Wednesday 24th of April 2024

the empire defeats itself, with a bit of help....

American elites are starting to concede that the world is rebelling against the US, and Washington has nobody to blame but itself

A former White House official has acknowledged the reality of growing resistance to the country's imperialism



by Daniel Kovalik

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and is author of the recently-released book Nicaragua: A History of US Intervention & Resistance.


In an interesting recent speech in Tallinn, Estonia, former White House official Fiona Hill showed that at least someone in Washington has enough self awareness to see what's happening in the world. 

Hill acknowledged that the conflict in Ukraine has sparked a global “proxy rebellion,” led by Russia, against American hegemony. This is quite true, as many of us could see from the very start of Moscow’s military offensive, in the spring of last year. But this kickback has been a long-time coming, and the US has brought it upon itself through its own deeds.

First of all, it must be pointed out that the Soviet Union, modern Russia’s predecessor, led a rebellion against American hegemony throughout much of its history. Especially during the Cold War, Moscow's support was critical for Third World countries striving to overturn centuries of Western colonialism in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The US took it upon itself to forcefully defend this colonial system. Indeed, the Cold War was really a giant proxy war between the US and Soviet Union over colonialism, with the US fighting to maintain this system and the Soviet Union fighting to dismantle it. Much of the world’s population continues to be grateful for the help they received from the Soviets in breaking their colonial chains.

The Russian Federation recently acknowledged all of this in its foreign policy statement of March 31, 2023, in which it stated that the Soviet Union’s chief foreign policy achievements were the defeat of Nazism during the Second World War and its part in the successful decolonization of the world. Modern-day Russia states that, as the “legal successor” to the USSR, it continues to pursue these goals. It is my observation, after just returning from Russia and the May 9 Victory Day celebrations, that the Russian people continue to cherish these accomplishments of the Soviet Union, with the hammer and sickle red flag ubiquitous in every city I visited from St. Petersburg to Yalta.

Meanwhile, after the Eastern Bloc collapsed in 1989 and the Soviet Union fell in 1991, the US saw the opportunity to reassert Western dominance of the world largely unchecked.  While the US referred to its goal as Pax Americana,its methods had little to do with peace and everything to do with war. Thus, Washington wasted no time in invading and attacking other countries from Panama (1989), to Iraq (1990), Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq again (2003) and Libya (2011).  This does not even count the smaller invasions and many proxy and terror wars waged by the US during this time, such as Syria, beginning in 2011, and in Ukraine with the coup it helped instigate in 2014.   

Russia and the rest of the world, unable to counter the superior US military might, largely sat back and took this. But anger and resentment grew, for none of these wars were necessary or just. They were wars of choice, which the US waged to protect what it saw as its economic and geopolitical interests, all the while dressing up its actions as “humanitarian.” As a rule they claimed these interventions as necessary to protect the target country’s population from an “oppressive,” “brutal” or “dictatorial” regime. While Americans largely bought into such justifications, the rest of the world grimaced at the patent absurdity. 

In 2015, the Russian bear started to awaken once more, intervening in Syria to beat back the brutal terrorist war against that country, which the US actively instigated and supported.

While the US tries to claim that the whole world stands with it in opposing Russia’s actions, in Ukraine, this is simply not true, and US officials know it. “The world” supports the US only if one excludes Latin America, Asia and Africa. These regions, home to most of the planet’s population, did not and do not support the Americans. Many countries in these regions are weary of the US intervening in their backyards at will in the form of aggressive wars, coups d’etat and the support of armed insurgents, and they were happy to see that someone – namely Russia – was finally fighting back. Meanwhile, even Saudi Arabia, a long-time ally and co-conspirator of the US in its imperial machinations, has broken ranks with the US by refusing to boost oil supplies. It has additionally begun engaging with Iran, demonstrating that the world is getting fed up with Washington’s meddling.

The US government pretends it doesn’t see this, and much of the American public really doesn’t, demonstrating the pervasiveness of propaganda and its ability to drown out and obfuscate reality. This again brings to mind playwright Harold Pinter’s 2005 Nobel Prize speech in which he scolded the US imperium, which “supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War,” leading to “hundreds of thousands of deaths.” But thanks to the power of propaganda, “it never happened,” Pinter said. “Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. America has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good,” something Pinter describes as a “highly successful act of hypnosis.” 

It is high time that the American people awaken to the crimes their country has committed, and to the fact that the rest of the world is painfully aware of them and is rebelling accordingly. After acknowledging this, Americans could finally start to hold their government accountable for its actions and demand that it stop antagonizing the world through unprovoked violence, and instead try to engage with other nations as equals in addressing the world’s pressing problems of poverty, illness and environmental degradation. It is the only course of action that can save humanity.






no easy path.....

China's commerce minister met with US commerce secretary and US trade representative in the US on Thursday and Friday respectively and held "candid" talks in a move that Chinese analysts said could be a prelude to further high-level engagement between the world's two largest economies and could pave the way for China-US trade and economic ties to play more of a ballast role to help improve frayed bilateral relations.

However, the resumption of high-level interactions comes with Washington's provocations and attempts to crack down on China in many fields, prompting calls for the US to adjust to a rational, realistic perception of China and to respect China's stance and bottom line.

China's Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao met with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in Washington on Thursday before attending the 2023 APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Detroit. The two sides had "candid, professional and constructive exchanges" of views on China-US economic and trade relations as well as issues of common concern, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a statement on its website on Friday morning.

The Chinese side expressed key concerns on the US' economic and trade policies toward China, on semiconductors and export controls, as well as its outbound investment reviews, according to MOFCOM.

Wang also met with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Friday and the two had "candid, pragmatic and in-depth exchanges" of views on China-US economic and trade relations as well as regional and multilateral issues of common concern, according to MOFCOM. 

The Chinese side expressed concerns regarding key issues, including the US economic and trade policies toward China, Taiwan-related topics in the economic and trade domain, the Indo-Pacific economic framework and Section 301 tariffs. Both parties agreed to maintain communication.

The meetings between the Chinese commerce minister and US commerce secretary and trade representative, along with the recent resumption of high-level engagements between Beijing and Washington, are one of the most important meetings between the two countries after the US shot down an unmanned Chinese civilian airship and hyped the "China threat", which drove China-US relations to a new low. It also happened after China's top diplomat Wang Yi and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met in Vienna and held "candid, in-depth, substantive and constructive" talks for more than 10 hours on May 10 and May 11.  

"China and the US have been maintaining the necessary communication, but the key is that the US cannot engage in communication and cooperation with China while continuing to hurt China's interests," Mao Ning, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said on Friday, noting that the US should meet China halfway to bring China-US relations back to the right track of sound and steady growth.

Significant meeting

Chinese experts said the Thursday meeting is of major importance, as it takes one step further the pledge by the leaders of the two countries from last year's Bali meeting to manage differences and disagreements and prevent confrontation and conflict.

It is believed that the meeting could help create an environment to solve, mitigate and manage differences in areas linked to trade and economic issues, the ballast of China-US relations, analysts said, holding the belief that such engagement could be a barometer of how much the two sides are heading toward the further restoration of high-level exchanges after months of recrimination.  

The US' crackdown and containment of China in the field of advanced technology must stop and "The concerns raised by Minister Wang are clear, detailed and to the point," He Weiwen, a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Friday.

The fact that the two ministers met for the first time since the pandemic in person in Washington showed that the working-level communications between the two sides have borne fruit, Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times Friday.

According to MOFCOM, China and the US agreed to set up communication channels to maintain and strengthen exchanges on specific economic and trade issues in addition to areas of cooperation, meaning "some new channels could be set up for issues that cannot be solved by existing ones," Gao anticipated.

A readout from the US Department of Commerce said the discussions were "candid and substantive" and that the meeting was "part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the relationship."

Chinese experts said that the core issues hindering China-US trade and economic ties at the moment are tariffs and the US crackdown on Chinese companies.

The US side has come to realize that bilateral trade grew despite the trade war and that trade with China has win-win results, experts said, noting that the meetings between the Chinese commerce minister and Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai could lead to trade ties playing an expanded ballast role in bilateral relations.

Experts said the Chinese side is making sincere efforts to improve bilateral ties. 

China's new ambassador to the US, Xie Feng, who arrived at his post this week, said on his Twitter account that his mission is to enhance China-US exchanges and cooperation, and he looks forward to working with his American colleagues in the future.

Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen on Friday met with Colm Rafferty, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, and representatives from some American companies to exchange views on bilateral trade and economic relations, US companies' operations in China and China's business environment. 

However, Chinese experts also warned against being overly optimistic about these meetings, despite the positive signals that came from them. 

According to the US readout, Raimondo raised concerns about the recent spate of Chinese actions against US companies operating in China.

Chinese experts noted that legal action taken against some US consultancy firms and the cybersecurity review by relevant Chinese authorities on Micron's products sold in China have been carried out in accordance with the law and are based on facts. They should not be confused with or compared to the US' broad crackdown on Chinese companies under the pretext of national security.
The US has used national security as a pretext to put more than 1,200 Chinese companies and individuals on various lists and subjected them to all kinds of restrictions despite the lack of hard evidence of wrongdoing, spokesperson Mao Ning said at Wednesday's routine press briefing, noting that such moves constitute economic coercion and are unacceptable.

Mao on Friday also called on all parties to jointly oppose the US' economic coercion and bullying practices and safeguard the multilateral trading system following the US' grouping of its allies to contain China.

No easy path

Despite the resumption of high-level interactions between China and the US in the economic and trade fields, Washington has not reined in its provocations and attempts to crack down on China in many fields. 
The US played a major role in hyping China-related topics at the just concluded Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima. The communiqué and other documents adopted at the summit smeared China and brazenly interfered in China's internal affairs.

Arms sales to the island of Taiwan continue as Taiwan media said the US $500 million sale through the Presidential Drawdown Authority had recently begun, and that FIM-92 Stinger missiles arrived at Taoyuan Airport on Thursday.

A bipartisan House committee on Wednesday adopted two reports recommending that Congress take action over China's Taiwan island and the Xinjiang region. The committee will focus on human rights before shifting to military and economic concerns, media reported. 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Friday that the US wanted to engage with China on economic and trade issues due to its own needs, but will not abandon containment in other fields. 

The US still upholds the old method of dealing with China based on strength - ordering China to cooperate according to US needs and creating problems to maximize its bargaining chips, while not respecting China's stance and bottom line, Li said.
The US' hegemonic mentality and paradoxical behavioral pattern are the crux of the difficulties in China-US relations, said Li, who urged the US to adjust to a healthy, rational and realistic perception of China's development, recognize that China's growing influence will not constitute a "threat," and handle China-US relations based on equality and mutual benefit, not hegemony and a new cold war. 

Analysts acknowledge that due to the US' imbalance in its mentality and policy, fierce competition and confrontation will not disappear and China-US relations will continue to be very complex with interests and conflicts intertwined.

As two major powers in the world, the most likely scenario would be to engage in certain areas of common interests while being cautious in managing differences and avoiding conflicts, Li said.







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default hypocrisy......


BY Leon E. Panetta


With a new era of geopolitical competition underway with China and the anniversary of a major land war for freedom in Ukraine, nations around the world are turning to the United States to exercise strong and decisive world leadership.
The key to that leadership is credibility in our military power, our diplomatic engagement and our economic stability. Our word must be trusted if our national security is to be protected. The United States is facing more threats in the world than we have had since World War II. Alliances are critical to our ability to preserve peace and prosperity in the 21st century.
As former secretaries of defense, we have had the opportunity to engage with both allies and adversaries. Our word is our greatest weapon with both. If our word cannot be trusted, it will weaken our relationship with allies and empower our adversaries.
The “full faith and credit” of the United States not only underpins our global financial order, but it also constitutes our word in the most literal sense. The consequence of debt-ceiling brinksmanship is a dangerous self-inflected wound that tells both our friends and our enemies that we cannot be trusted. Such brinksmanship weakens our national security.
One year ago, as Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, the world rallied together behind U.S. leadership to impose unprecedented sanctions on Moscow, provide critical weapons, training and ammunition to Ukrainian forces, and reinforce our commitment to NATO countries.
All of that is predicated on U.S. global economic leadership and credibility. Our unified actions sent an unmistakable message of strength, not just to Putin but to every other adversary in the world.
As Putin escalates this conflict in a futile effort to break the will of the Ukrainian people, the United States and our allies, he will be watching to measure the credibility of U.S. economic power. To default on our financial obligations at this time would both undermine our own power and encourage Putin to continue his futile war on democracy.
Other tyrants would be encouraged as well. In particular, a default would cripple our strength in the signature competitive dynamic of the 21st century — our competition with China. We compete on technology across the spectrum — from microchips to supercomputers to hypersonic weapons. Yet we have significantly different economic models. The autocratic model of Chinese President Xi Jinping uses state control and centralized planning to advance authoritarian policies and deepen the civil-military fusion that is turning China into a peer rival in the Western Pacific. A debt default would be an unforced economic error for the United States in the face of these growing tensions. It would hand Xi the argument he needs to attack the strength and credibility of the U.S. free enterprise system.
The restoration of U.S. world leadership is taking place at a critical time in the 21st century in the competition between democracy and autocracy. So much of that progress would be undermined by an unnecessary debt default. We have never defaulted before in our history. Not only would default seriously damage America’s economic credibility; it would also weaken our nation’s security by interfering with our ability to pay our troops and maintain military readiness.
Bipartisan commitments to the national security needs of friends and allies would be impacted. Critical weapons and support to Ukraine would be thrown into doubt. Funding for essential civilian and defense modernization efforts would be undermined. The U.S. has never defaulted before, so there is much we do not know about the tragic consequences.
A decade ago, we faced a similar crisis. Defense leaders warned of the consequences — and Congress did the right thing. Today we need similar courage and similar foresight. While we deeply appreciate the need to restore fiscal discipline to the federal budget, it makes little sense to create even greater fiscal chaos by defaulting on the nation’s “full faith and credit.”
A debt ceiling solution does not add a single dollar to the U.S. deficit. It simply says that we stand by our word and that our economy will remain stable and strong. Our adversaries are watching to see how unstable our democracy may be. Our friends are concerned because they too could be vulnerable to the same enemies.
This is about protecting our national security. It is the oath we all take on assuming public office. Republicans and Democrats in the Congress have a responsibility to put country ahead of party. Congress needs to act without delay to raise the debt limit to protect our credibility, our word and our leadership in the world.
Leon E. Panetta served as the 23rd U.S. secretary of defense. Chuck Hagel served as the 24th U.S. secretary of defense.










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