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vendredi, 30 décembre 2016

What is Henry Kissinger Up To?

The English language Russian news agency, Sputnik, reports that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is advising US president-elect Donald Trump how to “bring the United States and Russia closer together to offset China’s military buildup.”

If we take this report at face value, it tells us that Kissinger, an old cold warrior, is working to use Trump’s commitment to better relations with Russia in order to separate Russia from its strategic alliance with China.

China’s military buildup is a response to US provocations against China and US claims to the South China Sea as an area of US national interests. China does not intend to attack the US and certainly not Russia.

Kissinger, who was my colleague at the Center for Strategic and International studies for a dozen years, is aware of the pro-American elites inside Russia, and he is at work creating for them a “China threat” that they can use in their effort to lead Russia into the arms of the West. If this effort is successful, Russia’s sovereignty will be eroded exactly as has the sovereignty of every other country allied with the US.

At President Putin’s last press conference, journalist Marat Sagadatov asked if Russia wasn’t already subject to forms of foreign semi-domination: “Our economy, industry, ministries and agencies often follow the rules laid down by international organizations and are managed by consulting companies. Even our defense enterprises have foreign consulting firms auditing them.” The journalist asked, “if it is not the time to do some import substitution in this area too?”

Every Russian needs to understand that being part of the West means living by Washington’s rules. The only country in the Western Alliance that has an independent foreign and economic policy is the US.

All of us need to understand that although Trump has been elected president, the neoconservatives remain dominant in US foreign policy, and their commitment to the hegemony of the US as the uni-power remains as strong as ever. The neoconservative ideology has been institutionalized in parts of the CIA, State Department and Pentagon. The neoconservatives retain their influence in media, think tanks, university faculties, foundations, and in the Council on Foreign Relations.

We also need to understand that Trump revels in the role of tough guy and will say things that can be misinterpreted as my friend, Finian Cunningham, whose columns I read, usually with appreciation, might have done.

I do not know that Trump will prevail over the vast neoconservative conspiracy. However, it seems clear enough that he is serious about reducing the tensions with Russia that have been building since President Clinton violated the George H. W. Bush administration’s promise that NATO would not expand one inch to the East. Unless Trump were serious, there is no reason for him to announce Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as his choice for Secretary of State. In 2013 Mr. Tillerson was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship.

As Professor Michel Chossudovsky has pointed out, a global corporation such as Exxon has interests different from those of the US military/security complex. The military/security complex needs a powerful threat, such as the former “Soviet threat” which has been transformed into the “Russian threat,” in order to justify its hold on an annual budget of approximately one trillion dollars. In contrast, Exxon wants to be part of the Russian energy business. Therefore, as Secretary of State, Tillerson is motivated to achieve good relations between the US and Russia, whereas for the military/security complex good relations undermine the orchestrated fear on which the military/security budget rests.

Clearly, the military/security complex and the neoconservatives see Trump and Tillerson as threats, which is why the neoconservatives and the armaments tycoons so strongly opposed Trump and why CIA Director John Brennan made wild and unsupported accusations of Russian interference in the US presidential election.

trump-kissinger.jpg

The lines are drawn. The next test will be whether Trump can obtain Senate confirmation of his choice of Tillerson as Secretary of State.

The myth is widespread that President Reagan won the cold war by breaking the Soviet Union financially with an arms race. As one who was involved in Reagan’s effort to end the cold war, I find myself yet again correcting the record.

Reagan never spoke of winning the cold war. He spoke of ending it. Other officials in his government have said the same thing, and Pat Buchanan can verify it.

Reagan wanted to end the Cold War, not win it. He spoke of those “godawful” nuclear weapons. He thought the Soviet economy was in too much difficulty to compete in an arms race. He thought that if he could first cure the stagflation that afflicted the US economy, he could force the Soviets to the negotiating table by going through the motion of launching an arms race. “Star wars” was mainly hype. (Whether or nor the Soviets believed the arms race threat, the American leftwing clearly did and has never got over it.)

Reagan had no intention of dominating the Soviet Union or collapsing it. Unlike Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama, he was not controlled by neoconservatives. Reagan fired and prosecuted the neoconservatives in his administration when they operated behind his back and broke the law.

The Soviet Union did not collapse because of Reagan’s determination to end the Cold War. The Soviet collapse was the work of hardline communists, who believed that Gorbachev was loosening the Communist Party’s hold so quickly that Gorbachev was a threat to the existence of the Soviet Union and placed him under house arrest. It was the hardline communist coup against Gorbachev that led to the rise of Yeltsin. No one expected the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The US military/security complex did not want Reagan to end the Cold War, as the Cold War was the foundation of profit and power for the complex. The CIA told Reagan that if he renewed the arms race, the Soviets would win because the Soviets controlled investment and could allocate a larger share of the economy to the military than Reagan could.

Reagan did not believe the CIA’s claim that the Soviet Union could prevail in an arms race. He formed a secret committee and gave the committee the power to investigate the CIA’s claim that the US would lose an arms race with the Soviet Union. The committee concluded that the CIA was protecting its prerogatives. I know this because I was a member of the committee.

American capitalism and the social safety net would function much better without the drain on the budget of the military/security complex. It is correct to say that the military/security complex wants a major threat, not an actual arms race. Stateless Muslim terrorists are not a sufficient threat to such a massive US military, and the trouble with an actual arms race, as opposed to a threat, is that the US armaments corporations would have to produce weapons that work instead of cost overruns that boost profits.

The latest US missile ship has twice broken down and had to be towed into port. The F-35 has cost endless money, has a variety of problems and is already outclassed. The Russian missiles are hypersonic. The Russian tanks are superior. The explosive power of the Russian Satan II ICBM is terrifying. The morale of the Russian forces is high. They have not been exhausted from 15 years of fighting without much success pointless wars against women and children.

Washington, given the corrupt nature of the US military/security complex, can arms race all it wants without being a danger to Russia or China, much less to the strategic alliance between the two powers.

The neoconservatives are discredited, but they are still a powerful influence on US foreign policy. Until Trump relegates them to the ideological backwaters, Russia and China had best hold on to their strategic alliance. Anyone attempting to break this alliance is a threat to both Russia and China, and to America and to life on earth.

mercredi, 03 septembre 2014

Deciphering Henry

Deciphering Henry

Kissinger_Shan9.jpgHenry Kissinger is out with an essay in the Wall Street Journal “on the Assembly of a New World Order” (HT Ed Steer).  Some parts of it are rather difficult to understand or interpret (is it written in code that only the elite can decipher?).  I will attempt to go through it line by line (probably not every single line) and see if, by the time I finish, I can make some sense of it.

Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan’s young democracy is on the verge of paralysis.

Translated: Pretty much everything touched by the US government in the last ten years has turned into a disaster.

To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination.

Translated: Look, Nixon and I handed China to you on a silver platter; the Soviets crumbled just as Mises said they must (whoops, I let that slip – is it too late to take it back? I meant because Reagan spent the Soviets into bankruptcy).  So, basically, pretty much everything touched by the US government in the last ten years has turned into a disaster.

The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis.

Translated: How could the US government screw-up all of the work we have done to consolidate global governance?

Hopefully, my emphasis on this point has properly conveyed that I consider this opening paragraph to offer an important admission by Henry.

The search for world order has long been defined almost exclusively by the concepts of Western societies. In the decades following World War II, the U.S.—strengthened in its economy and national confidence—began to take up the torch of international leadership and added a new dimension.

Translated: The US government was sitting in the cat-bird’s seat coming out of World War Two, virtually unscathed and in control of every meaningful global institution.

A nation founded explicitly on an idea of free and representative governance, the U.S. identified its own rise with the spread of liberty and democracy and credited these forces with an ability to achieve just and lasting peace.

781183.jpgIt is interesting that he uses the term “governance” and not government.  In any case, here Henry is spitting out the party line that the US spread its influence far and wide only for the benefit of bringing “free and representative governance” to the downtrodden (brown and yellow, usually) people of the world.

The traditional European approach to order had viewed peoples and states as inherently competitive; to constrain the effects of their clashing ambitions, it relied on a balance of power and a concert of enlightened statesmen.

Europe always played it strategically via balance-of-power politics.  This, of course, left one side out of Anglo-elite influence.  The American approach (not to mention the American military and economic power) broadened the reach of the elite.

The prevalent American view considered people inherently reasonable and inclined toward peaceful compromise and common sense; the spread of democracy was therefore the overarching goal for international order.

Translated: Democracy fooled the Americans into thinking they were free; we thought that it would fool all of those brown and yellow people, too.

Free markets would uplift individuals, enrich societies and substitute economic interdependence for traditional international rivalries.

Translated: This is why we never allowed free markets to develop.

This effort to establish world order has in many ways come to fruition. A plethora of independent sovereign states govern most of the world’s territory.

Translated: The objective was to establish a plethora of superficially independent sovereign states governing all of the world’s territories.  Through these sovereign states, control could be exercised over the people now being fooled into believing that the government represented their interests.  And the states were allowed to remain superficially sovereign as long as they didn’t want to become actually sovereign (e.g. Hussein and Gadhafi).

The years from perhaps 1948 to the turn of the century marked a brief moment in human history when one could speak of an incipient global world order composed of an amalgam of American idealism and traditional European concepts of statehood and balance of power.

Most of the period cited by Henry includes the so-called cold war with the Soviet Union. The period also included communist China supposedly apart from the west.  Yet, here he declares something approaching victory.  Were China and Russia in on the game?  Or were they more like useful foils in extending the game?

Henry sees trouble brewing: “The order established and proclaimed by the West stands at a turning point.”  In different ways, Barzun and Van Creveld would say the same thing.

First, the nature of the state itself—the basic formal unit of international life—has been subjected to a multitude of pressures.

Henry goes on to explain some of these “pressures,” for example, that the European amalgamation is not going so well, “…Europe has not yet given itself attributes of statehood, tempting a vacuum of authority internally and an imbalance of power along its borders.”

It is interesting how casually he mentions, almost as an aside, that the objective was to create a single, unified, European state.

Further, the Middle East is coming apart:

At the same time, parts of the Middle East have dissolved into sectarian and ethnic components in conflict with each other; religious militias and the powers backing them violate borders and sovereignty at will, producing the phenomenon of failed states not controlling their own territory.

Kiss51V1z.jpgWhile likely to have happened eventually anyway (arbitrary borders established in Paris at the end of the Great War were not going to last forever), clearly the US government moved this along significantly.

The international order…faces a paradox: Its prosperity is dependent on the success of globalization, but the process produces a political reaction that often works counter to its aspirations.

This strikes me as a second important admission.  Europe is one of the key battlegrounds in this “paradox.”  Will the EU (and/or the common currency) be able to hold it together? Will the centralization be able to withstand the corresponding decrease in productivity and therefore standard-of-living?  We are witnessing this battle being played out in real time in Europe.

A third failing of the current world order, such as it exists, is the absence of an effective mechanism for the great powers to consult and possibly cooperate on the most consequential issues.

What?!?!  I won’t bother mentioning here all of the global / international bodies put in place during the last century – and especially after the war ended in 1945.  What is Henry talking about?

This may seem an odd criticism in light of the many multilateral forums that exist—more by far than at any other time in history.

That’s what I just said!  This, I believe, is a third important admission.

The penalty for failing will be not so much a major war between states (though in some regions this remains possible) as an evolution into spheres of influence identified with particular domestic structures and forms of governance.

Two key takeaways here: first, the elite cannot afford “a major war between states” any more than the rest of us can – nukes don’t differentiate, and cannot be defended against; second, the idea of “spheres of influence” echoes Barzun’s speculation of what might lie ahead.  From Barzun: “The numerous regions of the Occident and America formed a loose confederation obeying rules from Brussels and Washington in concert…”

“Loose confederation” of the west and “spheres of influence” globally seem rather the same thing.

Henry goes on to describe how difficult the task is of bringing billions of people under one umbrella – too many of us billions don’t always go along with the man behind the curtain, it seems.  He asks a series of questions that he believes the US government must confront – none very important to me or this post.  He then lays the challenge in front of the US government leaders:

For the U.S., this will require thinking on two seemingly contradictory levels. The celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with recognition of the reality of other regions’ histories, cultures and views of their security.

This objective is fundamental to the disasters that the US government has created in the Middle East and North Africa.  Not “seemingly contradictory”; just plain old “contradictory.”  An impossible task when those being “securitized” (for lack of a better word, yet actually perfectly appropriate in every sense; “The Securitization of Humanity” sounds like a good title for an upcoming post) do not choose to be.

So, I have identified what I believe to be several important admissions; I will pull these together here:

1)      We were doing such a fine job of consolidating the new world order, yet in the last ten years or so the US government has pretty much messed up everything it has touched.

2)      The new world order was supposed to globalize the economy under one over-arching government (via institutions put in place not later than the end of WWII).

3)      The international bodies put in place over the last century – and especially since 1945 – have failed.  The people aren’t going along, instead producing “a political reaction that often works counter to its aspirations.”

Now, I will admit that someone viewing Henry’s essay through a different lens could come to different conclusions.  I admit I have a particular view on the goings-on around us: global governance and consolidation has seen its best days, at least for this era.  Things are coming apart – and the primary tool used in the last 70 years (the US government) has not only failed, it is getting too dangerous for even the survival of the elite.  There is no easily co-opted “next” (e.g. China) to ride on this parade toward global government.  It is time to back off, at least for now.

I conclude Henry has this same view.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.