The Great Game in South Asia: US-China Competition; Iran, Pakistan, India as Battlegrounds

June 10, 2016 at 5:30 PM

Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org provides his analysis of the latest developments in South Asia, and the geopolitics of the region. Draitser outlines the contours of the Great Game of the 21st Century with the US trying to isolate China and deprive it of critical commercial and political relations. He examines developments in Balochistan and Iran, and connects them to broader trends in the strategic calculus of Asia.

US Provocations against Russia, China Increase Danger of Global Conflict

June 10, 2016 at 5:30 PM

Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org provides his commentary (May 24, 2016) on the intercept of US jets and naval vessels by both Russian and Chinese military, and the US response. Draitser argues that these provocations by the US typify the sort of reckless warmongering that Washington employs as part of its foreign policy, and that such actions could potentially spark a global war.

Empire Strikes Back: BRICS Under Attack, Toward a World War Scenario?

June 10, 2016 at 5:29 PM

Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org provides his analysis of how the BRICS is being undermined and destabilized by the Empire and its political, economic, and military weapons. He examines the situaitons in Brazil and SOuth Africa, and gives his take on how India, Russia, and China are each targeted in very different ways. Draitser also lays out his dangerous warning about the potential for a world war scenario. All this and much more in this wide-ranging interview. *Audio quality not the best, but listenable*

US Bullying Canada to Pursue Anti-Russian Foreign Policy

June 8, 2016 at 5:43 PM

 

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As the world is faced with numerous crises requiring cooperation between the US and Russia – Syria, Ukraine, and international terrorism to name just three – Washington just can’t help its Russophobic ways.

Most recently, former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul expressed his extreme displeasure (dare I say revulsion) at the idea that the Canadian Government, and specifically its Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion, could possibly make the independent decision to not follow the diktats of Washington in adopting a Canadian version of the Magnitsky Act, a piece of proposed legislation which would have severe repercussions for the Russia-Canada relationship.  McFaul, a staunch anti-Putin crusader whose time as ambassador was marred by countless failures and embarrassing public blunders, went so far as to cast doubt on the commitment to human rights of Mr. Dion and the Canadian Government.

In highly undiplomatic language, McFaul bluntly declared, “Do you stand for human rights or not? If this is an important value [sic] then this is something that should be done.” Leaving aside the condescension oozing from every word of that statement, it is quite clear that the US political establishment is not at all pleased with its usually pliant partners in the Great White North who, it seems, are attempting the unthinkable: conducting a foreign policy that is independent of the United States, at least on this issue.  Indeed, despite the finger-wagging from McFaul, and the ceaseless lobbying and self-promotion of the vulture capitalist and convicted criminal Bill Browder, Canada is unwilling to sacrifice its increasingly friendly relations with Moscow simply to satisfy the anti-Putin obsession of interests based in Washington and London.

Indeed, Browder is undeniably the leading voice of the transnational lobbying effort to internationalize the Magnitsky Act – a US law passed in 2012 that places sanctions and restrictions on key figures in the Russian government ostensibly over alleged participation in the murder of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky – and to try to isolate Russian President Putin and his closest advisers.  Of course, embarrassingly for Browder, he was until a decade ago the leading pro-Putin voice in the western investing community in Russia, lauding Putin up and down as the savior of Russia.

For instance, in 2005 Browder told the New York Times, when speaking about the jailing of the criminal oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, that “Putin cares about foreign investors; he just doesn’t care about them enough to allow one oligarch to use his ill-gotten gains to hijack the state for his own economic purposes.”  However, the warm and fuzzy feelings Browder once had for Putin & Co. seem to have evaporated right around the time he was curtly shown the door out of Russia.  As Pando’s Mark Ames wrote in 2015:

And ever since his KGB pals decided they’d had enough of him and chased him out to London a very rich vulture capitalist, Browder has styled himself as the Mother Theresa of global vulture capitalism—and he’s thrown untold millions into promoting that public relations/lobbying effort, whose goal is to use human rights abuses he once covered for and profited from as a cudgel to force the Kremlin to become investor-friendly to vulture capitalists like Bill Browder again.

So it seems that the Magnitsky Act itself, and Browder’s crusade to make it holy writ around the world, is less a product of concern for human rights, and more the result of a personal vendetta against the Russian Government by a very rich and influential vulture capitalist nested comfortably in the City of London, hatching his various anti-Russian pressure campaigns.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dion has rightly pointed to Canada’s invitation to join the International Syria Support Group in Vienna as an example of the fruit of the Russia-Canada relationship, implicitly arguing that it would be unwise to pass a Magnitsky-style bill solely to placate anti-Russian elements in Washington and London while alienating an important global power with considerable political, economic, and diplomatic influence.

Interestingly, in all the talk of human rights, and the chastising of Dion and the Canadian government for their shameful sale of $15 billion of combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia, it is completely ignored that the US is the principal arms dealer to Saudi Arabia, and countless other autocratic regimes which routinely, and quite systematically, violate the human rights of their own people.  So it would seem that for the US human rights is the convenient club with which to bash allies over the head, but which can be completely ignored when it suits Washington’s political and geopolitical agenda.

Russia = bad. Russia = human rights violator. Russia must be punished.

Saudi Arabia = friend. Saudi Arabia = human rights violator but let’s not talk about. Saudi Arabia must be rewarded with tens of billions of dollars of military equipment.

Got it? Good.

Ultimately, the issue is really about control.  The US would like to be able to control the way in which Canada, and all the countries of the West, carry on their relations with Russia.  Washington would like to cobble together a “united front” of sorts that will isolate Russia and, in the wildest pipe dreams of strategic planners, bring down Putin and his administration.

And the US believes that the combination of sanctions, depressed oil prices, Magnitsky-style legislation, and a number of other political, economic, and diplomatic weapons will bring those pesky old Russians to heel.  How little Washington has learned.

Clinton’s Vice President: A Match Made on Wall Street

May 31, 2016 at 5:58 PM

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Earlier this week, Bernie Sanders warned that Hillary Clinton’s eventual vice presidential pick must not be someone from the milieu of Wall Street and Corporate America. And while Sanders is still fighting to win the Democratic Party nomination in what many have argued is a rigged system with a foregone conclusion, it appears that Sanders is also intent on influencing the course of the Clinton campaign and the party itself.

In a thinly veiled demand that Clinton embrace the core principles of the Sanders campaign in order to secure the support of Sanders’s political base, the insurgent Democratic candidate hoped aloud “that the vice-presidential candidate will not be from Wall Street, will be somebody who has a history of standing up and fighting for working families, taking on the drug companies…taking on Wall Street, taking on corporate America, and fighting for a government that works for all of us, not just the 1%.”

And while that description may sound positive for its sheer idealism, it does not seem to account for the fact that banks and corporations effectively own both major parties, and that nearly every top Democrat is in various ways connected to the very same entities. In any event, it is useful still to examine a few of the potential Clinton running mates in order to assess just what sort of forces are going to be put in motion to help deliver a Clinton presidency.

The Actors on the Playbill

Beltway pundits are fond of remarking that Tim Kaine, the underwhelming centrist Democrat senator (and former Governor) from Virginia, is at the top of the list for Clinton. He’s safe. He’s experienced. He’s safe. He’s a Democratic Party loyalist with experience fundraising. Oh, and did I mention that he’s safe? Such is the general tenor of the conversation around Kaine, a politician with a long track record and a mostly forgettable personality known more to DC insiders than to the general voting public.

What could be better for Hillary Clinton, perhaps the least liked Democratic (presumptive) nominee in decades, than to have a party establishment insider who represents the status quo as her running mate in an election year that will undoubtedly be remembered for the ostensibly anti-establishment candidates and rhetoric on display throughout?

To be fair, Kaine does represent Virginia, a swing state that is crucial for Donald Trump, and which could spell victory for Clinton should she carry it.  And of course, Kaine can also posture as “tough on Wall Street” from his days as DNC Chairman and party mouthpiece during the passage of the so-called “Wall Street reform” bill.  Despite nothing substantive coming out of the bill, Kaine is still able to cash in the political currency derived from that bill, and perhaps meekly shield Clinton from continued attacks vis-à-vis her connections to Wall Street.

Of course Kaine also comes with his own baggage, including his anti-abortion stance which earned him the ire of many pro-choice activists in Virginia when he was Governor.  Considering the shameless droning from Clinton and her backers about being “the first woman president,” it would certainly raise serious questions – and open up an obvious angle of attack for Trump – were she to sport her feminism and focus on women’s reproductive rights by selecting a man with an anti-abortion record.

A look down the list of other potential choices reveals that Clinton truly has very little to choose from.  Both Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro, as well as Labor Secretary Tom Perez, have both had their names bandied around as Clinton seeks to solidify the Latino vote in an election where the Republican candidate has worked tirelessly to alienate that all-important demographic as much as possible.  But of course, the obvious question to be asked in response to either of these potential selections would be “Who?” Neither Castro nor Perez is well known nationally, nor have either of them won major elections or really done anything of note in their tenure in Obama’s cabinet.  Despite being Latinos, they are utterly forgettable, and unlikely to bring significant returns to Clinton.

While other names such as New Jersey junior senator Cory Booker, as well as Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, have been discussed, both men hail from states with Republican governors, meaning that were they to accept a VP slot, their senate vacancies would be likely filled by Republicans, a scenario that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has already said “Hell no!” to, vowing to “yell and scream to stop that.”

Who Else Is “Ready for Hillary”?

So that then leaves the two most interesting potential running mates: Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders himself. Warren, who conspicuously refused to endorse Clinton over Sanders, has tremendous upside for Clinton as she has been perhaps the Democratic Party’s most vehement opponent of Wall Street, having led many high profile attacks on the major banks in her tenure in the Senate.  From a public relations branding perspective, she is essentially the female Bernie Sanders, a progressive Democrat who presents herself as an ally of working people and an enemy of bankers. For Clinton, Warren would also round out the “First Woman…” card, allowing the Clinton campaign to quite literally become a campaign about breaking the glass ceiling in US politics. The stump speeches almost write themselves.

Finally, there’s Mr. #FeelTheBern himself. His latest comments (mentioned above) certainly do have a subtext that implies his willingness to accept a running mate slot.  Having fashioned himself as the champion of the middle class and threat to the Washington establishment, Bernie would provide much in the way of credibility to a lackluster Clinton campaign which has failed to excite even many ardent Democrats.  Sanders would also guarantee a unified Democratic Party ticket, and provide much needed defense of Clinton’s left flank.  In short, Sanders, like Warren, would give anti-Clinton progressives the pretext many of them need to justify their voting for the much-hated Clinton.

Never mind the fact that neither Sanders nor Warren would actually do anything to combat Wall Street finance capital as Vice President.  Never mind the fact that no one on Wall Street is particularly scared of either politician being given the ceremonial power that comes with the Vice Presidency.  These are just the kind of uncomfortable, but inescapable, facts that progressives must choose to ignore.

The difficulty for either Sanders or Warren is the marketing of their decision to left progressives, some of whom would see collaboration with Clinton and the Clinton political machine as a betrayal and a complete sell-out.  However, aside from driving a some relatively small number of progressives to vote for Jill Stein and the Green Party (or stay home entirely), it is unlikely that the negative impact in the progressive base would amount to anything more than some hurt feelings followed by the usual acquiescence to the Democratic Party line.

If such an analysis sounds cynical and jaded, that’s because it is. Perhaps a better descriptor would be disdainful.  Indeed, as someone who watched with bemused melancholy as progressives lined up to support Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, my position on support for ANY Democrat is the same as Harry Reid’s position on swing state senator VP picks: Hell no!

Indeed, the very notion of collaboration with a war criminal and Wall Street puppet such as Clinton is anathema to everything the left and “progressives” are supposed to stand for.

Of course, there is also the elephant (and donkey) in the room: both major parties are wholly owned subsidiaries of finance capital and the corporations that rule over us. This is the realization that millions of Americans have already made, and which millions more are making.  This is the realization that keeps Democratic and Republican apparatchiks up at night.  And this critical revelation is what Bernie, Liz, & Co. are there to suppress.