Monday 24th of June 2024

the end of "globalisation by the empire" and the beginning of cooperation and self-determination.....

The USA and NATO have imposed total sanctions on Russia in order to destroy its economy and to end the economic traffic of NATO countries with Russia.

  These sanctions do not only affect German companies prohibited from doing further business in their branches in Russia. Many German corporations have had to close their branches in Russia – whether they will ever reopen depends on the duration of the sanctions, so it is likely to be doubtful.

The end of global ownership and trust

by Professor Dr Eberhard Hamer, Mittelstandsinstitut Niedersachsen e.V.


Like us Germans, however, the rest of Europe is also practically forbidden to do business with Russia. In this way, the whole of Europe is to be cut off from Russia in accordance with the founding principle of NATO, “To keep the Russians out”. Economically, an iron curtain has been drawn and we have started not only a cold war, but a hot economic war.
  This is shown above all by the financial boycotts and the gas and oil boycotts against Russia.
  The exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT settlement system and the prohibition of all banks from still having business relations with Russian banks is unique in economic history, but had to be expected for a long time, since Russia started a competing settlement system to SWIFT with China, namely CIPS. The Russians apparently saw the boycott coming and sold most of their dollars. The Chinese are now in the process of getting rid of their dollars as well, but they can only do so to a limited extent, because massive dollar ditching would lead to a collapse of the dollar exchange rate and thus devalue Chinese assets as well.
  Besides China and Russia, more than 20 countries have already joined the new CIPS settlement system, so what the US intended as a fiscal death blow to the rouble and to Russia could boomerang, if the world favours a second, gold-based settlement system and opts out of the fiat money dollar, which is no longer backed by value. This could lead to the end not only of dollar settlement, but also of the dollar imperium. The US has so far been able to pay for everything in the world with its freshly printed money that has no cover at all and to increase its prosperity in exchange for “fiat money”. If this were no longer possible, if the countries of the world no longer accepted worthless dollars, the USA would no longer be able to buy all the world’s goods with them, to pay for 900 billion dollars in military expenditure and to cover its financial deficits. In this respect, the financial boycott against Russia and a counter-reaction by the world could result in the collapse of the dollar empire.
  This in turn means for the German economy that investments in dollars lose their security, become unsafe. If the people of the world reckon with the crash of the dollar, which has been hollowed out because it has been increased without restraint, they will flee from the dollar. And if the dollar crashes, other currencies – yuan, euro, etc. – will be sought in its place, not only as units of account but also as new investment currencies.

Economic war
of the USA against Russia

The US gas and oil war against Russia had already begun before the Ukraine war. US President Trump did everything possible to stop the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline because the USA wanted to get rid of its environmentally harmful and twice as expensive fracking gas in Europe. The USA therefore furiously fought the cheaper Russian competition. Together with the EU and the Greens they have now finally torpedoed Russian gas and oil supplies to Germany, even though Germany lately relied on Russian gas for more than half of its energy consumption. “Better be cold than buy Russian gas,” advised German Foreign Minister Baerbock (not applying to herself, but to us). Since Europe’s USA ordered gas freeze against Russia took effect, people have had to pay luxury prices for heat, and for companies, energy prices are also rising so sharply that energy costs alone are dragging more and more companies into the red, that hundreds of thousands of companies are having to give up and lay off their workers; they no longer pay taxes and social security contributions and the recession that has already begun is gaining additional downturn momentum.
  All this is now being justified with Russian war-mongering malice, although it started years before. People in Europe are now programmed by US propaganda with such hatred “against Putin” and against Russia that they accept their own economic damage wreaked by the Ukraine policy and its conductors – and will do so until they themselves feel the consequences first hand.


Expropriations detrimental to Russia

Hardly mentioned in the mainstream press is the fact that in their war against Russia, the USA and the EU are also confiscating the assets of Russian citizens and even tracing them all over the world wherever their secret services can track them down. This applies not only to tangible assets and companies, but also to financial assets. It also unfortunately effectuated not only by the USA, but even by its NATO satellites, which also have to participate in these worldwide expropriations under pressure from the USA.
  This global wave of expropriation against Russia and Russians, started by the USA, not only destroys confidence in worldwide investments and capital investments, but also torpedoes globalisation in general.
  The basis of business and investment abroad was namely the trust that assets invested abroad and company investments made there would remain with the investor in the long term. If companies and investors now have to reckon with the US example of arbitrary expropriation of “enemy assets” being followed by its satellites, this will be the end of all confidence in international investment.
  But if world trade collapses due to a loss of confidence, if export surpluses as well as exporting countries collapse – above all Germany –, we will lose not only our foreign investments, but also the returns on these foreign investments as well as our export surpluses. In a few years we could have export deficits instead, in any case the prosperity based on exports so far (about one third) will collapse when globalisation dissolves.


Risk of the abolished property guarantee

The Mittelstandsinstitut has therefore warned export-heavy companies to stop relying on this strength in the long term and to factor in growing difficulties of globalisation. This applies, for example, to cheap imports from China and other countries, which we may no longer be able to pay for in the long term, it also applies to ownership of foreign investments, which, according to the American model, will in future be at the mercy of states, without protection; and above all it applies to investment income (profits) from subsidiary companies and fixed investments abroad.
  If the world divides into two blocs, the US-NATO on the one hand and Russia/China on the other, disputes over each other’s assets will also become more heated and ruthless and countries will carry out the same kind of expropriations that the USA and the EU have now introduced against Russia.


No more foreign investments

Then the world champion exporter will have to pay a heavy price for having allowed itself to be driven into a foreign economic war that harms Germany more than all the other countries in the world, over which we have practically no influence, in which both warring parties, the USA and Russia, are fighting against German interests and which, with its long-term consequences – as described above – harms Germany’s global standing in industry and our prosperity based on this more than other countries.

 It is not the Ukraine war itself, but the world trade war launched against it also in form of our own sanctions, that is destroying globalisation and the prosperity for all based on it, and will – like every war – spread blow against blow and with growing hatred, bringing only global harm instead of any benefit.





what rules?.....

  Rebecca Gordon, Outlaw Superpower


POSTED ON JULY 25, 2023 

It could be the greatest crime in history and that, believe me, is saying a lot. I’m talking, of course, about the broiling of a planet where heat records are being set globally on an almost daily basis in what’s likely to be the hottest year in possibly — yes! — a million years (long before, that is, human beings even existed).

And the biggest criminals? The ultimate outlaws — to use a word TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon employs in today’s piece — are, of course, the greatest greenhouse gas emitters on the planet. Historically, that’s the United States and, in the present moment, China. Note that, only recently, climate representative John Kerry finally met with his Chinese equivalent, Xie Zhenhua, to discuss the crisis. As it happened, it was on the very day when a new heat record was set in Western China, while in the U.S., Phoenix, Arizona, was about to break its record for the most days in a row (19) above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, in case you hadn’t noticed, a broiling Europe was achieving its own temperature records and the planet itself was having one record-breaking day of heat after another.

And though it’s obviously good to finally have the climate representatives of the two “great” powers talking again, neither country is moving faintly fast enough to deal with the planetary crisis at hand, while the “representatives” of the fossil-fuel companies are all too typically backing off on even their all-too-modest promises to clean up their disastrous act. And lest you think that only wars kill, heat does, too. More than 61,000 Europeans are believed to have died in last summer’s then-record heat waves, for example, and the casualty list is only going to grow.

So, yes, we’re on a broiling planet where the use of coal, oil, and natural gas — until recently thought to be the cleanest of the fossil fuels, but according to a new study (given the methane leaks that go with its production), no better than coal in destroying this planet — is ever more obviously a criminal activity of the first order. In short, we’re distinctly on an outlaw planet. In the U.S., of course, we identify the outlaws as elsewhere. Vladimir Putin is an outlaw for invading Ukraine, for instance. (Forget that our country invaded Iraq no less egregiously in 2003, causing, in the end, hundreds of thousands of deaths.) So, take a moment, with Rebecca Gordon, to remind yourself that there are far more outlaws on this planet than we ever care to imagine. Tom

 The United States Refuses to Play by the World’s Rules Here Are Three WaysBY 

In 1963, the summer I turned 11, my mother had a gig evaluating Peace Corps programs in Egypt and Ethiopia. My younger brother and I spent most of that summer in France. We were first in Paris with my mother before she left for North Africa, then with my father and his girlfriend in a tiny town on the Mediterranean. (In the middle of our six-week sojourn there, the girlfriend ran off to marry a Czech she’d met, but that’s another story.)

In Paris, I saw American tourists striding around in their shorts and sandals, cameras slung around their necks, staking out positions in cathedrals and museums. I listened to my mother’s commentary on what she considered their boorishness and insensitivity. In my 11-year-old mind, I tended to agree. I’d already heard the expression “the ugly American” — although I then knew nothing about the prophetic 1958 novel with that title about U.S. diplomatic bumbling in southeast Asia in the midst of the Cold War — and it seemed to me that those interlopers in France fit the term perfectly.

When I got home, I confided to a friend (whose parents, I learned years later, worked for the CIA) that sometimes, while in Europe, I’d felt ashamed to be an American. “You should never feel that way,” she replied. “This is the best country in the world!”

Indeed, the United States was, then, the leader of what was known as “the free world.” Never mind that, throughout the Cold War, we would actively support dictatorships (in Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, among other places) and actually overthrow democratizing governments (in Chile, Guatemala, and Iran, for example). In that era of the G.I. Bill, strong unions, employer-provided healthcare, and general postwar economic dominance, to most of us who were white and within reach of the middle class, the United States probably did look like the best country in the world.

Things do look a bit different today, don’t they? In this century, in many important ways, the United States has become an outlier and, in some cases, even an outlaw. Here are three examples of U.S. behavior that has been literally egregious, three ways in which this country has stood out from the crowd in a sadly malevolent fashion.


Guantánamo, the Forever Prison Camp

In January 2002, the administration of President George W. Bush established an offshore prison camp at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The idea was to house prisoners taken in what had already been labelled “the Global War on Terror” on a little piece of “U.S.” soil beyond the reach of the American legal system and whatever protections that system might afford anyone inside the country. (If you wonder how the United States had access to a chunk of land on an island nation with which it had the frostiest of relations, including decades of economic sanctions, here’s the story: in 1903, long before Cuba’s 1959 revolution, its government had granted the United States “coaling” rights at Guantánamo, meaning that the U.S. Navy could establish a base there to refuel its ships. The agreement remained in force in 2002, as it does today.)

In the years that followed, Guantánamo became the site of the torture and even murder of individuals the U.S. took prisoner in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries ranging from Pakistan to Mauritania. Having written for more than 20 years about such U.S. torture programs that began in October 2001, I find today that I can’t bring myself to chronicle one more time all the horrors that went on at Guantánamo or at CIA “black sites” in countries ranging from Thailand to Poland, or at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, or indeed at the Abu Ghraib prison and Camp NAMA (whose motto was: “No blood, no foul”) in Iraq. If you don’t remember, just go ahead and google those places. I’ll wait.

Thirty men remain at Guantánamo today. Some have never been tried. Some have never even been charged with a crime. Their continued detention and torture, including, as recently as 2014, punitive, brutal forced feeding for hunger strikers, confirmed the status of the United States as a global scofflaw. To this day, keeping Guantánamo open displays this country’s contempt for international law, including the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention against Torture. It also displays contempt for our own legal system, including the Constitution’s “supremacy” clause which makes any ratified international treaty like the Convention against Torture “the supreme law of the land.”

In February 2023, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, became the first representative of the United Nations ever permitted to visit Guantánamo. She was horrified by what she found there, telling the Guardian that the U.S. has

“a responsibility to redress the harms it inflicted on its Muslim torture victims. Existing medical treatment, both at the prison camp in Cuba and for detainees released to other countries, was inadequate to deal with multiple problems such as traumatic brain injuries, permanent disabilities, sleep disorders, flashbacks, and untreated post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“These men,” she said, “are all survivors of torture, a unique crime under international law, and in urgent need of care. Torture breaks a person, it is intended to render them helpless and powerless so that they cease to function psychologically, and in my conversations both with current and former detainees I observed the harms it caused.”

The lawyer for one tortured prisoner, Ammar al-Baluchi, reports that al-Baluchi “suffers from traumatic brain injury from having been subjected to ‘walling’ where his head was smashed repeatedly against the wall.” He has entered a deepening cognitive decline, whose “symptoms include headaches, dizziness, difficulty thinking and performing simple tasks.” He cannot sleep for more than two hours at a time, “having been sleep-deprived as a torture technique.”

The United States, Ní Aoláin insists, must provide rehabilitative care for the men it has broken. I have my doubts, however, about the curative powers of any treatment administered by Americans, even civilian psychologists. After all, two of them personally designed and implemented the CIA’s torture program.

The United States should indeed foot the bill for treating not only the 30 men who remain in Guantánamo, but others who have been released and continue to suffer the long-term effects of torture. And of course, it goes without saying that the Biden administration should finally close that illegal prison camp — although that’s not likely to happen. Apparently it’s easier to end an entire war than decide what to do with 30 prisoners.

Unlawful Weapons

The United States is an outlier in another arena as well: the production and deployment of arms widely recognized as presenting an immediate or future danger to non-combatants. The U.S. has steadfastly resisted joining conventions outlawing such weaponry, including cluster bombs (or more euphemistically, “cluster munitions”) and landmines.

In fact, the United States deployed cluster bombs in its wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan. (In the previous century, it dropped 270 million of them in Laos alone while fighting the Vietnam War.) Ironically — one might even say, hypocritically — the U.S. joined146 other countries in condemning Syrian and Russian use of the same weapons in the Syrian civil war. Indeed, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that if Russia were using them in Ukraine (as, in fact, it is), that would constitute a “war crime.”

Now the U.S. has sent cluster bombs to Ukraine, supposedly to fill a crucial gap in the supply of artillery shells. Mind you, it’s not that the United States doesn’t have enough conventional artillery shells to resupply Ukraine. The problem is that sending them there would leave this country unprepared to fight two simultaneous (and hypothetical) major wars as envisioned in what the Pentagon likes to think of as its readiness doctrine.

What are cluster munitions? They are artillery shells packed with many individual bomblets, or “submunitions.” When one is fired, from up to 20 miles away, it spreads as many as 90 separate bomblets over a wide area, making it an excellent way to kill a lot of enemy soldiers with a single shot.

What places these weapons off-limits for most nations is that not all the bomblets explode. Some can stay where they fell for years, even decades, until as a New York Times editorial put it, “somebody — often, a child spotting a brightly colored, battery-size doodad on the ground — accidentally sets it off.” They can, in other words, lie in wait long after a war is over, sowing farmland and forest with deadly booby traps. That’s why then-Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon once spoke of “the world’s collective revulsion at these abhorrent weapons.” That’s why 123 countries have signed the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Among the holdouts, however, are Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.

According to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the cluster bombs the U.S. has now sent to Ukraine each contains 88 bomblets, with, according to the Pentagon, a failure rate of under 2.5%. (Other sources, however, suggest that it could be 14% or higher.) This means that for every cluster shell fired, at least two submunitions are likely to be duds. We have no idea how many of these weapons the U.S. is supplying, but a Pentagon spokesman in a briefing said there are “hundreds of thousands available.” It doesn’t take much mathematical imagination to realize that they present a real future danger to Ukrainian civilians. Nor is it terribly comforting when Sullivan assures the world that the Ukrainian government is “motivated” to minimize risk to civilians as the munitions are deployed, because “these are their citizens that they’re protecting.”

I for one am not eager to leave such cost-benefit risk calculations in the hands of any government fighting for its survival. That’s precisely why international laws against indiscriminate weapons exist — to prevent governments from having to make such calculations in the heat of battle.

Cluster bombs are only a subset of the weapons that leave behind “explosive remnants of war.” Landmines are another. Like Russia, the United States is not found among the 164 countries that have signed the 1999 Ottawa Convention, which required signatories to stop producing landmines, destroy their existing stockpiles, and clear their own territories of mines.

Ironically, the U.S. routinely donates money to pay for mine clearance around the world, which is certainly a good thing, given the legacy it left, for example, in Vietnam. According to the New York Times in 2018:

“Since the war there ended in 1975, at least 40,000 Vietnamese are believed to have been killed and another 60,000 wounded by American land mines, artillery shells, cluster bombs and other ordnance that failed to detonate back then. They later exploded when handled by scrap-metal scavengers and unsuspecting children.”


Hot Enough for Ya?

As I write this piece, about one-third of this country’s population is living under heat alerts. That’s 110 million people. A heatwave is baking Europe, where 16 Italian cities are under warnings, and Greece has closed the Acropolis to prevent tourists from dying of heat stroke. This summer looks to be worse in Europe than even last year’s record-breaker when heat killed more than 60,000 people. In the U.S., too, heat is by far the greatest weather-related killer. Makes you wonder why Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill eliminating required water breaks for outside workers, just as the latest heat wave was due to roll in.

Meanwhile, New York’s Hudson Valley and parts of Vermont, including its capital Montpelier, were inundated this past week by a once-in-a-hundred-year storm, while in South Korea, workers raced to rescue people whose cars were trapped inside the completely submerged Cheongju tunnel after a torrential monsoon rainfall. Korea, along with much of Asia, expects such rains during the summer, but this year’s — like so many other weather statistics — have been literally off the charts. Journalists have finally experienced a sea change (not unlike the extraordinary change in surface water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean). Gone are the tepid suggestions that climate change “may play a part” in causing extreme weather events. Reporters around the world now simply assume that’s our reality.

When it comes to confronting the climate emergency, though, the United States has once again been bringing up the rear. As far back as 1992, at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, President George H.W. Bush resisted setting any caps on carbon-dioxide emissions. As the New York Times reported then, “Showing a personal interest on the subject, he singlehandedly forced negotiators to excise from the global warming treaty any reference to deadlines for capping emissions of pollutants.” And even then, Washington was resisting the efforts of poorer countries to wring some money from us to help defray the costs of their own environmental efforts.

Some things don’t change all that much. Although President Biden reversed Donald Trump’s move to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accords, his own climate record has been a combination of two steps forward (the green energy transition funding found in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, for example) and a big step back (greenlighting the ConocoPhillips Willow oil drilling project on federal land in Alaska’s north slope, not to speak of Senator Joe Manchin’s pride and joy, the $6.6 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline for natural gas).

And when it comes to remediating the damage our emissions have done to poorer countries around the world, this country is still a day late and billions of dollars short. In fact, on July 13th, climate envoy John Kerry told a congressional hearing that “under no circumstances” would the United States pay reparations to developing countries suffering the devastating effects of climate change. Although at the U.N.’s COP 27 conference in November 2022, the U.S. did (at least in principle) support the creation of a fund to help poorer countries ameliorate the effects of climate change, as Reuters reported, “the deal did not spell out who would pay into the fund or how money would be disbursed.”

Welcome to Solastalgia

I learned a new word recently, solastalgia. It actually is a new word, created in 2005 by Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht to describe “the distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment.” Albrecht’s focus was on Australian rural indigenous communities with centuries of attachment to their particular places, but I think the concept can be extended, at least metaphorically, to the rest of us whose lives are now being affected by the painful presences (and absences) brought on by environmental and climate change: the presence of unprecedented heat, fire, noise, and light; the presence of deadly rain and flooding; and the growing absence of ice at the earth’s poles or on its mountains. In my own life, among other things, it’s the loss of fireflies and the almost infinite sadness of rarely seeing more than a few faint stars.

Of course, the “best country in the world” wasn’t the only nation involved in creating the horrors I’ve been describing. And the ordinary people who live in this country are not to blame for them. Still, as beneficiaries of this nation’s bounty — its beauty, its aspirations, its profoundly injured but still breathing democracy — we are, as the philosopher Iris Marion Young insistedresponsible for them. It will take organized, collective political action, but there is still time to bring our outlaw country back into what indeed should be a united community of nations confronting the looming horrors on this planet. Or so I hope and believe.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel, Songlands (the final one in his Splinterlands series), Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War IIand Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars: The Untold Story.







standing with shithead....

Live: Biden tells Zelensky he will 'ensure world stands with' Ukraine

US President Joe Biden told Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday that he will "ensure the world stands" with Ukraine as the pair met at the White House in Washington. Their meeting comes as opposition grows in Congress on continuing huge US funding for the Ukrainian war effort. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).




SEE ALSO: trained to die....



pity joe....


Biden shouldn't be ridiculed. He should be pitied

When Donald Trump spoke at the UN, everyone laughed. Now, Uncle Sam is just sad


BY Bradley Blankenship


Ahead of the latest UN General Assembly meeting in New York City, where US President Joe Biden gave a speech, the X (formerly Twitter) account of Republicans against Trump invited users to remember the time the world literally laughed at Donald Trump five years ago. Representatives from around the world erupted in laughter as the president gloated about his administration, which he said had accomplished more than any other in history – which he didn’t intend as a punchline.

“When we see a behavior or listen to arguments or notions that seem so far-fetched, unreasonable, or insane, there is [an] almost natural reaction of laughing,” one diplomat told BuzzFeed News at the time, the account noted. This situation creates a natural juxtaposition that begs the question, is American leadership respected now more than it was under Trump? A cursory glance at the official White House transcript of Biden’s own General Assembly speech this week suggests the answer is ‘no.’

Just into his second sentence, we see him having said about his latest journey to Vietnam: “And I met a small group of veterans, Americans and Vietnamese, who (sic) wit- – and I wa- – I watched an exchange of personal artifacts from that war – identification cards and a diary. It was deeply moving to see the reaction of the Vietnamese and American soldiers.” 

We also see later on that the White House had to correct Biden's misspeaking: “... And this year, we’re proud to rejoin UNESCO. But we also recognize that to meet the new challenges of our decades-old institutions and approaches, they must be updated to keep (sic) peace [pace] with the world.”

If you watch the speech, it’s clear that the 80-year-old president bumbled his way through it. Not only did he stutter, misspeak, and generally demonstrate his visible decline in recent years, but he sang the same old US platitudes that don’t resonate with the rest of the world. For example, he said, when referring to the UN’s work, “We avoided the renewal of global conflict while lifting more than one billion people – one billion people – out of extreme poverty.” He didn’t, of course, give credit to the principal nation responsible for poverty eradication, China.

Given Biden’s extensive political career, having served in the Senate’s foreign affairs committee for decades and as vice president in the Obama administration, many of the diplomats and leaders in attendance certainly know him. Not only are they familiar with him, they probably saw him when he was a lot sharper. So, the prevailing attitude when they see a visibly diminished Biden stammer through his address is probably one of pity. I know that, when I see the 80-year-old, it just feels like elder abuse at this point.

The American people certainly feel this way. An Associated Press/NORC poll in April found that 26% of respondents would like to see Biden run again in 2024, versus 73% who said he shouldn’t. Most people feel that the president is too old to seek reelection, even though he’s already pledged to run again. Most also feel that Trump, who is facing a litany of criminal charges related to his attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, shouldn’t run either. This feeling is more pronounced with casual observers abroad, who are left asking among themselves: is this really the best America has to offer?

This situation before the UN, thus, feels like a microcosm of where America stands in the world today: The world laughed at the US under Trump, as he single-handedly destroyed some of Washington’s most precious political and military partnerships, and, now, it can’t help but feel pity for America and its clearly waning prestige. The Trump years were more dramatic and bombastic; the Biden years are filled with quiet shame.

If elected again, Trump could pull the US out of NATO, which would be an objectively good thing for an antiquated institution with no serious justification for its existence, while Biden, who was expected to unite the world under the American banner, has seriously fallen short of expectations. In either case, US leadership is in irreversible decline, leaving the world and its emerging poles to fill this vacuum with new and innovative structures.

The American people, in this upcoming election, are left in a ‘damned if they do, damned if they don’t’ situation over their nation’s position as the leading hegemon. No matter who wins next year, Uncle Sam will not be the world’s dominant power within the next five years.







sanctions on health.....


Health impacts of sanctions deleted from UN declaration on universal health coverage (with Australian support)

By David Legge


In the lead up to the high-level UN meeting on universal health coverage (UHC) Australia has joined the US, UK and the EU in blocking any acknowledgement that ‘unilateral coercive measures’ (sanctions) can have negative impacts on the achievement of universal health coverage.

The health consequences of sanctions include avoidable morbidity arising from increased barriers to accessing health care, and deepening poverty from the increasing risk of health care impoverishment (through catastrophic healthcare expenditures).

The UN declarations, adopted at high-level UN meetings, are negotiated in the months leading up to the meetings with several draft versions published at key points in this process. The first draft of the ‘political declaration’ on UHC included a recognition of:

… the importance of refraining from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations that impede the full achievement of universal health coverage, particularly in developing countries (PP24).

However, this reference was removed from subsequent drafts (Rev.2 and Final). It appears that Australia joined with the USA, the EU, the UK, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and Ukraine in demanding the removal of this paragraph.

The text of the offending paragraph is taken from para 30 of A/RES/70/1 which is the resolution which launched the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

States are strongly urged to refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations that impede the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries.

This para takes its authority from General Assembly resolution A/RES/53/141, on human rights and unilateral coercive measures, adopted in 1999 by the UN General Assembly. A report from the Third World Network published in December 1999 provides useful background to this resolution.

In 2019, under the Morrison Government, Australia voted against Human Rights Councilresolution 40/3 on the negative impacts of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. The resolution included reference to “… the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the right to life, the rights to health and medical care, the right to freedom from hunger and the right to an adequate standard of living, food, education, work and housing”. In explaining its vote, Australia stated that “We believe that sanctions can be an appropriate, effective and legitimate measure that is fully compliant with international law and the United Nations Charter”. Australia’s explanation avoided any reference to the unilateral character of the sanctions being considered or to the negative impacts on human rights.

In voting against resolution 40/3 Australia lined up with Europe, the UK and Japan and against the 62 countries of the Non-aligned Movement who co-sponsored the resolution. In joining the US, UK and EU in demanding the deletion of the reference to unilateral coercive measures from the UHC declaration, Australia, now under a Labor government, is yet again aligning with the ‘might is right’ perspective and again denying the health consequences of unilateral sanctions and their impact on the poorest of the poor.

The USA presently has sanctions in place against around 23 countries, “using the blocking of assets and trade restrictions to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals” (OFAC). A recent report from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs documents the harms associated with US sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, Belarus, Sudan, Russia and China itself.

One of the special features of US sanctions is its use of the US dollar privilege to force other countries to support its sanctions as well as coercing the target countries. The US dollar privilege arises from the fact that interbank dollar settlements take place in New York and the US Treasury can at the stroke of a pen exclude errant banks from participating in such settlements. The threat of such discipline causes widespread ‘overcompliance’ because, in cases of uncertainty, banks elect to extend the sanctions rather than risk US punishment.

It is beyond dispute that US sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran and other targeted countries have impacts on access to health care and the achievement of universal health coverage. Is it really in Australia’s national interest to pretend that they don’t?