The Eurasian Big Bang

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How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington

By Pepe Escobar

Source: TomDispatch.com

The several hundred Republicans who have thrown their hats into the ring for the 2016 presidential race and the war hawks in Congress (mainly but hardly only Republicans) have already been in full howl about the Vienna nuclear deal with Iran. Jeb Bush took about two seconds to label it “appeasement,” instantly summoning up the image of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain giving in to Hitler before World War II; former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee spared no metaphor in labeling the agreement “a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America’”; Senator Lindsey Graham called it a “possible death sentence for Israel”; this year’s leading billionaire candidate, Donald Trump, summed up his opinion of the deal in one you’re-fired-style word, “ridiculous”; Senator John McCain described Secretary of State John Kerry, who negotiated the deal, as “delusional”; and Senator… I mean, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mockingly turned Chamberlain’s infamous “peace in our time” into “peace at any price,” dismissed the deal as a catastrophe filled with “absurdities,” and then appeared on every American media venue imaginable to denounce it.  And that’s just to start down the usual list of suspects. Even Senator Rand Paul swore he would vote against the agreement (though his father called it “to the benefit of world peace”), while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was typical of Republican presidential candidates in swearing that he would personally scuttle the deal on his first day in the Oval Office.

This, in short, is the mad version of international policy that makes Washington a claustrophobic echo chamber.  After all, the choice isn’t actually between Iran having no nuclear “breakout” capacity or regaining that capacity 15 years from now (as the present deal seems to offer); the choice is between an agreement for 15 verifiably non-weaponized years and a guarantee of nothing whatsoever.  And if you’ve just checked off that nothing-whatsoever column, the alternative is to somehow crush the Iranians, to force them into submission.  It is, in other words, some version of war.  Two questions on that: How successful has war in the Greater Middle East been as an American policy weapon these last 13 years?  And what makes anyone think that, when even Dick Cheney and crew couldn’t bring themselves to pull the trigger on Iran, Jeb B. or any of the other candidates will be likely to do so in an ISIS-enriched world in 2017?

When you’ve satisfied yourself on those two questions, consider the seldom-discussed larger context within which twenty-first-century nuclear politics has taken place.  In these last years, the Pakistanis, the Indians, the Russians, and the Americans, to name just four nuclear powers, have either been expanding or “modernizing” their nuclear stockpiles in significant ways.  And god knows what the Israelis were doing with their super-secret, never officially acknowledged, but potentially civilization-busting atomic arsenal of 80 or more weapons, while the North Koreans were turning themselves into a nuclear mini-power.  Nonetheless, the focus of nuclear attention and the question of “disarmament” has remained almost exclusively on a country that had no such weapons, has officially disavowed them, and at this point, at least, doesn’t even have a weapons program.  And note that no one who is anyone in Washington considers any of this the least bit strange.

In this context, that irrepressible TomDispatch regular Pepe Escobar offers another kind of lens-widening exercise when it comes to the Iranian deal.  He focuses on a subject that Washington has yet to fully absorb: changing relations in Eurasia.  Few here have noticed, but while the Vienna deal was being negotiated, Russia and China, countries the Pentagon has just officially labeled as “threats,” have been moving mountains (quite literally in some cases) to integrate ever larger parts of that crucial land mass, that “world island,” into a vast economic zone that, if all goes as they wish, will be beyond Washington’s power and control.  This is a remarkable development that, despite the coming two months of sound and fury about Iran, won’t be at the top of any news report, which is why you need a website like TomDispatch to keep up with the times. Tom

The Eurasian Big Bang 
How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington
By Pepe Escobar

Let’s start with the geopolitical Big Bang you know nothing about, the one that occurred just two weeks ago. Here are its results: from now on, any possible future attack on Iran threatened by the Pentagon (in conjunction with NATO) would essentially be an assault on the planning of an interlocking set of organizations — the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union), the AIIB (the new Chinese-founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), and the NDB (the BRICS’ New Development Bank) — whose acronyms you’re unlikely to recognize either.  Still, they represent an emerging new order in Eurasia.

Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, Islamabad, and New Delhi have been actively establishing interlocking security guarantees. They have been simultaneously calling the Atlanticist bluff when it comes to the endless drumbeat of attention given to the flimsy meme of Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.”  And a few days before the Vienna nuclear negotiations finally culminated in an agreement, all of this came together at a twin BRICS/SCO summit in Ufa, Russia — a place you’ve undoubtedly never heard of and a meeting that got next to no attention in the U.S.  And yet sooner or later, these developments will ensure that the War Party in Washington and assorted neocons (as well as neoliberalcons) already breathing hard over the Iran deal will sweat bullets as their narratives about how the world works crumble.

The Eurasian Silk Road

With the Vienna deal, whose interminable build-up I had the dubious pleasure of following closely, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his diplomatic team have pulled the near-impossible out of an extremely crumpled magician’s hat: an agreement that might actually end sanctions against their country from an asymmetric, largely manufactured conflict.

Think of that meeting in Ufa, the capital of Russia’s Bashkortostan, as a preamble to the long-delayed agreement in Vienna. It caught the new dynamics of the Eurasian continent and signaled the future geopolitical Big Bangness of it all. At Ufa, from July 8th to 10th, the 7th BRICS summit and the 15th Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit overlapped just as a possible Vienna deal was devouring one deadline after another.

Consider it a diplomatic masterstroke of Vladmir Putin’s Russia to have merged those two summits with an informal meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Call it a soft power declaration of war against Washington’s imperial logic, one that would highlight the breadth and depth of an evolving Sino-Russian strategic partnership. Putting all those heads of state attending each of the meetings under one roof, Moscow offered a vision of an emerging, coordinated geopolitical structure anchored in Eurasian integration. Thus, the importance of Iran: no matter what happens post-Vienna, Iran will be a vital hub/node/crossroads in Eurasia for this new structure.

If you read the declaration that came out of the BRICS summit, one detail should strike you: the austerity-ridden European Union (EU) is barely mentioned. And that’s not an oversight. From the point of view of the leaders of key BRICS nations, they are offering a new approach to Eurasia, the very opposite of the language of sanctions.

Here are just a few examples of the dizzying activity that took place at Ufa, all of it ignored by the American mainstream media. In their meetings, President Putin, China’s President Xi Jinping, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi worked in a practical way to advance what is essentially a Chinese vision of a future Eurasia knit together by a series of interlocking “new Silk Roads.” Modi approved more Chinese investment in his country, while Xi and Modi together pledged to work to solve the joint border issues that have dogged their countries and, in at least one case, led to war.

The NDB, the BRICS’ response to the World Bank, was officially launched with $50 billion in start-up capital. Focused on funding major infrastructure projects in the BRICS nations, it is capable of accumulating as much as $400 billion in capital, according to its president, Kundapur Vaman Kamath. Later, it plans to focus on funding such ventures in other developing nations across the Global South — all in their own currencies, which means bypassing the U.S. dollar.  Given its membership, the NDB’s money will clearly be closely linked to the new Silk Roads. As Brazilian Development Bank President Luciano Coutinhostressed, in the near future it may also assist European non-EU member states like Serbia and Macedonia. Think of this as the NDB’s attempt to break a Brussels monopoly on Greater Europe. Kamath even advanced the possibility of someday aidingin the reconstruction of Syria.

You won’t be surprised to learn that both the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the NDB are headquartered in China and will work to complement each other’s efforts. At the same time, Russia’s foreign investment arm, the Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), signed a memorandum of understanding with funds from other BRICS countries and so launched an informal investment consortium in which China’s Silk Road Fund and India’s Infrastructure Development Finance Company will be key partners.

Full Spectrum Transportation Dominance

On the ground level, this should be thought of as part of the New Great Game in Eurasia. Its flip side is the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Pacific and the Atlantic version of the same, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, both of which Washington is trying to advance to maintain U.S. global economic dominance. The question these conflicting plans raise is how to integrate trade and commerce across that vast region. From the Chinese and Russian perspectives, Eurasia is to be integrated via a complex network of superhighways, high-speed rail lines, ports, airports, pipelines, and fiber optic cables. By land, sea, and air, the resulting New Silk Roads are meant to create an economic version of the Pentagon’s doctrine of “Full Spectrum Dominance” — a vision that already has Chinese corporate executives crisscrossing Eurasia sealing infrastructure deals.

For Beijing — back to a 7% growth rate in the second quarter of 2015 despite a recent near-panic on the country’s stock markets — it makes perfect economic sense: as labor costs rise, production will be relocated from the country’s Eastern seaboard to its cheaper Western reaches, while the natural outlets for the production of just about everything will be those parallel and interlocking “belts” of the new Silk Roads.

Meanwhile, Russia is pushing to modernize and diversify its energy-exploitation-dependent economy. Among other things, its leaders hope that the mix of those developing Silk Roads and the tying together of the Eurasian Economic Union — Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan — will translate into myriad transportation and construction projects for which the country’s industrial and engineering know-how will prove crucial.

As the EEU has begun establishing free trade zones with India, Iran, Vietnam, Egypt, and Latin America’s Mercosur bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela), the initial stages of this integration process already reach beyond Eurasia. Meanwhile, the SCO, which began as little more than a security forum, is expanding and moving into the field of economic cooperation.  Its countries, especially four Central Asian “stans” (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan) will rely ever more on the Chinese-driven Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the NDB. At Ufa, India and Pakistan finalized an upgrading process in which they have moved from observers to members of the SCO. This makes it an alternative G8.

In the meantime, when it comes to embattled Afghanistan, the BRICS nations and the SCO have now called upon “the armed opposition to disarm, accept the Constitution of Afghanistan, and cut ties with Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist organizations.” Translation: within the framework of Afghan national unity, the organization would accept the Taliban as part of a future government. Their hopes, with the integration of the region in mind, would be for a future stable Afghanistan able to absorb more Chinese, Russian, Indian, and Iranian investment, and the construction — finally! — of a long-planned, $10 billion, 1,420-kilometer-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline that would benefit those energy-hungry new SCO members, Pakistan and India. (They would each receive 42% of the gas, the remaining 16% going to Afghanistan.)

Central Asia is, at the moment, geographic ground zero for the convergence of the economic urges of China, Russia, and India. It was no happenstance that, on his way to Ufa, Prime Minister Modi stopped off in Central Asia.  Like the Chinese leadership in Beijing, Moscow looks forward (as a recent document puts it) to the “interpenetration and integration of the EEU and the Silk Road Economic Belt” into a “Greater Eurasia” and a “steady, developing, safe common neighborhood” for both Russia and China.

And don’t forget Iran. In early 2016, once economic sanctions are fully lifted, it is expected to join the SCO, turning it into a G9. As its foreign minister, Javad Zarif, made clear recently to Russia’s Channel 1 television, Tehran considers the two countries strategic partners. “Russia,” he said, “has been the most important participant in Iran’s nuclear program and it will continue under the current agreement to be Iran’s major nuclear partner.” The same will, he added, be true when it comes to “oil and gas cooperation,” given the shared interest of those two energy-rich nations in “maintaining stability in global market prices.”

Got Corridor, Will Travel

Across Eurasia, BRICS nations are moving on integration projects. A developing Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor is a typical example. It is now being reconfigured as a multilane highway between India and China. Meanwhile, Iran and Russia are developing a transportation corridor from the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the Caspian Sea and the Volga River. Azerbaijan will be connected to the Caspian part of this corridor, while India is planning to use Iran’s southern ports to improve its access to Russia and Central Asia. Now, add in a maritime corridor that will stretch from the Indian city of Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and then on to the southern Russian city of Astrakhan. And this just scratches the surface of the planning underway.

Years ago, Vladimir Putin suggested that there could be a “Greater Europe” stretching from Lisbon, Portugal, on the Atlantic to the Russian city of Vladivostok on the Pacific. The EU, under Washington’s thumb, ignored him. Then the Chinese started dreaming about and planning new Silk Roads that would, in reverse Marco Polo fashion, extend from Shanghai to Venice (and then on to Berlin).

Thanks to a set of cross-pollinating political institutions, investment funds, development banks, financial systems, and infrastructure projects that, to date, remain largely under Washington’s radar, a free-trade Eurasian heartland is being born. It will someday link China and Russia to Europe, Southwest Asia, and even Africa. It promises to be an astounding development. Keep your eyes, if you can, on the accumulating facts on the ground, even if they are rarely covered in the American media. They represent the New Great — emphasis on that word — Game in Eurasia.

Location, Location, Location

Tehran is now deeply invested in strengthening its connections to this new Eurasia and the man to watch on this score is Ali Akbar Velayati. He is the head of Iran’s Center for Strategic Research and senior foreign policy adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Velayati stresses that security in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, and the Caucasus hinges on the further enhancement of a Beijing-Moscow-Tehran triple entente.

As he knows, geo-strategically Iran is all about location, location, location. That country offers the best access to open seas in the region apart from Russia and is the only obvious east-west/north-south crossroads for trade from the Central Asian “stans.” Little wonder then that Iran will soon be an SCO member, even as its “partnership” with Russia is certain to evolve. Its energy resources are already crucial to and considered a matter of national security for China and, in the thinking of that country’s leadership, Iran also fulfills a key role as a hub in those Silk Roads they are planning.

That growing web of literal roads, rail lines, and energy pipelines, asTomDispatch has previously reported, represents Beijing’s response to the Obama administration’s announced “pivot to Asia” and the U.S. Navy’s urge to meddle in the South China Sea. Beijing is choosing to project power via a vast set of infrastructure projects, especially high-speed rail lines that will reach from its eastern seaboard deep into Eurasia. In this fashion, the Chinese-built railway from Urumqi in Xinjiang Province to Almaty in Kazakhstan will undoubtedly someday be extended to Iran and traverse that country on its way to the Persian Gulf.

A New World for Pentagon Planners

At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last month, Vladimir Putin told PBS’s Charlie Rose that Moscow and Beijing had always wanted a genuine partnership with the United States, but were spurned by Washington. Hats off, then, to the “leadership” of the Obama administration. Somehow, it has managed to bring together two former geopolitical rivals, while solidifying their pan-Eurasian grand strategy.

Even the recent deal with Iran in Vienna is unlikely — especially given the war hawks in Congress — to truly end Washington’s 36-year-long Great Wall of Mistrust with Iran. Instead, the odds are that Iran, freed from sanctions, will indeed be absorbed into the Sino-Russian project to integrate Eurasia, which leads us to the spectacle of Washington’s warriors, unable to act effectively, yet screaming like banshees.

NATO’s supreme commander Dr. Strangelove, sorry, American General Philip Breedlove, insists that the West must create a rapid-reaction force — online — to counteract Russia’s “false narratives.” Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter claims to be seriously considering unilaterally redeploying nuclear-capable missiles in Europe. The nominee to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Commandant Joseph Dunford, recently directly labeled Russia America’s true “existential threat”; Air Force General Paul Selva, nominated to be the new vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, seconded that assessment, using the same phrase and putting Russia, China and Iran, in that order, as more threatening than the Islamic State (ISIS). In the meantime, Republican presidential candidates and a bevy of congressional war hawks simply shout and fume when it comes to both the Iranian deal and the Russians.

In response to the Ukrainian situation and the “threat” of a resurgent Russia (behind which stands a resurgent China), a Washington-centric militarization of Europe is proceeding apace. NATO is now reportedly obsessed with what’s being called “strategy rethink” — as in drawing up detailed futuristic war scenarios on European soil. As economist Michael Hudson has pointed out, even financial politics are becoming militarized and linked to NATO’s new Cold War 2.0.

In its latest National Military Strategy, the Pentagon suggests that the risk of an American war with another nation (as opposed to terror outfits), while low, is “growing” and identifies four nations as “threats”: North Korea, a case apart, and predictably the three nations that form the new Eurasian core: Russia, China, and Iran. They are depicted in the document as “revisionist states,” openly defying what the Pentagon identifies as “international security and stability”; that is, the distinctly un-level playing field created by globalized, exclusionary, turbo-charged casino capitalism and Washington’s brand of militarism.

The Pentagon, of course, does not do diplomacy. Seemingly unaware of the Vienna negotiations, it continued to accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. And that “military option” against Iran is never off the table.

So consider it the Mother of All Blockbusters to watch how the Pentagon and the war hawks in Congress will react to the post-Vienna and — though it was barely noticed in Washington — the post-Ufa environment, especially under a new White House tenant in 2017.

It will be a spectacle.  Count on it.  Will the next version of Washington try to make it up to “lost” Russia or send in the troops? Will it contain China or the “caliphate” of ISIS? Will it work with Iran to fight ISIS or spurn it? Will it truly pivot to Asia for good and ditch the Middle East or vice-versa? Or might it try to contain Russia, China, and Iran simultaneously or find some way to play them against each other?

In the end, whatever Washington may do, it will certainly reflect a fear of the increasing strategic depth Russia and China are developing economically, a reality now becoming visible across Eurasia. At Ufa, Putin told Xi on the record: “Combining efforts, no doubt we [Russia and China] will overcome all the problems before us.”

Read “efforts” as new Silk Roads, that Eurasian Economic Union, the growing BRICS block, the expanding Shanghai Cooperation Organization, those China-based banks, and all the rest of what adds up to the beginning of a new integration of significant parts of the Eurasian land mass. As for Washington, fly like an eagle? Try instead: scream like a banshee.

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times, an analyst for RTand Sputnik, and a TomDispatch regular. His latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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Two for Tuesday

Elliot Smith

Anima Sound System

 

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Unaccountable Killer Cops in America

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By Stephen Lendman

Source: Steve Lendman Blog

US streets in minority communities are battlegrounds. The good news is more police killings make headlines though nowhere near as many as warranted. Justifiable public anger is noticeably more visible.

The bad news is cops in America kill innocent (mostly Black) victims hundreds of times annually with impunity.

Activist police brutality critic Sandra Bland was lawlessly arrested after being stopped for a dubious traffic violation. Waller County, TX police lied claiming she assaulted arresting state trooper Brian Encinia. Video evidence showed him harassing, threatening and abusing her.

He opened her car door, aggressively demanded she “(s)tep out of the car.” She justifiably hesitated saying “(y)ou do not have the right to do that. Don’t touch me. I’m not under arrest.”

Encinia threatened her with his taser, saying “(g)et out of the car. I will light you up. Get out. Now. Get out of the car.” Bland was pinned to the ground, assaulted, handcuffed, arrested and jailed. She was found hanged to death in her cell.

A murder investigation is underway. Waller County criminal investigation head Captain Brian Cantrell unjustifiably calls what happened “a tragic incident, not one of criminal intent or a criminal act.”

Systematic police brutality against Blacks in America suggests otherwise. Why would an activist young Black woman commit suicide for any reason – let alone after likely short-term jailing following an abusive traffic stop, a misdemeanor at most if proved she was at fault? Videotape evidence showed otherwise.

Bland participated in rallies against police violence. Prophetically she posted a Facebook comment saying “(i)n the news that we’ve seen as of late, you could stand there, surrender to the cops, and still be killed.”

Was she targeted for her activism? Did State Trooper Encinia stop her for that reason – perhaps knowing he’d assault and arrest her? Was she set up for death? Was Bland assassinated to silence her?

The Texas Department of Public Safety said her arrest “violated the department’s procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy.”

Encinio was transferred to desk duty. Expect whoever was responsible for Bland’s death to get off scot-free – like virtually always in these type cases.

Independent journalists could write multiple daily articles on horrific police abuse in America – in urban and rural communities, big cities and small, nearly always against disadvantaged people, largely ones of color.

Last Sunday, 43-year-old Black Cincinnati motorist Samuel Dubose was fatally shot in the head by a white officer – inside his car after being stopped for an alleged traffic violation.

On July 19, Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph Deters said “(w)e are investigating what occurred between University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing and Samuel Dubose and we expect to have our assessment complete before the end of next week.”

Dubose was allegedly stopped for missing his front license plate. Authorities notoriously lie. Prosecutor Deters claimed the incident resulted from him struggling with University of Cincinnati officer Tensing.

Unexplained is how (let alone why) with him seated in his car and Tensing outside – unless the officer opened his door and forcibly tried removing him, an act violating police procedure virtually everywhere except perhaps under extraordinary circumstances.

The police account sounded implausible at best. Instead of showing his driver’s license and registration when asked, he allegedly “produced a bottle of alcohol from inside the car, handing it to officer Tensing,” according to university police chief Jason Goodrich.

After an alleged brief struggle, the car rolled forward, knocking Tensing to the ground, he added. He killed Dubose in response.

Whether any of this happened as claimed is dubious at best. Goodrich didn’t say Dubose was drunk – a possible explanation for acting foolishly.

If not, why would he or anyone stopped for an alleged traffic violation hand a police officer a bottle of alcohol instead of his or her license and registration as asked?

Tensing was placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of an investigation virtually assured to exonerate him.

Another Black man died because killer cops in America have license to kill – including university ones operating by the same anything goes standard as city, state and federal authorities.

Friends and relatives explained Dubose wasn’t a violent man. He was the father of 13, engaged to be remarried. Neighbor Hadassah Thomas said “(e)verybody in the community loved Sam…He didn’t carry a gun, so why did he get shot” for a routine traffic stop?

Police records show Dubose had prior arrests -whether legitimate or not isn’t clear. Black males in America are ruthlessly harassed, falsely arrested, irresponsibly charged and unjustly imprisoned when innocent of any crimes – or very often minor offenses too insignificant to warrant incarceration, like illicit drug possession.

America’s criminal justice system is maliciously unfair. Three convictions for possessing a few grams of cocaine or a single marijuana joint for personal use in three-strikes-and-out states like Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and many others means life imprisonment.

Loot national treasuries and/or steal billions of dollars from duped investors and get off scot-free – or at most receive minor wrist slap fines compared enormous amounts of money stolen not required to give back.

Unknown numbers of mostly people of color wrongfully fester in America’s gulag longterm for capital or other crimes they didn’t commit. Justice is usually available only for those able to afford it.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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Countering the Neo-Cold Warriors

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By Wayne Madsen

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Shortly, the «gruesome twosome» of U.S.-Russian relations, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and NATO Supreme Commander General Philip Breedlove, will be joined by a third neo-Cold Warrior, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, the prospective Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to become the «terrible troika» of American officials clamoring for a military showdown with Moscow.

During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dunford said he viewed Russia as the greatest threat to America. But not just any «threat». In language that could have been pulled out of a U.S. newspaper from the 1960s, Dunford testified, «If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia», adding, «and if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming».

While Dunford’s Cold War rhetoric warmed the cockles of the hearts of leading Senate committee war hawks such as John McCain, McCain’s eyelash-batting pal Lindsey Graham – a 2016 presidential candidate – and Texas Joseph McCarthy lookalike Ted Cruz, it was not well-received at the White House or the State Department. White House Press Secretary John Earnest distanced President Obama from Dunford’s views, stating at a press conference that Dunford was expressing «his own view and [it] doesn’t necessarily reflect the . . . consensus analysis of the president’s national security team».

State Department spokesman Mark Toner, in commenting on Dunford’s remarks, was more emphatic when stating that Secretary of State John Kerry rejected the general’s comments, «The secretary doesn’t agree with the assessment that Russia is an existential threat to the United States, nor China, quite frankly». Toner was referring to Dunford’s testimony that China was second only to Russia in posing a significant threat to the United States.

However, it was Kerry who promoted Nuland, who is married to arch-neoconservative and Project for the New American Century (PNAC) architect Robert Kagan, to the position that placed her in charge of U.S.-Russian relations. Previously, Nuland served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s press spokeswoman. And if Mrs. Clinton’s penchant for «standing by her women» is any indication, a Hillary Clinton presidency could see Nuland, who once worked for Vice President Dick Cheney, promoted to a higher-level position, including Secretary of State or National Security Adviser. Obama and Kerry can distance themselves from Dunford’s alarming comments all they want, however, it is they who have permitted individuals like Nuland, Breedlove, Dunford, and the saber-rattling Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to become major policy officials within the Obama administration.

Dunford and Breedlove appear to have been pulled from central casting for a remake of the 1960s Stanley Kubrick noire comedy film, «Dr. Strangelove». Dunford, who bears the problematic nickname «Fighting Joe» and has been described as a «fervent Catholic», sounds like the blusterous General Buck Turgidson, who, after a wayward B-52 continues on to Russia, against orders, to drop its nuclear payload on a missile base, tells a bewildered president, «It is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless ‘distinguishable,’ postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed». Breedlove, on the other hand, is just as much an ideologue as is the fictional General Jack Ripper, who in «Dr. Strangelove» tells his British liaison officer, «Today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought».

Dunford, Breedlove, Nuland, and Carter could very well push the United States and Russia to the brink of a hot war. Breedlove championed the creation of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, or VHRJTF as it is known to the acronym- and abbreviation-addicts of the Pentagon. VHRJTF brings ground forces from nine NATO nations to Russia’s borders. The new rapid-response unit took part in the first «live fire» exercise in Poland, code-named NOBLE JUMP, since the end of the Cold War. VHRJTF also consists of U.S.-supplied drones. The possibility that an unmanned drone could bring about a replay of the 1960 U-2 incident, in which a manned American spy plane was shot down over Russia, this time with a drone straying into Russian airspace from one of the Baltic countries, cannot be ruled out.

Obama and Kerry were quick to distance themselves from «Fighting Joe» Dunford’s saber rattling before the Senate committee. However, if they wanted to truly reset relations with Russia, Kerry could fire Nuland, Obama could pull Dunford’s nomination, and both could ask NATO to request a new Supreme Commander. However, as President Dwight Eisenhower warned in his 1961 Farewell Address about the menace of the «military-industrial complex», Obama and Kerry are powerless to get rid of those who were placed in power by what has now become a «military-intelligence-contractor» complex.

What is even more troubling is that Breedlove, Dunford, Nuland, and Carter appear prepared to not only take on Russia and China in a new Cold War, but are willing to confront the new «anti-NATO», the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which just wrapped up its summit in Ufa, the capital of the Russian Federation’s autonomous republic of Bashkortostan. If the «gruesome twosome» of Nuland and Breedlove, soon to become the «terrible troika» after Dunford is confirmed by the Senate, have their way, NATO and the United States will not only be willing to face off militarily against SCO members China and Russia but also the new members of Pakistan and India, in addition to charter members Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Russia has savaged the West’s attempts to isolate it and China has broken America’s attempt to establish a military containment «cordon sanitaire» around China by welcoming Belarus as a new observer nation of SCO, joining Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Iran as prospective full members of the alliance. Cambodia, Nepal, Armenia, and Azerbaijan joined the organization as dialogue partners, supplementing existing partners Sri Lanka and Turkey. Egypt, Bangladesh, and Syria are also prospective members of the organization that is a counter to the ever-expanding NATO. SCO’s geopolitical security mission, coupled with the emerging economic power of the BRICS alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, equates to a majority of the world’s population rejecting America’s military and economic dominance and NATO’s and the Pentagon’s menacing swagger. It is as if Dunford, Breedlove, and Nuland have never heard of SCO, BRICS, or the Eurasian Economic Union.

It is amazing that Dunford and Breedlove can issue challenges to their perceived enemies when Carter has announced a 40,000 troop strength cut for the U.S. Army. Instead, Carter plans to supplement NATO forces in Europe with more Bradley Fighting Vehicles and tanks that would be manned by a smaller number of U.S. troops. Like the Roman Empire, the United States has over-extended itself around the world.

It is not Russia nor China that maintain troops in 150 countries around the world. That dubious distinction falls on the United States. Fighting Joe Dunford and General Breedlove can talk all they want about the Russian and Chinese «threat». But for the rest of the world, which sees SCO and BRICS as welcome foils to the plans for further NATO expansion, it is America and its policy of fostering «color revolutions» and displaying military shows of force that represent the true threats to global stability.

Posted in culture, divide and conquer, Economics, Empire, Geopolitics, History, propaganda, Psy-ops, society, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Coincidence, Chaos, & Archetypes in Our Science-Fictional World

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By Eric Wargo

Source: The Nightshirt

You don’t have to be a hardheaded materialist skeptic or an atheist to be troubled by the idea of synchronicity. The fundamental mystery—or really, outrage—of synchronicities is they seem arranged, stage managed, in a way that is impossible without imagining an active higher intelligence taking interest in guiding us and arranging the events of the wider world to produce unmistakeably uncanny outcomes. Even if we believe in God, many people aren’t comfortable living in a world of miracles and signs.

This was the problem faced by Philip K. Dick, whose Christianity couldn’t countenance fully divine meddling in his psyche and life. The story had to be more complex and also more rational. Hence, he tended to think that the synchronicities he experienced in 1974 reflected his own enlarged self haunting him from an orthogonal dimension of time, perpendicular to the four spacetime dimensions we ordinarily experience.

My last post sparked an interesting discussion in the comments about the apparent role of coincidence in synchronicities if they are really, as I argued, cases of misrecognized precognition or premonition. For instance, even if Jung’s famous scarab arriving at the window of his office was a purely random event that his patient had dreamed about the night before, there is still a coincidental element to it: Why a scarab, which has an archetypal meaning connected to the patient’s therapeutic situation, as opposed to some other insect?

Here’s where I think we really need to take seriously the revised picture of time that Dick grappled with through his 8-year frenetic journaling in his Exegesis: What is the connection between the archetypal world and the multidimensional nature of time? In a Eureka moment (not unlike the hundreds recorded by the manic Dick), I think I figured it out: Archetypes are an illusory effect produced by our failure to recognize self-confirmatory actions (feedback loops) made possible by the looping nature of time. Temporal feedback loops amplify the personal significance of symbolic formations, which (because we fail to recognize psi) appear as somehow objective or external to us.

For reasons I discussed in my Psi of Regret post, most information from the future should be negated by one’s own and others’ willed actions; but in a minority of cases, a self-confirming feedback effect could arise which would actually intensify or amplify the significance of the stimulating event in the future. This would happen specifically when that event involves a minor random coincidence (which are myriad) and/or fulfills some kind of unconscious thought or desire we had harbored.

Through this time-loop mechanism, minor coincidences, when they resonate with our own personal meanings and priorities, can be the nuclei of major significant moments (synchronicities) as well as meta-symbols (archetypes). Small coincidences, in other words, may be like grains of sand around which time’s oyster builds Platonic-Jungian pearls.

Bootstrapping Ourselves Toward Meaning

The idea of information from the future reaching us in the present should be unproblematic to parapsychologists and Forteans, yet we still tend to think of it somehow as a very special case. But if we grant the experimental results of Daryl Bem and Dean Radin and the observations of J.W. Dunne and others, then information must indeed be constantly rippling backwards in the time stream; this would have to produce all the paradoxical effects familiar from time travel stories in science fiction: doubling or multiplication or intensification of information (not unlike what happens in the interesting 2004 sci-fi film Primer), as well as self-cancelling effects such as I discussed in the context of Dune Messiah, and perhaps even wholesale self-negation (the famous grandfather paradox). If I am right about the future not being etched in stone (or glass, as in the Minkowski glass football)—that is, as subject to free will—then precognitive material cannot be about what is definitely going to happen but about what is probabilistic, and much of that information will be rendered inaccurate by our willed actions, and thus we would have no way of knowing it (i.e., because it didn’t come true or wasn’t close enough to how events unfolded to be discernible). It wouldn’t even be information, just noise.

However, in special circumstances, for instance when there is a slight perceived (and random) coincidence, such as between a specific genus of insect and the theme of therapeutic rebirth, it could instead have the effect of entraining our actions to the signal, in turn amplifying the felt significance of the signal into the past, generating a precognitive or premonitory experience which in turn feeds forward to intensify the uncanniness of the stimulating event, in turn boosting the signal into the past, and so on … The result would be an informatic/emotional time-loop feedback effect centered on what emerges as a truly uncanny, meaningful, and even decisive coincidence (the ’synchronicity’) that could even alter the course of a person’s life in a significant fashion going forward.

Within Jung’s larger and less radical paradigm of “individuation,” the unconscious is ever seeking out opportunities to progress and develop and change toward wholeness, and its capitalization on significant coincidences provides a way for the individual to bootstrap him/herself toward integration. The unconscious has no sense of time, so it doesn’t recognize this operation of atemporal time-looping—that is, the artificiality of the apparent coincidence (i.e., the fact that the person him/herself created the apparent coincidence through his/her actions and attributed it to objective external reality). The tendency of ‘synchronistic’ events to have a recursive, fractal, or self-similar quality, in some way being ‘about’ the whole notion of synchronicity or coincidence, reflects the tendency of the coincidence-receptive person to be attuned to coincidences in the first place. It is, quite literally, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jung and Plato Must Die (that Psi May Live)

Thus the kinds of events that spark an emotional ripple into the past will be ones that support the ‘prophetic enjoyment’ I mentioned in the last post: Synchronicities are self-confirming effects produced by misrecognized precognition within an overall attitude of receptivity to mystery, magic, and meaningful coincidence. Belief in synchronicity produces synchronicity, which further reinforces the belief. In a larger sense, this mechanism may underlie the “law of attraction” in all its forms. It really is just like the “strange attractor” in Chaos Theory (and which is also identical to what Lacan and Žižek call the “symptom”).

What this suggests—and this is my Eureka—is that “archetypes” as such—as well as the Platonic world of “forms” that Dick suggested was the “fifth dimension” (printing out archetypes on the paper of history as on an IBM Selectric typewriter)—are really an illusory or anamorphic effect produced by not seeing or recognizing these self-confirmatory time loops, these informational/emotional eddies in the spacetime continuum, and failing to see our own role in feeding them through our perceptions and actions. We ourselves make meaning, including the intensified meaningful nuclei in the collective unconscious that so fascinated Jung and that formed the centerpiece of Platonic metaphysics.

At times, Dick came close to saying this: He suggested that synchronicities occur because we in the future are time traveling, cultivating our own development; that our own enlarged consciousess has the power to “stage manage” not because it is a white-bearded deity sitting up in a cloud reaching down and playing with us like chess pieces, but because of the nature of time itself. Coincidences may be the product of time tampering, our own time tampering in the future.

Where I’m departing from this notion is in emphasizing misrecognition and the role of the unconscious: Instead of our future (conscious) selves meddling in the past, our unconscious minds are constantly receiving and reacting to future information without knowing it comes from the future; through our actions, we thus sometimes confirm this information, particularly when it resonates with our priorities and unconscious beliefs about meaning or our own significance in the bigger cosmic picture. That sort of information will act as an ‘attractor’ in the Chaos Theory sense and give rise to the illusion of BIG coincidences and the meta-symbols that are necessary (in Jungian thinking) to make sense of them.

We live in a world that curves and bifurcates and loops back on itself, and these loopings and crossings and doublings and cancellations exert a shaping force on our lives and larger events via what we call psi, but we (a) think linearly and do not believe in time travel, (b) generally disbelieve in psi, and (c) fail to include the knower in the known even when we do believe in those possibilities. Consciously being open to coincidence and ‘larger meaning’ but failing to recognize our own role in creating significant moments, we inevitably imagine a Higher Knower who recognizes and certifies these eternal forms or archetypes, stage-managing these amazing occurrences as signals or signposts for us. But this is a mistake.

I’m suggesting we kill both Jung and Plato here in one stroke … maybe even God. Not only synchronicities but also archetypes and Ideal Forms are illusions caused by our failure to recognize the truly science-fictional way that informational-emotional time loops may intensify the potency of confluent events and symbols in our lives, and the role we ourselves play in the process.

We live in a science-fictional universe. To move forward, we need to recognize that fact.

Posted in conditioning, consciousness, culture, Philosophy, Psychology, society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Matinee: Mr. Robot

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“Mr. Robot” is one of the rare shows to make it to mainstream cable television with a voice that might worry corporate sponsors of cable television. It incorporates some of the more subversive elements of films such as Fight Club and The Matrix in it’s narrative centering on a network security programmer who moonlights as an anarchist vigilante hacker. Series such as this are all too rare but much needed for their ability to introduce and/or spread important information through the collective imagination. It’s also one of the first television shows to truly speak to and reflect growing but often ignored segments of internet culture.

Give the nature of its format, an episodic series produced for a basic cable network (though it is the same network that aired Night Flight), it is vulnerable to censorship and manipulation. But as it stands now it’s surprisingly awesome so enjoy it while you can.

(Hulu requires Adobe Flash Player 11.1 to view)

Pilot episode can also be viewed here.

Posted in Art, conditioning, culture, Film, media, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Global One Percent Celebrate at the Bohemian Grove

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By Peter Phillips

Source: Dissident Voice

July 18th 2015 was the first day of this year’s summer camp for the world’s business and political aristocracy and their invited guests. 2,000 to 3,000 men, mostly from the wealthiest global one percent, gather at Bohemian Grove, 70 miles north of San Francisco in California’s Sonoma County—to sit around the campfire and chew the fat—off-the-record—with ex-presidents, corporate leaders and global financiers.

Speakers this year giving “Lakeside Chats” include past Secretary of Defense and the CIA Leon Panetta, Paul Volcker Jr. former Federal Reserve Chairman, retired Admiral Mike Mullen former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, NYU Law Professor Bryan Stevenson, producer Norman Lear, the founder of AOL Steve Case, and Christopher Hill former US Ambassador to Iraq.

The Bohemian Grove summer encampments have become one of the most famous private men’s retreats in the world. Club members and several hundred world-class guests gather annually in the last weeks of July to recreate what has been called “the greatest men’s party on earth.” Spanning three weekends, the outdoors event includes lectures, rituals, theater, camp parties, golf, swimming, skeet shooting, politics, sideline business meetings and feasts of food and alcohol.

One might imagine modern-day aristocrats like Henry Kissinger, the Koch brothers, and Donald Rumsfeld amid a circle of friends sipping cognac and discussing how the “unqualified” masses cannot be trusted to carry out policy, and how elites must set values that can be translated into “standards of authority.”

Private men’s clubs, like the San Francisco Bohemian Club, have historically represented institutionalized race, gender and class inequality. English gentlemen’s clubs emerged during Great Britain’s empire building period as an exclusive place free of troublesome women, under-classes, and non-whites. Copied in the United States, elite private men’s clubs served the same self-celebration purposes as their English counterparts.

The San Francisco Bohemian Club was formed in 1872 as a gathering place for newspaper reporters and men of the arts and literature. By the 1880s local businessmen joined the Club in large numbers, quickly making business elites the dominant group. More than 2,500 men are members today. Most are from California, while several hundred originate from some 35 states and a dozen foreign countries. About one-fifth of the members are either directors of one or more of the Fortune 1000 companies, corporate CEOs, top governmental officials (current and former) and/or members of important policy councils or major foundations. The remaining members are mostly regional business/legal elites with a small mix of academics, military officers, artists, or medical doctors.

Foremost at the Bohemian Grove is an atmosphere of social interaction and networking. You can sit around a campfire with directors of PG&E, or Bank of America. You can shoot skeet with the former secretaries of state and defense, or you can enjoy a sing-along with a Council of Foreign Relations director or a Business Roundtable executive. All of this makes for ample time to develop personal long-lasting connections with powerful influential men.

On the surface, the Bohemian Grove is a private place where global and regional elites meet for fun and enjoyment. Behind the scene, however, the Bohemian Grove is an American version of building insider ties, consensual understandings, and lasting connections in the service of class solidarity. Ties reinforced at the Grove manifest themselves in global trade meetings, party politics, campaign financing, and top-down corporatism.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University, and President of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored. He wrote his dissertation on the Bohemian Club in 1994. Read other articles by Peter, or visit Peter’s website.

 

Posted in Conspiracy, Corporate Crime, Corruption, Empire, History, news, Social Control, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Assassination of Sandra Bland and the Struggle against State Repression

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The Black Lives Matter movement has another martyr, as it prepares for a national conference in Cleveland, this weekend. Sandra Bland’s murder in Texas shows, once again, that “defending one’s dignity in an encounter with the police is a crime that that can lead to a death sentence.” The emerging movement must be clear on the political nature of Bland’s death, and that only real power in the hands of the people can break the cycle of oppression.

By Ajamu Baraka

Source: Black Agenda Report

Authentic justice and liberation will only come when there is authentic de-colonization and revolutionary power in the hands of self-determinate peoples’ and oppressed classes and social groups.”

During the struggle in South Africa black activists who were captured by the state had a strange habit of jumping to their deaths from the windows of jails and courthouses whenever the authorities would turn their backs. In the U.S. the method of suicide black prisoners appear to choose is death by hanging – that is, when they are unable to pull a gun from an officer and shoot themselves in the chest while handcuffed behind their backs.

In Waller County, Texas, Sandra Bland, a young black woman from Illinois, an activist with Black Lives Matter, who was, according to friends and family, excited about her new job in Texas, is stopped for a minor traffic violation, beaten, jailed and found dead two days later in her cell. Her death is labeled a suicide by the Waller County Sheriff Glen Smith.

Because Sandra Bland was an activist who advised others about their rights and the proper way to handle a police encounter, no one is accepting the official explanation that she took her own life.

What does seem clear is that Sandra was a woman who understood her rights and was more than prepared to defend her dignity. However, for a black person in the U.S. defending one’s dignity in an encounter with the police is a crime that that can lead to a death sentence, or in the parlance of human rights, an extra-judicial execution by state agents.

While many are calling for something called justice for Sandra Bland, we would be doing Sandra and all those who have had their lives taken by the agents of repression a disservice if we didn’t place this case in its proper political and historical context.

Sandra was a woman who understood her rights and was more than prepared to defend her dignity.”

A psycho-analytic analysis of the dynamics involved with Blands’ gender and blackness could easily conclude that Bland was perceived as an existential threat to the racist male cops who pulled her out of car. Being a conscious, “defiant” black woman she probably disrupted their psychological order and meaning of themselves by her presence and willingness to defend her dignity.

However, as interesting as the individualized analysis and expressions of the psychopathology of white supremacy might be, the murder of Sandra Bland has to be contextualized politically as part of the intensifying war being waged on black communities and peoples across the country.

And because the state is waging war against us and will be targeting our organizations, as an activist, organizer and popular educator, Sandra’s murder must be seen a political murder and receive sustain focus as such.

Coming right before the Black Lives Matter Movement gathering in Cleveland, Sandra’s murder dramatically drives home the ever present dangers of not just being black in a culture of normalize anti-blackness, but the vulnerabilities associated with being a black activist and especially a black woman activist.

Historically the tyranny of white power has always had its most dehumanized expressions in relationship to black women. The unrestrained and unlimited power of white supremacist domination converged on the captive bodies of black women during slavery and has symbolically and literally continued during the post-enslavement period of capitalist/colonialist subordination of black people in the U.S.

The murder of Sandra Bland has to be contextualized politically as part of the intensifying war being waged on black communities and peoples across the country.”

However, from Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Claudia Jones, Fannie Lou Hammer through to Assata Shukur, Elaine Brown, Jaribu Hill and countless others, revolutionary black women held up the sky and provided the vision of liberation over the ages.

When the South African government began to target black women activists, the popular response was that now the racist government had “struck a rock.”

This week, under the leadership of black woman activists, much of the resistance movement to the escalating violence of the state will gather in Cleveland to engage in reflection and planning. Sandra Bland will be on the minds of those activists as well as Malissa Williams, who found herself at the receiving end of 137 bullets fired by members of the Cleveland police department that ripped apart the bodies of her and her companion Timothy Russell. And the activists will certainly highlight the case of 12 year old Tamir Rice who was shot point blank two seconds after police arrived on the scene where he had been playing with his toy gun in a park near his home.

Yet, the assassination of Sandra must be seen as a blow against the movement. That is why the BLM must struggle to develop absolute clarity related to the political, economic, social and military context that it/we face.

We understand history and our responsibilities.”

The struggle in the U.S. must be placed in an anti-colonial context or we will find ourselves begging for the colonial state to violate the logic of its existence by pretending that it will end something called police brutality and state killings. The settler-state is serious about protecting white capitalist/colonialist power while we are still trapped in the language of liberal reformism demanding “justice” and accountability. Those demands are fine as transitional demands if we understand that those demands are just that – transitional. Authentic justice and liberation will only come when there is authentic de-colonization and revolutionary power in the hands of self-determinate peoples’ and oppressed classes and social groups.

The martyrdom of Sandra Bland and all that came before her and who will follow – and there will be more – demands this level of clarity. We did not ask for this war. But we understand history and our responsibilities to our history of resistance and our radical vision that we can be more than we are today. Our enemies want us to think that they are invincible but we know their secrets and know that they can be defeated. All we have to do is to be willing to fight.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” (Counterpunch Books, 2014). He can be reached at www.AjamuBaraka.com
Posted in Activism, civil liberties, culture, History, police state, Racism, Social Control, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments