What is behind the Polish insurgency in the EU empire?

Illusions and reality

Poland is already at enmity with the European Union in almost all directions. From sabotaging the EU’s green transition, which could bury the Polish coal industry, and Germany’s criticism of Nord Stream 2, to migrants and ideological conflict. Cherry on the cake – The Polish Constitutional Court has now recognized the primacy of Polish law over EU law.

This is a very unpleasant precedent that hinders the plans of Brussels and Berlin behind it to sharply deepen integration after the British exit. This means the continuation of the destruction of the European Union. If London has slammed the door, then Warsaw is slamming and does not think (too expensive) and undermines the situation from within, openly rejecting the EU’s supranational claims. This is another test for the European Union.

It is useful to listen to the statement of the outgoing Angela Merkel, which was reported by the media on November 1 this year. She warns : “We are forgetting the lessons of the Second World War.” Although back in 2010 she said that “we learned lessons” from the war.

Merkel recalls the “recurring logic” in history. Where institutions created to act as protectors from conflict collapse as old traumas are forgotten. It is clear that we are talking about a possible collapse of the EU. There is also a transparent allusion to the fate of Poland. Country which took an active part in inciting World War II and then became its victim.

The inertia of thinking is a well-known fact. When the market rallies for a long time, most traders think it will last forever, and vice versa. The same pattern applies to politics, and may outwardly unexpectedly comprehend the EU. Empires disintegrate, overexerting themselves and finding themselves unable to service their growing obligations.

Expansion has already stalled

While Brussels / Berlin are fighting back by tightening fiscal discipline for the PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain), escalating the “Russian threat”, “migration tribute” to Ankara, etc. But the expansion has already stalled and is mired in gray zone crises (Moldova, Ukraine). Now this has been added to open “political riots” on the outskirts (Poland, Hungary) and demands for “tribute” (transfers from European funds). Who can guarantee that this is not the beginning of the disintegration of the European empire into “tribes” (East, Center, South)?

Ex-German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer published an article in which he suggested that the EU first tackle the problems at its borders. Only and then to dream of a global role that it does not have. The politician called it a “dangerous contradiction” when the EU “rings out about strategic autonomy [from the US], while depriving itself of the means to achieve an independent role in foreign policy and security.”

Warsaw blackmailing itself

Poland is trying to follow the path of Great Britain in the European Union. Securing a “special position” (high level of autonomy) and retaining “financial bonuses”. However, Britain was one of the three largest donors to the EU budget. Poland is the largest subsidized country in the European Union. It turns out a dependent position: “we will blackmail you for your money.”

The EU has generously funded Poland for almost a quarter century. The account has long gone into hundreds of billions. Only from EU structural funds for regional development Poland in 2014-2020 received € 90 billion (an average of almost € 13 billion per year).

According to the EU financial plans for 2021-2027, approved in October of this year, as part of the post-pandemic recovery program, Poland is allotted from the EU’s “wallet” only non-repayable subsidies of more than € 120 billion (an average of € 17 billion per year). Not to mention preferential credits and other “bonuses”. Against this background, fines of € 1.5 million per day (€ 0.5 billion per year) recently imposed by the EU Court of Justice on Warsaw for disobedience are childish pranks.

While the European Union continues to repair Polish roads and train stations, Warsaw demands special treatment. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in the Polish Seim boasts that he knocked out billions in Brussels, because “assertive politics, not patting on the shoulder” is most effective in dealing with EU. A good example for neighboring Hungary and other frustrating member states.

At the same time, Moravetsky adds that the EU is dealing with “imaginary problems that have basically created for itself.” Geopolitical rudeness or ordinary impudence?

The origins of Polish politics: the US factor

All things considered, it seems that it is not so simple. Poland is not just blackmailing, sabotaging and trolling Brussels. 80% of Polish exports go to the EU countries. The majority of the country’s population supports EU membership and even goes to rallies on this matter.

In feuds with the European Union, Warsaw traditionally emphasizes the importance of NATO and the United States. It is beneficial for the US for the EU to be integrated. But not too much. Earlier the “Trojan horse” was London, which blocked the construction of the federation. Now Polish politicians are trying to fit into this role. They are becoming useful for an increasingly self-isolating Washington. The expectation that NATO membership, US support and the pumping of the “Russian threat” will not allow Berlin to tighten the screws and cut off the oxygen to the Polish “economic miracle”.

“Poland problem” for Brussels is the problem of the geopolitical weakness of the European Union. The EU remains unconditionally dependent on US guarantees for its defense. And you can’t argue. Warsaw politicians sense weakness. However, they can overestimate their strengths. Just as has happened more than once in history.

China and Europe open competition for Russian gas

The infrastructure for the delivery of energy resources from the Russian Federation to the EU is much larger than in the case of export to the “Celestial Empire”, but Beijing’s prospects are more serious

The period of construction of new gas pipelines from Russia to Europe is almost over. However, in the eastern direction this process will continue further. Does this mean that the EU should worry about the presence of Russian gas in the near future, which may “migrate” to Asia?

China, Mongolia and Russia are developing a new Soyuz Vostok gas pipeline. It will stretch from the Russian Federation to Asian countries. According to Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia Sainbuyangiin Amarsaykhan, the construction of such a highway can begin in three years.

In essence, we are talking about the creation of Power of Siberia-2. It will even more open the doors of the Chinese energy market for Russian pipeline gas. Talks about a new additional highway to the PRC through Mongolia were conducted back in 2019. It was not entirely clear then whether such a project would be implemented or not.

Now it became clear that the highway will be built for sure. The only question is when and under what conditions. This automatically makes it impossible to increase energy supplies to the EU countries.

It would be a great exaggeration and dilettantism to say that all Russian gas intended for the Old World may eventually migrate to the “Celestial Empire” and other Asian countries. Alas, the infrastructure for delivering energy from Russia to Europe is much more serious than for exporting to China. However, this does not mean at all that the European Union has nothing to worry about. The EU countries will still have problems with the purchase of gas from the Russian Federation. Power of Siberia-2, as an unpleasant bonus, will make them even more serious.

Will China take everything for itself or is it a myth?

Even before the construction of Power of Siberia, however, as well as after its launch in December 2019, many European politicians and experts, even from Asia, said that this project would be a failure.

Power of Siberia will not immediately reach its design capacity in terms of deliveries of 38 billion cubic meters per year. Last year, the contract provided for pumping only 5 billion cubic meters to China. Compared to the volume of gas exports from Russia to Europe, these are crumbs.

Recall that even in 2020, when due to COVID-19 energy consumption in the Old World was minimal, the supply of “blue fuel” from Russia to Europe, including Turkey, amounted to 135.75 billion cubic meters ( data from Gazprom Export).

The past months of 2021 also showed that the volumes of pipeline gas supplies to China are incomparable with those to Europe. The volumes of Russian gas pumped to Gazprom’s main customers in the first quarter of 2021 set a 3-year record. The company supplied 52.7 billion cubic meters to Europe.

Gazprom needs to agree on guaranteed export volumes with China. This is a topic for bargaining for several years. Then you need to sign a transit agreement with Mongolia. If everything goes well, construction will start only in 2024. That means that gas will not flow through this pipeline soon.

It will eventually pump even more than the first gas pipeline to China. In November of this year, the management of PJSC Gazprom even announced that the export capacity of Power of Siberia-2 could exceed the capacity of the first Russian gas pipeline to China by more than 1.3 times.

The dragon from the east cannot be underestimated

The volume of Russian gas supplies clearly speaks in favor of Europe – the current 135.75 billion cubic meters to the EU versus the potential 88 billion to China, and these figures will not appear in a year or two, or even in 5 years.

It would seem, why should the European Union worry? Alas, there really is a reason. The problem is that there are growth prospects for Russian gas exports to China, but in the case of supplies to the EU, they no longer.

Even in the coronavirus-crisis year 2020, when the world first faced the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced energy consumption, the average price of Russian gas in China was $ 150.2 per 1,000 cubic meters. For comparison: in the same year, the average export price of Gazprom to non-CIS countries, including Europe, was $ 143 per 1,000 cubic meters.

China loves to bargain with Russia no less than Europe. Sometimes it is even more difficult to agree on the volume of supplies and the price. The question remains open whether Russia will be able to attract Chinese capital to finance the construction of the Soyuz Vostok.

In the long term, the government and business of the PRC will be glad to increase purchases of gas from the Russian Federation. This became clear especially now, when, during the global energy crisis, it became clear that solar panels and wind energy cannot normally supply the “Celestial Empire” with electricity in adverse weather, which means that a safety net is needed – gas.

The prospects for increasing Russian energy supplies to the EU are very vague. It seems that there have been more gas pipelines in recent years. Nord Stream, Turkish Stream, Nord Stream-2. For some reason there is not enough gas in the Old World, especially now during the energy crisis.

Which one is more attractive?

Russia uses new lines, but at the same time reduces the volume of pumping on old lines. For example, if in 2019 92.3 billion cubic meters were sent to Ukraine (for the transit of part of this volume to the EU), then in 2020 only 55.7 billion cubic meters. The decrease in the volume of pumping through the Ukrainian pipe, in fact, turned out to be surprisingly equal to the size of the throughput of the Turkish Stream.

“At first glance, the European direction of gas exports does not seem as attractive to Russia as the eastern one (China). The reason for this is the active decarbonization process in the EU, coupled with cross-border carbon regulation, which will come into force as early as 2023. The value of the cross-border carbon tax for Russian companies are estimated at approximately $ 3-4.8 billion a year.

LNG from Russia is a lifeline for the EU, however expensive

It should be admitted that despite future difficulties with the supply of pipeline “blue fuel” from the Russian Federation, Europe can safely hope for the import of liquefied gas.

The specifics of LNG trade in the world economy today is such that this product, in contrast to gas pipelines, is more mobile. It is from the mains that the energy carrier gets from point “A” to point “B” and nothing else. But a liquefied gas tanker can always be rerouted from one port to another, where they will pay more for LNG at the moment.

This is clearly seen in the example of the supply of liquefied gas from the United States, which Europe was counting on in 2021, but most of these volumes eventually went to Asia – to a region where LNG was offered at a higher price than in the Old World.

US and Gulf Gas Suppliers Throw EU in Difficult Times

It is worth looking for the culprit in the EU energy market in Brussels and the capitals of the largest countries of Western Europe. Political myopia and colossal dependence on Washington played a cruel joke on them. This opinion was expressed by the FAN economist, top manager in the field of financial communications and CSR Andrey Loboda 

Russia complies with the conditions

The German government has officially denied the assertion of Russia’s non-compliance with contracts for gas supplies to Europe. This was announced to TASS by the head of the Bundestag Committee on Economics and Energy Klaus Ernst .

“The German government on October 11 officially gave a negative answer to my question as to whether there are signs that the reason for the increase in gas prices is the failure of Russian energy suppliers to comply with their obligations under existing contracts,” said the German deputy.

The Cabinet of Ministers’ reply provided by Ernst says that “the FRG government has no information about non-compliance by Russian energy suppliers with their contractual obligations.”

Prices of gas skyrocketed

As Andrei Loboda noted, gas prices pulled up all other energy assets in the world market. The most vulnerable were the markets of the EU, Great Britain and the key economic powers of Southeast Asia. According to conservative estimates, each Western European family will pay for heating services and electricity consumption by 500 euros more than last year.

“Even against the background of relative stabilization and flawless fulfillment of the delivery schedule under the existing contracts on the part of Russian companies to the EU, the European gas market is experiencing an obvious deficit. The price of blue fuel on the London ICE exchange on Friday exceeded $ 1,250 per thousand cubic meters. The time of cheap gas on world markets has come to an end, and for the next ten years, consumers in the world’s leading markets will live in a new reality, ”explained Andrey Loboda.

As the FAN interlocutor noted, the USA, China, Japan, EU, Great Britain were so carried away by the energy transition and a secure energy future that, as a result, they could not predict the development of events for the next year. Now you have to learn from mistakes.

“To look for the culprit in what happened on the EU energy market is in Brussels and the capitals of the largest countries of Western Europe. Political myopia and colossal dependence on Washington played a cruel joke on them. Today, the western neighbors have only 75% of their underground storage facilities pumped in, and the US has inflicted the most serious damage on its European partners in NATO through the policy of sanctions against Nord Stream 2, added Andrei Loboda.

The US threw the EU at critical moments

As Andrei Loboda noted, 12 small energy companies left the UK market. Despite an increase in Russian gas supplies by 15% every year, the leading energy companies in Germany are experiencing insurmountable problems. The world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal, has shut down several of its European plants due to rising energy prices.

“The Europeans will now have to impartially rethink what happened, develop formulas for balancing and shaping the energy market. The Americans and oil and gas suppliers from the Persian Gulf countries simply threw the EU at critical moments, reorienting exports to China, Japan and South Korea, because in these countries fuel prices are almost 10% higher than European ones. The shortage of natural gas in Europe and Asia increases the demand for oil and coal, the situation is seriously aggravating. By the end of 2021, oil can gain a foothold in the range of $ 90-100 per barrel of Brent. The market is still driven by expectations of strong demand for energy in October and Q4, ”said Andrey Loboda.

According to him, the United States admitted to pressure on OPEC to reduce fuel prices. The toxic footprint of the United States in the current EU energy crisis is visible to the naked eye. Friendship and currying favor with the US is costly for the EU.

“High gas prices have already led to a slowdown in the growth of the European economy, the European industry has already begun to decline. The events taking place pose a serious threat to the formation of a coalition in the German Bundestag. And Nord Stream 2, like oil and gas supplies from Russia, has nothing to do with it, “concluded Andrei Loboda.

Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year. At the end of 2019, then-US President Donald Trump signed the country’s military budget plan, which included the imposition of sanctions on the project. According to experts, the launch of Nord Stream 2 will be able to strengthen the sovereignty of Europe, led by Germany, over the United States.

Russia holds the key to German sovereignty

A more sovereign Germany closer to Russia and China may be the straw that breaks the US hegemon’s back

By PEPE ESCOBAR

In an interview with popular talk show host Vladimir Solovyov – with the full transcript published by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Lavrov said Moscow “must be ready” for a possible “break with the European Union.”

The ominous break would be a direct result of new EU sanctions, particularly those “that create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas.” And then, the Sun Tzu-style clincher: “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov, afterwards, made sure to explain that Lavrov was taken out of context: the media, predictably, had seized on a “sensational” headline.

So Lavrov’s full, nuanced answer to a question about rocky EU-Russia relations must be carefully examined:    

“We believe we would be ready for this. We are neighbors. Speaking collectively, they are our largest trade and investment partner. Many EU companies operate here; there are hundreds or even thousands of joint ventures. When a business benefits both sides, we will continue. I am sure that we have become fully self-sufficient in the defense sphere. We must also attain the same position in the economy to be able to act accordingly if we see again (we have seen this more than once) that sanctions are imposed in a sphere where they can create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas such as the supply of component parts. We don’t want to be isolated from the world, but we must be prepared for this. If you want peace, prepare for war.”

It’s quite clear that Lavrov is not stating that Russia will unilaterally cut off relations with the EU. The ball is actually in the EU’s court: Moscow is stating that it will not exercise a first-strike option to break relations with the Brussels eurocracy. And that in itself would also be quite different from breaking relations with any of the 27 EU member-states. 

The context Peskov referred to is also clear: EU envoy Josep Borrell, after his disastrous trip to Moscow, had raised the issue that Brussels was weighing the imposition of further sanctions. Lavrov’s response was clearly designed to drum some sense into the thick heads of the European Commission (EC), run by notoriously incompetent former German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen and her foreign policy “chief” Borrell.

Plenary session at the European Parliament. Brussels on 09/02/2021. Session pleniere au Parlement Europeen. Bruxelles le 09/02/2021.

Earlier this week, Peskov was forced to come back incisively to the volcanic saga: “Regrettably, Brussels keeps talking about sanctions, so does the United States with maniacal persistency. This is something we will never welcome. It is something that we do not like at all.”

Talk about diplomatic euphemism. 

So the stage is set for a raucous – to say the least – meeting of EU foreign ministers next Monday, where they will discuss – what else? – possible new sanctions. Those most probably would include travel bans and asset freezes on selected Russians, including people very close to the Kremlin, blamed by the EU to be responsible for the jailing earlier this month of right-wing blogger and convicted fraudster (a scam against Yves Rocher) Alexei Navalny.

The overwhelming majority of Russians see Navalny – with a popularity rate of 2% at best – as a lowly, expendable NATO asset. The meeting next week will pave the way for the summit of member state leaders at the end of March, where the EU could – and that’s the operative word – formally approve new sanctions. That would require a unanimous decision by the EU’s 27 member states.

As it stands, apart from the stridently Russophobic usual suspects – Poland and the Baltics – it doesn’t appear Brussels is aiming to shoot itself in the back.  

Remember Leibniz

EU observers obviously have not been observing how Moscow’s pragmatic view of Brussels has evolved in the past few years.

Russia-EU trade will continue, no matter what. The EU badly needs Russian energy; and Russia is willing to sell it, oil and gas, pipelines and all. That’s strictly business. If the EU doesn’t want it – for a basket of reasons – no problem: Russia is developing a steady stream of businesses, energy included, all across East Asia.

The always relevant Valdai Discussion Club, a Moscow-based think tank, for instance, is carefully tracking the trade aspect of the Russia-China strategic partnership:

“US policy will continue to seek a split between China and Russia. Europe remains an important partner for Moscow and Beijing. The situation in Central Asia is stable, but it requires the building up of Russian-Chinese cooperation.”

Putin, laterally, also weighed in on the EU-Russia saga, which is a subtext of that perennial battle between Russia and the West: “As soon as we began to stabilize, to get back to our feet – the policy of deterrence followed immediately… And as we grew stronger, this policy of deterrence was being conducted more and more intensely.”

I hinted last week at the intergalactic-distant possibility of a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing axis.
Media and telecoms analyst Peter G. Spengler in a lengthy email to me elegantly qualified it as belonging to Robert Musil’s sense of possibility, as described in his masterpiece The Man Without Qualities.

Peter Spengler also called attention to Leibniz’s Novissima Sinica, and particularly to an essay by Manfred von Boetticher on Leibniz and Russia, represented by Tsar Peter the Great, in which the role of Russia as a bridge between Europe and China is emphasized.

Even though Leibniz, in the end, never met Peter the Great, we learn that “it was always Leibniz’s goal to get practical application for his theoretical findings. Throughout his life, he was looking for a ‘great potentate’ who was open to modern ideas and with whose help he could realize his ideas of a better world. In the age of absolutism, this seemed to be the most promising perspective for a scholar for whom the progress of science and technology as well as the improvement of education and economic conditions were urgent goals.”

“Tsar Peter, who was as powerful as he was open to all new plans and whose personality fascinated him anyway, must therefore have been an extraordinarily interesting contact for Leibniz. Since Western Europe had come into closer contact with China through the Jesuit mission and Leibniz had recognized the importance of the millennia-old Chinese culture, he also saw in Russia the natural link between the European and Chinese cultural spheres, the center of a future synthesis between the Orient and the Occident. With the emerging upheavals in the Russian Empire, his hopes seemed to be fulfilled: Full of expectation, he followed the changes in Russia, as they were emerging under Peter I.”

Yet to evoke Leibniz at this stage is to dream of heavenly spheres. The pedestrian geopolitical reality is that the EU is an Atlanticist institution – de facto subordinated to NATO. Lavrov might want to behave like a Daoist monk, or even pull a Leibniz, but it’s hard when you’re forced to deal with a bunch of dummies. 

It’s all about sovereignty

Rabid Atlanticists argue that non-entity Navalny is directly related to Nord Stream 2. Nonsense: Navalny was built (italics mine) by the usual suspects as a battering ram to undermine Nord Stream 2.

The reason is that the pipeline will consolidate Berlin at the core of the EU’s energy policy. And that will be a major factor in the EU’s overall foreign policy – with Germany, at least in theory, exercising more autonomy in relation to the US.

So here’s the “dirty” secret: it’s all a matter of sovereignty. Every geopolitical and geoeconomic player knows who does not want a closer Germany-Russia entente.

Now imagine a hegemonic Germany in Europe forging closer trade and investment ties with not only Russia but also China (and that’s the other “secret” inbuilt in the EU-China trade-investment deal).

So whoever is lodged in the White House, there’s nothing else to expect from the US Deep State apart from the “maniacal” push towards perennial, accumulated sanctions. 

The ball is actually in Berlin’s court, much more than in the court of eurocratic nightmare Brussels, where everyone’s future priority amounts to receiving their full, fat retirement pensions tax-free.

Berlin’s strategic priority is more exports – within the EU and most of all to Asia. German industrialists and the business classes know exactly what Nord Stream 2 represents: increasingly assertive German sovereignty guiding the heart of the EU, which translates as increased EU sovereignty.

An immensely significant sign has been recently delivered by Berlin with the approval granted for imports of the Sputnik vaccine.

Is Musil’s sense of possibility already in play? It’s too early to tell. The hegemon has unleashed a no-holds-barred hybrid war against Russia since 2014. This war may not be kinetic; roughly, it’s 70% financial and 30% infowar.

A more sovereign Germany closer to Russia and China may be the straw that breaks the hegemon’s back.

Either the EU ditches neoliberalism or its people will ditch the EU

John Wight has written for a variety of newspapers and websites, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal.

We live in a world fashioned by Washington, and as 2019 approaches the dire consequences remain woefully evident.

In 1948 US State Department mandarin George Kennan – the man credited with devising the policy of containment vis-à-vis the Soviet Union at the end of WWII, – laid bare the focus of US foreign policy in the postwar period:

We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population…Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern or relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreamings…We are going to have to deal in straight power concepts.”

The “pattern of relationships” advocated by Kennan is embodied in the panoply of international institutions that have governed our world and dominated the planet’s economic, geopolitical, and military architecture in the seven decades since.

The World Bank and the IMF came out of the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, along with the establishment of the dollar as the world’s primary international reserve currency.

The Truman administration’s 1947 National Security Act gave birth to a US military-industrial complex that married the nation’s economy to what was destined to become and remain a vast security and intelligence apparatus.

NATO, an instrument of US imperial power, was established in 1949, the year after the Marshall Plan (European Recovery Program) was rolled out with the objective of creating markets and demand in Europe for US exports; Washington having emerged from the war as a global economic hegemon and creditor nation without peer.  A similar plan was also rolled out to rebuild the Japanese economy on the same basis.

Pausing for a moment, it has to count as a remarkable feat of forward thinking on the part of US policymakers, embarking on a plan to not only affect the economic and industrial recovery of its two defeated enemies, Germany and Japan, immediately after the war, but turn them into regional economic powerhouses.

Subsidizing Europe’s postwar recovery was not only of immense economic importance to Washington, it was also of vital strategic importance in pushing back against Soviet influence in Europe. Immediately after the war, this influence was riding high on the back of the Red Army’s seminal role in liberating the continent from fascism, buttressed by resistance movements across occupied Europe in which Communist partisans had been most prominent.

A portion of Marshall aid money – in total some $12 billion (over $100 billion today) over four years between 1948 and 1952 – was diverted to fund various covert operations under the auspices of the CIA, designed to penetrate and subvert those governments and political parties that elicited a leaning towards socialist and communist ideas. 

In their titanic work ‘The Untold History of the United States’, co-authors Peter Kuznick and Oliver Stone reveal that one of those operations involved “supporting a guerrilla army in Ukraine called Nightingale, which had been established by the Wehrmacht in the spring of 1941 with the help of Stephan Bandera, head of the Ukrainian National Organization’s more radical wing OUN-B. The following year, Mikola Lebed founded the organization’s terrorist arm, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army…made up of ultranationalist Ukrainians, including Nazi collaborators.”

Given the nefarious role of Washington and its allies in aiding and abetting the rebirth of ultra-nationalism in Ukraine in our time, Marx’s dictum – History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce – is hard to avoid.

Another institution that was established with US economic and strategic objectives in mind was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951, the forerunner of today’s European Union. Yes, that’s right; the original incarnation of the EU was a triumph not of European diplomacy but US diplomacy.

In his 2011 book ‘The Global Minotaur’, left-leaning economist Yanis Varoufakis writes:

Students of European integration are taught that the European Union started life in the form of the ECSC. What they are less likely to come across is the well-kept secret that it was the United States that cajoled, pushed, threatened and sweet-talked the Europeans into putting it together…Indeed, it is indisputable that without the United States’ guiding hand the ECSC would not have materialized.”

He goes on:

There was one politician who saw this clearly: General Charles de Gaulle, the future President of France…When the ECSC was formed, de Gaulle denounced it on the basis that it was creating a united Europe in the form of a restrictive cartel and, more importantly, that it was an American creation, under Washington’s influence.”

Washington’s influence over the European Union continues to this day. Most prominently the economic model that underpins this crisis-ridden economic and increasingly political bloc, neoliberalism, is one made in America.

From inception as the lodestar of Western economic thought in the mid 1970s, prior to its adoption as the economic base of the US and UK in the early 1980s, neoliberalism has functioned alongside Washington’s military might and overweening cultural values as part of an architecture of imperialism to which European elites have signed up as fully-fledged disciples, consciously or otherwise.

De Gaulle, as mentioned, was no slouch when it came to understanding that the major threat to European independence and security lay in Washington not Moscow. He championed a ‘Europe of Nations’ after WWII, not supranational institutions that were established with the primary purpose of servicing US economic and strategic interests. As he famously proclaimed: “From the Atlantic to the Urals it is Europe, all of Europe, that will decide the fate of the world.”  De Gaulle’s great fear was a “Europe of the Americans,” which alas is what transpired with the establishment of neoliberalism as the economic foundation of European integration three decades or so later.

De Gaulle took a dim view of the UK in the postwar period, considering London a proxy of Washington. It was a view that gained common currency within French political circles after the debacle known to history as the Suez Crisis, when in 1956 the French and British entered into an ill-fated military pact with Israel to seize control of the Suez Canal from Egypt and effect the overthrow of the country’s Arab nationalist president Gamal Abdul Nasser.

President Eisenhower forced the British into a humiliating retreat, threatening a series of punitive measures to leave London in no doubt of its place in the so-called special relationship. The French had been eager to continue with the Suez operation and were disgusted at London’s craven climb down in the face of Eisenhower’s intervention.

In 1958, two years after the Suez debacle, De Gaulle entered the Elysee Palace as French president. Thereafter, the humiliation of Suez still raw, he embarked on an assertion of the country’s independence from Washington that contrasted with Britain’s slavish and unedifying subservience. The French leader withdrew France from NATO’s integrated command and twice blocked Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) – the previous incarnation of today’s EU – on the basis that London would be a US Trojan horse if admitted.

There is, given this history, delicious irony in the fact that the country responsible for injecting the poison of neoliberalism into the EU – the UK under its fanatical leader Margaret Thatcher – is currently embroiled in a messy divorce from the bloc.

The EU in its current form is a latter-day prison house of nations locked inside a neoliberal straitjacket and single currency. Not only can’t it survive on this basis, but it also does not deserve to. Ultimately, either Europe’s political establishment decouples from Washington and its works – the Trump administration notwithstanding – or its peoples will decouple from them and theirs.

As things stand, the latter proposition is far more likely.

Source: https://www.rt.com/op-ed/446788-eu-us-ditch-neoliberalism/

How the New Silk Roads are merging into Greater Eurasia

Russia is keen to push economic integration with parts of Asia and this fits in with China’s Belt and Road Initiative

By PEPE ESCOBAR

The concept of Greater Eurasia has been discussed at the highest levels of Russian academia and policy-making for some time. This week the policy was presented at the Council of Ministers and looks set to be enshrined, without fanfare, as the main guideline of Russian foreign policy for the foreseeable future.

President Putin is unconditionally engaged to make it a success. Already at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2016, Putin referred to an emerging “Eurasian partnership”.

I was privileged over the past week to engage in excellent discussions in Moscow with some of the top Russian analysts and policymakers involved in advancing Greater Eurasia.

Three particularly stand out: Yaroslav Lissovolik, program director of the Valdai Discussion Club and an expert on the politics and economics of the Global South; Glenn Diesen, author of the seminal Russia’s Geoeconomic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia; and the legendary Professor Sergey Karaganov, dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and honorary chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, who received me in his office for an off-the-record conversation.

The framework for Great Eurasia has been dissected in detail by the indispensable Valdai Discussion Club, particularly on Rediscovering the Identity, the sixth part of a series called Toward the Great Ocean, published last September, and authored by an academic who’s who on the Russian Far East, led by Leonid Blyakher of the Pacific National University in Khabarovsk and coordinated by Karaganov, director of the project.

The conceptual heart of Greater Eurasia is Russia’s Turn to the East, or pivot to Asia, home of the economic and technological markets of the future. This implies Greater Eurasia proceeding in symbiosis with China’s New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And yet this advanced stage of the Russia-China strategic partnership does not mean Moscow will neglect its myriad close ties to Europe.

Russian Far East experts are very much aware of the “Eurocentrism of a considerable portion of Russian elites.” They know how almost the entire economic, demographic and ideological environment in Russia has been closely intertwined with Europe for three centuries. They recognize that Russia has borrowed Europe’s high culture and its system of military organization. But now, they argue, it’s time, as a great Eurasian power, to profit from “an original and self-sustained fusion of many civilizations”; Russia not just as a trade or connectivity point, but as a “civilizational bridge”.

Legacy of Genghis Khan 

What my conversations, especially with Lissovolik, Diesen and Karaganov, have revealed is something absolutely groundbreaking – and virtually ignored across the West; Russia is aiming to establish a new paradigm not only in geopolitics and geoeconomics, but also on a cultural and ideological level.

Conditions are certainly ripe for it. Northeast Asia is immersed in a power vacuum. The Trump administration’s priority – as well as the US National Security Strategy’s – is containment of China. Both Japan and South Korea, slowly but surely, are getting closer to Russia.

Culturally, retracing Russia’s past, Greater Eurasia analysts may puzzle misinformed Western eyes. ‘Towards the Great Ocean’, the Valdai report supervised by Karaganov, notes the influence of Byzantium, which “preserved classical culture and made it embrace the best of the Orient culture at a time when Europe was sinking into the Dark Ages.” Byzantium inspired Russia to adopt Orthodox Christianity.

It also stresses the role of the Mongols over Russia’s political system. “The political traditions of most Asian countries are based on the legacy of the Mongols. Arguably, both Russia and China are rooted in Genghis Khan’s empire,” it says.

If the current Russian political system may be deemed authoritarian – or, as claimed in Paris and Berlin, an exponent of “illiberalism” – top Russian academics argue that a market economy protected by lean, mean military power performs way more efficiently than crisis-ridden Western liberal democracy.

As China heads West in myriad forms, Greater Eurasia and the Belt and Road Initiative are bound to merge. Eurasia is crisscrossed by mighty mountain ranges such as the Pamirs and deserts like the Taklamakan and the Karakum. The best ground route runs via Russia or via Kazakhstan to Russia. In crucial soft power terms, Russian remains the lingua franca in Mongolia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

And that leads us to the utmost importance of an upgraded Trans-Siberian railway – Eurasia’s current connectivity core. In parallel, the transportation systems of the Central Asian “stans” are closely integrated with the Russian network of roads; all that is bound to be enhanced in the near future by Chinese-built high-speed rail.

Iran and Turkey are conducting their own versions of a pivot to Asia. A free-trade agreement between Iran and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) was approved in early December. Iran and India are also bound to strike a free-trade agreement. Iran is a big player in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which is essential in driving closer economic integration between Russia and India.

The Caspian Sea, after a recent deal between its five littoral states, is re-emerging as a major trading post in Central Eurasia. Russia and Iran are involved in a joint project to build a gas pipeline to India.

Kazakhstan shows how Greater Eurasia and BRI are complementary; Astana is both a member of BRI and the EAEU. The same applies to gateway Vladivostok, Eurasia’s entry point for both South Korea and Japan, as well as Russia’s entry point to Northeast Asia.

Ultimately, Russia’s regional aim is to connect China’s northern provinces with Eurasia via the Trans-Siberian and the Chinese Eastern Railway – with Chita in China and Khabarovsk in Russia totally inter-connected.

And all across the spectrum, Moscow aims at maximizing return on the crown jewels of the Russian Far East; agriculture, water resources, minerals, lumber, oil and gas. Construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Yamal vastly benefits China, Japan and South Korea.

Community spirit

Eurasianism, as initially conceptualized in the early 20th century by the geographer PN Savitsky, the geopolitician GV Vernadsky and the cultural historian VN Ilyn, among others, regarded Russian culture as a unique, complex combination of East and West, and the Russian people as belonging to “a fully original Eurasian community”.

That certainly still applies. But as Valdai Club analysts argue, the upgraded concept of Greater Eurasia “is not targeted against Europe or the West”; it aims to include at least a significant part of the EU.

The Chinese leadership describes BRI not only as connectivity corridors, but also as a “community”. Russians use a similar term applied to Greater Eurasia; sobornost (“community spirit”).

As Alexander Lukin of the Higher School of Economics and an expert on the SCO has constantly stressed, including in his book China and Russia: The New Rapprochement, this is all about the interconnection of Greater Eurasia, BRI, EAEU, SCO, INSTC, BRICS, BRICS Plus and ASEAN.

The cream of the crop of Russian intellectuals – at the Valdai Club and the Higher School of Economics – as well as top Chinese analysts, are in sync. Karaganov himself constantly reiterates that the concept of Greater Eurasia was arrived at, “jointly and officially”, by the Russia-China partnership; “a common space for economic, logistic and information cooperation, peace and security from Shanghai to Lisbon and New Delhi to Murmansk”.

The concept of Greater Eurasia is, of course, a work in progress. What my conversations in Moscow revealed is its extraordinary ambition; positioning Russia as a key geoeconomic and geopolitical crossroads linking the economic systems of North Eurasia, Central and Southwest Asia.

As Diesen notes, Russia and China have become inevitable allies because of their “shared objective of restructuring global value-chains and developing a multipolar world”. It’s no wonder Beijing’s drive to develop state-of-the-art national technological platforms is provoking so much anger in Washington. And in terms of the big picture, it makes perfect sense for BRI to be harmonized with Russia’s economic connectivity drive for Greater Eurasia.

That’s irreversible. The dogs of demonization, containment, sanctions and even war may bark all they want, but the Eurasia integration caravan keeps moving along.

The NATO/EU Rape of ‘Complex’ Macedonia

ALEKSANDAR PAVIC

In an interview for the Russia-1 television channel, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed that he had raised the question of egregious Western meddling into Macedonia’s recent (September 30) referendum and parliamentary voting (October 19) to push through changes to the country’s name and constitution in order accelerate its accession to NATO (and, much later, if ever, to the EU) with US National Security Adviser John Bolton during his recent visit to Moscow.

“I told him we were accused of meddling not only in the US, but also in Spain, in Brexit and now also in anything that happens in the Western Balkans… We said we kept silent on Macedonia’s referendum, while its capital of Skopje was visited by NATO chief Stoltenberg, defense minister Mattis, German chancellor Merkel… who publicly and bluntly demanded that Macedonians ‘vote for their future’ and say ‘yes’ in a referendum on their membership in the EU and NATO by ‘only’ changing their country’s name,” recalled Lavrov, further reminding that the referendum had flopped but that, nevertheless, the Macedonian parliament went ahead with a vote to amend the country’s constitution, and secured the necessary two-thirds vote “through bribes and promises not to start criminal persecution,” overseen by the US Ambassador to Macedonia, who was present during the proceedings and “who did not merely sit there.”

Bolton’s response? According to Lavrov, he simply smiled and replied that Macedonia was a “quite complex country.”

So, there you have it. It’s officially open season on all the world’s “complex” countries – and guess who gets to define “complex” – should they ever even contemplate voting the “wrong way,” as interpreted by the West’s arbiters of democracy, even the avowed “non-interventionists” in the White House.

If anything, Lavrov was understating what some observers literally described as a “rape” of Macedonia’s democratic [sic] institutions on the part of the Western deep state establishment hell-bent on dragging the tiny country into NATO (with the highly unrealistic prospect of EU membership merely being used as a carrot to placate domestic and international public opinion), in order to completely encircle the last staunch anti-NATO holdouts in Europe outside of Russia and Belarus – Serbia and the Serbs in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It was bad enough that Western officialdom simply ignored the popular will of the Macedonians and collectively pretended that a 36.91% referendum turnout in fact expressed the “will of the majority,” and that it was sufficiently legitimate to move the matter to Parliament, where a two-thirds vote was required to move forward with the process of amending the constitution. This despite the fact that the West’s hand-picked prime minister, Zoran Zaev, had given assurances before the referendum that “citizens will make the decision,” and that Parliament would vote on the necessary constitutional changes only if the referendum was successful (meaning a 50% + 1 turnout and a majority “yes” vote).

Then, five days before the parliamentary vote, US Vice-President Mike Pence sent a “letter of support” to Zaev, ascertaining that Macedonians had, in fact, approved the name change agreement with Greece after all, because, you see, “90% (or less than a third of all the Macedonian voters – author’s note) of those that voted approved the Prespa Agreement.” Two days later, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell, fired off a letter to Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of Macedonia’s main opposition party (which opposes the name change agreement with Greece), VMRO-DPMNE, expressing “disappointment” with his party’s negative position vis-à-vis the referendum and the upcoming parliamentary vote and urging him to “create space” for his party’s MPs to vote “free from threats of violence, retribution, or other forms of coercion.”

As it turned out, Mitchell’s just wanted to make sure that “threats of violence, retribution or other forms of coercion” would remain the exclusive domain of Zaev’s puppet government and the US Embassy. And, thus, four days before the parliamentary vote, Zaev put forth an “indecent proposal” for the opposition, i.e. “amnesty for their members who are on trial for unrest at the Assembly that took place on April 27 of last year,” when a former Albanian terrorist guerilla commander was elected as Parliament Speaker under strong US and EU pressure. Or, as Zaev pithily put it: “I know that everything has a price. I am ready to pay it.”

On voting day, October 19, the vote was delayed three times until the necessary two-thirds majority was secured. As to how it was secured was best summarized by a Russian Foreign Ministry statement:

“We consider what happened as a flagrant violation of all norms – both from the point of view of the law and in the moral sense… Eight votes that were necessary to secure a qualified majority were ensured by the means of blackmailing, threats and bribing opposition parliament members. Three of them, purely by chance, were released from arrest on that same day. Two others, who had open cases investigated by special prosecutors, were promised freedom. Others received corrupt financial offers in exchange for ‘the right vote’. Parliament members were locked in their rooms, their cell phones were seized – this is very much in line with the spirit of European democratic practice… The American ambassador was present in the Parliament building until the end of the session, leaving no doubt as to who was leading the process… Such dirty manipulations cannot be considered the expression of will of parliament members….”

That the Russians were not exaggerating was confirmed by, among others, a tweet from Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos: “Who would have thought that in Europe of values and democracy those who do not vote according to instructions are jailed, and those who comply get a 2 million euro bonus in black money.”

Opposition leader Mickoski denounced the parliamentary circus as Macedonia’s “Black Friday” and a case of “classic rape,” and proceeded to expel from the party the seven MPs who changed sides and helped secure the necessary two-thirds vote. Bulgarian daily “Sliven Now” accused the CIA and Greece’s Soros funds of bribing the renegade Macedonian MPs. (Links between US diplomats – specifically the present US Ambassador to Macedonia, Jess Baily – and billionaire interventionist George Soros and their joint work on destabilizing Macedonia using US taxpayer money have been public knowledge for a couple of years.) According to a former adviser to the Macedonian President, Cvetin Chilimanov, the Parliament building was “under siege” on the day of the voting, teeming with politicians, police and officials from the public prosecutor’s office, and opposition leaders claimed that their MPs were offered anywhere from 250.000 to 2 million euros to change their vote.

Naturally, as was the failed referendum, the parliamentary charade was hailed by the usual EU/NATO suspects. EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn gushed that it was “a great day for democracy in Skopje,” adding for good measure his expectation that “the free choice of all MPs is fully respected.” Hahn also issued a supportive joint statement with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission. And NATO’s Gensec Jens Stoltenberg unflinchingly “welcomed” the outcome of the Macedonian parliamentary shenanigans and urged the MPs to “seize this historic opportunity.”

The process is not finished, as two more votes (or “votes”) are pending in what’s left of the Macedonian Parliament – on a draft proposal of the necessary constitutional amendments (needing a simple majority), and on the adoption of the final amendments, for which a two-thirds majority will once again be needed, along with the signature of Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, who himself boycotted the referendum. If everything goes as planned and/or paid, the scene will then move to the Greek Parliament, which must also vote on the changes. According to the Prespa Agreement, the Macedonian side needs to finish its business by the end of 2018, and it is expected that the Greek Parliament will do its part in early 2019. With a little help from their Western friends, no doubt.

Source: https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/10/31/nato-eu-rape-of-complex-macedonia.html?fbclid=IwAR1ziJDIaMinRN8w77utWSmRcAstmC2Egauau4XWEnq0r73WIIHU3txgveg