Tag Archives: Russia

CPEC AND THE 21ST CENTURY CONVERGENCE OF CIVILIZATIONS, by Andrew Korybko

Source: Katehon

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.

Concept

Abstract:

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.

Continue reading CPEC AND THE 21ST CENTURY CONVERGENCE OF CIVILIZATIONS, by Andrew Korybko

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Shadow play: the New Great Game in Eurasia, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

Wayang kulit puppets in Java, Indonesia. Photo: Collection Jean François Hubert

On his return to the Asia Times fold, veteran columnist and author Pepe Escobar writes that the West’s Divide and Rule approach to global rivals may no longer cut the ice in an age of New Silk Roads

So, right in the heart of Bali, spellbound after a serious conversation with a dukun — a spiritual master — it struck me: this should be the new Yalta, the perfect setting for a Trump-Xi-Putin summit setting the parameters ahead for the ever-evolving New Great Game in Eurasia.

Balinese culture makes no distinction between the secular and the supernatural — sekala and niskala. Sekala is what our senses may discern. Niskala is what cannot be sensed directly and can only be “suggested”. Massive geopolitical shifts ahead could not be more shrouded in niskala.

Captive to the vertiginous velocity of the here and now, the West still has much to learn from a highly evolved culture that prospered 5,000 years ago along the banks or the river Sindhu — now Indus — in what is currently Pakistan, and then migrated from the Majapahit empire in Java to Bali in the 14th century under the pressure of advancing Islam.

In the Hindu-Balinese conception of cosmic structure, Man is a kind of scale model of the universe. Order is personified by Gods, disorder personified by earth demons. It’s all about dharma and adharma. As for the West, adharma rules, unchecked.

In Hindu-Balinese religious philosophy, for every positive force there is a counterbalance, a destructive force. The two are inseparable — coexisting in dynamic equilibrium. Western dualism is so unsophisticated compared to it.

In the Suthasoma — a great Mahayana Buddhist epic poem composed in central Java at the time when Buddhism was merrily mixing up with Shivaist Hinduism — we find an outstanding verse: Bhineka tunggal ika (“it is different but it is one”).

That also happens to be the motto of Indonesia, emblazoned in its coat of arms, below the golden Garuda mythical bird. It’s a message of unity, like the American e pluribus unum. Now it looks more like a message presaging Eurasian integration via the New Silk Roads; it’s not by accident that Xi Jinping officially launched the Maritime Silk Road in 2013 in Indonesia.

A passerby casts a shadow over a map illustrating China’s “One Belt, One Road” megaproject at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China, on January 18, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip

With the Trump era about to begin, our current geopolitical juncture looks and feels like a massive Wayang kulit — a Balinese shadow play.

The historical origin of the shadow play lies most possibly in India, although it has been performed all across Asia. Good and evil coexist in shadow play — but Hinduism seeks to depict the clash as a sort of quirky partnership.

Continue reading Shadow play: the New Great Game in Eurasia, by Pepe Escobar

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The Man Who Must Be Tsar, By STRATEDIPLO

When he signed “the boy who would be tsar”, the old artist Andreï Andreïevich Romanov (also known as Andrew Andreyevich Romanoff) was, surprisingly, third in the lately chaotic succession line of Russia, although earlier in life he would never have guessed that his cousins Nicholas and Dimitri, of the same generation, would both stay childless. The twenty years-long head of the Romanov house Nicholas died in september 2014, followed by his brother Dimitri on december 31, 2016. Actually Dimitri headed the imperial house just long enough to receive the state invitation to come back to Russia, and he died on the exact eve of this milestone year 2017.

The official invitation launched in june 2015, for the millennial of the death of Saint Vladimir the baptist of Russia, was also extended to Maria Vladimirovna, the self-calling “grand-duchess” (a title exclusively reserved to children and grandchildren of a reigning emperor) who claims the Tsarhood of Kiril, the 1924 self-proclaimed “tsar” never recognised by the Zemski Sobor nor the imperial house (and never reigning). Understandably, the current government cannot interfer in dynastic disputes, but it has to bring and give to Russia what the orphan country needs. Since, according to the antiquated and imperfect “Pauline” succession rules (that only an emperor in function can amend) nobody is formally eligible, the first (next) person to represent the imperial inheritage within the state can only be installed per exception. Providence will then settle the case and seal the transition. But it is impossible to embody a ghost, or a would-be in absentia (abroad). Russia needs a Romanov in Russia.

Among the most obvious advantages of any hereditary system of succession is that, since nobody choses the one (who ideally cannot refuse his duty), he is totally independent from pressure powers. But fate does sometimes do really well. An anointment of the old childless Nicholas or Dimitri would not have prevented a succession contest to appear, from the Kiril branch, at the death of Dimitri. An anointment of Andreï Andreïevich means an automatic succession by his son Alexis Andreïevich, born in 1953, bringing therefore a stability expectancy of (according to the three precedents) about thirty years, largely enough to secure and normalise the position before the question of his own succession. Providence did provide. Now men (Andreï and Alexis) must comply with their call to duty. They will be fed there.

In June 2015, while the Leningrad Region proposed to officially host the invited returnees in an imperial residency in Saint Petersburg, Vladimir Petrov proposed also the Livadia palace in Crimea, therefore obviously speaking in behalf of the presidency of the Federation. The protocolar position would be to represent and in body the dynasty and the nation, and was then compared to the position of the king or queen in nowadays United Kingdom and Netherlands. Of course the government could only pass the authority it has, meaning constitutional. From a constitutional law point of view, and alike an emperor, an institutionally recognised embodiment of the imperial history (which is the position currently proposed by the Russian government) cannot be promoted above by any body of lower hierarchy, therefore to go further Russia will need to resort to the only bodies that have more historical and social legitimacy than the current constitutional state, that is the Church and the civil society. This could come later, the Russian peoples realising again that a big country cannot rely on the good will of temporary elected fill-in volunteers but needs a stable institution providing a long-term direction regardless of the merits, competencies and longevity of individuals.

As for now, the Russian government is ready to give, within the state, a permanent institutional status to the imperial family before the commemorations of the revolution and the assassinations. Russia urgently needs to attribute the honorary presidency of the 2017 re-conciliatory celebrations. Further events belong to future History.

May Dimitri rest in peace. May Andreï and Alexis move on now.

www.stratediplo.blogspot.com

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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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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US, British ‘Clean House’ to Delete Syria Terror Links, by Finian Cunningham

Source: Information Clearing House

protest2

November 15, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – “SCF” –  US President Barack Obama has just given the Pentagon orders to assassinate commanders of the Al Nusra terror network in Syria. American media reports over the weekend say the new urgency arises from US intelligence fears that al Qaeda-affiliated groups are preparing to mount terror attacks against Western targets from strongholds in Syria.

The purported US «kill list» will be acted on through drone strikes and «intelligence assets». The latter refers, presumably, to US special forces that are already operating in northern Syria alongside Turkish military.

Last week, a similar announcement was carried in the British press, which reported that elite British SAS troops had received orders to kill up to 200 jihadi volunteers from Britain who are suspected to be active in Syria (and Iraq). Again, the same rationale was invoked as in the latest American plan. That the assassination program was to pre-empt terror attacks rebounding on Western states.

A British defense official was quoted as saying that the mission could be the most important ever undertaken by the SAS in its entire 75-year history. «The hunt is on», said the official, «to take out some very bad people».

Significantly, too, the British SAS kill operations in Syria are reportedly being carried out as part of a «multinational effort». That suggests that the Pentagon’s initiative reported this weekend in being coordinated with the British.

However, there is something decidedly odd about this sudden determination by the Americans and British to eliminate terrorists in Syria. Continue reading US, British ‘Clean House’ to Delete Syria Terror Links, by Finian Cunningham

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The Breakaway Civilisation, by Mohsin Siddiqui

Illustration by Steve Cutts @ http://www.stevecutts.com/
Illustration by Steve Cutts @ http://www.stevecutts.com/

The US elections much like the rest of our usual daily consumption of Mass Media are more about stage managed theatre with bucket loads of Americanism, a seasoning of hyperbole and most certainly reality-free. The constant barrage of infotainment from the indispensable nation, the exceptional nation and the benign super power tells us of a distinct desire to consume information reality-free.

This informational GMO has permeated every facet of our existence and has infected the minds of billions around the world. It can be ridiculed, seen as inferior or even unsustainable. But do understand that it is the food for the liberal soul and it is a formidable force to be reckoned with.

Human beings drive the vast bulk of their understanding of the world through information either delivered directly via consumable media or indirectly via peer impressions, religion, anecdotes, fables and cultural norms. All of it ultimately centres on the flow of information which is a commodity that has been designed, refined, repackaged and is continually ‘improved’. Most of us underestimate the true awesome power of mass media, we read the statistics, the concentration of power and observe the echo chamber yet we still need to let it all sink in to truly grasp what it means.

Mass media is the encapsulation of the spectrum of information; From magazine to sports to history to business to politics, it is driven by a seamless thread of a philosophy guiding the ego & soul towards an atomised individualistic view of the world. It is an echo chamber that has not seen its parallel before on this planet, an organ to shape reality for the billions. A human being is a hodge-podge of history, culture, religion, philosophy, geography, epigenetics and a host of many more layers of information. Mass Media is the flute that organises this cacophony into a melody, and just like that a marionette of the modern man is born.

Resistance to the pied piper is possible but requires one to leave that womb of comfort that the information matrix provides with its legions of followers; That feeling of belonging, of being understood, of being ‘right’ and of being good. The strength can only come from reality but in our upside down world many are malnourished on the diet of GM information and it is not a problem for only Americans – who are severely affected – but instead it is a global phenomenon.

Successful entrepreneurs, businessmen, academics, financial experts, journalists, neighbours, friends, brothers, sisters and parents can all be entangled in the web of the information matrix.  Many of us have been at pains to explain the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Ukraine and Yemen to our colleagues and friends but it is as if the words fall on deaf ears. The cognitive dissonance is heavy and the Teflon like value-matrix – a product of pre-packaged popularly accepted globalised values- lets all facts, figures and evidence that we present slip off. It is about the first woman president elect and not her war crimes, it is about the opposing camp saying that a racist, misogynist bigot is worse than a psychopathic mass murderer. It is inverted reality. It is full on dystopia.

Where do you begin to explain that elections are for the most part mere stage managed theatre? That the USA is an Empire of 1,000 military bases and not a country? That Obama the peace maker has incinerated civilians in 7 countries with impunity? That Hillary’s black lives did not matter for whole black Libyan towns that were extinguished? That President Asad’s Syria is LGBTQ friendly and the “Syrian revolution” that never was is the opposite? Or that it simply is not about personality politics, gay rights and black lives but is about a class struggle?

Continue reading The Breakaway Civilisation, by Mohsin Siddiqui

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A Collection Of Thoughts About American Foreign Policy, by William Blum

source: The Anti-Empire Report

Louis XVI needed a revolution, Napoleon needed two historic military defeats, the Spanish Empire in the New World needed multiple revolutions, the Russian Czar needed a communist revolution, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires needed World War I, Nazi Germany needed World War II, Imperial Japan needed two atomic bombs, the Portuguese Empire in Africa needed a military coup at home, the Soviet Empire needed Mikhail Gorbachev … What will the American Empire need?

“I don’t believe anyone will consciously launch World War III. The situation now is more like the eve of World War I, when great powers were armed and ready to go when an incident set things off. Ever since Gorbachev naively ended the Cold War, the hugely over-armed United States has been actively surrounding Russia with weapons systems, aggressive military exercises, NATO expansion. At the same time, in recent years the demonization of Vladimir Putin has reached war propaganda levels. Russians have every reason to believe that the United States is preparing for war against them, and are certain to take defensive measures. This mixture of excessive military preparations and propaganda against an “evil enemy” make it very easy for some trivial incident to blow it all up.” – Diana Johnstone, author of “Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton”

In September 2013 President Obama stood before the United Nations General Assembly and declared, “I believe America is exceptional.” The following year at the UN, the president classified Russia as one of the three threats to the world along with the Islamic State and the ebola virus. On March 9, 2015 President Barack Obama declared Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.

Vladimir Putin, speaking at the UN in 2015, addressing the United States re its foreign policy: “Do you realize what you have done?”

Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

  1. Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
  2. Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
  3. Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
  4. Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
  5. Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.*
  6. Plus … although not easily quantified … has been more involved in the practice of torture than any other country in the world … for over a century … not just performing the actual torture, but teaching it, providing the manuals, and furnishing the equipment.

*See chapter 18 of William Blum, “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower”

On October 28, 2016 Russia was voted off the UN Human Rights Council. At the same time Saudi Arabia won a second term, uncontested. Does anyone know George Orwell’s email address?

A million refugee from Washington’s warfare are currently over-running Europe. They’re running from Afghanistan and Iraq; from Libya and Somalia; from Syria and Pakistan.

Germany is taking in many Syrian refugees because of its World War Two guilt. What will the United States do in the future because of its guilt? But Americans are not raised to feel such guilt.
Continue reading A Collection Of Thoughts About American Foreign Policy, by William Blum

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