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Why the BRICS must stop the Anglosphere

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Cecil Rhodes, the 19th century British businessman and the architect of Apartheid, once said that to be born an Englishman was to have “won first prize in the lottery of life”. On another occasion he said: “I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race.”

Due to the efforts of arch racists and colonialists such as Rhodes – who complained he could not “annex the planets” and colonise the stars because they were too far – the English race has spread around the world, forming a virtual Anglosphere.

The US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – or the E-5 – are the five countries of the Anglosphere. Post World War II they became are so closely allied and their intelligence networks so well integrated that you could say the Anglosphere is a single country spread across five separate territories.

It is well known that their militaries are well synced but few are aware that all three US Army Corps have Canadian deputy commanders. Moreover, citizens of the Anglo nations serve as important exchange or liaison officers with top US commands.

The E-5 has jointly fought in almost all modern wars – Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Their ability to stick together during conflicts is a key reason why group leader US is able to rush forces into conflict zones.

Because the US is assured of the near total acquiescence of its English speaking siblings, it provides a critical mass of support to actions undertaken by the Americans. It bears pressure on other leading western nations such as Germany and France to fall in line.

The UK, for instance, plays the role of trying to keep the Europeans in line with American policies. In a draft paper dated August 1968, the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office noted that one of its key objectives with regard to Anglo-US relations is “to ensure that the longer-term relationship between Europe (including the UK) and the United States remains as close as possible”.

In this regard, the FCO noted: “The Americans are gifted at representing American national interests as noble ideals which all should follow. Nevertheless it is very much in our and Europe’s interests to prevent the United States becoming a rogue elephant. We have to persuade all the Western Europeans, including in the long run France, that a close relationship with the United States is the only way of preventing this.”

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed the nature and extent of teamwork among the Anglosphere members. The Snowden papers show that most spying projects are carried about to assist the US and allies gather political and economic intelligence country-by-country around the world. The Five Eyes spying network – which scoops up phone, fax and email data on a global scale – has undoubtedly led to commercial, diplomatic and political benefits for all five Anglosphere members.

First among equals

Although the E-5 works closely with the wider western world – as shown in the invasions of Iraq and Libya – there are limits and boundaries within the West. Allies such as Germany, France and Italy are relegated to the status of outsiders who can’t be completely trusted and must be constantly spied on. The E-5 forms the inner circle; they are cousins; they do not spy on each other.

While taking part in a panel at the New America Foundation in March 2015, Gen Michael Hayden, a former NSA and CIA director, said only members of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance have the privileged status of America’s most intimate friends. In his opinion, other nations are shut out of that club indefinitely.

In this backdrop, it’s easy to see why non-Anglo Europeans are a target of Five Eyes spying. One of the reasons cited for continued spying against Germany is that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder “had opposed American policy in Iraq, and who seemed to have a strange and mutually productive relationship with Vladimir Putin”.

Crumbling fortress

However, the Anglosphere isn’t what it used to be. After the triumphant post-Cold War phase, in recent years there has been a palpable sense of economic and military decline in all the five English speaking countries. The rapidly growing clout of the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) group has also unnerved them.

With their old dominance gone, they can no longer write the rules of global governance any more. Whether at the United Nations, G-20 or APEC, the E-5 are finding it next to impossible to push through policies that favour the Anglosphere. While Russia and China are the heavyweights manning the frontlines, they are getting key support from other emerging powers such as India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and Argentina.

In the book America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It, Canadian author Mark Steyn sees the US and England “facing nothing so amiable and genteel as continental-style ‘decline’ but something more like sliding off a cliff”.

American arch-conservative politician and one-time presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan is horrified at the prospect of a diminished global status for the Anglosphere even as much of what was once the ‘Third World’ is roaring up the growth charts.

Buchanan’s book Suicide of a Superpower, about America’s decline, has been called racist and homophobic by critics, but it nevertheless has some grounding in reality. “America is disintegrating,” he screams. “The centrifugal forces pulling us apart are growing inexorably. What unites us is dissolving. And this is true of western civilization…. Meanwhile, the state is failing in its most fundamental duties. It is no longer able to defend our borders, balance our budgets, or win our wars.”

On the other side of the world, The Australian newspaper laments that Canberra has become Asia’s coalmine, dependent on supplying commodity exports to emerging economies such as China: “We are to be attendants to an emerging empire: providers of food, energy, resources, commodities and suppliers of services such as education, tourism, gambling/gaming, health (perhaps), and lifestyle property.”

Perhaps the tipping point – when the Anglosphere’s fear turned into panic – was Russia’s aggressive diplomacy that blocked the US from bombing Syria. This is hardly a small matter. The English speaking world was baying for President Bashar al-Assad’s blood. “Hit him hard” The Economist, the British mouthpiece, headlined.

But the Russian block – with BRICS backing – stymied those plans. The Anglosphere realised the world had changed considerably since 2003, when Saddam Hussein was overthrown, with few countries daring to protest the illegal act.

Crimea and Ukraine are two other instances where the Anglosphere finds itself isolated.

With their dominant status now a thing of the past, the Anglosphere countries are staring at the prospect of international isolation and irrelevance. This is making them close ranks. In this backdrop, the five countries of British origin have been making a number of moves towards integration.

August 19, 2014. Following days of bitter racial riots in the American city of Ferguson, Missouri, the state’s Lt. Governor Peter Kinder lashed out at the rioters for seeking justice in the streets, and bizarrely demanded “Anglo American” justice. “One of the great advances of Anglo-American civilisation is we do not have politicised trials,” he declared.

May 20, 2014. The UK government announced that the US, UK, Australia and Canada are establishing combined space operations among their armed forces. “Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States have furthered their defence cooperation by establishing a partnership on combined space operations,” it said.

January 14, 2014. Canada’s defence department announced the formal signing of a long-term partnership with the US Department of Defence. Among other things “this partnership permits the Canadian Space Operations Centre to coordinate and share unclassified information and data in support of government agencies”.

November 21, 2013. The US Air Force Space Command announced it would relocate a tracking radar from Antigua to Australia. It would also deploy a new DARPA-developed optical telescope there. The telescope is especially useful for monitoring geosynchronous orbit where major spy satellites are located.

September 24, 2012. Britain and Canada announced they will establish joint diplomatic missions and share embassy offices abroad. The proposals involve ‘co-locating’ embassies and sharing consular services in countries where one of the nations does not have an embassy. Australia and New Zealand already have such an arrangement in place.

These developments are part of a growing trend where the Anglosphere is closing ranks to form a more cohesive unit to increase their weight in global affairs. Considering the US is still a very large economy and its military power projection capability is unmatched, there is a good chance the group could bounce back.

Checkmating the E-5 revival

The great rival of the war-obsessed Anglosphere was the Russian-led Soviet Union, which is now history. That leaves the BRICS as the only group with the ability to take on the Anglosphere. For, as surely as day follows night, the Anglos will come swinging back.

So it is imperative that somebody be in a position to stop the E-5 from trampling on small countries and destabilising larger ones. The good news is Russia and China are strongly committed to the BRICS becoming a more political group. Brazil – ever since Snowden revealed the US was spying on Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff – is also bitterly opposed to the US.

The problem country seems to be India. Earlier this year, it signed a $2.5 billion helicopter deal with the US, which had in December 2013 publicly arrested an Indian woman diplomat and then conducted a shameful – and unnecessary – cavity search on her.

Despite its involvement in the BRICS, India sometimes acts like a fence sitter. One explanation for India’s behaviour is two centuries of brainwashing and Anglicising. Only a brainwashed person could have said what India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in 2005: “If there is one phenomenon on which the sun cannot set, it is the world of the English-speaking peoples, in which the people of Indian origin are the single largest component.”

Like Singh, there are plenty of Indians suffering from delusions of Anglosphere goodness, and are prone to make such shameful and factually wrong statements. The good news is they are growing old and will disappear soon. The bad news is the Anglosphere can dangle carrots – such as university education, jobs, green cards etc – before the young generation.

The best defence against the Anglosphere’s re-emergence is for the BRICS to stick together. As they have shown in recent crises such as Crimea, Ukraine and Syria, this rainbow coalition can stop the Anglosphere elites. To be more effective, the BRICS must coalesc e into a political union and join their military forces to form a rapid reaction force. The Anglosphere can only beat small nations to pulp so a militarised BRICS isn’t a bad idea at all.

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Americas

Hardened US and Iranian positions question efficacy of parties’ negotiating tactics

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The United States and Iran seem to be hardening their positions in advance of a resumption of negotiations to revive a 2015 international nuclear agreement once Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes office in early August.

Concern among supporters of the agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program which former US President Donald J. Trump abandoned in 2018 may be premature but do raise questions about the efficacy of the negotiating tactics of both parties.

These tactics include the Biden administration’s framing of the negotiations exclusively in terms of the concerns of the West and its Middle Eastern allies rather than also as they relate to Iranian fears, a failure by both the United States and Iran to acknowledge that lifting sanctions is a complex process that needs to be taken into account in negotiations, and an Iranian refusal to clarify on what terms the Islamic republic may be willing to discuss non-nuclear issues once the nuclear agreement has been revived.

The differences in the negotiations between the United States and Iran are likely to be accentuated if and when the talks resume, particularly concerning the mechanics of lifting sanctions.

“The challenges facing the JCPOA negotiations are a really important example of how a failed experience of sanctions relief, as we had in Iran between the Obama and Trump admins, can cast a shadow over diplomacy for years to come, making it harder to secure US interests,” said Iran analyst Esfandyar Batmanghelidj referring to the nuclear accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, by its initials.

The Biden administration may be heeding Mr. Batmangheldij’s notion that crafting sanctions needs to take into account the fact that lifting them can be as difficult as imposing them as it considers more targeted additional punitive measures against Iran. Those measures would aim to hamper Iran’s evolving capabilities for precision strikes using drones and guided missiles by focusing on the providers of parts for those weapon systems, particularly engines and microelectronics.

To be sure, there is no discernable appetite in either Washington or Tehran to adjust negotiation tactics and amend their underlying assumptions. It would constitute a gargantuan, if not impossible challenge given the political environment in both capitals. That was reflected in recent days in Iranian and US statements.

Iranian Spiritual Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that agreement on the revival of the nuclear accord was stumbling over a US demand that it goes beyond the terms of the original accord by linking it to an Iranian willingness to discuss its ballistic missiles program and support for Arab proxies.

In a speech to the cabinet of outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, he asserted that the West “will try to hit us everywhere they can and if they don’t hit us in some place, it’s because they can’t… On paper and in their promises, they say they’ll remove sanctions. But they haven’t lifted them and won’t lift them. They impose conditions…to say in future Iran violated the agreement and there is no agreement” if Iran refuses to discuss regional issues or ballistic missiles.

Iranian officials insist that nothing can be discussed at this stage but a return by both countries to the nuclear accord as is. Officials, distrustful of US intentions, have hinted that an unconditional and verified return to the status quo ante may help open the door to talks on missiles and proxies provided this would involve not only Iranian actions and programs but also those of America’s allies.

Mr. Khamenei’s remarks seemed to bolster suggestions that once in office Mr. Raisi would seek to turn the table on the Biden administration by insisting on stricter verification and US implementation of its part of a revived agreement.

To achieve this, Iran is expected to demand the lifting of all rather than some sanctions imposed or extended by the Trump administration; verification of the lifting;  guarantees that the lifting of sanctions is irreversible, possibly by making any future American withdrawal from the deal contingent on approval by the United Nations Security Council; and iron-clad provisions to ensure that obstacles to Iranian trade are removed, including the country’s unfettered access to the international financial system and the country’s overseas accounts.

Mr. Khamenei’s remarks and Mr. Raisi’s anticipated harder line was echoed in warnings by US officials that the ascendancy of the new president would not get Iran a better deal. The officials cautioned further that there could be a point soon at which it would no longer be worth returning to because Iran’s nuclear program would have advanced to the point where the limitations imposed by the agreement wouldn’t produce the intended minimum one year ‘breakout time’ to produce enough enriched uranium for a bomb.

“We are committed to diplomacy, but this process cannot go on indefinitely. At some point, the gains achieved by the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) cannot be fully recovered by a return to the JCPOA if Iran continues the activities that it’s undertaken with regard to its nuclear program…The ball remains in Iran’s court, and we will see if they’re prepared to make the decisions necessary to come back into compliance,” US Secretary Antony Blinken said this week on a visit to Kuwait.

Another US official suggested that the United States and Iran could descend into a tug-of-war on who has the longer breath and who blinks first. It’s a war that so far has not produced expected results for the United States and in which Iran has paid a heavy price for standing its ground.

The official said that a breakdown in talks could “look a lot like the dual-track strategy of the past—sanctions pressure, other forms of pressure, and a persistent offer of negotiations. It will be a question of how long it takes the Iranians to come to the idea they will not wait us out.”

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Wendy Sherman’s China visit takes a terrible for the US turn

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Photo: Miller Center/ flickr

US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, had high hopes for the meeting in China. At first, the Chinese side did not agree to hold the meeting at all. The reaction had obvious reasons: Antony Blinken’s fiasco in Alaska left the Chinese disrespected and visibly irritated. This is not why they travelled all the way.

So then the State Department had the idea of sending Wendy Sherman instead. The US government actually needs China more than China needs the US. Sherman was in China to actually prepare the ground for Biden and a meeting between the two presidents, expecting a red carpet roll for Biden as if it’s still the 2000s — the time when it didn’t matter how the US behaved. Things did not go as expected.

Instead of red carpet talk, Sherman heard Dua Lipa’s “I got new rules”. 

That’s right — the Chinese side outlined three bottom lines warning the US to respect its system, development and sovereignty and territorial integrity. In other words, China wants to be left alone.

The bottom lines were not phrased as red lines. This was not a military conflict warning. This was China’s message that if any future dialogue was to take place, China needs to be left alone. China accused the US of creating an “imaginary enemy”. I have written about it before — the US is looking for a new Cold War but it doesn’t know how to start and the problem is that the other side actually holds all the cards

That’s why the US relies on good old militarism with an expansion into the Indo-Pacific, while aligning everyone against China but expecting the red carpet and wanting all else in the financial and economic domains to stay the same. The problem is that the US can no longer sell this because there are no buyers. Europeans also don’t want to play along.

The headlines on the meeting in the US press are less flattering than usual. If the US is serious about China policy it has to be prepared to listen to much more of that in the future. And perhaps to, yes, sit down and be humble.

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Americas

Why Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer

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When Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed up on the scene as White House Press Secretary, the reaction was that of relief. Finally — someone civil, normal, friendly. Jen Psaki’s entry this year was something similar. People were ready for someone well-spoken, well-mannered, even friendly as a much welcome change from the string of liars, brutes or simply disoriented people that the Trump Administration seemed to be lining up the press and communications team with on a rolling basis. After all, if the face of the White House couldn’t keep it together for at least five minutes in public, what did that say about the overall state of the White House behind the scenes?

But Psaki’s style is not what the American media and public perceive it to be. Her style is almost undetectable to the general American public to the point that it could look friendly and honest to the untrained eye or ear. Diplomatic or international organization circles are perhaps better suited to catch what’s behind the general mannerism. Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer, but a Sean Spicer nevertheless. I actually think she will do much better than him in Dancing With The Stars. No, in fact, she will be fabulous at Dancing With The Stars once she gets replaced as White House Press Secretary.

So let’s take a closer look. I think what remains undetected by the general American media is veiled aggression and can easily pass as friendliness. Psaki recently asked a reporter who was inquiring about the Covid statistics at the White House why the reporter needed that information because Psaki simply didn’t have that. Behind the brisk tone was another undertone: the White House can’t be questioned, we are off limits. But it is not and that’s the point. 

Earlier, right at the beginning in January, Psaki initially gave a pass to a member of her team when the Politico stunner reporter story broke out. The reporter was questioning conflict of interest matters, while the White House “stud” was convinced it was because he just didn’t chose her, cursing her and threatening her. Psaki sent him on holidays. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Psaki has a level of aggression that’s above average, yet she comes across as one of the most measured and reasonable White House Press Secretaries of the decade. And that’s under pressure. But being able to mask that level of deflection is actually not good for the media because the media wants answers. Style shouldn’t (excuse the pun) trump answers. And being able to get away smoothly with it doesn’t actually serve the public well. Like that time she just walked away like it’s not a big deal. It’s the style of “as long as I say thank you or excuse me politely anything goes”. But it doesn’t. And the American public will need answers to some questions very soon. Psaki won’t be able to deliver that and it would be a shame to give her a pass just because of style.

I think it’s time that we start seeing Psaki as a veiled Sean Spicer. And that Dancing with the Stars show — I hope that will still run despite Covid.

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