Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora.
Q: THE US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PASSED A BILL AIMED AT PRESSURING CHINA OVER ITS CRACKDOWN OF UIGHUR MUSLIMS IN XINJIANG. DO YOU SEE THIS AS A REACTION TO CHINA BECOMING THE SECOND BIGGEST NON-DEMOCRATIC ECONOMY IN THE WORLD?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
The reasons for this red herring propaganda on the part of the Western press are complex and go back to the start of free trade with China, ie, the granting of Most Favoured Nation status to China by the US Congress in the 80s. The pols pushing this used the absurd propaganda point that, supposedly, this new trade arrangement with China would open up “the biggest market in the world” to US products.
I doubt anyone was stupid enough to believe that the resulting trade balance would favour the US. However, some of the politicians at that time mentioned that this would help drive a wedge between China and Russia, and I think this was in fact the real reason for the new China trade policy. Policy makers dreamed of dragging China into the Western sphere of influence by making the country rich and hence "capitalist."
However, as NATO and the US kept up their anti-Russian and anti-China rhetoric unabated after the fall of the Soviet Union, the two nations started to understand that they were both threatened by the West and gradually, they put aside differences and built up a partnership, with cooperation in all spheres, both economic and military (witness the recent opening of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline to China). It took Washington decades to figure out that no wedge could ever be driven between the two countries. It was a profoundly and blindly foolish dream all along and now that Washington (both political parties) has finally woken up, it is making every effort to undo its mistake — up to and including a trade war that threatens the entire global economy. Politics and ideology are more important to these psychopaths than the well-being of the planet. The US is threatening war – both economic and military – with two nations that it cannot defeat, all to defend an ideology with no merit or relation to the real world.
Though Washington won't admit it, it is way too late to reverse the ill effects of the 1980s miscalculation. It is like killing your adult child as a form of birth control.
The following is our translation of an article from RIA Novosti, with comments and notes [in brackets] by Vince Dhimos. This article was chosen especially for those badly informed Westerners who were infected by the euphoria over the US’s instigation and promotion of what was in fact a violent illegal overthrow of the legitimately and democratically elected Ukraine government in 2014, a time when colour revolutions and Arab Spring-like movements (of the kind that sparked the near-takeover of Syria by terrorists) were all the rage. Though this blessed event occurred under Obama, both sides of the aisle were equally enthralled by the prospect of Russia losing a trade partner. After all, if the US can make Russia a little poorer, then the US automatically becomes richer – so goes the twisted Washington reasoning of the people who gave the US an unpayable debt, staving off disaster by printing more unbacked dollars to pay for incessant wars that the US just never seems to win.
This article is mostly about the IMF, a US-controlled money-lending organization that has a slew of rules for its clients (victims) designed to keep the client indebted forever and impoverish its people while enriching wealthy Western corporations with sly schemes such as privatization of public services that by rights ought to be controlled by the officials elected by citizens to protect their interests and not by a foreign corporation with a keen eye for shareholder profits sucked out of the client country.
But the author also details the utter folly of former Ukrainian president Piotr Poroshenko’s anti-Russian policy of refusing to purchase natural gas directly from Russia.
...by refusing direct gas supplies from Russia, Ukraine continued to purchase our [Russian] fuel, but at exorbitant prices through European traders.
The author later mentions that the price of the gas to Ukrainian consumers rose to three times the price that they would have paid had they purchased directly fom Russia. And this is the most important result of the US-backed Maidan rioting that the US media hyped to you, just as it is currently hyping the Hong Kong violence that most Americans think is all China’s fault and will result in “freedom” and “democracy” but will, if it succeeds, only make Hong Kong poorer by destroying its ties to the second biggest economy in the world and bringing it under the aegis of the country that survives strictly on debt.
It finally happened: International Monetary Fund is losing customers
Dec 4, 2019
MOSCOW, Dec 4 - RIA Novosti, Alexander Lesnykh. Argentine president-elect Alberto Fernandez said he would not take the remaining 11 billion dollars from the IMF under the current loan program because "alcoholism is not treated with wine." At the beginning of November, the President of Moldova Dodon announced his intention to refuse to support the fund, and the Belarusian government limited the interaction only to technical consultations. And even the Minister of Finance of Ukraine promised to curtail cooperation with this international structure by 2023. RIA Novosti discusses why the IMF is no longer seen as a saviour of weak economies.
Tripping twice on the same rake
The new president of Argentina, Fernandez, is faced with an almost impossible task - to fix what his predecessor Mauricio Macri, who has collected loans from the IMF, has foisted on him, as a result of which the public debt has grown to $300 billion. For comparison: the country's GDP last year, according to the World Bank, amounted to 518 billion. [Actually, though, the US is in even worse shape, with a federal debt of $23 trillion, more than US GDP].
As a first step towards saving the national economy, Fernandez plans to abandon further IMF loans so as not to drive the country even deeper into debt bondage. “I need to solve a huge problem with debts; will I really ask for another 11 billion? I want to stop asking and be paid,” he said on Con Vos.
Argentina's financial difficulties sharply escalated in 2015, when President Macri, having come to power, tried to get out of the economic crisis with the help of "neoliberal reforms": create a free market, privatize enterprises and reduce the role of the state in the economy [these are all demands of the IMF on its clients]. Unable to cope with this on his own, he asked the IMF for $57 billion.
He was undeterred by the fact that Argentina had already suffered at the hands of the IMF at the end of the last century. In the 1990s, Minister of Economy Domingo Cavallo launched a liberal reform progra, during which, in particular, exempted foreign investors from taxes.
Foreign businessmen rushed to Argentina, and the IMF issued loans to pay for old debts. But after neighbouring Brazil devalued its currency, investors chose to move there, leaving Argentina with nothing. The IMF said that saving the country could not be saved from default, and they refused the next tranche.
The IMF grants loans only in conjunction with recommendations for the restructuring of the economy of the debtor, which he is obliged to strictly follow [So they are not recommendations, they are orders from the boss man in Washington]. This was the main economic mistake by Macri.
Instead of helping national businesses and creating new jobs (as was the case in South Korea), the Argentine government pushed the Central Bank's key rate to 60 percent, depriving entrepreneurs of funding. At the same time, on the advice of the fund, social spending was cut, leading to a 15-fold increase in the cost of utility bills.
It all ended in a social disaster. The demographic situation has sharply worsened: the birth rate has fallen, but immigration has grown like an avalanche [thought the author does not mention this, IMF does recommend more immigration]. Moreover, due to a reduction in budgetary support for medicine, the country has experienced the largest measles outbreak since the turn of the century.
"61 cases of measles infection have already been officially registered because the government has morally reduced to refusing to vaccinate the population. All this is the result of following the plan of the International Monetary Fund at all costs. [my highlighting] We urgently need to rectify the situation," President Fernandez tweeted.
Economists knowingly compare Mauricio Macri with Petro Poroshenko. The ex-president of Ukraine went the same way.
The political commitment of some of Kiev’s economic decisions added fuel to the fire: by refusing direct gas supplies from Russia, Ukraine continued to purchase our [Russian] fuel, but at exorbitant prices through European traders. At the same time, the government had to release gas prices for the population at the request of the IMF.
"The IMF pointed out: the price of gas for the population should be a market price. Well then, provide salaries, a living wage, and jobs so that it meets the possibilities of market life. <...> Either we must obey the IMF or think about the interests of our people. I think the government should think about our people and proceed from their interests. Well, meanwhile the government is thinking about and fulfilling the "IMF Wish List," fumes Ukrainian parliament member Viktor Medvedchuk.
The effect of such measures would not be so devastating if Poroshenko had first ensured the rise of small and medium-sized enterprises - and, hence, the people’s income. But he simply inflated the prices for communal apartments, the purchasing power of citizens fell, and the country plunged into the abyss of the economic crisis.
Kiev understands that the results of further cooperation with the IMF will be disastrous, but so far they cannot get off this merry-go-round. At the end of November, the head of the Ministry of Finance, Oksana Markarova, said that the Ukrainian authorities intend to stop working with the fund in 2023, so that "we don’t have to wonder when we’ll receive a new tranche, and can provide for ourselves."
The problem is that for this purpose, Kiev plans before the end of the year to agree with the IMF on a new three-year lending program. One of the key conditions of the lender is the lifting of the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land, including to foreign investors.
At one time, Argentina also decided on a similar "land reform." As a result, foreigners bought 75 percent of the land, and almost all the local peasants were left without plots.
[Let’s see what Ukrainian rural citizens think about the IMF’s demand to allow sale of Ukrainian land to foreigners, as reported by AP News:
“If foreigners come, they will take away our only possibility to work,” Viktor Romaniuk, 52, said as he drove a combine harvesting the last of this year’s corn crop. “They will give us only a little money and crush small- and medium-sized business. I’m against the sale of land.” Let us remember: the Maidan coup was all about “freedom” and “democracy.” This is how it translated into reality.]
In Kiev, there is no doubt that it will not be possible to cope with peak payments on external debt in 2019-2020 if revenues from the transit of Russian gas fall from the budget. Therefore, the current head of the country's Ministry of Energy Alexey Orzhel in early December announced the need to change the leadership of Naftogaz [Ukrainian gas company].
[Before the US-instigated coup, Russia was allowing gas to transit through Ukraine to Europe and was paying handsome dividends for this service. Kiev not only did not pay on time for its own deliveries of gas but also illegally withheld some of the gas intended for European consumption. Consequently, Russia suspended all gas supplies to Ukraine and initiated a pipeline project – Nord Stream 2 – intended to bypass Ukraine. Ukraine sued and won in a Russophobic court but Russia did not restart the gas supply, considering Ukraine a deadbeat. Just today we read that Putin has decided to restart the gas supply to Ukraine. Gas volumes are to be prepaid. But now the work on Nord Stream 2, initially halted by Denmark, has restarted and is scheduled to start up in mid-2020, and another, southern, pipeline to Europe via Turkey, is expected to start operation at the end of 2019. This plus the just-now started pipeline to China, is a serious blow to Washington’s plan to block Russian dominance of the gas market to Europe and Asia.]
First of all, this concerns the current chairman of the board of the gas monopolist Andrei Kobolev [CEO of Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz], who failed in the tripartite negotiations on transit. Gazprom [Russian gas company] suggested that he return to direct deliveries at a 25 percent discount on the price Kiev is paying for the same gas now. But he refused. Now, President Vladimir Zelensky will have to personally discuss this issue with Vladimir Putin at the upcoming meeting in the Norman format.
Experts believe the IMF simply will not allow the dismissal of the head of Naftogaz. After all, this contradicts the plans of the fund - to ultimately ruin the country and sell it cheaply to Western investors. [The Ukrainians who conspired with the West must definitely be regretting their actions. It was a lesson for Bolivia and Hong Kong too, but God knows if they will learn from it]
WHY IS THE CHINESE MEDIA NOT REPORTING ON THE PROTESTS IN GUANGDONG (CANTON) MAINLAND CHINA? WHERE IS CGTN-CCTV AND PEOPLE’S DAILY?
This question reflects the extreme ignorance of Western news consumers, who assiduously avoid listening to the other side. Today’s Americans and many Westerners outside the US are badly brain washed into thinking that the Chinese authorities have done harm to the Hong Kongers, even though the PRC authorities have stayed completely out of the rioting and have done absolutely nothing. Only the Hong Kong authorities have gotten involved and are being extremely cautious. The police themselves are the main victimes of violence. What your media are telling you is the exact opposite of the reality on the ground in HK. Below are two videos that will set any open minded person straight.
Actually The US is behind the extremely violent and criminal tactics of rioters and Chinese media is the main source covering this. There is more coverage of actual events in Chinese media (CGTV) than in Western media. The West is the side hiding the real violent events.
Western politicians and activists openly support criminal violence in Hong Kong, even making absurd laws purporting to “protect” the Chinese people against a police brutality that exists only in their own twisted minds. So far the HK police are the main victims of the US-backed violence.
Although the videos linked below were posted on PRC media, the voices heard in both of the videos are Hong Kong authorities speaking Cantonese, the language of Hong Kong and do not represent the Beijing authorities, who speak Mandarin. The PRC authorities have not intervened at all but yet are blamed for everything, and US lawmakers are making absurd laws aimed only at harming the PRC and destroying its economy.
But to those gullible Western souls who buy all the US-manufactured lies, beware: So far, the anti-China trade wars have cost the Western stock markets over $5 trillion (according to Deutsche Bank calculations), US farmers are being bankrupted, and the US manufacturing indices have fallen to 2008 levels – the levels of the Great Recession. Instead of demonizing China, it is time to take stock of how the US is destroying its own economy and, by extension, the global economy with these senseless trade wars and the absurd demonization of China in the Western media.
You can blame it all on China if you want, but you and your pocketbook will feel the real fallout of US actions and policies.
First link above: Video of US involvement in inciting and promoting extreme criminal violence in Hong Kong:
Second link above: Video of extreme criminal violence in Hong Kong.
A note of caution: The South China Morning Post (SCMP), which masquerades as a Chinese news source, is owned and operated by a company of Rupert Murdoch and carries absurd reports claiming that the demonstrations are “peaceful.”
This is the same pattern of demonizing the non-American side while portraying the US as saviours, that we saw during the US-instigated and US-promoted lethally violent Maidan demonstrations in Kiev, Ukraine, in 2014, which converted Ukraine into a failed state with the lowest GDP in Europe! Ukraine purports to be independent but is a vassal of the US, and Hong Kong too is poised to follow Ukraine into utter failure.
Vince Dhimos answered a question at the French language sector of Quora. Redacted translation below. As usual, the question reflects the almost perfect blockage of information about Russia and East-West international relations in the Western world. Westerners are being held hostage to their media, which have them believing the strangest myths, making it impossible for them to see what is going on all around them. The anti-Russian and anti-Chinese propaganda bombarding us daily is ultimately aimed at creating dangerous friction between nuclear-armed states. Few understand how irresponsible the Western msm and political class are.
Q: WOULD IT BE A GOOD IDEA FOR RUSSIA TO JOIN THE EU?
A: It would not be a bad idea from the EU’s standpoint because it would give Europe considerable control over Russia, but Russia will never willingly join the EU because this alliance deprives its members of sovereignty.
An example of Russia's jealousy of its own sovereignty is its relationship with OPEC. The Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is a friend of Putin. His group has invited Russia to become a member of OPEC and wanted Putin to lead the group.
However, Putin has declined this offer because he wants Russia to have the freedom to make its own decisions regarding the sale of its oil. Nonetheless, Russia has agreed to join the group informally and as a result, we now speak of OPEC + 1, where 1 is Russia, and so far, Russia has gone along with the restriction on oil sales, which was demanded by the US as a way of keeping oil prices high and supporting the boondoggle of US shale oil extraction. We explained here why shale oil has little to no future. By cooperating with the US in keeping prices high, Putin is able to collect more money for Russian oil and is allowing Trump to nurture the illusion that some day shale oil will make America great. BTW, if Russia wanted to put the screws to the US in retaliation for Washington's many misdeeds – such as the open stealing of Syrian oil – it only needs to start flooding the world market with oil and bring down the oil price. This would bankrupt even more of the US shale oil companies, many of which are already in trouble or have gone under. This is perhaps the best reason why the US government needs to stop provoking Russia.
Russia's position regarding the EU is that it wants the EU to continue to exist and be strong. While Russia has never publicly explained why it takes this position, if we analyse the relations between Russia and the US and between the EU and the US, we can discern why. We see that the EU's relationship with the US is unhealthy, because the US bullies its partners by imposing sanctions on them when they diverge from its interests. In the long run, we can therefore expect Europe to distance itself more and more from the US and move closer to Russia. Indeed, Germany, France and Italy have warmed considerably to Russia in recent years. Whenever we see Europe acting against Russia’s interests, we may suspect it is doing so only or mostly because it fears retaliation by the US. If we are correct in this assumption, we can expect Europe to gradually loosen its ties to the US and strengthen ties to Russia. Europe’s SWIFT replacement INSTEX, designed to bypass US sanctions, is solid evidence of this. It is not hard to imagine what will happen once the spectre of US sanctions becomes a thing of the past.
In 2017, Putin stated at the Valdai Club that Russia wants to see a strong EU. This must have seemed very strange to Westerners who learned of it because at that moment, Russia was being blamed – wrongly – for contributing to the Brexit movement and to Marine LePen’s bid for the presidency, suggesting that he was interested in the breakdown of the EU. I too was initially perplexed by the statement but suspected it had something to do with a scheme hatched by Russia and China years earlier.
After thinking about this for weeks, I realized that Putin probably was hoping the euro could contribute to the campaign of China and Russia to de-dollarize world trade in an effort to devalue and weaken the dollar so that the US would no longer be able to use its currency to punish countries that acted against US interests – as it had done, for example, by imposing an $8.9 billion fine on BNP Paribas in 2014, and then later by sanctioning countries that were competing too successfully with the US. Thus, the Western politicians and “experts” accusing Putin of trying to sabotage the EU were dead wrong – or rather, they were acting on their desire for Europe to see Russia as an enemy.
I did some research on the currencies used the most in world trade settlements and found that, as I suspected, the euro, and not the yuan, was the currency that competed most strongly against the dollar! (NSS Report here).
This suggests that, while Putin would never consider joining the EU, he definitely wants to have good relations with that body. For example, Europe generally wants good relations with Iran, and did not want to leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Deal, which enabled the world to trade with Iran. However, Europe fears US sanctions and has not dared to trade with Iran – even though several European states developed an alternative to SWIFT (known as INSTEX), as mentioned above, that could enable them to circumvent US sanctions.
Europe knows that Russia agrees with it regarding relations with Iran and that strong ties to Russia would eventually be very beneficial in maintaining these ties if a point can be reached in the future that the US can no longer effectively fight back. It also knows that Europe basically relies on Russian energy but that the US wants to deter Europe from trading with Russia. Here again, better relations with Russia would be advantageous if the US can be held in check.
Putin recently wrote a letter to various European nations asking them to impose a moratorium on the deployment of short and medium range missiles in response to Trump’s abandonment of the INF treaty. Under pressure from the US, they all refused to comply with Putin’s request, but I suspect that one of his motives for writing the letter was to show Europe and the US how Russia could respond to the loss of the INF treaty. After Europe rebuffed the suggested moratorium, Russia warned that it was prepared to respond. Indeed, in response to Europe’s refusal, Russia conducted much publicized tests of its most advanced ICBM missile, the Topol, which was noticed by Western observers, who admitted that the West has no adequate air defences against this nuclear-capable missile. These tests became the subject of media reports throughout the West and they showed Europe that it is not wise to station US missiles in Europe because, theoretically, they could be overcome by Russian missiles and lead to devastation of the host countries. In the same time frame, China also held tests of its most fearsome ICBM, probably in coordination with Russia. If it were not for US strong arm tactics it therefore seems unlikely that any European state would host US missiles because both of these countries’ tests shook up the Western Establishment.
While Russia prefers a strong EU, it does not prefer to negotiate with the EU per se on certain issues because there are various member states that disagree with the alliance and would be willing to agree to terms more favourable to Russia than the EU itself.
For example, various countries such as Germany depend on Russia for much of their energy, while others, particularly in Eastern Europe – Poland is the salient example – have been indoctrinated by Washington to believe that buying natural gas from Russia is somehow a “security threat.” In reality, of course, the greatest threat to European security is the policy of NATO and the US to station medium range and long range missiles in Europe. In fact, I have shown at Quora [and at New Silk Strategies] that NATO itself is a major threat to Europe.
Denmark, one of the most Russophobic countries in Europe, was also a major impediment to the construction of the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. However, the country just recently gave in to the demands of other partners in the pipeline and allowed it to be laid in its territorial waters, thereby eliminating the last major obstacle to the project.
The experience with this pipeline shows that Europe is not at all united in its views and policies toward Russia.
For this reason, while Russia desires a strong EU, it prefers to deal with individual European states. Thus, while Russia’s policy toward the EU is confusing on the surface and often seems contradictory, in reality, it makes perfect sense if you understand the geopolitical chess board.
In the US, we have one political party but pretend it’s two and that they oppose each other. I explained briefly here to Americans that you the people have almost nothing to do with your government’s policies.
Trump now says he is considering banning all US investment in China. Yahoo Finance agrees it is a swell idea but admits it will hurt US investors, whose portfolios include, for example, mutual funds that invest in China. The Yahoo investment “expert” even says it is unfortunate that investment in China supports China’s security. The author doesn’t bother to explain why the security of an entire race of people sharing our planet could possibly be bad. Wouldn’t it be best if all peoples and all nations were more secure? He knows, of course, that the American public has bought into Washington’s anti-Chinese racism and its conviction that a win-lose solution is good for America. Now remember that China and Russia always publicly support win-win solutions, with opponents being brought together through dialogue in contrast to the US strategy of demonizing one side while treating the other like royalty. These Easterners reject the notion that they will be better off if, say, America becomes poorer. After all, common sense would tell anyone (Asian or Western) that if a trading partner becomes richer, then the other trading partner stands to make more money from that partner in trade deals.
Yet the entire US Establishment is convinced that if Russia and China become poor, then that automatically makes the US richer. This not only makes no sense on its face but in reality, it has led to an unsustainable debt and has led investors to avoid US Treasuries, which must now be propped up only by printing unbacked greenbacks. Deutsche Bank tells us that the Trump trade wars have cost the global stock market $5 trillion so far, while US farmers beg for an end to the wars because they are being bankrupted; US manufacturing indices have plummeted to 2008 level, and all economists tell us that trade wars are always a lose-lose policy. Only Washington thinks this is a good thing.
So what is driving this insanity? Not just Trump and not just Republicans. Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer has said that Trump has “hit the nail on the head” with his trade wars. Just as both parties are in virtually complete agreement that endless war is good for the US, they also agree that trade wars are somehow beneficial – though no one can explain how or why. And yet Trump gets little push back from his grassroots supporters and grassroots Democrats obey their “leaders” in agreeing with Trump. This is the scariest example of group think of modern times and it can only hasten the economic collapse that economists predict.
In other news, according to Al Masdar, Wikileaks has shown that the OPCW (Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weaons), supposedly an objective investigative body, is in fact nothing but a cheerleader for the Western warmongers who want Assad dead. OPCW has in fact played a decisive role in orchestrating unjustified Tomahawk attacks in Syria. New Silk Strategies has been warning of this scam for quite some time, as described in these links:
We have written here about Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, two independent journalists who dared to venture into the Syrian war zone and report honestly on the situation on the ground, interviewing ordinary Syrians, not just opposition figures, even as mainstream journos pretended it was unsafe to enter Syria and sat on their rears regurgitating stories from anti-Assad organizations located in Europe, with only opposition activists as local correspondents.
Allow me also to comment on the news, as reported, for example, in Israel Nation News and elsewhere, that UN Chief Gutierrez is now urging Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah, which Washington assures is a “terrorist organization” but which, oddly, saved Lebanon from annihilation in 2006 and fights real terrorism in Syria and Iraq. Nonetheless, Lebanon is supposed to show its ingratitude by kicking Hezbollah out of the country it saved. Really?
Now isn’t it strange that we are just now digesting news that Israel destroyed several Syrian military positions near the Damascus airport – firing missiles into an area frequented by international air passengers! – but Gutierrez, who is supposed to be looking out for the world – is now focused only on eliminating the only group that is willing and capable of countering the out-of-control IDF, and he is conspicuously refraining from admonishing Israel for its recent strikes on three of its neighbours, ie, Lebanon (which it nearly destroyed in 2006), Iraq and Syria (which it has attacked hundreds of times since the start of the armed conflict there). Also highly irregular is that Israel has for many years been justifying its strikes on Syria, Iraq and Lebanon with the claim that just before each strike, Iran had been planning to attack Israel and wipe it off the map. Why then, one wonders, is Israel still on the map? Surely just one of those multiple “planned strikes” to “utterly destroy Israel” would have succeeded, no?
But the reason the UN is hewing to the Washington story line is that the US is the world’s shadow government and the UN is subservient to it even as it issues anemic diversionary statements in defence of Arab victims of Israeli aggression. When ex Lebanon premier Rafic Hariri was assassinated in 2005, ultrawar hawk and pro-Israeli puppet John Bolton, then the US ambassador to the UN, pressured the UN’s investigatory team to name an investigator who was blindly anti-Assad and pro-Israel, and who would infallibly blame Bashar al-Assad (though Assad was the least likely to have done the murder), while calling in Israeli officials as witnesses, even though Mossad has a long history of conducting dozens of such assassinations and had a clear motive to kill Hariri. The UN admitted it couldn’t pin the blame on Bashar al-Assad but said he was the most likely to be behind the murder.
There are several reasons why Assad should not have been on the suspects list in the first place. Firstly, the slain Rafic Hariri was no longer premier and therefore had little influence in Lebanon. Secondly, Rafic had been a friend of Bashar’s father Hafez, and no self-respecting Arab Muslim would even think of harming a friend of his departed father. But Israel had a motive, namely, removing the Syrian occupying force that had been acting as a peace keeping mission for several years and was the main obstacle to Israeli aggression. Due to the murder and the phony UN investigation, Assad’s troops were forced to abandon Lebanon, leaving the country vulnerable. Sure enough, the following year Israel attacked Lebanon on a flimsy excuse. It is clear that the reason the US-led West is anti-Assad is that this democratically elected president (who is routinely called a dictator by the Western Establishment) stands in the way of Israel’s aggressive plans. Indeed, throughout the war years, Israel has been regularly attacking Syrian sites claiming they were manned by Iranians who sought Israel’s destruction, and they have just this year launched missile attacks in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. And of course, when Israel wins a war against another country, it attempts to claim land in that country. That is the thinly disguised purpose of Israel’s wars of aggression and it is why it now claims part of the Syrian Golan Heights.
What I am saying here is uncomfortable for some Evangelicals who have been indoctrinated to believe that the Israel of today is the Israel of Ezekiel’s dry bones prophecy. But if you read Ezekiel 37:24 you see that the resurrected Israel was to be “obedient to God’s decrees,” whereas a WIN/Gallup poll shows that 65% of Israelis have no religion at all.
Vince on Quora: Why doesn’t China just give the Hong Kong demonstrators what they want?
The question was asked on the German language sector of Quora. The following is my commentary about the issue raised by the questioner, followed by my translation of the question and the answer.
Quora is a good place to test the geopolitical IQ of the Western world. Like a great number of Quora questions, the one reflected in the above title is a clear indication of how Westerners think, mostly as a result of consuming news as reported by the msm and the attitudes and values of the political class, which shape our thinking because: 1 – we are inclined to accept their bias thanks to what could only be termed an intellectual deficit, and 2 – the msm are clever enough to report in ways that bend the minds of unwary news consumers toward their biased viewpoint. Now, of course, the news as reported about the Hong Kong protests was not, strictly speaking, erroneous, but it led the public to believe that the protesters are peaceful (many have been violent) victims of a regime that rules them with an iron hand. The general tenor of today’s discourse on China inclines people to think that the PRC is a brutal juggernaut that runs roughshod over a captive people chafing to be free. In fact, the Chinese people are generally content that the CP has been growing the economy steadily for decade and has been making enormous progress in lifting the poor out of poverty, in contrast to the US, where the gap between rich and poor is growing at an alarming rate and no tangible progress is being made in lowering poverty.
Even if you call this Chinese report “propaganda,” there is no denying that US politicians rarely talk about the exploding income gap and none of them have done anything meaningful to improve the lot of the poor. The closest anyone came to this was the passage of Obamacare, but this solution would have made many middle class workers poor due to the legal obligation to buy extremely expensive private health insurance designed to make Big Medicine richer at the expense of the patient. As for welfare, it does nothing to give jobs to the poor, just makes them dependant on government. Worse, under this scheme, a woman with children can generally receive payments only if there is no man living under her roof. Thus, it has the effect of making children fatherless – a significant factor in poverty.
A site that keeps tabs on income inequality reports:
“Income disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent.”
“Between 1979 and 2007, paycheck income for those in the richest 1 percent and 0.1 percent exploded. The wage and salary income for these elite groups dipped after the 2008 financial crisis but have nearly regained their pre-crisis value. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of earners have seen little change in their average income, with just a 22 percent increase from 1979 to 2017.”
Worse, wages in 3 categories, ie, men, Hispanics and blacks, actually fell significantly, as reported by the Congressional Research Service.
Thus, Western media are hardly justified in portraying China as undermining the interests of its people. Of course, clearly, the purpose of Western reporting has nothing to do with presenting a realistic picture of China. US policy since the 80s, when Congress accorded the PRC “Most Favoured Nation” status in mutual trade with the US, has been guided in large part by the principle of driving a wedge between China and Russia, on the assumption that Russia was the main enemy. Only recently has the US government awakened from its opiate slumber and realized, decades late, that China and Russia are not about to be driven apart in the foreseeable future. The policy under Trump has therefore been to slightly favour Russia over China and do everything in America’s power to undermine the Chinese economy. The trade war is aimed at this goal but the consequence has in fact been a slowdown in the entire world economy – something that economists had warned about. Thus, as it turns out, being the CEO of companies building luxury hotels and casinos does not automatically educate anyone about macroeconomics.
Why does China not simply give in to the Hong Kong demonstrators?
Warum gibt China den Hongkonger Demonstranten nicht einfach das, was sie wollen?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
The PRC gave in months ago to the demands of the demonstrators in Hong Kong. The issue that supposedly triggered the protests was the PRC's intention to introduce a perfectly sensible laws to facilitate the extradition of criminals between China and other countries. The demonstrators claimed that this law would restrict freedom - however, most western countries have such laws and no one is protesting against them. The purpose of the law was to bring Chinese suspects to court in China. A normal process in the West.
So to appease the protesters, the PRC relented and scrapped this law project very early on to end the damage done by the protesters.
The demonstrators, however, continued the protests, proving that the reason for the protests was a false pretext and tending to confirm the suspicions of critics that the US was just staging another “colour revolution.”
This scenario has been repeating itself around the world for many years and each time, it turns out that the US government and/or US NGOs are behind it. US officials and the media have admitted that they want to wrest Hong Kong from Chinese control, so there is little left to guesswork.
The anti-China atmosphere in Washington will be clear to all who have seen the desperate efforts of the current administration to sabotage the Chinese economy with their trade war and negative statements, for example, about Huawei. While it is true that Chinese companies, like those of other countries, including the US, have been found guilty of infringing on patents, these companies are normally made to fairly compensate the offended party for the rights they had improperly utilized. Normally, a lawsuit is the process by which such issues are resolved, and once the infringer has paid for the improper use, both parties are satisfied. Since this legal procedure exists and works well, it is very rare – and unnecessary – for the country to which an offended company belongs to get involved. In fact, this kind of unusual “solution,” with a Huawei official being arrested and detained, was employed by the administration as a political ploy to gain votes and also to stir up resentment against China. The politicians and msm involved succeeded only because of an intellectual deficit on the part of the grassroots. You can hardly refer to a country with a gullible populace that is routinely manipulated by its government and media as a “democracy.” Yet that is what .
The US support for the Hong Kong protests is just a continuation of this attempt to foment resentment against China and the government’s underlying motive is to obtain an unfair trade advantage in hopes that the US economy will somehow benefit from dragging down China. There is absolutely no reason to expect that this would work any better than a shopkeeper’s throwing a rock through the window of a competing shop down the street, but politicians aren’t paid to think or actually to solve problems, just to say the words that garner votes. Both political parties are in on the scheme, literally killing fair competition in ways that ultimately harm the global economy (Deutsche Bank has said that the trade wars have cost the world stock market $5 trillion so far, and US manufacturing statistics are now as low as they were at the time of the 2008 economic crisis).
However, the more people become aware of the malicious attacks on free competition – the bedrock of the capitalist system – and US interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries, and the more easily the public recognizes the familiar patterns of instigation and promotion of coups by the US, the more likely the public is to cry foul and eventually pressure the government and its compliant NGOs to stop fomenting these violent, deadly and unreasonable protests. Bolivia is the latest bloody example of US-sponsored coups, with foreign secretary Mike Pompeo openly supporting the demonstrators, many of whom were violent, and with the administration immediately recognizing an unelected person as interim president, just as it had done in Venezuela.
Ironically, whenever the US succeeds in promoting such protests and fanning them into coups d’état, the people in the nation in which the coup succeeds lose a significant amount of freedom under the transparently false pretext of bringing "freedom and democracy" and typically suffer significant economic losses, contributing to a shrinkage of the global, and with it the US, economy.
The most outstanding example is Ukraine, which had a growing economy in 2014, thanks to fruitful cooperation with Russia, before the US-backed Maidan coup. According to IMF statistics, Ukraine is today the poorest country in Europe!
Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora.
WHY DID LEBANON’S [PRESIDENT] AOUN SAY [HE] FOUND HARIRI HESITANT ABOUT BEING PM?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
Answered just now
Your question is a little late. Hariri has already stepped down.
Lebanon PM Saad Hariri no doubt feels his life is in danger. For one thing, Hariri’s father Rafic was assassinated in 2005 in a plot that had Mossad’s fingerprints all over it, but a UN judge, under the heavy-handed influence of then UN ambassador John Bolton, a rabidly pro-Israel Neocon with an irrational hatred of Assad, decided the assassination was probably done by Assad. The investigation was hugely biased. Israel — which one year later, in 2006 — virtually obliterated Lebanon, was treated as a witness instead of a suspect. There are several other reasons why this whole affair stinks to high heaven.
Firstly, Rafic was no longer PM at the time of the assassination. He had been out of office the year before it and therefore presumably had little to no political influence. Further, he was a friend of Assad’s father Hafez. It is absurd to think that a Muslim Arab would betray his own father, with whom he had an excellent relationship, by murdering his friend! This definitely was a cooked up story that was part of the still-ongoing attempt to overthrow Bashar al-Assad.
The Hariris were Saudis and the Kingdom had reportedly kidnapped Saad Hariri in December of 2018 while he was visiting there, during which time he publicly resigned as Lebanon’s PM. There had been some sort of spat with the royals. However, he later resumed his duties as PM and stated he had not been kidnapped in Saudi and also claimed Lebanon-Saudi relations “couldn’t be better.”
Hariri had very good relations with Putin, and under his watch, Lebanon had accepted a gift of Russian made ammunition, but under pressure from the US, the ammo was earmarked for the ministry of the interior instead of the defence ministry. Therefore, it is crystal clear that the US is not happy with the Lebanese government, which has not bowed deeply enough to the hegemon.
There is no point in trying to predict what will happen next.
However, it is fair to assume that, as in the UN investigation of the Rafic Hariri murder, there is US skulduggery involved in the current Lebanese protests and in Hariri’s latest resignation.
In fact, no one can be faulted for suspecting US meddling in all the protests around the world, where the protesters are mysteriousl.
Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora.
QUORA: WHY IS RUSSIA SUCH AN IMPORTANT COUNTRY WHEN IT HARDLY DOES ANYTHING ANY MORE?
This question is both a statement and a question but the statement part is absolutely false, undoubtedly influenced by Western (mostly US and NATO) msm and political propaganda.
The writer is not necessarily to blame. I can only surmise that this questioner has been reading the Western msm and has seen little to nothing indicating that Russia is, for example, actively fighting terrorists in Syria, though this could not be farther from the truth. Russian bombing runs are ongoing in Syria but the US msm has an interest in making the public believe that only the US is fighting terror there (the assassination of Baghdadi was a minor distraction), so it hardly reports these Russian efforts. The results of such obfuscation of vitally important news cannot be predicted but certainly cannot be good for anyone. All wars are due to ignorance. Based on the Russian moves in Syria, I suspect that at some point, Russia will find a way to force the US to exit. After all, now that Trump has made it clear he fully intends to breach international law to steal Syrian oil, the whole world knows, and informed people would not blame Russia for intervening to save the oil of its impoverished war torn allies from grand larceny by the biggest criminal government in the world. But I also suspect that Russia may be awaiting the results of the 2020 election to make its move. After all, as confused and harmful as Trump’s policies are, the Russians know that the Democrats, who are clearly infected with a terminal case of Russophobia, could be more dangerous to Russia than a confused Republican. Unless, that is, Tulsi Gabbard could by some miracle, win the presidency, though that possibility seems virtually nil.
For those Westerners who really want to know what the Russian, Syrian and Turkish militaries are doing in Syria, the main – or only? – sources of daily Middle East news are non-Western, for example:
Even Russian media aimed at Western audiences, like Sputnik and RT, though helpful, are a little short-shrifted on events in the Syrian theatre.
As for its economy, Russia does much more than any Western country to build and diversify its economy, laying to rest the now-deceased Sen. John McCain’s statement that Russia is a “big gas station.”
I had previously written at Quora an answer showing that Russia is the healthiest and most stable of all the world’s industrial economies: https://www.quora.com/Is-Russia-stronger-than-the-US/answer/Vince-Dhimos
Russia’s economy includes, but is by no means limited to, the following economic sectors:
Agriculture. Russia is now the world’s biggest exporter of wheat (that alone should put the vicious “Russia does nothing” myth to rest). It also has pretty much replaced most of its prior agricultural imports by raising its own crops and meat. It decided to do this in retaliation to the European sanctions foisted on it by the US. It now has replaced almost all food imports, with the exception of Turkish tomatoes, for example, because Turkey is one of the few countries that cooperates with Russia and does not slavishly apply US-imposed sanctions.
According to export.gov,
“For the 2017/2018 season, Russia was the world’s largest producer of barley; the fourth-largest producer and the largest exporter of wheat; the second-largest producer of sunflower seeds; the third-largest producer of potatoes and milk; and the fifth-largest producer of eggs and chicken meat.”
Automotive manufacture: According to this site relating to the Russian and CIS automotive industry,
“After the slowing of sales in 2013-16 against a backdrop of general macroeconomic decline, the market began recovery in 2017. The growth accelerated to 12.8% in 2018 and a total of 1.8 mln passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) were sold. According to EY forecasts, sales will continue this upward trend, passing the two million mark by 2021.”
The site also mentions that Russia manufactured 82,000 trucks and 48,000 buses in 2018.
Civil aeronautics industry: According to Vedomosti (my translation):
“By 2025, China itself will become the world leader in air transportation.
“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) this year is a partner country of the Russian MAKS [Russian international air show]. Russia and China can effectively complement each other in the aircraft industry, says Oleg Panteleev, executive director of the AviaPort industry agency. In Russia there is a scientific school, qualified designers, some critical technologies. But there is no money, market, access to materials and equipment. China has all this, but it lacks knowledge and skills.”
Russia and China have already unveiled a mock-up of a jointly designed airliner intended to enter a market currently dominated by Western makers.
Russian farm equipment: The site export.gov reports:
“According to the Russian Association of Specialized Machinery and Equipment Producers (“Rosspetsmash”) and Russian Customs statistics, the Russian agricultural equipment market grew 3% in 2018 to $1.5 billion. Fertilizer spreaders experienced the most significant sales growth – by 58%, to 644 units. Sales of sprayers rose by 29% to 1,179 units; forage harvesters by 19% to 532 units; all-wheel drive agricultural tractors by 18% to 2,276 units. Last year 2,649 mowers were purchased on the domestic market, which represented a 12% increase over 2017; 1,230 units of balers (10% growth); and 4,048 harrows (6.3% growth).”
“According to AgroVestnik, a Russian agricultural media outlet, the previously negative market trend for agricultural tractors reversed itself, with 3.8% year-on-year growth during the time period January-November 2018. A positive trend was also reported in the all-wheel drive vehicle sector, with a significant increase of 19.3%.”
International arms sales: According to forecastinternational.com, Defense and Security Monitor reported in June:
“Russian arms exports since the start of 2019 have totaled nearly $6 billion, according to Rosoboronexport chief executive Alexander Mikheyev.”
This is despite the frantic efforts of US lawmakers and the White House to illegally curtail Russian arms sales. Turkey, for example, defied US-imposed sanctions to purchase the highly effective S-400 air defence system, which has been effectively protecting Russian assets in Syria.
India has also gone ahead with the purchase of the S-400 despite a threat of US sanctions.
The US has used the ridiculous threat that the purchase of this superior air defence system would somehow harm the “security” of the countries, which, of course, made the purchase to enhance their security.
Energy: Gas and oil extraction and processing still lead the Russian economy, with Russia also helping foreign countries develop their energy resources.
The pipeline project Nord Stream II was designed to deliver natural gas from Russia to Western Europe, mainly Germany. The project ran into major snafus thanks mainly to the US, which tried to sanction anyone involved in the project. US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell threatened and cajoled and used every trick in the book to prevent this project from being completed. Denmark, which is more Russophobic than most of Europe, tried to block the laying of pipeline in its territorial waters but finally relented and now the last of the pipe will be laid. The US used the old favourite pretence that Russian gas could somehow jeopardize European “security.” Germany saw through the ruse aimed at forcing Europe to buy expensive US LNG instead of the cheaper Russian gas.
If you look at the statistics from the EIA, Energy Information Administration, you will get the initial impression that the US leads the world in energy, and this is – sort of – true. In fact, energy is the reason for those new jobs that the current administration touts.
But here’s the catch: while Russian oil and gas extraction actually pays the bills in the RF, US domestic energy extraction, ie, both oil and gas, has been running in the red, for the reasons enumerated in my Quora answer here (read the numbered paragraphs): https://www.quora.com/How-badly-is-China-really-doing-as-a-result-of-Trump-s-trade-war/answer/Vince-Dhimos. This situation is confirmed by all serious sites on the subject of oil and gas, such as Oilprice.com, the most authoritative source.
Sadly, shale oil and gas were the pillars of the administration’s plans for the US economy but the shale dream is now shattered. To put it bluntly, shale oil and gas will not save the US economy from atrophy.
Another energy source that is absent from US industry is nuclear power.
According to world-nuclear.org:
“Exports of nuclear goods and services are a major Russian policy and economic objective. Over 20 nuclear power reactors are confirmed or planned for export construction. Foreign orders totalled $133 billion in late 2017.”
The Moscow Times reports that Russia’s nuclear power industry is still going quite strong.
Russian international conferences, summits and forums include hundreds of international conferences listed at this site;
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which hosts national leaders. For example, in 2019, it hosted the president of the PRC and Bulgaria, the prime ministers of Armenia and Slovakia, and the UN secretary-general;
The Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, which was attended by over 50 leaders of African countries, who signed $12.5 billion worth of deals. (Yet Foreign Policy managed to call this summit a “failure.”)
The Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivlastok, hosting leaders of several countries, including Mongolia, India, Japan and India. 1,800 projects emerged from this forum.
Russia earns money and garners additional prestige from these conferences and summits.
Military and Diplomatic achievements:
Putin has intervened to block US military attacks on several occasions, saving countless lives.
The first such instance was in 2013 when Obama claimed that Assad had crossed a red line in Syria, allegedly using a banned chemical weapon. Putin offered to negotiate with Assad and as a result, Assad agreed to destroy its store of chemical weapons under the supervision of international inspectors, leading Obama to call off a missile strike on Assad’s military assets.
In the Trump administration, a missile strike was made on the strength of a mere accusation. Later, another accusation was made and Trump promised to repeat the experience. This time, however, the Russian MoD warned that if the US or its allies harmed any Russian assets or personnel, Russia retained the right to destroy the platform (naval ship) whence the offending missile came. The US nervously followed through with the attack but never attacked again despite the recurrence of such accusations (falsely brought by the terrorist-affiliated White Helmets, as summarized here).
Meanwhile, Trump declared as president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó, an obscure politician who had never received a vote in a presidential campaign. When the actual elected president, Nicolás Maduro, refused to heed the US president’s unreasonable demand to step down, Trump threatened to invade. Shortly thereafter, Russia sent several military aircraft to Venezuela as a deterrent. Despite further warnings, the US never invaded.
Trump later threatened to attack Iran and then claimed he had planned a strike but called it off at the last minute. It sounded fishy because in the case of all US planned attacks, the US had warned of the impending attack beforehand. Why would they not warn Iran beforehand rather than claim there was a plan that was later called off? Keen observers linked this event with the fact that Russia had warned the US that if they attacked Iran, the results would be catastrophic.
It seemed pretty clear that the US’ failure to attack was because the US feared Russia. In fact, even after an attack was recently launched on Saudi Aramco that shut down an oil processing facility for an extended period, the US refrained from attacking Iran even though it blamed Iran for the attack. (The Yemeni Houthis claimed responsibility).
Ultimately, however, it is fine to think that none of the Russian achievements amount to anything. The more people keep their heads in the sand, the more unobstructed Russia will be in its actions. But be prepared for surprises.
vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora.
QUESTION: WILL RUSSIA SURVIVE AS A GREAT POWER AGAINST THE USA?
VINCE’S RESPONSE [modified for NSS]:
This is a Western-style question reflecting the biased view that the more viable of the two countries is the US and not Russia. The overwhelming evidence given in the following indicates that the questioner has it precisely backwards. Which is perfectly understandable given the news filter omnipresent in the West.
We need to understand that military power and economic power are very intimately linked together and that the economic power of the US rests upon the printing press and a flawed economic system while Russian economic power rests upon a real producing economy and hydrocarbon deposits that will last for decades. Thus, on the Russian side, the economy is the most stable and healthy among all industrial countries, as I also explained at Quora:
According to the Energy Information Administration, Energy Information Administration, a US-based agency, Russia has largest gas reserves in the world.
While the EIA reports that the US had the largest petroleum and “other liquids” production in 2018, and Russia ranked third in this metric, the little discussed problem in the West is that US hydrocarbon production – which the current administration is banking on as the primary pillar in its economic policy and the source of those “new jobs” that it touts – is predominantly from shale, meaning that extraction requires fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and hence constant exploration and drilling of new wells, which systemically have very short useful lives. There’s no way around this. This makes extraction of hydrocarbons from shale virtually prohibitively expensive and unprofitable, despite generous tax breaks (paid for by the generous US tax payer, who feels warmly for the rich), including actual tax credits for shale investors.
Therefore, an alarming number of US shale oil companies are going bankrupt and, according to Bloomberg, the balance sheets of US domestic oil extraction have thus far stayed consistently in the red. To put it plainly, the future of US shale energy looks bleak to say the least as fewer and fewer investors are willing to sink their fortunes into deep empty wells. Sadly, experts warn that the boom time in shale will end in about a decade, suspending disbelief and assuming investors do not throw in the towel by then. By contrast, Russia’s oil and gas are not extracted from shale and do not suffer from this malaise. Russia therefore does not need very high per barrel prices to sustain its profitability from hydrocarbons.
I explained in detail at Quora why US shale oil is doomed: https://www.quora.com/How-badly-is-China-really-doing-as-a-result-of-Trump-s-trade-war/answer/Vince-Dhimos
Another important reason why Russia is winning the race is on the US side, ie, the disastrous trade wars, as I also explained at Quora:
Further, Russia is way ahead diplomatically because unlike the US, it provides loans and trade deals free of the encumbering strings attached to US agreements, such as demands on internal issues like protection of certain minorities. This is why Russia is landing contracts for arms, nuclear power plants and energy all over the world.
In the military field, it was Russia that intervened in Syria in both the Obama and Trump administrations to settle rifts that would have cost Syrian people destructive and lethal Tomahawk attacks by the US. It was Russia that made it impossible to invade Venezuela and Iran, saving countless human lives, and it is Russia that is finding diplomatic, economic and military inroads throughout the Middle East and Africa, for example, even as the US exits these regions.
So what about those military options we keep hearing about? While there is a popular theory that Trump is consulting with Putin, who is telling him hands off Iran, it is now reported –though sparsely – that China and Russia are very much involved militarily in Iran.
Israeli news site news1 reports that China is set to send 5,000 troops to Iran to defend its economically important sites. Even if the US felt powerful enough to invade Iran, the spectre of US missiles or planes harming Chinese troops is almost certainly a sure-fire deterrent to the US mischief makers. As if that weren’t enough, a few sites like South China Morning Post and National Interest, for example, tell us that China, Russia and Iran are planning joint naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz. It seems reasonable to assume that this news is precisely why the US and allies have not been warning about their upcoming power play in that region.
Diplomatically, the US has managed to keep wielding the whip of sanctions. But even in this area, major changes are quietly being made. China has shielded itself with massive pioneering projects like the Belt and Road Initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Shanghai oil futures market and the Shanghai gold exchange, the latter 2 of which allow commodities to be exchanged for actual gold or for yuan, making the yuan stronger and more international – helping to inch out the dollar and thereby weaken it. China has also launched trade exchanges with pariah countries like Iran and Venezuela that provide it with discounted prices on oil that the US has tried to ban. It is successfully using local currencies, including the yuan, to avoid the pitfalls of dollar settlements.
Meanwhile, Europe has developed Instex, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that enables it to by-pass SWIFT, formerly the only messaging system available anywhere for international payment transfer. Instex was a logical solution to Washington’s use of SWIFT as a weapon to enforce sanctions. Though SWIFT is located in Belgium, it has been controlled by the US, which forbade it to allow money transfers to pariah countries. This had been accomplished at the Treasury Department by reading the records of foreign SWIFT transactions and threatening sanctions on countries allowing US-banned transactions.
Finally, the US has done itself untold harm by bullying its partners and also by backing out of agreements and partnerships, as it has done by abandoning the Kurds in Syria, by unilaterally pulling out of the ABM treaty (under GW Bush) and then the INF treaty, both designed to keep the world safe from dangerous arms, and also from the Iran Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in a bid to destroy Iran to please Israel. It is becoming crystal clear to America’s partners that the US cannot be trusted to keep its word. Thanks to this “trust deficit,” Russia, which takes its agreements seriously, is becoming the default partner and power broker among disgruntled (ex) US partners. The Burston-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey shows that the US and Russia have completely switched roles in the minds of Arabs, with Russia now taking the place of the US as the most trusted non-Arab partner. The US is now increasingly thought of as an enemy to the Arabs. This is not likely to change, regardless of who wins the White House in 2020. Most striking of all is the position of Iraqi youth, more than 90% of which, according to the Washington Post, think of the US as an enemy. Now keep in mind that Syria was not included in this study and Iran and Turkey are non-Arab countries. All three of these have sizable populations, and if they had been included in the study, it is certain that the results would have shown the Middle East as a whole to be significantly more anti-American and pro-Russian. Certainly Iraqis distrust the US and consider it an enemy because 1) Iraq is Shiite-majority and 2) the Iraqis have been brutalized by the Iraq war and killer sanctions that remained in place nearly 10 years after the war was over – for no rational reason at all except arbitrary resentment of a country that refuses to bow to the tyrant, and on top of that, the fact that it is Shiite sullies Saudi sensibilities, and it is, of course, the Saudis who, in tandem with Israel, shape US foreign policy (for the reasons outlined here for Saudi and here for Israel [these links did not appear in my Quora version]). Therefore, the US felt obliged to properly punish the Iraqis, with no regard for the Iraqi people’s feelings, though this brutal treatment would leave an indelible boot print on the Iraqi mind and heart. The results of the above-described Burston-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey show that this cavalier disregard for the hearts and minds in the Middle East was a fatal flaw in US foreign policy that is making it impossible for the US to continue doing its dirty business in the region and will continue to take its toll for decades to come. The US Establishment’s recent unprecedented open confession that it intends to steal Syrian oil may be the final nail in Washington’s foreign policy coffin.
As for the differences between US administrations, while Trump drove the stake through the heart of American prestige in the region, this same youth survey showed that in 2016, near the end of the Obama administration, about a third of Arabs already thought that America was the enemy. Thus Trump’s predecessor had successfully laid the groundwork for the Arabs to turn against the US. Trump just administered the coup de grace.
Thus the only question we need to be asking ourselves at this point is: can the US – not Russia – survive this dramatic power shift from West to East? And does it even care enough to make the effort?