The Growing Threat of War and the Critical State of the Global Financial System

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Three developments are shaping the current world situation: an increase in social tensions, the intensification of international political conflicts and the increasingly undisguised preparation of the Western alliance for war against Iran.

The mainstream media try to miss no opportunity to tell the international public who will be friend and who will be foe in this coming war. Time and again, Iran’s allies Russia and China are depicted in the most negative light possible, while there is almost no mention of Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s crimes in Yemen and against the Palestinians.

At the same time, the media are doing everything they can to conceal the most important reason behind the drive for the war – the critical state of the global financial system. Journalists are bending over backwards to convince the public that the global economy has completely recovered from the 2007/2008 crisis, that we are witnessing a global economic boom and that the dangers in the system are under control.

In fact, none of these claims are true. The simple reason is that they all ignore the historic importance of the cross-border manipulation by the central banks, which was necessary to save the system from collapse after it nearly broke down in 2007/2008, and which still keeps it alive today.

The global financial system would no longer exist without manipulation

This manipulation has set in motion a development that can be compared to the fate of a patient who survives a severe crisis only through an injection of addictive drugs and who would be killed by a subsequent withdrawal treatment because of his poor state of health. In other words, without money injections and low interest rates and without the purchase of government and corporate bonds by central banks, the global financial system, as we know it, would no longer exist.

The world’s leading central bankers are well aware of this. This is shown by their futile attempts to turn the wheel. Even the most timid announcements to contain the flood of money and significantly increase interest rates send such shock waves through the financial community that it is already clear: there can be no return to a normality in which no excess money is printed, interest rates are raised to a level that was once considered normal and no more bonds or shares are bought by the central banks.

So what will happen next? Will central banks simply continue the policy of the past ten years? After all, nobody can stop them from printing unlimited amounts of money and lowering interest rates – along the lines of the Swiss Central Bank – into negative territory…

In fact, nobody can stop them, but the consequences these measures would bring with them are foreseeable: A further increase in speculation, even greater volatility in the markets, an even stronger inflation of the bubbles, which are almost bursting already, the complete destruction of the classic banking business (lending against interest rates), the disintegration of traditional commercial banks and savings banks, the complete takeover of markets by investment banks and hedge funds, the collapse of pension systems – to name but a few of the expected consequences.

The biggest danger is the loss of confidence in the monetary system

Worse than any of these consequences is the creeping loss of confidence in the entire monetary system, which has not been tied to any real value since the decoupling of the US dollar from gold in 1971. It can be assumed that at some point it will affect the entire system, lead to a panic in the markets and cause the global financial card house to collapse.

How close we have already come to this point was shown by the dramatic price fluctuations of the US stock index Dow Jones in February of this year. It appears that this was a test run in which the US Federal Reserve, which is permanently on standby to prevent major price crashes, only intervened at the last second. These fluctuations were the strongest that the Dow Jones has experienced in its more than 100-year history.

This may have been a serious warning to the world’s financial elite. In any case, both the Skripal affair in Great Britain, the trade war instigated by the US against China and the recent hostile reaction towards Russia by most EU states are strong indications that the elites have decided to seriously consider an option that the German economist Ernst Winkler in 1952 described as “the best means put off the final catastrophe of the entire capitalist system over and over again” – the option of waging a war.


The Russian Military Warns: a Major War in Syria Is Imminent

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On March 17, the Russian General Staff warned about an imminent attack on Syria. The statement did not elaborate. Of course, some information is classified but an independent and impartial analysis of publicly available information leads one to the same conclusion. Let’s look at the facts.

There are warships deployed by US Navy in the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf. They are ready to launch roughly 400 long-range Tomahawks against a target in the Middle East on any given day. Sea-launched cruise missiles were used to strike Syria in April. Anything that is at all related to the military operations on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean is hush-hush information, but it’s an open secret that the strategic bombers based there can launch at least a hundred cruise missiles and then use other high-precision munitions in a follow-up attack. On average, one bomber carries 20 AGM-86 ALCMs. Five bombers are believed to be normally stationed on this island that is off-limits to inquisitive outsiders. This means that at least 500 cruise missiles can be fired on short notice.

On March 17, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that Great Britain, France, and some additional countries besides the US had special forces operating in Syria that were engaging the Syrian Army directly. But it’s not just commandos.

It was reported on March 16 that the UK would be stationing a significant number of troops at the US-controlled Al-Tanf military base, adjacent to the Iraqi border. This facility is prominently eatured in NATO’s war planning in Syria. It blocks the corridor linking Iran to Lebanon via Syria and Iraq. The size of the deployment — about 2,300 troops accompanied by tanks and helicopters — is too significant just to be intended to fight Islamic State militants who are already on the run.

Before that, the US had already sent 600 troops with armored vehicles to the base. And American reinforcements have also been sent to the Omar oil field.

On March 12, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley threatened military action against Syria. Experience has shown that the US will strike first and think about explanations later. It’ll no doubt “invent” some pretext to justify its actions.

Tensions have risen since last week. For instance, the mainstream media raised a ruckus over a mysterious “large underground” North Korean military base in Syria! This story about Pyongyang helping Syria to rebuild its chemical stockpiles and other urban legends are going viral.

The escalation coincided with the March 16 meeting between the Russian, Iranian, and Turkish foreign ministers in Astana to discuss further plans to bring peace to Syria, including expanding the concept of the de-escalation zones. That meeting laid the ground for a summit in Istanbul on April 4. There are about two weeks still to go. This top-level event could produce landmark decisions that might foil the West’s plans in Syria. Not much time is left. From the American perspective, this calls for urgent action to stymie that process.

Washington’s plan includes the goal of partitioning Syria in such a way that a large chunk of it would remain under the control of the US-led coalition. The Americans are already assembling municipal councils on the lands east of the Euphrates River. This area must be retained at any cost in order to ensure that Washington has a say in the future settlement of this war-torn country, otherwise all the hard work put in so far will go down the drain, undercutting America’s global standing and diminishing its clout in the Middle East. Losing Syria would be tantamount to suffering a major defeat in its confrontation with Iran, which it considers its arch-enemy. The plans include a rollback of Russian forces. Syria is the right place to do that. If the Russian military is openly warning the world of an imminent strike, that is a serious threat. And it does not look like a one-strike operation. This time we’re in for something much more serious — a large-scale operation to “contain” Russia, beat back Iran, win the support of the rich oil-exporting Arab nations and make them pay huge sums for American weapons, and show the world the US is omnipresent and adamant in its desire to dictate its will.

The Geopolitics of Targeting Russia

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The escalation of tensions between the United States, Britain and France, on the one hand, and Russia, on the other, should not surprise anyone. In the last few years, the US leadership and mainstream British media have presented Russia as a major threat to global peace and the international order. Russian president Vladimir Putin in particular has been demonised as a ‘war-monger,’ an ‘aggressor,’ an ‘unscrupulous politician’ hell-bent on restoring Russia’s past glory’ at whatever cost.

This projection of Russia as a threat to world peace has intensified in recent days partly because of Putin’s unveiling of Russia’s cutting edge military technologies on 1st March 2018. They include advanced generation missiles with unlimited range and capability that can evade US or NATO anti-missile defences. Apart from the new Sarmat missile, the Russian defence industry has also developed a low-flying stealth missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead with the ability to bypass interception boundaries that is “invincible against all existing and prospective missile defence and counter-air defence systems.”

Putin also revealed that his country has invented “ unmanned submersible vehicles that can move at great depths intercontinentally at a speed multiple times higher than the speed of submarines, … torpedoes and all kinds of surface vessels …“ He also spoke of the Kinzhal or dagger system, “a high-precision hypersonic aircraft missile system… the only one of its kind in the world.” Not only does the missile fly 10 times faster than the speed of sound but it also delivers nuclear and conventional warheads in a range of over 2.000 kilometers. The Russian president also drew attention to the development of Avangard, a hypersonic missile whose gliding cruise bloc engages in intensive lateral and vertical manoeuvring and is therefore “absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defence system.”

With these military technologies, Russia has effectively brought to an end the US reign as the world’s sole military superpower. If Putin had made this his goal, it is not because of any obsession with military supremacy. As he explained, the strengthening of Russia’s military prowess was his country’s response to the unilateral US withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 engineered by President George Bush Junior and Vice-President Dick Cheney. As a consequence of the withdrawal, the US and NATO began deploying missile systems to encircle Russia, as observed by veteran analyst, William Engdahl. Countries that were once part of the demised Soviet Union and the dismantled Warsaw Pact in Eastern Europe were drawn into the US-NATO orbit either formally or informally. Anti-ballistic missile bases were built in Romania and Poland. The US global missile defence system now includes destroyers and cruisers deployed “in close proximity to Russia’s borders.”

It is against this backdrop that one should view another major episode that is responsible for the current tension between the West and Russia. It is true that the Russian annexation of Crimea, then part of Ukraine, in early 2014 had incensed the US and European elites and led to the imposition of crippling sanctions against Russia. While the annexation itself in strict legal terms was a violation of international law, an honest analysis of the episode cannot afford to ignore the larger geopolitical concerns that prompted Moscow to act the way it did. By organising a coup against Ukraine’s democratically elected president in February 2014, the US and its local surrogates demonstrated clearly that they intended to tighten their grip over a land that was not only part of the Soviet Union but also integral to Russian history and culture. Crimea with its strategic port was what the US and NATO coveted. It was all interwoven into the US-NATO agenda of expanding eastwards and emasculating Russia. That the overwhelming majority of the citizens of Crimea endorsed in a referendum conducted on the 16th of March 2014 what they viewed as the restoration of Crimea to its Russian fatherland testifies to the actual feelings of the people — feelings informed by a notion of identity and a sense of justice.

There is yet another recent development that has also contributed towards the exacerbation of tensions between the two sides. It is obvious that the rebels and terrorists in Syria fighting the Assad government backed by the centres of power in the West and supported by their allies in the region have been defeated. The concerted drive to crush the Hezbollah-Syria-Iran triumvirate opposed to Israeli occupation and US hegemony in West Asia has been thwarted. Since Russia played a significant role in the defeat of the US and Israel and their partners, the antagonism towards Putin among the elites in Washington and Tel Aviv in particular has heightened. Providing material support to some of the rebels and terrorists holed up in Eastern Ghouta, one of their last few footholds in Syria is a desperate attempt by Washington to ensure that it remains relevant to the emerging post-war political scenario. Highlighting the alleged use of chemical agents by the Syrian Army and the killing of children in government aerial bombardments are tools of propaganda that the Western media have exploited to the hilt in the Syrian war in spite of the effective demolition of some of these lies and half-truths in the past by independent Western journalists themselves reporting and analysing from actual zones of conflict in the country. For Western elites and their media it is not the death of children — after all many children have been killed in Yemen — that is their real concern. It is how Russia has anchored and buttressed its position in Syria and the region as a whole and has challenged American-Israeli hegemony that causes great distress.

The latest manifestation of the incessant manipulation of issues pertaining to Russia is of course the alleged use of a nerve agent, “Novichok” to attempt to murder a Russian double agent, Sergei Skripaland his daughter now living in Salisbury Britain. British authorities have offered no concrete proof that the attempted murder was the work of the Russian state. The Russian government has vehemently denied the allegation.

One should ask, what would the Russian government and Putin gain from killing Skripal a week before the Russian presidential election and in the midst of US sanctions? This is the question that the well-known American columnist, Eric Margolis, poses. A former British diplomat, Craig Murray, also doubts that the Russian government had the motivation to kill a double agent who was part of a spy swap some years ago. He suggests the assassination bid may be linked to an outfit known as ‘Orbis Intelligence’ or to the Israeli Mossad. In Murray’s words,

“Israel has a clear motivation for damaging the Russian reputation so grievously. Russian action in Syria has undermined the Israeli position in Syria and Lebanon in a fundamental way, and Israel has every motive for damaging Russia’s international position by an attack aiming to leave the blame on Russia.”

If Israel’s hand is behind the Skripal episode, the truth will never be known. Neither Britain nor any of the other Western powers, not even the UN, would want to conduct an honest, independent investigation. All that Washington and its allies want to do is to increase and expand the economic and financial sanctions against Russia — using Skripal as the excuse.

The aim is clear. It is to compel Moscow to submit to the hegemonic power of the Washington elite. Anyone who has a rudimentary understanding of Russian history knows that this will not happen. Russia will continue to resist. And Russian resistance may well hold the key to a different future for humankind.

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Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST). She is Asia-Pacific Research correspondent.

US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank

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Seemingly unrelated events all point to a tectonic shift in which Israel has begun preparing the ground to annex the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last week, during an address to students in New York, Israel’s education minister Naftali Bennett publicly disavowed even the notion of a Palestinian state.

“We are done with that,” he said. “They have a Palestinian state in Gaza.”

Later in Washington, Bennett, who heads Israel’s settler movement, said Israel would manage the fallout from annexing the West Bank, just as it had with its annexation of the Syrian Golan in 1980.

International opposition would dissipate, he said.

“After two months it fades away and 20 years later and 40 years later, [the territory is] still ours.”

Back home, Israel has proven such words are not hollow.

The parliament passed a law last month that brings three academic institutions, including Ariel University, all located in illegal West Bank settlements, under the authority of Israel’s Higher Education Council. Until now, they were overseen by a military body.

The move marks a symbolic and legal sea change. Israel has effectively expanded its civilian sovereignty into the West Bank. It is a covert but tangible first step towards annexation.

In a sign of how the idea of annexation is now entirely mainstream, Israeli university heads mutely accepted the change, even though it exposes them both to intensified action from the growing international boycott (BDS) movement and potentially to European sanctions on scientific co-operation.

Additional bills extending Israeli law to the settlements are in the pipeline. In fact, far-right justice minister Ayelet Shaked has insisted that those drafting new legislation indicate how it can also be applied in the West Bank.

According to Peace Now, she and Israeli law chiefs are devising new pretexts to seize Palestinian territory. She has called the separation between Israel and the occupied territories required by international law “an injustice that has lasted 50 years”.

After the higher education law passed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his party Israel would “act intelligently” to extend unnoticed its sovereignty into the West Bank. “This is a process with historic consequences,” he said.

That accords with a vote by his Likud party’s central committee in December that unanimously backed annexation.

The government is already working on legislation to bring some West Bank settlements under Jerusalem municipal control – annexation via the back door. This month officials gave themselves additional powers to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem for “disloyalty”.

Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, warned that Israel had accelerated its annexation programme from “creeping to running”.

Notably, Netanyahu has said the government’s plans are being co-ordinated with the Trump administration. It was a statement he later retracted under pressure.

But all evidence suggests that Washington is fully on board, so long as annexation is done by stealth.

The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a long-time donor to the settlements, told Israel’s Channel 10 TV recently:

“The settlers aren’t going anywhere”.

Settler leader Yaakov Katz, meanwhile, thanked Donald Trump for a dramatic surge in settlement growth over the past year. Figures show one in 10 Israeli Jews is now a settler. He called the White House team “people who really like us, love us”, adding that the settlers were “changing the map”.

The US is preparing to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, not only pre-empting a final-status issue but tearing out the beating heart from a Palestinian state.

The thrust of US strategy is so well-known to Palestinian leaders – and in lockstep with Israel – that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is said to have refused to even look at the peace plan recently submitted to him.

Reports suggest it will award Israel all of Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians will be forced to accept outlying villages as their own capital, as well as a land “corridor” to let them pray at Al Aqsa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

As the stronger side, Israel will be left to determine the fate of the settlements and its borders – a recipe for it to carry on with slow-motion annexation.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has warned that Trump’s “ultimate deal” will limit a Palestinian state to Gaza and scraps of the West Bank – much as Bennett prophesied in New York.

Which explains why last week the White House hosted a meeting of European and Arab states to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

US officials have warned the Palestinian leadership, who stayed away, that a final deal will be settled over their heads if necessary. This time the US peace plan is not up for negotiation; it is primed for implementation.

With a Palestinian “state” effectively restricted to Gaza, the humanitarian catastrophe there – one the United Nations has warned will make the enclave uninhabitable in a few years – needs to be urgently addressed.

But the White House summit also sidelined the UN refugee agency UNRWA, which deals with Gaza’s humanitarian situation. The Israeli right hates UNRWA because its presence complicates annexation of the West Bank. And with Fatah and Hamas still at loggerheads, it alone serves to unify the West Bank and Gaza.

That is why the Trump administration recently cut US funding to UNRWA – the bulk of its budget. The White House’s implicit goal is to find a new means to manage Gaza’s misery.

What is needed now is someone to arm-twist the Palestinians. Mike Pompeo’s move from the CIA to State Department, Trump may hope, will produce the strongman needed to bulldoze the Palestinians into submission.

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A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

Was Tillerson Sacked to Abandon the Iran Nuclear Deal?

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Tillerson supported Washington remaining on board with the JCPOA nuclear deal – along with other P5+1 countries Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

Trump wants it unacceptably changed or abandoned. On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted:

“Mr Trump has made habit of being unpredictable and thus unreliable for anybody to engage with. Nobody will be interested in reaching any agreement with the White House if US signature only good for 4-8 yrs.”

Replacing Tillerson with militantly anti-Iran hardliner Pompeo smooths things for Trump to pursue greater hostility toward the Islamic Republic with a key administration official on board with his reckless agenda.

Like the president, secretary of state designee Pompeo opposes the nuclear deal. Tillerson’s sacking likely signals Trump’s intention to abandon the JCPOA ahead.

According to Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi,

“Americans are determined to leave the JCPOA, and changes at the country’s State Department were made in line with this goal, or at least it was one of the reasons,” adding:

“Europeans are walking on the razor’s edge because if they incline towards Trump, they will lose Iran.”

Days earlier, IAEA head Yukiya Amano said

“I can state that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments…If the JCPOA were to fail, it would be a great loss for nuclear verification and for multilateralism.”

Things are heading in this direction, especially with Pompeo succeeding Tillerson at State.

Things pursued by Washington should terrify everyone. Trump escalated rogue policies his predecessors began – notably waging political, economic and hot wars against multiple countries.

Will Iran be his next target for regime change, beginning by abandoning the JCPOA nuclear deal? What took years of negotiations to conclude, he could scrap with a signature taking moments.

Replacing Tillerson with Pompeo signals likely escalated wars of aggression, stepped up hostility toward Russia and China, perhaps scuttling a Trump/Kim Jong-un summit or structuring it to fail, along with abandoning the Iran nuclear deal and targeting the country for regime change.

Trump won’t re-certify the JCPOA in May unless Britain, France and Germany agree to major changes Iran won’t accept.

According to an unnamed White House official,

“(i)f the Europeans make it clear that what we are asking for is going too far, then we’ll know, but as soon as they say that, Europe is signing the deal’s death warrant,” adding:

“Tillerson wasn’t faithful to the intent of the president. (He) didn’t agree with breaking the Iran deal.”

“Every time the president’s been persuaded to sign these waivers he’s done so begrudgingly. (I)n January he said, ‘this is absolutely the last time.’ Either we fix it or he won’t sign another waiver. ‘I’m not going to sign it unless Iran agrees.’ ”

Changes he demands Tehran finds unacceptable, including:

  • unlimited inspections of Iranian sites, including military ones no countries would tolerate;
  • the international community on board, ensuring Iran never develops nuclear weapons it abhors, doesn’t want, and calls for eliminating;
  • removing the JCPOA’s sunset clause, effective after 10 years;
  • restricting Iranian development and testing of ballistic missiles not part of the JCPOA; and
  • reimposing nuclear-related sanctions if Tehran fails to fully comply with the above demands.

Clearly they’re unacceptable. Six countries and Iran spent years negotiating the JCPOA.

Tehran won’t tolerate Trump unilaterally demanding changes during the life of the agreement.

As things now stand, Washington will likely walk away, destroying the deal by illegally reimposing nuclear related sanctions.

Along with other US Middle East policies, abandoning the JCPOA risks greater regional turbulence and instability instead of responsibly stepping back from the brink.

Lunatics infesting Washington threaten everyone. Paul Craig Roberts asked “Will Humanity Survive Crazed Washington?”

We’re all threatened with possible extinction by Washington’s megalomaniacal rage for unchallenged hegemony.

I agree with Roberts, saying “you can expect the worst” ahead.


Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the CRG, Correspondent of Global Research based in Chicago.

Visit Stephen’s website: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Stephen’s newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”