…in the meantime it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger [to the US] emerges capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, 1997
We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.
Hillary Clinton, Clinton Calls Eurasian Integration An Effort To ‘Re-Sovietize’, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, 7 December 2012
TRENDS: NORTHERN EUROPE
- Future French president is not toeing the official line on Ukraine anymore (Nicolas Sarkozy légitime l’annexion de la Crimée par la Russie, Figaro, 10 February 2015). Jacques Attali, François Fillon, Dominique de Villepin, François Hollande: a broad consensus has emerged within the French establishment against sanctions and for a diplomatic solution leading to the normalization of relations between Paris and Moscow (Ukraine: non, Poutine ne veut pas reconquérir l’Europe de l’Est, Figaro, 11 February 2015);
- Die Welt, a conservative German daily, points out that, with its generally aggressive and arrogant attitude, Germany has won no friends in Europe and, as a result, Angela Merkel is losing control of the situation (Hat Merkel in Europa bald nichts mehr zu sagen? Die Welt, 1 February 2015);
- Helmut Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, and Helmut Kohl, three former German chancellors, repeatedly expressing their sympathy for Moscow’s position on the Ukrainian crisis and harshly criticizing Angela Merkel (Merkel’s flawed vision for Europe, Ukraine-Russia and beyond, Al Jazeera, 13 April 2014).
TRENDS: SOUTHERN EUROPE
- 2016-2020: the fracturing of obsolete NATO, due to a self-inflicted EU economic disaster (austerity plus sanction war with Russia). Southern European countries to defect from NATO;
- Autumn 2015: the sanction war with Russia is backfiring (Russia sanctions have cost EU 21 bn euros, says Spain, France24, 9 February 2015). Spain’s Podemos wins next general elections and starts pushing in the same eastward direction, from Euro-Atlanticism (US dollar unipolar structure) to EurAsianism (a global multilateral architecture);
- A New South Stream project going through Macedonia and Serbia, up to the Hungarian border (Hungarian Minister Proposes Greece-Macedonia-Serbia Gas Pipeline as South Stream Alternative, 15 January 2015), driving a wedge through Europe, splitting NATO and the European Union asunder, with Turkey, Greece, Hungary – all NATO members –, together with the Balkans, drawing ever closer to Russia and China, pace CNN Virginia Harrison (Will China or Russia rescue Greece? Probably not, CNN, 11 February 2015);
- Putin urging Mediterranean Eurozone countries not to commit suicide only to please Washington and Brussels. Cyprus prepared to lease to Russia two military facilities, only 40 km from a British military base, “strictly for humanitarian purposes” (Cyprus denies ‘Russia deal on military bases’, BBC, 9 February 2015);
- Brussels, Washington and London coming to terms with the fact that they are not the only game in town (Tsipras, Putin agree to boost bilateral cooperation, Ekathimerini, 5 February 2015; Tsipras invited to visit China, Ekathimerini, 11 February 2015; Vladimir Putin invited Alexis Tsipras to Moscow to celebrate the victory over Nazism (Victory Day, on May 9); Orban Attacks EU Energy Plan as Putin Link Nets Hungary Gas Deal, Bloomberg, 17 February 2015);
- China has by no means forgotten the Boxer rebellion and the Opium Wars, nor has Greece forgotten its tragic past (British perfidy in Greece: a story worth remembering, Open Democracy, 1 December 2014). It’s payback time (A new dawn or a Golden Dawn? Trends, Risks and Scenarios for Greece, FuturAbles, 27 January 2014).
TRENDS: EASTERN EUROPE
- Even if we don’t count Crimeans and Novorussians, 42 percent of Ukrainians oppose the war on Donbass (Poll: Ukrainians support neutrality, disagree on war, USA Today, 8 March 2015);
- The Ukrainian Army has been defeated and has ceased to be a viable armed force (Ukraine’s President Is Trapped With His Troops, Bloomberg, 17 February 2015; Defeated Ukrainians take the ‘road of life’ on their retreat from Debaltseve, Telegraph 18 February 2015);
- U.S. soldiers to train three battalions of Ukrainians in Lviv (Stars and Stripes, 11 February 2015), but Ukraine is unlikely to remain a potential sparkle for a world war. BBC now questioning the Maidan massacre (The untold story of the Maidan massacre, 12 February 2015), NYT doubting Kiev’s official narratives (Sifting Ukrainian Fact From Ukrainian Fiction, New York Times, 13 February 2015). European leaders fully aware that arming Kiev would only prolong this civil war (Study suggests arming Ukraine would prolong conflict, Deutsche Welle, 11 February 2015);
- Failed general mobilization: only 20% of those who have been called up by Kiev showed up. In three days nearly 7,500 young people have fled to Russia to escape conscription (Ukraine: draft dodgers face jail as Kiev struggles to find new fighters, Guardian, 10 February 2015)
- Ukraine’s internal frictions continuously growing: ultra-nationalists calling the Minsk agreement “treason”. Right Sector will continue fighting and ignore the ceasefire.An attempted coup in Kiev by the neofascist Svoboda and Right Sector, using death squads such as the notorious “Battalion Azov” (i.e. the “European ISIS”), is on the cards (The Neo-Nazi Question in Ukraine, Huffington Post, 11 March 2014; Ukraine’s revolution and the far right, BBC, 7 March 2014; Far-right Ukrainians mark anniversary of nationalist hero Stepan Bandera, Euronews, 1 January 2015). President Poroshenko, a tragic, Shakespearean figure, is finished, caught in a trap with no way out.
- Paris-Berlin-Moscow Axis ascending and scuttling neoconservative prospectsto use the European Union as a tool of Anglo-American imperialism (Immanuel Wallerstein, The geopolitics of Ukraine’s schism, Al Jazeera, 15 February 2014; ‘From Lisbon to Vladivostok’: Putin Envisions a Russia-EU Free Trade Zone, Spiegel, 25 November 2010);
- Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan are being brought under Chinese-Russian influence (Turkey Won’t Link Air Defense System to NATO, Defense News, 19 february 2015; Egypt to join Russia-led Eurasian free trade zone, RT, 10 February 2015; Moscow & Cairo to drop USD, use national currencies in bilateral trade – Putin, RT, 8 February 2015; Russia to help build Egypt’s first nuclear plant: Sisi, I24News, 10 February 2015; As U.S. Exits, China Takes On Afghanistan Role, WSJ, 9 February 2015);
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi: another world leader willing to listen and understand Moscow’s point of view on Ukraine (and Crimea) (Is India getting nostalgic over Russia ties? CNN, 22 January 2015). Because of perceived disloyalty to the West, added to list of the “four autocrats of the apocalypse” (Reuters, 16 January 2015);
- Anglo-American global influence waning (Womp! This Country Was Named The Greatest Threat To World Peace, Huffington Post, 2 January 2014; Global Opinion: The Spread of Anti-Americanism, Pew Research Center, 24 January 2005);
- The two leading challengers, China and Russia, are by now able to unleash a couple of deadly black swans in the markets, fatally undermining the Western financial system and completing the de-dollarization process;
- By 2020 a multipolar world will be the new reality: Leaders remain committed to the vision of a joint humanitarian and economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific [i.e. a Europe which includes Russia] based upon full respect for international law and the OSCE principles (The new Minsk agreement, 12 February 2015);
- the BRICS, the Eurasian Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the G-77 planning a new monetary system (The Great Human Renaissance – Towards a New World Order, FuturAbles, 9 January 2015; Declaration “For a new world order for living well”, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, 14-15 June 2014);
- Global repudiation of parasitic, cannibalistic, misanthropic, sociopathic/antisocial, neoliberal policies, doctrines, and mantras: “Arbeit macht frei”, “divide and rule”, “Übermenschen vs. Untermenschen, “zero-sum game (all or northing)”, “the snake eating its own tail”, “there is no alternative”, “dog eat dog”, full spectrum dominance (From a sociopathic civilisation to a socio-therapeutic civilisation, WazArs, 15 October 2014);
- Global (enslaving) debt relief (ΣΕΙΣΑΧΘΕΙΑ), allowing humankind to prosper and live free (Bolivia Leads UN Efforts on Debt Restructuring, TeleSur, 5 February 2015; Debt Relief Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, IMF; $100 million debt relief for Ebola-hit countries, UN Radio, 5 February 2015).
QUOTES & MEMES
The separation between Europe and Russia is a tragedy. The Americans are entitled to long for that, but it is also their problem (…) we do not want a revival of a Cold War between Europe and Russia. » We are part of a common civilization with Russia. The interests of the Americans with the Russians are not the interests of Europe and Russia.Crimea has chosen Russia, and we cannot blame it [for doing so]. If Kosovo had the right to seek independence from Serbia, by the same logic no one could deny Crimea the right to leave Ukraine to join Russia. [Ukraine] is not destined to join the EU, it must preserve its role as a bridge between Europe and Russia.
Nicholas Sarkozy, Crise ukrainienne: Nicolas Sarkozy reprend la rhétorique du Kremlin, Le Monde, 9 February 2015 / Sarkozy: Crimea cannot be blamed for joining Russia, RT, 8 February 2015
Germany is dedicated to the concept of ‘big Europe’ from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Security and cooperation in Europe are possible through dialogue.
Angela Merkel, Putin-Merkel-Hollande meeting follow up, RT, 7 February 2015
Russia is an inalienable and organic part of Greater Europe and European civilization. Our citizens think of themselves as Europeans. We are by no means indifferent to developments in united Europe. That is why Russia proposes moving toward the creation of a common economic and human space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean – a community referred by Russian experts to as “the Union of Europe,” which will strengthen Russia’s potential and position in its economic pivot toward the “new Asia.”‘
Vladimir Putin, Valdai speech, 27 February 2012
Our vision of the European space from the Atlantic to the Urals is not that of a closed system. Since it includes the Soviet Union, which reaches to the shores of the Pacific, and the transatlantic USA and Canada with inseparable links to the Old World, it goes beyond its nominal geographical boundaries.
The idea is not at all to consolidate a part of our civilization on, so to say, a European platform versus the rest of the world. Suspicions of that kind do exist. But, on the contrary, the idea is to develop and build upon the momentum of integration in Europe, embodied politically in the Charter of Paris for the whole of Europe. This should be done in the context of common movement towards a new and peaceful period in world history, towards new interrelationship and integrity of mankind. As my friend Giulio Andreotti6 so aptly remarked recently in Moscow, “East-West rapprochement alone is not enough for progress of the entire world towards peace. However, agreement between them is a great contribution to the common cause”. Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Near and Middle East, all of them, are to play a great role in this common cause whose prospects are difficult to forecast today.
The new integrity of the world, in our view, can be built only on the principles of the freedom of choice and balance of interests. Every State, and now also a number of existing or emerging regional interstate groups, have their own interests. They are all equal and deserve respect.
Mikhail Gorbachev, Nobel Lecture, 5 June 1991
They are competent, intelligent, they’ve thought about their issues. We have to listen to them.
International Monetary Fund directorChristine Lagarde, IMF’s Lagarde says Greece is competent, thought about issues, Reuters, 11 February 2015.
The whole of Europe lives in a cloud of fear. We are at risk of becoming worse than the former Soviet Union. We, the Greeks, don’t hold the monopoly on truth. What we can do, for the rest of Europe and for Italy in particular, is to open a small door leading to the truth. We cannot find the truth on our own, but we can open a door and let you in, so that you can join us. This way, we will be able to leave the darkness of present austerity and enter into the light of a rational and sober European debate.
Yanis Varoufakis, Greek Finance Minister, Varoufakis: ‘Funzionari italiani solidali con noi, ma temono bancarotta e Germania’, Fatto Quotidiano, 7 February 2015
We want a deal. But if there is no deal, and if we see that Germany remains rigid and wants to blow Europe apart, then we will have to go to Plan B. We have other ways of finding money. It could be the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries.
Panos Kammenos, Greek defence minister, Greece threatens tilt to Russia and China unless Europe yields, Telegraph, 10 February 2015
Nor should we be deceived by those who claim that the frontiers of Europe are inviolable when it suits them and who had not opposed the secession of Slovakia, the partition of Yugoslavia or even the redrawing of the borders during the time of the birth of Kosovo!… France must therefore get Europeans to buffer the influence deleterious here of those who, in the United States and Europe, particularly in Poland, continue to confuse Putin with Hitler. And also those, like in the governing bodies of NATO, who are happily inventing an imaginary enemy to justify their very existence. It is urgent in the consultation with Russia to encourage our European partners to consider this country to be a potential ally and not an imaginary enemy.
Jacques Attali, top aide to French president François Mitterrand from 1981 to 1991, Russia should be our ally, Huffington Post, 12 February 2015
I believe that the United States does not always realize that Europe has its problems, and cannot be seen only as a tool of the global interests of the United States.
Mario Monti, former Italian prime minister (2011-2013), Ucraina: “Usa e Nuova Europa spingono alla guerra. La posta in gioco è l’Europa”, la Stampa, 9 February 2015
[The attitude of the US towards Europe] has been well summarized by the “Fuck the EU” uttered by Victoria Nuland. They want to prevent a structured, political rapprochement between Germany and Russia…Sanctions are already hurting us more than Russia.
Lucio Caracciolo, a very influential Italian geopolitical analyst, Ucraina: “Usa e Nuova Europa spingono alla guerra. La posta in gioco è l’Europa”, la Stampa, 9 February 2015
In the narrative now favored by virtually everyone in Washington, Putin is committing aggression against Ukraine, first by annexing Crimea (which, despite its Russian population and longstanding ties to Russia, was “given” by Krushchev to Ukraine one night in 1954) and secondly by giving weapons and other military assistance to anti-Kiev pro-Russian separatists. According to these narratives, the history of Ukraine and Russia begins sometime in February 2014. But in the view of everyone else, in Ukraine, in Russia, and among those lily-livered European appeasers, history starts well before that. One relevant starting point can be found in the first plans to expand NATO up to Russia’s borders. As Steve Walt helpfully reminds us, the very think tank people now assuring us that escalating the conflict by arming the Kiev government will cause Putin to back down are the same people who told us in the 1990s that expanding NATO eastward would cause no difficulties with Russia at all…. The best explanation for the Beltway unanimity now expressed by members of Congress, journalists, and think tank people is the career ambition and the groupthink encouraged by the imperatives of the deep state. The last is a term for that large, many-layered complex: the top officers of the armed forces, top career officials of the intelligence agencies, defense contractors, and think tanks that perpetuate themselves and maintain their budgets by overstating threats and never, ever getting caught underestimating them. The best current analysis of how this works come from Tufts professor Michael Glennon, in an important essay that deserves wide attention. One conclusion Glennon draws is that the only way you can advance to a bigger, more influential job is to be seen as “hard-hitting” and “tough minded.” And that means you can never ignore a foreign policy problem, or argue that an issue really isn’t such a big problem, or, perish the thought, muse that “this is not really our concern” in an official meeting and expect to be taken seriously in Washington.
The most compelling explanation of why the Obama administration seemed to be shifting towards a more hawkish policy (arming the Kiev government now) is that key players in the administration have begun maneuvering for jobs in a future Hillary Clinton administration. Reflexive (but not shrill) hawkishness a necessary form of careerism in the foreign policy bureaucracy set. As an explanation for important events, it’s a close cousin to Hannah Arendt’s observation that Eichmann was a banal and mediocre figure…If European leaders speak out forcefully—sketching out clearly the risks of war, the necessity of a negotiated settlement, and the absurdity of starting a war with Russia over a region vitally important to Russia and of little concern to the U.S., Americans must make every effort to amplify their voices here.
The Ambitions Driving the Ukraine Consensus, The American Conservative, 11 February 2015
Prior to imposing sanctions against Russia, Moscow wasn’t willing to get close to Iran, believing this friendship would have repercussions for them, as the United States is sensitive to this sort of relationships, but now everything has changed and Russians have been placed on the sanctions list of the US and its partners. Therefore, they are not worried about their past concerns.
Hassan Beheshti Pour, ex-chairman of Iran’s Al-Alam TV, Why did Velayati meet with Putin?, Al Monitor, 12 February 2015
Historians tell us that there were two quite distinct British empires – the first an Atlantic empire built on North American colonies and Caribbean possessions and the second an Asian empire, built on control of India and coercive trade with China. These two empires were deeply criminal projects, in the specific sense that they relied heavily on profits from slavery and the sale of narcotics. Empire on the British model was a moneymaking venture, where moral considerations took second place to the lure of super profits. The first British Empire came to an end when the Americans fought a revolutionary war for independence in the 1770s. The second British Empire began to fall apart with Indian independence in 1947. Arab and African nationalism progressively undermined British influence in the years that followed. At some point, perhaps with defeat in Suez in 1956, or when Britain withdrew from its last significant overseas possession, Hong Kong, in 1997, the game was finally up….One day, perhaps history will describe a third British Empire, organised around the country’s offshore financial infrastructure and its substantial diplomatic, intelligence and communications resources. Having given up the appearance of empire, the British have sought to reclaim its substance…The dedication to the needs of global capitalism benefits only a tiny minority of the population. The rest face a future of steepening inequality and shrinking prospects. Besides, as in previous centuries the people at home must pay up when adventures abroad turn expensive. And like the first two British empires, the current one is a criminal enterprise. But having specialised in slavery and drug trafficking, perhaps the empire’s current, signature crime is tax evasion.
Dan Hind, The third British Empire, Al Jazeera, 28 March 2012
Tax havens are not where most people think they are. Of course places like Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Monaco are tax havens, big and important tax havens. But the really big ones are places like the United States and the United Kingdom which runs a huge network of satellite tax havens around it, feeding the City of London. The UK and its overseas territories, which it partly controls, include the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, British Virgin Islands. Massive tax havens. And also the crown dependencies which are Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. And these are all like, in Treasure Island I describe it as a bit like a spider’s web with the City of London at the middle. So these places are capturing money from around the world, and the business of handling the money from around the world and funneling this money up to London…It’s very much a British network and it is, in a sense, a financial empire.
An interview with Nick Shaxson, author of ‘Treasure Islands: tax havens and the men who stole the world’, 14 May 2012
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