Target Russia. Target China. Target Iran
By Pepe Escobar
May 30, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "SCF " - Not a day goes by without US Think Tankland doing what it does best; pushing all sorts of scenarios for cold – and hot – war with Russia, plus myriad confrontations with China and Iran.
That fits into the Pentagon’s Top Five existential threats to the US, where Russia and China sit at the very top and Iran is in fourth place – all ahead of «terrorism» of the phony Daesh «Caliphate» variety.
Here I have come up with some concise realpolitik facts to counterpunch the hysteria – stressing how the Russian hypersonic missile advantage renders useless the whole construct of NATO’s paranoid rhetoric and bluster.
The US Aegis defense system has been transferred from ships to land. The Patriot missile defense system is worthless. Aegis is about 30% better than the THAAD system; it may be more effective but their range is also limited.
Aegis is not a threat at all to Russia – for now. Yet as the system is upgraded – and that may take years – it could cause Russia some serious concern, as Exceptionalistan is increasingly pushing them eastward, so near to Russia’s borders.
Anyway, Russia is still light-years ahead in hypersonic missiles. The Pentagon knows that against the S-500 system, the F-22, the awesomely expensive F-35 and the B-2 stealth airplanes – stars of a trillion-dollar fighter program – are totally obsolete.
So it’s back to the same old meme: «Russian aggression», without which the Pentagon cannot possibly fight for its divine right to be showered with unlimited funds.
Washington had 20,000 planners at work before WWII was ended, focused on the reconstruction of Germany. Washington had only six after the destruction of Iraq in 2003’s Shock and Awe.
That was no incompetence; it was «Plan A» from the get-go. The former USSR was deemed a mighty threat at the end of WWII – so Germany had to be rebuilt. Iraq was a war of choice to grab oil fields – mixed with the implementation of hardcore disaster capitalism. No one in Washington ever cared or even wanted to rebuild it.
«Russian aggression» does not apply to Iraq; it’s all about Eastern Europe. Russian Foreign Minister SergeyLavrov anyway has made it clear that the deployment of the Aegis will be counterpunched in style – as even US corporate media starts to admit that the Russian economy is healing from the effects of the oil price war.
Take a look at my liquid asssets
Here my purpose was to show that China is not a House of Cards. Whatever the real Chinese debt to GDP ratio – figures vary from as low as 23% to 220% – that is nothing for an economy the size of the Chinese, especially because it is entirely internally controlled.
China keeps over $3 trillion in US dollars and other Western currencies in reserves while it gradually delinks its economy from the real House of Cards: the US dollar economy.
So under these circumstances what does foreign debt mean? Not much. China could – although they don't do it yet – produce more yuan and buy back their debt, as much as the US with quantitative easing (QE) and the European Central Bank (ECB) as it asks certain 'favorite countries' (strong NATO supporters) to produce more than their share of euros.
And yet Beijing doesn't really need to do this. China, Russia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and what's left of the BRICS (Brazil is on hold until at least 2018) are slowly but surely forging their own internal currency and currency transfer system (in China and Russia it works already internally) to sideline SWIFT and the Bank of International Settlements (BIS).
When they are ready to roll it out for the rest of the world to join them, then US dollar-based foreign debt will be meaningless.
US Think Tankland, as usual, remains clueless. As one of my Chinese sources explains, «whenever a Western big mouth mentions China's debt ‘problem’ they quote a figure that seems to come out of thin air, and it includes all debts, central, provincial, city government levels, estimated all corporate debts, loans from banks outside China. Meanwhile, they compare this total number in China with those of Western countries and Japan's central government debt alone».
The source adds, «China is operating with a balance sheet of the equivalent to $60 trillion. Loans from external sources is in the $11 trillion range while cash and equivalent is in the $3.6-4 trillion range. All this cash – or very liquid asset – is the biggest discretionary force in the hands of China's leaders while nothing worth mentioning is in the hands of any other Western government».
Not to mention that globally, Beijing is betting on what the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution. China is already the central hub for global production, supply, logistics and value chain. Which leads us to One Belt, One Road (OBOR); all roads lead to the Chinese-driven New Silk Roads, which will connect, deeper and deeper, China’s economy and infrastructure all across Eurasia. OBOR will simultaneously expand China’s global power while geopolitically counterpunching the so far ineffective «pivot to Asia» – Pentagon provocations in the South China Sea included – and improving China’s energy security.
Sanctions, like diamonds, are forever
Another major Exceptionalistan fictional narrative is that the US is «worried» about the inability of European banks to do business in Iran. That’s nonsense; in fact, it’s the US Treasury Department that is scaring the hell out of any European bank who dares to do business with Tehran.
India and Iran have struck a $500 million landmark deal to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar – a key node in what could be dubbed the New India-Iran Silk Road, connecting India to Central Asia via Iran and Afghanistan.
Immediately afterwards the US State Department has the gall to announce that the deal will be «examined» – as the proverbial Israeli-firster US senators question whether the deal violates those lingering sanctions against Iran that refuse to go away. This happens in parallel to a mounting official narrative of «unrest» contaminating former Soviet republics in Central Asia – especially Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. CIA-paid hacks should know those sources of unrest well – as the CIA itself is fomenting it.
India doing business with Iran is «suspicious». On the other hand, India is more than allowed to formalize a historic military cooperation deal with the US hazily dubbed the «Logistics Support Agreement» (LSA) – according to which the two militaries may use each other’s land, air and naval bases for resupplies, repairs and vaguely-defined «operations».
So it’s all hands on deck all over Exceptionalistan to counter Russia, China and prevent any real normalization with Iran. These localized offensives – practical and rhetorical – on all fronts always mean one thing, and one thing only; splitting and fracturing, by all means necessary, the OBOR Eurasian integration. Bets can be made that Moscow, Beijing and Tehran simply won’t be fooled.
Pepe Escobar - Independent geopolitical analyst, writer and journalist