World

Historic significance of Xi’s Saudi visit

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The report that Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning his first overseas trip after the Party Congress and it may be to Saudi Arabia drips with enormous symbolism. According to the Wall Street Journal, the visit is likely to take place early December and hectic preparations are under way. 

The daily cited people familiar with the preparations that the Chinese leader’s “welcome is more likely to resemble” the 2017 visit by Donald Trump in its pomp and pageantry. 

Predictably, the focal point will be the future trajectory of Chinese-Saudi oil “alliance” — rather, the making of an oil alliance comparable to the Russian-Saudi framework of OPEC Plus. That said, there is a great deal more to the forthcoming visit by Xi in geopolitics in the dramatically shifting alignments in the West Asian region and indeed its impact on the world order can be far-reaching.

The point is, both China and Saudi Arabia are major regional powers and any matrix involving them bilaterally will be highly consequential to international politics. The Wall Street Journal said “Beijing and Riyadh seek to deepen ties and advance a vision of a multipolar world where the US no longer dominates the global order.” 

No doubt, the war in Ukraine provides an immediate backdrop. It is going to be extremely difficult for the United States to extricate itself in a near term from the war without suffering a huge loss of face tarnishing its credibility as a superpower, undermining its transatlantic leadership and even risking the future of the western alliance system as such. 

Both China and Saudi Arabia will have drawn the conclusion that the “bipartisan consensus” over the war in Ukraine may not survive the fierce tribal war among the American political elite that is certain to break out very soon once the midterm elections today get over. If the Republicans gain control over the House of Representatives, they will proceed to initiate proceedings for the impeachment of President Biden. 

Guardian survey of expert opinion on Sunday was entitled These are conditions ripe for political violence: how close is the US to civil war? At its core, therefore, both China and Saudi Arabia see the US retrenchment gathering momentum in the West Asian region.

One major item of discussion during Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia will be the latter’s “Look East” foreign-policy strategy that anticipated the US retrenchment at least by the middle of the last decade. Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia in 2016 was a landmark event.

No doubt, Beijing has been closely watching the deterioration of US-Saudi relations since then. And it cannot be lost on Beijing that lately, Saudis have been plotting energy cooperation with China amid Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s tensions with Biden. 

The surest signal was the virtual meeting on October 21 between Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Minister of Energy and Zhang Jianhua, China’s National Energy Administrator, a senior politician (who was a member of the 19th Central Discipline Commission of the Chinese Communist Party.) The meeting took place amidst a deep crisis in the US-Saudi relations with the US elite threatening to impose sanctions against Riyadh.  

Unsurprisingly, one of the key issues discussed between the Chinese and Saudi ministers was the oil market. According to the Saudi statement, the ministers “confirmed their willingness to work together to support the stability of the international oil market” and stressed the need for “long-term and reliable oil supply to stabilise global market that endures various uncertainties due to complex and changeable international situations.” Isn’t this more or less what the OPEC Plus (Russian-Saudi oil alliance) keeps saying? 

Meanwhile, the two ministers also discussed cooperation and joint investments in countries that China sees as part of its strategic Belt and Road vision and stated their intention to continue to implement an agreement about peaceful uses of nuclear energy (which Washington has opposed.) 

Without doubt, the meeting of the ministers was a clear rebuke aimed at Washington, designed to remind the Biden administration that Saudi Arabia has other important energy relationships and that Saudi oil policy does not come from Washington. Most important, the calculus here is that Riyadh is seeking a balance between Beijing and Washington. Biden’s vacuous talk about a “battle between autocracy and democracy” would bother Saudi Arabia, but China has no ideological agenda. 

Notably, the Saudi and Chinese ministers agreed to deepen cooperation in the energy supply chain through establishing a “regional hub” for Chinese manufacturers in the kingdom to take advantage of Saudi Arabia’s access to three continents. 

The bottom line is that Saudi political and business elites increasingly perceive China as a superpower and expect a global engagement that is transactional, similar to how both China and Russia generally engage in the world. The Saudis are convinced that their “comprehensive strategic partnership” (2016) with China would enhance the kingdom’s growing geopolitical importance amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, and that it underscores that Riyadh has more choices now and will further seek balance.

Saudi Arabia has increasingly close ties with Russia, too. With one leg inside the SCO tent (having gained observer status), it is now seeking BRICS membership. These are complementary moves but BRICS format is also working on an alternate currency system, which attracts Riyadh. 

Coincidence or not, Algeria and Iran, two other leading oil producing countries which keep close ties with Russia, have also sought BRICS membership for the same reason. The very fact that Saudi Arabia is joining them and is willing to bypass Western institutions and reduce the risk of interaction with them, and is instead exploring parallel ways of conducting financial, economic, and trade relations without relying on US or EU-controlled instruments does convey a big message to the international system.

The paradox is, the Saudi drive to strengthen strategic autonomy will remain fragile so long as the petrodollar ties it down to the western banking system. Therefore, Saudi Arabia has a big decision to make in regard of the continued relevance of its 1971 commitment enshrining the American dollar as the “world currency” (replacing gold) and its resolve to use only dollar for trading in oil — all of which has enabled successive US administrations through the past half century to print paper currency as they pleased, live it up by laundering the money — and eventually to weaponise dollar as its most potent instrument to impose American hegemony globally.  

While reporting on Xi’s forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, The Wall Street Journal added that the “strategic recalibration of Saudi foreign policy is bigger than the recent blowup with the Biden administration over oil production… More recently, their (China-Saudi) courtship has intensified with discussions on selling a stake in Saudi Aramco, including yuan-denominated futures contracts in Aramco’s pricing model, and possibly pricing some Saudi oil sales to China in yuan.” 

Traditionally, things used to move at a glacial pace indicative of Saudi policy shifts. But Crown Prince Salman is in a hurry to rest the Saudi compass and can take difficult decisions, as the creation of OPEC Plus in alliance with Russia testifies. Therefore, the likelihood of Saudi Arabia changing course to do part of its pricing in oil sales in yuan currency is stronger than ever today.

If things indeed move in such a direction, to be sure, a tectonic shift may be taking place — a major geo-strategic recalibration — and Xi’s visit gets elevated as an event of historic importance. 

Stop World War III – Now

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In 1799, Marshall Alexander Suvorov led a Russian army and all its cannons across the Alps in the dead of winter.  A plaque near Gotthard still commemorates this epic military feat.

In March 1814, Russia’s emperor Alexander I entered Paris at the head of his Imperial Guard, ending Napoleon’s rule.

In 1945, Russian forces under Marshalls Zhukov and Konev fought their way into Berlin. The Red Army destroyed 75% of all German and Axis forces.

Russians are great warriors.  They are courageous, often heedless of death, and masters of the art of war. 

So, what has happened to the Russian Army in Ukraine?  It has fought poorly, moved at the speed of ox carts, blundered around and suffered heavy casualties and heavy loss of armored and air forces.

Start with Russia’s military hierarchy. It’s led by a civilian, Sergei Shoigu, a crony of Putin and a man without any military training or experience. But he’s loyal to Putin.

He reminds me of poor, old Egyptian field marshal, Abdel Hakim Amer, Nasser’s buddy, who misled his nation’s armed forces into the 1967 catastrophe.  When Israeli warplanes attacked, using US satellite data, Amer was smoking dope in his airplane.

Putin was a KGB officer. He had no military background beyond ruthlessly crushing the second Chechen uprising – with US help.  Chechen chief Ramzan Kadyrov has blasted Shoigu and called for his head.  There has been far too much political interference with Russia’s military. 

Putin wanted a limited ‘military action,’ not a full-scale war against what was not so long ago an integral part of Russia.  Hence the once formidable Red Army was kept on a leash, deprived of Russia’s most modern weapons, and ordered to go easy on the rebellious Ukrainians.

Russia’s artillery, the Queen of battle, ran out of ammunition.  The Red Air Force was ordered not to risk its expensive Sukhoi fighter-bombers.  Its space-based targeting was jammed or degraded by the US and NATO.

Equally important, the conflict in Ukraine has already turned into a mini-World War Three as the US and its key allies struggle to deliver the coup de grace to the Russian federation.

This war is not about freedom for Ukraine – as potent western propaganda incessantly tells us.  It’s about crushing the last remnants of former Soviet power and turning the fragments into docile mini states dominated by Washington and London.

Since CIA overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian regime in 2014 – which cost an estimated $50 billion – Moscow and Kiev have been at daggers drawn.  Putin’s Russia refuses to recognize Ukraine as an independent state.  Kiev, backed by tens of billions of dollars and a massive arsenal of arms from the west, rejects Russian hegemony.

The US wants to see the Balkanization of Mother Russia. The next targets may be Russia’s Far East or the Russian Urals.  The war party in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike, appears determined to crush the life out of what’s left of Russia and achieve the strategic goal of America’s neocons of eradicating any potential military opponent of absolute worldwide US power.  Once Russia is laid low, China will be the next target – in fact, it likely already is.

The Biden administration has already poured close to $100 billion of aid and huge amounts of arms into Ukraine, a staggering and risky sum for a nation with a $31 trillion deficit. Add billions more from Canada and US allies in Europe who would prefer to see this war end.

The current wave of high inflation has been ignited in large part by Washington’s reckless spending over Ukraine. This is money the US Treasury does not have, and must borrow, fueling roaring inflation.

A decade ago, President Putin proclaimed that Russia would cut conventional military spending and increasingly rely on nuclear arms. 

Yet we are surprised now that the Kremlin is rattling its nuclear weapons. We should not forget that before the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine held and produced substantial numbers of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. These were supposedly all junked, but Ukraine probably holds a few nukes in secret.

Meanwhile, western forces are openly operating in Ukraine against Russian forces.  The full panoply of US power is witnessed there:  space intelligence and air-born intelligence; naval operations blocking the Russian Black Sea Fleet; vast amounts of artillery, electronic warfare, conventional land warfare conducted by special units from Poland, the US, Britain and Germany. 

As this column has been saying for years, the prime duty of the United States, the world’s premier power, is to avert any possible nuclear confrontation in Eastern Europe.  Diplomacy, not more arms, is the answer.

The answer is clear: stop trying to draw Ukraine into NATO, stop trying to fragment Russia. Let the rebellious Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine join Russia if they so desire.  Pull western forces out of the region and resume quiet diplomacy.  Let France lead this sensible effort.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2022

The wasteland of British politics

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When an ugly power play marks the end of the career of a phenomenally successful politician, it presents a painful sight. From all accounts in the British press in the most recent weeks, it was clear that the night of the long knives was approaching for the most photogenic prime minister Great Britain and Northern Ireland ever produced — Liz Truss.

Enoch Powell, if I remember correctly, once said that the tragedy of most politicians is that they do not know when to quit public life before the sun starts descending westward on their career. Indeed, Truss invited upon herself such an ignominious end to her stunning political career.

For, she should have known that in life, it’s more important to be aware of one’s weaknesses than strengths. But she was fired up by an overvaulting ambition to slip into the shoes of Margaret Thatcher, while it was crystal clear to anyone who watched her controversial visit to Moscow in February that Truss was perilously close to being exposed as an incompetent politician. Come to think of it, she eagerly sought an invitation from Moscow keenly seeking media headlines as a tough-talking diplomat even as the storms were gathering over Ukraine.

But then, Truss probably believes that success and competence are not necessarily inter-related and politics is all about packaging and marketing — or, plain luck. She’s right in thinking so. Boris Johnson had his uses for her. But Truss ignored that Britain is not only sick but likely terminally ill, and only a politician with a magic wand can navigate the country out of its misery, and that she was not up to the task.

The result is that within a month of her time as prime minister, Truss has proved that Elensky curse is real. If she wanted to abandon plans to scrap the scheduled increase in corporation tax from 19 to 25 percent, it was bad. But when she retracted, that was also bad. The political atmosphere became sulphurous.

Of course, a day is a long time in politics, but from the look of it, Truss is a burnt-out case and her days as prime minister are numbered. Attention has already turned to Rishi Sunak as her likely successor. Will that make any difference?

Sunak bears an uncanny resemblance to Barack Obama — a voluble, charismatic, well-educated globalist, who would have acceptability with the country’s permanent establishment as someone who can be trusted not to upset the apple cart. But is that all that is needed to steer Britain out of crisis mode?

A significant part of Britain’s travails today stems out of the West’s sanctions against Russia. According to a Sunday Telegraph report, by mid-April, British citizens were already militating against the sanctions due to rising prices, especially fuel price. The Guardian newspaper also reported that there would be inflationary pressure and economy will slow down in the UK following economic measures against Russia.

“The shockwaves from the Russian invasion of Ukraine will cut UK living standards by £2,500 per household, lead to more persistent inflationary pressure and slow the economy to a standstill next year, economists fear,” the newspaper wrote in March.

Market confidence has crashed, the value of the pound and government bonds is tanking and the Bank of England is restive, as investors fear that the British economy cannot possibly underwrite a £60 billion hit to public debt.

On the other hand, public spending must be cut even at the risk of provoking a broader social explosion. But, how to find tens of billions of pounds of cuts in just three weeks? The sell-off of bonds and the fall in the pound prompted the Bank of England to raise interest rates more quickly than planned, which in turn sent mortgages soaring.

The catch is, if Sunak is indeed brought in as PM, that will be the outcome of a palace coup and for the wrong reasons, especially his formidable manipulative skill in the corridors of power. Times wrote: “Senior Conservatives are holding talks about replacing Liz Truss with a joint ticket of Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt as part of a ‘coronation’ by MPs.”

“Around ‘20 to 30’ former ministers and senior backbenchers are attempting to find a way for a ‘council of elders’ to tell Truss to quit.” The coup is executed almost openly by the world’s banks and asset managers with the rising expectation that the new team might restore confidence in the UK economy — while, in reality, would satisfy the interests of the financial oligarchy.

If the trick doesn’t work or if something goes seriously wrong, there is Plan B — a general election. The interesting part is that if the opposition Labour wins — as it well might with current polling figures showing that the Conservatives will be reduced to just 85 seats, down from 356, and their worst ever result by far — the interests of the financial oligarchy will remain utterly safe in the hands of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who can be trusted to subserve the global speculators and corporate boardrooms. After the overthrow of Jeremy Corbyn, there was a thorough purge of his flock of socialists.

It is a dreary outcome. Recently, Al Jazeera featured a riveting report about the working of inner party democracy within the Labour, which shows “how the party’s bureaucrats, whose nominal function is to serve the interests of the party, attempted to undermine members supportive of Jeremy Corbyn,… Labour’s leader from 2015 to 2020,… the first unequivocally socialist leader of the party since the 1980s, (who) rode a wave of popular discontent against the political establishment, standing on a platform of public ownership of key industries, a strengthened welfare state, and an end to the austerity measures imposed by the Conservative government at that time.”

Both in terms of the class war at home and Britain’s war against Russia and China abroad, no serious shift can be expected out of a regime change calibrated by the Deep State. The only silver lining is that Britain’s capacity to fuel the Ukraine war has drastically diminished as it fights its own battle for survival. With a 80,000-strong standing army — one-fourth the size of Eritrea’s —Britain was anyway punching far above its weight in Ukraine.

The right thing to do is for the next UK prime minister to visit Washington without delay and prevail upon President Biden to end this senseless war in Ukraine and lift the sanctions against Russia, which bled the economies of the UK and other European allies. The heart of the matter is that Europe’s prosperity was built on the availability of cheap, reliable, energy supplies from Russia in huge volumes.

But it will be a dare-devil act — almost suicidal — for Sunak or any British politician to take on the Deep State. Will Sunak be up to it? Left to himself, he never sounded enthusiastic about the Ukraine war or the regime in Kiev. So, will the Deep State take chances? Indeed, that is precisely where the chances of Ben Wallace, the defence Secretary, would lie. A dark horse trotting down the path in the wilderness of British politics!

Click here to read the author’s personal blog, where this piece first appeared.

What should you learn from China?

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Chinese modernization has broadened the horizon for the development of human society. China’s continuous enrichment and development of new forms of human civilization has inspired more countries and nations to add their own colours to the garden of human civilization, Global Times, a Beijing-based daily newspaper has assessed the historic moment of China, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), in its editorial.

“Among the five major characteristics of Chinese modernization summed up by General Secretary Xi, there is one that China has repeatedly stated, and has been proven time and time again, that is, Chinese modernization is the modernization of peaceful development,” the editorial noted.

According to the editor, the bloody and criminal history of some Western countries’ modernization through war, colonization, plunder and other means has brought huge suffering to the world, especially the people of developing countries. The CPC leads the Chinese people to firmly explore a new path to achieve national development and national rejuvenation in a peaceful way, and at the same time better maintain world peace and development through its own development. This is one of the important connotations of the “new model for human civilization.”

“The report stressed that China adheres to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in pursuing friendship and cooperation with other countries. It is committed to promoting a new type of international relations, deepening and expanding global partnerships based on equality, openness, and cooperation, and broadening the convergence of interests with other countries. The CPC always honours its promises. Standing on the right side of history, on the side of the progress of humanity’s civilization, the new path of Chinese modernization will become wider and wider,” it further noted.

Anyone who holds a pragmatic and rational attitude toward China and the world’s development will gain a sense of direction and positive energy from the report. With the irreversible process of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, Chinese modernization will increasingly demonstrate its civilizational significance, the editor predicted.

Click here to read the editorial

Is Vladimir Putin Making Strategic Mistakes?

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2 mins read

Day after day, military experts, analyzing troop movements, the state of forces, technological options, etc., assure us that Vladimir Putin is making impressive strategic mistakes, and some even venture to promise victory to the Ukrainians these days. Triumphalism? Perhaps. Divine surprise? No doubt. A hoped-for victory of certain principles against a tyrant? Yes, of course.

That we are far from the account, however. The winter arrives. It is, in these regions, rigorous. The forces on both sides are necessarily exhausted without knowing who will finally give in first. Ukraine’s allies still fear the transition to co-belligerency. Beyond the inevitable fragility of these hopes and the agonizing uncertainty of the outcome of this conflict, there is, however, one part that Putin has won, and that we pretend not to see: he has revived the Beast.

“War has returned to Europe after seventy years of peace,” lamented some European heads of state. This is true, and it is false if we think of the Yugoslavian civil war, which was, in the end, war at all. Beyond this return of war, tearing apart the patiently woven fabric of the Pax Europaea, Vladimir Putin is reviving memories and smells that we thought were buried.

For, yes, we had believed after 1945 that humanity, at least in Europe, would be forever inoculated against barbaric unleashing and gratuitous cruelty. But what do we see?

In Ukraine, the return of crimes whose atrocity is beyond comprehension. Rape as a weapon of war, in particular the rape of children under the age of 5, followed by their murder. Mass graves are discovered. The violation of the elementary rules of the right of prisoners is daily. The targeting of civilians is methodical. The use of torture is common. The destruction of cities whose architecture and heritage are reminiscent of Vienna or Prague is systematic. The careful erasure of places of memory, the contempt for the history of peoples and their dignity, hatred as a driving force: this, even more than war, is what is back in Europe.

From this emanates the rancid perfume of the exactions of the Nazi militias, the troubled vision of these German regiments drunk with blood and often rendered half insane by fatigue, violence, and alcohol, ready to deny all humanity, their own and that of their victims. When we don’t see the images, fortunately, we don’t need much imagination to imagine these prisoners emasculated by meeting brutes, these women shot at the edge of the mass grave, as once at Babi Yar the photo of this German soldier firmly leaning on his big legs and laying a woman’s cheek turning her back to him, ardently holding her child against her in a final embrace: in a second they will be dead. We owe to Vladimir Putin the hallucinating reissue of these barbarities that we thought had been abolished. It is as if the genocidal animal that we thought had been eradicated was still lurking in people’s minds, like Fáfnir in his cave.

And we also see, on the Russian side, populations fleeing by the roads, we see men trying to refuse the mobilization by voluntarily breaking a leg, and we see those who could not avoid it going to empty barracks, collecting rusty weapons, being admonished by drunken or moronic instructors. We will soon see them all pierced by the first assault, fathers of families, students, and young soldiers of fortune fallen for no other cause than the folly and error of one man. Then we will see the tears of those 15-year-old boys enlisted in extremis in a routed Wehrmacht. We will inevitably think of the haggard eyes of the German prisoners of 1945 walking in cohorts, looking as if they no longer understand what they are doing there. And we will find ourselves pitying these “despite us” whose sad fate, however, will not entirely redeem the bloody madness of their brothers in arms.

Probably because his historical imagination remained stuck at the stage of post-war ruins and the instincts of revenge that were grafted onto it, Vladimir Putin awakens scenes of another time, the violence of another age, and makes us smell that smell of burnt flesh and charred cities that our grandparents had unfortunately known. The Russians, victorious at Stalingrad, had put a stop to the destruction by the Germans of any notion of humanity. Putin will remain the one who buried the glory of Stalingrad under the ruins of Mariupol.

9/11 After 21 Years

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Today is the 21st anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. There has never been an official US investigation of the attack. After much pressure from families of those who died in the collapse of the towers, the White House finally and most reluctantly assembled a 9/11 Commission consisting largely of politicians and a neoconservative staff director to sit and listen to the government’s narrative and to write it down. This is what comprised the 9/11 Commission Report. Afterwards the commission’s co-chairmen and legal counsel wrote books in which they said the 9/11 Commission was set up to fail, that resources and information were withheld from the Commission, and that the Commission considered referring criminal charges to the Department of Justice against some of the government officials who falsely testified before the commission. These confessions were ignored by the presstitutes and had no effect on the government’s highly implausible narrative.

NIST’s account of the collapse is simply a computer simulation that delivered the results NIST programed into the simulation.

For 21 years I reported on the independent investigations and findings of scientists, scholars, engineers, and architects that concluded on the basis of hard evidence that the government’s narrative was a false account. Initially, the distinguished scientists, architects, and engineers who rejected the official narrative were characterized by the presstitutes as “conspiracy theorists,” following the line the CIA had employed against experts who disputed the official narrative of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. However, over time the efforts of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth convinced more and more Americans that the official story was false. In recent years polls have shown that half of those polled no longer believe the official narrative.

It was obvious to me early that 9/11 was an inside job, a false flag event blamed on Muslims in order to justify two decades of a “war on terror” whose purpose was to destroy Israel’s Middle Eastern opponents who were funding Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia that twice drove the vaunted Israeli Army out of Israel’s attempted occupation of southern Lebanon. If Hezbollah’s supporters–Iraq, Syria and Iran–could be eliminated, Israel could seize the water resource in southern Lebanon. This, and profits and power for the US military/security complex are all the “war on terror” was about.

The reason it was obvious to me that 9/11 was an inside job is that, as it was presented, it amounted to the worse humiliation a superpower had suffered in all of recorded history. A handful of young Saudi Arabians without support of any state or security agency had delivered a crushing blow to the image of the United States. The almighty National Security Apparatus was incapable of warding off a handful of foreigners who, magically, caused US airport security to fail four times on the same morning, hijack 4 airliners, cause the US military to conduct a simulation of the attack at the same time an actual attack was occurring, thus causing massive confusion that prevented the US Air Force from intercepting the hijacked airliners. The young men also prevented VP Dick Cheney, who was monitoring “the attack on America,” from blocking the attack on the Pentagon.

When you look at this record of extraordinary failure of the multi-trillion dollar National Security State and hear no demand from the President of the United States, the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress, and the media for investigation and accountability for the government’s total failure, hearing instead opposition to any inquiry, you know for an absolute fact that the highest levels of the US government were responsible for the attack in order to unleash war on the Middle East, just as Pearl Harbor was a Roosevelt orchestration to get the US into a war that Congress and the American people opposed.

If in fact the US government believed its narrative, the government, embarrassed to the hilt, would have been demanding explanation and accountability. There would have been endless investigation. Many heads would have rolled. I spent a quarter century in Washington, and I know for a fact that the government would not have been content to assemble a Commission and then read an implausible account to them and call that an investigation of America’s and their own humiliation.

What the government did instead of an investigation was to quickly destroy all the evidence. The massive steel beams of the towers clearly cut at an angle by high temperature explosives were quickly collected over objections by fire marshals, shipped out of the country in order to get rid of the evidence, and sold as scrap metal in Asia. No explanation or even admission was given for the molten steel still under the ruble weeks after the event. The testimony of more than a hundred, firemen, police, and building maintenance workers that they experienced explosions all over the towers, including one in the basement before the alleged airliners even hit the towers, was ignored. That the three buildings collapsed into their own footprints as in controlled demolition was ignored. That the BBC reporter announced the collapse of the third building 30 minutes before it happened while she was standing in front of the still standing building was ignored.

But Americans were sitting ducks for their deception, as they always are. Americans, self-righteous, content in the goodness of their country with the belief reinforced by patriotism and flag-waving were pleased to believe that they were attacked, as President Bush said, because America is so good.

One wonders if today, after 21 years of Identity Politics, Aversive Racism, Critical Race Theory, transgender theory, the NY Times’ 1619 Project, the demonization of our Founding Fathers, destruction of their reputations and removal of their statues, and the glorification of perversity, Americans would still have the confidence in their goodness to fall victim to another 9/11 deception?

Perhaps they would. Many of them seem to have fallen for “we have to save the liberty of Ukraine from Putin,” by which is really meant is that “we must save the Biden family’s and the Democrats’ money laundering operation in Ukraine.” The insouciant Americans sent over billions of dollars, and the money comes back, with a cut taken out for Zelensky and his henchmen, to the Democrats for advice, consulting fees, facilitators of wartime needs.

In recorded history there have been corrupt empires, but the American one takes the cake. It might yet take our lives.

Views expressed are personal

Counter Productive Media Report on Nano Urea Fertiliser in India

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4 mins read

Nano Urea, a fertilizer patented and sold by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), has been approved by the Government of India for commercial use because of its various benefits.

Unfortunately, a counter productive media campaign has been levelled against nano urea, ignoring the merits of nano urea.

When extensive field trials have been carried out on more than 94 crops across 11000 farmer fields in different parts of the country by several organisations , research institutions putting their efforts together and results have been proved as per the claims , it is counter productive that some controversial views appear in the media, which cause only sensation and nothing more than that.

Product details :

Nano Urea is about a billionth of a metre in surface area and contains nitrogen particles of 20 -50 nanometres.

The average thickness of conventional urea particle is 2.8 mm, which is equal to around 55,000 nano urea particles in size.

Chemically, conventional urea has 45% nitrogen content ,which means a 45 kg urea bag contains about 20 kg of nitrogen. In contrast, nano urea sold in 500 ml bottles has 4% nitrogen (or around 20 gm)

The process for nano urea uses organic polymers that keeps the nano particles of nitrogen stable and in a form that can be sprayed onto plants.

Liquid nano urea is sprayed directly on the leaves and gets absorbed by the plant.

Urea in nano form provide a targeted supply of nutrients to crops, as they are absorbed by the pores found on the epidermis of leaves.

IFFCO advises that 2-4 ml of nano urea should be mixed in a litre of water and sprayed on crop leaves at active growth stages.

Due to the ultra-small size and surface properties, the nano urea liquid gets absorbed by plants more effectively when sprayed on their leaves.

With 40,000 milligram per litre. of nitrogen in a 500 ml nano urea bottle can be sufficient for providing nitrogen to one acre of the field with crops compared to 2.5 bags of urea.

One bottle of 500 ml costs Rs.240 whereas the conventional subsidized urea is sold at Rs.266.5 per 45 kg bag.

Over 3.6 crore bottles of this urea have been produced by IFFCO , of which 2.5 crore have been sold.

The question :

The critics have raised the following questions about the wisdom of introducing nano urea as substitute for conventional area in agricultural operations,

• Chemically,conventional urea has 45% nitrogen content , which means a 45 kg urea bag contains about 20 kg of nitrogen. On the other hand, nano urea sold in 500 ml bottles has only 4% nitrogen (or around 20 gm). How can this compensate for the kilogrammes of nitrogen normally?

• “Urea is highly water soluble and already reaches the lowest form of concentration when absorbed. How nanoparticles can increase the effectiveness of nitrogen uptake by being still small in size?.

• Not all the nano urea sprayed on leaves can be utilised by the plant.

Merits of nano urea :

Because nano particles are so small and numerous, they have a lot more surface area relative to their volume, compared with the millimetre-size grains of urea that plants are exposed to .

Unlike the conventional urea which are coarse particles that farmers normally throw onto the soil during sowing, the nano particle form of nano urea, when applied on to the leaves, stimulates a range of enzymes, like nitrase and nitrite reductase, which helps plants metabolise nitrogen

Upon penetration, these nanoparticles reach plant parts where nitrogen is required and release nutrients in a controlled manner, thereby reducing usage while also reducing wastage into the environment.

Small size (20-50 nm) of nano urea increases its availability to crop by more than 80%.

Liquid nano urea has a shelf life of a year, and farmers need not be worried about “caking” when it comes in contact with moisture.

Field trials and results :

IFFCO says the product has been tested on more than 94 crops across 11,000 farmer fields in collaboration with Krishi Vigyan Kendras of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR-KVKs), research institutes, state agriculture universities, and progressive farmers. “The trials began in November 2019

According to a release from IFFCO, field trials have shown that a 500 ml bottle of nano urea can replace one bag of conventional urea, as it has 40,000 ppm of nitrogen, which is equivalent nitrogen nutrient provided by one bag of conventional urea.

Nano urea has also been tested for biosafety and toxicity according to norms followed in India and the international guidelines developed by OECD, which are adopted and accepted globally.

Comparison of conventional urea and nano urea :

As of now, just 30-50 per cent of nitrogen from conventional urea is utilised by plants in farms , while the rest goes waste due to quick chemical transformation because of leaching, which contaminates soil and water bodies, and volatilisation that causes emissions of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere — leading to air pollution and global warming along with low nutritional efficiency for the crop.

While conventional urea is effective just for 30-50 per cent in delivering nitrogen to plants, the effectiveness of the nano urea liquid is over 80 per cent.

A major reason for this increase in efficiency of nano urea is because of the fact that nanotechnology, which is the base of this new form of urea, enables designing ultra-small particles that offer higher surface-mass ratios, and help in the controlled delivery of plant nutrients.

Approval :

According to critics, nano urea is yet to be fully tested despite having been fast tracked for commercial application.

According to the critics, normally, three seasons of independent assessment by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is required for approving a new fertiliser, but in the case of nano urea this was reduced to two.

The above stand of the critics is not logical and acceptable, since nano urea is not different from urea in chemical constituent and the difference is only in the form and particle size.

Therefore, there is no need to consider conventional urea and nano urea as separate products for approval by the authorities , particularly since extensive field trials have been carried out with nano urea and the results have been announced which are positive and are proven to be beneficial.

Views expressed are personal

Farewell Gorbachev

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2 mins read

It was an unforgettable evening in Moscow.

I was taken by Russian friends to the city’s then largest cathedral which had been closed for decades by Stalin’s orders.

Amid clouds of incense and the glow of countless candles, a chorus sang the old Orthodox liturgy. Most of the worshippers openly wept. This was the first time that Russians had been allowed to celebrate Orthodox Christmas mass since the 1930’s. Though not myself religious, I was swept away by the deep emotions and beauty of the moment.

The new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, had allowed his nation’s churches to reopen. This historic act, and a host of other liberalizations, restored Russia to its cultural roots and brought a dawn to the benighted Soviet Union after the dark Communist times.

Mikhail Gorbachev, a soft-spoken bureaucrat from the rural Stavropol region, seemed unlikely to assume leadership of the mighty Soviet Union. But three previous chairmen of the Union had died from age-related infirmities. The Communist Party’s ruling circles decided that their nations needed youth, rejuvenation and a battle against corruption.

So Gorbachev was named the new party chairman. He wasted no time in unleashing a torrent of reforms known a ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika.’ Gorbachev was hugely aided in this revolution by the tough KGB chief of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze whose primary role in Gorbachev’s revolution was not understood by the west. We used to call him ‘Chevy Eddy.’ He enjoyed this sobriquet.

Gorbachev wanted a Europeanized, liberal Russia living in harmony with the western powers. He partly dismantled the fearsome KGB, guardian of the communist party. I interviewed the KGB’s two most senior officers at the notorious Lubyanka Prison and learned of their tentative support for Gorbachev’s reforms.

The most important action taken by Gorbachev was his refusal to use force against ethnic nationalists in the Baltic states, Ukraine, Central Asia and, increasingly, Eastern Europe. Force and fear had held the old Soviet Union together. Once removed, the union quickly began to disintegrate.

Gorbachev also sought to end the Cold War confrontation with the US and its allies, rightly understanding that the USSR could not sustain a ruinous military confrontation with the western powers. Russia at one time had 50,000 tanks and 5,000 nuclear warheads but no food in its miserable markets.

So Gorbachev bravely called an end to the Cold War and embarked on nuclear disarmament programs. He ended the hopeless war in Afghanistan and recalled the Red Army. As rebellions erupted in East Germany, the Baltics and Central Asia a bunch of drunken Communist Party bigwigs tried to overthrow Gorbachev in August 1991 while he was vacationing in Crimea. The coup was a comic fiasco, but it ended Gorbachev’s authority. Boris Yeltsin, secretly supported by the US and Britain, seized power.

The USSR collapsed, splintering into pieces. Gorbachev and his allies were unwilling to employ brute force to stop the process. Had they done so, nuclear war with the US and NATO would have been likely. While Gorbachev avoided war and allowed the historic reunification of Germany, the US invaded Iraq. Many Russians warned that the US was determined to destroy the Russian Union. Washington’s vows not to expand NATO east turned out to be untruths that delivered the final fatal blow to Gorbachev. He became the most reviled man in Russia, an outcast in his own country. His lovely, cultured wife Raisa was denounced as a snob, but she would form the model for modern Russian women, transformed from dumpy versions of Mrs. Khrushchev into stunning beauties.

Former President Mikhail Gorbachev died last week aged 91 after a long illness. Like the late US president Jimmy Carter, he struggled to spare the world from the threat of nuclear war. He made many mistakes, but Gorby was a great man, a great statesman and a great human being.

Rest in peace, Mikhail Sergeyevich. I salute you.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2022

Achieving full gender equality is still centuries away – UN

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3 mins read

At the current rate of progress, it may take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality, the Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): The Gender Snapshot 2022 shows. Global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, violent conflict, climate change, and the backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are further exacerbating gender disparities. The new report, launched today by UN Women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), highlights that, at the current pace of progress, SDG 5 – achieving gender equality – will not be met by 2030.

Sima Bahous, UN Women Executive Director, said: “This is a tipping point for women’s rights and gender equality as we approach the half-way mark to 2030. It is critical that we rally now to invest in women and girls to reclaim and accelerate progress. The data show undeniable regressions in their lives made worse by the global crises – in incomes, safety, education and health. The longer we take to reverse this trend, the more it will cost us all”.

“Cascading global crises are putting the achievement of the SDGs in jeopardy, with the world’s most vulnerable population groups disproportionately impacted, in particular women and girls. Gender equality is a foundation for achieving all SDGs and it should be at the heart of building back better,” said Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs of UN DESA.

Without swift action, legal systems that do not ban violence against women, do not protect women’s rights in marriage and family, for instance denying women their right to pass on their nationality to their children, or to inherit, do not provide them with equal pay and benefits at work, do not guarantee their equal rights to own and control land, may continue to exist for generations to come.

At the current rate of progress, the report estimates that it will take up to 286 years to close gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws, 140 years for women to be represented equally in positions of power and leadership in the workplace, and at least 40 years to achieve equal representation in national parliaments. To eradicate child marriage by 2030, progress must be 17 times faster than progress of the last decade, with girls from the poorest rural households and in conflict-affected areas expected to suffer the most.

The report also points to a worrisome reversal on the reduction of poverty, and rising prices are likely to exacerbate this trend. By the end of 2022, around 383 million women and girls will live in extreme poverty (on less than 1.90 a day) compared to 368 million men and boys. Many more will have insufficient income to meet basic needs such as food, clothing and adequate shelter in most parts of the world. If current trends continue, in sub-Saharan Africa, more women and girls will live in extreme poverty by 2030 than today.

The invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war there is further worsening food insecurity and hunger, especially among women and children, limiting supplies of wheat, fertilizer and fuel, and propelling inflation. In 2021, about 38 per cent of female-headed households in war-affected areas experienced moderate or severe food insecurity, compared to 20 per cent of male-headed households.

Further facts and figures highlighted in the report include:

In 2020, school and preschool closures required 672 billion hours of additional unpaid childcare globally. Assuming the gender divide in care work remained the same as before the pandemic, women would have shouldered 512 billion of those hours.

Globally, women lost an estimated USD 800 billion in income in 2020 due to the pandemic, and despite a rebound, their participation in labour markets is projected to be lower in 2022 than it was pre-pandemic (50.8 per cent, compared to 51.8 per cent in 2019).

There are now more women and girls who are forcibly displaced than ever before: some 44 million women and girls by the end of 2021.

Today, over 1.2 billion women and girls of reproductive age (15-49) live in countries and areas with some restriction on access to safe abortion.

Ahead of the Transforming Education Summit taking place on the margins of the UN General Assembly, the report points out that achieving universal girls’ education, while not enough by itself, would improve such an outlook significantly. Each additional year of schooling can boost a girl’s earnings as an adult by up to 20 per cent with further impacts on poverty reduction, better maternal health, lower child mortality, greater HIV prevention and reduced violence against women.

The report showcases that cooperation, partnerships and investments in the gender equality agenda, including through increased global and national funding are essential to correct the course and place gender equality back on track.

The Legacy of Gorbachev: International Peacemaker or National Resentment?

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4 mins read

Another influential figure passes from the genus of the living and into the memories of the lost. As the month of August completed its timely lapse, the final leader of the Soviet Union passed away at the ripe old age of 91.

At the news of his death, political leaders of the West remembered Mikhail Gorbachev for his distinguished character, his unflinching faith in peace, and his tiring efforts for reformation. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres paid tribute to the Soviet leader commenting that he was ‘a one-of-a-kind statesman who changed the course of history’, while US President Joe Biden hailed him as ‘a man of remarkable vision’. Nevertheless, while he is being praised by the ascendancies of the Western political camp, he was even denied a state funeral in his own nation for his responsibility in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev led a distinguished and unconventional life that earned him international reverence but national revilement. When he acceded to power as General Secretary in 1985, he presided over one of the most powerful countries in the bipolar world order of the 1980s. However, when he resigned, he left a disintegrated and weak Russian state that had become the fallen pole in the emerging unipolar world of the 1990s.

The rise of Gorbachev was glorious and unprecedented in the history of the USSR. This dynamic and charismatic leader was to bring the idea of reformation to the rigid administrative structure of the Union. His famous slogans ‘perestroika’ (rebuilding) and ‘glasnost’ (openness) were the fundamental ideologies used as the guiding tenets that were to bring the Soviet edifice to heightened prosperity and opulence. The United States and its allies welcomed him with open arms as they foresaw the opportunity that the capitalist machine could reap from a communist leader having democratic ideals.

The ideals of Gorbachev, however, were no doubt based on the noble principles of well-founded intentions. He visioned the bringing of a peaceful reformation from within, yet his ideas proved too idealistic to be true. The effort to hold the Empire together without the regressive control of central authority was a futile attempt. As the Empire opened up, multiple European and Baltic satellite states under the Kremlin began calls for independence. When Gorbachev refused to use force to repress the protests, the fall of the Empire became inevitable – a drastic similarity to the fall of Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the face of the JVP-led regime change operation in Sri Lanka.

As Gorbachev’s biographer William Taubman wrote; ‘he was a good man, he was a decent man. I think his tragedy is in a sense that he was too decent for the country he was leading’. The failure of Gorbachev remains an example of how a top-down approach for a rapid transformation of an oligarchical system is not possible along a peaceful road. Such efforts to pressurise change more often lead to violent push-back from the status quo even if the proponent of that change is one of them.

The strategy of Gorbachev worked in the international sphere where he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for playing a leading role in ending the Cold War between the US and USSR. But of course, wide speculation exists on whether the Peace Prize was given as a ‘Thank You’ token for allowing the United States to win against the Soviets. The nuclear arms race was a leading concern in the 1980s as the looming risk of nuclear war between the world powers was a constant possibility that could cause unimaginable destruction across the world. The combined efforts of Gorbachev of the USSR and Ronald Reagan of the US helped in the voluntary reduction in nuclear arsenals of both countries. The Reagan Foundation and Institute looked back and described Gorbachev as ‘a man who once was a political adversary of Ronald Reagan’s who ended up becoming a friend’.

On the global stage of diplomacy, Gorbachev was praised as a peacemaker. However, in his homeland, he faced scathing criticism. The political career of Gorbachev could not survive the disintegration of the USSR as it was seen as a humiliation brought upon the people of the former Soviet Union. He was not only blamed for the hyperinflation and food insecurity that followed, but also for the very failure to uphold the tenets of the Empire that were structurally in place for more than half a century. Soon after he resigned in 1991 on the eve of the Soviet collapse, the Kremlin was once again reclaimed by the Russian hardliners. In his resignation speech in December 1991, Gorbachev proclaimed that the ‘old system collapsed before the new one had time to begin working, and the crisis in the society became even more acute’. When he tried to return to power in 1996, it was too late and he received only 1% of the vote from the constituents of the collapsed Union.

The death of Gorbachev comes at a disoriented juncture for the Russians as it remains deep in war against its former republic state of Ukraine. The failure of Gorbachev to become the linchpin for the Soviet Empire resulted in the perceived victory of the Western camp in winning the Cold War. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Union, the United States and its allies began inundating former Soviet states into the Western sphere of influence. Highly influential former Soviet republics began switching teams with the United States. Poland, Hungary and the Czechs joined the American NATO in 1999 while Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined in 2004. The ever-creeping US ideological machine continues to thrust Eastward. America’s attempt to bring Ukraine into its direct sphere of influence triggered Putin’s war machine that launched its invasion of Ukraine to thwart any attempts to install a NATO power in Russia’s backyard.

The policy adopted by hardliners like Vladimir Putin is the opposite of Gorbachev’s so-called peace policy. They blame Gorbachev for the Soviet Union’s fall from grace. While Gorbachev attempted to rule in the American style of governance that led to failure, Putin appears to remain vigilant and downright rejects the Americanisation of the former Soviet Empire. This is in no way to opine that the Russian style of governance is superior to its American counterpart, but simply a comment on the rather colossal ideological confrontation that continues to burn. In 2005, the Russian president called the break-up of the USSR ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th Century’.

Gorbachev’s life and the collapse of the Soviets continue to stand as examples of the use of Western liberal practice in non-Western nations as a style of governance. Like the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD, the disintegration of the Union transpired as a result of replacing stalwart control with liberal-backed suspended governance. The legacy of Gorbachev will remain a silent reminder of a somewhat liberal Russia – one that encouraged individualism and accepted the limitations of collectivism. Yet the question persists if the overwhelming praise of Gorbachev in Western media could ever conceal the marginal ostracism that he suffered on the home front. Gorbachev’s life will remain a consequential pillar in the annals of history in the great East-West control for influence. Rest easy, Mr Gorbachev; rest easy.

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