Monday, April 2, 2018

Trump’s Protectionism and China’s Emergence as a World Economic Power

Trump’s Protectionism and China’s Emergence as a World Economic Power
By Prof. James Petras
Global Research, April 02, 2018

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US Presidents, European leaders and their academic spokespeople have attributed China’s growing market shares, trade surpluses and technological power to its “theft” of western technology, “unfair” or non-reciprocal trade and restrictive investment practices. President Trump has launched a ‘trade war’, – raising stiff tariffs, especially targeting Chinese exports – designed to pursue a protectionist economic regime.
The China-bashers of the western world ignore the developmental experiences of the past two hundred and fifty years, starting with the post-revolutionary United States policy of protecting ‘infant industries’.
In this essay we will proceed to criticize the model underlying the current western attack on China. We will then turn to outlining the experience of countries which overcame backwardness in the course of successfully industrializing their economies.
Development in Historical Perspective
Western ideologists claimed that ‘backward economies’ should follow a development path originally established by successful countries, namely the UK.
They argued that ‘stages of development’ begin by embracing liberal free market policies, specializing in their ‘comparative advantages’, namely exporting raw materials. Economic ‘modernization’ would lead, stage by stage to a mature high consumption society.
The advocates of the liberal stage theory dominated the economic departments of major US universities and served as the planning strategy advocated by US policy makers.
Early on, dissenting economic historians pointed out serious anomalies. For example the ‘early developers’ like the UK secured trade advantages, products of a world-wide empire which forced colonies to exporting raw materials under unfavorable terms of trade, an advantage which ‘later countries’ lacked.
Secondly the post-revolutionary US led by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton successfully promoted protectionist industrial policies to protect US “infant industries” from the established UK Empire. The US civil war was fought precisely to prevent US plantation owners from linking their exports to British liberal free traders and manufacturers.
In the mid-19th and early 20th century, developing countries like Germany, Japan and Soviet Russia rejected the ideology of free trade and open markets in favor of state-centered protected industrialization. They succeeded in overcoming backwardness, competing and overtaking the ‘early developers’ like the UK.
In the post-World War 2 period, after unsuccessful attempts to follow the ‘western free market’ model, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia successfully pursued statist, protectionist export models of development.
Regions and countries which followed western free-market policies specializing in primary goods exports like Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Philippines failed to overcome stagnation and backwardness.
A leading economic historian Alexander Gerschenkron argued that economic backwardness provided emerging countries with certain strategic advantages which involved systematic substitution of imports by domestic industries leading to dynamic growth and subsequently competitive export strategies. (Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective: A Book of Essays)
The successful late developing countries borrowed and acquired the latest productive techniques while the early developed industrializer remained with the existing outmoded methods of production. In other words, the developing countries, guided by the state, ‘jumped’ stages of growth and surpassed their competitors.
China is a superb example of Gerschenkron’s model. Through state intervention, it overcame the constraints imposed by the monopoly controls of existing imperial countries and rapidly advanced through borrowing the most advanced technology and innovations and then moved on to become the most active filer of advanced patents in the world. In 2017 China surpassed the US filing 225 patents in 2017 while the US lagged behind with 91 (FT 3/16/18 p. 13).
An excellent example of China’s advances in technological innovation is the Huawei Group, which spent $13.8 billion on research and development in 2017 and plans to increase its annual R&D budget to $20 billion a year. Chinese companies will lead standard setting in next-generation technologies, including networking (FT 3/31/18 p 12). Washington’s resort to excluding China from US markets has nothing to do with China ‘stealing’ US patents and secrets and everything to do with Huawei’s R&D spending directed at obtaining talent, technology, equipment and international partnerships. The White House’s protectionist Sinophobia is driven by its fear of Chinese advances in fifth generation high-speed data networks, which are undermining the US ability to compete in cutting edge technology.
China’s competitive excellence was the result of the state’s systematic substitution of advanced technology, which allowed the economy to gradually liberalize and out-compete the US in global and domestic markets.
China has followed and exceeded the example of earlier late developing countries (Germany and Japan). It combined advanced industrial export growth as the leading sector with a relatively backward agricultural sector providing cheap labor and low-cost foodstuffs.
China is now moving up the development ladder, deepening its domestic market, advancing its high technology sector and gradually reducing the importance of the low value consumer and rust belt industries.
Cry-Baby Economies Revert to Protectionism
The US failure to compete with China and its resulting trade deficits are a result of its inability to incorporate new technologies, apply them to domestic civilian production, increasing income and upgrading and incorporating the labor force into competitive sectors which could defend the domestic market.
The state has surrendered its leading role to the financial and military elites which eroded US industrial competitiveness. Moreover, unlike China the state has failed to provide leadership in identifying priority targets compatible with intensified competition from China.
While China exports economic products, the US exports arms and wars. The US has a surplus of arms exports and a growing commercial deficit.
China has multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investments in over fifty countries that enhance trade surplus. The US has multi-billion-dollar expenditures in over 800 overseas military bases.
US charges that China has emerged as a world-economic power by unfair trade and theft of US technology ignores the entire history of all late developing countries, beginning with the US rise and eclipse of the UK during the 19th century.
The US attempt to turn back the clock to an earlier stage of protectionism will not raise US competitiveness nor increase its share of the domestic market.
US protectionism simply will result in higher prices, unskilled labor, war debts and financial monopolies. A US “trade war” will simply allow the Chinese state to divert trade from the US to other markets and re-direct its investments toward deepening its domestic economy, and increasing ties with Russia , Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.
The US ‘blame game’ with China is misplaced. Instead it should re-examine its reliance on a laissez faire economy with neither plan nor reason. Its resort to tariffs will increase costs without raising income and improving innovation.
Current US protectionism began ‘still born’. The White House has already downgraded its tariff which targeted competitors. Moreover its $60-billion-dollar tariff on China affects less than 3% of its exports.
Instead of seeking to blame outside competitors like China it would be wiser to learn from its experience and absorb its technological advances and its strategic investments in infrastructure and domestic consumption. Until the US reduces its military spending by two thirds, and subordinates its finance sector to industry and domestic households it will continue to fall behind China.
Instead of returning to the strategy of backward countries relying on protecting infantilized industries, the US should accept its responsibilities to compete through state directed development linked to upgrading its labor force, raising skills and expanding social welfare.
Prof. James Petras is a research associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Why the Nuclear War Is No Longer Unthinkable?

Why the Nuclear War Is No Longer Unthinkable?
By Maxim Nikolenko
Global Research, April 02, 2018

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Just a few weeks before his reelection, President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech to the members of the Federal Assembly, setting an agenda for the country’s military and economic development. Internationally, this annual event has gained attention as Russia, apart from other things, announced the enhancement of its nuclear delivery systems. In total, the development of six new delivery systems was announced, with videos demonstrating their strike capabilities. The Kremlin’s show of force was vividly aimed at the international audience, precisely, the powers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The response to Putin’s address was immediate.
“We don’t regard it as the behavior of a responsible international player,” commented the U.S. State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert.
With that note, she was referring to the video animation showcasing Russia’s new intercontinental ballistic missile system called Sarmat. President Putin announced this missile as “a very powerful mighty weapon.” A missile with almost indefinite endurance means “nothing, not even perspective” anti-ballistic missile systems “could be an obstacle for it.” Consequently, this will, according to Putin, restore the balance of power between Washington and Moscow. “Nobody wanted to listen to us” on the matter, he stressed. “Well, listen to us now.”
The theme of Russia being an irresponsible international player was reiterated across the conventional corporate media apparatuses. Washington is, again, talking about the Cold War.
Accordingly, Putin’s address must be taken as a challenge to the U.S, requiring it to make a strong response. “Oddly,” therefore, “Mr. Trump has said almost nothing about the new era of competition with Mr. Putin or Russia,” reported the New York Times on March 1. The presentation of Sarmat cruise missiles “sharply escalated the military invective in the tense relationship between” the two nuclear powers. Reporting on the same day, the liberal American news outlet Vox stated that if Russia has the weapons it demonstrated, then it “purposefully raised the stakes in the decades-long nuclear standoff.” The Washington Post, in the meantime, went to amplify the rhetoric of American’s most aggressive foreign policy strategists: “U.S. defense officials have consistently cited Russia as the most significant strategic threat to the United States, and the primary reason to build up its defense budget.”
Indeed, the enhancement of Russia’s missile capabilities should be taken as a worrying development.
If one looks at this development objectively, however, and, is concerned about the “strategic” security of people, including those living in the U.S, then they would inevitably spot the United States to be the biggest threat to international security, with its “defense budget” feeding the new power rivalry.
The Balance of Power
Conspicuously, warmongering Western media outlets have failed to report the most important point of Putin’s remarks about his government’s defense policy.
“Our military doctrine,” he stated, “says Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons solely in response to a nuclear attack, or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against the country or its allies, or an act of aggression against us with the use of conventional weapons that threaten the very existence of the state.”
The reason for the enhancement of the nuclear delivery systems was stated, too. In fact, the statement replicated what the President has already said on numerous occasions. The audience in America, for example, had had an opportunity to learn about Russia’s geopolitical agenda in 2017 from a series of documentary films called The Putin Interviews. They were produced by an American filmmaker, Oliver Stone.
There, Putin criticized Washington for unilaterally withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, a framework established to maintain a balance of power between Washington and Moscow during the Cold War. To put it in Putin’s words, the treaty “was the cornerstone of the system of the international security,” as it limited the number of locations where the two powers could place their anti-ballistic missile systems, installed for defending one side from an incoming nuclear missile attack from the other. Ignoring the fact that both powers have acquired enough nuclear arms to annihilate both each other and the rest of mankind, the treaty provided a framework under which the balance of power between the two sides was measurable. The threat of nuclear war was consequently reduced.
In an environment where the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is no longer in place, Putin stated that “to preserve the crucial element of international security and stability, mainly the strategic balance of power, we would be obliged to develop our offensive capabilities.” This implies the development of the “missiles capable of surmounting any anti-ballistic missile system.”
The “crucial element of international security and stability” has been jeopardized by NATO, or the expansion of the military alliance and its forces into Eastern Europe. Incorporating countries of the former socialist block, the alliance not only maintains a military presence in states such as Romania, Poland and Latvia but uses the power vacuum created from the absence of a missile treaty to install its anti-ballistic missile systems near the Russian border. President Putin has outlined the danger such a trend poses to Russia quite instructively. Admittedly, the first threat is the placement of “anti-ballistic missiles in the vicinity of our [Russian] border.” The second threat arises from the fact that “the launching pods of these anti-ballistic missiles can be transformed, within a few hours, into offensive missile launching pods.”
For bringing the Putin Interviews to the American audience, Oliver Stone was condemned as an apologist for the Kremlin. On the matter, it is worth quoting an article from the Foreign Policy, a reputable news publication. While dismissing the interviews for telling “little about Putin and even less about Russia,” the piece was alarmed that the series amplifies “the Kremlin line”, which, of course, consists of “conspiracy theories.”
Iranian Threat in Europe
Perhaps, we should ignore Putin’s “conspiracy theories” and use Western sources to test whether his concerns about Washington and NATO are valid. On 12 May 2016 Reuters published an article about America’s first operational ballistic missile defense site in Romania. The U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work justified the site for the following reason:
“As long as Iran continues to develop and deploy ballistic missiles, the United States will work with its allies to defend NATO.”
To quote Reuters, the missile defense site in Romania is part of what will be NATO’s “defensive umbrella” on the continent, stretching “from Greenland to the Azores.” Since Iran is presented as the primary threat, the Secretary-General of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, pointed that the missile defense system “does not undermine or weaken Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.”
Not long before Putin’s March 1 address to the Assembly, the United States 2018 Nuclear Posture Review outlined that Washington “does not wish to regard” Russia as an “adversary.” The reality, however, considerably challenges this claim. First, it is worth examining the country that has been described as a threat to NATO. Indeed, the premise of Iran being a threat stems from an alleged nuclear program that Tehran is undertaking. Yet when the United States opened its ballistic missile defense site in Romania, the threat of Iran was dismissed by the Ploughshares Fund, an influential nuclear security think tank based in Washington.
“The system was designed to protect against an Iranian nuclear missile,” stated its President Joseph Cirincione. “There is not going to be an Iranian nuclear missile for at least 20 years. There is no reason to continue with that [defensive umbrella] program.”
It is also worth asking whether Iran’s nuclear program exists in the first place. In 2007, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate judged “with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.” This, however, did not stop the United States Defense Secretary from persuading Europeans to both take a tougher stance against Tehran and pursue the development of missile defense sites. Released by WikiLeaks, the U.S. diplomatic cable from 2010 reveals the meeting between the Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. Summarizing the meeting, the cable discusses how Secretary Gates was stressing that an “urgent action is required. Without progress in the next few months, we risk nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, war prompted by an Israeli strike or both. SecDef predicted “a different world” in 4-5 years if Iran developed nuclear weapons.”
Supported by Gates and announced by President Obama, the European Phased Adaptive Approach was enabled in 2009, starting the work on a defensive umbrella for Europe against the non-existent Iranian threat. Unsurprisingly, the approach was propelled by business interests of the missile defense producers. In 2017, the German Deutsche Welle reported on a $10.5 billion missile defense deal between the United States and Poland. After Romania, Poland will be the next Eastern European country to open a missile defense site. “Made by US defense contractor Raytheon, the missiles are reportedly designed to detect, track and engage unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), cruise missiles and short-range or tactical ballistic missiles.” Interestingly, the Iranian threat was not mentioned as an influencing factor in the deal.  “Poland is one of a handful of eastern European nations that has increasingly built up their military capacity in the face of potential Russian aggression.”
The Unipolar Moment in Europe
As we broke down the myth about the Iranian threat, it is now worth examining the threat of “potential Russian aggression.” Apart from providing space for the current and future missile defense sites, Eastern Europe has been hosting thousands of American and European troops in the vicinity of the Russian border. At the end of his term in the White House, President Obama enabled what was reported as the “largest NATO buildup in Europe since the Cold War.” Adding to the existing military contingent were “thousands of additional U.S. and NATO troops,” stiffened by “87 new tanks, 144 Bradley fighting vehicles, 60 additional fighting and transport helicopters, and much other advanced” military “equipment.” Poland’s Undersecretary of State for Defense Tomasz Szatkowski made clear that the deployment responds to Russia’s “aggressive actions in our vicinity,” precisely, its actions in “Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea.”
Indeed, evaluating the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine is impossible if NATO is excluded from the picture. Incorporating into its membership countries of the former Warsaw Pact, including the three Baltic states of the former Soviet Union, NATO has gradually expanded deep into the territories formerly assigned to Moscow’s sphere of influence. This development, however, grotesquely undermines an agreement struck between the Cold War rivals before the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Geopolitically, the final chapter of the Cold War is a unique and extremely revealing period. In negotiations between Washington and Moscow about the future of NATO in post-Warsaw Pact Europe, the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, Eduard Shevardnadze, was assured with the “iron-clad guarantees” by the U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, “that NATO’s jurisdiction or forces would not move eastward.” Complicating this assurance was the future of Eastern Germany. The Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev perhaps understood that a fragmented Germany creates a rift between the two sides in cooperation. He, therefore, concluded to the reporters in the summer of 1990:
“Whether we like it or not, the time will come when a united Germany will be in NATO, if that is its choice.”
Gorbachev, nonetheless, took the word of his Western counterparts that the Western military presence will not move further eastward.
The “iron-clad guarantees” was a mere lie. After visiting the NATO headquarters in Belgium in July of the following year, the Russian delegation concluded in the memo that
“NATO should make a clearer, more detailed and definitive statement about the need for a gradual decrease in the military efforts of that organization.”
Indeed, it alliance was “lagging behind the current realities” facing Europe. The Russians gave a prophetic warning to Western partners, stressing that vagueness “could be used by the conservative forces in our country to preserve the military-industrial complex of the USSR.”

The premise that NATO is no longer justified as a military apparatus was unthinkable. As the Soviet Union ceased to exist, there was euphoria in Washington. To understand the mood of those guarding the American power in 1990, it is worth reading the work of a political commentator and proud American imperialist, Charles Krauthammer, who declared “The Unipolar Moment” in an essay for the Foreign Affairs magazine. Indeed, the United States was now the only global empire.
“American preeminence,” Krauthammer points out, “is based on the fact that it is the only country with the military, diplomatic, political and economic assets to be a decisive player in any conflict in whatever part of the world it chooses to involve itself.”
To maintain such a status quo, it is important not to regard “America’s” military “exertions abroad as nothing but a drain on its economy.” The defense spending is indeed vital for the empire. In this context, the relationship within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization can be summarized as following: there is “the United States and behind it the West, because where the United States does not tread, the alliance does not follow.”
The post-Cold War decades have demonstrated that Krauthammer’s extreme far-right judgment represents an overarching establishment view on the strategy of American foreign policy.
Employing its “military, diplomatic, political and economic” supremacy, the United States has aggressively been pursuing its imperial objectives in Eastern Europe, spearheading the expansion of NATO and influencing political processes in countries such as Ukraine and Georgia. The case of Ukraine is particularly revealing, as the events there have been used to justify the militarization of Eastern Europe. Indeed, the West never hid its support for the protests that took place on Kiev’s Maidan Square between November 2013 and February 2014.
“Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991,” emphasized the Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, “the United States has supported Ukrainians,” investing “over five billion dollars” to make an impact on their political and economic structure.
The investment was a success; Ukrainian freedom, as that is how it was conventionally described, was achieved in an undemocratic coup against the elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Coming on his place was the establishment of the current President, Petro Poroshenko, a neoliberal pseudo-fascist and a solid choice for Washington. In 2006, Poroshenko was described in the U.S. diplomatic cable as “our Ukrainian insider.” Turned President, the “Ukrainian insider” drifted the country towards Washington’s consensus, implementing the grotesque package of IMF-drafted economic reforms and welcomed hundreds of Western military advisers on Ukrainian soil. The military advisers are there for a reason: they are training the army to wage war against Russian-speaking secessionists in the Eastern Donbass region, in a conflict that has left over 10,000 people dead and over one million displaced. Admittedly, one would be called mad to claim that there would be war in Ukraine before a Western-backed coup.
Russian has been responding to the developments in Ukraine. There is no doubt that it is providing material support to the rebels in Donbass. President Putin, in fact, has inexplicitly pointed to this while assuring reporters that “the self-proclaimed Republics have enough weapons” to fight against the Ukrainian army. Moscow’s response to the conflict in Donbass, however, strikingly differs from its initial response to the coup, symbolized by its reactionary annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. The reason for that was never a guarded secret. While it is true that most people in Crimea supported unification with Russia, the Kremlin’s rapid decision on the matter had perhaps less to do with the fact that the Crimean population consists of a Russian majority, and more to do with the presence of Russia’s historic Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol. Speaking for Oliver Stone’s documentary film Ukraine on Fire, President Putin summarized the importance of a military base in Crimea for the following reason:
“The base, per us, doesn’t mean anything, but there is a nuance I would like to point out. Why do we react so vehemently to NATO’s expansion? We are concerned with the decision-making process. I know how decisions are made. As soon as the country becomes a member of NATO, it can’t resist the pressure of the U.S. And very soon anything at all can appear in such country – missile defense systems, new bases or, if necessary, new missile strike systems. What should we do? We need to take countermeasures.”
Of course, it is possible to make a case that Ukraine is not a member of NATO. In fact, there seems to be no enthusiasm within the alliance about the prospect of Ukraine’s membership. While for the establishment in Kiev, “membership” in NATO is a “strategic goal,” the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, John E. Herbst, stated that this goal will not be fulfilled anytime soon. The European NATO members “are anxious about provoking Moscow,” he says.
This does not mean, however, that Ukraine cannot be used as a satellite member of the alliance. Without a formal membership, the “Ukrainian insider[s]” of Washington have permitted the West to maintain a military contingent in the country, for example, allowing its naval ships to enter the Black Sea port in Odessa. If Crimea remained a part of Ukraine, it is somewhat plausible that Kiev would have hosted these NATO ships on the peninsula. Perhaps this answers why the annexation caused such an outcry from the West.
Amidst the developments discussed above, Russia’s defense policy can indeed be viewed as a response to NATO’s provocative expansionism and Washington’s zealous pursuit to maintain its “unipolar moment.” This unilateralist position has empowered “the conservative forces” in Russia, who are preserving and enhancing the country’s defense capabilities.
Tensions between the two sides are consequently rising; nuclear war is unthinkable no more.
An Irresponsible Global Player

Raising the stakes following Putin’s address was, again, the United States. The response to Russia was delivered by the Commander of the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM), John Hyten (image on the left). Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee, Hyten carried a message that should frighten anyone concerned about the long-term survival of mankind. “We are ready for all the threats that are out there and no one, no one should doubt this,” stated the General. Continuing from that note, Hyten reassured the committee about America’s preparedness to obliterate Russia:
“By the way, our submarines, they [the Russians] do not know where they are, and they have the ability to decimate their country if we go down that path.”
In Russia, Hyten’s remarks were featured in a news segment with the following question: is “American pursuing global suicide?”
Washington’s war rhetoric is not novel. While being the only country to use nuclear weapons in war, the United States has repeatedly been threatening to destroy the societies it perceives as its strategic “adversaries.” In an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America in 2008, then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton emphasized that the U.S. can “totally obliterate” Iran. Clinton’s message was replicated in 2017 by President Trump, though the threats were now directed against a different country. Speaking before the General Assembly of the United Nations, Trump announced to the whole world that Washington is prepared to “totally destroy North Korea.”
Admittedly, there is a serious debate in Washington about employing what they call the “bloody nose policy” against Pyongyang. The total destruction will be inflicted by a “preventive war”, promoted by Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Herbert McMaster, and the incumbent neocon John Bolton. Agreeing with their stance is Henry Kissinger, the National Security Adviser under President Nixon. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kissinger points out that “The temptation to deal with” North Korea “with a pre-emptive attack is strong and the argument is rational.” This is madness. The “rational” argument advocates for a nuclear war and genocide. The North Korean side, moreover, has repeatedly requested for peace negotiations – all rejected by Washington.
Unsurprisingly, however, the “bloody nose policy” was not received well by the American public, amidst the ongoing propaganda campaign about the North Korean threat.
To reverse the words of the U.S. State Department spokesperson, this can’t be regarded “as the behavior of a responsible international player.” While purposely escalating tensions, the United States is driving the world towards war.
Public Opinion vs. Power
The growing threat of war is measured fairly by the Doomsday Clock. Developed and updated by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, since 1947, the clock measures the proximity of a catastrophe that will endanger, if not extinguish, the conditions for an organized existence of human beings on Earth. When America and Soviet Union enabled the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the doomsday clock was set at 12 minutes before the midnight, a point of the hypothetical global disaster. The threat was at its lowest – 17 minutes before the midnight – when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Since then, however, the instability in the world caused by Washington’s desire to retain a unipolar supremacy has increased the risks dramatically. For the year 2018, the clock was set at 2 minutes before midnight. Today, humanity is as close to a catastrophe as it was at the height of the Cold War in 1953.
Operating within the structure of power, ignoring this danger, and perpetuating the status quo that brought us to this point, indeed, is equivalent of committing a crime against humanity. The contemporary rivalry between two nuclear powers can’t be logically justified.
If the leaders of both countries are genuinely concerned about defending the interests of their citizens, then it should be their priority to diffuse friction. Interestingly, while enhancing its defense policy, Russia, still, seems to show greater eagerness for detente than Washington and NATO. In his interview with the Russian leader, Oliver Stone asked why Putin persistently refers to the West as “our partners.” The answer was immediate: the “dialogue has to be pursued further.”
It is, moreover, safe to judge that most people in the world do not regard nuclear weapons as a guarantor of peace. Within the domestic realm of the American empire, 77 percent of people favor elimination of all nuclear weapons. An important message was also delivery by the United Nations General Assembly vote for the resolution L.41, a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” In the 2016, as many as 123 countries, including North Korea, voted in favor of the resolution. Only 39 voted against. Unsurprisingly, the major nuclear powers were among them. Interesting, nonetheless, is the behavior of small NATO states in Eastern Europe: many of them, too, voted for the doctrine of those leading the world towards destruction.
Eliminating the risk, as well as changing the status quo of unilateral extremism and imperialism, is not an impossible task. For they attain enough political influence, the citizens of the empire have always posed a threat to the imperial structure.  As a proud imperialist, Krauthammer understood this threat and summarized it in the following way:
“Can America support its unipolar status? Yes. But will Americans support such unipolar status? That is a more problematic question. For a small but growing chorus of Americans this vision of a unipolar world led by a dynamic America is a nightmare.”
He is right.
Maxim Nikolenko is founder and editor of Alternative Beacon.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Mass Deception and the Prelude to World War

Mass Deception and the Prelude to World War
By Colin Todhunter
Global Research, April 02, 2018

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In Libya, NATO bombed a path to Tripoli to help its proxy forces on the ground oust Gaddafi. Tens of thousands lost their lives and that country’s social fabric and infrastructure now lies in ruins. Gaddafi was murdered and his plans to assert African independence and undermine Western (not least French) hegemony on that continent have been rendered obsolete.
In Syria, the US, Turkey, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been helping to arm militants. The Daily Telegraph’s March 2013 article “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’” reported that 3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia had been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels. The New York Times March 2013 article “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With CIA Aid” stated that Arab governments and Turkey had sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters. This aid included more than 160 military cargo flights.
Sold under the notion of a spontaneous democratic uprising against a tyrannical political leader, Syria is little more than an illegal war for capital, empire and energy. The West and its allies have been instrumental in organising the war as elaborated by Tim Anderson in his book ‘The Dirty War on Syria’.
Over the last 15 years or so, politicians and the media have been manipulating popular sentiment to get an increasingly war-fatigued Western public to support ongoing wars under the notion of protecting civilians or a bogus ‘war on terror’. They spin a yarn about securing women’s rights or a war on terror in Afghanistan, removing despots from power in Iraq, Libya or Syria or protecting human life, while then going on to attack or help destabilise countries, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of civilian lives.
Emotive language designed to instill fear about potential terror attacks in Europe or myths about humanitarianism intervention are used as a pretext to wage imperialist wars in mineral-rich countries and geostrategically important regions.
Part of the battle for the public’s hearts and minds is to keep people confused. They must be convinced to regard these wars and conflicts as a disconnected array of events and not as the planned machinations of empire. The ongoing disinformation narrative about Russian aggression is part of the strategy. Ultimately, Russia (and China) is the real and increasingly imminent target: Moscow has stood in the way of the West’s plans in Syria and both Russia and China are undermining the role of the dollar in international trade, a lynchpin of US power.
The countries of the West are effectively heading for war with Russia but relatively few among the public seem to know or even care. Many are oblivious to the slaughter that has already been inflicted on populations with the help of their taxes and governments in far-away lands. With the reckless neoconservative warmonger John Bolton now part of the Trump administration, it seems we could be hurtling towards major war much faster than previously thought.
Most of the public remains blissfully ignorant of the psy-ops being directed at them through the corporate media. Given recent events in the UK and the ramping up of anti-Russia rhetoric, if ordinary members of the public think that Theresa May or Boris Johnson ultimately have their best interests at heart, they should think again. The major transnational corporations based on Wall Street and in the City of London are the ones setting Anglo-US policy agendas often via the Brookings Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, International Crisis Group, Chatham House, etc.
The owners of these companies, the capitalist class, have off-shored millions of jobs as well as their personal and company tax liabilities to boost their profits and have bankrupted economies. We see the results in terms of austerity, unemployment, powerlessness, privatization, deregulation, banker control of economies, corporate control of food and seeds, the stripping away of civil liberties, increased mass surveillance and wars to grab mineral resources and ensure US dollar hegemony. These are the interests the politicians serve.
It’s the ability to maximise profit by shifting capital around the world that matters to this class, whether on the back of distorted free trade agreements, which open the gates for plunder, or through coercion and militarism, which merely tear them down.
Whether it is the structural violence of neoliberal economic policies or actual military violence, the welfare of ordinary folk around the world does not enter the equation. In an imposed oil-thirsty, war-driven system of globalised capitalism and over-consumption that is wholly unnecessary and is stripping the planet bare, the bottom line is that ordinary folk – whether workers in the West, farmers in India or civilians displaced en masse in war zones like Syria – must be bent according to the will of Western capital.
We should not be fooled by made-for-media outpourings of morality about good and evil that are designed to create fear, outrage and support for more militarism and resource-grab wars. The shaping of public opinion is a multi-million-dollar industry.
Take for instance the mass harvesting of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica to shape the outcomes of the US election and the Brexit campaign. According to journalist Liam O’Hare, its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) has conducted ‘behavioural change’ programmes in over 60 countries and its clients have included the British Military of Defence, the US State Department and NATO. According to O’Hare, the use of the media to fool the public is one of SCL’s key selling points.
Among its activities in Europe have been campaigns targeting Russia. The company has “sweeping links” with Anglo-American political and military interests. In the UK, the interests of the governing Conservative Party and military-intelligence players are brought together via SCL: board members include “an array of Lords, Tory donors, ex-British army officers and defense contractors.”
O’Hare says it is clear is that all SCL’s activities have been inextricably linked to its Cambridge Analytica arm. He states:
“International deception and meddling is the name of the game for SCL. We finally have the most concrete evidence yet of shadowy actors using dirty tricks in order to rig elections. But these operators aren’t operating from Moscow… they are British, Eton educated, headquartered in the City of London and have close ties to Her Majesty’s government”
So, what are we to make of the current anti-Russia propaganda we witness regarding the nerve agent incident in Salisbury and the failure of the British government to provide evidence to demonstrate Russian culpability? The relentless accusations by Theresa May and Boris Johnson that have been parroted across the corporate media in the West indicate that the manipulation of public perception is everything and facts count for little. It is alarming given what is at stake – the escalation of conflict between the West and a major nuclear power.
Welcome to the world of mass deception à la Edward Bernays and Josef Goebbels.
US social commentator Walter Lippmann once said that ‘responsible men’ make decisions and have to be protected from the ‘bewildered herd’ – the public. He added that the public should be subdued, obedient and distracted from what is really happening. Screaming patriotic slogans and fearing for their lives, they should be admiring with awe leaders who save them from destruction.
Although the West’s political leaders are manipulating, subduing and distracting the public in true Lippmannesque style, they aren’t ‘saving’ anyone from anything: their reckless actions towards Russia could lead towards a war that could wipe out all life on the planet.
Colin Todhunter is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Scenes From Monday's Stock Market Meltdown

Dow Off Sessions Lows But Still Down 459 Points. Watch What Happened Now!
The bulls got stampeded on Monday.
At one point on the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 758 points. It closed down 459 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite each entered correction territory, down 10% from an all-time high. A one-time hot tech stock such as Netflix (NFLX) was smashed by 5.1%. Even high-yielding General Electric (GE) , by no means a fundamentally solid company at the moment, tanked 3%.
Here are several observations on the session across TheStreet's newsroom.

Oil Tanks

So much for oil being a bright spot.
Oil stocks were slammed Monday as prices tumbled amid fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate futures contracts for May delivery fell 3.2% to $62.85 at 5 p.m. New York time. Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, fell 2.7% to $67.49.
The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) , which holds oil giants including Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) , Chevron Corp. (CVX) and Action Alerts Plus holding Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) , fell 2% to $66.06.
WTI futures had been rising above $65 a barrel headed into the week after the long holiday as the decline in active rigs eased some concerns about surging shale production. U.S. oil producers brought seven rigs offline for the week ending March 29, cutting the U.S. oil rig count to 797, according to oilfield services giant Baker Hughes. While it was the first decrease in oil rigs in three weeks, there are an additional 135 active oil rigs than there were during the same period last year.
Investors searching for early signs of an impact from the budding U.S./China trade war need not look any further than oil prices. If declines persist, it may signal economic slowdowns in each country later this year.

Selling Persists in Tech

Beset by concerns about regulation and government action, Big Tech continued to weigh the broader market down on Monday. This time, though, there was an assist from chip stocks, as a report that Action Alerts Plus holding Apple (AAPL) would be ditching chips made by Intel (INTC) in its Macintosh personal computers sent Intel's shares down as much as 9%, although they closed down 6%.
The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) fell 3.7%.
Overall, the Nasdaq fell 2.7% on Monday, turning the index negative for the year. Among notable losers were Action Alerts Plus holding Amazon (AMZN) (down 5.2%), Tesla (TSLA) (down 5.1%), Netflix (down 5.1%) and Action Alerts Plus holding Nvidia (down 4.6%). The only big cap tech company that emerged relatively unscathed was Apple, likely on optimism about its move to design its own PC chips.

Source: Bloomberg
Source: Bloomberg

The Broader Markets

The S&P 500 closed below its 200-day moving average for the first time since late June 2016. But it wasn't just that occurrence that should have investors spooked, it's how ugly the tape was for most of the session. Stocks coming off their lows into the close have all the feel of a sucker's rally on Tuesday morning that lends way to another nosedive later in the session.