In the 1st part of this two-part series, we discussed some of the problems in U.S.-Russia relations, including the alleged hacking of the U.S. election and the invasion of Crimea. It was pointed out that there is no concrete evidence of Russian hacking; that the U.S. staged a coup in Ukraine; and that Russia can never cede control of Crimea or the Black Sea. This article moves to the bigger picture of geopolitics and the struggle for regional as well as global domination, with focus on Eurasia, specifically Russia and China.
Some readers viewed the first article as too pro-Putin and even a bit anti-American. What do you say to that?
Is Putin a wonderful, noble person? Of course not.
However, moralistic considerations are not the basis for U.S. (or any country’s) foreign policies. International relations can be mutually beneficial, predatory, Machiavellian or even evil. Foreign policies also have an enormous impact on our economy and national security. We don’t have to let the mainstream media or the politicians dictate to us what policy we should support or who we should hate.
There is so much anti-Russia fervor in the air now. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S.-Russia relationship was pretty good for a while, right? What happened?
In 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, entire Russia was put in the hands of Wall Street and the IMF. After all, communism had failed and it was time to embrace capitalism! These experts were supposed to create miracles using principles of free market and privatization that would make everyone prosperous.
In reality, Privatization became Piratization.
It was a replay of the shock doctrine that Milton Friedman and his Chicago Boys inflicted upon Chile in the 1970s. (A slightly different version of the same playbook has been used on Greece since 2009.)
In Russia, it was the Harvard Mafia that destroyed the economy by divvying up Russia’s natural resources and state corporations among a handful of oligarchs who, in turn, sold a chunk of the ownership to western elites for pennies on the dollar. The IMF gave generous loans to Russia, most of which went into the pockets of the oligarchs and Wall Street shysters. When the economy faltered – surprise! – Wall Street punished Russia by devaluing the Ruble and creating hyperinflation that decimated the economy and the savings of old people.
Russia’s leadership, including the two-term President, Boris Yeltsin, was handpicked by America’s elites. Below are 1. Headlines from U.S. media that boast how the U.S. helped Yeltsin win the Presidency and 2. Bill Clinton’s conversation with Tony Blair that shows how the U.S. controlled the Russian parliament and could choose the Prime Minister.
Under the American guidance, thousands of Russian factories were simply shut down. Russia’s GDP fell by 50% in 6 years and its military was in tatters. What no communist could achieve … the brightest minds of Wall Street had accomplished.
In 1998, Russia defaulted on its debt, inflation hit 80% and millions of workers didn’t get paid for months. To solve this, the IMF prescribed more nonsensical and cruel advice: slash government spending, layoff more workers and raise taxes. This neoliberal “solution” only lead to more misery for most Russians.
The bleak 1998 was also the year when Vladimir Putin became the head of FSB – Russia’s intelligence agency. Next year, he was handpicked by Boris Yeltsin to become the Prime Minister of Russia. Few months later, on Dec 31, 1999, Yeltsin resigned abruptly and made Putin the acting President.
Putin had seen what happened when you trusted the reputable economists, banksters and vulture capitalists from the West. He fought the (traitorous) Russian oligarchs and sent them to prisons, one by one. The lucky ones such as Boris Berezovsky fled the country.
Under Putin, Russia’s nominal GDP grew 1000% between 2000 and 2013, and Russia became militarily strong again as well. Putin outsmarted the globalists in every turn in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria. He has kept the debt level low (debt-to-GDP is now at 18%, a number that the U.S. hasn’t seen in over hundred years) and has been able to survive the sanctions, the fall in prices of oil and the attack on the Ruble. That’s why even when only 45% of Russians think that the country is headed in the right direction, Putin’s personal approval rate is 82%.
Shifting to the bigger picture, what is geopolitics and what is Eurasia?
Although there is no one simple definition of geopolitics, it generally refers to the dynamics between politics (foreign policy, military strategy) and geography (territorial land/water, natural resources). It provides a framework to understand how and why nations behave.
Eurasia refers to the combined land mass of Europe and Asia. It’s the biggest economic market that represents 70% of world population, 70% of world’s GDP and 75% of world’s natural resources. It includes Russia, China, India, Middle East and Europe.
Many people don’t realize that Russia is the largest country in the world and is more than twice the size of the contiguous U.S. Russia also has 30% of world’s natural resources.
Experts in geopolitics have said over a hundred years that to rule the world, you must rule Eurasia; to rule Eurasia, you must rule Eurasia’s heartland – which includes Eastern Europe and Russia. This is not just an academic term – for example, the Council on Foreign Relations, which essentially determines the U.S. foreign policy, spends a lot of time discussing Eurasia (here is an example).
If you understand this, you can see how Russia has to see the U.S.-Europe alliance as a threat and not the other way around. Even looking at the history for the past 200 years or so, it has always been the outsiders who have invaded/attacked Russia – Britain, France (Napoleon), Germany (WWI and WWII) and Japan (1904, 1920). And it’s now the U.S. and NATO surrounding Russia.
Does geography really play a big role these days?
Absolutely, even if geography is relatively less important than, say, in the 19th century. For example, 90% of world’s trade still happens by maritime transport – by sea, using big tanker ships. This means that countries have vital interests in maintaining and protecting the trade routes.
So when you see headlines about China’s “aggressive” actions of building islands in South China Sea, you can view it through the lens of geopolitics and see that they are trying to secure their trade routes. After all, 40% of China’s imported oil has to travel through this region, which also accounts for transportation of half of all world’s merchant fleet. Disrupt this path, you disrupt China’s entire economy.
Similarly, consider that the Suez Canal accounts for almost 10% of world trade. Then look at the map and see which countries in that area have the potential to stop or disrupt the traffic of ships. The two big ones are Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But the three smaller ones – Somalia, Eritrea and Yemen – and a real tiny one, Djibouti, present potential chokepoints as well.
Knowing that, you can view and understand the news and some of the local events with a different perspective. What are the U.S. Navy Seals doing in Yemen, which is also being bombed by Saudi Arabia? Why are there so many Somali refugees in the U.S. and Europe? Why does the U.S. give so much foreign aid to Egypt?
For a fun historical perspective, America was discovered only because of blocked trade routes! By the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire had control over Egypt and the Red Sea, which meant that Europe couldn’t easily trade with India and China. Hence the voyage of Christopher Columbus to find a different route to India!
That also explains Russia’s interest in controlling Black Sea and Crimea. However, geography is not just sea routes, right?
Right. There are obvious considerations such as natural resources – oil, minerals, ores, water etc. Ukraine, for example, has one of the most fertile agricultural land in the world. Countries either want to own lands that are rich in natural resources or, at least, have friendly rulers in such nations who will provide access to these commodities – either sell them or give permission to exploit them.
If you look at China, they are recreating One Belt One Road – v2.0 of Silk Road that made China great many centuries ago. Just last month, they launched a freight train linking Beijing to London; last year, it was a train that connected China to Spain. Geopolitics here means China having good relationship with all the countries in the heartland of Eurasia.
For this to work, China obviously needs friendly countries that will allow transportation of goods. So, avoiding hostile neighbors is also a big consideration in geopolitics, right?
No doubt. A friendly country, especially a neighboring one means better trade and security. Having hostile neighbors with arms and missiles is the worst nightmare of any nation. Every country tries to have a sphere of influence. During the Cold War, the U.S. demanded that the entire Americas be pro-USA. Even during Obama’s years, the U.S. engineered coups in Honduras and Brazil to bring in friendlier leaders.
The Atlantic Alliance (U.S. + Europe) has repeatedly used the concept of “hostile neighbors” to keep various powers in check. When the British got kicked out of India, they created an “anti-India” in Pakistan; the U.S. helped create Taiwan to counter China; the borders of various Middle Eastern countries were drawn by the French and the British to ensure that everyone will have an enemy around and within them so that no one country will become too strong or independent. Even now, the U.S. sheds crocodile tears for Tibet and Myanmar (a.k.a. Burma) which border China and thus are ideal to stir problems. You will also find articles in western media that are sympathetic towards Muslim separatists in Xinjian, the western province in China.
You can see this policy applied towards Russia as well. After promising Gorbachev that NATO would not expand post-USSR, the west did the opposite. More than a dozen countries have been added to NATO since 1992; many countries bordering Russia now have NATO forces, missile shields etc. American forces are in Norway for the first time since World War II and huge military drills are being conducted along the Russian border. With the coup in Ukraine, Russia now faces a lot of hostile neighbors!
You said earlier that, in a broader sense, geopolitics is more than geography and sometimes is Machiavellian or even evil. What are those other scenarios?
Ideally, geopolitical decisions, especially wars, sanctions or any hostility should be made only to help America as a nation. However, the policies are often crafted to help special interests or a small group of elites.
Take export and sale of weapons. The profit motive is so strong that we sell tens of billions of dollars of deadly weapons, fighter jets and arms to authoritarian and ruthless regimes such as Saudi Arabia. The primary beneficiaries in the U.S. are weapons manufacturers who also lobby/bribe politicians through campaign funding and lucrative jobs. In rare cases such as Hillary Clinton, the buyers and sellers of weapons donated insane amount of money to the Clinton Foundation to get approvals. How such arms sales would affect us or the world, especially in the long run, is not given a serious consideration.
Any war or hostility is great for military contractors. Tension with Russia, for example, is just awesome, since it means huge deployments, military drills, missile shields worth billions of dollars, trillion-dollar fighter jets, massive increase in NATO budget and all kinds of new military and security projects.
The enormous size of the U.S. defense budget and built-in secrecy also mean that there are several black budget operations which can lead to immense fraud. Look at these examples: $45 billion sent to Afghanistan cannot be accounted for; $6 billion of spending by the State Department during Clinton years cannot be accounted for; and $6 trillion of spending by the Pentagon over the years won’t pass the audit.
Some wars are created just to benefit a handful of elites. For example, Libya had more than 140 tons of gold and about half of it has disappeared after the war. And who knows what happened to Gaddafi’s billions in Swiss bank accounts? Thus the spoils of war sometimes don’t benefit America or even corporations, but rather a handful of people in the so-called Deep State.
The “civil war” in Syria was mostly about oil pipelines to connect Qatar and Saudi Arabia to Europe. Wars in Africa are all about struggle for natural resources. These are situations when a single entity or a handful of corporations can cause enormous devastation.
Next to wars, sanctions can be very profitable for well-connected elites. During the sanctions against Iran, Marc Rich – a friend of the Clintons – made enormous profits by helping Iran sell its oil. U.S. corporations such as Halliburton – hello, Dick Cheney – also profited by trading with Iran through their subsidiaries in Europe.
Then there are various topics that most people will find incredible and shocking – truly immoral but profitable enterprises that invariably follow wars. These would include drug trafficking (cocaine, heroine etc.), sex trafficking, child trafficking, testing of vaccines and biological weapons, and even organ harvesting (Syria, as an example). There is an investigative journalist named George Webb who has over hundred short YouTube videos on these topics.
While the profit motives for perpetual wars are clear, why can’t Russia behave like the European countries and be our ally?
Europe is controlled by the same banking/corporate system as the U.S. and it’s been that way since World War II. The Federal Reserve bank and the European Central Bank are just two branches of the same system. For example, after the 2008 financial crisis, the U.S. Fed bailed out several European banks. (On a side note, Japan and south Korea are also essentially vassal states of the this system).
When it comes to corporations, western elites own shares and have control across the Atlantic. Thus, for example, when an Italian billionaire bought Walgreens, no feather got ruffled.
The intelligence and military-industrial complex are also integrated between the U.S. and Europe. Thanks to attacks by Islamic terrorists in Europe, this integration is accelerated. This is why when there are revelations about the NSA spying on Angela Merkel or the French Presidential candidates, there are no repercussions.
All of this is reflected in the corporate media in Europe and the U.S. –
when it comes to vital issues such as economy, immigration, foreign policy, social policies etc., you will find that the major media outlets across the pond sing from the same hymn sheet.
As for Russia, it wants to be independent – at least, Putin and his supporters. There are, although, Russians who would gladly align with the U.S.-Europe system even if it means that Russia would essentially become a serf state.
So, unlike Europe, Russia wants to have its own system of banking, corporate and media?
At least as much as possible. No country can fully free itself from the Euro-American financial system. However, Russia and China are trying to free themselves one step at a time – an attempt at “de-dollarization.”
For example, Russia introduced Mir, an alternative to Visa/MasterCard system. China has also developed CIPS, an alternative to SWIFT – the de facto world standard for transferring money. These two efforts are unprecedented challenges to the new world order of the financial system.
(When a country misbehaves, one of the tools in the western arsenal is a financial sanction that prevents that country from using SWIFT and/or the Visa-MasterCard network. Also, these systems allow the elites to snoop and keep track of much of the transactions around the world.)
Russian banks are also not plugged into the U.S.-Europe banking system, which meant they were unaffected by the 2008 financial crisis that is still roiling Europe.
China is even pursuing bigger dreams such as making Yuan a global currency. Many countries, including Russia, can now use Yuan, rather than dollar, while trading with China.
The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have started their own bank to compete with the World Bank and IMF. Finally, Russia and China have also been buying enormous amounts of gold and reducing their portfolio of U.S. treasuries.
To summarize: Russia, under Putin, has pursued its own independent foreign policy and media, financial freedom from the western banking and petro-dollar, and the option to reject corporatist concepts such as GMO, vaccine treadmill, Big Pharma etc.
In 1992, the U.S. was the sole Superpower or, in other words, the hyperpower. What happened in the last 25 years?
The globalists have made a series of huge mistakes since 1992 which squandered America’s extraordinary position and power.
One: in the 1990s, the elites thought they had neutralized Russia and turned it into a vassal state. With the complete control over Russian economy and politics, they never envisioned a successful nationalist like Putin. Globalists also thought sanctions could isolate and subjugate Russia if it misbehaved, but things haven’t worked out as planned so far.
Two: geopolitical wizards in Washington never imagined China would grow so rapidly. Even brilliant people such as Brzezinski asserted that China will only be a regional power. They thought China will just be a source of cheap labor, with millions toiling for Walmart products. Today, China’s GDP (in purchasing power – PPP) is larger than that of America; and China’s industrial, technological and financial prowess are impressive. Aligned with Russia, China will be a formidable global power in this century.
Three: thanks to Neocons, we invaded Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya; and waged proxy wars in Sudan, Yemen and Syria. This has resulted in trillions of dollars wasted and plenty of enemies made. The elites have made an unholy alliance with radical Islam to wage proxy wars around the world – Middle East, Africa and Asia. Bin Laden and Mujahedeen in Afghanistan were not the exception. In Libya and Syria, Islamic terrorists were just labeled as “moderate rebels.” In a leaked audio, John Kerry talks about how the Obama administration sought to use ISIS as a leverage to force the Syrian government into negotiation. A 1986 declassified CIA document clearly describes Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism and is worth reading.
In the battle for Eurasia, the U.S. might be tempted to use Islamic terrorists to disrupt China’s Silk Road, cause instability in pro-Russian countries and so on. Just a couple of days ago, ISIS threatened China with an Islamic uprising in Xinjian, the western province of China. In Africa, groups such as Boko Haram (in Nigeria) and Al Shabaab (in Somalia) are considered by many to be CIA’s paramilitary operations. Whether we disavow such tactics in the future remains to be seen.
Four: the globalists really thought that they could create a supra-nation of EU, followed by an EU army which will come handy in the conquest of Eurasia. However, their greed and unfettered neoliberalism have destroyed countries like Greece and plunged most EU nations into unsustainable debt and financial instability. Open borders and forced immigration from the Middle East and Africa are also creating a lot of social tension and chaos. The backlash is severe and anti-EU candidates are popping up everywhere in Europe – France’s Marine Le Pen and Netherlands’ Geert Wilders being two notable examples.
Five: the elites were quite convinced they could control everyone by spying on them through the internet. If they could listen in on every political and corporate leader around the world, they could rule the world. However, their plans did not foresee Edward Snowden and Julian Assange who exposed the Wizard of Oz. WikiLeaks also revealed that the mainstream media is fake and the political establishment is rigged. The Establishment is now cracking down on social media, with Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube wildly censoring people and topics. However, this is only a sign of the weakness of the system.
Where do we go from here?
The biggest question is whether the U.S. is willing to live in a multipolar world, coexisting with Russia and China. These two countries have become very good partners and know that their survival depends on their alliance.
Many other geopolitically important allies such as Turkey and the Philippines are increasingly turning away from the U.S.-Europe coalition. Others such as Japan, Vietnam, India and Brazil see the writing on the wall and maintain good relations with Russia.
The banksters have plunged America and Europe into enormous debt, have kept the economy alive with GMO-finance and artificially low (or even negative) interest rates, and have used neoliberal policies to crush the poor and the middle class. Will the western elites focus on fixing the problems at home or distract the public with more chaos and wars?
A lot has been covered in this two-part series including unproven allegations of Russia hacking the U.S. election, Ukrainian coup staged by the Neocons, history of Crimea, Russia’s national interests in Black Sea and Crimea, overview of geopolitics and Eurasia, shock therapy of neoliberalism in Russia after the collapse of USSR, reasons why Russia is not like Europe, motives behind perpetual wars, and finally the development of a multipolar World Order. Being patriotic Americans means understanding world affairs through a prism of objectivity, rejecting militaristic propaganda from the Establishment, and demanding sensible policies from our leaders that promote peace and security for the U.S. and the world.