Massively amplifying even Hamas’s own figures, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders suggested Israel had killed “over 10,000 innocent” Palestinian civilians in Gaza during the war there in the summer of 2014, and said the high casualties were the result of an “indiscriminate” Israeli military offensive. Hamas health authorities in Gaza put the civilian death toll at about a seventh of the figure cited by Sanders; Israel puts it lower still.
In an interview with the New York Daily News editorial board published on Monday, the Vermont senator acknowledged that he did not have the exact figures memorized, but twice said he believed that the Palestinian civilian death count surpassed 10,000, and excoriated Israel for what he deemed its disproportionate use of force.
Told that the number was “probably high,” Sanders responded: “I don’t have it in my number… but I think it’s over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled,” he went on. “Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.”
One of the epicenters of the global financial crisis that started during the second half of last year is Japan, and it looks like the markets in the land of the rising sun are entering yet another period of great turmoil. The Nikkei was down another 390 points last night, and it is now down more than 1,300 points since a week ago. Why this is so important for U.S. investors is because the Nikkei is often an early warning indicator of where the rest of the global markets are heading. For example, the Nikkei started crashing early last December about a month before U.S. markets started crashing really hard in early January. So the fact that the Nikkei has been falling very rapidly in recent days should be a huge red flag for investors in this country.
The third largest economy on the entire planet is in a comatose state at this point, and Japanese authorities have been throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it in an attempt to revive it. Government stimulus programs have pushed the debt to GDP ratio to 229 percent, and the quantitative easing that the Bank of Japan has been engaged in has made the Federal Reserve look timid by comparison.
But none of those extraordinary measures has been successful in stimulating the Japanese economy, so now the Bank of Japan has been been trying negative interest rates. Unfortunately, these negative rates are also having some unintended consequences. According to the Wall Street Journal, the negative interest rate program is putting additional stress on the Japanese financial sector…
I would keep a very close eye on the big banks in Japan. It is my conviction that there is a lot more brewing under the surface than we are being told about so far.
So now Iran is back to being demonized by the West as “provocative” and “destabilizing”. How come? Wasn’t the nuclear deal supposed to have brought Iran back to the Western-concocted “concert of nations”?
Iran will once again be discussed at the UN Security Council. The reason: recent ballistic missile tests, which according to the West, are “capable of delivering nuclear weapons” – an alleged violation of the 2015 UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
This is bogus. Tehran did test-launch ballistic missiles in early March. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei stressed missiles were key to Iran's future defense. Ballistic missiles have nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program; and yet Washington kept bringing it to the table during the manufactured nuclear crisis.
Russia knows it, of course. The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, Mikhail Ulyanov, once again had to go on the record saying the ballistic missile tests did not breach the UNSC resolution.
What else is new? Nothing. Washington will keep pressure on Tehran for a fundamental reason; the US did not get the natural gas commitments they were expecting after the nuclear deal. Iran privileges selling natural gas to Asian – and European – customers. Eurasian integration is the key.
Pressure also runs unabated over China related to the South China Sea. Beijing is not exactly worried. As much as Washington and Tokyo ratchet it up, Beijing increases its footprint in the Paracels and the Spratlys. The meat of the matter though is further south.
For China, the key is non-stop smooth trade and energy flows through a maritime highway that happens to contain crucial choke points. These choke points – most of all the Malacca Strait – are supervised by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
There’s absolutely no incentive for Indonesia to confront China. And Beijing for its part characterizes Jakarta as a peacemaking power. What matters for Jakarta is actually to boost maritime trade ties with Beijing. Same for Kuala Lumpur – even if Malaysia and China do have their not exactly apocalyptic South China Sea quarrels.
The (rhetorical) pattern from Washington spells out the usual, well, torrent of words. But what is the Empire of Chaos to do? A naval takeover of the South China Sea? Order Indonesia and Malaysia not to further improve their own – mutually beneficial — economic ties with Beijing?
Pressure over Iran. Pressure over China. Pressure over Russia – which included the (failed) plot to destroy the Russian economy using the oil production of the GCC petrodollar gang even if that would mean the destruction of the US oil industry, against US national interests.
Syria has graphically demonstrated Russian military capabilities to the real rulers of the Empire of Chaos – and that has left them dazed and confused. Up to the Syrian campaign, the whole focus was on China, especially Chinese missiles that could hit US guidance satellites for ICBMs and cruise missiles, as well as Chinese ability to shoot down an incoming foe traveling at a speed faster than an ICBM. A silent Chinese submarine surfacing undetected next to American aircraft carriers compounded the shock.
Now the Masters have realized the Pentagon is even more incapacitated compared to Russia. So Russia, and not China, is now the top “existential threat”.
Certainly if Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, not to mention France and the UK had any idea how far behind the Russians the US really is, then NATO might collapse for good, and the entire “West” would eventually shift away from Empire of Chaos hegemony. And if that was not dramatic enough, reality TV entertainer Donald Trump is emitting signs that the US should disassociate itself from NATO – imagine it dissolving under Trump rule, in parallel to the implosion/disintegration of the EU.
It may be enlightening to go back to what happened nine years ago, at the Munich security conference. Vladimir Putin already could see it coming, if not in detail at least conceptually. The inevitable geo-economic expansion of China via the One Belt, One Road (OBOR), the official denomination of the New Silk Roads – which are bound to unify Eurasia. The steady progress of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), evolving from a sort of Asian economic/trade community towards a sort of Asian NATO as well. The success of the “4+1” coalition in Syria should be read as a precursor to the SCO’s increased international role.
What’s left for the Empire of Chaos in the Eurasian front is the wishful thinking of attempting to encircle both Russia and China, while both keep actually expanding all across the Eurasian Heartland, shedding US dollars and buying gold, signing a flurry of contracts in yuan and selling oil and gas to all and sundry. Under Pressure? Well, call it a song by Queen and David Bowie; It's the terror of knowing/What this world is about/Watching some good friends/Screaming, "Let me out!"