The Three Harpies are Back!, by Pepe Escobar

Source: counterpunch


Those were the days when Libya (“We came, we saw, he died”) offered to the world a full-blooded humanitarian imperialist spectacle starring Three American Harpies: Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, actually four if Hillary’s mentorette and soul mate, Madeleine Albright, was included.

Pop cynics felt tempted at the time to coin those Amazons-in-waiting Brunhilde and the Valkyries. Or at least to qualify perma-smirker Hillary as Attila The Hen.

So let’s kill the suspense. There will be, predictably, a sequel. And it even comes with a somewhat highbrow preview, titled Expanding American Power, published by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank .CNAS happens to be co-founded – and led – by former Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, who served in the Obama Administration under Leon Panetta.

Also predictably, CNAS and its combative paper read as a sort of grand PNAC remixed – including some of those same old neocon/neoliberalcon faces; Elliot Abrams, Robert Zoellick, Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross, and of course Flournoy herself, who a Beltway consensus already identifies as the next Pentagon head under a President Clinton.

In this context, Exceptionalistan rules in all its forms – from thejuicy defense contractor donor list to the emphasis on NATO on trade via the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). After Brexit though, implementing TTIP will be a tall order – and that’s a mighty understatement.

Pentagon-in-waiting Flournoy was recently quoted as willing to send “more American troops into combat against ISIS and the Assad regime than the Obama administration has been willing to commit.”

Well, not really. She actually responded to the piece, arguing she’s in favor of “increasing U.S. military support to moderate Syrian opposition groups fighting ISIS and the Assad regime, like the Southern Front, not asking U.S. troops to do the fighting in their stead.”

Continue reading The Three Harpies are Back!, by Pepe Escobar

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John Pilger: Why the British Said No to Europe, by John Pilger

Source: telesur

John Pilger strikes a blow to the hypocrisy of a wider political culture that apologizes for the crimes of the EU while denigrating the nation’s poor.

The majority vote by Britons to leave the European Union was an act of raw democracy. Millions of ordinary people refused to be bullied, intimidated and dismissed with open contempt by their presumed betters in the major parties, the leaders of the business and banking oligarchy and the media.

This was, in great part, a vote by those angered and demoralized by the sheer arrogance of the apologists for the “remain” campaign and the dismemberment of a socially just civil life in Britain. The last bastion of the historic reforms of 1945, the National Health Service, has been so subverted by Tory and Labour-supported privateers it is fighting for its life.

A forewarning came when the treasurer, George Osborne, the embodiment of both Britain’s ancient regime and the banking mafia in Europe, threatened to cut 30 billion pounds from public services if people voted the wrong way; it was blackmail on a shocking scale.

Immigration was exploited in the campaign with consummate cynicism, not only by populist politicians from the lunar right, but by Labour politicians drawing on their own venerable tradition of promoting and nurturing racism, a symptom of corruption not at the bottom but at the top. The reason millions of refugees have fled the Middle East—first Iraq, now Syria—are the invasions and imperial mayhem of Britain, the United States, France, the European Union and Nato. Before that, there was the willful destruction of Yugoslavia. Before that, there was the theft of Palestine and the imposition of Israel.

The pith helmets may have long gone, but the blood has never dried. A nineteenth century contempt for countries and peoples, depending on their degree of colonial usefulness, remains a centerpiece of modern “globalization,” with its perverse socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor: its freedom for capital and denial of freedom to labor; its perfidious politicians and politicized civil servants.

All this has now come home to Europe, enriching the likes of Tony Blair and impoverishing and disempowering millions. On 23 June, the British said no more.

The most effective propagandists of the “European ideal” have not been the far right, but an insufferably patrician class for whom metropolitan London is the United Kingdom. Its leading members see themselves as liberal, enlightened, cultivated tribunes of the 21st century zeitgeist, even “cool.” What they really are is a bourgeoisie with insatiable consumerist tastes and ancient instincts of their own superiority. In their house paper, The Guardian, they have gloated, day after day, at those who would even consider the EU profoundly undemocratic, a source of social injustice and a virulent extremism known as “neoliberalism.”

Continue reading John Pilger: Why the British Said No to Europe, by John Pilger

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By: Andre Vltchek

Oh that poor old United Kingdom! Armies of political commentators based on all continents are now feverishly trying to define to what extent the Brits got fooled, or how severely they will soon get punished for their ‘bold move’.

All over Europe, the neo-Nazis and other right-wingers are celebrating, while most of ‘liberals’ are panic-stricken, running around like a herd of headless chickens, or howling at the moon at night in despair. The Euro-left (as pathetic and bogus as “Euro business class” on domestic European flights) is trying to put the recent referendum into some sort of philosophical perspective, blabbering something about a working class rebellion against the ruling elites.

Some Europeans are even blaming Mr. Putin for the outcome of the referendum, while others see behind the outcome of the vote the specter of an “American conspiracy” or even a “Zionist lobby”.

Things are much more simple. A few million bigoted British voters, many of them old retirees and traditionally conservative, even racist bunch, got scared that their country was soon about to be invaded by unkempt hordes of refugees, or more precisely – by ‘un-people’ (to borrow from George Orwell’s lexicon). While for others, the referendum became a way to express their frustration with the fact that the British working class has lately been getting an increasingly awful deal (read: an increasingly smaller cut from that enormous global loot plundered by both Europe and North America).

Don’t search for any flickers of internationalism or traditional Left-wing ideals in the hearts of those who voted for “Exit”. A great majority of the anti-EU warriors was simply demanding better benefits for itself (the “British people”), as well as “Britain for the Brits” (whatever that really means in this increasingly multi-racial nation).

Of course, the same can be said about the opposite camp! Those who were voting for remaining in the Union were doing so for strictly practical reasons.

Almost no commentator bothered to notice what was truly shocking about the entire referendum process: an absolute lack of progressive ideology, of internationalism and concern for the world as a whole. Both sides (and were there really two sides there) presented a fireworks of shallow selfishness and of pettiness. The profound moral corruption of the West was clearly exposed.

Continue reading BREXIT – LET THE UK SCREW ITSELF!, by Andre Vltchek

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Russia’s Achilles Heel – Reflections from St. Petersburg, by F. William Engdahl

Source: New Eastern Outlook

For three days this month, June 16-18, I had the opportunity to participate as a panelist in the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia. I’ve been in Russia many times since the Ukraine US-backed coup d’état of February 2014, and the deliberate escalations of NATO military and economic tensions and sanctions against the Russian Federation. This year’s forum, my second as participant, gave me a rare opportunity to speak with leading representatives from every sector of the Russian economy- from CEOs of the energy sector to the Russian Railways to the national Russia Grid electricity provider to numerous small and mid-sized businessmen, to a wide range of economists. It sharpened my perception of just how precarious the situation of Russia today is.

What became clearer to me in the course of the three days of discussions in St Petersburg is precisely how vulnerable Russia is. Her Achilles Heel is the reigning ideology that controls every key economic post of the Government of the Russian Federation under Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Under the terms of the Russian Constitution adopted in the chaos of the Yeltsin years and enormously influenced, if not literally drafted, by Russia’s foreign IMF advisers, economic policy is the portfolio responsibility of the Prime Minister and his various ministers of Economics, Finance and so forth. The Russian President, today Vladimir Putin, is responsible for defense and foreign policy.

Making the job virtually impossible of reviving credit flows to fuel genuine real investment in urgently needed infrastructure across the vast land expanse of Russia is the Central Bank of Russia. The Central Bank of Russia was given two constitutionally-mandated tasks when it was created as an entity independent from the Russian Government in the first months of the Russian Federation following the breakup of the Soviet Union. It must control Russian domestic inflation and it must stabilize the Ruble against major foreign currencies. Like western central banks, its role is almost purely monetary, not economic.

In June, 2015 as I participated the first time in the St Petersburg forum, the Russian Central Bank base rate, interest charged to banks, was 11%. In the peak of the so-called Ruble crisis in January 2015 it had reached 17%. Expectations last summer were that Elvira Nabiullina, the central bank governor since 2013, would begin to bring central rates rather rapidly down to manageable levels, especially at a time when central banks such as the European Central Bank, the US Fed and the Bank of Japan were lowest in some 500 years at zero or even negative. Further, since January 2016 oil prices, a significant factor in the Ruble strength as Russia is the world’s largest oil exporter, began a rise of more than 60% from lows below $30 a barrel in early January to levels near $50 six months later.

That lowering of rates by the Central Bank hasn’t happened. Instead it is slowly killing the economy. One year later, in early June, 2016 the Russian Central Bank under Governor Nabiullina made the first rate cut since June 2015…to a still-deadly 10.5%. Perhaps it’s notable that monetarist Nabiullina was named by the London Euromoney magazine as their 2015 Central Bank Governor of the Year. That should be seen as a bad omen for Russia. Equally ominous was the fulsome praise the head of Washington’s IMF had for Nabiullina’s monetarist handling of the early 2015 Ruble crisis.

Continue reading Russia’s Achilles Heel – Reflections from St. Petersburg, by F. William Engdahl

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