If you want proof of American criminal conduct in Syria, look no further than the events of yesterday when a group of ISIS grubs set off from American-occupied Al-Tanf on motorcycles in the direction of the Western Plantations with their goal being to reinforce ISIS positions near Al-Raqqa (via the Abyadh Al-Tuwaynaan Valley) where the other pro-American SDF is located.  Talk about playing two sides against the other!  The ambush was sprung about 30 kms west of Palmyra (Tadmur) by elements of Air Force Intelligence-Special Operations Units.  The terrorist rodents were especially vulnerable on their motorcycles as expertly positioned commandos opened light arms fire at them killing two instantly and forcing another two to wipe out on the road.  The two taken into custody started warbling like nightingales explaining their relationship with American officers at Al-Tanf.

The second ambush took place in the area of Al-Furoo’ east of Palmyra by about 70 kms.  There, the terrorists were not so interested in confrontation.  They surrendered to the Security Services commando units and gave up 10 motorcycles, weapons and ammo, 146 rolls of hashish, 14 bags of Captagon which amounted to 10,000+ tablets.  I guess they were going to cater a party. They are now warbling like starlings.

Now that a new prime minister in Iraq is in office, we are hoping the Baghdad government stops affording the U.S. privileged status permitting it to supply and occupy the Al-Tanf base.  The Hashemites in Jordan are a lost cause, but, Iraq is not yet that far gone.  There is still hope that Muqtadaa Al-Sadr and his allies will re-assume their mantles as Iraq’s only truly populist movement.  The U.S. has been truly injured by the fall of Al-‘Abbaadi’s government after so many lobbying efforts – efforts to intervene in Iraqi elections.



The night before yesterday, somebody fired some rockets at a military research-and-development center in Latakia.  Syrian radar picked up the approaching missiles and fired Pantsir anti-missile rockets at them, bringing most down, according to sources in Latakia.  Yet, the atmosphere is still somewhat murky.

That evening, amidst the melee, an Ilyushin aircraft carrying 14 crew members and enlisted men was downed in the Mediterranean near the coast of Syria.  A search and rescue operation is now in progress.

This is what happened.  Nobody was expecting any attack by the Zionist Settler State.  There were no weapons being transferred to HZB from any research center in Latakia City.  The Humaymeem AB was on alert, as usual, but, as I wrote, there were no causes for concern.  A French missile boat was in the international waters outside Syria’s coastline and there was no expectation it would fire at any target, especially where there was a danger of striking Russia’s military.

Russia detects missile launches from French frigate off Syria’s coast in Mediterranean

(Photo:  French Navy)

The French ship was the Auvergne, an Aquitaine Class ship.  If any of you remember your history, it was at Aquitaine (then northwards to Poitier and Tours) where Charles Martel blunted the Umayyad Caliphate’s effort to conquer Europe from Andalusia in 732 AD. Well, anyways, there is a lot of history behind that name.

Zionist military planners noted that the Il-20 aircraft was scheduled to depart Humaymeem at around 5 p.m.  It would be the perfect cover.  The attack on the research center was approved by Prime Minister Mileikowski (a/k/a Netanyhu).  When the Il-20 was in the air, so were 3 F-16s.  The idea was to shadow the transport aircraft and fire at the base.  But, what happened became a nightmare.

Syrian air defense units were not told about the Russian airplane.  When Zionist aircraft appeared on their screens, they perfunctorily fired at the targets.  It is evident from the swift Zionist retreat that there was realization that Syrian air defense missiles could hit the Russian aircraft.  And they did, causing the Ilyushin to crash into the Mediterranean.

Initial Russian reaction was to blame the French who were accused of firing cruise missiles at Latakia even though the “false flag” CW event had not taken place.  This could mean that the CW event was scheduled to take place on Monday, but, that the Turkish-Russian agreement at Socchi aborted that.  It is possible and it is an indication of just how incompetent the French really are.

It is also obvious now that the Kremlin is fuming over this.  Mileikowski constantly crows about how much coordination exists between Russian and Zionist forces in Syria.  This was an example of how treacherous these Zionists really are.

The Scourge of Modern ‘Liberalism’ in France –By Pierre Lescaudron – (SOTT)

In these depressing times marked by lies, fear and nihilism, I would like to brighten your mood by sharing a heart warming story. A real life event that is better than a fairy tale and should restore your faith in humanity and our burgeoning postmodern society.

A Modern Fairy Tale

What happened? In a nutshell, a heroic individual saved a 4 year old boy from a deadly fall.

Gassama climbing up to save the boy

Gassama climbing up to save the boy

On Saturday, May 26th 2018, at 8:00 p.m. in Paris 18th district, the boy was left alone by his white French father who was busy playing Pokemon Go. The boy went to the balcony and fell from the 6th floor over the handrail.

During the fall, the vigorous young boy managed somehow to grab the 4th floor handrail as he hurtled toward the ground. Hanging there precariously, death seemed just a few moments away.

Fortunately, Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali was in the right place at the right time. He saw the distressed boy and swiftly climbed 4 floors of the building exterior, pulled up the boy over the handrail and safely dropped him on the balcony while the crowd cheered and clapped.

Here is the video made by an eyewitness:

Less than 24 hours after the heroic rescue, French President Macron received Gassama at the presidential palace. The latter was immediately given French citizenship and a job in a firefighters squad.

Macron receiving Gassama at the presidential palace

Macron receiving Gassama at the presidential palace

Then Gassama was received at Paris town hall and given its highest distinction: the vermeil medal of Paris. Gassama’s triumph went international, and a few days later the hero received a BET award in Los Angeles.

So, here you have it, all the ingredients of a good tale : Gassama, the hero from an oppressed minority, the powerless innocent victim, the dramatic tension, a literal cliffhanger and the happy ending. Frankly it was as good as a scene directly extracted from a Spiderman movie.

But like in every fairy tale or superhero movie, there’s always a villain. In this case, the villian appeared four days after the heroic rescue, and goes by the name of André Bercoff.

The Evil Witch of Reality

French journalist and writer André Bercoff

French journalist and writer André Bercoff

Bercoff is a prominent French journalist and writer. He worked for some of the most prestigious French newspapers from Le Monde to Liberation. His career spans over 6 decades during which he wrote about 30 books about politics and society. He is also the chairman of the press club de France, the largest professional organization for journalists in the country.

From the professional career of Bercoff we can safely assume he is not a deviant or a transgressor of the established order, quite the contrary.

However, on May 30th Bercoff crossed the unofficial red line and dared to question the official narrative that was unanimously agreed upon by the mainstream media right after the event and way before the results of any detailed investigation. Well, questioning, finding the truth, is the essence of journalism, right?

Puzzling Questions

Believing in this seemingly outdated and politically incorrect principle of journalism, Bercoff started examining the official story and found some inconsistencies. First he pointed to changes in the official narrative:

The boy fell from the 6th floor and was found at the 4th floor

The boy fell from the 6th floor and was found at the 4th floor

– the kid was supposedly living on the 4th floor (where he was saved) then on the 5th floor and finally it was the 6th floor since the concierge stated that the apartment on the 5th floor is unoccupied and that the boy parents indeed lived on the 6th (last) floor.

– in the video of the rescue the neighbor is relatively stocky and wears a beard, during his interview a few hours after the event the neighbor is slim and has no beard.

Bercoff also asks: knowing that Gassama managed to pull the boy up with only one hand and that at one point the stocky neighbor had both his hands on the kids, why didn’t the neighbor pull the kid up? For reference at age 4, a boy weights about 15 kg/33lbs.

Bercoff also wondered how the kid fell since the handrail is taller than him and no furniture is visible through the transparent railing of the 6th floor balcony.

Last but not least, Bercoff wonders how can a 4 year old kid grab a handrail after a 2 storey fall? For reference after a 6m free fall (two floors) a body has already reached about 40km/h.

Any rock climber will tell you that it is impossible for a fit adult to stop themselves by grabbing on to something with their arms when falling at 40km/h. A child is even less likely to be able to manage such a feat given that their high center of gravity – due to a large head to body mass ratio – means children tend to fall head first.

Yet somehow, this boy managed to do it and, in the process, only suffered one torn toenail. This point is so puzzling that even mainstream and website dedicated to debunking ‘conspiracy theories’ were forced to dismiss this inconvenient fact by describing it as ‘miraculous’.

Questioning is Now a Crime

“Don’t speak out or question”

Bercoff was unanimously labelled a conspiracy theorist, despite the fact that he never mentioned the word “conspiracy” and even dismissed the idea that a conspiracy was involved in the event.

The truth is that Bercoff did not cross any line, but rather the ideological line enforced by the dominant culture that makes asking uncomfortable questions taboo, crossed Bercoff. The very essence of human progress – questioning and the ensuing learning – are now forbidden.

To justify this totalitarian drift that even Orwell couldn’t imagine, the media and political elite suggest that such questions are “suggestive”. That is the very definition of thought crime, where it’s not tangible facts or words that matter, but the thoughts behind them, the intention, the implicit. The problem is that thoughts are intangible and therefore any censor, any inquisitor, can ascribe to his target any deviant thought that can be used to criminalize and silence him. That is the terror of the arbitrary.

The Political Context

Gassama’s miraculous rescue raises some obvious questions and doubts. What really occurred during this event may never be known, but we can get a good idea of the validity of the official story by considering how it was politically instrumentalized and the political context in which this instrumentalizing took place. Let’s look at French President Macron’s recent political moves.

1- April 10th: Macron receives Saudi king Salman.
2- April 15th: Macron justifies military strikes against Syria (not EI)
3- May 28th: Macron receives and praises Gassama and gives citizenship and job.
4- June 21th: Macron organizes a LGBT black rap band party at the Presidential palace
5- June 23rd: Macron supports financial sanctions against EU countries that refuse to accept migrants.

These five events, occurring over the last two months, might seem benign and unrelated at first sight. However, as you will see below, they are complementary aspects of a single political stance and perfectly summarize the essence of the liberal doctrine in terms of migration. Let’s analyze those events and their political, social and cultural implications.

Smily Ben Salman and Macron during Saudi official visit

Smiling Ben Salman and Macron during Saudi official visit

First event: Macron welcomes Saudi king Ben Salman.

Saudia Arabia is the main funder of ISIS.

Saudi Arabia is also the cradle of Wahabism/Salafism, a form of literal and fundamentalist Islam that preaches Jihad and Sharia law.

For fundamentalists, religious law is the one and only law. Fundamentalist Islam is a theocracy which is, by definition, incompatible with Western nations.

Along with the Muslim brotherhood, which is the other dominant fundamentalist Islam, supported this time by Qatar, wahhabism is the rising form of Islam and shows an increasing presence in France.

Today about 200 wahabist/salafist mosques and places of prayers are listed in France. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of salafist mosques increased by 170%. The Muslim brotherhood controls about 100 mosques.

Country of origin for asylum seekers

Country of origin for asylum seekers

Second event: Macron bombs Syria not ISIS.

Like other European countries, France actively participates to the destruction of the Middle East and Africa (including Mali where Gassama is born).

Punitive and arbitrary wars waged by the West are one of the fundamental causes of migratory flows: people escape war.

In addition, Macron supports ISIS by weakening its main opponents: Syria through attacks on the Syrian government and military and Russia through economic sanctions. ISIS terrorizes local populations, increases migration flows and spreads the most extreme form of Islamism.

Unsurprisingly, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, three countries destroyed by western wars and today the seat of Islamist terror (Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria and Iraq) are the three main purveyors of refugees that reach Europe.

Third event: Gassama becomes a national hero.

Macron, like the rest of the political and media sphere, praise Gassama while ignoring that people save others every week. For example, a few days after the Gassama event, a French soldier saved an 18 month kid who was hanging from a balcony. The media barely mentioned it.

The Gassama event encapsulates the liberal doctrine: migrants are heroes, local Europeans are despicable, they are not even able to take care of their own kids and prefer, instead, to play Pokemon Go. As a result of his incompetency the father is being prosecuted for withdrawal of parental custody and risks 2 years in prison and a €30,000 fine.

The Gassama event is not isolated, it is part of the manufacturing of consent in Western nations. Another striking example of a stage-managed event to serve the liberal ideology is the Theo case. It was all over the French media in 2017.

Hollande visting Theo Luhaka

Hollande visting Theo Luhaka

Allegedly, French cops sodomized an innocent young African (Theo) with a baton. You should have seen the indignation, the bashing of the evil French white cops and by the extension the whole French white authority and people. The firing of the racist cops. The gruesome details about Theo’s pants being forced down, the 10 cm anal fissure, burst sphincter, racist insults, humiliations. And the overflowing compassion: mass demonstrations supporting Theo, President Hollande vising Theo in hospital.

After months of investigation including analysis of video footage and the input of medical experts, the truth finally came to light and it was almost the exact opposite to what was claimed: Theo is part of a family involved in massive fraud, he personally was involved in drug dealing, he resisted arrest, he punched one of the cops, they arrested him. No sodomy or racial insults occurred, his pants were never pulled down.

In contrast to the message that these two overmediatized cases attempted to convey, not all migrants are heroes or victims, not all natives are incompetent or violent. The reality is much more nuanced. By focusing on cherry-picked or manufactured events that put migrants in a good light and local natives in a bad light, the globalist elite attempt to manipulate public opinion.

But a backlash is already occurring.

One by one, European countries (Italy, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia) have begun to claim back their sovereignty and enforcing limits on migration through border control. The European governments and EU central powers that still promote mass migration are becoming more and more isolated and out of touch with with the will of the majority of the people they supposedly represent.

Self-styled liberals and radical leftists want to impose their idyllic multicultural open border vision of the world on everyone, but they are totally disconnected from reality. They claim not to see the destructive consequences of non-integrated mass migration: the rise in crime, in unemployment, the financial costs, the dissolution of culture, the fragmentation of societies and the loss of identity where, in a growing number of enclaves, European people feel like they are crossing the Mediterranean Sea just by opening their door.

Fourth event: Macron organizes a black LGBT party at the Elysee.

Macron could have invited artists that represented French identity, its history and its culture. But according to the French president there is no French culture, as he officially stated: ”there’s no French culture, there is a culture in France and it is diverse”.

Not only does Macron deny French culture, he has also denounced the barbarity of a French nation that embraces wars, colonialism, patriarchy, white patriarchy. Macron officially declared on February 15th 2017:

[colonialism] is a crime against humanity. It is a real barbarity and it is part of this past that we must face and also apologize to those against whom we have committed these actions.

A nation that wallows in guilt, regrets,and shame opens the door to victimhood mentality and victimhood competition. Any individual in France today can feel that the minority he identifies with has been wronged at some point by France. Macron’s statement reinforces victimhood and the subsequent drift towards entitlement, reparation and ultimately endless revenge.

The afro LGBT band Kiddy Smile and the Macrons

The afro LGBT band Kiddy Smile and the Macrons

So, faithful to his negation of the French identity and condemnation of French historical barbarity, Macron invited a rap band made up of black LGBT activists. Rap is the ‘artistic’ arm of liberalism, it preaches non-integration, hate of the white nations and white people, disrespect for the law, murder of police officers (among other things)

This celebration of decadence happened in one of the most symbolic places of the French nation, the Presidential palace that hosted De Gaulle, Kennedy, Trump and Putin. Times sure are changing!

The real cherry on the pie here however is that this insult to France was funded by those who were directly insulted: French taxpayers. French government cynicism has no limit, it would seem.

The French government’s liberal doctrine has replaced assimilation with multiculturalism in the name of diversity, respect of differences, tolerance and open-mindedness.

Assimilation aims to make individuals truly French, where migrants adopt and embrace French culture, history, customs and language. In the end, assimilated migrants become more French than the French as illustrated, for example, by the over-representation of descendants of Spanish and Italian migrants in French nationalist parties.

The French assimilation model started in 1860, earlier than any other European country It was the antithesis of the multiculturalism that has prevailed in Northern Europe countries like the UK or the Netherlands.

For over 100 years, France successfully assimilated migrants from Eastern Europe, Southern Europe and Africa. This assimilated migration was a driving force in the development of France during this period. But assimilation ended in the 60s with the rise of the postmodernist doctrine that negates identity, culture, history. Indeed, if there is no national identity, then how can anyone assimilate into it?.

Fifth event: Macron want to sanction countries like Italy which aim to control mass migration.

The Aquarius carries 629 migrants to Europe

The Aquarius carries 629 migrants to Europe

This arrogant and ignorant statement shows that Macron wants mass migration in Europe and in France because he knows very well that the migrants that reach Italy won’t stay in Italy. For reference half of the 630 migrants on the Aquarius want asylum in France.

Macron’s statement is hypocritical on a domestic level because during his presidential campaign he demanded the reinforcement of European borders and deportation of illegal migrants. It is hypocritical on an international level because Macron wants Italy to accept migrants but doesn’t want to open the French ports to migrant boats.

Macron wants mass migration but he doesn’t want it to be visible because he knows that a majority of the French people reject it. In a recent survey, 76% of the French population want a referendum on immigration. So Macron makes decisions that promote mass migration while multiplying official statements about controlling migration.

Imagine You Were a Migrant

Jihadists in Northern Mali

Jihadists in Northern Mali

Imagine you’re a foreigner, say a Muslim from Mali. Your country has been colonized by France, then your country has been plundered by French multinational corporations (uranium), and then your country has been bombed by France (See point 2 -Macron bombs Syria not ISIS). You might understandably feel some resentment towards France.

You leave your country because of the war and the growing presence of ISIS (See point 2 -Macron bombs Syria not ISIS) and you end up in France because of the open border policy (see point 5 – Macron supports mass migration)

The temporal powers, whether NGOs, politicians, media, administration or artists, all say the same thing : ‘do not assimilate to the evil white culture which anyway doesn’t exist. Stay true to your roots and stick to your community and traditions‘ (see point 4 – the presidential party)

The great Mosque of Lyon, funded by Saudi Arabia

The great Mosque of Lyon, funded by Saudi Arabia

If you’re worried about the locals’ reaction to your non-integration, do not worry, illegal migrants are national heroes and locals are loosers (see point 3 – Gassama the superhero)

If you are dissatisfied with this dividing discourse towards the nation that, after all is hosting you, you might turn to the spiritual powers in search for a wiser message. Unfortunately, the mosques controlled by the Salafists, Wahhabis and the Muslim brotherhood carry a similarly dividing message: ‘submit to the divine law before the civil law, your nation is the Muslim nation’. In other words: ‘be a Muslim, not a citizen‘. (see point 1 Macron receives Ben Salman)

The Worst Of The Left Marries The Worst Of The Right

I used the word ‘liberalism’ several times in this article and the word has different definitions in Europe and the US.

In the US, liberalism is a social ideology promoting freedom, i.e. the destruction of any authority: nations, family, religions. In Europe, liberalism is an economic ideology that promotes freedom too: free market and the subsequent destruction of states, laws and regulations.

Economic liberalism and social liberalism are two sides of the same coin. They work synergetically, the latter producing uprooted, valueless, identity-less individuals that can be economically exploited, while the former produces exhausted dumbed-down individuals that swallow the inanities of postmodernism.

Economic Liberalism and Social liberalism have a fundamental element in common: destruction in the name of freedom. Economic liberalism physically destroys workers and the planet. Social Liberalism destroys the very soul of individuals by annihilating all that feeds it: love, truth, meaning and beauty that were conveyed through ‘traditional systems’ like family, nation, religion, art.

Historically, the right was the enforcer of economic liberalism while the left was the enforcer of social liberalism. Today those two movements have merged and politicians like Macron (and many others like Obama, Merkel, H. Clinton,…) bring us the worst of the right: predatory capitalism and the worse of the left: postmodernist’s nihilism.


The Western world has destroyed the old order in the name of freedom. But individuals and societies have a deep need for order, as French poet Alfred Auguste Pilavoine wrote in 1845

“Order and freedom, two words perfectly correlative and which have real meaning only in relation to each other; no freedom without order, no order without freedom. Order without freedom is tyranny; freedom without order is obscenity.”

The french revolution, and its corollary the 1968 revolution, have created a spiritual, social, moral and cultural void. The vacuum of nihilist societies will be filled by a new authority, and for such purposes Islam is a prime candidate:

  • In Europe the millennial religious order (Christianity) has been destroyed while Islam brings a strong and growing religion.
  • The patriarchal authority incarnated by the father, the teacher, the priest, has been destroyed, while Islam brings a fundamentally patriarchal model of society.
  • The sexual revolution has erased any form of sexual restraint, while Islam is very clear and firm about sexual restraint.
  • Traditional communities, family and nation, have been destroyed, while Islam provides a strong and deep sense of community (Oumma).
  • The West has replaced legal duties with legal rights, while Islam provides a comprehensive set of legal duties (Sharia).
  • Any sense of meaningful ideals or purpose has been annihilated in the West while Islam provides a very clear meaning to life (Jihad).

It’s more than a little ironic that as postmodernists destroyed the old order, western patriarchal societies, in the name of freedom, opened the way for a new order – Islam – that is decidedly more authoritative and arbitrary.

As if the tensions in Europe were not strong enough, some third party liberals pour oil on the fire with a spate of ‘Islamic terrorism’: the Bataclan massacre, the Charlie Hebdo attack, the Manchester concert bombing, the Westminster bridge attack (among many others). All of which bear the clear fingerprints not of Islamism but state terrorism.

Obviously some puppet masters want to flood Europe with mass migration and maximize tensions between communities. The desired result is obviously the destruction of Europe.The last remaining question is: will they succeed?

Pierre Lescaudron

Pierre Lescaudron (M.Sc., MBA) pursued a career in executive management, consulting and post-graduate teaching in high tech fields.

He then became an editor and writer for, fulfilling his dream of researching science, technology and history.

Pierre is a certified Eiriu Eolas instructor and the author of “Earth Changes and the Human Cosmic Connection”.

Putin chastizes Macron over Iran sanctions on video: You’re not sovereign, you’re “like obedient little children” – By Michael Bateman (Russia Insider)(SOTT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is applauded by his French counterpat Emmanuel Macron after delivering a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia May 25, 2018.

© Grigory Dukor / Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin is applauded by his French counterpat Emmanuel Macron after delivering a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia May 25, 2018.

There has been much talk of Macron behaving like the leader of a sovereign nation recently, but we don’t buy it.

To us, he still has the manner of a schoolboy trying hard to ingratiate himself with grownups. Plus, he is distinctly effeminate.

He obviously didn’t get to where he is on his own merits, rather he was put there by people who are probably not very effeminate.

Putin is a plain-spoken, no BS kind of guy, so this exchange was entertaining.

Macron was trying to say that France is a sovereign nation, which is obviously not true – just look how cravenly they toed the Israeli line in joining in on the recent attack on Syria, Macron spouting the lies dictated to him by his masters. It was pathetic and embarrassing.

Here, Putin gently explains to Macron that he is mistaken.

In the video, Putin’s words are mistranslated as: “You paid like the dearest ones”, which loses all the punch of the original Russian. What Putin actually said is “You paid like ‘milenki’, the sense of which can be better conveyed with ‘obedient little children’. We corrected it in the transcript below.

The translation comes from Putin’s Press Office, which is run by Mr. Peskov. Leave it to government bureaucrats to blow Putin’s best one-liner of the weekend. Mr. Peskov, it is time you hired native English speaking translators who actually speak English. The quality of the translations coming from your office are frequently quite awful, especially when quoting Putin.

The president of France attending his first day of work with his mother Sorry, but this is very, very strange



Concerning international security, I would like to assure Vladimir, that I am not afraid since France has an army

that can protect my country

but I have a strict obligation in relation to other European allies

and I think that this kind of the European security architecture is our responsibility.

In any case, we will not turn our back to anyone, and will not do it at the expense of other European countries.

I will do it this way since I am not afraid and I will fulfill my obligations



Of course, one shouldn’t be afraid but the practice says differently.

Look, we are all dealing with Iranian issue, there were already cases of implementing American sanctions against European companies

9 billion dollars fine was paid by PBNP Paribas French bank, then Deutsche bank for violation of the unilateral sanctions

And what happened? You payed it like obedient little children

the same happened with a Japanese bank

This practice should stop.

This is unacceptable, this is what is all about.

So, if this continues… What is good about it?

This is what destroys the existing world order.

We, nevertheless, need to agree with our American partners on any other rules of conduct

This is extremely important because this is something that underlies our today’s discussion.

Trust. Either there is some or there’s no.

If there is no, then nothing good will come out it

Then, it will be like I said in the speech, nothing except force will rule, and this can lead to a tragedy at the end.

Comment: Putin is adept at dealing with duplicitous weasels like Macron:

Middle East teeters on brink of region-wide war after US withdrawal from Iran deal – By Jordan Shilton (WSWS)


By Jordan Shilton
10 May 2018

Tuesday’s decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear agreement has pushed the Middle East to the brink of a catastrophic regional conflict that could rapidly draw in the major powers.

Within minutes of Trump’s announcement, Israeli fighter jets violated Syrian airspace to launch a missile strike on a government base close to Damascus. The strikes caused the deaths of 15 people, including at least seven Iranian military personnel stationed in the country to support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The situation escalated further late Wednesday, as reports emerged of Israeli shelling of Syrian army positions from the Golan Heights. Rocket sirens sounded in the north and explosions were heard. According to the Golan Regional Council, several towns in the region were targeted by rocket fire.

The Israeli military released a statement early Thursday accusing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds force of firing 20 rockets at army border posts in the Golan. It claimed several projectiles had been intercepted and reported no injuries.

According to the Syrian state news agency, Sana, Israeli war planes began firing missiles at targets near Damascus early Thursday, soon after the alleged Iranian attack. As of this writing, the extent of these air raids and whether they caused any casualties remain unclear.

Tel Aviv justified Tuesday’s air strike with the unsubstantiated claim that Tehran was preparing to strike Israel in retaliation for a raid on the T4 airbase in April that claimed the lives of nine Iranians. The absurdity of such allegations is obvious, given that Iran would have nothing to gain from being the first to launch an attack just as Trump was set to announce his decision on the Iran nuclear agreement.

Everything points to the Israeli attack having been closely coordinated with the US. On Sunday, Israeli media began reporting unverified allegations of an Iranian plot to strike targets in Israel. Then on Tuesday, CNN reported that the Pentagon was concerned about alleged preparations for an Iranian strike.

In light of this, it is all but certain that the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, informed in advance of Trump’s decision, planned the aggressive strike on the Syrian airbase to coincide with the US announcement, with the aim of provoking a response from Iran that would serve as the pretext for a wider military assault.

The air strike was accompanied by a campaign to whip up a war fever in Israel. Amid the reports of an immanent Iranian attack, the military revealed that it had deployed additional batteries for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence shield in the north, while the US embassy in Tel Aviv prohibited US government employees from traveling to the Golan Heights without prior authorization.

Speaking from Moscow, where he traveled to secure Russian assent to Israel’s continued targeting of Iranians in Syria, Netanyahu preposterously compared the Tehran regime to the Nazis. He belligerently asserted Israel’s right to “defend itself” from “Iranian aggression,” and alleged that Iranian forces were using Syria as a base to move troops and lethal weapons into position for an attack.

Underscoring that Tuesday’s air strike is merely a foretaste of what is to come, an Israeli government defence official told Haaretz, “The strikes on the Iranian missiles in Syria are a drop in the ocean. Even the army understands that this won’t prevent missiles and other systems from arriving in the area and we’re seeing that happen.”

Trump’s abandonment of the Iranian deal is only the latest in a long line of reckless actions by US imperialism that have emboldened the unstable Zionist regime to provoke a military conflagration across the Middle East.

Israel’s bombing of Iranian targets inside Syria has been intensified following the US air strike on pro-Assad forces in early February that killed dozens of Russian military personnel in Deir Ezzor province.

Over the past month alone, Israel has struck inside Syria on at least three separate occasions, including Tuesday’s strike, killing dozens of Iranians.

Washington is encouraging Israel to go on the offensive as it prepares for war with Iran. In Syria, where the US has sought, in collaboration with Islamist “rebels,” to overthrow the pro-Iranian Assad regime for over seven years, killing hundreds of thousands of Syrians in the process, American forces are focused on thwarting attempts by Iran to open up a land bridge from Tehran to Damascus. To this end, US air power and ground forces have been directed towards holding territory in the east of Syria near the Iraqi border—territory that is also home to much of the country’s oil reserves.

In its drive to consolidate control over the energy-rich Middle East, Washington is determined to confront Russia in Syria, even at the risk of inciting a conflict fought with nuclear weapons.

Trump made clear in Tuesday’s White House address announcing Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement that plans for war with Iran are far advanced. He announced that the highest level of economic sanctions would be imposed against the country, indicating that the next step in an escalation of the conflict would involve military force.

That Trump is aware of this fact was clear from the tone of his speech. The president of a country that has waged virtually uninterrupted war over the past quarter-century in the Middle East and Central Asia denounced Tehran as the leading “state sponsor of terror” in the world. In language usually reserved for enemy nations during a war, Trump ranted against Tehran’s “malign and sinister” influence across the Middle East.

On Wednesday, Trump issued a bellicose threat to Iran, warning that it would face “very severe consequences” if it restarted its nuclear programme.

Under these conditions, the bourgeois-clerical regime in Tehran, confronting a deepening crisis, may conclude that its only option is to fight back. Representatives of the hard-line faction, including the head of the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, have already proclaimed the nuclear accord dead and dismissed claims by the European powers that it can be revived without Washington.

While a clash between Israel and Iran poses the most immediate war threat in the Middle East, Trump’s torpedoing of the Iran deal has further destabilised an already explosive region. Apart from Israel, his announcement received endorsements from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two countries bitterly hostile to Iranian influence in the Persian Gulf. Riyadh has waged a genocidal war in Yemen since 2015 against Houthi rebels it claims are backed by Tehran.

In a speech last May, Trump called for Saudi Arabia to take a leading role in the formation of an anti-Iranian alliance across the region. His administration, following from where Obama left off, has supplied weaponry and intelligence to enable Saudi aircraft to continue their murderous bombing raids in Yemen, which have killed tens of thousands of civilians.

Just days prior to Trump’s announcement, it was revealed that US special forces have been operating in Yemen since December 2017.

As oil rose to over $77 in the wake of Trump’s Iran announcement, Saudi officials declared they would consult with the UAE on increasing oil production to stabilise prices, a move that would severely impact Iran.

Seizing on missiles fired into Saudi Arabia by Houthi rebels Wednesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir blamed Iran for the attack, which he said amounted to a “declaration of war.” Iran has to be “held accountable for this,” he ominously declared. “We will find the right way and at the right time to respond to this … We are trying to avoid at all costs direct military action with Iran, but Iran’s behavior such as this cannot continue.”

Al-Jubeir also vowed that should Tehran restart its nuclear programme, Riyadh would take steps to acquire nuclear weapons.

‘Iran has no reason to strike Golan’: Analysts dispute Israel’s ‘political’ claim of missile attack – By RT

‘Iran has no reason to strike Golan’: Analysts dispute Israel’s ‘political’ claim of missile attack
Staging a missile attack on the Golan Heights makes no sense for Tehran under the current circumstances, military experts told RT. They speculate that Israel’s claims about the attack lack solid proof and might be agenda-driven.

“Every time one resorts to arms, one seeks to hit some particular targets and has to analyze the potential consequences [of the attack],” Leonid Ivashov, the president of the Academy for Geopolitical Problems and a retired colonel-general of the Russian military intelligence (GRU), told RT. Ivashov was commenting on the reports accusing Iran’s Quds Force of launching a missile attack on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights from Syrian territory.

“It would be just egregiously silly to launch a missile targeting the region of Golan Heights [which is heavily guarded by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)] as it would certainly prompt military response,” Ivashov said. Iran has “absolutely no reasons” to launch a missile strike against Israel, he added.

The retired colonel-general also drew attention to the fact that Tehran is even less inclined to make such moves at a time when the fate of the 2015 deal on the Iranian nuclear program is in limbo. “Iran is highly interested in keeping the deal” intact, Ivashov said, implying that Tehran would probably avoid any aggressive steps that could spark a backlash from the international community.

Tehran is also not interested in drawing Israel into the Syrian conflict, Dr. Konstantin Sivkov, a military analyst and the head of the Geostrategists’ Association, told RT. There are no serious reasons for Iranian forces in Syria to attack Israel, he said, adding that “if Israel does engage in the Syrian war, it will have dire consequences both for the Iranians and the Syrians.”

Sivkov also called the latest series of incidents a “dangerous game” that is fraught with perilous consequences, ranging from rapid escalation of tensions in the region to a risk of a global conflict. In the meantime, the analysts drew attention to the fact that the Israeli claims about the suspected Iranian attack actually lack solid proof.

“Israel has so far provided absolutely no evidence of the attack” except for the claims from its military, Ivashov said, adding that Tel Aviv, just like some of its allies in the West, rarely bothers with presenting any evidence that could justify its actions. The Israeli authorities and the military believe “they can launch strikes at will,” he added.

In the meantime, Igor Korotchenko, the editor-in-chief of the ‘National Defense’ magazine and the member of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Public Council, said that Tel Aviv’s claims might, in fact, be politically motivated. This whole issue “might as well have a political vector aimed at demonizing Iran and its allies,” he told RT.

According to Ivashov, this could also be an attempt to support the US in its decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran, as the incidents took place just days after US President Donald Trump announced that he would pull the US out of the agreement. Meanwhile, Sivkov said that it is Israel that is actually responsible for the escalation in the region, as it repeatedly carried out strikes against targets in Syrian territory just because it “did not like” the fact that the Iranian forces are present in the war-torn country.

“Syria has a legitimate right to deploy any troops on its territory,” Sivkov said. Israel’s strikes against the targets located on “the territory of another sovereign state” are a violation of international law and a direct “act of military aggression,” he added.

On Wednesday, it was reported that sirens were heard in the occupied Golan Heights. Later, the Israeli media, citing the IDF, said that the local missile defense systems repelled a missile attack, which was supposedly staged by the Iranian Quds Force. Some 20 missiles were launched into the Israeli-controlled territory, according to the media.

In response, the Israeli Air Force launched a massive strike against what they called the Iranian facilities in Syria overnight into Thursday. A total of 70 projectiles, including 60 air-to-surface rockets and more than 10 surface-to-surface missiles, hit Iranian military targets and Syrian air-defense systems near Damascus and in the south of the country on Thursday morning, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Three people were killed and another two were injured in the Israeli strike that destroyed a radar station and an arms warehouse and damaged some air defense units, the Syrian SANA state news agency reported.

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Time to ‘take fate into its own hands’: Europe can’t rely on US protection anymore, says Merkel – By RT

Time to ‘take fate into its own hands’: Europe can’t rely on US protection anymore, says Merkel
Europe can no longer count on the US in defense and must take matters into its own hands, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, who also said: “Something should be done.”

“It’s no longer the case that the United States will simply just protect us,” Merkel said in a speech honoring President Macron, who came to Aachen to receive the prestigious Charlemagne Prize. Receiving a round of applause, Merkel stated: “Rather, Europe needs to take its fate into its own hands. That’s the task for the future.

Europe has to “act together and speak with one voice,” she said, as cited by Germany’s Die Welt newspaper. “But let’s be honest: Europe is still in its infancy with regard to the common foreign policy.”

Speaking after Merkel, Macron said that “We should not be waiting, we must do something right now. Let us not be weak,” added the French president.

Last year, Merkel had made a similar statement, urging Europe to become less dependent on its transatlantic ally. “The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days,” she told a crowd a day after attending the G7 summit in Italy.

The German chancellor, who secured her fourth term earlier this year, reiterated that Europeans “must really take our destiny into our own hands, of course in friendship with the United States, in friendship with Great Britain, with good neighborly relations wherever possible, also with Russia and other countries.”

Nevertheless, countries within the EU “have to know that we have to fight for our future and our fate ourselves as Europeans.”

Merkel’s statement comes shortly after US President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, prompting a backlash from members of the accord, including Germany. On Wednesday, the German chancellor said: “We will remain committed to this agreement and will do everything to ensure that Iran complies with its obligations.”

While Merkel avoided openly criticizing Trump, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas earlier accused the US leader of “not insignificantly throwing back the efforts to bring stability to the region.” Describing Trump’s decision as “incomprehensible,” Maas said the move would undermine confidence in international treaties.

On Thursday, he reiterated that it is crucial for Iran to stick to its obligations under the international nuclear deal, and that Moscow should use its influence on Tehran in this regard. Speaking after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Maas also said that Berlin and Moscow agreed that the Iran nuclear agreement should be upheld.

Moscow recently said it believes that there are ways to guarantee continued cooperation between Iran and the other parties to the deal despite Washington’s attempts to disrupt it. “There are means to guarantee that this cooperation would continue despite the attempts to deter it,” the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.

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Interview with Syrian president Assad: Syria is fighting terrorists, who are the army of the Turkish, US, and Saudi regimes – By Syrian Arab News Agency (SOTT)

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Bashar al-Assad said that France, Britain, and the US, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey are responsible for the war in Syria due to their support of the terrorism, describing the Western allegations about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Army as a farce and a very primitive play whose only goal is to attack the Syrian Army after the defeat of terrorists.

In an interview given to the Greek Kathimerini newspaper, President al-Assad said that Syria is fighting terrorists, who are the army of the Turkish, US, and Saudi regimes, stressing that any aggressor and any army, whether Turkish, French, or whoever, they are all enemies as long as they came to Syria illegally.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. It’s a pleasure to be here in Damascus.

President Assad: You’re most welcome in Syria.

Question 1: Let me ask you first of all, you know, there’s been accusation by the US and the Europeans about the use of chemical weapons, and there was an attack after that. What is your response to that? Was there a chemical attack? Were you responsible for it?

President Assad: First of all, we don’t have any chemical arsenal since we gave it up in 2013, and the international agency for chemical weapons made investigations about this, and it’s clear or documented that we don’t have. Second, even if we have it, we wouldn’t use it, for many different reasons. But let’s put these two points aside, let’s presume that this army has chemical weapons and it’s in the middle of the war; where should it be used? At the end of the battle? They should use it somewhere in the middle, or where the terrorists made advancement, not where the army finished the battle and terrorists gave up and said “we are ready to leave the area” and the army is controlling fully that area. So, the Western narrative started after the victory of the Syrian Army, not before. When we finished the war, they said “they used chemical weapons.”

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

Second, use of mass destruction armaments in a crammed area with a population like Douma – the supposed area, it’s called Douma and they talk about 45 victims- when you use mass destruction armaments in such an area, you should have hundreds or maybe thousands of victims in one time. Third, why all the chemical weapons, the presumed or supposed chemical weapons, only kill children and women? They don’t kill militants. If you look at the videos, it’s completely fake. I mean, when you have chemical weapons, how could the doctors and nurses be safe, dealing with the chemical atmosphere without any protective clothes, without anything, just throwing water at the victims, and the victims became okay just because you washed them with water. So, it’s a farce, it’s a play, it’s a very primitive play, just to attack the Syrian army, because… Why? That’s the most important part, is that when the terrorists lost, the US, France, UK, and their other allies who want to destabilize Syria, they lost one of their main cards, and that’s why they had to attack the Syrian Army, just to raise the morale of the terrorists and to prevent the Syrian Army from liberating more areas in Syria.

Question 2: But are you saying that there was an incident of chemical attack and someone else is responsible, or that there was nothing there?

President Assad: That’s the question, because, I mean, the side who said – allegedly – that there was a chemical attack, had to prove that there was an attack. We have two scenarios: either the terrorists had chemical weapons and they used them intentionally, or maybe there was explosions or something, or there was no attack at all, because in all the investigations in Douma people say “we didn’t have any chemical attack, we didn’t see any chemical gas, or didn’t smell” and so on. So, we don’t have any indications about what happened. The Western narrative is about that, so that question should be directed to the Western officials who said there was an attack. We should ask them: where is your concrete evidence about what happened? They only talk about reports. Reports could be allegations. Videos by the White Helmets, the White Helmets are funded by the British Foreign Office, and so on.

Question 3: President Trump, in a tweet, used a very strong expression. He said “animal Assad.” You remember that? What is your response to that?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: Actually, when you are in that position, I mean president of a country, you have first of all to represent the morals of your people before representing your own morals. You are representing your country. Question: does this language represent the American culture? That is the question. This is very bad, and I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s a community in the world that has such language. Second, the good thing about Trump is that he expresses himself in a very transparent way, which is very good in that regard. Personally, I don’t care, because I deal with the situation as a politician, as a president. It doesn’t matter for me personally; what matters is whether something would affect me, would affect my country, our war, the terrorists, and the atmosphere that we are living in.

Question 4: He said that his mission was accomplished. He said “mission accomplished in Syria.” How do you feel about that?

President Assad: I think maybe the only mission accomplished was when they helped ISIS escape from Raqqa, when they helped them, and it was proven by video, and under their cover, the leaders of ISIS escaped Raqqa, going toward Deir Ezzor just to fight the Syrian Army. The other mission accomplished was when they attacked the Syrian Army at the end of 2016 in the area of Deir Ezzor when ISIS was surrounding Deir Ezzor, and the only force was the Syrian Army. I mean, the only force to defend that city from ISIS was the Syrian Army, and because of the Americans’ – and of course their allies’ – attack, Deir Ezzor was on the brink of falling in the hand of ISIS. So, this is the only mission that was accomplished. If he’s talking about destroying Syria, of course that’s another mission accomplished. While if you talk about fighting terrorism, we all know very clearly that the only mission the United States have been doing in Syria is to support the terrorists, regardless of their names, of the names of their factions.

Question 5: But, I mean, he was using such language with the North Korean leader, and now they’re going to meet. Could you potentially see yourself meeting with Trump? What would you tell him if you saw him face to face?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: The first question you should ask, whether to meet or to make contact or whatever, what can you achieve? The other question: what can we achieve with someone who says something before the campaign, and does the opposite after the campaign, who says something today, and does the opposite tomorrow, or maybe in the same day. So, it’s about consistency. Do they have the same frequency every day, or the same algorithm? So, I don’t think in the meantime we can achieve anything with such an administration. A further reason is that we don’t think the president of that regime is in control. We all believe that the deep state, the real state, is in control, or is in control of every president, and this is nothing new. It has always been in the United States, at least during the last 40 years, at least since Nixon, maybe before, but it’s becoming starker and starker, and the starkest case is Trump.

Question 6: When is your mission going to be accomplished, given the situation here in Syria now?

President Assad: I have always said, without any interference, it will take less than a year to regain stability in Syria; I don’t have any doubt about this. The other factor is how much support the terrorists receive; this is something I cannot answer, because I cannot foretell. But as long as it continues, time is not the main factor. The main factor is that someday, we’re going to end this conflict and we’re going to re-unify Syria under the control of the government. When? I cannot answer. I hope it’s going to be soon.

Question 7: Now, there was some criticism lately, because you apparently have a law that says that anybody that doesn’t claim their property within a month, they cannot come back. Is that a way to exclude some of the people who disagree with you?

President Assad: No, we cannot dispossess anyone from their property by any law, because the constitution is very clear about the ownership of any Syrian citizen. This could be about the procedure. It’s not the first time we have such a law just to re-plan the destroyed and the illegal areas, because you’re dealing with a mixture of destroyed and illegal suburbs in different parts of Syria. So, this law is not about dispossessing anyone. You cannot, I mean even if he’s a terrorist, let’s say, if you want to dispossess someone, you need a verdict by the judicial system, I mean, you cannot make it by law. So, there’s either misinterpretation of that law, or an intention, let’s say, to create a new narrative about the Syrian government in order to rekindle the fire of public opinion in the West against the Syrian government. But about the law, I mean, even if you want to make a procedure, it’s about the local administration, it’s about the elected body in different areas, to implement that law, not the government.

Question 8: Now, who are your biggest allies in this fight? Obviously, they are Russia and Iran. Are you worried that they might play too an important role in the future of the country after this war is over?

President Assad: If you talk about my allies as a president, they are the Syrian people. If you talk about Syria’s allies, of course they’re the Iranians and the Russians. They are our strongest allies, and of course China that supported us politically in the Security Council. As for them playing an important role in the future of the country, these countries respect Syria’s sovereignty and national decision making and provide support to insure them. So, it doesn’t make sense for these countries to take part in a war to help Syria defend its sovereignty, and at the same time violate or interfere with this sovereignty. Iran and Russia are the countries which respect Syria’s sovereignty the most.

Question 9: How about Turkey now? Turkey did an intrusion, an invasion of part of your country. You used to have a pretty good relationship with President Erdogan. How is that relationship now after that intrusion?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: First of all, this is an aggression, this is an occupation. Any single Turkish soldier on Syrian soil represents occupation. That doesn’t mean the Turkish people are our enemies. Only a few days ago, we had a political delegation coming from Turkey. We have to distinguish between the Turks in general and Erdogan. Erdogan is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Maybe he’s not organized, but his affiliation is toward that ideology, I call it this dark ideology. And for him, because, like the West, when the terrorists lost control of different areas, and actually they couldn’t implement the agenda of Turkey or the West or Qatar or Saudi Arabia, somebody had to interfere. This is where the West interfered through the recent attacks on Syria, and this is where Erdogan was assigned by the West, mainly the United States, to interfere, to make the situation complicated, again because without this interference, the situation would have been resolved much faster. So, it’s not about personal relations. The core issue of the Muslim Brotherhood anywhere in the world is to use Islam in order to take control of the government in your country, and to create multiple governments having this kind of relation, like a network of Muslim Brotherhoods, around the world.

Question 10: In an election campaign rally, he said that two days ago, that he’s going to do another intrusion into Syria. How are you going to respond to that if it happens?

President Assad: Actually, since the very beginning of the war, Erdogan supported the terrorists, but at that time, he could hide behind words like “protecting the Syrian people, supporting the Syrian people, supporting the refugees, we are against the killing,” and so on. He was able to appear as a humanitarian president, let’s say. Now, because of these circumstances, he has to take off the mask and show himself as the aggressor, and this is the good thing. So, there is no big difference between the Turkish head of regime Erdogan sending his troops to Syria, and supporting the terrorists; this is his proxy. So, we’ve been fighting seven years his army. The difference actually between now and then is the appearance; the core is the same. At that time, we couldn’t talk about occupation, we could talk about supporting terrorists, but this time we could talk about occupation, which is the announcement of Erdogan that he’s now violating the international law, and this could be the good part of him announcing this.

Question 11: But how can you respond to that?

President Assad: First of all, we are fighting the terrorists, and as I said, the terrorists for us are his army, they are the American army, the Saudi army. Forget about the different factions and who is going to finance those factions; at the end, they work for one agenda, and those different players obey one master: the American master. Erdogan is not implementing his own agenda; he’s only implementing the American agenda, and the same goes for the other countries in this war. So, first of all, you have to fight the terrorists. Second, when you take control of more areas, you have to fight any aggressor, any army. The Turkish, French, whoever, they are all enemies; as long as they came to Syria illegally, they are our enemies.

Question 12: Are you worried about the potential third world war starting here in Syria? I mean, you have the Israelis hitting the Iranians, you know, here in your own country. You have the Russians, you have the Americans. Are you concerned about that possibility?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: No, for one reason: because fortunately, you have a wise leadership in Russia, and they know that the agenda of the deep state in the United States is to create a conflict. Since the campaign of Trump, the main agenda was against Russia, create a conflict with Russia, humiliate Russia, undermine Russia, and so on. And we’re still in the same process under different titles or by different means. Because of the wisdom of the Russians, we can avoid this. Maybe it’s not a full-blown third world war, but it is a world war, maybe in a different way, not like the second and the first, maybe it’s not nuclear, but it’s definitely not a cold war; it’s something more than a cold war, less than a full-blown war. And I hope we don’t see any direct conflict between these super powers, because this is where things are going to be out of control for the rest of the world.

Question 13: Now, there’s a very important question about whether Syria can be a unified, fully-sovereign country again. Is that really possible after all this that has happened?

President Assad: It depends on what the criteria of being unified or not is. The main factor to have a unified country is to have unification in the minds of the people, and vice versa. When those people look at each other as foreigners, they cannot live with each other, and this is where you’re going to have division. Now, if you want to talk about facts and reality, not my opinion, I can tell you no, it’s not going to be divided, and of course we’re not going to accept that, but it’s not about my will or about my rhetoric, to say we’re going to be unified; it’s about the reality. The reality, now, if you look at Syria during the crisis, not only today, since the very beginning, you see all the different spectrums of the Syrian society living with each other, and better than before. These relationships are better than before, maybe because of the effect of the war. If you look at the areas under the control of the terrorists, this is where you can see one color of the Syrian society, which is a very, very, very narrow color. If you want to talk about division, you have to see the line, the separation line between either ethnicities or sects or religions, something you don’t see. So, in reality, there’s no division till this moment; you only have areas under the control of the terrorists. But what led to that speculation? Because the United States is doing its utmost to give that control, especially now in the eastern part of Syria, to those terrorists in order to give the impression that Syria cannot be unified again. But it’s going to be unified; I don’t have any doubt about that.

Question 14: But why would the US do this if you’re fighting the same enemy: Islamic terrorism?

President Assad: Because the US usually have an agenda and they have goals. If they cannot achieve their goals, they resort to something different, which is to create chaos. Create chaos until the whole atmosphere changes, maybe because the different parties will give up, and they will give-in to their goals, and this is where they can implement their goals again, or maybe they change their goals, but if they cannot achieve it, it’s better to weaken every party and create conflict, and this is not unique to Syria. This has been their policy for decades now in every area of this world. That’s why, if you see conflicts around the world, after the British, the Americans are responsible for every conflict between different countries everywhere on this globe.

Question 15: Do you feel you’ve made any mistakes in dealing with this crisis and the civil war, when it started, if you look back?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: If I don’t make mistakes, I’m not human; maybe on daily basis sometimes. The more you work, the more complicated the situation, the more mistakes you are likely to make. But how do you protect yourself from committing mistakes as much as possible? First of all, to consult the largest proportion of the people, not only the institutions, including the parliament, syndicates, and so on. But also the largest amount of this society, or the largest part of the society, to participate in every decision.

While if you talk about the way I behaved toward, or the way I led, let’s say, the government or the state during the war, the main pillars of the state’s policy were to fight terrorism – and I don’t think that fighting terrorism was wrong – to respond to the political initiatives from different parties externally and internally regardless of their intentions, to make a dialogue with everyone – including the militants, and finally to make reconciliation; I don’t think we can say that this was wrong. So, about the pillars of our policy, I think the reality has proven that we were right. About the details, of course, you always have mistakes.

Question 16: Now, how much is it going to cost to reconstruct this country, and who is going to pay for this?

President Assad: Hundreds of billions, the minimum is two hundred, and in some estimations it’s about four hundred billion dollars. Why it’s not precise? Because some areas are still under the control of the terrorists, so we couldn’t estimate precisely what is the number. So, this is plus or minus, let’s say.

Question 17: Now, there is a lot of speculation, people say in order for a political solution to be viable, you might have to sacrifice yourself for the good of the country, you know this, that kind of speculation. Is that something that crosses you mind?

President Assad: The main part of my future, as a politician, is two things: my will and the will of the Syrian people. Of course, the will of the Syrian people is more important than my will; my desire to be in that position or to help my country or to play a political role, because if I have that desire and will and I don’t have the public support, I can do nothing, and I will fail, and I don’t have a desire to fail. After seven years of me being in that position, if I don’t have the majority of the Syrian people’s support, how could I withstand for more than seven years now, with all this animosity by the strongest countries and by the richest countries? Who supports me? If the Syrian people are against me, how can I stay? How could I achieve anything? How could we withstand? So, when I feel that the Syrian people do not want me to stay anymore, of course I have to leave without any hesitation.

Question 18: But you know, there is a lot of blood that has, you know, taken place, and all that, so can you see yourself sitting across from the opposition and sharing, you know, power in some way?

President Assad: When you talk about blood, you have to talk about who created that blood. I was president before the war for ten years, had I been killing the Syrian people for ten years? No, definitely not. So, the conflict started because somebody, first of all part of the West, supported those terrorists, and they bear the responsibility for this war. So first of all the West, who provided military and financial support and political cover, and who stood against the Syrian people, who impoverished the Syrian people and created a better atmosphere for the terrorists to kill more Syrian people. So, part of the West – mainly France, UK, and US, and also Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey are responsible for this part. It’s not enough to say there is blood; this is a very general term. Of course there is blood; it’s a war, but who’s responsible? Those who are responsible should be held accountable.

Question 19: Now, it’s been a few years since you visited Greece. Your father had a very close relation with some of the Greek political leaders. How have the relations been between Greece and Syria these days, and what kind of message would you like to send to the Greek people?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: At the moment, there are no formal relations between Syria and Greece; the embassies are closed, so there are no relations. At the same time, Greece wasn’t aggressive towards what happened in Syria. It always supported a political solution, it never supported war or attacks against Syria. You didn’t play any role to support the terrorists, but at the same time, as a member – and an important member – of the EU, you couldn’t play any role, let’s say, in refraining the other countries from supporting the terrorists, violating the international law by attacking and besieging a sovereign country without any reason, without any mandate by the Security Council. So, we appreciate that Greece wasn’t aggressive, but at the same time, I think Greece has to play that role, because it’s part of our region. It is part of the EU geographically, but it’s a bridge between our region and the rest of Europe, and it’s going to be affected, and it has been affected by the refugee situation, and the terrorism now has been affecting Europe for the last few years, and Greece is part of that continent. So, I think it’s normal for Greece to start to play its role in the EU in order to solve the problem in Syria and protect the international law.

Journalist: Thank you very much Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you.

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WATCH Surveillance Footage Catch Moment Syrian Air Defenses Down Israeli Missile – By SPUTNIK

This photo released on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows flames rising after an attack in an area known to have numerous Syrian army military bases, in Kisweh, south of Damascus, Syria

© AP Photo / SANA

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The massed missile strikes assumed to have been launched by Israel caused extensive damage to local infrastructure in the southern outskirts of Damascus and killed at least two people, but Syrian air defenses managed to intercept two of them, according to state media.

The Syrian Arab News Agency has released dramatic security camera footage showing the moment air defenses brought down an Israeli missile in the al-Kisweh area about 12 km southwest of the capital. The footage appears to show the flaming wreckage of missile parts as they fall out of the sky following a big explosion.

A medical source told SANA that at least two people, a local man and his wife, were killed in an explosion caused by one of the two interceptions. Western monitoring groups claim Tuesday night’s attacks have also killed Iranian nationals. Earlier, a source at Beirut International Airport told Sputnik that Israeli jets violated Lebanese airspace at the time of the suspected attack. The Israeli military has refused to comment. The al-Kisweh area is known to be home to numerous Syrian military bases.

Trump lacks ‘mental capacities,’ Iran says after US pulls out of nuclear deal – By RT

Trump lacks ‘mental capacities,’ Iran says after US pulls out of nuclear deal
The speaker of Iran’s parliament has offered a particularly scathing review of US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, saying Trump does not have the “mental capacity” for his job.

Trump announced that he was withdrawing the United States from the landmark deal on Tuesday, sparking an avalanche of criticism from both sides of the political divide in America and also upsetting the international community, including US allies and Russia.

The speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, took a particularly dim view of the decision telling the Iranian assembly that: “Trump does not have the mental capacity to deal with issues.”

“Trump’s abandoning of the nuclear deal was a diplomatic show… Iran has no obligation to honor its commitments under the current situation,” Larijani said. “It is obvious that Trump only understands the language of force.”

Members of parliament also chanted “Death to America,” and burned a US flag and a symbolic copy of the nuclear pact, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Reuters reports.

President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would remain committed to the deal despite Washington’s decision to withdraw from it. “If we achieve the deal’s goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place… By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

Rouhani added that he has ordered the foreign ministry to negotiate with European countries, China, and Russia in coming weeks. “If at the end of this short period we conclude that we can fully benefit from the JCPOA with the cooperation of all countries, the deal would remain,” he said.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Trump’s announcement was “silly and superficial.” He went on: “He had maybe more than 10 lies in his comments. Mr. Trump, I tell you, on behalf of the Iranian people: You’ve made a mistake.”

Reaction at home and abroad

The 2015 agreement lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program. Trump’s decision to back out of it has been met with a chorus of disapproval at home and abroad.

The Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, Dick Durbin, labelled it “a mistake of historic proportions” which “isolates the United States from the world.” Several GOP lawmakers also questioned Trump’s decision. “I just don’t think that it’s a wise move,” Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake told CNN, adding that it makes the US less reliable in the eyes of both its partners and adversaries.

A host of international powers also condemned the decision and vowed to protect the deal. Russia’s acting foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that Russia remains committed to the pact, while France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, insisted the deal was not dead.

“The deal is not dead. There’s an American withdrawal from the deal but the deal is still there,” he said. “The region deserves better than further destabilization provoked by American withdrawal. So we want to adhere to it and see to it that Iran does too, that Iran behaves with restraint.”

On Wednesday, China said it regrets the decision because it raises the risk of conflict in the Middle East. The Asian power said it will safeguard the deal and called on all relevant parties to assume a responsible attitude. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States will be the loser from President Trump’s decision.

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‘Creating Wealth’ Through Debt: How Parasitic Finance Capitalism Hijacked Productive Industrial Capitalism – By Michael Hudson (counterpunch) (SOTT)

This is the text of a speech Michael Hudson presented at Peking University’s School of Marxist Studies, May 5-6, 2018.

finance economy

Volumes II and III of Marx’s Capital describe how debt grows exponentially, burdening the economy with carrying charges. This overhead is subjecting today’s Western finance-capitalist economies to austerity, shrinking living standards and capital investment while increasing their cost of living and doing business. That is the main reason why they are losing their export markets and becoming de-industrialized.

What policies are best suited for China to avoid this neo-rentier disease while raising living standards in a fair and efficient low-cost economy? The most pressing policy challenge is to keep down the cost of housing. Rising housing prices mean larger and larger debts extracting interest out of the economy. The strongest way to prevent this is to tax away the rise in land prices, collecting the rental value for the government instead of letting it be pledged to the banks as mortgage interest.

The same logic applies to public collection of natural resource and monopoly rents. Failure to tax them away will enable banks to create debt against these rents, building financial and other rentier charges into the pricing of basic needs.

U.S. and European business schools are part of the problem, not part of the solution. They teach the tactics of asset stripping and how to replace industrial engineering with financial engineering, as if financialization creates wealth faster than the debt burden. Having rapidly pulled ahead over the past three decades, China must remain free of rentier ideology that imagines wealth to be created by debt-leveraged inflation of real-estate and financial asset prices.

Western capitalism has not turned out the way that Marx expected. He was optimistic in forecasting that industrial capitalists would gain control of government to free economies from unnecessary costs of production in the form of rent and interest that increase the cost of living (and hence, the break-even wage level). Along with most other economists of his day, he expected rentier income and the ownership of land, natural resources and banking to be taken out of the hands of the hereditary aristocracies that had held them since Europe’s feudal epoch. Socialism was seen as the logical extension of classical political economy, whose main policy was to abolish rent paid to landlords and interest paid to banks and bondholders.

A century ago there was an almost universal belief in mixed economies. Governments were expected to tax away land rent and natural resource rent, regulate monopolies to bring prices in line with actual cost value, and create basic infrastructure with money created by their own treasury or central bank. Socializing land rent was the core of Physiocracy and the economics of Adam Smith, whose logic was refined by Alfred Marshall, Simon Patten and other bourgeois economists of the late 19thcentury. That was the path that European and American capitalism seemed to be following in the decades leading up to World War I. That logic sought to use the government to support industry instead of the landlord and financial classes.

China is progressing along this “mixed economy” road to socialism, but Western economies are suffering from a resurgence of the pre-capitalist rentier classes. Their slogan of “small government” means a shift in planning to finance, real estate and monopolies. This economic philosophy is reversing the logic of industrial capitalism, replacing public investment and subsidy with privatization and rent extraction. The Western economies’ tax shift favoring finance and real estate is a case in point. It reverses John Stuart Mill’s “Ricardian socialism” based on public collection of the land’s rental value and the “unearned increment” of rising land prices.

Defining economic rent as the unnecessary margin of prices over intrinsic cost value, classical economists through Marx described rentiers as being economically parasitic, not productive. Rentiers do not “earn” their land rent, interest or monopoly rent, because it has no basis in real cost-value (ultimately reducible to labor costs). The political, fiscal and regulatory reforms that followed from this value and rent theory were an important factor leading to Marx’s value theory and historical materialism. The political thrust of this theory explains why it is no longer being taught.

By the late 19thcentury the rentiers fought back, sponsoring reaction against the socialist implications of classical value and rent theory. In America, John Bates Clark denied that economic rent was unearned. He redefined it as payment for the landlords’ labor and enterprise, not as accruing “in their sleep,” as J. S. Mill had characterized it. Interest was depicted as payment for the “service” of lending productively, not as exploitation. Everyone’s income and wealth was held to represent payment for their contribution to production. The thrust of this approach was epitomized by Milton Friedman’s Chicago School claim that “there is no such thing as a free lunch” – in contrast to classical economics saying that feudalism’s legacy of privatized land ownership, bank credit and monopolies was all about how to get a free lunch, by exploitation.

The other major reaction against classical and Marxist theory was English and Austrian “utility” theory. Focusing on consumer psychology instead of production costs, it claimed that there is no difference between value and price. A price is whatever consumers “choose” to pay for commodities, based on the “utility” that these provide – defined by circular reasoning as being equal to the price they pay. Producers are assumed to invest and produce goods to “satisfy consumer demand,” as if consumers are the driving force of economies, not capitalists, property owners or financial managers.

Using junk-psychology, interest was portrayed as what bankers or bondholders “abstain” from consuming, lending their self-denial of spending to “impatient” consumers and “credit-worthy” entrepreneurs. This view opposed the idea of interest as a predatory charge levied by hereditary wealth and the privatized monopoly right to create bank credit. Marx quipped that in this view, the Rothschilds must be Europe’s most self-depriving and abstaining family, not as suffering from wealth-addiction.

These theories that all income is earned and that consumers (the bourgeois term for wage-earners) instead of capitalists determine economic policy were a reaction against the classical value and rent theory that paved the way for Marx’s analysis. After analyzing industrial business cycles in terms of under-consumption or over-production in Volume I of Capital, Volume III dealt with the precapitalist financial problem inherited from feudalism and the earlier “ancient” mode of production: the tendency of an economy’s debts to grow by the “purely mathematical law” of compound interest.

Any rate of interest may be thought of as a doubling time. What doubles is not real growth, but the parasitic financial burden on this growth. The more the debt burden grows, the less income is left for spending on goods and services. More than any of his contemporaries, Marx emphasized the tendency for debt to grow exponentially, at compound interest, extracting more and more income from the economy at large as debts double and redouble, beyond the ability of debtors to pay. This slows investment in new means of production, because it shrinks domestic markets for output.

Marx explained that the credit system is external to the means of production. It existed in ancient times, feudal Europe, and has survived industrial capitalism to exist even in socialist economies. At issue in all these economic systems is how to prevent the growth of debt and its interest charge from shrinking economies. Marx believed that the natural thrust of industrial capitalism was to replace private banking and money creation with public money and credit. He distinguished interest-bearing debt under industrial capitalism as, for the first time, a means of financing capital investment. It thus was potentially productive by funding capital to produce a profit that was sufficient to pay off the debt.

Industrial banking was expected to finance industrial capital formation, as was occurring in Germany in Marx’s day. Marx’s examples of industrial balance sheets accordingly assumed debt. In contrast to Ricardo’s analysis of capitalism’s Armageddon resulting from rising land-rent, Marx expected capitalism to free itself from political dominance by the landlord class, as well as from the precapitalist legacy of usury.

This kind of classical free market viewed capitalism’s historical role as being to free the economy from the overhead of unproductive “usury” debt, along with the problem of absentee landownership and private ownership of monopolies – what Lenin called the economy’s “commanding heights” in the form of basic infrastructure. Governments would make industries competitive by providing basic needs freely or at least at much lower public prices than privatized economies could match.

This reform program of industrial capitalism was beginning to occur in Germany and the United States, but Marx recognized that such evolution would not be smooth and automatic. Managing economies in the interest of the wage earners who formed the majority of the population would require revolution where reactionary interests fought to prevent society from going beyond the “bourgeois socialism” that stopped short of nationalizing the land, monopolies and banking.

World War I untracked even this path of “bourgeois socialism.” Rentier forces fought to prevent reform, and banks focused on lending against collateral already in place, not on financing new means of production. The result of this return to pre-industrial bank credit is that some 80 percent of bank lending in the United States and Britain now takes the form of real estate mortgages. The effect is to turn the land’s rental yield into interest.

That rent-into-interest transformation gives bankers a strong motive to oppose taxing land rent, knowing that they will end up with whatever the tax collector relinquishes. Most of the remaining bank lending is concentrated in loans for corporate takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, and consumer loans. Corporate capital investment in today’s West is not financed by bank credit, but almost entirely out of retained corporate earnings, and secondarily out of stock issues.

The stock market itself has become extractive. Corporate earnings are used for stock buybacks and higher dividend payouts, not for new tangible investment. This financial strategy was made explicit by Harvard Business School Professor Michael Jensen, who advocated that salaries and bonuses for corporate managers should be based on how much they can increase the price of their companies’ stock, not on how much they increased or production and/or business size. Some 92 percent of corporate profits in recent years have been spent on stock buyback programs and dividend payouts. That leaves only about 8 percent available to be re-invested in new means of production and hiring. Corporate America’s financial managers are turning financialized companies into debt-ridden corporate shells.

A major advantage of a government as chief banker and credit creator is that when debts come to outstrip the means to pay, the government can write down the debt. That is how China’s banks have operated. It is a prerequisite for saving companies from bankruptcy and preventing their ownership from being transferred to foreigners, raiders or vultures.

Classical tax and banking policies were expected to streamline industrial economies, lowering their cost structures as governments replaced landlords as owner of the land and natural resources (as in China today) and creating their own money and credit. But despite Marx’s understanding that this would have been the most logical way for industrial capitalism to evolve, finance capitalism has failed to fund capital formation. Finance capitalism has hijacked industrial capitalism, and neoliberalism is its anti-classical ideology.

The result of today’s alliance of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector with natural resource and infrastructure monopolies has been to reverse that the 20thcentury’s reforms promoting progressive taxation of wealth and income. Industrial capitalism in the West has been detoured along the road to rent-extracting privatization, austerity and debt serfdom.

The result is a double-crisis: austerity stemming from debt deflation, while public health, communications, information technology, transportation and other basic infrastructure are privatized by corporate monopolies that raise prices charged to labor and industry. The debt crisis spans government debt (state and local as well as national), corporate debt, real estate mortgage debt and personal debt, causing austerity that shrinks the “real” economy as its assets and income are stripped away to service the exponentially growing debt overhead. The economy polarizes as income and wealth ownership are shifted to the neo-rentier alliance headed by the financial sector.

This veritable counter-revolution has inverted the classical concept of free markets. Instead of advocating a public role to lower the cost structure of business and labor, the neoliberal ideal excludes public infrastructure and government ownership of natural monopolies, not to speak of industrial production. Led by bank lobbyists, neoliberalism even opposes public regulation of finance and monopolies to keep their prices in line with socially necessary cost of production.

To defend this economic counter-revolution, the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures now used throughout the world were inspired by opposition to progressive taxation and public ownership of land and banks. These statistical measures depicting finance, insurance and real estate as the leaders of wealth creation, not the creators merely of debt and rentier overhead.

What is China’s “Real” GDP and “real wealth creation”?

Rejection of classical value theory’s focus on economic rent – the excess of market price over intrinsic labor cost – underlies the post-classical concept of GDP. Classical rent theory warned against the FIRE sector siphoning off nominal growth in wealth and income. The economics of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, J.S. Mill and Marx share in common the view that this rentier revenue should be treated as an overhead charge and, as such, subtracted from national income and product because it is not production-related. Being extraneous to the production process, this rentier overhead is responsible for today’s debt deflation and economically extractive privatization that is imposing austerity and shrinking markets from North America to Europe.

The West’s debt crisis is aggravated by privatizing monopolies (on credit) that historically have belonged to the public sector. Instead of recognizing the virtues of a mixed economy, Frederick Hayek and his followers from Ayn Rand to Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, the Chicago School and libertarian Republicans have claimed that any public ownership or regulation is, ipso facto, a step toward totalitarian politics.

Following this ideology, Alan Greenspan aborted economic regulation and decriminalized financial fraud. He believed that in principle, the massive bank fraud, junk-mortgage lending and corporate raiding that led up to the 2008 crisis was more efficient than regulating such activities or prosecuting fraudsters.

This is the neoliberal ideology taught in U.S. and European business schools. It assumes that whatever increases financial wealth most quickly is the most efficient for society as a whole. It also assumes that bankers will find honest dealing to be more in their economic self-interest than fraud, because customers would shun fraudulent bankers. But along with the mathematics of compound interest, the inherent dynamic of finance capitalism is to establish a monopoly and capture government regulatory agencies, the justice system, central bank and Treasury to prevent any alternative policy and the prosecution of fraud.

The aim is to get rich by purely financial means – by increasing stock-market prices, not by tangible capital formation. That is the opposite of the industrial logic of expanding the economy and its markets. Instead of creating a more productive economy and raising living standards, finance capitalism is imposing austerity by diverting wage income and also corporate income to pay rising debt service, health insurance and payments to privatized monopolies. Progressive income and wealth taxation has been reversed, siphoning off wages to subsidize privatization by the rentier class.

This combination of debt overgrowth and regressive fiscal policy has produced two results. First, combining debt deflation with fiscal deflation leaves only about a third of wage income available to be spent on the products of labor. Paying interest, rents and taxes – and monopoly prices – shrinks the domestic market for goods and services.

Second, adding debt service, monopoly prices and a tax shift to the cost of living and doing business renders neo-rentier economies high-cost. That is why the U.S. economy has been deindustrialized and its Midwest turned into a Rust Belt.

How Marx’s economic schema explains the West’s neo-rentier problem

In Volume I of Capital, Marx described the dynamics and “law of motion” of industrial capitalism and its periodic crises. The basic internal contradiction that capitalism has to solve is the inability of wage earners to be paid enough to buy the commodities they produce. This has been called overproduction or underconsumption, but Marx believed that the problem was in principle only temporary, not permanent.

Volumes II and III of Marx’s Capital described a pre-capitalist form of crisis, independent of the industrial economy: Debt grows exponentially, burdening the economy and finally bringing its expansion to an end with a financial crash. That descent into bankruptcy, foreclosure and the transfer of property from debtors to creditors is the dynamic of Western finance capitalism. Subjecting economies to austerity, economic shrinkage, emigration, shorter life spans and hence depopulation, is at the root of the 2008 debt legacy and the fate of the Baltic states, Ireland, Greece and the rest of southern Europe, as it was earlier the financial dynamic of Third World countries in the 1960s through 1990s under IMF austerity programs. When public policy is turned over to creditors, they use their power for asset stripping, insisting that all debts must be paid without regard for how this destroys the economy at large.

China has managed to avoid this dynamic. But to the extent that it sends its students to study in U.S. and European business schools, they are taught the tactics of asset stripping instead of capital formation – how to be extractive, not productive. They are taught that privatization is more desirable than public ownership, and that financialization creates wealth faster than it creates a debt burden. The product of such education therefore is not knowledge but ignorance and a distortion of good policy analysis. Baltic austerity is applauded as the “Baltic Miracle,” not as demographic collapse and economic shrinkage.

The experience of post-Soviet economies when neoliberals were given a free hand after 1991 provides an object lesson. Much the same fate has befallen Greece, along with the rising indebtedness of other economies to foreign bondholders and to their own rentier class operating out of capital-flight centers. Economies are obliged to suspend democratic government policy in favor of emergency creditor control.

The slow economic crash and debt deflation of these economies is depicted as a result of “market choice.” It turns out to be a “choice” for economic stagnation. All this is rationalized by the economic theory taught in Western economics departments and business schools. Such education is an indoctrination in stupidity – the kind of tunnel vision that Thorstein Veblen called the “trained incapacity” to understand how economies really work.

Most private fortunes in the West have stemmed from housing and other real estate financed by debt. Until the 2008 crisis the magnitude of this property wealth was expanded largely by asset-price inflation, aggravated by the reluctance of governments to do what Adams Smith, John Stuart Mill, Alfred Marshall and nearly all 19th-century classical economists recommended: to keep land rent out of private hands, and to make the rise in land’s rental value serve as the tax base.

Failure to tax the land leaves its rental value “free” to be pledged as interest to banks – which make larger and larger loans by lending against rising debt ratios. This “easy credit” raises the price of obtaining home ownership. Sellers celebrate the result as “wealth creation,” and the mainstream media depict the middle class as growing richer by higher prices for the homes its members have bought. But the debt-financed rise in housing prices ultimately creates wealth mainly for banks and their bondholders.

Americans now have to pay up to 43 percent of their income for mortgage debt service, federally guaranteed. This imposes such high costs for home ownership that it is pricing the products of U.S. labor out of world markets. The pretense is that using bank credit (that is, homebuyers’ mortgage debt) to inflate the price of housing makes U.S. workers and the middle class prosperous by enabling them to sell their homes to a new generation of buyers at higher and higher prices each generation. This certainly does not make the buyers more prosperous. It diverts their income away from buying the products of labor to pay interest to banks for housing prices inflated on bank credit.

Consumer spending throughout most of the world aims above all at achieving status. In the West this status rests largely on one’s home and neighborhood, its schools, transportation and other public investment. Land-price gains resulting from public investment in transportation, parks and schools, other urban amenities and infrastructure, and from re-zoning land use. In the West this rising rental value is turned into a cost, falling on homebuyers, who must borrow more from the banks. The result is that public spending ultimately enriches the banks – at the tax collector’s expense.

Debt is the great threat to modern China’s development. Burdening economies with a rentier overhead imposes the quasi-feudal charges from which classical 19thcentury economists hoped to free industrial capitalism. The best protection against this rentier burden is simple: first, tax away the land’s rising rental valuation to prevent it from being paid out for bank loans; and second, keep control of banks in public hands. Credit is necessary, but should be directed productively and debts written down when paying them threatens to create financial Armageddon.

Marx’s views on the broad dynamics of economic history

Plato and Aristotle described a grand pattern of history. In their minds, this pattern was eternally recurrent. Looking over three centuries of Greek experience, Aristotle found a perpetual triangular sequence of democracy turning into oligarchy, whose members made themselves into a hereditary aristocracy – and then some families sought to take the demos into their own camp by sponsoring democracy, which in turn led to wealthy families replacing it with an oligarchy, and so on.

The medieval Islamic philosopher Ibn Khaldun saw history as a rise and fall. Societies rose to prosperity and power when leaders mobilized the ethic of mutual aid to gain broad support as a communal spirit raised all members. But prosperity tended to breed selfishness, especially in ruling dynasties, which Ibn Khaldun thought had a life cycle of only about 120 years. By the 19thcentury, Scottish Enlightenment philosophers elaborated this rise-and-fall theory, applying it to regimes whose success bred arrogance and oligarchy.

Marx saw the long sweep of history as following a steady upward secular trend, from the ancient slavery-and-usury mode of production through feudalism to industrial capitalism. And not only Marx but nearly all 19thcentury classical economists assumed that socialism in one form or another would be the stage following industrial capitalism in this upward technological and economic trajectory.

Instead, Western industrial capitalism turned into finance capitalism. In Aristotelian terms the shift was from proto-democracy to oligarchy. Instead of freeing industrial capitalism from landlords, natural resource owners and monopolists, Western banks and bondholders joined forces with them, seeing them as major customers for as much interest-bearing credit as would absorb the economic rent that governments would refrain from taxing. Their success has enabled banks and bondholders to replace landlords as the major rentier class. Antithetical to socialism, this retrogression towards feudal rentier privilege let real estate, financial interests and monopolists exploit the economy by creating an expanding debt wedge.

Marx’s Theories of Surplus Value (German: Mehrwert), his history of classical political economy, poked fun at David Ricardo’s warning of economic Armageddon if economies let landlords siphon off of all industrial profits to pay land rent. Profits and hence capital investment would grind to a halt. But as matters have turned out, Ricardo’s rentier Armageddon is being created by his own banking class. Corporate profits are being devoured by interest payments for corporate takeover debts and related financial charges to reward bondholders and raiders, and by financial engineering using stock buybacks and higher dividend payouts to create “capital” gains at the expense of tangible capital formation. Profits also are reduced by firms having to pay higher wages to cover the cost of debt-financed housing, education and other basic expenses for workers.

This financial dynamic has hijacked industrial capitalism. It is leading economies to polarize and ultimately collapse under the weight of their debt burden. That is the inherent dynamic of finance capitalism. The debt overhead leads to a financial crisis that becomes an opportunity to impose emergency rule to replace democratic lawmaking. So, contrary to Hayek’s anti-government “free enterprise” warnings, “slippery slope” to totalitarianism is not by socialist reforms limiting the rentier class’s extraction of economic rent and interest, but just the opposite: the failure of society to check the rentier extraction of income vesting a hereditary autocracy whose financial and rent-seeking business plan impoverishes the economy at large.

Greece’s debt crisis has all but abolished its democracy as foreign creditors have taken control, superseding the authority of elected officials. From New York City’s bankruptcy to Puerto Rico’s insolvency and Third World debtors subjected to IMF “austerity programs,” national bankruptcies shift control to centralized financial planners in what Naomi Klein has called Crisis Capitalism. Planning ends up centralized not in the hands of elected government but in financial centers, which become the de facto government.

England and America set their economic path on this road under Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan by 1980. They were followed by even more pro-financial privatization leaders in Tony Blair’s New Labour Party and Bill Clinton’s New Democrats seeking to roll back a century of classical reforms and policies that gradually were moving capitalism toward socialism. Instead, these countries are suffering a rollback to neofeudalism, whose neo-rentier economic and political ideology has become mainstream throughout the West. Despite seeing that this policy has led to North America and Europe losing their former economic lead, the financial power elite is simply taking its money and running.

So we are brought back to the question of what this means for China’s educational policy and also how it depicts economic statistics to distinguish between wealth and overhead. The great advantage of such a distinction is to help steer economic growth along productive lines favoring tangible capital formation instead of policies to get rich by taking on more and more debt and by prying property away from the public domain.

If China’s main social objective is to increase real output to raise living standards for its population – while minimizing unproductive overhead and economic inequality – then it is time to consider developing its own accounting format to trace its progress (or shortcomings) along these lines. Measuring how its income and wealth are being obtained would track how the economy is moving closer toward what Marx called socialism.

Of special importance, such an accounting format would revive Marx’s classical distinction between earned and unearned income. Its statistics would show how much of the rise in wealth (and expenditure) in China – or any other nation – is a result of new tangible capital formation as compared to higher rents, lending and interest, or the stock market.

These statistics would isolate income and fortunes obtained by zero-sum transfer payments such as the rising rental value of land sites, natural resources and basic infrastructure monopolies. National accounts also would trace overhead charges for interest and related financial charges, as well as the economy’s evolving credit and debt structure. That would enable China to measure the economic effects of the banking privileges and other property rights given to some people.

That is not the aim of Western national income statistics. In fact, applying the accounting structure described above would track how Western economies are polarizing as a result of their higher economic rent and interest payments crowding out spending on actual goods and services. This kind of contrast would help explain global trends in pricing and competitiveness. Distinguishing the FIRE sector from the rest of the economy would enable China to compare its economic cost trends and overhead relative to those of other nations. I believe that these statistics would show that its progress toward socialism also will explain the remarkable economic advantage it has obtained. If China does indeed make this change, it will help people both in and out of China see even more clearly what your government is doing on behalf of the majority of its people. This may help other governments – including my own – learn from your example and praise it instead of fearing it.

About the author

Michael Hudson is the author of Killing the Host (published in e-format by CounterPunch Books and in print by Islet). His new book is J is For Junk Economics. He can be reached at

Comment: Lots of food for thought here. The left-right socialism vs capitalism debaters would do well to look up and observe the parasitic ultra-liberals devouring everything. And we’re certainly in dire need of new indices of economic health: Western leaders would have everyone believe all’s hunky-dory when in fact all’s in dire straits.

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