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[Feb 14, 2020] Last year I was so mad at USA bulling Huawei and ZTE, decided to buy a Huawei Honor View V20 PCT-L29 Smartphone.

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

JC , Feb 13 2020 0:11 utc | 90

Last year I was so mad at USA bulling Huawei and ZTE, decided to buy a Huawei Honor View V20 PCT-L29 Smartphone. Global version on T-Mobile network . Still fumbling at the setting. This smartphone installed GPS and BeiDou (BDS). I never used Google searches but instead DuckDuckGo long ago

[Feb 14, 2020] I'm amazed that Chief Poodle Boris did not obediently obey His Master's Voice.

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ash Naz , Feb 12 2020 0:20 utc | 32

I'm amazed that Chief Poodle Boris did not obediently obey His Master's Voice.

What is going on?

I could understand if this was DNC/CIA-MI6 passing orders down the line (a la Skripal) to upset Trump but the US Intel Community has no interest in such a snub from the UK Govt.

Obviously this isn't the UK Govt asserting their independence from US instruction because such a thing has never happened in my lifetime.

Wierd.

Anyway, too bad I won't be able to read the thread on my phone tomorrow as Bruce has just broken the thread with his million-character link. :-(


Piotr Berman , Feb 12 2020 3:11 utc | 33

I'm amazed that Chief Poodle Boris did not obediently obey His Master's Voice.

What is going on?

Posted by: Ash Naz | Feb 12 2020 0:20 utc | 39

However I cringe and the obedient vassals, and Boris who may well be the Chief Poodle, given that exceedingly cute Justin is from another breed, Newtrumplander. But even poodles have privacy concerns, you know? What you web surf, what you buy, whom do you send gifts and WHAT gifts (dominatrix set?). However you trust NSA to use all that info solely for good causes, well, you know, not everyone is an exhibitionist...

Laguerre , Feb 12 2020 9:23 utc | 49
I'm amazed that Chief Poodle Boris did not obediently obey His Master's Voice.

Posted by: Ash Naz | Feb 12 2020 0:20 utc | 32

The reason is said to be that they've already bought and installed a lot of the Huawei equipment, and the new decision is just a fake, to justify the position.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/28/huawei-security-boris-johnson

Ash Naz , Feb 12 2020 13:17 utc | 52

@Laguerre:

The reason is said to be that they've already bought and installed a lot of the Huawei equipment, and the new decision is just a fake, to justify the position.

The financial angle makes sense, but what is the price of disobedience?

@Piotr Berman:

But even poodles have privacy concerns

The preventing blackmail angle makes sense too

And how useful to be able to use blackmail to get allies to jump when ordered? It's often said that Washington has no real friends, just obedient vassals.

Jon_in_AU , Feb 12 2020 14:50 utc | 54

Ash Naz|Feb 12 2020 0:20 utc|32 & Posted by: Laguerre|Feb 12 2020 9:23 utc|47

It would appear to me that the UK, by allowing Huawei (limited) access to their market, are achieving several advantageous outcomes.

1) They are preventing potential for a duopoly of Eriksson & Nokia on the hardware by allowing a third player into the market.
2) By only allowing a maximum of 35% of the market share, they prevent Huawei from quickly out-competing the others on price and capturing a monopoly.
3) They are only allowing access to the network comm's market, and not the core of the system, which may or may not protect against unwanted data capture and intrusion (by exactly whom remains the question - as per the article above).
4) It allows the four main network providers (especially EE, owned by BT) and the accompanying state surveillance apparatus the ability to familiarise themselves with Huawei tech/code/vulnerabilities which may be invaluable going forward. On this point alone, the USA (and Australia, among others) are doing themselves a great disservice by missing out on a learning experience from arguably the world leader in this technology.

As md|Feb 12 2020 8:29 utc|44 alluded to, they are claiming to allow clintele access to all code (and the freedom to modify it as desired). So denying them access to a particular market only hinders the technical understanding of the technology and its implementation, leaving such states behind.

The USA (and its' vassal client states) once again shoot themselves in the foot in a vain attempt to create and re-create the archetypal "boogeyman" for the populace to wring their hands over and keep them up at night. Fools.

Ps. Thank you B for another illuminating read.

[Feb 14, 2020] Trump and US has a horrible hand to play regarding Huawei. It's desperation time!

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

daffyDuct , Feb 12 2020 3:51 utc | 35


Trump and US has a horrible hand to play regarding Huawei. It's desperation time!

Mike Pence tries to link UK/US trade deal with Trump Huawei ban.

https://www.politicshome.com/news/world/united-states/donald-trump/news/109751/mike-pence-hints-us-uk-trade-deal-risk-because


Among Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, looks like Nokia's way behind.

https://www.itnews.com.au/news/fearing-huawei-curbs-deutsche-telekom-tells-nokia-to-shape-up-537710

U.S. to review new curbs on Huawei, China in Feb. meeting: sources (The Commerce Dept is keeping their potential "rules" vague to buy time)

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-usa-huawei-tech-meeting/u-s-to-review-new-curbs-on-huawei-china-in-feb-meeting-sources-idUKKBN1ZZ01H?rpc=401&

Pentagon Cites Supply Chain Sustainability For Opposing Huawei Sanctions

https://wccftech.com/pentagon-huawe-sanctions-supply-chain/


Barr scoffs at White House's anti-Huawei 5G approach
https://www.axios.com/barr-scoffs-at-white-houses-anti-huawei-5g-proposal-e3afb2c2-7f21-4609-a02e-ae3753f514f5.html

To counter Huawei, U.S. could take 'controlling stake' in Ericsson, Nokia: attorney general

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-espionage/to-counter-huawei-u-s-could-take-controlling-stake-in-ericsson-nokia-attorney-general-idUSKBN2001DL

(Jan 2018) Scoop: Trump team considers nationalizing 5G network
https://www.axios.com/trump-team-debates-nationalizing-5g-network-f1e92a49-60f2-4e3e-acd4-f3eb03d910ff.html

I enjoy David Goldman (Spengler) article at Asia Times. He accurately notes the vast lead Huawei/China has and then provides "but we can do something" bromides. What do mean "we", kimosabe?


daffyDuct , Feb 12 2020 3:55 utc | 36

Per a quote from Newt Gingrich's book ""Trump vs. China: Facing America's Greatest Threat", quoted recently by David Goldman. Gingrich didn't say who was the greatest threat, Trump or China.

"It is not China's fault that in 2017, 89% of Baltimore eighth graders couldn't pass their math exam

"It is not China's fault that too few Americans in K-12 and in college study math and science to fill the graduate schools with future American scientists

"It is not China's fault that, faced with a dramatic increase in Chinese graduate students in science, the government has not been able to revive programs like the 1958 National Defense Education Act

"It is not China's fault the way our defense bureaucracy functions serves to create exactly the 'military-industrial complex' that President Dwight Eisenhower warned about

"It is not China's fault that NASA has been so bureaucratic and its funding so erratic that there is every reason to believe that China is catching up rapidly and may outpace us. This is because of us not because of them

"It is not China's fault that the old, bureaucratic, entrenched American telecommunications companies failed to develop a global strategy for 5G over the 11 years that the Chinese company Huawei has been working to become a world leader "

farm ecologist , Feb 12 2020 3:59 utc | 37
I feel less uncomfortable about the possibility of being spied on by the Chinese than I do about the probability of being spied on by the US.
ak74 , Feb 12 2020 6:09 utc | 42
Here is another Orwellian irony that has been forgotten down the MemoryHole.

Way back in 2014, Edward Snowden revealed that the Americans (and the NSA in particular) were spying on Huawei dating back to at least 2007.

This American spying occurred before the current national security hysterics about Huawei, indeed, before most people in the USA had even heard of the company itself.

As this article states,

"In the final analysis, the NSA spying campaign against Huawei has two fundamental purposes. First, Huawei (unlike the American telecommunications companies) does not allow the NSA free access to its infrastructure to conduct spying on its products' users. Accordingly, as part of its mission of spying on the entire world's population, the NSA hacked into Huawei's systems in order to gather information traveling through its infrastructure.

Second, the spying campaign against Huawei is part of broader efforts to protect the profits and interests of American telecommunications companies at the expense of Huawei. This is the purpose of the NSA's particular interest in Huawei's executives and their 'leadership plans and intentions.'"

Edward Snowden exposes NSA spying against Chinese telecom firm Huawei
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/03/24/huaw-m24.html?view=print

md , Feb 12 2020 8:29 utc | 46
The other possible US objection is that Huawei will only let their customers spy, not third countries.
Posted by: Paul Cockshott | Feb 11 2020 21:57 utc | 20

So it seems. In the words of Ren Zhengfei 'When we transfer the tech, they can modify code on top of my tech, once that's through, it's not only shielded from me, it's shielded from everyone else in the world US 5G will be their own thing, there's no security concern, the only concern will be the U.S. keeping American companies (which bought it) in check.'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUUwK3DxGlA&feature=youtu.be

[Feb 07, 2020] The Consequence Of Globalism Is World Instability by Paul Craig Roberts

Highly recommended!
Yes, more complex systems are less stable.
Notable quotes:
"... The thoughtless people who constructed " globalism " overlooked that interdependence is dangerous and can have massive unintended consequences . With or without an epidemic, supplies can be cut off for a number of reasons. For example, strikes, political instability, natural catastrophes, sanctions and other hostilities such as wars, and so forth. Clearly, these dangers to the system are not justified by the lower labor cost and consequent capital gains to shareholders and bonuses to corporate executives. Only the one percent benefits from globalism. ..."
"... Globalism was constructed by people motivated by short-term greed. None of the promises of globalism have been delivered. Globalism is a massive mistake. Yet, almost everywhere political leaders and economists are protective of globalism. So much for human intelligence. ..."
Feb 07, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

If the coronavirus proves to be serious, as it does not appear to be at the present time, many economies could be adversely affected. China is the source of many parts supplied to producers in other countries, and China is the source of the finished products of many US firms such as Apple. If shipments cannot be made, sales and production outside of China are affected. Without revenues, employees cannot be paid. Unlike the financial crisis of 2008, this would be an unemployment crisis and bankruptcy of large manufacturing and marketing corporations.

This is the danger to which globalism makes us vulnerable. If US corporations produced in the US the products that they market in the US and the world, an epidemic in China would affect only their Chinese sales, not threaten the companies' revenues.

The thoughtless people who constructed " globalism " overlooked that interdependence is dangerous and can have massive unintended consequences . With or without an epidemic, supplies can be cut off for a number of reasons. For example, strikes, political instability, natural catastrophes, sanctions and other hostilities such as wars, and so forth. Clearly, these dangers to the system are not justified by the lower labor cost and consequent capital gains to shareholders and bonuses to corporate executives. Only the one percent benefits from globalism.

Globalism was constructed by people motivated by short-term greed. None of the promises of globalism have been delivered. Globalism is a massive mistake. Yet, almost everywhere political leaders and economists are protective of globalism. So much for human intelligence.

At this point of time, it is difficult to understand the hysteria over coronavirus and predictions of global pandemic. In China there are about 24,000 infections and 500 deaths in a population of 1.3 billion people. This is an inconsequential illness. Compared to the ordinary seasonal flu that infects millions of people worldwide and kills 600,000, the coronavirus so far amounts to nothing. Infections outside of China are miniscule and appear to be limited to Chinese people. It is difficult to know for certain, because of the reluctance to identify people by race.

Yet China has huge areas in quarantine, and travel to and from the country is restricted. Nothing like these precautions are taken against seasonal flu. So far this flu season in the US alone 19 million people have been sickened, 180,000 hospitalized, and 10,000 have died. The latest report is that 16 people in the US (possibly all Chinese) have come down with coronavirus, and none have died.

Perhaps the coronavirus is just warming up and much worse is to come. If so, world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will take a hit. Quarantines prevent work. Finished products and parts cannot be made and shipped. Sales cannot take place without products to sell. Without revenues companies cannot pay employees and other expenses. Incomes decline across the world. Companies go bankrupt.

You can take it from here.

If a deadly coronavirus pandemic or some other one does erupt and there is a world depression, we should be very clear in our mind that globalism was the cause. Countries whose governments are so thoughtless or corrupt as to make their populations vulnerable to disruptive events abroad are medically, economically, socially, and politically unstable.

The consequence of globalism is world instability.


yerfej , 47 minutes ago link

It makes sense for rich countries elites to leverage poor backwards shithole countries to manufacture the things they need because the elites then don't have to worry about anyone but themselves. Globalism is wonder as it bypasses all that crazy western nonsense like jobs and wages and society and hope and such.

Coram Justice , 1 hour ago link

"Bolshevism is globalism according to Lenin."
Prof. V. G. Liulevicius, Utopia & Terror in the 20th Century

Street Chief Martin , 2 hours ago link

Globalism is nothing more than the major central banks finding ways to dump off their inflation which is the deflation of an ever increasing number countries which the major cb's used to deflate their currencies. The older the cb you are the worse off yo are. From a since A.D. perspective only the Sterling is what you have to worry. From my last fiat currency perspective its the Venisthaler that is un doing everything.

To get more zero's you have to add more nine's. They can not be added as nausem like people think zero's are. The compensation pool has been shrinking for centuries on end now. Globalism is an attempt to keep the pool growing at all cost which results relentless asset appreciation. We are out of nine's. The end result of that is hyper deflation for the man and hyper reflation for the people. Easily provable at a store named Vons owned by the treasury retired.

That ladies and gents is your simplified street fed explanation. I am not trying to even remotely write out the longer technical version.

Having said that meet me at what is known as the small walmart around here, which is the home of what does MU do, what does MU do at walmart it never gets old fame for a real life walk thru of what globalism is and looks like. We will then progress to the "Big Walmart" not even a mile away and I will show you what an out of control system looks like.

So we are clear of what I just said. I live in the only place in the world where when a tourist ask you where Wal Mart is, you get your choice of size. Whats the difference you ask??? The small Wal Mart has one main entrance, the big one has three. The lady almost smacked the **** out of the guy I got that from when she asked what the difference was. The hand came up. You really had to be there.

rtb61 , 2 hours ago link

Regional trade blocks with relatively balanced resource and production capabilities make more sense. Globalisation just lead to one country seeking to 'DOMINATE' in every sphere of global activity, raising the threats of economic and military conflict, as clearly demonstrated and this with the aim of global enslavement to multinational corporations, the aim of Globalism, really sick psychopathic stuff.

Regional trade blocks relatively balanced for resource and production, provide stability within each block and lesson competition for outside resource and commercial competitiveness, and represents a far more long term stable structure.

Within each trade block, as it is economic rather than socio-political the original identities of each distinct region can be preserved for the long term, so that future generations can enjoy and share in the different cultures. Race ******** is race ********, there is only one race and all of it's people are free to share in which ever culture they choose or combinations there of. Whether you get to move to those regions and enjoy those cultures will be done to your personal worth, character and ability to contribute to those societies, just the way it will be.

Some economic blocks will be far more preferable to others and will attract higher worth individuals (character and ability to contribute to society), the least and most desirable will become more so as higher worth individuals move to the most preferable away from the least preferable and make the most preferable more preferable by their active presence.

I would tip the Japan Australia one to be the most preferable for this century, the next hard to tell (there are real deep problems in the Americas caused by the USA, the EU had an bad immigrant problem as in they let in too many bad unvetted immigrants, Africa will be what Africa will be corrupt and Russia China it depends upon how quickly the modernise and socially advance, the middle of the middles south east to mid east it depends how long it takes them to come together and religion is a real problem for them).

free corn , 2 hours ago link

Competing MAD capable nations need communication/cooperation to keep the world somewat stable, that's one reason for Globalism. Author sucks.

headless blogger , 4 hours ago link

I've been wondering if this might be some kind of Globalist Drill. It doesn't make sense, although there is always the potential it could become worse than it is.

uhland62 , 3 hours ago link

I thought so, too. Strangely enough, Wuhan Chinese are now repatriated from Bali back to Wuhan?!

Instability is a necessary condition to get more conflicts and then wars going. Weapons production must be kept up; peace and stability would make make weapons production an expensive hobby.

Shifter_X , 4 hours ago link

Globalism is the shredding of nations, peoples, traditions, culture and religion.

It is failing and will continue to fail for two reasons:

1. Good fences make good neighbors

2. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

People are not going to stand for these destructive invasions any more. Bottom-of-the-barrel wages, crap jobs, high crime -- it's coming to a head.

I hope every nation in the EU exits.

Every idiot in Congress who supports this ridiculous bill that would make illegal immigration legal, require that the US NOT deport criminals and that we taxpayers pay to bring CRIMINALS we've deported, back to the USA, should be stripped of citizenship and kicked off the planet.
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5383/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22chamberActionDateCode%3A%5C%222019-12-10%7C116%7C1000%5C%22+AND+billIsReserved%3A%5C%22N%5C%22%22%5D%7D&r=10&s=4

Have you SEEN this **** pending in Congress???

surf@jm , 5 hours ago link

Globalism was outlawed forever at the Tower of Babel.....

That law has never been revoked....

[Feb 03, 2020] Boris Johnson acting as if he can threaten the EU with a no deal at the end of the transition period by Yves Smith

Notable quotes:
"... If the strategy is to pressurise the EU into giving the UK a better trade deal though, it is unlikely to be treated as a credible threat. In the short to medium term, the UK is in no position to set up inspection systems which could handle the volume of goods coming in from EU Member States . ..."
"... The fundamental problem is that the most brilliant team of negotiators in the world can't do anything unless they have a clear negotiating mandate. (This was the case in 1972 and 1991 by the way). There comes a point in negotiations where you have to decide whether to stick, twist or bust, and you can only do that if you have a clear idea of the overall political objectives of your masters. There's nothing worse (it's happened to me) than to be sent out to die in a ditch on some issue only to find out half way through that your principals have had a rethink and changed their position. It doesn't do your credibility any good, but it also makes it practically impossible to negotiate, because nobody believes you afterwards when you say "no." ..."
"... Johnson has one fatal weakness – the Faustian bargain he struck to deliver a hard Brexit to win the prime ministership. Any economic bounce this year will be short-lived: the Bank of England's forecast of 1.1% growth for the next three years could even be optimistic, as both inward direct investment and UK business investment dry up when access to the EU single market and customs union ceases. The Canada-style trade deal Johnson advocates is as close to self-immolation as economics provides. Britain already has a vast trade deficit in goods that will widen alarmingly as competitive overseas exporters take advantage of zero tariffs, while services – where Britain has great competitive strengths – will be crippled by being denied their former EU markets. It is insane and risks an unstoppable run on the pound, as a former cabinet minister privately agreed. Renewed austerity and recession will follow. ..."
"... For Johnson the first objective of Brexit is to place greater controls on labor. The intention is to ensure that by controlling free movement labor itself can be controlled, and so too can its price be kept at rates the government would desire. And that is low, of course. ..."
"... Freeports are instead about permitting the free movement of capital beyond the control of the state and without the imposition of any taxes. ..."
"... Quite bizarrely, given that freeports are effectively declared to be outside the country that creates them, one of the major objectives Johnson has for Brexit is to carve whole chunks of the UK out of the control he claims to have just taken back, and to pass it over to the free loaders who frequent freeports. ..."
"... The aim of freeports is to undermine the state. It achieves this by suspending the law. Freeports permit illicit activity ..."
Feb 03, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

On the one hand, we Americans are hardly ones to talk about empty posturing, usually accompanied with moral indignation and finger-wagging. On the other hand, it isn't just that the Government's approach to Brexit has been heavy on theatrics and thin on substance. It's also that the UK is in Groundhog Day mode, subjecting the rest of us to tired tropes yet another time.

The latest iteration of this far-too-familiar play is Boris Johnson acting as if he can threaten the EU with a no deal at the end of the transition period. Specifically, Johnson has made a big show of poking the EU in the eye by setting forth his tough guy negotiating demands over this past weekend. Admittedly, the Prime Minister isn't setting out his position formally until Monday, but there's no mystery as to what it will be: a rejection of accepting EU rules yet saying it wants a Canada-style free trade agreement.

... ... ...

The BBC said Johnson also intends to threaten the EU with customs checks at UK point of entry. As Richard North pointed out, the EU is not impressed :

If the strategy is to pressurise the EU into giving the UK a better trade deal though, it is unlikely to be treated as a credible threat. In the short to medium term, the UK is in no position to set up inspection systems which could handle the volume of goods coming in from EU Member States .

Needless to say, a "senior EU source" has rejected the idea of reacting to Johnson's plan to impose import controls. "We saw similar threats from Theresa May" he says, "but frankly we never believed them. And if the UK is actually ready for border checks – which are indeed coming – then so much the better for both sides".

Even the normally sober Economist concludes that Johnson is aiming for " the hardest possible Brexit ." He does have a fallback:

"A government source said last night: "There are only two likely outcomes in negotiation, a free trade deal like Canada or a looser arrangement like Australia – and we are happy to pursue both." Australia is the new euphemism for No Deal or WTO ! https://t.co/BDpwb4Z3qP

-- S & W Yorkshire for Europe (@SWYforEurope) February 3, 2020

Some dry humor from the Financial Times:

This new stance has prompted bafflement in Brussels, given that Canberra is still in the process of negotiating a wide-ranging trade deal with the EU.

... ... ...

Needless to say, this does not look pretty. As I said to our Brexit mavens by e-mail yesterday:

Johnson is playing a game of chicken. He's already lashed himself to the mast of 11 months.

Sir Ivan Rogers basically warned that the early months would amount to shape of the table talks and he thought negotiations could break down then. I would not see that as lasting but with time so tight any delay increases the risk of bad outcomes. And Sir Ivan warned that there had never been a trade deal between countries trying to get further apart. He's stressed that point so often that I think he is saying at least that the human dynamics of that make getting to a deal more difficult.

Again, if the time weren't so rigid, the odds would look completely different.

And the EU would almost certainly give an extension if the UK asked .but at a price .and would Johnson ever ask? The most I can see him being able to finesse might be say a 2 -3 month "technical" extension, which won't buy meaningful negotiating runway given the complexity of deals like this.

Now we've seen these games of chicken resolve without a crash before, but Johnson is making it difficult as hell, and the UK is further hampered by a Foreign Office which is short staffed and has effectively no experience negotiating trade deals.

David's response:

The fundamental problem is that the most brilliant team of negotiators in the world can't do anything unless they have a clear negotiating mandate. (This was the case in 1972 and 1991 by the way). There comes a point in negotiations where you have to decide whether to stick, twist or bust, and you can only do that if you have a clear idea of the overall political objectives of your masters. There's nothing worse (it's happened to me) than to be sent out to die in a ditch on some issue only to find out half way through that your principals have had a rethink and changed their position. It doesn't do your credibility any good, but it also makes it practically impossible to negotiate, because nobody believes you afterwards when you say "no."

Not only do I not think Johnson has no real negotiating objectives, I also believe that he's uninterested in even fairly high-level detail, and sees the negotiations as one more jolly game that he wants to win. My fear is that he's out to deliberately sabotage progress in order to create drama and tension, only to fly to the rescue at the very last minute. This is more than dangerous. "Insane" is perhaps the word for it.

Some other takes. Will Hutton in the Guardian contends that Johnson has become a prisoner of the allegiances he made to become Prime Minister (and Hutton is very complimentary of the moves Johnson has made so far ex Brexit). I'm not sure I agree, since before his ascent, Johnson was famed for shamelessly reversing himself and getting away with it. But Johnson sure looks like someone who is choosing to throw away the steering wheel. From the Guardian:

However, Johnson has one fatal weakness – the Faustian bargain he struck to deliver a hard Brexit to win the prime ministership. Any economic bounce this year will be short-lived: the Bank of England's forecast of 1.1% growth for the next three years could even be optimistic, as both inward direct investment and UK business investment dry up when access to the EU single market and customs union ceases. The Canada-style trade deal Johnson advocates is as close to self-immolation as economics provides. Britain already has a vast trade deficit in goods that will widen alarmingly as competitive overseas exporters take advantage of zero tariffs, while services – where Britain has great competitive strengths – will be crippled by being denied their former EU markets. It is insane and risks an unstoppable run on the pound, as a former cabinet minister privately agreed. Renewed austerity and recession will follow.

Johnson and his Brexit cabinet, backed by our Europhobic rightwing press, will blame dastardly Europeans for the crisis – and the anti-foreigner mood will grow ugly. But even if the worst is avoided, Britain is plainly not going to grow at "new dawn" rates of up to 2.8%, as our curiously naive chancellor wants. Rather, the years ahead are going to be a drip of disappointments, as the reality of a hard Brexit bites. And on this Johnson cannot be breezily opportunistic and convert to a soft Brexit, tempted though he may be. He will be imprisoned by his know-nothing right – the European Research Group in full battle cry.

Richard North argues , "What this looks like, therefore, is Johnson setting up his alibi for the failure of the talks, getting his blame game cranked into gear before the EU can react." And Richard Murphy contends Johnson knows what he is doing, which it to put in place Singapore on the Thames :

https://www.youtube.com/embed/gn2W4JtYpjE?feature=oembed

Nothing I have yet seen so starkly states what Brexit is all about.

For Johnson the first objective of Brexit is to place greater controls on labor. The intention is to ensure that by controlling free movement labor itself can be controlled, and so too can its price be kept at rates the government would desire. And that is low, of course.

And his second objective is to create freeports. He will claim that these are all about creating regulation free hubs for enterprise. This is completely untrue. There is no evidence that regulation free ports have ever generated work, wealth, much employment, or free market enterprise, come to that. This is unsurprising. That is not what freeports are about, at all. Freeports are instead about permitting the free movement of capital beyond the control of the state and without the imposition of any taxes.

Quite bizarrely, given that freeports are effectively declared to be outside the country that creates them, one of the major objectives Johnson has for Brexit is to carve whole chunks of the UK out of the control he claims to have just taken back, and to pass it over to the free loaders who frequent freeports.

To understand how freeports really work I suggest watching this video. I know it's not in English, but it's good, and explains how the Geneva freeport works to handle diamonds, gold, armaments, fine art and rare wines, all beyond the control of authorities and all beyond the reach of tax:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/CwuMY-_V4dc?feature=oembed

The aim of freeports is to undermine the state. It achieves this by suspending the law. Freeports permit illicit activity. They permit wealth to be accumulated in secret. That wealth is beyond the reach of tax. Research suggests that much of that wealth is also shielded by anonymous offshore shell companies that disguise the ownership of an asset even if it can be located. The object is to ensure wealth can accumulate without constraint.

This is the paradox that Johnson revealed in his video. He wants to control and constrain people. He will use that power to oppress, not just those who want to come to the UK but also, of course, those who wish to leave the UK as well. The market in labour will be constrained. People will suffer as a result.

At the same time the market in illicit wealth will be liberated to traffic at will. The cost will be to us all, in lost tax revenue, increased inequality and the undermining of the rule of law. Additional jobs will be few and far between.

And let's not for a moment pretend that any freeport activity supports markets: creating ring fences always creates unlevel playing fields that will always, by definition and in practice, undermine effective markets. So there is nothing in this policy that is about wealth creation: it is all about wealth expropriation and extraction.

This is what Brexit was for. And Johnson admitted it last night. One day people will realise.

If Murphy is correct, that would explain Johnson's recent conversion to fixity of purpose, at least with Brexit. We'll have more clues in due course whether the hard core Brexit faction is mad like a fox or simply a different variant of the madness we've seen all along.


notabanktoadie , February 3, 2020 at 5:57 am

but it's good, and explains how the Geneva freeport works to handle diamonds, gold , armaments, fine art and rare wines, all beyond the control of authorities and all beyond the reach of tax: [bold added]

Gold obviously has value in industry but its use as or to back fiat is inherently corrupt* and obsolete** too.

So let's please quit idolizing a corrupt and obsolete money form, i.e. Central Banks, along with other reforms, should be required, in a manner to promote the general welfare, to sell all private asset forms, including precious metals such as gold.

*Fiat is backed by the authority and power of the State to tax and needs no other backing; hence to "back" fiat with gold is to do no such thing but is to back gold with the authority and power of the State to tax, a violation of equal protection under the law.

**Historically, precious metals had some use as an anti-counterfeiting measure but modern payment systems have no need for such.

PlutoniumKun , February 3, 2020 at 6:10 am

Yup, the Freeports thing is clearly the Big Idea that lots of Brexit backers are hoping to cash in on. Of course, what will happen is that lots of manufacturers will simply move into the Freeports to save on taxes and regulations and close down their existing premises.

The UK has been there before – Thatcher was a huge fan of Development Corporations which were low tax low regulation zones in crumbling industrial areas of the North and Midlands. They became a byword for outright corruption. And of course huge areas which were supposed to be redeveloped for industry became distribution hubs or frequently just massive shopping malls (such as Merry Hill in the West Midlands, owned by two major Tory financial contributors). Various studies after the event intended to demonstrate their success were quietly buried when the results were not as expected. In reality, they were a costly failure.

vlade , February 3, 2020 at 6:19 am

"costly failure". I believe the words you were looking for were "corporate welfare".

[Feb 03, 2020] Numerical illiteracy of the modern world

The Western MSM is relentlessly trying to sell this coronavirus epidemic as a China failure
Feb 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Jeff Harrison , Feb 2 2020 17:24 utc | 9
This corona virus panic is interesting. RT has an interesting piece that points out that corona virus has been officially recognized in some 8,000 odd people and 200 odd people have died from it, we need a sense of perspective. World wide seasonal flu, kills between 350,000 and 600,000 people each year. Tuberculosis kills over 1,000,000 people each year. Malaria kills a similar number. AIDS killed over 500,000 last year. And we're panicking about 200 or so?

TJ , Feb 2 2020 19:11 utc | 23

Just had an email from a company I deal with in China, the relevant passages-

2. The company has been following instructions from the Chinese government to postpone the Spring Festival holiday to Feb. 9th, 2020 if not any further postpone. But, we believe most of our services should be provided as usual since then.

5. We also would like your attention that there's yet no evidence or cases to support the transmission of the novel coronavirus through packages or imported goods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the US, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. The National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China advises that coronavirus is spread most often by respiratory droplets from one person to another, regular packages from Wuhan can be received as usual. Reference links are attached as the footnote below for your references.[1]
6. The Company will take proactive measures like ultraviolet light to ensure a safe and healthy environment of its warehouse. Disinfection work will be conducted before each delivery.

[Feb 01, 2020] Stragulation of nations with petty laws in EU: the "regulatory ecosystem" that the EU has evolved is unsound

Feb 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jerry , Jan 31 2020 19:51 utc | 24

I like Moon aka Bernard or whatever but he says the EU needs slightly less regulation. This stupid giant politically correct police state has like 66,000 laws and they pass 5,000 new ones a year. Nanny police state fascism and all they do is steal money from the taxpayers of Europe. It is a Central Bank ponzi scheme that is going to implode.

Most recent joke today is the EU Army which has pretty much no working tanks, planes or ships. Who are they going to fight anyway? The Russians? God help Europe - maybe Russians and Putin might reinstate Christianity in Europe and throw off the yoke of the CIA/MIC/Operation Gladio-Mockingbird from USA.


SteveK9 , Feb 1 2020 12:49 utc | 94

vk , Feb 1 2020 13:35 utc | 95
The impression I'm getting from comments here is that there are still many Europeans (in the broad sense, both EU and British) in complete denial.

Europe is in decline, not in ascension. The numbers just came out yesterday: 0.1% for the EU (with France and Italy in recession); UK's number for Q4 are still one month away, but Q3 was also pathetic.

World trade (globalization) has grown to a halt. It's all maxed out already, there are no more free trade deals to be made.

Germany is in de facto recession. Most worryingly, its industrial output is plummeting - with only its services sector keeping the whole thing afloat. And we know that's not how the German economy should work.

The UK is still a capitalist economy - free from the EU or not. It will not invest in those fabled renewable energy sources from tide, wind etc. etc. if the profit rates are not high enough. And they are not high enough. The only way, then, for those investments to happen is if energy prices spike up - very bad news for the British people (which, fair to say, could happen in or out of the EU, so this is not a Brexit question).

Many countries in Europe tried to invest in those renewable, but apart from insignificant micro-nations such as Denmark, most failed to supplant the old sources. It was reduced to a complementary source.

The only reason to think the European Peninsula can rise from the ashes is that it rose from the ashes before (post-war miracle). But the post-war miracle was a very exceptional historical period, where a lot of improbable variables aligned. It will certainly not happen again.

The European peoples should stop with their dellusions of grandeur and accept a treaty of Eurasian integration, with a subordinate status to Russia and China. You did it before with the USA in 1945, you can do it again now with Russia/China. That is unexceptional in European History, and can certainly happen again.

Likklemore , Feb 1 2020 14:06 utc | 96
Posted by: Patroklos | Feb 1 2020 7:35 utc | 83

The Commonwealth long since ceased to have any meaning for the UK other than as a vestige of an expropriative empire, which has been a caricature since 1942[.]
If you think that the land mass of the Commonwealth represents a kind of control comparable to the EU then you need to study the last century[.]

In that comment you have attracted Her Majesty's displeasure. Suggest a read up of the 53 Commonwealth countries' property ownership in common law - in fee simple>radical title > The Crown's underlying title in common law. Oh, add the thirteen colonies prior to the American revolution found unpalatable.

Bubbles , Feb 1 2020 14:09 utc | 97
Fun read from George Galloway @RT. Lot's of things independent minded folk can agree with but pay particular attention to the conclusion / ending and give it a 1 to 10 reality rating.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/479595-brexit-eu-uk-future/

Eloquent words of inspiration and Hopium are so nice to read in the morning.

Nemesiscalling , Feb 1 2020 14:30 utc | 98
@89 LuBa

No, I don't think so.

Think of the absolutely absurd straight line that separates Canada from the U.S. West of the great lakes.

Now think of that artificially imposed boundary and ask yourself, "What a stupid line, surely that line wouldn't be able to instill any cultural differences between two artificial constructs (nations)?"

(Anecdotally, I live in the Pac NW and every time I have ever crossed the border into Canada it literally feels like you are entering a retiring, European state.)

And then ask yourself how it is possible one country has a national healthcare system while the other abhors the idea. Or why the U.S. has the worst gun violence in the First World while Canada has a 1/10th of that number.

Face it, regardless of lines on a map, a national identity still gives a people the choice to galvanize and develop independently.

Bubbles , Feb 1 2020 14:35 utc | 99
Posted by: SteveK9 | Feb 1 2020 12:49 utc | 94

Apologies to Steve as I didn't see you had already posted the link to Galloway's story and should have referenced your post.

Russianasset , Feb 1 2020 15:08 utc | 100
I think the EU is in for more trouble in the future than the UK. By the end of this decade, several central and eastern European countries economies will have grown sufficiently that their EU yearly subsidies will now become EU payments. In other words, the EU cash cow will suddenly become a cash drain for some countries. In the meantime, France and Germany will have the pick up the financial slack caused by Brexit. Put it all together and it seems to me some trouble ahead for the EU.
English Outsider , Feb 1 2020 15:17 utc | 101
A User @ 58

I believe you have stated the underlying facts here -

"b is correct tho that the tendency of politicians pretending to be technocrats to centralise in order to build a trade-able power base must be halted. otherwise the national devolution movements become superseded by a Brussels top down pyramid management structure where citizens are too removed from decision makers and the decision makers are too removed from the results of their decisions."

That's the reason we have to leave the EU.

The next question is how.

The central fact here is that on a key point Brussels is absolutely in the right. Frictionless access to the Single Market - what we have now - can only go with Dynamic Alignment - continuing adherence to EU regulations. This fact was obscured during the vacillations of the May Premiership and may still be being obscured.

Me, I think the "regulatory ecosystem" that the EU has evolved is unsound. It also goes well beyond the technical setting of standards (most of which are set outside the EU in any case) and affects matters far removed from the purely technical. But it's what they have and it's not for us to attempt to change it.

Much of the hostility from the EU derives from the belief that as we leave we are trying to change their system, and for our own benefit. All the fears of "Cherry picking" and the rest. But it's not that they won't change. They can't, not without an entire recasting of that regulatory ecosystem. That would cause chaos if they attempted to do it. Engrenage is their watchword, the gradual accumulation of regulation and prescription, not demolition or radical rebuilding.

In short, for the reasons you have given above, we have to leave. When we consider the "how", we see that there is no magic solution that allows us to leave while continuing trading as if we have not left. Out really does mean out.

So where's the problem?

We've built up a good many trade links with the 27, the EU countries. They are vulnerable links, particularly the JIT links. It's going to take time to run down these links and replace them with new. We have other links as well - through the agencies - that will also take time to replace.

Such changes could take several years. If Brussels insists on that process happening overnight the result is serious disruption. On the principle that the EU is so much larger the calculation is that that disruption would hurt the UK much more than the EU. That is Brussels' bargaining counter.

Whether Brussels is using that counter for punitive reasons or whether it is using it in order to retain at least some control over the UK is irrelevant. The threat is there, however you look at it.

Some think we should face the threat down. I do - I think it is bluff. Others think we should not face it down - they fear it is not bluff. We wait to see which course the Johnson administration will adopt, not forgetting that the previous UK administration, and certainly the previous Parliament, didn't much like Brexit anyway - they wanted to stay in or close - and we're not yet sure what Johnson's position is.

.


(Note - engrenage as it works in practice explained here)

http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=76804

[Feb 01, 2020] Quotes of former and current neoliberals suggest that globalization is an essential part of neoliberal doctrine

Notable quotes:
"... In this sense the current backlash is a sign of collapse of this ideology ..."
Feb 01, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

In this sense the current backlash is a sign of collapse of this ideology

General Titus , 22 minutes ago link

"The affirmative task we have now is to actually create a new world order."

-- Vice President Joe Biden, April 5, 2013

"Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective -- a new world order -- can emerge."

-- President George H. W. Bush, September 11, 1990

"We saw deterioration where there should have been positive movement toward a new world order."

-- Mikhail Gorbachev, October 19, 2011

"I think that his [Obama's] task will be to develop an overall strategy for America in this period, when really a 'new world order' can be created. It's a great opportunity."

-- Henry Kissinger, January 5, 2009

https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/15036-joe-biden-on-creating-a-new-world-order

RoboFascist 1st , 1 hour ago link

Remember it was the British that basically established political Zionism as a state back in Palestine.

It was Trump that declared Jerusalem as the 'eternal capital' of anti-Christ Judaism.

Boris Johnson is a 'passionate Zionist' by his own proclamation.

This is about a realignment of Zionist interest in the English speaking world.

The EU wasn't going to play ball on the terms of American (and British) Zionism.

The English (KJV) world of eschatology demands a pseudo-Christianity to bow down to the interests of anti-Christ Jewish nationalism. (It is why the U.S. Senate has passed legislation making it illegal to criticize 'Israel' as 'anti-Semitic')

American evangelicals are being misrepresented by heretics like John Hagee and a pseudo-Christianity that cares not for Jesus Christ at all but rather maintains a focus only on 'Israel'. A dual covenant theology mixed with heresies galore served up in a controlled media that doesn't allow for the recognition of Christianity as the real Israel against a history of the destruction of ancient Israel because of their rejection of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

The New Testament Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen is Jesus foretelling and giving clear reason for the destruction of anti-Christ Judaism in 70 AD.

The heresies of John Darby and Cyrus Scofield (again nearly exclusively in English) have created everything from British Israelism to fear and anxiety hustling crapola such as Hal Lindsey and The Late Great Planet Earth end of the world heresies.

On the basis of Christian heresy has emerged anti-Christ political Zionism and its vast adherents in the English speaking world now realigning.

[Feb 01, 2020] Britain now could easily be maneuvered into a similar vassal state situation with the US as Canada

Feb 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

A P , Feb 1 2020 15:35 utc | 102

To Nemesiscalling 98:

The way most Canadians define themselves and our country is in NOT being like the US in the most important ways. The decline into US-vassalage has been incrementally implemented since WW2, but there is still hope. Scheer and Ignatief found out exactly what Canadians thought about having a dual Cdn/US citizen PM... NOT HAPPENING. Harper found out trying to US-ify Canada was a bad idea.

The Cdn-US cultural border has been basically open for decades, the effectiveness of CRTC Cdn-content rules have been diluted to the point of irrelevance. But still we Canucks prefer little things like our free medical and minimal military bloat to the US shit-show.

But highly unlikely Canada will return to the "preferred trading status" the Commonwealth enforced. NAFTA Part Deux pretty much blocks that.

So Britain could easily be maneuvered into a similar vassal state situation with the US as Canada, but what will Britain bring to the table the US military/corporatocracy would want? No natural resources to speak of, so what is on offer? A handy military lily-pad perhaps, but the US already has that, and can't see Britain booting the US military off the island.

Britain is in a VERY weak bargaining position with the US, if anything weaker as it closes one avenue of access/influence the US has within the EU.


Nemesiscalling , Feb 1 2020 15:55 utc | 103

@102 a user

Britain has already been a de facto vassal state when it comes to aligning itself with every empire FP misadventure abroad for 30 years.

I do not think the U.S. will give the U.K. a bad deal. I think this is the hope of many here who foolishly advocate for the EU, which is really a byproduct of their unconscious from their academia templates they wish to lay down over the world a la a good technocrat.

They will get along swimmingly. The U.S. is looking for better deals as opposed to getting raped by China under the globalist paradigm.

[Feb 01, 2020] The most encouraging aspect of the BREXIT SNAFU is that it confirms the suspicions/ wishful thinking of many observers that fissures are appearing in the neoliberal fabric

Feb 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Hoarsewhisperer , Feb 1 2020 3:13 utc | 71

The most encouraging aspect of the BREXIT SNAFU is that it confirms the suspicions/ wishful thinking of many observers that fissures are appearing in the fabric which unites the Masters Of The Universe/ the 1%.
With China's Belt & Road Initiative gaining momentum, the weaponisation of the USD, and many countries looking East, it won't be difficult to cook up wedge issues to further erode the "unity" of the EU.
When the recession starts biting and politicians begin prattling about "Austerity" (for the 99%) it'll be time to instigate a thorough investigation into the Tax Haven Network, and a vigorous debate about how and why they should be closed down, the assets therein redistributed in a Fair & Balanced way, and the perps imprisoned or executed for Tax Evasion, Greed and Perjury.

[Feb 01, 2020] Brexit and GB financial industry

Brexit is a clear hit for the GB financial industry.
Feb 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
A User , Feb 1 2020 0:00 utc | 58
The englanders refused to accept that the primary issue was never about brexit stay or go, but what philosophy would underpin england for the next decades.
The picked the mean, racist, classist & regionalist (only the south east matters) Tory Party so it won't be pretty. Yep the tories won seats in the working class areas of the midlands & further north in addition to the seats in the bourgeois areas up there they already held and yep Johnson did make noises about spending up large up there. However since the remainers in the south east didn't desert the tories, I doubt much will be diverted outside the south east, represented by long-standing MP's who don't 'talk funny' ie have a regional accent unlike the new largely inexperienced northern representatives.
It was M Thatcher who introduced the heroin addict traineeships for miners & factory workers in place of their jobs and I do not see the lobbyists who have worked so hard to ensure that the financialisation of everything industry grew to be the major component of the englander economy, countenancing anything more than token funds being diverted from them, not least because that industry is going to take a major hit.
There is no way the EU is going to agree to england's banks & finance corps getting anything like the same deal england had in the EU which means that the tax avoidance rorts are going to be harder to implement whilst being more transparent to regulators.

Already stockbrokers, accountancy firms and a couple of the bigger banks are checking out the weather in frankfurt now.
If the EU's shift to 137 governments international tax rules for tech giants idea remains as minimal & toothless as it appears to be, most corporate CFO's are going to see the notion of doing business in another jurisdiction & another currency expensive & pointless, when the job can be done easier within the EU.

I'm sure that those banksters who cannot or will not shift their operations outta London have some big strategy for persuading the EU to give way and treat the City as if it is still in the EU, but that price will be high for all other englander industries, leaving Jo/Joe Blow and the rest of the 99% in worse crap than they were before.

Sasha , Feb 1 2020 16:25 utc | 105

In case it gets hard for the UK economically after Brexit, the City of London will ask for Johnson´s head, who will not hesitate, as Eton privileged class, selling what of welfare still remains there, especially what Trump will for sure demand, the NHS, to try to save face...

They will not low Johnson or his successor´s wage, nor will renounce to their billionaire earnings, it will be he working class who will lose, as always happens. Then, probably a new labor movement will arise...but after having payed such a price....

The best and most realistic analysis, from satire group ICYMI member (v this time notice his graveness...)

Gloating Brexiteers happier about beating smug Remoaners than leaving EU

Much more realistic than the delusional vision by Galloway, since to reach his dreamt utopic state of affairs through this way, working people in the UK will first have to suffer a lot, even a confrontation amongst ecah other, which is the "ultra-right" agenda, chaos from which they reap...

[Feb 01, 2020] UK Came Went, Leaving Europe in a Mess

Feb 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Barovsky , Jan 31 2020 20:57 utc | 40

I think Diane Johnstone's piece sums it up the best:


UK Came & Went, Leaving Europe in a Mess

30 January 2020 -- Consortium News
As Great Britain returns to the uncertainties of the open sea, it leaves behind a European Union that is bureaucratically governed to serve the interests of financial capital, writes Diana Johnstone

/../

From the start, the question of British membership appeared as a thorn in the side of European unity. Initially, London was opposed to the Common Market. In 1958, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan assailed it as "the Continental Blockade" (alluding to Napoleon's 1806 European policy) and said England would not stand for it. But as the project seemed to take shape, London sought accommodation.

De Gaulle warned from the start that Great Britain didn't belong in a unified Europe, geographically, economically or above all psychologically.

https://consortiumnews.com/2020/01/30/uk-came-went-leaving-europe-in-a-mess/

[Feb 01, 2020] Pluses and minuses of Brexit are not clar, but it might be that Brexit does not amount to very much for GB

Feb 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

cdvision , Jan 31 2020 22:38 utc | 48

A few countervailing points:

1. 50% of UK exports do not go to the EU. The "Rotterdam Effect" - whereby UK goods transported to the rest of the world go via Europe's largest container port and are counted in Eurostat land as exports to the EU.

2. The net balances of trade is massively in favour of the EU - ie the EU exports much more to the UK than vice versa. Thus its the EU which desperately needs a trade deal. With Germany a blink away from recession the last thing they need is tariffs on Mercedes, Audi, VW etc..

3. Don't underestimate the value of old Commonwealth (Australia, NZ etc) ties

4. The sole ECB guarantor, in reality, is now Germany. When the Euro banks go tits up it will be devastating for Germany.

5. The UK is a major financial hub, and will not be replaced by Frankfurt or Paris.

6. The UK could very easily do a Singapore by slashing business taxes and becoming the gateway to Europe.

7. The world does not end when the transition period ends with no deal. See 1 & 2 above. WTO trade terms then apply. Its how the rest of the world trades with the EU, and I don't see the likes of China or the US complaining.

I could go on. But the over-riding factor is that the UK gets back its sovereignty, and at last a democratic vote has been respected, albeit belatedly. This will have many positive effects for the UK. Oh, and the UK won't be the last to leave the EU.


lebretteurfredonnant , Jan 31 2020 23:11 utc | 51

Hello Everyone, Hello b

I think b that you got it all wrong. The European Union has no advantage whatsoever since it's institution are flawed. Just like Occupation put it "The structure of its financial system and capital flows is not equitable, sustainable or resilient". We saw that very fact unfold with the Greek crisis where the European union institutions and member states and countries refused to support Greece in any way whatsoever (Germany, mainly.). Greece is almost a third world country now to where the government has shortage of drugs and is selling some of his major islands to billionaire like Warren Buffet.Add to that the rise of anti European, German and globalist sentiments coupled with like minded terrorist groups such as the Popular fighter Group and the revolutionary Struggle since the 2008 crisis and we have pretty much a country in decay , very unstable and about to implode. I could go on and on adding the so call PIGS country economic and social state therein it wouldn't make a difference.

There is unity in European union but in name only.

Furthermore the European Union while not being democratic (since its parliament has not the power and freedom to introduce bills of law and the European commissioners can put any law they deem so necessary into effect without parliament consent ) has however a tremendous amount of legal power, when it comes to societal changes and free trade, that can overrule any member states and countries judicial systems (Let's Think of the introduction of GMO products and destructive and unhealthy agriculture in spite of states and people opposing them).

This may very well be one of the reasons why England and part of its ruling elite are keen to get out of the European Union.

Lets be in honesty and speak truth here, countries and member states of the European Union are ancient countries b, some having more than a thousand year history. Even if they truly wanted to make an efficient European union, their differences, different interests and mostly languages, cultural, practical and natural organizations of society inherited from years past make the European union way too hard to achieve . Such a dream will take at least a couple of centuries to happen if it ever does and will require unprecedented sacrifices and a denying of people long established habits, behaviors, and so on only history can overcome.You, b, better than anyone knows how politic even with great vision must be based on practical means and understanding of realities or else its result can be catastrophic. That isn't the path undertook by the European union.

Talking of economy, I wholeheartedly disagree with your statement on England weaknesses after the Brexit.

First, it will be easier for great Britain to protect its main industries and tax big corporations such as the GAFAM and the FANG.

Second, Britain is a very well educated and able country and there is nothing she cannot mostly (or at least partially) do and achieve on her own in the possibility that she lacks significant imports from other European countries. If anything,the refusal from other European countries of importing some products via trade deals will boost inner production and force Britain to re-industrialize segments of its economy which is very good for employment and salaries. Britain may take a few years to recover but in the end she will come out of the European union stronger and richer than she was in it.

Finally lets not fool ourselves England will certainly increased ties with the commonwealth, the united states and china without major issues. Africa as a whole is not far behind and I doubt France will ever stop selling cheese and wine to England and Germany stop selling Cars and machine tools to it.

vk , Jan 31 2020 23:19 utc | 52
@ Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jan 31 2020 19:57 utc | 26

No. Nation-States are not born from cultural isolation: economic development develops culture, not the inverse. The problem with the "cultural genesis" hypothesis is that it is completely arbitrary: you could come up with an infinite combination of nation-States at every time, at any stage. It is a hypothesis that explains everything without explaining anything. It is, therefore, a scientifically useless hypothesis at best; a logical fallacy at worst.

My observation about the development of the productive forces come from the objective reality. It is the most scientifically precise description of human societal development in a historical frame. This is not an opinion of mine: it's a fact. So, let's not waste time with this anymore, as it would only bother the people who visit this blog.

--//--

@ Posted by: cdvision | Jan 31 2020 22:38 utc | 48

1. Maybe. But, as you state at #5, the UK is basically a rentier economy, so the battle won't be won by the UK in the exports front.

2. This could be because the UK's productive sector is weak, not that the EU's productive sector is strong. Besides, we live in a capitalist world, where there are not one, but two balances: trade and capitals. The UK has a massive surplus in the capitals balance - massive enough to cut by 7% its entire deficit per year.

3. Well then...

4. True.

5. True. But it will lose its Euro swap services monopoly - not enough to break the bank, but a minus nevertheless.

6. You know you're desperate when you begin to resort to fucking Singapore to try to search from some light at the end of the tunnel. First of all: Singapore is tiny. Very tiny. Actually, it is a city.

Second, the UK's tax rates are already very low, and it already controls the main tax havens, so there isn't much to lower anymore.

Third: as mentioned here in my first comment, the UK already had more than 750 bilateral free trade agreements with the rest of the world; the UK was already "free" while it was in the EU.

True, it won't be the total collapse the Remainers have been touting - but it won't be that boom the Brexiter are preaching too. Basically nothing will change in the UK in terms of trade agreements. Fourth: did I mention you're literally comparing a nation-State of 70 million people to a city-state?

7. True. Europe simply isn't that relevant anymore.

But the most funny thing I find about this Brexit debate is how amplified it is: Remainers think the world will end; Brexiters think the Empire will come back. People, Brexit only makes things go as they were before . Did the world end when the WTO ruled trade? No. Did the UK become a superpower again when Thatcher rose to power? No. Was the UK a superpower before the EEC and after WWI? No.

So, in other words, almost nothing will change. UK will strike some Norway-type deal with the rest of the EU (is Norway collapsed? No.), it will probably renegotiate its already existing trade deal with the USA - under unfavorable terms, for sure, since the USA is infinitely richer and stronger than the UK - and the other one gazillion bilateral deals it already had before will continue to exist.

The only notable thing I find about Brexit is its symbolism: it represents the inexorable fall of Europe as a significant world player. In its history, Europe only became a world player on two short lived occasions: when the Roman Empire was at its apex (the "High Empire", from Augustus to Marcus Aurelius) and when the British Empire led a coalition of second-rate empires essentially at the 19th Century (i.e. when capitalism became global). That's only 350 years in more than 12,000 of human civilization history. During the rest of it, Europe not only wasn't a world player, but it was probably one of the most peripheral and poor regions of the planet.

It should bo back to its place.

Sveno , Jan 31 2020 23:21 utc | 53
I think MA outlook for Britan is too shadowed in sorrow. Britain strength in fishing waters and import of germany cars are too underestimated. Britain with there connection to former colonial countries make them sustainable. In the end germany will bend down to any toll on cars. Britain has the upper card. Meanwhile the whole french spanish portuguise fishing industry can wish they where british.

Still you wounder, the Illuminati outpost recommended brexit, what are they planning? Hope it's a struggle between Illuminati and not a plan to extinguish common people. Eu will fall like Rom, but the timeline is quit quick. Farage the city of london citizen talking to the people convinced to leave eu what can be wrong? The world is no democracy and you can just observe Illuminati decisions.

Ash Naz , Jan 31 2020 23:51 utc | 56
We should not underestimate the importance of today from the viewpoint of sovereignty and democracy.

The principal of sovereignty must apply both to the countries we here defend as the targets of the Empire, and even to the Chief Poodle of the US Empire itself, the UK. It is of course unlikely, but if Britain is to be free of Brussels it should be free of Washington too. Hard to imagine when the CIA and MI6 seem to be the same thing.

One of the reasons I voted Leave was to remove the toxic Chief Poodle influence of Britain from Europe. If the EU becomes less Russophobic with MI6 removed, then this is a win for Brexit.

The democracy thing is huge though. Here we have had for three and a half years almost the whole coalition of forces who constitute the ruling-class narrative control (minus a few Tories) demonise Brexit and portray Leavers as knuckle-dragging racist xenophobe chauvinist nazi fascist bigoted hateful morons who were duped by a gross rather than net figure on the side of a bus.

Despite this Leavers have quietly, peacefully and patiently voted in three elections since the referendum with outcomes favouring Leave. In the 2017 GE both Tory and Labour promised to respect the referendum and Labour did well. The Lib Dems ran on reversing Brexit and got nothing. In the EU Parliament elections (there are no elections for the EU commission - now there's a thing) the Brexit Party basically smashed it and won most of the seats. Then in the 2019 GE Labour was forced by the Blairites (and probably not opposed by the Corbynistas who are also pro-Eu, contrary to their guru's long-held Tony Bennite Left Euro Scepticism) to campaign on a rejection of the referendum, and the so-called Red Wall of sold, traditional Labour working-class constituencies voted Tory because Labour had betrayed them.

And so, after FOUR polls, and the majority of the elites trying to crush the popular will, finally The Thing is done - at least symbolically - there is more to come.

The future is uncertain, but tonight this is a victory for democracy, and a blow for the elites who instructed the proles to Remain. The proles refused.

SteveK9 , Feb 1 2020 0:20 utc | 62
Martin Jay disagrees with the conclusions of this article and believes GB has the advantage.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/01/25/eu-is-showing-its-cracks-already-as-boris-now-shows-it-the-whip-on-trade-deal/

[Feb 01, 2020] The argument used by the brexiters that EU membership was "isolation" is a complete farce.

Feb 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jan 31 2020 19:09 utc | 11

Britain has until the end of this year to make a new trade deal with Europe, with the U.S., and with other countries.

The UK already had more than 750 bilateral deals around the world. The argument used by the brexiters that EU membership was "isolation" is a complete farce.

Nothing significant will change in this front after Brexit.

But the EU will also need to change its urge to centralize and regulate everything. If it continues on its path other countries may want to follow the British example despite the damage it will cause to them.

The issue is not between "centralization vs decentralization", but the historical process of the development of the productive forces.

Before the creation of the Euro, it was economically advantageous for the little poor countries from the European Peninsula to seek EU membership. After its creation, the economies begun to diverge: Germany begun to siphon the wealth from its poorer members.

Add to that the worldwide capitalist meltdown from 2008 and you have the toxic mixture for what is essentially a neoliberal union in the EU.

Centralization and decentralization, in abstract, mean nothing. It's always the historical context that counts. It's not the quest for centralization that menaces the dissolution of the EU, but the fact that the EU was already economically declining for two decades that resulted in its smaller members to complain about its perceived quest for centralization. This vicious cycle generated a dialetical contradiction which impelled the EU to actually try to seek more centralization in response - in a classic "self-realizing prophecy" case.

This must be the case, since it explains why Brexit happened in 2016 and not in 2000; why the Scotish referendum happened in 2015 and not in 1708; and why similar movements are happening more or less at the same time in Italy and Greece. It also explains why there is not "exit" movements in Poland and Hungary, even though there are anti-EU movements there.


ben , Jan 31 2020 19:11 utc | 12

IMO, this leaves GB more susceptible to the influences of the empire. I fully expect the U$A to attack the British National Health Service with pressure to privatize.
ErGmb , Jan 31 2020 19:20 utc | 13
Spot on vk! Your analysis of EU dynamics is a pretty succint summary.

Those who think that Brexit will reduce immigration to the UK are fantasists (as well as racists - at this point UKIP and Farage have an undeniable track record one could plausibly claim not to know about in 2014). The current UK economic model relies on a large inflow of immigrant labour to underpin fanciful "growth" statistics, depress wages, and keep up pressure on the housing market, among other "schemes" in the worst sense of the word, and the government has already said that it will seek to increase non-European immigration to make up for decreases in EU immigration. Bye bye Polish plumber, hello ???...

NemesisCalling , Jan 31 2020 19:21 utc | 15
Bilateral, un-hypercentralized all the way.

Victoria Nuland said it best, "Fuck the EU."

When will European people come to their senses and trust the ability of their own local leaders? B isn't quite there yet.

[Feb 01, 2020] Brexit in name only (BRINO)

Feb 01, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Tallis Marsh ,

Exactly! It was always going to be Brexit in name only (BRINO) with Theresa May and Boris at the helm (due to their establishment masters including the civil service). If the 2019 election hadn't been transparently & despicably corrupt (with its uber smears of Jeremy Corbyn and the outright rigging with postal ballots) we would not be in this position. The truth must be that the estab had too much to lose to not rig it.

Will we be leaving all the EU institutions including the ECJ?

Why did Theresa May (and Boris) insidiously sign us up to the Global Compact for Migration? Why did Theresa May (and Boris) also insidiously sign us up to the EU/European Defence Union? Do some people not know what I am talking about? Well, there is a Media 'D Notice' on these subjects. if you need to find out about these things you will have to look to the alternative media like UK column and social media (like Twitter e.g Veterans for Britian) to find these things out.

Did you know Lord James of Blackheath was threatened for speaking about the EU Defence Union last year – that may tell you how important it is that the estab need keep most of the public unaware of the subject.

[Jan 30, 2020] IMO, to Jesus, the conception of a Super Church/Synagogue/Mosque is blasphemous as massive amounts of wealth are squandered on a material object that does nothing to advance the wellbeing of genuine worshipers.

Notable quotes:
"... Some know that the Puritans of Plymouth saw themselves as establishing a new Zion and entertained a vision very similar to Zionism. As ought to be clear, the concept of Exceptionalism is very much Old Testament. ..."
"... Better question, what are Americans drinking? Trump brand Kosher Whine or Schumer "Guardian of Israel" brand Spirits? "Schumer: I'm on a Mission From God (to Be Israel's Guardian in Senate)" ..."
"... He concluded that God, himself, deputized him to be Israel's man in the Senate:" https://www.huffpost.com/entry/schumer-im-on-a-mission-f_b_560091 ..."
"... I consider the simple equation of Zionism with Nazism lazy thinking. I do not expect you to understand, but: Without the Nazis there wouldn't have been Israel, as we have it today. ..."
"... The State, the Nation, and the Jews is a study of Germany's late nineteenth-century antisemitism dispute and of the liberal tradition that engendered it. The Berlin Antisemitism Dispute began in 1879 when a leading German liberal, Heinrich von Treitschke, wrote an article supporting anti-Jewish activities that seemed at the time to gel into an antisemitic "movement." Treitschke's comments immediately provoked a debate within the German intellectual community. Responses from supporters and critics alike argued the relevance, meaning, and origins of this "new" antisemitism. Ultimately the Disput. ..."
Jan 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jan 30 2020 22:41 utc | 119

lysias @112--

Jewish Law is very strict as in zero deviations are allowed, but the quest for material goods always seems to trump Law. IMO, one must be very dedicated to be a genuine Jew; same with a genuine Moslem. Christians on the other hand are muddleheaded and very few are genuine, meaning a strict adherence to Jesus's path and morality. IMO, to Jesus, the conception of a Super Church/Synagogue/Mosque is blasphemous as massive amounts of wealth are squandered on a material object that does nothing to advance the wellbeing of genuine worshipers. (Yes, I did say Jesus would likely find the idea of his being the son of god heretical and blasphemous.)

Bubbles @113--

Thanks for your reply and complements. The one close friend I had during college called me the walking bibliography. As it is now, I take too much time here and not enough in continuing my studies, although I certainly learn from the interactions and need to provide informed discourse. You'll have noted I tried to change the direction of the vision under discussion but failed.

Some know that the Puritans of Plymouth saw themselves as establishing a new Zion and entertained a vision very similar to Zionism. As ought to be clear, the concept of Exceptionalism is very much Old Testament.


Bubbles , Jan 30 2020 23:32 utc | 127

Bubbles, what are you drinking?

Posted by: Philosophical Realis | Jan 30 2020 23:12 utc | 125


Better question, what are Americans drinking? Trump brand Kosher Whine or Schumer "Guardian of Israel" brand Spirits? "Schumer: I'm on a Mission From God (to Be Israel's Guardian in Senate)"

"Sen. Chuck Schumer told a New York radio station last week that after the Obama administration hit Israel hard on its settlement policy, "I called up Rahm Emanuel and I called up the White House and I said, 'If you don't retract that statement you are going to hear me publicly blast you on this.'"

He added that there were two groups within the White House. One would give Israel the usual pass and the other wants the US to put pressure on Israel (and Palestinians).

"We're pushing hard to make sure the right side wins and if not we'll have to take it to the next step," he said.

He concluded that God, himself, deputized him to be Israel's man in the Senate:" https://www.huffpost.com/entry/schumer-im-on-a-mission-f_b_560091

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And if there is a God, maybe he could help me with this.

Vig , Jan 30 2020 23:56 utc | 130
Posted by: Norogene | Jan 30 2020 17:58 utc | 62

So for Vig to suggest that it be preposterous to suppose that modern extreme political Zionism could not have (nor has not) metamorphosed into an ideology that rhymes with Nazism is disingenuous.

I consider the simple equation of Zionism with Nazism lazy thinking. I do not expect you to understand, but: Without the Nazis there wouldn't have been Israel, as we have it today.

True I find people like Herzl or his friend Max Nordau pretty hard to read. Extreme reactionary nationalism. I have to admit that reading articles in diverse Zionist magazine from the same period similarly irritating. But I do look back, and only partly grasp the time. Rarely are there voices I can connect with easily even today. There surely were different strand in Zionism. Not everyone was https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Nordau

But neither am I very fond of some Germans, like national liberal reactionary Heinrich von Treitschke, historian and politician. You have to understand that Germany only became a nation state in 1871. That's important, once you have a nation apparently some feel that one has to discuss, who is a German and who isn't. Now there is one only recently emancipated group that sticks out. It's not that long ago they got equal rights to start with.

Heinrich von Treitschke - Political Carrier: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_von_Treitschke#Political_career Eight years after Germany was united von Treitschke triggered the "Berlin Antisemitism Debate". Now that Germany was united the question arose who was and who wasn't a German. Maybe some didn't want to integrate? Von Treitschke really hated an orthodox German Jewish colleague. Historian Heinrich Graetz wrote the first (i think) History of the Jews in 11 Volumes. Imagine, that's a real scandal. At a time when history with still solidly concentrated on the mighty, the kings, generals and influential clergy, the not quite to be trusted Roman Pope from a Protestant perspective, the man had the nerve to write a 11 volumes history of the least important people on Earth one could imagine? That's outrageous, isn't it?

Now am I fond of Graetz' polemics against the Jewish Reform as Orthodox, no not either, I guess.

Heinrich Goetz Biography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Graetz#Biography

Anyway with von Treitschke maybe more then Wilhelm Marr, who coined the term antisemitism, is were it started and with a king without a sane person like Bismarck to stop him WWI, debts, the Great Depression, right and police fighting left added the necessary context for the rise of the Nazis. ... I wish it had been different. Treitschke

https://tinyurl.com/Nation-the-State-the-Jews>The State, the Nation, and the Jews: Liberalism and the Antisemitism Dispute in Bismarck's Germany,
Marcel Stoetzler, U of Nebraska Press, 2008 - 541 Seiten

The State, the Nation, and the Jews is a study of Germany's late nineteenth-century antisemitism dispute and of the liberal tradition that engendered it. The Berlin Antisemitism Dispute began in 1879 when a leading German liberal, Heinrich von Treitschke, wrote an article supporting anti-Jewish activities that seemed at the time to gel into an antisemitic "movement." Treitschke's comments immediately provoked a debate within the German intellectual community. Responses from supporters and critics alike argued the relevance, meaning, and origins of this "new" antisemitism. Ultimately the Disput.

[Jan 21, 2020] How a Hidden Parliamentary Session Revealed Trump's True Motives in Iraq by Whitney Webb

Notable quotes:
"... The Americans are the ones who destroyed the country and wreaked havoc on it. They have refused to finish building the electrical system and infrastructure projects. They have bargained for the reconstruction of Iraq in exchange for Iraq giving up 50% of oil imports. So, I refused and decided to go to China and concluded an important and strategic agreement with it. Today, Trump is trying to cancel this important agreement. ..."
"... After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened [that there would be] massive demonstrations to topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, whereby a third party [presumed to be mercenaries or U.S. soldiers] would target both the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from atop the highest buildings and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement." ..."
"... It could also explain why President Trump is so concerned about China's growing foothold in Iraq, since it risks causing not only the end of the U.S. military hegemony in the country but could also lead to major trouble for the petrodollar system and the U.S.' position as a global financial power. Trump's policy aimed at stopping China and Iraq's growing ties is clearly having the opposite effect, showing that this administration's "gangster diplomacy" only serves to make the alternatives offered by countries like China and Russia all the more attractive. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

... ... ...

After the feed was cut, MPs who were present wrote down Abdul-Mahdi's remarks, which were then given to the Arabic news outlet Ida'at . Per that transcript , Abdul-Mahdi stated that:

The Americans are the ones who destroyed the country and wreaked havoc on it. They have refused to finish building the electrical system and infrastructure projects. They have bargained for the reconstruction of Iraq in exchange for Iraq giving up 50% of oil imports. So, I refused and decided to go to China and concluded an important and strategic agreement with it. Today, Trump is trying to cancel this important agreement. "

Abdul-Mahdi continued his remarks, noting that pressure from the Trump administration over his negotiations and subsequent dealings with China grew substantially over time, even resulting in death threats to himself and his defense minister:

After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened [that there would be] massive demonstrations to topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, whereby a third party [presumed to be mercenaries or U.S. soldiers] would target both the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from atop the highest buildings and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement."

"I did not respond and submitted my resignation and the Americans still insist to this day on canceling the China agreement. When the defense minister said that those killing the demonstrators was a third party, Trump called me immediately and physically threatened myself and the defense minister in the event that there was more talk about this third party."

Very few English language outlets reported on Abdul-Mahdi's comments. Tom Luongo, a Florida-based Independent Analyst and publisher of The Gold Goats 'n Guns Newsletter, told MintPress that the likely reasons for the "surprising" media silence over Abdul-Mahdi's claims were because "It never really made it out into official channels " due to the cutting of the video feed during Iraq's Parliamentary session and due to the fact that "it's very inconvenient and the media -- since Trump is doing what they want him to do, be belligerent with Iran, protected Israel's interests there."

"They aren't going to contradict him on that if he's playing ball," Luongo added, before continuing that the media would nonetheless "hold onto it for future reference .If this comes out for real, they'll use it against him later if he tries to leave Iraq." "Everything in Washington is used as leverage," he added.

Given the lack of media coverage and the cutting of the video feed of Abdul-Mahdi's full remarks, it is worth pointing out that the narrative he laid out in his censored speech not only fits with the timeline of recent events he discusses but also the tactics known to have been employed behind closed doors by the Trump administration, particularly after Mike Pompeo left the CIA to become Secretary of State.

For instance, Abdul-Mahdi's delegation to China ended on September 24, with the protests against his government that Trump reportedly threatened to start on October 1. Reports of a "third side" firing on Iraqi protesters were picked up by major media outlets at the time, such as in this BBC report which stated:

Reports say the security forces opened fire, but another account says unknown gunmen were responsible .a source in Karbala told the BBC that one of the dead was a guard at a nearby Shia shrine who happened to be passing by. The source also said the origin of the gunfire was unknown and it had targeted both the protesters and security forces . (emphasis added)"

U.S.-backed protests in other countries, such as in Ukraine in 2014, also saw evidence of a " third side " shooting both protesters and security forces alike.

After six weeks of intense protests , Abdul-Mahdi submitted his resignation on November 29, just a few days after Iraq's Foreign Minister praised the new deals, including the "oil for reconstruction" deal, that had been signed with China. Abdul-Mahdi has since stayed on as Prime Minister in a caretaker role until Parliament decides on his replacement.

Abdul-Mahdi's claims of the covert pressure by the Trump administration are buttressed by the use of similar tactics against Ecuador, where, in July 2018, a U.S. delegation at the United Nations threatened the nation with punitive trade measures and the withdrawal of military aid if Ecuador moved forward with the introduction of a UN resolution to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding."

The New York Times reported at the time that the U.S. delegation was seeking to promote the interests of infant formula manufacturers. If the U.S. delegation is willing to use such pressure on nations for promoting breastfeeding over infant formula, it goes without saying that such behind-closed-doors pressure would be significantly more intense if a much more lucrative resource, e.g. oil, were involved.

Regarding Abdul-Mahdi's claims, Luongo told MintPress that it is also worth considering that it could have been anyone in the Trump administration making threats to Abdul-Mahdi, not necessarily Trump himself. "What I won't say directly is that I don't know it was Trump at the other end of the phone calls. Mahdi, it is to his best advantage politically to blame everything on Trump. It could have been Mike Pompeo or Gina Haspel talking to Abdul-Mahdi It could have been anyone, it most likely would be someone with plausible deniability .This [Mahdi's claims] sounds credible I firmly believe Trump is capable of making these threats but I don't think Trump would make those threats directly like that, but it would absolutely be consistent with U.S. policy."

Luongo also argued that the current tensions between U.S. and Iraqi leadership preceded the oil deal between Iraq and China by several weeks, "All of this starts with Prime Minister Mahdi starting the process of opening up the Iraq-Syria border crossing and that was announced in August. Then, the Israeli air attacks happened in September to try and stop that from happening, attacks on PMU forces on the border crossing along with the ammo dump attacks near Baghdad This drew the Iraqis' ire Mahdi then tried to close the air space over Iraq, but how much of that he can enforce is a big question."

As to why it would be to Mahdi's advantage to blame Trump, Luongo stated that Mahdi "can make edicts all day long, but, in reality, how much can he actually restrain the U.S. or the Israelis from doing anything? Except for shame, diplomatic shame To me, it [Mahdi's claims] seems perfectly credible because, during all of this, Trump is probably or someone else is shaking him [Mahdi] down for the reconstruction of the oil fields [in Iraq] Trump has explicitly stated "we want the oil."'

As Luongo noted, Trump's interest in the U.S. obtaining a significant share of Iraqi oil revenue is hardly a secret. Just last March, Trump asked Abdul-Mahdi "How about the oil?" at the end of a meeting at the White House, prompting Abdul-Mahdi to ask "What do you mean?" To which Trump responded "Well, we did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil," which was widely interpreted as Trump asking for part of Iraq's oil revenue in exchange for the steep costs of the U.S.' continuing its now unwelcome military presence in Iraq.

With Abdul-Mahdi having rejected Trump's "oil for reconstruction" proposal in favor of China's, it seems likely that the Trump administration would default to so-called "gangster diplomacy" tactics to pressure Iraq's government into accepting Trump's deal, especially given the fact that China's deal was a much better offer. While Trump demanded half of Iraq's oil revenue in exchange for completing reconstruction projects (according to Abdul-Mahdi), the deal that was signed between Iraq and China would see around 20 percen t of Iraq's oil revenue go to China in exchange for reconstruction. Aside from the potential loss in Iraq's oil revenue, there are many reasons for the Trump administration to feel threatened by China's recent dealings in Iraq.

The Iraq-China oil deal – a prelude to something more?

When Abdul-Mahdi's delegation traveled to Beijing last September, the "oil for reconstruction" deal was only one of eight total agreements that were established. These agreements cover a range of areas, including financial, commercial, security, reconstruction, communication, culture, education and foreign affairs in addition to oil. Yet, the oil deal is by far the most significant.

Per the agreement, Chinese firms will work on various reconstruction projects in exchange for roughly 20 percent of Iraq's oil exports, approximately 100,00 barrels per day, for a period of 20 years. According to Al-Monitor , Abdul-Mahdi had the following to say about the deal: "We agreed [with Beijing] to set up a joint investment fund, which the oil money will finance," adding that the agreement prohibits China from monopolizing projects inside Iraq, forcing Bejing to work in cooperation with international firms.

The agreement is similar to one negotiated between Iraq and China in 2015 when Abdul-Mahdi was serving as Iraq's oil minister. That year, Iraq joined China's Belt and Road Initiative in a deal that also involved exchanging oil for investment, development and construction projects and saw China awarded several projects as a result. In a notable similarity to recent events, that deal was put on hold due to "political and security tensions" caused by unrest and the surge of ISIS in Iraq, that is until Abdul-Mahdi saw Iraq rejoin the initiative again late last year through the agreements his government signed with China last September.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center left, meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, center right, in Beijing, Sept. 23, 2019. Lintao Zhang | AP

Notably, after recent tensions between the U.S. and Iraq over the assassination of Soleimani and the U.S.' subsequent refusal to remove its troops from Iraq despite parliament's demands, Iraq quietly announced that it would dramatically increase its oil exports to China to triple the amount established in the deal signed in September. Given Abdul-Mahdi's recent claims about the true forces behind Iraq's recent protests and Trump's threats against him being directly related to his dealings with China, the move appears to be a not-so-veiled signal from Abdul-Mahdi to Washington that he plans to deepen Iraq's partnership with China, at least for as long as he remains in his caretaker role.

Iraq's decision to dramatically increase its oil exports to China came just one day after the U.S. government threatened to cut off Iraq's access to its central bank account, currently held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, an account that currently holds $35 billion in Iraqi oil revenue. The account was set up after the U.S. invaded and began occupying Iraq in 2003 and Iraq currently removes between $1-2 billion per month to cover essential government expenses. Losing access to its oil revenue stored in that account would lead to the " collapse " of Iraq's government, according to Iraqi government officials who spoke to AFP .

Though Trump publicly promised to rebuke Iraq for the expulsion of U.S. troops via sanctions, the threat to cut off Iraq's access to its account at the NY Federal Reserve Bank was delivered privately and directly to the Prime Minister, adding further credibility to Abdul-Mahdi's claims that Trump's most aggressive attempts at pressuring Iraq's government are made in private and directed towards the country's Prime Minister.

Though Trump's push this time was about preventing the expulsion of U.S. troops from Iraq, his reasons for doing so may also be related to concerns about China's growing foothold in the region. Indeed, while Trump has now lost his desired share of Iraqi oil revenue (50 percent) to China's counteroffer of 20 percent, the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq may see American troops replaced with their Chinese counterparts as well, according to Tom Luongo.

"All of this is about the U.S. maintaining the fiction that it needs to stay in Iraq So, China moving in there is the moment where they get their toe hold for the Belt and Road [Initiative]," Luongo argued. "That helps to strengthen the economic relationship between Iraq, Iran and China and obviating the need for the Americans to stay there. At some point, China will have assets on the ground that they are going to want to defend militarily in the event of any major crisis. This brings us to the next thing we know, that Mahdi and the Chinese ambassador discussed that very thing in the wake of the Soleimani killing."

Indeed, according to news reports, Zhang Yao -- China's ambassador to Iraq -- " conveyed Beijing's readiness to provide military assistance" should Iraq's government request it soon after Soleimani's assassination. Yao made the offer a day after Iraq's parliament voted to expel American troops from the country. Though it is currently unknown how Abdul-Mahdi responded to the offer, the timing likely caused no shortage of concern among the Trump administration about its rapidly waning influence in Iraq. "You can see what's coming here," Luongo told MintPress of the recent Chinese offer to Iraq, "China, Russia and Iran are trying to cleave Iraq away from the United States and the U.S. is feeling very threatened by this."

Russia is also playing a role in the current scenario as Iraq initiated talks with Moscow regarding the possible purchase of one of its air defense systems last September, the same month that Iraq signed eight deals, including the oil deal with China. Then, in the wake of Soleimani's death, Russia again offered the air defense systems to Iraq to allow them to better defend their air space. In the past, the U.S. has threatened allied countries with sanctions and other measures if they purchase Russian air defense systems as opposed to those manufactured by U.S. companies.

The U.S.' efforts to curb China's growing influence and presence in Iraq amid these new strategic partnerships and agreements are limited, however, as the U.S. is increasingly relying on China as part of its Iran policy, specifically in its goal of reducing Iranian oil export to zero. China remains Iran's main crude oil and condensate importer, even after it reduced its imports of Iranian oil significantly following U.S. pressure last year. Yet, the U.S. is now attempting to pressure China to stop buying Iranian oil completely or face sanctions while also attempting to privately sabotage the China-Iraq oil deal. It is highly unlikely China will concede to the U.S. on both, if any, of those fronts, meaning the U.S. may be forced to choose which policy front (Iran "containment" vs. Iraq's oil dealings with China) it values more in the coming weeks and months.

Furthermore, the recent signing of the "phase one" trade deal with China revealed another potential facet of the U.S.' increasingly complicated relationship with Iraq's oil sector given that the trade deal involves selling U.S. oil and gas to China at very low cost , suggesting that the Trump administration may also see the Iraq-China oil deal result in Iraq emerging as a potential competitor for the U.S. in selling cheap oil to China, the world's top oil importer.

The Petrodollar and the Phantom of the Petroyuan

In his televised statements last week following Iran's military response to the U.S. assassination of General Soleimani, Trump insisted that the U.S.' Middle East policy is no longer being directed by America's vast oil requirements. He stated specifically that:

Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before and America has achieved energy independence. These historic accomplishments changed our strategic priorities. These are accomplishments that nobody thought were possible. And options in the Middle East became available. We are now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil . (emphasis added)"

Yet, given the centrality of the recent Iraq-China oil deal in guiding some of the Trump administration's recent Middle East policy moves, this appears not to be the case. The distinction may lie in the fact that, while the U.S. may now be less dependent on oil imports from the Middle East, it still very much needs to continue to dominate how oil is traded and sold on international markets in order to maintain its status as both a global military and financial superpower.

Indeed, even if the U.S. is importing less Middle Eastern oil, the petrodollar system -- first forged in the 1970s -- requires that the U.S. maintains enough control over the global oil trade so that the world's largest oil exporters, Iraq among them, continue to sell their oil in dollars. Were Iraq to sell oil in another currency, or trade oil for services, as it plans to do with China per the recently inked deal, a significant portion of Iraqi oil would cease to generate a demand for dollars, violating the key tenet of the petrodollar system.

Chinese representatives speak to defense personnel during a weapons expo organized by the Iraqi defense ministry in Baghdad, March, 2017. Karim Kadim | AP

As Kei Pritsker and Cale Holmes noted in an article last year for MintPress :

The takeaway from the petrodollar phenomenon is that as long as countries need oil, they will need the dollar. As long as countries demand dollars, the U.S. can continue to go into massive amounts of debt to fund its network of global military bases, Wall Street bailouts, nuclear missiles, and tax cuts for the rich."

Thus, the use of the petrodollar has created a system whereby U.S. control of oil sales of the largest oil exporters is necessary, not just to buttress the dollar, but also to support its global military presence. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the issue of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq and the issue of Iraq's push for oil independence against U.S. wishes have become intertwined. Notably, one of the architects of the petrodollar system and the man who infamously described U.S. soldiers as "dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy", former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, has been advising Trump and informing his China policy since 2016.

This take was also expressed by economist Michael Hudson, who recently noted that U.S. access to oil, dollarization and U.S. military strategy are intricately interwoven and that Trump's recent Iraq policy is intended "to escalate America's presence in Iraq to keep control of the region's oil reserves," and, as Hudson says, "to back Saudi Arabia's Wahabi troops (ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America's foreign legion) to support U.S. control of Near Eastern oil as a buttress of the U.S. dollar."

Hudson further asserts that it was Qassem Soleimani's efforts to promote Iraq's oil independence at the expense of U.S. imperial ambitions that served one of the key motives behind his assassination.

America opposed General Suleimani above all because he was fighting against ISIS and other U.S.-backed terrorists in their attempt to break up Syria and replace Assad's regime with a set of U.S.-compliant local leaders – the old British "divide and conquer" ploy. On occasion, Suleimani had cooperated with U.S. troops in fighting ISIS groups that got "out of line" meaning the U.S. party line. But every indication is that he was in Iraq to work with that government seeking to regain control of the oil fields that President Trump has bragged so loudly about grabbing. (emphasis added)"

Hudson adds that " U.S. neocons feared Suleimani's plan to help Iraq assert control of its oil and withstand the terrorist attacks supported by U.S. and Saudi's on Iraq. That is what made his assassination an immediate drive."

While other factors -- such as pressure from U.S. allies such as Israel -- also played a factor in the decision to kill Soleimani, the decision to assassinate him on Iraqi soil just hours before he was set to meet with Abdul-Mahdi in a diplomatic role suggests that the underlying tensions caused by Iraq's push for oil independence and its oil deal with China did play a factor in the timing of his assassination. It also served as a threat to Abdul-Mahdi, who has claimed that the U.S. threatened to kill both him and his defense minister just weeks prior over tensions directly related to the push for independence of Iraq's oil sector from the U.S.

It appears that the ever-present role of the petrodollar in guiding U.S. policy in the Middle East remains unchanged. The petrodollar has long been a driving factor behind the U.S.' policy towards Iraq specifically, as one of the key triggers for the 2003 invasion of Iraq was Saddam Hussein's decision to sell Iraqi oil in Euros opposed to dollars beginning in the year 2000. Just weeks before the invasion began, Hussein boasted that Iraq's Euro-based oil revenue account was earning a higher interest rate than it would have been if it had continued to sell its oil in dollars, an apparent signal to other oil exporters that the petrodollar system was only really benefiting the United States at their own expense.

Beyond current efforts to stave off Iraq's oil independence and keep its oil trade aligned with the U.S., the fact that the U.S. is now seeking to limit China's ever-growing role in Iraq's oil sector is also directly related to China's publicly known efforts to create its own direct competitor to the petrodollar, the petroyuan.

Since 2017, China has made its plans for the petroyuan -- a direct competitor to the petrodollar -- no secret, particularly after China eclipsed the U.S. as the world's largest importer of oil.

As CNBC noted at the time:

The new strategy is to enlist the energy markets' help: Beijing may introduce a new way to price oil in coming months -- but unlike the contracts based on the U.S. dollar that currently dominate global markets, this benchmark would use China's own currency. If there's widespread adoption, as the Chinese hope, then that will mark a step toward challenging the greenback's status as the world's most powerful currency .The plan is to price oil in yuan using a gold-backed futures contract in Shanghai, but the road will be long and arduous."

If the U.S. continues on its current path and pushes Iraq further into the arms of China and other U.S. rival states, it goes without saying that Iraq -- now a part of China's Belt and Road Initiative -- may soon favor a petroyuan system over a petrodollar system, particularly as the current U.S. administration threatens to hold Iraq's central bank account hostage for pursuing policies Washington finds unfavorable.

It could also explain why President Trump is so concerned about China's growing foothold in Iraq, since it risks causing not only the end of the U.S. military hegemony in the country but could also lead to major trouble for the petrodollar system and the U.S.' position as a global financial power. Trump's policy aimed at stopping China and Iraq's growing ties is clearly having the opposite effect, showing that this administration's "gangster diplomacy" only serves to make the alternatives offered by countries like China and Russia all the more attractive.

anonymous [331] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment January 18, 2020 at 5:54 am GMT

One can see how all these recent wars and military actions have a financial motive at their core. Yet the mass of gullible Americans actually believe the reasons given, to "spread democracy" and other wonderful things. Only a small number can see things for what they really are. It's very frustrating to deal with the stupidity of the average person on a daily basis.

This is not Trump's policy, it is American policy and the variation is in how he implements it. Any other person would have fallen in line with it as well. US policy has it's own inner momentum that can't change course. The US depends upon continuation of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. Were that to be lost the US likely would descend into chaos without end. When the USSR came apart it was eventually able to downsize into the Russian state. We don't have that here; there is no core ethnicity with it's own territory left anymore, it's just a jumble. For the US it's a matter of survival.

John Chuckman , says: Website Show Comment January 18, 2020 at 3:04 pm GMT
Yes, but we also have this

It is reported this morning (CNN) that Trump bragged about the killing to a crowd at a big fundraising dinner.

Just sick, official state murder for campaign donations.

That's what America is reduced to.

[Jan 21, 2020] Trump Is Pulling the Wool Over Voters' Eyes About What Is in the China Deal

Return to quote-based trade means total bankruptcy of neoliberalism ideology and practice. Another nail in the coffin so to speak.
Jan 21, 2020 | www.anti-empire.com

The Chinese, for now, are not contradicting the Trump administration on the promise of Chinese mega-purchases, because when Trump is more amicable their interests align. If an empty promise that wasn't even made means the trade war de-escalation goes on, that is fine with them. They would like to calm the markets as much as Trump would, and in this way they have added leverage on Trump. Should they change their minds they can always explode the fiction later on and injure Trump, perhaps strategically right around October.


Now that the dust has settled on the US-China trade deal and analysts have had some time to pore over its 90+ pages, various chapters and (non-binding) terms that comprise the body of the agreement, one high-level observation noted by Rabobank, is that the agreement foresees the total amount of goods exports from the US to China to reach above $ 290BN by end-2021.

The implication of this is that the chart for US exports to China should basically look like this for the next two years:

As Rabobank's senior economist Bjorn Giesbergen writes, t here are probably very few economists that would deem such a trajectory feasible (except for the perpetually cheerful economics team at Goldman , of course), seeing that it took the US more than 15 years to raise exports from around USD16bn in 2000 to USD 130bn in 2017.

Moreover, the Chinese purchases of goods are beneficial to US companies, but at the cost of other countries, and the agreement is only for two years. If China will buy more aircraft from the US, that could be to the detriment of the EU.

According to the document "the parties project that the trajectory of increases will continue in calendar years 2020 through 2025." But "to project" does not sound as firm as "shall ensure." So, as the Rabo economist asks, "are we going to see a repetition of the 2019 turmoil caused by the phase 1 trade negotiations after those two years? Or is this supposed to be solved in the phase 2 deal that is very unlikely to be made? What's more, while the remaining tariffs provide leverage for US trade negotiators, they are still a tax on US importers and US consumers of Chinese goods."

But before we even get there, going back to the chart shown above, Bloomberg today points out something we have pointed out in the past, namely that China's $200 billion, two-year spending spree negotiated with the Trump administration appears increasingly difficult to deliver, and now a $50 billion "hole" appears to have opened up : that is the amount of U.S. exports annually left out and many American businesses still uncertain about just what the expectations are.

Some background: while Trump officials stressed the reforms aimed at curbing intellectual-property theft and currency manipulation that China has agreed to in the "phase one" trade deal signed Wednesday, the Chinese pledge to buy more American exports has become an emblem of the deal to critics and supporters alike.

The administration has said those new exports in manufactured goods, energy, farm shipments and services will come over two years on top of the $130 billion in goods and $57.6 billion in services that the U.S. sent to China in 2017 -- the year before the trade war started and exports were hit by Beijing's retaliatory measures to President Donald Trump's tariffs.

And while Goldman said it is certainly feasible that China can ramp up its purchases of US goods , going so far as providing a matrix "scenario" of what such purchases could look like

that now appears virtually impossible, because as Bloomberg notes, the list of goods categories in the agreement covers a narrower group of exports to China that added up to $78.8 billion in 2017, or $51.6 billion less than the overall goods exports to the Asian nation that year. The goods trade commitment makes up $162.1 billion of the $200 billion total, with $37.9 billion to come from a boost in services trade such as travel and insurance.

Here, the math gets even more ridiculous:

The target for the first year that the deal takes effect is to add $63.9 billion in manufactured goods, agriculture and energy exports. According to Bloomberg economist Maeva Cousin's analysis, that would be an increase of 81% over the 2017 baseline. In year two, the agreement calls for $98.2 billion surge in Chinese imports, which would require a 125% increase over 2017.

Importantly for China, the deal requires those purchases to be "made at market prices based on commercial considerations," a caveat which spooked commodities traders, and led to a sharp drop in ags in the day following the deal's announcement.

Can China pull this off? Yes, if Beijing tears up existing trade deals and supply chains and imposes explicit procurement targets and demands on China's local business. As Bloomberg notes, "critics argue that such pre-ordained demand amounts to a slide into the sort of government-managed trade that U.S. presidents abandoned decades ago" and the very sort of act of central planning that U.S. officials have , paradoxically, spent years trying to convince China to walk away from.

This may also explain why a key part of the trade deal will remain secret: the purchase plan is based on what the administration insists is a specific – if classified – annex of Chinese commitments. "The 20-page public version of that annex lists hundreds of products and services from nuclear reactors to aircraft, printed circuits, pig iron, soybeans, crude oil and computer services but no figures for purchases."

Going back to the critics, it is this convoluted mechanism that has them arguing that China's stated targets will likely never be met: "This is ambitious and it will create some stresses within the supply system," said Craig Allen, the president of the U.S.-China Business Council.

That's not all: as Allen said, among the outstanding questions was whether China would lift its retaliatory duties on American products as the US keeps its tariffs on some $360 billion in imports from China as Trump seeks to maintain leverage for the second phase of negotiations.

Allen also made clear the overall purchase schedule left many U.S. companies uncomfortable even as they saw benefits in other parts of the deal. "The vast majority of our members are looking for no more than a level playing field in China," Allen said. "We are not looking for quotas or special treatment."

As a result, for many manufacturers what is actually changing -- and what China has committed to instead of given a "best efforts" promise to achieve -- remains unclear.

Major exporters such as Boeing Co., whose CEO Dave Calhoun attended Wednesday's signing ceremony, have stayed mum about what exactly the deal will mean for their business with China. In an attempt to "clarify", Trump tweeted that the deal includes a Chinese commitment to buy $16 billion to $20 billion in Boeing planes. It was unclear if he meant 737 MAX planes which nobody in the world will ever voluntarily fly inside again.

Finally, prompting the latest round of cronyism allegations, Trump's new China pact also includes plans for exports of American iron and steel , "a potential gain for an industry close to the president that has benefited from his tariffs and complained about Chinese production and overcapacity for years." As Bloomberg adds, the text of the agreement lists iron and steel products ranging from pig iron to stainless steel wire and railway tracks, but steel industry sources said they had been caught by surprise and not been given any additional details on China's purchase commitments.

It is unclear why Beijing would need US product s: after all, in its scramble to erect ghost cities and hit a goalseeked GDP print, China produces more than 50% of the world's steel, drawning criticism from around the world – if not Greta Thunberg – for the massive coal-derived pollution that comes from flooding global markets with cheap steel.

[Jan 21, 2020] At the start of a new decade, Merkel seems to be on the wrong side of history

Neoliberals are mostly neocons and neocons are mostly neoliberals. They can't understand the importance of Brexit and the first real crack in neoliberal globalization facade.
She really was on the wrong side of history: a tragedy for a politician. EU crumles with the end of her political career which was devoted to straightening EU and neoliberalism, as well as serving as the USA vassal. While she was sucessful in extracting benefits for Germany multinationals she increased Germany dependency (and subservience) on the USA. She also will be remembered for her handing of Greece crisis.
Notable quotes:
"... The UK's departure will continue to hang over Brussels and Berlin -- the countdown for a trade deal will coincide with Germany's presidency of the EU in the second half of this year. ..."
"... Brexit is a "wake-up call" for the EU. Europe must, she says, respond by upping its game, becoming "attractive, innovative, creative, a good place for research and education . . . Competition can then be very productive." This is why the EU must continue to reform, completing the digital single market, progressing with banking union -- a plan to centralise the supervision and crisis management of European banks -- and advancing capital markets union to integrate Europe's fragmented equity and debt markets. ..."
"... its defence budget has increased by 40 per cent since 2015, which is "a huge step from Germany's perspective". ..."
"... Ms Merkel will doubtless be remembered for two bold moves that changed Germany -- ordering the closure of its nuclear power stations after the Fukushima disaster of 2011, and keeping the country's borders open at the height of the 2015 refugee crisis. That decision was her most controversial, and there are some in Germany who still won't forgive her for it. But officials say Germany survived the influx, and has integrated the more than 1m migrants who arrived in 2015-16. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.ft.com

It's a grim winter's day in Berlin, and the political climate matches the weather. Everywhere Angela Merkel looks there are storm clouds, as the values she has upheld all her career come under sustained attack. At the start of a new decade, Europe's premier stateswoman suddenly seems to be on the wrong side of history.Shortly, the UK will leave the EU. A volatile US president is snubbing allies and going it alone in the Middle East. Vladimir Putin is changing the Russian constitution and meddling in Libya and sub-Saharan Africa. Trade tensions continue, threatening the open borders and globalised value chains that are the cornerstones of Germany's prosperity.

Ms Merkel, a former physicist renowned for her imperturbable, rational manner is a politician programmed for compromise. But today she faces an uncompromising world where liberal principles have been shoved aside by the law of the jungle.

Her solution is to double down on Europe, Germany's anchor. "I see the European Union as our life insurance," she says. "Germany is far too small to exert geopolitical influence on its own, and that's why we need to make use of all the benefits of the single market."

Speaking in the chancellery's Small Cabinet Room, an imposing wood-panelled hall overlooking Berlin's Tiergarten park, Ms Merkel does not come across as under pressure. She is calm, if somewhat cagey, weighing every word and seldom displaying emotion.

But the message she conveys in a rare interview is nonetheless urgent. In the twilight of her career -- her fourth and final term ends in 2021 -- Ms Merkel is determined to preserve and defend multilateralism, a concept that in the age of Trump, Brexit and a resurgent Russia has never seemed so embattled. This is the "firm conviction" that guides her: the pursuit of "the best win-win situations . . . when partnerships of benefit to both sides are put into practice worldwide". She admits that this idea is coming "under increasing pressure". The system of supranational institutions like the EU and United Nations were, she says, "essentially a lesson learnt from the second world war, and the preceding decades". Now, with so few witnesses of the war still alive, the importance of that lesson is fading.

Of course President Donald Trump is right that bodies like the World Trade Organization and the UN require reform. "There is no doubt whatsoever about any of that," she says. "But I do not call the world's multilateral structure into question. "Germany has been the great beneficiary of Nato, an enlarged EU and globalisation. Free trade has opened up vast new markets for its world-class cars, machines and chemicals. Sheltered under the US nuclear umbrella, Germany has barely spared a thought for its own security. But the rise of "Me First" nationalism threatens to leave it economically and politically unmoored. In this sense, Europe is existential for German interests, as well as its identity.

Ms Merkel therefore wants to strengthen the EU -- an institution that she, perhaps more than any other living politician, has come to personify. She steered Europe through the eurozone debt crisis, albeit somewhat tardily: she held Europe together as it imposed sanctions on Russia over the annexation of Crimea; she maintained unity in response to the trauma of Brexit.

The UK's departure will continue to hang over Brussels and Berlin -- the countdown for a trade deal will coincide with Germany's presidency of the EU in the second half of this year. Berlin worries a post-Brexit UK that reserves the right to diverge from EU rules on goods, workers' rights, taxes and environmental standards could create a serious economic competitor on its doorstep. But Ms Merkel remains a cautious optimist. Brexit is a "wake-up call" for the EU. Europe must, she says, respond by upping its game, becoming "attractive, innovative, creative, a good place for research and education . . . Competition can then be very productive." This is why the EU must continue to reform, completing the digital single market, progressing with banking union -- a plan to centralise the supervision and crisis management of European banks -- and advancing capital markets union to integrate Europe's fragmented equity and debt markets.

In what sounds like a new European industrial policy, Ms Merkel also says the EU should identify the technological capabilities it lacks and move fast to fill in the gaps. "I believe that chips should be manufactured in the European Union, that Europe should have its own hyperscalers and that it should be possible to produce battery cells," she says. It must also have the confidence to set the new global digital standards. She cites the example of the General Data Protection Regulation, which supporters see as a gold standard for privacy and proof that the EU can become a rulemaker, rather than a rule taker, when it comes to the digital economy. Europe can offer an alternative to the US and Chinese approach to data. "I firmly believe that personal data does not belong to the state or to companies," she says. "It must be ensured that the individual has sovereignty over their own data and can decide with whom and for what purpose they share it."

The continent's scale and diversity also make it hard to reach a consensus on reform. Europe is deeply split: the migration crisis of 2015 opened up a chasm between the liberal west and countries like Viktor Orban's Hungary which has not healed. Even close allies like Germany and France have occasionally locked horns: Berlin's cool response to Emmanuel Macron's reform initiatives back in 2017 triggered anger in Paris, while the French president's unilateral overture to Mr Putin last year provoked irritation in Berlin. And when it comes to reform of the eurozone, divisions still exist between fiscally challenged southern Europeans and the fiscally orthodox new Hanseatic League of northern countries.

Ms Merkel remains to a degree hostage to German public opinion. Germany, she admits, is still "slightly hesitant" on banking union, "because our principle is that everyone first needs to reduce the risks in their own country today before we can mutualise the risks". And capital markets union might require member states to seek closer alignment on things like insolvency law. These divisions pale in comparison to the gulf between Europe and the US under president Donald Trump. Germany has become the administration's favourite punching bag, lambasted for its relatively low defence spending, big current account surplus and imports of Russian gas. German business dreads Mr Trump making good on his threat to impose tariffs on European cars.

It is painful for Ms Merkel, whose career took off after unification. In an interview last year she described how, while coming of age in communist East Germany, she yearned to make a classic American road trip: "See the Rocky Mountains, drive around and listen to Bruce Springsteen -- that was my dream," she told Der Spiegel.

The poor chemistry between Ms Merkel and Mr Trump has been widely reported. But are the latest tensions in the German-US relationship just personal -- or is there more to it? "I think it has structural causes," she says. For years now, Europe and Germany have been slipping down the US's list of priorities.

"There's been a shift," she says. "President Obama already spoke about the Asian century, as seen from the US perspective. This also means that Europe is no longer, so to say, at the centre of world events."She adds: "The United States' focus on Europe is declining -- that will be the case under any president."The answer? "We in Europe, and especially in Germany, need to take on more responsibility."

Germany has vowed to meet the Nato target of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence by the start of the 2030s. Ms Merkel admits that for those alliance members which have already reached the 2 per cent goal, "naturally this is not enough". But there's no denying Germany has made substantial progress on the issue: its defence budget has increased by 40 per cent since 2015, which is "a huge step from Germany's perspective".

Ms Merkel insists the transatlantic relationship "remains crucial for me, particularly as regards fundamental questions concerning values and interests in the world". Yet Europe should also develop its own military capability. There may be regions outside Nato's primary focus where "Europe must -- if necessary -- be prepared to get involved. I see Africa as one example," she says.

Defence is hardly the sole bone of contention with the US. Trade is a constant irritation. Berlin watched with alarm as the US and China descended into a bitter trade war in 2018: it still fears becoming collateral damage.

"Can the European Union come under pressure between America and China? That can happen, but we can also try to prevent it. "Germany has few illusions about China. German officials and businesspeople are just as incensed as their US counterparts by China's theft of intellectual property, its unfair investment practices, state-sponsored cyber-hacking and human rights abuses in regions like Xinjiang.

Once seen as a strategic partner, China is increasingly viewed in Berlin as a systemic rival. But Berlin has no intention of emulating the US policy of "decoupling" -- cutting its diplomatic, commercial and financial ties with China. Instead, Ms Merkel has staunchly defended Berlin's close relationship with Beijing. She says she would "advise against regarding China as a threat simply because it is economically successful".

"As was the case in Germany, [China's] rise is largely based on hard work, creativity and technical skills," she says. Of course there is a need to "ensure that trade relations are fair". China's economic strength and geopolitical ambitions mean it is a rival to the US and Europe. But the question is: "Do we in Germany and Europe want to dismantle all interconnected global supply chains . . . because of this economic competition?" She adds: "In my opinion, complete isolation from China cannot be the answer."Her plea for dialogue and co-operation has set her on a collision course with some in her own party.

China hawks in her Christian Democratic Union share US mistrust of Huawei, the Chinese telecoms equipment group, fearing it could be used by Beijing to conduct cyber espionage or sabotage. Ms Merkel has pursued a more conciliatory line. Germany should tighten its security requirements towards all telecoms providers and diversify suppliers "so that we never make ourselves dependent on one firm" in 5G. But "I think it is wrong to simply exclude someone per se," she says.

The rise of China has triggered concern over Germany's future competitiveness. And that economic "angst" finds echoes in the febrile politics of Ms Merkel's fourth term. Her "grand coalition" with the Social Democrats is wracked by squabbling. The populist Alternative for Germany is now established in all 16 of the country's regional parliaments. A battle has broken out for the post-Merkel succession, with a crop of CDU heavy-hitters auditioning for the top job.

Many in the political elite worry about waning international influence in the final months of the Merkel era.While she remains one of the country's most popular politicians, Germans are asking what her legacy will be. For many of her predecessors, that question is easy to answer: Konrad Adenauer anchored postwar Germany in the west; Willy Brandt ushered in detente with the Soviet Union; Helmut Kohl was the architect of German reunification. So how will Ms Merkel be remembered?

Vladimir Putin: liberalism has 'outlived its purpose'

She brushes away the question. "I don't think about my role in history -- I do my job." But what about critics who say the Merkel era was mere durchwurschteln -- muddling through? That word, she says, in a rare flash of irritation, "isn't part of my vocabulary". Despite her reputation for gradualism and caution, Ms Merkel will doubtless be remembered for two bold moves that changed Germany -- ordering the closure of its nuclear power stations after the Fukushima disaster of 2011, and keeping the country's borders open at the height of the 2015 refugee crisis. That decision was her most controversial, and there are some in Germany who still won't forgive her for it. But officials say Germany survived the influx, and has integrated the more than 1m migrants who arrived in 2015-16.

She prefers to single out less visible changes. Germany is much more engaged in the world: just look, she says, at the Bundeswehr missions in Africa and Afghanistan. During the Kohl era, even the idea of dispatching a ship to the Adriatic to observe the war in Yugoslavia was controversial. She also mentions efforts to end the war in Ukraine, its role in the Iran nuclear deal, its assumption of ever more "diplomatic, and increasingly also military responsibility". "It may become more in future, but we are certainly on the right path," she says.

The Merkel era has been defined by crisis but thanks to her stewardship most Germans have rarely had it so good. The problem is the world expects even more of a powerful, prosperous Germany and its next chancellor.Letter in response to this article:At last, I understand Brexit's real purpose / From John Beadsmoore, Great Wilbraham, Cambs, UK

[Jan 19, 2020] Foreign Policy Is Domestic Policy The National Interest

Jan 19, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

September 18, 2012 Topic: Domestic Politics Elections Global Governance Region: United States Foreign Policy Is Domestic Policy

The hubris that the external behavior of the United States has no impact on the domestic condition of the country can no longer be indulged.

by Nikolas K. Gvosdev ,

[Jan 19, 2020] Has US overplayed its tech advantage

Jan 19, 2020 | www.asiatimes.com

This partly explains why the US is taking its battle on 5G technology with the Chinese so seriously. As a faltering global leader, the Americans do not take it kindly when China tries to snatch a lunch right from under their nose. As such, the US-China trade war goes beyond economics and ideology. It is about global domination across every conceivable technology that consumers and governments worldwide are addicted to these days.

Metaphorically, technology is the new opium that rakes in money, power and control. Take a look at the way consumers across the world are utilizing technologies. From smartphones to mobile apps, from cloud-computing to cybersecurity, trillions of dollars are being spent by consumers and their governments. The Americans were laughing their way to the bank until the Chinese came along and upset their game.

As greed has no boundary or limit, every challenger or opposition to the consumption of this "new opium" means a loss in revenue, power and control for the US and its preferred allies. Sharing the spoils with others is looking like an inconceivable option for them at this stage.

To call the tension between the US and China a trade war undermines this greater reality. From unilateral sanctions to outright destruction of economies, it is starting to look as if the US is using technology to regain global domination at all costs.

[Jan 19, 2020] The US-China "Trade Deal" by Paul Craig Roberts

Notable quotes:
"... Trump is covering his retraction by calling it a trade deal. China's part of the deal is to agree to purchase the US goods that it already intended to purchase. ..."
Jan 18, 2020 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

The first thing to understand is that it is not a trade deal. It is Trump backing off his tariffs when he discovered that the tarrifs fall on US goods and American consumers, not on China. Trump is covering his retraction by calling it a trade deal. China's part of the deal is to agree to purchase the US goods that it already intended to purchase.

The purpose of tariffs is to protect domestic producers from foreign competition by raising the price of imported goods. What Trump, his administration, and the financial press did not understand is that at least half of the US trade deficit with China is the offshored goods produced in China by such corporations as Apple, Nike, and Levi. The offshored production of US global corporations counts as imports when they are brought into the US to be sold to Americans. Thus, the cost of the tariffs were falling on US corporations and US consumers.

Tariffs are not an effective way to bring offshored US manufacturing home. If Trump or any US government wants to bring US manufacturing back to the US from its offshored locations, the way to achieve this result is to change the way the US taxes corporations. The rule would be: If a US corporation produces in the US with US labor for US markets, the firm's profits are taxed at a low rate. If the corporation produces products for the US market abroad with foreign labor, the tax rate will be high enough to more than wipe out the labor cost savings.

As I have emphasized for years, the offshoring of US manufacturing has inflicted massive external costs on the United States. Middle class jobs have been lost, careers ended, living standards of former US manufacturing workers and families have dropped. The tax base of cities and states has shrunk, causing cutbacks in public services and undermining municipal and state pension funds. You can add to this list. These costs are the true cost of the increased profits from the lower foreign labor and compliance costs. A relatively few executives and shareholders benefitted at the expense of a vast number of Americans.

This is the problem that needs to be addressed and corrected.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West , How America Was Lost , and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order . Donate and support Dr, Roberts Work.

[Jan 19, 2020] Democrats Ignore the Immigration Elephant in the Room

Notable quotes:
"... Des Moines Register ..."
"... Washington Examiner ..."
"... The Great Revolt ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
Jan 19, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Democrats Ignore the Immigration Elephant in the Room

The most important issue of Trump's ascent has drawn silence from the Democratic Party, now the party of the elites. (Jim Larkin/Shutterstock )

January 17, 2020

|

12:01 am

Robert W. Merry At Tuesday's Democratic debate sponsored by CNN and the Des Moines Register , nobody seemed to notice the elephant in the room -- or perhaps the candidates and moderators just didn't want to acknowledge its presence. Whether it was out of blindness or stubbornness, it tells us a great deal about the state of the Democratic Party in our time -- and also about the state of American politics.

That elephant is immigration, and the issue it represents is the defining one of our time. It is the most intractable, the most emotional, and the most irrepressible of all matters facing Western societies. And yet it was almost totally ignored in the most crucial debate so far in the Democratic quest for a presidential nominee. Two passing references was all the issue got over two hours of polemical fireworks.

President Trump certainly came in for his share of opprobrium from the top six Democratic candidates, yet nobody seemed to have the slightest awareness that the single most important issue driving Trump's political rise four years ago was immigration. A Pew Research Center survey revealed after the 2016 election that 66 percent of Trump supporters considered immigration to be a "very big" problem, the highest percentage for any issue. For Hillary Clinton supporters, the corresponding percentage was just 17. Also, fully 79 percent of Trump voters favored building the border wall he advocated, compared to just 10 percent for Clinton supporters.

During the 2016 campaign, the Washington Examiner called immigration "the mother of all issues" -- touching on jobs, national security and terrorism, the public fisc, and the cultural definition of America. That latter factor, said the paper, was a "nearly existential question" involving the ultimate definition of a nation without borders.

Elsewhere in the West, we see the same political percolation. By most analyses, immigration was the driving force behind Britain's 2016 vote for Brexit. The Atlantic ran a piece in June of that year headlined: "The Immigration Battle at the Heart of Brexit." After the vote, Slate rushed out to interview former British prime minister Tony Blair -- who, as the website noted, "presided over the opening of Britain's borders." That had unleashed "a wave of immigration unprecedented in [Britain's] history." Within a few years, noted Slate, "roughly twice as many immigrants arrived in the United Kingdom as had arrived in the previous half-century." The Brexit vote was in large measure a rebuke to that Blair project, pushed avidly and relentlessly by the British ruling class.

Elsewhere in Europe -- Hungary, Poland, France, Germany, Italy, even Sweden, among other nations -- mass immigration has emerged as the dominant issue, roiling the waters of national politics and pushing to the fore various types of conservative populism. New parties have emerged to join the issue, and old parties have gained new sway.

Many commentators and political analysts in recent years have posited the idea that a new political fault line has emerged throughout the West, between the globalist elites and ordinary citizens who are more nationalist in their political sensibilities and more culturally protective. This is true. And while there are many issues that have come into play here, such as trade, military adventurism, identity politics, and political correctness, immigration is the key driver.

Generally, the open-border elites have been on the defensive since Donald Trump seized the issue in 2015 and tied it to the emotional matters of terrorism and crime. Trump was probably correct in the first Republican debate of the 2016 election cycle when he said that, were it not for him, immigration probably wouldn't have been a major topic of discussion. It certainly seemed as if the other candidates preferred to keep it out of the campaign debate so it could be handled after the election in the more controlled environments of Congress and the courts. By bringing it up, even in his crude and disturbing manner, Trump galvanized a large body of voters who had concluded that the elites of both parties didn't really care about controlling the borders.

Indeed, in their 2018 book, The Great Revolt , Salena Zito and Brad Todd posit that Trump got an extra boost from working class Americans put off by the attacks on him from prominent politicians of both parties who called his immigration concerns "unhinged," "reprehensible," "xenophobic," "racist," and "fascist." Zito and Todd write that many Trump voters "saw one candidate, who shared their anxiety about immigration's potential connections to domestic terrorism, being attacked by an entire political and media establishment that blew off that concern as bigotry."

In this great political divide, the Democratic candidates at the debate represent the elite preference for policies that embrace or nearly embrace open borders. An NPR study of candidate positions indicated that, on the question of whether illegal crossings should be decriminalized, four of those on the debate stage say yes, while the positions of the other two remain "unclear." On whether immigration numbers should be increased, four say yes, while two are unclear. On whether federal funding for border enforcement should be increased or decreased, five have no clear position, while one says it should be decreased. A separate Washington Post study on the candidates' views as to whether illegal immigrants should be covered under a government-run health plan found that five say yes while one has no clear position.

The Democratic Party has become the party of the country's elites -- globalist, internationalist, anti-nationalist, free-trade, and open borders. Those views are so thoroughly at variance with those of Trump voters that it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we have here a powerful issue of our time, perhaps the most powerful issue. Yet the journalistic moderators at Tuesday's event didn't see fit to ask about it. And the candidates weren't inclined to bring it up in any serious way.

Perhaps they thought that if they just ignored that elephant, eventually it would go away. It won't.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington, D.C., journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century (Simon & Schuster).


MarkVA 2 days ago

A million Eastern Europeans (Poles) move to the UK, and this precipitates Brexit. A million Ukrainians move to Poland, and it is hardly noticed there. There is a difference here which the author did not notice, or care to notice, and I feel no obligation to explain;

Also, in 2016 some truly nasty things were said about the Mexican people, and they were not said by the people on the left. Again, this post fails to mention any of that;

These two things suggest a myopia of American conservatism.

izzy MarkVA a day ago
Mark, you really are a voice of reason. I enjoy engaging with you.

Agree with you entirely here. I think you'll notice that ethnocentrism I was talking about in the previous conversation we had in Rod's post about BenOp for the humanities. The ethnocentrism is in full display on that thread.

It's weird to call the democrats the party of the elites when about half, it not more of the working class vote democratic. The Washington post just put out a poll on black Americans and their hatred of Trump is almost universal. Most blacks are working clsss. The vast majority of Hispanics are also working class and they sure aren't Trump voters either.

trailhiker 2 days ago
Trump and the GOP: had a mandate for populist reform, passed a tax-cut-for-billionaires, almost start a neocon war with Iran

Obama and the Dems: had a mandate and passed ACA, which BigMediPharma is totally fine with, gave Wall Street a big bailout and no punishment for the derivatives crash

Both of the parties are owned by the elites with a few exceptions here and there, such as Sanders and Gabbard. And of course those two are attacked quite a bit by the elites.

Kent trailhiker a day ago
Both parties want to increase immigration, because they drive down wages and increase profits. Both parties are funded by the same crew of the shareholding class.

Trump is an outlier in that he is willing to talk about the unmentionable, which got him elected. Unfortunately, by calling Mexican immigrants rapists, drug dealers and murderers, he associated the immigration issue with racism instead of wage issues. While that played to an ugly subset of his supporters, it took the discussion of immigration off the board for Democrats because they don't want the association.

Bernie Sanders has fought against open borders in the past because of the effect on wages. But he can't discuss it now.

[Jan 18, 2020] The US China Phase 1 Deal Interpeted: Break Thing, Claim to Fix Thing, Repeat

Highly recommended!
Jan 18, 2020 | econbrowser.com

...if nothing had happened in the US-China trade war. Well, me might have gotten to where we are supposed to be with the deal

..a honest question. In terms of the environment and global climate, is it a good thing that farmers will be producing more monoculture grains, dairy, beef and pork for export?

[Jan 18, 2020] The US-China Nothing Burger Trade Deal by Barkley Rosser

Jan 18, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

There has been much hype about the signing of Phase One (and probably only) US-China trade deal. However based on a front page story in today's Washington Post, there is not much there. The US did not raise tariffs as planned, but tarifsf still remain on two thirds of the sectors that had them, although some were halved. But numerous US sectors see no change at all and are now viewing the situation as not likely to improve, with them suffering losses of business likely to return. Among those are chemicals, apparel retailers, and auto parts. In these and other sectors there is not much reduction of uncertainty regarding US-China trade, so not likely much increase in investment.

The main items in it besides no worsening of tariffs, China has made promises not to pressure US firms to turn over technology and also to increase imports from the US by $200 billion over the next two years, especially in energy and agriculture. So maybe US soybean farmers will no longer need the bailouts of billions of $ Trump has been providing to them. However, such promises have been made in the past.

As it is, I am watching commentators on Bloomberg, and about the most any of them are willing to say is that this "puts a floor" on the "deterioration" of US-China trade relations. That is far from some dramatic breakthrough, and most of the tariffs put on as part of the US-China trade war remain in place.

Barkley Rosser


spencer , January 16, 2020 3:49 pm

This looks like it may be a way to make it a status quo or back burner issue until after the election.

Of course Trump will always be able to blow it up if he decides that would be to his advantage.

Bert Schlitz , January 16, 2020 4:53 pm

I don't see how they "buy" 200 billion worth of goods. The Chinese economy is slowing and that is why purchases were flattening by 2014.

Its noise and circuses.

pgl , January 16, 2020 5:48 pm

Bert – I agree. Menzie Chinn over at Econbrowser has a lot of details on this noise and circus. Check it out!

[Jan 18, 2020] Numerous US sectors see no change at all and are now viewing the situation as not likely to improve, with them suffering losses of business likely to return. Among those are chemicals, apparel retailers, and auto parts by Barkley Rosser

Jan 18, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

There has been much hype about the signing of Phase One (and probably only) US-China trade deal. However based on a front page story in today's Washington Post, there is not much there. The US did not raise tariffs as planned, but tarifsf still remain on two thirds of the sectors that had them, although some were halved. But numerous US sectors see no change at all and are now viewing the situation as not likely to improve, with them suffering losses of business likely to return. Among those are chemicals, apparel retailers, and auto parts. In these and other sectors there is not much reduction of uncertainty regarding US-China trade, so not likely much increase in investment.

The main items in it besides no worsening of tariffs, China has made promises not to pressure US firms to turn over technology and also to increase imports from the US by $200 billion over the next two years, especially in energy and agriculture. So maybe US soybean farmers will no longer need the bailouts of billions of $ Trump has been providing to them. However, such promises have been made in the past.

As it is, I am watching commentators on Bloomberg, and about the most any of them are willing to say is that this "puts a floor" on the "deterioration" of US-China trade relations. That is far from some dramatic breakthrough, and most of the tariffs put on as part of the US-China trade war remain in place.


spencer , January 16, 2020 3:49 pm

This looks like it may be a way to make it a status quo or back burner issue until after the election.

Of course Trump will always be able to blow it up if he decides that would be to his advantage.

Bert Schlitz , January 16, 2020 4:53 pm

I don't see how they "buy" 200 billion worth of goods. The Chinese economy is slowing and that is why purchases were flattening by 2014.

Its noise and circuses.

pgl , January 16, 2020 5:48 pm

Bert – I agree. Menzie Chinn over at Econbrowser has a lot of details on this noise and circus. Check it out!

[Jan 16, 2020] Battle of the Ages to stop Eurasian integration by Pepe Escobar

Jan 16, 2020 | www.asiatimes.com

Battle of the Ages to stop Eurasian integration

Coming decade could see the US take on Russia, China and Iran over the New Silk Road connection

The Raging Twenties started with a bang with the targeted assassination of Iran's General Qasem Soleimani.

Yet a bigger bang awaits us throughout the decade: the myriad declinations of the New Great Game in Eurasia, which pits the US against Russia, China and Iran, the three major nodes of Eurasia integration.

Every game-changing act in geopolitics and geoeconomics in the coming decade will have to be analyzed in connection to this epic clash.

The Deep State and crucial sectors of the US ruling class are absolutely terrified that China is already outpacing the "indispensable nation" economically and that Russia has outpaced it militarily . The Pentagon officially designates the three Eurasian nodes as "threats."

Hybrid War techniques – carrying inbuilt 24/7 demonization – will proliferate with the aim of containing China's "threat," Russian "aggression" and Iran's "sponsorship of terrorism." The myth of the "free market" will continue to drown under the imposition of a barrage of illegal sanctions, euphemistically defined as new trade "rules."

Yet that will be hardly enough to derail the Russia-China strategic partnership. To unlock the deeper meaning of this partnership, we need to understand that Beijing defines it as rolling towards a "new era." That implies strategic long-term planning – with the key date being 2049, the centennial of New China.

The horizon for the multiple projects of the Belt and Road Initiative – as in the China-driven New Silk Roads – is indeed the 2040s, when Beijing expects to have fully woven a new, multipolar paradigm of sovereign nations/partners across Eurasia and beyond, all connected by an interlocking maze of belts and roads.

The Russian project – Greater Eurasia – somewhat mirrors Belt & Road and will be integrated with it. Belt & Road, the Eurasia Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank are all converging towards the same vision.

Realpolitik

So this "new era", as defined by the Chinese, relies heavily on close Russia-China coordination, in every sector. Made in China 2025 is encompassing a series of techno/scientific breakthroughs. At the same time, Russia has established itself as an unparalleled technological resource for weapons and systems that the Chinese still cannot match.

At the latest BRICS summit in Brasilia, President Xi Jinping told Vladimir Putin that "the current international situation with rising instability and uncertainty urge China and Russia to establish closer strategic coordination." Putin's response: "Under the current situation, the two sides should continue to maintain close strategic communication."

Russia is showing China how the West respects realpolitik power in any form, and Beijing is finally starting to use theirs. The result is that after five centuries of Western domination – which, incidentally, led to the decline of the Ancient Silk Roads – the Heartland is back, with a bang, asserting its preeminence.

On a personal note, my travels these past two years, from West Asia to Central Asia, and my conversations these past two months with analysts in Nur-Sultan, Moscow and Italy, have allowed me to get deeper into the intricacies of what sharp minds define as the Double Helix. We are all aware of the immense challenges ahead – while barely managing to track the stunning re-emergence of the Heartland in real-time.

In soft power terms, the sterling role of Russian diplomacy will become even more paramount – backed up by a Ministry of Defense led by Sergei Shoigu, a Tuvan from Siberia, and an intel arm that is capable of constructive dialogue with everybody: India/Pakistan, North/South Korea, Iran/Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan.

This apparatus does smooth (complex) geopolitical issues over in a manner that still eludes Beijing.

In parallel, virtually the whole Asia-Pacific – from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean – now takes into full consideration Russia-China as a counter-force to US naval and financial overreach.

Stakes in Southwest Asia

The targeted assassination of Soleimani, for all its long-term fallout, is just one move in the Southwest Asia chessboard. What's ultimately at stake is a macro geoeconomic prize: a land bridge from the Persian Gulf to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Last summer, an Iran-Iraq-Syria trilateral established that "the goal of negotiations is to activate the Iranian-Iraqi-Syria load and transport corridor as part of a wider plan for reviving the Silk Road."

There could not be a more strategic connectivity corridor, capable of simultaneously interlinking with the International North-South Transportation Corridor; the Iran-Central Asia-China connection all the way to the Pacific; and projecting Latakia towards the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

What's on the horizon is, in fact, a sub-sect of Belt & Road in Southwest Asia. Iran is a key node of Belt & Road; China will be heavily involved in the rebuilding of Syria; and Beijing-Baghdad signed multiple deals and set up an Iraqi-Chinese Reconstruction Fund (income from 300,000 barrels of oil a day in exchange for Chinese credit for Chinese companies rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure).

A quick look at the map reveals the "secret" of the US refusing to pack up and leave Iraq, as demanded by the Iraqi Parliament and Prime Minister: to prevent the emergence of this corridor by any means necessary. Especially when we see that all the roads that China is building across Central Asia – I navigated many of them in November and December – ultimately link China with Iran.

The final objective: to unite Shanghai to the Eastern Mediterranean – overland, across the Heartland.

As much as Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea is an essential node of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and part of China's multi-pronged "escape from Malacca" strategy, India also courted Iran to match Gwadar via the port of Chabahar in the Gulf of Oman.

So as much as Beijing wants to connect the Arabian Sea with Xinjiang, via the economic corridor, India wants to connect with Afghanistan and Central Asia via Iran.

Yet India's investments in Chabahar may come to nothing, with New Delhi still mulling whether to become an active part of the US "Indo-Pacific" strategy, which would imply dropping Tehran.

The Russia-China-Iran joint naval exercise in late December, starting exactly from Chabahar, was a timely wake-up for New Delhi. India simply cannot afford to ignore Iran and end up losing its key connectivity node, Chabahar.

The immutable fact: everyone needs and wants Iran connectivity. For obvious reasons, since the Persian empire, this is the privileged hub for all Central Asian trade routes.

On top of it, Iran for China is a matter of national security. China is heavily invested in Iran's energy industry. All bilateral trade will be settled in yuan or in a basket of currencies bypassing the US dollar.

US neocons, meanwhile, still dream of what the Cheney regime was aiming at in the past decade: regime change in Iran leading to the US dominating the Caspian Sea as a springboard to Central Asia, only one step away from Xinjiang and weaponization of anti-China sentiment. It could be seen as a New Silk Road in reverse to disrupt the Chinese vision.

Battle of the Ages

A new book, The Impact of China's Belt and Road Initiativ e , by Jeremy Garlick of the University of Economics in Prague, carries the merit of admitting that, "making sense" of Belt & Road "is extremely difficult."

This is an extremely serious attempt to theorize Belt & Road's immense complexity – especially considering China's flexible, syncretic approach to policymaking, quite bewildering for Westerners. To reach his goal, Garlick gets into Tang Shiping's social evolution paradigm, delves into neo-Gramscian hegemony, and dissects the concept of "offensive mercantilism" – all that as part of an effort in "complex eclecticism."

The contrast with the pedestrian Belt & Road demonization narrative emanating from US "analysts" is glaring. The book tackles in detail the multifaceted nature of Belt & Road's trans-regionalism as an evolving, organic process.

Imperial policymakers won't bother to understand how and why Belt & Road is setting a new global paradigm. The NATO summit in London last month offered a few pointers. NATO uncritically adopted three US priorities: even more aggressive policy towards Russia; containment of China (including military surveillance); and militarization of space – a spin-off from the 2002 Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine.

So NATO will be drawn into the "Indo-Pacific" strategy – which means containment of China. And as NATO is the EU's weaponized arm, that implies the US interfering on how Europe does business with China – at every level.

Retired US Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff from 2001 to 2005, cuts to the chase: "America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It's part of who we are. It's part of what the American Empire is. We are going to lie, cheat and steal, as Pompeo is doing right now, as Trump is doing right now, as Esper is doing right now and a host of other members of my political party, the Republicans, are doing right now. We are going to lie, cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That's the truth of it. And that's the agony of it."

Moscow, Beijing and Tehran are fully aware of the stakes. Diplomats and analysts are working on the trend, for the trio, to evolve a concerted effort to protect one another from all forms of hybrid war – sanctions included – launched against each of them.

For the US, this is indeed an existential battle – against the whole Eurasia integration process, the New Silk Roads, the Russia-China strategic partnership, those Russian hypersonic weapons mixed with supple diplomacy, the profound disgust and revolt against US policies all across the Global South, the nearly inevitable collapse of the US dollar. What's certain is that the Empire won't go quietly into the night. We should all be ready for the battle of the ages.

[Jan 16, 2020] A Trade Deal Meant to Heal Rifts Could Actually Make Them Worse

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jan 16 2020 18:16 utc | 9

An extremely rare candid and somewhat precise piece of journalism by the NYT (albeit telling the story from the point of view of the Americans/capitalists):

A Trade Deal Meant to Heal Rifts Could Actually Make Them Worse

Here's an interesting paragraph:

What it does not do is tackle the root causes of the trade war. The deal leaves untouched Beijing's subsidies for homegrown industries and its firm control over crucial levers of its hard-charging economy . The deal also keeps in place most of Mr. Trump's tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods, a much heavier tax than Americans pay for products from practically anywhere else.

Solving those issues could take years.

Interesting to see what the Americans consider to be China's "root causes of the trade war". And we still have people who believe the war against China is not a war between capitalism and socialism, but between "freedom and tyranny". Pure middle class liberal dellusion of grandeur.

--//--

In the last open thread, in my first comment, I highlighted how fast the Western MSM gave up the idea the Labour Party should have its first female leader in order to prop up their guy, Keir Starmer (literally the only male still in the dispute right now). The reason, of course, is that his main rival - Rebecca Long-Bailey - is Corbyn's successor and, as such, has Momentum's (and, probably, of the unions) support.

Well, this didn't stop the typical Western hypocrisy from working. Yesterday, a wave of accusations of Bernie Sanders happened (again).

I have been stating here for some time now that the function of the middle class is to serve as the battering ram of the capitalists. They are the class tasked with fabricating the narratives and "theories" which all the society should believe and never question. They are what that 007 villain (Spectre) called "visionaires", or what the far-rightists in America call "the experts".

If that's true, then postmodernism is their ideological weapon of choice nowadays.

karlof1 , Jan 16 2020 18:37 utc | 10

doesn't matter in which order they're read, but Escobar's latest intersects with Alastair Crooke's to provide Big Picture perspective.

Towards his conclusion, Escobar cites retired US Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff from 2001 to 2005:

"We are going to lie, cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That's the truth of it. And that's the agony of it."

But nowhere in the citation does Wilkerson say that any of this effort's being done to defend the USA, whereas its beyond clear that Iran, China and Russia are all working to protect their nations and people. Rather, it appears as if "the profound disgust and revolt against US policies all across the Global South" is finally being adopted by a majority of the USA's polity as it becomes clear that all the lying, cheating and stealing is being done at the expense of the 99% for the 1%'s benefit.

As Crooke alludes, wagging the dog a la Clinton might save Trump from being convicted and removed by the Senate, but such a move will likely cost him the election, although much depends on how those controlling the D-Party behave in the face of Sanders winning the nomination via the primaries prior to the Convention.

[Jan 16, 2020] US-China Phase One Deal Signed What Is Inside and What to Expect Next

Trust was destroyed, but it looks like China folded...
Jan 16, 2020 | sputniknews.com

Under the text of the Phase One deal - which was released later in the day by the Office of the US Trade Representative - both sides agree that they can formally complain to each other if either feels the other side is not holding up its end of the bargain.

China Accepts Deal to Buy $200Bln in US Goods

First and foremost, the document obliges Beijing to purchase at least $200 billion worth of US goods over the next two years.

"During the two-year period from January 1, 2020, through December 31, 2021, China shall ensure that purchases and imports into China from the United States of the manufactured goods, agricultural goods, energy products, and services identified in Annex 6.1 exceed the corresponding 2017 baseline amount by no less than $200 billion", the text of the agreement reads.

The agreement said China will ensure that it buys $32.9 billion worth of US manufactured goods this year and $44.8 billion in 2021; $12.5 billion in US agricultural goods this year and $19.5 billion in 2021; $18.5 billion in US energy products this year and $33.9 billion in 2021; and $12.8 billion in US services this year and $25.1 billion in 2021.

US, China Agree to Protect Patents, Fight Abuse of Trade Secrets

The United States and China agreed to protect patents, particularly in pharmaceuticals, and ban counterfeit products and the misappropriation of trade secrets.

"China shall permit pharmaceutical patent applicants to rely on supplemental data to satisfy relevant requirements for patentability, including sufficiency of disclosure and inventive step, during patent examination proceedings, patent review proceedings, and judicial proceedings", the text of the deal said. "The United States affirms that existing US measures afford treatment equivalent to that provided for in this Article".

Beijing and Washington also resolved to strengthen cooperation and coordination in combating piracy, including counterfeiting on e-commerce platforms, in the agreement.

On the protection of trade secrets, the United States said China will treat as "urgent" the use, or attempted use, of claimed trade secret information and provide its judicial authorities the authority to order a preliminary injunction based on case facts and circumstances. Washington pledged to do the same for China.

China to Boost US Energy Imports by $52 Bln

China also agreed to increase purchases of US energy products by $52 billion in the next two years.

The US energy products will be part of the total $200 billion worth of US goods that China will import through 2021, according to the agreement.

"For the category of energy products no less than $18.5 billion above the corresponding 2017 baseline amount is purchased and imported into China from the United States in calendar year 2020, and no less than $33.9 billion above the corresponding 2017 baseline amount is purchased and imported into China from the United States in calendar year 2021", the text of the deal said.

The agreement listed the US energy products that China will be buying as: crude oil, liquefied natural gas, refined petroleum and coal.

China is the world's largest buyer of oil and the United States is the largest producer of the commodity.

Oil prices, which hit five-week lows earlier on Wednesday, pared their losses after the energy deal was announced by the US and Chinese governments.

Avoiding Currency Manipulations

Under the Phase One deal China agrees to not engage in currency manipulation for the purpose of achieving trade advantages over the United States.

"The Parties shall refrain from competitive devaluations and not target exchange rates for competitive purposes, including through large-scale, persistent, one-sided intervention in exchange markets," the agreement states.

The United States and China will communicate regularly and consult on foreign exchange markets, activities and policies as well as consult with each other regarding the International Monetary Fund's assessment of the exchange rate of each country, the agreement states.

The agreement states that the United States and China should achieve and maintain a market-determined exchange rate regime.

The agreement comes after two years of wrangling and numerous halts in discussions, during which both sides piled hundreds of billions of dollars of tit-for-tat tariffs on each other.

Despite the signing of the accord, the Trump administration will maintain tariffs on $360 billion of Chinese goods in an attempt to hold Beijing accountable to the deal, US officials said. The Chinese government has also said it will decide later on the tariffs it has imposed on US imports, which last stood at $185 billion in value.

The US-China trade war sparked in January 2019, when the Trump administration announced duties on Chinese-made solar panels and washing machines. The Trump administration has since placed tariffs on $550 billion worth of Chinese products.

'Phase Two' Will End US-China Trade War?

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin commented earlier on Wednesday on the agreement and said that certain technology and cybersecurity issues would be resolved in the next chapter of the deal to end the trade dispute.

"I think a very significant amount of the technology issues are in Phase One. There are other certain areas of services away from financial services that will be in Phase Two. There are certain additional cybersecurity issues that will be in Phase Two [...] There still more issues to deal with and we'll address those", Mnuchin said, cited by CNBC.

Although the timing and details of Phase Two remain vague, Mnuchin ruled out Huawei being included, claiming that the Chinese tech giant is part of "the national security dialogue".

Trump claimed during a news conference on Wednesday that he does not foresee a Phase Three trade agreement with China, expecting to conclude the trade negotiations with Phase Two.

Buick Verano is assembled at General Motors' Orion Assembly plant in Orion Township © AP Photo / Carlos Osorio Fed Study Finds Trump's Trade Wars Backfired, Leading to Lost Jobs and Price Hikes Trump pointed out that his administration will begin Phase Two trade negotiations with China "shortly", without elaborating a timeline. US Vice President Mike Pence told Fox Business later in the day that the talks on the second phase were already underway.

"We've already begun discussions on a Phase 2 deal", Pence said, cited by Fox Business.

Trump said earlier that inking of the second phase of the deal may have to wait until after the 2020 presidential election to allow time to negotiate a better agreement.

Phase One and Phase Two could reportedly ease trade tensions between the two major economic powers but it would unlikely settle the dispute, The Washington Post reported.

According to the media outlet, the Trump administration is developing new export control regulations aimed at limiting flows of sophisticated technology to China, while US officials embarked on closely scrutinizing potential Chinese investments in the United States. Media reports of alleged new economic and technology levies against Beijing sparked speculation among analysts that Phase Three should not be excluded.

[Jan 11, 2020] Good Riddance to the WTO by Walden Bello

Dec 18, 2019 | www.wsws.org

Rich countries embraced trade multilateralism when it suited them, and now they're abandoning it. That may not be such a bad thing.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is on its last legs now that the Trump administration has blocked the appointment or reappointment of judges to the appeals court of its Dispute Settlement Mechanism -- which is the central pillar of the 24-year-old multilateral body.

Do I regret the demise of the World Trade Organization now that Trump is on a unilateral trade rampage? No. I always saw the WTO and unilateralism as two faces of U.S. power deployed against those countries seeking to remake the world trading order in a more equitable and just direction.

Multilateralism and unilateralism have, since the end of the Second World War, been alternative strategies for global hegemony preferred by competing factions of the U.S. ruling elite.

The Democrats preferred multilateralism because they felt it would both institutionalize the U.S.'s hegemonic status in the world trading order at the same time that it would make it more legitimate by obtaining the consent of its allies. Republicans, however, felt that the exercise of U.S. power should be as little constrained by global rules and institutions as possible.

These two views clashed head-on in 1948 during the debate over the ratification of the Havana Charter, which would have established the International Trade Organization (ITO). After having participated in the negotiations, the Democratic administration of President Truman did not submit it to the Senate for ratification, worried that the Republicans would successfully block it. The Republicans argued that ratifying the Havana Charter would be unconstitutional since no legal code could stand above the U.S. Constitution, and that a treaty governing trade would do precisely that.

Republicans and Democrats agreed to a compromise: the much weaker General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which had little checks on U.S. trade practices and did not bring under its ambit the global agricultural trade that U.S. corporations dominated. With trade making up only a small part of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) then, the U.S. was not worried about the absence of strong rules on global trade, and felt these would only harm the bottom line of its emerging transnational corporations.

Paradoxically, GATT allowed the rise of a number of formerly minor trading countries into major actors in global trade, which would not have been possible within an iron-clad free trade regime. These were mainly economies from East Asia like South Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia that engaged in aggressive export policies while building up manufacturing industries protected by high tariffs and import quotas. At the same time, by the 1970s and 1980s, trade accounted for a greater part of U.S. GDP than in the late 1940s, and U.S. corporations wanted fewer restrictions on their penetration of foreign markets.

So Washington changed its mind in the 1980s, and both Republicans and Democrats agreed to push for a strengthened global trade regime.

The U.S. was confident that it would benefit mainly its corporations which it saw as the most competitive in the world. The European Union decided to join the bandwagon for a strengthened international trade regime mainly because, like Washington, it wanted to dump its massive agricultural surpluses on developing countries.

Leading industries in Europe, the U.S., and Japan -- like the automobile, information, and pharmaceutical industries -- also had a joint interest in preventing the emergence of new competitors from East and Southeast Asia by making the latter's liberal acquisition of complex technologies (dubbed "intellectual piracy") a violation of trade rules, or by preventing them from using trade restrictions to build up their industries.

The result was the World Trade Organization, which came into being in 1995. The WTO, from the perspective of U.S. interests, was a set of rules and institutions that would promote, consolidate, and legitimize structures of global trade ensuring the hegemony of US interests.

While free trade was the rhetoric of the WTO, the achievement of monopoly was actually the aim of the WTO's three most important agreements.

The Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) institutionalized the dumping of U.S. and European surpluses on developing countries by forcing the latter to end their import quotas and lower their tariffs. The Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPs) sought to institutionalize U.S. corporations' monopoly of high technology by outlawing reverse engineering and other methods used by developing countries to get universal access to knowledge. The Trade Related Investment Measures Agreement (TRIMs) sought to prevent countries from imitating Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia and using trade policy, like reducing imported inputs into finished goods in favor of local inputs, to build up industries that became significant competitors both in local and global markets.

Then, in 2003, with the heft provided by India, Brazil, and China (a WTO member since 2001), the developing countries in the WTO were able to prevent the U.S. and EU's attempt to dismantle government protection of small farmers. They foiled attempts to tighten the already very restrictive TRIPs Agreement, and prevented the joint U.S.-EU attempt to bring investment, government procurement, and competition policy under the ambit of the WTO.

Following this, the U.S. abandoned the multilateral route. After the Fifth Ministerial of the WTO collapsed in Cancun in 2003, the Republican Bush administration's Special Trade Representative Robert Zoellick warned: "As the WTO members ponder the future, the U.S. will not wait: we will move towards free trade with can-do countries."

Over the next few years, the U.S. and the EU preferred to put their efforts into forging bilateral trade agreements or limited multilateral agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that was the fallback position favored by the Obama administration. So Trump did not initiate the move back to unilateralism -- he merely brought to its climax, with his trade war with China, a swing back to unilateralism that had begun with the George W. Bush administration in 2003.

Indeed, Trump's blocking of judges to the WTO's appellate court is simply an extension of the policy of blocking the appointment or reappointment of judges practiced earlier by the supposedly multilateralist Obama administration. The most notorious trade act of the U.S. under Obama was its ouster in 2016 of Appellate Body Member Seung Wha Chang of South Korea on the grounds that it did not agree with the distinguished South Korean jurist's judgments in four trade disputes involving the U.S.

The result, the current global trading system, is a hodge-podge featuring a weakened WTO, failed trade agreements like the TPP, stalemated or slow-moving negotiations like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), developing country trade arrangements like Mercosur, bilateral treaties like the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, and non-institutionalized bilateral and unilateral initiatives.

This may, in fact, be the least undesirable of outcomes. For many developing countries, the era of the weak GATT regime from 1948 to 1995 was a dynamic era that left them a lot of development space owing to the lack of pressure for them to open up their agricultural and manufacturing sectors, weak trade dispute mechanisms, and the absence of anti-development pro-developed country regimes like TRIPs.

Instead of the chaos that neoliberal ideologues warn us against, current conditions might, in fact, be moving in the direction of a hybrid GATT-like system that would hold out a larger space for efforts at genuine sustainable development by the global South. Share this:

One of the principal actors in the Anti-Globalization Movement, FPIF commentator Walden Bello is the author of Deglobalization: Ideas for a New World Economy (Zed, 2000) and Revisiting and Reclaiming Deglobalization (Focus on the Global South, 2019). He can be contacted at waldenbello@yahoo.com . This article originally appeared in German in the German periodical Welt-Sichten, Nov 7, 2019

[Jan 01, 2020] Nationalism is transforming the politics of the British Isles its power as a vehicle for discontent grows ever stronger The

Dec 25, 2019 | independent.co.uk

The desire by people to see themselves as a national community – even if many of the bonds binding them together are fictional – is one of the most powerful forces in the world

Patrick Cockburn | @indyworld |

Nationalism in different shapes and forms is powerfully transforming the politics of the British Isles, a development that gathered pace over the last five years and culminated in the general election this month.

National identities and the relationship between England, Scotland and Ireland are changing more radically than at any time over the last century. It is worth looking at the British archipelago as a whole on this issue because of the closely-meshed political relationship of its constituent nations. Some of these developments are highly visible such as the rise of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) to permanent political dominance in Scotland in the three general elections since the independence referendum in 2014.

Other changes are important but little commented on, such as the enhanced national independence and political influence of the Republic of Ireland over the British Isles as a continuing member of the EU as the UK leaves. Dublin's greater leverage when backed by the other 26 EU states was repeatedly demonstrated, often to the surprise and dismay of London, in the course of the negotiations in Brussels over the terms of the British withdrawal.

Northern Ireland saw more nationalist than unionist MPs elected in the general election for the first time since 1921. This is important because it is a further sign of the political impact of demographic change whereby Catholics/nationalists become the new majority and the Protestants/unionists the minority. The contemptuous ease with which Boris Johnson abandoned his ultra-unionist pledges to the DUP and accepted a customs border in the Irish Sea separating Northern Ireland from the rest of Britain shows how little loyalty the Conservatives feel towards the northern unionists and their distinct and abrasive brand of British nationalism.

These developments affecting four of the main national communities inhabiting the British Isles – Irish, nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland, Scots – are easy to track. Welsh nationalism is a lesser force. Much more difficult to trace and explain is the rise of English nationalism because it is much more inchoate than these other types of nationalism, has no programme, and is directly represented by no political party – though the Conservative Party has moved in that direction.

The driving force behind Brexit was always a certain type of English nationalism which did not lose its power to persuade despite being incoherent and little understood by its critics and supporters alike. In some respects, it deployed the rhetoric of any national community seeking self-determination. The famous Brexiteer slogan "take back control" is not that different in its implications from Sinn Fein – "Ourselves Alone" – though neither movement would relish the analogy.

The great power of the pro-Brexit movement, never really taken on board by its opponents, was to blame the very real sense of disempowerment and social grievances felt by a large part of the English population on Brussels and the EU. This may have been scapegoating on a grandiose scale, but nationalist movements the world over have targeted some foreign body abroad or national minority at home as the source of their ills. I asked one former Leave councillor – one of the few people I met who changed their mind on the issue after the referendum in 2016 – why people living in her deprived ward held the EU responsible for their poverty. Her reply cut through many more sophisticated explanations: "I suppose that it is always easier to blame Johnny Foreigner."

Applying life lessons to the pursuit of national happiness The Tories won't get far once progressives join forces 22,000 EU nationals have left NHS since Brexit vote, figures show This crude summary of the motives of many Leave voters has truth in it, but it is a mistake to caricature English nationalism as simply a toxic blend of xenophobia, racism, imperial nostalgia and overheated war memories. In the three years since the referendum the very act of voting for Brexit became part of many people's national identity, a desire to break free, kicking back against an overmighty bureaucracy and repelling attempts by the beneficiaries of globalisation to reverse a democratic vote.

The political left in most countries is bad at dealing with nationalism and the pursuit of self-determination. It sees these as a diversion from identifying and attacking the real perpetrators of social and economic injustice. It views nationalists as mistakenly or malignly aiming at the wrong target – usually foreigners – and letting the domestic ones off the hook.

The desire by people to see themselves as a national community – even if many of the bonds binding them together are fictional – is one of the most powerful forces in the world. It can only be ignored at great political cost, as the Labour Party has just found out to its cost for the fifth time (two referendums and three elections). What Labour should have done was early on take over the slogan "take back control" and seek to show that they were better able to deliver this than the Conservatives or the Brexit Party. There is no compelling reason why achieving such national demands should be a monopoly of the right. But in 2016, 2017 and 2019 Labour made the same mistake of trying to wriggle around Brexit as the prime issue facing the English nation without taking a firm position, an evasion that discredited it with both Remainers and Leavers.

Curiously, the political establishment made much the same mistake as Labour in underestimating and misunderstanding the nature of English nationalism. Up to the financial crisis of 2008 globalisation had been sold as a beneficial and inevitable historic process. Nationalism was old hat and national loyalties were supposedly on the wane. To the British political class, the EU obviously enhanced the political and economic strength of its national members. As beneficiaries of the status quo, they were blind to the fact that much of the country had failed to gain from these good things and felt marginalised and forgotten.

The advocates of supra-national organisations since the mediaeval papacy have been making such arguments and have usually been perplexed why they fail to stick. They fail to understand the strength of nationalism or religion in providing a sense of communal solidarity, even if it is based on dreams and illusions, that provides a vehicle for deeply felt needs and grievances. Arguments based on simple profit and loss usually lose out against such rivals.

Minervo , 1 day ago

Bigger by far are two forces which really do have control over our country -- the international NATO warmongers but even more so, the international banksters of the finance industry.

Why no 'leftist' campaign to Take Back Control of our money? Gordon Brown baled out the banks when they should have gone bankrupt and been nationalised.

Blair is forever tainted with his ill-fated Attack on Iraq. Surely New Liberals or Democrats or Socialists would want to lock down on that fiasco?

The Nationalism of taking back control could be a leftist project too.

Continued

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