Category: China
The United States beats up on Russia – no surprise for author Dan Kovalik
| June 16, 2017 | 8:03 pm | Analysis, China, Imperialism, Russia | No comments

By W. T. Whitney Jr.

Book Review of: The Plot to Scapegoat Russia by Dan Kovalik.  New York:  Skyhorse Publishing, 2017.  Print ISBN:  978-1-5107-3032-8, Ebook ISBN: 978-1-5107-3033-5, $18.99, Pp.199.

The Cold War we are familiar with ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. In his new book “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia,” lawyer and human rights activist Dan Kovalik writes about a new Cold War against Russia – and about the peace that never came. He discusses the role of the Democratic Party and the CIA, but his book centers on exploring the cause of why hostilities are back.

The real motivations of revived confrontation are hardly the stuff of day-to-day news, and so the author relies upon the historical record for discovering the origins of a new Cold War. Along the way he explains why the old Cold War was waged.

He regards the commonly – accepted explanation as a pretext: “the Cold War, at least from the vantage point of the US, had little to do with fighting ‘Communism,’ and more to do with making the world safe for corporate plunder.” Implicitly this proposition serves to account for other U. S. wars and interventions.

Without elaborating, Kovalik casts the CIA as the lead plotter in these intrusions. It has the right skills, he suggests, because it is “a nefarious, criminal organization which often misleads the Ameri­can public and government into wars and misadventures,” In his own book, “The Devil’s Chessboard,” David Talbot traced the Cold War machinations of former CIA head Allen Dulles’ and thus was well qualified to provide an introduction for the present volume.

According to Talbot, “Russia (long with China) is the only country capable of even marginally standing in the way of Washington’s vast imperial ventures.” These two themes – the real reason for why the United States fights wars and the CIA’s role in such wars – set the tone for the history Kovalik recounts in his highly recommended book.

Readers hungry to know about the “plot” advertised in the book’s title will need patience. At the point Kovalik is discussing the current U. S. – Russia confrontation, he has already conducted a tour over time and across the world that surveyed U. S. interventions and foreign meddling. Having identified patterns of U. S. aggression, he presents a scenario that clarifies U. S. motivations for abusing Russia.

This book offers material so encompassing as to belie its small size. Kovalik’s writing is clear, evocative, and readable. Along the way, he recalls those causes and the outrage that fired up activists who were his contemporaries. That’s a side benefit.

In college Kovalik learned about CIA machinations in Central America. Revelations from former agents Philip Agee, Ray McGovern, and John Stockman astonished him. His first trip to Nicaragua exposed him to a harvest of killings and terror. He learned first-hand about the role of Contra paramilitaries, recruited and paid for by the CIA. At one point he was comforting a father burying his son, killed by the Contras, along with 50,000 other Nicaraguans.

The author recalls the four churchwomen and six Jesuit priests murdered by U. S. – trained soldiers in El Salvador, U. S. support for soldiers and paramilitaries who killed and displaced populations in Colombia, and the CIA’s Operation Condor by which South American client states murdered political enemies. He recounts U. S – instigated coups in Iran, 1953; Guatemala, 1954; and Chile, 1973. Along the way he mentions U.S. war in Vietnam, occupation and war in Korea, nuclear bombs dropped on Japan, nuclear testing and dying in the Marshall Islands, and the CIA’s recruitment of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen in Afghan­istan.

This was the justification: keeping “the world safe from the threat of Soviet totalitarianism.” Then the Soviet Union was no more and the search was on for a new pretext. Having turned to “humanitarian intervention,” the Clinton administration soon was assisting the Paul Kagame regime in Ruanda and other African nations as they assaulted the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “US mining interests” were satisfied, Kovalik says, but “nearly six million people” people died.

Clinton’s government intervened in Haiti and participated in the destruction of Yugoslavia, Europe’s last socialist state. Supposed humanitarian motivations were behind the United States role in delivering Libya into chaos. For the author, U. S. pretensions and brutality stand in contrast to the relatively benign nature of Russian misdeeds.

More recently, in Kovalik’s telling, the U. S. government settled upon the rationalization of “American exceptionalism.” This is “the belief that the US is a uniquely benign actor in the world, spreading peace and democracy.” Thus terror was exported to Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen, where Saudi Arabia acted as a U. S. proxy. The list includes the 2009 military coup in Honduras facilitated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

For the author, “The US’s outsized military exists not only to ensure the US’s quite unjust share of the world’s riches, but also to ensure that those riches are not shared with the poor huddled masses in this country.” Good relations with Russia would be “simply bad for business, in particular the business of war which so profoundly undergirds the US economy … As of 2015, the US had at least 800 military bases in over 70 nations, while Britain, France and Russia had only 30 military bases combined.” And, “under Obama alone, the US had Special Forces deployed in about 138 countries.”

Having surveyed decades worth of U.S. interventions abroad, military and otherwise, Kovalik turns to Russia. In the early 1990s that fledgling capitalist state was in crisis, he reports. Life expectancy had plummeted, the poverty rate was 75 percent, and investments in the economy were down 80 percent. National pride was in the cellar, the more so after the United States backed away from Secretary of State Baker’s 1991 promise that NATO would never move east, after the United States attacked Russia’s ally Serbia, and after the United States attacked Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 without consulting Russia.

He regards Russia’s approach to Ukraine as defensible while reminding readers that Russia offered to cooperate with the United States in ending war in Syria. And U. S. claims about lack of democracy in Russia seem strained, especially when, as Kovalik insists, the United States abuses peoples the world over and itself suffers from a “severe democracy deficit.”

He argues that the Obama administration, particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was obsessed with Russia and that Democrats currently are fueling hostilities, backed by a compliant media. He discusses WikiLeaks revelations about the Democratic Party and hacking attributed to the Russians. He also suggests, without offering specifics, that the CIA is involved. Kovalik doesn’t comment on possible interaction between Trump campaign personnel and Russian officials.

But prior to his discussion of confrontation with Russia, Kovalik had devoted considerable attention to why and how the United States harasses other countries. The reader, therefore, already knows never to expect U.S. imperialism to give Russia a break and knows why that is so.

Kovalik’s treatment of the Soviet Union is an essential part of his narrative. For one thing, many of the U. S. military interventions he reports on wouldn’t have occurred if the Soviet Union still existed. But basically, “the Soviet Union, did wield sizable polit­ical and ideological influence in the world for some time, due to the appeal of its socialist message as well as its critical role in winning [World War] II.”

Kovalik acknowledges “periods of great repression.” He adds, however, that “the Russian Revolution and the USSR … delivered on many of their promises, and against great odds. …. In any case, the goals of the Russian Revolution—equality, worker control of the economy, universal health care and social security— were laudable ones.” And, “One of the reasons that the West continues to dance on the grave of the Soviet Union, and to emphasize the worst parts of that society and downplay its achievements, is to make sure that, as the world-wide economy worsens, and as the suffering of work­ing people around the world deepens, they don’t get any notions in their head to organize some new socialist revolution with such ideals.”

Ultimately, Kovalik sides with Martin Luther King, who remarked that, ‘The US is on the wrong side of the world-wide revolution’ – and with Daniel Ellsberg’s clarification: ‘The US is not on the wrong side; it is the wrong side.’”

PM Alexis Tsipras in China: Promoting the interests and aspirations of Greek capitalists

Saturday, May 13, 2017

PM Alexis Tsipras in China: Promoting the interests and aspirations of Greek capitalists

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The role of Greece as a “bridge” between China and the EU is the major aim of the Greek government, in an effort to promote and expand the aspirations of the country’s bourgeoisie. The visit of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Beijing, on the occasion of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (May 14-15) serves this purpose.

Greece is at a crossroads of three continents, it constitutes an important hub in the economic, energy and cultural sectors and can serve as a bridge between China and Europe, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday in a meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Tsipras underlined that Greece has worked hard over the last year to upgrade the relation between the two counties which is based on the two ancient civilizations. He added that Greece is overcoming the crisis, has returned to positive growth rates and will soon tap the markets. The prime minister said that Greece aims at further strengthening the cooperation with Beijing as China’s strategic vision coincides with that of Greece.

On his part, the president of China stressed the particular dynamism and vigor that is now recorded in the two countries’ relationship. Jinping added that the Greek-Chinese relationship would be further strengthened. (ANA-MPA, 13/5/2017).

The visit of PM Tsipras in Beijing coincides with agreements between Chinese and Greek monopoly groups on energy projects. Here is an example:

China’s state Shenhua Group Corp Ltd., the largest coal producer in the world and one of the largest energy producers of conventional and renewable sources in the country, and Copelouzos Group, one of the largest investment groups in Greece, signed on Friday an agreement for cooperation and development in the green energy sector and in the environmental upgrading of energy generating units in Greece and other countries.

The estimated amount of the investments will total 3 billion euros, Copelouzos Group said in a press release.

“Our Group believes in green energy and the prospects of Greece. We are confident that the cooperation with Shenhua Group will act as a catalyst for the conclusion of important investments and will promote the energy industry in Greece, with an emphasis on green energy and the environmental upgrading of energy producing units,” the head of Copelouzos Group, Dimitris Copelouzos, said on the deal. (ANA-MPA, 12/5/2017).

According to the Reuters report from Beijing:

Chinese President Xi Jinping offered the prime minister of deeply indebted Greece strong support on Saturday, saying the two countries should expand cooperation in infrastructure, energy and telecommunications. Xi told Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that Greece was an important part in China’s new Silk Road strategy.

“At present, China and Greece’s traditional friendship and cooperation continues to glow with new dynamism,” China’s Foreign Ministry cited Xi as saying. Cooperation in infrastructure, energy and telecommunications should be “deep and solid”, Xi added, without giving details. Tsipras is in Beijing to attend a summit to promote Xi’s vision of expanding links between Asia, Africa and Europe underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment called the Belt and Road initiative.

Greek infrastructure development group Copelouzos has signed a deal with China’s Shenhua Group to cooperate in green energy projects and the upgrade of power plants in Greece and other countries, the Greek company said on Friday. The deal will involve total investment of 3 billion euros ($3.28 billion), Copelouzos said in a statement, without providing further details. China has been investing heavily in Greece in recent years.

Its biggest shipping company, COSCO Shipping, bought a majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority last year under a plan to turn Greece into a transhipment hub for rapidly growing trade between Asia and Eastern Europe. Xi said China and Greece should focus their efforts on turning the Piraeus port into an important international transhipment hub and key part of the new Silk Road, the Chinese ministry said.

China State Grid also agreed last year to buy a 24 percent stake in power grid operator ADMIE for 320 million euros. Greek government borrowing costs hit their lowest level in more than five years this week as the troubled euro zone state looks close to clinching a deal with its creditors to release new loans to it. After six months of tense talks, Athens and its international lenders – the European Union and International Monetary Fund – reached a provisional deal last week on the reforms needed to release new loans. (13/5/2017)

On the sidelines of his Beijing visit, PM Tsipras met with Turkish President Tayip Erdogan earlier today, while a meeting with the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde is on the schedule.

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US House Bill on Port Controls Amounts to ‘Declaration of War’ – Russian Senator
| May 5, 2017 | 8:07 pm | Analysis, China, DPRK, political struggle, Russia | No comments
The port of the town of Nakhodka in Russia's Primorye Territory

US House Bill on Port Controls Amounts to ‘Declaration of War’ – Russian Senator

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A US House of Representatives bill establishing control over the Russian Far East ports envisions a show of force and thus amounts to a declaration of war, the chairman of the Russian upper house of parliament’s international committee told Sputnik.

“This bill, I hope will never be implemented because its implementation envisions a scenario of power with forced inspections of all vessels by US warships,” Konstantin Kosachev said Friday.

His comments follow the reported passage on Thursday of a House bill enhancing sanctions against North Korea, outlining “inspection authorities” over Chinese, Iranian, Syrian and Russian ports. The latter include the ports of Nakhodka, Vanino and Vladivostok.

“Such a power scenario is beyond comprehension, because it means a declaration of war,” Kosachev underscored.

China Calls on US, North Korea to Stop ‘Reckless Provocation’
| May 3, 2017 | 8:18 pm | China, DPRK, political struggle | No comments
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transits the South China Sea while conducting flight operations on April 9, 2017.

China Calls on US, North Korea to Stop ‘Reckless Provocation’

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After North Korea threatened the US by saying their war games over the Korean Peninsula brought the region closer to the “brink of nuclear war,” Beijing advocated for all sides to “lower the temperature” in both their rhetoric and frequent displays of military prowess.

“Stop irritating each other,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the US flew B-1B strategic bombers right over the Korean mainland, which was condemned by Pyongyang as a “reckless provocation.” Meanwhile, in Washington, US President Donald Trump said he would be “honored” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jung-un.

If North Korea fails to heed diplomatic calls from China, the results could be dire. North Korea maintains that the nuclear program is needed for the county’s very “existence and development.” If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea follows through with a sixth nuclear test, the Korea Times reported, Beijing will sever economic ties, condemn its former ally and even blockade Pyongyang’s trading ports.

According to Chinese users of Weibo, a popular social media platform essentially synthesizing Facebook and Twitter, a memo has circulated in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which the DPRK was provided notice of punitive measures that would ensue following another nuclear weapons test.

Rumor has it that Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi requested one of his officers to read out a warning to DPRK official Park Myung-ho. During the exchange, the DPRK diplomat was told about the harsh steps that would be taken.

The DPRK previously balked when Beijing ceased importing North Korean coal in compliance with United Nations sanctions against North Korea. The decision to end the energy imports was made in February, but according to 38 North, a North Korean research blog, China managed to send about $219 million for its coal in the first two months of 2017, according to Chinese customs data.

Beijing has not denied the substance of the story circulating on Weibo.

“North Korea is completely surrounded by enemies now,” one social media user commented.

Nuclear war ‘closer’ with US drills near Korean Peninsula, Pyongyang’s media warn

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Nuclear war 'closer' with US drills near Korean Peninsula, Pyongyang's media warn
The US activities in the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula – namely, US strategic bomber joint flights with South Korean and Japanese forces – may see the two Koreas end up in a nuclear war, the North Korean state agency KCNA has said.

According to Pyongyang, the US forces are carrying out “a nuclear bomb dropping drill against major objects” in its territory at the moment when US President Donald Trump as well as “other US warmongers are crying out for making a pre-emptive nuclear strike” against the North.

“The reckless military provocation is pushing the situation on the Korean Peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war,” KCNA wrote, as cited by Reuters.

Seoul defended the drills, saying the war games were held to prevent provocations from the North, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun.

The flight of the two supersonic B-1B bombers occurred on Monday, on the same day as Trump said he would be ready to meet with Kim Jong-un.

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump told Bloomberg News.

However, the White House was more reluctant to see the meeting in any near future, with spokesman Sean Spicer saying, “Clearly conditions are not there right now. I don’t see this happening anytime soon.”

Tensions have been escalating over the past weeks, with Trump saying on Thursday that “a major, major conflict” with North Korea was possible, and China warning that the situation on the peninsula could spiral out of control.

On Saturday, the North test-launched a missile, and it marked the latest in a series of missile-related activities, as well as two alleged nuclear tests, showing an unprecedented pace of such steps since the beginning of this year.

China Warns its Citizens in North Korea to Leave as Conflict with US Looms
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China Warns its Citizens in North Korea to Leave as Conflict with US Looms

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Fearing a possible US attack on North Korea, Beijing is urging its citizens there to return, as Pyongyang continues its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests.

The US-funded Radio Free Asia reported on Tuesday that the Chinese Embassy in North Korea sent out the warning less than a week before the 85th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army on April 25, an occasion some expected the North to use as an opportunity to conduct its sixth nuclear test.

Pyongyang instead conducted a large live-fire drill. Four days after the anniversary, the North carried out a missile test, but the projectile exploded several minutes after launching, a “failure” South Korean officials later surmised was intentional.

Amid holiday celebrations, the nuclear-powered USS Michigan submarine, armed with 150 Tomahawk missiles, joined a US Navy carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson near the Korean Peninsula, in a show of force from Washington.

A Korean-Chinese citizen who left Pyongyang after receiving the warning in late April told Radio Free Asia, “The embassy has never given such a warning. I was worried and left the country in a hurry,” according to the Korea Times.

He added that, despite mounting tensions with South Korea and the US, Pyongyang’s “peaceful” environment prevented a sense of urgency or panic amongst the Korean-Chinese population.

With the recent deployment in South Korea of the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), Washington’s threats of military action against the North and the US’s ongoing joint military exercises with South Korea, Pyongyang has accused the US of pushing the peninsula “to the brink of nuclear war” with its “aggression and hysteria.”

Through the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the North has stated that it will “continue to bolster its military capabilities for self-defense and pre-emptive nuclear attack,” with a spokesman saying in a statement Tuesday, “Now that the US is kicking up the overall racket for sanctions and pressure against DPRK, pursuant to its new DPRK policy called ‘maximum pressure and engagement,’ the DPRK will speed up at the maximum pace the measure for bolstering its nuclear deterrence,” the Guardian reported.

On Monday, KCNA also noted that the North was prepared to conduct its next nuclear test whenever leadership deemed it appropriate.

South Korea Presidential Frontrunner Pledges to Review Divisive THAAD Deployment

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Moon Jae-in, the leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election in South Korea, is determined to reassess the controversial deployment of the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system since it “did not follow a democratic procedure,” his press team said in a statement seen by Sputnik Korea.

“The THAAD deployment is an issue that must be decided by the next administration based on close discussions with the US and a national consensus, and approached with the best national interest in mind. Since this is an issue of great impact to our national security and comes with great economic costs, it must be ratified by the National Assembly as per the Constitution,” Yoon Kwan-suk, a spokesman for Moon Jae-in said.

The press office also commented on United States President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Seoul should pay for the deployment of a system worth $1 billion.

“The Liberty Korea Party, Bareun Party and the Ministry of National Defense have until now argued that the US will bear the cost of the THAAD operation,” the press office said. “If the reports are true, it is now clear that the decision to deploy the THAAD had a major flaw to begin with.”The statement urged senior politicians in the former ruling party, as well as high-ranking defense officials, to disclose the details of the deal between Washington and Seoul on THAAD.

On Wednesday, the South Korean Defense Ministry said that components of the THAAD system have been deployed to their intended destination in the North Gyeongsang province. Washington has said that the move comes in response to North Korea’s muscle-flexing, but Jeong Uk-sik, the president of the Peace Network NGO, told Sputnik that THAAD will also be targeted against China.

“Undoubtedly, [Washington] has indicated that the US missile defense system must be alert not only to North Korea, but also China,” he said, citing the testimony made by Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command, during a hearing at the House Armed Services Committee.

“Harris’s report clearly shows that US Pacific Command has fostered closer ties with Japan, South Korea and Australia to create a comprehensive missile defense system based on THAAD and the radar deployed to South Korea is one of its links,” the analyst added. “As a result, THAAD and the radar are targeted not only against North Korea, but also China since they are links of a single US missile defense system.”China has been opposed to the THAAD deployment, saying that the move “seriously undermines” strategic security of Beijing and other countries in the region.

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