Welcome to the post-Westphalian world

It is plain silly to pretend that we don’t know when we all know that we all know.

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The era of Western domination is coming to an end.” Western elites “should lift their sights from their domestic civil wars and focus on the larger global challenges. Instead, they are, in various ways, accelerating their irrelevance and disintegration.”

Western elites cannot but worry when central banks in China, Russia, India and Turkey actively increase their physical gold stash; when Moscow and Beijing discuss launching a gold-backed currency system to replace the US dollar; when the IMF warns that the debt burden of the global economy has reached $237 trillion; when the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warns that, on top of that there is also an ungraspable $750 trillion in additional debt outstanding in derivatives.

Mahbubani states the obvious: “The era of Western domination is coming to an end.” Western elites, he adds, “should lift their sights from their domestic civil wars and focus on the larger global challenges. Instead, they are, in various ways, accelerating their irrelevance and disintegration.”

Meanwhile, Eurasian integration, as depicted in Diesen’s book, is slowly but surely redefining the future.

June 6, 2018

Key economic forums in cities across Eurasia point the way to new power structures rising to challenge Western dominance

Ahead of the crucial Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao this coming weekend, three other recent events have offered clues on how the new world order is coming about.

The Astana Economic Forum in Kazakhstan centered on how mega-partnerships are changing world trade. Participants included the president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Jin Liqun; Andrew Belyaninov from the Eurasian Development Bank; former Italian Prime Minister and president of the EU Commission Romano Prodi; deputy director-general of the WTO Alan Wolff; and Glenn Diesen from the University of Western Sydney.

Diesen, a Norwegian who studied in Holland and teaches in Australia, is the author of a must-read book, Russia’s Geoeconomic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia, in which he analyzes in excruciating detail how Moscow is planning “to manage the continent from the heartland by enhancing collective autonomy and influence, and thus evict US hegemony directed from the periphery.”

In parallel, as Diesen argues, Moscow aims “to ensure the sustainability of an integrated Eurasia by establishing a balance of power or ‘balance of dependence’ to prevent the continent from being dominated by one power, with China being the most plausible candidate.”

In a nutshell; this New Great Game installment revolves around “Russia’s strategy to enhance its bargaining power with the West by pivoting to the East.”

Concerning Astana, Diesen told me that the AIIB’s Liqun “took the hardest stance in defense of diversifying financial instruments, while Belyaninov was very critical of anti-Russian sanctions.”

Diesen argues that: “The emergence of economic mega-blocks actually improves economic relations by creating more symmetry. For example, China’s CIPS (Cross-Border Interbank Payment System) undermined the ability of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) to be used for economic coercion, while CIPS and SWIFT still cooperate. Similarly, the EAEU [Eurasia Economic Union] gets its strength from the ability to integrate with other regions as opposed to isolating itself.”

And here’s the clincher: “China’s cooperation with the EAEU mitigates Russian concerns about asymmetries, and enables greater EAEU-BRI [Belt and Road Initiative] integration under the stewardship of the SCO. Also, unlike the EU, the EAEU provides great benefit to non-members (non-zero sum) by creating an effective transportation corridor with harmonized tariffs, standards, etc.”

Diesen remarked how Liqun, a key character in the whole game, “is very positive about the Eurasian Economic Union and insistent on the positive-sum game of integration of regions.” Liqun is “direct, honest and forceful” and does not refrain from criticizing the Trump administration, arguing “there is not a trade war between the US and China, it is a US trade war against the world.”

Add to the debate the crucial Astana headline, ignored by Western corporate media: Iran signed a provisional free-trade-zone agreement with the EAEU, lowering or abolishing customs duties, and opening the way for a final deal in 2021. For Iran, that will be a golden ticket to do business way beyond Southwest Asia, integrating it further with Russia and also Kazakhstan, which happens to be a key member of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

All about Eurasian integration

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is the annual Russian equivalent of Davos. Predictably, coverage on Western media was appalling – at best rehashing bits and pieces of the joint press conference held by presidents Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron.

There was no mention, as Asia Times previously reported, of how Moscow was instrumental in ironing out differences between North and South Korea at the Far East summit in Vladivostok last September, impressing the need for a win-win regional business plan; the integration of the Trans-Siberian with a future Trans-Korean railway, a key plank of Eurasia integration.

When it comes to tracking Eurasia integration, SPIEF is invaluable. The St Petersburg get-together has also been a traditional forum for key SCO discussions. One panel illustrated how the Shanghai forum is fast advancing on the trade and economic front; new members India and Pakistan are now very much active in the SCO Business Council. The discussion of the business, industrial and technological agenda for observer states was also important; that’s where Iran, a future full SCO member, fits in.

Eurasia integration also featured on another panel about new logistical routes opened by international transport corridors – very much the stuff BRI and the EAEU are made of.

And the BRICS revival was also part of the picture, as attested by this panel on the BRICS in Africa “leveraging the Fourth Industrial Revolution” for economic development, featuring the president of the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB), Kundapur Kamath, and Jiakang Sun, the executive vice-president of Chinese giant COSCO Shipping Corp.

Yet the clincher in terms of possible game-changing relations between Russia and Europe came from Finance Minister and first deputy Prime Minister Anton Siluanov: “As we see, restrictions imposed by the American partners are of an extraterritorial nature. The possibility of switching from the US dollar to the euro in settlements depends on Europe’s stance toward Washington’s position.”

So once again the EU was on the spot – on both crucial fronts, Iran and Russia. Siluanov left the door wide open: “If our European partners declare their position unequivocally, we could definitely see a way to use the European common currency for financial settlements, such as payments for goods and services, which today are often subject to restrictions.”

Siluanov did not fail to mention that Russia, as much as China and Iran, is already bypassing the US dollar. That accounts for three crucial nodes of Eurasian integration, and that’s the way to go for BRI, EAEU, SCO and BRICS.

The Indo-Pacific enigma

Meanwhile, the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore has been the top venue for defense diplomacy debate in the Asia-Pacific since 2001.

With the “Indo-Pacific” concept is hyped to the extreme, it was up to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the keynote speaker, to strike a deft balancing act.

Even as Modi said the Indo-Pacific should not develop as an exclusive club, he took pains to stress that “Asia and the world will have a better future when India and China work together in trust and confidence. No other relationship of India has as many layers as our relationship with China.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed the “Indo-Pacific” push as an “attention-grabbing idea” that will “dissipate like ocean foam,” as he hopes that the Quad – US, India, Japan, Australia – does not focus on targeting China, like the previous Obama administration “pivot to Asia.”

The problem is the Indo-Pacific focus, in practice, amounts to a military counterpunch to BRI, with no wide-ranging economic cooperation dimension apart from sketchy plans for a “new global infrastructure.” Compare it, for instance, with China financing over 130 projects within the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation framework, integrating Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam into the Chinese economy.

BRI is a multi-trillion-dollar, multinational, decades-long, inclusive project. As Wang Yiwei, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of the Renmin University of China, said “All SCO members are participating in BRI, and this organization [SCO] is the initiative’s security guarantee.”

Yet when it comes to the Indo-Pacific sphere, the US, Japan and Australia are not SCO members. And India still refuses to acknowledge the SCO is interlinked with BRI.

Moreover, everything about BRI cannot but clash front-on with the depth and reach of the US across Asia. So the security stress is inevitable. The 10-nation ASEAN, caught in the middle, is adopting at best a “wait and see” strategy. Indonesia at least is venturing a step ahead, promoting a non-confrontational “Indo-Pacific cooperation concept.”

The bottom line is that China’s relentless drive to multiply Chinese-organized solutions in international relations is unstoppable. As in Wang Yi’s discreet but forceful diplomacy leading to Kim Jong-un’s first visit to China; President Xi solidifying his role as the go-to leader of globalization 2.0; and the Chinese leadership as a whole arguing that the future of Asia-Pacific security cannot be hostage to a Cold War 2.0 mentality.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ warning to China in Singapore of “much larger consequences” if its sovereignty expansion across virtually the whole South China Sea is not contained may be an idle threat. Beijing has no intention to restrict freedom of navigation in the South China Sea; for a mercantile giant, that would be counter-productive. The whole game is about high-stakes geopolitical control. Even the new head of the renamed US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson, had to admit to the US Senate that short of war between China and the US, Beijing will prevail in the South China Sea.

Welcome to the post-Westphalian world

In his latest, avowedly “provocative” slim volume, Has the West Lost It? former Singaporean ambassador to the UN and current Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the National University, Kishore Mahbubani frames the key question: “Viewed against the backdrop of the past 1,800 years, the recent period of Western relative over-performance against other civilizations is a major historical aberration. All such aberrations come to a natural end, and that is happening now.”

It is enlightening to remember that at the Shangri-la Dialogue two years ago, Professor Xiang Lanxin, director of the Centre of One Belt and One Road Studies at the China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, described BRI as an avenue to a ‘post-Westphalian world.’

That’s where we are now. Western elites cannot but worry when central banks in China, Russia, India and Turkey actively increase their physical gold stash; when Moscow and Beijing discuss launching a gold-backed currency system to replace the US dollar; when the IMF warns that the debt burden of the global economy has reached $237 trillion; when the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warns that, on top of that there is also an ungraspable $750 trillion in additional debt outstanding in derivatives.

Mahbubani states the obvious: “The era of Western domination is coming to an end.” Western elites, he adds, “should lift their sights from their domestic civil wars and focus on the larger global challenges. Instead, they are, in various ways, accelerating their irrelevance and disintegration.”

Meanwhile, Eurasian integration, as depicted in Diesen’s book, is slowly but surely redefining the future.

Israelis are doing to Palestinians what Nazis did to Jews during WWII

We are talking about an murderous system that is institutionalized at all levels of the state that repeatedly defines itself as ‘The Jewish State.’ -Gilad Atzmon

The level of military control exercised over the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, has only otherwise been seen prior to incidents of genocide, where such measures were used to imprison populations completely.-The Biggest Prison on Earth

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“Israeli actions in Gaza are similar to those perpetrated against Jewish people during Nazi persecution, there is no difference between the atrocity faced by the Jewish people in Europe 75 years ago and the brutality that our Gaza brothers are subjected to” Turkish President Erdogan said on Friday.

To be an effective activist, it is important to understand the nature of human evil. In Hannah Arendt’s own discoveries about what she coined, ‘the banality of evil’ in her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem , reporting on the Zionist trial of Adolph Eichmann who oversaw the deportation of Jews to ghettos and concentration camps.

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Arendt concluded that unspeakable evil is not committed by human monsters but by normal people in a systematic unthinking manner devoid of moral qualms and codes.

‘The banality of evil’ i.e. bureaucratic psychopathy is rendered acceptable through what Albert Bandura terms, moral disengagement  achieved by perverse moral justification, minimizing/ hiding cruelty and dehumanizing and blaming the victims.

The concentration and repetition of this faux information on the masses leads to the normalization of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, torture, extrajudicial killings and genocide.

Today, moral disengagement is the corrupted norm of most governments, whether democratic or totalitarian, and the Zionist government has, ironically, out-mastered the Nazi mechanisms of moral disengagement or in a word, Hasbara.

Here’s a small insight into how it works; take MK Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party that is in coalition with Netanyahu’s Likud party. Lapid recently spruiked to 30 EU ambassadors,

“We will never be like them [Palestinians], because Israel’s power comes first of all from its morality. The difference between us and our enemies is our values. That is why we can ask the world: Why are you continuing to embrace those who support vile murderers?”

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The knife scam: IDF shoots then plants knife. Blaming the victim: there isn’t anything blamed on others that Israel hasn’t already done.

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Blaming the victims

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Of course any intelligent person knows that in the laying waste of the rights of indigenous people of Palestine, Zionist ‘values’ are void of morality: the Zionist values of imprisoning and torturing children, of unjustified mass incarcerations, the Zionist value of apartheid, of demolishing homes, of stealing Palestinian land, of testing high-tech weaponry on Palestinian families trapped in the Zionist siege of Gaza.

Then there are the Zionist values of immolating a teenager and a sleeping Palestinian family, of destroying Palestinian agriculture and livelihoods, of the extrajudicial killings of youth throwing stones and carrying invisible knives, of deliberately blocking ambulances and paramedics to treat the wounded, of calculatedly bringing hunger striking Palestinian prisoners, such as Mohammed Al-Qiq,  to the brink of death before granting, if at all, a release from imprisonment for crimes never committed.

According to non-practising Israeli, Dr Marcelo Svirsky, moral disengagement is rife among the occupiers,

“The majority of Jewish-Israelis do not critically reflect on their lasting commitment to their collective beliefs, ideas and practices and hence they do not take notice that these are vehicles of privilege and oppression. In other words, most Jewish-Israelis choose, unconsciously or not, to live in peace with the misery they cause.”

And when Palestinians show true values of sumoud – steadfast and courageous resistance to Zionist ‘values’ and violence, they are falsely labelled ‘terrorists’ or ‘vile murderers’.

And the witnesses in Jerusalem who testified to resistance and rebellion, to “the small place [it had] in the history of the holocaust,” confirmed once more the fact that only the very young had been capable of taking “the decision that we cannot go and be slaughtered like sheep. “

 Jewish resistance in Warsaw Ghetto to Nazi occupation
Jewish resistance in Warsaw Ghetto to Nazi occupation

 The glorious resistance of the young calls to mind the present Palestinian youth Intifada against 70 years of Zionist brutality at the hands of holocaust survivors and worshipers and against the 21 years of Palestinian Authority/PLO collaboration ( like the Judenräte)  with the Zionists that has facilitated the growth of Zionist colonial expansion and the crushing of Palestinian resistance.

Palestinian resistance to zionist occupation

Palestinian resistance to Zionist occupation

Undaunted, Palestinian resistance is in the breath of daily life under the Zionist jackboot; going to school is an act of resistance where children are harassed by the savagery of the deviant Zionist colonists who prey on them like wild jackals. These deviants reflect the pathological sickness that is Zionism.

Resistance illuminates the dignified ultimatum of Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners, al-Issawi, Adnan and Al-Qiq, for freedom or death, resistance is heard in the dangerous digging of life-blood tunnels, resistance raises money by impoverished Palestinians to rebuild the demolished homes of martyrs, it is smelt in the baking of bread and felt in the shaking of olives from ancient trees, in the indefatigable care and courage  by doctors, paramedics and rescuers during the 51 day zionist onslaught of Gaza and in the soothing of terrified children traumatized by drones, bombs and ubiquitous death.

There was a tremendous uplift of pride for the young Gazan men who valiantly resisted the military might of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. That spirit is being acted on by Palestinian youth today while the PA leaders squander Palestinian dignity and the crucial strategy of unity by either collaborating  with the zionists or crawling on their knees to Arab states that don’t give a damn about Palestine.

So how can we resist the banality of evil to protect the rights of Palestinians and further peace in Palestine for all?

Zionist values and the hasbara machine dread empathy. Empathy engages with suffering and survivors of Nazi atrocities and their descendants have the privileged capacity to realize there is no difference  between suffering under the Nazi or the Zionist jackboot – both of which made and make strides because the machinations of moral disengagement duped the German people back then, just as the Jewish people are duped today along with British, Canadian, American, European, Australian citizens whose governments grant impunity to the Zionist scourge in Palestine.

Empathy is power. Empathy’s identification and connection with the Other evokes profound understanding of the interdependence of humanity which transforms moral concern into actions, like BDS, that, individually and communally, can defeat moral disengagement and the banality of evil.

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palestinematters

Trump was served legal notice warning of Israeli false flag operation

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This notice, it is pointed out, will be “EXHIBIT 1 in any war crimes investigation and prosecution (past, present, future) relating to this matter.” There are, it is claimed, “national and international legal violations” involved.

In the lead-up to the May 10 skirmish—just after the Trump administration exited the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear agreement—Israeli officials began warning of an impending Iranian attack from inside Syria. Then, within hours of the ensuing firefight, an Israeli army spokesman announced that the elite “Quds Force” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had fired 20 missiles into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, after which Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman boasted that “we hit nearly all Iranian infrastructures in Syria.”

May 15 2018

The US President is reminded that he is expected to advise the US Congress, the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court in The Hague  about this legal matter. He is warned “that ‘false flag’ attacks may be used by Israeli agents in order to assign blame to Palestinian factions and escalate the ongoing protests in Gaza and the West Bank into a larger conflict in order to falsely draw the United States and American military personnel into this artificially created conflict.”

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2018

Such an attack, claim those behind the legal notice, “represents a clear and present danger to the citizens of the United States of America, because it may be designed to trigger and escalate American military actions against Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Russia, since these nations are opposed to the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem; and rising tensions already exacerbated by the US withdrawal from the [nuclear deal with Iran].”

The initiation of this impending attack, Trump has been told, will involve a new and higher level massacre of Palestinian civilians protesting against the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Furthermore, the letter serves as “Legal Notice [that] the United States can have no military alliance due to the fact that Israel has no internationally recognized fixed territorial borders which are required to be defined in such an agreement.”

This notice, it is pointed out, will be “EXHIBIT 1 in any war crimes investigation and prosecution (past, present, future) relating to this matter.” There are, it is claimed, “national and international legal violations” involved.

The signatories cite a number of publications as evidence of the seriousness of their claims and warning to the President, and seek legal protection for themselves against “any retaliation, detainment, investigation, sequestration, interrogation, discrimination, imprisonment, torture, financial consequences, or any other negative or prejudicial consequences or actions taken against them.” Indeed, the former government and military officers and officials seek “whistle-blower protection” because they are “fulfilling [their] oaths to the US Constitution.”