What Putin is not telling us

Pepe Escobar


December 18, 2014. President of Russia Vladimir Putin during his
tenth annual major news conference at the World Trade Centre on
Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment
(Photograph: V. Astapkovich)

Putin's Grasp of, and Response to, Western Moves Are Impeccable

Even facing what under any circumstances is a perfect storm; President Putin delivered an extremely measured performance at his annual press conference and Q&A marathon.

The perfect storm evolves in two fronts; an overt economic war – as in siege by sanctions - and a concerted, covert, shadow attack to the heart of the Russian economy. Washington’s endgame is clear: impoverish and defang the adversary and force him to meekly bow to the ‘Empire of Chaos’ whims. And bragging about it all the way to “victory.”

The problem is Moscow happens to have impeccably deciphered the game – even before Putin, at the Valdai Club in October, pinned down the Obama doctrine as “our Western partners” working as practitioners of the “theory of controlled chaos.”

So Putin neatly understood this week’s monster controlled chaos attack. The Empire has massive money power; a great deal of influence over the world’s GDP at $85 trillion, and the banking power behind that. So nothing easier than using that power through the private banking systems that actually controls central banks to create a run on the Ruble. Think about the ‘Empire of Chaos’ dreaming of driving the ruble down by 99% or so – thus wrecking the Russian economy. What better way to impose imperial discipline on Russia?


Will Russia, Germany save Europe from war?

Pepe Escobar

Are the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia on a mad spiral leading to yet another war in Europe? Is it inevitable? Far from it.

The US-propelled vassal currently starring in the oligarch dance in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, last week advanced the proposition that Ukrainians in the near future, after his "reforms", will be asked to vote on whether to join NATO.

Let's be serious here. Many of you will be familiar with the concept of "shatter belt" - territories and peoples that historically have been squeezed between the Germanic Eagle and the Russian Bear.

As we stand, the whole shatter belt - apart from Ukraine and Belarus - has signed up to NATO. A new Berlin wall, this time US-built - from the Baltics to the Black Sea now runs through Kiev. Were Ukraine to become a NATO member in an albeit remote future, the shatter belt buffer zone would disappear. This means NATO - essentially the US - planted right on Russia's western border.

Washington has just announced that it will be pre-positioning more military vehicles in Europe to be used in exercises or "potential military operations". This is perfectly in tune with the relentless US Think Tankland spin that NATO and the US will be "forced" to balance their commitment to security in Eastern Europe against potential Russian "aggression".

As Ukraine, the Baltic states and Poland persist in compounded hysteria about such "aggression", the option of a post-MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) US-Russia nuclear war, terrifying as it must be, is now - casually - back on the discussion table. At least there's a countercurrent: strands of informed Americans are wondering why the US should be paying for Europe's defense when European GDP is larger than that of the US.


Washington plays Russian roulette

Pepe Escobar

These are bleak times. I've been in serious conversation with some deep sources and interlocutors - those who know but don't need to show off, privileging discretion. They are all deeply worried. This is what one of them, a New York strategic planner, sent me:

The propaganda attack against Putin equating him with Hitler is so extreme that you have to think that the Russians cannot believe their ears and cannot trust the United States anymore under any circumstances. I cannot believe how we could have gotten ourselves into this situation to protect the looters in the Ukraine that Putin would have rid the Ukraine of, and even had the gall to place in a leadership role one of the worst of the thieves. But that is history. What is certain is that MAD [mutually assured destruction] is not a deterrent today when both sides believe the other will use nuclear weapons once they have the advantage and that the side that gains a decisive advantage will use them. MAD is now over.That may sound somewhat extreme - but it's a perfectly logical extension, further on down the road, of what the Russian president intimated in his already legendary interview with Germany's ARD in Vladivostok last week: the West is provoking Russia into a new Cold War. [1]

Mikhail Gorbachev just stressed a few days ago the new Cold War is already on. Princeton's Stephen Cohen says the Cold War in fact never left. The Roving Eye reported about Cold War 2.0 months ago (here, here, here and here). Brits - still stranded in the 19th century new Great Game - prefer to spin the "strident toxic personality" of "diminutive Putin"; [2] he is the "ruthless, charming and ultimately reckless" man who "put the cold war back in vogue". The Council on Foreign Relations, predictably, mourns the end of the post-Cold War world, blasts the current "disorder", and dreams of the good ol' unchallenged exceptionalist days. [3]

For arguably the best detailed background on how we came to this perilous state of affairs, it's hard to beat Vladimir Kozin of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies. [4] Read him carefully. And yes, it's Cold War 2.0, the double trouble remix; between the US and Russia, and between NATO and Russia.


G20 in Australia: Buffoons v the Global South

Pepe Escobar


(L-R) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra
Modi, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Chinese President Xi Jinping
and South African President Jacob Zuma join their hands at a group photo
session during the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza July 15, 2014.

Here’s the G20 in Australia in a one-liner: a tiny bunch of Anglo-Saxon political buffoons attempts to drown out the Global South.

Countries representing over 85 percent of the world economy get together to (in theory) discuss some really heavy economic/financial issues, and virtually the only thing pitiful Western corporate media blabbers about is Russian President Vladimir Putin cutting an ‘isolated figure’.

Well, Washington and its string of puppets did try to turn the G20 into a farce. Fortunately the adults in the room had some business to do.

The five BRICS member-nations – despite their current problems, the G5 that really matters in the world - did meet before the summit, including the ‘isolated figure’. Economically, this G5 more than matches the old, decrepit G7.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff forcefully encouraged the G5 to turbo-charge their mutual cooperation – as well as South-South cooperation. That includes, of course, the BRICS Development Bank. The BRICS, stressing their ‘serious concern’, once again called Washington’s bluff – perpetually refusing to endorse much-delayed structural reform at the IMF.

The IMF quota and governance reform package was in fact approved by the IMF’s Board of Governors way back in 2010. One of its key resolutions was to increase the voting power of emerging markets, the BRICS at the forefront. For Republicans in Washington, this is worse than communism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping added that BRICS cooperation should not only boost the global economy, but also ensure global peace. Make trade, not tomahawks. The over 120 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – beggars in the G20 banquet - were paying very close attention.


And the loser in Brazil is - neoliberalism

Pepe Escobar


Silvio Santos cumprimenta Dilma Rousseff e Aécio Neves. (As fotos
são de Marcelo Parada, diretor do SBT.)
(notícias da tv)

Sun, sex, samba, carnival and at least until the World Cup hammering by Germany, the "land of football". And don't forget "vibrant democracy". Even as it enjoys one of the highest soft power quotients around the world, Brazil remains submerged by cliches.

"Vibrant democracy" certainly lived up to its billing as President Dilma Rousseff of the ruling Worker's Party (PT) was re-elected this Sunday in a tight run-off against opposition candidate Aecio Neves of the Social Democracy Party of Brazil (PSDB).

Yet another cliche would rule this was the victory of "state-centric" policies against "structural reforms". Or the victory of "high social spending" against a "pro-business" approach - which implies business as the privileged enemy of social equality. Exit clichés. Enter a cherished national motto: "Brazil is not for beginners".


Washington Has Placed The World On The Road To War

Paul Craig Roberts

How can their evil to go unrecognized?

The drums for war are being loudly beaten in Washington, European capitals, and the presstitute Western media. A headline by Pepe Escobar is “NATO Is Desperate For War.” This time the target is Russia, a major nuclear power.

The deadly consequences of such a war would extend beyond Russia, Europe, and the US to the entire world. The Western use of lies to demonize Russia endangers life on earth and reveals the West to be both reckless and irresponsible. Yet, few voices are raised against this recklessness and irresponsibility.

Ron Unz brings to our attention the important voice of a distinguished Dutch journalist, Karel Van Wolferen. Wolferen and Unz himself are important offsets to what Unz regards, correctly in my opinion, as “the utter corruption and unreliability of the mainstream American media.”

Wolferen’s article is long but very important. Readers will see analysis akin to my own. Wolferen shows how the Washington hegemon has captured Europe within an Atlanticist ideology that forecloses any independent thinking or foreign policy on the part of Europeans who are reduced to a state of vassalage. Wolferen concludes that as Washington drives Europe toward war, “Europeans cannot bring themselves to believe in the dysfunction and utter irresponsibility of the American state.”

With no internal checks on Washington’s recklessness from allies, the media, and US Senators, the only brake on Washington’s drive to war is Russian, Chinese, Indian, and South American diplomacy. If this diplomacy fails, Fukushima, as bad as it is, becomes a mere raindrop in the ocean.


A chessboard drenched in blood

Pepe Escobar

"The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Everyone remembers the Downing Street Memo, which unveiled the Bush/Blair "policy" in the run-up to the 2003 bombing/invasion/occupation of Iraq. The "policy" was to get rid of Saddam Hussein via a lightning war. The justification was "terrorism" and (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which had "disappeared", mounted in trucks, deep into Syria. Forget about intelligence and facts.

The tragedy of MH17 - turned, incidentally, into a WMD - might be seen as a warped rerun of imperial policy in Iraq. No need for a memo this time. The "policy" of the Empire of Chaos is clear, and multi-pronged; diversify the "pivot to Asia" by establishing a beachhead in Ukraine to sabotage trade between Europe and Russia; expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to Ukraine; break the Russia-China strategic partnership; prevent by all means the trade/economic integration of Eurasia, from the Russia-Germany partnership to the New Silk Roads converging from China to the Ruhr; keep Europe under US hegemony.

The key reason why Russian President Vladimir Putin did not "invade" Eastern Ukraine - as much as he's been enticed to by Washington/NATO - to stop a US military adviser-facilitated running slaughter of civilians is that he does not want to antagonize the European Union, Russia's top trading partner.

Crucially, Washington's intervention in Kosovo invoking R2P - Responsibility to Protect - was justified at the time for exactly the same reasons a Russian intervention in Donetsk and Luhansk could be totally justified now. Except that Moscow won't do it - because the Kremlin is playing a very long game.

The MH17 tragedy may have been a horrendous mistake. But it may also have been a desperate gambit by the Kiev minions of the Empire of Chaos. By now, Russian intel may have already mastered the key facts. Washington's predictable modus operandi was to shoot from the hip, igniting and in theory winning the spin war, and doubling down by releasing the proverbial army of "top officials" brimming with social media evidence. Moscow will take time to build a meticulous case, and only then lay it out in detail.


Propaganda 101: "It was Putin's missile!"

Pepe Escobar

And here's the spin war verdict: the current Malaysia Airlines tragedy - the second in four months - is "terrorism" perpetrated by "pro-Russian separatists", armed by Russia, and Vladimir Putin is the main culprit. End of story. Anyone who believes otherwise, shut up.

Why? Because the CIA said so. Because Hillary "We came, we saw, he died" Clinton said so. Because batshit crazy Samantha "R2P" Power said so - thundering at the UN, everything duly printed by the neo-con infested Washington Post. [1]

Because Anglo-American corporate media - from CNN to Fox (who tried to buy Time Warner, which owns CNN) - said so. Because the President of the United States (POTUS) said so. And mostly because Kiev had vociferously said so in the first place.

Right off the bat they were all lined up - the invariably hysterical reams of "experts" of the "US intelligence community" literally foaming at their palatial mouths at "evil" Russia and "evil" Putin; intel "experts" who could not identify a convoy of gleaming white Toyotas crossing the Iraqi desert to take Mosul. And yet they have already sentenced they don't need to look any further, instantly solving the MH17 riddle.

It doesn't matter that President Putin has stressed the MH17 tragedy must be investigated objectively. And "objectively" certainly does not mean that fictional "international community" notion construed by Washington - the usual congregation of pliable vassals/patsies.


Return of the living (neo-con) dead

Pepe Escobar

Amid much hysteria, the notion has been widely peddled in the United States that President Obama's "new" foreign policy doctrine, announced last week at West Point, rejects neo-cons and neo-liberals and is, essentially, post-imperialist and a demonstration of Realpolitik.


(Clockwise:) Neoconservatives
Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol and
Dan Senor
(Photo credit: FPI)

Not so fast. Although stepping back from the excesses of the Cheney regime - as in bombing whole nations into "democracy" - the "desire to lead" still crystallizes might is right.

Moreover, "exceptionalism" remains the norm. Now not so blatant, but still implemented via a nasty set of tools, from Financial warfare to cyber-war, from National Endowment for Democracy-style promotion of "democracy" to Joint Special Operations Command-driven counter-terrorism, drone war and all shades of shadow wars.

In the early 2000s, the model was the physical destruction and occupation of Iraq. In the 2010s the model is the slow-mo destruction, by proxy, of Syria.

And still, those who "conceptualized" the destruction of Iraq keep rearing their Alien-like slimy head. Their icon is of course Robert Kagan - one of the founders of the apocalyptically funereal Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and husband of crypto-Ukrainian hell raiser Victoria "F**k the EU" Nuland (thus their dream of Ukraine as the Khaganate of Nulands, or simply Nulandistan.)

Kagan has been devastatingly misguided on everything, as in his 2003 best-seller Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, an eulogy of "benign" Americans standing guard against the "threats" (as in Muslim fundamentalism) emanating from a Hobbesian world way beyond the cozy Kantian precinct inhabited by Europe.


The future visible in St Petersburg

Pepe Escobar

The unipolar model of the world order has failed.
~ Vladimir Putin, St Petersburg, May 22

In more ways than one, last week heralded the birth of a Eurasian century. Of course, the US$400 billion Russia-China gas deal was clinched only at the last minute in Shanghai, on Wednesday (a complement to the June 2013, 25-year, $270 billion oil deal between Rosneft and China's CNPC.)

Then, on Thursday, most of the main players were at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum - the Russian answer to Davos. And on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, fresh from his Shanghai triumph, addressed the participants and brought the house down.

It will take time to appraise last week's whirlwind in all its complex implications. Here are some of the St Petersburg highlights, in some detail. Were there fewer Western CEOs in town because the Obama administration pressured them - as part of the "isolate Russia" policy? Not many less; Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley may have snubbed it, but Europeans who matter came, saw, talked and pledged to keep doing business.

And most of all, Asians were ubiquitous. Consider this as yet another chapter of China's counterpunch to US President Barack Obama's Asian tour in April, which was widely described as the "China containment tour". [1]


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