Less than a week after US President Donald Trump returned to the United States from his overseas tour of the Middle East and Europe, it is clear that a shift in world politics with vast implications is underway. Global relationships and institutions that for decades set the framework for international economy and public life are rapidly unraveling.
The rising threat of trade war and the resurgence of the military ambitions of all the imperialist powers are signs of the advanced state of collapse of the international institutions created after the United States emerged from World War II as the dominant imperialist power.
This collapse is the product of processes that have matured over decades. In 1991, when the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union deprived the NATO alliance of a common enemy, tensions between the imperialist powers were already surging. As US strategists declared a “unipolar moment,” in which the disappearance of the Soviet Union eliminated any immediate military rival, they aimed to use this military advantage to counterbalance the declining economic position of the United States.
A 1992 Pentagon strategy paper asserted that Washington had to convince “potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture,” and to “discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order.”
A quarter century later, this policy has failed. It led to a series of imperialist wars and interventions by the NATO powers, led by the United States, that shattered Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and other countries. While costing millions of lives, destroying entire societies, and creating the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, these acts of militarism have produced debacles and failed to reverse US imperialism’s fortunes. Now, a new stage of the crisis has been reached: The United States’ imperialist rivals are preparing direct, far-reaching challenges to US imperialism’s global primacy....
Heilbrunn added, “Now that France has elected Emanuel Macron president, Merkel is moving to fashion a Franco-German axis that will pursue a common economic and military path. This will signal a significant diminution in American prestige and influence abroad. Imagine, for example, that Merkel decided to defy Trump’s push for sanctions and isolating Iran by establishing trade ties with North Korea, including selling it weapons.”....
the escalating rivalries between the imperialist powers in Asia. Last month, as China inaugurated its so-called Belt and Road Initiative—designed to build a web of energy and transport infrastructure integrating China, the Middle East, and Europe—Washington was reduced to a role on the sidelines, as China and the EU developed their ties. The response of Japan and India, Washington’s allies in its “pivot to Asia” aimed at isolating China, is not, however, fundamentally friendlier to US imperialist interests than that of the EU powers.
2--France Debunks "Russian Hacking" Claims - Clinton Again Loses It
3--US Hikes ‘Combat Power’ in Southern Syria, Seeing Shi’ite Militias as a Threat
At this point, US military spokesmen are now insisting that they are specifically scaling up their military presence in Syria just to deal with the “threat” posed by pro-government forces inside Syria. Though the US has been hostile toward Syria and sought regime change as a matter of policy, this suggests the Pentagon is moving directly toward a military confrontation.
That would be a huge shift, particularly as President Trump panned the suggestion throughout the 2016 campaign, warning that efforts to remove Assad from power militarily risks open war with Russia. For some reason, that concern appears to have been scrapped by the administration, with the US both determined to impose regime change in Syria, and unconcerned by the obvious consequences.
4--As tensions with US mount, Germany reaffirms “strategic partnership” with China (Trump policy spells an end to US global power and emergence of greater Europe)
Germany’s political and economic relations with China are already more developed than with any other country outside of the European Union (EU). Regular government consultations have been taking place between the two countries since 2011. “China was our most important trading partner in 2016, with a bilateral trade volume of €170 billion. These are already very impressive figures,” Merkel said. Merkel and Li had “discussed that we want to expand these developments, which have been positive for both sides.”
The two countries signed 11 agreements and declarations of intent, according to the German government’s web site, including on cooperation in air travel technology, electronic mobility and recycling technology, and in the area of artificial intelligence. Partners on the German side included industrial giants like Airbus, Daimler, VW and Bosch, as well as mid-sized businesses and research institutes.
Deutsche Bank signed a five-year cooperation agreement with the China Development Bank (CDB) on Tuesday. Both banks committed in the agreement to finance projects on the “New Silk Road,” up to a cost of $3 billion. With its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, the Chinese government hopes to revive the trade route of the Middle Ages with massive investments in infrastructure in order to connect China’s major economic centres with Europe and Africa...
The deepening cooperation between Berlin and Beijing in a number of important policy areas is directly bound up with fraying Transatlantic relations, which have been a cornerstone of German foreign policy since the founding of the Federal Republic 70 years ago. Following last week’s NATO and G7 summits, Merkel called the alliance with the US into question during a speech in a Munich beer tent on Sunday, and declared that Germany would now take its “fate” into its own hands.
5--Mark Blyth: "Global Trumpism" And The Revolt Against The Creditor Class
6--FBI Spying Machine: Who Allowed US 'Deep State' to Overstep Its Bounds
The ministry added that the US-led coalition and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are maintaining an open corridor for terrorists south of the city
Vladimir Putin: First of all, yes, I would like to share my reflections and thoughts on what is happening and on the reasons for this Russophobia. It is evident and in some countries is simply going beyond all bounds.
A multipolar world is emerging and this is partly due to Russia’s efforts to stand up for its interests, for its legitimate interests, let me stress. That is one aspect.
The second aspect is that some of our partners in some countries began making attempts a while back to contain Russia and limit its lawful desire to protect its national interests. They do this through all kinds of actions that are outside the framework of international law, including economic restrictions. Now, they see that this is not working and has produced no results. This irritates them and rouses them into using other methods to pursue their aims and tempts them to up the stakes. But we do not go along with these attempts, do not offer pretexts for action. They therefore need to invent pretexts out of nowhere.
How long will this last? I do not think it will go on forever, because sooner or later, people will wake up to the fact that this is counterproductive and harmful to all. Of course, it causes us some harm, but it also harms those who initiate these policies. I think that people are already coming around to this realisation. We see some very clear change in the situation, change for the better. I hope that this trend will continue.
Vladimir Putin: I have already commented on this issue many times. There was a question on this topic from one of your colleagues today. He put it very cautiously at the news conference, saying that ‘there are allegations that Russian hackers…’ Who is making these allegations? Based on what? If these are just allegations, then these hackers could be from anywhere else and not necessarily from Russia.
As President Trump once said, and I think that he was totally right when he said it could have been someone sitting on their bed or somebody intentionally inserted a flash drive with the name of a Russian national, or something like that. Anything is possible in this virtual world. Russia never engages in activities of this kind, and we do not need it. It makes no sense for us to do such things. What for?
I have already spoken to three US Presidents. They come and go, but politics stay the same at all times. Do you know why? Because of the powerful bureaucracy. When a person is elected, they may have some ideas. Then people with briefcases arrive, well dressed, wearing dark suits, just like mine, except for the red tie, since they wear black or dark blue ones. These people start explaining how things are done. And instantly, everything changes. This is what happens with every administration
Changing things is not easy, and I say this without any irony. It is not that someone does not want to, but because it is a hard thing to do. Take Obama, a forward-thinking man, a liberal, a democrat. Did he not pledge to shut down Guantanamo before his election? But did he do it? No, he did not. And may I ask why not? Did he not want to do it? He wanted to, I am sure he did, but it did not work out. He sincerely wanted to do it, but did not succeed, since it turned out to be very complicated.
This is not the main issue, however, even though it is important, since it is hard to fathom that people have been walking there in chains for decades without trial or investigation. Can you imagine France or Russia acting this way? This would have been a disaster. But it is possible in the United States and continues to this day. This refers to the question on democracy, by the way.
I referred to this example just to show that it is not as simple as it may seem. That said, I am cautiously optimistic, and I think that we can and should be able to reach agreements on key issues.
Question: You are saying that right now, the political storm in Washington rests on absolutely unsubstantiated allegations.
Vladimir Putin: It is not based on allegations, but on the desire of those who lost the elections in the United States to at least improve their standing through anti-Russia attacks, by accusing Russia of interference. The people who lost the elections do not want to admit that they really lost, that the one who won was closer to the people and better understood what ordinary voters want.
They are absolutely reluctant to admit this, and prefer deluding themselves and others into thinking it was not their fault, that their policy was correct, they did all the right things, but someone from the outside thwarted them. But it was not so. They just lost and they have to admit it.
When they do, I think it will be easier for us to work. However, the fact that this is being done using anti-Russia tools is not good, as it brings discord into international affairs. Let them argue among themselves, so they can prove who is stronger, who is better, who is smarter, who is more reliable and who sets a better policy for the country. Why involve third countries? This is very distressing. But it will pass, everything passes, and this will pass as well.
Vladimir Putin: I do not think I have the right to determine the political future of Syria, be it with or without al-Assad. This is for the Syrians themselves to decide. Nobody has the right to claim the rights that belong to the people of another country. This is the first thing I wanted to say.
Question: After Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, many people spoke about a new era in Russian-US relations. However, these relations do not seem to have made a new start. The NATO leaders spoke about the Russian threat at their summit last week.
Are you disappointed by the US attitude?
Vladimir Putin: No, I am not. We had no special expectations. The US President is steering a traditional US policy. Of course, we remember that during his election campaign, and also after he was elected and assumed office, President Trump spoke about his intention to normalise the relationship with Russia and said that it cannot be any worse. We remember this.
However, we also see and realise that the political situation in the United States is influenced by those who have lost the elections but refuse to accept their defeat, and who continue to use the anti-Russia card and various allegations most actively in the political infighting. This is why we are in no hurry, we are ready to wait, yet we strongly hope that Russian-US relations will become normal again sometime in the future.
Question: However, regarding NATO, some of your neighbours want to ensure their security through NATO. Is this a sign of mistrust to you, something that causes a scandalous attitude?
Vladimir Putin: For us this is a sign that our partners in Europe and in the United States are, pardon me, pursuing a short-sighted policy. They do not have the habit of looking one step ahead. Our Western partners have lost this habit.
When the Soviet Union ceased to exist, Western politicians told us (it was not documented on paper but stated quite clearly) that NATO would not expand to the East. Some German politicians at the time even proposed creating a new security system in Europe that would involve the United States and, by the way, Russia.
If that had been done, we would not have the problems we have had in recent years, which is NATO’s expansion to the East up to our borders, the advance of military infrastructure to our borders. Perhaps, the United States would not have unilaterally withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
This treaty was a cornerstone of current and future security. The missile defence facilities in Europe – in Poland and Romania – would not have been built, which, undoubtedly, creates a threat to our strategic nuclear forces and disrupts the strategic balance – an extremely dangerous development for international security. Perhaps all this would not have happened. But it did, and we cannot rewind history, it is not a movie.
We have to proceed from the current situation. In this respect, we need to think about what we want from the future. I think we all want security, peace, safety and cooperation. Therefore, we should not build up tensions or invent fictional threats from Russia, some hybrid warfare etc.
You made these things up yourselves and now scare yourselves with them and even use them to plan your prospective policies. These policies have no prospects. The only possible future is in cooperation in all areas, including security issues.
What is the major security problem today? Terrorism. There are bombings in Europe, in Paris, in Russia, in Belgium. There is a war in the Middle East. This is the main concern. But no, let us keep speculating on the threat from Russia.