On the Unveiling of the Philosopher’s Stone, by Paul Matthews

The photo “Two lads on a donkey” was taken in 2007 near Tarqûmiya in the Hebron Governorate محافظة الخليل‎‎ Muḥāfaẓat al-Ḫalīl

A late summer’s plumage
Bedraggled in the fall
The forest’s taken umbrage
Beneath a golden pall …
 
Levellers in the Firmament
Amend the Earth’s integument
Autumn redrafts the leaves’ descent
Nature’s will and testament.
 
As drab or stripper must undress
So bear the woods the winds’ caress
The mouldering of moulted attire
A smouldering all consuming fire.
 
At back end now, the world turns drear
For the gloaming of the year
Recrudescent nether powers
Resurging with the darkling hours.
 
And in a scent of new born wine
The perennial decline
Like rust on share or tine
More mildew on the vine.
 
A sheen-like glim of life’s afloat
Rampant oozing from the slime
The dross trampled underfoot
In the Mighty Press of Time.
 
A poem by Paul Matthews (1970)
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.
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PRESIDENT DUTERTE OF THE PHILIPPINES FOR DUMMIES, by Andre Vltchek

From Manila and Davao.

Local Press

When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ascended to power in 1999, almost no one in the West, in Asia and even in most of the Latin American countries knew much about his new militant revolutionary anti-imperialism. From the mass media outlets like CNN and the BBC, to local televisions and newspapers (influenced or directly sponsored by Western sources), the ‘information’ that was flowing was clearly biased, extremely critical, and even derogatory.

A few months into his rule, I came to Caracas and was told repeatedly by several local journalists: “Almost all of us are supporting President Chavez, but we’d be fired if we’d dare to write one single article in his support.”

In New York City and Paris, in Buenos Aires and Hong Kong, the then consensus was almost unanimous: “Chavez was a vulgar populist, a demagogue, a military strongman, and potentially a ‘dangerous dictator’”.

In South Korea and the UK, in Qatar and Turkey, people who could hardly place Venezuela on the world map, were expressing their ‘strong opinions’, mocking and smearing the man who would later be revered as a Latin American hero. Even many of those who would usually ‘distrust’ mainstream media were then clearly convinced about the sinister nature of the Process and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’.

History repeats itself.

Now President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is demonized and ‘mistrusted’, ridiculed and dismissed as a demagogue, condemned as a rough element, mocked as a buffoon.

In his own country he is enjoying the highest popularity rating of any president in its history: at least well over 70 percent, but often even over 80 percent.

“Show me one woman or man who hates Duterte in this city”, smiles a city hall employee of Davao (located on the restive Mindanao Island) where Duterte served as a Mayor for 22 years. “I will buy that person an exquisite dinner, from my own pocket … that is how confident I am”.

“People of the Philippines are totally free now to express their opinions, to criticize the government”, explains Eduardo Tadem, a leading academic, Professorial Lecturer of Asian Studies (UP). “He says: ‘they want to protest? Good!’ People can rally or riot without any permit from the authorities.”

Like in the days of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, in the Philippines, the press, which is mainly owned by right-wing business interests and by pro-Western collaborators, is now reaching a crescendo, barking and insulting the President, inventing stories and spreading unconfirmed rumors, something unimaginable even in a place like the U.K. with its draconian ‘defamation’ laws.

So it is not fear that is securing the great support of the people for Duterte in his own country. It is definitely not fear!

I visited some of the toughest slums of the nation; I worked in the middle of deadly cemeteries, just recently battered by crime and drugs, where people had been literally rotting alive, crying for help and mercy in absolute desperation. I also spoke to the top academics and historians of the country, to former colleagues of Duterte and to overseas workers in the U.A.E. and elsewhere.

The louder was the hate speech from abroad and from local mass media outlets, the stronger Duterte’s nation stood by its leader.

Men and women who were just one year ago living in total desperation and anger were now looking forward with hope, straight towards the future. Suddenly, everything seemed to be possible!

In my first report this month I wrote: “There is a sense of change in those narrow and desperate alleys of the Baseco slum in the Philippines’ capital Manila. For the first time in many years a beautiful, noble lady visited; against all odds she decided to stay. Her name is Hope.”

I stand by my words, now more than ever.

Continue reading PRESIDENT DUTERTE OF THE PHILIPPINES FOR DUMMIES, by Andre Vltchek

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VIETNAM IS WELL, BUT THAT ANGERS WESTERN IMPERIALISM, by Andre Vltchek

Hanoi skyline

Some fifteen years ago, when I lived in Hanoi, I used to come very often to the rooftop bar at the Meritus Hotel for an evening drink, just to feel the gentle breeze and to spot ancient cargo boats majestically sailing on the surface of the Red River. Sometimes the river could be clearly visible, but often it was covered by fog, like in an old Vietnamese painting.

There were villages on the horizon, consisting mainly of simple ‘tunnel’ houses, and I could also see a few skyscrapers in the center of the city. Far below, the buildings on the shores of the ‘Little Lake’ were colorful, nostalgic and picturesque.

Hanoi was melancholic and poor, but it was what it was, and one could love it or hate it, but never be indifferent to it.

It was also the capital of a socialist country, a proud country, which defeated both French and US imperialists. It was a symbol of resistance, a beacon of hope for many poor and struggling countries, and like Cuba, a living proof that a determined and proud nation could dare to stand up and even win against the mightiest and the most venomous enemies.

At some point, Meritus changed its name and its owner. It became Sofitel and just recently was converted again, this time to Pan Pacific. The rooftop bar survived. The skyscrapers grew all around the city. They now cover almost the entire horizon; suddenly Hanoi has a real skyline. You look into the distance, and what you see could be anywhere else: in Shanghai or Dallas, Bangkok or Johannesburg… but only with half-closed eyes.

Enthusiastic Communist posters have survived, or at least some of them. Others mutated and migrated to new huge modern digital billboards. They are shining into the night, and the images are constantly changing: Uncle ‘Ho’, pioneer children, workers and soldiers ready to defend their country.

“Is Vietnam still a Communist country?” I keep asking wherever I go, for years. I ask the same question in deep villages and major cities. It is because the answer seems to be essential to me. It is because so many millions of Vietnamese people died, fighting for their country and then trying to fulfill their dream of a social homeland.

The answers I receive are often evasive. For some reason, the eyes of many are downcast.

“What happened, Vietnam?” I want to ask, but Vietnam is one great and long stretch of land following the seashore; it does not speak, it does not reply to rhetorical questions. Most of its people are free to speak, they are able to reply, but for some reason they don’t. Are they confused as much as I am?

Continue reading VIETNAM IS WELL, BUT THAT ANGERS WESTERN IMPERIALISM, by Andre Vltchek

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US unleashes all demons against Venezuela, by Vicky Peláez

source: Saker Latin America

Translation by Saker Latin America

We are satisfied to present this analysis of the most recent developments in Venezuela. Within it is however implicit that the Venezuelan Government abides to the exchange duality with Colombia. In reality the root of this parity is a resolution Art 8 of the Colombian Government about which not only official delegations but also different sectors of the Venezuelan society have reacted. Here one of them.

Comunidad Saker Latinamerica

By Vicky Peláez

The US State Department is not wasting time coordinating a global attack on Venezuela. All local and external reactionary forces have come together in a frontal, economic, financial, psychological, ideological offensive against the Bolivarian revolution and all that it means.

“Any nation that decides that the only way to achieve peace is through peaceful methods, will soon be part of another nation.” (Richard Nixon, 1913-1994)

Its purpose is to punish the country with the greatest force, precisely on the eve of Christmas and the New Year, so as not to give people a respite by increasing the shortage of food, hygiene products, remedies and encouraging looting. Washington’s ‘enlightened globalizers’ have been using the same strategy against Venezuela as Henry Kissinger’s sinister Richard Nixon advised to end Salvador Allende’s socialist government in Chile in 1973: ‘let the economy scream.’ To encourage sabotage, boycott and aggression against the Venezuelan economy, Washington, with the authorization of Congress, sends the opposition no less than $ 10 million a year through numerous Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating in the country .

Coup failed in Venezuela despite massive support from the USA (Photo: Reuters)

Despite the 15 years of the Bolivarian revolution, the country’s economy remains highly dependent on the US, which is the main economic partner in key sectors such as hydrocarbons, and its main supplier for US currency. The State Department recently stated that “diplomatic tensions between the Venezuelan government and the current US administration do not affect or have anything to do with the fruitful relations and trade between the two countries”. The economic sanctions imposed by Washington on Caracas, the permanent political pressures to which the Bolivarian Government is subjected, the globalized media war, all of these assessed from the extremely cynical point of view of the White House has nothing to do with the business. As USAmericans say ‘business is business’, as if business were not a substantial part of politics.

Continue reading US unleashes all demons against Venezuela, by Vicky Peláez

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Conversation: “Human Rights Watch” vs. Professor Stephen Cohen

Watch the head of Human Rights Watch speak for Al Qaeda with a straight face. Of course, Democracy Now is itself Al Qaeda propaganda light.

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

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Conversation: Eva Bartlett Reports On The Ground Realities In Syria

Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations – Press Conference, 9 December 2016

Eva Bartlett has been to Syria 6 times since 2014, two of these trips with international delegations, the remaining four were self funded trips, she speaks fluent Arabic and has been to Aleppo four times apart from the rest of Syria as well.

This is a must hear account of actual ground reality. If you care for the truth on Syria, then have a listen.

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

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WILL VIETNAM EMBRACE CHINA AFTER TRUMP ELECTED?, by Andre Vltchek

Common wisdom says that after Donald Trump got elected in the United States, Vietnam should be in panic.

True, there could be some ‘objective’ reasons for alarm, if one is truly obsessed with the ‘free’ trade agreements.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership may soon go to the dogs and at least one sizeable part of the Vietnamese leadership was counting on it, hoping that it would boost the economy, particularly its garment and agricultural sectors.

However, Vietnam is and always was tough, and on top of it, there are many signs indicating that the public and many government and Party heads are actually demanding a more ‘hardline’ Communist path, not just more business activities.

Earlier this year, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, was re-elected, while Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was pushed from power. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported:

“Mr Dung was the party’s strongest voice in denouncing Beijing and was credited with Vietnam’s smooth accession to a US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

In brief: he was one of the main local advocates of the pro-Western foreign and economic policy, which was setting Vietnam on a dangerous crash course with China. And he is gone…

After the recent election results in the United States were announced, Vietnam is set to move much closer towards both China and Russia. President-elect Donald Trump’s ‘exceptionalist’ and often anti-Asian rhetoric is already setting off alarm bells all over the region: from Hanoi to Jakarta, and naturally from Manila to Beijing.

*

Donald Trump is now getting ready to murder the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ (the 12-nation trade pact). Vietnam, which during the previous years developed (pragmatically) a very close relationship with the Obama administration, is watching nervously. Before the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party earlier this year (and particularly since a new Constitution was adopted in 2013), Vietnam introduced and passed around 100 new laws, some described rightly or wrongly by Western analysts as ‘pro-market economic reforms’.

Undeniably, some in the Vietnamese leadership believed that their country would be one of the main beneficiaries of the TPP.

There was even some muted grumbling about the ‘growing strategic relationship’ between Vietnam and the United States.

To impress the West, particularly the United States, Hanoi kept ‘improving the business climate’, ‘easing its trade regulations and yielding to various demands from Western and Asian businesses and corporations.

Most alarmingly, Hanoi’s confrontational stand towards China was changing from rhetorical to ‘tangible’, after Vietnam began expanding its runway – and according to Reuters and other Western sources – after it began deploying several rocket launchers in or near the disputed area in the South China Sea.

*

To say that ‘Vietnam changed its basic positions opportunistically and abruptly’ would be wrong. Even before the US elections, Vietnam began ‘diversifying’ its foreign policy.

Now Hanoi is hoping for the deal that is being proposed by China: a 16-nation agreement called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would include Vietnam and the rest of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Relations between Hanoi and Beijing have been rapidly improving. It is becoming clear that Vietnam may be following the example of the Philippines, backing off permanently from the confrontational course with the most populous nation on earth. Significantly, the top Vietnamese leadership recently hosted the outspoken anti-imperialist President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. To quote Gary Sands from the Foreign Policy Blogs:

“…While the previous administration in Hanoi had angered Beijing by seeking legal advice from Manila in order to potentially file their own claim at The Hague, the new leadership under Quang appears to be backing off confrontation with Beijing, along with Manila. Any jointly-coordinated legal or military effort between Hanoi and Manila appears now to be out of the question for fear of provoking the dragon next door, while we await the outcome of hopefully peaceful bilateral negotiations.” 

The ideological stand of the Vietnamese leadership became clear following the death of the Cuban leader Fidel Castro Ruz. The country announced a day of mourning and Vietnam’s government and Party officials delivered powerful emotional revolutionary and internationalist speeches.

*

One major problem is that the Western perspective has managed to kidnap almost entirely the narrative on the country – the way all major or minor developments in Vietnam are being perceived and interpreted. This does not necessarily apply to the Vietnamese people, although many of them are actually also consuming Western propaganda at an excessive rate. However, it definitely applies to how the rest of the world understands (or misunderstands) Vietnam.

The slowing down of Doi Moi pro-market reforms is hardly addressed by Western mass media. As they hardly address any social changes in neighboring China. In Europe and the US it is generally perceived that both countries are determinately and happily embracing the market economy concepts.

The reality couldn’t be any farther from that. In China and in Vietnam (although still more in China), the majority of the population has been disappointed, even disgusted, by capitalist practices. People are demanding the re-introduction of essential socialist principles. In China, under the leadership of President Xi, the government is yielding to the people’s demands. It appears that Vietnam is paying close attention to its giant neighbor in the North, and is also willing to reconsider its hard-core pro-market stands.

The people of Vietnam may be hopeful, but they are not necessarily content, in the cities and in the countryside. Life is now better than two decades ago, but expectations are also much higher. ‘Socialism Vietnam-style’ would most likely be welcomed by the majority, and could be coming soon!

*

(First published by NEO)

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel “Aurora” and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and  Fighting Against Western Imperialism. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

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

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The Rules Of The (Trump) Game, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Sputnik News

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Pepe is one of those amazing geopolitical analysts who are right up there with the ones who can extrapolate on trends based on their vast experience and amazing insight.

Pepe recently penned an interesting piece on a Leninist in the White House and the following piece is a followup on that. Pepe is able to roll with the flow and give us some real-life evolving picture of the Empire.

Augmented Ether

————————————————————————————

Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, chosen by President-elect Donald Trump to be the new head of the Pentagon, is a model functionary of the Empire of Chaos.

His call sign is – what else – “chaos”. The Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) even shared his regular accolade; “Saint Mattis of Quantico, Patron Saint of Chaos”. The Saint in his pop incarnation comes fully equipped with a grenade and a knife.
Mad Dog may indeed be seen by the real world as, well, a mad dog; he was on the front line of the 2001 assault on Afghanistan; led the Marine assault on Baghdad during Shock and Awe in 2003; and masterminded the horrendous American destruction of Fallujah in late 2004. Widely hailed as a fine strategist, he retired as chief of CENTCOM in 2013.

The Saint may have been a purveyor of chaos across the Cheney regime-coined “Greater Middle East” – something that came with inevitable collateral damage; his creeping Iranophobia. Yet the key to his appointment is that it will focus on rebuilding the US military. William Hartung, at the Center for International Policy, A Pentagon Rising: Is a Trump Presidency Good News for the Military-Industrial Complex? notes how “Pentagon spending is one of the worst possible ways of creating jobs. Much of the money goes to service contractors, arms industry executives, and defense consultants (also known as ‘Beltway bandits’).” Moreover, “such spending is the definition of an economic dead end.”

Criticizing Trumponomics as “Reaganomics on steroids” – and that includes vast military spending – Hartung stresses that if Donald Trump really wants to create jobs, “he should obviously pursue infrastructure investment rather than dumping vast sums into weapons the country doesn’t actually need at prices it can’t afford.”

To rebuild the appalling US infrastructure is one of the top Trump campaign promises. What is to be done? My aim with this column was to launch a debate on the possible Leninist role of White House strategist Steve Bannon. Trump, like all US presidents, is obviously no Leninist. But his chief strategist does cultivate the Leninist notion of a proletariat vanguard; call it the Angry Older White American Blue Collar Male contingent; call it haters of identity liberalism, which elevated selected minorities to the status of sacred victims; or call it simply “deplorables”.

It’s this proletariat vanguard that Bannon aims to cultivate, so they lead/influence/shape policy for the foreseeable US political future, winning election after election for Republicans. They must imperatively benefit from Trump’s spun-to-death fight against neoliberal “free” trade, although it’s not clear exactly how he will privilege “in-sourcing” and not outsourcing – which is official US corporate policy. They certainly won’t benefit from a massive rebuilding of the Pentagon.

German political analyst Peter Spengler introduces a further spanner in the works, noting how Bannon, “like all scholars (or students for that matter) of Russia/Bolshevism has ignored what Kurt Riezler could have and (would want to) unearth to them in his time in exile in New York: first-hand experience and knowledge about the continuum of subterraneous and subversive ‘diplomacy’ between Germany and Russia” in the run-up towards the October Revolution.

Bets are still off on what “subversive” diplomacy the Trump era will entail – apart from a 21st century remix of the Kissinger-orchestrated “Nixon in China” moment. That would take the form of a “Trump in Russia-China” moment – as in Washington starting to normalize the treatment of those nations the Pentagon ranks as its top two “existential threats”, global projection and spheres of influence included.

That contentious phone call to Trump “initiated” by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen certainly didn’t contribute to any normalization. And no one should expect that the Brzezinski-conceptualized US global primacy, especially over Eurasia – as in “prevent the emergence of peer competitors” — will simply fade away. Pentagon reborn William Engdahl argues that the Brave New (Trump) World is all an elaborate deception. A quick look at the lucky few chosen for Trump’s plutocrat cabinet does not exactly match the Better Angels of our Nature. A New York business source, familiar with the Masters of the Universe, who actively supported the Trump program and called his election at least two weeks before the fact, offers a blunt assessment:

“Donald is an insider. Most of the advisors Engdahl refers to are wallpaper. There are three important things to consider. 1) The Supreme Court will have conservative judges. 2) There will be a rapprochement with Russia. The tilt may not be as warm to China, but we will work on that. 3) None of the Masters care about Lenin, or Thomas Cromwell, or ideologies. They care about power and money.”

As for a possible Leninist White House, “if we want to quote Lenin, it is that truth is whatever advances the class struggle. Truth to the Masters is whatever advances their agenda. If they want the Federal Reserve to expand credit, then they look for a liberal if that works, or a conservative, or monetarist, or Keynesian, etc. One of them will support expansion of credit and those that don’t will be shunted aside. They don’t care about Milton Friedman, Keynes, Marx or Lenin. It is what works for them that counts. Hillary did not work so she is out. And Bannon will do what he is told like the rest of them. And if he gets in the way, he will be fired.”

So no matter what California screams and shouts, this is the stark way the Masters will be running Trumpland. Which brings us, once again, to the rebuilding of the US military. Another business/investment source, who also actively supported the Trump economic plan during the campaign, stresses how “the present power of the Russian military industrial complex is greater than the US in many senses. And all of it is in Russia whereas most of that of the US is farmed out to Asia.”

Thus, “it is fortunate that Trump has come in as President to wind down this mad house that they call Washington. There is a consensus above the President that action must be done to rebuild the United States military on an emergency basis.” And that will be the Mad Dog’s top brief.

The source adds: “One easy way of repatriating all this industry at once is to set all defense contracts up with the stipulation that the entire plane, missile or tank must be made in the United States, thus requiring the massive repatriation of jobs and factories. That should be the first order of business at the White House under Trump as it does not require a tariff, or ending currency rigging.”

Hold on, Yalta, we’re coming Meanwhile, there’s got to be some careful management of what the disgruntled neocon/neoliberalcon galaxy called the Trump-Putin “bromance”.

Trump will most certainly re-normalize Russia and work alongside Russia to smash the Salafi-jihadi dementia in Syria; the problem is to what degree Russia and China will be able to influence Trumpland not to turn Iran into high collateral damage. Russia-China-Iran is the key alliance invested in Eurasia integration.

“Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski cannot help himself from expounding the usual narcissistic absurdities, as in suggesting the US helps Russia to “transit effectively” and become a “constructive, significant member of the global community” (it’s rather Moscow that may end up doing exactly that to Trump’s America). At the same time, it’s no wonder even Brzezinski himself is now spinning, “America is needed to pull together some larger coalition that can deal with global problems. And in that larger coalition America, China and changing Russia could be preeminent.”

“Changing” Russia in this case is code for a Russia that can be seduced, tamed and driven away from China. The key context; the Russia-China strategic partnership essentially points towards Eurasia as a vast, integrated emporium – the blending of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) with Russia’s Eurasia Economic Union (EEU).

Brzezinski, reflecting and/or influencing neoliberalcon “values”, would rather reenact Divide and Rule and try to split Russia from China – while at the same time suggesting that Trump can’t afford to be left out of the massive (Eurasia) action; there’s gotta be some sort of deal. Stay tuned for the terms of a possible upgrade; from Yalta in 1945 to… a Yalta remix in 2017?

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he’s been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of “Globalistan” (2007), “Red Zone Blues” (2007), “Obama does Globalistan” (2009) and “Empire of Chaos” (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is “2030”, also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.

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

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