The current century presents a plethora of strategic opportunities for Pakistan, provided that Islamabad knows how to pluck the low-hanging fruit and take the initiative. The steady development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is making the country ever more attractive for a wide variety of international partners, some of which have traditionally been aligned with Pakistan, and others which are entirely new and unprecedented. No matter which of the two categories these states fall under, it’s evident that they’re all interested in taking advantage of this game-changing series of infrastructure projects.
Never before has China had a reliable overland trade corridor to the Indian Ocean, and this in turn opens up a wide range of options for the People’s Republic and its economic partners. Moreover, the eventual completion of CPEC will allow Russia and the landlocked states of Central Asia to more easily conduct commerce with the broader Indian Ocean Region, thereby leading to the creation of previously uncharted trade routes which will invigorate each set of partners and profit the irreplaceable transit state of Pakistan. In terms of the bigger picture, each crisscrossing network of economic connections in one way or another is expected to pass through Pakistan by means of CPEC, thereby empowering Islamabad to leverage its crucial geostrategic position in pursuit of its national interests.
The convergence of so many diverse civilizational actors – including Europeans, Russians, Turks, Arabs, Iranians, Chinese, and Africans – in one state is made possible by Beijing’s One Belt One Road vision of global connectivity as manifested through CPEC, and it accordingly allows for Pakistan to mediate over a dialogue of civilizations in the 21st century. This is a pivotal role of the utmost importance and highest responsibility, and it has the very real potential of transforming Pakistan from a regional leader to a hemispheric Great Power within the next decade. This analysis will thus explore the way in which this grand strategy can be actualized, sequentially describing the overall concept, the various civilizational-connectivity channels, and the challenges that Pakistan can expect to face.
The economic attractiveness of CPEC serves as an irresistible magnet for all sorts of various actors to utilize its infrastructural connectivity in facilitating their trade objectives, whether it’s enhancing bilateral trade with China such as the EU, Mideast, and African states may naturally be interested in, or in acquiring a convenient outlet to the Indian Ocean such as what Russia and the Central Asian republics desire. The convergence of so many civilizational forces in Pakistan will propel the South Asian state to worldwide importance by gifting its leaders with the impressive potential to serve as the common middle ground between each of them, both literally in terms of CPEC connectivity and figuratively as it relates to the broader dialogue of civilizations concept.
The latter objective is wholly dependent on the former, meaning that Pakistan is unlikely to bring together a wide array of hemispheric interests and actors if the CPEC project isn’t completed or is severely undermined after the fact. Conversely, the completion of CPEC will enable Pakistan to do just that, which thus propels the country’s significance to global heights. The second and largest part of this research will describe the different connectivity channels that CPEC opens up between Pakistan and the rest of Afro-Eurasia, but at this point a lot more needs to be said about the grand strategy behind this exciting endeavor.
Once CPEC becomes fully operational, Pakistan will unofficially become China’s most important gateway to the rest of the world. Although the People’s Republic currently engages in a staggering amount of trade with each of its countless partners, the vast majority of this is conducted via maritime routes which traverse the bottlenecked chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca and the contentious waters of the South China Sea, both of which are uncomfortably vulnerable to an American blockade or similar sort of interference in the event of a conflict between the two Great Powers. It’s mostly for this reason and due to the foresight of Chinese strategists that Beijing decided to pioneer an overland trade route to the Indian Ocean through CPEC, relying on its decades-long and all-weather friendship with Pakistan in order to make this a reality.
They were marching shoulder-to-shoulder, young and old, in absolute silence. Some were carrying small placards with names and photos of their loved ones, who disappeared four decades ago, during the pro-Western dictatorship here in Uruguay.
The entire center of Montevideo came to a standstill. Blocks and blocks of this marvelous city were literally inundated by the river consisting of human bodies.
Then, in front of the municipality, the silence was broken. A huge screen above the square lit up, and photographs of each man and woman who disappeared, suddenly emerged, one by one. When no photograph was available, a gray contour was projected on the white screen. Two voices, one of a man, and one of a woman, were reading names of the victims. And the crowd chanted back in unison: “Presente!”
One block further, the “March of Silence” ended. The national anthem of Uruguay resonated across the old city. Some people stood still, in silent salute and reverence, others fell into each other’s arms, weeping openly and uncontrollably.
Uruguay, at least to some extent a socialist country, was still standing. All over the continent, however, left-wing governments were collapsing, under the terrible weight of constitutional coups as well as the media and business manipulations of the ‘elites’ and the Empire.
Argentina was crying out in pain under the neoliberal President Mauricio Macri, while the great Brazilian nation – fooled, cheated and spat at – was just slowly and painfully waking up after the long night of a shameless coup that brought a corrupt lackey and snitch of the West – Michel Temer – to power.
But even in Uruguay, the old establishment was still clinging to power, blocking many essential changes, resisting and silencing the calls for justice.
Around 300 people disappeared in tiny Uruguay during the extreme right-wing dictatorship (1973-85), of course much less than in Argentina or Chile.
“But that is enough. Enough!” An old lady who was holding a placard with the image of her sister told me. “300 are much more than enough. We want justice and truth. Because without those, there could be no real progress in this country.”
One of the posters read:
AGAINST IMPUNITY OF THE PAST AND PRESENT! TRUTH AND JUSTICE!
Other placards were much more explicit:
NO FORGETTING NO FORGIVENESS!
And an even stronger one:
THEY ARE INSIDE US, SHOUTING ‘REVOLUTION!’
“This is so impressive, so touching!” whispers my friend Lilian Soto, a leading Paraguayan left-wing politician and former MP and Presidential candidate. “I have already participated in this march on several occasions. I really love this country!”
I briefly speak to my colleague and comrade from TeleSur, who is covering this great event for the entire Latin America and the world.
This year, after what happened in neighboring Argentina and Brazil, the march is gaining great symbolism. Cuban flags are flying, not far from the great Uruguayan Cinemateque, where my film about the US-backed 1965 coup in Indonesia had been shown, many years ago. In front of the statue of Socrates, a man poses, proudly, wrapped in a huge Brazilian flag.
“Those flags were just personal statements by several individuals,” explains my friend, Uruguayan journalist and activist Agustin Fernandez. “The demonstration was still mainly about the crimes committed by our past dictatorship.”
Mainly, yes; but those men and women I spoke to, on the night of 21 May, in the center of Montevideo, appeared to be extremely concerned about the macabre developments shaking the neighboring countries.
In Latin America, as well as all around the world, everything is clearly inter-connected. The West; the Empire, are behind almost all the horrid crimes against the humanity.
A great Greek film director, Costa Gavras, depicted the Uruguayan dictatorship and the Yankee involvement (a story of a US diplomat and expert in torture, who was kidnapped by the Uruguayan resistance group Tupamaros), in his iconic film “State of Siege” (1973).
The US and the West were behind the disappearances and torture in this historically peaceful and democratic country… as they were responsible for the horrors of fascist dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and elsewhere… and just as they are accountable for the recent ‘events’ in Argentina and Brazil.
Who said that the US was ‘too busy in the Middle East, while also provoking Russia and China?’ Who said that ‘the Empire finally closed its eyes, stopped looking south?’ It never does! It never sleeps!
Walking down the streets of Montevideo, photographing and talking to the marching masses, on several occasions I was tempted to shout:
“Hugo Chavez Frias!”
“Salvador Allende Gossens!”
Expecting to hear those loud, clear and proud voices replying to me: “Presente!”
It takes one revolutionary to know what is at stake when the world watches the circus. This recent piece by Andre is one such piece, from the heart.
First used by Counterpunch
By: Andre Vltchek
Enough weeping! Latin America has wept incessantly, continuously, for years, decades and centuries. Its people robbed of everything since the days of Columbus, since Potosi. Tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions have been slaughtered here, in the last five centuries; first by the conquerors, then by their descendants and serfs, and finally by the Empire of Lies as well as the treasonous local ‘elites’.
Enough weeping, comrades! It is time to use force.
Whenever people stood up, whenever true Latin American heroes liberated their lands, by reason or by force, the bloodbath was administered almost immediately, from across the seas, or from the North. Tanks rolled through the avenues and squares, and combat airplanes and helicopters sprayed bombs and bullets all over Presidential palaces, as well as the countryside. People were hunted down like animals, dragged to stadiums and factories, to underground cellars, and there they were violated, tortured and slaughtered.
That’s their democracy! Thank you, but no more of that.
Why did all those horrors take place? Because there was always a clear consensus among the rulers in Washington, in most of the European capitals, and the reigning classes in all Latin American countries: Latinos are here to serve the West, to be governed from the North. If some Latin country opted to act ‘irresponsibly’ (to paraphrase Henry Kissinger), it had to be reminded where it belongs: it had to be smashed to pieces, bathed in blood and thoroughly humiliated.
Such treatment was administered on countless occasions, and it happened virtually everywhere – from the Dominican Republic to Chile, and from Brazil to Nicaragua.
During the last twenty years things changed.
Venezuela stood up. It roared, clenched its fists and won, sending tremors of hope to all corners of the World. It could be done; it really could be done after all, carajo! Bolivian people shouted in a clear, indignant and beautiful voice: this is our land and these are our indigenous colors; this is our air and our water! Then they fought, and some died but the nation won. Ecuador rose from its knees, changing the lives of millions of historically oppressed people. Argentina refused to pay unjust debts, and instead attempted to build a just and socialist society. Chile, step by step, was shedding its horrid legacy of the Pinochet era, throwing many of those responsible for its macabre rape into prisons.
In so many different ways (from the quiet and slow Uruguayan way, to the militant revolutionary way chosen by Venezuela), a once broken continent with the greatest disparities on Earth was gradually resurrected. What a beautiful mosaic! All of a sudden, it broke its shackles, and then threw them into the smelters, casting new iron and steel, so the plows and powerful foundations for new hospitals and schools could be erected.
Never in modern political history has it been so easy to “abolish the people” and simply erase 54 million votes cast in a free and fair presidential election.
Forget about hanging chads, as in Florida 2000. This is a day that will live in infamy all across the Global South – when what was one of its most dynamic democracies veered into a plutocratic regime, under a flimsy parliamentary/judicial veneer, with legal and constitutional guarantees now at the mercy of lowly comprador elites.
After the proverbial marathon, the Brazilian Senate voted 55-22 to put President Dilma Rousseff on trial for “crimes of responsibility” – related to alleged window dressing of the government’s budget.
This is the culmination of a drawn-out process that started even before Rousseff won re-election in late 2014 with over 54 million votes. I have described the bunch of perpetrators of what Brazilian creativity has termed ‘golpeachment’ (a mix of coup – “golpe” in Portuguese – and impeachment) as Hybrid War hyenas.
Sophisticated golpeachment – supported by what amounts to an Electoral Inquisition College – has propelled Hybrid War to whole new levels.
Hybrid War as applied to Brazil exhibited classic elements of a color revolution. Of course there was no need for no-fly zones or humanitarian imperialism to “protect human rights” – not to mention provoking a civil war. But considering the high resistance level of the victim state, where civil society is very dynamic, Hybrid War designers in this case bet on a mix of capitulation – and betrayal – of local elites, mixed with “peaceful protests” and a relentless mainstream media campaign. Call it ‘Civil War Light.’
That carried with it a fabulous cost-benefit ratio. Now the (immensely corrupt) Brazilian political system and the current executive/legislative/judiciary/mainstream media alignment can be used by the usual suspects for their geopolitical agenda.
Welcome to regime change light – politics, in a nutshell – as war by other means on the BRICS. A new software, a new operating system. Carrying a pathetic corollary; if the US is the Empire of Chaos, Brazil has now gloriously reached the status of Sub-Empire of Scoundrels.
Rousseff may be accused of serious economic mismanagement, and of being incapable of political articulation among the shark pool that is (immensely corrupt) Brazilian politics. But she is not corrupt. She made a serious mistake in fighting inflation, allowing interest rates to rise to an unsustainable level; so demand in Brazil dramatically dropped, and recession became the norm. She is the (convenient) scapegoat for Brazil’s recession.
She certainly may be blamed for not having a Plan B to fight the global recession. Brazil essentially works on two pillars; commodity exports and local companies relying on the teats of the state. Infrastructure in general is dismal – adding to what is described as the “Brazilian cost” of doing business. With the commodity slump, state funds dwindled and everything was paralyzed – credit, investment, consumption.
The pretext for Rousseff’s impeachment – allegedly transferring loans from public banks to the Treasury in order to disguise the size of Brazil’s fiscal deficit – is flimsy at best. Every administration in the West does it – and that includes Clinton’s, Bush’s and Obama’s.
The Operation Car Wash investigation, dragging on for two years now, was supposed to uncover corruption in the Brazilian political system – as in the collusion of oil giant Petrobras executives, Brazilian construction companies, and political campaign financing. Car Wash has nothing to do with the golpeachment drive. Yet these have been two parallel highways converging to one destination: the criminalization of the Workers’ Party, and the definitive – if possible – political assassination of Rousseff and her mentor, former President Lula.
When golpeachment reached the lower house of Congress – an appalling spectacle – Rousseff was eviscerated by Hybrid War hyenas of the BBC variety; “BBC,” in English, stands for “bullet,”“bible” and “cattle,” where “bullet” refers to the weapons and private security industry, “bible” to pastors and evangelical fanatics, and “cattle” to the powerful agribusiness lobby.
The “BBC” hyenas are members of almost all Brazilian political parties, paperboys for major corporations, and – last but not least – corruption stalwarts. They all benefited from millionaire political campaigning. The whole Car Wash investigation ultimately revolves around campaign financing, which in Brazil, unlike the US with its legalized lobbies, is a Tarantino-worthy Wild West.
The Brazilian Senate is not exactly an “upper” – as in more polished – house. Eighty percent of members are white men – in a country where miscegenation rules. A staggering 58 percent is under criminal investigation – linked to Car Wash. Sixty percent hail from political dynasties. And 13 percent – as alternates – were not elected at all. Among those favoring impeachment, 30 out of 49 are in trouble with the law. Charges include mostly money laundering, financial crimes and outright corruption. Renan Calheiros, the president of the Senate – who oversaw today’s impeachment vote – is the target of no fewer than nine separate money laundering/corruption Car Wash lines of investigation, plus another two criminal probes.
Meet the three Banana Republic amigos
Rousseff is now suspended for a maximum 180 days while a Senate committee decides whether to impeach her for good. Enter President-in-Waiting Michel Temer – a dodgy, shady operator – who has been branded a “usurper” by Rousseff. And usurper this provincial Brutus certainly is – according to his own words. On March 30 last year, he was tweeting that,“Impeachment is unthinkable, it would create an institutional crisis. There is no judicial or political basis for it.”
His administration is born with the original sin of being illegal and massively unpopular; his approval rating floats between an epic 1 percent and 2 percent. He was already fined last week for violating campaign finance limits. And, predictably, he’s drowning in a corruption swamp – named in two Car Wash plea bargains and accused of being part of an illegal scheme of ethanol buying; he may become ineligible for the next eight years. Almost 60 percent of Brazilians also want him impeached – on the same charges leveled against Rousseff.
Brutus 1 (Temer) would not bask in the glow of his 15 minutes of fame without the shenanigans of Brutus 2 (Brazil’s number one crook, former speaker of the lower house Eduardo Cunha, facing charges of bribery and perjury, holder of illegal Swiss accounts, and now finally sidelined by the Supreme Court). It was Brutus 2 who fast-tracked impeachment as pure vengeance; the Workers’ Party did not cover his back as he was facing a tsunami of corruption charges. Brutus 2 used all his vast powers – he runs a campaign financing scam inside Congress – to obstruct the Car Wash investigation. His replacement, the interim speaker, is also under investigation for bribery.
So meet Temer, Cunha, Calheiros; these three amigos are the true stars of the Banana Republic of Scoundrels/Crooks.
As if the Supreme Court would be rascal-free. Judge Gilmar Mendes, for instance, is a lowly plutocrat vassal. When an attorney for the government entered a motion to suspend impeachment, he quipped, “Ah, they can go to heaven, to the Pope, or to hell.” Another pompous judge received a request to sideline Cunha as early as December 2015. He only examined the request over four months later, when the whole golpeachment scam was in its decisive phase. And still he argued, “there’s no proof Cunha contaminated the impeachment process.”
Finally, complementing the whole scam, we find Brazilian mainstream media, with the toxic Globo media empire – which lavishly profited from the 1964 military coup – at the forefront.
All hail the neoliberal restoration
Wall Street – as well as the City of London – could not hide its excitement with golpeachment, believing Brutus 1 Temer will be an economic upgrade. Arguably, he might dare to tweak Brazil’s Kafkaesque tax code and do something about the enormous hole in the pension system. But what that mythical entity – the “markets” – and myriad “investors” are salivating about is the prospect of fabulous rates of return in a reopened-for-speculation Brazil. The Brutus 1 game will be a neoliberal feast, actually a restoration, with no popular representation whatsoever.
The golpeachment gang gets really incensed when they are identified as coup plotters. Still, they could not give a damn about the OAS, Mercosur, Unasur – all of them condemned the coup – not to mention the Holy Grail: the BRICS. Under Brutus 1, the Foreign Ministry, to be led by a sore loser senator, is bound to sink Brazil’s key role in BRICS cooperation, to the benefit of Exceptionalistan.
All one needs to know is that neither Nobel Peace Prize-winner Barack “kill list” Obama nor Queen of Chaos Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton condemned the ongoing regime change light/golpeachment. That’s predictable, considering Exceptionalistan’sNSA spied on Petrobras and Dilma Rousseff personally – the genesis of what would develop as the Car Wash investigation.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest limited himself to the proverbial platitudes: “challenging moment”; “trust in Brazilian democratic institutions”; or even “mature democracy.” Yet he added, significantly, that Brazil is “under scrutiny.”
Of course, the current stage of a very sophisticated Hybrid War strategy has been accomplished. But there are countless cliffhangers ahead. The Car Wash investigation – currently in slow motion – will pick up speed as a rash of dodgy plea bargains is already in store to create the conditions to criminalize for good not only Dilma Rousseff but the key piece in the chessboard: Lula.
Game over? Not so fast. The anti-golpeachment front does have a strategy: to imprint especially in “deep Brazil,” the vast masses of the working poor, the notion of illegality; to rebuild Rousseff’s image as the victim of a profound injustice; to re-energize the progressive political front; to make sure the Brutus 1 government will fail; and to create the conditions for the man who will come in from the cold to win the 2018 presidential elections.
Brazilian House of Cards? Bets could be made this may even end up as Anaconda, with Lula immobilizing the Hybrid War hyenas in a cobra clutch.