Russian Army Gets the Weapons of the Future Today – By Andrei AKULOV (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Russian Army Gets the Weapons of the Future Today
Andrei AKULOV | 16.06.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

The combat experience that Russia’s Terminator-2 tank support combat vehicle (BMPT-72) has gained in Syria has proven to be invaluable. It is being used to develop a new Terminator-3 version that will soon equip the tank support system to do things like attacking unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Other armored vehicles and dismounted infantry in difficult terrain remain high-priority targets.

Few details are available so far. Like its predecessors, the new vehicle’s armor protection will be equivalent to that of a main battle tank, with armaments allowing it to engage virtually any enemy weapon system or unit and to fire at multiple targets at the same time. Automation makes it possible to reduce the number of crew members from 5 to 3.

The new weapon system is likely to share its chassis, sensors, armor, and active protection system with the new Armata T-14 main battle tank. According to Russian media reports, the main armament will be a 57-mm. gun already used by the Russian Navy. Its rate of fire is 300 rounds per minute, its range — 16 km., and its altitude — over 4 km. The projectile can penetrate armor over 100 mm. thick. Because the firing range of its machine gun and automatic grenade launcher are 60-140% greater than that of the American Bradley IFVs and Stryker wheeled armored vehicles and anti-tank systems, this system can reliably protect tanks and infantry while remaining safely out of reach.

The Zvezda TV channel quoted officials from the weapons manufacturer Techmash who claimed that the Tosochka thermobaric, wheeled-chassis, heavy multiple-rocket launcher is to be delivered to the Russian Army in 2020. Using wheels instead of caterpillar tracks allows it to move faster but also increases the system’s vulnerability when operating on the front lines. One must assume that the MLRS will not be used to fire directly at targets, but will instead shoot at them from protected positions. Wheels make it more effective against terrorist units. It does not need trailers to move rapidly across great distances, which is exactly what is required to forcefully attack militants on different fronts.

Russian officials confirmed in May that the Uran-6 demining robot and the Uran-9 unmanned light battle tank have been tested in Syria. The latter is the first remote-controlled military robot in the world (a miniature tank) with a 30-mm. gun, enabling it to carry out the missions of an armored combat system supporting infantry on the ground.

The Uran-6 is a unique unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), or mine-clearing robotic system, that saves human lives by clearing routes across mine fields. Weighing six tons, it can be transported by truck. With its bulldozer blade and trawls, it can do the work of 20 sappers, neutralizing ordnance with a potential explosive energy of 59 kg. (130 lbs.) of TNT equivalent. Aided by four cameras for 360-degree view, it can be equipped with a large number of tools, such as a robotic arm, a rear forklift, a gripper with a cargo-lifting capacity of one ton, etc. The system can conduct demining operations on any terrain, while remaining at a safe distance of up to one km. away.

Made of steel plates 8 mm-10 mm thick, the vehicle is highly resistant to mine blasts and shrapnel damage. The system can defend itself using 7.62-mm small arms.

Built on the basis of a tracked chassis, the Uran-6 is powered by a 6-cylinder water-cooled, turbo-charged diesel engine, allowing it to move at a speed of up to 15 km., negotiate obstacles 0.8 m. high, cross 1.2-m wide ditches and water obstacles, and operate in swamps 0.45 m. deep. The system is able to work continuously for up to five hours. It did a great job in Palmyra, Syria, defusing bombs and bobby traps. The Russian Army plans to increasingly rely on UGVs as time goes on.

Mainly designed for reconnaissance and patrol purposes, as well as for protecting convoys and supporting infantry, Tigr-M all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles have also seen combat in Syria. With the Arbalet-DM remote module installed, the system becomes robotic. The module consists of a 12.7-mm. caliber Kord machine gun with 150 cartridges or a 7.62-mm caliber PKTM machine gun with 250 cartridges. Laser guidance is used. The Arbalet-DM can lock on and automatically track stationary and moving targets identified by a TV camera from a distance of 2.5 km. or 1.5 km. if thermal-imaging equipment is used. A laser range finder has a range of 100 m.-3,000 m. This new version of Tigr is funded by the 2018-2025 state procurement program.

The Tigr-M has outstanding off-road capabilities. With an operational range of 1.000 km, the vehicle can reach speeds of up to 155 km. per hour. It can climb 31-degree slopes and cross water obstacles that are 1.2 m wide.

The famous, combat-proven BMP-3 heavily armed infantry combat vehicles are to become unmanned too, as soon as the AU-220 combat module armed with a 57-mm. automatic cannon is installed. It will enable the system to strike aerial targets. The gun’s rate of fire is 80 rounds per minute and its range is 14.5 km. Any type of rounds can be used. An armor-piercing round can penetrate 130 mm. of steel from one km. away A coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun can hold 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The module can fully rotate 360 degrees.

The trend is clearly evident — the Russian Army is making great strides in its introduction of new, more highly automated technologies. New weapons that are unlike anything owned by any other country, such as tank support vehicles, are currently either being added to the Russian arsenal or are being developed. The army is also gradually moving away from soldier-to-soldier warfare, turning instead toward combat that is fought by remote-controlled machines driven by artificial intelligence. In March, Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said that a number of military robotic systems were nearing the completion of their trials before going into serial production this year. He was telling the truth. Many nations are working hard to put unmanned systems onto the battlefields, but Russia appears to be leading this race, fielding its military robotics more quickly than anyone else. The very pace of the updates to these armored vehicles captures the imagination.

‘Thank God for Russia!’ Remembering when London and Moscow were allies – By RT

1941 British newspaper

© Neil Clark

In the present geopolitical climate, the idea of a pact between the UK and Russia seems far-fetched to say the least. But in the summer of 1941 the two did come together against a common foe.

What lessons can be learned from the ‘Anglo-Russian agreement’ which played a key part in the defeat of Nazi Germany?

The date: Monday, July 14, 1941. The headline of the News Chronicle (price, one penny), states: ‘Britain and Soviet Sign Pact.’ Such a headline would have been unthinkable a few years previously. The British Conservative Party, the dominant member of the ‘National’ government which ruled Britain from 1931-1940, had been fiercely opposed on ideological grounds to the Bolshevik government in Moscow.

It was Tory leader and Prime Minister Winston Churchill who, 13 years earlier, had supported giving aid to the Russian armies who were fighting what he called “the foul baboonery of Bolshevism.”

When it came to expressing his views on Soviet communism, it’s fair to say that Churchill didn’t hold back. He compared Lenin, the father of the Russian revolution, to “a culture of typhoid or of cholera.” Yet here, in 1941, the British – led by Churchill, and the Soviets, were sinking their ideological differences and agreeing to support each other in every possible way against ‘Hitlerite Germany’ – and undertaking that neither would negotiate nor conclude an armistice or peace treaty except by mutual agreement.

Churchill had shown commendable pragmatism, something which too many of today’s leaders seem to lack. “No one has been a more consistent opponent of communism for the last 25 years,” he declared in a broadcast on June 22, the date on which the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. “But all this fades away before the spectacle which is now unfolding…The Russian danger is therefore our danger, and the danger of the United States, just as the cause of any Russian fighting for hearth and house is the cause of free men and free peoples in every quarter of the globe.”

Could you imagine a neocon politician uttering words such as these today?

The historic agreement of July 12 was signed in Moscow by the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the UK Ambassador to the USSR, the Old Wykehamist Sir Stafford Cripps. One Joseph Stalin, and leading representatives of the British armed forces, were also present at the ceremony.

The agreement came at a time when the Soviets were in desperate need for assistance, as German forces continued to advance rapidly towards Moscow. Cripps urged Churchill to send supplies as soon as possible. Friction soon developed between Sir Stafford, who wanted more done to help the Soviet Union, and Churchill, who believed in prioritizing the Middle Eastern front.

The calls for a ‘second front’ in Europe to be opened up to take the pressure off the Soviets, and which Stalin himself had demanded, steadily grew.

The Soviet Union became very popular in Britain, and indeed in the neutral US – where the News Chronicle reported that 72 percent hoped that the Russians would win.

In his book, The Road to 1945, Paul Addison notes how the German invasion of the Soviet Union came at a time when it was difficult for the British, who had stood alone against the Nazis during the Blitz of 1940/1, to see how victory could be achieved. But that all changed when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa. Addison records how ‘Home Intelligence’ captured the national mood on February 3, 1942: “Thank God for Russia’ is a frequent expression of the very deep and fervent feeling for that country which permeates wide sections of the public.”

Churchill, while welcoming the fact that Britain had a ‘co-belligerent,’ was, however, worried that the people’s admiration for the gallant Soviet war effort would go too far and lead to increased support for communist ideas at home.

He instructed the Ministry of Information “to consider what action was required to counter the present tendency of the British public to forget the dangers of Communism in their enthusiasm over the resistance of Russia.”

“The official authorities would have liked to depoliticise enthusiasm for Russia by concentrating on the military, patriotic and anodyne aspects of Russian life, but in practice this was very difficult,” says Addison. “The two politicians who presented themselves to the public in 1942 as champions of Russia, Cripps and (Lord) Beaverbrook, were both convinced anti-communists. But both found themselves singing the praises of the Soviet system.”

As I noted in an earlier OpEd, Lord Beaverbrook, a right-wing newspaper magnate, could not have been more effusive in his praise for the Soviet Union and its leader.

“Communism under Stalin has produced the most valiant fighting army in Europe. Communism under Stalin has provided us with examples of patriotism equal to the finest annals of history. Communism under Stalin has won the applause and admiration of all the Western nations. Communism under Stalin has produced the best generals in this war,” Beaverbook wrote.

Can you imagine Rupert Murdoch or Lord Rothermere saying the same things about Putin and Russia, today?

It’s worth noting too that the US, when it was still neutral, was urging Britain to improve supplies to Russia. Was anyone claiming then that FDR was a secret Kremlin agent, as they say about Trump in 2018?

In the end, British supplies to the Soviet Union in the second half of 1941 and 1942, transported via the dangerous Arctic shipping routes, did play an important part in checking the seemingly unstoppable Nazi advance. Britain supplied urgently needed tanks, aircraft and machine tools. Overall between 3.5 and 4 million tons of cargo were delivered, greatly boosting the Soviet war effort. In May 1942, the Anglo-Soviet agreement was strengthened still further with the signing of an Anglo-Soviet Treaty, which established a formal military and political alliance.

Those who served on the ‘front line’ of this alliance have not been forgotten. In May 2015, Russian medals were presented to the Scottish veterans of the Arctic convoys on Victory Day. “The Russians have always been so kind to us. I spent two months in Russia, and your people shared everything they had with me, although they didn’t have much for themselves. I would be ready to do something for you again, whatever you ask,”said veteran James Osler.

In August 2016, five more British Arctic convoy veterans were honored by Russia.

While in October that year, the 75th anniversary of the Arctic convoys was marked at a special event in Liverpool.

Looking back at the World War II co-operation between Britain and the Soviet Union, and the positive difference it made to the course of world history, should make us ask the question: If then, why not now?

Why can’t British politicians chart a new course in relations with Russia and seek to work together with Moscow on areas which should be of common concern, such as countering terrorism, dealing with climate change and bringing a lasting peace to the Middle East? Do we really need a Nazi threat to make our leaders come to their senses and drop their old hostilities?

Let’s leave the last word to the News Chronicle, a newspaper whose humane and common sense approach to world affairs, is greatly missed today. In its editorial of July 14, 1941, entitled ‘Pray Silence,’ it declared: “So, by the devious and paradoxical routes which current history has adopted, what many of us hoped two years ago would happen and some hoped, successfully, might be avoided, has now come to pass. It is a miraculous gift. The unexpected has happened…No question of ideologies is relevant. Two great peoples find themselves fighting for their lives against the same ruthless enemy. That is the only thing that matters and it is tremendous.”

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

Strategic partnership between Russia and Indonesia in the Asia Pacific – Dmitry Bokarev Oriental Review (SOTT)

Russian jets

For some time now, Russia has been strengthening its position in Southeast Asia by developing partnerships with the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states, including Indonesia.

The Republic of Indonesia is a country with a number of unique characteristics. It is the largest island nation surrounded by both the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. Indonesia is located on a strategically important part of the shipping route between Europe and Asia: between the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula lies the Strait of Malacca, used to transport up to a quarter of all the goods shipped by sea in the world. Besides, Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, which facilitates ties in the Islamic world. Hence, Russia benefits from a partnership with Indonesia in a number of ways, even outside the scope of its cooperation with ASEAN as a whole.

Russia and Indonesia have had friendly relations since the times of the USSR. Soviet – Indonesian diplomatic relations were established in 1950 when the Soviet Union provided development aid to the newly established Republic of Indonesia. In the 1950s and 1960s, the USSR supplied the Indonesian army with weapons and military equipment, including dozens of war ships, submarines, airplanes, helicopters, tanks, missiles and ammunition exceeding $1 billion in value. Aside from this, at the end of the 1950s, thousands of Soviet military servicemen visited Indonesia with the aim of training their Indonesian counterparts on the use of the delivered military supplies. In the 1960s, the USSR helped Indonesia win its territorial dispute with its former colonial power, Holland. Despite help from other Western nations, the Netherlands had to cede part of the New Guinea island to Indonesia.

map of Indonesia

© Google Maps

After a military coup and a subsequent change of leadership in Indonesia in 1965, the relationship between the Republic of Indonesia and the USSR took a long-term turn for the worse. At the end of the 1980s, the relations improved once again, but the collapse of the USSR that followed decreased the levels of cooperation. Russia and Indonesia started to restore their ties in full in the nineties.

In 2003, Indonesia and Russia signed the Joint Declaration of Friendship and Partnership in the 21st century. After this, frequency in the high-level exchanges between them increased, and the two sides have continued to strengthen their cooperation in various spheres, such as agriculture, tourism, education, science, technology, construction, space exploration, resource extraction, energy production and security. Bilateral trade is also growing in volume. In 2017, it reached more than $3.2 billion, which is 25% higher than that in 2016. Negotiations are ongoing on establishing a free trade zone between Indonesia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU or EAEU), whose key member is the Russian Federation.

The level of cooperation between the two nations is especially noteworthy in the sphere of military technology and security. Russia and Indonesia are actively engaged in a dialogue on terrorism and piracy in the region. They have conducted joint military exercises on several occasions aimed at refining the necessary skills for resolving these issues. Large stable shipments of Russian weapons and military hardware to Indonesia resumed in 1997. In 2007, Russia and the Republic of Indonesia signed a long-term agreement on supplying Russian weaponry to the Indonesian military. Soon after, in 2008, the Russian Federation provided a credit line to Indonesia for the purchase of weaponry exceeding $1 billion in value. Currently Russia, as in the Soviet times, is Indonesia’s main military equipment supplier.

In August 2017, the Russian Federation and Indonesia signed an agreement laying out the terms for the future contract on the purchase of a batch of Russian Su-35 fighter jets by Indonesia. According to the agreement, Russia is prepared to supply Indonesia with 11 air planes exceeding $1 billion in value. Indonesia will pay for part of the purchase in cash and the remainder in raw materials, such as tea, coffee and palm oil. Both sides are satisfied with the terms of the deal and are ready to sign the final contract.

During the same month, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, and Retno Marsudi, Head of Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took part in a meeting resulting in the decision to increase collaboration between the Russian and Indonesian security forces to combat the threat from the Islamic terrorist organization Daesh (banned in the RF).

A collaboration on issues of security and military hardware is a clear sign of a high degree of trust between the two nations. If this is indeed true, the length and scope of the Russia – Indonesia cooperation in these spheres points to an enormous level of mutual understanding and trust between these two nations.

In December 2017, two strategic Russian bombers TU-95MS landed at the Indonesian airport in Biak on completion of their patrol of the neutral waters of the Pacific ocean. Many experts viewed this event as a signal, sent by the two nations to the rest of the world, that cooperation between Russia and Indonesia reached new heights. Aside from this, it is a sign of Russia’s increasing presence in Southeast Asia.

A new meeting between Lavrov and his Indonesian counterpart Marsudi took place on 13 March in 2018. The Russian minister said that the talks were constructive and covered a range of bilateral issues including topics that are global and regional in nature. He also stated that the meeting included a discussion about Russia’s and Indonesia’s willingness to transform their cooperation into a strategic partnership and that the countries are in the process of working on the declaration to that effect.

Unquestionably, the issues of Russia – Indonesia cooperation is crucial for the whole Asia Pacific. Malacca Strait’s western coastline belongs to Indonesia, a large powerful nation, which receives significant financial benefits from regional shipping traffic. In turn, the Republic of Indonesia (along with both Malaysia and Singapore, also located on the strait’s coastline) is responsible for maintaining security along this sea route, which is a key maritime passage on our planet.

One of the main problems this region has faced for the longest time is piracy. Recently, some experts have also started talking about the increasing terrorist threat around the Strait of Malacca. The USA hopes to control the Malacca Strait under the pretext of ensuring security along its shipping routes. As far back as 2004, the US received a brusque rejection from Malaysia and Indonesia in response to its offer to station US military personnel in the strait. Currently, at a time of substantial escalation in the confrontation between the US and China over control of the Asia Pacific region, the role of the Malacca Strait has increased in importance. Just as the US, PRC wishes to see its naval forces there. In the meantime, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are determined to defend their territorial waters. Fortunately, an armed confrontation is out of the question; however, supplying Indonesia with modern Russian equipment and training its military by RF personnel make a substantial contribution to Indonesia’s as well as the rest of the region’s peace of mind. Russia, thanks to its cooperation with countries such as Indonesia, India, Laos and Vietnam, is in turn becoming a powerful player in the Asia Pacific region and holds a beneficial position in strategically important regions for global trade and transport.

Dmitry Bokarev, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

Comment: New power structures rising to challenge Western dominance: How Singapore, Astana and St. Petersburg view a new world order

The Elite: Not on your side now and never will be – By Kurt Schlichter -Townhall (SOTT)

trump group of 7 summit G7

I guess I should just be quiet and let the liberal establishment continue to attack President Trump for refusing to submit to the demands of a bunch of foreigners. As Napoleon warned, perhaps apocryphally but accurately, never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. And it is crazy to think that the American people are going to punish a president who sides with them over that schnitzel-snarfing frau, Monsieur les Eyebrows, and the rest of the globalist twits.

Oh, and let’s not even get started on how they can’t help but manufacture reasons why Trump shouldn’t take a chance on avoiding a war that would lead to thousands of Normal American families burying sons and daughters. Yeah, shaking Rocket Man’s hand is pretty much Munich 2: The EnNorkening.

But I shouldn’t complain. It’s getting so the elite needs to register their activities as in-kind contributions to the Trump 2020 campaign.

Who thinks Normal Americans will be mad about Trump fulminating over how we are putting our cash and our blood on the line against Putin for the Europeans and they won’t even meet the piddly 2% defense spending level they promised? One of the elite’s favorite fallbacks is that demanding our allies carry their own rucksacks for once is totally playing into Vlad’s hands. How? Reasons. And because.

Putin is the all-purpose boogie man now, though the transnational liberal elite was perfectly happy to suck up to him until he became more useful as a pumped-up threat than as a cash cow. A half mil for a speech? Seems legit. Uranium One, anybody? Cool. Weird how the fussbudgets who were AWOL during the real Cold War don’t seem upset about that stuff, only about stuff that involves taking America’s side.

Who does the elite side with?

Not America.

Never America.

I say we should side with ourselves. So does the president.

I keep asking the establishment shills why America has some moral obligation to tolerate foreign countries imposing higher tariffs upon us than we impose upon them. Seems facially unfair, right? So, there’s got to be a really good reason because how can you support our working people facing a higher obstacle to trade than the foreigners do? I’m just wondering what’s wrong with a level playing field. Fair is fair, right? But I never get a good answer.

Oh, I do get responses. Most of them are weakly snarky tweets informing me that I don’t know anything about economics. The rest are a smorgasbord of puny personal attacks. But no one can seem to tell me why we have some sort of moral duty to engage in trade relationships with other countries that are not precisely equal. Maybe I am an idiot like they say, but calling me one doesn’t answer the question.

I don’t like tariffs. I like free trade. But in what world is free trade free when we are only free to face higher tariffs than our competitor countries? Apparently, in the world of the liberal transnational globalist elite. They are citizens of the world, you know.

I’m a citizen of the United States. How about you?

And I thought collusion with foreign leaders to influence American policy was wrong. Yet all I see are liberals, their Fredocon travelers, and their media minions commiserating with outsiders, with foreigners, against the guy who Normal Americans elected as the president. Collusion, if you will, to change American policy to what foreigners want. Gosh, it’s almost as if all this talk about collusion was a bunch of baloney from the word go.

No wonder the Normals are getting militant.

Actually, the elite doesn’t think they are really colluding with outsiders. They are colluding with insiders, their real constituency, the like-minded elites across the globe. They don’t represent the United States. They don’t care about the United States. And they don’t care about the people of the United States. That is not whose interests they are seeking to protect.

When your job gets shipped to Oaxaca so somebody who looks like Mitt Romney can import the products you used to make back into the USA, don’t look to the elite to care. Care? They’ll applaud.

They are seeking to ensure their own gravy train doesn’t get derailed. This is why they tell you, in between informing you how stupid you are, that there are only a few tariffs out there and they don’t matter. Well, they sure as heck don’t matter to these think tank jockeys and media scribblers. They are not the guys getting up at 4 a.m. to milk the cows or to harvest the soybeans the tariffs target. They’ve never worked on a vehicle assembly line in their lives, so what’s it matter to them if Germany’s tariff on US cars is four times ours to theirs? Of course, the tariffs on US products don’t matter to the elite. They aren’t the guys who lose their jobs when their company picks up and moves to Vietnam.

I don’t like tariffs. I’d tear them all down, everywhere, just like Trump proposed. But the elite isn’t for that. It’s only against tariffs we impose to retaliate for the tariffs the foreigners impose.

And the elite are now apparently against peace talks, but they aren’t the ones who would fight the war Donald Trump is trying to prevent in North Korea. Turns out peace talks have been terrible since January 2017. Who knew?

Donald Trump is a disruptor. He is disrupting the fat, arrogant, and corrupt elite and the web of self-dealing it has spun over the last seven decades. Is Trump putting at risk everything that’s been built in the last 70 years? I sure hope so. Because the system that was built over the last 70 years is no longer working for all of us. It’s working really well for a few of us, but that’s just not enough anymore.

We’re woke. We’re militant. And the tan, tweeting reckoning that is Donald Trump is at hand.

Kurt Schlichter (Twitter: @KurtSchlichter) was personally recruited to write conservative commentary by Andrew Breitbart. He is a successful Los Angeles trial lawyer, a veteran with a masters in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College, and a former stand-up comic.

Pro-War Liberals Resist Trump’s Modest Accomplishments at North Korea Summit – by Elliott Gabriel (MINT PRESS)

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, reaches to shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. Evan Vucci | AP

Trump is proving yet again to be an unpredictable figure with eclectic policies that rely as much on sizzle as they do on well-done steak. Yet he can hardly be faulted for promising to draw down the U.S. troop presence and accept the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

SENTOSA ISLAND, SINGAPORE – The summit between the leaders of the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at Singapore’s Sentosa Island has come and gone. While it may not have been the comprehensive solution to all outstanding issues between the two countries, it surely has lived up to the hype befitting a historic occasion.

From the firm handshakes between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un to Dennis Rodman in a red #MAGA cap weeping on CNN, the event was filled with the sorts of reality-television antics we’ve come to expect from the U.S. leader.

Yet despite the trivia surrounding the event – the tense body language mixed with verbal flattery; the fake movie trailer from “Destiny Productions;” the promises of “very, very” rapid denuclearization; and the rest of Trump’s verbal potpourri  – the event was momentous insofar as it seems, for now, to have signaled an easing of U.S. aggression toward the DPRK and a potential fresh start in Korean-U.S. relations.

Signaling Pyongyang’s enthusiasm over the coming possibilities, Kim said:

The old fetters and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward, but we’ve overcome all of them and come here today.”

War games will be a thing of the past; sanctions appear to potentially be on-track toward a phase-out, as Trump hinted with a post-summit joke about sanctions-busting activities by China; and the two sides appear committed to reaching amity to the point where the former real-estate mogul himself is already thinking of beach resorts and ski lodge hotels in the North.

Yet Trump’s detractors refused to give the president any benefit of the doubt, given their raw fury over his chaotic performance at the G-7 in Quebec, a wild affair that showcased not only Trump’s erratic and high-strung temperament but also that of his underlings, whose quivering rage (followed by a heart attack, no less) reached nearly cartoonish degrees after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mildly rebuked the U.S. for launching a trade war on its traditional allies.


Read more from Elliott Gabriel


The “resistance” attitude in the U.S. toward the breakthrough summit with Kim can best be summed up by a Bernie Sanders tweet, where the independent social-Democrat noted:

I find it very strange that President Trump has such a hard time getting along with the leaders of the world’s major democracies but feels very comfortable with despots and authoritarian leaders like Putin, Xi Jinping, Duterte and Mohammad Bin Salman.”

 

The strongmen versus the civilized

While the initial summit with Kim was a tad short on concrete outcomes, Democrats aligned with the Obama and Clinton camps struggled hard to express principled disagreements with the White House over a rapprochement with Pyongyang – instead opting to fall back on a laundry-list cliché of complaints about Trump’s disdain for the “rules-based world order,” the lack of presidential decorum, and the commander-in-chief’s dubious mental-health state.

In one particularly bizarre and petty exchange hosted by Don Lemon, CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd tore into the White House’s release of details regarding the sumptuous luncheon meal in Singapore because it would somehow dignify Kim as a leader. Vinograd complained:

I want to bring it back to the menu for a second, not just because I’m hungry, but because typically the White House releases these kinds of details after, for example, the French president comes to the White House, or another head of state comes for a state visit. So by releasing the details of the menu this is again legitimizing Kim Jong-un and putting him on equal footing with other world leaders, which is what he wants.”

The comment was affirmed by talking-head pundit Jonathan Wachtel, who noted that the menu is “particularly interesting” because “the poor North Korean people” are starving and “can’t even imagine the types of foods” the heads of state enjoyed. Presumably, in Wachtel’s world, most Americans – like the swelling ranks of California’s homeless population – are well-accustomed to dining on beef short rib confit, Korean stuffed cucumber, and Tarte Tropézienne, real staples of a civilized Western diet.

The Hill columnist Brent Budowsky, a Democrat career pundit, heaped on hyperbole and hypocrisy in equal measure when tearing into the summit:

Kim Jong Un, one of the worst human rights abusers in modern world history, won a tremendous domestic and international public relations victory that North Korean dictators have long hungered for, appearing as a charming world leader and statesman equal to the president of the United States on the world stage.”

Beltway pundits such as Budowsky have studiously abstained, however, from criticizing human-rights violations by U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Israel, Colombia, Honduras, or any number of junior partners who have never so much as lifted a finger to assert their independence from U.S. imperialism and hegemonic control — all the while firmly clutching their billy-clubs and the triggers of their rifles as they commit human-rights abuses with impunity and scarcely any criticism from the media.

 

Regional observers note modest progress, hazy details

Russia’s Foreign Ministry warmly greeted the meeting and promised to make “political, intellectual, practical and creative contributions to the settlement of problems” in Korea, according to TASS New Agency.

Likewise, South Korean President Moon Jae-In effusively greeted the joint declaration signed at the meeting as the potential beginning to a comprehensive end of hostilities dating back to the Korean War – a sentiment repeated in Chinese state newspaper Global Times, which noted that such an outcome could mean the “[Korean] peninsula will completely walk out of the shadow of the Cold War.”

Ominously, Global Times added:

After dealing with North Korea for a few rounds, Trump’s team has developed a more realistic mindset on the issue. But his domestic foes probably would rather mess everything up, prioritizing embarrassing Trump above protecting the long-term interests of the U.S.”

Trump is proving yet again to be an unpredictable figure with eclectic policies that rely as much on sizzle as they do on well-done steak. Yet he can hardly be faulted for promising to draw down the U.S. troop presence and accept the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula – not only the North, but foreign troops allies like the nuclear-equipped U.S. force.

For liberal TV anchors and columnists, Trump is apparently incapable of doing any good unless he’s applying a language of pressure, sanctions and veiled threats using acceptable language.

Yet one thing is certain: Pyongyang’s leadership enjoyed the warm embrace of the White House in a scene that recently seemed like it could have come from a “fantasy” or “science fiction film,” as Kim put it.

Top Photo | U.S. President Donald Trump, right, reaches to shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. Evan Vucci | AP

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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How Singapore, Astana and St Petersburg preview a new world order – by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author) (THE SAKER)

How Singapore, Astana and St Petersburg preview a new world order

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

Key economic forums in cities across Eurasia point the way to new power structures rising to challenge Western dominance

Ahead of the crucial Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao this coming weekend, three other recent events have offered clues on how the new world order is coming about.

The Astana Economic Forum in Kazakhstan centered on how mega-partnerships are changing world trade. Participants included the president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Jin Liqun; Andrew Belyaninov from the Eurasian Development Bank; former Italian Prime Minister and president of the EU Commission Romano Prodi; deputy director-general of the WTO Alan Wolff; and Glenn Diesen from the University of Western Sydney.

Diesen, a Norwegian who studied in Holland and teaches in Australia, is the author of a must-read book, Russia’s Geoeconomic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia, in which he analyzes in excruciating detail how Moscow is planning “to manage the continent from the heartland by enhancing collective autonomy and influence, and thus evict US hegemony directed from the periphery.”

In parallel, as Diesen argues, Moscow aims “to ensure the sustainability of an integrated Eurasia by establishing a balance of power or ‘balance of dependence’ to prevent the continent from being dominated by one power, with China being the most plausible candidate.”

In a nutshell; this New Great Game installment revolves around “Russia’s strategy to enhance its bargaining power with the West by pivoting to the East.”

Concerning Astana, Diesen told me that the AIIB’s Liqun “took the hardest stance in defense of diversifying financial instruments, while Belyaninov was very critical of anti-Russian sanctions.”

Diesen argues that: “The emergence of economic mega-blocks actually improves economic relations by creating more symmetry. For example, China’s CIPS (Cross-Border Interbank Payment System) undermined the ability of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) to be used for economic coercion, while CIPS and SWIFT still cooperate. Similarly, the EAEU [Eurasia Economic Union] gets its strength from the ability to integrate with other regions as opposed to isolating itself.”

And here’s the clincher: “China’s cooperation with the EAEU mitigates Russian concerns about asymmetries, and enables greater EAEU-BRI [Belt and Road Initiative] integration under the stewardship of the SCO. Also, unlike the EU, the EAEU provides great benefit to non-members (non-zero sum) by creating an effective transportation corridor with harmonized tariffs, standards, etc.”

Diesen remarked how Liqun, a key character in the whole game, “is very positive about the Eurasian Economic Union and insistent on the positive-sum game of integration of regions.” Liqun is “direct, honest and forceful” and does not refrain from criticizing the Trump administration, arguing “there is not a trade war between the US and China, it is a US trade war against the world.”

Add to the debate the crucial Astana headline, ignored by Western corporate media: Iran signed a provisional free-trade-zone agreement with the EAEU, lowering or abolishing customs duties, and opening the way for a final deal in 2021. For Iran, that will be a golden ticket to do business way beyond Southwest Asia, integrating it further with Russia and also Kazakhstan, which happens to be a key member of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

All about Eurasian integration

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is the annual Russian equivalent of Davos. Predictably, coverage on Western media was appalling – at best rehashing bits and pieces of the joint press conference held by presidents Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron.

There was no mention, as Asia Times previously reported, of how Moscow was instrumental in ironing out differences between North and South Korea at the Far East summit in Vladivostok last September, impressing the need for a win-win regional business plan; the integration of the Trans-Siberian with a future Trans-Korean railway, a key plank of Eurasia integration.

When it comes to tracking Eurasia integration, SPIEF is invaluable. The St Petersburg get-together has also been a traditional forum for key SCO discussions. One panel illustrated how the Shanghai forum is fast advancing on the trade and economic front; new members India and Pakistan are now very much active in the SCO Business Council. The discussion of the business, industrial and technological agenda for observer states was also important; that’s where Iran, a future full SCO member, fits in.

Eurasia integration also featured on another panel about new logistical routes opened by international transport corridors – very much the stuff BRI and the EAEU are made of.

And the BRICS revival was also part of the picture, as attested by this panel on the BRICS in Africa “leveraging the Fourth Industrial Revolution” for economic development, featuring the president of the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB), Kundapur Kamath, and Jiakang Sun, the executive vice-president of Chinese giant COSCO Shipping Corp.

Yet the clincher in terms of possible game-changing relations between Russia and Europe came from Finance Minister and first deputy Prime Minister Anton Siluanov: “As we see, restrictions imposed by the American partners are of an extraterritorial nature. The possibility of switching from the US dollar to the euro in settlements depends on Europe’s stance toward Washington’s position.”

So once again the EU was on the spot – on both crucial fronts, Iran and Russia. Siluanov left the door wide open: “If our European partners declare their position unequivocally, we could definitely see a way to use the European common currency for financial settlements, such as payments for goods and services, which today are often subject to restrictions.”

Siluanov did not fail to mention that Russia, as much as China and Iran, is already bypassing the US dollar. That accounts for three crucial nodes of Eurasian integration, and that’s the way to go for BRI, EAEU, SCO and BRICS.

The Indo-Pacific enigma

Meanwhile, the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore has been the top venue for defense diplomacy debate in the Asia-Pacific since 2001.

With the “Indo-Pacific” concept is hyped to the extreme, it was up to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the keynote speaker, to strike a deft balancing act.

Even as Modi said the Indo-Pacific should not develop as an exclusive club, he took pains to stress that “Asia and the world will have a better future when India and China work together in trust and confidence. No other relationship of India has as many layers as our relationship with China.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed the “Indo-Pacific” push as an “attention-grabbing idea” that will “dissipate like ocean foam,” as he hopes that the Quad – US, India, Japan, Australia – does not focus on targeting China, like the previous Obama administration “pivot to Asia.”

The problem is the Indo-Pacific focus, in practice, amounts to a military counterpunch to BRI, with no wide-ranging economic cooperation dimension apart from sketchy plans for a “new global infrastructure.” Compare it, for instance, with China financing over 130 projects within the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation framework, integrating Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam into the Chinese economy.

BRI is a multi-trillion-dollar, multinational, decades-long, inclusive project. As Wang Yiwei, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of the Renmin University of China, said “All SCO members are participating in BRI, and this organization [SCO] is the initiative’s security guarantee.”

Yet when it comes to the Indo-Pacific sphere, the US, Japan and Australia are not SCO members. And India still refuses to acknowledge the SCO is interlinked with BRI.

Moreover, everything about BRI cannot but clash front-on with the depth and reach of the US across Asia. So the security stress is inevitable. The 10-nation ASEAN, caught in the middle, is adopting at best a “wait and see” strategy. Indonesia at least is venturing a step ahead, promoting a non-confrontational “Indo-Pacific cooperation concept.”

The bottom line is that China’s relentless drive to multiply Chinese-organized solutions in international relations is unstoppable. As in Wang Yi’s discreet but forceful diplomacy leading to Kim Jong-un’s first visit to China; President Xi solidifying his role as the go-to leader of globalization 2.0; and the Chinese leadership as a whole arguing that the future of Asia-Pacific security cannot be hostage to a Cold War 2.0 mentality.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ warning to China in Singapore of “much larger consequences” if its sovereignty expansion across virtually the whole South China Sea is not contained may be an idle threat. Beijing has no intention to restrict freedom of navigation in the South China Sea; for a mercantile giant, that would be counter-productive. The whole game is about high-stakes geopolitical control. Even the new head of the renamed US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson, had to admit to the US Senate that short of war between China and the US, Beijing will prevail in the South China Sea.

Welcome to the post-Westphalian world

In his latest, avowedly “provocative” slim volume, Has the West Lost It? former Singaporean ambassador to the UN and current Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the National University, Kishore Mahbubani frames the key question: “Viewed against the backdrop of the past 1,800 years, the recent period of Western relative over-performance against other civilizations is a major historical aberration. All such aberrations come to a natural end, and that is happening now.”

It is enlightening to remember that at the Shangri-la Dialogue two years ago, Professor Xiang Lanxin, director of the Centre of One Belt and One Road Studies at the China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, described BRI as an avenue to a ‘post-Westphalian world.’

That’s where we are now. Western elites cannot but worry when central banks in China, Russia, India and Turkey actively increase their physical gold stash; when Moscow and Beijing discuss launching a gold-backed currency system to replace the US dollar; when the IMF warns that the debt burden of the global economy has reached $237 trillion; when the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warns that, on top of that there is also an ungraspable $750 trillion in additional debt outstanding in derivatives.

Mahbubani states the obvious: “The era of Western domination is coming to an end.” Western elites, he adds, “should lift their sights from their domestic civil wars and focus on the larger global challenges. Instead, they are, in various ways, accelerating their irrelevance and disintegration.”

Meanwhile, Eurasian integration, as depicted in Diesen’s book, is slowly but surely redefining the future.

Pompeo: US Will ‘Not Allow Iran to Develop a Nuclear Weapon’ – By SPUTNIK

A Ghadr-H missile, center, a solid-fuel surface-to-surface Sejjil missile and a portrait of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are displayed at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran

© AP Photo / Vahid Salemi

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States is monitoring media reports about Iran’s plans to build up its nuclear capacity, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“We’re watching reports that Iran plans to increase its enrichment capacity,” Pompeo wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “We won’t allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran is aware of our resolve.”

Iranian state media reported earlier in the day that the government has ordered to start operations to boost uranium enrichment in light of the recent US decision to re-impose sanctions on Tehran.

Pompeo called Iran’s actions another representation of Tehran’s “foolishly squandering its resources.” Therefore, protests in the country come as no surprise, the US secretary of state concluded.US President Donald Trump announced in May that the United States would pull out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump also decided to restore wide-ranging sanctions on Iran, including secondary sanctions against financial institutions of third countries doing business with Tehran.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group of countries — China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.The deal stipulated the gradual lifting of the anti-Iranian sanctions in exchange for Tehran maintaining the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

‘Either Russia is a sovereign country, or there is no Russia’ – Putin on relations with the West – By RT

‘Either Russia is a sovereign country, or there is no Russia’ – Putin on relations with the West
Sanctions, however harsh they may be, will not force Russia to abandon its independent stance in the world, President Vladimir Putin said, adding that Russians will never accept trade-offs at the expense of sovereignty.

Speaking to Chinese TV, Putin said that he believes the rounds of sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, its allies and the EU have only one goal – to hamper its economic development. He went on to stress that no amount of sanctions and punitive measures will ever be enough to make Russia cave in and change its policy.

“I believe that either Russia will be sovereign, or there will be no Russia at all. And, of course, the Russian people will always opt for the first. I think the Chinese people will too. We have no other option,” Putin said.

The Russian president argued that all attempts by the West to wreck the Russian economy will eventually backfire on those who followed the US’ lead in ‘punishing’ Russia.

“Those who followed the US lead, they themselves are beginning to suffer from what the United States is implementing with regards to these countries,” Putin said.

While Putin does not refer to anything in particular, it has been reported that the US government is mulling sanctioning European corporations that are engaged in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is expected to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to European consumers per year. 

Germany is one of the key beneficiaries of the project.

Ukraine-linked sanctions, introduced after Russia’s reunification with Crimea and an outbreak of civil conflict in eastern Ukraine, are taking their toll on European economies. Calls to lift the sanctions have been coming from several European capitals, including Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and the new Italian government. 

READ MORE: ‘We must respond to US tariffs, end sanctions on Russia’ – Austrian vice chancellor

Apart from Russia-related sanctions, the EU has been forced to deal with a steep increase in import tariffs on steel and aluminum, which were introduced by US President Donald Trump and took effect last week.

Noting that the countries that sided with Washington on Russia are now themselves starting to feel the burn, Putin said that he points it out not because he likes to rejoice at others’ misfortunes, but because it proves that sanctions are detrimental to all the parties, “including those who initiated them.”

Speaking on the chances that relations between the West and Russia, which are now hitting rock bottom, will improve, Putin said he hopes for “positive,” mutually beneficial ties.

“Eventually, I believe that we will manage to improve the relations one way or another.”

US Challenges Russia to Nuclear War – By Eric ZUESSE (Strategic Cultural Foundation)

US Challenges Russia to Nuclear War

Now that the United States (with the cooperation of its NATO partners) has turned the former Soviet Union’s states other than Russia into NATO allies, and has likewise turned the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact allies into America’s own military allies in NATO, the United States is finally turning the screws directly against Russia itself, by, in effect, challenging Russia to defend its ally Syria. The US is warning Syria’s Government that Syrian land, which is occupied by the US and by the anti-Government forces that the US protects in Syria, is no longer really Syria’s land. The US is saying that there will be direct war between Syria’s armed forces and America’s armed forces if Syria tries to restore its control over that land. Tacitly, America’s message in this to Moscow is: now is the time for you to quit defending Syria’s Government, because, if you don’t — if you come to Syria’s defense as Syria tries to kill those occupying forces (including the US troops and advisors who are occupying Syria) — then you (Russia) will be at war against the United States, even though the US is clearly the invader, and Russia (as Syria’s ally) is clearly the defender.

Peter Korzun, my colleague at the Strategic Culture Foundation, headlined on May 29th“US State Department Tells Syria What It Can and Can’t Do on Its Own Soil” and he opened:

“The US State Department has warned Syria against launching an offensive against terrorist positions in southern Syria. The statement claims that the American military will respond if Syrian forces launch an operation aimed at restoring the legitimate government’s control over the rebel-held areas, including the territory in southwestern Syria between Daraa and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Washington is issuing orders to a nation whose leadership never invited America in the first place! The very idea that another country would tell the internationally recognized Syrian government that it cannot take steps to establish control over parts of its own national territory is odd and preposterous by any measure.”

The pro-Government side calls those “terrorist positions,” but the US-and-allied side, the invaders, call them “freedom fighters” (even though the US side has long been led by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and has increasingly been relying upon anti-Arabic Kurds). But whatever they are, the United States has no legal authority to tell Syria’s Government what to do or not do on Syrian land.

Russia’s basic position, at least ever since Vladimir Putin came into power in 2000, is that every nation’s sovereignty over its own land is the essential foundation-stone upon which democracy has even a possibility to exist — without that, a land cannot even possibly be a democracy. The US Government is now directly challenging that basic principle, and moreover is doing so over parts of the sovereign territory of Syria, an ally of Russia, which largely depends upon Russia to help it defeat the tens of thousands of invading and occupying forces.

If Russia allows the US to take over — either directly or via the US Government’s Al Qaeda-linked or its anti-Arab Kurdish proxy forces — portions of Syrian territory, then Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, will be seen as being today’s version of Britain’s leader Neville Chamberlain, famous, as Wikipedia puts it, for “his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany.”

So: Putin will now be faced with either knuckling under now, or else standing on basic international democratic principles, especially the principle that each nation’s sovereignty is sacrosanct and is the sole foundation upon which democracy is even possible to exist or to evolve into being.

However, this matter is far from being the only way in which the US Government now is challenging Russia to World War III. On May 30th, the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak bannered “US trains armed groups at Tanf base for new terror corridor” and reported that:

New terror organizations are being established by the US at the Tanf military base in southern Syria that is run by Washington, where a number of armed groups are being trained in order to be used as a pretext to justify US presence in the war-torn country. …

Military training is being conducted for “moderate” opposition groups in al-Tanf, where both the US and UK have bases.

These groups are made up of structures that have been established through US financing and have not been accepted under the umbrella of opposition groups approved by Turkey and the FSA.

From Deir Ezzor to Haifa

Claiming to be “training the opposition” in Tanf, the US is training operation militants under perception of being “at an equal distance to all groups.”

Apart from the so-called opposition that is linked to al-Qaeda, Daesh [ISIS] terrorists brought from Raqqa, western Deir Ezzor and the Golan Heights are being trained in the Tanf camp. …

The plan is to transport Iraqi oil to the Haifa [Israel] Port on the Mediterranean through Deir Ezzor and Tanf.

Actually, Deir Ezzor is also the capital of Syria’s own oil-producing region, and so this action by the United States is more than about merely a transit-route for Iraq’s oil to reach Israel; it is also (and very much) about America attempting theft of oil from Syrian land.

Furthermore, on May 23rd, Joe Gould at Defense News headlined “House rejects limit on new nuclear warhead” and he reported that the US House, in fulfillment of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which seeks to lower the threshold for nuclear war so as to expand the types of circumstances in which the US will “go nuclear,” rejected, by a vote of 226 to 188, a Democratic Party supported measure opposing lowering of the nuclear threshold. President Trump wants to be allowed to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons in a conflict. The new, smaller, nuclear warheads, a “W76-2 variant,” have 43% the yield of the bomb that the US dropped on Hiroshima, but it’s called a ‘tactical nuclear weapon’ meaning that it is supposedly intended for use in ‘conventional’ wars, so that it is actually designed to eliminate altogether the previous meta-strategic principle, of “Mutually Assured Destruction” pertaining to nuclear war (that nuclear weapons are justifiable only in order to prevent another World War, never in order to win such a war) that successfully prevented nuclear war till now — that once a side has introduced nuclear weapons into a military conflict, it has started a nuclear war and is challenging any opponent to either go nuclear itself or else surrender — America’s new meta-strategic doctrine (since 2006) is “Nuclear Primacy”: winning a nuclear war. (See this and this.)

US President Trump is now pushing to the limit, presumably in the confident expectation that as the US President, he can safely grab any territory he wishes, and steal any oil or other natural resource that he wishes, anywhere he wants — regardless of what the Russian Government, or anyone else, thinks or wants.

Though his words often contradict that, this is now clearly what he is, in fact, doing (or trying to do), and the current US House of Representatives, at least, is saying yes to this, as constituting American values and policies, now.

Trump — not in words but in facts — is “betting the house” on this.

Moreover, as I headlined on May 26th at Strategic Culture, “Credible Report Alleges US Relocates ISIS from Syria and Iraq into Russia via Afghanistan.” Trump is apparently trying to use these terrorists as — again like the US used them in Afghanistan in order to weaken the Soviet Union — so as to weaken Russia, but this time is even trying to infiltrate them into Russia itself.

Even Adolf Hitler, prior to WWII, didn’t lunge for Britain’s jugular. It’s difficult to think of a nation’s leader who has been this bold. I confess that I can’t.

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The West is racing towards full-blown economic collapse and when it comes it will be devastating – By Egon von Greyerz /King World News (SOTT)

eye on the world

As the world edges closer to the next crisis, today the man who has become legendary for his predictions on QE and historic moves in currencies, told King World News there is no way out and this is why the global collapse will be devastating.

20th Birthday Celebration!

The ECB (European Central Bank) just had its 20th birthday. But there is really nothing to celebrate. The EU is in a total mess and the Euro, which was launched on January 1, 1999, is a failed currency. Every president of the ECB has had to deal with fires that had very little to do with price stability but were more a question of survival. Most of these fires were a lot more serious than the candles in the Euro cake above which Draghi is trying to blow out. During the Frenchman Trichet’s watch, he had to deal with the Great Financial Crisis that started in 2006…

West Racing Toward Full-Blown Collapse

The only mandate of the ECB is to maintain price stability. Well that clearly has been a very costly exercise. Between 2006 and 2011 the ECB balance sheet tripled from €1 trillion to €3 trillion. But the crisis didn’t finish in 2011. After a brief reduction in debt, the balance sheet expanded fast from €2.3 trillion in 2014 to €4 trillion today. It is quite remarkable to watch the creation of a supranational bank which automatically creates a purpose for its own existence in the form of massive money printing. This is no better than burning money and serves no purpose whatsoever. And it is of course far distant from its purpose of price stability.

Money printing creates high inflation and eventually hyperinflation. The only reason why we haven’t seen high conventional inflation in the EU is that all the printed money, just like in the US, has stayed with the banks. The result has been low inflation in consumer products but huge asset inflation. Thus, we have seen massive increases in stock, bond and property prices but not in consumer prices. So major money creation by the ECB and the Eurozone banks have so far had only minor inflationary impact. But as the velocity of money increases, so will inflation. This moment is not far away. The same will happen in the US. As velocity of money accelerates, US inflation will pick up rapidly.

The EU now has major economic and/or political problems in many countries. Italy’s new coalition government is a protest against the EU and Euro. With debt to GDP already the highest in Europe, the new regime will exacerbate the problems. Lower taxes and higher spending will guarantee that. As the chart below shows, Italian debt to GDP is already 140%. By 2050 this is projected to grow to 210%. As interest rates go up, servicing the growing debt will soon absorb all tax revenue. Italy will be bankrupt long before 2050 and default on all its debt.

Italian debt

Between now and 2050, the Italian working age population is forecast to decline by 1/3, from 36 million to 24 million. There will be a lot less people to pay for a much higher debt.

Italian working-age population

The consequences of massive debt, economic stagnation and population decline will be a much lower GDP, which is expected to decline 35% by 2050.

GDP 2016-2050

If the above forecast of a major fall in the population as well as a substantial increase in debt is even vaguely accurate, Italy is on its way to the Dark Ages.

I must stress here that I find it so sad that this glorious country is suffering so much already and will suffer a lot more. Personally I love Italy – the people, the food, the architecture, the history and the Giola di Vivere (joie de vivre) of the Italians. It will be so tragic to see all of this disintegrate. Hopefully it will take a long time, although, sadly, the crisis might actually be around the corner.

But Italy is just one of many countries which will collapse in coming years. Spain is in a similar situation and the prime minister has just been kicked out. Greece’s problems have never been resolved and this fine country is also bankrupt and so are the Greek banks. I could go on with Portugal, France, Ireland, the UK and many others. Most of these countries have insoluble problems. It is only a matter of degree and time when the EU/Eurozone house of cards comes down. The map below shows potential leaving countries and names.

EU leaving countries

Coming back to the ECB’s main objective of price stability, that has failed totally. The change from the local currencies of mark, franc, lira, pesetas, etc, has disguised what has really happened. Many countries like, Spain, Italy Portugal and Greece, used to be very inexpensive when they had their own currency. That is no longer the case. The change to the Euro has hidden the real inflation that has taken place in these countries. No wonder the Germans called it the TEURO. Teuer in German means expensive.

EU flag

The consequence of one currency fits all is a disaster for the weaker Eurozone countries like Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal etc. The Euro is much too strong for these countries. This leads to weak exports as well as balance of payment and budget deficits. Countries like Germany on the other hand, benefit from a weak Euro which generates strong exports and surpluses. But the other side of the coin is that the ECB, which means mainly Germany, must finance the deficits of the weaker countries. And we all know that these debts will never be repaid. So whatever way you turn, the EU experiment will end in disaster. It is only a matter of how long it will take.

The Major Disease The World Will Face In Coming Years

If Italy, Greece or Spain had their own currencies, these would have weakened substantially already. Currency debasement is going to be the major contagious disease that the world will have to live with in coming years. It will happen to most currencies and spread like wildfire. Like many diseases, it normally starts in the periphery. Just take the examples of Turkey, Argentina and Venezuela. The currencies of these three countries have collapsed in this century and the fall is now accelerating.

The Turkish lira has lost 97% against gold since January 2000, and the fall is now picking up speed. For anyone who has been protected in gold, the gold price has gone up 38x vs the lira in the last 18 years (see chart below).

currency vs gold

The problem is worse in Argentina. Argentina used to have a very strong economy 100 years ago but lately they have gone through one crisis after the next. The Peso has lost 99% against gold since 2000. This means that gold is up 119x vs the peso in this century.

Finally let us look at the perfect example of a disastrously managed socialist economy with the resulting hyperinflation. I am taking about Venezuela of course. The Bolivar has lost 99.999% against gold since January 2000. So it now costs 550,000X more Bolivars to purchase an ounce of gold just in this century.

Comment: Except that Venezuela and it’s “disastrously managed socialist economy” has been a major target of financial, political and social sabotage for all those years from the empire to its north.

This all might sound unreal. These three currencies have lost between 97% and 99.999% in just 18 years. Well, it certainly isn’t unreal to the people in the three countries who have to suffer these precipitous losses of value of their money and disastrous falls in their standards of living.

And don’t think for one second that their governments told them to protect themselves, even when they knew they were going to print unlimited amounts of fiat money. No, the people had no warning. It is the same in all Western countries today. Governments in Europe, the US and Japan, just to mention a few, are already on the way to destroying their currencies in the 2000s. As the table shows, the Euro is down 75%, the Dollar 78% and the Yen 79% against gold since 2000. So inflation, leading to hyperinflation is already on the way in the West. It always starts slowly, although the fall so far in the last 18 years is already significant.

EU currency

But no government talks about how they are destroying their currency and no Western government tells their people to protect themselves by holding gold. They do the opposite. They manipulate the price of gold and see gold as a barbarous relic that has no place in a modern currency system. We know why they do this, of course, because gold can’t be printed or debased. Also, the gold price reveals their deceitful actions in ruining the currency and the economy.

Finally let’s look at two countries that understand gold and where the people buy and hold gold in important quantities.

Chindia gold demand

As the above chart shows, China and India have bought almost 25,000 tonnes since 2008. This means that on average they have bought the majority of annual gold mine production each year.

So my advice to investors is to learn from the recent economic problems/disasters in Turkey, Argentina and Venezuela. Any amount of personal gold, even very small, would have saved the holders in these countries from misery. It is also critical to heed the strong warning signs of deep trouble coming in Europe, Japan and the USA. A 75-79% fall in the currencies of these countries is telling us that they will all go to their intrinsic value of ZERO in the next few years.

And more importantly:

IGNORE THE PROPAGANDA FROM WESTERN GOVERNMENTS AND BANKS WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND HISTORY OR GOLD. INSTEAD FOLLOW THE LEAD OF CHINA AND INDIA AND PROTECT YOURSELVES AGAINST THE COMING DESTRUCTION OF PAPER MONEY, WITH PHYSICAL GOLD AND SOME SILVER.” For those who would like to read more of Egon von Greyerz’s fantastic articles CLICK HERE.

Comment: See also: Gold set to breakout amid coming economic downturn, says financial expert
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