The New Normal: Cold War 2.0

Published originally in: 06/05/2016

We are all living in Hybrid War time. From R2P (“responsibility to protect”) to color revolutions, from currency attacks to stock market manipulations.

Pepe-Escobar

From judicial-financial-political-media enabled “soft” coups – as in Brazil – to support for “moderate” jihadis, multiple stages of Hybrid War now cross-pollinate and generate a vortex of new mutant viruses.

Hybrid War, a Beltway concept, has even been turned upside down by the conceptualizers. NATO, affecting puzzlement at the very existence of the concept, interprets the Russian “invasion” of Ukraine as Hybrid War. That serves prime Hybrid War purveyors such as the RAND corporation to take it further, peddling war game scenarios of Russia being able to invade and conquer the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — in less than 60 hours.And that, in turn, foments even more Western military hysteria, encapsulated by the new NATO commander, a.k.a. Dr. Strangelove; Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who made sure he would come up with a stage entrance worthy of his predecessor, Philip Breedlove/ Breedhate.

Slightly amused at the whole conceptual circus, Russians respond with actions. Extra deployments in our Western borderlands? No problem; here’s your asymmetrical answer. And say hello, soon, to our new toy: the S-500s.

What Hillary wants

The notion that Moscow would have any interest at all to capture Baltic states is ludicrous in itself. But with the evidence of direct occupation of Afghanistan (the Taliban will never quit) and R2P in Libya (a failed state devastated by militias) spelling miserable failure, NATO badly needs a “success”. Enter warmongering rhetoric and conceptual manipulation – and this when it’s actually Washington that is deploying Hybrid War all across the chessboard.

Reality occurs beyond NATO’s looking glass. Russia is way ahead of the Pentagon/NATO in A2AD — anti-access/area denial; Russian missiles and submarines may easily prevent NATO fighter jets from flying in Central Europe and NATO ships from “patrolling” the Baltic Sea. For the “indispensable nation”, that hurts – so bad.Relentless rhetorical hysteria masks the real high-stakes game in play. And that’s where US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton fits in. Throughout her campaign, Clinton has extolled “a major strategic objective of our transatlantic alliance”. The major “strategic objective” is none other than the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – a NATO-on-trade complementing political and military NATO.

The fact that TTIP, after the latest Dutch leaks, now runs the risk of being mired in Walking Dead territory may be a temporary setback. The imperial “project” is clear; to configure NATO, which already mutated into a global Robocop (Afghanistan, Libya, Syria), into an integrated political-economic-commercial-military alliance. Always under Washington’s command, of course. And including key peripheral vassals/contributors, such as the Gulf petromonarchies and Israel.

The imperial “enemy”, of course, would have to be the only authentic project available for the 21st century: Eurasia integration – which ranges from the Chinese-led New Silk Roads to the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union; BRICS integration, which includes their New Development Bank (NDB), in tandem with the Chinese Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); a resurgent, still independent Iran – Eurasia-connected; and all other independent poles among Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) nations.

This is the ultimate, ongoing 21st confrontation that will keep generating multiple, localized hybrid warfare forms – as it takes place not only across Eurasia but across the whole Global South. It’s all interlocked – from Maidan to the secret TTIP negotiations; from provoking China in the South China Sea to an oil price war and an attack on the ruble; from the NSA spying on Petrobras feeding a slow motion, legalistic regime change process in Brazil to an EU ravaged by twin plagues; a refugee crisis ultimately provoked by NATO’s wars (and instrumentalized by Turkey) coupled with Salafi-jhadi terrorism also spawned by the same wars.Even with France and Germany still dithering – as in paying too heavy a price for sanctions on Russia — Washington’s “project” counts on a ravaged EU being a perpetual hostage of NATO. And ultimately, a hostage of NATO on trade – because of those US geostrategic imperatives against Eurasia integration. 

This implies another necessity; the conceptual war – it’s the evil Russians who are waging Hybrid War, not us! —  must be won at all costs, by instilling constant fear into the average EU citizen. In parallel, it’s also essential to put on a show; thus one of the most massive US-designed military operations on European soil since the end of the Cold War – complete with Navy and Air Force displaying nuclear capability. 

This is the new normal; Cold War 2.0, 24/7. 

By Pepe Escobar

Source: Sputnik News

Why Russia isn’t as strong as people think

Published on April 7, 2016

George Friedman explains how population disparity and the loss of a critical buffer comprised of European countries along the border of Russia, have weakened the country.

Business Insider

How Russia and China Are Planning to Counter US Economic Warfare

Posted originally in: 16/04/2016

There is no better example of ‘hybrid war’ that Washington’s economic and financial war against Moscow.

Russia-China

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told a large group of people in the holy city of Mashhad on Sunday that “The Americans did not act on what they promised in the [Iranian] nuclear accord [the JCPOA]; they did not do what they should have done. According to Foreign Minister [Javad Zarif], they brought something on paper but prevented materialization of the objectives of the Islamic Republic of Iran through many diversionary ways.”

This statement during the Supreme Leader’s key Nowruz (New Year) address should be understood as a flashing amber light: it was no rhetorical flourish. And it was not a simple dig at America (as some may suppose). It was perhaps more of a gentle warning to the Iranian government to “take care” of the possible political consequences.

What is happening is significant: for whatever motive, the U.S. Treasury is busy emptying much of the JCPOA sanctions relief of any real substance (and their motive is something which deserves careful attention). The Supreme Leader also noted that Iran is experiencing difficulties in repatriating its formerly frozen, external funds.

U.S. Treasury officials, since “implementation” day, have been doing the rounds, warning European banks that the U.S. sanctions on Iran remain in place, and that European banks should not think, even for a second, of tapping the dollar or euro bond markets in order to finance trade with Iran, or to become involved with financing infrastructure projects in Iran.

Banks well understand the message: touch Iranian commerce and you will be whacked with a billion dollar fine – against which there is no appeal, no clear legal framework – and no argument countenanced.  The banks (understandably) are shying off. Not a single bank or financial lending institution turned up when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Paris to hold meetings with the local business élite.

The influential Keyhan Iranian newspaper wrote on March 14 on this matter that: “Speaking at the UN General Assembly session in September, Rouhani stated: ‘Today a new phase of relations has started in Iran’s relations with the world.’ He also stated in a live radio and television discussion with the people on 23 Tir: ‘The step-by-step implementation of this document could slowly remove the bricks of the wall of mistrust.’

Keyhan continues: “These remarks were made at a time when the Western side, headed by America, does not have any intention to remove or even shorten the wall of mistrust between itself and Iran. … Moreover, they are delaying the implementation of their JCPOA commitments. Lifting the sanctions has remained merely as a promise on a piece of paper, so much so that it has roused the protest of Iranian politicians.”

“The American side is promoting conditions in such a way that today even European banks and companies do not dare to establish financial relations with Iran – since all of them fear America’s reaction in the form of sanctions [imposed on those same banks]. Actually, the reason for the delay in the commencement of the European banks’ financial cooperation with the Iranian banks and the failure to facilitate banking and economic transactions, is because many of the American sanctions are still in place, and Iranian banks’ financial transactions are [still] facing restrictions. Moreover, given their continuing fear of the biting legislations and penalties for violations of the Americans’ old sanctions, European financial institutions are concerned about violating the American sanctions that continue to be in force …

“It is pointless to expect the US administration to cooperate with Iran given the comments of the US officials, including [National Security Advisor] Susan Rice, since the Americans’ comments and behaviour reveal their non-compliance with their obligations and speak of the absence of the US administration’s political will to implement even its minimum obligations.”

Here Keyhan is specifically referring to Susan Rice’s observation to Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic that, “The Iran deal was never primarily about trying to open a new era of relations between the US and Iran. The aim was very simply to make a dangerous country less dangerous. No one had any expectation that Iran would be a more benign actor.”

Keyhan continues: “Any action on the international scene calls for suitable and appropriate reaction. Therefore, we cannot expect a government like the US administration that seizes every single opportunity to restrict our county, to lift the sanctions. Rice’s recent comments are only a small part of the increasing anti-Iranian rhetoric of the American officials in recent months. These remarks should actually be regarded as a sign … that the dream of the JCPOA is nothing but wishful thinking and far from reality.” (Emphasis added).

The Supreme Leader’s nudge therefore was intended for the ears of the government: Do not build too much politically on this accord: beware its foundations may turn out to be built on sand.

‘Silver Bullet’ Worries

Recently U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew gave a talk at Carnegie, on the Evolution of Sanctions and Lessons for the Future, on which David Ignatius commented: “Economic sanctions have become the ‘silver bullet’ of American foreign policy over the past decade, because they’re cheaper and more effective in compelling adversaries than traditional military power. But Jack Lew warns of a ‘risk of overuse’ that could neuter the sanctions weapon and harm America. His caution against overuse comes as some Republican members of Congress are fighting to maintain U.S. sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program despite last year’s deal limiting that Iranian threat.”

So what is going on here? If Lew is warning against sanction overreach, why is it that it is precisely his department that is the one that is so assiduously undermining sanctions relief for Iran – “particularly since Lew’s larger point is that sanctions won’t work if countries don’t get the reward they were promised — in the removal of sanctions — once they accede to U.S. Demands”, in the paraphrase by Ignatius himself?

One reason for this apparent contradiction implicit in Lew’s remarks probably is China: Recall that when China’s stock markets were in freefall and hemorrhaging foreign exchange, as it sought to support the Yuan – China blamed the U.S. Fed (U.S. Reserve Bank) for its problems – and promptly was derided for making such an “outlandish” accusation.

Actually, what the Fed was then doing was stating its intent to raise interest rates (for the best of motives naturally!) – just as those, such as Goldman Sachs, have been advising. U.S. Corporate and bank profits are sliding badly, and in “times of financial depletion,” as the old adage goes, “bringing capital home becomes the priority” – and a strong dollar does exactly that.

But the Peoples’ Bank of China (PBOC) did a bit more than just whine about the Fed actions, it reacted:  It allowed the Yuan to weaken, which induced turmoil across a global financial world (already concerned about China’s economic slowing); then raised the Yuan value to squeeze out speculation, betting on further falls in the Yuan; then let it weaken again as the Fed comments started to slide in favor of interest rate hikes, and a strong dollar – until finally, as Zero Hedge has noted:

Zerohedge: And since Janet delivered, PBOC has strengthened the Yuan Fix by the most since 2005!!

Zerohedge: And since Janet delivered, PBOC has strengthened the Yuan Fix by the most since 2005!!

“It appeared the messaging from The People’s Bank Of China to The Fed was heard loud and understood. Having exercised its will to weaken the Yuan (implying turmoil is possible), Janet Yellen (Fed Chair) delivered the dovish goods [i.e. indicated that global conditions trumped the advice of the likes of Goldman Sachs to strengthen the dollar], and so China ‘allowed’ the Yuan to rally back. In a double-whammy for everyone involved, the biggest 3-day strengthening of the Yuan fix since 2005 also pushed the Yuan forwards, back to their richest relative to spot since Aug 2014 – once again showing their might against the dastardly speculative shorts.”

In short, the Ignatius’s “silver bullet” of foreign policy (the U.S. Treasury Wars against any potential competitor to U.S. political or financial hegemony) is facing a growing “hybrid” financial war, just as NATO has been complaining that it is having to adjust to “hybrid” conventional war – from the likes of Russia.

So, as the U.S. tries to expand its reach, for example by claiming legal jurisdiction over the Bank of China, and by blacklisting one of China’s largest telecom companies, thus forbidding any U.S. company from doing business with China’s ZTE, China is pushing back. It has just demonstrated convincingly that U.S. Treasury “silver bullets” can fall short.

Zerohedge: Crushing shorts as Yuan forwards collapse back to their ‘richest’ relative to spot since Aug 2014

Zerohedge: Crushing shorts as Yuan forwards collapse back to their ‘richest’ relative to spot since Aug 2014

This, we think, may have been Lew’s point — one directed, possibly, at Congress, which has become truly passionate about its new-found “neutron bomb” (as a former Treasury official described its geo-financial warfare).

In respect to Russia, this is important: Russia and America seem to be edging towards some sort of “grand bargain” over Syria (and possibly Ukraine too), which is likely to involve the Europeans lifting, in mid-2016, their sanctions imposed on Russia. But again, the U.S. is likely nonetheless to maintain its own sanctions (or even add to them, as some in the U.S. Congress are arguing).

Source of three graphs: Zero Hedge

Source of three graphs: Zero Hedge

So, if Russia, like Iran and China become disenchanted with promises of U.S. sanctions relaxation – then, as the Keyhan author noted, a suitable and appropriate (i.e. adverse) reaction, will ensue.

Boomerang Effect

What the Fed and Lew seem to have assimilated is that the U.S. and European economies are now so vulnerable and volatile that China and Russia can, as it were, whack-back at America – especially where China and Russia co-ordinate strategically. Yellen specifically signaled “weakening world growth” and “less confidence in the renormalization process” as reasons for the Fed backtrack.

Ironically, David Ignatius in his article gives the game away: Lew is not going soft, saying that the US needs to use its tools more prudently; far from it. His point is different, and Ignatius exposes it inadvertently:

“U.S. power flows from our unmatched military might, yes. But in a deeper way, it’s a product of the dominance of the U.S. economy. Anything that expands the reach of U.S. markets — such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership in trade, for example — adds to the arsenal of U.S. power. Conversely, U.S. power is limited by measures that drive business away from America, or allow other nations to build a rival financial architecture that’s less encumbered by a smorgasbord of sanctions.”

This latter point precisely is what is frightening Lew and Ignatius. The tables are turning: in fact, the U.S. and Europe may be becoming more vulnerable to retaliation (e.g. Europe, with Russia’s retaliatory sanctions on European agricultural products) than China and Russia are, to unilateral Treasury or Fed warfare.

This is the new hybrid war (and not the hot air issuing from NATO). Lew and Ignatius know that a parallel “architecture” is under construction, and that Congress’ addiction to new sanctions is just speeding it into place.

So, why then is the U.S. Treasury so zealous in undermining the effectiveness of JCPOA’s agreed lifting of sanctions? Well, probably because Iran has less leverage over the global financial system than either China or Russia. But also perhaps, because “Iran sanctions” are (erroneously) viewed by U.S. leaders as the Treasury’s “jewel in its crown” of geo-financial success.

What may be missing from this hubristic interpretation, however, is the understanding that Iran’s experience will not be lost on the others, nor on the SCO when it convenes its next meetings on how to combat Western “color revolution” operations (with Iran likely joining that organization as a member, rather than an observer, this summer).

Source: Russia Insider

Brasil: Império do Caos ataca novamente

Publicado originalmente em: 26/04/2016

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Pouco depois de a moção pró-impeachment contra a presidenta Dilma Rousseff ser aprovada no Congresso do Brasil, por deputados que resolvi chamar de hienas da Guerra Híbrida, o presidente-coroado Michel “Até tu, Brutus?!” Temer, um dos articuladores do golpe, mandou um de seus senadores a Washington como garoto-de-recados especial, para dar notícias sobre o golpe em andamento. O senador em questão não cumpria missão oficial da Comissão de Relações Exteriores do Senado do Brasil.

Michel “Até tu, Brutus?!” Temer assustou-se com a reação da mídia global, a qual está vendo cada dia mais vê claramente que o golpe que ele está fazendo é o que é (golpe) – aliado de Brutus-2, presidente notoriamente corrupto da Câmara de Deputados do Brasil, Eduardo Cunha.

A missão do tal senador era lançar uma ofensiva de Propaganda/Relações Públicas para desconstruir a narrativa que insiste que golpe é golpe, e a qual, segundo Brutus-1 estaria “desmoralizando instituições brasileiras”.

Nonsense. O senador office-boy foi mandado dizer ao Departamento de Estado dos EUA que tudo por aqui está andando conforme a encomenda.

Em Washington, o senador office-boy resmungou que “explicaremos que o Brasil não é uma república de bananas”. Ora… Não era. Mas graças às hienas da Guerra Híbrida, é.

Quando se tem um homem que administra 11 contas bancárias ilegais na Suíça; cujo nome aparece listado nos Panama Papers, que já está sendo investigado pela Suprema Corte… e que, mesmo assim, continua a comandar o destino político de toda a nação, sim, sim, aí está uma república de bananas.

Quando você tem um juiz de paróquia, provinciano, que ameaça pôr na prisão o ex-presidente Lula, por ser proprietário de um apartamento modesto onde vive e por visitar um sítio modesto de amigos, mas, ao mesmo tempo, não cuida de investigar o Brutus-2, e juiz provinciano que opera irmanado àqueles pomposos juízes da pomposa Corte Suprema paroquial provinciana… sim, aí está uma república de bananas.

Comparem agora a reação-zero de Washington, e a reação de Moscou. O Ministério de Relações Exteriores da Rússia, mediante a irrepreensível porta-voz Maria Zakharova, chamou a atenção do mundo para a parceira crucial que liga todos os países BRICS, e as posições comuns que Brasil e Rússia têm defendido juntos dentro do G20. E Moscou deixou claro que os problemas do Brasil têm de ser resolvidos “no quadro constitucional legal e sem qualquer interferência externa”.

Todo mundo sabe o que significa “interferência externa”.

Dominação de Pleno Espectro Rearmada

Estou acompanhando o golpe em andamento no Brasil, com especial atenção à Guerra Híbrida movida/apoiada pelos EUA para destruir “o projeto neodesenvolvimentista para a América Latina – que unia pelo menos parte das elites locais, investia no desenvolvimento de mercados internos, em associação com as classes trabalhadoras”. O objetivo chave da Guerra Híbrida no caso do golpe no Brasil é instalar uma restauração neoliberal.

Obviamente, o alvo chave tinha de ser o Brasil, estado membro dos BRICS e sétima maior economia do mundo.

Falcões imperiais [ver também “Preocupações com a ‘Bala de Prata’ nem tão eficaz”, in Rússia e China, 2016: Como planejam  enfrentar a guerra econômica dos EUA], já estão indo diretamente ao ponto, quando listam as armas e objetivos da Guerra Híbrida, que o Pentágono definiu em 2002 como “Doutrina da Dominação de Pleno Espectro”: “O poder dos EUA vem de nossa superior força militar, sim. Qualquer coisa que expanda o alcance dos mercados dos EUA – como a Parceria Trans-Pacífico no comércio, por exemplo – acrescenta-se ao arsenal do poder dos EUA. Mas em sentido mais profundo, o poder dos EUA é produto da dominação da economia dos EUA sobre o mundo”.

Mas fato é que a economia norte-americana já está longe de dominar o mundo. O que hoje realmente preocupa são as forças que orientam “os negócios para longe dos EUA, ou permitem que outras nações construam arquitetura financeira rival e menos vulnerável a sanções, mesmo que a uma montanha delas”.

“Arquitetura financeira rival” é perfeita tradução de “BRICS”. E nem “uma montanha de sanções” bastaram para fazer o Irã curvar-se e pedir penico ao Tio Sam; Teerã continuará a praticar uma “economia de resistência”. Não por acaso, dois dos países BRICS – Rússia e China – além do Irã, aparecem entre as cinco principais ameaças existenciais listadas pelo Pentágono, além das bombas atômicas da Coreia do Norte e, em último lugar na lista, “terrorismo“.

Guerra Fria 2.0 é essencialmente Rússia e China – mas o Brasil também é ator chave. Edward Snowden revelou como a espionagem contra o Brasil, pela Agência de Segurança Nacional centrava-se na Petrobrás, cuja tecnologia proprietária foi responsável pela maior descoberta de petróleo, ao nascer do século 21: os depósitos do pré-sal em águas do Brasil. O Big Oil norte-americano está excluído da exploração dessa riqueza.

E “Big EUA Oil excluído é anátema – e exige mobilização imediata das técnicas e táticas de Guerra Híbrida reunidas na [doutrina] de Dominação de Pleno Espectro.

As elites comprador brasileiras correram a se oferecer para jogar o jogo. Já há mais de dois anos analistas de JP Morgan oferecem seminários aos guerrilheiros da macroeconomia neoliberal, ensinando táticas e golpes para desestabilizar o governo Rousseff.

Lobbies da indústria, comércio, banking e agronegócio ostensivamente se puseram na defesa do impeachment, que representaria, na avaliação deles, o fim do experimento social-democrata dos governos Lula-Dilma.

Assim sendo, não surpreende que o presidente herdeiro coroado Michel “Até tu, Brutus?!” Temer tenha acordo tão amplo com o Big Capital – incluindo juros ilimitados sobre a dívida pública (muito acima da norma internacional); a relação entre dívida e PIB, que terá de subir; mais empréstimos caros; e o corolário, cortes na atenção pública à saúde e à educação dos brasileiros.

No que tenha a ver com Washington, não há dúvidas e é questão fechada para os Democratas e Republicanos: absolutamente não se admite que haja poder regional autônomo no Atlântico Sul abençoado por riqueza ecológica única do mundo (pensem na Floresta Amazônica, toda aquela água, que se soma ao aquífero Guarani) e, como se isso fosse pouca coisa, ainda muito intimamente conectado aos BRICS-chave, Rússia e China, que já têm sua própria parceria estratégica.

O fator pré-sal é a cereja nesse bolo tropical. Absolutamente de modo algum, não e não, o Big Oil dos EUA não permitirá que a Petrobrás tenha o monopólio para explorar aquele petróleo todo. E, sendo necessário, afinal de contas, a 4ª Frota dos EUA já está posicionada no Atlântico Sul.

Um BRICS derrubado, ainda faltam dois

A “guerra ao terô [“terror”, no sotaque de Bush] declarada pelo regime Cheney distraiu a atenção do Empire of Chaos por tempo demais. Agora, finalmente, está em andamento uma ofensiva do caos global contra os BRICs – coordenada em todo o planeta.

Do Sudoeste da Ásia ao Sul da Ásia, o sonho da Guerra Híbrida será criar alguma espécie de caos iraquiano para substituir os governos de Arábia Saudita, Irã, Paquistão e Egito – e o Império “Liderar pela Retaguarda” do Caos está fazendo o possível na Síria, onde ainda nada conseguiu, por mais que a “dinastia Assad”, ao longo de décadas, tenha sido aliada “secreta” dos EUA.

Os Masters of the Universe que controlam o cordame que move Obama, eterno office-boy deles, resolveu que seria chegada a hora de apunhalar a Casa de Saud pelas costas – o que não chega a ser, afinal, má ideia – por causa do Irã. O pensamento desejante dominante ‘ensinava’ que seria fácil pôr o gás natural iraniano na Europa, em lugar do gás natural russo, o que derrubaria a economia russa. Absolutamente não funcionou.

Mas ainda há outra possibilidade: o gás natural do Qatar, pelo gasoduto que atravessa Arábia Saudita e Síria, também poderia substituir o gás natural russo vendido à Europa. Esse é hoje o principal objetivo da CIA na Síria – o instrumento não importa: Daech, falso Califato, vale tudo, porque nada disso é coisa alguma além de propaganda.

A CIA também está gostando de ver a Arábia Saudita destruir a economia russa com aquela guerra dos preços do petróleo – e não querem que os sauditas parem; por isso mantêm secretas as tais famosas 28 páginas sobre os sauditas nos eventos de 11/9.

A CIA também andou tentando feito doida atrair Moscou para dentro de uma armadilha síria como no Afeganistão dos anos 1980s; e, como fizeram com o golpe em Kiev, a ponto de ordenar que militares turcos, sempre agentes dos EUA, derrubassem um jato Su-24 russo. “Problema” é que o Kremlin não mordeu a maçã envenenada.

Nos idos anos 1980s, o mix de Casa de Saud inundando mercados com seu petróleo, agindo com toda a gangue do petrodólar do CCG para derrubar o preço até $7 por barril em 1985, plus a operação “O Afeganistão É O Vietnã”, terminou por levar a URSS à bancarrota. Pode-se dizer que toda a ação foi brilhante – na concepção e na execução: uma Guerra Híbrida plus Vietnã. Agora, com a coisa de “liderar pela retaguarda” do Dr. Zbig “Grande Tabuleiro de Xadrez” – mentor de sua política exterior – Obama está tentando repetir o mesmo truque.

Mas epa! Temos um problema. A liderança em Pequim, já preocupada com ajustes no modelo chinês de desenvolvimento, viu claramente os esforços do Império do Caos para Dividir e Governar (e Ocupar) o mundo inteiro. Se a Rússia caísse, a China seria o alvo seguinte.

Ainda praticamente ontem, em 2010, a inteligência dos EUA via a China como sua principal ameaça militar, e pôs-se a andar na direção do Império do Meio, com o tal “pivô para a Ásia”. Mas de repente a CIA deu-se conta de que Moscou gastara um trilhão de dólares para saltar por cima de duas gerações de atraso em matéria de mísseis de defesa e de ataque – para nem falar dos submarinos – as armas de eleição para a 3ª Guerra Mundial.

E foi aí que a Rússia pulou para o trono de principal ameaça. Analisando atentamente o tabuleiro de xadrez, a liderança em Pequim imediatamente acelerou a aliança com Rússia e BRICS como força alternativa – o que gerou terremoto de proporções absolutamente devastadoras em Washington.

Agora, Pequim já fez a reengenharia dos BRICS para operarem como estrutura alternativa séria de poder – com FMI próprio, com sistema SWIFT de compensações internacionais próprio e com seu próprio Banco Mundial.

Nunca subestime a fúria de um Império do Caos enganado. Isso é o que se vê em ação contra os BRICS; Brasil sitiado, desastre na África do Sul, fragilidade na Índia, China e Rússia progressivamente cercadas. Variações de Guerra Híbrida da Ucrânia ao Brasil, pressão crescente na Ásia Central, o barril de pólvora em que foi convertido o “Siriaque”, tudo aponta para uma ofensiva coordenada do Espectro da Plena Dominação para quebrar os BRICS, a parceria estratégica Rússia-China, até quebrar as Novas Rotas da Seda que unem toda a Eurásia.

Guerras do preço do petróleo, colapso do rublo, fluxo gigante de refugiados para a União Europeia (causado pelo Sultão Erdogan “errático”), a Operação Gládio do século 21 remistura tudo, distrai as massas com inimigos imaginários, enquanto simulacros de terroristas do tipo Daesh são manipulados como sofisticadas táticas diversionistas.

Parece tão brilhante, coisa mesmo ‘de mestre’, na concepção e na execução, tão impressionantemente bem narrada, em sentido de ficção televisiva/cinematográfica. Mas que ninguém se engane: vai ter volta.*****

Fonte: Strategic Culture

Guerra Híbrida, de Palmyra ao Panamá

Os Panama Papers, dissecados até o osso, revelaram-se, como já escrevi, essencialmente, como operação de infoguerra iniciada pela Agência de Segurança Nacional dos EUA (ing. US-NSA) – que convenientemente mira contra os “inimigos” do ‘ocidente’ no sul global (como os países BRICS) e variados peões descartáveis.

Publicado originalmente em: 07/04/2016

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No estágio atual, os Panama Papers estão servindo como arma de operação de guerra psicológica (ing. psyops) apresentados como ‘vazamento ativista’, saído diretamente do manual de Guerra Híbrida.

Os incansáveis agentes ‘especialistas’ da mídia-empresa dominante estão tendo muito trabalho para apresentar o ‘vazamento’ monstro como “jornalismo responsável”, sempre sem tocar em nenhuma das graves questões que já apareceram, sobre como o tal ‘vazamento’ teria sido ‘vazado’; como teriam sido seletivamente editados 2,6 terabytes de dados, incluindo 5 milhões de emails; como foram obtidos sem encriptação; como é possível que, de toda essa massa de dados sobre a qual teriam trabalhado mais de 400 jornalistas por mais de um ano, não tenha havido nenhum ‘vazamento’ do ‘vazamento’; e sobre como a informação estaria sendo seletivamente distribuída hoje.

Guardiões do sempre citado “jornalismo responsável” andam divulgando que o material teria vindo de um mosqueteiro digital, um “tocador de corneta para alertar os cidadãos. Não necessariamente. O vazamento já disparou uma guerra de credibilidade entre WikiLeaks e os recentes ‘vazadores’ midiáticos – a ONG de Washington, mantida por fundações norte-americanas, conhecida como ICIJ.

A tese sobre a Agência de Segurança Nacional dos EUA baseia-se no fato de que essa US-NSA é especializada em invadir praticamente qualquer banco de dados e/ou arquivo em qualquer ponto do mundo, para roubar “segredos” e, na sequência, usar os dados assim obtidos para seletivamente destruir/chantagear/proteger quadros seus e/ou “inimigos”, conforme mandem os interesses do governo dos EUA. Acrescente-se a isso o que Ramon Fonseca, sócio fundador de Mossack Fonseca, tem dito: “Já descartamos a possibilidade de trabalho interno. Fomos assaltados e roubados por hackers.”

Resposta a “ameaças estratégicas”

Os Panama Papers funcionam tanto como ataque de precisão quanto como uma “mensagem” para muitos atores: eles que se mantenham em formação, porque, se não, pagarão caro; afinal, o vazamento/hackeamento revela uma rede de conexões entre várias dúzias de empresas, indivíduos e políticos em todo o Sul Global que têm aparecido como superestrelas/astros, ou aspirantes ao posto, das listas negras das sanções impostas pelos EUA.

O foco obsessivo da mídia-empresa dominante – que só tem olhos para os inimigos e/ou “ameaças estratégicas” do ponto de vista do Excepcionalistão – também gera muitas suspeitas. Em “Forças poderosas por trás dos Panama Papers” lê-se o que o sempre alerta governo em Pequim tem a dizer sobre o assunto.

Os Panama Papers também surgem em momento perfeitamente adequado para encaixarem-se numa massiva ofensiva comercial dos norte-americanos. Podem-se ler os tais vazamentos como uma espécie de lembrete do violento poder da ’empresa’ TPP-TTIP: se você não se une ao nosso movimento a favor de um único comércio mundial controlado pelos EUA, jogamos merda sobre você

Claro que é saudável poder dar pelo menos uma olhadela nas imundas entranhas do capitalismo de cassino super-turbinado, também conhecido como “sistema financeiro global”, onde grandes bancos e um exército de tubarões das finanças permitem que empresas ‘secretas’ estacionem ilegalmente o dinheiro que recebem da/para a corrupção.

Paralelamente, também é esclarecedor observar como todas as transações de dinheiro eletrônico são agora completamente rastreáveis. Os Panama Papers estão vindo à tona apenas alguns meses antes que um obscuro tratado global de compartilhamento de informação seja implementado. Se os tubarões financeiros globais conseguirão burlar o acordo é questão ainda em aberto. O detalhe crucialmente importante é que o Panamá não é signatário daquele tratado.

Do lado crucialmente decisivo dos tubarões financeiros, mais de metade das empresas listadas no vazamento/hackeamento massivo são registradas no Reino Unido – ou em “dependências da Coroa”. Podem degustar o doce aroma da vingança: a mídia-empresa norte-americana vinga-se, ao delatar expor ao mundo o que, de fato, é praticamente todo o Império Britânico da Evasão de Impostos.

Não há quem não saiba que a City de Londres opera amplamente como uma gangue de lavagem de dinheiro de categoria mundial. Mas podem esquecer, porque os guardiões do “jornalismo responsável” britânico jamais ‘investigarão’ coisa alguma relacionada ao ‘fenômeno’. Muito mais fácil e popular é ‘noticiar’ que Putin é culpado por associação, em vez de investigar para saber como aconteceu de o pai de David Cameron, ter preferido guardar a fortuna da família (a herança que o primeiro-ministro um dia receberá) bem longe do coletor de impostos.

Ou como o presidente daquela entidade falhada amiga da OTAN, Petro Poroshenko, enfia sua fortuna, não na Ucrânia sem leis e ingovernável, mas nas “protegidas” Ilhas Virgem. E esqueçam, porque absolutamente ninguém investigará o ex-chefe de gabinete do ex-primeiro-ministro de Israel Ariel Sharon, Dov Weisglass, cujo nome, como o do pai de Cameron e de Poroshenko, realmente aparece citado nos Panama Papers.

O mais importante: que ninguém espere por Cayman Papers ou quaisquer Virgin Island Papers – os papers realmente quentes –, tão cedo. A elite real jamais deixará que aconteça.

Panamá ‘editado’

E depois tem o ângulo do Excepcionalistão. Até Bloomberg, há três meses, já denunciou formalmente à opinião pública que o maior paraíso fiscal do mundo é hoje os EUA – completado com Rothschild-in-Reno, notório provedor de serviços de paraíso fiscal. Diferente do Panamá, o que acontece em Reno fica em Reno – e não estamos falando de noitadas selvagens de lap-dancing, nas profundas do deserto de Nevada.

Acrescente aí uma sumarenta fonte com conexões no estado ‘profundo’ a falar de “só 441 norte-americanos” (todos ainda misteriosos), cujos nomes estariam no vazamento/hackeamento: “O escritório em Nevada de Mossack Fonseca recebeu informação prévia, da Agência de Segurança Nacional dos EUA, no sentido de que alertasse o Panamá para que apagasse todos os registros em Nevada. A Agência de Segurança Nacional dos

EUA é mecanismo de controle político. Nada tem a ver com terrorismo, e nem saberia onde olhar, a menos que fosse orientada por insiders estilo “Operação Gladio”.

A guerra que o governo dos EUA faz contra os paraísos fiscais também é, é claro, seletiva. A Suíça tem sido alvo preferencial. Agora, o Panamá. Considerada a tese da Agência de Segurança Nacional dos EUA, é absolutamente claro que bilionários norte-americanos e empresas norte-americanas chaves foram, todos e todas, ‘apagadas(os)’ do ‘vazamento/hackeamento’.

O padrão ouro para que os Panama Papers não se tornem descartáveis como vazamento ‘seletivo’ plus ‘Operação psicológica’ de guerra híbrida, seria, por exemplo, se HSBC, Coutts (subsidiária de RBS) e UBS – e profundamente conectada com Mossack Fonseca — forem investigados a fundo. Se Vitol, corretor de petróleo, ligado ao governante do Azerbaijão Ilham Aliyev e cujo nome aparece nos Panama Papers, vier a ser investigado. Se as imundas conexões entre o Big Oil e o Big Banking ocidental forem expostas.

Mas é claro que todos os comerciantes de armas, barões da droga, oligarcas corruptos e conhecidos sonegadores de impostos continuam a colher recompensas dos próprios crimes, sem que nada e ninguém os perturbe – desde que saibam jogar o jogo do cassino capitalista super turbinado.

Por que agora?

Os Panama Papers tem muito a ver com timing. Por que agora? Afinal essa montanha de informações passou por escrutínio, sob sigilo total, durante mais de um ano.

Os Panama Papers encaixam-se perfeitamente na Guerra Híbrida. Assim como a operação Car Wash no Brasil – que é desdobramento da espionagem da Agência de Segurança Nacional dos EUA, contra a Petrobras –, os Panama Papers podem ser vistos como lava-caminhões-monstros, mirada contra o sul global em geral, e contra os BRICS em particular. 

Não por acaso, imediatamente depois de os vazamentos/hackeamentos terem aparecido, o El Supremo do Pentágono Ash Carter, falando no Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) em Washington– vizinho do ICIJ– insistiu mais uma vez que o Pentágono precisava ser mais “ágil” na luta contra os cinco desafios estratégicos dos EUA, que ele listou na seguinte ordem: “Rússia, China, Coreia do Norte, Irã e terrorismo.”

Observem a predominância, em matéria de ameaça, de Rússia, China e Irã – nodos chaves da integração da Eurásia, e todos pesadamente ‘apontados’ nos Panama Papers, sobretudo culpados ‘por associação’.   

O timing da distribuição do vazamento/hackeamento com certeza tem a ver com Palmyra. A recente libertação de Palmyra – que por 3 mil anos é a porta do Sudoeste Asiático para quem venha do ocidente e porta rumo ao Mediterrâneo para quem venha do oriente – foi plano geoestratégico tão brilhantemente concebido e executado, que deixou boquiabertos muitos no Pentágono.

O Daech havia convertido Palmyra numa base chave para ataque total contra Damasco – controlando a única estrada que leva à capital síria.

Assim sendo, só uma contraofensiva meticulosamente coordenada – mais de 20 mil homens, do Exército Árabe Sírio (EAS) a milícias locais, forças especiais do Hezbollah, pasdaran iranianos (inclusive muitos afegãos treinados pelo Irã) e os Spetsnaz russos – conseguiria arrancar de lá os terroristas.

Generais sírios disseram claramente que a Europa (“invadida” por refugiados “libertados” pelo sultão Erdogan da Turquia) sempre preferiu apoiar uns tais “rebeldes moderados” inexistentes – ficção gerada em Washington –, armados pela Turquia e Arábia Saudita. Agora, os europeus têm de encarar o revide, em solo europeu. 

O Exército Árabe Sírio, entrementes, defendeu Damasco; uma Síria unificada e secular e – como os generais sírios destacam com justo orgulho – defendeu também a própria Europa. O trabalho deles não parará em Palmyra. Os objetivos seguintes, para os próximos meses, são Deir ez-Zour, e depois o assalto final a Raqqa, ‘capital’ do falso ‘Califato’.

Assim sendo, que papel teria cabido ao Excepcionalistão – terra da “guerra ao terô” [orig. “war on terra”: era o modo, transliterado, como Bush pronunciava “war on terror” (NTs)] – nessa missão épica?

Nenhum. Nada. Não é acaso que o terrorismo apareça no último lugar na lista de “ameaças estratégicas” do Pentágono. É mais como a ficção que revela a realidade, como na última cena da temporada em curso de House of Cards: “Nós fazemos o terror”.

No caso do Daech, Washington realmente “fez o terror”, no sentido que fez acontecer o terror; o florescimento do falso ‘Califato’ foi decisão premeditada do governo dos EUA. E agora a Rússia fez voar pelos ares – aos olhos do mundo – o autorretrato narcísico do governo dos EUA no qual se traveste como indiscutível campeão da “guerra ao terror”.

Ai! Essa doeu. E em seguida vem a hoje já famosa visita do secretário de estado dos EUA John Kerry a Moscou, há duas semanas, para falar com o presidente Putin.

Pode ter sido parte de uma “grande barganha” na Síria (não, não, nada vazou do que os dois realmente discutiram). E pode ter sido uma retirada tática, com Kerry já tendo reconhecido que a Rússia “venceu” na Síria, mas a OTAN – como o Pentágono – manterá a pressão nas fronteiras ocidentais da Rússia. E a Guerra Híbrida recomeçou quase imediatamente depois, com os Panama Papers.

Nós reinamos sobre mundo uno monolítico

Um “Califato” falso jamais será ameaça estratégica ao Excepcionalistão; mas a integração da Eurásia, sim, é, com certeza.

Não surpreende que o governo dos EUA em Washington esteja alarmado. A Síria já provocou dois desenvolvimentos chaves:

1) a coordenação de alto nível entre Moscou, Damasco, Teerã e Bagdá – mediante o centro de informação unificada de Bagdá –, é já uma antecâmara de como a Organização de Cooperação de Xangai (OCX) [ing. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)] pode, no futuro, intervir em qualquer ponto de conflito, como antípoda perfeito da OTAN: trabalhando para erradicar o caos, em vez de o fomentar com o dito “imperialismo humanitário”; e

2) é também uma antecâmara, em termos de cooperação entre estados, de como as Novas Rotas da Seda podem avançar pela Eurásia, integrando cada vez mais China e Rússia com o centro e o sudoeste da Ásia.

Quanto ao governo dos EUA em Washington, as prioridades não mudam. Em primeiro lugar, impedir Rússia e a União Europeia de estabelecerem qualquer parceria bilateral, estratégica/comercial/de negócios que aprofunde a integração da Eurásia.

A Guerra Híbrida mais hardcore na Ucrânia continua a ser o meio mais garantido de impedir que qualquer tipo de integração consiga avançar, assim como a OTAN a distribuir suas ‘patrulhas’ a partir das bases implantadas em estados vassalos da Europa Ocidental.

O objetivo chave geral é impedir a integração da Eurásia, por todos os meios. Quanto a Wall Street, o que importa é construir um fluxo mundial unitário, de mundo uno, de capital norte-americano, que beneficie o sistema de capitalismo de cassino superturbinado controlado pelos EUA – e não a Eurásia. Comparado ao Grande Quadro, o Panamá pode eventualmente deixar uns poucos mortos de beira de estrada. Não bastarão. Preparem-se para o grande arrasto. Para os insaciáveis devoradores de gasolina, caminhões-monstro da Guerra Híbrida, a estrada avança.

Fonte: The Sputnik News

Why Did Russia’s Pivot to Asia Fail?

Publicado originalmente em 24 de abril de 2016.

On the surface, the concept of a Russian pivot to Asia made sense, particularly greater cooperation between Moscow and Beijing. But, as a pair of fellows from the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin and a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center made clear in separate articles published this month, Russia’s Asia pivot has failed so far to bring benefits to Moscow.

Two years after the Kremlin’s rift with the West, Moscow’s hopes that a new business relationship with Asia would make up for Russia’s losses have not materialized,” Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Moscow Center begins his analysis of Russia’s pivot to “nowhere.”

Thomas S. Eder and Mikko Huotari began their recent Foreign Affairs article by remarking, “Ever since Europe imposed sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has held high hopes of countering them by strengthening its alliance with China on energy, defense, and agricultural trade and investments.”

What’s at the core of this failure? One place to look is at the motivation for increasing cooperation in both Moscow and Beijing. Russia’s deteriorating relations (and trade) with Europe precipitated a search elsewhere for partners. For this reason, the $400 billion gas deal signed in May 2014 drew headlines. But the devil, as always, was in the details: Russia would be getting less money per cubic meter of gas than when it sold to western Europe and in the past two years the construction dates have been pushed further into the future.

Russia needs China, but China has options.

Gabuev makes this case in reference to Russia’s seeming inability to work with Asian financial institutions, citing Russia’s only big success with Chinese banks as a $2 billion loan to Gazprom. Beyond that, little was forthcoming:

The reasons are obvious. It turns out that even the Big Four Chinese banks have been complying with Western sanctions, although Beijing officially condemns the sanctions. Given the choice between the opportunity to increase their presence in Russia’s high-risk market (previously small and now even more shriveled with GDP in constant decline) and the potential to strengthen their positions in the huge and stable markets of the United States and the EU, Chinese banks are opting for the latter. A “strategic partnership” does not rule out financial judiciousness.

In the energy realm, Eder and Huotari point to the fact that Russia is but one of many hydrocarbon suppliers for China, “including Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Turkmenistan, and perhaps, soon, Iran—that are helping China diversify its energy sources…”

And in some cases, like that of Turkmenistan, Russia’s losses have been China’s gains. Over the past few years, trade of Turkmen gas to Russia (for resale to Europe) has dried up. In January, Gazprom announced it would stop buying from Turkmenistan altogether after the trade had already plummeted from a high of 40 billion cubic meters of gas in 2008 to 4 bcm in 2015. Meanwhile, Turkmenistan shifted exports to China. In the first three months of 2016 alone, Turkmenistan supplied China with 10.6 bcm of gas–a 33 percent increase over the same period in 2015. The Central Asia-China pipeline already has three operational lines and a fourth is under construction which will increase capacity to 85 bcm per year.

In essence,” Eder and Huotari write, “rather than playing Europe by engaging with China, Russia is getting played by China.”

For sake of argument, consider how Russia’s Asia pivot has differed from the United States’ pivot (excuse me, rebalance) to Asia. As Shannon Tiezzi and I argued in a recent article for FiveThirtyEight, one of core aspects of the U.S. pivot was simply showing up in Asia. Much of the United States’ increased involvement in the region focused on participating in multilateral forums which many Asian powers prioritize as venues to build consensus and conduct diplomacy. At the same time, bilateral interactions with China have also received increased attention.

Russia’s Asia pivot has focused primarily in China, to the exclusion of other powers. Gabuev comments that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to skip last year’s East Asia Summit and the APEC summit was a “blunder”:

Putin is famous for disliking multilateral events and only attending them for the sake of one-on-one meetings. But Putin’s snub of APEC, where symbolic gestures are fundamental to policy and international relations, was interpreted to mean only one thing: Russia was not pivoting to Asia, it was pivoting to becoming China’s junior partner.

In the end, Russia’s pivot to Asia will continue to underperform as long as the Russian economy is withered and its relations with Europe tense. That said, the two share a number of strategic interests and the failure of this pivot doesn’t necessarily undermine the political sympathy Beijing has for Moscow.

Fonte: The Diplomat

An Interview with Russian Economist Vasily Koltashov

Publicado originalmente em 12 de abril de 2016.

The following is an interview with Russian economist Vasily Koltashov, by Ulrich Heyden, published in Telepolis (Germany) on March 31, 2016, translated to English for CounterPunch

The ‘Moscow Economic Forum 2016’ took place on March 23, 24. There, much criticism of the economic policies of the Russian government was voiced. Greater support of Russian industry through easier access to loans was advocated. The following interview was conducted by German journalist Ulrich Heyden with Russian economist Vasily Koltashov shortly after the forum took place. For a report on the Moscow Economic Forum, see Ulrich Heyden’s article in CounterPunch on April 8, 2016.

Vasily Koltashov is the head of the economic research department at the Moscow-based Institute of Globalization and Social Movements. He says Western economic sanctions and the resulting economic turmoil has the Russian people restless. And there are increasing tensions within the Russian elite, torn between reconciliation with the West or an independent course for the country.

Ulrich Heyden: How to explain the sharpness of the criticisms of the Russian government that were voiced at the Moscow Economic Forum?

Vasily Koltashov: There are two opposing camps in Russia. The so-called liberal camp has the support of the EU and the United States and, temporarily, of the main reigns of power in Russia. But there is also a patriotic opposition which hates the liberal opposition. And the liberal opposition hates the patriotic opposition.

What do you mean by “patriotic opposition”?

The patriotic opposition is a new phenomenon in Russia. It arose after 2008, mainly due to the global financial crisis. The main criticism of the patriotic opposition relates to social and economic issues and not issues of elections, human rights or foreign policy.

The patriotic opposition arose because of the crisis that arose over the commodity exports Russian capitalism.

Can one say that the Economic Forum was a national gathering of liberals, conservatives and the left-wing people?

There were practically no liberals at the meeting.

The Moscow Economic Forum has met every year since 2013. Was there anything new this year?

The Economic Forum is in a crisis. It has an important role, but it is not developing. Year after year, the same statements are made.

What is missing?

A concrete plan on how the country can be led out of the crisis is needed. That plan must take into account the needs and concerns of the population. People are increasingly faced with hardship. Standards of living are falling. Real, monthly wages in the regions have fallen in the past year and a half, from an average of 20,000 rubles to 15,000 (197 euros, U.H.). But in Moscow, you can still hear of salaries amounting to 20,000 rubles (263 euros, U.H.).

The people are very concerned. They want an economic policy that increases their standard of living and protects them from unemployment and the loss of value of their money. But at the Moscow Economic Forum, one hears of measures to support industry, cheap loans for industry and more efforts to re-industrialize Russia. Many Russians would not understand how such measures could save them from the consequences of the present turmoil.

Was the conflict in Novorossiya (eastern Ukraine) an issue?

There was, understandably, discussion at the Forum on the situation in Novorossiya, the uprising in eastern Ukraine. Russian and EU’s elites implement common neoliberal policies. At the same time, they are in conflict with each other over events in Ukraine. The peoples need a different policy, a non-neoliberal Eurasian integration. Neither Russian nor European elites are capable of implementing it.

The quite popular economic adviser to Vladimir Putin, Sergei Glasew, spoke at the Economic Forum in favour of increases in the money supply.

Glasew is popular, but it he has rather peculiar views. He says, for example, the ruble is undervalued. He is wrong. The ruble is overvalued, because the single national market has been destroyed. If the price of oil continues to fall, the ruble’s exchange rate will also continue to decline. The central bank keeps the ruble on a strong footing in relation to the poor economy.

Glasew thinks an increase in the money supply will have no negative impact because the ruble is undervalued. I believe, that when the increase in money supply is not accompanied by an increase in demand for Russian goods, this will lead to increased inflation.

What economic policies do the liberals and patriots stand for in Russia?

The members of the Moscow middle class and government functionaries think and hope that Russia will get along with the West. Then the economy will develop well. This is the message in liberal media. The patriotic media cannot convince the people, that the economic situation would be improved by supporting the industrialists with greater state support.

What do you suggest?

Our Institute of Globalization and Social Movements has presented a concrete plan. We propose a state program providing for the construction of housing for the citizens at affordable mortgage loans of one to three per cent. This housing program is to be carried out with Russian materials, Russian construction and Russian workers. We propose to build new roads and railways and to renew public transport.

How will this be financed?

Firstly, Russia has substantial financial reserves. Secondly, the money supply could be increased. Our proposed construction program will trigger economic growth. The money that is generated will find its way into state coffers.

You have just criticized Putin’s economic adviser Glasew for his plan to increase the money supply.

We are for increasing the money supply only as a first impetus for growth. We do not want to give away money to the industrialists. We know they would like to have cheap loans. But cheap loans in today’s conditions would only lead to an increase in inflation, because there is already turmoil at the highest level. Even a reduction in the central interest rate will lead to the growth of inflation.

At the business forum there were disaster scenarios. One got the impression that the economy will collapse soon if there is no support of Russian industry. Are these exaggerations?

I believe that the economy may collapse one way or the other. Industry in Russia is really rather poorly developed. Production is declining. There are occasional redundancies. Part-time working hours have been introduced. Wages have often been cut. Unemployment is not particularly high, at six per cent. But the reason for low unemployment is the very low wages.

Were there concrete, positive results at the Economic Forum?

A positive result was a clear commitment to a protectionist policy. This means that Russia must withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). In my opinion, more steps are required to strengthen the Eurasian Economic Union before it could aspire to be an alternative to the European Union. But the Eurasian Union [which is planned as the next step of integration after the existing Eurasian Economic Community, U.H.] cannot develop according to the EU model, which is a hierarchy headed by Germany and including prominent roles for France (and perhaps Italy). Then there are Poland, Romania and Hungary, countries of third and fourth rank. For them, the EU has more disadvantages than advantages.

The members of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Customs Union (Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, U.H.) currently have no concrete benefits from economic integration.

The Eurasian Economic Union and the Eurasian Customs Union were formed according to terms of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Admission of Russia into the WTO makes the Eurasian Economic Union pointless. The Eurasian Union only makes sense as an organization if it is competing for influence against the EU because the EU is pursuing an active policy of expansion towards the east. In 2013-14, the EU won over official Ukraine. Russia has absorbed Crimea but shied away from anything similar for Donbass. It is still unclear who is pulling Belarus into whose sphere of influence. For the West, Putin’s replacement by someone carrying out orders from the outside is on the agenda.

‘A turn is almost in the air’

There would be no hierarchy of power in the Eurasian Union?

In the Eurasian Union will function according to a different form of integration. No integration can succeed based on a free market and free foreign trade. A common, protected market supporting domestic demand is needed. Such a project would be an alternative to the EU and would entice some states to leave the latter. That’s how the Eurasian Economic Union, called a “dangerous project” in Brussels when it was formed, could actually become so.

Is it possible that the Russian leadership could eventually turn into true Keynesians and encourage the state to target housing and road-building projects?

In 2017, the economic situation will become so bad that a turn will be in the air. Attempts by the Russian government to find accommodation with the West would push Russia towards forming a neoliberal government, which would very quickly become totally unpopular. Health and education services would be completely destroyed; customs duties would be lowered and the state would sell blocks of its assets. This policy would intensify the contradictions in society because the people are demanding that we take into account their interests.

The patriotic camp will benefit from this development?

Russian society is divided into two parts–the Belyje lenti (people who wear white ribbons), representing liberal positions, and the people wearing the orange and black St. George ribbon, who hold patriotic and protectionist attitudes and long for a post-Soviet integration.

These are two very strong movements. However, the Belyje lentimovement is primarily a Moscow movement and the number of its supporters is limited. The patriotic forces have more than 90 per cent of the population behind it. The only way to prevent the patriotic forces from coming to power are policies creating economic growth, meaning that Russia would return to the situation that existed in 2008. But this is not possible.

Because oil prices are so low…?

And there will be no increase in oil prices in the foreseeable future The turmoil in Russia is already quite deep and neoliberal recipes will do nothing to get the country out of that. They would only start a second wave of crisis. This year, there will be a severe economic slump in China, a recession in the United States and possibly a recession in the euro zone. That means there will be many events pushing down the price of oil and metals and thus worsening the situation of the Russian economy. In my estimation, this development will increase support for the patriotic camp.

Is it possible that the ‘United Russia’ party would not get an absolute majority in the Duma elections to take place on September 18?

This party is not popular. The chairman of United Russia is Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. His government has failed. He is synonymous with the beginning of the economic turmoil. He succeeded Prime Minister Putin in 2012 at a time of economic growth and now the economy is in its current, pathetic state. It may well be that the members and deputies stage an internal uprising and an ‘insurgent’ Parliament is elected. Many deputies of United Russia do not agree with the neoliberal course. With a neoliberal program, they could not look the voters in the eye.

So can we expect to see surprises?

I had a conversation in a Russian region with a journalist. I asked him, how it is possible that your newspaper criticizes Putin so firmly? He answered, “Who is your Putin? He is far away; perhaps he does not exist. It’s the regional governor who has the power.” That’s the political authority he is wary of. In contrast to the situation in Moscow, local authorities can defy the central power at critical moments and organize rallies of dissatisfied citizens.

How stable is the position of Vladimir Putin?

A considerable portion of the ruling elite wants to come to an agreement with the West and remove Putin from office. The people who are working with Putin and are hit by the sanctions do not want this. There are serious conflicts in the Russian elite that are not public but which can affect the Duma elections to take place on September 18. Much is still unclear. Will Putin lead a party contesting the Duma elections? What will be the role of the Popular Front founded by Putin in 2011?

Ulrich Heyden is a German journalist and author. Since 1992, he has been a freelance correspondent in Moscow for German media, including for Telepolis. He is a co-producer of the 45-minute documentary film (sub-titled in English) ‘Wildfire: The Odessa atrocities of May 2, 2014’, released in February 2015. The film documents the arson attack on the Trade Union House in Odessa which left 42 people dead on that day. In May 2015, Ulrich Heyden’s new book was published (in German, titled ‘War of the oligarchs: The tug of war over Ukraine’, published by PapyRossa). He can be reached at heyden@list.ru. His website is http://www.ulrich-heyden.de.

Fonte: Counter Punch