump’s ardent support for Israel: Speaking to Israel’s Channel Two, Richard Spencer, a prominent leader of the American Alt-Right (and one component to Trump’s base), highlighted the deeply felt the dispossession of white people, in their own country [the US]:

“… an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me, who has analogous feelings about whites. You could say that I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. – Just as you want a secure homeland in Israel.” 

So, can the attempt to leverage and weaponise the American élites’ Culture – through the dollar, and putative energy hegemony, and its hold over technology transfer – succeed in holding on to American ‘Culture’ (in the reductionist construct of Trump’s base)? This is the sixty-four thousand dollar question, as they say. It may just easily provoke an equally powerful reaction; and a lot can happen domestically in the US, between now, and the November, US mid-term, elections, which might either confirm the President in power – or undo him. It is difficult to hold to any analytic horizon beyond that. 

But a larger point is whilst Trump feels passionately about American Culture and hegemony; the leaders of the non-West today, feel just as passionately that it is time for ‘the American Century’ to yield place. Just as after WWII, former colonial states wanted independence – so, now, today’s leaders want an end to dollar monopoly, they want an opt-out from the global, US-led order and its so-called ‘international’ institutions; they want to ‘be’ in their own distinctive cultural way – and they want their sovereignties back. This is not just cultural and economic nationalism, it portends a significant inflection point – away from neo-liberal economics, from individualism and raw commercialism – towards a more rounded human experience.

The tide, in the wake of WWII, surely was irreversible then. I can even recall the former European colonialists subsequently bemoaning their forced withdrawal: “They’ll [the former colonies] regret it”, they confidently predicted. (No, they never did.) The tide today runs strongly too, and has spread, even, to Europe. Where – who knows – whether the Europeans will have the spine to push back against Trump’s financial and trade machinations: It will be an important litmus for what comes next.

But what is different now (from then), is that currency hegemony, technological prowess, and energy ‘domination’, are not, at all, assured to western possession. They are no longer theirs. They began their migration, some time ago.

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