Russia’s Economy Little Harmed by West’s Sanctions

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

Despite Barack Obama’s economic sanctions against Russia, and the plunge in oil prices that King Saud agreed to with Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry on 11 September 2014, the economic damages that the U.S. and Sauds have aimed against a particular oil-and-gas giant, Russia, have hit mostly elsewhere — at least till now.

Amazingly, Obama’s violent February 2014 coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych (an overthrow that the head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor called “the most blatant coup in history”) has caused Ukraine’s economy to plunge even further than Russia’s, and corruption in Ukraine to soar even higher than it had been before Ukraine’s coup. Ukraine’s economy has actually been harmed far more than Russia’s was by Obama’s coup in Ukraine and by Obama’s subsequent economic sanctions against Russia (sanctions that are based on clear and demonstrable Obama lies but that continue and even get worse under Trump). 

Whereas the well-being of Ukrainians plunged drastically between 2013 (the last year of the government that Obama overthrew) and 2017, the well-being of Russians was virtually the same during 2017 as it had been during 2013 (the final year before The West punished Russia in 2014 for Russia’s responses to Obama’s Ukrainian coup).

Bloomberg News headlined on 4 February 2016, “These Are the World’s Most Miserable Economies” and reported the “misery index” rankings of 60 national economies in 2015, and of 63 national economies as projected in 2016, all based on a standard ranking-system that calculates “misery” as being the sum of the unemployment-rate and the inflation-rate. They also compared the 2016 projected rankings to the 2015 actual rankings.

Top rank, #1 both years — the most miserable economy in the world during 2015 and 2016 — was Venezuela, because of that country’s 95% dependence upon oil-export earnings (which crashed when oil-prices plunged). The U.S.-Saudi agreement to flood the global oil market destroyed Venezuela’s economy.

#2 most-miserable in 2015 was Ukraine, at 57.8. But Ukraine started bouncing back so that as projected in 2016 it ranked #5, at 26.3. Russia in 2015 was #7 most-miserable in 2015, at 21.1, but bounced back so that as projected in 2016 it became #14 at 14.5.

Bloomberg hadn’t reported misery-index rankings for 2014 showing economic performances during 2013, but economist Steve H. Hanke of Johns Hopkins University did, in his “Measuring Misery Around the World, May 2014,” in the May 2014 GlobeAsia, ranking 90 countries; and, during 2013 (Yanukovych’s final year as Ukraine’s President before his being forced out by Obama’s coup), Ukraine’s rank was #23 and its misery-index was 24.4. Russia’s was #36 and its misery index was 19.9.  So: those can be considered to be the baseline-figures, from which any subsequent economic progress or decline (after Obama’s 2014 Ukrainian coup) may reasonably be calculated. Hanke’s figures during the following year, 2014, were reported by him at Huffington Post, “The World Misery Index: 108 Countries”, and at UAE’s Khaleej Times, “List of Most Miserable Countries” (the latter falsely attributing that ranking to Cato Institute, which had merely republished Hanke’s article). In 2014, Ukraine’s misery-index, as calculated by Hanke, was  #4, at 51.8. That year had 8 countries above 40.0 in Hanke’s ranking. Russia was #42 at 21.42. So: Russia’s rank had improved, but, because of the globally bad economy, Russia’s absolute number (not the rank) was slightly worse (higher) than it had been before Obama’s coup in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Russia. By contrast, Ukraine’s performance had suddenly gotten far worse, ranking #4 at 51.80 in 2014, after having been #23 at 24.4 in 2013. In other words: Ukraine’s “Economic Misery” soared immediately after the coup.

The figures in Bloomberg for Russia were: during 2015, #7 with a misery-index of 21.1; and projected during 2016, #14 with a misery-index of 14.5; so, Bloomberg too showed a 2015-2016 improvement for Russia, and not only for Ukraine (where in the 2016 projection it ranked #5, at 26.3, a sharp improvement after the horrendous 2015 actual numbers).

“Hanke’s Annual Misery Index — 2017” in Forbes, showed 98 countries, and Venezuela was still #1, the worst; Ukraine was now #9 at 36.9; and Russia was #36 at 18.1.

Thus: whereas Russia was economically stunningly stable at #36 from start to finish throughout the entire five-year period 2013-2017, starting with a misery-index of 19.9 in 2013 and ending with 18.1 in 2017, Ukraine went from a misery-index of 24.4 in 2013 to 36.9 in 2017 — and worsening its rank from #23 in 2013 to #9 in 2017. During that five-year period Ukraine’s figure peaked in the year of Obama’s coup at 57.8. So, at least Ukraine’s economic misery seems to be heading back downward in the coup’s aftermath, though it’s still considerably worse than it was before the coup. But, meanwhile, Russia went from 19.9 to 18.1 — and had no year that was as bad as Ukraine’s best year was during that period of time.

And, yet: that coup and the economic sanctions and the U.S.-Saudi oil-agreement were targeted against Russia — not against Ukraine. Of course, Ukraine’s performance plunged not because of the anti-Russia sanctions, but because of Obama’s coup.

If the U.S. were trying to punish the people of Ukraine, then the U.S. coup in Ukraine would have been a raving success; but, actually, Obama didn’t care at all about Ukrainians. He cared only about the owners of America’s weapons-making firms and of America’s extractive firms. Trump did likewise, by intensifying both Obama’s war against Russia and Obama’s support for the Obama-imposed post-coup Government of Ukraine.

During that same period (also using Hanke’s numbers) the United States went from #71 at 11.0 in 2013, to #69 at 8.2 in 2017. U.S. was stable, as was Russia.

Saudi Arabia started with #40 at 18.9 during 2013, to #30 at 20.2 in 2017. That’s improvement, because the Kingdom outperformed the global economy.

During the interim, and even in the years leading up to 2014, Russia had been (and still is) refocusing its economy away from Russia’s natural resources and toward a broad sector of high technology: military R&D and production. 

On 15 December 2014, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute headlined, “Sales by Largest Arms Companies Fell Again in 2013, but Russian Firms’ Sales Continued Rising,” and reported, “Sales by companies headquartered in the United States and Canada have continued to moderately decrease, while sales by Russian-based companies increased by 20 per cent in 2013.”

The following year, SIPRI bannered, on 14 December 2015, “Global Arms Industry: West Still Dominant Despite Decline,” and reported that, “Despite difficult national economic conditions, the Russian arms industry’s sales continued to rise in 2014. … ‘Russian companies are riding the wave of increasing national military spending and exports. There are now 11 Russian companies in the Top 100 and their combined revenue growth over 2013–14 was 48.4 per cent,’ says SIPRI Senior Researcher Siemon Wezeman. In contrast, arms sales of Ukrainian companies have substantially declined. … US companies’ arms sales decreased by 4.1 per cent between 2013 and 2014, which is similar to the rate of decline seen in 2012–13. … Western European companies’ arms sales decreased by 7.4 per cent in 2014.”

This is a redirection of the Russian economy that Vladimir Putin was preparing even prior to Obama’s war against Russia. Perhaps Putin redirected it in response to the entire thrust of the U.S. aristocracy’s post-Soviet determination to conquer Russia whenever the time would be right for NATO to strike and grab it. Obama’s public ambivalence about Russia never persuaded Putin that the U.S. would finally put the Cold War behind it and end its NATO alliance as Russia had ended its Warsaw Pact back in 1991. Instead, Obama continued to endorse expanding NATO, right up to Russia’s borders (now even into Ukraine) — an extremely hostile act.

If Putin responded by building the world’s most cost-effective designers and producers of weaponry, Russia wouldn’t only be responding to America’s ongoing hostility — or at least responding to the determination of America’s aristocracy to take over Russia, which is the world’s largest trove of natural resources — but would also expand Russia’s export-earnings and international influence by selling to other countries weaponry that’s less-burdened with the costs of sheer corruption than are the armaments that are being produced in what is perhaps the world’s most corrupt military-industrial complex: America’s. Whereas Putin has tolerated corruption in other areas of Russia’s economic production (figuring that those areas are less crucial for Russia’s future), he has kept Russia’s weapons-making-and-marketing socialized — controlled entirely by the state — and thus avoids the capitalistic situation of weapons-makers controlling the Government’s foreign policies and military via the “revolving door” between the military and private industry, and via weapons-making firms buying politicians to authorize weapons-makers’ policies. Socializing the production and marketing of armaments is the only way to retain national independence. America’s aristocracy had aimed to end that in Russia. Putin refused. Ever since he first came into office in 2000, he has transformed post-Soviet Russia from being an unlimitedly corrupt satellite of the United States under Boris Yeltsin, to becoming truly an independent nation; and this infuriates America’s aristocrats (who had gushed over Yeltsin).

The Russian government-monopoly marketing company for Russia’s weapons-manufacturers, Rosoboronexport, presents itself to nations around the world by saying: “Today, armaments and military equipment bearing the Made in Russia label protect independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of dozens of countries. Owing to their efficiency and reliability, Russian defense products enjoy strong demand on the global market and maintain our nation’s leading positions among the world’s arms exporters. For the past several years, Russia has consistently ranked second behind the United States as regards arms exports.” That’s second-and-rising, as opposed to America’s first-and-falling.

The American aristocracy’s ever-growing war against Russia posed and poses to Putin two simultaneous challenges: both to reorient away from Russia’s natural resources, which the global aristocracy wants to grab, and also to reorient toward the area of hi-tech in which the Soviets had built a basis from which Russia could become truly cost-effective in international commerce, so as to, simultaneously, increase Russia’s defensive capability against an expanding NATO, while also replacing some of Russia’s dependence upon the natural resources that the West’s aristocrats want to steal.

In other words: Putin designed a plan to meet two challenges simultaneously — military and economic. His primary aim is to protect Russia from being grabbed by the American and Saudi aristocrats, via America’s NATO and the Sauds’ Gulf Cooperation Council and other alliances (which are trying to take over Russia’s ally Syria — Syria being a crucial location for pipelining Arab royals’ oil-and-gas into Europe, the world’s largest energy-market).

In addition, the hit to Russia’s economic growth-rate from the dual-onslaught of Obama’s sanctions and the plunging oil prices hasn’t been too bad. The World Bank’s April 2015 “Russia Economic Report” predicted: “Growth prospects for 2015-2016 are negative. It is likely that when the full effects of the two shocks become evident in 2015, they will push the Russian economy into recession. The World Bank baseline scenario sees a contraction of 3.8 percent in 2015 and a modest decline of 0.3 percent in 2016. The growth spectrum presented has two alternative scenarios that largely reflect differences in how oil prices are expected to affect the main macro variables.”

As of 15 February 2016, Trading Economics was headlining “Russia GDP Annual Growth Rate” and reported: “The Russian economy shrank 3.8 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2015, following a 4.1 percent contraction in the previous period, according to preliminary estimates from the Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev. It is the worst performance since 2009 [George W. Bush’s global economic crash], as Western sanctions and lower oil prices hurt external trade and public revenues.” The current percentage as of 17 September 2018, is 1.9%, after having plunged down from 2.2% in late 2017, to 0.9% in late 2017; so, it is rebounding.

The World Bank’s April 2015 “Russia Economic Report” went on to describe “The Government Anti-Crisis Plan”:

On January 27, 2014, the government adopted an anti-crisis plan with the goal to ensure sustainable economic development and social stability in an unfavorable global economic and political environment.

It announced that in 2015–2016 it will take steps to advance structural changes in the Russian economy, provide support to systemic entities and the labor market, lower inflation, and help vulnerable households adjust to price increases. To achieve the objectives of positive growth and sustainable medium-term macroeconomic development the following measures are planned:

•Provide support for import substitution and non-mineral exports;

•Support small and medium enterprises by lowering financing and administrative costs;

•Create opportunities for raising financial resources at reasonable cost in key economic sectors;

•Compensate vulnerable households (e.g., pensioners) for the costs of inflation;

•Cushion the impact on the labor market (e.g. provide training and increase public works);

•Optimize budget expenditures; and

•Enhance banking sector stability and create a mechanism for reorganizing systemic companies.

So: Russia’s anti-crisis plan was drawn up and announced on 27 January 2014, already before Yanukovych was overthrown, even before Obama’s agent Victoria Nuland on 4 February 2014 instructed the U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine whom to have appointed to run the government when the coup would be completed (“Yats,” who did  get appointed). Perhaps, in drawing up this plan, Putin was responding to scenes from Ukraine like this. He could see that what was happening in Ukraine was an operation financed by the U.S. CIA. He could recognize what Obama had in mind for Russia.

The “Russia Economic Report, May 2018: Modest Growth Ahead” says:

Global growth continued its 2017 momentum in early 2018. Global growth reached a stronger than-expected 3 percent in 2017 — a notable recovery from a post-crisis low of 2.4 percent in 2016. It is currently expected to peak at 3.1 percent in 2018. Recoveries in investment, manufacturing, and trade continue as commodity-exporting developing economies benefit from firming commodity prices (Figure 1a). The improvement reflects a broad-based recovery in advanced economies, robust growth in commodity-importing Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs), and an ongoing rebound in commodity exporters. Growth in China – and important trading partner for Russia – is expected to continue its gradual slowdown in 2018 following a stronger than-expected 6.9 percent in 2017.

Putin’s economic plan has softened the economic blow upon the masses, even while it has re-oriented the economy toward what would be the future growth-areas.

The country that Putin in 2000 had taken over and inherited from the drunkard Yeltsin (so beloved by Western aristocrats because he permitted them to skim off so much from it) was a wreck even worse than it had been when the Soviet Union ended. Putin immediately set to work to turn it around, in a way that could meet those two demands.

Apparently, Putin has been succeeding — now even despite what the U.S. aristocracy (and its allied aristocracies in Europe and Arabia) have been throwing to weaken Russia. And the Russian people know it.

PS: The present reporter is an American, and used to be a Democrat, not inclined to condemn Democratic politicians, but Obama’s grab for Russia was not merely exceedingly dangerous for the entire world, it is profoundly unjust, it is also based on his (and most Republicans’) neoconservative lies, and so I don’t support it, and I no longer support Obama or his and the Clintons’ Democratic Party, at all. But this certainly doesn’t mean that I support the Republican Party, which is typically even worse on this (and other matters) than Democratic politicians are. On almost all issues, I support Bernie Sanders, but I am not a part of anyone’s political campaign, in any way.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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RT & Former UK Ambassador Exposing CIA-MI6 Control Over Western ‘News’ Media

Eric Zuesse

It’s an old story, but each time that an example of it occurs, it is hidden, instead of reported.

The fact that America’s CIA has the cooperation of all major news-media in the the United States is well known and long-established, such as in the following two obscure places:

http://carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

spartacus-educational.com/JFKmockingbird.htm

The CIA is one of the major extensions of America’s part of the international Deep State, the few thousand U.S. billionaires, who are the only people that actually control U.S. foreign policies. They also control the nation’s major news-media so that their foreign policies — such as the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the invasion of Libya in 2011 — will be supported by enough Americans in order to re-elect the politicians, such as Hillary Clinton, who had voted for or otherwise enabled those invasions. These billionaires also own controlling blocs of stock in their international corporations, which, of course, benefit from such invasions.

So: here’s the latest clear instance of it, and this one reflects the British portion of the international Deep State:

On September 23rd, Craig Murray, the former UK Ambassador who quit the UK’s foreign services as a whistleblower against the Deep State, reported a brazen fabrication by the onetime-progressive British newspaper the Guardian, a smear which had been targeted against both Julian Assange and the Government of Russia, and which aimed at continuing to hide the Deep State’s ongoing aggressions against Russia and against governments that are friendly toward Russia. Murray closed:

It is very serious indeed when a newspaper like the Guardian prints a tissue of deliberate lies in order to spread fake news on behalf of the security services. I cannot find words eloquent enough to express the depth of my contempt for Harding and Katherine Viner, who have betrayed completely the values of journalism. The aim of the piece is evidently to add a further layer to the fake news of Wikileaks’ (non-existent) relationship to Russia as part of the “Hillary didn’t really lose” narrative. I am, frankly, rather shocked.

One of the reader-comments to Murray’s article recommended and linked to

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV_PLCC6jeI&feature=youtu.be

which exposes the profound corruption of America’s Democratic Party and how its billionaires control left-of-center voters by deceiving them into voting in political primaries for these billionaires’ politicians to become the Party’s nominees in general elections. The billionaires control the international corporations and ‘news’-media and their tax-exempt PR fronts the ‘non-profits’, so as to fool enough voters in order to turn America’s national elections into merely contests between different brands of fascists, liberal versus conservative.

The next day, RT, Russian Television, bannered, “Guardian’s ‘deliberate lies’ over Assange Russia plot slammed by Craig Murray”, and the reader-comments there were similary strong against the Deep State that controls Western ‘democracies’.

The present news-story about ’news’-lies has not yet been reported in any of the major ‘news’ media in The West. In case none of these major ’news’-media has yet learned of this important matter, this news-report about it is being sent today to all major ‘news’ media in The West, in order to provide each one of them its opportunity to report upon the corruption behind today’s Guardian, and behind all of them. So, now none of them can say they didn’t know of this. Each will either report it, or else continue to hide it. But it’s an important news-story, regardless of whether or not they report it.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally End?

We all know the Status Quo’s response to the global financial meltdown of 2008 has been a travesty of a mockery of a sham–smoke and mirrors, flimsy facades of “recovery,” simulacrum “reforms,” serial bubble-blowing and politically expedient can-kicking, all based on borrowing and printing trillions of dollars, yen, euros and yuan, quatloos, etc.

So when will the travesty of a mockery of a sham finally come to an end? Probably around 2022-25, with a few global crises and “saves” along the way to break up the monotony of devolution. The foundation of this forecast is this chart I prepared back in 2008 (below).

This is of course only a selection of cycles; many more may be active but these four give us a flavor of the confluence of crises ahead.

Cycles are not laws of Nature, of course; they are only records of previous periods of growth/excess/depletion/collapse, not predictions per se. Nonetheless their repetition reflects the systemic dynamic of growth, crisis and collapse, and so the study of cycles is instructive even though we stipulate they are not predictive.

What is predictable is the way systems tend to follow an S-curve of rapid growth with then tops out in excess, stagnates in depletion and then devolves or implodes. We can see all sorts of things topping out and entering depletion/collapse: financialization, the Savior State, Chinese credit expansion, oil production, student loan debt and so on.

Since each mechanism that burns out or implodes tends to be replaced with some other mechanism, this creates the recurring cycle of expansion / excess / depletion / collapse.

I plotted four long-wave cycles in the first chart:

1. The credit expansion/renunciation cycle. a.k.a. the Kondratieff cycle. Credit expands when credit is costly and invested in productive assets. Credit reaches excess when it is cheap and it’s malinvested in speculation and stock buybacks, and as collateral vanishes then credit is renunciated/written off.

This is inexact, but obviously the organic postwar cycle of expansion has been extended by the central bank money-printing / credit orgy.

2. The generational cycle of four generations/80 years described in the seminal bookThe Fourth Turning. American history uncannily tracks an 80-year cycle of crises and profound transformation: 1860 (Civil War), 1940 (world war and global Empire) and next up to bat, 2020, the implosion of the debt-based Savior State and the financialized economy.

3. The 100-year cycle of inflation-deflation described in the masterful book The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History. The price of bread remained almost constant in Britain throughout the 19th century. In contrast, the 20th century has been characterized by inflation–the U.S. dollar has lost approximately 96% of its value since the early 20th century.

Another characteristic of this cycle is wage stagnation: people earn less even as costs of essentials rise, a dynamic that inevitably leads to political crisis and upheaval.

The end-game for inflation is destruction of fiat currencies, i.e. rising inflation or complete loss of faith in paper money. This is of course “impossible,” just like World War I, the Titanic sinking, the global meltdown of 2008, etc. Impossible things happen with alarming regularity.

4. Peak oil, which does not mean the world runs out of oil, it simply means oil production no longer rises to meet demand and eventually declines even as new fields are brought online. It can also mean that the price of energy rises to the point that consumers can either buy energy or they can keep the consumer economy afloat, but they are no longer able to do both.

Many observers are confident that fracking and other technologies will enable current energy profligacy to continue unabated as the U.S. production of oil and natural gas soars.

All this surplus energy in North America sounds wonderful, but that doesn’t mean the world as a whole has escaped Peak Oil. Even if fracked wells didn’t deplete in a year or two (they do), that expansion of production will not replace the loss of production as supergiant fields in Mexico, the North Sea and the Mideast enter the depletion phase. Yes, technology can extract more oil, but technology is costly. The days of cheap natural gas may have arrived, but the days of cheap oil are numbered.

How all this plays out is unknown, but even raising U.S. production might not be enough to maintain current production levels. Since several billion more people desire the U.S.-type lifestyle of energy profligacy, then what are the consequences of the mismatch between global demand and supply?

What happened to crude oil production after the first peak in 2005?

We can also posit that “good-paying jobs” in developed economies are also tracking an S-curve. The post-industrial decline in labor has many causes, but the Internet is a key factor going forward as the Web, AI, Big Data and mobile telephony leverage all sorts of productivity gains without the pesky overhead, costs and trouble of employees.

This reality was masked by the initial boom in Web infrastructure that topped out in 2000, and again by the credit-fueled global malinvestment in real estate that topped out in 2007 and soon by the topping out of the social media/mobile app tech boom, the third stock market bubble and Housing Bubble #2.

Once these bubbles have popped, the reality of long-term employment stagnation can no longer be masked.

Credit bubbles are not engines of sustainable employment, they are only engines of malinvestment and wealth destruction on a grand scale.

A number of other questions arise as we ponder these dynamics. How “cheap” will all that energy be to those without full-time jobs? How will 100 million workers support 100 million retirees, welfare recipients and parasitic Elites plus Universal Basic Income as costs rise, taxes soar and wages stagnate?

The Status Quo is unsustainable on a number of fundamental fronts. How long it can maintain the facade of stability and sustainability is unknown, but the global willingness to squander additional years on artifice and propaganda suggests that another four years will fly by and the end-game will be at hand whether we approve of it or not.

Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Book Sale: (September only) Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform is now $2.99 for the Kindle ebook, a 25% savings, and $6.95 for the print edition, a 22% savings.

Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It is now $2.99 for the Kindle ebook, a ridiculous 70% discount, and $10 for the print edition, a 50% savings. 

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Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

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The Gamification of Tyranny

It looks like we’re headed for a brave new world where all citizens are rated on their loyalty to the state and are punished for wandering from its narrative. 

Call it the gamification of repression. 

In China, the supposedly communist state—in fact, it is an advanced form of crony capitalist authoritarianism that Marx would have disapproved—is busy setting up a rating system for all citizens. According to a paper written by an academic at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon, scores are based on professional conduct, corruption, type of products bought, peers’ own scores, and tax evasion.

The author left something out, however. This social credit system will also be used to marginalize and stigmatize those who criticize the state. 

China’s nominally communist government says the system and its massive database will allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step. 

In addition to scrutinizing online activity and acting on tips by snitches, the system will tap into China’s sprawling network of surveillance cameras, said to number around 200 million across the country. Facial recognition will ID individuals and follow their every move in search of behavior worthy of a low score. Those gaining a high score will be allowed access to credit facilities, cheaper public transport, and even shorter wait times for hospital services. They will also be banned from travel and decent employment. 

Although the system isn’t slated to be fully rolled out until 2020, pilot projects are already being used to ensnare enemies of the state. For instance, the journalist Liu Hu received a negative score and was blacklisted for criticizing China’s political corruption. He is under house arrest, his social media accounts were shut down, and he is unable to travel. This is reminiscent of travel restrictions placed on dissidents in the Soviet Union.

If you think you’re free of this kind of tyranny because you live in America, think again.

Everybody knows the NSA and its contractors are collecting our most private and intimate information. Travel bans are enforced through no-fly lists and these are imposed on political activists as well as the innocent caught up in the surveillance system. You can lose your position at a university for thought considered unacceptable to a politically correct orthodoxy. The state intervenes when a business concern refuses to sell products to people the seller finds objectionable. In numerous ways, the state hinders, bans, and criminalizes behavior in parasitic fashion, the end result being overcrowded industrial prisons and a bounty in revenue generation through fines, assessments, penalties, and taxes.

Our social media accounts are scoured by the NSA, FBI, and the CIA for any sign of political misdeed. The state is able to monitor our behavior online in real-time. It has turned our cellphones into tracking devices. The tech giants often collaborate with the state and hand over our data without a constitutionally mandated search warrant. The data on our phones is surrendered at the border.

The latest signpost of ever encroaching corporatist-government fascism can be seen in the social media purge, which through evolution will ultimately remove all content from the internet deemed “extremist” by the state—and for the state that is everybody right or left who moves beyond permissible parameters set by the state.

Meanwhile, a huge internal security apparatus little different than what was used in the former Soviet Union is growing in size, arming itself to the teeth against the citizenry. It has deputized local law enforcement and showered it with all kinds of weapons, turning local police into armies controlled by the federal government. 

Meanwhile, we are aghast at the behavior of China—or some of us are—and this is exploited to ramp up hostility toward China while buttressing Trump’s trade war. The ruling elite exploit the fear of China and Russia as part of an effort to check China’s move into a resource rich Africa and threaten Russia on its borders. 

Most important is the project to derail China’s Belt and Road Initiative, aka the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road which poses a threat to neoliberal control of markets and the global economy. We are witnessing this being tested in the South China Sea and the China-Indochina Corridor as the US engages in provocative behavior against the Chinese navy.

Most believe we live in a democracy when in fact we live under a soft corporate-banker fascist police and surveillance state. I say “soft” because in the United States the government has mastered the art of control through media, not simply the corporate media, but also woven through the products of an entertainment industry that collaborates with the Pentagon and the CIA. 

The state has done this for a very long time in America—from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the FBI’s COINTELPRO and beyond. Technology has given the state the ability to covertly destroy its political enemies, whereas previously it took a lot of footwork.

Admittedly, this isn’t in-your-face like China’s social credit system, but the end result approaches what China is after—total control of the population and the removal of all serious political opponents challenging the state’s hegemonic rule. 

Kurt Nimmo is the author of Another Day in the Empire: The Reign of George W. Bush and the Total War Neocons. Read his blog here.

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How the U.N. Joined America’s War Against Syria

Eric Zuesse

America has been at war to transfer control of Syria over to the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia; and America has been trying to do this ever since the first of the CIA’s coups against Syria failed in 1949. But only during the U.S. Presidency of Barack Obama did the United Nations become a tool in this American enterprise. Obama entered the White House in 2009 secretly hoping to be able to overthrow Syria’s Government; and when the CIA-assisted “Arab Spring” uprisings in the Arab world started flowering in 2011, the U.S. Government had the important U.N. operatives fully on-board assisting the U.S. Government to assist this overthrow — to hand Syria to the Sauds (the Sauds being America’s most important international ally, and the world’s richest family) to control.

By the time of June 2011, the Obama State Department, under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was already deep into planning the overthrow not only of Syria’s Government (planning the international recruitment of jihadists to do that), but of Ukraine’s Government (planning international recruitment of nazis to do that).

Although the common view is that America’s main allies are European, that viewpoint is no longer true. Today’s America is allied mainly with the Sauds, and with Israel, which latter is the Sauds’ chief lobbying arm both in North America and in Europe, because Christian-majority populations are far more sympathetic to Jews than to Moslems. For a politician to be publicly sympathetic to Jews is much better for a politician than for him/her to be publicly sympathetic to Muslims. So, Israel carries the Sauds’ lobbying water, not only their own.

On 3 December 2011 (near the end of the year when the “Arab Spring” started), the independent investigative journalist Sibel Edmonds headlined “US Media: Distorters of Reality & Gravediggers of Truth”, and she reported:

Follow Up — The Continued Blackout on West’s Secret Training & Support Camp in Turkey for War on Syria

12 days ago, on November 21, here at Boiling Frogs Post, I reported on the ongoing joint US-NATO secret training camp in the US air force base in Incirlik, Turkey, which began operations in April-May 2011 to organize and expand the dissident base in Syria. I had received the information for that story from multiple sources including highly credible insiders in Turkey and government insiders here in the US. …

I immediately started checking our infamous US mainstream media sites — still nothing on this significant information. I then contacted one of my high-level sources and asked why he had come to me with his documented report instead of going directly to the big guys. With several credible insiders as his corroborators and a high-level official in Turkey, he would have no problem getting their attention. And his response? Well here it is minus a few expletives:

“Who said we didn’t go to MSM [Main Stream Media] first? We got them the info back in October. First they were interested and drooling. At least the reporters. Then, they disappeared.”

I was the last resort. … This goes down as one more example of very many cases of intentional, willful censorship by the US mainstream media and their so-many-times-proven role as distorters of reality and gravediggers of the truth.

Keeping the “MSM” on-board was likewise something that went back as far as the CIA’s “Operation Mockingbird” had started in 1948 with the cooperation of all of the United States’ mainstream ‘news’-media, and of virtually all of the ‘alternative’ news-media. (The case against the latter, the ‘alternative’ media, was documented by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall here and here; and by me here; with both of us relying heavily upon the encyclopedic researches from Bob Feldman, who is the major historian of the corruptness of almost all of America’s ‘progressive’ ‘news’ media — the present medium being obviously among the few exceptions that actually is progressive, and this article is simultaneously distributed to all media, so all media have been invited to publish it.) (The corruptness of self-declared conservative ‘news’-media is virtually automatic, since their chief function is to aggrandize the aristocracy — doing that is what defines them; they are clearly doing what they are paid to do, whereas the non-conservative media need to use subterfuges to do it, in order for them to seem to be supportive of the poor, which conservative media don’t even pretend to support.)

Right and left, America’s ‘news’-media are loaded with rot — especially regarding foreign countries, including Syria. Here are a few CIA documents from 2012 showing how obsequiously American ‘journalists’ respect and adhere to their CIA minders.

Aristocrats everywhere do business internationally and have much more of a personal interest in foreign relations than does the average person; so, lying about international relations is especially important to them, in order to control the masses on these matters, matters which aristocrats are especially determined to control. The aristocracy are the people who determine which nations are “allies” and which nations are “enemies.” The public don’t control that.

This is why the CIA, which is an agency of the U.S. aristocracy, has at least all of the mainstream ‘news’-media trumpeting their lies on foreign affairs. Aristocrats control their country’s foreign policies. Their international corporations demand this control, and tell the politicians what to do in foreign matters. The ‘news’-media provide the back-up for the politicians’ lies. They’re all on the same team, the aristocracy’s team. They all are agents for the aristocracy, against the public — and not only against whichever foreign aristocracies are labeled “enemy” nations (i.e., as being suitable targets for the given aristocracy’s military — places where the U.S. aristocracy’s weapons-manufacturing corporations such as Lockheed Martin don’t sell their wares but instead upon which those wares are to be used, as targets, the opposite end of the international weapons-trade from the “allies,” which are the markets-side, instead of the targets-side).

International relations is relations between aristocracies. The publics are ignored.

So, if democracy exists anywhere or at all, then it exists only in regards to domestic issues. However, studies have shown that even on domestic issues, the U.S. Government ignores the U.S. public — the U.S. is totally an aristocracy; it’s no democracy at all, not even on domestic issues, such as Medicare-for-all.

That’s the reason why Sibel Edmonds found herself to be a “last resort.” That was a euphemism referring actually to a dead-end for the important news — for the type of news that would have contradicted the Obama Administration’s infamous joyous lie-based “We came, we saw, he died!” (the Libya case), and now the follow-on invasion and destruction of Syria. (Trump continues Obama’s aggressions; he doesn’t end them. It doesn’t make much difference whom the occupant of the White House is, at least not regarding foreign relations, because the same aristocracy remains in control of U.S. foreign relations, even though that might be a different faction of this aristocracy — Obama representing the liberal billionaires, and Trump representing some of the conservative ones, but they are different segments of the same aristocracy; nobody in such a Government represents the public).

Here’s how psychopathic the U.S.-and allied aristocracies are:

A video shows at 2:18 that it was taken on “27/11/2012,” and it’s titled, “EMIR OF QATAR AND PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY STEAL SYRIAN OIL EXCAVATORS – ENGLISH SUBTITLES”. Both Qatar’s Emir and Turkey’s Prime Minister are enormously wealthy individuals, but they wanted still more. Both were there using their being heads-of-state so as to assist not only their own wealth but America’s and Europe’s aristocracies to steal and sell oil and oil-well equipment from the Syrian public — from Syrians’ Government — for the benefits not only of those aristocrats but also of Al Qaeda and of ISIS (two jihadist groups trying to overthrow Syria’s Government). As Syrian News reported this, on 28 November 2012, “Emir of Qatar & Muslim Brotherhood Prime Minister of Turkey send their Al Qaeda FSA terrorists to Syria to destroy the country, kill the people and destroy whatever they can of its infrastructure so their companies would have jobs in the future to rebuild as they think they will win the war against Syria.”

Syrian News headlined on 5 September 2015, “What Did Syrians Do to Deserve the Hatred of the Whole World” and commented:

Syrians stood by each oppressed nation in the planet, all liberation movements from the colonial powers had their main offices in Syria, including South African anti-apartheid party…this is how the colonial powers revenge.

It is beyond kafkaesque to realize that virtually the entire world chants its enmity against the Syrian people, and their country, and that the rest have not even noticed.

On 2 September, “greatest psy op of the last century,” al Jazeera, degraded a photo of a drowned Syrian boy, into an emoticon, to use for a new round of imperial malfeasance against the SAR [that being an acronym for Syria’s Government]. It seems to be of no importance, that al Jazeera (renamed “al Khanzeera,” “the pigsty,” by Libyan patriots, during the destruction of their country), is owned by the absolute monarchy Qatar — “pronounced ‘gutter’”), the little Gulfie gas station that has spent over 3 billion dollars in looting and bombing Syria. Twenty-four hours later, a Google search of “drowned Syrian boy” yielded over 10 million ‘hits’ (a number which has jumped to over 14 million, 48 hours later), reports which neglect to mention there was no Syrian refugee crisis before the mass-murderers of the colonial powers, and their Levant and Gulfie rabid dogs decided to “arab spring” Syria. …

On Sunday, 23 August, the city of Damascus came under massive mortar and missile attacks by the Obama-Cameron moderate death squads. Seven days later, the Syrian Arab Army [Syrian Government’s Army] Facebook page posted the following:

“The city of Damascus had 4.5 to 5 million inhabitants in 2011. Today and due to the war there are over 8.5 million inhabitants in the city; most of which were forced outside of their homes by the “moderate rebels” backed by NATO in general specifically the U.S. Turkey and France; also backedand financed by the terrorist nations of the Gulf. …

The cacaphony of murderous silence among the Vichy [nazi] media and sham activists and NGOs [charities that are funded by U.S.-and-allied aristocracies] has increased, exponentially, in perverse rhyme, with the increase in the bombings of the villages of Kafraya and al Foua, in Idlib countryside. In mid-August, the Syrians of these villages had been the beneficiaries of more than 1,500 missile attacks — from moderate rebel mass murderers — that have destroyed 60% of their houses. …

The punishment of the Syrian people for refusing the Obama plan of regime change cannot be missed in this organized ongoing assault by NATO and stooges for the past 4.5 years. …

The punishment of the Syrian people for refusing the Obama plan of regime change cannot be missed in this organized ongoing assault by NATO and stooges for the past 4.5 years. …

On 28 February 2018, Syria News bannered “Deep State Hyenas Flaunt [Flout] Law, Ravenous for More Syrian Blood” and opened:

The globalist deep state hyenas have reached a new low in delirious frenzy against Syria. While screaming international law! they flaunt [flout] it, and flaunt their insatiable lust for Syrian blood. The mania of the terrorists in suits is so out of control that they appear to have abandoned their chemical conspiracy planned for Idlib. Instead, they scream in unison for the preservation of serial killers occupying eastern Ghouta.  Savages they would call by rightful names in western countries are converted to innocent women and children [in Western media]. These hyenas ignore more than 1,000 terrorist mortars and missiles fired by Ghouta terrorists into Damascus. They hold the Goebbels Big Lie proudly over their heads, knowing their elite club is one of destruction, that none of its members will speak the truth. …

The deep state hyenas introduced the foreign-armed, foreign-paid, and foreign takfiri [jihadists] of al Ghouta onto the world stage in August 2013. The stupid, inbred, savages accidentally slaughtered many of their own, and thus ratted out having been given chemical weapons by Prince Bandar, because he neglected to give them proper instruction on their use. The admission was of no matter to the perpetual warriors, including Nobel Peace Laureate cum war criminal, POTUS Obama. Nor was concern voiced by the humanitarian bastards that several of the dead Syrians were recognized as having been kidnapped in Latakia countryside (similarly, the hyenas were too sedated to report on the moment long awaited, when 58 Syrian women and their children abductees were released in exchange for imprisoned terrorists of al Qaeda).

On 21 February, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights [sic] Zeid Ra’ad al Husseini frothed at the mouth over the “monstrous annihilation” in Eastern Ghouta.  He tossed words like international humanitarian law, and war crimes about [against the Government].

That article has a lengthy section which opens:

THE UN:  HYENAS LEADERSHIP

Animals running in packs require leadership.  Who is better qualified to lead beasts known to take advantage of other animals’ kills for easy prey, devouring every part including bones, than the well-manicured and polished diplomats of the United Nations?

All of that is true, and it even understates the reality. For example, though the article documents that Jordan, next door to Syria, is a key part of America’s effort to overthrow Assad, it fails to note that Zeid Ra’ad al Husseini, that cited high U.N. official on Syria, is a Jordanian Prince. He’s doing what the royal family of Jordan do. Otherwise, that article is an excellent description of the U.N. Administration’s extreme prejudices in favor of the U.S. game-plans for conquest, especially for their conquest of Syria.

However, on 3 March 2018, Syria News revealed that an even more important U.N. official on Syria has also been working secretly with the U.S. to assist overthrow of Syria’s Government. Headlining “Rotten, Secret Diplomatic Meeting that Launched UN Frenzy against Syria”, they reported that,

In possession of a diplomatic telegram [TD], Pan Arabic al Akhbar gave a detailed report 24 February on the nefarious, colonialist plot:

In a somewhat familiar but precise English, Benjamin Norman – a diplomat in charge of the Middle East at the British Embassy in Washington – reports in a confidential diplomatic telegram of the first meeting of the “Small American Group on Syria” (United States, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Jordan), held in Washington on January 11, 2018.

In this five-page TD, he reveals the details of the “Western strategy” in Syria: partition of the country, sabotage of Sochi, framing of Turkey and instructions to the UN Special Representative Staffan de Mistura who leads the negotiations of Geneva. A Non Paper (8 pages) accompanies this TD in anticipation of the second meeting of the “Small Group”. It was held in Paris on January 23, mainly devoted to the use of chemical weapons and the “instructions” sent by the “Small American Group” to Staffan de Mistura.

In fact, Trump is now protecting both Al Qaeda and ISIS in order to conquer Syria. And he has the U.N.’s backing in this. On Friday, 7 September 2018, America’s Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty headlined “UN Syria Envoy Warns of ‘Perfect Storm’ for Disaster in Idlib” and reported that:

The U.N. envoy for Syria warned Friday that all the ingredients exist for a “perfect storm” of a humanitarian catastrophe if the Syrian government, backed by Russia, carries out a large-scale military offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib.

“The dangers are profound that any battle for Idlib could be — would be — a horrific and bloody battle,” Staffan de Mistura told U.N. Security Council members via videoconference. “Civilians are its potential victims.”

As I have documented at the link here:

Idlib has consistently been showing as being, by far, the most-pro-jihadist of all of Syria’s Governates, in the annual polls that the British polling organization, Orb International, has taken since 2014, throughout Syria. Idlib has been showing there as being over 90% in favor of jihadists and of jihadism — and specifically in favor of organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Staffan de Mistura and Prince Husseini refer to this matter as instead a “humanitarian catastrophe” if Syria, Russia, and Hezbollah, do what they will need to do in order to end the invasion of Syria by U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait, and Israel (and the jihadists they hire). The U.N. officials are treating this matter not as a thoroughly illegal invasion and military occupation of the sovereign nation of Syria, but instead as what will be a “humanitarian catastrophe” if Syria and its allies attack the area of Syria whose current residents are over 90% jihadists and supporters of jihadists. Syria and its allies are to be blamed for invading that jihadist cauldron, while U.S. and its allies are to be held immune from prosecution for their having used those jihadists, during the past 7 years — used them to invade and occupy not only Idlib but other parts of Syria.

Thus, the U.N. is not only holding U.S. Presidents and other international invaders above international law, but it is now positively assisting them under the fake rubric of “humanitarian” concerns, so as to support the U.S. alliance’s invasions and military occupations. The U.N., which was supposed to have been opposing international aggression is now assisting it when ‘the right leaders’ do it. This is no organization supporting democracy — it is the opposite: an international scheme to back the U.S. alliance’s invasions and military occupations. War is ugly. Apparently, the U.N. has become even uglier than that — supporting the invaders and military occupiers of a sovereign nation.

This is the reason why Syria and its allies have placed on-hold their planned elimination of the jihadists in Idlib and will create a DMZ between Idlib and the adjoining areas of Syria. Further details and context on that can be seen here. Perhaps now, the high U.N. officials who have been claiming that the elimination of those jihadists would produce a “humanitarian catastrophe” will change their tunes and publicly acknowledge that it would instead be a practical necessity.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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