The Soviet Union contributed more than did any other nation to the defeats of Germany and Japan in World War II, but America and Britain together defeated Italy. Many prominent Western ‘historians’ white-out the Soviet roles in defeating Hitler and especially Hirohito, and they overstate the importance of America’s victories to the ultimate outcome, and ignore or underplay Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s strong rejection and repudiation of Winston Churchill’s imperialistic agenda, not only for a continuation of empires, but for a continued postwar exploitation of colonies, as being acceptable goals for the future. Those ‘historians’ are actually propagandists — no real historians, at all — because they fundamentally misrepresent; yet they dominate in the ‘historical’ profession, and they have produced in the U.S. and in its allies a widespread and profoundly warped ‘history’ of the war and of its aftermath, and of Twentieth-Century history, and of our own time. This ‘historical’ distortion has continued even after 1991 (it even accelerated) when the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia ended only on the Russian side, but not actually on the U.S. side. These ‘historical’ lies accelerated because ‘historians’ continue, even today, to hide this crucial fact, that the U.S. side of the Cold War secretly continued — and still does continue — to try to conquer Russia. Ever since the time of America’s vile, bloody and illegal actual coup against Ukraine in February 2014 onward, Russia has been responding increasingly. This is especially so because of yet another American-and-allied aggression against a nation that has cooperative arrangements with Russia, Syria, 2012-. The purveyors of fake ‘news’ and fake ‘history’ display the gall to cry foul and to lie and allege that Russia’s necessary defensive actions against America’s aggressions are, instead, themselves, aggressions, to which America and its vassal-nations have the right to respond, and should respond, by what then would actually be yet more aggressions (violations of international law) — instead of to quit its string of aggressions, and to apologize, not only for the aggressions, but also for the lies, that the U.S. regime and its propagandists have been perpetrating, against Russia, and against nations that cooperate with Russia. The reality has been that U.S. foreign policy is, and has been, driven by one overriding and obsessive goal for a hundred years: first, to conquer any nation that’s friendly with Russia, and thereby to isolate Russia internationally; and, then, finally, to grab Russia itself. This entire U.S. geostrategy is based upon lies.
The ‘Historical’ Lies, V. The Historical Truths
According to the standard accounts, the Cold War ended on both sides in 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved, and its communism ended, and its Warsaw Pact (the military alliance that the U.S.S.R. had created in response to America’s having created the NATO military alliance against the Soviet Union) all ended. But, secretly, the Cold War continued on the U.S. side, and with the same (and now blatantly) imperialist goal of ultimately conquering Russia and China, so as to establish the first-ever all-encompassing global empire. Whereas Franklin Delano Roosevelt had set up the U.N. so as to evolve into a global democracy of nations — a democratic federal republic encompassing all nations — his successor, Harry S. Truman quickly became deceived by Winston S. Churchill and Dwight David Eisenhower to believe that the Soviet Union was trying to take over the entire world, and so Truman promptly abandoned FDR’s vision and initiated instead the permanent-warfare U.S., the military-industrial-complex-ruled U.S., which relegated the U.N. to a secondary role, as a mere mediator for global diplomacy, not as the international lawmaker that FDR had hoped it would ultimately evolve into. FDR’s dream and intention, of establishing a system of international laws functioning as the all-encompassing global democratic federal democracy in which all nations are represented, became thwarted, almost as soon as he died, when the Deep-State U.S. military-industrial complex that’s run behind the scenes by the controlling owners of America’s top weapons-manufacturing firms took hold.
After WW II, the U.S. Government secretly aspired — and still does aspire — to rule over the entire world, including especially over Russia and China. George Herbert Walker Bush told Robert Sheer in the 24 January 1980 Los Angeles Times and in Scheer’s 1982 book With Enough Shovels, page 29, that in a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the U.S., the “winner in a nuclear exchange” would be whichever side is stronger than the other at the war’s end; and, so, for Bush, nuclear weapons didn’t exist in order to avoid a nuclear conflict, but instead in order to “win” it. This also is the reason why, on the night of 24 February 1990, Bush secretly told West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to ignore the promises that Bush’s team were making to Gorbachev, that NATO would not be expanded “one inch to the east” (i.e., not extended right up to Russia’s border) if Gorbachev ends the Cold War. Bush, in confidence, told Kohl “To hell with that! We prevailed, they didn’t.” And he also secretly told French President Francois Mitterrand to pursue no “kind of pan-European alliance” (i.e., alliance that includes Russia) because, actually, total conquest of Russia remains the U.S.-and-allied goal. This view — that the goal is control over Russia — became firmly established in U.S. Government policy by no later than 2006 when Bush’s son was the President and the phrase “Nuclear Primacy” (the ability to “win” a nuclear war against Russia) became used in order to refer to America’s geostrategic goal.
Part of that scam by ’The West’ (the emergent American empire) has been the ongoing ‘historical’ lie that the Allied victory in WW II was mainly an American and British affair, and not mainly a Soviet one. Another part of it is that the Soviet Union had started the Cold War; and yet a third part is that the Cold War was about ideology (communism versus capitalism) instead of about the U.S. regime’s goal of ultimately conquering Russia and China so as to achieve the world’s first and only full global and unchallengeable empire.
The excuse for all of this was always the allegation that global empire is Russia’s goal and that the U.S. therefore needs to win the nuclear war when it ultimately happens. But Russia, and its prior USSR, always did maintain, and still does maintain, as actual Government policy (not just mere verbiage, such as in America after 1980) the belief in “MAD” or Mutually Assured Destruction — the idea that any nuclear war between the two superpowers will destroy the entire planet and therefore produce no winners whatsoever — no winner but only nuclear winter — regardless of which side might temporarily emerge the stronger while nuclear winter and resulting global famine soon destroy all life on Earth after that nuclear exchange. Russia is not (like America is) aiming to take over the planet. The fact that the U.S. regime is trying to take over the planet has shocked even America’s top geostrategic scientists. The ‘historians’ hide all of this, so as to continue the myth that in the U.S.-Russia relationship, Russia is and has been the aggressor, and America the defender — instead of vice-versa, which is, and has been, the historical reality.
A rare, early, excellent, and honest, Western history of the immediate post-WW-II world, was the libertarian William Henry Chamberlin’s 1950 book America’s Second Crusade. Its earnest author — a disenchanted former socialist who once had trusted Stalin’s goodwill but was dismayed now to find Stalin to be America’s enemy as well as an unforgivable tyrant to the nation he led — opened by saying “My book is an attempt to examine without prejudice or favor the question why the peace was lost while the war was being won.” He was struggling to understand how and why and when the Cold War started, but unfortunately, some key documents, in order to become enabled to understand that, had not yet become public. A crucial passage in his book that reflected state-of-the-art historical writing in 1950 but certainly not today, asserted:
Stalin’s diplomatic masterpiece was his promotion, through his pact with Hitler, of a war from which he hoped to remain aloof. [FALSE: Stalin knew that the Soviet Union was Hitler’s main target to attack, and he was terrified of that]
This attractive dream of watching the capitalist world tear itself to pieces and then stepping in to collect the fragments was shattered by Hitler’s attack in June 1941. [FALSE: that war between U.S.S.R and Germany was already baked-in in 1939; and it was Stalin’s nightmare — not his “dream.”]
Chamberlin thought that Stalin had made with Hitler the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact because Stalin had wanted to join with Hitler in taking over the entire world — i.e., for aggression, instead of for defense; i.e., instead of so as to protect the U.S.S.R. from becoming invaded by Hitler (which defensive motivation actually is what obsessed Stalin). Chamberlin thus wrote approvingly of “Churchill’s scheme which would have limited the extent of Soviet conquest.” Chamberlin thought that the ideological conflict (to the extent that there actually was one in the Cold War) was between communism versus capitalism, not between fascism versus non-fascism (which it was, and still is).
Here are the facts, which have been revealed by the making-public of archives as of 2008 and subsequently:
On 18 October 2008, Britain’s Telegraph bannered “Stalin ‘planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed pact’” and buried the core revelation, that Stalin prior to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact recognized Hitler’s determination to conquer the Soviet Union and he had, on 15 August 1939, urged British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to accept the U.S.S.R. as an ally in their mutual war to defeat Hitler; but Chamberlain refused, and so Stalin reached out to Hitler for an agreement with him to a dividing-line between those two countries’ (Germany’s and U.S.S.R.’s) essential areas of control for each one’s national security. Poland especially was a worry to both of them, because Poland had had territorial conflicts with both Germany and the Soviet Union. Thus was signed on 23 August 1939 the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, which split Poland between both countries.
The Versalles Treaty at the end of WW I had handed to Poland what had been German territory that through most of prior history had been Polish territory. Hitler was elected into power in 1933 vowing to abandon that Treaty and to restore, to German rule, that part of Poland.
As regards Poland’s conflicts with Russia: Poland had invaded Moscow during 1605-18, before Russia responded by both military and diplomatic means to virtually conquer Poland into becoming a colony of Russia, which it remained almost uninterruptedly until 1939, when the Hitler-Stalin agreement — the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact — restored part of Poland to the Soviet Union, but handed the other part of Poland to Germany.
Stalin, having been spurned by Chamberlain (who held his own imperialistic intentions — he was as imperialistic as were the fascists: Hitler, Hirohito, and Mussolini), had actually no other option in 1939 than to reach a peace-agreement with Hitler, so as to avoid having the Soviet Union become swallowed up by the capitalist countries — first by Germany, and then by whatever countries would finally win the coming World War (presumably, likewise Germany).
This is why the historian Chamberlin’s claim that Stalin’s “dream” of imperialist expansion “was shattered by Hitler’s attack in June 1941” is false: Stalin’s necessity for the U.S.S.R. to be granted enough time, to prepare for Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa invasion against it (which ended up starting on 22 June 1941), caused the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact to become signed on 23 August 1939, which signing sparked both of its signatories to promptly invade Poland and start the active phase of WW II on 1 September 1939, both countries invading Poland. FDR didn’t hold that agreement against Stalin, but instead against Chamberlain, who really hated Russia and virtually forced Stalin into that Pact. Chamberlain’s goal wasn’t to get the Soviet Union onto Britain’s side but instead for a war between the Soviet Union and Germany to weaken both of them enough for a UK-U.S. alliance to take over both of them, and, ultimately, the world. FDR got Chamberlain’s successor Churchill to agree to a “United Nations” in which there would be an international democracy of nations and all military weapons and enforcement of General Assembly laws would be possessed and enforced only by “the Big Four” of U.S., UK, U.S.S.R., and China, but Churchill balked at including China because he wanted to retain control of his eastern vassal-nations. FDR agreed instead to each of the Big Four enforcing U.N. laws only within its own neighborhood, so as to prohibit friction between the Big Four — and China would enforce in East Asia and Western Pacific, which meant Britain’s freeing India, Burma, Malaya, and some other of its vassal-nations. U.S. was to enforce U.N. laws throughout the Western Hemisphere. U.S.S.R. was to do the same in eastern Europe and central Asia. UK was to do it in Western Europe. Initially, Roosevelt’s plan had been only for a U.N. consisting of this Big Four as “trustees” over other nations that are within their neighborhood, but he soon recognized the need for, as the Dumbarton Oaks founding document for the U.N. put it, on 7 October 1944, “Membership of the Organization should be open to all peace-loving states.” Also: “There should be an international court of justice which should constitute the principal judicial organ of the Organization.” And: “Each member of the Organization should have one vote in the General Assembly.” No international bill of rights was included, because the U.N. wasn’t to get involved in any nation’s internal affairs. But, then, FDR died and along came President Truman, and the U.N.’s Constitution became established on 26 June 1945, as the “Charter of the United Nations”, and it dispensed altogether with that crucial distinction; and, furthermore, the Big Four became the Five permanent Members of the Security Council, France (yet another imperialist regime) being added to the Big Four. Already, FDR’s vision was starting to become replaced by that of agents of owners of America’s ‘defense’ contractors. They needed the distinction to be abandoned so that the U.N. would become distracted away from its peace-keeping function and toward “human rights” issues that could ‘justify’ international invasions (and thus growing demand for their products). And thus we have today a toothless U.N., far from what FDR had intended. This is very profitable for the military-industrial complex and enables the U.S. regime to aspire to being, as Barack Obama claimed it already to be, “the one indispensable nation”, and every other nation therefore to be ‘dispensable’ (and consequently usable for “target-practice”).
After the 18 October 2008 article in Britain’s Telegraph, another article that is a breakthrough for historians is Randy Dotinga’s superb review (and the best summary), appearing in the 5 March 2015 Christian Science Monitor, of Susan Butler’s 2015 masterpiece, Roosevelt and Stalin: Portrait of a Partnership. (Butler’s book is based on her own prior publication, by Yale, of My Dear Mr. Stalin: The Complete Correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin.) Dotinga’s review is titled “‘Roosevelt and Stalin’ details the surprisingly warm relationship of an unlikely duo: How FDR and Stalin forged a bond that helped to shape history.” Basically, what Butler has documented (in those two books) and Dotinga accurately summarizes, is that FDR and Stalin were in agreement and FDR and Churchill were not, and that FDR was consistently a supporter of the position that no nation has a right to interfere in the internal affairs of any other nation, except when those internal affairs present a realistic threat against the national security of one’s own nation. FDR was consistently an opponent of empires, which exist not for national security but for the further enrichment of one’s own nation’s aristocracy, the owners of its international corporations — especially of its weapons-makers. (An imperial nation’s weapons-manufacturers rely upon sales to that government and to its vassals or ‘allies’, and therefore fund politicians who endorse its imperialism. Consequently: the U.N. now gets involved in the internal affairs of nations — their ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ — as constituting ‘justifications’ to authorize invasions, or “R2P,” responsibility to protect. That’s exactly opposite to FDR’s plan for the U.N., which concerned no intranational affairs, but only intranational affairs.) The negative reviews of Butler’s Roosevelt and Stalin at Amazon object to Stalin’s domestic policies but ignore what FDR was concerned with, regarding Stalin, which was international policies. It would have been foolish for FDR to have gotten into disputes with his most important ally over internal Soviet matters (but American imperialists wish that he had done so). Similarly, FDR did not think that he possessed a right to interfere in Hitler’s domestic policies (including even the extermination programs), but recognized that he had an obligation to protect the United States from Hitler’s intended conquest of the entire world. For example, FDR’s chosen mastermind for, and Truman’s designated prosecutor at, the Nuremberg Tribunals, Robert Jackson, focused mainly against the German regime’s imperialist policies, its international aggressions that really were not motivated by Germany’s national security but instead by international conquest — aggression. The Holocaust was also an important, but secondary, concern, at those tribunals. In international affairs, FDR recognized that the primary focus must be on international policies, not on intranational policies — that it must be on policies between nations, not policies within nations. He stuck to that; America’s imperialists didn’t like that. (For them, Churchill was the hero.)
As Dotinga’s review also pointedly notes:
But FDR has a huge blind spot. Up until the very end, “Roosevelt and Stalin” virtually never mentions a man who forever annoyed the Russians by declaring in 1941 that “if we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible.”
This man’s name is Harry Truman. When Roosevelt dies in 1945, just weeks after the Yalta conference, the vice president knows virtually nothing about the wartime talks and has never even spent a second inside the White House’s Map Room brain center.
Truman would learn about the nuclear bomb, which spawned an intense debate in the Roosevelt Administration about whether to mention it to the Soviets, America’s supposed allies. In fact, they’d already figured out something was up.
Despite this fault line over trust with FDR, the Soviets would later mourn a safer world they believed Roosevelt would have created if he’d lived. To them, he was a dear friend who passed away too soon.
FDR knew and respected that Stalin led the main component of the anti-Nazi team. FDR had no illusions about what immense and unnecessary suffering Stalin’s domestic policies produced, but this wasn’t FDR’s business. U.S. national security was. And FDR knew that if Hitler were to win, then America would ultimately be ruled from Berlin, and Hitler’s domestic policies, which were even worse than Stalin’s, would become also America’s domestic policies. That’s what FDR was protecting America against, and his chief international ally was Stalin — not actually Churchill (such as the fake ‘history’ — from pro-imperialists — claims).
The Democratic Party’s biggest donors chose Harry S. Truman to become FDR’s successor because they figured that he’d be able to be controlled by them, and this belief turned out to have been correct. Truman wasn’t corrupt but he was able to be fooled (self-righteously to believe what his billionaire-approved advisors told him), and this is how the Cold War began. Truman thought he had no choice — that Stalin’s regime would take over the world if America did not. He was fooled. And that’s why the OSS and its successor, the U.S. CIA and other agencies, protected and even imported or hired many ‘former’ committed Nazis, as soon as FDR died. America is now basically ruled posthumously by Hitler’s ideological heirs. Whereas some of America’s leaders, such as Barack Obama, probably do it intelligently, understanding where the supremacist and imperialist agenda comes from (the “military-industrial complex” or the nation’s most politically active billionaires), others of them, such as perhaps Donald Trump, might, like Truman was, be true-believers who have been simply fooled by them. Certainly Trump has loads of prejudices, which make him vulnerable to being manipulated without his even being aware of that. He believes what he wants to believe, and such a person is especially vulnerable to being manipulated. Obama, on the other hand, might be more of a realist than a fool. In either case, it’s the billionaires who now control the U.S. Government (and see this, with more on that).
Furthermore, there were two powerful reasons why Stalin would have been getting himself into ideological trouble amongst his own communists if he had aspired to expanding Soviet control beyond the local neighborhood of adjoining (“buffer”) nations all of which were collectively surrounded by the broader capitalist world: (1) Marx himself strongly condemned imperialism; and, (2) Stalin’s main ideological competitor within the Soviet Union was Leon Trotsky, who advocated for a rapid worldwide spread of communism, versus Stalin’s position against that, which was called “communism in one nation,” and which advocated to postpone pushing for such a spread until after communism has first become an economic success within the U.S.S.R. so that workers throughout the world would rise up to overthrow their oppressors. America’s Deep State knew all about the idiocy of casting Stalin as being an imperialist, but simply lied, in order to increase America’s own empire. They were, and are, brazen.
And this Deep State is coextensive with the EU’s, at least ever since the founding of the secret private Bilderberg network in 1954. America’s aristocracy, and the ‘ex’-Nazi Prince Bernhard and his friends, pushed for and set up the EU, in order, ultimately, to conquer Russia, not actually just to conquer the Soviet Union. On 19 September 2019, the European Parliament officially, by a vote of 535 in favor and only 66 against, blamed Stalin (along with Hitler) for World War II, and stated that today’s Russia is an extension of the U.S.S.R.’s “totalitarianism,” and they basically declared Russia to be Europe’s enemy. On October 1st, Russia officially described that action by them as “nothing but a product of the cynical, immoral and even sleazy political put-up job.”
A masterpiece of historical writing, and of historical documentaries based on it, showing in a broader perspective the history of U.S. international relations during the 20th Century, is Oliver Stone’s and Peter Kuznick’s Untold History of the United States, especially Chapter One here, and Chapter Two here. Massive though it is, it’s only truths, no lies. That’s extraordinarily rare. A masterpiece of behind-the-scenes history regarding U.S. international relations, containing stunning first-person details of the period 1943-1990 (that’s up to but not including the end of the Cold War on Russia’s side), is L. Fletcher Prouty’s JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy. Another related historical masterpiece is David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. All of this is history that was being hidden and lied-about at the time when it was being mentioned, at all, in the ‘news’ — and which still remains being lied-about in the ‘news’ and ‘history’ that dominates today, within the U.S. and its empire. The only professional historian amongst those writers was Peter Kuznick. All of the others were journalists, except for Prouty, who was a participant. One can’t reasonably trust the historical profession (nor most of the journalistic profession) in the U.S. and its empire. That’s a fact — a proven-true empirical observation — no mere speculation.
Author’s note: first posted at strategic-culture.org
From Intellectual Powerhouse to Playing Second Fiddle
A multi-ethnic, multi-religious culture built Spain into an intellectual powerhouse so much so that after the reconquesta scholars from various parts of Europe flocked there to translate the scientific and philosophical works from classical Arabic into Latin triggering the European renaissance.
But soon there were other changes. The Holy Office of the Inquisition was born. Muslim dress, Arab names and the Arabic language were outlawed. A new inferior class of people emerged – Moriscos. They were Muslims who had converted to Catholicism under threat, usually of exile and loss of property. Many of course continued to practice Islam in secret.
Discrimination and mistreatment led to Morisco rebellions which were crushed. Eventually they were forced into internal exile to the northern provinces of Extremadura, La Mancha and New Castile where there was greater tolerance particularly in La Mancha.
In Toledo, the area around the cathedral gained fame as an informal school of translators. Often Morisco, these translators’ services were available to scholars or others requiring translation of Arabic texts. It is here that the narrator of Cervantes’ epic Don Quixote of La Mancha finds a translator for an Arabic manuscript, a supposedly historical account of Don Quixote’s adventures. The author of the fictional text is Cide Hamete Benengeli, a name that is clearly of a Morisco. If Spain was busy making Moriscos a non-people, Cervantes was reminding them of their heritage.
In 1492 when the last Arab Emirate (Grenada) was relinquished to Catholic Spain the treaty signed promised Muslims the right to their way of life in perpetuity. Their Catholic Majesties Ferdinand II and Isabella I soon reneged on the deal. Restrictions, internal exile, discrimination and forced conversions were the result. But even the converted were not safe. As Ottoman power expanded to the Mediterranean, Spain felt threatened. Morisco loyalty became suspect and in the early 17th century they were expelled from Spain as were the Jews. So ended 900 years of coexistence, fruitful and friendly that changed to suspicions and final expulsion under Catholic Spain.
And what of Spain? Having lost its intellectual dynamism, it took its brand of intolerant Christianity to the Americas and added it to European diseases to which the people there had no immunity. A devastated but Christianized population was the result. Time and immigration have changed demographics. A majority of Argentines for example have Italian ancestry; German influence in Chile which encouraged immigration from there in the 19th century is another example.
Our own Ferdinand and Isabella composite resides in the White House with a good chance he will not next year. Life will go on and people will continue to practice the religion of their birth or choice.
The 17+1 Framework between China and Europe
In March 2019, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang made a long trip to Eastern Europe.
The reference for that trip, full of bilateral meetings, was the one found in the Joint Declaration of the EU-China Summit of April 9, 2019.
A document in which, as usual, some key points are stated: firstly, the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which reaffirms global strategic multilateralism, as well as “sustainable development” – whatever we may mean with this term – but in which, however, the EU reaffirms its One-China policy.
It also reaffirms support to the EU-China Cyber Task Force; the strengthening of the Addis Ababa Action Force; the funding to the joint migration agency; the will to achieve a global and inclusive economy; support to the Joint WTO Reform Group and further support to the G20; the joint action for the “Global Forum on Excess Steel Excess capacity”, as well as the reform of the international financial system and the review for the new IMF quotas; the “Paris Climate Agreement” and its Montreal Protocol; the Blue Partnership for the Oceans.
With regard to foreign policy – as if everything else were not- reference is explicitly made to the support of both players, namely EU and China, for the 2015 nuclear JCPOA with Iran. Also the peace process in Afghanistan is mentioned, as well as Venezuela.
In this list of bilateral issues there is also the request for a peaceful and democratic solution for Kabul.
Not to mention – of course – the Law of the Sea and finally the situation in Myanmar.
An encyclopedia of very important international topics, which are only proclaimed and mentioned as headings. But, as far as I know, not even in confidential talks they have gone beyond the good intentions with which, as we all know, the road to hell is paved.
In that Summit, tension could be easily perceived.
China wanted to have the EU on its side, at a time of maximum trade tension with the United States, while the EU had increasing doubts about the extension – the so-called 17+1 Framework – of the Belt and Road Initiative to the Balkans and former Yugoslavia.
It should be recalled that Italy, Hungary, Greece and Portugal broke EU unity towards China at that time.
Was it just a signal to the EU? Or a well-considered choice based on the fact that the EU was a technocrat structure operating side by side with Member States – as Germany said – but did not replace them? We do not know yet.
What is certain, however, is that the Chinese seduction towards the Mediterranean and Eastern EU is based on two facts: the U.S. slow disengagement from the NATO EU pillar, regardless of its future president, and China’s awareness that it has to deal with an EU which is now a “paper tiger”.
Nevertheless, China carried out an even more practical operation, at least following the Confucian logic: the support for a Belt and Road network, namely the “16+1 Framework of cooperation with countries in Central and Eastern Europe” -which is celebrating its eight anniversary -to which Greece joined.
The meeting about which we are talking took place in Dubrovnik in April 2019.
The logic of the Chinese Framework is to be closely related with the “Three Seas Initiative” of 2016, an EU initiative in which China simply participated.
As stated above, at the time Greece joined the group.
The Framework, however, had been created in Budapest in 2012 to foster cooperation between the (then) 16 European countries plus China, based on the new Chinese Silk Road and investment in infrastructure, with a view to creating the China-Europe land and sea express line.
Besides Greece, the European countries participating in the Framework are the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Among the current participants, 16 are EU Member States, five are members of the Euro area, four are candidates for participating in the single currency and one is even a potential EU Member State.
From the geopolitical viewpoint, China has built an ad hoc format basically within the EU, a mechanism that minimizes the risks of crisis in the Eurozone, creates an autonomous area of interest for China and can even create a Chinese mainmise within the EU, which could also undermine its future development – if any.
The Chinese consortium managing the operation is the China-Road and Bridge Corporation, a subsidiary of the China Communication Construction Company– a company included in the Fortune 500 list.
The Eastern European countries’ underlying idea was to use Chinese support to stimulate their development but, in a document of the Czech government, it is pointed out that the bilateral commitments are now scarcely honoured.
This is due to the coronavirus and the ongoing financial crisis in European countries, as well as to an often high debt burden on the Chinese side.
The EU, however, has changed its political and economic approach towards China – rather quickly considering its normal standards.
In January 2019, in fact, a paper was published by the Federation of German Industries (BDI), which defined China as a “systemic investor” and asked the EU to make its rules and regulations stricter in view of competing with China and protect its companies.
This was followed in March 2019 by a document from the European External Action Service, the Brussels-based structure that believes it is a secret service – often with comical results.
The document told us it was necessary a) to strengthen relations with China, albeit carefully, in view of promoting common interests at global level; b) to control Chinese investment in the EU, on an equal footing (fat chance) and c) to push China towards a “sustainable” economy.
A psycholinguist should still help us to investigate into the effects of the word “global” in the minds of current political leaders.
The document also informed us that the EU should seek a more robust and, above all, mutual relationship at economic level.
Finally, it was maintained- coincidentally – that the countries of the 17+1 Framework should operate in a homogeneous relationship with EU laws. We can rest assured they will do so.
Then there was the same old story about “human rights” and the obvious “sustainable” development, not to mention climate change, China’s claims on the South China Sea which, we imagined, would be pursued with or without the EU “fine souls”, as well as the request for a connection between China and the EU in Eastern Europe – apart from the 17+1 Framework – which would be anyway pursued until China saw its interest, and finally the substantial repetition of the above stated China-EU agreement of 2019.
Just to avoid remaining in an imaginary world, we should recall here a very useful Machiavellian concept: “There is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of others”.
Not to mention that “States are not ruled and maintained with words”.
What is the solution to the dilemma? In all likelihood, the EU has had a very strong warning from the United States, and is trying to bridle, slow down and restrict its relations with China.
With reference to the 5G, a key issue for the United States, the European Commission has signalled a series of “necessary measures”.
The EU document tells us that the 5G network is very important – just what we needed – and that the Union also supports competition and the global market. It then lists the European agencies that deal with it.
Finally, the solution for the EU is to foster cybersecurity “through the diversity of suppliers when building the network”.
It should be recalled that Japan signed an agreement with the EU on the same issues in September 2019.
Everything will be known, however, once the EU’s foreign investment screening mechanism has provided its results, considering that it was launched on April 10, 2019 and will be implemented by October 11, 2020.
It is connected to the Commission’s Communication “A New Industrial Strategy for Europe” which maintains that “we need a new way of doing business in Europe” and that this must “reflect our values and social market traditions”.
It also states that “our industrial strategy is entrepreneurial in spirit and action” but also that “scalability is fundamental in the digitalised economy” – and this is another key point for us.
An essential topic, but left on the sidelines.
Let us leave aside the other banalities and trivialities typical of the 1968 protesters newly converted to the market economy.
Obviously the new Agency will have the following aims: to create a “cooperation mechanism between the European Commission and the Member States to exchange information” – as if it were not already in place – to enable the Commission to make an evaluation (obviously a non-mandatory one) to stop the operations concerning any foreign investment- albeit is not clear whether for SMEs or otherwise – to be authorized by the Member States to “comment” on foreign investment in the EU; to list a sequence – albeit not exhaustive – of foreign investment sectors that could trigger an analysis by this very powerful organization: critical infrastructure and technology, critical inputs, access to personal data and finally guarantee of media pluralism – that has little to do with it, but “anything goes” and every little bit helps.
That is all, so far.
In December 2015, China set up the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force(PLASSF), the structure of the Chinese Armed Forces dealing with cyberwarfare, space warfare and electronic operations. Has the EU something similar?
Obviously not. Furthermore, NATO has a cyber-defence policy, defined at the Wales Summit of September 2014 and at the Warsaw Summit of 2016. But it has no joint agency for cyber policy, which is not only defence, but also attack.
Gas Without a Fight: Is Turkey Ready to Go to War for Resources in the Mediterranean?
Active exploration of gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean has boosted the region’s importance for the local powers. Most European states depend on imports of energy resources, which means that taking hold of new gas sources is an important element for strengthening their energy security and diversifying their sources of hydrocarbon supplies.
Currently, Greece, Cyprus, France, and Italy are among the main players that have divided up the known and future gas deposits in the Mediterranean among themselves. All these states are EU members. We should add that other EU states also indirectly benefit from new resources, even if they do not have immediate access to gas deposits. They will, however, gain an opportunity to diversify their gas imports and distribute their hydrocarbon dependency among a greater number of suppliers.
The discovery of a new treasure trove of hydrocarbons often produces not only profits, but also additional problems since natural resources frequently turn into a source of conflict. The case of the Eastern Mediterranean is no exception, as another power has staked its claim to a share of the region’s resources, a power that had officially received no piece of the gas “pie” that the European states had divided up among themselves. This power is Turkey, which has decided to actively explore the gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean and has also visibly increased its military presence in the region. Over the last few months, Turkish and Greek warships have been involved in several dangerous incidents, with both parties declaring their readiness to open fire at a pinch. Ankara has also warned that it would “not back down” in a potential confrontation. Like Greece, Turkey has already held military manoeuvres in the region.
Why does Turkey need the gas deposits of the Mediterranean? Today, Ankara is forced to import most of the gas it needs. According to 2016 data, imported gas accounts for 99 per cent of Turkey’s total gas consumption. Most of this gas (over 50 per cent) is purchased from Russia, with Iran, Azerbaijan, Algeria, and Nigeria being among Turkey’s other important suppliers. Multibillion natural resource purchases are a heavy burden on Turkey’s struggling economy. Its GDP has been stagnating since 2017, with a growth of just 0.877 per cent in 2019, compared to over 7 per cent two years ago . These negative trends have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. It has been a particularly painful time for Turkey, as the country has had to deal with the consequences of the lockdown, the partial suspension of economic activities and a sharp drop in tourist flows, which have always been an important source of revenues for Ankara. The timing of the shortened 2020 holiday season could not have been worse for Turkey. According to official data from the Turkish government, by June 2020, Turkey’s GDP had dropped by 9.9 per cent compared with the previous quarter.
It is extremely important under such circumstances that Turkey finds new energy sources: the gas deposits in the Mediterranean will lift the overwhelming burden on the country’s budget and give its weakened economy room to breathe. In such a situation, decreasing dependence on gas imports could be posited as the short-term goal. In the long term, Turkey intends to become a net gas exporter, which will require huge gas deposits, including those outside the Mediterranean.
Fighting for resources fits well into Recep Erdogan’s “neo-Ottoman” foreign policy concept that envisions a Turkey that is more willing to engage in confrontation with Western powers. Additionally, the “neo-Ottoman doctrine” entails bolstering Turkey’s regional influence—and gaining new resources in the Mediterranean fits well within this task.
International Legal Conflicts within the Dispute
Ankara’s problem is that the formal provisions of the law of the sea do not allow Turkey to explore and develop potential and known gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean. The situation, however, is complicated by the fact that the law of the sea, like any other international legal norms, has understandable problems in terms of compliance. Additionally, the provisions of the law of the sea are very complex, and different states frequently interpret them differently, which is true for both Turkey and Greece. For instance, Turkey is actively exploring gas deposits in the Aegean Sea, although legally it does not have the right to do this: under the law of the sea, virtually all of the Aegean Sea belongs to Greece’s exclusive economic zone due to a chain of Greek islands that are closer to Turkey’s coasts than to continental Greece itself. Ankara, however, insists that the islands should not be taken into account when determining exclusive economic zones, which has created the first international legal conflict in the dispute.
The second conflict pertains to another stretch of the Mediterranean between Italy and Libya. Turkey has staked its claim to this stretch, citing its agreement with Libya’s Government of National Accord. The problem is that the GNA does not control all of Libya’s territory, which could put a question mark over the government’s legitimacy. On the other hand, the GNA enjoys international recognition, a fact that Turkey repeatedly stresses.
Another case is connected with gas deposits closer to the coasts of Cyprus. Turkey does not recognize Cyprus; it only recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (it is the only country to do so). Consequently, Ankara views exploring and developing gas deposits in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus as a violation of Turkey’s rights. In the meantime, the colossal Calypso gas deposit that was discovered off the coast of Cyprus in 2018 is one of the main bones of contention in the present energy dispute.
The Role of the European Union and Individual European Stakeholders
From the very outset, Brussels supported Greece and condemned Ankara’s aggressive actions. However, the European Union is not entirely homogeneous in its attitude to the dispute. Firstly, some of its members are locked in a confrontation with Turkey, such as Greece and Cyprus, and their stance in unequivocal. There are stakeholder states, such as France and Italy, two European Mediterranean powers that also have an interest in the region’s gas deposits. Their oil and gas companies, France’s Total, and Italy’s Eni, have already bought shares in the discovered Mediterranean gas reserves and made relevant arrangements with Athens and Nicosia. In the standoff between Greece and Turkey, Paris and Rome are solidly behind Greece. Moreover, France has not limited itself to rhetoric, and has sent warships to the Eastern Mediterranean, thus demonstrating its willingness to support the Hellenic Navy in a critical situation. This is a particularly important step, since it entails a radical shift in the military balance of power within the dispute.
Out of all the EU member states, particular mention should be made of Germany, which has a special connection with Turkey and currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Tellingly, Berlin also sided with Greece, although, unlike France, it has been far more restrained in its conduct. Germany did not send its Navy to the region. Berlin’s principal message is the need for dialogue between the opposing parties and a détente in the conflict. This is Germany’s typical foreign policy stance since it prefers to avoid exerting pressure by force. Additionally, Germany has no additional incentives within the dispute since it stakes no claim to the resources of the Mediterranean.
As for the European Union in general, the overall support for Greece is easy to explain. Brussels proceeds from the official provisions of the law of the sea and, unlike Turkey, it recognizes Cyprus and, consequently, the right of Athens and Nicosia to the gas deposits. In the long term, this new source of gas could help stabilize the European Union and serve as a safety net in the event of a crisis. It was not that long ago that the global financial crisis and the subsequent Eurozone troubles, which hit Greece especially hard, almost resulted in Athens defaulting and withdrawing from the European Union—a fact that could have set a very dangerous precedent and entailed a chain reaction in other Eurozone states with major financial woes (such as Italy). With this is mind, European politicians may very well count on the fact that the revenues from developing the gas fields will help keep the Greek economy on an even keel and insure both Athens and Brussels against possible new economic shocks. We should keep in mind here that the European Union had to establish a financial aid programme and spend significant funds to save Greece from bankruptcy.
Additionally, as we have already mentioned, the new source of gas will allow many EU countries to diversify their energy suppliers and thus to boost their energy security.
How Likely is the Dispute to Turn into a “Hot” Conflict?
Despite several critical incidents, an open conflict over the gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean is not particularly likely, mostly due to the forces being unequal. Turkey has found itself almost completely isolated, and the only agreement Ankara can rely on has been achieved with Libya’s unstable Government of National Accord. On the other side, there is an entire coalition of states, with Greece and France having already held joint military exercises.
France’s military intervention radically changes the balance of power. Turkey’s Navy is larger and stronger than Greece’s (149 warships vs. 116, according to the Global Firepower Index), but significantly smaller than that of France (180 warships). However, it is not only a matter of how many warships each side has. What is important here is their quality: for instance, France has four aircraft carriers, while Turkey has none.
The European Union’s general support for Greece is also important. The idea of imposing sanctions against Turkey was evoked at the most recent EU Foreign Ministers Meeting. Financial penalties could have a major effect on Turkey, given that the European Union is Ankara’s principal trade partner, accounting for 42.4 per cent of its exports and 32.3 per cent of its imports. In such a situation, trade sanctions may prove very painful for Turkey, especially given its stagnating economy and the significant losses it has suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, the scope of the European Union’s non-military leverage against Turkey is not confined to economic sanctions. In the event of an open conflict between Athens and Ankara, Brussels can strip Turkey of its current benefits in trading with European states. In particular, the question of excluding Turkey from the EU Customs Union may appear on Brussels’ agenda. Additionally, the European Union could take Turkey’s potential EU membership off the table forever and strike Ankara from the list of candidates.
Still, we should not discount the serious obstacles in the way of Brussels imposing sanctions against Turkey and using other measures to apply pressure on Ankara. One such obstacle is Ankara’s geopolitical significance for Washington. Despite all the recent complications in their relations, Turkey remains one of the key U.S. allies in the region and a NATO stronghold in the Middle East.
As for Turkey itself, a “hot” conflict could prove detrimental to the country in several ways at once. First, given the unequal military power, it is extremely unlikely that Turkey would emerge victorious from such a conflict. Second, a war will undermine Turkey’s global standing and its membership in international organizations. Third, Turkey cannot afford in its current economic state to either actively build up its military power (even though its authorities claim the opposite and have announced significant increases in the naval budget, with the construction on aircraft carriers being top of the spending list) or bear the burden of possible sanctions which, given the country’s many connections with the European Union, could prove very painful.
The rhetoric of the Turkish leadership is highly belligerent rhetoric, yet Ankara is very well aware of the real consequences of breaking up with Europe and starting an open conflict with a country that is a member of both the European Union and NATO. It is possible that, instead of instigating a “hot” conflict, Turkey could attempt to use its own instruments of applying non-military pressure, such as the huge number of refugees present on Turkish territory. Since 2016, Brussels and Ankara have had a refugee agreement in place. However, Recep Erdogan has already demonstrated in the past that he is capable of suspending this agreement and “cracking open” the door to Europe for migrants, which would set new crises in motion at the borders to the European Union.
Does the Gas Dispute in the Mediterranean Affect Russia?
Special attention should be paid here to the possible prospects for Russia in the ongoing dispute. Naturally, Russia has a very tangential relation to the confrontation in the Mediterranean, although the outcome of this confrontation may be important for Moscow.
On the one hand, Russia can hardly profit from Turkey gaining its own major sources of gas. Currently, Moscow is the main supplier of gas to the Turkish market. Undoubtedly, Russia is interested in preserving this status quo. The recent launch of the Turkish Stream confirms that Moscow intends to maintain its dominant standing in the Turkish energy resources market.
On the other hand, a new source of gas for European countries could shake Russia’s position in the even more important European market. It is no secret that the EU countries are attempting to diversify their resource suppliers for greater energy security. However, abandoning Russian gas is very difficult since a gas pipeline infrastructure has already been created in Europe, making Russian gas relatively inexpensive. Much will depend on whether Greece, Cyprus, and Israel will succeed in jointly building the EastMed gas pipeline meant to deliver gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Greece. Theoretically, EastMed could be extended to other European states. It currently has a design capacity of 10 billion cubic metres, which may be increased by tapping the currently unexplored resources of the Eastern Mediterranean. This is a very ambitious and expensive project, but if it does materialize, it could change the situation in the European gas market, since pricewise, it could compete with cheap Russian gas. If there is no pipeline running from the Mediterranean, Mediterranean gas will have a hard time pushing Russia aside in the European market: without the gas pipeline, gas will be shipped as liquefied natural gas (LNG), which will significantly increase its price and make it far less attractive to European countries.
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