Pepe Escobar: “Breaking bad in southern NATOstan “

THE ROVING EYE 
Breaking bad in southern NATOstan 
By Pepe Escobar 

ON THE ROAD IN PROVENCE – To quote Lenin, what is to be done? Back to Brussels and Berlin? A close encounter with dreary Northern NATOstan, consumed by its paranoid anti-Russia obsession and enslaved by the infinitely expandable Pentagon euro-scam? Perhaps a jaunt to Syria war junkie Erdogastan? 

Talk about a no contest. Joie de vivre settled it; thus The Roving Eye hooked up with Nick, The Roving Son, in Catalonia, and armed with La Piccolina – Nick’s vintage, go-go ’80s Peugeot caravan powered by a Citroen engine – we hit the road in Provence, prime southern NATOstan real estate. Instead of breaking crystal meth, non-stop breaking of fine infidel liquids and choice Provencal gastronomy. 


Call it a subterranean, non-homesick, non-bluesy investigation into the economic malaise of Club Med nations; the pauperization of the European middle class; the advance of the extreme right; and the looming prospect of an economic NATO. All within the framework of exceedingly cool family quality time. And subversively enough, with both laptop and mobile turned off. 

Does God drink Bandol? 
We were fortunate enough to catch the inaugural week of the Van Gogh Foundation in Arles – with its remarkable entrance portal inscribed with Van Gogh’s enlarged signature; its suspended garden of colored mirrors; and a crack exhibition on the master’s chromatic evolution up to the frenetic 15 months he lived in Arles. A few minutes contemplating La Maison Jaune (1888) is an intimation of immortality, revealing what exceptionalism is really all about. 

Aesthetic illuminations were a given – from Baux castle at sunset to sipping a Perrier mint on a terrace overlooking the countryside around hilltop Gordes; from a starry night in the open at the Colorado Provencal (intriguingly trespassed by a military helicopter flying low, Baghdad surge-style) to debating the merits of each variation of chevre de Banon - that Epicurean “cheese of exception” wrapped up in chestnut leaves. 

And then the crossing to the Grand Canyon of Verdon – the most American of European canyons, attacked on different angles from both the north and south rim, including a trek along the old Roman trail and a close encounter with the jagged, chaotic, ghostly rock silhouettes of Les Cadieres (chairs, in Provencal) – the Verdon’s answer to the Twin Towers. Call it a quirky Provencal take on Osama and al-Zawahiri trekking the Hindu Kush. 

As we descended from the Col de Leques, the owner of a mountainside cafe told us he had just opened for the whole season, lasting until mid-September. But here, in early April, the Verdon was bathed in silent glory, except for the occasional badass biker. 

Then – as in Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou - a dash towards La Mediterrane. First stop in Front National-controlled Toulon – so proper, so regimented, so fearful even of non-immigrant skateboarders, yet displaying a monster NATO cargo ship in full regalia. 

It’s impossible to have a plateau de moules in mid-afternoon at the port, but at the Ah-Ha Chinese restaurant there are Verdon canyons of food are available around the clock, which once again goes to show how Asia’s entrepreneurial drive has left Europe in the dust. 

Cue to a Platonic banquet at the venerable Auberge Du Port in Bandol – orgiastic bouillabaisse paired with the best local wine, which would be a close match between Bastide de la Ciselette and Domaine de Terrebrune. None of these infidel liquid marvels, by the way, have been touched by globalization. 

There’s hardly a single millimeter of free land space in the coast around Marseille – that’s part of a well-known dossier, the environmental destruction of southern NATOstan. Still we managed to find a relatively secluded grove for the appropriate Rimbaud mood (la mer, la mer, toujours recommence). 

Then the dreaded moment reared its ugly head – at Sanary-sur-Mer, where Huxley wrote Brave New World at his Villa Huley and Thomas Mann held court in the Chemin de la Colline. Brecht in fact might have sung anti-Hitler songs out of a table at Le Nautique; so after debating with Nick the comparative merits of Beneteau sailing boats, I finally decided to stop with all that Brechtian distancing and walked to the nearby kiosk to buy the papers, order a cafe au lait, and turn on the mobile. 

Not impressed is an understatement. One week off the grid, and the same sarabande of paranoia, frenetic pivoting and monochromatic exceptionalism. Yet, there it was, like a pearl at the bottom of the turquoise Mediterranean, buried in the info-avalanche: the definitive news of the week, perhaps the year, perhaps the decade. 

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller had met with China National Petroleum Corporation chairman Zhou Jiping in Beijing on Wednesday. They were on their way to sign the 30-year, mega-contract deal to supply China with Siberian natural gas “as soon as possible”. Probably on May 20, when Putin goes to Beijing. 

Now this is the genuine article. Pipelineistan meets the strategic partnership Russia-China, as solidified in the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with the tantalizing prospect of pricing/payment bypassing the petrodollar, otherwise known as the “thermonuclear option”. Ukraine, compared to this, is a mere sideshow. 

Welcome to the Brussels rat-o-drome
It was on the road from the Mediterranean back to Arles via Aix-en-Provence that it hit me like an Obama drone. This whole trip was after all about the sublime chevre wrapped up in chestnut leaves in Banon, those “rose petal” bottles of wine; in Bandol, artisan producers and season mountain folks spelling out their fears in village markets and unpretentious chateaux. This was all about economic NATO. 

The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement is a top priority of the Obama administration. Tariffs are already almost negligible across most products between the US and the European Union. So a deal is essentially about a power grab over continental markets by Big American Agro-Business (as in an invasion of genetically modified products), as well as American media giants. Call it a nice add-on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – which in a nutshell means an American takeover of the heavily protected Japanese economy. 

Southern NATOstan does offer glimpses of a European post-historical paradise – a Kantian rose garden protected from a nasty Hobbesian world by the “benign” Empire (the new denomination of choice, coined by – who else – neo-cons of the Robert Kagan variety). Yet the main emotion enveloping southern NATOstan, as I witnessed since the start of 2014 successively in Italy, Spain and France, is fear. Fear of The Other – as in the poor interloper, black or brown; fear of perennial unemployment; fear for the end of middle-class privileges until recently taken for granted; and fear of economic NATO – as virtually no average European trusts those hordes of Brussels bureaucrats. 

For nine months now, the European Commission has been negotiating a so-called Trade and Investment Partnership. The “transparency” surrounding what will be the largest free-trade agreement ever, encompassing more than 800 million consumers, would put North Korea’s King Jong-eun to shame. 

The whole secret blah blah blah revolves around the euphemistic “non-tariff obstacles” – as in a web of ethical, environmental, juridical and sanitary norms that protect consumers, not giant multinationals. What the behemoths aim for, on the other hand, is a very profitable free-for-all – implying, just as an example, the indiscriminate use of ractopamine, an energy-booster for pork that is even outlawed in Russia and China. 

So why is the Obama administration suddenly so enamored of a free-trade agreement with Europe? Because US Big Business has finally found out that the Holy Grail of an economic pivoting to China won’t be so holy after all; the whole thing will be conducted under Chinese terms, as in major Chinese brands progressively upgrading to control most of the Chinese market. 

Thus Plan B as a transatlantic market submitting 40% of international trade to the same big business-friendly norms. Obama has been heavily spinning the agreement will create “millions of well-paid American jobs”. That’s highly debatable, to say the least. But make no mistake about the American drive; Obama himself is personally implicated. 

As for the Europeans, it’s more like rats scurrying in a secret casino. As much as the National Security Agency monitors every phone call in Brussels, average Europeans remain clueless about what they will be slapped with. Public debate over the agreement is for all practical purposes verboten for European civil society. 

European Commission negotiators meet only with lobbyists and multinational CEOs. In case of “price volatility” down the road, European farmers will be the big losers, not Americans, now protected by a new Farm Bill. No wonder the direct and indirect message I received from virtually everyone in the Provencal countryside is that “Brussels is selling us out”; in the end, what will disappear, in a death by a thousand cuts manner, is top-quality agriculture, scores of artisan producers with a savoir-faireaccumulated over centuries. 

So long live hormones, antibiotics, chlorine and GMOs. And off with their heads in the terroir! NATO issuing threats to Russia is such a lame, convenient diversionary tactic. As La Piccolina left Provence carrying its share of sublime artisan goods, I could not but understand why the locals see an economic NATO future with such Van Goghian apprehension. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com. 

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.) 

Fonte: Asia Times

Lavrov: Russia, US, EU, Ukraine agree on de-escalation roadmap

Vídeo

Transmitido ao vivo em 17/04/2014
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov holds a press conference following a Geneva meeting of top diplomats from the EU, Russia, Ukraine and the United States, who held talks on the recent crisis in Ukraine. READ MORE: http://on.rt.com/nvzlcj
Fonte: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hKtKS-Fo1o

СrossTalk: What West loses by alienating Russia?

Vídeo

Publicado em 09/04/2014
What does the West lose by alienating Russia? How will geopolitical order change if Russia intensifies relations with the East? And are we getting closer to the multipolar world CrossTalking with Amitav Acharya, Enze Han and Alexander Mercouris.

Keiser Report: Petrodollar vs Petroyuan (E587)

Vídeo

Publicado em 12/04/2014
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the dollar at the bottom of the shampoo bottle and JPMorgan about to have a very cold winter. In the second half, Max interviews investor and businessman, Jerome Booth, about emerging markets in an upside-down world in which most investors have core-periphery disease.

Pepe Escobar: The Kerry-Lavrov chess match

Imagem

The Kerry-Lavrov chess match
By Pepe Escobar

It’s hardly a match between equals – as one is playing Monopoly while the other plays chess. It’s as if Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been postponing his checkmate, while US Secretary of State John Kerry increasingly realizes he’s facing the inevitable. 

Lavrov has explained over and over again, a loose federation is the only possible solution for Ukraine, as part of a “deep constitutional reform”. That would imply ethnic – and even sentimentally – Russian eastern and southern Ukraine would be largely autonomous. Kerry gave signs of agreeing around two weeks ago that Ukrainian regions need more decision power; but then the White House recharged its moral blitzkrieg – coinciding with President Barack Obama’s trip to The Hague and Brussels. Still, even after an inconclusive four-hour Kerry-Lavrov chess match in Paris, there will be a checkmate.

The Russian solution is the same plan proposed by Moscow already a few weeks ago, and again discussed on the phone by Obama and President Vladimir Putin on Friday – which prompted Kerry to redirect his flight to Paris. Each Ukrainian region, according to Lavrov, would be able to control its economy, taxes, culture, language, education and “external economic and cultural connections with neighboring countries or regions”. That’s such a sound plan that even former – or perennial, depending on spin – cold warriors such as Henry Kissinger and Zbig Brzezinski reasonably agree. 

The key problem is that Washington immovably considers the present Kiev set up - also known as the Khaganate of Nulands, as in State Department Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nulands – as legitimate. Moscow sees them as a bunch of putschists and fascists. And Washington still refuses to press Kiev to accept a federal system – thus allowing, among other things, Russian as an official second language.

The latest American stunt is a massive propaganda drive of “The Reds are coming” kind, about Russian troops massing at the border(pliant corporate media spins numbers over 100,000).

Kerry, for the moment, is at least refraining from hysteria; he admits Washington and Moscow agree a diplomatic solution is a must, just to revert to the new meme – the artificial, Pentagon/NATO-spun “prelude to an invasion”.

Washington’s official position remains that Moscow must disarm its forces in Crimea (it won’t happen); admit international observers (it might happen); and pull troops back from the eastern border (Moscow argues these are exercises, with the same number as usual – fewer than 20,000). Lavrov having to stress over and over again there are no Russian plans to invade eastern Ukraine sound almost like a punch line in stand-up comedy. 

Beware The Empire of Chaos 
Then there are the upcoming presidential elections. Rivers of vodka may be bet that that will be an extremely dodgy operation. The Svoboda and Right Sector goons currently in positions of power will do everything to tamper with the results (as they are not exactly popular). After German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s horse – former boxer “Klitsch” – decided to abandon the race, the leader is – what else – an oligarch: billionaire chocolate tycoon Petro Poroshenko. He already dismissed the federal solution, as in “somebody in the Russian government trying to tell us what type of governmental system we should have”.

images

And there’s nothing about “democracy” to start with, as the regime changers, as reported by Kommersant, are in full speed already rewriting the Ukrainian constitution, with Prime Minister “Yats” Arseniy Yatseniuk urging them to come up with the final redaction within the next two weeks.

The unspoken Siberian tiger in this room is a Russian unconditional. Kiev must officially pledge that Ukraine will not join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And we all know, since the Khaganate of Nulands was installed, this was always about the Pentagon-led expansion of NATO. 

Putin’s “carrot” to Obama is something that he also told him on the phone: the future of Transnistria in Moldova, on Ukraine’s south-west border, should be solved by talks in a 5+2 format; Moldova, Transnistria, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Russia and Ukraine, with the European Union and US as observers. Once again, no “invasion” involved.

Glaring in all this is an already immovable fact – Crimea joining the Russian Federation. And there’s no turning back, whatever the US, the EU and Kiev may spin. 

But that poses an ulterior problem. Putin’s rationale to move on Crimea – after Russian intelligence uncovered a plot to replicate in Simferopol the coup in Kiev – was that Crimea’s autonomy was not enough to protect it from the regime changers. The same could be argued later about ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in eastern and southern Ukraine. So the autonomy conditions – and the constitutional reform – would have to be ironclad. They probably won’t. 

Still, the stark fact is that no one gives a damn about “the Ukrainian people”, be it the US, the EU or the International Monetary Fund (Russia at least cares for Russians in Ukraine). Another even more sensitive ulterior problem, assuming Washington and Moscow reach a deal, is how far can you trust the “word” of the United States government. Russia has first-hand experience on the matter, as in Bush father promising Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand across eastern Europe. It did – like a blob in a cheap horror flick. 

We should never forget the Big Picture; as with the NSA Orwellian-panopticon complex, this is most of all about the application of the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, which implies encirclement of Russia (via NATO), coupled with the pivot-style encirclement of China. And the overarching logic remains the same; this is The Empire of Chaos in action.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Fonte: Asia Times

‘US desperate to isolate Russia on all fronts’

Pepe Escobar’US desperate to isolate Russia on all fronts’

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.

Published time: March 28, 2014 13:36
 
A G7 summit at the official residence of the Dutch prime minister in The Hague on March 24, 2014 on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). (AFP Photo / Jerry Lampen)

A G7 summit at the official residence of the Dutch prime minister in The Hague on March 24, 2014 on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). (AFP Photo / Jerry Lampen)

Here I outlined some reasons why Asia won’t isolate Russia. And here some reasons why the EU cannot afford to isolate Russia. Yet the Obama administration is relentless, and bound to keep attacking on three major fronts – the G20, Iran and Syria.

First, the G20. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop threw a balloon, speculating that Russia and President Vladimir Putin could be barred from the G20 summit in Brisbane in November.

The reaction of the other four BRICS member-nations was swift: “The custodianship of the G20 belongs to all member-states equally and no one member-state can unilaterally determine its nature and character.”

US-subservient Australia had to shut up. For now.

The BRICS, not by accident, are the key developing world alliance inside the G20, which actually discusses what matters in international relations. The G7 – which ‘expelled’ Russia from its upcoming meeting in Sochi, transferred to Brussels – is just a self-important talk shop.

Sanction to sanction

Then there’s Iran. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov made it very clear that if the US and selected European minions would slap economic sanctions over the Crimea referendum, we will take retaliatory measures as well.” And he meant it in relation to the P5+1 negotiations over the Iranian nuclear dossier.

Here’s a fairly accurate depiction of the US establishment’s view on the Russian role in the negotiations.

It’s true that the 2009 revelation of a secret, underground Iranian uranium enrichment facility did not sit well with Moscow – which in response cancelled the sale of the S-300 air defense system to Tehran.

But more crucial is the fact Moscow wants the Iranian nuclear dossier to be kept under UN Security Council umbrella – where it can exercise a veto; any solution must be multilateral, and not concocted by psychotic neo-cons.

Conflicting political factions in Iran may harbor doubts about Moscow’s commitment to a just solution – considering Moscow has not done much to alleviate the harsh sanctions package. And yes, both Russia and Iran are in competition as energy exporters – and sanctions do punish Iran and reward Russia (50 percent less Iranian oil exports since 2011, and not even qualifying as a major exporter of natural gas).

But if the American sanction obsession engulfs Russia as well, expect fireworks; as in Moscow accelerating a swap of up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian crude in exchange for Russia building another nuclear power plant; extra Russian moves busting the Western sanctions wall; and even Moscow deciding to sell not only the S-300 but the S-400 or the ultra-sophisticated, upcoming S-500 air defense system to Tehran.

It’s false flag time

Finally there’s Syria. Once again, the BRICS are at the forefront. Russian Ambassador-at-Large Vadim Lukov nailed it when he stressedFrankly speaking, without the BRICS position, Syria would have long ago turned into Libya.”

The BRICS learned their lesson for Syria when they let their abstentions at a UN vote open the way for NATO’s humanitarian bombing of Libya into a failed state. Subsequently, Russian diplomacy intervened to save the Obama administration from bombing Syria over a senseless, self-inflicted ‘red line’ – with potentially cataclysmic consequences.

Now the plot is thickening again. UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has spun that the resumption of the Geneva II peace talks is “out of the question” for the moment. In a briefing to the UN Security Council in early March, he blamed the Syrian government for this.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (C) opens the so-called Geneva II peace talks next to UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (L) on January 22, 2014 in Montreux. (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (C) opens the so-called Geneva II peace talks next to UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (L) on January 22, 2014 in Montreux. (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

That’s absurd. The myriad, bickering, opportunistic opposition factions never wanted a negotiation in the first place; only regime change. Not to mention the jihadi nebulae – whic until recently has been imposing facts on the ground fully weaponized by Gulf petrodollar funds.

Now rumors abound of the Obama administration getting ready to ‘isolate’ Russia – and by extension the BRICS – on Syria.

The Obama administration, via proverbial unnamed ‘officials’, has been positioning disinformation‘reports’ about jihadists attacking Western interests, based out of north and northeast Syria. That could be the prelude for a perfect false flag, then used to justify a Western intervention – obviously bypassing the UN. Those warmongering dreamers of a no-fly zone over Syria have never stopped dreaming.

This scenario also neatly dovetails with the current Erdogan administration scandal in Turkey – as what was unveiled on YouTube is exactly a national security conversation on how a NATO member, Turkey, could set up a false flag and blame Syria.

The bottom line is that NATO has far from given up on regime change in Syria. There are enticing symmetries at play. A putsch in Ukraine. A false flag in Syria. A NATO push in Syria? A Russian push in eastern Ukraine. It may not sound as far-fetched as it seems. And then, all bets are off.

The whole New Great Game in Eurasia is getting so warped that now we have constitutional law expert Obama legitimizing the invasion and occupation of Iraq (“America sought to work within the international system, we did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory”) and wacko warmongers in Think Tankland preaching an oil embargo against Russia, Iran-style, with Washington using their minions Saudi Arabia to make up for the shortfall.

After lecturing Europeans in The Hague and Brussels over ‘evil’ Russian designs, and parading in Rome like a New Caesar, Obama finishes his triumphal tour exactly at his Saudi satrapy. We should all get ready for a nasty box of chocolates ahead.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Dois Pontos – O clima de Guerra Fria (2014). Entrevista com Javier Vadell e Daniela Secches

Vídeo

Publicado em 26/03/2014
A independência da Crimeia, uma província da Ucrânia, e sua anexação à Rússia, despertou a antiga disputa entre norte-americanos e russos. O clima de Guerra Fria, com as sanções e declarações de lado a lado, expõe a ainda frágil e complexa relação entre os dois países. Mas quais os efeitos e riscos desse embate, no qual Estados Unidos e Rússia não são os únicos a jogarem. Quais os motivos, os interesses e a tática de cada país

Fonte: UFMG: Dois Pontos

Mujica confirma asilo en Uruguay para grupo de prisioneros de Guantánamo

Viernes 21 de Marzo de 2014, 09:01 pm

Mujica confirma asilo en Uruguay para grupo de prisioneros de Guantánamo

El presidente de Uruguay José “Pepe” Mujica, confirmó este viernes que dará asilo a un grupo de prisioneros de la cárcel estadounidense de Guantánamo, ubicada en territorio cubano de manera ilegal.

Mujica aseguró que la medida busca contribuir al cierre de esta prisión utilizada durante muchos años por el gobierno norteamericano como celda para quienes fueran considerados terroristas.

“No hay que hacer una novela por esto, no hay ningún acuerdo con nadie, es un pedido (de Estados Unidos) y es una cuestión de Derechos Humanos”, resaltó el mandatario Uruguayo, quien además comentó que actualmente hay unas 120 personas privadas de libertad desde hace apróximadamente 13 años sin que les fuera emitida una sentencia, pues nunca fueron visitados por un juez o fiscal.

“El presidente de Estados Unidos (Barack Obama) quiere sacarse ese problema de encima, pero el Senado le exige 60 cosas, entonces le pidió a un montón de países si podían darle refugio a algunos, y yo le dije sí, porque yo estuve un montón de años preso”, explicó el dignatario.

Mujica manifestó estar cansado de que en el mundo se hable de Derechos Humanos y no se actúe de manera correcta para hacer cumplirlos, tras considerar que lo que está haciendo es un acto de conformidad de estos derechos.

“Derechos Humanos es esto, si quieren hacer nido y trabajar en el país (Uruguay) que se instalen en el país”.

El presidente, Barack Obama, reiteró en marzo su intención de cerrar el penal de Guantánamo cuanto antes y pidió al Congreso que actúe para facilitar la transferencia de los detenidos que aún quedan en la prisión desde que se abriera
en 2002.

“Con la guerra de Afganistán tocando a su fin, éste tiene que ser el año en que el Congreso levante las restricciones restantes para las transferencias de prisioneros y para que cerremos la prisión de la Bahía de Guantánamo”, dijo Obama

Obama argumentó en ese momento que Estados Unidos “tiene que dejar atrás esta situación de estar permanentemente en pie de guerra” a pesar de seguir comprometido con perseguir “de forma agresiva a las redes terroristas, mediante esfuerzos mejor enfocados y desarrollando la capacidad de nuestros aliados extranjeros”.

teleSUR-martinoticias.com/ba-GP
Fonte: Telesur

Pepe escobar: “Russian sanctions as war and farce”

THE ROVING EYE
Russian sanctions as war and farce
By Pepe Escobar

Putin e as sanções euro-americanas.

Putin e as sanções euro-americanas.

If we come to a minefield, our infantry attacks exactly as if it was not there - Marshal Georgy Zhukov

Let’s start with the serious stuff. As Russia’s Federation Council ratifies a treaty with Crimea, concluding the formal annexation, Ukraine signs the political chapters of an association agreement with the European Union (EU). The signing of the full EU agreement will only happen later in 2014.

These are the facts on the ground. Now let’s turn to comedy hour – also known as the sanctions war.

The oh-so democratic EU has punished the democratic Crimea referendum by sanctioning 33 Russians and Crimeans with asset freezes and travel bans, according to that Magritte-style walking fiction, European Council President Van Rompuy. The EU also canceled the EU-Russia summit in Sochi on June 3. And the vast, Kafkaesque bureaucracy of the European Commission (EC) has taken time out from subsidizing European cows to prepare for “possible economic sanctions”, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 
The EU is irretrievably split on what to do. Whatever it does, Moscow’s capacity to make the EU badly hurt is stronger. There may be another meek set of sanctions next week, as Merkel advertised. But that’s it.

European poodle action mirrors His Master’s Voice – as in US President Barack Obama solemnly imposing, by executive order, further sanctions on “senior officials of the Russian government.” Other US targets are private businessmen close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Only exceptionalist logic legally allows sanctions on private individuals deemed responsible for political steps taken by the country they live in. International lawyers should have thought about sanctioning the entire US population for the Bush-Cheney junta’s disaster.

Well over 60% of Americans and Europeans are against a New Cold War against Russia. Putin’s approval rating in Russia is around 75% – and arguably similar all across the developing world. Still, no one will lose money betting on the juvenile amateurism of the Obama administration. As if they and selected European minions could intimidate Moscow with some cosmetic “message”. The American sanction religion, imposed with a conquistador/slave owner fury, did destroy Iraq for years – and was supposed to destroy Iran as well. But Russia is not Iraq or Iran.

I love a man in sanction uniform
Sanctioned Russians are not exactly quaking in their made-in-London brogues. After all, the practical impact of these sanctions is exactly zero. And most people targeted have minimal direct links with the US.

The original American list included Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin and presidential aide Vladislav Surkov. They laughed it off, loudly – adding it felt like a badge of honor. The expanded list includes key Putin advisers and even some of his friends.

Obama, Iran-style, sanctioned the Bank of Russia – a minor player (less than US$10 billion in assets; compare it with giant Sberbank at $528 billion). But Bank of Russia is used by some Gazprom subsidiaries for some low-key deals – even as Gazprom owns its own bank, GazpromBank. The “message” here is that Washington is watching Gazprom. 

Chief of Presidential Administration Sergei Ivanov is a key adviser on Ukraine and a top negotiator with the US, the EU and NATO. The – counterproductive – “message” implied here is that Moscow and Washington are not talking anything substantial in the immediate future. So much for the West’s “diplomatic efforts”.

Then there’s Yuri Kovalchuk, a board member of the Bank of Russia, a key business adviser and – allegedly, no conclusive evidence – Putin’s personal banker. The message here is of the “I’m gonna git you sucka” kind.

Finally, among the notables, there’s Gennady Timchenko, who has absolutely nothing to do with Ukraine. He’s an energy deal operator, controlling oil and natural gas trading firm Gunvor. In this case, the “message” is that the US will target Russia’s energy deals. Message void, because the EU – which needs Gazprom badly – is not inclined to sanction Timchenko.

Other sanctioned include the head of the Federal Drug Control Service Viktor Ivanov, Chief of Military Intelligence Igor Sergun and Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin.

They are all part of the Russia-US team involved in the Northern Distribution Network – the long, across-Central Asia highway that will allow NATO to flee Afghanistan. A swift Moscow counter-attack would be to leave the Americans and Europeans hanging dry – or to close the NDN altogether.

I want to be sanction-free
Moscow, predictably, struck back. The Russian Foreign Ministry has “repeatedly” stressed that using sanctions is a “double-edged thing” and it will have a “boomerang” effect against the US.

Already barred from entering Russia is a nasty bunch including the senile John McCain, plus Robert Menendez, Daniel Coats, Mary Landrieu, Harry Reid, John Boehner and Obama advisers such as the cosmic mediocrity Ben Rhodes. Vicky “F**k the EU” Nuland has not made the list – yet.

Moscow is playing it cool because it may choose among a staggering array of counterpunches. It enjoys the support of the BRICS group of emerging powers, the non-aligned movement (NAM) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Composing with the US, Moscow agreed to impose sanctions on Iran, and is a key player in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations. If the sanction comedy goes on, Moscow has already announced it will play hardball with the P5+1, will cease to sanction Iran, and may even, finally, weaponize Tehran with jewels of the S-400 variety. 

Moscow – the number one oil and gas exporter on the planet – can also play further hardball with Europe’s dependency on Gazprom; clinically target US companies working in Russia; speed up the BRICS-coordinated escape from the US dollar, as in a new international payment system in a basket of currencies for the BRICS as well as other emerging markets; and even activate the ultimate economic nuclear bomb – which is to accept payment for Russian oil and gas in ruble, yuan, euros or gold, thus delivering a terminal blow to the petrodollar. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, will be the end of the comedy hour. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

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Fonte:  Asia Tomes

US thinks rules are for inferior nations, it’s in their DNA’

Vídeo

Publicado em 20/03/2014
COLD WAR AND PEACE (ft ex Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser)
Kosovo’s secession demonstrated that international law is only as applicable as the force used to back it. But with Crimea now free on the wings of that precedent, the West cries foul. Why does the western world fail to recognise parallels between Kosovo and Crimea? Is it a case of double standards or the result of decades of adversarial EU and NATO policies towards Russia? Oksana is joined by former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, to canvass these issues.