Saturday, November 15, 2014

THE ROVING EYE - China's silky road to glory By Pepe Escobar



THE ROVING EYE
China's silky road to glory
By Pepe Escobar

If there were any remaining doubts about the unlimited stupidity Western corporate media is capable of dishing out, the highlight of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing has been defined as Russian President Vladimir Putin supposedly "hitting" on Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife - and the subsequent Chinese censoring of the moment when Putin draped a shawl over her shoulders in the cold air where the leaders were assembled. What next? Putin and Xi denounced as a gay couple?

Let's dump the clowns and get down to the serious business. Right at the start, President Xi urged APEC to "add firewood to the fire of the Asia-Pacific and world economy". Two days later, China got what it wanted on all fronts.

1) Beijing had all 21 APEC member-nations endorsing the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) - the Chinese vision of an "all inclusive, all-win" trade deal capable of advancing Asia-Pacific cooperation - see South China Morning Post (paywall). The loser was the US-driven, corporate-redacted, fiercely opposed (especially by Japan and Malaysia) 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). [See also here.

2) Beijing advanced its blueprint for "all-round connectivity" (in Xi's words) across Asia-Pacific - which implies a multi-pronged strategy. One of its key features is the implementation of the Beijing-based US$50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. That's China's response to Washington refusing to give it a more representative voice at the International Monetary Fund than the current, paltry 3.8% of votes (a smaller percentage than the 4.5% held by stagnated France).

3) Beijing and Moscow committed to a second gas mega-deal - this one through the Altai pipeline in Western Siberia - after the initial "Power of Siberia" mega-deal clinched last May.

4) Beijing announced the funneling of no less than US$40 billion to start building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Predictably, once again, this vertiginous flurry of deals and investment had to converge towards the most spectacular, ambitious, wide-ranging plurinational infrastructure offensive ever attempted: the multiple New Silk Roads - that complex network of high-speed rail, pipelines, ports, fiber optic cables and state of the art telecom that China is already building across the Central Asian stans, linked to Russia, Iran, Turkey and the Indian Ocean, and branching out to Europe all the way to Venice, Rotterdam, Duisburg and Berlin.

Now imagine the paralyzed terror of the Washington/Wall Street elites as they stare at Beijing interlinking Xi's "Asia-Pacific Dream"way beyond East Asia towards all-out, pan-Eurasia trade - with the center being, what else, the Middle Kingdom; a near future Eurasia as a massive Chinese Silk Belt with, in selected latitudes, a sort of development condominium with Russia.

Vlad doesn't do stupid stuff
As for "Don Juan" Putin, everything one needs to know about Asia-Pacific as a Russian strategic/economic priority was distilled in his intervention at the APEC CEO summit.

This was in fact an economic update of his by now notorious speech at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi in October, followed by a wide-ranging Q&A, which was also duly ignored by Western corporate media (or spun as yet more "aggression").

The Kremlin has conclusively established that Washington/Wall Street elites have absolutely no intention of allowing a minimum of multipolarity in international relations. What's left is chaos.

There's no question that Moscow pivoting away from the West and towards East Asia is a process directly influenced by President Barack Obama's self-described "Don't Do Stupid Stuff" foreign policy doctrine, a formula he came up with aboard Air Force One when coming back last April from a trip to - where else - Asia.

But the Russia-China symbiosis/strategic partnership is developing in multiple levels.

On energy, Russia is turning east because that's where top demand is. On finance, Moscow ended the pegging of the rouble to the US dollar and euro; not surprisingly the US dollar instantly - if only briefly - dropped against the rouble. Russian bank VTB announced it may leave the London Stock Exchange for Shanghai's - which is about to become directly linked to Hong Kong. And Hong Kong, for its part, is already attracting Russian energy giants.

Now mix all these key developments with the massive yuan-rouble energy double deal, and the picture is clear; Russia is actively protecting itself from speculative/politically motivated Western attacks against its currency.

The Russia-China symbiosis/strategic partnership visibly expands on energy, finance and, also inevitably, on the military technology front. That includes, crucially, Moscow selling Beijing the S-400 air defense system and, in the future, the S-500 - against which the Americans are sitting ducks; and this while Beijing develops surface-to-ship missiles that can take out everything the US Navy can muster.

Anyway, at APEC, Xi and Obama at least agreed to establish a mutual reporting mechanism on major military operations. That might - and the operative word is "might" - prevent an East Asia replica of relentless NATO-style whining of the "Russia has invaded Ukraine!" kind.

Freak out, neo-cons
When Little Dubya Bush came to power in early 2001, the neo-cons were faced with a stark fact: it was just a matter of time before the US would irreversibly lose its global geopolitical and economic hegemony. So there were only two choices; either manage the decline, or bet the whole farm to consolidate global hegemony using - what else - war.

We all know about the wishful thinking enveloping the "low-cost" war on Iraq - from Paul Wolfowitz's "We are the new OPEC" to the fantasy of Washington being able to decisively intimidate all potential challengers, the EU, Russia and China.

And we all know how it went spectacularly wrong. Even as that trillionaire adventure, as Minqi Li analyzed in The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy, "has squandered US imperialism's remaining space for strategic maneuver", the humanitarian imperialists of the Obama administration still have not given up, refusing to admit the US has lost any ability to provide any meaningful solution to the current, as Immanuel Wallerstein would define it, world-system.

There are sporadic signs of intelligent geopolitical life in US academia, such as this at the Wilson Center website (although Russia and China are not a "challenge" to a supposed world "order": their partnership is actually geared to create some order among the chaos.)

And yet this opinion piece at USNews is the kind of stuff passing for academic "analysis" in US media.

On top of it, Washington/Wall Street elites - through their myopic Think Tankland - still cling to mythical platitudes such as the "historical" US role as arbiter of modern Asia and key balancer of power.

So no wonder public opinion in the US - and Western Europe - cannot even imagine the earth-shattering impact the New Silk Roads will have in the geopolitics of the young 21st century.

Washington/Wall Street elites - talk about Cold War hubris - always took for granted that Beijing and Moscow would be totally apart. Now puzzlement prevails. Note how the Obama administration's "pivoting to Asia" has been completely erased from the narrative - after Beijing identified it for what it is: a warlike provocation. The new meme is "rebalance".

German businesses, for their part, are absolutely going bonkers with Xi's New Silk Roads uniting Beijing to Berlin - crucially via Moscow. German politicians sooner rather than later will have to get the message.

All this will be discussed behind closed doors this weekend at key meetings on the sidelines of the Group of 20 in Australia. The Russia-China-Germany alliance-in-the-making will be there. The BRICS, crisis or no crisis, will be there. All the players in the G-20 actively working for a multipolar world will be there.

APEC once again has shown that the more geopolitics change, the more it won't stay the same; as the exceptional dogs of war, inequality and divide and rule keep barking, the China-Russia pan-Eurasian caravan will keep going, going, going - further on down the (multipolar) road.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.
 

Friday, November 14, 2014

"White Widow's" death in Ukraine proves ISIL-Kiev alliance by Wayne Madsen





"White Widow's" death in Ukraine proves ISIL-Kiev alliance


The recent killing by a Russian "volunteer" sniper of the so-called "White Widow," aka Samantha Lewthwaite, 
while she was fighting against Russian-speaking forces in eastern Ukraine, is the best evidence yet of Islamic State collusion with the Kiev government and Zionist Ukrainian tycoons like Ihor Kolomoisky. Lewthwaite was reportedly killed by Russian forces some two weeks ago in the eastern Ukrainian region of Lugansk.

Lewthwaite was serving as a sniper with the Aidar Battalion, which receives support from Kolomoisky, the billionaire Ukrainian-Israeli dual national governor of 
Dnipropetrovsk. Kolomoisky provides money and logistical support to several pro-Kiev paramilitary units. They include, in addition to the Aidar Battalion, "Blue Helmet" ex-Israeli Defense Force commandos,  the Azov Battalion, the Donbass Battalion, and the 2,000-strong Dniepr-1 (or Dnipro-1) Battalion. A number of neo-Nazi Ukrainian nationalists from the west of the country serve with the battalions in the east.

The white Northern Ireland-born Lewthwaite was the widow of one of the accused London transit bombers, Jermain Lindsey, hence her nickname "White Widow." Lewthwaite disappeared from England a few months after the 2005 London bombings. She surfaced again as the alleged commander of the Al-Shabaab-linked terrorist commando team that attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013, an attack that saw over 60 civilians killed. Lewthwaite's death at the hands of eastern Ukrainian Russians was reported by Moscow's Regnum news agency to have been "slow and painful."

Lewthwaite's death while fighting with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces in eastern Ukraine verifies reports WMR received in Iran that Ukraine was assisting ISIL forces in Syria. In September it was reported that Lewthwaite was in Syria helping ISIL volunteers train for suicide attacks. In turn, many Chechen members of ISIL traveled freely between Syria/Iraq and Ukraine through Turkey to fight against Russian-speaking forces in eastern Ukraine.

A recent phone call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Russian President Vladimir Putin developed into a shouting match after Erdogan asked Putin to stop assisting the Bashar al Assad government in Syria. Putin, in response, accused Erdogan of facilitating the transit of ISIL guerrillas between the Middle East and Ukraine, many of them Chechen Islamist radicals wanted by Moscow for terrorist attacks in Russia. The killing of Lewthwaite by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine largely proved Putin's assertion of Ukrainian complicity with ISIL. Russian SVR intelligence, through agents associated with the autonomous Russian republic of Tatarstan who work in Turkey, may have been aware of Lewthwaite's transit to eastern Ukraine via Turkey after fighting with ISIL forces in Syria and/or Iraq. Lewthwaite reportedly received plastic surgery after the Nairobi attack to avoid capture.

After the attack, Lewthwaite escaped from Kenya on a South African passport. Lewthwaite was reported to have been killed in 2013 in Somalia during fighting between two factions of Al-Shabaab.


Lewthwaite's South African passport. Was it courtesy of Mossad's passport-alteration bucket shops?

The mere fact that Lewthwaite and her ISIL comrades were caught fighting in eastern Ukraine alongside Israeli, Ukrainian Jewish, and neo-Nazi western Ukrainians on behalf of the Kiev regime, represents additional proof of Tel Aviv's involvement with ISIL. A recent audio tape purporting to be a call by ISIL "caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for ISIL 
to "erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere" originated from the Mossad-funded and Washington-based Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) group run by Rita Katz, a well-known Mossad operative. SITE is infamous for releasing unverified video and audio tapes from such Al Qaeda leaders as Osama bin Laden; Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri; and Adam Gadahn, aka Adam Pearlman, whose grandfather, Carl Pearlman, was a member of the board of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The Zionist-owned media, which includes BuzzFeed, immediately called the story of Lewthwaite's killing in Ukraine a "fake story." Any news report that interferes with the Zionist-conceived "pseudo-reality" routinely sold to an unsuspecting world is always called fake by the Zionist media. BuzzFeed was funded by money from Ben Horowitz, the son of the king of neo-conservative political correctness on college campuses, David Horowitz. Ben Horowitz, a wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur, is a major funder of the American Jewish World Service.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Obama’s Feet to the Fire? Not Likely. Not Ever by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley






Freedom Rider: Obama’s Feet to the Fire? Not Likely. Not Ever.

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Black politics had been on life support for quite some time but flat lined on January 3, 2008. On that date Illinois senator Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses during his presidential campaign. By doing so he proved that white people would vote for him and thereby answered a question which black people had pondered for decades. Millions became focused on one idea alone. Their sole political aspiration was seeing Barack Obama sworn in as president and the already precarious plight of African Americans has sunk further ever since.
In 2008, anyone who didn’t support Barack Obama or who even dared to ask a question was silenced with pleas for a dubious kind of racial solidarity. They were given assurances that once in office, black people would then “hold his feet to the fire.” The promise was always phony, a call from people who never really had an interest in making political demands. After his election all talk of making demands disappeared. Every act was met with the same excuses. Wait until after the mid-term elections, wait for him to re-elected, wait for the next mid-terms.
The faulty logic was always dangerous, making black people more vulnerable and Obama and company more brazen. Ironically, the 2014 mid-term elections and the resulting republican control of both houses of congress brings a new opportunity for black America to rise and make good on a long legacy of protest.
There are fewer opportunities for Obama to act out his love for the grand bargain. There should be no need to talk over black people’s heads to speak to white voters. Instead of shedding tears because of Obama’s political misfortunes, black people should celebrate. However, that scenario assumes that the pledge of holding feet to fire was ever serious in the first place.
Unfortunately there is no honesty to be had in this sorry story. The Obama idol worshipers were always content to just worship and never cared about Obama’s policies. The president doesn’t really like black people very much and rarely passes up an opportunity to deliver mockery and insult. Astute observers knew that “hope and change” was always an elaborate marketing gimmick.
Even if the people who always claimed they wanted to make demands did so, their pleas would fall on deaf ears. The lame duck president will do as he has always done. He has always acted on his conviction that the system needs more deal making and not more change.
Obama was always conservative. He said so when he spoke of his admiration for Ronald Reagan. He said so when he said that black people were “90 percent of the way” towards equality. He said so in his first appearance before the American people in 2004 when he made the astounding assertion that “there is no black America, there is no white America.”
The Obama lovers have already fallen back on familiar terrain. Instead of asking hard questions they have chosen to blame the Democratic party for the defeat. Yet they absolve the man who leads the Democratic party of any blame. His absence from the campaign trail and unfunny jokes about cousins Pookie and Ray Ray were a sorry substitute for making a political case and Republican control is the result.
The Democrats never really want to activate their base. They thrive best on Republican unpopularity and not ownership of their policies. Obama’s signature political achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is on the verge of being picked apart by a conservative Supreme Court. That wouldn’t be the case if we had a single payer system of Medicare for all but that was never on the Democratic party agenda. Now their mish mash of a plan may be diminished severely if not disappeared altogether.
The lack of a black political agenda will be all the more evident over the next two years. The plight of the undeserving Obama will be lamented even as life gets worse for the black America he says doesn’t exist.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
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Putin: Trade in Rubles & Yuan Will Weaken Dollar’s Influence



Putin: Trade in Rubles & Yuan Will Weaken Dollar’s Influence
By Vladimir Putin
November 12, 2014 "ICH" - Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum’s CEO Summit on the Asia-Pacific region’s significance for Russia.
Mr Putin said, in particular, that Russia views cooperation with the Asia-Pacific region as a strategic priority. The President also told summit participants about Russia’s plans to expand its cooperation with Asia-Pacific region countries, including through increased trade and investment incentives.

Transcript of APEC CEO Summit meeting

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Ladies and gentlemen,
The APEC CEO Summit is traditionally considered one of the most representative forums for broad discussions on economic issues. I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on a subject of great importance for us – developing Russia’s cooperation with the Asia-Pacific region.
The twenty-first century has already been called ‘the Pacific century’. As part of the Asia-Pacific region, Russia must make use of the competitive advantages offered by this fast-growing economic, technology and innovation centre.

In turn, Russian regions such as Siberia and the Far East offer a unique chance for this vast region’s countries to effectively develop and make use of the opportunities there and further strengthen their potential.  

Cooperation with the Asia-Pacific region is one of Russia’s strategic priorities. The overall constructive spirit that characterises our relations with the vast majority of countries in the region is very important. We value this spirit greatly and will do everything possible to develop bilateral and multilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas. 

Many Asia-Pacific region countries offer successful examples of roads to follow in developing their competitive abilities. They have taken the lead in innovation sectors and have considerable financial and investment resources at their disposal. Even faced with the negative global trends of recent years, they have kept up a good pace and had only a slight slowdown in growth.

At the same time, in order not to end up caught in a more protracted slowdown, countries in the region will need to carry out significant structural reforms. It is not by chance that our Chinese friends, for example, have made this issue one of the priorities for the APEC presidency.

Russia is no exception here. Structural economic transformation is one of our top priorities. Trade with the Asia-Pacific region countries represents more than a quarter of Russia’s total trade today.
We want to increase this share to 40 percent and we are taking concrete steps to expand the geography of our exports and increase the share of non-raw materials and high-tech goods.
In the Far East, we plan to establish a network of fast-growth zones offering tax incentives and simplified administrative procedures. The plan is that the companies located here will focus on narrow exports of non-raw materials, above all to the Asia-Pacific region.  

Ladies and gentlemen, let me take this occasion to invite you to make use of the opportunity opening up to organise production operations in Russia’s Far East. Let me say again that we are ready to offer you the best and most competitive conditions for your work. Direct foreign investment from Asia-Pacific region countries in the Russian economy has doubled since 2009 and now comes to nearly $10 billion.

Russian investment in the Asia-Pacific region countries is more modest and came to slightly more than $1 billion as of the end of last year. We will work actively to correct this imbalance. We hope in particular that the establishment of the National Coordination Centre for Developing Economic Relations with the Asia-Pacific Region Countries will make it possible to launch new projects with Russia’s involvement.

The People’s Republic of China is one of our key partners in the region. We will make greater use of settlements in our national currencies in our trade with China. We are already carrying out our first deals in rubles and yuan. Let me say that we are ready to extend such possibilities to trade in the energy sector too.

Our experts are currently studying these options. An intergovernmental Russian-Chinese commission on investment cooperation is also at work. Its main task is to promote investment projects in sectors other than energy on the basis of mutually advantageous cooperation.

We plan to use similar formats for developing our dialogue and practical cooperation in the investment sector with other partners too. Economic integration is clearly taking the fore on the APEC agenda today.

We believe that a major achievement of the Chinese presidency has been securing agreement on concrete steps towards establishing a future Asia-Pacific free trade zone. This plan should take into account the interests of all future participants, the unique features of our economies and the considerable differences in our development. Naturally, the future Asia-Pacific free trade zone should work together with other big regional economic associations. 

Let me remind you in this respect that the Eurasian Economic Union will begin operation on January 1, 2015, and will bring together Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia, which is in the process of joining. This creates a large new regional market built on WTO principles. It offers free movement of capital, goods, services and labour and broad opportunities for coordination and exchange of technology and investment.

One of the Eurasian Economic Union’s strategic goals is to take part in the integration processes underway in the Asia-Pacific region. I am sure that this opens up prospects of interest to many of our colleagues in the region. The Union is already holding talks on a free trade zone with Vietnam and is open to substantive dialogue with other countries in the region.  

Ladies and gentlemen, the region’s biggest companies are represented at today’s summit. Some of you already have a presence in Russia and some of you are studying the possibility. Let me therefore address in more detail some of the issues that are usually uppermost on investors’ minds.
Let me stress that our long-term development goals remain unchanged. Russia has retained its macroeconomic stability and we consider this one of our greatest achievements. We will continue to value this and will follow a carefully balanced budget policy.

We are not going to increase our sovereign debt. We plan to keep this debt at the safe and controllable level of less than 15 percent of GDP. 

We are aware that our national currency, the ruble, is undergoing considerable fluctuation at the moment and we are working with our financial authorities to take the necessary measures. Our Central Bank is continuing its inflation target policy and will not change this.

Let me add that our Central Bank is also working actively on cleaning up banks’ balances. This was something that long needed doing. I think that investors would have no trouble understanding the need to take such of measures to clean up the credit and financial system in general.

What is important is that our basic indicators such as gold and currency reserves and our balance of payments are still at a good level. This makes it possible for us to control the situation without needing to resort to extraordinary measures. Let me say again too that we have no intention of introducing capital controls.

We place great importance on developing a favourable business environment and spreading best practice in working with investors at the regional and municipal level. The main thing is that businesspeople and investors, including our foreign friends, are noticing the positive changes themselves. The international experts have also recognised our efforts. Russia has had a two-fold rise in its ranking on the well-known Doing Business rating since 2010. 

To attract investors, reduce risks, and co-finance projects, we will use development institutes and also some of the reserves we have built up in our sovereign funds – money from the federal National Welfare Fund and other resources. We will improve access to credit resources. We are completing work on a mechanism for project financing and we plan to support major long-term projects.
Starting next year, a new organisation, the Industrial Development Fund, will be responsible for pre-bank financing of companies. We plan to invest significant resources in modernising the Baikal-Amur and Trans-Siberian railways and see them as the base for a transcontinental bridge between Asia and Europe.

These railways’ reconstruction is linked in with development of port facilities in the Far East, introduction of a railway traffic management system based on the latest technology used by GLONASS, Russia’s global navigation system, and the creation of the so-called land ports – transport and logistics centres. All of this will make it possible to considerably speed up transit of goods.

Let me add too that we are actively at work on developing the Northern Sea Route’s infrastructure. It will become a modern, safe and economically competitive transport corridor with a particular focus on goods from the Asia-Pacific region countries.

We also offer our partners cooperation in developing energy and telecommunications infrastructure. These are priority areas for the entire Asia-Pacific region today. Friends and colleagues, by combining our efforts and capabilities we could achieve benefit all round. 

Russia is showing an example of investment openness in the sensitive energy sector. Let me remind you in this respect of the big Sakhalin oil and gas projects (Japan has a 30-percent stake in the Sakhalin-1 project and a stake of more than 22 percent in the Sakhalin-2 project, for example) and our agreements with China on building infrastructure for natural gas supplies. We are also examining possibilities for our Chinese partners to acquire stakes in some of our biggest production assets.

Ladies and gentlemen, Russia’s location in Eurasia determines its role as a major factor for bringing Western and Eastern civilisation closer together, and we therefore want to strengthen our relations with all Asia-Pacific region countries and play an active part in building a free trade system and in economic and investment cooperation.

We are open for dialogue and discussion and for practical work too. We are ready to carry out joint programmes in the Asia-Pacific region and are sincerely interested in seeing businesspeople from this region come to Russia and achieve success there. We have huge, truly inexhaustible opportunities for work together.

In conclusion, let me invite you, ladies and gentlemen, to the next St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which will take place next year on June 18-20. I hope that we will continue the substantial dialogue on all issues of mutual interest and will open the way for new and interesting big projects.

Thank you for your attention.

QUESTION: Mr President, you mentioned the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union, which will come into force on January 1, 2015. Could you talk in more detail about the concrete opportunities that will open in this regard to APEC businesspeople and APR nations?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We have talked about this a great deal. It is one of our biggest integration projects in the post-Soviet space. I have already said that its participants are the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Now, Armenia is in the final phase of joining this Union. This has essentially happened already: Armenia’s Accession Agreement has been signed.

For a nation like China, the numbers I provide may not seem impressive, but nevertheless, for example, for the European region, this is a market of 170 million people. What’s most important is that all these nations (at least, Russia and Kazakhstan) have large, not to say enormous, mineral resources and transport opportunities. Belarus brings us closer to the European market. The scientific potential is very high. But what’s most important is that the principles laid into the foundation of the Union’s work are built around the framework requirements of the World Trade Organisation, fully meeting them.

As I said in my address, we have transitioned to a higher phase of interaction and integration. We are removing customs regulation almost entirely between member states in this integration process. We are transitioning to the free movement of capital, services and labour. We are synchronising our tax and financial legislation and progressing to joint regulation of the financial markets.

In my view, all this creates excellent conditions for businesses to feel confident and secure working on this fairly large market. It gives them the opportunity to forecast their activities and receive good returns, to feel protected. I am referring (again, I repeat, this is a very important aspect) to the fact that the principles fully correspond with the requirements of the World Trade Organisation. We believe our partners from all regions of the world, including the Asia-Pacific region, will appreciate this very soon.

QUESTION: I would like to ask Mr President a question about improving Russian legislation.
We have business in Russia, and we would very much like to organise joint enterprises with Russia, but we have studied the Russian laws about foreign investments – in other words, investments by foreign states into Russia. It seems not everything is entirely clear, especially with regard to the fact that state authorities have very extensive powers with regard to foreign investors. Will there be any improvements in this area in Russia?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I already said it in my address and I would like to stress this again: we feel, first, that this is one of our main objectives – namely, to create favourable conditions for investing and generally doing business in Russia. We have a whole programme of action that was developed not just by state officials, but in constant dialogue with our business community.

We have a roadmap for eliminating administrative barriers. And as I said earlier, overall, the situation is changing for the better. We have advanced significantly in the Doing Business ranking. But it’s not just about rankings. It is, of course, a matter of the practical reality.

We are talking about making it easier to register companies. We are talking about making it easier to get connected to infrastructure, first and foremost, energy infrastructure. We are talking about decreasing pressure from, to put it bluntly, the law enforcement system. All of this is constantly in our field of vision. An analysis of what is happening in the market, the feedback from the business community gives us the foundation to believe that the process is moving in the right direction.
There is not doubt that much remains to be done still, but we are fully aware of what to do, and how. I am talking about fundamental issues, which I already mentioned, first and foremost, the budget policy, maintaining macroeconomic indicators and the overall principles of macroeconomic policy. I am talking about our support for exports. Here, unfortunately, we are at the start of this path, but we understand what needs to be done in this direction as well.

I repeat, we are talking about supporting export. So if you come to Russia, the opportunities there extend beyond working in the Russian market. There are also options to work in third country markets through Russia. I want to stress, each of the segments of this plan is under our constant attention, jointly with Russia’s business community. We will continue to improve all these mechanisms.

QUESTION: Mr President, I am from the Beijing Chamber of Commerce. Our members include over 200 companies, particularly businesses engaged in the so-called upstream, in other words, oil exploration and extraction. We also accompanied the Chinese Prime Minister’s on his visit to Russia. We also plan to build production facilities and a research centre in Russia.

I have a question. You talked about direct transactions in rubles and yuan, the possibility of exchange. But the question is about liquidity – in other words, will it be possible to conduct such calculations more freely?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You touched on a very important issue that concerns global finances and global energy. I believe that payments in national currencies, in any case, between such partners as China and Russia, are a very promising direction for our cooperation, which will help broaden our options for mutual trade and significantly influence global financial and energy markets.

We are currently examining a project for Chinese partners to join one of our major extraction companies with payments made in yuan. Of course, we must understand how we will use the extensive resources that the Russian partner will have when receiving Chinese national currency, but given that the Chinese economy is generating a great deal of goods that are in demand in the Russian goods market, we feel that such settlements are entirely possible.

Moreover, the Russian ruble has a number of advantages in that it is essentially a freely convertible currency, and as I said earlier, we are not going to restrict the movement of capital. Today, we are observing speculative jumps in the exchange rate, but I believe that this will end soon – I am referring to the actions that the Central Bank is taking in response to the actions of profiteers.

I must say that the events on the currency market that we are currently observing in Russia are absolutely unrelated to fundamental economic reasons and factors. All this will come into balance, but it is currently opportunistic in nature, and in the long-term, of course, calculations in rubles and yuan are very promising. This will mean that if we transition to such large-scale cooperation, the effect of the US dollar, say, on global energy, will decrease markedly.

In truth, this is not bad for the global economy, nor for global finances or global energy markets, nor for the dollar itself, because the more versatile payment options are available in this area, the more stable the situation will be in global finances and global energy. Ultimately, I think this can have a favourable effect on the dollar as a global reserve currency. Naturally, the dollar will later participate in exchange operations – this is true of the ruble and the yuan. So I think that this is a very good, entirely realistic perspective, and not a distant one; we will be able to see and hear this in the near future.

QUESTION: Mr President, my name is Yana, I represent a major Chinese investment project, the Greenwood Business Park in Moscow. We have already been working in Moscow, in Russia, for over 15 years. My question: how do you feel the successful experience of Chinese projects in Russia can be used to attract new Chinese investors?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: If you talk at forums like this one about your success in Russia, this will encourage others your partners and our friends to enter the Russian market and set up businesses there. What you just said is already an excellent advertisement for working in the Russian market. I would happily give you a hug. Thank you very much.

REMARK: Thank you. And in addition, I would like to say that currently, there are over 370 companies from 13 countries around the world working at the Greenwood Business Park. It would be our pleasure to invite you on an official visit to the Greenwood Business Park, a Chinese project.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you. I will certainly come visit.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Mr President. I represent a Chinese company. I have two questions for you.

First, investment in Russia. All Chinese companies are still somewhat concerned, mainly over issues of law and order and safety in the streets. This is my first question.
The second question. Russia is a major producer of timber. There are still significant barriers in this area. How can Chinese companies gain access to the Russian timber market?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, regarding security, especially safety in the streets. I assure you that Russia is no more dangerous than any other country, including China, the United States or a number of European states.

Incidentally, today is November 10, and we are marking the professional holiday of employees of the Russian Interior Ministry. Therefore, this is a very timely question. Let us all congratulate them on their professional holiday, so they know that even here at the APEC Summit we are talking about the quality of their work. And let’s hope that their work continues to improve.

Thank you.

As for timber, the issue you are so interested in. I understand the subtext of your question. However, I am sure that you will also understand me when I say that any country (and Russia is no exception here) wants to have the raw materials produced on its territory to be processed there as well, so that the nation’s economy generates greater added value, new jobs are created and taxes are collected in Russia.
Therefore, our legislation has been making slow progress lately, considering our partners’ desire to buy round timber. However, the overall tendency is that we need to process timber on the territory of the Russian Federation, and we will continue working in this direction.

In response to your question regarding how to ensure the interests of foreign companies, including the interests of our friends in China, I would like to say that the answer is very simple: you can come to Russia and invest in timber processing facilities.

QUESTION (retranslated): Mr President, I head a company in China. We are involved in electronic trade, helping small and medium sized companies do business online. Therefore, regional cooperation is not an empty phrase for us, and my question has to do with it. We all know that regional cooperation is the focus of APEC’s efforts. How would you assess its current state and prospects?
Thank you.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Are you referring to the state of online trade or our cooperation with China? I did not really understand your question.

REMARK: Since we help small and medium-size businesses, we would of course like to see regional cooperation within APEC develop. This would make our work easier, because electronic trade helps small and medium-size companies access world markets and receive funding.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I see.

First, regarding regional cooperation. I believe this is a key area of our cooperation; moreover, cooperation between regions of the Russian Federation and regions of the People’s Republic of China is developing successfully. I won’t quote any numbers now regarding the growth of regional trade, but it is increasing day by day and year by year. We have established very good direct relations between the heads of Russian and the Chinese regions. This is a very good factor in favour of closer relations between companies.

Your professional question concerning online trade is also very important. We believe this is a significant segment of world trade, specifically for the development of small and medium-sized businesses. However, we proceed from the notion that in Russia taxation of this type of activity should not noticeably differ from the practices that exist in other countries.

True (I understand what you are hinting at), there is a discussion underway regarding the taxation that should be applied to electronic trade in the Russian Federation. The scope of electronic trade in Russia is large and keeps growing. The state should definitely maintain its interests and our fiscal policy should correspond to both the development of this segment of trade and its demands.

There is an issue we will have to resolve within the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union, which is to be launched on January 1, 2015. Your colleagues have already asked about it. We need to synchronise our tax rates, bearing in mind that if the tax rates in Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Belarus are different, all the businesses will move to the country with the lowest taxes.

We are working on this with our colleagues, but we must maintain a balanced approach to avoid any serious blows to business; moreover, we must retain favourable operating conditions for them, while protecting the state’s financial interests. We will make sure we make this known in advance. This will be a free, open discussion conducted, among other places, in the Parliaments of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

I know I should give my colleagues a chance to come to this stand. I would like to have a longer discussion with you on these and other issues; I know you have quite a few questions. I would like to thank you for your interest in this conversation with me as a representative of the Russian Federation. 
I invite you all to Russia and wish you all the best.

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

SPECIAL REPORT. Treasury Department Neocons and Zionists play dangerous games in Yemen by Wayne Masen




SPECIAL REPORT. Treasury Department Neocons and Zionists play dangerous games in Yemen
David Cohen, the Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, and his band of neocon Zionists who randomly freeze accounts and bring sanctions against foreign officials and businessmen who do not comport with neocon diktats have now targeted Yemeni leaders. Cohen has systematically brought sanctions against any leaders who pose a threat to Zionist designs, whether they are leaders of Yemen who reject a Zionist plan conceived by former U.S. ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein to carve up Yemen into six provinces dominated by a pro-U.S. government, Hungarian anti-European Union nationalist politicians, or Russian-speaking leaders of Crimea and eastern Ukraine,

In his zealous pursuit of Iranian sanctions, Cohen and his team have targeted third countries that have economic ties with Iran, including Belarus, Switzerland, Venezuela, and China.

Ever since the Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence position was created in 2004, it has been in the hands of neocons. The first under secretary was Stuart Levey, whose favorite sanctions targets were Iran and Syria. Levey has since become the Chief Legal Officer for the scandal-plagued HSBC bank.

The director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces Cohen's orders, is Adam J. Szubin, yet another neocon Zionist with the power to engage in financial subterfuge in countries around the world.

The sanctions brought by Cohen's operation against three Yemeni leaders were authorized by President Obama's Executive Order of May 16, 2012, titled "Blocking Property of Persons, Threatening the Peace, Security, or Stability of Yemen." The first three targets were not members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, whose size and influence in Yemen have been vastly overblown by U.S. intelligence agencies, but against former Yemeni President  
o
Ali Abdullah Saleh and two Houthi rebel commanders, Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim and Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi. The Houthis are Zaidi Shi'a Muslims with close links to Iran. Cohen's actions have extended from Syria to Yemen what has been a virtual U.S. war against Shia Islam. Saleh and the Houthi rebel commanders, who walked out of a shaky unity government, were charged by Cohen's office "for engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen." Saleh was said by Cohen of
"reportedly [becoming] one of the primary supporters of violence perpetrated by individuals affiliated with the Huthi group." Hakim was charged by the Treasury unit of "plotting a coup attempt against Yemen President Mansur Hadi as the Huthi forces sought to take over Sanaa, Yemen's capital."

The Houthi rebellion was triggered by incessant attacks on Zaidi Shi'a civilians in the north of Yemen carried out by the Yemeni central government's military, which was assisted by Saudi Arabia, the United States, and, extremely covertly, by Israel.

Contravening the orders of Washington, Saleh withdrew the ministers of his General People's Congress party from the unity cabinet led by Khaled Bahah, a former Yemeni ambassador to the United Nations and neocon-led Canada and an ardent fan of such social networking programs as Facebook and LinkedIn. Bahah, who hails from the secessionist south of Yemen but favors a unified Yemen, rose up in opposition to the Saleh government in March 2011. Saleh was ousted in a George Soros/Gene Sharp-style "themed revolution."

Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansor Hadi appointed Bahah prime minister after Houthi rebels descended from their northern Yemeni stronghold along the Saudi border and occupied government buildings in Sana'a, the Yemeni capital. The Saudis, under orders from the United States and with the ascent of Israel, have waged an aerial bombing campaign against the Houthis from bases in Saudi Arabia. The United States reportedly hit Houthi positions from drones launched from Djibouti, across the Red Sea.
Ali Salim al-Beidh and other leaders of the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, or South Yemen, have given quiet support to the Houthis. Abdulrahman al Jifri, the former vice president of South Yemen, recently returned from exile in Saudi Arabia to a thunderous welcome at Aden International Airport. Jifri called for the restoration of the south's independence and he warned the Houthis not to encroach on the territory of South Yemen. The possibility that South Yemen could re-emerge as an independent state with a number of leaders of the former pro-Soviet republic in charge has definitely alarmed the United States and Israel's agents-of-influence in the Obama administration.

Cohen's sanctions order against Saleh and the Houthis stated "the U.S. supports Yemen in its efforts to make economic reforms and "will hold accountable" anyone who threatens the country's stability." There is a clear warning that Cohen and his colleagues are prepared to extend sanctions to others who oppose the Yemeni federation plan cooked up by the neocons and Zionists.

The Houthi takeover of Sana'a put a nail in the coffin of the Yemen federation plan conceived by Cohen's co-ideologues -- Feierstein and the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman. Now the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Political Affairs, Feltman was an early opponent of any type of self-determination for southern Yemenis who wanted their independence restored or the Zaidi Shi'a Houthis of the north. According to a leaked February 23, 2010, U.S. embassy Muscat, Oman cable to the State Department, Feltman, in February 17 discussions with the Sultan of Oman and his advisers, stressed U.S. opposition to independence restoration for South Yemen. Omani Sultan Qabus bin Said gave Feltman a lesson on the history of South Yemen. The Sultan stated that "he had been personally involved in efforts to avert the 1994 civil war. The south entered the union because it calculated it would dominate the government, a calculation that proved wrong. The situation has been exacerbated because the north has neglected the south, especially after the north's victory in the war. Consequently, in the south today there are two schools developing. One is seeking greater autonomy within a united Yemen, and the other seeks independence."

However, things have changed since 2010 in the South. Officials of the former Marxist-led South Yemeni government have made common cause with the sultans and sheiks they toppled upon independence from Britain in 1967. Moreover, there are historical and traditional links between Oman and Saudi Arabia and the former sultanates of South Arabia.
There have been contacts between Saudi intelligence and Ageel bin Muhammad al-Badr Hamidaddin, the pretender to the Mutawakkilite throne of the former Kingdom of Yemen. Al-Badr, who is exiled in London, would command the instant loyalty of many Yemenis if he were to become the leader of the restored kingdom ruling over north Yemen. Al-Badr would also be well-disposed to the status quo ante of the restored independence of South Yemen in the form of a federation of Aden and the restored sultanates of the Hadhramaut region or as four separate countries: South Yemen or South Arabia, the Qua'iti State of Hadhramaut, the Mahra Sultanate of Qishn and Socotra, and the Kathiri State of Seiyun. In addition to the exiled pretender king playing more of a role in Yemeni affairs, Mohammad Hameed Al-Din, the grandson of Yahya Hameed Al-Din, the imam who ruled north Yemen from 1911 until 1948, recently returned to Yemen from exile in Saudi Arabia.


Stamp issued by the Kingdom of Yemen in 1963 depicting the once and possible future flag of Yemen.

The leaders of the three largest former sultanates of eastern South Arabia are now flexing their political muscles along with the pro-South independence movement Al-Hirak. The new "unity" government in Sana'a even includes members of Al-Hirak, which has taken control of the important Oil Ministry. Throughout Aden and other South Arabian cities, the flags of the former South Yemen and even the former sultanates are seen more than the discredited flag of Yemen. Al-Hirak has formed the Supreme Council of the Revolutionary and Peaceful Southern Movement. The council has demanded that the former president of South Yemen, Al-Beidh, be restored as the president of the South. The name "Yemen" is so unpopular in the south that those who demand independence restoration merely refer to the aspiring nation as the "South." Others use its former pre-independence name of "South Arabia."

Sultan Ghalib II bin Awadh al-Qu'aiti of the Qu'aiti State in Hadhramaut; Abdullah bin Isa, the would-be restored Sultan of the Mahra Sutanate of Qishn and Socotra, the latter a strategic island in the Gulf of Aden long sought by the U.S. Navy as a base; and Husayn ibn Ali, the aspirant restored sultan of the Kathiri State of Seiyun in Hadhramaut have all initiated plans to see the independence or autonomy of their sultanates restored in either an independent Hadhramaut federation or as part of a loose federal South Yemen/South Arabia with its capital in Aden.


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Left to right: The Qu'aiti Sultan Ghalib II, Abdullah bin Isa of the Mahra Sultanate of Qishn and Socotra, Sultan Husayn ibn Ali with the flag of the Kathiri State; Abdullah bin Isa surrounded by Mahra flags; and a sign denoting the border of Yemen and the Mahra Sultanate.


The Hadhramaut First/Hadhramaut League Forces emblem. The group seeks independence of the Hadhramaut. 

It is clear that Cohen and his Zionist colleagues' warning that further sanctions will be applied to "anyone who threatens the country's stability" is directed at the former monarchs -- imams, sultans, and sheiks of Yemen -- as well as the leaders of the Southern Movement (Al-Hirak) who reject the Feierstein plan. The Obama administration, in general, ignores the legitimate rights of the former South Yemen, the Hadhramaut, the Houthis, and the former Mutawakkilite kingdom. Some of the royalists and former Marxist South Yemeni republic leaders have sizable assets in London, Jeddah, Beirut, and other cities and Cohen's threat of seizing bank accounts is clearly not limited to Saleh and the two Houthi commanders.

Cohen is merely stepping into the shoes of the British Foreign Office, which solf South Arabia down the drain in 1967 when Britain, hasty to withdraw its forces from "East of Suez," left local administrations in South Arabia to fend for themselves amid a guerrilla war waged by nationalist independence forces. The communiqu├ęs between the Qu'aiti Sultan and London speak volumes of the treachery of Britain. Today, for South Arabia, that treachery has been assumed by the United States with the guiding hand of neocons and Zionists who take their orders from Jerusalem and George Soros.


The flag of the Qu'aiti Sultanate (not to be confused with the Emirate of Kuwait in the northern Persian Gulf) is being seen again in South Arabia.



Sultan Ghalib II once faced arbitary policies from London. He and his colleagues now face them from Washington.



Britain's 1967 treachery in South Arabia now being repeated by grotesque interference in Yemeni affairs by Zionists in the U.S. Treasury Department.




The Central Intelligence Agency has falsely claimed that the resurgence of nationalism by sultanate-based tribes in South Yemen is the work of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The charge is a bogus excuse for the CIA to attack the tribes with drones to extinguish their drive for self-determination. For the CIA, the attacks on the tribes are no different than the U.S. cavalry's genocide directed against the Native American tribes.


The CIA and Zionists like Feierstein, Cohen, and Szubin are determined to lie about tribal  restoration of states like Upper Yafa in South Arabia by calling it all "Al Qaeda." Zionists have always specialized in the "Big Lie."

Monday, November 10, 2014

U.S. contemplated viral weapons in 1969 by Wayne Madsen




U.S. contemplated viral weapons in 1969


At a hearing on June 9, 1969, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations heard testimony from Pentagon chemical and biological warfare officials calling for the inclusion of funds in the 1970 Defense Appropriations bill for the creation of "a new infective microorganism" that would be invulnerable to human immune systems. Dr. Donald M. MacArthur, the Deputy Director of the Department of Defense's Research and Engineering branch, testified that his efforts to create such a microorganism weapon that could defeat human immune defenses would cost $10 million over a five to ten year period. MacArthur was in charge of 76 Department of Defense laboratories at the time of his testimony.

Some ten years later, the world would be plagued by the Human Immondeficiency Virus (HIV)/A
cquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which plagued Africa, the gay community, heroin addicts, and hemophiliacs. More, recently, Ebola reached epidemic proportions in West Africa, with the virus being called "AIDS on steroids." The first case of Ebola was recorded in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1976.

MacArthur stated, on the record:
"Molecular biology is a field that is advancing very rapidly, and eminent biologists believe that within a period of 5 to 10 years it would be possible to produce a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired."

The official also stated, "Within a period of 5 to 10 years it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease…. A research program to explore the feasibility of this could be completed in approximately 5 years at a total cost of $10 million."

The program to jointly develop a synthetic microorganism weapon by the Department of Defense and the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (NAS/NRC)was postponed over the previous two years because of decreasing funding for the chemical and biological weapons program, "growing criticism" of the program, and a reluctance to involve the civilian NAS and NRC in the project.

MacArthur was joined in providing testimony to the subcommittee by Dr. B. Harris, Deputy Assistant Director for Chemical Technology within the Research and Engineering office; Dr. K. C. Emerson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Engineering; Brig. Gen. W. S. Stone, Jr., Director of Materiel Requirement for the Army Materiel Command; and Col. J. J. Osick, Chief of the Systems and Requirements Divsion of the Directorate of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Operations of the office of the Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development.

MacArthur's information was in answer to questions posed by Representative Robert Sikes (D-FL). Sikes represented the Florida panhandle where a number of military bases were located, including Pensacola Naval Air Station, Hurlburt Field, and Eglin Air Force Base. Sikes was known as a corrupt king of pork barrel projects and he was reprimanded in 1976 by the House for owning stock in defense companies that benefited from contracts he earmarked for his district.
  
Was the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick ground zero for the viral weapons of HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and deadly E-Z measles vaccine?


In addition to HIV/AIDS first being detected in Cuban troops returning from Angola, where they were fighting against Central Intelligence Agency-supported guerrillas, and in Zaire and Sudan in 1976, the Edmonston-Zagreb (E-Z) vaccine for measles administered 
by the World Health Organization in the late 1980s and early 1990s to infants in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Vietnam, Mexico, Philippines, Egypt, and Argentina. Infant girls in Africa were given twice the dose as boys and, because their immune systems were suppressed from 6 months to years, many of the female infants died. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente administered the E-Z vaccine to largely African American and Latino infants in Los Angeles. The parents of the infants in Los Angeles were never told that the measles vaccine was experimental. Dr. David Satcher, the director of the CDC, said, "a mistake was made," adding, "it shocked me." The U.S. military's development of microorganism weapons in the 1970s may have behind Satcher's reaction of shock to such testing programs on unwary individuals in Los Angeles and in Third World countries around the world.

As WMR reported on October 22, 
a leaked December 15, 2009 cable from the U.S. embassy in Berlin to the U.S. State and Defense Departments revealed that German authorities hesitated to permit the transfer of hemorrhagic fever cultures from a German bio-research firm to the suspected biological warfare laboratory at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland because the Germans feared the Army might "weaponize" the cultures. The German government specifically stated that the ability of Fort Detrick to "create replicating recombinant infectious species" of dangerous hemorrhagic viruses could violate international controls on the export of dangerous weapons of mass destruction that are enforced by the Australia Group of signatories to biological, chemical, and nuclear export treaties.
On October 16, the White House announced that it was cutting off funding to risky government experimentation that studied certain infectious agents by making them more dangerous.







Sunday, November 09, 2014

THE ROVING EYE - Lame-duck Obama's brave new world By Pepe Escobar



THE ROVING EYE
Lame-duck Obama's brave new world
By Pepe Escobar

Fresh out of his latest Congressional election shellacking delivered by the minority who bothered to vote in the United States, the formerly most powerful leader in the world, US President Barack Obama, will star in a thriller this weekend, appearing in the same room with China's Xi Jinping, Japan's Shinzo Abe and - fasten your seat belts - Russia's Vladimir Putin.

What a drag - the Bomber-In-Chief must be musing. The global economy is mostly a disaster. China, even growing at "only" 7% a year, keeps eroding his "indispensable nation" aura. Japan has decided to copy the Federal Reserve and embark on its own kamikaze version of quantitative easing. Numerous Southeast Asian nations keep freaking out about a few rocks in the South China Sea.

And last but not least, Obama's nemesis, pesky Vlad "the Hammer" Putin, has just been crowned Most Powerful Leader in the world - even if for the most stupid reasons ("unpredictable" head of a "rogue state") [1] - while he, the Nobel Peace Prize leader of the exceptionalist, indispensable nation, is now nothing but a pitiful lame duck.

The get-together, extended to Monday and Tuesday, will be the highlight of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing - actually, outside of Beijing, so presumably unpolluted blue skies may also have a chance at the photo op. This is APEC's 25th birthday. And the 20th birthday of the Indonesian summit in Bogor - I happened to be there - which, under Bill Clinton's flowery charm, set the 21-member APEC nations a goal of "free" and open trade and investment by 2020. "Free" as in US corporations dictating the rules, of course.

What the whole planet really wants to know about APEC is whether The Lame Duck with meet The Bear face to face, one on one. The White House remains mum. The Kremlin did not rule it out. Well, there's always Plan B: the Group of 20 summit on November 15-16 in Brisbane, Australia.

What the whole planet already knows is that the new slimy show premiering on Capitol Hill on January 2015 has a top priority: the Republicans will do everything in their power to make the lame duck cry for mercy over and over again. So what will this mean in terms of Obama's self-styled "Don't Do Stupid Stuff" foreign policy doctrine, which that 2016 juggernaut known as "The Hillarator" has already derided as a "non-organizational principle"? Just extra layers of cosmic stupidity, or something more substantial?

That old axis of evil
Let's start with The Caliph, aka Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Obama already said, after his shellacking, he is going to seek Congressional authorization for his coalition of the cowards bombing IS - aka Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or Daesh, the jiahdi outfit's Arabic acronym

Now that's not a dumb move. If Republican-ruled Congress says "yes", they will be responsible for the fiasco (and it's already a fiasco). If they say "no", the fiasco can be attributed to their irresponsibility.

Republicans are immersed in their own internal split - the boots-on-the-ground favored by the establishment against the non-interventionist Tea Party. So in the end, the lame duck may profit from it after all.

Iran is a much dicier proposition. It all depends on a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) being reached in a little over two weeks, on November 24. That's a taller-than-the-Himalayas order, although feasible. The Obama administration is desperate for a deal - as the leak of a "secret letter" from Obama to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei attests. But a deal under Washington's terms, which for Tehran is unacceptable. [2]

The new US Senate only takes over in January. Obama has already stressed he won't ask the Senate to ratify the deal. Once again, the problem is what deal? Obama's idea of a grand design in the Middle East is to use a "responsible" - according to US standards - Tehran to balance the Sunni-Shi'ite divide and get rid of the current proxy wars, the whole thing arbitrated by Washington. This is a pipe dream. But it's what the lame duck wants.

Needless to say, Republicans - for whom Tehran never left the "axis of evil" - will try to bomb the dream, pipelines and all, for instance by passing legislation preventing the lifting of key sanctions. Sparks will fly. Tehran won't accept a nuclear deal where Washington just says "take my word for it, we will lift sanctions"; this has to be in the letter of the agreement. After all they have vast experience of dealing with gun-crazy Republicans in power.

Nothing will change on Russia - even as the Obama administration needs Moscow to get a deal with Tehran. The relentless demonization of Putin and the resurgence of the same old Cold War meme, "The Russians are Coming", are guaranteed to keep propelling stupidity 24/7 to intergalactic spheres.

Capitol Hill will go on overdrive. After all, Russia demonization is a bipartisan sport in Washington. The only "solution" would be regime change. Not only is Putin not going anywhere, but he's ratcheting up his defiance of the Empire of Chaos. This implies increased problems with Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel keeps appeasing the Americans while German businesses want increased trade with Russia and Eurasia as a whole.

Another China win-win? 
On trade, here's where APEC collides with the two-pronged US version of an economic NATO: the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Asia.

What the Obama administration is fighting for is nothing less than a totally unregulated global marketplace. Imagine the "free" market - as Bill "Bubba" Clinton was already parading in Indonesia two decades ago - setting all sorts of standards on everything from working conditions to the environment. In theory, that's exactly what Republicans love. So here Obama would be right in their alley, which implies an easy Senate ratification.

It's actually way more complicated. Republicans simply cannot stomach an Obama victory. That means this upcoming Senate won't give him the fast track he needs to clinch the TPP deal.

That happens to be exactly what China wants. Beijing will use APEC to promote the road map for its own, anti-TPP trade deal, the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). TPP involves 12 APEC members - but not China. And even inside TPP there's a monster revolt; Tokyo is battling the US because they Japan is sure its auto industry and agriculture may be devoured by US corporations.

So we're right into a titanic Transformer-style Battle of the Deals. In fact any deal is problematic, as China, Japan and South Korea may want, in principle, broader economic cooperation. But on trade, in so many levels, they are fiercely competing against each other - as in the auto industry and agriculture, for instance - not to mention that heavy historical baggage between Japan and China and Japan and South Korea.

The Chinese charm offensive at APEC in Beijing is all about "innovative development", "building infrastructure investment" and "comprehensive connectivity". It's all a mirror image of the extremely ambitious New Silk Roads proposed by President Xi to connect Eurasia.

Beijing is proposing a new "connectivity framework" into three key areas - "physical connectivity, institutional connectivity, and people-to-people connectivity". But still no one knows how this will work out in practice towards Asia integration. Washington doesn't care; it just wants a "free" unregulated mega-market for US corporations.

Beijing sees Asian economic integration as APEC facilitating an FTAAP by 2025. Needless to say, the US and a few vassals aboard the TPP have been adamant that no regional deal jeopardizes TPP. Washington was betting on TPP being signed before APEC. It didn't happen. So Plan B is to boycott FTAAP until TPP is signed. And that Beijing won't allow. The lame duck will have to duck a lot on his one-on-one with Xi in Beijing.

Finally, what about the Obama-Capitol Hill battle on the climate-change field? For the absolute majority of Republicans, climate change and global warming are nothing but an evil conspiracy. End of story.

The lame duck and Capitol Hill at least may agree on - what else - the Global War on Terror. Pentagon supremo Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently said the US should get ready for endless wars, as "tyranny", "terrorism", national security challenges and - surprise! - climate change pose a substantial "threat".

Since 2002, the Pentagon has been saying to anyone who was bothered to listen that Endless War is the only deal in town - or the universe, for that matter. The lame duck might even fraternize about it with his Republican nemeses over the odd round of golf. What a wonderful (lame duck) world this would be.

Notes:
1. Putin Vs. Obama: The World's Most Powerful People 2014, Forbes, November 5, 2014.
2. Obama Wrote Secret Letter to Iran's Khamenei About Fighting Islamic State, Wall Street Journal Online (subscription).

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.