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Democracy vaccinated: The post-Corona epilogue of Sino-American relationship

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Americans performed three very different policies on the People’s Republic: From a total negation (and the Mao-time mutual annihilation assurances), to Nixon’s sudden cohabitation. Finally, a Copernican-turn: the US spotted no real ideological differences between them and the post-Deng China. This signalled a ‘new opening’: West imaginedChina’s coastal areas as its own industrial suburbia. Soon after, both countries easily agreed on interdependence (in this marriage of convenience): Americans pleased their corporate (machine and tech) sector and unrestrained its greed, while Chinese in return offered a cheap labour, no environmental considerations and submissiveness in imitation.

However, for both countries this was far more than economy, it was a policy – Washington read it as interdependence for transformative containment and Beijing sow it as interdependence for (global) penetration. In the meantime, Chinese acquired more sophisticated technology, and the American Big tech sophisticated itself in digital authoritarianism.

But now with a tidal wave of Covid-19, the honeymoon is over. Still to be precise, the so-called virus pandemic brought nothing truly new to the already overheated Sino-American relations: It only amplified and accelerated what was present for quite some time – a rift between alienated power centers, each on its side of Pacific, and the rest.

This text examines a prehistory of that rift, and suggests possible outcomes past the current crisis.

Does our history only appear overheated, while it is essentially calmly predetermined? Is it directional or conceivable, dialectic and eclectic or cyclical, and therefore cynical? Surely, our history warns(no matter if the Past is seen as a destination or resource). Does it also provide for a hope? Hence, what is in front of us: destiny or future?

Theory loves to teach us that extensive debates on what kind of economic system is most conductive to human wellbeing is what consumed most of our civilizational vertical. However, our history has a different say: It seems that the manipulation of the global political economy – far more than the introduction of ideologies – is the dominant and arguably more durable way that human elites usually conspired to build or break civilizations, as planned projects. Somewhere down the process, it deceived us, becoming the self-entrapment. How?

One of the biggest (nearly schizophrenic) dilemmas of liberalism, ever since David Hume and Adam Smith, was an insight into reality: Whether the world is essentially Hobbesian or Kantian. As postulated, the main task of any liberal state is to enable and maintain wealth of its nation, which of course rests upon wealthy individuals inhabiting the particular state. That imperative brought about another dilemma: if wealthy individual, the state will rob you, but in absence of it, the pauperized masses will mob you.

The invisible hand of Smith’s followers have found the satisfactory answer – sovereign debt. That ‘invention’ meant: relatively strong central government of the state. Instead of popular control through the democratic checks-&-balance mechanism, such a state should be rather heavily indebted. Debt – firstly to local merchants, than to foreigners – is a far more powerful deterrent, as it resides outside the popular check domain.

With such a mixed blessing, no empire can easily demonetize its legitimacy, and abandon its hierarchical but invisible and unconstitutional controls. This is how a debtor empire was born. A blessing or totalitarian curse? Let us briefly examine it.

The Soviet Union – much as (the pre-Deng’s) China itself – was far more of a classic continental military empire (overtly brutal; rigid, authoritative, anti-individual, apparent, secretive), while the US was more a financial-trading empire (covertly coercive; hierarchical, yet asocial, exploitive, pervasive, polarizing). On opposite sides of the globe and cognition, to each other they remained enigmatic, mysterious and incalculable: Bear of permafrost vs. Fish of the warm seas. Sparta vs. Athens. Rome vs. Phoenicia… However, common for the both(as much as for China today) was a super-appetite for omnipresence. Along with the price to pay for it.

Consequently, the Soviets went bankrupt by mid 1980s – they cracked under its own weight, imperially overstretched. So did the Americans – the ‘white man burden’ fractured them already by the Vietnam war, with the Nixon shock only officializing it. However, the US imperium managed to survive and to outlive the Soviets. How?

The United States, with its financial capital (or an outfoxing illusion of it), evolved into a debtor empire through the Wall Street guaranties. Titanium-made Sputnik vs. gold mine of printed-paper… Nothing epitomizes this better than the words of the longest serving US Federal Reserve’s boss, Alan Greenspan, who famously quoted J.B. Connally to then French President Jacques Chirac: “True, the dollar is our currency, but your problem”. Hegemony vs. hegemoney.

House of Cards

Conventional economic theory teaches us that money is a universal equivalent to all goods. Historically, currencies were a space and time-related, to say locality-dependent. However, like no currency ever before, the US dollar became – past the WWII – the universal equivalent to all other moneys of the world. According to history of currencies, the core component of the non-precious metals’ money is a so-called promissory note – intangible belief that,by any given point in future, a particular shiny paper (self-styled as money) will be smoothly exchanged for real goods.

Thus, roughly speaking, money is nothing else but a civilizational construct about imagined/projected tomorrow – that the next day (which nobody has ever seen in the history of humankind, but everybody operates with) definitely comes (i), and that this tomorrow will certainly be a better day then our yesterday or even our today (ii).

This and similar types of collective constructs (horizontal and vertical) over our social contracts hold society together as much as its economy keeps it alive and evolving. Hence, it is money that powers economy, but our blind faith in constructed (imagined) tomorrows and its alleged certainty is what empowers money.

Clearly, the universal equivalent of all equivalents – the US dollar – follows the same pattern: Bold and widely accepted promise. For the US, it almost instantly substantiates extraterritorial economic projection: American can print (any sum of) money without fear of inflation. (Quantitative easing is always exported, value is kept home.)

But, what does the US dollar promise when there is no gold cover attached to it ever since the time of Nixon shock of 1971?

Pentagon promises that the oceanic sea-lanes will remain opened (read: controlled by the US Navy), pathways unhindered, and that the most traded world’s commodity – oil, will be delivered. So, it is not a crude or its delivery what is a cover to the US dollar – it is a promise that oil of tomorrow will be deliverable. That is a real might of the US dollar, which in return finances Pentagon’s massive expenditures and shoulders its supremacy.

Admired and feared, Pentagon further fans our planetary belief in tomorrow’s deliverability – if we only keep our faith in dollar (and hydrocarbons’ energized economy), and so on and on in perpetuated circle of mutual reinforcements.

(Supplementing the Monroe Doctrine, President Howard Taft introduced the so-called ‘dollar diplomacy’ – in early XX c. – that “substitutes dollars for bullets”. This is one of the first official acknowledgements of the Wall Street – Pentagon symbiotic link.)

These two pillars of the US might from the East coast (the US Treasury/Wall Street and Pentagon) together with the two pillars of the West coast – both financed and amplified by the US dollar, and spread through the open sea-routs (Silicone Valley and Hollywood), are an essence of the US posture.

This very nature of power explains why the Americans have missed to take the mankind into completely other direction; towards the non-confrontational, decarbonized, de-monetized/de-financialized and de-psychologized, the self-realizing and green humankind. In short, to turn history into a moral success story. They had such a chance when, past the Gorbachev’s unconditional surrender of the Soviet bloc, and the Deng’s Copernicus-shift of China, the US – unconstrained as a lonely superpower – solely dictated terms of reference; our common destiny and direction/s to our future/s.

Winner is rarely a game-changer

Sadly enough, that was not the first missed opportunity for the US to soften and delay its forthcoming, imminent multidimensional imperial retreat. The very epilogue of the WWII meant a full security guaranty for the US: Geo-economically – 54% of anything manufactured in the world was carrying the Made in USA label, and geostrategically – the US had uninterruptedly enjoyed nearly a decade of the ‘nuclear monopoly’. Up to this very day, the US scores the biggest number of N-tests conducted, the largest stockpile of nuclear weaponry, and it represents the only power ever deploying this ‘ultimate weapon’ on other nation. To complete the irony, Americans enjoy geographic advantage like no other empire before. Save the US, as Ikenberry notes: “…every major power in the world lives in a crowded geopolitical neighborhood where shifts in power routinely provoke counterbalancing”. Look the map, at Russia or China and their packed surroundings. The US is blessed with its insular position, by neighboring oceans. All that should harbor tranquility, peace and prosperity, foresightedness.

Why the lonely might, an empire by invitation did not evolve into empire of relaxation, a generator of harmony? Why does it hold (extra-judicially) captive more political prisoners on Cuban soil than the badmouthed Cuban regime has ever had? Why does it remain obsessed with armament for at home and abroad? Why existential anxieties for at home and security challenges for abroad? Eg. 78% of all weaponry at disposal in the wider MENA theater is manufactured in the US, while domestically Americans – only for their civilian purpose – have 1,2 small arms pieces per capita.)

Why the fall of Berlin Wall 30 years ago marked a beginning of decades of stagnant or failing incomes in the US (and elsewhere in the OECD world) coupled with alarming inequalities. What are we talking about here; the inadequate intensity of our tireless confrontational push or about the false course of our civilizational direction? 

Indeed, no successful and enduring empire does merely rely on coercion, be it abroad or at home. The grand design of every empire in past rested on a skillful calibration between obedience and initiative – at home, and between bandwagoning and engagement – abroad. In XXI century, one wins when one convinces not when one coerces. Hence, if unable to escape its inner logics and deeply-rooted appeal of confrontational nostalgia, the prevailing archrival is only a winner, rarely a game-changer.

A Country or a Cause, Both or None?

To sum up; After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Americans accelerated expansion while waiting for (real or imagined) adversaries to further decline, ‘liberalize’ and bandwagon behind the US. One of the instruments was to aggressively push for a greater economic integration between regional and distant states, which – as we see now, passed the ‘End-of-History’ euphoria of 1990s – brought about (irreversible) socio-political disintegration within each of these states.

Expansion is the path to security dictatum, of the post-Cold War socio-political and economic mantra, only exacerbated the problems afflicting the Pax Americana. That is how the capability of the US to maintain its order started to erode faster than the capacity of its opponents to challenge it. A classical imperial self-entrapment!!

The repeated failure to notice and recalibrate its imperial retreat brought the painful hangovers to Washington, the most noticeably, by the last presidential elections. Inability to manage the rising costs of sustaining the imperial order only increased the domestic popular revolt and political pressure to abandon its ‘mission’ altogether. Perfectly hitting the target to miss everything else …

Hence, Americans are not fixing the world anymore. They are only managing its decline. Look at their footprint in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Georgia, Libya, Syria, Ukraine or Yemen – to mention but a few.

When the Soviets lost their own indigenous ideological matrix and maverick confrontational stance, and when the US dominated West missed to triumph although winning the Cold War, how to expect from the imitator to score the lasting moral or even a temporary economic victory?

Dislike the relationship with the Soviets Union which was on one clear confrontational acceptance line from a start until its very last day, Americans performed three very different policies on the People’s Republic: From a total negation (and the Mao-time mutual annihilation assurances), to Nixon’s sudden cohabitation. Finally, a Copernican-turn: the US spotted no real ideological differences between them and the post-Deng China. This signalled a ‘new opening’ – China’s coastal areas to become West’s industrial suburbia. Soon after, both countries easily agreed on interdependence: Americans pleased their corporate (machine and tech) sector and unrestrained its greed, while Chinese in return offered a cheap labour, no environmental considerations and submissiveness in imitation. However, for both it was far more than economy, it was a policy – Washington read it as interdependence for transformative containment and Beijing sow it as interdependence for (global) penetration. In the meantime, Chinese acquired more sophisticated technology, and the American Big tech sophisticated itself in digital authoritarianism.

But, the honeymoon seems over now.

Lasting collision course already leads to the subsequent calls for a decupling of the two world’s largest economies. Besides marking the end of global capitalism which exploded since the fall of Berlin Wall, this may finally trigger a global realignment. The rest of the world would end up – willingly or not – in the rival (trade) blocks. It would not be a return to 1950s and 1960s, but to the pre-WWI constellations. Epilog is plain to see: Neither more confrontation and more carbons nor more weaponized trade and traded weapons will save our day. It failed in our past, it will fail again any given day.

Entrapment in Imitation

Interestingly, China opposed the I World, left the II in rift, and ever since Bandung of 1955 it neither won over nor (truly) joined the III Way. Today, many see it as a main contestant. But, where is a lasting success?

There is a near consensus among the economists that China owes its economic success to three fundamental factors. Firstly, it is that the People’s Republic embraced an imitative economic policy (much like Japan, Singapore, Taiwan or ROK did before) through Deng-proclaimed opening. Second goes to a modest domestic consumption, and German-like thick home savings. Finally, as the third factor that the economists attribute to Chinese miracle, is a low production costs of Sino nation – mostly on expenses of its aging demography, and on expenses of its own labor force and country’s environment. None of it has an international appeal, nor it holds promise to an attainable future. Therefore, no wonder that the Imitative power fights – for at home and abroad – a defensive ideological battle. Such a reactive status quo has no intellectual appeal to attract and inspire beyond its borders.

So, if for China the XIX was a “century of humiliation”, XX “century of emancipation”, should it be that the XXI gets labeled as a “century of imitation”?

(The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is what the most attribute as an instrument of the Chinese planetary posture. Chinese leaders promised massive infrastructure projects all around by burning trillions of dollars. Still, numbers are more moderate. As the recent The II BRI Summit has shown, so far, Chinese companies had invested USD 90 billion worldwide. Seems, neither People’s Republic is as rich as many (wish to) think nor it will be able to finance its promised projects without seeking for a global private capital. Such a capital –if ever – will not flow without conditionalities. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS or ‘New Development’ – Bank have some $150 billion at hand, and the Silk Road Infrastructure Fund (SRIF) has up to $40 billion. Chinese state and semi-private companies can access – according to the OECD estimates – just another $600 billion (much of it tight) from the home, state-controlled financial sector. That means that China runs short on the BRI deliveries worldwide. Ergo, either bad news to the (BRI) world or the conditionalities’ constrained China.)

How to behave in the world in which economy is made to service trade (as it is defined by the Sino-American high priests of globalization),while trade increasingly constitutes a significant part of the big power’s national security strategy? And, how to define (and measure) the existential threat: by inferiority of ideological narrative – like during the Cold War; or by a size of a lagging gap in total manufacturing output – like in the Cold War aftermath. Or something third? Perhaps a return to an inclusive growth.

For sure, there is no intellectual appeal in a growth without well-being, education that does not translate into fair opportunity, lives without dignity, liberalization without personal freedom. Greening international relations along with a greening of social fabrics and its economy – geopolitical and environmental understanding, de-acidification and relaxation is that missing, third, way for tomorrow.

This necessitates both at once: less confrontation over the art-of-day technology and their de-monopolized redistribution as well as the resolute work on the so-called Tesla-ian implosive/fusion-holistic systems. That would include the free-transfer non-Hertzian energy technologies (able to de-toxicate our troposphere from dangerous fields, waves and frequencies emittance- bringing it closer to Schumann resonance);carbon-sequestration; antigravity and self-navigational solutions; bioinformatics and nanorobotics.

In short, more of initiative than of obedience (including more public control over data hoovering). More effort to excellence (creation) than a struggle for preeminence (partition).

‘Do like your neighbor’ is a Biblical-sounding economic prophecy that the circles close to the IMF love to tirelessly repeat. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a formidable national economic prosperity, if the good neighborly relations are not built and maintained. Clearly, no global leader has ever in history emerged from a shaky and distrustful neighborhood, or by offering a little bit more of the same in lieu of an innovative technological advancement.

(Eg. many see Chinese 5G – besides the hazardous electrosmog of IoT that this technology emits on Earth’s biota – as an illiberal innovation, which may end up servicing authoritarianism, anywhere. And indeed, the AI deep learning inspired by biological neurons (neural science) including its three methods: supervised, unsupervised and reinforced learning can end up by being used for the diffusion of digital authoritarianism, predictive policing and manufactured social governance based on the bonus-malus behavioral social credits.)

Ergo, it all starts from within, from at home; socio-economically and environmentally. Without support from a home base (including that of Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet), there is no game changer. China’s home is Asia. Its size and its centrality along with its impressive output is constraining it enough.

Conclusively, it is not only a new, non-imitative, turn of socioeconomics and technology what is needed. Without truly and sincerely embracing mechanisms such as the NaM, ASEAN and SAARC (eventually even the OSCE) and the main champions of multilateralism in Asia, those being India Indonesia and Japan first of all, China has no future of what is planetary awaited – the third force, a game-changer, lasting visionary and trusted global leader.

Post Scriptum

To varying degrees, but all throughout a premodern and modern history, nearly every world’s major foreign policy originator was dependent (and still depends) on what happens in, and to, Russia. So, neither a structure, nor content or overall direction of world affairs for the past 300 years has been done without Russia. It is not only a size, but also a centrality of Russia that matters. That is important as much (if not even more), as it is an omnipresence of the US or a hyper production of the PR China. Ergo, that is an uninterrupted flow of manufactured goods to the whole world, it is a balancing of the oversized and centrally positioned one, and it is the ability to controllably corrode the way in and insert itself of the peripheral one. The oscillatory interplay of these three is what characterizes our days.

Therefore, reducing the world affairs to the constellation of only two super-players – China and the US is inadequate – to say least. It is usually done while superficially measuring Russia’s overall standing by merely checking its current GDP, and comparing its volume and PPP, and finding it e.g. equal to one of Italy. Through such ‘quick-fix’, Russia is automatically downgraded to a second-rank power status. This practice is as dangerous as it is highly misleading. Still, that ill-conceived argument is one of the most favored narratives which authors in the West are tirelessly peddling. What many analysts miss to understand, is in fact plain to see; throughout the entire history of Russia: For such a big country the only way to survive – irrespectively from its relative weaknesses by many ‘economic’ parameters – is to always make an extra effort and remain great power.

To this end, let us quickly contrast the above narrative with some key facts: Russia holds the key positions in the UN and its Agencies as one of its founding members (including the Security Council veto right as one of the P5); it has a highly skilled and mobilized population; its society has deeply rooted sense of a special historic mission (that notion is there for already several centuries – among its intellectuals and enhanced elites, probably well before the US has even appeared as a political entity in the first place). Additionally and tellingly, Moscow possesses the world’s largest gold reserves (on surface and underground; in mines and its treasury bars); for decades, it masters its own GPS system and the most credible outer space delivery systems (including the only remaining working connection with the ISS), and has an elaborate turn-key-ready alternative internet, too. 

Finally, as the US Council of Foreign Relations’ Thomas Graham fairly admits: “with the exception of China, no country affects more issues of strategic and economic importance to the US than Russia. And no other country, it must be said, is capable of destroying the US in 30 minutes.” (FAM, 98-6-19, pg.134)

Modern Diplomacy Advisory Board, Chairman Geopolitics of Energy Editorial Member Professor and Chairperson for Intl. Law & Global Pol. Studies contact: anis@bajrektarevic.eu

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How Trump can beat Kamala Harris in 2024

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The hopes for Vice President Kamala Harris were big, but as the months of her first year in office progressed, they evaporated quickly.

As Vice President, Mike Pence negotiated ceasefire agreements with Turkey in Syria and did a lot of diplomatic work. So the VP’s role is not exactly about sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be President. But this seems to be Kamala’s game at the moment. She does videos with girls who should dream big but when it comes to her actual responsibilities she is nowhere to be seen. It’s not enough to be the first black woman VP. That doesn’t guarantee your “historic legacy”. It’s what you do that counts.

Biden tasked Kamala with the southern border, that horny issue that Trump wanted to take up and which Democrats are not interested in.

The truth here is a geographical one: simply in geographic terms, the US southern border is so vast that it can’t be secured unless something changes in US policy. Not everyone that wants to enter a country should be able to do that. The same goes for Americans who would be stopped at the border if they tried to enter illegally Bulgaria, just to name an example. The rules of legal entry still apply across the world, and for people escaping dire circumstances such as refugees we have a separate set of rules where they can apply for asylum. That doesn’t include anyone from any country that wants to enter any country, but surely a guiding principle should be humane treatment even for those that are not allowed to enter or that have to leave. The situation on the southern border were children were separated from their parents and were kept in cages was absolutely horrific, so one hoped that with her legal experience, child of immigrants-origin, and black, Indian, female leadership, Kamala would be better suited at finding humane solutions than Trump.

But Kamala did not even wish to visit the border, and nothing changed when the Haitian immigrants’ crisis hit either. She is just not interested; she just wants to be President. Kamala was expected to deliver a more sensitive approach because this is why she was elected – for issues such as these. Leaders of diversity are not elected just to be there, because it’s great to look at all kinds of people, but because the political system and decision-making supposedly becomes more representative and better.

People elect leaders on platforms to help workers, such as veteran Senator Sherrod Brown, exactly for that – to help workers. That’s why he is on the right committees such as agriculture, forestry, nutrition. You won’t see him all of a sudden interested in big tech and the finance industry, not willing to touch his original issues. That would be strange, right?

Women leaders whose platform is being a woman and breaking glass ceilings to lead the way, are expected to deliver on that. Not all women leaders have that line and this line should not be expected from all women, but the ones that do run on being black women leaders for the community should deliver on that. That’s their thing, that’s what they ran on.

Black Lives Matter congressmen who run on that platform are expected to be like that once they get elected, too. Similarly, if a politician runs on being rich, successful and someone who understand big corporate America and will drive big business forward, you expect them to be exactly that way.

If you run for office as the migrants’ Congresswoman you better be doing that. I remember Congressman Grijalva of Arizona whom I met previously. His had was a Mexican immigrant and the Congressman was someone feeling and supporting Mexican immigrants; that was his thing, his selling point and his driving issue. You wouldn’t see him go: “Oh yeah, the migrants. No thanks!” The Congressman was well-aware that he was elected in that identity out of all the identities he could have decided to bring to the fore.

My point is that if you’re selected for specific views and characteristic and you are putting that as your headline motto which defines you, that means that people will be expecting that from you because that’s why you got elected to begin with. So there are very clear and reasonable expectations that Kamala has to be better towards refugees if she ran on being a child of immigrants.  She has to be more sensitive towards the pains of what she was elected to represent. If you are running for office as a mother, wife and a child of immigrants, then family issues and gentle, humane treatment towards immigrant children should be a priority.  It’s only fair in the political contract of being an elected official.

Politicians choose very carefully what identities they flash and show to the whole world to see. That’s a very conscious choice. The story would be different if Kamala ran on being a top legal mind that will fix many issues in the justice system, while not wanting to bring her origin, female-ness and race as selling points. That would have been an equally valid political approach. Then people would have expected that identity to come to the fore, once she stepped in office. My hopes and prescriptions for Kamala, for example, was that she could reform the FBI and the way the FBI treats progressive protests. I wrote about it right at the start of the Biden-Harris administration all over the left media in Salon, Raw Story and AlterNet, urging VP Harris to take a look at the FBI. This would have included indiscriminate surveillance, for example, and the legal standards and thresholds to open investigations for serious crimes like terrorism. What we are witnessing now is that the same way the FBI and the repressive apparatus treated reasonable voices on the left clumping them together with violent groups on the far left, is happening to the right, where Trump supporters and regular people on the right are spied on and put in the same group as armed, violent men. This is what the FBI generally does to the new big enemy. Who that is changes with the fashion trends. My hope was that Kamala could stop the FBI from running wild, using her extensive legal experience. That was a long shot. She is not interested even in top-of-the-line emergency issues such as the border that Biden assigned to her.

This is why I think that Trump can beat Kamala in 2024, if she becomes the Democratic nominee. I won’t be surprised if she runs on a platform of becoming the first woman president and first woman black president. But for that you need to have demonstrated that you are for women and have supported women, and you are for black people and have supported the black issues.

I think it’s only fair. I am asking people to actually start holding politicians accountable to the identities that politicians themselves have chosen to flash out. If you’re neither for women, nor for people of color’s problems, then the identity presented is fake and we are better off with someone whose identity matches their actions.

It’s not enough to stage videos with little girls who should “dream big” because “everything is possible” in a world where “women can be anything they want to be”. The role of the chief political executive is not to be an “inspirational” celebrity, someone that people look up to for philosophical and motivational inspiration like the Dalai Lama. The role of a President or VP is to solve problems. I know it doesn’t sound very glamorous because it’s not.

I think Trump can win 2024 if he drops the far-right movements. The rights to protest and free speech are no longer protected, as soon as there is violence involved. Trump can also drop some of the offensive language and still be Trump. If he keeps what was good from his policies, such as the economy pre-Covid, he can convince a lot of Americans who are already chanting against Joe Biden. America already hates Biden and Kamala – if I can hear it all the way here in Bulgaria.

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The international disorder after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the causes of the Taliban victory

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image source: Tehran Times

What does the defeat of the US system in Afghanistan show? Can war-torn Afghanistan achieve peace and independence? Where is the way out for Afghanistan?

This unfortunate country has become a battleground for the great powers and the hegemonic policy has led to unrest, war and devastation in Afghanistan for 42 years.

Let us look at the world map. Afghanistan is located in the hinterland of the Eurasian continent. It is the point of convergence of West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia. It also borders on China through a long, narrow piece of land. From the viewpoint of geopolitical theory, Afghanistan is known as the “crossroads of the Asian continent” because it holds the key points between the hinterland of Asia and the Middle East, besides being the plateau overlooking the Middle East and looking towards East Asia, and has always been at the centre of the great powers’ appetites.

All powers are convinced of the validity of the geocentric theory of British geopolitician Halford Mackinder (1861-1947), who believed that whoever controlled those areas would be able to dominate Asia and the Eurasian continent: indeed, Afghanistan is precisely there.

Historically, from the United Kingdom to the Soviet Union and the United States of America, the countries with hegemonic ambitions came to that land and brought endless wars.

Since the late 1970s, the game of great powers and internal State conflicts have caused forty years of bloodshed.

In October 2001, the United States launched a war in Afghanistan, overthrowing the Taliban regime in the name of fighting al-Qaeda. In the last twenty years, the United States has invested a lot of resources in Afghanistan. It has supported the Afghan government established by the White House and has trained a local army in the country. It has also tried to make Afghanistan – outside of any historical, social and religious logic – a “model democratic country” according to their wasp style: in short, it has tried to impose a Lutheran model on an Islamic country.

Over the past two decades, nearly 2,500 US soldiers have been killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan and tens of thousands of people, including military service providers, have been wounded. The total cost of the war has exceeded two trillion US dollars. Under the banner of “counter-terrorism”, the long war has not only plunged the United States into a quagmire of lack of international credibility and doubts about its methods of conducting war, civilisation and democracy, but – even more severely – it has caused great disasters to a people far removed from it in every sense.

According to the ‘War Cost Accounting’ project at Brown University in the USA, at least 47,245 Afghan civilians were killed in that war from 2001 to mid-April 2020. According to the figures released by the United Nations, the war in Afghanistan has forced 2.7 million Afghans to flee abroad and has resulted in the internal displacement of four million Afghans, with a total population of 39 million.

Besides leading to humanitarian disasters, increased poverty caused by the war afflicts the population. Figures show that since the fiscal year 2019-2020, Afghanistan’s gross domestic product has been about 18.89 billion US dollars and GDP per capita only 586.6 US dollars. The finances of the former Afghan government had not managed to balance the books for many years and 60% of the fiscal budget came from international aid.

In the continuing war bloodshed, the United States of America tried in vain to remedy the situation and lost its white man’s burden to stop the bleeding.

On the day the Taliban entered Kabul, a number of US politicians spoke out and publicly criticised the government’s decision to hastily withdraw troops from Afghanistan and said that the United States should be held responsible for the current situation in Afghanistan. The former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, stated in an interview with RAI on September 10, 2001 that the United States of America should stay and rule the country directly. We can also add: just like a colony.

On August 15, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney said in an interview with ABC that the White House bore an inescapable responsibility for the Taliban’s fast conquest of Afghanistan. She said that the impact of the current situation was not limited to Afghanistan and her country, but would also affect international relations. Liz Cheney also stated that the US withdrawal did not actually end the war in Afghanistan, but would make it continue in other ways.

Indeed, the current turbulent situation in Afghanistan is closely related to the US hasty withdrawal from the country.

On April 14, 2021, President Biden announced that he would withdraw 2,500 US troops from Afghanistan before September 11, 2021, marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. On the evening of the same day, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg also announced that some seven thousand NATO coalition troops would be withdrawn at the same time.

When US and NATO troops officially started their withdrawal on May 1, the security situation in Afghanistan worsened by the day. According to The New York Times, from April 30 to May 6, forty-four civilians had been killed in the attack in Afghanistan in a single week, the highest number of people in a week since October 2020.

This proves once again that the US practice of bringing “democracy” to other countries with the use of weapons, harms the others and the USA itself and can only bring disorder and unrest.

The United States of America has continuously created chaos and with “friendly fire” and “by mistake” has killed civilians in Afghanistan for 25 years. The minimum positive impression the Afghan people had has been completely wiped out. It existed only in a few Hollywood movies at the beginning of the 2000s, with the classic child and wise old man saved by the US good soldier.

For any sovereign country, such behaviour can only be hegemonic and ruthless.

The twenty-year US war in Afghanistan has not achieved its goals: the United States has only tried to save face through an irresponsible withdrawal. This is tantamount to saying: “I would prefer a 3-0 defeat by default than a 7-0 defeat on the pitch”.

The war was costly, in view of vainly conquering the strategic position towards Mackinder’s heartland that holds the last raw materials on the planet.

The tragedy in Afghanistan is just another great failure of the Western attempt of imposing democracy through violence.

It is difficult for a country with great historical traditions to be transformed and assimilated by the West; it develops antibodies of resistance and rejection. The efforts to “democratize” Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. have turned these countries into guinea pigs of the US liberal utopia. These guinea pigs, however, have not died, but have somehow managed to escape vivisection and laboratory tests.

The Taliban won in Kabul with a ten-day blitz: the “US democracy” was the Maoist “paper tiger”, which had already been driven out by China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Vietnam etc.

After the Taliban entered the capital Kabul and controlled almost the entire territory of Afghanistan, many media expressed their surprise at the speed of the Afghan fighters. On August 6, the Taliban occupied Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz Province in south-western Afghanistan, the first major city conquered by the Taliban since US and allied troops had begun withdrawing. On August 7, the Taliban conquered Sheberghān, the capital of Jowzjan Province. In the following days, they seized over twenty provincial capitals, including Konduz, a strategic city in northern Afghanistan; Herat, the third largest city; Kandahar, the second largest city, and Mazar-i-Sharif, the fourth largest city; and finally occupied the capital city.

Such a speed of advance makes the previous military organisation and US bases seem completely useless and disastrous. According to reports, on August 15 President Biden and senior US officials were shocked.

Not long before, President Biden had claimed that the Afghan government had 300,000 well-equipped soldiers, while the Taliban had only 75,000. While recalling Vietnam, President Biden said: “Under no circumstances will we see people evacuated from the roof of the US embassy in Afghanistan”.  

President Biden’s declarations, however, were the “famous last words”. When the US military helicopter landed on the roof of the US embassy in Afghanistan to pick up besieged fellow citizens, people thought of the Saigon tragedy. Indeed, Afghanistan is only the most recent Saigon-style tragedy, but it will certainly not be the last.

The Taliban’s quick offensive regards their strategy. It is very appropriate and they know how to use negotiation skills in battle simultaneously to struggle with the opponents while fighting them. A very strong traditional strategy inherited from the legacies of the wars of liberation against the Brits in the 19th and 20th centuries, which saved them from ending up like India, or at least the western Muslim part later called Pakistan. As you can see, it all adds up.

The US-backed Afghan government and army were made up of generally corrupt, incompetent and opportunistic personnel. They gradually surrendered to their compatriots, preferring past enemies to the US promises to escape to the paradise on earth of democracy.

High officials and star-spangled Afghan military officers left their posts without authorisation and had no thought at all of maintaining a regime which, on its cessation, would be saved only at the highest ranks, so as not to be treated like Mohammad Najibullah, captured by the Taliban in the UN headquarters in Kabul and shot on September 27, 1996.

Corruption is one of the causes of the US defeat. Brainiacs, eggheads and the US think tanks at Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Yale, or in other places, have not yet understood that when you go to a country that is distant in every sense from your own – a country and a people that you despise so much that you want to change them “for their own good” – only corrupt, delinquent, ignorant and opportunistic people will come with you as occupier. The same people who were already largely despised by the local people. The Taliban speed of advancement has demonstrated to what extent the above is true.

The political-administrative concept – with which a military umbrella Afghanistan-Eden was designed – was based on liberal and “democratic” assumptions that were incompatible with the Afghan society.

Not only could that government not represent the Afghan people, but it further fuelled corruption and inefficiency because it relied on a large amount of international aid.

The “design” of the former Afghan government system could neither draw sufficient human resources (i.e. credibility from its people), nor gain effective control of the country (people enlisting only for a clean uniform and a few dollars to support their poor families).

On the contrary, after twenty years of armed struggle, the Taliban have made many reshuffles at the top leadership, as well as reorganisations. They have limited their radicalism and learned some lessons and positive practices during the war.

Today, an Afghanistan that stops wars and achieves peace is the common expectation of the international community and the countries of the region and the planet.

Respecting Afghanistan’s independence means not interfering in its internal affairs and not exporting the so-called democracy. Only in this way can peace and development be achieved in this war-torn country.

Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people alone. Imposed “democracy” is always overthrown because it does not suit the wishes of the people it seeks to subjugate.

A peaceful and stable Afghanistan will remove the obstacles to regional security, stability and development cooperation and create favourable conditions for seeking cooperation with other countries and achieving a win-win situation.

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Hunter Biden Shows How to Become a Leading Artist in America

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Artwork, Hunter Biden, source: Georges Berges Gallery

U.S. President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, is one of America’s top artists. That means he has become able to sell his paintings to the largest number of America’s richest people at the highest prices: his artistic patrons are millionaires, centi-millionaires, and billionaires, who know that the Biden Family operation splits its money among all of its members, including the “Big Guy”, U.S. President Joe Biden, who could benefit when such a buyer pays money to Hunter for a painting. They operate as a family business (or, actually, businesses), and everybody (including “the ‘Big Guy’,”  and including “H” or Hunter, and also James Biden, Joe’s brother) gets a cut in it. This fact was reported by the Wall Street Journal, on 23 October 2020, whose sources were the corporation’s CEO (Bobulinski), who owned half, and “corporate documents reviewed by the Journal.” However, the American “true”/“false” news-rating firm PolitiFact dismissed that report, by alleging “there is no smoking gun” because “Credible news organizations have found no evidence to corroborate Bobulinski’s claims about a role in the proposed venture for Joe Biden. Joe Biden’s financial documents show no indication of any income related to the venture.” PolitiFact implicitly didn’t consider the WSJ a “credible news organization.” (They didn’t explain why.) However, the WSJ had not made any claim that Joe Biden — or anyone else — had profited, at all, from this particular corporation, SinoHawk Holdings, which was only one of a number of such ventures (such as Rosemont Seneca, which was involved with Ukraine’s Burisma Holdings) in which enterprise Hunter Biden partnered with his father, and father’s brother Jim, as well as with Biden friends. There was no follow-up by the press on the matter of Hunter Biden’s apparent influence-peddling (such as about Britain’s Daily Mail having reported, on 17 December 2020, that “Bobulinski revealed an email sent from Hunter Biden to Ye in June of 2017 in which he sends Ye his ‘best wishes from the entire Biden family’” — including, of course, the U.S. President). But federal authorities have copied the contents of at least one of Hunter Biden’s laptops, and know all the email and documents that were on it, and yet the press (other than Britain’s Daily Mail) shunned any evidence, anywhere, that might go beyond what Bobulinski and “corporate documents” had disclosed to the WSJ. All liberal ‘news’-media (and most conservative ones) shunned any such investigations. (There are no mainstream progressive U.S. news-media; and, therefore, liberal and conservative ones are pretty much the entire media-spectrum in the U.S./UK empire.)

Other such similar matters have likewise been ignored by most of the billionaires-controlled U.S. and UK press; but a few conservative, pro-Republican-Party, billionaires have had their media look further into Hunter Biden’s influence-peddling. And, now, influence-peddling is being carried out in — and corrupting — the high-end contemporary art market, as will soon be described here.

Influence-peddling has been prominent among aristocracies for thousands of years. There’s nothing unusual about the Bidens regarding this. But, before describing the way it’s being carried out now in the high-end art market, a few more examples about the Bidens’ doing it in the fields of finance will show more of the basic pattern that’s now being applied in art-sales: 

To start with, as published by the Republican billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper N.Y. Post on 15 October 2020 under the headline “Emails reveal how Hunter Biden tried to cash in big on behalf of family with Chinese firm”, a 2 August 2017 email on Hunter Biden’s computer, emailed from him to Gongwen Dong and copied to Mervyn Yan Yan stated: 

My Understanding is that the original agreement with the Director was for consulting fees based on introductions alone a rate of $10M per year for a three year guarantee total of $30M. The chairman changed that deal after we me[t] in MIAMI TO A MUCH MORE LASTING AND LUCRATIVE ARRANGEMENT to create a holding company 50% owned by ME and 50% by him. Consulting fees is one piece of our income stream but the reason this proposal by the chairman was so much more interesting to me and my family is that we would also be partners in the equity and profits of the JV [Joint Venture]’s investments. Hence I assumed the reason for our discussion today in which you made clear that the Chairman would first get his investment capital returned in the profits would be split 50/50. If you [are] saying this is not the case then please return us to the original deal $10M per year a guaranteed 3 years plus bonus payments for any successful deal we introduce. let’s discuss thank you

That is clearly influence-peddling.

Then, as published in the UK Conservative Party’s billionaire Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere’s newspaper Daily Mail, on 10 December 2020, under the headline “Revealed: Hunter Biden raked in $6M in just nine months from Chinese business dealings – and that doesn’t include the 2.8 carat-diamond he got as a gift”, it opened with a summary:

               • Hunter Biden raked in $6m over nine months from his Chinese business dealings according to a timeline of his affairs which goes into unprecedented detail

               • Joe Biden’s son was involved with a series of transactions which were flagged for ‘potential financial criminal activity’, a Senate report has revealed

               • The payments began days after Hunter sent his infamous email to one associate in 2017 talking about money for ‘the big guy’ and deals for ‘me and my family’

               •  The money included a $5m payment from a Chinese energy company with ties to the Communist party 

               • He also made $1m for work with an associate who was later jailed for bribery

               • The report concludes that Hunter’s business associates were ‘linked to the Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army’ 

               • The Senate report focuses on Hunter’s work for Chinese company CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects

               • CEFC’s founder and former chairman Ye Jianming gave Hunter a 2.8-carat diamond after a business meeting in Miami, CNN has reported

Their article continued:

The payments began days after Hunter sent his infamous email to one associate in 2017 talking about money for ‘the big guy’ and deals for ‘me and my family’.

The report concludes that Hunter’s business associates were ‘linked to the Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army’.

It states: ‘Those associations resulted in millions of dollars in cash flow’.

The report prepared by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, which was first reported by Fox News, comes as Hunter revealed that authorities in Delaware are investigating his tax affairs. …

According to Politico, [in an excellent article covering many different apparently corrupt business deals that Hunter and his family have participated in and that the U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ought to have launched investigations into] federal prosecutors in Washington and New York are also looking into possible securities fraud and money laundering by the troubled 50-year-old, who has battled drug and alcohol addiction.

The Senate report focuses on Hunter’s work for Chinese company CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects.

These matters are highly relevant to Hunter’s high art prices, because buying a painting from an influence-peddler is one possible way to buy influence.

For example: let’s say that a particular painting by Hunter Biden is worth, to be generous about it, $5,000, but that a billionaire who wants some decision from the White House to go in a certain way is paying $500,000 for it. This would be a $495,000 advance-payment for the decision to go that way; and, if the President then decides to go a different way on that decision, then the President might lose $5,000,000 in campaign-donations from that buyer during the next campaign-cycle. And, maybe, on the opposite side of the gamble, if the President’s decision instead goes the way that the purchaser has been wanting, that buyer will end up tens-of-millions dollars richer as a result of this $495,000 advance-payment to the President’s son. So: a President, in retirement, can become a very wealthy person, by having sold-out the American public, to the highest bidders. This has become ‘democracy’, in today’s America. It’s aristocracy instead.

On 8 July 2021, Britain’s Telegraph, which is owned by the Conservative twin aristocratic brothers, the Barclays, bannered “The Art of the Deal: Is a painting by Hunter Biden really worth $500,000?” and opened “White House ethics experts have expressed alarm at plans to sell paintings by Hunter Biden for up to half a million dollars each. The US president’s son has reinvented himself as an artist after a turbulent struggle with addiction.”

Then, on 22 September 2021, The Atlantic, which the neoliberal (libertarian) neoconservative (imperialist) (or now otherwise called simply “liberal”) Democratic Party billionheiress, Laurene Powell Jobs, owns, bannered “The Emerging Artistry of Hunter Biden: His upcoming solo show is a headache for the White House — and a window into the murky finances of the international art market”, and described the seedy arrangements that Hunter and the White House have made with the New York City art gallery that will be opening Hunter’s exhibition this month. Ms. Jobs takes advice from and highly respects David G. Bradley, the prior neoconservative owner of that and several other prominent American magazines.  

Then, on October 5th, another Laureen-Powell-Jobs-backed magazine, Mother Jones headlined “Check Out These Exclusive Pics From Hunter Biden’s Big LA Art Opening”, and reported:

On Friday night, at a pop-up event in Hollywood, Hunter Biden shared his artwork with the LA glitterati. In a big white room at Milk Studios, usually the site of photo or video shoots, 200 or so people gathered to experience the art of President Joe Biden’s son.

As has been previously reported, his gallerist, George Bergès, is looking to fetch between $75,000 and $500,000 a piece for Biden’s paintings.

Ms. Jobs is also a strong backer of current V.P. Kamala Harris, who is even more intensely neoconservative (pro-imperialist, pro-military-industrial complex) than is Joe Biden, and therefore Harris received backing from even more billionaires during the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential primaries than Joe Biden did. Neoconservative Democratic-Party billionaires generally want Harris to be the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate in 2024. They therefore want Biden not to run again. Ms. Jobs is now perhaps the top kingmaker in the Democratic Party, and maybe she wants Kamala Harris to be the Party’s nominee in 2024.

Then, On October 6th, Britain’s Daily Mail (which had been the only mainstream news-medium to have published, on 11 August 2021, lots of photos and other information from Hunter’s own computers, showing him naked with prostitutes and using cusswords while conversing with them) headlined “EXCLUSIVE: Hunter Biden is seen hanging out with star-studded potential buyers of his half-million-dollar art at LA’s Milk Studios debut show, despite White House claims he will have no idea who is buying his pieces”. It opened by reporting:

Hunter Biden made his professional debut on Friday at his first art exhibition in Hollywood, California, DailyMail.com can reveal 

His paintings were showcased at Milk Studios to 200 guests including Sugar Ray Leonard, Moby, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the artist behind the Obama ‘hope’ poster 

Other notable artist guests were British performer Millie Brown and  LA-born Gary Baseman – famed for his ABC/Disney animated series Teachers Pet

A writer who attended the exhibition told DailyMail.com the crowd appeared ‘conservatively wealthy and would look to be buying the work’ 

The event had raised ethics concerns after the president’s son’s paintings were priced at $75,000 to half a million dollars 

The White House claims they are avoiding any ethical conflict by ensuring neither the president nor Hunter will know the identity of the buyers   

The LA exhibition – hosted by gallerist Georges Bergès – was one of two art shows Hunter’s work will be featured in this fall 

Rupert Murdoch’s N.Y. Post bannered, on October 9th, “Art gallery repping Hunter Biden received $500K federal COVID loan, records show” and reported that,

A federal COVID loan to the art gallery repping Hunter Biden more than doubled after his father took office, records show.

The Georges Berges Gallery initially received a $150,000 COVID “disaster assistance loan” from the Small Business Administration last year, according to public records. 

But the loan was recently “revised,” with the SBA approving a further $350,000 to the SoHo gallery this summer, records show. …

All tolled, $580,000 in taxpayer-funded COVID relief aid was doled out to a gallery with only two employees, according to SBA records. …

While there is no evidence President Biden helped secure the additional $350,000 loan, a watchdog group found that of the more than 100 galleries in New York City’s 10th congressional district, which includes SoHo, TriBeCa and Chelsea, the Georges Berges Gallery received “by far” the largest SBA disaster loan windfall.

It’s so easy to become rich in America if you’re in business with ‘the right people’. 

Joe Biden is, to the Democratic Party, what Donald Trump was to the Republican Party — not its billionaires’ #1 choice for the U.S. Presidency, but an acceptable choice to them. Whereas Republican billionaires’ #1 choice was Ted Cruz, and they settled on Donald Trump in order to beat Hillary Clinton, Democratic billionaires’ #1 choice was Pete Buttigieg, and they settled on their #5 choice Biden in order to stop Bernie Sanders’s Presidential campaign. Not even a single one of America’s approximately 700 billionaires donated to Sanders, who was the most progressive of the candidates.

And, of course, billionaires and centi-millionaires are also the most sought-after customers for works of art. Hunter Biden knows the ropes in America’s high-end art market because he’s one of America’s aristocrats (despite his family’s not having yet gotten into the billionaire-class, the top class in the aristocracy). The Biden family is working its way up, in today’s American ‘democracy’. This is called “capitalism,” isn’t it? Or, is it, instead, fascism — a capitalist dictatorship, instead of any longer being a capitalist democracy? After all, America now spends approximately half of the entire world’s military expenditures, and since 1945 has done more coups and foreign invasions and military occupations than any other nation in all of the world’s history has done. And the U.S. also has a higher percentage of its residents in prisons than does any other nation on the planet. How can a nation like that NOT be a fascist regime — a capitalist imperialistic regime? (Such regimes used to be called empires, or simply imperialistic aristocracies.) Has its propaganda been fooling people?

In a country like this, the billionaires control both of the major Parties; and, whereas most Democrats view Republican politicians as being corrupt, and most Republicans view Democratic politicians as being corrupt, the truth is, instead, that the likelihood of a successful politician of either Party being not corrupt is about as probable as would be to find snow in hell. This isn’t really about the Biden clan (nor about the Trump clan); it is, instead, about today’s America: it’s simply the way that an imperialist capitalistic regime works. When has an empire NOT been corrupt? Never. It can’t function without being corrupt.

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