Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Things To Come: 'Putin Is The New Master Of The Middle East', Japan Threatens Sanctions While N Korea Threatens Nuclear Annihilation





With the Trump administration lately focused mostly on domestic policy - even as Mueller's ongoing Russian probe continues to hang over Trump's head - US power and influence in the Middle East has found itself in retreat, a continuation of unsuccessful and/or failed policies implemented by the Obama administration, resulting in a power vacuum that has to be filled, and one country has emerged willing to take America's spot. 

As Bloomberg writes today, "the Israelis and Turks, the Egyptians and Jordanians - they’re all beating a path to the Kremlin in the hope that Vladimir Putin, the new master of the Middle Eastcan secure their interests and fix their problems."

And now, none other than Saudi Arabia is the latest to make friendly overtures toward the Kremlin, when Saudi King Salman visits Moscow on Wednesday, the first monarch of the oil-rich kingdom to do so. At the top of his agenda will be reining in Iran, a close Russian ally seen as a deadly foe by most Gulf Arab states. 

“It changed the reality, the balance of power on the ground,” said Dennis Ross, America’s former chief Mideast peace negotiator who advised several presidents from George H. W. Bush to Barack Obama. “Putin has succeeded in making Russia a factor in the Middle East. That’s why you see a constant stream of Middle Eastern visitors going to Moscow.”

For the most part, America’s local allies were firmly in the Assad-must-go camp. They were disillusioned when U.S. military might wasn’t deployed to force him out

Russia’s clout in the region has grown “because Obama allowed it to,’’ said Khaled Batarfi, a professor at Alfaisal University’s branch in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. “Unfortunately he withdrew to a great extent from the Middle East.’’
That view is widespread. It was bluntly expressed last month by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who spent years urging American action against Assad. Talks with the U.S. “couldn’t get any results,’’ he said.
And, as discussed here previously, Turkey has now alligned with Russia and Iran in a plan to de-escalate the conflict. It’s “achieving a result,’’ Erdogan said.

While economics are a limiting factor for Russia, Putin has another material advantage over American presidents according to Paul Salem, vice president of the Middle East Institute in Washington. He has no Congress to worry about, and no elections that he risks losing. Putin has been around for almost two decades, a long time in geopolitics, with “very consistent leadership, a consistent message,” Salem said. 
“He says what he does, he does what he says.”







A war of words has broken out between the governments of Japan and North Korea, with Japan throwing its weight behind American policies of sanctions and military force while North Korea threatens to unleash their nuclear arsenal on the Land of the Rising Sun.


Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged the nations of the world to block Pyongyang's access to any "goods, funds, people and technology" that could assist the North Korean missile program.

"We must make North Korea abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. What is needed to do that is not dialogue, but pressure," said Abe, stressing a hardline approach of sanctions over diplomacy.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the North Korean state media outlet, decried Abe's comments, writing that "such racket" would nothing except incite tension and, ultimately, prove a "suicidal deed that will bring nuclear clouds to the Japanese archipelago."

"No one knows when the touch-and-go situation will lead to a nuclear war, but if so, the Japanese archipelago will be engulfed in flames in a moment. This is too self-evident," KCNA added.

In response to the North's threats, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera threw his weight behind the similarly provocative comments of US president Donald Trump. "As part of putting pressure on North Korea, we welcome President Trump's strong language," Ondera told the Financial Times.






The American empire is coming to an end. The U.S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U.S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. 

Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too.

The empire will limp along, steadily losing influence until the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, plunging the United States into a crippling depression and instantly forcing a massive contraction of its military machine.

Short of a sudden and widespread popular revolt, which does not seem likely, the death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two. 

The global vacuum we leave behind will be filled by China, already establishing itself as an economic and military juggernaut, or perhaps there will be a multipolar world carved up among Russia, China, India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and a few other states. Or maybe the void will be filled, as the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,” by “a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral military forces like NATO, and an international financial leadership self-selected at Davos and Bilderberg” that will “forge a supranational nexus to supersede any nation or empire.”

Under every measurement, from financial growth and infrastructure investment to advanced technology, including supercomputers, space weaponry and cyberwarfare, we are being rapidly overtaken by the Chinese. “In April 2015 the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested that the American economy would grow by nearly 50 percent over the next 15 years, while China’s would triple and come close to surpassing America’s in 2030,” McCoy noted. 

Empires in decay embrace an almost willful suicide. Blinded by their hubris and unable to face the reality of their diminishing power, they retreat into a fantasy world where hard and unpleasant facts no longer intrude. They replace diplomacy, multilateralism and politics with unilateral threats and the blunt instrument of war.

Many of the estimated 69 empires that have existed throughout history lacked competent leadership in their decline, having ceded power to monstrosities such as the Roman emperors Caligula and Nero. In the United States, the reins of authority may be in the grasp of the first in a line of depraved demagogues.
“For the majority of Americans, the 2020s will likely be remembered as a demoralizing decade of rising prices, stagnant wages, and fading international competitiveness,” McCoy writes. The loss of the dollar as the global reserve currency will see the U.S. unable to pay for its huge deficits by selling Treasury bonds, which will be drastically devalued at that point. There will be a massive rise in the cost of imports. Unemployment will explode. Domestic clashes over what McCoy calls “insubstantial issues” will fuel a dangerous hypernationalism that could morph into an American fascism.
A discredited elite, suspicious and even paranoid in an age of decline, will see enemies everywhere. The array of instruments created for global dominance—wholesale surveillance, the evisceration of civil liberties, sophisticated torture techniques, militarized police, the massive prison system, the thousands of militarized drones and satellites—will be employed in the homeland. The empire will collapse and the nation will consume itself within our lifetimes if we do not wrest power from those who rule the corporate state.


























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